seven crazy good bloggers who know their stuff
seven hundred dollars
seven days uptown…
Uptown Saint John not only has unmatched historic charm, is situated on the beautiful Bay of Fundy, and has a prime arts and culture scene; we are also home to quaint indie shoppes and a mecca of dining and social spaces. Uptown Saint John Inc. recently asked seven local bloggers to spend some time and money ($100 each) uptown and share their experiences with us.
Beginning February 25th, every day for one week, we will highlight each blogger and their ventures. We hope you find these recaps both informative and inspiring.
sevenUP . Day Seven . March 3, 2013
by Greg Knudson
Greg Knudson runs his own company, GK Media, where he works as a wedding photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer. This past December, his work took him all the way to Dhaka, Bangladesh to film a 2 day wedding. Though he has developed an ever-increasing appetite for travel or destination work, he truly lives and loves life in uptown SJ. Beyond work, Greg is a foodie who enjoys cooking, browsing the local cultural markets and the fine dining experiences found throughout the city, with a particular weakness for Japanese food and almost anything normal people consider “too spicy.” He is a fitness and nutrition enthusiast, but has been known to cheat on the latter when it comes to overly-caffeinated beverages and a good beer (or several). You can check out Greg's work and social media contact info atwww.about.me/gregknudson
Be sure to follow Greg on twitter @gregknudson
This will be my first blog post…ever, so please bear with me, because there is a chance it may appear like I've clumsily glued a bunch of tweets together. For those who know me, I'm often posting lengthy Facebook statuses in desperate need of a blog, so maybe this should be more of a regular thing. To begin with, I'll tell you a little bit about how I came to write this guest blog on Uptown SJ. On February the 6th at 4:30 PM, I was summoned to the Uptown SJ office for a gathering of seven of Saint John's blogging elite. In other words, I had no idea why I was there. They were calling it “7Up,” but my deductive reasoning and lack of carbonated beverages brought me to the conclusion that this was not your average 7Up meeting if there are such things. Uptown SJ was offering each of us $100 for us to spend in any way we saw fit, with only two requirements: We were to spend the money uptown, and then blog about our experience. Who could say no to that? I obviously didn't. If you weren't already a blogger, you would have become one that day. Besides, photographers are only paid in exposure, so give me an actual $100 and Im certainly willing to blog about it!
After the brief meeting, I ran out and deposited my cheque before Uptown SJ could change their minds, and quickly got to thinking about what I would spend it on. If I wanted to, I could have run around town and paid five strangers' parking tickets, but my 'sevenUp' experience would have lasted all of 2 minutes. Another option I considered was single-handedly taking down one of Ta-Ke sushis 75 piece sushi boats (battle cruisers?), which would last roughly 1 hour plus an indefinite food coma. The bloggers were chosen based on their unique perspectives, so with that in mind I opted to spend it on things I would normally buy, but with more thought towards supporting some local businesses and making a point of trying something different. I also had my camera with me, so I hope you enjoy the accompanying photos! 'SevenUp' was a great experience, which made me reflect on a few of my spending habits, such as: 1) I have no trouble thinking of what to buy until you put a spending cap on it. 2) I don't buy a lot of 'things', and typically prefer entertainment experiences. 3) I spend an unreasonable amount of money on food, so I wanted to be sure I had at least one lasting, tangible product of some sort at the end of the day. The following is a breakdown of how I chose to spend my $100:
Gym, Coffee, Haircut: Ahh, my trifecta – a succession of things that never fail to make me feel like a new man. Naturally, I had to factor this into my spending. I walk through the City Market, grab a coffee at Java Moose (Moose Size Cocoa Mochanut, for those who must know) and head toward Hairacys for my appointment with Adam Donnelly. Adam is an exceptionally talented, award-winning hairstylist with a lot of passion for what he does. I have always been impressed when I see his work in collaboration with local fashion photographers on Facebook. It's always pure art. Adam has also been cool with the fact that I sometimes try to book my appointments the day before through Facebook. Okay, maybe every time. I'm pretty sure he's even penciled me in on some of his off days. After the haircut I dropped my camera off at home and headed to Goodlife (It was already weird bringing it to my hair appointment, and there are already enough gym selfies on instagram).
On my way back home through the City Market, I purchased the only item that was not experienced or consumed in a short time frame. I stopped to talk with John Baxter at Canvas Pics in the City Market and ordered an 11×14 canvas of one of my photos. Ive passed by the display on countless occasions and always thought to get one, but never got around to it. I dont have a lot of my own work committed to print or canvas, so I figured it would be a good idea. The original photo I chose is shown below, as the final canvas product was not ready before the blog had to be ready for posting. Im considering gifting it to my grandmother, but if I decide to keep it on my own wall, thats okay too. She doesnt read the Uptown SJ blog to see this, or have internet serviceor a computer. Cash remaining: ~$50
Lunch at Taro: Taro (formerly Saigon Noodle), is a Vietnamese and Thai restaurant on the corner of Union and Coburg St. They've got some delicious food at great prices, but their challenging location in the uptown area and relatively little marketing means a lot of people don't find their way over there to discover it. The owner, Bi, is a friend of mine, and back in the Saigon Noodle days I was notorious for stopping in on Saturdays for some of that amazing Pho at around 2:30am, adding ridiculous amounts of Sriracha sauce and chilis to the point I could barely handle it. I also created Saigon Noodle's first website, so I had familiarized myself with the menu for the past few years. Much has changed since, though. They've re-branded to “Taro,” and recently brought in a new chef from the Springrolls restaurant franchise in Ontario. They are also no longer open at 2:30 am.
Since I hadnt been out for lunch with friends in a while, I invited my friend Mark McColgan to try some of Taro's new menu items. Mark is a social-media/marketing consultant and strategist in Saint John who has helped several businesses to form strategies and engage with customers. He has also helped me in the past with these areas. We talked about social media and how our businesses were doing while we enjoyed our meals. Mark got the sweet and sour chicken while I had the new Kalbi beef ribs with grilled shrimp and vegetable skewers. As a starter, we each got a bowl of Tom Yum Soup, a hot, sour and spicy Thai soup with herbs and vegetables. The spice level was a bit toned down and the flavor slightly sweetened compared to others I've had, but it was delicious nonetheless. The Kalbi beef ribs were grilled to perfection with slightly charred, caramelize edges and a Korean BBQ marinade that I believe is a mix of soy, garlic, sugar and sesame oil. The shrimp were juicy, tender and grilled along with some bell peppers. With my meal, I also had a Vietnamese filtered ice coffee, which I was supposed to pour over a glass full of ice, but ended up drinking like an espresso shot instead. Still great. All in all an excellent lunch, and Im looking forward to my next visits so I can check out the rest of their new dishes. Cash remaining: $25
My fifth and final purchase was at Ta-Ke sushi. When I entered I asked for a selection of sushi to be chosen by the chef and explained what I was doing for the Uptown SJ blog, so they ordered an amount to fit within my remaining budget. I love many things about Japanese food. The simple-but-brilliant flavor combinations, the freshness of it and feeling completely energized when I finish a good meal. Ta-Ke definitely gave me that feeling. If Uptown SJ gave me $100 every week Id probably spend some of it there every time. The presentation of my plate was spot on, complete with a rose bulb and an intricately sculpted radish for garnish, and a creative mix of 20 Nigiri (raw fish on rice) and Maki (rolls with seaweed) sushi pieces. The chefs selection included squid, octopus, tuna, two different cuts of salmon (belly and fillet) and pieces made from egg, grilled eel and salmon roe (eggs). The sushi was fantastic! My favorites were the grilled eel and salmon pieces, but the roe variety definitely caught my attention because I dont think Ive tried it before. This was my second visit to Ta-Ke and thus far I have nothing bad to say – quite the opposite. Im really impressed with the service and the unique sushi rolls Ive had there.
After Ta-Ke my balance was $0, so I hung my head and resumed spending my own money. So thats it! I hope you enjoyed reading about – and viewing – my sevenUp experience. Big thanks to Uptown SJ for choosing me as one of the bloggers!
Find out more about Greg: www.about.me/gregknudson
sevenUP . Day Six . March 2, 2013
by Makayla Peacock
Born and raised in Saint John, Makayla is a grade 12 student at St. Malachy's High School. With hopes of entering into the world of journalism after high school, Makayla quickly accepted the proposition put to her by Uptown Saint John Inc.; to spend $100 uptown and write about it. Because Makayla attends a high school uptown, she knows first hand the unique experience living uptown offers and especially likes the convenience of everything being so close…makes for a fun noon hour! Enjoy Makayla's blog below…
Earlier in the month I was awarded $100 to spend at the stores in Saint John. At first I didn't know what to spend it on, but once I started shopping around, I found that uptown SJ really has a lot to offer. Some things are even free! Bonus!
So here's what I did with my money.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love books. More than love actually. I think it's an obsession. I could literally spend hours in the bookstore. So I went toColes first. I considered spending all of my money there, but I realized that I still had a few weeks to stretch the money as far as it would go. In the end I walked away with 2 new books: the new “Lying Game” novel by Sara Shepard (anyone who is a fan of Pretty Little Liars, I highly recommend this) and a book full of writing prompts- 642 Things to Write About to be exact. Needless to say, I'll be busy for a while.
“Wing Wednesday” atPizza Hut rolled around and some friends and I went for the all meat wings. Wednesdays are probably the best day of the week, just because of the wings. Where else in the city can you get 20 wings for less than $20?
Friday (February 15) saw an exciting night of Sea Dogs hockey. The boys ended their losing streak by beating the Moncton Wildcats 4-2. The game got a lot more interesting when 2 players dropped the gloves and let the fists fly.
I knew that the money was dwindling down so it was time to prioritize the rest. Since Serena Ryder is coming to theImperial Theatre on February 28 and the tickets were at a discounted price if you buy them early, I invested the rest of the money into a ticket to go see her.
All in all, it was a great experience to get to know all that Saint John has to offer. I discovered many great things that you don't even have to pay for! Uptown Saint John is really underrated as a great place to shop.
FollowMakayla Peacock on Twitter!
sevenUP . Day Five . March 1, 2013
by Claire Ryan
Claire Ryan is a consultant at NATIONAL Public Relations and a longtime #livelifeuptown enthusiast. She is involved with FUSION Saint John, the Saint John Board of Trade, and 21inc., and writes a weekly column in the Telegraph-Journal that highlights community events and initiatives. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @lclaireryan.
I live and work uptown and, by extension, and am no stranger to spending money in the city centre. However, being given a hundred dollars and told I HAD to spend was new and, believe it or not, kind of overwhelming. So many places I could go! Things to see! Stuff to buy!
Where to begin?
I decided to throw away any hope of having a plan and instead set out to see how far I could stretch myUptown Saint John dollars. In the end, I got to spend a couple weeks checking out all kinds of Uptown stopsfrom ones I visit regularly to others I didnt know existedall while spending a few bucks here and there along the way.
Here are the highlights:
Corn Crib – 9 Charlotte Street
Corn Crib Natural Foodshas been a hub of natural and holistic living in Moncton for decades, and theyve recently expanded to include a new location in Saint Johna welcome addition for uptowners looking for easy access to natural alternatives.
This is the kind of store I could spend hours in, but on this visit I was sucked in by all natural personal products. So many delicious scents, in the form of perfumes, beauty balms, creams and candles. After sticking my nose into just about every item on the shelves, I picked up aPacificia soy candle ($13.95) in Island Vanilla. I had originally planned to gift it to a friend, but couldnt resist lighting it as soon as I got home and its been burning on my mantle every day since. Sorry, friend!
Billys Seafood – 47- 51 Charlotte Street
Its no secret that there are tons of great places to go for dinner or drinks uptown, andBillys Seafood is certainly one of them. But as often as I go out, I also love making a Saturday evening meal at home, and part of the joy of the night in is the Saturday afternoon spent uptown picking up fresh ingredients. On days like this, the fish market at Billys is often the first stop. On this trip, I picked up enough fresh salmon ($15) to make dinner and a couple leftover lunches, and rid myself of having to worry about what to eat at the start of a busy week. Not only isBilly one of the nicest people around, he goes the extra mile of removing both the skin and bones from my fish before I bring it home, basically doing all the dirty work for me and making sure my diet is full of healthy omega-3 fats.
Virginia Forbes . Ang & Sal's Hairstyling – Shoppes of City Hall
Ang & Sals Hairstyling, tucked away in the Shoppes of City Hall, is where youll find Virginia Forbesan ultra-talented and super-sweet aesthetician. I happened to be in on the same day as oursevenUP kick-off meeting, which was a very happy coincidence, as I left with an appointment for my first shellac manicure.
Ive since learned that Im one of the last people on earth to learn about shellac nail polish, but Im now converted. Im not one to indulge in manicures very oftena lack of patience and hand eye coordination prevent me from keeping one looking good for longer than a day. Shellac eliminates those barriers: in less than an hour you get painted with a polish that dries immediately, lasts for weeks and it does. not. chip. Seriously. Im on week three and my nails look as fresh as ever. And at $35, its a great treat for anyone who likes to feel (wait for it…) polished.
Petes Pub – Shoppes of City Hall
Whether you realize it or not, every time you walk through the pedway you are passing by one of Saint Johns best kept secrets: Petes Pub. On the other side of the mirrored walls is one of the citys oldest (and smallest) pubs, and its become a regular stop for my friends over the past year. The drinks are cheap, the patrons are friendly and Pete Ferguson is one of the friendliest bartenders in town. Its become our spot for countless happy hours, and in all that time we have not even come close to seeing every memento and photo tacked along the walls. I spent my remaining dollars ($30) treating two friends to a couple Big Dogs of Moose Light, a serving size exclusive to Petes Pub.
Petes Pub is perhaps best known for the fun run it hosts on St. Patricks Day every year, and its a great opportunity to check this place out. The Shamrock Shuffle is a 5km run/walk that will take place on March 17 at 1:00p.m. The $5 entry fee will get you a medal and a chilli feast at the end of the race, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society. Stop by, meet Pete, enjoy a Big Dog and get all the details!
sevenUP . Day Four . February 28, 2013
by Chuck Teed
Chuck Teed is the Director of Music for the InterAction School of Performing Arts in Saint John, New Brunswick, a multi-use facility that houses performance and instructional spaces for dance, music, and theatre. A fifteen year veteran of the East Coast music community, Chuck also served as East Coast Music Weeks Conference Manager in 2010-2011, and spent three years as Music Nova Scotia Education and Event Coordinator. When hes not working with students, Chuck performs with musicians around the East Coast, most recently with progressive rockers Ermine and pop outfit Penny Blacks.
Chuck is a die-hard uptown boy; who better to set loose on the streets with some cash. Read Chuck's interesting blog HERE.
sevenUP . Day Three . February 27, 2013
by Barb Crawford
Just last night, Saint John celebrated our vibrant social media culture at 'The Saltys' social media awards. This fun annual event recognizes pro players in various social media venues such as twitter, facebook, etc. Our feature 'sevenUP' blogger for today, Barb Crawford, was awarded the Salty for 'Coolest Blog.' Interestingly, the 'Pay It Forward' (PIFSJ) initiative won for 'Best Use Of Social Media In A Campaign.' Today's post is a true example of the worth of both of these social media leaders. Enjoy!
(oh…and in true Barb Crawford form, there is a chance to win at the end of her blog)
Last month – Uptown Saint John approached me and 6 other bloggers to take part in a new promotion. They gave us each $100 and one rule – spend it in Uptown Saint John.
I've been inspired lately by the Pay It Forward movement. I love the idea of doing something nice for someone, just because. Since Uptown Saint John gave me some cash, why not let loose on the Uptown to spend it on my best friends?
After making a list of the people I wanted to surprise with a present and the stores I wanted to spend a few dollars in, my mission was clear. See the rest of Barb's blog HERE…
sevenUP . Day Two . February 26, 2013
by Michael Hawkins
Michael Hawkins is a man who wears many hats. He likes to eat..and cook..and his blogwww.foodfunk.ca is captivating, inspiring, mouth-watering and always entertaining. Michael is a sports fan, funk dj (aka, DJ Hawk), wonderful photographer, and we can assume, a very fun and quirky dad to Alexandra.
During Michael's 'sevenUP' adventure, he explores a plethora of uptown corners, indulging many of his varied interests. His stops include an indie record store, art gallery, some ethnic tastes, toys, kitchenware, and a brush with his alter artist ego. We are very happy to share Michael's 'sevenUP' blog; read it here.
sevenUP . Day One . February 25, 2013
by Hilary Paige Smith
THE BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER
Saint John City Market, 47 Charlotte St.
Some of my earliest memories are of the Saint John City Market.
My grandmother would take me there when I was very small and sit me on the counter of Raymond's at the top of the Market. The man working there would give me a slice of cheese and we'd be on our way.
The Market has played a starring role in my life. It's where I had my first job – working at a candy shop. It's also where I had my second job – making delicious lunches at the Wild Carrot Cafe. I spent entire summers there and countless school lunch hours in between.
It isn't just the tempting smells of fresh produce, baking bread and spices that draw me to the Market. It's the people. This is one of the friendliest places in town.
When Uptown Saint John presented me with this opportunity, I knew exactly where I wanted to go first. The Butcher's Daughter is relatively new to the Market, but owner Cindy Christie is a second-generation merchant. Her shop is bright and cheerful, not unlike the owner herself.
When I need to buy gifts or something to treat myself, this is where I like to visit. Cindy sells pottery from regional artists, gorgeous jewellery and thoughtful crafts.
She's also eager to answer questions about anything in the shop and where it comes from. As I shop, Cindy and I chat about the artists she's carrying and she helps me find what I'm looking for, even as I wander aimlessly between options.
After much deliberation and conversation, I settle on a small cream-coloured mug peppered with hearts ($25). It's a companion piece for the next stop on my adventure.
THE FEEL GOOD STORE
89 Germain St.
When I walk into The Feel Good Store, the first thing I hear is owner Anne McShane singing in the tearoom at the back of the shop.
I've met Anne a few times, mostly while I was working as a community reporter. She's always willing to talk, whether it is about the tea in the tearoom or issues in the community.
For me, this shop embodies relaxation and calm. I buy my tea and vanilla incense here. It's also the place I first discovered the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann. Anne has it framed in the tearoom and if you haven't read it yet, go there right now. To quote one of my favourite movies, Garden State, “It'll change your life, I swear.”
The Feel Good Store smells like lavender and green tea, but subtly. Nothing about this place is overpowering. Anne sells everything from organic snacks and loose tea, to yoga gear and candles.
To go with my heart mug, I pick up a loose tea ball ($3.95), “Cup of Perfect Tea” scoop ($6.95) and two packages of tea: Caramel Apple and Blueberry Green ($3.50 each). And, because I'm a sucker for anything that smells good, I pick out a sandalwood-scented candle ($19.95). I wanted to take a picture of it while it was still pristine, but I lost my head and lit it the second I got home.
It fills my living room with a gorgeous scent and the wooden wick crackles, like a teeny, tiny fireplace. Perfect.
SCHEHERAZADE BOOKS AND MUSIC
116 Prince William St.
On my Uptown adventures, I wanted to visit somewhere I'd never been before.
Now, I'm regretting all those afternoons I didn't spend poring over this used bookstore. I'm a serious bibliophile, so it's basically criminal that I haven't been to Scheherazade before.
I visited on a dreary Saturday afternoon, but even down the block I could see the bookstore's windows glowing. This place is heaven for booklovers.
It isn't huge, but every available space is taken up by shelves upon shelves of books. It's hard not to just stand in the door and breathe deeply. The beautiful, musty smell of an old book is unparalleled to me.
Unlike many used bookshops, this one is immaculate. Everything is well organized by subject and alphabetized. They even have a display of graphic novels. In addition to selling secondhand books, they also sell new books by local writers like Clyde Wray and Jordan Stewart.
Of all the places I visited, I spent the most time in Scheherazade. I just couldn't make up my mind. I picked books up and put them back. Only to go back and pick them up again. Eventually, after the better part of an hour, I settled on In This House are Many Women by Sheree Fitch ($6.99). Like most people in my generation, I was raised on Fitch's children's books, like Toes in My Nose and Mable Murple. I had the pleasure of meeting Sheree in my final year of university and interviewing her for a long-form feature story. The experience opened me up to her poetry and work for adults, which is truly incredible. I also picked up Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs ($7.99). This one is good for anyone who likes comedy and controversy.
I will be spending many more afternoons here. You can find me in the fiction section, breathing deeply.
RELISH GOURMET BURGERS
26 Germain St.
If you need to feel appreciated, go to Relish.
At this burger joint, they literally yell “We Relish ______” when your order is up. Relish is fun, loud and delicious. That's why it's one of my favourite places for lunch.
They do gourmet burgers and poutine, in just about every creative flavour combination you can dream of. My go-to burger is The Greek Tycoon on a turkey patty. It's got crumbled feta cheese, marinated bell peppers and onions, olives and tzatziki. Plus, all of their burgers come with their signature beet relish.
Relish is great because their combinations are gourmet, but they suit even the pickiest palates. You can get any of their burgers on beef, turkey or veggie patties. They also do sides like sweet potato fries, milkshakes and poutine, usually loaded with equally unique items like peppercorn gravy and blue cheese.
Relish is a Maritime success story, largely because of their creative customer service and killer flavours. Started by entrepreneur Rivers Corbett, Relish has expanded from a single location in Fredericton to ten existing and planned spots across the east coast.
My advice? Come hungry. If not, you'll go into a food coma.
Find Hilary on twitter @hilarypage. She's one cool lady to follow!