Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

For those of you that don’t know me very well (or at all for that matter), you probably aren’t aware that I HATE having long hair. Seriously. It sheds everywhere, it gets tangled in elastics, I go through so much shampoo and conditioner — It is just not worth it! So why on earth is my hair so long at the moment? Well about two years ago I decided that I was going to grow it out so that I could donate it to an organization that makes wigs for people living with cancer. I don’t donate blood, so I thought, why not donate my hair? This actually isn’t the first time I have donated it either. I went for the chop exactly 6 years ago, so I knew what I was getting myself into the second time ’round.

The truth is, I actually started growing my hair as I was just too lazy (and maybe too cheap?) to get it cut. When you have short hair, you tend to have to get more frequent cuts to maintain the style. As soon as I let my hair reach the pivotal shoulder length, I decided why not just grow it a little longer and do something good with it? Having long hair wasn’t completely terrible though. I did enjoy curling it and putting it into a side braid (neither of which I could really do with a short mop).

There are several organizations in Canada that accept hair donations to make wigs for people living with cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society actually has a website that details the various organizations accepting donations and how to prepare your hair for the big chop. I decided to use the same organization I used 6 years ago — Angel Hair for Kids. The program is part of a Child’s Voice Foundation and provides wigs at no cost to financially disadvantaged children who have lost their hair due to conditions such as cancer treatments, alopecia and even burns. It is pretty simple to donate your hair, however, there are a couple of steps you need to follow. First, your hair cannot be permanently dyed or chemically treated. Second, the hair donation needs to be a minimum length of 12″. Some organizations allow anywhere between 6″ – 12″, so you should check their specifications first if you are considering to donate. If your hair donation meets the requirements outlined above, you can either simply mail your hair directly to the organization, or drop it off in person.  Once your hair is received, you will potentially receive a lovely little certificate like the one I got back in 2007 (see below).

For my big cut, I decided to go to West Salon & Spa located in West Queen West. I have been going there for several years and have always had a pleasant experience and a great cut. Arden was my hair stylist and he was super excited about the dramatic chop. It’s funny, I remember when I went to cut my hair for the last donation and how scared the stylist was in doing such a substantial cut. I guess she was nervous that I would look terrible with short hair. I remember having to reassure her that I normally have shorter hair and it looks good (or at least I think so). With Arden, there was definitely no fear or second guesses. He was up to the challenge and determined to give me a sleek and stylish bob.

The first step of the cut was obviously the big CHOP. I placed my hair in a ponytail for where I wanted to have my hair cut, and then Arden cut just above the elastic to keep all of the hair neatly together. That first cut was SO liberating. I actually felt the weight lifted off of my shoulders. Who knew that losing that 12″ of hair (or actually 13″ as I measured it when I got home) could feel so good. It also felt so weird to physically hold the hair in my hands after it was cut off. What feels like so much hair on your head is actually not much hair at all when just placed in a ponytail.  I completely understand now why it takes anywhere between 8-12 donated ponytails to make just one wig.

The second step of the cut was adding a little colour! I wasn’t planning on doing anything dramatic with the colour, as I more or less still wanted to keep it a dark brown. I just wanted something more ‘rich’, and let’s be honest – something to cover up the greys! I also hadn’t coloured my hair in years, so I wanted to give myself a little treat. Arden whipped up some colour, applied it, and then placed me under a heat dryer for about 25 minutes or so. The anticipation was killing me.

Now it was time for business – refining the cut to give me a nice, new, sleek look. While Arden was all chit-chatty during the initial cut and dying process, he was all serious and concentrated when getting into the finer details of the bob.  This was totally cool with me as it allowed me more time to get caught up on my trashy magazines. After what felt like sitting forever in the chair (mainly because I was super eager to see my new ‘do), Arden was finally pleased with his masterpiece and took some pics of me checking out my completed look for the first time.

first look in the mirror

Needless to say, I was very pleased with the cut (hence the silly glamour shots I took below). It was a great experience, and I am hopeful that my hair donation will help improve the self-esteem and self-image of a child who has lost their hair due to a medical condition or treatment. If you are interested in donating your hair or supporting any of the foundations that produce wigs for people living with cancer, please visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s web page that details all of this information.

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Farewell to Summer Pt. 3 – The CNE

Summer is not complete without a trip – or multiple trips – to The EX (AKA The Canadian National Exhibition or The CNE). The exhibition opens 18 days prior to Labour Day, and in my opinion, is the unofficial countdown to the end of summer. Just under 1.5 million visitors flock to the CNE grounds each year, making it the largest fair in Canada and the 7th largest in North America. As much as the CNE evolves year-over-year, I still find it does a great job of going back to it’s roots of promoting agriculture, manufacturing and the arts. Walking through the grounds is a spectacle in itself, but as you make your way through the various buildings – you do feel a sense of history of what was there before. Aw. Look at me getting all nostalgic!

FOOD

There is no doubt in my mind that the food at the CNE garners a lot of attention from visitors wanting to taste the latest and most bizarre fair food. Every year there seems to be some new marvel of culinary genius (although, some may want to argue with the use of that word) that makes its appearance at the fair. Whether it’s the deep fried butter, the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger or the Nutella fries, the CNE offers quite a selection of random food concoctions. However, patrons do need to be wary about the food they put in their mouths at the fair. As we’ve seen with the infamous scandal of the ridiculously high-calorie-count Cronut Burger, the quality standards at some vendors are seriously lacking. But honestly, a Cronut Burger? Do you think you could walk away from eating something like that unscathed?!

This year the EX introduced Food Truck Frenzy – one of Canada’s largest food truck rallies. As soon as you walked through the Princes’ Gates, you were hit with a strip of Food Trucks selling anything and everything from frozen yogurt, to tacos, to churros. This year, I felt it would be more ‘safe’ to eat at one of the food trucks vs. eating in the food building (that Cronut Burger scandal really petrified me!). Based on a friend’s highly enthusiastic review, I decided to try the Pad Thai fries from Fidel Gastro’s. Looking at the picture above right now, my mouth is starting to drool and my belly is starting to rumble. These fries were quite tasty and gone within minutes. Not the healthiest dinner choice, but definitely one of the tastiest.

ENTERTAINMENT

The CNE has tons of things going on that some people may not even realize. You can spend an entire day there and not run out of things to do. Just walking through on a Sunday night I was able to catch the amazing Flying Wallendas, contestants battling it out in the Rising Star Talent Competition, and a performance at Bandshell Stage by Dragonette.

ART(ish)

Now, what is an exhibition without a butter sculpting contest? Not a very good one in my humble opinion. And this year’s creations did not disappoint! The butter sculpting display found in the farm building featured an array of fantastic sculptures by students from the college of art and design.

Another one of my favourite things to check out at the EX is the sand sculpting contest. I am always amazed at the level of detail that goes into these sand sculptures. The artists only have 6 days to create these sculptures which is a feat in itself when you are working with 10 tons of sand. Truly incredible.

THE RIDES

I think people who ride carnival rides are the bravest of the brave (and maybe the most crazy?) people in the world. The fact that these rides are put up in a matter of days just baffles me. While I haven’t heard about a major ride catastrophe in a really long time at the EX, you will never see me up on the Zipper. But what a sight these rides are – especially at night. Merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, swings – they light up the sky and it really is something spectacular to see. I didn’t go on any rides this year (possibly due to the fact that I was chicken, they were expensive and the ticket lines were too long), but I did manage to snap some great pics. Take a look below!

THE SIGHTS

I find the CNE to be a very magical place to visit. The sights of the crowds, the games, the food, the rides – it’s just fantastic how they all come together to make this place such an experience. There is still this weekend to take everything in, so if you haven’t ventured out there already – be brave, face the crowds, check out the air show and say your farewells to summer!

Farewell to Summer Pt. 2 – Fan Expo

Expo North BuildingAs previously mentioned in my last blog post, Fall is quickly approaching, but that doesn’t mean Summer can’t have one last hurrah! Toronto was definitely the place to be this past weekend — and I have the dark circles under my eyes to prove it! Between BuskerFest, Fan Expo, a friend’s wedding (don’t worry, I won’t be blogging about that) and The CNE, I was barely home this weekend and definitely need another weekend to recuperate (and hey, what do you know? It’s a long weekend tomorrow! Yippee!).

Now you may be thinking, Fan Expo, isn’t that the convention where people who are really into comics, gaming and science fiction get all dressed up as random characters you have never heard of and geek out over video games, movies and comic books? Well yes, you would be correct. However, Fan Expo is really more than that. What started out as a Comic Book Expo about 19 years ago has now turned into a pop culture phenomenon attracting over 90,000 fans over a 4-day period. It is also the 3rd largest pop culture event in North America (I am going to guess the other two are Comic Con San Diego and Comic Con New York, but don’t quote me on that!).

What I love about Fan Expo, and pop-culture events in general, is that there is something for everyone. You don’t have to be a die-hard fan of Star Wars or Steampunk to have a great time at the event (and don’t worry if you don’t know what Steampunk is, I just learned about it a couple of months ago). If you are into any sort of television series, toys, gaming (digital and traditional – like board gaming), art, fashion (more in the costume sense, but hey – it is still fashion) – I’m sure there is something there for you.

A lot of organizations have really jumped on board over the years to promote their products or properties at the event, and since I’m a sucker for green screens, I just had to take my picture at all of the corporate booths. I mean, who doesn’t want to be in a picture with Henry Cavill? Or, sitting with Hobbit Lego creations? It’s a nice little free souvenir from the event, because most likely you will end up spending all of the money you came in with because there is SO much awesome stuff to buy.

Speaking of cool stuff to buy, the Cyanide & Happiness booth definitely got my attention, although, I didn’t actually buy anything as I wasn’t patient enough to wait in the line. At this booth, you could buy one-of-a-kind plush toys, comics, posters – you name it – which were all really cool, but it was the bonus original art you received from purchasing their products that made it so special. From what I could tell (it was hard to get close because there were so many people in line), there were 3 artists sitting at the booth that would create original designs for customers. Each customer would pick random words or phrases out of a box, and the artists would then draw something reflective of the words that were selected. Some of the art seemed pretty wild and out there which made it so much more amusing and definitely unique.

Even though there was so much to see and do at the event, the big draw for me is viewing all of the costumes people create. A lot of the costumes are hand-made and just incredible to see (especially so many all at once). I’m a huge fan of dress-up, and I regret not having a costume for this event. Maybe next year I will give myself ample time to put something together because, seriously, this event is like Halloween on steroids! Honesty though, I didn’t really know what half the people were dressed up as, but it kind of made it more fun, or at least, more of a mystery.

If you are skeptical about attending Fan Expo in the future because you don’t quite think it’s your scene…think again! As I stated earlier, there is definitely something there for everyone.