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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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

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