Happy Halloween! It’s my favourite time of the year- I love all things spooky and creepy, so when I had the chance to take a ride to Toronto’s very own ‘Spooky Lagoon’ I jumped on it.
Spooky Lagoon is a new Halloween style event to Toronto this year for those who want to take a break from the classics like Screemers, Casa Loma or Halloween Haunt at Wonderland. The idea comes from Jimmy Jones (you may know him as the unofficial mayor of Toronto Island), and no one knows the Island better than Jimmy Jones, he’s been living there since 1947!
Do you like live theatre? Ridiculous zombie movies? How about a mix of both? That’s exactly what The Secret Sessions brings to the table with their Movie Experiences.
Their most recent experience is based on the Shaun of the Dead movie (One of my personal zombie favourites!). They’ve transformed the Monarch Tavern into the Winchester Pub from the 2004 comedy horror flick. They have main characters from the movie walk around the pub to interact with some audience member before the show starts. I believe they were well cast; a lot of them really resembled the characters from the movie. Unfortunately for us, zombies were a part of that cast as well and soon, my buddy Chris and I were ‘bitten’.
Foodora Toronto hosts Good Food Tour events every once in a while, and I was lucky enough to score an invite to their first bite chef series starring Aminah Haghighi of Fake Taco.
I was intrigued by the name, I mean, I love REAL tacos but what’s a fake taco? Aminah explained that she loved to have fun with her creations and they weren’t really what you would call an ‘authentic’ Mexican dish. She throws ingredients together she thinks will complement each other and makes it work, and while most authentic dishes contain meat and dairy products, hers were 100% vegan.
I didn’t understand. What about the cheese? What about the pulled pork, steak or chicken? What about the sour cream in the dip!? Would this be something I would be into? (Spoiler alert: YES).
I love beer. When my friend Shannon invited me to the Fresh Hops Beer Fest last night, I couldn’t say no! I’m sort of a beer nerd and really like trying new breweries that pop up, anything small batch or seasonal I’m a real sucker for but even some of the biggest beer fans have yet to try fresh hopped beers!
What’s fresh hopped/wet hopped beer? How is it different? Well, the hops flavours are a lot fresher, earthy and brighter than what we are used to with other hoppy, more bitter beers. A lot of the brews last night had citrus or flowery undertones to them (even melon flavoured, Shannon’s favourite!)
What makes fresh hopped beers a little harder to get a hold of is the fact that the hops are used in small batch brews within 24 hours of being taken from the field. Whoa, right!? Some breweries even told us they did it in under 12 hours. Also, since fall is upon us, it’s the end of the hops harvest season, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing some fresh-hopped beers hitting the LCBO and some of your favourite downtown bars any day now.
Fresh Hops Fest was held at one of my favourite venues, the Berkeley Church. It holds a lot of great beer events and it’s always a pleasure to attend (Can’t wait for Hoppy Holidays!)
A few of my favorites were in attendance, Big Rock Brewery, Niagara Oast House, Nickel Brook Brewing, Barnstormer, just to name a few, so since I love their classics, I was really excited to see what small batches they had come up with! A bonus was that Sobey’s was on site preparing really great charcuterie plates to pair with the unique brews. (Also, this is going to sound very basic white girl coming from me, but they had a pumpkin spiced cheese that was really out of this world and only available at Sobey’s. I’m literally going to pick some up after work today, it was that good).
One of my all time favourites from the night was from a brewery I hadn’t heard too much about. The Second Wedge Brewing Company in Uxbridge. They were serving up Back Forty Wet Hopped Pale Ale with chinook and cascade hops. It was super refreshing and smooth, made for real easy drinking. I talked a little to Zed who told me they had only been open for about 2 years now. I was excited to hear that they have brewery tours available, a tap room and a beer garden. They also have few live bands scheduled to perform on site, which I think is so fun. Something tells me I’ll be making a little road trip to enjoy a flight there sometime soon. Check them out!
Shannon’s pick of the night came from Goodlot Farmstead Brewing Co. Their Greenbelt Fresh Ale made with cascade hops had hints of melon in it. Sounds like an odd mix but it really worked. Knowing it was only a small batch and we couldn’t buy some to go was sort of a bummer but it was also what makes this event so special, we were able to try some really unique one of a kind batches!
We had a really great time sampling all the creations (yep, all of them) last night and hope this is an annual fest. Also, special thank you to Beck Taxi for sponsoring the event and helping everyone get some safely last night with taxi chits, you guys think of everything! Fingers crossed for next year!
Until Next Event X
I had the pleasure of getting an invite to talk some #GuiltyPleasures with Colin & Justin this week and 2nd Floor Events (Thanks, Gracie Carroll!). It was hosted by the one and only duo of Colin & Justin and a panel of finance pros from Capital One and guests Mark Munroe of Addicted Magazine and Lauren Yakiwchuk who runs a travel blog.
I took along my friend Amber, who was dealing with some financial woes herself, paying off a big wedding and honeymoon bill and just life in the big city in general (It can really add up!). She had already taken some really great proactive measures like being on a ‘cash diet’ where she would budget for the month and put aside envelopes of cash to go towards bills, groceries, spending money etc… it’s a fantastic way to really keep track of your money and makes it almost impossible for you to go over budget since when its gone for the month, its gone! (Keep it up, girl!)
Aside from that, we wanted to know what else we could do to help manage our credit and overall credit health and debt.
Now, I walked into this not knowing what to expect, I’m lucky enough to not be in debt and I want to say I’m a pretty good saver. I’ve set up my bank account to automatically put some of my paycheck every 2 weeks into an RRSP and whenever I use my debit card, $3 goes from my chequing account into a separate savings account I use for my very own #GuiltyPleasure, travel! I know $3 doesn’t sound like much, but if you leave the account alone for a few months it’ll really add up!
Having said that, I didn’t’ really think I needed any help in the savings or managing credit department, but a couple things the panel spoke about I could really relate to. “What are some of your guilty pleasures?” Colin asked the crowd. Amber held up her glass of wine she had been sipping on and I nodded in agreement when a few people talked about stopping to grab a coffee every day. I never thought my coffee pit stops was that big of a deal until we were asked to add it up.
I usually grab a $4 coffee twice a day at work (Don’t judge), so let’s say $8 a day, Monday to Friday for a month, that would be $160. Yikes, that’s more than my metro pass! And what makes it even more shameful is that I have a perfectly good espresso machine at home and tons of ground coffee. Colin & Justin shared a great tip they’ve been using where they get portable coffee cups to use at home and brew a cup before they left the house for the day. So simple and yet it could save you $1,920 a year. (YEP! You read that right; my $8 a day coffee treats added up to $1,920 a year! I could have used that towards a trip somewhere !)
But having said that, you still have to live your life and allow treats every once in a while! The Capital One panel said a good thing to do was allow yourself to grab your usual coffee or muffin order one day a week, to treat yourself on those hard Monday morning’s that seem to come too early or at the end of the week on Friday. This way it doesn’t feel like you’re denying yourself too much, or that you’re missing out on something you love.
“Who here knows their credit score?” the Capital One panel asked. I leaned over to Amber, ‘Do you know yours?...I don’t even know how to check mine!’. We were both guilty of just not knowing, we didn’t even know where to begin. Knowledge is power though, and we were told there were great sites like Equaifax we could use to get our credit score checked. Best to know ahead of time, instead of learning the hard way and being declined for a loan or big purchase like a house because of a ‘bad’ credit score you didn’t even know you had!
Does checking your credit score or sitting down to budget out your monthly bills or spending money and savings sound daunting or overwhelming? Well, good news, the great people at Credit Canada will sit down with you, look over your finances and give you a plan to help get you out of debt and manage your credit! They are Canada’s longest standing non-profit credit counselling agency that’s been helping people get out of debt for more than 50 years! Did I mention their help is FREE? Check them out at CreditCanada.com or call 1-800-267-2272 for more information.
Colin & Justin and Mark Munroe even shared their personal stories of overcoming debt and getting back on track. Getting out of debt can definitely be an uphill battle, but you aren’t alone! The best of us get caught up in debt with bills and unexpected expenses, but it’s what you do to get out of it with small changes and new habits that counts! Be sure to reach out to Credit Canada or Capital One so they can keep you going in the right direction! Thanks for hosting this great event, Capital One, it was definitely eye opening !
Until next event X
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.