10 Things I Learned Whilst Frolicking In New York

1. I make really great company
Some people (including my grandmother) were shocked that I was going to NYC by myself. While Nan was concerned for my safety, it seemed like others weren’t sure I would know what to do with myself. Being on my own was so freeing. I had some amazing time with friends and have made some new ones along the way, but being on my own meant total freedom.

Not a single one of my friends would love doing everything I’ve done as much as I have. My vegan friends would love the restaurants, but may not dig the show lottery lines. My musical theatre friends would be first in line with me for shows but would hate all the shopping in Soho. When I came with someone last time, while he said he didn’t mind, I felt bad for leaving him as I ran off for trips to Whole Foods or to meet up with friends. It’s been so freeing to do whatever I want, when I want, and make my plan up as I go along.

2. Be careful what you wish for
After Irene shut down a lot of the city, my plans to visit some restaurants and see
Sleep No More were cancelled and I was pretty bummed out, especially about the show. I contemplated getting on the phone with Porter to see if I could change my flight to Tuesday in order to see the show Monday night. After spending 20 minutes on hold early Monday morning, I resigned myself to the fact that I was going home on Monday night as planned and would just have to make another trip back to see the show before it was scheduled to close on October 8.

Around 10am I got a phone call from Porter saying that my flight had been cancelled due to plane shortages and issues as a result of Irene, and that the earliest flight they could get me on would be Wednesday morning at 8:55. I think the customer service rep was shocked by my fairly happy reaction and said that not everyone was as excited by this news. A Wednesday morning flight gave me 2 extra nights in the city and more time to soak it all up and bask in every moment.  I managed to score a ticket to Sleep No More, try more restaurants and enjoy a stellar bonus 48 hours in the city I love so much. And I was perfectly ok with that.

3. Things will not work out as you planned. Go with it.
Irene definitely ruined my plans.
So I made new ones.

On Saturday I wandered in my neighbourhood. I spent some quality time picking out some new books at The Strand and enjoying a sweet chai latte while using the interweb at The Bean. I found amazing gluten free vegan pizza. I went for a mani/pedi. And had sushi. After the storm everything started opening up and I had a lovely afternoon frolicking in Soho, eating some of the most amazing vegan ice cream ever and spending the night in Williamsburg checking out a raw vegan restaurant and sipping drinks at a cute bar. Without the storm I wouldn’t have had these experiences and somehow they were highlights of my trip.

4. I love performing
Seeing brilliant theatre reminds me why I love to do what I do. I was so blessed to be able to see 3 great shows including seeing iconic musical theatre star, Bernadette Peters, in Follies AND experiencing probably the best piece of theatre I’ve ever seen (
Sleep No More). Being in the audience for great theatre inspires me to sing better, act better and work harder. I love that.

5. There’s no need to be afraid of the dark
Either in a hurricane called named Irene or in a while pulled into a closet with a witch in Sleep No More. Just breathe. The light will shine on the other side.

6. Food is amazing
NYC is kinda vegan paradise. I ate so much delicious food on my trip from unexpected ice cream on a Sunday afternoon to hickory smoked tempeh in a dark cafe to scrambled tofu at a diner to pizza in the rain or enormous salads with sangria on a sunshine-filled garden patio. So. Much. Goodness. Excuse me while I run for days and probably do a juice cleanse.

7. Sometimes it’s the things you see along the way

DSCN0422DSCN0303DSCN0429DSCN0428DSCN0421DSCN0350I’m terrible for tweeting, emailing, facebooking, texting, bbm-ing and being generally connected. This trip reminded me to look at the world instead of a screen. With your head down you might miss something incredible. Look up.

8. A smile goes a long way
I’m generally a pretty smiley person, but this past week you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. I laughed. I giggled. I experienced moments of joy everywhere I went. Even in silly moments like when I sneezed on the subway and a huge ghetto-looking dude told me it was quite the sneeze and laughed about it. Or the man who told me he loved my shoes. And the flower in my hair. And the whole “production”. Moments like that are infectious and just keep the smiles going.

9. Vacations are necessary
I haven’t had a true vacation (outside of a weekend or two away) in a long time. It was refreshing. I feel rejuvenated for the fall and ready to accomplish a lot in the next few months. And if ever I’m feeling burnt out, I know that a weekend in NYC is super easy and that
St. Lucia keeps getting closer and closer.

10. Live to the point of tears
I am a huge advocate of living every moment fully and without abandon; This trip was a reflection of that. I cried on my way to the airport this morning because I was heartbroken to leave the city I feel so at home in. I know it certainly won’t be the last time I’m here and I’m over-the-moon thrilled for what’s to come.

Dear Irene,

Thanks for trying to ruin my plans, but you’ve failed.

Thank you to everyone who has messaged, emailed, tweeted or facebooked me. Yes, I was here throughout the storm, but I’m a-ok. Irene definitely put a bit of a change in my plans, but I’m having a ball. I’m writing this blog post as I sit in the garden at Pure and couldn’t be happier.DSCN0410There will be many posts about my NYC experience, and I’ll be updating my NYC restaurant spreadsheet when I’m back, but for now let’s start on Thursday with my arrival, before Irene showed up.

Thursday was my first ever experience with Porter, and I have to say that it was brilliant from the start. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to travel up to Pearson, and that I had a beautiful view of the water and the city skyline. DSCN0266The complimentary snacks and wifi were pretty sweet too. DSCN0268 DSCN0272My roommates had recommended the Carlton Arms hotel to me and upon arrival it absolutely felt like home. I will post more pictures of all the common areas, but for anyone who has ever visited my apartment, you’ll understand why this felt like home. DSCN0372I chose a room on the 4th floor and loved how feminine and pretty it felt and thought the extra flights of stairs would be a good idea… 

I immediately headed over to One Lucky Duck for lunchy DSCN0286DSCN0282I opted for the taco salad. There were no seats when I arrived, but managed to grab one just before my food was ready. The salad was delish with the guac and sour cream being my favourite parts.

My afternoon happened on a whim and I was delighted by everything that I discovered. I HAD to go to babycakes and was not disappointed. DSCN0289DSCN0288That, my friends, is a gluten free vegan samoa donut. Caramel, coconut, and chocolate. Apparently it’s a Girl Scout cookie flavour? I’ll call it heaven. There’s been a lot of vegan donuts floating around in Toronto,but not many gluten free ones. I was never a huge donut eater, but this was like a party in my mouth that I never wanted to end. DSCN0292I also grabbed a vanilla cupcake to go. Holy amaze-balls.

I stopped at Moo Shoes, which is an awesome vegan shoe store and picked up some fab brown boots for $30. Perfect for fall and I can’t wait to wear them.

Next stop was Harney & Sons for some tea goodness! DSCN0295 I had promised my tea club gals some of the amazing cinnamon “sparkle” tea and wanted something delicious and new to try as well. Emeric (Harney) was so helpful once again and I can’t wait to share details of the amazing teas I purchased.DSCN0302DSCN0298After shopping and wandering I tried my luck at the Mormon lottery again and failed. I then tried to win the RENT lottery and failed at that too. Luckily they had “lottery loser” tickets and got to see the new Off-Broadway production. DSCN0310

I was sandwiched between two other people who were singing all the words so I felt right at home. I also cried. A lot. I’ve come to really enjoy RENT and the exploration of the relationships within it. The new production has some stellar performances, amazing set/lighting and the music sounded awesome. Was really excited to see Will Van Dyke leading the band, as I was recently listening to his tunes as potential choices for the next Ashleyx2 cabaret (in the fall!)

I took a cab home, smiling all the way, excited for the days ahead! I can’t wait to continue sharing my NYC adventures with all of you…

Pure Food And Wine

I almost started writing this post at 3am

I was like a little kid at Christmas last night. I woke up probably 4 times in the night, but woke up this morning feeling rested and excited and didn’t bat an eyelash at hopping out of bed at 6am.

Why you ask?

Well, my plane takes off for NYC at 8:45!! I couldn’t be happier about my second trip to the Big Apple and my vacation couldn’t be better timed. The one thing I haven’t written about from my last trip is my trip to Pure Food and Wine.

Pure was at the top of my list of places I wanted to eat at in NYC. Sarma is quite the celebrity in the raw food world, and I wanted to experience what I had seen on so many people’s blogs over and over again. It’s a fine dining raw food restaurant that has a location in New York, along with 2 takeaways. Sarma has penned two books (one alongside her ex, Matthew Kenney) with amazing recipes and photos.

I had scoured the menu before arriving but was thrown of course when our server told us about the specials and had to change my mind! I started off with a selection of nut cheeses and raw crackersphoto (9)They were all so good! My favourite was the dill cheese, but the others were amazing too. Paired with the crispy crackers, they were an absolute hit.

My main is what threw me off, as I had to opt for the special when I heard about “Moroccan stuffed squash blossoms”. Having never eaten a squash blossom before, it sounded like quite the experience

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My camera had already died at this point, so this was taken on a mobile camera, but let me tell you it was amazing. I’m usually a sweet kinda gal, and the dessert will always win my heart, but I think that this was actually my favourite part of the meal. The squash blossoms were kick ass and the green beans on the side were delicious. I challenge anyone who questions raw, vegan or gluten free cuisine to go to Pure and still walk away feeling sceptical.

Dessert didn’t disappoint. After seeing it on many blogs, I had to get the Indian spiced ice cream trio.

photo (10)Holy yum.

It was like a party of chocolate and spices in my mouth. My favourite was the cone, which I believe was flavoured with cardamom. It was amazing!!

Our server was knowledgeable and friendly, we had delicious organic red wine, and I even got to briefly meet Sarma when we stopped in at One Lucky Duck to pick me up a salad and a juice for the flight home. I’m staying in the east part of the city on this trip and my hotel is just a 10 minute walk from Pure… so you can bet that there will be more pictures and tales of this awesome restaurant when I’m back.

If you wanna hear about my NYC adventures in real time, be sure to follow me on Twitter… otherwise I will be blogging about everything when I’m back on Tuesday!

Have a wonderful weekend. I’m off to squeal all the way to the airport…

xo

Holy Yum at Hogtown Vegan

On Saturday night I had a couple of hours to kill between shows, so I invited a couple of my lovely castmates to accompany me to The Hogtown VeganDSCN0228

I had stopped by quickly about a month ago, but was dying to visit again!

DSCN0220The first time around I had the taco salad which was absolutely delicious, but this time I was looking forward to trying out the chickpea salad sandwichDSCN0221

Not a whole lot of colour going on, but this was remedied by the fact that Michelle and I had agreed to do a fry/collard greens combo

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Holy yum. I looooooved the chickpea salad sandwich. The filling had lots of dill and the flatbread was spicy, soft and very pancake/dosa-like, making for a stellar combination. The fries were crispy and delish and the collard greens were fantastically garlicky. The gals loved their food too

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Michelle was excited for labelled gluten free options and was really happy with the chickpea salad. The sweet potato chips were divine.

DSCN0224Stefne was all over the reuben when she saw it on the menu and said that it did not disappoint!

And of course we had to have dessert

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We couldn’t decide so we shared the chocolate mousse with coconut cream and flourless chocolate cake. I think all three of us had foodgasms upon first bite and then had a deep discussion about why people seem to think they need flour or other ingredients to make baked goods delicious.

These were both heavenly.

The chocolate cake was rich, moist, chewy and delicious while the mousse wasn’t too sweet, had an amazing chocolately flavour and the coconut cream was the perfect touch.

We were in vegan foodie heaven and were sufficiently fuelled to do another show!! DSCN0227The Hogtown Vegan has great vegan comfort food. Probably not somewhere I would eat all the time, but definitely hit the spot for a big day. Great service, especially when answering questions about gluten free stuff. I totally want to recreate the chickpea salad!!

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That would be me: happy, full of delicious eats and ready to head back Into the Woods. I will definitely be going back!

1 more sleep til NYC!!!

Here Comes (Ashleyx2) Trouble

Was so happy to spend this past weekend back up at Ashley’s cottage for a quicky getaway before a week of insanity with Into the Woods opening. Here’s what happened, via photos and tweets:

  • Cottage bound!! #squeeee cottagebound
  • Packed @herbalinfusions minty syrup to make some stellar @tipicularfixin-inspired mojitos for the girls. Cocktail workshop post next week! DSCN0126
  • Niagara Falls, why is it raining? Not cool
  • I squeal when I go down waterslides #funfactfriday
  • Truestory RT @jonkane: @ashleydtl You squealing is not a rare occurrence, waterslides or no #justsayin
  • Super fun cottage afternoon/ evening. Can’t wait til tomorrow DSCN0152DSCN0145
  • Sleep in / brekkie / nap / beach / mojitos / mini golf. Holy amazing #girlsweekend DSCN0137DSCN0136DSCN0141
  • Mmmm mojitos @herbalinfusions @tipicularfixin DSCN0143
  • We’re about to watch @johnstamos in the wedding episodes of Full House season 4. Perfect cottage time. Cue squealing.Maybe crying.
  • Fireworks = all kinds of awesome DSCN0166DSCN0164
  • Ash & I are on our 4th costume… erm… outfit change of the day DSCN0193
  • Headin’ out to see a random band and drag the gals on some sketchy midway rides #cottagelife DSCN0176DSCN0175FSCN0185
  • Absolutely RT @JosephRanseth: “Nothing is worth more than this day” Goethe #BestDayEver
  • I don’t wanna come back to Toronto #pouts #sadface
  • There’s going to be a whole lot of nap action on the way back to Toronto
  • Hello Toronto

Such a fun weekend away and exactly what I needed before a big show week! Thanks to everyone who came out to Into the Woods! 

Only 2 sleeps til NYC!!

Into the Woods then out of the Woods...

And home before dark! I make this face once or twice in the show...





Watch for some epic sobs around :31 and :42...


We are sold out for tonight and tomorrow, but have shows on Saturday at 2pm and 8pm as well as Sunday at 2pm. Into the Woods is one of my favourite shows ever and I'm having a blast playing Rapunzel. Also excited to have some amazing friends in the audience all weekend.


Grab your tickets on the Stageworks website


I'm also squealing because as of today I only have 7 more sleeps til NYC part 2... Is there anything you think I should do while I'm there? I'm already seeing this and this (starring Bernadette Peters who has also starred in Into the Woods -- see the connection there?).

Tea + Cocktail = Love

Especially when you add a Friday night and awesome people into the mix!

Herbal Infusions is an adorable tea shop at Spadina and Adelaide that is actually sponsoring our second tea club round! (Tea reviews coming soon!) The owner Dan is fantastic at what he does, has a wealth of knowledge about tea and is incredibly sweet. Last week, Kayla and I were super stoked for a workshop focused around using syrups made from teas to form amazing cocktails.

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The teas used in the workshop were all blends from Herbal Infusions including Orange Blossom Oolong, Lomi Lomi, Peppermint Dream and Toasted Almond. Dan had gone through process of boiling the teas down to create simple syrups that were going to be used in our cocktails.

Upon arrival, we were treated to a sweet orange blossom made with an orange blossom oolong. The fun part about the workshop was the integration of tea facts with cocktail info. Dan knows his tea like nobody’s business and Trevor was amazing with his cocktail knowledge.

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We discussed the origins of oolong tea and the process by which it is created before getting the low down on how to create the drink. The orange blossom was made with 2 parts of the orange oolong simple syrup, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part vodka and topped with soda. It was the perfect drink for summer. The syrup added a great sweetness but wasn’t overly sweet and the citrus added a nice tang.

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Next up was a foam made with Herbal Infusions Roasted Almond tea. I love the idea of using such delectable teas in such creative ways. The roasted almond tea on is delightful on its own or in latte form, so I imagine that the syrup would have been that much better. I wasn’t able to try this one since it was made with gelatine and dairy, but Kayla assured me that it was delicious!

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The peppermint mojito was absolutely my fav and I definitely recreated this drink for this past weekend for quality girls’ cottage time (post on Wednesday!) Dan’s peppermint blend is second to none with an amazing mix of Washington peppermint and Egyptian lavender. While slightly untraditional, our mojito was shaken (rather than stirred) as it was made with the peppermint syrup, and the shaking helps to break everything down, dilute the cocktail slightly and mix everything together in the best possible way. It was made with 2 parts syrup, equal parts fresh lime juice and rum, and topped up with soda.

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Kayla helped Trevor make the last drink, which was a lomi lomi pina colada. DSCN0095Trevor talked about his love of tiki culture and showed us his collection of awesome tiki cups. Kayla was a fab bartender (except when she had a bit of a spill with the coconut milk – we’ll blame the fact that we were on cocktail #4 at this point) The lomi lomi tea is a tropical blend that includes aloe and pineapple; I think it would make a stellar iced tea. The cocktail included 2 parts of the syrup, 1 part pineapple juice, 2 parts rum and 1 part coconut milk. And everything is better in a tiki cup

DSCN0097We were given our cups based on personality. I think mine looked a little angry for me…DSCN0098It was such a stellar evening! Thanks to Herbal Infusions and Tipicular Fixin’s for all the goodness. Dan plans to run more workshops like this in the future and at $15, you really can’t go wrong! We were able to purchase the syrups for $6 at the shop, and if you’re interested, connect with Dan on Facebook or Twitter to get some of your own to shake shake shake some delicious tea-inspired cocktails to celebrate the last few weeks of summer.

Do you use teas in any untraditional ways? What is your favourite summer drink?