b-i-n-g-o

Ever since moving to Hamilton there’s been a part of me that has always wanted to stop into Delta Bingo on King Street.  I’ve never played “real” bingo, and I feel as if the days of bingo halls are somewhat limited -a dying sport -you know just one of those weird and random things that somehow carried its way through the decades into the 21st century but will likely not be around forever.

So here we are in the year 2012. I’m nine months pregnant and sitting in a Bingo hall. It felt in many ways somewhat fitting.

With some friends visiting from Pittsburgh (Hamilton’s neighbouring rusty American older brother), we figured it was as good as a time as ever to bingo it up and celebrate all that downtown Hamilton has to offer.

We made a stop first for a mandatory Hamilton classic Ghostbuster donut from non other than Grandad’s Donut -the one next to the bingo hall and not to be confused with the recently closed Grandad’s Donut on James north (sniffle -I shed a tear).  We travelled with donut in hand to check out this bingo situation.

Well it turns out bingo is dirt cheap! For just a $1.25 you can play four games with three cards per game and a chance to win upwards of $200!!

The bingo patrons and workers were sweethearts too.  I think everyone caught the drift that we were novices. They took us under their bingo expert wings -always checking up on us, making sure we were on the right coloured card and familiarizing us with all the bingo lingo (diamond, rotating kite etc).

I have to admit although bingo is cheap it can just suck you right in and before you know it you’ve spent an afternoon tossing away dollars and not winning much.  We left with our eyes red and in a haze, only to be coaxed back in by a bingo veteran who told us we needed to try for the $2000 jackpot -beginners luck right?

Well we didn’t win, but we did learn some good bingo tips.

1. Buy your bingo dabber before, from a cheap place like a dollar store. We bought ours at the convenience store two doors down for $1.5o each

2. Spend a limited and set amount of time and money that is predetermined before you enter the bingo hall.  It’s so easy to get carried away when cards are cheap and they give you change in Delta Bingo coins. Before sitting down to play inquire what time the big jackpots are throughout the day and spend a $1 on just the one card and sit for that one game and then skedaddle.

3. If you’re planning on spending a while at the hall bring your own snacks and drinks.  We indulged in some fries and onion rings from the Delta Bingo cafeteria.  They gave us a little needed energy boost but they also burnt an $8 hole in our pockets that could’ve been better spent trying to win a bingo jackpot or just hitting the road $8 richer.

4.  Too many bingo cards at one time means trouble.  You’ll see all the elderly (and more advanced) bingo players doing it, but don’t get too ambitious… honestly playing more than six game cards per round made my head spin. I couldn’t keep up and kept missing multiple numbers.  For all I know I could’ve won the $2000 jackpot. I preferred sticking to three cards per bingo round. I failed entirely when we had a sheet with nine game cards to play at one time.

I would go back to play bingo at the Delta on another special occasion. Perhaps for a bachelorette or a birthday pitstop before drinks, dinner, a movie or bowling.

When and if the Delta does close I wonder what that huge space would be repurposed for.  Perhaps another downtown grocery store? Or maybe an indoor roller rink? A downtown McMaster University building? We’ll just have to wait and see…

o’s clothes with i heart hamilton pt. I

On a lovely summer day, a short while ago, Kristin Archer from I Heart Hamilton and I had a rendez vous meet up for our second lunch at Appleberry Café.  Owner Opal Osiol was so sweet and cooked up an enormous amount of menu samplers for us to try out -so damn good!  If you’re in the King East neighbourhood, I would recommend stopping in for lunch for the BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, fried dumpling, or butter pan-fried salmon (those were my favs).  Yum!  You can also read about our first visit to Appleberry Café from I Heart Hamilton here and from me here.

However, I detract from the purpose of this particular post and meet up with Kristin…

We wanted to check out two stores on Cannon Street -the recently opened O’s Clothes as well as the bright and fresh Relish Vintage.

O’s Clothes is a sassy little addition to the corner of Cannon just a tickle east of James Street North.

We stopped in to chat with owner Oliver Knutton about his new business.  It was easy to strike up a conversation with Oliver -he puts himself out there and was happy to share his stories and thoughts with Kristin and I.

When considering what type of store to open up in Hamilton his first thoughts were to open a record store but knowing Hamilton already has its fair share (Dr. Disc, Cheapies, Schizophrenic Records, Books & Beats etc.) he moved on to examine what that missing “je ne sais quoi” might be.  Noting a gap in urban men’s street wear in Hamilton, Oliver told us he decided the time was right to take the plunge (like many other young entrepreneurs in the city) and open up shop.

I follow O’s Clothes on Twitter (@OsclothesK) and love the instagram feed of photos he posts of his customers and their purchases.  I asked Oliver if for the most part it’s his friends that come by to shop.  He agreed that when the shop first opened just about two months ago his friends did make up a large portion of his clientelle but he soon found young guys from the neighbourhood -high school kids were dropping in picking up T-shirts, shoes and the like adding to his client base.

You can tell the stores got an appeal for young guys.  I loved how when approaching the store the “sandwich board” (which is actually a speaker) was pumping out some awesome hiphop -for sure a nice pocket scene I haven’t seen the likes of in Hamilton.  In my younger days in search of something of this sort I’d have to have trekked it in to Toronto, to stores like Uncle Otis, Noise or Get Outside. Well no more… Hamilton holds its own!

Oliver mentioned that after a fashion feature in The Spec titled The Shopper and as word of his store spreads he’s had visits from folks from all over the city and of all ages.  Oliver told us of two recent sales to an elderly man (65+) who picked up a pair of funky-swish sunglasses because they reminded him of a pair of glasses he used to have in his youth.  Another senior aged woman came by and picked up a gorgeous colourful Fjällräven backpack for her travels. So I guess it’s safe to say that O’s Clothes with their quality goods and apparel has got an appeal to not just the young folk but men and women alike both young and old.

Colourful vegan friendly Borel belts to the right of the photo also come in dark green, grey, white and brown. I ask you -who else in the city carries vegan belts?

The lovely Kristin Archer from I Heart Hamilton modeling some goods at O's Clothes.

Oliver said that he’s making a special effort to carry local artist’s and designs in his shop.  Top left Kristin holds up a beautifully printed scarf by Hamilton local Rebecca Duyzer (she had a little vintage U-haul store at the August Art Crawl and also has an Etsy store you can check out here).  O’s Clothes also carries T-shirts designed and printed by Dave O’Connor like the centre image of the red Pizza Wizard T-shirt.

Unique to Oliver’s store, besides the brands and clothes he carries, are his custom made corrugated cardboard shelves that he designed (take note the next time you’re by the shop).  He says people often ask him about the shelves to see if they can get ahold of some -not only because they look super cool but also because they’re the perfect fit for storing a nice collection of vinyl.

Oliver’s store, his personality and open friendliness was all round awesome.  As Kristin and I checked out the goods friendly faces were popping in and saying their hello’s to Oliver.  In just a few short months of being open O’s Clothes already seems like a pretty solid neighbourhood fixture.

Had a great afternoon with Kristin from I Heart Hamilton chatting with Oliver.  Kristin looks amazing in those sunglasses doesn’t she? Looking forward to doing another meet up with I Heart Hamilton again -so nice to have a partner in blogging from time to time.

Don’t forget to check out I Heart Hamilton’s Post on O’s Clothes and Relish Vintage here!

*O’s Clothes,  8 Cannon St. East, 905.518.1455 , W-F 11-7, S 12-6, S 12-5, follow O’s Clothes on twitter @OsclothesK

relish vintage with i heart hamilton pt. II

Our second shop stop on Cannon was to non other than Relish Vintage!

Sometime ago when Downtown Bike Hounds had just moved to John Street, I blogged about the soon to open Relish Vintage (see that post here).  Since Relish opened over a year and a half ago, I have of course been by the store many times but had yet to do a blog post (and I did want to do one!).

So after Kristin from I Heart Hamilton and I visited O’s Clothes we decided we’d pop into Relish too to share some of our love for the shops holding it down on Cannon Street.

Love the super bright green storefront exterior!

Store owner Katherine Hollands has a good eye for vintage finds and for selecting fabulous items from unique local designers.  The store carries such a breadth of items that all seem to complement and work perfectly together.  Relish has everything from refurbished vintage furniture to classic vintage dishes, greeting cards, wallets, bags and beautifully crafted Canadian made and designed clothes.

Relish is often my go to place for when I need to find a unique gift for someone. I’ve bought a beautiful leather wallet, greeting cards, and a set of awesome Christmas cocktail glasses.

My friend Lindsay (of Hoot Furnishing) refurbished the desk on the right with a chalkboard top -selling for $75!  Both desks are perfect for the back to school season.

I also love the artwork that is for sale at Relish.  The artwork on the photo above and to the right is by Sarah Holland.  Her 4×4″ oil on canvas paintings are $25 a piece.

Artwork by artist Philip Grant -encaustic on board (with frame) $120.

Stop into Relish sometime there are always new things coming into the store.  Say hello to Katherine you’ll likely see her in the store with her newest little addition to her family or with her adorable dog.

You can also follow Katherine via her blog Be Enamoured or on Twitter @RelishHamilton.  Relish is on Etsy too -you can check out the on-line store here.

Loved touring the local shops and spots again with Kristin from I Heart Hamilton.  You can check out her post here.  Can’t wait up to explore together again Kristin!

*Relish Vintage, 6 Cannon St. East, 905.973.8269, W-Sat 12-6, Sun 12-4

 

short + sweet

I’ll make this post short and sweet.

The other day Steve was a baking master and made four whole pies -two peach and two meat!

The peach pie was made with fresh, local and in season peaches.  So yum!

It was one of the best peach pies I’ve ever had and perfectly paired with a mega scoop of Dr. Scoop Icecreamist Vanillaallin; salted caramel swirl.

I was happy to have finally made it out to the Ottawa Street market to buy some of Dr. Scoop’s infamously delicious ice-cream.  It was Ciara Brennan’s last day selling her organic and handmade ice-cream for this summer season.  Got some just in the nick of time!

In addition to the Vanillaallin I also picked up a Cinnamon Peach.  So amazing!

bishop park

Some of my favourite evenings of this summer were spent at Bishop Park in the Stinson neighbourhood.

Every Thursday evening from July 7th until August 25th the neighbourhood surrounding Bishop Park gathered to hear some fabulous live music.  Songs from the Bishop showcased local Hamilton musical talent from the likes of Terra Lightfoot of the Dinner Belles to Adam Bentley from The Rest plus many other fabulously talented musical acts.

The times I’ve gone the crowd has varied from about a hundred people to an intimate gathering of neighbourhood folk. People seemed to know each other. They’d gather on the park benches, on the grass or on lawn chairs to sit back and take in the musical act of that particular Thursday evening.

In the canopied shade of Bishop Park we would sing along whenever we could.  Kids often busted out into awesome dance moves and routines, and overall there was just a real sense of community and neighbourliness.

I loved how the late summer sun was sinking behind the trees, and you could just tell the summer season was coming to a close.

The most recent concert I saw in Bishop Park was the last one of the summer.  Adam Bentley, who was integral in putting on Songs of the Bishop, played for us. His voice is so beautiful and it carried wonderfully in the open air -almost hauntingly.  It was a different sound and a real treat to hear Adam sing in bare bones form -without the ambiant wall of sound (from his band The Rest) that usually accompanies him.

I only ever made it out to two evenings of the Songs from the Bishop and wish I’d come out for more. I really do hope that next year the concert series continues.

I love all the secret little things that are happening in Hamilton all the time.  It makes me adore where we live and gets me excited for what new creative initiatives we will discover in the months and years to come!

I leave you with a little music from Hamilton’s The Rest.  They do have a new album out so go out and get yours!

 

fiesta forever…

I would say that we’re no traditionalists when it comes to baby showers and other such celebrations.  So when my sister and friend offered to plan a “baby shower” they made sure it would be as unorthodox of a shower as you could get.  We went with the theme of a fiesta! I couldn’t have thought of a more fun and colourful way to celebrate.

Collaboratively we gathered up, bought and made fiesta decorations for the house and yard which were fabulously vibrant.  Everything looked so beautiful! The weather cooperated and it was proper summer hot and breezy.

Setting up pre-fiesta, with morning sun shining in.

frida kahlo drink coasters, fiesta wedding, fiesta baby shower

Loved the Frida Kahlo drink coasters!

Lavender, mint lemonade with lemon ice pucks.

We had a tub of cold cerveza, Mexican pop, and sangria. And of course a party would also not be complete without… tequila!

Since we already had our friends and family in attendance, and since there was great food, drinks, and lovely decorations up -Steve and I had thought to ourselves why not combine this baby-fiesta with non other than a SURPRISE WEDDING!! And that’s just what we did.

It was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done.  I loved seeing the expressions of shock on everyone’s faces, followed by tears, exclamations, and hooting and hollering.  We had such a fabulous day celebrating AND not to mention I felt content having escaped the pressures and stress that all come when you plan an unsurprise wedding.  There were people that of course we would’ve liked to have invited and would’ve travelled from a far to celebrate with us but this surprise wedding really made everything so simple and brought it back down to the basic crux of the matter -we got married and we had so much fun doing it!!

fiesta wedding, surprise wedding

 

i’ll say it just this once…

baby-moon.

With only a month and a half left before our baby’s due date Steve and I decided to take some advice from our friends who have children, and go on a mini-vacation just the two of us (before we lose this privilege for what many claimed would be an eternity). It was also really just a great excuse to escape from the city for some real relaxation: no computers, no phones, just good food, pool side swims, afternoon snoozes and time to enjoy the fleeting moments of summer and life as just the two of us.

Not wanting to go too far we looked into a few inns around Niagara on the Lake but opted instead for something a little more out of the summer wine country tourist trap area and alas we came upon Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario!

Taking only the country back-roads it took us just less than 45 minutes by car from downtown Hamilton to reach this little 100 something year old country estate and oasis.

The grounds of the inn were quite beautiful, and included tennis courts, croquet course, heated outdoor pool, vegetable garden, pond, 12km of wooded trails (for hiking or biking), plus a spa with free access to their sauna, hot tub, and steam room.

They had a gorgeous vegetable garden that Steve and I drooled over at length.  Purple plum tomatoes, bell peppers, purple kale, and pumpkins ripe on the vine already!

A little pool side reading that I had picked up from Mixed Media (thanks Dave!).

I frequently get told that I’m carrying small so as luck would have it I could still fit into this dress and I think I may have just made the cut for the Langdon Hall dinner dress code (dinner at Langdon Hall was a formal affair: no denim or shorts, and a suit jacket is recommended)!

The food was devine, delicate and ornately beautiful. We sampled some snow crab with edible flowers, raw elk with oyster (Steve sampled that), duck, beef, dessert or a choice of sampling from the cheese cart of exclusively gourmet Canadian cheeses, and then again more dessert.

A three course dinner came with our hotel stay plus a gorgeous country breakfast in the morning. If you so fancied you could get a seven course meal with wine pairings, as well as pairings of scotches, brandy or cognacs to go with your gourmet cheeses and dessert sampling platter.

I have to admit this was an extravagant visit and we will likely not indulge in something so exquisite again for a long time. I don’t think I would’ve been able to comfortably camp this summer so a fancy hotel was our ONLY alternative -right?  I am sure that we’ll make up for it for many years to come when our summers will be spent camping and exploring the far reaching corners and wilderness of Canada and the US -sounds pretty dreamy to me!

*Langdon Hall Country House & Spa, 1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, Ontario, 519.740.2100

the upholstery man

I had the great pleasure a short while ago of meeting a very interesting man.

His upholstery shop was closing after over half a century of service in Hamilton.  I was fortunate enough to take a peak at his old shop and to spend some time hearing his stories.

During my visits he showed me some of the most beautiful hand painted and embroidered spools of fabric purchased from back in the heydays of New York City -the designer’s name hand painted onto the end of the fabric on each bolt.  He was selling the bolts for only $30-50 each -they must’ve been a pretty penny back in the day. When I went to visit him for a second day he had mentioned that just after I had left some folks from the textile museum stopped in to take photos of the fabric and do some documentation.  He said he felt a bit like a movie star! I had wished that we weren’t in the process of purging and decluttering our home otherwise I would have taken at least 1-2 bolts off his hands without a doubt.

He seemed to be 80+ years old but with his wits and humour still abound.  He knew very well how to price the items he was selling. There were some great antique pieces that needed to be gone by the end of the week. An old medicine cabinet, wooden farm chairs, and wooden trunk plus many other pieces being over 100+ years old (and priced at over $100).  He was sure to sell to some real antique buyers -no garage sale steals to be had here. And those pieces did sell.

I really felt like I could’ve visited the shop everyday that it was to remain open (there were only 5 days left until everything had to be out). I felt quite enchanted with the store’s history as well as the life of the shop owner.  The last day I visited was to pick up the least antique like thing in the shop.  Steve and I bought a shelf unit that would fit our record collection perfectly as well as our newly purchased TV (first TV purchase ever!).  While Steve went to get the dolly from our house to wheel the shelf back home I chatted with the upholsterer.  I felt a kind of sadness for shops similar to this one with such history rooted in Hamilton -all the stories he had and people he’d met throughout his life in the city that would soon be lost or never told.  I wanted to hear about everything: how the city had changed, how and why he ended up in Hamilton… I intended on coming back every day that week, but for some reason didn’t make it back.  The store is now empty and closed.

I hope one day that I run into the upholsterer again…

the real instagram

The past 9 months have been dedicated to organizing, sorting and purging all in preparation for our little one that’s due to arrive in 4 weeks (ahh!). Thus far we’ve managed to sort through a ton of stuff which has been tough.

Let it be known that Steve and I like to collect things, and by that I mean things that we have carted around with us from place to place (for years) with the hopes of one day fixing, using, or just holding on to for the sake of nostalgia.

Take this polaroid camera for example.

What a beaut!

We had one. It’s now gone (sniffle, wipe tear).  Alas, we had no film for it -whaddya do just keep on holding on simply for its vintage coolness factor?  Yeah -duh.  Well we let it go…

I did come across my Japanese version of a compact polaroid called a Cheki that I picked up while living there about a decade ago.  It still works, and I thankfully still have some film. So it made the “to keep” pile, and I already have plans to put it to good use.

There have been other golden treasures that we’ve sorted through, many of which we’ve kept others which have moved on.  I’ll be sure to continue posting these relics from the past as the organization process continues.

vintage garden tea room

When a friend suggested a summer tea reading at the Vintage Garden Tea Room just off of Locke Street, I could not say no; fresh scones, devonshire clotted cream, preserves, lavender lemonade and a tea reading to boot!

I do love dainty things like afternoon tea, and I do like checking out places I’ve never been to.  I just may have visited this tea shop way back when it was directly on Locke Street but that was over 8 years ago, and I’m not even sure if it was the same tea shop -in any case the location on Pine just east of Locke was a first for me, and it was lovely.

 Vintage Garden Tea Room, Hamilton

vintage salt and pepper shakers

 

There were a lot of ladies there for high tea, with a small speckle of the men-folk.  The atmosphere was abuzz with quite a stir and chatter as tables received their tea leaf readings. There were also hats and other fancies that if you so desired you could don to add to the dramatic flare of afternoon tea time.

This was my first tea reading, and I must say that I was thoroughly impressed.  I’m not necessarily one for psychics and the sort, however in the past few years I have had a couple of tarot card readings at showers and bachelorettes that have intrigued me.  This tea reading was by far the best!  For $12 the resident tea leaf reader Sandee doesn’t mess around: she’s direct, gets to the point, and doesn’t do a lot of seeking or prodding.  She tells it like it is, with specific time frames and scenarios for how your future might just play out.  I won’t reveal my reading (although it was interesting!) you’ll have to go and get one yourself.

Readings are done on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11am-2:15pm with the highly recommended suggestion to reserve a table and reading before hand.

Vintage Garden Tea Room, Hamilton, Ontario

Sorry about the picture of the half eaten scone -we couldn't resist some sampling before I got around to photo taking.

 

You can go for the full English High Tea spread complete with cucumber sandwiches and sweet treats.  We opted for a Cream Tea, which came with the most delicious and fresh scone, clotted cream and preserves plus a pot of loose leaf tea of your choice.

Vintage Garden Tea Room, Hamilton, Ontario

 

*Vintage Garden Tea Room, 35 Pine Street, 905.523.8282, Tues-Sat. 11-4

 

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