Saturday: Reflections

Contentment is a very hard pill to swallow. In a world where more is never enough, there is little space left to appreciate what is in front of you. Music, televison, and even billboards boast of the “good life,” with a three car garage, the million dollar family, and the lavish trips to Europe. People obsess about the dollars, and live way beyond their means. So, the question is “What is enough?”

I remember purchasing my first home with my husband, and the excitement we both felt when we signed the legal documents. I walked through the house elated, planning paint colours and furniture placement. Each room seemed bigger than the last, and I felt truly blessed to finally have my dream become a reality…until… friends of ours took us to see the new homes being built at the top of our street. They had soaring ceilings, double staircases, and the biggest master walk-in closet you have ever seen. I deflated. Did I make a mistake? I went back home and started to see my home in a different light. The floors we would have to do over, the laundry that needed upgrading, the basement that wasn’t quite finished.

I had let my contentment be clouded by what I believed was better. I understand now that my home belongs to me, and there are so many people in this world who would appreciate a moment in my shoes. It is true, you could always go bigger, but I would rather live a life catered to my needs, than a life meant for someone else. Claiming your life and living it to the fullest, allows for us to live the lives we were meant to live, and be the people we were meant to be. I truly believe that my home was meant for me, and I plan on living my best life in it.

This week, I also had a friend confide in me about the hardships of living up to social standards. We all know what these standards are: School in our late teens, married and new home in our twenties, babies in our thirties, and retirement in our sixties. The question is: Why do we feel we should all be able to fit the standards? Given the fact that we are over 7 billion people strong in this world, is it really the expectation that we should all fit “society’s” description of the perfect life? That’s almost like saying we should all be blonde.

With so many personalities, and so many options for us to decide, it seems foolish to believe we could all move in the same direction. What would the world look like if we all did? I reassured my friend that she had to choose the best path for her, and to trust that her life is tailored for her, exclusively. Don’t allow society to dictate where you should live, if and who you should marry, or if you should have children. Those are the decisions that you alone could make on your personal journey. There will be no police to decide if you are right or wrong. In fact, the only one who holds you back from doing you, is you. When making decisions about your future, always be sure to look inside yourself to navigate the way.

Friday: The Socialite

When you see “The Socialite” segment, then you know it’s the weekend! What are your plans? The weather has not been fully cooperative with all the extra snow we’ve been getting, but we Canadians know how to make the best of it. Here are a few activities happening in and around Toronto this weekend:

 

 

 

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Recipe for Change 2020

Join FoodShare Toronto as we celebrate Black culinary excellence in support of programs that promote equitable access to good food across the city.

Enjoy an amazing evening featuring more than 30 superb food and beverage stations, starring some of the city’s best chefs and most enticing culinary creations. Move and groove to live music, and out-bid fellow foodies on one-of-a-kind items at a silent auction.

Our annual fundraiser is unlike any you’ve experienced before. Recipe for Change 2020 is putting a spotlight on the culinary artistry and vision of some of Toronto’s most dynamic Black chefs, brewers and winemakers. Take in the elegance of the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library and celebrate the power of food!

All proceeds support FoodShare. We advocate for equitable access to affordable, fresh and nutritious food and for food justice where everyone can feed themselves, their families and their community with dignity. Our community-led programs reach more than 250,000 Torontonians through school nutrition programs, urban farms and community gardens, affordable markets, and cooking workshops for newcomers, young parents, and people living in transitional housing.

Toronto Reference Library
Friday, February 28, 2020
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

 

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Winter Palace Ball

Ruskoka Camp’s annual fundraising event, the Winter Palace Ball, is quickly approaching!

Join us for an unforgettable evening as we waltz into spring in support of Ruskoka Camp on Friday February 28, 2020. The elegant Winter Palace Ball will feature exceptional performances, live music with two bands, a spectacular dinner service, a silent auction and a full night of dancing at Toronto’s historic venue – the Palais Royale.

We are excited to celebrate Ruskoka’s 20th year, along with 20 years of achievements of our campers, supporters and volunteers.

All proceeds directly support children’s programs at Ruskoka Camp. Tax receipts for the charitable portion of the ticket will be provided.

Buy your adult tickets for only $130 and students 21 and under for only $90!

Free parking. For tickets and information, please visit www.winterpalaceball.com.

February 28, 2020
6:30 PM – 2:00 AM
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90’s Glow in the Dark Paint Party at Paint Cabin!

It’s our 90’s Glow in the Dark Paint Party here at Paint Cabin ft. DJ Rec & Dj GadJet spinning your favourite 90’s Hip Hop, Reggae, RnB, & House music – we’re going old scool and spinning vinyl over here, WHILE you are PAINTING the night away!!!

What will you be painting … ANYTHING YOU WANT – yes thats right. YOU choose the image you want to paint (we are not a school, and not a class) Who wants to be in a class after work?!? NOT ME!

So bring in your own inspiration (no photos or anything realism please) and we will guide you through it OR come check out some of our inspirations at the studio.

$45.00 plus HST per person – includes all materials, workshop and instructors (drinks are separate) and you get a choice of a 12×12, 10×20, or 16×20 canvas.

We have a full bar at the studio with beers, wines, ciders and simple cocktails!!!

Reserve your spots by …

1. www.PaintCabin.com or click on the link!!

2. Email us at HELLO@PAINTCABIN.COM

3. Call us at 647 361 6017

Friday, February 28, 2020
8:00 PM – 11:30 PM

chicopee-tube-park

Snow Tubing in Greater Toronto Area

1. Mount Chinguacousy Ski Area

Enjoy a spin down the tube hill, then warm up at the cozy chalet. Night tubing and tube party packages and group rates are available. This is the nearest tubing hill from West end of Toronto, Downtown Toronto and Mississauga.Details

2020 Winter Hours:

January 7 – March 15, 2020
​Thursday – Friday | 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
​Saturday | 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
​Sunday | 11:00 am to 6:00 pm

Family Day – ​Monday, February 17 | 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

​Monday, March 16 – Sunday, March 22 – As weather permits.

Tube Hill Fees 2020
6 Rides — $14.20
12 Rides — $21.50
18 Rides — $28.34

Address: 9050 Wellington W, Brampton

Phone: 905-458-6555 ext 63707 – Hill conditions, general inquiries, tube parties, and administration

Accessible via Public Transport from Downtown Toronto ~ 1 hour

Distance From:

Downtown Toronto ~ 52 min (43.5 km ) via Gardiner Expy W
Mississauga ~ 30 min (20km)
Burlington ~ 45 min (60 km)
Markham ~ 33 min (42 km)
Pickering ~50 min (70 km)
Oshawa ~60 min (90 km)

2. Ski Lakeridge

Located in Oak Ridge Moraine, Lakeridge is the nearest resort with tubing to those in Durham, East end of City of Toronto (Scarborough) and Markham (depending on your location). Tube Park rates include snow tube rental, park access, and lift. Details

Address: 790 Chalk Lake Road, Uxbridge

Phone: 905-686-3607

2020 Hours – Call before you go.

Fridays: 7:00pm to 9:30pm
Saturdays: 11:00am to 9:30pm
Sundays: 11:00am to 7:00pm

+ School Holidays/PA Day Camps etc

2020 Tubing Pricing
1 Ride: $5.70 + HST
6 Rides: $27.00 + HST

Distance:

Downtown Toronto ~75 min (65 km)
Mississauga ~60 min (90 km)
Burlington ~90 min (130 km)
Markham ~30 min (40 km)
Pickering ~30 min (30 km)
Oshawa ~30 min (30 km)

3. Recreational Outdoor Campus

Four-lane snow tube hill offers thrills and spills for all ages. There is also a free toboggan run adjacent to the paid snow tube hill. You can reach ROC on YRT (York Region public transit). DetailsAddress: 26479 Civic Centre Rd, Georgina

Phone: 905-476-4301

2020 Hours:

Regular Hours of Operations
Monday/Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday to Friday | 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday | 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday | 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

+ School Strike Days

Holiday Hours
Sunday, Feb. 16 | 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Family Day (Feb. 17) | 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
March Break (March 16 – 20) | 10 a.m. – 9 p.m

2020 Tubing Only Pass
1 Ride: $4.00
6 Ride: $20.00

Distance:

Downtown Toronto ~80 min (80 km)
Mississauga ~80 min (100 km)
Burlington ~90 min (140 km)
Markham ~70 min (90 km)
Pickering ~60 min (70 km)
Oshawa ~70 min (90 km)

Snow Tubing near Greater Toronto Area

4. Blue Mountain

Tubing at Blue Mountain offers old fashioned winter fun for the entire family and gives all participants a gentle introduction to the Blue Mountain slopes.Details

Address: 108 Jozo Weider Boulevard, Blue Mountains

Phone: 1-877-445-0231

Distance:

From Downtown Toronto ~ 2 hours (160 km)
Burlington ~ 1 hour 10 minutes (175 km)
Mississauga ~ 1 hour 50 minutes (135 km)
Markham ~ 1 hour 50 minutes (160 km)
Pickering ~ 2 hour 20 minutes (180 km)
Oshawa ~ 2 hour 30 minutes (200 km)

5. Snow Valley Ski Resort

Named “best Ontario hill for kids” by Ski Canada Magazine. With a snow tube rope tow and lots of chutes with large lanes so you can go down along with your group of friends or your family. For the little ones (under 42″) there is a special Kids area! Details

Address: 2632 Vespra Valley Rd, Minesing
Phone: 1.877.404.4744

Distance:

Downtown Toronto ~ 1 hour 50 minutes (110 km)
Mississauga ~ 1 hour 30 minutes (115 km)
Burlington ~ 1 hour 45 minutes (150 km)
Markham ~ 1 hour 20 minutes (100 km)
Pickering ~ 1 hour 35 minutes (130 km)
Oshawa ~ 1 hour 45 minutes (200 km)

6. Horseshoe Resort

Head to the Horseshoe Adventure Park to fly down 5 big chutes and one magic carpet to whisk you back up to the top fast! DetailsAddress: 1101 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Barrie
Phone: 705-835-2790

Distance:

From Downtown Toronto ~ 90 min (133 km)
Burlington ~ 1 hr 46 min (165 km)
Mississauga ~ 80 min (125 km)
Markham ~ 70 min (115 km)
Oshawa ~ 1 hour 45 minutes ( 165 km)
Pickering ~ 1 hour 40 minutes ( 140 km)

Winter Season Hours

Monday Closed (Except Holidays)
Tuesday- Thursday: 10am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm
Sunday: 10am – 7pm

7. Chicopee Tube Park

Enjoy the winter thrill going down on one of the 6 chutes on the hill that is 250ft high and 900ft in length.
Children must be at least 42 inches tall and at least four years of age to Tube at Chicopee Tube Park. Park is open until Midnight on Saturdays from Park is open until Midnight on Saturdays. Children 12 and under are required to wear a helmet. Details

Address: 1600 River Rd E, Kitchener

Phone: (519) 895-2322

Public Transit Accessible from Toronto

Hours:

Regular Season:

Tuesday – Thursday: 4:00pm – 9:30pm
Friday: 9:00am – 9:30pm
Saturday: 9:00am Midnight
Sunday: 9:00am 5:00pm

9:00am to 9:30pm during Christmas break. Hours might change.

2020 Rates:

Adults: $25.00 (2 hrs)/ $34.00 (All Day Pass)

Children 12 and under: $21.00/$29.00

Distance:

Downtown Toronto ~ 1 hr 30 min (110 km)
Mississauga ~ 1 hr 15 min (80 km)
Burlington ~ 1 hr 10 min (70 km)
Markham ~ 1 hr 30 min (110 km)
Pickering ~ 1 hr 40 min (140 km)
Oshawa ~ 1 hr 45 min (160 km)

8. Arrowhead Provincial Park

A wonderful Ontario provincial park for a winter weekend getaway (and year round), Arrowhead Provincial Park has two warm-up shelters and an open fire pit at the top of the tubing hill!

Address: 451 Arrowhead Park Rd. , Huntsville

Phone: 705-789-5105

Distance: ~ 3 hours from Toronto – Plan a weekend getaway.

Cost:

Park Admission fees apply. Extra for cross country skiing.

 

 

That’s it for me! I am off to start my weekend. Enjoy yours! Bundle up, stay warm and drive safe wherever you go. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday: What’s Baking?

chocolate-dulce-de-leche-cake-10-1I was online tonight, searching for a fantastic cupcake recipe to add to my show list, when I cam across this beauty! Feast your eyes on this “Chocolate Dulce de Leche” cake. I don’t know about you, but this cake is speaking to me. It’s saying something like, “Just eat me and worry about the calories later!” Ha! Thank goodness I just got home from the gym, with the taste of weight loss success in my mouth. However, it doesn’t hurt to look and not touch, right;)

I will be making an attempt to recreate this cake recipe into a cupcake one, in order to achieve “safe” bite-sized pleasures that won’t totally sabotage your gym flow. For now, I’ll share the cake recipe, but do the cupcake version on Sunday at Home.

 

 

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake

 

Ingredients

Cake:

Dulce de Leche Buttercream:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter cubed, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Dulce de Leche storebought or homemade

Ganache:

Instructions

Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F, grease three 6″ round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
  • Place all dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
  • In a medium bowl whisk all wet ingredients (pour water in slowly as not to cook the eggs if very hot).
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
  • Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
  • Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. A total of 30-35mins.
  • Cool 10 minutes in the pans then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dulce de Leche Buttercream:

  • Place egg whites and dark brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
  • Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
  • Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
  • Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.**
  • Add dulce de leche and whip until smooth.

Ganache:

  • Place chopped chocolate and cream into a microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir. Microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until ganache is smooth and silky. Set aside to cool completely and thicken slightly before using on cake.

Assembly:

  • Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving dish. Top with about 2/3 cup buttercream. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for 20mins.
  • Using a small spoon, place dollops of ganache around the top edges of the cooled cake, allowing some to drip down. Fill in the top of the cake with more ganache and spread evenly with an offset spatula.***
  • Top with decorative dollops of frosting (I used Ateco tip 825). Drizzle slices with dulce de leche if desired.

Notes

* Ensure there is NO trace of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue won’t stiffen.** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.*** You may have some ganache left over.

 

*Recipe taken from livforcake.com

 

My advice to you is to make this cake only when you know you will have company over to eat it. That way, you won’t have to fight the cake starring at you on the kitchen counter every time you walk by! If you have to do it, you will need a lot of self-discipline to face off with a cake as gorgeous as that. I wish you luck! I hope you had a wonderful day. Remember to kick up your feet and drink a cup of tea. Breathe easy now because the weekend is fast approaching. Happy Thursday everyone!

 

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

Okay everyone! This is the big reveal! After a few weeks of tireless evenings working on this chalkboard project, I finally have a finished project for you to see. So, here is the  chalkboard example beside my masterpiece:

 

What do you think? I have to say a few things about my experience building a chalkboard like this. One: Very expensive. I have to be honest and tell you that I spent roughly $100 on supplies, and almost half of it was a repurchase, due to a few mistakes made along the way. It’s okay. Mistakes do happen, but it could stress your budget and take up valuable time. In order to save you from making the same mistakes as I did, I will share with you where I went wrong.

  1.  The Wrong Primer – If you are going to use material like pressed board as your chalkboard, you definitely want to prime with an oil or shellac-based primer first. This ensures that the board is protected from the water-based chalk paint, which prevents the board from warping.
  2.  Measure Twice, Cut Once – You definitely want to be sure about the measurements before going ahead and making your cuts. Wood is not forgiving, and if you decide to cut your chalkboard frame into neat diagonal corners, the 45 degree angles must be perfect the first time. Otherwise, you will have a hard time piecing the frame together in the end.
  3.  Don’t Use Expired Products – It can happen to anyone. You see that you have leftover paint or primer from your last project, and you decide to use it for your current one. Check the expiration date! It’s important when you are going for the look of quality. It seems like a good idea at first, until it spreads on too thick, or clumpy. Then you have real issues!

 

After two tries, my chalkboard came out exactly how I wanted it and I couldn’t be happier! Here is a list of all the materials I used for this project:

 

Lisa’s Chalkboard

Barn board (three 8ft pieces)

Pressed board (2×4 feet)

B.I.N shellac-based primer (small can)

Rust-oleum Chalkboard paint (small can)

No More Nails Adhesive (Tube)

Steel Wool (1 piece for sanding each coat)

Measuring tape

Rollers (foam)

Mitre Saw

Screws (For solid corners)

Power Drill

Accessories (Optional)

 

Directions

  1. Prime pressed board on both sides and along the edges twice. Be sure to do a light sanding with each coat. Make sure every coat is dry before the next coat.
  2. Paint the pressed board after the second coat of primer is dry. Do two to three coats, sanding after each dried coat.
  3. Measure 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 border and cut wood on a 45 degree angle for each corner. This will make a rectangular chalkboard.
  4. Seal corners with adhesive and screw in screws on top corners to ensure that corners are tight.
  5. Use adhesive to glue the chalkboard to the back of the chalkboard frame. Wait for the chalkboard to dry before adding accessories.

 

It seems easy peasy, but take your time. Some of these steps require patience and your full attention. I hope you will have as much fun as I did putting this project together. After you try it, let me know what you think. Is this project worth the effort? Or is it better to just raid your nearest Michaels and pay for a ready-made chalkboard? I know that you could not find a chalkboard like mine anywhere, and that is why I prefer it custom made! Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

contessa2

How many remember this lovely face? This is another one of my favs, “Barefoot Contessa.” If you watched her cooking show, you would recall the flavourful dishes that she put together with ease and charm. Her voice and demeanor reminds me of another person that I will definitely pay tribute to in the near future, Martha Stewart.  Her cuisine inspires many and she is still on television since 2002! Bravo Contessa!

I wanted to share a hearty recipe that I know you “soul food lovers” would enjoy! We are not out of winter yet, so let’s make the best of it. Here’s to, “Grown Up Mac and Cheese,” Contessa-style.

 

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

 

Yes, I know. It has carbs in it. It also has a whole lotta cheese! You could substitute with Cauliflower if you want, but you really take the fun out of it if you do! Make the most out of your night and go bold on a mac and cheese that holds no bars! Specialty cheeses, bacon (optional), and real pasta makes for a perfect grown up dinner. If you happen to partake this week, we would love to see how it turned out. Feel free to post pictures of your dish at the bottom of this segment. This recipe received rave reviews from over 300 people! So, it must be delightful! Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

Wallpaper! Wallpaper! Wallpaper! Where to begin? I am on the hunt for the perfect wallpaper for my laundry room. I’m looking for something grey and white, or possible copper/rose gold accent. There are millions of wallpaper prints to choose from. The problem is, which one is the best look for my space?

 

TimberTrails_October2017_057This will be the colour of my cabinets once I paint them. It will be a slate blue. I am looking for the perfect wallpaper to compliment this gorgeous look. What is your opinion? I have a few sample wallpapers below that I would like for you to choose from. Match the wallpaper you think looks best with these stunning cabinets, and I’ll share my favourite design with you, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, which one would you choose? Not easy, is it? I am personally obsessed with the marble look, and would be persuaded to go “glam”. However, laundry rooms should have a neat and clean feel, so a simple design might suffice here.  My head says to choose the sensible Scandi Leaf design, but I’m a marble girl all the way! Can’t help it. I’m just a “go big or go home” thinker, who is never afraid to live outside the box.

Which ever wallpaper you choose, I’m sure it is the perfect reflection of your personality and style. Choosing a design that you feel comfortable with, is what is most important when doing a makeover. You have to love it, not because Lisa says it’s fabulous, but that it’s what truly makes you happy. The space is yours. You ought to stand in it and be excited every time just because it is so you! Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday: At Home

Bugatti La Voiture Noire, GIMS 2019Hi everyone! To my surprise, I did not spend the day at home, but at the AutoShow with my family. All the plans I had for baking and crafting went out the window, but it was a welcomed change from the same Sunday schedule. What could I say about the AutoShow? It was definitely a place to dream, with Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bugattis, oh my! I couldn’t pick my husband’s jaw up off the ground. The cars were definitely a thing of beauty, and lots of fun to explore. The rules are, if the cars are worth a certain amount, they are either locked up, or on a “no touch” display. The Bugatti was the show stopper, priced at a whopping $19,000,000. Yes, that’s right! I did not add too many zeros.

The other brands, Honda, Volkswagen, Lincoln, and more, showcased some pretty models. I had my eye on the SUVs since I am a mother of three, and I was not ashamed to open every trunk to inspect the amount of space each one offered. At one point, I leaned over and said to a sales woman beside me, “You could tell a lot about a car from it’s trunk.” What does that even mean?? Oh man, I am slowly turning into my mother! The kids had fun going in and out of the front seats, pretending to take the steering wheel to drive. My husband had his eye on the new Dodge Ram truck, while I fell in love with the Genesis G80! That will definitely be my car when I no longer have to carpool.

We closed the house down tonight on the final day of the AutoShow, but if you are ever wondering when it happens in Toronto, it is usually in the middle of February for two weeks. We bought family tickets which was Two adults and two kids (under 12) for $50. My daughter got in for free because she is six. We spent about 3 hours looking around, but if you are a super car fan, you may easily take 5 hours to get a thorough look at what the show has to offer.  I am wrapping up the day with a nice hot tea, and my favourite show on Netflix. I hope you had a great weekend. I know I did. Let’s look forward to the week ahead. Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday: Reflections

 

change

My experience this week inspired me to write about the concept of change. There is a process to the whole thing, that includes: The break away, the turn of events, and the new direction.

 

The Break Away

This is the first stage of change, where you feel a tear from the life that you are used to. It is not an easy step, and it challenges the people who fear the separation. It could mean leaving a job, a family, a relationship, or even a country. Feelings of uncertainty and loss flood through your mind as you try to make sense of what is happening. Sometimes, there is no clear vision of the future, and the road ahead seems dark and questionable. It is the place that you grieve for what was, and where you sit in your sadness.

 

Turn of Events

This is second stage in the process of change, where a new opportunity presents itself in a nice shiny package. It arrives as a glimmer of hope that allows you to envision your life in a new, and exciting way. The challenge is still present because the concept has its uncertainties, but the possibility stands. I’m finding this stage to be the most nerve-wrecking in my change process because this will affect more than one situation in my life. Like so many others, I have my doubts, but I also stand firm in the belief that for growth to happen, this step is essential.

 

New Direction

This is the third stage in the change process where you see the changes blossom into your new beginning. The road is clear and the direction is forward. This is the place you can free yourself from any anxieties, and put your efforts into building the new chapter of your life. Tomorrow will never be for certain, but we should always be optimistic about the life we live today. Life is too short, and we have to take chances to ensure we live life to it’s fullest potential. It could be new love, a baby, a divorce, or even getting through the grief of loss. There is always something more to be appreciated, another opportunity to thrive, a new story to tell. If you are still among the living, your story is not finished yet.

 

So, why change? We are living a purposeful life. No matter how hard your situation, there is much to be examined and acknowledged. Could you imagine living this life only to find out that it was all in vain? Your experience in this world is unique and beautiful in it’s own way, because it shapes who you are. There is no replica of you anywhere in this world, and we have to celebrate that. Change is simply our GPS on the road we call life. Without it, we could never evolve into the promise of who we are today. Respect the process, and love the person who is born out of it. Happy Saturday everyone!

 

Friday: The Socialite

Hello! It’s Friday and we are at the end of our busy week. It was a short one here in Ontario, due to the Family day long weekend last weekend, but we all made it nonetheless. The good news is that it’s warming up this weekend in Toronto, so this means we could plan to be outside enjoying the mild weather. Let’s grab our pens and agendas and get down to business.

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CF Shops at Don Mills DJ Skate Night

Lace up your skates and join us Friday, February 21st 6pm – 10pm at the CF Shops at Don Mills Skating Oval. Enjoy skating to the latest tunes spun by Bounce Entertainment with your family and friends. Bonus!: Enjoy your next coffee courtesy of Tim Hortons with an exclusive Tim Card. Meet you there.

 

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Art Battle Toronto at Artist Project

Art Battle @ Artist Project 2020!
Please join us for an amazing showcase of live painting at Toronto’s best Art Fair. Watch the creative process unfold during this exciting live competition.
Don’t miss this very special event, admission to Art Battle is included with your ticket to Artist Project!

Tickets @ www.theartistproject.com

Friday, February 21st
*Art Battle begins at 7pm
*Artist Project is open from 11am-10pm on Friday, Feb. 21st

Better Living Centre
Exhibition Place
Toronto, ON

WHAT IS ART BATTLE?
Art Battle® is live competitive painting. Painters create the best work they can in 20 minutes. As they work, patrons move around the easels, closely watching the creative process. At the end of the round, the audience votes democratically for their favourite painting and bids in silent auction to take the work home. Check artbattle.com for local listings!

 

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Hamilton in Toronto

With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton’s creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award® Winning Best Musical In the Heights.

Hamilton features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.

The Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide. The Hamilton recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.

Lumina Toronto Zoo

Terra Lumina at the Toronto Zoo is the eleventh unique experience created in Moment Factory’s Lumina night walk series.

After nightfall at the Toronto Zoo this winter, you are invited to pursue an immersive experience along a 1.5 km walking path that travels into the future and back.

Your journey begins when a portal carries you into the luminescent wonders of the year 2099, a time when humans and nature have learned to live in harmony.

Let yourself be transported by vibrant lighting, multimedia effects, breathtaking video projections and an original score to an enchanted world filled with possibility. And explore this bright and hopeful future to reveal the powerful secrets of tomorrow.

Toronto Zoo
December 13, 2019 – April 13, 2020
6:30 PM – 8:45 PM
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Toronto Light Festival 2020

The Toronto Light Festival offers a visual journey and a playful adventure throughout the walking streets of The Distillery District. During the cold, dark days of winter, The Toronto Light Festival offers visitors a reason to bundle up, get outside and celebrate the season, creativity and life in the big city. The Festival, now in its third year exhibits local and international light artists. Artworks are curated to educate, warm hearts, inspire or just put a smile on visitors faces.

Distillery District

January 17 – March 1, 2020

6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

 

*Information taken from BlogTO
There are a lot of interesting outdoor events going on in the city, so be sure to bring your hat and mittens for later on in the evening when it gets chilly. Grab a friend or two to make the evening exciting, and don’t forget to be safe out there. Toronto is a vibrant city, full of non-stop action and adventure. If you have never been here before, don’t take my word for it. Come to Toronto to discover first-hand, all this city has to offer. I promise you, it will be worth the trip! Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday: What’s Baking?

This week, I thought we would venture into early spring festivities by searching for the perfect pink champagne cupcake recipe. I’m excited about this flavour because champagne speaks to the idea of celebration, and its pastel colour reminds me of spring. These cupcakes are perfect for baby and wedding showers, as well as a house warming parties. I will be attempting this cupcake on Sunday in hopes that this recipe will be the one I use for my spring show in March.

 

Champagne-Cupcakes-Homemade

Pink Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream

Ingredients

Champagne reduction

  • 3 cups Champagne
  • 4 Cherries

For the cupcakes

  • 140 grams Unsalted butter
  • 150 grams Sugar
  • 150 grams All-purpose flour
  • 2 Eggs large
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 120 ml Champagne reduction above
  • 1/2 tsp Clear vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Champagne extract optional
  • 2 drops Pink food color optional

Champagne Buttercream

  • 1/3 cup Champagne reduction above
  • 228 grams Butter unsalted
  • 500 grams Powdered sugar confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Champagne extract optional
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 4 drops Pink food gel color
  • 2 tbsp Whipping cream or milk (if necessary)

Instructions

Prepare champagne reduction

  • Crush the cherries slightly to bruise them.
  • Place champagne and cherries in a saucepan on low heat.
  • Reduce the liquid to almost 1/3 of its original quantity.
  • Set aside covered to cool.
  • Use the amount requested in each recipe for the cupcake as well as buttercream.

Prepare Cupcake Batter

  • Preheat oven to 160 C / 320 F.
  • Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
  • Swift all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder – set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment or hand whisk until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • Next, add the extracts vanilla and champagne.
  • Now add flour and champagne.
  • If the batter is too stiff add one or two tablespoons of milk.
  • Add pink food color – mix to incorporate.
  • Scoop batter into cupcake liners.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before decorating.

Prepare Frosting

  • Cream the butter using a paddle attachment for a minute.
  • Add the champagne reduction – cream for a minute more
  • Then add salt, champagne extract, vanilla extract
  • Lastly, add powdered sugar one cup at a time until light and fluffy
  • If necessary add whipped cream for consistency.

Decorate

  • Place the buttercream in a piping bag with a large star nozzle.
  • Pipe a swirl over cooled cupcakes.
  • Garnish if desired.

Note: About Champagne Reduction

If the final quantity of champagne reductions becomes less then you need for the recipes, you can add top it with regular champagne or whipping cream.

*Recipe taken from veenaazmanov.com

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As for the Key Lime Cupcake recipe, I did manage to bake them and share with my friends during games night.  The reviews were generally positive, but a few issues were discussed:
1) The cupcakes were heavy
2) The icing should be light and airy, like whipped cream
3) The cupcake should have more of a lime flavour to them
I agreed to change up the first two issues, but I’m not too sure about the last. The lime flavour is in both the icing and the cupcake, and with so much flavour coming out of both ends, adding more could feel like you’re biting into a lime! Although I appreciate the advice, I will go with my gut on the flavour and keep it as is.
I will use whipping cream for the icing, paired with icing sugar (which will add firmness). I will also play around with the flour to milk ratio to see how I can make my cakes a bit lighter. We will see how they turn out once I make these changes. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best! Happy Thursday everyone!