Monday, 29 December 2014

The Food Diaries: Czech Republic

If you're looking for good hearty home-cooked kind of meals, the Czech Republic will make your taste buds sing.  If you're on a gluten free, dairy free or vegetarian diet, you can pretty much stop reading here.  The following will only make you envious of the rest of us.  Sorry.  

Monday, 22 December 2014

Stanley Kubrick: The exhibit

We took a few film credits in University.  Not in a pretentious movie snob kind of way, but in a literary story-telling kind of way.  Ya, ok that still sounds snobby.  In any case, we studied Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and so when we heard that a Kubrick exhibit was coming to the TIFF Lightbox, we had to go. The exhibit has been open since Halloween, so it's taken us a while, but this way we got to see the movie and the exhibit at the same time.  

Monday, 15 December 2014

Boozy Brunch at the Ritz

My girlfriends and I abandoned the idea of Christmas gifts in favour of quality time for Christmas a number of years ago. The choice of what to get your bestie for Christmas is now focused on the when and where of it all.  This year, we got all dressed up and headed for a decadent and boozy brunch at the Ritz.  

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Cottage Mansion is so Much Better than Camping

Ever wish you were living the life of Bruce Wayne or Lara Croft, but you know, without the guns? I'm not ashamed to say that I do, so when my friends asked me to join them on a posh weekend getaway, I couldn't wait to put on my silk pajamas and bathrobe and enjoy a brandy and a cigar.  Of course what I really mean are flannel pajamas, roasted chestnuts and a glass of wine. I'm only pretending to be posh.  You can take the girl out of little Portugal...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Tilde Taco on the east side

So, my lil' sis went and bought her own place all the way on the east end of Toronto.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Toronto geography, switching between being an east-ender and a west-ender is something that very few people do.  I'm not quite sure why, but it's scary.  I've decided that instead of reliving a whole crips/bloods debacle on a sisterly level, I'm going to treat the east siiiide like a new wondrous place to discover. My exploration began with Tilde Tacos - the Danforth isn't only Greek food. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Guys, Girls and the Toronto Marlies

My sis and I were born and raised in Toronto, which for most of us also means being born into Leaf Nation.  But hello, Leaf Nation you're paying inflated prices to see a team that hasn't come close to winning a Stanley Cup in well over a decade.  So I've decided not to give them any more of my moolah for them to squander ( I swear that's it for my whining) and have turned my attention to the Toronto Marlies. Who knows, one of these kids might get to raise Lord Stanley's cup above their heads in the near future and you could be that person screaming that you saw them when.... 

But Friday night wasn't just any night, oh no, it was Guys and Girls Night Out and that meant $5 beers.  Holla! 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Hip Hop Karaoke

Sometimes ladies' night means stilettos and mini dresses and sometimes it means jeans and high top sneakers.  We went with the latter and nodded along with the folks at Revival for Hip Hop Karaoke

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Food Diaires: Jack's Wife Freda, NYC

I should probably preface this post my telling you that I love brunch.  I just dig the vibe, you know.  Starting your day with good food and friends seems pretty ideal if you ask me.  And since I was in NYC with friends in Soho and we needed a little something, something to get us going, Jack's Wife Freda was the perfect choice.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Fabric Shopping NYC

I've been to New York a number of times and I always look forward to the shopping.  The selection and the deals are almost always bigger and that always puts a smile on my face and a hop in my step.  This time we thought we'd step away from ready-to-wear for a moment and take a walk in the garment district to see if we couldn't find some raw materials and boy did we ever.  39th street is a cornucopia of sewing notions and fabrics!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Taking a stroll with zombies

Halloween is my favourite time of the year.  I'm pretty sure I like it even more than my birthday and I LOVE my birthday.  And like with just about anything I enjoy, I like to invite people along to share in the experience.  This year I had the pleasure of introducing one of my friends who has recently moved to Canada to the wondrous world that is Halloweek and it all started with the zombie walk on Saturday. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Food Diaires: Poco, NYC

We were headed out for an evening of debauchery in Alphabet City and looking for a place to eat nearby when we found PocoThe tapas at this place was so good, we ordered twice.  We also couldn't wait to dig in long enough for me to take a photo of the first round, so all I have left to show you are scraps. Sorry.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I went to the spa and I floated

I seem to be treating myself to more trips to the spa this year.  First it was an outdoor spa in Budapest, then a beer spa in Prague and now a float spa in Toronto.  Maybe I'm getting fancy or maybe I'm just getting old and need all the help I can get.  Whatever the reason, I'm totally down for a little pampering and relaxation these days.  

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Junction Music Festival

Friends, live music and good food on a sunny Saturday afternoon; does that sound good to you? Well, it did to me too, so I headed over to the Junction Music Festival with a pre-arranged meet-up with some friends.  Well, that was the plan.  It was the plan until they encountered tequila on their way to the festival.  All bets are off when my friends find tequila so that meant that I was at the festival alone.  

Monday, 29 September 2014

Christie Antique Show

I've suddenly reached the point in my life where driving to an antique show at 7:30AM on a Saturday with my parents sounds like a good time.  When and how did this happen to me? (please tell me that you're asking yourself the same question; I can't be the only one going through this mini identity crisis)  In any case, if this sounds like a good idea to you too, here's what you're getting yourself into. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Diner en Blanc

Starting off our 3-course meal right!
I don't know about you, but having a picnic dressed all in white sounds like a recipe for disaster; grass stains, food spillage and red wine catastrophes.  So, I was a little skeptical when a friend of mine invited me to check out Le Diner En Blanc especially when she said that we would have no idea where we'd be going and we'd have to pack a laundry list of items which included a table and chairs. It sounded like a lot of work for something I didn't quite understand.  I went anyway. Duh, of course I went anyway!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Spa Day in Budapest

Going on vacation often also means doing lots of walking.  Your muscles and your feet get tired and sore and you start to feel a little cranky.  That's why I think a week into a trip is the perfect time to spend the afternoon at the spa.  

Monday, 8 September 2014

Flooring on a budget

A sequence of perfectly timed events led me to a much wanted basement makeover, which then also spilled into another bathroom renovation.  More on that another time.  My basement was covered in some pretty gross linoleum tile which I couldn't wait to get rid of, but my budget was not huge and by not huge I mean really small.  Gimme a break I'd already done one bathroom renovation and traveled twice this year.  So where do you go in Toronto when you need flooring on the cheap?  Well, it turns out that I've got a little secret and it's hiding at Runnymede and St. Clair.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, New York

Part cabaret, part rock show, all awesome:  that's how I felt about Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Oh, and that Neil Patrick Harris guy, he was f'n fantastic.

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Food Diaries; Pete's Tavern NYC

Cheese burgers and french fries; you can't get much more American than that, but sometimes it's hard to find a good one, so let me point you in the right direction.  In this case, it's Pete's Tavern near Union Square Park.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Sleep No More, New York


Whoever said that the best shows to see in New York are on Broadway is about to get a little education in the experience of theater.  "Sleep No More" is an interpretation on Shakespeare's Macbeth like none I've ever seen before.  I'm so glad I took the advice of one of my dearest friends and wandered over into Chelsea to   the McKittrick Hotel where I was totally immersed in the magic that is theater for three hours. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

4 steps to your best ever Halloween costume.

It's August.  Why am I already thinking about Halloween, it's not until the end of October?  Well, there are a few reasons. 1 - I love Halloween and think about it a lot, probably way more than any normal person should. I start looking forward to the next Halloween on November first.  2- I make my own costumes. In my 32 years I have not yet worn a store-bought costume and I'm not about to start now. 3- My costumes are usually highly planned and intricately executed and need a lot of time to complete.  Maybe I'll inspire you to make your own costume or maybe you'll just roll your eyes at how much time and effort I put into this, but either way I'm going break it down for you.

Sunday afternoon at "Le Bain"

It's a Sunday afternoon in New York and you want to get your drink on with the beautiful people.  Ya, I get it.  Sometimes I'm in the mood for that too, so we headed for the rooftop at the Standard Hotel to a little spot they call "Le Bain", which translates to "The Bath" for those of you who didn't get through elementary school French. I think it has something to do with the hot tub they have in the middle of the bar, although I've been warned to proceed with caution; there are cooties in there.  

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Four hostels and a hotel

When you stay in a party hostel, you make party friends.
 I had a great time with Team Oz at the Madhouse.

One of the toughest parts about travel for me is deciding where to stay.  If my mom had her way, I would always stay in nice hotels in the shiny parts of town, but that doesn't always suit my budget, personality or travel goals.  On my last three week journey I was on the move every three or four days which meant that when I wasn't staying with friends (thanks friends!), I had to figure out where I was going to rest my weary feet.  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Berlin Wall

There are two news stories that will forever be etched in my memory from my childhood: the night-vision images of the Gulf War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was seven when the Berlin Wall came down and I probably didn't really understand what was happening, but the images of graffiti, parts of the wall tumbling and people climbing over the wall moved me even then.  So when it came time for me to plan my latest trip to Europe, visiting whatever was left of the wall was a must.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

If you went to Frankfurt, what would you do?

Alright, so maybe Frankfurt isn't the prime tourist hub in Germany, and maybe it didn't come up in your "where's my next vacation?" conversation, but it's got a huge international airport and it is an important hub for business.  So how are you going to spend your time if you have a huge layover or have to roll into town on business?  Well, I relied on my Frankfurt friends to take me around and show me why they love Frankfurt.  

Monday, 7 July 2014

Live on the Patio

I love Toronto in the summer.  I think it's the best time of year to visit and explore what this city has to offer. If you are lucky enough to live here, they city will give you lots of excuses to put off washing your windows, weeding your garden or starting that DIY.  The city wants to help you discover new things and enjoy what it has to offer, often for free.  That's what took me to Live on the Patio at Roy Thomson Hall. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Sandeman's Europe Free Tour

When first arriving in a city, it's always nice to take a walking tour to orient yourself and get a good look at all the major tourist sites.  It can also serve as a preview for the things you'd like to come back to have a closer look at and which things you're happy to just skim over.  When the tour is free, it makes it that much better.  I mean, who doesn't like free? 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Great Heart Festival

Now in its fifth year, the Great Heart Music Festival drew quite the crowd to Trinity Bellwoods park this weekend. NXNE can be exhausting and hectic so having the opportunity to roll out a picnic blanket and catch some rays with your best buds to the sweet sounds of some acoustic tunes is a really nice way to slow things down a little.  

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Food Diaries: Germany

Before heading to Germany I had a fairly limited knowledge of the deliciousness that awaited me.  Well, except for beer.  I knew that I would be drinking lots of beer.  But we can't survive on beer alone, so here's my list of grub to try the next time you find yourself in Germany.  

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Reggae, of a different colour

In the welded labyrinth known as the Cross Club in Prague, I came across many things on my voyage up the stairs, down the narrow hall and past the sketchy guy with the head tattoos, but none more surprising than the live Czech reggae concert on the main floor.  

Monday, 16 June 2014

I may be a budding street artist

In my quest to try new things and immerse myself in local culture, I decided to do something a little bit off the tourist path and join the good folks at Alternative Berlin for a walking tour and workshop in the graffiti arts.  Graffiti and street art flourishes in Berlin.  The art form has come a long way since the tagging we saw on the Berlin Wall in the 80's and it has become an intrinsic part of the culture in Berlin, especially in the area of Kreuzberg where our tour began. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Food Diaries: Portugal

I've been to Portugal a lot and there are always the standard things I like to eat: pasteis de nata (custard tarts), bacalhau a bras (cod fish and potato dish) and regiões a moda do Minho (fried cubes of pork).  All of these things are pretty easy to come by and are standard on a lot of menus, but my favourite things can only be found in some pretty specific places and I'm ready to share them with you.  Imitators beware. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Dundas West Fest

In only it's second year, the Dundas West Fest has created quite the buzz and it's not hard to see why.  With a growing sense of community and what seems to be a new place to "kick it" opening every week, Dundas West from Ossington to Lansdowne has a lot to celebrate and maybe even show off a little. The street festival takes that long stretch and closes off to traffic and opens it up for celebration. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Caving under Budapest

I'm going to preface this adventure by sharing with you that Batman is my all-time favourite superhero and that I was really eager to explore these caves hoping that it would bring me one step closer to feeling like I was in the Bat Cave. Except that they made us wear these dorky get-ups, so it kind of ruined the illusion.  

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Burger Week!

The warm weather makes me think of barbeques and barbeques make me think of burgers, which meant that it was about the time for me to once again indulge in Toronto Burger Week: five days dedicated to over forty of the city's tastiest and most inventive creations, burger style. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Beer Bath in Prague

When someone first mentioned taking a bath in beer I had flash backs to my beer-soaked undergrad years.  Once I got over the nausea, I thought that this could actually be a pretty awesome experience and a great story. Beer has been around since the 7th century BC, so it's taken on many different uses over the ages.  The beer spa experience dates back to the middle ages and boasts many benefits towards healthier skin and shinier hair.  So, nothing at all like the beer experiences of my early twenties.  

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A stop in Český Krumlov

Somewhere between Vienna and Prague sits Český Krumlov, a Unesco World Heritage site.  On a tip from one of my friends who used to live in Prague, I decided to make a pit stop and stay the night in this 14th century town on my way from Vienna to Prague. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

24 hrs in London

In a rather impulsive decision, I decided to extend my 3 hour lay-over in London to a 28 hour express visit.  How much of London can you experience in a day?  A lot. Especially when you have a good friend who lives in London, offers to be your tour guide and give you a place to crash for the night.  

Monday, 19 May 2014

Arting it up in Covilhã

Often when you think of the Portuguese art scene you automatically think of Lisbon, but in the spirit of trying something new, I headed to Covilhã. Yes, I committed  to a four hour bus ride to a winter resort area in Portugal after "surviving" a brutal winter in Canada.  Proof of how much I love art and my little cousin who is currently studying fashion design here in the mountains.  

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Burgers, Gin and Cheesecake

It's no secret that the best places to eat in a new city are the ones away from the touristy area, but on our way away from the opera house, we couldn't help but be  enticed by my travel buddies three favourite things.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Balancing travel and visiting family

I am first generation Canadian, which means that I have lots of family that live elsewhere.  I often find it difficult to balance familial obligation and my desire to see more of the world.  How do you spend time with the people you miss and love and still get to do some wicked cool stuff? 

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Toronto Rock

Lacrosse is our national sport and Toronto has a decent team, so why are we spending some much time, money and energy on teams like, oh I don't know, the Maple Leafs? I'm not going to rag on Leaf Nation, instead I'm going to suggest sharing the love with your Toronto Rock

Friday, 11 April 2014

It's so big, it's massive (that's what she said?)

This year the AGO celebrated a decade of Massive parties with Massive 10.  So, I put on my party clothes and headed over to the AGO with 1,800 of my closest art-loving friends.  The theme of this year's Massive was a mash-up of internet, sports, decades past, religion and numerology - a perfect 10 

Friday, 4 April 2014

A day at the races

The weather is finally getting warmer and you and your friends are looking to do something outdoors with minimal exertion.  You could opt for an afternoon at the Woodbine Race Track. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

ROM Prom

This year the Royal Ontario Museum is celebrating it's centennial year, so I thought I'd celebrate along with it, get all dressed up and head out to this year's ROM Prom. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Scoping Out the Fishes

I finally made it down to Ripleys Aquarium of Canada.  I can't believe it took me four months to get down there.  The aquarium is in a great location at the foot of the CN tower, next to the Rogers Centre (I totally wrote Skydome on my first try) and the Steamwhistle brewery, so it's not like getting there is a chore and I LOVE aquariums. So really it was only the fear of my own disappointment that was holding be back and what kind of stupid excuse is that?  Especially because the aquarium is actually really awesome. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Trampoline dodgeball, really?

Photo credit: Jessica Douglas Photography
Yes, really.  I don't know who thought to put these two things together, but I'm  glad they did.  It could've been bad, like season 5 of Full House when Michelle combines tuna and ice cream bad, but this experience will definitely not leave that weird aftertaste in your mouth.  Promise.

(Disclaimer: if you eat a giant meal before trampolining and throw up in your mouth a little, that's totally on you.  I am not responsible for that bad taste in your mouth. Why would you do such a thing?) 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

It's Party and Bull$hit with a side of Ice Cold Dranks

Ever experience something truly awesome and want to tell everybody about it but then catch yourself because you're worried that it'll get too popular?  I do.  I hate it when Toronto Life writes about my favourite spots in the city.  They're never the same after that.  But I'm writing this blog and I can't let my party people down, so here it is: 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Bathroom Reno Part 2

When I first purchased my home I did not have enough funds to really tackle the situation in my main bath so I just gave it a little superficial facelift.  Now four years later, I had managed to save enough money to give it the "to the studs" remodel it was begging for. This time however, it was not to be a DIY, but I was going to have contractors come in and do the work for me. This was my first time having other people being totally responsible for the timeline and outcome of a project in my home so I was a little nervous and learned a number of lessons along the way. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

NYE under the Big Top

This year I was put in charge of choosing the NYE party location; a duty dreaded by all.  New Years Eve is often more hassle than it's worth and rarely feels any different from any other night out, but at twice the cost.  With that in mind I set out to find a party a little out of the norm and was thrilled when I discovered that the Gladstone Hotel was hosting a circus themed event.