Toronto’s TV Audience Member Tour 2014 (Part 3)

It was my last day of my TV Audience Member Tour and I was heading back to the CBC studio to see the Steven and Chris show.  Their studio is right next door to George’s Stroumboulopoulos‘s studio.  And unfortunately, Steven was at home sick that day so it was just Chris that was manning the show.

Steven and Chris set at the CBC studio.

Steven and Chris set at the CBC studio.

I have to be honest, after 3 shows under my belt in two days, I was starting to get a little tired of the sitting and smiling and being on my best behaviour with the cameras around, taping me at any possible moment.  Steven and Chris is pre-taped so there is down time between each set whereas a live show is finished within the hour.  So these pre-taped shows can drag out.  As audience members, we have to do a string of shots with all different types of emotion…from the standard light clapping with a smile to the all-out whoop-it-up-hollering-and-screaming-jumping-out-of-your-seat type clapping and cheering.

Selfie at the Steven and Chris show.

Selfie at the Steven and Chris show.

Me and Chris.  Yep, looks like an optional replacement if Steve were to ever leave ;)

Me and Chris. Yep, looks like an optional replacement if Steven were to ever leave ;)

My free gifts at the end of the show.

My free gifts at the end of the taping of Steven and Chris.

I’ll admit it, I’m a freebie whore.  So when they announced that because of the current snow storm outside there was not enough audience members to fill the studio for the taping of another episode of Steven and Chris, I offered up my body.  So, I again hurried back to the hotel, dropped off my gifts from the first show and hurried back to get in line for the second one with no time to grab a snack. Fortunately, it pays to stash away hotel and airline snacks in one’s purse.  It was my saving grace from a near fainting-due-to-hunger episode.

The chocolate bar that was one of my freebies from my attendance at The Social.

The chocolate bar that was one of my freebies from my attendance at The Social yesterday.

A Renaissance Hotel chocolate from my hotel room.

A Renaissance Hotel chocolate from my hotel room.

And of course, a package of butter-flavoured pretzels, courtesy of Air Canada.

And of course, a package of butter-flavoured pretzels, courtesy of Air Canada.

Another lineup.  More waiting.

Another lineup. More waiting.

The second taping entailed more clapping (my hands were sore by now), sitting and smiling with my attempted permanent smile starting to crack.  After five shows, my body was telling me ENOUGH!  But at the end of the second show, they announced that because of the snow storm, George Stroumboulopoulos was short audience members so if we wanted to, we could head over right next door for his TV show taping.  And believe it or not, there was a moment that I actually considered it until my weary, unfed body mustered up the energy to kick my butt out of the studio and into the falling snow.

Fun nail accessories that I got for attending the second taping of the Steven and Chris show that day.

Fun nail accessories that I got for attending the second taping of the Steven and Chris show that day.

Had to stop at Fresh on Spadina again.  Yes, it's that good!  This time I had their mushroom, onion burger, minus the bun.  Delish!

Had to stop at Fresh on Spadina again. Yes, it’s that good! This time I had their mushroom, onion burger, minus the bun. Delish!

The TV Audience Member 2014 Tour was fun.  I recommend if you can only attend one show, I would go for a live show. If you can attend five, well, you apparently love the freebies like I do!  But it’s a cheap, fun form of entertainment.  I actually joke that I increased our family asset value with all the gifts I got.  Fun times and I would do it again!

Related Articles:
Toronto TV Audience Member Tour 2014 (Part 1) (westcoastprairiegirl.com)

Toronto’s TV Audience Member Tour 2014 (Part 2)

Day Two of my TV Audience Member Tour took me to the CTV studio in downtown Toronto.  As mentioned, the Renaissance Hotel that we stayed at was the perfect location.  Both the CTV and CBC studios were within walking distance from the hotel.

Waiting at Starbucks across the street from CTV Studio for the doors to open at 9am.

Waiting at Starbucks across the street from CTV Studio for the doors to open at 9am.

Once checking in, they give you a ticket for your audience member gift that you collect at the end of the taping and direct you to the coat check and waiting area.

Once checking in, they give you a ticket for your audience member gift that you collect at the end of the taping and direct you to the coat check and waiting area.

Selfie at the Marilyn Denis Show.

Selfie at the Marilyn Denis Show.

With music pumping, the audience coordinator gets us hyped up as he goes through what to expect and what is required of us. After all, the Marilyn Denis Show is a live show and there is no room for errors or delays.

I still found time before we went live to "play host".

I still found time before we went live to “play host”.  I match the decor!

A screen shot of the show.  See me in front row!  They tell audience to wear bright, jewel-coloured clothing.  I think my bright yellow sweater helped me get this top spot because the coordinator hand-selects where everyone will sit.

A screen shot of the show. See me in the front row! They tell audience members to wear bright, jewel-coloured clothing. I think my bright yellow sweater helped me get this top spot because the coordinator hand-selects where everyone will sit.

Show was amazingly fun! You can watch the show by clicking here and selecting the February 4, 2014 episode  In comparing it with George Stoumboulopoulos’s show, a live show has this energy that a pre-taped show doesn’t.  And the show had interesting segments, including chef and judge from “MasterChef Canada”, Michael Bonacini.  But even more exciting was that the audience coordinator told us prior to the show that we were going to be attending a good one, with gifts during every segment.  Woohoo!  I love freebies!

And I was blown away with what I got…a digital slower cooker, remote-controlled heated insoles, ice wine, tickets for two for a tour at a local ice winery and a cute, locally made hockey stick toque!

They had a photo-op at the end of the show.  Doesn't it look like it's Marilyn's favourite part of her day :)

They had a photo-op at the end of the show. Doesn’t it look like it’s Marilyn’s favourite part of her day :)

I had a blast!  And when they announced that The Social (a CTV show similar to the American show The View) was needing a few audience members for their taping today as some people had cancelled, I jumped at the chance.  At the end of Marilyn’s taping, I grabbed by gifts and hailed a cab as my arms were too full to carry my loot back to the hotel.  Dropped everything off in my room and hurried back in my heeled boots through the snow that was continuing to fall.  I made a quick stop at a coffee shop and grabbed an energy bar seeing as my lunch was going to be delayed with this added show to my agenda.

The Social is also taped live but the cool thing about it is that they allow you take pictures and partake in social media DURING the show!  All other shows, phones, camera, etc had to be turned off.  So it was fun to tweet and photo-take throughout the show.

The Social's Audience Coordinator giving us the low down.

The Social’s Audience Coordinator giving us the low down.

Last minute opportunity to throw our gum in the garbage because no matter how good you think you can make chewing gum look good, you can't.

Last minute opportunity to throw our gum in the garbage because no matter how good you think you can make chewing gum look good, you can’t.

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Armando thinks that I look like the host and they are my guests...must be the whole height thing!  Why is everyone so short on TV?  I seem to hover over everyone.

Armando thinks that I look like the host and they are my fans..must be the whole height thing! Why is everyone so short on TV? I seem to hover over everyone.

This is my loot for the day from the Marilyn Show and I also got a drink tumbler, an ebook and a skinny cow chocolate bar from The Social.  Not bad!

This is my loot for the day from the Marilyn Show and I also got a drink tumbler, an ebook and a skinny cow chocolate bar from The Social. Not bad!

Starving, I finally got out of the studio around 2:30pm and heading for an amazing vegetarian restaurant that I would highly recommend called Fresh.  Well worth the wait!

Tangled Thai with Crispy Tofu Cubes at Fresh on Spadina in Toronto.

Tangled Thai with Crispy Tofu Cubes at Fresh on Spadina in Toronto.

Stay tuned for the last day of the my TV Audience Member Tour 2014…

Related Articles:
Toronto TV Audience Member Tour 2014 (Part 1) (westcoastprairiegirl.com)

 

Armando Meets the Cadbury Creme Egg

Cadbury Creme Egg Armando and I were driving yesterday when I saw a sign at McDonald’s advertising a Creme Egg McFlurry.  I made a comment about it and Armando asked me what a creme egg is.

Me:  You don’t know what a Cadbury Creme Egg is?
Armando:  No.
Me:  Seriously, the Cadbury Creme Egg that is a staple chocolate for Easter?
Armando:  Umm, nope.
Me:  You must know what it is.  I’m sure once you see it, you will know what I’m talking about.
Armando:  I don’t think so.  Where do you get them?
Me:  Where do you get them?!  Like, they are everywhere!
(I start thinking that maybe they are known by a different name in Mexico, as is often the case with things so I pull up pictures of Cadbury Creme Eggs on my phone.)
Me:  See…these are Cadbury Creme Eggs (I show him pictures of wrapped ones and ones cut open to show their yolky yellow and white centres).
Armando:  Ewwww.
Me:  Yeah, I guess it does look kinda gross.  But you have to try one.  I grew up with these.  I don’t really like them but it’s an Easter thing.  I’ll buy you one.

Cadbury Creme EggI buy him one and he cuts it open.  His reaction….”Eww.  These are gross (looking).”  After taking a bite…”These are too sweet.”  But, he ate it all before I had a chance to take a bite as he starts telling me of an Easter tradition in Mexico.

“All the kids take real eggs a week before Easter, empty them and let them dry.  The eggs are then filled with confetti and different faces and things are drawn on the eggs.  Then the kids take them to school and they smash the eggs on top of each other’s heads.”  Umm, okay.  Can’t say we do that in Canada.

Definitely different Easter traditions.  Happy Easter everyone, no matter how you celebrate it!

How Ugly Cupcakes Taught Me About Data Plans

Who knew that some ugly cupcakes would give me a lesson on cell phone data plans.

Cupcake MixIt all started with a box of cupcake mix.  I know, I hate to even admit I used a mix but for whatever reason, I had this box sitting in my cupboard so I decided to make them last night while Armando was in Veracruz, Mexico for a quick weekend trip to visit family.  My girlfriends were coming over for a girls-night-in on Saturday so it seemed like the perfect time to make them so I would have help eating them.

They turned out to be ugly cupcakes.  My ability to pipe the icing on the cupcakes was not at the same level as the contestants on the Food Network‘s Cupcake Wars (Love that channel!).  How do they make it look so easy?!  Mine looked like, well, a place where a dog came along and thought it was a perfect place to do his business.  I know, gross.  But that is truly what they looked like.  They tasted okay though.  I think I would get points lost for presentation but for taste…oh, who am I kidding…they tasted like cupcakes that came from a box. But, I must say that my homemade icing wasn’t half bad.

Anyways, I decided to share my Friday night activity with Armando.  Baking on a Friday night…living on the wild side!  *sigh*  I snapped a picture of the cupcakes and sent it in a text to him.

A while later, I received an emoticon of an angry red face and a red face of the devil.  Whoa Nelly!!  I thought Armando didn’t like cupcakes.  Was he actually mad that I made cupcakes while he was away?  Nope, it was worse.

Armando added a package to his cell phone plan this weekend so we could talk and text a bit more than we are normally able to on his regular plan when he is in Mexico.  Sweet gesture, I know.  But apparently sending a photo via text when one is not on wifi, will use up a lot of their data trying to download the photo.  We just have to ignore the simple question of why one had his data plan on in the first place.  First rule of travelling out-of-country, never have your data plan on unless needed for an emergency.  And we have to ignore the fact that one sent photos via text earlier which would have me assume that it was okay for me to send photos via text as well.  But assumptions never end well.

Long story short, the attempted download of the photo used up all the data plan Armando had and was starting to charge him $10 for every MB needed to download the picture of the ugly cupcakes.  Thankfully, the phone company stopped the transmission so it wouldn’t go over $90.

So, we are now $90 poorer and the photo never did completely download for Armando to see it.  And the plan is used up so we can’t talk nor text for the rest of the weekend, unless he’s on wifi.

Lesson learned from all of this?  Buy cupcakes from the professionals.

The picture of my ugly cupcakes that cost us $90.

The picture of my ugly cupcakes that cost us $90.

Raw Beef and Swarovski Crystals At The Sparkling Hill Resort

Ahhhh….what a weekend.  Here’s a photo blog of Armando’s birthday weekend that we spent in the Okanagan at the Sparkling Hills Resort:

Always the challenge of getting Armando to “unplug”; not even an amazing view could pull him away from being on his phone when we first arrived:

Quail's Gate Winery  Kelowna, BC

Quail’s Gate Winery Kelowna, BC

Okay, so maybe the Infinity Pool and a coffee made him forget about technology for a moment:

Infinity Pool at The Sparkling Hill Resort Vernon, BC

Infinity Pool at The Sparkling Hill Resort Vernon, BC

The Sparkling Hill Resort has 3.5 million Swarovski crystals incorporated into the architecture of the resort, including this crystal light in our room:

Swarovski Crystals in our hotel room at The Sparkling Hill Resort Vernon, BC

Swarovski Crystals in our hotel room at The Sparkling Hill Resort Vernon, BC

It was truly a relaxing, de-stressing weekend spent in bath robes as we enjoyed the multitude of saunas and steam rooms that were complimentary during our stay.  We also enjoyed this indoor pool that played music underwater and has starry lights in the ceiling:

Indoor Pool at The Sparkling Hill Resort Vernon, BC

Indoor Pool at The Sparkling Hill Resort Vernon, BC

It was such a beautiful, sunny weekend that we couldn’t help but take advantage of the many hiking trails at the resort to help with the guilt of all the eating we were doing:

Hiking around The Sparkling Hill Resort

Hiking around The Sparkling Hill Resort

And to help balance all the wine we were drinking, we took some time to grab a tea and fruit water as we relaxed in the Tea Room:

Tea Room at The Sparkling Hill Resort

Tea Room at The Sparkling Hill Resort

Veal Tenderloin Tartar at Peakfine Restaurant at The Sparkling Hill Resort

Veal Tenderloin Tartar at Peakfine Restaurant at The Sparkling Hill Resort

I was on a roll with challenging myself this weekend and completed a trifecta with a little culinary challenge.  During dinner, Armando was excited to see Veal Tenderloin Tartar on the menu…AKA raw ground beef topped off with a raw quail yoke (insert gagging sound  here).   I guess I was feeling especially adventurous after conquering my fear of the Trans-Canada and hanging out in -110 degree celsius in a bathing suit so far this weekend that I thought, “Hell, why not?”  So, I took the smallest of the small pieces, took a few deep breaths, contorted my face in a predetermined look of disgust as I put the fork in my mouth as my other hand was already making its way to my water glass to drown the taste.  But my hand stopped, my face went neutral and my eyes displayed a look of confusion.  Armando asked me what I thought.  I didn’t want to answer.  I must not have taken a big enough piece to give me the confirmation that it was going to taste disgusting.  So I took a slightly larger fork-full.  Nope, I needed a larger piece, one more bite.  Argh!  What was wrong here?  This was not supposed to taste good.  But it did.  But mind won out over flavour because red meat, especially ground beef, should be cooked in my mind. Armando ate the rest.  But I tried it!

What a weekend!  Nothing better for the mind, body and spirit than a weekend away with the one you love!  Happy Birthday, Armando!!

The hotel made sure to wish Armando a Happy Birthday whenever they could!

The hotel made sure to wish Armando a Happy Birthday whenever they could!

Mexican Snack Food

I am a huge popcorn lover, as many close friends and family can attest to.  And a recent article in the Toronto Sun reported on some research that states that popcorn is good for you.  After doing my dance of joy to the Popcorn Gods, I made myself an air-popped bowl of those healthy morsels.  Yes, the butter and salt added probably canceled out the health benefits but hey, it was a day of celebration and I wanted to treat myself.  And it got me thinking of how Armando eats popcorn because it’s not with salt and butter.  In fact, Armando’s snack foods often have a bit of a Mexican spin to them and I thought I would share some of them with you here.

Although not much of a late-night snacker, he will grab some of these every now and then:

Popcorn with lime juice and hot sauce

Peanuts with lime juice and chill powder

Cut up raw hot dogs with lime juice and hot sauce (this one gets a big “EWW” from me).

Do you see a theme here?

Ham with melted cheese on it (the heart just skips a beat on that one! But, I must admit, it tastes pretty darn good; it’s like a quesadilla without the carb-filled tortilla).

Kitkat bars (I have no idea where this one come from because he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, and fortunately he doesn’t put a Mexican spin to this one.  Imagine…lime juice with Kitkat bars?!).

Since I’ve outed him on his favourite snacks in Canada, I guess it’s only fair that I share my favourite Mexican snacks, minus a Canadian spin to them (What would a Canadian spin even be?  Add maple syrup ??):

Papitas – street vendor potato chips.  Think of potato chips in a bag but on steroids…extra large deep-fried potato slices with fresh squeezed lime juice and salt.

 

 

 

Tacos el Pastor – pork tacos with cilantro, pineapple, onion and salsa (best eaten as a late night snack from a taqueria).  In fact, I really wanted to have them at our wedding this past December and although it’s considered ‘street vendor food’, we got them and they were a hit!

 

Pays de Queso – Yes, it’s a Mexican McDonald’s secret – remember their deep-fried pies?  Well, Mexico still has them and they have one with a filling that’s kind of like a sweet cream cheese.  Unfortunately, a trip to Mexico now always requires a stop at a local McDonalds for these “heart attacks in a box”.

 

Do you have any weird or unusual snacks that you enjoy?

Valentine’s Day Disaster

I had good intentions.  But it all went terribly wrong.

After Armando gave me my amazing birthday surprise on Monday, I wanted to do a thoughtful gesture in return and what better way to do that than to make him a 5-course Valentine’s Day Dinner the next day.  He was travelling with work and would be home on the 14th around 8pm so it was perfect.

I did my research, found some recipes and went shopping for all the ingredients.  Then, for five non-stop hours, I cooked, cleaned and prepared all the dishes so they would be ready in time for his arrival.

He was excited for the meal and with each course, I could see him getting more full but was forcing himself to eat everything as he knew how much effort went into the meal.  He seemed to enjoy his Valentine’s Day surprise that is, until 2am that night.

I was awoken to him stirring in bed.  Restless.  I asked if he was okay and he said no, that he thinks he ate too much and that he wasn’t feeling well.  It couldn’t possibly be that he ate too much as the portions were small and I ate the same amount, if not more.  He described his symptoms and it sounded like heartburn.  I googled what to do because we had no medicine for that and it said to sleep with your head raised.  As soon as he did that, he felt better.  But only for a moment.  Within a couple of minutes, he was running to the bathroom, sick!  Maybe he did eat too much?  Did I over stuff him?

That was the conclusion that we arrived at until I got sick a few hours later.  No, I didn’t over stuff him.  I poisoned him!  All the symptoms we got all day pointed to food poisoning.  I felt like I was dying and I felt so sad and guilty that my surprise gift had not quite turned out as planned and that it was my fault that my hubby was sick too.  Worst gift ever!  The only positive spin I can see out of this is that I am sure to be guaranteed to be taken out for Valentine’s Day dinner next year!