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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Saucy & Sassy

If you're anything like Pioneer and don't have a cottage (or campsite) to get away to for the long weekend, then it's time for a strategic plan of how we are all going to spend our long weekend on Danforth East.

Our first pick for your "cottage away from the cottage" experience is Jawny Bakers at St Clair & O'Connor. We blogged about their patio oasis and cottage charm last summer and have been regulars ever since. 

If you don't have children to worry about, a sunny afternoon on Sauce's new Courtyard patio will have you humming Oh When The Saints under your breath. It is definitely Pioneer's misfortune to have missed out on this gem almost all summer long. Owners Johnny & Michelle are New Orleans passionistas and have created a perfect Louisiana oasis (and with the humidity this weekend, it will almost feel like February in nu or-linz). We tried our best to get their secret hurricane recipe, but Johnny (who fancies a Pimms Cup on any given day) says the only secret is to put more booze in than juice. Hip hip Hooray! This coming long weekend, Michelle will be on the back patio making margaritas and blender drinks, so don't miss out. 

One thing synonymous with cottage country is quaint shops and browsing for antiques, both of which you can actually accomplish along Danforth East. We love LEN, first and foremost but Pioneer has also discovered (at long last!) the mini fashion district in our hood - east of McDonalds on the south side of Danforth (and even one new shop on the north side). Hours have been spent pouring over racks at pop-up shop In This Closet, which literally has some of the best vintage retail in the city. Although we didn't quite fit into the sassy Black Halo seductress dress, there was so much more to choose from. You can see it all on their Instagram page here. In This Closet, Cheap Thrills and (SALES!) are all open this weekend, so reacquant yourself with your wallet and support our high street.

On the antiques side of things - Treasure Land (2038 Danforth) has an odd assortment of kitsch and crap, but sometimes you can actually find buried treasure. Happy hunting!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Arts Fair Shopping

Gorgeous necklace by Pikay Creations.
Now that school is almost back in session, Pioneer has been spending the last few lazy days of summer getting into fall shopping mode. Of course the priority is kitting out the JPs (Junior Pioneers) with back to school duds, but sometimes we need to take a break from school uniforms and drool over some delicious local arts and crafts. Lucky for us, it's only a few weeks until the Danforth East Arts Fair (DEAF) on Sept 14 - 15 and we've already been scoping out our juicy finds in advance thanks to Pinterest! You can get your crafty fix here:

Don't forget to follow Pioneer on Pinterest here! Stay tuned for more #DEAF13 sneak peaks and artist previews.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last Friday Night

One complaint we've heard often from other pioneers in the 'hood is about the sheer number of dingy dives along the Danforth. We've passed by the dirty dozen hundreds of times, but to our surprise a recent adventure revealed that you can't judge a book by its cover!

We know that secretly everyone likes to belt out their favourite tunes, a la Katie Perry, in the car with the windows rolled up so no-one can hear. Not everyone is like Pioneer, who always gladly accepts karaoke invitations. Last Friday night was one of those nights, and to our delight, we didn't have to walk far to get down and diva.

There's a tiny bar just east of Monarch Park called Sportster's, and from the outside, it looks kind of grungy and is mostly overshadowed by the patio at Sarah's (not much better if you ask Pioneer!). Inside though is a clean and cozy watering hole that offers up a great atmosphere for group karaoke every Friday night. Pioneer and some party animal neighbours (ok, a bunch of mom and dads who don't get out much) rocked out on the microphone for at least a few hours, revealing more than a few secret divas in the 'hood. A group ensemble of Dancing Queen was probably the highlight, much to the amusement of every passersby and patio patrons a few doors down. 

The wine selection is awful, and the bar rail nothing fabulous, but really - if you're in a legitimate sports bar, just order some beer (not on tap!). If you're not into karaoke, the owner Lily says that they have soccer games on all the time which packs the room during a good match. But hey, anyone up for a round of Danforth's Got Talent?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beautiful Things

Pioneer has returned from a very lazy summer hiatus, and back to discovering all the hidden gems that have popped up over the last few months - and literally, this hidden gem was actually a DECA pop-up shop before becoming a beautiful, permanent space at the corner of Coxwell and Danforth. You may remember Pioneer blogged about 698 Coxwell back here, when it was another small retail niche called S Sense In Design. We heard rumours that a new shop had opened up here, and kept noticing the cute red chairs out front so we had to check it out (on the way, we finally picked up our handmade indigo pillows on hold at the Pillow Shoppe, much to Daddy Pioneer's dismay....)

The gorgeous, light-filled space has since been taken over by LEN - democratic purveyors of fine art & beautiful things. Warning: If you don't like beautiful things, or fine art or anything made by local artisans and crafters, please do not read any further. Thank goodness Pioneer likes democratically purveyed baubles of delight since this is what LEN is filled to the brim with: irresistible finds of all shapes and sizes.

Pioneer is always drawn to jewelry first, so of course we had to get a full tour of the display case by proprietor Christal Pshyk. Beautiful silver earrings from Janet Stein are mixed with Rimanchik leather bracelets from Montreal and bohemian crystal bead necklaces by local jeweller Csilla Marki. All things that are perfect for BFF birthday gifts, or kicking stocking stuffers up a notch (yah...with two Junior Pioneers around, we're already prepping for Christmas....).

We really want to stress the uniqueness of everything at LEN. It's reminiscent of the Drake General
Store - for those of you who remember a time when shopping for curated cool was combined with a leisurely Sunday brunch along Queen West..... At LEN, their stationary is not just stationary, their fine art is not mass-produced and their well-priced glassware is shipped from France.

Once you discover the handmade Canadiana cards by local artists Sarah Deacon (Grade Eh Designs) & Wendy Tancock, you'll be looking for occasions to send greeting cards far and wide. The Duralex glassware was brought in specifically for young families looking for non-breakable glassware for their kids (anyone else sick of plastic IKEA tumblers cluttering up your cupboards??). And if those things are not appealing, the yummy aroma of all their lotions and potions will surely pique your curiousity.

Proprietors David and Christal are newly native to Toronto, and they bring a delectable dose of their west coast style, cool curation and eye for detail to this little bohemian but modern space that would belong on the High Street anywhere in the world.

Check out all our beautiful finds on Pinterest!