Vineland Winery Estates with Lifeexperiences.ca

Ever find yourself running out of ideas or tangible “things” to gift to your significant other, family or friends? I’m sure we’ve all been there whether its a birthday, anniversary or other occasions that you may celebrate. I’ve definitely been there and am guilty of putting gift hunting off to the very last minute. That’s when lifeexperiences.ca comes in super handy!

Lifeexperiences.ca is Canada’s largest experiential gifting company. Experiences make great gifts and they promote the idea of togetherness and creating memories. They offer a wide range of gifting ideas from spa, adventures, food & drink, getaways, family activities, golf and lifestyle. Browsing through their website, you’ll find endless options of many possible “gift experiences” you can gift to someone. Personally, my boyfriend and I love spending our time in the Niagara on the Lake region so opting for the “Vineland Estate Winery – Winery Dining Experience for Two” was a no brainer for us!

How does it all work?

Once you’ve selected & paid for the gift via lifeexperiences.ca, you’ll receive an email shortly after with an “official certificate”. Depending on the type of experience you choose, the instructions may vary. For this particular experience at Vineland Winery Estates, we were told to:

(1) After receiving your certificate, please call the experience provider to book your reservation
(2) Identify that you are booking a LifeExperiences package and quote the number on your gift certificate
(3) Be sure to bring the certificate with you. It is your method of payment

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What does your package include?

Our particular Vineland Winery Estate package included:

(1) 4 course chef’s pairing menu for two
(2) Two glasses of Vineland Estates wine per guest
(3) Taxes (paid for time of purchase of this certificate)

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Vineland Winery Estates offers numerous selections for tours & tastings – each with a slightly different price point but are all affordable. They also offer private & private group tastings and even “girls day out” tours and even public tours that require no reservations for $15 per person! If you’re planning to stay for the evening, they also have a bed & breakfast.

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When we arrived at the Winery, we learned about their different subscription packages that are suitable for all wine lovers. From cellar master (4 bottles per month – $86) to their Connections Light Wine Club (2 bottles per month – $54), there is something suitable for everyone! Best of all, there is $0 initiation fee & $0 cancellation fee.

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The Restaurant

My boyfriend and I probably had one of our best meals ever here at restaurant! The food & service definitely lived up to the hype & recommendations from friends. The views from the restaurant is spectacular – taking in the views of the rolling vineyards. They also have a room off to the side for corporate events or even group dining!

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PEI Oyster Miso Emulsion with Apple

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Seafood Chowder, Oysters, Grilled Shrimp, Steamed Mussels, Chili Oil, Potatoes

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Chilled Lobster, Fiddle Heads, Local Asparagus, Dehydrated Ground Butter, Moreno Mushrooms

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Vension with blue cheese, spatzl and crunchy sauce

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Honey Cheesecake, Lemon Gelato, Roasted Strawberries, Toasted Meringue

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This post was done in collaboration with Lifeexperiences.ca but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

Japan: A day at Nara Park

Not sure where in Toronto you can come super close or even feed a deer with absolutely no supervision but this totally happened when we were exploring one of the million things you can do in Japan. Spending the day at Nara Park was absolutely amazing and something we’ll probably not be able to do (at least as freely) unless we come back to Japan. I highly recommend you spend a good afternoon here to explore. Even if you’re not a huge fan of deer, the grounds of this park & greenery is enough to make you want to come back.

Below, we’ve included some tips & suggestions we thought might be useful. Instead of walking, we decided to rent a bike to explore the grounds!

Special thanks to my patient boyfriend for capturing these shots of me feeding deers!

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Arriving at Nara Park from Osaka

We stayed in Osaka so we walked from Umeda Station to Osaka Station to hop on the JR. To get to Nara Park, we took advantage of our JR Pass and took the JR Osaka Loop line from Osaka Station to Nara Station.

Why we decided to rent bikes?

We decided to rent bikes for numerous reasons and the main one being that we could explore deeper into the park with less people around. If you don’t arrive early enough, everywhere you turn  is packed with tourists. If you bike further along, you can spot a lot more deer with barely anyone around. The bike rentals were fairly cheap and costed us 1600YEN for two bikes for the day. The rentals were just off to the side of the Nara JR station. I don’t normally bike EVER but for the most part the ride to Nara Park was fairly flat. There was a point where I had to get off and walk the bike up for a couple minutes since it was quite steep (around the temple). Other then that, it was totally doable. We parked our bikes against the trees when we found a secluded area with lots of deer.

Feeding the Deer 

Once you enter the park, they have a few vendors selling deer cookies for 150YEN. We bought 2 packs and lets just say the deer LOVED the cookies and the wrappers that came with it. It was actually quite a lot of fun interacting with the deer – there were for the most part quite harmless so there’s no need to be scared of them. If you decide to buy a lot of cookies at once, I would suggest you not to leave them out but rather hide them in a bag until you decide to feed them with it.

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Photography Credit: Photos of me by EY. The rest taken by yours truly!

Bar Altura: New Restaurant over on Queen West

Queen West’s latest Italian addition has definitely made quite the impression with its  beautifully plated dishes and clean & modern look. While I am normally more focused on the food, I couldn’t help but notice the aesthetics at Bar Altura’s  – which created a nice stand out & sophisticated look compared to its fellow neighbours on  Queen West.

Several weeks ago, we were invited to Bar Altura (just east of Portland) to a 4 course dinner with wine & cocktail pairing. Our evening started off with some passed canapes followed by a welcome speech from the owner.

Zuppetta Fredda ai Frutti di Mare

  • Citrus Marinated sea jewels, spicy watermelon gazpacho
  • With not many restaurants offering your every-day chilled soup as an option, Bar Altura did a really good job highlighting the flavours of the citrus jewels & seafood. Served chilled, the soup is refreshing for a hot day, citrusy and comes with a good kick

 

Cavatelli all’Ortolana

  • House made Cavatelli, Summer garden vegetable ragu, pecorino & fior di latte

La Porchetta

  • Slow roasted pork shoulder, cotechino, puffed rind, caponata, apricot & amarena agro dolce
  • This was my favourite dish of the evening – the slow roasted pork shoulder was prepared very well. The pork shoulder was tender topped with sweet flavours from the apricot and different textures to the mouth with the caponata

Camomilla e Fragola

  • Chamomille & bee pollen semifredo, extra virgin olive oil pound cake, strawberry consomme
  • I’m not your typical sweet tooth gal but this dessert and the subtle flavours of the semifredo was divine. The texture of the semifredo is similiar to a panna cotta paired with the strawberry consomme was just so perfect.

Special thanks to Bar Altura for having us. Bar Altura is closed Mondays and opened Tuesdays to Sundays from 5pm – 12am with Friday & Sunday – 1am.

This post was done in collaboration with Bar Altura but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

Saturday mornings at REDS (Square One)

As I’m sitting at my desk drafting this post, I’ve realized in a blink of an eye, come September is my 5 years working downtown Toronto. Time seriously flies. One of the restaurants that I frequent after work in the downtown core is REDS Wine Tavern inside First Canadian Place (due to its convenient location). While I can totally rave about their lobster guacamole dip all day, I was totally caught off guard to see a brunch menu & full on bakery section happening inside REDS at Square One Shopping Mall. The best thing about this REDS inside Square One Shopping mall is that they have a mini “walk through” window for shoppers looking to pick up something on the go!

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Bakery Basket ($7.00 small / $10.00 large)

  • minature quiche, scones, blueberry citrus glazed muffins
  • we opted for the small bakery basket

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E and I were blown away by their bakery basket, pancakes and avocado toast. Those scones and muffins were so good, we actually came back on a separate occasion just to purchase the basket to take home! The pancakes were just as good as their other baked goods. Their pancakes were done to perfection – soft & fluffy with a slightly crispy texture around the edges, honestly some really good pancakes I’ve had in a while.

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Three Stack Pancake ($13.00)

  • REDS traditional buttermilk recipe, chantilly cream, berries, maple syrup

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Avocado Toast ($8.50)

  • soft boiled egg, feta, chia seeds, freshly baked sourdough

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Eggs Benedict ($14.00)

  • Canadian peameal bacon, hollandaise, house baked English muffin, fried potatoes

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What else can you find at Square One Shopping Mall! 

Eva’s Original Chimneys – Eva’s serves up your traditional Hungarian chimney cake with fill ice cream and toppings! Their Chimney cakes come in sweet and savoury options. There are vegan choices for both cakes and cones

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Love Me Sweet specializes in making Japanese style cheesecake! Their cheesecakes are light, fluffy and cream cheesy!

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This post was done in collaboration with Square One Shopping Mall but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

What You Can Expect At The CNE This Year #2018

Hey friends! It’s that time of the year again where the Canadian National Exhibition opens to the public for the last 2 and half weeks before summer ends. Starting today until September 3rd, visitors will get to experience all new and diverse programming than ever before. In celebration of the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism, the CNE will “come to light” with an amazing indoor lantern festival! There will also be an outdoor TELUS Asian Market on Princes’ Blvd turning the street into a bustling and lively marketplace.

Of course everyone’s favourite classics are back – Aerial Acrobatics & Ice Skating how, President’s Choice SuperDogs show (Celebrating its 40th anniversary), Bandshell Concert Series, 69th Annual Canadian International Air Show and a whole lot more!

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The CNE will “come to light” this year with a spectacular indoor lantern festival. Located in the Enercare Centre, these 17 illuminated sculpture installations create a kaleidoscope of colour, themed around legends and myths associated with the ancient Silk Road. These lanterns are created by 90 artists using 4000 meters of synthetic silk, 55 metres of steel, and arrived in 8 shipping containers that traveled more than 12,000 km from China to Toronto.

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GOLDEN YEAR AT 2018 CNE

Over the years, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) has become renowned for its line up of tasty, gastronomic concoctions. The food offering is a varied mix of international cuisine and traditional fair favourites with more than 100 eateries complimented by more than 60 concessionaires throughout the grounds. The opening weekend kicks off with East Coast Kitchen Party returning on Aug 18-19 for its 2nd year in a row for some delicious East Coast cuisine, caesar competition, oyster shucking and more! The popular food truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest returns to CNE from Aug 24-26 with a wide variety of tasty treats. Completely new this year, on the final weekend of the CNE, as I mentioned earlier, there will be the Telus Asian Market on Princes’ Blvd with artisans, entertainment and authentic fusion street food – August 30th – September 3rd

Thrill in Manil & BiPoppa – Yatai by Liberty Noodle
(Location: Food Building)

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Nashville Hot Sandwich – Tokyo Hot X Nashville Hot Fried Chicken
(Location: Food Building)

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Gold Ice Cream – Eative
A vanilla ice cream cone topped with a 24K edible gold leaf
(Location: Food Building)

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Donut Poutine – Tim Horton’s
(Location: Food Building)

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Garlic Bread Burger – Bubs Bad@ss Burgers
(Location: Food Building)

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The Juicy Crab – Hotbunzz Street Cuisine
Fresh baked brioche style bun stuffed with: Shanghai Crab Soup Dumpling (Xiao Long Bao), East Coast Lobster with Brown Butter, Thai Shrimp, Whitefish, Atlantic Smoked Salmon, Smoked Aged Cheddar, Braised Short Ribs
(Location: Food Building)

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Buffalo Cauliflower – Mr. Vegetable
(Location: Midway)

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The Cold Pocket – Sweet Jesus
A toasted sweet bun billed with Sweet Jesus ice cream creations with extra toppings and served in a burger bag
(Location: Food Building)

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The Big Pickle Tornado – Coco’s Concessions
(Location: Midway)

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Hong Kong Style French “Toast” Curds
Deep fried cheese curds topped with peanut butter, condensed milk and a chunk of butter
(Location: Midway) 

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Fettucine al Bowlo – Eat my Bowls
(Locations: Food Building)

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The Golden Burger – Bacon Nation
A burger fit for a king! This mega-sized burger is piled high on a 5oz patty with maple bacon, peameal bacon, Canadian cheddar, onion rings, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo all in an edible gold bun
(Location: Food Building & Midway)

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SanFran Friar Fritter – Sanfrancesco Sandwiches
A veal and porchetta sandwich topped with a jalapeno popper, dressed with sandwich toppings and SanFran’s signature sauce, jalapeno peppers and coleslaw on a sweetened bread
(Location: Food Building)

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Concha with Ice Cream – Pancho’s Bakery
(Location: Midway)

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Rainbow KitKat Crepe – The Royal Crepe
(Location: Midway)

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Blue Jays Nest – Cake Shack
(Location: Food Building)

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Special thanks to Sandi for having me!

My Top Go-To Weekend Restaurants in Toronto

I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog where I share with everyone my top picks of restaurants or activities in Toronto for those that may not be living in the city. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I want to share with everyone my top 5 go-to restaurants I crave for most weekend mornings for the past year (in no particular order):

1. The Green Wood

If you’re ever in the Leslieville area and want a simple and hearty brunch – this is your spot. We discovered The Green Wood at the end of last year and we’ve been loyal customers ever since. This cashless restaurant produces some of the freshest burgers and piping hot shashukas. All our visits have been very consistent in terms of food and service. They can get quite busy at peak hours so remember to make a reservation before heading out! Luckily enough for us, we’ve either visited them super early and super late and didn’t mind grabbing a spot for 2 at their bar.

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2. Konjiki Ramen

E and I decided to finally brave the line of this Bib Gourmand restaurant at the beginning of the year. Since then, we’ve been frequent visitors (on a weekly basis to be exact) at Konjiki Ramen. The key is to arrive 10 minutes before the restaurant opens on the weekend or just come at odd times during the week. In fact, on weeknights, we’ve even arrived just before 6pm and only waited 5 minutes for a 2 person table.

Konjiki Ramen is known for their signature clam broth ramen – so don’t leave without trying their shio (mild) or shoyu (intense) ramens. We’ve tried a different bowl of ramen at every visit and our verdict is still their shio (mild) ramen. To top off your experience, remember to add an egg and extra pork belly to your deliciously truffle oiled bowl of ramen!

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3. Shiso Tree Cafe (has now opened again!)

Located in J-Town, Shiso Tree Cafe serves up your not-so-traditional Italian pasta with Japanese inspired influences. I recommend visiting during lunch service because they offer lunch sets where you can add a soup and Japanese cake (from Nakamaura Bakery) for a few more dollars. They used to offer this as well for dinner service but they stopped offering the sets and also changed their pasta options when they changed their menus in December 2017.

When you visit at lunch service, Shiso offers a wide range of delicious Japanese pasta such as this Unagi Don pasta and  my favourite Shrimp Okonomiyaki pasta. For those that want something more traditional, they also offer staples such as  carbonara and napolitan pastas. And if you want more than pastas, they also offer delicious curry chicken katsu rice, udons, sandwiches and salads!

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4. White Lily Diner

White Lily Diner serves up THE best patty melts and bacon maple syrup pancakes in my opinion. It’s pretty much the only thing we order here. Their patty melts consist of 6oz beef, American cheese sauce, Poblano relish – its really a must try! The best time to visit White Lily Diner is unfortunately right at it opens. The restaurant isn’t too big so it does fill up quite quickly and you’ll end up waiting for a bit but its totally worth it 🙂

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5. Joey’s Restaurant

When I’ve been lacking greens the entire week, I actually look forward to Saturday mornings to indulge in Joey’s infamous Yellowfin Tuna Salad. Besides the fact that the salad looks like a piece of artwork itself, the salad is actually quite the refreshing and crisp dish that is much needed on days that I want to be healthier. For me, its the small touches like the cilantro ginger dressing with a sprinkle of peanuts that heightens the salad (coming from someone that rarely opts for salad at a restaurant).

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Please let me know in the comments where your favourite weekend lunch spots are! Cheers & hope everyone has a great long weekend 🙂


 

My evening self care routine

How many of you feel like there’s never enough time in a day to finish all the items on your never ending to do list? How many of you cram as many things as you can as soon as you can from the second you get off work right until you turn off the lights for bed? I am guilty of all these things. I don’t like to waste time and try to be as productive and efficient as I can be. I sat down last week and asked myself if I was truly happy with everything that I was juggling and trying to balance. For the most part – I am still floating but there is definitely room to improve the quality of time for myself. As happy as I am to slowly cross off items from my to-do list, I remind myself that the work I need to do will always be there and it’s more important to take the time out of my day to take care of myself.

What does this all mean?

So a couple of weeks ago, I developed an evening self care routine that has been working really well for me.  Although this might work differently with everyone, the routine alleviated a lot of stress and anxiety that I was unknowingly building up. Over the past few weeks, I could tell that my moods in the morning were slowly improving and I wasn’t constantly worrying about every little thing. Here is what I did:

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(1) READ A BOOK or WRITE IT DOWN

I started off by picking up a book to read before bed which has worked really well to help me wind down. For those that have trouble sleeping in the evening, picking up a book might even speed up the process! On the days where I have a lot on my mind or had a stressful day at work, I like to write it all down in my bullet journal and jot down things that have occurred that day or even compose a “to do” list for the upcoming days or weeks ahead. Sometimes I like to write down random quotes or things that I come across that inspire me to have a better attitude towards everyday life. This method removes my anxiety and is definitely a calming mechanism.

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(2) PLAY SOME RELAXING MUSIC

Listening to relaxing music at the end of a long day takes a lot off my mind. I have several “go to” apps that I use to help me wind down. Relax Lite, Relax Meditation and Relax Melodies all work great! Alternatively, I also search something up on Spotify or Youtube when I want something different. You have no idea how many 3 hour videos there are of just water sounds and spa music. I also find the breathing exercises on Youtube quite helpful as well. There are some breathing exercise videos that are as short as 10 mins – sometimes I end up falling asleep to these!

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(3) TURN ON MY AUKEY

I’ve started using oil diffusers a couple of years back to alleviate really bad coughs. When I’m not using it for coughs, I like to put a couple of drops of my stress release essential oil into my Aukey Ultrasonic Diffuser. The essential oil works like magic and soothes the feeling of mild anxiety and nervousness. I usually set it for several hours and it will turn itself off. The Aukey Ultrasonic Diffuser contains these features:

  • Ensures the integrity of the essential oil molecular structure and allows for healthy bodily absorption
  • Ultrasonic water – oxygen diffusing produces healthy anions
  • 7 colour changing LED provides light therapy
  • Combines the benefits of aroma-therapy, aqua therapy and light therapy
  • Unit may also be used as a non-aromatherapy humidifier

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(4) CUP OF WATER

People say to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. I always leave a glass of water be my bed side table so I have a glass right before bed and another glass as soon as I wake up.

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(5) AMORE PACIFIC

Skincare is very important to me especially growing up with a bad case of acne. After testing through endless amounts of brands, I finally found what works best for me. I’ve been using Amore Pacific for 3 years now and it does the magic for me and leaves my skin very  silky and moisturized. Although, its quite on the pricey side, I feel like I can justify with myself to buy a brand that works well with me.

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Hope you guys enjoyed reading through my evening self care routine. Please let me know in the comments what you guys do to take care of yourselves!

The Aukey ultrasonic diffuser was complimentary but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

Eating our way through Dotonburi

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I was able to cross off many things on my bucket list during this trip to Japan and one of the items was eating my heart out at Dotonburi in Osaka, Japan. E and I spent a good afternoon here eating and wandering in and out of the streets until our tummies couldn’t handle it anymore! Dotonburi is a very popular tourist area in Osaka serving a wide array of different foods. They have endless food stalls, restaurants, trendy shopping stores where you can find many international brands – which are all situated along the Dotonburi canal.

Dotonburi is opened all day and night so if you want to beat the crowds, the best time to come is in the mornings or early afternoons. Evenings is their peak time. However, I did notice that many of the fast food vendors are very efficient regardless the time of the day so even if you see a line at a vendor, you’re not necessarily waiting for a very long time unless you’re in line waiting to dine inside a restaurant. We visited Dotonburi once in the afternoon for lunch and once in the evening to soak in the night life. This area is extremely lively in the evenings.

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Dotonburi is packed with delicious eateries and I’ve included photos of the best nibbles I had during my visit. I forgot the name of the dumplings shop but its hard to miss it because there is a gigantic dumpling sign above the shop.

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Following along the same street as the dumpling shop, you’ll find one of my favourite beef vendors selling some darn good short ribs. We came back to Dotonburi a separate time during the same trip just for this.

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Besides food, you’ll find a lot of souvenir shops and a shopping street in the same area. Without realizing it, we somehow spent a lot of time at Don Quijote wandering up and down the aisles of souvenirs at a discount price! This is my one stop shop to buy all my souvenirs for friends and family. You can find everything here. I’ve been to a few Don Quijote locations between Osaka and Tokyo and they all have many many floors. There are numerous Don Quijote locations across Japan.

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Creo-Ru is known for their takoyaki and okonomyaki. They have a food stall outside their shop and restaurant in the level above. We chose to dine in and ordered a bunch of other items to try via their iPad menu.

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Last but not least, we did not know what they hype was about until we decided to follow others into a long line to try one of these popular melon pans from a truck. These were hot and delicious! I would best describe them as a combination of a Chinese pineapple bun mixed with a Chinese coconut bun. I opted for a regular melon pan for my first try. You can add different flavours of ice creams to your melon pan and make it into a sandwcih if you fancy. The best melon pans in my opinion are from Asakusa but these are still good if you just want to try!

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Hope you enjoyed my post and let me know in the comments what your favourite food stalls are in Dotonburi! Stay tuned for the many many Japan posts that are coming soon!

Its on at Ontario Place!

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I can’t remember the last time I’ve visited Ontario Place but its definitely been over 15 years! The fondest memory I have of Ontario Place is visiting the park during Chinese New Year with all my cousins when we were very little – running around the entire park with our moms were chasing after us! I remember how fascinated we all were with the lantern displays along the water and how festive the entire park looked.

Fast forward 15 years – a whole lot has changed and lucky for us, we were able to experience the summer 2018 attractions during a visit at the park last week. This is what we got up to:

– Visiting the Cinesphere IMAX
– Outdoor Skating
– Beach Volleyball
– Music in Trillium Park

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CINESPHERE

Currently playing at the Cinesphere IMAX are The Trolley, Under the Sea and Aircraft Carrier. With that being said, the programs at the Cinesphere will vary throughout the summer with a variety of educational and immersive documentaries. I am bringing E back with me later this summer to watch a documentary with me or two because the theatre is not like any theatre I’ve seen before (the set up of the theatre is a lot more steeper bringing the films more to life!) and its inexpensive for a date night!

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OUTDOOR SKATING

I choose being in the heat over the cold any day so I was sold as soon as I saw outdoor skating on the itinerary. The skating rink at Ontario Park is Toronto’s only public outdoor summer skating rink with an amazing view of the water in its new location on the Helipad. If you’re like me and don’t own a pair of skates – rentals and sharpening facilities are available for a small cost.

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BEACH VOLLEYBALL

E is obsessed with anything that has to do with volleyball so lucky for him, he can play his heart out this summer at Echo Beach. There are four full-sized courts. You can bring your own volleyball or rent one onsite.

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FOOD BEVERAGE

Four snack bars are available at Ontario Place this year. Located along the waterfront trail, there are Fork in the Road and The Vista Eatery (LLBO). The Cinesphere snack bar is located in the lobby of the Cinesphere and the new General Store is located between Echo Beach and the Pavilion. All snack bars offer a variety of light snacks and beverages.

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MUSIC IN TRILLIUM PARK

SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN TRILLUM PARK: I love to dance so dancing the afternoon way is totally up my street. The music will keep the entire family entertained with diverse musical performances. Indigenous DJs to Azerbaijani dance, traditional Japanese drumming, Franco – Ontario sounds and more. This is available every Sunday afternoon afternoon from June – August from 1-6pm.

THURSDAY NIGHTS IN TRILLIUM PARK: Every Thursday from 6-11pm, Trillium Park will feature emerging artists from Toronto’s multi-cultural music communities including genres such as Indie Rock, Alternative Folk, Hip Hop, Afro-Cuban Jazz and a whole lot more!

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OTHER ACTIVITIES at Ontario Place this summer includes Ping Pong, Table Chess, Life Size Chess and Imagination Playground where children of all ages can create their own play space with uniquely shaped foam blocks. This is a free activity for children!

The best thing about Ontario Place is that you can roam around the park for free! Whether you’re someone that loves activities under the sun (or not) – there is always something for everyone! Please let me know in the comments what you look forward to doing at Ontario Place!

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This tour was complimentary but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

Patio Season at Kaka All You Can Eat (Downtown)

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Photo by Janey @foodrealm

I swear it was still flippin’ chilly in Toronto not too long ago and here we are now celebrating the spring weather at Kaka All You Can Eat’s Patio. A few days ago, we had the pleasure of spending our evening enjoying Kaka’s new patio located in the heart of downtown Toronto with some exclusive tapas and drink menu only available to patio customers.

We sampled a galore of different specialty items which included Kaka’s Premium Seasonal Platter and their premium bluefin tuna sushi – which is only available at their downtown location that comes with no additional cost!  We also sampled their aburi oshi sushi set, beef tataki, fish tacos and last but not least – Kaka’s Sangria Cocktail – that is presented in a smokey fashion!

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Photo by Janey @foodrealm

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Photo by Janey @foodrealm

Of course with me being a huge sushi fan, I took the liberty to share with you some of my staples here at Kaka All You Can Eat.  One of my favourites include Chef Frank Special – a maki with salmon, Hokkaido scallop, fake crab meat salad, avocado and spicy mayo with unagi sauce. Kaka All You Can Eat also is also known for serving blow-torched sushi & blow-torched pressed sushi – so we definitely ordered those as well!

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Kaka All You Can Eat – Downtown location is at 655 Bay Street with a price of $34.99 for weekday dinners and weekend all day.

This meal was complimentary but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

11 things to consider when changing domain names

Changing domain names can be extremely overwhelming especially when all the technical jargon is so difficult to understand. I’ll admit that when I was first doing research to change the domain name on my blog, I found myself reading and re-reading articles multiple times and getting nowhere. We composed a list of things to consider along with some tips that we think might be helpful for anyone considering to change domain names.

BACKGROUND

Throughout my 7 years of blogging, I’ve only ever used WordPress. In the very early days, I did try Blogspot but ultimately decided WordPress was more suitable for my needs. Shortly after I started, I purchased my domain from WordPress which dropped the “wordpress” in “foodinthecitytoronto.wordpress.com” to give my site a more professional appearance.  Several years later, in 2016, I decided overhaul the overall look of my blog and purchased a theme with pipdig which involved making some technical changes. In order to use the pipdig theme, I changed my domain from .com to .or and switched from hosting on WordPress to Site ground,  a web hosting service that I am still using today.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CHANGING DOMAIN NAME

(1) Register your new domain name

You can do this with most web hosting services and also on WordPress. Keep in mind that depending on where you register your new domain name, there may be a period of time where you cannot switch web hosts (ie. on Siteground you may not switch web hosting services for 60 days after purchase)

(2) Backing up your site

Before you start making any changes to your site, it is important to take a full back up of your site! There are WordPress plugins and other solutions out there at your disposal to create a site back up. We currently use UpdraftPlus for creating regular backups and also to back up before the domain name change.

(3) Notifying your Web Host

It’s always a good idea to contact your web hosting service provider. Once you have made a plan for changing your domain name, run it by your web host. Make sure they check out your specific site and give you the go ahead before proceeding further. They may be aware of something on the back end that you are not.

(4) Redirecting links (+short links)

You will need to forward all of the links from your old domain to your new domain. This is so that when a reader tries to reach one of your existing pages or blog posts at the old domain, they will automatically be redirected to your new domain. I also had a lot of short links embedded in my website that  are re-directed to other sections of my blog under the new domain name. For example, www.foodinthecitytoronto.com/category/travel will automatically load the page www.gracelisamay.com/category/travel

(5) SEO and Google Analytics

If you have any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) applied to your old domain, you will need to transfer these over to your new domain in order to preserve the SEO that you have worked so hard for! For example, if you use Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools on your website, you will need to notify them of your move by submitting a change of address.

(6) Pipdig and paid themes

If you have a paid theme from Pipdig or another service, be sure to let them know about your domain name change. They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful and also have a paid service to help you with the transition.

(7) Miscellaneous $$$

Depending on how you choose to manage your websites, you may have both additional one time costs and on-going charges. For example, you may incur costs for mandatory upgrade of your package with your web host, purchase of your new domain, maintenance fees on the new domain, annual privacy protection and pipdig fees.

THINGS TO DO AFTER DOMAIN NAME CHANGE

(8) Notify your contact list 

Notify PR companies, brands and other fellow bloggers that you’re collaborating with & readers about the name change and where + how they can find you going forward.

(9) Social Media Handles

Before you purchase your new domain name, ensure all the handles for the new name are available across all platforms (should you want the name to be consistent). I recommend keeping all the old handles as well to re-direct the traffic to the new handles.

(10) Email Address

In my case, I had to change my email from grace@foodinthecitytoronto.com to grace@gracelisamay.com. (no fees involved, emails are not forwarded). grace@foodinthecitytoronto.com became an invalid email address. I also registered gracelisamay@gmail.com because having an additional gmail account never hurts!

(11) Final Updates

Last but not least, update the minor touches to the blog which includes: your blog post signatures & watermarks on photographs (if any).

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Hope this post gives you a better insight of things to consider when changing domain names. I know it can be daunting at first so just take it at your own pace!

Thanks for reading guys 🙂

Contributor: EY & I

Going Organic for our first Barbecue of the year

For the past few weeks, I’ve been anxiously waiting for the cold to go away so that I can switch up my winter closet for my spring, hit up as many roof top patios as I can, stroll along the sunny waterfront whilst getting tanned (if getting tanned for me is actually possible), happily window shop along Queen West – the list goes on. There’s been so many exciting items planned for the warmer weather that when it was warmer for 3 consecutive days in a row last week, E and I decided it was time to start up the good old barbecue because let’s be real – it’s not officially spring unless you kick it off with a huge feast 🙂

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As many you may know, E & I have really been trying to use a better selection of produces when we cook at home. While this may not always be the case when we dine out to eat, we do try to carefully slot it into our daily meal plans whenever possible. We decided to use organic ingredients for our first barbecue of the season from Whispering Meadows.

4C85587B-BFD3-4A46-98A1-00EB9B290D82Whispering Meadows is a local farm serving Southern Ontario with the highest quality of premium meats. They raise their animals in an environment that is:

  • free-range
  • stress free
  • zero antibiotics or synthetic hormones
  • using organic growing methods
  • with certified organic & non-GMO feeds wherever possible

The best part about Whispering Meadows is that they can conveniently deliver your selection of meats right to your door step and you don’t even need to be at home to meet the delivery!

8D9889A8-AE1D-4048-9F50-9AE7830DFD50Our first barbecue of the season kicked off in full force using the following meats:

  • T-Bone Steak
  • Spare Ribs
  • Butt Chops
  • Bacon
  • Beef Cubes (For Stew or Kabobs)
  • Chicken Wings
  • Hamburger
  • Rump Roast
  • Strip Loin Steak
  • Sirloin Tip Steak

We decided to do a comparison of the organic meats from Whispering Meadows to items purchased from a local grocery store. Especially with the chicken wings, we could really taste the difference in freshness & juiciness in the organic wings then the store bought wings.

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This was a sponsored post but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.