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

"Who dares wins" – Second Influencer Session with @CasieStewart

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

On Sunday I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario with Casie Stewart (blogger, mentor, influencer). It felt great to be downtown on my own again but I still felt a littler nervous meeting up with Casie! Thankfully we started off the morning with a mimosa – where I shook it out and relaxed. Seriously, I had to shake out my nerves. I’m such a tense and anxious person, I need to let loose and STOP WORRYING. THIS IS ME, AND I’M AWESOME, LIKE IT OR LEAVE IT. In that state-of-mind I walked around from room to room of the art gallery with Casie by my side. We talked about a lot of things, she showed me some of her favourite artwork, and she told me a few of her stories.

Mostly we talked about this:

Photo from Casie Stewart

Photo from Casie Stewart

About me getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. About me getting out of my current work situation and finding something that will give me the skills I need to succeed in the field I want to get into (publishing). Casie gave me loads of excellent advice but what hit me hardest was when she politely called me out on my crap. I haven’t been looking for jobs in the right places because I’m comfortable where I am and I am scared of change. BOOM! I said it. Now I need to change it. Easy-peasy.

Another thing that I really need to work on is discovering what I LOVE. I walked through the room filled with self-portraits (the original selfie) and wondered what my self-portrait would look like and how I really see myself. I wondered a lot about what I love, what inspires me, and I realized that I don’t know. But I am going to find out.

I’ve got a brand new notebook and I’m making the right lists, looking for the right jobs, and exploring the city as often as I can.

Next I’d like to check out the aquarium and head to The R.O.M, then maybe I’ll explore the local art gallery (McMichael).

Come with?

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

“Who dares wins” – Second Influencer Session with @CasieStewart

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

On Sunday I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario with Casie Stewart (blogger, mentor, influencer). It felt great to be downtown on my own again but I still felt a littler nervous meeting up with Casie! Thankfully we started off the morning with a mimosa – where I shook it out and relaxed. Seriously, I had to shake out my nerves. I’m such a tense and anxious person, I need to let loose and STOP WORRYING. THIS IS ME, AND I’M AWESOME, LIKE IT OR LEAVE IT. In that state-of-mind I walked around from room to room of the art gallery with Casie by my side. We talked about a lot of things, she showed me some of her favourite artwork, and she told me a few of her stories.

Mostly we talked about this:

Photo from Casie Stewart

Photo from Casie Stewart

About me getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. About me getting out of my current work situation and finding something that will give me the skills I need to succeed in the field I want to get into (publishing). Casie gave me loads of excellent advice but what hit me hardest was when she politely called me out on my crap. I haven’t been looking for jobs in the right places because I’m comfortable where I am and I am scared of change. BOOM! I said it. Now I need to change it. Easy-peasy.

Another thing that I really need to work on is discovering what I LOVE. I walked through the room filled with self-portraits (the original selfie) and wondered what my self-portrait would look like and how I really see myself. I wondered a lot about what I love, what inspires me, and I realized that I don’t know. But I am going to find out.

I’ve got a brand new notebook and I’m making the right lists, looking for the right jobs, and exploring the city as often as I can.

Next I’d like to check out the aquarium and head to The R.O.M, then maybe I’ll explore the local art gallery (McMichael).

Come with?

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

A collage of dreams come true…

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I wrote a blog post about Dream Jars in April of 2012. The intention was to get all of my hopes and dreams on paper, look at them once a month, and eventually make a collage of them, a collage of dreams come true. Honestly, I haven’t checked back on them in over a year, part of me forgot all about it but the part that remembered was afraid that I hadn’t accomplished any of them. Out of sheer curiosity I went through them this week. With an anxious chest and tired eyes I read through all of my dreams and hopes. Some of them I laughed at, some of them I achieved, some I didn’t remember, while others are still works-in-progress. I’d like to share them with you, I think it might do me well to have them written and out there on my blog instead of hiding them away in a jar. Here they are, my dreams in progress…

Make my mom proud April 16, 2012

*Write books/blogs that influence teens in a positive light, that help them become confident and radiant March 28, 2012*

Marry him, buy a house, have baby, live happily ever after April 1,2012

*Quit Caruso’s for GOOD! FIND A CAREER! May 29, 2012*

Go back to New York! ❤ October 2012

Get married in a bookstore June 15, 2012

*Learn to cook. Paint. Dance. Create. April 1, 2012*

*Write a Y.A. novel  March 29, 2012*

Go to Chicago with Alex May 29, 2012

*Rid of my anxiety March 30, 2012*

*Travel to England, see Big Ben, go to Barter Books, William S. Birthplace March 28, 2012*

Wear my mother’s wedding dress… April 16, 2012

Find a job that I don’t hate April 1, 2012

I’m not surprised by my hopes and dreams – I’m still working on the ones with the astericks and am not too focussed on the whole getting married thing right now. I think I’ll add a few more dreams to this list…

LIVE AND WORK IN THE CITY December 4, 2013 

Go on a European Adventure December 4, 2013

Write another novel, find an agent December 4, 2013

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Dreams are beautiful and fulfilling them only inspires even bigger dreams.

Working towards something is my favourite part of living – that, and love.

Dream it, live it, love it.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo 

mY Generation

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

I’ve been slurping up articles on the so-called GENERATION Y (anyone born between the late 1970s to mid 1990s) simply because I am part of said generation. Many articles discuss our generation as lazy or restless young people who can’t find jobs and who want to redefine what work is. So far my favourite article is from The Globe and Mail (by LEAH EICHLER), where she discusses the issues without making me feel like it’s my fault for not being employed. This article has given me a lot to think about and has also embedded some hope in my weary heart. Kayla Cruz, who runs the Lost Gen Y Girl blog states,“Big organizations aren’t offering young professionals opportunities to grow and expand their job functions, so they’re creating these opportunities for themselves”. I can list a number of Torontonians who are following their dreams, creating their own jobs, and paving their own way. It’s amazing and inspiring for someone like myself, maybe finding my way is actually getting up enough gusto to MAKE MY OWN WAY. First though, I think I may need to fly the coop.

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“Parents today spend an inordinate amount of time being the advance person for their kids. When kids enter the work force, it’s time to let them go.” Kevin Shea 

Although I haven’t packed my canvas bag just yet, I’m thinking about it. My parents have never said anything to be about moving out, nor do they think it’s a great decision until I have a full-time permanent career. Be that as it may, I feel as though my independence is slipping away (or was it ever really there?). My parents do a lot for me, plain and simple. They know that I’m spoiled but feel as though I work hard enough for it to be justified. So what’s the problem? Well, I’m terrified that I don’t do enough for myself, I’m scared that I wouldn’t know how to survive without the bubble that my parents (and myself) have created. At twenty-four-years-old there are many things that I don’t know how to do or haven’t had to do — and that’s just crazy. Maybe it’s time for me to venture out on my own, to spread my wings and fall fly. Maybe it’s time for me to STOP being a stereotype and START paving my own path. It’s time to follow the dreams that have been lurking inside me, dreams involving travel, moving to a new province or city. That’s not to say that I won’t need my parents, that I won’t call them every single day or FaceTime them until they’re sick of seeing my face. I just want to make them proud, I want them to see me as the independent successful woman that they always hoped I’d become.

The time is now…or soon…ish.

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!

___

Love Always

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!

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo