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Top Six Attractions for the Fearless Torontonian

It’s the summer and what better way to enjoy yourself than with an attraction that sends shivers down your spine. Ontario is full of adventure and offers exciting opportunities for thrill seekers. Here is a list of the top ten Ontario attractions.

1. O.Noir
Ever wondered what it would be like to have dinner in the dark? O.Noir offers customers the opportunity to eat in complete pitch-black darkness, emulating the dining experience of the blind while being guided by visually impaired waiters. They even offer surprise main courses and desserts.

2. Scarborough Bluffs
This is great for those who are not ready for the extreme height of the CN Tower. At the Scarborough Bluffs, you’ll get to hike up the slope as high as 300 feet above Lake Ontario. This combines a great view of the lakeshore with a sensation of vertigo.

3. Niagara Falls
Get up close with this natural wonder, which is only 90 minutes away from Toronto. Niagara Falls offers attractions including Maid of the Mist and Journey Behind the Falls. For those looking for major excitement, the Whirlpool Jet Boat gives a tour through the rapids.

4. Paintball
Toronto’s suburbs offer several paintball facilities (indoor and outdoor) for those who enjoy ground warfare mixed with sportsmanship. Paintball is a safe sport if you stick to the rules and definitely delivers heart-pumping excitement. There are paintball arenas in the GTA including Paintball City, Defcon Paintball and Gladiators Paintball Arenas.

5. CN Tower Glass Floor
As if high views weren’t dizzying enough, the CN Tower’s Lookout Level contains a 256 square-foot solid Glass Floor. It gives you the sensation that you’re walking on air. The glass is very durable since it is built to hold the weight of 14 large hippos, so there is no need to worry about breakage.

6. CN Tower EdgeWalk
If you’re looking for the world's tallest full-circular, hands-free walk, 1,150 feet above the ground, look no further than the heart of Toronto. The CN Tower offers the EdgeWalk around the top edge of the Lookout Level pod, which allows you to stroll at the edge of the tower while being held by only a safety harness. Feel free to take breathtaking photos to show your friends what you’ve accomplished.


Top Five Spas in Toronto

Through the eyes of Amy...

Are you stressed out because of the Holiday Season? Looking to escape the cold for just a little while? Well, you're in luck because Toronto has some of the best spas around- offering massages, facials, steam rooms and much more. So what are you waiting for? Take your pick and put your feet up! Here are the best spas in Toronto.

1. Body Blitz
This is a womens only spa, which has two Toronto locations. It sets itself apart from other spas with its specialized “water circuit” based around ancient water practices. They also offer their signature full body scrub. And after all of that, visitors can relax in the pools and saunas.

2. Hammam Spa
The Hammam Spa is a grotto-like spa that is located underground at King and Portland. The spa is set apart by its unique steam room that gave the spa it’s name. One of their top selling massages is their one-hour Swedish massage. A visit costs $55, and you can also get a free visit when purchasing a treatment over $100.

3. Elmwood Spa
The Elmwood Spa is spread across four large floors, which in total contain 34 treatment rooms and also includes two restaurants. This spa truly is Toronto’s urban oasis with its complimentary use of the “water therapies” areas including a whirlpool, steam room and swimming pool.

4. Four Seasons Spa
The Four Seasons Spa encompasses a massive 30,000 square feet. The spa’s spaciousness provides an open environment. The price tag for this spa does not come cheap since sample treatments include gold plumping facials for $250, or a patchouli-and-hemp infused package for $420.

5. Sweetgrass Spa
The Sweetgrass Spa (a womens only spa) offers its signature Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage ($150), which is a special technique which uses the entire forearm. Or you can try their 24- karat gold leaf mask ($195). This spa also contains an ozonated swimming pool and an infrared sauna.


Top Five Easy DIY Holiday Gifts

Through the eyes of Amy...

We know that the Holiday Season can be quite the burden on your wallet, so if you're feeling crafty we have some DIY projects that you gift to your special somebody! These projects are fun, easy, and spread holiday cheer without having to spread out your finances.

1. T-Shirt Designs
Get creative with your digital designing skills and create a design that can be ironed onto a shirt with special icon-on t-shirt transfer paper. Take care to follow the printing instructions in the packaging carefully and take note of the washing instructions.

2. Handmade Clay Charms
From Polymer to Fimo clay there are many types of bakeable clays you can use to mold your very own custom-designed charms. Simple tools such as a small blade or texture tools would help you add detail to your charm as well.

3. Printed Towels
Get some fabric paint, sponges, scissors, and blank towels. Cut the sponges into whatever shape you want, dip the sponge design into some fabric paint and splot away on the blank towel for a simple and fun design.

4. Chalkboard Frames
Stay organized throughout the summer with your very own chalkboard by taking an inexpensive frame and painting the glass with chalkboard paint. Glue a strong magnet onto the back of your new chalkboard so that you can put it up in your room.

5. Personalized Tote Bags
Some fabric dye, fabric paint, a blank tote bag, and paint brushes are all you need to create a personalized tote bag. Whether it is for the beach or casual shopping, you will be going out with flare.

Feel free to share photos of your own results of these do-it-yourself projects!


Top Eight Summer Sun Safety Tips

Summer is an exciting time of year. With the beautiful weather, family and friends have the opportunity to enjoy an abundance of warm weather activities. Your plans may include a vacation, camping, swimming, picnics, barbecues and other fun summertime events.

However, summer fun can easily turn into summer injury. Many summer activities pose unique dangers and safety risks. With careful planning, safety awareness and preventive measures you can help to avoid the risks so you can have a fantastic and safe summer. The following information contains helpful tips that should help keep you safe this summer.

1) Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest.

2) If you are going to be in the sun for any length of time, find an area with "structured shade," such as a wooded clearing, to block as much of the sun as possible. The sun is strongest at the beach, where sand and water reflect the sun's damaging rays.

3) Always apply a generous, uniform amount of sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Reapply regularly if you go swimming or stay in the sun for a long time.

4) If the sunscreen is waterproof, let it dry for 30 minutes before going in the water.

5) Use sunscreen even on cloudy days, especially if you plan to be outside for any length of time.

6) Keep infants out of the sun. Start using sunscreen on children at 6 months of age and limit their exposure. Sunscreens are not approved for infants younger than 6 months.

7) Wear sunglasses and protective clothing, such as hats. If your skin burns easily, long sleeve shirts and long pants can provide added protection.

8) Avoid tanning salons and lamps, which produce ultraviolet radiation that can damage your skin just like sunlight.


Top Five Shopping Spots in Toronto

The Holiday Season is quickly approaching and its time to hit the shops! With so much diversity in Toronto, there is something for every special person on your list, so I've brought you five of the greatest shopping spots in Toronto. Whether you're emptying out the wallet or hoping to be thrifty for the Holiday Season, there's a spot for you!

1. Toronto Eaton Centre
The Toronto Eaton Centre houses more than 250 stores. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, it is the third largest mall in Canada and one of Toronto's biggest tourist attractions. The stores appeal to the budget conscious and spendthrifts alike. The Eaton Centre connects underground with the Toronto PATH network of shops and businesses, which is great for cold or rainy days. More than just a place to shop, the four-level, glass domed Eaton Centre is architecturally stunning and features sculptures of Canadian geese in flight, Flight Stop, designed by artist Michael Snow.

2. Bloor-Yorkville
Yorkville is a delightful shopping area in the midst of Toronto high rises and shopping malls. Tucked into a pocket of downtown, the quaint Victorian architecture of Yorkville houses dozens of restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Bloor Avenue runs adjacent to Yorkville and features upscale retailers that include Holt Renfrew, Prada, Hermes, Gucci and Hazelton Lanes.

3. The Hudson’s Bay Company
Canada's oldest corporation has several different store chains in Toronto and hundreds across Canada. The flagship store is right across from the Toronto Eaton Centre on the corner of Bay and Queen. The Bay is a good old-fashioned department store with everything from clothes to household items. The Bay is particularly famous for its Hudson's Bay Blanket, sold for more than two centuries.

4. Chinatown
Toronto has the second largest Chinatown in North America. There are bargains on exotic trinkets, jewelry, clothing and household items. And of course, where there's a bustling Chinatown, there's delicious Chinese food. There are dozens of restaurants serving not just authentic Chinese, but also Vietnamese and other Asian fare. Chinatown runs along Spadina from King Street to College.

5. Kensington Market
Kensington Market is great if you want to get away from high rises and department stores. The market offers a nice respite from the usual big commercial trappings. Adjacent to Chinatown, Kensington Market has a plethora of retro shops, cheap and used clothing stores, cool cafes, furniture shops, great restaurants, and a variety of ethnic and organic produce stores.


Top Four Delicious Beat-the-Heat Treats!

Looking for tasty frozen dessert recipes this summer? Well, look no further! Here are four frozen treats to satisfy your sugar craving:

1. Kiwi Ice Pops
This is a tasty bright green ice pop that is perfect for kids and adults. The recipe is also refreshing and very simple, making it a cool way to put out the summer’s sizzle.

1 ¾ cup(s) water
1 cup(s) sugar
4 kiwis
½ cup(s) (about 4 limes) fresh lime juice

1. Make the syrup: Combine 1 cup of water with the sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Set aside to cool.
2. Make the ice pops: Using a paring knife, cut kiwis into quarters, and peel. Place the kiwi pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée to a liquid. Combine the puréed kiwi, 3/4-cup syrup, lime juice, and remaining 3/4 cup of water in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into molds and freeze until solid (about 6 hours).

2. Ice Cream Sandwiches
With this recipe you have the freedom to customize your very own irresistible ice cream sandwiches.

Ice cream (any flavor)
Additional coating (sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc.)

1. Bake or buy a batch of your favourite cookies.
2. Fill with the ice cream flavour of your choice.
3. Coat the sides with sprinkles, chocolate chunks, or nuts.
4. Freeze on a tray until firm, then wrap tightly in waxed paper and stack in an airtight container.

3. Plum Smoothie-Pops
These pops promise a deliciously pink plum-fresh taste and will definitely offer a cool blast during the hot weather. This mixture serves as a great smoothie. So for those that can’t wait for them to freeze can grab a straw and start sipping.

¼ cup(s) sugar
1 tablespoon(s) corn syrup
1 pound(s) assorted plums, pitted and chopped
8 teaspoon(s) fresh lime juice
6 ounce(s) plain yogurt

1. Bring the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and cool. Puree the plums, syrup and lime juice in two batches, using a blender, until smooth. Stir the plum puree and yogurt together in a large mixing bowl.
2. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top, as the mixture will expand when it freezes. Follow popsicle mold manufacturer's instructions and freeze until solid (about 4 hours).


Top Eight Travelling Hacks for the Frequent Flyer

If you are the type who loves to travel, then here is a travel guide with simple and smart tips that will assist you during the lengthy preparation process.

1. Use a private or incognito window when booking flights and hotels online. Travel sites often track your visits and will raise the price just because you previously visited their site in the past.

2. Keep loose chargers and cables organized with a glasses case. This will help you keep your cords organized and you’ll be less likely to lose them.

3. Put a dryer sheet at the bottom of a suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh. This is a great way to ensure that your clothes don’t smell bad in the luggage and you won’t have to go through the process of washing and drying them all over again.

4. Instead of folding, roll your clothes to save a lot of luggage space. This will allow you to pack more of your favourite clothes. If you have clothes that need to be folded, use tissue paper to keep them from wrinkling.

5. Use a pill container to keep jewelry organized and untangled. If you’re the type that carries a lot of jewelry, this tip is a definite lifesaver. This will also prevent you from losing small pieces of jewelry.

6. Scan important documents before leaving for your trip. This comes in handy in the unfortunate event of theft or misplacement, specifically having extra copies of your passport, identification cards, and flight itineraries that you can access through your smartphone or tablet.

7. Put your smartphones in airplane mode. This will allow you to save the battery on your phone and charge your phone a lot faster.

8. Take the aisle and window seat when reserving airline seats for two people. This ensures that you and someone else will sit together during the flight. If you’re stuck with the middle row and no one takes the middle seat, you get a full row. If someone does have the middle seat, kindly ask if he/she will switch seats so you can sit next to your travel partner.


The TTC- Driving to Change Customer Service Standards

It's been awhile since I have boarded a TTC bus at Finch Avenue and Weston Road, but this is where I met one of the best bus drivers that I have ever come across.

Many Torontonians will jump at the chance to complain about the TTC and it's employees, but I have nothing but praise for this particular bus driver. He wowed me with his level of professionalism from the moment I stepped onto the bus. Not only that, but he groomed himself very well and he created an aura that would welcome passengers onto the bus. Simply put, he was the poster child of the ideal TTC driver.

I'm quite new to Toronto and I am not extremely familiar with various TTC routes around the city, so I guess I wore a very confused look on my face as I approached his bus. The bus driver looked at me and asked, “Where exactly are you going? I noticed you’re a little bit undecided whether or not to ride this bus.”, to which I replied, “Scarborough, Duncan Mills to be specific,”. “In that case you can ride with me to York Mills Station and from there you will join another bus to your final destination.”, he advised. While he sat there, waiting for a couple of minutes to leave, he struck up a conversation with me where we discussed a couple world affairs, social issues, sports, and even my past on how I found myself in Toronto.

As the bus departed the station, I took my seat and I began to think that this bus driver was quite the rare gem. I watched him as he would smile and greet commuters as they entered and exited the vehicle. His smile was so infectious that some passengers acknowledged and commended it. I even heard one elderly lady say “You make my day, driver!”, as he lowered the bus so she could get off at her stop with ease.

As we pulled into York Mills Station, he made sure to point me into the right direction. From here, I knew exactly which bus I would have to take in order to get to my final destination and I was very thankful. As I turned around to wave goodbye, he sent me off by saying, “Have a great day and you be careful!”. 

I know that I was doing something quite mundane and routine, but I really began to ponder what a difference quality customer service makes to a business, be it private, public or charity. This bus driver emulated a positive customer service experience and he truly makes me look at the TTC in a different light. This just goes to show how far a little kindness can go to make a customer’s day and leave a lasting impression.


Top Money-Saving Grocery Tips

Grocery shopping can get quite expensive- especially when it seems that your kids are inhaling everything in the kitchen! Here are some money saving tips for you and your family to stretch your food dollar without having to sacrifice taste or nutrition.

1. Plan Ahead of Time
Planning out a week’s worth of meals in advance helps to take the guesswork out of mealtime and ensure you only buy the ingredients you need. Make sure to check what foods you need to store in your fridge and cupboards.

2. Keep an Eye out for Impulse Buying
Always bring a shopping list with you when going to the grocery store because you’ll be less likely to impulse buy when armed with a list. Also, eat before heading to the store. You’re less likely to over-shop when your stomach isn’t growling.

3. Keep an Eye out for Sales
Dedicate a couple of minutes flipping through grocery store flyers. Only buy items that you really need. Stock up on non-perishables like cereal, whole wheat pasta, pasta sauce, canned beans and canned fish when they are on sale. You can also buy bread on sale and freeze it for up to one month.

4. Shop the Periphery
Concentrate your shopping in the periphery of the grocery store – this is where you’ll find all the healthy essentials like meat, fresh produce, dairy and bread. The more superfluous products are found in the centre aisles.

5. Buy in Bulk
Many dry goods, such as oats, nuts, pasta, dried fruit, spices, flour, sugar and cereals are less expensive when bought in bulk. Buying Club Pack meats like ground beef and salmon provide great value and ensure you always have a supply of high quality protein. You can also freeze individual servings in re-sealable freezer bags.

6. Store your Groceries Properly to Avoid Waste
Store meats, fish and dairy products at the back of your fridge where it’s coldest. Wrap foods well and keep your fridge at 4° Celsius or colder to reduce spoilage. Keep meats on the bottom shelf so they don’t drip on other foods. Store eggs in their original carton in the body of the fridge (not on the door). Throwing out food is like throwing away money.

7. Check your Bill
It’s a good idea to watch each item as it’s scanned through to ensure you’re charged the correct price.


Top Five Vintage Stores in Toronto

There are tons of fashion trends from the 80's and 90's making their way back onto the scene and many top retailers are taking notice. If you're anything like me, you hunt for deals and you're not willing to pay top dollar for the “latest” styles that you can find for a much cheaper price. This is why I'm bringing you my five favorite vintage stores in Toronto. Chic, stylish, and affordable? I'm there!

1. House of Vintage
The House of Vintage, located in Parkdale, showcases flamboyant shirts, sequined frocks and maxi dresses for summer. Browse their accessories, which include leather boots and wing tip brogues. Also, their t-shirts and button down shirts are located at the back of the store.

2. Life of Manek
Life of Manek is considered to be the vintage spot in Little Portugal.  Located near Dundas West, this vintage shop includes psychedelic maxi dresses, ‘80s heels, handbags from the 1950s and leather flats.

3. Penny Arcade Vintage
Penny Arcade has plenty to offer the young and hip in the Dundas West neighbourhood with old school rocker basics such as ‘90s band tees, bohemian dresses and acid wash jean jackets. They also sell denim shorts, woven flats and leather skirts for the summer.

4. Gadabout
This vintage store is located near Leslieville and they have a trove of clothing, accessories, curios and trinkets. Their skirts and dresses are organized neatly by size. Their clothing style ranges from Edwardian era to the ‘70s, with everything from Gatsby styled dresses to ‘40s structured blazers.

5. Cabaret
Located on Queen St. West, Cabaret is known for their comprehensive knowledge of high-end clothing. Their products include body-skimming 1960s dresses, sparkly brooches, flapper frocks and cuffs. The men’s section, which is located downstairs, contains a spectacular selection of sits and ascots for the modern day male who is dedicated to style.