doors open

I know I’ve posted about Treble Hall about a million times already but I finally got to see it on the inside -yay Doors Open!

I’d love to see more spaces like this in other similar downtown buildings (especially the ones that line Gore park). I’m sure there are a lot with gorgeous city views and even some with untouched attics with all sorts of Victorian treasures.

We ambitiously thought that we’d make it out to about three or four stops for this year’s Door’s Open but really only made it out to just this one. I figured there’s plenty more time to explore throughout the years.

The weather was so beautiful we spent it mostly walking around and enjoying the spring blossoms and parks.

 

Last year we made it out to a few more Doors Open destinations. One of my favourites, which didn’t make it onto my post from last year, was the most amazing cottage house. First off, I love cottage houses, and second, any house with nooks that look like these you just gotta love.

Not to mention it had a fabulous garden. If we had more yard and sun I’d aspire to live like this cottage set-up (solar panels on the roof, a wall of rain barrels, compostable toilet and giant backyard garden).

Just a 10 minute walk away from downtown it felt like a little country getaway.

sew hungry #2

This was only the second Sew Hungry food truck rally that I’ve attended and it definitely seemed busier than the last one. Parking was tough and the line-ups were heavy. We started off at the Dirty South food truck but it was so busy that we passed on the fried chicken and waffle sandwich and headed straight for Buster’s Sea Cove.

My first Sew Hungry I remember saying that I had regrets about not trying Buster’s Sea Cove’s lobster roll. So first on the list was to get me a roll.

My meal came with a bag of chips, a juicy pickle and a lobster roll. The roll was pretty small and in the end I felt that it was a little over-priced -$13!

sew hungry, buster's sea cove, lobster roll

Buster's Sea Cove Lobster Roll

Be warned that when attending events like this, when you have a stroller, eating on the go from places like food trucks and food stands take on a whole new life. You’ve got crowds to manoeuvre around (and no matter what you always seem to be in the way), rocking to ensure that your baby is falling asleep (so you can eat with some sort of ease), and you’ve really only got one hand free, which is due cause for some messy eating.

So when I spotted a church parking lot filled with empty tables and chairs my friend Vern and I made a b-line for it with our two strollers and sleeping babies in tow. The admission; the purchase of one meat pie (with gravy, peas and onions and a pop). Hello -no problem there! Out of the crowds and the ability to use two hands while eating, we were pretty much sold.

It was a fabulously delicious homemade meat pie. I had to stop myself from licking the plate.

Our next stop was at El Gastronomo Vagabundo (with surprisingly no line-up). For all that it’s worth, line ups are sometimes not the best indicators of what’s good and what isn’t. We were so impressed with the presentation and flavour of the battered poached egg on asparagus that next time I see this truck I won’t hesitate to sample more from their menu.

Deep-fried poached egg; and the yolk was still runny!

asparagus, battered poached egg, with candied bacon

Just check out the photo gallery on El Gastronomo Vagabundo’s page here. Their food looks soooooooo good!

The one truck that I wanted to check out but didn’t get a chance to on this go round was The Big Chief, which is Hamilton’s newest food truck specializing in First Nation cuisine. I’m happy that it’s a Hamilton local so I won’t have to wait until the next Sew Hungry to sample some venison chili and bison sliders. You can follow them @thebigchiefco.

If you’ve never been to a Sew Hungry I do recommend that you go at least once. Do a little research prior to see which trucks you want to hit up first. Most of the trucks sold out of their menu items later on in the day. So get there early before the line-ups get out of hand. If I venture to another Sew Hungry, I’ll also likely consider taking the free shuttle bus or biking so as not to have to deal with finding a parking spot.

 

food in tins

The first really warm spring day about a week or so ago, I packed up some treats and headed out for a play date picnic with Omi at Gage Park.

I do love picnics. Especially meats, cheese and snack type foods.

I gathered some items that we had around the house along with some foccacia bread for make-your-own mini open-faced sandwiches.

Finally put this handy stackable tin lunch container to good use. This little contraption is called a dabba (or tiffin). We picked it up when we were travelling in India. It’s kinda like the Indian version of the obento box.

For dessert I made this super yummy treat. Get this -Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares! Yeah, it’s pretty decadent, but they are so yum. If you can believe it there’s three Mars Bars in this one batch! Sometimes I have to remind myself about the three bars to stop myself from eating the entire tray all in one go. Three Mars Bars in one day is just totally unacceptable.

 

 

baby room

Sometimes, if I don’t think about it, I forget that when we first bought our house it was in some pretty rough shape. I didn’t think it at the time but now looking back and seeing how much work we’ve done, I can see that it has come a looong way. There’s still a million things we still want to do, but I think that this will always be the case.

Here’s the Before and After of the room that has become Omi’s room.

Before

This room wasn’t the worst of the rooms we’ve renoed. However, it was wallpapered, which always sucks to peel off, AND as I peeled the wallpaper we found some black mold growing all around the window. The wood of the window was rotting and the moisture was getting trapped in between the wall and the layer of wallpaper. It was super gross. We stripped the walls down, insulated and ended up having to put in a new window. Once it was a fresh and new I moved all my things in, and it served as my office and guest room until Omi’s arrival.

After

 

This tiger print was a gift from our friends Jen Hsieh and Kyle Reed from Sorry You’re Happy. Kyle did the artwork -which I love! Every morning when Omi wakes up we say good morning to the various characters from the art work around his room. We call this one El-tigre (there’s Rooster & the Egg-man too).

For Omi’s baby shower we asked for books to build a library. His shelves are now pretty stocked. There are so many fabulous new children’s books out there; I can’t wait to discover Omi’s favourites and to reread and share some of the books and authors that I loved to read when I was a kid too.

fish and chips

If there’s one thing that Steve and I love doing it’s going to a nice classic pub for pints and good pub fare. Since we don’t live in England, where people don’t automatically think you’re the worst parent in the world if you show up to a pub with a kid. And since we can’t exactly leave Omi at home to fend for himself; then I suppose the next best thing to going to a pub is if the pub comes to you. Hence our idea to make homemade fish and chips!

This was our first time taking on such an endeavour and it turned out to be surprsingly easy and delicious. A simple cold bitter beer battered recipe turned out some beautiful crisp results on our first go. I picked up some haddock from the farmer’s market, along with a Mill Street Spring Imp bitter lager (should’ve really used an ale but it still tasted fabulous). We used a beer battered recipe that I found here.

I whipped up a quick tartar sauce inspired by my friend Vern’s fish and chip post from her blog Nine Ate Seven. For my tartar sauce I mixed in mayo, finely chopped capers, pickles and green onions plus a dash of apple cider vinegar, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch or two of sugar. As per Vern’s suggestion on her post we also tried out the double deep-fry method that successfully resulted in some extra crispy sweet potato fries.

Who knows, this may just inspire a frequent stay at home pub night at our place. It’ll be fabulous once we can sit in the backyard again -patio time!

vintage market place

Over the weekend we made our way to Hamilton’s very first Vintage Market Place at the Hamilton Convention Centre. It was really nice not to have to trek all the way to Toronto for a vintage market sale -finally! There were was just the right amount of vendors so as to not feel totally overwhelmed and to still have the energy to go off and do something else for the day (like say see Oprah, go to the Food and Drink Fest or just go home and have a nap).

White Elephant was there selling a beautiful selection of vintage dresses. I happily noted that they carried dresses of a variety sizes too; not just the typical teeny tinies. Bodega was there representing their 80′s rock vintage wares, and Chaises Musicales was also there showing off their vintage furniture.

It was great to see a lot of vendors that I’d never heard of before like High Flute VintageVintage Soul Geek and Girl on the Wing, who by the way is soon to open up her shop here in Hamilton at 181 King St. East -can’t wait!

Rekindle Home Upcycled Furniture

I was happy to score two tops perfect for the summer and the ever (still -ugh) transitioning shape of my post-baby body.

I’m really looking forward to watching this Vintage Market really grow in the following years.

previously crawled

In recent months I’ve really been appreciating the art openings that occur at a handful of galleries on the Thursday evening before the monthly art crawl on James St. North. They’re kinda like mini pre-crawls, where you actually get a chance to chat with the artisit and hang out in the space observing the art work in greater detail.

This Thursday I checked out our good friend Jen Hsieh’s art opening at Defacto Mulberry. Her show is called Thirteen. It is a beautifully touching exhibit surrounding the exploration of her feelings regarding the loss of her mother thirteen years ago.

Mother and Child by artist Jen Hsieh

Moored by artist Jen Hsieh

Make sure you stop by during the crawl tonight or throughout the month to see her show!

 

I was also able to sneak a quick peak at the opening at Hamilton Artisit Inc.

The Inc. has quickly become a favourite of mine. They have fabulously curated exhibits of established Canadian artists in their main gallery section. This month’s exhibit is a video installation called Control Fields by Montreal artist Michel Boulanger.

 

I also absolutely adored the exhibit last month No Overnight Camping by artist Dagmara Genda, and Bruce Montcombroux.

Corrupted Animals (Elk) by artist Dagmara Genda

The New Babylon Satellites by artist Bruce Montcombroux

Another gallery that I always make a point of checking out is b contemporary. Last month’s exhibit by Hamilton artist Andrew McPhail was a fantastic series of “pixelated” portraits. I loved staring at each painting up close and then far away; appreciating their abstract and organic quality up close and then their almost digital quality when viewed from a distance.

Be sure to stop by b contemporary to check out this month’s exhibit by artist Paul Cvetich -Shaboom Shaboom.

sugar bush

The last weekend of March we were in Kingston visiting some old friends. While there we decided to make the most of the early spring weather by heading out to a nearby conservation area for a maple syrup festival.

To the sugar bush!

The trees were tapped with the sap flowing. We noted that they had several different methods of tapping, some with metal pails, other trees with blue plastic buckets, and some were tapped atop a hill with a series of connecting tubes that ran towards the sugar shack down the hill below (definitely the most efficient).

maple syrup evaporator

There wasn’t any snow of the ground so we weren’t able to do the classic maple syrup on snow or ice. Of course there were pancakes and although we’d already had a delicious breakfast we could not forgo sampling at least one (or two)!

This pancake was so delictable and the maple syrup was so fresh!

I hadn’t been to the sugar bush since I was a little kid. I’m sure in the upcoming years we’ll be doing an annual maple syrup pilgrimage to Mountsberg (and the like) with the little one.

 

studebaker

When I used to work in the North End I would sometimes bike between the Bennetto and Keith neighbourhoods crossing over the tracks at Victoria Avenue. Taking a few neighbourhood side streets, to avoid the industrial highway of Burlington Street East, I would always pass by a huge old abandoned factory. You would’ve seen it too if you’d ever driven down that way.

On Victoria Avenue North past the General Hospital and just before Burlington Street East you would’ve seen the old Studebaker factory. It’d be hard to miss. It was a 4 block monstrosity of a factory, where in all honesty at least 3 football fields could’ve fit inside its 7.5 acre lot. I used to marvel at it every time I passed by.

photo taken from www.studebakerhistory.com

 

Like many of the older factory and industrial spaces tucked into Hamilton’s landscape this one too had been empty for some time. The last Studebaker to be rolled off the production line at this factory was in 1966.

Studebaker 1946 -image from www.curbsideclassic.com

 

image from www.cursideclassic.com

 

Recently there was some talk of the space being repurposed as a film studio (would’ve been awesome). But as per the fate of many of these industrial relics, it is currently in the process of being torn down. A new industrial complex will be built in its spot. (for more info see an article from The Spec here).

Just last week I paid my respects to that old factory. It is currently being torn down to the ground into a rubble of red Hamilton bricks. I was able to snap some photos of whatever reminants of it that remained.

In its former industrial incarnations it housed production for everything from Otis elevators to the classic Studebaker -it was even used a weapons factory during World War I and II!

the studebaker factory getting plowed down to the ground

I was happy to note that the corner portion of the building will remain intact to be a repurposed as part of the new industrial development.

Not to mention, I was pleased to see that it wouldn’t end up as just another brown field like the one directly across the street from the Studebaker lot.

 

Hamilton, the times they are a changing.

 

 

 

sleep over

Among the many things that people will tell you when having kids is that your life will never be the same and that you’ll never be able to live like you used to. Honestly this idea kinda petrified me -to think that I’d be sequestered to an isolated parental island void of all “normal” social contact and/or limited only to baby/parent talk.

However, I’ve suprisingly found that besides the obvious life changes invovled in having a child, life with some effort can be quite as it were pre-baby.

The beauty is to come up with novel ideas on how to continue to socialize and maintain social equilibrium.

Thus far we have found that life can take on many of the same ceremonious social rituals (however, I’m sure this too will change). We’ve managed to finagle going out for dinners, visiting with friends, and more often than not, these days having friends over. We must of course give thanks to our friends, who have continued to request our social presence.

There are challenges that do arise in trying to socialize. Especially when we want to meet up with friends who live out of town that also have kids. Between naps, dinner, baths and bed time, this all  leaves little room to get in a satisfactory visit.

So in honour of living life the way we used to like let’s say having dinner with some old friends from out of town, we pulled off our first ever parent sleep over and it was a success. Once the kids had their dinner and bath time, and it was all quiet on the western front. We parents camped out in the mainfloor of the house with wine, escargot, bubbly Italian beers and fondue -how so appropriately over the top adult like of us.

an assortment of snacks -pickled radish, turnip & carrots plus some other randoms

tempura oil fondue -a Japanese twist on a French meal

the next morning -starting the day off right with some colouring

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