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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last Post of the Year

SO much to write about, so little time! The pop-up shops are winding down, and we didn't want to forget to mention one of the coolest projects we've seen:

Sharing the space with Mrs. Darling is the lovely creations of Marina Rocks. This entrepreneurial 14-year old (geez, what were WE doing when we were 14???) makes wallets, hair bands, bows, clips and change purses out of duct tape. And this ain't no ordinary duct tape - Marina's colourful creations are made from patterned, coloured funky duct tape she sources from various places. Hot pink tiger print for mother-in-law? You got it! Paul Frank monkey's for your hipster brother-in-law? Also got it! Pioneer also discovered that Marina can do custom orders, since we are dying for a unique, one-of-a-kind Kobo ebook reader cover.

Marina has been making waves around Toronto, so you can permanently find her cool creations at local shops Atomic Toybot, Swag Sisters and Birthia (Dundas and Roncie). But don't wait that long! You have until TOMORROW at noon to get it while it's hot at 1948 Danforth.

One other item to bring up before we wrap up another year of blogging:

You can find us tweeting at @DanforthEast where we both curate tweets from local tweeters and tweet our own Pioneer stuff. Other great local tweeters to follow are @EastYork_TO and @DanforthVillage.

Happy New Year everyone and thank you once again for reading, following, and participating in local events. Together we will keep this neighbourhood great!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Interesting People: Mrs. Darling

Okay, her real name is not Mrs. Darling, but when you walk into Melissa Peretti's pop-up shop and see her in her red and white striped apron, you can practically imagine her saying "Fly, Peter, Fly!". The proprietress of Mrs. Darling's Imaginarium for Girls & Boys has transformed the space at 1948 Danforth into a whimsical, fun-filled adventure space for kids, to which we can attest after watching Junior Pioneer #1 being chased around the shop in a blue princess dress clutching a balloon and screaming with joy.

Although many may think this is just a temporary 'play space',  Pioneer discovered this morning that it's far more than that.

Q. How did you get involved in a project like this involving children?

A. I have a background in photography and visual arts. While I was shooting for a commercial photo house, I found the clients that I worked the best with were children. As you can imagine, it's tough to wrangle children, but I discovered that I was able to get the best from them which I think is key to embarking on any type of career change geared towards children.

Q. What was the inspiration for the Imaginarium?

A. It was really something that came about from necessity. I wanted to create a place that I could take my children to and DO something with them - not just drop them off and go do errands. As well, I grew up in a small-ish town north east of Toronto and wouldn't it have been great to have something like this when I was little? There was nothing 'creative' for my parents to take me to, so I was inspired by that: a place I would have liked to hang out at when I was younger.

Q. I think the title is very specific, the "Imaginarium for Boys & Girls". Can you explain your thinking behind the title?

A. I've done a lot of reading on the 'lost art of play', and it really concerns me. Children in this era of TV and computers are losing their ability to play, whether on their own or in a group. I wanted to create a space that really helps kids learn how to access their imaginations when they are bored, get their creativity flowing.

Q. But there are a lot of places kids can go and do crafts in the city. What makes this place special?

A. The idea behind the Imaginarium is to bring out the specialness in each child. Instead of setting a task for the day ie. today, we are going to make happy faces out of plates, we don't set an agenda. Children have a lot of imagination and ability to be creative, and we nurture that with suggestions of things they can "play" whether its crafts or princess dresses. It's also about encouraging collaboration, building a mini-community you could say, rather than just focusing on individual achievement.

Q. You mentioned that you are opening a permanent space in the new year?

A. Yes, hopefully in time for March Break. It will be great because I'll be able to expand the dramatic programming and the ability will be there to do longer multi-day craft projects rather than short ones.  I'm looking forward to it!

Mrs. Darling's Imaginarium for Girls & Boys pop-up is open until mid-day on the 31st. For more information check out her website here!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making merry on Danforth

Pioneer has been hearing over on Twitter that there are lots of New Years Eve happenings in the neighbourhood. Although there is only a slight chance we can actually get a babysitter on Dec 31, Daddy Pioneer and I are wondering just how fun it would be to walk the short walk to Sarah's Cafe and for $39 have a nice Prix Fixe dinner to ring in 2013. The menu looks wonderfully savoury! More info can be found here.

On another note, why wait until New Year's Eve? Here's a chance to actually be merry over the holidays. Pioneer and Daddy Pioneer are pretty sure we can actually procure child care tomorrow night, so we're going to head over to the newest edition of Hirut Hoot comedy night (which I wrote about a few months ago here) called Hirut for the Holidays!. There will be merrymaking aplenty, as well as injera and other Ethiopian delicacies to nibble on. Just be careful: Scott McCrickard is so funny that you may find some of this coming out your nose from laughing while eating. The show starts at 9:00 p.m. (with some nice jazz standards from 8 - 9 beforehand). Hirut Restaurant is located at 2050 Danforth Ave.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Loving Living Local

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all our devoted Pioneer readers! We hope you are keeping your sanity in this busy holiday season. 

We're not usually one to jump on the Christmas gift guide bandwagon, but in this case, there really is a good reason to create the first ever Pioneer Home For the Holidays Gift Guide: it means you don't have to go to a mall or a suburban shopping plaza "designer fashion outlet" to find delicious gifts for your loved ones. Pioneer and Daddy Pioneer took a trip to the new, shiny pop-up shops along Danforth and are living proof that holiday shopping can be done entirely on the Danforth.

Our first stop was Lemon Drop Clothing - a pop up shop so pretty that it brought tears to our eyes when we first saw the window at 1948 Danforth. Although a custom made bespoke frock is an absolutely dreamy idea for this just-returned-to-the-scary-workforce mama (hello, dresses that hide the mummy tummy!), it's a bit of a stretch for a Christmas gift for someone else. However, the oodles of Stella & Dot accessories made our mouth water, including a gorgeous feather brooch that transforms into a necklace and a mixed-metal coral-hued necklace fit for a true east end princess (or great gift ideas for other types of princesses). They are only open until end of day TOMORROW, so get on over!

Our next stop was Tyke Threads in the lobby of the space that was formerly known as Renaissance Cafe. The proprietor of this bespoke kids 'cloth and kicks' pop-up is Grace and she is a dynamo retail machine. Once upon a time, Grace worked in Corporate Communications but now she runs one of the most successful online kids clothing businesses in Canada. From dinner jackets to leather jackets, her pop-up has a collection of interesting and fashionable gifts for that special man in your life (ages birth to preschool that is!). Daddy Pioneer was drooling over a precious plaid fedora and a cozy cable-knit highlander sweater that would make any Jr. Pioneer the most fashionable kid in the sandbox. 

Last but not least, we finally made a visit to LEN (1936 Danforth) where we met owner, local art aficionado and Pioneer devotee David. We fell in love with the cool collection of fun gift ideas, like Maple Syrup Candles ($14 - 17) and whimsical printed greeting card sets (prices vary). The absolute genius of LEN is that you can pick up a genuine piece of Canadian art (for your parents who already have everything) from as little as $199, and throw in a few candles for Aunt Betty and a gorgeous silver serving bowl for your sister in law for $59. We personally loved the birdcage candelabras hanging over the cash - would be on our Christmas list except for Daddy Pioneer's fear that Ye Old East York semi-detached will light up like a matchstick when candles are involved.

 Info on store hours and such can be found over on DECA Diaries here.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Open For Business

Our retail scene along Danforth East is heating up - just in time for a cold snap!



The first bit of news Pioneer wants to share is that our very own Silly Goose Kids toy store has been voted NUMERO UNO in the city by BlogTO! That's right. We're number one, we're number one....Check out the complete list here. 

If you missed the first two pop-up shops along Danforth, then you'll enjoy this bit of news:  DECA has coordinated nine more pop-up shops along the same stretch of Danforth for the entire month of December. The best part is that the shops are open during the week this time, not just on the weekends.

Shops include:
- Pop Goes the Easel: handmade cards, prints and drop-in workshops
- two art galleries
- custom dresses from Lemon Drop Clothing
- Mrs. Darling's Imaginarium
- Marina Rocks: funky duct tape accessories

This is an extremely important accomplishment for our neighbourhood, so please take a few minutes to do some local Christmas shopping at one of the shops this month!

For more detailed information, check out DECA Diaries.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pillow talk

When Pioneer was a junior Pioneer, we used to love that bouyant and elated feeling we would get whenever we opened the doors to Sugar Mountain and saw row upon row of rainbow coloured candy jars. Flash forward a few decades and there we were, running along Danforth Ave. one frosty evening when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a colourful apparition: a store front full of bright lights and beautiful colours. Feeling like that excited 8-year old again, our hearts pounding and our mouth salivating, we opened the door and found ourselves in The Pillow Shoppe. That's right, it wasn't candy, but bright and colourful pillows of all shapes and sizes, calling their siren call to this design-challenged home owner.

As we manoeuvred through the newly opened space at 1434 Danforth, there was hardly a pillow we didn't want to take home. Owner and design diva Viive knows her audience, after designing and styling interiors around the GTA for two decades. 

"For a low price point, here is something small that you can take home and make your space feel new again. You don't need to buy new furniture for some low-cost, high impact changes," she explained. Her motto is 'enhancing your home d├ęcor with unique pillows that express your personal style'.

In this neighbourhood, that's music to many a new-homeowners ears! 

Almost all of the pillows are made in Canada, with a select few shipped in from abroad and containing some international fabric blends. The store is the first of what will potentially be a handful of shops across the GTA. 

The very best part of this story though is that the nabe has a new retail storefront with a tenant who cares about the neighbourhood. Viive is already mixing and mingling with her neighbours and was up-to-date on all the neighbourhood happenings (good and bad). It only takes one broken window to bring down a neighbourhood, but in this case, we hope it takes only one window full of pillows to bring this neighbourhood up another notch!


Monday, November 26, 2012

DECA Update

Pioneer loves DECA (Danforth East Community Association) because they were actually the very first pioneers in the Danforth East neighbourhood. DECA was formed seven years ago by a group of citizens who wanted to change our little pocket of the world into something safer and more vibrant. As their 2012 year rolls to a close, they've posted a reminder over on DECA Diaries about all the things that they've accomplished this past year to help our neighbourhood. Please read it and pay your $10 membership fee if you live within the boundaries. It's only $10 - seriously, and you can register and pay online. Yes, you can totally go to the Farmers' Market and read DECA Diaries or partake in other activities without being a "member" but why? Without the neighbourhood support, we wouldn't have things like ponies at the Harvest Festival (and no-one wants to mess with the ponies, right??).

Stay tuned tomorrow for a peak at Danforth's newest retail destination!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Panini-town

Are you sick of sandwiches yet? We promise, this is the final post about amazing east end sandwiches.

This last delicious lunch confection was something Pioneer stumbled on by accident and is by far, one of the best noon day ensembles east of the DVP. Many of you probably already know about Caketown (XXXX Danforth) because you have previously stuffed your face with their amazing, fresh baked scones that come in a multitude of delectable flavours often involving some variety of cheese.

It wasn't until we realized just how many calories a scone has that we started searching for another lunch option and discovered that Caketown makes A-mazing paninis. There are two on the menu that we think are absolutely excellent: roast beef and dijon mustard, and turkey and tomato.


The reason why these are great paninis? The bread is as fresh as it can get, and the sandwich press is probably as clean as a whistle since there are never any burn marks or clumpy bits stuck to the exterior. The interior of said panini is just perfect - there are no mushrooms, or soft goat cheese or sauteed onions. Turkey, tomato, lettuce (and cheese if you want) and something creamy that holds it all together.

Grab one of these sandwiches, a cup of coffee, flop down onto Caketown's cozy leather coaches and watch the neighbourhood stroll by. But save room for dessert.....(oh, that will have to wait until another post!) Bon appetit!

Stay tuned next week: a sneak peak (hopefully) at the new pub near Monarch Park and a new store opening!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sandwich Safari - Part 2

Pioneer is still on our sandwich safari, and this time our search takes us a little outside the boundaries of Danforth East (hey, we live here, but we sometimes like to leave too!). A windy, gusty day last week pushed us right into the path of The Works burger at the corner of Dewhurst and Danforth, just west of Donlands so we decided to give it a try.

For the record, Pioneer absolutely does not consider a hamburger a sandwich, but on a perusal of the menu we found just what we needed: the St. Lawrence Market Avacado BLT. You might think we are crazy, since there is no end to the hamburger options available here, but the thing that sold us was the fact that this BLT was on a croissant. This turned out to be the perfect combination, and the sandwich was absolutely delicious. The moist croissant (from St. Lawrence Market, obviously) did a pretty good job of holding in the avacado, crisp bacon and lettuce/tomato. 

The best part of the experience however was not the sandwich. Usually Pioneer takes a pass at coleslaw, but something about the weather lately has us craving cabbage, so we took a chance on a side of slaw and boy are we glad we did. This coleslaw is nothing like the creamy confection you find in a tub at Loblaws. Their secret sauce is made with jalapeno pepper sauce and white pepper, which gives the tangy slaw a nice kick. It's not too saucy and not too creamy....we'd say it's just right!

So, our vote? Once the patio here re-opens in the spring, this sandwich and slaw combo would be the perfect lunch for a warm, sunny afternoon. For winter though, stick to the burgers!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Which Sandwich?


Pioneer recently had lunch with an acquaintance who writes a blog about sandwiches, which inspired us to uncover some of the great sandwiches around Danforth East. We've talked a lot about coffee shops and dinner destinations, but we've never really focused on lunch in the neighbourhood.

Before we start though, let's put things in perspective It's almost the five-year anniversary of when Pioneer became an official east-ender, which got us thinking about the state of the neighbourhood when we first suffered the trauma of home ownership. Finding a lunch destination back then was not for the faint of heart (to be fair some gems we just hadn't discovered yet...). Since then Taps & Tales/Morgan's opened, Columbo's started making better rice balls, the Bus Terminal amped up their menu and many, many coffee shops and bakeries arrived to woo us with Cornish Pasties and delicious scones or paninis. 

Our first favourite lunch destination though is definitely Melanie's Bistro (1870 Danforth) if only for their totally amazing Chicken Tikka Wrap. Imagine Tandoori chicken, onion tomato and cucumber in a decadent curry yogurt sauce stuffed inside a perfectly moist chapati wrap. It's $11 which we think is a bit pricey for a sandwich, but it's worth it (we can't remember but it might come with a side salad!). 

Almost all of the lunch menu at Melanie's is wonderful. Head chef and co-owner Arul Chettiar has a culinary background in the kitchens of Mumbai (and New York and Toronto...), and with his wife Chef Melanie Ferreira, has perfected this bistro menu that always leaves us coming back for more. 

Stay tuned as we uncover more east end sandwiches to eat before you move!


Monday, November 5, 2012

The not-so-crazy tomato

The corner of O'Connor and St. Clair is not really Danforth East, but for some reason Pioneer seems to fly through there often enough to honestly say that it's part of "our" hood (if not yours!). The reason we bring this up, is because it's a little nook on the edge of the east side that is really starting to boom, with a few new eateries opening up there within the last few months.

One of the new hot spots is the oft talked about Crazy Tomato (which Pioneer has been dying to try, but was not keen to take the two Junior Pioneers there even though it says family trattoria - does that mean family 'style' or family as in 'we welcome your 1-year old who will definitely throw their baked ziti on the floor'? We decided to put it to the test. One rainy night (correction, one of the many rainy nights we've had recently) when the Pioneer clan was feeling a wee bit soggy and in no mood to cook, we headed out.

Our fear of a hurricane-like food tantrum aside, the outing was a success. The staff are great, starting with a peace offering to Junior Pioneer #1 of crayons and colouring pages and immediately whipping out a plate of bread which we hastily fed to the screaming bottomless pit (JP #2).

We know everyone wants to know about the decor. It's great. It's exactly what you want in a cozy, local trattoria. Warm and inviting, with a large harvest table in the middle that seats ten. That's right! Ten. Mental note for the next big birthday dinner we won't be hosting at our house.

As for the food - last but not least. This is definitely not fine dining, and they don't make any pretence to be. The food is actually really good, homestyle cooking. We know this, because we sat right next to the kitchen so the juniors could ogle the wood-burning pizza oven. The dishes coming out were piled high with pasta and stacks of juicy roasted meats. Daddy Pioneer's comment about his own chicken dish: "This is not how I make chicken......it's way better!" Our pizza was perfect: we reached this verdict when two full pieces were actually consumed by someone under the age of 5.

What clinched it for The Crazy Tomato Trattoria, as one of our new go-to spots, was when a staff member posted Junior Pioneer's colouring pages up in the kitchen doorway. Any restaurant that can make a four year old that happy is definitely part of the Pioneer family. Salute!

The Crazy Tomato on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Design Sense


A few weeks ago, the Globe and Mail blew the cover off a secret that Pioneer and her girlfriends have been keeping on the DL: forget clothes and shoes, home decor is the new shopaholic obsession. Pillows, upholstery, wallpaper - hours of browsing on Pinterest.....

So, what does this have to do with Danforth East? Pioneer's heart almost skipped a beat when we discovered S Sense In Design (698 Coxwell Ave), a gorgeous little part-time boutique run by local interior stylist Laura Walters located just north of Danforth on Coxwell Ave.

When we first found this gem, although it was closed the front window was filled with some absolutely drool-worthy decor finds in a whimsical children's display: canvas toy holders from fluf, a vintage school desk and a moose print lamp shade from vintage lighting stylist modpieces (how Canadian!). We wanted to investigate further.

When Pioneer recently swung by the shop to chat with Walters, we discovered that she has been living in the area for almost a decade and working as a professional interior stylist around the GTA. Her shop started out as a professional workspace only, with no plans to become a retail space.

"As I met local artists and designers, they were all asking me if they could display their work and little by little I gave in and it has turned out to be very successful," Walters enthused as she showed us around her cozy space, which opened to the public in March.

Walters' European design sense is evident in the eclectic mix of beautiful upholstered pieces and unique objet d'art, mostly sourced from local artists. A small collection of items come from as far as Quebec, sourced from artisans available to very few places in Ontario such as custom teak shelves from Kino Guerin

Local marbling artist Robert Wu has prints on display from now until November 22. Don't worry - if you're anything like Pioneer, you might think you can't afford real art but the price range on his delicate but colourful prints start at $95 (or a set of reversible cards for a steal at $8!). We have our sights set on one for our future nouveau, eclectic style living room. The designer? Well, that could possibly be Walters' who says, "I work well on small, tight budgets." Now that is music to our ears!



More information here: www.ssenseindesign.ca.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A home in your 'hood

The Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin' pub crawl has come and gone, and if you missed it, just ask anyone who didn't just how much fun we had. There was craft beer, cool prizes and a whole lot of mardi gras beads.  Thank you for everyone who came out. It was fantastic to meet everyone! We also want to thank all of our locals: Morgan's, the Linsmore, Sauce and Sarah's. Thank you for accommodating us and our shenanigans. And a big thank you to The Flying Monkeys and Great Lakes Brewery for supporting our little pub crawl with a big heart!

This was definitely one of the best neighbourhood experiences we've ever had, because it opened up our eyes about a few things. The first is that we definitely did not expect all four of our destinations to be packed to the rafters, but that is exactly what happened. On a blustery October evening, the joints were all jumping and it was a really nice thing to see - people supporting the neighbourhood. 

The second thing that we were surprised about was the Linsmore. Yes, it is totally a dive bar, but it was not seedy and dark like we expected. The drinks were dirt cheap, the crowd was happy and there was even a live band setting up (Hankholly and the Delphis). One of the crawlers cannily observed that the place "felt like home" and we have to agree. You could hang out there in your pajamas and no-one would judge you. Sure, some patrons are rough around the edges, but we bet that there are a lot of hipsters along Queen West West who would love to have a real dive like this on the corner of their street!

See you at the next Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin' pub crawl in April!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Shop Til It Hops

Pioneer just wanted to remind everyone about the DECA Pop-Up Shop happening this weekend and next at 1948 Danforth Ave. This initiative has been coordinated by the DECA RED team. That stands for Renew East Danforth and hopefully this is the start of exactly that - a new approach to revitalizing the retail strip.

Just a few words on that topic: we've heard lots of grumbles from people around the 'hood about the lack of retail and the scanty shopping options. Well, all we have to say is: then help change that! If this one little pop-up shop is successful this time around, then it will inspire other landlords on the strip to host artists and independent small retailers for other pop-up shops. This in turn will hopefully create the buzz that we need around the city to draw permanent tenants into all of those beautiful, empty spaces.

The shop this weekend is from a local retailer called Birthia. There are some seriously gorgeous items on their Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/Birthia/photos_stream. Pioneer is lusting after some of their beautiful scarves (birthday hint Daddy Pioneer!!!).

And stay tuned next week for our visit to fab design studio S Sense In Design on Coxwell, plus our sneak peak at the new Body Blitz East End location. Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin' Update

The very first East End Pioneer Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin' pub crawl is coming up this Saturday evening (Oct 20) so we wanted to provide just a few more specifics for everyone.

Before we get started though, we wanted to let everyone know that there are not one, but TWO pub crawls happening in our hood this week. That's right, you heard us! Two opportunities to mix and mingle with your neighbours. The Danforth East Community Association (DECA) is hosting a pub crawl on Thursday evening. You can find all the details here! They will be wearing feather boas, so you can't miss them.

The Pioneer pub crawl on Saturday starts at 8:00 at Morgan's on the Danforth (1282 Danforth). Don't forget to pick up your 50/50 ticket from Pioneer or Daddy Pioneer, since our draws for great prizes from The Flying Monkeys Brewery and Great Lakes Brewery will be starting right away! We will make sure that you will be able to identify us and our minion helpers.

At around 8:45 we'll be heading to the Linsmore Tavern a few doors down. Karaoke may or may not have started yet, but if it has, you know we'll be signing up for some group "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" a la Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Just one tip for this spot: we would stay away from the draft beer and stick to bottles! ;)

At 9:30 we'll be heading over to hang out with Michelle and Johnny at Sauce on Danforth (1376 Danforth) for some fine craft beer and top shelf whisky - and possibly even some live music.

We'll end the night at 10:15/10:30 at Sarah's Cafe and Bar, where the kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m. in case you have the munchies.

See you Saturday and looking forward to meeting all of our Pioneer readers!



Monday, October 15, 2012

Patisserie Woes

Nobody likes a whiner, right? That's why Pioneer usually tries to stay positive about local experiences, however......

You know the situation is dire, when a macho male neighbour complains about something related to baked goods. When Patisserie La Cigogne opened a year and a half ago, Danforth East was elated and excited. For the most part, we've heard good things, but there are a few areas that we would like to draw attention to:

There are hardly ever any baked goods in the patisserie to actually purchase.

There, we said it. We've been holding that in for over a year, when we made four or five unsuccessful attempts to buy a ham and cheese croissant. On numerous other occasions the Pioneer clan would swing by there on the way to or from the park and continually be disappointed in the lack of croissants or other yummy baked treats.

Although disgruntled, our emotions about this place were on the upswing once the patisserie installed a ramp for strollers. That was great community service, if you ask us.

Unfortunately, this weekend was another strike. The good news is that the patisserie is a participant in the city wide Toronto Chocolate Festival starting this past Saturday (Oct 13) and you can find a coupon here for buy one, get one free chocolate croissants. Yum!

However, what would be really great is if you could actually purchase a chocolate croissant at the patisserie. Two disappointing visits this weekend resulted in zero croissants. Pioneer got to chatting with the neighbour mentioned up top, and he regaled me with his experience of trying to buy a baguette at 2:00 p.m. one afternoon, and finding absolutely nothing he could actually buy. No baguettes, no croissants.....

We completely understand that they want their baked goods to be fresh, but at least have some options other than apple danish (and a salad and quiche aren't going to cut it!).

Please feel free to leave comments below about this. We'd love to hear what the neighbourhood thinks!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Witches Night Out

Pioneer doesn't ever miss a chance to dress up, and if you're anything like us, then you've probably got a whole closet full of Halloween props and costumes that are often mismatched, missing pieces and may or may not work together. Every year, costume party invitations roll in and we scramble at the last minute to pull together a costume from our wild menage of accessories (red haired cat-witch anyone?).  Well, this year we have vowed to be prepared and are spending this weekend on the hunt around the hood for the best costume ever.

As Daddy Pioneer was driving along Danforth East this week he noticed the Halloween Clearance Outlet at 2208 Danforth, just a few blocks east of Woodbine, so we decided to pop our heads in to check it out. We discovered a ghoulishly great destination (with great discounts!) for anything Halloween - props, makeup, costumes, masks, etc. Although most of the costumes are of the adult, costume-in-a-bag sort, there is an enormous variety. So if you've ever dreamed of being a saucy Medieval wench, or a prehistoric caveman, this is your spot. Don't forget to check out the full display of disembodied heads - they will make any trick or treater scream with fright!

The outlet is right across the street from another treasure trove for costumes - Value Village (2119 Danforth)! If you're looking for kids or adult costumes, they have many - and they are so inexpensive, you can practically buy one for each Halloween party.


And if you have wheels, and you've ever wanted to explore (ie. evaluate other people's real estate) in that secret neighbourhood just past the Woodbine bridge on the north side of O'Connor, now is your chance. The Parkview Hills church Presteign Woodbine United is having a costume sale tomorrow (Saturday, Oct 13) from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and apparently, this is not to be missed. The church is selling off ten years worth of dramatic costumes and props they've collected, but don't worry, they are not all biblical in nature. Kids and adults!


Friday, October 5, 2012

October 20 is Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin' Night!!

As we're only two weeks away from the East End Pioneer Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin' pub crawl, we think it's only fair to reveal the details of our super fun night out in the 'hood.

October 20 is our chosen night of revelry, and festivities will begin at 8:00 p.m. at Morgan's on the Danforth (1282 Danforth). The Flying Monkeys Brewery, Great Lakes Brewery and Wellington Brewery are some of our sponsors for the evening, so thanks to them, we will have some very nifty swag to offer up for prizes throughout the crawl. Don't forget to get your 50/50 ticket from Mrs. Pioneer or Daddy Pioneer when you arrive (trust us, you'll know us when you see us!).

From Morgan's, we'll be moving to the Linsmore Tavern a few doors down. That's right - we're going to the Linsmore, where draught is only $1.85 (I highly recommend the bottled variety here). The Gleeks among us can grab a mic and perhaps take part in some down market Karaoke, and sing like no-one's watching (cause no-one really is....except for us!). In case you have any trepidations, here is an article from BlogTO that puts to rest any rumours of murders at the Linsmore (it happened near the Linsmore in 1935 for goodness sake). Plus, there will be prizes!!

From the Linsmore, we'll head to Sauce on the Danforth for some top-shelf sauce (1376 Danforth) and more prizes... And finally, our last stop will be Sarah's Bar and Cafe at the corner of Monarch Park and Danforth.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Turkey Delight

Thanksgiving is one of Pioneer’s favourite holidays. There is nothing better than spending the entire day in your kitchen, enjoying your faux granite countertops and fingerprint-ey stainless steel appliances, while preparing a feast for your loved ones while they relax with a drink(s) and play “rock, paper, scissors” for first dibs at the stuffing.

We’re kidding, but seriously, if you’re not like Pioneer and don’t actually like feast day prep, there is a one-word local solution: Morgan’s! Our favourite local is doing all the grunt work for us, and using way better ingredients to boot. Order a turkey dinner (before Saturday morning!) and you will have butternut squash and apple soup, turkey, mashed potatoes, maple glazed heirloom carrots, sausage and sage stuffing and a pumpkin tart with cinnamon whipped cream (whew, that was a mouthful!).  Nobody has to know that it was actually Owner and Executive Chef Anne Sorrenti and her team doing all the heavy lifting with fresh, local ingredients, right?

What really sounds divine though is having your turkey, and not having to clean up the kitchen! As part of their regular, weekly Sunday roast dinner special, Morgan’s is making the turkey, and all of the sides and serving it up hot on Sunday evening. Just make sure to call for reservations, since this is one place that is sure to be 'hopping' - Morgan's also serves up Ontario Church-key and Sawdust City microbrews  plus a lengthy list of various craft beers to go with your turkey!

Speaking of beer, Morgan's is our first stop on the Pioneer Run/Walk/PubCrawlin' pub crawl on October 20th. Stay tuned for details (but if you miss them, just meet us there at 8:00 p.m. - we'll be loud and wearing Mardi Gras beads!).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Stitch in Time

You never know what you're going to turn up when walking around the Danforth East area, and last night was no exception for Pioneer. Although we don't always frequent Starbucks, it was a rare occasion that found us at the sparkling new location on Coxwell, and what to our wandering eyes did appear? Seated at the long harvest table in the centre of the room was a large group of women surrounded by spools of yarn with their knitting needles flying - the very last thing I ever expected to see at Starbucks.

The knitting circle (otherwise known as a stich'n bitch) meets informally every Monday evening (around 7ish?), so if you're interested in learning about knitting or just knitting with access to treats and a lot of caffeine, then this is your local. We should have asked them what they were drinking since it looked like they were having a grand old time. As Pioneer walked away, we heard gales of laughter punctuated with the staccato click-clack of their needles, taking over the world one stitch at a time.

And in other news....


This Thursday (Oct 4) is the Harvest Moon festival at East Lynn Park Farmers' Market. Pioneer personally knows the organizers and they are a hard working bunch, who have created a sensational event this year including pony rides and pumpkin painting. More info can be found here!


The Dollarama at Woodbine is finally open**. We won't elocute on this too much, since the only good news here is that there is no longer an empty storefront at that address. Oh, and now there are two Dollaramas within the immediate area to get your fix of tissue paper, greeting cards, cheap sponges and gift bags.

**The opening date was a closely guarded secret (insert Trudeau leadership bid pun here), akin to Pentagon security codes. Despite repeat sleuthing attempts on Pioneer's part (by phone, email and in person) Dollarama refused to commit to a date. It was very strange. For a dollar store.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Run/Walk/Pubcrawlin'

On behalf of all Pioneer readers, we take our job of local food and drink taster very seriously. We think it's important to try out all the new spots (and old favourites) to be able to report back on their yumminess (all in a day's work, we suppose!!).

However, Pioneer thinks it's time to take this act to the next level.  We want to share the love with our readers so it's time for the first official East End Pioneer Run/Walk/PubCrawl neighbourhood pub crawl.

Please join Pioneer and gang at 7:30 p.m. on October 20 for the kick-off. The cost is free, but cash for drinks at each stop. The official agenda is still evolving and details are still being worked out, but we're just sayin' that it may or may not involve mardi gras beads and karaoke at the Linsmore Tavern. Other tentative stops are Sauce on Danforth and Sarah's.

Stay tuned!!






Monday, September 24, 2012

The View from here

It's been a few weeks since Pioneer has had the chance to check in with the neighbourhood, so this past weekend was all about reconnecting with the Danforth and enjoying staying in the 'hood. With a long list of errands to run, we left the house on a perfect day for a neighbourhood walk.

On the way to Silly Goose Kids, to pick up some gifts and enjoy the store's first anniversary celebrations, we ran into our veteran city councillor Janet Davis who was biking home from the Kimbourne yard sale with a frozen pie in her basket. We got to talking about her tenure as the mother-hen of Ward 31 (she's been one of our city councillors for almost a decade) and how protective one can start to feel after so many years on council. Part of her ward is the Dawes Road/Danforth Village neighbourhood just bordering Danforth East. A recent article in the Toronto Star pinpointed the Dawes Rd area as home to a large and notorious gang (that shall remain nameless), which Davis was justifiably miffed over.

"That neighbourhood is rapidly changing. Property values are going up, crime is going down - it's a community of hard working people. Nobody is going to be happy that the police are still pointing to this area as a hotbed for gang activity, because it's just not true," David extrapolated, before riding off into the gorgeous fall afternoon to get her pie home to the freezer.

Moments later, a trail of beautiful 4-year old ballerina's dressed in baby blue spilled out of the doors of Pegasus studio on Glebeholme, a stunning counterpoint to the images in Pioneer's mind only seconds before. The beautiful innocence of Saturday afternoon ballet class.

Heading on to Silly Goose Kids, we found the store was happily jammed with friends and neighbours, kids and parents. The dark shadow of our conversation with Davis disappeared as we wrangled the crowds, chatted with DECA and lined up with Junior Pioneer for a free balloon.

And as it so often happens in this neighbourhood, the magic of a fall afternoon in a great city brushed aside our list of errands which was all but forgotten. It was time for one last ice cream at Carter's, before they close for the winter, and a stroll along the Danforth in the sunshine with two budding Pioneers in tow. With moments like this, why would we want to live anywhere else but here?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Future Projections


Years ago, Pioneer used to jump on our little red scooter and drive across town to help with the Save the Revue campaign, an effort to save the art deco Roncesvalles movie theatre from turning into condos. This was the first time we witnessed community activism in action, and the power that volunteers can have on urban neighbourhoods. The Revue is now a mega-successful neighbourhood theatre, run by a not-for-profit group of locals.

In our neck of the woods, there's the Roxy, which was unfortunately turned into a Tim Horton's.....sigh.

However, we still have a single-screen theatre close to home. Thanks to the efforts of co-owners Nadia Sandhu and Jonathan Hlibka, the former Gerrard Cinema is now called The Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard) and runs "art, schlock, indie, foreign" films, as it says on their marquee. They've currently got a couple of great films running. Check out the schedule here. They've just celebrated their first anniversary!
Photo courtesy of BlogTO.

This community is very lucky to have their own rep cinema. Some of the best movies we've ever seen have been arthouse and/or indie films, hidden gems in the blockbuster movie metropolis. Small cinemas are hard to operate though, and unless we support the Projection Booth, it could suffer the same demise as the Roxy one day. So forget "the Batman" and take a gamble on an Irish psychological drama instead.....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photo fun

Pioneer loves history and can often be found perusing through old-timey photos on the Toronto archives site. Here are two of our neighbourhood that we wanted to share.

This is what Felstead Park used to look like:

Here is a 1936 photo of a Hollinger bus. Hollinger bus lines was East York's first bus service with a really interesting history. Hollinger himself started out driving one, lonely bus and in between fares, he would deliver milk to housewives. The line expanded rapidly, and during the war, Hollinger ran multiple bus lines to take factory workers from Leaside and East York all the way to the GECO (a major wartime industrial plant) on Birchmount Road. When the TTC took it over in 1954, it was the largest independent bus line taken over by the TTC. Every weekend, we can eat pancakes and eggs at the Bus Terminal cafe as a wonderful reminder of this legacy!


And this gem below is a peaceful look a Donalands, north of Glebeholme from 1948. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

TEGH and Safety

Over the past year, there have been two episodes of concern regarding mental health patients at Toronto East General Hospital. The shooting death of Michael Eligon on February 3 of this year, left the neighbourhood scared about flying bullets and patient safety. Last month, the city was on alert looking for another TEGH patient that had walked out of the mental health unit and disappeared (unofficially, the TEGH calls this an 'elopement').

A community meeting was organized last month and according to a Pioneer source, the hospital and 54 Division have both committed to working with the community to address ongoing safety concerns. One of the biggest challenges facing the hospital is that TEGH is undergoing a multi-year re-development project which, on top of more traffic nightmares, could quite possibly open up even more opportunities for safety issues to arise.


Here are two important items that Pioneer wanted to share:

a) If you are in a situation that you feel requires hospital security, for instance an eloping patient, you can call TEGH Securiy directly at (416) 469-6016. They have trained security staff that will respond 24/7.

b) Councillor Janet Davis has started a petition to bring a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team to TEGH and the area. These teams include a nurse trained in mental health support and a partner police officer. Their role is non-violent intervention and support during a mental health crisis. The petition was signed by community members at the community meeting and is being supported by community organizations such as DECA. Davis will be presenting this to LHIN to ask for funding in September. If you support this initiative, please don't hesitate to email the councillor's office with your endorsement. You can find all her contact information here.

Creating a safe community involves everyone's participation. While this re-energized relationship between councillors, the hospital, the community and the police is a great thing, it should not have been lacking in the first place. Will this renewed vigilance create an immediate effect on the neighbourhood? Probably, but maintaining it over the years will be the tough job.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just Peachy

It's August and Pioneer has so much to do and so little time!

In case you haven't seen the posters, or heard the buzz through the Mary-Margaret grapevine, East Lynn park is the place to be tomorrow (Thursday).

First up is the East Lynn Farmers' Market Peachfest - which you can read about over on DECA Diaries. This is the third year that the market is hosting a peachy extravaganza and it's worth attending, if only for the freshest Ontario peaches you can imagine (anybody else have childhood memories of mom's August peach cobbler???).

The festivities won't end with the market at 7:00. Instead of heading home, pull up a lawn chair, break out your picnic baskets and settle down to watch a movie under the stars. The film they are showing is the family-friendly animated comedy called Rio, which Pioneer can attest is pretty funny. So sit back and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

News Blast

Pioneer has made a whole bunch of discoveries this week and wanted to pass on the inside scoop.

First, a Pioneer neighbourhood filled us in on some changes at Sugarmoon spa (1509 Danforth). The good news is that Sugarmoon is growing and offering more and more aesthetic services, but the bad news is that they don't have space any longer to offer massage therapy. However, if you don't mind the long trek down to Leslieville, all of your favourite Sugarmoon massage therapists can be found at Hands On You at 349 Carlaw Ave. Alternately, within the neighbourhood, Bomb Wellness also has a cozy massage suite and their own RMT, so check out their website for more info - the bonus: he even makes house calls!

After months of passing by the gorgeous sidewalk alphabet all along Danforth, Pioneer has finally solved the mystery! We've discovered that a local artist by the name of Victor Fraser is behind this sidewalk art, and according to our sources, he has a whole bunch of cool projects in his portfolio. Stay tuned for more about Mr. Fraser and some of his recent international "installations.

And last but not least:

For years, Pioneer has been walking by the window display at Clay Bodies (1910 Danforth), hoping that the door would be open and we could be nosey and see what's inside. A chance encounter with a fellow fitness buff during a workout one morning, led us to another discovery: Clay Bodies is no longer. The sign is still up but alas, the studio space inside is a private studio space rented out by local artists. Pioneer has gotten the golden key to visit the space and see what's in the works for the Danforth East Arts Fair, so stay tuned for that in an upcoming post!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Saucy lady

Let's be honest....Pioneer has always wanted to write a post with a title called 'saucy lady', ha! It's a perfect segue into the news that the mysterious lounge called Sauce at 1376 Danforth will finally be opening it's doors this week. Thank goodness, because it had become a bit of a Pioneer obsession to scan the QR code in the window whenever we walked by.

When Pioneer stopped by for a first sneak peak, owners Michelle and Johnny were hard at work putting the finishing touches on their Victorian bordello, a concept that is hard to visualize until you step into the perfectly styled, crimson wallpapered space. With gilt mirrors, brocade walls, a player piano and bohemian chic stuffed armchairs, the space is the perfect place for a late night rendezvous, a stiff gentleman's drink or a night with the girls.

"I've been collecting great vintage pieces for years, and this is sort of the culmination of that collection, but now our house is empty. We've promised our kids we'll get new furniture soon," laughed Michelle.

Everyone who walks by will notice the lovingly restored stained glass window.

"It had been covered under a sign for thirty years or so, but local artist Victor Fraser immediately came to the rescue and helped us to restore it," Michelle explained.
Owners Michelle and Johnny ham it up at the player piano.

She and her partner Johnny have both been working in the restaurant and bar industry for two decades and after some time in the corporate world, Michelle decided that it was time to open up their own place close to home and close to their friends.

They say they want this to be a classic lounge. Indicative of the current backlash against "fancy cocktails", the pair are big fans of going back to the basics.

"We're talking way way back to the basics. Prohibition era drinks are the types of things we want to have on the menu," said Johnny. "But don't worry, there won't be any bathtub gin. We want only top shelf bourbons, tequilas etc. Things you can't find easily on the Danforth."

The pair are hoping they will be able to open this week, pending some administrative loose ends being tied up. A rear patio, with a secluded French Quarter flair, won't be open right away but is in the works for the near future. The lounge will also offer craft beers, and Pioneer is looking forward to their specialty cocktail in the works.

"It will probably be red," laughed Michelle. "Whatever colour it is though, there are going to be a few late nights ahead of us working on that surprise!"


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grills on!

The long weekend is almost here, and Pioneer knows that Daddy Pioneer will be itching to immediately turn on the barbecue and get some meat grillin'. We have a small confession to make though: We buy our meat (and most of our groceries) at big box grocery stores... sigh. I know, I know - we can hear the tears and hair pulling from here!! Shame on us. Not only are we not shopping local, but we are only a stone's throw from the best place on the Danforth to buy our much-needed long weekend BBQ sustenance. 

Royal Beef (1968 Danforth) is the place to head if you want something special. Over the years, we've passed by this bastion of beef many a time, but it has been at least a few years since we've gone in.  A recent visit was an eye opener when we noticed that a multitude of delicious, savoury, pre-marinated and speciality meats abound.  

Head butcher Jason Teasdale
Head butcher Jason Teasdale gave Pioneer a tour of what's ready to grill and it truly is astounding, but before we get into the meat of things, we should mention something important: almost 99% of Royal Beef meat is hormone and antibiotic free meat, purchased from mainly Canadian sources. Teasdale is passionate about this point - he also stressed there is a lot of gluten-free products available in store.

Owner Carmen and Teasdale couldn't agree whether they have 37 or 48 different types of in-house, gourmet burgers, but it didn't really matter. When they started rattling down a list of burgers such as steak and stilton, jerk chicken, turkey spinach feta and rosemary garlic lamb, Pioneer's mouth was watering (you had us at Stilton!). Teasdale pointed out that their Bison and Basil burgers are the most popular - at $5 a patty, it's a steal for bison and also the most nutritious meat you can consumer thanks to the gentle bison's diet of greens and more greens. 

Pioneer could have spent a small fortune on their marinated meats section, particularly their "flat" chicken breast packs drenched in Tandoori, Coconut Thai, Madras curry or Piri Piri marinade. The downside is that these pre-marinated options are quite pricey, but that's ok, because Daddy Pioneer is always a big spender on holiday weekends (the upside of our self-imposed 'staycations').

Happy grilling everyone!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Business (Not As Usual!)


Sometimes life’s ironies are incredible. Within the same 24 hours, I picked up a book that drastically impacted my way of thinking and received an email that showed me an example of exactly what I had been reading about.  It was fate. Let me explain:

Here in Canada, most of the general population would associate the name Richard Branson with a fledgling mobile phone company, Virgin music and possibly a crazy space flight. What most people don’t know (and now I do after reading Screw Business As Usual), is that Branson is a huge advocate of sustainable global change. What does that mean? I don’t want to act like a smarty-pants and rattle off stuff about corporate social responsibility, but in plain language: Instead of companies driving their employees to first and foremost turn a profit, the priority becomes making business decisions that will be good for the planet and good for the people, which will lead to better returns in the long run. Instead of just writing a golden cheque to charities, mobilize action that makes an impact. This means doing good for the community – whichever community around the world that happens to be.

Here on the Danforth, we have lots of examples of people who ‘do good’ for the community. Shortly after I started reading Branson’s book, I got an email from Victoria at BOMB Wellness. Victoria and her partner are invested in the Danforth both in their professional and their personal lives. They live a stone’s throw from their fitness studio at 1338 Danforth. I wrote about it here a few months ago. Victoria was writing to tell me about a new program they are involved in called the SOGO Active program, an initiative to get youth off the couch and combat the ‘inactivity crisis’.

Research and field study has proven that youth who have had the chance to exercise and/or play sports, have a better chance at a great future (building self-esteem and all that kind of good stuff), so I think BOMB is headed in the right direction – fitness is expensive and youth suffer when families can’t afford to send them to organized sports.

SOGO Active is amazing, because instead of just throwing exercise programs at youth, they actually provide the means for youth to pair up with community hosts, be creative and come up with challenges of their own. You don’t like kickboxing, but are the ‘bomb’ on the basketball court? How about a marathon game of 21!

The good news: As a SOGO community host, BOMB Wellness is offering free fitness classes to youth in the area for the month of August, with twenty 5-class cards to give out to youth between the ages of 14 and 19 so spread the word to anyone who you think might benefit. I’ve had the chance to get to know Victoria and Kevin over the past few months, and I suspect this is just the beginning of their donation to sustainable global change. They are making a difference, because profit is not their priority – they actually want to ‘do good’ for their community. Thanks guys!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rocket Juice

Photo courtesy of Red Rocket Coffee.
It's official! The rumours have been circulating for months that Red Rocket coffee (1364 Danforth) was going to get a Liquor License, and it's finally happened. The chic cafe (I will not call it a coffee shop anymore....) now offers some adult bevvies for all the 'ladies who lunch' and 'mommies who munch'.

Junior Pioneer 1 & 2 were having a staycation day today so we moseyed down to Red Rocket for some lemonade and the shiny new 'drinks' menues they have on all the tables caught our eye (and Junior Pioneer # 2 tried to eat...). The offerings are eclectic and mouth watering: they include craft beers (nothing from the big dogs here!), ciders and a great selection of vino (Pioneer's favourite).

Just a note on the vino: the Malivoire Old Vines Foch is an award winning wine. Ironically, Pioneer was looking at the 2012 Ontario Wine Awards winners just yesterday and noticed that it won a Gold in the Red Hybrid category. Also ironic: the LCBO doesn't carry that Malivoire just yet, so if you want to get it while its hot, Red Rocket is the place to head. Hmmmmm, Pioneer feels a wine tasting coming on! Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Once upon a market

Pioneer has been on vacation for a few weeks, but we're back with lots of summertime fun to blog about.

First thing, first: There's more to East Lynn Park than being able to cool your heels in the wading pool. If you've got little ones at home today, head over to East Lynn Farmers' Market this afternoon for some fun at the 3rd annual corn fest and family picnic.

Special guest Dan Yashinsky will be reading to the kids at 4:30. Yashinsky is a celebrated storyteller who started the Toronto Festival of Storytelling in 1979 and in the past has been the City of Toronto's storyteller-in-residence and a storytelling radio host. If you were going to hear a story told, this is the guy you want to hear it from!

Afterwards, local band Bad Dog will be hosting a live sing-a-long at 5:00. All this and fresh boiled corn too - head over to the DECA tent and pick up a cob of corn for $2.

A second bit of news is that the Starbucks at Coxwell and O'Connor is finally open so if you're heading to the highway, watch out for Starbucks minions handing out free samples, yum!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bakers Delight

How many times have you been driving down O'Connor - destination most likely the Depot - and wondered about the restaurant called Jawny Bakers at the corner of St. Clair? Pioneer has been down that road at least once, if not a thousand times, in the past five years and finally decided it was high time to see what this place was all about. 

It was a Friday evening of a long weekend, and with no cottage to get away to, the Pioneer clan was looking for a place to eat that was both relaxing and able to withstand the pressures of family dining. We found both of these at Jawny Bakers (804 O'Connor Drive), and can not believe we didn't find out about this gem sooner. 

Jawny Baker's is like a local version of the Keg, perhaps even what the Keg looked like once upon a time. It's decor is comfy without being overstuffed, classy without being snobby, and inviting in the kind of 'we're your best friends cottage in the city' way. When we first arrived, the host was completely unfazed by the stroller or the bellowing four year old, and settled us into a very stroller-compatible booth without blinking an eye. No wonder Today's Parent listed it as one of the best family restaurants in Canada!

Pioneer is completely stealing this ultimate 'local subculture' design idea: the lamp shades that hang over every table are decorated with the names of all the streets in East York. Kitschy? Maybe to a west-ender, but not for us! 

Although they call themselves a gastropub, the menu is a list of pretty conventional eats with some interesting daily specials. It's also not cheap - don't mistake this place for a typical pub 'n grub spot. Pioneer wouldn't say the food that we ordered was spectacular either, but it really does the trick and we weren't really looking for fine dining. The portions are large and the quality is fresh - what more can we ask for when the other option is 'fine dining' on frozen pizza at home. 

Our only regret was not eating on the 'secluded' patio - a grand illusion achieved by mountains of foliage on the patio adjacent to the dining room. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Weekend Edition

For some Torontonians, nothing says Canada Day long weekend like the long drive north to the cottage. For this city gal though, spending time in your own neighbourhood is just as awesome, particularly when you live around Danforth East.

This past weekend was a 'stay-cation' for the Pioneer clan, but there was no end of fun things for us to do.

During the Friday night heat wave, Daddy Pioneer and I walked over to Hirut restaurant (2050 Danforth) to watch Hirut Hoot, a comedy show organized by a comedian we blogged about here. Aside from the bellyful of laughs, we also had a bellyful of amazing Ethiopian food. We ordered the vegetarian appetizer plate and for $12, it was more than enough food to feed both of us (although it WAS our second dinner - our first dinner was at Jawny Bakers......stay tuned for more on that resto later in the week!). Domestic beers were $4, pricing akin to Daddy Pioneer's university days.

Although things were supposed to be closed on Monday, our most valuable possessions along the Danforth ie. our coffee shops and bakeries, were all open. Junior Pioneer's newest obsession is the raspberry lemonade from Red Rocket, which we picked up on our way to White Water Kingdom. Woops, sorry, I meant Monarch Park Pool which opened this weekend and is all kitted out with its new water slide.  There are not many neighbourhoods in urban Toronto that can count a water slide as one of its assets (approximately six). We are really lucky to be close to this gem. It definitely brought out the kid in Pioneer....you could probably hear our whoopin' and hollerin' on the way down all the way to Woodbine (more than one time!!). 





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