The Perfect Day Trip From Toronto

When I travel, I love big cities.

I also love the smaller towns, a day trip away, where a different world awaits.

If you live in or are visiting the Toronto area, then this is one day trip that should be on your list.

Go one hour east of Toronto and you will find two of the quaintest towns ever – Port Hope and Cobourg, side by side.

Port Hope has a charming name and plenty of adorable scenery to match. A main street filled with flowers, cute stores and delicious restaurants combined with a rolling river with a path along side makes this town perfect for strolling and relaxing.This is the kind of place that you search for high and low when you travel. And when you find it, you don’t want to leave.

Port Hope is filled with great restaurants but if you are coming, be sure to check out Olympus Burger, a favourite destination for locals filled with a wide range of burgers with Greek names and the best sweet potato fries ever. Any burger place that also includes 3 veggie burger options is also top-notch in my books!

If you are in the mood for Thai, our favourite is The Bualai Thai restaurant where friendly service and a beautifully designed interior meets amazing food and equals major satisfaction.

For shopping, you must visit a one of a kind store just outside Port Hope called Primitive Designs. This is not just shopping, it is sight-seeing around the world! With an inventory from Buddha statues to Tiki bars to wood carved furniture to even transformers made from recycled parts, it makes shopping a delight for even a non-shopper such as myself!

If you are in the mood to swim, drive a few minutes more to Cobourg where the loveliest beach and harbour await.

Port Hope and Cobourg are 2 towns that look like they walked off a Hollywood movie screen. So charming and adorable to look at that you can’t believe they are real!

When you travel do you like to find smaller places outside larger cities to explore? 

Canada Day: Toronto Style

One word for Canada Day.


Toronto has a way of doing that.

On the way to the baseball game, these are the Canadian moments we saw.

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And what brought tears to my eyes, was a parade we stumbled upon put on by immigrants and refugees to Canada. People who have chosen to make Canada their home.

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And then a baseball game that was so much more than a baseball game. A place to celebrate Canadian heroes as they unfolded our flag. It was one of those I won’t forget moments.

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And even the moon was celebrating in all its light.

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Happy belated Canada Day to all. And for those of you who haven’t visited, do come. It is worth the trip.

Father’s Day: Toronto Style

Today was my husband’s first Father’s Day in Toronto.

Given that Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, this city speaks to us.


So we mixed and matched what Toronto has to offer, to bring Chris a Father’s Day that he and his tummy will never forget.

1. Since 5/6 of our family is breakfast obsessed, Father’s Day has to begin at this little Greek diner downtown complete with Greek potatoes and the friendliest staff.

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2. Then, to walk off the food coma, we wandered until we found free ice cream from Prince Edward Island (our former home). Ice cream is a food group in our family!

3. Bookstores (well.. the travel section) often call our names and before we knew it, we were the proud owners of these. Cambodia, Turkey and Arabic lessons were on this year’s Father’s Day menu.

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4. Then, tired and needing sugar, we found churros from Mexico.

5. The 1/6 of our family who is not breakfast obsessed required some falafel from Israel and Chris, being the sweet husband and dad that he is, participated as well.

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6. Tired from our previous night at the drive-in, where we “travelled” to Costa Rica to laugh at the corny movie Jurassic World, we headed home.

7. Nothing speaks Canada more than mowing the lawn (well… shoveling snow maybe). So happy dad taught willing girls how to mow the lawn with his new super duper old-fashioned quiet lawnmower.

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A perfect Father’s Day for the perfect father. Happy Father’s Day to all of you as well!

My Husband Has Replaced Me

It is not looking good.

Chris has found a new love. And it is not me.

Competition has arrived in a smaller and cuter package, one that doesn’t talk too much and will listen to all his stories. This perfect low maintenance relationship has begun and I haven’t even packed yet!

Yes, Chris, otherwise known as “I love to mow the lawn and trim trees and nothing more”  has entered the first stage of You are leaving and I need to get busy to fill up my time. 

Hence, the ominous appearance of these on the scene.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris's life.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris’s life.

Now to be fair, we have always been a bit of a pumpkin driven family. Enticed by the lure of fall, our family has been known to spend great gobs of time searching for pumpkins, playing with pumpkins and ultimately massacring them in the name of Halloween. Left to rot outside in the cold winter, we only remember to put them to rest once the snow begins to melt.

And so it is not too shocking that of all the seeds to attract Chris’s attention, pumpkins won out. The sunflowers were a peace-offering that I would remain “somewhat in the picture” as these are my favourite.

So determined to have the prettiest pumpkins and the sunniest sunflowers, Chris has turned on the charm as he lovingly plants and tends to his new garden.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

I actually caught him the other night checking them out. “Apparently” frost was forecasted and he was deep in worry that his new “friends” were in harm’s way. Pacing and sweating, he finally managed to fall asleep, only to run to the yard the next morning to triple check their security.

So until I leave, I am now playing second fiddle to the dirt in my backyard.

Oh and the promises have already begun. I will be able to meet Chris’s new friends when they are born. Apparently Egypt Air will let them accompany Chris from Canada to Cairo. Well it is a direct flight after all… 🙂 If not, then we can still skype I guess.

(Special thanks to Ally from The Spectacled Bean who suggested the title for this post. Be sure to check out her blog which is terrific.)

Does your significant other have a hobby that “takes over” at times or borders on “obsession”? 

Feeding My India Cravings

I want to live in India some day.

I have lived in North Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America and soon the Middle East. But for a travel obsessed person such as myself, it is never enough. My list goes on and on…

I have been and always will be in love with India. Why? Because it is the most fascinating, frustrating, bewildering, confusing, colourful, eyes opening and jaw dropping kind of place I have ever experienced. It is travel on steroids.

So it is no surprise to my family that they will be dragged to something “Indian” when we venture out on the town. It was bangles and dhosa with Abby and it was tiffins (Indian metal containers used to carry lunches) and spicy sizzling veggies with Allyson. And always… naan for Jade.

Now before the blended family thing happened, Chris and his girls had not touched the stuff. Dangling the tantalizing smells of curry over their heads, they quickly responded and together, we blended in our love for Indian food. Living close to Toronto, we can head out and always find something interesting to satisfy my India cravings. Recently, we ran into a Sikh festival which of course made me want to book a flight to Amritsar, India to see The Golden Temple.

A little shopping in Little India where tiffins and other delights are to be found.

After shopping in Little India, you must try the Lahore Tikka House (Pakistani food which seems similar to Indian but quite spicy as Chris’s face turns red and begins to pour sweat). When you arrive, the waiters ask you where you want to sit. Then each and every time, they show us where we should sit! A game of ask and tell that makes us always laugh 🙂 You receive a whiteboard to write out your order which should always include naan as it is simply the best! If you love your veggies, go directly to the combo sizzler which is heaven in your mouth.

And then you stumble home in a food coma until it wears off and you return!

What travel cravings or food cravings do you have the most?

5 Ways To Find Fun On The Streets Of Toronto

Four daughters means 2 middle daughters – Jade and Allyson. They are the icing in our Oreo. When they get together, we are guaranteed to have a sweet time. Recently they discovered 5 ways to have fun on the streets of Toronto.

1. Graffiti Alley – free reading and art work at any time

 2. Cupcakes and CheeseHow can you go wrong with either of these choices? – says the vegetarian mom who is trying to go vegan

3. Look At Signs, Signs, and Signs

4. People Watching – Go to Queen Street West and walk and you will see a lot of interesting characters from Spider Man on a skateboard to a guy who was reliving those stretchy polyester pants from Saturday Night Fever (no pics out of respect).

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5. Eat Burgers and All Day Breakfast – The girls love their burgers from The Burger’s Priest where wolfing down meat is a holy experience. Or so they tell me! Chris loves his breakfast in a diner where people drink beer for breakfast (a tad questionable but he will do anything for breakfast)!  Me, on the other hand, I will hold out for Indian,Thai, Vietnamese or Lebanese which is available, thankfully, everywhere I look.

What do you enjoy doing on the streets of your town or city?

Toronto: The Feud For Favourite Falafel

Being vegetarian, I love falafel. Being Chris, he loves shawarma. Being travel obsessed, I seek ways to feel like I am travelling everywhere I go.

Enter: the search for the best falafel (my version) or the search for the best shawarma (Chris’s version). My version is yummier which goes without saying. 🙂

9 Steps To Finding Falafel

1. Go on-line and research.

2. Get confused by widely differing opinions. Torontonians apparently are very protective of their falafel.

3. Decide on the number 1 ranked restaurant, Dr. Laffa. With that name, you got to love it, right?

4. Dig deeper. There is always dirt to be found or at least a few pita crumbs anyways. This is where the falafel experts separate from the novices.

And what do I discover? Apparently the owners of Dr. Laffa have separated and the falafel divorce is spicing up. Research suggests different reasons for the falafel feud but no reliable witnesses have spoken. Heresay, speculation and rumours abound, coating good old number 1. So we trepidatiously head out to investigate.

5. Arrive at said location to discover that the feuding falafel restaurants have now gone head to head or at least side by side. Remaining loyal to the name, Dr. Laffa calls us in and we slowly enter uncharted falafel territory.

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6. We go to the counter and pretend to know what we are doing. Yes, of course, we want everything on it. And who wants pita when laffa is on order? So bring on that laffa, whatever it is. 

7. Receive meal nonchalantly (I pretend to be the cool Canadian falafel version of Anthony Bourdain) but with a smile of course. We are Canadian after all.

8. Dig in, devour, digest and drag ourselves out. Wondering why? Feast your eyes on this. Yes, some of his shawarma shots are mixed in with my beautiful falafel ones. I lost editorial control somehow.

9. Declare Dr. Laffa my new best friend and vow to return for many more falafel feasts in the future.

Dr. Laffa, you had me at the first bite. Although I know you may be in the middle of a messy divorce, I refuse to choose sides. Hang in there and know that I do love you, just the way you are.

 Do you have a story about feuding restaurants? How did you choose? Falafel or shawarma – which do you prefer?

X is for Xenial


You know, xenial, which means hospitable, especially to strangers and foreigners. Xenial, a word I have never said aloud nor written. Until now.

So here’s the thing. I love both big cities and small towns. I don’t discriminate. But some do. If you have lived or studied in Toronto, you may be hesitant to admit so if you move to eastern Canada. I was told, true story, to remove the fact that I had studied in Toronto from my resume when I first moved to Nova Scotia and then to Prince Edward Island. I don’t know if this is a David vs. Goliath thing but the sentiment did appear at times in my years residing there.

Recently having moved to a small town, an hour outside of Toronto, I have been reminded how friendly this part of the world is. Whenever we need a dose of the big city, we head to Toronto for some delicious ethnic food, hair dying (yes, my daughter did dye her hair a vibrant purple) and overall great wandering.

In doing so, we have found a chain restaurant in one of the Toronto suburbs with the name of Fat *astard Burrito. Not only do they make vegan/vegetarian burritos that are delicious and not a “rip-off”, but they have this staff that makes me want to be 20 again and work in the fast food business. They literally are that song, “Happy” come to life.

This is not unique in Toronto. Everywhere we go from drive thrus, to shopping malls, to markets, to the Gay Pride Parade to the parks, people are incredibly friendly. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world which I, of course, love. Riding the subway in Toronto, one could be anywhere in the world.

The list of things to do and see are endless and as a family, we have only hit a few so far. Our one top family favourite is to take the ferry to Toronto Island for the day. Whether you want to walk, explore, bike, swim, suntan, picnic, or go on a few rides, Toronto Island and its beaches are a “hit” for families who wish to spend time together without breaking the bank. And if you are like us, you may even meet a family who offers to feed you, just because.

Thanks for being so hospitable by dropping by today to see the Family C as they travel from A to Z.

What is a xenial place you have lived in or visited? Are you a big city or a small town kind of person?

Raining Bangles In Little India

I was looking for something Indian to satisfy that thirst, that need to take the girls to India.

India was a little out of reach; financially and time wise. For a mere 30 dollars or so and a few hours, we found ourselves a decent substitute, Little India in Toronto. Spending the day wandering, eating (Udupi Palace – great South Indian food) and shopping we found ourselves a little slice of Indian heaven; not too far from our home.

A much cheaper alternative to the real deal but then again, India is major bang for your buck. Despite what it costs to travel there, it will repay us a thousandfold in terms of experiences and memories. I can’t wait.

But in the meantime, we will go back to Little India.