The Saint Tavern and Tattoo Parlours

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

Weekends are my absolute favourite; I get to catch up on my reading and blogging, spend time with my family, and have an adventure or two with my love. On Saturday Alex and I headed down to The Saint Tavern for breakfast.

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I loved the dark and cool vibe of the restaurant, the deliciously creamy and strong latte, and the delectable Duck Egg St. Benny. The service was fantastic, it felt like being at home, with a bunch of other brunching strangers enjoying their meals.

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After breakfast we walked around the city and ended up at a tattoo parlour near my house. I finally got the “writerly” tattoo I’ve been wanting. It’s a semicolon on my right wrist, which was inspired by this photo on Pinterest. I’m hoping that it will remind me to use my spare time wisely. To use every moment that I’m not at working, writing things down, creating characters, and stringing stories together.

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Life is Spectacular

Just for Fun, Restaurant Reviews

When life gets dark, the best thing to do is spend time with people who brighten your day. To take a drive to nowhere, have a glass of wine, read a great book, and remember that tomorrow is another day. Things haven’t been dark around here, they’ve just been changing too quickly, and I feel more change on the horizon. So on Sunday Alex and I took a drive over to Oakville, a beautiful quiet city sitting pretty on the lakeshore. We drove around, enjoying the beautiful homes and quaint shops, grabbing a bite to eat at The Crepe Kitchen. The smell wafting from the tiny restaurant enticed us to talk in. It’s a sweet restaurant with cork placemats, antique mirrors on every wall, and mismatched furniture. I ordered and devoured a delicious caprese crepe filled with salty proscuitto, fresh tomatoes, crisp basil, and smooth mozzarella.

It felt great to step out of the everyday routine and concentrate on the food on my plate rather than the millions of things going on in my head. It felt wonderful being in a new place on a crisp Fall day, watching the leaves change and squirrels cross the street. It felt spectacular to just be and enjoy and let everything else melt away.

 

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Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to. 
— Tim Tharp

 

Vanessa Xo

greatness and all that jazz

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

piclabThursday was a perfect day for walking around the streets of Toronto with one of my favourite girlies in all the land. I invited my brother’s girlfriend, Christine, to accompany me to the Chapters Indigo media preview. Although she’s been dating my brother for years we’ve never spent much time together, so when I went to pick her up I was a little nervous. I’m always scared that I’ll be awkward or run out of things to say to people but I was happily surprised when we literally could not stop talking!

I think one reason we get along so well is because we are a lot alike. We crave adventure, we’re ambitious, we’re quiet and yet can’t stop talking when we’re with people we like spending time with. We keep things to ourselves but are learning to speak our minds. We love our families, boyfriends, friends, and even books. We’re tired of saying yes to people who don’t appreciate us and have made a pact to not do things that make us unhappy just to make someone else happy.

As our chatting continued, my nervous energy melted away and we were both able to enjoy an evening in the city. We walked to Chapters Indigo head office and then over to The Store On Queen so I could pick up a pair of pants I ordered (I was super bummed that I didn’t get to meet Hubby and Wifey), and finally headed to the O&B Canteen for a bite to eat (dinner was delicious by the way).

IMG_7516IMG_7517IMG_7520 IMG_7553I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — I LOVE BEING DOWNTOWN. The hustle and bustle makes me feel alive. The murmur of various conversations, the sardine-packed sidewalks, the endless rows of great shops and fabulous restaurants is so different from anything I experience on a day-to-day basis. King Street West is my favourite part of the city — it’s familiar and foreign. I can navigate that block pretty well and still see something new every time I walk it. I feel like I belong in the city, I should be walking home from work, grabbing an early drink or a late latte with my boyfriend, friends, or solo. 

What is about the city that makes me feel great? Is it just Toronto or all cities that make me feel like I can do anything, be anyone, and achieve my biggest dreams? An important part of this feeling is surrounding myself with people who feel the same way, or who at very least believe that I am capable of all those things. People who think I am great and that I can achieve greatness. Thank you to all of those people.

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 Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

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!

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

@Paintlounge with my besties #mybrushmyvoice

Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

My besties and I went to Paintlounge in Toronto on Saturday evening. We walked into a bright lit room filed with chocolate brown easels covered in paint. At the far back of the room we found a table filled with different paints, brushes, sponges, blow driers, chalk, and everything else needed to create a masterpiece. Plus a little cafe where you can purchase a tea or coffee while you paint.

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I want a purse that looks like this ^ — where can I find one?

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My besties and I jumped right in, picking out our canvases, grabbing our supplies, and putting on aprons. For a few minutes we stared at our blank canvases, not knowing what to do or how to go about it. “I’m getting anxiety over this,” is something you might have overheard one of us say. We all have Type A personalities, so we felt like we needed to plan our artwork, to sketch it out, to be able to erase our mistakes. Eventually we let go, and painted our hearts out. We spent over two hours painting, laughing, talking, and relaxing.

IMG_7140 IMG_7137Katrina (pictured above) LOVES love. IMG_7124“Vane, does this look ombre to you?” famously stated by Kathryn (pictured above).

IMG_7132“A writer’s heart bleeds a thousand times over.”

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A quick walk around the room ensured that we were the only ‘non-artists’ at the workshop that night but it didn’t matter, we were there to let everything out, not paint a masterpiece. What I loved most about this experience was the messiness of it all. I got paint on my favourite jeans, ruined my fresh manicure, threw paint at my canvas, and didn’t give a damn. Messiness is fun and deliciously beautiful.

Have you gone to Paintlounge? Would you? Do you like my painting? LMK in the comments!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Girls Night Out with @FresitaCa and SPiN [Recap]

Bursting the Bubble, Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

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On a crisp Wednesday evening, my girlfriends and I headed downtown to SPiN on King West. Not knowing what to expect, we walked through an alley and down some slippery steps into a barely lit but incredibly warm room. The ladies at reception took our coats and lead us to a ping-pong table tucked in the corner (which was perfect because our balls went everywhere). As my ladies and I took our places around the table, DJ FeelGoodSmalls pumped up the music, making our night start off with a little dancing, a lot of laughter, and thankfully a few practice rounds of ping-pong before the other ladies showed up.

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After the arrival of fellow blogger babes (and their friends) Victoria Simpson @hautecanada and Melissa Hetu @melsays, appetizers were served and bottles of Fresita popped open. Fresita is a fruity, fresh and delicious all natural sparkling wine with only 8% alcohol. It’s sweet, refreshing, and it has a beautiful red colour to it. I’m thinking it would be the perfect signature drink for my bestie’s bridal shower. Kathryn attended the event with me (along with my other favourites, Lina and Stacey) and absolutely loved the taste of the wine. “It tastes like juice but not too sweet!” she exclaimed with a relaxed smile.

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That relaxed smile could be found on each of the event’s attendees; with a glass in one hand and a paddle in the other we ponged the night away. My favourite part of the evening would have to be the roundtable, where anyone at SPiN could sign up to play. Basically you ping-pong the ball around the table as you run around to table. If you miss it, you’re out! It was fun to watch and Victoria rocked that game in a wicked pair of heels from Le Chateau! I had such a great time at SPiN that I think it might be the place to have my 25th birthday — drinks, great music, a relaxed atmosphere, and a friendly game of ping-pong — what more could a girl need for her birthday?!

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Thanks to my lovely ladies for attending this event with me. Your attendance was the BEST part of my night! Thanks for the laughs, the great conversation, and some awesome memories. A huge thank you to Fresita Canada for the delicious libations and to SPiN for collecting all the balls that didn’t hit the table!

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

PHOTOS BY: JEFFREY CHAN

Puddles on the stage #TPSLAM

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

Flowing water – a waterfall – I slip on the ever dripping words that spill from their mouths. 

Puddles on the stage. 

So many words spoken, ringing in my ears, bleeding to my heart. 

When I left my first poetry slam at The Drake Underground last night I could barely speak. When my cousin asked me what I thought about it, I couldn’t articulate all of the emotion that ran through me. There were so many delicious words swimming in my head… I thought it might explode.

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I wrote down snippets of the performances that really resonated with me. People, complete strangers who knew nothing about me were able to put my feelings into a three-minute rhyme… making me feel a little less alone. I was moved by a poem about anorexia “sick turned into success — girl you’re thin — badge of honour”. I was touched by a love/anti-love poem “no person’s destiny is addressed to us, even if they have our name on their lips”. I was left breathless by a poem about a girl with no legs and blown away by the passion behind a poem about the Kennedys.

I was so focused on each and every performance that sometimes I held my breath for the entire three minutes. Each poet made me feeling something. My heart pumped, my veins were on fire, electricity swam through my soul, from the top of my head to the piggies on my feet, I felt alive. I felt like I was part of something, this group of misfit toys hipsters — each one different, imperfect, speaking songs in perfect time. I understood them all and was frozen line by line.

IMG_0206This girl right here ^ invited me to a poetry slam a few months ago and I kept cancelling for one reason or another. I am so glad that I finally took the time to go with her and my mentor/friend, Casie. It was Casie’s first time at a poetry slam too and I’m happy that she loved it —  I have a feeling that this wasn’t a one time thing! Thanks for opening my eyes to something new, Amanda! For those of you who’ve never been, spoken word is moving and beautiful, I tip my hat to all of those who performed last night — much love and many snaps*

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

most like herself

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

She feels most like herself when she walks crowded streets, blending in. She feels most alive when the crisp wind hits her face and her legs pinch with cold. She can see best with her big square glasses, turning and staring at whatever and whoever catches her by surprise. She loves old buildings and tiny restaurants. Restaurants so loud and squished, that you’re in your own little world. When liquid courage is on the menu, a glass of white wine is her choice. She feels stronger, speaks with more conviction, and can say no wrong. Her food of choice is always pasta — gnocchi if you please. Her guest of choice is the man across from her — shaved head, brown eyes, and a smile that puts her at ease.

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A night in the city is what she craves, a job downtown, an event, a cool workspace. To see the CN Tower every single day, to feel alive in the simplest way. She feels most like herself when she’s downtown, breathing in the heartbeat of the city, not living the same day over and over in a little town.

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo 1 Credit: My Pen, My Voice.;*

Photo 2 Credit: Pinterest 

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