Shameless Self-Promotion, but hey – it’s in the Name of Art!

So maybe I was on a bit of a roll last weekend, posting more than once in a blue moon. But of course it couldn’t last!

I do apologize. I won’t even say that I’ve been too busy baking to be writing about baking which, although true, has become somewhat trite and redundant. And to say that I’ll make it up to you also sounds a bit worn out. But let’s just leave it at this: I have a whole heap of treats that need writing about, from the coconut cream cupcakes I baked at the beginning of the month to the pumpkin-molasses frenzy of last week in honour of the beginning of fall. I hope to get to them eventually to give them the attention they so richly deserve.

How about for now I leave you with some of my other writing? In case you haven’t made it through the novel on my About page, I have been writing for  Toronto blog  She’s So Savvy for almost a year now. It used to be focused exclusively on beauty and skin care, because that’s where I tend to be most knowledgeable, but the posts of late have expanded to include everything from DIY home restoration, urban exploration and – of course – food. Basically, it’s become a reflection of the direction I’m heading in now. Well, the direction I’m trying desperately to head in, anyway. The most recent post I’ve written is a rundown of something called the Supercrawl, a two day festival version of  the monthly Art Crawls that are held on the 2nd Friday of each month in Hamilton’s artist district, James Street North. It even has a video companion piece that can be found here.

Click here to read Urban Explorer 2nd Edition – Supercrawl on James Street North. Although the event went down a couple weekends ago, it’s being posted to coincide with Scotiabank’s all-night art event Nuit Blanche in Toronto which is going down this weekend: Saturday, September 29th. Or, perhaps, as a direct rebuttal against it… Enjoy!



Locke Street Festival, Hamilton – September 8th

I had drafted this post for my regular Tuesday She’s So Savvy feature, but that Savvy lady is away on business and not able to post from the PC she’s using on her travels. PC – enough said. If it were a Mac she may not have had an issue…

But I digress: I’m not here to discuss the merits of Apple vs Microsoft. I’m here to make sure that the video I created out of this past weekend’s Locke Street Festival experience gets seen! However, I just ask that whilst viewing you be aware that it’s my first time using iMovie and that I put this together using a series of photos because any of the video I did shoot was pretty much unusable – meaning I won’t be entering any TIFF documentaries anytime soon. So please, be gentle.

And this is me, finally shutting up…on to the post!

She’s So Savvy Glamanomics Urban Explorer Edition:

     Locke Street Festival, Hamilton Ontario

It’s easy to get caught up in a city like Toronto, with it’s million plus population and seemingly endless things to do. At times you can forget that there’s anything outside of it. Trust me, I know: when I first lived downtown, I remember thinking for the longest time that there was nothing north of Bloor or west of Dufferin. To go anywhere beyond those borders was unthinkable. But now that I live in a city about eighty kilometres southwest of TO, I’m experiencing what you might call a bit of a cultural renaissance. And, believe it or not, there’s a whole big world out here beyond the 427.

But rather than having you read about my latest experience, I’ve put together a little video to share. It’s from the Locke Street Festival that happened this past Saturday in my newly adopted hometown of Hamilton. Where better to start, I asked myself, than one of my favourite streets in the world? Now please understand that that’s saying quite a lot, considering that it shares company with Via Condotti in Rome where you will find Prada, Valentino,  and Gucci: and London’s Conduit Street – home to Vivienne Westwood and Burberry boutiques, and the original Alexander McQueen boutique which has since moved to another cherished street of mine, Bond Street. Are you sensing a theme here? So maybe I like to shop a little bit. But never mind that – the best part about Locke Street is that it is but an hour’s drive from TO on a weekend. Most days, it would take you that long just to get downtown to Dufferin from Yorkdale.

Without further ado, you can watch the video on my Facebook wall here. Please excuse the music; I had originally set this to  ‘Day Tripper’ by the Beatles because, while lyrically it may be somewhat inappropriate, its title and jaunty tune seemed to capture the spirit of the moment. However, Facebook would not allow it to be posted, so I have spent the better part of the day rearranging it with generic Apple=provided music. And at one point I even thought I had to lost the entire project altogether, but let’s not go back to that dark place again.

If you’re looking for more information about the shops mentioned and this fabulous stretch of street, here are some helpful links for you to check out:

Locke Street Farmer’s Market – local produce and crafts provided by area farmers and artists

Nerdbiskit – cheeky little buttons and other adorable accessories, specializing in plush moustaches

Spencer’s Mercantile – probably the most unique store I have ever encountered, this is my son’s favourite store on the strip

La Jardinere – beautiful and unusual flower arrangements along with equally beautiful resident birds

Pure Home Couture – it had me at the pink on pink stripes leading up to its boutique loft, which I think must be what Heaven looks like

Bitten – not just another cupcake joint, they have the Hunka Hunka Burnin Love: banana cupcake with peanut butter buttercream topped with a strip of candied bacon. BACON

 Shirin’s Fine Foods – the aroma wafting from the open doors of this Old World deli-bakery as we walked by was nothing short of intoxicating. Of course, it was perogies

The Vintage Garden Tea Room – over 50 varieties of tea on offer, available for purchase or to enjoy on-site

 Al Simmons Gun Shop – yes, you read that correctly: gun shop. Responsible gun ownership is a civil responsibility

Locke Street Shops – gives you a comprehensive listing of all the shops on this fabulous stretch of street

There are no shortage of deals to be had on Locke, not just at the Festival but all year round. It’s the perfect place to get that special gift for the friend who has everything, and don’t we all have a friend or two like that? Believe me, it’s worth a trip down the QEW, even if it is well past the Dufferin Gates.

So Why Hamilton?

It’s a question I hear all the time now; well, since we decided to buy a house here and get the eff out of Toronto before it could sink even further into the cesspool it’s become since Fat Ford took over as mayor. But I digress – quite frequently, in fact. And besides, that’s not the point and if I don’t stop the TO bashing now I may never get to the actual purpose of this particular post. Which is to shed a little light onto why we decided to relocate to Hamilton instead of something more commuter friendly. Like Mississauga or Brampton, perhaps.

The short answer is… there really isn’t a short answer. I could start to explain that as we were driving through on New Year’s Day we were reminded of our beloved St Louis, Missouri which if you’ve never been, is deserving of its own post because it’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful and underrated cities in the world. As well as my favourite – a bold statement considering that I’ve lived in London. England, not Ontario. But again, I’m digressing. I could also mention that, unlike Brampton or Mississauga, Hamilton is a city with its own culture, history and architecture; it does not feel like an extension of the GTA at all. In fact, it’s almost like visiting a whole different world in comparison. And I could say it was simply a matter of economics, that we would only be able to afford a tiny condo for what we were able to get here – a large four bedroom home with massive front and back yards and a garage.

But it’s not really any of those things, although each one was certainly a factor in our decision. It was more of a feeling than anything else, not something that is easy to put into words. It just felt like it was the right move for us to make. And so rather than continue to try to explain something that defies explanation, here are some pictures which might help describe why we ended up making the decision we did.

Hopefully, that will clear things up for anyone who still may be wondering.

Albion Falls, a ten minute drive away. In Toronto it takes about that long to drive about three blocks…


Bayfront Park at dusk


A swan at the Bayfront Park


One of the rosebushes in our back garden