detour brunch

For the second year in a row my plans to go to the fall Christie Antique Show were thwarted by rain. But alas when such things happen you make the most of the situation, which we did, by making a stop at Detour Café.

One of my favourite things on Detour’s menu is the brunch! I love Detour’s Weekender brunch which consists of: two eggs, Detour hash, naturally raised bacon and Detour sausage, oven-roasted tomato, toast, and tomato chilli jam. It’s one thing when you go to a place for a mediocre brunch that costs a pretty penny, but it’s an entirely different thing when a brunch is worth every finger licking cent and more! This Detour meal was the latter. The homemade tomato chilli jam and ketchup was killer, as was the the in house-made fresh and bread, plus the thick and savoury bacon. MMMMM!

In other news…..

The latest word on the street is that the lovely folks from Manual Labour (mobile coffee) are moving to Australia, (which is great for them!) but incredibly sad for us mobile coffee enthusiasts. Sniffle… BUT (dry your tears) the super amazing news is that Detour will actually be taking the reigns and continuing on the Manual Labour mobile trailer/truck tradition. Phew!

*Detour Café, 41 King St. West, Dundas, 289.238.8360, @_DetourCafe

café oranje

I have a new favourite neighbourhood coffee shop because… Café Oranje is now open for business!

Café Oranje is a Dutch inspired contemporary style coffee house that serves baked goods from Hamilton’s Cake and Loaf, as well as locally roasted coffees. They also have some beautiful and delicious Dutch treats like stroopwafel and boterkoek (a little something like shortbread) that are an absolute must have to accompany any coffee.

So proud of owners Chris Godwaldt and Amy Gringhuis for all their determination and hard work in opening up something that I know they have been dreaming about for a long time. These two plus a small crew of friends renovated, designed, and decorated the space right down to the floor boards and fixtures. If you ever saw the space as Appleberry’s or (two former incarnations ago) as a Moroccan tea house, you’d know that this transformation is pretty amazing. It’s bright and airy and has storefront window-seating for gazing and people watching plus a comfy back sitting area for a little cozy café lounging.

Co-owner Chris Godwaldt about to barista up some brews.

My first Café Oranje café verkeerd (the literal translation is wrong coffee but it's basically a café au lait)

The floors are such a nice warm nutty brown. Chris and Amy sanded these bad boys down themselves.

Owners Chris Godwaldt and Amy Gringhuis

*Café Oranje, 312 King St E, @cafeoranjeham

seven sundays at gage park

Hello Hamilton, I’m back! I feel like I’ve been neglecting you all summer long.

August was filled with out of town and out of country visitors plus several weekends of double booked backyard BBQ’s, a lengthy summer cold, a broken toe, and a baby with a ruthless new penchant for walking. Despite the many great things that were happening all over the city this summer I feel like I kinda wasn’t around much.

One evening I did manage to sneak off to one of the Seven Sundays in Gage Park. If this is the first you’ve heard of Seven Sundays; it’s an eight week free concert series at the Gage Park bandshell featuring local musicians (and food trucks) followed by a movie screening. I really hope to make it to more of these next summer -such a lovely way to spend a Sunday night.

There’s something super fabulous about hearing live open air music on a summer evening. There was a great crowd out to see Jesse Lanza perform against the backdrop of the seafoam Geaorge R. Robinson bandshell and the greenery of the escarpment. Sigh -oh summer time.

the last leg

The last leg of our Euro travels was definitely the most challenging. In a one week period we would travel from Sussex to London, then by train to Zurich via Paris and then another train on to Frankfurt before getting on a nine hour flight back home. Mixed into all this was some serious teething, learning to walk, stroller rejection and a family epidemic of sickness.

Through it all we still managed to get in some art viewing at the Tate Modern as well as at the Museum of Modern Art in Zurich. We just did a lot of carrying Omi in our arms and taking long breaks by fountains, sandboxes, open squares and parks.

Dan Flavin at the Tate Modern in London

Omi and I in front of Cy Twombly's painting

A friend of mine that lives in Zurich lent us her flat for the four nights we were there. She has a beautiful loft that had some of the most amazing windows from which you could see the Swiss mountains, Zurich rooftops and the forest. The windows could swivel to be open at some crazy angels, so at night time you could have views of the moon and stars and catch some wonderful breezes. Nights in the apartment were a relief from the heat of the day since during our stay there was a European wide heatwave. The fifth floor flat of my friend’s would get upwards to 35 degrees!

during one of Omi's early morning wake ups I spotted the moon over the mountains

Zurich proved to be a rather expensive city. But one thing that I did love about it is that it is situated perfectly on an extremely beautiful and clean lake. Just a short tram ride away we got down to the lake on our first day and spent the entire afternoon and evening taking dips in the various swimming areas, drinking beers and eating some great food.

By this part of our journey we’d long given up hope of sitting in coffee shops or restaurants with Omi. He just wanted to walk around and get into all sorts of mischief. I popped into an exquisite bakery called Péclard and picked up the most delicious savoury ham and cheese croissant a sweet treat and some coffees that we ate while taking turns entertaining Omi in a nearby square.

All things said and done, despite all its challenges, I am so happy that we did it!

After a couple weeks now of being in Hamilton again I finally feel like we’re back in the swing of things. I still have a few more weeks to enjoy what’s left of the summer before my maternity leave ends and I’m back to work.

seaside crabbing

While we were still visiting our friend’s place in Petworth, England, we were able to go on some wonderful day trips.

The beauty of this leg of the vacation, before things got all crazy on us, was that it made traveling with a baby seem quite flawlessly easy: lay low in the mornings, then a drive to a kid friendly yet extremely picturesque destination to more or less just relax in the afternoons. It was all so civilized!

On this particular trip we drove out to Bosham, which is a lovely little town by the seaside.

The tide in the town’s bay ebbs and flows dangerously close to all the cottage houses. Some of the cottages even have tiny elevated pint sized doors so that when the tide rolls in they can still go out the door without having to worry about flooding their house.

Really one of our main purposes of trekking to Bosham was to get in a little seaside crabbing. My friend crafted up a crabbing contraption that consisted of some rope and netting as well as some cooked bacon as bait. Off a little dock a crew of young kids and parents were casting their crab catchers and pulling up these critters into crab buckets.

There was this dreamy tree that had some great shade that we flocked to. We set up a temporary home base here and took turns going out to crab and minding the little ones.

petworth

From Iceland we made our way to England to a small and picturesque town about an hour south of London called Petworth.

We arrived in Petworth on a road that wound through a darkened tunnel of carefully trimmed trees and hedges. In the dusk we could see the faint outline of a wall which extended quite a ways outlining the Lord of Petworth’s land. And yes his “Lordship”, as he is referred to, does still live in Petworth, in his Lordly house (aka Petworth House). I could so picture a horse and carriage clip-clopping along on the road to Petworth passing by vagrant travelling merchants and perhaps even stumbling across a small village of hobbits.

I could stand to be corrected, but from what I’ve gathered the cottages and homes in Petworth are roughly from the 16th and 17th century. Yeah! And the town is filled with crazy old (and expensive) antiques from those two centuries.

One of the only antique stores that I ventured into, mostly because it actually looked like I could afford to buy something here.

One of my favourite places in Petworth. The Hungry Guest and its up-the-road neighbour The Hungry Guest Cafe. The Hungry Guest, like most destinations in Petworth, was less than a 5 minute walk away from our friend’s place. So it was an easy go-to-place for our daily “fancy” coffee runs. This place was so poshly fabulous. It had a walk-in chilled cheese room, where you could sample and be schooled about your cheeses before purchasing. They also had about a million spreads, jellies, jams, and chutneys to go beautifully with all their really delicious and expensive cheese (we did indulge just once).

During our stay in Petworth we also did a lot of pubbing. This was mostly because we love beer and pubs, but also because despite Petworth’s small size there was still a generous spattering of pubs to visit.

Our first pub visit was a rather adventurous trek through some rolling English hills with kids and babies and the ridiculously and unsually hot English sun. It was well worth the hike as fish and chips and hand-pumped ales of the perfect and proper English temperature were soon to be consumed.

A countryside pub in Petworth.

The Petworth leg of our European travels was by far the most relaxing. It made traveling with a baby seem like a piece of cake. Our friend’s have kids too, with one being the same age as Omi, so we basically co-parented for the mornings spent at home and then during the afternoons we’d venture out together on some beautiful day trips to the seaside, to medieval castles and of course to have a proper English cream tea.

There was an unseasonably hot heat wave that was hitting most of Europe, so on some days when it was too hot to do much of anything, we’d spend our days in Petworth enjoying our friend’s English garden a la inflatable pool.

reykjavik

This summer we ambitiously decided to take a multi-stop European vacation with a ten month old in tow.

Our main intention of this particular trip was to meet up with some dear friends of ours, who live in a small town south of London (stay tuned for that post soon). However, Steve and I have both always really wanted to visit Iceland and learned it was actually a lot easier than we thought to make this all come true. We decided to do a quick three night stopover in Reykjavik before moving onward to England.

What did not work out well was that the night of our flight that crazy torrential rain storm hit, with Pearson Airport being at its epicentre. Luckily our flight didn’t get cancelled but the six hour delay made for a challenging start to our travels and not to mention our first time traveling with a baby on the verge of toddling.

Once we finally arrived in Iceland, with bloodshot and bleary eyes, we soaked in some of the volcanic landscapes during the ride from Keflavik to Reykjavik.

Iceland is such a beautiful place!

A short walk from the main street of Reykjavik you can see black volcanic rocky mountains blanketed with a skirt of rich greenery from just across the way.

We stayed in a furnished Air BnB apartment that was perfect: close to the centre of town, great for midday breaks for Omi (to get some stroller free romping time), and it was likely cheaper than staying at a hotel or guest house.

Steve and Omi at the door of our Reykjavik apartment

On a few occasions I noticed young kids out and about on their own. I liked it and secretly wished that every child could experience this type of autonomy.

For most of our holidays (pre-departure) I usually spend a long time researching areas to check out: restaurants, cafés, galleries and shops etc. But on this trip we spent so much time preparing to travel with a baby that I did zero research about any of the places we were visiting. Luckily we stumbled across a lovely blog called I Heart Rekjavik, which gave us a few good tips for some places to eat. I don’t remember if this was a recommendation from the blog, but in any case we wanted to check out a restaurant by the old harbour called Icelandic Fish and Chips.

First off I love fish and chips and I would basically eat them from any dirty old hole in the wall. Sometimes the dirtier the better -right? Well this particular restaurant was no dive. In fact, it was extra great because it used all organic and local ingredients (right down to the salt)! It somehow made me feel less guilty eating something typically so bad.

We ordered Tusk, which is a cod-like Icelandic fish; spelt battered and fried with oven baked potato wedges plus a tzatziki skyronnaise dip (made from skyr; a uniquely Icelandic virtually fat-free milk product that’s basically like a cheese or yogourt) -yes please!

The Icelandic summer was relatively cool but the daylight lasted 24 hours. The first night in Rekyjavik, even though I hadn’t slept in over a day, I struggled to fall asleep because of the glowing light from the windows. However, few of the windows I saw around town had dark shades. In fact a lot of windows had no shades at all or just a delicate covering like this super cute window below.

Because much of the Reykjavik is on a hill it made for some layered views of roof tops and buildings when peering in between little lane ways.

The main commercial street in Rekyjavik becomes a pedestrian street during the entire summer season! During the summer the bicycle gates swing shut closing the street to pedestrians only. Amazing! Hamilton could learn a thing or two from Rekyjavik (their main street is a one lane one-way).

There were some really beautiful shops with gorgeous shoes, clothes and design goods.

We didn’t venture into too many stores but one that we did pop into was a Dutch owned store called Tiger. I just have to say this ain’t no Giant Tiger. They sell stationary, kitchen wares, toys, craft materials, electronics and even makeup at lower-ish prices. It’s kinda like dollar store meets Muji mashed up with some Ikea.

Reykjavik was so cosmopolitan in that there were so many different kinds of international food and bars that it took a little hard searching to find a place that actually served a traditional Icelandic meal. We ended up going to a place called Café Loki.

Two slices of homemade rye bread with herring and egg and three different kinds of fish. Surprisingly delicious was their sweet rye bread ice-cream. This was our last and my favourite meal in Iceland.

One thing we did a lot of while in Reykjavik was drink a lot of coffee and every where we got it from was simply amazing. On our way back from Café Loki we discovered a coffee shop I would’ve probably visited every day that we were in Reykjavik had it not been the last place we went to before getting on the airport bus back to Keflavik.

pink coffee bean roaster

cafe complete with pink coffee bean roaster

Just outside the coffee shop was something that I observed all over Reykjavik; leave your baby in their stroller outside while you run in to shop. I never heard any babies crying and there were no creepy baby snatchers lurking in the corner waiting to pounce on temporarily abandoned prams.

It was a very short stay in Iceland. The only thing I regret is not having had an extra day or two to have rented a car and driven around the countryside. Maybe next time?

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.

new music expo

In the past few years it has become a bit of an informal tradition to head down to Gage Park for It’s Your Festival.

I love summer festivals. Especially ones that are relatively close to our house.

But let’s be honest. I mostly love summer festivals because of funnel cake.

After I got my funnel cake fix we headed over to a little side stage tucked in back of Gage Park for the New Music Expo.

For the past two years this mini concert series has been a fav of Steve and mine. It’s off the beaten track and in many ways reminds me of days when I was weee little teenager and would see bands down by the lake at the gazebo for Friday Night Live in Burlington.

For the most part the bands are raw, kinda gritty, loud and experimental. What I especially liked was that it allowed for Steve and I both to enjoy a show together since Omi could be there too; tumbling around on the grass and clovers.

We only made it for Dobbie Freaks and a smidge of Glasseylashes before we packed it up for the evening.

Last year my highlights were Pucumber Sassquash and The Mystics.

Pucumber Sassquash at the New Music Expo stage 2012

The Mystics at the New Music Expo stage 2012

Happy that there’s still a few summer festivals still kicking it here at Gage Park. Love the seafoam bandshell (don’t ever change), and also love that there’s the Seven Sundays of Gage Park summer concert series, which has a line up of some really great musicians such as the Dinner Belles, Harrison Kennedy, and Jesse Lanza (check her beautifully cool video below), plus there’ll be movie screenings and food trucks. The series kicks off this Sunday July 7th but you can also check their website here for their schedule.

The Dinner Belles playing the bandshell 2012

I leave you with Jesse Lanza’s most recent video shot in  Hamilton featuring Jed the dancing guy. Jesse will be playing at the Gage Park bandshell on Sunday August 11th at 7pm for the Seven Sundays concert series.

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