Month: May 2013

6 Favourite Neighbourhoods & Shops in Toronto

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1. The Distillery District: This historic area of Toronto used to be The Gooderham and Worts Distillery. There are lots of shops and restaurants located in beautiful Victorian Industrial buildings. This is a great place to catch a festival, take photos, go shopping for specialty items (sake, olive oil or chocolate, anyone?), see some art in the galleries and of course, drink!

Favourite Spots

Soma Chocolatiers: Very inventive chocolate. Try the spicy Mayan hot chocolate in the winter!

Greg’s Ice Cream: The best ice cream! Flavours change often.

Balzac’s Coffee: Beautiful two level coffee shop with fresh baked goods.

 Brick Street Bakery: Cheese twists to die for! For serious.

 Getting there: From King or St. Andrew subway station, take the 504 King Streetcar and get off at Parliament.

2. Kensington Market

Where can you grab a Mexican churro, fresh fish, cheese and vintage clothing? Kensington Market, of course.  Half outdoor market and half thrift store, this unique area of Toronto is stuffed with tiny mom and pop shops, fish mongers, butchers and Mexican treats.  Back in the day this used to be a predominately Jewish area. Now, it’s home to hippies and artists and a great place to people watch. In the summer, cars are not allowed and Pedestrian Sunday takes over.

Courage my Love Great for vintage finds, jewelery, post cards, beads, leather string…any and everything.

Pancho’s Bakery: Mmm. Really good churros. Get them plain or filled with chocolate!

Nu Bugels: The best bagels outside of Montreal. Buy them…you won’t regret it!

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All rights reserved by Uncle Lynx

4. Queen Street West

Queen West is where all the cool kids hang out. It used to be that anything below Queen & Spadina was a great area for shopping and finding edgy, unique clothing. Although some stores can still be found there, most have moved west. Head here to visit galleries, hang out in Trinity Bellwoods Park and go shopping.

Favourite Spots:

Fashion Crimes for super fancy, funky dresses and tights.

The Ten Spot for a manicure that will last for days.

The Magic Pony to check out what show they have in their gallery, and to pick up one of a kind jewelry, vinyl toys, notebooks and more.

Arepa Cafe: for freshVenezuela cornmeal sandwiches filled with your favourite toppings. I recommend the Curvy Chick.

Nadege Patisserie for some of the best macaroons and madelines you will ever have. They come in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate!

Gladstone Hotel & Drake Hotel. Great places to stay and hang out with artsy types. The Gladstone always has new shows on it’s second floor gallery (I had an installation here!), and the Drake has a rooftop patio.

Leslieville mural
Some rights reserved by Paul Henman

5. Leslieville

This charming east end neighbourhood has become a foodie destination. Lots of specialty shops have popped up here, including Paulette’s Donuts and Chicken, Rasher’s and the  Leslieville Cheese Market to name a few. This area is also home to a year-round artisan market called Arts Market. Here you’ll find handmade accessories, jewelry and art.

Favourite Spots:

Bobette and Belle: This fab bakery makes delightful cakes, whoopie pies and cupcakes. They also make their own marshmallows!

Le Matin Bakery: The best baguette in the city. Really.

Tango Palace: My favourite coffee shop. Yummy naan sandwiches and orange chocolate tea lattes. Mmm.

 

6. The Beaches

The Beaches are located in the east end of the city, and it’s a popular area for families and yuppies. (really).
Queen Street East has tons of tiny shops and bakeries. Each summer they have a famous Jazz festival. Hang out on the beach (Kew Beach) and catch some fireworks during the summer holidays.

The Pie Shack: Pie, pie and more pie! You can enjoy both savoury or sweet pies here.

The Remarkable Bean:  Good coffee and delicious savory muffins.

Ed’s Real Scoop Ice Cream: Home made ice cream available in an array of delicious flavours! You can get as many flavours as you want in one cone. (within reason!)

Make This! Avocado Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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I don’t really cook. When I venture into the kitchen, my go to tends to be baking. Scones, cakes, muffins…I can do that!

However, when it comes to cooking, I balk. I was really happy to be able to participate in a Mexican Avocado cooking project!
I decided to seize the bull by the horns and create my own dish.

Before this experience, I didn’t realize how versatile and easy avocados can are to cook with! You can put them in salads, cook them, mash them into guacamole or just peel and eat them the way they are. They are also incredibly healthy for you. Avocados contain almost 20 vitamins and minerals, and can actually help lower LDL cholesterol in other foods.

Here’s what I decided to make!

Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breasts
3 avocados from Mexico
8 strips of bacon
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1 tomato
1 red onion
2 tsp of fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp of salt
the juice from half a lime

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1. Slice, peel and pit your avocados. Make sure that your avocados are ripe! They should be slightly squishy when you squeeze them. Slice them into small pieces. With a fork, mash the avocados until it has formed a paste.

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2. In a bowl, dice up the onion and tomato. Mince the garlic, and add to the bowl. Add salt, pepper and lime juice. Pour this mixture into your bowl of avocados. Mix until well combined.
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3. On a cutting board, pound the chicken breasts until thin. Spoon the mixture onto the edge of a chicken breast. Roll the chicken breast tightly into a roll. Wrap each chicken breast with 2 pieces of bacon. Place in baking dish. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes.

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That’s it! You have a fast and easy meal that looks gourmet! My family really enjoyed this dinner. If I could make one change, I would add cheese!

What would you make with Mexican avocados? To find out more about avocados, or to find more recipes, click here!

Win Clever Travel Companion Gear!

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I’m so happy to bring you a giveaway today from Clever Travel Companion, in honour of TBEX!

TBEX is the Travel Bloggers Expo conference that is held around the world. This year, the conference is being held in Toronto  and I’ll be attending! I can’t wait to meet and mingle with tons of new bloggers!

As frequent travelers, bloggers always need good gear. Last year when I was heading to Italy and France, I was researching ways to keep my valuables on me that didn’t scream , “Tourist! Tourist!” Enter Clever Travel.

They design every day items with one extra touch…pockets! Stash your valuables in a pair of boy shorts with a zippered pocket. Pop your passport into your tank top pocket. Going somewhere cold? Bring along their long johns! (they would have been useful for Quebec!)

Not only are they super cute and stylish, they are also incredibly comfortable! I bought the tanktop and underwear for my trip and I was so happy that I did. The large tank top pocket fit my passport and some backup cash. I was able to wear it as a tank top or underneath a zippy sweatshirt.

Today Clever Travel Gear and I are giving one winner the chance to pick one item from their website! Want to win? To enter, tell me the clever place you stash your important things while traveling!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins

Did you know that you touch your eyes over 200 times a day, on average? Think of all of the dirt and toxins that you carry on your fingers and nails! Ick.

Nail polish is essentially loaded with toxins, and have been known to cause a rash of fine bumps below your eyes on sensitive skin.

One company is giving you the tools to choose nail polish that is good for your skin.

Clinique is a company that really cares about your skin, and they put a lot of research into all of their products. Each product is tested 12 times on 600 different people! If one person develops an allergic reaction, they start over. Wow.

Their newest foray is into nail polish! Clinique spent 6 years developing their new polishes. The polishes, A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins  are formulated to minimize skin sensitivity.

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Available in 12 classic  shades and 9 limited edition shades perfect for summer, skin sensitivity has never looked so good. I love how sleek and well branded the bottles are!

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Summer in the City
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Juiced Up

The candy coloured polishes are picture perfect. They go on smooth in thin layers with lots of pigment. They don’t leave streaks and you can get full coverage in 2 strokes. These chip free polishes last up to 2 weeks.

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My all time favourite shade is Juiced Up. The bright cheery coral is perfect for spring and summer. I had to force myself to take it off to try out the other shades! I also think that the bright yellow 70 Degrees and Sunny is gorgeous! Which is your favourite shade? Check them all out here!

Setting the Bubbles Free with SodaStream

 

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Earlier this month, I went to an event that featured SodaStream. Prior to this, I had no idea what a SodaStream machine was. I have a vague memory of a childhood friend having an Italian Soda machine, and that basically sums up my knowledge.

So what is SodaStream? SodaStream is a machine that allows you to turn tap water (any water, really) into a delicious sparkling flavoured drink. You can make your own pop at home! Aside from saving money, this machine can help impact the environment in a positive way. If you are making your own pop at home, then it cuts down on the amount of plastic pop bottles you are consuming.

You can try over 60 flavours with your SodaStream machine, thanks to Kraft. Choose from favourite Kool-Aid flavours, Crystal Lite or go for classics such as lemonade, cherry cola, cream soda and more!

If that wasn’t enough, there’s really nothing stopping you from buying your own syrups and experimenting. I have some serious plans to make a Shirley Temple.

I was given my own SodaStream to try out and to set the bubbles free in my own house! I had a lot of fun setting it up.

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The starter kit is pretty simple to use, and comes with a carbonator bottle, 9 different flavour samples and an easy how-to guide. To set it up, all I had to do was pop the carbonator into the machine. Once that was done, I filled up the 1liter bottle that came inside of my kit with water. I attached it to the machine and pushed down to choose my level of carbonation.

As you push down, the machine lights up to let you know what level of carbonation your drink has. This was lots of fun! I like my drink fizzy, so I pushed a few times.

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And that’s it! You have a deliciously fizzy drink waiting to be enjoyed. This would be really fun to use while entertaining.

What do you think? Would you try a SodaStream machine? Do you own one?

Win a Snacker’s Paradise Prize Pack with popchips!

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Ah…summer. Brighter days and warmer weather leaves me yearning to travel. How about you?

Luckily, you can enter the #snackersparadise contest and cross your fingers and toes that you’ll win!

If you win, you and a guest will be flown to the world-renowned Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico….for a weekend of self-indulgence.

How to enter: Buy any 2 bags of popchips for $5 at Metro, and swipe their AIR MILES card to be entered for a chance to win!

 

The popchips #snackersparadise giveaway includes:

·         Airfare for 2 guests

·         3 nights, 4 days at the Esperanza Resort with an ocean view  casita

·         Two 60 minute massages at the award-winning spa

·         Complimentary fitness classes

·         Daily breakfast

·         $500 U.S in spending money

·         Total value of giveaway: approximately $7,000

 

You have one week left to enter! The contest closes on May 30, 2013. Take a look at the offical rules!

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Summer at the Bier Markt

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It’s officially summer at Bier Markt! They kicked off the season on a sunny day with a perfectly timed patio party. I love going to the Bier Markt, and the Front Street location is a favourite of mine. I actually like going to the Bier Markt for the food. Shh, I’m not much of a beer drinker!

On tap for the evening were four new biers from their spring and summer season. Hop Mason IPA, Houblon Chouffe IPA and Hasseroder Pilsner (exclusive to Bier Markt)

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To be honest, I’m not much of a beer drinker. I prefer very fruity, sparkling cocktails and wines. (My favourite beer is Fruli, which is basically more fruit than beer.) So I won’t get into specifics, but I liked the Hasseroder Pilsner the best. It was light and refreshing.

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Now on to the food! Their executive chef, Michael Cipollo, experimented with Bier Can Chicken using 4 different types of beer. The chicken was so moist and tender.

The sausages were my favourite. The Wurst BBQ featured inventive flavours like Ontario Pork & Orange Zest, Lamb Merguez and Breton Pork & Fennel sausage. The pork and orange zest sausages were surprisingly flavourful. The orange flavour really came through- not something that I’m used to tasting in meat. More, please!

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King Prawns, fingerling potatoes and apple salad.

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Another favourite from the evening were their Rosti Croquette. I don’t think that this is new to the menu, but it was the first time I was tasting it. It was so good and practically melted in my mouth. It consisted of shredded Yukon potatoes, Beemster Classic cheese and creme fraiche.

Hungry? Visit the Bier Markt website to find the location nearest to you. I pretty much plan on spending a good portion of my summer hanging out on the patio and trying out their brunch!

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