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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You can have your cake....

Just in case no-one has noticed, Pioneer would like to highlight that the corner of Woodbine and Danforth is slowly becoming the baked goods epicentre of Danforth East.

When did this transition begin? Well, True Brew Cafe and its delectable soups, muffins and comfort food was the first to break culinary ground (I know...relish was there first, but we're talking baking not tapas). Then the addition of Celena's Bakery last year brought fresh bread back to the neighbourhood at long last, and Cozy Cafe's baklava cannot be ignore.

The new kid on the block is a place called Caketown, which opened a few months ago in the space next to Better Bulk (just west of Woodbine). Pioneer finally had the chance to check it out last week, and we must say, it was love at first sight. The merry holiday window display and cozy atmosphere drew us right in, out of the cold, for a hot coffee and a buttery shortbread cookie. Relaxing with a newspaper on their comfy couches was almost too tempting - we could have stayed there all day!

A bonus for all you gourmands: a selection of homemade jams and jellies are on sale,  including a red pepper jelly that we know will go great with some goat cheese and crackers.

And.....If you are in the mood for cupcakes, the Caketown cupcakes are the cream of the crop and much better than that other cupcake shop that shall remain nameless. A recent delivery of some of these gems to Pioneer headquarters confirmed that it really is difficult to limit yourself to only one of Caketown's holiday themed confections!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gledhill School Silent Auction

Tis the season for giving to great causes, and what could be a better cause than helping out a local school!

Gledhill PS is hosting a silent auction tomorrow night (Thursday Dec 9th) from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Proceeds go to extracurricular programs for the kids.

There is an amazing list of things to bid on such as Raptors and Leafs tickets, Fine Silver Girl jewelry, the chance to shadow a Toronto Star journalist for a day (Oh!! me, me!!) plus about 200 more fun and fabulous items. 

It's a $2 entry fee or a canned good for the food bank.

Side note: Because this is a licensed event, it's limited to those over 19.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Christmas shopping season has officially begun and pop-up shops are all the rage this year. Danforth East is officially on-trend, with this weekend's upcoming TykeThreads.com pop-up shop, which Pioneer knows will be all the rage with new moms in the neighbourhood.

The sale runs this weekend and has everything from jerseys to Morgan and Milo trainers, your little man will look dashing while dashing through the snow! The location is at 1390 Danforth, which is the north-west corner of Danforth and Monarch Park.

The sale is cash only.

November 27-29, 10am-7pm
Where: 1390 Danforth Ave.
More info: 416-937-7191

Friday, November 5, 2010

Free Fitness!

Nothing gets people excited like something that is free, and so all you east-enders better get excited about this deal:

Pegasus Studios, the best dance/fitness studio in our neighbourhood, is offering some free introductory classes next week for their "Free Fitness Week".

Check out the schedule and registration details here:
http://www.pegasusdance.com/

All lit up

If you didn't happen to see East Lynn Park at dusk this past Monday evening, you missed a highlight of the year: the DECA Pumpkin Parade.

Hundreds of pumpkins lined the walkway and the swimming pool, their beautiful and sometimes gruesome faces lit up with flickering candlelight. It was really breathtaking to see - and this was combined with the energy of hundreds of community members strolling along and checking out the artwork of their neighbours. It was a great evening to be on Danforth East!

In case you missed it, here are some images courtesy of Natasha Granatstein and DECA:



Monday, November 1, 2010

Delish Dish


It's been awhile since Pioneer has been able to post a restaurant review - even though eating (and eating 'out') could be considered one of our "hobbies".

It was girls night this past weekend, and since staying in the 'hood' is always preferred, we found ourselves at relish bar and grill on Danforth. While Pioneer missed the actual dinner portion of the evening, the leading ladies I was with declared the tapas to be 'totally delish'. With perfect timing, my arrival on the scene coincided with the next bottle of wine being opened and the cheese plate being ordered.

The restaurant itself has a comfortable, cozy atmosphere - so cozy, that our neighboring table was slightly amused as Pioneer sporadically yelled out the CFL scores. The staff was also quick and friendly, considering that it was a Friday and every table was occupied.

The highlight of the evening was perhaps the finest martini that we have ever tasted on Danforth - and even beyond. While we've since forgotten the name, the pomegranate and prosecco concoction was to die for.

So next time it's ladies night (or date night!), look no further than Woodbine and Danforth for some mouth-watering tapas, savoury cheese and only a short walk home!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A butcher, a baker....

While well on it's way to being a modern neighbourhood, Danforth East still has those original hallmarks of what makes a great community: a butcher for fresh meat, a baker for fresh bread and although we do not have a candlemaker, we do have an honest-to-goodness cobbler.

Located at the north-east corner of Monarch Park and Danforth, you may recognize this non-descript shoe repair shop as the window with all the old shoes piled up in it (right next to Sam's barber shop). It's musty and small, and a throwback to an early era on Danforth, but well worth checking it out.

The other day, Pioneer dropped off a pair of high-heeled boots that were potentially broken beyond repair. We could have hugged the gentleman behind the counter, who gave us a positive shoe diagnoses: our precious footwear had a broken shank and for $20 he would replace it and give the boots new rubber soles as well.

Although it took a week to get them back, when I did have them in hand, they were fixed to perfection with no sign of any tampering. Pioneer gives this one a big thumbs up for local footwear repair and for deals you don't have to leave the neighbourhood for!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Parade Of Lights

Firstly, congratulations to new Danforth East councillors Mary Margaret McMahon (Ward32) and Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29).  Encumbents Janet Davis (Ward 31) and Paula Fletcher (Ward 30) both remain on council to continue their good work. Both of the latter have worked hard to shape the new Danforth East, and it will be exciting to see what this group of four passionate women will be able to do for our 'hood in the upcoming term.

And this just in from DECA:

It’s the day after Halloween and the costumes have been put away, the makeup has been stashed, now what do you do with your beautiful, hand-carved jack-o-lantern? Don’t throw it away. Bring it to East Lynn Park and join the Danforth East Community Association for the first annual Pumpkin Parade on November 1st at 6:30 p.m.

At dusk, the park will be lined with beautiful candle-lit pumpkins for everyone to enjoy.

DECA is asking participants to bring their own candles with them. DECA volunteers will be on hand to assist in lighting the pumpkins.

Participants will be able to leave their pumpkins at East Lynn Park to be collected by the City of Toronto.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hot Debate

Last night was a hot night in the east end. Wards 30 and 32 held an all-candidates debate, both of which were packed with east-enders prepped to ask only the most contentious questions. East End Pioneer can't possibly stay non-partisan in this race, so rather than give a blow by blow, I will direct all of you to twitter, where you can read the live-tweeting that happened throughout both debates by some of our passionate local residents.

For Ward 32, you can check out:

@porterthereport (www.twitter.com/porterthereport)
@robedits
@mytowncrier (www.twitter.com/mytowncrier)

For Ward 30, you can check out:

@Diane_Dyson

Enjoy!

Sarah

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Comeback Post

East End Pioneer was on an extended summer vacation for the past few months, but there is just so much going on in the neighbourhood, that we couldn't resist some new posts.

First and foremost, election day is coming up and the neighbourhood is buzzing. Danforth East covers four wards: 29, 30, 31 and 32. Check out www.insidetorontovotes.ca for more info on which ward you are in. For those in Ward 32, one of the most contested wards in the city, there is an all candidates debate tomorrow night (Tuesday, October 19) at Kimbourne Park United Church at 7 p.m. Incumbent councillor Bussin will defend her reigning title, on a variety of issues.

Secondly, over on Deca Diaries, another Danforth Gem has been uncovered. Please click here to read the great review of new Emerald Restaurant at Danforth and Woodbine, which apparently has "the best" chicken tikka masala this side of Gerrard.

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Farmers' Market here at last

Well, tonight's the night. Finally. It's here at last. After month's of waiting, today at 4:30 the East Lynn Park Farmers' Market is open for the Summer 2010 season!

What's in season now? According to www.eattheseasons.com, we can look forward to fresh and local arugula, asparagus, radishes, zucchini, followed in the weeks to come by cherries, plums and strawberries!

Lots of great things happening at the market this year - including the return of the cheese lady Ruth Klassen.Who doesn't love cheese??

See you there tonight and don't forget your reusable shopping bags!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to Legacy Indoor Cycling

When I first saw the sign that a spinning studio was opening at Coxwell and Danforth, that song "Looks like we made it" started playing in my head. Why? Because a good sign of a passionate and healthy community is a fitness facility.

I wasn't sure if Legacy Indoor Cycling, at 1506 Danforth, was going to last, but due to the perseverance of it's owner Andy Drakopolous, it has just celebrated its first birthday.

I had the honour of attending the VIP celebration at Legacy on Saturday night, and had a tete-a-tete with Andy who instead of talking about himself, beamed about his students.

"Through our tri-annual weight loss challenges, Legacy attendees lost over 500 lbs. in the past year, which is so great," he said. "I've seen a transformation on the Danforth and it's inspiring. Everyone works really hard and I'm so proud of them."

Andy lives on the "other Danforth" but that's okay, because he's helping OUR Danforth be a vibrant, walkable and safe community. Happy Birthday Legacy and here's to another year of success!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hot Times, Summer in The City

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a private Muskoka getaway to escape to when the mercury soars, so if you are stuck soaking up the rays "turtle-pool"-side rather than dock-side, this Saturday is jam-packed with happenings on Danforth East.

Doors Open Toronto runs this Saturday and Sunday, and the best news for this Pioneer is that the Greenwood and Danforth TTC train yard will be open to the public on Saturday afternoon. This is exciting, because as most people know, kids love trains, so there really is no better way to enjoy a Saturday morning than brunch at Sarah's or Ten Feet Tall (take that, cottage country!!) followed by a backstage pass to a "subterranean locomotion" repair shop. For history buffs, I have it on good authority (okay, from Joe Cooper at the Mirror) that the very same site was a quarry that served as a labour camp for German POW's during WW2. Danforth East is like an onion: peel back the layers and you never know what you'll find!

Also on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. is the annual Earl Beatty Fun Fair which offers fun and games for kids, a marketplace and silent auction for parents and general fun and mayhem all around! See flyer below.

And don't forget: many homes on Danforth East will be holding a Yard Sale for the Cure (all proceeds go to Breast Cancer research), so get out on your bike early for all the best deals! Hint: good stuff to be found on Milverton, just west of Monarch Park!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How does your garden grow?

When it comes to having a green thumb, yours truly has two thumbs. Sort of like how I've never been able to bake a cake, I've also never really been able to keep plants alive. However, now that I've got a little piece of land to call my own, I think that it's time to start getting into the gardening groove.

Although this past Saturday morning was drizzly and grey, I decided to head on over to the new Reeves Garden Centre at 999 Danforth Ave (at Donlands) to pick up some shrubs and easy-to-keep-alive plants.

Perusing the aisles of flowers, I was a little overwhelmed by the great selection, but a friendly pink-shirted gardening ambassador was only too eager to assist a bumbling newbie gardener. She took the time to explain to me how to plant shrubs and what grows best in shade (luckily, Hydrangea is my favourite flower!).

Although parking and getting the plants to the car was dicey (scurrying across Danforth with potted plants is not easy on a Saturday morning), it seemed that there was no shortage of "helpers" at the front entrance to assist with loading and unloading. As an added bonus, my new Reeves' "client card" gives me cash points every time I purchase something, which means that if I kill my plants, it won't hurt the wallet quite so much!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The 'meat' of it all

It's Friday night and DH and I have spent the last few days working on rebuilding our front porch, since the old one was starting to rot and was just plain old ugly. This means that I've neglected all other wifely duties such as grocery shopping and cooking. There is a celebratory mood in the air, however, and not just on our driveway!

The excitement is palpable all over the city that a) it's the Friday of a long weekend and b) it's "shorts" weather finally - we can at long-last throw off the shackles of winter!!

That means that it's officially BBQ weather, which solves the dilemma of what to cook for dinner. However, I am now going to have to share my secret with you, one that I've been holding on to since I moved into the neighbourhood: Jerry's Supermarket at Monarch Park and Danforth sells enormous $1.99 marinated beef and chicken shishkabobs that are better than any meat skewer item that I've ever bought elsewhere.

Throw in a loaf of bread from North Pole bakery and some [local] asparagus, and DH and I can eat like kings for under $10.

So if you see the strange site of two adults having a picnic dinner tonight on their driveway and staring lovingly at their new porch, that will be us!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Danforth East debut on the small screen

Cool news of the day:
Did anyone catch CBS filming at the Bus Terminal restaurant yesterday afternoon?
I missed it, but I bet we'll all be keeping an eye out for the 'Flashpoint' episode to air on CTV, which will be featuring our lovely breakfast joint in one of their crime scene investigations!

Fish Tales:
On another note, thank you to all the readers who suggested Happy Sushi.
They are amazing! Although the salad was downright soggy, the rolls were huge and delicious. Fresh tuna was the special of the day, and it was excellent. DH was over-the-moon, which is all I can ask for.

Treat of the week:
I swung by the new bakery at Woodbine and Danforth last week, the one with the old sign saying "Coffee, Coffee". I don't know how to express my delight, but let me just say that the powdered shortbread cookie I bought for junior pioneer and myself to share (yes, I let my kid have cookies before dinner, ha!) was the best I've EVER had in my life. Melt in your mouth sweetness, moist and soft, with the perfect amount of powered sugar as icing. My vote for treat of the week!

The baklava in the photo below was also divine: not too much chocolate, and not too sweet....perfect!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bike Lane Survey

The debate heats up, city wide, over bike lanes. Here's a recent heartbreaking Toronto Star item:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/808941--cyclists-crushed-by-councillor-s-mis-vote?bn=1

Just a reminder to cast your vote on the East End Pioneer poll, for or against bike lanes along Danforth East!

Monday, May 10, 2010

To Bike or Not To Bike?

The City of Toronto's suggestion that they are putting bike lanes across Danforth East has become a complicated issue for many of our community stakeholders. We are a strong cycling community and if you've ever walked the Danforth between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. you will be witness to the legions of people who use Danforth Ave. as a main artery for commuting by bike. However, by limiting parking on a major thoroughfare, the BIA feels that the city could essentially be cutting off access to small businesses along the strip.

What do you think? Should Danforth East have bike lanes? Choose yes or no in the poll on the right hand side of the page.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bombay Calling

The other night I had an opportunity to go out for dinner sans junior pioneer. It was an exciting prospect, the world was our oyster. In a city the size of Toronto, we could have gone anywhere we wanted without having to worry about whether the resto was accessorized with high chairs. However, in typical Pioneer fashion, DH had a craving for Indian so we ended up staying local (no matter how hard I try to get away I always find amazing options close to home).

I always forget how close we are to Little India. It really is a stone's throw from Danforth East and there are some really great dining spots to choose from. My neighbours favour Siddartha (vegetarian) but we decided to hit up the Famous, a spot we often order take out from. We were a little dissappointed in the selection at the buffet, but the food was edible and we were hungry. I'll probably try something else next time, like the new The Five Spices - featuring Hakka cuisine (Indian Chinese dishes).  Check out the review at sweetspot.ca here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday East End Pioneer!

One year ago, I posted the very first item on East End Pioneer. When I devised this blog, I thought that I would be lucky if my family and a handful of friends subscribed, but to my great surprise, lots of people like to read about the "other Danforth".

THANK YOU, dear readers! You inspire me to be a better writer and to actually write about things that are relevant to our neighbourhood.

Another thing that I wanted to mention is that by writing this blog, I discovered that Danforth East does truly rock. I know that may not be the most literary of descriptions, but it's true. From vibrant restaurants to new business owners taking a leap of faith on our strip to a wide network of creative dreamers and visionaries, there is a golden energy that exists between Greenwood and Westlake. We are all part of the vanguard in a new era on Danforth East, an era that promises a future of community building and prosperity, whether that be material or spiritual. And aren't we lucky!

My lofty goals for year two include more photos, more gossip and more interviews with interesting people, including some candidates for city councillor and two guys who make musical instruments from cigar boxes.

Stay tuned for more fun and adventure with East End Pioneer and Happy Trails!!


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My One & Only

Much to my dismay, my usual Saturday morning destination Three's Company Two has changed their hours. Since we're up early with junior pioneer, on weekends we sweeten the sting of no sleep-in's by heading out somewhere for bagels and coffee. This weekend, we discovered that they won't open now on Saturday's until 9 a.m.

Unfortunately, it was only 7:45. With junior pioneer screaming "muffin, muffin" over and over again, we needed to find somewhere to eat and find it fast. A friend had mentioned the One cafe over at Donlands (adjacent to The Only) as a great place for coffee and we decided to check it out.

Bingo! They were open and there was a plethora of comfy seating options, including shabby chic armchairs and a retro couch that the little one clambered all over. Check mark on the delicious muffins and check mark on the fast, friendly service. It's a little outside of the Danforth East zone, but definitely worth the trip. At some point, I'll have to actually sit down for brunch at the Only, since it comes highly recommended!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Fresh Face

I was invited to help out at the Danforth Mosaic BIA Spring Cleanup on Saturday and I'm so glad that I said yes. The event was such a success and it was so great to see our community out on the streets, cleaning up our neighbourhood. This wasn't the only cleanup - all along the strip, from Broadview to Danforth Village, people were out picking up trash, painting and cleaning up graffiti. What a sight for sore eyes!

I also had the chance to meet Jennifer Wood, a candidate in the running for Ward 29 councillor (taking over from Case Ootes). She had a team of young constituents tagging along with brooms as they "party hopped" along Danforth from one cleanup to the next. I hope this means that she's committed to a clean and walkable community on this end of the Ward....

The event at Coxwell parkette ended with free hotdogs and juice - cooked up by our boys in blue who were also out helping clean-up the hood. All in all, I'd say there were probably about 30 bags of garbage collected from one or two blocks east and west of Coxwell. A small step towards giving the 'hood a fresh face for spring!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is this place?

Once upon a time, there was a bus station on the north east corner of Coxwell and Danforth, a department store at Woodbine and a Danforth Ave. streetcar. Once upon a time, our neighbourhood was genteel, and stylish women glided down the wide boulevards of Danforth East doing shopping and running errands. How life has changed here.

Art of the Danforth, a week long public art walk between Greenwood and Woodbine, re-images parts of our fading facade with an art installation displaying pieces from both Toronto artists and the collective conscious of community members exploring who we are, where we came from and what our community looks like now.

Organizer Cindy Rozeboom says: "This is going to be a great way to celebrate our neighbourhood and help build community pride" and I agree.

The art walk kicks off this Friday. Check out www.artofthedanforth.com for more info.

If you've got little ones, head over to East Lynn park on Sunday for the DECA Make A Joyful Noise Family Parade at 11:00 a.m. (also part of Art of the Danforth). Check out DECA Diaries for more info. 

For a nice read, here is a story the Mirror wrote on the event:
http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/local/article/802203--creativity-set-to-bloom-along-the-danforth

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Wood-n't It Be Nice....

Pioneer readers may recall from previous musings that my life on Danforth East should be subtitled "This Old House". A common refrain from many of you I'm sure, who have embraced the challenge of a century old home. While it drives DH a little crazy, yours truly loves to find weekend projects so in the spirit of spring, this past weekend Pioneer tackled some hefty power tools.

Our backyard had a makeover last summer - ok, it was more like reconstructive surgery - but the rear fence/trellis structure was essentially just a decaying causeway for wayward raccoons, so down it came.

In the process of building the most beautiful trellis in the world - yes, I can now use "nailing strip" and "mitre saw" in the same sentence - I discovered a local gem!

Home Depot is great for many things, but if you're looking for customer service, Danforth Lumber on Dawes is a great alternative if you want that "local hardware" store feel. DH likes their bulk bin section - if you're in the mood for steel that is. Buying nails in bulk is kind of retro cool. And before I had even really finished scooping, the guy behind the counter had already calculated the cost on a half pound of 3" nails.

Essentially, instead of perusing long aisles of lumber put on display by marketing geniuses, you put your  order in at the counter, then head out to the yard and the guys get it for you. They'll even put it in your car for you!

Now, if only I could buy shoes this way.....

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Takeout Tribulations

A lot of my posts on this site have to do with food, which is funny because I don't eat out very often (house poor, anyone??), although I still cling to the experience as a last vestige of being a D.I.N.K. - when I could squander a C-note on dinner and drinks without a care in the world.

However, whether I do venture out or order in, I always hope for the best, even if it's local delivery. Which brings me to today's point:

I'm now at desperation levels. Where can a girl get great SUSHI this side of Greenwood? I've been ordering from Aji Sai at Jones, but last night DH noted that the size of the rolls keep getting smaller and smaller every time we order. The quality of the fish is excellent, but the serving is a fraction of what my personal fave (Sushi Inn) serves.

And it took over an hour to get our food.

Our monthly sushi takeout ritual needs a Danforth East injection! Anyone have any suggestions?

Irasshaimase!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How does your garden grow?

While many are bemoaning the loss of Small World Cafe at Danforth and Woodmount, there is still reason to dawdle on said block, if only to check out Country In The City - the new gardening and outdoor store that opened last week at 1769 Danforth Ave.

The balmy weather has me planning a front yard facelift, so I stopped by to check it out on Monday.

While I wasn't totally partial to the wood carvings, or the bohemouth lawn furnishings straight from Lord of the Rings, I was happy to see a great selection of seeds for both flowers and veggies. Had I ever wanted to start a garden (ha! I couldn't even keep bamboo alive!), the store stocks everything I might need to be a healthy horticulturalist.

What did catch my eye was the cutest, on trend, wire mesh animal sculptures that are definitely meant for indoors, not out. At 19.99, a great find for a bookshelf or mantle!

Speaking of great bargains: don't forget Earl Beatty's Bargain Basement Sale coming up on April 17th from 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check it out here: http://earlbeatty.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wheels On Fire


While some of my erstwhile single and beautiful pals were out on a sunny patio drinking beer yesterday, the sudden change in climate had me dreaming about riding my bike. One small problem though: somewhere in between my junior 1 bedroom apartment, subsequent rental spaces and their storage units, and now my current home, I have lost my bike helmet. There is a rubbermaid container out there somewhere with my name on it, containing my ice skates, barely used rollerblades, a tennis racket and my bike helmet

Lucky for us Danforth East-ers, we have Cyclepath at 1520 Danforth to call our own - one of the best cycling stores in Toronto. They've moved to a spiffy new location a few doors east of their original digs and when I stopped by yesterday evening to check it out, I was blown away. Aside from the gorgeous floor to ceiling picture windows at the front, the big wide aisles and easy stroller access at the door made it a breeze to shop.

I picked up a simple, black Specialized helmet for $49.99, fitted to my head by a super-friendly saleswoman who smiled and talked baby with the junior pioneer.

Total time in the store was approximately 10 minutes and then back out into the sunshine.

Now, if only I could find my bike.....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Calling my Bluff

This past weekend wasn't exactly the picture perfect weekend for getting outside and enjoying the neighbourhood, however, there came a point on Sunday afternoon when DH and I were struggling to amuse the junior pioneer and realized we needed to get out of the house.

Once ensconced in the car, we decided to head east and explore the land beyond Danforth. Admittedly, I've lived in the city for 14 years and have hardly been beyond Victoria Park, other than shopping trips to the big box stores at Warden Woods or Shoppers World.

This means I have never seen the Bluffs, so we headed off on a little adventure. Using our handy dandy GPS system and a brief query to Wikipedia from the iPhone, within 15 minutes we had ended up on a winding road leading down to the water and Bluffer's Park.

What unfolded was a breathtaking vista. If you've never seen the Bluffs and live in East York, it is worth the short trip. It was a gray and windy day, but the towering cliffs looked majestic and ethereal. With the gray waves roaring onto the breakwater, I somehow felt removed from Toronto. We could have been in Dover on the southern shores of England.

I was shocked to see that there was a group of people in the water with surf boards, a sight that I didn't think I would ever be privy to in March in Toronto.

I could see that there are lots of walking trails along the water, and had I been in sensible footwear and wearing a hat, we might have continued on. However, now that I've discovered this great spot, I'm looking forward to going back when the mercury is a little higher!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Break Mania

March Break Mania has begun:

If you have kids over the age of 2 (which is almost half of this neighbourhood, I am sure!), you are probably familiar with Max & Ruby, the deliciously cute Beatrix Potter-ish bunny siblings of TreehouseTV fame.

If you have kids over the age of 2, who are as crazy about Max & Ruby as you are, then you won't want to  miss this weekends Max & Ruby extravaganza at the Music Hall over on the "other Danforth" as DH and I have started calling it.

One of our local Danforth East businesses, Sphere Entertainment, is the brains behind the event. Here's the link to more info:  http://www.danforthmosaicbia.com/blog/?p=2994.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shamrocks and Leprechauns

It's only fitting that the name of the band playing this weekend in the 'hood for Patty's Day is called the "Shenanigans", a favourite word of my half-Irish Catholic mother who basically applied it to anyone or anything conducting any form of mischief. If one was to want to get into some mischief, Patty's Day is the day that revelers can get away with perhaps acting a bit raucous, all in honour of the man who led the snakes from the Emerald Isle.

If you can find a sitter for the kids and have a chance to get out on Saturday night, I would highly recommend grabbing a pint at Taps & Tales and then heading over to LucSculpture on Greenwood for some foot-stompin' Celtic music.

Last St. Pat's day, I hit up the Seanachai (pronounced Shawn-ah-key) - a "real" Irish pub further west of Greenwood - for an afternoon cider (I was on mat leave, and yes, they let babies into the bar). It was a nice laid back vibe. I asked the lone, acoustic guitarist to play my favourite but rarely heard Irish folk song "The Orange and the Green" and surprisingly, he had the sheet music and knew the words. A+!

I'll leave you with something funny I heard this week: Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan says "You know you've been drinking the Irish beer Harp when your night starts out in fine form.....and then you suddenly come to, and you're standing over your cousin with a shovel." 





 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The big spring reveal

Oh what a glorious weekend! If you're anything like me, you were stuck inside a suburban shopping mall with artificial heating only glimpsing the breathtaking sunlight through the occasional pedestrian entrances.....
Just kidding! What a nightmare.

This was the weekend to be living in the city and enjoying it's ripeness.The pooch, junior pioneer, DH and I headed off for a long walk to the Broadview post office to pick up a package and we noticed that the streets were alive. We happened along Baltic Avenue (sounds like its straight from the Monopoly board!) where the entire street was playing a game of shinny. Parents, kids (girls AND boys I might add) flooded the street with their voracious appetite for spring weather. No coats, no boots and certainly no hats. Junior pioneer was mesmerized by the game, a sure sign that next winter, we will be lacing up skates at the Monarch Park rink for some free skate time.

It reminded me about community and how lucky we are to have one. There's no place like home, especially here on Danforth East.

The nice warm weather also reminded me that Earth Hour is approaching on March 27th. I'll write more about that later, but I wanted to point out that the green/eco Store Do-Bamboo (or dobamboo.com) at Danforth and Coxwell has some really great eco t-shirts made of bamboo. As I was walking by, I noticed a funny one in the window: it said "Don't Be Fuelish"!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Little Neighbourhood That Could

It's such an amazing feeling to open the Toronto Star and see a news item about your neighborhood that is inspiring, rather than depressing. 

Joe Fiorito has continued his interest in our lack of a post office on Danforth East and wrote a great item in today's paper about the community meeting this past Sunday:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/774175--fiorito-canada-post-upgrade-is-a-community-downer#article

What I really love, is that someone from the neighbourhood was smart enough to bring in the Postal Service Charter to the meeting. That seemed to really make Canada Post officials squirm, as Joe notes. We have the right to convenient postal services, and it says so in their official mandate. So what gives? Has no-one at the mother ship noticed the big gaping inconvenient hole in this pretty massive, urban community?

I'm hoping that the meeting and this article will be able to maintain our community momentum so we can fight for the right to have our own postal services. To start with, please send me a note if you'd like to be added to the list of people who get email blasts about this issue from Jack Layton's office, so that we are all in the loop!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ice Dreams

If you missed the multitude of neighbourhood skating parties last weekend, like I did, never fear!

Although a little far from Danforth East, Riverdale Park (550 Broadview) will be hosting Councillor Paula Fletcher's skating party this Sunday afternoon from 2 - 4 p.m.

Throw on your skates and relive your own version of Patrick Chan's Olympic performance!

The Ice Dreams Synchronized Skating Team will be on hand to provide some frosty entertainment, along with circus performers and other special guests.

Did I mention FREE hot chocolate and hot dogs? 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Going Postal - Part 2

Some of you may remember that a few months ago, Danforth East lost its last Post Office. That may sound dramatic, but it's actually true. The closest full-service postal outlet is now at Woodbine and O'Connor or (if you're so inclined) at Chester and Danforth.

Unfortunately, Jack Layton's office wasn't fully aware of this situation until it was too late and even with some heavy-handed lobbying, the post office closed.

However, they are hoping to find a solution to this very serious problem (yes, even in this fast-paced world of email and Blackberry, people on Danforth East still need to mail packages and letters to loved ones...). They have planned a community meeting for this weekend, and I would like to urge everyone to attend. I usually try to be unbiased here at Pioneer, but we need to protect our Dandforth East assets. A post office is part of making a vibrant and safe community.

Here are the event details:
Date: Sunday February 21st, 2010
Time: 2:00-4:00pm
Location: WoodGreen Community Centre, 1491 Danforth Ave., Classrooms 1&2       
   (Coxwell & Danforth)

See you there!

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Some bread for my baby-o!

It was a frosty cold morning this past Saturday, but nothing was stopping myself and the junior Pioneer from heading out to the premiere event of the winter season: the opening day of Celena's Bakery (2036 Danforth). When I first heard the rumour that a new bakery was set to open its doors on Danforth, I couldn't have been happier. The old Italian bakery a block west had closed two years earlier, leaving only Plank Road Market and North Pole Bakery left to supply the blossoming neighbourhood population of fresh bread addicts (thanks Atkins diet for reminding all of us how good carbs are!). Celena's timely opening will once again bring fresh bread, cookies and other baked goods to the Danforth.

Here's how it went down: I opened the door to the bakery and noticed that it was cozily packed and that I knew approximately half the people in the room. Check mark for "neighbourhood gathering spot". The heady smell of fresh baked bread washed over me and oh, what a wonderful feeling. The sun was shining through the windows, rolling over the warm yellow walls and enhancing the happiness radiating from the room. There is just something about baking that makes people happy.

A wall display of bread baskets held a selection of fresh baked loaves, still warm from the oven. A brief perusal uncovered rosemary loaves, sourdough rounds and french bread. I greedily grabbed two, but realized that they were literally going to be sold out of bread in only minutes so I will save one for next visit. An espresso machine was puffing away behind the counter which means this will be a great place for a cookie and a coffee, post lunch. I also overheard that there will be pies, oh my!

Goodbye taste-less and day old grocery store bread, hello delicious artisanal treats. I can't wait to get to know you better!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Big Hole: Community Meeting

If you've ever wanted to be involved in the community, now is your chance:

There will be a community meeting, hosted by DECA (Danforth East Community Association), tomorrow night (Feb. 2nd) at Kimbourne Park United Church to talk about the development of the Big Hole at 2055 Danforth (just west of Woodbine).

The meeting starts at 7:30 and I would suggest bringing your own spiked coffee......

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's all in the details....

In my haste yesterday, I neglected to mention the more important details about the Medicinal Herbs course on Monday. Here they are:

Where: Danforth Mennonite Church, 2174 Danforth Avenue

Time: 7:30 - 9:00

Price: $5

How to attend: RSVP to Mary-Margaret McMahon, spargy@rogers.com

Enjoy!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dr. Linda, Medicine Woman

My spice cupboard is usually filled with a menage of various dried herbs and spices, purchased from whatever grocery store I'm at when shopping for recipes. While I love the idea of fresh herbs, I don't always have the chance to stock up on them which is terrible because fresh herbs are great for other things than just recipes. Our generation has forgotten that herbs can also be used for healing simple ailments. Instead of turning to the medicine cabinet next time I have a tummy ache or headache, I'd love to be able to pick something fresh from my garden (weather permitting) and know how to use it as a healing herb.

Thanks to our local Reskilling classes, organized and created by one of my local heroes Mary-Margaret McMahon, I too could learn to be a medicine woman. The upcoming three hour workshop on Medicinal Herbs running this Monday, January 25th will be run by Linda Rose of Black River Gate House and will teach attendees how to identify and plant useful healing herbs in your garden.

When Spring rolls around, here I come, Dr. Sarah Medicine Woman (so fitting in my role as an East End Pioneer!).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tin Roof...not rusted!

It was the week of family grooming:

We took in our little pupster to get his mid-winter trim at Barkingham Palace. When DH got home from work that day, he realized that he was now the shaggier of the two.

During the summer, he had tried Hair Sensations for a cut, but it did not turn out that well. Our amazing neighbour, who for now I will call JM, suggested a place that he and his own 4 year old have been going for a few years called Tin Roof Hair Grooming Centre. I personally didn't think the place was even open, as I'd passed by at least a hundred times and rarely ever seen anyone inside. But JM swears by them. So DH made the requisite appointment.

For $25, he got what is probably the nicest trim he's had in a long time. Compared to the 40 bills he usually pays at Yonge and Eligible, I think this is a way better deal: save on gas, save on the cut and learn something about the 'hood. Josephine is a chatty Kathy and knows everything about the neighbourhood. He says that he had a really enjoyable conversation about how Danforth has changed over the years.

I was feeling a little "shaggy" myself, so I popped into Sugar Moon on Danforth and had my eyebrows sugared. If you haven't been to this spa for some pampering, I definitely recommend it. Sugaring is much easier on the skin than waxing and for $17, I was in and out in about 15 minutes. Speedy service with a smile!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Small World After All


I was going to write a review of a new cafe today, but I wanted to address an issue that the whole community seems to be talking about.

I recently found out that Small World Cafe is closing (sob!). I spent so many happy hours there drinking coffee and eating Dufflet pastries that it was a serious blow to my heart.  The East York Mirror had run an article a few months ago about the owners trying to sell the biz on Craigslist, but I never followed up to see what the result of it was.

I logged on to chowhound to see what the rumour mill is saying and according to intel from JamieK, there will be an Ethiopian restaurant opening. I haven't confirmed this yet, but I was actually stunned when I read it. I love Ethiopian food, but how many restos can this neighbourhood float? Most of the current restaurants closer to Greenwood are pretty much empty around dinner hour, other than Blue Nile which gets the nightclub crowd.

There's also another rumour that Starbucks was poking around. Perhaps that's what the strip needs, but I would be saddened to see this as I love our other small community coffee shops like Three's Company Too, True Brew and Seb's.

As of yet, there isn't a single legitimate coffee shop or bakery for people to hang out at after 6:00 (other than Seb's if you're so inclined). I was hoping that someone from the neighbourhood would buy Small World and keep it afloat, tweaking the business model to include better customer service and extended hours, but as Debbie Gibson once said, this will have to stay "only in my dreams".....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

All-day daycare gone to the birds

I literally couldn't believe my eyes. I almost choked on a baby carrot while perusing the map of the "proposed school site list for full-day kindergarten". Where there should have been lots of little location flags around the area of Danforth and Danforth East on the virtual map, there was a gaping hole of nothing. When the program roles out in a few years, there will literally be no all-day daycares in Wards 15 or 16.

Let me put this in perspective: On my side of the block there are 8 houses. Four of these residences (all in a row, I might add) have children under 2. This is just my side of the street on my tiny block. In a neighbourhood where you can't move a step without stumbling over a Mountain Buggy or a Bugaboo, I thought it was completely shocking to see such short-sightedness on behalf of our fearless leaders.

I called up Ward 16 Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher, as she is the rep for my little pioneer's future school Earl Beatty. I was pleased to find out that she is also infuriated by Mr. McGuinty's dim-witted minions and their choice of schools. However, she did explain something that softened my heart a little bit.

First, to qualify, your school can't already have a daycare in it. Sigh. Both Beatty and MacGregor already have stellar daycares installed within.

Secondly, the all-day care program was not necessarily created to help out middle class (or upper middle-class) folks like me. It was created to assist people who are less fortunate than me, who can't afford daycare for more than one child because both parents work in low-paying jobs or don't work at all. Free daycare may be that one thing that will help that family climb out of poverty. The program was also created to provide a better, if not equal, opportunity for learning for kids in places like Crescent Town or St. Jamestown, which are a little rough around the edges. Kids who need that additional support network more than my little one, who will probably have the luxury of two parents home in the evening to help with homework.

My final thought is that, yes, it will be tough when the time comes to get the junior pioneer from kindergarten to another child care space in the middle of the day (because God knows, I probably won't get into Beatty Buddies as the waiting list is three years long) but when the time comes, I most likely will be able to find the means to pay for it. So, here's to hoping that although I won't benefit from this program, someone who really needs it will!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Your chance to speak

The Danforth East Community Association is hoping to have a "community speaks" event in February to discuss issues that are affecting the Danforth East community. I thought I'd help them out and throw up a poll to see if this is something people would like to attend. Over on the right hand side of the site, you'll see a very simple yes/no poll. Please answer and let myself and DECA know what you think!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reading Rainbow



Now that our holiday spend-stravaganza is over, DH and I are on a mission to have low-cost but high-fun weekends with our little one. Two weekends ago, we managed to get away with spending only $6 by sticking to the neighbourhood and ignoring the lure of all the holiday sales (do I REALLY need another set of wine glasses that they are practically giving away at Benix??).

This past weekend was another success, thanks in part to a neighbourhood destination where everything is free: the library! S. Walter Stewart library is just around the corner from us and I had almost forgotten how cool it is. Did you all know that it's one of the only round libraries in Canada? And when it opened, it was one of only four round libraries in all of the world. Pretty amazing. This photo below was taken in its early days (thanks to Patricia Eastman, Library Services Manager for going above and beyond and scanning this photo for me!). You can see how different the facade looks, in comparison to the renovated appearance today.




When you have a little one interested in books, the kids area is to die for. Lots of room for a eighteen-month old to run around in. Interactive, permanent puzzles installed into the floor and walls provide plenty of free stimulation. The rocket ship puppet-show play module is a smash hit. I came upon a 2 year old named George serving dinner to his "girlfriend" and her puppets. The little pioneer was amused for hours.

DH will kill me for admitting this, but he hadn't been into a library for years and literally was transfixed by a plumbing book that he found on the shelf. He settled down with a diet coke and his book in the reading area and didn't surface for about an hour.

Free fun for all! What a great way to stay local and spend quality time with the family.

Photo courtesy of Flickr: TPLFans - S. Walter Stewart branch, East York, 2009.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vintage Score

As I noted in an earlier post, I'm back into home decor mode in an effort to liven up my empty walls. A good friend of mine who lives over at Pape and Cosburn writes a really great blog on thrifting called  The Grunge Queen and she has inspired me to be really creative in my decor efforts without spending a ton of money. I like to shop local when I can so on that note, I decided to make a trip to our neighbourhood Value Village at Danforth and Woodbine to scrounge for some treasures. I've made two visits over the past few weeks and I totally scored.

On my first visit I found three pieces of silver plate tableware for a total of $25. They were black with tarnish, but I walked over to the new Home Hardware (a few doors down east of VV) and bought some silver polish. When I got home, I spent about half an hour polishing them and I was thrilled with the results! I put the tray and dish on my dresser as a perfume and jewelry tray and the "bucket" became a flower vase on my built-in shelves in the living room. The before and after pics are below (sans flowers!):




From East End Pioneer

On my second trip to VV on New Years Eve, I was looking for some champagne flutes and was only hoping to find a few mismatched items for my NYE shindig. I scored a full set of 6 copper plated flutes from Pier 1, new with labels on. I paid a bit more than I should have ($5 each) even though I tried to talk down the price with the woman on the cash. They are gorgeous and a nice functional decor addition to my china cabinet.

My next local decor stop: Ciraco Frames to frame some nice prints. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New You

Some call it the Molson muscle, I call it the "holiday eggnog muscle". It's that gut that you get at the end of December from eating and drinking too much sugary-holiday-goodness. At the beginning of last week, I decided that I was not going to wait for January 1 to get started on a new fitness regime. In my mind, why wait? The faster I can get back into my pants, the better.

I already belong to McFitness (GoodLife) which is great for Saturday morning classes and their vast array of cardio implements, but I wanted to toss things up a bit. I hate riding my bike and thus, I hate spinning but it's one of the best indoor cardio workouts you can get, so I decided the best course of action (*obviously*) would be to sign up for a spin class.

I headed down to Legacy Indoor Cycling at 1506 Danforth to try a class last Wednesday and I actually enjoyed it. Andy, the owner, was attentive and helped to set me up with a padded seat cushion (I know, cheating!!) and adjusted my bike for me. He and the instructor both urged me to go at my own pace and in the end, I was thankful, as I made it through the class without too much pain.

When I went back for the Saturday morning class, it was a lot harder than Wednesday's. My hair was dripping and I thought my legs were on fire, but today I am already feeling the difference. I signed up for their 3-month weight loss challenge, just for fun, so now I'm accountable to someone which is great motivation. I can see it now "Danforth's Biggest Loser".....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Granola: X-rated

We're getting a little racy today on Pioneer.

Our nearest "female friendly adult store" Red Tent Sisters, over at Jones and Danforth, were creating some headlines back in December. They are advocating for environmentally friendly "toys" and have appealed to our nation's leaders to regulate the industry. Here is a link to the story.
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