Catching up with the Queen’s Mum

As I am sure many other twenty-somethings would agree, one of the most popular ways to socialize and catch up with old friends is to meet up for some good food at one of Toronto’s many restaurants.

I recently met up with three friends who I became very close with during my four years at McMaster University. It was Asha’s turn to pick and she suggested we get together at Queen Mother Cafe. As the name implies, this restaurant is located on Queen St, just steps west of University Ave (and Osgoode Station). I was slightly shocked that I had never visited or even heard of this restaurant before given the countless times I have walked past it over the last ten plus years; it really goes to show just how saturated (yet ever-changing) the restaurant industry is in this city we call home.

I was the last to arrive and felt like I was in a maze to find my friends who were on the other end of the restaurant. The set-up for Queen Mother is strange; because there are stairs to a lower level right in the middle of the restaurant, it is one big U-shape that you need to navigate around. None the less, I eventually found my friends who had a table by the window.

The restaurant was packed and I’m surprised that we didn’t have to wait for a table. However, the servers felt the pinch of the busy restaurant and our service was quite slow. It took a considerable amount of time for our first drink order, have the drinks delivered, order food, receive our food and finally pay our bills.

Although service was slow, the menu made up for it. I started with a vegetable lentil soup and then split two salads with Asha; she ordered the kale, roasted tomato and green lentil, while I ordered the quinoa salad. Mixing the two salads into one was probably one of the best decisions I made all evening; the fusion was absolutely phenomenal. Asha chose not to mix hers and commented that they were equally as delicious solo. Portions ended up being considerably larger than I expected and if I had known this, I probably would have skipped the soup; although I’m glad I got to try it. Everything on the menu seemed to be fairly reasonably priced. My meal was under $20 which is usually rare when ordering more than one item. Check out how yummy it all looks:

Vegetable Lentil Soup

Vegetable Lentil Soup

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

Kale, Roasted Tomato and Green Lentil Salad

Kale, Roasted Tomato and Green Lentil Salad

In terms of atmosphere, this was a great place to catch up. Although the restaurant was very busy during our visit, the noise level was bearable and I could easily hear what the rest of my table was saying. When all was said and done, I was happy that Asha introduced me to this spot; I will definitely be back.

Have you been to Queen Mother Cafe, what did you think? What other restaurants around the city would you like me visit?

For more information on Queen Mother, visit: http://www.queenmothercafe.ca

Where, with who, and how to live in TO

As a twenty-something who’s looking to move out, it’s important to focus on where, with who, and how to live in the city. For me, these items were heavy on my mind for a considerable amount of time before I swapped my lifelong family roommates for someone new.

First, think about where you would like to live. It’s important to move to a neighbourhood and living environment that you’re comfortable with and is convenient for your lifestyle. For me, I knew I needed to live in an apartment because I needed parking (while most houses will say they have access to parking in their online posting, most property managers will later tell you to just get a street permit) – this meant I likely wasn’t living in the Annex or Ossington. I also knew I wanted to downtown versus midtown or somewhere too east or west along the Bloor line.

Second, it’s important to seriously consider who you would like to live with. As much as I love my best friends, there are some of them I know I absolutely could never live with. Some people know they want to live alone, but I knew I’d get lonely without a roommate. When I was first planning to move to the city I intended to live with one of my girlfriends from school, but it didn’t work out and I ended up living with an acquaintance. Although Mike and I didn’t know each other very well, before we made the final decision to move in together, we had a serious and honest conversation. We provided our expectations of each other, lifestyle choices and regular routines. So far, so good. Communication is important.

Lastly, it’s important to plan how to live. When I first moved out on my own, I quickly discovered that I could not live the same way I did when living with Mom & Dad. The reality is rent eats a significant portion of my paycheck, and most twenty-somethings have a similar experience. I definitely had to cut down my spending, but it gets easier and easier each month. A few tips:

  • walk as much as possible, take the TTC when needed, but try to avoid cabs at all costs;
  • while it’s okay to eat out every now and then, go grocery shopping and pack lunches;
  • visit the sale rack; and
  • always ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

Believe me, your wallet will thank you.

Do you have any tips for adjusting to moving out of the nest? Please share 🙂

It’s Raining Grilled Cheese in Kensington

Today,  my friend Lisa and I headed to the streets of Toronto in search for some comfort food given the dismally rainy day.

We ended up at The Grilled Cheese; located in Kensington on Nassaua, just west of Agusta.

When we first arrived at our destination, which was recommended by my roommate, we were unsure. At first glance, it appears as somewhat of a hole in the wall, mind you, as does most of the area. None the less, we decided to enter the restaurant and it had a really rustic, but cool, vibe. When we first arrived there was one other customer, but even though it was middle of the afternoon the place ended up being filled with people by the time we left.

The menu consisted of approximately ten grilled cheese options. I ordered the BLACK JACK, which was $6, and added avocado and bacon, which were an extra $2 each. As you can likely tell from the photo below, it was delicious. I really enjoyed the olive pesto, which was something I certainly never imagined including on my standard grilled cheese. My meal also came with a side of rippled potato chips and a big juicy pickle – two perfect pairings for grilled cheese. The meal was nothing short of amazing; reasonably priced, tasty and fulfilled my desire for comfort food. I would definitely go back.

TheGrilledCheese

My delicious BLACK JACK, yumm!

One key thing to keep in mind is that this is a CASH only restaurant, which I was not aware of and resulted in Lisa buying my lunch (Thanks Leese 🙂 ).

After lunch we decided to do a bit of shopping in Kensington. I ended up getting an awesome pair of earrings at Kid Icarus, but we wrapped our afternoon up quickly due to the rain.

Sadly, The Grilled Cheese doesn’t have a website I can share with you, but while I was hunting for it I came across an old BlogTO post naming The Grilled Cheese as the top spot to get grilled cheese in the city. Check the article out here: http://www.blogto.com/toronto/the_best_grilled_cheese_sandwich_in_toronto/

Get in touch, with Uniiverse.

Hi Blogisphere 🙂

I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend!!

My friend Kelsey recently shared the link to a new hybrid social-networking/events site known as Uniiverse and I thought I’d share it with my friends of the world wide web. The two i’s are not a typo; they represent two people coming together, which is what the site is all about.

Uniiverse is a networking platform which allows you to ‘discover’ and ‘create’ a variety of social gatherings to share which are posted online and attended in person. Upon first visiting the site, there were a variety of events – from cooking classes, comedy shows, professional mixers and more! The site also shows where the venue is, how far it is from your current location and how many people have signed up through Uniiverse so far.

The site also automatically logged into my Facebook account (which is automatically logged onto my laptop), this way I can see which events my friends are attending.

Like most things in life, the majority of these events are not free. However, for the most part, the events I saw were less than $50 and some were even free. Not only that, but you can safely pay online with your credit card. Extremely convenient.

There are so many options to choose from, I’m not sure what I want to attend first!! But rest assured, although currently indecisive, I will ultimately choose something to attend and be sure to share it here on #twentiesTO.

(Courtesy of  collaborativeliving)

Have you used Uniiverse before? I’d love to hear your feedback 🙂

For more information on Uniiverse, visit: http://www.uniiverse.com/

Jumpin’ Around

As I continue further and further into my twenties, I’ve come to the realization that going to the clubs every weekend isn’t as fun as it used to be – and my friends have noticed this too. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve started looking for new and unique ways to celebrate our birthdays, many trying as hard as possible to avoid the clubs on King Street. It seems that our ‘new and unique’ search has more or less resulted in us celebrating in ways we missed out on as kids, or even just reliving them.

This past weekend, my cousin Rob celebrated his 27th birthday. For this very special occasion, we ditched the club and headed to Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. It was awesome. I joined Rob and 18 of his closest friends to bounce around for an hour of fun, followed by a party room with pizza, unlimited fountain drinks and a very special The Nightmare Before Christmas (Rob’s favourite movie)-themed cake!

And this wasn’t your average trampoline fun, there was a twist! Not only did we bounce around for the hour, but we played dodge ball while doing it. Although we continued to rotate our teams, trampoline dodge ball ended up becoming quite competitive – with people leaving the court dripping in sweat.

Preparing for Dodge Ball fun!

Preparing for Dodge Ball fun!

Overall, a great time was had by all. If you’re looking for something fun and active for an upcoming event, perhaps even a team builder, I would strongly recommend this venue.

Following trampoline dodge ball a few of us headed to a friends condo to catch up and play Cards Against Humanity. A successful night, without the post-birthday hangover.

The Group!

The Group!

Have any other ‘non clubbing’ birthday ideas? Let me know, perhaps you’ll see your idea in a future birthday blog post!

Today is Rob’s actually birthday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERT!!

Rob's Awesome Birthday Cake!

Rob’s Awesome Birthday Cake!

For more information on Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline park, visit: http://www.skyzone.com/toronto

Boobyball, Toga Style.

This past Friday (October, 18th) my girlfriends and I headed to Boobyball, a fun and trendy event targeting twenty-somethings and in support of young women battling breast cancer.

This was my first year attending this event, and it certainly will not be my last. The “What to Wear” page states “Go Greek. Go geek. Go campus chic.” My girlfriends and I decided to go Greek; and although some went geek and most went chic, we totally rocked our togas with pride!

Lisa & I in our togas, pre-Boobyball

Lisa & I in our togas, pre-Boobyball

The event itself was nothing short of spectacular (and this coming from someone whose job includes event planning). Highlights include:

  • $30 Uber Car Service – my place to Sound Academy was $24, so basically we got a free ride in a luxurious SUV;
  • Nail station, hair station and make-up station, each strategically placed next to one of 3 photo booths (dressed up girls LOVE photos);
  • Open bar including Yellow Tail pink champagne and a variety of Beam brands, balanced with a variety of yummy apps throughout the evening;
  • Cool music and entertainment; and
  • Amazing loot bag – including another Uber voucher, various other gift cards, gym passes, food samples and an assortment of other fabulous treats!!

I truly wish there were more amazing events like this in Toronto – targeted towards the young working female, while affordable. If you know of any upcoming that I should check out, please, please, please let me know.

Friends & I at Booby U!

Friends & I at Booby U!

For more information, visit: http://www.boobyball.com/toronto/#

Next up: find out why and how I played trampoline dodgeball the evening following Boobyball

This week, on TwentiesTO

Hi Blogisphere,

My apologies for  being MIA the past few weeks – I’ve been away dealing with a personal matter, but do not fear!! Look forward to awesome upcoming posts for twenty-somethings featuring:

  • Booby U, Toga Style;
  • Jumpin’ Jumpin’ Birthdays – playing like a kid, but not being one; and
  • MORE!!

Hope everyone is having an excellent Sunday Funday 🙂 Let me know if you’ve checked out anything awesome over the weekend.