BY GUEST BLOGGER, DANIEL LEE
My travel goal is to cultivate an abundance mindset. Not rushing to seek out many places in a day but rather explore a few parts of the city — at a relaxed pace on my bicycle, believing that to see everything is to miss everything.
So hello California! I’m grateful to spend 9 days with you before bouncing off to Hawaii with my family.
During my stay I made 2 cycling trips into San Francisco from the East Bay.
- Taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from downtown Oakland into Mission District to explore the neighbourhood’s vibrancy. ($3.70 USD one way per adult.)
- Embarking on the Jack London Ferry from Oakland into the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Building and riding towards the engineering marvel that is the Golden Gate Bridge. (Fares range from $5 to $6.60 USD one way per adult.)
Here is a recap of my journey and the beauty that I captured through my lens.
Using the Clipper Card (think Toronto PRESTO) to board the BART subway, I ended up with my trusty bike on the 16th Street Mission Station during the early morning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a statutory holiday in the U.S — and was free to roam the empty streets of the Mission District (similar to Kensington Market with its rich history of South & Central American diaspora).
Hey Toronto, hibernation is over! Get outside and let’s play…
March 18 – Harry Potter Yoga ummm yes this is a real thing!
March 22 – Wakeup, workout + dance party at Daybreaker TO Spring Equinox.
March 29 to April 2 – Support artisans and the handmade revolution at the One of a Kind Show. Win a pair of tix here.
March 27 (and ongoing last Fridays of every month) – LegoLand Discovery Centre is not just for kids, but they have an Adults Night for the young at heart.
March 30 to April 2 – Toronto Yoga Conference will host 100,000 downward dogs, de-stressing workshops and mindful community building. Namaste!
You can still go on date nights.
Rejoice! Hubby and I thought we would be forfeiting our 2 date nights a week tradition after CJ was born but it’s three years later and we’re still making it work! Babies are more adaptable than we think. If you train them right from the beginning, they can sleep anywhere. We just had to adjust our dinner time to after 8pm then we would pop CJ in his stroller and take him with us to restaurants, events and yes, he even sleeps through concerts!
Here’s a list of our favourite family friendly restaurants in downtown Toronto.
Carrying a baby or chasing a toddler does not count as exercise!
It didn’t take long for me to get back to my pre-baby weight of 110 lbs but ‘skinny fat’ is a real thing (as a friend subtly hinted at me)! So after three years of fooling myself, I got my less than perky butt back into the gym and enrolled in Class Pass to get fit.
Think you were exhausted that first year? You don’t know what tired is (yet)!
Newborns are intense with all that crying for no reason. And my gosh breastfeeding was a part-time job in itself! But toddlerhood is another beast… to entertain CJ for an hour, I’ve got to think of six different things to do. And every night when he’s asleep, the mom chores continue. Expect to be crawling around picking up toys and cleaning pop stained (toilet training) underwear.
Because of #3 you WILL become that ‘I won’t be like that’ type of Mom.
No iPad until he’s two I told hubby and he agreed. We caved in around 18 months… or else we would get nothing done!
Amira and I go way back. Rewind to 2010 when we used to meet over coffees + cocktails to talk about boys and dream about starting our own businesses. She’s become my little sister and it’s been incredible watching her grow in her career and life. Always putting on a brave face and big smile, she may be little but expect big things from her! Meet Amira de Vera, #GirlBoss and (drumroll…) Founder of Project Four PR.
What’s a day in the life of Amira de Vera like?
This is a bit of a cliché PR answer but no days are really typical for me. I have some days where I am sitting at my desk from 9am till late at night working and then there are some days where I am running from meeting to meeting or accompanying clients to a media interview or photo shoot. One thing that you can find typical and consistent about my daily routine is that I like to insert a one-hour workout in there, regardless of how busy I am. I always, always make time to work out!
You have been talking about starting your own agency since we met and you finally did it. Congrats! Tell us about Project Four PR.
I know! It’s so crazy to think that what I merely dreamed about is now an actual reality!!
Project Four PR is a Sports and Entertainment Public Relations and Management Firm representing some of the country’s top talents in the film, television, sports, music and lifestyle industries. We specialize in personal publicity and management services which includes media relations, brand endorsements, charitable partnerships, red carpet attendance, and digital strategies. Essentially, we turn people into household names.
I have always been passionate about the entertainment and sports industry, particularly in the talents that make it up. Personal publicity always came natural to me and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your clients blossom and grow into their career. Watching other people live their dream and accomplish their highest vision is why I do what I do.
I need answers. And I need them now!
Big shifts are coming for our family + business. All of which I don’t have answers ‘yet’ so trying not to be a control freak of my own destiny. Trust the process, allow the universe to do its thing and time will unveil… repeat mantra!
Uncertainty. A far cry from the 10 year masterplan I mapped out for myself in my twenties. All of which mostly did not come true ha.
I never married my high school sweetheart and moved to Manhattan. But I did meet a man that better compliments and challenges me, one who makes me laugh and love harder than I’ve ever known. And we did briefly live in NYC. And Vancouver. And San Francisco.
I didn’t have two kids by 35. But I did give birth to a darling baby boy at 35.
I got that corporate marketing job I loved but ended up ditching the rat race after ‘accidentally’ starting my own business and blog. I never thought I would actually get paid to eat food, travel and write spa reviews!
As you can see lots of curve balls were thrown at me in the last decade. Some balls I managed to catch and others I chose to swerve. Some I even dropped. Having a solid plan did not make things certain. But it all turned out okay and even better!
And that’s the thing with uncertainty. It gives us the chance to think about what we really want – not what we think we need. (Think about that one because there is a big difference.)
It forces us to live in the moment. No matter how uncomfortable. Because the present is the only thing that is certain.
It encourages us to let go of things, memories and people that create a false sense of energy.
Spring is around the corner and so is the OOAKS! Get ready to shop the handmade creations of more than 400 artisans on March 29 to April 2.
The MarketPlace is NEW this year and will host 40+ emerging makers at this bustling tabletop. Make pom pom keychains at the DIY workshops, enjoy the one of a kind fashion shows and swing by Craft Drinks to sip on samples of small-batch wine and beers.
We are giving away 5 PAIRS of tickets!!
Just leave a comment below telling us what you look forward to the most in spring. We’ll select 5 lucky winners on Friday, March 17 at 11pm. Remember to leave your email or Twitter so we can contact you.
For more information visit oneofakindshow.com and join the Instagram & Twitter conversation with hashtag #OOAKS17.
Hubby and I go on 2 date nights per week. We love trying new restaurants and dinner is ‘our time’ to unplug, talk about our day and spend quality time together without having to fuss over food prep and cleanup. So when we had CJ we were determined to keep this tradition.
So parents, fear not… you can still have kids AND a fancy dinner!
Of course our restaurant choices now have to be a little more strategic. It’s not always a leisurely romantic experience but we’ve made it work by timing dinners (and lunches) to when CJ slept. Or bringing lots of toys (and fortune cookies) to keep him entertained.
We live in downtown Toronto so there is no shortage of great restaurants but here are our favourites spots for family date nights…
Note: not all of these places have high chairs or change tables but they all have friendly staff that do an excellent job accommodating children. They are stroller-friendly and have delicious kid’s menus (or at least, a wide variety of food that cater to fussy little palettes).
Piano Piano, the former Splendido offers a kid’s menu that adults would also want to order from! Chose 3 items and create your own Happy Tray (see above photo) for $12. A play area with a chalk board, games and costumes will keep little ones occupied while you enjoy that second glass of wine. $$$
The Drake Hotel hosts Highchair Hangouts (check their website for the next event). Special guest appearances, art + culture exhibits and even a toddler disco party makes this hipster eatery a hit for the whole fam. Parents also get to indulge in a prix fixe lunch for $18. $$
Pizza Libretto is the perfect spot for family date nights because what kid (and adult) doesn’t like pizza right?! During March Break they host a Pizza Camp for 2-10 year olds. $$
Luckee by Susur Lee is our go to place for dim sum. CJ loves sharing and sampling the little dishes – the bite size portions are perfect for tiny mouths! They have high chairs and the bathroom is big. $$$
Our ad agency turned 6 end of last year and we celebrated at the Googleplex in Mountain View.
As part of winning a mobile marketing challenge (from the Google Partners reward program), we were treated to a tour, lunch and plenty of gourmet snacks. We even got to record a Hangout at the YouTube studio!
Seriously my geek girl dreams have come true!
Did we fool you? We posted this photo on Facebook and so many people told us they thought it was a video and clicked on the YouTube button… gotcha!
The Google Campus sprawls over 2 million sqft so Googlers cruise around on these colourful bikes. To get to/from home to the office, they commute on shuttle buses (wifi enabled of course).
A few years ago I tried Tonica at the Toronto Veg Food Fest and I think it totally beats any soda or iced tea! It’s raw, organic and authentically Canadian. I’ve been a fan since so of course, I had to find out who was behind this refreshing fizzy bevy. Meet Zoey Shamai, the #GirlBoss and Founder of Tonica Kombucha.
What is a day in the life of Zoey like?
Busy! I start each morning with gentle yoga vinyasa and meditation to tune myself in for the day. Then I’ll head to scheduled meetings in the morning with retail buyers and visit existing accounts or suppliers. After that I’ll often pop into Tonica HQ to pow wow with my operations manager and chat with the staff to see what’s up. After lunch I like to head to my gym and work off any stress and get pumped for the rest of the day. From there if I don’t have anything booked I let my intuition guide me and often end up visiting stores and sharing laughs with grocery managers and staff.
Tell us about Tonica Kombucha and how the idea all began.
While studying yoga at a yoga ashram in the US over 10 years ago, I discovered kombucha for the first time. It was amazing for my digestion and I immediately felt a metabolism boost, so we became fast friends! I learned how to make it and soon began brewing it for friends and family. When I returned to Toronto I continued to make kombucha and soon people were asking to buy bottles from me on a regular basis. So as demand grew I learned how to build a commercial kombucha brewery and the business from scratch.
Part of a great vacation is being able to indulge in food and Blue Mountain offers no shortage of great restaurants. Here are my top places for breakfast, lunch and dinner in The Village…
Famous for its ‘All Day Breakfast’, Sunset Grill is a California-style breakfast house with a warm and friendly community atmosphere. The portions are generous at very wallet-friendly prices. It’s my go-to spot to bring my family before hitting the ski slopes or going hiking in the summer.
Craving chocolate chip pancakes, eggs benedict or a club sandwich with home fries? The question is what does this place not serve in their expansive menu?!?!
You can’t miss the iconic Firehall in the middle of the Village. Firehall Pizza Co. serves pizzas (of course!) with every topping imaginable and they all have fun names like High Stakes Porker, Jimmy The Greek and Hawaii Five-O.
It’s the place you come to for your pub fix and comfort foods but feel free to order a heaping salad if you prefer a lighter meal. I recommend the Spinach Salad because I love their tangy mango vinaigrette.