Picnic in the Park Date Idea

Can you believe it’s August already? Well the good thing is Summer is not over yet! Every Summer Sashien and I plan to go on a picnic. I’ve always loved picnics, I went on my first picnic when I was four years old. My grandmother took me on one since I didn’t know what a picnic was and hadn’t been on one yet. Since then picnics have always held fond memories for me.

Picking a Venue

I’d been looking in to quarantine safe date ideas this year and a picnic seemed like a great fit since we would be outdoors but still away from others. For our picnic date we decided to do some research on parks in the city and came across Strathcona Park. I’d never been to it before and the pictures of the fountain online piqued my interest. Picnics are a great way to enjoy nature whether you’re out at a park or in your own backyard.

The Food

As you all know I’m quite active on Instagram so I had seen the page Ottawa Picnics and loved their charcuterie to go concept. I immediately decided to place an order for the earliest pickup date which was July 18. I was so pleased with our picnic box.

Here’s what was in the box: Pepper-encrusted Italian wine salami, hot Genoa salami, Manchego cheese, Double-smoked, aged cheddar, “apple” goat cheese, “everything bagel” goat cheese, baked crostini, beetroot crackers, chive pita crackers, garlic and Parmesan twists, pickled radishes, red onion and jalapeños, fire and ice wine jelly, Canadian honey, gherkins, Kalamata olives, dried figs, local green beans, garden rosemary, grapes. It truly was a treat and we had some leftovers as well.

We decided to spruce up our picnic and brought along a bottle of our favourite sparkling rose Bulles de Nuit. We picked this up in Gatineau for under $10. It’s sweet and light with a hint of strawberry. Perfect for a summer picnic.

The Ambiance

 

I wanted to have a formal picnic setting so in addition to a picnic blanket I brought along a pink striped outdoor tablecloth and some plastic plates and cutlery. I found the plates and table cloth at my local Dollarama and they were so affordable. As products at Dollarama vary I’ve linked some similar plates and table decor at the end of this post.

 

We really wanted to enjoy our time outdoors and what better way to add to the ambiance than with some music. I had forgotten to bring my bluetooth speaker with me so we used our phones to play some relaxing jazz music that really helped set the mood but you can choose whichever music you like. I’d also recommend bringing a portable fan if you’re going on a particularly hot day. I’ve link some options for speakers and fans below as well.

We really enjoyed our picnic in the park, special thanks to Ottawa Picnics for the scrumptious spread.

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Dine like a Maharaja at the East India Company

The East India Company (EIC) is my favourite Indian restaurant in Ottawa. I have been frequenting their Somerset location (they also have a location in Bells Corners) for over 10 years. I have dined at this restaurant multiple times but it wasn’t until I was invited to try out their new Thali menu that I truly gained an appreciation for everything it has to offer.

The History

The East India Company restaurants were founded by Kamal and Sudha Mehra. The Mehras migrated to Canada in the 1970’s and opened their first restaurant Mehra’s Delicatessen in Wippineg, Manitoba. They then went on to open India Gardens, Winnipeg’s first North Indian restaurant. The East India Company restaurants came about when the Mehras decided to expand their business in 1994 and opened another restaurant in Winnipeg. Today the East India Company has two locations in Ottawa and one location in Winnipeg. The restaurants are now run by Kamal and Sudha’s children; Sachit, Anish, Divya and Nitin.

The Ambiance

The Mehras pride themselves on filling their restaurants with carefully curated pieces of art and antiques from India.  As you walk in to Somerset location you can’t help but notice the large mandap at the front of the restaurant. A mandap is a covered four pillared structure typically used for Hindu and Jain weddings. This particular mandap is 350 years old and was originally placed at a temple in India. Following the mandap you come across a Palki or palanquin, which is the oldest piece in the restaurant. The palanquin was used to transport brides on their wedding day and is around 400 years old. As you move towards the back of the restaurant you will find marble pieces including a marble window frame which is around 200 years old. Carved marble blocks with designs composed of semi-precious stones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies also adorn the bar at the back of the restaurant. You really feel like you are in a museum as you dine at this location.

What restaurant isn’t complete without music right? Well you can listen to some of your favourite Bollywood tunes while you enjoy a meal at the East India Company.

The Food

Now the part that everyone’s been waiting for, the food! The food at EIC has always been fantastic, whether you’re at the buffet or dining a la carte you are guaranteed to leave this place feeling like a king. EIC is famous for their lunch and dinner buffets and a reservation is highly recommended. In order to keep up with the changing rules and restrictions on indoor dining during the COVID19 pandemic EIC now offers you the best of both worlds with their Thali menu.

The Thali

A thali is a meal that consists of multiple dishes in small portions, it is typically served on a round platter called a Thali. EIC offers two choices of Thali. The New Delhi Thali which offers you the choice four entrees and the Mumbai Thali which offers you a choice of 3 entrees. Both thalis come with basmati rice, papadum, salad, a samosa, and gulab jamun for dessert.

I chose the Mumbai Thali with Shrimp Curry, Chili Chicken and Navratan for my entrees. You can view the full Thali menu below which features some of the buffet favourites as entree choices:

In addition to their food the East India Company also offers a selection of wine, beer and their signature cocktails. I tried Mehra’s Special which is a tropical, fruity rum based cocktail. It was really refreshing and not overly strong. Sashien had the Kala Ice which is a stronger drink incorporating Irish whiskey, Black label and Kahlua. The cocktail menu also features liquor from local suppliers such as Dillon’s Gin and Top Shelf Vodka.

The Verdict

Both Sashien and I really enjoyed our dinner at the East India Company. I highly recommend checking out the new Thali menu. Don’t be fooled by the small portions of curries the thalis are very filling, in fact we ended up taking some food home with us. I’ve always enjoyed the food at the East India Company and this menu is no exception. If indoor dining isn’t your thing just yet you can always sit out on their patio where tables are placed a generous distance apart. It should also be noted that all COVID-19 safety measures are strictly followed at the restaurants. All staff wear masks and hand sanitizer is placed on each table. Physical distancing is also in place. You can also order a la carte at the restaurants or place a takeout order.  If you live in Ottawa and haven’t dined at the East India Company I suggest adding it to your list of must do’s in the city.

 

 

 

Oh My Honey Buns

Who doesn’t love something sweet? Well Ottawa friends, if you’re ready to try a sweet treat this Summer check out Oh My Honey Sweet Honeycomb Buns. This Ottawa based business launched just a month ago and has already become a favourite among locals.

Oh My Honey Co bakes and delivers sweet honeycomb buns to residents in the Ottawa/Aylmer area. The buns are so fresh and come in a variety of fillings. You can choose from Nutella, Cream Cheese, half/half or no filling based on your personal preference. I wanted to try the best of both worlds so I opted for half/half. My box came with 6 buns, 3 Nutella and 3 cream cheese.I loved both the cream cheese and Nutella fillings but if I had to choose a favourite it would definitely be the Nutella. Each box of buns also comes with  home made honey syrup which is perfect for dipping.

Honeycomb buns are a traditional East African and Middle Eastern sweet dish typically seen at events or special occasions. They are also eaten as a sweet treat at Breakfast. I had mine for breakfast and the buns pair beautifully with tea or coffee. I would even recommend including them as part of a high tea service.

If you’d like to try these sweet buns for yourself order via DM on their instagram page @ohmyhoneyco The buns cost $20 for a dozen and payment can be done via paypal or e-transfer. The owner Zein is as sweet as the buns she bakes so corresponding with them is a delight 🙂 You can also check the instagram page for order and delivery dates.

 

Custom Phone Cases from Caseapp

I don’t know about you but I use my phone for almost everything. With smartphones being so , well “smart” these days it’s easy to work, connect with friends, email and even invest using just your phone. I’m pretty harsh with my phone as it usually ends up thrown in to the bottom of my Neverfull tote bag everyday.

I’d been looking for durable yet stylish phone cases for a while now so I was thrilled to come across Caseapp. Their website allows you to customize your own phone case and design them to your liking or select from pre-made designs and adapt them to your phone. The site is super easy to navigate and use.

Choose your pre-made phone case in three easy steps:

Step 1 – Select what type of phone – iphone, samsung etc

Step 2 – Select your phone model

Step 3– Filter designs based on colour or theme

Feeling creative? Why not design your own phone case. Simply click the customize button at the top of the site menu and follow the prompts. You can add your own photos or designs to your case as well.

Another interesting feature is that Caseapp also allows you to customize some pre-made designs. I chose two pre-made designs for my cases. My first case is of course you guessed it, something tropical. I loved this palm print design so it was a no brainer for me in choosing this one.

For my second case I took a pre-made design and customized it by adding the name of my blog and website. This is great if you want to create promotional or marketing materials.

You can also choose between a hard or soft shell case. In addition to phone cases Caseapp also lets you design laptop and tablet covers and has a wide range of brands and models to choose from.

If you’d like to design your own phone or laptop/tablet case use my code WKNDFASHIONISTA20  and save 20% off your order.

Thank you Caseapp for sponsoring this post. I love my new phone cases 🙂

Skuish Cookies

Cookies make everyone’s day better! I love baking, so I was thrilled to come across Skuish cookies. This Ottawa based business delivers ready to bake cookies that are easy to make and even more fun to eat!

How to Order

Each box of Skuish cookies contains 12 cookies raw frozen cookies in 3 different flabours. You can’t choose which flavours you get but Skuish does announce “cookie drops” on their website where you can order your box of cookies. The tricky part of the website is that it is only open while cookie supplies last. Once they are sold out of a particular drop the website is closed until the next cookie drop announcement. I think this adds an element of fun to the whole ordering process, it’s like a race to grab your cookies although this may not be everyone’s idea of fun or smart marketing.

The box I received contained the following flavours: double chocolate chip with Cadbury mini eggs, red velvet chocolate chip and Oreo chocolate chip.

How to Bake

The cookies are huge and come already formed in to balls of dough. You need to keep the cookies frozen until you’d like to bake them so there’s no need to defrost your cookies. I recommended baking 1-2 cookies at a time because these cookies are huge and very filling. Each box also comes with baking instructions on the back. It’s best to preheat your oven to 350F.

Although the recommended baking time is 16-18 minutes I suggest baking your cookies for about 20-25 minutes. After 16 mins my cookies were still very soft and doughy. I’d also suggest letting the cookies cool for about 15 minutes before you move them. Try not to break the cookies in half  or “skuish” them before this as they will be very soft and runny.

The Verdict

Skuish cookies are a fun and easy baking activity. They’re great if you’re in the mood for baking but don’t feel like making the dough. They are also handy as a quick treat as you can choose to make one cookie at a time if you wish.  A box of a dozen Skuish cookies however is not cheap and will cost you $43 which is pretty steep for cookies. They are however more of a gourmet treat hence the higher price point. The cookies are jam packed with chocolate chips and treats like Cadbury mini eggs so I found them a little too sweet for my liking. They’re great in moderation though. I also think they’d be great paired with ice cream to balance out the sweetness.

I would still recommend supporting this Ottawa based business and perhaps sharing a box with friends.

 

Preserving Your Perfumes

Christian Dior said that ” a woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting” and if you’re like me then you know how important having a signature scent is. I love perfumes and I must say over the years I collected quite a bit of them. In fact I had more perfumes than I could possibly wear. I’ve since scaled down my collection but as far as scents go my go to perfumes are always Dior.

Perfumes are an investment, they make you feel great and smell even better. Over time perfumes can lose their distinctive scents or evaporate too soon if they aren’t stored properly. I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to make your perfumes last longer so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. Here are some of my tips for preserving your perfumes.

Save the box

Most fragrances come in a box, it’s a good idea to save the original box the scent came in. Perfume bottles are pretty to display but keeping your fragrances in their boxes protects them from sunlight and against moisture in the air.

Keep cool and dry

Store your perfumes in a cool (but not cold) and dry place. This means avoiding sunny places like a windowsill or a dresser top. Sunlight causes perfumes to evaporate and also affects the chemical makeup of the liquid, which could result in an altered scent. You should also keep your perfumes away from heat and humidity which again can alter the chemistry of a scent. It would be wise to stay away from storing your perfumes in the bathroom.

Travel sizes are your friend

Although it might be tempting to take your full size perfume bottles on trips with you the temperature changes in an airplane can affect your perfumes. Most airlines only allow 100ml quantities of liquids in carry on baggage which can make traveling with perfumes a little challenging. Most times you have no choice other than to pack your perfumes in your checked bags, which are stored in a non-temperature controlled compartment and subject to drastic temperature changes. The extremely cold temperatures can alter the chemical makeup of your favourite fragrances. If you love a particular perfume it’s always a good idea to invest in a travel size bottle or pick up a few samples which can easily fit in your carry-on.

Keep them closed

This may sound a little obvious but it’s important to keep your perfume bottles tightly capped. Improperly closed bottles can lead to evaporation so the next time you spray some of your favourite fragrance take a second to cap it tightly.

Places you shouldn’t store your perfumes:

Windowsills

Any place with direct sunlight

The bathroom

Places you should store your perfumes:

Dark closets

Dresser drawers

In the original box

Cupboards

Do you have any perfume tips to share? I’ve linked some of my favourite perfumes below. What’s your favourite?

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Canada Day Outfit Ideas

Canada Day is around the corner and although most of the festivities are cancelled this year, it doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed up and show your Canadian pride. I’ve pulled together four different looks to help you get in the patriotic spirit as you raise a glass to the true north strong and free this July 1st.

Backyard BBQ Chic

I find gingham is a great print for Canada day. For a relaxed casual look I paired a white t-shirt with a cotton gingham print skirt. This look is great for a backyard BBQ or a quiet celebration with family at home. I finished off this casual look with a pair of white mules and accessorized with some red tassel earrings.

Downtown Glam

I came across this adorable one shoulder romper and thought it was perfect for a Canada day look. It’s definitely more of a fun and glamorous look. This is a great option if you’re hoping to check out some patios during the day.  To accessorize I added a straw pompom clutch which I picked up a few Summer’s ago (I’ve linked similar options below the post) and some white bauble earrings.

Picnic in the Park

Another great gingham option is this tie shoulder dress. I love the smocking detail in the top and the flowey skirt. This dress is just perfect for a Canada Day picnic in the park, so I had to accessorize with my picnic basket bag. It’s also a great option on a hot Summer day as the cotton fabric keeps you dry and cool.

Retro Red jumpsuit

When I saw this jumpsuit online it just screamed 80’s to me. I love the rouched waist and one shoulder detail. The padded shoulder and puffed sleeve are such a vibe. If you’re feeling adventurous this Canada Day then this is the outfit for you. Whether you’re having cocktails at home or hitting a patio you’re sure to stand out in this number

Which look is your favourite?

I picked up these Canada Outfits from Shein and I’ve linked them all below. Use my code WKND15 15% and save 15% off all your Shein purchases.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

It’s been a while since my last post! I’ve been very busy with work and of course Instagram. I post a lot more frequently there but I’ve decided to get back to blogging starting this month.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been doing a lot of quarantine baking. I recently made some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, they’re one of Sash’s favourites. I had a lot of questions about them on Instagram so I thought I’d share my recipe 🙂

Here’s what you need:

2 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (make sure it’s soft)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup  granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 and 1/2 cups chopped macadamia nuts

Let’s bake!

1. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer and a large bowl cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract one at a time and mix until fully combined.
3.Slowly mix in the dry ingredients and continue mixing until just combined.
4. Mix in the white chocolate chips and chopped macadamia nuts do this slowly and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5.Cover the cookie dough (I used Saran wrap) and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours. I left mine in the fridge overnight.
6. When you’re ready to bake, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about 15 mins. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
7. Spray cookie sheets with Pam or line with parchment paper.
8. Using a tablespoon scoop out the cookie dough and drop onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave a little room between each ball of cookie dough as they will spread a little while they bake.
9.Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden brown and the tops are set. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes you can then transfer them on to a dish.
Enjoy!

Spring Favourites from Shein

It’s been over a month since my last post and of course a lot has transpired during this time. I’ve been a bit hesitant to post about my fashion finds amidst a pandemic hence the lag between posts. However I found that although physical storefronts have suffered significant losses, virtual storefronts and e-commerce have flourished.

I’ve been shopping online since our lockdown started and been able to find some lovely pieces in the process. I thought I’d share some of my Spring style finds from Shein.

1. Mock neck Swiss dot dress

When I came across this dress online I initially thought it would be perfect for Easter or a Spring High Tea. I was able to wear it out to a high tea prior to the lockdown. I chose it for it for the feminine detail of the dots and the ruffle sleeves. This dress is flowly and comfortable but the tie around the waist helps create some shape and definition. I’d love to wear this out again at some point.

2.  Tribal print dress

I love bright and colourful prints. This dress is so much fun! I found it very comfortable and figure flattering. It makes you look dressed up with minimal effort, the fabric makes you feel like you’re wearing a t-shirt. I would definitely wear this dress well in to the Summer.

3. White off the shoulder dress

When I saw this dress online I knew I had to have it. I didn’t have a white formal dress and this one fit the bill. I love the bardot neckline on this dress. The fabric is stretchy which makes it comfortable to wear. The ruching is also very figure flattering. This dress is great for the day or an evening out (or rather in since we are all staying in at the moment).

What are some of your favourite online style finds?

You can shop all my looks from this post below. Use my promo code WKND15 and save 15% off your Shein purchase.

 

Le Sirenuse Miami

I’m excited to write about one of my favourite places we visited on our trip to Florida. For those of you who may not be aware Sash and I visited Florida at the beginning of February. We spent 3 days in Miami and 3 days in Fort Lauderdale. Prior to leaving we did a lot of research on the places we wanted to visit and created an itinerary for our trip, yes we like to plan everything! One of the places I came across during our research was Le Sirenuse Miami, a restaurant at the Four Seasons Surfside.

The Venue

Le Sirenuse Miami is a restaurant and champagne bar inspired by the Italian hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. The Miami location is famous for its tropical decor with palm trees adorning every inch of the restaurant. The venue features a Champagne Bar and restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.

The Cocktails

 

We decided to stop in at Le Sirenuse for a cocktail in the late afternoon. Aside from its Champagne Bar, Le Sirenuse Miami is famous for its hand crafted cocktails. The restaurant has its own signature cocktails which can be found on their Amore Eterno menu.

We were fortunate to get seated on the terrace overlooking the hotel pool and the ocean. It was so nice to sit outside and enjoy a cocktail while we looked out at the sea.  I was really excited to try the cocktails at Le Sirenuse.

Seeing as how there was a Champagne Bar I opted for one of their Champagne based cocktails. The Champagne cocktails are named after famous guests who have stayed at Le Sirenuse such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Church Hill. I chose the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and was told that it was one of their most popular cocktails, especially for ladies. This was a light and sweet cocktail topped off with elderflower foam and garnished with a flower.

Sash generally prefers something on the stronger side so he decided to go with Mandolini Di Sorrento a bourbon based cocktail. This drink is named in honour of Andrea and Franco, a mandolin and guitar duo who have been fixtures at Le Sirenuse Positano’s  La Sponda restaurant since 1993.

We really enjoyed our experience at Le Sirenuse Miami. If you are ever in the vicinity I highly recommend stopping by and checking it out. Although items on the menus are quite pricey, the ambiance and decor are well worth the splurge.

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