City Living: Kids birthday parties for adults

So long crowded bars, long lines and expensive
dinners. We’re bringing back old school birthday party ideas. We recently attended
a “trampoline dodgeball” birthday that brought us right back to the good old
days of pizza, pop and party rooms. While there was no alcohol in sight, it was one of the more memorable and fun nights we’ve
shared with friends in a while. It’s true – you can have a great time without drinking. 

If you’re stumped for your next
birthday and want to do something a little out of the box, we’ve compiled a list of kids birthday party ideas for adults. Get your friends on board and throw the party of the year.

Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
45 Esandar Dr., Toronto

Grab your shorts, t-shirt and sweat band, if you have one, because things are going to get intense. An hour straight of trampoline dodgeball is both incredible fun and a serious work out. Each group is given an hour on a court, complete with a ref and whistle. After the game (and lots of water) the party room is all yours and comes with pizza and unlimited pop (yes!). And if you have the energy and are so inclined, there happens to be the Amsterdam brewery next door to keep the party going. 

Note: Remember to bring socks, since you’re required to wear special Sky Zone shoes while trampolining. Don’t want to put your dogs in a shoe that’s been made pre-sweaty for you by someone else. *shudder*

Get some major air and really put some fire behind that ball.

1980 Eglinton Ave. E., Scarborough
1224 Dundas Street East, Mississauga

If the idea of being chased around in the dark by laser guns doesn’t freak you out, then Laser Quest is another great option for a grown-up birthday party. Bring back those sweet feelings of victory with an all-time high score. You’ll be impressed with your improved aim, patience and strategy skills that you’ve developed while sitting in your cube every day and using a mouse for eight hours.

Laser tag – show those kids how it’s done.

5429 Dundas St. W., Etobicoke

Ok, so the fact that bowling and drinking go hand-in-hand doesn’t really fit in with the kid theme, it’s a nostalgic activity nonetheless. Get really crazy and go for a round of cosmic bowling. Remember to wear your all-white outfit to get the most out of the black lights. Who doesn’t love a black light still?

Typos aside, bowling is still an amazing group birthday party activity.

279 Danforth Ave., Toronto

Located in the east end of the Danforth, The Clay Room is a great option for a relaxed and artsy birthday party. They even have adult painting parties, where a room can be booked for a minimum of eight people, so you and your grown up friends can paint your very own flower pots, mugs or dinner plates to your heart’s content. Bring-your-own food and beverages are welcome. 

Have a chill, creative birthday party with your best friends, and take home a memento.

Mysteriously Yours
2026 Yonge Street, Toronto

Have you ever gone to dinner with your friends and found the conversation a little lacking? Fear boredom no more with Mysteriously Yours, the dinner theatre where anything can happen (hint: it’s usually a murder). Now you are part of the interactive mystery, trying to figure out whodunit while enjoying some delicious food. At the end, guess who did it correctly and win prizes! Now playing…

99 Rathburn Road W., Mississauga

As the ultimate place to play, Playdium has no shortage of activities. From a batting cage, to Dance Dance Revolution, there’s something for everyone. It will still cost you the same amount of money as an all-night rager (this stuff ain’t cheap) but at least you won’t have a hangover the next day, and will remember all your sweet moves on the Dance (Dance Revolution) floor.

Medieval Times
10 Dufferin St., Toronto

If chivalry, rivalry and revelry is more your thing (and really, who isn’t into that?), then you’ve gotta head to Medieval Times. You may have heard some buzz about this recently – the XX-year old dinner theatre hotspot recently revamped it’s menu and program, resulting in a more exciting show. Which gallant knight will eventually come out on top and win the hand of his fair lady? Book a reservation now to find out. You can indulge in as much delicious roast chicken and beer as you can handle without cutlery. Awesome. Hint: upgrade to the Royalty Package and get VIP seating, knight’s cheering banner and behind-the-scenes DVD. Because, why not?

Do Me A Solid: Happy Earth Day

We are lean, mean green living machines – Happy Earth Day
everyone! But much like Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day or Mother’s Day, shouldn’t every day be
Earth Day? After all, we only have one planet so we need
to show it a lot more love, a lot more often to preserve it for our future generations. We
were drilled with
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
when we were kids in middle school and now that we’re “adults”, our lot in life
largely depends on the responsibility to be an informed and active citizen in society.

Now, we don’t know about you but when we think of Earth Day, we promptly think about this handsome fella:

David Suzuki is
considered a pioneer in green living and people often look to his expertise as
the model by which we should all aspire. The David Suzuki Foundation is a encyclopaedia for environmental issues and while there are hundreds of tips for going
greener, we compiled a few baby steps that are well-suited for just about anyone. 

TIP: Recycle your old
We live in a society where we need to have the best/newest/most high-tech product and that material want produces a lot of unnecessary garbage. Think
is a free environmental service that rewards members with money and
environmental incentives in exchange for your unwanted gadgets. There are plenty
more organizations that accept old, gently used electronics, including Shift
ReBoot and our very own City of Toronto. Pick one. That old phone isn’t coming back in style any time (ever). 

TIP: Reduce
unnecessary waste
by becoming a DIY Beauty Queen. Since most ingredients in
our cupboards and fridge are good enough to put in our body, don’t you think
they’re good enough to put on it? For a super-soothing facial
, mix two tablespoons of honey with one teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon until it’s a thick paste. Apply to face. Nutmeg and honey are natural
anti-inflammatories that reduce swelling and redness, and cinnamon is a drying
agent that can combat breakouts. Voilà! No extra containers and more beauty. 
TIP: Boycott plastic. Bottled water doesn’t actually prove to be any cleaner or better for you than Toronto’s finest AND it clogs up our already-polluted landfills. First off, there is “stuff” in the plastic that may be more harmful for your body than anything found in Toronto tap water. Bisphanol A (BPA), a compound that mimics estrogen and has been a controversial chemical for quite some time, most recently for its presence in various plastics, including water bottles. Secondly, it takes up to three litres of water to produce one litre of bottled. Thirdly, tons of greenhouse gases are generated both transporting the bottles and keeping them cold. Honestly, there’s a pile of other reasons to take a hard look at the choice to drink bottled water. We are unbelievably fortunate to live in a city (and a province and a country) with safe drinking water. So, invest in a BPA-free, stainless steel reusable water bottle to keep on your desk or throw in your purse to encourage the consumption of those pesky 8 glasses a day while saving the planet, your body and your wallet. Win-win-win-win. 

To win even more, consider replacing all of your plastic bowls and servingware (once they’re no longer usable, that is!) with something more sustainable and biodegradable – like bamboo-based products. They now come in modern designs and really nice colours, and are pretty affordable. We like the PC Home line – easy to get anywhere and won’t ruin our budget.

 PC Home bamboo products available in select Loblaw banner stores including Real Canadian Superstores
TIP: When available, choose
eco-friendly cleaning products
. Brands like Seventh Generation (also endorsed by our earthy master
above) have biodegradable formulas, hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, and don’t
contain dyes or synthetic fragrances. Look for products that are packaged in
recyclable containers, and made from 100 per cent recycled fibres. 

And of course, a little peer pressure always helps. Here are
some familiar faces who (apart from just being annoyingly beautiful) devote their time and efforts to keeping our planet pretty while encouraging others to do the same.

Canadian actress and environmental activist Rachel McAdams lives in a house powered by Bullfrog Renewal energy and bikes everywhere she can.

(Hot) Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio  has received praise from various environmental groups for his activism, and chooses to fly on commercial flights rather than chartered jets. #StarsLikeUs

British designer, Stella McCartney mixes her earthly love with high fashion. In addition to her studio and website being powered by wind energy, McCartney offers her online shoppers the option to have their purchases shipped carbon neutral. Brilliant. 
There you have it: a brainy scientist, scary stats, easy alternatives that are good for you, the planet AND your wallet, and famous people, all resulting in some pretty compelling motivators to become more eco-conscious. No excuses now – start making some changes. 

Rave: Morgan Freeman and the CFHU Celebration of Excellence

We’re very excited to be working on an upcoming event with
the CFHU,
Celebration of Excellence
, a gala that will be honouring Morgan Freeman for
his amazing humanitarian work. The event takes place on Monday, May 6 at the
Toronto Centre for the Arts to be attended by the man, the myth, the legend-Morgan himself.

How do you get to see Morgan Freeman in the flesh? Well, you
have two options. Purchase a ticket here. Or
just do your very best Morgan Freeman impression. 
Yes, that’s right. All you have to do is grab your iPhone,
channel that sweet Southern baritone and post it 

The video with the most ‘likes’ wins two tickets to see Freeman on Monday, May
No need to be camera shy, we got the ball rolling for ya. Feast your eyes on the Morgan Freeman inside all of us on the fourth floor.

Not feeling inspired yet? Take a page from the pros: 

Don’t let Geoff the Robot upstage you.

“Like a twinkie…Like a twinkie.”

Extra Fourth Floor adoration to whoever can recreate this dope melody.

Well, what are you waiting for? Contest closes Monday! 

Media Darling: Marichka Melnyk

Marichka Melnyk has worked at the CBC since she was 18 years
old, which was a long time ago now. Following ten years in national television
news, she switched to local radio where, among many other opportunities, she
presented the daily Go-2-It arts/community segment on the Toronto afternoon
drive time show Here and Now. She became producer of
Here and Now in 2007 and
is now safely behind the scenes away from the microphones.

Twitter: @Marichka

Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?

much always seemed to be in the cards. I liked to write, and since I wanted to
make a living, journalism seemed the easy way to make both those things happen.
Even more, I like to talk… so although I didn’t go into broadcasting with a
plan to be on air, getting into radio and doing the Go-2-It segment was a
lot of fun and felt natural. I consider myself more of a producer than a
journalist. I like crafting a show and creating illusions and using
 theatrical elements, but am glad to have the journalistic training and
critical thinking for news judgement. 
If I was
going to do it all over again, I think I might have tried engineering. But I’d
have to be better at math.

Where would you like to be five years from

Still here
– no one else does what CBC does – but producing a different show perhaps;
something new, with a lot of creative elements and useful, interesting
information. Or perhaps producing and hosting the world’s most fascinating,
popular podcast. A one-woman radio service!

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
At the
start, try everything, and see what suits. I spent ten years in television news
before I figured out I should switch to radio, but doing a lot of different
jobs in TV served me well in moving forward and clarified what I liked and
didn’t like to do. Also, learn to appear calm and in control, even when you’re
not. When I was working my way up, I noticed that the people who stayed calm and composed when all hell was breaking loose always seemed to
project the most competence, and carried the most credibility. And now, when I
look at new hires and interns, I find I am impressed by the ones who don’t get
freaked out or panic or flap around when things inevitably get crazy. They may
be scared on the inside, but as long as they don’t show it, they instil confidence in their colleagues. 
My favourite advice that I got when I was starting out: Always carry a
clipboard or notebook around so that even if you’re just going to get a coffee,
you look busy and like you’re on a way to a meeting. It works.

What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own?

I like The Star for a current overview of what’s going on in the city, the Globe and Mail for  thoughtful explorations of issues both large and small, and the
National Post for a bit of irreverence and spicy writing. For kicks, I like
Entertainment Weekly, an actual journalistic take on pop culture, and the
Atlantic Monthly is my favourite brain food. 
CBC is
always on, but sometimes in the car I pop between 1010 to check out the
competition, and 99.9 for fun driving music and to keep current. TV is all over
the dial…I’m more loyal to series like Mad Men and House of Cards and Game of
than to networks. 

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
After so
many years and so many conversations, I can’t think of a particular best or
worst interview. I can say that my favourite interviews in general are the ones
with smart people who are slightly loose cannons, who can surprise you and make
you laugh with offbeat perspectives or commentary in between their useful
viewpoints (former MPP Peter Kormos comes to mind as a good example). Or the
ones that tell a story that keep you hanging and listening and waiting to hear
what happened next. The worst interviews are those that are vague, or get
lost in jargon, or stay firmly on message track and never loosen up to let the
real person come out. Those conversations are so boring and unhelpful, they
literally make me cringe.

advice you’ve ever been given?

It sounds so cheesy, but honestly, the most important thing is to be nice to
people. It’s an easy thing to forget…but when my father, who was possibly the
nicest man in broadcasting, passed away, I realized from the numbers of people
who came out to speak well of him how rare it can be, and how much that
matters. You interact with a lot of people every day; make those encounters
as pleasant as you can, and leave the other person feeling good as much as you
can. You never know how the smallest nicety, or the most fleeting rudeness can
be well remembered, but the longer you live, the more you realize how those
passing impressions can come back to haunt, or help, you down the line. It
actually matters, and it pays off professionally and personally in ways you can’t
even imagine.

rule(s) do you live your life by?

happily ever after” sounds like a fairytale, but “live
happily” is actually pretty doable. That, and “open every door”. I tend not to turn down experiences or learning opportunities, and try everything
new I possibly can. It keeps things fun and interesting, and you never know
when you might trip over your next great passion. I have a bracelet engraved
“Do More” that I literally got from a cereal box purchase, but I
actually really like that sentiment. You can always do more, in everything.

the most important tip you can give PR pros?

Know who
you’re pitching to, and what kind of show it is. It is frustrating, and wastes
both your time and ours, when you put effort into a pitch and then have to hear
that that is not the kind of story our show does (i.e. it’s national, or
commercial, or too visual, or the guest isn’t available until after we’re off-air, etc.). Figure out how to skew your pitch to our tone/mandate, so that your
pitch becomes an opportunity for real storytelling, rather than a sell job just
to get a company name out there.
critical tip: if you’re going to put out a press release, HAVE SOMEONE READY TO
SPEAK TO IT! There is nothing more infuriating than being asked to consider a
story, being persuaded by the copy to call up in hopes of getting an interview,
and then being told the principal talker is out of town or unavailable for a
five minute chat. Better to wait till the main speaker is available, than to
send out a release that can’t be followed up on. 
remember we’re radio. If you have audio material – clips, music, sound effects
— send them. We love that stuff.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.

I can’t
name them all because there are so many I’d hate to risk missing one, but I
have had a lot of luck with PR pros representing arts, and particularly
theatre, in this city. I love the reps for both a major arts festival, and a
local theatre company who each asked to meet with me and introduced me to their
lineup with an eye to finding interesting stories we could build conversations
around. Together we found concrete ways to showcase various productions in
meaningful, colourful and interesting ways that served both our objectives, and
the listeners. 
I also
deeply thank the many PR pros who know our show and needs and are efficient in
delivering opportunities for interviews, background material, and the guests to
studio in a painless, hassle free manner. Our show is a small, fast-moving
little shop, and we are grateful to the PR pros who make setting up an
interview easy.

I hate?
If only it didn’t feel so good to be lazy.

I love?
travel travel, and not just visiting places but really hanging out and getting
to know them. When I win the lottery, it’ll be a one way ticket around the world
for me. 
stationery. I have a weakness for beautiful notebooks and fountain pens.

Everything from fun novels like Dave Barry’s Insane City to The Canon, a layman’s tour
of scientific theories and principles. My favourite genre is literary
fiction: I really liked The Paris Wife, and well written historical
non fiction; Devil In the White City is one of my all-time favourites.

Best place
on earth?

In a car, on a roadtrip somewhere new and interesting with my husband. 


I never
know how to answer that one. 

I don’t
know if I have one. I admire different people, from my parents down to my girl
scout troop, for different things.  

app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

and the other group-deal apps. I am a sucker for all the new experiences they
offer — so far this year alone they’ve led me to Pilates, horseback riding,
snowshoeing, and Kangoo jump classes. And the list continues!

Pool or

Pool. The
ocean is noisy (although wave jumping is admittedly really fun).

or email?


show or cultural event you’re most looking forward to this year?

BOOK OF MORMON. I’ve heard so much about it for so long, I’m dying to see what all
the fuss is about, and I love Trey Parker’s work. He’d be one of those great
smart, funny loose cannons that I bet would make a fascinating interview. Him, I’d have over for dinner!
RACE at Canadian Stage is another show I’m looking forward to, because I’m curious
to see Jason Priestley act (on stage) and love pretty much anything by David

Rave: Getting in shape for spring

It’s finally getting warmer out, which means it’s time for all of us hibernators to get back into a real fitness
routine (don’t give us that look) so we can fit into our swimmers from last summer (remember those?). One of the easiest, most enjoyable ways to get into shape is to run. Time spent outside in the great outdoors, no gym fees and all you need are two feet and a heartbeat (well, and maybe a few other things). Here are some tips for getting into the runner’s groove and excited about running. It IS possible to be excited about running, we promise.

Start small, work up
Everyone says start slowly and work your
way up to being a long-distance (or short-distance) runner. Starting out with short bursts of speed has been proven to build momentum, so try jogging for three minutes and sprinting for one. Couch to 5K is a helpful downloadable program for
people starting from zero and implementing a fitness routine into their lives,
at their pace. 

Go from this…

…to this!
Pick a kick-ass playlist

     You know the difference between Norah Jones
Girl Talk? One makes you want to jump in a bubble bath, the other makes you
want to do everything at hyperspeed. A good playlist can really make the
difference between a good workout and a great one, so make sure you have tracks
with good beats. is a great website for downloading running mixes
– you can even choose music to go along with your pace. Music selections range from 120 to 181 BPM. 

Run with friends
You just can’t sleep in if it means your
friend is left at the end of your driveway. She’ll kill you. So get a foolproof
way to get out there on the track, the street, the gym, the treadmill… running with
friends allows you to catch up while burning serious calories.

Ever heard of The Color Run?  If you and your friends are feeling adventurous, head down to
Montreal on Saturday, August 17 for the most outrageous 5K you’ll ever
join. Participants are encouraged to wear white, so when completely doused with paint during the run they can take home a colourful keepsake at
the end. 

Keep it consistent
You can’t just run a 10K every time you feel the urge. No
matter how ready to run you feel, overexerting yourself will just hurt you in
the long run. So use an app or website like to log your runs
every day (or every other day, every three days, we’re not perfect), making sure you’re not overdoing it and track
your improvements over time.

Wear the right gear
We’ve all had running shoes that just ended
up doing more harm than good. Nobody likes blisters or bruises (it’s almost sandal season!) so making sure you have reliable footwear is really important. We like Reebok RealFlex Strength TR shoes – they provide traditional flexibility and lightweight feel, plus extra mid-foot stability. Forget Red Bull – these will give you wings. And they’re cute.

Fave 5: Style icons for our spring shopping list

There’s a little spring in our step and we’re ready to shed our winter coats and rejuvenate our wardrobes with a little somethin’ new from the shops. Today, we’ve pulled together a few snaps from our favourite style icons to build our spring shopping list.

Jane Birkin
Jane Birkin
Short dresses. 
Image source

Tall boots.
Image source

Jane Birkin.
White swimwear.
Image source

Jane Birkin
Pretty flats & elaborate dresses.
Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde
Carefully draped scarves.Image source

Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair
Slouchy turtlenecks.
Image source
Faye Dunaway
Big hats paired with oversized shades.
Image source

Faye Dunaway's post-Oscar Breakfast, March 29 1977 Photography by Terry O'Neill
Post-party dressing gowns.
Faye Dunaway’s post-Oscar breakfast 

Image source

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve
False lashes.

Catherine Deneuve
Push-up bra, t-shirt & jeans.
Image source

Catherine Deneuve
Black & white tunics.
Catherine Deneuve in St. Tropez, 1965. Photo by Milton H. Greene
Cute rompers with bare feet.
Jean Shrimpton
Jean Shrimpton, 1960s.
More bare feet.
Jean Shrimpton, 1964.
Jaunty hats.
Jean Shrimpton
White jeans.
Jean Shrimpton.
Snug sweaters.
Image source

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks
Graphic tees.
Image source

Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks
Black. Always black.

Rave: The perks of eating at home

It’s 6 p.m. Work
clothes are off, couch mode is fully activated. The tell-tale rumble of an
empty belly reminds you it’s been hours since sustenance. You: 

a)    Download the Pizza
Pizza app on your iPhone. Rollin’ with garlic dipping sauce in 40 minutes or
less (and with minimal human interaction).
b)    Treat yourself to a
can of Zoodles and a margarine sandwich.
c)    Take three shots of
NyQuil and pretend it never happened.

If you answered yes
to any of the above, for shame! Food is fuel for your bodies, people, and you
wouldn’t put sugar in a gas tank would you? Granted, stepping into the kitchen
for the first time can be a little daunting, and while there are a million and one
reasons not to, learning basic cooking skills is an integral part of an adult
life. Before you go spouting off the same old excuses as to why you should stay true to
take-out and frozen food staples, like “But I’m a terrible cook”  (Have
you tried trying?); “But it’s just so hard cooking for one!”  (It’s
called a freezer, rookie); “My kitchen is infested with raccoons and I’m
afraid to go in there.”  (
You need to address that ASAP); take a look
at all the perks of learning your way around a kitchen.

Start small and dedicate a week to eating at home and in no time you’ll find yourself:
1. Happier

We all have to start somewhere.

Just like with
anything, practice makes perfect. If it’s day one in the kitchen, we wouldn’t
suggest trying to whip up some coq au vin or puff pastry but there are plenty of recipes for beginners that are so delicious and straightforward, you’ll wonder why you
ever ordered Swiss Chalet in the first place. Even if your first forays into
culinary excellence are not so much Giada at Home and more Kitchen Nightmares,
learning to cook can be a hilarious and rewarding experience.
There’s a reason why
the cliché about the way to the heart being through your stomach exists. Think
about it. Being able to make a meal for somebody is proving that you’re able to
provide one of their most basic needs. Aside from how impressed your
friends will be when you coyly wink and say “Oh this? It was nothing”, the personal
feeling of pride and accomplishment that accompanies putting together a
beautiful meal for yourself is a real attitude changer. You could have that
every day!
2. Healthier
Make the healthy choice.
When you make the
decision to put together your own meals as opposed to relying on
take-out, delivery or pre-made meals, you’re taking charge of everything that goes
into your body. It is much easier to keep track of what’s going in when you’re
sourcing ingredients yourself, as opposed to making sense of nutritional labels
or in the case of most restaurants, having no nutritional information at all.
What do you think your body wants more: fresh food from your friendly
neighbourhood grocer? Or a stranger showing up to your house with food that
has passed through the hands of two or three other strangers before getting to
you? And it’s not just your health on the line, preparing food on your own
reduces the amount of packaging involved with take out and pre-packaged foods,
and Mother Nature thanks you for that.
3. Wealthier
A day at the market is more fun than fast-food any day (and cheaper in the long run).

Short term, hitting
up the McD’s dollar menu might seem more wallet friendly than going to the
grocery store but the trick is to keep a well stocked pantry of dry goods. Once
you’ve got the basics (things like rice noodles, pasta, rice, herbs and spices – all
stuff you can get on the cheap), you can supplement with fresh produce, tofu and meat
for meals that cost under $5 .
Places like Kensington Market, Chinatown, and St. Lawrence Market are a mecca
for frugal foodies, or if you’re really ambitious, roll your sleeves up and
start urban farming for unlimited fresh fruit and veg. If a
day in the market or digging in the garden just isn’t your bag, sign up for
organics delivery (like Organics Live) for delivery that won’t leave you with a wicked food hangover (but slightly lighter in the pocketbook).

Some of our favourite blogs for getting started with cooking are:

1. Smitten Kitchen: some recipes are advanced, but there are some very good basics here with tons of helpful tips and tricks. Plus, these dishes always turn out. 

2. Skinny Taste: Appealing food, pretty photos, lots of options for entrées and desserts, and most importantly, the recipes are healthy.

3. Food Network: This site, home to the popular chefs that you see on TV, has some great recipes and a ton of hints to get started if you’re a noob. Chef Michael Smith and Rachel Ray (seriously) are good ones to look to first.