If you have ever talked to me about my life in Thunder Bay, you are likely to hear stories of my time at Lakehead University, the wonderful friends I’ve made and the majestic beauty of its natural surroundings.


In the same conversation, you are also likely to here me rave about The Hoito.


The Hoito Restaurant is a Finnish-Canadian restaurant and for nearly 100 years has been a cultural institution in Thunder Bay.


To say I was shocked to hear that it could close would be underselling it. I’m reading the CBC story (http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-s-hoito-restaurant-could-close-1.2997152) and it’s clear how any business can be crushed by debt.


However this doesn’t change how I feel about the place or the memories of the great times it conjures up.


There is something very special about this place. Each time I visit Thunder Bay, as part of my volunteer work for the Alumni Association of Lakehead University, I make a point of having breakfast here.


I cozy up to a counter seat and order a chocolate milk. My order usually consists of Finnish pancakes but on those occasions where I’m feeling extra naughty, I order the Hoito Burger. Yes – I’ve ordered a burger and fries (with gravy) at 7:00 in the morning.


Even the mention of gravy brings back waves of nostalgia. Perhaps I’m being over sentimental, but I’d like to think not.


I’m sure the resourceful people of the Finlandia Club, the people of Thunder Bay, the students of both Lakehead University and Confederation College will find a way to save this institution. I can only hope.


For those in the know – this post was written by Gravy!


A Family Tradition

July 20, 2014

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return the Ottawa REDBLACKS! It’s been nearly a decade since a CFL game has been played at Lansdowne Park, now TD Place and in that time my son has grown into a fine young man.

I wanted to look for a tradition I could share with my son – something that we can learn, love and laugh together and season tickets seemed like a wonderful idea. Season tickets were something we never had. We have gone to other sporting events, but this would be the first time that we would be season ticket holders – complete with our very own seats!

I think I was more excited than my son, but as opening day grew closer, I could see his curiosity and excitement build. He wasn’t having anything to do with my plans to dress up as lumberjacks, but I did want opening day to be something very special.

I ordered some appropriately themed cupcakes from Vanilla Gourmet Cupcakes, picked up the required Ottawa REDBLACKS swag from our neighborhood Giant Tiger (Thank you to @mrsnickcharney for the idea) and patiently awaited for our departure to the TD Place.

As a thank you, we shared our first cupcake with the taxi driver that drove us to the game and preceded to share the rest of them with random strangers around the stadium. You can see some of those photos here.

To say the mood was electric would not only be an understatement, but also downright boring. It felt wonderful to be part of this exciting chapter of Ottawa and the REDBLACKS! To be able to share this with my son was magically magnificent.

We soaked up the atmosphere and you can genuinely tell that people were excited to have professional ball back in the nation’s capital. We wanted to experience it all and we did.

Beverages. Food. The comraderie. Hanging out on the West Lawn to try and catch a football was one of the highlights. Meeting Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons – was an awesome experience. Sharing this with my son – unbelievable.

There were multiple winners that night! The Ottawa REDBLACKS, the fans and me.

Can’t wait for the next game! #GOREDBLACKSGO!

You can learn more about Vanilla Gourmet Cupcakes here:
Facebook: Vanilla Gourmet Cupcakes
Twitter: @VanillaGourmet
Web: Vanilla Gourmet Cupcakes

A friend and I discussed sharing a challenge of sorts – a month of acts of kindness. You may know @Jodilynne3 & she certainly has been doing a better job at documenting her kindness journey.

I haven’t been as dedicated, committed or engaged as her and that has left me asking why.

It’s certainly not that I haven’t had the time – in fact – I know I have had the time. It’s not that I haven’t witnessed or read about wonderful acts of kindness. Almost daily – I see people doing wonderful, simple and kind things.

The more I thought about it, the more clear the potential answer / road block / hesitation revealed itself.

You see – I forgot about how simplicity and daily reflection can improve one’s spirits and one’s balance. In an attempt to share a grand story or reveal a previously unknown truth, I just didn’t take the time to ’empty the bowl.’

I didn’t take the time to think back on my day, my interactions, both personal and professional, my successes and my failures. And that stood in the way.

Tomorrow may just be better…