It’s the height of summer. Throw caution to the wind! Give in to every whim! Here are 35 ways to indulge that won’t induce even a twinge of guilt.
EAT & EXERCISE
FEAST ON THIS: Why I’m hungry for a vegan “big mac.”
By Lisa Guimond
I haven’t had a Big Mac in 17 years. Before I became a vege-tarian, it was my fast-food BFF. My go-to. My everything. At 11 years old, I could wolf down two of them with fries and feel no shame. I was young, life was beautiful and calories didn’t count. But now that I’ve all but forgotten what it feels like to bite into a juicy burger, Los Angeles fast-food joint Doomie’s has set up shop in Toronto to give vegans and vegetarians something to chew on. The menu features the hallmarks of a greasy spoon (barbecue pulled “pork,” fried mac ’n’ “cheese” balls), but all I really care about is the vegan take on the Big Mac.
The Mac Daddy, as Chef Doomie (he only goes by one name) calls it, is a towering replica of Mickey D’s original except that it’s built with animal-product-free ingredients. I’ve enlisted the help of a friend for the taste test—she has had a Big Mac recently, so her meat memory is better than mine. The burger certainly passes our visual test—it looks just like its beefy predecessor, and you can even get it in a fast-food-style box. After a couple of bites, we both agree that the special sauce is pretty on-point and the patty is hearty. Sure, we’ve probably consumed about a million calories, but we’ve decided to embrace the chef’s outlook: “Life is short,” he says. “You have to do what makes you happy.”
KICK IT UP A NOTCH
DNCE’s catchy tune “Cake by the Ocean” may get you dancing on the beach, but what good is cake without ice cream? That’s where the SoftShell Ice Cream Ball (from $38, at Mountain Equipment Co-op, mec.ca) comes in. The ball is essentially an old-fashioned ice-cream machine that you kick around instead of churn. Put rock salt and ice in one half and cream, sugar and fruit in the other. Play with it for 20 to 30 minutes, and then all you need is a cone.
For a calorie-free summer treat, go for these ice-cream-cone-print flip-flops and beach towel. ($25 and $50, at Electra, electrabike.com)
RUN THE NIGHT
If Daft Punk and Kayla Itsines had a love child, his playground would be Night Nation Run. Touted as the world’s first “running music festival,” this 5K—complete with EDM DJs, light shows, dancing and Glow Sticks—is an after-hours equivalent to daybreaker raves. Better still, it raises money for Stand Up to Cancer. It’s happening on July 23 in Toronto, August 6 in Vancouver and September 9 in Montreal.
Here’s an extra reason to feel good about throwing back one of bartender-author Matthew Biancaniello’s cocktails: They’re packed with healthy produce, from tomatoes and leeks to kumquats and arugula. Here’s his recipe for the Roquette, his absolute favourite tipple from Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails ($28.50, at Chapters, chapters.indigo.ca). Consider it your go-to “green juice” for the summer-party circuit.
3/4 oz. (22.5 mL) fresh lime juice, preferably from
a Bearss lime
3/4 oz. (22.5 mL) agave syrup
1 cup wild arugula, preferably rustic
2 oz. (60 mL) CapRock gin
Wild-radish flowers or micro-arugula for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime juice, agave syrup and arugula; add the gin and ice. Shake and then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice; add garnish.
GET A BOOST
If the claims of a brand-new British booze are true, that next sip of your G&T—or Roquette—is basically a drink from the fountain of youth. Each bottle of Anti-AGin contains 90 grams of collagen, which, as you may know, is the protein responsible for bouncy, young-looking skin. Pair that with sunscreen and you’ll basically be Benjamin Button out on that patio...right? ($60, drinksupermarket.com)
HOME & AWAY
PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE CLOUDS: Why I’ve joined The Wander Society and The Cloud Appreciation Society.
By Christina Reynolds
If your goal is to waste time—in a meaningful, life-changing kind of way—I have two societies that might interest you. Both embrace the thinking that in this age of distraction, there’s an art to setting aside time for the unknown and the unexpected. The Wander Society is the more mysterious of the two. It’s guided by the Latin phrase “Solvitur ambulando,” which means “It is solved by walking,” as well as Walt Whitman’s naturalist poetry in Leaves of Grass. Its founders are anonymous, its start date is fuzzy and all you have to do to become a member is declare yourself one. Keri Smith penned The Wander Society after spotting clues about the secretive society in notations found in a book at a used bookstore, pamphlets posted to a tree in Brooklyn and Walt Whitman graffiti quotes on the subway. If you’re in need of some wandering #inspo, check out thewandersociety.tumblr.com for periodically posted “assignments designed to creatively disrupt everyday life.”
The other group I joined is The Cloud Appreciation Society. My favourite line from its manifesto is “We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.” The society has become a bit more structured (and by “structured” I mean it sends out a “cloud a day” email to members) than it was when Brit Gavin Pretor-Pinney dreamed up the idea in 2004. He made up the name as a joke to entice literary-conference-goers to a lecture he was giving on his new fascination with clouds. So many people inquired about joining the then non-existent organization that he created one. He has since published The Cloudspotter’s Guide and The Cloud Collector’s Handbook and has also created a few quirky products, like a 1950s-style cardboard information wheel that identifies 20 cloud formations. But becoming a cloud expert isn’t my goal—it’s about seeing, sharing and imagining what Joni Mitchell poetically described as “ice-cream castles in the air.”
JUST STAY IN
How can you not feel enormous winter-survivor’s guilt about AC chillin’ during our all-too-brief summer? Redeem yourself by spending that time indoors supporting the Canadian film industry. That these are three crackingly entertaining Canuck releases is a bonus for your patriotism. (If you can’t find these flicks at your local movie theatre, try iTunes or check the program of a nearby film fest.)
Natasha This coming-of-age tale set in the Toronto burbs is about the complicated relationship between two teen (step!) cousins. It’s based on David Bezmozgis’ short story of the same name.
Sleeping Giant This is the critically acclaimed, kinda creepy story of three boys’ life-changing summer in Ontario’s cottage country. Bonus: It was directed by rising star Andrew Cividino.
No Men Beyond This Point Filmmaker Mark Sawers’ mockumentary about the fallout of 60 years of women being able to have babies without men is seen through the experiences of one of the last men alive.
SLEEP ON IT
No, you don’t need a $27,000 duvet. But here’s why you can feel good about buying one. Eiderdown is so rare that Norvegr, a Norwegian luxury bedding company, can only collect enough of it to produce about 15 duvets a year. And no ducks are harmed in the process. After the eider duck lays her eggs, she plucks tufts from her chest to keep her brood warm. At the end of the season, when the family has departed its nest, the down is hand-collected and hand-washed. It’s worth all the effort because eiderdown is revered for its unparalleled insulating properties—it’s part of a centuries-old sweet-dream-inducing legacy that dates back to the Vikings. (Norvegr Limited Edition Eiderdown Duvet, $27,112 for a king-size polar duvet, at intothebedroom.com)
BUY A SECOND (TINY) HOUSE
The classic second-home scenario—a cottage in Muskoka or a tasteful little villa on the French Riviera—has always been seen as something for the well-to-do. But think again: The affordable-tiny-house movement has hit Canada in a big way. TV shows like Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Builders and Tiny House, Big Living depict appealingly scaled-down lives. Terrace, B.C., is home to Canada’s very first “micro-village” of tiny houses, and the quirky problems of tiny-house dwellers in Stratford, Ont., were explored in a blog called “Our Wee House.” If you’re willing to do much of the grunt work and can find a parcel of land, you can construct your own 19-square-metre house for as little as $30,000.
GIVE PARIS A HUG
The November terrorist attacks targeted young Parisians with friends on patios in the 10th and 11th arrondissements. These neighbourhoods are little incubators of local culture, and they’re trying to return to a semblance of normalcy. So help the City of Light shine a bit brighter by visiting this summer. Stay at Hotel de Nell for a high-design experience complete with Japanese bathtubs. Eat at Richer, a bistro with a delectable strawberry sorbet and tarragon salad, and Du Pain et Des Idées, an ornate centuries-old bakery that serves arguably the city’s best pain au chocolat. Stroll along tree-lined Canal Saint-Martin and shop the chic boutiques of Rue de Marseille, including Medecine Douce for its colourful handmade jewellery.
SHOP ’TIL YOU DROP (THE PACKAGING)
Want to get your hands on fresh, local produce and make Captain Planet proud? Grab your (empty) Prada tote because Canada is getting its very first “packaging-free” supermarket. Vancouver’s Zero Waste Market, coming this fall, is our country’s first outpost in a global movement toward eliminating all the extra stuff—plastic, cardboard, more plastic—that comes with buying food in the 21st century. Instead of grabbing your pasta in a box, for instance, you bring along your own container and help yourself from a big bin. Need olive oil? BYO bottle and decant it for yourself from giant vats. Can’t wait ’til the bricks-and-mortar building opens? Check out the Zero Waste pop-ups happening throughout the summer—they’ve previously been held in the Patagonia store in Kitsilano, B.C.
It won’t fit in your pocket, but it’s worth carrying around Canadian adventurer Bruce Poon Tip’s thick cloth-covered illustrated travel journal, Do Big Small Things ($30, amazon.ca). It will encourage and challenge you to make the most of your journey—and it gives you a gratifying personal forum in which to record your experiences, which is way more fulfilling than Instagram “likes.”
FASHION & STYLE
GO ON A TREASURE HUNT: Why I crave clothes with a past life.
By Liz Guber
All of my prized wardrobe possessions—a Saint Laurent velvet skirt, a rodeo cowboy’s performance jacket and a Chanel tennis dress—have one thing in common: They’re vintage. I’ve been addicted since my first trek from suburbia to a quirky downtown-Toronto vintage shop when I was in high school. I still pop into shops in search of my next score, but as my tastes have shifted from prairie dresses to Lagerfeld-era Chloé blazers, I’m expanding my search to the Web.
There’s an irony to shopping online for clothes that predate the Internet, but sites like Resee.com, JunoSaysHello.com, LaDoubleJ.com and the newly launched WilliamVintage.com are hard to resist. A scroll through this new site reveals pieces by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Azzedine Alaïa and André Courrèges so rare they deserve their own Met exhibit. Each garment is inspected by a couture-trained seamstress and ozone-treated to remove even the faintest trace of mothballs. Since these high-end pieces aren’t new, I like to think of my fashion-finding hobby as recycling of the most stylish form. And what could be more luxurious than living your life in clothes that have history hand-stitched into every seam?
MEASURE YOUR WARDROBE
If you love adorable summer dresses but are concerned about your carbon footprint, here’s the perfect ticket: Los Angeles-based eco-chic brand Reformation (thereformation.com) provides a “RefScale,” which outlines how much less carbon dioxide, water and waste is required to make each garment compared to industry standards. The brand’s “life cycle of clothes” includes everything from growing the fibres to shipping the finished item. Some dresses have water savings in the thousands of gallons. Reformation also recently added a personal RefScale so every customer can keep track of her savings. So bring on California-girl rompers that are super-stylish and easy on the conscience.
AMP UP YOUR DENIM
Want a jean jacket with couture and recycled connections? Canadian label Triarchy is going the small-batch route with its new line, Atelier Denim. The high-low handcrafted pieces are made using vintage and stock denim that’s sourced in Los Angeles and feature woven fabrics that have been custom-made in the same mills used by Chanel in France. Talk about feel-good jeans. (Vintage denim jacket with French woven fabric, $795, triarchy.com)
While Kim Smiley’s embellished bracelets and earrings make a big statement, they won’t weigh you down. The framework looks like intricate metal but, in fact, is handmade Japanese lace. Smiley sources materials for her Sapphô line from around the globe (Japan, Mexico, Israel) but produces all her pieces in a Toronto workshop where she employs marginalized women and teaches them the skills required to bring her creations to life. (From $75, kimsmiley.com)
MAKE DIY COUTURE
Haute couture may be the greatest fashion indulgence of all, but what if you could become your own couturière? Dutch designer Martijn van Strien’s The Post-Couture Collective wants to hand you (yes, you!) the tools to piece together your clothes. Van Strien developed downloadable clothing patterns that can be cut and assembled by anyone—no sewing experience required (although a laser cutter helps). All you have to do to make the minimal coats, dresses and tops is weave the pieces together through notches and slits—think of it as a wearable jigsaw puzzle. The clothes are as slick and futuristic as the concept itself.
GET SUPE STYLE
Take some fashion advice from Liya Kebede and try on the super-soft cotton caftans, scarves and dresses from her Lemlem line. On a visit to her native Ethiopia, the model noticed that the local weaving industry was dwindling and decided to do something about it. Scarves and tops are woven with intricate patterns and finished with fringe that has been twisted by hand. “It has been incredibly rewarding to see our workshop in Addis Ababa grow and continue to employ more people each year,” says Kebede. ($172, lemlem.com)
It takes 20 pairs of skilled hands to make some of Toronto designer Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks’ most collaborative pieces. Take this organic cotton coat: The ornate lace collar was handmade by a weaver in Toronto (a first for the industry), and the polished-wood buttons were individually cut by a producer in Rockwood, Ont. (For Deaven-Smiltnieks’ efforts, the Peggy Sue Collection just won Toronto Fashion Incubator’s 2016 New Labels award.) It’s all part of her mission to engage North American artisans and fibre farmers one beautiful, traceable garment at a time. (From $195, peggysuecollection.com)
TIE ONE ON
There are shoes and then there are handmade shoes. Ulla Johnson’s strappy sandals are created by a handful of artisans in the small town of Tinke, a few hours outside of Cusco, Peru. The workers who make the shoes’ tassels are so uniquely skilled that it’s essential for them to go to the designer’s factory in Lima to complete the job. The rest of the manufacturing process is also done largely without machines. How’s that for slow fashion? (From $500, at Holt Renfrew)
Brother Vellies’ sandals and babouches, which are handcrafted by artisans in Morocco, Kenya and Ethiopia, were quick to reach It status. Now, founder Aurora James has added bags to the line, like this South African-made tote. James sources as much as she can herself. “Spending time travelling helps me restore my connection to nature and inspires me to work more sustainably,” she says. ($915, at Nordstrom, nordstrom.com)
BEAUTY, MIND & BODY
BE BLOWN AWAY: Why I book a blowout every time I travel for work.
By Victoria DiPlacido
Whenever I go away on business, I try to head to a salon the day I arrive. Here’s why my habit is more that just a shampoo splurge: 1. It makes sense to spend two hours taking it easy while I’m still adjusting to the time zone. 2. A good blowout saves me from spending an hour each day struggling with antiquated hotel hair dryers or calling the front desk to see if the plug adapter I need is still (still!) in use. 3. I save precious space in my luggage by forgoing hair products (all I have to pack to keep a blow-dry going strong for a four-day trip is dry shampoo), and a lighter bag means fewer fossil fuels wasted. (Granted, this might not make a huge difference, but every little bit counts, right?) 4. Finally, I get to talk to locals at the salon and gather insider tips about what I need to see in the city during the rest of my stay—should any of my newly-freed-up time not be taken up by, you know, work. Here are three of my favourite global blowout stops:
PARIS Coiffirst, 44 rue du Four. Book an appointment before you go. Ask for a classic blowout, et voilà: French-girl hair for your entire stay. Bonus: Add on the Kérastase Nutritive treatment to revive parched hair.
NEW YORK CITY Ricardo Rojas Atelier, 60 E 66th Street. Celeb hairstylist Ricardo Rojas has a way of turning a basic blowout into something red-carpet-worthy. His newly renovated uptown salon—all white with red accents, as inspired by his last name—is just asking to be Instagrammed.
BERLIN Shan’s True Beauty, Kurfürstendamm 196. No appointment needed here—just show up for quickie manicures, blowouts and updos. (They’re excellent at braids too.)
BE A MAXIMAL MINIMALIST
Is a “zero-waste indulgence” an oxymoron? Katelin Leblond and Tara Smith-Arnsdorf, the Victoria-based duo behind paredownhome.com, don’t think so. The zero-waste activists want to inspire Canadians to cut down on convenience goods and garbage by focusing on good-for-the-environment essentials like package-free organic cotton sheets and wooden hangers as well as natural-ingredient household cleaners and grooming products. Smith-Arnsdorf’s favourite go-to zero-waste goody is Nezza Natural essential-oil bath bombs. “It is one of those items I would never have thought to purchase for myself prior to living zero waste,” says Smith-Arnsdorf. “Now it’s a special treat, just for me to enjoy.”
SPREAD IT ON
The Body Shop’s Body Butter ($21, thebodyshop.ca) is as decadent as its name suggests. As of late 2016, the rich cream will be ditching its old plastic package (normally made of non-renewable fossil fuels—i.e., not so good for the environment) for one made of AirCarbon, which is derived from methane, a greenhouse gas. Removing this gas from the atmosphere is a boon for climate change—yet another reason to smooth some on.
PUT YOUR BEST FACE FORWARD
These hydrating antioxidant-rich products do more than just help your skin look even-toned; they combat environmental aggressors, like the heavy metals, cigarette smoke and UV rays that cause free radicals. (These are not good for your glow, among other things.) So protect your skin with every pat, spray and swipe of the following: Ren Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist ($38); La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Serum ($410); Clinique Super City Block BB Cushion Compact SPF 50 ($41); Rodial Stem Cell Magic Gel ($75). For details, see Shopping Guide.
CREATE A MANTRA
On July 28, skip your regular Thursday happy hour for a shot of enlightenment when the Lolë White Tour hits Toronto’s Exhibition Place. The super-size sunset outdoor yoga class will leave you feeling so Zen—just in time for the long weekend.
JUST PUT IT OFF
Picasso once said “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Sound a tad dramatic? Science agrees. Turns out a little procrastination can be a good thing—but only if you grind out a bit of work at the start and then allow time for it to breathe. Known as “incubation,” this gives the idea time to make new connections in the brain, says Piers Steel, a professor of human resources and a procrastination expert at the University of Calgary. “Once you have some facts in there, it has to convert from short-term to long-term memory, and then it has to be linked up with other ideas. That takes time; it has to stew.” So this is your official permission to procrastinate a little—your masterpiece awaits.
Text by Victoria DiPlacido, Liz Guber, Lisa Guimond, Sarah Laing, Christina Reynolds, Sarah Treleaven & Carli Whitwell. Originally published in the August 2016 edition of ELLE Canada.