Christmas away from home…..

I moved to Canada in May 2013 with my boyfriend, now fiancé and much trepidation about whether or not I would stay. Come Christmas I knew that if I went home, there was no coming back, I still hadn’t landed my dream job and the place was bloody freezing, so the decision was made. Family would come visit and we would spend our first Christmas away from home. 

Happy with our decision we threw ourselves in to making Christmas in Toronto the best yet. We decided in order to feel close to our family and friends at home we would keep traditions going as well as start some new ones. With that said the tree was decorated presents bought and wrapped and the Christmas movies chosen, we were determined! However despite the fact that Christmas decorations seemed to be on steroids and Christmas music boomed from every store the whole place just lacked Christmas Cheer. I felt odd upon hearing “Happy Holidays” and missed the usual frantic preparations and celebrations of home. 
December 2013 brought the ice storm which turned Toronto into the most Magical Christmassy looking place on earth, but it also meant spending time outside was miserable. None the less we prevailed taking in as much of the festive activities Toronto had to offer, and there was loads to do…..way more that what we could hope to do at home.  

Despite my grumbling, we enjoyed our First Christmas away from home, we got to experience a very Canadian Christmas, hockey on Boxing Day, Tobogganing after dinner, walks in the park, and visiting a frozen Niagara Falls. Having my boyfriends’ family over definitely took the sting out of missing my family at home. That didn’t stop me from bawling like a baby on Christmas Eve though when I realised it was Christmas morning in Ireland and the excitement that was now engulfing my family. 

Advice to anyone away from home over the holidays, don’t compare every experience to home, remember the grass is always greener! Luckily we are living in an era where Home is only a Skype or FaceTime away, You can experience something really special here and bring your family on the journey with you. I called to hear all about Santa’s visit and to chat with family before they sat down to dinner. 
Now in my fourth year in Toronto, I’ve alternated between Home and Toronto for Christmas celebrations, and I can honestly see pros and cons for both, I am heading home in 4 weeks for this years Christmas celebrations and I can say with great excitement that there’s nothing like that journey home for Christmas….I can’t wait.
This article was written for Openmind to bring awareness committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. Contact aheeley@cmhaww.ca. For local mental health resources/information, visit http://www.mdsgg.ca

Sinéad x

Advertisements

Fear not! You can watch the Toy show in Canada!! 


It’s a time honoured tradition and the start of the Christmas festivities for most of us, and just because your not at home with your family doesn’t mean you have to miss out! 

Which is where the RTÉ Player comes in. Bosses behind the show have informed the public that it is available through various platforms, saying: ‘The Late Late Toy Show is coming to RTÉ One and on RTÉ Player, live and on-demand, this Friday from 9:35pm (Irish Time).

On demand….so no need to skip out of work early to catch it on Irish time (ahem Kate!!)

“With viewers in over 100 countries around the world primed to watch the show, tell your friends and family abroad they need not miss out as The Late Late Toy Show 

This is the links you need – https://www.rte.ie/player/ie/live/8/

https://bit.ly/RTE-One-Live 

Host Ryan Tubridy is hugely excited about this year’s show! 

He said: ‘One of the many great things about The Late Late Toy Show is that it is still one of those rare TV events where practically the entire country sits down to collectively enjoy it.’
Even better,’ he continued, ‘Irish people – and their friends – around the world get to watch along at the same time. People watched in 103 countries around the world last year.

‘For that couple of hours on a Friday night we are all connected by the madness that is this utterly unique show.
‘We have something very special planned this year and I think it is going to make a lot of people smile, no matter where they are in the world.’

Enjoy the show folks, we have the snacks in and the tree waiting to go up on time for Friday S xx

Paddy Box….Yes please?! 

One of the things that often comes up when a group of Irish expats get together is the chat of what we miss from home. Obviously there’s the big ones like family and friends but inevitably food will come up….for me it’s a Curley Wurley and Pickled Onion Monster Munch. 

Care Packages are always one of the best things to receive in the post, especially if your spending Christmas away from home. Your mam has definitely sent you a care package or two, and we know that serious effort goes into each item chosen. These items are sourced from all over and not only does she spend a fortune, but then posting the bloody thing would near break the bank!! 

Cue one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time, The Paddy Box….. these lads had the brainwave after seeing friends and family emigrating over the years! 

Each care package comes with 10 different goodies from home! You can also include a personal note which is then shipped ‘with Grá’ to anywhere on the world. 

Boxes start at €49.95 or CA$75.2 – €59.95 or CA$90.2 

If you want a Paddy Box in time for Christmas,( tell your ma) it needs to be ordered by 11th of December or for express delivery 20th of December

There’s a choice of classic Irish favourites like Barry’s tea, Tayto crisps, McDonnell’s Curry sauce and Cadbury’s chocolate, and more! 

Drop some major hints to your ma, by tagging her in this post and sure if she doesn’t get it, go’on order one for yourself       S xx

The Low Down on Shreem Celtic Remixing 

Having just been involved in the Amazing Celtic Island event on Toronto Island, I had to follow up with DJ Shreem who played an absolute blinder to close the night!! 


He had absolutely everyone on the dance floor and had more than a few new fan girls by the end of the night 😉
Having chatted to Jay a few days prior to the event I had to follow up and learn more

Firstly, you were class on the island! What made you take the direction to fuse electronic hip-hop and Celtic music?



 Jay: Fusing celtic, electronic and hip hop music has been an interest on mine for quite some time. I began in music playing in pipe bands and ever since then I’ve always wanted to do something different with celtic music and tunes. I’ve also always loved hip hop and got really in to electronic music when I started DJing at 17. For the past 7 or 8 years, I’ve been messing around with the idea, different sounds, arrangements etc. because I wanted to do something different with celtic style music, and I was already working with and making electronic music and hip hop beats, so I wanted to try mashing them together. I’ve always loved tunes, and wanted to blend the styles of music and production together to give tunes a sonically bigger sound and take them in the emotional direction that I felt from listening to a tune. When I’m making this music, producing the beats, arranging the trad parts etc. I often listen to just the tune, and see what emotions it stirs up in me, then I write my beats, synths, chords etc. around that emotion.

When did you realize that people were into you particular brand of music?

I’ve only recently realized that people were in to what I’m doing. I started making this type of music out of curiosity, and my want to work with celtic music in a different way, so the fact that people like it is a mega bonus. I’ve also done work producing for other artists such as fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, and through releasing works with him I saw an interest pop up in people as to what was happening with the music. When I put out my first record ‘Shreem – celtic remixing’ I then really saw an interest from people as to what I was making, and it’s really cool to see people interested in what I’m doing. It’s great to talk to people about it and have dialogue about it all

Who is your biggest musical influence

Musical influences for me, the number of people and things is too high to list. I get influence from a lot of things in the everyday world, and a ton of different artists. Its very important for me to listen to all kinds of different stuff and stay open minded. Celtic tunes come in all kinds of keys, tempo’s, arrangements etc. so I can simply make one type of beat for every piece, I have to try to get out of my comfort zone when I’m writing my beats and arrangements, because celtic tunes come in so many shapes and sizes.

What advice would you give to others trying to carve out a career in music?

 I’m not sure if there’s any one piece of advice I could give to someone trying to make a life in music. I think staying true to yourself and what you want to do is very important. Pick your lane, know and trust yourself and stick with it. Make or play music that you want to play, if you need to do some other gigs to pay rent, that’s always fine, but keep your head in what you love. I think a lot of finding a life in music is finding yourself, once you know your route, your passion and direction, you’ll be okay. Also, work hard and don’t take yourself too serious.

Lastly and most importantly, when and where are you playing next

Next I’ve got a few gigs with Ashley MacIsaac in Montreal and Ottawa area, then Shreem is headed to the east Coast for music week and some other events. I’m also currently writing my second album, so I’m in the studio a lot, which is where I like to be. Keep your eyes open for the next record!!

Definitely keep your eyes out for this guy!

https://www.shreemmusic.com/

S xx

Bitching and stitching at the Irish Design House

One thing I’ve wanted to learn for ages is how to sew, I had images of a few classes and viola, professional seamstress! Alas that was NOT the case, but I did learn the basics of pattern design, sewing AND I made a pretty nifty tote bag.

Our Bitch and Stitch group was the brain child of Sinéad at the Irish Design house. Sinéad, (who by the way has the patience of a saint) led a group of 6 novice sewers and took them right through the process of learning to sew.  Due to time constraints we decided to start small and create tote bags, Sinéad led us through the process from drawing up a pattern to producing a bag.

19959239_1646192692058913_2392338673019831730_n

We met at The Irish design house for 3 sessions, most of us had never threaded a needle and one or two had tinkered around on a sewing machine. It wasn’t long till the chats were flowing. It was unreal how all the girls immediately were helping one another out, in both sewing and in settling into Toronto life.

The classes took place out the back of the Irish Design house, in a huge workspace, wall to wall with materials, drawings and machines. Sinéad has an impressive collection of sewing machines and really knows the quirks and tricks of each. She let us all get a feel for the machines and gave us ample time to play around and practice the stitches we’d just been taught.  We  were given plenty of time to work and by the end of each class, even though we had ran late I’m sure a few of us would have worked on.

The course cost $115 and included all materials. Just incase you need any more incentive to join a Bitch and Stitch group, sewing may be good for your heart!
A clinical study commissioned by the Home Sewing Association (HSA) reveals that women who sew – both skilled as well as novice sewers — experience a significant drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate when compared to women who participate in other leisure-time activities. Heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate are three key factors in the measurement of stress. The study’s results appear to indicate that sewing helps women to relax while they focus on a creative activity. Not bad for a evenings craic 🙂

For more details Contact Irish Design House

Check out the Bitch and Stitch Facebook Group

Thanks for hosting Sinéad and for the photos!

Sinéad (not from THE IDH 😂)  Xx

 

 

Have you had a Knuckle sandwich?! 

969 Coxwell Avenue, East York

Since moving to Toronto, I’ve been on the eternal quest for a decent Chicken burger! This search has honestly taken me all over the city…but finally I think I’ve found the place! 
Knuckle Sandwich in East York has a menu dedicated to soups, salads, and a selection of massive sandwiches. They also have a deadly selection of craft beers.  


I had the Fried chicken on roasted poblano slaw, topped with chipotle honey and garlic aïoli. $11. It did not disappoint! 


The place is small a rustic-looking room and the whole time we were there, the kitchen was busy cranking out sandwiches and filling take out orders. The street-facing patio is licensed for 14 and was buzzing.

If you get the chance, def check this place out and as usual let us know what ya think?! S x

Driving in Toronto, not for the faint hearted!

enhanced-17762-1442354818-1“I really miss driving” is an actual quote I’ve heard from expat friends here in Toronto! To these people I scold…….Please, I drive 800 km a week, do that for a while and you won’t want to drive for long in Toronto.

HOWEVER if you do decide to drive in Toronto, forget all the manners your mother and father bred into you and follow these handy hints (with a pinch o salt)

 

img_9293

To park or not to park?!

You will get tickets, so many tickets! If a spot looks legit, its probably not!                              The GreenP app will become your new best friend, you can find and pay for parking with it and even better you can extend parking remotely. Where possible, use actual parking spots, tickets can affect your insurance so beware. Another handy app is the Rover app (thanks Brian) This app is great for those who both want or have available parking. The app lets you choose from hundreds of parking spots all over the city. All for under $2 per hour. If you have a spot make some quick extra cash from your empty driveway. Rover let’s you rent it out when you’re not using it. Handy eh?!

 

enhanced-1310-1442348136-7Use your blinker There are two types of people in the world, those who use their turn signal, and douchebags. Worldwide indicating is a common practice to alert other drivers as to your intention to switch lanes. In Toronto blinkers show other drivers that they should speed up to prevent you from doing as you intended.

 

 

tumblr_inline_nil6l6yauQ1qi6hjf

The 401 aka my nightmare!

The 401 is where they weed out the weak. Ontario boasts the busiest and widest highway in the world. You don’t drive on the 401 to get somewhere. You do it for the challenge. Typically if the route planner says an hour on the 401, give yourself at least 30 minutes more and thats not when its rush hour. Rush hour 401 will break even the most patient of people. I have had some of my best musical moments whilst stuck on the 401, I have also arrived home and realised that i have zoned out for the last 40 minutes of the journey. Cars and tow trucks on the side of the road and crashes closing lanes are a constant reminder that you are driving on the highway of hell. Death is mere seconds away at any given moment. They’re always doing construction but nothing is ever finished. Need to take the 401…Good Luck!

 

anigif_enhanced-17269-1391931553-9Beware the trucks, particulary of the Dodge variety. There is a very good chance you are about to be flattened. These guys can see you, but you are irrelevant to them, because 1. they are bigger than you and 2. they are asses! I’m not sure if these vehicles are equipped with indicators because they are rarely seen in use, best practice is just avoid being near them.

Watch for Cyclists and pedestrians, No seriously, there are WAY to many instances of cyclists being hit in the city. Basically drivers and cyclists find it really difficult to co-exist, WHY?! Hell hath no fury like a driver who believes he has been wronged. Hell also hath no fury like a cyclist who believes she has been wronged. Both sides believe they’re doing the right thing and are therefore untouchable, irreproachable, and entitled to lecture on the subject of road safety. Motorists are pissed because of all the bike lanes (and lets admit it, we get jealous when cyclists whizz by) whilst cyclists want more! Lets just be aware of each other. So just so your clear, drivers hate cyclists, cyclists hate drivers and pedestrians hate everyone!

Buses and Streetcars; It’s safe to say that Toronto drivers find streetcars to be annoying. They’re slower than cars, they take up an entire lane, and even both lanes at a transit stop when passengers load on and get off. You know my pain if you’ve ever gotten stuck behind a street car on queen street. Buses aren’t so annoying, however they do have right of way on the road, so if they signal out in front of you, do not try to pass…It can lead to a ticket.

sub-buzz-3412-1474567943-15Traffic Lights; If the light is Green, go immediately….do not hestitate! I’ve never been beeped at more than when you the light turns green, and believe me I don’t hang around. In fact, I found that if you can begin to inch forward before the light turns they would really appreciate that. If the light is orange, you might think, slow down and get ready to stop. DO NOT slow down DO NOT stop! Orange means foot down you can make it.

And that’s driving in normal mode. Lest we forget about the six-month long Ontario winter and enter some top-tier level of driving. Let us know i you have any driving advice you’d like to share, and be safe of the roads. S xx