November 16, 2012

A familar face at School

There's a great cafe and bakery in our neighbourhood called School, which bases its branding and visual identity on, well, school. So the idea is that the restaurant is a schoolhouse of sorts, and they have lots of fun with riffing on the theme.

On their website they have a fun section called "Yearbook" in which they ask for submissions of patrons' yearbook photos and associated quote. If you take a look on the yearbook page you just might find a familiar face.

November 7, 2012

Four More Years!

"America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America".

November 5, 2012


It was a pleasure to be in the heart of Old Montreal on Thursday evening. After a stroll through the narrow streets amidst the tightly packed stone buildings, I decided to treat myself to a classic French dinner at the super quaint Marche de la Villette. 

This bistro is a slice of the French countryside, with stone walls, comfy tables, and a genial and boisterous staff. I elected to hunker down with the assiette de la vilette, which is the house charcuterie platter, and a lovely glass of red wine.  This was just the perfect way to start the evening before the event I was hosting nearby.

November 2, 2012

Dispatch from YUL

I can't believe I haven't posted on my blog in a month! This is highly unlike me. I guess it's a reflection of the fact that I have been going all-out at work.

Not only is my department hosting many events, we get invited to attend other OCAD U and related events to represent the University. I worked last Saturday to take part in the University's open house and this Saturday I am attending a screening of a recent grad's short-films trilogy. I then have 3 evening events this week, which make for a long day indeed.

When I have been getting home it's a constant ballet of making dinner and flopping down to relax and unwind. Oh ya, and there is that need to spend time with my beloved.

No complaints, mind you. It's been a great year for me at OCAD U and there is more exciting things to come at work. I am blessed with an awesome team and it's a joy to head to the office. It's just full-steam-ahead busy. Looking forward to some down-time over the holidays with family and friends.

October 3, 2012

The Truth is Out There

The truth is out Toronto! A store called Conspiracy Culture opened up in Parkdale and features books, magazines, and DVDs on a wide range of topics, including  mainstays like 9/11, aliens, ancient civilizations, the occult, cryptozoology, politics, religion, secret societies, war & terrorism.

October 2, 2012

Extreme Makeover Toronto

Image Credit: Gehry International Inc
Toronto is abuzz with the announcement by David Mirvish that he intends to demolish a block of his properties along King Street West, including the Princess of Wales Theatre, to erect three towers designed by Frank Gehry.

The three towers would be condos with a total of 2,600 units, and they would rise from 80 to 85 stories--among the highest residential towers on the continent.

The lower levels of the staggering complex would be multi-use and include retail, a 60,000 square-feet public gallery for Mirvish's art collection, as well as 25,000 square-feet dedicated to OCAD University for a new Public Learning Centre for Visual Art, Curatorial Studies, and Art History.

There is a chorus of voices both in support and in objection to this proposed development. As the key players navigate the planning and approval processes it will be very interesting what comes out at the other end.

September 25, 2012

Pool Boy

We were delighted to see an announcement in our lobby recently that our condo's pool, hot tub, and sauna were ready for use. Mark has taken advantage of our marquee amenity and has been swimming every morning. Good for him! I went down one day while he was doing laps and took a few shots of the pool area (click on images to enlarge).

September 24, 2012

Panorama Sunday

We had the oldest child of longtime friends of Mark's over for dinner Sunday evening and he took this great panoramic shot of our view of the city. Thought I would share it with you...

September 18, 2012

On the Waterfront

On our way to explore the Polish Festival this past Sunday, we stumbled across a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard and takes strollers right to the waterfront in an area of the city called Sunnyside. We had never been to this area before and we took a few photos of the boardwalk that connects into the huge waterfront trail system that crosses the entire Toronto shoreline.

September 16, 2012

Photo Essay: St. Lawrence Market

Classic view of inside of the main entrance
So many choices
At the intersection of bagels and meats
When you need the upper cut!
Luba's Coffee Boutique, St. Lawrence Market
Toronto's flatiron, the Gooderham Building (1892)
We took advantage of the lovely, yet crisp, weather to take a trip over to St. Lawrence Market, recently ranked the #1 food market in the world by National Geographic. We enjoyed lots of samples, bought some bagels, and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of one of the great gems of Toronto.

September 3, 2012

Front row seats, from our balcony

Awesome formation over the CNE
Dufferin Gate, CNE
Aerial shot of Liberty Village
The "tabletop" Sharp Centre for Design, OCAD U
Toronto skyline with so many cranes
Left to right: Shangri-La Hotel, Trump Hotel, Scotiabank Tower, First Canadian Place

August 28, 2012

A Sunday View

Rides of the CNE, with boaters in the distance. Stacy Kelly, 2012
The Toronto skyline, growing daily. Stacy Kelly, 2012

August 20, 2012

Coffee Talk

Image Credit: Nicola Hamilton/The Grid, 2012
One of the pleasant discoveries about living in downtown Toronto has been stumbling across independent coffee shops during my walks to and from work.

I was curious how many of the large corporate coffee chains were actually in the city, as it seems one is never 500 feet from at least one of them. Turns out, the awesome paper/blog The Grid had the same question a few months back. They came up with the accompanying image to the left, which nicely depicts the number of stores per company as of this past February.

So, given the saturation by the big guys, it has been nice to stumble across the little guys, such as my daily favourite, Dark Horse Espresso Bar as well as my runner-up, Crema Coffee Co.

Other spots that offer a great Americano plus a treat include Wagamama Pastries & Cafe, which make hands-down the best croissants in the city, Little Nicky's (known for their sinful home made donuts), as well as Nadage Patisserie, surely one of the city's gems.

August 18, 2012

Ponder, A Surprise

"Ponder" no. 3/12. Reduction Woodblock. 30x37 Rose Hirano, 2009.

When our friend Patrick opened up his art gallery a couple of years ago in Kingston, he featured a wonderful artist named Rose Hirano, who concentrates mostly on producing exquisite reduction woodblock prints. 

We loved all of the pieces in the exhibit but one spoke to both of us so powerfully that we coveted it immediately. It was called "Ponder" and it resonated with us so profoundly. 

Unfortunately, we were unable to purchase the print due to life circumstances, and we just assumed that it was lost to us. But then Patrick moved his gallery to Toronto and featured
Hirano in a show in March 2012. By then we had also moved to Toronto and I went into the gallery a few days before the opening and put our names on the print. 

It was a surprise purchase, meant to be given to Mark on our anniversary, August 15. Patrick kindly kept the work for us and I somehow managed to keep the secret under wraps for the past 6 months. There were a few others in on the plan, but my big worry was how to get the print into our apartment without Mark knowing. 

The saving grace came in the form of a 2 1/2 day recruitment conference that Mark attended August 15-17; the very same conference that we met at 11 years ago! So, with Mark conveniently away for two nights Patrick kindly delivered our new work and I installed in in our living room that night. 

Reduction woodcut is a multi-inking process, printing from light to dark values using a single piece of wood. Each image averages 10 to 12 colour layers.
Hirano explained at the opening that it is a methodical and very meditative process, and that while there are more than one print in each series (in this case she did a run of 12) each is actually unique as they are done by hand and have their own distinctness. As the woodblock is literally reduced in the process there is no way for it to be re-used and she destroys it afterwards. 

So, when Mark came home on Friday afternoon he was treated to a wonderful new surprise addition to our home--a stunning work of art of which we are proud to be its stewards. 

August 14, 2012

Scones by Stacy

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012. Recipe from the Chez Piggy Cookbook

You're going to need a bigger fork

Mark tackles a massive poutine near Weedon, Quebec. Image Credit: Marsha Kelly, 2012.

August 12, 2012

Back to life, back to reality

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012
We've returned from a week on the road visiting friends and family in Kingston, Cornwall, and East Angus (Quebec). Our hearts are full of love from seeing so many dear people.

We did so many visits we piled up over 2000 kms! We joked that we should have gotten tour t-shirts made up.

At left was the stunning view from our balcony after we got in Saturday afternoon.  What a striking welcome home.

July 18, 2012

Imperial Clay

Image Credit: Gardiner Museum, 2012
At lunch today I took the subway up three stops to check out the Gardiner Museum, Canada's national ceramics museum.

I had never been to the Gardiner before, and I was impressed that there exists a museum devoted solely to the curatorial presentation and preservation of ceramics. The museum's collections numbers some 3,000 pieces and it also hosts special exhibitions.

I was drawn to a current special exhibition called Rule Britannia!: Four Centuries of British Style, Power & Taste.  According to the show's website," Rule Britannia! celebrates the union of artistry and craft that symbolises and captures the social history, ingenuity, aspirations and sensibilities of one of the world’s greatest empires. Examining significant moments in the development of iconic British potteries, Rule Britannia! documents their emergence in the late 17th century to their domination of the world market in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

Of special interest was the aisle devoted to the celebration of members of the Royal Family, dating back to the 16th century and rolling right up to the marriage of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 

Just down the street from the Gardiner is another specialty museum devoted solely (har) to shoes. I have never been there before either.  Perhaps a peek into the Bata Shoe Museum will be a fun lunch trip for another day...

July 17, 2012

Recommended Reading

This is not a vacuous self-help book with platitudes and endless lists with bold instructions on how to make your life better in 150 pages. If you are seeking such a read look elsewhere.

Rather, this is a meditation on the nature of work in our times. Told using real-world stories spanning the globe, de Botton encourages deep thinking and reflection in his readers about the relationship between meaning and work as well as the meaning of our work.

July 16, 2012

In the towers of steel

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012

Freeway like a river cuts through this land
Into the side of love
Like a burning spear
And the poison rain
Brings a flood of fear
Through the ghost-ranch hills
Death valley waters
In the towers of steel
Belief goes on and on

        U2, "Heartland"

I snapped this photo recently while waiting for the 504 King Street streetcar to take me home. I thought the framing of the CN Tower was rather nice.

It also made me think about how the city's skyline is being irrevocably changed by the never-stopping construction of high rise buildings.

I had written about how Toronto is in the process erecting more high-rise buildings than any other city in North America in a posting back in November; something along the lines of 132 high-rises under construction. Admittedly, my posting was fuelled by some chest-pounding so I was taken aback by a provoking article in the July issue of Toronto Life called "Faulty Towers" that exposed the costs and risks of the massive condo rush happening in the city.

I have always seen Toronto as a city of high-rises and skyscrapers. What I did not realize was that, unlike New York City, Toronto had never historically been a city where people lived in high-rises on a massive scale. Rather, people in Toronto worked in high-rises and skyscrapers. Since Toronto was not hemmed in on all sides like Manhattan, the GTA became well-known for its urban sprawl and terrible commuting times. It was not until rather recent times that high-rise (i.e. 12 to 40 floors) condos began to sprout on the Toronto skyline.

The other new beast that arrived in Toronto alongside the swarm of condos is the soaring mixed-use, "5-star living" hotel/residence complexes, such as the 53-storey Ritz-Carlton Toronto (pictured above), 60-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower,  the 55-storey Four Seasons Hotel & Residences, and the almost-completed 65-storey Shangri-La Toronto. Media reports indicate that the actual sales of the apartments in these massive towers is less than ideal, despite the opulent marketing spin otherwise. Again, this is a new arrival to Toronto, home to vast square kilometres of suburban sprawl and semi-detached homes. On the immediate horizon are also two staggeringly tall condo residences: the 75-storey 10 York and the 78-storey Aura, slated to be Canada's tallest condo, already under construction.

With 132 high-rises on the way, Toronto will soon really look and feel like a Manhattan or Hong Kong, with all the pluses and minuses of a densely-packed urban core. No doubt, the downtown already has an outstanding array of food, entertainment, festivals, nightlife to offer its urban residents. I expect most Torontonians are ready to see more people move into the downtown core; what will be the test, however, is whether the city adequately prepares its beleaguered TTC so it can move even more people around in the most efficient and effective ways.

A toast to The Beach

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012
This past Saturday we finally made it over to Toronto's slice of paradise, The Beach.

Home to a wonderful boardwalk along the Lake Ontario shoreline, opened in 1932, The Beach is also stocked full of Victorian and Edwardian era houses tightly packed along gorgeous tree-lined streets. The main street, Queen Street East, is mostly chock full of quirky independent stores.

We checked out Ends, which is sort of like a version of Phase 2 for my Kingston friends, and a great store called Binz, which is completely devoted to organizing and storing things. Their motto is "Think inside the box". I rather like that! We also stopped in at Seagull Classics, a handsome furniture and lighting store.

But mostly, we went to The Beach neighbourhood to take in its namesake, the long beach and inviting stroll along the waterfront on a hot and humid summer day.

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012

July 3, 2012

Cape Cod Memories 6: Our Apartment

We had the top floor apartment in the front (circa 1850)

All images copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012