Archives: winter

flowers in winter

Even though spring is officially here there’s still a chill in the air today, and if the mini blizzards that swept through the skies over this past weekend were any indication, we still have a little ways to go before spring comes in at full force.

In the depths of that extremely long and cold February, I decided to create a bit a spring atmosphere in the house by planting a handful of Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs.

paperwhite buds

For the past few springs I would enviously see posts up on blogs or Instragram of these beautiful blooming buds. And just when the thought of crocuses, and tulips blooming in the garden seemed like an eternity away, I figured it was high time that I got in on the Paperwhite action too. And that is just what I did.

I purchased my Paperwhite bulbs on James North from i-fiori flower shop.

Since I was a little late in the season to plant the bulbs some of them were already starting to sprout little green shoots. I was reassured that this was no problem. This was true; we had blossoms galore!

After acquiring the bulbs, I collected an assortment of vases, jars and vessels from around the house along with a little pile of smooth stones.

It was all really pretty easy:

1. Fill your receptacles with a few stones

2. Plop the bulbs on top

3. Add water until just the base of the bulb is wet

4. Place in a sunny window

5. Continue to water daily to the level of the bottom of the bulb or to cover the soon to be shooting roots

6. Observe daily as the bulbs start sprouting and shooting up

paperwhite bulbs

I read somewhere that you can add a little vodka to the water to avoid the toppling of stems that start to happen if they shoot up to be very long. The vodka will stunt the growth so that the stems are shorter and hardier, thus not toppling with the weight of the blossoms.

paperwhite blossoms

Warning: the flowers do have a pretty pungent smell. I wouldn’t necessarily call it fragrant. But I figured the smell was the price I’d have to pay to have something beautiful, blooming and spring-like in the windows for the month of February.

life this winter

This Must be the Place just celebrated its fourth year anniversary this March! I can’t believe it.

Despite the four year legacy of blogging… without denying, these days my blog posts have been scarce.

Although, there has been no shortage of events and things happening in the city to document and write about, with so much else going on in my life: juggling being a parent, expecting another baby, working and all the ins and outs of life, blogging as of late has taken a bit of a backseat.

So I’ll just say it out loud; I’ve got a bit of a back log blog thing happening right now and it’s proving a little hard to get back into swing of things.

So here goes… my first post in a very long time… done in ummmm photos.

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Life this winter consisted of cold, snow, merry-go-rounds, haircuts, visits to the RBG, being cooped up inside, cooking, home renos, and lots of sampling of all the great new food places that are continuing to pop up in Hamilton.

My hope is to start posting weekly again, but I can’t make any promises. In the mean time I have been doing a bit of writing over the winter for Tourism Hamilton’s #MyHamilton page with my feature What a Day That Was. So you can get caught up on a few things there, as well as check out what else is going on in the city through other guest bloggers like I Heart Hamilton‘s Culture Beat, and Dave Hanley’s (of Pop Up Hamilton) feature The Hamilton Dish.

There’s so much to catch up on! Until we meet again blog.

cuba

In the midst this winter deep-freeze I’m dreaming of warmer days and of the early winter-escape that we took over the holidays back in December.

Our last big family vacation was a romp around Europe a little while back (see that post here). It involved several modes of transportation and hopping from multiple European destinations all with a one year old in tow. Since that trip we have long forgotten how it’s like to explore and travel through places lounging in coffee shops, art galleries and pubs at a child-free pace. So this time around we were on the hunt for a much more relaxed and stress-free travel option when bringing along our now exuberant two year old. We decided to try out something all together new for us.

Enter our first foray into the world of the almighty all inclusive.

We arrived in Cuba on the busiest travel day of the season to large crowds and slow line-ups through customs before embarking on a bus journey through the rolling hills of Santa Clara. If we hadn’t caught a red-eye, I would’ve been able to really take in more of the scenery of the small cuban villages and towns that our bus raced through before making our way to our hotel on the shores of Cayo Santa Maria.

Below are a few shots I managed to snap from the bus.

cuba cuba palm trees

 

Our routine in Cuba went like this: breakfast, beach until lunch (sometimes lunch at the beach), nap, ice-cream, pool, evening relaxation, dinner, toddler dance party, then sleep and repeat.

The highlight for me was definitely the beach; white sand, clear water and the sun. I couldn’t complain. That was… until I got sick. Despite already being doubly nauseous from being four months pregnant and from getting sick I still managed to enjoy each of the remaining days of this distraction from our long Canadian winter. And… yes, I did just drop that bomb.

cuba playa cayo

cuba palm tree2

cuba playa cayo santa maria

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Just short of the last day that we were in Cuba Omi befriended two lovely ladies that just so happened to be big times fans of Hamilton. Leila of Unikati & Co grew up in Hamilton, and as we got to chatting we shared our stories and near infinite love for the city. I can say that her enthusiasm for Hamilton may even surpass mine! Leila had been working on convincing her travelling friend Andreea of The Love Studio (with little to no resistance) that a move to Hamilton was just what she (and the city of Hamilton) needed.

On our last day in Cuba we ended up doing an impromptu family photo session with Andreea behind the lens. Being a professional photographer, her shots were infinitely better than mine (to be expected), and all the while she was shooting it barely felt like she was even taking pictures. You can see a couple of snaps of the family photo shoot on Andreea’s blog post about the trip to Cuba here. Her photos provide an amazing view and narrative of our warm winter escape.

Sigh…. winter.

a very leila christmas

On the last day of 2014′s Hamilton Fringe Festival I saw my first Fringe show of the year.

There were definitely more Fringe shows that I wanted to check out, but in all if I were to only see just one play, I was happy as ever that I did not miss the opportunity to see this one-person-show written and starring the very talented Izad Etemadi titled Love with Leila.

Photo from: http://izadetemadi.com/the-final-countdown/

It was just about the sweetest, most heart warming, laugh out loud kind of play that re-injected some theatre love and enthusiasm back into my recently theatre deprived life.

Izad Etemadi takes on the persona of Leila: a loveable and young Persian woman who tells us of her humorous misadventures in dating that lead her discovery of a heartfelt lesson in love and self-reflection.

It was clear by the raucous standing ovation at the end of the night we had all truly fallen head over heels in love Leila. There was no way that we couldn’t love her innocent humour, witty banter and Persian pleasantries. We were left with the promise of more Leila and the return of Etemadi to Hamilton with Leila in another one-person production titled A Very Leila Christmas.

a very leila christmas

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, LEILA” That’s what Leila expects to hear from Santa on her first Christmas morning in Canada, surrounded by perfectly wrapped presents tucked all around her tree but to her shock and confusion, her stocking is empty and there are no presents at all – not even coal! Leila decides to track down Santa to find out what went wrong. Travel to the North Pole with Leila, singing all your favourite Christmas songs along the way, to help her discover the true meaning of Christmas.

A Very Leila Christmas is playing this week at the Staircase Theatre December 17, 18 and 19. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than supporting some theatre while checking out what sorts of hilarious and outrageous misadventures Leila will get up to on her very first Canadian Christmas.

Tickets are $15 and you can get them here: http://leilachristmas.brownpapertickets.com/

See you at the show!

*Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn St. North, 905.529.3000

 

the edit

I first met the stunning and totally down-to-earth thrifter blogger fashionista Jentine at the opening of Girl on the Wing, and while trying on capes and designer 80′s sweaters at MODify your closet.

On Christmas Eve while doing some of my traditional last minute shopping on Ottawa Street I stumbled upon Jentine’s most recent fashion exposition at her brand new store The Edit!

The store although small, is perfect! Jentine had a great hand-picked winter selection of a vintage hats, shoes, boots, clutches, jackets, and dresses from the couture and fabric print houses of vintage 70′s Paris to 50′s cocktail and party dresses. I picked up a long black 80′s sweater dress with deep pockets and shiny brass buttons -dresses with pockets are the best!

the edit vintage window dress

 

the edit vintage hats on wall

the edit vintage shoes

the edit hats&sweaters

the edit jentine

It was fabulous to see the shop, and to chat with Jentine about her new adventure. I departed with a sweet treat of homemade fudge (courtesy of one of Jentine’s friends) melting in my mouth and my dress, a present for myself, in tow.

Even though it seems as if spring will never come, I’m sure that it won’t be long until the winter sweaters and jackets are just a distant memory, and skirts, jumpsuits, strappy sandals and shorts will be on the racks and shelves at The Edit.

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I love to see how Hamilton’s storefront fashion, food and retail scene continues to evolve and change. In the four and half years I’ve been in Hamilton, I’ve been happy to have witnessed a wave of new young entrepreneurs taking that massive jump to put themselves out there and to pick downtown Hamilton as the place they want to invest in for the long haul. So happy for Jentine and for the continued evolution of Ottawa Street!

Check out Jentine’s fashion blog My Edit here, or follow her on twitter @myeditblog.

*The Edit, 205 Ottawa St. North, W-F 12-6, Sat 11-5, @shopTheEdit

hendrie valley

Being how this winter is so… wintery, really the only choice in the matter with regards to the weather is to either hate every moment of its wet, icy, bitter, snowy, blowy coldness or learn to love it. I’ve decided to go with the latter.

One wintery day we decided to get all bundled up and go for a walk at RBG‘s Hendrie Valley. If you park at the Cherry Hill gate (just over Mcquesten Bridge heading towards Burlington) you can enter for free. Head through the gate and onto the trails towards the boardwalk for some bird watching and chickadee feeding.

We brought some of our own bird feed with us, but there was plenty around on benches and railings to attract a good enough crowd.

So many chickadees! Steve even got a few to eat some seed off his hands. We also spotted a downy woodpecker and a spattering of cardinals that looked beautifully gorgeous-red against the snowy white backdrop.

We didn’t last long; the sun was already starting to drop as was the temperature.

Happy to have made it out of the house to enjoy some winter sun, nature and fresh air.

 

owl of minerva

One of my favourite kinds of food is Korean. I love the combo of its savoury, sweet, spicy, garlic, and sesame flavours.

When I first moved to Hamilton we’d found this secret little Korean restaurant  (just tucked behind the International Village by the Ti-cat building) that I loved. It had sunken-in individual bbq tables, great Korean pancakes and hundreds of tiny polaroids of its customers pasted on the walls. I guess it may have been a little too secret, in that maybe not enough people went? To my dismay it closed down a few years ago.

Not too long after Cho Sun Ok moved from its Queen North location down on King East and it sufficed in satisfying my Korean food cravings.

However, it was an even nicer surprise to wake up one day to find that Owl of Minerva had opened up a location here in Hamilton just at Main and Wentworth! I’d been to their Toronto location on Bloor in Korea town, so I knew that I would not be disappointed. Good Korean in Hamilton, finally!

I went with only one other friend (coincidently before heading to Kim’s Convenience -a play about a Korean shop owner), so we didn’t order a huge elaborate meal. Instead we ordered bibimbap. A good standard fare for any Korean restaurant and anyone new to trying Korean food. The stone bowl stayed crazy hot for the duration of the meal, and the Korean sides were great!

I really want to come back with a larger group of people so that we can have a proper Korean feast of some kalbi short ribs, bulgolgi and samgyeopsal. A little heavy on the meat -I know. I guess I could throw in a spicy and hot tofu kimchi chigae. Chigae’s are my cure all for chills and colds. Warms you right up!

Truly a perfect winter time place. I hope that in the summer they’ll have cold Korean noodles!

*The Famous Owl of Minerva, 309 Main St. E, 905.528.7275

 

 

soup

One of the best things about soup, besides eating it, is that if you make a big ol’ pot you can freeze some for another soup meal.

We’ve been doing precisely that all winter long.

One of my favourite soups that Steve makes is a bacon, kale and bowtie pasta soup. We modify the recipe from a lovely soup book we own called Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom. She covers soups for every season that are really easy to make.

Making soup stalk from scracth. A whole little chicken was added to this.

bacon, kale, bowtie pasta soup

potato & leek soup and a grilled cheese

 

With Steve working from home we’re able to enjoy some pretty cute lunches together slurping away at our soups.

cap’n cootes

On the occasions when I decide to take Plains Road into Hamilton from Burlington, I love taking that quick glance over across the bay towards Dundas. It’s a pretty picturesque view, all things considered, if you were to look to the opposite side of the T.B. McQuesten High Level Bridge the view would be of smoke stacks and steel mills. Truly I think the view of Cootes Paradise towards Dundas from the bridge is one of the more breathtaking views of Southern Ontario. You can see the curve of the escarpment, the marshy bay and what seems to be virtually untouched nature for miles and miles.

The Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge was built during the 1930's. It was originally called Hamilton High Level Bridge before being renamed after Thomas McQuesten, who was an upstanding Hamilton citizen that resided in the historic Whitehern house.

view of Cootes Paradise from T.B. McQuesten Bridge

view of Princess Point from T.B. McQueston Bridge

Over the weekend we decided to get out an embrace the winter weather and take a walk through Cootes Paradise.

Mainly, I really wanted to get an up-close and personal look of the bay in its frozen solid form. I always notice the little silhouettes of people skating and playing hockey out on the bay in winter from the highway and I have these wistfull dreams that one day I might be that person down there skating away. Well, I currently don’t own skates and Omi being so little, I think we’re still a ways off from passing a puck around or doing double axels on that natural winter-made Ontario-bay ice.

So a winter walk it was… right through some of my favourite Hamilton landscapes.

Our walk began from the RBG Arboretum entrance. I duly noted that in the spring we would have to make a return visit to see the massive lilac garden (apparently the largest in North America). After a bit of meandering we finally found the Captain Cootes Trail that hugged the bay and away we went!

We tried to venture out on the bay for a little while. There was a couple with their dogs walking out on the ice so it was a sign that the ice was strong enough to hold. But when I ventured out and heard the ice crack under my feet I decided to play it safe. I’ve been told that the water on the bay is really shallow so it doesn’t take much of a cold snap to freeze it solid. I wasn’t taking my chances that day.

A bit ambitious to be out walking in the cold minus 10 degree whether. So when Omi’s little chubby baby cheeks were feeling cold and getting all rosied up, we called it a day and headed back.

balmy

With the weather being unseasonably warm this winter I’ve been trying to take advantage of getting out of the house. I’ve taken to going for a walk a day with baby in tow.

Considering November and December can be so drab it was nice to see little pops of colour along my walks.

313 Barton St. E

62 East Ave. S

East Ave. just north of King

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