Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things'll Be Great For Sure...Downtown

How was your weekend? I had a great one! Why, do you ask? Well, there are a few reasons for that, but the best part of my weekend was probably Saturday because this is the day I finally completed my Big Day Downtown*! If you aren't sure what the heck I'm talking about, you can read all about it here.

I had my activites for the day pretty much mapped out weeks ago, but actually changed it up at the last minute for various reasons. For example, I planned on visiting the new Farmer's Market first thing, but was scared away by reports from friends about the crazy busy-ness and I really didn't feel like getting up at 6am on a weekend (call me lazy, but I do that all week for work). My main goals for the day were to visit places that previous bloggers hadn't written about, and to have a mixture of experiences - e.g., visit new places as well as familiar ones, not stick to one particular activity, and plan the day out but also leave room for the unexpected. Interestingly, this is pretty much how I live my life a good part of the time so...neat!

WORD OF WARNING: this is a long post and there's lots of photos, so it's not a quick read. It's hard to cram an full 8 hour day of fun into a few hundred words (so sue me). Also, excuse the funky spacing in some parts - arranging photos in Blogger is quite the chore and I could only fix so much without completely messing up my format, so you will have to settle for less than perfect. Sorry!

At my mom's suggestion (she accompanied me on my lovely outing), we started our day at the Blower's Street Paper Chase

I have been itching to pick up the new September Vogue so I made sure I picked one up at the newsstand downstairs, and we also perused the hilarious greeting cards displayed at the front of the store. This one was my personal favourite:

The Front
The Inside

Hilarious. Fun Factoid: When I was about 16, Kevin Spacey et al. were in town filming "The Shipping News", so of course the paper reported wherever he and his co-stars visited. Well, I'm ashamed to say that I had a little crush on Kevin at the time (who am I kidding, I still do. I admit it), so when I read that he had visited the PaperChase I decided to go see it for myself. Yes, I am was a loser (but we all were at that age, so you can't really judge me). What was even funnier is the SAME GUY was working at the cash that was there when I visited like 9 years ago! He rang in my Vogue! He must really enjoy working there...

Anyway, after paying for all 726 pages of fashion-goodness, we headed upstairs to the cafe for a nosh. I went with an old standard (cappuccino), and decided to try their homemade granola with yogurt and fruit and OH MY GOD it was delicious! See:

It made my tongue and tummy very happy :) And it was only $4.99, which I thought was very reasonable for something so fresh and filling. My mom had their Breakfast Wrap, which was basically egg, veggies, and cheese wrapped in a tortilla with salsa on top. I'm honestly not a huge egg person, but I had a bite and it was delicious too! And huge! That thing would easily fill you for an afternoon excursion!

We had a great table at the front of the building where the windows are on garage-door-style pulleys so they can be opened completely, giving you a view straight down Argyle Street. It was before 10am and shaded so it was a tad chilly, but still refreshing.

Our View
There is a great artistic atmosphere in the cafe with brightly painted walls, artwork, and creative people sitting around reading or playing on their laptops. I loved that they also have board games like Scrabble and Parcheesi for people to play to pass the time and a bank of computers for customer use. Overall, I was impressed and would go back again in a heartbeat.

From there we decided to make our way down to the Art Gallery, however (as is often the case with my mom and I) we got distracted by clothing racks on the way down. These racks were sitting outside the entrance of Hilltribe - a store I'd been by a million times and always wondered about but never visited. We figured we couldn't pass this place by once we saw their amazing sales - $80 pants marked down to $20?! Hell, yes!
Neat tile floor at entrance

I really like unique "ethnic" clothing and accessories and this is basically exactly what Hilltribe sells. The decor and merchandise was very middle-eastern, yoga ashram, spa on the beach to me (note: these are not technical design terms, just my own wierd, inarticulate interpretation - surprised?). There was rack after rack of flowy clothing in interesting shapes and colours, tables of beautiful scarves, and shelves of dark wood sculptures of Buddha-esque figures, etc. I tried on a couple of dresses and a few pairs of pants that didn't fit, which was disappointing - but did find a pair of black pants I decided to buy. I really love all the tapered/harem style pants that are trendy right now but haven't been able to find a pair that doesn't make me look either fat and dumpy or like a fashion victim - until these! They are plain black, a light soft cotton material, and just have a slight taper in the leg and an elastic waist so they are trendy yet still wearable and flattering. I've worn them pretty much every day since I bought them.

Fun Factoid #2: Hilltribe sells their clothes wholesale, but they do all their designing at the Barrington Street store! I was excited to buy a pair of pants that were actually designed right there. Also, the pants I bought are part of the new collection but they were a sample pair, therefore I got them at half-off the retail price! If I had gone in this week after the full collection was officially released, I would have paid $84 instead of $42! I heart good deals :)

Giant cat butlers rock

Would've bought this if it wasn't $70
We finally made our way down to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia after this. I've been there many times before over the years as I'm a big art appreciator, and I've done workshops there. I hadn't been there in a while, however, so I definitely wanted to include it in my Big Day.

I love this giant comb
Honestly, there were not any amazing exhibits that really got me excited, however there were a couple that were mildly interesting: View from the Atlantic with it's 17-1800's paintings of Halifax/Dartmouth and prominent Haligonians was something new to me. It was neat to see how Halifax looked when it was first settled 200-300 years ago. I also always enjoy seeing the finalists for the Sobey Art Award, even though most of the time the concepts behind their works kind of go over my head. I always enjoy viewing the folk art (and this actually inspired me to possibly do some folk art pieces of my own at home!).

There were only a couple of other visitors at the time so it was very calming and nice to have the exhibits mostly to ourselves. To be honest, I wish they had at least one more compelling exhibit, like past ones they've had on Marilyn Munroe and Egyptian Art, but all in all it was a nice way to wile away an hour or so.

Awesome window grate on the Scotiabank building, next to the AGNS
By the time we left the AGNS, we were STARVING so we decided to hop around the corner to one of my favourite downtown pubs/restaurants, The Old Triangle for a late lunch.

I just love the old buildings downtown
It was windy but warm so we decided to sit on the patio, and the first thing I did was order a Tideview Cider, which caught my eye on the menu because it's made in the Annapolis Valley and I had never heard of it before. Yummy - definitely recommended (though they are 9% alcohol, so one must be careful!). I had my usual OT standby of chicken caesar wrap and sweet potato fries and it was great, as usual. I've never had a bad experience at the OT so I keep going back! Not really much else to say beyond that! Food and service is good, plus it's also a great place to meet up with friends for a beer and some fiddle music on evenings/weekends, which is a downtown Hali MUST-do.

After eating we strolled down the street to another favourite downtown haunt of mine, jewelry store Feroz Design.
This store is a bit tucked away so it would be easy to walk right by it, but that would be a mistake. They have fantastic handmade jewelry for amazing prices. My friend told me about it and now every time we are downtown we usually stop in to see what's new. I didn't buy anything because nothing really turned my crank (I only have a billion necklaces and earrings already) but it was still nice to visit. Fun Factoid #3: They now have a "sister" bead store on Grafton Street next to Pizza Corner so you can make your own Feroz masterpieces at home!

I'll always think of it as Loomis & Toles bc I'm old school
I had to pick up some supplies, so our last stop for the day was DeSerre's art store on Barrington Street. Just walking in this place makes you want to start a project! There are art supplies in every single nook and cranny, and every kind of supply you can think of. Making art (drawing, painting, etc) has been a hobby of mine since I was a little kid, but alas as I've gotten older and busier it's something I have lost touch with. However, I'm attempting to remedy that by starting an art project here and there when I can. Remember how I said the folk art at the AGNS inspired me to make my own? Well, I picked up some paintbrushes at DeSerre's with the hope of starting a painted wood project sometime soon. Even if I don't have a project in mind, I always love browsing this fun, inspiring store just to see what they have!

Yay for paintbrushes!

Are you still with me?! Well, the good news for you is that's the end of my report, but bad news for me as this marked the end of my day. For my Big Day Downtown, I set out to have fun, get reacquainted with some fav haunts downtown and find new ones, and see how far I could make my $100 stretch - I think I accomplished all my goals! I got a cappuccino + breakfast, huge magazine, new pair of pants, art gallery admission, and full lunch for my $100 and I think that's pretty darn good! I already loved downtown Halifax and knew what parts of it were great, but I learned even more about what makes it great.

I feel very grateful that I could be a part of this challenge and I want to send big HUGE thanks to the Downtown Halifax Business Commission for giving me the opportunity to help promote our fair city and connect with some amazing local bloggers I never would have connected with otherwise. A HUGE thanks also goes to my mom for coming along for the ride - we always have fun together, but her support of my hobbies (like this blog) and the sometimes crazy adventures I want to have means so much. I could have done it alone but I imagine I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much!

In conclusion, I'd just like to say - if you live in Halifax and you haven't already GET YOUR BUTT DOWNTOWN! You might be surprised at what you find.

*Ugh, just realized this weekend is going to have to live up to last or it's going to suck. Not sure how I'm going to do that!


Jill Mader said...

Great post! You went to a few places that I've never been, so I'll be sure to try and check them out sometime!

ElleBee said...

Looks like you had a wonderful time downtown! That $100 stretched a long way with me too.

I'm really enjoying see what everyone else did and think it was such a great idea on the DHBC's part because there is such variety out there!!

Not to mention all the local bloggers I've discovered. :)

Lynn @ The Next Chapter said...

Looks like you had a wonderful time downtown! That $100 stretched a long way with me too.

I'm really enjoying see what everyone else did and think it was such a great idea on the DHBC's part because there is such variety out there!!

Not to mention all the local bloggers I've discovered. :)

Jill Mader said...

Great post! You went to a few places that I've never been, so I'll be sure to try and check them out sometime!

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