Souk Tabule

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of brunching with a group of awesome Toronto bloggers at a popular spot in the Canary District, Souk Tabule. Souk Tabule is a fast casual location under the Tabule family of restaurants, serving up delicious Middle Eastern and Lebanese dishes. Of the huge selection of places to brunch in Toronto, this was a refreshingly unique option, and definitely worth the visit!

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We arrived bright and early at 10:30 am to beat the crowd, and basically had the restaurant to ourselves, which was lovely. I loved the decor of the restaurant, which was a beautiful mix of modern design, blue and white accents, and the most gorgeous wall art!

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Guests order and pay for their food off the extensive menu at the front counter, and then have seat where the meal is served to them. Souk Tabule offers a regular menu along with all-day brunch. We ended up ordering a wide selection off the menu, including the Chef’s Sampler to share. This included a variety of vibrant and flavourful Middle Eastern dips and starters: babaganouj, labni, muhamara, beet mutable, quinoa tabule and arabic slaw. This was served with the restaurant’s house-made saj bread.

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Amongst our table we had a mouthwatering spread of the Shakshuka, Hallum on a Brioche, Canary Salad, Phoenician Fries and the Akkawi and Roasted Tomato Omelette. The restaurant also has a great drink menu, including the refreshing mint lemonade that I tried.

I had the Shakshuka, a dish of eggs baked with roasted tomato and red pepper sauce. This is one of my favourite things to eat at brunch, and Souk Tabule’s version did not disappoint. It was tangy, filling, and luscious from all the egg yolk and the dollop of labni (a creamy yogurt dip) it included.

I also have to mention this one of the first times I’ve gotten to hang out with other Toronto bloggers – and it was such a blast! There’s nothing like being with like-minded people (who are just as serious about taking pictures of their food as you are). It was an amazing feeling to take a million shots of my meal without being judged, lol!

Check out some of the awesome ladies I brunched with and send them some love:

 

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Bedroom Décor Ideas: Cozy Corner Finds Under $30

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I’m super excited to announce that I’ve partnered with Sleep Country Canada for the launch of their Bloom mattress – a new “mattress-in-a-box” product that’s delivered to your door and blooms in only 15 seconds! As an advocate of all things convenient, I love the idea of a mattress that’s easy to set up, can fit into tight spaces (like up a flight of stairs or in the trunk of your car), and is super comfy to boot. You can view a video of me setting up my own mattress here.

To celebrate the launch, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts over the next few months highlighting different ways to decorate your bedroom, from the affordable cozy corner finds listed in this post, to simple DIYs you can use to spice up your space. I personally like to change up my decor quite frequently, so I love finding affordable ways to add a personal touch that won’t be hard to switch out over time.

All of the items in the photos below were under $30, including the pieces I used to serve as my bedside table! Keep scrolling to see more, and for a list of the products featured:

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Cozy Corner Finds

1. BEKVÄM Step Stool, IKEA ($19.99)

This step stool poses as the perfect faux bedside table – the steps serve as shelves, and for $20, it’s super affordable and low commitment. I had already had the stool in the birch coloured wood lying around the house, but actually would have preferred the white wood that’s currently available online.

2. VÄNSKAPLIG Cushion, IKEA ($9.99)

One of the easiest ways to personalize a space is to add accent pillows or cushions in fun shades and patterns. I love a great pop of colour and couldn’t resist this adorable heart shaped cushion I picked up at IKEA.

3. String Lights

A classic Pinterest bedroom staple! Any shape, size or style of string lights will instantly add a dreamy, cozy vibe to your corner. I just used a standard string of white Christmas lights that I already had on hand to dress up my area.

4. Mason Jar

There’s something about a mason jar that just has awesome aesthetic appeal. You can find them new for next to nothing at your local dollar store, or you can hunt for vintage jars (often tinged a pretty blue colour) at the flea market like I did. Use them as a vase for flowers, or fill them with fairy lights for a swoon-worthy nightlight.

5. Succulents

I love succulents! I actually scored the artificial one I used in the photos above from the Dollar Spot at Target, but you can find tons of cute options online for cheap. Whether plastic or the real deal, these little guys breathe life into your decor and provide a much needed dose of greenery.

6. Wooden Crate

This was the other piece that acted as a furnishing element of my setup. Wooden crates are super inexpensive at your local craft store and add a rustic chic touch to your design.

7. Faux Fur Throw

An easy way to make your cozy corner super comfy? Incorporating your favourite throws and blankets. Storing them beside your bed makes them easy to access while also prettying up the space. The one I featured is actually a faux fur rug that I like to keep clean and out of the way for flatlay backdrops!

8. My Cinema Lightbox Mini, Indigo ($29.50)

I’m totally loving the lightbox trend, and this mini model is only $30 at Indigo. Besides adding an awesome retro feel to your bedroom, the best part is that you can customize the message to say anything you’d like.

9. SMYCKA Artificial Leaf, IKEA ($9.99)

Another affordable way to add some greenery into your space, this artificial palm leaf is a great statement piece that will totally make you feel like you’re relaxing in a tropical destination.

10. Photos

Photos instantly personalize your bedroom, and surrounding yourself with pictures of the memories and people you love can really help build a positive environment. I’m a sucker for these little instant photos and the look of the classic Polaroid frame.

11. Your favourite coffee table books

Coffee table books serve double duty – practical to read, but also super pretty to look at! If you have a collection of your favourite books, your cozy corner is the perfect place to display them. I’ve been loving “Capture Your Style” by Aimee Song.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to decorate my space over the next few months, and hope you’ll be able to find some inspiration for your own bedrooms throughout the process! If you liked any of these ideas or have your own cozy corner favourites, let me know in the comment section below.

 

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Review: MissFresh Food Subscription Box

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Working a full-time job, balancing a social life, and trying to eat healthy is no easy task – so when the concept of ready-to-cook food subscription boxes started popping up everywhere recently, it definitely peaked my interest! The idea behind a food subscription box is that you can choose a meal from a list of options, and you’ll be sent all the ingredients you need (in the precise proportions) to cook a quick, healthy meal at home.

Montreal based company MissFresh recently reached out to me, offering me the chance to test out their service and some of their recipes. The menu changes each week, and offers a range of different cuisines and dishes to suit your individual tastes. All of the ingredients come in an insulated box (so they don’t spoil while being shipped to you), and are accompanied by a recipe card with the instructions on how to cook each meal.

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A funny (mostly sad) story about my experience – the fridge in my home broke the day after I received my shipment! I was able to cook the first meal without a problem, but unfortunately lost the meat and dairy components of the second and third dishes. I picked up what I could of what was missing from the grocery store, and I think the recipes still turned out quite well. Of course this detracted from the convenience of it all, but I still wanted to see the dishes through and to test the recipes out.

Read my review of each dish below, as well as the MissFresh service as a whole!

Recipe 1: Lemony Rapini and Sausages

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This meal was tasty and easy to make, however I noticed immediately that the instruction cards that come with the ingredients aren’t as in depth as I’d like them to be. I found myself wondering what heat to have the pan at during some stages, and ended up Googling at times to compensate for the recipe. That being said, I’m definitely a novice chef, and I think more experienced cooks would have an easier time. I ended up overcooking the veggies a bit, sacrificing some of the texture of the meal. The dish had quite a tart finish (from the lemon juice), but the sausage meat added a flavourful punch against the slightly bitter rapini.

Recipe 2: Creamy Leek Polenta

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This was the most difficult dish of the three to make. Again, I felt the instructions on the card could have been more clear (especially since I’ve never made polenta before!) and I ended up with a bit of a hard, lumpy mess instead of the creamy texture that it was supposed to be. Oh well, you live and you learn! The dish still had good flavour, and was definitely filling, but unfortunately I struggled on execution.

Recipe 3: Calamari Whole Wheat Pasta

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My favourite of the three recipes, this surprisingly hearty dish hit the perfect balance with wine, garlic, and tender calamari. The instructions were easy to follow, and the portions were generous. The recipe called for raisins, but I ended up leaving them out as they’re not my favourite ingredient to use.

Overall I was pretty happy with my experience, although I did notice some of the ingredients that were sent weren’t the best quality. For example the rapini that arrived had already started to go bad in parts, and I ended up having to toss half. If I had paid full price for the service, I’m not sure it would have been worth it. However I do love the idea of being able to create healthy meals at home, under 30 minutes – especially with a busy schedule. Skipping the line at the grocery store is definitely super convenient!

There are a number of food box subscriptions on the market now that often offer a discount on the first order of the service. If you struggle with meal planning and have difficulty finding the time to cook for yourself, I definitely recommend you look into the different companies out there!

Do you have experience with food subscription boxes? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

 

Spring Outfit Inspiration

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Spring has finally sprung in Toronto, and one of my favourite things about the warmer weather is the outfits! It’s finally time to break out the colour, pretty blouses, and to ditch the winter coat. Cherry blossom madness recently hit the city, with hoards of people flocking to High Park, Trinity Bellwoods and other popular spots to get a glimpse of the pretty petals. I did venture one weekend to High Park, but was disappointed to find that the blossoms hadn’t fully opened yet. I had heard that Robarts Library near the U of T had some stunning trees of their own, so decided to stop by – it definitely lived up to the hype!

The outfit I styled below is an easy spring look, incorporating two trends I’m currently loving: off the shoulder tops and frayed denim. My favourite thing about this blouse (besides the pretty colour) is the sleeves – they add a feminine boho vibe to the look, perfect for the spring!

Top – Forever 21 / Frayed Denim – Zara / Blush Slip-Ons – Target

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The Best Brunch Spots in Toronto

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If I had to choose my favourite meal, it would hands down be brunch. It’s the perfect time to indulge in something sweet, something savoury, or a little bit of both. It’s also socially acceptable to have an alcoholic beverage before 2pm, which is okay in my books!

There was a period of time where you would find me brunching every weekend – and I mean every weekend. I’ve since cut back, after realizing a weekly eggs benny isn’t the most practical for your wallet (or your waistline)! However I did determine a few of my favourite brunch spots in Toronto after trying many of the popular restaurants in the city.

Here are my favourite spots for brunch in Toronto:

Wish 3 Charles St E

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Wish wins the award for the most instagramable and aesthetically pleasing brunch spot in the city. Make sure to book a reservation (and cross your fingers that you’ll land a spot on the adorable patio), because this place gets slam packed on weekends. The service can be hit or miss, and the crowd can be snooty, but the food is definitely tasty. I recommend the classic eggs benny, angus burger, or avocado toast!

The Good Fork2432 Bloor St W

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This is my pick for the most delicious, all-around menu. While I’m more of a savoury than sweet girl myself, there’s a great selection here and something for everybody. I can personally vouch for the ‘Daisy’ Benny and their take on Huevos Rancheros, but have also heard amazing things about their Red Velvet Pancakes. This is another spot that gets super packed on weekends, but unfortunately they don’t take reservations. I recommend visiting during off-peak hours so you’re not waiting around forever – however they do text you when your table is ready, which is a nice touch. It’s a bit out of the way in the West end, but definitely worth the journey!

The Starving Artist multiple locations

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If eggs benny is your brunch go-to, you’ll love this hip spot with three locations in the city. The ‘B. Benny’ is my spirit animal in benny form – poached eggs and caramalized bacon served on potato waffles. Yes, savoury waffles made from potatoes – my dream vehicle for receiving egg-y, bacon-y, deliciousness. I’ve visited their St Clair location which is a big, bright space with artwork from local artists hung on the walls. The music was a bit too intense the day I visited, but it was still an enjoyable experience. The Starving Artist is cash only, so come prepared!

Smith553 Church St

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Smith is a super cool spot in the Village with upper and lower dining rooms, as well as a patio space. The brunch rush is always hopping, which is a great sign when it comes to food. They serve up generous portions of delicious dishes (the brisket hash is my pick!), and the atmosphere is trendy and inviting. I have yet to be seated on their cute little patio, but will definitely be making it a priority this summer once the weather warms up!

Cafe Neon1024 Queen St W

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The Queen West outfit of this hip eatery (its other location in the Junction) is somewhat unassuming – the first time I walked by, it blended in with the local coffee shops. However upon closer inspection, I realized that the cafe actually had a larger dining room towards the back and I stopped in for brunch. Though the menu is quite small, it definitely hits all the brunch classics – pancakes, omelettes, and the usual fare. I was pleasantly surprised by their version of eggs benny, which included succulent pulled pork. The portions were large and everything was super yummy!

Barque Smokehouse299 Roncesvalles Ave

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Smoked. Duck. Pancakes. This is what first drew me to Barque – and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. If you’re into barbeque, you’ll love this restaurant. They offer a unique take on traditional brunch staples, all featuring their delicious barbeque – pulled pork, ribs, brisket and more. Their smoked duck panacakes come in a heaping portion smothered with a sweet blueberry compote and rich whipped goat cheese. I’m still dreaming about this meal. Barque is another place that gets super busy, but they do take reservations. Book ahead to avoid the wait!

I know what you’re thinking – where’s Mildred’s Temple Kitchen? Where’s Portland Variety? Sadly I haven’t yet made it out to some of the city’s most talked about brunch spots – simply because of the lines! It’s definitely on my bucket list for the next year to try out more places so I can fully assess and nail down my list of top spots. For now, these are my tried and true recommendations for some tasty brunch eats.

Let me know where your favourite place to brunch is in the comments below!

Sudio Sweden Regent Headphones

 

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I’ve never owned a pair of wireless headphones – but recently Sudio Sweden, a Swedish audio brand, reached out to me about reviewing one of their products. After browsing through their site, I immediately fell in love with their “Regent” style in white – a beautiful pair of wireless on-ear headphones featuring stylish gold accents and a sleek design.

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One of the things I love most about these headphones is how cute they are! The Regent features the ability to change out the headphone caps, and I just had to have the white marble style. Besides looking adorable, they also deliver on sound quality, providing crisp and clear audio for easy listening.

The main features of the headphones include:

  • 24+ hours of continuous playtime
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Built-in microphone and 3 button remote
  • Interchangeable caps to match your style

As someone who’s constantly traveling (whether commuting every day to and from work by subway, or flying out to visit friends in other cities), having the ability to listen to music in high quality is super important to me. While the headphones aren’t completely noise cancelling, they definitely do a great job of muffling background noise in comparison to the standard in-ear buds I’m used to. This is perfect for airplanes, noisy subways, and longer periods of time when you just want to get into your music and relax.

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Another great feature is the wireless design – I don’t have to deal with getting tangled up in wires, especially on crowded trains! This will also come in super handy if I eventually decide to upgrade to the iPhone 7. The headphones come with a charging cable, and once fully charged will last 24+ hours. For forgetful people like me, the headphones also come with an audio cable (just in case) that can be plugged into your device in the traditional way. I love the flexibility of this, and that I don’t have to worry if I forget to charge them the night before.

The only downside about the pair I selected is that I have to be careful about makeup/foundation stains on the pristine white ear pads – but it’s totally worth it for how adorable they look! I highly recommend Sudio if you’re looking to try a pair of wireless headphones and are also on the lookout for something stylish. If you’re not into the look of on-ear headphones, Sudio also offers a number of other earphone options.

Use my code “angelaxo” for 15% off your purchase!

 

Denim Day x GUESS

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Today is Denim Day: an international movement that began in LA in 1999 to raise awareness and end sexual violence. The campaign was originally started after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court, where a rape conviction was overturned because the court felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.

Peace Over Violence started the Denim Day campaign to acknowledge and stand up to the sexual violence that happen globally each day – and to support survivors worldwide. In 2014, GUESS made Denim Day its first social cause marketing campaign, spreading the word about this issue to a worldwide audience. The tagline of the Denim Day campaign is powerful: “there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape”.

I’ve partnered with GUESS to contribute to this campaign by making a social statement with my fashion statement. Wearing denim has become a symbol of protest against destructive attitudes attached to sexual violence and its cause. Today I wear denim with a purpose – to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by sexual violence.

Discussing sexual violence, domestic violence, and child abuse is often taboo, particularly with mine, and the younger generation. I think it’s important to open up a conversation to help those who may be suffering in silence or may not feel like they can come forward (anyone watching 13 Reasons Why?). I’m happy to be using my voice to shed light on this tough and important issue.

When I shot this outfit, I felt the beautiful blooms on the cherry blossom trees were the perfect fit to represent hope for a future. Spring signifies a fresh start, and also serves as a beautiful metaphor for the recovery and rebirth of those who survive sexual violence with the love and support of others.

See my Denim Day look below:

Denim Jacket – Guess / T-shirt – Wilfred Free, Aritzia / Jeans – J Brand / Shoes – Shellys

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