Wednesday, November 25, 2020

4 Restaurants to Visit in Toronto's Little India

Recently I had the chance to visit one of my favourite communities in Destination Toronto - Little India!

I grew up shopping here, so visiting brings back so many fond memories of my childhood.

One of the big draws for me is the delicious and authentic Indian cuisine.

Crispy samosas, flavourful daals, spicy kabobs - I love all the food!

If you're looking to explore the delicious eats in the area - today I'm sharing a list of my favourites. They are small mom and pop restaurants that have held a place in Gerrard India Bazaar for many years.

In case the pictures have you craving some desi food- all of these restaurants offer takeout and many also have delivery options as well. 

So let's get a taste of Little India!


One of the original restaurants on Gerrard St. East, Motimahal is known for the classics. Try their Channa Bhatura - spiced chickpea curry with fried and fluffy bread. You can also try their thalis, a traditional Indian mixed plate featuring a variety of curries, roti, rice and yogurt. It's also a great way to try a few different dishes off the menu!

Leela Indian Food Bar

At Leela you will find a mix of modern and classic dishes prepared in the traditional dhaba style, which means: they specialize in street food! Try the Cauliflower chaat and wash it down with a sweet Royal Falooda (best I've had in a long time)! 
They are on Skip the Dishes, so look out for them!

Lahore Tikka House
Lahore Tikka House is where you want to go if you're looking for tandoori meat dishes. Juicy chicken tikka, spicy kabobs and fresh garlic naan - they've got all the dishes to warm you up from the inside.

Desi Burger

A little restaurant with a large window open to the street, Desi Burger is one of the area's hidden gems. It's incredibly unassuming- aren't those the best spots? I'd go just to have a cup of their divine Masala Chai, but they are really known for their Pakistani style burgers, which are rivalled only by those sold on the streets of Lahore. You can't leave without a taste of their creamy kulfi - it's so good you may need to buy multiple flavours (don't say I didn't warn you).

If you're looking to spice up your life, check out these local, family-run restaurants for their take-out and delivery options. 

Let's support the small restaurants and businesses that bring so much vibrancy to our city. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lifestyle: 5 Ways to Be More Productive While Working From Home

In 2020 one of the realities many of us face (if we are lucky) is working from home.

While it sounds so fun and easy - there are many challenges you can face when your office is only a few feet away from your bed! 

Not to mention the constant distractions and other jobs that pull us from our actual work!

For example - there's always dishes to wash and laundry to do (and toys to put away). Add to that a quick bathroom break that reminds you you're running low on toilet paper (there's no office manager tracking those things), which leads you to start making a grocery list and then think about what you're making for get my point. 

It's easy to get distracted when there's so much to be done and it's right in front of you!

After eight months of pandemic life there are a few things Kunal and I have found that work for us as we navigate the wfh life. I thought I'd share some tips and tricks that help us stay on task, increase our motivation and get more accomplished as we both work from our home.
1) Have a separate work station

Setting up a separate work station in your space (preferably away from where you rest/relax) is a great way to stay productive and mark the start and end of your work time. 

Set yourself up for success by preparing your environment - do you need pens, highlighters, post-its regularly? Keep them nearby to prevent yourself from having to run from room to room looking for what you need. 

2) Time Block

Take 5 minutes and think about your biggest goals for the day and write them down. Now think about your biggest distractions- for me it's meal prep, laundry, my other jobs like running my Instagram etc. If you wear many hats, it's helpful to block your time out. 

As a freelancer, I have quite a few things I need to get done on any given day. I find it helpful to make a list of tasks and then block my time in hour-long chunks (sometimes 30 minute periods works too). 

The key is to dedicate your work period to only ONE task. You lose steam switching gears, so focus on one thing for a given time, and you will get more done. 

3) Allow yourself to take a break

Surprisingly, many people report they take less breaks when they work from home. Make a schedule for yourself that is similar to when you worked in an office setting. Perhaps breaks at 10:30 am, 3:00 pm and lunch at 12:00pm works for you? 

Set those hard stops and actually use them to decompress - get some fresh air, get a snack and allow yourself a tech break so that you can be more productive when you get back to work.

4) Write it down

When you are working close to your kitchen, it's hard not to get distracted by the mountain of dishes on your coffee break.

 My tip? Write it down.

I keep a post-it or notepad near my work space and write down any tasks that come to mind while I'm working. That way, I know I won't forget and I can continue to focus on my work instead of having to take care of it right away. At the end of my work period or work day, I have a list of those pressing personal to dos and I can tackle them all at once.

5) Focus Mode 

This is by far the most life-changing of all my tips. I often work from my phone as well as my computer. If you're in the same position, there are even more things vying for your attention while you work. Learn to use your phone's "Focus Mode" and thank me later.

This week, my hubby introduced me to this feature on my Google Pixel and it's amazing! I can select the apps that I find to be most distracting and they are silenced whenever I turn on this mode. On some phones it is also called "Zen Mode" and on Apple Phones it's called "Screen Time".

When I am about to start a work period, I select "Focus Mode" and I can use my phone for my work without any distractions. It's increased my productivity and I feel much more accomplished at the end of each session. It's a great feeling and I enjoy my breaks even more, knowing I've earned them!

Working from home sounds relaxing but it comes with its own set of challenges. I hope these tips help you stay focused on your tasks while you navigate the wfh life too. If you have tips to share, I'd love to hear them! Find me on Instagram @angeliesood and let's chat!


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Motherhood: Where to Buy Multicultural Baby Dolls

As my daughter approaches a stage where she is interested in pretend play and learning how to interact with others, I thought introducing her to a baby doll would be a great way to teach her things like empathy and how to use 'gentle hands'. 
Playing with a life like doll encourages:

•imaginative play
•care of self and others 
•vocabulary building (body parts, clothing, belongings etc)
•screen-free activity

I began my search on the internet to find a realistic looking baby doll that would have a skin tone similar to ours. It was hard to tell just by looking online, so the next time I went to a big box store in my area, I visited the toy section - there weren't very many options and they all happened to be Caucasian.

No problem, I thought. I'll go to a large, well known toy store where I'm sure they have many to choose from. The store did in fact have many dolls but I only saw one culturally diverse doll and she was not realistic looking at all. 

I was very disheartened when I left and browsed a local book store and was met with more of the same. Ten shelves of Christmas books, four single books about Hannukah and one about Diwali. 

In 2020, it's hard to believe that sourcing a multicultural baby doll or diverse book selection would be a task that required research, but it is.

I sat down, did some digging and put together a great list of options for you if you're looking for a doll brand with inclusive options. 

I enjoyed putting the list together, but the point is- I shouldn't have to.

This week we saw a strong Black and South Asian woman appointed as Vice-president of the United States of America. There's no doubt in my mind that many young boys and girls will look up to her as an example of what is possible with hard work and determination. 

For children in minority groups, Kamala Harris represents even more - the fact that people see us. The fact that we CAN be seen, heard and represented. 

Was glad that some brands (like those on this list) see us too and are working hard to ensure our children see people like them not only on the playground but also in their playroom.

Realistic Baby Dolls

Corolle Mon Premier Bebe Collection in the styles Maria, Calin, Alyzee and Mila

American Girl "Bitty Baby"  in the styles #1, #4 and #5

Mine to Love by Melissa and Doug in styles Mariana and Gabrielle

Baby Born had great options for boy and girl dolls in different skin tones
Our Generation Dolls - had good options in a variety of hair colours and skin tones with brushable hair

While working on this post, I came across a few stores that I felt were celebrating diversity and inclusion. 

The Knowledge Bookstore (Brampton) is a great resource for culturally diverse dolls and books. It's a Black owned business and a small local store celebrating inclusivity. 

Mastermind Toys also has great options and carried dolls varying in skin tone and style. I appreciated the fact that they offer free gift wrapping and when I made a purchase and said it was for "Diwali", the store manager suggested a culturally appropriate wrapping paper choice for the occasion (she knew what Diwali was!) They also had beautiful gift wrap choices for Hannukah. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Motherhood: 6 Easy Toddler Activities for Halloween

How to Halloween During a Pandemic

Halloween is a lot of fun with kids around. This year, like everything else, the fun will be a little different.

Without trick or treating, many parents are looking for ways to mark the occasion with some creativity at home. 

But if you have a toddler, it goes without saying that you don't have a lot of free time.

So today I'm sharing 6 things you can do at home with your child to make Halloween special, despite the Pandemic.

1) Halloween Sensory Bin

With a tray, some dried beans/lentils and a few cups or spoons, this can be a fun activity that can keeps your toddler engaged for a long time. I went with red lentils, black lentils and black eyed beans to give this activity a Halloween vibe. If you have some small Halloween inspired items like pumpkin erasers (dollarstore) or rubber spiders, add them to the mix to up the spook-factor. 
Note: you will want to supervise this activity carefully but you can definitely drink a hot coffee while you do.

2) Pumpkin Washing

This is a Montessori activity and follows the idea of children doing purposeful work. With a real pumpkin, water, a sponge or brush and a little hand soap, you can make this a very engaging practical life lesson on washing.

3) Set up a Halloween Themed Reading Nook

With all the excitement of the day, you are going to need some down time. Work that in with a reading station with some Halloween themed books. 
4) Plan a Video Call With Friends/Family in Costume

Seeing friends and family dressed up in costume is a fun way to celebrate, bond and mark the occasion. This is also a safe and fun way for Grandparents to enjoy the festivities.

5) Candy Sorting 

In a bowl, place different types of treats or candy (only choose what you are comfortable with your child eating at the end and use multiples of the same). Work with your toddler to sort them into piles based on the colour of their wrapper, the size, shape etc. This is a great way to build some vocabulary - talk about colours, shapes and even tastes (sweet, crunchy etc).

Of course, everyone chooses a treat at the end.
6) Halloween Dance Party

This is a great way to burn some energy! Put on some Halloween tunes and have fun moving to the music. Adding scarves, glow sticks and costumes will make this activity even more exciting.

Note: make sure you do this in a large open space for safety

Hope these quick and easy ideas for Toddler play help you celebrate at home this year.

 Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Travel: A Day Trip to Friday Harbour

A Day at Friday Harbour Resort

I love exploring Ontario and we make a point to visit some local gems year long. We love visiting the local businesses and exploring new towns.

Even when you only have a day, there's so many stunning places to see so close to home!

This weekend, we decided to explore Innisfil, Ontario. What brought us there was the prospect of a beach day and some whispers of a beautiful subdivision called "Friday Harbour."

We were looking for a fun, family friendly day out and a change of scenery and that's exactly what we found!

What is Friday Harbour?

Friday Harbour is a small harbour that was designed to be a destination. Their motto? "Live everyday like it's Friday." I think they have definitely captured that feeling.

Flanking the harbour are modern condos and waterfront properties. Originally the area was meant for residents only but now they welcome visitors for the day as well.

There is also a great boardwalk with some storefronts, restaurants and patios. You could easily spend the day or hours here if you catch that Friday vibe.

Here's what you can do:

  • Walk the board walk all the way to the beach (the beach itself is for homeowners only but you can access the waterway and shoreline)
  • Grab an iced coffee or ice cream and sit to watch the boats come in
  • Take sailing lessons
  • Enjoy a delicious meal (if you're visiting on a weekend, make reservations ahead of time)
  • Rent bicycles, kayaks, paddleboards or canoes
  • Go for a hike in the nature reserve
Note: At this time, face coverings are required in all establishments and many stores do not accept cash.

We enjoyed a delicious meal and some drinks at Fishbone Kitchen and then also bought some ice cream from a food truck. Each Saturday, different food trucks are on site for the day. While we were there, we noticed a Jamaican food truck, The Food Dudes and a Dole whip truck.

Some other restaurants you could check out on the boardwalk:

The Beach Club now open to non-residents)
Food Trucks (only on Saturdays and changes weekly)

We enjoyed strolling the boardwalk (it's stroller friendly and kids would enjoy watching the boats and learning their names). There is also a playground but it is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19.

If you're looking to make a weekend out of it, I'd suggest renting a bnb or hotel room in Innisfil, doing one day at Friday Harbour and one day at a local beach.

We grabbed some take-out and headed to Innisfil Beach Park. Currently the on-site parking is only for residents of Innisfil, so you may have to drive around a little to find a place to park.

It's a great spot right on Lake Simcoe, the beach areas are small but they have implemented "Active Beach" rules right now. This means there is no sitting or standing on the sand, but visitors can use the beach area to access the water.

This means there's always space for social distancing when you are going for a swim. The water was warm when we went and the beach was lively! We felt comfortable as the grass had social distancing circles sprayed on it so everyone was a safe distance apart. There's also a stroller friendly boardwalk here and a splash pad for little ones.

Hope the current situation doesn't prevent you from getting out for some local day trips. If you're feeling comfortable, it's a great way to relax, clear your head and explore. Just don't forget your mask!