Red Red Wine

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What is it with Moms and wine?  I’ve always enjoyed wine.  But since I’ve become a Mom, me and wine are kind of tight.  We used to buy a bottle here and there for when we had dinner parties or a special occasion.  Maybe we’d treat ourselves in a restaurant.  But now, I have a rack in the basement.  Well, actually we have (ahem) two racks.  I keep bottles of sauvignon blanc in the fridge; one open and one ready to open.  We have nice bottles we save for that aforementioned special occasion but now we keep “everyday wine” in the house.  Do we have a problem?  And what is the correlation with the arrival of our kids on the scene?

Lets think about this.  We all know that Moms + Wine is a thing.  Its a running gag.  A joke.  Moms like wine.  Moms need wine to cope.  I don’t think that I need wine more now that I’ve had kids (well, maybe a little more….) but I can say that I like it more.  Did this love affair kick in when my kids were born and I was nursing so I couldn’t very well jump right back into scotch on the rocks territory?  Was that it?  Its like booze light.  You’re practically encouraged to indulge in a glass of wine or two while you’re breastfeeding.

There is always the intimation that Moms need wine to cope with all the sh*t (figuratively AND literally) that their kids throw at them.  I wouldn’t say that I need wine to dull the senses from kid-related trauma as much as it is a nice treat at the end of a long day of wearing so many hats and juggling so many people that need your undivided attention.  Its like going for a pedicure, except for the fact that you enjoy it sitting at your kitchen table and no one will rub your feet.

I’ve grown so accustomed to that lovely glass of wine at the end of a long day that on a recent business trip in NYC very late one night, I was ready for a glass of wine.  The hotel we were at was under receivership or up for sale or some other such nonsense and the hotel bar was closed.  I found myself in a greasy pizza take out joint in the Village and lo and behold in the cooler next to the diet coke were tiny little bottles of the sh*ttiest pinot grigio one could find.  I squealed when I saw it!  I took a little mini-bottle to the cashier along with my contraband full gluten/ all dairy/ full grease NYC cheese pizza 1am dinner only to be completely denied!

“Sorry Ma’am” (ugh, now I’m really in Mom territory), “But I can’t let you take this wine out of here.  You have to drink it now.”

So that was then I had to face the facts.  How much has this wine indulgence of mine actually become a problem?  Did I need my “pedicure” so bad after a long day that I was willing to chug-a-lug a crap mini-bottle of PG in front of 3 dudes in the middle of a greasy Greenwich Village pizza joint?

“Um. No thanks.”  I said as I tromped out with my slice.

I got back to the hotel hoping and praying the bar was miraculously open.  No luck.  Now I’m sure you’re all thinking, “But you’re in NYC.  The City that Never Sleeps?  C’mon R&R Mom hit a bar!”  But I’m a girl.  Alone.  On the road.  Who’s over 40.  And Married.  And a total scaredy cat.  So I went back to my room and double bolted the door.  I opened the minibar.  No dice.  The whole receivership/ sale drama caused the grand full hotel mini-bar clean out earlier that day.  I needed my fix.  It was late.  I had jetlag.  It was a long rough day.  I wanted ONE glass of wine.  Is that so wrong????

Just then I turned to see there on the desk, a pile of room service plates with their nifty silver covers.  Huh.  I wasn’t in all day.  Who ordered these?  Stinky cheese, warm fruit and stale crackers.  But there, right beside it stood the most beautiful bottle of mediocre chianti that I have ever seen.  Well, being the Canadian that I am I immediately picked up the phone and called the reception:

“I’m sorry. (we Canadians ALWAYS say that) But it seems someone has mistakenly delivered some room service to my room.  Some stinky cheese and warm fruit.  But there’s also a full UNOPENED bottle of wine.” I said.

“Was there a note?” said the somewhat irritated front desk worker.

“Uhhh, no.”

“Then I guess its complimentary.”

Huh, well I guess it was the WINE FAIRY!!!!!!  Thank YOU beloved WINE FAIRY!!!!  You heard my plea and took pity on this old bag and her addiction.  I cracked that bottle, poured a solid 4 fingers, drank half and fell fast asleep.

And that my friends is just one more story of Moms and their relationship with wine.

Enjoy the Journey?

I’m on the road a lot lately. Its a busy time so I’m traveling far and wide these days. The trouble is, the more I travel, the less patience I have for the newbie. I try to be sympathetic and always manage to muster some courtesy, but lately its all wearing a little thin when I seem to find myself trapped on an airplane more often than not. So I thought I might try and help you newbie travelers with some sage advice. Remember, I am also quite bossy so this is probably not unexpected.

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1. Don’t be Late
I have never missed a flight. Its probably due to my genetic pre-disposition to arrive at an airport 2 hours early (thanks Dad!). Airline check in times are a hard and fast rule. They’re not making any exceptions for you. We all know that you slept in/ cab didn’t arrive/ forgot to pack – sure that happens – but honestly don’t count on all the other people that set their alarm/ called the cab earlier/ packed the night before to let you budge the line. The same goes for getting to the gate on time. The time of your flight is the time they take off. You need to be there 30 minutes before for boarding. NO ONE appreciates the wait to have your luggage taken off the plane when you’re not there before the doors close.

2. Don’t Forget to Empty Your Pockets
Its security and yes we all know that its a massive drag. But unless you are TSA Pre and if you want it to go smoothly and quickly for YOU (and everyone behind you in line) there’s a few things to ALWAYS remember.
(a) Take off your shoes, belt, watch, bracelet. Its easier to take them off and put them back on again than to have a full pat down.
(b) Always take your laptop out of your bag and put it in a bin on its own. Trust. This is a necessity.
(c) Take off your coat, sweater, scarf – wear the least amount of clothes when passing through the metal detector.
(d) Always empty your pockets. NO ONE likes the dude who left $4 in change in his pocket and has to return for another pass once he’s fished out every last useless penny.

3. Don’t Try to Carry-On Full Size Liquids and Gels
This is not new. Full sized liquids and gels are not allowed in your carry on. And no, the security guard doesn’t care that the full bottle of shampoo you’re trying to smuggle cost $35. Get the travel size, put it in a ziploc and stop holding up the security line. Oh and PS – they won’t let you take your water either, so stop acting surprised!  Check out this link so you know the deal for next time.

4. Don’t Carry-On More than is Allowed
I’m very emphatic on this point. People that climb on board expecting to stuff their full sized rollerboard along with a suit bag, a duffle bag, a back pack and various shopping bags in the overhead compartment are just plain old selfish. I get it, we don’t like to pay checked bag fees, but the people that follow the rules and only bring 2 pieces max are the ones that end up having to gate check their laptop.

5. Don’t Try to Stash Your Stuff Just Anywhere
Under the seat in front of you, in the overhead or in the seat pocket are the only places where you can put your stuff. Your things do not, I repeat DO NOT go under your seat. That space is for the person behind you. And so on and so on. Think about it.

6. Don’t Spread Your Germs Around the Plane
Don’t fly if you’re sick. But if you absolutely have to, then do your best to keep it to yourself. Tissues, hand sanitizer, a mask. Whatever, just think about it before you start hacking and sneezing all over the healthy guy sitting millimetres beside you.

7. Don’t Steal the Armrests
I had the distinct pleasure (read: HORROR) of being stuck in a middle seat on a 9 hour Transatlantic flight the other day. I was between 2 men, both complete strangers and BOTH were armrest hogs. The amount that that sucked was a lot.

8. Don’t Be Mean to the Flight Attendants
Imagine if your workplace was a confined space, 34,000 feet in the air and full of cranky, tired, stressed out people that you had to cater too (and potentially save their lives if necessary). Cut them some slack. Its a tough job and a sense of humour can only get you so far!

9. Don’t Recline Your Seat Right After Take Off/ During the Meal or At All on a Flight Under Two Hours
Seriously, this is just common sense. If you’re reclining your seat you are being selfish. As airlines continue to reduce personal space on airplanes, the guy behind you does not enjoy the back of your seat in his face. Believe me. Your douchey need for a marginal increase in comfort (seriously, is it really any more comfortable to recline the seat the 5 extra degrees?) effects everyone behind you.

10. Don’t Be Rude When DePlaning
This is very simple. Unless you are about to miss a connecting flight, you wait politely until the row ahead of you has entered the aisle to deplane. Pushing ahead, forcing your way only slows everything down. We know you’re excited to be at your destination and we totally get that you want the hell off that bucket of bolts that just safely delivered you to the place you want to be, but come on. A little common courtesy here will make the whole thing easier to take.

Yes, this was a bitchy post. But a little common sense and awareness goes a long way in making your trip easier for you and your fellow travelers.

Cry Me a River

Do what you love... if you can find the time...

Do what you love… if you can find the time…

Yeah, I know.  Its been over a month since my last post.  LAME.  I get it.  The only excuse I can muster is life.  Its busy.  Break neck pace, I wanna punch someone in the kidney busy.  Its true that I do prefer busy to bored, but its so busy right now I’m struggling to keep it all together.

Its when all the worlds collide.  Super busy stuff at the office (like MEGA busy) and too much stuff to manage at home.  Just today I’ve been navigating a dead tree, a warranty claim on our new floors, window washing, preschool enrollment and scrambling to book the birthday party I should have booked weeks ago.  None of these things seem to be easy to do.

All this on the heels of yet another lice infestation at our house so we’re up to our follicles in tea tree treatments, essential oils and nit combs.  Its so fun.  The two hour ritual every night of combing through the locks of two very impatient and irritated wee lassies.  I check myself every day but the phantom creepy crawly itch never goes away even though I haven’t found a bugger yet.  *shudder*

There’s something about the springtime for out and out scheduling challenges, right?  Shorty #1 is in a choir so we’re ramping up for the end of the year performance.  Its rehearsals and choreography and now I get to try and make her a bird costume.  Got that?  A freaking bird costume!!

We’re spring flinging at the school so that means volunteering to do something that isn’t atrocious (like trying to bake sh*tty cupcakes).  Its also time for fundraising and donations.  Fun runs and silent auctions and such.  Its all a little manic when Mommy has to go on the road next week.

If only cloning was ok…

Hotel Awards

Regular followers of the R&R Mom know I am quite vocal about service when traveling, especially in hotels and on planes.  So it came to me that I should probably recognize some of my favorite places to stay with my first ever (and probably only) Hotel Amenities Awards.  So without further ado (even though there is hardly any “ado” anyways), here we go:

Best Hotel BedThe Four Seasons Los Angeles

Let’s face it.  The reason MOST of us are staying at a hotel is for a place to sleep so the quality of the bed, bedding, mattress AND pillows is of the utmost.  The bed at the Four Seasons LA has the perfect pillow to bed size ratio and is just cushy and cozy enough to lull this jetlagged old bag off to a deep slumber.

Sleep...

Sleep…

Best Hotel Bathroom – TIE – The Sunset Marquis West Hollywood and The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

The Sunset Marquis wins for best bathtub.  The Cosmopolitan wins for sheer size and layout.

Best Hotel Bathroom Amenities – TIE – The Chateau Marmont West Hollywood and the W Hotel Hong Kong

The Kiehls products stacked up at the Chateau Marmont overrides the tired old bathrooms in desperate need of an upgrade.  At the W in Hong Kong, its all about the quantity of items.  Dental kits, shaving kits, bathing kits.  This place would be heaven if you lost your luggage.

Best Hotel Towels Claridges London

Big, soft, fluffy.  That in and of itself in a hotel towel is miraculous – but add in a fresh lavender scent and I’m in heaven.

Best Hotel MiniBarThe Thief Oslo

Clothing.  In the minibar.  Are you freaking kidding me?  It was like shopping in your room.  Another respite for weary luggageless travelers.

Best Breakfast The Sofitel Buenos Aires

No matter what you order, they bring croissants and pain au chocolat and those awesome Argentine treats Alfajores (chocolate covered dulce de leche cookies – shut. the. f^&%. up they are delicious).  Not to mention the entire pot of dulce de leche on the table to slather on your toast.  Disclaimer – I was pregnant when I stayed here, can you tell?

Best Hotel RestaurantGemma at The Bowery New York

Baked eggs with avocado and prosciutto for breakfast?  Do I need to say more?

Best Hotel Bar – TIE Lobby Bar at The Bowery New York and Vertigo at The Banyan Tree Bangkok

You have to battle to get a table after 10pm but it is one of the coziest, sexiest bars I’ve ever been too.  Vertigo is on the 61st floor overlooking Bangkok.  Who cares what the drinks are like.  You’re so high up, you’re already buzzing from lack of oxygen!

Best Hotel Swimming Pool – TIE – The Sunset Marquis West Hollywood and The Four Seasons Los Angeles

Of course LA hotels have the best pools.  The Sunset Marquis has 2 but I prefer the upper pool near the restaurant as opposed to the one in the courtyard.  More sun and more fun.  The pool at the Four Seasons is on the 4th floor, gets sun all day and is sheltered from the wind enough that its usable almost year round.

Best Hotel SpaEvason Six Senses Hua Hin Thailand

Outdoors comes indoors as geckos and frogs hop around the spa.  The Thai Yoga Massage was easily one of the best I’ve ever had.

 

 

 

 

Flying Frequently?

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I’m on airplanes.  A lot.  The experience of jet travel has slowly declined since its inception.  The days of the glamorous jetliner where guests dressed in their finest and were seated in the lap of luxury are now long long gone – unless of course you can fork over the cash to upgrade into business class (or better).  For the majority, the experience is nothing better than a flying Greyhound bus – perhaps worse as you’re often trapped in your miniscule seat for hours and hours with no chance for escape at the next stop.

From the start, the whole concept of flying is completely backwards from any other consumer experience we face today.  Think about it – in what other industry do you pay hundreds, often thousands of dollars to submit to a strip search and then be held hostage behind guards until you board the plane.  Not to mention if you’re delayed – to be kept completely in the dark with misinformation or worse lack of information with little to no regard for your comfort or schedule.  Imagine if this happened when you went shopping for a big screen TV?  God forbid if you become frustrated or angry at the lack of regard for your needs after spending all that money, then you can be branded difficult and then denied to take the trip at all?  I mean come on.

In the airline business, the customer is no longer a customer.  You’re merely someone who paid a lot of money to 9 times out of 10 be treated like shit.  And we still submit to this every single day.

On a recent trip out of New York, I arrived at the airport ahead of a flight to Nashville only to find out that not only had my flight been cancelled, but that the airline had graciously booked me on another flight just 36 hours later.  No consideration, compensation or EVEN accommodation was made for the inconvenience.   All day I checked online to make sure the flight was on time and only learned of the cancellation when I tried to check in.  It turns out the flight was cancelled due to Air Traffic Conditions.  The airport was too busy to accommodate all of the flights it had confirmed for the day.  Right.  Ok.

As a result of the cancellation, I had to pay to get myself back to Manhattan, lose a deposit on the Nashville hotel and pay for another night in my NY hotel.  Since my trip to Nashville was only for one night, it meant that entire leg of my trip was now off and I was forced to re-route home.  When the dust settled, the airline had the nerve to charge me a change fee and refused to refund for the leg of the trip out of Nashville that I couldn’t take due to their cancellation.

When (and if) you get on board the plane, the fun doesn’t stop.  Why on earth are they making the seats smaller and closer together?  I mean, I get the concept of cramming more bodies on that metal tube so the airline can make more money, but really?  I worry that the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis increases exponentially everytime the person sitting in front of me, reclines their seat.  Dude, I am quite sure that the extra 3 inches of space you gained in front of your nose must make you so much more comfortable.  The last time I flew a new “tourist class” airline, I had a rather intimate relationship with the seat back in front of me, it was that close.

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Should we talk about the food?  Like why?  Why try and be fancy when that really stopped the day they replaced the silverware with plastic.  At this point, can we just simplify things?  Nice fresh sandwiches.  Cheese and crackers.  Fruit that’s not served with some kind of strange dip.  Keep it simple if it can’t be fancy.  Simple and good would be just fine.

And Wifi.  Really, I would pay for wifi on an airplane EVERY TIME I FLY.  Did you hear that?  PAY REAL MONEY.  Its not hard to do, some airlines are on the case with this.  For those of you airlines that haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet – WHY THE HELL NOT?  I know lots of people that would very happily pay for wifi on a flight.  Lets just do it, ok?

The real question here is why does the airline industry seem to not get these things.  Why have the basics of customer needs fallen so far by the wayside?  And why do we as the consumers continue to allow the bad service and crummy experiences to happen over and over again?  Why?   What can we do about this as an unhappy consumer?  Go with the competition who are no better? Write a letter.  HA!  What good does that do?  Oh, here’s a voucher for $50 for future travel with the offending airline.

I guess as long as we want to travel as much as we do, the experience will continue to, for the most part, completely suck.  At this point we are so used to the dramas of air travel as commonplace that a good flight, with good experience is something to get excited about.  So for now, I guess we celebrate the good days when they happen and commiserate together the commonplace occurrence of yet another travel day horror story.

The Guilty Mama

I’m on the road.  Again.  Writing today from the very glamorous Newark Liberty Airport.  I’m on a week long, two-city trip.  Its day 1 and I’m feeling some relief as the guilt shopping is complete… already!  Wahoo.

You see, the business traveling mama must relieve her guilt in being away from her brood by returning with a vast array of gifts.  The gifts are used as rewards for good behaviour with Dad, to help soften the blow for the next inevitable journey and/ or because they have become expected.

It sucks that this Mama needs to be away from home for stretches of time, so its become a habit that I bring home souvenirs from my travels.  Sometimes its Legos, sometimes its books, sometimes a Barbie (I actually found Flight Attendant Barbie in an airport somewhere, which was great because of my rule that Barbies should always have a job.)  Since the great purge and move, I’ve been reluctant to buy the Shorties more STUFF, but I do like to surprise them with something.

Enter the NBC Experience Store.  Lately my trips have taken me to NYC with meetings clustered in and around Rockefeller Centre.  With 5 minutes to spare on a crazy day, the candy department at the NBC Experience Store saved my ass!  GIANT CANDY NECKLACES were the saving grace.  The Shorties loved them and they were cheap.  I think I need to invest in this company and order these by the case load.  They are a great novelty, sort of consumable and keep everyone happy.  Until of course, my trip is to anywhere but NYC and I come home empty handed.

I submit the aforementioned Giant Candy Necklaces as evidence of my guilt.

I submit the aforementioned Giant Candy Necklaces as evidence of my guilt.

Its tough.  I would like the Shorties to feel connected to my travel in that they know where I am going and where I have been.  We could load up on those “My Mom Went to (INSERT RANDOM CITY NAME) and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” things.  Or maybe they could start collecting spoons?  WTF, are they 80?  No, they’re kids and they don’t want crappy t-shirts and I’m not wasting money on lame souvenirs from the airport gift shop.

So Giant Candy Necklaces it is.

Eat to the Beat

I’m getting ready to head back on the road again this weekend and all I can think about is the great food I get to eat along the way.  Not the kind on the airplane or in the airport – but that I get to go back to some of the cities where I experienced some of the greatest meals of MY LIFE.  By now, you know I’m super bossy and know-it-all-y so it’s 100% in my nature to tell you that you should eat there too.

Geezus I love to eat!

Geezus I love to eat!

10. Bogner’s – Penticton, BC – BC wine country is slowly coming into its own and the foodies are following.  Chef Darin Paterson takes the concept of the 100 mile diet to a whole new level.  In addition to his kitchen garden surrounding the restaurant’s patio, Paterson pulls local produce from his own farm just 5 minutes out of town.  The fact that my kid had a “little accident” on the patio may sway me from returning next time, but fresh garden salsa might drag me back regardless.

9.  Patria – Toronto – True Spanish tapas in the heart of Toronto.  Loud, boisterous and super sexy.  Start with the Iberico ham.  A tough find on this side of the pond.  The paella is amazing.

8. Guy Savoy – Paris – Michelin mania.  Guy Savoy is a dining experience.  I’m usually not a fan of the pretentious Michelin presentation but man is his food good.  I’ve raved about Guy Savoy before.  Dessert comes on a cart – a motherf&*king cart FULL of desserts.  The first time I went there I ate 13 different desserts (lavender marshmallows, earl grey ice cream, macarons, strawberry tart, rice pudding – UNREAL).

7. Milos – New York – Fresh seafood in midtown Manhattan.  Big energy, delicious fresh food – great combo.  Don’t miss the Milos Special – lightly battered and fried zucchini and eggplant.  Yum.  That dish always tastes like MORE.

6. Alex Sushi – Oslo – Coming from Vancouver, the Sushi capitol of the world (outside Japan of course), I am always hesitant to eat sushi in other cities.  But Alex Sushi in Oslo nailed it.  The Tempura Salad was a revelation.  Plus the minimalist Scandinavian decor is very hip and happening.

5. A Travessa – Lisbon – Set down a narrow cobbled street with families grilling sardines and lanterns and streamers crisscrossing overhead, you enter an arched doorway to a sliding glass door that is about as odd as monkey’s wedding.  Down the stairs to a cavernous, candlelit room and into the rustic (is this the Portuguese version of Shabby Chic?) courtyard to dine under the stars.  The building was a former convent founded in the 17th century!  The complimentary appetizers (scrambled eggs with mushrooms, olives) and country style bread whet the palette along with cold white port served as an apperitif.  I had the Toro steak – the owner belittled me for ordering it medium.  “Its organic blood” he said!  It was magical!

4. Osteria Morini – New York – I’m not sure if this meal was so memorable because it was at the end of a super crazy press day or it was close enough to Christmas that it felt extra festive, but I loved this restaurant.  Its small and cozy by NYC standards and the fare is rustic Italian which is hands down my fave.  New York has arguably the best Italian food outside of Italy to be sure, but there was something extra special and authentic about the experience at Osteria Morini.  The weathered wood tables overflowing with mouthwatering cured meats and cheeses, the meatballs, the light and airy Lambrusco wine.  Call way ahead to make a reservation and if you can get a table TAKE IT!

3. Hutong – Hong Kong – Another great meal at the end of a super long, crazy press day.  I am pretty sure the food was as good as I remember.  Located on the 28th floor of One Peking Place in Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood of Kowloon, overlooking Victoria Harbour.  The decor a sort of Disney-ified version of old Hong Kong about as authentic as you can get in a brand new skyscraper.  The Szechuan cuisine was just spicy enough!  Delish.

2. La Petite Maison – London, UK – On a recent stay in London we were there for just two nights and had dinner here both evenings.  ITS THAT GOOD!  Incredible South of France inspired food in the heart of Mayfair.  The only problem is deciding what to eat.  The menu has so many great and delicious options.  The grilled veal chop (sorry, I know) was amazing and they serve the best french fries I have ever eaten.  (French fries are my kryptonite, so trust me on this one).

1. Tavola – Vancouver, BC – I know, I know, it seems a little contrived to pick a place in my own home town as #1, but I seriously love Tavola so much.  Back to rustic Italian, done really well.  A super simple menu and fresh sheet keeps the experience familiar but never stale.  The service is amazing with casual waitstaff often sitting at the table to explain the intricacies of the menu and winelist.  The Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe is the simplest pasta dish (fresh handmade noodles cooked in a delicate sauce comprised of just olive oil, parmesan and pepper) is worth every calorie.  The brick chicken is light and lemony and if you’re lucky to be there when Meyer Lemons are in season, you must try the Lemon Positano for dessert.  The menu is set up for sharing so this place is best visited with a crowd so you can taste a little of everything.

Road Wardrobe

Overpacking... again.

Overpacking… again.

I spend a lot of time on the road.  Airplanes, hotels.  I am admittedly an overpacker but I am also a pro at laundering clothes in hotel sinks.  Clothes on the road can be tough – how to look presentable and be comfortable is always the challenge.  I thought I might share some of my favorite tips on what to pack.

Disclaimer:  all of these items I either bought myself or covet.  No one has paid me to tell you that I like/ love them.

1. JEANS – In my opinion, THE best jeans for traveling are AG‘s Jegging.  They are real jeans with a button and a fly and pockets that work (read: they have structure) but they are SUPER stretchy and feel like pj’s when you’re wearing them.  I have 3 pairs and always travel with at least 2 of them.  On long trips, these are the only clothing items I send to the hotel laundry.  I’m not the kind of girl that will wear yoga pants in public, so these are a great alternative on the long haul (and even short haul) flights.

2. BLAZER – I love a good blazer and have a few that travel with me a lot.  They give you a polished look and with a pair of jeans offer an ideal blend of casual chic.  On a recent trip to London, I picked up a little black blazer with a faux leather collar at Zara.  (why are Zara’s in Europe SO much better than here in North America?)  This jacket has literally traveled around the world with me.  I’ve definitely recouped the £100 odd it cost me and I love it!  I am also a mega fan of the super luxe Smythe jackets (as you’ve heard me lust for these before).  The cut and fit mixed with some incredibly fun fabrics makes Smythe a great investment and a unique wardrobe piece.  PS – Buy Canadian.

3. SCARVES – LOVE a good scarf.  Have a pile of them and always travel with at least 2 or 3.  They give some variation on outfits, cover up spilled soup and keep you warm on the plane.

4. SWEATER – I have a black v-neck cashmere sweater that I love to travel in.  Its cozy and comfortable and usually looks pretty good.  I picked it up at a very exclusive boutique called Costco.  Seriously.  I am also partial to a good, drapey cardigan because why wouldn’t I be.

5. BOOTIES – Ankle boots are good for the road.  They pack small (hello Frye Motorcycle Boots, I’m looking at you and your 5lbs per boot), go with everything and can roll in warm or cold climates.  Mine are from Steve Madden, relatively cheap and cheerful and get the job done.  The ones I really would love are these from Rag & Bone.

6. SNEAKERS – Of course you need sneakers.  Non-white, super-comfy.  Preferably they are stylish enough for the tooling around, but sensible enough for the gym.  Or they’re Converse Chuck Taylors because they are just freaking awesome.

7. BLACK DRESS – Every girl on the road needs a great black dress.  Mine is called Black Magic.  You may recall my love letter to this favorite and perennial wardrobe item.  A great black dress can work for dinner out or as a pool cover-up.  Just make sure its in an easy to travel fabric.

8. BLACK ANYTHING – Working in the entertainment business, black is standard issue.  When following an artist on the red carpet or standing in the wings on stage, black is a must.  My job is to blend into the background and black does the trick.  PLUS, it goes with everything (except maybe brown) and it doesn’t show the dirt.  Black is ALWAYS the new black.

9. TOTE BAG – When on airplanes a lot, you need a big purse.  The Longchamp Shopper is a perfect example of the ideal travel bag that holds everything – iPad, ziploc, spare t-shirt and a laptop.  Plus it folds up small, so you can pack it away if you don’t need it.

And here’s what not to bring on the road:

1. ANYTHING THAT WRINKLES – as if you’ll have time to iron with 18 hr days.

2. EXPENSIVE SUITCASE – go mid-range on the suitcase.  Spend enough that it won’t fall apart on the first use but not so much that the nicks and dents will make you cry.

3. HATS – because, why would you unless you’re Johnny Depp.

So there you have it.  Another bossy R&R Mom post, telling you what to do.

 

 

 

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane

The Empty Gate.

The Empty Gate.

What is it with people when they travel.  Its like a switch goes off the minute they hit the security line-up.  They freak out and lose all sense of decorum and civility.  The guy who just rationally stood behind me in the Starbucks line-up is now at security pushing me through.  As I unpack every liquid, gel, electronic, shoe, jacket, sweater, piece of metal on my person – he’s filling the bins before I can finish.  Its no different all the way until we’re out of baggage claim on the other side.  What is it about air travel that causes people to completely lose their manners?

Maybe I’m a little grumpy but as I am just waking up with my first coffee following a completely packed red-eye on a 777, I think I have identified some of the main characters you encounter on when flying these days.  Here’s who to look out for:

1. The Premature Boarder – This is the lady who has camped out at the door to the gate in the hopes of being first on the plane.  Does she think there is a prize for being the first?  Like a nice chocolate waiting at her seat?  A bravo from the flight attendant perhaps?  Complimentary upgrade?  Um, no.  The Premature Boarder is flying economy, has no airline status, is not flying with small children nor is handicapped.  The Premature Boarder seems to be deluded into thinking that where you position yourself at the boarding gate matters.  First off – get out of the way.  Secondly, you are checked in and at the gate – the plane is NOT going to leave without you.  Find some patience and relax.

2. The Overpacker – Ok.  This Overpacker is not to be confused with my overpacking tendency.  This is not the person checking several large pieces.  This is the person with the oversized rollerboard, the massive duffelbag and some crazy souvenir piece of shit wrapped in bubble wrap.  The other variation on the Overpacker is the business traveller with the massive rollerboard and garment bag who refuses to pay checked bag fees and stows their luggage in the first overhead bins even though they are sitting in row 38.  Both of these people suck.  A lot.

3. The Seat-Grabber – This is the guy sitting in the row behind you that seems to forget that the seat back he insists on violently grabbing contains an actual human being that is nearly whiplashed every time he needs to check the overhead or take a pee.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

4. The Recliner – The Recliner is just a dick.  You know what I’m talking about.  They’re the ones that push the seat all the way back the minute the landing gear comes up.  Thanks pal.  I love that your seat back is now in my face and that I need to contort my 5’5″ frame just to get to my bag under your seat.  Don’t even get me started about when the meal service starts.  Put it up you idiot.

5. The Under-Seat Stower – Dude.  Don’t try and shove stuff under your own seat. It goes under the seat in front of you.  Enough said.

6. The Anxious De-Planer – This is the guy from Row 38, on his feet and in the aisle as soon as you hear that little bing when the seat belt sign goes off.  He doesn’t have a tight connection but what ever he’s up to upon arrival is way more important than whatever you’re doing.

7. The Jetway Sloth – The Jetway Sloth is usually traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  As they enter the Jetway, the apparent compulsion to GET OFF THAT PLANE ceases and they are now in no hurry at all.  Along with their friends they walk abreast and the minute you try to make a break for it and go around them they veer straight into your path oblivious to everyone else around them.  This happens several times in the span of 10 metres.

The Beloved Baggage Belt

The Beloved Baggage Belt

8. Baggage Claim Blocker – The BCB as I like to call them are often also traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  Using trolleys and carry-ons, they take up valuable real estate at the baggage belt, usually located right at the junction where the bags come out.  They pick up every bag, inspecting carefully to see if its theirs.  They don’t discriminate, even though their bag is green they check the black and navy and floral printed ones too JUST IN CASE they packed a bag they forgot.  When their bag does finally come out, it has several colourful pieces of ribbon and yarn tied to the handle to help distinguish it in situations just as this.

Beware of these traveling characters and the havoc they wreak on your already taxing travel day.  When you do encounter them, know you are not alone in the pain of managing their abhorrent behaviour.  Keep your fingers crossed for an upgrade!

 

 

Heartbreak Hotel

I stay in hotels a lot.  All kinds of hotels running the spectrum of number of stars.  In my opinion that makes me kind of an expert on what makes a hotel awesome (or more likely, not so awesome).  The real question is – when is anyone going to ask me my opinion?  Probably never.  But, guess what?  That’s why God invented Blogs, so people like me can blab away with their opinion, especially on the bad things hotels offer to cause the travel heartbreak.  Right?

#2 - Hotel Guest

#2 – Hotel Guest

So here goes, my top ten tips to hoteliers on what they need to do to make their hotel awesome….

1. Hooks – I hate hanging my clothes in a hotel closet.  Especially when I’m only there for like 12 hours total.  A hook or two by the door would be awesome!

2. WiFi – hotel wifi has come a long way from the days of the dreaded firewall that blocked email and other such shenanigans.  But man, why does it still cost $35 a day.  The sound of the words Free WiFi is like a choir of angels singing…

3. Counter Space in the Bathroom – What’s with this?  People travelling – especially girls – are carrying toiletries and cosmetics.  Why is counter space always an issue in a hotel?  Big sinks, fancy tissue holders, soap dishes.  I need space for my stuff so if you’re not going to give me drawers in the bathroom, then how about a little counter space.  Same applies for shelf space in the shower.

… and speaking of showers….

4. Rain Showers – I HATE these shower heads.  They are a pain in the ass especially when you’re having a non-hairwashing day.  HATE.  Its true.

5. Mini Bars – Ok, I kinda like mini-bars sometimes but lately I keep encountering an empty fridge in lieu of the stocked mini-bar.  I rarely dip in and sometimes like to self cater a little, so finding middle ground here would be awesome.  A little bottled water (still and sparkling if you don’t mind), coconut water and maybe some booze, but leave a little space for some of my own snacks.  How about that?

6. Slippers.  Barefeet in a hotel room = EUW.  Slippers = Yes please!

7. Amenities – I’m all for the boutique brands for the bathroom amenities.  Love them.  But FORGET it if they contain anything rose scented.  Seriously, the perfumey products are a bad idea.  PLUS, I haven’t met a dude yet that wants to use gardenia scented shampoo.  Keep it simple.  Clean, mild scents are a much better way to go.

8. The Hotel Car – Who gets to use it?  What’s the point?  Yes, I see your Bentley parked out front, but if the chances of me using it are nil, then get it out of my face.

9. Breakfast – Make it available.  Make it good.  Make it quick.  Doesn’t have to be free but highway robbery would be frowned upon.

10. Music – Don’t forget, I work in the music business so I appreciate the ambiance that comes with music.  However, I am not down with an elevator that could double as a disco (I’m looking at you W Hotel in Hong Kong) or walking into the room to a full frontal assault of horrible smooth jazz courtesy of the turn down service.  Neither are probably necessary, like at all.

So there it is.  I won’t charge for my consulting services on such matters.  Just upgrade me next time I’m through.

XO