Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dining: Vegan Eats at Sorelle & Co.

Clean eats at Sorelle & Co.


I first had the chance to dine at Sorelle & Co. with my sister. We were looking for a cute spot to have brunch in Vaughan and I had heard good things.



When we walked in, we fell in love with the ambience, decor and styling of this little bake and coffee shop on Rutherford in Vaughan. The owners paid attention to all the little details and this is a gorgeous little place for a small bite with a girlfriend. From the white marble tables to the mercury glass vases, the decor here is definitely stunning and sophisticated.



What's interesting about this spot is that the menu is completely vegan and gluten-free. They also are soy-free, nut-free and preservative free.

The Story


In Italian, "Sorelle" means sister and the cafe was inspired by 5 sisters who suffered from various food allergies. Their mother eliminated allergens from their diet and saw their health improve drastically. That's when she decided to open a unique restaurant that would serve food that anyone could eat- regardless of their dietary restrictions.


On the Menu

I loved the concept and had to check it out! My 'sorelle' and I tried the caprese sandwich and a wild mushroom soup. We enjoyed the food (especially the soup) but weren't too found of the lattes we tried which were made with dairy alternatives (I just don't think I have a taste for almond milk lattes).




Recently, I paid another visit to this cute little shop with my friend, Jess (@jessundecided). This time, we left all smiles as we explored some other menu options we both ended up loving. I went with a peach iced tea and a vegan yogurt parfait with puffed quinoa and berries. Jess tried the cold asian noodle salad which she said was delicious.



I'm always looking for ways to eat healthier while eating out and this restaurant is perfect for that. I can see myself going back for a girls' lunch or tea with my mom. Make sure to visit if you're all about the clean, allergen-free eats and elegant dining.





Monday, August 14, 2017

Travel Guide: A Girls’ Weekend in Lambton County

Travel Guide: A Girls’ Weekend in Lambton County 

*By: Natalie Taylor*

Summer is meant for road trips and in Ontario, the number of regions to explore is endless. Places like Prince Edward County are getting a lot of traction so it was refreshing to explore the area of Lambton County for the first time.


Lambton County is Ontario’s Southwest Region, 2.5 hours west of Toronto and just northwest of London, Ontario. It is also known as Ontario’s Blue Coast, home to two Blue Flag Beaches; a world-renowned eco-certification for high water quality and safety standards.


Our group of four ladies explored the towns of Sarnia/Point Edward and Grand Bend in detail, spending one night in each location. It was a refreshing weekend away and an area I’d recommend whether you’re there for the weekend or en route to a pitstop to cross the border over to Detroit.


WHERE TO STAY

Holiday Inn Sarnia, Point Edward

Centrally located to the international Bluewater Bridges in the Village of Point Edward, the Holiday Inn is a reliable base for your girls’ getaway. Holiday Inn already has a good standard: great pools (both indoor and outdoor), solid wi-fi, and comfortable beds after a day of exploring. What really impressed me, however, was the variety and quality of food at breakfast. Mini pancakes that were too cute to eat; eggs benny, and a breakfast buffet to boot. It had me singing, “Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn!”


Pine Dale Motor Inn, Grand Bend


In the age of the “boutique hotel,” it’s nice to see accommodations that stick to their roots; that don’t feel they need to conform to a certain style for a growing demographic. The Pine Dale Motor Inn isn’t fancy but it certainly is comfortable and the hospitality made me feel right at home. (I didn’t mind those chocolates and wine in the room. A nice touch!) In addition to being a short walk to Grand Bend’s famous beach (walking will be faster than driving in peak traffic), the hotel also boasts quick access to Pinery Provincial Park and its’ own walking trails and gardens. We loved hanging out at the pool and relaxing in the jacuzzi. Great for girl bonding time!



WHERE TO EAT


Mad Taco, Sarnia

It doesn’t get any better than tasting some Mexican Food from a bright orange food truck by the gorgeous shores of Canatara Beach. The food does NOT disappoint. Get a double order of the Hercules Tacos - the Greek inspired chicken soft taco topped with feta and black olives.







Alternate Grounds, Dockside; Sarnia, Point Edward

A five minute drive from the Holiday Inn, this casual eatery has a marina-side view that will make you want to linger over your meal. We ordered all. of. the. things. which is what is so great about this place: you can mix, match and share. I opted for their special: the breaded coconut shrimp-  but on the menu, you can’t go wrong with their Florentine Flatbread (sautéed mushrooms, spinach, brie), chicken tinga tacos, or pierogis. Great service, great vibe.




Ice Cream Galore, Point Edward

This was a tasty pit stop and worth every lick of the salted caramel flavour. There are colourful murals on the wall for your ‘ice cream against the wall’ instagram snap in addition to rainbow coloured benches outside. The perfect place to sit while you indulge.




Midori Sushi Bar & Restaurant, Grand Bend

Amazing sushi in Grand Bend? Yes, it exists! To top it off, Midori’s patio is relaxed and sophisticated. A welcome respite from the beach crowds. They do not skimp on the portions here, either. I got the best of both worlds with the “Fab Four”: salmon, tuna, cucumber and avocado; for those that can’t choose between salmon or tuna. (You can also upgrade to get your maki with crunchy tempura bits.) For all things pink, you must order the lychee lemonade, which made our ladies’ lunch a little more girly!



Schoolhouse Restaurant, Grand Bend

Schoolhouse is the perfect mix of charming, historical ambiance and wholesome dishes of the brunch variety. Known as Grand Bend Public School from 1874, you’ll see nods to its pedagogical past from the Teacher’s Rules from the era framed on the walls, to bells and maps displayed on the shelves. I was really impressed by the menu options here from a page full of your classic brunch picks to sandwiches and salads on the other page. I was already full and not feeling at my best, so I opted for a small roasted beet salad (feta, apples, cranberries, lettuce) and it helped calm my nerves. The girls had hearty portions of Greek salad, Philly Cheesesteak, and a granola bowl; all fulfilled for the long drive back home; we also ordered large glasses of lemonade to quench the thirst, natch.



The Colonial Hotel, Grand Bend

What I love about small towns are the non-fussiness of their establishments. Though not on our itinerary, The Colonial —Grand Bend’s oldest family-run hotel and restaurant—is known as one of the best brunches in town. The decor is old and wooden; the waitress, a stand-by and no nonsense; and the eggs benny (what you get here on Sundays) is the stand-by. I wouldn’t change a thing.


WHERE TO DRINK


This family owned farm and winery is proving that there is a wine region beyond Niagara and Prince Edward County. Marc and Ann Alton make the wine *by hand.* We certainly reaped the rewards of their hard work; stretching out our lunch by sipping their 2015 Marechal Foch Rose on their brand new patio.





Dark Horse Winery, Grand Bend

If you like palatial estates and rosé (see the theme, here?) then this is the winery for you. Our group fell in love with the grounds and setting here. Though not open for tours on Saturdays, you can do tastings at the bar and what I love is that they have themes for their $5 flights. 


On a hot summer day, the light and aromatic flight seemed appropriate. We tried their Unapolgetically Brash White; Divine Riesling (winner!); and Brilliant Rosé. I’m also a fan of their Wine Lover’s Mix Flight (this is perfect for a day date with your significant other). That flight consists of their Methode Cuve close aromatic sparkling wine; One Horse Town Chardonnay; and Valegro Meritage.




Speaking of love, if you’re looking to get married around Grand Bend or in the Lake Huron area, this is a beautiful reception venue. For the girlfriends, it’s the patio with the large fireplace and cozy couches that are perfect for those hour long chats, vino in hand. 


In fact, two girlfriends were doing exactly that, while we took in the surroundings (aka instagrammed our little hearts out prop-styling accessories and rosé).



WHAT TO DO


Hit the Beach!

Lambton County is home to two of Ontario’s Blue Flag beaches (they are designated based on the strict quality and cleanliness of the water and amenities). The beach at Canatara Park felt like a hidden secret on the shores of Lake Huron. The wind was high and the waves were crashing when we there but I liked the romance of that; and many were still in the water, close to the shore.



Grand Bend Beach is the star player of the beaches around Lake Huron. It is crowded here on weekends but if you go early and can nab a spot on the sand (bring your beach umbrella and blanket), it is a prime location for people watching. That said, there are two sides to Grand Bend; one less frequented than the other, if you’re looking for some quiet time.






Go Parasailing, Grand Bend

I have only ever thought of parasailing as an activity to do in the Caribbean and felt transported to my time in St. Maarten while at Grand Bend- going out on the boat via Grand Bend Parasail. One of their boat drivers is even from the Cayman Islands! A thousand feet up, you can’t help but be astounded by crystal clear blues of Lake Huron. The waters can be choppy even on a calm day, so be prepared and don’t eat the biggest breakfast. (Lesson learned!) It was a good laugh, witnessing the squeals of those who tried parasailing for the first time.




Sunset Watch

How lucky were we to get a private tour at the Oakwood Resort? We explored their grounds on golf carts and went over to their exclusive beach to be privy to magic hour! The sunset at Grand Bend has been boasted as one of the top sunsets in the world, comparable to those in Hawaii and Kenya. 



It was a magical moment to see nature take its course and create a sky filled with orange hues; a girl in a matching shirt watched the waves and the brightness of the sky fade into the dark. Note: If you’re feeling thirsty, the caesars at Dave’s pub and Grill are on point!





Take in a Festival

Music Festivals are du rigeur in Lambton County in the summer and our gaggle of gals experienced one of the region’s biggest parties: The Bluewater Borderfest.
A mix of rock and country bands played and I have to say I never considered myself a fan of country music but Frankie Ballard converted me! He really got the crowd going with his honky tonk and had us singing “Sunshine and Whiskey” and “Helluva Life” throughout the weekend.


Add it to your road trip playlist!


Thank you to Lambton County Tourism and Ontario Southwest Tourism for sponsoring this post.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Home Decor: a budget-friendly facelift for your home office

Spruce up your work space

When you work from home, you have to do different things to keep yourself motivated. To be honest, I've never been one to use a "home office." Growing up, I did my homework in the kitchen or dining room and I often left the table to see (ahem, taste) what my mom was simmering on the stove.




When I put a desk in my bedroom, it was really used to store random things and as a place to leave my clothes when I didn't feel like putting them away. Is anyone else guilty of that?

When I moved into a condo, there was a den but with no windows in there, it quickly became a place to store our books and paperwork. Over the three years I lived there, I really only used it as a work space once. 

Now that I've moved into a new home, there's an extra bedroom to play around with. For now, it's serving as a place to work out and get some work done too. The table that served as a condo sized dining table has now become my desk and I figure, before I start using it as an extension to my closet, I better get it all set up!

A Home Office

If you ask me,  a home office is less about the furniture and more about functionality. How does the space make you feel and can you get work done there?

Before you decide which space to use, you may want to consider a few things:
  • lighting
  • temperature
  • distractions
I know for instance, that the basement wouldn't work for me as the temperature and lighting would not entice me to spend time there. Earlier, I had been working in my family room but I find sitting at a desk to be much more effective. Also, it can't hurt to distance yourself from the television, fridge and other distractions!

Find a place that works for you and that makes you want to buckle down and get to work.

Set up

As a content creator, it's so important to have a work space that inspires you so you can make the magic happen. 

I placed my desk near a window so I'd get lots of natural light and a little bit of greenery in my space from the trees outside. 

If you don't have a window, make sure the light in the room is nice and bright. Add plants or some fresh flowers to bring nature in to the space.

I added a small decorative bulletin board where I can pin inspiring images or post-its and reminders. 


It was also important to me to have something on my desk that inspired me to stay focused. I decided a piece of artwork with a meaningful quote would be perfect. I plan to switch the art out when I feel my office needs a little refreshing.



I also added a candle that I can light when I need a little mood booster and a pretty mug from my kitchen is serving as a container for supplies. You can also use a glass jar for a little more character.

Stay on Budget

For this project, I reworked a few things I had around the house and gave them new purpose in my office. The only purchase I made was a desk calendar, as I felt this was important to help me plan my content and also to ensure I stay on top of any deadlines. 


I decided on a calendar with a natural and gold theme so that it will match with whatever pop of colour I decide to add to my space the next time I want to shake things up. 

With a little creativity, you can easily freshen up your space without having to spend much at all. The total cost of refreshing my office space was $30 for the calendar and artwork. 

You definitely don't have to go out and buy a fancy new desk to create a work space. Use a table you already have and set it up for success. Instead of art, use a framed photo of your family to bring some warmth to your desk, or even play around with a pretty notebook, journal or inspiring book cover. 

Really, your imagination is your only limit. 


Bonus - I find that my laptop has also found a home here and is no longer hanging out in my family room. 

There's nothing like a little de-cluttering, organizing and rearranging to make your home feel refreshed. 



I hope this post inspires you to find a quiet, cozy corner of your home in which to create a space you can escape to when you need to read or get some work done. There's really nothing like having a little space to call your own.

Happy decorating!




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dining: Pure Spirits Oyster Bar

Oysters at Pure Spirits

Pure Spirits Oyster Bar is a beautiful restaurant in Toronto's Distillery District. With incredible natural light, refurbished wood furniture, exposed brick walls and an outdoor patio, Pure Spirits is a great place to visit on a summer evening in the city.



Distillery District

If you're looking for a little escape from the ordinary in Toronto, the Distillery District is perfect. This quaint little neighbourhood is the perfect place for an evening stroll. I love wandering around and admiring the beautiful cobblestone paths, peeking into an art gallery and checking out some antique finds in the vintage stores.


Whether you grab a coffee at Balzac's, enjoy some table-side guacamole at El Catrin or do a little window shopping at a cute boutique like Blossom Lounge, there is definitely something for everyone. 

The Distillery is also home to some of Toronto's famous street art installations, so it is an amazing place to grab that photo opportunity. 

Pure Spirits

This restaurant is such a beautiful place to spend an evening. I'd recommend pulling up a stool at the bar to learn about their fresh oysters and get an amazing view of the chefs shucking the day's catch. I loved trying a variety of oysters and my favourites are from PEI.


If you've never tried an oyster before, this is the place to do it. You'll find all the fixings: vinegar dressings, lemon, hot sauce and freshly grated horseradish.


Though if you're new to oysters, give yourself time to get into them. I'd recommend you share an order with someone before you dive right in. Add your favourite condiments - I love a bit of tabasco and some lemon juice- and slurp them back!


When I tried my first oyster, I was in Croatia on vacation. Needless to say, it was a pretty memorable experience and I'm glad I had my camera on me. 

You can watch the video of my experience here:





If oysters aren't your thing, don't worry - there's lots more on the menu to discover. While seafood is clearly their specialty, you can also try their fries, pastas or chicken dishes. All in all, Pure Spirits has the makings for a great date night or girl's night out.

Do you have any favourite oyster bars in Toronto? I'd love to check them out! Leave me a comment or connect with me on Instagram @angeliesood

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Recipe: How to Saute Juicy, Tender Chicken

Amp up your Chicken Game


Chicken. We've cooked it but at times we are less than thrilled with our results. Am I right?

Chicken can easily be overcooked and comes out hard and dry. One of the best things you can do to amp up your game in the kitchen is learn how to cook chicken so that it stays moist and juicy.

In this video, I'm sharing how to do that. Plus I make an easy and delish pan sauce that will make your weeknight dinner feel like date night. 

Check out the video below to up your poultry game. Good luck and good eating!