Learning to enjoy living with a boy…

Learning to enjoy living with a boy…

So here we are, at the last major challenge I mentioned in my Hello Milton… post several weeks ago. What it all comes down to is living with a boy for the first time.  That is, living with a “farm boy,” who grew up in Milton, and is the boyest boy (that should really be a term) out there. While I like to think Taylor and I have a great deal in common, our differences are immediately more obvious than our similarities. Taylor is incredibly athletic and sports orientated; I cannot throw or catch a ball for my life. I love to read; Taylor would not pick up a book and read it if his Proline picks for the week depended on it.  I do computers; Taylor does physical labour. I get manicures; Taylor works on his callouses. I enjoy the city; Taylor prefers the country. I think you get the point.  What bonds us together and what brought us together in the first place are our shared values and our goals in life, not our hobbies or interests.

So how do two people who are so different make it work? The truth is, like all things that are worth it in life, you have to work at it.

9 Tips on how to enjoy living with a boy (after moving to the suburbs):

  1. Learn to let go. Of course you have standards, and so does he, but just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to him. Yes, you go crazy if there’s toothpaste stuck to the sink, but you can’t expect him to be bothered by that too. It’s likely something his eyes just glaze over, and it’s as good as not there. It’s important to have a discussion about those things that bother each of you the most, and come to an agreement on what is most important. Let the rest go.
  1. Find your ‘thing’ as a couple. That is, find something that you love to do together. It may end up being something new to both of you, or it may be something you have always been interested in. No matter what your thing is, it has to be something you can enjoy as a couple and something you reserve for just the
    Taylor and I hiking with Dexter
    Taylor and I out for a hike with Dexter

    two of you. I grew up gardening, and Taylor is a Landscaper, so gardening easily became one of our things. As I mentioned in the Charms of the farm… post, we create a vegetable garden every year. Another hobby, which admittedly we do less often, is hiking. This is something that became a new hobby for both of us, and has turned out to be something we really enjoy doing together.

  1. Maintain your own ‘thing’. While it’s important to have activities that you do
    Kendall and I posing prior to our half marathon
    Me doing my ‘thing’

    together, it’s also important to have your own hobbies. These are likely things that you were into before, but it’s always good to be on the look-out for new ones. My ‘things’ are yoga, running, reading, and going to Toronto for good food and drinks with my friends. Taylor’s are golf, hockey, bowling, and most anything he can do with his guy friends. These hobbies are at the center of who we are and it’s important to keep them up.

  1. Have some shared friends and some friends you keep for yourself. When you come together as a couple from different places, you will naturally have different friends. While you will want to have some mutual friends, you don’t need to share ALL of your friends. He’s going to have friends that you don’t have much in common with, and vice versa. You will likely find that you end up with one group of shared friends that hangs out together all of the time (they probably live where you live), while the rest of
    Taylor with the Milton Girls, my friend Katie and me
    Taylor & some of our shared friends

    your friends are simply your partner’s acquaintances…that is it, and that’s OK.

  1. Be romantic! Make a point of staying romantic. You moved to the ‘burbs for a reason! Taylor is incredibly good at making me feel important to him, and he never misses an opportunity to tell me so. I try to do the same in return. It’s important. We also make a point of having dates on a regular basis, and I’m not talking a few hours here and there. We have date days! Usually these involve a few errands, but we always try to spend most of it doing something we enjoy together. This helps to keep our relationship a relationship, not a marathon of to do lists.
  1. Defined responsibilities. While I am all for breaking that glass ceiling and destroying gender roles, I do think it’s important to openly discuss and determine who is responsible for what on a weekly basis. It avoids that
    Taylor playing hockey in winter and croquet in summer
    Taylor doing his ‘thing’

    whole game of waiting each other out, which you inevitably feel like you’ve lost. Openly talk about what things MUST be done (refer to tip #1), and who will handle them. Living in the suburbs, this list can be long and overwhelming, so divide and conquer!  And, if you want to do something really nice for your partner, you can always surprise them by doing one of their tasks for them. They will notice and they will appreciate it.

  1. Put them first, sometimes. I know they say love is about giving up your own needs for the needs of another, but I have to say, I am not one hundred percent on board with that. You don’t want to lose yourself and give up your entire being for the sake of someone else.  If you both do that, what’s left? Two versions of the same person? Being the same is not what makes the world go round.   What I propose is something less transformational.  Instead of always thinking about what’s in it for me, try to often think of what’s in it for them? It will change your perspective and maybe you can come up with a solution that makes you both happy.
  1. Sometimes you are right. Sometimes you are wrong. That’s about it. Admit when you are wrong, and do not gloat when you are right (well, not too much anyway).
  1. When you are ready… share a new responsibility. Sharing responsibility for something that is important to you both provides a feeling of of camaraderie. Dexter as a puppy and as he looks nowBuying a new house together is a good example, or planning a big trip together, or if you really want to go big, have a baby (I am only kidding – this is not a real tip!). Our first shared responsibility was when we got our dog, Dexter. Dexter has brought Taylor and I closer, in more ways than I am sure either of us realize. He has given us the opportunity to raise him together: caring for him, training him, teaching him, and loving him. He provides endless entertainment and companionship for us both, especially when one of us is away. On top of that, loving Dexter reminds us both how much we love each other.

Of course, I can’t promise that these will come easily, or that they will make for a perfect relationship, because there is no such thing. Remembering that will help keep your expectations in check and remind you why you moved in together in the first place, and will keep what’s truly important in your heart. Now go love and be loved!

Before you go, here is just one example of the pure entertainment Dexter provides us on a regular basis. I promise, there will be more on Dexter in future posts.

Listening Recommendation Week 6: Let’s have a laugh…

Listening Recommendation Week 6: Let’s have a laugh…

They say laughter is the best medicine, so I thought I’d do a listening recommendation that will help you de-stress on the way to work. I can’t think of too many people funnier than Tina Fey. Okay, maybe there’s a few, but I do appreciate her humour, which is why I decided to download her audio-book Bossypants.  Written and narrated by Tina Fey herself, Bossypants is a comedic autobiography that basically covers Fey’s life, from birth to the point at which she wrote the book. Fey hilariously pieces together the story of her life and career, with several quirky anecdotes, and often goes off on amusing rants about this, that or the other thing. You are sure to get a laugh listening to this.

Check out an excerpt from the beginning of Bossypants, where Fey goes on a short rant about her scar. Good news, Bossypants is available on OverDrive, so enjoy!

What are you listening to? 

New to town…

New to town…

Okay, so maybe it’s all of the feel good holiday movies on TV right now, or the number of social events on my calendar this month, but I find myself reflecting on how much Milton has truly come to feel like home, and more and more it feels like the place where I belong. One of the biggest challenges you face when moving for love is the factor of being the new girl, or as many people called me during my first year in Milton, “Taylor’s Girlfriend.” Taylor is a pretty popular guy and he knows a lot of people in his hometown, but introductions are not his strong suit.  Being new to town could have been rather intimidating, but when I started to look for the positives, I actually found myself in a very fortunate position. Here’s why.

First of all, I actually have family here! When I first met Taylor, my Aunt Joanne and Uncle Desmond had lived in Milton for several years, and it was for this reason

Me and my Grandmother
My Grandma and I

alone that I was already familiar with it. From my nervous excitement on the hour long GO bus ride to visit Taylor for the first time, to the early days of living in Milton, knowing my family was nearby was very comforting. It gave me a sense of home and an extra sense of security.  My Aunt and Uncle provided a quiet support that allowed me to make Milton my own, but they let me know they were there if I needed them. Not long after I moved to Milton, my Grandmother also moved here. As we both grow older, it has been an amazing gift to have her so close by. It was something I wasn’t expecting and has given me the opportunity to spend time with her, which I otherwise would not have had.

It is also important that I share the huge role Taylor’s family has played in making Milton my home. Taylor’s family welcomed me with open arms from the first day I met them and quickly became an important part of my life here. Taylor’s parents have a special way of making you feel like one of the family and we have a strong passion for travel in common.  In fact, we have traveled together at least once a year since I met Taylor, to places as far away as Koh Samui, Thailand. It was during this particular trip that I also became very close with Taylor’s sister Chas and her fiancé, now husband, Todd. Both Chas and Todd helped me settle into my suburban life in countless ways, from helping me buy my first new car, to helping Taylor and I get our first pet together.  I feel very lucky to have Taylor’s family as my own.  We get together for family dinners on a regular basis and I look forward to those Sundays when we sit around the table for hours after dinner talking and laughing.

Our family trip to Thailand

Aside from family, it is also Taylor’s friends that helped turned Milton into my home. The network of friends Taylor has is impressive.  Everyone knows everyone, and they all show up to support one another in both hard times and good.  It really is something special.  For me, it was Taylor’s closest friends and especially their partners that made the biggest impression. From the start, the girls were great about asking Taylor and I to hang out as couples, and sometimes they would ask me to hang out solo too. That gave me the push I needed to be brave and start doing some asking myself. In the end it wasn’t a big deal at all, and meeting up started to happen a lot more organically. We often get together over wine, take the dogs for a walk or to the dog park, and sometimes we even take in the odd Niagara wine tour. Every summer we head up to a cottage for a weekend or two, as a big group (guys and sometimes even dogs included). It’s always a blast. These are friendships that are truly built to last.

Speaking of friendships that last, another fortunate turn of events happened before
I even moved to Milton, resulting in one of my closest Milton friendships. The

The Milton Girls
The Milton Girls and I

summer before I moved to Milton I had a few of my Toronto girlfriends up to Milton for a bonfire. At the last minute, I asked my work friend, Adina, if she wanted to join us. She agreed! She needed a change of pace from the city and she wanted an evening away with the girls. The bonfire turned into a big party, with lots of Taylor’s male friends in attendance. This will not come as a shock to those of you who know the farm. So much for that girl’s night! Sure enough, Adina ended up chatting with one of Taylor’s friends, they hit it off, and six months after I moved to Milton, Adina did as well. It’s been great having a friend from my Toronto life here with me, especially someone who is going through all of the same challenges of commuting and living in the suburbs as I am. We are discovering Milton together, have learned a lot from each other in the process, and I think we both agree that the suburbs and Milton aren’t so bad after all.

In conclusion, how you handle being new to town is all about perspective. It might be easy to feel alone and feel out of place, but I’ve found that focusing on the positive works out a lot better. Look at the people you have around you and find ways to connect with them.  Is there someone else that’s new to town as well? Go talk to them! It might be hard for you and it can be intimidating, but I promise it is one hundred percent worth it.  Having a network of people who care about you and a place you can call home is what life is all about. Happy holidays everyone!

Who is home to you?

Listening Recommendation Week 5: Gotta love that true-crime…

Listening Recommendation Week 5: Gotta love that true-crime…

My listening recommendation this week is another podcast, and another true-crime podcast at that. You just gotta love that true-crime. It’s so addictive! If you’ve finished the first season of Serial, I know that you have been left wanting more. Fear not, I have something for you, and this time you can satisfy your true-crime craving with a story that’s a bit closer to home.

Someone Knows Something Season 1, by CBC, is hosted, written and produced by the award-winning independent Canadian filmmaker, David Ridgen. Raised in Arnprior, Ontario, David Ridgen takes us back to his home town to open up a cold case from 1972. The case involves a five-year-old boy, named Adrien McNaughton, who vanished into thin air while fishing with his family in Eastern Ontario. An intensive search and investigation ensued, but no sign of Adrien, or what happened to him, was ever found. With a proven track record for solving cold cases, David Ridgen may be able to solve a case that has remained a mystery for over forty years.

With a Canadian focus, Someone Knows Something offers up a much more personal listening experience for Canadians. Listen to what David Ridgen has to say about this podcast and why he started it in the first place.

Happy listening!

What are you listening to? 

Craft beer and my evening in the city…

Craft beer and my evening in the city…

As I have mentioned before, one of the hardest things about moving to Milton was leaving behind my Toronto girls and our adventures in the city.  I have found the way to deal with this challenge is to make a point of having a full night out in the city every once in a while, and to do it up right! That means good food, good drinks, and trying something new, all in the company of good friends.

Last Friday I did just that, attending The Art of Craft Beer at the Super Wonder Gallery in Toronto, in support of the not-for-profit organization, SKETCH. It was a wonderful evening of delicious food, beautiful artwork and amazing craft beer. Check out a full rendition of The Art of Craft Beer Event – My evening in the city on Storify.

Sawdust Brewing Co. Stand at The Art of Craft Beer and their artwork
The Sawdust City Brewing Co. station at The Art of Craft Beer
Often my adventures in the city involve Ontario Craft Beer in some fashion, but the craft beer movement is not limited to Toronto. Far from it! Check out this video on the big impact of Ontario craft breweries…

“What about Milton?” you ask. Oh, we’re on it! Check out Milton’s very own Orange Snail Brewers for your taste of local Milton craft beer and follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Who’s your favourite craft brewer? 

Listening Recommendation: Week 4 …Are you hungry yet?

Listening Recommendation: Week 4 …Are you hungry yet?

Since my last post was all about delicious food, I thought I would share a listening recommendation that literally made my mouth water.  That’s right, an audio-book that makes your mouth water! The Lost Recipe for  Happiness, by Barbara O’Neal, narrated by Bernadette Dunne, is a delectable story about a female chef, Elena, who finds herself with The Lost Recipe for Happiness on Libraries on the Gothe opportunity of a lifetime –the chance to run her own kitchen.

Of course, opportunities like these are often attended by a great deal of self-reflection and Elena is forced to face her past, while working hard to build herself a happy future. This story offers a bit of everything, with some romance, drama and action, accompanied by several traditional Mexican recipes, that when read aloud, will make you want to either cook or eat, or most likely both.

Barbara O’Neal does a fantastic job of character building, giving you the sense that you are meeting the new characters and getting to know them as Elena does. Likewise, Bernadette Dunne does a beautiful job narrating, giving the characters life as she uses tone and accents to give each one a unique voice. If you love food and love to cook, this is a book for you. Happy listening!

What are you listening to?

Food in the ‘burbs

Food in the ‘burbs

Okay, so I don’t know if I meet the full criteria of being labeled a “foodie,” but I would consider myself a great lover of all things food and drink.  I am passionate about what I choose to eat and I don’t like eating mediocre food. Living in Toronto, what I would consider a food Mecca, put me at the center of endless, amazing food possibilities. As for Milton, well it just kind of fell flat in comparison. That was until I gave it a chance.

As it turns out, Milton is full of fabulous local joints, serving up very tasty bites AND at a suburban discount. Don’t get me wrong, we are still a bit limited (especially after 10 P.M.), but for the most part there is enough to keep me talking about my last great meal.

Here are 6 of my favourite places to eat in Milton: 

Mama Mila’sMama Mila’s is a café in the plaza at Thompson and Derry. It is a simple, yet adorable, family-run café, offering up a variety of homemade sandwiches, soups and pierogies, on top of regular café fare. While the pierogies are delicious, it is their sandwiches that keep me coming back – the South Western to be exact. It is a true South Western, loaded with black beans, corn, red peppers, green onion, lettuce and cheddar cheese, all wrapped in a crepe thin egg, with shaved ham and served on a perfectly soft, yet crusty bun.  Try this with a side of their dill seasoned Borscht (beet soup) for a great lunch.

Mama Mila's Cafe

Fresh AddictsLocated in the James Snow Pkwy and Main St. plaza, Fresh Addicts is a juice and salad bar with a flair for making healthy food choices taste great. While this is a Cold Pressed Juicepricier option for take-out in Milton, it is definitely a good choice and worth every penny to treat your body right.  With a variety of options for any meal of the day, Fresh Addicts makes salads, smoothies, wraps and bowls to order; all of which are made with wholesome, fresh and organic produce. You can also get your “juice on” here, as they offer a wide selection of cold pressed juices to get that necessary boost of vitamins into your diet. My go-to meal is the Sante Fe salad, which is made with romaine lettuce (I swap it Fresh Cold Pressed Juicefor the spring mix), avocado, tomato, core black beans, cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips. I get it with a side of pesto salad dressing and add an egg for protein. All salads and bowls are priced by weight, so you can add as much or as little as you like and they have a variety of seed options like hemp and flax to further boost the nutritional factor. Shout out to Cousin Chelsea for introducing me to this healthy place and the Sante Fe salad!

For more information on Fresh Addicts and a virtual tour of their restaurant, check out The Joyce of Cooking blog and the post Freshly Addicted to Milton’s Healthy Restaurant: Fresh Addicts.

The Ivy Arms Their chicken wings to be exact! To be honest, I haven’t tried much else at The Ivy Arms, because their wings are just so darn tasty. They are huge jumbo wings, breaded (or not), fried up and tossed in your choice of sauce or dry dusted in Cajun, lemon or salt and pepper.  With the Sargent Farms retail store just across the street, you know they have to be fresh, and they are cheap Sunday through Thursday at 65 cents a wing (with the purchase of a beverage).  The Ivy Arms, or “The Ivy” as it’s called by locals, is a true Irish style pub, located on Main St. in downtown Milton.  Pub food dominates the menu, and they have a wide variety of beers on tap as well as daily specials. I love the laidback, cozy vibe there, and they have a large patio overlooking Main St. for those warm summer days.

Oshima Sushi All-You-Can-Eat  Like many sushi lovers, I was very skeptical of the whole all-you-can-eat sushi movement, so when I moved to Milton and all you could eat was “all-you-can-eat sushi,” I was rather unimpressed.* Toronto has some fantastic sushi joints and I had developed some rather high standards, so you will be surprised to know that I’ve been converted. Our go to spot is Oshima Sushi on Main Street. I say we because you should really do all-you-can-eat sushi with a group of people. Our friends Ryan and Adina usually help us out with that, and after a great deal of practice, we have finally mastered a routine to get the most out of our visits. If you Google search Oshima, you may notice they don’t have the best rating. That is likely due to the service being on the slow side, but I guarantee you it is worth the wait. Oshima is a fairly busy spot, so I am certain the fish is fresh, and they have some pretty awesome choices that rock my food world. I recommend the Fantastic Roll, which is topped with grilled red snapper, the grilled salmon sushi (you’re noticing a trend here) and the white tuna sashimi.

*To clarify, Milton does in fact have a regular Sushi restaurant called Sushi-Ya which is known to be quite good; however, the price comparison for the quantity of food is significant, causing most of our friends to want to go with All-You-Can-Eat instead.

Cheesecake with a candle.
The complimentary pistachio, vanilla and bourbon cheesecake from Pasqualino.

Pasqualino If it’s something a little fancier you are after, Pasqualino is your best bet. Located on Main St. in downtown Milton, Pasqualino is a beautifully designed, family owned Italian restaurant. Recently renovated, this restaurant has a truly elegant ambiance. Add in delicious, high quality food and amazing service, and you’ll find yourself making plans to come back before you even leave. Check out my Google Review of the restaurant after a fabulous dining experience there last January.

La Rose Specialty Foods & Fine Italian Bakery  Another family owned business, La Rose is an amazing place for all things food. Located in the plaza at Bronte and Anne Blvd., they

Mixed Olives
La Rose Mixed Olives

carry groceries, specialty goods, a to-die-for hot table, baked goods, bread and so much more, including a well-stocked and cared for garden center during the summer months.
n top of this, I find La Rose to be incredibly well priced and I visit for many reasons. If I am having a party, I’ll stop in to grab some specialty cheeses, meats and olives from their fabulous olive bar. Try the Sicilian Butter Olives (aka Castelvetrano olives); they are not
your typical olive and they literally melt in your mouth. If I want to make homemade pizza, I will pick up a bag of pre-made dough at La Rose, along with their quality mozzarella and any other toppings we want to add.  Another reason to go to La Rose is their hot table – think fine dining Italian food, to go. If they happen to have their chicken bacon lasagna, I highly recommend it.

There are several other great food places in and around Milton, and I am sure there many more I have yet to try.  When I have a particularly good meal somewhere, I will be sure to report back. Stay tuned food lovers!

Do you have a favourite food spot in the GTA? I’d love some recommendations!