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Photo Diary: The Ambience of L.A.

I took a trip to LA in November of 2015.  Even being there for a few days I picked up the unique ambience of LA.  It’s the constant perfect weather, the blue skies without a cloud & constant sun.  Yet, no one walks, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is incredibly tacky & Venice Beach becomes sketchy at night. But, the weather.. oh that weather & the view of LA’s smog filled skies from Griffin Observatory are beautiful.

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The Greatest Lessons I learned Working in a Call Center

This week’s Discovery prompt is  “The Greatest ___ in The World” which for some reason got me thinking about my Call Center job & how I learned some of the greatest lessons in the world while working there. 

Last summer I reached that point of my unemployment when I needed to get a job, to pay bills & be productive, or I was going to go insane.   I took a job at a Call Center, fundraising & selling subscription packages for Arts & Culture organizations.  The job was great for that moment.  The money was okay,  the job was hard work & could be extremely boring at times. But, I only  worked 4 hour shift for 5 days a week & I biked to work, which means I saved money & I still had plenty of free time.  It was not the worst way to spend the summer & it sort of turned out to be a very important moment for me.  It humbled me, made me grow & left me with some important life lessons.

 

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Kollektive Eats: Vegetable Curry Soup

I had a craving for something with curry today, but  also didn’t feel like going out in the freezing rain to buy any new ingredients.   Luckily, I had some left-over Lentils from my Tomato & White Bean Soup, some Cherry Tomatoes that were about to go bad & a bag of Long-Grained Brown Rice.   After looking up a couple of recipes for inspiration –  Curried Lentils & Coconut Curry Lentil Soup – I decided to make Vegetable Curry Soup with Rice. 

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Kinga: The 9 Characters I Identify with

I realize this was “a thing” about 5 or 6 months ago.   I probably missed the peak trend moment for this meme (& the corresponding web traffic) but maybe I can bring it back?  As a start of the year trend?

Or maybe not.  Either way I had fun doing this & it is a good way for me to tell you more about me without telling you more about me.  So here are the 9 fictional characters I identify & why.

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Kollektive Eats: Hearty Tomato & Bean Soup

Winter has officially come to Toronto.  It is either raining or snowing or raining & snowing. All of which calls for a soup to warm you up after braving the winter weather.

One of my favourite soups to make is a hearty Tomato & White Bean Soup from the “100 Soups from 1 Easy Recipe” book I bought for $4.99 at Chapters.  Klara bought it first & the soups were so delicious I had to have my own copy.

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Chopped, prepped & ready to cook

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Endings & Beginnings

Taking stock of your year can be a daunting experience, especially if you feel you haven’t accomplish any of the things you wanted or haven’t “lived enough”.   I’ve been there.  It is not fun to look at yourself honestly & to admit that you didn’t do anything because YOU didn’t do anything.  But, realizing you are what is standing in your own way is the first step to getting out of your own way.

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Seeing the Beauty of Winter

Once a year draws to an end & a new one begins, I tend to get introverted & contemplative. I go through this process of recalling the things I wanted to do, the things I did, the things I didn’t do in the past year & what I want to do in the new year.

Maybe it is because I have to endure winter on top of the realization that time will pass without waiting for me, but I enter a semi-vegetated state of laziness in early January.  I really do not want to do much, not even write.

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Noah Pascoe, How to write a good song

Noah Pascoe is a talented musician who released his debut solo album ‘There Goes My Head’ last year.  He is one of those unique people who can inspire others. He is authentically supportive of other’s success, grateful of everyone who supports him & has worked hard to accomplish his artistic goals.  After embarking on a path of change & self-discovery,  Noah found his equilibrium & success in 2016.  He isn’t famous (yet), has a day job (albeit an awesome one), but Noah is living a life of meaning.  One in which he creates that what he loves.  

Read the full interview & see exclusive new content from Pascoewood 2016 below. 

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It was a year of… it was 2016

Looking back on 2016, most of my memories are work, work, work. I’ll never forget New Year’s Eve 2015, it sucked. Not only was I the manager on duty, but I had the added pressure of making sure all the numbers balanced. Wouldn’t you know it was the worst closing I had, multiple discrepancies which lead to searching through paperwork, calling customers, and watching the time creep later and later. I left work 2 hours later than expected, tired, stressed out, and just miserable. I ended up fighting with my husband and bailing on my plans to celebrate. Happy fuckin New Year…

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Christmas in Toronto

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas Eve!  Enjoy this special time with your loved ones, remember those we’ve lost, but don’t forget to laugh, eat a lot & love each other.

Thank you for reading this blog this past year & as my gift to you all here are some photo’s of Christmas in Toronto. We don’t have a lot of snow today & the weather is balmy, but our spirit is strong.

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Theme of 2016: Not Giving a Fuck

I think most people agree that 2016 has not been the greatest year.  With the deaths, the wars, the terror attacks, the crazy politicians.  I can attest that on a personal side that has  2016 definitely had some very low points.

2016 kicked me in the ass.   2016 got me so low that I cried in my kitchen after the 20th rejection in a never-ending job search, drank too much wine & feared how I was going to pay for the basics in life.  Even after the ass-kicking that was 2016, I choose to focus on the positives of the year as I believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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Memories of Bathurst Station

The third (& last) post in my Memories of Toronto’s Honest Ed’s series in honour of the last days of the bargain store’s life.  You can read the first & second post here. 

I must not be the only person who has associations of life events with a subway station, am I?  It is afterall a place you meet up with people,  start journeys & end them.

thekollektive_honesteds_2016_viewfromnorthMy association with Bathurst Station extends all the way to University.  Commuting from Etobicoke (& then Mississauga) Bathurst’s blue & white decor signaled that I was finally downtown!

The small streets, the brownstone buildings, people going about their day, the noise of streetcars – the energy of city life was evident as soon as I stepped out of the entrance.

I know someone people hate downtown Toronto.  They hate the noise, the traffic, the crowds of people.  Not me.  That’s the part I love.  People live their lives on the street in a city.  They meet friends, they meet lovers, they cry, they argue, they laugh, they make love. And if stand still, you get to witness a moment in a strangers life.

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Memories of Mirvish Village

The second post in my Memories of Toronto’s Honest Ed’s series in honour of the last days of the bargain store’s life.  You can read Memories of Honest Ed’s here

Mirvish Village, is a collection of bars & shops in old Victorian houses along Markham Street. It is a neighbourhood that defined Toronto for me & seemed to be the perfect meeting places of artists, musicians, intellectuals & dreamers.

Now that I am looking back, I realize that Mirvish Village represented an idealized dream of the intellectual artists life that I always wanted to pursue, but was too sacred to.  Instead I went the corporate route & now that I am ready to embark upon the path of a modern artists, the community of my youthful fantasies is about to be torn down.

There is irony in this somewhere. Or it is a sign.  Regardless, I will feel the loss of Markham Street.

 

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Memories of Honest Ed’s

This is the first post in my Memories of Toronto’s Honest Ed’s series in honour of the last days of the bargain store’s life which will close on December 31, 2016

The Beginning

the kollektive- 2014The first time I saw Honest Ed’s we had just moved to Toronto.  I was 16 & excited about my future life in “the city.”  I loved the loudness of the building.  The flashing lights, the red, yellow & orange colour scheme. It was a beacon at the intersection of Bathurst & Bloor, & I really wanted to live near it.

The first time I went to Honest Ed’s was in University.  My friend & I wanted to see what the bargain store offered.

Coming from the suburbs where everything was shiny & new, Honest Ed’s less than new & shiny interior seemed different to us.  But, the deals were too good to pass up & in time I grew to love the less-than-perfect look of Honest Ed’s.

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An Ode to Christmas Decorating

I love Christmas.  It is the one season of the year when decorating your house in fake plants, things in the colour red, lights & sparkly things, is completely legit.  Cool even. Yet, any other time of the year (with the exception of Halloween) you would be considered a person of questionable taste.  Like that aunt of your childhood friend who had handmade Crochet Doll Toilet Paper covers  that matched the decor of each bathroom.  But, not Christmas. During Christmas it is totally okay to live out your decorating, entertaining & fashion choices as if you we Clark Griswald.

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Kollektive Eats: Pork & Veggie Stir-Fry

What do you make when you have a meat, some veggies & rice? A stir-fry of course! It is one of the simplest & delicious meals that you can throw together in under an hour.  Just the other day I made a  Pork & Veggie Stir-Fry out of the ingredients I had in my kitchen.

I do have a healthy supply of spices & the ingredients for a stir-fry sauce.  If you do not, I would invest in at least some basic spices & you can use vegetable, beef or chicken stock for the sauce.

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Toronto’s Leonard Cohen Tribute

I developed an appreciation for Leonard Cohen in my teens.  I hadn’t noticed the music of Leonard Cohen in my house earlier, but when my dad bought the album The Future I couldn’t get enough of it.  I am pretty sure I took the album hostage for years.

For me, the death of Leonard Cohen was very personal.  When I found out that Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir!, a none-traditional open choir group, was putting on a Tribute to Leonard Cohen at Christie Pits park on November 16th, I knew I was going.  It was meant to be.

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Friendship & Cookbooks

When I was in my mid 20’s my friend T. gave me a Jamie Oliver cookbook.  It was my first real cookbook.  The kind that requires herbs & spices, & the right cookware.

“It’s perfect for dinner parties,” she told me.

I was still at the level of cooking where I had kind of mastered two meals.  They were good, but experimenting in the kitchen sometimes brought disaster.  I relied more on the how to <insert staple dish>  recipe books, then cookbooks by famous chefs.

I expressed my self-doubt in my cooking abilities to T., but she responded with a “trust me, it’ll come in handy one day.”

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Music Moment: “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

In 2016 we have said goodbye to many great artists souls.  One of those souls was our father, a passionate, artistic man who left too soon.  Yesterday, we said goodbye to him & celebrated his life with others who loved him.

It also was the day on which Leonard Cohen passed, an artists who my father loved.   The coincidence of this holds meaning which we are yet to discover, as I believe all coincidences lead you where you are meant to be.  So this music moment is dedicated to the memory of our father.

Dedicate to the memory of our father, Peter Potrzebowski, Warsaw 1959 – Toronto 2016.

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I can’t with this US Election anymore

After a year of the US Presidential campaign .. I just don’t care anymore.   The year-long SNL skit of modern US politics was amusing for a few minutes, but the absurdity of a man with a comb over, who went bankrupt x amount  (I am too exhausted to look it up) of times & is best known for firing people on a reality TV show becoming president of a country is just .. absurd.

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The Path

I discovered a forest the other day.

I usually stick to the paved path when I walk through this park as I know where it will take me & get me there quickly.  But, yesterday I felt the pull of the path less travelled, as  I wanted to immerse myself in nature for a moment, to escape the silent demands of humanity.

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BRB: Off on an Adventure 

Sorry for the lack of posts but too much has been going on in the last week & keeping up with the news has been emotionally exhausting. It has been difficult for me to collect my thoughts & just write. Nothing seemed right. 

I’ve also been preparing for my first adventure of 2017 – solo trip to Thailand! I’ve decided not to take my laptop on the month long trip, so I’ll be sharing minimal updates (if any) in the next month.    I will see you in March with new stories born from my trip.

Thank you! 

Ps. I’m not taking the cat with me. 

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Books to Read to Survive the beginning of the Trump Years

It’s been a week since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States & shit has been bad.  Really bad.  

I know a lot of you have been emotionally exhausted by this week. If your not writing emails to your MP, Congressman or Senator, your protesting. Or your comforting family or friends. Or like me, your turning off the news & doing something else. If you feel like you need a rest & like to read, I have some books to recommend. 

5 Books to Read to Survive the Beginning of the Trump Years


The Chrysalids
by John Wyndham

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A classic of dystopian sci-fi.  In the Chrysalids we enter a society that is struggling to maintain its “pureness” as told from the viewpoint of an Impure.  A story of how far the fear of perceived threat of extinction drives people.

Good Read for: Sci-fi fans looking for a classic story about why humans fear those different from them, with a hopeful end.

How It’s Relevant:   Discusses a society built on maintaining racial purity to an extreme. Yet, change cannot be stopped, no matter how hard they try.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

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A dark read about Feminism that explores two key topics through two stories that seem not to be related at all.   But, the at the end the novel asks the question – what if women got pissed off enough to got violent on the patriarchy?

Good Read for: Feminists. Women who are pissed about the patriarchy. Women who are pissed about rape culture.  Nasty Women.

How It’s Relevant: This is more than just a book about a fat girl, this is a book that delves into patriarchy, beauty standards, rape culture & feminism.  But, with a beautiful twist.

Risk by Dan Gardner

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Written in 2008, Dan Gardner’s novel explores the culture of fear in America.  Great way to understand how fear drove so many to vote for Trump & fun way to compare Dan Gardner’s predictions to reality.

Good Read for: Historians, or anyone looking to prepare for upcoming debates online.

How It’s Relevant:  Risk paints a frankly scary picture of how North America’s culture of fear drives our decision making.

Futuristic Violence & Fancy Suits by David Wong

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Imagine a world where a city is created by rich people with no rules.  A Trumptopia if you will.  A ridiculous & fun read.

Good Read for: Sci-fi fans looking for a good escapist read, with a slight commentary on our current society.

How It’s Relevant:  Cities built by the rich with no government oversight or laws.  A society that thrives on social media trends to a level of insanity.  This could be our future.

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

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A moving story of what happens when a pack of dogs is granted human intelligence & consciousness & how two groups form to react to the change. It will make you cry. So be warned this is not a happy read. Engrossing but not happy. 

Good Read for: Those who want wallow in a bit of sadness & do not mind exploring the darker side of humanity.

How It’s Relevant: Topics of humanity, change, evolution & destiny, with a Greek Comedy feel.