Empire Espresso_ The title says it all!
You wanna feel at the top of a cliff with the smell of fresh coffee?
You wanna feel elevated with a shot of espresso?
You wanna make it through the day effortlessly?
You wanna shake off the stress from a busy day?
There you can get it all!
I’m telling you, I was over-enthusiastic when I saw this new coffee gem in my neighborhood. There is just something about it. It’s like an extent to your own living room, your own creative space, your comfort zone to just be & enjoy a coffee with or without company. The happy interior, gives you a shot of positivism even if sometimes you lose it through the day. The furniture, are build in & placed in a rounded setting which invites everyone to fit in. The small tables for two, right on the hallway, gives you time for a quick coffee with a friend to share news in a faster mode.
The owners, cause they are few of them, are simply amazing. Sarah bakes everyday delights that you can’t deny, even if you were not planning to (vegan & gluten free options). The rest of the guys are awesome as well. Everyone is full of joy in their working environment. They love it & they love serving us, so they give their best efforts. They even make designs on a foamy finish. If you see yourself coming back for more, get their loyal cards. They’ll return the love with a beverage on the house. If you totally love-love their coffee, you can even buy & take it home. Who doesn’t want to have a coffee experience like that?
Now that summer is here, their cold brews are refreshing to the bone. You can sit outside, relax & feel the sun bathing you from head to toe. You can sit & document the people passing by for hours. Right beside them is ‘June Records’, a store with unique music sources, but the best of it is that they share their music tunes with the people even outside their store. So that’s one of the best features that Empire Espresso offers you, gourmet coffee, sexy bites & quality tunes. Try & find a better combination downtown & let me know. I think you’ll be disappointed, because there’s nothing like Empire Espresso.
Special thanks to the family of Empire Espresso.
Location: Little Italy, 668 College Str, Toronto, Canada
You can find them on Instagram as well: empirelovesyou
P.S They are dog friendly & they have dog treats as well.
© Copyright Nastazia Q-laffa. Toronto_Canada_2014. No usage permitted without prior written consent. All rights reserved.
Now, to be honest, I’m a sucker for good architectural pieces caught in small streets of a huge city. As you get older, an urge is getting born, to find a place & call it home. Finding an ideal home, building one or refurbish one to your desires is a hard decision. You want to satisfy most of your aspects. Be in a country you give a damn, love the neighborhood, be satisfied with your job opportunities, having aspects of expansion, having your loved ones close etc. There’s a whole lot to think of & try to fulfill most of them. It’s one of the toughest decisions while you enter the ‘adult’ world. You have to find a location that is key for future development, your property’s future value, remain within budget, save $$$ & win in a sell-buy situation.
No matter where you go around the world, you keep being drawn to the design you were most familiar with. Being here in the Americas, was not the best architectural inspiration for us. We wanted European style with a minimal essence. Going around the neighborhoods, we would find beauty to each classic version of a duplex, but we would never consider of buying one. With the pass of time, we stumbled upon some gorgeous architectural pieces which made us wowed big time.
So yes, we do reconsider the thought of buying a property in Toronto. The latest issue of ‘Toronto Life’ magazine, is the ultimate guide on finding a home. It gives you a detailed analysis of beautiful areas & provinces around Canada, along with architectural & budget options. If the Real Estate in a country is in bloom, it’s one of the best investments. You can find a property where most of your needs are covered & whenever it’s time to move on forward, you sell, you withdraw & you leave satisfied. Please be indulged with the photo below._
So I saw this store, the very moment it opened it’s doors to the public. I was scrolling downtown Queen Str. West, when this gem got my attention. I thought to myself ‘Wow, that is by far the best interior I’ve ever seen around the neighborhood’. I didn’t have time to walk in, but I was coming back to figure out its existence. Long story short, few days ago, I finally walk in to give it a glance. Jenny was there, one of the owners; She welcomed me with a warm smile. I just took my time to scroll around, check the designs & feel the quality. I was really drawn into few styles & I was more amazed when I checked the prices. It was a two digit number. I thought to my self, probably I didn’t load the price correct. Maybe there was a sale or something. But nope, that was the original starting price. So I go back to Jenny & ask her where is this brand originally from. That’s when she introduced me to the story behind the scenes.
Her mother & father, Young & Tae, started to manufacture hand made shoes for women 35 years ago in Seoul, South Korea. Their love of shoes grew big, creating the big success now days. Their business, has creative additions of a designing team, but the last word is on Young. Every single shoe is hand crafted from several hands. They all pay attention to detail & structure factors for each pair. Their work doesn’t stop when the shoes are on to their selling selves. If the costumers would have any complain or an addition for a better fit, they’ll receive them back, re adjust them & re-send them, leaving every single client more than satisfied. They also have the coolest feature as a shoe brand; They accept individual custom changes in all of their styles, regarding texture & heel size, with an acceptable time frame & a small charge only. Isn’t that the best news ever for a shoe lover? You feel like you have an exclusive shoe craftsman right next to your door, ready to fill your shoe needs.
Regarding this brand new retail store, Jenny & David Kim the current owners of Young & Tae, started their journey in 2011 when they decided to relocate temporary to Seoul, building a business plan to continue the legacy of their parents, here in Toronto. They came back & gave it some time to find the best location for their beautiful store. They chose Queen str West, once it’s the ambassador of style & self owned brands for the Torontonians. Relying on the interior designer Bennett C. Lo & his creative team Dialogue 38, the result of their newborn retail store is a proper masterpiece. Walking in, gives you the relaxation you need to find a piece in peace, while the minimal 377 block stands showcase the shoes, letting you focus only on their details.
Jenny & David, are an amazing couple, where altogether makes the perfect blend, for a shopping-must-destination in the heart of fashion district. I’ve shot my favorite pairs & the rest of the styles, you can find them on their website.
Special thanks to Jenny & David, for their business passion & story details.
© Copyright Nastazia Q-laffa. Toronto_Canada_2014. No usage permitted without prior written consent. All rights reserved.
It is this time of the year & especially in Toronto weather, where wearing a denim jumpsuit is the best choice ever! Finally the snow & awful weather decided to drop off & let us be; Enjoy again, giving a damn of what to wear for even a simple scroll around the neighborhood. I felt really excited with my new denim purchase, since the last time I wore one was 13 years ago. I always wanted to buy one again. It has been a long-long research to find one I like, it fits properly & it complements my figure. I had this stupid comment the 1st time I bought one, that ‘it wasn’t feminine enough’. Who said I needed to be that feminine as a 15 year old & I can not recall that until today having it as my 1st priority.
So, I was scrolling downtown, on Queen’s street, looking for a cotton long skirt where I ended up being disappointed with the options I had. I wouldn’t give up, it just wasn’t the right moment to discover one. That was the moment when my eyes got caught on the very last 3 denim jumpsuits. I started praying one of those 3 could be my size & then my hands reached the hangers. Yes, I did find my size! I run to the changing rooms, gladly tried it on & proudly came out. I wanted it & I wanted now. Someone had an opinion that I should get a bigger size, while I argued I shouldn’t. I did try a bigger one & it was like I stole it from my older & bigger sister. I could fit one more person in there. The reason I strongly supported my opinion was because it was a skinny cut. And a skinny cut needs to be nicely fitted. I totally understand the style of a loose jumpsuit, but that’s only & I repeat only, when the cut is a ‘farmer’s style’. Other than that, you gotta buy it your actual size, or else you look like a clown.
I didn’t pay too much attention if it was compatible with the current fashion; a denim jumpsuit is a must have if you are a bit boyish, for all the years to come. I googled to see how A-listers wear it, just for the record & to my surprise, Sarah Jessica Parker & I, look like twins in this photo. Not bad at all!
So April came & oh we were excited!
We were craving for spring so bad & we had stored all of our hopes on it. We started planning & daydreaming at day offs, on what’s next & how we’ll seize the spring days. April starts with ‘Fool’s Day’ where we didn’t paid too much attention to be honest. Well, we did paid attention & got off the excitement wagon, when we realized that the ‘Fool’s Day’ is lasting more than it should for us!
Joke 1: The weather was worse from one day to another & you thought you were transferred to autumn all over again. Every morning you’d look outside the window & curse for Canada’s spring season.
Joke 2: The workers from the backyard, gave us an amazing mud-winter-wonderland & throwing your garbage was a daily task which some days you wouldn’t even bother & just park them outside your door.
Joke 3: The weather combined with the workers seemed to us like a repeated day, living it over & over again until you get it right. Something like that movie where they celebrated Groundhog’s Day & the actor is waking up repeatedly at the same day.
Joke 4: We faced a 5:00 am flood from our neighbor’s stupidity.
Joke 5: We hunted muddy waters down the stairs, saving our leather shoes just on time & screaming over the responsible worker, without any clue of communication of course.
Joke 6: Dealing with a stoned neighbor & us having no clue what to do with his irresponsible lifestyle.
Joke 7: Playing ‘hide & seek’ with our spring-summer clothes.
Joke 8: Getting sick from a virus & passing it on to my husband. Having limited time for recovery & missing a soup from my mother; kissing me in the forth head whispering that everything is going to be alright.
Skimming of jokes: Having all this, an everyday life which still needs adjustments & a routine that you fight with not to kill your enthusiasm, suddenly the luggages in the storage room, seemed a good idea to pack & get the hell out of here.
I never had that many gathered thoughts of escape, on a spring season. That says it all. So I can admit, the moment I welcomed April, the same moment I farewell April. I’ve never hated more an April & I hope I won’t have any psychological issues for the next ones to come. I didn’t had any interest at this past month & all I wished for, was that May would be more promising. April is supposed to be the anteroom of summer. Yeah right!
Dear April, I’m happy you’re gone. You crashed me in every way & my creativity was on a huge pause. So pack your stuff & give us a break!
May is here to stay!
So I had enough today with the forecast & any type of cast in this country. I mean it’s only fair to write an article about Canada’s weather. I’m certainly not planning to move to Alaska so that is the worse I will ever experience.
So we had an unbelievable cruel hard core winter. It’s mid March & out of nowhere the sun not only decides to appear on it’s full scale but with an amazing breeze of fresh air above zero. Repeating: above zero! Then all of a sudden you pull out of the darkest corners of your closet your Converse, you attempt to go out with a t-shirt/sweatshirt, zip down your parka & even wear sunglasses. You walk in the hood & all of the sudden, the ‘how you doin?’ looks are all back! I’m talking about a nice, sunny, breezy day where even some patios had their virginity taken away. You’re positiveness is back! You start to plan like crazy for city-breaks & how often you wanna take the boat for daily escapes to the Island; I mean the one across Toronto, not the one from the ‘Lost’ series. You plan to buy pick-nic accessories, visit sight-seeings for real this time & how beautifully you’ll be cycling around the city with a baguette & tulips on your front basket.
On the mean time, you fall asleep fully developed from joy & future plans.
So you wake up the next day, around noon, feeling heavy as hell for no reason & there’s a strangely white-ish light coming from your window. You wonder. You wake up like you had a hangover, having body aches & you barely care to drift from bed. Hmm, I’m sure it wasn’t the Pilates. I’m successfully on a 3rd week training & no pain is required. While having inner talks with myself & walked towards the back door to see the view on the backyard, I faced the awful truth. Everything was white. I repeat, everything has turned into white. Again. It’s snowing like no tomorrow & anytime Santa & his sleigh will land on your porch. I mean SERIOUSLY? After all those dreams & plans, the reality of ‘Canada’s Winter Wonderland’ hits you right on the forehead.
I thought Spring was here to stay! I thought it was getting prepared for a show off & we’d all be smiling & joining the parade! What on earth is this now? Suddenly the baguette & tulips are crushing the pavement & caving in for few more weeks is the least you wish or expect. Once you have that view, you automatically cross out all of your plans & the only thing you’ll do is to go to your kitchen & treat yourself a hot coffee. The rest is history. You feel dull as a polar bear & you don’t wanna bother until all this crap is gone.
I tunned in to facebook to scroll down the news feed, hoping to find someone feeling the exact same way. My eyes got stuck on a post from a Dalai Lama’s quote about yesterday & tomorrow & we can only act today, to love, believe, do & mostly live. I can proudly believe that Dalai Lama didn’t have Canada in mind & hadn’t pictured the landscapes here. Excuse me to say, but I’d rather re-imagine yesterday & cry out for a better tomorrow.
So for today, my few outdoor plans are cancelled. I’m talking about exercising 4 blocks away & having dinner with a friend 5 blocks away, but all seem so hard to achieve when walking like a Polar bear is not my thing anymore. Oh & by the way, my Converse are here to stay!_
P.s I can only dedicate this post to my friend Kayle Evans who shares my pain.
I keep giving glances to it time to time. For this freaking quote, we’ve ended up here. Here is Toronto, Canada. I followed my husband, he followed me, all I know is that we’re here. It’s been almost 10 months & I fear it will be years in no time without realizing it. The things that someone goes through a beginning of his first months, if they are for a higher purpose, are literally indescribable. I haven’t seen a book so far that warns you for the first tough months of your life once you go along with a tough choice. All are a helping hand from this point & beyond. Man, the sacrifices are way too big. I can even believe it still. I fight with that every day. You are away from anyone you love of you feel home, you are fighting day in day out, you loose your old self, you are in uncomfortable places, you dream the soft comfort past, you miss your land, you miss any familiarity, you live away from somebody you love, you miss the last moments of someone who will leave this world soon, you miss someone that just joint the world, you keep on living your everyday life getting familiar with missing something all the time. This is not a place kids would survive. This is why we loose the fun from our lives either we admit we do. Who wants to choose this really? But we do. Many of us actually do. Time pays a bad part in all this. Time zones matter & with the media I don’t know if they help us at the end. You see your loved ones digitally every now & then & you realize how apart you are. It keeps reminding you that every time you press a video call. Probably at the ages of our grand -grand parents, that would see one another after many years, it saved them the daily torture. You tend to forget if you don’t see something for a while. It might live within you, but it’s not scooping your heart slowly.
So I really can’t recall who’s the real Enemy, comfort or separation?
Why Achievement has to come with such sacrifice?
Why couldn’t we get our lessons along with Comfort?
Why we humans couldn’t maintain the heavenly lessons as they were?
Why did we have to make them so complicated?
All I know is if you train yourself to live with something as a fact, that’s his fact forever.
And my fact is living for my purpose & its achievement. It’s way too loud to ignore it. I build it way to high, way to strong. No matter how hard it is, it’s like I was born this way.
Please correct me. Please tell me that I’m wrong so I can go running towards my Comfort. It will save me, a hell of a lot effort & pain._
The moment has finally arrived where we decided, me & my man, that we’ll both get a family membership at our local YMCA gym. I would suggest it many times to him, while I finally dragged him for a ‘just-give-it-a-look-for-God-sake’. We went, we had a tour, we found all of the options we wanted & of corse the punching bag! So while getting in a research for new training shoes, as usual, I found my ones within a week, tried them, liked them, debit-ed them. Now. We scrolled around some athletic stores, he fell in love with the new lines of Nike, who wouldn’t?
Regarding my training shoes, I found the colors in current fashion, similar style, just from another brand. Once they are the colors I want, the style I would wear & anatomic for my feet, there’s just nothing more to analyze. It’s just for the gym & wouldn’t walk around bouncing them with proudness. But my dear beloved one does mind! I showed him similar ones, Nike ones, but no way. He just fell in love with the specific style ‘Free Trainer 3.0′. To be honest it’s a cool style & in awesome colorings. It’s just that the price was too expensive for only few days at the gym & only for the gym. Anyway, he explained me why, I explained him why & we where not gonna skip this transaction.
Even though my guts where upside down, because I know how the stores, chains & outlets work here in Canada, I just knew that there was a pair out there for him, in his desires & needs, only half the price, just because a different supplier sells them. So he was gonna buy ‘em on his next day off. That counts down to 2 days & 12 hours. I didn’t lose my faith & I knew there was still an alternative case hanging there for me to grab it & once more scream ‘A-ha. I told you so’.
So one of my dear friends calls me & invites me to hang out with her on her day off & scroll around some malls outside of Toronto. Big ones & so American ones. Once we get there we already meet traffic, can’t find a spot & wondering where did all those folks came from. Aren’t they working? There are quite many to have the same day off altogether. Anyway, we manage to park & long story short, once we entered the mall, the answer ding-ed our heads like an inbox mail. It was Black Friday! Oh Lord, such a wrong wrong decision on a day like this to scroll around a mall. Well, we side-hanged our bags, roll-up our sleeves & started slowly but surely to drift around. We were having a conversation, paid to little attention to the stores, while I feel this breeze coming from my right hand side. I turned my face in slow motion & there it was like the shinning star of Bethlehem. A Nike store/outlet! I remained calm & invite my friend to give it a look & check what are they’re offers. There was like the paradise of all Nike trainers. I was in panic, I must admit. But I focused on my goal, to find the trainers my husband wanted in a reasonable price.
I started text-ing him, sending the style names so he could Google them & give me a hint on what I was supposed to find through my ‘Nike Mission’. He informs me it’s a trainer style. So I struggle to find an assistance through that craziness. I was looking through the aisles, giving the thirsty look to unknown customers, ’till I see him & made sure to seal a conversation with him. The trainer styles, thank God, where only few to choose from. So I text him the final details & color combination & I just prayed it would be one of them. I was in a confusion between 2 styles. One for the upper design & the other one for its sole. So he tells me to go for the ‘Free Haven 3.0′ the one I had a fair memory of that it might have been the one. So we both agreed on that one, I find a size & I proceed to the counter. I paid a sweet price of only 69.95 plus 13% tax, while the Free Trainer 3.0 he wished to purchase, was for the un-sweet price of 139.99 plus 13% tax.
Once we were leaving the store, me & my friend, made sure about their exchange policy & believed that he would most definitely like it. If not we would exchange it & I’d be defeated. I then later on received a text msg that he really liked it through the images of Google. (Alleluia for Google) I waited to get home & google it myself & remember what was the first so-desired-trainer-style. And I did & they even had them both on the same page, same results, right next to each other. Only they were probably made 3-6 months in difference from each other. Now you tell me, if the price difference of 70.00$ was worth paining for & if I was right from the beginning on having ‘objections your honor’. The Trainer one has crossed lines & the Haven one little triangles. There are few small design differences, which a designer would notice, but not for the big price difference that it’s given. So I relaxed & reassured myself that when my hubby will arrive home from work, will definitely love his new trainers & I will tell him out loud ‘I told you so.’_
I mean, I’ve been a fool since day one, that the clothes I brought with me in this new continent of the world, would be just fine. Apart from the clothes I already have, the new ones I’ve checked in stores, here & there, would be these classic, semi-protective styles. I had second thoughts if they’d be wintery enough & thank God I had them, because 3 weeks later, I realized that they would only be an awesome piece in my wardrobe & nothing more than that. The weather increases week by week & I ended up wearing 3-4 layers, even 4-5, in order to survive out there. So all my european winter-like clothes where not protecting me enough from the cold. Actually not protecting me at all. So I narrowed down the brands, I dismissed all the european brands from my shopping options & I got to the final conclusion of: Not-having-a-style-at-all-for-5-months.
I accepted the fact that I have to look for the eskimo-native type styles, big heavy boots & duvet type coats. In October, I would laugh & declare that there is no way I’m wearing these. In November, I canceled my declaration & proceed forward. I will invest in these wide styles, these absolute enormous protective outwears. Or else I will freeze to death. Maybe they’ll find me frozen at a streetcar stop dwelling on a Starbucks seasonal beverage. I was checking around the trespassers this evening, when I left the gym around 5:45 & I could see them buckled up with all kinds of wintery & even ski equipment. You even have to consider & combine ski equipment. That says it all.
I know the designers had made an amazing work for this seasons outwear. Even if it wasn’t in style this season, ‘cocooning’ is the essential option for Canada, translated to an ‘onion-ing’. There are a lot of styles, brands, models, mannequins to get inspired from, but for myself, I would mostly get inspired from these ‘National Geographic’ photographers at the Arctic, Alaskan journeys. Yes yes indeed. They know best about wild weathers & hard core climate calculations. Imagine that last week, it reached -13C with a real feel of -18C & I could not stand the cold more than 20 mins. That’s like a dog walk & once I’m back I try to find my normal body Celsius for 20 more mins.
I would love furry details or even a fur coat up to my ankles. I am a no-no person when it comes to dead animals. I even started considering that though. This weather is bringing out my bad-bad self, who sends radioactive waves at fur stores. Still I’ll stand tall & go for duck feathers. May we survive this winter, with or without a style._
I believe one of the most uncomfortable moments, are the ones where you see your loved ones repeating their own mistakes. Once they’ve been through a lesson in the hardest version of it & you see them re-living it again & re-questioning themselves A-gain, then it’s a moment where silence will help the most. Trying to help or advice will only make things worse. Because they already had enough from the first time & they don’t need your lecture once the trial is re-visiting for the second time their doorstep. They are more annoyed & you’re like more in wonder with an awkward smile on your face. Once they are requesting their situation, ‘What is the reason this is repeated?’, probably they didn’t learn their lesson.
I mean, once you see even the slightest common-ish applies, on a human or a situation, then what are the reasons for not dropping it immediately & go for something else? While you reconfirm yourself ‘This one is the same with that one, so I don’t need this again’, then it’s the moment of immediate action. Why this commonness allows you to give one more chance? One more day, one more phone-call, one more delayed situation? Just drop the freaking thing & go for another option. You are just caught in these cases, believing it’s too late to make another move. The too-late-present-moment, will be when giving repeatedly opportunities every next time & at the last chance of all, you’ll be left with no other options & plan b’s or c’s & probably admitting that, that person shouldn’t been given opportunities. It’s better to have 2-3 opportunities or situations hanging than hanging one that busts your balls & is going with the speed of a turtle. No surprise, by the end of that situation, you’ll be left with wrecked nerves & maybe even hanging on a wrecking ball like Miley Cirus.
Sooo, whenever you see a common situation or human being, coming towards your life & plans, it is time to alert yourself, act completely different & show to the universe that you’ve got the lesson & you are treating it completely different by NOT repeating your old self. And there you go, the situation is kicked out of your options, you have new ones to run for & activate yourself, without remaining paused. Opportunities & people do not always deserve a second chance. Not all ‘right timings’ cooperate altogether for your convenient outcome._