Where Have I Been?

I’m not too sure where time has gone over the past few months, but it really has just gone.  The last update to this blog was August 23rd!

Crazy.

So where have I been? Trying to make everything happen as smoothly as possible. Building business, making my new home, nourishing work and personal relationships with a spinning head all the while. Oh ya, and there’s that wedding thing happening soon. How awful is it I haven’t even thought of it?

But it is what it is. After what I felt was a bit of a summer slump, everything really excellerated and fast.

Some updates:

Charming Media Moved Shop:

You can now find us right down town at 477 Richmond Street West.

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Ok so this window……my last office had no window. Can I just say, it really is the little things.

We will be working collaboratively on some projects with Nuscreen Digital, the amazing agency headed by the ever talented and beautiful Miss Meg Button. Keep your eyes and ears open about these guys. They are moving UP and FAST! Very exciting!

My amazing friends put together a fabulous bachelorette party for me last weekend. Ok, I am truly blessed. I love my friends. We had a 3 bedroom executive suite at the Royal York hotel for 2 nights. Friday night was drinks and late night snacks and gossip in the room, then it was up and early off to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a private wine tour.

 

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The theme was Kentucky Derby, in lieu of tacky pink boas.

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The lovely Katrina McKay from OhhhCanada came and gave her highly acclaimed Dirty Talk Workshop to the gals on Saturday night. The perfect compliment to a great bachelorette party!

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Two days after the party, we moved into our new home on the lake.

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We LOVE it here. I feel so content at this place. It truly is an oasis in the city. Being on the water and just away from the city ever so slightly is extremely relaxing and calming. Also, my commute to work is cut in half with an easy street car ride right to Spadina. And the view. I’ll show a picture but it doesn’t do it justice.

Bedroom view, you should see it at night!!!

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Exciting new clients too! I’m working on a super secret project that I can’t wait to announce! We’ve also signed on of my favourite Canadian designers, Rachel Sin at World Mastercard Fashion Week

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Another new client I am super excited about is Nudestix, now available at Sephora!

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We are also working with Magnolia, a global jewellery brand now available in Canada!

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Sad that my Le Chateau ambassadorship program is coming to an end. Gotta say, really opened my eyes to the quality of shoes they have in that store. These red leather heels are soooo comfy!

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Still working with Shopbop though! LOVE Shopbop. Just ordered a Free People sweater and Tory Birch earrings. They are doing an awesome sale right now, 25% off Calvin Klein Underwear!

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So that’s kind of my life right now. Will keep you updated on my super secret project :)
XO

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Last Weekend of Summer – A Charming Round UP

It’s been a great summer in the city, no? Brody and I are wrapping up our condo sale and set to close September 30th and our Mexico wedding is in the wings. I’ve officially lost 8 lbs since May following the basic principles of the Dukan Diet. I like this diet. I’m not TOO strict with it but the changes to diet have really helped. We are also living a gluten-free lifestyle at the moment so that’s been helpful too. I find it easier to manage weight like this.

In terms of work, it’s been busy! Last week we held the FREED media preview at the Ritz Carleton, it was wonderful. FREED coats are outstanding and I have already picked the one I want as my new winter coat! The ABBY ! I am going to get it in hunter green. Here’s me below with designer and 4th generation president Marissa Freed.

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Check out the Facebook album from the preview here. Some really great press showed up. The Freed line will be available at Holt Renfrew, Pink Tartan, Honey, Got Style and more. I can’t wait! The quality is outstanding and it will be a nice break from seeing Canada Goose EVERYWHERE. I am looking forward to a more classy look in the winter. Love the old English Tweed look!

We’ve started some really fun beauty clients as well. We’re currently working with Tangle Teezer, the world’s BEST hair brush, now available in Canada at Sephora.

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Ok, this hair brush is insane. Tangles? Forget it. Combing your hair while wet? A breeze. Honestly, I can’t even believe how good it is!

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I feel so lucky that I work with brands that I can so easily endorse. Like the Tangle Teezer brush is the BEST! It’s nice and compact as well so fits easy in your bag.

Brody and I headed to the CNE last weekend. I gotta say, I think I’m over it. Maybe because I’m 32, but the only thing I liked was the chairlift ride over the grounds.

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This was most likely my definite last time. Some woman turned into Brody and spilt her coffee all over herself then accused him of trying to spill hot coffee all over her kid. Cause that’s the type of guy he his. The type that goes to CNE to burn children. I don’t know. It’s the smallest things that can ruin a good time, ya know?

The last weekend of summer is upon us. We have been considering going to the cottage but alas, we are staying back. Too much coming up, too much to do. Also my sadist child burning fiance accidently chopped the tip of his finger off Monday night. Like literally. We spent Tuesday in emerge and now he is home and needs to keep that digit elevated. It’s super gross.

I created this post for the Urban Lifestylist blog about what you need for cottaging like a grown up this weekend, or what you need for staying back in town. Either way, make it a good one, lovelies.

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TIFF is right around the corner and I am cooking up some good things in my Charming house that I hope to be able to share soon. Lots of love xo

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How To Throw A Sophisticated Bachelorette Party – Ohhh Canada Event

I love my job. I do. I had so much fun working with Charming Media‘s client Ohhh Canada on an amazing event last week in which we re-imagined the bachelorette party.

With my own bachelorette party right around the corner (End of September), this has actually been a big item on my mind lately. I’m not really into the whole “let’s wear pink boas and tacky tees and hit up the bars” scene. I envisioned something a little more my style. Good wine, fun friends and, of course, something to do with sex. But what? No strippers, please. I am not a fan of male strippers.

Ohhh Canada’s CEO, Katrina McKay had the brilliant idea of showing our media friends how to throw a sophisticated bachelorette party for your bride to be pal. This included a beautiful venue, champagne on ice, a stunning candy bar, a demonstration of the latest and most innovative and chic sex toys and Katrina’s highly acclaimed and as-featured in Elle Canada magazine Dirty Talk Work Shop and some models showing off the sexiest lingerie!

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Looks fun right? That’s because it WAS! We had so much fun and Katrina is amazing with her Dirty Talk Workshop! I have actually hired her to run her workshop with me and my bridesmaids-to-be at my own upcoming bachelorette! In terms of sex toys, Ohhh Canada already suited me out pretty good as well. Remember my long ago stated love of the We-Vibe? A few years ago, I received the amazing We-Vibe 3, the outstanding couples vibrator.

I was rather pleasantly surprised to learn that, although I could not conceive it, there was in fact room for improvement in this godsend. Ohhh Canada hooked me up with the 3′s new and improved We-Vibe 4.

760x435It’s pretty and pink and very discreet. You can tuck it away in this charging station and no one would even know what it was unless they actually knew what it was.

I have to say, it is a BIG improvement from the 3. Smaller which means it is more comfortable for couple use and somehow has way more power and more settings to choose from. At $150, it may seem like a costly product, but when you consider what it is actually being used for, you will definitely find that it is WORTH the investment. Pick it up at OhhhCanada!

Also, I need to mention my shoes. I wore these stunners from Anne B. for Le Chateau – > made in Italy and gorgeous! Very comfy too!

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So how do you throw the perfect bachelorette? Notable wrote this piece from the event with Katrina’s five tips on how to do it right! Check it out here!

In case you need some direction as to how bad the standard bachelorette party can be, check out this Amy Schumer’s video.

 

XOXO

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Win a $50 Gift Certificate to Shoppers Drug Mart!

Every season, I get the impulse to overhaul my own beauty bag. Shoppers Drug Mart is insane when it comes to beauty product. It is so amazing how much they have upped their game in that department. It is now like walking into a high end department store. They have all of the top brands and it’s hard not to go over your budget.

In conjunction with the Urban Lifestylist Blog, my good friend Dani from GirlsOfTo.com just went into Shoppers and got a summer beauty makeover! Check out her before and after here.

You can also VERY easily enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Shoppers on the Urban Lifestylist Facebook page. Simply like the page and enter and ta-da! What would you buy?

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32, eh? So Far, So Good

I had a quarter life crisis when I was 24. I was unhappily betrothed, living in some small coal mine hell town in the middle of no where in Alberta where the only sign of civilization was a small Subway restaurant beside the Holiday Inn. The plan of action there for most girls who were slinging drinks in what was lovingly referred to as “The Bar” because it was THE only bar in town, get impregnated by a coal miner and let yourself go into a marriage of pajama pants and poutine. How I ended up in this shit box town is a story in an of itself, but we will save that for another day.

The short of it – I thought my life was over. At 24. I had dreams of shoving my head in the oven. I read The Bell Jar. A lot. I thought I was stuck and that was my life. I knew I had a brain and it wasn’t being put to good use. It was turning to mush. I wanted something bigger and better but I didn’t know what it was.

I did a very tough thing and left the guy I was with and the home that we owned together. The implications around this were a lot more complex than you would think. But again, another time. Let’s just say that I had to put myself first.

Who would have thought that 8 years later, I would be in such a place of happiness?

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Not only have I found the career of my dreams, but also my best friend forever. What could be more exciting than that! I even visited my old high school last week and gave a talk to Careers Class about what I do. Very surreal for me, especially because I hated this place sooooooo much in my teens.

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I just celebrated my 32nd birthday with the true love of my life. We are officially set to purchase a lovely condo on the lake – Just gave our 60 days notice! We are soooooooo excited to actually own something in this city! Well, to be fair, a little outside of the city. After four years of ValTorontoGal and Brody working out of Mississauga, we’ve decided to step a small way out for a little breathing room.

We are very attracted to the water and being right on the marina and the fact that our home-to-be offers 2 gyms, a tennis court, a squash court, beautiful BBQ area and sunning terrace as well as views of the CN tower, we are pretty excited. In addition to that, the street car is still just right outside of the building so we’re not too far.

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Hello Lover…..

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Brody and I are big tennis fans so this is gold.

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So essentially we are moving to a retirement community for young professionals. I am totally fine with that.

The purchase of our new home has suddenly made me excited for things regarding our impending wedding, such as gift registries. I was especially excited to learn that Kate Spade and Vera Wang had home collections. Done. This Kate Spade Rose Gold Cutlery collection is on my to-die for list, but it’s $110 for five pieces, meaning that a full 6 piece set is gonna cost me or whoever loves me so much to entertain the idea of buying it as a wedding gift. That said, I’ve spent less on purses. Also, I rarely have dinner guests. So I guess it’s a lot for our everyday cutlery. Whatever. I still want it.

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And yes, our wedding is now exactly five months away. So crazy! Still working like a fiend on that bikini body as our wedding is happening in Mexico on December 30th. The last thing I want to be worrying about during that time is how I look in a swim suit.

I’ve started the Dukan Diet. Well, I apply it as much as possible. I find it easier than most diets because you can eat as much as you want of these 100 foods. I lost 3 pounds on The Attack phase but summer is killing me because there is always an excuse to break diets and go have fun. Weddings, birthdays, cottages, forget it. So I am not going to kill myself and be too strict with this just YET. I figure I will apply the Dukan principles as much as possible over the rest of the summer then come crunch time before the wedding, we are all guns go. I’ve lost 6 lbs since May first, so 2 lbs a month which I think is a steady way to do it. The slower you lose weight, the better the chances of not putting it all again.

All in all, 32 is pretty amazing so far. With a new condo and a marriage happening in the next five months, it is sure to be the most eventful year of my life to date!

xo

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No More Macarons Please

The dialogue surrounding fashion blogging has always been varied, opinionated, passionate and diverse. And while brands continue to benefit from the reach of fashion influencers and tastemakers, I believe that it is fair to say that it was the unsuspecting macaron that has benefited the most from the social media phenomenon of fashion blogging.

I often wonder if I am the only one sick of it.

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The characteristics of the macaron are reflective of those of a high-priced fashion commodity; they are colourful, indulgent, expensive, pretty to look at, though wildly impractical. They will not stave off hunger and the consumption will likely result in a feeling of imminent joy followed by swift, remorseful guilt. How many calories did I consume in two bites? How many thousands of dollars did I just spend on a quilted piece of leather and chain with a double C emblem, a sufficient chunk of change that could have easily been put towards the downpayment of a house?

Thus the relation of the macaron to the high fashion commodity are on par. Both are wistful, beautiful, unattainable. Much like the fashion bloggers we follow who are sponsored by major brands and flown all over the world for collaborations and shows, most are skinny and gorgeous and want us to believe they are able to maintain this model-esque aesthetic while stuffing their faces non-stop with high calorie macarons (and some can!).

It’s not the topic of taking images of food that most likely was not consumed which bothers me so. For social commentary on that, follow the YouDidNotEatThat Instagram account. I don’t really care if people are pretending to eat. That’s on them and it is on the people who are following them to ensure they are secure enough to know what’s most likely going on. There is a false economy being created in those images and it involves couture combined with high calorie treats and its something that I don’t even care to elaborate on.

No. It’s the frivolity of it all that is starting to get to me. In a world where planes are being shot down from the skies and civilians are dying on a daily basis in wars that most of us can’t even begin to relate to, I am becoming increasingly frustrated every time I see an intelligent friend of mine pose with a macaron.

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Now, I know people will say the world needs a break from reality. It is not healthy for people to allow themselves to be so consumed with the dire situations of the world. True. But do we need to be so far removed that we are walking the line of pure idiocy? Building dream worlds of fashion and food are fun but I know better. And I know that these people do to. I know that the majority of the people behind these photos are smart, intelligent people. And posing with a macaron more than once makes me upset that they are dumbing themselves down to appease the masses.

A macaron shot is not challenging your audience. It is making them dumb and fat.

And I could be wrong. As I said, these fashion bloggers know their audiences and if images with macarons makes their audiences giddy with joy, then the fault is not with the blogger but with the masses and this conversation can be altered and applied to various degrees of society, i.e. laugh-box sitcoms, America Has Talent, whatever.

My concern is much like that of a feminist who is sad her friends feel the need to show their cleavage and play dumb to get a man, especially when she knows they are smart and capable of better. I know the people in my social circles are capable of creating proper influential content.  They influence me every day. The world of fashion and beauty blogging is vital and strong and needs to be nourished so that we can all continue to benefit from it, PR people, brands and bloggers. And longevity in blogging will come from content and not trends of fluff.

So in short – Stop. Move away from the macaron.

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The Strategy Launches, Modern Man Early Bird Ends Today, The Skinny Tee and More

Last week was a crazy one in the world of Val the publicist. In addition to hosting two awesome client events, we also had some major PR crisis management to deal with aka The Skinny Tee by Christopher Lee Sauve getting pulled from The Bay, news that was in every major outlet in Canada and even travelled as far as Cosmo in the states and Vogue in the UK.

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Aside from the terrifying and sad fact that a tee shirt can make international headlines in today’s world, it was a good way to sharpen my crisis-management skills for clients. After CTV in Vancouver gave a highly subjective report on the topic, failing to mention the designer’s name or even interviewing him, in favour for interviewing a mental health expert who called the designer “unintelligent”, we contacted the station and segment producer to see if they’d be willing to give Christopher the chance to defend himself and they did which was highly respectable of them. You can see here.  

We also celebrated the launch of The Strategy with our client Natasha Lawrence, the site’s creator.The Strategy is the brainchild of Natasha Lawrence who, after close mentorship and experience working at The Coveteur with Erin Kleinberg, launched a site that shares the fashionable mindsets behind some of the most influential tastemakers.

 

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I wore this cute jumper from Saks and these beige summer flat sandals from Le Chateau.

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Here are a few photos from the event, and you can see the rest here.

 

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Here is me and Melissa who I have officially dubbed as Liz and Liz from Nick Kroll’s Publizity

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And finally, the much anticipated event of the summer, Modern Man Event is happening on July 11th! Today is the LAST day to get your early bird tickets and if you are a blogger or media person, get at me right NOW for your media accreditation! This is one event that you do not want to miss.

What’s happening:

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Sponsors:

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The event is going to be insane with booze, fashion, food, live performances and more.

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Early bird tickets end today and your ticket includes drink tickets, food and access, for just $30! Get your tickets NOW!

So that’s all for now! Hope you all have an amazing Canada Day tomorrow!

 

 

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Saying Bye to ValTorontoGal…..Saying Hello To The Next Steps

Well, ValTorontoGal has been with me and a massive part of my identity for the past four years. My Twitter avatar with the big hat and glasses, while charming and still very much a part of I feel I am inside,  is no longer how I want to be identified on such a massive marketing platform as I am making changes in my personal career and life (that said, she can stay here on the blog ———–> look she’s right there)

I started this blog in 2010 and when it started to gain some traction and I started working with brands, I was identified as a blogger and that was awesome. I loved it. I got a ton of free stuff, I pissed some people off (in truth, I regret most of that nonsense now,  the scathing blog posts calling people on their shit, I really do. I still think a lot of the same way, but trying to get attention via “calling people out” blog posts was not the way to go about it. These days, grown up Val is happy to let the silliness roll of her back, because I’m happier in own skin and my own life. I can choose the situations I want to be in and maybe I was just trying to fit a square peg in a circle hole too many times.) dsc00567-400x225 Pictured above: Humble beginnings. Shot Sept, 2011 when I left my full time job and started to take chances….From my first ever own apartment, the 1 bedroom junior suite and my first ever “home office”. 

And now the term “blogger” has left me feeling restless and uncertain and almost afraid that it is hindering my personal growth as the professional business person I am striving everyday to become. My company is a labour of love. This blog is now more something that I feel as a nagging chore that I have to half-heartedly update with something about make up and the like because a PR company sent me a free lipstick or something and I feel bad not doing it. I’d seriously rather just buy my own lipstick at this point. Freebies were/are/and will always be awesome. And they are important part of the relationships between brands and bloggers. And if my heart isn’t in the review, then I can’t take the freebies unless people know there is no guarantee I will write about it.

This blog is still a blog, in that it is a web log of who I am and who I have been for the past four years. I will continue to use it as such. I am happy it’s here because I am ready to use it again as a writing outlet and not necessarily a pass to free product, food and booze. I will still write about fashion and beauty and food and stuff as I see fitting because it’s my online web log and I like fashion and beauty and food and stuff. If a brand chooses to send me stuff, that’s cool and I will disclose that If I like it, maybe I will write about it. I’m happy to remain identified as an influencer. But I don’t want to have that horrid feeling of  ”I should tweet this, I should update my blog, I should simultaneously share what I am doing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram”.

I feel as though the compulsion to do so is starting to interfere with my happiness. The over-sharing and the over consuming of what everyone is doing online, people who aren’t really even my good friends, is starting to mess with my head a bit. I’m finding Instagram boring has hell. As a PR person, it’s great. It’s a tool. I am looking at what people are posting and the brands they are taking pictures of. As myself in my personal time, I don’t know if I can care what anyone is eating anymore or what they are wearing to work. Is that bad? It is bad. Because I totally post pictures like that too.

So I don’t know anything anymore. On Sunday, I had a beautiful day. Brody and I did some chores, we played tennis, we took Oscar to the off-leash park, we tried a new ramen restaurant and we watched the season finale of Game of Thrones. I left my phone at home and several times throughout the day, I had intrusive thoughts about needing to take a picture with my tennis racket or tweet about the new place I was eating at. I had to push them out because it’s my Sunday with my two boys and it’s mine. I need that time. I need it for my health and sanity and the compulsive need to share that personal sunny Sunday with social media is straight-up insane. It is. For me, anyways. I DID have a compulsive need to share how many steps I walked with my FitBit though because I AM OBSESSED with FitBit! (totally bought and purchased myself). Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.24.16 PM And please, please, please don’t take this post as me “getting up on my high horse” or being “hypocritical because, Val, you totally like just posted something to Instagram like  34 minutes ago”. Social media is very important and a critical component to my career and I DO love it. I LOVE it! I do it everyday for many brands. I do like sharing somethings sometimes! I am in the promotions game, it’s all about spreading the word, at the end of the day.  And when I am happy in my personal life, and experiencing a moment of amazingness then I still want to share.

Here’s what it is:

It’s the compulsion to share after four years of being acclimatized to this behaviour is what is bringing me down and directly affecting my ability to be happy in my spare time. And honestly, I’m not one to bite the hand that feeds. It has been one incredible ride. The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met and the opportunities I have encountered have truly been second to none. I would have not been where I am today without this URL.

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Writing and blogging like this is therapeutic to me. I am not going to give this up, ever. The term “blogger” is one that I am no longer interested in. I am a woman who will soon be someone’s wife, I have a dog, I have a business that I work very hard at every single day to grow, I like to write and I will do so here as I see fit. But enhancing my “blogging career”, along with the “ValTorontoGal” image ends here. My new Twitter handle is ValCharmingGal in honour of my business and my devotion to remaining consistent in branding and messaging.

I guess I feel like I could write forever on this topic but no need. I’m sure you get the gist. Long story short, My new Twitter handle is ValCharmingGal and I will write on this blog about work and my life and things I like and get back to better writing and posts. No schedule needed.

The funny  thing is, it’s posts like these that have always got the most traction as opposed to the hyper-branded ones. In fact, the more branded my blog became, the traffic started to dwindle. People can tell when you have a passion for the content you are creating, I suppose. Which is why the bloggers who are totally devoted to their sites and the things they write about either in fashion, beauty, music, food, etc. continue to kick butt.

I can’t wait to see where this blog will take me next……!

XO

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Charming Events! TK in Montreal, Father’s Day, Taste, and Modern Man

It’s been a crazy few weeks, not that I’m complaining. It seems as though it’s a summer of events for Charming Media and I am super fine with that.

About a week and a half ago, I was in Montreal with Turkish Airlines to celebrate the launch of flights between Montreal and Istanbul (official post here)

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Super fun times! The flying chefs came in to bring us delicious food and there were over 300 people at the celebration gala!

I got home on the Thursday evening  then started to prep for Toronto Taste in support of Second Harvest! It was an incredible evening! So many people came out and supported the cause and celebrated some of the best food and wine offerings in the city!

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Our next big event this summer is the Modern Man event! We are very excited for this one, as it’s the only event in the city that caters specifically to the Modern Man!

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We’ll be filling Roy Thompson Hall with incredible live performances, men’s fashion and accessory exhibitors, delicious food, VIPs, premium drinks and more! Tickets are currently just $40! Head to the Modern Man website now!

In all the excitement of events, I didn’t forget Father’s Day either! If you’re in the Toronto PATH today and still haven’t picked up a gift for dad, check out my gift selections on the Urban Lifestylist Blog!

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That’s it for now! Happy Friday the 13th!

 

 

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#TorontoTaste – Just 6 Days Away!

I feel very lucky this year that Charming Media is the official pro bono PR agency of Toronto’s food rescue charity, Second Harvest. And while being associated with such an incredible cause is fabulous, we are also very lucky to be working on helping to promote Toronto’s most prestigious food and beverage event of the year, Toronto Taste!

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This is an event that celebrates the culinary spirit of the city with some of Toronto’s top chefs and beverage purveyors. I have never been, so I am SO excited that I get to go this year! Even if it’s in a working capacity :) I’m excited to taste some creations from Toronto Taste ambassadors Mark McEwan, Bob Blumer and Roger Mooking!

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Toronto Taste 2014

Indulge in 70 amazing gourmet food and beverage stations. Mix and mingle with celebrity chefs in a breathtaking lakeside locale in downtown Toronto. Relish in the gratification of supporting Second Harvest’s food rescue program.

Presented by The Daniels Corporation.

Sunday, June 8, 2014, 6pm
Lakeside, Corus Quay

Tickets are $250 each
(Includes food and drink. A tax receipt will be issued for $125)

Dress:
Summer cocktail

While the $250 dollar price tag may seem a bit daunting at first, I like to look at it as only $125 due to the $125 tax receipt that can be claimed. Also, I spend $125 on a night out for one meal with appetizers and a bottle of wine. This is an EVENT. Actually, it is THE EVENT! You get all you can eat and drink, it’s outdoors, it’s an actual experience, and you get to leave with the feeling that you actually did something good, as all the money and profits go to supporting Second Harvest throughout the year, keeping trucks on the road, rescuing food and bringing it to people who really need it.

Here’s where you can buy tickets! Please share this post with your friends and help spread the word of this incredible cause!

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