Dear Diary

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I have a really hard time with any sort of waste – I loathe throwing out groceries and feel ashamed when I lose track of an item in my closet, totally unaware I even own it. In my case, the most shameful on this list of “forgotten treasures” is my massive jewelry collection.

I come from a long line of women (and men) who love the sparkle. My dad’s side specifically subscribes to the “all gold everything” rule, and in a way jewelry always brought my grandparents and I together, especially my grandmother Joanne.

My grandma taught me a lot of who I am today – we both adored the sun, and I spent almost every winter growing up by her side in Palm Springs eating fruit, soaking up the heat, and combing local flea markets for coveted treasures. She had impeccable style, somehow always managing to look fun and classy at the same time, and I was always so proud to introduce myself as her granddaughter. In recent years I’ve been told we share the same taste in cocktails, and I wish more than anything we could’ve had the chance to get tipsy and talk woman to woman about all the strange surprises of adult life.

Sadly, I never got the chance. When we lost my grandmother to dementia about five years ago, I flew home from Vancouver with a broken heart and a handful of the treasures I had gazed at with longing my entire life: a heavy charm bracelet with tiny momentos from every beautiful place my grandmother had been, an intricate gilded ship complete with glimmering sails strung upon a simple chain. Perhaps most painfully, the engagement ring my grandfather had given her when they were only 18.

Unfortunately things had turned sour between my grandpa and I over the years leading up to my grandmother’s passing. I won’t get into it too much here, maybe in the next post in this series, but it suffices to say that when I lost her, I felt like I had lost both of them, and everything I had believed about their marriage. As a romantic, this was hard to swallow, and when I got back home to Toronto I tucked my grandmother’s treasures away in a box under my bed along with all of hurt I was feeling.

When I was in California this past winter, following a snowbird tradition my grandparents had honoured every year I knew them, I found myself thinking of those beautiful treasures, gathering dust with no chance to sparkle. I almost felt panicked that I had left them, abandoned them in the shadows, something my grandma would definitely have frowned upon. As soon as I got home, I scheduled a meeting with my dear friends at BluBoho to launch a new project centred around giving forgotten treasures a new spot in the sun.

Again, this is only the first post of the series so I don’t want to give it all away upfront, but together we’re going to be talking about jewelry care, curation, and crafting new pieces from those that have become outdated and unwanted. The ladies at BluBoho and I strongly believe that jewelry should serve as memory markers, as glittering moments spun into something solid, and even if those memories have shifted or soured, the memories can always be spun into something special and new.

Comment below if there’s anything specific you’d like to learn about building the ultimate jewelry collection, or just come along with us for the *sparkly* ride!

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Dear Diary

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Of all the phrases that can be used to describe me as a human being, none is more true than “No Chill”. I am the opposite of chill in every capacity, from emotional stability to the way I workout, and above all things I have the hardest time slowing down and learning to just be still.

I am not zen, I am not relaxed and sometimes I worry I’m going to grind my teeth down to tiny stubs in my sleep.

I mentioned my attempts to take on a more “chill” demeanour in my previous post about LA (the land of the chill), but I wanted to do an update and share what’s been working best for me now that I’ve been home for a bit and the seasons are finally starting to shift. It’s the perfect time to make changes, to adapt healthy habits and switch from comfort food to clean food. Here’s what’s working for me:

Scroll down for the list!

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Stay Hydrated // I know everyone says this for pretty much everything, but I can’t stress staying hydrated enough. The infused water trend is a Pinterest favourite right now, but if you don’t have time to infuse with 100 kinds of fancy fruit or you’re on the go, Oasis Infusion does the job! Infused with fruits, herbs and flowers, and then topped off with a hint of fresh juice, these beauties have no sugar added and can be found at grocery stores everywhere you turn. My favourite flavour is obviously Strawberry Hibiscus Basil, but all 3 are seriously refreshing.

Grow a Green Thumb // I’ve been loading up my new apartment with plants and I’m hoping at some point it starts to look more like a scene from Jumanji than a Toronto condo. My good friend Tellie from Hunt and Gather helped me out with picking out some “hard to kill” houseplants, and I’ll be sharing my green thumb wisdom here soon!

Back to the Books // Getting lost in the mind of someone else is the easiest way to take a step back from your own busy life. I’m currently reading “One Day We’ll All be Dead and None of This Will Matter” by Scaachi Koul, and it’s the perfect book for taking in snippets of wisdom and laughter when you don’t have too much time on your hands.

On a Roll // Exercise always automatically takes my stress-level from 1000 to 0, and this Spring I’m investing my time mainly into Climbing and Cycling. With brand new gear from my pals at MEC, I’ve been heading up to Basecamp Climbing to test my strength on the walls, and now that the weather is warming up I can start to bike to and from the gym too! Seeya stress!

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This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please email jess@shineinfluencers.com

Dear Diary

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I think we can all agree Toronto needs more pink places. Johanna and I have exhausted the few the city has to offer, and we’re always begging anyone we can get to listen to paint at least a portion of their home/business/office to help our cause.

We’re long time fans of Sweet Jesus and their incredible turquoise colour scheme (a much-needed addition to the doom and gloom of downtown Toronto.) We had been planning to visit their newest location at Yonge and Eglington for months, but somehow the dates kept slipping away, and before we knew it I was in California and the amazing Sweet Jesus soft serve was an entire continent away.

keep reading…

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By the time I got back I had a pretty serious craving for a vegan cone of any sort from the city’s favourite soft serve magicians, and it turns out waiting a couple months had only sweetened the deal – in the same massive building at Yonge and Eglington there was now a La Carnita (our favourite tacos in TO) and Good Fortune, a new PINK cocktail bar.

We’re generally pretty strictly downtown west-side girls, but this perfect trifecta is absolutely worth the trek. Our first course consisted of Sweet Jesus ice cream (I went for a vegan bounty-bar inspired cone and seriously lost my mind!), and for the second course we headed down the steps to the plant-filled pink oasis that is Good Fortune. Though there’s certainly competition, this is my new favourite cocktail bar in the city. There’s a peachy cocktail with a diamond-shaped ice cube that turns the drink pink! There’s a cotton candy cocktail! There are SLUSHIES! In case liquids aren’t your thing, there are also some pretty tasty snacks, AND you can order anything you like from the La Carnita menu upstairs. Yeah, it’s like a pink heaven just north of downtown, and apparently things can even get a little dancy up there on the weekends (in case you’re wondering where to find us…)

Final note: We loved Good Fortune so much that we decided to start a hashtag in an attempt to celebrate all of Toronto’s pink places, and maybe even inspire business owners to create more! Jump onboard and tag your photos too? #PinkPlacesTO!

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Dear Diary

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There’s nothing like a fresh start, especially when fruity scented cleaning supplies and nifty organizational tools are involved. I am a proud proclaimed neat freak, and moving into a new space of my own this time of year has prompted something I’ve always wanted to do: the ULTIMATE Spring Clean.

Going from multi-level apartment with a room mate to one bedroom condo automatically meant I needed to cut down about 1/4 of my belongings, and by the end of my purge I think I was probably left with less than half. I sold what I could, and then filled a friend’s Prius to the BRIM with everything that was left (if you ever have things to offload, St. Felix House is always in desperate need!)

With most of the baggage from my past behind me, I walked into my new apartment with less than I’ve owned in a long, long time, determined only to bring new things in that really bring something to the table. Here’s what I invested in to keep my new home minimal, organized, and clean!

Scroll down for my picks, and to shop the post!

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The Laundress – I love doing the laundry, especially when beautiful laundry products are involved. The Laundress has your clothing covered, from delicate wash and stain solution, to
static solution and crease release (particularly helpful with wrinkled sheets!)

Mrs.Meyers Clean Day – One of our go-to brands, Mrs.Meyers Clean Day never fails to impress with bright packaging, uplifting scents and most importantly, great natural cleaning power. This Spring I’m especially into Honeysuckle counter spray & lavender dish soap

Hasegawa Lucano Mint 2 step ladder – vertical space is key when it comes to storage in small living quarters, but if you’re on the shorter side it can lead to a lot of risky chair balancing acts. Luckily I found a step ladder so cute that I want to keep it out!

Parachute Home sateen sheet set – Am I the only one who has spent most of my life dreaming of finding the perfect sheet set? This silky set named after my favourite place in the world finally put my search to bed.

Herban Essentials Cleaning Wipes – these handy essential oil wipes can be used for just about everything, from makeup remover to dryer sheets that lightly scent your laundry!

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Neat Freak Organization – as a self-proclaimed “Neat Freak”, this brand definitely speaks to me. As mentioned above, vertical space is everything, so these 4 tier velvet hangers have been a life saver. Shoes have also proven to be a bit of a hurdle, but thanks to this over the door shoe hanger I have more than enough space for a pair and a spare! Honorable mention: fresh scented Storage drawers!

Simple Human Rose Gold Garbage Cans – All that glitters CAN be gold, even your garbage cans! Having these gleaming beauties makes taking out the trash much more glamorous, and displaying them means I have more cupboard space where I would usually try to hide trash away. I got the
Baby size for the bathroom and the bigger size for the kitchen and I couldn’t be happier with the investment.

Yellow Birdies Slippers – Cleaning up (and just about everything else) is more fun with cute slippers! This cheery yellow pair is the perfect addition to my collection, and they keep me from sliding all over the place while pushing around the vacuum etc.

Dear Diary

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As most of you know by now, I have moved, but what very few of you know is why and how this all happened so fast. Sometimes you choose change, and sometimes it chooses you – which was the case this time around.

I was happily enjoying my time in California when Jo called to inform me that #ThePastelPalace was flooding. The landlord would do nothing, the entire roof of the building was shot, and we had to move. Soon.

I came home from California and hit the ground running – I hired a real estate agent (she was awesome! You can find her here!) and saw as many places as I could in the span of a few days. I applied for a mortgage, but in the end decided to try renting in a newer building before investing in one. Though I’ve always been super resistant to condo living, a long string of housing issues has lead to over 12 moves in the span of 7 years, and this time around I decided to take the leap and try something new.

I ended up landing just that – a brand new condo in one of Toronto’s busiest areas, a unit that no one had ever lived in before in a building that’s still being completed. It couldn’t have been more of a change, but with all the other changes I had taken by the horns so far this year, I jumped in with both feet.

And then, the matter of actually moving…

scroll down to keep reading

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I used to be the master of packing and unpacking, and though the latter has stuck, I find myself more and more paralyzed when it comes to packing up. I get anxious about what I’ll need, when I’ll need it, how to prevent my favourite things from breaking… the list of worries goes on and on. With all the massive emotional baggage I was already carrying about leaving a place where so many dreams had been hatched and lost, I simply couldn’t take on any more weight.

For the first time in my life, I hired proper movers. The best movers in the city at that.

Cargo Cabbie has been voted best movers in Toronto for the past 6 years, and after spending a day with them it’s easy to see why. A team of their three best came in on time (actually, ahead of schedule), helped me pack all my belongings properly, and guided me through the quickest and easiest move I’ve ever experienced. They were so caring with my treasures, and even convinced me to try their plastic bins, which I LOVED. These stackable buckets fit a ton, are easier to carry than an awkward box, and they’re totally reusable. Plus when you’re finished unpacking them, Cargo Cabbie comes right on over to scoop them up – mess and waste free! I can not rave enough about this part of the service.

So how do I feel now, after making the big move?

Change is never easy, good or bad, but this particular shift has without a doubt been crucial. It’s the official start to a new chapter, after escaping the city for a few months to get a bit of myself back. Now, I get to cultivate that self – give it a place to grow and thrive and become so much more than it ever was. I’m a stronger version of who I was, a forever altered Alyssa, and this new home is my fortress and mine alone.

I couldn’t be more grateful for where I am, and what lies ahead in this fresh new space.

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