33 ain’t bad

For a really long time I had been wanting to go to South Sea Chinese restaurant on Ottawa St.  Usually I can’t make it past the South Sea signage without stopping to peer and sometimes even gawk through the front windows.  The restaurant is stuck in a majorly wicked time warp.  Chinese taverns like this really bring me back to Chinese restaurants from my youth (they have the Chinese zodiac paper placemats and everything!).  This particular restaurant has been around for 28 years and probably has not changed much since the day it first opened.

As a special treat for my 33rd birthday we decided to indulge in a nostalgic  culinary and atmospheric journey of  true Chinese Canadian cuisine as it would’ve been circa 1983.  If you want chicken balls, egg rolls, fried rice, honey garlic spareribs, and chow mein; just some good ol’ classic North American Chinese you can’t go wrong with South Sea.  Who knows how long restaurants of this era will stick around for?  I feel like they’re quickly becoming vintage relics of their own kind.  If you’re interested in learning more about the unique history of Chinese restaurants in small towns across Canada (there’s basically at least 1 Chinese restaurant in every town no matter how small!) then you should pick up Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada.  Author Lily Cho can give you the real historic low down.

 

What girl doesn’t love sparklers on their birthday!?  After South Sea Steve suggested we have a tea out back, and then he busted out the sparklers!  This was still during the lovely and unusually warm fall nights from about a week back, so it was just about the most perfect and beautiful way to end the celebrations of my 33rd birthday. Thanks Steve!

 

*South Sea Restaurant, 282 Ottawa St. north, Hamilton, 905.545.0352

art crawl tonight!

October’s art crawl is on tonight from 7-10pm!

I wanted to share some photos of the last art crawl before the Supercrawl, which was a busy one too.

The Friendship building was a buzz with the Beehive Craft Collective’s Craft Fair, and the galleries were packed and filled with hot summer air,  the streets were full and everyone was enjoying a gorgeous summer night.  It seems so long ago, now that the weather has really turned to fall.

Beehive Collective, Summer Craft Fair, old Friendship Gift Shop,
Beehive Craft Collective Summer Craft Fair window display
You Me Gallery Exhibit August, 2011, 330 James St. north, art crawl

You Me Gallery Exhibit in August

mini colourful hand windmills, You Me Gallery, exhibit James north art crawl, August 2011

 

fall fairs

We went to the Rockton World’s Fair over the weekend.  It was my first experience at a small town agricultural fair, and I absolutely loved it!  This year marked the 169th year of the Rockton Fair with its first fair ever held October of 1852.  The 169th year of the fair brought with it some robust livestock from sheep (of multiple varieties) to baby chicks, beehives, cows, horses, ducks, geese and other fowl.  The day was a surreal picture perfect fall day with sunshine, blue skies, square dancing, apple cider, candy apples, homemade deep fried donuts, demolition derbys (I can’t believe I missed the mini van mash up derby!) and the classic midway.

Agriculture is the highlight of the fair and education of agriculture is our objective.

The objective was accomplished. There were many blue ribbons to be awarded to the livestock owners; ranging from preteens to old breeding pros and legends from the surrounding area.

Rockton World's Fair ground, maple tree, fall, leaves changing,

Rockton World's Fair, fall fair, agricultural fair, dairy, cow,

sheep, livestock, turkey, wool, Rockton World's Fair, fall fair, agricultural fair,

judgin sheep, livestock, Rockton World's Fair, fall fair, agricultural fair

Rockton World's Fair, midway, fall fair, ice-cream truck

Rockton World's Fair, midway, fall fair, ferris wheel,

We made for an early start to the fair and by the time we were headed back the streets and highways leading to the fairgrounds were jammed and at a near standstill.  If you plan on going next year beware of lots of traffic and parking madness especially if you’re heading in time for the lunch time rush.  You could also opt for the multiple free shuttle buses that leave from downtown Hamilton heading straight for the fair.

the new artists inc.

Upon the 36th year of the existence of Hamilton Artists Inc. its new building at the corner of James and Cannon will officially open it’s doors tonight to the public at 7pm!  The building will be home to contemporary exhibits, installations, events and performances.

I’m excited to see what the space is like and to check out the opening exhibit 4  from 6.

Hamilton Artists Inc., art crawl, James St. north, grand opening, 155 James St. north, James & Cannon,

Hamilton Artists Inc. wall during the August art crawl, pre opening.

 Unfinished Interior of Hamilton Artists Inc., new building, 155 James St. North, James & Cannon

HAI Board of Directors inspect the new building

 

*Hamilton Artists Inc., 155 James St. north, Hamilton, 905.529.3355

hamilton’s best kept secret

The sunny days of fall call for making the most of wide open public spaces on roof tops. I’ve been doing just that on some of these beautiful warm days. On top of Jackson Square in the very heart of downtown is one of the largest probably most underused public spaces in the city.  In some ways I kinda like it that way because it feels like a little secret place right downtown.

roof top tables, on top of Jackson Square

Jackson Square, roof top, public space, Hamilton, Ontario

roof top, public space, Jackson Square, Hamilton, Ontario

public roof top space, Jackson Square, Hamilton, Ontario

Jackson Square, roof top, public space, Hamilton, Ontario

a work in progress

Before and After‘s are my favourite!

I’m happy that I was able to dig up some old photos from 2 years ago, from when we had just moved into our house.

In July we tore down the walls, and then stripped the floors.  There’s still some finishing touches with trim and baseboards that need to be completed.  But for the most part we’re done!  Well almost done with respect to those 2 rooms (there’s still the kitchen, bathroom, and attic).

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

I can’t believe how far things have come in such a short time.  There’s still a lot to tackle, but for now I can just sit back and enjoy the bright open space that we’ve created on the main floor.  Sighhhh.

albert hammond jr, what!?

Albert Hammond Junior is DJ’ing in Hamilton on Saturday night!  Yeah, I know.  Isn’t that crazy?  Well it’s true.  Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes is doing a DJ set this Saturday night at Club Absinthe for the kick off to the return of their I SAY DISCO AND YOU SAY PUNK nights.  Tickets are $10 in advance, and there’s $2 PBR and mixed drinks until midnight.  I have a feeling I’ll be like a decade older than everyone there, but since the venue is only 3 blocks from my house, I’ll check it out anyway.  If you want to go, there’s less than 100 tickets left, so get your tickets quick, you can pick them up at Cheapies.
 

 

*Club Absinthe, 233 King St. East, Hamilton, Ontario

ottawa street

The past few weeks has seen lots of action on Ottawa Street.  Just 2 weeks back on September 16th Ottawa Street hosted Sew Hungry: Food Truck and Restaurant Rally 2011.  I heard about the event the day of, when I saw this poster at Downtown Bike Hounds.  I was already on my way out for a lunch date so I was sad that I didn’t get to sample all of the latest gourmet trucks that have been popping up around the city and around southern Ontario.

Apparently the first Sew Hungry Food Truck event saw 8000 people attend!  The rally featured local trucks; Gorilla Cheese‘s gourmet grilled cheeses, Sweetness Bakery and Cupcake Diner‘s gourmet cupcakes plus a whole slew more of out of town speciality food trucks.  If you’re into the latest food truck craze that’s been hitting the hammer, you’ll also be happy to know that there is also the super amazing Sweet Ice snow cone stand/trailer, which made their appearance at this year’s Supercrawl. Sweet Ice  is hosting a dance party event this Saturday, October 1st at Vasco Da Gama; 175 James St. North, featuring DJ Donna Lovejoy on the 1′s and 2′s, plus there’s promise of a giant lite brite AND mixed drink snow cones!

Sew Hungry, BIA, Ottawa St.  Hamilton, Ontario, food trucks, Gorilla Cheese,

There’s been big changes happening on Ottawa Street the past few years.  I remember when I was a kid, when Ottawa Street was primarily known as a garment district.  I’d come down with my mom to get fabric and supplies for extravagant dance recital outfits.

Things have been changing over the years and it appears as though Ottawa Street tells a similar story to that of how Locke street looked a few years back (when the street consisted mainly of antique shops, many of who have moved on down to Ottawa Street where the rent is more affordable).  There are still some fabric stores complemented by upholstery shops, a giant wallpaper store, restaurants, delis, and an art gallery.  The storefront landscape is for sure evolving .

I recently visited the strip for some antiquing.  My first stop was to the latest edition to the block; Steel Town Pickers at 180 Ottawa St. north.

Steel Town Pickers, 180 Ottawa Street North, Hamilton, Ontario

There are more antique stores on Ottawa Street.  More than I can count on my fingers these days.  Below are some photos from various antique stores on the strip.

vintage paintings, flock of geese, Ottawa Street, Hamilton, Ontario, antiques

Ottawa Street, Hamilton, Ontario, antiques

antiques, Ottawa Street, Hamilton, Ontario, vintage cocktail glasses

Antique Avenue, which is my favourite antique store, opened up nearly 9 months ago with a huge stock of antique and vintage that came primarily from one man’s personal collection. To read the story click here.

Every time I go by this store I always make sure to pick up a little something.  It’s a great place to buy super unique gifts.  There’s an amazing selection of vintage magazines, books, tins, jars, dishes, toys, furniture, frames, tools etc.  You name it they’ve got it.  The owner’s of the store Tom Watson and Adam Hughes always give out great deals too.

Earle Stanley Gardner, mystery novel, vintage books, The Case of the Golddigger's purse, Ottawa Street, antiques, Antique Avenue

Antique Avenue, antiques, Hamilton, Ontario, Ottawa Street, ceramic squirrel sitting on giant nut

vintage hulk hogan lunch pale, antique avenue, hamilton ontario, ottawa street

Welcome Back Kotter, vintage doll, Antique Avenue, Ottawa Street, Hamilton, Ontario, antiques

Ottawa street is also home to a weekly farmer’s market, the first Tim Horton’s ever, a super record store, and regular and awesome sidewalk sales.

*Antique Avenue, 329 Ottawa St. north, Hamilton, Ontario, 905.547.7168

dj disaster

For one of the weddings I went to this summer I had been asked to be the DJ.  I was super excited to take on this task (my 2nd time DJ’ing ever) exclusively with records.  I spent days going through my vinyl collection and thinking about songs to play, while weighing out their danceability.

In university I once put a raging dance party to screeching halt by trying to cue up a song on a 5 CD changer but instead I accidentally cut the music mid song and dance.  If there had been a record for the needle to go skipping across when everyone stopped dancing and the room went quiet, it would have.  So for this wedding I wanted to be sure to have zero DJ disaster moments.

Having the ultimate dance party has always been an eternal dream of mine, so when the dance party was rowdy, collars turned up, ties on heads, and people were getting sweaty, I felt that I had done my duty.  I moved through the eras and genres of ska, soul, surf, calypso, funk, disco, 80′s rock, pop, and new wave. I even managed to squeeze in a little Wu-Tang.  One of my favourite parts of the night was when I turned to see the bride’s parents dancing to Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang.

Dusty Springfield, record, vinyl, A Girl Called Dusty

My two favourite tracks from Dusty Springfield’s 1964 album are Mama Said, and Do Re Mi.

Depeche Mode, The Singles, vinyl, record

Two songs I adore on this album, Just Can’t Get Enough, and Dreaming of Me.

records, vinyl

The Spinners, surf music, records, vinyl, Party -My Pad, After Surfin'

The killer song on this album that just makes me want to die and go to heaven is Barracuda, which has an uncredited mind blowing trumpet solo by the legendary Rafael Mendez.

Duke Errol, vinyl, record, Calypso

The song that I love on this album is a cover of A Hard Days Night, which was the entire reason why I bought the record.

 

Some of the songs that I played at the wedding a few people specifically came up and asked about after.  Those particular songs came from the 2 albums in the pictures above, which I had picked up in Hamilton from the Deep Groove Record Swap hosted at The Brain.  So if you’re into collecting records especially of the soul, jazz, funk, ska, afro, calypso, disco, rock variety you should definitely go by The Brain this Saturday from 1-5pm to do some record swapping and/or purchasing.  I’ve been to 2 swaps so far and have always managed to pick-up a few amazing finds.  There’s no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon with a coffee, or a pint, flipping through records and listening to great music.

Deep Groove Record Swap, Saturday, September 24th 2011, The Brain, 199 James St. north

*The Brain, 199 James St. north, Hamilton, Ontario

inside out project

For the past month I’ve been noticing these large portraits posted on walls throughout the city.  Turns out this is part of a large global street art project called Inside Out or the Inside Out Project.

INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Upload a portrait. Receive a poster. Paste it for the world to see.

Inside Out Art Project, Hamilton, Ontario, John & Main St.

John between King & Main

Inside Out Project, art, street art, Hamilton, Ontario, King William & John

King William, west of John

Inside Out Art Project, street art, Hamilton, Ontario, James St. north & mulberry

at James north & Mulberry

Inside Out Project, art, street art, Hamilton, Ontario, King William & John

King William west of John

When I was in Toronto over the weekend I saw Inside Out portraits pasted up on walls there too.  Some people might not welcome this type of street art, but I like the way it interacts with passerbys and how it brings a personal story to public places.  I love even more that this is a global project.  You can see a map here of people all around the world who have participated in Inside Out.

 

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