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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Design Find


As a new year and some new adventures in my life begin, I've started to once again turn my focus to sprucing up my quaint old east end house with some funky cool decor. I'm sure that most of you, dear readers, have walked a simliar path: getting to this point has been a labour of love as we've poured money into structural functions, insulation, electrical, doors/windows and things that you can't see. So in between that and having a baby, the house has remained for the most part, a hodge podge of random furniture and very little in the way of decor.

However, my inspiration has been rekindled anew!

On this note, I stumbled across an amazing find last night that I wanted to share.

A Toronto design company called Walloper has created these amazing Wall Stickers based on the TTC subway stops. Here is a link to the images of Danforth line:

http://walloper.com/toronto-transit/Danforth-Subway-Stations

These are great for people who are non-committal. They are literally removable stickers that can be peeled off the wall whenever you want. And they come in whatever colour and size you desire to fit your decor.

I loved the Coxwell and Greenwood ones, so I am thinking about ordering one for my living room wall. DH will hate it, but considering we have no budget for art, this is a great temporary solution!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eating Local
















It's the 30th, and my thoughts have drifted towards tomorrow night when another decade will close and a new one begin. I personally like to spend the first seconds of the new year in my pajamas. I don't know about everyone else, but gone are the days when I shivered in the cold in a mini-skirt and 3-inch stilettos looking for a cab at 4am.

I'll be hitting up Royal Beef for some nice steaks and some delicious cheese and olives for my dinner guests tomorrow night and when 2010 comes around I'll be happily cheering it on from my couch on Danforth East.

For those of you who are on the fence (don't want to stay in but don't want to go out) why not consider eating local and making it home for the stroke of midnight. I made some calls to save you the trouble:

Melanie's - an a la carte menu starting at 6:00, with some special NYE entrees. Book now as Melanie herself said that the spots were filling up for the night. Kitchen closes at 11:00. (416) 422-1870

Relish - same as above, pretty much.

Ten Feet Tall - a $55 set menu with some tasty tasty menu items (you can find it here). Two seatings. Call for reservations: 416-778-7333. And it goes without saying that the music will be fantastic, as Karon's masterful selection of entertainment always is.

Happy New Year everyone, no matter where you end up. What matters is that you're with the people you love (or atleast like!!)!

Here's to a great 2010 on Danforth East!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Northern Lights

I'm betting some of you are wondering what happened to my holiday lights contest. I did get a few entries (thank you all who submitted!), but I realized that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so in the holiday spirit, I have decided to refrain from pointing out holiday houses-of-horrors. Besides, it's quite hard to get a good photo in the dark, don't you think?

In lieu of that, here is my favourite line from my favourite Christmas movie which does in fact have the most heinous lighting display ever:

"What are you looking at?"
"Oh, the silent majesty of a winter's morn... the clean, cool chill of the holiday air... an a**hole in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer... "
(National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Festival of Lights

DH was playing editorial assistant today and came up with some suggestions for stories for me. His funniest idea is something I loved.

As I'm sure everyone knows, we have some pretty gorgeous and pretty heinous Xmas lights in the area. For instance, take a drive north on Greenwood between Mortimer and O'Connor and you'll see what I mean!

DH would like everyone to send in pictures of their favourite, least-favourite, loudest, ugliest, brightest, craziest and/or funniest Xmas lights from anywhere in Danforth East. I will post them and we can vote on which we like or loath the most (if there are enough entries). If you're game, you can email us at thedaily *at* eastendpioneer *dot* ca.

Winning entry gets a $10 gift card to a local coffee shop of your choice (True Brew, Three's Company Too, Last Drop, Seb's or Small World)!

Pet Project

Having a needy toddler and an equally as needy husband, I am occasionally a bit of a negligent mother to my "fur baby", an adventurous and rebellious shih-poo named Rascal who sleeps at my feet (okay, correction, on top of my feet) every night and who stole my heart the minute I met him.
Since it's the holidays, I have opted to spoil him rotten in lieu of missed play-dates at the park this past year, so my next stop on the "holiday shopping tour" will be Wag on the Danforth (1918 Danforth Ave), the best and pretty much only pet store on Danforth East.

I recently noticed that they carry super cute Hotdogs name tags, so I'll be picking one up for the little guy, customized with a skull and cross bones to match his fierce attitude.


They've also got an excellent selection of Wellness treats, which are the pooch's favourite snack (mmmm....liver and peanut butter....delectable!) and some really cute toys. What wins me over every time is the customer service and that's why I go back. The owners Ruth and Rob are dedicated to helping people and their pets and going the extra distance with a smile to boot, something you are not going to experience at Pet Smart. Oh, that, AND a wash your own dog station!

Now, if only they would start carrying rabbit food......

.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jams and Jellies, Oh My!

You never know what you're going to discover in this neighbourhood, and I've always stood by my idea that there are tons of hidden gems on Danforth East. It happened to me again the other night when I was grabbing take-out at Gerrard Spaghetti on Danforth.

A recent convert to the homestyle food at this Italian boite, I was waiting to pick up my order when I noticed a small display of homemade preserves and olive-oils to the side. My first thought was that I've hit the jackpot. Who wouldn't want to take home a taste of real Italian? My second is that this would be a great hostess gift - the homemade touch without all the "homemade" work. I selected a few for myself, but made sure to leave some goodies behind for my readers.

Bon appetit!

.

Monday, December 14, 2009

For What It's Worth

Last week, while researching the Roxy theatre redevelopment, I had the good luck to cross paths with one of the architects who revealed that he was moving into the Danforth East neighbourhood in the new year (and incidentally right around the corner from me).

As we were chatting, he asked me whether I knew what year the houses on Danforth East were constructed in. I do happen to know the details about my own house (approx. 1918) but I can only generalize about other areas and streets. That got me thinking. I'm a land surveyor's daughter, so I know how to find the Registry Office and do a title search, but most people wouldn't have a clue about finding this information.

Ironically, the same day, I jumped over to the Toronto Archives website and lo and behold, their front page featured a link to a new section called A Guide on How To Research Your House with a picture of a building on Coxwell circa 1912.

It's a great source for someone interested in getting background on their property. Most of the research has to be done at the archives, but they are very helpful and open on weekends.

I know all about my house, now I just want to know why Springdale used to be called Poulton Street. Can anyone answer this for me?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fine Things

One of my favourite local jewelry designers, Fine Silver Girl a.k.a Heather Bell Denison, is having a holiday open house and sale tomorrow. I wanted to pass this on to my readers, because she honestly makes the coolest pieces that I always get compliments on.

The open house is at 48 Woodington Avenue on Tuesday, December 15th  from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4 p.m. -10 p.m.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

A night at the Roxy



As a hyper-local blogger, I get asked almost daily from readers and friends in the neighbourhood about whether I know anything about what's happening on the SE corner of Greenwood and Danforth. Up until now, I'll admit, I've been lazy about doing any sleuthing on that issue, but last night all the info I could want was handed to me on a platter at city councillor Paula Fletcher's open house.

As most readers already know, the site will house an Esso gas station combined with an On The Run convenience store and a Tim Horton's. It will be open around April or May of this coming year. The great news is that I saw the site plan and elevations which revealed that the site's architectural firm is literally restoring the original Roxy theatre facade to it's original Art Deco glory. Grandiose double doors will be fronting onto the street for pedestrian traffic, with lots of bike parking to boot and a side entrance will accomodate gas station customers.

An Imperial Oil rep was on hand last night to answer my questions and he brought up a really great point: Tim Horton's will only have limited seating which will prevent any "loitering" by shady characters. He also noted that their research has shown criminal activity often moves away from areas where there are well lit gas stations. This is great for us, as that block seems to see a lot more police activity than the next couple of blocks.

The general consensus around the room seemed to be that this development was a good thing. I think that there is still the issue of car traffic increasing in the immediate vicinity, and I wouldn't say that Timmie's brings any cache to the neighbourhood, but it's a step towards revitalization which most will agree Danforth East needs.

And as a final note, the Roxy, which was once called the Allenby, is apparently known as one of the biggest influences of the Toronto punk rock scene - who knew! Here is an illustrated history.

Photo courtesy of BlogTO.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saturday Shenanigans

There are two things going on in the 'hood this Saturday that I am excited to take part in. It will be a jam-packed day for me, DH and the little one.

At 9 a.m. we are hitting up Breakfast with Santa, the annual Girl Guides of Canada event at Harmony Hall (Vic Park/Dawes) that raises money for the troops to do fun things like camping and canoeing. It's $10 for anyone over 2...so that means you're toddlers get free breakfast, woohoo! Pancakes, sausage, O.J, door prizes and did I mention Santa??? To reserve your tickets, please e-mail crsimmons@sympatico.ca.

Next up: Kimbourne United Church is having their annual Christmas Goodies Sale and Children's Show on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Plop your kids down at 11:00 for a festive musical performance running until 11:30, while you peruse the delicious baked goods and *preserves* which are perfect hostess gifts for the holidays (these are going to go FAST, so get there early!).

After the concert, for a mere $5/each, you and the kidlets can have lunch in the tea room. When they're suitably stuffed (and sticky), a visit to Santa's lap will make the day complete (also $5 for a photo).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Window Shopping


Holiday retail window decor is a beacon of holiday happiness, bringing forth feelings of joy and consumption.  However, the Bay is not the only store decorating their windows for the festive season. Our own neighbourhood storefront windows are getting their own "make-up" for the holidays thanks to the Danforth Mosaic BIA.

This past Sunday they launched their annual Mosaic Does Windows, a festive holiday window decorating contest amongst Danforth retailers between Donlands and Westlake. Citizens of the Danforth East Republic can stroll along our fine boulevards, enjoy our fabulously warm weather and check out the beautiful window art work that our local businesses have created.

While you're there, you might as well shop local and pick up some holiday gifts, decor, food to feed your third cousin twice-removed who is staying over for the holidays etc.

When you get home, you can log on to the Danforth Mosaic BIA website and vote for your favourite window and be entered to win prizes. It's a win-win situation, pardon the pun!




 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Eastenders

One thing that I absolutely love about Danforth East is the abundance of interesting people that I meet through various community events and committees. That has inspired me to dream of eventually starting a regular feature on East End Pioneer called Eastenders, focusing on the people who make this place great.

Today I'm highlighting one woman in particular who is a dynamo of ideas and business-savvy: Tanya Geisler is a DE resident and founder of Board of Your Life. She made it into today's Globe and Mail discussing her new life coaching program Coach Buffet. Check it out!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/work/speed-interviewing-on-your-marks-get-set-hire/article1383248/

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holly Berry Fair

Just a reminder, in case people didn't see it in the Mirror:

St. Luke's Anglican is having its Holly Berry Fair tomorrow (Saturday) - a holiday sale packed with baked goodies, a tea room, silent auction, crafts, books, jewelry and other fun stuff. It's at 904 Coxwell at Cosburn. The hours are 9:30 to 2:30.

Happy holiday shopping!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pie in the Sky


I love food and food loves me. However, I have a shameful secret. I order Pizza Pizza delivery. It is something I've been doing on auto-pilot for years. Never mind that Magic Oven is literally a stone's throw away or that the best pizza ever is at Danforth Pizza House (according to Yelp.ca anyway).

I usually order takeout about once every three weeks, and it's usually pizza or Thai and occasionally Indian from Gourmets on Gerrard. I recently decided to break free of the corporate pizza trance and try some local joints.

I started with Casa Di Giorgio because it's close. DH and I ordered an x-large with pepperoni, green olives and mushrooms. When it arrived, we were shocked because it was ENORMOUS. Enough for a huge family meal. Regardless, it was delicious. Nice thin crust and a perfect amount of cheese. Definitely a tad bit too salty, but that could be because of the pepperoni.

Yesterday I ordered from Free Topping pizza at Coxwell and O'Connor. The medium veg pizza was a perfect size for me for lunch and leftovers for DH's dinner. A little more doughy than the Casa Di Giorgio pizza, but not greasy at all, which is so important. They are a small chain though, so I shouldn't really compare.

A friend has recommended Amato at O'Connor and St. Clair and Columbo's of course! That will be my next "taste test".

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mousecapades

We have a mouse (or plural: mice) in our house. We know because we hear the little critters ripping apart the space between our basement and our kitchen. I've also seen Felix the Field Mouse sitting on my counter about to bear down on a fresh pizza sitting on the stove. If he could have, he would have given me "stink eye" for interrupting his feast.

I have the feeling that lots of my East York readers can empathize. It seems to be very common in our 'hood.

This is literally driving DH insane and thus, we have tried every conceivable over-the-counter remedy to catch our family of Mousketeers.

We recently discovered that we have a veritable pro in our midst. The people at Aetna Pest Control, located at 1828 Danforth, are recognized city-wide for their pest-fightin' skills. We shelled out a couple of hundred and one of their mouse experts came and laid down the law with some toxic mouse-nip.

I've just heard some nibbling behind my desk though, so I'm not sure that this plan is working. Any suggestions anyone??

Friday, November 20, 2009

Little Treasures


The holidays are seriously almost here. Next Thursday is American Thanksgiving, and you know what that means.....it's time to do some cross-border shopping! (*gasp*) Just kidding. Not only is that really bad for your carbon footprint, but it's a very long drive. Why spend all that time in your car when you can shop here on Danforth East?

In honour of Festivus, this Saturday (Nov. 21) our favourite east end eco-childrens retailer Kai Kids is pairing up with another very cool east end online business called Little Footprints Toys. They're calling it the Eco Family Holiday sale and its between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at their secret lair: 1390 Danforth Avenue.

It's a match made in heaven! As you know, Kai Kids specializes in earth-friendly clothing and accessories - perfect gifts for expectant or new mothers on your list - but we all know what the little ones really want for Christmas: toys. Little Footprints is an online "green" toy store dedicated to fun and games for kids of all ages.


The best news: your kids will NOT be running wild in the store while you shop. Amanda Pedro of Music Pups will be on hand from 10:30 to 2:30 every hour on the half hour for musical fun!

.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sugar, sugar...



Tonight is the Sugar Moon open house and I'm excited.

They are offering a free $200 gift card, if you buy any denomination of products or services worth $200. This may sound astronomical, but imagine how much free pampering this is. Plus, they have Dermalogica products and face mapping which I just found out is a very cool way to fine-tune a healthy skin regime.

My neighbour says that Sugar Moon is the best skin care place in East York and will go nowhere else for a pedicure or facial. I haven't ever made an appointment, but I have a $10 off coupon hanging on the fridge that I picked up at Jazz in The Park over the summer which I have been meaning to use.

The open house goes from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. They are offering free food and drinks for visitors so it's worth stopping by, if only for that!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DECA Cocktail Party and 3rd anniversary

Happy Third Anniversary to the Danforth East Community Association!
To celebrate their birthday, DECA has some exciting news: they are moving their boundary west to Monarch Park (from Coxwell), which is exciting for all of the west-of-Coxwell dwellers.

I write a lot about DECA on this blog, and the reason is because DECA does great things for our neighbourhood. Aside from running the farmers' market, business facelift initiative plus many other programs, they get people out walking and talking about Danforth East. Thanks to their call to action this past week, the Toronto Star has been flooded with letters in response to their article about the decline of the Danforth. We love our neighbourhood and DECA is a great example of a community group that started around someone's dining room table, but has grown to be a driving force behind urban change.

Props goes out to Natasha Granatstein (chair), Catherine Porter (vice-chair), the Smeech (treasurer), my dear Mary-Margaret, the fiery Alison McMurry - lady warrior of East Lynn park and all of the other people who have contributed to its success.

You will ALL get to meet these people live and in person next Monday evening at the 1st Annual DECA Cocktail Party (and AGM). Everyone is invited to come and nibble some finger foods at Melanie's Bistro and meet the crew. The part-ay starts at 7:00. Melanie's is located at 1870 Danforth Ave, between Coxwell and Woodbine.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's In You To Give


I was walking home along Danforth last night when I noticed a Canadian Blood Services sign pointing towards Toronto East General Hospital. I wouldn't normally post about this, but I was a little curious about the whole system of blood donation. Doing a little bit of research, I discovered that by the numbers, only 3.7% of eligible Canadians actually donate blood but 52% of the entire country actually needs blood for themselves or their family members.

I'm not sure how often they set up a mobile clinic at East General, but I thought it was worth noting for people who would actually like to donate.

The clinic runs from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17. The Canadian Blood Services website says appointments preferred, but I think the sign said it was a walk-in.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Update: The Hole/2055 Danforth


A lot of people have approached me, asking me if I know anything about The Hole and the community meeting that was organized on Nov. 2 to discuss the issues around the property's development. I wasn't able to attend, however, our good friends over at the Danforth East Community Association are plugged in (as usual) and have posted a really great meeting recap and overview of the proposed development over on DECA Diaries.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Takes the Cake

I'm having my first book club meeting tomorrow night, as I finally have a comfortable living room for people to sit in and more importantly, a place to send my daughter overnight.

I was hoping to pick-up some cute little cupcakes for everyone since there seems to be a serious love-on for cupcakes in this city right now. While I'm sure that everyone will be shouting "go to Sweet Indulgences" at Coxwell and O'Connor, I wanted to try CreARTive Cakes on Danforth. They've been open since the Spring and I love their window display, so I was hoping to try and get a taste of what they have on offer.

I've previously gone there twice, only to find the doors locked and closed in the middle of the day, so this time I thought I would be smart and call first.

My call was answered, but when questioned about whether they have cupcakes on hand, the answer was no. I could have sworn that they have cupcakes in the window but maybe I'm wrong.

So, three strikes....you know the story.

I think I'll just have to settle on Sweet Bliss down on Queen. They make DIVINE but pricey cupcakes and other baked goods. Sweet Indulgences is going to have to wait!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Never Forget the Fallen


I haven't posted in awhile - life's curve balls just keep on coming. However, I wanted to take some time out today to quietly reflect on Remembrance Day and what it means to me both as a Canadian and as a Torontonian.

The annual East York Remembrance Day ceremony was at the Civic Centre on Coxwell which is just around the corner, so I shut off my blackberry and headed over for a moment of silence.

The crowd that had gathered was admirable and touching. The young and the old, the uniformed and the civilians, the politicians and other community members gathered around the central monument in a moment of silence marked by the cadence of a single horn and the haunting melody of a bagpipe.

As four vintage Royal Canadian Air Force planes flew overhead, I choked up, suddenly hearing their roar for the first time in the context of war. 64 years ago, Toronto's soldiers began returning from foreign shores and many of them were sent to live on the complacent streets of East York, settling into the area's newly built post-war bungalows. For those men and women, the sound of bombers overhead didn't always signify a pleasant aerial display, but a real and horrifying threat. While children smile and point to the sky, a whole generation will remember the sounds of modern warfare and reflect on emotions that most Canadians will probably never have to face.

We're the lucky ones and it's important to remember that today and always.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Christmas Craft-y

I was reminded by a colleague just yesterday that Christmas is only a mere 7 weeks away, in a tone that was so urgent I almost rushed to the mall, believing that this would definitely not be enough time to get all my Christmas shopping done. Reality check: I remembered that I hardly ever start shopping until December which has always given me plenty of time.

Now that Halloween is over, the plethora of neighbourhood Christmas bake sales and craft sales will begin. Although a bit farther afield than Danforth East, this Saturday St. Barnabas Anglican Church at 361 Danforth is holding it's annual Christmas Bazaar from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Jams, jellies, baked goods, crafts, books and other gift items will be on sale.

You could take a nice leisurely walk along Danforth or, if you're taking transit, the closest stop is Chester.

Happy Bazaar-ing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flu shots and Crime Alerts


I must do my duty today, as a neighbourhood communicator, and pass on information about a couple of public services.

For those considering getting the H1N1 vaccine, the East York Civic Centre (850 Coxwell Ave) is holding a vaccination clinic TODAY for priority groups only, which includes:

 - pregnant women; children 6months to 5 years; people under 65 with chronic conditions; people who live with infants under 6 months old; immunocompromised people; and healthcare workers.

The hours are 12 - 7pm. H1N1 vaccine clinics for the general public will begin November 2nd. Check toronto.ca/health for clinic updates.

As well, after yesterday's post, one of my valued readers Berta sent me a note about the Toronto Police community alerts service. What I didn't know, but am really glad to have found out, is that you can sign up for neighbourhood alerts which will be sent right to your inbox with accurate information about recent community altercations or incidents. You can sign up here: www.torontopolice.on.ca.

What Berta also revealed is that yesterday's community alert was about the Sammon and Woodmount robbery. It was not by gunpoint, as my source had originally told me, but at sword point. Apparently we are living in Narnia.....

It's also the last day for the East Lynn Park Farmers' Market. It was a great season. Looking forward to next spring already!

(image courtesy of the National Institute for Health)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Robbery: Sammon & Woodmount

A neighbourhood source emailed me yesterday with the news that the convenience store at Sammon and Woodmount got held up at gun point on Monday night. This is pretty scary news for everyone, particularly the home owners in the immediate vicinity.

The idea of a neighbourhood watch group was brought up and I think this is a great idea. However, in lieu of that, I think there are things that everyone can do on their own. The first is: get to know your neighbours. Talk to the old man down the street, or the old lady who lives by herself or anyone on your block really. This brings a heightened awareness of what is normal and what is not.

However, if you do see sketchy behaviour at your neighbour's house while they are on vacation, don't do anything on your own. Call 911 or call 416.808.5500 (or 5400) - the desks at 54 and 55 Division.

The crime rate is actually going down on Danforth East, thanks to the diligent work of the men in blue and to the people who live here that report suspicious activity to the police on a daily basis. The recent prostitution bust is a good sign that law enforcement is paying attention to our 'hood and realizing that we want to change it for the better!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Urban Planning

A few weeks back I blogged about the property we affectionately call "The Hole" being re-zoned for a 14-story building. A public meeting has been called by Councillor Bussin's office to discuss said plans with the community before any ground-breaking happens.

Here are all the details:

Monday, November 2, 2009
7 – 9 p.m. Danforth Mennonite Church @ 2174 Danforth Ave. – Lower Level

An overview of the proposed development will be provided.  A representative of the developer will be there to give some notes on the preliminary plan.  Tine Major who is the city planner assigned to the file (and local Danforth East-er to boot!) will be there to comment and answer questions.

For more information, you can contact Sandra Bussin’s office at 416-392-1376 or councillor_bussin@toronto.ca.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The joint was jumpin'

On Friday night, my girls and I had a chance to raise the roof for our tri-monthly get together without our husbands. Our watering hole of choice is Taps & Tales, a really nice comfy pub on Danforth just west of Linsmore (or Linnsmore, depending on where you live, but more on that another day). There was only a handful of us this time, so rather than book the private lounge space at the back, we squeezed into their 6 person booth which was just the right size. What I love about the booths here is that they are not only comfortable, but you have the ability to adjust the lighting to your own desired brightness, right at the table. Ambiance - check!

Taps & Tales has a great microbrew menu and an average wine list, with some definite highlights such as the Dan Ackroyd Chardonnay which I have been meaning to try for months. One of my gal pals always gets the apricot beer which literally arrived at the table seconds after she pulled off her coat and sat down. This brings me to another reason I love Taps: our waitress Jasmine. For a year now, we've been haunting this place and gotten to know "Jazzy" as I call her. She's fun and friendly and once she even had a drink with us (it was late and we were rowdy). She remembers our names and my friend Jenn's choice of beer. It's like my own personal Cheers on Danforth.

Regardless, what I wanted to point out today is that this joint was jumpin' and it was so very nice to see that. The bar stools were packed, the booths were packed and the place was humming. It looked like the kitchen was super busy, but even then, our delectable nachos and Mediterranean dips plate were brought out with speedy service.

This place never disappoints. We all had such a great night. I know I will be back for more!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Call to Action

The two sweet ladies behind the counter at the Coxwell and Danforth postal outlet are always ready with a huge smile when DH and I come in to mail our weekly multitude of packages. With a home based business and relatives all over the world, we tread a beaten path to this Canada Post counter which is the only one within a huge radius that we can walk to.

This morning DH made his usual stop to mail a package before work and was stunned to find out that after 20 years in business, the outlet is closing its doors. The reason why is even more upsetting. Canada Post is insisting that they pay $12,000 to upgrade their computers, which they obviously cannot afford as small business owners. This is forcing them to shut down, essentially also shutting our community out of an essential services.

Aside from the inconvenience factor of having to drive to Woodbine and O'Connor, which is the next nearest CP location, this will have a serious impact on neighbourhood revitalization and quality of life within Danforth East, particularly for seniors who have been visiting this branch since 1989.

I don't want to get up on a soapbox, but the facts are the facts. When a community has essential services within walking distance, it stays vibrant, increases safety and walkability and contributes to quality of life for its residents.

Over the past five to ten years, Danforth East has undergone a quiet revolution of urban renewal. We have a new-ish BIA, a residents association (DECA), two farmers' markets, school improvements, a brand new library (S. Walter Stewart), a multitude of new businesses that have moved to the neighbourhood and hundreds of young families that use this post office on a regular basis. By creating another vacant store front, we're taking two steps backwards, rather than moving forward.

Let's show some community spirit. If you want to save this post office, please call Jack Layton's office (416-405-8914) and Maria Minna's office (416-467-0860) and show your concern. These are the types of things that our MPs are here for.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Green is the new Black

Just a little bit west of Monarch Park on Danforth, you may have noticed that there is a shop window that often displays a selection of Japanese socks and sandals. It occasionally mixes things up with a fresh exhibit of eco-friendly kids clothing and accessories. I've often wondered what this is all about, so I'm very happy to share a new secret discovery: this is Kai Kids and they're a great, family run business (who actually live in the neighbourhood) which specializes in ethically-made, eco-friendly gear for families.

Although they're not usually open to the public, this Saturday, October 17, they're doing what the Brits call a pop-up shop and what I call a trunk show. They'll be opening up 1390 Danforth from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. for some planet-friendly and non-toxic 'green' shopping.

Products are mainly for kids from birth to 4, pregnant women and nursing moms and includes skincare products, toys, clothes, bedding etc.

Design star Barbara Nyke, who specializes in eco-friendly design, will be holding a free information session on designing healthy rooms for kids.


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Friday, October 9, 2009

There's A Chill In The Air....


There's a chill in the air and in our household, DH's thoughts usually start turning to pre-winter lawn maintenance and a long list of "indoor" projects to keep him busy through the cold months. When we moved into our house a few years ago, we inherited a whole slew of gardening implements including a VERY rusty rake circa the 70's and some clippers that don't actually clip, so as I look out the window and see the leaves falling I know its time to bite the bullet and at the least, buy a new rake.

For now, I'll have to make the drive to Canadian Tire, but soon enough I'll be able to actually walk to a neighbourhood hardware store when Home Hardware opens up at the corner of Woodbine and Danforth. The space, which was once a dollar store, is being renovated as we speak and should open up this year.

A multitude of calls and emails to the Home Hardware community relations office has resulted in no actual response from them about when that will be, thus the reason this post is so very tardy, but here's hoping it will be before winter!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pie In The Sky

As the weather gets cooler, I can't help but notice that Hallowe'en candy is already starting to creep onto the shelves and costume racks are fully stocked. If that's not enough to get you into the mood, Pumpkinfest is here again. The 2nd annual community event is happening this Thursday, October 8th at East Lynn Park from 3:30 - 7:30 in conjunction with the weekly farmers' market.

All the typical festivities will be in full swing: pumpkin decorating for the kids, music, face painting, bouncy castles and fresh food from the farmers. The highlight of this year's party is the Pie Making Contest - the prize is worth $600 in services from local businesses which is nothing to sneeze at. All you have to do to win is to enter the contest here, make a pie and show up on Thursday for our judges to decide if you are indeed the Queen of Pies.

If you can't bake (like me...), don't worry! Grab a coffee and come and listen to the Sons of Beaches while grabbing your groceries for the week. See you there!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Caller ID

Oy! Once again, our city councillor Sandra Bussin is in the news ........:
http://cp24.com/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20091001/091001_bussin/20091001/?hub=CP24Home

###

Update: Thanks to Twitter, I found out that Kris Reyes from City News has found the recording on youtube...its here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xtbmvhBaQs

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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Elusive Rice Ball

When I say "rice balls", I'm sure that for some of you readers out there it summons the image of Onigiri, the delicious Japanese rice and seaweed snack (which is also, incidentally, the definition that comes up if you wikipedia the phrase 'rice balls'). However, if you live on Danforth East or are familiar with Italian fast food, you know that the version of rice balls that I'm eluding to is that of the crispy, deep fried, artery clogging cheese ball type. If you live on Danforth East, you also know that these delicacies are basically similiar to an elusive unicorn - a creature of myth and legend.

A few weeks ago, I was ironically sitting next to two readers of East End Pioneer at a friends wedding, and the rice ball topic came up. They confirmed what I had been told by many: that North Pole Bakery, at Greenwood and Danforth, makes the best ones. The problem is, I have now made four trips to this semi-hidden mom and pop shop and still have not been able to get myself one tiny rice ball. They have been either closed for a long, long summer holiday or I've arrived too late in the day.

I came close the other day - it was 11:30 a.m. and I could see through the window that there were seven of them glinting in the sunlight. I clumsily pulled my huge jogging stroller into the store, only to see the woman behind the counter putting ALL of them in a takeout container. I point, and gape, in frustration - she just shrugs and says "prego, someone called and put them aside". Tears almost came to my eyes. So close, yet so far away.

An older Italian gentleman takes pity on me and once outside on the sidewalk gives me some "fatherly" advice. Go to Columbos, he says. They make 400 of them a week and you're sure to get one. "But these are the best," I sputter. "I know," he shrugs, and waves a retreat.

Moral of the story - you're guaranteed a rice ball at Columbos (1794 Danforth), but if you want "the best" you might as well get up at the crack of dawn and stand in line, because that might be the best strategy!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coffee Time (again)...


Coffee is one of my little luxuries - I could make it at home, but I'd much rather head out and savour an Americano from one of our neighbourhood joints. I'm a regular at Last Drop and Three's Company Too where all the gals behind the counter know what I want.

I was headed out to a meeting just east of Woodbine today so I decided to grab a java enroute. While everyone knows that Seb's (1928 Danforth) makes the finest cappuccino around for only $2.25, I had never tried True Brew, the small coffee shop on the north side of Danforth just east of Woodbine, so off I went.

Although the decor was cozy and they have free wireless (yippee!) I was shocked to find out that my measly double shot Americano was $3.39, the most expensive in the area. I almost asked if they meant $2.39, but decided against it. Even Starbucks only charges around $2.50, so I don't quite understand this phenomenon. While regular coffee is priced competitively and they have sandwiches that also seem reasonable, their espresso based drinks are astronomically priced.

So, while the free wireless and the pungent and wholesome aroma of corn chowder simmering on the back burner were reasons to stay for lunch, I wouldn't go back for a coffee. I'll let you decide!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zoned Out

My other fave Danforth East blog DECA Diaries tipped me off last week that a sign has gone up at the vacant lot at 2055 Danforth (just west of Woodbine) indicating an application to amend the zoning by-law has been submitted. This site has had a fiery history so as a person unfamiliar with building codes and by-laws, I had questions. What does this mean and how will it affect us? I know that lots of people are eager to see this developed rather than sit empty, so I did some investigatin'.

After a bit of sleuthing, I tracked down Emily in the City Planners office. She said that the sign pretty much speaks for itself - formerly zoned only for commercial use, the developers have asked that this be rezoned as a mixed-use site including residential units, parking and retail. There has been a site plan submitted, but it is not for public viewing as of yet, as it is still making the rounds of the Planning office. The good news is that the city planner assigned to this case, Tine Major, is an east-ender. This is important because she will better empathize with east-end sentiments on redevelopment.

There has been lots of controversy over the years about 2055 Danforth, so Emily explained that there will be a preliminary report made to the city counciller (Sandra Bussin) who will then call a community meeting. I'll keep everyone posted when I hear more. In the meantime, I'd be interested in what people think should go into this space. Leave your comments below!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Sale


If you aren't going to make it to the first annual Danforth East Arts Fair, the least you can do is to stop off at St. Luke's Church at 904 Coxwell (at Cosburn) on Saturday.

They are having a giant book sale this Saturday, (Sept 19) from 9 until 2 p.m. They will be selling all types of books both new and used: collectibles, fiction, non fiction, mysteries, cooking, gardening, childrens, biographies, autobiographies, science fiction, travel and more. They've also indicated that they will have a selection of records, dvds, videos and some art prints.

I will personally be sleuthing out old paperback Agatha Christie's to add to my expanding collection, and you can never have enough kids books, right? Looks like this weekend will be all about shopping!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Calling all East York Shopaholics

A park is a park, but also a market, a playground, a community hub, a space where anything can happen - and this weekend, at long last, the first annual Danforth East Arts Fair is happening at East Lynn Park. Some 35+ artisans will be popping up tables and tents to sell their wares on the grassy slopes of our favourite neighbourhood hangout.

It has been a long year of planning to get this off the ground - DECA has been working hard to organize the permits and artisans and applications etc.

I got a sneak peak at some of the treasures that will be for sale and let me tell you, DH better hide his credit card because mama's got some spendin' to do! I have my eye on local artisan Fine Silver Girl's brilliant jewellry and Avani's totes and purses made from recycled burlap coffee bean sacks.

The Arts Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. A ribbon cutting with local VIPs happens at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. And for the moms with young kids out there: there will be porta-potties......

Monday, September 14, 2009

You Are What You Eat

They say you are what you eat, so after my post last week about the Toronto Star article and Ethiopian food, I realized that my husband and I aren't practicing what I have been preaching - in fact DH had eaten Ethiopian food a grand total of zero times - so when we had the chance to paint the town red this past Friday, it was time for the initiation. We decided to check out Lalibela, the new Ethiopian restaurant around Monarch Park that I posted about a few weeks ago (it was under construction then, but is now officially open).

Back then, my sneak peak of the restaurant held the promise of it being a cozy, stylish place to eat and they definitely did not disappoint. The space is a far cry from where it was as Tiny Thai Kitchen. They've updated the seating to comfortable and very spacious family sized banquettes and closed off the ugly, open concept kitchen area along with the requisite fresh paint and murals of what I surmise is Ethiopian scenery.

Once settled in with drinks, we decided to order the Lalibela Special for $24...... a food critic I am not, so to put it in plain language everyone can understand, it was a vast smorgasbord of deliciousness. The injera was perfect and the flavours were so intense that I have fallen in love with the place. The plate consisted of lamb, chicken and beef, along with some small salads of lentils and beets. A perfect cross-section of east African cuisine.

Usually when DH and I go out for dinner, there is never enough food in the world to satisfy his ravenous appetite, so it was shocking that we couldn't actually finish everything. Good food, cheap prices and a mediocre but long wine list, make this place my new favourite haunt - sorry Taps & Tales, the love affair could only last so long!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Word on the Street


Back in the spring, a bunch of folks signed up for the annual neighbourhood Jane's Walk - a historical tour of our 'hood led by reporter Joe Cooper and meandering along the Danforth between Greenwood and Coxwell, an area otherwise known as Upper Midway. All four of that weekend's walks were merrily packed with interested Danforth Easters and their kids and strollers.

Due to popular demand, Joe Cooper is back with another walk this Saturday. The two-hour tour, ”The Midway Meander,” will run THIS Sunday Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. starting at Greenwood Subway Station (front doors). But to keep the crowd manageable, they are asking interested folk to RSVP. Please email Catherine at "catherine_porter at rogers dot com" if you want to be added to the list, and put “The Midway Meander” in the subject line.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oh the times, they are a changin'

A few months ago, I mentioned that the National Post had written an article about how the area of Danforth between Greenwood and Coxwell is cleaning up thanks to a huge influx of Ethiopian immigrants. Now we have not only one, but TWO feature articles about said block: Toronto Star wrote a great piece yesterday about the birth of a new Little Ethiopia in our neck of the woods.
What I liked about the piece, was the sidebar explaining how to eat Ethiopian - it's a cheat sheet for the next time you bring your Great Aunt Sadie down for a night out on the strip!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Where in the World?

I opened up BlogTO.com today, only to find a familiar sight staring me in the face.

Only East Yorkers will know where this photo was taken:

http://bit.ly/8C5u8


The Wait Is Over (D60 Remix)

Photo courtesy of Tsar Kasim from the BlogTO flickr pool.

Idolization

Before I get started:

As a few people pointed out, I didn't clarify on Friday where exactly Toronto Honda is.....sorry!
The dealership is on Danforth, just east of Woodbine.

This week is a busy week for Danforth Easters. Not only do we have a neighbourhood historical walk coming up on the weekend (more on that later in the week), but we have the first inaugural edition of East Lynn Idol happening this Thursday evening during the Farmers' Market. If you were ever moved by the story of Paul Potts and his against-all-odds winning of Britain's Got Talent and thought that perhaps if given the chance you could win Canada's Got Talent, now is your chance. If you can sing, dance, juggle, throw basketballs through hoops of fire, do tricks with your hamster or whatever, the neighbourhood wants to see you! You can sign up at the DECA table at the market - weather permitting!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Best Deal Ever

My husband drives a 9 year old Honda Accord that is in relatively good condition solely because he is diligent about his oil changes and maintenance. This week, the odometer flagged us that it was time for another oil change so instead of heading to his backstreet mechanic in Markham, DH decided to give someone local a try (yay, he's finally getting into the spirit!).

He decided that the obvious choice would be to give Toronto Honda a chance. About half an hour in, I get an excited phone call: Because he is a first time customer, the oil change was FREE. Totally free, which is just about as close to heaven for the husband as he can get.

I emailed the owner Jordan Ison who clarified that this is true. First time customers to Toronto Honda who drive a Honda or Acura vehicle, will get a free oil change. With inclimate weather quickly approaching (I know, I know - don't remind us!), this is a great excuse to do your maintenance now before it's too late. Who can say no to a great deal like this?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Retail Detail

Inspired by my amazing street sale purchase (a full set of wicker lawn furniture for $75), I started thinking about other bargains that may abound on Danforth. Although it's not know to be the greatest shopping destination, there is much to discover outside of the world of perishable goods.

Here are two bargains I found, while walking the strip:

The dollar store beside TD Bank just east of Shoppers has the cutest Go Green shopping bags (pictured) for only $1.99. Way nicer looking than the PC shopping bags but much cheaper than other "designer" sacks from trendy shops in Greektown.


And for home decor style mavens: Don't let the name fool you. If you look below the eye-level window display at the nondescript store called Bonfanti Jewellry (1896 Danforth), you will see they have a gorgeous set of Royal Doulton china at 80% off (pictured). $211 for a 23 piece set is a ridiculous bargain. Mix this up with some colourful modern or vintage platters and serving bowls on a display shelf and you'll have a stunning vignette people will ogle over. I personally picked up a Bunnykins bowl and plate set for a very reasonable price.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shop the Block

I just saw a sign for the Monarch Park Street Sale happening this weekend. I'm SO excited. The sale takes place on Monarch Park between Sammon and Mortimer from 8 - noon. This could be a veritable treasure trove of kids toys and household goods, things I am in need of stocking up on. Sadly, I missed the south-of-Danforth version of this sale at the beginning of this summer.

For tips on buying thrifty garage sale items, check out another east-ender blog: The Grunge Queen.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Farmers' Market Tonight

Just a short post today to remind everyone that the Thursday night farmers' market at East Lynn Park is still going strong. In season are corn, zucchini, peaches and plums straight from the field to your table! Opens at 3pm.

And I know that I have written a ton of movie/film related posts in the past week, but I promise this is the last one: the outdoor movie that was supposed to happen at the market last week was rained out during the big storm, so it will be happening tonight at 8pm. If you bring your own bowl, it's half price on popcorn!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seeing Stars

As the city plunges headlong into the insanity of the film-festival-that-shall-not-be-named, I can guarantee that Danforth East will remain mostly untouched by the general madness of the September event - a safe haven from the paparazzi if you will. However, don't forget that there ARE over a hundred films running during the event so everyone must brush up on their cinema studies.

Hollywood Canteen can help you. I ventured into the Danforth East shop over the weekend to see what I could find. Originally I had gone in looking for movie posters for my rec room, but ended up perusing the thousands and thousands of movie books crammed onto shelves up to the ceiling. It is a veritable treasure trove for anyone even remotely interested in film.The first bio published on Heath Ledger is for sale, as is almost every single book written about Gone With The Wind, including an illustrated history which I picked up for $20.



You may have seen the Hurt Books rack out front. Keep in mind, you have to bypass the stamp collectors who are now taking up real-estate at the front of the store to get to the good stuff at the back, so don't be discouraged. They also do rentals which is great - no more driving down to the Film Buff in the Beach!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thai One On


There is not quite the profusion of Thai restaurants on Danforth East as you might find in other areas of Toronto, however, we do have some gems. Thai on Danforth has the fastest delivery around and a great lunch special to boot. Jean's Vegetarian is literally award winning and those living east of Woodbine sing the praises of Basil Thai Kitchen and their aromatic dishes.

As I was moseying down Danforth near Linsmore this past weekend, I was astonished to see a new Thai restaurant taking shape at 1266 Danforth right next to Jean's. The sign says the name will be Red Chilli Thai Restaurant - what I'm sure will be a welcome additon to the block. With a profusion of new restaurants opening on this stretch and noticeable improvements on behalf of existing businesses (anyone notice Sidewalk Cafe getting a facelift?!), looks like Danforth East is slowly regaining some of its former glory.

I peaked in the window of Red Chilli as the windows were uncovered and saw that it's still being pulled together, but holds the promise of being a warm and inviting place. Wicker tables and chairs and cozy decor can only go so far however. The food will have to withstand the test of local residents well versed in Thai cuisine!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Speaking of movies....

I have 2 double passes to give away for a film tonight at AMC Yonge & Dundas. The first two people to post a comment, each win a double pass.



The film is called The Boys. It's a Disney documentary about the two legendary brothers who pretty much wrote every single Disney score we know (Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, Aristocats etc.). The doc goes behind the scenes of the Hollywood magic factory and documents the bittersweet story - they worked together for years creating beautiful music but behind closed doors they were two brothers who didn't get along. It's a really great film (I got to see a sneak preview a few weeks ago!). I think anyone out there who likes music will love it!


Here's a link to the trailer.

And yes, that's the set of Mary Poppins in the photo......

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Silver Moon, Silver Screen

There's something to be said for watching a movie outdoors, camping under the stars on a blanket with your favourite snacks. I hate to flog the "recessionista" term again, but a lot of venues around the city have hosted free outdoor movie nights this summer (Dundas Square, the Drake Hotel drive-in etc), which I think is a response to the so called "tightening of the economic belt" we've all been feeling.

As usual, the Danforth East Community Association is right on target with their community events. This Thursday they are holding their own free outdoor screening at East Lynn park, immediately following the Farmers' Market.

Snuggle with your honey (or your kids) and settle down for a screening of Madagascar 2 at 8:00 pm. If you bring your own bowl or cup, freshly popped popcorn is half price. 

With temperatures in the heavenly zone, it promises to be a wonderful night for some movie magic!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get Canned for Winter



This photo reminded me that there was once a time on Danforth East when women and men were genteel and did things like drink tea in the afternoon, prune rosebushes and eat dinner together as a family (sans television). Life was simpler, and a jar of peaches in the winter would have been a delicacy the whole family would savour. In our fast paced world of iPhone gizmos, instant access to goods and take-out food 24/7, we buy jars of Del Monte fruit in air-conditioned supermarkets - even in the middle of summer.

Although some of these things are cool, the simple art of canning fruit and vegetables has been lost. But fear not, the East Toronto Climate Action Group is hosting a canning workshop right in the 'hood, on Monday night at the Danforth Mennonite Church at 2174 Danforth Avenue at 7:30 p.m. The fruit of choice: Peaches, Pears and Blueberries.

SO.....head on over to the East Lynn Farmers' Market tonight and get some of the freshest peaches you can (they're perfectly in season today!) and sign up for this workshop on Monday. You can RSVP to Mary-Margaret McMahon at 416-693-9276 spargy@rogers.com.

You will thank me in January!!

P.S. The photo is of Monarch Park, June 1921. Courtesy of the Toronto Archives.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ward 32 In the News

Just thought I would share: I came across this news item on Friday (Danforth East Councillor wins legal support from city http://ow.ly/jnjq), announcing that Toronto council has voted to help our local city councillor Sandra Bussin finance a libel suite against a local publication called Ward 32 News.

Here is the link to the Ward 32 News website, but it doesn't look like a legitimate news source, as you will see......

Monday, August 10, 2009

Million dollar smile

A few years ago, a revolution took place. Not the type of revolution that would usually come to mind. This revolution involves teeth.....clean teeth. Someone, somewhere dreamed of a world where dental hygiene and dentists don't have to be BFF's.

The love child of this so-called divorce is Impressions The Dental Hygiene Spa on Danforth - the very first dental hygiene spa in Toronto (and perhaps Canada).

The reason I'm waxing poetic about dental treatments is because they have just celebrated their first anniversary. Pretty exceptional for a new business on Danforth. Apparently, they've been packed since day one. For me, the draw was the complimentary spa treatments I got while I was getting a cleaning - the paraffin wax hand treatment was divine.

There are some great deals to be had as part of their 1 year celebration, in particular a FULL tube of toothpaste if you book an examination in August or September.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Corn Is As High, As An Elephants Eye

I got the inside scoop on something that I felt I should let everyone know about: there will be delicious sweet corn tonight, fresh from the farm, at the East Lynn farmers' market.

Since I've had such a hard time finding corn at our big mega-markets, this is music to my ears.

The corn is picked by the smiley Gary & Harry of Godelie Farms in Otterville at 6 am (too early for me to go corn pickin' so thank goodness they're up!) and it's on your table for dinner. Doesn’t get any fresher than that!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Enfant francaise, s'il vous plait!

J'adore francaise....but it is très mal that I know so very little of it. That is why I have sworn up and down that I will teach my kids French, as tiny members of a bilingual country. Being a new mom on Danforth East, I have realized that this is a sentiment that many of us moms share. That is why I was delighted to hear about a free musical theatre performance at S. Walter Stewart library this Thursday afternoon.

The performer is Grace Morrison and the entire show will be in French - it sounds like it is geared towards older kids, but I don't think its too early to let the little ones soak up the sounds of the continent via passive observation.

The show is from 2:00 - 3:00. For more information and/or registration, you can call the branch at 416-396-3975, s'il vous plait!

And here is a map to the library, thanks to this new handy dandy application called Google Web Elements:



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Ode To Danforth


Earlier this year, I happened across an East York literary cameo in Vincent Lam's book Bloodletting and Miracle Cures. It turns out that we are also rap stars. Toronto rapper Abdominal has a secret crush on Danforth. You can see here, at about 2:40, a cameo appearance of neighbourhood store Comics & More in his video called T-Ode.

On that note, I decided to make a visit to said establishment and see just why people love this quiet, non-obtrusive comic store wedged between Greenwood/Danforth and Little Ethiopia.

What I discovered is that Comics & More not only has graphic novels (the politically correct grown-up term for comics) but also stocks books on art and drawing, board games, travel games, posters, action figures and other interesting items.

Owner/manager Rob, who is literally the comic book guy from the Simpsons (minus the attitude and the greasy ponytail), has been supplying fans across Toronto for nearly 20 years. He's super smart about comics (check out his blog) and fun to talk to. I wouldn't say that the store is a rival to the Silver Snail on Queen, which is larger and WAY more intense. It's laid back, in an east end kind of way, which is why I like it.

I had my eye on the $1 comic bins, a collection of vintage comics in a variety of themes - a great source for fun pop-art framed on the wall of a kids room. So you see, there is something for everyone, not just the comic-con crowd!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Danforth East gets its own Lalibela


For many years, I have heard my hipster Annex friends rave about the Ethiopian joint called Lalibela on Bloor (www.lalibelaethiopianrestaurant.com). Chowhounders pontificate on whether it is, infact, the best Ethiopian in the city.

Here on Danforth East, we have many an Ethiopian joint to choose from: Rendevous, Djerba, etc. so one would think that we've reached critical mass. However, my heart leapt with joy yesterday when I saw a new sign had gone up at what was once Tiny Thai Kitchen. It read Lalibela Restaurant and Opening Soon. Could this be a branch of the original Lalibela? I crossed my fingers and tried the door, as I couldn't resist doing some culinary sleuthing.

Luckily it was open and I had a chance to talk to Asres, the manager, who confirmed that yes indeed, this restaurant is being launched by the very same people who run Lalibela on Bloor. They are hoping to open next Thursday. Although the restaurant was in shambles, I noticed some very very comfortable banquette seating being assembled - already a step up from Rendevous' cafe tables. I can't wait to try it out....will their injera be as delicious as everyone says it is?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting away to Danforth

In step with the upcoming long weekend, I got to thinking about mini-getaways. What I've just recently realized, is that a getaway doesn't necessarily have to be a weekend trip to the Muskokas. A getaway can happen in the space of an hour - if only a mental getaway.

Although the weather has not exactly been up to par this month, there have been a few moments of blissfully uncloudy days where I've had the chance to hit up a neighbourhood patio for a lunchtime getaway. An escape into a great salad and glass of pinot with a great magazine can rejuvinate even the most overworked, BB obsessed workaholic.

Most recently, I hit up Melanie's Bistro (on Danforth at Glebemount) for some patio time and it was delightful. Sitting in the sun, and relaxing with a magazine was just what the doctor ordered. I scarfed down one of their famous Tandoori Wraps which just melted in my mouth. Simply delicious. As I headed back to the office, I felt like I had been on a vacation - even if it was only for an hour!

Here is the Toronto Life write up about Melanie's. Just as a side note, Melanie's does a great "salmon eggs benny" as well, so you don't even have to leave the neighbourhood for Sunday brunch. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Wednesday again and you know what that means!

Don't let the weather dissuade you, if you had any inclination to attend another episode of tonight's Jazz In The Park. Head over to the Coxwell Parkette if only for another serving of Three's Company's amazing pulled pork sandwiches - one of the best I've ever had and for $4 it's a real steal. Surprising what those gals can whip up with a slow cooker!

Of course, the music will be great as well. Tonight's group is called the Steve Koven Trio. You don't want to miss this! Formed in 1993, the trio is one of Canada's pre-eminent jazz trios. They've performed world-wide and have released seven critically acclaimed albums. Here's what CBC has to say about Steve:

"Astronomers and religious mystics can endlessly ponder the big question: can something come from nothing? Or, they can attend a Steve Koven concert. There, they can listen and watch as Koven explores the piano, inside and out, from the 88 keys to the strings under the hood." (Amanda Putz, CBC Radio)

Really, this can't be a hard sell - pulled pork and music that will make you see stars...hmmmmm....

Click here to listen to an mp3 of their latest!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crew Cut

One thing I know about Danforth East is that we are obsessed with our parks. Nary a day goes by that East Lynn, Monarch or any of the other green spaces aren't filled to the brim with people, kids, dogs, strollers and bikes.

Since the strike started, our neighbourhood parks aren't that fun to hang out in - the grass is getting long, garbage isn't being picked up and they're starting to look a little forlorn. As well, the streets out front of the parks are becoming derelict (I know, strong word but it's true!).

A group of good samaritan neighbourhood folk are coming to the rescue and have organized a neighbourhood cleanup of East Lynn Park and the Danforth area around the park. Mowers will be brought, garbage will be tossed and order will be atleast partially restored.

They are asking for people to come on down and chip in - the more hands, the lighter the work, right? Wednesday, July 22 from 6:30 - 8pm.

Seriously, even coming down and picking up a few pieces of garbage won't ruin your manicure!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grab Your Partner


Whether or not you’re a two-step Tommy or a swingin’ Sally, the square dance madness happening tonight at East Lynn Park Farmers’ Market is sure to get everyone’s feet a stompin’.  For the first time ever, the grassy knoll on Danforth will turn into a rollicking family dance party - probably the only urban square dance in the city of Toronto.

Starting at 5:00pm, market visitors and neighbours alike can throw their straw hats into the ring and have some good old fashioned family fun. Don't worry if you don't know the steps, the caller accompanying the band will be calling out the steps just like at a real square dance. So grab your partner (or kid) and swing her around - around the lawn, that is!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mystery Solved!

One of the hottest debates in the east end blogosphere was the mystery behind what was opening in the storefront at 2035 Danforth. After much speculation here, I finally had a chance to stop by the site (which is still under construction) and get the scoop.

A shiny new sign has gone up announcing that the store's name will be Better Bulk.

At long last, Danforth East will have its very own bulk and health foods store carrying everything from natural baby products and enviro friendly necessities to organic whole foods and [obviously] bulk/dried goods. We can rejoice: No more long walks to The Carrot!

While speaking to the owners, they mentioned that they are both earth conscious consumers and stressed that one of the mandates of the store is to eliminate consumable waste such as unneccesary packaging - so make sure to bring your own bags and containers when visiting the shop.

They are hoping to have the store open by July 22nd, so swing by and check out what is sure to be the hottest new store on the block. And keep your eyes peeled - a 10% off coupon is coming to your mailboxes!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Art Park


East Lynn Park does double duty these days as not only a great park, but a community gathering place and shopping destination every Thursday. However, not everyone is satisfied with perusing for only fruits and veggies. To that end, this September the park will host the very first Danforth East Arts Fair - an arts and crafts extravaganza featuring some of the best local artists our neighbourhood (and beyond) has to offer.

The arts fair hits the pavement on September 19th and 20th but organizers are still looking for more artisans to ensure it's a success.

If you're gifted in the creativity department and want to be involved, the application can be found at www.danfortheast.ca. The final application deadline is July 31, 2009.

Just as a side note: The show is another initiative by the Danforth East Community Association (yay! DECA) who brings us our awesome farmers' market and other fun projects!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Play It again, Sam (or Brian)

There's a place I go, where everyone knows my name.....but it's not called Cheers. It's called the Last Drop Cafe and if you haven't been in yet, you are missing out. All menu items are served with two massive smiles from owners (and sisters) Paula and Marie who remember not only everyone's drink specialty but also their names.

In a bid to extend the fun at the cafe into the evening hours, they are hosting an accoustic music night this Friday, July 10th with local musician Brian Passmore. They are fully licenced with beers and a small, but excellent selection of wine. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be 27 and sunny, so if you're in the mood for a patio and some music, this is the place to be!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The weather gods were smiling on the Danforth last Wednesday (Canada Day) when the first Jazz In The Park premiered under a sunny sky. It was an amazing feat: pulling off a local jazz event during a municipal strike and under the threat of rain. But the neighbourhood sure loved it. Danforth Easters turned up in droves to eat some snacks from Three's Company and listen to some Autorickshaw. Kids and dogs frolicked while Maria Minna passed out flags in honour of our country's birthday. There couldn't have been a better event! (big thanks to the Danforth Mosaic BIA)

Tonight is part two in the Jazz in the Park series and features Terra Hazelton Quartet, a well-known local jazz group. Let's hope the weather holds out!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Crime Watch


Police Academy #4: Citizens on Patrol is perhaps one of my favourite movies - a classic even now as much as it was in the late 1980's. However, even though Tackleberry's aviator shades are the coolest, I wouldn't say that I fancy myself a renegade crime fighter. Down at 55 Division, they are hoping the same thing. At a recent BIA meeting, I had the privilege to meet Sam Fernandes, Superintendent down at 55 Division, and he opened up a whole new world of neighbourhood watch to me.

The conversation started with graffiti (Sam happened to mention that their graffiti analysis of Danforth East shows that it is not gang related which is a really great thing) and ended with a discussion about broken car windows. The jist of it is that when your car window gets broken or your mailbox vandalised a) don't look for your closest baseball bat and b) don't call 9-1-1 unless your life is being threatened. The emergency response team will most likely not get to you because although these are traumatic things, murders and theivery are higher up on the red alert list.

However, all is not in vain. Sam urges people to call 416-808-5500 which is the front desk down at 55 Division to report these issues. You may not get a flat foot at your door pronto, but someone will follow-up with you. Although they won't be able to replace your window, they want to know about these instances of petty crime so that they can put it in a database and analyze larger patterns. He also urges people who are paint brush happy to lay off cleaning up the graffiti until the police have had a chance to photograph it (but please, call and report it!).

And just to be clear - this is only in the case of minor infractions. If you've been robbed or attacked or your cat is stuck up in a tree, definitely call 9-1-1!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Confirmed!

As I was mosey-ing by the corner of Greenwood and Danforth today, I finally got up the guts to ask the construction crew what they're building on the south east corner. It has been the question of the day at neighbourhood cocktail soirees and book clubs. Mostly everyone has heard the rumour that they are building a gas station there, and now those rumours have been confirmed. There will be an ESSO gas station and a Tim Horton's. Essentially, this is good for those unfortunate souls who have to drive to work (sorry, but a daily smoggy commute on the DVP is my nightmare). It's not the greatest news for the neighbourhood - increased traffic will make getting to the Beer Store just a bit tougher - but if you look at the glass half full, this is another step in the right direction towards cleaning up our little part of the world.

Also close to home: The National Post wrote a great piece on Friday about the strip of Danforth between Linsmore and Monarch Park which is apparently now being called Little Ethiopia. Here is the link for anyone interested:
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2009/07/02/little-ethiopia-story-goes-here.aspx.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Schools Out For Summer....(but not forever)

Summer vacation has just started and your little monsters are driving you crazy already. What to do with them? Zoo...too far. Beach...too hot. Art camp....hmmmm, that sounds like a great idea. If you're thinking what I'm thinking then you're definitely living in the right neighbourhood.

For the budding "artista" in your life, there are two options to choose from that are close to home:

Lucsculpture, at the corner of Greenwood and Danforth, is offering full-day or half-day summer art camp for kids 6 - 13. They have a full schedule of things like Batik painting (how adorable!!), drumming circles, clay fun (of course) and paper-mache hats. It's a little pricier than Toronto run daycamps - but they aren't on strike. A bonus: Luc can run the classes "en francais" - don't people always say that the french are more creative anyway?

Your Jr. Danforther can also partake in some mosaic magic at Mosaic Beach Studio's summer kids classes. Although flying shards of glass may not seem like the most child proof idea, owner Tanya Macfarlane assures me that it is all safe. There are afternoon classes three times a week where the kiddies will make things like flower pots and picture frames you can adorn your living room with. More information here.

Alternately, you can just turn on the sprinkler in the backyard and hope for the best.......

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Green Shopping

Fact: Bamboo is one of the most diverse materials on the planet and is the fastest growing woody plant in the world - I should know, I had an insidious bamboo plant in my backyard which took months of digging to remove. It's used for everything from wood to paper to food and (surprise) for clothing. Like a magic plant, Bamboo fibers can be spun into a natural textile that is ultra soft, breathable, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-static.

DoBamboo.com is a Canadian online retailer that specializes in textiles made of bamboo. Owner John Elias has been selling everything from t-shirts to towels since 2006 but the new shop opening today on Coxwell at Danforth (two doors north of the Subway) will be his first storefront. The store will be stocking merchandise already available on the site. About 40% of the products are made in Canada so this is a no-brainer double whammy - shop green and shop local.

I've got my eye on the fitted bamboo t-shirts, which because of bamboo's natural micro-gaps & micro-holes absorb and evaporate moisture as efficiently as a Dry-Fit shirt might. A bargain at only $20, women's styles come in 5 colours and men's in 10.

The grand opening is today so stop by and welcome John to the neighbourhood. Store hours are 11 - 7 Tuesday to Friday, 10 - 6 Saturday and Sunday 12 - 5.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Dominion Day!

Once upon a time, we were a colony of the British but on May 22, 1867 we became Canada and that year we celebrated our first "Dominion Day" celebration. The name may have changed to Canada Day, but we're still celebrating the same way.

I found this archival photo of Riverdale Park on Dominion Day 1952. Nice to remember that Riverdale Park was once a parade ground....


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