Patriarch's Ponds + Mari Vanna

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Top: Vintage | Skirt: Urban Outfitters | Shoes: Minnetonka | Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters
Almost six years have gone by since I last saw my beloved Moscow - my birthplace, my motherland, my former hometown - but I've finally made it here. So much has changed, yet so much is still the same, especially the people. The last time I was here, I was still a teenager, visiting family, not making any specific plans, not fully absorbing the beauty of this city. This time is different. I am more aware of my surroundings. I feel like more of an outsider, a stranger, and yet I am ever so connected to this place. 

What's beautiful about Moscow is the grandiosity of everything. It has a way of inspiring you like no other city. History seeps through every building, every street, every park, and it does so with elegance and an air of Soviet fortitude. It still slightly baffles me that I was fortunate enough to be born here and to have lived here. I mean, Toronto is great, unique and is one of the most comfortable cities to live in but you simply cannot feel the grandeur and complexity, which inspires and intimidates you every single day, as soon as you step outside. Basically, Moscow keeps you in check!

My first few days back were hectic, rushed, filled with both, pleasant and characteristically rude encounters, trips to various offices, government bureaus, banks, stores, etc. As soon as the weekend arrived, I decided to start my adventures with something simple - a stroll in the park, by a pond, and brunch.

Partiarch's Ponds is a gem of a park, which used to consist of several ponds, more than two-hundred years ago. However, only one of them remains and holds the kind of esoteric charm no nature-lover would want to miss out on. In the early hours, it's peaceful and enigmatic; it livens up, just before the afternoon sun, as mamas, papas and babushki take their youngins and pups out for a walk. If that isn't intriguing enough, this sure will be - writer, Mikhail Bulgakov, monumentalized this place in his novel, The Master and Margarita, where he had the Devil appear.

After a relaxing couple of hours at the park, I headed over to Mari Vanna, an upper-scale restaurant stylized as a cozy, old-fashioned, Russian home, where you are greeted by waitresses dressed in traditional garb. Brunch came in the form of Syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes) and Oladi (buttermilk pancakes), and everything tasted like pure Slavic heaven. If you have never tried authentic Russian food, this is a great place to start. Just remember that Polish delis aren't the only options available if you wish to dabble into Eastern European cuisine. The BEST part, however, is the owner's Cat, Venya (aka Veniamin, aka Benjamin, aka Benny), who lives there and is free to roam around the place like the little Tsar he is. And this is precisely another reason I love Russia - being a crazy cat lady/man is totally normal and acceptable! Unfortunately for non-Muscovites, His Majesty Venya's living situation is unique to the city. The absence of fat cats shouldn't discourage you from trying out the Moscow-based restaurant chain, which is also located in St. Petersburg, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and London... Sadly, not Toronto.

Last but not least, my ensemble for the day consisted of a 70s-inspired, retro, paisley, Georgette silk top; a simple, black mini skirt; embroidered suede moccasins, and a pair of black, retro-style sunglasses. Ancient ponds and old-fashioned restaurants call for old world style.

Hope you have a lovely day. More to come from Moscow!

Mean Prints on McCaul St.

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Dress: Mango | Shoes: Handcrafted from Bangladesh | Necklace: Handcrafted | Watch: Michael Kors

I believe this is my first summer post, wearing an actual dress. Where has time flown?! As soon as I started posting summer looks... Oh wait... What?!... It's already fall?! Usually, I'd be extremely pleased with this change of weather, since I'm not particularly a fan of the heat and sweat that comes with everyone's favourite time of year. However, I'll be ditching Toronto in a couple of days, and the unpredictability makes it a lot more difficult to pack light. I was hoping to only take dresses, basics and itty bitty items. Just my luck.

Before I leave, I'm making a point of eating foods that are not readily available where I'm headed to next. That's where my appreciation of Toronto comes in. No matter how many places I visit, this city's food scene tramples all else. It's known for its variety, and variety is a luxury - one that I truly value. This time around, I was near the university area, and decided to get down to McCaul Street and pop into one of THE BEST food courts in the city, the Village by the Grange, which has a little bit of everything to offer. Yes, that's a weighty statement but I solemnly stand by it. Just look at how cute the place is! I tried out Chinese steamed buns (Bao), stuffed with a variety of ingredients, as well as steamed dumplings (Siu Mai), at a modern Chinese eatery called Mean Bao. I like me some cheap eats, savoury goodness, good service and a hospitable atmosphere, all of which the Bao joint successfully delivered.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without some outfit deets. The "ethnic" print shift dress I wore is one of my most versatile pieces, despite the bold impression it gives off. The mixture of warm and cool colours work well in any given season. The piece can be paired with a chunky cardigan when the cold settles in, or a blazer for work, interviews, day dates, etc. It's perfect on its own in the summer, because of the soft, flowing fabric, lack of shape, and cut-off-shirt look, which I especially adore. I had to assemble it with the pair of amazing, beaded, genuine leather, handcrafted sandals; handmade florentine leather bracelets, and a handmade choker necklace. I'm all for purchasing and wearing handcrafted pieces, especially those with cultural significance - they have character, positive energy and most importantly, they make you stand out from the crowd.

Queen Street Trinity

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Jacket: Vinatge Levi's | Top: Black Market Vintage | Shorts: Vinatge Lee Jeans | Boots: Doc Martens 1460 | Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters | Chain: E-bay

It's been a tremendously dry blogging season for me, despite the beautiful summer weather, but I'm back - revamped, refurbished and recouped! I felt like the blog needed a major change, so, what better way to introduce the changes than to show you the Holy Trinity of Toronto's Queen St. West? Good eats, quirky street art and retro fashion compose this neighbourhood's charm. 

I revisited my second favourite fish n chips joint in town, over the long weekend. In time, I may reveal my first favourite. If you're in downtown Toronto, craving some fried seafood goodness, the haddock from Chippy's Fish And Chips is a must-try. Since it's a tiny spot, taking the food out to Trinity Bellwoods park and having a mini picnic, surrounded by local yogis and dog-walkers is a perfect way to enjoy the warm weather and satiate your hunger. 

Of course, I can't skip out on sweet treats, so Sweet Olenka's served as the perfect place for dessert. I got the Creme Brulee flavoured ice-cream and tried a bit of Butter Pecan. I must say, Olenka's is now on my top-ten ice-cream/gelato parlour list. There is just something very balanced, light and refreshing, yet rich and creamy about their homemade products. I walked around the back alleys with my little bowl from heaven, delighting in the graffito. TMNT fans, I hope you like the interpretation of Splinter that I took a snap of. 

As for what I wore, vintage denim shorts and cropped tops practically make up my summer uniform. I don't react well to heat, so itty bitty tops and bottoms understand my body's needs. I especially wore this old school, Versace-esque top, in honour of OVO Fest weekend, which sadly, I was unable to attend. Aubrey had my love and support anyway. I added a vintage jean jacket, Doc Martens, a gold chain (of course) and my retro-inspired sunnies to complete the look.

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