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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

cuba palm tree2

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.

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.

birthday party

Early this spring Omi attended his very first kid birthday party.

It was one of the first warm days after the winter thaw, and we were all so keen on being outside and enjoying the non-nastiness of winter; perfect for the little ones to run around in the yard.

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Carrot cake birthday cake with that cream cheese icing -yes please! These were the best homemade birthday cakes ever! The birthday boy’s grandmother made them. She even made a stacked Momufuku malt-brownie cake topped with Whoppers (my hero)!!

 

pittsburgh pittstop + on to DC

In mid-March, when winter was still kicking it big, we decided to go on a family road trip to Washington DC!

We had little to no expectations about the success of our travels (it being an 8 hour car drive to DC and having an active toddler that doesn’t normally like to sit still). We went for it anyway, opting for a overnight midway-stop in Pittsburgh.

I love Pittsburgh! But unfortunately for this particular visit, the exploring and wanderings were kept to a minimum. We were really only there to break our journey and to give Omi some romping time. Despite the short visit we did manage to fit in a quick early morning breakfast meet-up with some old friends before getting back into the car for the rest of the journey to DC.

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We’ve most definitely got a runner on our hands! This trip mostly consisted of chasing after Omi.

pittsburgh doors

Pittsburgh has some great doors, buildings, bars, diners, dives and just all round an amazing vibe. Wish we could’ve stayed longer.

We made it to DC unscathed and were rewarded with budding tulips, crocuses and warm spring weather. All the while we’d heard that Southern Ontario was being hit by a crazy mid-March blizzard!

The visit was a mix of relaxing and visiting with family, sharing good meals together and the occasional day trip out for some sightseeing.

Happy to be somewhere without snow, we stripped ourselves of winter coats and picked a warm grey spring day to check out DC proper.

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With coffees in hand we wandered the museum arcade making our way in and out of the various Smithsonians and stopping for an extended session of merry-go-round admiring and pebble throwing.

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All the museums in DC are free! So it was perfect for our noncommittal walk-throughs that were just long enough to keep a toddler entertained. Since it wasn’t tourist season the museums weren’t too busy, which allowed for quick entrance and hassle-free easy manoeuvring around on the inside. Just a week or two later and it would’ve been packed for DC’s infamous cherry blossom viewing.

To coincide with an escape from a spring rainfall we spent a longer time checking out the contemporary art collection at the Hirshhorn. Once the rain cleared I spent an even longer time outside with Omi admiring the circular architecture of the museum.

Midcentury modern architect Gordon Bunshaft, who designed one of my favourite art galleries -The Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, also designed the Hershhorn.

Hirshorn Museum

Travelling with a little one does have its challenges but overall I’m happy that we keep trying it out. So long as our expectations of what we do when travelling continue to adjust and evolve with Omi then I hope to continue to squeeze in as much exploring and as many mini-trips as we can!

 

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.

 

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