I love Toronto

I love Toronto, yes more than Houston, I admitted it. Toronto has become one of my favorite cities in North America and here is why. 

1. Culture. Every street in this city has character. If you really plan it out, you can experience something new every weekend in a different part of the city.You can find people from every country in the world living in Toronto. The ethnic diversity is so deep and rich that it can be seen in the number of festivals and restaurants throughout the city. 
 
2. Restaurants. I am not a foodie but love trying out new places in the city with my husband. We frequently turn to Blog TO for recommendations for all the “Best of Toronto” lists the blog features.

3. Seasons. I love that I get to experience all four seasons as this is something entirely new to me in Toronto. I especially love the Fall and the beautiful colors around the city, which we often enjoy by going on long walks to view all the beautiful fall foliage around the city. 

4. Museums. My favorite museum is the recently opened, Aga Khan Museum which houses Islamic Art in a beautifully designed building and If you haven’t been, you must visit. In fact, every Wednesday between 6PM-8PM you can visit the museum for free. Check out the video below on the Museum. 

5. Convenience. I love that if you don’t have a car you can get around the city and surrounding towns with no problem, with the exception of train and bus delays. Also, I love that Toronto is in close proximity to wonderful destinations in Canada and the U.S., which we often taken advantage of by taking road trips and thus far our favorite road trip has been to Pittsburgh! 

What do you love about Toronto? What do you suggest I try out in Toronto?

 

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Getting started with Running

Welcome back friends! If you have decided to register for the Disney Marathon or even a local Marathon/Half Marathon, BRAVO!! For those of you who don’t know anything about the Disney World Marathon, read about it here, you will be convinced!

Throughout this journey of preparing for your run, you have to stay positive. Your legs, body and muscles you never knew existed in your body will hurt however you will have an amazing  and healthy body as a result of it! 

I started with a training plan and followed it strictly by taking the dates from the training plan and adding it to my Google Calendar, this way I received alerts every morning for the number of miles I had to run. Pick the best training plan that fits your goal, there are also tons of free plans available! Below are a few of my recommendations on how to get started with running: 

  • Eat enough carbs (aka carb loading) to help with your weekly mileage. 
  • Strength train. I didn’t do enough of this and trust me I wish I did. 
  • Rest! You don’t have to run for 5 hours straight, you can walk for a few minutes in between and you don’t have to run 7 days a week. 
  • Determine what your goal is, is it to finish or finish by a certain time? My goal is always to finish, however, pretty soon I do want to run a half marathon in 2 hours. 
  • Pick out awesome running clothes and shoes! 
  • Take advantage of beautiful spring days to get in a run, its the best time. 
  • Download your favorite type of music, it will help you run for 4-6 hours!
  • After the run, soak in epson salt and hot water, next day you won’t even feel that you ran a Marathon. Trust me it works, I was in heels the next day! 

When you cross the finish line the training will all be worth it, especially when you receive your beautiful finishers medal, wear it with pride.

Are you a runner, what do you do to prepare for a run? 

Coping with Wedding Planning

Wedding planning can be stressful and nerve wracking, however, it doesn’t have to be. During our wedding planning process, we planned over 5 events for our guest for the entire weekend who came from all over the world. This required organization, patience, and time (and of course money). 

Looking back to 2.5 years ago when we started wedding planning, I was nervous that our wedding events wouldn’t look like the pictures from my “wedding planning” Pinterest board or that our wedding would be boring! Sameer quickly made me realize that no one will remember the details of the event like we will therefore we should pick what we like and make it as complex as we want. It didn’t have to be a big fat Bollywood wedding, however, it can be a big fat Ramzanali-Dhanjee wedding. 

Let me share some advice with Brides, especially, South Asian Brides. 

– Breathe through the entire process and enjoy every minute of wedding planning,  even if if it gets brutal! At the end of the day, its not about the color of the tablecloth, but about building a stronger bond with your significant other during the process of picking out the color of the tablecloth. 

– Stick to what you and your significant want on your special day. If you want a small wedding, stick to it. We had a little over 200 friends and family attend our special day when typically South Asian wedding generally have over 400+ guests. We wanted  informal events where we could mingle with the guests therefore we did many things out of the norm. 

– Bring fun into wedding planning by looking at how you can personalize details in the event. We had custom cake toppers made to reflect our personalities and hobbies, check out the pictures below. We also had table signs that looked like street signs, which had every street name that was special to us. For example, we had the street name of the hospital that we were born in, every street we lived in our lives, and even the street name of the airports we frequently flew out of since the airport played an important part in our relationship. 

– If you get stressed, honestly, step away for a few hours or even days from it. Vendors are not going anywhere so just take a break! 

– Remember to always spend time talking to your Fiancé  about things other than wedding planning. Seriously, picking out centerpieces and table clothes gets boring.

– Get your family and friends involved. They will appreciate it, plus it will allow you to make memories with them before you become a Mrs. 

– Create a spreadsheet and create tabs for everything you are pricing out. No one is going to judge you. 

Enjoy every minute of it, you are going to miss it! 

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Custom wedding topper by The Little Gift Box Photo Credit: The Little Gift Box

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Check out the level of detail on the dolls! We are wearing shirts of our favorite teams and i’m carrying a pair of running shoes! Photo Credit: The Little Gift Box

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29th for the day of our wedding and 20th for our engagement anniversary Photo Credit: The Little Gift Box

  

Long Distance Relationships

Long distance relationships are hard but well worth it when you see your loved one after a long while.

Long distance relationships in my mind can be a relationship with your significant other, family, or friends. Since 2001, I have been in a long distance relationship whether it was with my family, friends or my husband. With the technology today, it is very easy to maintain the relationship in my mind, however it can still be very challenging. You can have constant access to the person whether its by phone, text, social media, FaceTime, etc. 

Sameer and I maintained a long distance relationship for more than 2 years before we started living in the same city, which was after we were married. I can honestly say that our relationship is stronger because of our experience living far from each other and visiting one another every 6 -8 weeks. Currently, my long distance relationship is with my Family, which is a bit hard however FaceTime has really helped! 

Below are my tips to get through a long distance relationship: 

– Enjoy every minute of your relationship whether its long distance or if the person lives 2 minutes from you, the memories you make will help make your relationship stronger. 

– Plan every visit when you see them. Do fun and exciting things with the person. For example, Sameer and I always planned a trip to a city in the U.S. which we could explore together. We explored Boston, Washington D.C., Austin, San Antonio, and many more. 

– Communicate daily. Share all experiences throughout your day. Overshare, it will make you feel like the person was there during the experience. My family always made fun of me for taking a picture of everything I did. For example, if I saw something interesting during rush hour traffic, I would take a picture and send it to Sameer. I do the same now and share it with my parents and siblings.  

– Say ” I Love You”. These three words are important to make the person realize they are important and mean a lot to you.

I do have to admit that when you are away from the person during anniversaries, birthday, or special occasions that call for a celebration, it does get tough, however, video chat the person an extra few minutes that day! It will help! 

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Birthday trip to Washington D.C. in 2012

 

Running Obession

Before moving back to Houston from Washington D.C., I picked up running as a hobby to stay in shape. Running is still my favorite hobby as this allows me to explore and keep active. As a child, I hated participating in active sports since I was always a slow runner and still am. However, when I run marathons I never have a time goal just a goal of completing the marathon. What keeps me determined the entire race is getting the beautiful medal at the finish line and not to mention, the big breakfast right after. 

In November 2008, I did my first half marathon in San Antonio. To date, I have completed more than 15 half marathons and 1 full marathon. My first full marathon, Disney World Marathon, was my favorite race that I have ever run.  I ran the Disney World Marathon  in 2010 with a few friends in Orlando.

If you have any aspiration to run a marathon, I would highly suggest the Disney World Marathon. The 26 miles are through 4 theme parks and even through the Cinderella Castle! Check out the video below that shows the entire course in less than 3 minutes! 

If you have decided to run based on my recommendation of running the Disney World Marathon stay tuned and I will share with you how you can go from 0 miles to 26 miles in no time! 

Here are some Pictures from the Disney World Marathon! 

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Finish line picture. Focus on the medal!

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Cinderella Castle – Mile 10

               

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My friends and I at the start line

What makes you happy?

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

The first day of Spring is the perfect way to celebrate the International Day of Happiness! Yes that exist. 

Happy International Day of Happiness Yall!

Last Friday while watching our daily fix of Netflix we stumbled across a movie called “Happy”. I would highly recommend this movie! It started with questioning people on the street, what does happiness mean to them? People answered with the usual, money, good job, family, friends, etc.  Towards the end of the movie, they shared a story about a man who basically gave up everything to volunteer as a care taker at a hospital in India. I love the quote by the man stating the nature of his existence, “My life is a loan from God, and I’m paying it back with interest.”

Let me ask you the same question, what makes you happy? 

Volunteering makes me happy. Doing a good deed for someone makes me happy. Making someone happy makes me happy, is that weird? The quote above from Anne Frank gives me inspiration. Giving is not only about material resources but of time and knowledge as well. 

To keep me sane (or I think), I manage a few projects on a volunteer basis. I enjoy doing this so much that I have sacrificed my free time after work to complete these projects. This makes me happy, so why not right? My favorite campaigns that I volunteer for are focused on children literacy and global poverty. 

Be sure to also check out this article! The 8 Things the Happiest People Do Every Day

What good deed have you done lately?

Bargain Shopping

For those that know me, I love shopping, but not just shopping, I love bargain shopping. I buy things if I see a good deal on it or if there is an extra discount applied. I rarely will purchase anything on regular price because as a marketer, I know stores will have promotions or the item will be discounted if I just wait patiently for a couple of weeks. If it still doesnt go on sale, I know that I can buy it online or get the item price matched at a store that honors price matching.

As someone in the Marketing field, I am pretty disappointed at myself because when I get a promotional offer in my email, I most often fall for them and purchase something even if I dont need it. Let me share some of my tips, good luck resisting buying unnecessary items! Below are tips for both my American and Canadian readers! 

1. Sign up for emails for the store you love. For example, if you love Bath and Body Works subscribe or sign up to receive promotional offers, every week you will be sent special offers that are targeted for email subscribers. 

2. Look into price matching policies at stores if you are at a store and attempting to purchase something full price. I know BestBuy has an amazing price match policy, we recently saved a few hundred dollars at BestBuy because of their price match policy!  Check out this link for more price matching policies in Canada. 

3. Visit Smartcanucks or Redflag Deals to find the best  deals for everything and anything in Canada. Smartcanucks is one of my favorite sites, I end up buying a whole lot of unnecessary items every week because of this!

4. Visit Slickdeals for the best deals in the U.S. on anything and everything. 

5. If you really need to buy something full price and you don’t have any email coupons, simply Google “xyz store coupons” on your smartphone and more than likely you will find a coupon or a promotional offer to use on your purchase. 

6. Use Retailmenot to search for deals and promotions at your favorite stores. There is also an app which is great! 

Enjoy splurging on unnecessary purchases! 

Do you have a favorite bargain website you regularly check? I would love to hear how you control yourself from buying random things you don’t need?? 

REceRecent unnecessary and random purchases

Southern Hospitality

When I lived by myself in Austin, TX and Washington D.C. I never cooked, wait let me rephrase, I never cooked anything elaborate or fancy. My culinary arsenal consisted of merely 2-3 ingredients, pasta, pasta sauce, veggies, and chicken. Easy. Simple. Fast. However, since we got married, I have been whipping up some fancy dishes with the help of my Mother, Mother In Law and of course Pinterest. 

Luckily my husband loves to cook as much as I do, and on the weekends we generally experiment with recipes. This week we made pizza which was amazing and likely due to the champion rolling skills of Sameer who prepared the dough, or what he calls the “heart of the pizza”. This pizza was in large part created with tray of ingenuity and sprinkle of creativity…in short we made up the recipe as we went along. As we carefully pulled the pie out of the oven the magnificent aroma of mozzarella, grilled chicken, and whiskey BBQ sauce beckoned for our taste buds. A pie this exceptional simply couldn’t be called “the pizza”, it had to be named…subsequently with great pride and affection we dubbed this creation “Southern Hospitality”. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product however it looked similar to the picture below! 

“Southern Hospitality” 

Crust

Recipe – You don’t need to give the dough time to rise however we left it for almost an hour before we rolled it out. Tasted amazing. 

Toppings

Grilled Veggies – Cut small strips of Red and Green Pepper and Onions. Saute the Onions for 5 minutes and add the peppers,  saute for another 5-6 minutes.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika, montreal steak seasoning. 
Grilled Chicken – Marinade the small chicken pieces in BBQ sauce (any brand) with Montreal steak seasoning for about 30 minutes. Saute it for ten minutes until the chicken is cooked half way. Add more BBQ sauce to make the chicken juicy.

Roll out the Pizza Dough and lay on a Pizza pan. Spread Pizza sauce (we used store bought), top it with grilled vegetables and chicken, Mozzarella cheese, and drizzle liberally with BBQ sauce. Stick in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy!!  Anyone have any exciting Pizza recipes or any quick and easy recipes to share?

How to keep your U.S. Number in Canada

I have had my Houston 832 phone number for more than 13 years. There are many memories attached to this number, it has been my companion since the end of High School, to college days in Austin, Washington D.C, and now Toronto. My mom and I also have the same exact phone number with the exception of one digit. There was no way I was going to get rid of the 832 number after moving to a new Country.

I got a 416 number shortly after moving. I was certain that with Google’s help I could keep my 832 number. After researching and reading blogs I found a solution. Below are the steps, its simple! I am sure this can apply to any country! 

What I love about keeping my 832 number is that my family and friends don’t have to pay long distance charges to call me or I don’t have to pay to call them. Also, they don’t have to memorize or even add a new number to their phone! 

The way I kept my 832 number is by porting the number to Google Voice, essentially, Google is now my service provider.

1.) Port your number to Google, these steps are so simple. You will have to check if your number is eligible to port to Google, see screen shot below. There is a one time $20 charge to port your number to Google. 

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2.) If you have a current contract and have some time before the contract expires, call your current U.S. carrier and notify them that you are moving/moved to a non-serviceable area. You will need to submit proof of your new address in Canada and a note explaining why you are cancelling. Doing this will help you avoid termination fees! 

– These steps can be done in any particular order, I sent in the note to T-Mobile before I ported the number to speed things up. 

After 5 days you will receive a notification from Google informing you that your number has successfully been ported and is ready to use. Once you get the confirmation, you have to download two Apps on your new phone or Ipad to use your old number: 

1.) To text: Download the Google Voice App – This App will allow you to  send and receive texts to any number. Pictures will be emailed to your Gmail account. You can also visit Google Voice to text from your computer. 

2.) To make voice calls: Download the Google Hangouts App- This App will allow you to make voice calls, video calls and even message. I think there is a way to text from this App too, however, I have not tried that yet.  

Tip: Ask the people that call you often from the U.S. to download the Google Hangouts App and they can also make free calls to you on your new foreign number. 

In order to receive message real time you have to be connected to Wi-Fi or Cellular Data. 

Hope this helps! Message me if you need help configuring your old number to your new number!  

No sign needed

On my way home today during rush hour, trains were jam packed at Yonge and Bloor. As I stood in line to board the train, the elderly lady in front of me, old enough to be my grandmother, probably in her 80’s, also patiently waited to board the train. As we entered the train there was not a single seat empty even the priority seating was taken and people were standing, what seemed like on top of each other. The Elderly Woman didn’t make a fuss when she didn’t get a seat, however, I made a fuss. I tapped the Elderly Woman and loudly asked if she wanted a seat and people that were sitting around us just looked at me as I had just cussed them out. She quickly said no and stood until finally someone that was a few seats away gave up their seat to her. The Elderly Woman finally sat down after the train started moving. 

TTC has done a great job at posting signs for priority seating, which I don’t think are needed. Giving up seats to people with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women is common sense, do we really need signs to remind us? 

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TTC Priority Seating Sign

On a side note, I just don’t get why people can’t wait until everyone gets off the train before entering the train. I encounter this all the time at Yonge and Bloor. 

Do you encounter any situations like this on your daily commute? What bothers you the most about taking public transit?