72 Hours in Ottawa

Now that my boyfriend and I are coming to the end of the long-distance part of our long-distance relationship, I’m starting to learn to appreciate the perks of it a little more. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that the train trips, scheduled weekends and countdowns between visits will soon end. But there is a certain romanticism – even fun – that only seeing each other once every couple of weekends brings.

Take this weekend, for example. Because of Ontario’s Family Day long weekend (thank you, Dalton McGuinty!), I was able to spend an extra day in Ottawa, and it was a fantastic 72 hours. But…what do you do when you’re visiting your long-distance boyfriend for a longer stretch than normal?

Friday Night: The fun began when I arrived, to this…

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As a (very nice and highly unexpected) surprise, I was treated to freshly shucked oysters, my favourite non-meal meal of charcuterie and cheese, and a nice bottle (ok, two) of wine. Plus, he had made a playlist for the occasion – one thing everyone needs to know about me is that I’m a sucker for a good playlist (I’m not nearly as devoted to them as John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity, but I get his obsession).

Saturday: Ottawa has an incredible attraction that nothing in Toronto can ever match – the Rideau. Whether you’re one for skating and winter activities (or not), it’s a gorgeous part of the city, a little haven that just lights up on clear winter days.

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This weekend happened to be Winterlude, so there were lots of activities, kids, ice sculptures and skates all over the place.

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As I’d mentioned before, there are many good places to eat in Ottawa, and Saturday night, we tried a new one that (almost) makes the list. We went to Navarra Restaurant in the Market – a tapas-style, highly rated, but tiny restaurant. Dinner overall was good – we shared a foie gras appetizer, something called a “Mexican Bricklayer Dip” (kind of a spicy guac, with cactus in it!), and then shared mains of duck belly and an interesting take on penne carbonara (with crispy pork belly in place of bacon). Dessert was kind of a miss for me (with a spicy chocolate panna cotta) and a total win for him (citrus-infused creme brulee), and the wine/cocktails we had were great. The service wasn’t stellar (we awkwardly waited around in the doorway for a few minutes while our table was getting ready), which made it sadly less than perfect.

Sunday/Monday:

My favourite part of most long weekends is the implied approval at being totally lazy – while we went out to watch a movie, we spent most of the time inside (aka away from the cold), just hanging out. Pizza for dinner, apartment hunting online, another movie…the works! And these are the moments that I always look forward to when visiting and that I miss most when we’re apart. It’s nice to be able to just span time with someone (a la Vincent Gallo in “Buffalo ’66”).

All this is to say – I had a really good weekend (even though it already feels like it was eons ago…).

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone

Nothing says love like pie...

Nothing says love like pie…

Love Day, 2013

It’s coming up on Valentine’s and you all know what that means – the start of Hallmark holidays! I actually quite like Valentine’s day. Don’t get me wrong, though – I’m not in the camp of needing a dozen red roses, chocolates in a heart-shaped box, a fancy dinner and over-the-top card. In fact, my Valentine’s Days with my boyfriend weren’t, on the face of them, anything out of the ordinary. Last year, because we were apart on the actual day, my boyfriend sent me a card in the mail (in the physical mail, which, given the connectedness  to technology we all have these days, is romantic in and of itself) and the year before, we watched hockey and ate homemade chocolate-covered strawberries together. This year? I’m heading to Ottawa for a long weekend (thank you, Family Day!), and we will try out a tapas restaurant called Navarra.

Despite the seemingly casual Valentine’s we have spent together, it is a day I look forward to spend with him every year. When it comes to February 14th, I’m a firm believer that it’s not worth the stress and pressure to have the “perfect Valentine’s” when all you really need is to be together, without interruptions (cliche aside). And even though we should always tells those we love that we appreciate them, this particular day always gives me that extra push to show how much I care. I mean, really, who can avoid all that marketing pressure?

On that love note, here are a few love-themed things I adore…Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

valentines day

1. Martha Stewart’s Valentine Heart Pops
2. Quirky and fabulous cards (if you feel like using snail mail, maybe) from Oh My Word
3. Bacon-themed e-card from SomeEcards
4. DIY Heart Dice for games night via Design Sponge
5. Wearing your heart on your sleeve…and all over, from French Connection
In the centre – sparkler heart!

Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (classic from “Say Anything” AND my parents’ wedding song):

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros “Home” (no purer sentiment, but so upbeat):