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How To Choose The Right Wedding Photographer

Choosing the right wedding photographer can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you ask the right questions to get the best fit for you.

We spoke with Toronto based wedding photographer Ian Liwanag from Photo & Co. to get his perspective on what couples should be asking, in order to choose the right photographer that will give them a lifetime of memories to cherish.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
Experience speaks volumes, but what should be of real value is the photographers ability to manage potentially stressful situations. You need a connection with your photographer that allows you to feel comfortable and trusting, so make sure you enjoy being around each other and you trust them to capture your special day. It’s very important to have a mutual understanding of expectations.

How many hours do we have you for or do you provide special packages?
It’s always best to let the photographer know exactly what your needs and expectations are. Some of my clients ask me to capture their whole story from start to finish, from getting ready, to the ceremony, to the venue itself, with all the flowers and decor and of course dancing. While other clients simply want basic coverage of their ceremony with family and friends. 

Can we see your portfolio of past work?
Every professional photographer has a different eye, their work is very subjective and you need to look at their work to determine if their creative approach matches your artistic integrity. It doesn’t matter how recommended they are to you, if your not loving their style you wont love your photos.

Are the photos edited for touch ups?
Basic colour correction like taking care of brightness, contrast, levelling photos should all be included in the post edit. 

How long will it take to get our images back?
An acceptable turn around time is typically 2 months.

A professional photographer will be able to cover all the technical aspects of your wedding day photography, i.e. lighting issues, composition of your photos, attention to detail, there is no “do over” on your wedding day, it’s always best to hire a professional photographer and not “Uncle Bob”.



The Benefits to Off-Site Meetings

It’s time to hold a meeting, and one of your first decisions is wether you should hold the meeting off-site? There are many advantages to off-site meetings, and of course the more effort you put into your meeting the more you will get in return. Off-site meetings have the potential to take ideas to the next level, especially if paired with a team building component, that can reenergize your team, creating new ideas and commitment to company goals. 

You need to find the most effective venue to deliver the message and the physical surroundings of your off-site meetings can make an enormous difference. We can all get bored of the same four walls, stare out of the same windows, and by moving your meeting to an off-site location, you lift some of these barriers that stifle creativity encouraging them to focus more on the matters at hand, because they’re not distracted and they’re more fully engaged.

Replacing the familiar office environment, with a venue that inspires creativity is important to get the best out of everyone’s efforts. Stunning views, historical features all provide an atmosphere to get the creative juices flowing.

Some other benefits to going off-site means you can source a venue with all the latest AV equipment, and some venues provide an in-house AV technician.  This allows you to be more creative with your presentation and when presentations are more engaging, people tend to get more out of them, making your off-site meeting time more effective.

Off-site catering is also a great way to show your appreciation, and when your team is well-fed they will have a more positive attitude towards your meeting and participation levels will be higher, just avoid a lot of high carbs…we don’t want to put them to sleep!

Location matters, don’t forget to factor in travel time to and from the meeting location, and make sure that all attendees have appropriate transportation to get to the meeting on time. Be clear about goals for your off-site, and be sure to create an agenda that reflects and reinforces those goals. Decide if you want the day to be a high-energy working event, a laid-back and relaxing retreat, or a balanced program combining a little of each.

Inspiring creativity and increasing productivity are just some of the benefits to holding your meeting off-site. There is also a common misconception that having your meetings onsite is more cost-effective, but when you look at the benefits of hosting off-site, it’s totally worth it.



Wedding Etiquette In The Age Of Social Media

Social media remains an integral part of daily life for younger generations. For couples who grew up in the age of popular social sharing sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, bringing the online world into their wedding planning is a natural reaction to their constant social media connectivity. When small events in the day are worthy of an update, a milestone as large as a wedding serves as the magnum opus of social media relevancy.

Social sharing and wedding planning, however, don’t always mix well. Wedding planning and the details of the big day often remain subject to certain rules of etiquette. The rules become blurred when sharing online, but there still remains a proper protocol especially as it replies to taking the wedding into the social media realm.

There are lines online that should not and cannot be crossed via social media. While many rules apply to the wedding party, guests are subject to their own set of social guidelines. There are rules of conduct that must not be breached online or in person, and then there are guidelines that apply only to the social media realm.

Follow these simple rules of etiquette when incorporating social media into wedding planning:

For the Bride & Groom:

Request permission from professional photographers before posting any professional pictures online. Most photographers own the copyrights to their photos. Respect the copyright.

Do not share details about wedding registries via social media. Etiquette dictates that word of mouth is the best way to share registry details. Guests should inquire about registries, they should not be told.

Like gift registries, money requests in lieu of gifts should not be promoted via social media. Word of mouth, again, is the proper method to ensure guests know that gifts of cash would be preferred. Also, do not promote sites that solicit funds for a Honeymoon through any social media platform. Links to such sites may be listed on a wedding web site instead.

 

Thank you notes should be hand written, not emailed.

If guests are encouraged to snap shots of the ceremony, set up an online photo sharing site where all snapshots may be uploaded. Candid shots by guests capture the best memories…be sure to save them.

 For the Wedding Party:

Bridesmaids and groomsmen should not post wedding day selfies or pictures online without consent of the bride and/or groom. Imagine the bride’s dress being photographed and posted online before walking down the aisle…and having the groom see it on social media first. All members of the wedding party should discuss any picture posting rules before the wedding date.

 

Posting pictures of debauchery at bachelor and/or bachelorette parties are unnecessary and embarrassing. They might even cost someone a job. Think twice before posting any questionable photographs…no matter how humorous.

Sending updates on the wedding day about any wedding mishap. Small details that go awry can lead into huge meltdowns. Don’t post anything about problems…no matter how miniscule.

Refrain from posting updates about the wedding details. Again, all details should be shared only by the bride and/or groom.

For Guests:

Check with the wedding hosts to inquire about snapping photos during the ceremony or the reception. Some couples prefer that guests not take photos.

Do not request the bride and/or groom to pose for photos. The day is long and overwhelming for them. Respect the boundaries.

Like the wedding party, guests should not upload photos or post any updates regarding wedding details, preparations, etc. Some details should remain private.

Unsure where the couple is registered? Ask! Word of mouth is the best way to find out about registries. Also inquire about a wedding web site, which usually has a host of other information for guests.

Turn off or silence phones during the ceremony and the reception.

Social media has provided a new avenue to share wedding photos, special details and other memories from the ceremony and the reception. However, there are rules and proper etiquette to follow when incorporating social media into wedding planning. Remember: just because something can be posted online, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be posted online…otherwise, the something blue might just be the entire mood of the wedding day.

 



BBQ The Perfect Steak – Recipe Included

BBQ - delicious, flavourful, tender, mesquite, heat, outdoors, friends and family, these are the words that come to mind when we think of a BBQ. Let’s consider the various things you should do before you BBQ the perfect steak.

It is important to allow your steak to reach room temperature, this helps to BBQ a steak faster and more evenly. Just before you grill, brush Olive Oil on both sides and season your steak with black pepper and kosher salt, be generous, seasoning is entirely a personal preference so you can get fancy if you want.

Preheat the grill as hot as it will go before putting on your steaks. Place each steak on the grill for one minute then turn and grill on the second side for an additional minute. Some BBQ’s have a searing section and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out. After searing, turn down your BBQ to a medium heat, or move steaks to the indirect heat side of your charcoal grill to finish cooking. Make sure to turn and rotate your steak 45 degrees and grill for half the remaining cooking time turning over only once on the other side for the remaining time to get a nice diamond pattern of grill marks.

Remove your steak from the BBQ when it has reached your desired doneness. You can use the pressure test to check your steak by using your index finger, press down on the middle of your steak, a rare steak will be soft, a medium steak will be firm but will spring back up, a well done steak will be firm with no spring.

Another important trick is to let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow the natural juices to flow out from the center and redistribute the moisture, leaving you with a perfect, juicy steak, cover with foil to keep warm.

While NY steaks can be seasoned and grilled, other meats, which aren’t as tender, such as flank steak or flat iron steaks need to be marinated a day in advance. Allow the meat to marinate overnight in the fridge. When ready to barbecue remove from marinade, season, and barbecue until desired doneness.

A BBQ wouldn’t be complete without the Old Mill Toronto’s favourite BBQ sauce recipe to enhance your meat. The great thing about this sauce is its versatility, as it goes well with a lot of different proteins such as chicken, wings, quail, ribs, and pork.

BBQ Sauce -

• 1 Bottle of ketchup / 2 cups

• 1 tsp. of mustard seeds

• 5 cloves garlic chopped

• 1 tsp. oregano

• 3 oz of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce 

• 1 oz of packed brown sugar

• 1 Medium Spanish onion chopped

Cook the onions until slightly caramelized, add the garlic and continue cooking until a nice aroma presents itself (approx 1-2 minutes) add brown sugar and cook until you reach a nice deep brown colour. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Let the mixture cool and blend well using a hand held immersion blender or a standard blender and blend until smooth. 

The next time you have friends and family over for a BBQ  keep these suggestions in mind and your guests will be happy and satisfied. Happy barbecuing!



Grilled Shrimp with Citrus Aioli

Perfect summer appetizer that pairs well with a chilled glass of white wine. The citrus dipping sauce is quite refreshing. Use a variety of citrus fruit or use 1-1/2 tsp of grated rind and 1tbsp juice of either orange, lemon or lime.

Serves 4
12 oz. (340 g) raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cumin
Pinch each of cayenne pepper and salt

Citrus Aioli:
1/3 cup (75 ml) light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp (2 ml) grated lemon rind 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) grated lime rind 
1/2 tsp (2 ml) grated orange rind  
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Preparation:
Citrus Aioli: In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, orange, lemon and lime rinds and juices, garlic and pepper. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in air-tight container for up to 2 days).

In a bowl, combine shrimp, oil, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Place shrimp on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate; refrigerate until cold. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in air-tight container for up to 2 days). Skewer with toothpicks and serve with Citrus Aioli.

Simply Delicious!

 



Team Building For Your Meetings & Events

 

In order to work effectively as a team, it is essential to improve communication, motivation, creativity, problem-solving skills and trust among team members. Team building is any activity that enhances interpersonal relationships and communication  among members of a team.

Planning a meeting infused with a team building perspective, improves motivation and job satisfaction. An interactive and challenging Team Building activity, provides people with time together, time to get to know one another and build a shared history, providing a relaxed environment to feel comfortable in sharing their ideas and ultimately improve work quality and productivity as good communication leads to efficiency.

Team Building is the perfect addition to any meeting agenda, improving energy levels that transform ordinary everyday meetings into extraordinary experiences. Improving your  meetings with engaging activities will surprise your team, so let your next meeting  be one that co-workers actually want to attend, make a big impact on your team, and get people talking afterwards. 

 A team that works well together is more effective, more productive, and more successful, not to mention motivated and more fun to work with because they feel recognized.

Infuse your Old Mill Toronto meeting or event with positive energy by integrating unique Team Building or Wellness and Team Bonding Programs into your agenda. These one-of-a-kind experiences take full advantage of the spectacular indoor and outdoor settings at the Old Mill Toronto. Take your meetings to the next level by fostering effective relationships, elevating moral, and making your Old Mill Toronto experience unforgettable!



Your Skin Will Thank You For It!

Coola is a mineral sunscreen that can be found at the Spa at Old Mill Toronto. Mind you it’s hard to keep on the shelves these days as this product is simply amazing and ideal for all skin types and tones, including those that are especially sensitive. Ditch the heavy foundations and powders this summer and try a tinted moisturizer instead, your skin will thank you for it!

Benefits

Keep the sun and environment at bay with this SPF 20 broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, a tinted, light Rose scented, Titanium Dioxide based formula (for those who are Zinc sensitive) made with 98% natural ingredients. Organic Acai Oil – high in Omegas-3/6/9, Vitamins B1/2/3, plus antioxidant Vitamins C and E – delivers a powerful defense against aging. Organic Sunflower Seed Extract promotes elasticity while organic Linseed Oil, containing Alpha-Linolenic Acids, reduces redness and irritation. The phyto-protector Plankton Extract rejuvenates, as organic Cucumber Extract calms skin.

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Paraben Free
  • Ultra Sheer
  • Antioxidant Enriched
  • Water Resistant (40 minutes)
  • No nano-sized particles

Organic Ingredients
Cucumber Fruit Extract
Glycerin
Linseed Seed Oil
Orange Fruit Water
Safflower Seed Oil
Sunflower Seed Extract

COOLA’s Farm to Face approach describes their sourcing methods for local organic ingredients. They believe in sourcing many of their ingredients and vendors locally to promote communities and jobs as well as to cut down on shipping costs both financially and environmentally. In addition, they can use their platform to encourage and sustain local and organic farming! (And we think that’s pretty COOLA!)

BENEFITS OF BUYING LOCAL

 So…is there anything you can do to promote your local community as well as get healthy, nutritious produce? YES! You can buy your produce locally in your own community. By making these purchases you are selecting to choose local, traceable, eco-friendly, and natural food, which is better for you, your family, and the environment. Some other benefits include higher nutritional value, better taste, and a smaller carbon footprint.

Where to find local produce in your neighborhood 

  •     Natural, whole food markets and organic food stores
  •     A Share Program (or CSA- Community Supported Agriculture)
  •     Farmer’s Markets
  •    In your own garden!

Give your skin an immediate line-smoothing finish and fight signs of aging caused by the sun with this antioxidant-infused Farm to Face® sourced broad spectrum SPF mineral sunscreen.



Tomato Feta Basil Salad

This tomato, feta, basil salad is easy to make and it’s a simply delicious Summer salad that everyone will enjoy! Pairs great when served with a crunchy fresh baguette…mmmm

Recipe (serves 6-8)

3 pints (6 cups cherry tomatoes)
3/4 pound Feta Cheese
1 small diced red onion
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 good olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 Tsp. ground black pepper 
2 Tbs. fresh chopped basil
2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley 

Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl. Add the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, basil and parsley to the tomatoes in the bowl. Toss together well. Dice the feta in 1/4 inch pieces, try not to crumble. Gently fold the feta into the salad and serve at room temperature.



Grow your Own Herb Garden

Growing a Herb garden can be a fun and rewarding experience and a great addition to your culinary skills. You can enjoy snipping herbs to add to food, brew in relaxing teas, and toss into your salads. Herb gardening in containers is a useful, attractive addition that is relatively easy to maintain and most varieties can be grown successfully on a windowsill, a patio or a balcony. 

Just about any container will work to grow herbs in but keep in mind, most varieties prefer fast draining soil, so your container must have adequate holes to drain.  Ideally, you will water your container garden only when needed. Feel the soil 2 to 3 inches below the surface, if it is still wet, don’t water.  When you grow plants in containers, it’s important to provide them with a high quality potting soil and for best results, most herb varieties require at least 6 hours of sun per day.   

You can grow herbs in pots together but some types of herbs will out-perform others in containers and remember to avoid mixing those that like plenty of water (such as chives, mint, chervil, coriander,) with those that like a well-drained soil (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, bay, and oregano).

Here are a few herbs you may want to start off with;

Basil

Basil plants are easy to maintain indoors and out. Remember to pinch off the flowering buds whenever they appear.  Not only will basil enhance many dishes, it is also considered one of the healthiest herbs, as basil leaves are rich in antioxidants, it provides an array of health benefits.

Mint

Mint is very versatile, you can use it for everything from tea to mojitos, to mint and coriander chutney. It’s also easy to grow, even in difficult shady spaces that only get a little sun. Growing mint in a pot is best so you can keep it from spreading, which it will do quite easily. Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion.

Chives

Brilliant in salads, snipped up over soups, or added as garnish to many dishes. Growing chives is an easy way to always have a mild onion flavour on hand in your garden.  Also, chives boast pretty lavender blooms in spring, making them attractive herbs for flowerbeds as well as herb gardens. Make sure it doesn’t dry out, as chives like damp soil.

Parsley

Parsley is a hardy herb grown for its flavour, which is added to many dishes, as well as its use as a decorative garnish. Aside from its deliciousness, parsley is a powerhouse of nutrients. Did you know that parsley actually has more vitamin C in it than an orange? Try adding several leaves and stalks to your morning juicing blend.

Sage, Bay, Thyme, Rosemary

Not only are they the most common herbs called for in recipes, but they are also the best herbs that you can freeze for later use. Easy to grow with unique flavours, these classic herbs are excellent for soups, stocks, meats, pastas and more. They don’t like wet roots, so grow in well-drained soil and take care not to over-water. You can grow sage from seeds but the others are better bought as plants.

Coriander

Also known as cilantro, prefers cool weather, so it should be planted in the spring or fall. Coriander adds fresh flavour in everything from salsa to marinades. This plant will survive most winters, and it’ll grow back strong and lush in the spring. Cilantro or coriander herb contains an impressive list of nutrients, essential oils, anti-oxidants that are required for optimal health and wellness.

Everyone loves good food, and herbs grown in your own container garden is simply the best. Chef Martin has recently planted a herb garden at the Old Mill Toronto, and we are growing Basil, Purple Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Dill, Sage and Oregano to enhance our delicious recipes.



Spa Tips For Brides

Planning your wedding can be a little stressful and have you feeling a little exhausted. Of course when it comes to your wedding day, you wan’t to look radiant, and there is no better place to relax and pamper yourself than spending some quality time at the spa. A little time spent at the spa will have you looking your best when you walk down the aisle; so here are a few tips to bring out the gorgeous in you!

 

Facials

If you’ve never had a facial before, you should have a trial facial about 4 months in advance to see how your skin will react. If you’re happy with your results, then schedule another facial with the same therapist, a week or two before you walk down the aisle.

All the stress from your wedding planning will, unfortunately, show up on your skin. You can undo the damage by having a traditional spa facial, which is also great for making your skin a better makeup canvas. This indulgent service is great for all skin types. With exfoliation, toning and moisturizing – facials can be personalized for every skin type to give you that bridal glow.

And then there’s the Intraceutical Oxygen Facial, that the Spa at the Old Mill Toronto offers, which leaves skin looking positively radiant. It hydrates the skin, immediately firms and plumps it up to smooth out fine lines, and gives the complexion a nice glow.

Waxing

As well as exfoliating the areas you’re having waxed, it’s important to buff away dead skin cells to avoid clogged pores and ingrown hairs. Your last exfoliation should be at least two days before the wax treatment. Moisturize your skin properly until the day before the waxing to keep the area hydrated (and after to keep your skin looking fabulous, of course). Don’t forget to wear SPF to protect the newly waxed areas. Most importantly do not wax the day of your wedding – the best time is about one week before your big day. The Spa at the Old Mill usues Nufree Finipil, which is not a wax, so you won’t experience the pain of typical waxing. Extensive scientific testing, proves Nufree to be a self preserving antibacterial, antimicrobial hair removal system.

Massage

You may be sore after the massage, so it’s probably best to enjoy this ultimate form of relaxation the week leading up to your Wedding Day and not the day before.  This is normal with Deep Tissue massage, but it can also happen with the more gentle type of Swedish massage as well, and sometimes you may not feel the soreness until the next day. Your therapist can tailor the massage to your personal needs and desires, and make adjustments in intensity or technique as the session proceeds.A therapeutic massage is perfect for bridesmaid bonding, alone time or with your fiance, take the time out of your busy planning schedule to enjoy a massage, you will feel much better afterwards. 

Hair and Makeup

It’s important to secure your stylist ahead of time and do a trip about 1 -2 months before your Wedding Day. When it comes to your hair and makeup, you want to look like yourself as much as possible. Stick to the styles that make you feel most comfortable and match your bridal style. The Spa at the Old Mill is proud to use proud to use Jane Iredale Skincare Makeup. It provides flawless coverage with skincare benefits that conventional makeup can only envy! This mineral composition was designed to give you SPF, concealer, foundation and powder all in one.  Jane Iredale is not just makeup, it’s an extension of your skincare!

Nails

It’s always best to get your nails done the day before or day of so they look fresh and fabulous. Even Gel manicures can loose their lustre after a few days. You will want to show off your new wedding ring so compliment it with perfectly polished nails. Choosing a nail colour is right up there with the other tough wedding planning decisions. If your not into nail art, than your Wedding Day isn’t the day to start. Since You try on more than one dress (most of the time!), why shouldn’t you try on more than one polish?

 Body Wraps and Scrubs

Wraps are an excellent way to detox and are designed to reduce the appearance of cellulite or create a sliming effect while a body scrub will slough away dry, dead skin cells and leave you with luminous skin.  Remember if you are getting a spray tan, book it after your body scrub so your gorgeous glow won’t rub off!