Happy holiday Monday!

With the last long weekend of the summer coming up and the season coming to an end, we began to reflect on what a truly awesome summer of cottaging, food, weddings, travels and city adventures it has been. To celebrate our favourite season, we thought we’d share our favourite summer 2012 moments in photos. We hope everyone enjoys the rest of their long weekend!

City Living: Shakespeare in High Park

We recently had the pleasure of viewing Canadian Stage’s production
of William Shakespeare’s
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Richard Rose.
This production marks the 30
th anniversary of the much-loved
tradition of outdoor theatre in Toronto’s
High Park. Our verdict? Loved by all!



This is the seventh time Canadian Stage has performed this particular play, and it’s easy to see why. The outdoor setting, in combination with a lovely midsummer night’s evening, adds a magical element to the experience. 

The production features a talented local cast (including the delightful Tamara Podemski, a dear friend of the fourth floor). The actors are charming and funny, dressed in modern attire. Although they stick to the classic script, the play is accessible and easy to follow as the staging gives the classic light-hearted comedy a unique Toronto twist.

Tamara Podemski and Dmitry Chepovetsky
The 90-minute production had us out laughing out loud and vowing to return with friends who didn’t make it to the first outing. The event is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $20. The production runs until September 2Tuesday through Sunday
at 8 p.m. with gates opening at 6 p.m.

Here are a few of our tips to enhance your experience:
  • Arrive early and pack a picnic basket. The amphitheatre fills up fast, so enjoy your dinner while waiting for the play to start. We brought a baguette, cheeses, greek salad and strawberries. Nom, nom, nom.
  • Wine isn’t *technically* allowed; however, if you bring plastic cups and a tetrapak no one will complain.
  • Bring a blanket to sit on and a pillow for your back.
  • Bug spray! They weren’t bad while we were there, but better to be safe than sorry.
  • Turn off your cell phone, relax and enjoy the hilarity of the play and the opportunity to experience one of Toronto’s best summer traditions.

Fashion-able: Natural beauty products

While we do love the occasional shellac, and we can’t
honestly boast that the majority of our day-to-day beauty products are all
natural, we do like to try and use natural beauty products when possible. Whether it’s for sensitive skin, dry and brittle nails or any other sensitivities, we’ve found that switching over to natural products can be a
pretty quick fix. And while the selection doesn’t always compare to
conventional products, your body will thank you.


Skincare

Consonant Skincare
Consonant Skincare, a line of Canadian-made 100% natural, chemical-free skincare products just recently came out with 100% Natural Matte Finish Sunscreen. Because it’s matte, non-greasy and leaves no white residue, it’s perfect for every day use on top of moisturizer, and makes for a great make up primer.


Consonant’s moisturizer is also a great summer product because it’s light, but also effectively moisturizes and hydrates skin that spent just a little too much time in the sun. 



Another great natural brand is Kiss My Face. Their line of cream and spray sunscreens are available in SPF 30 for the body and SPF 50 for the face. Their sunscreens also contain aloe which soothes and moisturizes skin while protecting it. We also love the Sport Lip Balm in SPF 30, because if you’ve ever burned your lips, you will never make the same mistake again.



Hair care

With a collection that includes six shampoos and four conditioners, not only do Aesop products use the finest natural ingredients, they smell amazing as well. Unlike a lot of natural shampoos, Aesop’s products actually cater to different hair types with options like volumizing, colour protection and equalizing shampoo. 




Green Beaver
Another line of delicious smelling shampoos and conditioners is Green Beaver. This line which includes scents such as Cranberry Delight, Fresh Mint, and Lavender Rosemary is perfect for a summer shower in the lake, or just to stay smelling fresh on hot, humid days. And because no natural line of products is complete without a gluten-free option, Green Beaver offers gluten-free shampoo (we are as confused as you are).





Makeup



RMS
We have holistic nutrionist and owner of Joyous Health Joy McCarthy to thank for this great find. Her favourite product (and one we plan on buying) is RMS lip2cheek. Essentially a lipstick and blush in one, this convenient beauty product combines hydration, protection and mineral colour for a casual, simple look. Another great product they have is a cream eye shadow. We recently fell in love with cream eye shadow for it’s foolproof application and lasting power, so bonus that we’ve found a natural option!





Pure Anada
Made in Canada, Pure Anada has a great selection of completely natural makeup products and brushes. From foundation to tinted moisturizer to eyeliner, there is a product to suit every makeup need.






Nail Polish

Zoya  
We were delighted to find out that Zoya nail polish is toxin-free! We have used many of their 300 colours (and four seasonal collections) in the past and will be using them a lot more now. They also have a great 3-in-1 nail polish remover that is gentle on nails and smells like lavender.



Suncoat
Priding themselves on being “the cleanest nail polish on the planet”, Suncoat is water-based and available in over 30 colours. They also sell a completely natural nail polish remover, so while there aren’t as many colour options as most conventional nail polishes, this polish and remover combination is extremely gentle on your nails. 





While we’ve only listed a couple products from each brand, many have entire lines of natural products. So if you try their shampoo and love it, why not see what their moisturizer is like?

City Living: Loving our city

There’s no place like home. When you live in a city like Toronto, it’s not always
necessary to venture north to sit in four hours of traffic. We have a decently clean lake (thanks, zebra mussels!), we
have patios that serve cold drinks and we have parks with grass. What else do you need? Forget leaving the city the second the clock hits 5 p.m. on Friday, and stick around here. Lots to do, plus at the end of the day, you get to
sleep in your own bed. Score.


Here are our suggestions to skip the “staycation” or “Occupy Summer” movements
and simply learn how to relax and enjoy our own surroundings. Many of these activities seem obvious, but how many of you actually take advantage of this stuff? Exactly.

For some excitement:
Release your inner child and head to Canada’s Wonderland. Don’t worry
about not being entertained. The large-and-in-charge Leviathan made its debut in May and promises three and half minutes of a stomach-dropping, silent
screaming, hair-raising good time. We dare you. Don’t forget about the
funnel cakes, but maybe save them for after the ride.

Stay up to date with @WonderlandNews.

For a little R&R:

Get your beach on. Former parking lot-turned-urban oasis, Sugar Beach is one of Toronto’s prettiest man-made beaches. Located at the bottom of Lower Jarvis, this hotspot has sand, umbrellas, trees and the best view in the house of our city’s waterfront. Sugar Beach is a great way to spend a day; food, shops and shade are just steps
away should you need a break. Plus, bands will often make their way down here to play concerts. Nothing better than a little live music with your ray-catching.

The pink umbrellas are just part of the charm.
Image source.

For an afternoon
adventure
:
Get moving – rent a Bixi or hop on your own wheels and take a tour of a part of Toronto you haven’t seen yet. We’re blessed with so many neighbourhoods with unique personalities. From the food to the people to the fashion, be surprised at your
city’s offerings and Bixi’s convenience. Grab a friend to discover Balwin’s
intimate selection of patios, people-watch up in Yorkville, discover the hidden charms of the Bridal Path and Forest Hill, or check out the changes in Regent Park. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Plus, you’ll get a li’l exercise to boot.


Follow them @BixiToronto.

For a little patriotism:
Head to the Skydome (uhh – Roger’s Center), tap into your competitive side and cheer on our Jays. Toronto’s Major Leaguers have launched into this season full force and need all our
support. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, indulge in the overpriced food and
beer, and enjoy that we Torontonians may actually have a shot at playoffs; if
you’re a Leaf fan, you’ll understand.

We promise, this sport is one of the best to watch right now, since the Jays actually have a shot at winning.
Image source.

Show them a little online love: @BlueJays.
For a little arts
& culture:
After soaking up some stifling rays, recharge your
inner-genius with air conditioned trips to the ROM for some prehistoric adventure (they’ve got a groovy new dinosaur exhibit. EVERYONE loves dinos), the AGO
for the Picasso exhibit (hurry! It ends this August) and if you need
to compromise with the athlete (or tourist) in your life, the Hockey Hall of Fame is also a museum, of sorts. Have some fun playing goalie.



This beautiful building houses all things hockey.
Image source.

And that’s just a sampling of everything there is to do here at home. For any out-of-towners visiting Toronto this summer, hit us up @rockitpromo for even more recos.

Photo Friday: Summer Lovin’

Oh, the hot, hazy days of summer! While many of us moan and groan about the humidity (and the frizzy hair that comes with it), we can’t help but love summer: drinks on the patio, fun fashions and, of course, a drastic increase in shirtless hunks

Today’s Photo Friday rounds up a few of our favourite (summery) things, which are sure to be eye-candy once the temperature dips below zero. 


























Rave: Songs of summer

We thought it high time that we introduce another summer playlist, with all of our favourite anthems of summer. Nothing beats a summer Monday morning like a new playlist.


There’s quite the range of songs here, something for everyone. Chances are if you happen to wander up to the fourth floor, you’ll hear one of these blasting. Check out our past playlists here and here  and don’t forget our running playlist

Yum, Yum: Sangria in the City

If you’re like us, there are certain types of drinks that are enjoyed during weekend brunch. Sangria is one of them. While weekend brunching with girlfriends, a fruity sangria option often jumps off the menu as the thirst-quencher of choice, especially on a hot day. And since summer weather showed up a little earlier this year, our patio season and summery refreshment tour has been in full force since, well, March if we’re honest.


As the hunt continues, here are three establishments who have seemed to perfect the boozy punch:

Milagro (Three locations: 5 Mercer St., 3187 Yonge St. and 783 Queen W.)

Juicy and refreshing.

With a broad selection of sangria to please even the pickiest of taste buds, Milagro has six blends, including their ‘American’ blend that’ll put a little hair on your chest, complete with bourbon AND peach schnapps. Why not, huh? Summer suggestion: Sangria de Mango…in a pitcher. 


Psst: They have special deals on sangria on Thursdays. What better day to end the week than a delicious glass or two of this cocktail, for less?

Follow @Milagro_cantina on Twitter.
School (70 Fraser Ave.)



School sticks to the basics: red and white. I mean, sure, you could mix them if you want a rose. School creatively serves their wine concoction by glass and by flask. Suggestion: try both! Sangria white is slightly more innocent, combing pinot grigio with green grapes and apples, while the red is a little more daring, mixing rioja (Spanish wine) with orange and cinnamon. Again, enjoy them in a flask.


If you give their Sangria an A+, tell them @schoolville.
Café Nervosa (75 Yorkville Ave.)

Enjoy a frosty glass of sangria and keep an eye out for celebs on this beautiful patio.

This Yorkville spot comes up on a lot of people’s “fave” lists and yes, their pizza is fantastic. But they’ve mastered their sangria as well. When we’re feeling like some solid people-watching and enjoying the quiet buzz of Yorkville, this is our go-to spot. You feel rather posh sipping on their cute patio, and you never know when you might catch a glimpse of a Jonas brother at the table next to you. Their sangria is strong and fruity, with fruit juice as well as the regular wine and spirits.


Drake Hotel (1144 Queen St. W.)
Ok, so we might be a bit biased about this one, but we can’t help but love every cocktail that comes from the Drake’s skilled bar team. Their sangria lives up to their high standards, and the Sky Yard is one of the best spots in Toronto to enjoy a summer cocktail. They’ve got some other tasty concoctions this summer as well (Rum + Raspberry Lemonade, anyone?) but we often stop by after work for a relaxing glass of wine, fruit juice and fruit chunks, complete with art, indie rock and some eye candy.

As always, Drake offers a classic with a twist – the warm Simmering Sangria.
Image courtesy of the Drake Hotel.



Pssst: this past winter, Drake had simmering sangria – a warm version of their summer recipe. It was amazing. Here’s hoping they bring it back next winter!


Tell them you want them to bring back the Simmering Sangria – @thedrakehotel


Victory Cafe (581 Markham St.)

Another fourth floor fave that takes us back to our days of undergrad, but in a good way. They’ve got one of the best patios in the city as well, and in case we haven’t made it clear yet, sangria + patio = summer perfection. Their white sangria is delicious and won’t stain your summer whites should you happen to spill a drop or two.

White sangria on this patio is pretty much perfect.



Keep up with the latest Annex news @victorycafe_TO.


Happy drinking!