A (Lovebot) Heart Full of Love

After my blog post went up about our Lovebot hunting adventure, I was contacted by some of the sweet folks at Lovebot HQ. Rodger, who has been working on the project for about a year, was lovely and thanked me for writing the post and for my enthusiasm about the project. He encouraged us to keep searching for Lovebots, but said he would love to make the hunt easier by inviting us to Lovebot HQ! The email totally made my day and I couldn't wait until we could go for a visit.

Lovebots Toronto
I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. Corbin and I trekked up to the magical home of the Lovebots, where we met Ryan, who has also been on the project for about a year. Ryan has been doing a lot of the pouring for the Lovebots and came into the project quite serendipitously. He was working as a contractor, when one day a guy showed up with a paper in his hand, asking about concrete. He began to tell Ryan his story and plans for the Lovebot project. Ryan was intrigued and inspired and asked if there was any way he could help, and the man with the paper (Lovebot creator, Matthew Del Degan) said "I thought you'd never ask". They've been working together ever since and it was wonderful to hear Ryan's perspective on the project and how the experience has enhanced his life.

Lovebots Toronto

Lovebot HQ was just wonderful. It was so neat to see so many little Lovebots and hear about how they're created.

Lovebots Toronto

We even got to see the very first Lovebot cast in concrete! #001 has certainly seen a lot of love.

Lovebots Toronto

Lovebots Toronto

We also got to spend some quality time with the 6 and a half foot Lovebot that the team has been taking to events. So tall!

Lovebots Toronto Ashley Gibson Corbin Smith

It sounds like there are some incredible things in store for the Lovebot Invasion and I'm stoked to see what happens next. I am so happy to have discovered this project and love that I've been able to share the love with my friends, blog readers and followers.

Before we left, I asked Corbin to take a photo of me with all the Lovebots. He arranged me, and I chose the fuchsia heart to hold in the photo. After the photos were taken, Ryan asked if that was my favourite heart, to which I enthusiastically responded "yes". He then asked me if I wanted to keep it and I just about died.

Lovebots Toronto Corbin Smith

I've fallen in love with this project and it has brought me so much happiness; To be the owner of a Lovebot heart is just so special and I felt so honored. I hugged my heart the whole ride home and couldn't stop smiling. I also received some Lovebot stickers, which I've been giving out to friends and fun people. I've since been in touch with Matt as well and am looking forward to connecting with him in person very soon. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy my Lovebot heart and the thrill I have each time I see a new Lovebot in the city.

Gratitude

This morning I was stuck in a subway tunnel for quite an extended stay, was then body checked by a man on the street who didn't even acknowledge that I flew across the sidewalk and then watched as my bus left while I was still across the street. Did anyone say long weekend? In spite of my more ridiculous than normal commute (and the remaining hour it took me to get to Mississauga) I was still left smiling.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to express our thanks for everything that makes up our world, but gratitude is something I try to practice regularly. I'm incredibly lucky to be enjoying a life where I wake up each morning and go to bed smiling each day and enjoy most things that happen throughout. Here are some things that I'm grateful for today:

The most wonderful group of incredible friends and family. They help keep me sane and happy and having all sorts of fun.

Being in love. My heart is so full. It's the best.

Serendipity. It's so funny how life works.

Having the opportunity to perform Life is Sweet again, this time at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. It's still surreal to see the poster and see our names up there.

Being Crohn's free. 5 years ago I hoped this would eventually be the reality, but here I am. I think at year 7, I too will declare myself cured.

8 weeks ago I took a big risk and accepted a new job. Every day I am validated for taking this leap and I couldn't be happier (except for when our office is downtown and I'm done commuting every day. Then I'll be basically floating)

So much to be thankful for. I hope you have a beautiful weekend filled with love and gratitude too.

ashley gibson belmonte raw

Treats and Taste Tests at the Vegetarian Food Fair

Last month, the 29th Annual Vegetarian Food Fair came to the Harborfront Centre and I was stoked to be attending for my fifth year in a row! (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 posts) It was also the first year that I wasn't actually working at the show, but solely attending as a guest. With a snazzy media badge.

Vegetarian Food Fair - media

The TVA did an awesome job of organizing an agenda of great speakers and events throughout the weekend. Sadly, the rain on Saturday put a damper on some of the outdoor events, but that did not stop thousands of people from visiting everything else the festival had to offer over the course of the weekend! There were speakers on all kinds of topics relating to vegetarianism, delectable food demos and interesting panels covering a wide variety of perspectives.

Toronto, vegetarian

I've previously expressed my frustration in lack of options for vegetables and healthier food choices at the Food Fair. One would think that an event of this nature, I would be surrounded by an abundance of Ashley-friendly options, but this has not always been the case. However much I enjoyed all the sweets and special treats, I just think there's more to vegan / vegetarian cuisine than what is often depicted by the food vendors that are represented. We have so many AMAZING vegan-friendly restaurants in the city and I'd love to see them better represented at the Fair. That being said, it seems that the options are getting a bit better and I was super stoked to see that Green Zebra was back with lots of gluten free, vegan eats. I opted for the mac and cheese with a side of kale salad.

Green Zebra, gluten free vegan
It was pretty delicious and I was certainly pleased to be having some kale at the Food Fair. It provided me with some great nourishment before sampling quite a few desserts. There certainly were a lot of treats!! I got to sample a new gluten free vegan cupcake from my friends at Sweets from the Earth. I didn't manage to snap a photo before it went into my mouth. Super chocolately and pretty delicious, Ilana continues to do great things with gluten free and vegan baking. I also enjoyed some treats from Bunner's (always so brilliant) and picked up some salted caramel (!!) marshmallows from APieCalypse Now to take home.

APieCalypse Now! vegan marshmallows
One of my favourite moments of the night came whilst wandering around the various booths. Corbin and I happened upon the awesome folks at Peanut Butter & Co. and a hilarious blind taste test ensued, all in the name of science.
Peanut Butter & Co

Peanut Butter & Co

We declared Mighty Maple the ultimate winner, but really it was us who won, making new friends in the people at the booth (and those around us who saw the whole thing) and buying enough peanut butter to pretty much start our own pb sandwich shop. So good.

It was great to attend the festival for another year and it makes me happy to see continuing to get bigger and better. Looking forward to what's in store for the 30th festival next year!