Rave: long weekend

The first long weekend of spring! You can practically taste the beer on the patio now.

Whether you celebrate this time with Easter eggs, Matzoh balls, splashing colour on someone’s face or some other way, enjoy this day off by taking a walk outside, scout out some crocuses and be thankful that it seems (fingers crossed) that the snow is gone for the year.

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City Living: High Park Cherry Blossom Walk

Toronto has a lot of great (and free) nature activities in the spring, including one of our favourite things to do – head to High Park to check out the blooming Sakura trees.

Sakura trees bloom with flowers that are nearly pure white with just a hint of pink near the stem, but they only last for about a week before the leaves come out – fleeting beauty. This season, the flowers first bloomed around April 11 because of our early spring. We recommend going at off-peak times when there are less people around to really experience the serenity this natural phenomenon offers.


Sakura is the Japanese name for flowering cherry trees and their flowers, often referred to as cherry blossoms. There is a Japanese legend that each spring, a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, awakening the sleeping cherry trees with her delicate breath. How romantic!

In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakura trees to Toronto on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Over the years, many of these trees were donated to High Park.

 


It is a truly beautiful thing to witness, but they only last two or three weeks before falling off. Hurry and get to High Park to catch them before they’re gone.


Facebook: High Park Nature Centre
Twitter: @
HighParkNC

Fashion-able: Fresh spring kicks

With last week’s blast of warm weather, we gleefully ran to our closets and started to pull out our spring staples: shorts, skirts, dresses…Since technically it is spring, it got us thinking about what shoes we’ll need this season. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our classic favourites and new kicks we’re coveting for this season.

And hey, you can never really have enough shoes, right? 

If you’re looking for some investment pieces, these Gucci Tri-color suede platform sandals with a splash of mint (we adore mint) are great for spring, and can be transitioned into colder weather with some opaque black tights. 



An alternative to leopard, these Haircalf Giraffe Slipper by Charles Philip offer “cushioned leather insole, an indented toe flap and rubber soles. They arrive packaged in a beautiful box, encased in a shoe bag and scented with tiny sachets – how precious!” Precious, indeed

Love Jeffrey Campbell but want a break from the ubiquitous Lita? This spring try out something new – there are a myriad of interesting styles including this gem, the Rockette Wedge.

Hooked on flats? This Aztec flat available at Dealuxe from Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent is an office-appropriate boost of colour that makes us happy to just look at it. 

We’re pretty sure you can wear these Alexander Wang Chloe perch-trimmed leather sandals (bit of a mouthful) just about anywhere. The neutral colours with a pop of “perch” (a pretty peachy-coral) would look great with some black skinny jeans and a white tee. 



We can’t write this post without mentioning a favourite on the fourth floor – a nice crisp pair of white Converse Chuck Taylor All Star’s. We’re personally fans of the low cut, but the high tops are fun too. Classic, comfortable, stylish and great for riding a bike or wearing with jeans or shorts. 

ALDO’s Calcagni wedges – if we can wear these many hours a day without (too much) pain – you know they’re a good thing. This season they come in a variety of colours from neutrals to neons and can add a little cheap and cheerful punch to any ensemble. Highlighter yellow? Why not?




ShoeMint always offers amazing styles with their collections, and when fashion icon Rachel Bilson and visionary celeb stylist Nicole Chavez are designing, we can’t help but shop. 
We’re so excited about the warm weather and the shoe options to come. Now only to decide on pedi colours…

Yum Yum: Spring has sprung – Ramps and Fiddleheads

A bunch of us on the fourth floor love to cook, some of us just love to eat. Here is a fun recipe for those who find it relaxing to be in the kitchen. Feel free to bring some up to the fourth floor so we can yum, yum with you. 
After a long winter of root vegetables and preserves, spring vegetables have started sprouting in the local produce aisles (especially at one of our favourite stores, Fiesta Farms). This means fresh asparagus, fennel and radishes are here, along with seasonal Ontario offerings like ramps and fiddleheads.
 Fiddleheads: baby fern fronds.

Ramps: sort of a cross between a leek, an onion and garlic. Yum.  

To make the most of this spring bounty and inspired by this recipe Natalie decided to whip up a delicious, healthy and vegan-friendly quinoa dish. This can be served as an entree or side. She used asparagus, but you can sub in fiddleheads if you are in the mood.

Please note: This recipe is a bit labour-intensive (though not compared to say, French or Asian cooking), but the flavours are worth it! Also, you don’t want to just throw your delicious ramps into whatever.

Spring Quinoa Pilaf (serves four people as a side, two as a main)

1 bunch ramps
2 tsp lemon zest
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp parsley
glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus (tough ends snapped off)
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups quinoa (well rinsed)
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen; I used frozen, but fresh will need to cook a bit longer)
salt & pepper to taste

Ramps! Watch out, they’re muddy.
Wash your ramps well. Clean both leaves & stems well – you’ll be using them both. Chop the stems and set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then drop in your ramp leaves. Blanch for about one minute, drain and put into food processor. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and a splash of olive oil to food processor and purée. Set aside.


Mince garlic. Add a glug of olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is glistening, add garlic and chopped ramp stems. Cook until fragrant, about five minutes. Add thyme and quinoa, and sauté for one minute, stirring constantly. 
Add the vegetable broth; bring to a boil, then lower temperature to a simmer. Allow quinoa mixture to simmer for about 10 to 13 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in peas and continue to cook for five more minutes.

Quinoa, the other white rice (and way healthy).
While quinoa is simmering, bring another pot of water to a boil (we used the same pot we blanched the ramps in). Add in the asparagus and cook until desired tenderness; we like it a little crispy. Drain and chop when cool. Set aside. 
Once quinoa is cooked, stir in asparagus and ramp purée. Season with salt & pepper and, if you’re feeling indulgent, top with a bit of Parmesan cheese. Voila!

Tastes like spring… and success.

How do I know when quinoa is cooked?
Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes. It’s fairly easy to tell when it’s done because the seeds display a little white thread that curls around them.

Rave: The lovely things about winter

Even though Wiarton Willie predicted an early spring, it seems as though winter is not giving up anytime soon. So, we’ve decided to embrace these last few snowy weeks and focus on what we love about winter.


Random strangers shovelling/blowing out your sidewalk and driveway.
There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning, dreading that first snap of cold hitting your face as you head out to shovel, and discovering some early bird has already taken care of your patch of concrete for you. #payitforward



Sitting in a warm and cozy restaurant window at night, watching the snow fall outside. 
The trek to the restaurant might be filled with cold waits for the TTC and slushy sidewalks, but once you’re inside, it almost beats sitting out on a patio in the sun. A warm, dimly light room, delicious dinner and good conversation with someone you love to spend time with is a pretty kick-ass way to hang out indoors.



Bright, sunny skies with fresh white snow covering everything. 
The cold, grey days with fierce winds are the worst of winter, making us long for spring. But there is something pretty magical about waking up to a fluffy blanket of snow sparkling in the sun.



Tobogganing. 
Hopefully you’ve rediscovered your inner kid and taken advantage of our killer snowfall this year by sliding down a hill on a toboggan, Crazy Carpet or even a plastic garbage bag. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy a day outside. And burns a lot of calories.



Wearing layers. 
Whenever fall rolls around, we get pretty excited to layer on our cozy sweaters, jackets, boots and hats. Even by this point in the year, it`s still a great feeling to be wrapped up in a yummy, thick scarf.    


What is your favourite part of winter? Tweet us @rockitpromo.

Fashion-able: Spring Trend Watch

Each season, the fashion-forward watch the runways. Whether sitting in the front row or behind their computer screens, they observe the latest designs from talented designers, mentally noting which pieces they can personally rock. Ultimately, from The Row’s precise androgynous tailoring to Proenza Schouler’s pajama-inspired gear, we can choose only a few pieces to add to our ever-growing collections.



We’ve outlined the top three trends that we’re digging (and digging into our wallets for) for the spring 2011 season. Use this guide to help you make your own decisions – it won’t be easy to choose! 


1. Maxis

If hemlines rise during times of depression, then 2011 should be a very happy year. That’s right, it’s time to move your micro-minis aside to make room for longer styles.

Luxe Label: Reach great lengths with A.L.C.’s Pleated Long Skirt ($693). The accordion-style maxi comes complete with an unfinished edged hem and elastic waistband. Made of lightweight woven polyester, this pleated skirt with ruffle trim is a perfect style basic that’s anything but. 


Cheap & Chic: Nasty Gal’s Pleated Maxi Dress ($78) offers a retro feel on a modern silhouette. Partially lined, this flowy dress has a full rayon pleated skirt, and cinches at the waist with a sash belt. From day to night, in this frock you’ll be a real maxi knockout. 


2. Floppy Hat

The floppy hat is not only this year’s “it” accessory, but it also the best shot you’ve got at getting street-styled. So wear this ’70s comeback head topper and smile for the camera. Bianca Jagger would be proud.

Luxe Label: For a look that’s all casual chic, try Rag & Bone’s Estelle Hat ($150) on for size. This retro-inspired accessory comes in a gorgeous tawny beige wool, with a wide brim and deep crown. The cotton lining will keep you feeling cool and fresh, while the style screams boho-chic. 

Cheap & Chic: Beat the heat in style with ASOS’s Catarzi Felt Floppy Hat ($47). Made of 100 per cent wool with a contrast band, choose this accessory in this knockout shade of cherry red. Trust us. This is one hat you’ll wear even on good hair days. 


3. Tribal Print

In past seasons you’ve gone black, but now it’s time to go back with bold colours done up in equally daring Aztec-inspired prints.

Luxe Label: Return to your tribal roots in Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent’s Long Ruffle Slip Dress ($429). For a colourful take on the tribal trend, wear this silk maxi dress in Zulu print with adjustable spaghetti straps and a ruffled hem. Done up in shades of blue and red, the punch of colour will work on so many skin tones. Try it.


Cheap & Chic: Embrace the call of the wild in Pepe Jeans’ Tribal Printed Sheered Bandeau Maxi Dress ($73). This vibrantly patterned maxi dress with multicolour stripes and shapes has a belted waist with a tassle, and as cool a ruffled hem as the dress above (but for a fraction of the price). With a bandeau-style top, this look is all fashion Aztec warrior. 



Luckily, with spring comes some killer style that will break you out of your winter blues. Two more months to go!