Hometown Tourist: Holiday Markets in Toronto

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – the halls are decked, Christmas carols have hit the airwaves and Santa has come to town – which means it’s time to start Christmas shopping! Both H and I are all about shopping local, especially during the holiday season. Not only do you get to avoid hellish conditions at the mall, you’re able to give a unique gift while supporting Toronto’s local makers and independent businesses. Toronto is full of amazing pop-up markets this time of year where you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list.

Here are six not to be missed markets.


DIY: The On Crawford St. Guide to Creating Your Wedding Registry

Here's something you may not know - J and I are just 10 short months away from our wedding! We've slowly ticked items off our to-do list; venue, flowers, decor, DJ, limo... check, check and check. But before we take our trip up the aisle, we need to put together our registry. J and I had just started considering what we'd need to live happily ever after when Williams-Sonoma asked H and I to put together some tips and tricks on creating a registry. Needless to say we jumped at the chance!

After a lot of thought, here's our ultimate guide to creating a wedding registry.


Hometown Tourist: The Sorauren Park Pumpkin Parade

Halloween has always been my favourite holiday. As soon as October rolls around I start planning my costume, listening to this, spending way too much time watching this and daydreaming of spending Halloween here. And while I love these traditions, I'm always looking for new ways to celebrate the best holiday ever.


Food and Drink: Beignets Inspired By Chef

My favourite scene in the movie Chef is when Carl and his son visit Café du Monde in New Orleans, famous for their Beignets. As they stroll through the French Market savouring the powdered sugar topped morsels, Carl turns to his son and says "Eat it slow. You're never going to taste your first Beignet again. They don't taste like this anywhere else in the world."


Food and Drink: Arroz con Pollo Inspired By Chef

Part two of my Chef inspired Cuban dinner featured Arroz con Pollo. Though not prominently featured in the film, there is a scene in Miami where John Leguizamo yells the menu out to hungry beach-goers. You know, right before Russell Peters shows up.


Food and Drink: Sam Adams, Chocolate Chip and Candied Prosciutto Cookies with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sam Adams Beer Caramel

It is possible that there is nothing in this world that we like better than cookies...except beer. So when Branding & Buzzing approached us about their #SaminHand project we could not say yes fast enough! We racked our brains trying to come up with something that would be both unique and delicious, and after discarding more than a few awesome ideas - Beer and Butter Poached Shrimp; Beer Risotto - we settled on a Chocolate Chip, Sam Adams Beer and Candied Prosciutto Cookies. We used Sam Adams Boston Lager, which we picked up at our local Beer Store. The Boston Lager has a rich, hoppy flavour with notes of citrus and caraway seed.  


Food and Drink: Cubanos Inspired By Chef

A few weeks ago J and I checked out Chef the movie, at The Revue on Roncesvalles. Chef follows Carl Casper through a social media spat with a famous food blogger, the loss of his restaurant job and his re-emergence as a Cuban food truck sensation. The movie itself is hilarious and heartwarming, with an all-star cast featuring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara and John Leguizamo. However, the real star of this movie is the food - delicious Cubanos, Pasta Aglio e Olio, Tostones and more. 


DIY: The Wedding

So all the months of planning finally payed off! Here is a sneak peek at Cait and Bill's wedding! Despite the the rain, the wedding went off without a hitch and I can't imagine it turning out any better than it did.

I spent so much time prepping on the wedding day I barely managed to put on my dress let alone take any photos - but here are the few that I snapped with my phone. I patiently await the beautiful shots from the fantastic photographer Kate Hood, who will hopefully be kind enough to allow me to post some on the blog! Stay tuned!

Ps. As much as I loved planning the wedding, handling the flowers was my favourite part. I've fallen in love with Juliet Roses! The photo above is of the bouquets - mainly Cait's - and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out!


Food and Drink: Caramel and Sriracha Popcorn

When I reach for a snack I tend to gravitate to foods that combines salty, sweet, spicy and crunchy. Enter Caramel and Sriracha Popcorn, a perfectly balanced snack where each flavour is an equal player. Be warned, this snack is addictive! It's also the perfect accompaniment to a cocktail... may I suggest an Elderflower Spritz?


What We Read: Treasures & Travels

We're heading to Vancouver in August! It'll be my first real vacation in I don't know how long and I'm super excited to go back to the city where I spent my formative years. So, it was just my luck when I stumbled upon a Vancouver based blog that had me yearning for August 5th even more than usual. Enter Treasures & Travels - a blog by three lovely Vancouverites writing about the things they love around their city. They write about DIY, fashion, recipes, beauty and places; just about anything you could ask for.

I'm a new reader, but I've already come across more than a few favourite posts so far. When planning a trip the first thing I always think about is food, and where to eat breakfast is high on my list of priorities. They've also started a section called A Month of, which is currently featuring weddings (which we all know I eat, sleep, and breathe these days) and last month's theme was breakfast! Who could resist that?! So show a little blog love and check them out today!


DIY: Kitchen Refresh Inspiration

In a couple of weeks I get to move into my first apartment with A! Since A has already lived in the apartment for two years I don't need to bring much with me, but as an avid DIY-er and interior design nut I do have an intense need to nest. I've already decided that the kitchen will be my first project. While no one would consider me a cook, A is, so we spend a surprising amount of time in our tiny kitchen. We get a lot of natural light, but the current paint is a dingy yellowed white. The plan is to paint both the cabinets and walls, but what I'm most excited about is getting new cabinet hardware. I desperately want to purchase knobs from Anthropologie, but I have acknowledged that they are way out of my price range. With that in mind, I went in search of the DIY inspiration - and included some of my favourites! The kitchen refresh won't get started until the end of July, but check back then to see the before and afters!


Got A Little Free Time This Weekend? Head To The Junction Flea!

Good news, The Junction Flea is back! That's right, the outdoor market is kicking off the 2014 season with it's first Flea of the year at the Evergreen Brick Works. Head East, via the free shuttle, and spend the day perusing a mix of independent vendors selling antiques, handmade craft+design, food, vintage clothing, records and more.

The monthly market kicks off this Sunday, but make sure to mark your calendar with the rest of the upcoming dates:

  • BRICK WORKS FLEA, Sunday, May 18, 2014
  • STERLING ROAD FLEA, Sunday, June 8, 2014
  • JUNCTION JUBILEE!, Saturday, June 21, 2014
  • STERLING ROAD FLEA, Sunday, July 13, 2014
  • BRICK WORKS FLEA, Sunday, July 20, 2014
  • STERLING ROAD FLEA, Sunday, August 10, 2014
  • BRICK WORKS FLEA, Sunday, August 17, 2014
  • STERLING ROAD FLEA, Sunday, September 14, 2014
  • STERLING ROAD FLEA, Sunday, September 21, 2014
  • STERLING ROAD FLEA, Sunday, October 12, 2014
  • BRICK WORKS FLEA, Sunday, October 19, 2014

Click here to check out our first trip to the Junction Flea, way back in 2012!

Image via junctionflea.com


DIY: Wedding Games Inspiration

What's a wedding without games? As I continue planning my cousin's wedding, the question of the reception has come up. More specifically, how to keep guests entertained while photos are taking place. We're fortunate enough to be holding the wedding at a lakeside cottage so we have room for some good old-fashioned fun. Think family reunion fun from when you were a kid and you'll get the idea! These are a few cheap and cheerful options we're considering...


Shop: One of A Kind Online

As far as I'm concerned, this is pretty big news. I might have mentioned before that the ladies of On Crawford St. are huge fans of the One of A Kind Show, and our only sadness is that it happens only once a year. Today, I got an email that turned my day around. One of A Kind will launch their new online store! Now I know there are some really great websites to buy handmade already (Etsy, you know I love you), but my love for the bi-annual show prompted me to sign up to be one of the first to shop the new online shop. Just in case you share my enthusiasm, here's the link to get your very own invite!

Ps. Above is one of my favourite One of A Kind show purchases!


Food and Drink: Elderflower Spritz

On the first Sunday in April, J and I took a long afternoon stroll in the bright, spring sunshine. We meandered our way south from Little Italy, through the park - Trinity Bellwoods, naturally - and west across Queen Street into Parkdale. 


What We Read: Bridal Blogs

Since getting engaged last November, J and I have thrown ourselves headfirst into wedding planning. We've discussed colour schemes, met with florists and decor companies and scouted possible locations for an engagement photo shoot. Before getting engaged, I never gave a second thought to all the little details that go into planning a wedding. There are tons of options and the potential to be overwhelmed is very real. A number of my “Mrs” friends suggested that I gather ideas from wedding blogs. I started with the usual suspects; Weddingbells, 100 Layer Cake, Wedluxe and The Wedding Co. While these were a great place to start, I soon realized that my style was a little different… slightly quirky, you could say. I decided to dive a little further into the world of wedding blogs and carve out a list of favourites.


Food and Drink: Apple Galette with Butterscotch Whiskey Sauce and Cinnamon Walnut Streusel

Today we’re talking about Galette, a fancy French word for free-form tarts. These rustic pies can be large or individually sized, sweet or savoury and made with any filling you can imagine. Plus, they are ridiculously easy to make; you don’t need a pie plate or any special gadgets. This Galette would be perfect for dessert, served warm with vanilla ice cream, or as part of brunch.


What We Read: Quaintrelle

Ashley Bartlett is a self-described Toronto gal who always walks on the sunny side of the street. She’s a PR girl by day and a cultivator of life’s little pleasures the rest of the time. Her labour of love Quaintrelle delivers the same cheerful outlook. Quaintrelle focuses on beauty, style, art, culture, design and décor - usually interspersed between beautiful images, musings on life and personal portraits of glamorous women.


DIY: Wedding Centrepiece Inspiration

So sometime last year V and I were wandering around The Junction and I came across these vintage sap buckets at Metropolis and have since become obsessed. At the time I didn't pick them up and have been kicking myself ever since. The problem was originally I had no idea what to use them for. Of course, when I started planning my cousin's wedding and decided to take on the flowers myself I knew immediately what I wanted to put the centrepieces in. While I'm still undecided about the flower composition (and you know that inspo will be another post!) here's a few ideas of my flower vessel of choice!


Food and Drink: Thai Mango Salad

To complete my delicious Thai dinner, I made a quick and easy Mango Salad. The combination of sweet and spicy flavours, the contrast in textures between the soft mangoes, crunchy peppers and peanuts, is a perfect way to cleanse the palate after such a rich and flavourful meal.


Food and Drink: Satay Beef with Coconut Peanut Sauce

To go with my Coconut and Kaffir Lime Thai Stew, I whipped up a batch of Satay Beef complete with a peanut dipping sauce. The secret to a tasty Satay is the marinade - the longer the beef marinates, the better it will taste. The best part of this dish is definitely how easy it is to make and the perfectly balanced flavours you get in every bite, of course.


What We Read: Homepolish

So I might have fallen in love...with a new website. We all know that Pinterest is a fantastic place to go searching for design inspiration, and even a quick Google search can lead you in all different directions, but this website that I have stumbled upon (thank you Refinery 29 for leading me there) is like porn for interior designers. Homepolish is actually a website for a company whose goal is to make design services available to everyone, regardless of budget. While I'm a big fan of the idea, (sadly, they are currently US-centric), what really gets me is their Featured Projects section. It combines great design with my second favourite love, great photography. Take a look for yourself!

Now, if only we could get them to expand to Toronto...


Food and Drink: Coconut and Kaffir Lime Thai Stew

Recently I decided to try my hand at making a homemade Thai dinner, with Green Curry as the main. But, I had a slight dilemma...two of my dinner guests (ahem, mom and sister) are both opposed to curry, saying that it is too fragrant for their palettes. I took this as a challenge and decided to make a Coconut and Kaffir Lime Thai Stew - or a curry-less green curry. 


Hometown Tourist: Ripley's Aquarium

On Wednesday, A and I finally went to the aquarium. It's taken us at least 6 months to find a time that we could go without it being so busy we couldn't see the fish. Well, after all the buildup it did not disappoint. My advice would be to go on a weekday as you'll have the best chance of seeing everything you want and you can pet a stingray to boot! By far, my favourite part had to be the underwater tunnel. I couldn't take pictures fast enough! Here's just a fraction of some the amazing things you'll get to see when you visit.
PS. The rather majestic lion fish above was my favourite. He posed for me!


Food and Drink: Lobster Grilled Cheese

There's nothing as comforting as a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Grilled cheese is a classic snack that carries a certain amount of nostalgia. Eating grilled cheese always reminds me of the days when my best friend C and I would spend Friday nights snacking on her dad's expertly prepared grilled cheese, watching TGIF. But the thing I love most about grilled cheese is that the possibilities for flavour combinations are endless - you can literally do no wrong!


DIY: Wedding Bouquet Inspiration

So wedding is a word we hear a lot around On Crawford St. these days. Not only is my lovely partner in crime planning her nuptials, but my cousin has recently asked me to plan her summer wedding in Muskoka. Now everyone knows how much I love a good DIY, so handling the flowers ourselves seemed like a no-brainer to me!

While I'll definitely have to do a few practice runs - and a couple of test bouquets for the bride to approve - I thought I'd get a head start on pulling my inspiration images and adding them to my Pinterest wedding board (which is secret of course). While I still don't know exactly what the bouquets will consist of I'm leaning towards either wild flowers or peonies in a white and blush colour story. 

Stay tuned for more upcoming wedding inspiration posts, and eventually, the DIY and finished projects come June!

Images Via: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 


Food and Drink: Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

You'll have to excuse me, this post is (approximately) two months late. But it's a Whoopie Pie recipe that's just too good not to share. Ignore the references to Christmas, make these delicious little pies and eat them while relaxing in front of a roaring fire during the next snow fall.


Toronto Artisans: Ali Laure

I originally came across Ali Laure jewelry in my daily check of all of my favourite blogs. Upon clicking over to her Facebook page and Etsy shop I quickly became obsessed with the pieces, so when V and I sat down to decide who we wanted to work with next Ali Laure was on the top of my list. Naturally I was beyond excited when designer Ali Clarke, of Ali Laure, agreed to chat with the ladies of On Crawford St. and give us a peek into one of our new favourite local businesses.


Toronto Artisans: Pillow Talk

H and I first came across Pillow Talk last summer at Dundas West Fest, a local street festival celebrating one of Toronto's coolest neighbourhoods. Pillow Talk focuses on hand-painted, custom pillows created by interior designers Melanie Brown and Robin Schurman. We were lucky enough to pick their brains about design, their amazing product, and starting up their own business. 

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