Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Hamilton- Our Very Own Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

Hamilton seems to be on the upswing. Housing markets are incredible, the music and art scene are picking up steam, but if you are trying to find a job in Hamilton...well...good luck.

I'm not even talking about big business, fancy shmancy jobs. I'm talking about any normal, Monday to Friday, 9-5 jobs. I'm talking about any office, retail, anything kind of jobs. Unless of course you are a student and are looking to work 0-15 hours a week. There are jobs for you folks...until you graduate.

Sadly if you are like me. In a job you don't love that you have to commute to by GO train (which adds almost 3 hours onto the day) and trying to start over in the city that you live in, that you grew up in, well it's probably not going to happen for you. Just like it's not happening for me.

This is SO my train life. Errrryday.

So many people are moving to live in Hamilton because in comparison to Toronto and outlying areas we have fairly affordable real estate. So they are buying here and commuting to other cities for work. So it begs the question. If Hamilton is expanding, why isn't our job market?

Of course some of this is my fault. I have never pegged down a realistic passion. Something that I could love doing for 40 hours a week and never complain about. I've done a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I have a varying post secondary education and employment background. At this point in my life I have other things on my mind. I'm 30. I want to start a family soon. We've been talking about buying a house or condo sometime in the near future. When can these things happen if I'm spending all my time hating my job, or looking for work that doesn't seem to exist?!?!

Maybe at this point I don't care so much about "the dream" anymore, but convenience is becoming a bigger part of my dream. I'd like to work in the city I live in. Less time commuting = more time living. More living = more family time. That is what I'm after. A great work/life balance.

Maybe it was easier back in Audrey's day...

I would be happy working 30ish hours (not even full time...since it appears that no full time jobs even exist in Hamilton anyways). Doing something that I like or that at the very least I don't mind doing. If it doesn't make me dread getting up to go to work and make me stress to the point of feeling ill, well that would be a huge improvement. I would be okay with that. The truth is that that doesn't exist. Or at least I'm having trouble finding it.

After what feels like an eternity of applying for jobs online without ever hearing back from anything (besides jobs that were fronts for door to door sales or worse), I decided to start reaching out in my community. I have applied at malls, independently owned businesses, so many places, so so so many places. The malls were a let down. There were very few non-seasonal jobs. I have yet to hear back from anywhere.

Yesterday I decided to put it out to the people. In this day and age it's all about who you know. I posted to Facebook that I was looking for a job and if anybody had any leads to please let me know. I do have to say I know some incredible people and the support I felt with that one post was huge.

The sad thing was that every single lead I received from that post was not in Hamilton. I got Burlington, Mississauga, Oakville. I appreciate every single person responding to that message but why are none of these jobs in Hamilton?

With every message I sank a little bit lower. I don't want to leave Hamilton. I grew up here. My boyfriend and I have a nice little life here. But I just can't wrap my head around the job situation here.

This past year has been particularly tough and eye opening to me that yes, work is important but you have to have a life balance. I need to have time to see the people I care about before it's too late. When I'm 80 am I going to look back and be like maaan...I wish I had spent more time working and less time with people I love. No. I don't think so.

Last year my uncle passed away from lung cancer, then my boyfriend's mother from the same thing. This year my mother has dealt with breast cancer and had 1 of 2 hip replacement surgeries. My father has health concerns too. I want to spend all the time that I can possibly afford to with them. Maybe that's selfish, but my eyes are open to what really matters.

I want to spend time with my niece and nephew before they're all grown up. I used to see them so much more. I want to see friends. I want us to start our own little family. I definitely want/need to work to live. Not live to work. I just need to find that place. That work life that I can love.

This is so true for me. Also family isn't always blood.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think I have a bad work ethic. When I'm at work...I work, it's just maybe I don't want to spend all of my time at work. Or commuting to and from work. I'm just so confused. I feel like I can't explain it sometimes. I mentally and emotionally have this block that I can't seem to get around. For me I feel like I've always had a hard time with full time, this past year has solidified that for me. Maybe I'm not cut out for full time. Or maybe I just haven't had the right full time job.

I'm getting off track. This isn't supposed to be about my personal work issues. Hamilton as a whole has a lot of employable people who are just killing themselves trying to find something they can call their own.

I can't be the only person dealing with this. Do you live in Hamilton? Do you work in Hamilton? Are you looking for work in Hamilton? Feel free to share your experiences and maybe we can all help each other out!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Food, Glorious Food

Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to visit as many of my local eateries as I was hoping. I am a creature of habit and I tend to go to the same places over and over again. I was, however, able to visit a few new places and it was very exciting. Here is a couple for now. I swear I will try to be more adventurous about where I eat.

The Honest Lawyer

Hooooo boooy. This place is LOUD! I love the chuckie cheese for adults vibe that is happening but unless you are out to party harty this is not the place to go grab a bite. The staff was really friendly and the service was quick but to be honest I ended up switching my meal with my boyfriend because their buffalo chicken wrap burned my soul. I will be the first to admit that I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to spice, BUT I've usually had no problem with buffalo chicken. The Honest Lawyer's buffalo chicken is a whole other story. Was it my fault? Sure, but it still kind of skewed my vision about this place.

Verdict: Great for the early 20 somethings to go and pretend they're still in their teens...but with legal booze.  Also great if you like it hot. You know what I mean ;p

What it felt like to eat a buffalo chicken wrap from The Honest Lawyer.  

Now this place was BEAUTIFUL. Inspired in both decoration and menu by Greece. The patio was truly magical. A view of the lake, fire pits along the patio and twinkle lights hung above our heads. It was so pretty. I just wish the rest of the visit had been so pretty. I was immediately taken aback by the somewhat snobbish attitudes of some of the employees. The hostess was barely tolerating us and her face and demeanor definitely showed it. Our server was only as nice as he had to be and that's saying a lot. 

The food was so, so. I had fish and chips. It was a very large piece of fish but I'd say overall the food was very pub like and rather over priced. The saving grace was the drink menu. Liquor for days. We all ordered fancy drinks and we were all happy with them. I had one called a panda bear. It was delicious. Like an adult milkshake. It was made with amaretto, creme de cacao, chocolate syrup and ice cream. YUM! We were there for an evening dinner and before we were done eating our beautiful atmosphere was interrupted by a dance party that was happening at Barangas. Apparently it becomes a club after hours, which is great for club goers...less so for people looking for a quiet evening. Also got to watch one of the party girls throw up in the parking lot, so that was awesome.

Verdict: Go because it's beautiful. Have a fancy drink, take in the scenery. Leave early. Probably just go eat at hutches instead. 

Our view during dinner. Looks like we're not even in Hamilton.

The patio during day time hours. It's changed a bit now.    photo from: Royal Lepage.

So that's it. That's as far as I've gotten. I also ate at the works but it wasn't my first time so I don't know if I should include it. Probably not. There's nothing bad I can say about it anyways. BURGERS. YUMMY. My sister and I go there on our sister dates sometimes. It's always good and I like the atmosphere. I'd definitely recommend it. 

Hope you're all (is there an all?) enjoying your summer. Still a couple months of patio season left so get out there and eat, maybe I'll see you there! 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Mini Break

Our dear friend mother nature kind of put a kink in my restaurant eating plans. I thought I'd be able to go enjoy some spring patio times but alas madam au natural had other plans. Rainy plans. Rainy, cold plans. Mother nature is definitely a b with an itch if you know what I'm saying. (You know what I'm saying right?) Don't worry there is plenty of summer patio funness to be had and I will keep you updated on all my yummy findings, but for now I would like to share something else that is super great about living in Hamilton. Are you ready? How about now...

It's only 45 minutes away from Toronto! Yay!! Yaaaaay!!

Okay so I haven't always been a huge TDOT fan (like when I was commuting to that unpaid internship) but I have to admit that it definitely has its perks. I recently spent a lovely weekend there with someone special and we partook in some very fun attractions. Seriously if you need a get away this summer but you're short on time I would definitely recommend a quick jot over to the little big city. It really does feel like a get away.

Here are the things we did that I think you should do too!

1) Ripley's Aquarium

This is NOT just for the kiddos. This had me ohhhing and ahhhing along the whole time we were there. It has some really cool fishies and some super scary but wicked sharks (by wicked I mean terrifying but I'm trying to play it cool and pretend that sharks don't scare the poop out of me, I mean I'm a gal who has nightmares about land sharks coming to get me...I'm not a shark fan) and other sea creatures. I touched a crab, a really small shark and a sting ray so I would say it's more than just looking through glass into their underwater worlds. There's tons of info as you go along and also a lot of interactive areas for the wee ones. Trust me, had it been less busy I would've crawled into the see through tunnel to have my picture taken with sharks but as it was there were thousands of small people running amok and I didn't want to be "that guy".

I would advise arriving early or buying your tickets online. We went in the morning and we didn't have to wait but when we left the line up was out the door and around the block so I would definitely plan to make this an early one.

To plan your underwater adventure click HERE.

Dinner recommendation: Sushi ;p

One of my favourite things at the aquarium. SO vibrant.

They look so happy and friendly...not like they could kill you or anything :/

pffft I know it's a robot...I'm cool. I'm cool. Get me awaaay from this thing.

2) Steam Whistle Brewery Tour

This was spontaneous but I'm so glad that we went to check it out. If you're a beer fan you will like this tour. There are three different admission prices. One is the souvenir tour which is $10 at the end of which you receive a bottle opener, the 6-pack tour which is $15 and you get a 6-pack to take with you or the 12-pack tour which is $26 and you get a 12-pack to take with you. All tours also come with a complimentary sample of Steam Whistle Pilsner. We did the 6-pack tour and it was SUCH a great deal! 

We didn't really plan it out so well so we actually ended up having Steam Whistle for lunch. Liquid lunch. We bought a pint while we waited for our tour and were also given a sample. Then we had a can on our tour and another sample after the tour. Let's just say we were slightly impaired by the end and then we both had 6 packs to carry around. Like I said we didn't really plan it out too well but we did have a great time and we learned a lot about Steam Whistle, like how they're the 2nd greenest brewery in North America and they only use 4 ingredients in their beer. I was pretty impressed.

Book your tour or find more info HERE.

Dinner Recommendation: Your Steam Whistle take aways.

REFRESHING!! This picture makes me wish I hadn't finished my 6-pack already.

3) Fort York

This one is cool because it's like walking into the past while still being in the middle of the city. You look in front of you and there is a lodging house from 1812, you look up and there are skyscrapers. It's very strange.

The day we went there was almost nobody else there. It was like a ghost town, which was kind of nice because we got to explore at our leisure. The site holds Canada's largest collection of original war of 1812 buildings and artifacts. There was very little interaction and the tour guide seemed a little bit uncomfortable but all in all I really enjoyed my time there. It was informative and I love history so it was right up my alley. It would be a great place to take the kidlets and have a picnic or something as there is also lots of green space. I'm pretty sure it was only $7 for adults so it would be a fairly priced day out as well.

For events and more information about Fort York click HERE.

Dinner recommendation: Although not close to the Fort I would recommend Johnny Rockets. It's a fun 50's inspired diner. You could go from 1812 to 1950 all in one day. Besides their butter finger milkshake is to die for. Seriously. I dropped mine and tears were almost shed.

An 1812 Soldier Lodging House.

Gats Yo!

There is SO much to do in Toronto and I do intend to go adventuring more this summer as well. Living just a hop, skip and a jump away definitely has its perks, but it's nice at the end of the day, or weekend to come back home to Hamilton where it's a little less congested and there isn't so much of a rush.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Originally I thought this post would be about St. Patrick's Day in Hamilton and where you can go to get your Irish (or Irish for a day) on. And that's still true although it inspired me to go in a different direction. Just in case you were wondering though it appears that all of the bars on Augusta and the Corktown Pub are doing entire weekend celebrations. If by some awesome stroke of luck (like the luck 'O' the Irish) you don't have to work on Monday you can celebrate with a green beer just about anywhere. If you're off you should know that I'm green with envy. See what I did there?

Still want some?

Now onto my new project. Inspired by my new neighbourhood and my friend Amanda and her own 1001 project. One of her goals on her 1001 list is to eat at 29 new restaurants. We tend to frequent the same establishments and order the same dishes so branching out can be difficult. We are creatures of habit. While out on a walk through my new neighbourhood (Near St. Joseph's Hospital in downtown Hamilton) I realized there are probably at least that many bars and restaurants that I've never been to but would like to try. And they're all in walking distance which is great now that the weather is starting to take a turn for the not awful. Also if I'm going to be eating at all of these restaurants I should probably be doing some form of physical activity so walking to and from these places will make me feel better about my life choices. Right?


It mostly started with a trip to the Corktown which is literally right around the corner from me. I had been there once when I was in college and I remembered it being kind of a dive. Crackhead central if you will. So when my friend Keri said she was having her birthday party there I was skeptical. Upon arrival I saw that many renovations had been done and the place is actually super nice. Seemed like a decent crowd as well. I really liked it. Then I was lucky enough to be introduced to the yummiest shawarma in town, from Lulu's. It was SO, so, so, so, SO good! What's next you might ask? I have a small list. I think I will write about them as I go. I am by no means a food critic. I just really enjoy food and atmosphere and all the things that go into making a great establishment. Here's the short list:

So as you can see most of these are either fairly high end, fancy shmancy or...Italian. There isn't much diversity on this list. I'm also a big fan of mom and pop places. I need your help! Please leave some suggestions for your favourite restaurants in the downtown core (what your fave menu item is, why you love this place) and I'll try to visit them and write about them. It can be for more than just the food. If you know of somewhere that has a lot of character and is just a fun, hip atmosphere I want to know that too!

Thanks and Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Reputable...My Aunt Fanny

In the last few months a lot of things in my life have changed. Change of job position, change of address and I finally, FINALLY got my driver's license. Now the only thing I needed to change was my bed.

I have had the same bed since...forever. It was my grandparents bed before that and some great aunt or something or other before that. This bed has seen an age. Every morning when I wake up my body groans in anger at me for subjecting it to yet another moonlit nightmare. This bed needed to go, I've known for quite a few years but I just could never afford it. I kept buying foam mattress toppers to try and ease the pain but nothing really worked.

For Christmas and my birthday (since they are one and the same) quite a few people gave me money, plus the $100 that my grandmother had given me when I moved out to use towards whatever I wanted for my new apartment. I finally had enough to get myself all I had been dreaming of for years. A brand spanking new bed.

On boxing day I saw that The Brick had some great deals and decided to bite the bullet and order a mattress and box spring from their website. I figured that The Brick has been around forever. I'd never really heard anything bad about them so I was pretty excited when I hit that little 'add to cart' button. Little did I know that that was where the happiness and excitement ended and the frustration would begin.

Originally it said that my delivery date would be December 30th but that was subject to change and that a customer service representative would be in contact with me in the next couple of days. Now I'm an understanding person and I know that boxing day was probably very busy for them but The Brick pushed me into rages and frustration I would never have imagined.

They called me on December 29th as I was doing groceries and I was unable to fish my phone out of my purse in time. When I called back 30 seconds later it was busy and continued to be busy for the next five days. I called on every break at work and every spare moment I had. I repeatedly got the message that they were receiving a higher volume of calls and try back later. In this time I also sent two emails which were never responded to. Finally I got through and sat on hold for an hour...and was then hung up on. Rage.

The next day I got through again and after waiting another hour finally spoke to a human. She told me that they had to confirm with security about my credit card because the address on the card and the shipping address were different. Um okay. I ordered half of my Christmas gifts online with zero issues but now there's a problem. Still I understand and am actually glad that they double checked, however I didn't hear from them again for another FOUR days. They wanted to let me know that security cleared me and they could set up a delivery date. "Finally", I thought. "Sweet sleep will be mine, ALL mine."

Well... not just yet.

When I called to set up the delivery date and waited another 45 minutes on hold I was told that there are no dates available (on a weekend as I work full time) until January 18th. I was upset. I have been waiting for this bed for nearly 3 weeks and I just want it. I just want to crawl into a bed that doesn't cause me pain. When I expressed my frustration (politely) the girl on the phone giggled at me. I told her how many times I had called and about the unanswered emails and I asked her if there was a way to make a note that I was extremely displeased with the level of customer service to which she responded, "ya I guess", and laughed again. I thanked her for laughing at me and... SHE LAUGHED AGAIN! At that point I was so livid and flabbergasted at her behaviour that I pretty much just hung up. I realize now I should have asked her name and spoken to her manager but I was very upset.

During the course of our conversation I was also informed that if I wanted the delivery people to take my existing mattress and box spring I would have to pay an additional fee. I decided that I had already given these people too much of my money. When you wait years and years to make a purchase like this and then are treated in this manner it really sours the whole excitement of it. I would have cancelled my order just on pride but I really do need this bed and I couldn't have afforded it without the sale.

To make things (ie. me) even angrier a coworker of mine just bought a bed from The Brick and they are not charging her for delivery OR to take away her other bed, or at least that's what she thinks...I have a feeling based on my experience that those fees will just pop up for her.

Anyways I don't usually use my blog for this kind of thing but I was just so shocked that a place as seemingly reputable as The Brick (of course once I mentioned this to a few people the horror stories about The Brick started flowing) would have such shoddy customer service that I had to share it. Hopefully some other person will read this and go somewhere else. Save yourself the frustration. You'll probably never speak to a human and when you do they will treat you like crap and leave you feeling like garbage. I still can't believe that I was laughed at like that. Ridiculous.

For now I guess I have another ten nights of sleeping on my rock...errr bed.

The mattress and box spring that I will EVENTUALLY have. EVENTUALLY!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

All Apologies

Alright, alright I realize I've been a slackity slacker. I know it's unacceptable. But to be fair I've been kind of busy. Like a lot busy. Let me explain. Here are the top 7 reasons I have sucked as a blogger of late:

1. I got a new job. Actually not a new-new job but a promotion at my old-old job. So I'm now assistant production manager. It's nice. I mean I haven't given up on my PR dreams or anything but it's nice to be able to breathe for a bit and also...get paid for my work. Thanks for nothing internships :P

2. I moved. That's right. I no longer live with my mommy. (Okay truth be told I love my mom more than anything and loved living with her. I had a great time at home, but it was time to go.)

3. I went on vacation. The day after I moved in to my new place my friends and I went on a roadtrip across this great nation of ours all the way to visit another friend in Prince Edward Island. (Thanks Herman!)

We also did ALL things Anne of Green Gables because...I'm obsessed. Seriously. Why do you think I dyed my hair red? Jk, jk...ahem.

Road trippers at Dalvay Beach in PEI.

Mecca. I mean Green Gables. <3

4. I bought a car...that since moving out on my own I will no longer be able to afford so I now have to sell. Also I failed my driver's test. Yep...go me. (Currently practicing my patootie off so I can actually not be a hazard on the roads. Thanks dad! You have the patience of a saint.)

5. I was kinda seeing someone, only not, only kinda, only not again.  Onwards to better people in my life. Come on can't only have these wishy, washy dudes kicking around. (fingers & toes crossed)

Whoa...that's graphic...and extreme.

6. I was in a wedding. One of my oldest and bestest friends married the man of her dreamz. Candace and Andrew tied the knot on September 21st, 2013 and it was a lovely day.

PS. One of my other friends Amanda recently became engaged and has asked me to be in her wedding as well. So much love happening around me! ( many times a bridesmaid, never a bride? CRAP!)

The beautiful bride and her ladies. Thanks for asking me to be part of your day! <3

7. It was summer and then fall and like...I have a life :P

Anyways to my loyal (and few) readers I thank you so much for understanding. I know you know life can just make a better door than a window sometimes.

So what happens now? I suppose I will start being a better blogger. Hamilton has lots going on that I can focus on. I mean...I know we're no Toronto and our Mayor hasn't brought us world wide headlines but we're still pretty awesome. Actually maybe more awesome since our Mayor  is presumably NOT a crackhead.

Nuff said.

Hamstown in finter (that weird time between fall and winter)(TM) is very pretty and you can feel the excitement all around as the population prepares for Christmas and other winter celebrations. Something has happened to me guys...I think I have somehow found a bit of Christmas spirit this year.

It is November 9th and I have already had my apartment decorated for the season for over a week. Who am I? I am supposed to be all Grinchly. I blame the kids. Those sweet, loving, adorable children in my life who make me feel all warm and gross with this yuletide glow. Yuck.

 Look at these faces. They make me believe in Santa...well you get what I mean.

Not to worry I'm sure it will wear off soon. A person can only take so many malls playing Christmas music before they snap. Snapity, snaps a lot.

I feel like I've gotten off track somewhere. All I was trying to say is that there's stuff coming up in the city that I'll most likely attend and write about. So look for it. Stay tuned. Check back. Same Tamara time, same Tamara channel. (Okay that didn't really work but I'm gonna leave it because I love batman.)

Hope you're out there enjoying all that Hamilton has to offer on this lovely, crisp finter(TM) day.

Finter. Is it fall? Is it winter? What do I wear? I'm so confused.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Big Sips And Tall Ships

I think I have finally relaxed after my crazy weekend. Not only was it Canada Day weekend but it was also the weekend that Hamilton's pier 8 was taken over by some of the tallest ships in the world, and I got to be a part of it all!

Okay, truth... I wasn't so much "a part of it" as I was selling tickets for it, but still you get the picture. It was a great event and something completely different. There were 5 ships from all over the place, including the biggest one, Sorlandet, which hailed from Norway. It is the oldest full rigged ship still in operation...IN THE WORLD!

Liana's Ransom sailing out for a cruise.

The event was long, hot and so very busy. Who knew that so many Hamiltonians were shippers. Although thanks to the heat I did have to deal with some fairly miserable people but I wouldn't have traded the weather considering it was supposed to rain the entire weekend. Thank goodness that didn't happen and for the most part people seemed to be loving the ship out of this event! (See what I did there?) Unfortunately the opening night musical entertainment was cancelled due to the forecast but the rest of the weekend was beautiful. Almost as beautiful as the ships themselves.

Some of my work friends.

I was privileged enough to work right in front of the tall beauties. Not a bad view if I do say so myself. I only wish I had been able to go on one of the deck tours that I was selling tickets for. Unfortunately I was selling tickets before they opened and until they closed so that didn't happen. I'll make sure I do if they ever come back. I would love to step foot on a piece of history like that. It's a little bit sad when you think that ships like this used to be the norm on the waterways and now there are so few that huge events are held just to see them.

This was taken from my work station. Not too shabby eh.

The tall ships were here as part of Hamilton's 1812 Bicentennial celebrations and I think it's safe to say that this is an event that should become annual.

(A great little video posted on YouTube by pier8group)

After the insane whirlwind that was working at the tall ship event I was so exhausted that even forming sentences seemed difficult but I am a solid patriot and so of course on holiday Monday I had my friends and family over for a delightful Canada Day BBQ and beer party. This has become somewhat of an annual event and I am glad that it has. I persevered through the day of drinking and eating but alas was far too tired to go watch fireworks. I was in bed before I even heard any go off. Me thinks I'm getting too old to burn the candle at both ends anymore.

Some of my friends on Canada Day 2013. Red & White REPRESENT!!

I hope all my Canadian readers (do I have readers?) enjoyed your weekend, eh! And if you get a chance to go see the tall ships at another port or, if fingers crossed, they return to Hamilton's harbour I would suggest you go. It is truly an incredible sight.