The spark of true love is the dream that each of us pursues ~ Donatella Versace
I’m a fragrance queen, I don’t leave the house without spritzing on a perfume that reflects my current mood or ‘completes’ my outfit. I’m just as interested in what’s new in the world of men’s colognes. Dave Lackie held a beautiful launch party to celebrate Versace’s’ Ero’s Flame at Terroni’s on Adelaide last week. A chic event space on the 2nd floor was transformed into a Miami-esque dinner party, complete with palm leaves towering over dinner guests in tall black vases, gold lamps gently glowing over bouquets of geraniums, roses and scattered oranges, a nod to the notes of the fragrance. It was the perfect escape from the blizzard that was happening in downtown Toronto, just outside the front doors.
Beauty and finance are not something that usually go together, and when I saw Dave Lackie was hosting an even for just that, I was intrigued. It seemed to pop up at just the right time, too! My husband and I have been trying to sort our finances out since the wedding, and were in right in the middle of taking an investing and finance course online, too.
I’m not sure about you guys, but I wouldn’t call myself money savvy. I mean, I’m good at saving, have some mutual funds and an RRSP account through my workplace but wouldn’t be able to get into any detail about what exactly the accounts meant for me, how they’d help me later in life and where all my investments are going. I let my banker handle that!
In Dave we trust, so when he brought his own personal financial expert Jay Papernick (Check him out here: https://www.assante.com/advisors/jpapernick/) to speak to his followers gathers in a hall at 15 York St, we were hanging off his every word. I chatted with a few of Dave’s Babe’s over some wine and veggie spring rolls before the event started and we were all on the same page when it came to money. It scared us, it made us feel uncomfortable and we wish we knew more about it, especially living in such a big city like Toronto where the rent and mortgages seem to climb higher every week and a decent meal out will set you back a nice chunk of change.
Isn’t it fun when two of your favourite things get mixed together? Just look at cronuts, radlers and cat cafes. Sometimes bringing the best of both worlds together can be great, even if they do seem really bizarre at first.
When I heard that the Royal Winter Fair was having a day of goat yoga (and one day ONLY) I immediately called to reserve a spot (and then forced my sister Kate to book one as well). Sorry, wait, you’ve never heard of goat yoga before? I want to say the first time I heard about it was on the news last year and it was happening on a farm in Oregon called ‘No Regrets’. Lainey Morse set up a few classes thinking it would be cute to have baby goats prance around during a yoga class, but then her idea turned into a phenomenon with a waitlist of over 500 interested yogis.
While some rolled their eyes at the novelty of it all, other participants were happy to have a laugh, a stretch and maybe clean some baby goat pee off their yoga mats at the end of class. (I think I may fall into the latter category)
Getting in on The Secret Sessions
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’.
Real Love for Fake Taco
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).
Feeling Fresh at Hops Fest
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
Walking in a Winter Village Wonderland
I’m not a fan of winter. I hate being cold, I hate taking the delayed public transit and I hate walking around in soggy, slushy boots. To keep my spirits up, I usually try to participate in some local winter activities to get out of my hibernation funk.
This holiday week, Katie and I were able to make time for each other to check out the Winter Village at Evergreen Brickworks. Our original goal was to dust off our old skates and glide a few circles around the picturesque make-shift rink they had set up. There were beautiful pine trees in the middle of the ice and delicate strings of lights hanging over the crowd, I’m sure it would set the scene for romance if you were to attend with a date at night.
Our plan was perfect apart from the fact that we (and our skates) were a bit rusty. For the less than 20 minutes we were out there, we had a good time. Mainly laughing at ourselves trying to keep upright or how much everything seemed to hurt. Maybe a good goal to set for ourselves in the New Year would be to brush up on our skating skills – but we’ll get back to you on that one.
After a quick skate, we decided to treat ourselves to some delicious spiked apple cider to warm up ($7).Speaking of warming up; the outdoor market place had multiple fire pits you could take a break around. We ended up snagging one fire pit to ourselves, which was nice and surprising, maybe it was the holidays or the time of day we attended (we were there from 12-2:30). If boozy apple cider isn’t for you there was also a selection of craft beer, hot chocolate, coffee and tea.
After catching up around the fire with a beautiful winter scene of snow covered trees and vintage brick buildings behind us, our grumbling stomachs decided it was time to see what the food trucks had to offer. Katie’s eye was caught by Heirloom’s menu of a pulled duck sandwich and I stuck to the same truck but ordered their fried butter chicken sandwich ($10 a sandwich)….(Check them out on twitter at @HeirloomToronto) It was quick and yummy and the perfect way to end our visit. If Heirloom’s doesn’t sound like your favourite choice, there was a French fry station, Los Vietnamita (Vietnamese – Mexican fusion), Indian Street Food Co Inc, Chorizo’s La Abuela (traditional Mexican) and a few more to choose from. There is something for everybody!
We took a walk around the Etsy market, but it didn’t look like all the store fronts were open, to be fair it was still technically the holidays so they may have taken the day off. We saw some handmade, 100% organic beauty products, baked goods (I wanted to grab some so badly, but I was eating a little too much junk over the Christmas break), some knitted alpaca sweaters, mitts, hats and scarves and what looked to be like graffiti artists.
We had fun and I would say that it’s definitely worth the trek. It’s great for families, dates or even just some girl time to catch up. Want to attend? Well, you’re in luck; it’s on until February 28th. (Dec 26- Jan 8 hours: Weekdays & Weekends 11am-6pm, Jan 9-Feb 28 open on weekends only from 11am-6pm)
Things to note: Free entry, skates available for rent, paid parking available but there is also a free shuttle (departs from corner of Erindale Ave & Broadview 7 days a week) or TTC service on the 28 Bayview South bus from Davisville Station.
Bundle up and have some fun at the #WinterVillageTO !
Until next event!
Toronto Baker's Market a Real Treat
How have I never heard of the Toronto Baker’s Market before?! I saw an ad for it by chance while scrolling through Instagram earlier this weekend and knew I had to go! I have such a sweet tooth and the idea of over 25 vendors (and choices) at the event sounded like my kind of Sunday.
It took place on the 2nd floor of the Ralph Thornton Community Center on Queen Street East, just follow the smell of fresh baked goods up the stairs.
What I LOVE about this event is that it was started by two sisters, Kathleen & Gillian Cook, who had a common love of sweets and treats and wanted to find a way to bring enthusiastic bakers together for a giant bake sale. During the year they have had events take place in both the East and West ends of the city. I’m late to the game here and was told this would be the last market of 2016. (Here’s hoping for more in 2017, I mean, REALLY hoping!)
I was really impressed by everyone’s creations! You could really tell they were carefully made, and made with love. My boyfriend decided to grab a late breakfast with his coffee and bought a really delicious maple glazed donut topped with bacon. It was moist, not too heavy and had the perfect amount of glaze. I think it took a lot of will power from my boyfriend to even let me have a bite! (They also had S’mores & Eggnog glazed available!)
The donuts were made by Jiten Glover, the Founder of ‘Dipped Donuts’, he told me he operates out of his house and this is his second time attending the Baker’s Market. I think it’s really great for bakers that have a side business like this or bake as a hobby to have such a great outlet to sell their goodies! I may have never heard of him otherwise! For more information on Dipped Donuts, check out www.DippedDonuts.com.
Something that caught my eye was a beautiful heart shaped mousse cake from ‘Dessertique’s’. It was covered in a bright red mirror glaze, soft on the inside and had a little layer of black currant (aka my weakness). It really was beautifully done, it looked like art! It reminded me of a giant cinnamon heart! They have recently opened up shop in Vaughan, but baker Nika Rahimova who works with them, told me she was planning on having a Toronto location soon. It’s good news for us city folk, but maybe not for my waistline. I could really see her creations being popular at weddings or other formal events. Dessertique’s website is not currently up and running, but they do have a Facebook page if you wanted to learn more about their creations! Also be sure to check out Nika herself at @macaroonnika on social media, she is really very talented.
Another fun item we purchased were multicolored meringue‘s from Blossom Bakery which can be found all over the GTA and online at www.BlossomBakery.ca .I couldn’t believe how light and delicious they were while being vegan and gluten free at the same time! (OK, I’m a believer now!) I regret not buying more!
Monkey Butter was also for sale at the market! I was very excited to try it since I have seen them all over social media and have heard great things. They have many different flavours and peanut butter combinations to choose from. They are made in small batches with all natural ingredients so you can feel good about this purchase. Also, have amazing flavours like chocolate banana, gingerbread and maple bacon! After sampling and much deliberation, I went with the coconut flavour. Can’t wait to try this on French toast next weekend! Be sure to visit them on social media at @MonkeyButterPB or on their website www.MonkeyButterPB.com.
Other honourable mentions are Anna Liu and her Quinoa Pecan Brittle (again, who knew gluten free, vegan, and quinoa based brittle no less could be so delicious !?) and proceeds of the brittle were going to help a women ‘shelter, what a win –win! Helping those in need AND getting a tasty treat. Sadly, they didn’t have a website or social media handle, but I’ll include a picture of the smiling duo.
Last but not least, I’ll say enjoyed Craigs’ Cookies. I bought a chocolate chip cookie with a piece of Terry’s Chocolate Orange in it! Oh baby, oh baby! (Surprisingly, not vegan or gluten free! Ha!) He is another baker that does this in his spare time and he can be found online at @CraigsCookies .
All in all, the Toronto Baker’s Market was so much fun, I’m sad I didn’t know about it until now and some of the baker’s I spoke to were unsure if it was going to operate into 2017. I for one REALLY hope it does, it makes a great afternoon out and I really loved learning more about local bakeries or those who just genuinely love creating out of their house on the side. I think it’s a win for the customers and the bakers!
To learn more about the Toronto Baker’s Market, and keep an eye on their next event (fingers crossed) check them out online at www.TorontoBakersMarket.com. If you have a knack for making baked goods or own a bakery, you can even apply to join in on their next market... and please do, I really want to try your specialities! YUM!
Until next event!
Beer and Cheer at Hoppy Holidays
I love beer. More specifically, I LOVE winter ales. Anytime a brewery has a special holiday brew out, I always feel like I have to try it.
So I was thrilled when LagerShed (Shaun & Ed Brewing Co.) hooked me up with tickets to attend a sold out Hoppy Holidays ‘Craftmas beer experience’ at the Berkeley Church (315 Queen St E) They’re a fairly new brewery located in Dundas, Ontario (65 Hatt Street).The team at the event told me they had just opened in April and were on their way into being available in the Beer Store and LCBO. This was good news for me, as I really enjoyed their BarrelShed brew – it was aged gently in wine barrels to produce a pretty unique, woody taste. If you’re ever in Dundas, they have a brewery there where you can pop by for a peek and some samples. For more info check them out at www.LagerShed.com.
Now onto the Berkeley! This is my second year attending Hoppy Holidays and I might even dare to say that the event may be out growing the venue! We arrived about an hour and a half after doors opened and it was pretty packed. We also had a lengthy wait for the coat check as it was “full & unavailable” when we first arrived.
Other than that, the event was really fun. Drink Inc events usually hit the nail right on the head from the brews and food they choose to their event space. This year’s participating breweries were Amsterdam, Barnstormer Brewing Co, Beau’s, Big Rock, Goose Island, Walter’s Caesar mix, MacKinnon Brothers, Old Tomorrow, Pint Pursuits, Shaun & Ed Brewing Co, Mill St, Brickworks Ciderhouse ,Niagara Oast House, Side Launch, Shiny Apple Cider, High Park Brewery, Velha & Co, and f Nickel Brook Brewing….WHEW!
I’m not sure I remembered there being ciders available at last year’s Hoppy Holidays (but don’t quote me on that!) so I was happy to see a little more variety this year, as I’m pretty partial to ciders. I finally got around to trying Brickworks’ Stadium Cherry cider (I had a hard time trying to find it at the LCBO for some reason) and if you’re a fan of sour/tart ciders I would really recommend it. It was a nice way to break up the ale samples and I could see it being my go-to summer drink for next year. I’m hoping they’ll release a few more flavours and always look forward to trying their new products – not to mention I love buying local!
An interesting winter ale I tried was Barnstormer’s Polar Pumpkin Ale, my boyfriend said it smelled like pumpkin pie and it was pretty easy going down despite being a heavier ale. It had pretty distinct notes of cinnamon and nutmeg and makes a great desert beer.
Other honourable mentions of winter brews that I enjoyed were:
Niagara Oast House’s Roasted Chestnut Brown Ale (malty and nutty aroma, hint of chocolate or what my partner described as coffee)
Nickel Brook Brewing’s Winter Porter
Big Rock’s Yuletide Stout
…If you haven’t noticed, I prefer darker ale!
I’m pretty sure that I am late to the game with this one, but I was really intrigued with Beau’s ‘New Lang Syne’- which the Beaus team described to me as champagne and Beau’s mixed together. I’m not the biggest fan of champagne but upon trying it was a bit sweeter than I thought it would be, it has hints of lemon zest, papaya and tropical fruits. I liked it so much that I hopped onto the Beaus website to learn a bit more about it. They age part of the brew in pinot gris barrels for 4 months before blending the barrel aged portion back into the rest of the batch. It’s light and bubbly and I will definitely be picking up a, to be honest, beautiful bottle of it to bring to a New Years Eve party this year. The bottle is actually what caught my eye first, with colourful font and cork top. I was told it’s suitable for aging, so I will probably buy a few to keep around the house.
I always look forward to these events so much since I usually find a new favourite or learn about a new up and coming brewery. I’ve definitely added a few new brews to my list of what to pick up over the holiday season and maybe after reading this you will have too!
Until next event!
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.