Saturday Road Trip to Paris

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

Have you ever been to Paris — the prettiest town in Canada? The Cobblestone Capital of Canada thanks to its unique cobblestone buildings? No? Well, if I can be honest you aren’t missing much. It’s not as modern and developed as Burlington, it doesn’t have as many quaint shops as St. Jacob’s, and it isn’t as relaxing as Niagara On the Lake (if I may compare it to the places I’ve been to). BUT it does have a certain charm that may just make you fall in love with it.

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They were having a street sale when we got there. Loads of vendors, face painting, a jumpy castle, dog treats, singing, and dancing. It was a the perfect day for it too, barely any clouds and beaming sunshine.

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Their only hotel just went under some major indoor renovations — we took a peek inside and I must say it is gorgeous. I believe the outside is still the original brick but inside is modern, fresh, and super charming.

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Inksater’s is the ONLY store I really wanted to go into and it closed down, which is really unfortunate because I love hard cover books and greeting cards.

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This little spot was absolutely breathtaking. We pondered really serious things while standing here…

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…and then we took a selfie.

IMG_7416We went for lunch at The Cobblestone Public House — I had fish and chips the size of my head. It was super greasy and delicious. The root beer was the best part of my meal, I wish I ordered a float. 
IMG_7418 I don’t know if you’ll find me back in Paris, Ontario. It was a lovely day and the town is so charming I felt like I was in a different era. The trouble is that I thought it was more like the other towns I’ve visited. It is uniquely its own and I wouldn’t discourage you from visiting BUT after two hours of driving it left me feeling unsatisfied. But then I had this deliciously creamy strawberry ice cream from Eskimoo Joe’s and all was right with the world.

Until my next road trip,

Vanessa Xo

P.S. Know of any quaint town in Ontario? I’d love some suggestions for where should the bf and I go next? LMK in the comments!

The YES Project

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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It’s no secret that I’m less than satisfied with my current state of affairs. It’s no secret that I don’t have a plan or that I’m itching to do things that are just unrealistic at this point in my life. It’s no secret that I take things too personally and can’t sleep at night. It’s no longer a secret that this attitude is putting strain on my relationships. Something has to change. It’s impossible to be unhappy all of the time, it’s not like me to be tired all of the time, to lack motivation in getting things done. It’s unlike me to be this extreme brand of antisocial. Something has to change.

I had a very serious conversation with my cousin today (iMessages can get very serious) about everything I just blurted out above. Her solution was simple and yet completely and utterly insane.

“Just start saying yes. Even if it’s stupid or out of your way or seems like a waste of time, say yes. It helps! You have no idea where it could lead.”

So, welcome to the YES PROJECT. I will start saying yes to all of those things I find excuses for. I will say yes and attend events that are an utter inconvenience. I will say yes to doing new things, even if they scare the crap out of me. I will not cancel plans. I will say yes to trips and extra shifts at work and to going out even if it’s past my bedtime. I will say yes to possibilities.

I will say yes to life and I’ll even keep you posted.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

This is Thursday

Categories, Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve been dreaming of travelling New York City for the past two nights, once by plane and once by car. My companions were the strangest group of people — a collection of past friends, co-workers, and people who I haven’t seen in years.  I went to New York in November of 2013 with one of my best friends and I can’t help but wonder if these dreams are recalling the past or egging me on to the future. I wonder if they’re preparing me for change. I wonder.

Before I go off on all kinds of thoughts and lose myself in travel daydreams, I have a few things to accomplish today and tomorrow. I need to focus and prepare, and hope that a change is on the horizon. If not, I have to keep my eyes open and look for the “unordinary” in the rather ordinary days ahead.

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“I’ll never get used to anything. Anybody that does, they might as well be dead.”

— Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Talk soon,

Vanessa  Xo

kisses and car rides all over ontario

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

Of the many things to love about summer, car rides are my absolute favourite. Sure, reading in the warm sunshine, hearing the beloved ice cream truck song outside my bedroom window, attending weddings and showers, and sitting on patios are amazing BUT I can’t get enough of car rides. The bf and I love driving to random places within Ontario. We love heading up to his aunt and uncle’s trailer or Googling “fun little towns in Ontario”. Last summer we spent an entire day roaming Niagara on the Lake, two years ago it was St.Jacobs. We fall in love with the various shops and enjoy sitting on the patio of a local pub eating the greatest greasiest fast food.

Last week we took an impromptu drive to Burlington and once again, I fell in love. We took a walk along the Lakeshore, the air was crisp and the sun was beaming. Then we had a bite to eat at The Queens Head (I ate delicious buttermilk chicken fingers the size of my head), spent a few minutes in their local bookstore (A Different Drummer Books), and ended off the day trying some vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, everything free desserts at Kelly’s XO Bake Shoppe.

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I don’t know exactly where our next car ride will take us but I have dreams of going to Viamede Resort in the Kawarthas and staying for the weekend, maybe to Montreal, and someday out east to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and P.E.I. I’d also love to head back west to Vancouver — I LOVED IT THERE, it’s a long car ride but it might be fun. All you need is good music, good conversation, and great company to make the best of any car ride.

Thankfully, I’ve got all three.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

who would i be if…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

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As I walked the streets of Toronto last weekend I couldn’t help but wonder how my life (and myself) would have been different if I grew up in the city. I see young families often when I talk into hipster coffee shops — the children have this air about them, a confidence, an independence that I don’t think living in the ‘burbs offers a person.

I was seven when we moved from Etobicoke to Bolton, which is way up north (it’s really not that far from the city). For the next sixteen years I lived in a quaint little bubble — free of sex (I didn’t know what a blow job was until I graduated from high school), drugs, homeless people, dark and scary alleyways, and yes, rock n’ roll. I went on the subway by myself for the first time at the age of twenty-three, when I got an internship downtown Toronto at Random House of Canada. I still don’t get most dirty jokes, I’m as “innocent and naive” as they come, sometimes I can be a little narrow-minded and a little afraid to broaden my horizons.

What would I be like if I were a born and bred city girl? Would I be braver or more independent? Would I be more street smart than book smart? Would I love the city and hate the ‘burbs? Or the other way around? Would I be as passionate about Toronto and travel as I am now? Would I be living the “artist life” in a cramped apartment on top of a store on Queen West, working at a local pub at night, writing during the day and trying desperately to make ends meet?

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No one knows. I can picture myself in a bunch of different scenarios but that is simply my imagination running wild. The fact of the matter is that I am who I am. Where I grew up had a lot to do with the woman I’ve become BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t spread my wings a little. The best part about knowing who you are, and I mean really admitting to the faults and follies, is that you can work on them. You can become a better you. I can be that small town girl who loves heading farther up north just as much as she loves roaming the city streets. There is no one or the other, there is no black or white, but a million shades of grey (I can’t even tell you how many shades of red I turned reading that book :P).

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Adventures great and small

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Adventures great and small are yours for the taking, anytime and anywhere you decide to sit back and open your eyes. Whether the adventure includes a 40 minute drive or an 8 hour flight, your life can change (or at very least your attitude) dramatically.

IMG_0336 IMG_0337 IMG_0338 IMG_0340The sticky summer sun shone brightly as we ventured the streets of Toronto, walking through parks, taking photos, stopping by St. Lawrence Market, and even grabbing a couple of beers and cosmos before dinner. A simple little Saturday that was so out of our norm, it felt like an adventure. The streets we roamed were familiar since I walked them often while interning but with a hand to hold it felt new and fresh.

I think the key to enjoying every single “normal” day is to do one or two things differently. Eat somewhere new, take a walk some place you’ve never been, take a long drive way up north, and travel. But always remember to go places you want to go and do the things you want to do, don’t do things because you think you should. Any adventure, great or small, is an adventure worth having after all.

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Kick Ass or Chew Gum

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

So many things to tell you guys. Firstly, I was asked to be a bridesmaid for my bestie and cousin. Obviously, I am super excited and cannot wait to go try on dresses, help plan the stagette, and just be there for the bride-to-be! I’ve been Pinteresting non-stop since she asked me!

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On Saturday, the bf and I went for a drive. I LOVE going for drives to little towns, listening to music as we watch the world pass by. We drive slow and sometimes we don’t have a destination in mind, we just drive. Winter drives are beautiful. Up north is like a crisp white desert, you can see trees off in the distance, and abandoned farms every once in a while. It’s quite sublime. We ended up in Alliston (which isn’t too far from where I live) and stopped in at Bistro Burger Joint for lunch.

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The burger was delicious, thick, and juicy. I got the bacon, cheese, bacon burger — topped with tomatoes and a red wine aioli. We shared a poutine, homemade fries, succulent gravy, and huge creamy cheese curds — you gotta eat there. Next I’d like to head over to Paris, Ontario and then St. Mary’s,  just waiting for a day of nice weather for those two.

The bf sent me the photo below, it’s my new matra. I read it at least twice a day and follow it the best that I can. I need to work on #3 and #8… they drive me crazy!

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This week I’m going to finally visit a head hunter to help me find a job, or at least help open my eyes to what else is out there. I’m ready to start the next phase of my life and a career is the first step to that. I’m also looking for some freelance writing assignments and  approaching brands for potential partnerships. I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to, I just a need direction.

It’s time to kick ass or chew gum… and guess what…. I’m all outta gum! 

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

What is that feeling?

Categories, Lifestyle/Personal

Lately I’m all questions and no answers. I’m giving advice but unable to take my own. “If you have a hard time figuring out what you want to be, choose the lifestyle you want and find a way to live it,” I tell my brother as if it’s easy. I know it’s difficult. I know how hard it is to not KNOW all of the answers, how lost you can feel when you can’t begin to explain who you want to be. I know what it’s like to crave adventure but not know where to turn. I know that feeling and I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t burn. If I said it didn’t set my soul aflame and leave me lying awake at night. I know that feeling, I live that feeling.

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what will that next crazy venture be?

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo 

Missions in the Big Apple

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

We made our way to the concrete jungle on a cold crisp November morning. I love flying in the morning or during the day, I like to to see the clouds and get lost in them. Once up in the air, we coasted through the white fluffy desert towards our destination. The world below popped in and out of vision, it sparkled and for a second it looked as if it was encased in glass. Sitting there quietly, peacefully, and fragile like it could shatter at any moment.

When the wheels hit the ground a sense of relief flooded my body, as well as, a sense of panic. As soon as the fresh air in the cabin turned off all I smelt was other people’s breath and stale air. It’s a clear fog but thick enough to leave you feeling light-headed. Off the plane we walked and into the first cab we saw. The ride started off fair enough, my bestie and I, bright-eyed and filled with excitement. Well, until we stopped seeing signs for the Queensboro Bridge and were taken down awful side streets filled with garbage and graffiti. Obviously our first thoughts were something out of a Criminal Minds episode, we looked at each other, eyes screaming with fear until finally we found ourselves on crossing the bridge, being thrust toward possibilities. More specifically the possibility of our cabbie getting into an accident. HE DROVE WAY TOO CLOSE TO THE OTHER CARS. He honked like a child just discovering the sounds that a car can make, and when another cabbie cut him off he rolled down his window, screamed, and spit on the other cab. Nothing like a nice hork to welcome you to New York.

Tuning that episode out of my mind I spent the next two days with my bestie power-walking around the city. We didn’t have maps or data on our phones but somehow we always found our way. It was kind of exciting to get lost in a city that we don’t really know. We stayed pretty close to our hotel on the first day, opting for lunch at Shake Shack – they have the best burgers on the planet. The meat is so succulent and juicy. It tastes as meat should, LIKE MEAT, not charcoal or crazy spices. It’s the kind of burger you savour and the perfect fuel for a long day of walking. That day took us through Central Park, to the New York Public Library where scenes from Sex and the City (the movie) popped into my head. The building is absolutely gorgeous, regal and wonderful. The study rooms are filled with books, computers, and eager students studying (or watching Netflix). I felt at home.

On Sunday we walked from our hotel on 40th Street (right beside the bus terminal, which made our neighbours a rather interesting bunch) to Ground Zero and let me tell you it wasn’t a straight line either! We zigged and zagged through various neighbourhoods from Soho to Greenwhich, down Fifth Avenue and back up again, through Madison Square Park and over to NYU, finally (somehow) ending our six-hour walk at Ground Zero. We did a little bit of shopping, treated ourselves to something nice and even stopped in at Strand Book Store. Three floors of BOOKS. The top floor being rare and used books with hefty price tags, musty smells, and literary genius pulsating off of the walls. The best part of that day was stumbling into Eataly on 5th Avenue, across from Madison Square Park. It’s a huge market filled with restaurants and fresh food, cookbooks and imported goods from Italy. PLUS an excellent cafe with the BEST coffee in the world (LavAzza). Kathryn (my bestie) had a hot chocolate which she said tasted like melted chocolate and steamed milk. It was the creamiest, most delicious hot chocolate she ever had! She can no longer have hot chocolate from Tim’s because of this one and it MUST have been good because she didn’t offer me a sip (I’m not mad though and she’s not sorry).

Our final day was a rough one. We could barely walk from the day before. My shins felt like I had been kicked incessantly by a little brat and Kathryn’s calves kept seizing up. BUT we made most of it with another walk around the city, a delicious lunch at Carmine’s on 44th street and a bit more shopping. So, what was the highlight of this trip? What made this trip different from my last trip to New York? Kathryn. I’ve known Kathryn since the tenth grade and even back then she was one of the few people I could really be myself around. I’ve never travelled with her before so I’ll admit I was a little worried. What if we didn’t get along? What if we fought? What if we ran out of things to say to each other? Thankfully none of my fears were realized. She was the PERFECT travelling companion and we’re more alike than I think either of us knew. It was so nice to have unlimited girl-talk-time with someone who is honest (even when it needs to be brutal), laid back, and who just wants to have a good time. Travelling with her is exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take some more chances, to make some changes, and to figure out exactly what I want.

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Thanks for everything Kpicks, love you!

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

#NYC, I’m coming for you

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time

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Nothing beats exploring a new city with people you love, or returning to a city you love with someone new. So, one month today I’ll be heading to NYC with one of my besties! We’ve never travelled together, in fact I’ve never travelled without the boyfriend or a family member so this should be interesting. I think she’ll be the perfect travel companion though, she’s totally laid-back, I’ve known her forever, we have similar interests, and I feel comfortable enough to fart in front of her, so we’re good.

I’ve been trying to travel as much as I can within the last five you, ya know, before I have to grow up and pay rent or something. I love travelling, in spite of flying, waiting in lines, and jet lag. Jet lag really gets to me, I slept for an entire day in Vancouver and couldn’t stay up past 11 PM in Vegas, I’m not even kidding.

I’m the type of traveller who wakes up early, jam-packs my day, takes a thirty-minute afternoon cat-nap, and heads out on the town for dinner. I try to get the most out of every trip I take and every minute I have in each city. Vancouver, Chicago, Dominican, Vegas, and NYC have been my destinations in the last five years and I’m excited to be heading back to New York. This time I’m going with a brand new notebook and everything I’m learning in my Creative Travel Writing Class. I hope to bring back a wicked travel diary for all of you, and myself. I’m also heading to New York with a wish-list, things I didn’t do last time and places I want to see again.

PicMonkey Collage1. Empire State Building

2. Return to Shake Shack and have the most delicious burger ever! (Again)

3. Strand Bookstore – obviously

4. Central Park – my last travel buddies were too tired to take a long walk in Central Park

5. Shopping on 5th Avenue, starting with breakfast at Tiffany’s (duh!)

My travel partner has a list of her own and I cannot wait to see what’s on it. After we check off those things we’re going to keep walking until we get lost, until we’ve found some really cool places that are off the touristy grid. I wonder what we’ll find…

Any suggestions on what we should do or see? Or how I can possibly pack lightly for this trip?

Let me know in the comments!

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo