Pagaille!

As you know, I am a huge coffee enthusiast, not just for coffee as a drink but cafes as places. On my way to work in the morning, I stop by a cafe to enjoy 30 minutes of good morning music, morning smiles, and a warm cup of caffeine. Sunday afternoons, I find a good couch at one of my neighborhood’s cafes and I just unwind there with my book or magazine listening to music and enjoying the vibe of the people around me.

Today morning’s pick was Pagaille on Villeneuve right on the northwest corner of St. Urbain. The cafe offers a nice list of coffees and a variety of sandwiches and pastries. I loved the interior deco of the cafe and definitely the little patio outside. I had a cup of latte and the surprise is that the prices include the taxes! I think the owners are non-Canadians :)

How about you? Do you have any rituals that you are attached to?

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Cafe Hopping

I was reminded today of why I like Montreal, why I feel good here, why I feel welcomed, and most importantly, why I feel I belong.

While cafe hopping over several consecutive weekends, I stumbled upon this cute scene. imageI was browsing the world on my tablet, sipping my latte, when three girls come into the cafe, sit on the floor, form a triangle, and start playing Bananagrams. They were not having any coffee or tea. What happened next was even more charming; the lady of the cafe offered them free loukoum.

Bon weekend tout le monde!

Counting Sheep

Eureka! I’ve found it. You count sheep, I could BREATHS!

sheep

When I cannot sleep, I simply do the 4-4-7. It is easy to remember and it always work for me, but you have to do it 8 consecutive times before it works. This is how to do it:

1. Relax all your muscles, starting from  your toes all the way to your scalp.

2. Inhale slowly counting to 4 filling your belly with air.

3. Hold your breath in, count to 4.

4. Exhale slowly counting to 7, emptying your belly from air until your bellybutton sticks to your back.

Repeat at least 8 times. If your mind wanders away, simply bring it back to consciously follow your breath.

That’s the trick. Whether it is sheep or cows or your breath, you need to let you mind focus on one single thing until it relaxes and sleeps.

Sleep tight!

 

 

 

 

Get Lucky?

My dear friend of Fragole E Farfalle recommended that I listen to Get Lucky by Daft Punk while I am cooking to give my evening ritual a new twist or more life, especially when I am alone.  And what a priceless piece of advice! I can’t stop moving!

First, I played the song over and over for 3 times. I couldn’t get enough. Then, I started dancing, so I played it for another 2 or 3 times. Later, I found myself writing this post. I had to share this contagious beat! I guess we sometimes forget that dancing doesn’t just belong in a club. And we also forget the power of music and beats. Music is the drive of life, I think. Love, too :)

I dedicate this song to all of you who need a little beat in their day. I suggest playing it anyway, it won’t hurt :)

Indie Coffee Passport

My very good friend Cartoline doesn’t stop talking about coffee, and frankly, I don’t know why I don’t talk about coffee as much as she does! I love coffee with a passion, and I am not an addict! I enjoy the taste, punto. I do not need it every morning; I can start a productive day without a cup of coffee. However, everyday I make sure that I have at least 30 minutes to unwind with a cup of latte, whether I prepare it myself at home or go to a neighborhood cafe for it.

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Besides enjoying the taste of a good cup of coffee, I enjoy the experience of being in a cafe. I do not just go to a cafe to sip my coffee and leave. I do that in Rome. Over here, going to a cafe is a stimulating experience for me. From the moment I step into the cafe until I leave an hour or so later, my mind is happy. I love looking at the interior decor of the cafe, observing the staff and how they prepare coffee, and  checking out the wall of advertisements for cultural happenings. I love to actually listen to the music playing, and to hear the chatter of the people and feel the warmth of a packed cafe. Can you think of a better way to spend a grey Sunday evening alone in the winter?! So you see, going to a cafe is an outing for me, an activity, something I have always enjoyed doing, something I don’t feel shy admitting.

All this introduction to bring you to the following: This year, I have made a small promise to myself: I am going to explore cafes in other neighborhoods in Montreal, and it turns out that there is actually a passport for that, the Indie Coffee Passport! What is that?

It is a a pass for 18 different coffee shops in different neighborhoods in Montreal. You buy the pass and then you get one cup of coffee at each of the participating coffee shops. As simple as that. Of course, you can read more at their website.

I will let you know when I buy the pass and hopefully I’ll be able to take good shots and write a good post for each coffee experience!

What kind of coffee machine/pot do I use? The one in the photo.  What coffee do I buy? Oftentimes it is Cafe Cubita.

Bon café!

How to Spend Sunday Evening

You know how Bob Dylan is “music for the mind?”

Of course you do.

Well, if you are a lover of Dylan music, poetry, and/or voice, then I am guessing you (would) also love Thomas Fersen. I know I do. Just like Bob Dylan can take on a trip on his magic swirlin’ ship of genius, I think this album for Fersen has come close to leaving me in the same state of positive stupor.

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My recommended unwinding activity for a Sunday evening at home while the washing machine is tumbling, the neighbors making love, and the autumn wind blowing away the last standing  leaves? Turn off all lights, sit or lie down in a mediation position and let either Dylan or Fersen take you on a trip.

 

Only in Montreal…

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do dead arms lie still on a window sill,

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does a bird and a human reproduce,

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(or a human and horse for that matter)

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do TVs have sex,

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shoes grow ‘hair’,

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do real trains look like fake ones,

20120901_161335exists a Mexican R2D2,

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do tired skaters take a  nap on the sidewalk,

IMAG2999and kids swim in  friggin’ freezing lake!!

Loud Bicycle Project

It is common knowledge by now that I love bicycles, and luckily I live in a very bike-friendly city where I can cycle- as a means of commuting and just for chilling- for almost 7 months a year.

In the last cycle-able period from May to November, I witnessed several bicycle accidents simply because the car driver didn’t see or hear the cyclist coming from the side. I have a bell on my bicycle, as I’m sure those bicycle victim do, but is that bell enough to get the driver to brake? Not always.

So, when I saw this project, I couldn’t help but smile and back it up with a few dollars!

Here’s the video (click on orange link): LOUD BICYCLE: CAR HORN FOR YOUR BIKE

Photo via Kickstarter.com

Photo via Kickstarter.com

Gift Ideas

Christmas and New Year are just excuses for me to get creative with finding creative gifts for my friends and family (and sometimes for myself too). But a gift needs no occasion, that’s my motto. So, if you find yourself with gift block and a list of friends and occasions, here are some ideas:

A Children’s Book or An Adult’s Picture Book

Oliver Jeffers

Maira Kalman

The Essential Leonard Cohen and The Book of Longing

Leonard Cohen

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A Jack Dylan poster

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Sac Magique (a very practical alternative to the hot water bottle)

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A subscription to Tricycle magazine

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Tea (from Tea Sante, for example)

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Artisan oil such as La Tourangelle

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ALL PHOTOS TAKEN FROM THE OFFICIAL WEBSITES.

Life Would be Dreary Without an Addiction

Mine is called Downton Abbey.

It started a few weeks ago when I was belatedly drawn to Downton Abbey. Yes, I only just started watching it a couple of weeks ago after I had heard several addicted friends talk about it like it is the new age opium. Being the mature person I am, “I reserved my judgement” and decided to give it a look.

That was late October. Now, I am a full-fledged addict; I worry about Lady Mary’s future more than her mother Cora does, I proudly quote Carson, I swoon over Lord Grantham, and I am an avid admirer of the Dowager Countess of Grantham’s wit and sarcasm.

Every night now, between 10 and 11 pm, the ritual is as follows: a hot cup of tea (preferably STASH Ginger Peach Green Tea) and an episode of Downton Abbey.

(Ah, how I love Montreal!)

And why not throw in a few of my favorite DA quotes?

“Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.”

“I hope you know that really smart people sleep in separate rooms.”

“I’m a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.”

“Are you afraid someone will think you’re American if you speak openly?”

“But nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to courtesy.”

”War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don’t.”

“I’d rather have the right man, than the right wedding.”

“I’m an American, I don’t share your English hatred of comfort.”

Forest Bathing

Fall is here and  nature is shedding its old coat in preparation for the winter. We started feeling the effect of the shorter days, the longer nights and the colder temperatures. We feel like  being outdoors but can’t really get ourselves to stay out long due to the cold and lack of enough sunshine. Soon enough, our energy levels drop and we start feeling rather ‘down’, if I may use this term loosely. What can we do to alleviate the melancholy and get those feel-good hormones rushing?

The Japanese called it “shinrin-yoku”, which translates to forest bathing: a simple walk in the forest (and breathing the air) when the forest takes on a whole new air, rich and wet, smelling of fallen leaves. The Japanese regard this as a very important form of aroma therapy: a simple walk in the woods lowers blood pressure and reduces levels of stress.

Next time you find yourself feeling rather ‘under the weather’, plan for a walk in the woods at the weekend. Surprisingly, it is more effective to walk in the woods in fall than it is in summer! Get moving and inhaling!

The Little Things That Make You Go :-)

Doesn’t a giggling baby just make you unconsciously smile? How about when it stops raining the moment you step out of the house? What about that second when you put your hand into the pocket of an old jeans and you feel money under your fingers? Don’t you just smile? What are other little moments in your day that make you, forcibly, smile?

Here’s a list of a few little things that make me happy:

  • When I am asked for directions on the street.
  • When I manage to apply nail polish on my right-hand fingers (I’m right-handed) without any smudging.
  • Being on my bicycle on a cold sunny day and feeling the chilly wind on my face.
  • Receiving a smile from a stranger.
  • When I’m cooking and the radio plays music that I can sway to.
  • That moment when coldness starts going away and I start feeling warm under the bed covers.
  • When I crave a piece of anything sweet (that usually happens directly after lunch) and I find a forgotten half-cookie in my bag.

And many many more. Just like there are many little things that we should be grateful for, there are a million other things that make us smile. We just need to notice them.