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Top Nine Ways To Celebrate The Valentine’s Day Long Weekend

Valentine’s Day (or as some people like to call it, the International Day of Love) is almost here, and we have you covered for great ideas to celebrate. Whether you are spending some quality alone time, hanging out with your friends or with that special someone, here are SQM’s top nine ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020. 

“Pal-entine’s” Day.

Who says Valentine’s Day needs to be all about romance, candlelit dinners and flowers? Grab your friends, order a pizza and dessert and have yourselves a party. Celebrate your friendship having a board game night, having a movie marathon with your favourite rom-coms or sci-fi flicks, or complete a thousand-piece puzzle. Take time to celebrate your friendship and enjoy each other’s company. 

Ikea Date

This year, Ikea is rolling out the red carpet by offering a three-course meal, all for the low low price of $29.99 for members and $34.99 for non-members. Enjoy a dinner for two and then have the time of your life roaming the store looking for the great next purchase. 

Dinner and a Show

This is a classic date night option for a reason. It gives you and that special someone a reason to get dressed up, eat a delicious meal, talk about the meaning of life while staring deeply into each other’s eyes. Obviously, this will all be done over a shared plate of spaghetti (a la The Lady and the Tramp) before going to enjoy a night of cinematic excitement, artistic talent or theatrical drama. Check your local listings for great shows and performances scheduled around Valentine’s Day.

Take A Class Together

Get out of your comfort zone and bond with the ones you love by checking out a new activity together. Whether that’s trying out a cooking class to teach you the skills to master that Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe, busting out a dance move or two at a salsa or ballroom dance class, or learning to find your inner peace through meditation and yoga.

Weekend Getaway

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to get away for the weekend. Lucky for you, this year Valentine’s Day falls right before the Family Day long weekend. Take this opportunity to head out of the city for a cozy getaway with that special someone. Visit Montreal to experience the architecture, food and culture, or go to Blue Mountain for skiing. If neither of those options sound like your cup of tea, try going to the wine country and see if you can book a wine tasting tour.

Recreate your first date or favourite date

A wonderful and meaningful way to spend your Valentine’s Day with that special someone is recreating your first date. It is such a romantic and thoughtful gesture that really shows that you care.

NBA All-Star Weekend

For all you basketball fans, whether you’re #TeamGiannis or #TeamLeBron, get together with your friends and family to cheer on your team this Sunday!

Give Back

During the season of love, show how much you love and care about your community by giving back. Grab your friends, family and partner and volunteer to help the less fortunate.

Treat Yourself: Self Love

Take some time out of your busy schedule and treat yourself with some “me time” and self-care. Whether that means, getting a massage or your nails done, having a quiet night in or treating yourself to a new book or sweater, take the time to appreciate yourself and all the hard work that you do throughout the year.

 

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Leaving The Competition In The Dust

For my last blog, I highlighted a family-run dry cleaning business so while I’m on the topic of household-related items I wanted to talk about a family-run appliance repair store called York Appliance Vacuums.

The first time I visited the store, I happened to be in the area and so stopped in, as I was having problems with my Shop-Vac. I was very pleased that within 10 minutes, they were able to fix my problem efficiently and at a reasonable price. In fact, I was even given a longer cord to replace my other one, making it much better.

In more recent times, I was having trouble with my Dyson vacuum, so I called up York Appliance to ask for help, as I’ve been pleased with their service in the past. They don’t normally work on Dyson vacuums (Dyson apparently does their own repairs) but they took the time to look at it for about 15 minutes and gave me suggestions and ideas that might fix the problem.

Often these days in business, people are just looking for instant gratification and hang up the phone if they don’t get a sale right away. Even though this call would not result in a sale, the owner spent some time to keep a customer like myself happy and engaged.

If you’re looking to support a family business, or for a reputable place to buy, service, or fix your vacuums, take a look at York Appliance.

York Appliance Vacuums
416-488-3231
https://yorkappliance.ca/

 

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Winter and Holiday Activities

1. Distillery District

Known for its Christmas Market, the Distillery District transports its guests to a holiday wonderland filled with lights, Christmas stalls filled with food and knickknacks, as well as, live carolling. You can continue the fun by checking out the amazing displays at the annual Toronto Light Festival from January 17th – March 1st, 2020.

2. Hockey

In typical Canadian fashion, what are the holidays without hockey? Check out your local Minor teams, the OHL, the AHL, and if you’re feeling jolly, spring for those NHL tickets. If you’re a Leafs Fanatic, mark your calendars to see the team practice at Nathan Phillps Square on January 9th, 2020!

3. CNE Aurora Winter Festival

This is definitely the place to take your kids. From the rides and games to the ice rink, magical forest, and whimsical holiday-themed events, this is a ton of fun for the family. You can purchase your tickets online (Presto Cardholders get a 15% discount). You can also get your skate on and enjoy free skate rentals on Wednesdays!

4. Ballet

Christmas is the time to see the Nutcracker. Enjoy The National Ballet of Canada’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic until January 4th, 2020.

5. Ice Skating

Show off your skills! Check out DJ Skate Nights the Harbourfront Centre and get free skating lessons at the Bentway Skating Trail. You can also visit Ontario Place, Nathans Phillips Square or your local ice rink.

6. Courthouse visit

For all of you crime show enthusiasts, visit your local courthouse to see a real courtroom proceeding. Check out the court’s website to find out about the proper etiquette and to view the daily court lists to see which cases are being heard.

7. Trivia

Do you know what’s fun? Pub trivia. Go test your vast knowledge of pop culture, history, literature and science, and show off your trivia skills. Bar trivia is not just a holiday classic fun time, but an all year round great way to spend with friends and family.

8. Give back

The holidays are a time for giving. Check out some of the many charities across the city to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!

 

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My Oldest Friend in the World

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I found my accountant through my good friend and lawyer, Mitchell Rose. Mitch is my oldest friend in the world, as our moms met when they were expecting us. Ever since we were born, we’ve managed to keep in touch and when Mitch graduated from law school and was called to the bar, I am proud to say that I was one of his very first clients.

While Mitch continues to do legal work for me, in more recent times he has been focusing a great deal of attention on the mediation aspect of his business. Although he is still very much a lawyer, these days most of his work involves him acting as a mediator or settlement counsel.

Recently, Mitch has decided to focus all of his attention on mediation. In 2019, he started his own firm, known as Mitchell Rose Professional Corporation, with two divisions: Mitchell Rose Law and Rose Dispute Resolution. Mitch is the perfect person to be involved in mediation and settlement counsel work, as I have always found him to be a very level-headed and methodical lawyer. Unlike other lawyers who are very aggressive and take on cases that are impossible to win, Mitch is practical and results-oriented, always thinking things through to the end and providing his clients with reasonable and sound advice. He also provides great value.

In some circumstances, Mitch has even suggested not pursuing certain actions or cases based on either the financial or emotional toll that it may take on myself and other clients. While this may have cost him money or fees in the short term, I have no doubt that this approach has served his mediation clients well, and will continue to serve him well as he attempts to grow his business.

Mitch also has an uncanny ability to look at things from many angles, always keeping the big picture in mind. With both personal or business matters, people in law often forget the human component. Whether it’s preparing or reviewing an employment contract or severance package, dealing with a neighbour dispute, or handling a debt collection issue, he takes into consideration the fact that he is dealing with people with various needs.

Mitch always works with a great deal of class, thoughtfulness, and kindness. While I have not personally had the chance to use Mitch for mediation (and probably couldn’t, due to our close friendship), I highly recommend that you or your legal counsel consider him for all of your mediation and settlement counsel needs.

Mitchell Rose
Mitchell Rose Professional Corporation
5000 Yonge Street, Suite 1901
Toronto, ON, M2N 7E9
416-227-3406
https://mitchellrose.ca/

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Unparalleled Experience

Several months ago, I heard about a popular Middle Eastern restaurant that had opened up in Toronto called Parallel. The restaurant is owned by the Ozery Brothers, of Ozery Bakery fame, and the creators behind the popular pitas that are available across the country and in some select locations in the United States. The Ozery Bakery has been around for more than 20 years and has grown from a small family owned bakery to a staple for alternative bread products. The Ozery Brothers’ new restaurant is sure to become a staple for Middle Eastern cuisine due to the great food, wonderful ambiance, and the overall unique experience that it has to offer.

Where the Ozery Bakery was the creation of just Alon and Guy; Parallel is a collaboration between Alon, Guy and their brother, Aharon. The addition of Aharon is apparent in how the space, location, and ambiance of the restaurant differs from that of Ozery Bakery. By having the three brothers all collaborate together, putting their individual skills and tastes into the restaurant, they have created a restaurant that is bursting with flavour and style.

Parallel itself is a small, open concept space that seats about 75 people. An interesting aspect of the restaurant is that it backs onto the kitchen, allowing diners to see what is happening behind the scenes. The decoration is minimal, though the art pieces that are on the walls, are statement pieces and draw the eye. The high ceilings and the trains that can be seen through the window, give the restaurant a chic, yet warm, ambiance that is reminiscent of a working, living warehouse.

Now, don’t be fooled by the location or the modern ambiance. The food is steeped in tradition, and the dining experience is based in community. The menu is all about shareable items and diners can share beer and food with the table. This adds to the overall experience and charm of the restaurant and makes Parallel a great place for a friendly get together, a date, or a relaxing night out.

The menu offers dishes that suit all likes and dietary lifestyles. Parallel offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan friendly options, while also offering a selection of diary, gluten and meat dishes. The menu is not overly extensive, but there is enough variety that diners feel like that they can sample a wide variety of flavourful food, and non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

The acquaintance who told me about the new restaurant raved about how great it was and told me that they had already decided to go back. They were very excited, but there was a problem; it was so busy, they had to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance and they didn’t know if they would be able to wait that long. Now I don’t know about you, but when there is a wait list that long, I know that I have to go and see for myself what the craze is about.

So that’s exactly what I did… two weeks after I had made my own reservation.

When I arrived, my guest and I were immediately greeted and escorted to a table that had already been set. The server was great; they were personable, friendly, and full of suggestions. There was a great variety of food and beverages available, and the atmosphere was lively. The Parallel salad was tasty, and the fried cauliflower was amazing! The mushroom dish was unique and delicious. The flavours of each dish were mouth-watering and memorable. They were plated attractively and were a decent portion size; though, I will admit that I found the restaurant to be a little bit on the expensive side, the food and the experience was well worth the money. I can’t wait to go back again and explore more of their menu, because if the food is as flavourful as the cauliflower or the salad, I know that I am in for an exciting treat.

Living in Toronto means that there are tens of thousands of restaurants that are available to choose from; and it has become increasingly difficult to find a unique, fun, and delicious restaurant that stands out. That being said, Parallel is one of those restaurants that is unique, memorable, and different, and in my humble opinion, everyone should try it and see for themselves how great it is.

Parallel is closed Monday and Tuesday, but it is open every other day of the week, offering both brunch and dinner. So, whether you are looking to try a new type of cuisine, impress a dinner date, or have a fun, relaxing brunch with friends or family, Parallel is unparalleled in providing great food and a great atmosphere, and you should definitely stop by to check it out.

Parallel
(416) 516-7765
www.parallelbrothers.com

 

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Dyson – A Sucker for Customer Service

Back a couple of years ago, I wrote about Dyson when we had an issue with our office vacuum cleaner.  At the time, the vacuum was under warranty and Dyson, without causing us any grief, quickly sent us a replacement part so we were able to get back to cleaning our office.  The entire experience was friendly, efficient, and stress free, and their customer service department was a pleasure to deal with.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when on a Friday we realized that a small piece of the vacuum had broken and cracked, and as a result we couldn’t use it.  One of my colleagues got on the phone, explained the problem, and provided Dyson with our vacuum’s registration number.  The employee looked us up in their database, and indicated that the vacuum wasn’t under warranty anymore, but told us in the same sentence that they wanted to make sure we were happy, and were going to send us a replacement part at no charge.

Since the piece had broken due to heavy use, and not necessarily some sort of mechanical failure, it made the gesture extra special.  The fact that they stood behind the product goes to show you what kind of company they are, and what kind of customer service you can expect from them.  The piece arrived within a few days and we were back up and running in no time at all, once again using our spiffy Dyson.

Presently, I have three Dyson products: an upright vacuum, a handheld vacuum, and the office Dyson, and I am extremely happy with each product.

Dyson was originally established in the United Kingdom in 1991 and have recently announced that they are moving their headquarters to Singapore. James Dyson, the founder, felt that vacuums could be more efficient, based on the fact that the one he was using constantly clogged up and lost suction over time.  As a result, he went about inventing a completely different type of machine, and if my experience is any indication, he seems to be on to something!

Skip to the present, and Dyson now has a line of not only vacuums, but hand dryers, lights, fans, heaters, and more.  I know my wife is dying to get her hands on one of the new Dyson hair dryers, but unfortunately, given how expensive it is, she’s going to have to wait until the price comes down a bit…or I win the lottery…before I can buy it for her.

To their credit, I’ve never heard anyone complain about any Dyson product, and between the reliability of their products, combined with their customer support just goes to show you why.

Dyson Canada
1-877-397-6622
https://www.dysoncanada.ca

 

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Cooking Up Five Star Customer Service

Caplan’s Appliances, on Weston Road, south of Eglinton Avenue, is a family-founded appliance store that first opened its doors in the 1940’s.  Their recently renovated store has a wide selection of brands to choose from, including:  Maytag, Whirlpool, Bosch, Sub-Zero, and Wolf, to name a few.  In addition to the long list of brands which they represent, a few years ago they opened up a separate Miele showroom right across the street from the main store.

The owner of Caplan’s, Bob Caplan, is an old friend of mine, and I have been doing business with Bob and his family for many years.  Since I know he treats everyone like he treats me…he probably treats others much better :-)…I’ve always been recommending him to my family and colleagues who have been in need of appliances.

I’ve visited Bob’s store many times before, and I felt that it was time I give his store a shout out, based on my most recent experience there.  Back a couple of months ago, I was in the market for a new stove for my aunt.  My aunt is 93, living on fixed income, and Bob was aware of this. Instead of selling us a high-end appliance, Bob had given the salesperson a heads up and they were able to find us a good quality stove at a reasonable price.

In addition, Caplan’s will offer to deliver the new appliance and take away the old one.  In my aunt’s case, we needed added assistance because the stove was a gas range, and it’s not something you can just easily unplug from the wall.  As a result, you need a gas fitter to disconnect the old one and install the new appliance.  As it turns out, the salesperson was kind enough to find me a gas fitter, and coordinated the timing so we were able to remove the old stove at the same time as they brought the new one in. The fact that they were willing to go the extra mile to help out my aunt for what amounted to a small purchase, just shows how much they care about their business and their customers.

Aside from the gas fitter, Caplan’s has partnerships with other people in the trades, including interior designers, builders, and construction companies. Bob is truly a one-stop solution for all of your appliance needs.

Caplan’s has been around for a long time, and they understand the value of having a customer for life.  Whether you’re looking for a starter or base type of appliance, upgrading to new model, looking to redo your kitchen and get high-end appliances, Bob and his team are there for you.

Caplan’s Appliances
416-767-1655
https://www.caplans.ca/

 

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