open streets

I know that it’s raining like the monsoons of Mumbai today, but that won’t stop me from saying that I love Open Streets!

I especially love them in Hamilton.

Since we live downtown sandwiched between car driven busy one-ways, it’s always awesome to be able to take back some public space free of cars and fear of being side swiped by the 16 wheelers on Cannon and the like.

When we first moved to Hamilton, I remember there being two Open Streets per year; one being sometime in early summer and the other being on the weekend immediately following Super Crawl in September. I particularly loved the one after Super Crawl because it was a laid back way to enjoy James Street without all the hype and crowds that are drawn for the events of the weekend prior.

I recently found out that although free for its visitors, this past year Open Streets had funding to host only one Open Street. The hope is that they could have 3-4 Open Streets per year on James North and perhaps in various other locations. But to do this they are dependant on receiving more funding. In the past they’ve received funding from different agencies such as the city -Hamilton Public Works, Hamilton Cycling Committee, and through grants via organizations such as the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Hamilton Community Foundation, as well as other downtown organizations and businesses.

Today Open Streets is happening on James Street North from 11am-6pm rain or shine.

open streets Hamilton

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Hanging out in the middle of the road because…. you can during Open Streets.

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Last June at the launch of SoBi (Social Bicycle) Hamilton’s bike share network. Taking this mighty fine ride for a little test drive.

 

There are events and vendors lined up for the day. Everything from button making, to local musical acts like Earth Wind Choir (at the music stage on Vine Street), mural making, and magic.

Consider making a donation if you’re making your way there. Would love to see this event on James at least twice a year and spreading to other locations in the city, like Ottawa Street, Locke Street, King William and beyond.

If there’s a break in the rain today, you’ll be sure to see me there scooter and two year old in tow hanging out in the middle or the road, and wishing this wasn’t the only Open Streets of the year.

*Open Streets Hamilton, @OSHamilton, Facebook

 

a fine medley’s pop up flower shop

With summer nearly here the gardens are all a bloom and I’m dreaming of a day when my garden might swell with fragrant blossoms as unique and beautiful as the collection of flora that Jessica Hunter’s A Fine Medley‘s flower shop carries.

Back in February, when we were all dying for any sign of spring (a tulip, a crocus, some greenery -anything!) Girl On the Wing hosted A Fine Medley’s Pop-up Flower Shop.

A Fine Medley Flowers2

Throughout the day I kept seeing these amazing A Fine Medley floral arrangements on my Instragram feed (you can see some of the bouquets arranged that day on Jessica’s beautifully curated blog -right here!).

Just short of the last 10 minutes left of the shop being open, I managed to eject myself out of the cozy warm comforts of my house to get one of the last bouquets of the day, finally ending the torment of my late winter flower Instagram envy.

A Fine Medley flowers1 A Fine Medley Flowers4

I loved the colour and composition of her arrangement. It was dark with soft romantic pops of colour, and most importantly different from the usual bouquets you might get in a more traditional flower shop.

What also makes A Fine Medley unique to other florists is that Jessica uses environmental and ethical practices. When possible she forages and grows her own plants and flowers, and uses locally sourced greenery, herbs and blossoms of the best of what is in season at the time.

A Fine Medley Flowers3

Although A Fine Medley does not have a brick and mortar shop yet, you can get custom arrangements for your home, small and large events, and photo and film shoots.

If you have the chance check out at A Fine Medley’s blog -it’s all kinds of beautiful!

*A Fine Medley, Hamilton, ON,  hello@finemedley.comInstagram, Twitter, Facebook,

pinecone coffee co.

A short two weeks ago The Pinecone Coffee Co. opened its doors on John Street South.

There was already the typical #HamOnt social media frenzy and excitement that usually happens when something new and cool is anticipated to open up shop in the city.

On day one of Pinecone Coffee’s opening it was welcomed to Hamilton with loving and open arms; accompanied by a series of beautifully captured cafe photos via local Hamiltonian Instagram feeds.

During one of the multiple visits I’ve recently had to the cafe, I got to chatting with the owner about their newest adventure in coffee.

Despite the coffee/cafe revolution that has recently taken over Hamilton, (which over the past six years has seen more cafes opening than I can count on two hands) Pinecone Coffee has its own unique aesthetic that owner Denise describes as distinctly west coast. It’s airy, light and fresh with honey coloured wood floors, and beautifully repurposed lath boards for their counter; all of which Denise and her business partner/brother Rick collaboratively designed and put together during their four months of renovations.

Pinecone Coffee Co 2

Owner Denise and Pinecone barista taking a “coffee break” before the place fills again.

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Pinecone Coffe Co 13

Sweet treats from local Cake and Loaf and De La Terre Bakeries. These items are changed up regularly. Just the other day I tried a giant strawberry-cream-filled Oreo cookie.

Pinecone Coffee Co 4

My first Spanish Latte: espresso, condensed milk, milk, and cinnamon -beautiful and not too crazy sugary sweet!

Pinecone Coffee co 14

In addition to espresso coffees done right on their La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, they also have filter coffee brewed fresh by the cup on an Aeropress using Phil & Sebastian, and 49th Parallel coffee beans.

Aeropress brewers and filters, Porlex grinders, Hario Range servers and fresh beans are kept in store for the purchase of gifts or for your own home coffee consumption. 

Recently added to their menu is a delicious and healthy breakfast of muesli and hot steamed milk to eat in house or to take on the go. The menu will continue to expand over time to include lunches as well -can’t wait!

And before I forget, for all you tea drinkers, Pinecone carries Detour blend teas for your tea sipping pleasure.

Pinecone Coffee co 6

Pinecone Cofffee Co. 1

This photo above was taken on the odd occasion the table was empty. It is frequently filled with kids, families, neighbouring business owners, people walking by and largely by Hamilton coffee enthusiasts.

Strollers and wagons are often parked out front with kids saddling up to the tables sipping warm steamed milk and nibbling a little treat, while we all sit and stop for a little break; watching the city whirl by the large front cafe windows.Pinecone Coffee Co 9

Pinecone Coffee co 15

Pinecone Coffee Co 11After only being open for two weeks and they’ve already extended their hours to accommodate for summer time evening hot or cold coffee demands.

Pinecone Coffee co 5

It was not surprising that the first time we checked out Pinecone (day three of opening) the place was packed with sitting room only out front; coincidently fitting perfectly with the warming days of the oncoming spring.

So happy about this coffee shop. It’s a neighbourhood cafe that fills a much needed missing gap in the Corktown area. Nearly every person that came in declared the same feeling of coffee elation.

John South you’re a coming along very nicely!! Congrats on your opening Pinecone -so happy you’re in the neighbourhood!

*Pinecone Coffee Co. 175 John Street South, @PineconeCoffee

 

jay mccarrol & brave shores

A few years ago I stumbled across a Southern Souls video of Jay McCarrol’s that I kinda fell in love with.

The melody of the piano, the voice and lyrics of Jay and the simplicity of the backing band (featuring members from ZeusGolden Dogs and his sister Stefanie) all made for a recipe of unabashed repeat song listening, which in all honesty does not happen much these days. The video itself is so warm and beautiful it left me feeling all sorts of glowy on the inside.

JAY McCARROL – Jimmy Song / Mistaken from Southern Souls on Vimeo.

I searched for some info about Jay to see if he was working on an album and if/when/where I could get it. But besides spotting him and Taylor Knox (who currently has his debut solo album out) backing Hayden, when he came to town at The Casbah two years ago, my search pretty much came up empty handed.

Taylor Knox & Jay McCarrol backing Hayden

Taylor Knox and Jay McCarrol backing Hayden, Casbah Nov. 2013.

Until… I recently discovered Brave Shores which is duo made up of Jay McCarrol and his sister Stefanie.

Their debut album is called Never Come Down AND they’re playing tomorrow night at Mills Hardware. Although (from the few of the songs that I’ve heard from the album) this new indie rock electro-pop outfit is nothing like my first intro into Jay’s music and piano playing but all the same it’s still really awesome.

The show at Mills is on May 6th 7-11pm $12 in advance/$15 at the door.

* Mills Hardware, 95 King Street East, @MillsHardware

studio 205

A the start of early spring another new place on King Street East opened up. It’s on the corner of King and Walnut Street right next to its sister store MODify Your Closet.

Around four years ago I remember enthusiastically rushing into MODify Your Closet the day it opened and speaking to owner Melanie McArthur about how happy I was about a vintage and consignment store like hers opening up on what was then a pretty vacant looking King Street.

Since then stores like Girl On the Wing, Vintage Soul Geek, and now Melanie and her business/life partner in crime Vito’s latest project… Studio 205. They’ve all taken up shop on this strip, each helping to transform the vintage and Canadian made retail landscape of King east.

In addition to being a boutique that focuses on local and Canadian made goods, Studio 205 is also a take-out espresso bar serving up barista coffees, specialty teas and my fav Hamilton’s original Grandad’s Donuts. They also carry delicate treats from local Hamilton organic bakery Made For You By Madeleine to accompany a coffee or tea to go.

stuido 205 canadian artisans

Studio 205 coffee bar

Owner Melanie serving up some lattes under handblown light fixtures by Courtney Lush Glass.

Studio 205 is eclectic in the sense that is sells locally made items from hand painted shoes, to vintage typewriter key cuff-links to hats, necklaces, jewellery, feather hair fascinators, leather bags and knit goods to hand blown glass, pottery, art and fancy hats. Basically a one stop shop gift shop or place where you can find limitless ways to treat yourself to something beautiful, unique and handcrafted.

Tilted Shoes hand painted heels

Tilted Shoes -one of a kind hand painted heels

made in canada felt hats

Traditionally crafted hats and fascinators by Clavaux Designs, Toronto

Mum's Garden tea cup succulents

Succulents in tea cups by Mum’s Garden Floral Studio

Michelle Tilley jewellery

Gorgeous leather and metal work jewellery by Michelle Tilley

Tremblay et al

Vintage bottle corkers and pins by Tremblay et al

curious oddities jewellery

Necklaces by Curious Oddities, and yes that little baby harmonica actually works!

Courtney Lush Glass

Beautiful glass ware by Courtney Lush Glass

Made for you by Madeleine cookies

Baked goods from local Hamilton organic bakery Made for you by Madeleine

grandads maple bacon donut

Daily offerings of Grandad’s maple bacon donuts, usually along side ghostbuster (Boston cream meets eclaire), vanilla dip strawberry swirl, or on Friday’s their special fritters -mmmmmm.

Besides selling some gorgeous goods made by Canadian artisans, Studio 205 also offers workshops like upcoming flower arranging workshop April 25th from 1-2:30pm by Mum’s Garden Floral. There are sure to be many more crafty DIY workshops that will be popping up in the future.

If you’re in the neighbourhood you should definitely stop by and check it out all that is happening in this gem of a store.

Oh and by the way… May 10 is the first of the spring/summer series of Village Station Bazaars (a hip artisan flea market, which owner Melanie helped to spearhead -she just doesn’t stop)! It’s also worth a gander and is just down the street from Studio 205! See my post from last year about it here.

*Studio 205, 205 King St. East, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, 905.522.2205

 

flowers in winter

Even though spring is officially here there’s still a chill in the air today, and if the mini blizzards that swept through the skies over this past weekend were any indication, we still have a little ways to go before spring comes in at full force.

In the depths of that extremely long and cold February, I decided to create a bit a spring atmosphere in the house by planting a handful of Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs.

paperwhite buds

For the past few springs I would enviously see posts up on blogs or Instragram of these beautiful blooming buds. And just when the thought of crocuses, and tulips blooming in the garden seemed like an eternity away, I figured it was high time that I got in on the Paperwhite action too. And that is just what I did.

I purchased my Paperwhite bulbs on James North from i-fiori flower shop.

Since I was a little late in the season to plant the bulbs some of them were already starting to sprout little green shoots. I was reassured that this was no problem. This was true; we had blossoms galore!

After acquiring the bulbs, I collected an assortment of vases, jars and vessels from around the house along with a little pile of smooth stones.

It was all really pretty easy:

1. Fill your receptacles with a few stones

2. Plop the bulbs on top

3. Add water until just the base of the bulb is wet

4. Place in a sunny window

5. Continue to water daily to the level of the bottom of the bulb or to cover the soon to be shooting roots

6. Observe daily as the bulbs start sprouting and shooting up

paperwhite bulbs

I read somewhere that you can add a little vodka to the water to avoid the toppling of stems that start to happen if they shoot up to be very long. The vodka will stunt the growth so that the stems are shorter and hardier, thus not toppling with the weight of the blossoms.

paperwhite blossoms

Warning: the flowers do have a pretty pungent smell. I wouldn’t necessarily call it fragrant. But I figured the smell was the price I’d have to pay to have something beautiful, blooming and spring-like in the windows for the month of February.

life this winter

This Must be the Place just celebrated its fourth year anniversary this March! I can’t believe it.

Despite the four year legacy of blogging… without denying, these days my blog posts have been scarce.

Although, there has been no shortage of events and things happening in the city to document and write about, with so much else going on in my life: juggling being a parent, expecting another baby, working and all the ins and outs of life, blogging as of late has taken a bit of a backseat.

So I’ll just say it out loud; I’ve got a bit of a back log blog thing happening right now and it’s proving a little hard to get back into swing of things.

So here goes… my first post in a very long time… done in ummmm photos.

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Life this winter consisted of cold, snow, merry-go-rounds, haircuts, visits to the RBG, being cooped up inside, cooking, home renos, and lots of sampling of all the great new food places that are continuing to pop up in Hamilton.

My hope is to start posting weekly again, but I can’t make any promises. In the mean time I have been doing a bit of writing over the winter for Tourism Hamilton’s #MyHamilton page with my feature What a Day That Was. So you can get caught up on a few things there, as well as check out what else is going on in the city through other guest bloggers like I Heart Hamilton‘s Culture Beat, and Dave Hanley’s (of Pop Up Hamilton) feature The Hamilton Dish.

There’s so much to catch up on! Until we meet again blog.

cuba

In the midst this winter deep-freeze I’m dreaming of warmer days and of the early winter-escape that we took over the holidays back in December.

Our last big family vacation was a romp around Europe a little while back (see that post here). It involved several modes of transportation and hopping from multiple European destinations all with a one year old in tow. Since that trip we have long forgotten how it’s like to explore and travel through places lounging in coffee shops, art galleries and pubs at a child-free pace. So this time around we were on the hunt for a much more relaxed and stress-free travel option when bringing along our now exuberant two year old. We decided to try out something all together new for us.

Enter our first foray into the world of the almighty all inclusive.

We arrived in Cuba on the busiest travel day of the season to large crowds and slow line-ups through customs before embarking on a bus journey through the rolling hills of Santa Clara. If we hadn’t caught a red-eye, I would’ve been able to really take in more of the scenery of the small cuban villages and towns that our bus raced through before making our way to our hotel on the shores of Cayo Santa Maria.

Below are a few shots I managed to snap from the bus.

cuba cuba palm trees

 

Our routine in Cuba went like this: breakfast, beach until lunch (sometimes lunch at the beach), nap, ice-cream, pool, evening relaxation, dinner, toddler dance party, then sleep and repeat.

The highlight for me was definitely the beach; white sand, clear water and the sun. I couldn’t complain. That was… until I got sick. Despite already being doubly nauseous from being four months pregnant and from getting sick I still managed to enjoy each of the remaining days of this distraction from our long Canadian winter. And… yes, I did just drop that bomb.

cuba playa cayo

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cuba playa cayo santa maria

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Just short of the last day that we were in Cuba Omi befriended two lovely ladies that just so happened to be big times fans of Hamilton. Leila of Unikati & Co grew up in Hamilton, and as we got to chatting we shared our stories and near infinite love for the city. I can say that her enthusiasm for Hamilton may even surpass mine! Leila had been working on convincing her travelling friend Andreea of The Love Studio (with little to no resistance) that a move to Hamilton was just what she (and the city of Hamilton) needed.

On our last day in Cuba we ended up doing an impromptu family photo session with Andreea behind the lens. Being a professional photographer, her shots were infinitely better than mine (to be expected), and all the while she was shooting it barely felt like she was even taking pictures. You can see a couple of snaps of the family photo shoot on Andreea’s blog post about the trip to Cuba here. Her photos provide an amazing view and narrative of our warm winter escape.

Sigh…. winter.

painting hamilton

The latest exhibit we checked out at the AGH was back in January -Painting Hamilton; a contemporary exhibit curated by Melissa Bennet, which featured ten artists from local Hamilton and the Greater Hamilton area. I loved this exhibit. It was amazing to see so many local Hamilton artists’ work up and hanging on those big old walls.

Mirroring Christina Sealey's work

Exploring the artwork of Christina Sealey; local Hamilton artist whose exhibit is currently showing at Carnegie Gallery in Dundas until March 1st.

Daniel Hutchinson Super Symmetric Electric

Daniel Hutchinson‘s work Supersymmetricelectric from a series of paintings titled Paintings for Electric Light, which are site-sensitively coloured with fluorescent light components.

Painting Hamilton

Exploring the first floor of the AGH and the Painting Hamilton exhibit.

One permanent exhibit that I can never get enough of is Kim Adams’ Bruegel-Bosch Bus. The installation continues to evolve and grow and I’ve been happy to witness these changes over the years of visiting the AGH. It was Omi’s first visit to this exhibit and he absolutely loved it! He couldn’t stop pointing out all the ladders, trains, trucks and towering buildings. I was amazed at his little two year old self-control in not touching the exhibit! It’s so touch-worthy!

Kim Adams Bruegel-Bosch Bus Exploring Kim Adams 2

Exploring Kim Adams

 

cake and loaf confectionary

Cake and Loaf Bakery is one of my favourite bakeries in Hamilton. I frequent it for their beer and cheddar loaf, foccacia bread, French macarons, ginger molasses cookies and their drool worthy cinnamon rolls. It is my go to place for picking up treats before heading to friends houses and to collect small gifts and offerings for friends and family on special occasions.

Well, let it be known that besides being a bakery of breads, pies and cakes Cake and Loaf is now additionally in the business of confectionary!

cake and loaf gift

Cake and Loaf Organic Fair Trade Confection Cake and Loaf Fair Trade Organic Confection

 

Cake and Loaf’s line of sweet confections are fair trade organic, made with local ingredients and no preservatives.

There’s a wide variety of treats that can suit anyone’s sweet toothed pallet from caramels, raw fruit bars, to nougat and even a chocolate covered strawberry marshmallow sandwich -my fav!Cake and Loaf Confection

 

Cake and Loaf Confection Bars

Cake and Loaf Confections

Cake and Loaf nuggetsIf supporting local businesses and shopping local is on your agenda this holiday season you could stop in Cake and Loaf and see what goodies they have to offer. They have a special holiday menu with their offerings, which also include a ginger bread house kit among other holiday treats. AND I hear that they’ve been soaking their fruit cakes daily for the past month in pure rum!

Their line of confectionary treats would be great as stocking stuffers, to fill holiday candy bowls and jars, and as small gifts for the Christmas and holiday season.

*Cake and Loaf Bakery, 321 Dundurn St. South, 289.389.6581

 

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