Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo Ticket Giveaway

By Wendy Kam Marcy

Save the date because the BIGGEST Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is happening November 17-20 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Sip and savour your way through international gourmet cuisine, exotic delicacies and of course, the best alcoholic bevies!

This year's highlights include:

  • Taste and learn about the world's best wines at the Tutored Tastings Program.
  • Chef Stage features cooking demos by celebrity guests and talented locals.
  • #TrendCentral Stage presents tastings of cutting-edge wines, beers and spirits.
  • The Spiritology Pavilion showcases the latest from Toronto’s cocktail scene.
  • Sip fine wines alongside industry experts at The Grand Tasting Bar.

We are giving away tickets!

Tell us what your favourite wine, beer or cocktail is and 2 lucky winners will score a pair of tickets to the show! (My fave is Lindeman Framboise/Raspberry Beer.) Giveaway ends Friday, November 4 at 11pm EST.

You can also buy tickets here and use promo code GOURMET16 to save $5.00.

Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Winter Survival Tips

By: Lisa Ng

A sponsored post.

Winter will be upon us soon and the neverending snow days and bitter cold can be hard on the soul. Make sure you’re not just loafing around the couch this winter with our 5 Winter Survival Tips:

1) Take a Class

Since you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors this winter, you might as well be learning a new skill or hobby. Sign-up for that cooking class, sports league or workshop you’ve been eyeing and perfect it before spring. Look online for upcoming classes near you and sign-up with a friend or before they fill-up!

2) Book a Dinner Date

If you’re like me, you have a long list of restaurants you’ve been meaning to try out. Make a point of setting up a dinner date with your friends, family or significant other and give yourself a night out to look forward to. It’s a great way to get out of the house and catch-up with the people you love.

Tight on cash? Make it a potluck and give yourself a chance to try out a new dish.

3) Get Active Outside

At some point, you’re going to have to embrace winter and the best way to do it is to get outside and play in the snow! I finally learned to ski as an adult and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I find that as long as I’m properly bundled up, being active outside is pretty refreshing and a great workout.

Not sure about skiing? Try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, toboganning or learn to finally ice skate. Come out of hibernation and make the most of winter.

4) Go Somewhere Hot

I know this is a no-brainer, but a winter vacay to a sunny destination helps break-up the monotony of winter. My best advice is to book NOW to ensure you get the best availability and prices. You’ll be thanking me in February, plus it gives you a restful break to look forward to after the holidays.

5) Stay Hydrated

The cold winter air coupled with dry indoor heating systems can be way harsh on your skin. I find that my skin gets super dry, flaky and even itchy if I don’t keep it properly hydrated. Skincare oils are a great way to battle this problem – they work without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

I start with Lipidol’s Cleansing Face Oil to help remove my make-up at the end of the day. I then apply Lipdol’s Overnight Face Oil to help lock in moisture – I really do wake-up with softer, smoother skin.

Lipidol also has a Cleansing Body Oil that you can use instead of soap or body wash. The After Shower Oil finishes the job to help your skin retain moisture.

Lipidol does not leave you feeling greasy and there’s no messy residue. Your skin will naturally absorb the oil and leave it feeling nourished. The oils are non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types. 

Lipidol is a steal at $8.97 a bottle and is from the makers of Bio-Oil. You can find Lipidol at Walmart or online at Walmart.ca

What are your tips for surviving winter?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

7 Beach Getaway Ideas

Hanging in Hawaii
By: Lisa Ng

We all know winter is coming soon.

Which is why I'm already jumping on the winter beach vacation bandwagon! It's never too early to start planning and booking early can save you a bit of cash. Especially if you're booking your flight separately. Dreams of tropical beaches, white sand and rolling blue waves have been entering my head already, so I bring to you my top beach getaway ideas:

At Tabacon Spa in Costa Rica
1) Costa Rica How does zip lining over waterfalls, soaking at a volcanic hot springs spa, while surfing and doing yoga everyday sound to you? If you're looking for adventure and a beach vacation, Costa Rica is the place. Book into a resort on the west coast like the Westin on Playa Conchal or the very posh Four Seasons Hotel in Papagayo. Give Tabacon Spa a google, it's located at the base of the active Arenal Volcano. Here are a few blog posts I've written on past trips to Costa Rica. You can even rent a massive villa with a few friends!

2) Key West, Florida - Walking into the waters of Key West is like walking into a warm sunny bath. It's perfect mix of small American beach town, with easygoing nightlife and restaurants. It's also the place to take a break from your car. Park it for the week, rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels. It's a very easy place to navigate and the cars usually stay under a 40 km/h speed limit. Did I mention all the delicious seafood and pink Florida shrimp? Nom! More blog posts on planning a visit to Key West here! Oh PS - don't miss the drag shows :)

The Bartender Atlas Toronto Tour

By: Lisa Ng

Love cocktails?

The Bartender Atlas Toronto Tour created by bartender Josh Lindley and photographer Jessica Blaine Smith will be taking over the city November 13-15, 2016. This three-day event will include bar stops, featured cocktails, a fun passport, prizes, a cocktail competition and workout classes to keep everything in balance.

Two visiting bartenders from Birmingham, Alabama will be joining along on this tour - Steva Casey and Eric Bennett who will be sharing some of their creation at each stop. This is not your average bar hop!

You can find more information on Bartender Atlas and on their Facebook invite on how you can join the party. 

Lisa Ng is also the Editor-in-Chief of This Beautiful Day, a lifestyle blog for smart women. You can follow her online @helloLisaNg + on Instagram @ThisBeautifulDay 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Best Halloween Costume Shops

By Wendy Kam Marcy

Halloween is no longer a holiday for the kiddies. Girls can now use it as an excuse to show some extra skin and boys can finally try on their girlfriend's eyeliner!

So what are the top costumes this year?

We are hearing everything from Pokemon, to your favourite (or not so fave) politicians Trump and Crooked Hillary, Star Wars, Trolls (are back!), American Horror Story characters and of course, no one gets tired of zombies!

Malabar - is so popular that you'll find yourself in a lineup if you go the week of Halloween.  However, it's worth the wait because this is our favourite costume store hands-down in all of Toronto! They have very knowledgeable staff and carry an extensive array of pre-packaged costumes, accessories, rentals, makeup, wigs, hats, masks and everything else your little devil's heart desires.

Spirit Halloween - city slicker ghosts and goblins can now conveniently shop this popup on Queen Street West. Costumes for the whole family, props and decorations can all be found here.

Creepers - they call themselves Canada's creepiest and sexiest Halloween superstore and rightfully so because they've got everything! The staff even dress up as their favourite characters. Their "Pop Culture" section is pretty cool with costumes from Harley Quinn, The Walking Dead, Transformers and popular video game heroes.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Unboxing Nutri-Grain Fruit & Nut Medley Bars!

By: Lisa Ng + Wendy Kam Marcy

A sponsored post.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I like to eat something within 45 minutes of waking up just to get my metabolism going and my energy levels up! There are days where things are so hectic; I don’t have time to make anything from scratch. Which is why we wanted to share with you these new Nutri-Grain Fruit & Nut Medley Bars that are #SimplyRealGood.

They are perfect for grabbing and eating on the go. I like pairing mine with a dark black coffee and a crisp apple. It’s easy to eat on the way to the gym or if I need to run out early for a meeting. They are also great for when I fly or travel – I can pack a bunch in my suitcase if I’m unsure of what my breakfast options are at the hotel.

Here's what Wendy thought of the bars!

I also get hangry very easily. I like to keep something in my purse if meetings run long or if I forget to eat or just need an afternoon snack to keep me going until dinner. The new Nutri-Grain Fruit & Nut Medley Bars are perfect for stashing in your gym bag, backpack or purse for a healthy snack when you’re pressed for time.

The bars contain no artificial flavours or colours and are made with whole grain gluten-free oats. Each bar contains 150 calories with pieces of nuts and dried fruit that you can see. The bars are available in two yummy flavours – Orchard Cherries and Almonds + Harvest Blueberry and Mixed Nuts. Be sure to try them both!

Nutri-Grain Fruit & Nut Medley Bars are now available at grocery stores across Canada and retail for $3.99 for a box of five. To learn more visit: www.Kelloggs.ca

Thursday, October 6, 2016

3 Thanksgiving Recipes To Try + A Wine Pairing

By: Lisa Ng

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend!

I'm super excited about it and I have ordered a smoked turkey online that's supposed to arrive here via FedEx today. So my turkey is coming fully-cooked, but I still have to prepare a lot of the sides.

Here are three Thanksgiving recipes that I swear by + a wine pairing idea from a local fruit winery in Muskoka, Ontario. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

1) Healthy Gourmet Green Beans

My take on green beans without all the creamy sauce. This recipe uses fresh mandarin slices, chopped up dates and slivered almonds all tossed in a yummy homemade dressing.

2) Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Never open a weird gelatin can of 99 cents cranberry sauce again! My homemade cranberry sauce recipe uses a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and orange zest.

3) Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

I like having something green with every meal and this Brussels Sprouts Recipe with maple and crispy bacon are what dreams are made of. To save time, buy a bag of washed and ready-to-use Brussels.

Wine Pairing

I love a nice crisp glass of Chardonnay to go with my turkey, but if you're looking for something different - Muskoka Lakes Winery does a really great fruit wine. This Cranberry Wine is made with local Ontario cranberries and is perfectly sweet and tart at the same time. Just think of all the antioxidants! You can find them in the LCBO.

Have a great long weekend :)  What are you doing to celebrate? Share with me on Instagram @ThisBeautifulDay and let me know what you'll be up to!

Lisa Ng is also the Editor-in-Chief of This Beautiful Day, a lifestyle blog for smart women. You can follow her online @helloLisaNg + on Instagram @ThisBeautifulDay 

Waterfront Artisan Market

By: Lisa Ng

Looking to walk off some of those Thanksgiving calories this weekend?

The Waterfront Artisan Festival is happening October 8 - 10 and will return again to HTO Park (339 Queens Quay West – between Rees Street and Spadina Avenue). This open-air market is a great way to discover local makers, shop for gifts and new foods. The market will feature a curated mix of more than 50 artisans, crafters, chefs and bakers.



MONDAY (OCT 10) 11AM - 5PM

To learn more visithttp://www.waterfrontartisanmarket.com

Lisa Ng is also the Editor-in-Chief of This Beautiful Day, a lifestyle blog for smart women. You can follow her online @helloLisaNg + on Instagram @ThisBeautifulDay 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Looks For Less

This is a sponsored post.

By Wendy Kam Marcy

I had a fantastic summer but I'm equally excited that fall has arrived. Maybe it's because Halloween (my favourite holiday!) is around the corner and the PSL (with soy, please) is back!

Fall also gives me the perfect excuse to cozy up with layers... creating multiple new outfits or, as I always tell people, I get to wear my favourite things together all at once!

Incorporating layers into your fall fashion routine may sound time-consuming and oh so expensive but it doesn't have to be.

Just follow my 4 #FallLooksForLess tips...

1) Don't put away all your summer clothes just yet!

T-shirts, tanks and crop tops (especially those with cool graphics and bold prints) go great under jackets or knits, and adds that additional base layer as the temperature dips.

Sweaters and the George cowl neck button wrap cardigan I’m wearing here are just $25-30 at Walmart!

2) When in doubt, accessorize!

I especially adore this George grey and black mosaic blanket scarf that I scored at Walmart. Not only did it cost $16 but it can be worn in so many different ways - as a huge scarf, draped across the shoulders like a poncho or just hang it from your neck and belt it. This brings any bland outfit to life!

3) Keep it light and tight on the bottom.

A common outfit you will see me in is a collar or flannel shirt over a v-neck tee and then a field jacket thrown on top.

I tend to live in skinny jeans (or jeggings) and classic black leggings in the fall. These staple pieces easily flatter any outfit and won't compete for attention with your pretty layers. Pair the jeans with crisp white sneakers but wear your black leggings with black booties or flats as other coloured shoes will breakup and shorten the look.

You can pick up George short/long sleeve tees in all colours imaginable for $9-10!

4) Sweater dresses are your new best friend.

Sweater dresses are the best! Especially for moms like me. This navy and grey striped one was $24 at Walmart and is so fun and versatile to wear. You instantly look glam even if you are chasing around a toddler with drool over your shoulder! For cooler weather, layer it under a jean or leather jacket, combine a belt with riding boots and you are ready for the office, date night or weekend brunch with your girl squad!

With the endless selection of affordable George fall apparel at Walmart you can take your favourite jeans, long-sleeved tee and add this season’s knit sweater for the complete look. Head to your nearest Walmart and start shopping, and don’t forget to share your #FallLooksForLess style!

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Build a Fall Fashion Look program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Eddy, NYC

By Wendy Kam Marcy

No matter how many times I visit NYC (21 times and counting!) there is always something new to do, see and of course, eat.

I love introducing and sharing my experiences at fine dining restaurants with local charm... The Eddy in the East Village is a restaurant that serves seasonal American fare & has a drink list strong on French wines & globally accented cocktails.

By the time I arrived at 6:30 the place was buzzing with patrons stumbling in after a long day at work. Couples on date night like us and a group celebrating a birthday took up half the restaurant... it only seats 30.

I was a bit woozy arriving in a cab from midtown but thanks to the attentive staff (especially Al and Julie), a refreshing non-alcoholic ginger beer was brought out to help settle my stomach.

The timber rafters, exposed brick and dim lighting created a warm and inviting atmosphere. This is the type of place were you can have intimate conversations without yelling across the table or being drowned out by lounge music turned up several notches too high.

It's been a while since I've come across such a delicious and inventive cocktail menu. Such as the Felix Felicis inspired by Harry Potter. Head Bartender, Luis Hernandez expertly brews up the good luck potion with champagne, sugar cubes soaked in green chartreuse, and gold dust cordial floats on top for a sparkly magical effect.

The Eddy offers a 5 course tasting menu ($75) that is wildly popular and I can see why - because I wanted a taste of everything!

But we finally decided to go a la carte sharing a selection of appetizers...

I love everything watermelon and the juicy morsels complimented the mild sweetness of the fluke (a marine flatfish) and salty Korean Nori perfectly. I enjoyed this starter so much I could have had it as my main course!

If you are a fan of peaces, this stone fruit nested in watercress puree and topped with kunik and sunflower frico is pretty darn tasty. An innovative combination of tart and salty flavours.

For the main, I had the grass fed steak with beans, basil and scallion ash. Flavourful and charred well on the outside and pleasurably tender inside.

My husband, who has a picky palette (and is vegan but eats seafood) definitely didn't feel left out. Chef Brendan McHale happily accommodated his request to remove dairy from the dishes and when possible, substitute out meat for vegetables.

Jason Soloway, co-owner of The Eddy is not new to the food scene. He grew up in the family restaurant business in Toronto and decided to set up shop in NYC, opening not one but two restaurants. His other pride and joy is Wallflower in the West Village.

So how does he stand out in the food mecca of NYC? Ya I thought he was crazy too by taking such a huge plunge but after spending 2 hours dining at The Eddy and following up with a 45 mins phone call a few days later, I can understand why.

Jason and his quality obsessed staff really care. Not only do they create food and drink that is deliciously familiar - while pushing your palette and flooding your tastebuds, but their hospitality is on par with what is expected from 5 star establishments.

The cocktail list changes approximately every quarter and the menu is seasonal which ensures ingredients are consistently fresh and repeat visitors will always have unique dishes to look forward to. I know I'll be back next time I'm in town.