toronto recap

this trip was nothing but spontaneous and i loved every second of it…even the squatting den we found ourselves sleeping in. i posted a video of a fourth floor walk up air bnb and if i had to describe it in one word, it would be ‘musky.’ i think we both felt a bit rock n roll this weekend and as liberating as that is, i’m glad to be home safe and clean!

it took us about 8 hours to arrive due to road work and customs over the peace bridge. google maps lied and told me it was only 5.5h so ignorance was most certainly bliss. all i can say is thank god for empty coffee cups when nature calls.

we were humbled by 1. how many cars there are and 2. how big toronto really is! we spent most of our time in the fashion district, china town, kensington market and the arts & design section of town. we walked over 50k steps in 4 days and only saw a tiny fraction of what the city has to offer! so please take this recap in stride because i could go on for days about it and bore you all to tears. i’ll try to keep it concise :)

every day started out with us on a quest to sample lovely flat whites, cappuccinos or americanos. we loved the decor at early bird espresso brew bar, the quaintness of white squirrel & the overall vibe and brew by jimmy’s coffee (he gives you free coffee if it is your first visit to his shop)!

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a couple things that surprised me: it is insanely windy! hey, there’s a giant lake there so way to be observant melissa. also, the street art is incredible! i mean, is it regulated or not? any canadians want to help me out here? do they commission art? this isn’t your run of the mill, street tag and run away. these are legit and beautiful!

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eats! we enjoyed some $5 drinks and tapas at beast which was nate’s favorite place. our appetizer was oysters and beef heart which i’d never had before! we also sampled a couple raw vegan places that were just lovely! hibiscus cafe in kensington market where they have the BEST large salad bowl. also, feel good guru to balance out your french pastry indulging across the street at nadege. we also got free gluten free cones + vegan ice cream simply by stumbling across brunner’s grand opening!

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shops! one of my favorites was the coal miner’s daughter which is a darling boutique stocked with local canadian brands. also noteworthy is this amazing paper goods store called kid icarus. we bought a local candle (this one) and this print which nate is holding against our geometric wallpaper. he is going to make a black frame for it, and i can’t wait to have it up so i can look at it and be reminded of our memories in canada.

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lastly, the main reason we went to toronto was to experience TURF (toronto urban roots festival). some of our favorite bands were playing and we got to see jenny lewis (who is a total babe btw), gogol bordello (most energetic crew EVER), jeff tweedy with his 18yr old son playing drums (his stage banter is the best) and finally neutral milk hotel of cult indie fame. it was an exhausting weekend but well worth it!

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have you ever visited toronto? what did i miss out on this time? i might just have to schedule a return trip :)

whirlwind trip

this past holiday weekend, nate and i went to toronto! boy were we in for some treats :) lovely people, music, drink & eats and perfect weather rounded out a trip we will never forget. i’ll be back soon with the highlights and personal recommendations of our favorites!

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like it could all happen, that’s why i’m leaving

well hey there! is anyone still out there? here’s a random smattering of things lately:

1. ultraviolence by lana del ray. get. it.

2. had the fortune of stumbling onto this lovely lady’s new online shop. if you’re a natural beauty junkie then go here for a lovely selection of makeup and skincare products! my picks: this deodorant which smells like berries and cake! also, picked up a totally luxe pangea organics body wash that smells like pine and amazing herbs. i rub my hands together in the shower and just breathe deeply. smells like i’m in the woods! also in the package was a free matcha mask which i used post haste! it smells really earthy and herbal and pulled the gunk out for sure! my skin felt nice and smooth afterwards without any redness or irritation so this would be great for sensitive skin!

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3. oh yeah, i got a thigh piece on sunday. i am so in love with it! go to my private instagram to see it :)

4. lastly, we’re heading to toronto! it’s my first time in the city and i’m pretty stoked about it! i obviously had to consult these beauties to get the low down on where to eat, drink, and see while we are there. i’ll be sure to report back with our adventures…someone has gotta do research right? ;)

alright guys, i need some road trip music suggestions! give me some love in the comments x-m

the struggle is real

we’ve been spending more time out in nature and less time in front of our screens. it’s been great for the soul!

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also, i’m so guilty of this…worrying too much about what other people think. it holds me back man. i’m not living up to my fullest potential and i’m horribly aware of it. if you read nothing else today, please read this: go tame your mammoth!

see you soon! x-m

a weekend reflection

happy weekend–it’s gonna be absolutely perfect! sunshine and the warmth on my skin has been such a relief after the harsh winter we’ve left behind. speaking of moving past seasons, i’ve been working through some stuff since the beginning of this year. i think i’ve finally stopped grieving the loss. i’m still on the fence if i should share the story on TDP, and i’m not intentionally trying to be all cryptic. i mean, i get that this is a public blog and privacy is not something i can ‘claim’ when i put myself out here in the land of the interwebz. however, i don’t wish to incite the parties involved or re-open a wound. i am the victim/on the receiving end of the debacle but perhaps in sharing my story, i might help others not feel so alone. we’ll see, gotta think on it some more! just know….

We work hard to disown the parts of our lives that were painful, difficult, or sad. But just as we can’t rip chapters out of a book and expect the story to still make sense, so we cannot rip chapters out of our past and expect our lives to still make sense. Keep every chapter of your life intact, and keep on turning the pages. Sooner or later you’ll understand why every scene, every chapter was needed.”- Sandra Kring

now chin up and go enjoy a cool treat! ^_*
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not all men but. . .

oh boy. so here i go into a potential misstep in political correctness but you know what? i’ve stopped caring. i usually keep quiet on TDP RE:major news stories to keep it a light and friendly place. a spot where you can come share your thoughts and ideas, see some tasty food or make something fun. i share things i’ve learned and little glimpses of my life with you all. this is one of the most personal posts i’ve ever featured here so please forgive any typos. i am speaking from a place of emotion, and i hope it stirs something in you as well.

a few days ago, you might have heard about a story of a guy who decided it was ok to kill people because he couldn’t get what he wanted from them.i am aware that he didn’t just kill women but it is clear from his manifesto the gender in which his hate stems. aside from the obvious mental illness in which he suffered, there was something i couldn’t shake from this story.

before i go into this, i just want to say that i am heartsick for those who were injured and traumatized by this attack. we can’t bring them back, only learn and spread awareness. finally, please understand that this post is not meant to be ‘all about me,’ but in that sharing from my personal experience others can reflect on similar accounts. ok. now that i’ve disclaimered myself ad nauseam…

i’m a woman. one that has often felt the undercurrents of sexism and misogyny along the way. sometimes i intentionally turn a blind eye to a situation so as not to upset myself. things like a cat call when i’m running, or someone honking/shouting out their window when i’m walking home. i turn my gaze downward to avoid the leering looks and appear insecure. why is confidence something to hide in order to protect oneself?

i don’t look at anyone on public transit because i fear giving them the ‘wrong impression.’ i’ve been called cold or standoffish on numerous occasions. can’t you see i do this because i’m trying to protect myself from you? i know it’s not all men but guess what? i’ve heard too many stories/had experiences of my own to make me afraid.

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” - Margaret Atwood

i can remember things from my early teenage years that i now look back on in horror. i was told not to wear tight shirts and jeans because i might be tempting boys in class or church group to ‘stumble.’ um. what? this was the 90s…era of delia’s baby doll tees and mudd denim. how about a little self control? why was this my fault/problem?

i was given mace as a ‘gift’ to protect myself because apparently being a female automatically made me a target.

when i didn’t want to ‘go all the way,’ i was called a tease. no matter that i was not emotionally or morally ready. i had my own convictions but no one seemed to care about them.

i’ve held my tongue on many occasions in regards to feminism because i didn’t want to appear ‘bitchy.’ since when is voicing an opinion on the rights of other humans considered unsavory in this country? the wage gap exists and believe me it.is.REAL.

i’m feeling a revolution coming on and changes for the better. quiet women are starting to speak up. i am looking to the past for inspiration and ladies…isn’t it time we started eating pizza in bathing suits comfortable with ourselves again?

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be the change ladies. . . x- melissa

women’s health hotline
women’s shelter in pittsburgh

diy: the best cleanser ever & skincare update

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happy skincare sunday to all! so. i have a little secret obsession with skin care. if you’ve been following the blog for some time you’ll know that i frequently switch up my products and share with you tips and tricks for healthy, clear and glowing skin. our skin is changing with exposure to the elements, stressors and hormonal fluctuations as we get older. it’s critical to pay attention to these and adjust your regimen accordingly. here’s what i was doing in 2012 and 2013.

i’ve learned so much along the way and the good news is that LESS IS MORE! yep, a stripped down routine is actually more beneficial to long term clear and healthy skin than assaulting it with harsh, drying lotions, serums and potions. many of you know i work in a lab and the hvac system keeps our work day climate constant. this translates to cold, (like 65F on a good day) and dry (9 or 10% humidity) conditions. basically, i might as well be a flight attendant since the lab air is on par with an airplane cabin in terms of what it does to my skin.

i love acure organics products but i was finding the gel cleanser to be too drying and the fruit oils a bit too irritating for my sensitive combo skin. i was fighting an uphill battle trying to over-moisturize while causing clogged pores on my forehead. no good. so i had to switch it up!

i decided to make my own cleanser adjusting this recipe to suit my needs*. i’ve been using it for the past two weeks and my skin is perfect again! all the clogged pores subsided and the tone of my skin is hydrated and smooth. it’s the only thing i’m using morning and evening to cleanse–2 pumps and i’m good! i stopped using moisturizer as well and have been spritzing rose water to tone in the morning for a bit of hydration. in the evening, i am exclusively using 3 drops of jojoba and 1 drop of rosehip oil as my pm ‘treatment.’ you guys. i know it’s a bit of a leap, but consider throwing out your cleansers and make your own. i was scared to do this but it has made a huge difference for the better!

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*i made a 1/2 batch of this as a trial (this still makes enough face wash to last at least a month used am/pm!. also, i used manuka honey and here are some reasons why. i also decreased the amount of essential oil and tea tree by a few drops since i didn’t want to over dry my skin. most importantly, i stored this in a light protected glass bottle. even though many of the ingredients in this wash are antimicrobial, it’s important to remember that this will be stored in your bathroom so the less light/heat that gets in, the less likely something will go rancid.

would you ever consider making your own skincare products? it’s a shame that some of the most expensive products out there on the market actually cause more harm than good (chemicals cause irritation and photosensitivity)! if you have more than 3 products in your evening routine, you may want to reconsider one of them! the cream you use to hydrate might be rendered ineffective by a spot treatment or clog your pores. think about it!

without walls: camping edition

i’ve been getting a little itch to camp now that the weather is getting warmer. i’m already getting antsy for another adventure. . .
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it certainly doesn’t hurt that without walls (a spinoff from urban outfitters geared toward active lines) came out with adorable clothing. these are my wishes for happy camping!

Without Walls

scent//similar bag//socks//wear//hydrate//

have you been camping yet? love or hate the outdoor life?
any tips for natural bug repellent? they love my legs :(

fresh to death: my favorite condiment right now

cured lemons

as i sit down to type this, i’m already making a second batch of these lovely yellow beauties. they are salty-sour with a hint of sweet and the perfect compliment to any spring dish! i’ve been using a couple slices over savory dishes like roasted chicken or fish, or throwing some in a goat yogurt cup with fresh berries and mint.

i hope you enjoy these cured lemons as much as i do! patience and a large air-tight glass jar are the critical players in getting the perfect lemon-y goodness. this is taken from my ad hoc at home cookbook. Bon Appétit!

diy cured lemons (makes ~125 slices)
-8 lemons (3-4oz each), scrubbed clean
-1 and 3/4c granulated sugar
-1 and 1/2c kosher salt

method: cut ends off lemons and save the widest portion for curing. cut each lemon into 1/8th-inch rounds, removing seeds. combine sugar & salt into a large bowl. sprinkle just under 1/2inch of the sugar mixture into the bottom of a glass storage container that is about 6inches square. arrange a row of slightly overlapping lemon slices on top, and sprinkle another layer of the sugar mixture so that it covers the lemons completely. as you layer, the goal is to have enough of the sugar/salt mixture evenly distributed so that when it dissolves, all of the lemon slices will be covered with the liquid. note* it is better to use too much sugar and salt than too little, because exposed areas of lemon can mold without the curing mix. end the process with your final lemon and cover with a layer of the sugar mixture. put a lid on the glass container and wrap tightly with plastic wrap if you don’t have a lid. refrigerate for at least two weeks or up to one month. enjoy!

a thank you to the trail-blazers

hey everyone! how’s your week going? we are nearly 60% done with the week! what have you accomplished? are you proud of your progress so far? today, i was thinking about how i have become more comfortable over time with outwardly being a feminist. it’s not something i boast about to others, but there is a tiny fire inside me that burns whenever i think of how far we as women have come. however, i am passionate about the topic and definitely enthusiastic when engaged in that kind of conversation. i view social justice as one of the most interesting and fascinating aspects of human relationships.

i just wanted to say a little thank you to the trailblazers who came before us and share this pretty illustration i found today:

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1. read more about nellie bly here or buy a print on etsy here.

2. another fascinating woman-centric article deals with lab mice and their responses to being handled by gender. who knew i had ‘the touch’ haha

3. one of my favorite bands ‘matt pond pa’ released a donation or free album so you should check it out! i get the warm and fuzzies listening to them. they’ve been in my rotation since 2001!

happy wednesday!!