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7 Local Toronto Artists to Love and Buy Art From

Whether it’s a feeling or memory, art can evoke powerful emotions within us. Art can serve many purposes, from beautifying our homes by adding a personal touch to inspiring or comforting us upon sight. Art is truly personal – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Buying original art for your home is an investment that will bring you enjoyment for years to come, while adding mood and character to your living space. Art creates memories, which can be passed down through the generations, and it can also gain value over time.

Toronto is home to some truly magnificent artists. Buying art locally supports the livelihood of artists, and keeps the creation of art alive and well. Here are 7 awe-inspiring local Toronto artists whose art you could take home today:

1. Maureen Faith O’Connor – Photography
https://www.maureenfaithoconnor.com
IG: @maureenfaithoconnor

Reverence, photograph

Maureen O’Connor is an award-winning, art-based photographer whose work focuses on architecture and still life. O’Connor graduated from OCAD and has been featured in international publications and media. She currently has a new studio sale and fundraiser where $25-$50 of each sale will be donated to local wildlife rehab sanctuaries.

  1. Ramona Nordal – Mixed Media
    https://www.ramonanordal.com
    IG: @ramonanordal

Caravan Study #23, acrylic and bic pen on panel

Ramona Nordal began her career at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. There she studied under renowned Canadian artist Dennis Burton. Her ambitious use of colour and style of acrylic painting creates an overwhelming sense of energy. Nordal thrives on mixing past and present cultural influences, which give her paintings a truly unique aesthetic.

  1. Jamie MacRae – Mixed Media
    https://jamiemacrae.com
    IG: @jamiemacraeart

My City 341, mixed media on wooden panel with resin

Jamie MacRae is a Toronto-based artist with a background in design. His artwork consists of photography and acrylic paint, layered beneath resin. Combining his altered photo images with acrylic paint, MacRae plays with the juxtaposition of abstraction and urbanity. His collection entitled “My City” is inspired by his love for and the energy of the City of Toronto.

  1. Masood Omer – Painting
    https://www.artinteriors.ca/artists/masood-omer
    IG: @masood1519

Spadina Morning, acrylic on canvas

Originally from Karachi, Masood Omer has three diplomas in fine art: two from Pakistan’s Central Institute of Arts and one from the Art Centre at Central Tech in Toronto. Omer is a lover of art, and his paintings of figures, still life and landscapes carry influences from all genres of art. His forte is painterly style, and most of his works are done ‘alla prima.’ Omer currently resides in Richmond Hill, ON.

  1. Jeff Goodman – Glass
    http://www.jeffgoodmanstudio.com
    IG: @jeffgoodmanstudio

Penny Vine, blown glass, with satin copper metal finish

Growing up on the west coast, Jeff Goodman was always inspired by nature. His first love was woodwork, but while studying at Sheridan College in Ontario, he grew to love glass. After earning a degree in fine arts, Goodman began a three-year residency at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, where he grew his portfolio and reputation as one of Canada’s preeminent glass blowers. In 1989, Goodman established the Jeff Goodman Studio and began pushing the boundaries of glass design.

  1. Thomas M Sinclair – Woodland Art
    https://tmswoodlandart.ca
    IG: @tmswoodlandart

Naming Ceremony, acrylic on canvas

Thomas Sinclair is Ojibway from Couchiching First Nation. He grew up in Thunder Bay and immersed himself in the woodland art movement, and studied under Isadore Wadow. Facing some difficult personal challenges and the reality of systemic racism, Sinclair turned to art to not only heal himself, but his people. Sinclair’s paintings are bold, colourful and symbolic, giving light to darkness and bringing balance to life.

  1. Rina Gottesman – Painting
    http://www.rinagottesman.com
    IG: @rinagottesman

Once Again I, mixed media on paper

An award-winning artist, Rina Gottesman is known for her strong sense of colour and design. Through her use of lines and texture, Gottesman’s abstract paintings are bold and expressive. Whether she is working with acrylic or mixed media, Gottesman always seeks to create new and interesting effects often by hiding words, text or collages within her artworks for the viewer to discover.

What are your favourite local Toronto artists, and do you enjoy using art to decorate your home? Connect with BAZIS on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) to let us know!

10 Mouthwatering Treats You Need to Try in Toronto This Summer

Summer wouldn’t be summer without huge scoops of delicious ice cream and sweet treats to keep you cool and smiling on a sunny day. Whether you’re a donut fiend or a fruit monster, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of the best sweet treats to try in Toronto this summer:

toronto desserts recommended by bazis

  1. Machino Donuts –

    823 Bloor Street West

Machino Donuts offers fresh daily 100% vegan donuts. Made from scratch, they have a variety of flavours to choose from including their Caramel Passion Fruit Glaze with passion-fruit cream filling, Sourcream Orange, and decadent Ferrero Rocher. They also have fritters, coffee, and donut ice-cream sandwiches. Yum!

  1. Mango-Like Desserts –

    280 Augusta Avenue

Nestled in the super cool neighbourhood of Kensington Market, Mango-Like Desserts offers a variety of elegant desserts with mango at the forefront. Try their signature dish – a delicate crepe pocket filled with sweet cream and golden-ripe mangoes – or their chilled Asian-inspired dessert with sago pearls, mango purée, warm mango mochi, and fresh mangoes. Light and delicious!

  1. Grandmama’s Waffles –

    363 Clinton Street

Grandmama’s Waffles serves a range of colourful, delicious waffles, both savoury and sweet. Their savoury waffles made of non-alcoholic beer batter and their sweet waffles made of coconut milk and rice flour make for a scrumptious and buttery treat. Flavours include Sweet Chili Chicken, PB & Bacon, Black Sesame, and Hot Chocolate.

  1. Bakerbots Baking –

    205 Delaware Avenue

Bakerbots is a hip bakery located in the heart of Bloorcourt Village. With a wide variety of cookies and sweets, Bakerbots is serving up some of the coolest treats in Toronto. Inventive flavours are the focal point of this minimalist bakery with some of the best ice cream sandwiches you could find. Try their Beer n’ Brown Bread or Banana Pudding ice cream on a soft, delicious puff pastry.

  1. Summer’s Ice Cream –

    101 Yorkville Avenue

Since 1984, Summer’s Ice Cream has been proudly serving the best-tasting, highest-quality homemade ice cream, without compromise. A family-business that spans three generations, and local landmark in Toronto’s fashionable Yorkville near our 1 Yorkville condominium, this ice cream joint is sure to impress. Whether you like watermelon sorbet, cherry frozen yogurt, or mouth-watering chocolate ice cream, Summer’s Ice Cream has it all. They even have a Toronto specialty flavour called Toronto Pothole made of almonds, marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate chunks, road tar and gravel! Try it today in a sugar cone!

  1. Craque de Crème –

    1360 Bathurst Street

Craque de Crème is a snug dessert shop located near Casa Loma in Wychwood Park, whipping up iconic French crème brulée in gourmet flavours like tiramisu, pandan coconut, and lychee vodka. Pots of crème are hand-bruléed in front of your eyes for a perfectly-caramelized crunchy and smoky top. They also offer sweet macarons and other homemade pastries.

  1. Milkcow –

    2651 Yonge Street

Milkcow is a Korean dessert chain close to our E Condos residence at Yonge and Eglinton, specializing in organic soft serve ice cream with a playful twist. Not only is their soft-serve creamy and delicious and free of artificial ingredients, it comes in a sundae form with playful Instagrammable toppings, like cotton candy clouds and golden gooey honeycomb. They also serve pancakes, milkshakes, and coffee. Yum!

  1. On Third Thought –

    6 Markham Street

On Third Thought is a wine bar and gelato shop that serves pints and scoops, and more interestingly, alcohol-infused gelato! That’s right, you read that correctly – boozy gelato has made its way to Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood. Try Strawberry Mojito or Piña Colada with real rum for a cool, refreshing and memorable treat. Their gelatos are made with fresh fruit, and are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and without nuts or soy. They also make a delectable affogato, the perfect blend of gelato and strong, mouth-watering espresso.

  1. Goûter –

    300 Eglinton Avenue West

Goûter is an authentic French family-run patisserie, boulangerie, and chocolaterie. In store you will find gorgeous hand-decorated chocolates, flaky viennoiseries, and decadent éclairs, to name a few. Founded by Rodney Alléguède, a chef who has worked in Michelin-star restaurants Fouquet’s and La Maison Lenôtre, the flavours of Goûter will transport you to a Parisian café overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Magnifique!

  1. Fuwa Fuwa –

    2471 Yonge Street

Traditionally served at Japanese weddings for good fortune, Fuwa Fuwa’s light and airy pancakes are sure to bring a smile to your face. Fuwa means “fluffy,” and these pancakes are just that – a perfect blend of soufflé and pancakes topped with mouth-watering toppings. These Midtown pancakes are not too sweet but they come in a variety of flavour combinations including tiramisu, bittersweet matcha ice cream, and red bean.

We wish you all a wonderful summer and hope you enjoy these delicious treats!

Did your favourite place make the list? Connect with BAZIS on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and let us know!

4 Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day Virtually

Father’s Day is coming up in just a week and a half, but because the pandemic isn’t over, chances are we’re in for another socially-distant holiday. While restrictions are easing up, a small outdoor gathering may be possible if you’re vaccinated, but if you’re separated by distance, a virtual celebration may be the way to go.

Here are our top COVID-friendly ways to celebrate and honour all the dads and dad-like figures in our lives:

Take a Virtual Tour Together

While we might occasionally be able to have a socially-distanced outing every now and then, we’re mostly house-bound, relying on Netflix and food delivery for entertainment. Thanks to virtual tours, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to visit some of the world’s most historical landmarks, famous museums and popular attractions with your dad this Father’s Day. Explore ancient artifacts at the British Museum in London, visit with your dad’s favourite animal at the Toronto Zoo, or board the NASA tram at the Houston Space Center for an out-of-world experience.

Have a Zoom Party

Nothing beats giving dad a big hug on Father’s Day, but having a Zoom party is a great alternative. There are many creative ways to spend quality time together. You could surprise him with sweet messages where each member of the family explains what they love about him most; send him a gift ahead of time and have him open it on video; or make a slideshow of your most-cherished times together. Want to take it to the next level? Order your dad his favourite bottle of wine and get one for yourself. Together over video conference, you can host your very own wine tasting, while cooking your favourite meal together. Alternatively, you can order your dad a gourmet meal from one of these fantastic local Toronto restaurants.

Host a Fun Games Night

Game night doesn’t need to end just because we’re apart. Some of the best games to play over video conferencing are Charades, Trivial Pursuit or Most-Likely To. For the latter, you can print photos of each family member and glue them to a stick, and hold up the relevant face to answer questions like: “Who’s most likely to eat a bug?” Smithsonian Magazine has also curated a list of some of the most popular games, which you can now play online with your dad – titles include Monopoly, Clue and Life.

Watch a Movie Together

For those who want a more relaxed evening, watching a movie with dad is a great option. Schedule a time on Zoom, Skype or whatever app you prefer, pick a movie and you can all press play at the same time, or share your screen with your dad. Alternatively, Teleparty is a new free way to stream movies together. Teleparty synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to Netflix, Disney, Hulu and HBO. Some favourite Father’s Day titles include Interstellar, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Pursuit of Happyness and Lion King. Make some snacks, sit back and get ready to laugh, cry and feel truly thankful for your dad.

Have Fun!

How are you planning to celebrate Father’s Day this year? Connect with BAZIS on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and let us know!

5 Ways to Make Your Backyard Your Favourite Part of the House

With summer just around the corner and the pandemic still in full swing, now’s a great time to spruce up your yard and build your very own oasis.

beautiful backyard ideas

Here are 5 ways to improve your backyard and make staying at home more enjoyable than ever:

Design a Space to Hang Out with Friends and Family

Designing an outdoor space can be daunting, but the best backyards have designated areas that are created with specific experiences and ambiances in mind. Start your design by creating a nice and relaxing seating area. A deck or patio is a wonderful way to unwind and relax while enjoying all that summer has to offer.

Create an Outdoor Living Space

Whether you enjoy BBQs or gardening, sunbathing or playing with the kids, there’s no shortage of ways to design your outdoor space. Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your patio, it’s time to furnish it. Consider a nice dining table to host dinners under the stars, a sofa or chairs where you and your family can hang out and relax, or a gazebo or umbrella to protect you from the sun.

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Get Creative with Delightful Decorating

Now that your space is coming together, thoughtful touches can really elevate your yard. You might want to include some mood lighting, whether it be a romantic string of lights over your seating area, glowing tiki torches to keep the bugs away, or modern pot lights in the grass. Plant beautiful and fragrant flowers, lay down a stone path, or design a beautiful entranceway. Backyard water features such as a little fountain can make your oasis enchanting and peaceful.

Splurge on Fun Outdoor Appliances

With temperatures rising, thoughts automatically turn to BBQs and entertaining on the patio. When purchasing appliances, you want to make sure that you buy things that are weatherproof so that you can stay out and enjoy the party. Consider a BBQ, grill, or pizza oven to cook fabulous meals, and a cooler to keep your drinks cold. Install some Bluetooth speakers to listen to music while you spend time in your beautiful backyard. If you enjoy roasting marshmallows with the family, install a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace and bring the magic of camping to your very own backyard.

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Enjoy the Summer and Have Fun!

Now that you’ve set up your beautiful oasis, it’s time to have fun! Fun comes in many shapes and forms. If you have kids, you could build forts or tree houses, or invest in a tent and camp under the stars. Build a swimming pool and splash around in the sun, or set up a badminton net and get your game on! Grow a fruit and vegetable garden. The options are endless.

Are you planning on upgrading your backyard this summer? Connect with BAZIS on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and let us know!

7 Fun Activities to Do in Toronto This Spring That You Didn’t Know About

Torontonians, it’s time to get creative! With many of our regular spring activities shuttered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – from backyard BBQs with neighbours and friends to patio cocktails, concerts, art shows and Blue Jays games – this is the season to think outside the box. Toronto has so much to do and discover, even amidst our current circumstances. And the weather is beautiful – so get outside and enjoy!

Here are 7 fun activities to do in Toronto this season that you probably didn’t know about:

#1: Take a Self-Guided Historical Building Walking Tour  

Toronto is full of history, and that includes plenty of beautiful historical buildings. A walking tour of Toronto’s historical buildings is a great way to spend an afternoon, getting to know the City of Toronto on a deeper level while enjoying the incredible architecture and fresh air.

Check out this self-guided walking tour. Just download the app and you’ll be guided through Toronto’s architectural and historical hot spots, including Gooderham, Daniel Brook Building, Massey Hall, and more.

#2: Discover the Toronto Waterfront Like Never Before

We all know and love the Toronto waterfront, but have you explored all of the different Lake Ontario views that the lakefront has to offer? Take a tour of the waterfront with this self-guided waterfront walking tour. As with the self-guided historical building walking tour, just download the app and you’ll be guided along your route, from the Harbourfront Centre all the way to Billy Bishop, exploring all the lakeshore sights along the way.

#3: Get to Know Toronto’s Street Art

Have you ever really paused to stop and admire all the street art that Toronto has to offer? Catching a glimpse of a colourful mural can brighten one’s day, and in Toronto, art is all around us. Check out this guide to Toronto’s coolest murals and street art.

#4: Be Enchanted by the Guild Park and Gardens

A visit to the Guild Park and Gardens is like a visit back in time. This hidden gem is located in Scarborough, and it’s a historic sculptural sanctuary that’s sure to amaze and delight. With an incredible collection of rustic stone pieces of art and architecture from Toronto’s past, a greenhouse and beautiful gardens full of colourful flowers, Guild Park is an absolutely magical place to escape for an afternoon.

#5: Take a Visit to Evergreen Brickworks’ Iconic Farmers’ Market

Spring time means fresh strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, beets, carrots, and much more from Ontario’s farmers. This is a great time of year to visit your local farmers’ market, and the Evergreen Brickworks’ farmers’ market is a particularly great choice. With a bountiful selection of artisan goods and in-season delicacies set amidst a natural oasis, this is a fresh way to start any spring weekend.

#6: Check Out the Spring Countdown at the Bentway

How cool is this? To symbolize the changing of the seasons, a 7,000 pound block of ice has been set up at The Bentway, encasing a Muskoka chair. As the weather warms up, the ice will melt, gradually revealing one of the classic symbols of Canadian summers. This is a fun and natural spring countdown, and it’s worth a visit for its sheer uniqueness.

#7: Go for a Paddle on the Humber River

Did you know you can rent a canoe or kayak, and take a paddle along the Humber River? Head to Etienne Brule Park, as it’s a great point to start your paddle. You’ll forget you’re even in the city as you make your way down the river, connecting with nature and enjoying the breeze and the gorgeous views.

Make sure to follow all city regulations in accordance with the latest lockdown, including sticking to exploring areas in your neighbourhood until the stay-at-home order has passed.

Which activity are you looking forward to the most this spring? Connect with BAZIS on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and let us know!

How to Build a 50+-Storey Tower in 10 Simple Steps

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Have you ever wondered how Toronto’s soaring high-rise condominium towers are constructed? Creating a building is a complicated endeavour that involves a lot of planning and many different types of construction professionals working together, from architects and city planners to engineers of all types (mechanical engineers, structural engineers, electrical engineers and civil engineers), interior designers, elevator consultants, acoustical consultants, geotechnical consultants, marketers, and a construction team, including the general contractors and their sub-contractors. It’s a full team effort and everything must be coordinated like an orchestra’s performance.

To learn more about the construction process of Toronto’s condos, we’re excited to present the latest installment of our How It’s Done series: How to Build a 50+-Storey Tower in 10 Simple Steps.

Without further ado:

#1: Finding the Perfect Location

Every iconic condominium starts with an idea and a vision – and a land assessment, too. Toronto builders and developers are always on the hunt for optimal sites to build a new condo. An ideal location is one where the land is underused but in a great or upcoming neighbourhood.

Once the development team finds a site, an assessment must be made as to the site’s viability. The team will review the land value, development possibilities, local bylaws and zoning regulations, neighbourhood characteristics, access to public transportation and more. This dynamic assessment typically involves a wide variety of professionals, from architects and market professionals to urban planners, contractors and a legal team.

If the team decides that the project makes sense and that the market will supply enough demand for a condominium at the chosen site, then the development site is secured.

#2: Design and Planning

Once the site has been purchased, the builder or developer will typically hire all of the key players needed to design, plan and complete the project. This team usually includes a construction contractor, structural engineers, a financing team or lender, interior designers and many others.

Each of these team members is involved in the planning phase, and there is much to plan. It goes far beyond the design of the building and architectural drawings. Every detail must be considered at this stage, from elevator design to landscape design to legal issues.

This is also the stage during which to engage the general public and the city – getting their support is essential.

Once the project has been meticulously planned out, it typically goes to market and presales begin. Most builders in Canada aim to sell a certain percentage of the condo suites in the pre-construction phase in order to finance the condo’s construction.

#3: Prepare the Lot

The project has been designed and presales are well underway. Now we’re ready to start construction!

First of all, the land is cleared and a giant hole is dug. Often the hole is a few stories deep. If the condominium is going to have underground parking, this hole will be even deeper.

#4: Lay the Foundation and Install Footings

Next, the foundation is laid. This phase can take quite a while. The foundation for high-rise condominium towers is made of concrete, which has to be poured in layers.

Footings are an important part of foundation construction. They’re most often made of concrete with rebar reinforcement, and they’re typically installed under foundations. These big concrete pads help to spread out the weight, supporting the foundation and preventing settling.

#5: Raise the Frame

We’ve gone down deep into the earth to lay a solid foundation, and now we’re ready to build upward. Raising the frame is a surprisingly rapid step compared to the digging and foundation laying that precede it. The frame is raised with the help of cranes. It’s during this step that the building begins to take shape and really come to life.

Did you know that high-rise 50+-storey condominium towers like the ones in Toronto are able to swing a few metres in each direction? This is to ensure that they’re able to withstand strong winds without damaging their structural integrity.

#6: Roofing and Siding

Once the frame is up, the roofing and exterior siding are installed. This includes a building wrap, which is a weather-resistant barrier that protects the building, as well as sheathing, which is important for strength and securing the siding.

#7: Inner Elements

Next up are structural inner items like floors, staircases, concrete support walls, corridors, beams, slabs and columns. Windows are also installed. Elevators must also be installed around this stage.

#8: Electrical and Plumbing

Water, electricity and other utilities are added to each floor as the construction progresses.

#9: Finishing Touches

Finally, all of the finishing touches can be put in: lighting, fixtures, cabinetry, countertops, faucets, carpeting and more. If you purchased a brand new condo, this is where the beautiful features and finishes that you’ve selected to suit your personal style will all be installed.

#10: Enjoy!

Once the construction is completed, the condominium is inspected by various parties to ensure that it’s a beautiful, safe and long-lasting infrastructure.

The condominium is now ready for occupancy and for homeowner move-ins.

condo countertop in a 10 storey building

Questions? Connect with BAZIS on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) for more news, info, and the latest updates on our communities.

Celebrating Chinese New Year and Welcoming the Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year starts this Friday, February 12 – the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This holiday is all about luck, health, and reuniting with family. It’s a major celebration in several Asian countries and also here in Canada and the Greater Toronto Area.

Chinese New Year usually brings together family and friends to partake in festivities and traditions that occur over a 15-day period. The celebrations begin with a family feast called a reunion dinner full of traditional Lunar New Year foods, and typically end with the Lantern Festival.

This year, the festivities will be a little different – and the celebrations a bit quieter – as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter our lives and gatherings. However, the same traditions, customs, and delicious food will prevail in 2021. Here are some fun ways to celebrate Chinese New Year this year in Toronto.

Celebrate the Spirit of Family Gatherings

Lunar New Year is all about reuniting with family and catching up with your loved ones, be they relatives or friends. This can be a challenge if you don’t live with your family or have to travel to see them, but you can celebrate the spirit of gathering with your family no matter how far away you are.

If you live on your own or away from your family, make sure to stay connected. Sending cards or letters can be a fun way to send your love from afar, and will delight the recipient. Make a date to connect virtually by setting up a video conference call, or surprise a loved one with a phone call.

Embrace Lunar New Year Traditions

While there won’t be any parades happening this year, many other traditions can carry on.

But first, gather your broom and cleaning supplies! Before the arrival of the new year, make sure to clean your home thoroughly to sweep away ill fortune and welcome good luck. Clear out last year’s clutter and splurge on some new clothes – beautiful red clothes, of course. Brighten up with some colour! The Lunar New Year is all about celebrating fortune, health, and happiness.

Enjoy the tradition of exchanging gifts with your loved ones, and giving children money in red envelopes. If you live with your family, you’ll be able to enjoy the New Year’s Eve tradition of gathering with your family to celebrate and enjoy sumptuous traditional feasts.

There are also several superstitions related to Lunar New Year which are said to bring good fortune into the next year and to protect against bad fortune. Whether it’s not arguing, paying back your debts, not cutting your hair on New Year, or wearing red, embrace all of your favourite rituals, traditions, and superstitions this year.

Enjoy Delicious Feasts

It wouldn’t be Chinese New Year without the amazing food. Even if you’re unable to gather with your family or to visit your favourite restaurants this year, you can still cook your own feast or enjoy some of the many amazing take-out options in Toronto.

From fish, chicken and dumplings to sweet rice balls, braised shiitake mushrooms, tangerines and oranges, spring rolls and more, you’ll want to enjoy the many delicious options associated with Chinese New Year.

Some great options for Toronto restaurants offering Lunar New Year menus include George Restaurant, Momofuku, Lai Wah Heen, DaiLo, Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant, R&D, Lee Restaurant, Eatertainment, Sunny’s Chinese, and Perfect Chinese Restaurant.

We wish all of our Chinese friends, clients and partners a happy Chinese New Year! How are you celebrating this year? Join us on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and let us know!

How to Create the Perfect Ambiance for Holiday Zoom Calls

Girl sitting with gifts under Christmas tree

The holiday season is looking a little different for many this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With physical distancing still required to slow the spread of the virus, many gatherings with friends, family members, and coworkers are going from in-person functions to online affairs.

Your virtual video calls can still be fun and festive, though! Here are some tips on how to create a cozy, joyful, and merry ambiance from your home that’s perfectly suited to all of your holiday Zoom calls, video conferencing dates, and virtual rendez-vous.

Girl taking a selfie with her dog

Set the Mood by Unplugging All Other Devices

You want to be present and able to fully connect with others during your holiday Zoom call, so take the time to create a peaceful environment by putting your phone on silent, turning off the TV, pausing email notifications, and doing any other things you need to do to create quiet surroundings. You may also want to attend to the needs of your pets, children, or any other dependents before your call to ensure that everyone is taken care of and calm. This will allow you to relax and enjoy the call without interruptions. Forget about your to-do list and enjoy!

girl wearing a red sweater

Get in the Holiday Spirit with Celebratory Garb

You’re not meeting in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up! Putting on your best holiday outfit (or ugly Christmas sweater), festive jewellery, and makeup that makes you feel amazing will help get you in a party mood – even if the party is happening from your own living room. Silly Santa hat, anyone?

If you’re looking at ways to make your home more hygge, check out our recommendations here.

girl taking selfie with holiday hat on

Set the Scene with Festive Décor, Food and Drink

If you have jolly surroundings in your home, you’re much more likely to be in a joyful, holiday-focused mood during your Zoom or video conferencing call. Set up your computer or phone so that the background behind you shows off your Christmas tree, twinkling lights, holiday wreath or other festive décor. You can also set the mood with holiday food and drinks, like a glass of wine or spiked eggnog and a tasty cheese place or slice of fruit cake.

christmas tree with snow flake

Opt for a Merry Zoom Background

Festive décor in your home not feeling so festive? Another great option is to select a holiday-themed Zoom background to use on your video conference call. Whether for desktop background or mobile wallpaper, there are countless fun, festive options available for download online – from a reindeer-patterned backdrop to a snowy Christmas tree, festive lights, holiday decorations or even a classic Christmas morning living room setup complete with stockings hanging by the fireplace and gifts under the tree. A quick search on Google will uncover hundreds of appealing options.

kids having a zoom call with relatives during the holidays

Involve Your Entire Family, Including the Kids

Kids sometimes struggle to focus on video calls and to participate in adult conversations, but engaging your entire family – including kids and even pets – is a great way to help them feel involved and included in the family celebrations. Let them show off their favourite holiday gifts or decorations, and encourage them to listen to the stories and pleasantries being shared by their family members and family friends. If there are kids on the other end of the video call, all the better!

We wish everyone a happy holiday season, whether you’re celebrating with your loved ones in person or via video conference. How are you connecting with your friends and family this month? Join us on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and let us know!

Luxurious Gifts for the One Who Has Everything

Girl holding a gift for the holidays putting it under the tree

Looking to find the perfect gift ideas and stocking stuffers for everyone on your holiday shopping list this year? We’ve rounded up a selection of unique gifts and luxurious stocking stuffers to delight even the most discerning gift recipients. Read on for a thoughtfully curated list of sophisticated gifts, just in time for the holiday season.

If you’re looking for other unique gift ideas to support a local Toronto business, check out our suggestions here!

photo of watch and booklet

Go for Unexpected Luxury

When in doubt, lavish your loved one with a luxurious gift that they wouldn’t be likely to buy for themselves. It’s always exciting to receive something decadent, whether it’s a statement ring, a watch or an exquisite perfume. Another great option is to simply opt for a luxurious version of an everyday essential – like a leather notebook, lush cashmere scarf, elegant bottle opener, special candle, stylish wallet, high-quality headphones or top shelf liquor.

girl sitting doing yoga

Gift Your Loved One Unexpected Relaxation

Amidst the hectic holiday season, many will be craving some R&R come January. Get a head start with a gift that’s all about kicking back and resting up. A pure silk sleep mask, plush bathrobe, essential oils aromatherapy kit, jade roller or gua sha tool will all set the mood for a home spa-like experience. Other calming, soothing gifts that will be sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face include a beautifully potted house plant or succulent, a subscription to Calm or another meditation app, a body and scalp massager, an adult colouring book (which are beloved for their stress-relieving effects) or a luxurious and cozy wool blanket.

shelf with items on it

Get Creative with Arts and Crafts

We’re not saying you have to DIY a gift (although if that’s your thing, go for it!), but both artwork and handcrafted items make for unique and special gifts. Paintings, framed photographs, a print from one of their favourite artists, a handmade cutting board, a ceramic mug or a customized, handcrafted tree ornament will all be sure to please. Gourmet treats, sauces, spices and oils are also an excellent option for the epicures in your life.

pink plate with honey and spices on it

Go Holistic with a Wellness-Related Gift

Health is on everyone’s mind this year, and we could all use a little help keeping up with our health and wellness goals. Consider gifting your loved one something that will contribute to their well-being, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Health-related gifts could include an online subscription to a fitness or yoga class, a Spotify subscription, books, a puzzle, a luxurious skincare set, an essential oil diffuser, a weighted blanket, a journal, gourmet herbal tea or a high-quality glass water bottle.

Lit candle and cups on a serving tray

Give the Gift of an Incredible Experience

For the person who truly has it all, you can’t go wrong with giving the gift of an amazing, unforgettable experience. While travel, live performances such as plays and concerts, and even visits to museums and art galleries are off the table for many this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are still plenty of experiences available for gifting. Consider a meal kit subscription for busy parents and professionals, tickets to a virtual concert or performance for lovers of the arts and culture, a cocktail subscription box for those who love to learn new recipes or an all-access subscription to MasterClass for people who would love to learn from the best of the best – like Gordon Ramsay, Serena Williams, Malcolm Gladwell and more.

Which gifts are on your holiday shopping list this season? Join us on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and let us know!