Salton Sea

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I LOVE exploring! After hearing so much about this place I finally headed to the Salton Sea last week for a little bit of exploring.

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We decided to drive around the entire body of water, stopping at different locations whenever we felt like it. The desolation is real at the Salton Sea. What used to be a resort area in the 50s is now almost completely abandoned. The smell of decay and strong salty stench is present everywhere you walk around. There are also an innumerable amount of dead fish and birds on the waterfront due to the water’s salinity.

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While we were driving around we saw a film crew shooting. The area is a renown location for movie, music video and television shoots.

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Over the years, many plans have been proposed to help rehabilitate the Salton Sea but not much progress has been made. It’s a truly beautiful place with so much potential, it’s sad to see that nothing is really being done to save this body of water. With its amazing desert location, I totally understand why it was a vacation spot 60+ years ago. A must-visit for sure!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Reef Rover HI LX (get them here), TOMS Adeline White Black Sunglasses (get them here).

V Palm Springs

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Palm Springs is one of my favorite destinations to travel to in California. There are many things I love about the city: the architecture, the food, the surrounding scenery, etc.

I first started paying attention to Palm Springs thanks to social media. A lot of the people that I follow visit Palm Springs either for Coachella or for a quick weekend getaway. Staying in a unique place like Palm Springs will make people want to photograph it. Apparently, Canadians in particular, love showing off while traveling. A recent study published by Hotels.com shows that 36% of Canadian travellers admit to uploading photos to social media (Hello Instagram!) just to show off and 20% admit to checking into places on social media just to make friends jealous. I can personally admit getting serious FOMO when seeing people post about Palm Springs.

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Another thing I love about staying in Palm Springs is the incredibly food selection. The city being a major foodie destination, I am always on the lookout for hot new restaurants to try while in the area. According to the Hotels.com study, 60% of Canadians look for tasty food before searching for attractions and beaches when traveling. We’re a generation of foodie travellers so we are always on our phone looking for where to have our next delicious meal.

Using my mobile device also allows me to feel like a local when I travel. Almost 50% of Canadians will use mobile maps to get around and will rely on mobiles to learn the local lingo. There’s nothing I hate more than walking around looking at a big old paper map.

Another must when traveling for me is free wi-fi. In 2016, if a hotel doesn’t offer free wi-fi, I usually don’t even look at the property. 28% of Canadians also do the same, only selecting hotels that offer this service because being connected is key for today’s modern traveller.

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to stay at a brand new hotel that has only been open for a few months. The V hotel, located adjacent to downtown Palm Springs, is a sleek and modern hotel that offers top of the line accommodations with a cool boutique feel. There is nothing quite like being one of the first to try out a hotel. I did a little Unrooming video for Hotels.com on my first impressions of the room at the V in Palm Springs.

For more Unrooming videos, check out Hotels.com.

Are You Game?

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If there’s one thing that watching the Olympics has for me done this year is encouraged me to be even more active… If that’s even possible!

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Lately I’ve been paying more and more attention to tennis because there are so many Canadians leading the way in the sport.

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Growing up, tennis was a pretty important part of my summers. I took countless tennis clinics, took part in weeks of tennis camp, attended the Rogers Cup in Montreal and watched my fair share of tennis tournaments on television.

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I stopped playing tennis during my teens but have been playing on and off as an adult. Lately, with all the attention Canadian athletes have been getting, it has motivated me to get back on the court. Tennis is such a great workout and way to spend time outdoors, I wish I would have been out again sooner. The city of Toronto also has a handful of free tennis courts around the city that are perfect for either beginners or those wanting to polish their playing skills.

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I’m excited to be back on the court brushing up on my skills. I’m currently looking for a tennis partner in the city, so hit me up if you’re game!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Wrap-Around Low-Impact Sports Bra (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Mudmoiselle

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Looking for a great sporting event to take part in and help out a great cause all at once? Then consider taking part in one of the Canadian Cancer Society‘s Mudmoiselle races coming up in the next couple of weeks.

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Mudmoiselle is much more than just a mud run. The goal of the event is to not only raise funds for the organization but also but also raise awareness for all types of cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society is the primary funder of cancer research in the country. Their mission is to educate Canadians on the 200 different types of cancer, work on cancer prevention and help those affected by cancer through a variety of services and support.

This women’s-only 5k and 18-obstacle run is all about having a good time. The course is open to all levels and is a good introduction to mud runs for those who are new at these kinds of sporting events.

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One of the most inspiring things about Mudmoiselle is seeing women like Sherry Meehan, who are currently undergoing treatment for cancer be a part of the event.

I asked Sherry to share a bit of her story and why she continues to take part in sporting events while battling cancer.

I have led an active lifestyle with exercise since my 30s and starting to run in my mid-40s, eating well and looking after myself so it was a surprise (shock) to me to be diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year. Everything happened so fast from the diagnosis to the surgery and then the start of treatment that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. I always thought that if I ever got cancer I would just go into a corner and die but fortunately that didn’t happen. I was lucky to have a very treatable form of breast cancer and, being risk averse, chose the most aggressive treatment for chemo and radiation,” she explains.

At the time she was already signed up for the Mississauga Marathon and with the support of her husband and friends continued training and even completed it. “I found the importance of a good support network made a huge difference and I had enough friends and family that stepped up to support me,” Sherry adds.

During the past couple of months, Sherry has continued being active even during her intensive treatment rounds. “Keeping active during chemo and radiation is not easy. You feel tired, nauseous, have bone or muscle pain, low blood counts and not be eating or sleeping very well. BUT any activity you can do will benefit your recovery,” she says.

For me, it increased my appetite, helped me sleep better, minimized a lot of the side effects so they were manageable and increased my energy. I worked with a personal trainer two days a week, ran when I could and did some yoga and stretching to remain limber. I wanted to maintain as much muscle mass as I could during treatment so I could recover my health faster after treatment was done and I could go back to my regular life,” Sherry continues, “running has given me some mental toughness and that really helped in dealing with treatment.

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As to why she wanted to partake in an event like Mudmoiselle, she explains that as a benefiter of the research done by the Canadian Cancer Society, there’s no better run to support. “I gathered some sister-in-laws and a niece and am busy making pink costumes for us. We are not fast runners but every race we do is one where we have fun and support each other! Since that seems to be the theme for this event we will fit right in. It will also be a challenge for me but it will make me feel stronger at the end,” she concludes.

There are a handful of Mudmoiselle events that will be taking place across Ontario in the next couple of weeks. The dates and locations are as follows:

August 20th – Sudbury, ON

September 10th – Beaver Valley, ON

September 16th – Kingston H.S., ON

September 17th – Kingston, ON

September 17th – Halton, ON

September 24th – London, ON

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I am excited to be taking part in the Halton event on September 17th with my sister. I can’t wait to drag cancer through the mud!

For more information on Mudmoiselle or see how you can raise money for the event, go here.

Estrella Damm Tapas Journey

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Last summer, I had the chance to travel to Spain to get my first real tapas experience. Since then, I’ve wanted to find out more about these saucer-sized plates as well as the culture of tapas.

I was therefore thrilled to find out that the Estrella Damm Tapas Journey was returning to Toronto again this year. This culinary tour features some of the best tapas from the culinary leaders of the city. The Tapas Journey allows local foodies to enjoy three flavourful and thoughtfully curated tapas as well as an Estrella Damm, a refreshing lager that has been brewed in Barcelona since 1876, all for $20.

I had the opportunity to check out 3 of the 38 hand-picked restaurants along with three of my girlfriends last weekend. What I love most about these bite-size dishes is that even as a vegetarian, you still have a handful of delectable options to choose from.

The first stop of the evening was Scaramouche. Chef/owner Keith Froggett has been making sophisticated cuisine in the city for 35+ years. So it was a real treat to taste some of his tapas. His warm queso fresco bite was so refreshing.

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Scaramouche

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For our second stop we visited Fat Pasha located just a few blocks awayChef Anthony Rose incorporated his Middle-Eastern, Israeli and Canadian flavours to craft some savoury treats. I’m still craving his delicious falafel a few days later.  

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Fat Pasha

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We concluded our tasty evening at Bar ReynaChef Omar Ma (THR & Co., Cava, Buca Yorkville) who had prepared mediterranean-styled bites. My favorite of the 3 tapas was without a doubt the eggplant byaldi pinxtos. 

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What I loved most about the Tapas Journey tour is that you can customize it however you like. You can pick whichever combination of restaurants and do as many or as few as you want. Additionally, you get to taste some of the city’s best dishes without breaking the bank! It was such a thrill going from one restaurant to another, while tasting scrumptious food and having great conversations.

The Tapas Journey runs until August 21st. For more information, visit: tapasjourney.com.

Photography by Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Estrella Damm

This post was written in collaboration with Branding & Buzzing but all opinions are my own.

How I Survive Summer Workouts

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Who here actually drinks the recommended 2-3L of water per day? Who here drinks even more when they work out? I am totally guilty of not drinking enough water, especially when I work out. This summer, I’ve been making a huge effort to drink more water every day. It is really the only way I can survive my summer workouts.

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The benefits of drinking water are pretty extensive. Some of them include: increased energy, flushing out toxins, improving skin complexion, boosting the immune system, relieving headaches and fatigue, preventing cramps and sprains, and the list goes on.

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With the heatwave currently in effect in Toronto, drinking water is primordial, not only if you work out but if you spend any time whatsoever outdoors.

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Every morning when I leave the house, I always pack 1-2 Boxed Water with me to make sure I drink at least 1L while I’m working. I also usually bring 1-2 more boxes with me when I work out. If I’m running, I’ll make sure to drink before I leave for a run, during the run and also immediately after. I really see a difference between the days I drink a lot of water and those where I do not. I used to run without drinking a lot of water and I’ve noticed that not only did it affect my speed and endurance but it also affected how I felt afterwards. Same goes for any type of gym workout. Drinking water is so key!

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Boxed Water is available for purchase at Loblaws and Sobeys across Canada.

Photos by: @thehogtowntable

Hair by: Cabello by Carolina

This post was written in collaboration with Boxed Water but all opinions are my own.

#SPOKECHELLA x CAMH

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There’s a great event happening on Friday in Toronto that I wanted to share with you all today. As some of you may know, I took part in CAMH‘s campaign for mental health One Brave Night in the spring. I’m excited to share with you today a special event that will be taking place at the end of the week with CAMH and Toronto’s top spin club and one of my personal favorites – SPOKEHAÜS.

They are teaming up together for a special #SPOKECHELLA x CAMH bike ride, the biggest outdoor ride in the city! The ride will be taking place on The Brainstation x Quantum Coffee Co. Patio at 12pm and 5:30pm. 100% of the proceeds from the ride will go directly to CAMH – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

SPOKEHAÜS’ founder and lead instructor Christine Tessaro will be there, so will special guest singer/songwriter Madeline Merlo, who will be on-site to sing “War Paint” live for the ride home, a song inspired by standing up for loved ones who are struggling with mental health).

There are still some tickets left for Friday’s special #SPOKECHELLA x CAMH ride so make sure you sign up for a great time and great cause! Tickets available here.

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5 Questions With: Sarah Phelps

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Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching my grandma paint. I was always fascinated by the different techniques she used, the vibrant colours, etc. So much so that she eventually offered to teach me and for me to take painting lessons. Though I’m not particularly gifted as an artist, I have always liked drawing, painting and expressing myself in a variety of creative ways. It’s inspiring to hear about women like Toronto’s Sarah Phelps, who have pursued their dreams of being an artist. I’m thrilled that she took time away from her paint brushes to answer a few of my questions in my latest 5 Questions With below.

1) What first got you interested in art?

I’ve been an artist my entire life. When I was younger, I focused on drawing portraits and had very little interest in painting. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I tried my hand in abstract painting, and haven’t looked back! 

 

2) Why did you want to pursue abstract vs. other forms of art?

Abstract painting gives me the freedom of expression, to use my emotion and just go with the flow. When I create, I have no plan in place, and rarely know what the painting will look like in the end. The less I think about the outcome, the better the painting turns out! 

 

3) What are some of the main messages you try to convey through your artwork?

My paintings have good energy and positive vibes. I want my pieces to inspire others and bring them pure happiness, joy, and inspiration. When I look at my own paintings, I always feel something (as opposed to seeing something). It is up to the viewer to determine the story behind the painting, and what it means to them.

 

4) What is it like to be an artist in a place like Toronto? Is there a supportive art scene here?

I believe that it isn’t the place that determines your success, it’s your motivation, drive, and perseverance. The Toronto art scene is decent and becoming more supportive. That said, it’s important to put yourself out there to get noticed, go after the opportunities that you desire, and to continuously network and connect with people worldwide if you want to move forward with your art career. I sell my art to people all across the board, from Toronto to Vancouver, Italy, Bermuda, Switzerland, Indiana, etc, so it’s not all about where you are located. 

 

5) Where would you like to see your artwork take you one day?

Although I am currently successful in my art career, I want to push the boundaries, travel, and I’m determined to make it big as a well known artist! I have a plan in place and executing it as we speak!  

Being Active During Ragweed Season

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Ragweed season is here but there are still lots of great ways to stay active during this sensitive time of year.

Unfortunately ragweed is a plant that can produce a million grains of pollen each day. Ragweed season usually begins in late summer, i.e. now and can continue up until September or even October depending on the year. Southern Ontario is particularly affected by ragweed and though one might think that living in an urban area like Toronto would help, ragweed can grow just about anywhere and therefore is also present in the air in big cities. Due to global warming, ragweed season has been getting longer as a result of trees and plants getting a longer growing time. However, this shouldn’t stop anyone from remaining active as there are many ways to fight against or reduce ragweed allergy symptoms.

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If being outdoors is too much to handle, there are lots of great free fitness classes that are available around the city every week. These full body conditioning-type workouts will keep you active even if you have to stay indoors. Also, Toronto being a very fit city, there are a ton of drop-in classes being offered across town at all times during the day and evening. Anything from boxing, barre classes, yoga, boot camps, etc. You name it, Toronto’s got it.

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If you can still manage working out outdoors, there are a handful of tips that can help you stay active even if your allergies flare up. The first recommendation is to be able to identify what ragweed looks like and to stay away from it. Second, if you have a home, make sure to remove (or get someone to remove it for you) ragweed from your property. A third tip that is essential if working out outdoors is to shower and wash your hair immediately after coming in from a workout. Also make sure to leave the clothes you wore working out, outdoors and wash them right away. If you do plan to exercise outdoors, be sure to use REACTINE® before going outside, as it can start to work in 20 minutes and lasts 24 hours. For extra help when your nose is also dry, REACTINE(R) NaturEase Nasal Spray will help reduce symptoms of dry, irritated nose.

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Workout locations are also key. Opt for working out in sand, or on gravel or even asphalt. Things like outdoor green gyms or alternatively riding your bike, rollerblading or running on a multi-purpose trail are great options. Also, doing yoga, a HIT or fitness class in the sand can help. Additionally, if you like watersports, it’s a great way to stay active without having to suffer from these allergy symptoms. Swimming, , kayaking, canoeing are all great activities you can do far away from ragweed.

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If you want to know when the best time is for your outdoor workouts, you can keep track of daily pollen forecast by following @ReactineCA on Twitter. The times to avoid are usually mid-morning until afternoon. So early morning and evening workouts are usually best!

For more information on REACTINE, please consult www.reactine.ca and follow @ReactineCA on Twitter for the daily pollen forecasts.

This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®.  All opinions are true and are my own.

Photos by: @Offner

Dreamy Summer Picnic

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I have always dreamed of having a Pinterest-worthy picnic in the park. Last week, my summer picnic dreams came true with my lovely friend Aylin (that you may recognize from my hairspiration posts!). She suggested we get dressed up and make flower crowns. I’m no Martha Stewart but I have always loved making crafts. Last December, I used Pinterest to make all of the DIY decorations for my wedding and they turned out to be a hit.

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No hang out with Aylin would be complete without a bunch of laughs and us acting like complete goofs. Dressing lady-like is one thing but acting lady-like is a whole other. Our amazing photographer Nelly (thehogtowntable.com) who made the entire shoot and afternoon possible brought us some delicious homemade beverages and pies to complete the picnic (you can see her yummy drink recipe here).

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I love when friends challenge me to do something outside of my comfort zone. Making these beautiful crowns was tricky but allowed me to be creative and do something different. I’m pretty stoked on how they turned out!

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Photos by: @thehogtowntable

Hair by: Cabello by Carolina