Pre-picnic we walked through the cemetery across the street from Dundurn castle.  There were some really old tombstones and a few small groups of tours from Doors Open Hamilton.  We were there mostly because I wanted to see the massive magnolia trees that were budding and blooming throughout the cemetery.  I bet these magnolia trees are at least 50+years old.  So beautiful…

magnolia tree, Hamilton, Ontario, cemetery

magnolia, Hamilton, Ontario

magnolia, Hamilton, Ontario


record numbers

In lieu of Record Store Day April 16th I wanted to do a rundown of where to pick-up a little local vinyl.  You could say that in comparison to the likes of Toronto, or Montreal, Hamilton is no thriving metropolis.  However, for its size, Hamilton still holds it down with regards to the number of record stores per capita.  We’ve got Cheapies, Dr. Disc, Books + Beats, Hammer City Records, all right downtown plus a new one that’s popped up over the past few months next to Mex-i-can on James north.  Then in the east end on Ottawa St. there’s Starddust Records for your country, 50′s, rockabilly and surf music and in the west end in Dundas we’ve got Records on Wheels.  On the occasional art crawl or open streets on James north there’s sometimes a man that I’ve bought from that’s had some real gems.  The seller of those rare finds, is who told me about the record sale at the Festival Banquet Centre, which tends to happen twice a year.  I’ve also come across some great deals at the Deep Groove Record Swap that’s hosted at  The Brain.  So no shortage of records over here, in case you were worried.

The photo is taken of the front window next to Mex-i-can at James and York/Wilson.  I’m sure with a little digging and flipping you could manage to find a few goodies.



During my short-cut walk home from downtown, I noticed from the back of James St. north, a tri-colour combo I adore; hot pink, baby baby blue, and bright yellow, perfect spring colours for Saturday’s sunny warm day.

James St. North, Hamilton

backyard, Hamilton

bbq, grilled veggies

It seemed fitting to end the sunny day with a colourful spread of roasted veggies on the BBQ.  We sat in the backyard and chased the sun until it hid behind the rooftops.

baked goods

On Saturday we took a short drive to the neighbouring town of Dundas.  One of our favourite and mandatory stops, when in Dundas, is to visit our friends at Picone Fine Food; a great place to find quality local produce, unique dressings, sauces, gourmet oils and vinegars, and other tasty treats.

There was a gorgeous spread of delicious and delicately crafted baked goods.

Pcione Fine Food, Dundas

hotcross buns, Picone Fine Food, Dundas

Picone Fine Foods, Dundas Ontario
meat pie, Picone Fine Food, Dundas

We left with two varieties of meat pie, one chicken and the other beef.   I was told that the pies were handmade by the Picone family matriarch.

*Picone Fine Food, 34 King St. West, Dundas, Ontario



This weekend we finally bought our replacement to a tree we uprooted last year that we called the weed tree.  It was a strange hybrid of lilac and some type of unruly weed.  Half the tree had real lilac flowers, while the rest had some cheap variety of imitation blossoms -minus even the sweet smelling fragrance of a true lilac.  My guess is that the lilac bush’s trunk was somehow spliced with the fast growing weed tree’s trunk at some point during it’s early growth.  Apparently the grafting of two different species of tree or bush is not entirely unheard of, and as I’ve just learned, this is called inosculation.  Anyway, the weed tree was non too pretty, grew like crazy, was prone to lilac mold and had a bad root system.  It had to go!

lilac tree

cutting down a tree

The replacement to the old weed tree, is a sweet mangolia that already has plenty of buds, and looks as though it’s just about to bloom.  Magnolia trees aren’t cheap.  This set us back about $140 including tax.  But for some peace of mind, it did come with a one-year, stay alive warranty.  I’m going to keep a close watch on this magnolia -sleep with one eye open, and an arm chained to it’s trunk.  I’ve heard of people thieving expensive trees; a friend in town once told me that their newly purchased Japanese maple was dug up and stolen out of their very own backyard!

suacer magnolia bud

saucer magnolia tree

magnolia tree

I can’t wait until our magnolia tree starts to mature.  Even as a small shrub, I’m still in love with it, and it already adds a whole new feel to the backyard.


you look good in stripes

Former Friendship Gift Shop on 118 James St. North -looking good.  Striped siding has been up for a while, and gorgeous new windows on the front were put in sometime in the last 2 weeks.  Rumour is; one day the main floor (or part of it) will be home to a massive cafe.  Currently the second floor is occupied by Thier + Curran Architects.  Take a look at their office space.

Former Friendship Gift Shop, 118 James St. North, Hamilton

Friendship Gift Show, 118 James St. North, Hamilton

Before 1.5 years ago.

Coincidentally, I just noticed on the Beehive Craft Collective’s Blog that they have a nice detailed post about 118 James St. north from this week!  And according to their post, the old Friendship Gift Shop will be home to the craft fair that they are organizing for August 12 and 13th.  The space is a real beaut, click on their link above to check out their post and pictures.

detour coffee

Detour Coffee opened their new cafe in January!  Business seemed to be doing well, as it was mid-weekday in Dundas, and it was packed.

Detour Coffee


Detour Cafe -Dundas

2 lattes, homemade cherry soda; cherry syrup & you add the soda, soft and chewy chocolate chip and ginger snap cookies

Luckily we were able to get a seat.  The space looks fabulous, and is a welcome addition to the previous teeny tiny space they had out back of the parking lot (hence the name ‘detour’), which did not include baked goods, or a wide array of other delicious drinks and treats.

*41 King St. West, Dundas, Ontario

southern souls

I can’t remember when exactly I stumbled across Southern Souls, but I feel like it had something to do with looking up native Hamilton band Harlan Pepper.

Harlan Pepper -Little Miss Sunshine

I loved the superb sound quality, richness and warmth of the video’s texture, colour and light, not to mention the local Hamilton talent.

Young Rival -All I Have to do is Dream by the Everly Brothers

Wax Mannequin -Black Bells

Zeus‘ song The River By the Garden, covered by Make Your Exit (another Southern Souls production) came across my Facebook newsfeed a few months back. That was my first clue in realizing that Mitch Fillion, the guy behind Southern Souls, was not just a local Hamilton filmmaker, but that his site Southern Souls was something much bigger, reaching further than just steel town.  It had already been coined by Vish Khanna of Exclaim Magazine “as the most impressive online archive of performances by emerging Canadian musicians”.  If you haven’t already, take a look at the roster of artists that Mitch has filmed.

one sunny day

The weather has been so grey, and it feels like winter is insisting on lingering right until the bitter end.  One sunny day last week I managed to snap some pictures of our house.

Hamilton House -living room

We’re planning on doing a major reno this summer on the main floor.  It’s a big debate whether to tear down the dividing walls of the front entrance hall, living room and dining room to open up the whole space.  Tearing down the walls will likely mean forfeiting our closet space and place to store our bicycles (we don’t have a garage and we own a row house, so having a place for our bikes with easy access to the front door is pretty key for us).  For now we have agreed that the walls are coming down, and we are banking on our creative use of space to make it all work out.  We also plan on peeling back the many layers of flooring to see what state the original pine-plank floors are in with hopes of being able to easily restore them.

Piggy Bank

Hamilton House -bedroom

Before the renos start I will post some of the progress we’ve had since our move in 2009.



I’m always noticing these old painted signs on the sides of building here in Hamilton.  Former incarnations of the businesses that once occupied these buildings or just old painted ads on walls.

York and James St. -Hamilton

Underneath the faded "Smoke Shamrock" you can see and even more faded MGM lion.

King William & James St. -Hamilton

Mary and King St. -Hamilton

James St. near Mulberry -Hamilton

near Walnut and King St. -Hamilton


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