Several moons ago when I was an acting student one particular teacher ran a workshop that started with us writing down all of our favourite.....pretty much everything. His theory was that knowing that you prefer the colour green, or pizza vs. banh mi or a particular book goes a long way to knowing who you are. Like the building blocks of identity (or in that case, building whatever character we were playing). Now, overall, we're all more complex than that, but I think he was on to something. I had a tough time with the list then, so I make a point of regularly reviewing and revisiting my faves - because let's face it, they can change all the time. So here's a list of some of my stand-outs as 2015 draws to a close.
Of all the vices to have, carbonated water isn't so bad, right? I'm pretty much obsessed with it. So no wonder I was super excited when I got my first Soda Stream machine a few years back. Bubbles anytime, all the time! But this year I got my hands on the ultimate Soda Stream experience, the Soda Stream Power. This sleek little number is electrically powered and provides one of three levels of carbonation at the push of a button. Seriously, I'm addicted. I use my soda stream to make just plain fresh sparkling water, add one of their umpteen amazing flavour options available (Free Green Tea Lychee flavour is delicious) or.....when I get nostalgic for my mixology days (because I was also a bartender several moons ago) it's my go-to. (Hint: check out this recipe).
Mais Oui (ou Non.....)
Because it's a person's prerogative to make up their own mind. And then change it, when necessary. While looking as good as possible. Toronto-based Haathi House makes fine jewellery with plenty of style and whimsy. Feeling positive? Don the 14" or 16" Mais Oui Cherie necklace in 14 k white, yellow or rose gold. Pair it with the matching and/or contrasting Non necklace in the same range of options. Keep them guessing. Or send a very clear message. It's up to you. (Also can't get enough of the Black Diamond Black Gold (!) cluster rings if you or your honey are in the mood to splurge.)
Frings. The Prius. Ligers. Grapples. Who doesn't love a hybrid? The folks at Nike have given you another fine specimen of cross-pollination. The Air Max sneakers you know and love have just the thing for weathering the colder months. Waterproof and comfortable as you think they would be, the Air Max 1 Mid Sneakerboot for Women will have you gliding through winter on a cloud of....well, you know. And looking fiiine all the way.
Early Bird Special
I'm not sure exactly when it started, but I know it was after my son was born and my own personal schedule of eating, socializing, and living in general was thrown way wayyy off. La Cubana is known for all sorts of delicious at both of their Toronto locations, such as Guava Braised Short Ribs and Pressed Cubano Sandwiches. But NOW they have their Happy Hour(s) menu, that is just the thing if your schedule skews towards extra late lunch or (like me, 'cause some days the wee man has me awake at 5 am) extra early dinner. From Monday to Friday, between 4- 6 pm, there is a different $10 special each night. The Friday night special, which is the Pork Belly Plate plus a very legit daquiri is particularly magical. I don't know what they do to that pork belly, but it's a revelation. How all of that is possible for ten bucks is a mystery to me. And I've had pork belly just a few times (wink) in my lifetime. Extra bonus: the staff at the Ossington location (my local) are also awesome.
Local and Lovely
Forget those so-called Angels. Sometime in the last decade, Toronto has become ground zero for a mix of the sexiest and most functional lingerie out there. Our homegrown talent is killing it in the skivvies department. So much for Hogtown's stuffy reputation. Of course Fortnight Lingerie continues to make waves with it's retrosassy collection that is as known for it's impeccable fit (hello, small band sizes!) as much as its fashion-consciousness. It doesn't get much more beautiful than the Ivy collection, IMHO. But......newcomer Knixwear especially gets the needs of those of us that are athletically-inclined but still love feminine styling. Seamless, moisture-wicking and even leak proof panties and bras that fit into your lifestyle. I'm particularly fond of the Knixy Air Boyshorts in Performance Lace. I've had a sneak peak at their Evolution Bras, and eagerly await their arrival to market. So should you.
Opening up juuuust in the nick of time for the 2015 Holiday season, Nugateau Patisserie is Toronto's first pastry shop dedicated to my all-time favourite, the eclair. These guys make sparkly delicious magic happen with choux dough, all within an alarmingly dangerous stone's throw of where I live. I've had the pleasure of dropping in and sampling the Salted Caramel and Persian Pistachio (which was literally sparkly) flavours and they were everything I was looking for: not too sweet, dough that was soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, with delicious filling and icing. Almost too pretty to eat. Ha.
Maintain balance as we rocket out of 2015 and into 2016 (ughhhhh, already!?!?!) and keep your mind and body active. There is no magic shortcut for this. I promise you that discipline and work are the only way to build muscle and stay fit. BUT....you can totally have fun doing it. Ok full disclosure here, I'm a Stott Certified Pilates Instructor, and I do teach at Misfit Studio (though I'm on mat leave at the moment). But trust me.....Pilates is one of the most brilliant integrations of body work and mindfulness. Not familiar with how awesome mat or reformer Pilates are? Then you need to get your booty on over to Misfit Studio and find out how magical of an environment your workout space can be. On a side note, few things will shape that booty of yours like working on the reformer Just saying. Should you be looking for a little something for that special Misfit in your life, they also have gift certificates.