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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,



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.