Furniture For Your Condo Or Small Home

13th February 2017

Condo Generation

I curated this list in 2010 when I bought my first condo… now I’m on condo number three (and married with a rambunctious toddler)!

Choosing to raise our family in downtown King West, I know all about maximizing small spaces. If you recall Toronto Life’s cover story 2 summers ago, that was my little family featured in an article called ‘Condo Generation’.

When it comes to furniture shopping, the experience can be overwhelming and frustrating – not to mention, the huge dent it puts in your wallet. So here’s my list of places (beyond Ikea!) that I found during my own quest to seek out stylish furniture that is of good quality, design and reasonably priced. Happy Shopping!

Condo Furniture

KROFT: designs and makes beautiful handcrafted furniture right here in Toronto. Condo dwellers and small home owners will especially appreciation their collection of bedroom, dining and living room furniture with clean lines and modern finishes. They also meticulously customize pieces. $$$

Design Republic: my fave store because how can you not love a place where their mantra is “Furniture for the People”? Whether you are searching for the edgiest modern sofa, design classics or industrial and vintage pieces, you can find it here at their Queen West showroom. Great service and custom solutions available as well. I bought most of my living room furniture here and they made me a cool custom wooden bench! $$$

Modern Sensibility: find your stylish condo furnishings here without paying an arm and leg. They don’t sacrifice on quality and are proudly Canadian owned. Lots of double-duty furniture and sale items too! $$

Urban Mode: a hidden gem and another one of my favourite shops. This place is not very big but it is owned by a couple of very friendly knowledgeable ladies. They do have some condo furniture on display as well as lots of cool decor pieces and the popular Chilewich mats in all sizes and colours. $$

CB2: a modern destination from Crate and Barrel that will furnish every room in your modern apartment, loft or home without too much denting in your wallet. Conveniently located in condo land on the corner of Queen West & Bathurst. $$

BoConcept: furniture in their collection is functional, contemporary, timeless and comfortable. They also provide an in-home design consultation service and turn-key furniture solutions so that you can move in or have your rental property fully furnished in less than three weeks. $$$

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Organic Raw Food & Juice Cleanse

8th February 2017

Collard Wrap

I never realized how often I thought about food until I did this detox. Like twice every hour, at least!

I had falafel cravings. I walked into a bagel shop and walked right back out remembering that I was not allowed to eat! Then on my way to pickup my son from Montessori School, I thought about how yummy it would be to share a granola bar with him. Well not today.

Giving up eating for 2 days is a pretty big deal for me!

But all in the name of health right?! I commit to doing one cleanse annually and this year, I went with Belmonte Raw. Their Beginner’s Cleanse is made for active lifestyles – it’s higher in calories which is just what this working momma needs!

The cleanse was delivered to my door at 7am and included 8 cold-pressed juices + 4 organic raw meals. My breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 48 hours.

I chose Monday to start my cleanse and this is how it went…

7:30am

As recommended, I woke up and had 1 litre of room temperature water with lemon.

8:30am

Between attempting to get dressed while chasing around my toddler to get him prepped for school, I sipped on the Antiox Smoothie: a pretty purple anti-oxidant and anti-aging concoction of blueberries, almond, oat, vanilla, chia, dates and acai. I liked that it was flavourful but not overly sweet.

10:30am

Checked emails and did a light 30 mins workout + 10 mins of meditation (with Headspace) before being rewarded with Clarity: lemon, ginger and carrot juice, all great for skin nourishment. I was feeling alive and focused. I’ve got this!

12:00pm

Yay lunch time! Yes, in this cleanse you are allowed to eat (a bit). I chowed down on the Collard Wrap made with crunchy veggies like cauliflower, jicama, carrots and drizzled with madras cashew curry dressing. Yum! This was my favourite meal out of the four.

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How I Beat The Winter Blues With Light Therapy

5th February 2017

Philips Wake-up Light

My morning routine goes something like this…

Alarm #1 goes off. I stir and hit snooze. Then alarm #2 goes off. I’m annoyed but not enough to get out of bed. By alarm #3, I want to quit life. Sounds familiar?

The struggle is real!

To help combat fatigue and the winter blues, Philips sent over two buddies to help me wake up and stay up!

The Philips Wake-up Light is a light therapy device that has replaced my alarm clock. For the last few weeks, instead of being jarringly awoken abruptly by noise, I arose to gentle sounds and light that simulated the morning sun.

Philips Light Therapy

How it works: I set my alarm at 7:15am and it goes off to either the FM radio or one of 2 natural sounds. BUT at 6:45am (or 30 mins before your set wake-up time), the clock lights up prepping your body to wake up – dimly at first then it gets brighter. To turn off the ‘alarm’ just tap anywhere on the surface.

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My New Year’s Solutions

3rd February 2017

New Year Resolutions

Happy Lunar New Year! 

It’s the year of the fire rooster, the tenth sign of the Chinese zodiac which is associated with productivity and protection. So this year, we can all look forward to progress, honour and integrity.

Every year for as long as I can remember I’ve more or less been making the same resolutions… and breaking them. This year, I decided to create a list of solutions instead.

So here are 5 things to help me live a more happy and balanced life that I can actually commit to…

1) Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking!  

Those who know me know I have the attention span of an Instagram story so I’m really going to have to work on this one by learning how to better prioritize, stay focused and avoid procrastination.  I truly believe I’ll get way more done if I worked on completing one task before moving onto the next rather than juggling several things at once.  Part of the problem though is I get bored easily and like having many options!

2) Be in the present.

This means actually being more social and less glued to media. Hubby reminds me that I REALLY don’t need to document my entire life on Instagram!!

3) Allow myself to do absolutely nothing (and not feel guilty).

I’m always running around doing something, anything! I was talking to a friend just the other day and blew her away when I told her that I basically NEVER travel without my laptop. Even on my honeymoon, babymoon and every trip in between, this Macbook has crossed oceans and should have it’s own frequent flyer card! I don’t always work but knowing it’s within arms reach comforts me. So this year, I’m really going to try to stop being ‘super mom’ and be okay with it… okay to go to bed knowing my little boy’s toys are all over the floor, okay to leave that email unanswered for another few hours, okay not to feel obligated to go out with friends and of course, okay with saying no!

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What To Expect When You Get An Oxygen Facial + Special Promo

31st January 2017

Holts Spa

Last week, I took a mommy time-out at the Holts Salon and Spa where I was treated to a 60 mins oxygen facial.

The wonders this type of facial can do to dry winter skin!

Asmeret, my esticician was all about making me feel comfortable and relaxed, explaining every step of this “miracle facial” that many celebs swear by.

Unlike your typical spa facial with luxurious smelling creams and golden potions, this one is all about ‘results’ – so hydration and rejuvenation to help eliminate toxins, tiredness and signs of aging.

Asmeret first cleansed my face, then exfoliated it with a grainy scrub before applying warm steam for 3 mins to open up my pores. After some brief extraction around my nose area, she applied a fruit-based enzyme peel and left it on for 10 mins while she offered me a lovely hand and arm massage. The peel felt tingly but not stinging which meant it was doing it’s thing of removing dead skin cells to ‘reboot’ the skin naturally.

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Restaurant Openings: Tabülè Bayview Village

28th January 2017

Tabule1c

BY GUEST BLOGGER, TIFFANY VITTI

Tabülè is known throughout Toronto for their consistently delicious Middle Eastern cuisine.

Its 11am but mixologist Nishan Nepulangoda (of Blowfish) insists on starting off with either a tequila or gin based cocktail. I choose the tequila based ‘Arabian Chiquita’. A sweet citrus drink served in a martini glass, the green chartreuse and basil add unique herbal notes.

Tabule7c

We are also served a Watermelon Sangria and both drinks are refreshing and light which will no doubt counter the richness of the food.

The starters begin to flow from the kitchen, home made Hümmus, Babaganüj and Labni in generous portions are quickly devoured. With my warm pita I kept reaching for the Labni, a homemade yogurt cheese that is topped with garlic & Lebanese spice. It is incredibly creamy and showcases the point of simple done well.

Tabule5c

Next we were served the namesake Tabülè, a parsley salad with bulgur (a grain similar to couscous), tomato, and lemon + mint oil dressing. It adds a much needed herbal element to the previous dips.

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3 Things To Do Before You Call It Quits

24th January 2017

Sparkler

Who really likes to admit defeat? I’m especially not one to back down from a challenge. As a matter of face, I’ve got one of those relentlessly determined personalities where I want to turn every #loss into a #win.

From working out, to mundane tasks, jobs or even quitting relationships, think of the last time you threw in (or thought about throwing in) the towel. Did you rationalize why it’s wasn’t worth it or create road blocks (I just didn’t have enough time!) or were you simply afraid of failure or rejection?

Even if it’s uber unpleasant I assure you there is a way to turn it around. Maybe you won’t ever love it but you’ll at least learn to appreciate it more. Here are 3 tips to help you not quit and I promise you will feel much better knowing you conquered it!

1) Get a liability partner

There’s no shame in admitting you can’t do it on your own. That’s where friends and mentors come in. A liability partner is someone who holds you accountable for _________. So find someone who you can share a very honest relationship with, someone who will call you out for slacking off and who’ll be your cheerleader to keep you on track and on the path to success.

2) Change things up one variable at a time

A lot of my friends have joined running clubs and some have even become marathon fanatics but I never really liked running. When Nike Women released their gorgeous new line of active wear, my interest in exercise piqued because who doesn’t want to buy cute outfits and fancy shoes right?! But my running career was short lived.

Then one crispy fall day, I dropped off my son at Montessori School and had to rush back to do something else. So I ran all the way home. And I loved it.

Nothing really changed except I accidentally discovered that I prefer running in the cold!! All the other times, I would run outside when it was warm or inside on a treadmill (boooring).

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8 Places To Have Valentine’s Day Dinner

23rd January 2017

Valentines Dinner

Cafe Boulud

Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville is serving up a fancy 4 course prix-fixe dinner for $125. Mains include a choice of roasted venison, sautéed squid, braised short rib or duck magret. Head to d|bar after for a romantic nightcap.

Epic

Experience 1940’s dining with a touch of modern elegance at the Fairmont Royal York from Feb 11-14. This 5 course prix-fixe dinner is served with a complimentary glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne for $99.

Daisho Momofuku

Located on the third floor of a glass cube in the heart of the city, this intimate prix-fixe menu is offered to parties of two for $194. Enjoy a sampling of fluke, grilled strip loin, dungeness crab, sides and molten lava cake.

The Carbon Bar

From the wood fire pit with all the fixins’, feast on a 5 course menu for $75. Add on oysters for $3 per piece. The Chaucer’s Heart Truffle made with pink lemonade, tea infused ganache + dark chocolate sounds divine!

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Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain

21st January 2017

Scandinave Spa Blue

Every year hubby and I retreat to Scandinave Spa to unplug and relax. From downtown Toronto, it’s a 2.5 hour drive heading North West. There truly is no better way than indulging in a Nordic bath experience to unwind and reset!

Scandinave Spa Winter

This outdoor spa is situated on 25 acres of tranquil forested mecca. So turn off your phone, refrain from taking selfies and use your spa voice!

The experience begins with sitting in a wood-burning Finnish sauna or eucalyptus steam room for about 10 minutes. This helps open up pores and begin the detoxifying process.

Scandinave Spa Summer

Next comes the cold plunge! In the winter, you can lie in the snow and make snow angels. Yes, it’s wickedly cold but the purpose of the plunge is to enhance blood circulation, increase heart rate and close the pores. The key is to step right into the cold pools rather than taking your time to meander in.

The third phase is my favourite – ahhhh relaxation. Melt your worries and stress away in one of the 3 hot baths, soak in the thermal and nordic waterfalls or rest in one of the solariums with a book.

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Hip Urban Girl: The End Of An Era

17th January 2017

HipUrbanGirl The End

It’s a bittersweet day for me because we just wrote our last post on my other blog.

Some of you may know me from Hip Urban Girl. HUG produced over 2400 valuable and fun posts. No doubt it represented a very carefree time in my life when I was thriving in my career, had a large social network and the freedom to jet set around the world.

I started writing 6 years ago and haven’t stopped.

Not to say I don’t know how to have a good time anymore and have morphed into a dinosaur overnight (hey, I’m a still a hip + urban mom!) but priorities shift as you  begin decluttering and ‘editing’ life.

The next chapter…

The last 6 years have brought some of the greatest changes in my life.

Marriage. Different jobs. Starting an ad agency. Becoming a Mother in 2013!

Inevitably I’ve changed and so has my brand.

Meanwhile Lisa, the other half of HUG also moved to Portland, OR and has created her own stories.

Wendy 2017 City Refinery

So it is only natural that our content evolves with us. It feels right and there is no better time than now to close one chapter and open a new one.

City Refinery is a lifestyle website filled with things I love, inspiration and organized chaos.

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