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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.