Category Archives: This and That

A Food Lover’s Mission

Follow me on Instagram and no doubt you will see one of two things; photos of my manicures and photos of some of the best things I’m eating at home or at a restaurant. I’ll get into more detail about the first point in another post, so today we’ll focus on the second: food.

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I’m guilty. I like to take pictures of anything from a summertime fresh garden tomato to the entree I ordered at that trendy new Toronto restaurant. To my epicurious delight I recently discovered Gastropost, a special feature from the National Post that encourages foodies to take part in weekly food missions for a chance to have their culinary adventures shared online and in print.

Simple follow @Gastropost on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and tag your food photos with the #Gastropost hashtag each week to participate in their food missions. You might find yourself a foodie celebrity one week like I recently did.

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Earlier this month I participated in the Pizza Rising Mission and submitted a photo of a pizza I ate on a recent trip to New York City at Otto Enoteca. It was called Pane Frattau topped with tomato sauce, pecorino cheese and the best part of all a sunny side up egg right in the middle!  A few days later I got an email from the friendly Gastropost team notifying me that my entry would be featured in the print edition that weekend. My submission would even be accompanied by a cartoon drawing of myself. How fun is that?!

Don't I make a good cartoon?

Don’t I make a good cartoon?

What I really love about this project is how the Post has taken an activity many social media users already love to do and created an engaged and interactive community of fans that transcends the traditional newspaper page right over to the most popular digital platforms. There’s no app to download and the missions each week ensure that food lovers can share a wide range of culinary favourites that are fun, seasonal and unique. Plus who wouldn’t love to see themselves in the paper? I’ll definitely be keeping up with this project.

Have you participated in #Gastropost? Show me what you’ve submitted!

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The Baking Diaries: Slutty Brownies

If I’m not in front of my MacBook writing, I’m usually in front of my Kitchen Aid baking. As much as I love sharing my baked goods with my friends, family and co-workers, there never seems to be enough to go around, so instead I will share my photos and recipes here for you to try at home.

Up first is my newest discovery, Slutty Brownies.

Don’t be offended by the name- these brownies are simple to make and delicious. You’ll never look at another brownie the same again. Life-changing.

Yield: 1 9×9 brownie pan

Serving Size: 16 brownies per recipe 

Ingredients

For the Brownie layer:

  •             10 tbsp unsalted butter
  •             1 1/4 cups white sugar
  •             3/4 cup cocoa powder
  •             1/2 tsp salt
  •             2 tsp vanilla extract
  •             2 large eggs
  •             1/2 cup AP flour

 For the Oreo layer:  1 package of Oreo (regular stuffed or double stuffed)

 For the Cookie Dough layer:

  •             1 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
  •             1/2 cup brown sugar
  •             1 1/2 cup white sugar
  •             2 eggs
  •             2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •             2 1/2 cup AP flour
  •             1 tsp salt
  •             1 tsp baking soda
  •             1 tsp baking powder
  •             2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. For the Brownie layer: In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.
  2. For the Cookie Dough layer: Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Line the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray.
  5. Layer 1/2 of the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the slutty brownies. Reserve the remaining cookie dough to be used to make cookies later in the day.
  6. Layer as many oreos that will fit on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do.
  7. Pour the brownie batter on top of the oreo layer and make sure it’s evenly layers on top.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. If the knife comes out clean, let the brownies rest before serving. If the knife comes out with batter still on it, allow the brownies to bake about 5 minutes more.
  9. Serve with ice cream 🙂

Recipe from whatsgabycooking.com

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For Auld Lang Syne

December 31st. Last day of the month, last day of the year. Change your desk calendar, crack open a fresh agenda, create a new folder on your Mac. Store away the remnants of 2011 and make room for the new thoughts, adventures and lessons the next 12 months will bring. Dare I mention it? That word buzzing around at insane speeds the time of year? You know the one. Resolutions. Do you have any? Will you be making them? How hard will you work to keep them?

Sometimes it helps to hear what others are hoping to do for a little insight and inspiration. Us ladies at The Hip & Urban Girl’s Guide put together our own lst to share. Check it out and tell us what’s on your list. As the clock ticks closer to midnight I hope you’ll be excited to start another year, no matter where you are and how you’re celebrating. Cheers!

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Happy Holidays from the Sunshine State

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I’ve traded in the Monday to Friday routine for sun, sand and reading by the pool until the New
Year. Vitamin D straight from the source, no need for a watch and family dinners with the grandparents. Hope your holidays have been enjoyable no matter what you celebrate. Oh, and I’m writing this from my new iPad.

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Hip + Urban Girl Guide’s Cookies & Champagne Party 2011 GIVEAWAY

Remember when I was telling you about that awesome Holiday party where the lovely ladies of Toronto bake their favourite cookies and share them with one another? Well, I’m giving you the chance to come join this cookie eating fest for FREE!

HUG describes their Cookies & Champagne party as:
a champagne-infused all-girl networking sesh + modern cookie swap”
Interested in going?  I’m giving away TWO tickets which include:
♥ A complimentary glass of Barefoot sparkling wine
♥ Access to the cookie exchange, networking party and mini Christmas market
♥ Delectable sandwiches & refreshment from Yes to Fresh and FIJI Water
♥ Interactive Photo Booth & Red Carpet Arrivals from Olympus Canada

To enter, simply leave a comment below and tell me your favourite cookie. I will draw the two winners on Friday November 25th (Hip + Urban Girls ONLY please).

GOOD LUCK! 🙂

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Blog-worthy Nails

After months of Tweets and Twitpics about my nail endeavours and new shades, and a few blog posts and freelance pieces dedicated to the beauty of the manicure, my nails have officially made it to the big leagues. They were recently featured on TheKit.ca in a photo gallery depicting some fabulous manicures from readers such as myself. My green and pink half-moon mani, as well as my OPI Axxium with an altered French tip made it on their list. Should I be looking for an agent to get my hand modeling career off the ground?

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Another Day Another Manicure

Audrey Hepburn once said she believed in manicures. I am of the same faith.

Nails by Tips Nail Bar for the Holiday 2010 issue of Glow Magazine

If you’re not a believer, may I suggest you observe that last dozen or so images of nail polish adventures I’ve posted to TwitPic. Here is a little taste of the ones I’ve chosen for the Manicure Hall of Fame (I wish this was a real thing). But really it’s so hard to choose. I don’t want to offend OPI, Essie, Revlon, or Chanel. It’s like a mother confessing which child she loves the most, or a tween choosing her favourite Justin Bieber song. Impossible. Still, I wish you the best for your own lacquer experiments. May your polish always be long lasting and your manicures never be French tipped (unless they look like this).

GOSH Peachy with dots

YSL half moon mani by Tips Nail Bar Toronto

Minx Nails by Sephora

OPI Axxium in Cajun Shrimp

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Look at You Miss Jet-Setter

Today I read an article in the Globe and Mail about being uncomfortable with our happiness. You know that feeling you sometimes get when you buy yourself some extra special for a job well done or when you book yourself a trip to a place you’ve been dreaming of forever?

You’re pumped to be finally getting that DSLR you’ve been waiting for, or on that plane to Europe you’ve saved up for months to be on but then there’s this little nagging tick somewhere in your gut, almost making you wish you would have changed your mind.

Did I really need to spend a few hundred dollars on that gadget that will be outdated in mere months, and shouldn’t I have just spent my vacation time at home in the backyard? Who am I to be living this good life? What have I done to qualify for these privileges, you might hear yourself asking.

I recently felt this way about two big spending decisions. They were actually the first two major purchases I’ve made completely on my own (with the help of my Visa) since I’ve started by full-time job as a staff writer. I booked a 12-day trip to Spain and France with a girlfriend, and then a few weeks later I bought myself the Nikon DSLR I’ve been drooling over since January.

Maybe it is because I’m not used to having this much disposable income (you might remember I’ve spent the better half of the last year or so as an unpaid intern), or maybe it’s because I was feeling it was a bit too soon into my steady paying job to be blowing this kind of cash but the happiness anxiety, as Sarah Hampson put it, was there for the better part of a week each time I signed on the dotted line for these things.

Reading this article today brought those initial feelings back. On Friday I’ll be getting on that airplane with the expensive gadget in hand. As I get ready to go and finish up the week at work there’s no doubt those comments of “you’re so lucky!” “I wish I could go!” and “I’m so jealous!” will be repeated from friends, co-workers and family members.

Instead of having those thoughts of my unworthiness fill my head as I pack my suitcase, I’ve decided I am going to start my own happiness revolution too and “celebrate the meaningful and happy parts” of my trip and the rest of this summer and hopefully infect others with the same thoughts. Life is too short to be depriving ourselves of our dreams.

I hope you’ll do the same. Stay tuned for all the happy updates when I return later this month.

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The Tips Nail Bar Experience

I kid you not when I say I’ve been waiting to get my nails done at Tips Nail Bar all year. I first heard about owner Leanne Colley and her team of manicure heavy hitters in January while interning at a PR company. After seeing their work on the runway at LG Fashion Week, in the pages of Fashion, Flare and Elle Canada magazines, on countless Toronto beauty editors, and even more in the know ladies on Twitter, I decided that the trek to Greektown would be well worth it.

I finally got myself organized and secured a coveted appointment last Friday. Knowing I was mere hours away from treating my hands to what the beauty elite of Toronto are calling the best manicure in the city made the day go by super fast, and before I knew it I was walking up the stairs into the nail haven.

I immediately was smitten by Tips;  the windowsill was lined with an impressive array of magazines, the shelves were beaming with a seemingly endless amount of lacquers from O.P.I, Essie, Chanel, YSL, China Glaze and beyond, and the tunes on the radio were groovy. Soon I was greeted by my mainicurist, Melissa, and I left my nails in her very capable hands.

Tips practises what is called a dry manicure– your fingers are exempted from the usual water-soaking step. Instead cuticles are softened with oil and gel, and hands are scrubbed and lotioned with the most wonderful-smelling stuff. This prevents the nails from expanding and becoming prone to polish chipping. The worst part of the experience? Having to settle on just one lacquer colour. I decided to cheat and pick two for a moon-mani : YSL’s White Gold for the moons and Turquoise Blue for the rest of the nail.

The end result was absolutely gorgeous and I found myself flaunting my hands infront of anyone who would look all weekend long (sorry mom, dad, boyfriend and that lady in the bank line). This place really is a manicure lover’s dream, and I’m nearly contemplating a move to the Danforth just so I can be in walking distance for my next manicure fix.

844a Danforth Ave. Toronto 416-405-8477 www.tipsnailbar.ca

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