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It was a week ago when I started thinking about what I was going to get for my mother for her 60th birthday. Living in Vancouver with all my family in Toronto it's inevitable that I miss a lot of events, birthdays,holidays, and special occasions. As I started to come up with ideas of what to send my mom(i do run a gift basket company) it hit me, the best gift I could really give was to buy a plane ticket, fly in and surprise her on her birthday.

Surprise Visits

On Thursday night I caught a 9:40pm flight, changed planes in Edmonton and arrived in Toronto at 7am. Picked up a rental car and drove to my sister's house whom I'd let in on my plan. Met my new neice who gave me a little smile and off I went to meet up with my dad who also was in on the deal. Rendezous at a cafe where he was meeting my mom before heading downtown out for lunch. I sat there, drinking a coffee, and waited, knowing that my mom didn't have a clue I was going to spend the day with her to celebrate. As she came in and realized it was me sitting there with my dad I knew from the way she hugged me that I had made her day. From the cafe we made our way down to an amazing little brunch spot, Aunties & Uncles, a hip little funky spot with friendly service and tasty food. My brie, pear chutney and roasted walnut on chala sandwich hit the spot, so did a good laugh about a guy with one giant natty dreadlock that twirls when he walks through doors.


best_gifts_are_experiences_henry_mooreArt is an experience where it's easy to make a connection, to look at an installation, a painting, a photograph, feel something and share it with someone else. It's all subjective and everyone's going to have a difference experience. But to see, feel, share and experience something with another is pretty special. I went with my parents to the newly redesigned Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), a gallery I hadn't been to since I was a child growing up in Toronto. Frank Gehry, a Toronto native, was the archetect behind this redesign, responsible for the vision and execution of stopping me in my tracks multiple times to take it in. Open expanses, organic lines and natural materials. The Galleria Italia was particularly impressive, a long expanse along the 3rd floor across the Dundas St side, filled with wooden timbre sculptures. Other highlights for me were the Henri Moore sculpture gallery, the Thompson exhibit filled with amazing Canadian art, Group of Seven, Innuit soapstone sculptures and specifically the 6 panel Man Changing into Thunderbird by Norval Morrisseau. While walking around we even bumped into one of my mom's oldest friends. Definitely a great afternoon, even when operating on a couple hours of airplane sleep.

Dining out

It's hard to go wrong with taking someone out for dinner as long as you follow the following rules.

Rule #1 - Make a reservation

If it's a special occasion, call ahead and make a reservation. It shows some forsight, thought and the fact that you've got a plan. Really nice restaurants are usually pretty popular so instead of taking your chances, make some calls and get a reso.

Rule #2 - Go somewhere nice

Talk with your friends, read some reviews and get some recommendations. Know what kind of food the person you're taking out likes and make sure there will be things they like on the menu to choose from. Expensive doesn't mean good but don't be afraid to skimp. Great food and service go a long way for a memorable evening! Ask your server for advise, ask questions and if you like wine consider getting each course paired by their somalier.

Rule #3 - Stay in the moment

Enjoy your time and don't rush. Take your time, enjoy your time together, the conversation and each bite and sip. This is really what it's all about.