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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:

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: 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.