Tag Archives: queer

Costuming

The last couple of Octobers’ my fiance Lyndsie and I have had a blast dressing up and doing Halloween photo shoots. FYI, you’re never too old to play dress up, and I highly recommend letting LOOSE and letting that inner freak (or ghoul or witch) OUT.  Or just watch us do that in this video I made, and judge us for it. 😛 Because unique to this year, I actually have a video camera, so I was able to film some of our costuming endeavours this weekend.

Also, if you’d be so kind, let me know which costume(s) you like best (or if you have an idea that’s even BETTER with some of the clothing items, facepaint & accessories you see us in) TELL US and help us decide what to go out in next weekend.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ❤

xox

HJL

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My love hate relationship with the North

IMG_2918There is a tiny icicle on each individual eyelash. The steam around me billows up and disappears into the never-ending white. White fog, white fields, white tipped Pines, white powdered hills, snow covered mountains. Snow. Snow everywhere.

It’s falling too, all around me. Tiny spidery snowflakes, falling from whispy white clouds above. Ice cold fluff.

I keep my body submerged under water, hot steaming chlorified water up to my chin. My head and ears are covered with thick rainbow fauxfur, the rest of me is naked. My skin glistening, pale, pale white under the foaming hot tub water. The only sound for miles is someone driving through powder on a snowmobile, that distinct hum I remember so well from childhood. There is no one around, no people, no bears: it’s February and everyone is in hibernation. If there was anyone around, I’d know, there is no sneaking up on me here, the neighbour’s dog team would go berserk. Even the Huskeys are quiet today, and the silence stretches on and on. I find it eerie. A giant tar black raven soars through the mist and finds his perch on the tallest of the tiny Yukon trees. In my mind, It threatens to snap under his bodyweight, but these trees are stronger than I give them credit, older and wiser too.

The raven watches me.

I watch him back, intently.

I didn’t think I would say this in my lifetime, but I’m back. I am back here living in my hometown, Whitehorse, Yukon, and it is even colder than I remember.

I’ve been here one week and already been exposed to seven days of 30 below perhaps a high of -25 somewhere (but they say it’s minus 45 with wind chill anyway). My older brother warns me not to listen to those radio announcers, they no nothing. It’s not thaat cold.

I’ve already managed to back my car right into a snowbank and got it stuck (thank goodness my Dad has the equipment to tow me out!).

I’m just not a winter person. I like snow for a minute, then I am over it. I like to look it, through the glass, in a painting maybe, on the screen of the television while watching a winter movie but all from the comfort of my warm home when I am living somewhere hot or at the very least, warmer, a more mild Canadian climate. Yes, I’ll admit, I miss Vancouver already.

Sure, I like some winter activities. I love snowboarding. But I like it when you can go to the snow, find it on the mountain, escape it when you come back down. I like snowboarding when it’s minus 5 or minus 10, maybe. I can barely last five minutes outside in this weather.IMG_2901

It’ll get better.

Right?!

As I sit and observe the white all around me, I contemplate life.

I feel a warmth inside knowing my brother and his wife live right down the street, just a stroll away. My other brother and his wife, a short drive away. My grandma is just across the field. My parents are a staircase and a knock away.

I’ve been away from my family for too long. The distance created its own kind of silence, and I am relieved for a chance to reconnect.

I’ve realized family is extremely important to me, even if not all of them, ‘get me’, or accept me fully.

I feel an unexpected excitement to reinvent myself here. The person I was when I lived here seven years ago is so different from the person I became in Vancouver. But that person is also gone. It’s to time to connect the dots, connect all the partial Heidi’s along the way. Become whole, or at least continue to grow. I’m ready to reconnect with my past, and examine all the guilt, the shame, the fear, the closeted anxiety. All this weird shit I’ve bottled up and attached to this place.

The small-town homophobia. Judgement. Gossip.

The knowing, anytime you leave the house, you will probably run into someone you knew from before: an old co-worker, an ex-friend’s parent, thousands of acquaintances who you know little to nothing about besides there name- or their most recent Facebook status, if you kept up on the CreepTrain, but you know, that they’ll know, or they’ll find out, and they’ll think of you differently.

I will be queer here, just as I am there. People will see it differently, treat me differently, of this I have always been afraid.

I will try to embrace my difference.

And I will try to embrace this cold.

I will search in the silence for the words I’ve been lacking-

The ones that have been swept up by the constant city buzz, the lights, the sound, the beats and lines and constant drip, of alcohol, the club scene I’ve left behind.

I’ve given up alcohol for the next four months, too. Wish me luck.

It’s not as a dark here, as I remember.

The sun shines brightly everyday, and I think to myself, at least, I will not miss the rain.

I will scan the white horizon for inspiration and hope.

Hope that we will all just be okay.

Hope that I will be able to write more here.

Inspire change here.

Hope that I will learn to love the cold again, or that spring and summer will just come sooner.

From across the hills, I see a shimmer of colour, the reflection of a tiny rainbow.

Maybe it’s just me.

HJL

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15 Resolutions for 2015

Number 5 has always been my favourite number and naturally any number containing a five, or multiples of five, so I’m automatically inclined to think 2015 is going to be an amazing year!

It’s also the year of the sheep/goat in the Chinese Zodiac, which if you read these things/believe them, which I do sometimes depending on the day and my mood- 2015 is MY year and all my fellow bah-bah-bah-emotional woolies, which means we are destined to succeed. And even if it is not destiny per say, this is the kind of positive thinking that will materialize, right? 😉 Okay goats, we GOT THIS!!!

To the goal setting: every year I have the same resolutions as everybody else, the eye-roll-inducing cliche ones, at least the big three. Eat Healthier, Work Out More, Ultimately Lose Weight. I mean I have other resolutions too usually pertaining to my writing and other artistic endeavours, but this year I really want to switch the focus. In 2014 I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression and feeling alone and disconnected from the world. Ultimately, in 2015 I want to make my year about family, community, and togetherness. I also want to make it about savings, and paving a way to the future I want. Kids, a house, a houseful of love AKA pets. I also want to make more time for guilt-free FUN activities, new friendships, and community building. I want to drink less, and give up all other recreational substances I dabble in from time to time which means NO MORE “I only smoke when I drink” I’m a nonsmoker now, all round.

MY 2015 RESOLUTIONS -listview-

1. Move to the Yukon (this is totally attainable because I’ve already booked my plane ticket! Feb 1st, baby, ahhhhh, all the nerves!)

2.Spend more time with Family (doable this year because I’ll actually be living in the same territory as most of them!)

3. Keep in touch with old friends, and family/friends living far away. Make it a priority to Skype at least once a month.

4. Train my puppy- go to puppy classes, obedience training, spend lots of time, snuggles, treats and wags, because she’s worth every minute.

5. Rediscover the Yukon Arts scene, join an acting class, improv troupe, writing group, or some kind of weekly arts community gathering.

6. Play more games. – purchase and/or obtain Scrabble & host many a board games night.

7. Don’t stop singing. Last year one of my resolutions was to sing more, and I’ve definitely achieved that being a part of the amazing Femme City Choir. But, as I am moving far far away and will not be able to be a part of their awesomeness, I vow to continue singing even if it is just in the shower.

8. Cook more! Doable, because a) I will be living outside of walkable pickup and/or delivery range and b) it’s Whitehorse there’s not a whole lot of restaurants to choose from!

9. Join a soccer league (or 2)

10. Spend LOTS of time in nature. Snowshoeing, sledding, skating, camping, kayaking, swimming, berry-picking, fishing…

11. Go to at least one Queer Yukon event, make connections, perhaps help organize future events & workshops

12. Connect with people in the Yukon film scene

13. Collaborate with someone on a creative project

14. Read more! Story, book, & author recommendations ALWAYS appreciated 🙂

15. And as always, WRITE MORE> This year I will try to write more short stories, scripts, and poems, rewrite old works, and continue blogging, which I promise will be a little more regular than the sporadic posts of 2014.

Thanks for reading! And best of luck with all of your goals and adventures of 2015.

xoxo

HJL

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

December can be a stressful month for lots of reasons, but a big one is all of the added expenses: holiday get togethers, Christmas parties, staff parties, “Secret Santas”, co-workers to buy for, friends to buy for, family members to buy for, extended family to buy for… If you are someone who likes to give out presents (or even if you just feel pressured to get everyone something because you know at least some of them are going to get something for you) just remember gifts don’t have to be expensive, you don’t even have to buy them! I challenge you to make someone a homemade present this December.

When you think of a ‘homemade’ gift what comes to mind? Finger-painting and macaroni crafts? When was the last time you gave someone a genuine hand-crafted present. Homemade gifts shouldn’t be something we grow out of just because we have jobs. I for one, LOVE to receive homemade creations. It really means the world when someone takes the time and puts the energy and love into making something especially for you.

Before you go and start making excuses like, “but I’m not creative enough” there are lots of homemade gifts that are simple, practical, and amazing for all different people on your ‘to-buy-for’ list. Here are some ideas- and just so you know, I would be ECSTATIC to receive anything off this list. Hint hint, nudge nudge 😉

1. Homemade Holiday Baking

A basket or tin of sweet treats will make all the dessert lovers on your list squeal with glee.

Here are some Christmas classics: shortbread cookies, butter tarts, chocolate chip or m&m cookies, Nanaimo bars, haystacks, and gingersnaps.

But there are loads of other options to choose from, the internet is at your disposal with recipes galore! You could even charm the Vegan GlutenFree folks on your list using some of the amazing recipes off this awesome gluten-free recipe blog.

2. Knitted -Anything

If you can knit, the possibilities are endless. Hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, socks, leg-warmers. Seriously, knitted stuff is awesome, but since not all of us can knit here’s another option

3. A Drawing or Painting

Original Art = the best.

4. Poetry

Write a poem for someone, send it in the mail. Frame it.

5. Scrapbooks!

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Not only are scrapbooks super fun to make, they are incredible to look through. You could make one for a family member, friend, or partner. Print off photos from Facebook, or find old photographs from that dusty box you’ve had stashed away. Write in quotes and memories, add drawings, stickers, old ticket stubs, anything, just personalize it, make it special, and they will LOVE it.

6. Calendars

I’ve made lots of homemade calendars, and they make the best presents! They’re so practical. The person you give it to can use it for the whole year, and they are super easy to make. You can design the calendar on Microsoft Word on your computer, add photos, quotes, poetry, anything and print the whole thing out. Or you can use post it notes like the picture above, or just print out the 2015 Calendar pages and make the pretty photo page scrapbook style with some scissors and gluestick. Does your friend really love pugs? Do they love kittens? bridges or architecture? Do they love sexy firefighters holding babies- sure you can buy some of these calendars in the store but you can’t buy one with a combination of all different things that this person loves, but you could make one 😀

7. Word of the Day Calendar

For all your literary word-guzzling folks. I had this idea because I’ve always wanted one of these, but they are actually really hard to find, but VOILA, easy to make. Sure it will take some time and energy on your part, but you’ll also learn stuff in the process- just use the web, or a dictionary. You could do 365 silly words, or words that aren’t used as much anymore, or just totally random. If you speak another language you could do a translation one, to help that person on your list get started on their endeavour of learning another language.

You could make a homemade joke-of-the day calendar, or quote of the day, haiku or dirty limerick of the day (that would AWESOME btw).

8. Homemade Body Products

You could make homemade soap, shampoo, lotion, lipchap, etc.

9. Candles

Check out those homemade rainbow candles, perfect for those PROUD queers on your list 😀 And have you ever made a beeswax candle? They smell amazing when you burn them…

10. Homemade Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity Cards

I was at a birthday party recently and some clever individuals brought personalized Cards Against Humanity cards which made for a great present, and a hilarious game. Make a holiday version that you can pull out and play and get everybody laughing!

11. Homemade Tarot Cards

Know someone who reads tarot? Perfect. All you need to know is all the cards and suits that need to be there. Put some love and magic into it. Draw or paint the cards, print out images, write inspirational words or quotes.

12. Jewelry

Beaded, braided, hemp, metal, feather, shells; you could make necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, keychains, and more!

13. Carved Creations

Can you carve or widdle? You could make wooden art, or coasters, or a homemade back-scratcher!

14. Homemade Pet Toys or Treats

For all those pet lovers on your list. Make a mouse or feather wand, a doggy cupcake (seriously there’s recipes online) a scratching post, or stuffed toy. Cute!

15. JAM

My brother gave me homemade jam for Christmas once, and I thought what a perfect present. Thoughtful, sweet, and delicious!

Do you have other homemade gift suggestions? Please share 🙂

Happy Holidays Everybody!

XOX

Heidi J. Loos

What Happened in Vegas…

We returned safely back to Vancouver from Las Vegas one week ago, which was a day later than we were supposed to.

SURPRISE! Two little Canadian lesbians didn’t get the best service over in America.  We were jerked around a little bit our first night and a lot on our last night, but everything in between was pure bliss, Vegas style.

The neon flashing lights could be seen from 20,000 feet in the air, like one giant arcade, twinkling, pulsating, enticing us from the sky.

Bubblegum pink, pumpkin orange, canary yellow blazing from every hotel, casino, strip-joint, billboard, and high-rise. The first thing we noticed on the ground were all the massive billboards. Seriously, every other job in Vegas must be in marketing or advertising because I’ve never seen so many ads in my life. Promoting this show, and this artist, and this product, everywhere. There are billboards on wheels, literally, trucks that drive around the city with the sole purpose of promotion. They have no box or trunk, just giant screens with dancing products and sleazy slogans.

The Vegas strip is definitely just as flashy and glamorous as I imagined, but our first mistake was staying at the Stratosphere. For our first time in Vegas we wanted to be somewhere right on the Strip, but we didn’t realize just how far down the Stratosphere is on the strip. It is at the very very end. The upside: we walked A LOT everyday.

If you want to be right in the thick of things I recommend trying out the Flamingo, or Caesar’s, or the Venetian, which are all beautiful inside (especially the Venetian!) and way more central.

We arrived in Vegas late Saturday evening and took the hotel shuttle from the airport. Unfortunately, the stratosphere was very last stop and the bus made what felt like a million other stops along the way. It took forever to get there! No wonder why the girls sitting in front of us on the plane had opted out of the shuttle bus and went for the cab route. We had booked our hotel room online as part of a package deal with flights included, and we had paid extra for a ‘premiere’ room at the Strat. Our only requests were that we have a non-smoking room with a king bed.

Alas, when we arrived, Stratosphere employee, Robert, told us the only rooms available were standard rooms in the smoking section with two queen beds. Really?

Luckily, we had brought along a print out of our itinerary which showed we had paid extra for a ‘premiere’ room, so we wouldn’t settle for a standard one.

Robert told us it was a mistake on the booking website because it should just say premiere view, not premiere room. All we were paying extra for was a view, so okay, whatever. But we assured him we wanted a room with just one bed. He looked confused at this, because, huh, two women, want to sleep together? butttttt-

He said he would see what he could find.

He left us to go into the back room, and came back five minutes later to tell us:

“The only rooms available with just one king bed are located in our newly renovated suites which will cost you an upgrade of $200 per night.”

SERIOUSLY!?

No.

I suggested to my girlfriend, perhaps we could push the beds together and have one giant bed. That could be fun!

Robert protested this idea. Nope, can’t do that. Not allowed.

You may think it is silly that we were so adamant that we only have one bed, but the thing is two beds take up a lot of unnecessary space, and if we were a straight couple requesting a room with one bed I’m sure we wouldn’t come across such resistance. So naturally, it pissed me right off, and I told him I’d like to speak to his manager.

Once again, Robert left us to go into the back. When he returned he wasn’t accompanied by anyone, but instead told us, his manager had found a room available for us in the non-smoking section with a king bed.

Perfect.

We went up to our room to find that our ‘premiere view’ was overlooking a giant parking lot, and all night long we’d hear vehicle’s starting up, peeling away, beeping, honking, and screeching car alarms. Oh well, we wouldn’t be in the hotel room that much anyway, we thought, it’s VEGAS!

Our first night we just hung out in the Strat casino, played some Black Jack, and ate a salad and some scrumptious boneless chicken wings at the Roxy, which is the cutest little diner EVER, probably my favourite part of the Stratosphere. Check it out, their menus are printed like Newspapers!

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This captured my heart, obviously. And from one server to another, the service fucking rocked! Our server was cheerful, funny, charming, gave us recommendations, quality checked us, checked on us lots, but not too much that it was annoying, seriously, perfection. Actually, I was impressed with the service at all the restaurants we went to, but hey, Americans know how to tip. So servers really work it there, not like in Australia!

The next day we woke up early and got 5$ breakfast burritos at the little breakfast joint across the street. They were delicious. Then we set off in the hot hot sun to explore the strip. We made our way to Circus Circus, Riviera, the Venetian, the Flamingo, Planet Hollywood etc. And at each place, we gambled a little, and drank a lot. We also stopped at a liquor store along the way and were delighted by the prices. But we soon realized, you don’t even have to go to liquor store, cause they sell liquor everywhere! Connivence stores, gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, and it is all hella CHEAP! A 40 of vodka is 15 bucks! And the selection is crazy. There are so many more brands and flavours of everything. Coconut this, grape that, cherry rum, pineapple vodka, mango fusion, I got thirsty just looking.

But then we made the greatest discovery of our entire trip. Single Cans of premixed Long Island Iced Tea, 15% alcohol, and Pina Coladas 10% alcohol, both only $3.40 and both taste like Heaven.

WHAAAAT?!

I know! right?

So those are pretty much what we drank the whole time in Vegas, other than the free drinks at the casinos, and a couple of margaritas and daiquiris from the Margarita Bar.

Needless to say, our trip was a blur. A beautiful, warm, tingly blur.

We ran around Vegas, sipping, shopping, and playing games, mostly Black Jack and Poker on the Multi-Game and Game King machines, my favourites!IMG_0966

We discovered the BEST Chinese food restaurant on the Strip: P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro of Planet Hollywood where she shared lettuce wraps and a coconut vegetarian stir fry that was more than enough for both of us for our lunch and our dinner too!

Our second full day in Vegas was my girlfriend Lyndie’s 32nd birthday, so I took her out somewhere a little nicer for breaky.  And again, we were astounded at the GIGANTIC portions. We ordered two breakfasts but afterwards decided for the rest of the trip we should just share one plate per meal because we could barely get through half our plates. I also made the mistake of ordering coffee and baileys without asking the price. Each shot of baileys was 12$ so I ended up spending $30 just on our coffees, whoops! 100% mark up, very clever, or is it 1200% because in the stores you could buy a whole bottle for 12. Meh, I suck at math, but either way we got jipped!

But the breakfast was decent. And the decor was fun.

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One of the strangest things in Vegas is all the promoters trying to give you ‘free’ stuff. Free shows, free drink tickets, half price drink and dinner coupons, visa gift cards, and ‘cash money’ if you’ll just sign right here, and here, oh, and here too. After what happened to us in Fiji last year, I definitely had my guard up. Wasn’t going with anyone anywhere or accepting any gifts from anyone. But man oh man, they sure tried.

But just so you know, NOTHING IS FREE! There’s always a catch.

Next time I go to Vegas I want to go to more shows. There are just so many, and we were too busy running around exploring the strip and Faremont Street. We did go to one show though, Cirque du Soleil: Zarkana which was INCREDIBLE. All of the acts were so beautiful and breathtaking and kept us on the edge of our seats. I HIGHLY recommend it. My two favourite acts were the elegant twin aerialists and the mesmerizing sand artist.

Here are a couple pics I got of the sand artwork-in process-

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It was amazing how fast they came to life, and then changed into something else.

The acrobatics were phenomenal, and the costumes and sets dazzling and wildly creative.

After the show we wandered back from the Aria, all the way a long the strip, looking for a decent place to eat. We were both a little hangry as we hadn’t eaten anything since lunch and were getting frustrated at the limited options because everything we looked at was hella expensive or Mexican, and don’t get me wrong, I love Mexican food but that wasn’t what we were in the mood for. There are soooo many Mexican restaurants in Vegas! Finally we came across the cutest little strip of restaurants and shops and art right behind the Flamingo.

We even came back the next day just to take pictures of all the wicked art:

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The restaurant we decided on didn’t look like anything special from the outside; the menu on the wall seemed okay, but quite limited. But we were AMAZED when we got inside. What was shown on the menu out front was only a tiny portion of the whole menu. There were soooo many options, and better yet, we came on a Monday night which meant half price appys and happy hour drink prices all night long. We had two appetizers and two martinis for under $30. Seriously, if you ever go to Vegas make sure you go to the Yard House. Two appetizers was more than enough for both of us, and the food was exquisite: asian influence, but pretty much had anything and everything you could want on the menu. Pasta, pizza, steak, ribs, sushi, sashimi, squid, rice dishes, noodle dishes, delicious everything. We liked it so much we came back for lunch on our last day.

The best part about our last day in Las Vegas is that we both won money on the Big Wheel. We had tried it briefly the day before at the Riveria and one of the guys playing had said he had one $900 on it last week, but I figured I’d lose too much money on it if I kept playing. But on our last day, I thought what the hell, go big or go home, right?! Well, I didn’t go that big, I was only betting a dollar on each number, sometimes two dollars, which is how i won $100 at Caesar’s palace. You bet on seven different options and then spin the wheel and if it lands on what you predicted, you win! I bet on the joker which pays out one to fifty, and if you always bet on 1 as well, you almost always get your money back. Try it, you’ll see what I mean. We tried our luck on the big wheel at the Flamingo and Lyndsie won $100 too.

When we arrived at the airport at 6 O’Clock we were buzzed and happy to have had such an epic day. We were chatting with everyone, telling everyone in line about our adventures in Vegas, and getting high fives along the way. One of the West Jet employees took a disliking to us right off the bat.

He warned me if I didn’t get Lyndsie ‘sobered up’ by the time our flight was leaving we wouldn’t be able to board the plane. Okay, not a problem. We still had three hours. I bought us a burger, fries, a milkshake, some bugles, some chips, a cliff bar, some reese’s peanut butter cups, and a lot of water. Then our plane was even delayed an hour. So, we hadn’t had any alcohol  since leaving the casino at 5PM, so by the time we boarded the plane we were totally fine.  But, Mr. douchebag had already spoke to the flight attendant about us. We got on the plane without a problem, but then the flight attendants came over to us and asked us if we had been drinking.

Not since we left the casino FIVE hours ago!

She asked us if we had been drinking in the airport.

No!

She accused us of lying to her, and said we had to get off the aircraft immediately. When we got off the other West Jet attendants said they had already held our bags aside for us, ‘just in case’ and we could go pick them up downstairs because we were not allowed to fly tonight.

They were never going to let us fly. They didn’t even put our luggage on the plane, yet they put us on there, only to take us off again! SOO ANNOYING!

Honestly, I wish they would of just told us before we wasted 5 hours waiting for our plane. We could have been galavanting around Vegas some more, maybe even winning more money. Fortunately we were able to spend our winnings from the day to get a cheap room at the Quad for the night and take a flight out the following day.

I’ve spoken with a few people about it, and they think it sounds quite outrageous. My boss says he and his wife always have a few drinks in the airport, there are pubs in there for Christ’s sake! And many of my friends and colleagues say they’ve boarded many planes and flown while ‘tipsy’ which hasn’t been a problem.

If we were a straight couple, or even just two dudes, we would have been allowed to fly. For sure.

But whatever, we got to stay in Vegas an extra night, so I’m over it.

Can’t wait to go back!!

xox

Heidi J.

Femme City Choir

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2014 was to sing more, and I definitely have fulfilled that goal! I joined the most amazing choir at the end of January “FEMME CITY CHOIR” and I got to sing with these babely folks every thursday until the middle of June. Here’s a clip from our final show:

And here’s a little bit more about us, femme city choir, and why it’s so AWESOME!

I can’t wait to get back to singing with these fierce femmes in September! I have my fingers crossed for a P!nk medley in our second season’s repertoire.

xox

Heidi J. Loos

My 1st all-inclusive Vacation

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Overindulgence!

is the name of the game.

Hundreds of beached whales filling up the blue and white patio chairs, waiting to be pampered. Some playful dolphins splash around in the pools, a game of water polo here, then shots, beach volleyball, more shots, BINGO, cocktails at the swim up bar. Snap snap. “Give me a drink.” Whistle. “Need more beer!” Catcall, “because they like it when you do that.” “Just look at ‘er [the bartender] doesn’t she look just like J-lo?”

Cringe.

Us vs. Them. Everywhere. The binary ablaze, so bright, I get a headache from its neon light, that, and too much sun.

Because first the sun caresses my entire body like a long lost lover, kissing every inch of skin that I expose, pleading with me to show just a little bit more, so I do, obviously. It’s so freaking nice out, and hot!! And it’s March. If I was allowed to be naked I totally would be, but this bikini will have to do. The UV rays suck the colour out, through the straw of each pore, and create streaks of  pink here, and red there, searing, crimson. Ahhh! Feel the burn!

Oh Sleepless Nights to Come!

I try to keep covered up, at least during the hottest part of the day, and I reapply sunscreen like an obsessed first time parent. Rightly so, my skin is as delicate as a newborn’s bottom. New freckles and moles pop up everyday. My body really is a map, little brown spots marking every tropical place I’ve ever visited, outlining my life’s journeys. Hawaii here, see, right on my thigh. Brisbane here, and here. Melbourne this reddish brown gem. A few spots from Wreck beach, definitely the one on my bum. This strange looking feller, I remember the day we met, on Savary Island in 2006, yep this mole was born from the worst sunburn I ever had.

You call them ‘beauty’ marks and I laugh.

Perhaps I belong where my skin will go unmarked by sunshine, unharmed, in the cold lands. I sometimes worry I am doomed for a future with skin cancer, but then again, I also worry I will get liver cancer, and heart disease, and catch every other sickness/condition/disease in the book or more accurately in the television shows I watch like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. I guess I am a bit of a hypochondriac, but who isn’t these days? Well, at least sometimes. The generous doses of vitamin D put me through the roof, and I just don’t care. Happiness, inspiration, freedom, I feel at ease here in Los Cabos, Mexico at the Riu Sante Fe. I have everything at my disposal, delicious food, delicious drinks, sunshine, beaches, people to entertain me, to feed me, to answer to my every need.

I overindulge.

But hey, everyone’s doing it.

Well, everyone here. 

The Tourists, here.

“Us”

***

I found myself thinking a lot about privilege on this vacation, and how it is used, and abused, and also completely ignored or dismissed by those who have it, were born with it.

I felt so extremely grateful and lucky and appreciative to be on this vacation. Especially given that I didn’t have to pay for any of it. This was a birthday present from my dearest. A magnificent birthday present indeed. My boo worked two full-time jobs just to save up for this present for me, for us. (And yes, I am a lucky little shit, I know this!)

I am sure many other guests at the resort were grateful and appreciative too, but much of what I saw was sickening. The disrespect from some of the tourists to the workers. The “I own you” attitude. Exoticism, sexism, racism, classism, and pure ignorant, rich, white, male-bodied privilege.

One guy threw his full beer on the ground, and spat angry words into the female bartenders face. Apparently, he needed a different beer because that one was gross.

Like, dude, seriously?!

One night as we were walking back to our hotel room some guys yelled at us (my girlfriend and I) from their balcony,

“Hey girls, you give good head?”

We were holding hands.

I swear, if I wasn’t so full from dinner I could barely walk I would have gone up there and kicked him in the balls. These were the kind of guys staying at the resort. Saying whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Sexualizing and objectifying us and every other woman they saw.

Blaaaah.

I think, the biggest mistake we made was going at the same time as the Americans “spring break.” The resort was flooded by college and university students just there to party. Hundreds of rich, white, twenty-somethings who never slept! SERIOUSLY! They never went to bed! They came to drink as much as they possibly could, hook up, puke, try Mexican cocaine, whatever. We heard fight after fight, domestic dispute, drunken arguments, drunken make up sex, drunken dares, everything loud and clear, at three, four, five, six o’ clock in the morning. People running up and down the corridors, thomp thomp, bang crash!

Oh Sleepless Nights of Cabo!

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It was easier to catch some zzz’s on a patio chair under the sun, then try to get but a wink at night, or if you went to bed really early like 8 or 9 you could get a few solid hours in before the ruckus really got underway. Which is what we started doing after the second night! Call us grannies, but we were in bed by 9 sharp for the rest of the week! Thanks to full days of sunshine, tennis, swimming, snorkelling, climbing rocks, and drinking and eating way too much, sleep started to come easier and easier even with all the noise.

During breakfast on our fifth morning we overheard the news that fifteen of the so called ‘Spring breakers’ had actually got kicked out of the resort that night!

I just wonder what was the last straw.

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On our last day we took a water taxi over to Lover’s beach, which I highly recommend if you are ever in Cabo. It’s beautiful! Here, we set out to build a record-breaking, giant sandcastle (to beat our previous records that is) we succeeded with the help of some locals and two bottles of premium Mexican tequila! This was the only time during the trip I felt like it wasn’t us and them anymore. We were just people meeting on a beach, united by a common cause: build an epic sand castle.

But as our new friend, Sam, gently pointed out, it looked more like an upturned cow, than a castle in the end, or possibly a birthday sandcake, but it was still pretty epic!

All in all, our trip to Cabo was pretty freaking awesome. The Riu Sante Fe in los Cabos is beautiful and luxurious, and I felt like a princess running around her castle. All the employees at the resort treated us like royalty, and we tried our best to treat them equally, with respect, and tip them as generously as we could afford. None of the obnoxious douchey jerks were locals, no, the jerks were the Americans and the Canadians, tourists, just like us.

Until next time,

HJL

Dine Out Vancouver WEEK 2: Cin Cin’s

We had a reservation at CinCin’s  on Saturday evening for 5:30PM. We made the reservation two weeks in advance and it was the only time they could fit us in. It is the kind of restaurant that fills up fast, especially for dine out when the price of an appetizer, a main, and a dessert is the same price as one of their regular entrees!

20 minutes before we had to leave to go to the restaurant, we looked up the dine out menu online, and it really didn’t look that appetizing to either my girlfriend or I. In fact, we thought it looked pretty gross (compared to all the other amazing ones we’d been looking at)! We considered just cancelling the resso, but I would have felt really bad because they called to confirm the day before and I said yes. And honestly, I really wanted to see what all the hype was about. Why would people want to go spend 500 dollars on a dinner for two anyway?!

DINE OUT DINNER MENU

Cin Cin’s Ristorante + Bar

Neighborhood: Robson StreetCuisine ‘
Type: ItalianDinner
Menu Price: $38
Gluten-Free Menu Option: Yes

APPETIZER

* Yellow split pea soup simmered with smoked ham hockor
* Salad of Albacore tuna and la ratte potatoes / red and green chicory, curly endive, olive oil and lemonor
* Salad of salt baked heirloom beets with goat cheese, buckwheat, navel orange and watercress

ENTREE

* Pork loin cooked on the rotisserie – soft polenta, sweet and sour braised red cabbage – apple mustard
*Arctic Char in crazy water – chickpeas, chili, spinach and piquillo peppers, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbsor
*Fresh rigatoni pasta with spicy chorizo sausage sauce, rosemary, chili and Parmesan

DESSERT

*Tiramisu with ladies fingers soaked in espresso and kahlua, mascarpone mousseor
*Milk chocolate mousse with dark chocolate crumble, blood orange sorbet and caramel sauceor
*Vanilla panna cotta with toasted coconut, lemon curd and almond cake

Beverages, tax and gratuity are extra.

Upon  arrival we were greeted promptly and asked if we would like our jackets put into coat check.

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We were then tucked away in a cozy corner table near the kitchen.

Our main server was lovely, a little plain Jane, but still letting some personality shine through. There were so many front end staff. They seemed to be everywhere, almost out numbering the guests.And the front staff were almost all dudes! From what I saw about 8:1 totally male-dominated! However, I was happy to see three women and three men in the kitchen cheffing it up!

We were given a plate of bread with two varieties served with green olive tapenade.

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CinCin’s Complimentary Bread…

I gobbled that up pretty quickly, and to my surprise a waiter came promptly and replaced it with ANOTHER full plate. Oh no, I thought, this could be dangerous, all you can eat bread?! I could eat A LOT of bread, but I held back, I needed room to try everything.

The portions were actually perfect, not too tiny, but always leaving you wanting a little bit more.

I’m not a big fan of soup, personally, I think I was given teeth for a reason, so I’d rather chew my food…(I’ll eat soup when I’m old). Beets, I don’t really like, so the first option was a no brainer- go for the tuna.

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Tuna Bruschetta

I was delighted to find out the dine out menu had been altered a little from the one that I had found online. Instead of a tuna salad it was tuna bruschetta, and the bread was wood fire smoked, with beans and deliciously seasoned Albacore tuna.  The smokeynss of the bread made for an exquisite dish. My girlfriend and I both agreed we would have been satisfied with a couple more plates of the tuna and nothing else. But, the mains proved to be equally flavourful and thoughtfully constructed.

Cincin’s wine list is GIGANTIC!! Although, most of the wines are ridiculously over priced: many of the bottles you can find at the BC liquor store for $10-20 have been marked up to $40 or $50 or more. But, they do have A LOT of options, pages and pages, almost like a little wine encyclopedia. The wines range from $30-$800 per bottle and they come from all over the world in all grape varieties. I found all of the options a little overwhelming, so we decided to stick to cocktails. The Westender, and a Singapore Sling. Both nicely presented, cool, tangy and refreshing.

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Singapore Sling
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The West Ender

However, I got so excited about the tuna appetizer that I kicked the bottom of the table and sloshed the dark blueberry West Ender all over the white table cloth, I’m just that classy 😛 the waiter gave me quite the look.

The restaurant itself is quite elegant, although in my taste, it definitely lacks colour, whoever made up that ‘fancy’ should be all white and black and boring shades of brown and grey should’ve had their eyes checked. Seriously! I think a fine dining restaurant with bright purple and yellow table cloths would be much more enticing. However, I did enjoy watching the chefs at work in CinCin’s big open kitchen. Like artists perfecting each dish painting their creations with personality and beauty.

I do appreciate good-looking food: well-presented, fun to look at, contrasting shapes, colours, and textures. But I tend to order the most bland looking dishes: a.k.a. Pasta! It just tastes so darn good.

Here’s the dish my girlfriend ordered:

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Pork Tenderloin

This is what I call art on a plate! How pretty does it look?! This was a perfectly balanced dish. The Polenta was soft and creamy, the pork juicy and bursting with flavour and the cabbage subtle, sweet, and acidic.

Here’s the dish I ordered:

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Chorizo Pasta

This one, definitely does not look as appetizing, but it tasted heavenly. The sauce was creamy and spicy, and the rigatoni perfectly al dante: chewy and tender with freshly grated parmesan on top. The chorizo meat sauce was bold with flavour and heat that crept from the lips to the tongue to the throat to simmer softly.

The dessert option was also an easy choice for us both. Because… Lady fingers, really? There so soggy! And who likes Pana Cotta, that stuff jiggles like cellulite, and it never tastes quite right! Chocolate mousse, on the other hand, is always a winner!

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CinCin’s Chocolate Mousse

And the caramel sauce and tangy blood orange sorbet balanced the dish wonderfully.

So…Would I do it all again?

Definitely.

Could I afford it?

Definitely Not.

The regular menu is like MONEY MONEY MONEY, give me all your money, and I’ll give you a few bites…

Dine Out was my chance to see what the hype was all about, and I get it. The food is really delicious and artistic. The restaurant is beautiful, and the staff are all well-trained and quite charming. But, do I think you’re missing out if you don’t go… No. You can find italian cuisine that tastes just as good for a lot less. Sure you pay for the atmosphere and the choices and the service, but I’d rather go somewhere a little funkier with a little more FLAVOUR for the eyeballs! If you know what I mean?!

Can someone please just create a fine -dining glittery rainbow restaurant already? Because that would be awesome, and also soooo GAY, in the best way!

Xx

HJL

Dine Out Vancouver WEEK 1

Looking for somewhere affordable to take your honey on a date? Or somewhere funky and delicious for a birthday dinner? The three restaurants I went to for dine out this week really rocked my tastebuds, and I recommend all of them.

Cardero’s, Banana Leaf, and the Reef on Main Street.

I tried Cardero’s restaurant for the first time for lunch last Monday. It really captured my heart. (Note, the way heart is not solely through my mouth, and/or my stomach). In my post last week I described all the things that make for my ideal dine out situation. I am not the pickiest person, but the vibe and the style of the restaurant and the service really matter to me. Not only is Cardero’s situated in a beautiful location right off of the seawall with a view of the ocean and mountains and all the boats in the harbour, the whole restaurant kind of feels like a giant ship inside! It is all dark wood with  little model ships, and funky art everywhere, and ship paraphernalia. It is fun to look around in! The servers, both men and women, have uniforms with ties (and, have I mentioned, I love it when women wear ties?!) and their ties have teeny weensy forks and knives on them! Okay, so I secretly want one for myself, but anyway… The service was fabulous, and the food fresh, and flavourful. The pasta dish I tried tasted like the fettucini had been hand rolled that morning and was not at all overpowered by the delicate truffle cream, mushrooms, spinach and parmesan.

IMG_9312 << okay so it may have looked a little more elegant before I started eating it, but it smelled so good, I couldn’t wait until AFTER taking a picture!

My salad with pear and goat cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts was delightful, but you can’t really go wrong with that combination, can you?!?

My dining partner had squid for her appetizer which had a nice zing to it, very well-spiced. Then, braised short ribs with goat cheese polenta and steamed vegetables. I couldn’t stop stealing bites off her plate, simply scrumptious!

I’ll admit, I was disappointed that their dine out menu only came with one dessert option (their regular menu has a wide selection) but it was satisfactory. It’s not my first choice, but who doesn’t like a good slice of carrot cake with creamy icing? (or two!)

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Cardero’s Carrot Cake!

Next, we hit up Banana Leaf for a midweek Malaysian lunch, a restaurant that has been one of our Vancouver favourites for years. We decided to opt out of the dine out menu and go with the regular lunch taster menu instead. It still comes with an appetizer, main, and dessert, but is $18 per person instead of the dine out lunch price at $28. (the Dine out menu had a few more options, but was quite similar). Unfortunately, the food wasn’t up to its usual standards, normally we are blown away by the eloquent presentation and all the bold spices and never have any complaints! But this time, the Rendang beef, which I usually adore, was much  tougher than usual, and the papaya salad was so acidic it was like trying to eat pure vinegar, so we chose not to eat at all! The seafood curry, coconut rice, and stir fried green beans were all delicious, but still didn’t wow us like the Banana Leaf usually does, perhaps the quality at this location (Robson) is not as great as the others, or maybe it was just due to the high volume of customers during the first week of Dine Out. The desert of deep fried banana with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce was a little taste of heaven, and was the perfect size plate for two.

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Reef’s Cocktails

On Saturday night we went for dinner at the The Reef On Main which is truly the best Caribbean food in town!

But, be prepared for SPICE! Love it, crave it, seek it at the Reef! I have been to both of the Reef’s Vancouver locations multiple times and have had much better results at the Reef on Main. The food quality and service has been exponentially better at the Reef on Main street than on Commercial Drive, I have no idea why! Although the Main street location is a little smaller, it has BIG personality. The walls are bright orange and the art be poppin’ just like the DJ. It is a fun place for a dinner date or a party. The cocktails are a plenty, and they come with colourful little swords and umbrellas! SCORE!

From their dine out menu we tried both of the appetizer options: plantain chips with spicy mayo, and the macaroni and cheese sticks with spicy ketchup. Both were amazing!

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The Reef’s Mac n’ Cheese Sticks!
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The Reef’s Plantain Chips! Om nom nom!

For the mains we chose the carribean curry blend with chicken and potato and also the Jerk chicken.

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A GIANT plate of curry!
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mmm Jerk chicken, munch munch!

Both were HELLA spicy, but the tangy coleslaw helped cut the spice quite nicely as did the drinks (Kahlua and milk anyone?!).

We tried both of the dine out dessert options as well, but the one that appealed to us on paper the “Fried banana with mango ice cream & rum caramel” was actually kind of gross,

IMG_9382 < it looked like this

But it tasted like this > IMG_9381

The Banana Leaf’s fried banana was SO MUCH BETTER but it should be right since banana is in it’s title and all?! 😛 Well, the reef’s deep fried banana was alright but the mango ice-cream with it was weird (AND I LOVE MANGO) it just didn’t taste right. We ended up not even eating it, and I’ll eat just about anything sweet, so that says a lot… but the other option was one of the best coconut deserts I’ve EVER had. “The Pineapple coconut tart with caramelized sugar”

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The Reef’s EPIC Pineapple Coconut Tart

It may not look that amazing, or sound that amazing. But it is like a coconut creme brûlée with a pie crust- genius! Sweet, creamy, and wondrous. Mouthgasm worthy for sure.

So there you have it, all of my dine out adventures last week! I have to say, I really like the idea of dine out, but I had to cancel two of our reservations for this week because that much eating out is just TOO MUCH for me. Like, I was so full after the meal at the Reef I couldn’t move and had to opt of dancing to go lay on the couch and nurse my food coma. I have been working out extra hard at the gym every day just to make up for it, but still the three course dine out lunches and dinners are a little much. I prefer splitting one appetizer and one dessert between two, because this whole one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert per person is kind of outrageous, definitely the quickest way to increase my waist line, and unfortunately that is not really my goal. 😛

This week I will only be trying one more restaurant for Dine out Vancouver 2014, and that is because I’ve always wanted to try it but cannot usually afford it’s ridiculously STEEP prices: on Saturday night we will be trying Cin Cin’s on Robson. I shall report back!

Cheerio,

Heidi J. Loos

What I want when I DINE OUT anywhere

When I go out to dine at a restaurant there are five things that I want:

#1 A Good Vibe – no matter how fancy, white table-cloth whatever, I don’t want to eat somewhere yuppy, uptight, or bland to look around in- so give me some colour, some art, some music, and some entertainment! Entice all my senses.

#2 Yummy Drinks – show me some variety, I don’t just want beer, wine and cider (sure maybe that’s what I’ll decided to drink that night) but I want the options to be there, a list of intriguing liquor concoctions that’ll pop my cork- fizzle my whistle, and it’d be nice if the cocktail list came with virgin options too, pregnant women and non-drinkers should still get shaken, blended, dressed up drinks with awesome little swords and cherries, and tiny umbrellas too…

#3 EPIC FOOD – duh!

(And satisfactory portion sizes- not huge so I eat myself silly, but not less than a bite per appetizer. The first nibble just gets you started: you need at least three full bites for every tastebud in your mouth to fully awaken and engage…and then a few more to be satisfied) Make me squirm in my seat, make me moan, if I don’t get at least one mouthgasm tonight, it wasn’t worth it, and I probably won’t come back. AND there must be a dessert selection, with at least one thing chocolatey.

#4 Good *Personal* Service- I appreciate ‘good service’, but I appreciate personality, originality, humour, “weirdness” even more. Seriously, all the generic serving phrases and waitress cliches should be left in the dish pit with the dirty dishes- you just served that sentence to the people before me, whip up a clean one, I don’t want no sloppy seconds. But, I know as a server myself, half the time you’re trained on the boring script… but who’s going to pay for boring? (okay so maybe some lamos but not moi!) I will tip you for your creativity, trust me. I like the unscripted, the improvised, sure some of it can be a little rehearsed but when you’re describing that dessert and your passion and humour shine through, you’ll have won my heart!

#5 Awesome company – but for this one, you can’t really blame the establishment… >.<

The next couple of weeks I am dedicating my  weekly blogging to dine out Vancouver, I will be trying a bunch of new restaurants in the next two weeks and am going to report back on how awesome (or not) they are!

Om Nom Nom,

HJL