The Secret to finding the Best Croissant in Paris

Un café au lait et un croissant aux amandes s’il vous plait…

A French almond croissant from my favourite Parisian bakery is parfait. I love the contrast of textures between fresh pastry and creamy almond centres.…yum.  (I am that person who makes mmm noises when I eat.) But when I eat an almond croissant at a French bakery in Toronto, I experience fleeting nostalgia; it’s just not the same.

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Paris is Special.

Why is an almond croissant in Paris so much better than anywhere else?

Taste has something to do with it, but there’s something else too.

Paris is special.

A sunny day in Paris has a certain charm – anything is possible. The city parks come alive with impromptu picnics, small groups of people with an array of finger foods, cheese of course, a bottle of wine and joie de vivre.

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…the cobblestone streets seem to have no end…

 

Being in Paris is like stepping into a storybook—the historic buildings house secrets, the cobblestone streets seem to have no end, the river Seine carries my dreams in its rapids, and I can’t stop imagining what my story will be.

When I’m in Paris, the city-of-lights, I indulge daily.

No, I’m not kidding! And let me tell you, I’m picky about which almond croissant I’ll eat (even in Paris).

Just like any other place in the world, you and I both know, some shops are just for tourists—locals won’t set foot in them. From baguettes to pastries, a boulangerie is an essential part of the Parisian lifestyle. To get in with a local, you need to be where the locals are. A bakery or cafe is a good place to start.

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French Deliciousness & The Occasional Glass of Wine

 

Here’s my first little secret, shhh don’t tell anyone. I spent 8-weeks in Paris this year and never visited a single museum. Instead, I mastered how to find the best local bakeries in Paris. And I spent many an afternoon and night in long conversation over a spread of French deliciousness and the occasional glass of wine.

I wouldn’t change a thing; and that’s why I love Paris!

 

 

Here are my secrets on how to find the best boulangerie:

  1. Long lines don’t say anything about the quality of the pastry.
  1. Notice if there are Parisians in line, or tourists. Parisians always know the best places to go. How do you distinguish a Parisian from a tourist, you ask? The classic Parisian wears clothes that look effortless, a trench if cold, minimal makeup, hair tousled naturally and moves with an air of assurance in her walk.
  1. Check the time. The best bakeries sell-out by mid-afternoon. They are busiest in the morning and early afternoon, and then quiet, with vacant shelves by late afternoon.
  1. What kind of pastry is on display? The mom-and-pop local bakeries will only make pastries with seasonal fruits. If a bakery has an array of fruit pastries and only apples are in season, the bakery isn’t up to par. (You must eat a strawberry tart in June to July!)
  1. A pastry should look like a work of art and always be baked fresh daily. A fresh French baguette tastes different and everything else, everywhere else, is just bread.
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A pastry should look like a work of art.
  1. Be choosy! Remember, your holiday will come to an end and you deserve the best even in Paris.

One last note, on your first trip to France, don’t judge French food based on past experiences.

Taste it all.

xo,

 Lola

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Lola is a dietitian who doesn’t believe in dieting. Her favourite food motto  is Everything in Moderation. Needless to say, Lola loves food, (to cook and eat it) and is lucky to have a job that involves food. Lola’s second passion in life is dance and she spends most nights dancing Kizomba, which originates in Angola. Lola Teelucksingh is currently a Registered Dietitian, at the Centre for Addiction Mental Health (CAMH), in Toronto, Canada.

Build Your Wealth & Freedom

Let’s talk money.

Most of us bought into the “baby boomer” dream:

  1. study hard
  2. get a good degree from a good school to get a good job
  3. work your way up the ladder over many years (don’t get fired)
  4. buy a home
  5. retire at 65
  6. travel and enjoy your pension

Millennials are between the stages of 1-4 right now and we’ve realized that for the most part, this dream is a lie. Getting into a good school doesn’t guarantee a job. Highly qualified and experienced millennials find it difficult to secure employment. Even when we are employed, most people don’t like what they’re doing from day-to-day. Permanent jobs have turned into contract work and saving enough for a down payment seems to be more and more difficult when the cost of living and price of houses continues to go up.

So, what do we do?

Seek a new dream.

Mine looks like this:

  1. Earn as much money as possible providing value to others even if that means working several jobs
  2. Save the money I earn (and eliminate debt as early as possible)
  3. Invest that money
  4. Refrain from buying a house for the next few years and use a small portion of earnings and dividends to travel and enjoy life

Personal finance wasn’t taught in school and it’s a shame. Universities and banks benefit from our ignorance. Since university/college tuition is at a price few students can pay upfront, students are forced to borrow from OSAP and banks. Universities benefit from new customers students. Banks benefit from the interest paid on loans and the longer it takes a student to pay off his/her loan, the more interest a student pays.

To make money I run my own law practice and tutor for the Ontario bar exam and I am looking to take on one or two more jobs. I want to work and earn more because my fiancé and I sat down with a few very successful entrepreneurs in the last few weeks and listened to their life stories. Each of them had worked several jobs or 16-hour-days, five to seven days a week in their 20s and 30s. Now, in their 50s, one entrepreneur lives in a big house on Rosedale, owns two restaurants and travels 6 months of the year. Another entrepreneur has five beautiful kids, two luxury cars and owns the building his business operates from.

Their successes inspire me. Everyone has a different perspective on money. To me, money is freedom. It’s a reward for providing value to others. It’s the ability to travel when you want, to control your time, provide for your dependents with ease and contribute to society at a higher level by investing in start-ups, donating to charities, etc.

Everyone has a different perspective on money. To me, money is freedom. It’s a reward for providing value to others. It’s the ability to travel when you want, to control your time, provide for your dependents with ease and contribute to society at a higher level by investing in start-ups, donating to charities, etc.

Some things you can do to get started on building your own financial security are:

  1. Try your best to pay off your debt as quickly as possible – live frugally and take advantage of bursaries, loan forgiveness programs, etc.
  2. Learn how to invest money – WealthSimple seems to be a great up-and-coming resource and I have a promo code that allows you to invest your first $10 000 for free. Comment below if you’re interested!
  3. Seek ways to monetize your skills to benefit others – offer your services at a market rate, support your friends businesses, etc.
  4. Contribute to your savings accounts

While managing money is important, I always keep quality of life in mind. My fiancé and I make sure to travel at least twice a year (going to Paris next month!!) and I will splurge on the occasional date/girls night. My friends and I help each other save by hosting dinners/hanging out at each other’s places, taking advantage of Groupon deals, etc. I’m excited about building towards my wealth potential and I hope you are too!

Building wealth is a topic that affects all of us. How are you doing it? Do you have any tips to share? Feel free to comment below.

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Carnival and the Freedom of “di road”

Your alarm goes off, you peer out of one eye thinking if I don’t get up now I’ll be late.

Maybe you love your job, and are growing in your role, but you’re tired.

Maybe you’re in a transitionary period, and going to work is simply that. Work.

Or maybe you’re somewhere between those extremes.

There are a myriad of things happening at home, with your partner or with your family, which confront you, pushing and pulling you on a daily basis.

But all that aside, what you know is next week is carnival, and you’re going to fete.

This is a pretty familiar theme in soca music, the respite of carnival, the welcome relief that comes from jumping up on the road, with your friends, and even with complete strangers.

I think for many this is exactly what carnival is. A break. A moment to quiet the mind, and to seek reprieve from the day to day grind.

I appreciate that there are different versions of the event, and I acknowledge that my outlook on Carnival is shaped by my experience as a Jamaican living in Canada…

I am a Jamaican who grew to love soca long after her love for reggae was formed, and a Jamaican who sees and recognizes that a lot of this love is shaped from embracing the differences, but recognizing the similarities of the West Indian experience – and how this is manifested in the Carnival experience.

 

When I think of West Indians, it’s hard to overlook our pride.

We are proud of the things in our culture that make us special and unique – and this can’t be discounted.

But across the Caribbean, our people have shared experiences.

We know what it is like to have a history of colonization and slavery.

We know the stories of our beautiful isles trading hands between the French, the English and/or the Spanish.

We also know about Independence.

We know about curry and jerk, we know about rice and peas (or peas and rice), plaintain and the beauty and marvel of mango season.

We know about the emigration of our nationals from our homelands in the 60s and onwards. If this is not your story, maybe it’s the story of your brother, your aunt, your parents. Regardless, it’s a story you know far too well.

And you likely know that when we’re abroad, we see our cultural similarities a whole lot more than we did before, recognizing our mutual understanding on many fronts.

 

Carnival can spark a lot of discourse in the West Indian community about shadeism, classism, and it’s accessibility to those by whom and for whom it was made for. All of which are important conversations to be had to preserve the carnival experience. Let’s not forget that Carnival in its current form was meant to addressinaccessibility”.

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Carnival was created after our black ancestors were basically shunned from the festivities of the Europeans.

Carnival to our ancestors was an outlet – a means to embrace themselves and their own culture, in a free and open setting, after being uninvited to and unwelcome at the pre-lenten parties and galas of the colonizers.

Eventually it was our Carnival that prevailed, that spoke to the masses and was supported by the people.

That freedom that Carnival represented then is still palpable “on di road” whether abroad, or back home. You feel it as the music pulses through your veins, as you smell the food from the nearby stalls and street vendors, as you see the smiles of the faces of the revelers. As you say hello, and “get on bad” with people you may otherwise never have met.

It could be the Freedom to belt out in the most unfiltered version of your accent and dialect, in the middle of the street downtown Toronto when the day before the representative at Subway corrected you when you said you wanted “coo-coom-bers” on your sandwich (since when is it queue-cum-bers?).

Or it could be the freedom to defy and ignore standards of beauty and size promulgated by the media.

Or it could be that moment that you share with yourself dancing on di road, where you temporarily forget the problems that plagued your thoughts yesterday.

 

So what does Carnival really represent?

In my mind it epitomizes Freedom.

But also Pride.

Culture.

And Unity.

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5 Outfits to be Fierce, Comfortable, and Professional in the Office

Guest Post by Saneliso Moyo*

As a lover of fashion waking up every morning and figuring out what to wear is often the best and worst part of my day. How do I maintain a professional appearance while channelling my inner-Solange Knowles? Are matching sets workplace appropriate? What suit says “please hire me” but won’t make me sweat bullets when it’s 31 degrees outside?

How do I maintain a professional appearance while channelling my inner-Solange Knowles?

Beyond the superficial concerns about sweat and honoring my fashion idols, some very real anxieties about being a young, black woman in a very white and very male profession inform some of my decisions about what to wear each day. I always want to stay true to myself and my personal sense of style. However, I am also painfully aware of how my style choices can impact the way I am perceived by my colleagues, clients and prospective employers. But unpacking all of the ways my gender, race, class (or perceived class) and fashion choices work together to inform other people’s perceptions of me is perhaps a deeper discussion better left for a different day (or post)!

Being a self-proclaimed fashion girl and a new lawyer presents many a fashion related dilemmas. However, I do my best to find balance between being comfortable, fierce and professional whether it’s a day in the office, or a day in court. Check out the outfits below for a run-down of some of my favourite fashion-girl pieces, that can transform into office appropriate piece too!

  1. White Sneakers

Full disclosure, my office is probably among the more casual law offices out there. While jeans aren’t necessarily the norm, I can get away with a nice pair of sneakers paired with some fancy pants and a classic button up.

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How to pair white sneakers for work
  1. The Solange Suit

Suits don’t have to be boring! A bright suit colour may not always be courtroom or client-meeting friendly in all settings. However, it can be the perfect pop of excitement to break up the black, grey and navy suit rut we so often run into.

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Ditch the black and grey suit! Be bold!
  1. Bold Prints

Bold colours and bold prints are my favourite ways to make a statement in an otherwise ordinary piece. Try a conservative silhouette in a bold print paired with a classic shoe to mix things up a bit!

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  1. Jumpsuits

By far, my favourite article of clothing in this world is a jumpsuit/romper. I love them for everyday wear, special occasions AND work! For the summer months, try a  sleeveless jumpsuit with wide legs and some nude pumps or pointed toe flats.

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Jumpsuits for the office
  1. Chambray Button Up 2.0

A chambray top is a great piece for your work or casual wardrobe. A chambray top with beads (or any other unique detail) is even better! Pair it with slacks, or some white jeans (on casual Fridays) and a statement pump (think red or an animal print) for a fresh look.

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Chambray, chambray, chambray!

These are just a few outfits that let me live out my fashion girl dreams while pursuing my lawyer girl goals! I hope they inspire you to channel your inner [insert your fashion icon here] when you wake up for work tomorrow! 

 

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Photo: Martin Ejidra

*Saneliso is a lawyer by day, stylist by night. Known amongst her peers and friends as the most fashionable lawyer in the game, she never fails to impress. Saneliso is launching her own professional fashion blog soon – stay tuned for details! Follow Saneliso and her sartorial feats on Instagram: @saneliso_