Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27-29: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend

It's Friday, of a weird week. A lot of people are on holidays, and the ice storm may have put more (or less) people out of the office than expected, regardless it is the weekend. Hope you all had a good holiday, despite the craziness that was #darkTO.

Do: Chalkers Pub Billiards Bistro near the Glencairn subways station is hosting a Friday Games Night. There is a ton of games to choose from, new games are available every month. The cover is $5 and the require a minimum 1 drink purchase to support the venue. Could be a great way to meet new people and experience some games you wouldn't have a chance to play otherwise. 

See: Arlene Paculan is playing at the Gladstone Hotel tonight from 9pm-11pm in their Melody Bar. Her voice is absolutely stunning. In her music, you can hear her emotions and passion. Cover is free for this event, so head to the Melody Bar for a relaxing evening with a few drinks and enjoy a great local musician. If you're not able to see her this weekend, check her out on YouTube

Eat: There's delicious doughnuts in the city of Toronto but it seems like so many of them are in the west end but not anymore! Von Doughnuts opened this week to bring delicious doughnuts to the Danforth. I haven't had a chance to try them yet but the photos are enough to make you drool. In case you didn't get enough of the sweets this week, definitely check them out.  

Drink: Did you eat and drink too much this week? Probably, I know I sure did. So, if you want to go out but the idea of skinny jeans is just not happening, the Henhouse on Dundas W has you covered. Their Regretro party this weekend welcomes sweatpants. They say they'll be wearing theirs and dare you to wear yours. This is perfect if you want to burn a few calories, have some drinks and dance the night away. (Also, I had to Google Regretro - Urban Dictionary defines it as anything that was cool years ago but when you look back, it's just ridiculous.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

thirsty thursday: union

It's Boxing Day in Canada. It's the day after Christmas, which always makes me think, wow, how is Christmas already done? It was a crazy Christmas in Toronto, following the worst ice storm I remember in the city. I hope you all had a great Christmas and for those in Toronto and other places affected by the ice storm, I hope you didn't lose power for long and for those still experiencing the outages, I hope you get your power back soon! And those who have the patience for the Boxing Day shopping, hope you got a great deal. 

After the craziness that has been this week (or may continue to be this week), you may need a drink. This week's pick is  Union, a VQA from the Niagara region. I tried their riesling chardonnay blend at a party a few weeks ago and picked up a bottle of it at the LCBO. It's a nice white wine, I don't drink a lot of wine but I liked this one a lot. This wine is on the sweeter side and does not have the vinegary after-taste that some whites have. The Union site recommends pairing this with seafood salads or spicy tapas. It's $12.95 at the LCBO and has a 12.5% alcohol content. 


Friday, December 20, 2013

this weekend in toronto

With the holidays ramping up, I haven't had time to pull together a list for this weekend. I just want to wish you all a fantastic weekend. Be safe, it is supposed to be very slippery out there. Have fun with whatever you do! I'll be back next week, promise!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

thirsty thursday: beaus lug tread

I am a fan of (some) craft beer and love buying 'local'. This week's beer is Beau's Lug Tread. I say 'local' because this one isn't from Toronto but is still from Ontario. This brew is from Vanklee Hill in Western Ontario, according to their website, it's the Gingerbread Capital of Ontario. I've tried it at a number of events in the past few months including the Tasting Fair, the Delicious Food Show and it's on tap at the Loose Moose on Front St.

 If you read my Hogtown review, you know I'm not a huge fan of overly hoppy beers and this brew is a great craft beer that doesn't leave that hoppy aftertaste. This award-winning beer is great when you're like me and want a refreshing beer that can go with just about anything. The Beaus website does provide some food pairings, in case you're looking for some inspiration.

I took a picture but can't find it... sorry!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

tafelmusik review and contest

I've been so behind on my blogging, I feel terrible but with school wrapping up, it just wasn't possible. But I'm back, looking forward to the holidays coming up and have a contest for my fabulous readers (in Toronto only though, sorry).

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Tafelmusik. I mentioned it in a blog post about what was coming up that weekend and mentioned that I had never heard of it but people I work with were familiar with the program. So, my friend and I got dressed up and got to experience another side of Toronto I hadn't seen since going to Roy Thompson Hall in grade five, so please forgive me if my terminology is a little off. 

The show was Mozart's Piano, Kristian Bezuidenhout was the guest director and fortepiano soloist. The music was spectacular. If you closed your eyes, you could honestly mistake it for a CD, that's how crystal clear the sound was. The entire ensemble was flawless. It was hard to believe that you were watching people play these instruments. I was overwhelmed by the sheer talent of this group. They played 5 pieces and I actually recognized some of the music. They played pieces from J.C Bach, C.P.E. Bach and of course Mozart.

My friend and I were invited as part of Tafelscene, the under-35 program run by Tafelmusik, which aims to expose a new generation to this amazing and breathtaking music. If you join now until January 2nd, you have a chance to win an iPod and the complete Tafelmusik Media Collection. They offer discount tickets for people under-35 and their Saturday concerts at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre are all pay-what-you-can. Simply arrive between 6pm-7pm to purchase your tickets. During Tafelscene events, those under-35 are invited to the Tafelscene Lounge during intermission for wine and cheese. My friend and I went, met some of the musicians and got a hilarious pin. 

It was a great night and highly recommend it if you're looking for something unique to do in the city. Thanks to Tafelmusik for providing tickets for my friend and myself to check it out and thanks to them for providing two tickets for their French Baroque - January 11th show, use the rafflecopter to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13-15: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend

Happy Friday the 13th. I hope you're day is lucky. There's so much going on this weekend, hopefully your weekend is great.

Do: Christmas is just around the corner and if you're looking for special Christmas gifts there are a number of local markets to check out to get great gifts. The Toronto Market Crawl is all weekend and mostly in the downtown core, it includes 6 markets, some only available on Saturday. Support your local artists and get some unique gifts at the same time.  

See: Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps dance series presents WinterSong. Shows are tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 2pm, tickets can be purchased online and range from $22 to $39. The show celebrates the holidays and winter solstice traditions around the world.

Eat: From the people that brought you "Toronto Poutine Fest", Joylister has created a passport to poutine. For $20, you get 6 poutines from Toronto "poutineries". This pass is a great way to try poutines throughout the city and decide once and for all if you are a purest or if you love the extras. Quanties are limited, check the site for details and restrictions. 

Drink: Tonight is 12 Beers of Christmas at the Gladstone Hotel. For $5, wear your ugly Christmas sweater and get ready to sample some delicious local beer. The cheesiest Christmas tunes you know and love will be playing in the Melody Bar from 7pm-10pm tonight. It should be a great night. 

Have a fantastic weekend everyone. Be safe, it's supposed to be slippery!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

thirsty thursday: hogtown brewers

I wanted to try to do only holiday themed posts but sadly I did not have time in the last couple days so I'm going to share an awesome local beer I tried recently.

I've seen hogtown brewers at a few festivals in the past, but I finally tried them. I was really happy I did. I love supporting small breweries, particularly ones from Toronto but I always have the problem that most craft beers are too hoppy for my liking. 

This was a great beer. It had a bit of a bite to it but didn't leave that funny after-taste that some beers will do. I was so happy to find this beer at a festival, but it is available at the LCBO. Next time you're looking for a delicious craft beer from Toronto, definitely grab a couple cans of Hogtown Ale. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9-12: what to do/see/eat/drink in toronto this week

As always, there's so much going on in the city. Here's a few ideas for this week!

Do: If watching the Leafs game at home is just too boring for you, try Tall Boys on Bloor St. This Wednesday, they'll be showing the game with full audio as the Leafs take on the Kings. As part of "Hoppy Night in Canada" there will be in-game entertainment, raffle prizes and food. Fun way to experience the game with other fans without paying an arm and a leg for tickets. 

See: The Canadian Opera Company has free concerts in the afternoon throughout the month of December. The majority of them are early afternoon, but on Wednesday there is a show at 5:30pm. There is a number of different types of shows and are from up-and-coming artists as well as established musicians. All shows are at the Four Seasons Centre.

I tried Famoso this weekend for the first time and it was delicious. I went to the Bloor & Spadina location, there's also one at Yorkdale. The location in the Annex has a pizza and pint for $10 on Thursdays. This special applies to their smaller size pizza, which I found to be more than enough anyways. A delicious way to spend your Thursday.

Drink: If you can't make it to Famoso on Thursday, every week, they have Vino Wednesday. While you enjoy your delicious pizza, you can get a bottle of wine for $15 off. With their prices, it means you can get some of their reserve bottles for less than $25. Definitely a great date night.

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6-8: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend in toronto

It's the first full-weekend in Toronto, which means there is lots of Christmas activities going on, and as always, lots of non-holiday things as well. Here's a few ideas!

Do: Have you ever wanted to have your picture taken in a giant Ferrero-Rocher? Chances are you haven't considered it but this weekend, Yonge-Dundas Square has made this availlable for that great event you didn't know you needed. From 9am-8pm tonight and 9am-6pm Saturday, you can have you picture taken inside a giant Ferrero Rocher. On Saturday, Sean Jones will perform holiday classics on stage. 

See: I recently learned about Tafelmusik, after speaking to people at work and apparently it's very popular. Tafelmusik is an award-winning period orchestra from Canada. They offer discounts tickets for the under-35 crowd. Tafelscene's goal is to bring the experience to a new generation, with tickets beginning at $15. On Saturdays between 6pm-7pm, there is also the option of Pay-What-You-Can Saturdays. It is a great way to experience something new at a reasonable price.

Eat: It's definitely the Christmas season (somehow, I'm not really sure how we're a week into December) but you're probably looking for delicious holiday treats. For this, I suggest They have pulled together a list of the best places to get gingerbread, including delicious donuts, houses and cupcakes. 'Tis the season!

Drink: There are two new country bars that opened this week. They apparently both have a mechanical bull. I love country music and can't wait to try both of these places out. Boot N Bourbon is at Queen and Broadview. Opening in the Entertainment District is Rock N Horse Saloon on Adelaide, East of John. Get your boots on, and get down, go to town and do the boot-scoot boogie. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

thirsty thursday: canoe christmas

I want all my Thirsty Thursdays in December to be Christmas or holiday related. Today, I 'invented' a drink to meet this requirements. Necessity is the mother of invention and I present to you, the 'canoe christmas'. 

The only liquor in this comes from the beer so it is not as strong as a typical cocktail. I used the 'light' beer Cracked Canoe. It is brewed by Moosehead, their lighter beer is under 100 calories. I mixed it with President's Choice Cranberry Gingerale. I love just about everything on the PC menu that comes out at the holidays and this is no exception. I used a 16oz cup and filled it about half and half. You could adjust if you'd like. Depending on your mix, you may not taste the beer, just depends how much beer taste you'd like. 

This delicious drink is great, perfect as mentioned if you're looking for something a little lighter and would like a cocktail without the hard liquor. I'd love to hear your beer cocktail ideas! Let me know in the comments.

As we get into the holiday season, remember that there's no excuse for drinking and driving. Have a great time but make sure its a safe time, don't drink and drive. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2-5: what to do/see/eat/drink this week

Somehow it is the first week of December, which means the city will be buzzing with activity, mostly Christmas related. Here's a few options for this week.

Do: The One of a Kind Christmas Show is on until December 8th. Happening at the Direct Energy Centre, its a great place to get unique gifts for people on your Christmas list. There will be over 800 artisans selling a variety of one-of-a-kind items.

See: Trailer Park Boys fans will be happy to know there is a Christmas show just for them. The story follows the story of of Bubbles trying to spread the meaning of Christmas. The show is this Thursday at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at the Ex.

Eat/Drink: I love a place that has some kind of special going on, no matter what day of the week it is. I'm not saying your Friday special has to be as good as your Tuesday special but give me something! The Lakeview is giving you something. They have a beer and liquor special every night of the week, so if you're looking for a place to have a couple of beverages this week, this is your place. They also have an amazing looking menu, including twenty-four hour breakfast. I love a place that doesn't restrict when I can have breakfast food. 

Enjoy your first week of December, friends!

Friday, November 29, 2013

why i love my agenda

I thought of calling this post "why you need an agenda" but I'll let you make your own decisions. I know that my phone and computer can keep my calendar, and can colour-code it as well but I just prefer having a hard copy of it. I can't explain it, but it helps me stay organized and I need it. 

Those who use a paper agenda, they know that the selection of the agenda is a huge deal. You make a commitment to a way of life for a year. A bad agenda can spell disaster. I'm usually weary of buying one online because I like to get a feel for it but I couldn't find one that I liked. I've seen reviews for some pricey agendas online, which I wouldn't mind too much except the shipping was almost just as much and I just couldn't justify that. But regardless, this year, I took the plunge and purchased one online from Etsy. This came from a shop in Lithuania (of all places) and I was really impressed with my first Etsy purchase from The Big Calendar. I purchased it on the 20th and it arrived today and the shipping wasn't too expensive (it was actually cheaper than some of the shops in the states!). The shop I purchased from had a number of covers to choose from. The only thing I would have preferred for the cover is that it was a little more rigid. The agenda was $24 USD and shipping was $8.65 USD. 

I use my agenda for everything- personal, school, blogging, work and money. I also started colour-coding, circling everything in specific colours. I would prefer an agenda with a full month view, it's hard to find so I'm getting used to just the days. I don't need a page for each day I find it a bit much. I also don't need the times, my agenda is mostly for reminders and planning, like parts of an assignment or blog posts. This calendar also had notes on a few days each week, some of them were holidays and some were just funny little notes, like "Vegan Friday". I'm not sure if that is actually a thing but it could be and maybe that Friday, I'll eat vegan. Probably not, but maybe. 

I know that the paper agenda is not for everyone but neither is the electronic calendaring. I know a number of my friends have decided to go to paper in 2014 because I've been fairly successful with mine. People know that I don't commit to any plans without having my book. I love the way I can visualize my tasks and the satisfaction of crossing things out when they're completed with my red pen. I find with the electronic versions, things don't get updated, things go missing, and it's hard to keep track of all my calendars efficiently. If you feel like you've struggled with staying organized and want to make it better in 2014, I would recommend buying a paper agenda. You don't need the most expensive one to figure out what works for you. Even though I will start writing in mine tomorrow, you can wait until they all go on sale in the first week of January. 

Stay organized, my friends. 

November 29-December 1: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend

December is this Sunday and that means Christmas events galore in Toronto. Here's what's kicking off the 12th month in the city.

Do: This event could literally fall under any category and fit perfectly. The Toronto Christmas Market starts this weekend, running until December 15th. Go back in time at the distillery district,  with Santa's village, shops, food and licensed areas. Its beautifully decorated, lots of things to do and a great way to get into the holiday season.

See: Cavalcade of Lights is Saturday night at Nathan Philips Square. It is the official lighting of the city's Christmas tree. There will be musical performances, skating and fireworks. Another great event to kick off the season.

Eat: Swine 'n Dine is happening this Sunday, it's an all-you-can-eat hog roast. For $25, you get your swine, potatoes, cabbage and a pint of beer. Be sure to call to reserve your spot, it will likely fill up. 

Drink: Sunday is the Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair. From 11am-4pm at the Wychwood Barns, there will be samples of local cheese, charcuterie and freshly baked goods. The event will feature a number of craft breweries and your $35 ticket includes samples, coupons and take-home environmental products. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

thirsty thursday: rolling rock

It is know that I am a beer lover. Tonight I am going to a kitchen party. For non-newfoundlanders or non-maritimers a kitchen party is basically any gathering of people. When maritimers get together for any type of party, it always ends up in the kitchen. Possibly because that's where the food and beer is, so why would we need to move? Well this evening I'm going to a large-scale kitchen party, the Great Big Sea concert. I've honestly lost count of the number of times I've seen them so when my friend said she had an extra ticket I said yes of course. So this evening's thirsty thursday is rolling rock. Sorry, I know it took me a while to get there but you had to understand kitchen party. 

Rolling Rock is actually an American beer. I first started drinking it when St. Louis had them in a mini-pitcher special. That was a while ago but I still drink it. It's a nice beer that isn't too strong. It also isn't too weak, it's 4.5% so I wouldn't consider it a light beer. I'd consider this beer a people-pleaser. If you're looking for a nice beer that isn't as expensive as a heineken or stella but will be easy to serve at any party. 

I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans, Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating and be safe on Black Friday. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

guest post: december in montreal

This week, Christerline from Montreal will be giving us some ideas on what to do in Montreal this winter. Many people will be traveling throughout December, here's a few ideas if you are planning a quick getaway to Montreal.

November through January is such a magic moment in Montreal. The snow start to fall , Christmas lights starting to come up. Everybody is  in a great mood and of course there's is plenty to do in town. Here's some easy ideas.

1-Santa Claus Parade : This year will be the 63rd edition of the Destination Centre-Ville's Santa Claus Parade. This parade is a big deal in Montreal for kids and families. You can see Santa Claus and there's about 20 floats of elfs and fairies.  From the Corner of Ste-Catherine Street from Fort to St-Urbain. Come early if you want a good place.  Saturday November 23 at 11am

2-The Nutcracker: The Nutcracker is such a classic holiday tradition here in Montreal. I remember going with my parents and sister for almost every year. If you haven't yet you have to go see the ballet from Les Grands Ballets Canadien de Montréal at the Salle Wilfrid Pelletier. December 12 to 30

3-Nutcracker Market :  This event is to help you get yourself into the Christmas spirit. You can buy toys, gifts of all kinds like skincare product, jewelries, etc. 10% of all the proceeds will be going to the Nutcracker fund for Children which help underprivileged children. The Nutcracker Market take place at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal and the admission is free. November 28 to December 8

4- Place Ville Marie Christmas Tree: It's a Montreal Tradition since 1962 that marks the beginning of the Holiday season. The tree -build in New York - measure 63 feet high and 26 feet in diameter and  is decorated with almost 13 000 lights. This Tree reminds of the one  from the Home Alone movie and the one in reality too of course. At the Place Ville Marie from November 2013 to January 2014. 

5-Telus Fire on Ice : Every Saturday of December, in the Old Montreal at the Bassin Bonsecours the sky lights up to the sound of  movies soundtracks for 15 minutes. The fireworks usually starts at 8pm except for Christmas Eve where it starts at midnight.  You can also ice skating during the fireworks. Rentals are available. 
6- While you are in the city and want to get your shopping on, go through the McGill College Avenue with thousand of beautiful lights. There's is hundreds of fantastic stores and also the Ogilvy Department Store which will enchant you with it's Christmas windows. 

© Marie-Reine Mattera - TELUS Fire on Ice
Telus on Fire

About the Blogger: Christerline is a blogger from Montreal writing over at LightsFashionBeauty. She mostly blog about beauty and fashion related things. Helping others by giving them tips and trick. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

planet in focus film festival

I spent the weekend at the Planet in Focus film festival. I saw over ten films this weekend and they were all really well done. I found they all had varying degrees of relation to the environment and their messages were quite varied. I saw a number of films about our food supply, I've never been one to think too much about my food but this weekend really opened my eyes. Other films were about the destruction of wild life and natural resources around the world.

There was one thing I really liked about this film, often times with documentaries, regardless of their topic, you can often feel helpless after watching them. The filmmaker has done an excellent job of explaining the problem but sometimes the answers on the solutions may seem unfathomable. It can seem like we are powerless against the issue but Planet in Focus did a great job of empowering the audience. On their site, each of the film's have their own page, and on this page there are action items. Each one has one or two items you can do to help the problems addressed in the film, it can be signing a petition, or join an organization. It was a great way to engage the audience without everything seeming so hopeless. It is also a great way for you to get involved if you missed the film but are still concerned about the issues addressed.

If you would also like to get involved in the film festival throughout the year, they are offering a membership to their "Salon Verte" screenings that occur every month at the AGO. Memberships start a $50 and help bring environmental film to schools.

I really enjoyed my weekend at the film festival, I would really recommend checking out this amazing program in Toronto.

November 25-28: what to do/see/eat/drink this week

Somehow we're in the last week of November. Here's a few events happening this week in Toronto before we start December!

Do: Cardinal Rule has you covered again this week with another weekly event. Wednesday night is trivia. This is a general trivia so no need to memorize tv and movie quotes. They have drink specials (sometimes the best part of trivia) and prizes so be sure to test your knowledge. As Cardinal Rule says "Its not what you know, its what you learn along the way". Don't forget, they also have a huge selection of gluten-free and vegan options.

See: It's the last week of "David Bowie Is" at the AGO. This exhibit features interactive performances as well as his diary, set lists, stage costumes and instruments. 

Eat: If you love the oysters, the Windsor Arms has you covered every Tuesday night. If you order a dozen or more, your oysters are only $1.25. Great date night? I think so. AGO advises visitors to book their timeslot in advance as it could sell out. 

Drink: Located near Queen and Dufferin, The Beaver has you covered for cheap drinks on a Tuesday night. Every Tuesday night they offer $4 well-drinks between 11pm-2am, so if you're looking for a late-night weeknight bar, here is your option.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

rosie the rebel: adorable shop in bloorcourt

In September, I went to Just for Laughs and found an adorable shop on Bloor near Ossington. Rosie the Rebel is run by Elle and specializes in retro-inspired style. We walked in and I honestly expected the prices to be way out of my price range and I fell in love with a coat, I was worried. I walked up to this beautiful coat and flipped the tag and was actually presently surprised, it was only $125. I don't normally spend a lot on my clothes but this coat was worth it, plus, we live in Canada, it was a reasonable investment. I asked Elle a few questions about her store and the retro style:

What inspired you to open the store?
Opening a store has always been my dream. When I was about 10 I walked in to a shop in PEI called "the mad hatter". The owner (I assumed) was sitting behind the desk hand sewing something and looked so happy, I fell in love with the idea of being a shop owner at that moment. A lot of people ask me this question, as if opening a store is something I just thought of one day, but it's the only thing I dreamed of in life and i truly feel like one of the lucky ones to be able to live out my dream. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of fun 'ups' and unexpected 'downs', but I think that struggling to achieve what you want in life makes it that much better once you have it. 
My best advise for anyone who wants to open a shop is: just do it! Don't "what if" yourself into not doing it. The only thing that separates business owners from those who work for others is they go for it, they take the risk, just believe in yourself and give it a try. 

Where do you get your style ideas?
I started collecting vintage when I was about 12, I had an obsession with 20s and 30s, especially Louise brooks. My collection consisted of mostly accessories but I always had a keen eye, even at 14,15,16 I was picking items that I later found out were collectors items.
My grandmother Doris was also a massive inspiration, I can still remember going through her closet with her excitedly dreaming about someday being able to dress that way myself. My personal love for vintage evolved into 40s and 50s style when I started doing costume design for Toronto burlesque dancers around age 23. My vintage collection at this point had grown so large that I had to rent a two bedroom apartment, one room just for my vintage. 
Even now I continue to obsess with anything vintage pre-dating the 1970s and it's that obsession that allows me to pick great classic funky and alternative pieces for my boutiques, and having spent my life fluctuating from S-4X and back again means I understand all body types when I'm buying. 
On top of being inspired by what was, I'm also inspired by what's current, I love people watching on queen west, seeing unique styles emerge and start to be a trend. 

Why do you think the 50s style has proven to be timeless?
50s is timeless because of the body type it caters to, a classic womanly hourglass. And if you don't have an hourglass, these garments can create one for you. Most decades were hit or miss, the drop waist of the 40s or the shapelessness of the 60s, but the 50s hit the nail on the head. Pulling out if WW2 the 'new look of Dior' in 1947 really defined what we now know as "50s", a cinched waist and an exaggerated hip creating a perfect hourglass, a silhouette that hadn't been praised for decades. 
Style icons like Audrey Hepburn really sealed this look as 'classic' because it showed the womanly figure in a confident-classy way, and who wouldn't want that look?      

What would you consider (two?) staples to creating a vintage look?
A swing style dress and red lipstick (I'd recommend sephora cream lip stain in 'always red' for a perfect matte look and ultimate wearability) 


I would definitely recommend checking out this store, the styles were amazing and the prices were very reasonable. I was also very happy that Elle shared the same love I have for the sephora cream lip stain
Hell Bunny – New Millie Coat (GREY)
the very beautiful coat I bought, still available on their site

Friday, November 22, 2013

ten things you never expected to make you happy on a friday night

As I was coming home from the film festival tonight, I saw a group of people obviously going out for a night on the town. It was a little after 11pm and I felt a little sad, because it felt just yesterday that would have been my friends and I. After I shook my head, I realized I was happy to be heading home and I felt I needed to share this with my fellow twenty-somethings who may have felt sad too.

1. Being Sober

There may have been a time where a sober Friday night meant a complete Friday-failure. Little did you know, that there is something to be said about coming home and knowing where your keys, phone, wallet and dignity is. You'll wake up tomorrow at 8am to go to yoga, or 9am to go to breakfast or 10am to do nothing, regardless, your head won't hurt.

2. Heading Home at 11pm
This used to be the time you would just be getting into a line up of people to get into a very crowded and very loud club. Luckily, coming home this early, you're like in great shape to be amused by the embarrassing people on the subway, instead of being one of them. Plus, nothing good ever happens past 2am. Fact.

3. Being Home at 11pm
Maybe you didn't even leave the house after work tonight. There is nothing to be upset about. Your wallet and liver thank you. Plus, you'll get to see the Top Ten before it's available on YouTube tomorrow.

4. Wearing Sensible Shoes
Maybe you did go out tonight, to the film festival, a play, dinner with friends or shopping but wherever you went, you did it in sensible shoes. You could not be bothered to put on 5-inch stilettos only to not feel your toes by midnight, I'm no podiatrist, but that can't be healthy.

5. No One Took Your Picture
Maybe you stayed home tonight, or maybe you had a glass of wine with a girlfriend, either way, your make-up was off and your hair was in a top bun. Not a nice top bun, a proper, I'm here to relax top bun. And that was ok because you didn't need to take 50 pictures to remember the night.

6. You Slept in Your Own Bed
Of course you're always welcome to crash at your girlfriend's place, that was never a question but there is just something wonderful about getting to your own bed and sleeping there until you're ready to get up. It's also way better than sleeping in questionable places people have been found before.

7. You Didn't Eat Anything Off A Value Menu After Midnight
That's really the only time a McChicken or a BigMac or streetmeat is after midnight. You regret in the morning and you definitely didn't need the calories but you ate it anyways. When you have a reasonable night, you don't even consider having that at any time.

8. Taking Off Your Work Clothes and Putting On Your Pajamas
It is a tremendous feeling to take off your tight pants, or tie, or pantyhose and putting on pants that are way too big for you and a cozy soft t-shirt. That is not something you can do if you're going back out at 11pm.

9. Turning Your Phone Off At 11pm
There's a great feeling of waking up in the morning and knowing that you didn't send a stupid text message, you didn't call someone you shouldn't have and you know where the phone is to put it on silent. Embrace it.

10. Shark Tank
There's a great feeling of judging other people's inventions, judging people's business decisions and wondering about what you're doing with you're life. Maybe you will start that blog, or write that movie, or pitch that crazy idea. Why not? These people are doing it. And Shark Tank provides that (or Dragon's Den if you PVRed it).

So don't feel bad that you're already asleep at the time I'm posting it, embrace it. It's maturity and happiness, at least I hope so.

November 22-24: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend

It's the weekend again and there's so much going on in Toronto. With the holiday season just around the corner, the events and activities are really getting into high gear.

Do: As mentioned, there's no getting around the fact that Christmas is fast approaching. This weekend, everything for Christmas decorating and gifts will be part of the Seasons Christmas show. This show runs Friday to Sunday, tickets start at $12 online and they will accept donations of prepackaged diapers at the show to be donated to Peel Children's Aid. 

See: Planet in Focus is happening this weekend. It will be a great selection of movies happening at two awesome venues in the city. Tickets are still available for films and fest forums. Be sure to also follow the blog and twitter for updates happening throughout the weekend. 

Eat/Drink: Ice, Wine & Dine is a fun event happening tonight near Yonge-Dundas Square. It is part of a series in Winter Magic with a variety of community events celebrating the holiday season. This event runs from 4pm-10pm, there will be food samples as well as licensed patios for wine and cocktail tastings. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

thirsty thursday: proper snakebite

A few years ago, I had the amazing experience of living in Australia. It was while living there that I learned about the "snake bite". When I came home, I obviously wanted to have it again. I'd order it in a number of places and it was never quite right, particularly the time the bartender gave me a shot of tequila and jack daniels mixed together (I may have given it to an unsuspecting friend). After so many failed attempts, I excited to find that Hemingway's in Yorkville would make me a snake bite the way I want it.

The snakebite I know is:
Half cider of your choice
Half beer of your choice
And a splash of grenadine (usually the missing ingredient)

You could obviously make this drink quite easily at home, but its still nice to be able to buy it in a bar and not get a crazy look.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

holiday shopping: six ways to think outside the box

The holiday season is fast approaching, soon we'll be eating more than we should, sharing great times with our loved ones and exchanging gifts. Gift giving can be a lot of fun but it can also be a lot of stress. There's the issue of knowing what to get someone (how many scented candles do I need!) and making the time to get all the shopping done. There is also the concern that Christmas has become too commercial and materialistic. The problem for me is, I agree but I still love to give gifts. I love the look on someone's face when I know I've bought the perfect gift, but these gifts don't need to be material, here is a list of places you can buy gifts that we go even further.

  1. Habitat for Humanity - A great charity I had the privilege of volunteering with a few months ago has a gift guide. For your friends or family, you can be equipment used to build a home or items for a home in their name that will go to help provide low-income families with safe and affordable housing. You can get tools like hammers, screwdrivers or hardhats or household items like shower heads, light fixtures or smoke detectors.
  2. Toronto Humane Society - For the animal lover in your life, consider a donation to the THS. You have the choice of helping a cat, a dog, an unusual pet or giving where the need is greatest. These gifts go to help feed, provide medical care and other needs of these animals living in the Humane Society's care. These adorable gifts come with cards for you to give to your recipient.
  3. WWF - Another great option for animal lovers is WWF. You can select from a variety of animals and they send you a plush to give to your recipient. There is so many options such as turtles, polar bear, koala bears and pandas. This is a great option if you want to give someone something to open when you give your magical gift.
  4. SickKids Foundation - These gifts are perfect for just about anyone you know. This site is really well designed and makes it easy to sort by occasion and budget. There is a large assortment of items such as stockings for children in the hospital over the holidays, decorations for the hospital, as well as hospital equipment. You can also give 'gift certificates' to allow the person the chance to pick what kind of gift they want to give to the hospital. 
  5. Plan Canada - Plan Canada also has a large assortment of gifts to 'give' to your loved ones. Some are matched by various organizations meaning your dollars go even further. They also have a number of gifts associated with their "because I am a girl" campaign, which is dedicated to the rights of girls. You can purchase items like bed nets, to protect families from malaria, fruit trees, animals, school supplies and medical support which helps families in the developing world.
  6. Christmas Wish - This idea actually came from someone I know who worked with a group of people that were tired of candles, bath soaps and chocolates for Christmas. A couple of years ago, they started a Secret Santa with a twist. They each drew a name and purchased a toy for them to give to the Christmas Wish. The idea was to buy a toy that reminded you of your person which made it a lot of fun. They still had the typical Secret Santa price tag of around $20 but they really had a great time with their new Secret Santa. 

Hopefully this list has giving you some ideas of how to think outside the box. Do you have any non-traditional gift giving ideas? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18-21: what to do/eat/see/drink this week on a schoolnight

Monday again, but that's ok, because as always there is so much going on in our great city. Take a look at a few ideas of what's coming up.

Do: This Tuesday, test your sense of humour and humanity by playing the popular game "Cards Against Humanity" at Cardinal Rule in Roncesvalles. If you've never played this hilarious game, you're in for a treat. You can go by yourself and join a group or go with friends. The idea of the game is to fill in the blanks with the most ridiculous, offensive and hilarious results. They have drink and food specials, they also have a pretty extensive gluten-free and vegan menu.

See: Thursday night is opening night to the Planet in Focus film festival. It is the largest film festival of its kind in Canada. Congratulations to all the winners of the contests and thanks to Planet in Focus for providing those passes for my winners. Be sure to follow the blog and twitter for updates as I will be writing from the festival all weekend.

Eat: The Drake Hotel is the place foodies will want to be tonight. It begins at 8pm and admission is free, it allows anyone to become a food judge. There will be competitive cook-offs, do-it-yourself food art and a pickle competition. It will certainly be a unique experience.

Drink: This Thursday, The Office Pub on John St will have a great fundraiser for Movember. #AfterWorkDrinksTO is $10 online or $20 at the door. There will be great drink specials, prizes, silent auction, karaoke and dancing. It promises to be a great party for a great cause.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15-17: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend in toronto

There is so much going on in Toronto this weekend, and I expect that it will only get crazier as we head into the holidays. Here are a few things going on:

Do: The final Toronto Underground Market of the year is this weekend. The event takes place at the Evergreen Brickworks. There will be a variety of food, beer and wine vendors at this outdoor event. This event will also feature food trucks for the first time. It's an interesting event and a great way to learn about local vendors that are just starting out. This is a 19+ event and you can purchase tickets in advance online.

See: If you're an early riser, and love movies this event is for you. Cineplex theatres is hosting Community Day again this Saturday. The movies begin at 9am and they are free! You can also get many concession snacks for $2. Popcorn for breakfast sounds like the best idea ever. Best of all, all of the proceeds will go to the Canadian Olympic Foundation. I love an event that supports a good cause.

Eat: The Gluten-Free Garage is being held this Sunday at the Artscape Wychwood Barns near Christie and St. Clair. Admission is $10 and kids under 12 are free. There will be three speakers covering topics related to healthy gluten-free living. There will be a number of vendors sampling their product as well as local health experts and representatives from the Canadian Celiac Association. Whether you're new to gluten-free or have been explaining it to people for years, this event is for you.

Drink: The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. General admission is $20 for Friday and Sunday and $25 for Saturday. There is a large number of wine, beer and spirit vendors at the event as well as a variety of food vendors. Sample tickets are $1 each and can be used for food and drinks, samples vary between 1-6 tickets. This is also a 19+ event, its a great way to try products you may not want to commit to without tasting. You may find your new favourite things. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

thirsty thursday: aretha franklin

I stopped in to Joe Mama's because they had a $5 martinis. They had a pretty big menu selection of 'martinis'. I tried one delightfully named Aretha Franklin.

It was shaken cocktail with:
1.5oz of vodka
0.5oz of peach schnapps
lime cordial
splash of cranberry.

It was a good martini and the price was so right, there was no complaining. If you're down on King St, check if their special is running, or maybe just whip up a bunch of them at your next party (the holidays are coming!)

Monday, November 11, 2013

canadian cancer society: relay for life committee

As promised, I will continue to post great volunteer opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area. Last year, I started on the committee for the 2013 Relay for Life in Richmond Hill. I was charged with the entertainment portion of the event but we had a fairly small committee. We were small but mighty, we all worked together and made something truly beautiful happen. We had a night of fun, laughter, tears and coming together to fight back against cancer. It was an unbelievably rewarding experience. I also put in a team with friends and family and it was really great to have everyone there most of the night. 

This year, I'll be back on the Richmond Hill committee, with my role to be determined but I can't wait to get started. It was such a rewarding experience to know that we brought together such a great event and raised almost $50,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. The committees are looking for passionate and enthusiastic members. The time-commitment is about one meeting a month, the tasks you take on and a few extra meetings right before the event. If you want to help make a difference, send me an email!

If you want to learn more about this opportunity, check out the Charity Village post.
If you'd like to learn more about the event or put in a team, check out the Canadian Cancer Society's page. 

Canadian Cancer Society South York Region Unit Relay For Life Events's photo.

November 11-14: what to do/see/eat/drink on a schoolnight

Do: It is the second Tuesday of the month so that means Simpsons Trivia is happening at Cadillac Lounge at Queen and Dufferin. This monthly event gets really busy but is really great for the die-hard Simpsons fans, it covers up to season eleven. Compete in teams of up to six people and see if you're able to get a least half the questions right. There is also three episodes screened, this month's theme will be Edna Krabappel, in honour of the late Marcia Wallace. Trivia starts at 7:30pm but be sure to get there early, it fills up quickly.

See: If you like short films and free - the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival is just for you. This event takes place on Wednesday between 7-8pm at the Varsity Cinema. There will be four short films screened. This festival gives film makers a chance to showcase their work. Following the festival, the films will be available on the in-flight entertainment on Air Canada flights.

Eat: If you're in the West End and in the mood for a burger, the Gladstone has you covered. They have their burgers and veggie burgers on for $5. It's only between 5-8pm so make sure you head there right from work and eat deliciousness. 

Drink: Since you'll be eating a burger, you'll need to wash it down with a delicious beer. The Gladstone has you covered as well. They have pints on special for $5. This means you can get dinner and a nice cold one for $10. Sounds like the perfect way to get over the Monday blues. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

last week of planet in focus giveaways

This week is my last giveaway for the Planet in Focus film festival. I'm giving away two closing night tickets to one lucky winner. Don't forget, the Planet in Focus film festival runs from November 21-24  and tickets for each screening are $15 or $10 for seniors and students. The festival takes place at two great venues in the city, TIFF Lightbox and the AGO. Be sure to check back on the blog for updates about the festival and follow my twitter, I'll be live twitting from the screenings all weekend!

Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8-10: what to do/see/eat/drink this weekend

It is Friday! Another week come and gone. Here's some ideas if you haven't already made plans for the weekend!

Do: Here I go with the Gladstone again but this weekend they're hosting the Toronto Indie Arts Market. This event will have arts, crafts, fashion, food and more made my local Torontonians. It's Saturday from 10:30am-4:30pm and admission is $5. Part of the proceeds go to Not Far From The Tree, a non-profit supporting urban farmers and the community. Great place to start your Christmas shopping.

See: The Buffer Festival is coming to Toronto. This festival running all weekend takes place at various theatres in the entertainment district. This unique film festival features the work of famous YouTubers. YouTube has changed the way the world sees videos and this festival is the great way to showcase this medium. There will be two types of shows, one based on a genre and one based on famous YouTubers. Definitely a fun festival to check out.

Eat: The Drake Hotel brought back its LobsterFest Sundays in October due to demand. For $36.95 you get a maritime lobster, sides, pint of Mill St and dessert, the sides alone sound mouth waters. Be sure to give them a call to reserve your spot.

Drink: This Saturday is #BeerHikeTO, a pub crawl with a 'hike'. You can register on online, they are asking for a minimum donation $20 and all proceeds with go to Camp Oochigeas. The event will begin at 4pm at the Cloak and Dagger. The crawl will visit six pubs and finish at C'est What. The event is opening anyone willing to pub crawl for a cause. And as we know, I love an event with a good cause attached.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

thirsty thursday: jacob's creek moscato

I recently had a girls night in and my friend served Jacob's Creek Moscato. And I have to say, it was delicious. It was a wine more suited for sipping in the summer on the patio but it is awesome enough to drink in the cooler weather. This is a light white wine, with a little bit of bubbles. It is not as strong as a champagne. It would be great in a sangria or punch but is perfectly good on its own. It is a sweeter wine but not overly sweet and is a little fruity. I really recommend this wine for your next girls night, just make sure to buy at least two, it'll definitely go quickly. 

This Australian wine is available at the LCBO on sale for $9.95 until the 10th, regularly $10.95.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4-7: what to do on a school night this week

Do: I'll be mentioning The Gladstone in the next little while but they definitely have a lot going on, they're mentioned twice today. This Tuesday, they have Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia happening at 7pm. There will be prizes and a screening of an episode following the trivia. It's free to get in and I suggest getting there early, as it will fill up quickly.

See: Aladdin on stage opened on Friday at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. Twenty-somethings grew up loving this movie, the genie and the magic carpet. This musical is sure to bring back all those wonderful memories of a whole new world. It will be interesting to see how all the magic of the movie plays out in a live show. The show plays until January 5th, so check it out soon. 

Eat: If you're looking for a nice date night, check Wednesday nights at Milestones. At a number of locations throughout the city, you can get dinner for two for $50. There is a shareable appetizer, a few choices for a main and a shareable dessert. It's a nice treat to look forward to mid-week. 

Drink: On Tuesday nights, The Gladstone from 5-11pm half price wine bottles. Tuesdays can be a tough day, you're not still relaxed from the weekend and you're still a ways away from the weekend, so a half price bottle of wine is the perfect way to ease into hump day.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

new territory: the royal agricultural winter fair

I went on a new adventure today, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. It is definitely where the city meets the country and this city girl saw a lot of new things today.

After fighting a lot of traffic to get down there, we decided to eat first. We started at with apple dumplings, which I considered more of a baked apple but they were absolutely delicious.

delicious apple dumpling
these guys are only open for the fair, they're basically worth going for

Following our dessert, my friends decided to get lunch. There was a large selection of food. We got Pinky's Steamed Dogs, they were also really good. There was everything from pulled pork to perogies to tiny toms to well just about everything you could want. They also had some licensed areas, when you needed to sit down for a few minutes and enjoy a cold one.
food court area
Next we went to the petting zoo. They had a mix of alpacas, goats, cows and some of the funniest geese I have ever seen. They had funny feathers on top of their head - they really made me laugh.
funny feathered-dos
alpacas eating pellets
Following the petting zoo, we went to see the oversized produce. There was everything from pumpkins to apples. It was quite strange to see such unnecessarily large fruits and vegetables.
large pumpkins

cows eating their hay
We ended our day watching the 4-H club cows parade around the arena. I had to ask a lot of questions about this event. Apparently, they show the cows, and win prizes. There was over a hundred cows competing in this event. To be completely honest, it wasn't my favourite part and I'm still not sure I completely understand the concept.
4-H members before the cows

It was an interesting day at the fair. To be honest I was surprised how much I enjoyed myself. I didn't include photos of the vendors at the fair but there was a lot of them. They were selling a variety of items including food, farming equipment and household items. The ticket price at $23 originally seemed a little steep but there was a lot to do. There was even more for kids to do, particularly if they're animal  lovers. I'd recommend if you've never been to the fair, its a unique experience, especially if farming isn't normally your thing. Have fun!