Miami Weekend

Yesterday I just landed back in my hometown from a four day girls trip to Miami, Florida. I went with four of my close girlfriends to visit another girlfriend of ours who is currently living in Miami, studying at Keiser College and basically living the dream.

Let’s flashback to Thursday morning, when I got up at the early hours of 4:30 am to catch my 5:45 flight to Montreal. I met my friends and we got to our connection flight which brought us to MIA at 11:45. My first thought in this airport was, if course, my omen: coffee. I went to order a venti mild roast and was surprised to notice the baristas were barely able to speak English, yet alone understand what I was asking for when I mentioned I would like a splash of soy milk with my coffee. We had a similar issue when speaking with the Uber driver who would drive us to Sabrina’s home; he could barely speak English. The demographic in Miami, I learned, is a majority of Spanish and Latinos and the most commonly spoken language is Spanish. Thankfully my one friend studied Spanish and was able to translate some basic terms and sentences for us.

When we arrived to Sabrina’s condo, we were blown away with th complex. She rents a two bedroom condo which is fully equipped with an outdoor pool, jacuzzi hot tub, gym, study room and theatre entertainment room. Her own apartment is on the ground floor and is decorated in the typical Sabrina style of Parisian m-Audrey-Hepburn chic. We spent the first day by the pool and made sangria. That night we went out to LIV nightclub in Miami and got bottle service which did not disappoint.


The second day we decided to spend on the beach and walk around downtown Miami before going to our favorite American restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory. The beach was so nice and the sun did its job in keeping us happy, warm and tan. That evening we went out to Story night club where DJ Alesso was the guest. The music was wild and the drinks were cold – but most of all, we had a blast. The club is upscale and clean, with a photobooth linked to Instagram to post your crew instantly. Love the venue and would definitely rate it 9/10.
Continue reading “Miami Weekend”

Trip Planning 101

August. Now it’s that time of year when the travel bugs bite and you itch to have an escape. Planning a trip isn’t easy for first time travellers. As an avid traveller, I have learned my own lessons about how to travel light, smart and budget friendly. Below are some highlights and tips I stand by when planning a getaway.

  1. Unless it’s an All-Inclusive resort down south, plan everything on your own and avoid packages. Like I said, this excludes down south getaways such as Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba etc. This is mostly for the ones looking to travel to Europe or Asia. Planning all transportation, tours, and accommodations separately will save you at least half the cost.
  2. Book your flights on Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s. These days are recorded to be when airline companies tend to budget their prices and offer lower costs.
  3. Read reviews extensively. Honestly I cannot repeat myself enough. People review their accommodation services for a reason. Now, keep in mind, most reviews tend to be either super negative or super positive (after all, if the place was mediocre at best, why should they post a review? The interest isn’t there). Consider all reviews and prepare for whichever accommodation you chose by warning your fellow travel buddies and yourself. For example, if recent reviews list the hotel as providing no water, get water bottles before checking in.
  4. Try to have an itinerary and planned schedule prior to take off. I say this because no one wants to be in the middle of Rome with their travel crew debating on which tour to embark on next. A clear itinerary will not only let you schedule and prepare for the day, but will avoid any group conflict or argument. (Hint: if you look up websites such as Contiki Tours or ET Tours, you can try to copy some of their own schedules as they tend to be most time efficient).
  5. Look up free or discounted excursions. Most big bustling cities will hold daily Free tours which are lead by students. At the end of these free walking city tours the tour guide(s) will ask for monetary donations up to your discretion. The tours I have done (including Dublin, Budapest, Paris and Rome) were fantastic and generally so good that tourists pay quite a bit – still less than the regular city tour rates, however.
  6. Keep a travel diary and document your days. This is more for the memories and purpose of documenting your adventure which you will be able to reread in years from now. This is a great idea along with taking lots of photos. We are, nevertheless, always remembering our good times and best memories – so why not write them down for safekeeping?
  7. Get in touch with the locals. This includes their culture, their language and their cuisine. When you’re in Paris for example, you’d definitely want to try a freshly baked baguette or devour a morning croissant. The local foods always have a certain je ne sais quoi, after all.
  8. Carry extra change and remember that most bathrooms are not free for all in most countries. This is especially important for European cities in which cafes and restaurants will not allow non-customers to use the bathrooms without a monetary donation or purchase.
  9. Keep your belongings close to yourself and in constant view. It is not uncommon for pick-pocketers to reach into purses, backpacks or even – literally – pockets. You may have a relaxed behaviour of hanging your purse or belongings on the back of your chair in a small cafe; yet this is a risk you are willing to take. It is very common for these thrives to reach and grab your valuables before the blink of an eye. Tip: keep your passport in a safe, and money in a fanny pack or something directly in front of you. Most pick-pockets have a trick to distract a group while they preform their dirty tasks. Do not fall victim to this.
  10. Keep a written note of your hotel, hostel or other accommodation along with emergency contact info and extra change. In the world of cellphones, we are vulnerable to the horror of “Low Battery” or even worse – running out of battery. In this situation you want to be sure that the cellphone isn’t the only method of safekeeping your hotel location or emergency contact info.
  11. Remember to keep an open mind. No matter what part of the world you tend to visit, every single city has its own unique personality, culture and atmosphere. The bustling streets of New York City are totally different than the nearby neighbourhoods of New Jersey. That said, crossing borders regardless of distance will always open a new adventure and experience. Keeping an open mind and going with the flow will allow you to better appreciate the diversity our grand world has to offer us with.

Overall, travelling should be fun! Do not over stress and take things slow. Planning can take a week or a few months but after it all, the memories will be worth it. These tips are my own opinion and perhaps each traveller will have a different approach. However you want to take on your next trip, just remember to have fun and live in the moment. You only live once!

Guide to Outdoor Music Festivals 

It’s summertime. The sun is shining, the weather is warm and the beer is cold. What else is better than going to an outdoor music festival with your best pals and enjoying endless waves of good music and positive vibes? 

This year I’ll be going to Montreal’s annual Osheaga music festival. The three day festival happens every year and takes place over the Civic Holiday long weekend. This is not my first rodeo, and over the past few years I have been able to gather some helpful tips and advice on anyone who plans to attend an outdoor music fest. Let me begin this by saying: you’re going to have an amazing time. 

  1. Pack comfortable shoes. Preferably ones that have been worn for years and are almost ripping apart at the seams. Why? Because even if you front the money for a new pair of Toms for the event, you will leave with torn up and ever-so-dirty shoes. You are basically standing in sand or mud all day, and this does remarkable damage. 
  2. Wear light, airy clothing that you don’t mind getting spilled on. Again, you’ll be surrounded by thousands of people carrying beers, red bulls, slushies and whatever other concoctions they consider refreshing beverages these days. I can’t count the number of time I have gotten some form of liquid spilled on me. *sidenote: don’t be that one person who flips out on whoever spilled his/her drink on you. Chances are, that individual was bumped into by person B, who got pushed by person A, on which Stacy tripped over. Things happen. Take it with a grain of salt. Smile, and move on. 
  3. Use sunscreen. Seriously. Even as a Mediterranean girl who was raised on walnut oil as self tanner in plus forty degree weather, lather up. Nothing ruins your weekend like a really bad sunburn. Standing in the sun for over 5 hours a day can do extensive damage. Take it from my boyfriend. 
  4. Stay hydrated – H2O is your best pal! No matter what your drinking, you should always have water in the other hand. Beer, vodka sodas or monster drinks will not keep your body hydrated like water will. Most music festivals are equipped with water stations that are generally located throughout the park. 
  5. Carry some hand sanitizer and extra toilet paper. Yup, that’s right. There are only ports potties at these things. That said, these blue plastic huts seem to magically dispose themselves of all toilet paper and hand sanitizer (don’t even try the sink stations – no luck) by mid-afternoon. 
  6. Have a meeting spot and always have at least one partner in crime. At most music festivals, there are several artists playing at different stages at a given time. That said, groups get divided up easily based on the music schedule. Always make sure to stick with at least one buddy and have a general meeting place in agreement with your pals on where to find each other at the end of a show or at the end of the day. Believe me – these crowds are not easy to venture through alone. Also note that most cell phones will not be in service due to the massive crowds of people – texts and iMessages get delayed or simply not sent. 
  7. Make a list of the shows you want to see and have a map of the festival grounds handy. No one wants to miss out on their favorite band playing a music festival because they couldn’t find the correct stage or kept making circles around the festival seeking help. This is why it is highly suggested to get yourself a map of the festival, along with a schedule of the shows you won’t want to miss. Make this ahead of time and you’ll be golden. 
  8. Picky eaters: beware. Music festivals do not have much food options. If you’re a picky eater or have allergies/dietary restrictions or specific needs, make sure to bring your own snacks or forever hold your peace. Why? Because most festivals have “fan food staples” such as French fries, pizzas and hot dogs. Not much else. Hey – at least all these foods have cute emojis to accompany your snapchats if you prefer to take this route. 
  9. Lastly, have fun! Let loose – dance and sing your little big heart away. Who knows when you’ll be able to see Lana Del Ray belt out those heart wrenching lyrics again? And don’t be shy to dance, jump or sway in the crowd. 

The power of relaxation. 

We all have our battles and stressors in life. Some of us, or arguably most of today’s population, find our day to day lives rather busy, hectic and stressful. The daily interactions, decisions and roles we have to play are critical in building our character but also can cause a great deal of stress on our bodies and leave us in a chaotic state in which we may find relaxation a difficult concept to attain. 


This post is about the importance of finding that “zen” space in which we can be ourselves and be at peace – even if at least for a short period of time. 

Each individual has their own concept of relaxation. For some, this may be escaping into the wilderness, attending a yoga class, watching a movie or simply gazing out the window into the scenery outside. Every individual must be able to have their own space and hideaway in which they can daydream and enjoy the one-ness of themselves. It is in this state that we can reach out to our deepest emotions and relax our minds. 

This brings me to my next point: what is your zen? What, or where, is that one place or action that truly allows you to calm down and escape that everyday hustle and bustle? You must be confident in asking yourself this question as it is a requirement in fulfilling your meditiative state. Some ways to find your zen is by asking yourself (remember to be as honest as you can) what you wish you had more time for in your everyday life? A goal, a desire or simply a hobby which you find yourself constantly postponing due to the vast responsibilities of everyday life. Some examples of these could be: 

  • Enjoying the sunshine and outdoors by going on a hike, or simply a walk around the neighbourhood. 
  • Reading and escaping into an enchanted novel.
  • Painting or pencil colouring (see this link for some great colouring books). 
  • Attending a yoga or other type of fitness class. 
  • Learning a new craft, such as knitting or crocheting. 
  • Cooking or baking a recipe. 

All of these things are able to allow us to enjoy our time and forget all of our woes and worries. Most of these things you can do from your own home, or within your neighbourhood.

Getting in some quality “my time” is essential because, by doing so, we put our best interests and needs first and attend to our own mental health. One may not notice, but by allowing yourself some time to complete the hobbies and activities you aspire to, you are actually feeding your mental health with positive notions and are able to relax.

The idea of completing a fitness class, for instance, may help someone feel as though they did something beneficial for their own health, which would reinforce positive emotions. These positive vibes will then be able to be transferred into daily roles and activities as this individual gains more confidence overall. It is the cycle of these positive vibes that we are able to generate a healthier, happier self. We all just need to take the time to relax and listen to ourselves once in a while. 

I recommend at least 3 hours of relaxation a week. Make it a priority. Schedule an hour every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Work around your schedule to benefit yourself – it will pay off! Happy relaxing. 

Appreciating changes. 


Change. It’s a vital part of life and more often than not, it’s unavoidable. Yet; it is a very important part of our health for both body and mind. Today I am writing about change because it really hits home for me this week. Yesterday I began my new job (a semi permanent six month assignment) in a different group within my department. This may not seem like such a drastic change to some, but believe me – it is. This brings me to my topic of change and why I think it’s a very important and healthy part of life and our life milestones. 

When we get stuck in a constant routine of doing our day to day jobs and duties, we tend to build ourselves a basic plan and idea of how to do this. However, a change brings with itself a new routine and a new mindset – a challenge. This challenge, whether it is a change in a role, a change in a route in our commute, or simply a change in hairstyle, we take a breathe of fresh air and challenge ourselves and our brains to inherit the changes made. 

I can’t help but to use the concept of seasons changing, as it is something we Canadians are faced with every couple of months. The summer heat brings a change in temperature but also outdoor activities. We have to customize our wardrobes and schedules, perhaps even our morning routines, as we swamp winter or rain boots for summer flip flops or ballet flats. This process requires the seasonal “purge” of winter wardrobes and attire that help us cleanse our closets (and seasonal affective disorders) of the winter blahs. It is this that brings us a fresh outlook, cleaner view and refreshing mindset. 

Such was my transition into my new job. No, it may not be permanent (although I do hope it does become so), but it helped me cleanse my office and purge all that crap that has been piling up and out of my cubicle drawers. This cleaning gave me such high satisfaction and overall relief – finally I can start new and fresh, with a clean slate (or office notebook to be literal).

The Guide to Downtown Living

Almost one year ago, I moved out on my own into a one bedroom condo apartment that I purchased for the intention of it being an investment property. However, I want to enjoy it for myself and therefore I moved out of my parents three story suburbanite home and moved out on my own. Over the past several months, I have learned some lessons and gained some experience in the downtown life. Here are some tips and useful concepts if you are considering making the big move:


  1. Try to avoid owning a car. Seriously. No one wants to deal with trying to find parking downtown or ever, in general. Most condo building charge an extra rate for parking maintainence. In my building, the condo fee for a parking spot alone is $52 a month (you pay them to do what exactly?). Also – most downtown cities have superb and efficient transit systems equipped with bus routes that can get you pretty much anywhere you have to go. Bonus tip is that you will save money and our environment by cutting gas emissions.
  2. Be aware of what’s around you. As a young, small girl living on my own, I can’t stress the importance of this enough. A colleague whom is looking to potentially move into the area asked me the other day how “safe” I feel living in the core, knowing there is “a lot of homeless people a druggies” around my area. No, I explained to her that I am not ignorant to the fact of these individuals being there, but yet, I really don’t feel unsafe. I am constantly aware of who is around me and what’s happening, while keeping to myself and not interacting with trouble. (Bonus points for keeping my mom and boyfriend on speed dial in case something were to go wrong!)
  3. Make friends with your apartment management and neighbors. I cannot stress the importance of having good relations with those in your community. You never know if you’ll need someone! For instance, I have made a great relationship with my building concierge. He even holds my mail package deliveries and opens the apartment enterane doors for me upon arriving home after a long day at work (I am partly to blame for this – my keys and fob are usually swimming somewhere at the bottom of my huge MK Hamilton. Ladies understand the struggle!). Also, neighbors are great to have as nearby friends who can answer questions about condo management, or heck – even lend you some sugar. But the most important thing in making these friendly connections is the added sense of security and belonging. A smile in the hallway or a simple “Hello, miss!” can really add a little sprinkle to your day.
  4. Get good walking shoes. One great thing about living downtown is having the ability to walk to basically anything you need to access. If you’re like me, you have a grocery store, gym, library and pharmacy all in a good walking distance. Bonus is that walking around your neighborhood and learning more about it is a fascinating way to get out of your home, and relax! If you’re ever feeling bored, it is something healthier to do than watch TV.
  5. Make weekly or biweekly hauls to a Costco. This is something I’d recommend not only to those in suburbia but especially downtown. These trips allow you to stock up on everyday staples for your kitchen and allow you to cut down on the number of trips and weight you’ll be carrying from the local downtown grocery store.
  6. Familiarize yourself with your surrounding parks and neighbourhoods. This is useful for when you need to get a little bit of a break from the downtown fuss and commotion. Scope out some nice parks and green areas where you can go take a walk, read a book, or have a nice picnic. This is also exceptionally important if you have a puppy or a dog! Find some nearby dog-friendly parks and let your little furry friend explore while maybe even meeting a new friend!
  7. Live on a busying street? Invest in good earplugs! I live on the most busy  and famous street in my downtown core. That said, every night before bed I make sure to close all my windows and plug in my ear plugs for a soundless night’s rest. If you need t, invest in a fan or noise making machine to cancel out the street traffic noise. Lastly, our bodies are pretty darn impressive as to how adaptable they are – over time, you will get used to the noise and eventually you probably won’t even notice it!
  8. Use your space strategically! Everyone knows that living downtown, you are limited to space and storage options. This can especially be an issue when moving in with a new boyfriend or roommate. My main tip is to use your resources strategically and try purging all the unnecessary clutter in your home with some of the following tips:
    • for warmer months, vacuum-seal winter clothes and store them in a space that otherwise would be empty (i.e. under the bed, back of the closet);
    • consider buying more “all in one” appliances, that can be of multi-usage (i.e. a blender that can also chop and puree your food);
    • if multi-use appliances aren’t an  option, try to buy the smaller version of whatever it is you need. Chances are, you won’t be needing that big of a vacuum or coffee machine when you consider the space you have to hold it;
    • consider apartment-friendly furniture, such as murphy beds. There are some pretty impressive “condo-style” variations of everything from coffee tables to beds to bookshelves that can be found;
    • lastly, find out if it is possible in your apartment complex to use unused space.
  9. Know whats happening in your city and your neighbourhood. This is pretty simple – just keep your ears open for festivals, shows, concerts, and other social events that are happening in your area. It is a good way to boost your sense of community and be aware of whats happening – you never know, could be something you want to attend!

 

Some things I have learned in my 24 years of life.

Twenty-four and half. That’s my age right now, and I must say that when I am asked my age I tend to hesitate and – for a quick second – forget. I forget my age simply because I find the fact that I am 24 quite surprising. You can’t blame me: we all had that image of ourselves of what we would look like in our twenties.

Ideally, as a young child, preteen and teenager I always thought by my mid-twenties I would have my life in order and just know things about anything. I would have a boyfriend, a job, would have my life in “order” and be very independent, confident in all my actions, and wise.

Now, in the middle of my mid-twenties, I have come to learn how wrong I was about life. And I’m going to share just some

  1. No one ever has everything all figured out. We are all just ‘figuring it out’ as life goes on. I used to think that by mid-twenties, I would just know how to adult and understand abstract concepts ranging from relationships to emotions and other complexities of life.
  2. Time tends to go by faster, instead of slowing down. We get busier, take on more roles (whether a parent, a manager, a wife, a bridesmaid) we are juggling many more roles than we used to. This makes our lives busier and fills our agendas with a schedule that usually doesn’t have much space for downtime or relaxation. This makes time go by faster than ever before in our lives and before you know it, its mid-July and the year is half over (or half started, if you’re a ‘half-glass empty perspective’ type).
  3. Friendships are harder to create, but more valuable than ever before. Elementary school was the easiest time to make friends. Recess was a core element of the school day which allowed students to socialize with their peers and build friendships. However, as we age, friendships are harder to create and grow. Yet. those friendships we have become more and more important in our everyday lives. Friends from high school or as far as elementary stand as gems in our lives. No, do not get me wrong – friendships can still be made and flourish in record time. However, making friends is harder when you have a limited schedule (see point #2).
  4. Perspectives and objectives shift and change in this special age. In my mid-twenties, I have witnessed a drastic change in  my perspective of life goals and objectives. Growing up, I wanted a care-free single lifestyle and put the concept of childbearing towards the back burner. Nevertheless, during my mid-twenties, I am seeing my objectives change. I want kids and I want to grow a family whom I can come home to and relax with. I want to build these relationships and build a family. Other objectives that used to be important to me are fading in their urgency and I am finding myself become more of a family-oriented individual, valuing relationships over materialistic gains.
  5. People have feelings – even if they hide them – we all have feelings. This is not something ‘new’ I have learned but I can say it is an important part of life that we tend to put to the back burner of our minds. No, don’t think others do not have feelings. Even if someone can put on  a tough rock hard face, they may be the most sensitive individual deep down and be hiding their true emotions. That said, always treat others how you want to be treated. This is not to be taken lightly. I do believer that the more we consider other people’s feelings, the more we will be able to be in touch with our own and be able to be happy and truly, deeply, content.

Hope you all enjoyed the few things I have learned and gained in my mid twenties. These things are just a few of the major life lessons and important parts of life that I preach to. Until next time. Take care!