Yoga Unplugged

Last summer we blogged about free outdoor yoga classes in Trinity Bellwoods, Riverdale Park, Jimmie Simpson Park and Dufferin Grove.  I’m happy to say that in addition to all these classes that are going on again this summer, we’ve stumbled upon something even more awesome: Yoga Unplugged – a series of complimentary yoga classes from 889 Yoga held outside on the third floor deck of the Thompson Hotel set to and inspired by a new playlist every week.

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This Saturday’s class is set to the tunes of the Beatles and I plan to rain dance my way through the weekend to make sure I don’t miss it.  The full “set list” is set out below and I have to say, I’m itching to see what hip hop inspired yoga looks like.  Classes are at 4:00, which means they finish just in time to pop up to the Thompson Hotel rooftop bar for a cocktail :)YOGA
If you like the class and want to check out 889’s regular schedule, you’re in luck.  They offer an amazing deal for new guests, with a month of unlimited yoga at their Yonge and King West locations for only $40.

See you on the roof this Saturday!

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NXNE Recap and an Amazing Sandwich

First thing’s first: I’m suffering from post-NXNE depression in a big way. This year’s festival was better than ever. Once again, venues kept to their schedules (some acts even started early! Gasp!), people flowed easily between venues taking in as much music as they could resulting in my never waiting in a line or missing a planned show, and I saw some amazing new bands. From the Yonge & Dundas Square shows, to 3:00am sets with extended bar licenses, to a full afternoon of acoustic music in Trinity Bellwoods park, I had warm fuzzies all weekend. Most importantly, I am a huge fan of some new bands, including St. Lucia, Youth & Gold, Still Corners, Paper Lions and Villagers. I’ve been reading some awesome reviews of the weekend and I’m trying not to get anxious about the sets I missed because contrary to what I want to believe, I can’t do it all! Good news is that I’ve now got a list of bands to keep my eye out for. Here are some great reviews of the week that have me counting down until next year:

http://www.blogto.com/music/2013/06/20_highlights_from_nxne_2013/

http://consequenceofsound.net/2013/06/the-top-15-moments-of-nxne-2013/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/17/nxne-2013-best_n_3455738.html

A few choice shots from the weekend include Eight and a Half (L), the crowd at the Great Hall sitting and taking in Our Founders, and the Great Hearts festival put on by the Young Lions Music Club:

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Summerlicious & Open Roof Festival

With too many festivals and events to count, my love for Toronto grows every summer.  This week marks the start of Summerlicious and the Open Roof Festival, festivals celebrating two of my favourite things: food and movies.

If you live in the city and/or read this blog , Summerlicious is nothing new to you (you can check out our picks for the past Winterlicious here).  Nearly 200 of the city’s top restaurants feature three-course prix fixe menus at cheaper than usual price points ($25-$45 for dinner).  For us, it’s an excuse to try new places we wouldn’t normally frequent and a fantastic way to rationalize the need for brunch at the likes of Sassafraz.  Although the festival doesn’t actually start until July 5th, reservations open June 20th (today for Amex holders!).   If you’re a ‘Licious veteran, then you’ll know that many of the same restaurants participate year after year, but before you proclaim to being over it, check out some of this year’s new additions: the trendy NYC import Momofuko Daisho; Bosk at Toronto’s new boutique hotel, the Shangri-La; Yorkville’s Cafe Boulud at the Four Season’s Hotel; the funky Dundas West establishment Bent (from the spawn of chef Susur Lee); and Mark McEwan’s ONE at Hazelton Lanes.

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Once you’ve bit the I’m-too-cool-for-Summerlicious bullet and called to place your dinner reservations, check out the line up for this year’s Open Roof Festival which kicks off this Thursday with a gala party and live performance by the Sheep Dogs.  If you haven’t been in previous years, here’s what you need to know about the festival: outdoor movie screenings (often of indie-esque films and fun documentaries), opened by a live musical act, accompanied by pop-up food vendors and served with beer!  Sounds good right?  It is, and rumour has it that a lot of this year’s films are set to sell out.  We’ve got our tickets for Gimme the Loot and the Toronto Film Festival’s How to Make Money Selling Drugs is already sold out.

Open Roof 2011
Eat, watch & enjoy, then tell us about your favourites!

 

Father’s Day Gift Guide

You’ve shown your Mother some lovin’ and now it’s time to take the time to appreciate Dad! In case the beginnings of summer have crept up at a crazy speed allow me to remind you to call your Father this Sunday! Whether it’s your own father or your partner you’re shopping for, I’ve got a few ideas to get your creative gift-giving juices flowing. For holidays like Father’s Day, I personally lean towards gifts that encourage spending quality time together or gifting a special experience to be enjoyed.

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Tickets to a baseball game (and an offer to buy the first couple of rounds!), a round of golf to a specific coveted course, or a few laps around a racetrack in the car of his dreams are awesome experiences to gift. Ladies love to be pampered at the spa, but so do men (sometimes secretly, though) and Truefitt  & Hill (Barbers to British Royalty since 1805) is a gentleman’s only barber shop that offers haircuts and shaves like no other. Wine tastings or a bottle of scotch is always a hit, this is a fact. Socks to help make him make his work attire more fun or fancy cuban cigars to be enjoyed with the summer weather are fun, too. I’m sure you’ve been inundated with ideas of BBQ tools and sauces to gift the fathers in your life, but how about a small wood chip smoker box for some experimenting on the grill? Consider pairing it with some different types of wood chips for an extra special touch.

And finally my favorite: a cute, witty card. In Toronto, my go-to is the Blue Banana in Kensington Market for awesomeness like this:

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Happy Father’s Day to all, but especially to my awesome Dad! xo

Weekend Escape: The Old Mill Inn

I had a birthday recently in the midst of an extremely busy time.  I wasn’t particularly interested in parties or presents and my boyfriend came through in the most perfect of ways: with a surprise weekend escape to one of Toronto’s hidden oases, the Old Mill Inn.

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The Old Mill is a heritage boutique hotel with 57 deluxe rooms, a luxurious on-site spa, an old world style pub & jazz bar and a 300-seat fine dining restaurant surrounded by 6 acres of parkland.  Situated along the picturesque Humber River the Old Mill feels like an idyllic country retreat despite being a short subway ride from Toronto’s downtown core.

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After checking in, we took a stroll along the cobblestone pathways and bubbling stream before changing into plush robes for a romantic fireside couples massage in the spa and ultimately retreating to our room to enjoy a bottle of wine and a movie in our gargantuan bubble filled whirlpool tub.

Feeling slothful (in the best possible way), we opted for dinner in the cozy candlelit Home Smith Jazz Bar instead of the large formal dining room and snacked on truffle covered sliders, a cheese plate and other gastronomic delights before being surprised by our waitress with two glasses of my new favourite bubbly (a VQA named Lily which we have yet to find at the LCBO), which later became the perfect accompaniment to the full size gourmet chocolate treats left on our pillows.

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Included in our stay was an impressive continental breakfast complete with smoked salmon, chocolate croissants and, in our case, more champagne.  Reluctant to change out of my plush robe and rejoin civilization, Jason was kind enough to bring breakfast back to our room, which we enjoyed in our insanely comfortable over-stuffed king size bed.  When check out time came I attempted to hide out in yet another bubble bath, but was eventually coaxed out with a promise to return again next year.

Even if an overnight stay isn’t in the budget, it’s worth the trip to the Old Mill for afternoon tea, a walk along the river and a drive through the charming surrounding neighbourhood.