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.