Friday Favourites | Places, people & coffee

Friday Favourites:

After three years of not blogging, this is my first fully personal post and I’m so excited about it. In starting to blog again, the part I was the most excited about was the part where I could be a bit more connected with those that follow along on my adventures. And, also, share some of my wisdom on life, love, weddings, and Toronto things. Now, I’m not an expert on these things, but I think everything is about experience and understanding.  We could all learn a little something from each other.

Friday Favourites will all be from the heart. It’s all from the trial & error experiences of my life. And, it’s gonna be a little personal at times.  

Once or twice a month I am going to share some of my favourites with you. Favourites like my favourite place to grab a coffee, my favourite spot to escape to in Toronto, a favourite florals arrangement or local florist, my favourite band or current song on repeat, the best piece of wedding advice I can offer, my favourite boutique/shop, even a favourite beauty product that really has become a beloved part of my daily ritual. And also of course someone I find inspiring. I hope you'll enjoy!

But first, coffee.

I’m a border city kid from a small town near Detroit where the only coffee shops I frequented were Second Cup & Tim Hortons. To be honest, I don’t remember there being a Starbucks until after I moved to Toronto. Being an on location shooter, I’m traveling all over the city most days and with random breaks here & there, I'm always in search of a good cup of coffee (even though it takes me about 5 hours to finish one cup). I started to find hidden gems all over the city and tend to spend more than a few hours in these places. So to begin, it's only fitting I talk about one of my loves; coffee.

On coffee: Crafted

If you know Queen West, you probably know Ossington. And if you know Ossington, I hope you’ve stopped into Crafted. My studio was across the street from this coffee shop for the past two years and even though I had a Nespresso maker waiting to be used, I made my daily stop (or sometimes multiple stops) at Crafted. Knowing the baristas by name, learning a little bit about them, knowing they knew my regular order and always starting my day with a friendly familiar face is what I’m all about.

Why I love Crafted: It’s a quiet little spot on a sometimes busy street with friendly service, an inviting atmosphere (they have a front room for people watching, a backroom and a patio too!), good music, and yummy cookies. Love the Design created a custom gallery wall that still keeps me fascinated. And the eavesdropping is the most entertaining, as the people who frequent this shop are more than interesting and always of the creative nature.

My regular: Americano with room. And, I always ask for the skim milk, which they keep hidden in the fridge. Shhhhh… you didn't hear it from me!

Beans: Crafted is one of the Pilot Coffee Roasters shops. They take their roasting seriously and extract as much flavour from the ground coffee as possible. The Pilot brand is one of my favourites and when picking up a bag of beans to bring home ‘cause Anthony loves making us coffee every morning. I always look for notes of caramel, chocolate, butter or spices. One of my goals this year is to really learn the art of making a good cup of coffee. Any tips from anyone reading this? Let me know!

On health & beauty: Charlotte & Castel Sea Salt Soap

My skin regime has changed a lot over the past year. Around this time last year I woke up with perioral dermatitis and with only a few months until my own wedding; my stomach was in my throat with anxiety.

Back story: I was a Dove soap kind of girl with little to no routine when it came to moisturizing, cleanser, etc. After 3 months of failed doctor visits and researching non stop, I saw a dermatologist who got me on the right path with medication and advice on what products to use and not use. Since then I’ve been big into looking at what products are out there and what works for me. The community on Facebook and the people I know there have been more than amazing in giving me a list of products and routines to try. It's been something I've really been looking into.

One thing I’ve found that really has helped with my skin (body and face too) has been the Charlotte and Castel sea salt soap. A friend gifted a bar of their soap to me as a thank you gift and then when looking into who else carried it, I realized my girlfriend’s shop has it. If you are in Toronto, pop over to Lover’s Land where they carry some of their sea salt soaps. My personal favourite is the Charlotte & Castel Geranium Sea Salt Soap they made exclusively for Lover’s Land.

About the product: Their product is really gentle on the skin and the scents are delicate, which is something that is important to me. I'm REALLY picky on smell. All their products are handcrafted, made in small batches and use the most natural ingredients. They take careful consideration in how they create their product, making sure it's eco friendly, which I think is really important.

Cool little touch about their product is that their inspiration is the ocean. That inspiration has resulted in them putting a little drop of the ocean into each one of the sea salt soaps.

On music: July Talk

One of my all time favourite bands is Toronto’s July Talk.

On a personal level: The band has five members and I can say that they are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I know them all personally as the world is way too small in Toronto. Often people think my music connections come from being married to the keyboardist in the Arkells, but most of them are through other means like photography, or in this case, York University connections. Everything is six degrees of something, amiright?!

I remember seeing them for the first time at the Horseshoe Tavern and was hooked. Peter & Leah were a force to watch. At that particular show Leah jumped into the crowd and ended pouring a blood like substance all over her. Being a theatre major, I totally digged this. The contrast between Peter and Leah’s voices are seriously killer, it’s like listening to Tom Waits and Zooey Deschanel, but way better in my own opinion. Josh, Ian & Danny complete the band and are some of the best musicians (and dudes) you’ll ever meet.

One of my most favourite things about the band is what they stand for, sing about and how they are exactly what they put out. In a male dominated band, with only one woman, they are collectively a band that stands up for women’s right and women in general. Case in point, read this Billboard article about a Buffalo performance where they stopped the show and set a guy straight about how to talk to women (and watch the video too!).

Musically:  The songs are catchy, cool and you’ll want to listen to them quite a bit. You can’t go wrong adding them into your playlist.

Fun fact: I tend to add them on my run playlist and can plank for the entire duration of Guns & Ammunition.

Video: Every video of theirs pushes the boundaries on creativity and really makes you think. Their videos (and most photos) are all black and white. Brand wise, they are always on point and consistent about everything they do. Every detail matches. It just makes me more interested in what they have to say with each thing they put out there. And they just keep raising with each and every music video they create.

Shows: They have a sold out show June 24th with Arkells this summer at the Bud Stage and it’s going to be an amazing show. If you have tickets, you are in for a treat. I was already booked on a wedding when they planned it, and if I wasn't in Muskoka for the wedding, I’d totally be rushing back for whatever I could see of the show. They are also playing Bala in July so you should go get tickets to that unless it’s too late! Here is a list of their upcoming tour dates, go see them!

On inspiration: Paige at Studio Bicyclette

Like a few of my friendships, I met Paige over instagram. At first it was a little flirty with the “liking” and “commenting” as things tend to be in social media land. It wasn't until a July Talk show at the Dakota Tavern that we finally met in real life. I had just photographed Leah from July Talk and Paige had just featured her in one of her Girl Crush Series. After a little chatting which led to some more chatting, we planned to work together on a small feature film called 90 Days.

After that, it was more creative shoots, hang outs, brainstorms, editorial shoots, adventures and wine upon champagne upon cocktails (as long as their are pink Flamingos to decorate them with and they are served in gold glasses). Paige has become a close friend of mine over the past years and someone who constantly inspires me.  

She owned a boutique on Queen West that was mentioned in Vogue magazine and has since shifted her focus to working with creative entrepreneurs in helping them find their voice, brand and style through visual storytelling, social media strategy and content creation. Studio Bicyclette is the company she's created that does just that.

Fun Fact: She is responsible for this beautiful website and blog that you see here, as well as helping me the past two years with my own rebrand. She is someone who listens, understands and creates magic with all of her heart.

In recent accomplishments, she began the Brand it Beautiful master class which is a five module class that provides a suite of resources and tools to help define your brand style. She also was a part of the Blush Creative Workshop at the Great Hall this past weekend.

The Blush Creative is a Toronto wedding workshop for creative entrepreneurs looking to develop their design skills and strengthen their business minds and souls. Our aim at The Blush Creative is to deepen the knowledge and styling skills of individuals interested or involved in the wedding planning and styling profession as well as focusing on business development and personal well being as an entrepreneur. Whether you are a seasoned professional, just beginning, or simply curious, our door is open to you.

A little personal: She’s also recently engaged! I get the absolute honour of documenting her summer wedding at her family cottage, a place that holds already so many memories to her, as that is where Paige was actually born. And, fun fact, Jason, her fiance, worked on the film 90 Days which is where they originally met.

More to come about this beauty, and for now, here's the face behind one of the most inspiring people I know.

On weddings: The Black Tux

On wedding advise:  When it comes to weddings, I tend to help my clients a lot. I make schedules, plan out places to shoot, give advise on where to go for flowers, dresses, jewelry, who to hire when it comes to planning, which venues suit their needs and taste and pretty much anything you can think of. I know I'm a photographer but I am always up for helping and with so many weddings under my belt, why not help someone have the best day!

Planning my own wedding was pretty easy when it came to decision making, but, one of the things I didn't know too well was where my man should go to get his suit. We went local and to be honest it's still the only local place I tell people to check out, but I wish there were more options. More recently I was approached by The Black Tux. And, now, I can finally say that I can help in all the areas when it comes to a wedding.

And, they even have rental options which are unlike any other rentals I've seen. Usually I cringe when I hear a groom/groomsmen has rented their attire, but if it was from The Black Tux, I could totally get behind it!

And, whether you are the groom, groomsmen or guest, they got you covered. Below is a wedding guest styling guide they created so you are never in the dark about what to wear to a wedding. And here, is even more.