January is finally over…And the countdown to Valentines Day; is officially on. I believe that Valentines Day is an important time to focus on what is important to you, who and what you love. Personally, I like to celebrate by doing something together and spending money that way. This may be at a restaurant, spa, cafe, hotel or anything else that may capture that special moment. I have been dating my boyfriend Adam; for over 4 years and to me, Valentines Day is just another excuse to go out for dinner and order tons of yummy things. Although, thats not where this post is going. I will actually be focusing on the material gift side of things. I know how challenging it can be for both men and women to pick out the perfect gift and sometimes you may even feel a bit lost. Whether you have been dating for months or years; it can be a procsess for present purchasing.
I have included some fun, romantic and sweet shoppable gift guides down below for both guys and girls. Hope this helped and feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.
I know that getting a gift for your boyfriend can be overwhelming and stressful. Thankfully, my boyfriend never asks/wants anything specific and actually encourages me to just buy what I think will look good on him. I have grown to understand and know how to shop his style over the years; But, It wasn’t always that easy. Most of the time reading a man’s mind is basically impossible, So if you need some ideas; I have selected some of my faves.
Saje Wellness just opened their store at Scarborough Town Centre. I first discovered this company about a year ago on social media and had been dying to get myself a diffuser from them. They make essential oils which are 100% natural and are distilled from so many plants. This means flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, and trees. They are distilled and harvested from all around the world depending on where that plant grows naturally. Each of the essential oils offers different healing purposes and depending on the oil, can be applied directly on the skin or diffuser.
What originally interested me in Saje Wellness is that they are based out of Canada. They provide a natural and safe way to heal your body from all sorts of ailments. Most of the time, using chemicals to heal your body will result in future complications. I have honestly used my diffuser to heal a headache, get a better sleep and give me a refreshed feeling when I wake up.
I recommend trying out a diffuser from Saje even if you just want to freshen up a room in your house. My bedroom can get a bit stuffy sometimes or will even smell like whatever was cooked for dinner. As soon as I turn the diffuser on, it transforms my room and makes the air feel clean and smell fresh. I love my diffuser and use it every night, I can’t help it!
This is a healthy, refreshing version of a strawberry daiquiri. So easy to make and will be even better as the weather starts the heat up! I use the Ninja Blender and I have never been disapointed with it.
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (about 3 large strawberries)
Stress can be a huge problem for many of us and sometimes it can seem impossible to manage. It can be difficult to avoid the feeling of being stressed and at times, can be even harder to de-stress yourself. I find that really focusing on that one thing at a time is the best way to eliminate stress. Another thing that I find really helpful, is to develop a healthy habit. (Thank me later for this one). You will learn so many great things about yourself that you didn’t know you were capable of. Whether it’s cooking or baking, taking a fun class, doing something crafty or eating healthier. I recently picked up some knitting needles and started to make a blanket for myself to snuggle up in. Hard to believe I’m 20 when I have the same hobbies as a 70-year-old woman.
Aside from the tips I listed above, I also like to visit a few of these places down below.
This morning a visited Civello for a massage. I felt tense before I arrived and was in desperate need for some “me” time. I always request Arlene when getting spa services done at Civello on Queen because of my previous positive experience. She is very sweet and does an amazing job. I highly recommend booking your appointment with her. After my massage was done, I felt amazing and refreshed. The experience at Civello is one of a kind and really helped me de-stress.
For the first time today, I tried a breakfast bowl from Village Juicery. I have heard a lot of great stuff about their juices and they are pretty popular on social media. They run a small pop-up in Lulu Lemon on Queen West. I love the minimalist look that the company uses on their packaging. I got the Probiotic bowl with Coconut Yogurt, Chia Seeds, Hand Made Sunflower Seed Milk, Seasonal Fruit, Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Hearts, and Vanilla. This made me feel awesome because I began my day with a healthy meal.
Honestly, I haven’t done this in a while but when I was regularly going to classes; I felt amazing. Boxing @ Clancys is such a fun and easy way to make your stress disappear. Hitting the punching bag can be a relief for your stress or anger. The instructor Kristina, was always motivating and fun. I recommend taking one of her classes, she is very helpful and informative.
This past weekend I was invited to a Winterlicious menu tasting at Hawthorne Food and Drink. The restaurant is located on Richmond Street East with easy parking and is 100% wheelchair accessible. They are open Monday-Friday for breakfast and lunch and Tuesday-Friday for dinner. They open Saturday and Sunday for Winterlicious only.
Hawthorne Food & Drink’s sole purpose is to give back to the community and deliver farm to table meals. The restaurant serves delicious dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients. They also provide careers for people in need of skills and employment. I love that the staff were passionate about their jobs and carried a friendly attitude. Hawthorne’s menu changes often and takes inspiration from the farms of Ontario and the neighborhoods of Toronto. The presentation of the food was always creative and artistic which I enjoyed the most. This restaurant was a bit out of my element when it came to certain textures and concepts. The flavors were incredibly bold and pungent at times which I also wasn’t expecting for some dishes.
It was very sweet that the Chefs at Hawthorne wanted us to taste their famous pickled platter but most of the pickling just was not for me. There are not a lot of things that I WON’T eat but unfortunately, blue cheese is one of them and that was a part of this massive spread of pickled foods. The platter also included two different types of boiled eggs. Tumeric and Beet, both which were bold and tangy. This is a great option for someone who appreciates pickled foods!
Wontons+Tartare * (Can be made GF), (Local)
The servers and Chefs were all wonderful and accommodating when it came to choosing a gluten free dish. Instead of the Tartare being served with wontons we substituted with watermelon radish slices. The tartare was served a huge portion size and was big enough to share. The taste was good but this ain’t no beef carpaccio.
Daily Croquette Poutine * (Local)
This was a creative spin on the “poutine” I thought I was ordering. Really crispy, which I loved and the gravy was perfect. Was tasty, although I did not really taste the cheese in the dish.
Jerk Pork * (Can be made GF), (Local)
Pork belly on top of a rice and edamame cake. The flavors in this dish were bold, especially in the jerk sauce. This dish was awesome but I would personally like it better if the pork was jerk seasoned, not just the thick paste globbed on top. It was a bit difficult to evenly disperse the jerk “sauce” evenly. Some bites getting too much jerk and others not getting any at all. Overall this dish was good and glad it was gluten free. Also really enjoyed the presentation and look of the candied decor.
Just by looking at this dish, I was impressed. It was a fair portion size and felt like I was eating clean and healthy. The red and puffed quinoa were light yet filling and the roasted carrots were well done. Topped with coconut-ginger velouté, which kind of tasted like green curry to me…This was AWESOME.
Pasteis de Nata – Portuguese Egg Tart * (Local)
I was expecting a bit more from this, probably because I work in a bakery and love egg tarts. The taste was really nice and light but I found that it wasn’t cooked enough. It was a bit rubbery and jello like, which I’m not familiar with or fond of. The crust on top was delicious and I kind of wanted more of it.
This was a nice choice for a Gluten-free dessert, minus the cake crumbles on top. The taste was very healthy and did not really feel like I was eating dessert. Not typically a “sweet” I would crave because I am more of a chocolate dessert kind of girl but, it was well done for what they were trying to achieve.
Thank you Hawthorne Food and Drink for having me it was an awesome experience!
R&D ( Rebel and Demon ) is a restaurant that I had been to before, but this year I really wanted to try their Winterlicious menu. We decided to go for lunch and would I would definitely go again. Owned by Eric Chong, MasterChef winner and Michelin-starred chef and MasterChef judge, Alvin Leung. This time we actually got the chance to sit at the Chefs Table and talk to Eric. I was a huge fan of him while he was competing on MasterChef Canada, so this was really exciting. Made my experience at R&D all the more enjoyable.
Appetizer – Glass Noodle Salad (vegetarian)
Each course was amazing and something unique. The cold noodle salad was so refreshing and full of flavour. I liked the choice of vegtables they used here. Topped with a sweet miso vinaigrette, this appetizer was overall a good pick!
Entree – Seafood Curry
I had never tried seafood curry before but this one will be hard to beat! They load the rich and creamy curry with seafood, I was impressed with the amount of food they give with the lunch for Winterlicious. This dish does not actually come with the coconut rice, it was an additional cost. Although this really did bring the dish all together, I couldnt imagine the curry without it.
Dessert – Sticky Toffee Pudding (vegetarian) OR Lychee Panna Cotta
The Toffee Pudding was not much of a pudding. I was not expecting the cakeyness consistancey of the “pudding” , but I loved it! Huge size dessert, big enough to share. Steamed Malaysian date cake, maple caramel, vanilla ice cream and pineapple.This was a great choice. I also got to try the Lychee Panna Cotta with Macerated blackberries, housemade granola with ginger. This was light but an amazing dessert, i actually prefered this one over the Toffee Pudding.
It’s that time of year again boys and girls! The moment when you feel like you just bought that special someone something. Not even 2 months after Christmas, the lovely Valentine’s Day quickly approaches. As much as I do like material things, nothing compares to a gift from the heart. A handwritten letter or card are always amazing to get on Valentine’s Day, makes you feel thought about and cared for. Homemade gifts are always fun and sentimental, something that I personally appreciate the most.
If you are stuck for gifts this year for that special woman in your life, here are a few cute and fun ideas.
A quick visit to Montreal calls for some amazing food at Maggie Oakes. I had heard great things about this beautiful restaurant and had been wanting to try it myself. The restaurant was unique and was like nothing I had seen before. The decor was simple and elegant and so was the food ( simple in a good way ). We enjoyed a few drinks to go along with our feast and really did enjoy ourselves.
I loved the way that the ingriedients they use in the dishes were incorporated into decorative statement pieces. On one side of the restaurant they had a wall covered in a display of fresh growing greens, spices, and plants. All edible, all used in creating the perfect menu options. On the opposite end of that, was the meat. Aged meat, sealed up in glass showcases. I had never seen anything like this and thought it was so different and awesome.
The drinks were amazing and fairly priced. They were not your average cocktails which I liked! Light and not overly sweet, great for a huge dinner.
Everything we ordered, we shared. I love going with a larger group that enjoys the same type of food as you. We tried the sweet potato and leek soup, which had nutmeg sour cream. It was fresh and was a great start to the evening. We also tried the beetroot duo, which was a dish with arugula, roasted walnuts, toasted goat cheese. This was incredible, so rich and decadent!
The main that I ordered was the linguini with butternut squash. It was hard to decide because, I kid you not…everything on the menu sounded amazing but this definitely caught my eye. I am a fan of pretty much anything butternut squash. The pasta was very filling but the pecorino shavings, toasted pecans and sage all came together to create an unforgettable dish. I also got to try the sweet potato ”manicotti” with homemade ricotta, roasted red pepper sauce. I thought this was very unique and had a modern twist on the classic manicotti recipe. I loved this and I am going to try and make this at home!
We also ordered the grilled bavette to share amongst the group. This was served with green tomato chime-churri, french fries and a homemade ketchup. It was all great but the bavette was honestly nothing that special. It was good, but nothing to rave about.
The burger on the other hand, was great! Topped with La Savaging cheese, Kumato tomatoes, bourbon glazed onions, and homemade ketchup. As if that burger wasn’t enough it also came with fries.
Overall an amazing dinner at Maggie Oakes and would love to come back and try the brunch. Next time I visit Montreal, I know exactly where to go.