The Yorkville kid sister to King West’s Her Majesty’s Pleasure opened not with a bang, but with a whimper. The expansive space nestled around the corner, behind, and up 3 flights up stairs from Versace hit the scene without much fanfare. That said, it’s well worth visiting.
I never thought I’d describe a veritable instagram dream-house in such a manner. It’s almost like a more sophisticated HideSeek with the added bonus of an upscale bar and some hair and nail services. It’s certainly my new happy place.
The décor at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Yorkville is much more vibrant than its King West pretty in pink counterpart. It reminded me of the daring mix of colours combined by Flack Studio (an interior design studio from Australia) for Caravan Seoul.
No dialing for champagne here, it’s a cocktail-lover’s dream. The menu is a great mix of smoothies, kombucha, and items a little more spirit-forward for the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” crowd. I tried the Purple Plane (a play on the classic Aviation). It was made of gin, Luxardo maraschino, Cointreau, lemon, and blueberry bitters. On a Sunday afternoon after a haircut and a manicure, one was enough for me. I’d love to come back and give a few others a try.
The real star of the show was Shamara, a junior stylist (seriously? My luck!) at Her Majesty’s Pleasure Yorkville. She turned my massive, messy mop into trendy, tamed tresses. I was promised no judgment (I just went from blonde to brunette and my locks aren’t the only thing damaged in my world). No judgment (and a great cut) was what I got.
We shared plenty of giggles trying to chop off as much of the dead weight as possible (my goal for life in general, this season). My polish change (quick shape and polish) was fine, although after a couple of days the polish was nearly all scratched off. Give it a pass unless you’re getting shellac.
I’m trying to grow in my natural colour, so I’ll definitely be back to Shamara. She will tone the red out and keep this fantastic shape up. Her rates are probably the most reasonable in Yorkville right now ($65 for cut and style). She won’t be considered a Junior Stylist for long. I can’t recommend her enough!
The website for Her Majesty’s Pleasure Yorkville only shows the King West location’s menu. Click the individual images above to pick your poison well in advance of your visit.
How to Get to Her Majesty’s Pleasure Yorkville
Address: 102 Yorkville Avenue, Unit 5, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 1B9
Phone: +1 416-546-4991
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM
The Publicist Group is made up of a small, but mighty, group of motivated, business-savvy, stunning, and strong women. Led by Melissa “MJ” Jovanoski and Cheryl Willberg, the entire TPG squad is worthy of a mega girl crush/ #WCW/ #goals. The women of TPGwould have sat at the “popular table” in high school. This time, however, they actually want you to be the best you can be (and they invite you to every party!) Over the past year I’ve been invited to a number of events and activations all with a common goal: Beauty and Strength Inside & Out.
We are The Publicist Group aka TPG! We are a full-service communications agency that offers everything from traditional PR programs and marketing initiatives to ambassador programs and direct-to-consumer activations at the retail level, utilizing both traditional and digital platforms. Most importantly – we work with brands we love, including fashion, beauty, food, health & wellness, and lifestyle. Check us out @PublicistGroup! #TPG
Be seen and heard in all the right places with The Publicist Group. As a full-service communications agency located in the heart of downtown Toronto, TPG offers an array of services from PR and marketing to events and influencer programs. Our team executes 360-degree strategies; delivers original, creative and result-driven campaigns; and loves to make noise across the country with our clients’ initiatives.
The Publicist Group is a collective of digital strategists, event planners, marketers, creative geniuses, social media gurus, and publicists. We don’t follow trends; we are trendsetters. Staying in tune with current events around the globe, the TPG team identifies shifts in the marketplace and are experts in creating relevant, newsworthy, and impactful programs that leave a lasting impression.
The Publicist Group introduced me to the Fit Factory Fitness when I was right in the middle of tapering off at Big Hit Studios and kicking off a challenge at F45 St. Clair West. Conveniently located on King St. West a few blocks East of Spadina, it’s billed as the #1 Gym in Toronto. Personally, I found their Bootcamp to be overcrowded. With only one trainer providing a very quick overview of an intense workout, I was concerned about my safety as veterans tossed around heavy weights and newbies tried to follow suit. The boxing class, on the other hand, was a stellar workout. The trainers were energetic and the class itself had varying levels of intensity. The water bags were also pretty wild and fun to smack around!
City Shred is a massive group workout hosted once a quarter by The Publicist Group and sponsored by Genuine Health. The energy is electric and it’s an opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in fitness in Toronto, as well as special guests from around the world. I missed the July edition due to the rat situation, but back in March I crushed their Women’s edition. I got to enjoy a day which started with round-table discussion with the coaches who would be leading us through the day.
The key to mastering City Shred is to go at your own pace. I’m not the machine I was 2 years ago, and I certainly wasn’t prepared to compete with fitness professionals who coach several classes a day while I’m at my desk. Find your own space, take yourself beyond your comfort level, and have fun making friends and admiring those showing off their bad-ass muscles. Ps. Can you spot me in the preview of the video above? #SweatyBetty
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. Taking a collagen supplement can help improve your skin, relieve joint pain, boost muscle mass, prevent bone loss, promote heart health, aid in digestion and gut health, and make your hair and nails grow. The benefits of adding collagen to my diet weren’t clear until I stopped taking it daily. Subtle aches and pains after sitting at my desk for a while suddenly returned. Bouncing back after a night out wasn’t quite so easy. My poor bleached and butchered hair started to break again. Sproos Life is a collagen supplement to which I was introduced by TPG at the gorgeous Pray Tell on College St. We mixed cocktails and mocktails which each had a serving of collagen mixed-in.
Hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides sourced from the hides of grass-fed, pasture-raised North American cattle, to help restore and rebuild your body’s natural collagen.
10 g of grass-fed bovine collagen per serving
Pure collagen – nothing else added
100% grass-fed and grass-finished
Free of antibiotics, hormones and pesticides
Add to your favourite hot or cold beverage, or even to soups or oatmeal
At the end of February, the team introduced me to Vivier. We learned about how to combat signs of aging using skincare products including retinol and spf. With my upcoming vacation to The Philippines, I wasn’t quite ready to play with tools which would initially irritate my skin (the purge!). So, I waited until the beginning of May to get started with this line. I haven’t yet written a full-scale review because 3 of the 5 products in the kit we were so generously gifted are still trucking along 4 months later!
Myndful Me was sadly a bit of a bust for me. We went checked out the space and learned how to make charcoal cookies with adaptogens after being led through a meditation practice. The music and the direction made for a very pensive, but relaxing evening. I purchased their $30 unlimited 1-month special and was told I could use it whenever. I had a couple of upcoming trips, so I didn’t want to use it until the new year. When I tried to apply my purchase I was told it had expired. Correspondence to correct the issue was never responded to. Not so zen, eh?
Big thanks to @publicistgroup for bringing me along to the stunning #LoveYourStory event at @stregistoronto! I got to hear from a plethora of women who have learned to love their own stories of struggle and trauma and turn them into an armor of confidence with a lining of understanding.
Events with this team always have motivational speakers, the most stunning décor, phenomenal food, and an interactive component so you don’t just see a product/ brand, you become part of it.
I woke up the next morning and treated my stressed tresses to @viviscal/ @viviscalcanada shampoo, conditioner, and desensifying elixir. My hair is already thick, so this leo was rocking a full mane that day! It actually dried faster and was easier to manage when straightening. I typically have a lot of breakage (bottle blonde) , so let’s see if we can put an end to my split ends! 👱♀️
Featuring a PR team on my personal blog isn’t exactly the status quo around here. Every time I get an e-mail about an event or activation from TPG I think to myself, “Wow – that’s out of the box”. There’s only so much you can see on my feed/ in my stories, and because of this I wanted to share something a little more permanent. Over the past year The Publicist Group has proven that being true to yourself and your vision, rather than accepting business for the sake of having business, goes a long way.
Jenna Rink (13 Going on Thirty) gave me unrealistic expectations about what “Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving” might mean. I am all of those things, for the most part, but when I envisioned life in my early thirties I remembered the movie with rose-coloured goggles and neglected the negatives. Millennials on the whole are reflected in these lenses. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t grow up and inherit a closet full of designer dresses which we wear to parties choreographed by legends of the past. We’re struggling to meet many of the milestones and youthful hopes and dreams we expected to achieve by a particular time in our lives.
For me, the biggest of these milestones is home ownership. I genuinely thought that since I was managing a department at a pretty well-known online media company before finishing my Bachelors degree, I could take success for granted. For others, climbing the corporate ladder hasn’t been as linear a path as anticipated. Some of my friends thought reproduction would be more straightforward. Others, like myself, find dating to be pretty pathetic. I’ve set it aside for the moment.
These are what I like to call “transition years”. We’re no longer halfway there/ livin’ on a prayer partying and living large on $20/ night. We’re not curling up and falling asleep on the couch to 60 minutes, either. My world through these transition years has been stressing me out. On top of it all, I’m approaching another rotation around the sun. At a time when I should be celebrating, I’m just kind of over it. I’d rather be celebrating exciting moments of accomplishment rather than reminding myself that time marches on. Maybe I’ll celebrate my career anniversary with a housewarming party (yes friends, we’re rat-free!)
I had been tweezing for some time and thought I was doing a decent enough job of cleaning up. Wowza – how could I have been so wrong? After a few hackjobs in the past, I went to WAXON in Riverside. Latifah not only kept my shape natural, she gave my brows a bit of a trim which made all the difference. Your brows surround the windows to your soul. Make sure they’re a pretty frame!
BONUS: I bought this Citrus Twist Loofah Scrub (Blood Orange & White Grapefruit) and it’s making my morning! “This loofah scrub duals as a loofah and luxurious soap in one! Exfoliate and cleanse daily with your favourite delicious scent while saving time in your daily body wash routine. Perfect for everyday use to help keep those pesky ingrown hairs away! Oh, and did we mention… it smells DELICIOUS!”
CITRUS TWIST – Blood Orange & White Grapefruit
LEMONRAZZ – Raspberry Lemonade
POMTINI – Pomegranate Mango
I love that it’s smooth on one side and exfoliating on the other. The scent is out of this world, too. Will let you know how long it takes for the full loofah to emerge!
I got to enjoy a blow-out in Leaside earlier this year at their Grand Opening, which was to dye die for. I’m kind of obsessed with the community Farah (owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar Leaside) has created. The small shop leaves lots of room for inclusive conversation and lots of laughs!
Farah’s words of wisdom? “It’s important to be coifed, kissable and connected – never leave home without a comb, gloss and phone! Oh, and keep your head, heels and standard high. When it comes to hair, Farah’s mantra is Big Hair For Life.”
BONUS: They do makeup applications (their GLO brand makes insanely beautiful lip glosses). They also stock some of my fave hair care brands like UNITE Hair 7 Seconds Condition Leave In Detangler and the Color Wow Dream Coat (to de-frizz and tame your tresses!)
Her Majesty’s Pleasure is one of the pricier places you can go for a manicure in Toronto. The ambiance, décor, and cheerful chatter (due to some fantastic cocktails, no doubt) are a can’t-miss for those who want to feel whimsical and girly.
This one I can’t stress enough. A new, easy to follow skincare routine is such a blessing and a great way to rejuvenate. I’ve been alternating Miracle 10 Skincare with other great quality brands for 7 years. Their starter collection is perfect for someone like me who has aging skin, but who isn’t quite a prune. The sticker price may shock you ($328), but when you think about the ease of use and how long the products last (months, truth be told) it’s worth it.
“This combination is designed to visibly improve damage caused by sun exposure, extreme weather, pollutants, smoking, dehydration and age-related conditions such as fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, dull skin surface and uneven pigmentation. Highly effective ingredients including exfoliants, antioxidants, decongesting botanicals, along with skin brightening agents provide correction and healing.”
BONUS: They have seasonal events with wine, hors d’oeuvres, a speaker series, and plenty of deals. I’m talking buy $150 worth of product and get $250 – $500 worth of products free. Last time I bought their Platinum cleanser and got a facial, a giftcard for cosmetic services, a make-up application (for a later date), and a full-size toner as gifts with purchase. Sign up for their e-mail list – it’s a total no-brainer!
Getting your glam on all in one place is easy. After the winter beauty event at Miracle 10 Skincare, I booked a facial at The Plastic Surgery Clinic. Both are located on Scollard Street in Yorkville, so you can feel completely chic (and Gangnam Style) for your treatment. The easiest way to glow up quickly is through dermaplaning. This treatment is often added to a facial. It removes the fine hairs which are known for trapping dirt, oil and dead skin cells in your pores. This is the main cause of acne. Dermaplaning leaves your skin brighter giving you that “baby smooth” and glowing look and feel!
I did that thing everyone warns you against. Finding my nurse injector, Fresh Cosmetic Clinic, through Groupon was a massive gamble, and thank goodness it turned out well! In Korea, the only people who did my botox or lip injections were board certified plastic surgeons. Here, they tend to be done by nurse injectors, which for some reason made me really nervous.
Botox/ fillers were not at all taboo in Seoul. In Toronto, it’s becoming more popular to discuss openly, and I hope people feel more comfortable sharing their experiences soon. We go to the dentist to keep out teeth clean and cavity free. The gym’s the spot to keep heart healthy and in good shape. Why shouldn’t we invest in our faces which change with diminished collagen production and elasticity?
High Quality H20
Stop, drop, and drink! I try to ensure that I’m getting about 4 L of water throughout my day. It gives me something on which to focus and gets me out of my chair and away from my desk when I fill up my water bottle. I don’t need to lecture you on the benefits of drinking water, do I?
Go See Some Stand-Up
I love to sit back and listen. I also love a good belly laugh. Seeing a set at your local comedy bar and watering hole accomplishes both! If you go on an amateur night you’ve got the added bonus of seeing someone else worth through their issues. The last time I caught a show one of the comics was a later in life laugh who was going deaf. Hearing about some of his life experiences being more than hard of hearing had me in stitches. The man’s timing was impeccable!
Run Through a Sprinkler
…or do something equally as juvenile, refreshing, and deliciously youthful. We’ve literally coined a term to show how poorly we’re doing as grown-ups (“Adulting for Dummies”, amirite?), so why not flip back to the joys of earlier days?
What do you do to relax, look your best, and feel youthful?
Let’s be real – living in Toronto has not exactly been a cakewalk. My last apartment was actually affordable. It was also far from the modern amenities I enjoy downtown as a single Sally in the city. In this creaky old house divided into apartments, my upstairs neighbours (and their new, massive puppy) stomped around, bounced a ball, argued constantly, and played “How I Met Your Mother” on repeat. “Ba ba ba ba baaaaaaaaa ba ba ba baaaaaa ba ba ba da da dum ba da da da daaaaaaaa” haunts my nightmares to this day. I had no heat from November through January, and in February decided enough was enough and I had to vacate.
Nearly everywhere humans dwell, rats can be found living, too. I’m not just talking about the backstabbing betches spewing lies and exhausting themselves spewing vitriol. I’m talking about actual rodents. They’re all over the place, and unless what I saw was the biggest MoFo-king mouse, they’re in my new apartment, too.
We often equate rats with being dirty and diseased, yet we also describe humanity as a rat race. Are we all just dirty, diseased beings trying to bypass one another, grab that brass cheese (er – ring), and make it out alive? Maybe it’s just that we’re both warm blooded, we’re all mammals, and we give birth to living young. here are the ways in which both my exes and these rats are unwanted guests.
I never know when he’ll come to visit
While rodents are nocturnal animals, I’ve noticed that certain bait I’ve put out at before leaving for work has disappeared by the time I get home. My little furry friend is much like my big furry friend. Mr. “Doesn’t Believe in Monogamy”works on his own terms and comes to visit when he pleases. No part of me thought my new place would invite either. Both are unexpected and unwanted pests.
He lives in a hole in the wall
It’s amazing how shady some of my exes’ living arrangements have been. From Ex-CoP on the army base with no kitchen, all-burnt sienna errythang, and a broken couch (yes, I’m aware), to the aforementioned non-monogamous douche-canoe who lives in the dingiest corner in the basement of a nice Leslieville house he actually owns, it’s no wonder my exes want to spend the majority of their time at mine. It’s tantamount to Ratty ratterson climbing through pipes . I’m just as afraid of finding vermin in the toilets as I am my ex!
He doesn’t pay rent
My mouse/ rat/ whatever contributes nothing to my home, and the ex I adored sure didn’t either. Adonis lived with me rent-free and I’m pretty sure it damn near killed him to play a role where his masculinity was threatened. I do, however, miss having someone to do my laundry, tidy up my flat, and make me dinner. There’s only I one I could do without snuggling up to at night, however.
He wakes me up in the middle of the night
Speaking of nightly activities, while my pajamas parties have hit a staunch halt, my rat pal is up at all hours. My ex snored loudly, and would head for a midnight snack, a trip to the loo, or for a bit of a frisk at unexpected hours. Mr. Rat, however, is up looking for one thing only – food. I can no longer keep paper or plastic out in the open, and any garbage is taken out immediately. Also, just the thought of him potentially scampering about my space keeps me up at night.
He’s very active
Great for the ex, bad for the rat. Looks like marriage has sure softened up ole Co-P, but when we were together we were very active and worked out a lot. Not sure if I can hack a 4 AM workout these days, though. Mr. Rat and I will not be fitness pals.
He eats my food, but I still have to feed him
You can’t keep food in unsealed containers if there’s a boy or a rodent about. They. Will. Eat. It. And. Expect. More. At least with the rodent I’ve put out peanut butter and eco-friendly rat bait which seems to be an enjoyable snack for my guest.
I clean up after him
They leave their shit everywhere.
I don’t know how many others he’s seeing
As evidenced by my relationships with Adonis, Co-P, and Mr. Non-MonogamousI am not great at knowing when the apple of my eye is getting too friendly with others. As they say with rats: where there’s one, there are many.
I have no idea what diseases he’s carrying
Rats and humans often suffer from the same diseases, and I’m worried as to what’s being brought into my home. At least with an unfaithful man you can get tested and (hopefully) treated. What rodents bring into your home can be deadly. We have similar organs, basic physiology, similar hormones, we both have nervous systems that work in the same way, and similar body plans. While research on rats has been done to propel human disease control, vaccines, and cures, I’m not sure I want testing going the other way around.
Ultimately, I kind of want him dead
Okay, I’m mostly only talking about the rat in this case, but I often feel I would have been better off not knowing a couple of my exes. Adonis burrowed a hole in my heart I don’t think can ever quite be patched up. Ex-Co-P was a strain on my resources and the source of constant drama. The guys I’ve dated in Toronto have been a blur of pathetic POS. If I could wipe them all out from my memory, I absolutely would.
“If you want to be happy for the rest of your life never make a pretty woman your wife…”
This Jimmy Soul tune blasts through my head every time I swipe right on a guy who isn’t generically attractive, but who looks goofy and like he would be a good time. I hate to admit it, but I figure that a guy who isn’t exactly a stud would make for a more committed partner and potentially even a good father to offspring (should we ever be so lucky with my dusty old eggs).
Why I Gave Ugly Men a Try
What’s that old saying – “You’ve gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”? Well – I’m making my way through the toads, right now. Toronto hasn’t exactly been a mecca for good-looking men, full stop. Let’s not even get started on the qualities I actually desire in a partner. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then, pursuant to my newest hobby of cutting the crazy, I’ve been trying something a little different.
I date hot men. While I’m certainly not a 10 myself, I find it easier to strike up a conversation with an attractive, confident man, than someone has “nice guys finish last” on repeat. I bat outside my league pretty frequently, but what has that ever gotten me? Heartbreak and absolute agony was what I got from Adonis, I was cheated on by ex co-p, and ghostedby the hotness monster. I’m trying to date within my means and based on common values and interests.
Back to the Song. The lyrics go:
"If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.
A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her
Then she starts to do
The things that will break his heart.
But if you make an ugly woman your wife,
You'll be happy for the rest of your life,
An ugly woman cooks her meals on time,
She'll always give you peace of mind."
Okay so the song itself is dated and offensive, sure. Remember – it was released in 1963 and I’m considering it all from my own personal perspective towards men, capisce? I’m swiping righton these guys I’m certainly not over the moon about. Give these plain boys a chance, right? Sadly, I’m getting the exact same result except now there’s no eye candy.
It’s amazing! Even if we’ve had a good time and I’ve convinced myself that I could grow to love someone’s gummy horse teeth or his Frankenstein five-head. Hot or not, I often get the message back that they had a great time and would love to see me again, but just as friends. It makes me wonder – what part of me is the Frankenstein bit?
Hunky Guys and Ugly Men – they’re all the same inside.
I can whittle myself down attacking every point which could have put me in dim lighting. A comment, perhaps, which made me appear as a know it all. My weight – it always comes down to that, doesn’t it? At the end of the day, I think it’s just that the dude didn’t want to be rejected first. Recently, I had simply thanked the guy for a lovely evening and for picking up the cheque (which he didn’t need to do, but was nice). His immediate response was to send back the “just friends” message. No part of me thought it was a love match and sparks certainly were not flying. I’d have given the poor bloke a second chance to redeem himself, though.
Stop Dating Ugly Men
I can’t imagine a man analyzing his looks and behavior the way I picked apart mine. So, I guess that’s just it. If there’s no immediate, earth-shaking spark, you must hurt them before they can hurt you. Both ugly men and beautiful ones will give you grief if they’re out to give you grief. Stop selling yourself short. If the uggos have the kind of confidence to hit on you, you might as well swing for the fences, too. Better to receive disappointing news from a pretty face, don’t you agree?
*Beauty is subjective. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure!
Planning a Bachelorette party is no easy task. In Toronto, there are so many options it’s a challenge to whittle it down to what the bride will actually love. There’s paddleboarding, but that’s weather dependent. Escape rooms, unless the bride has anxiety. Pole dancing, unless someone in the bridal party used to be a stripper. Axe-throwing, but that’s far out by the docks. A bachelorette party is supposed to be fun for the bride and her closest friends. Here’s how the best laid (and expensive!) plans completely unraveled.
In advance of the big night, I had Bride/ Bridesmaid t-shirts made up and I scoured the internet for the best decor and games which wouldn’t be too lewd. Eventually, I traveled to Oshawa to pick up all the goodies at Party City since the local ones didn’t have the balloons I wanted. Not wanting the bride to have to lift a finger, I sent an UBER to pick her up and transport her to a secret location for blow-outs. Bride has hella long, thick, wavy hair, whereas mine is much shorter and more manageable.
I booked 2 long hair/ extensions blow outs thinking it would be plenty of time. It was absolutely not. Our blow-outs at Body Love Inc. made us want to curl up and dye – er, die. I looked decent when I rocked up, but definitely needed to have my hair washed and styled. The area for hair-styling is quite cramped with 1 washing station and 4 chair stations. We each opted for curly locks with a pulled-out fishtail braid. As you can see above, it was clearly not what we were expecting! Disappointment #1 on a day full of high hopes.
Louix Louis St. Regis Hotel Toronto Free-flow, Bottomless Brunch
No disappointments here! The St. Regis Hotel Toronto was absolutely magnificent. Even though we were late due to the horrendous hair incident, the staff made us feel cool, calm, and collected as we were escorted to our booth. The decor at Louix Louis is nothing short of regal, and we felt like royalty with our sparkling wine topped up by prosecco fairies (or ninjas – the service was exquisite, but the details covered without spectacle). We were also given the choice of orange or peach juice which were left at our table to be poured at our discretion.
Our appetizers were just perfect! Bride and I had Crispy Pork Belly snow pea & mint, pancetta, parmesan, red wine jus. Across the table, there was a lime Kale Caesar sourdough, lime yogurt dressing, smoked bacon, parmesan (there was no kale in this salad, though. Kind of weird, right?). My neighbour tried the beef Tartar pickled mushroom, grain mustard, spicy tomato jam, whole grain crostini. Everyone was thrilled with their choices and we were excited for the main courses.
Our entrees appeared on the smaller side, but were served up with incredibly rich ingredients. The Nova Scotia Lobster Rolls came with grainy mustard, lemon aioli, crispy lettuce, and saffron pickled fennel. My Steak & Egg Florentine was New York steak, poached egg, garlic spinach, lemon hollandaise, and toasted pumpkin. The Fried Chicken & Waffle was huge with pepper jack cheese, maple syrup, chicory leaves. I’d definitely go back for the Croque Madame made with black forest ham, Quebec gruyère, creamy cheese sauce, and a poached egg.
Four of us tried, and failed, to demolish The King’s Cake, a thirteen-layer chocolate cake made of 64% Guayaquil ganache, and served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce!
When we got to The Westin Harbour Castle, we checked in and went up to the 34th floor penthouses to decorate. It was my understanding that we’d have 1 bedroom with a living room, but we ended up getting 2 bedrooms with two living rooms. Amazing since we had 4 bathrooms, but for us all to socialize we had to squish all the guests into one room. Disappointment? Certainly not, but definitely a little bit of an unexpected surprise.
We got to work decorating the suite and adding goodies so graciously sent by Miracle 10 (have you heard about their new cosmetics collection? We had the perfect nude for all skintypes), Repiel sheetmasks c/o Brill Communications, and skincare goodies from my friends at CosRX.
In each of the 4 rooms there was a massive flatscreen TV (bring your Netflix credentials for viewing pleasure), and in 2 of the 4 bathrooms there were showers. We had plenty of water and tons of coffee, thankfully, as I was already feeling pretty exhausted from a full morning!
Sheer pleasure? The set-up the Westin Harbour Castle provided for dinner. We had had a few more ladies join us for champagne and chill time before going out and popped on the Raptors game as the dishes rolled in. The hot wings were perfectly meaty, the thin crust pizza had a fantastic sauce and plenty of cheese on a doughy crust, and the nachos were actually loaded high. Again – 8 women couldn’t finish this spread!
I may be dancing and looking like I was having a good time, but El Convento Rico was a big ole bust. I had arranged for a table and some photos of the bride and her fiance to be displayed on a loop with other bachelorette parties that night. After our party got settled, it was demanded that we buy a bottle. Yeesh – no a la carte here, we bought a crappy bottle of tequila for the better part of $200. No images were displayed to the best of my knowledge at all.
Being that this is the typical spot for parties like these in Toronto, you’d expect more than a few bathrooms in a dank corner. Waiting for 45 minutes well away from the party in a dirty, stinky place was not my idea of a good idea, and after I has returned some of the drinks and gone outside for some air it was time for bed. Yayyy what a great night, eh?
Ultimately, some of the best laid plans go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong. Your hair might fall flat. Heck – your friendship might be hair today, gone tomorrow! The hotel might not be exactly the room you bargained for. The guests might get unruly and destructive. When it comes down to it, all you can do is give it your heart, soul, time, and wallet, and hope your hard work is appreciated. If/ when it isn’t, give me a call and we’ll commiserate!
Contact Louix Louis at the St. Regis Hotel Toronto
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Men are simple. Women are often pretty simple, too. We all want what we can’t have. Anything that is out of reach is challenge; a goal. It bothers most of us when we’re given a simple “no”. Isn’t it amazing how one little two-letter word can hold so much power?
Patterns in relationships are changing. As they evolve, I find that traditional, cisgendered, heterosexual relationships are going the way of the dinosaur. “Love who and how you want to love” is my sentiment, but my ultimate goal is a lot more traditional. As much as I hate being cookie-cutter, I like the option of a conventional relationship. I’ll put it right out there: I want to get married and have a family. I’d like to be able to dance with my father in a nice dress at my wedding (albeit destination with a limited guestlist).
Do you have to take some “settle” when you want to settle down? My mother always told me, “men are like streetcars – another will be along in a few minutes.” Sure, but if you’ve ever taken the TTC during rush hour, you’ll know it’s a balancing act to get on and a fight to the finish. Welcome to dating in Toronto. A signal problem is effecting all lines. Welcome to your thirties.
Toronto takes the cake for crappy dating pools. The men in Toronto are old, crusty towels with tinder profiles stating their height and “no fatties”. Riveting. When you meet one who is good-looking, is employed and ambitious, and takes care of himself, can you imagine the desperation he must be able to smell? Quality men are not like streetcars. They don’t come along frequently, and when they do I’m assuming single women look at them like they’re unicorns. I mean – I certainly do.
These men are used to hearing the word “No”, but they’re not used to women meaning it. I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this, but women I know and others I read about or watch on TV often fall into the same old script of saying no then giving in. These dudes are smooth! They often get what they want without even asking. There’s power in pushing him away – channel it.
There is power in “No”. The saying “always leave them wanting more” isn’t unique to dating, but the shoe sure does fit. Silly romantic comedies with particular sets of rules exist for a reason – we’re the rule, not the exception. If you (er – I) want to have a traditional relationship, when I meet a new unicorn, a coy McCoy and negative Nancy I’ll sure as sh*t need to be.
Looking back on my teen through mid-twenties crushes, I thought the juiciest thing in the world was the time at the beginning of a relationship. The heart/ gut-wrenching “does he or doesn’t he like me” feeling was one I looked back on almost fondly. Potential romance was fleeting, but almost as lovely as the romance itself. The excitement, the uncertainty, the torture, and the relief were things I looked back on as feeling like my heart was on fire.
That feeling left me entirely for three years, and for that I’m now so thankful. While I was in Korea, I dated 3 men who, in the beginning, gave me no feelings of uncertainty. I developed feelings not just of confidence, but self-assurance and safety from my partner. It wasn’t precarious – in the beginning I never felt like I was about to fall or my world collapse.
Dating now that I’m back in Toronto is disappointing. I keep meeting these complete and total losers who genuinely make me feel like I should give up and get a cat (or a second job!) Then, it’s like the Universe recognizes my disappointment in humanity; my loneliness.
I’m certainly not the free-spirited, lithe, fun-loving woman I was from 28-31. I’ve gained weight, lost confidence, and have retreated to the lost little girl I was in my teens through mid twenties. A glimmer of hope in romance leaves a world of doubt. Still, the Universe has brought me a forest fire.
I want a partner – someone with whom I can adventure, but also in which I can confide. This man is irreverent, masculine, sexy, and arrogant. He hasn’t quite shown me many of the answers to his brooding mystery, yet. Over the past year I’ve questioned whether I would ever be “cool enough” for a relationship with him. Recently, he has made me feel safe in the most emotionally nourishing intimacy I’ve experienced since I packed the man I still consider to be the love of my life into a taxi to the airport.
You can have sex without intimacy, and I’ve had incredible intimacy without sex. Just having someone hold you and interlock your fingers in theirs is like the emotional Kama Sutra.
Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t have to write this part, and sometimes it’s more of a reminder for myself: this is a blog. This is a place where I throw away all the academic writing I’ve learned for school. Writing guides at my current job have no place here. Toronto Seoulcialite is where I write my informative pieces, not here. This is a stream of consciousness and sarcasm allowing me to communicate with you, lovely readers, but also for me to figure out how to handle what’s going on in my life.
I so desperately wanted comfort from one person in particular Thursday night when this all transpired. Instead, he turned the conversation almost immediately to himself and his “problems” and completely dismissed mine.
I told someone recently, single people in Toronto are like Baskin Robbins. The women are the ice cream. You have 31 sweet, rich, basic, colourful, fun, fat-free, and decadent flavour options available at any given time just ready and waiting to be scooped up. The men are the cones: small, regular, large, plain, waffle, chocolate, or sprinkles (what it do, Church Street?) and they’re almost ALL broken. How I could have expected my Mr. of a year (May 2nd, bro) to actually be there for me was clearly insane.
I’m not okay. The last couple of weeks had left me feeling pretty defeated, already. Thursday night I returned home from an event to find that a tradesperson who had been contracted by my property management company had left my apartment in complete disarray, with filth covering my freshly swiffered floors. What’s more – several luxury skincare items, some costume jewelry, and a pair of my pants were missing.
Physical items can be replaced, and if this person (who I’m certain clears double what I make annually) really needed what I had, then fine – take it. What I can’t replace is the feeling of security in my own home. I know that I have a 3 bolt lock system on my door. I thought the last person was just paranoid, but I’m starting to understand. The bolt locks have me covered while I’m sleeping, but what about when I’m at work? How do I know that this person who was clearly left unsupervised doesn’t have a key to my apartment? What kind of assurance do I have that he or she won’t return to hawk my laptop or sentimental items passed down from my grandmother?
Not knowing exactly what to do, I called a couple of people who I thought might help me calm down. Two of the three have a ton of personal issues going on right now. Marriage for one, divorce for the other, sleepless nights and therapy for both. These people have so much going on in their personal lives, but they both asked if I needed them to come stay the night so that I could regain some trust and, even if I didn’t feel safe, protected at the very least.
The third person I called is a man who I’ve known for a year now. He has sought solace in my words and my company. I’ve brought him lunch at work and have made him tea at my home. When he returned my call, he told me the same thing as the police on the non-emergency line: do my own thorough investigation as there’s nothing else which could be done. This single man didn’t have hair dye cooking. He certainly wasn’t preparing for a weekend of division of assets. Dude was tired from work, continuing education, and hockey. After telling Mr. “Doesn’t Believe in Monogamy” that I felt in distress, he had the audacity to start complaining about how hard it was to juggle his full-time job, part-time studies, and physical fitness. I’m the last person to pity someone for an attempt at work ethic. Work, studies, fitness, and freelance deliverables are par for the course in my world, and if that hasn’t been apparent to him by now, then he’s clearly not taken an iota of interest in who I am as a person.
My reaching out to you when I’m in a pickle is not an opportunity for you to complain. I called you because you continue to rely on me for psychological and physical support. I thought just this one time you might reciprocate. The physical things which were taken are not the issue. Vulnerability in this instance comes not from thinking I’ll be hurt physically, it’s the mental turmoil associated with a violation of trust. This isn’t about you, but at the same time maybe it is. Maybe this is the wake-up call for which I’ve been waiting. In your world (and too often in mine) it’s always about you.
As I’ve written here on a number of occasions, I adore the unique community cultivated at F45 St. Clair West. I’ve tried a couple of other F45 locations, and they just were not for me. I love having the space to move around unique to St. Clair West. The trainers there keep in touch 1 on 1 through Whatsapp and on Instagram. They genuinely care about your well-being and your loyalty to the community.
Some people say there’s a bit of a cult element to F45. Overall, I can see it, but there’s a fine line between the optics of that kind of encouragement and dedication demands. Once you’re involved, it’s just a party of people trying to live their best lives in health. I’ve made some greats friends, reconnected with some old ones, and have learned a lot about myself. In particular? I often go way harder than is necessary, and it’s not always a good idea.
First and foremost, there’s something to be said for over-training: DON’T DO IT. Do as I say, not as I do, right? Before the F45 Challenge began, I had already been eating fairly well and making it to 3 – 4 F45 classes per week. At lunch, I usually hit up Goodlife with a colleague of mine who continuously chirps me for not having yet raced a 5 km. Add in the fact that I have been walking 4 km to work at least 3 times a week and you’ve got a case for chronically elevated cortisol levels.
When your cortisol levels are too high, there are a variety of complications which can arise. Weight gain is what has effected me the most, but other symptoms include: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, exhaustion – effecting daily hormone cycles and disrupted sleep patterns, memory (ever felt like you were in a mental fog?), and infections due to compromised immune systems.
How to Combat High Cortisol Levels?
Sleep and Cortisol Levels
This was a tough one for me considering I was living in a basement with totally inconsiderate neighbours and a rich landlord who took the “hands off” approach. I even moved apartments losing out on over a thousand dollars when I cut my lease short. My F45 Challenge team coach would often reprimand me for not getting 8 hours of sleep. I took that really personally as I was climbing into bed around 8 PM in the hopes that I could get any sleep before getting up to exercise before work. I was killing myself, and that wasn’t enough for him. This was my biggest problem with the F45 Challenge because I was trying so hard and it never seemed to be enough.
Exercise and Cortisol Levels
Double-edged sword, non? Exercise in moderation can lead to lower cortisol levels. Over-training runs the risk of affecting neurotransmitters such as glutamine, dopamine and 5-HTP. Ever wonder why the road to fit can throw your emotions through a loop? Over-training can lead to feelings of depression and chronic fatigue. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are also a side-effect of over-training, and I think they may have hit me hard throughout the F45 Challenge. Rest and recovery time need to be penciled into your schedule, just like exercise.
Sugar and Cortisol Levels
Cutting down on your sugar intake should help balance your cortisol levels. I have such a sweet tooth. If I go a couple of days incorporating limited levels of natural sugars (fruit, for example), I find myself craving “real foods” (you know, the ones you get from shopping around the outside of the grocery store) so much more. I went out for a post-challenge celebration with a gal pal recently and we shared a bunch of tapas including: grilled halloumi (cheese), roasted squash, brussel sprouts, and a beet and goat cheese salad. It felt like I had just binged on fast food, but realistically it was all pretty healthy and within moderation for my day. Once you’re off processed sugar, something as simple as a beet tastes like heaven-on-Earth candy. Dwight Shrute may have been on to something…
Last week I went to the Philippines. I spent my days island-hopping, eating food I would neeeeever eat here in Canada (Filipino food is really greasy!), and enjoying cocktails liberally. I felt so puffy and bloated when I arrived home, but lo and behold – hadn’t gained a pound. It’s Friday today, and since Monday I’ve dropped 5 lbs. This is more than I had lost during the F45 Challenge.
I haven’t been stressed about scheduling a particular number of workouts throughout my week. Pizza has been on the menu not once, but twice. I’ve enjoyed a couple of spin classes and have focused on weights at the gym on my lunch break. If your workouts, or goals of a particular challenge, are consuming your entire life – take a step back. Take a night off and head out with your friends. Skip the morning workout and sleep in. It’s cliché, but actually take a minute to stop and smell the roses and breathe in some fresh air. You might find some unlikely (and positive) results!