Joining a Studio Audience : The Marilyn Denis Show


You may recall that my friend Julie and I were part of the studio audience for the program Cityline earlier this year (written about in this post). It was a lot of fun and we were given some very nice gifts to boot, with Julie winning the grand prize of an awesome Canon camera and accessories package. We would have enjoyed the experience even without the gifts, though.

So, we did it again last week, after Julie got us tickets to join the audience for the taping of The Marilyn Denis Show.

The way it works is you apply for tickets (which are free) by filling in an application and giving them three different days that you’d be able to attend. Then, because more people apply to join than can be accommodated, your name is put into a raffle to determine who gets to participate. Julie was offered two tickets for the program that was filmed a week ago Thursday, but we were sworn to secrecy about what went on at the show, because it wasn’t airing until the following Thursday (which was yesterday).



We arrived at the beautiful historic building where the CTV studios are at 9:30 am, where we were asked to complete a form allowing them to show us on television. Then a fellow walked us through what would happen during the taping, and who the guests were for the episode. He also told us about all the smiling, clapping and cheering we would be doing.

Then, they walked us into the beautifully decorated studio in groups of ten or so at a time. Julie and I were part of the first group to be seated so we got a good chance to look around and watch all the goings on, as a flurry of technicians got everything ready to go. Some helpers offered to take photos of people in the audience, which is how the top picture in this post came about.

There was a table set up on stage, with a tray of things to make a cocktails with.







Filming began with the welcoming the host, Marilyn Denis. She quickly introduced her first guest, Debbie Travis, who was going to make some drinks. After a brief chat, she got down to it, only to discover the small bottle of champagne she was going to use was empty, so she turned to ask for another one. That’s when a doorway suddenly opened, and with much fanfare, a dancing elf and christmas tree and a huge prop of a bottle of bubbly that was a confetti cannon, were revealed. Some people in the audience, including Julie, recognized what was going on — we were part of a lucky audience who would be winning 10 prizes, as part of their “10 Days of Giveaways” feature, which they do around Christmastime. We were there for day one of it, with the remaining nine days to be held randomly between that day and the end of December.



^ The camera caught Julie filling me in. ^


They commenced to bring package after package onto the stage for unveiling, to a gleefully cheering audience.

Everything was selected by Debbie Travis. They posted photographs of all the great stuff we got, which amounted to a value of over $1,900, on their site here.)


We were each given:
– A Vitamix Blender (this one, which might be the best blender known to mankind, coming in at $730 retail. We don’t have a blender, so Nick was quite thrilled about that.)
– A copy of Jamie Oliver’s new book, Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook.
– A gift certificate for a monogrammed marble cutting/serving board (this one) at Williams-Sanoma.
– A really nice pepper mill and some gourmet black pepper, from Drom. (If you’re in the market for a pepper mill, it is a good one, indeed.)
– Two “Try the World, Culinary Culture” boxes – Each box contains authentic ingredients from another country to bring you a unique dining experience right at home. We got Italy and Japan boxes. They were fun, and in the case of the huge pickled radish in the Japan box, funny, to open and discover all the neat ingredients and gadgets that were in them.
– A silver bracelet by Links of London, called The Sweetie XS Bracelet.
– A $500 voucher to take the train anywhere Via Rail goes, anytime during 2017. (Hello Montreal … here we come!)
– A $100 gift certificate for Bentley Luggage.
– A gorgeous electric throw blanket by Sunbeam (like this one but with a grey print). This will certainly make those Netflix watching sessions nice and cozy! I think I’ll be busting it out tonight.

Following the 15 or so continuous minutes of generous gift giving, we settled down to watch the rest of the program, which included Charles the Butler giving tips on entertaining at home over the holidays and a look at his beautiful new home. There was also a segment on atypical Christmas decorating, hosted by interior designer Glen Peloso. And then there were the promised cocktail recipes, with Debbie Travis mixing us some delicious sounding drinks, and Marilyn, Charles and Glen being the taste-testers.

During commercial breaks audience members were given their gift cards and Via Rail voucher, and a bracelet that we were to take to their gift depot for our huge bag of things plus the box with the Vitamix.



The taping was done …



What a blast it all was! If you’d like to watch the episode we were on, it is posted online here. It turned out that Julie and I got our fair share of airtime — clearly we got the message that we should clap and smile a lot, lol.

We were quite loaded down with goods to carry home, but that didn’t stop us from heading across the street to The Queen Mother Cafe for lunch (their site is down so I won’t link).

This restaurant is very popular and gets quite packed at lunchtime, however we arrived at about quarter to 12, so were able to nab one of their lovely booths, piling our packages on the seat beside us.




They always have great art in there. Right now, until December 10th, they have paintings by Toronto artist Francis Domingue.




Julie had a Thai chicken dish and I went with what I always end up choosing at The Queen Mother, their vegetarian grain and bean patty in a pita. Nom, nom.




We both love this restaurant in general, and have been here together before (written about in this post) but this particular day was made special by the exceptionally friendly service.



It was a really exciting day in all, happily spent in the company of this dear lady, who, incidentally, just had her new book read and recommended by Lena Dunham!

Thanks for reading. Wishing you a happy weekend.
xo loulou

Posted in Art, Poetry and Theatre, Queen Street West, Restaurants of Toronto | 2 Comments

At the Gallery : The Tiniest Carvings You Ever Did See


My friend Meghan and I had an art-date on Saturday evening at the AGO, where we saw something that was mind-blowing — some stunningly small carvings made out of wood. The exhibition is called “Small Wonders : Gothic Boxwood Miniatures” and features 60 wooden miniatures.


It was organized in partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I understand that it will travel to these museums after it leaves Toronto at the end of January.

Having been carved over 500 years ago in the early 1500s, these pieces are a real mystery, in that nobody really knows who created them and how they accomplished such a feat, given that they had no electric lighting nor good ways to magnify their work. Investigation into how these could possibly have been made is ongoing and involves a number of scientists including people from NASA. The exhibition includes xrays and speculative videos on the subject.

Given that all the pieces deal with religious imagery, taking the form of Prayer beads, a rosary, and altarpieces, it is known that the reason they were created was to facilitate personal devotion. The premise was that people could carry these small pieces with them wherever they went, and use them to guide their prayers.

The fact that these fragile boxwood pieces survived for more than 500 years is stunning in itself, as are the intricate minuscule details contained within something that can be held in the palm of your hand.


^ 2 inches wide excluding the fold-out panels ^



^ This has a hinge at the back so it opens up and has carvings within. ^


^ To give you an idea of size, here I am looking at the skull pictured above. ^



^ The Chatsworth Rosary was originally owned by Henry VIII and his first wife, Katharine of Aragon. ^






Although we’d both seen the other wonderful temporary show that is currently at the AGO, Mystical Landscapes (which I wrote about in this post), she’s a member of the gallery therefore gets free tickets so, we thought, why not see those beautiful paintings again, so we did that too.


The show contains eight paintings by Monet — one of his works recently sold at auction for a record price of $81.4 million US, so as we went through that section we marveled at the fact that we were amidst art with a value of over $650 million US dollars, in that area alone. We also acknowledged how fortunate we are to live within walking distance of this fine gallery.


^ Yes, the art that surrounded us was priceless, nothing beats the people you love, making this artwork my favourite of the lot. It was our 7th Friendiversary last week and I thank the fates that put this caring, smart and funny lady in my life’s path. ^

Given it was a Saturday evening, there was a wedding being set up, to take place after closing. What a great place to get married!


^ The service was to take place in Galleria Italia ^


^ … and the reception in Walker Court ^


^ We caught a glimpse of the wedding party just before we left the gallery. I bet those people were pretty excited! ^

“Small Wonders : Gothic Boxwood Miniatures” runs until January 22, 2017. It can be seen for the price of regular admission, which is free on Wednesday evenings, and “Mystical Landscapes” runs until January 29, 2017. You need pre-purchased tickets for the latter, which are offered at a discounted price on Wednesday evenings.

Having had our fill of art, we then found a comfortable spot to have some wine and a snack, The Red Lounge on Spadina, just south of College Street. It’s not a fancy place but perfect for what we were looking for.



Thanks for checking out my blog,
xo loulou

Posted in AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario, Friendiversary Celebrations | Tagged | 1 Comment