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 Doobie 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.

strawberry social

Every year my friend Robyn and I make it out for an annual trip to Lindley’s Farm to pick their pesticide free strawberries. This year (with Omi in tow) I met up with Robyn and some of her friends for a surprise wedding shower berry picking session followed by a strawberry social held in her honour.

The strawberry season was a little late this year, which means there’s still some time to go and pick your own! As of July 2nd there’s about 10 more days of good strawberry picking left at Lindley’s.

The strawberries bushes were full and beautifully ripe. It took me all of about 10 minutes to pick this one basket.

After we filled our baskets and made a quick wardrobe change into summer dresses, everyone headed back downtown to enjoy strawberry inspired treats and tea in the church parlour. A classy affair!

the strawberry social spread

It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning celebrating summer and Robyn -the bride to be!

*Lindley’s Farm, 900 Fiddler’s Green Road, Ancaster, 905.648.4212

ahoy

The clouds were grey, and the wind was picking up as these tall ships sailed into the Hamilton Bay Friday afternoon. I didn’t expect to see the crowds of ship enthusiasts in such large numbers on a weekday afternoon. Yet they were there with lawn chairs, zoom lenses, and binoculars taking in what really was a majestic and breathtaking nautical scene.

As the ships glided by the pier an announcer narrated their arrival giving historical facts and figures while taking brief pauses as the cannons loudly fired to welcome them in.

I was so happy that I made it down for the ships’ arrival and felt slightly as though I was cast under their seaworthy spell. I ventured down two more times during their weekend long visit at Pier 8 to take a few more peeks. Tall Ships was such a fabulous event.  So happy to see Hamilton’s waterfront bustling.

Tall Ships I love you!

tall ships

This weekend the tall ships are coming!

In part for the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, six tall ships will enter into the Hamilton harbour tomorrow afternoon (between 2-4pm) and dock for a weekend of nautical entertainment. The weekend-long event is jam packed with three nights of really fabulous live music from the likes of Hamilton locals such as: Young Rival, The Dinner Belles, Harrison Kennedy and the Soul Motivators (hailing form Toronto). There’ll also be a craft fair, an art battle, snow cones (plus other food vendors), dancing, busking and tours of these historic tall ships. For more information you can visit the Tourism Hamilton website here or take the free shuttle bus down to Pier 8 to see for yourself.

Well Hamilton you never cease to surprise me! The other evening I discovered this little piece of the city that I didn’t even know existed. The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club sits at the bottom of James St. North. If you are a member you can gain access to lakeside views like this one. Well, as a non-member, I won’t be sitting at this exclusive private patio watching the tall ships sail in. But alas that’s won’t stop me from finding a little perch of my own to watch these tall sailing beauties.

girl on the wing on king

In recent weeks you might have seen the seemingly sudden growth per capita of vintage stores opening up downtown. In fact in the past month or so vintage stores like Newold’sLa Bichette and Love in the Afternoon have all opened on James St. North (only adding to the roster of other established vintage shops on James like White ElephantHawk and Sparrow, Humble Pie and Chaises Musicales).

You could say James North has become the default street that young entrepreneurs and the like have been choosing to open up shop. This, however, is why when I see new stores open elsewhere downtown (like more specifically on King East), I do extra jumps of joy. New businesses on King make me happy because, for one thing, it’s in my hood but secondly a lot of areas besides James North could use a little breath of fresh air too. So I gotta to give mega props when people go out on a limb and venture off the beaten track.

Enter Girl on the Wing.

Girl on the Wing (located at 181 King St. East) is a vintage clothing store that carries nostalgic wares among many other lovely little things such as: T-Shirts inspired by classic reads like The Great Gatsby, Hamlet and Moby Dick, tote bags, jewellery from decoSquare and White Owl, greeting cards, notebooks, and other fanciful novelty and vintage rarities.

Depeapa backpack totes

Saltwater Sandals: I hear that these are all the rage. They even come in super cute fire truck red!

From The Little Otsu LIVING THINGS art zine

Owner, Whitney McMeekin is a Hamilton ex-pat that has recently made the move from Toronto back to Hamilton. She is pleased as punch to be in Hamilton again, and has been happily surprised about her rediscovery of all that Hamilton has to offer.

Whitney’s got a degree in Fashion Communication at Ryerson, and has experience working in the vintage and fashion boutique scene in Toronto. So no surprise that she’s got a knack at promoting her new store with super glam professionally photographed and personally styled lookbooks that cover her fashion favs for her seasonal launches.

Girl on the Wing’s summer launch is tonight from 8-11pm at the store, with promises of drinks, dancing and more importantly fun!

Take a peak at the new vintage inspired swimwear that Girl on the Wing will be carrying by designer Dumebi Iyamah’s fashion line Andrea Iyamah. Here’s a little sneak peak of Andrea Iyamah’s swimsuits -so gorgeous!

swimwear from Andrea Iyamah's summer 2012 line, image taken from www.girlmeetsworld.net

See you tonight at the Summer Solstice Salebration!

*Girl on the Wing, 181 King St. E. 289.389.9898, TW 12-6, ThF 12-7, S 12-6, S12-5, @gotw_hamilton

breakfast

Now that I have a baby, waking up early is something that happens in my life. The benefit of this is that I can actually make it out for breakfast instead of the typical late weekend brunch. This does have its advantages: you can entirely bypass the brunch rush, and after an early breakfast you still have the whole day to do as you like (without this whole brunch thing being all smack dab in the middle of the day).

On a recent Sunday morning, I finally got to try my first and very long awaited waffle breakfast at Cannon Coffee. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get in on their waffles! They were so delicious!

I got the Canadian Brunch Waffle, which consisted of the most delicious fresh smoked bacon, and two poached eggs, topped with cheddar cheese on an apple waffle -no less!

Canadian Brunch Waffle

My cousin, who recently arrived from Japan to study English in Canada, ordered the California Waffle; a jalapeño havarti waffle, topped with two poached eggs, fresh avocado salsa and chopped tomatoes.

California Waffle -I love the little house that holds the maple syrup

 

A direct quote from my cousin:

I eat waffle with Seema.

The Cannon is very nice cafe.

I want to go again.

 

Truth be told, I want to go again too.

 

*Cannon Coffee, 179 Ottawa St. N, 289.700.0088, M-F 7-6, S+S 9-5, @cannoncoffeeco

the road sign project

In an urban setting you can’t really walk very far without seeing some type of sign that tells you what to do, what not to do, which direction to go etc. That’s why at first it was hard to notice that these signs were more than just your typical everyday sign. They seemingly blended right into their surroundings. That’s the beauty of this street art project, put on by Hamilton’s Centre [3], you really need to pay attention to find these cool little installations.

For example, this Duck sign below by artist Hitoko Okada. I probably walked by this a few times, a little befuddled and confused, before realizing it was an art piece. But once I saw this sign, I started noticing a lot of other intriguing signs by other artists all over the downtown core.

Duck, by Hitoko Okada

untitled, by Jean-Denis Boudreau

Detour, by Carole Deveau

The Road Sign Project is an outdoor art project presented by Centre3, Hamilton, ON, in partnership with Atelier Imago in Moncton, NB. Signs by sixteen artists, posted in various Hamilton locations (and in Centre3′s storefront gallery), offer directions on matters such as contemporary art, science, psychology, politics, romance, and the pathos of post-industrial urban existence. Viewers are invited to join the artists for a guided tour (May 11) and picnic, participate in a t-shirt contest, and contribute observations on the signs and the signified for an upcoming publication.

The Road Sign Project will run until October 19th. For more information about the project and location of artist’s signs click here.

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