Monday, November 25, 2013

Foxy Originals Holiday Sale

One of my favourite accessory brands, Foxy Originals, is having a holiday sale on December 10, 2013 at the Bata Shoe Museum. I haven't attended one of these sales before so I'm hoping I can make this one. Seems like a very good opportunity to stock up on holiday gifts for your loved ones and a great time to get a special treat for yourself. With prices from $5-$35 how can you go wrong?
Hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Olena Zylak Knits Up a Storm

I have always been in love with hand knit and crocheted items so its no wonder I fell in love with Olena Zylak's collection through my many visits to the One Of A Kind show. Last year I finally bought my first accessory, a twisted loop scarf, and wear it all the time. Needless to say I am ready to add to my collection and there are no shortage of pieces to choose from.

My own loop scarf purchased last year. I wear it everywhere.
Zylak has been designing collections since 1997 and uses yarns of luxury fibres to create a highly textured line. She designs the collection herself with all the knitting completed at her studio in Collingwood, Ontario. Original pieces of knitted fabric are handcrafted with a sewing machine and hand sewn when required. Finishing touches are completed by Zylak herself or a contractor. Each item is made with the utmost care and I would say this is obvious when looking at and trying on her pieces.

Some of my favourite pieces from the Fall/Winter collection are:

Spider Web Loop $35
25% kid mohair/45% acrylic/30% nylon
Spider Web Shawl $80
25% kid mohair/45% acrylic/30% nylon
also shown double stripe pleated toque $70

Lace Velour Wedge Capelet $115
60% merino wool/10% kid mohair/15% acrylic/15% nylon

The entire collection can be viewed on her website and items can be purchased online. Check the shows tab to see her schedule for appearances at different shows, including One Of A Kind, throughout the season. Items can also be purchases at certain boutique retailers across the country.
You can find Olena Zylak at the One of a Kind show in Toronto November 28th - December 8th at booth C12. I know I will be stopping by!
Photo credit, Geoff George - Toronto: spider web loop, spider web shawl, lace velour wedge capelet

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One Of A Kind Christmas Show 2013

Hard to believe one of the greatest holiday shopping experiences is almost here yet once again. I try to make a point of attending the One Of A Kind show at least once a year. Since I missed the Spring show earlier this year I am trying to make a point of attending the Christmas show, November 28th to December 8th.

For those of you who have never been, the show focuses on independent artisan and crafts people and gives them a venue to sell their wares. I'm always amazed at the creativity and variety of products available at this show. These are definitely not things you are likely to see at your local mall. The Christmas show is larger than the Spring show and judging from the website it looks like many new artisans are making their debut at this show.

For the first time I am going to try to attend the Late Night Out event on December 5th. The show is open later than usual, has free parking after 5pm and from what I hear is pretty lively when the DJ gets started. I'm looking into the Late Night Out package which includes:

For $20, receive:
  • One adult admission ticket ($10)
  • One Late Night Out Drink Voucher for a beer, white or red wine ($8)
  • One reusable shopping bag
  • A ClubOne card with ClubLounge access (What is ClubOne, click here for more info)
  • Concierge and personal shopper service
  • A ballot for a chance enter a special $100 shopping spree
  • We've partnered up with Uber, the app that connects you with a driver at the tap of a button, to offer One of a Kind Late Night Out ticket holders their first black car ride free up to $30 to or from the show
In addition to shopping there are workshops available if you want to try your hand at crafting something yourself. There is limited space available for 1 workshop, the rest have sold out. Ticket and show information is available through this link. Buying tickets online before the show starts saves you some money.

For a list of artisans and all relevant show information visit the One of a Kind Show website at Tickets can be purchased online through the website.

To see a list of artisans new to the show click here. A list of all artisans are available on this page just change the selections in the drop down menu.

If you want to know who some favourites of mine are at the One Of A Kind show you can read my previous post One Of A Kind Show - Toronto
2013 One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale
Thursday, November 28 to December 8, 2013
Weekdays & Saturdays 10am–9pm
Sundays 10am–6pm
Late Night Shopping
Thursday, December 5, 2013 10am–11pm

Venue location
Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place
100 Princes' Blvd., Toronto ON M6K 3C3 Canada

Cooking with USA Rice

Thanks to a good twitter friend of mine I was able to accomplish a long thought about cooking goal: making risotto. Thanks to her and USA rice I finally made this dish earlier this week and I have to say I am pretty proud of myself! The blog project I participated in was specifically for brown rice grown in the USA. Already I've learned something, I had no idea the USA was such a large supplier of rice. Just to put it in perspective for you, USA is one of the largest exporters of rice supplying about 12% of rice that enters world trade. Approximately 50 per cent of the U.S. rice crop is exported to more than 100 countries. In fact over 65% of rice consumed in Canada comes from the USA and Canada produces no rice of its own. Interesting isn't it?
Since risotto was my goal I went in search of a recipe for it using brown rice on I have only ever cooked rice on the stove and this recipe used that method as well even though there are several ways you can cook rice. From prep time to cook time the whole process took about 2 1/2 hours. Below is the recipe I used and I have listed the modifications I made.

 Getting ready to start. All my ingredients in place.

Rice added, let the stirring begin!

 An hour and a bit later the risotto is looking pretty good.
Ta da! The finished product with lots of left overs. It was so good!
Here are some other interesting facts about USA rice that you may not know:
  • Rice is grown in six U.S. states: Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri. Together, Arkansas, California and Louisiana account for about 80 per cent of U.S. rice acreage and production.
  • Rice has been produced in the U.S. for more than 300 years.
  • There are approximately 30 rice mills in the U.S.
  • The U.S. produces over 40 commercial varieties of rice each year in paddy, brown, white, parboiled and precooked forms.
  • There are thousands of rice varieties. At the International Rice Research Institute Genetic Resources Centre in the Philippines, 80,000 rice samples are in cold storage. 
  • Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
  • One seed of rice yields more than 3,000 grains. It is the highest yielding cereal grain and can grow in many kinds of environment and soils.
  • Winter-flooded rice fields provide important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other species. Across the U.S., hundreds of thousands of rice acres are being enhanced annually to provide habitat for these birds.
For more information on rice and how to cook with it, watch this video featuring culinary expert Rose Reisman.
Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends six to eight servings of grain products per day for adults. At least half of those servings should be whole grain products. One cup (250 mL) of rice provides two servings of grain products. The Canadian diet should consist of between 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, including cereal, breads, other grain products, fruits and vegetables.
Low in fat and sodium-free.  Contains 115 calories per cooked half-cup (125 mL) serving.

Long Grain Brown

A source of:
· Thiamine, Niacin,Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Zinc

A good source of:

· Magnesium

Medium Grain Brown

A source of

· Fibre, Thiamine,  Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper
A good source of:
· Magnesium

Brown Rice Vegetable Risotto


Original recipe makes 6 servings
  • 1 quart vegetable broth, or as needed

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Shopping In London

As follow up to my previous post on shopping in London, here are some other stores that may be of interest to you if you're heading over to the UK.


Prior to visiting London, I had never heard of this brand before. One day while I was on my "Hop On Hop Off" bus tour, we were riding down Regent Street and passed a store that caught my eye right away. It had the most colourful funky prints I had ever seen. A few hours later I was off the bus and found the Desigual store which started my love and obsession for this brand.
Thomas Mayer from Switzerland is the brain child that started this wonderful and fabulous brand in 1984. His goal was to make clothes that let people dress in a different way and generated positive feelings. I fell in love with this brand as soon as I walked into that store and can tell you every time I wear a piece of their clothing I get asked about it. Unfortunately they don't have stores in Canada but their brand is sold at numerous retailers here. You can do a search on their store find web page.
If you are desperate to visit a store (like me) so you can shop the whole collection, you can visit stores in Las Vegas and New York City. Its a good reason to plan a trip :) Who wants to start the petition for them to open a store in Canada?
Desigual has 200 stores in over 72 countries. If you are travelling and see one, check it out. I've already turned a few friends into owners of Desigual clothing.

The top and shoes purchased in Desigual London store, starting a new obsession for me


How can you go to the UK and not buy shoes? I highly recommend Dune. Sold at its own branded stores as well as department stores, the brand describes itself as "Stylish and fashionable designs that blend beautiful materials and detail with in-house design to create the distinctive Dune signature, season after season."
Visit a store while in the UK and take home a nice souvenir for yourself. 
The brand is also available in department stores like Selfridges, John Lewis, and Topshop.

Both pairs of Dune shoes I bought at Selfridges in London

My Flat In London

This one I didn't find out about until I got back from the UK and was having dinner with one of my vendors. She admitted it was her guilty pleasure and frequented this brand when on business trips in the UK. Designed by Jan Haedrich, the collection is inspired by her travels abroad, the line "embodies the spirit of the light-hearted sophisticate. It's a ladylike cocktail mixed in a modern martini shaker, the perfect combination of feminine charm and ultimate modern luxury"
See website for US and Canada store locations that carry the brand.

Fortnum & Mason

I had read a lot about this store before I left for the UK. Apparently it supplies the Queen and Buckingham Palace with stapes. Not sure if that is true or not but after trying some of their tea and shortbread cookies I wouldn't blame palace people for wanting to keep their items on hand. Selling delectable treats such as shortbread cookies, jam and tea, this brand has long been known for quality products. Stopping in at their store on Piccadilly is as much a tourist to do as well as a great place to pick up the most delicious shortbread cookies you will ever have among many other things. I have also developed a liking to their strawberry tea which I have been trying to get replenished. If anyone is going to the UK anytime soon, I have a shopping list for you.

A few of the things I bought at Fortnum & Mason

Cath Kidston

While I was at St. Pancras station trying to figure out where to catch the train to Paris, this store caught my eye. Not my usual style, Cath Kidston prints and patterns seemed a bit country to me, I was still captivated by the colours, styles and prints that were on display. As a sales person described it to me, "it is very English" and I kind of understand what she meant. I didn't buy anything but this store and its unusual products have been on my mind since coming home.
The story of Cath Kidston and the rise of her designs, starting with her first print "Rose Bouquet" inspired by wallpaper she had seen in Wales, is a very inspiring story. Described as modern vintage the Cath Kidston collection now includes a wide variety of prints and products sold all over the world.
Next time I am in the UK, this store is getting another visit and maybe even a purchase!


After having read several stories about Selfridges in my retail courses I was thrilled to finally be able to see the store in person. I went to the Oxford Street store but there are a few locations in London. I was impressed at the brands, appearance of the store and the customer service. First place I hit was the shoe department where I bought 2 pairs on Dune shoes. For anyone retail person who thinks the department store model is dead, they should take a look at Selfridges. There was a lot of help available while I was trying on shoes and making up my mind what to do. Imagine that, customer service in a department store. After I made my decision, I put the shoes on hold so I could walk around the rest of the store not weighed down by bags. I could have spent hours in the women's clothing section (but I didn't). I did buy a beautiful lace skirt from H & M section and crocheted sweater from Selfrides girl brand. After that I wandered through the food emporium which was a special treat. I discovered the Pinkberry frozen yogurt place and gave their seasonal flavour, Watermelon, a try which I highly recommend.
This is a must for any UK shopping you may be doing. Even just walking around the store is an experience. I'll be back.

Selfridges store in London

Lace skirt from H & M collection at Selfridges