Tag Archives: reviews
The Queen’s Plate has been a staple event in Toronto for many years. Channeling the glamour of the Calgary Stampede and the Kentucky Derby – it is the one event in Toronto that people go all out for, style wise.
Despite its long running history – this was the 157th Queen’s Plate! – this was my first time attending. While I’ve been to Woodbine once before, years back, and spent some time last summer visiting Mohawk Racetrack – I had been missing out.
That all changed this year, possibly because they changed the event up to include a live music portion after the races. Where there is music, I will go.
With this being my first year attending, I wanted to get there early and attempt to experience everything. This was probably not the smartest idea with it being such a long day, but I’m glad I now know how to plan for it in the future.
Upon arrival I explored the outdoor parties taking place, took in the outfits on display and enjoyed the local live bands that were playing the daytime portion. It can be an overwhelming site if you’ve never been before. The space is huge, and there is a lot going on before you even get inside to the racing portion.
After trying the official Queen’s Plate drink of the day (one of my favourite parts of the event), we went inside to find our seats and watch the races. While the earlier races aren’t as attended as the main event, it was interesting to watch the hardcore betters get excited about their horses.
When the main event – the Queen’s Plate race – approached, the inside of the venue began to be packed, and the seating area filled up quickly. This is what everyone was here for, and it showed. As the race began, the cheering was like nothing I’ve experienced yet in my visits to live racing. It was absolute madness. In a good way. In an exciting way. I immediately understood the appeal.
Sadly, I didn’t end up betting on a horse this time, because, with the event as packed as it was – I didn’t want to be the one person taking an hour at the booth trying to figure out how to place a bet. Yes, I’ve done it before, but not enough to remember how a year later. With so many people lined up behind me waiting to place theirs, I instead decided to just enjoy everyone else getting excited for their winnings.
Food wise, there was a nice variety of food trucks available to change it up from the standard food court inside Woodbine. I ended up trying some “Italian Poutine” that was actually just what I needed.
Now that the races were over, the concert portion officially began. One of my favourites (they almost made it onto my Polaris Short List vote ballot), The Strumbellas, took the stage. Sadly, I mostly missed their set due to the logistics of the horses getting in and out of the venue (you have to wait a while to get from the inside area of the building to the outside every time the horses leave and enter), but what I did hear of it was as excellent as I’ve come to expect from these guys.
At this point, it had been a long 7 hours on our feet running around the huge venue, and we were getting incredibly tired, but I did want to stay for Matt Good. I ended up staying for about half the set (which was excellent) before we called it a day.
Overall it was an exciting event, the kind of event we don’t see in Toronto often. And I think the choice to make it a ticketed event with a solid lineup is a big step in the right direction in terms of bringing out the younger crowd to an event we would otherwise likely miss.
Next year, it would be nice to see the concert and the races overlapping a bit more, if only to make it less of a long day on your feet when you’re that dressed up. But I do hope they keep running with the live music idea.
I hear a new live music venue is actually being built onsite, which is exactly what the city needs.
As you might remember, last year, Intel sent me a small Asus tablet that also worked as a mini laptop on the go – it was the miracle I needed, allowing me to easily work from anywhere without lugging around my heavy 17 inch laptop.
This is easily one of the coolest laptops ever, and of course, it is also a pretty great tablet. In the past I’ve worked from a variety of laptops: Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, an HP Envy, a Samsung laptop and the Asus tablet I mentioned above.
As a Windows user since I first touched a computer, the HP was always my favourite. When its hinge broke, I was very upset.
So when they offered this laptop to me I was ecstatic. My current main laptop – the heavy Samsung – had recently took a fall to the ground and was badly damaged.
The greatest thing about the Spectre is that it’s about as light and thin as a Macbook Air, and as proficient as I found the Pro to be for my (mostly writing) needs. The biggest bonus of course is 360 hinge that lets you use it as a tablet. When I’m reading scripts or eBooks, being able to completely flip the screen around and hold it in my hand like a tablet makes the process so much faster and more convenient.
It’s also as gorgeous as a Mac. Typing on it is a dream, it actually makes me want to write more.
Upon receiving, I quickly downloaded Windows 10, eager to get rid of the awful Windows 8 startup app page that was forced on us years back, and return to the start button we all grew up knowing and loving.
There are some new features I’m loving from Windows 10: Cortana – which is basically Microsoft’s version of Siri – is fun and makes life a little easier when you want to quickly know a sports score, currency conversion, or what the weather forecast is for tomorrow.
I also dig the virtual desktop feature, which, as I’m working more and more on screenwriting, is very helpful when writing my treatment and spec scripts. My blog life very much requires me being online, with a bunch of browsers open to all the social media feeds, but when I want to spend a couple hours on screenwriting, now I can easily switch to desktop 2 to completely escape that world for a while and solely focus on getting my writing work done without the constant distractions. It’s a miracle way of separating the different writing worlds I live in, and it allows me to prioritize just writing when I really need to get the important work done.
One annoying thing about changing computers though, was that this one didn’t come with Microsoft Office, and because I can’t find the paper with my key to Office, I have to pay for it again, which is very, very, uncool. You’d think that since Microsoft and Windows make you sign into your Outlook account to run the computer, you’d be able to sync to programs you purchased that you had on your old laptop – but no such luck.
Intel provided me with this product for review, but all opinions are my own!
As summer 2015 came to an end, the people at Ford decided to create an epic event to showcase their latest development, Ford’s Sync 3.
The new touch screen technology in their Escape allows you to easily navigate the city, call anyone in your contacts, change radio stations (or play your music from Spotify), hear text messages, and so much more – hands free.
The event began with a group of influencers coming together at Rock Lobster for a private, delicious lobster roll lunch, where we were paired up with another blog team to take on #TheHunt – a challenge a la The Amazing Race – where we jumped into the new Ford Escapes and, with a list of tasks in hand to complete in just 2 hours, we raced to complete as many challenges as possible.
Being the introvert that I am, at first I didn’t love the idea of being paired with strangers for the race, but it turned out it was a match made in heaven as they were just as competitive as we were, and they’re also super smart, sweet girls attending Ryerson, with a killer sense of style, so it was a fun day.
Our competitive spirit led to earning 3rd place out of maybe 10 teams (?) which we thought was pretty great, considering we never once cheated by splitting up to complete tasks.
After the challenge was over we drove to the Big Crow for a fabulous BBQ dinner, and then it was time to drink. There’s nothing like an open bar after a day of adrenaline pumping competition.
While the point of the challenges was to get us familiar with Sync and how many great features it has to help out in just about any situation, it was the creativity of this event that really stuck with me. Too often, bloggers get invited to events with the intent to promote a new product and yes there might be food or an open bar, but that’s about it. I applaud the incredible PR team at National for coming up with something this unique, while also giving us a chance to experience the product features in action.
As for the car itself, I chose to let Tiffany do the driving during the race as we figured it would save time if only one person drove (competitive, right?) but I took it home this past Thanksgiving weekend, and I can’t rave about it enough.
I’ll admit I am known for my bad habit of radio channel flipping (ask anyone who’s ever been in a car with me while I’m driving, or sitting passenger). It’s one of the only stupid things I do when driving, because I can’t bear to listen to a bad song when I know there are all those other stations out there that might be playing a better one.
Being able to just say the name of the channel I want to listen to and have it change to that station is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, car wise. My eyes stayed on the road at all times, and I got to switch songs as much as I pleased.
Other amazing features include a camera for backing up, a beeping notification if you’re getting too close to an object (talk about avoiding bumps and scratches), heated seats, hands free (!!) parallel parking, and for an SUV – it only cost me $39 to fill up – which means it is incredibly fuel efficient.
If you’re in search of an inspired connected car, this is one worth taking out for a test drive.
As you might know – I moved recently.
After 7.5 years living at Queen and Spadina, an opportunity arose to move to a much nicer, larger apartment – and after a lot of hesitation and fear of leaving what had turned into my first real home – I took it.
I am now comfortably settled into that new, much larger apartment (for the first time since I moved out of my parents house at 18 I have ensuite laundry, a dishwasher and proper air conditioning!).
But I couldn’t have made this move happen without the help of a reliable Toronto moving company.
My last apartment was a 3rd floor walk up, and after 7+ years, I had acquired quite a few things. Summer is also my busiest time of year by far, so having time to pack up that many things just wasn’t going to happen on my own.
I hired Cargo Cabbie to help me pack and move because I had read great things about them, and they were consistently rated the best movers in Toronto on Homestars. They were very booked up for the September 1st date of my move (easily the busiest time of year for movers), but managed to fit me into their schedule, thankfully.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, as this was my first time ever dealing with movers, and had heard quite a few horror stories from people in the past (never hire a mover from Craigslist if you value your property).
I found Cargo Cabbie’s customer service not only friendly, but efficient, thorough, helpful and very quick to respond.
Not once was I left waiting more than a day for an email response, and there was always someone knowledgeable and helpful available on the phone to answer any of my questions during working hours.
The process for getting an estimate was simple – I took photos of my apartment (including inside the closets and cupboards) and emailed them over – and they were able to give me a very thorough and detailed estimate that ended up being quite accurate in the end.
I’ll admit I was particularly nervous about the pack, as it seemed very odd to have someone you don’t know go through all your things and pack up your life.
On the day of the pack, the team of two arrived on time, introduced themselves, asked me to take them through my apartment and what I needed packed, and returned with all the supplies they needed.
The best part about using their packing service is, not only do you save the time packing – you don’t have to get a car and try to find boxes and buy all that bubble wrap, tape and packing paper – they bring everything you need.
Also, they are professionals – so they know exactly how to pack so that your things don’t end up broken. Care was taken to ensure anything I owned that contained liquids/powder was wrapped in plastic wrap and packing paper to ensure leaks were impossible. I have so many little things like lipstick and eye shadow that I was surprised they were able to get my entire life packed up that thoroughly in the span of just six hours.
All my framed art was also carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and covered in large long doubled up boxes to ensure the glass wouldn’t get scratched or smashed.
During the pack, Javier, the owner, stopped by to ensure everything was moving smoothly and that I was happy with the service.
In the end, I had 53 boxes worth of things! I was shocked to find out that I had somehow accumulated that much stuff over the years, in my tiny one bedroom apartment.
On moving day, they were running about 5 minutes late due to traffic issues, but called ahead to let me know.
The team of four was able to get everything into the moving truck in 1.5 hours, which was great timing considering they were also taking down my shelves and curtain at this time. They bring all the tools needed to take your furniture apart – so you really don’t need to worry about anything.
Once we got to the new apartment, they had everything up and in my new space within an hour. It all happened so fast. I was impressed not only with their efficiency and speed, but with how friendly they were – and how helpful they were in helping place the new furniture, and unwrap/unbox anything I needed help with.
Once the move was complete, Javier asked me if there was anything else I needed help with or wanted moved around, and if I was happy with everything. It was great to know I had hired a company that cared so much about how everything went, and wanted to make sure I was 100 percent satisfied with everything before they left.
I am happy to report none of my items were damaged – but I also know that if something had been, they offer coverage for up to $20,000 worth of property, and a form is available right on their website to fill out so you can quickly get your item replaced. I felt great knowing that on the off chance something did break (which is to be expected during a move) I would have easily been able to get the value reimbursed.
I now understand exactly why they are so well known as being the best movers in Toronto. Their reputation has developed and maintained itself over the years because they care about customer service, the team is friendly, the move is effecient, and they ensure nothing gets damaged in the move.
If you’re looking for a reliable moving company in Toronto, I highly recommend calling Cargo Cabbie.
The CNE is one of my favourite times of year.
Maybe that’s because I’m still a little kid at heart, or because I love spinning rides and the excuse to eat 2000 calorie fried foods. But it’s really because it feels like everything that is great about summer all rolled into one: long days spent outside with great friends in the sunshine, eating anything and everything you want, discount shopping at its best, entertainment in all its forms, and remembering how it feels to be truly alive via the risk you take letting your body be thrown around in metal contraptions controlled by teenagers working their first job (fair rides are truly the greatest adrenaline rush).
This year though, the CNE moved into our digital future. The Food Building – aka half the reason we attend the CNE every year – got an app that allows you to skip the lineups and order your food ahead of time.
Yes, that means you can be waiting in line for a ride, order what you want from your app, and walk back to the building just as it’s being prepared for you.
As we all know – because of the fanfare around the crazy foods at the Ex – the lineups can sometimes be insane in the Food Building, especially on a busy weekend around dinner time. The ability to skip the line is exactly what the CNE has needed all these years.
I loved that I was able to order while doing something else, and by the time I got to the booth in the Food Building, there it was, ready and waiting for me.
You can download the CNE Food Building app now, and use it this weekend while you’re getting those last CNE moments in before summer says goodbye for another year.
A couple things to keep in mind: it doesn’t have every item from each vendor listed (just specific ones); they charge a small service fee for every transaction; and if you use a gift card or a promo code – make sure you use it all at once or you will lose whatever funds you didn’t use. You also can’t order from 2 separate vendors at the same time – you have to go back in the app and process a separate transaction (which is to be expected, since you’re paying a different vendor).
The one thing I hope they improve on it for next year is the options – while there was a nice variety of food choices available on the app, there were many more options in the building that were not on the app. Here’s hoping they can get everyone on board next year!
To any food vendors unsure if the app is right for you – I can tell you right now – your customers want it, and it will definitely help increase sales when you have less people waiting in line. No one will turn away from your booth just because the line is too long, as I have done so many times in the past.