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Thursday, August 28, 2014

3 Ways To Channel Red Carpet Style at TIFF

Since summer's forsaken us let's fast forward the style calendar to September shall we? It might feel early to shop fall but this year's Toronto Independent Film Festival (TIFF) kicks off in just one week with premieres, parties and plenty of opportunities for us common folk to debut on the red carpet -- even if we are shuffled off so the paparazzi can snap Clooney.

If you're taking in this year's festivities, here are 3 celeb-inspired looks by Toronto designers that you can take to TIFF: 

The Statement Suit (as seen on Solange Knowles at this year's VMAs): You don't have to rock a dress to get attention. Solange's plunging neckline, subtle sparkle and 70s hair and make-up hit more best dressed lists than Bey's "basic" black ball gown. Make the look your own with Rachel Sin's graphic print suit. While the neckline might be too much of a plunge to wear without a blouse, a crop top or bustier would allow for plenty of skin to show if you so desire. 

The Racy Red Dress (as seen on Blake Lively at The Emmys): I'm not a big fan of a red dress on a red carpet but the Emmys were filled with them so the trend is real. Showing a little extra skin like Blake does makes the look shine a little brighter and this Caitlin Power take in a jewel toned garnet also elevates the look. FYI this dress also rents via so you can strut for a fraction of the purchase price. 

The Princess Bride (as seen on Zooey Deschanel at the Golden Globes): A far more demure look, no doubt, but in a sea of thighs and décolletage, the modest neckline, nude palette and layers of tulle are so elegant you can't help turn heads. This Jordan de Ruiter frock is made to order so it also fits like a glove and you'll also be able to choose from various lengths and patterns to truly shop like the Stars. 

~ Tamika Auwai is our resident Style Editor, Shopping Enthusiast and Image Alchemist. 

Celebrity Image Credits: Yahoo Celebrity,, 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Go to The Front Of The Line with The Hip + Urban Girl

By: Lisa Ng

A sponsored hip + urban girl post.

I can’t even begin to count the times my American Express card has provided me with VIP access first thanks to their Front Of The Line Program

I’ve been able to book restaurant reservations, secure concert and theatre tickets before the general public, just for being an American Express Cardmember. I love being able to get first pick at a choice selection of seats. It’s one of the reasons why I became an Amex Ambassador and why my Gold Rewards Card is so much more than just a Credit Card.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BlogPodium Conferece 2014 - Toronto

By: Lisa Ng

Trying to take your blog to the next level? Thinking of starting a blog? 

BlogPodium, a conference for Canada's lifestyle and design bloggers will be returning to Toronto on September 13th. The one-day event will take place at the historic Royal York Hotel from 8 AM - 5 PM with lots of networking opportunities for each blogger.

The Toronto Veg Food Fest!

By: Lisa Ng

The 30th Veg Food Fest, presented by the Toronto Vegetarian Association will be taking place at Harbourfront Centre from September 5-7th this year.

Even though I'm not a vegetarian, I still enjoy this festival because it gives me lots of new meatless recipe ideas and introduces me to new foods I may not have contemplated integrating into my diet before. I also like discovering new vegetarian restaurants in Toronto who showcase themselves at this festival. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Miraj Hammam Spa at Shangri-La Toronto

By Wendy Kam Marcy

It's important to look after our bodies especially with our hectic busy city lifestyles. So I recently took a journey to the Middle East... errr I mean excitedly ran down to Adelaide and University Ave to the Miraj Hammam Spa at Shangri-La Hotel.

The Hammam & Gommage is a steam & body exfoliation that is part of the authentic traditions of the Middle East. Think old-world traditions, introduced into the new world! It is one of their most popular treatments and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone or paired with a relaxing massage or Caudalie’s Grand Facial.

My treatment began with an invigorating 15 mins steam between high intensity & low mist steam – the Hammam. In centuries past, the Hammam was known as the “silent doctor”. After sweating out my stresses, I retreated to the fancy schmancy chamber where I plucked down on a Jerusalem gold marble slab, closed my eyes and let warm water cascade over my body like a tropical waterfall. Blissful!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tequila Tastings @ Milagro

Is there a better combination than tacos and tequila? It's debatable. The perfect place to enjoy Mexican food and drinks on a balmy summer evening is atop Milagro Cantina's second-floor rooftop patio on Queen Street West. Buzzing and lively, the vibe is young, hip, and trendy. Upbeat Latin tunes pulsate from the speakers and mouth watering aromas of Mexican fare waft through the intimate space. 

I sampled authentic Mexican tequila poured and guided by owner and chef, Arturo Anhalt. First, I tasted Milagro Reposado, aged in oak barrels for two months, which had an earthy aroma and notes of caramel. The favour was oaky with hints of vanilla. Citrusy notes of lemon, lime, and grapefruit wafted from my glass of double distilled Don Julio Blanco. Light in taste with the sweetness of baked agave, it had a smooth finish. Azulejos Reposado was distinctly the strongest tasting tequila, with its tart flavours of vanilla and oak. 

I had never tasted sangrita before Chef Anhalt introduced me to it and was pleasantly surprised. He informed me that taking a shot of sangrita after consuming tequila or mezcal is widely practiced in Mexico, as it cleanses the palate. Spicy and tangy, the shot is potent, consisting of lime and orange juice with a dash of salt and chili powder. The taste of sangrita is akin to that of a Caesar, sans alcohol. 
Ever the gracious host, Chef Anhalt served me carnitas los panchos, which are pork tacos accompanied with pickled red onion. They were seasoned well and bursting with flavour. 

Toronto's love affair with Mexican food, margaritas, and mezcal is alive and well and strongest at Milagro. 

--Alison Silveira


783 Queen St. West


Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Must-Stop Shops in Montreal

If there's any Canadian city that can give Toronto shopping a run for its money, it has to be Montreal. It's the birthplace of some of our favourite North American brands and it's no wonder; Montreal has a rich history in the garment industry and continues to support local design today through government, grass roots and even corporately sponsored initiatives like Festival Mode Design, a 4 day fashion festival in the streets of downtown Montreal featuring both major brands and rising labels. 

If you're heading to Montreal for a fashion fuelled getaway, here are 5 must-stop shops to add to your itinerary:

If you're a lover of leather like I am, M0851 is heaven. While you can find the brand here in Toronto (check Yorkville or Bayview Village), the selection on Rue St. Laurent is a treat for the senses featuring buttery soft leathers and interesting silhouettes that only get better with age. If you're unsure of which chic leather backpack, tote or moto jacket you want to take home, ask the staff to share one of their well loved pieces so you can get an idea of how yours might look with age. Each investment piece is designed to look even better in the years after you bought it. 3526, boul. St-Laurent, Montréal. (514) 849-9759.

Charlotte Hosten
Even if your French isn't fab, you'll have no problem sharing your love of baubles inside Charlotte Hosten's Atelier Boutique. The talented, self-taught designer takes unique beads, brooches and fabric collected from travels or rescues them from past lives (i.e. upcycles) and includes them in mixed media bib necklaces, bracelets, hair accessories and more. 122 Bernard West,  Montréal. (514)274-8511.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Clos du Bois Guide To Summer's Best Reads

This is a sponsored post.

I don't know about you but I plan to take it easy over these last few weeks of summer with a great book in one hand and an even better glass of wine in the other!

So we had our friends at Clos du Bois curate the ultimate book list to guide hip + urban girls through the dog days of summer. From Best Beach Read to Best Murder Mystery and Best Foodie Fiction to Best Page-to-Silver-Screen Blockbuster, this list captures the moods of the season.

If you are looking for the perfect wine to serve at your book club, we recommend Clos du Bois’ Cabernet Sauvignon. It has aromas of cassis and plum with vanilla and mocha notes and ripe black fruit flavours with vanilla spice to finish. Heavenly!

So without further ado lets start reading!

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Best Inspiring Tale

Fans of the author's smash hit Silver Linings Playbook will love this follow-up which tells a story of friendship, grief, acceptance, and the power of kindness and love as 38-year-old Bartholomew Neil deals with the death of his mother. Bartholomew discovers a "Free Tibet" letter from Richard Gere hidden in his mother's underwear drawer. In her final days, Mom called him Richard—there must be a cosmic connection. Believing that the actor is meant to help him, Bartholomew awkwardly starts his new life by writing Richard Gere a series of letters.

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
Best Prodigy Drama

A look into the competitive and political world of professional ballet and its impacts on two generations, as told by a ballerina named Joan. Though her career was shaped by her former love, Arslan, Joan has started a new life with her long-time admirer Jacob. Joan's past and the present meet years later when the couple's son Harry's - also a dance prodigy - career takes off, leading him to connect with Arslan. This is a tale filled with secrets, passion, and intrigue.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PROMO: 50% Off The Business Of Blogging Workshop

By Wendy Kam Marcy

Camp Tech is turning 2 on Wednesday, August 20 and to celebrate they are offering a generous 50% off all fall classes including Wendy's Business of Blogging Workshop for $34 + HST!

Sign up now because the sale is on from 12:05am until 11:55pm EST only and there's a limit of 10 tickets per class. (Use promo code "BIRTHDAY" at checkout.)

This fun and interactive class takes you beyond the basics of Blogging 101 and answer practical questions such as:

  • How do I turn my hobby blog into a business?
  • How do I generate content that people will actually read?
  • How do I get more clicks on my blog?
  • How do I leverage social media as a promotional tool?
  • How does affiliate marketing and selling ad space (like Google AdSense) really work?
  • How should I approach advertisers and what should I charge?
  • AND the million dollar question... how do I get more than just free products, and actually make money from my blog?

This workshop is on Tuesday, September 23 from 6-9pm at Centre for Social Innovation (215 Spadina Ave). REGISTER HERE!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cook Well, Eat Well With Prepd

By Shari Archinoff

I love to cook, but like most busy professionals, I find it difficult to find the time. Fortunately, there’s a new local Toronto company called Prepd that offers a solution to this problem. Prepd is a subscription service that delivers 3 meal kits a week directly to your home. Each kit includes a recipe and pre-portioned ingredients you need to make a fresh, delicious meal.

I recently got to try out two recipes – Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and Tuscan Penne and Chickpeas. The first thing I noticed about the recipes was how clear and well organized they are. You’re given pictures of each ingredient included in the kit so there’s no confusion as to what you’re working with, as well as a (very short) list of staple ingredients and utensils not included.