Taking on Toronto

*photo slideshow at the end of post. click photo to go to the next one*

Hey friends! I called this blog "Taking on Toronto" because it was my first time traveling to a new country and city solo. I realize it's just Canada, but let me have my Destiny's Child "Independent Women" moment okay? My flight landed at 10 am while Justin's landed at 8 pm so I had some time to kill. I decided to adventure, mapping out my stops by area and day one, I walked A LOT. I don't necessarily regret that, but Uber is so cheap there, if I could go back I would've just done that everywhere to cover more ground. So, before we went I made a list of "Must-Do's" based on other blogs. This included going to BYOB, seeing the TORONTO sign and Simcoe Wave Deck.  

Day ONE: I typed directions to the TORONTO sign in my maps app and started walking. It was a cool sight to see, but nothing to write home about. Then I went down to see the Simcoe Wave Deck and loved hanging out by the water. It's a cool little deck that makes you wonder how the idea came about. It's so fun to see how other countries operate, even just the names of their grocery stores and seeing their street signs. I'd heard rave reviews about the Distillery District so I started walking that way because 1. I had all the time in the world 2. I wanted to get a lay of the land by walking it. I walked along the water and enjoyed the beautiful weather for way too many miles. Just when I thought my feet were going to fall apart, I stumbled upon Sugar Beach. Oh. My. Gosh. You HAVE to go to Sugar Beach. It was so cute and gave my feet the rest they needed before continuing. The pink umbrellas and white sand are just adorable. 

Once I rested up, I went to the Distillery District, which ended up being my absolute favorite area of Toronto. The exposed brick and cobblestones are so beautiful. The industrial feel sends you back into history and they have some super cute shops there. Then, for the first time, I ate lunch at a restaurant alone. It felt weird, but by the end, I loved being able to people watch and enjoy a fireside taco fest at El Catrin. The food was great and it was a really cool spot. It came highly recommended and I support that. My next stop was coffee. Obviously. Odin coffee to be exact OoOo cause you know I'd walk 1,000 miles if I could just...see..you... if I could just...hold...you....toniiiiiiight. (Ode to coffee, thanks, Vanessa Carlton). Idk where that came from. Moving on. It was a cutie trendy coffee shop and it was also the most delicious Almond Milk Latte this Basic has ever had. I went back to the hotel to recharge my phone and enjoy this deliciousness, via Uber. 

I had previously read about BYOB, so I had to find it. Does it get any cuter than this shop of elixirs? No, no it does not. Do I drink enough cocktails at home to need anything in the store? No, no I do not. Did I walk out after spending $50? Yes, yes I did..... there are two locations and I went to both and you should too. Ugh, I loved it so much. So many shiny cutey things. Okay, my last stop of the day was The Vog Vault. For a unique and fun photo, go here. it's inside a shoe store that I walked in pretending like I liked the shoes, but they are...different...to say the least. Anway, I got my photo and bolted, which you can see below. It's a super cute idea and smart marketing on getting people to come into your store ha. When Justin finally arrived, we went to Hair of the Dog for dinner on Church St. by our Hotel. It was calm, cool pub that wasn't loud and had great food. A WIN! We turned in early to get an early start on day 2. 

Day TWO: Our main goal for this trip was to see Niagara Falls because I LOVE waterfalls and my husband is the best. I'm so glad we ended up staying in Toronto and renting a car to go to the falls for the day because Niagara is SUPER touristy. Like, more than I imagined. A mini golf course with giant dinosaurs, arcades and rides, and it pretty much just felt like a miniature version of Las Vegas. No thank you. We hurried to the Falls and stood in awe. They are so gorgeous. I knew they would be, but really. SO gorgeous. As much as I wanted to get closer to them, I didn't want to get soaking wet on a boat with 100+ strangers on the Maid of the Mist, so we ended up driving to the White Water Walk and doing this much less crowded adventure and stayed dry. I LOVED it. You could read a little bit of history and have a closer look at the gorgeous water. I highly recommend this and I think it was ~$15/person. We had heard about wineries in the area, so we chose to swing by the Redstone Winery as it was named the 2017 Winery of the Year. We enjoyed a couple of glasses and some fries. This is a beautiful place that was easy to get to. After this, we made the drive back to Toronto proper and I think we ended up getting Wendy's and just turning in super early. I know, so lame, but Justin had had a crazy work week with another one coming up and needed to just do nothing for a few hours. Since I did a ton of exploring the day before, I was fine with it. Oh, by the way, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott which has Starbucks in the lobby and smells good & clean. That's all I need ya know? Here are some fun facts about Yonge St, which is what our hotel was on. 

Day THREE: Because my husband had us listen to Drake the entire way back to Toronto, we felt obligated to swing by OVO, which is his storefront in Toronto. It also happened to be right by the brunch place I was hoping to take us to…which was closed because it was Toronto’s Thanksgiving holiday. We ended up at La Palma, and I’M SO GLAD WE DID!!! It was such a cute place with a delicious Nutella donut and great avo toast. It’s definitely a must. After brunch, we went to Kensington Market which is a ton of vendors and shops outside. It felt very Austin, TX which I enjoyed, but other than the CXBO chocolate shop, eh. I think my hopes were too high. Once we ate chocolate and went to the second BYOB location, we headed to Graffiti Alley. A fun little photo spot that is tucked away in an alley...obviously. 

To end our blissful weekend trip, we went to the Toronto Islands. YALL. Spend at least half of a day here. It's so cute and Martha's Vineyard-y. The best part was probably the Toffee Blondie from The Refectory Cafe but renting bikes and riding around the island is so dreamy. 

So that was our Toronto trip and here's just a bonus tip: DO NOT FLY PORTER AIRLINES. I fly quite often and know how to pack my items carefully so nothing is messed up or broken. Yall, every bit of my makeup that could've been broken, was broken. It was a small carry on bag (their bins are too small for you to put your carry on in the actual bin) so they had to gate check it. You'd think not much could go wrong in such little handling, but they are really rough with your stuff.  

Funny story: we tried to take this trip a month prior, but we discovered that Justin's passport was expired the night before we were supposed to leave. hahahahha Give him a hard time about it next time you see him ;) Below are some photos! 

 

Cutie Little Charleston

Last week we took a little celebration trip to Charleston, SC. It's the beginning of a new chapter for the Glenns (career-wise, nothing else everyone calm down) and Justin is a master trip planner, so why not!? We were there for 5 days in the most relaxing city I've ever been in. Cutie little Charleston. This city is rich with history and gorgeous, green trees that stole my heart away. *all pics at the end of post*

We flew in on Sunday & checked into our hotel, the Grand Bohemian. Yall, this place was so cool. It's an art museum and hotel in the perfect location right by King St. I definitely recommend it! We bopped around the area, walked up and down King St. to check out the shopping scene & took a carriage ride to hear some history of the city. It felt similar to the French Quarter in NOLA, so I felt right at home. We ended our evening with fried chicken and seafood at Leon's. Love the vibe in this place and we both tried chargrilled oysters, which were actually pretty good! Neither of us are oyster fans, so that was a nice surprise.

As my love for greenery and beautiful trees goes, we had to stop by Angel Oak on Monday. Justin probably felt small for the first time in his life. It's a beautiful ~400 year old tree that is huuuuuge. Justin was really excited to be near a beach for the first time in a while, so our next stop was Kiawah Island. It was too windy to play on the beach, but we ate at the Ryder Cup Bar and enjoyed the beautiful view of the golf course meeting the sand. It was a bit of a drive, but the Crispy Shrimp was absolutely worth it. SO GOOD. When we left there we stopped in a few cutie antique shops and dreamt of a day when we could decorate a house with old and new furnishings. We got some afternoon refuel at The Daily per our friend's recommendation (check out Elaine's AMAZING lifestyle blog, HERE) and popped into The Port Mercantile at the Restoration Hotel. It's SUPER cute and reminded me of my dear White's Mercantile in Nashville.

One of the best parts of this vacation was that we napped every day. Heaven, I tell ya. The other best part? Xiao Bao Biscuits. This.place.will.change.your.life. Go hungry and get the cabbage pancake and duck something (sorry, I can't remember the name). Seriously. This food was incredible and coming from someone who is from Louisiana and lived in Nashville, that says a lot! 

Two things we do in every city we visit: 1. Get a magnet 2. Find the best donuts. There were a few places we researched, but one was mentioned multiple times, so we landed at Glazed first thing on Tuesday. When we went in, I had low expectations because, well, I have my preferred donut spots. However, Justin got the pistachio donut and it was delicious! It tasted like the perfect moist, cake donut and I'm not even a huge fan of pistachio but I recommend it for sure! We wanted to get some more history under our belt since we mainly have just been eating through the city, so we went to Boone Hall.  We learned more about the Gullah culture and the reality of slavery - take your time here to feel the gravity of this history. After a few hours there, we sought another beach on Sullivan's Island. The cutest restaurant greeted us & we ate at The Obstinate Daughter. Such a cute restaurant & you can walk to the beach from it! The wind got the best of us at the beach again, so we headed back downtown where we hung out by the water at sunset & enjoyed the breezy weather and walked around Rainbow Row. We decided that the city wasn't actually real and we were on a movie set because it was too perfect, not a single piece of litter in sight.

Wednesday brunch was at Hominy Grill - you just can't go wrong here - and then we rented bikes to ride around the city. This day was probably my favorite because we didn't have any plans really. We just rolled with the punches. We enjoyed the scenery on bikes that we rented for $7/hour and when lunch rolled around we stopped by Goat.Sheep.Cow to pick up some cheeses, wine, etc. & picnicked in Battery Park. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. It was so fun, relaxing and just delicious! (Thank you Katelyn for the recommendation!) After we went back to the hotel and cleaned up a little, we went to a BYOB candle making class at Candlefish! This is a MUST DO. We had so much fun and got to take home 2 candles each! Rachel was our Chandler & she did a great job teaching us! Candle making works up an appetite and we hadn't stopped talking about Xiao Bao Biscuit since we left, so... we went back. It was still amazing. I want it right now actually. 

Departure day came quick and without warning. Thursday morning, The Park Cafe . All I have to say is get their Mint & Mocha coffee creation. It is delicioussss!!!! Perfect morning treat. We only had time for a few more stops, so to Folly Beach we went! Warm & windy is the Charleston way. We hung out on a pier until we had to head to the airport and kiss our sweet little vacation goodbye. Charleston is super cute and I recommend it for a 2-3 day visit. Have you been? What did you do & where did you go?

Hearts & Rockets, 

Ainsley

A really long blurb of our wedding...

Dylan Howell Photography (all ceremony photos)

Dylan Howell Photography (all ceremony photos)

When I was a kid, I didn't necessarily have a dream wedding. 

To be very honest with you, I never really saw it in my future. 

One time my aunt (who is only 6 years older than me) married me off to my uncle (who is only 4 years older than me) around the ripe age of 7, but my toilet paper veil was the extent of my wedding experience.

 

My single mother raised me to appreciate a good man, like my Poppa, but independence was our style. You can imagine my surprise when I met Justin on July 10, 2014 and knew within minutes that I HAD to spend forever with the most loving, patient, attractive, smart, etc. man I'd ever laid eyes on. This was the man my family prayed for.

 

Thank the Lord, he felt the same way. Well, it took him a year and some change to realize it, but on January 1, 2016 he asked for my hand in marriage (in Central Park and from morning to night, he planned the most incredible day, but this post will be long enough without getting into those details.)

 

So the adventure began. "Wait. I have to like... plan a wedding..." I thought. Sheer panic ran through my body.  What are the rules? Colors, dresses, bridesmaids, caterers, videographers and photographers, OH MY!  I began my research and scrolled for miles on Pinterest every night. T'was a daunting task for a new NYC resident whose family was in a different time zone, worked a full time job and was trying to start a non-profit all at once. Alas, my superhero of a mother helped me take this bull by the horns and organize my absolute dream wedding + celebration. 

 

Some of my most wonderful memories through my life happened in the state of Colorado. Ski trips with the family when I was younger in Breckenridge, (DON'T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW IT'S NOT A SNO CONE) Aspen in high school for a summer trip with friends, Vail for another ski trip in college and the night after I met Justin, I was headed to Denver for a trip with my dad and brother. Sitting by the fire, surrounded my mountains, Justin and I would talk on the phone for hours, as if we were in high school all over again. 

 

I pitched the idea to my mom. "Is it crazy to do a ceremony with just the family in Colorado and then do a reception at home?" It was indeed crazy, but that became the plan. 

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Let's fast forward to wedding day, shall we?

 

That morning was peaceful and relaxing. My Fiance had sent Starbucks and flowers over with my mom & I put on Dave Barnes, "Good Day for Marrying You" on repeat. Our hair + make up artist came over to get us all dolled up and really, we just went through our checklist and enjoyed the morning together. Hummingbirds hovered around the windows and the weather was perfect. A small chill in the morning, but as soon as the sun touched your skin, it felt like a hug from Jesus. Colorado weather is my favorite. 

 

 My sisters played board games and our videographers + photographers captured our precious moments. My something borrowed was my Grandmother's jewelry, something blue was the sapphire in her ring, something old was my great grandmother's handkerchief and something new were my shoes! Grandmother, mom and I all had a heartache at once when we all wondered what my Poppa would think of all of this. He passed unexpectedly 9 months prior & it was still a mystery how we all managed to survive without him around. We were missing our "standard" of a man. I'm so thankful that the Lord had someone for me that reflected many of his characteristics. 

 

Justin sent a gift over for me, and I sent one over for him. Mine was a beautiful rose gold necklace with our wedding date engraved and a LV purse I'd been dreaming of for years. His was my precious grandfather's Rolex. Justin felt the weight of the sentiment and felt so humbled when he opened the original box that Poppa had when he first celebrated the success of the business he built from the ground up. 

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It was time to load up + move out! Off to the first look. Shoutout to my mom for helping me morph into a could so my dress wouldn't drag the ground on our way to the spot!

 

After that, we may have gotten lost on the way to the ceremony, but only 15 people were waiting, so I wasn't as worried as I would've been had it been a chapel full of friends + family. 

 

My dad walked me down the dirt road (aka: aisle) to the tune of Johnnyswim's "We Can Take The World" to my tall, handsome, precious fiance who would become my husband. Side note: we found our ceremony spot the day before when we were just exploring, so I'm thankful that part worked out juuuust in time. 

 

We exchanged our own vows and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery with our immediate family. Our best cheerleaders. 

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Three weeks later, we invited all of our friends and extended family to celebrate our marriage in Lafayette, LA. God performed miracle after miracle during my wedding season, because we found our reception venue 5 days before the actual reception. Why would we do that, you ask? Well, we planned on having the reception at my parent's home and on my wedding day when we were all blissfully enjoying the Colorado weather, their house was flooding in the crazy, unforeseen Louisiana floods. Non stop rain didn't originally concern us, until one of my mom's friend's said, "We have to use a boat to get to your house." So the three weeks in between was actually us scrambling around trying to find a venue and other last minute details, praying that we wouldn't have to cancel it because many people were coming in from out of town. 

 

God is good and our venue was the most beautiful place I could've ever asked for, probably even better/easier than if it had been at our home anyway!  We still wanted to honor our friends and show them how much they meant to us, so our bridal party attended a welcome party the night before and we treated it all the same, only they didn't walk down an aisle. I gave my bridesmaids a color and they picked their own dress. We all got ready together the morning of the reception and drank mimosas out of disco ball cups. 

 

My absolute favorite part of the reception was the video. Because we wanted our guests to see what the ceremony was like, we projected a 5 minute video onto a screen and had a vocalist sing "ILYSB" by Lany during the video. Then, we were announced and came out for our first dance. 

 

Since we had already had our wedding night, we decided not to have a grand exit, but a grand entrance instead! Our guests each had sparklers and stood around in a circle during our first dance as husband and wife. 

 

Then, we cut the cake, drank some drank and danced the night away!!! We didn't sit down once and as everyone warns, it was all a blur. I absolutely loved having our ceremony and reception separate, so we could pack as many sweet memories into one season as possible. I want to do it all over again, but I'll just keep looking at these photos and videos instead. Sigh. 

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If you'd made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I'm 2.5 hours in of typing, and now plan on taking a nap. Thanks for coming down memory lane with me and if you have any wedding questions, I feel like I learned SO much during this season. Happy to answer :) 

 

Cheers to a lifetime of adventure and non-traditional living with the most genuine, Jesus loving man, Justin Glenn. 

 

#GlennForTheWin #GeauxingGlenn #GoneGlenn

9/14/2015

My first week in NYC is officially complete and I’m onto the second. 

Last week was FULL of new exciting things as well as a little hesitation from fear of the unknown/future/etc. 

My mom and I flew into the city and had the most interesting journey in making it to my apartment in the East Village. In short, the one hour (two max) commute ended up taking four hours. Yes, four. One highlight was that my mom, bags in tow, got stuck in the subway entry turny whirly thing and I mean, stuck. Alarms ringing, man scolding & spilled purse kind of stuck. It was so epic I couldn’t even be embarrassed. I just had to survive it. ha! She handled it like a champ, which I wouldn’t have done. She laughed it off and we walked away with a big ole lesson learned. For anyone moving to NYC with four large suitcases, just get a cab from the airport. Just don’t even try to subway it home. 

We made two IKEA trips and I’m finally settled in. I love my area, though my room is probably the size of your closet. It’s quaint. 

I began working at MACPresents on 9/8. The first day was quite a whirlwind trying to jump in and comprehend all sorts of information, but the office is full of kind souls, so that helped! 

 

As with any sort of life transition, it’s a test of character, strength, joy and stability. 

When I go through transitions, I like to ease the pain by preoccupying my mind with binge watching a television show. Why? I’m not sure, but this time, Revenge is my current cure. Man.. I’m in deep with this one. 

 

I’m most excited about the personal, professional and spiritual challenges, revolutions and journeys that I’ll experience here in the Big Apple. 

Stay tuned.

 

-Ainsley B.

 

PS- any restaurant, date ideas, fun things, cool people in NYC or other suggestions are welcome. yay!