My Christmas Wish List

Holiday season or not, I always enjoy making wish lists. I don't expect to get everything I include on mine, but the act of compiling the list is always fun. Sometimes I end up working throughout the year to buy the most coveted item for myself, other times I get things for my birthday in January. My lists usually end up being a tad excessive, but I've always been a dreamer. As long as you also make an effort to provide for those less fortunate and show thanks to your loved ones, I don't see anything wrong with hoping a few of your own wishes get granted as well. Here's what I have on my list this holiday season:

1. Saint Laurent Classic Monogram Bag

For a while I've needed a new shoulder bag. Something that will match any outfit, will work for going out at night, and also during the day is harder to find than people may think. I want something classic and timeless, but also chic and stylish. For a while I wanted to go the Chanel route, but after seeing everyone around town with black Chanel flap bags I started to change my mind. When I started to consider the YSL monogram bag, I couldn't get it out of my head. It's less common than Chanel (which also means less people carrying knockoffs) and still high fashion. They don't carry the one I've pictured below in any stores around Toronto, which will make it a little bit more unique to carry around the city. To buy it, you can order it online, or get the smaller version from Holt Renfrew. It comes in various colours, and with silver and gold hardware options. The one I've posted is the one on my list.

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5 Reasons to Re-watch The OC

Last week I figured out how to download the CW Stream app from Canada, which has every episode of The OC available to stream for free (normally you can only access it from the states). Re-watching shows I haven't seen for a while is always entertaining. I pick up on things I may have missed or forgotten about, as well as rediscover the things I originally loved about the show during my first go around. With the air growing cooler and the winds getting stronger, now is the time to bundle up at home and start a marathon of an old favourite. So far in my own marathon, here are a couple reasons I picked out as to why re-watching the show has turned out to be an excellent decision.

1. The Music

The OC was a leader when it came to the discovery of new, indie bands through TV shows. I even wrote an essay on this topic for one of my music courses while I was in university. The music moments in The OC were epic to say the least. Any avid watcher of the show can picture the exact scenes that occurred if I name significant songs, such as "Paint the Silence" by South or "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap. They helped popularize bands that previously held little mainstream recognition at the time. Come on - would anyone actually know who Death Cab for Cutie was if it weren't for Seth Cohen's alternative taste in music? 

Young Love

While browsing Facebook today I came across a Danish-Dutch photographer named Karen Rosetzsky. Upon seeing a few photographs from her first book, Young Love, I was instantly intrigued. For a while my boyfriend and I have thought about doing a photoshoot together. Rosetzsky's style captures exactly the kind of energy my boyfriend and I, as well as many couple out there, would like to see in a romantic photograph. 

Nutella Banana Muffins

A couple weeks ago there was a new addition to my neighbourhood. I turned onto my street after work, and there in the Sobey's on Fort York was a Nutella Cafe. This is probably one of the best and worst additions to happen to the area. The best thing? I now have close access to Nutella crepes almost anytime. The bad thing? I now have close access to Nitella crepes almost anytime. I already bake with Nutella every so often, so my stomach probably doesn't need even more of it. Having said that, I tried a crepe for breakfast today and it was delicious! In honour of the new Nutella Cafe I decided to share one of my favourite Nutella recipes. I shared these Nutella banana muffins with my work and everyone went crazy over them. The ones I left at home barely lasted for 48 hours in my fridge before they were all consumed. They are easy to make and a great recipe to share with friends.

My Favourite Places to Read in Toronto

Recently I've been on a scavenger hunt to find the best reading spots around Toronto. Every so often I do enjoy getting cozy at home, but sometimes the distractions around my place win over my attention. When I'm forced to step outside my apartment to find a new location to help myself focus on the reading or work I'm trying to get done, I become quite picky. If the place is busy, I want to feel comfortable. If I'm not spending a lot of money, I don't like to feel pressured to leave after I've finished my coffee or tea, especially when I have hours of work to do. I'm still convinced that there are hidden gems around the city that I have yet to discover. The following are my current favourite go-to places when I need a spot to read or work.

1. Fika Cafe
28 Kensington Ave.

My latest discovery is a small nook over on Kensington. Originally I ventured over to check out their book covered wall that I had come across online. I ended up feeling very comfortable in the back corner of the cafe and wished I had more time than I did that afternoon to stay and read. In addition to their unique coffee flavours (I tried a delicious coffee cake latte!), they also have a full menu which means you don't need to venture elsewhere to eat. From now on this is my go to spot whenever I find myself around the Market.

2. Dineen Coffee Co. 
140 Yonge St.

When I walk into Dineen I feel as though I've walked into a cafe in New York or Paris. The high ceilings and bright lighting make me feel chic and sophisticated as I settle down to read to the twenties' themed soundtrack. I wouldn't call myself anything close to a coffee connoisseur, but their vanilla latte is one of the best I've ever had. Unfortunately the seating area isn't huge, so it can be challenging at times to find a seat. The cushioned benches are far more comfortable than sitting at any communal table though, and to me they are worth the wait.

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3. Richtree Market
Toronto Eaton Centre, Lower Level

Though located in the hectic Eaton Center, I like coming to Richtree because there are so many booths and seating options available. So long as you don't mind a little bit of noise, this is actually a great place to camp out all day and work. I never feel pressured to leave once I've finished eating, or as though someone else is vying for my space. In terms of food, the options they have are almost bottomless. Chinese, pizza, sushi, vegan meals, sandwiches, baked goods - they even have a bar if you're ever so inclined to have a glass of wine while you work.

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4. The JCR at Trinity College
8 Hoskin Ave., Main Building

During my time at U of T I discovered endless study rooms. I found the JCR the most comfortable, perhaps because I belonged to Trinity, but mostly because of its relaxed atmosphere. It's never too loud, but it's rarely so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. The big, old couches and armchairs put you right at home - you could even take a power nap if you need a break. If you're looking for somewhere with a more lively environment, The Buttery is just around the corner. For an even quieter space, all you have to do is walk upstairs to one of the classrooms on the second floor. Even if you're not a student, University campuses are an excellent place to turn for a productive work environment. You don't need to buy anything, and most people won't be able to tell that you don't actually go there.

5. Dark Horse
215 Spadina Ave., 125 John St., 630 Queen St. East

A few years ago, a friend brought me to Dark Horse and I instantly felt hip amongst the young crowd. If you can't stand the hipster scene, then this may not be the right pick for you. If you want something more social and young, you'll definitely fit right in. Fans of the show 'Suits' will be excited to know that Harvey Spector made a visit to the Chinatown location on Spadina during the show's fourth season. In addition the Chinatown location, the company has two other cafes: Queen East and John Street.

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6. Pacific Junction Hotel
234 King St. East

When I was attending school at George Brown, one of my journalism teachers made it a weekly ritual to meet at Pacific Junction after class on Wednesday nights. Though I never personally went there to read or study, I always thought that the many private booths and tables would be great for reading or getting some writing done. The menus are brought in folders covered with neon duck tape, and the food is reasonably priced. If you get bored or need a study break at any time they have pool tables, ping pong, air hockey, and a decent selection of board games to keep you entertained.

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Honourable Mentions

Although I felt it too mainstream to include in my list, I wanted to mention my two favourite Starbucks locations. I have to admit, I go to Starbucks frequently - mostly due to convenience. Out of all the locations I've been to, the following two are my favourite:

Starbucks on Bedford
1 Bedford Rd.

I like this Starbucks largely due to its location. In between Yorkville and U of T, the crowd is a mix of students and mature workers. There is a long banquette as well as multiple big, soft chairs. Many friends I spoke to agree that it feels very cozy being in this Starbucks, especially during the holiday season.

Starbucks on Queen and Peter
316 Queen St. West

This Starbucks beside Lush Cosmetics makes my list solely due to the outlets located all along the long banquette at the cafe's entrance. I hate when I've settled into a perfect spot, only to realize that there is no outlet within arm's reach to charge my laptop or phone. My phone battery grows low very quickly over the course of the day, so I almost have to be near an outlet if I'm going to be somewhere for a long time. I like knowing that being able to charge my laptop or phone is never an issue here. The location is small, but this one perk makes it stand out amongst a sea of franchises around the city.

There are so many places to read and get work done around the city. Where are some of your favourites? Comment below with your answers!

With love,

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