This month, one of Toronto’s most luxe hotel’s, the
Shangri-La, is launching a lavish wellness retreat, “
Running is Shangri-La.” After the success the five star hotel experienced with its
Lululemon customized in-room yoga videos—launched last September—the hotel decided to broaden its wellness offerings. Good news, it isn’t just for the hardcore runner; it accommodates all levels. This package is a great idea for a mini staycation, vacation or perhaps something to fit into your routine while traveling for business in Toronto. When the hotel’s public relation specialist asked me if I’d like to experience the offering first hand, I—of course—jumped at the chance. Being an avid runner, a self-titled spa hound and an enthusiast of solid service—and great food—this package was my jam. [caption id="attachment_16143" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Started my morning off in my fresh
Lululemon gear and
Black Toe Running Adidas kicks running the Shanrgi-La Toronto's #5km route curated by Ben Kaplan.[/caption] Four running routes were designed, tested and approved by Ben Kaplan, editor of
iRun magazine and author of Feet, Don't Fail Me Now. These curated routes (that are accessible via QR code which then links to your smart phone using the
mapmyrun app) show some of the best neighbourhoods and sight seeing Toronto has to offer. Travelers have a choice between these four scenic runs:
3km: Squeeze in a quick run to the historic St. Lawrence Market, this route will provide you with stunning views of the CN tower, so have your smart phone handy. If you have time, stop in for a peameal bacon sandwich mid run—disclaimer, this pit stop is most certainly not part of this wellness package.
4km: Jog northward up University road, the wide sidewalks are accommodating for runners while the historic buildings of University of Toronto and the Ontario legislation give you some architectural eye candy.
5km: Cited by Vogue as one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods, why wouldn’t you want to run along trendy Queen Street West. It takes you past the chic shops, restaurant and bars, and the halfway mark is charming Trinity Bellwoods Park. *I chose this route—and loved it! I ran it early in the morning, which I would suggest; otherwise the stripe can get really congested with people.
20km: If you have time to devote—and serious stamina—why not plan to concur a (almost) half marathon. This run takes you along the waterfront path alongside Lake Ontario.
Posts run you’re encouraged to pull out your yoga mat (every room is equipped with one) and cool down with an in-room yoga session led by Lululemon ambassador and owner of Toronto’s
Misfit Studio, Amber Joliat. If yoga isn’t your jam, head to the state of the art Health Club or pop in for a quick dip in the pool. Not being a yogi and more of a “gym rat” I chose this option, truly some of the nicest facilities I’ve ever used in a hotel. [caption id="attachment_16144" align="aligncenter" width="598"]
Hammam and Gommage room at the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris. Photo credit: Shangri-la Toronto[/caption] The running is Shangri-La package also includes a Hammam and Gommage treatment for two at the hotel’s beautiful
Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie. What’s a Hammam and Gommage you ask? Well, it’s the perfect treatment to indulge in to help you let go of the tension and decompress. Start with a detoxifying steam room session (this is the Hammam) followed by a full-body exfoliation (this is the gommage part) using a eucalyptus-infused black Moroccan soap. Your skin will never feel softer, and this is coming from someone riddled with eczema patches. So now that you’ve fed your mind, body and soul it’s time to feed your tummy. The resident restaurant,
Bosk, offers wellness options on their menu as does the in-room dining, under the “Healthy Lifestyle” section. The focus is on locally sourced produce, free-range chicken and beef and sustainable seafood. For breakfast, I ordered the steal cut oatmeal off the Healthy Lifestyle menu, and it was delish! The
“Running is Shangri-La” package for two is available now and starts at $560 per night, it includes access to the running routes, health club, pool, Hammam and Gommage and a wellness breakfast. I think this is a wonderful experience to give as a gift, perhaps for father's day or an anniversary—or maybe just for a #treatyourself indulgence.
Add pattern to your floor without breaking the bank.
A rug can help define a space, ground a room and add much-needed colour and pattern, but they can be super expensive! So, we went on a search for fabulous but frugal rugs. With many budget-friendly options, these websites prove you don't have to empty your wallet to add some patterned goodness to your floors.
1. Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel has a sophisticated selection of rugs in a variety of patterns and colours. Afraid to order a rug online? Order a 12 inch by 12 inch swatch to try before you buy.
West Elm’s offerings (in mostly muted tones) include a stunning selection of custom rugs. Want to see how the rug will look in a styled space? Click on the #mywestelm photos below the main rug images to see photos shared by West Elm shoppers.
This online-only shop has a huge selection of over 10, 000 rugs in endless shapes, sizes and patterns. With free shipping over $75 and an excellent return policy, you don’t have to fret over making the wrong choice!
If you are in the market for a rug for a child’s bedroom, playroom or family room, Land of Nod has your floor covered. Their selection of colourful, geometric and neutral floor coverings means there is something for everyone. You can order a small swatch to test a rug’s colours and pattern at home.
To cook shrimp in a skillet, heat oil (or butter) over medium heat. Add your peeled shrimp, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turns pink and opaque, which should take anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan. As soon as the shrimp is pink and opaque on both sides, remove the shrimp from the heat or it will very quickly go from perfect to overdone.
Here are 7 things to avoid when cooking shrimp:
1. Using shrimp that’s past its prime: All protein tastes best when it’s super fresh, but that’s a real non-negotiable for shrimp. Fresh shrimp should be used within 24 hours, as should thawed shrimp. If you’re not sure when you’re going to consume the shrimp, it’s best to buy it frozen so you can take it out as needed.
2. Over seasoning: Shrimp is naturally quite salty, so make sure not to over season it. Taste as you go and err on the side of under seasoning. You can always add a little pinch of salt if needed, but it’s much harder to take one away!
3. Cooking shrimp that hasn’t been completely thawed: Shrimp must be completely thawed before cooking. If it isn’t, you’ll end up with a watery, unappetizing mess. Once your shrimp has completely thawed, you can pat it dry with a paper towel before cooking. This will remove excess water and give your shrimp the best possible texture.
4. Low heat: Make sure the shrimp starts searing away when it first hits the pan so it doesn’t simmer instead of searing. Medium heat is as low as you should go!
5. Keeping the tails: There is a time and a place for keeping shrimp tails attached (think shrimp cocktail) but when eaten as part of a dish, it’s easier and less messy to not have to deal with the shrimp tails at all.
6. Forgetting to properly peel and unvein the shrimp: Although most of us are well-aware of where our food comes from, finding a piece of shrimp shell or a black vein (which is basically the intestinal tract of the shrimp) is not incredibly appetizing — and it doesn’t taste good! Make sure to evenly peel the shrimp and devein it before using. Even when shrimp is labelled as deveined, it’s a good idea to quickly check each one just to make sure it’s been adequately cleaned. 7. Buying previously cooked frozen shrimp: Shrimp which has already been cooked and then frozen might seem like a great time-saver, but it really does not have the best texture. It’s more watery and usually doesn’t taste that great. Always opt for unpeeled, uncooked frozen shrimp if you're not buying it fresh from the fish counter.
Dainty and flavourful, everyone loves to indulge in tiny bites of traditional tea sandwiches. Though they appear finicky to make, these tea sandwiches are easy to assemble and entirely make-ahead.
Pinwheel Sandwiches Trim crusts from 5 slices white or whole wheat sandwich loaf, cut Pullman-style. (Ask bakery to cut sandwich loaf horizontally, or Pullman style.) Using rolling pin, flatten slices slightly. Spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread with filling.
Place 1 asparagus spear (or 2 baby gherkins) along 1 short end of each. Starting at asparagus, roll up tightly without squeezing. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. With serrated knife, trim ends; cut each roll into 6 slices.
Makes 30 pieces. Pinwheel Sandwich recipe: Curried Egg Salad Triangle Sandwiches Spread 16 thin slices whole wheat or white sandwich bread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread filling evenly over 8 of the slices. Top with remaining slices, pressing lightly. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with damp tea towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Trim off crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
Makes 32 pieces. Triangle Sandwich recipe: Ham Pickle Spread Square Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above except use 8 thin slices white and 8 thin slices whole wheat sandwich bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters.
Makes 32 pieces.Square Sandwich recipe: Pimiento Cheese Spread Finger Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above. Cut each sandwich lengthwise into 4 fingers.
Makes 32 pieces. Finger Sandwich recipe: Tuna Olive Salad
Choose the best-quality bread. Never serve end slices. Freezing bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread should be lightly buttered no matter what the filling. Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread butter right to edge of bread.
Cut crusts off bread with long, sharp knife after (not before) assembling sandwiches. This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally. Or use cookie cutters to cut into decorative shapes.
"I've seen more changes this year than in the past three years," says Lisa Gittens, a tax expert at H&R Block.
Here are eight things families will want to be aware of when filling out their 2016 return.
1. Last chance on certain tax credits
The government is phasing out a handful of tax credits and focusing on larger benefits. The children's arts and fitness tax credits will be halved for the 2016 tax year, and cut completely next year, meaning families will no longer be able to defray costs for things like swimming lessons, ballet and tutoring. For post-secondary students, the education and textbook credits are being eliminated in 2017, although education amounts carried forward from previous years will still be claimable.
2. No more income splitting
Also gone is the Family Tax Cut, which lets the higher-earning spouse transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earner. During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to cut it, calling it a "tax break for the wealthy."
With the benefit gone, Gittens recommends a spousal RRSP, which allows the higher-earner to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's RRSP and claim the tax benefit. "You may have an RRSP set up, but you haven't thought about setting it up for your spouse. This is an ideal time to use that strategy," she says.
3. Changes to child benefits
The Canada Child Benefit was a signature feature of the 2016 budget, replacing the old Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It's non-taxable, so you don't have to claim it. However, in order to continue to receive the benefit, both parents must file a return, even if one doesn't generate any income, says Gittens.
Also keep in mind that the benefit started in July, so you still have to claim the taxable UCC for the first six months of the year.
4. New tax rates
New tax rates mean you may or may not be pleasantly surprised by the size of your tax bill this year. If you're in the meaty middle that earns between $45,000 and $90,000, your rate will come down to 20.5 percent from 22 percent.
"Most Canadians will be receiving more money at the end of the day than they were under the old system," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Strategies Group.
However, high-income earners will be paying more due to a new 33 percent bracket for people earnings more than $200,000.
5. Child care expenses
Childcare costs are usually the biggest deduction available for families, says Golombek. But what many people don't realize is that it goes beyond simply daycare. If you have a nanny, you can claim that expense, but also babysitting, if it's during the day, and summer or day camp.
6. Disability tax credit and family caregiver amount
If you have family members with a disability there are certain credits that may be available to you. The Disability Tax Credit is available to people with disabilities to reduce their taxes. For children under age 18, a parent or caregiver may be able to claim the unused amount.
If you're a caregiver to a family member with physical or mental impairments, you may also be able to claim an additional $2,121, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
7. Selling your principal residence
Selling your home has typically not been something you've had to report on your taxes, because usually Canadians don't get taxed for capital gains on their principle residence. But starting with the 2016 tax year, individuals who sold their principal residence during the year must report the sale. The government is ostensibly doing this to crack down on people who try to pass off income-generating homes as their principal residence.
8. eFile early, get your refund early
Tax deadline is April 30, but if you want to get ahead of the game, file early, before the government is inundated with last-minute returns. You can still file the old paper return, but Gittens says you'll be looking at a turnaround time of anywhere up to eight weeks, versus 10-14 days for a return filed early and electronically.