Personal

Celebration: Happy Birthday Duke!

Duke, my oldest nephew, turns 4 today. This little guy currently is fascinated by tornadoes…

a-tornado-in-north-dakota-by-mitch-dobrowner

via

and dinosaurs…

Dinosaur

via Retronaut

Random fact – Duke thinks I am going to send him a tray of meatballs. Yes – quite the imagination at 4 years old! I’m not going to be the one to tell him that I’ve never actually made meatballs and I doubt Canada Post would mail them to NYC even if I did make them. The little cutie definitely keeps me entertained!

Happy Birthday Duke!

Travel: Pittsburgh

I spent this past weekend on a father-daughter trip to Pittsburgh*. In our short visit we managed to learn a bit about the history of the city and we explored quite a few neighbourhoods. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos to share because I mistakenly erased most of them while I was uploading them to my computer (darn!). Here are a few photos along with a recap of our trip highlights.

view of downtown Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

  • We stayed at the Wyndham downtown, located right at the tip of the city, where we enjoyed a beautiful view of Mount Washington as well as the intersection of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers.
  • From our hotel we walked to the Strip District where we browsed a few food stores. There are a lot of interesting old buildings and signs in this small area.
  • Did you know that Heinz is from Pittsburgh? Neither of us had any idea until we saw Heinz signs on buildings around town (e.g., the Heinz theatre, the Heinz lofts, Heinz field).

Heinz lofts, Pittsburgh

  • We took a drive up Mount Washington and we are glad we did because the view of the city was pretty spectacular. From the designated look-out points the downtown core looked amazing as did the rivers, and the many bridges that connect different sides of the city.

Carnegie library, Pittsburgh

here I am enjoying the view of the river and downtown Pittsburgh

  • Squirrel Hill and South Side were other neighbourhoods we visited – although very briefly – and I would be eager to spend more time in each of these places on a future visit.
  • We had some pretty good meals during our stay. We had read about Pamela’s Diner in several guides so we decided to give it a try (apparently President Obama is a fan of their hotcakes). The atmosphere was lively, the service was friendly, and the food (we each ordered hotcakes, of course!) was fresh and tasty. We ate dinner at Nola in Market Square one night and, again, we were treated to a delicious meal with a cajun influence (I had alligator tacos!).
  • And of course, no visit of a city is complete (for me) without a trip to the university (or, in this case, the universities). The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are just two of the several universities that are in Pittsburgh. They are neighbours in the Oakland district. The University of Pittsburgh, affectionately called Pitt, was established in 1787 (wow!) and Carnegie Mellon is a well-known private institution which has beautifully kept buildings and grounds.

As you can imagine, it was a very full weekend of travel, work and sightseeing. Next time I head to Pittsburgh I’ll have to attend a sporting event – Pittsburghers (?) seem to really love supporting their teams (Steelers & Penguins, right?!). Do you have any other recommendations this US city?

*Truth be told – I was there for work and I’m pretty sure the only reason my dad wanted to come along was so that he could put his newly acquired GPS gadget to work. Ha ha.)

Celebration: White Cabana Gets a Makeover!

I am so happy to reveal White Cabana’s new look! It’s a bit more sleek and a bit more white (yes!).

There are a few more things to work out over the next little but for now please note that the new web address is whitecabana.com.

I would like to extend some very heartfelt thank you to some people who have helped make this all possible:

Shannon from AKA Design – Thanks for convincing me that a blog redesign was something that I could actually handle. It worked! Thanks also for taking the time out of your very busy life to answer my questions!

Patricia from Mira Belleza – Thanks for designing such a beautiful site…and for answering my ongoing list of questions.

The Namespro team – Thanks for making the blog transfer process so easy. Your technical support team was so incredibly supportive and clearly answered my never-ending questions!

(Is anyone noticing a theme here – my questions!?)

White Cabana’s fabulous contributors – Johanne, Mackenzie & Troy – thanks for being an awesome and very intelligent team!

My family – Thanks for giving me the thumbs up on all the blog design previews I sent you!

White Cabana’s readers – Thanks to you for stopping by the blog on a daily basis! I am so happy to share my love of white with all of you!

And before I leave you to enjoy a very lovely Monday, here’s a look back at White Cabana’s style…

White Cabana – the original header designed by Johanne

White Cabana – live until October 2012

White Cabana – live since October 2012

Photography: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Before the age of 5 I had seen a good chunk of the world thanks to all the amazing family trips my parents planned. Even before I really figured out what traveling was all about, I had caught the travel bug. When I was at my parents’ place over Thanksgiving weekend I had a chance to look through some family photo albums. I always enjoy the walk down memory lane. I can remember the cities and countries we visited and I try to imagine how my parents traveled with two small children to such far away places.

Here is a very White Cabana worthy photo of me at a beach in Portugal when I was 4 years old.

photo of me taken by my father

My tastes haven’t changed too much, have they? Beach, white, red – I’m a happy girl!

How about you? Did you travel as a child? Do you travel with your children?

Travel: Miami

While my friend Shannon and I spent the majority of our vacation in Madeira Beach, we did take a quick trip to Miami. The drive from Madeira was easy minus the fact that once we got to Miami we spent an hour trying to find South Beach (um, yeah). The highways are so well-maintained (tolls everywhere!) and the drive across the Everglades was pretty cool even though we spotted no alligators and almost ran out of gas. Oops.

Once we arrived in South Beach we spent most of our time at the beach. It’s a much wider beach than in Madeira and the water is more clear. We loved the fact that our hotel offered chaise lounges and umbrellas for its guests. This definitely made our time at the beach that much more comfortable.

beach chairs before they get their blue cushions

Being a fan of architecture, I was excited to take photos of all the art deco buildings that South Beach is famous for. Unfortunately, we used up all the sunny time at the beach and when we did finally get to the sight-seeing portion of our two-day trip, we got rained on. I only managed to snap a couple of photos.

We did have lunch at the very art deco Jerry’s Famous Deli. The inside was awesome – and very red and gold. The light fixtures got my attention as did the menu. I didn’t have much energy to read through it all (it was vacation, remember?) so I settled for a BLT and lucky for me it was good.

at Jerry’s Famous Deli

The trip was much to brief so I’m definitely looking forward to going back on day in the future. Have you been to Miami? What are your favourite places to visit?

Photos by me.

Celebration: A Poem

If you’ve been following regularly then you know that I love singing the praises of my extra talented group of friends. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by generous, honest, intelligent and kind-hearted people. Yes, indeed! Last month for my birthday my friend Suparna wrote me a sweet little poem. I asked her permission to share it here.

Through meadows green, on stones so clean

Skips the birthday girl

A calm day down Forest Way

She pauses at the door with a curl.

Why so quiet? One cannot deny it

The elf that lives within

Generally sings with tones that ring

Clattering pots and cups of tin.

She says, “Hello?” and feels she must go

But stops when she senses the smell

Of freshly baked cake and all that would make

A girl enter without ringing the bell.

It was dark inside, enough to hide

A GREAT BIG elvin party

Who flipped on the lights and screamed with DELIGHT,

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY JORDANA GARBATI!”

While my birthday has passed, I just love re-reading this made-for-me poem. Thanks Suparna!

p.s. Not only can Suparna write and rhyme, but she also coaches a Quidditch team for her students in Singapore. She has yet to tell me exactly how she goes about this!

54 Is Just a Number

My father turns 54 today and, like many people his age, he is constantly complaining about how “he’s getting so old”. Well, I believe that if you live your life to the fullest, acquire many interests, and just enjoy life there is no reason to complain about how old you are.

After all – your age is just a number!

To celebrate my dad’s birthday I’m sharing five things that my dad enjoys.

cigars

Rolex

Ferrari

Pink Floyd – The Wall

Hawaii

Happy birthday Dad!

xo

Mackenzie

Interiors: Kitchen Renovation. The Progress.

Way back in February my parents began a major renovation of their main floor. They tore out the floor, the powder room, the laundry room, the kitchen, and the family room. And then they put it back together again (with the help of a few very talented people). I’m happy to report that the renovation is almost – almost – done! And it is gorgeous (I’m not just saying that because it’s white, either). Here is a sneak peek of some of the details.

kitchen cabinets (wood with dovetail construction) – Parada Kitchens

kitchen cabinets – Parada Kitchens; Wolf stove ready to be assembled; counter ready to be installed

Sub-Zero fridge – ready to be unpeeled

a sweet vintage crystal chandelier (you won’t believe the deal my mom got on this one!)

fireplace mantel with carrera marble surround

fireplace mantel detail

Note: If you’re in the Toronto area and you’re looking for a kitchen cabinet maker my parents definitely recommend Parada Kitchens. My mom, who is very particular about quality, craftsmanship, work ethic and design (among other things – sorry Mom but it’s true), was quite impressed with Parada. (And no – they did not get a deal on their kitchen because I just wrote all of this.)

Photos by me.

Books: Blurb + Giveaway

I have been raving to my friends about Blurb ever since I wrote my first book for my nephew’s second birthday. For that book, I illustrated pictures of fruit, scanned them to my computer, and then uploaded them to a Blurb template. I then wrote the vocabulary to match (in three languages of course – that’s my academic side coming through!), finalized a few details, and pressed publish. In a matter of weeks, my first Blurb book arrived in my mailbox and I spent quite a bit of time showing it off before I handed it over to my nephew.

a preview of my first Blurb book – a multilingual book about fruit

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that I have since published a few other books for each of my nephew’s birthdays. I am pleased with how each of them has turned out (and I think my nephews are too) and Blurb has been an easy company to work with.

customizable copyright & dedication pages

sssshh…this one still hasn’t been opened…it’s for Reef’s second birthday next week

here are my nephews reading Duke’s third birthday book about shapes

While I have not made my books available to the public, this is definitely a possibility with Blurb and something to pursue if you have written something that you want to share with others. On the other hand, if you’re at a loss for words but you want to compile photos from your last vacation, then consider Blurb the place to do so. The company offers quite a few design options, page templates, and bounding possibilities.

Want to get started? Well, look no further! Blurb is offering one lucky reader a $35 promo code to use toward a Blurb book. To enter this giveaway simply leave a comment and tell us what type of Blurb book you would like to create. And do it quick – this contest ends on Thursday June 7th, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random.

Note: Contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Photos and books by Jordana.

Celebration: Happy Birthday Dad!

Hi Dad. I know it’s early in the morning and you’re reading the blog. I posted this extra early just so that it would be here as soon as you logged on. Surprise!

cast iron French oven, Le Creuset

I know you’re going to enjoy putting your new Le Creuset to good use in your new kitchen!

Happy Birthday Dad!

xo

J

Interiors: Kitchen Renovation. The Beginning.

Oh my goodness. My parents have actually begun their big kitchen renovation. They have only been discussing it for 10+ years. The place has been torn apart and now we have to just wait and see how long it will take to put it all back together!

The first thing that got installed (not in the kitchen) was a new furnace with a white touch screen monitor…aka my Dad’s new toy.

I’m thinking that if I post about the progress it will motivate my parents to include as much white in the kitchen as I’ve been encouraging them to do!

Photos by Jordana.

The Friday Five: Music

Three months ago, my family and I lost someone very dear to us. My Zia Rose passed away after a 3 year fight with breast cancer and our worlds have forever been changed. While each of us celebrates her life each day, it is still very hard to come to terms with her death. Personally, I love looking at pictures and videos of her. Being with my uncle and cousins also makes me feel happy because I know she would want us to continue to laugh, sing, and gossip with one another as often as possible.

It must have been almost a year ago when I sat in my aunt and uncle’s kitchen and we talked about White Cabana. While Zia Rose cheered my efforts she also wondered why I hadn’t posted anything music related. Come on Jo, she said. I tried to tell her that, although I like listening to music, remembering song titles and lyrics and compiling play lists is not my forte. Before I could get another word in, she was spouting off a list of song titles with the word white in them. She was so excited and gave herself a pat on the back for coming up with such a genius post idea. She made us all laugh.

I meant to write this post soon after that visit but I never did. Today’s the day for music.

White Wedding – Billy Idol

White Room – Cream

A White Sportcoat – Marty Robbins

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues

This post is dedicated to Zia Rose and Zio Nick.

Many thanks to my friend Joel who helped me compile this list of songs. I hope Zia Rose would approve. I know she would sing!

Personal: Remembering Zia Rose

Just over a month ago, my Zia Rose‘s three year battle with breast cancer came to a very sad end. Since her passing, I’ve been attempting to write a post in her honour and, even though I write every day for the blog and for my day job, it has been so tough to find the words to really capture my aunt’s fun-loving spirit, generous nature, and incredible strength. I have written and rewritten this post numerous times and nothing, and I mean nothing, has seemed right.

I finally decided that since five is a favourite number around here on Fridays, I would share with you five happy memories I have of my amazing aunt.

Zia Rose’s hot chocolate was the best around. I’m not exactly sure what made it so good but when I was young, my sister and I used to go over to her and my uncle’s house and we would sit up against the kitchen counter and watch her make us hot chocolate. After a visit there we’d go home and rave to our mom about Zia Rose’s hot chocolate. This hot chocolate routine always put a smile on my face.

***

When we, her nieces, were young, before she had children of her own, Zia Rose used to treat us to something special on our birthdays. She would either come up with the idea or she’d ask us what we wanted to do to celebrate our special day. For my 9th or 10th birthday, my treat, it was decided, was to spend a day with Zia Rose at Sherway Gardens. There, I’d be able to pick out a present. I remember walking around the mall with her and not knowing what to buy at all. I also wasn’t used to having free reign of the mall! I remember we went into Jacob – one of the most coveted stores at the time – and I tried on some blue dresses and skirts. After thinking long and hard about which item of clothing I wanted for my birthday gift, I settled on a blue skirt. At the time I wore a blue & white uniform to school and I remember being so excited that I was going to have a piece of Jacob clothing to wear to school every day! Zia Rose asked me several times if I was sure that what I wanted for my birthday was a sensible blue skirt and I reassured her that it was the skirt of my dreams! When Zia Rose dropped me off at home, I remember her telling my mom that I was such a practical little girl. Ha ha ha. I can bet my mom doesn’t remember this but the memory is so clear in my own head.

***

One of Zia Rose’s favourite questions was: How old do I look? The correct response: Not a day over 21 Zia Rose. No other answer would do. Ever. For as long as I can remember.

***

When I graduated from university Zia Rose generously gave me a gift. She was so excited and eager for me to open the box. I wish I had the moment on video – I was in complete amazement when I saw what was inside – my very first Burberry tote. I’m pretty sure I jumped around my parents’ family room shrieking with happiness. I think of Zia Rose every time I use that purse. I love it for so many reasons. Zia Rose could never hide the joy she felt when someone else opened a present from her and I think her honest excitement is rare to find.

***

Zia Rose had the most beautiful voice. She could sing like it was nobody’s business. Christmas Eve at her place always included karaoke. Well – the machine was there. The people were there. But what usually ended up happening was that Zia Rose had control of the microphone all night long. Yes, sure, it was family karaoke, but really, it was Zia Rose Live In Concert. The rest of us could be back-up dancers but that’s about all she’d allow. Ha ha ha. It makes me laugh so hard. If I even tried to sing, I’d hear, Oh Jo, no!!! Zia Rose did approve of my brother-in-law’s singing, however, and they’d perform a few duets in between courses. Oh my goodness – remembering Zia Rose’s energy and excitement about singing just puts a big smile on my face.

***

There are so many more stories I could share but these are some of my most vivid. They also all remind me of Zia Rose’s generous and kind heart.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It means a lot to me and I know it also means a lot to the rest of my family.

Celebration: Thank You

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Johanne who has filled in for me for the last few days here on the blog.

card

Tough times are easier to manage when friends and family are there to offer a hand. Johanne – you did just that. Thank you.

Music: The Rose

Long before YouTube was ever invented, Zia Rose, my aunt, recorded her version of Bette Midler’s The Rose on a cassette tape. I must have first heard her sing it when I was around 9 or 10 years old. It was so beautiful and it gave me chills. I remember that the cassette got passed around between different families so we could all have a chance to listen to it and I remember full family discussions about “the tape”. When I was learning to play the piano the sheet music for The Rose somehow wound up in our house and I always thought about it as Zia Rose’s song.

I am so extremely sad to share that Zia Rose passed away early this morning and while I’m not ready to write about it, I am happy to share this memory. I can hear her singing and I hope I never stop.

Some say love it is a river
that drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
an endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
and you it’s only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
who cannot seem to give
and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose

Today, I would love it if you could read these lyrics or listen to Bette Midler’s version. When I eventually get a hold of the tape (surely it’s my turn) I will convert it do a digital file and upload it for everyone to hear.