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Through the eyes of an intern...

Did you have an enjoyable Valentine's Day? Did you spend quality time with your significant other? Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a relationship starts to break apart. Here are some things you can do when you start to feel the strain:

1. Be Honest

Be true to yourself and express your wants and needs from your relationship. Let your partner know if you are unhappy with anything. Playing the blaming game in the end won't be much fun. Try not to be negative, put a positive spin on all your negative thoughts. You don't want your partner to think that you're attacking them.

2. Communicate

Communication is important but are you a good communicator? You may find that sometimes your communication may lead into an argument. Try writing your feelings down and read it over. If you find what you've written is not as big of a problem as you had thought, then discard that problem in the form of a paper. On the other hand, if your problem seems as big as you thought or bigger try to find the source of it. Reason it out in your head before you approach your partner with it. Keep calm and remember that you want to solve the issue not make it bigger.

3. Pencil in a Date

Life can get pretty hectic for all of us. With work, school and bills to pay, we can become pretty overwhelmed. Do yourself a favour and give yourself a break. Take an evening off to get away from everything and take your partner out on a cute, romantic, simple or fancy date. You owe a little bit of time to them, take a step back and enjoy some quality time together. If you don't think you can remember this, pencil in a date on your busy calendar to make sure you don't forget. Remember to do this frequently.

4. A Text Can Speak Volumes

Maybe you're one of those people who wakes up half an hour before the time they need to be somewhere, runs in and out of the washroom, dashes out the door with one shoe on and catches the bus right before it passes their stop. Through all of this, it only takes one second to send a Good Morning text or to actually say it. Make it a habit to say good morning, have a good day and goodnight to your loved one. You never know how busy your day will be and if you will have the chance to say it later.

5. A Break Is Not a Breakup!

Contrary to what Ross believes, a break is not a break up. Sometimes taking a little bit of a hiatus from your partner can do wonders for a relationship. You can take a step back and re-evaluate everything before proceeding full speed ahead.

Through the eyes of Amy...

 

Family Day is just around the corner. Other than Christmas and Easter, Family Day is a special holiday dedicated to gathering your entire family and spend quality time with one another. There are no rules on how to spend the day. The day is meant to appreciate every moment spent with your family, there should be no distractions. There is something for every family to do, there are no shortage of events taking place in and around the city of Toronto.

1. Take Part in Family Day Toronto Activities

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is celebrating Family Day by transforming the gallery into the Kids Gallery of Ontario (KGO). Families can expect a full day of programs, art tours and hands-on activities.

If “fun” is the theme of your day, Downsview Park offers 3,000 square feet of indoor activities. The attractions including kiddie rides, jumping castles, giant slides, interactive arcade and carnival games.

2. Watch a movie

Are your family members movie lovers? The TIFF Bell Lightbox is celebrating Family Day by hosting a festival tailored to youths from ages 14 - 18. This event includes screening of films from around the globe, special guests and interactive workshops throughout the day.

3. Skating

There are many indoor and outdoor rinks open around town and in the city. Two of my favourites are Nathan Phillips Square and Harbourfront Centre located in Toronto. Prices are based on a two hour rental; adults pay $10 and children pay $5 if they are under 12 years old. There are several coffee shops around the city, be sure to enjoy a warm cup of coffee after a long day of skating.

4. Ski/Snowboarding

If your family enjoys outdoor winter activities, Family Day would be a great time for a mini weekend get away. There many resorts around the GTA, just to name a few includes Centennial Park Snow Centre, Earl Bales Ski & Snowboard Centre and Blue Mountain in Barrie.

5. Family Lunch/Dinner

Have a meal with your family whether at home or at a restaurant. With our busy schedules, it is nice to be able to sit together and enjoy some good food. Most restaurants are open but be sure to call and reserve a table in advance. After arriving home, bring out the old board games and enjoy some healthy competition with the ones you love.

With all these fun activities that your family can take part in, keep in mind that the TTC offers a Family Pass on weekends and holidays. Your family can travel unlimited for the whole day throughout the whole transit system!

Do you ever think where tourists visit when they travel to your city? How well do you know your city? Experience what they are experiencing. Revisit attractions you've been to before or explore new places that you've never been, and make a day out of it. Here are some top attractions and exciting things to do in Toronto:

 

Canada's Wonderland: This theme park features over 200 rides, as well as a Typhoon and Splash Station for water lovers to get some fun in the sun. This is the place to spend your entire day with your friend, partner, or family, and create long-lasting, fun memories.

 

Nathan Phillip Square: Downtown, Toronto, is usually the first place tourists visit. Being one of the biggest attraction, the city is always busy. Tourists can go ice skating during the winter, shop at the Eaton Centre, and experience hundreds of restaurants in the area all year round. Stop in your tracks, take in the scenery, and think how special your city is!

 

CN Tower:Tourists often come to Toronto to feel, touch, and physically experience the tallest tower in Canada. Revisit the tower, but do more than take pictures. If you have never been on the 58 second elevator ride up the tower, then you are missing out. There are restaurants, gift stores, and the newest addition, pay to walk along the edge of the tower and take in the breath-taking sight of Toronto!

 

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada: Experience Toronto's newest attraction of underwater creatures and habitats from across the globe. Enjoy your day looking and taking photos of over 13,500 fascinating species including jellyfish, tropical fish, seahorses, stingrays, and sharks.

 

The Toronto Zoo: Plan a trip down with your family, or partner, and explore the 500 species of animals that the zoo has to offer. Perhaps, you'll get a chance to feed and pet some of your favourite animals, and even befriend some. Be sure to bring a fully charged camera to capture all the moments created!

Niagara Falls:This attraction is a classic place, and you will be sure to become amongst the thousands of people who want to visit the waterfall that is located between Canada and the New York border. Tourists can experience the Fallsview Casino, zip line on top of the Skylon Tower, take photos on the boat to become meters away from the waterfall, and go dine-in several restaurants in the area.

Through the eyes of Shay...

The only places that I have ever traveled to besides my home country, Iran, include Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, and Buffalo in New York which I visited twice. I have never spontaneously booked a trip with my friends and made it happen. There are so many factors that play a part before booking a flight. First, you have to determine who is on board for a vacation. Second, you have to find out how big or small your budget is to determine where you want to visit and what you can actually afford with that budget. If time continuously passes with no realistic decisions, you know the plans will not follow through. Be sure to book flights while you can, so you can avoid last minute cancellations and cold feet.

Throughout the last few years, I had plenty of time to think about where I truly want to visit and what I wanted to do during that time. In chronological order below, I have listed the top three places I wish to travel outside of Canada.

New York City: I have often ran this option by a good friend of mine. NYC is the closest place to home and the most inexpensive commute. The only thing that was stopping us from going was the attempt to book the same days off from work. If it went as planned, I would have visited Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. Once I got that out of the way, I would shop until I dropped and indulge in all the American food, whatever that may be. Then at night, I would dress up and explore the night life. Because I am a little daring, before I leave, I would make an appointment for a quick tattoo to top off the whole experience!

Cuba: As much as I love the city life, I also love the thought of laying in the white sand overlooking the breathtaking clear blue beach in the town of Veradero. I have been working non-stop for over a year, so Cuba would be the perfect location for a little getaway. I want to experience the Cuban culture in terms of the food and music. On top of that, who can forget about the all-inclusive activities that the resort has to offer.

Paris: The city looks extremely romantic. To be honest, the Eiffel Tower is where I have always dreamed for my engagement proposal to take place. I love French food, so this would be a perfect place to experience the authenticity. I want to visit the beaches and explore all the rich historical landmarks. But let's not forget how awesome wine tasting would be. I wouldn't know what to expect when I arrive, but I would plan my days based on my mood and see where life takes me.

 

Through the eyes of Amy...

 

Thinking of planning a getaway this winter season?

Whether you are planning a relaxing family trip, or an active outdoor vacation to a skip trip at a winter cottage country, there is something for everybody.

Here are five resorts, attractions, and cottages in Ontario where you can take your friends, family, or your romantic partner and expect quality and value to your winter experience!

1) JW Marriott The Rosseau Mokoka Resort & Spa, Minett, ON

If privacy and relaxation is what you need this holiday season, the JW Marriott is the perfect place for you. This family-oriented resort offers a beautiful scenery outlooking Lake Rosseau. Guests can spend their day in-doors in the pool, at the spa, or go snowmobiling on designated trails if they are looking for some fun adventure.

2) Horseshoe –A Skyline Resort, Barrie, ON

Take the weekend away with your entire family at the Horseshoe Resort. Outdoor activities include a 29 Alpine ski and snowboard run, tubing, fat biking, snowshoeing, and much more. Guests have the option to stay indoors and get pampered at the full-service Shizen Spa, enjoy the indoor pool, then dine in one of their many restaurants. Guest hotel rooms feature free WIFI and are pet-friendly.

3) Mountain Springs Resort & Conference Centre, Blue Mountains, ON

Mountain Springs Resort has a long history of luxurious condominium suits and facilities. The resort is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, and iced snow rivers. Guests can enjoy ski-in and ski-out condos, tennis courts, and year round outdoor hot tub or swimming pool.

4) Embassy Suites by Hilton, Niagara Falls, ON

There are over 200 Embassy Suites across Canada, U.S., and Latin America, but a specific hotel you need to check out is located in Niagara Falls, ON, as it uniquely overlooks the breathtaking waterfall. Once guests have booked their two room suite, they receive complementary made-to-order breakfast each morning, and complimentary drinks and snacks for two hours every night. The fitness center is also available if guests chose to maintain their fitness lifestyles.

5) Irwin Inn, Stoney Creek, ON

Thinking about taking your significant other to a special romantic getaway? Take advantage of the self-catering packages or book your package for a special occasion such as Christmas, Boxing Week or New Years from January 2 –April 4.

 

The last entry in our Valentine's Day series will look at how going on vacation with your significant other can be quite the learning experience for both parties. Whether it is your first time traveling in a new country, or just exploring another province or state, there are always new things that you will learn:

Change: Depending on which part of the world you are traveling, you will explore different sights, smell, food, art, language and culture. You can tell how your significant other responds and adapts to the change, whether it is positive or negative way. If your spouse embraces the new lifestyle, the better the experience will become. Some examples include becoming more social, making new friends, trying new food and exploring as if you are already a “local.”

New Interests: You know the saying “you never know until you try?” Maybe he/she does enjoy snorkeling, or wine making, or even salsa dancing in the streets of Paris. You will learn things about each other you never knew before, and perhaps integrate those new interests when the vacation comes to an end.

Generosity: This can be a mini test to see how your spouse chooses to take care of you when you have limited resources. Will your spouse take care of you when you get sick and are laying in bed all day because of food poisoning, or will he/she want to explore the city without you? Little gestures go a long way.

New Personality Traits: How your spouse deals with ingesting bad street food, unavoidable delays or bad customer service can be a turn off, or even a turn on. Sometimes, things don't go as planned and you have to deal with it in a mature manner. If he/she creates alternate plans, you know he/she is a person who does not take certain situations too seriously and knows how to have fun.

Final Evaluation: Now that you have experienced a getaway with your significant other, you have learned what his/her best or not to best qualities are. Did this trip affect your thoughts, or did this experience make your relationship even stronger? That is for you to decide!

If you haven't read the previous entries in our Valentine's Day series, be sure to check them out! This entry will look at where to take your special someone for Valentine's Day, from a female's perspective.

1) Second City - Comedy Show

51 Mercer Street

Toronto, ON

They say laughter is the best medicine! Spend your Valentine's Day laughing away at a live comedy performance while having a few drinks with your special someone. Don't go home on an empty stomach. Be sure to dine for two in the restaurants near the theater. Dinner, drinks, and a show –what more could you ask for?

Tickets: $25-29 per person

2) AMC & Jack Astor's Bar & Grill

10 Dundas Street East

Toronto, ON

The classic dinner and movie date! Pick out a genre of movie you both enjoy watching, or perhaps watch the new Fifty Shades of Grey? Then dine in the same location at Jack Astor's, where the restaurant overlooks Yonge-Dundas square and the Eaton Centre. Grab a drink until and discuss old times or even future plans together.

Tickets: $30-40 per person

3) Ice Skating

Nathan Philip Square

Toronto, ON

If you combine Valentine's Day and the winter season, you will get skating! This ice-rink is the most famous and most visited attraction in Toronto. The set up include a unique urban backdrop of sparkling lights and a large holiday tree. Don't forget to grab hot chocolate at the end of your date!

Tickets: Free

4) Chocolate Tour

1015 Danforth Avenue

Toronto, ON

Do you love chocolate? Take your date to explore the sweeter side of life by chocolate tasting in Toronto. The tour features sampling chocolate-based goodies as well as a walk through tour on the history of chocolates.

Tickets: $35 per person

5) Cabaret Show

Revival, 783 College

Toronto, ON

“Blush”Go out of your comfort zone and enter a world of live entertainment. This Valentine's-themed cabaret features dance, cirque, live music and elements of burlesque. This can be a story you can tell your friends!

Tickets: $20-$35 per person

We started our five-part Valentine's Day series by looking at gifts for your significant other from a male perspective. The second part of our series will look at gift ideas from a female's point-of-view.

1. Edible Arrangements

Even though receiving flowers is a nice gift, it can become overdone with time. Attempt to give something more personal and perhaps, tasty. I'm talking about edible arrangements. How does it work? Visit the website, and choose different types of packages of fruits, candies, or chocolates you think your date would enjoy, and purchase it online. It can be delivered to a location or it could be picked up in store.

2. Scarves

Give the gift of warmth this holiday season. Scarves are a great accessory to an outfit. Scarves also never go out of style, and you can never have too many of them. There are several colours, styles, and brands to choose from. Attempt to find one that looks customized for him/her to make it seem that you have put lots of thought about getting that specific one. Your date will wear it throughout the winter season, and you will always be thought of.

3. Body Care

As you know, keeping a tab on good hygiene is important when going on a date. There are several body care stores where you can purchase products such as shower gels, body lotions, hand sanitizers, and fragrance mists. There are a variety of fragrances to choose from including fruity, fresh, or sweet. The best part of all, they carry men care products as well.

4. DVDs

This is the perfect gift if you plan to spend the day or night with your date in the comfort of the your own home. Find out which genre of movies your date likes to watch, and which movies he/she has not seen yet, and be sure to buy that one! Pop in the movie, make some popcorn, and enjoy each others company.

5. Spa Kit

This is the perfect kit to purchase for either your female or male companion. If you and your date spend majority of your day at school or work, you will appreciate this gift. You can get a "his and her spa kit" and expect a session of relaxation and peacefulness. Call your local spa shops to ask about their valentine deals and specials.

Through the eyes of Shay...

 

Traveling solo is becoming more common. When exploring new ground on your own, you get to see the world in another light. Being alone miles away from home can be intimidating; however, the experiences and memories that will be created will be rewarding.

Here are five benefits of traveling solo:

Social Skills

When you're traveling with friends, you tend to stay within your group and socializing with the others can become more difficult. When you're alone, you become vulnerable and crave human interaction. What better way to do so than to socialize with locals. Examine how they interact with one another and engage yourself in deep conversations with them. Interacting with several unfamiliar people a day can be a way of gaining more confidence in yourself. Who knows, you might make a new friend and even learn something new.

Broaden Knowledge on Culture

What is exploring a new country without familiarizing yourself with their culture, customs, and activities? Explore every aspect much as possible to gain the full experience as to what the country has to offer. Brace yourself to try and connect with locals even if they cannot speak fluent English.

Learning a new language can be exciting.

Experience New Things

Because you are traveling alone, you are in full control of scheduling your own day. You can plan where to go and the time you wish to do so. For example, take a trip into the wild and hike until you can't hike any more or try a dish that you have never tasted before. Getting out of your comfort zone can be fun. These new memories will last a lifetime.

Appreciate New Things

Life can be overwhelming with routines and hectic work schedules. With such a busy lifestyle, we don't have the luxury where time is endless.It is difficult to try something new and we tend to forget the little things in life. When traveling on your own, you can stop in the middle of your adventure, take deep breathes and appreciate that moment or the beautiful scenery.

Learn About Yourself

As mentioned, traveling to an unknown country can be intimidating. When you're on your own, you tend to listen to your gut feeling and tend to follow your heart. You explore new places and try new and authentic food that you never had the opportunity to try back at home. It can be a test to see how adventurous you can be and eventually you will learn what you like and what you don't.

Since Valentine's Day is coming soon, we have started a five-part series looking at both, the male and female perspectives when it comes to giving gifts and planning dates for your significant other. This first entry will look at what you get your special someone, from a male's perspective.

1. A Stuffed Animal & A Card

A stuffed animal is usually a safe option when giving a gift. It's not too cheesy, but it can be memorable depending on what you get. Don't assume that guys do not like stuffed animals, they will keep it as a memento.

As for the card, don't just get any card! Get one that shows your appreciation and something that stands out. You can get huge cards from Carlton Cards or Hallmark for approximately ten dollars. The most important part to remember is to get creative with what you write on the card! But if you are a crafty person, feel free to make a card. This will show your special someone the extra effort you are willing to put in.

2. Chocolates & Flowers

This generic gift idea is one of your safest bets. Find out what kind of chocolate they like and then surprise them their favourite ones. No one can resist chocolates! Giving flowers is also a nice gesture. Although, anyone can go to the store and purchase flowers, it is knowing what to get and how to give it that will make the experience unique. Try buying roses but in different colours!

3. Tumbler

Purchase two tumblers (his and hers) and fill them up with a hot beverage like tea, coffee, hot chocolate and carry them on the go or enjoy it right there. Make sure they are unique looking tumblers. This will be a sweet gesture that both can enjoy.

4. Knitting

Nothing beats a handmade gift. If you knit a scarf or hat for your significant other, they would appreciate and love it. If I got a scarf or a hat from a woman, I would love it and possibly wear it all the time!

5. Board Game

Purchase a board game that you two can play together. If not a board game, something that requires at least two players. You can have tons of fun with it! This will allow you to get to know the person a little better. You can also play games with other couples, a little competition will make things interesting.