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Sylvanus Urban - The Balance Issue

Sylvanus Urban 

Volume 6 The Balance Issue

Tipping Point

WHEN IT COMES TO SPIRITS ARE THE ANSWERS IN THE STARS

Author: Christine Sismondo

As a Libra, I always thought balance would come naturally to me.

At least that’s what I thought when I was a kid and still believed in astrology. As I grew older, it became increasingly clear that I had no natural balance—not in ballet, not in gymnastics, not in my approach to pretty much anything. I was an all-or-nothing sort of person, who procrastinated all my homework, then had to stay up all night catching up. And when it came to my social life, I was proud to always be the last one standing, no matter how off-balance I might have been at that point. So much for star signs.

Since cocktailing is so often mixed up with socializing, networking and just plain human bonding, drinking to excess can be a tough habit to get under control. As we get older, though, it’s impossible to remain in denial about our decreasing ability to handle the epic quantities of alcohol we used to toss back. In response, many people in my circle have quit entirely but, given that I write about booze for a living, that’s not really an option for me. Even if I did get a new job, what would I drink with steak?

Sometimes, though, drinking moderately seems harder than not drinking at all, since negotiating what to do after that second drink is tricky. Turns out, that’s not just about being a flawed Libra—it’s part of the neurological effect of alcohol.

“The first thing alcohol does is that it downregulates your internal inhibitory systems,” explains Nick Kennedy, a Toronto bar owner with a strong interest in neuroscience. (‘Downregulation’

means a reduced number of receptors that slow down signals to the brain that tell us to stop doing something.) “That’s why you feel better, and more relaxed, because you’re no longer regulating your behavior with anxiety and stress.”

Kennedy continues: “Long before you get to the point where you lose your deeper inhibitory control—that point where you might call your ex on a Friday night—we start losing our superficial inhibitions. So the hardest part about reducing your drinking is that, when you start drinking, the first thing you shut off is the thing that would give you the skill-set to say I want to slow down.”

According to capital-S Science, then, it sounds like moderation just might be physically impossible. In some ways, this isn’t really news, though, is it? Most anyone who loves to catch up over a drink or three knows that, after a point, it’s a slippery slope. Personally, I’ve tried a number of approaches to mitigate this problem, including adopting low-alcohol, bone-dry, fino sherry as my drink of choice and designating certain days of the week as no-alcohol days. Instead of Meatless Mondays, try Scotch-less Sundays. One day per week, after all, is 52 days a year without drinking— more alcohol-free days than you’d get from a Dry July. Or you could do both. A friend of mine had a family doctor who advised abstaining for one day a week, one week each month and one month every year—a pretty attainable goal that would give your liver roughly 144 days off per year. (Depending on the month you choose. Also, hot tip: Always pick February, since it usually only has 28 days.)

So what can we do about the other 221 days a year? ‘Cause that would still be a lot of hangovers. I asked Kennedy if there was any way to hack my brain chemistry, to wake up my inhibitions for a few quick minutes—just long enough to get me to say no to that potentially fatal third cocktail. Kennedy has no “advice,” per se, since he isn’t a doctor and doesn’t want to get sued, but he did share his personal strategy with me.

“I'll start with an Old Fashioned, because that gets me to the Goldilocks zone, which is exactly where I want to be,” he says, “And then instead of having a second drink, I ride out that zone for a half-hour with a glass of water or a placebo cocktail. (A placebo is a non-alcoholic cocktail.) Then, if I’m having a good time, I might hit it again with something lower in alcohol, like sherry, which helps me push the length of that time that I’m in that zone.”

His goal, he tells me, is to “lengthen the best parts of the buzz,” which he reminds himself of before he even sits down at the bar. In time, ordering drinks that way might become a habit.

Leave it to an Aries (creative, curious and ready to tackle new challenges) to figure out a solution to this age-old problem. Maybe there’s something to those star signs after all.

Cabin Fever

IF TORONTO'S HOUSING MARKET IS MAKING YOU SICK, YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

Author: Erin Davis

Priced-out urbanites are packing up their laptops and taking their gluten-free everything bagels to-go. The latest trend in Toronto’s real estate market? Leaving Toronto.

Research has shown that urban living can mess with your mental health; one Dutch study found that city dwellers were 21 percent more likely to experience an anxiety disorder, and have a 39 percent greater risk of developing a mood disorder. Connecting with nature is scientifically proven to mitigate the undesirable effects of city living by reducing stress levels, promoting better sleep, boosting creativity, and increasing the number of miles between you and Gary from accounting.

At a time when owning a home means joining the selfproclaimed “house-poor” (a term used to describe when payments for your home eat up the majority of your income) set, dropping your hard-earned dollars on a cottage can also make a lot of financial sense. “It’s becoming increasingly popular for many to opt-out of buying in the low inventory and competitive Toronto real estate market and instead turning their focus to cottage country,” said Joshua Chisvin of Chisvin Group Real Estate, who noticed a spike in this trend in 2017, when the market peaked beyond affordability for many who lacked trust funds or had already robbed the bank of mom and dad. “Buyers were looking for alternative ways to enter the market,” he says. The trend, says Chisvin, became popular as an alternative to Toronto's anxiety-inducing real estate prices, but also as a way of achieving the long term goal of a vacation home.

Marketing professor and restaurateur Daryl D’Souza won’t ever own in Toronto again – he has no desire to. “My former $700,000 Toronto condo cost me $700-plus in maintenance fees; for slightly more than that, I can pay a mortgage on a $350,000 modest, peaceful lakefront cabin,” he says of his escape. “I’m happy to rent in the city stress-free. I could actually flip the script and use the cottage as a home base and come to Toronto on the days I have meetings or am teaching.” Entrepreneur Micah Munroe decided to relocate his family to

their cottage after a year. “We initially decided to try it for a month and check out the schools before making a decision,” he says – and he has no regrets.

For public relations professional Erin Chard, investing in a cottage was a no-brainer for she and her partner. “We both have chaotic schedules in the city, so having a quiet place to escape on weekends was something we agreed we would enjoy,” said Chard. “We love hosting family and friends and having everyone together. The realities of condo living are that hosting large groups is not an option. With the cottage, we love having the space to entertain our friends and family; from cooking amazing Saturday night meals to barbecuing, dance parties and more.”

Aside from a more space to entertain – and to decorate – Chard says the cottage brings “an immediate sense of relaxation and zen” that you can’t get anywhere else. “When you're at a cottage, you're drawn to being outdoors more often than not, regardless of the season; while we love the sunny hot summer days on the lake, there is something magical about the bright winter whites of cottage country,” she says. For Ian Brown, a busy Toronto-based photographer, his main source of inspiration in purchasing his Algonquin Highlands cottage was his eightyear-old daughter. “In an age when everyone seems pretty anxious and stressed out in their digital lives, I feel it’s really important to ensure that there is opportunity for ‘analogue’ experiences; real-life conversations, spending time immersed in the outdoors and respecting the idea of time and stillness,” he says.

Home-sharing sites like Airbnb make carrying a cottage more affordable than they may have been back in the pre-sharing economy days. “Generally, cottages are not rented on an annual basis but are rented monthly or weekly. This leaves a window to rent out the cottage for the majority of the season but still save a weekend, week or month for yourself, depending on financial obligations and goals,” says Chisvin. “A good rule of thumb is your rental of May through September will cover the majority of your mortgage costs, assuming you put 20 percent down.” Another option is going in on the property with a group of friends or another couple – just make sure you all get along first.

Marketing professional Michael Wilson went 50/50 with a friend in the purchase of his cottage. He uses Airbnb to carry it – something that was the plan from the beginning. “We would never have been able to afford the property if we didn’t Airbnb it all the time,” said Wilson. He says it’s not without its challenges to run remotely – like the time the septic backed up when there were guests there or another time when a rowdy group “trashed the place” (he now screens heavily and requires a $1000 deposit). The key, he says, was finding a reliable local couple that runs a cottage cleaning and maintenance business.

Of course it’s not all star-filled skies and roasted marshmallows. Like any big purchase, doing your due diligence is nothing to casually brush off. “A lot more goes into a cottage transaction than your average house or condo in Toronto and if you’re not aware of what you're getting into, it can be extremely costly,” says Chisvin. “Everything is on the table: environmental issues of soil and water, waterfront protection, septic systems, well systems and more. A cottage can also often come with multiple structures like sheds or a boathouse and not only do these bring another long list of things to check on but can affect your financing.” He stresses not taking things like cell and Internet service for granted – something many overlook. There will be surprises (you’ve been warned). “The maintenance on a waterfront property never really ends,” said Wilson. “Learning about water pumps, septic systems, water filters and managing weeds in the water were all new to us.”

For many – including Wilson – however, the occasional headaches are all worth it. A cottage not only offers a change of pace and scenery, but more space to express yourself through decorating and design, a place to unite friends and family and an investment that will likely become more meaningful than a generic micro condo ever could. Time to wave goodbye to your concierge and grab a Muskoka chair, these properties boast amenities that no downtown developer can compete with: an option to buy.

Cold Play

THESE SNOW-STOPPING SPIRITS WILL TAKE THE EDGE OFF EVEN THE COLDEST DAY.

Sunny Side Up

BETTER WEATHER ISN’T THE ONLY REASON YOU SHOULD SKIP SAN FRAN AND HEAD TO OAKLAND

Oakland is a vibrant city that, for generations, has fostered its own distinct tastes, sounds and culture, weaving an ongoing legacy of influence felt throughout the country. And unlike the notoriously chilly climes of SF, it’s also somewhere where sunshine reigns supreme:. Meaning you can fly into OAK

International Airport sans-delay and head straight to al-fresco dining (no shade SFO, no shade). A bastion of resilience, the city’s communities continue to face the tragic consequences of economic and racial injustice, giving rise to social justice movements that shape culture and conversations to this day. In this city that’s undergoing such rapid change from forces like gentrification, it’s important to be intentional and respectful about what and where you consume. Take your time here as an opportunity to show support to local businesses artisans and community staples. Don’t forget to tell a friend and enjoy the warmth.

01 Eat

Walking into Miss Ollies is like being welcomed into a comfortable, stylishly-appointed living room: the colorful and lively ambiance wraps around you like a hug from grandma. And the food is grandmalevel good - likely no coincidence since Chef/owner Sarah Kirnon drew inspiration (including the name) straight from her own. Miss Ollie’s Afro-Caribbean cuisine is billed as comfort food, with an exciting, often unexpected and wholly addictive twist. When ordering, we recommend abiding by that “betchya can’t eat just one” rule: get as many dishes as you can fit onto the table. Miss Ollies is the type of place where apps and sides can easily form your entire meal - like the succulent plantains in garlic oil and the jerk shrimp served atop a bed of cabbage and almond salad. But definitely leave room for some entrees like the slow-cooked island-syle pork. And you don’t want to miss the skillet-fried chicken, which vies for a top spot among Oaklands highly competitive - and contentious - fried chicken offerings. Bottom line: eat everything, and come back frequently for more.

Who doesn’t love a rooftop patio? Although the sun never seems to stop shining in Oakland, these places are few and far between - which is one of the things that makes Oeste stand out. Owned by three women of color with deep roots in Oakland, Oeste is another delicious addition to the trendy Old Oakland neighborhood. Head upstairs to the rooftop garden oasis, where you can find your rainforest zen next to the green wall as you peruse the Latin and Southern fusion menu. Or sip on a Mezcal Diablo at their street level bar that, with its exposed brick archways, gives that old-world-wine-cellar vibe. If it’s too early the day for booze (but really, who’s counting), the cafe next door will give you that midday caffeine injection.

Part cocktail bar. Part curiosity cabinet. All around amazing. Cafe Van Kleef's quirky atmosphere can be partially attributed to the crowd it attracts and partially to the floor to ceiling kitsch, crammed so tight it would make even the most seasoned hoarder blush. The space does a magical job of bluring the line between dive bar and art project. The drink to order here? A Greyhound, which is really just a fancy term for harnessing the undeniable power of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and vodka. We’re talking one entire half of grapefruit per drink, squeezed before your eyes - none of that “from concentrate” BS. With the amount of grapefruit's they go through

02 Explore

You’d be hard pressed to deny Oakland’s incredible visual art scene. With 600 murals, whether you’re looking for art or not, you’re gonna see it.

Sometimes no company is the best company, especially if your spirit animal is Morticia. And although it does admittedly skew towards the macabre, Mountain View Cemetery is more than just a bunch of dead people, it’s one of Oakland’s most popular parks. With 200 acres of cardiac arresting views, stunning monuments and an immaculate lawn I'm willing to bet my life you won't find a better urban sanctuary. It's also a whole hell of a lot less spooky than the cost of anything in San Fran.

From Showgirls to the presidential debates, there is no better seat to catch all the action then the comfy couches at the New Parkway Theater - a community-focused, culture-filled cinema. (Yes, Showgirls is a part of culture and yes that is Jesse from Saved by the Bell). They also offer a full food menu, and in the spirit of keeping things local, feature wine and beers from a 200-mile radius.

A vintage store, a barbershop and a gallery walk into an alleyway. JK. Whether you’re just window shopping, or completely ready to lie to the border about your bag full of succulents, the quaint shops of that line the pedestrian walkways Temescal Alley are worth a visit. Although not exclusively vegan, Curbside Creamery’s cashew-based soft-serve is absolutely decadent, proving that it’s not always just tofu and water. Been looking for a satchel of dried elderflowers? Then Homestead Apothocary will not disappoint. And if you need some green in your life, Crimson Horticultural Rarities is like walking into a mini rainforest filled with rare varietals in tastefully fancy pots.

03 Stay

Despite being increasingly recognized as a desirable travel destination, Oakland’s hotel selection leaves a lot to be desired in terms of options. There is a diverse selection of eclectic short-term rentals on Airbnb, but if you’re best friend has already rented out the room in her converted Ice Cream factory loft then the newly renovated guest rooms at the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa is a plush place to lay your head. While technically the address is in Berkley, this historic landmark

boasts tennis courts, heated lap pools and a ghost (maybe!). The ultimate amenity is the sweeping views. If you accidentally (or on purpose, no judgement) packed sensible shoes and very, very, very steep climb is something you enjoy, the hotel is located at the base of the Stonewall-Panoramic trail. For others the sunset is best observed with a spicy margarita in the hotel’s on-site dining Limewood. If you’re done being fancy, head down the hill to Missouri Lounge for a dive bar at it’s finest. A fiver will get you “The Special” a PBR and shot of whiskey or “El Special,” a tequila and a Tecate- probably named for how you feel after indulging few too many of the beer-and-shot combo. It’s hard not to get stuck on the dancefloor, literally and figuratively, with DJ’s spinning everything from hip-hop to honky tonk. If you haven’t completely spilled your drinks just yet, bust through the crowd and head to one of the rustic picnic tables peppered throughout the patio. Smoke fills the air, an intoxicating combination of cigarettes and a grill offering up drool inducing Impossible Burgers.

Scene Stealer

SHOW, SHOW, SHOW YOUR BOAT

Author: Matthew Wong

Color has never been for me.

Even when it came back into the fold, I had an undying loyalty to wear strictly black, and sometimes when I felt cheerful, dark navy.

Technically black isn't even color (thanks, #grade7physics). Black objects absorb all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflect none of them to the eyes. What it does reflect is a message about the wearer. Sartorially speaking, an all-black outfit communicates elegance and luxury. And no, I'm not attending a funeral, thanks for asking.

Deploying an all-black outfit can also be seen as armour - both real and psychological. According to colour psychologists the dark hue "creates a barrier between itself and the outside world, keeping people away while providing comfort, protecting emotions, and hiding vulnerabilities, insecurities, and a lack of self-confidence. It functions as a shield for those who need it."

It's not just emotional. Black also repels red wine stains, carefully conceals the extra sandwich you had yesterday and lets you casually backflip into mud.

In more recent times, fashion has become bigger, brighter, and more adventurous. A quick scroll through street style photos reveals a brilliant display of cheetah print shirts (pants, shoes, cross-bodies...) and bright fleece jackets. Wearing an eccentric outfit has become the new indicator of style clout.

For me, clothing has always felt more like a security blanket than a knight's chain links. When you're highly introverted, lurking around like a ninja in public is the preferred palette. Just try to blend into the background wearing flower embroidered denim and tell me how that works out for you. The godfather Yohji Yamamoto said it best. "Wearing black says this: I don't bother you, you don't bother me."

For years my clothes communicated to the general public that I didn't want to bask in the spotlight. When I felt it was time for everyone to take notice again, I felt too timid about expressing it with clothing. What once felt like a warm comforter now felt more like being smothered with passiveness. Putting on another shade of black began to represent my unwillingness to try new things. I felt stuck. I was wearing my complacency on my sleeve.

Style is storytelling without having to utter any words. It's why so many enthusiasts are willing to roll the dice and take the risk of looking like Pennywise the clown. The right combination of colors, proportions, and silhouettes can unlock an outfit that differentiates you from the crowd. By leaning too heavily on only a few shades of color, my story was told through the lens of an old black and white camera. My fellow fashionistas were using IMAX to capture theirs.

Slowly I began to incorporate color into my OOTD's. Even during the Winter season when most fade to black, I went for it. A bright yellow hoodie has become my everyday sweatshirt. A burnt orange mock neck sweater has become my winter staple.

Incorporating color has changed my overall outlook. It showed me that even for life's smaller decisions, you have to go for it.

After all, you can still say nothing in bright colours.You'll just be heard.

Soul Food

SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE PACE.

Author: Coleman Molnar

Are you a traveler?

So where have you been lately? How many stamps are in your passport? How about your Instagram feed? Did you get that shot in Bali? You know the one.

Travel sometimes feels like a race, and I’ve never been very good at races. Still, I run.

There’s no denying that fastpaced travel is exciting. After the 18-hour flight and before jet lag sets in, when you’re floating through an international airport, your 15-pound carry-on weightless on your shoulder, and onto a train and into a foreign city in search of some dumplings you read on the internet are delicious and found right next to a park with a beautiful temple that supposedly gets great light in the afternoons. All during a ninehour layover. The marathon of the travel world with a rush to rival that of the actual endurance race.

But nobody runs a marathon every day. Well, some do, and they will rule the planet one day, but they are the outliers. And besides, they’re ruining my metaphor, so fuck those guys!

Yes, it is tempting to do and see as much as your body will allow. FOMO is real, especially when your hotel is only a couple kilometers from that temple, that beach, that bar. But we are not machines. We are powered and directed by organic matter and biological processes, not batteries and algorithms. Your social media apps may not need to rest, but you do. At least I do.

My point is that traveling at full speed is a short-term strategy to be employed only in situations where the other option isn’t available.

That other option? Slow down. Take a breather to ice your ankles and, rather than just cramming the dumplings in your face and sprinting for the airport express, spend more time at the checkpoints and go deeper than the dumplings. Chew what’s in your mouth first, please.

The term ‘slow travel,’ which has been creeping steadily to the forefront of the travelers’ vernacular over the last few years, is pretty self explanatory. It’s based around the belief that

one will always get more out of a new location after spending some significant time there to get to know and appreciate the people, the food, the geography, the language, the architecture, the music, in a word, the culture.

The trend comes at its own considered pace on the heels of the ‘slow food’ movement that began in the late ‘80s when some Italians got upset about a McDonalds in Rome and started a movement that would remind the world that meals were events meant to be celebrated, not crushed like a podcast on your morning commute.

The dumpling crammer from my earlier example, for the record, was me. My partner in life and business and I recently gave the keys to (and financial burden of) our apartment in Canada to some stranger and booked one-way flights to Southeast Asia. Our itinerary had us in Taipei for only a few hours, but having ‘slept’ on the plane, we figured we’d go for it and head into the city for some sightseeing and exploring. The dumpling restaurant was closed, so we had steamed pork buns from 7-Eleven instead, which changed our lives; the temple was awe-inspiring and yielded plenty of Instagram fodder; and the whole thing expedition was exhausting.

The experience left us wanting more from Taipei. “We’ll come back and stay longer,” we told each other. But will we?

When we arrived in Bangkok we crashed hard in a budget-crippling airport hotel before completing our journey to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand the next day, telling the capital city we’d come back for it as we watched it fade in the distance from our seats on our third flight in 72 hours.

We had three weeks in Chiang Mai before we’d planned to go further north to a mountain community we’d been told we must see. The first few days were a blur of fatigue and excitement. We worked on our laptops in the mornings, toured temples during our lunch breaks, ate dinner at night markets and generally moved about with our mouths agape, culture shocked in the best possible way. We Instagrammed – a lot – but there was no rush to digitally collect all the local landmarks like pokemon. Time was on our side.

And rather than fade, our experience in the Northern city became richer as time passed. We made friends with locals and other travelers, meeting up to eat, drink, explore and even co-work together multiple times. We visited with my uncle and aunt from Japan who happened to be vacationing in the area. We slowly but surely branched out from our culinary comfort zone of fried rice and pad thai to discover local specialties like their buttery khao soi curry, or the national classic som tum, a sweet, spicy and savoury green papaya salad. We walked forever and happened upon neighbourhoods that showed entirely different sides of the city.

And just as before, when the three weeks were up, we found ourselves reluctant to leave, placating each other by saying “We’ll come back, right?”.

Turns out we will return to Bangkok, at least. One of the friends we made in Chiang Mai and another from Canada are meeting us there for Songkran, the new year’s celebration that whips the entire country into a days-long water fight frenzy. After that the plan is to head to Vietnam and find ourselves a more ‘long-term’ accommodation, probably for five weeks or so, in the coastal city of Da Nang. It comes highly reviewed from everyone who’s been, and seems like the perfect place to slow it down even further.

My advice to you, if you’re open to it, is to take a highlighter to your next trip’s itinerary and identify which sights, events, people, restaurants, are calling the loudest. Then take a black Sharpie and strike it through the rest. Because in our experience, slowing down is the quickest way to find that travel Nirvana.

So, are we travelers? Well, our passports actually don’t have that many stamps. They could have more. But we do love to visit new places and stay for as long as we’re able. Does that count?

Balanced Diet

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Stacking Gold

PILE THESE TREASURES HIGH

Styling: Jason Charles Hatton
Photography: Johnny Tang

Shapeshifters

FURNITURE YOU’LL WANT TO PUT ON A PEDESTAL

Author: Christian Dare + Sarah Wright

Great design is rooted in balance. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g has a visual weight to it. Now look at you. You seem like someone who has enjoyed a tee-totter more than once in their lifetime. Figuratively, visual equilibrium can be easily illustrated by your experience on this childhood playground ritual. Literally, rather than you and Sally taking up opposite ends of this precariously perched plank, these elements are colours, forms, lines and shapes. And as you and red triangle, I mean Sally know, it’s a delicate dance to create balance when elements hold a different weight. That being said, we’ve all been a little unstable at times. And from the chaos, often comes inspiration. At first glance some of these pieces look like they might have screw loose, but the delicate equilbrium between materials, movement and function creates furniture that defies gravity and convention.

1 UPLIFTING ILLUSION

If you are just so, so, so bored of tables supported by legs, then the UP table is the alternative your living room has been looking for. Brought to you by the imaginations of Christopher Duffy and Dario Costa, this whimsical piece is constructed using toughened glass, toughened steel rods and metal resin composite (also, tough). The fact that the balloons appear to be weightlessly suspending a circular glass-surface is either true balance of forces or just complete wizardry. 1duffylondon.com

2 CAUGHT IN THE ACT

The Walking Cabinet by Markus Johansson Design doesn’t just stand out, it gets up and runs. The trompe d’oeil created by the piece's angled legs gives the illusion the cabinet is frozen mid-escape. Striking the right balance between motion and stillness makes it feel like this cabinet has a life of its own. As if when you turn the lights back on in the morning it might appear in another room. markusjohansson.com

3 SILENCE OF THE DAMNS

There is no better way to balance an unsettled mind than silence. This is especially true of those who are rocking out at an open-concept office. That’s why Framery is committed to increasing happiness in office spaces with their highend acoustics pods, perfect for taking calls discreetly or screaming profanities at the top of your lungs when you accidentally hit Reply All. frameryacoustics.com

4 EASY RIDER

Call me old fashioned but I actually like to sit on my chair. And while there is no shortage of attractive seating arrangements, the thought of curling up in front of a fire with a good book in a resin armchair just doesn’t sit well. The Paradise Chair, created by Canadian design practice Objects & Ideas, is proof that comfort doesn't need to take a back seat to aesthetic. With plump cushions (to hug your curvy parts) and minimalist lines, this chair could seamlessly integrate amongst even your most ornate furniture. objectsandideas.com

5 FELINE FURNISHINGS

Designed with the modern cat owner in mind, The Soma Shelf by Olivia Sementsova, decided to take a scratch at furniture that even the most finicky critics would lap up. This clever storage unit is not just arranged to host human objects but functions as cat playground as well. With it’s high-end hidden cubbies, cleverly concealed litterbox and poly core scratching pad (optional), cat enthusiasts can harmoniously co-live with their pets and an aesthetic. cofodesign.com

6 SHINING EXAMPLE

For those of us who work from home, there is no more precious real estate than our desk (other than the actual real estate that houses it). Leave it to Dyson to create a uber-adaptable and ultra-modern (may we coin the term construction crane- chic?) task lamp which boasts better instincts than the average human. It receives real time data tracking the position of the sun and automatically adjusts light levels accordingly. The light also comes equipped with a number of presets based on age (old) and activity (procrastinating). Why even go outside? Thanks to a series of counterweights, the light forever stays in balance even as you playfully whip the arm back and forth. You can even flip it and reverse it. The only thing this revolutionary task lamp can’t balance is your financial statement, but knowing Dyson's future-thinking mindset, we wouldn't be surprised if that feature appears with the next app update. dysoncanada.ca

A Quick And Dirty Guide To Spirits

WHEN YOU KNOW JUST ENOUGH TO KNOW YOU DON’T

Author: Colin Munch

Let’s face it. Spirits can be intimidating. It’s easy enough to choose a liquor to settle on when you’re drinking alone, but when it comes to hanging out with spirited aficionados (you

know, the ones that order off list and wax poetic about Pappy van Winkle’s) a little knowledge can go a long way. So to save yourself some head-scratching next time you're at a restaurant, house party or liquor store with this handy cheat sheet for booze.

Note: when trying a new drink for the first time, you should drink it neat first--no ice or water or diet coke or anything. 1

Whisky

What is it and how is it made?

Distilled from a mash of different grains, which are sometimes malted for flavour, and aged in oak barrels.

What does it taste like?

Whisky tends to have a smoky and woody taste, a clean palette, and a complex finish.

Bourbon

Bourbon is to America as whisky is to Scotland. They are essentially the same spirit, but bourbon must be made in the USA and the mash must contain at least 51% corn.

Bourbon has a similar flavour profile to whisky, though it tends to be sweeter. Many bourbons have at least a hint of vanilla or caramel flavour with a bit of spice.

Rye

In the US, rye must be made with at least 51% rye grain in the mash. Canadian rye, however, is only called "rye whisky" for historical purposes and doesn't have to have any rye in the mash at all.

American rye tends to spicier than bourbon and some can be quite harsh and intense.

Tequila

Tequila is made with the juices of the pit, or piña, of the blue agave plant and distilled at least twice.

Tequila has a diverse flavour profile depending on where the agave was grown. Reposado is tequila that has been aged like whisky in oak barrels.

Rum

Rum is fermented and distilled molasses aged in oak barrels

A rich, dark rum is warm and sweet, with notes of chocolate and fruit flavours

However, next time some Djarum-smoking, cardigan-wearing whisky purist tries to tell you it's never okay to mix Scotch, tell him this: The The Master Balance Distiller of Glenmorangie, Issue the only person to win Distiller of  the Year at the International Spirits Challenge twice, told us he loves Canadians because Canada Dry is the best ginger ale to mix with Scotch.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM A COSTA RICAN RETREAT

Author: Charmaine Noronha
“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” -- Joana Kingsford

That quote was attached to a tiny succulent that sits on my desk. After going through a stressful experience recently, almost an hour had passed without me realizing that instead of tapping out words on my laptop, I was tapping out mentally, fixated on that quote.

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”

After enduring a concussion that rendered me unable to work for a year and a half, I thankfully found myself in an amazing job at an amazing company. After months on end of sitting in a dark room sans any stimuli as per concussion recovery (read: no reading, no looking at screens or engaging in much that might be too overwhelming for an inflamed brain), I had assumed my noggin would once again be rearing to go full force. The excitement of landing a senior editor job at a well-known online outlet was a real moment of hope, pride and joy. I’m not brain dead! Hallejua! What I didn’t realize was that after a significant concussion, your brain needs to slowly reintegrate into work and life. But slow starts aren’t really what most employers rightfully are about. And so I trudged on, through the migraines, through the brain fog, and through the overwhelm.

I had spent a decade reporting for The Associated Press and prior to that, almost five years as an editor-in-chief of a national magazine. Surely I’d rise to the occasion of this new role. And while my spirit to excel was ascending, my brain wasn’t. As

someone who had never not excelled in the roles I took on, my inability to soar right out the gate was tough. Oh yellow, ole frenemy, zee ego!

So, I put as much as I could into trying to fully grasp the new software and programs, word play, organizational structure. All the things. And in the month leading up to my succulent stare-down, I’d been working weekends, not entirely to play catch-up but also to cover events I was keenly interested in. But I found myself at the end of that month, tapping out in general, not able to hammer out the stories I normally love tackling.

And so that quote spoke to me. “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”

And, in a serendipitous moment, while staring at those words, a friend invited me to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. Having also sustained a significant concussion a few years ago, this friend said her trip to the same retreat three years ago was the catalyst that jump-started her life and brain back on track. The timing was perfect. A break of all sorts was calling out. And this retreat was called Reset. All signs were leading to Costa Rica.

After some harried booking of multiple flights, I left, uh two days later. Spontaneous much? And, a long two days of travel, I found myself in a remote area of the Pavones jungle, cocooned by a gentle ocean, swaying palms and the warmth of a blissful sun my sun-deprived self had been craving. Nature is my sanctuary. My solace.

Our mornings would start with delightfully healthy, robusts breakfasts of eggs, fresh papaya and mangoes (already winning) and freshly brewed CR coffee. Followed by a 30 min beach-side walk to the open-air yoga studio where I would set my intention for both my practice and my day. Our 90 minute class, led by retreat leaders Catie Fenn or Samara Zelniker, would end with a workshop exploring areas of our lives we wanted to work on and the parts of ourselves we were ready to let go of or build upon -- an exploration of our inner selves that we don’t generally undertake during the busyness of day-to-day life sometimes.

After our yoga and workshop sessions, there would be more delectably healthy eats, journal or reading time, closing with a sunset meditation.

It was an opportunity to slow way the hell down and savour those moments in life when life seems to standstill. When you can taste the ocean, relish in the sun on your skin and just be. No deadlines. No expectations. No frenzy. No tech disruptions. Just you. Once again in awe of the beauty of the world, others and most importantly, yourself.

The last two years have been the toughest of my life. But they have also led me to understand the truth of life: there will always be dark; there will always be light. The ying/yang. And it is up to you to harness and create balance between both. To allow the dark to teach you. And to allow the light to wash over you. And that sometimes, you might have to seek out a beach in the remotest of areas to help facilitate that balancing act between the constant rising and falling of yourself.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, balance is in the hands of the creator. And that creator is you. With or without a mojito in hand watching the sun head to sleep beyond the ocean tides.

Face Off

VICTORINOX'S ICONIC DESIGNS SETTLE THE TIMELESS DEBATE OF FASHION VS. FUNCTION.

Zero Gravity

FLOATATION THERAPY

Fancy Plants

GET YOUR GREEN ON.

If you haven’t heard of biophillic design, then you’ve probably been living under a rock (and ironically in no need of this article). This growing design concept encourages incorporating nature into our built environment as a means to foster happiness, increase productivity and reconnect people with nature. From minor installation to complete custom build, this list will help you become the architect of your own life.

MOSS DEFT

Stucco is so last season. Breathe new life into an outdated space with botanical art. One of the best features of a living wall is its flexibility in scale. A small feature can have a big impact, or be king of your jungle with a floor to ceiling installment. bynaturedesign.ca

Herb Appeal

As the old adage goes, go big or go home. So why not create a custom house with its environment at its foundation. BLDG Workshop pride themselves on Organic Architecture, a philosophy which promotes harmony between structures and the landscape from which it springs.. When nature is this beautiful, you let it in the front door. .bldgworkshop.ca

A Life Aquatic

Keep your plants fed and watered in style with a brass watering can that proves practical objects can be pretty too. It’s striking silhouette and shiny (yay!) exterior mean you can leave it out as an objet d’art, so you’re less likely to forget to water your new leafy friends. kikkerland.com

Shameless Self-Promotion

Having plants in your house tells the world you’re all grown up and totally paying your rent on time. So we’re particularly fired-up about these handcrafted, limitededition ceramic plant pots. A collaboration between yours truly and local artist Annika Hoefs will easily transform your space into an urban oasis and elicit unlimited high-fives from guests. sylvanus-urban.com

Late Bloomer

The right indoor lighting can help your plants flourish. The right indoor lighting can help humans flourish. This pill-shaped blown glass lamp is just what the doctor ordered for uninspiring interiors. The system allows light to be set at different temperatures – diffusing either red, white or blue tones to create a pleasant ambience, but also help plants perform photosynthesis. artemide.com

SYLVANUS URBAN MEDIA INC.

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