73 Questions With The Founder of Middle of Somewhere
Hi. It’s me! Alexandra, the founder of Middle of Somewhere. I spent many years traveling the globe and dreaming of launching a blog but it took a global pandemic to finally convince me the time was right. Although the content has largely been focused on Toronto – my home city and current location – I can’t wait until we can safely travel again, so that I can inspire you to explore some of my favourite global gems.
Many people have asked me where I see this blog going – am I planning to build it into a revenue-generating business? How many followers and likes do I have? For me, the reward is so much more personal than that. It brings me great joy to connect with local entrepreneurs – the blog has given me an excuse to interview amazing people and get insights into the business they’ve so thoughtfully built. I still melt inside when a business owner reaches out and thanks me for promoting their brand – the blog has given me a wonderful platform to celebrate the things I love and share them with friends and strangers. I take pride in providing recommendations – and am thrilled that because of the blog, now more than just my closest friends and family are asking me for tips. Frankly, I’m proud of what I’ve built this past year, am inspired by the adventures (big and small) of those in the Middle of Somewhere community, and am grateful that I might have provided someone with the inspiration they needed to explore something new. Stay tuned for many more adventures!
In the meantime, I wanted to express my gratitude for those that have followed along on this journey from day one and to those that are coming to Middle of Somewhere for the first time. I am thankful for each and every one of you and hope that I can add a little bit of inspiration to your day. Don’t forget, there’s always another gem hidden around the next corner!
So far, I’ve posted about how quarantine has changed my delivery patterns, brewery hopping itineraries, Interviews with local businesses like 19/99 Beauty and Home Appliances Food Co., my coveted Top Five, launched the 52 Weeks series, In-The-Know Toronto, and more. I felt it was now time to give you a little more insight into me!
Below, you’ll find my responses to a series of rapid fire questions – inspired by Vogue’s 73 Questions. And if you haven’t heard of Vogue’s 73 questions, perhaps this will inspire you to watch a few of their videos. I also love this behind-the-scenes article with the creator of 73 Questions and definitely recommend the quick read.
Anyway, I digress…onto the 73 questions! I encourage you to think of your own responses as you read along – that’s half the fun!
More to Explore
Touring around Venice Beach and Santa Monica
Checking out Pier 17 in NYC
1. Do you have any nicknames?
AP: Most people call me either Alex, Ally, or Al. My mom also throws in the occasional Anna.
2. A superpower you wish you had?
AP: Teleportation for sure. There are so many places I would love to see around the world.
3. Best Travel Lesson You’ve Learned?
AP: I used to care so much about crossing off all of the top ranked experiences when travelling that it led me to stress more about missing out than enjoying my journey. My mom shared this simple piece advice with me, and it has changed the way I think about travel: “It’s okay to leave something to come back for”.
4. What’s Your Must Have Travel Item?
AP: A pink blanket that I picked up when travelling in Spain. I bring it on all of my flights, unless I forget. I am the Queen of sleeping on planes, but only if I am warm!
5. What’s the country you’ve travelled to most?
AP: Excluding work trips and the US, it would be Spain. I’ve been four times – the first time was to Barcelona and Madrid, the second was to San Sebastian, Bilbao and the surrounding wine regions, the third was to Málaga, Granada, Córdoba and Seville, and the fourth was another quick stop in Madrid. I don’t often return to countries, as the world has so many incredible places worth exploring, but something about Spain keeps luring me back (it’s probably some combination of the architecture, beaches, food and wine!).
6. Last city you visited, outside of Canada?
AP: New York City pre-COVID. My mom was living there for three years, and just moved back to Canada in the summer of 2020. I was lucky to sneak in one last visit just before the pandemic.
7. A city you’d live in outside of Toronto?
AP: It would be a dream come true to live in New York for 2 years (or more!). A close second would be LA or San Diego. And a third would be London, UK. But I would love to return to Toronto for the long haul.
8. Do you prefer international or domestic travel?
AP: I’ve always prioritized international travel. Not only does it typically cost the same as domestic travel (sadly travelling within Canada is very expensive!), but I also think international travel provides more in-depth exposure to different cultures, foods, scenery. That being said, our country has an incredible amount to offer, and I am thankful the pandemic has encouraged me to explore more of it.
9. What do you do to get the most out of your city?
AP: I think it’s really easy to get comfortable and to stop exploring your home city. For me, I am constantly reading about what’s going on – pop-up experiences, new restaurant openings – and listening to adventures that my friends loved. It doesn’t need to be about crossing off absolutely everything you can possibly do, but rather finding things that excite you enough to dedicate a bit of time exploring.
Beach roaming in Marco Island, Florida
Bar hopping through Malaga, Spain.
Riding a camel into the Merzouga desert in Morocco
Stopping by Volubilis, a partially excavated Berber city in Morocco, on my way back from Chefchaouen
10. Your three favourite travel buddies?
AP: Myself (solo), my mom, my boyfriend.
11. A country on your bucket list?
AP: There are so many, but South Africa and Brazil are high up there.
12. Longest trip abroad?
AP: I backpacked for one month in Asia followed by a month in Europe, right after I graduated university. It was incredible and I am so fortunate to have been able to experience that.
13. First place you travelled on your own dime?
AP: New York City to visit a friend while she was doing her masters. It was my second time to New York, but the first time that I explored much of it solo.
14. Your first solo trip?
AP: Indonesia. When I was 22, a friend and I planned to go on a month-long backpacking trip that was meant to start in Indonesia. At the last minute, she could no longer join me for the first week, but I decided to stick to the plan and go solo. I definitely made my parents nervous, but am thankful for that decision, as it unlocked a deep level of independence for me when travelling, early in my life.
15. Your most daring solo travel adventure?
AP: A week solo-travelling through Morocco. I spent a few days in Marrakech, hired a driver to take me on a 2-day trip north-east to the dessert, slept in a tent amongst the sand dunes, spent a few days meandering the medina in Fez and took a day trip to the blue city of Chefchaouen. Even looking back, I am sometimes amazed at my own solo adventure.
16. What do you value most in a restaurant experience?
AP: Incredible food is a must-have. But it has to be more than that – the experience needs to evoke a feeling, and something about it needs to be unforgettable and irreplaceable. Did it have a great vibe? Does it offer something different? Would I return, given the abundance of options available? Would I urge my friends to go there? Thinking back, do I remember what I ate? Ultimately, I would pick good food in a restaurant with a great vibe versus excellent food in a restaurant with a mediocre atmosphere.
17. You’re out for brunch – what are you eating?
AP: Anything with a side of bacon. The only time I sway is at Bar Buca, for their eggs in purgatory. It’s so delicious that I forget there’s no bacon.
18. Breakfast, lunch or dinner out?
AP: Dinner. Alternatively, stopping at a restaurant while on a mid-afternoon neighbourhood wander, for a glass of Chardonnay and cacio e pepe or burrata to share. Not quite lunch, not yet dinner.
19. A restaurant you’d love to eat at?
AP: There are so many. Lilia in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has been on my list for some time. For Toronto – Bar Vendetta (for their crown cacio e pepe, of course), Dandylion, Dreyfus and Le Swan to name a few.
20. Favourite thing to eat?
AP: Really great pasta. Preferably cacio e pepe or bucatini all’amatriciana.
21. Least favourite thing to eat?
AP: Pickles! I love fried chicken sandwiches, which classically always come with pickles, and it’s so detrimental when I forget to request no pickles. Once they’ve touched the sandwich it’s too late; everything will be tainted with pickle juice.
22. It’s 2AM on a Saturday night – what are you eating?
AP: A smashburger, chicken fingers or poutine. Can you tell greasy food is one of my guilty pleasures?
23. Favourite sandwich condiment?
AP: Mayo. I don’t really like any other typical sandwich condiments. Beyond mayo, it would be pesto or fig jam.
24. What do you order at a cafe?
AP: A croissant or chocolate chip cookie. I don’t like coffee but I’ve always like the idea of living near a coffee shop – likely for the warm smell and the baked goods.
25. Cake or pie?
26. What do you love on your pizza?
AP: Crispy pepperoni.
A shameless travel selfie to capitalize on the great evening light
Admiring views from a restaurant in Santorini, Greece
27. Who is your style icon?
AP: Zendaya, as styled by her stylist, Law Roach.
28.Favourite thing you’ve ever worn?
AP: Hard to say – probably a funky patterned romper or matching set where I don’t recall the brand name or a crisp white blazer with matching shorts (see below). But the fanciest thing I ever wore was a Betsy & Adam dress to the Special Olympics charity gala in 2018. I am not one to splurge on clothes, so that was fun!
29. What colour was your prom dress?
AP: Grey. My best friend and I actually organized our prom, as we were the nominated grad class social heads.
30. What is your must-have beauty product?
AP: Face moisturizer!
31. Other than your phone and pandemic must-haves, what are three staples you carry in your purse?
AP: Lipstick, hand moisturizer, and bandaids.
32. Sun or snow?
33. The perfect Saturday in Toronto?
AP: Brunch, then slow meanderings through a neighbourhood – popping in and out of local shops and cafes (eating all the croissants!) – stopping at a cool wine bar early-afternoon for a glass of wine and a snack, back home to freshen up before dinner out. Cap off the evening with a drink at a cocktail bar and a comedy show.
34. An underrated activity in Toronto?
AP: I think locals sometimes forget about the amazing museums and galleries Toronto is host to – in addition to the regular exhibits, the ROM often has great rotating works. One of my favourites is the annual National Geographic photography exhibit.
35. Other than eating out, what’s something you do in Toronto that you also like to do when travelling?
AP: Going to a comedy show! I absolutely love stand-up and have been to shows in many cities around the world. My favourite spot in Toronto is Absolute Comedy at Yonge and Eglinton.
36. Favourite thing you’ve cooked in the past year?
AP: Grilled octopus.
A girlfriend’s trip to Austin
A very classic mirror selfie for when I’m feeling my outfit
37. Three things you are longing to do once the pandemic is over?
AP: Hang out with my parents, travel & host a dinner party.
38. Something you’ve learned during quarantine?
AP: How to build a website.
39. Your horoscope is Cancer. What’s the most Cancer thing about you?
AP: Compassionate, intuitive, sensitive and a homebody at heart.
40. something that has brought you joy in the last year?
AP: Officially moving in with my boyfriend, Dave & getting our pup, Leonard.
41. Do you blow dry or air dry your hair?
AP: Air dry 99.9% of the time. I typically shower in the evening and let my hair dry while I sleep. I am blessed with easy-to-maintain locks.
42. A movie that made you cry?
AP: I tear up at a lot of movies – even if a sports team wins the championship at the end of a film, you’ll see me tearing up (happy tears, of course!). But, full on sob goes to Marley & Me.
43. Where do you feel most at home?
AP: A few places come to mind: At my family cottage, in Haliburton, Ontario. Enjoying a great meal with family. In my luxe sheets at home, watching a show. Or on a plane, under my pink blanket.
44. What was your first job?
AP: Aside from babysitting, I did accounts receivable collections at a startup. I took it so seriously that I eventually got called a “bulldog” by a client because I was chasing them so hard for their overdue payments.
45. How do you currently pay the bills?
AP: I work at a tech organization in Toronto, managing operations for part of the business. I absolutely love it and am very fortunate to have kept my role throughout the pandemic.
46. If you had the day off, what would you do?
AP: Outside of the pandemic – travel! In today’s times, explore a neighbourhood or trail in Toronto or catch up on the blog.
47. If you could choose any other career path, irrespective of skillset or income, what would it be?
AP: An investigative journalist, photojournalist, house flipper, or hotel / restaurant designer.
47. Describe yourself in 3 words
AP: Determined, independent, thoughtful.
48. What advice would you give your younger self?
AP: Don’t make decisions to please others – follow whatever path brings you the most joy. And wash & moisturize your face!
49. Other than family & friends, three things you can’t live without?
AP: Travel, great food & the internet.
50. What gets you up in the morning?
AP: These days, my 10-week old Bernedoodle puppy Leonard. Feel free to follow his adventures on Instagram: @leonardthedood.
51. Morning person or night owl?
AP: Night owl.
52. If you were to go on a double date with two other celebrity couples, who would they be?
AP: Blake Lively & Ryan Reynolds and Emily Blunt & John Krasinski.
53. A first date recommendation?
AP: Do an activity together – axe throwing, a food festival, a board game cafe or get competitive with lawn games (check out LOB in Toronto). It takes the pressure off awkward dinner conversation and gives you something to do other than just grabbing a drink.
54. Best date you’ve been on?
AP: My boyfriend set up an evening for us to cook at Dish in Toronto, and it was a really great, interactive date. I highly recommend the experience if you enjoy cooking or are just looking for something different than a typical dinner date out!
55. Something you love?
AP: A handwritten letter or card delivered by post.
Dish cooking class in Toronto
Exploring Austin, Texas
56. Do you have a favourite hobby?
AP: I have a habit of getting really invested in a new hobby for a short period of time – metal jewelry making, candle making – and then I move on. A passion that has lingered is photography, although I am by no means any good! And of course, writing. I obviously love creating content for the blog, but I’ve enjoyed journaling for as long as I can remember.
57. What’s your favourite exercise?
AP: Any organized sport. I much prefer burning calories as part of a game than going to the gym.
58. Instagram, Tik-tok, or Snapchat?
59. Favourite TV show?
AP: I grew up watching One Tree Hill, Prison Break and Gossip Girl with my family – we would all gather in the living room and watch the episodes together. There’s something about waiting each week for a new episode to be released that made TV that much more exciting (not that I’m complaining about the on-demand availability of today’s technology!). They may not be the best shows I’ve ever seen, but definitely the most memorable for me.
60. What’s your favourite movie?
AP: Matilda and The Parent Trap. Two childhood favourites that I am always in the mood for. Otherwise, my preference is to watch a new movie versus rewatching one.
61. Your favourite piece of advice?
AP: From my dad, “Live life backwards!” In other words, don’t fall into societal pressures about getting the bigger house or the better car and waiting until you retire to explore the world or truly enjoy life. Begin exploring when you’re young, and never stop.
62. Favourite purchase you’ve ever made?
AP: My first condo in Toronto. As much as I love travelling, I’ve always love coming home, and being able to curate my first home brought me a lot of joy. I’m also proud of all that I accomplished while halfway across the world: I condo-hunted while I was travelling for work in Ireland and then completed my first-ever renovation while working in Hong Kong.
63. Favourite season?
AP: Summer, hands down. Hence my longing to live in California.
64. Favourite non-traditional holiday?
AP: Anything that gives me an excuse to eat guilty-pleasure foods – international mac & cheese day, burger day. You catch my drift.
65. What was your favourite birthday?
AP: When I turned 22, I was travelling around Europe with my boyfriend, I had my champagne birthday literally popping champagne on a cliff beside the ocean in Portugal. That was pretty special.
66. A place your missing?
AP: Always, New York.
67. A book you read because everyone else was reading it?
AP: Most of the books I read are popular, as I often select off of Heather’s Picks from Indigo. But a recent one was “Where the Crawdads Sing” which I read as part of a book club. It’s a great read & I’ve certainly jumped on the recommendation band wagon.
Through my boyfriend’s lense
Cocktails & dinner
Popping champagne while celebrating my champagne birthday in Portugal
Navigating a corn maze in Ontario
68. What track currently shows up on your playlist?
AP: Anything by Ehrling. He’s a Swedish jazz musician and I’m obsessed. Otherwise, I just steal playlists from my boyfriend. It’s well known within our circle of friends that he’s the one crafting the playlist for any event. When he’s not around, I’m a Top 40s gal.
69. What song would you probably be caught dancing alone to?
AP: “Shut Up And Dance With Me” – Walk the Moon.
70. Kittens or puppies?
AP: It’s not even close – 100% puppies.
71. Name of your first pet?
AP: Coupar, a Bernese Mountain Dog. She was named after a town in Scotland that my family always seemed to see signs for while we were on a family vacation.
72. Flats or heels?
AP: Flats all the way.
73. Best thing that happened to you last month (june)?
AP: Finally hanging with my friends in person (still distanced, in a park of course), and finally checking out restaurant patios again – shout out to Il Covo & Stock Bar!
Attending a wedding
Bringing our puppy, Leonard, home
Many home businesses have cropped up throughout the pandemic. Read here for a roundup of the latest home businesses on Toronto’s food scene!
Create the best at-home cheese and charcuterie boards with delicious ingredients from these Toronto hotspots.
Rob and Jen launched the Home Appliances Food Co. food truck amidst the pandemic, as a way to pivot when the restaurant industry was heavily impacted. Read on to learn about their inspiring journey and how they’re making a go of it.