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Read: Summer List 2018

Now that the weather is finally nice, a hammock, a book and a glass of wine sounds like absolute perfection to us! A relaxing afternoon reading in the backyard or at the cottage on the dock is the perfect way to relax and unwind. From Oprah's top picks, to the hottest celeb's favourites, we've listed our top summer reads! If you haven't already noticed, we love a good suspense! We have only heard good things about these books and are dying to read them this summer! Perfect for the dock with a glass of rosé. Hope you enjoy! XX. 

The Favourite Sister 

From the same author as the bestseller Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll has just released a new wildly entertaining addition to her top sellers, The Favourite Sister. This is what every celeb is reading right now! It's one of those books that you can't put down! A story of two reality television sisters, in a cast of five self-made women. From backstabbing behaviour, to lies and betrayal, the rivalry between the Courtney sisters runs deep. This murder mystery is one that you won't be able to put down this summer! Definitely a binge-worthy cottage pick. An absolute nail biter that is at the top of our list this season!


The Perfect Mother

The Perfect Mother, named one of the most anticipated books of the summer, by Vanity Fair, is at the top of our list this season! It's set to be a major motion picture, starring Kerry Washington. This suspenseful novel, written by Aimee Mollary, centres around a group of new mothers living in Brooklyn, New York. Every week they meet up for some much needed adult time. During a weekly meet up, one of the character's baby is abducted from his crib. This thriller centers around mystery, lies, secrets, friendships and marriage. This sounds like an intense mystery that we are dying to read! 

An American Marriage 

At the top of Oprah's must-read summer novels, An American Marriage is the story of a newlywed couple, a young executive and a thriving young artist. When they start to settle into married life and their new routine together, Roy (husband) is convicted of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to twelve years in prison. Celestial takes comfort in her childhood friend and begins a relationship with him. After five years, her husband is Roy's conviction is overturned and he is released from prison early. An American Marriage shares the story of a heartfelt love triangle and described a twist on the traditional love story, sounds the perfect summer read to us! 


I'll Be Gone in The Dark 

This chilling novel is based on the findings from Michelle McNamara, a crime journalist who desperately tracked down Pat Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the "Golden State Killer". McNamara tragically died investigating this case.  I'll Be Gone in The Dark focuses on her findings and her actual work that was done on the case. McNamara started the book, however after her death her husband Patt Oswalt, lead colleague and researcher finished the book. This true crime classic is a compelling and suspenseful read that creates a clear snapshot in American history. An absolute must if you're interested in the crime genre! 




If you haven't noticed already, most of the books on our summer reading list are suspenseful and a little heavier of a read. However, if you want something light and easy that doesn't make you think too deeply into a topic while reading, one of our absolute favourites that was published quite some time ago, is Tina Fey's Bossypants. It came out a few years ago, however we could read this book over and over again. It's raw, witty and not to mention hilarious. We love Tina Fey in comedies, SNL and found her writing style to be refreshing. Her "tell it like it is" attitude is humorous and makes for a light and uplifting read! If you haven't read Bossypants already, this is a classic for a light and easy summer read! 


Travel: Nicole's Guide to Paris & London

My husband and I had always wanted to go to London, as we both have friends that live and work there, so when I found myself thinking of a 30th Birthday present for him this past August, I decided that a surprise trip to London would be the perfect gift. Paris is also a favourite city of ours, and seeing as it's only a 2 hour train ride away we decided to make a stop there as well. Read on for my guide to London & Paris!

Enjoy! xx, Nicole


Where to Stay

St. James Hotel and Club Mayfair

We stayed a this charming boutique hotel located in the heart of Mayfair right around the corner from Piccadilly. The rooms are an elegant blend of Victorian and contemporary styles and the staff are absolutely amazing. I would definitely stay there again.

The Ned - Although we didn't stay here, we went for lunch at their restaurant, Cecconi's, and I was so impressed! It is a newish hotel, but the building has been standing since the 1920's. It was previously a bank and exudes total luxury. It has an old world feel which I absolutely love...think Great Gatsby! It channels 1920's luxury right down to every last detail. So pretty! 

Where to Eat

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at The Sanderson Hotel - This is not your average afternoon high tea. Inspired by Alice and Wonderland, this high tea experience is truly whimsical and absolutely delicious.

MNKY HSE - We went here for my husbands Birthday dinner and it was delicious. It was Latin American Cuisine all served tapas style so it was perfect for sharing. The vibe and ambiance were great. It turns into a club later on in the evenings so it's a great place to eat and grab some drinks.

Anokha - This was an Indian restaurant we went to which had a trendy vibe and tasty food. You can't go to London and not eat Indian.

Where To Shop

Harrods is a must! You can't visit London without making a stop at this iconic store. Even though everything is outrageously expensive, it's still fun to marvel at all the beautiful things. Selfridges is also amazing - I love their department stores because they are a one stop shop.

Where to go and sight see

Aside from all the main tourist attractions (Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, London Eye) which we were obliged to see being first time tourists to London, I would recommend the following:

Borough market is a must. If you are a foodie like myself you will LOVE it. It is a gourmet food market that consists of more than 100 different food/beverage vendors.

Notting Hill has got to be one of the prettiest neighborhoods I have ever seen. The pastel-hued townhouses are absolutely gorgeous (I would love to live in one) and Portebello Road market make it one of the most popular destinations.

One thing I might have done different....

I was VERY disappointed that I did not get to eat traditional pub food. On Sunday night we tried to get some fish and chips around 8:00pm and pretty much all the pub's kitchens were closed. I guess there is always next time...


Where to stay

I have been to Paris several times and I always stay at the same hotel, The Prince de Galles, and I have yet to be disappointed. Centrally located on Avenue George V steps away from the Champs-Elysees and right next to the ritzy Four Seasons George V, it's in a perfect location. The rooms have been recently redone and are all Art Deco inspired. The Parisian style breakfast is also delicious.

Where to eat

The food in Paris is absolutely divine, I could not stop eating baguettes, croissant and crepes. Thankfully we walked about 20 km per day. We more or less would stumble on little cafe's and eateries and to be honest, I don't remember the names. Here are a few places I would suggest visiting. 

Laduree - Famous for their macarons and pastries you have to visit their flagship location off the Champs-Elysees, it is absolutely GORGEOUS. The macarons are beautifully packaged and make a wonderful gift for those back home. You can also grab some at the airport.

Four Seasons George V Le Bar - Okay this might be the nicest hotel I have ever seen. You have to pop in and grab a drink at Le Bar.  I will forewarn you, they will run you at least 30 euros per drink but it's so worth it. Throughout the lobby and hotel for that matter, you will see stunning floral arrangements curated by Jeff Leatham.

Les Ombres - Located on top of a museum, this glass roofed restaurant has panoramic views including a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower which is all lit up at night. The cuisine is contemporary french fusion and the decor is modern and elegant.

Where to shop

Without a doubt Paris has the best shopping-even their H&M and Zara are incredible. I maintain if you cannot find it in Paris it literally does not exist. My favourite place to shop would be the Gallery Lafayette hands down (pictured below). This is shopping heaven!  It is one of the most beautiful department stores I have ever been to. Even my husband loved it-they have a whole separate building devoted entirely to men. There is also a beautiful rooftop terrace that boasts a spectacular view of the entire city. Nothing like sipping a glass of bubbly and overlooking one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

What to see

When I go to Paris, I love visiting all the main tourist sites, for some reason they never get old to me. In terms of museums the Musee d'Orsay is my favorite, I love impressionist and post-impressionist art. I also love the Eiffel Tower, but I wouldn't recommend taking the trip up. It's beautiful from ground level. Instead, I would recommend sitting in the park with a baguette and bottle of wine and marvel at it's iconic structure.

Montmartre is also really cool and eclectic. This is where Sacre-Coeur and the Moulin Rouge are. It's up on a hill so you get great views of the city. If you are spending more than 3 days in Paris, I would also recommend visiting Versaille, the gardens are breathtakingly beautiful. 



Currently Loving: Watch and Read

Currently Loving: The Shows, Movies and Books We're Excited About Right Now

If you're on the hunt for a good new book to read, a great movie to see or new show to watch, look no further! A few of us over here at V.O.C. have compiled our list of what we'll be watching and reading this season. With a few of us being self-proclaimed book and movie snobs, you're in good hands. We hope you enjoy these suggestions as much as we do! 



Sarah: "I'm watching The Fall right now. I'm obsessed with any kind of drama, murder mystery out there, and I kept hearing such great things about it. It's about an ongoing investigation into a series of murders in Belfast. Jamie Dornan a.k.a the actor from 50 Shades of Grey plays a married man with children who is also the unsuspecting serial killer on the loose in the city. SO intense. Don't worry, I didn't spoil anything for you!" 

Amanda: "The shows that I’ve really gotten into this fall would be How to Get Away with Murder and Narcosboth are on Netflix."

Shelby: "I haven't started watching the new Netflix series, The Crown, yet, but I've heard amazing things about it so far - and it just came out November 4th! I love history and since it's based on the real lives of the Royal family, I'm dying to watch it."  

Jill: "This Is Us...I haven't started it yet but i've heard it's amazing! It tells the story of a few different relationships and families and is a feel good show...apparently some people need a tissue box on hand while watching. It's definitely on my list of shows to start."


Shelby: "I recently saw Inferno which is based off of Dan Brown's book. I love Tom Hanks, so anything he's in i've pretty much loved, and this movie didn't disappoint -- it's a must see!" 

Amanda: "I’m a huge fan of going to the movies! This fall has been great for new releases. I’ve recently seen Snowden, The Accountant and Girl On The Train. All of them I would highly recommend! The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, was suspenseful and highly entertaining. Girl On The Train was also great. I was dying to the see the movie as I’m a huge Emily Blunt Fan. Snowden was also a must see!"



Sarah: "I'm currently reading A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston. I'm a die hard Breaking Bad fan so as soon as I found out that he was writing a memoir I knew that it would be my next read. He shares so many inspiring stories about his difficult upbringing, how he developed the hunger to become an actor and of course many interesting and funny memories from being on set and becoming "Walter White". I love reading about people that fascinate me and learning more about where they came from, so if you are as big a fan of him as I am, I highly recommend it!"

Amanda: "A few books that are on my list to read this fall are Amy Shumer’s book The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo and James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces."

Jill: "If any readers have read Gone Girl or Girl On The Train, they have to read The Good Girl. It's a thriller mystery that is a major page turner...very easy yet suspenseful read." 

Shelby: "Right now I have Where The Light Gets In by Kimberly Williams Paisley, and I'll Drink To That by Betty Halbreich on my night table. I have no excuse for why I haven't started reading these, but i've heard amazing things about both. Paisley's book is about her life as well as her ongoing struggle with her mom's diagnosis of dementia - which I am really interested as both of my grandmother's had the disease. And Halbreich's book shares stories of her life as the famous personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman as well as many other stories of her career and personal life. I'm dying to read both!" 




Fall Bucket List: 5 Things To Do This Fall!

FALL BUCKET LIST: 5 Things To Do This Fall

Fall is one of our favourite seasons for many reasons...chunky knit sweaters, a great pair of leather boots, a warm bowl of chili, crisp mornings, hot cider, colourful nature walks, apple picking, football season, the list could go on and on.
So why not bundle up and take advantage of all that these short few Fall months have to offer! Here are a few fun ideas that are on our bucket list this month... 

1. Apple / Pumpkin Picking

Okay so this one has pretty much become a Fall tradition at this point. If you went apple or pumpkin picking and didn't insta a picture of it, is it really even Fall?! Just kidding...but seriously, not only is there an abundance of sweet and delicious apples, pies, and other baked goods as well as plenty of other fun activities at each of these must-see farms, there are also endless instagram opportunities. Shout out to those of you also carrying a pumpkin spice latte. 

Ha - told ya! 

Some of our favourite spots include: 

1) Chudleigh's 

2) Andrews' Scenic Acres

3) Springridge Farm

Once you've picked the ripest apples of the bunch, why not be ambitious and make a little homemade apple crumble?! #Treatyoself. Jamie Oliver has an amazing recipe that you need to try! You can thank us later ;)

2. Tailgate / Football Season

For all you sports fanatics out there, it's that time of the year again! FOOTBALL SEASON. Head out to the new and improved BMO Field and see our very own Toronto Argonauts play. 

OR round up a group of your closest friends and head down to Buffalo to see the Buffalo Bills play, #Merica. There are tailgate parties everywhere, and they are always so much fun. 

Even better, head down to Michigan (it's only a 4 hour drive from the city!) and watch the Michigan Wolverines play at the famous "Big House". School spirit is an understatement at this university. A sea of fans decked out in maize and blue cheering on their team, there is nothing more exciting!

3. TIFF 

The 41st annual Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to the 18th and we could not be more excited to check out some of the must-see movies that it has to offer this year! Whether you snag a pair of tickets to a screening or not, there are also so many more fun events at the festival to check out including a FREE Pharrell Williams concert (um, amazing), a night with John Legend (okay, even better) and filmmaker Mark Duplass, The Drake Hotel's LA takeover, and so much more. 
Or you could just head over to King Street (or Yorkville) and spot some major celebs out and about! Ryan Gosling, what?

4. Find the perfect chili recipe  

Chill is pretty much the unofficial food group of Fall. It is the most comforting, delicious, flavourful dish ever and perfecting your recipe should be at the very top of your to-do list this month. So we've narrowed it down for you to a few of our favourites that we've tried in the past! YUM. Be sure to click the photos below to direct you to the recipe! 
Martha Stewart's 30-minute Chili 
Chrissy Tiegen's Chili Frito Pie (aka heaven) 
Oh She Glows Vegan Chili 

5. Hike the Great Outdoors 

With the leaves changing colour, your hike will be that much more beautiful. So head outdoors to Webster's Falls in Hamilton or Rattlesnake Point in Milton for some major views. Bonus - you can get in your cardio workout and burn off all that chili and apple crumble you've been eating, ha! 




Toronto: Things To See And Do This August

 What To Do in Toronto this MONTH

With August in full swing we decided to put together a list of things we’re excited to see and do this month before we go back to school and the reality that is the end of summer and this beautiful weather. Wah! Let’s try to soak up the sun and the summer as much as possible these next few weeks!

Here’s what’s on our hit list of things to do in Toronto:

Taste of the Danforth (August 5th to 7th):
Toronto’s biggest street festival! I think this is the festival that started all street festivals. We plan to fast all week so we can feast all weekend. Not just greek food, you can literally find everything your heart and stomach could dream of! 

Blue Jays Game:
As a huge Blue Jays fan, I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer evening or a hot sunny day than at a Blue Jays game. The boys in blue are on FIRE this season (did we have any doubt?). With playoffs just around the corner, August will be a great month to see some ball! Go Pillar! 

Kensington Market Pedestrian Sundays (Sunday August 28th):
This is one of my favourite things to do in the city. Kensington market shuts down all vehicle traffic for Pedestrian Sundays – which happen once a month. Wander through the streets – grab some food and sift through vintage wares. It’s the most perfect way to spend a Sunday in the city.

Feast on Ice Cream:
I’ve loved ice cream before it became a thing – but now that it’s a thing I’m in heaven. Make it your mission to taste and try each of these popular ice cream spots around the city. Can we please talk about this Ice Cream taco at Booyah? I’m going this weekend….

Bang Bang


Bake Shoppe

Junked Food

Sweet Jesus

Toronto Flower Market (Saturday, August 20th):
My friend Natasa started the Flower Market in 2013 and every year it just gets bigger and better. It’s a great way to fill your house with locally grown flowers and plants. Meet the growers and florists directly and learn all their tips and tricks to keeping your blooms blooming. Go early!

Roadhouse Craft Beer Festival (August 13th and 14th):
It wouldn’t be the summer without a beer festival! We can’t wait to attend the Roadhouse Craft Beer Festival. Hosted by Steamwhistle at Roadhouse Park (Simcoe and Bremner) – it’s the perfect way to sample some of Ontario’s finest craft brews and feast on delicious food from Toronto’s best food trucks.


We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer!! XO 

Designer Profile: Heartloom

Designer Profile: 

Heartloom is one of our absolute favourite brands that we carry here at V.O.C! Based out of New York City, Heartloom is ALWAYS on trend, offering super versatile and stylish wardrobe staples.
This contemporary line prides itself in being both fashionable and comfortable...which of course, we love! Many of Heartloom's pieces feature gorgeous, bohemian-like silhouettes, feminine prints, and delicate designs that cater to both the uptown girl and the laid-back lady! 
Get this look here 
One of the greatest things about Heartloom is that you don't need to break the bank in order to afford one of their adorable pieces. Some of our fave celebs have even been spotted rocking this affordable brand such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Longoria, Kourtney Kardashian, Olivia Palermo and Lauren Conrad!
Shop a similar style here
Their Spring '16 Collection is absolutely to die for. We are obsessed with the printed rompers and vibrant blouses for the upcoming summer months. You can easily take any of their pieces from day to night by swapping out your sandals and tossing on your favourite pair of heels for a night on the town! What more could we ask for? Heartloom has got you covered! 
Shop all Heartloom in stores and online NOW! XO

Celebrate: Tips for throwing a baby shower

Tips for throwing a baby shower

In case you haven’t heard, our lovely Rhiannon is having a baby boy! So to celebrate, the V.O.C. team is throwing a baby shower for her. We're so excited! After some planning and prepping, we’ve come up with a list of tips and tricks for throwing/hosting a baby shower. 


Guest List/Venue

Before you start planning your shower, make sure to talk to the mom to be to see what type of shower they would like to have. This will help determine the size of your guest list which leads into choosing the venue and concept. Showers can range in variety from evening parties to afternoon teas depending on the number of guests invited. Dinner or brunch at a restaurant are also great ideas for a smaller gathering. 


It’s always fun to have a theme for a baby shower. Whether it’s gender specific or something more broad – it’s great to have a theme to tie the event together. Some of our favourites include: Nursery Rhymes, Backyard Tea Party, Noah’s Ark or a Floral Pink party. For Rhiannon, we decided on an alphabet theme. We have cute block letters to decorate the table, Alphabet cookies for dessert and are making a letter themed mobile craft for the baby’s room! 


It’s fun to incorporate the theme into the menu. The size and time of the gathering will also help determine your menu choices.   Light sandwiches and salads are great for an afternoon tea. An evening party could focus more on appetizers. Always ensure you have enough food for your guests and make sure it’s presented well. We’re planning to serve this delicious salad as part of our evening dinner!



What shower would be complete without games? We’ve selected some of our favourites for tonight’s soiree. Guess the size of the bump is always popular and we’re also planning to guess the details of the baby (Name, Date of Birth and weight). Games are also a great icebreaker to let your guests meet and get to know each other.

Follow along on social media to catch a pic or two from Rhiannon's shower!

Toronto Activities: 5 Things To See & Do This Season

Top 5 Things to Do And See In Toronto This Season

The holiday season has arrived and we are oh-so ready to get festive! Today on the blog, we're sharing with you our top five activity picks that we'll be doing in Toronto during the holidays. 

1. Skating at The Natrel Rink at the Harbourfront Centre 
Avoid the crowds at Nathan Phillips Square and try out some winter skating at the Natrel Rink, located right on our waterfront. With pretty Christmas lights in the evenings, this is no doubt one of the most scenic activities in the city over the holidays.

2. The Toronto Christmas Market
An absolute must for any Torontonian, the annual Lowe’s Christmas Market located in the distillery district has plenty to do and see. Being one of the most authentic European-style Christmas market you will get this side of the pond, you can find delicious food and treats such as mulled wine, glazed Bavarian nuts, and so much more (drool!). 

3. The Nutcracker at the National Ballet of Canada
A classic Holiday tradition in Toronto, going to see The Nutcracker ballet is no doubt a favourite for many during this time of year. The National Ballet of Canada puts on an incredible rendition of this timeless classic each year and we highly recommend you make the time to see it! On from December 12th, 2015 to January 3rd, 2016.

4. Christmas by Lamplight Dinner, Black Creek Pioneer Village
If you want to try something a little different this Holiday season, we suggest trying out the Black Creek Pioneer Village’s Christmas event. The entire village will be lit up only by lamplight, and they will be hosting a number of festive activities such as live choir music, a holiday-themed dinner, and decorated workshops and homes to celebrate Christmas.

5. Casa Loma by Night
Visit one of Toronto’s most historic buildings this season, fully decked out for the holiday season. The building has lit up their gardens in festive lighting and also have professional entertainers and live carollers for visitors to enjoy this December. Tickets are $20 making it a great date-night option! 


Travel: In a New York Minute

Last weekend I took a quick trip down to NYC to join Jeff and enjoy some QT with my roommates from Queens. Most people shop when in NYC; and while I love a good wander through SOHO or Barney’s – my objective while in NYC is to eat. There is never enough time or stomach space to indulge in all of the delights and spots on my hit list. Here’s my recent trip’s guide to eating (and drinking) through NYC.


Lunch at Jack’s Wife Freda:
I’ve been dying to check out this blogger hot spot for quite some time. To pass my solo time, I headed straight from the plane to their spot on Lafayette for a tasty lunch and glass of wine. Perfect start to my NYC trip. 

Drinks at the St. Regis:
How fancy is this? Lucky for me, my friend was staying at this swanky spot for the weekend. A few martinis and lots of laughs later we were in fine form for dinner. The people watching is superb and sometimes it’s just fun to see how the other half lives.

Dinner at The ACE Hotel’s Breslin Restaurant:
This “super cool” restaurant in the ACE Hotel is full of NYC hipsters. The crowd is young and very cool. I was keen to check it out after our recent stay at the ACE in Portland. The lamb burger was so good we had to have two!

Drinks at the Nomad:
We finished our evening with a nightcap (or two) at The Nomad’s Library Bar. We even invited our plus ones. A perfect end to a perfect day.





Brunch at Sarabeths:
This classic NYC establishment came highly recommended by our e-commerce guru, Shelby. Overlooking Central Park, the restaurant has A+ real estate. Everything is fresh and delicious. Try the avocado salad – it's literally as smooth as butter. Make sure to wash it down with some prosecco.  Afterwards enjoy an afternoon of shopping on 5th Avenue. The shoes!



Brunch at Little Owl:
Little Owl is my favourite restaurant in NYC. It’s teeny tiny and located in the West Village (Fun fact: The apartment from the TV series Friends is right on top of the restaurant!). Having only tried dinner at this gem in the past, we decided to test out their brunch. Everything was melt in your mouth amazing. We even splurged for some dessert donuts covered in Nutella. Yum!  

Lunch at The Standard:
Both the beer garden and the patio at the Standard are super fun on a Saturday afternoon. Located in the meatpacking district – this spot is always buzzing with excitement and way too many people.

Dinner at Del Posto:
After hearing hype for days we decided to check out Del Posto. We sat at the bar – which is way more fun and you can eat their A La Carte offerings rather than participating in the full tasting menu. Everything was delicious. If you do go, go hungry!

Entertaining: Throw a Halloween Party

Aside from picking your Halloween costume (if you’re anything like me, hours of thought and preparation are put into the costume each year) - the art of hosting a Halloween party is the next best thing.

Since scary really isn’t my thing, this year I’m opting for a fun, kid-friendly bash. The décor and nibbles will likely be overshadowed by adorable munchkins in even more adorable costumes but that’s a-ok with me! Take a look at some of my fun decoration and treat ideas that i'll be trying out this year!

DIY Balloon Decorations

Image source: Pinterest via 



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Marshmallow Mummies



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Spider Ice Cubes

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