Toronto Fringe 2017

What's summer without the Toronto Fringe?


Year after year, the Toronto Fringe Festival is the event I look forward to most each summer. With 160 shows to choose from this year, it's set to be an amazing event From July 5-16, 2017.

This marks a new era for the Fringe with a brand new location for the Fringe tent (at Scadding Court at Bathurst & Dundas) and some new venues (including the Theatre Centre). It will be very strange to not be in the alley at Honest Ed's but the new venue is close to home and I'm sure we'll all transition nicely to the new space.


As always, there is some great pre-coverage popping up (including lists from Derrick Chua and Steve Fisher, whose opinions I trust!) and I'm starting to mark up my own program and make a game plan for my Fringe itinerary. I'm not in any shows this year, but I have been helping to do PR and social media for one. As someone who loves theatre and the Fringe, it's been great to be immersed in the press releases and all the buzz surrounding this year's shows.

About a week away, here's what I'm looking forward to:

Pineapple Club Toronto Fringe 2017
Katherine Fogler Photography
Pineapple Club (Factory Theatre Mainspace) - In getting ready to write this post, I pulled up my Fringe posts from the last couple of years, and lo and behold Dance Animal was at the very top of my 2016 list (and I loved it!) I started working with the team doing PR and social media a couple of months ago. In this time, I've gotten to see a behind-the-scenes peek into Dance Animal Director / Choreographer Robin Henderson's process as she's worked with Paul Barnes, Jonathan Shaboo and Pascale Yensen to create this brand new show. It's part comedic dance, part sketch comedy and part social commentary -- which is such a great mix. This team is incredibly talented and I can't wait to see this show come into fruition.

Not Enough (Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace) - Another name that has popped up on my Fringe lists over the years has been Megan Phillips. We connected years ago through a message board, and I'm so glad that she makes the journey to Toronto each year to be a part of the Fringe. I got to see this show last year when she was previewing it here before taking it across Canada, and it's a funny, candid take on change, forgiveness and becoming enough.

Soaring in Liquid Skies (Theatre Pass Muraille Backspace) - I've had the chance to see Franco Nguyen do sketch and standup a few times recently, and he is a fantastic, charismatic performer with a unique point of view of the world.

Maddie's Karaoke Birthday Party (The Monarch Tavern) - Add some of my favourite performers in the city with one of my favourite pastimes and that's a show that's right up my alley.

James & Jamesy in the Dark (Al Green Theatre) - I got to have tea onstage with James & Jamesy a few years ago at Fringe, and nearly peed myself from laughing. I'm pumped to see them back and this new show, set entirely in the dark, sounds like it's going to be something completely unique, hilarious and magical.

Other shows I'm looking forward to: Bendy Sign Tavern - Sex T-Rex is another Fringe favourite of mine and I'm excited to see them jump into a rom-com with puppets in a bar, Weaksauce - Sam Mullins is one of my favourite storytellers and this show was charming when I saw it a few years ago, Contagious - love this premise and another solid creative team, True North Mixtape - I was obsessed with Summerland 2 years ago, so this is absolutely on my list, Jay and Shilo's Sibling Revelry - while it's made for kids, the story sounds adorable and I'm a huge Jeni Walls and Justin Bott fan, and Ten Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains - which I had no idea about until I saw it on every list under the sun and it has caught my attention!

As word of mouth starts to spread my list will be constantly changing and evolving, but I can't wait to dive into 10 days of talent, frolicking from theatre to theatre and seeing all of my theatre friends (and random people I know) in the Fringe tent.

If you'd like to follow along with my adventures, I'll be tweeting away @ashleydtl (I think Fringe is one of the only reasons I keep my Twitter going...) and posting on my Instagram story (also @ashleydtl)


Grab yourself a Fringe program and take the time to see a show (or 4!) from July 5 - 16. All ticket sales go back to the artists involved and be sure to take a moment to tip the Fringe.

What are you looking forward to this Fringe?


Shift Shop with Chris Downing


I am thrilled to share the details of Beachbody's newest workout program, Shift Shop, with trainer Chris Downing!

My first introduction to Chris was a team call with him a few weeks ago, and after hearing his story and inspiration for this program, I knew it was going to be a game-changer. I got to try the first Ship Shop workout last week and it has me counting down the days until July to get started.

Here's the scoop on Shift Shop:

  • 3 week program, 6 workouts per week
  • 8 workouts in total ranging from 25-45 minutes in length
  • awesome meal plan focusing on whole foods with a healthy balance of carbs, protein, and fat
  • clear, comprehensive instructions for every move
  • modifier for every move
  • minimal equipment needed except for agility markers 
The program starts off slowly with 25 minute cardio and strength workouts and an easy-to-follow meal plan. In week 2 the workouts increase to 35 minutes and your protein intake increases to ensure that you're fuelling your body. For week 3, the workouts are 45 minutes each, higher in intensity and you really dial in your nutrition.

Not only that, but Chris is all about motivation in a very different way than any other trainer I've seen. In the first workout, the motto is "Try before you modify", which is such an important thing to remember. So often in workouts (and life!!) we try to modify or take a short cut even before we give it our best shot. Give it a solid try first and you may surprise yourself. This nugget along with so many more are waiting at the Shift Shop.

This program is for you if:
  • you want to see results quickly
  • you're getting started in your fitness journey -- this will be your perfect on-ramp to guide you
  • you've done other programs and you want to kick things up a notch
  • you've done the whole health and fitness thing before and you need to get back into the swing of things
On Monday July 17th, I'll be kicking off my Shift Shop Accountability Group for those who are looking to commit to 21 days of this program with me. I will take you through meal planning, establishing a great mindset, modifications and be working out alongside you for daily accountability and support. The weekend before we start, I'll be hosting a kick off call for everyone participating to help you get set up for success and connect with the group.

This is your shift. The one you’ve been talking about. You can do this.



If you want to be a part of this motivating and game-changing group, fill in the application below to save your spot. We're getting started on Monday July 17 -- are you ready to make the shift?

Have a question before you commit? Feel free to send me an email - let's talk!

I can't wait to get started with this program and hope that you'll jump in with me.

33 Self Care Ideas to Nurture Yourself


How's your self care these days?

With Mother's Day coming up on the weekend coupled with a busy time at work and having a lot of feelings, I've been working on my own self care this month. As a self-admitted perfectionist who sometimes feels like they need to be "on" or "doing something" all the time, it needs to be a choice for me to slow down. And it isn't always easy. 

But I know I'm better for it when I slow down, give myself some time and get on the self care piece. 

I've been thinking a lot about what self care looks like for me, and wanted to share some ideas for ways to practice self care in your own life -- as a regular practice, but also in times when you really need to nourish your soul. For me that looks like busier than normal periods in my life, but also tough days like Mother's Day or my mom's death anniversary. It's an important habit to get into. You deserve it!

Here are 33 self care ideas to help you nurture yourself:
  1. Take a walk
  2. Read your favourite book
  3. Workout
  4. Nap
  5. Take a bath
  6. Watch your favourite movie/show/Netflix series (bonus points for a full season)
  7. Go out for brunch
  8. Buy yourself flowers, a cactus or succulent
  9. Get a manicure, pedicure or facial
  10. Journal
  11. See a show or concert
  12. Spend time with someone special
  13. Go to an art gallery or museum
  14. Meditate
  15. Sing
  16. Bake some donuts
  17. Say no
  18. Shut down your technology and take a social media break
  19. Do something crafty or artistic
  20. Diffuse essential oils or light some candles
  21. Spend time with animal friends
  22. Go to a farmer's market and make a nourishing meal
  23. Phone / Skype / Facetime a friend
  24. Play
  25. Make an awesome playlist and have a dance party
  26. Enjoy the sunshine / rain / stars
  27. Make a pot of tea
  28. Colour
  29. Go to your favourite coffee shop and have the best warm beverage
  30. Hang out in nature or near water
  31. Learn an instrument (or practice that one you used to play)
  32. Go for a bike ride
  33. Breathe
Over the past two weeks, I've been working hard at numbers 3, 4, 6, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 27 and 33.

Ways to practice self care

One of my best friends came for a visit and brought me beautiful flowers. Time with her + tulips = 2 wins in one!

ways to practice self care

And since the weekend I've been teaching myself ukulele (you can follow my adventures over on Instagram!) Learning something new in a gentle way plus having the opportunity to sing and surround myself with music I love has been a very positive thing for my mental health this week. 

Whether you're going through a stressful time, find yourself losing momentum in the hustle or just need a little bit of TLC -- make some time in the near future to do something nice for yourself by practicing some good self care. (Pin this for future reference!)

Self care ideas to nurture yourself

What are your favourite ways to practice self care?

The Unicorn Frappuccino is a Disgrace to Unicorns

Unicorn Frappuccino

Guys, unicorns are awesome 🦄🦄🦄

The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino however, is not.

The internet has been agog over the last couple days about the limited edition Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino.

People like Starbucks. 
People like unicorns. 
People like pretty things to post on Instagram and show the world how much fun they're having.

I would hope that people would also like things that are delicious and filled with less than 60g of sugar in one serving - oh yes, that's what's happening in the Unicorn Frappuccino. 

Courtesy of various syrups and sugars that make up this concoction, this rainbow-hued beverage has 59g of sugar in just one cup (and that's if you go for a Grande - a Venti has more than 75g of sugar)

59g of sugar. 
In a beverage. 
You don't even get to chew it. 

Having a Venti is like the equivalent of eating 3 Snickers bars. That's insane. 

We know that increased sugar intake has bad effects on our body, right?

One of the things that freaks me out about this drink is the "sour blue powder" -- aside from oranges, there's no good flavour that is described merely by its colour. If you've eaten any candy in your life, you can probably reflect on what 'red' or 'yellow' tastes like. "Sour blue" is not a flavour I want to slurp up. Ever. 

I've also seen the flavour described as a "creamy, mango white mocha". Those are not things that should go together. 

I was actually shocked by the number of these things that popped up in my newsfeed this week - but no one was shouting from the rooftops about it, proclaiming their love and how they wanted to go back for another. When I posted about it on my Facebook on Wednesday night, someone mentioned drinking one and feeling ill all day, and another chucked hers in the trash after 3 sips (and the aforementioned pretty Instagram photo)

And the only people who are having fun are the people who are ripping it to shreds all over the internet, because surely the baristas aren't enjoying it, and neither are the people shelling out $6-$7 for one.

Unicorn Frappuccino vs Shakeology


I wanted to compare the Unicorn Frap to Shakeology, as it's something I drink each day.

Looking at the ingredients side by side is a no brainer - the frap has 7 different kinds of sugar, a variety of artificial colours and a whole lot of no thank you. Shakeology is full of vegan protein sources, superfoods and greens. Shakeology isn't sugar free - but has less sugar than an apple, and those sugars are derived from non-refined sources. It's also significantly higher in protein and fibre (Protein 16g vs. 5g, Fibre 5g vs. 0g) which is going to help stabilize your blood sugar and impact your feelings of satiety (feeling more full)

Shakeology may not be rainbow coloured or unicorn themed, but I'll take a glass of that any day over a glass of rainbow coloured sugar with mango flavouring and sour blue dust.

I definitely have a sweet tooth and it's taken me a long time to deal with my sugar cravings. I still enjoy a treat now and again, but having my chocolate shake each day definitely helps to manage. Breakfast that tastes like cake, but works like a salad? Yes please!

One of the best things I've seen said about the Unicorn Frappuccino is that "it's where unicorn spirits go to die" and that pretty much sums it up. It's only got a few days left of the menu, and hopefully it won't make a comeback.

Let's just go back to unicorns being awesome, ok? 

The Things I Would Have Told Myself

I'm gearing up for a really fun weekend that includes my birthday and latest cabaret, "The Things I Would Have Told Myself".


I often find myself reflecting on the things I've learned on my birthday. I've celebrated quite a few since writing this blog. I still believe in the manifesto I created last year and I'm still trying to figure out all of this grown up stuff.

The show is going to be about all of that, plus the advice I would have shared with myself along the way. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I wouldn't get married in my 20s, offer some sage advice on the people I should (and shouldn't have dated) and share details of the future to my younger self that probably would have made me squeal.


When I moved into my new apartment at the beginning of this year, it marked the start of a new chapter for me. Not only was it the end of my relationship, but it also marked the first time that I've ever lived on my own. I worried that I would get lonely or that I just wouldn't feel comfortable - I wish I would have had the opportunity to do it sooner.

Living in my own space has been such a blessing for me. I love not talking to people. Leaving things in a spot and then returning to find them exactly there. Having friends over. Enjoying a whole fridge to myself and not having to share shelves. Keeping it tidy (or not). Decorating and creating the space that I want to live in. And accumulating a glorious collection of throw pillows on my bed and couch. 


I still think it would be charming to go back and tell my 8 year old self all the things I know now, but the list of lessons learned seems to grow longer as the days and years pass by. I doubt my younger self would have listened to any of this, but it might have been nice to try.

I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with people I adore, enjoying some shenanigans, treating myself to some red wine and cake and having the opportunity to do what I love onstage whilst sharing some innermost thoughts with the crowd.

33, let's do this. 

If you'd like to come celebrate with me on Sunday at 7pm at Club 120 (above 120 Diner), you can get your tickets here.