If I learned anything from a recent trip to the Muskokas, it’s that Ford is great at making SUVs!
Sure, the Sport/Suburban Utility Vehicle might not be everyone’s first choice when shopping for a new ride, but if they’re not, they are missing out! SUVs are growing in popularity worldwide as drivers seek more flexibility and utility from their vehicles, no longer content with options that do the bare minimum. We don’t just want to get from A to B anymore—we’re doing it with our groceries. Our furniture. Our ski gear. And our babies. We need vehicles that grow with us—not ones left behind as our circumstances change.
And perhaps that’s why SUVs stand as the top-selling vehicle segment in Canada and the US—heck; Ford sold 1.7 million of them in 2016 alone! As the #1 SUV brand for seven years running (with an eighth hot on their heels), I’d say Ford knows what it’s doing—which is why they’re introducing five new SUVs by 2020, including the Ford EcoScport compact utility and the all-new Ford Expedition! With Ford’s global SUV sales growing a staggering 80% these past five years, ain’t no stoppin’ ’em now!
But that’s only part of the story—I could go blue in the face telling you about the thousands of features that go into making Ford’s SUVs top-notch, but you don’t want stuff you could lift from a spec sheet… you want to see how they work in the real world.
And that’s exactly what Ford Canada challenged us to discover this past summer!
You were a real pain in the rear, you know that? With temperatures plunging into the negative 30s, the blogosphere in a quiet lull as the influencers hibernate, and motivation at a standstill as the deadly winter saps the life from everyone it touches, you’re only four weeks long, but easily one of the hardest months to endure.
Jeez — has it already been two months since I did a “monthly” wrap-up post? Makes sense: time’s something that means a lot less once you become a parent — everything’s just one big blur.
I’ve struggled with this post for a while now. I’ll look at my life, wondering why anyone would want to read about the things I do — people think I live some glamorous “blogger life”, but I spend most of it at home or work, throwing in time for food, sleep, hygiene and commuting. After blogging for so long, sure I’ve started working with brands to introduce themselves to new audiences, but don’t get it twisted — there’s no one rolling out the red carpet when I sit down at home to get my blog on.
Sarah recently pointed out that I hadn’t taken a break since the two weeks I took off right after our son was born, and six months later — while I deny being burnt out — I definitely feel it. I can feel my annoyance with people I’d usually just ignore. I feel my mind scrambling to finish everything now, now, NOW as I do well with the beginnings and endings of journeys, but I loathe being stuck in the middle. I feel like everything’s in transition, and I can’t wait to make it to the other side with a better idea of the work I’m called to do.
Though it’s a smidge late for my monthly wrap-up, I’ve kept busy both on- and offline, making the most of my life despite an unappreciative work culture and the challenges of parenthood. I entered Tobago’s Division of Tourism and Transportation’s 60 Days in Paradise contest, hoping for some time in the sun and a change of pace from Toronto’s constant grind. I taught photography fundamentals to up-and-coming women in the fashion and beauty industries, taking a first step toward teaching and public speaking, two things I’ve wanted to grow in for a long time now. I’ve made sandwiches, reclaimed some of my ancient past from my parents’ place and dedicated my son in his first step of being part of our church and the community that comes with it.
All things considered, I’ve started Spring off in a good place, huddled indoors avoiding The Winter that Would Not End, and if you’re anything like my fellow Torontonians and I, you know that winter sorely overstayed its welcome! But here on the other end of Gore-Tex boots and thermal underwear, my teeth stopped chattering and fingers thawed long enough to tell you what mischief I did get into those 61 days….
Hanging with Team Trolling
Oftentimes, I can’t believe it’s only been 2 years since I started hanging out with these guys. If there’s a constant in my life outside of my home, taxes and a workload that just won’t quit, it’s the Trolls. Chatting daily on numerous platforms, we’re always up to something.
In March and April, the shenanigans happened at three places….
Cel’s Birthday at Pauper’s Pub
Unlike #SavvyMoney or #DoomzDay, we never came up with a good hashtag for Marcel’s birthday. That should be his gift next year!
Marcel’s girlfriend and her roommate convinced me to give Sons of Anarchy another chance after its first 5 seasons left me feeling lukewarm. Glad I did, because Season 6 is ah-may-zing!!!
Obtained yet another illicit roti delivery courtesy of Justin and Marie — part of Team Trolling’s Western Division — and all I had to do in exchange was pick some cables up from Infinite Cables. I’d make that trade any day.
Val didn’t wind up with credit card fraud on this visit to Pauper’s, which is always a bonus!
The Trolls Hit Pizzeria Libretto, aka Casey’s Favourite Pizza Joint in All of Toronto
red pepper, almond romesco sauce, Libretto herb oil
house-made crema fresca, lemon, chives, rosemary
spicy bomba tomato sauce, grilled crostino, grana padano
If you came here for a food review, might I direct you to Justin’s blog on the matter — I was there to take photos and enjoy the company. But no word of a lie — I haven’t found a pizza in this city yet that can trump Libretto’s Nduja Sausage pizza, and trust me — I eat a lot of pizza!
We managed to use our social media swagger to secure their semi-private room in the basement (sorry, table we bumped — feel free to holla at us if you want to tell us how you really feel), and with our special guest JennJenn of AwesomeJennJennnotoriety fame, it made for an excellent night.
By far the oddest server ever, who not only served us with style, but may have eaten the last piece of Marie’s delicious lemon meringue pie (thus coining what will only be called the “Catchphrase of the Year”), and convinced me to have another beer in the most unexpected way possible when I thought I was already covered!
Somehow getting JennJenn’s leftover proscuitto pizza switched with Lily’s… questionable white anchovy pizza. Sadly, neither pizza was eaten, with Lily throwing JennJenn’s out and Sarah throwing Lily’s out after it sat for days. It was probably for the best.
All Star Wings and Ribs
Freshly prepared Nacho Chips topped with a 1/2 lb. of cheese, diced tomato, jalapenos, and shallots. Served with salsa and sour cream. Add ‘Certified Angus Beef’ brand chili (4 oz.) Add grilled chicken (5 oz.) Add pulled pork
6 battered mozzarella sticks. Served with zesty cajun dip.
BBQ, Cajun, Creole Mustard
Sweet Chili Thai, Creamy Garlic Parmesan
Finally, we made our way to the northern Mississaugan reaches to catch Game 5 of the Raptors’ ill-fated first round playoff series. It’s hard to take photos of the food when your fingers are slathered in wing sauce, but I can tell you that the food, friends, “F Brooklyn” tee that Jo had thoughtfully provided, and a heart-stopping basketball game made for a very fulfilling night.
If only the traffic out of Toronto hadn’t been so horrible.
Most notable, other than keeping our server very amused with our antics, was the game and going H.A.M. as the Raptors blew our minds… and then disappointed… and then got lucky. JEEZ, Raps.
Oh, and schooners. Way too much beer in my life, people.
Held in King West Village’s 99 Sudbury, Ford threw a bash to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang, a muscle car journeying through cinematic time from 1964’s Goldfinger from the James Bond film series all the way to 2014’s Need for Speed (starring the likes of Aaron Paul and Scott Mescudi).
For me, #FordMustang50 was an excellent case study in what happens when you make yourself scarce, suddenly reappearing after a bit of a hiatus.
SPECS AND INFO Owner: George O’Hearn, Oakville, Ontario Colour: Blue medium metallic with matching medium blue interior (as ordered) Built date: December 23rd 1969 Sold new in Detroit and imported across the river to Wndsor in 2000 where the car was restored. 351 cubic inch Cleveland “M” engine and close ratio four speed with Hurst shifter. The car is an original “H” code (meaning it came with a 351 Cleveland 2 barrel). The transmission and rear-end are original to the car with only the engine being upgraded. Power disc brakes were added as a safety upgrade (factory available option in 1970).
Okay, not exactly true — I popped in at ReGiftTO, I managed to hit the Canadian International Auto Show, but it’s all different now. Any time I go out, it’s like I’m trying to make up for all this social time I missed in one big bang. I still need to learn a lesson about taking things in stride, but I’m not there yet.
Since 2013’s Blue Party, Ford’s helped me grow my appreciation for vehicles — but for me, the night wound up being less about the cars and more about reconnecting with the friends I’d seldom seen since my son made his début, and meeting new people who had all sorts of stories to share! I talked frugality and storytelling with an elementary school teacher; discussed the relatively new trend of urbanites who see no value in having a driver’s license; and even did okay in the trivia they held to award prizes (despite knowing almost none of the answers!) For a better look at the night’s events, I recommend hitting Christine’s blog on the matter 🙂
The 2014 100: Updates
Life isn’t simply some template for you to slot your experiences into — life evolves along with your relationships, environment and personality. With that in mind, maybe it’s foolish to compile a 100-item list of things to accomplish when a year’s barely begun — it’s good to have goals, but over a year, our interests and opinions can change. Much like I said last year, while the list won’t change by the year’s end, the person behind it definitely will.
All things considered, I did knock a few more items off of the list in the last bit….
6 – Open an RESP for DoomzToo
The maximum annual RESP contribution that the federal government will top-up is $2,500, which may seem like a lot, but between gifts, tax refunds and Universal Child Care Benefits, you can make it work. I won’t go over the rules and regulations behind them, but when you get a kid, it’s smart to get on this as soon as possible to take advantage of the magic of compound interest.
So with Sarah’s help, we got an RESP open, and in another couple of decades, hopefully we’ll see a return from the investment 😉
26 – Guest blog more often
Sometimes my ambition extends beyond my ability, and that conundrum presented itself repeatedly throughout March and April!
As a general rule, if you’re already struggling with content for your site, perhaps you shouldn’t be writing for others.
But despite that two-month slump, I’m coming back swinging for the rest of the year, ready to tell the world exactly what’s on my mind.
47 – Finish the family tree to the best of my ability
Thousands of entries and hours of research later, the family tree’s as far as it’ll get without going to Jamaica for more information. I remember struggling with making one when I was young, as much of my family history wasn’t documented or too muddled by generations of assumption and oral history. Perhaps it’s that feeling of frustration that drives me, never wanting my son to experience the same and giving him everything he needs to know about where he came from.
I’d love to eventually take this a step further and dig up some church records from all over the Caribbean, but until free time and a whole heap of money intersect paths in my life, I think I’ll consider this one done.
74 – See a doctor about the mysterious pain in my side
The mysterious pain in my side’s been solved — turns out when you’re unaccustomed to bending over to grab your kid from his crib, your body can react in unexpected ways.
When I pick things up, I bend with my knees — I’m better off with a bum knee than a bad back, after all! That, though, is not an option when grabbing a baby from a crib, as I’d often do with our son in the earlier days before sleep training.
The more I got him, the less it bothered me, until the pain had gone. Also, carrying a 20-pound baby around makes you stronger, like it or not. Yeah, I think my physical can wait ’til 2015.
So I did it — I finally did it. I wrote this post without putting too many people to sleep! It’s over a week into May, and things aren’t getting any quieter. The summer’s the busiest season for all the social activities in Toronto, and even with a baby, I have a feeling that this one’s will be a year to remember!
Catch you on the flip side,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
I haven’t been out to the Detroit-Windsor corridor since late 2008 when my brother-in-law got married there, and only 9 months into dating, Sarah led me into an ambush, seating me at a table with many of her paternal uncles and cousins who I’d meet for the very first time. (Quite the feat to make a good impression while hungover, but that, my friends, is a story for another time!)
This year, they kicked it up a notch by invited me as one of a dozen Canadian bloggers as their guest at Putting You In The Driver’s Seat: the NAIAS Blogger Experience, which revolved aroundthe 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.
Even though Maverick PR’s #OpenEnvelope-inspiring tweet likely got some would-be attendees to stay in and out of the cold of Snowmageddon, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about Ford Canada, it’s this — they definitely know how to throw an event!
How far will you go to party?
Though many weren’t willing to brave Snowmageddon to attend “another social media event”, I’ll be one to tell them that they missed out! It was a testament to tenacity on Friday, February 8th, as a number of us made it out to Ford Canada’s Blue Party! Held at the Sound Academy on the south end of Toronto, the Blue Party was all about bringing a number of Toronto bloggers together to see the unveiling of the 2014 Ford Fiesta, a fuel-efficient hatchback with a slick look to it!
Not one to waste time questioning messages from people I know, I sent it along, not knowing what would come next.
What did come next was this —
Didn’t see this coming, but was happy to receive it!
Snowmageddon be damned, the party was still alive and kicking!
I was fortunate enough to get a ride there with my friend Christine, but even if you weren’t driving in, Ford even hooked it up with a shuttle service to the venue:
Shuttle pickup at 630-7 UnionSTN ACC entrance, look for Black Expedition with Ford Oval in windshield #FordBlueTO
With one of the most painless check-in processes I’d ever seen, we got our badges, checked out coats, posed for pictures — and got greeted by members of the Ford Canada team and glasses of the Blue Grand Margarita (the event’s dangerously addictive drink of choice) as soon as we got in the door!
The sign at the front was only the beginning of what was to come!
I was wearing too many layers, but the fact that the badge was magnetized help stop many a nice outfit from being ruined with pinholes!
I won’t lie. It was delicious. (1/2 oz blue curacao, 1/4 oz tequila + lime juice)
No matter where you looked, there was something you could do:
Catch up With Friends
It was good hanging with Christine again, and catching up with the likes of Alexa and Zach with many other friends in the house 🙂
It takes two, baby…
Zach and Dan on a couch. Talking about who knows what. I’d probably know if I went to A Sponsored Life and looked for the February 9th podcast…
She didn’t need it, but Chris looked SUPER-awesome after her complimentary makeover!
Christine had done her hair and makeup before the event, but decided to get a touch-up!
This was Rosie’s first social media-related event, and I think she got RIGHT into it! There’s a car there too, in case you didn’t see it 😉
But in all honesty, it was really cool that they gave you the option of sharing the photos immediately from the event. SUPER-cool!
One day, Sarah’s going to go through my site in detail and see all these mysterious photos with random women. Hazards of the occupation! Occupation: Wearing sequins!
Gaming and Leisure
One corner held games and grooming, with a foosball table, two games offering head-to-head racing competition, and stations for manicures, makeover and massages (oh my!)
Boys and their Toys
Ford displayed choice cars all over the floor, with detailed specs for each so you could understand what you could come to expect by being a Ford owner:
Both my father and father-in-law saw this and immediately wanted to take it for a spin. Get in line, sirs. Get in line.
It was good to get up close and personal with so many of the Ford vehicles — they’d even lift the hood for you if you wanted to see what was going on underneath!
Gotta Eat and Run
The food — oh my goodness, I don’t know who they got to cater this, but the food was delicious. I had Justin jealous with the livetweeting of everything I was cramming down my throat, and he’s lucky that there was so much sensory overload going on all night, or there would’ve been plenty more:
A whimsical display of lollipop heaven! Featuring a tasty display of our famous sweet lollipops: cheesecake lollipops, brownie and blondie lollipops, and strawberry lollipops!
Mini Polish perogies stuffed with cheese and potatio filling and topped with cheddar, green onions and a dollop of chipotle sour cream
Bourbon based ribs on purple potato salad in sweet onion dressing
Snow crab, shrimp and mussels with pickled daikon, pink grapefruit and cucumber, nestled on organic greens dressed in a citrus vinaigrette
Cheddar triangles with garlic butter and tomato (Vegetarian)
Slider burgers served in a miniature hamburger bun with shredded lettuce, sliced pickles and Thousand Island dressing
Crisp milanesh chicken, salted fresh cheese, chipotle avocado cream on a petit onion challah
Sweet potato and Yukon gold fries topped with Quebec cheese curds and roasted vegetable gravy
If this picture doesn’t make you want cupcakey goodness, something is WRONG with you.
I’m glad that they weren’t marshmallow, because they were AWESOME as cheesecake 😀
So many desserts, so little room after so much food…
An excuse to rock an outfit
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Battle of the Bands, so the sequined vest sat in the closet, waiting to come out and play. The Ford Blue Party was the perfect opportunity to do so, and I think it worked out quite well!
Music and Entertainment
The dance moves of the Mayhem Dance Group and Kiss 92.5’s DJ Clymaxxx on the 1s and 2s made sure that this party was happening.
It’s like a human centipede… but you know, a lot more dancing and less gross stuff.
That’s what’s up.
The Mayhem Dance Group got it going on!
As the night went on, DJ Clymaxxx spun better and better, eventually hitting some Boyz II Men, New Edition and Biggie Smalls from the 90s. Well done, sir. Well done.
SOMEONE BREAK OUT THE FORD SIGNAL!!!
When I win, TeamTrolling wins
One of the unexpected twists of the night was winning a pair of wicked tickets to a Toronto Raptors game — all for dancing; something I would’ve done anyway. It’s like I say: there’s no reward for the timid. Life isn’t going to hook you up for standing on the wall and trying to look “cool” — get in there and show the world what you’ve got! With that said, thank you Ford Canada for the tickets — Justin and I had a great time — but more on that later!!!
In case you need context for just how awesome these seats were, check this out to see Section 108, Row 14:
And of course, the 2014 Ford Fiesta
I’d drive it 🙂
I’d drive it 🙂
With Ford doing such a great job at engaging existing car lovers as well as trying to find new demographics, it’s great that the car looks as good as it does! With Sarah and I looking to buy a car in 2013, Ford’s made itself a contender, and I’ll be happy to spread the message of all they’re doing to adapt to an ever-changing world of social engagement. It’s good that there was a message behind all the lights and glamour, though…
The Overall Messages
The Ford Canada team made sure that we wouldn’t be drinking and driving, offering shuttle rides home to anyone in need, and making sure that everyone knew their limit. On top of that, we weren’t beholden to write anything, but from what I’ve seen, people are sharing the message because they had a great time. Of course, when a party is invite-only, it has its share of haters, as seen in the screen cap below:
To the haters, here’s a message — you receive from social media what you put in to it. I mean this on two fronts — put negativity and snide remarks in, you’re going to get the same back. People generally extend a hand to those who they can respect and build relationships with. Why would you want to keep someone around who’s just bringing negative attitude and poisonous words to the table? Also, if you think you should be entitled to attend an event because you’ve already invested in the group holding it, prove your worth. Write blogs about your experiences. Make videos of other friends giving products a try. Shouting at the top of the mountain that you’ve been overlooked or wronged only makes you look like a complainer, which brings us right back to the negative energy point. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
All in all, I’m happy that Ford Canada invited me to 2013’s Blue Party, and I hope it sets the tone for the rest of the year’s events!
How did YOU guys spend Snowmageddon?
Thanks for reading, guys!
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands: