15 December 2014

Winnipeg Neighbourhood Guide 4: Corydon Village and Grosvenor

I've been wrestling with the Corydon Village neighbourhood post for weeks. 

I spent two years living right in the heart of the Corydon strip, and I know it to be an absolutely beautiful neighbourhood. The historic old homes are lovely, and exploring the local shops with Sybil from Animated Confessions a few weeks back gave me newfound appreciation for the charming local business in the area. But it also has its pitfalls. The main strip along Corydon is dotted with quite a number of mediocre restaurants, popular largely due to their locations. And while there are a number of excellent, well-established businesses in the area and some new and exciting spaces, there are also spots that see a lot of turnover. 

Winnipeggers are known to have a love/hate relationship with their city. And in a way, Corydon Village is emblematic of that struggle. It showcases some of the best that Winnipeg has to offer, but there are a number of spots that leave you with, "This could be so cool," "If only..." "Well in other cities..."

So in this post, I want to focus on that best part. And that means there are a number of relatively popular spots that I've left off this post. If you disagree with me, great!, use the comments section below and change my mind. I love Winnipeg, and I fall more and more in love with it the further along I get in this series. I'm always open to hearing your suggestions :)
Enjoy prairie fine dining at Mise
The service is excellent and the food is flavourful and delicious. I would particularly recommend sharing a few of the Mise Samplers with friends. It's a great way to explore the menu.

Unleash your inner Parisian at The Frenchway Cafe
Grab a delightfully crunchy baguette and cycle over to Munson park for a picnic in the warmer months. Bonus points if your bicyclette has a basket and a bell.

Cheer on European footballers and chow down on pub grub at The Grove
They have the kind of burgers that once you've picked it up, all you can do is hang on for dear life. By the end you'll be holding the crumbly, delightful remains of one of the best burgers the city has to offer. Bring a companion who doesn't care if you have ketchup on your face (but will let you know nicely before the meal is over) and keep the napkins close at hand.

Carbo-load at Cafe Carlo 
Enjoy rich and saucy pastas in this inviting space. Go ahead an unbutton that top button before you order.
Appreciate design with a coffee in hand at MAKE Coffee + Stuff
Owner Jay has put together an eclectic yet minimalist space with iconic, well-designed furniture and a constant rotation of design exhibits showcasing young and often local talent.

Taste the best buttercream frosting of your life at Lilac Bakery
I'm not even joking about the buttercream frosting. I would never joke about buttercream frosting. Their cupcakes are arguably the best in the city.

Feel like a kid again at Sugar Mountain
With an incredible selection of bulk candy (it's all the same price, so you can mix a bag of all your favourites) and a swath of retro and hard to find candy, this is one fun, old-school candy shop. Cheap, no, but an experience worth having. Bring a kid and make their day/week/month.

Down gobs of gelato at Eva's
They have more traditional flavours like pistachio and dulce de leche alongside decadent options like chocolate or wild berry cheesecake.

Garb yourself in quality menswear at Normandy Shop
Owners Amanda and Chris really put the time in to find quality designers and unique items you can't buy anywhere else in Winnipeg. They're also incredibly friendly and don't mind one bit if you (secretly) just dropped by to visit Norman, the shop pup.

Browse the beautiful and eclectic selection of pottery goods at The Stoneware Gallery
This pottery-artist collective is a truly interesting spot to shop and they offer an incredible variety of styles and finishes to suit various tastes. You can also take a class with them and take home your very own clay creation.

Decorate your home with gorgeous greenery from The Green Scene
With an amazing selection of tropical and indoor plants, let the ladies help you find the right plant to suit your light levels and watering memory. Even people like me whose windows face directly onto another building and chronically forget to water their plants can find something here :)

Go all Nancy Drew at Whodunit
I'm thoroughly charmed by this eccentric new and used book store that exclusively sells mystery novels.

Put some luxury on under your clothes at Gravity Lingerie
Whether you want to swath your private bits in lace, cozy up in a luxurious terry cloth robe or fancify your feet in Happy Socks (great patterns, super cozy and long wearing), you'll definitely leave with something that will make you feel that extra little bit special.
Change the way you see oil and vinegar at Frescolio
Do yourself a favour and ask the knowledgeable staff show you how to do a tasting of their many delicious and sometimes unexpected olive oils and balsamic vinagers. I'm never putting plain old grocery store oil and vinegar on my salads again. Seriously, it's that good.

Pick up the necessities at Corydon Hardware
My go-to anytime I need to get a lamp rewired, this charming little local hardware store (one of the few left in the city) is a favourite of mine. That sign just screams Winnipeg to me.

Get your skate on at Green Apple
I'm no boarder, but for those of you with better co-ordination/skill/general ability to manoeuvre physically than I, Green Apple has some great decks and clothing.

Treat your furry friend at Hip Pooch
Honestly, I hate putting clothes on my dog. I feel a wee bit silly and he looks so miserable. But in Winnipeg, it's definitely necessary this time of year. The Hip Pooch carries some sleek, nicely designed stuff, so at least the poor guy looks good :)

Outfit your feet at the Cha Cha Palace
The ladies bring in designers like Frye, Fly London and sometimes even Irregular Choice. You'll find foot ware that will truly set you apart at a variety of price points.

Selim's Antiques
A stunning selection of quality china and glassware and a gentlemanly owner who will charge you a fair price.

Just walk the streets
Admire the lights along Corydon Ave or appreciate the character of the many beautiful old homes along the side streets

As always, please leave me any comments below. I love hearing from you! I also just want to note that I focused on the streets wedged among Confusion Corner, Pembina, Wellington Cresent and Stafford for this post. Other great Corydon business further west will be featured in upcoming posts!

8 December 2014

Little Morning Rituals

I'll admit it; I'm one of those morning-people freaks. Even on vacation, I'm up by 8, wandering the city streets in search of coffee and pastries. But as Winnipeg winter weather and sunlight (or lack thereof) began creeping up, getting out of bed in the morning was getter darker, colder and just plain unpleasant.

So, over the last month, I've been taking a cue from my morning vacation routine. Rather than hitting the snooze five times, rolling wearily out of bed to do some home "yoga" (a.k.a. sleeping in child's pose for twenty minutes on the floor) and groggily eating breakfast by the glow of my computer screen, I've instituted daily morning walks. Long ones.

I eat breakfast and get bundled to the hilt, then head out the door with Slim. I listen to podcasts like DNTO, This American Life, or Serial and wander the streets. Some mornings, I cap things off with an espresso at Little Sister. It's such a nice way to slip into the day.
 How about you? Love/hate mornings? What are your rituals?

10 November 2014

Hibernation Mode

Things have taken a turn for the chilly around here, and it's only a matter of time before snow blankets the ground and temperatures plunge for the long haul.

Every winter I have this battle between my desire to stay in and avoid the cold and my sense of obligation to go out. But this winter, I've decided to embrace staying in, and to help it feel a bit more productive, I've come up with some hibernation projects.

1. Find out what the deal is with borscht. I never liked it as a kid, but I'm going to get a great recipe and try again.
2. Watch AFI's best 100 films. Like, all of them.
3. Learn to make some excellent cocktails. Then invite friends over to drink them.
4. Read books. A lot of books.
5. Successfully hold a handstand for longer than 0.000052 seconds.
6. Buy a brand new album and listen to it the whole way through and not do anything else. Except maybe lie on the floor. And consume alcohol.
7. Finally finish sewing patches on that damn blanket. (A project that's been sitting around partially done for about 2 years. Yeah, I'm the worst sometimes.)
8. Complete a puzzle.
9. Master a difficult baked good that I've tried and failed at before. Something that involves the use of a candy thermometer and/or yeast.
10. Make out :)

What about you? Any plans for the winter hunker down?

3 November 2014

Photographers Who Make Winnipeg Beautiful

One of the best things about Instagram is the way it helps you look through the eyes of someone else and find beauty in the most unexpected places. Two Instagramers in particular, @markiatsu and @a.chea, have changed the way I look at Winnipeg.

I had the pleasure of teaching high school English to both Mark and Amanda and reconnected with them at Winnipeg's Instameet a month or so back. Their passion and energy is catching, and I quickly reached out to them to learn more about their photography.
Tell me a little about how you got into photography.
Mark: It goes all the way back to Tumblr in 2009. It was all the hype back then: reposting and liking photos. Occasionally I would get inspired by certain photographs and it motivated me to go out and shoot. I remember stumbling across this long exposure shot of car lights, and that really propelled me into the excitement of photography. After watching a YouTube video on how to capture similar shots, I borrowed my parents camera and tripod and sat on my front porch waiting for cars to paint their light on the road.

Amanda: I think now that I've grown up a little and looked back I'm pretty sure I was born with it. Even when I was a kid, I'd always find a camera in my hand: not a fancy one, but like a small, normal point and shoot. I took pictures of everything and anything really. But I guess ever since the summer before high school, and all the media courses I took, I started to take it a bit more seriously. My friend took me to a car meet; a group called TopTier imports organized meets during the summer. Throughout the years, I've gotten to know a lot of people in that whole car scene, and I'm glad to say most of them are now good friends of mine. A handful of them are professional car photographers. I'd say they've taught me a lot about photography and videography.

What do you like about photographing in Winnipeg?
Mark: You often hear a "nothing special" stigma around Winnipeg. Some people fail to see the beauty. With modern advances, Winnipeg is shaping up into a sophisticated metropolitan while showcasing its classic architecture. Winnipeg is full of diversity; and because of the fact that this city can resemble many other places, photographing Winnipeg is like capturing different corners of the world.

Amanda: What I like about photographing in Winnipeg is that we do live in a beautiful city with beautiful people and places, and some people don't see that. Instagram has been where most of my inspiration comes from; seeing all these talented individuals and learning what they have to offer is so amazing. I've met a handful of new people from it too. I love making new friends that have the same interests as me. But I'd give all the credit to Mark, because he was the one who showed me how to have an adventure in your own city, opening my eyes and noticing the art in everyday things.

Have you had any crazy/scary experiences while shooting?
Mark: My friends and I usually like to go out where no one's really been to capture sights yet to be photographed. Recently, after Winnipeg's first Instameet, a group of us decided to shoot on the top level of a building under construction. As we were leaving, we were spotted by a cop. We saw an opportunity to take off, but we played it smart and just turned ourselves in. It was definitely one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. Seeing that I'm trying to get myself through school, I don't know what I would have done if I had landed in jail. It's probably an exaggeration of the outcome, but running into authorities really isn't my cup of tea.

Amanda: Crazy and scary experiences are what I live for. One time Mark and I went to Pinawa for the first time, just because. We got to the other side of the suspension bridge and he says, "Let's go walk this way, and if there's nothing interesting a minute in, we'll come back." So we head into the woods/forest, whatever you wanna call it, and a good 5 minutes pass. We were already lost and off trail. We came across a baby bear and the first thing we did was run. I wasn't planning to be killed by a mother bear that day. There were these high rock mountain cliff things we climbed to get away; I slipped on my way up, and almost busted my head, but I didn't, thank God.

At night sometimes, 10ish to midnight, we like to find buildings with fire escapes and climb them up to the rooftop for a better view of the city. Once you're up there, it's pretty relaxing. Michael (@305ivemm) was terrified of heights, so when we got him to climb, he stopped half way and kind of caused a scene in the middle of the night. Some lady from the street yelled, "Either jump or keep climbing!!" I found that funny, because while the rest of us were already at the top, there were people encouraging him from down below. He made it up safely 20 minutes later... haha.

What are some of your goals? Where do you hope your camera takes you?
Mark: Although Winnipeg is an amazing background for many shots, I have this thrill for photographing at heights. One day, I hope to get enough money from either my photography or work to travel to cities with massive high rises. If you look at my Instagram feed, it's basically full of people with nifty kicks sitting on the edge of a skyscraper.

Amanda: Photography is great and all but video and film have my heart. I'm just saving up for video equipment stuff, and photography is there just helping me grow into it. I'd like to help produce a movie one day. I recently got asked to be the director of photography in a short film here in Winnipeg, so I'm pretty excited about it. My camera has opened up so many doors and opportunities for me already. I'm grateful for that and I can't wait for more. I'd love to travel outside of Canada but I know that's not going to happen anytime soon. #brokelife

What advice would you give to people who are playing around with photography?
Mark: Keep on shooting. Know the power of photography. Photography is a hearth. It's the foundation to the fire you want to ignite the world with. Every flame starts with a little ember, and every time you go out there and shoot, you feed that fire. Keep that passion burning and pretty soon, your photographs are no longer just pictures, they become tinder that will spark others' flames.

Amanda: My advice to anyone honestly, is to do what makes you happy. You shouldn't beat yourself up because someone's better than you at what you do, because there's always that someone. Do you and stay inspired because that will inspire others around you. Don't worry about people that doubt you, cut 'em, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life. Have fun!

Thanks you two for showing us all what a truly beautiful place we live in :)

27 October 2014

Maps Turned Art

I'm one of those freaks who genuinely enjoys reading maps and navigating. I also happen to think that maps are pretty beautiful. There's such a history and a romance to an authentic physical map.

So when we got this amazing print by illustrator Raymond Biesinger in at Little Sister Coffee Maker, I raced over to Tiny Feast to snap one up. I cannot wait to get this beautiful piece of Winnipeg history up on my wall. I'm completely in love with all the fun detail.

If you're interested in this print, they might still have one or two left at Tiny Feast, and they'll be getting more in come November.
Do you have any cool maps or map prints hanging around your place? I always love to hear from you :)