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Back to School Tips

September 8, 2015

Back to School TipsThe long and lazy days of summer are coming to an end and autumn is just around the corner. The time has come for your children to go back to school – are you prepared? Heading back to school can be a big transition for little ones, but you can make things a lot easier by being organized and prepared. Here are some back to school tips that will help:

Re-establish a Bedtime Routine
In the summertime your child’s bedtime routine might have adjusted to family events and sleepovers and noBack to School Tipsw your little one is used to staying up later and sleeping in late. Adjust the routine so that your child will be ready to get up on a school morning. Even if there are a few days before school begins, you can get your child up and put them to bed earlier so that the first school morning isn’t such a shock.

Set Up a Homework Spot
Your child should have a clear spot in a quiet area of the house that they can dedicate to doing homework. This will give them their own space to work in peace so that they don’t have to spread their schoolwork out on the kitchen table and be distracted by what everyone else is doing. A desk in their bedroom or a table somewhere in the house is a great solution. Make sure that the lighting is sufficient and that your child has all of the writing and craft supplies that they will need.

Meet Their Teacher
Take a moment to introduce yourself toBack to School Tips your child’s teacher and have a chat with them. Having a good relationship with your child’s teacher is very important, because you can work together to ensure that your little one succeeds as much as possible. You can talk to the teacher about what your child will be learning that year so that you can provide them with supplementary activities at home to improve their learning.

Put Everything on One Calendar
When the school year begins you will be flooded with an abundance of meetings, including orientations, PTA meetings, school functions, extra-curricular lessons and much more. In order to keep these commitments organized you can set up onBack to School Tipse big calendar that includes everything. You can add everything and you will be able to see everything that you need to do all in one glance. If your child comes home with a note about another event or meeting you can add it to the calendar right away so that you don’t forget.

With these back to school tips in mind, you can make the transition to back to school easier for your child and start the school year off on the right foot.

What are your back to school tips that you can share with all the parents to help ease the transition?

Business Travel, Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk

Top Coffee Shops in Toronto

August 25, 2015
Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Sam James Coffee Bar

Sometimes, you need the professionals to take care of your morning pick-me-up, aka that really strong coffee or espresso to get you ready for the day. Even though you have a coffee maker in your furnished rental in Toronto, going out for a coffee is a great way to explore a new neighbourhood or connect with the local community. We’ve rounded up our favourite coffee shops in Toronto –  for both quality of coffee and ambiance.

Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Ryan Fung

1. Odin and Thor Espresso The Scandinavian inspired coffee house, Thor, located at Bathurst and Wellington near many of our downtown properties, serves up strong espresso and treats to go. It recently got a new sibling, Odin, in the developing neighbourhood of Corktown. Odin’s minimalist designed space is a treat for fans of architecture and of course, coffee. The difference at Odin, however, is that there are more food options as well as a chance to have a drink later in the evening. Watch their space for different events throughout the year, check out the new patio, or purchase locally-inspired swag.

2. Boxcar Social Over a year into the game, these coffee experts located in Rosedale have already opened up a second location in Riverside. What’s fun about this place is that their selections change all the time. Don’t know what you want? Try one of their coffee flights. Want to go next level? Try a whiskey and coffee flight. At night, their spaces transform into a wine bar. It’s a great place to work and socialize.

Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Ryan Fung

3. Tandem Michie Yamamoto, who used to work at Rooster Coffeehouse, has opened up this cute cafe with her husband in Corktown, just east of Parliament. For strong espresso shots, you can currently select from suppliers Pig Iron, Cut Coffee, or Detour. It’s a great pitstop to the Distillery District.

4. Fareinheit. Located on the edge of the Financial District, these award-winning baristas know their coffee and if you need to grab and go, they’ll get your expertly pulled americano or cortados with a smile. Try any one of their choices from Pilot like the silky Diablo beans or Ethiopian selection. Stay for the energy-inducing dance music.

Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Sam James Coffee Bar

5. The Common Now with three locations (it’s most central in the Annex), come for the $2 americano. Stay for the rustic atmosphere. Come back for the Rufino and Mountain View beans.

6. Sam James Coffee Bar Back when he was a barista at Hank’s and Dark Horse, Sam James has moved up the ranks as one of Toronto’s best baristas and making a name for himself with his eponymous cafe now with 5 locations. Serving the Cut Coffee brand, SJCB serves up espresso based drinks from macchiatos to mocha lattes. Every shop minus the Coffee Pocket serves rotating single origins as brewed drip coffee. If you’re on the go, this is your daily pick-me-up.

7. Te Aro One of Pilot Cofee Roaster’s cafes, the industrialized garage space serves up some perfectly executed coffee and is now known for Toronto’s best cold coffee. Te Aro is also the only cafe in Toronto that pulls coffee from a tap. Worth the trip to Leslieville to stock up on beans for your furnished rental or to sit with a cup in hand and watch people walking by on their expansive streetside patio.

8. Manic One of the pioneers in Toronto’s coffee scene, Manic still continues to pump out some of the best espresso in the city. They were also one of the first shops to perfect latte art. There’s no wifi here so it’s an ideal place to read a book or catch up with friends. They also serve gelato if you’re looking for something frozen and sweet.

Photo Credit :Rooster Coffee

9. Jimmy’s This tiny spot at Portland and King has become so popular, it now has three locations. It’s the place to get a strong cup of joe quick.

10. Rooster Coffee Not only does Rooster have one of the most scenic spots in the city to get your espresso at their Broadview location, they also have some of the best coffee. If you’re working or living closer to their King Street location, it’s a great place for business meetings or to savour over their custom Pilot blends or single origin beans. Stay tuned for a third location soon!

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

Announcements, Business Travel, Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Events, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

Upcoming June and July Toronto Events, 2015

June 8, 2015

June and July Toronto EventsThe summer of 2015 is going to be an exciting one in Toronto with a number of special events this year. Many of these events are located in downtown Toronto, centrally located and not too far from your furnished apartment. This is an ideal time to be in the city for your short-term stay or an extended stay. Here are a few of our favourite June and July Toronto events happening this year.

1. North By Northeast Festival (NXNE) (June 17-21, 2015). This festival has gone beyond just music to converge creatives artists into five different event-packed streams: Music, Film, Interactive, Comedy, and Art. Toronto will be a buzz with shows (and secret shows) at concert venues littered across town as well as free concerts at Yonge and Dundas Square. Discover your favourite shows and plan in advance so you can use your pass well.

2. The Toronto Jazz Festival (June 18-27, 2015). If you’re a fan of jazz, you’ll get a choice to hear over 1,500 musicians

June and July Toronto Events

Photo Credit: Mark Watmough

and 350 performances in over 40 locations around Toronto. This year, the festival will celebrate Oscar Peterson’s 90th birthday and welcome back Jamie Cullum to the stage. Festival headquarters are at Nathan Phillips Square, which features a fully licensed Mainstage Marquee and outdoor stage, where you can see some performances for free. It’s always a great way to introduce the summer!

3. Luminato (June 19-28, 2015). Luminato celebrates Toronto’s vibrant arts and culture scene in Toronto, via this 9 day festival across the downtown core and at the festival hub in David Pecault Square. See performers like Jason Collett revive his basement revue; view the imaginary rose garden, a visual arts display; or dance the day away at a Brazilian block party! There are many events everyday, so do check the website to see which one appeals to you.

June and July Toronto Events

Photo Credit: US Embassy Canada

4. Taste of Toronto (July 2-5, 2015). This food event takes over the grounds of Fort York in its second year. Food enthusiasts are drawn to sample dishes from some of the best eateries in the city, including Montecito, Barque, THR & Co., Splendido, Bosk, and Richmond Station. Exciting food events will be on offer, as well, including the Toronto Life Chef’s Table, a series of interactive discussions with chefs; and the Metro Masterclass, a hands-on cooking session from the popular chefs (and a visiting chefs, including Christina Tosi, of Momofuku Milk Bar). The best part? You can walk home from your food coma!June and July Toronto Events

5. Fringe Festival (July 1-12, 2015). This is the best way to see theatre for cheap with over 150 shows at over 30 venues in the city. The shows are performed at unexpected places in the city, as well, from waiting rooms to the back parking lot of Honest Ed’s. Now that there’s Fringe Kids in place, this is also a great way to introduce grassroots theatre to your children.

6. Pan Am/Parapan Am Games (July 10-26, 2015). The most anticipated event for this year, the Pan Am and Para Pan Am games will bring in over 7,000 athletes from the Americas and the Caribbean to compete in 36 Pan Am sports and 15 Parapan sports all over Toronto and within Ontario. If you’ve never gone to the Olympics, this is your chance to see some sports of that caliber as well as many athletic facilities being upgraded in time for the games. Many events surrounding the games are forthcoming, including Panamania, a 35-day arts and cultural festival. Many exciting musicians will be performing for free at Nathan Phillips Square including Janelle Monae, The Flaming Lips, The Roots, and Tanya Tadaq.

What June and July Toronto events are you looking most forward to?

Feedback and Reviews, Lifestyle talk

A Guide to Decorating Your Furnished Condo

April 30, 2015

Decorating Your Furnished CondoWhether you’re a business traveler in Toronto on an extended stay, a family looking for a longer city vacation, or a film or TV industry pro moving in for the summer shooting season, part of what makes a furnished rental great is the unique character you can’t get from a hotel room. But part of the draw of furnished rentals is the ability to personalize that space you’ll be living in for weeks or months into a home away from home.

Here are a few low-cost, simple tips on decorating your furnished condo décor—and creating a gorgeous Toronto nest that truly feels like it’s yours.

Start With Colour, and Texture, and Light…

The simplest antidote to a furnished rental that’s not yet found its voice is texture and colour. Most Toronto furnished rentals come with a very clean look that makes adding your own personal touches easy, without having to break out paintbrushes or power tools. Patterned rugs, couch cushions or throws and small lamps can all bring a condo space to life without much investment—and portably enough to bring home with you!

Want a warm, rich, South Asian-meets-bistro feel? Visit Morningstar Trading, which specializes in Rajasthani imports, for hand-carved wooden vases, bright fabric, plush embroidered cushDecorating Your Furnished Condoions, and small furniture pieces that bring colour into a room.

If you love the clean, rustic, and airy feel of reclaimed-wood furniture and eggshell-white walls? The Drake General Store, an offshoot of the Drake Hotel specializing in Canadian designers and brands, has a wide selection of log-cabin Canadiana, including carved-stone coasters, soft throw blankets, and needlepoint cushions.

For a clean, minimalist aesthetic, check out Harbord Village’s Things Japanese, a cozy source for everything from shoji screens to soften the afternoon light to wood-and-paper table lamps, vases, decorative boxes, and rollable, portable inked wall scrolls.

Bring the Spring In

Decorating Your Furnished CondoOne of the simplest ways to put your mark on a space is by bringing something green home. Most Toronto fruit markets will have a selection of potted herbs once the warm weather hits, and a spilling, vibrant mint in a brightly coloured hanging planter from Roncesvalles Village’s Scout or your local hardware store can both brighten up your space and contribute materially to a homemade mojito.

If you’d rather smell your plants than taste them, small florists like Church-Wellesley Village’s Ladybug and Yorkville’s Sweetpea’s not only take online orders for long-lasting floral arrangements, but deliver to your door. And for the budget-minded, there’s nothing better than a tall Mason jar and a handful of daffodils from the corner variety store.

Beautiful and Useful

There’s a reason coffee table books were so popular in the sixties: They were objects, almost carelessly placed, that told your guests a story about what you love. Small, useful objects like coasters, cushions, handmade notebooks, and more make your mark on a space, and help you inhabit it completely.

Almost every neighbourhood in downtown Toronto has a monthly flea full of the useful-and-beautiful, with vendors offering vintage, handcrafted, quirky, and just fun items in their own neighbourhood. There’s a flea in Leslieville, The Junction, The Annex, Parkdale, and more. Admission rarely goes above two dollars, and they’re an increasingly grDecorating Your Furnished Condoeat source for good décor finds—and a fun day out.

Having a few old favourites on the nightstand can also go a long way, and specialty Toronto bookstores like Ben McNally Books for literary fiction mavens, The Sleuth of Baker Street for mystery hounds, Bakka-Phoenix Books for science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans, or TYPE for lovers of art and design can supply you with your best-loved bedtime stories to reread or shelve prominently—and make your space feel that much more like home.

Ultimately, decorating your furnished condo rental in Toronto is halfway about the experience: Each object you bring home to brighten your space is a piece of Toronto you’ve gotten to know, a walk you took, or a neighbourhood you’ve discovered. And it’s a great way to enjoy the time you spend here—and build a few great memories when it’s time to head home.

Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Food & Recipes

Top 5 Favourite Bars for Craft Beer in Toronto

April 7, 2015

Craft Beer in TorontoCraft beer is big business in Toronto. According to the Ontario Craft Brewers Association, “there are currently over 100 craft breweries in Ontario employing over 1,000 people in direct brewery jobs across the province. This represents over 30 per cent of the direct brewery jobs in Ontario.” Now that grocery stores will now have the opportunity to sell beer and wine, this will not replace your visit to your local bar to taste test brews. If you don’t want to stay in your furnished suite or apartment to drink, here are our favourite places in Toronto for this niche experience.

1. Bellwoods Brewery. The popular indie brewery on Ossington Ave–with its white picket fence and prime people-watching patio– is listed as one of the 100 best breweries in the world by Rate Beer. Sip and savour on IPAs, stouts, single hop series, Belgian saisons, and a variety of ales. There’s a good selection of charcuterie to nibble alongside your pints. The brewery is dealing with its line-ups with a next door bottle shop (you’ll also want to save those beautiful labels for your home collection) and are opening a new location at Dupont and Dovercourt. Currently, you can quench your thirst by participating in a spring guided tasting.

2. Bar Volo. Bar Volo is the craft beer bar that was ahead of the trend and now 25 years old. It’s a great centralCraft Beer in Toronto location if you are living in our furnished suites downtown or North Toronto. The dim-lit, intimate, wooden space gets crowded early. It’s a casual process: look at the list on the walls for over 30 rotating regional beers on tap, casks, more than 75 international types of bottles, and a hectolitre nano brewery. You then find your own table, and order/pay at the bar. Though known for beer, there are two VQA wines served on tap, and over 60 bottles of bourbon and rye for non-hopheads. In the summer, there are DJ nights and during those times, cans of Howe Sound Lager is available for $5 (as previously stated on their site, last year).

3. Bar Hop. Located a short walk away from our 300 Front, Icon, and Element locations, Bar Hop is the ideal unpretentious after-work spot on King West. The bar has over 36 rotating taps plus tap takeovers, gluten-free beers and ciders, aCraft Beer in Torontond two casks. Special deals like Sunday Sessions ($5 for select craft beers); Mussel Mondays (2 pounds of mussels and fries for $9.95); and Buck-a-Shuck Tuesdays ($1 Oysters) make this a bustling place. Fret-not, a second location is in the works around Richmond and Peter.

4. Indie Ale House. If there is one reason to head over to the Junction, it’s for its noteworthy brewery. There’s a variety of beers here, including their speciality of bold ales. Peruse their menu for collaborations and their original brews with fun flavours and names like the Broken Hipster, Zombie Apocalypse, and the Breakfast Porter. Add a flavourful, varied menu of healthy options and bar staples with a twist; tours, and tastings, and you’ll never want to leave (unless you go here first and then dance the night away at 3030 down the street).

5. Amsterdam Brewery. Though it now feels like a tourist attraction due to its Harbourfront location, Amsterdam Brewery has bCraft Beer in Torontoeen in Toronto since 1986 and come a long way from its first location on John St. Now the brewery is a short walk away from our temporary housing Toronto. Amsterdam Brewery is known for its Boneshaker unfiltered IPA and has other original brews like the Sweetwater Squeeze Radler, the 416, and the all natural Blonde. Sip lakeside on a muskoka chair with an unparalleled view of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands. A bonus if you can’t grab a seat on the patio is that you can grab your favourite beer from their bottle shop, which is open 7 days a week until 11pm.

Honorable mentions go to some of Toronto’s newer breweries like the soon-to-open Left Field Brewery (which is hosting tastings and pop-ups to buy select bottles from time to time); East York’s new Muddy York brewery; and the established Granite Brewery at Eglinton and Mount Pleasant.

What is your favourite bar for craft beer in Toronto?