The pandemic lockdown of 2020 is starting to ease up in Ottawa and this is a perfect time to start supporting the local businesses who have been hit the worst financially. Today my boyfriend and I went on a drive and decided to get some bubble tea. He happened to be a bubble-tea-virgin until today (I know, crazy, right?).
So right there in the middle of Elgin street was this small and adorably decorated place in a cat theme! I was already sold with the decor and the reviews I had read on the way there were also pretty solid. So the special thing about Meow Tea Ottawa is the customization options for ice and sugar! They literally had it on their menu board and you could choose between 0%, 20%, 50% all the way till 150% of sugar. This was brilliant because I often feel too guilty about getting a drink because there is just too much sugar in a single cup. I tried their Mango Green Milk Tea and I got three extra toppings added on to it for 50 cents each. Yes, I do go a little overboard on the jellies and the tapioca, but that’s the whole point of bubble tea!
It turned out absolutely delicious! Definitely a spot I want to go back to. Also, I realize Elgin Street is just a cool and hip place overall and I think there are a whole bunch of amazing local stores and restaurants to check out there. One more for the bucket list.
There are some moments in life that you want to save in your memory forever. That big belly bump of your first pregnancy, the adorably tiny hands of your toddler in the hands of their great grandparents.. some memories are truly too precious not to be sculpted into your memory. Unfortunately, photographs can only capture so much. That’s why a new way or immortalizing these moments and freeze them in time is by creating a cast and turning it into a decorative sculpture.
Cast Your Life Away is a local Ottawa-based business in Ontario, Canada run by an adorable family of three. Steven, Audrey and Ashley help create unique life casts of hands, feet, pregnant bellies and children/hands & feet using a process that replicates every fine detail. The result is a solid stone sculpture!
Let’s face it, the most adorable aspect of a toddler’s footprint and handprints are lost in pictures without their cute wrinkles and the curling of their tiny toes. That’s one reason we adore Cast Your Life Away‘s beautiful way of setting these memories and the feel of those flesh memories in stone forever. The best part is, they are mobile and can come to your home to get the imprint! If you live in Ottawa or are planning to visit, this might me one family you need to plan ahead with..so you can leave town with something super precious!
With the growth of chain stores and brands in the big cities, it might be easier to find things when we need them, but it has become increasingly difficult to get things that are unique and beautiful in their own ways. This is why my visits to the small town of Perth, Ontario are so special to me. There are specialty stores here featuring locally and nationally made items that I almost never see in Ottawa. Today I’m reviewing four such places and their traditional beauty which instagram-loving millennials like myself would go crazy over!
1. Kelly’s Flowers & Gift Boutique
Within moments of walking into Kelly’s, I felt as though I had been transported to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. In every sense, the store’s decor, contents, and friendly staff with their warm and welcoming smiles will make you feel like it’s Christmas.
Kelly’s is a flower shop and boutique, but what stood out to me the most about this store was their incredibly beautiful collection of Christmas ornaments. Starting from wood, tin, fabric to crystals, they have every kind of ornament you can think of and all of extremely high quality. They have the type of things you will want to add to your family’s Christmas collection for generations to come.
Each item is so delicately crafted and do not even compare to the mainstream, mass produced items that I am used to buying.
Almost everything at Kelly’s is made in Canada and a lot of their items comes in from the town of Peterborough. Their collection of skin care products are made from all natural ingredients and some Canadian brands they carry are 100% vegan. If you’re looking for anything specific – just ask and they will be sure to share more details of the specialty items they offer.
2. Perth Chocolate Works
I thought I was past my sugar cravings after having all that Halloween candy, but visiting this store made me realize what I had been missing out on all this time! Perth Chocolate Works hand makes delicate barks and chocolates in small batches using high quality Belgian Callebaut Chocolate.
Although it originally opened in Manatoulin Island, it experienced increased requests to expand to the Ottawa Valley and soon found a home in Perth.
Items that stood out for me were the handmade truffle bars, bear claws and the incredibly wide selection of jams and jellies. I have quite honestly never seen so many different types of jams and jellies before and can easily imagine myself trying out some with cheese and crackers in the holidays coming up.
The store was quite spacious and I spent almost an hour looking around and checking out the various corners decorated with shelves full of handmade goodies! Even the window ledges were decorated with items you could purchase, and that included these gorgeous wooden cheese boards.
The holiday and sugar buzz almost reminded me of Diagon Alley (in the Harry Potter Universe) with Perth’s boutique little stores and stone buildings running throughout the town. This fluttering feeling of craving some holiday magic led me to the mystical store called Shadowfax.
As soon as you enter through those green doors, you will find yourself in a world of magic, mysticism and spirituality.
From natural crystals to tarrot cards, you will find everything you could possibly seek in this category of items. I loved how there were little notes explaining the name, type and healing effects of the stones. Some were for love while others were to help fight anxiety. I picked up an item for my aunt who has been dealing with lots of stress recently.
Every minute in that store seemed like a moment that I was learning. There were so many types of religious, spiritual and historical symbolism all over the place. The collection of books, too, were rare, fun and insightful!
Shadowbox isn’t just a place to buy things though. They also host events such as tarot card readings, soul glimpse readings, crystal and oracle card readings, palmistry and more!
4. The Crossroads Tearoom
Nothing beats the quaint and ladylike feeling of pouring myself some hot tea in the prettiest of settings. Decorated from floor to ceiling with vintage decor, furniture and accessories, The Crossroads Tearoom is every millennial instagramer’s dream spot to be!
Whether it’s for lunch or an afternoon of high tea with your girlfriends, this tearoom will make you feel like English noblewomen with its vibe.
Starting from the mannequin dressed up in Victorian era clothing and jewelry to the elegant piano casually placed so it truly belongs in the tearoom, you can find yourself transported back in time.
Elegant ladies’ hats, vintage china and paintings all in the theme pastel colours adorn the walls of the tearoom while the furniture is aged and rustic to add to the realism of the setting.
For me, the tearoom brought back nostalgic memories of my Grandmother’s teapots and tea cozy with cups and saucers all ready on a silver tray for afternoon tea time with the family. It also reminded me of Jane Austin books I had read growing up, and ignited an internal fire to want to play adult tea party with my friends (or dollies!).
Vintage tea rooms have surely made a comeback in recent years and are among the trendy places to spend a Saturday morning with your lady friends. Even though they are now sprouting up in the big cities in Canada, there’s no doubt that a certain level of authenticity can be experienced only when you visit ones in beautiful and cozy little towns like Perth.