JS Club Toronto Summit

I'm working on that Illustrator of the Month post for August. I'd finish it up right now, but I'm not at home and I've already got all the pics saved. I'm over at Piccadilly Communications with my darling gal pal who works there, she's gussying up wedding programs (favour for a friend), while I kill some time drooling at online fashions. Something about fall gets me ready to shop. Funny, cause when we were kids my mom was adamant that back-to-school shopping was not only unnecessary but wasteful as you still wear summer clothes for the first month, and as I got older and had my own money to spend, I realized by the time you need warmer things they are all on sale. (Good tip mom!) Anyhow this weekend has been jam packed and unfortunately I didn't have a camera to record anything. Ah well. Still gonna blog about it.

Saturday I headed to work early to whip up a logo for the in-laws new business venture. Then I caught the go-train to the city to meet a friend. It's Buskerfest in her hood. It looked just like this:


It was darn hot on Saturday and walking from Union station to the St. Lawrence market through a million people and dudes on stilts was challenging. I'm really  not into the festival thing on a hot day - an early warning size of getting old I think. Too sticky and kid filled. It was worth it though - I got to my friend's place and we quickly headed out for burritos and then caught a cab out to some film studio on the lakeshore for a taping of So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

I didn't really know what to expect, having never been to a live tv taping before. As it turned out, after a short on-the-list-but-no-tickets situation, we ended up being seated in the first row. That's me, looking hot and tired of clapping, but still with a silly grin. The clapping and cheering is amusing for the first 20 takes, but then your arms get tired and with a camera within touching distance of your face, the fun wears off quickly. Keep your eyes open for me, it airs Monday night. I liked the Dancehall and the Contemporary with all the lifts best.

Otherwise it was pretty entertaining. The dancing was great and the French-Canadian judge Jean Marc almost cried during one of his judging speeches. I haven't been watching this season but I have watched previous seasons and honestly Judge Jean Marc crying is the best part of every episode. I love French Canadian men.
(Judge Jean Marc Genereux)
Then we got our swag bags, since this was a free bonus to the deal we got with our ticket purchase to a National Ballet Gala. We weren't expecting them and almost missed them, but good thing we didn't since they were full of chocolates and candies and Mac makeup and pens and little mini sample sized things. I love swag bags, especially ones with Mac makeup in good colours. No wonder celebrities love them. It's very much like going to a birthday party as a kid and getting a goodie bag. Just as good. Maybe even better. We're old ladies now, no shame in loving free stuff.

We walked through Leslieville and after surveying all the restaurant choices on Queen we decided on District Bistro for Japanese food. I can pretty much get excited about sushi every day of the week, but this was better than average. The food was pretty spectacular, as was the service which was very personal. We had saki-tinis (one blackberry infused, one lemon and cucumber infused, both excellent) and the hands-down-best-ever yam tempura. They were cut like wedges instead of like saucers, and were light and perfectly fluffy inside and served with a side of wasabi mayo. We also split a salmon tartar salad and a chirashi don.

A friend of mine has said that the Chirashi don at any sushi joint is a 'test of their salt'. I agree, and each place does it in their own way. It is basically sashimi (which is just the raw fish) and assorted veggies (or other random surprises) served on a bed of sushi rice. I'm always pulling for lots of butterfish and hopefully the shredded white cabbage and if it's going well, avacado. The differences between restaurants are the types of fish, how they serve it, the variety, etc. District served it in a pretty bowl, on a bed of rice sitting in some soy which was nice, because it made it easier to eat, and they didn't over do it. They had slivers of lemon between some of the fish, creating a nice flavour experience, and it included scallops, which I've never had raw (except for in ceviche, but that's not exactly raw). It also had your usual suspects of butter fish, salmon and tuna, as well as some other fishes that I honestly remember the taste of, but not the names. It had the more unusual small side of warm grilled fish (eel, crab, salmon) as well as some lovely slivered shitake mushrooms, seaweed salad and caviar. Or is it called roe? Whatever, I like calling it caviar and am going with that. The fish was excellent quality, not watery at all. It was a really good Chirashi so I was suitably impressed.

(not our chirashi, ours was prettier)
Today we slept in late, had breakfast in bed. My hostess served me scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes, smoked salmon and raspberrys with hot tea. Wow.

Then went to the Bay. I have been wanting/needing a basic pair of comfortable jeans (read: not dark denim, not skinny, not dressy) for the whole summer as I cut my other pair off into shorts in early May. My friend had heard about the the new Jessica Simpson jeans, so we headed to the Bay to try them on. Though neither of us are fans of the J-Simp, both of our initals are JS so we feel a kinship, and a general lack of annoyance with the initals JS being all over the product. I have to say in the past I've really been exasperated with the Bay in both selection and service (but more-so service) and have honestly tried to shop there, but it just hasn't been good. So, like old times, we headed to the Bay, hoping for the best. The changeroom experience in the JS/Guess  jeans section, not so great. Not the best start. But the Jessica Simpson jeans actually fit really well, but they only had two styles, and both were way too flared for our liking. J-Simp remains under review for JS-Club membership. Onwards.

Then we hit the sales rack, found ourselves in the Alexander McQueen section, and got our piles of stuff placed in these super swank change rooms. Service was much  better in that section. We're lucky to shop together since we can try the same sizes.We tried on about a bunch of pairs of different jeans and discovered that yes, the $250 jeans are actually better fitting. Whoda thunk? We also both tried on Barbie by David Dixon dresses and as it turns out, they aren't cut for a Barbie-like figure and there wasn't nearly enough room for my curves. Didn't find jeans, but what I did find, however (and much to my shopping pal's chagrin, found before her) was a delicious crimson Joeffer Caoc dress on super duper sale plus an additional 50% off...$500 reduced to $100. YES. It's the nicest dress I've ever had and I can already think of tonnes of places to wear it. I'm so excited. Also of note, when you buy a $500 made in Canada dress, you don't need spanx. I'm the reigning JS-Club deal shopper so I also found a Vero Moda blazer super super discount for $20. That find was a gift to my club co-member. SCORE!
At this point, like two old ladies we were wanting coffee. Now that our opinions of the Bay's service had been upgraded (JS Club note: shop in the expensive section, even if you're trying on Levi's) my friend reminisced about her Grandmother taking her to the Bay cafe. I honestly didn't think the Bay cafe still existed. But it does, it's on the 8th floor, and it actually has a great view of Queen's Park and Queen St. Like two little old ladies, we split a tunafish sandwich, two coffees and a bottle of water. In the Bay Cafe. It was grand, actually.

Suitably refreshed, we recalled having a 30% off coupon for the Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic. Personally, I find BR not that great quality and generally overpriced. The Gap I haven't shopped in since early highschool (I bought leather pants there as a goth, hilarious) and Old Navy has been reduced to a destination for tshirts for me. Not really wanting to brave the whole mall experience, we decided to beeline (with a quick pitstop to question the prices of bags and covet shoes in Michael Kors) to the Gap. I wasn't overly optimistic for finding jeans. If I'm paying that much for jeans, I figure I want them to be something other than Gap. As it turned out, I picked up awesome-perfect-exactly-what-I-wanted-jeans. I tried two pairs, found the perfect ones and they were on sale for....$19.99! It came to a total of around $17 including tax and the coupon. That, dear readers, is a joyous shopping moment. I put them on the first moment I came in the door.

In general, I was pretty surprised to be shopping in, enjoying, and finding good deals in both the Bay and the Gap. Both stores have gone through the ringer recently, and I've been ignoring them as 'old lady' or 'boring'. I guess a lot of other people have too. The Bay is now owned by Lord & Taylor, so perhaps they're managing to pull them into better shape. They've brought in different lines and there were some really cool items to try out. Saw some fab stuff by Halson or McQueen at the same time as trying on Levi's and tank tops and some other just-fun-to-try stuff. It's a revived shopping experience, that's for sure. I did see a tonne of things there that I would have loved to own, even if they weren't really in the budget, but better quality affordable stuff too. It felt new. I wish it was still Canadian.

The Gap find, well, it isn't as shocking, the sale in-store doubled with the promo coupon is probably as a result of the stores struggling in general. Their loss, my gain I suppose. That said it was rammed with people today, and I can't help but think that the return to a more preppy fashion style, away from the cheap-shit-ness that is American Apparel might have something to do with it. I think people might be ready for the Gap again. Grunge is so back. I wish I still had my army boots from highschool, I had the parade style.

(parade style army boots)
I've been writing lately about the return to a desire for reliable brands, quality, even if it is slightly more expensive. I'm not talking about luxury brands, but brands like Levis, Woolrich, Docks. That genre of long standing quality, or at least the impression thereof. I think it has to do with a general fatigue with floods of  mass market goods. Look, I love cheap clothes as much as the next recessionista but I'm trying to abstain. You're just throwing money away. It's definitely something that happens as you get older - perhaps the joy of having your own money to spend wears off as responsibilities/life/etc gets in the way. I, and I think other people my age, are tired of looking and shopping and just want to buy a pair of jeans that won't fall apart in a year and leave us stuck looking for a great pair of jeans again.

Such fun in the city, and shopping no less. Avoiding Buskerfest, sushi, dancing, free swag, sweet deals. I like shopping, but usually alone. But members of the JS Club are always invited.

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