Oct 102012
 
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Arguably, it is one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. Rocky Balboa downs 6 raw eggs, then the Italian Stallion, wearing a grey hoodie, track pants, black tuque and converse begins running through the streets of Philadelphia.  He effortlessly hurdles park benches and picks up an entourage en route.  He arrives at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, flies up the stairs, reaches the top with a grand leap to start his triumphant victory dance.  The iconic scene closes with a satisfying panoramic view of the Philadelphia skyline.  This scene is not only one of the most memorable of the film and puts the stairs on the map, but more significantly, it  introduced the revolutionary steady cam technology. Rocky’s run is captured with smooth, breakthrough footage.  Cinematic history is made!

On my list of things to do for the champagne year is to watch 12 classic movies.  I had never seen Rocky from start to finish, but I did know the infamous stair run.

After watching the classic film, I decided that I had to make my way to the city of brotherly love to pay homage to the run, the stairs, the movie and its huge role in pop culture. ADRIENNE!

The original plan was to go in the late fall, wear a tracksuit and a hat. A chance however presented itself  to go in August.  Since opportunity rarely knocks twice and is never a lengthy visitor, I figured why not?

The city is impressive.  It is known for its wonderful collection of out door sculptures and public art, museums, architecture, cuisine and rich history.

The Rocky sculpture which was commissioned for the film series was later donated by Sylvester Stalone to the city of Philadelphia.  After public outcry, they moved it from the top of the stairs (where it was during the movie) to the base of the museum where it remains today.

We make our way over to the infamous stairs.  The Germ remains fully committed to doing the run in costume as originally planned.  I on the other hand called it off when we signed on for August.   I am sweating already.

I am pleasantly surprised that I love Philadelphia so much.  We had a ridiculously fun time on our pop culture pilgrimage in a great city that we can’t wait to visit again!

 

 Posted by at 09:29
Aug 222012
 
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In general, everyone seems to have a basic idea of how to set a simple table.  Fork to the left, knife to the right.

The difference really is in the details.  The blade of the knife  always faces in–never out.  This may seem very elementary, but it is surprising how frequently this detail is not observed.  The blade of the knife always, always, always, faces in.  No excuses.  Now you know.

 Posted by at 15:03
Aug 172012
 
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Pierrel Brut Champagne is a gem.  With a gorgeous, non-traditional bottle, this champagne hails from a relatively new house and a young blender.  Pierrel champagne is unexpectedly delicious.

Lets start with the bottle–it is like nothing I have ever seen.  The new design keeps out harmful UV rays, shuns tradition and makes Pierrel a standout.

The champagne is refined with delicate bubbles which allows for its golden, elegant mousse.

There are notes of citrus and floral–but they are not overwhelming, allowing this champ to be enjoyed on its own or beautifully paired with food.  If you love minerality in your champ (as I do), this bottle is for you. There are lovely and complex undertones which surely come from the blend of 50% chardonnay, 40% pinot menuier and 10% pinot noir.  Pierrel should only be described as elegant.

I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for Pierrel Champagne and will look forward to popping more bottles when an occasion presents itself.  There never seems to be a shortage of occasions non?

 

Champagne Detail #4:   The cage, the collar or the muselet–are three different, all correct names for the wire contraption that holds the cork in place.  This cage (what we call it in our house) ALWAYS has six turns.  I finally have a favourite number!

 Posted by at 16:23
Aug 072012
 
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My grandfather passed away six months ago after a wildly successful, hugely eventful, very long life.  Outlined below are a few of the life lessons that the late James (Jim) Edward Campbell practiced, preached and lived.   Jim’s achievements as an entrepreneur, businessman, politician, pilot, father, husband, grandfather and citizen warrants his own Master Class–Oprah style.  Jim is dearly missed but left us a wonderful legacy and here is what I consider his top 10 life lessons.

1.  Dream BIG

Never set a narrow margin for what is possible.  Always keep your dreams in plain view and ensure they remain a moving target, always on the rise.  Before any goal is met, the first question should be “What’s next?”

When Jim was a boy, he dreamed of owning one of the mansions that was on his grocery delivery route.   Not only did he attain this dream, but Jim also continued to strive and dream of higher levels of greatness even though he already achieved a remarkable level of success.

2. The worst thing they can say is “NO”

There is a freedom one experiences when the fear of hearing NO is removed from the equation.  This winning mentality and life lesson transcends many successful people. Never be afraid to ask because the answer might be no.   One of Jim’s life long mantras was If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.  Ask for the promotion.  Ask for more money.  Ask for a discount. Ask for the better table.  Ask for the better seat.

Not only did I hear this life lesson regularly from my grandfather, but more importantly, I constantly saw it in practice–and it works!

3.  A short pencil is better than a long memory

Write it down.  Always maintain multiple running lists.  ALWAYS date the back of your pictures.  Don’t put your faith on a delicate, sure to eventually fail, memory.

Jim was a extensive list writer.  There were always a few lists on the go that ranged from groceries to new projects to restaurants he wanted to try.  All of his newspaper clippings were marked with the date and source.

4.  Never stop learning

Read what ever you can get your hands on.  Learn at any and every opportunity.  Retain and recall facts.  Always be aware of important current and local affairs.

Jim was a lifelong, self-taught naturalist and historian.  For decades he subscribed to many publications which he read diligently from cover to cover.  His favourite was National Geographic and never missed any of their programming–fascinated by all things living on the planet and anything to do with WWII.  Jim devoured whatever he could get his hands on; books, movies, magazines and newspapers–everything except for the sports section.

5.  Travel is the greatest classroom

When ever presented with the opportunity to travel–always jump at it.  Go whenever and wherever, and learn while the world’s classroom comes to life.

Stationed overseas during WWII with the Royal Canadian Airforce, Jim took every opportunity to see as much as possible.  When on leave, he would rent bicycles from the village children and visit everything worth seeing that he could ride to–from castles to cathedrals. Throughout the 80s, Jim and my grandmother Mary, his wife of 68 years would volunteer their time to chaperone and lead young Canadian musicians throughout Germany so they could compete in international music festivals.  Jim was the first person to take me to Paris, ensuring that my first trip to the city of lights was with a man I would always love.  He travelled abroad on various trips with all of his grandchildren in their teenage years.

6.  Give back

For those who have been afforded much, much is required.  Giving doesn’t need to involve monetary transactions–most importantly it involves the gift of time and service.

Contributing to the work of the community was a resonating theme throughout Jim’s life–both in Hamilton and during his retirement in South Florida.  His years of public service were followed by relentless private support of numerous causes.

7.  Work hard

Work hard and continue to work hard.  Surround yourself with people who share this work ethic.

Jim believed that hard work was what set highly successful people apart, and was mandatory to be able to achieve any type of goal.  Jim viewed laziness as a character flaw.

8.  Don’t be afraid of Failure 

Never let fear determine the risks you are willing or not willing to take.  Not every endeavour will end in a success, but hopefully most will. If there is nothing to be risked, there is nothing to be gained. Sometimes in life you fail–it happens. You learn from it.

Jim would tell the story about his first business idea–Day & Campbell (still in successful operation 66 years later) and recall the people who didn’t accept his offer of partnership because they were afraid of risking failure.  He was an elected official for many years.  He ran and won, but also ran and lost.  It is the risk you take putting your name on the ballot.

9  Live well, love often and be generous.

Buy the best quality you can afford.  Repair before you replace.  Do not hesitate to tell those closest to you that you love them–You can’t hear it or say those words often enough.

Another motto I frequently heard was “you can’t take it with you” (directed to my grandmother) but equally balanced with “save your money” (directed to me).  My mother spent her life telling her father “I love you” and he would always reply “I love you more'”, then “no I love you more”, repeat.

10. Always toast

Before that first sip, raise your glass and make a toast.  Never miss an opportunity to acknowledge life, happiness, health, good friends and good fortune.

Scotts wa hagh where Wallace bled  was the toast I would hear for much of my life.  Toasting remains a wonderful tradition where you take time to connect with people and share the experience. Never forget, ALWAYS make eye contact.

****^..^****

These life lessons are only a few of the countless ones bestowed on me by my beloved grandfather.   Without a doubt, these lessons have shaped the course, the vision and purpose of my life.  Unbeknownst to me,  I grew up with my very own Master class already in session.  I am hopeful that you will consider adopting at least one of these life lessons.  I believe that the results will be exponentially positive and inspiring.

 

 Posted by at 20:37
Jun 152012
 
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I dedicate trying this new thing to Dr King and Jenny Freakout for their role in getting me to do what I thought was the impossible–considering that it is the most crazy ass thing I could ever imagine doing.

This is how it started.  During a phone conversation with Dr King:

“Jenny and I were talking, and as much as we love reading about champagne and cheese, what we love the most and want more of is when you do your crazy things.  Everyone loves crazy Kitty adventures”

I relay this conversation to the Germ.  It goes something like this:

–Dr King and Jenny Freakout want to see and read about me doing really crazy things.

–I can think of  a crazy thing you could do

–I can think of one super crazy ass thing, but it is too crazy

–Really Crazy?

–Are we both thinking the same thing?

–I think so

In unison:

–The EdgeWalk.

We mentally decide in February that we are going to do this walk.  For months, every time I see the CN tower, my heart skips.  I feel sick. The EdgeWalk re-opens for the season in May.  Our anniversary is May 16.  Seems like a fitting thing to do on an anniversary non?

A few days before May 16th, we book on line.  The walk is non refundable and expensive.  We are now committed.

The Germ has specific instructions–If I fall off, he is to to unclip immediately and jump after me.  Ditto goes for me.

So here we go EdgeWalk, Kitty and the Germ style.

We make our way over to the base camp inside the CN Tower (right beside the gift shop).

Once taken into the change room area, we are instructed to remove all jewellery including wedding bands and earrings.

We are given read jumpsuits and were breathalized (no drunks permitted).  We get put into harnesses.

We ride in a special elevator all the way to the top and walk right out. I am in full prayer mode.  It is super windy outside, but not windy enough that we can’t go.

The Germ, as per usual gets outside and is fearlessly brave and hanging/dangling over the edge at every opportunity.  Me?  Not so much.  I did not sign on for the additional activities.  I just signed on to walk around the edge.  It was also just us two, so peer pressure wasn’t applicable.

To some, this may not be the craziest thing, but since I am not a fan of heights, this really was the most crazy ass thing I could imagine.

Attached is the video.  Proves we were there!

 Posted by at 10:47