Baltimore House opened its doors last week on King William!  It’s a great spot and charmingly decorated in all its gothic goodness.  I had about 30 minutes before work one morning to stop by and grab a coffee.  I got an americano and besides being amazing, it was rich, full-bodied, creamy, not too bitter, AND it kept me going for the rest of the morning.

I’d like to stop by again to check out their Victorian parlour (when it opens in the new year), where I’d like to spend a snowy afternoon reading and relaxing in a comfy and cozy chair.  Especially now that the course I’ve been working on is wrapped up and done I will finally have the time to enjoy a place like this.

I’ve heard great things about their sandwiches too, so I will definitely be back to do some more food drink sampling.

Bmore  I think you’re my Hamilton dream come true. Did I hear talk of film nights, and a theatrical production of the Importance of Being Ernest, or am I just making this up?  AND a regular night for album spotlights (open mic for vinyl every Tuesday)!  Amazing.

For more reading on Baltimore House check out the Spec’s feature article here.

*Baltimore House, 43 King William St., Hamilton, 289.396.4830

a very dundurn christmas

I recently visited Dundurn castle for about the millionth time.  Truth be told I really love Dundurn castle and all of its Victorian splendor.  I’m somewhat enchanted by the whole place and how an entire population of people worked to dress, feed, entertain, make a living for themselves and uphold the glamour and stature of the MacNab family.

I’ve been on so many tours of Dundurn that I find myself getting slightly aghast when a tour guide might forget to point out or mention one of the many interesting details of the MacNab home, like the piece of artwork that is made entirely of hair!  I love it when a tour guide delves into some of the history of Hamilton and about rivalry between growth and development of Toronto and Hamilton.  According to one tour guide it would’ve taken 5 hours by horse and carriage to make the trip between the two cities.

In the picture below you can see what was once used as a bird aviary or really fancy home for pigeons, which was needed to make a MacNab family favourite -pigeon pie.  When I was a kid this little stretch of the castle was home to all different kinds of birds kinda like a miniature Dundurn zoo.  If I remember correctly it was even home to some gorgeous peacocks and other fowl.  Apparently in 1996 when that wing of the castle was being renovated the birds were moved to another location and after the renos they did not return, thus putting an end to 70+ years of the Dundurn Aviary.

Dundurn castle bird aviary, pigeon home, Hamilton, Victorian Christmas decorations, cedar boughs, dried flowers

This particular visit to Dundurn castle was to check out their beautiful Victorian Christmas decorations with the hopes that it might inspire some of my own yuletide festiveness.  The castle’s halls were quite literally decked in boughs of holly.

According to our tour guide the traditional Victorian Christmas tree would look like the one below.  Presents were reserved only for the young, where children would pick a number which would correspond to a number written on a present, which was tied to the tree.  The presents were small novelty gifts of porcelain soldiers, dolls and other trinkets.

Dundurn castle, parlour, Victorian Christmas tree, Victorian Christmas decorations, Hamilton

The dining hall was prepped for a feast, which would often contain 12+ courses.

Dundurn castle, dinning room, Victorian, Christmas decorations, Hamilton

Dundurn castle, master bedroom, Sir Allan MacNab, Hamilton

dundurn castle, servants dinning hall, Hamilton

This is where the servants would eat.  This room is actually in the basement, which was not as grim as you’d picture a castle basement to be.  There was some gorgeous afternoon light pouring in.  According to our tour guide the servants at Dundurn castle led relatively good lives in comparison to many, getting paid a fair wage, having good work conditions, and a daily ration of beer and spirits from their own brewery, which was housed in the basement along with a 15 foot hole in the ground where ice was dragged off the lake in the winter and kept for usage all year round.

If this post didn’t make it entirely clear, I am a nerd and have no shame in admitting that I will likely visit Dundurn castle about a million more times.

*Dundurn Castle, 610 York Blvd., Hamilton, 905.546.2872


easy peasy

As much as I dislike cheap forms of laminate “wood” flooring (like the kind that looks like a sticker of wood pasted onto plastic) I do still think that our kitchen looked better with the crappy laminate than it did for the past 4-5 months with the super ugly 1990′s floral laminate tiles that were faded yellow and just gross (Steve would beg to disagree ).  I took it upon myself to make an executive decision to paint the tiles a cement grey. I know it is a major painting faux-pas to paint atop plastic tiles as typically it’s difficult for paint to adhere to a surface like laminate, but if the folks at Hindsvik say you can do it, then I believe that it will work!

Ouno Design made it sound soooo easy peasy.  The whole thing although not hard, was quite a process.

1. Empty all furniture from the kitchen

2. Sweep, dust, vacuum floors

3. Wash the walls and baseboards -eww they get so dirty behind fridges and ovens

4.  Wash the floors (2-3 times with just water, 2-3 times with TSP to get rid of the glossy finish)

5.  Sand entire floor & vacuum

6.  Wash floors again

7. Paint first coat

8. Wait 24-48 hrs.

9.  Paint second coat

10.  Wait another 2-3 days before moving any furniture

11. Move all furniture back into kitchen (and start to eat like a normal person who has a functioning kitchen does)

12. Don’t wash floors for 3 weeks!


Hoping to move everything back in tomorrow, and here’s to wishing that the paint sticks to the tiles and doesn’t flake off.  I’m crossing my fingers.

gorilla cheese

I experienced my first Gorilla Cheese grilled cheese the other day and it was delicious!

I heard that the Gorilla Cheese truck was going to be parked across the street from our house so I made extra sure that I would be coming home for lunch that day.  All morning long I was anticipating the cheesy tendrils of this treat, and fantasizing about the gooey melty cheesiness of a real good grilled cheese.

I didn’t think there would be much of a crowd ordering from the truck since our house is located in a weird in between corktown/downtown mixed commercial residential area.  Clearly I was out of touch with just how much daytime commercial population is in the neighbourhood because there was a good solid crowd of 15-20 people waiting for their grilled cheeses!

gorilla cheese, grilled cheese, food truck, hamilton ontario, gourmet, sandwich

Once we got to the truck there was some debate as to which sandwich to get. I hmm’d and haa’d about my selection and was stuck between the OG (Original Gorilla) -better than your momma’s grilled cheese, aged Canadian cheddar on white or multi or the Sarducci -mozzarella, red onion, fresh basil, tomato, balsamic glaze on multi. I eventually settled on the Sarducci for $7.50.

Gorilla Cheese, grilled cheese, food truck, Hamilton, Ontario, gourmet, sandwich

I have to admit that I thought $7.50 was a little steep for just a grilled cheese, however, I was not disappointed. First off the grilled cheese is not just any grilled cheese it’s a Gorilla Cheese and it is huge! I could’ve probably had a meal of just a 1/2 portion. The bread was delicious (crispy and buttery), plus you get a tasty pickle as a side. I swear carrying two grilled cheeses back to our house to eat from fresh off the truck it felt like I had 5 pounds of grilled cheese in my one hot little hungry hand. So in conclusion for $7.50 I don’t think you could have a tastier grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely a special treat that I would pick up again.

Way to go Hamilton for starting a food truck revolution! I missed the food truck rally back at the end of September, but have heard there’s a mini one coming up on Ottawa Street for 3 Fridays starting on December 9th 11:30am-2:30pm with Gorilla Cheese, Cupcake Diner, El Gastronomo, and Bonfire Catering.  My hope is to sample some wood fired pizzas from Bonfire Catering.


I’m always happy to see Zeus play in Hamilton.  Not only do I love their music and think that they are fantastically talented musicians, but they are also some old friends so it is always nice to see them stopping through town on their tours.

zeus, arts and crafts, neil quinn, mike o'brien, carlin nicholson, rob drake

Their debut album Say Us was released in February 2010 by Arts and Crafts and is A-mazing.  At their show last week at the Casbah we got to hear some newer songs that I hadn’t heard yet, and they did not disappoint.  Their next album is set to be released in early 2012 but they have been releasing multiple 7″s throughout the year.  If for some reason you have yet to listen to Zeus you are missing out on something really special. You just need to listen.

zeus, arts and crafts, neil quinn, mike o'brien, carlin nicholson, rob drake

One of my favourite songs off of Say Us is Heavy on Me.  There are instrumental harmonies that climax into an orgy of solid rock godness. If I were in the band I’d feel like a total rockstar playing this song.

zeus, arts and crafts, neil quinn, mike o'brien, carlin nicholson, rob drake

zeus, arts and crafts, rob drake

*The Casbah, 306 King St. West, Hamilton, 905.521.4441

under $5

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 5 months since our renos.  Which means it has also been 5 months of having bare walls. We finally got to hanging a few pieces, and even pulled some artwork from the attic that hadn’t been unbubble-wrapped or seen the light of day since we moved over 2 years ago!  For the most part the artwork had been leaning up against furniture on the floors and collecting dust in our recently demoed attic.

Much of our decor and furniture are found or scavenged items and I can safely say that a large percentage of our art work cost us less than $5.  I luck out a little here since Steve is an artist he does score some great trades (although I didn’t take any photos of those pieces -oops!).

This paint by number came around full circle in the fam.  Steve and his brother and sister used to buy their grandfather paintbynumbers from way back in the day, and in time many if not most of these paintbynumbers are now in our hands.  I especially like this one.  One day we’ll either mount it or get an old frame to put it in.


We had a pretty successful summer harvest of tomatoes this year.  The beefsteaks were so massive and juicy and the romas weren’t bad either.  When there were just too many tomatoes to eat Steve started making some simple tomato sauces and freezing them.  The goal was to eventually get it all into one pot and make one real mean sauce, like one that cooks on the stove for hours and hours.  That is just what we did.

homemade tomato sauce, garden grown tomato sauce, freezer tomato sauce

The sauce was a great success.  I love that as we use it we can add other ingredients to change up the flavours.  Homemade soups are our next venture, and then our freezer will be all set for multiple winter meals.


I love how Speakeasy cafe is tucked so nicely into one of my favourite north end neighbourhoods.  It is a small and inconspicuous coffee shop that is only open on weekends (however they are so much more than a weekend coffee shop -read on!).  They serve a damn fine coffee and modestly do not flaunt that they have won multiple awards and recognition for their beans and roasting.  In fact this year they won the Grand Prize Golden Bean for best new blend at the 2011 International SIAL awards, which means their blend Kochere Gayo was named the best blended coffee in the world!

Stephen Armstrong owner of Speakeasy believes in fair trade quality beans, which he selects and purchases directly from the growers themselves.  He then blends and roasts the beans for some rich and delicious coffee blend creations.  If you have yet to take a visit to this place for a Saturday or Sunday morning coffee you are truly missing out on a Hamilton gem.

To read more about Speakeasy read the Spec article here.

*Speakeasy Cafe, 445 Ferguson Ave. north, 905.521.9667, Open Sat & Sun 8-6pm

crimson and clover

During early September we decided that for next spring we didn’t want to have a barren dirt backyard, and so we thought we would try out a 100% clover ground cover.  It’s actually clover and another plant with little yellow flowers, I forget what it’s called but it doesn’t matter because the clover is basically dominating anyway.  Within a few short days of seeding, tiny clovers started shooting up and within a few weeks we had a full on clover patch!

As the cold and frost are settling in I’m happy to see that the clovers are toughing up.  For a while we avoided stepping on them thinking we’d totally destroy them in their delicate state, but now I think they can withhold a good trampling and will likely last through the winter and develop into some nice plush ground cover come spring.  We may have to add some grass to the mix because I think that 100% clover is hard to maintain.  I was just hoping that we could grow something that wouldn’t ever need mowing.

clover, ground clover, lawn alternative, clover patch

With our new found growth of lush clover, Steve’s art installation from his Zoo exhibit found their way into the patch for a mini photo shoot.

Steve Newberry, art installation, rabbits, clover


Sometimes you gotta do what you need to do to say warm.  November is finally behaving like November.

urbanicity, duvet, staying warm, November

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