This past Sunday I had the pleasure of visiting the STC Flower MRKT Pop-Up Event which is located in the Scarborough Town Centre mall and is focused on mothers day! The market is open from May 4-13 and it was absolutely beautiful!

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Credit @abhavphotography

The open-concept market featured tons of local artisans, floral-focused designers, and artists. There were so many great mothers day gift ideas and I wanted them all! (for my mom and for me).

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Credit @abhavphotography

They also had a fresh flower field (with real flowers +grass!!!), a patio swing, and a floral origami workshop space where you can make a heart shaped gift for your mom.

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Credit @abhavphotography

The event was definitely worth checking out! If you want to win a $500 STC gift card, a floral bouquet, and a gift set then enter by sharing a photo using #STCFlowerMRKT and follow @shopSTC on Instagram!

Happy mothers day to all the beautiful moms out there!

xoxo

Melissa

 

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How To Save Money For Travel

Travelling is something that most people love and want to do more of. The greatest factors that prevent people from travelling as much as they want to is typically money and being allowed to take time off of work. Well, I can’t help you convince your boss that a month trip to Thailand would help your future work productivity but I can help you think of creative ways to save more money! Money that can be used for travel instead.

So let’s begin…

How To Save Money For Travel

1. Stop buying coffee every day: I know that you probably don’t want to hear this… but making coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks every day will help you save a lot of money. A typical Starbucks coffee costs about $4.00 or more. $4.00 x 5 days a week is $20 a week.  $20 x 52 weeks in a year is $1040 that you could be using for travel!

2. Cook your own meals: Another big money sucker is buying lunch or dinner every day. Try to cut back on the number of meals that you are buying out and start meal prepping and cooking at home. This is not only good for your health but it is also great for your bank account. Save that money to buy food while travelling in gorgeous countries!

3. Sell your stuff: A lot of us have lots of clutter and unused items laying around the house that we could be selling and turning into hard cash. So take some time to declutter your house, room by room and put things for sale on Kijiji, Craigslist, eBay, or other selling apps!

4. Make a travel fund: Everytime you get a pay cheque take some money and put it in your travel fund. This will help you slowly start saving money for your trips and it will quickly add up! It will also help prevent you from using the money on other things.

5. Get an extra side hustle: Is there any side hustle that you could start doing after work or on weekends to make some extra money? This could include tutoring, babysitting, coaching, teaching someone an instrument, selling a product, or doing some freelance work.

6. Cut out an expense: Is there any expenses or subscriptions that you could cut out completely? Do you get monthly subscription boxes sent your house? Do you have a gym membership that you no longer use? Analyze your bank account and see if there is anything that you could cancel.

7. Stay in more: Instead of going to the bar every week, try to stay in more and only go out for special occasions. This will help you spend less money and in return have more money for travel. You will need to sacrifice a bit but it will be worth it!


Those are 7 ways that you could save money for travel! I hope that you enjoyed this list. Let me know how you save money for travelling!

xoxo

Melissa

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10 Things To Do This Spring In Toronto

Every season I like to make a list of things that I want to see and do. I have been waiting for winter to be done for so long… and now that’s its spring I am so happy to be writing my spring bucket list. So here are 10 things to do this spring in Toronto!

10 Things To Do This Spring In Toronto

1. See the Cherry Blossoms: Every year I regret not going to see the Cherry Blossoms in Toronto but this year I am going to make sure that I do! The peak bloom is expected to be late April or early May! You can see these gorgeous cherry blossoms in High Park and I am so excited to go this year. Make sure that you bring your camera!

2. Go to the Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo: On April 14-15 Toronto will be having a coffee & tea expo at Evergreen Brickworks. This is a fun event to go to if you like coffee, tea, or both!

3. Go to Spring Beer Fest: On May 19-20, Toronto will be hosting a Spring Beer Festival. Beer, Food, and Spring vibes on the May Two Four Long Weekend; sounds like the perfect event!

4. Celebrate Victoria Day: Victoria Day (May 21) is the perfect day to relax, eat, drink, and see fireworks with family or friends! Evergreen Brickworks is returning with their “Brewers Backyard” with a lineup of Ontario beers. The event is free and is all ages.

5. Go see a Blue Jays Game: Now that the blue jays season has begun, its the perfect time to go watch a game. If you have kids, its a fun and inexpensive sporting event to take them too!

6. Go to the Toronto Zoo: Since the weather is slowly getting nicer out, it is a great time to go on a date to the Toronto Zoo. Since we’ve been cooped up indoors all winter, we need to get out and explore! This would be a fun weekend excursion.

7. Go to a Farmers Market: Spring makes me crave fresh fruit & vegetables so what better place to go then a farmers market? Not only are the fruit & vegetables fresh and delicious but you are also helping to support local farmers, which is great!

8. Explore a new area in Toronto: This is one of the main things I want to start doing this spring/ summer. I want to explore different areas in Toronto such as The Beaches, High Park, Distillery District, Yorkville, and so on! I want to go to the shops, cafes, restaurants, and spend the day in each of these different areas.

9. Taste of Little Italy: On June 16-18 Toronto will be celebrating its taste of little Italy which is a street festival celebrating Italian heritage. There will be good food, drinks, and live music!

10. Discover a new walking trail: Spring is the perfect time to get outdoors and get some exercise. Try out a new walking or biking path this spring. It will inspire you to want to exercise and enjoy the nicer weather!


Those were 10 things that you can do this Spring in Toronto! I hope that you enjoyed this list and let me know what you like to do in the Spring in the comments down below.

Thanks for reading.

xoxo

 

 

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5 Best Places to Visit in Europe

I love travelling and specifically, I love Europe. I love the architecture, beaches, food, and the magical feeling of being in Europe. I have visited some breathtaking cities and countries in Europe but there are still so many places that I want to see.

5 Best Places to Visit in Europe

  1. Algarve, Portugal

This past summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Portugal for the first time. I travelled down to the Algarve and stayed in Albufeira and Portimao. They were both beautiful places with gorgeous beaches and delicious food. Portugal is also a lot more inexpensive than other European countries so you won’t feel as bad ordering another pitcher of Sangria 😉 Speaking of sangria, my friends and I had the most delicious sangria in the Algarve. If you can, rent a car and drive through the Algarve as there is lots to see and do. I can’t wait to return!

5 Best Places to Visit in Europe

Portimao, Portugal

2. Santorini, Greece

Before I visited Santorini years ago, I thought maybe it would be overrated and not as good as movies made it seem. After visiting Santorini, I can say that it’s underrated if anything. It was the most magical and beautiful place that I have ever been to.

We stayed in Firostefani Santorini which was a beautiful location and also very quiet. Make sure that you stay somewhere with a great view because there’s nothing like waking up to the views that I had in Santorini. You will feel like you are in a different world.

5 Best Places to Visit in Europe

3. Positano, Italy

Positano is a gorgeous cliffside village on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I visited there last summer and enjoyed the picturesque views and endearing shops. There are also tons of great restaurants with delicious pasta, pizza, and of course gelato. It is an expensive place to stay but it’s worth it to visit even just for the day. They also have an amazing nightclub called “Music on the rocks” that I went to last summer if you are looking for nightlife.

5 Best Places to Visit in Europe

The following two places are places that I want to travel to.

4. Seville, Spain

Seville is somewhere that I really want to visit in Spain (so far I have only visited Barcelona).  It is known for its flamenco dancing, castles, and gothic cathedrals. It is bright, colourful, and full of life. Parts of the show “Game of Thrones” were filmed in Seville. It truly looks breathtaking and I can’t wait to visit there one day.

5 Best Places to Visit in Europe

5. Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland is another top place on my travel bucket list. I hope to go there in the next year or two. I plan to rent a car and drive through Iceland, staying in different towns. There is so much to see and do in Iceland no matter the season. I want to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, swim in the Blue Lagoon, hike, and see the gorgeous waterfalls. I also heard that people are very nice in Iceland.

5 Best Places to Visit in Europe


Those are 5 of the best places to visit in Europe. I hope that you enjoyed this post and let me know what your favourite places in Europe are.

xoxo

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Teaching English Abroad in Italy

When I was 20 years old I knew that I wanted to travel abroad, alone and I knew that I wanted to travel to Italy. A part of my heart was still in Italy since my first trip there at 17. Now all I needed to figure out was how I was going to pay to stay there for 2 months.

I went online and searched for jobs or opportunities in Italy. The only ones that I really came across were teaching English abroad and “au pair” programs. I immediately dismissed being an “au pair” because I knew that it was basically like being a nanny.

Teaching English didn’t seem bad at all; I always enjoyed teaching. I started applying to different companies and I received a call from one of them fairly quickly. The company was called “Scotia Personnel” and the lady that called me was super nice and explained the whole process.

I had to get a background police check, doctors note, references, and I had to pay a fee of $600. I remember hearing that I had to pay a fee and thinking “is this a scam?” but after doing research I realized that this was common for these type of companies.

The lady also explained that after I submitted all my documents and my profile about me that I would be matched with families and then get to make the final choice about where I lived. I got my first offer I think about 3 weeks later. It was an opportunity to work in Italy for 3 months, where I would live in a hotel separate from the family.

I thought that this sounded like a good opportunity because I got my own place, but I declined the offer because I could only go to Italy for 2 months.

So I waited another few weeks until I got my 2nd offer, which was living in Switzerland with an Italian family that goes there in the summertime. Although this offer was tempting (it looked beautiful) I declined it because I was set on living in Italy and learning Italian.

A week later I got my 3rd offer living with a family in the mountains in Northern Italy. They told me that it’s really cold there and once I realized that it was hotter in Canada than it was there, I declined the offer.

I kept picturing the beautiful beaches in Italy and the hot sun on my face. That is what I wanted.

I started getting nervous that I would never get a match that I was looking for.

My next offer was living with a family in Vicenza, Italy (Northern Italy). I decided to accept the offer. The family said that I would be living in their house for a few weeks and then I would have my own private apartment that would be ready soon.

I skyped with the lady and her two children and planned to leave for Italy in June.

I bought some souvenirs to bring to the family and I took a flight to Venice, Italy.

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Vicenza was beautiful and was 1 hour from Venice.

The father of the family picked me up from the airport and brought me to their beautiful gated house. His mother lived next door and they shared a pool. I was happy.

Their kids were very young, they were only 3 and 5 years old. They were very cute.

However, It did not take me long to realize that no “Teaching” would happen. These two children didn’t even like the sound of English language and would cry constantly when I spoke English.

After only two weeks there, the mother and I sat down and discussed the progress. I expressed how it was hard to teach the children English when they did not want to learn the language and they were very young. She expressed that she didn’t care about the teaching but wanted me to start showering the kids and cooking for them.

I told her that I came to Italy to teach her children English and she said: “I thought this was an au pair program”. I showed her my forms of the offer where it said that I would be teaching English and she showed me her forms where it said that I was an au pair.

We realized that the agency had messed up…

The agency apologized to us both and told me that they would find me a new family where I would be teaching and not being a nanny.

This was a very uncomfortable situation for us both.

The agency found me other families that I had Skype interviews with (while still living in the other families house awkwardly) and I finally accepted a new offer.

I chose a family that lived on an Italian island in the summer. This island was called Ponza and was in the South of Italy.

I had never heard of the island before but after looking up pictures, I immediately said yes.

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I mean wouldn’t you?

So I packed up my bags and travelled from Vicenza– to Rome– to Naples– to Formia- to Ponza.

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I met the new family that I would be working for. I would be living in an “apartment” beside theirs.

When I got to the island I was in love… it was absolutely stunning.

They showed me my “apartment” which was a very little room that used to be a cave. The bedspread was covered with this “dust” that fell from the ceiling and the bathroom sink did not work.

I remember waking up in this cave covered in “dust” every morning, but I tried to not be disappointed because I was still on a beautiful island.

On my first night in Ponza, I went to dinner at this cute restaurant with live music. At this point, I was used to eating alone.

My server ended up asking me where I was from and I told her that I was from Canada. Then she excitedly told me that she was from Miami, Florida and that her grandparents owned the restaurant/hotel.  She also told me that I was the first Canadian that she ever met on the island.

She invited me clubbing that night and I said yes.

Later that night, I went out with her and her other friends. I immediately became friends with them and spent the next month and a half hanging out with them.

I started eating lunch at the restaurant with her and her family, daily. They were amazing and so generous. Her nonna and nonno reminded me of my grandparents and I instantly felt at home.

After about a week of being friends with the girl from Miami, I told her about the cave that I lived in and she invited me to live at her grandparent’s hotel with her. I was so happy and I moved in.

Since I was now living and eating there, I started working at the restaurant at night.

My arrangement with the family I was working for was teaching the two boys English for a couple of hours a day. The rest of the day I could do what I wanted.

I also didn’t know how to tell the family that I had moved out of the cave so I waited a while and then told them. They weren’t very pleased and didn’t understand why I didn’t want to live in the cave where “dust” would fall on my face when I slept.

Nonetheless, I spent the remaining time enjoying the beautiful island, beaches, and the delicious food.

Teaching abroad was different than I had thought it would be, but overall it was a great experience.

If you are thinking of teaching abroad, I would recommend that you choose a family with older children and that you do a lot of research.

I was fortunate enough to make friends right away and it ended up being one of the most life-changing trips of my life.

Thanks for reading.

xoxo

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