Glas Winebar

Last week, my boyfriend and I decided to do a raw food and juice cleanse (read a recap here) after our California adventure. The whole time I was cleansing, all I kept thinking about was cheese. I have a mild severe adoration for cheese and not just any type of cheese – the stronger and the stinkier, the better ūüôā

During my cleanse, I asked the twitterverse to recommend the best cheese platter in Toronto. Though I’ve tried many cheese boards in the city, they’re usually always overpriced, aren’t that tasty or original and satisfying. The Terroni cheese platter is probably the best for quality vs. price and you know that you’ll be getting more than just an ounce of cheese. Plus, their accoutrements are always fantastic. However, Toronto cheese platters always fall short of what you can find in Quebec and obviously France. I still can’t get over the fact that you can get four full cheeses in France for 8 Euros and here, they charge $24 for 4oz of cheese! Absurd!

Blame my French blood, but if I’m going to dish out $24 for a cheese board it better be damn good or I’d be better off just making my own (which we do quite often…)

The top recommendation on twitter was Glas Winebar in Leslieville. A quaint little restaurant on Queen East. So I figured I’d give it a shot!

It was really easy to make a reservation for the restaurant, I was able to reserve just by tweeting at them. Though it may not look like much from the outside, the atmosphere in the restaurant is warm, welcoming and cozy. Right when we got there, the chef Danny Pantano came up and introduced himself and thanked us for coming. He explained the current menu, cheese platter, etc. He was very friendly and seemed like a really smart and business-savvy owner. He explained that he opened the restaurant last year after having spent several years cooking in Europe, he wanted to finally have his own place and bring Italian and French cuisine to the city.

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The meal started with a free amuse-bouche: some roasted and seasoned nuts and olives. We both ordered a glass of local Ontario wine.

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The meal continued with a citrus marinated kale salad with wine soaked raisins and parmesan shavings for myself. My boyfriend ordered a beef tartar. Danny carefully selects the products and items on his menu, making sure they’re either all local, sustainable and organic. He also changes his menu very frequently.

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The long awaited cheese board then arrived with a selection of 5 local cheeses. To be honest, the cheeses all had an interesting and original taste, some were smoked, others were garnished with different toppings. For the price, 5 great cheeses for $20, you can’t really go wrong in this city! They were also accompanied by some delicious compote and jam. Yummy!!

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Danny offered us a sweet homemade sorbet with blueberrys on the bottom. It was the perfect way to end the meal!

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We spent more time talking with Danny at the end of our meal, he went around the tables of his restaurant making sure that everyone had enjoyed their meals.

Though it may not be France and strong original cheeses aren’t as readily available in Toronto, I can definitely say that Glas Winebar offered an excellent selection for a great price!

We will definitely be making it back to the east end for another platter someday soon! Thanks Danny and you all for the good recommendation ūüôā

Cleanse Day 4

Yesterday was Day 4 of my cleanse and my 2nd day of juicing. I woke up feeling really hungry, my muscles aching and my head hurting but it totally makes sense when you’re just feeding your body with liquids I guess. I spent the whole day in training at work and I realized that I really wasn’t focused, I also had a hard time really concentrating. I felt like my brain wasn’t functioning 100% or as it should. That said, I continued with the juicing but started really doubting if this cleanse was really going to cut it for me.

So as I did the previous day, I started my day with another Detox juice, followed by the Vanilla Cashew Glow juice and then a Clean juice. I also drank a lot of water and even a hot tea. As the day went on, I was talking a lot to my boyfriend, who’s also doing the cleanse with me right now about how he was feeling, what kind of effects he was having, etc. Unlike me, he wasn’t feeling very hungry but he’s not someone who usually gets hungry. He eats because he loves to eat but he does get low blood sugar or irritated when he doesn’t eat or eat as much. Contrary to what he had initially expected, he was also starting to feel like his brain wasn’t functionning fully, he wasn’t feeling on top of his game and had a bad headache that he couldn’t shake off.

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Throughout the cleanse and even before embarquing on it, I’ve read a lot about cleansing. I had read mostly positive things on individual blogs, bloggers that I follow, girls I had spoken to and some ok and not so positive things on newspaper websites, more health/nutrition/scientific sites. I know that everyone does it for different reasons. Like I’ve mentioned before, my main reasons were 1)¬†just plain curiosity because so many people seem to be cleansing these days and 2)¬†a personal challenge. In 4 days, I didn’t really lose any weight, I maybe lost 2 lbs¬†but the reason why I think I didn’t lose any weight is because I didn’t have much to lose in the first place (if any at all!) and also because I have a pretty healthy lifestyle overall. I don’t really drink coffee, other than red wine here and there I don’t drink very much and try my best to eat fresh, homemade and organic fruits and vegetables as well good food in general.

My boyfriend who’s from France explained to me yesterday that cleansing is definitely not as popular there and hasn’t really taken like many other recent food trends such as the Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free craze we’ve been seeing in the last few years. People tend to think that people from France eat only pastries, bread and cheese and wine, a lot of them do, that’s a fact but they also eat a lot of fresh produce, meats and cheese from local farmers that they get from their city’s farmers market every week. A lot of my family lives in France and none of them are obese and all live to 80+ years and so does my boyfriend’s family. It’s apparent that cleansing is more of a American/Canadia phenomenon.

After work, we headed to the movie theatre to watch Elysium and on the way there and back we read more than a handful of articles (here’s an example: http://archives-lepost.huffingtonpost.fr/article/2010/11/05/2293630_la-detox-ou-l-intox.html)¬†on cleansing, juicing, the effects on your body, etc. After 4 full days of cleansing, without any cheating at all and after much discussion, my boyfriend and I decided to stop our cleansing adventure. We both felt that we had reached our goal – that the process had made us think a lot about nutrition, what we put in our bodies, what kind of lifestyle we live, etc. ¬†That said, we both didn’t stop and immediately pigged out on a ton of food, instead, we celebrated with a nice homemade salad, guacamole and organice brown rice cracker.

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We still have a bunch of juices left over because we initially had planned to do 3 days of juicing instead of 2 and also because I only ended up drinking 4 bottles a day instead of 6. So what we’ve decided to do is keep drinking those bottles as a healthy snack in between meals for the next couple of days. We’re easing back into food with raw meals and I think overall we’ll just be even more careful than we used to be with the food we eat. That said, it’s a lot harder to find a good farmers market close by or buy only organic/local/sustainable produce without dishing out a fortune here in Toronto as compared to California. We’ve made a pact to be more conscious of the food we eat and make even better choices but to also keep enjoying food in general! We’re both big foodies and both take pleasure in treating ourselves to good meals!

For those wondering, even though we did the more DIY cleanse, it was still pretty pricey. We bought over 100$ of raw food groceries at Whole Foods plus over $50 of fruits and vegetables for our 2 days of raw food cleanse plus we each paid over $200¬†for our juices. At $9.99 a juice bottle x 6 bottles a day, you’re looking at over $60 + a day of juices. That said, we wanted to do the full experience and wanted to do it the right way so we went all out and made sure we had everything we needed.

All in all, it was an interesting experience. Though I’m not sure I would do an actual “cleanse” again, I would definitely consider drinking these types of juices more regularly as snacks or if ever I’m on the go. I also think it’s a good exercise for people to go a week or so without alcohol or coffee, it can never hurt. It’s always a good thing to also re-evaluate your eating habits, your lifestyle, etc. As someone who travels a lot and as a vegetarian, it’s often hard to find healthy food options on the road, but this experience has taught me that maybe I should just bring some lunches if I can, or get some raw bars or juices and keep those with me while I travel. I have keep eating lot’s of fruit and veggies, eat organic and local if available and keep being active. Also, take pleasure in eating good food & most importantly ENJOY LIFE!!

PS. I know that everyone who’s cleansed before has had a different experience. I was not paid or did not receive any discounts for writing this blog during my juicing experience. It’s an adventure my boyfriend and I decided to take together independently. Everyone has different views on detoxing, juicing, raw food, etc. These were simply my own taken from my own personal experience! ūüôā

Cleanse Day 3

Yesterday was my 1st day ever of juicing. I was super anxious when I got up in the morning because I had no idea what to expect, I had no idea how my body was going to react and also how I was going to deal with it mentally. I also woke up feeling super hungry having only eaten raw food the previous night and having spent the night with my stomach in knots.

It’s instructed on the Live Organic Cleanse bottles to drink 6 juices a day, drinking them every two hours and drinking tons of water and tea in between. So I started my day with their Detox bottle. The taste wasn’t so bad but I was having a really hard time finishing it. Though I do drink relatively a lot during a normal day, ingesting all of these liquids was actually pretty difficult for me.

Surpringsly, that juice kept me going for almost three hours. When came time for lunch, I had the Cashew Nut Glow bottle, which tastes pretty sweet and feels filling but is almost too heavy compared to the other juices. I was having a really hard time finishing that bottle as well.

Because two of their bottles were out of stock, including their green juice bottle, I decided to go and buy myself a green juice at the supermarket located in my office building. It may now have been a Live bottle but I made sure that it contained no preservatives, was only real vegetable juice, etc.

I followed that up with a Clean bottle, which tasted really bitter and made my head hurt but I was able to finish that one though.

I spent most of my day at work yesterday going to and from the bathroom, I was feeling like a pregnant lady! Here’s hoping that all the “toxins” in my body are actually being flushed out as supposed to.

Though I wasn’t really feeling that hungry all day, the hardest part was definitely the evening. Psychologically, I love having a nice dinner after a long day at work or going out to a restaurant so only feeding on a juice wasn’t definitely not fulfilling.

I went to bed last night feeling extremely hungry. Though they recommend drinking 6 different juices, I ended up only drinking 4 during the entire day. After 4 juices, I had had enough!

Because I’m doing this cleanse as more of a personal challenge and out of curiosity and not because I wanted to lose weight, I’ve realized that I’m basically just starving myself. Even if I were to lose some weight, I would put it back on as soon as I finish with the cleanse. Though I hope it’ll get rid of the “toxins” in my body, I’m not sure I’ll have too many benefits from this cleanse. It’s a good discipline to adopt for a few days but seeing as I’m someone who eats pretty healthy, I make a lot of my meals myself, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables naturally since I’m a vegetarian and exercise a lot, so I’m not sure cleansing is necessary in my diet. I’m feeling a lot more tired than usual, my muscles are aching and my head hurts. The only positive thing is that I’m feeling a little lighter than usual but who wouldn’t after only ingesting several hundred calories in one full day…

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Today I’m onto day 2 of juice cleansing… We’ll see what the day brings!

PS. Someone bring me a cheese platter stat…. AH! Cravings!!

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Cleanse Day 2

So yesterday was Day 2 of my cleanse – another day of raw foods. I was feeling ok after breakfast but as the day went on my stomach really started hurting and I was feeling really hungry. Though I’ve only been eating raw food for over a day, my taste buds were already telling me that they were over all of these raw snacks, the seasoning and whatever I was eating. Props to people who do these cleanses often or who only have raw diets. I don’t think I could ever do it! Even questioning ever doing a cleanse again…

After work, Offner and I took a trip to Whole Foods to buy all of our juices for the next three days. Unfortunately, a lot of their juices were out of stock. Though the juice brand Live recommends drinking 5 different types of juices a day, two of them were sold out. So we made due with what they had and also got ourselves a ton of raw food items for our last supper ūüėČ

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MEAL 1

Freshly pressed unpasteurized orange juice

Peanut Butter Lärabar

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MEAL 2

Homemade salad with sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, hemp seeds,

Grapes, strawberries and shakaroons

MEAL 3

Live raw lasagna italiano, Live raw kale caraway bread and fresh pesto

Live raw organic walnut brownie, pineapple and an orange

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I was feeling really anxious yesterday at the thought of starting the juice cleanse. Here’s hoping not too many food pictures pop up on my twitter and instagram feed in the next few days. Though I’m really motivated, I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle three days of juicing… To be continued!

 

Cleanse?!

After having spent almost three weeks in the land of juicing and cleanses, otherwise known as LA, I’ve decided to try it out for myself. I’ve seen many of my friends try juicing and go on cleanses for the last little while but I’ve never really thought of giving it a shot myself. After spending a few days with my friend Lisa Ning from This Beautiful Day, she convinced me that I should give it a shot after my vacation. After having done a handful of juicing cleanses herself, she suggested I start my cleanse with two days of raw food instead of right away going into the cleanse itself, in order to start detoxing my body slowly.

With Offner‘s motivation and having decided to do it together, we stocked up on a ton of raw food snacks from Whole Foods before leaving LA to get us through the first two days.

Because juicing isn’t as popular in Toronto as it is in LA, there are a lot less companies who can provide you with already made juices. If I were to juice in LA, I would without a doubt try Pressed Juicery. I had a few of their juices while on vacation as a snack and they were delicious and filling. Though I initially wanted to go with Belmonte Raw, we opted for the cheapest route and will be going to try the Whole Foods juices.

So for this cleanse, I will be doing 2 days of raw, followed by 3 days of juicing followed by 2 additional days of raw to transition back into regular food.

I’m already at Day 2 of raw foods and let me tell you I’m feeling pretty hungry and already miss cheese, butter and bread!

For Day 1 yesterday, I stocked up on tons of fruits and vegetables from the grocery store and stopped by the West End Food Coop in Toronto to get some freshly made pesto, salsa as well as raw cookies.

Because I flew back from LA overnight, I slept in pretty late yesterday and only had two meals. Here’s what I ate:

MEAL 1 –

Homemade raw salad with cucumbers, sprouts, almonds, strawberries, lemon juice

Crackers and homemade fresh salsa and pesto

Raw rolled oats cookie with cinnamon and fresh fruit bowl

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MEAL 2 –¬†

Ranch kale chips

Avocado, fresh salsa, hemp hearts, tomatoes and fresh basil

Fresh fruit melon bowl with bananas, kiwi, apples and cinnamon. Accompanied by dried rasberries, mangos, almonds and a shakaroon bite

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After Day 1 of eating raw food, I felt the same, somewhat hungry at the end of the day but not too bad.

To be continued…

Carmen – Cocina Espa√Īola

While wandering home from work last night, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon a brand new Spanish restaurant on Queen West called¬†Carmen – Cocina Espa√Īola. As we sometimes do, we looked inside, took a quick glance at the menu and gave it a shot. It had been a really long time since I had eaten Spanish food. Toronto’s renown for Italian, Portuguese, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian and even Tibetan food but rarely do I stumble across Spanish restaurants. I like Spanish food not only for its unique flavour but also for their varied vegetarian tapas.

We started our meal with some delicious Bodegas red wine that was decently priced. Though we were both tempted to share a traditional paella (they make a vegetarian one too!), we were told that it would take at least 45mins to make since it’s made for scratch. So instead, we opted for sharing a bunch of tapas. The first one we ordered was fried green tomatoes with feta cheese, peppers and corn. We followed that up by Jimaca shells with creamy avocados and finished off by the traditional Spanish omelet. My favorite dish out of the three vegetarian ones we ordered was without a doubt the fried tomato. I loved the combination of sweet and spicy. The avocado was also delicious but a little small for the price.

All in all, the food was super tasty but it was a little pricey. A restaurant like Grand Electric, which is pretty much the hippest joint in town right now, charges $3.75 per taco and they’re pretty filling. These tapas weren’t nearly as filling and cost upwards of $6. The ambiance was also really laid-back. I really dug the bar and more caf√©-type front and the lounge and comfy back dinning area.

If you’re looking for a new spot to try out around Trinity Bellwoods and don’t mind paying a little more for your dinner, pay Carmen a visit!

 

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Cookies + Champagne 2013

I had the pleasure of attending my very first Cookies + Champagne event last night at the Steamwhistle Roundhouse in Toronto. It’s one of many events the lovely girls of The Hip Urban Girl’s Guide organize every year. I’ve been to a bunch of their events around the city before but I always seem to miss this one.

The event started at 7pm, I was greated by the Hip Urban Girl husbands at the door who took my coat (love gallantry!) and offered me a champagne ticket. As I entered the room, there were a handful of carefully selected booths and vendors. I walked around to meet the vendors; there were a couple local jewelry designers (Stella & Dot, Fredrick Prince & more!) skin care products, a really fun cosmetic company called Inspire Cosmectics who were there to give ladies some lovely makeup touch ups as well as Lux Spa who were giving ladies a complimentary buff and polish. Since I got there early, I figured why not get a fresh mani. The ladies of Lux Spa were super sweet! See what color I picked below.

There was also a bunch of snacks and appetizers on tables for everyone to munch on but most importantly, the place was filled with cookies!!! Cookies of every shape, color and flavor. For someone like myself who has a serious sweet tooth, I was in heaven. ¬†My issue however, is not being able to control myself, so I made sure to only purchase a networking ticket, so I wouldn’t end up eating a few dozen cookies and falling over in a corner somewhere because I gave myself a sugar coma. ¬†For those of you who don’t know exactly how this cookie thing works… Basically, the guests are asked to bake 4 dozen cookies and bring an empty container. When Wendy & Lisa say go, everyone runs around the room and picks up a dozen cookies of their choice. Everyone else who bought networking tickets (those who didn’t bake) watch the madness from the bar. Apparently over 200 people were in attendance last night, meaning there were over 5000 cookies to choose from last night. Wild!

I definitely had a great time last night! It was nice seeing a bunch of familiar faces as well as meet new people. Thanks so much for having us Wendy & Lisa! I’m definitely putting the event on my calendar for next year! (maybe I’ll even bake this time ;))

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Go Lounge

Last weekend I discovered a great new bar/coffee shop and board game lounge ¬†in Parkdale called Go Lounge. ¬†It’s a quaint little cosy space located on Queen Street West, just steps from Roncesvalles that opened at the end of November. ¬†For those of you who are fans of Snakes & Lattes, just think of it as being a modest and much more laid-back version of it. ¬†I was a huge fan of Snakes & Lattes when it originally opened up a few years ago. ¬†I lived in the area, so would spend a lot of my nights playing board games with friends and loved ones there. ¬†I loved the fact that it belonged to a Parisian couple who baked fresh desserts and served baguette sandwiches just like in France. However, as the place’s popularity grew, it became less and less acessible and the once friendly staff, changed and wasn’t so nice anymore.

I was therefore thrilled to find out that a second board game lounge had opened up in the city. ¬†Basically, you can go play board games, have a pint or glass of wine as well as a tasty panini or yummy dessert in a super chill environment with great tunes playing in the background. ¬†Plus, you don’t have to pay to play their board games.

So if you’re looking for a fun new place to hang this week or weekend, try the Go Lounge. ¬†My favorite game: Cards Against Humanity. Hilarious!

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Delish eats in Ottawa

Last week I spent a few days in Ottawa for work and decided to try out some of the city’s finest restaurants while I was in the city. My two favorites were:

Zen Kitchen – A local, organic, gourmet vegan restaurant located on Somerset Street. I took my sister, who’s a vegan and she absolutely loved it. It was a small dimly lit restaurant. They served us some free appetizers to start off (a vegan-type springroll), delicious homemade bread and vegan butter. As mains, my sister order the Raw Special, which came with a pumpkin seed burrito fresh guacamole, house salsa, sour cream, sea vegetables, nutmeat, slaw, kale chips and house pickles. For myself, I chose the Sop√©, which was a leavened corn tortilla, black beans, exotic mushrooms flambeed with a chipotle-tequila sauce, house salsa, fresh guacamole, lime creme fraiche and spicy rice. Yum! The mains averaged around $20 each, which isn’t that expensive considering that everything is made in-house, local and organic. And for dessert, we both ordered a vegan chocolate-vanilla swirl cheesecake. To die for! The staff was also very nice and the service was quick.

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Murray Street – renown for it’s wine, charcuterie and delicious cheeses. I was first recommended this restaurant by one of my friends and it’s become one of my Ottawa musts each time I go for a visit. Though it is renown for it’s great meats, it also always has succulent vegetarian options. This time around, I ordered the P,B & J, which consists in roasted beets, soy-maple vinaigrette, crumbled La Folie des Bergeres goat‚Äôs milk cheese, in-house peanut butter, Agawam grape jelly & brioche ‚Äėsandwich‚Äô croutons. I also treated myself to a smoked blue cheese called the Blue Haze (which is accompanied by pickled onions, beets & carrots, in-house jelly and fresh bread) and for dessert, the Joe Louis – chocolate coated chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, peanut brittle, chocolate peanut sauce. Now, that is what I call “foodporn”! The waiters are always super friendly and chatty and the food really isn’t overpriced.

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So there you have it! My two food recos for your next trip to Ottawa.

Have a lovely Tuesday!

xo

Coups de coeur – France

Happy New Year everyone!! Wishing you a magical 2013! Today, I decided to do a little blog post of some of my favorite things from my recent trip to France.

1 – Le Marais, Paris.

Le Marais is a great area located in the 3rd and 4th districts in Paris. It’s an area filled with lot’s of little shops, local designers (The Kooples, American Retro, etc.) cool caf√©s, bistros and restaurants. I spent lot’s of my time in Paris walking around and hanging out in Le Marais. ¬†I definitely recommend it for all of those who are looking for a cool and hip area to spend time in.

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2 – Springsioux

Springsioux is a Paris-based jewelry, clothing and accessory brand run by two rad young entrepreneurs. I love Springsioux for its perfect blend between rock n’ roll and elegant pieces. Nikki Sixx, Bradley Soileau and other celebrities have been spotted with some Springsioux swag. ¬†I’m the lucky owner of a Lady Muerte ring from their most recent collection. I absolutely love it! I know this is just the beginning for Springsioux!

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3 – L’√Čpicerie, Lyon

I spent a few days in Lyon while I was a France. For those who don’t know, Lyon is renown around the world for their culinary excellence. I definitely didn’t go hungry in that city! My favorite little restaurant is a little bistro recommended by @offneraurelien in the Bellecour area called L’√Čpicerie. The concept of the bistro – to serve tartines, which is basically toast with toppings on it. It may sound plain but I assure you that the restaurant was anything but plain. Their food is cheap, tasty and creative. They also have delicious homemade desserts.

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4 – Le Cellier, Les 2 Alpes

I was lucky enough to have the chance to go skiing in the Alps during my stay in France. While at Les 2 Alpes, I was also introduced to a delicious raclette restaurant called Le Cellier. ¬†I love the little chalet-style decorations, wood stove and delicious comfort food. For those who don’t know what raclette is, it’s¬†a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part onto either meat or veggies.

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These were just some of my “coups de coeur” from my recent France trip. I sincerely hope you will also have the chance to visit France one day or return if you’ve been there before. ¬†Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love learning about other cultures, meeting new people and opening myself up to the rest of the world. It’s through traveling that I’ve met some of my best friends and made some of my longest lasting memories.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2013 filled with tons of travels!

Much love,

Mel xo