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

 

a very leila christmas

On the last day of 2014′s Hamilton Fringe Festival I saw my first Fringe show of the year.

There were definitely more Fringe shows that I wanted to check out, but in all if I were to only see just one play, I was happy as ever that I did not miss the opportunity to see this one-person-show written and starring the very talented Izad Etemadi titled Love with Leila.

Photo from: http://izadetemadi.com/the-final-countdown/

It was just about the sweetest, most heart warming, laugh out loud kind of play that re-injected some theatre love and enthusiasm back into my recently theatre deprived life.

Izad Etemadi takes on the persona of Leila: a loveable and young Persian woman who tells us of her humorous misadventures in dating that lead her discovery of a heartfelt lesson in love and self-reflection.

It was clear by the raucous standing ovation at the end of the night we had all truly fallen head over heels in love Leila. There was no way that we couldn’t love her innocent humour, witty banter and Persian pleasantries. We were left with the promise of more Leila and the return of Etemadi to Hamilton with Leila in another one-person production titled A Very Leila Christmas.

a very leila christmas

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, LEILA” That’s what Leila expects to hear from Santa on her first Christmas morning in Canada, surrounded by perfectly wrapped presents tucked all around her tree but to her shock and confusion, her stocking is empty and there are no presents at all – not even coal! Leila decides to track down Santa to find out what went wrong. Travel to the North Pole with Leila, singing all your favourite Christmas songs along the way, to help her discover the true meaning of Christmas.

A Very Leila Christmas is playing this week at the Staircase Theatre December 17, 18 and 19. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than supporting some theatre while checking out what sorts of hilarious and outrageous misadventures Leila will get up to on her very first Canadian Christmas.

Tickets are $15 and you can get them here: http://leilachristmas.brownpapertickets.com/

See you at the show!

*Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn St. North, 905.529.3000

 

lamenting fall

These last few years fall has been totally escaping me.

It seems like as soon as the leaves have gone I’m already lamenting their quick departure. I’m one who usually likes to savour each subtle change in colour and fall smell that comes just before the impending darkness of our cold and long Canadian winter.

However, these past few falls it all seems a blur with what felt like summer promptly ending and quickly turning to winter. I suppose that is the nature of back to school and back to work, where days speed up and weeks blend into another. I struggle just to keep up with the routine of it all, forgetting quickly about the lazy days of summer and concentrating mostly on just keeping my head above water.

With weekends often packed with visiting friends and family and catching up on putting away the infinite amount of unfolded laundry that collects on the daily, it is a wonder to me that we were actually able to cram so much in this fall: a visit to an apple orchard, two pumpkin patches, the Rockton World’s Fair, plus a few art crawls and visits to the AGH in between all that.

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Lindleys Farm tractor ride

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I planted a mystery bulb in the late spring and I waited all season for it to bloom wondering what would become of it. Early fall came, and one morning I saw this ginormous beauty of a dahlia in full bloom!giant dahlia

Alas, I will make a promise yet again that next year -I will not neglect you fall! Just promise me a garden full of giant dahlias and I’ll be there to soak it all in.

pressing apples

At the very start of fall we were invited to a neighbour’s annual apple cider pressing party.

apple cider press

green fall apples for cider

Several families came over to help with the process, and like a well oiled machine everyone worked together to get over ten bushels of farmer’s market fresh fall apples mulched and pressed into cider that we all were able to take home.

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fall apples for cider

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making apple cider

homemade apple cider

The cider was amazing and so fresh!

 

 

 

moulin rouge cocktail lounge

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good dance party. However, being in my mid 30s, a parent, and in Hamilton, it can sometimes be hard to find the time and just the right place to go out dancing.

My favourites to dance to are soul, funk, bossa nova, ska, dancehall and old school rap. Now you can kinda see how it might be a little hard to find a suitable place to go dancing with mixed bag of music like that.

In my younger years when living in Toronto I loved going to Uma Nota events and Milk parties and my ultimate fav a solid dance party at someone’s house. But with so many of our friends having kids and such, house parties have fallen to the wayside and truth be told my appetite for dancing hasn’t quite reached the point of desperation where I’d want to trek all the way into Toronto.

There you have it, a mid 30s dancing Hamilton rut.

Well… when I heard that Moulin Rouge Cafe on John had become Moulin Rouge Cocktail Lounge with a more mature 25+ night club scene and DJ’s spinning classic house, funk, soul and disco, I was like “Hello”.

So one night for a friend’s birthday we went out on the town making a few stops at couple other places before our final destination at Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge club Moulin Rouge dance club

The DJ was spinning deep house but he had a good mix of afro-funk, and even a little bit of some Prince amidst some old school classic house anthems like Kenny Dope’s These Sounds Fall into my mi-i-i-i-ind. We were all pleased as punch that the music was danceable, the crowd was friendly (yet not all a meat market) and the atmosphere was soft, aglow with red and totally classy. There was ample room to dance, and the music although loud still allowed you to have a conversation without yelling or having to lip read.

Moulin Rouge DJ

And if dancing isn’t your thing there’s a comfy lounge area for talking and fancy martini and cocktail sipping.

Moulin Rouge dance floor

Moulin Rouge is perfect for a birthday party, a night on the town or just something a little more sophisticated than the pub. It’s also now a local place where I know I can go to for a fail safe dance party. Now if only they got my favourite Hamilton DJ -DJ Jon Sikich to work the turntables I’d be in Hamilton dance heaven!

*Moulin Rouge Cocktail Lounge, 10-12 John St. North (Treble Hall), 289.260.4302, @MoulinHamilton

christie antique show

Well, this year I finally made it to my first ever visit to the infamous Christie Antique Show! Even though there are two opportunities a year to check it out (at the end of May and start of September) the universe seems to have always had other plans for me.

This past May my antiquing stars finally aligned when good weather combined with a well timed toddler nap allowed us to get out and wander around the antiquing grounds.

It was the perfect way to spend a sunny spring Saturday; casually perusing the variety of antiques and oddities that spanned what seemed like an endless expanse of the Christie Conservation area. In our pre-baby days we would’ve leisurely walked through the stalls and tents, stopped for a slow afternoon beer or coffee to accompany lunch and maybe even a quick nap or newspaper read under the shade of a tree before continuing on to hunt for the perfect rare treasure vintage find all before calling it a day.

However, with a little one in tow and no agenda to purchase anything in particular, the intent of our visit was to simply have a Saturday afternoon outing.

We “window shopped” and pointed out curiosities as we attempted to keep Omi entertained with his new love for dandelion seed blowing.

Christie Antique vinyl sofa

There were antique dealers from all around Canada selling a good mix of mid-century modern, folk art and classic Victorian pieces.

Chrisitie Antique gramophone Christie Antique spools Christie Antique chairs Christie Antique drawers Christie Antique stoolsAlthough we’d only spent an hour or so wandering the rows and rows of stalls we’d only covered maybe one third of the whole 10 acre show before we had to call it a day and finally give in to Omi’s pleas to be free. We left empty handed and antiqueless but I had many daydreams of returning again in September.

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This Saturday is the second and last Christie Antique Show for 2014. The show is one day only from 8AM-5PM rain or shine, and admission is $10 per person.

*Christie Lake Conservation Area, 1000 Highway 5 West, Dundas, 905.628.3060

 

100 years of AGH

A few weeks ago we celebrated the Art Gallery of Hamilton‘s one hundred years of existence at a free BBQ picnic in their sculpture garden.

The BBQ was followed by a slew of kid and family friendly activities.

AGH tshirt printing

AGH printing stamps

The kids were loving this; printing old car and machine parts onto T-shirts!

AGH inking up

AGH tshirt print

Although Omi was a little young for the art activities and the guided tour of the gallery that didn’t stop us from doing our own self directed toddler-mini-tour.

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Phantom Hunter William Blair Bruce

William Blair Bruce -The Phantom Hunter 1888

While on our wanderings, I was glad to have gotten a peek at the William Blair Bruce exhibit. Bruce was a born and raised Hamiltonian, who established himself primarily as Canadian impressionist painter, recognized and celebrated throughout Paris, North America and Europe.

I later learned that following Bruce’s death his collection was donated to the city of Hamilton, which at the time did not have a municipal gallery. The collection would in turn play a critical role in the foundation and establishment of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. It’s possible that without Bruce’s collection the AGH may have never materialized. My guess is it’s no coincidence that the Bruce exhibit coincided with the celebration of the AGH’s centennial.

The Bruce exhibit runs at the AGH until October 5th. It’s the largest Bruce exhibit to be shown with 100 works; some of which have never been publicly exhibited. Definitely a must-see! (FYI first Friday of each month admission is free!!)

I’m so thankful that Hamilton has the AGH. Happy one hundred years!

*Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King Street West, 905.527.6610, @theAGH

 

killbear

After a several year hiatus from camping, this summer it made a long awaited return into our lives with a trip to Killbear Provincial Park.

Admittedly, I was really worried about taking an active nearly two year old camping. I was nervous about Omi being able to sleep in a tent, running off in all directions and just generally being so active that we’d be exhausted by day one. All the worries were for not because the sleeping worked out fine. He took long naps and for the most part he slept through the night. The little guy was in such awe with the water, rocks, wild blueberries, deer, chipmunks and campfires that it was mostly just amazing to observe him soaking it all in.

 

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I’ve long loved Killbear ever since a short camping trip I took with some friends when I was in university. It was the first time I saw the Milky-way in all its glorious glowing splendour as well as the first time I saw such picturesque and quintessential Canadian landscapes. The scenery is just breathtaking and is so Group of Seven with its windblown trees and smooth-rock-faced Canadian shield that dips into the waters of Georgian Bay. The place is magically unchanged and holds a nice little spot in my nostalgic little heart.

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Kill Bear Canadian shield Kill Bear canoe Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

With this trip it truly felt like I had finally experienced summer. I soaked, swam, sun bathed and breathed it all in. My lofty summer dreams and expectations were met on our four day camping stay so much so that we’re planning to do a repeat camping trip to Killbear again next year. Who knows, we may just become one of those Killbear Harold Point lifers that we’d met that have been coming up to camp year after year.

*Killbear Provincial Park, 35 Kill Bear Park Road, Nobel Ontario, 705.342.5492

dusk dances

Hamilton is host to its very first ever Dusk Dances down at Bayfront Park!

I’d never been to a Dusk Dance before (even though they’ve been around in Toronto for 20 years) so I had no idea really what to expect. But we figured it would be a fun summer event that we could take Omi to and enjoy some outdoor summer evening happenings. We arrived shortly after 7pm to a fairly large crowd seated on picnic blankets and lawn chairs just in time to catch the tail end of some kid friendly dancing and music. At promptly 7:30 our host for the evening appeared magically with bow tie and top hat explaining how the evening would play out and giving us some simple Dusk Dance etiquette. Dusk Dance host

Then with just a moments notice blankets were quickly thrown over arms, lawn chairs folded up, picnics packed up and we began following our host for the night like the pied piper to our first of five Dusk Dance locations throughout Bayfront Park.

Dusk Dances walking Dusk Dances Throwdown Collective Throwdown Collective radio dj’ed from their little Chevette an 80′s inspired dance number.

Dusk Dances Cercania 1 My favourite of the night! A powerful and stunning flamenco dance performed by Myriam Allard. Accompanied by flamenco singer Hedi Graja and percussionist Miguel Medina. Myriam’s feet were moving so fast I thought she was going to set the stage on fire -just a blur of her beautiful blue shoes!

Dusk Dances Unquiety WInds

We only made it to four of the five dances. Omi was getting so wriggly and restless. For the fourth dance Unquiet Winds, Omi started yelling at the top of his lungs “What’s that!?” mid performance. When heads started turning our way we took that as our cue to start making our way home.

But, oh the night was lovely! I enjoyed seeing people who were at Bayfront just out for a bike ride or going for a summer stroll suddenly stumble upon a large audience and unique dances. I love that this is happening here in Hamilton and I hope it continues on for years to come!

There’s still one more night you can catch the seemingly impromptu dances that pop up along the grounds of Bayfront. Tomorrow night is the last night! The evening starts at 6pm with a Lindy Hop Dance class until 6:45. And the Dusk Dance will promptly start at 7:30pm. I recommend being there no later than 7:15, so you get to know the Dusk Dance lowdown and the location of the first dance.

*Dusk Dances, July 31, August 1+2, 6-9pm Bayfront Park, admission is PWYC, @duskdances

because beer

I know that summer is only half over but I can safely say that one of my favourite days of the summer so far was spent at Hamilton’s first outdoor craft beer festival Because Beer. It was put on by the kind folks from Sonic Unyon, who know how to throw some solid large scale events. They’ve had lots of experience, especially since they’re the ones who started my other favourite yearly MASSIVE Hamilton event; Supercrawl, as well as Seven Sundays; Gage Park’s weekly summer concert series. So it was really no surprise that the event was well thought out and executed to meet the needs of all those craft beer drinking enthusiasts.

On this July day the sun was hot, the air was dry and there was the most perfect summer breeze coming off the lake. Beers were flowing from over 25 craft beer micro-brewers and food trucks were serving up some mouth watering grub.

Twenty-five dollars got you into the event. The fee provided you with your own beer sampling mug and four beer tokens to get you going on your beer tasting. One token would get you half a glass of beer from any of the craft brewers (two for a full 1/2 pint). You could restock your token supply by purchasing additional tokens at a dollar a pop.

We set off to sample our first beer of the day from Waterloo brewery. I got the Grapefruit Radler which was so good it ended up also being my second beer of the day too. I’m not one to like beers that are too sweet and fruity but on this hot day the hints of grapefruit were so light and refreshing it totally hit the spot!

Because Beer sampling mug Because Beer Waterloo

I was happy to see The Salted Pig food truck – a truck I’d never sampled before. I got a little snack of Pigs in a Blanket; two deep-fried tortilla shells stuffed with pulled pork creamy horseradish sauce, bbq sauce and green onions. Perrrfect with a bitter beer!

Because Beer Salted Pig truck Because Beer Salted Pig

We found a piece of shade by the water and used our Beer Passports to plot out our route for future beer sampling. My one regret is that I didn’t get to the Wellington’s Farmer’s Market Rhubarb Saison before their tap ran dry. Clearly I didn’t plot my beer drinking route as well as I’d thought. As the day progressed you would hear a buzz about certain beers and breweries and we’d make our way over to try them out ourselves.Because Beer beer tents

Because Beer bar boys

Next up to sample was Flying Monkey’s Shoulders of Giants.

As evening was starting to fall we’d visited what felt like over a dozen craft breweries often returning to specific brews that tickled our tastebuds. I loved the Margaret Atwood from Beau’s Brewery, and I feel like there was a chocolate stout that I enjoyed somewhere along the way too, was it the Tom Green?

I wanted to sample Garden Brewer’s (rooted in Hamilton) Black Pepper Ale but it was sold out.

Because Beer Piperales

Because Beer Southern Smoke Poutine

Refuelling with a massive pulled pork poutine from Southern Smoke Truck.

Because Beer summer sky

Because Beer Descendants

My last beer sample of the day was from Descendants -Reynard the Fox and it just may have been my favourite of the day.

The Dinner Belles hit the stage and the beer festival was starting to come to a close. The sun was starting to set on a perfect blue summer sky, and the beer taps were starting to run dry.

Because Beer The Dinner Belles
Because Beer bayfront

The Because Beer festival in my mind was a huge success. People were civilized, the beer and musical acts were great, there were numerous options for seating and various lookouts to perch at to sip your beers AND the weather was just absolutely perfect.

At 8pm we were gently and promptly herded out of the beer grounds and people dispersed. By 8:20 everyone was gone. The grounds weren’t littered with plastic beer cups and garbage, there weren’t any fights or brawls, mostly just a lot of merry making craft beer lovers making their way home.

Because Beer is an annual two day event and I can’t wait to go again next year!

BUT if you missed out on this year’s festival and have a hankering for another this Friday and Saturday is another first for Hamilton’s Craft Beer Festival, which will be held at Gage Park. Tickets are $30, which includes five 5oz beer tickets and access to sample. Not to mention that all proceeds of the festival will go to seven Children’s Hospital Charities. There’ll be live Jazz music at the bandshell and of course food trucks.

AND that’s not even the last beer festival of the summer! On August 22nd and 23rd is Hamilton Beer Festival! Another two day beer festival on the roof top of Jackson Square. Oh my goodness! I love you Hamilton!!

*Because Beer, July 11-12, Pier 4, $25 +4 beer tokens & beer sampling mug, @BecauseBeerCA

*Hamilton Craft Beer Festival, August 1-2, Gage Park, $30 +5 beer tickets, all proceeds going to charity, @HamOntBeerFest

*Hamilton Beer Festival, August 22-23, Jackson Square Rooftop, $32.50 +3 beer tokens & beer sampling glass, @HamBeerFestival

 

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