Monthly Archives: September 2015

Kissing In Kenya

I recently entered a writing piece about a time I felt immersed in a place. This was a tough choice, as on most trips I try to learn as much about the place I’m in and the local culture as I can.  There was one time though, standing high on a platform, kissing giraffes in Kenya that I felt completely at home.


Here’s that story (If you like it, please click the “Thumbs Up” and help me win a trip!)

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Take a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. Travel between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley on the magical Hogwarts Express. Step inside Gringotts bank and take the thrilling new ride “Harry Pottter and the Escape from Gringotts.”  Watch the wand choose the wizard at Ollivanders and take a flight on a Hippogriff by Hagrid’s Hut. Then, head into Hogwarts Castle and jump on a broom with Harry for a “Forbidden Journey” before strolling through the shops of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, sipping a delicious Butterbeer!

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Why I’m doing Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build

Almost a decade ago (seriously where does the time go?!?) I had just graduated from theatre school and was looking for a different kind of challenge. Something that would take me out of the country and away from constantly worrying about myself.  While looking into options, I came across Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program and knew I had found my next adventure.

In November 2006, I travelled to San Jose, Costa Rica with my sister, Erin to meet up with the rest of our Habitat team led by an amazing woman, Mary. She told us what we’d be doing over the next week or so and gave us a brief history about Habitat for Humanity, before we headed out to Buenos Aires, the village we would be building a house in.


My sister, Erin, and I digging trenches in Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity

Our build started with digging trenches for the foundation. It was long, hot work, but at the end of the day I would leave the site feeling great.  I couldn’t really speak much with the locals who were there helping, but their warmth and generosity was immediately evident.  The family we were building the house for was there working alongside us every day accompanied by their young daughter, who spent the days playing in the dirt, smiling and laughing.


The team of volunteers and locals at the construction site

As the week rolled on, we started putting in the posts, mixing cement by hand and starting to put up the walls.  Going into this, I had very little construction knowledge. Now, here I was, in a foreign country, trying to communicate with the contractor in a foreign language and helping build a much needed home for a wonderful young family who, without Habitat, likely wouldn’t have had an adequate place to raise their daughter.


Holding up the corner posts while the cement was poured

That’s the beauty of this organization.  Bringing people together and teaching us that with a little love and a hammer, we can make a difference in someone’s life, while at the same time, they are making a difference in ours.


                  The walls are going up!

Back home, I couldn’t stop talking about this incredible experience and vowed to do another build and continue my involvement with Habitat as soon as possible. Then life got in the way and there was always something else to do. Several times a year, I would look at the Global Village page and start thinking about where I’d like to go next and I would visit the Habitat Toronto page and say I’m going to do a build in my own city, but never followed through.

On September 14th, I’m finally keeping my promise to myself by participating in Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build in Toronto along with my sister, Allison, to help build a better home for a family from the GTA who is struggling with their current housing situation.

I’m incredibly excited to be working with Habitat again and am currently fundraising to help with the build.

If you’d like to make a donation of any amount to support us, we would be very grateful! It’s easy – all you need to do is click the link below and it will take you to my fundraising page. Click on “Donate Now!” and you’re all set! 🙂

Thank you so much for your generosity!

xo   Crystal

Crystal’s Fundraising Page

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Montreal Craft Brewery Tour

Montreal is a gorgeous city.  Head down to Old Montreal and you almost feel like you’ve touched down in Europe with the old buildings and cobblestone streets. Here, street performers are abundant and the Basilica at night is a sight not to be missed.


Apart from the beautiful setting, Montreal is a foodie’s playground, with just about every type of food you can imagine found within her streets. Treats from around the world, as well as local classics like Montreal smoked meat, steamies and poutine.

While the food is good, the craft beer scene here is great and constantly growing.

Here’s just a sampling of what Montreal has to offer the beer lover.


1219 Crescent Street, Montreal


Frosty Morning brew    

The unique layout of this place, with three bars spread across three floors, Brutopia is a great spot for the craft beer lover. They brew a bunch of their standard beers directly on site, including an IPA, Honey, Brown Ale, Blonde and a fruity Raspberry Blonde (which is my fave!).  Throughout the year, they also offer selections like a Chocolate Stout, Scotch and Cream Ales like Frosty Morning, plus many more. Brutopia imports other craft and micro-brewed beer, so their stock is always changing.  Aside from the beer, the neat thing about Brutopia is they have a viewing deck overlooking the stage, where they routinely host live music, open mic and trivia nights.

Dieu du Ciel

29 Laurier Avenue West, Montreal


Dieu du Ciel is the perfect place to end your Montreal Brewery tour as they are open seven days a week until 3am. With a beer menu that is updated constantly (They rotate up to 17 different styles on tap), visiting beer drinkers often head straight here to see what’s new. Always packed with both locals and those just visiting, Dieu du Ciel is known as a contender for top beer spot in the city.  Whether you’re looking to warm up in the winter or cool down in the summer, this is the spot. Favourites, like the creamy Aphrodisiaque and the coffee-infused Péché Morte make a stop here worth it. Add their more experimental brews and a visit here is an essential and worthy one.


 Chai Ale at Dieu du Ciel

L’amère À Boire

2049 Saint Denis Street, Montreal


Trying a flight or two at L’amere a boire

L’amère À Boire specializes in classic English, German and Czech ales and lagers, from Hefeweizen to Czech-style pilsner.  They also have a great selection of tapas and seasonal menus to pair with their 22 house beers, including the German-inspired Montreal Hell Lager.  The bar itself has a sleek, café vibe to it, with a loft, backyard terrace and a small patio out front for the summer if you’re looking for a quick beer (or flight) along St. Denis.

Benelux Brewpub

245 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal


 A perfect summer drink- Pamplemousse 

Benelux Brewpub has two locations offering a menu of a dozen or more craft beer at each spot. They switch up the selection available, moving between old favourites and new contenders. The focus is on Belgian and American styles, with interesting one-offs like Amalgame, a sour brown with cherries aged on oak for one year, or the refreshing summer Pamplemousse. There are plenty of options ranging between blondes, ales and stouts. When hunger hits, Benelux offers the $7 Eurodog and praise is unanimous that it’s a must-try.

Les 3 Brasseurs

1356 Saint Catherine Street West, Montreal


            Blanche brew at 3 Brasseurs

Started in France and now with four locations in Montreal, Les 3 Brasseurs is more than just a restaurant and pub chain. They maintain a steady menu of beer crafted on site, including a White, Blonde, IPA, Amber and Brown. In addition, they offer a monthly brew and a seasonal brew, always keeping a new beer inspiration part of their brewing routine. There’s plenty to choose from in the way of food and they specially design menu options to be paired with certain beer.

Next time you’re in Montreal, be sure to cross at least a few of these breweries off your list!DSC_0031

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