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Stay Cozy: Toronto Restaurant Edition

Dear universe: I have got it in my mind that I would reallyx3 like to receive a Seafood Platter. It's so opulent.  I'm gonna forget about it so it comes true. TRUST.

Dear universe: I have got it in my mind that I would reallyx3 like to receive a Seafood Platter. It’s so opulent. I’m gonna forget about it so it comes true. TRUST.

Toronto temperatures are dipping to that Montreal sub-zero, nasty frost-bite uncomfortable.  It’s when leggings aren’t enough if they aren’t fleece lined or you forego looks and acquiesce to looking puffy (multiple thermals layered beneath chunky wool sweaters).  “Ok fine! You win Winter!” Ugh, I have the worst static-y hair when I remove my trapper hat.  When they issue an extreme cold-weather warning, you best listen.  And if you haven’t declined all socials in exchange for the warmth of that duvet taco as my friend P calls it, you better have a damn good reason for stepping outdoors. Buuuuut delicious food is always a good reason, non?  We’re reallyx3 lucky in Toronto to have a plethora of dining options to keep our tastebuds sated.  Even if I’m frrreeeezing, at least my tummy is full of warm food. Here are a few of my fave Toronto cozy spots that you can bundle up for:

The Federal: These sandwiches are better in real life. Like worth eating bread. TRUST.

The Federal: These sandwiches are better in real life. Like worth eating bread. TRUST.

The Federal (1438 Dundas West) – There is a hotbed of dining options on the Dundas West strip.  This charming restaurant serves up brunch, sandwiches and late-night noshes and cocktails.  Recently, popped in for brunch with my friend A and we almost licked our plates… that good!  They were sold out of Belgian waffles but there were so many delightful options that we needed a few extra minutes to edit our selections.

This End Up: The secret is out! Make Resos to avoid disappointment. I love to sit by the bar. TRUST.

The secret is out! Make Resos to avoid disappointment. I love to sit by the bar. TRUST.

This End Up (1454 Dundas West) – Very close to the first option, this sandwich and cocktail joint is a hidden gem. I reallyx3 shouldn’t be telling you about it.  You can have the most delectable dinner without breaking the bank.  This diner offers a 50/50 variety of vegetarian and carnivore lovers options but everything on the menu is beyond expectation like Kimchi chili fries, Daal Frites, Tofu Tacos or my perennial favourites the Baja Fish. I am always surprised with the bill because it’s never over $50, everrr!

My favourites things are Libraries and Walk-in Closets. This reminds me of the latter. TRUST.

The Good Son: My favourite things are Libraries and Walk-in Closets. This reminds me of the former. TRUST.

The Good Son (1096 Queen St. West) – This eclectic English library-meets den from Top Chef Canada finalist Vittorio Colacitti brings a mix of rustic Italian favourites and fusion cuisine.  This is an open space (occupying the former Nyood), with an inviting old-fashioned cocktail bar, leather banquettes and high tables; diners can watch all the action through the open kitchen.

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February 15, 2015   No Comments

Sweater Coziness: Channelling The Holiday

Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. Sherling coats and leather driving gloves. I also need a drink.

Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. Sherling coats and leather driving gloves. I also need a drink.

So don’t make me watch a rom-com, unless the fashion is good. Maybe I can handle a 1/2 hour but then promise me, we can switch to a zombie dramedy.  You swear? Right now, I’m building a winter cozy wardrobe reminiscent of Cameron Diaz in The Holiday (2006).  The premise is that Cameron Diaz’s character longs for a change of scenery from LA and switches homes with English Kate Winslet during holiday season.  Trading in the sunny palms of West Coast for the quaintness of cottage life in the English countryside, shenanies ensue.  I don’t remember the rest.  At some point, she also hooks up with  hottie mchotterson Jude Law (pre-nanny scandal).

But I digress. My interpretation of channelling Cammy in The Holiday… aka Chalet Chic-y.

Blanket brilliance: That ubiquitous Burberry blanket cape monogrammed if you are fameuse or too lucky.

Blanket brilliance: That ubiquitous Burberry blanket cape monogrammed if you are fameuse or too lucky.

Sister: "You look like a grandma" Moi: "Oh yeah, the baggier the better." Trust. Zara Oversize Cable Cardi

Sister: “You look like a grandma” Moi: “Oh yeah, the baggier the better.” Trust. Zara Oversize Cable Cardi

I'm so fancy, you already know: J. Crew cashmere sweater in camel

I’m so fancy, you already know: J. Crew cashmere sweater in camel

Even though Cam wouldn't necessarily wear this hat, I would keep my head warm in Beyoncé's double pom pom

Even though Cam wouldn’t necessarily wear this hat, I would keep my head warm in Beyoncé’s double pom pom

Chillin' Pop Dylan: Cam lounging about in her creamy cable knit sweater. That looks like fun.

Cam lounging about in her creamy cable knit sweater.

And if you’re looking to trade places this holiday season, flash-forward 2014 and we’ve got Airbnb.

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November 6, 2014   No Comments

My Fave Spots in Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles true neighbourhood vibe.

Roncesvalles true neighbourhood vibe.

I love Roncey.  On the western edge of the city, the happening stretch of Roncesvalles between Howard Park and Queen Street is a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood overflowing with gourmet restaurants, cozy cafes, independent retailers and fresh fruit markets.  I was really lucky to accompany my friend D on a foodie lovers walking tour in the summer hosted by Yellow Pages Taste Your Neighbourhood & the Roncesvalles BIA.  My friend and I were the requisite tour girls who lagged behind sampling and buying everything.  Ahem, we were taking one for the team and supporting local.  Yeah we were.

La Cubana (392 Roncesvalles Ave.) – With its retro green and red subway tiled walls and open kitchen, this Cuban style diner is charming and funky.  The menu boasts an overwhelming selection of diner favourites with a latin twist.  Of course there is the Cuban sandwich, corn frituras and empanadas.  Try them brunch or dinner.

La Cubana

La Cubana: Great décor, delicious smells and friendly service.

Barque Smokehouse (299 Roncesvalles Ave.) – You would think as a vegetarian I wouldn’t be into it but the smell of those baby-back, baby-back ribs almost turned me carnivore.  But alas, I lived vicariously through my friend S who tried the sampler of ribs, chicken, brisket and Italian sausage.  I had the plank salmon with a variety of sides which included heirloom tomato salad, panko crusted penne n’ cheese and bbq-spiced French fries.  We didn’t talk for half an hour because we were too busy eating.

Just so you know, Barque Smokehouse is always crowded but this is what it looks like without patrons via EnRoute

Just so you know, Barque Smokehouse is always crowded but this is what it looks like without patrons via EnRoute

The Mercantile (297 Roncesvalles Ave.) – Gourmet meets giftshop.  If someone wants to buy a gift or surprise dinner party guests with something to ‘ooh and ahh’ over, you will find an array of specialty snacks, artisan teas, chocolates and preserves galore in this treasure bursting pantry and sweet boutique.

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October 13, 2014   No Comments

The Love Collage Celebrates 5 Years!

Macaron Eiffel Tower: Though I am a kind and generous person, I am not sure if I would share. ps. If ever in doubt, Pistachio & Salted Caramel are my faves.

Macaron Eiffel Tower: Though I am a kind and generous person, I am not sure if I would share. ps. If ever in doubt, Pistachio & Salted Caramel are my faves.

I love my blog.  I reallyx3 do.  If you read my ABOUT page, you’ll understand why.  While I don’t have the time I used to when I started five years ago, it’s still an important outlet for me to write, share my ideas about the places I travel, the great restaurants with the most delicious food, the chicest boutiques and vintage shops I frequent and the cultural happenings that keep me excited about living in Toronto. I have a fun life and I always count my lucky stars and bank my Supermoons.

I have a dear friend who also manages a blog and we chat about when and if to call it quits as other life priorities take over.  My feeling is, I will continue writing as long as the passion is there.  It’s a creative space that evolves with me.  If there is one thing I have learned about any love collage — whatever I write about on my blog or put on my actual board comes true.  Sounds hokey but TRUST.  And another grain of wisdom, put your energies in the things, people, places and interests that inspire you.  When you look back, you will only have fond memories and few regrets.

“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” – Anais Nin

The patron saint of The Love Collage Anais Nin dressed as a flamenco dancer in Paris. This picture pretty much sums up my life.

The patron saint of The Love Collage Anais Nin dressed as a flamenco dancer in Paris. This picture pretty much sums up my life.

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August 14, 2014   No Comments

Beyoncé & Jay-Z On The Run Tour: Sartorial Concert Options

Don't believe the hype! Or maybe they want you to (jedi-mind trick). 43 songs including beloved classics. I can't wait for "I Just Wanna Love  U"

Don’t believe the hype! Or maybe they want you to (jedi-mind trick). 43 songs including beloved classics. I can’t wait for “I Just Wanna Love U”

It’s been weighing heavy on our minds this week.  My VIP carpool has been cranking up the Beyoncé (all my single ladies!) in anticipation for the On The Run concert.  We’ve been comparing our favourite lines from Drunk In Love, with a unanimous vote for “last thing i remember is our beautiful bodies grinding off in that club” and “surfboard-surfboard” (obviously!).  After we’ve cooled our excitement, the next heavily contemplated topic of discussion is what to wear.  Here I present you a myriad of choices to ponder when thinking of your concert-inspired wardrobe.  Remember, to consider your audience. XO

Beyoncé in Versace for New Year's Eve with a bold hottt pink lip. They call it Maximalist style. Too much is never enough.

Beyoncé in Versace for New Year’s Eve with a bold hottt pink lip. They call it Maximalist style. Too much is never enough.

Versace, Versace, Versace: B in Miami with a custom Atelier Versace bodysuit. Loving that emblem cap.

Versace, Versace, Versace: B in Miami with a custom Atelier Versace bodysuit. Loving that emblem cap.

Oh let me just throw on my Givenchy Couture cape and bodysuit. Fancy!

Oh let me just throw on my Givenchy Couture cape and bodysuit. Fancy!

Purrrr! Need me some cat ears. I am super particular about my accessories but these ones from Asos are on the money honey.

Purrrr! Need me some cat ears. I am super particular about my accessories but these ones from Asos are on the money honey.

How about that polka dot bodysuit you weren't sure you would get the right ROC (return on compliment) on? Beyoncé wiggle-wiggles for Jay.

How about that polka dot bodysuit you weren’t sure you would get the right ROC (return on compliment) on? Beyoncé wiggle-wiggles for Jay.

Tom Ford makes Varsity chic in sporty sequins.

Tom Ford makes Varsity chic in sporty sequins.

Canadians girls do it better: Double denim Canadian tuxedo. Wear it sexy for your mandatory hair fling during Grown Woman.

Canadians girls do it better: Double denim Canadian tuxedo. Wear it sexy for your mandatory hair fling during Grown Woman.

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July 3, 2014   No Comments

I Shop on Queen West West, Therefore, I Am

If you’re going to eat your feelings, go with Gelato! via Vogue Italia

My day started off kind of crappy.  So to rid myself of the blues, I put on my most flowy floral, maxi skirt printed with flowers and tigers, an opulent gilded, pair of braided gladiators and my sunglasses.  Then I got into my car (Habeeba), opened my sunroof and hit Queen West West for some retail therapy.

High ROC (return on compliment): Maeve Banda Skirt from Anthropologie

High ROC (return on compliment): Maeve Banda Skirt from Anthropologie

Though I live downtown, I haven’t been on a proper stroll to pop into the cute boutiques — there are so many new ones which is fun, exciting and most of all, dangereuse (dangerous in French).

Here were some of my faves:

Zumel & Co (863 Queen St. West) – Filled with racks of colourful blouses, dresses and feminine separates, I think this would be a good place to find a lovely outfit for a daytime cocktail or a unique piece for your work wardrobe.

Cabaret (672 Queen St. West) – This is an oldie but a goodie.  A family owned vintage shop specializing in 1920-1970’s clothing.  Nothing cheers me up like going into the basement of a vintage store, trying on random retro outfits and digging for hidden treasure.  Nothing.  I got my besties’ bday present there – an elaborate, Art Deco black beaded headdress which they died over.  Plus, the shopgirls were sooo nice and loved my gypsy jetset outfit. PS. I love you.

Wildfox Couture Pop-Up Shop (711 Queen St. West) – Vintage inspired casual wear for dreamers.  Based out of LA, this brand is all about distressed terry cloths, soft slub t-shirts, relaxed sweaters and Malibu-inspired beachwear.  A fave brand of celebs this pop-up will be here at least until the end of Summer.  I could not resist the cute quotient of a Koala pullover because obviously, koala is my power animal.

Taylor Swift in her Love Potion No. 9 Wildfox pullover

Taylor Swift in her Love Potion No. 9 Wildfox pullover

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May 24, 2014   No Comments