Travel Swellness: Road-tripping to Niagara with Chevy Equinox

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Last week, I was invited on a road trip to the Niagara region with Chevy Equinox. It’s an area that I haven’t spent time in for more than 10 years (although I have been to Niagara on the Lake via GO train about two years ago), I think, so I took them up on the chance to explore it for a couple of days.

The trip started by Toronto’s Pearson airport, and it took about an hour to drive from there to our hotel, the Inn on the Twenty. I had no idea that this was so close to Toronto. I’ve had dinner at the Inn many years ago as part of a Niagara on the Lake getaway, and in my mind it was more than a two-hour drive. I didn’t get behind the wheel for the drive up, but instead took advantage of enjoying the view, and Instagramming the drive without fretting about my data plan since the Equinox is equipped with wifi for up to seven devices.

After a lovely lunch at the Inn, we set out on our chosen adventures, and I’d selected the Whirlpool Jet Boat outing–I’d done this many years ago and  loved it so was eager to do it again (although, truth be told, I had envisioned a warm, sunny day). Suited up in about five extra pieces including a jumpsuit, thermal fleece, poncho and a lifejacket, our small group boarded the jetboat and swirled around in the powerful jetboat in Class V rapids in the Niagara Gorge. We also ventured towards the whirlpool. While the cold water swooshing onto the jetboat and soaking us to our skivvies was exciting, for me what I loved most was just the views of the rapids–the swirling water is mesmerizing. I found myself jealous of the hikers we spotted sitting by the Gorge.

The drive to get to the jetboat tour was an adventure in itself. I was driving, and we came across a road closed except for local traffic, as it was basically washed out. We had to go through it, though, to get to our destination, and although I was a little nervous, I took the car straight through it, and it was a splashy little drive but the car drove smoothly through. Nice job, Equinox! (Coincidentally, the Equinox is actually produced in Ontario, not far from where we were, in Ingersoll).

I’ll add a video soon here (once my technical difficulties are sorted out!) that I took of us going through it as we left the jetboat HQ. I was in the back seat when I recorded it and very appreciative of the  heated back seats (yes, the back seats are also heated!) since we’d all caught quite a chill after being drenched on the jetboat. And by the way, the  Equinox also has ventilated seats, and if you know me, I hate the summer’s overwhelming heat and humidity, so ventilated seats are possibly even more of a draw for me than heated seats and heated steering wheel. No pics taken on the jetboat as the Go Pro I had been given didn’t have any space on its memory card, so this is afterwards, once I’d taken four of the five non-waterproof layers off (I don’t know why they provide non-waterproof pieces…!). You can see a pic of us in all of our enormous yellow poncho glory on my Instagram.

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From there, we made a quick pit stop at Niagara Falls. Even though I’ve seen the Falls many times, it has been quite awhile, and I swoon over its power and beauty each and every time.

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For dinner, we were treated to a decadent meal at Redstone Winery, where I ate possibly the most delicious pork loin I’ve ever had. Juicy and so flavourful. You know it’s a good meal when you ask everyone else what they had after the dinner so you can either revel in the deliciousness of the pork (or share a #sorrynotsorry look with those who did not have the pork dish!).

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On day 2, we did a scenic drive to Ball’s Falls and stumbled across so many fields of the prettiest trees. I loved how well the car (even with me, the infrequent driver) handled the winding roads of the area. I”m also a fan of the size and feel of the car. Car interiors I find can often easily seem flimsy but the Equinox feels luxe, and as someone who always craves natural light (most of us do, except for one of my besties, she may be a vampire…), the enormous sunroof is incredible. And as for the size, when a car is too big for me, I feel nervous about nicking things (and forget about parking!); when it’s too small, I feel like I’m going to be swallowed whole by the big trucks on the roads. But like Goldilocks, I’m looking for the one that is not too big, not too small, but just right, and size-wise, that’s the Equinox.

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At Ball’s Falls, we did the very short “hike” (it’s really more of a short walk) to both the Upper Falls and Lower Falls, and took in the heritage buildings, too. I don’t often get to trails and to hike when I’m home in Toronto, so it was nice to make the quick drive and get in a quick dose of forest bathing.

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Our road trip ended with a phenomenal lunch at Good Earth Food & Wine, and I feel  like a failed foodie as I wasn’t familiar with this resto. I had the prettiest and most delicious salad there, full of bright and beautiful ingredients with a hefty helping of Guernsey Girl cheese, too. This was followed by a decadent tartine that was more of a gourmet open-face gyro, and a gorgeous lemon rhubarb tart. If you’ve noticed a theme here it’s that everything was so, so pretty and beyond satisfying. I will most definitely be back to eat at Good Earth.

One quick drive back to Toronto, and our Chevy Equinox road trip came to an end. We easily unpacked our trunk thanks to the hand-free power life gate feature (another fave feature — I’m forever carrying a ton of packages or groceries and now with my dog, Billie Jean’s leash often occupying one hand, freeing up my hands is always a plus). A slight wave of the leg underneath the back of the car and up (or down) goes the trunk door.

I’ve been living in Toronto since 1999 and I love that, thanks to Chevrolet Equinox, we were able to find new roads pretty much right in the city’s “backyard.” That is what makes me wish I had a car–not so much for living downtown, although it would make certain errands easier–but for the opportunities to venture out and discover the fun adventures that the world has to offer.

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Leave a Comment May 18, 2017

Fitness Swellness: Everyday lifestyle essentials at Mark’s

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I have a new category of clothes in my wardrobe, and it’s all because of my rescue pup, Billie Jean.

Until recently, my clothing could be broken down into three categories: my running gear, my actual clothes for going out, and my at-home clothes (which is essentially my pajamas–I’ve always been one of those people who put on PJs as soon as I get home no matter what time it is). Given that I work from home, this means until a few months ago, I spent a lot of time in PJs.

But now that I actually have to be out in public several times a day when working from home to walk and play with Billie Jean, I’ve found that I need comfortable clothes that are easy to get on quickly (especially for those morning walks, because I’m not an a.m. person!) and look presentable. My flannel PJs weren’t cutting it.

Fitting this new niche in my wardrobe is the Mark’s Shambhala line, which I’ve only recently discovered. Did you know that Mark’s launched in 1977 in Calgary (love that city!)? I only found that out now. That’s not to say that I’m a Mark’s newbie. I’ve shopped there since high school (although, in Quebec–where I grew up–it’s called L’Equipeur) and I’ve picked up sweaters, gifts, undies and socks throughout the years there.

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Their Shambhala collection is a mix of workout gear and activewear, and the items are easy to throw on quickly (think easy to mix and match pieces of mostly solids with a few graphic prints). The pieces work for me because I can put on an outfit from the collection in the morning for Billie Jean’s first walk of the day, and then I’m super comfortable as I work from home. But I can also easily go for a run (or do any workout, but I just tend to gravitate towards running), or I can just as simply pop into my favourite coffee shop or pick up some groceries and my ootd is perfectly fine for any of these occasions. And that suits me well given my lifestyle (I’m typically juggling a lot of different things and just making it work with my schedule).

Which is like many of us these days, after all? Our responsibilities call for clothing that’s versatile. There’s a reason the active  look is sticking around, after all–being on the go is the new normal.

I’ve got on some of my fave pieces here but there’s a crisp striped tank that I think would be great for spring. I knew adopting a dog would change my lifestyle, but didn’t realize it meant a new day-to-day wardrobe, too.

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Leave a Comment May 11, 2017

Healthy Swellness: 6 ways your Rexall pharmacist can help you

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Who are the people in your health squad? I keep it pretty simple: I’ve got my doctor, my massage therapists (although I haven’t seen either of my two fave RMTs in ages…sigh), my chiropractor, and my running buddies (they count, don’t they?)—I’d say those are the core people. But I will admit: I don’t ever take advantage of getting more from my visits to the pharmacist other than to having my prescriptions filled.

But last week, when I attended the launch of the new Rexall Brunswick House, I got to chat with the pharmacy manager, Jessie Chen, and learned that you miss out on benefiting your health when you don’t draw from your pharmacist’s expertise.

“Often people come in with it comes to cold and flu symptoms, seasonal allergies, heartburn, stomach upset, dry eyes, headaches—they come into the pharmacy first for something over the counter that can provide some relief,” says Chen. She says about 50 percent of her work with patients is helping with these issues, and the other half is focused on prescriptions.

Other ways your pharmacist can help you?

  • “We can administer flu shots, and recently in Ontario (every province has different regulations), we were approved to administer other vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine and HPV vaccine.”
  • Your pharmacist can take your blood pressure. The pharmacy is equipped with a blood pressure machine and if you wish, they can create a tracking card for you and link it to your medication profile so you can monitor it over time.
  • Your pharmacist can help you quit your smoking habit. Pharmacists can provide smoking cess counselling, recommend certain nicotine replacement products, and prescribe sme smoking cessation medications, and provide follow-ups with patient over time, says Chen.
  • “We can help you when buying over-the-counter products,” says Chen. “It’s a good idea to consult with your pharmacist. Sometime people think because something is herbal or if it’s vitamins, it’s safe, but there could be potential interactions. Pharmacists are a good resource to help identify if any interactions and whether or not that product is a good choice for you,” she says. If you’re pregnant, for example, there may be some products with limited research on them and the pharmacist can identify when you would want to exercise caution.
  • Your pharmacist can also help determine when you need the help of another health expert. “Our recommendations are tailored to the patient, so we take some basic health information, such as symptoms, and drug allergies, and find out what medications they’re currently taking to keep in mind possible drug interactions, and from there we can assess whether seeing their doctor is necessary.”

Since there are so many ways you can work with your pharmacist when it comes to your health, you should choose a pharmacist you feel comfortable with. “Health and wellness if the core of our business,” says Chen. She recommends selecting someone you feel you can open up to and be honest with, since open communication and trust is the key for it being a successful relationship.

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And btw, in case you’re worried about the Brunny now being occupied by a Rexall, you should know that Rexall worked with the city’s Historic Preservation Service and restored the exterior and interior elements. In fact, the original keg barrel bar is now the main checkout area. The chandeliers and tin ceiling are originals that have been restored.

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And while those are elements of the building you can check out anytime when you shop here, if you pop in now, you’ll have a chance to have a peek at the Rexall Brunswick House Music Artifacts Exhibition, which included memorabilia from artists who’ve played on the Brunny’s stage, including Jeff Healey and Oscar Peterson. But check it out soon, because all of these artifacts are soon being shipped to Studio Bell, the National Music Centre in Calgary (which I got a chance to preview before it opened when I was in Calgary last spring—it’s definitely worth a visit!).

Photo credit: Evan Bergstra/Ryan Emberley Photography

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Leave a Comment May 2, 2017

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