Thursday, December 22

Oh, Stella's!

Stella’s Café and Bakery has expanded rapidly since its humble beginnings in 1999.  Originally located on 166 Osborne St., the business has boomed to provide 4 more locations all across Winnipeg.

One of their newest locations, Stella’s Café at Plug In, falls perfectly in line with the restaurant’s unique and trendy atmosphere.  The restaurant is adorned with contemporary art and beautiful, open windows that offer a glimpse of downtown’s busy streets.

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Parking is limited here, which is the norm for almost every downtown eatery.  You can find free parking spots in the evenings and on the weekends in front of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Otherwise, you may choose to pay for your parking behind the Buhler Centre.

Stella’s offers a walk-up menu, as well as a dine-in option.  The hosts are always friendly and welcoming, and the servers are quick to check in with their patrons.  The only awkward part is navigating around its tight space if they decide to sit you in the very back.  The place is usually quite packed, making seating options limited.

They have a decent selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  Their bottomless coffee ($2.45) was average, but lacked body.  Their special holiday eggnog latte topped with egg white foam ($3.25) was, on the other hand, tasty and rich.

If it’s your first time at Stella’s, you must choose something from their breakfast menu.  Although most of their lunch and dinner items are great choices, all-day breakfast is their specialty.

We ordered the veggie café ($7.75 - two eggs, three veggie breakfast patties, hash browns, toast & jam) and the grand café ($11.50 - three eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast & jam.)   They have a wide selection of breads to choose from, and almost every variety is served fresh and chewy.  Their hash browns were crispy and well seasoned, although some were slightly burned.  The patties were moist and had a slightly spicy aftertaste, while the meats were tender and tasty.  Their serving sizes aren’t baffling, but there are so many items on your plate that it becomes hard to find room to fit it all in.

Stella’s is renowned for their homemade jam.  The sweet concoction spreads like melted butter, and has huge chunks of juicy strawberries and blueberries.  It’s arguably the best jam in the city, and you can buy it by the jar at the front of the restaurant.

When asked where the washrooms were, we were instructed to cross the hall into the other end of the Buhler Centre.  Unlike the rest of the building, the facilities are small, bland and inconveniently located.

Stella’s at Plug In offers a pleasant location to dine-in and is a must go for breakfast foodies, although their parking and restrooms are not ideal.  They offer friendly and consistent service, delectable eats and the journey downtown is worth the visit - even if it’s just to grab a jar of their mouth-watering homemade jam.

Stella's Cafe at Plug In on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 20

Vi-Ann nostalgia

Vi-Ann Restaurant was the first place I ever visited in Osborne Village.  What I now know as one of the trendiest and hippest parts of town, I then only knew as the site of one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town.

As some of you may have already heard, both Movie Village and Vi-Ann Restaurant are being sought after by Shoppers Drug Mart in hopes of an expansion on the adjacent lots.  Tomorrow, the city's board of adjustment will decide whether or not the plan is a go.  (For more information, click here)

After reading the news, blog posts and tweets about the expansion plans, I decided to take a stroll down to Vi-Ann's myself.

After walking through their front door, I was surprised to see an influx of patrons in the vicinity.  The restaurant was bustling with customers, optimistically chowing down on tasty soups, noodles and rice platters.  The atmosphere exuded one thing: hope.

I picked up my regular order of vegetarian spring roll vermicelli (one of there reasons why I love this restaurant is because they have an extensive vegetarian menu), and proceeded to sign the petition form placed on one of the tables.

I personally have nothing against corporate expansion, nor do I have a nit to pick with Shoppers Drug Mart - I happily shop there on a regular basis.  However, I do feel strongly about supporting local business owners who have worked hard at making a name for themselves in this city.  Here's hoping.

Vi-Ann Restaurant owner Bac Bui originally immigrated to Winnipeg back in the 70's.  He worked as a labourer for 25 years until he decided to pave his own path by opening a business in 2001.  Vi-Ann's has since strived in Osborne Village and offers people a taste of genuine Vietnamese cuisine.

To read more about this story, the Winnipeg Free Press posted an article here and there is also a Facebook page here.  My friend Maria also blogged about Vi-Ann's here.

Saturday, December 17

LMFAO (literally)

The entertaining "party rock" duo LMFAO dominated the stage last Wednesday during their Cherrytree Pop Alternative Tour in Winnipeg.  The MTS Centre was packed with young men and women dressed in bright neons, loose-fitting gym shirts and zebra print.  It felt like a modern day 80's throwback.

Far East Movement, another rising hip-hop/electro pop ensemble, opened for the tremendous two.  They worked the stage and jammed to a variety of songs, including their top chart hit (Like A G6) and a few similar tracks.

The crowd only expected SkyBlu and Redfoo to show up in familiar rockstar fashion: fashionably late.  But get this - they hit the stage right before 9 p.m. and the show were finished before 11 p.m.  For two men that write lyrics inspired by drinking, drugs and women, they were surprisingly punctual and professional.

Their stage was not dressed up with fancy lights or pyrotechnics, but their cathy tunes and hilarious antics carried the show.  They sprayed the crowd with bottles during Champagne Showers, let loose an inflatable zebra to crowd surf in the pit and effortlessly changed from one ridiculous outfit into the next.  They made entertaining look easy.

Quest Crew, the third season winners of reality show American's Best Dance Crew, were just as fun to watch.  Their breakdancing moves were sharp and playful, and they added much more character to their roles as opposed to being mere robotic backup dancers.

The most shocking and mentionable part of LMFAO's performance was their last song, Sexy and I Know It, where SkyBlu and Redfoo highlighted their confidence by stripping down to some very revealing underwear.  The rest of the dancers followed suit, and they rocked the rest of the song in sparkly and neon coloured undergarments.

The show was consistently enjoyable, the crowd was having a good time and LMFAO did what they do best: PARTY ROCKED.

Sunday, December 4

My, has the time flown!

Is it just me, or has the first semester snuck by under our noses?  It's hard to believe we're already wrapping up the first term of our program.

Past CreCommers and instructors weren't kidding when they told us we'd have a microscopic social life, and that we may not see our friends and families for months.  Nor was it an over exaggeration about the tears and the fears.  Not in the least.

But what I think deserves a little more recognition are the good times we've all shared.  I don't mean to sound like a cheese ball, but I think that these past few months have been an amazing and invaluable experience.  I've met some standup people and made friends that I absolutely adore.

So, through the streeters, 8 a.m. deadlines, auto fails and live-hit derbies, I would like to thank my section for a memorable first semester.  You guys are an impeccable bunch!

Just a few moments from section numero uno (sorry if I'm missing some of you).  It's been fun!

Tuesday, November 29

A new way to spend your Fridays

Free admission to art exhibits? Check. Discounts on trendy boutique items? Check. An exciting way to spend Friday nights in the heart of downtown Winnipeg? Check.
If any of this sounds remotely appealing, First Fridays might be right up your alley.
First Fridays is a year-round event held on the first Friday of every month from 5:00 pm. to 9:00 p.m. in the Exchange District. The idea was modeled after successful launches in various American and Canadian cities.
Sue Gordon, co-founder of First Fridays, originally attended several of these events in Kansas City. Both her and Karen Schulz, who are resident artists in the Exchange District, decided to start the same project in Winnipeg. They’ve been hosting First Fridays since July 2010.
“Our primary goal is to promote the Exchange area as an amazing place to become involved in the arts and to be a part of the centre of Winnipeg,” said Gordon.
So far, First Fridays has been hugely successful with over 50 participating venues, including galleries, art studios, cafés and boutiques. Some of the participating venues include the cr8ery, Cinematheque, Toad Hall Toys, Pixels 2.1 and Cake-ology. This event gives the downtown businesses an opportunity to get their names out to the public.
Jordan Miller, co-founder and director of the cr8ery gallery and studios, is a successful artist who this year won the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award for the Arts. Her show, Life Structures & Other Personalities, debuted on a First Friday last year.
“Making people aware of what’s in this space is what we do on First Fridays,” said Miller. “They’re not really busy now because it’s very early on. The more we work on it, the more people will come down.”
Claire Morrison, a member of the Fire & Smoke duo, initially heard about First Fridays through word of mouth from a friend who frequents the event.
“They open their doors and you get to go in, and the best part about it is that it’s free!”
Fire & Smoke, a folk and bluegrass group that met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival last year, recently filmed their first music video in the eclectic scenery of the Exchange.
Gordon encourages people to come out and join the festivities.
“We would like First Fridays in the Exchange to be the most popular attraction in Winnipeg and to be attended by hundreds of supporters.”


This is an article that I recently submitted to The Projector, Red River College's student newspaper.

Friday, November 18

On an art-related note

Recently, I was asked by a good friend of mine to complete a logo for their group.

It was a lot of fun to work on, and I had the chance to further explore Adobe Illustrator.  Being comfortable with Photoshop and InDesign is one thing, but Illustrator offers a whole new world for line-art creation that I've never really used before.  And I absolutely love it.

Friday, November 11

"We know the story of Valour Road"

Does anyone remember this History by the Minute video?

I do, and maybe you do too.

When I was younger, I remember this clip being played during commercial breaks on TV.  I knew that it represented a snapshot of Canadian history, but I had no idea what it was really about.  I never knew the significance of these brave soldiers on the battlefield until I learned a little more about the Pine Street Boys in journalism class.

The beauty of journalism is that you don't only get to report on news in the now, because you sometimes get the chance to retrace history's steps and reflect upon the past.  There are so many moving moments in Canada's history that have been documented in film, photographs and writing.  I sometimes find that the beauty captured in a simple vintage photo alone is so poignant and powerful.

A presentation by Mark Reid, Editor-In-Chief of Canada's History Magazine, and today's Remembrance Day ceremony put things into perspective for me.  As a Canadian citizen, I was humbled by all of the efforts that our troops, past and present, have made to help us live in a country that promotes freedom, equality and human rights.

I commend the soldiers, their families and the supporters that came out to Sargent Avenue and Valour Road this morning to remember all the brave men and women who have fought for our country.  For those who have suited themselves up in military dress and wore arms so that we didn't have to.  For those who have fought and for those we have lost fighting.  For those who enabled us to live in peace.

I will remember.

Walking towards Sargent Ave.

Many people assembling around the memorial for soldiers at the corner of Sargent Avenue and Valour Road.

 Poppies put together by local school children to remember soldiers that we have lost in the war.

 After the ceremonies, the wreath is decorated with the audience's poppies.

Mural on Valour Road and Ellice Avenue of the three soldiers, Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall and Lieutenant Robert Shankland, who were individually awarded the Victoria Cross.  All three lived on Pine Street, which was later renamed in 1925 as the present Valour Road to commemorate their acts of bravery during the war.

We know the story of Valour Road, but not everyone else does.
Andrew Swan

Wednesday, November 9

Now simulating Winnipeg's first hackerspace

On November 5th, Winnipeg's first hackerspace opened its doors to the public.

Hold on a second.

.. A hacker-wha?

What is a hackerspace, exactly?

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Also referred to as a hackspace, hacklab, makerspace or creative space, a hackerspace is a physical hub where people with common interests gather to meet, share, learn and create.  The subject of these meetings generally fall under the categories of technology, science or digital art, but there are many other lesser known themes that they can be focused upon.
The cool thing about these centres is that their members often collaborate to develop software, hardware and various technological tools.  Hackerspaces also provide a venue for different presentations, workshops and lectures led by local techie wizards.
To learn more about Hackerspaces, click here.

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Located on the 3rd floor of 125 Adelaide Street in the Exchange District, SkullSpace offers a place for hackers, builders, programmers and artists to intellectually and creatively collide.  They aim to provide the space, tools, education and freedom to make their ideas come to life.

They also have a pretty sweet blog that you can check out.  It gives you a better taste of what's hidden inside of their space - pinball machines, vintage games feeding through a projector and apparently there was some sort of remix of Nyan Cat going on at their after party.  Sounds like a good time to me!

For anyone that's interested in signing up to be a member of SkullSpace, they host their weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 6:00PM.  There is paperwork on their website,, that you must fill out for the meeting.

Members that decide to make the commitment pay $40 a month.  This membership grants you 24/7 access to the space, ridiculously fast bandwidth speeds and various tools, amongst other things listed on their Member Benefits page.

Just another hidden gem in the Exchange definitely worth checking out.

Friday, November 4

First Fridays in the Exchange District

Also known as: TGIFF.  Thank god it's First Fridays!

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First Fridays in Winnipeg's Exchange District began as a project initiated by Sue Gordon and Karen Schulz in August 2010.  Since then, it has gone viral in this historic part of town.  Various art studios, retail outlets and restaurants are happily taking part in the monthly festivities.

First Fridays occurs on the first Friday of every month.  It aims to bring people into the Exchange, and allows local businesses to get their names out to the rest of Winnipeg and beyond.  These businesses open their doors and allow the public to participate in free art exhibitions, take advantage of discounted merchandise and to simply come together in a beautiful, striving part of downtown.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about First Fridays, click here.
Tonight, from 5PM to 10PM, everyone is invited to check out yet another First Fridays events.  This link will help guide you through all of the places participating in tonight's shindig.

What better way to spend your Friday nights than immersing yourself in exciting art, enjoying local talent and taking advantage of sweet discounts on unique and trendy swag.

Monday, October 31

These boots are made for photos(?)

Who knew taking pictures of shoes could be so interesting?

Gradually learning how to take photographs with an SLR camera.  These pictures were taken inside of my Exchange District apartment of my Kodiak boots.

Whenever I get the free time, perhaps I'll post a photographic tour of my digs in the Lindsay Building.