My 2016 Revolution

Dance All Night, Sleep All DayAlthough I would love to be able to dance all night and sleep all day, it’s not realistic at this point in my life (but you should have seen me 10 years ago!). These days you’ll find me working hard, spending time with my boy, family and friends, travelling and on occasion indulging in a few delicious vices. In short, I’m enjoying life!

However, the first day of 2016 has me reflecting on the past year. This is the time we all start making resolutions on how the next year will be different from the previous one. And inevitably, the resolutions are broken and guilt sets in. But not this year! This 2016 will be the year I embark on a REVOLUTION!

Instead of the age old “New Year, New You” motto I always fall into, I’m jumping aboard the “New Year, Better You” train. I’m in a great place in my life and I love it. I don’t need a new me or a new life. The one I’ve created for myself is pretty darn good. So this year, instead of trying to fix something that isn’t broken, I will work on making it even better. It’s a more positive and fun way to look at the year ahead.

I hope you join me in welcoming the New Year 2016 in a revolutionary way!

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Toronto Christmas Market 2015

Crowds at the Distillery District, TorontoSince the Toronto Christmas Market took up residence in the Distillery District six years ago, I have been making plans to drop in for a visit and scope out all the fun I’ve been hearing about from friends who live in the city. Based on traditional German and Austrian holiday street markets that have been around since the 1400s, the Toronto market is a beautiful and traditionally European way to celebrate the onset of Advent and the holiday season.

And even though a glance outside will remind you that it still doesn’t feel like winter is here, the boy and I took advantage of a warm, grey weekend afternoon to finally visit the festive event everyone is talking about.

The popularity of the market has grown exponentially with each of its successive years. In fact, the Disitllery District boasted over half a million visitors last year over its 21 day run. This year, to curb some of the crowds, an entrance fee of $5 during the weekend was instituted as a means of crowd control. However, the market is not-for-profit and the money is donated to a number of charities including the Daily Bread Food Bank and Plan Canada. Plus, visits on Tuesday to Friday remain free of charge.

Retail facades in the Distillery District, TorontoBrick pavement, Distillery District, TorontoThe Saucy Milliner, Distillery District, Toronto I felt like I was stepping back in time as we wandered among the crowds. Making our way down the pedestrian-only brick cobbled streets we admired the large brick buildings and retail spaces, cafes, and galleries. The District once housed the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, and now represents the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.

Pedestrians, Distillery District, TorontoDrinking garden, Distillery District, TorontoFood stall, Distillery District, TorontoCeramic gifts, Distillery District, TorontoAt the epi-centre of the festive set up stands the 50 foot tall tree, a wonder to behold, and decorate! More than 18,000 lights are sprinkled throughout the branches and act as a beacon to a stage that is set up next to it. Apparently, this year saw more than 320 performances presented to the visitors.

Christmas Tree, Distillery District, Toronto  Susan Harris Design, Distillery District, TorontoMistletoe sign, Distillery District, TorontoThe biggest draw of the Christmas market are the variety of gift and food vendors that line the streets of the district. We indulged in the sampling of traditional German fare like giant pretzels and hot sausages, and dipped into warm mulled wine, along with coffee from Balzac’s. But the little wooden stalls offer a treat for everyone’s taste, including free samples of vodka, amaretto and Mill Street beer (a local District microbrewery).

Cobblestones and Cappuccinos, Distillery District, TorontoHoliday decorations, Distillery District, TorontoMill St Brewery sign, Distillery District, TorontoChristmas lights, Distillery District, TorontoSt. Jacobs Maple Syrup stall, Distillery District, TorontoWagon wheel, Distillery District, TorontoWooden vendor stalls, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoVendor stalls, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoVendor stall, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoWood wine stoppers, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoWood spinners, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoOld truck, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoChristmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoChristmas trees for sale, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoCeramic cup stall, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoSnowman scultpure, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoThe Toronto Christmas Market is exactly what you would expect of a European Christmas Market – in Canada! We truly celebrated the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas all in one afternoon. I’m thrilled with my first visit and will be sure to brave the crowds and make a evening trip next year. Although, the market has wrapped up for this season, I urge you to put this winter event on your must-do list for next year.

Cobblestones and Cappuccinos under the mistletoe, Christmas Market, Distillery District, TorontoI wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Weekend Edition

Magazine displayI can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted my last Weekend Edition. I guess it’s true that life sometimes gets in the way of fun. But I can no longer wait to share with you all a few inspiring ideas I have come across lately. I hope you will indulge in a little site surfing with me!

  • Although the countdown to Christmas has already begun, and the stress of shopping and decorating has officially set in, I try to make every day count with a special little gift. Here are 7 Awesome Advent Calendars that can help make every day of the holidays bright.
  • I understand that not everyone can afford the lifestyle peddled by the perennially pert Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, I went there!), but why not raise a glass to a delicious holiday cocktail or tasty treats that won’t break the bank.
  • Finally, curl up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and flip through the best Christmas Gift Catalogue of the year. Thanks Neiman Marcus, I know what I’ll be dreaming about tonight!

Enjoy your weekend!

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Historic Alton Mill

Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonWith beautiful weekends dwindling quickly, the boy and I like to take advantage of all the sunny days, colourful landscapes, and dry roads that crop up. So on a recent long weekend, my feet got itchy for another funventure drive somewhere we’ve never explored. With only gps coordinates to my most recent discovery, we set off on a drive to Caledon. Our final destination was a heritage building known as the Alton Mill Art Centre.

On the banks of Shaw’s Creek, and housing artist studios, galleries, a museum, shop and cafe, it was the perfect destination for a sunny weekend drive. Only steps from the luxurious vintage hotel and spa of Millcroft Inn and numerous lush forests, it’s very easy to make this area of Caledon a romantic overnight stop, but it’s also just a 2 hour drive from London.Gallery windows, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonGallery space, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonDetail of exterior door, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon Art studio, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonTurkey sculpture, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon    Paintings, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonArtist studio, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonLandscape art, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonPaintings for sale, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonOutdoor tree sculpture, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonCobblestones and Cappuccinos, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonArtist studio, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon   Outdoor face sculture, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon  The Mill houses a small museum dedicated to its more than 130 year history. Established in 1881 and originally known as the Beaver Knitting Mill, it was renowned across Canada for producing fleece-lined long underwear (a Canadian winter must!). The building escaped the great Alton flood of 1889 but was struck by fire in 1908. After rebuilding, the Mill had many industrial incarnations until its present day and remains one of only two 19th century mills still standing in the area (there used to be 12).  Mill mechanics, Museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill mechanics detail, Museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill mechanics, Museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonFlowers, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonCourtyard, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonHistoric plaque, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon  Outdoor cafe seating, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill pond with kinetic sculpture, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonExterior, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonLivery exterior walls, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonOutbuilding at Alton Mill, CaledonInspired by all the art around me, I just had to get creative with a little snap I took of us at the Mill.  Posterized portrait of Cobblestones and CappuccinosOur experience at Alton Mill has definitely put it on our favourite list of “Fall Drives”. Hope you take the time to visit.

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Steed & Company Lavender – Sparta

Steed and Company farm shop, SpartaEver since returning from my French adventure this summer, I have been feeling a little nostalgic for quaint European charm and enveloping scents that stir up precious memories. It’s one of the reason French women fill their lives with beautiful perfumes – one reminds them of an ex-lover, another of the new one, and yet the third of one still to come (oh la la!). So on the most recent sunny September weekend, I packed up the boy and went in search of my field of dreams – lavender!

Just 20 minutes from London, outside of the tiny historical village of Sparta, sits Steed & Company Lavender farm. It’s one of a number of beautiful lavender farms that dot southwestern and central Ontario and fill the air with a wonderful calming fragrance. I stepped out of the car with big expectations of purple fantasies…and I quickly learned two things: lavender blooms in June/July, and there are many varieties of lavender, English being a much more popular cultivation than French.

Steed and Company small garden, SpartaLavender shrubs, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender flowers, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender field, Steed and Company, SpartaHence, we were greeted by tiny green shrubs laid out in geometric rows with only a sprinkle of the precious purple blooms. However, we found a few other things that fed my fragrant fantasies…beginning with some lavender ice cream!

Lavender shop, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender ice cream cart, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender sachets, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender cookbook and cookies, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender preserves, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender honey, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender soap, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender conditioner, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender gift sets, Steed and Company, SpartaAnd just at the entrance to the farm, I found another piece of magical real estate!

Enchanted forest sign, Steed and Company, SpartaEnchanted Forest clearing, Steed and Company, SpartaEnchanted Forest art, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaAlthough I was disappointed in missing the purple lavender fields, I look forward to catching them next summer (it’s already in the calendar!) and I hope I’ve inspired you guys to make the short trip to Sparta.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying my jar of lavender honey which I picked up on the way out!

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