I often spend time reflecting on life, accomplishments, dreams and goals for the future but there is something about the end of a year that really brings all this to the forefront. It’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day stresses and forget how fortunate many of us really are. My goal for 2011 is to accentuate the positive and appreciate everything that is good in life.
What accomplishment are you most proud of from 2010? What is your number one goal for 2011?
After much indulgent holiday eating and drinking, I am trying to lighten up my meals this week. Last night, I made this recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook and really enjoyed it.
I was not able to get Red Snapper at my local grocery so I used Tilapia; I will definitely try to get the snapper next time. You can also use striped bass fillets if they are available. I omitted the cooking spray from the recipe but let me know how it is if you use it.
I also found this meal to be a great way to forget the winter blues for a bit and imagine we were back in the tropics enjoying a meal.
Servings: 4 Preparation Time: 30 min Cooking Time: 8 min Level of Difficulty: Moderate
2 spray(s) cooking spray
1/2 cup(s) yellow cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill organic whole grain brand, found at Loblaws)
1 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 pound(s) snapper fillet(s), red-variety, cut into 2-inch piece
8 medium corn tortilla(s), buy a few extra in case some break
1 head(s) romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed and remaining leaves sliced into 1/4-inch strips
5 medium radishes, red-variety, thinly sliced
2 medium scallion(s), thinly sliced
10 medium cherry tomatoes quartered
1/4 cup(s) shredded red cabbage
3/4 cup(s) low-fat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ tsp cumin or to taste
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh sprigs, for garnish
Preheat broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (or nonstick aluminum foil) and coat with cooking spray (helps to make fish crispy).
Place corn flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and paprika in a large bowl; mix to combine. Add fish to cornmeal mixture and toss to coat
Place seasoned fish on prepared baking sheet and lightly coat tops of fish with cooking spray. Broil until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, heat tortillas according to package directions.
To make salad, combine lettuce, radishes, scallions, tomatoes and cabbage in a medium bowl; set aside.
To make sauce, combine yogurt, lime-juice and cumin in a measuring cup.
To assemble, place a tortilla on a plate. Top with 2 to 3 pieces of fish, 1/2 cup of salad and 2 tablespoons of sauce; roll up and repeat with remaining ingredients. Yields 2 filled tortillas per serving.
The other night my husband and I were driving around downtown trying to decide where to go for a nice dinner. I really wanted to go somewhere with a cozy, romantic atmosphere. We went through our usual list of standbys and decided we really felt like trying something new. After some thought, I remembered The Jam Café, a bistro style restaurant in Cabbagetown that I dined at when it opened and had recently read some good reviews about.
As soon as we walked into the Jam Café and I noticed the pressed tin ceiling, crystal chandeliers and warm candlelight, I was sure we’d made the right choice for the evening. Since our decision to go out for dinner was last minute we were only able to get a seat at the bar, which ended up being a great dining experience. Our bartender and server Peter made our experience far above average with excellent food and wine recommendations and attentive and friendly service.
I enjoyed one of the specials, chicken stuffed with brioche, dates and pistachios accompanied with potatoes, onions and mushrooms perfectly paired with an Aconcagua Chardonnay from Argentina. My husband devoured the Steak Frites and a Spicy Caesar to drink. Both dishes were amazing and didn’t last long on our plates.
For dessert I had an amazing apple crumble paired with dessert wine from the 13th Street Winery in Niagara, the 13 Degrees Below - Riesling. My husband ordered the bread pudding, which he described as having perfect texture and taste.
Dinner for two with drinks, entrées and dessert was $125 including tip.
Jam Café also offers a $20 corkage fee if you want to bring your own wine. If you head there on a Sunday for dinner, you can save yourself the corkage fee.
I spent a lovely Saturday morning at the Evergreen Brickworks indoor Farmers’ Market this past weekend. I was on the hunt for holiday treats for my family and for myself; there was so much to choose from! I left with my favorite pickles from Toorshi Foods, a Gluten Free Butternut Squash pie for my Grandmother and a few other goodies to give as gifts this holiday season.
The Farmers’ Market, which is now open on Saturdays year round and is located indoors during the winter months, is full of great vendors. You can get everything from a massage to waffles and crepes, to fresh bread, veggies and locally raised meat. There are also vendors carrying baked goodies, fresh coffee and crafts.
While you are at the Brickworks you can enjoy a hike, yoga classes, free skating and other great events and amenities. Why, this week alone you can visit a mini Christmas Farmers’ and craft market, do yoga or take advantage of free outdoor skating.
If you can take some to head down, there’s lots of parking available in the paid lots or a shuttle bus leaving from Broadview Station, if you are riding the TTC.
Life is Good, especially when you are drinking this new label from the Creekside Estate Winery in Jordan, Ontario. Their 2007 Cabernet Merlot, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is available for $12.90 at the LCBO. Why not make life even better by picking up a bottle of this big, bold and fruity red to pair with a nice steak, a burger or some homemade pizza. I personally enjoyed this wine with friends this weekend over appetizers and conversation at a lovely holiday party.
You can feel good about your choice to purchase Life is Good, as a portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold go to Evergreen Canada, a national charity that makes cities more livable.
This week, I will also be sharing my experiences at the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer’s Market plus other great events they have going on right now.
During the recent Gourmet Food & Wine Expo I discovered my new favourite beer, Steigl from Salzburg, Austria. If you’re looking for a beverage to stock at your holiday parties this year, this may be the perfect choice for you. Made from the pure spring water of the Alps, this beer is less bitter than other North European lagers making it perfect to wash down your holiday thirst. Plus the can is red and white, just like Santa’s suit.
You can find Steigl at the LCBO for $2.35 per 500 ml can.
I have had many friends over the years try to convince that spinning at an indoor cycling gym is an AMAZING workout. However, I always thought it looked like to torture, what with all the yelling and sweating.
This week I decided to put my doubts aside and give spinning a try at Quad East in Riverside, a decision that made me nervous right until the class started. When I arrived, I was greeted by a very friendly member of their staff who seemed genuinely excited for me to be taking my first class. I was outfitted with cycling shoes, given the lay of the land and headed upstairs to change into my workout gear.
The gym is beautiful with hardwood floors, paintings created by one of the owners, funky lights and one of the nicest change rooms I have ever seen. The whole space is bright, open and an interesting mix of vintage and industrial décor.
When I came back downstairs and ventured into the spinning studio I was greeted by Micheline, one of the owners and the instructor of my class. Knowing that it was my first class, Micheline took the time to help me set up and understand how to use the bike, teach me how to clip my shoes in to the peddles, adjust my posture and explain the different positions we would use during class. I was also told to go at a pace that I felt comfortable with and not to overdo it.
Once we began, I felt pumped and ready to go. During the class I found myself getting so into the great music and Micheline’s high-energy instruction. Even when I began to feel tired, the music would hit a climax and I would find new energy to keep going. I loved that I could let go, give it my all, sing along and really get into spinning. The class was very challenging and I really had to push myself but at the end I felt great.
Once the session was over I had many of the regulars congratulate me on finishing my first class and tell me why they love spinning at Quad East. Micheline sat with me afterward to give me some feedback, see how I was feeling and encourage me to come back.
If you are looking for a cool place to get an intense workout where the time just flies by, then check out one of their three locations Quad, Quad East and Quad West.
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved the story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I have had it read to me, watched several adaptations on film and always found joy in the the messages presented in this story. So, when I was offered with the opportunity to attend the stage production at The Soulpepper Theater in The Distillery District this week, I jumped at it.
The evening started with a wander through The Distillery Christmas Market, which has turned the area into a lovely holiday wonderland. This weekend is your last chance to visit the market this year, so if you’re looking for something to get into the holiday spirit and check some shopping off your list, then head on down.
Before the play began, the private party I was a part of had the pleasure of being addressed by Albert Schultz, the Founding Artistic Director of the Soulpepper Theater. Albert did a wonderful job reminding us of the origin of A Christmas Carol, a story many of us know but don’t necessarily know how it came to be. This story was written during a time of change when Christmas traditions were being revived in England after a century of being banned and the traditions dying out. While there seem to be many factors that inspired this story: The revival of Christmas, the stories of Washington Irving, Dickens own childhood and the treatment of the poor during this time were definitely included. Did you know that if it wasn’t for Charles Dickens and the popularity of A Christmas Carol, the greeting “Merry Christmas” could have been lost forever?
Part of what made this play so wonderful for me was the curiosity about how this production would do justice to the story I hold so close to my heart. I don’t want to take that away from you, so what I will say is that the actors did a wonderful job of bringing A Christmas Carol and all of its amazing characters to life. It was not long before I found myself lost in the story.
I left the theater with that warm, fuzzy feeling that is synonymous with the holidays; a feeling that can be sometimes forgotten as we find ourselves wrapped up in the stresses of holiday planning and shopping.
I have to be honest and let you know that I haven’t really been feeling the holiday spirit this year. That was until last night when I had the pleasure of seeing A Christmas Carol at the Soulpepper Theatre in the Distillery District. I’ll be putting together a post all about the evening for your enjoyment, so don’t forget to come back this weekend to check it out. Until then, here’s a wintery holiday song for you to enjoy as we head into the weekend.
I had the pleasure of attending the Tim Burton Exhibit at the Bell Lightbox Theatre last weekend. I have to say that this show is well worth the visit. Laid out in chronological order, the exhibit begins with drawings, videos and sculptures of Vincent and Frankenweenie. This exhibit, which was organized by the Museum of Modern Art, really does what it promises and takes you inside the mind of Tim Burton.
I found that by exploring Tim Burton’s sketches, notes, letters, schoolwork (including doodles), artwork, film and sculpture that I gained better insight into how he thinks and the path he took to get where he is today.
One of my favorite pieces at the exhibit was a hand written letter from Tim to Johnny Depp about an idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I nearly gasped when I saw the Edward Scissorhands costume including one of the hands and the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman suit was so tiny! I also loved viewing drawings and sketches with Tim Burton’s personal notes.
The Surviving Burbank section of the exhibit, which was dedicated to the artwork he created while trying to escape the boredom of a life growing up in the suburbs, was one of the best parts of the show. I loved exploring the childhood mind of the artist. I got especially caught up reading a rejection letter from 1975 written by T. Jeanette Steiner an editor at Disney. The letter provided feedback on both story and illustrations for a children’s book Tim submitted called The Giant Zlig. I found myself lingering over his schoolboy doodles including a list of fifty horror movies, doodles of the names Wilt Chamberlain and Raquel Welch as well as early artwork. Even from the beginning you can see his fascination with monsters and other playful yet sinister characters.
We find Frankenweenie again at the end of the exhibit, as Tim Burton is currently remaking it as a feature length film.
Tim Burton designed a new installation specifically for the window of the Lightbox Theatre. The piece is based on a 1983 drawing for The Black Cauldron, a film that did not end up using any of Burton’s work and is really a sight to see.
I had the opportunity to try my first Hot Yoga class this week wit the folks at Bikram Yoga Toronto in The Beach. Before I started my class I sat down with one of the owners, Dana Moore to ask a few questions. Dana, who began practicing Bikram Yoga over seven years ago was drawn to the practice in a way that had her trying to leave work early to go to a class and spending most of her work day on the Bikram Yoga website. Dana stresses that, while some have the impression that this particular discipline is for diehard yogis, it is in fact a practice that is for everyone. I asked Dana how a beginner like me should approach the first class; she told me to take it slow, take breaks when needed and practice only for myself. Most newbies first need to get used to being in the hot room for ninety minutes.
While I waited for the class to begin I started to feel a bit intimidated. The other students seemed to really know their way around the studio and seemed pumped to take the class. After striking up a few conversations I realized that everyone was at a different skill level and very welcoming to a newcomer like myself.
When I walked into the practice room I was hit with a wall of heat and my nerves started to kick up. Thoughts of worry began to run through my head: What if I pass out? What if I feel sick? What if I get sick! I laid on my matt and tried to enjoy the heat and realized that for the first time in three months my feet were actually warm. I concentrated on breathing and calming myself down.
What I really liked about the class was that Dana made sure to give me direct advice and attention, which, made me feel safe. I felt like she was keeping an eye on me to make sure I was okay.
The entire class was a challenge and an internal battle with myself. At times I felt great, awful, dizzy, happy and so on… I have never sweat so much in my life; all my clothes and towels went straight into the wash when I got home. When the class was over I felt so proud that I overcame my anxiety, fatigue and self-doubt. No, I didn’t do every move and I took more breaks than anyone in the class, but I felt great afterwards and even today. I woke up almost two hours earlier than I usually do, feeling warm and ready to get out of bed.
The other owner, Damien called me the next day as they do for all first timers to see how I was feeling and encourage me to come back. The call was quick, pressure free and quite nice to get.
All new members can sign up for thirty days of yoga for $30 with Bikram Yoga Toronto! If The Beach is too far for you to travel, there is a second location on Bloor St. W. This team is fantastic, the studios are well cared for and I will definitely be back.
Voted Best Fitness Club in Toronto by BlogTO, Kingwest Fitness is wishing you a healthy holiday this season by giving away FREE 6 month memberships, every day for 20 days until December 25th. Entering to win is simple; become a fan or follower of Kingwest Fitness and post this message on Facebook or Twitter:
Healthy Holidays! @KWFitness is giving away a FREE 6 MONTH membership every day until Christmas.
Kingwest Fitness, located in the heart of Liberty Village, is not your typical gym; enjoy workouts in an expansive loft space and avoid the crowds of a big box gym. With a newly opened organic juice bar and café, private showers and sauna, full range of group classes and motivating personal trainers, Kingwest Fitness is the place to achieve your lifestyle goals. With no contracts and no cancellation fees, it’s never been easier to experience the great life at Kingwest.
The Counter, located at 51 Bathurst Street in The Thompson Hotel is a great place to satisfy your craving for comfort food. You can enjoy an all day breakfast, gourmet Mac and Cheese with pancetta and truffle oil, great sandwiches, including PB & J. Their menu is extensive and offers lots of great choices. This modern diner is a great place to meet friends for a meal and enjoy the comfortable yet trendy atmosphere.
Between my husband and I, we’ve had the chance to try the Deep South burger with pulled pork and crisp onions, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, BLT, Pastrami Rueben, Poutine, and the amazing onion rings. I think it is important to point out that we tried all these dishes over several visits. You’ll be hard pressed to find something healthy on the menu, so if that is what you are looking for go somewhere else.
The service at Counter is always friendly and fast. Dinner for two with a bottle of wine will run you about $50-$75 depending on how many courses you goes for. I doubt you’ll have room for dessert but if you do, the pecan pie is very yummy.
It has been almost three weeks since I had my AXXIUM No Chip Manicure so, I thought I would give you an update. I headed to The Ten Spot in Leslieville on my lunch break yesterday to have the manicure removed; I am happy report that after three weeks my polish was still chip-free.
After about two weeks I did start to notice my nail growth but it wasn’t obvious unless you looked closely at my hands. Another benefit to this manicure was that my nails actually grew as I was not able to bite them. The entire polish removal process took about thirty minutes and my nails were just fine after the nail hardener was applied.
I’ll be back to The Ten Spot to get a No Chip Manicure for the holidays.
I attended the Hip Urban Girl, Cookies and Champagne event this week at the Arta Gallery in the Distillery District. What a great event! From the 180 women to network with to the thousands of cookies, champagne, the Christmas Market and the fully stocked gift bags, this was such a fun night. Check out the official photos from the evening!
These fabulous ladies from HUG are always planning something, so stay tuned for details on their next event. Perhaps even the guys will be able to come to the next one.