Monday, July 25, 2016

Lost & Found in Chinatown

By Natalia Dziubaniwsky

Escape games are all the rage now. With news spreading by word of mouth, their popularity has quickly grown and an ever-growing number of companies have jumped on the bandwagon in Toronto and surrounding areas.

Originating in Japan, escape games find a team of players locked in a room with the challenge of solving a series of puzzles and “escaping” out of the room before time runs out. They are fun, challenging and will force you to bend and stretch your mind in ways you don’t typically have to on any given day. Often the games have a specific story line and mission associated with them; adding to the excitement and feeling of make-belief. This is your chance to try your hands at solving a mystery with the likes of Nancy Drew or Robert Langdon of The Da Vinci Code.

With a couple of escape games under my belt I have become mildly obsessed with seeking out new ones to try. I had the opportunity to experience a brand new game called Lost and Found in Chinatown by Secret City Adventures, a Company & Co production which brought Toronto Escape from the Mysterious Room (a co-production with a Japanese company, SCRAP, which created the premiere live escape game), along with the popular Real Escape Game series and Escape Casa Loma. Working with puzzle and game designers, the focus is on bringing immersive theatrical components, engaging storylines and characters to all of its games.

Lost and Found in Chinatown isn’t your typical escape game. Blending the concepts of a scavenger hunt with an escape game, it takes you out of a room and onto the bustling and lively streets of some of Toronto’s most well known neighbourhoods - Chinatown and Kensington Market.

Imagine: You’re assigned a very important a mission with 90 minutes to complete it. You must retrace your lost memories by solving visual clues and puzzles to save all of humanity before times runs out!

The game starts at Secret City Adventures home base where you are introduced to your task, along with the characters and rules of the game. Armed with our assignment, a marked map and clues, our team took to the streets. We raced through graffitied alleyways looking high and low to find hidden information and unlock codes for the next set of clues taking you steps closer to completing your mission. The last portion of the game has you returning to the home base to solve a difficult set of visual word puzzles.

Unfortunately, our team was just shy of making it out in time, but we had a blast doing it. According to Game Producer Michaelangelo Yambao, only about 12% of the teams have made it out in time since they launched their latest offering. The game is played in teams of 6, although I feel a team of 4 would be an ideal number. Be prepared – your observation skills will be tested and you will be pushed to work together and think outside of the box. It’s a great activity to do with a group of friends and a unique way to explore Toronto whether you are new to or familiar with the city.

My best advice is to take some time at the beginning to come up with a game plan, keep a really open mind and not be afraid of sharing your ideas no matter how farfetched they may seem. I promise you’ll have fun!

Tickets for Lost and Found in Chinatown start at $32 per person and game times run Friday through Sunday. For more information check out their website.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

5 Recipes to Try This Summer

By: Lisa Ng

1) Spaghetti Chicken Carbonara

This is my go-to recipe whenever I have a serious pasta craving. Shredded rotisserie chicken is an easy shortcut for making this a fast weeknight recipe. I like using fresh pasta when possible, but the boxed stuff works in a pinch. There's a light lemon flavour and a bit of salt from the pancetta. See my recipe for Spaghetti Chicken Carbonara.

2) Easy Banana Ice Cream

I could ice cream everyday if I could - but that's not going to work out for me, so I was thrilled to discover an ice cream you can make with a frozen bananas and a few other ingredients. I used a Yonanas machine, but you could easily use this blender or this one here to make this recipe for Banana Ice Cream.

3) Match Chia Seed Pudding

This Match Chia Seed Pudding recipe gives me a ton of energy in the morning so I can get on with my day. It's also simple to make the night before and you could easily double or triple the recipe so you have a ready made breakfast all week.

4) Homemade Cranberry Protein Bars

If you're buying protein bars like crazy, consider making your own! I make a big batch on a Sunday and it's easy to grab and go all throughout the week. Here's the recipe I use. Make sure to follow the recipe exactly or it will mess up how much your bar will hold together. It a nice, light breakfast.

5) Peanut Butter + Jelly Smoothie

It's a hot day and you want to cool off. My Peanut Butter + Jelly Smoothie recipe makes a great afternoon snack or meal replacement with the addition of some of my favourite protein powder.

What are your favourite things to cook in the summer?

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 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

#EscapeandDiscover: An Unforgettable Adventure with the 2017 Ford Escape

By: Alison Silveira

My latest adventure involved mystery, intrigue a whole lot of fun with Ford. I am invited to go on an exclusive weekend trip with other bloggers and the Ford team. The catch? I have no clue where I would be going until the morning of the trip. I have an inkling that we may go camping as we travel in the newest Ford Escape, but the Ford team has something else up their sleeves. 
A sleek Ford Lincoln picks me up bright and early at 7:45 a.m. and I am taken to Thorncrest Ford in Etobicoke. As I mingle with other bloggers and influencers, we chat about the possibilities of where we may be going. A large stark white sheet is on display with a shadow of a car on it. As we are welcomed by the Ford team, the sheet is pulled back with a flourish to reveal, not a car, as we had originally thought, but a table with envelopes of our destinations written on them. I was assigned to the green team consisting of Amanda Nunes, Andrew Powell and Carson McKee from the Ford team. Our envelope reveals that we are flying to Sarnia and then driving to Owen Sound to discover the regions in a Ford Escape.

We fly to Sarnia and when we arrive at the airport, a brand-spanking new 2017 Ford Escape Titanium in the colour of 'canyon' awaits us to take us on an incredible journey. The roomy SUV has plenty of storage to hold all four of our travel bags and the vehicle is spacious enough for us to feel comfortable. 

Our first stop is the eclectic Stones 'N Bones Museum. This small, yet enchanting museum houses everything from dinosaur and shark bones to precious gemstones, including a blue oval topaz weighing 2,250 carats! Our tour guide is friendly and engaging and we walk out of the museum knowing a lot more than when we entered. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Delysées: Authentic French Bakery

By Natalia Dziubaniwsky

Macarons, cheesecakes, éclairs, oh my!

I have a serious sweet tooth and a real admiration for the delicate artistry and delicious fine flavours of French pastries. I didn’t have to think twice before attending Delysées Summer Rendezvous event kicking-off its “mini” collection of delectable cakes, cheesecakes, tarts and éclairs.

In addition to launching the new summer “mini” menu, Delysées also introduced a sweet and boozy partnership with The Grange of Prince Edward Winery. This means you can also indulge in limited edition bite-sized treats infused with brut from The Grange Winery.

The hardest part of the evening was deciding between which minis to try and pacing myself between bites so I could sample as many as possible! Each perfectly formed pastry had something different of interest to offer – a bright pop of colour, mini puffs of meringue or swirls of cream filling.

What kind of flavours can you expect from the “mini” Summer Rendezvous Menu?

Berry flavoured cakes and mousses, sweet and salted caramel and pistachio tarts, double dark chocolate and Madagascar vanilla profiteroles and, one of my favourites, fresh lemon cream meringue éclairs. Yum!

Other noteworthy flavours not to miss are their special edition items incorporating flavours from Sloane Fine Tea and sparkling wine.

Delysées has an amazing 44 foot display case which gives you plenty of room to ogle, “oh” and “ah” over its extensive selection. Offering over 20 flavours of daily-made macarons and éclairs, they boasts the biggest selection of macarons and éclairs in Toronto!

Other regular offerings include croissants, gourmet sandwiches, chocolates and espresso drinks and customer order cakes and macaron towers.

All bites from the “mini” menu are priced at $2.45 each. Visit Delysées at 780 King Street West to experience the Summer Rendezvous collection on their seasonal patio.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Luckee by Susur Lee

By Wendy Kam Marcy

I'm deliciously excited that one of my favourite restaurants, Luckee is participating in Summerlicious for the first time this year! This is Susur Lee's third restaurant in Toronto and as expected, the food and service is at the top of his game.

Serving up Nouvelle Chinoise cuisine, here's what's on the $38 three-course menu...

Appetizer // I love anything and everything that has watermelon so the first course was an easy choice. A savoury Tofu Salad piled with juicy watermelon and cucumber chunks, mint and drizzled with spicy soya vinaigrette.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summerlicious 2016!

By: Lisa Ng

Summerlicious is back! 

This prix-fixe restaurant event includes 220 of Toronto's top restaurants with special menus featuring delicious cuisine at an exceptional value. The festival runs from July 8 - 24 and reservations can be made directly with the restaurant.

To see all the menus and last-minute day-of availability, visit the Summerlicious site and book a date night out with your friends.

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 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Brave Leather DIY Party

By Shari Archinoff

Is there any luxury material that is quite as versatile as leather? Even something as subtle as a belt or a handbag can boost your outfit to the next level and make you feel like you just stepped off the pages of a magazine. One company that truly understands this appeal is Canada’s own Brave Leather.

The company has been around since 1992, back when founder and designer Scott Irvine was selling his products on the streets of Toronto without a vendor’s license (an adventure that became the inspiration for the name of the company).

Today, Brave Leather offers made-to- order items through their online store, as well as products that are available in many high-end retail stores like Mendocino and Anthropologie.

Brave Leather recently hosted a DIY leather party at the North York facility where all of their products are made. Shortly after arriving, we had to make the very difficult decision of which product we wanted to make. The choices were between four different styles of belts or a leather bracelet.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Beaches Jazz Festival 2016

By: Lisa Ng

The Beaches International Jazz Festival is in full swing with events happening all this month right up until July 24th. The Taste of Jazz will be happening at Woodbine Park July 19th and 20th from 5-10pm and will feature a jazz mainstage and a bunch of food trucks to check out.

My suggestion would be to round-up your friends, grab your picnic blanket and head on over to the park on the TTC for a night of free music and food trucks.

The BIG street festival happens on Queen Street July 21-23rd - so save the date!

For more information visit:

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 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Urban Eats @ Boke Bowl - Portland

By: Lisa Ng

I could eat ramen all day everyday and moving to a new city meant all-new ramen places to check out! Portland can get cold and rainy in the winter, so I can see how one can find comfort in a hot, steaming bowl of pork broth and chewy noodles.

While on the hunt for a favourite ramen joint, I stumbled upon Boke Bowl. A local noodle joint in Portland that went from pop-up to brick and mortar. I highly suggest starting off with their Siu Mai made with pork and shrimp.

The star of the show is by far their handmade ramen noodles. I ordered the Pork Dashi bowl that featured tender slow smoked pulled pork with a poached egg, snow peas and green onions. Yum!

Unlike another ramen place, I did not fall asleep after I eating at Boke Bowl. I think it's because they put so much care into their ingredients and do heavily salt their food. If you're planning a trip to Portland, I highly recommend a trip to Boke Bowl!

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 

Read, Chill, Repeat!

By Wendy Kam Marcy

Hey Book Worms, my favourite coffee hangout Aroma Espresso Bar is doing a clever collaboration that benefits mind, body and community! They have partnered up with Simon & Schuster Canada to host a giveaway.

One lucky winner will score a collection of popular fiction books + a year of free coffee!

Hot reads and cool coffee... sounds like my kind of summer!

Enter here by July 15, 2016. Good luck!