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A Kingston Holiday Gift Guide


With the holiday season among us and so little time with all those festive get togethers happening from ugly sweater parties, gift exchanges and all that jazz. Trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be quite a challenge. In an effort to help you, I've put together a few of my favourite local finds. Kingston is home to talented makers who selling beautiful items right out of their homes, right under your noses or in wonderful shops in the downtown core. Whoever you're shopping for, this unique holiday gift guide is sure to inspire and impress:

For The History Buff

For the intellectual who revels in the good old days and who can't get enough of all things classic, this Fort Henry shirt is the perfect gift as it proclaims exactly what kind of person they really are. Those who sport it will do so with great pride!


Where: Visitor Information Centre - 209 Ontario Street, Kingston, ON

For The Outdoorsy

Whether you need to appease a camper, hiker or skier this season, I've got you covered.  The outdoorsy bunch can be difficult to shop for - they tend to require durable quality goods that won’t give up on them the moment they need them most. But don’t lose sight of the essentials - these cozy Kingston socks are the perfect item to keep warm no matter what activity they're up to. Even if that includes a bit of Netflix and chill at the end of their day.



Where: Waterfront Gifts & Apparel - 248 Ontario Street, Kingston, ON

For The Foodie

Finding the ideal present for every foodie on your nice list can be tough. But why get some fancy kitchen gadget, when you can please them with their sweet tooth. Locally sourced chocolate brand Cócó Chocolate Company has you covered this Christmas as their products can be perfectly tailored to a unique palate. From holiday inspired flavours of mulled wine spice to candy cane, they also carry your traditional dark chocolates and milk chocolates.

Also located at the Memorial Farmers' Market, this venue is a foodie paradise and a simple stroll through is a gift well deserved filled with steamed buns, perogies and of course these indulgent pieces of chocolate. 

Bon Appétit!


Where: Memorial Farmers' Market, 105-303 York St, Kingston, ON

For The Decor Lover

What better way to celebrate your love for Kingston than with a vintage-style linen pillow. This unique item will become a treasured family heirloom for years to come and a great conversation piece.


Where: The Kingston Collective, 303 Bagot Street, Suite 14 Kingston, ON

For The Artsy

If you're shopping for those who regularly engage in creative thinking, chances are, all they want for Christmas are a few good ideas. Unfortunately, those aren't yet available for purchase. Though items that they can draw inspiration from such as this print by local Kingston artist Anthony Buttazzoni will make the perfect gift. Conveniently located at the newly open The Kingston Collective - home to a collection of locally made goods from artisans. This could be your one stop shop for all your holiday shopping!


Where: The Kingston Collective, 303 Bagot Street, Suite 14 Kingston, ON

Who are your favourite Kingston makers?

-xoxo
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Behind The Scenes: Cirque du Soleil OVO


Cirque du Soeil is making its way back to Kingston with a new show titled OVO from December 7th to 11th - a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. Filled with mystery, beauty and moments of quiet emotion - it showcases the hidden, secret world beneath our feet.

Cirque du Soleil OVO

A company that has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities on six continents, Kingston is thankful for the arrival of OVO especially with the holiday season. This exciting show is comprised of 50 performing artists from 12 countries specializing in many acrobatic acts and I had the most amazing opportunity to get a sneak peek at what goes on backstage before opening night and get an insider's look at the 'fashion' of all the costumes!

Cirque du Soleil OVO
{An OVO performer fine tunes his slack wire act while also giving media a show.}

Cirque du Soleil OVO
{Backstage where all the practice happens}

Cirque du Soleil OVO
{OVO acrobats stretching before opening night at Rogers K-Rock Centre}

Costumes

This may just have to be my favourite part of any Cirque show as it is a world full of colours and costume designer for OVO Liz Vandal is the perfect fit. With a special affinity for the world of the insects, Vandal's signature style is inspired by futuristic superheroes and by suits of armour from all eras. OVO's costume design was conceived with inspiration from fashion designers such as Pierre Cardin, who focused on graphic lines and geometric shapes. But has also exploited the permanent pleating technique developed by Japanese designer Issey Miyake, which gives a certain rigidity to material and creates an organic effect. “We pushed this technique even further,” Vandal says, “by printing on colored materials, sublimation and eroding the fabric not only to stiffen it, but also to give it a metallic sheen.”

Cirque du Soleil OVO
{One of the funny spider performer reveals her sensual side as she weaves her body over, under and through the strands of her web.}

The challenge that was poised was to imagine a way to evoke insects without copying their actual anatomy. “The solution was to connect with the feeling of being face to face with a spider, a cockroach or a butterfly,” she explains. As the costumes came together microscope photography of insects reveals that the materials used in the costumes were remarkably similar in structure to the bodies of insects. How amazing!

Cirque du Soleil OVO
{Pieces of the Ladybug's costume who is big and strong but doesn’t realize it and full of life!}

Did you know most characters have two versions of their costumes: the first, more lightweight and functional, for their acrobatic performance, and the second, more richly detailed and heavier, for their life in the community! Who knew?!

Cirque du Soleil OVO
{Taking a glimpse at the colourful costume and wardrobe department of OVO}

Set Design

The set elements for OVO are quite unique as they are integral to the storyline. Drawing inspiration from the structures that certain species of insect create when they establish nests and colonies was how designer Gringo Cardia created an organic space and interpreting nature.

The overall setting of OVO is a stylized habitat that is home to the insects. At times it is a forest, at other times, a cave—or it could even be a house. Gringo’s objective was to create an organic environment that could lead to many other places.

With the characters onstage, the set design comes to life!

Cirque du Soleil OVO

See you at one of the many OVO Cirque do Soleil shows in Kingston this week!
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas


Kingston has officially become a winter wonderland and from outdoor activities that embrace the snow to those that keep us inside all cozy and warm, there's a slew of fun date ideas just waiting to happen. It's that time of year where holding hands spreads warmth but also love.

While cuddling and Netflix and chill is great, it’s always a great idea to wow your bae every once in a while. Keep things interesting, mix it up a little. And I don’t mean dinner and movie - here's my top 5 picks for you to enjoy this season:

1. Discover Winter's Secrets at Lumina Borealis

Kingston's newest winter attraction is coming to Fort Henry on December 1st - this is your chance to discover winter's secrets through a magical night walk experience. Lumina Borealis is an unforgettable outdoor winter event and the only one of its kind in Ontario. Get ready to enjoy an immersive and interactive event inspired by winter childhood dreams and memories. The perfect date setting - you will be drawn into a colourful and enchanting world.

Get your tickets here.

Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas

2. Let's Join The Fun at Cirque du Soleil

Cirque is making its way back to Kingston with a new show titled OVO from December 7-11th - a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. Filled with mystery, beauty and moments of quiet emotion - it showcases the hidden, secret world beneath our feet!

Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas - Kingston Ontario

3. Warm Up at a Local Coffee Shop

The city of Kingston is filled with culinary gems but we are also blessed with coffee shops that offer life's little pleasures complete with a sense of community. Whether you're a student, tourist or local, Kingston is enjoying a bit of an independent coffee revival that includes new cafes, small-batch roasters and fun artistic baristas. Perfect spot for a date, coffee shops such as Coffeeco or Juniper Cafe provide the ideal ambiance for every personality while also staying warm and lending topics of conversation to save you from awkward silences.

Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas - Kingston Ontario

4. Drinks and Mingle

From the wonderfully decorated Great Hall at Sir Johns Public House to the cozy Red House - these low-lit pubs are ideal for those who like to keep things simple in a casual setting with no added pressure. You don't have to dress to the nines or know how to pronounce the names of fancy beverages. Simply ask for a local brew and you are set to go. Also why not rock an ugly Christmas sweater for that extra level of coziness - points for creativity!

Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas - Kingston Ontario

5. Indulge in Dessert for Two

Who says you can't have dessert for dinner? Going out for just dessert is the perfect budget friendly date idea when you are trying to save money, but want to do something nice.You can go out for ice-cream or order dessert at one of your favourite restaurants. Those who love dessert know that Kingston offers up some delectable options - from Aquaterra, Megalos to Cacao 70, you'll have a hard time deciding! Or why not create a fun dessert bucket list!

Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas - Kingston Ontario

 Bonus: Stroll around Springer Market Square

Talk about romantic - Market Square in downtown Kingston is the perfect postcard setting this holiday season. Sure it’s cold, but bundle up and grab a hot cocoa from Sipps Coffee and Dessert Bar around the corner. Better yet, take your date for a skate under the stars in the Square - one of Kingston's best winter traditions. Or stroll through the neighbourhood admiring local businesses, art galleries and more!

Top 5 Fun Winter Date Ideas - Kingston Ontario

What are some of your favourite winter date ideas?

-xoxo
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Celebrating The Holidays with Minted


With the holiday season fast approaching, adding a bit of sparkle to your daily routine is always a blessing - especially when it involves time-saving hacks. Whether you're a stay at home mom, working or a student - we're all busy in our own way so a little extra help around the holidays is always appreciated.

Celebrating The Holidays with Minted

Meet Minted - a fabulous company I came across when I was looking for blogger business cards. It's a design marketplace of independent artists from around the globe - amazing right?! With stunning designs, this year thanks to Minted I already have my holiday cards signed, stamped and ready to go.

Hard to believe right? Well folks I'm serious - it's November and Minted has crossed off one very important item off my list. Who doesn't love to save time and make their holiday card beautiful from the inside out with an added personal touch.

Celebrating The Holidays with Minted

 They have a great selection of beautiful photo-cards, featuring the latest trends, and the best part - matching envelopes with the ability to have all of them addressed! Because honestly, who has time in their day to do that. Avoid the pen smudging this season!

It's as easy as exporting your contacts to excel, uploading them to your Minted account and presto - they are available to you whenever you order cards. Then you receive all your envelopes pre-printed with addresses in the design you choose! That's not it - you can also choose to order return address labels. The holidays are already jam packed with so many things to do, so I fell in love with these time-saving hacks that are a lifesaver for workaholics like myself.

Celebrating The Holidays with Minted

This year I was inspired by the ever so popular foil pressed card with rose gold detailing. Though I knew I wanted to incorporate a little bit of added personalization and highlight the city I live in. As a locavore and a gal who loves to snap photos, picking the right image for the card was the toughest part of the entire process.

You have the ability to be as creative as you want or if you need a little extra help, the Minted service team is their to assist you from start to finish. The options are endless from foil, letterpress, luxuriously thick or fancy glossy paper, the choice is all yours.

If you have kids drawings, a family photo or whatever your heart desires, this year's holiday cards will be a breeze with Minted

Celebrating The Holidays with Minted

Celebrating The Holidays with Minted

Design your artwork now at www.minted.com

Thank you Minted for sponsoring this post!
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Raise A Glass With MacKinnon Brothers Brewing


It is a proud moment indeed for Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Company as this week a glass was risen at a quaint gathering to celebrate the release of their brand new 2016 Harvest Ale.

Why so special?

Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Company
{Launch of the 2016 Harvest Ale}

This brew was made using 100% of ingredients grown on their own family farm thanks to their unique commitment of staying local. With farm-grown ingredients of Newport and Vojvodina hops as well as AC Metcalfe barley, the taste and tradition of this new brew certainly resonates with their farm and the region. As malt for the brew was malted just a hop, skip and away in Belleville by their friends at Barn Owl Malt .

Keeping the entire operation local has successfully allowed Mackinnon Brothers to set themselves apart from others in the craft beer industry. So let's give these boys a well deserved round of applause for staying local and true to their roots but most importantly for brewing a 100% farm-sourced beer, a goal on their minds since the inception of the brewery.

Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Company
{Bay of Quinte Executive Director Dug Stevenson, Mackinnon Brothers Ivan and Dan alongside MP Mike Bossio}

In the wise words of MP Mike Bossio of Hastings-Lennox and Addington, Harvest Ale is "sustainability in a glass" and that it is! So let's cheer to a glass of locally sourced beer - it doesn't get any better than that.

Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Company
{Perfect afternoon to celebrate a proud moment}

The final product in all its glory - the 2016 Harvest Ale.

Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Company

Where: 1915 County Rd 22, Bath, Ontario

For more information visit: www.mackinnonbrewing.com

-xoxo
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station


Fall is one of the best times to have a leisurely stroll in and around Kingston thanks to the beautiful yellow, orange and red colours that appear for just a short time each year. Take advantage of this and head out to Jones Falls Lock Station located just off of highway 15. Don't forget to bundle up, pack a lunch and take your camera to capture picture perfect memories!

A place that is filled with such history, Jones Fall, all said and done, is a terrific canal experience - worth the time to explore! So let's use that extra hour of time and enjoy our beautiful surroundings before that white stuff makes an appearance! This spot is less crowded than the ever so popular Rock Dunder just a few minutes away which makes for the ideal quiet hang out as it is also filled with several historic buildings worth learning about.

Snapshot of my stroll through Jones Falls:

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Find these red chairs as they make the perfect spot for lunch for two!

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

Strolling Through Jones Falls Lock Station

How to get to Jones Falls

Multiple entry points along County Road 11 off of Highway 15 are available. The bottom of the locks can be accessed using Kenneys Road by Hotel Kenny where parking is available just a few feet away. Other options include taking Stone Arch Dam Lane to view the top of the lock station.

-xoxo
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Apple Maple French Toast


Okay so here's the deal - when it comes to brunch, I for the most part always make egg dishes whether that's fried eggs, eggs benny or scrambled eggs. (You'll know if you watch my Instagram stories!) But lately with the fall season and chilly weather, I've been craving that sweet maple taste and what better way to indulge in that than with french toast along with another fall favourite - apples.

If you want a sugar overload, then this my friends, is for you - say hello to Apple Maple French Toast! Dessert or breakfast? It's hard to tell with this rich and indulgent dish. 

Apple Maple French Toast

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS

APPLE TOPPING

2 medium honey crisp apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup maple sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

FRENCH TOAST

4 thick slices of bread (your choice)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Maple syrup (to top)


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices, maple sugar, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir until coated and slightly caramelized. Add vanilla and cinnamon then reduce heat to simmer, cook 5-7 minutes longer while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly and thicken while you prepare the French toast.

2. In a medium shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth. Carefully place slice of bread within mixture until fully coated and then turning until other side is completely absorbed. Lift the bread out of the liquid and allow to drip off excess.

3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and place bread until golden brown on each side, 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining bread slices.

4. Place French toast on a plate and generously top with apple-maple mixture. 

Voila and don't forget to drizzle a bit of maple syrup over your creation!
Rosalyn Gambhir
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English Tea at The University Club


It was a quaint fall afternoon when I strolled down to Queen's University campus - a place I called home for four years. This time my adventure led me to the exclusive University Club with a gracious invite to attend English Tea Time.

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

Tucked away on a slight hill between Stuart and King Street overlooking Lake Ontario, I was joined by the lovely Jessica of Explore YGK and her adorable son whom was the sweetest little gentleman and got all the ladies attention! We were directed to the front hall where a gorgeous table awaited us by a big bay window. After a much needed catch up, we were showen with a vast selection of teas and of course our choices were unanimous - a traditional English Breakfast presented to us in a white porcelain teapot that I simply couldn't help admire while our tea steeped.

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

It was great to see such a vibrant and historic space offer this unique experience - you know, pinkies up in the air and little finger sandwiches with ladies who are dressed in pretty dresses.

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

As the chatter continued amongst us, the best part followed - the food and of course as a foodie, I was most excited and didn't know where to start!

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

Plated on a two tiered serving platter, we enjoyed mini sandwiches and dainty sweet treats all prepared by executive chef Keith Lee and his culinary team at the University Club. Sandwiches included egg salad, chicken salad, cucumber alfalfa and adorable smoked salmon pinwheels along with delightful cinnamon raison scones served with strawberry jam (my favourite!) and clotted cream. Quite the mouthful I know - but that wasn't all. Oh the sweets - they were marvellous from wild berry tarts, chocolate brownies and short bread.


English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

 Seriously us two gals managed to satisfy our cravings just perfectly and finished our tea time with a last sip to good times. This was the most ideal way to end an afternoon!

English Tea Time at Queen's University Club

Do I have you hooked? If you're looking to host a similar event, look no further than this wonderful spot with the most gracious ambiance. The University Club at Queen’s is available as an event venue and is the perfect backdrop for small intimate and elegant gatherings such a birthdays or bridal showers - the options are truly endless.

For more information, visit here or contact ucevents@queensu.ca to book your next fabulous event!

-xoxo
Rosalyn Gambhir
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Top 5 Fun Fall Date Ideas


Sweaters, pies and all that jazz - fall is finally in full swing which means it’s officially time to bundle up and get in the festive spirit. From leaves changing colours to pumpkin spice everything, there is so much love for autumn and the same thing can be said for the slew of activities that comes with it.

While it's hard to say goodbye to summer, who can resist the quintessential fall activities and spending it with your other half.  From apple picking to corn mazes to hair-raising experiences, I decided to add a bit of sugar and spice to my top 5 fall date ideas:

1. Stroll through a Magical Scene

Impress your date with a one-of-a-kind light show at Pumpkinferno located at Upper Canada Village. It is a wonderful display of over 7000 hand carved pumpkins, scattered in quite the variety of themed scenes under the night sky. This is certainly a road trip worth taking - you'll encounter intricately carved pumpkin sculptures from Elvis himself to famous portraits by some of the greatest painters in history. The best part? Don't forget to stop by Willard's Hotel on site for a scrumptious homemade dinner that will knock the socks off your date in a cozy atmosphere!

Top 5 Fun Fall Date Ideas

2. Admire Fall Foliage while Hiking

There's nothing better than sipping on a pumpkin spice latte and taking a leisurely stroll in the woods. With vibrant colours and a chill in the air, it's the perfect time to cozy up with your date and enjoy each others company. From Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area to Lemoine Point or Rock Dunder, there are endless amounts of trails for you to enjoy.

Top 5 Fun Fall Date Ideas

3. Get Spooked at a Haunted Attraction

If you're a fan of horror movies, scaring your friends or walking alone in the dark than you're in for a treat because haunted attractions are popping up left right and center. This is your chance to show off your bravery with a date at some of the scariest haunted houses such as Fort Fright but hey if you're aren't up for the challenge, they offer protection amulets that ward off the scary creatures.


4. Get Lost in a Corn Maze

Right or left? Who knows! Test your skills with your date by losing yourselves in a corn maze this fall. With fun themes, puzzles as well scavengers hunts, farmers have been challenging their visitors with new experience each year with fun and innovative mazes. Are you daring enough to enter? Why not head to Wolfe Island's infamous corn maze for a try!


Top 5 Fun Fall Date Ideas

5. View From On Top with a Helicopter Ride

What better way to capture the fall season with your date than overlooking your city with a helicopter ride! And guess what? 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours by Kouri's Kopters is right in our own backyards. It's clear why helicopter tours are so popular - they combine adventure and spectacular views. This is the most worth-while experience and don't forget to get your cameras ready.

Top 5 Fun Fall Date Ideas

What are some of your favourite fall date ideas?

-xoxo
Rosalyn Gambhir
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[name=Rosalyn Gambhir] [img=http://i1139.photobucket.com/albums/n543/Rosalyn_Gambhir/Rosalyn_1.jpg] [description=A locavore at heart, Rosalyn Gambhir is the gal behind the blog The Staycationer. Whether its exploring the local food scene with her foodie partner-in-crime or taking in the view from her favourite cafe, Rosalyn is always a tourist, looking for the next exciting adventure. The Staycationer allows you to rediscover hidden gems in your very own backyard.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/thestaycationer) (twitter=https://twitter.com/rosalyngambhir) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/rosalyngambhir/)

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