Archive | May, 2012

An Evening Stroll Around Casa Loma

30 May

I am upset that I missed Doors Open Toronto which took place this last weekend.   I am making a resolution right now to mark my calendar for 2013 and explore as many historical buildings as I can.  Toronto has so many well-known landmarks that I always wanted to see…De La Salle College “Oaklands”, Osgood Hall, Upper Canada College, Campbell House and the Casa Loma Stables.  I have been Casa Loma before but I didn’t have a chance to tour the Stables across the street from the castle.

98 rooms, 30 bathrooms, 25 fireplaces, 3 bowling alleys, a 50-meter shooting gallery, a wine cellar (temperature-controlled) capable of holding 1,700 bottles, an 18-meter indoor swimming pool and an underground tunnel connecting Casa Loma to the stables.  The castle’s original ovens in the kitchen were so big that they could cook an entire ox.  That’s quite a family home!

The stalls in the Stables were made from the best quality mahogany and each horse’s name was written out in 18-karat gold letters.

Looks like the horses lived better than many Toronto residents at that time.

No expense was spared on creating and maintaining this residence but the family fortune didn’t last.  The owner died broken and penniless.  What a sad, sad story.

I wonder if there is an individual rich enough to buy this property now and restore it to its’ full glory.









Balcony Garden Update – Week 2

27 May

All herbs, flowers and vegetables grew so much since we planted them two weeks ago:





2 Ways To Celebrate Mother’s Day

13 May

For the last several years my daughter took me to High Tea to celebrate Mother’s Day. This year I had different ideas how to spend this day:
– a home-made meal


– to have some quality time by planting our balcony garden.

I tried shakshuka for the first time in Israel back in March.  Sadly, I  couldn’t fully enjoy it as we traveled during Lent and I wasn’t eating eggs.  My daughter did a wonderful job re-creating this dish and I was treated to a tasty breakfast of shakshuka and a cold-brewed coffee.  As much as love cooking it is nice when somebody makes food just for you.

The garden centers at Lowe’s and Home Depot in my area had a limited selection of plants so we drove to Fiesta Farm instead.  Let me tell you, having too many choices sometimes  can be a bad thing.  6 kinds of tomatoes, 4 types of basil, several varieties of strawberries….we were overwhelmed! After 2.5 hrs and a 100 something dollars later a selection was made.

Our  generic glass-and-steele balcony instantly transforms into an inviting space with the help of some planted flowers.    It’s so much more enjoyable to spend time in our little outdoor area during warm summer months surrounded by greenery.

We always plant flowers and a couple of herbs.  To make things more interesting my daughter and I decided to have a little competition by planting different herbs and see who’s crop is more abundant.  Each one of us picked 4 different herbs. I will be documenting the progress and we will compare our results at the end of the season.   P.S.  Dina will be the Head Judge since she’s always chilling on the balcony in summer and smelling plants 🙂

The Judge at work. She is very serious about her duties.

My box has  Golden Sage, Lemon Balm, Thai Basil and Rosemary:

My daughter’s box has Immortality Herb, Dark Opal Basil, Peppermint and Thyme:

These are the flowers:

We are feeling ambitious: some sugar snap peas and mini-tomatoes.

The competition is on!

A Trip To The Farmers’ Market

12 May

Last week I read about the The Stop’s Farmers Market in the premier issue of Village Living Magazine.  The market is located at the Artscape Wychwood Barns (St. Clair Avenue West and Christie) , less than a 10-minute drive from my place. I absolutely had to go and check it out!

After a light breakfast which we had on a sunny balcony off we went.

Eggs with pesto in grilled tomato baskets

I was concerned about parking on a busy street but we found a spot fairly easily.  The Barns are so cool! In the past they were built as maintenance buildings for Toronto streetcars, and each building (5 in total) indicates a year in which they were built.

Wychwood Barns, Building 5

These days the buildings are used to house artists, a greenhouse, a market place. They even have an outdoor volleyball space as well as a kids’ playground. What a great way to re-use a former industrial property!

I liked the vibe of the market – there were lots of people who shopped at their own pace, no shopping carts bumping around.  The vendors are nice and willing to give you details about their foods and products. We didn’t feel pressured to buy anything. The first thing we tried was an Iced Mexican Hot Chocolate.  We got a small cup as I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Hot Chocolate when it’s not hot.  It was divine! Not too sweet (which I like), rich with chocolaty flavor and surprisingly very refreshing.  I thought I would want another cup but it was just enough to satisfy a craving.

An artsy display of carrots and potatoes.

They were asking to come home with me 🙂

Next time I’ll try goose eggs!

Foods we bought for our dinner tonight:

an artisan bread with walnuts and raisins, a wedge of aged goat cheese in a peppercorn coating, a dozen of large free-range chicken eggs, organic chicken drums, 1/2 lb of carrots and a bag of organic mixed salad greens.

This is the final product:

Toasted bread with cheese.

Mixed greens salad with grapefruit, cheese and walnuts.

Ginger/cumin roasted carrots with cilantro and lime juice.

Braised chicken with whole garlic cloves, potatoes and apples.

It is pricey but the food is organic and local.   I would definitely visit the market again to enjoy the local produce at its best.

Milton Farm Spring Craft Show

9 May

My former student and a fellow Salsa dancer Thomas C. designs and manufactures unique jewelry pieces.  His company is Darnel & Co.  We ran into him at a friend’s pre-wedding bash a week before and he invited us to visit his booth at the Milton Farm Spring Craft Show.  It was Thomas’ first time as a vendor and we wanted to come out and cheer him on.

He even built his own cabinets and displays!

The Show was held inside and outside at County Heritage Park.

Puslinch Township Hall built in 1867.

There was a lot of original work for sale by the local artisans.  I haven’t expected to see so much cat-inspired art: cat-shaped throw pillows made of antique sugar sacks cloth, funky cat dishes, a whole rack of t-shirts dedicated to some hard-core cat lovers.  Too bad we didn’t find anything suitable for Dina there.  My boyfriend caved in and bought a magnetic bracelet which has numerous health benefits. My pick at the Show is the Alphabet Photography Booth.  Unfortunately, it was not possible (for obvious reasons) to take any pictures of their work.  The artist would photograph various objects that resemble letters and then collage them to create any  words or names.  How cool is that? It would make a unique gift for someone special (wink, wink).

County Heritage Park has a cool collection of antique farm equipment and vintage tractors.

Stationary steam engine built in 1900. It supplied power at the National Table Co. of Owen Sound, ON.

Stationary Diesel Engine built in 1939. This model was a power source for the Hutton’s Feed Mill in Wellburn, ON until 1979.

We had some Hawaiian Kona Coffee at the Show but… an outing for me is not an outing unless I eat.  The food at the Show was a typical fast food fare: burgers, hot dogs and fries so we decided to look for other options in Milton.

My <3!

We ended up having an excellent meal at Casa Americo on Main Street.  Our food (muscles in a spicy garlic tomato sauce and a Chicken Parmigiana Panini) was washed down with some off-dry White Zinfandel.  Yummy!

Main Street, Milton

Us in a full Eastern-European glory. Well, maybe only half-glory…no high heels 😛

Perfect ending to a perfect day!

Cherry Blossom Walk

3 May

I have never liked spring, it has a mind of its own.  The unexpected “heat wave” in March was just a tease. We had days that felt like summer only to be followed by more cold spells.  Last Friday I saw flurries while driving to work.  Flurries in April!!!  These words should not even be in the same sentence.  And then there is spring cleaning.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love when my place is clean but I absolutely loath cleaning.  That’s a good reason not to like spring, don’t you think?

However I do like longer days, warmer weather and all the flowers that are starting to come up.  The blooming cherry blossoms in Toronto’s High Park is a must see!

Spring is here!

The trees look like they are wrapped in a pink foam.

These flowers are so delicate.

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