Spa-ahhh Time

Sometimes you just need to unplug, log off and be pampered for 90 blissful minutes.  When it’s time I suggest heading over to Sweetgrass Spa in Toronto to see Lourdes for their signature 90-Minute Treatment Facial that combines a customized facial with a heavenly full-body massage.  Definitely my choice for a decadent way to combine the best facial and massage features into one indulgent service. Read more about my Sweetgrass experience on The Hip + Urban Girl’s Guide.

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A Fresh Squeeze on Tradition

The glory days of the accordion are back. This according to one of my latest interview subjects for Panoram Italia Magazine, Sal Ritacca. He shared his passion for the reed instrument with me as part of a special feature on the accordion’s place in Italian muscial tradition. Read it here in the November issue of Panoram Italia Magazine.

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Women Making a Difference

 

 

Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of getting to know some of the ladies that help to make the Italian-Canadian community in Toronto strong and proud. They are teachers, mothers, friends, philanthropists and health care professionals that have given their skills and their time to enrich the lives of many people around them. I profiled three of the women for the cover story of Panoram Italia‘s special September issue celebrating women in the Italian-Canadian community. Check it out online here!

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A Summer with Shakespeare

There is no better time than summer to bring all sorts of activities outdoors from meals to sports and movies, and even classic plays such as Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. This month Western University’s Summer Shakespeare Production staged the popular play outdoors at the campus. Check out the July issue of The Beat Magazine to learn what it’s like to stage a production outdoors.

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Feeling the Burn at the Barre: BarreWorks Toronto

I’ve been going to the bar a lot lately. I have more energy, I feel stronger and leaner and I think I’ve even lost a few pounds!

I should mention this isn’t your typical bar – in fact it’s a barre not a bar. BarreWorks Toronto to be exact. It’s the newest ballet-inspired fitness studio on Queen West, and I tried their 60-minute Mixed Level class for the Hip & Urban Girl’s Activity a Week column along with Lisa, HUG’s EiC. Try it out for yourself and you’ll feel a burn similar to the one experienced after one too many shots of tequila – except at this barre the burning sensation will make its way to your thighs and linger for days.

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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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The Spring Review

I was busy writing my way into spring, and now that summer is just around the bend a recap is due. Here are some of the pieces I’ve worked on in the last few weeks:

The Beat April Issue: The Magic of Contemporary Dance

 

 

Whatever Magazine Spring Issue: A Matter of Identity

 

 

 

 

Panoram Italia Magazine April Issue: Vaughan Native Toasts to New Business

Panoram Italia Magazine June Issue: Tracing the Forgotten History of Italian-Canadian Internment Camps

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Orange you Glad Spring is Coming?

The weather forecast for this last week of April isn’t looking too appealing, but we’re hopeful the spring-like temperatures will be here very soon. In the meantime we’re reading up about Pantone’s colour of 2012 and finding as many ways as possible to incorporate Tangerine Tango into every facet of our daily lives.  There aren’t many hues more optimistic than this one.

Get orange inspired in the Spring 2012 issue of Whatever Magazine here.

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Worth the Two-Hour Wait: Grand Electric

Two hours to eat a taco? You better believe it. Welcome to Grand Electric, where the city’s most enthusiastic eaters will gladly wait up to two hours for a table in the little Parkdale eatery. Since last November the place has been serving up an excellent menu of guacamole, ceviche and sweet and spicy tacos. If your tummy is rumbling prepare to drool as you read all about it and witness the photos. If you’re tempted to make the trek I suggest arrived well before it opens at 6 p.m.

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Beauty Rave: The Clarisonic Mia2

I know we are only midway into February, but I’m confident that the Clarisonic Mia2 is my best beauty investment of the year. Let me explain. For the last few months I’d been hearing rave reviews about the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System from some of my favourite beauty bloggers and magazines. Made from the same people who brought us the Sonicare Toothbrush, this thing is basically deemed to be a giant electric toothbrush to remove dirt and makeup from your face. I finally became a proud Clarisonic owner on my last trip to the United States (The Mia2 that I purchased is not yet available in Canada, but the other models are) and haven’t looked back. You can read more about how it works and what I think about it here.

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