Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.
Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!
Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!
What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.
Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.
The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!
Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!
For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.
This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.
For the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend Toronto Fashion Week. Each season, the show that always leaves me the most inspired is the one presented by Mackage. Designers Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan launched Mackage in 1999 and have since become one of the most popular outerwear brands in North America and one of my personal favorites. In preview of their upcoming FW16 show at TFW on Wednesday, I got to ask the designers a few questions about their upcoming collection and journey thus far.
1) What was your main inspiration behind the FW16 collection? If you could resume the collection in one word, what would it be?
ELISA: We can resume the collection in two words: WINTER WARRIOR! It is important for us that you remain fashionable while staying warm. The FW16 collection is inspired by a fashion-forward urban metropolis overrun by a severe cold front.
2) What are some of the new avenues in design and craftsmanship you wanted to explore this season?
ERAN: We are always committed to excellence and improving our product season after season. We explore new techniques and design, while always staying true to our roots. This season, we are introducing a new fill power of 800. This results in even better warmth to weight ratio.
3) What you say is the biggest difference with the FW15 collection?
ERAN: We are evolving as a brand in everything we do. In addition to developing new techniques and silhouettes this season, we are also injecting new trends into our collection. Some of the biggest statements this season are coloured fur and oversized collars. This is something that we will see throughout our FW16 collection.
4) I’ve read that you both love traveling, what are some of the most inspiring places you’ve travelled to and why?
ELISA: Italy! There is something so breathtaking about every city and the culture. It exudes history and there is something very beautifully nostalgic about it. Not only is the fashion in Italy untouchable, but also their art and décor as well. The energy there is so different and exhilarating! We always come back inspired from our trip to Italy.
5) What’s next for Mackage in 2016?
ELISA: We have a lot of surprises lined up! We are excited to reveal some exciting projects this year. There is more to come… Stay tuned! 😉
Happy Monday everyone! What did you all get up to this weekend? It was so beautiful out this weekend in Toronto! I couldn’t resist hitting up one of my favorite places for brunch on Saturday – The Drake Hotel for some delicious post-run grub (look at the beautiful flowers I found on my run this weekend)! This place really does have the best brunch selection. My current fav: the scrabbled burrito! What’s also amazing, are their homemade blueberry scones! The Drake has definitely become one of my favorites for many reasons including their rooftop patio, which is just perfect for the summer and also the fact they play some of the best Canadian music!
Pretty excited about finally wearing skirts without stockings! I particularly loved this pairing between my stellar new Modern Vice boots and my Zara Batick skirt!
I purchased this super comfy cotton maxi dress last year from H&M for ridiculously cheap. I haven’t worn it much other than at the beach but I decided to dress it up today with a beaded jean jacket, a belt and some colorful jewels. I thought it’d be the perfect way to spice up a simple long dress and also add more shape to it. They’re definitely worth looking into for the summer. You can find plenty of them at H&M for $10-$20.
Happy Friday everyone! Incredibly excited for the weekend! Running, watching movies, playing music (yes, yes, you read right!) and eating good food are on the program for the next two days. What are your plans for the weekend?
I’ve been watching so many movies and docs as of late, that starting today, I’m going to be of posting my movie of the week every Friday. This week…
My movie of the week: is Anchorman 2. Never would have thought this but the second instalment is even funnier than the first. The storyline gets a little out of whack at times but all in all, a good time from start to finish. Tons of really cool cameos, great styling and a really interesting critique on the state of television today. If you didn’t catch it in theatres, it’s now available on iTunes.
For today’s outfit, I’ve piled on some denim and paired it with some blue and white and some silver jewelry.
Yesterday, I had mentioned ankle boots being one of my favorite things for spring. A second thing that is worth investing in for this season is also a maxi skirt. You’ve probably seen them all over fashion magazines, on runways and on the street already. Graphic maxi skirts are also super cool. I had purchased the one I’m wearing today last spring at H&M for a whopping $20. I’m definitely considering adding more to my wardrobe this season as well. Pretty much every store are carrying them right now, Topshop has a huge selection and so does ASOS and Forever 21, H&M, etc.
I kicked my night off with the promising Toronto designer Thomas Balint. It’s always a pleasure to see men’s collections. I find it very refreshing and it can also be very inspiring. Balint’s designs tonight did just that. He presented a plethora of structured jackets, textured shirts, high collars, velvet jackets and shirts. All items were chic yet at the same time very casual and wearable every day. The man Thomas Balint dresses is one that likes fashion with an edge but that also wants comfort. I particularly liked his cropped pants as well as the use of one very androgynous female model. I also liked his choice soundtrack, opting for some Franco acts including Lescop and My Sister Klaus. All in all, simply put, men dressed in Balint threads will be hot. Can’t wait to get @offnerin some of these!
Next up was New York designer Laura Siegel. She started her show with a touching video on women jewelry makers in Africa and a discussion on how she’d like people who buy clothes to directly be connected with their artisans. I quite frankly didn’t know all that much about Laura’s designs before the show started but I was completely drawn in with her vintage, candle-lit living room set up. I liked the laid back vibe she had going on, which was definitely reflected in her creations. Every model sported a beautiful black bohemian hat that accompanied all of their oversized or loose fitting garments. Laura presented earthy tones, rich dark camo greens, retro imprimés, long knitted scarves, oversized knitted sweaters and dresses, wrap dresses and probably my top piece of the collection – the oversized long belted coat. Who doesn’t love big oversized items in their wardrobe when fall rolls around? Great choice of boots and also thoroughly enjoyed hearing some Lykke Li play during the show. Well done Laura! I’m a new fan!
It was my first time attending a Mercedez Benz Start Up show and let me tell you, the room was PACKED! When you entered the show room, two models were standing on small podiums, lit by a dim blue light with eerie music playing in the background. A perfect mood setter for the first of two shows. The first designer, Matière Noire aka Cécile Raizonville, originally from the south of France, now calls Montreal home. She definitely had a very dark aura around her clothes. Though I wasn’t 100% sold on all of her creations, the pieces that did speak to me were her knit sweaters, the equestrian-inspired caps, the moon sweater and sweater dress as well as her electric blue coat and black coat.
Pictures by George Pimentel / Getty Images
I was happy to also see Malorie Urbanovitch present her collection, which to me represented comfort and warmth. She definitely had a 50s school girl look going with the long knit pleated plaid skirts and knee high socks. I enjoyed all of her fuzzy dresses and long fuzzy coats. She presented a great combination of knits and different fabrics, going from suede to viscose. I thought her earthy and neutral color palette was very soothing. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the collection.
The Montrealer has definitely made herself known in the past year or so. The first collection that I saw from Mélissa hadn’t really resonated with me, but this particular collection definitely did. She had a brilliant color palette that she stuck to throughout – black, gold and egg white, with a few nuances and prints. I like that she opted for large triangular shaped prints, switching from black to egg white. All of her sweaters, dresses and pants looked incredibly comfortable and cozy. She had great textured shimmery items, quilted fabrics and near the end even threw in a pop of mint green. I personally wasn’t a fan of the soundtrack but the amazing designs definitely made up for it. I sincerely feel that Mélissa has really grown as a designer, presenting original clothes for a sophisticated yet edgy woman.
It was extremely to just pick a few but here are some of my favorite looks… I absolutely adore the first and last look!
Finally, I saw David Dixon’s show entitled “White Label”, his bridal wear debut for Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay. The show room was well over capacity, everyone crouching to catch a glimpse of his presentation video on love. The message was: “Love never fails”, which I thought was super endearing! The show started with a few white dresses followed by light peach and pink tones. I liked his modern take on these contemporary wedding, gala and cocktail gowns. Lot’s of ruffles and BIG and bold sparkly jewels. The collection transpired freedom and joy. My favorite piece was hands down the bridal lace pant with bustier and blouse combination, a great alternative for those not wanting to wear dresses on their special day. The show ended on a perfect note – David walked down the runway as the theme song from the film My Best Friend’s Wedding – “I Say A Little Prayer For You” played.
Pictures by Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star
Another inspiring night at the tents! Check back tomorrow for my recap of Day 3!
This blog post was long overdue! I can’t believe that Offner and I have been back from Friday for almost two months now. It seems like just yesterday I was getting ready for this three week long adventure.
My trip was a little different this year. Since we had more time, we decided to explore more places than we had last December. On the itinerary: Paris, Bretagne, Lyon, Les 2 Alpes & St-Etienne. Here’s a little resume of our amazing adventure as well as tips for any of you going to France soon!
Because we were able to book our flights almost four months in advance we were able to find a super cheap deal with Orbitz for multi-destination trip with Air France. I really enjoy using Orbitz as a search engine when booking flights as they always have good selection for Europe, you can easily compare prices with other airlines and they’re booking is hassle-free, no hidden fee bullshit! We flew from Toronto -> Paris direct and on the way home we did Lyon -> Paris -> Montreal (It’s impossible to get a direct flight from Lyon to Toronto/Montreal). I was really excited to fly with Air France again since I hadn’t flown with them since I was a kid. I know the airline has made great strides in improving the quality of their service in the last couple of years, especially since that unfortunate crash in 2009. I was able to organize everything before my flight easily on their website. I was able to chose our seats, my vegetarian meal as well as get our boarding passes all sorted out before even arriving at the airport. The in-flight service was top notch! I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of my vegetarian meal as well as Offner’s fish selection. I appreciated the fact they gave us quality wine and champagne as well a balanced meal. Air France also had a great selection of movies and entertainment options available that made the 7hr overnight flight a lot more bearable. Leg room was decent, the only negative comment I’d have was that the seats were really hard, they could have been a little more cushiony.
Traveling while in France
We opted for different modes of transportation to get to the different areas we were traveling to. We took the TGV from Paris to get to Rennes, where we spent two days with my family. I highly recommend using this mode of transportation for quick, painless travels across the country. I had booked the tickets online in November and they were 29 Eurosper person for the one-way. They also have complimentary wifi on the train and at the train station while you wait. Instead of taking us 4hrs to get to Rennes by car, it choped the travel time in half.
One thing you need to remember is that if you’re renting a car, most places will be closed on Sundays, so since we were arriving on a Sunday in Rennes, we had to find a car at the airport. It was a 20 Euro cab ride from the train station to the airport in Rennes and the car rental place only opened at 1:30pm (more like 1:45pm France time :p) and was open for 4hrs. That said, we had tried to get a car through a website where individuals rent their personal vehicles (a cheaper option and worth looking into!) but unfortunately that fell through.
We then flew from Rennes to Lyon. It was a 1hr flight. Though Rennes doesn’t have a very big airport, they have a few flights every day going to different areas in France and even to other countries in Europe. We took Air France’s regional jet HOP!, not only was the flight cheaper than the TGV but it also reduced our traveling time from 8hrs to 1hr. It was really a no-brainer for us.
While we were in Lyon and Paris, we also used the subway system a lot. It is super efficient and cheap. Also, you can use Uber taxi in Paris if you’re looking to get somewhere rather quickly but be prepared to dish out quite a lot of cash for cabs in Paris!
Where to stay
Offner and I are really lucky because we get to stay with family and friends while we’re in France. That said, we didn’t want to spend the entire three weeks crashing on people’s couches so we opted for our favorite type lodging: Airbnb. We spent one night in a Campanile, which is a big chain of environmentally friendly hotels that you can find across France. They’re a cheap alternative if you’re on a budget and hotels are more your thing. Though we could have stayed in a handful of different hotels, we opted to stay at cute little lofts/apartments in the neighbourhoods that we really liked. In Paris, we opted for Le Marais and in Lyon, La Croix Rousse. Both are safe and beautiful areas with lot’s to do and amazing food to eat!
Some must-see spots from my trip
Le pont des amoureux
La Place des Vosges
Notre-Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower (duh!), les Champs Élysées, Place, Sainte-Catherine, etc.
L’Opéra de Lyon
Place des Terreaux, presqu’île de Lyon, Croix Rousse, Confluences, etc.
La Bretagne – I may have a little bias towards this region of France because it’s where my mom’s family is from but it’s a beautiful small region that has much to offer. If you’re going to make the trek up there, I recommend you visit the following places: Dinard, Dinan and St-Malo. All three historic towns with beautiful scenery. While you’re there, you gotta eat “galette de sarrasin” the best salty crêpes on the planet as well as a bowl of traditional cider and my favorite dessert: le flan Breton! Also, if you like butter, you’re in for a treat! They put butter on EVERYTHING! Make sure you bring an umbrella with you, as it tends to drizzle (they call it “crachat breton”) quite a bit there.
Les 2 Alpes – everything about this ski village and station is amazing! Unlike most Intrawest or big ski stations, Les 2 Alpes has kept the old school small village feel. It’s not too loud and too touristy. Though there are people that ski there from all over Europe, the people it attracts are a little older or families. That said, there are really cool bars in the small town, local wine and cheese producers, markets, a small cinema, amazing restaurants and all the ski equipment your heart desires! The daily lift ticket is 42 Euros and includes insurance in case you get hurt or something happens, which is incredibly cheap for such a huge resort as compared to lift tickets here. Recommendation: Stay an extra day to go hiking in the mountains beside the village, it’s breathtaking. Also, you can ski at Les 2 Alpes almost all-year-round. In the summer, you can ski on top of the glacier and then go golfing or swimming in the nearby lake. Sounds dreamy!
Stay tuned for Pt 2 of my France travel blog featuring some of my favorite places to eat and shop in France. Coming soon!!
After having spent the last couple of months cooped up indoors because of the cold, I couldn’t be more excited to officially kick off my running season this evening. Though I know the cold isn’t behind us just yet, I took advantage of the “warmer” temperature today to whip out my Nike running gear and go for a beautiful sunset run. It was slippery, wet and tough but so worth it! I’ve always loved Nike’s motto and it rings true to me now more than ever. JUST DO IT!
Back in Toronto after being on the road for almost a week. I had a great time in Ottawa! I was able to eat at some of my favorite spots in the city: Murray Street (the best cheese & wine in Ottawa!) and also a new hotspot called Sidedoor : where they served the most delicious donuts!! I also really loved their tacos and all of their sharing plates. You have to hit these two restaurants on your next trip to the Canadian capital!
Getting use out of my shorts today! It may be hella cold out but wearing tights with shorts is always a fun look. It makes me think that summer is only a few months away… Can’t wait to soak up some sun rays in Miami and LA next month!