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.

painting hamilton

The latest exhibit we checked out at the AGH was back in January -Painting Hamilton; a contemporary exhibit curated by Melissa Bennet, which featured ten artists from local Hamilton and the Greater Hamilton area. I loved this exhibit. It was amazing to see so many local Hamilton artists’ work up and hanging on those big old walls.

Mirroring Christina Sealey's work

Exploring the artwork of Christina Sealey; local Hamilton artist whose exhibit is currently showing at Carnegie Gallery in Dundas until March 1st.

Daniel Hutchinson Super Symmetric Electric

Daniel Hutchinson‘s work Supersymmetricelectric from a series of paintings titled Paintings for Electric Light, which are site-sensitively coloured with fluorescent light components.

Painting Hamilton

Exploring the first floor of the AGH and the Painting Hamilton exhibit.

One permanent exhibit that I can never get enough of is Kim Adams’ Bruegel-Bosch Bus. The installation continues to evolve and grow and I’ve been happy to witness these changes over the years of visiting the AGH. It was Omi’s first visit to this exhibit and he absolutely loved it! He couldn’t stop pointing out all the ladders, trains, trucks and towering buildings. I was amazed at his little two year old self-control in not touching the exhibit! It’s so touch-worthy!

Kim Adams Bruegel-Bosch Bus Exploring Kim Adams 2

Exploring Kim Adams

 

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

 

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