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copps

Last week I saw the signage and insignia for Copps Coliseum being taken down. Its vintage orange lettering, which matched the stadium’s exterior underbelly, was faded and properly representative of its era of origin from the 80′s.

Some might say good riddance to the namesake Copps. Especially for those that argue that Victor Copps, (former Hamilton mayor, who had been known to some as an advocate for “urban renewal”) did nothing for the city but level the core of Hamilton’s downtown to make way for the giant modernist cement conglomerate we now know as Jackson Square.

Check out this great historic video done by the Hamilton Public Library to get a good perspective and history of the area that was torn down to make room for Jackson Square.

All things said, I am kinda saddened by the passing of that giant capital orange “C”. Burton Kramer, graphic designer and artist designed the logo (as well as the CBC logo that I grew up with in the 70′s and 80′s). In my mind Copps Coliseum will remain Copps with an orange “C” I mean, I still call The Skydome, “The Skydome” and besides what are we going to call the new Copps? FOCs?

Copps Coliseum Bay St. Copps ColiseumYork blvd

about town

This weekend there are so many interesting things going on I’ll be hard pressed to do them all!

Starting on Friday there’s the International Market Place; an event put on in partnership with the Immigrant Women’s Centre. I checked it out when I first moved to Hamilton and would love to see how it’s evolved and grown since last going five years ago.

Be sure to stop by and support your local community and pick up some handcrafted goods and wares!

 

On Friday night at Christ Church Cathedral there’ll be a special talk about the potential future of James Street North. It’s entitled James Street North 5×7; 5 minute talks by 7 community thinkers on improving the James Street North community. It’s free and starts at 7pm.

*Christ Church Cathedral, 252 James St. North

 

On Saturday in partnership with Hamilton Artists Inc. and Needlework, the first of a new quarterly talk series put on by a recent new crafty collaborative Pulling Strings will take place.

If you can remember the whimsical underwater crocheted window display of White Elephant from two Supercrawl‘s ago then you might know who Shannon Gerard is. She’s been a collaborating force with the Hyperbolic Reef crochet project among many other craft, art and crochet endeavours. She’ll be giving a free talk from 2-3:30pm at the Inc. followed by a $10 (no experience necessary) crochet workshop at Needlework from 4-5:30pm (RSVP for the crochet workshop to pullingstringshamilton@gmail.com).

"Hyperbolic Crochet Reef", White Elephant's store window display, Supercrawl 2012

If you have some time Saturday afternoon I suggest you check this event out!

*Hamilton Artists Inc. t 155 James Street North

*Needlework 174 James Street North.

 

Last but not least, on Sunday afternoon I’ll be taking part in a #HamOnt Blog Fair at The Casbah organized by Hamilton bloggers I Heart Hamilton and Cut From Steel. There’ll be food trucks, beer, and a whole crew of Hamilton’s finest local bloggers. Come out and grab a bite to eat, sip some beers, and check out alt-electro-dance-rock duo Dear Rouge play a set at 5pm. The event is free and all are welcome! Please come by and say “Hi”!

If you’re knew to Hamilton or just want to get to know your city a little better this will be a great event to get your finger on the pulse of the city’s goings on, and to meet with some Hamiltonians who are passionate about their city. Hope to see you there!

so long fall

Fall’s basically over, and we’ve officially entered into the season of brown, when all the trees are barren, the air is cold and evening light is scarce.

I adore fall and love its sunny days, cool evenings, and changing colourful landscapes. I also love that my birthday is during one of my all-time favourite seasons.

This September and October I had so much on my plate that I didn’t have the time take in all the extra moments that I normally observe to ingest everything that is fall.

I celebrated my 35th birthday and with that I somewhat irregularly started climbing the escarpment stairs, and reintroduced yoga back into my life. As I get older I’m realizing energy and flexible movement are needed things in a life raising kids and I kinda need to work to maintain this.

Here's a gorgeous view of Hamilton from the escarpment after a stair climb. With the days getting colder and shorter, I'm not sure how many more times I'll muster up the motivation to climb these again before spring.

Despite all the crazy business I somehow managed to make a Halloween costume for Omi too. I made him a stuffed cloud costume that he donned with rainbow leg warmers. We didn’t actually go trick or treating this year but I couldn’t resist the potential cuteness of him being a rainbow cloud.

So long fall… I promise not to neglect you next year!

 

quilted

Although I would like to consider myself someone who sews and is crafty, in truth, these things don’t necessarily come naturally to me.

I’ve always had daydreams of being a quilter and one day (as step one in fulfilling this dream) wanted to make a quilt of my very own.

Last fall when I saw a baby quilt class being offered at Needlework I figured at nine months pregnant -why not?  What better time to get in on some of this quilting action and test out what if any sewing skills I might have in making a mini-quilt (before venturing on to full-on adult sized ones).

This class was great, in that even a beginner sewer like me could handle it without breaking into a sweat. Once we got going it really was quite easy.

Omi was a late baby, and I remember during the four days of pre-labour leading up to his birth, trying to finish the binding on the quilt. During all the “waiting” I would take moments in between contractions to work on finishing the binding.

The quilt did get completed on time and it was immediately put to good use. In the fall and winter the quilt went with us everywhere to throw on friend’s hardwood floors, or to bundle and swaddle Omi in and in the spring and summer it has most often been used as a picnic blanket.

Once I had my first quilt done and under my belt. I decided to make another one for a friend and her baby.

One of my favourite parts that doesn’t require any sewing is the choosing of the fabric. Needlework has such an amazing selection of gorgeous printed quilt weight cotton fabrics that I quite literally could spend hours pouring over.

Here’s my finished work on my second baby quilt ever! You can see that my sewing lines aren’t straight and do a bit of meandering but I kinda like that it’s not perfect or totally symmetrical. Can’t wait to meet the little guy that’s going to get wrapped up in this blanket!

Needlework is offering the baby quilt class this summer on July 30th and August 6th. You can see their class schedule here.

vintage market place

Over the weekend we made our way to Hamilton’s very first Vintage Market Place at the Hamilton Convention Centre. It was really nice not to have to trek all the way to Toronto for a vintage market sale -finally! There were was just the right amount of vendors so as to not feel totally overwhelmed and to still have the energy to go off and do something else for the day (like say see Oprah, go to the Food and Drink Fest or just go home and have a nap).

White Elephant was there selling a beautiful selection of vintage dresses. I happily noted that they carried dresses of a variety sizes too; not just the typical teeny tinies. Bodega was there representing their 80′s rock vintage wares, and Chaises Musicales was also there showing off their vintage furniture.

It was great to see a lot of vendors that I’d never heard of before like High Flute VintageVintage Soul Geek and Girl on the Wing, who by the way is soon to open up her shop here in Hamilton at 181 King St. East -can’t wait!

Rekindle Home Upcycled Furniture

I was happy to score two tops perfect for the summer and the ever (still -ugh) transitioning shape of my post-baby body.

I’m really looking forward to watching this Vintage Market really grow in the following years.

sugar bush

The last weekend of March we were in Kingston visiting some old friends. While there we decided to make the most of the early spring weather by heading out to a nearby conservation area for a maple syrup festival.

To the sugar bush!

The trees were tapped with the sap flowing. We noted that they had several different methods of tapping, some with metal pails, other trees with blue plastic buckets, and some were tapped atop a hill with a series of connecting tubes that ran towards the sugar shack down the hill below (definitely the most efficient).

maple syrup evaporator

There wasn’t any snow of the ground so we weren’t able to do the classic maple syrup on snow or ice. Of course there were pancakes and although we’d already had a delicious breakfast we could not forgo sampling at least one (or two)!

This pancake was so delictable and the maple syrup was so fresh!

I hadn’t been to the sugar bush since I was a little kid. I’m sure in the upcoming years we’ll be doing an annual maple syrup pilgrimage to Mountsberg (and the like) with the little one.

 

sleep over

Among the many things that people will tell you when having kids is that your life will never be the same and that you’ll never be able to live like you used to. Honestly this idea kinda petrified me -to think that I’d be sequestered to an isolated parental island void of all “normal” social contact and/or limited only to baby/parent talk.

However, I’ve suprisingly found that besides the obvious life changes invovled in having a child, life with some effort can be quite as it were pre-baby.

The beauty is to come up with novel ideas on how to continue to socialize and maintain social equilibrium.

Thus far we have found that life can take on many of the same ceremonious social rituals (however, I’m sure this too will change). We’ve managed to finagle going out for dinners, visiting with friends, and more often than not, these days having friends over. We must of course give thanks to our friends, who have continued to request our social presence.

There are challenges that do arise in trying to socialize. Especially when we want to meet up with friends who live out of town that also have kids. Between naps, dinner, baths and bed time, this all  leaves little room to get in a satisfactory visit.

So in honour of living life the way we used to like let’s say having dinner with some old friends from out of town, we pulled off our first ever parent sleep over and it was a success. Once the kids had their dinner and bath time, and it was all quiet on the western front. We parents camped out in the mainfloor of the house with wine, escargot, bubbly Italian beers and fondue -how so appropriately over the top adult like of us.

an assortment of snacks -pickled radish, turnip & carrots plus some other randoms

tempura oil fondue -a Japanese twist on a French meal

the next morning -starting the day off right with some colouring

secret heart

I’m not someone who does a crazy amount of planning for special occasions. But I do often have little mini ideas mapped out in my head for treats that can easily be cooked up at any given time.

For this year’s Valentine’s Day I picked up a few gifts locally for some little surprises for my Valentine.

We love coffee at our house and since being home full-time I’ve seen my coffee consumption double! Steve, as of late, has been branching off from our traditionally consumed French-pressed coffee to espressos. So I thought I would indulge in his new coffee interest and get him a cute one-shot stove-top espresso maker. I picked one up from Faema on James North. They’ve got a pretty good selection of espresso machines, with a not-bad retro looking used one that we might actually be able to afford -eeek! If we end up getting it, it’ll soon be lattes and espressos all day long chez nous!

I also stopped by Ola Bakery for some Portuguese sweets. Ola has some lovely fluffy, flaky baked goods (and I’ve heard they do a great sandwich too).

As a Valentine’s mid-morning surprise I managed to put this spread together with a quickly crafted homemade Valentine’s Day card. Steve’s been really busy at work so it was nice to be able to share a quick coffee break midday in his at-home office while Omi napped.

I executed this next surprise Valentine’s treat that Steve has still yet to discover.

I recently saw a cute DIY post on Design Sponge about patching little moth eaten holes in sweaters with felted hearts. I really need to invest in some lavender sachets or a cedar something or another but I haven’t and so Steve and I both have a couple of sweaters with a few sad moth munched holes in them.

So besides needing a sweater with a hole, you’ll also need some felting wool and felting needles. I picked mine up from Needlework on James North.

You’ll also need 2 sponges to stack under the sweater for when your jabbing your wool with the needle. That way you won’t give yourself multiple stab wounds.

Next make a little stencil for the shape and size of the felted patch that you want. Flip your sweater so that you start felting your patch on the reverse side. Take a nice size bit of wool and start to felt away!

Once the shape is pretty solid from the reverse side, turn your sweater right side out. You should see the shape of the heart clearly. Take smaller and thinner pieces of wool to shape the heart and felt it until the heart looks nice and full.

I practiced first on my sweater with this red heart and did Steve’s hearts with grey wool. I thought the grey hearts on his grey sweater would be more subtle as I wasn’t so sure how he’d feel having bright red hearts felted everywhere.

Can’t wait for the day when he pulls the sweater out of the closet to wear and sees a few cute little grey hearts on his sleeve. Until then, shhh -don’t say a word.

not a pancake

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again my favourite meal of the day is…. brunch!

I know it’s Pancake Tuesday and everything, however, this post isn’t about pancakes but about my latest brunch discovery the croque madame.

To make this decadent brunch treat you need a fresh loaf of French bread. Slice it up and get it ready for some classic pan-fried French toast.

For every 5 slices of bread I use 2 eggs and about 1 cup of milk. I usually mix into the eggs a pinch of cinnamon and an even tinier pinch of clove powder. Slide a small pad of butter onto the pan and start French toasting away. If you want your French toast to be a little sweet sprinkle a bit of sugar on the side that’s up and hasn’t been flipped yet. Voila! Fluffy golden brown French toast.

Once you have your French toasts toasted you’re going to sandwich it up. First, spread a thin layer of dijon mustard  (I used a lovely maple dijon mustard & that little bit of sweetness was just right), then a slice or two of black forest ham and a generous amount of grated Swiss, gruyere or Emmantal cheese. Close up your sandwich with another piece of French toast. Heat up your oven to 400.

Next prepare your béchamel sauce. Which consists of butter, flour, milk and cheese with a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I used a béchamel sauce recipe from here.

Top your sandwich with the béchamel sauce and add a generous sprinkle of cheese on top. Then bake in the oven until the top is golden brown (about 10 minutes).

What’s in the oven is a complete croque monsieur. You can leave it at just that OR you can take it one notch up and add a poached or fried egg atop of the sandwich to make it a croque madame, which is what I did.

croque monsieur -a baked french toast sandwich with ham, swiss cheese and béchamel cream sauce.

 

So, while these beauties are browning and melting in the oven, get your eggs poaching or frying. I did my eggs fried sunny-side up, and garnished with some market fresh thick bacon.

Served this madame up with a nice light salad, oven roasted tomatoes and pan-fried crisp potato medallions.

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