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I’m a social coffee drinker now.

I used to drink coffee religiously and heavily back in my undergrad years where caffeine was my only friend who stayed up with me and helped me pull all-nighters before exams or putting last minute touches to assignments and papers. Ever since I graduated, I stopped drinking coffee because it was really messing with my sleeping habits. But once in a while, I miss that warm cup of sweet and bitterness in my mouth, so I give in and get a cup (or two!). Instead of going out to those overrated coffee shops (which I do too often) such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and McDonalds, I like to go to independent coffee shops in Toronto and try something new. In the last month or so, I’ve gather a few independent coffee shops in Toronto that I’ve visited and am going to share my experiences with you.

Jacked Up Coffee: Probably the most prettiest coffee truck I’ve seen (ok, its the only one I’ve seen. But to be fair, there aren’t really any other coffee trucks in Toronto, so). Located at the entrance of the Yorkville Village Mall, it adds a nice festive touch to the overall Christmas vibing aesthetic of the area. With a wide selection of coffee types, I opted for a flat white. It was very smooth and creamy and was exactly what I needed to warm up while I browsed the shops in the Mall.

The Coffee Lab: Hidden in a bookstore on the University of Toronto downtown campus, this ‘nerdy’ shop serves up a special drink called The 6 for $4.16. Sounding so Torontonian and cool, I obviously had to get it. Consisting of precisely measured (and scientifically proven) 2 oz espresso, 2 oz drip coffee and 2 oz steamed milk, the flavor turned out as great as I had expected it to be– rich, creamy and kept me high allll day 🤩.

Tucana: Walking along Dundas Street, my eyes were drawn to this cute little pink walled shop with large neon signs that bared COFFEE. Already, that sucked me in (haha). Walking inside definitely gave me tropical South American vibes. The staff was very friendly and we chatted for a bit while he made my latte. My drink tasted great, more bitter than I’d usually take my latte. I would definitely return here for more coffee and enjoy the warm aura of this place.


De Mello Palheta: Located inside Merchant Sons, a retail concept store selling hand-picked vintage furniture finds that remains in the store as permanent fixtures, this little coffee bar allows customers to enjoy coffee while browsing the showrooms. For those with a penchant for shopping like myself, this place is the perfect experience for enjoying both coffee and shopping in one place.  I ordered the almond milk latte and I must say, it’s probably the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had. The flavor was unexpecting and was out of this world.  I could drink this everyday. 


The Boxcar Social: I seriously envy those living in this neighborhood. I would go here everyday just to hang out or do my work. The space is clear enough for me to feel decluttered and free to concentrate on work stuff. But the bar is cozy and friendly enough for me to just unwind and have a drink with friends. The high ceilings connote an air of fanciness, which is great for hosting small gatherings/events. Ok, coffee wise, it was mediocre. I went for the tasting which consisted of three different types: Brazilian, Ethiopian and Colombian. Maybe it’s me but I just was not feeling any of the flavors. Perhaps it was not brewed long enough.

I’d love to try more new coffee places in Toronto. If you have an suggestions, please let me know in the comments 😊

XOXO, 

Linda 

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Nike x ELXR Juice Lab

Today’s blog post is inspired by self love for your body through living an active lifestyle and eating healthy. I’ve always believed that if you feel great physically and mentally, you’ll look amazing. With a busy schedule of the student life, I often find it hard to squeeze time in to work out. And so recently, I’ve found a short workout routine that works for me, taken from Kayla Itsines’ workout app. It’s heart pumping, sweat releasing and only takes about 15 minutes to complete.

To start, I like to begin by doing stretches on my workout mat at home to relax my muscles. After, I move on to my regular workout routine (taken from Kayla Itsines’ workout app):

  1. 15 Bent-Leg Jackknifes
  2. 15 Straight Leg Raises with a Hips Lift
  3. 15 Ab Bikes
  4. 15 Mountain Climbers
  5. 15 Snap Jumps
  6. 15 Sit-Ups with Reach
  7. 15 Tuck Tuck Jumps
  8. 10 minutes on exercise bike (my own add on)
  9. 10 minutes on the Elliptical (my own add on)

After a workout, I’ll drink up something green. I usually keep the blend green. I don’t normally have the time to blend myself a drink so I’ll just head out and buy it.

I’ve recently discovered a line of cold pressed juices called ELXR Juice Lab. They believe in promoting longevity and reliance on simple, unadulterated wholesome nutrition for the whole body nourishment. They offer cold pressed juices, protein-dense plant based mylks, booster shots and cleanse packages. Below, I’m holding the Second Base cold pressed juice which contains cucumber, granny smith apple, kale, parsley, spinach, lemon, ginger. This drink is specially great in detoxification, aiding digestion, immunity, healthy skin promotion, anti-oxidizing, and stabilizes blood sugar level. It tastes great! Very refreshing and a fantastic energy boost.

On days when I have a bit more time on hand though, I like to make a green drink in advance and have a drink before and right after my workout (it’s really refreshing!). Here’s my recipe (does not require a juicer):

  • 300 grams kale
  • 100 grams cilantro
  • 100 grams parsley
  • 400 mL water
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 tbsp honey

Recipe yields 2 servings

Directions:

  1. Place kale, cilantro, parsley and water into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour contents into a larger strainer and use a spoon to press the pulp against the strainer until dry to allow the liquids to fall into a bowl placed underneath.
  3. Slice oranges in halves and use a wooden citrus reamer to extract the juice into a small bowl. Remove any seeds in juice.
  4. Now add to the orange juice to the green juice and add the honey for sweetness. Of course you can add more or less honey according to taste.
  5. ENJOY!

This drink should be consumed within 6  hours. It is ideal to drink it immediately to ensure freshness.

Zip Up Hoodie: Nike

Jersey: Nike

Leggings: Lole

Sneaker Wedge: Steve Madden

XOXO,

Linda

 

 

 

 

 

Cirque du Soleil VOLTA 🎪👏🏼

Do you want an easy way to change your life? One that only takes 2.5 hours of your time? Go to Cirque du Soleil VOLTA. Seriously. It changed my life. I’m so glad I took the opportunity to attend the show and see the famous ensemble in action. If I can afford it, I’d go more often than my current financial situation will allow me 😅

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Last Friday, I got the opportunity to attend the incredible Cirque du Soleil VOLTA in Toronto.

I’ve never been to an acrobatic show before, so being able to go to one for the very first time filled me with inexplicable excitement. I couldn’t wait to fulfill my FOMO on something that I should’ve done years ago!

The show started at 8pm, so I made sure to get there early to browse the event grounds. Standing at the foot of the towering tents was overwhelming, but also mesmerizing with the lights descending in swirls ✨

As I entered through the tent doors, I was greeted by a beautiful circus performer all dolled up for the show. The smell of popcorn and cotton candy in the air reminded me of those hot summer days at the CNE–except that warmth! It was so frigid in there (but don’t worry, the main tent that housed the show was well insulated and cozy).

As the lights dimmed and other small lights emerged, the show was starting. Volta is brimmed with everything you know or expect about an acrobatic circus show. A beautifully crafted story, risky trampolining, graceful swinging ropes, masterful acrobatic tricks, pulsating line walking, and bold bicycle tricks. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, finding myself getting nervous, heavy breathing, heart racing and even praying under my breath! Also, the energy emanating from the entire performance is one of the most contagious I’ve ever felt.

 

And so to say the show kept me uber entertained is an understatement. It reinforced something deeper. That practice really is perfection. That with enough focus, dedication, and commitment, you can accomplish anything. Do you know how much time was put into the making of this show??! So that’s how the show changed my life. I was seeing a different perspective, inspired by something so live, beautiful and unseen of in my life!

I could probably learn these lessons in other settings (and probably have), but this serves as a great reminder in those 2.5 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: 8.9/10

P.S. The mere fact that the host really emphasized that the audience’s life will change at the beginning of the show did not have an impact on how I think my life was going to change (haha).

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About Volta: Volta revolves around Waz, a popular game show host who has it all on the outside – fortune and fame, but has lost his inner identity. Throughout the performance, we get glimpses of his childhood and everything that adds up to give meaning to this life. From shedding his fears, he was able to find his true self and embracing and celebrating his differences and show it to the world with pride.

Cirque du Soleil Volta runs from September 7, 2017 until November 26. So you still have time to purchase tickets and attend this breathtaking show!

XOXO,

Linda

 

 

Helping Homeless Youth One Plate at a Time: Eva’s Taste Matters 🥂

This past Thursday, I had the honour of attending an event hosted by Eva’s Initiative for Homeless Youth Organization partnering with TD Bank. Taken place at the exquisite Liberty Grand in Toronto, the night was filled with an abundance of freshly prepared fine foods and beverages. With the help from so many supporters, Eva’s is able to continue to provide nutritious food, a safe shelter, and 24-7 support for homeless youth. Such an incredible initiative! I couldn’t be more happy to join and support the night 💖

 


     

Aside from providing nutritious food and safe shelter for homeless youth, Eva’s also offers many great programs and workshops to enhance the lives of these youth including counselling that help youth to reconcile with their family. This includes mending family breakdowns, conflicts, communication difficulties, life and parenting skills. Eva’s team offers many workshops such as the Drug and Alcohol Awareness group (DAAG), Healthy Sexuality, Art Therapy, Stress Management, Life Skills and Recreation.

For more information on Eva’s Initiative for Homeless Youth Organization, visit www.evas.ca

Twitter: @evasinitiatives

Instagram: @evasinitiatives 

XOXO,

Linda

*This post has been created in partnership with Eva’s Taste Matters.

Queen Street West x Eats

In today’s blog post, I’ve put together some of my new favorite places (at the moment!) to eat and drink. The neat thing about these places is that aside from the great food selection, they also have great ambiance and a hip enough vibe to keep reeling me in.

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So it’s 10:30 am and you’ve finally woken up because it’s a Saturday and you’re allowed to sleep in (duh). Buuuttt you still need that cup of coffee to pick yourself up so you can make it through your day. Early Bird Coffee and Kitchen is the place to be! With hanging plants and cacti that run vertically down the walls along with a GORGEOUS pink walled patio, this newly renovated cafe is modern, hip and definitely California-vibin’. Meanwhile, their coffee is carefully measured and made to a T. While I didn’t grab anything from their food menu, I glossed over it and it sounds like brunch would’ve been a delicious affair. I didn’t grab food here because I was craving for the tacos at The Dime. More on that below!

[613 Queen Street West]

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Now that you’ve covered those morning yawns, you need to take care of that growling belly! But where? The Dime on Queen! That’s right, everything is as cheap as a dime. But really, every item on the menu is $4.95 and it’s gonna fill you up good (especially the burgers that come with peppered fries -mmm). And what’s even better is that on weekends, they serve up brunch and everything on that menu is, you guessed it, also $4.95! Hip patio, cheap food, great portions, and great tasting food! what more could you ask for??!!

[538 Queen Street West]

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After all that shopping and roaming around Queen Street West, you’ll probably want a quick snack. So next up, Soufi’s Syrian Restaurant. This family run restaurant is Toronto’s first Syrian resto-cafe, serving up their two specialties: a wide selection of mana’eesh (flatbread) and knaffeh (cheese and phyllo pastry dessert). Ranging from $5-$7, this light snack will surely satisfy your dessert craving.

[676 Queen Street West]

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Where are your favourite places to eat in downtown Toronto? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy eating!

XOXO,

Linda

Tim Hortons x Peace Collective 🇨🇦🇨🇦

Canada is home. Home is Toronto. 🇨🇦🇨🇦

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Back when I used to live in Vancouver, I attended a community elementary school for underprivileged children. One of my favorite memories of my elementary years was going on field trips once a week that were sponsored by names of organizations that I was too young to remember nor understood. I remember in first grade there was a class trip to the Vancouver Aquarium. I was so excited about being in a new environment that I was eager to learn everything. I’ve never really revealed this before to anyone but that single incredible moment in my life sparked my desire to go on and major in Biology at the University of Toronto. I’m so thankful for those sponsors that gave me unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime, and a lesson that I will carry with me forever–to be grateful no matter what.

In honor of everyone who has ever done their part to give back to the community, locally or globally, I write this post as an individual on the receiving end to say that I am so grateful for your gratitude, compassion and love for giving others opportunities that they could not have otherwise gotten.

I’m also grateful that I can proudly call Canada my Home because Canada is the global representation of what it means to be Giving. Canadian made companies like Tim Hortons gives me a lot of hope that other children who are in the same situation that I once was are able to do and experience the things that they can’t afford. I’m so pleased that they continue to ignite joy and happiness in the lives of many children.

Today I’m showcasing 2 things that represent Canada to me. Tim Hortons coffee and the clothing brand Peace Collective. Both are Canadian born companies and support a cause that helps underprivileged youth.

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Founded by a famous hockey player in the sixties in Ontario, Tim Hortons has thrived for over 50 years. This successful coffee and donut franchise has not only expanded Canada wide but also globally. What’s great about Tim Hortons is that it supports a cause for youth. The Tim Horton Children’s Foundation lends a helping hand to youth coming from low-income families in Canada and the United States. They believe that money should not be a barrier that’s preventing children from actively participating in youth leadership programs and camps.

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Photo taken from http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/childrens-foundation/index.php/

Once a year, Tim Hortons organizes a day called “Camp Day”, where all the proceeds of their coffee sales go towards youth camps and programs. And for the past 25 years, they have helped over 200,000 underprivileged youth attend leadership and community camps. Incredible! 🙌🏼

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Photo taken from http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/childrens-foundation/camps.ph

The Peace Collective brand was created in 2014 with a very Canadian idea in mind. Their clothing has a main message: show the world you’re proud to be where you’re from. For example, there’s Toronto VS Everybody, Home is Toronto, or Canadian as f*** (as seen in my outfit).

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Peace Collective has specially made their pieces for the Blue Jays, Junos and the upcoming 2018 Olympic games in South Korea.

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Photo taken from @joeybats19 Instagram account
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Peace Collective wear for the 2018 Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. Photo taken from http://www.thebay.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/thebay/home-of-champs-sweater-0600089482975–24

So what’s great about Peace Collective is that they support a cause called Breakfast for Learning. Over 1 million Canadian children face hunger and this local Canadian charity helps to end child hunger by providing nutritious foods during their day at school in order to reach their full potential in class. Again, children are the next generation and they will be the ones shaping our future, so investing in them is the best kind of investment.

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Photo taken from https://www.peace-collective.com/pages/the-cause

Again, I’m so grateful to be living in such a supportive country. Knowing that such Canadian brands/companies are giving back to our own community definitely puts a smile on my face and I’m proud to call Canada home. Because home is Canada. ❤️

XOXO,

Linda

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Beanie from Burton Snowboards

Crew Neck Sweater from Peace Collective

Distressed Jeans from Garage Clothing 

Ankle Booties from Aldo Shoes 

Pocky x Pencil Skirt 🎀🍓

Today’s blog post is inspired by one of my favourite childhood Japanese snacks, Pocky! What exactly is Pocky? They’re biscuit sticks dipped in a flavoured cream, such as chocolate, strawberry or green tea. Such a simple treat, yet so popular and sophisticated thanks to its delicate shape and exquisite artificial flavour.

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As a child, going to the Asian supermarkets with my dad was always a treat! He’d let me pick any item I wanted in the snacks aisle and by some strange force of nature, I always gravitated towards the Pocky.

To relive my favourite strawberry flavoured Pocky memories – I styled together a light pink pastel coloured outfit to channel my inner youthful love for the ever-iconic snack!

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So other than the semblance in colors, what other connection is there between the pocky sticks and pencil skirt? Well, I did a little history check on both and found that the first ever Pocky box was sold in Japan in the sixties, and the pencil skirt made their fashionable debut in the sixties when Christian Dior wowed the fashion world with his modern take on the classic pencil skirt!

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So lo and behold, these Pocky sticks and pencil skirts blossomed just about the same time but in opposite sides of the globe! Haha so random! But hopefully when you’re eating Pocky sticks and wearing a pencil skirt or see someone wearing one, you’ll think of this random fact 😉

Let me know if you’ve ever had Pocky and if so, what’s your favourite flavour? 😊

 

Blouse and Skirt from Dynamite Clothing

Sandals, headband, and glasses from Forever21

Greasy Pizza x Wearable Pizza 🍕🍕🍕

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Why just eat pizza, when you can BE pizza (mind-blown *boom*)!

Have you ever heard of the saying: “If you don’t eat it, you gotta wear it”? You probably haven’t because it was a rule created in a YouTube series called “Day of Gluttony” – a series that takes the viewers through a day’s worth of nonstop eating at 24 different restaurants in a city within 24 hours. The hosts/eaters, Harry and Bruce, bravely takes on this challenge in numerous cities across North America, including our very own Toronto. At the beginning and middle of the YouTube video, they finish their orgasmic meals so effortlessly that you can’t help but think their stomachs must be the size of two belugas. But of course, they’re only human and they nearly blackout by the end of their challenge. By the 20th ish restaurant, they are begging to call it a night! So if they can’t finish their food, they’re forced to wear it home (imagine fish cakes slapped over their heads and pasta pieces dangling at all angles).

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This inspired today’s blog post. Instead of wearing your greasy pizza, you can now wear a fashionably realistic pepperoni pizza printed sweater to make your pizza eating days much more enjoyable and Instagram picture worthy! Although this trend is not currently the hype in the fashion world, you’ll definitely stand out from the crowd – or should I say from the pizza-eating crowd!

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This is definitely one of those go big or go home type sweaters where you’ll be turning heads! They are offered exclusively from Shelfies.com!

And by the way, since Halloween is coming up and you want something nice and cozy to go out in, this would be a no brainer!

Below are some other inspired realistic all-over food printed apparel to spark your inspiration for your next fun ‘wear what you’re eating’ outing!

What are you dressing up as for Halloween? 🎃

Hopefully it’ll be a delicious one! 😉