A Toronto Transformation


My Top 5 Meals in Toronto – Summer 2017

One of the best things (if not the best thing) about living in Toronto, is the food. Living in such a multicultural city brings the world’s cuisines to your fingertips, and the world has a lot to offer! With so many delicious options, it can be hard to know where to start, so to help you out, here are 5 of the best meals/restaurants I discovered or rediscovered this summer!

  1. Light Cafe – This Taiwanese-inspired cafe boasts beautiful caffeinated beverages and scrumptious lunch and dessert fare. The smoked duck breast salad with poppyseed dressing and the lobster bisque are mouthwateringly good and the Baldwin Village space is clean, bright and casually elegant (they even have a living wall).

Light Cafe Toronto



2. Midfield Wine Bar – We popped into Midfield for a light lunch recently and can’t wait to head back to try some of their impressive selection of wine (they have so much, they’ve got a designated “not wine” menu!) Their chicken burger was super-tasty and their grilled romaine was a delicate little treat!


3. Pray Tell – Pray Tell’s brunch is worth braving the construction-riddled section of College street west of Ossington. Short rib benny on a savoury danish and coconut batter sprinkle waffles anyone? Plus the place is full of plants and cool Scandanavian furnishings.


4. Cafe Cancan – This spot has been on my list to try since it opened and I saw that the new owners had somehow made the previously very pretty Harbord Room location SO MUCH PRETTIER! Luckily, this is a case where you can judge the book by its cover, because the food is as delectable as the decor!

Cafe CanCan Toronto


5. AF1 Caribbean Canteen – Little Italy isn’t the first place I’d think to look for tasty Caribbean food, but I was lured in by the scintilating smells coming from their barbecues and was not disappointed. Their jerk chicken and peppered shrimp were SO good and I hear the oxtail is amazing, although I’ve yet to try it because it’s always sold out!

AF1 Caribbean Canteen

Did you discover any great new (or new to you) Toronto restuarants this summer? Let us know in the comments! 

5 Things that Made Me Laugh This Week

1. My mom referring to the band U2 as “Youtube” and immediately begging me not to tell my brother as I howled away (sorry, mom).

2. The idea of leaving people anonymous notes that just said “stop it” with no context provided.

3. The old-timey absurdity of Angie Tribeca. Have you watched it? It has all the dad joke humour I love, plus Rashida Jones. What’s not to like?

4. When I treated my hair to a coconut/lemon olive oil wrap (yes, my head smelled DELICIOUS) in an effort to give it a break from some of the heat styling damage I’ve done to it lately. After shampooing and rinsing about six times, I tried to let it air dry, and thought everything was fine until I woke up Thursday morning with the coiffure of a wet muskrat and no time for another rinse before work. Ha. Ha. Ha.

5. This stupid, stupid old vine. Because it always makes me laugh.

What had you chuckling this week? 

Toronto’s Wildlife is Trying to Tell Me Something

Pink and purple flowers in a Toronto garden

Last week while I was enjoying a lunchtime picnic -for-one on a bench by a wee garden near my office, out of the corner of my eye I caught a tiny movement from the undergrowth to my right.

I had just enough time to think “chipmunk?” before the thing came streaking towards me. I shrieked “Woooooo!” in what I would like to think was a verrry dignified manner as it bumped gently into the side of my foot before scurrying back into the garden on the other side of the bench. I glimpsed its tail in the split second before it disappeared and realized that it was not in fact a chipmunk, but a small rat. Or a large mouse.

Because my life is clearly a thrill-a-minute at the moment, I found this little city wildlife adventure fairly exciting.

Until today that is.

This afternoon as I was sitting on a bench in an entirely different little garden finishing another solo lunch (I actually do have friends, I promise), I felt something come in contact with the back of my neck.

I involuntarily shuddered and reached back to slap it away as it lingered oddly for a moment, then turned my head slowly as I tried to figure out what the hell had just touched me. It felt so strange that I wondered for a second if someone had snuck through the tall grass behind me to cop a nervous feel? Of my neck? I’m usually pretty aware of my surroundings, but I did have excellent ear buds in so I guessed it was distantly possible. There was a guy in Toronto a while back who was slithering up behind women with long hair and fondling it. I glared into the garden behind me for a minute, then shrugged and turned back to pack up my lunch and reapply my lipstick.

I stood up, turned to make sure I wasn’t leaving anything behind and froze.

Five feed to the left of me was a low railing and on that low railing was the biggest damn hawk I’ve ever seen.

I swear to you, it was two feet tall.

We stared at each other for ten seconds while I grappled with my phone (which was still in selfie mode from the lipstick application – damn my vanity!) and he took off before I could snap a picture.

Watching him fly away I realized that’s exactly what that mysterious sensation on my neck had been. Not the nervous, fluttery fingers of a creepy hair molester, but the fluttery wings of a curious hawk doing a low fly-by!

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here. That my hair looks like a delicious squirrel from above when I wear it in a messy, low bun? That I am weird, (and kind of gross), urban Snow White? That I need to start wearing tall rubber boots and perhaps a helmet if I’m going to continue eating in Toronto gardens?

If we’re going in order of the food chain, I assume if I dine alfresco next week a wolf will just walk out from between some parked cars, shake my hand and eat salad out of my tupperware!

Of all the things to get me writing again, an encounter with a downtown bird of prey isn’t what I would have imagined, but when inspiration literally hits you out of the clear blue sky, I say roll with it.

What’s your weirdest urban animal encounter?

Growing up TV-free (a survivor story)

antique radio dial

There’s an episode of Friends where Joey, incredulous at someone’s claim that they don’t have a television, asks, “You don’t own a TV? What’s all your furniture pointed at?”

When I was little, my family had a small TV tucked away in a pretty little cabinet in the corner of our living room. To the untrained eye, it looked like we didn’t have one at all, which was exactly how my parents wanted it.

We ate our dinner together at the table, and talked to each other. It was a very rare treat to eat in front of the tv.

At first we had a cable subscription, but the rule was that we weren’t supposed to watch anything in the summer, then my parents cancelled the cable completely and we could only watch VHS rentals, often from the library, which, admittedly did instil in me an early appreciation for BBC productions, such as this crazy yet charming slice of imagination.

Still, sometimes a ten-year-old just wants to rent a non-enriching MK and Ashley Mystery, you know?

I was always fascinated by the constant presence of the televisions at friends’ houses, places with giant screens, multiple screens, on-every-hour-of-the-day screens!

The reactions I got when I told people about the lack of tv in my young life are kind of fascinating in retrospect.

Kids just squinted at me suspiciously and pronounced me “weird” or asked if I was a mennonite or something.

Adults were worse. Most would get defensive, thinking that my parents’ choice was somehow a judgement directed at them. As much as I hated not being allowed to spend as much time as I wanted lounging in front of a screen, I hated people making fun of my family more.

So I learned not to tell people. Instead, I figured out that I could listen to global tv on my radio, tuning in to Friends, Frasier and the Gilmore Girls like they were 1930s radio dramas, so I was up to speed on a few shows, and babysat at houses with extensive cable packages whenever possible.

Meanwhile, the lack of tv at home meant I was forced to find other ways to fill my time and stifle boredom. It helped to make me a voracious reader and to make me crafty, curious and creative. It meant more time spent running around outside, playing games and chatting with the neighbours.

I think it was really good for me. That time to be quiet and bored is something I’ve been missing lately. I’m surrounded by screens now (though I still don’t have a television) and it’s way too easy to shut boredom down or distract myself from any other negative feelings with the click of a mouse. There’s always some new must-watch show to see, and while I do like to support the arts, I maybe don’t have to do so single-handedly.

So while I’m not ready to can my netflix subscription completely, I do think it’s time to take a page from my parents’ book and start scheduling in some daily boredom to see what my brain creates.

Did you grow up watching tv? Do you find your iphone/laptop/other gadgets have taken a toll on your creativity? Let me know in the comments!

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Summer Listening List – Podcasts

riflepaperco Iphone caseWant to know something embarrassing?

My mom had her own podcast on iTunes before I ever really figured out what a podcast was. While  most of my peers parents were still eyeing the bandwagon suspiciously, she had hopped into the driver’s seat and taken off.

I was too busy joyously singing along with the Phantom of the Opera (the one with the Canadian cast where Sam from Today’s Special plays the Phantom i.e. the best one, to be precise)at the top of my lungs while driving to work to bother with downloading a podcast.

When I moved to the city, I got rid of the car, and thus the singalong commute came to en end. I mean, I guess I could belt out “Music of the Night” to my fellow pedestrians or passengers on the streetcar, but it’s just not the same.

So I’ve become an avid podcast listener instead and thought I’d share the wealth in case any of you are late adopters like yours truly and are wondering where to start.

In no particular order, here’s what’s filling my iPhone lately:

This American Life – A podcast of the hour-long American radio program, This American Life is not exactly a cult hit, but there’s a reason it’ s so popular. The journalistic radio documentaries, essays and memoirs featured are consistently fascinating.

The Moth – collections of true personal stories. I love these little slices of life, both hilarious, unbelievable and tragic told live in front of an audience by people from all walks of life.

Invisibilia – An exploration of how ideas, assumptions and emotions shape human behaviour. They won me over with an awesome story about visually impaired people who use echolocation to get around.

Canadaland – Jesse Brown discusses Canadian issues and politics and how our media is (or isn’t) covering the news that matters to Canadians. I don’t always agree with his take on things, but I think he’s asking some really important questions that the mainstream media has become to cowardly to tackle. Just don’t start with the episode “my Socalled friend.” That episode was staggeringly dull and obnoxious.

Professor Blastoff – Brilliant comedians, Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger (very loosely) focus and chat with a guest about a different topic every episode. They frequently make me look like a wildly cackling idiot.

The Bugle – Hard to go wrong with Jon Oliver. He and his co-host are delightfully witty and English as they skewer politics the world over.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour – Old-timey-style radio plays! What’s not to like? The “Beyond Belief” series is by far my favourite. Paget Brewster kills me!

Throwing Shade – I was delighted to stumble across Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi, two of the bright spots from the now defunct infomania, on their hilarious podcast. They make fun of misogyny and homophobia in the most weird and wonderful ways imaginable. It’s an extremely cathartic listen.

Do you guys listen to podcasts? Any I should add to my roster this summer?

Ontario’s Southwest City Fare

Spring-fed Trout Crudo topped with Trout skin chicharron.

Spring-fed Trout Crudo topped with Trout skin chicharron.


When I was a small-town reporter, one of my favourite weekend activities was hopping in the car, choosing a road I hadn’t been down yet, and exploring whatever village, lakefront town or conservation area I hit first.

As I was living in farm country and only a 15 minute drive from Lake Huron, more often than not these drives would lead me to some picturesque little gem of a tiny town, and better yet, to some amazing fresh produce. I’ll never forget the day I was aiming for the beach and found myself instead, at a cheese factory. It was like stumbling across Santa’s workshop.

Often the only thing missing from these foodventures was the perfect glass of wine to accompany whatever culinary delight I’d come across (which was good, since I was driving).

That’s why I was so excited to stop by iYellow Wine Club’s Ontario’s Southwest City Fare this weekend. And it did not disappoint.

Vendor after vendor from all over Southwestern Ontario plied my pals and I with everything from lamb sausage to aged cheddar cheese to melt-in-your-mouth butter tarts, with the perfect wine, beer or cider to wash it all down.


Lamb sausage with chimichurri at #OSWCityFare 2015

Lamb sausage with chimichurri. I am a hero for resisting the rest of this platter. A hero!




We were particularly impressed with a couple of wines from the Bonnieheath Estate Winery (and Lavender farm!). My friend described their Marquette as “wine butter.” It went down damn smooth. And did I mention you can only buy it on their LAVENDER FARM?

I think I feel a road trip coming on.

Are you guys doing any close-to-home food tours this summer? Take me with you?

If you want to salivate more, check out my instagram feed for additional photos of the event!

A Beautiful Balcony Garden for Bees

Fairy thimble bellflower in a wine boxAn old wine box with a couple holes drilled into the bottom makes a terribly cute balcony planter for this fairy thimble bellflower.

Hands down my favourite thing about Toronto in spring is how the neighbourhoods transform from brick and branches into gorgeous greenery and lush, fragrant florals.

It’s amazing I ever make it home what with all the obsessive stopping to smell the lilacs and peonies in every other garden I encounter.

Apartment living makes it difficult to do gardening of my own, but this year I’m determined to transform my little square of the outdoors into a bee-friendly balcony garden.

Bees are in serious trouble, which means we are all in trouble, since one third of human food depends on their pollination. In addition to supporting ecological farming and calling on our governments to ban harmful pesticides that are killing our fuzzy, buzzy little pals, one of the things we can do to help the bee population is plant their favourite flowers (regional, blue and yellow blooms and herbs) and keep them pesticide free.

So, along with my usual pots of kale, basil and mint,  that’s what I’ve been doing on my balcony, and it’s been a great success. The bees especially seem to love the lavender, deep purple pansies and cheery yellow snapdragons I’ve planted.

I love watching them hover curiously overhead and zoom around the blooms while I’m out on my little perch overlooking the city.

Dill and basil. How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden. #ContainerGarden Dill and basil with a view of the CN Tower

How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden: lavender & pansies. #ContainerGarden

How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden. #ContainerGarden I thought perhaps this scary pretend snake would keep the squirrels and raccoons away. Now it’s just covered in bite marks, and occasionally I look out my window in the early hours to find a squirrel curled up sleeping in a flower pot. So.

How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden: snapdragons and bellflowers. #ContainerGarden

How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden: fairy thimble bellflower & cilantro. #ContainerGarden

How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden. #ContainerGarden

How to plant a beautiful bee-friendly balcony garden. #ContainerGarden

Are you guys gardeners? Any tips for a container gardener like myself to make a beautiful balcony garden?

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Wisdom Teeth: Who Needs ‘Em?

wisdom tooth surgery recovery with ice packs

Sometimes holding ice packs to your face is just too much effort.

Oh hello there blog pals, I’ve missed you!

I’ve been taking some much needed time off from keeping up with this wee internet space to focus first on school and then on my health and emotionally and physically de-cluttering my life a bit. It’s all been very worthwhile, but now I’m hoping to sneak in a bit more regular writing here.

Along with using a Whole30 starting back in March to figure out which foods are having a negative effect on my PCOS, I finally took the advice various dental healthcare professionals have given me for the past ten years, and had all my whacky impacted/partially erupted wisdom teeth removed.

As my decade of procrastination may have indicated, I have long been petrified at the idea of having oral surgery. This was partly because I was convinced that any kind of surgery would put me at high risk of developing a deadly blood clot (for those who don’t know me well, this is not as out of left field as it might seem, since I was very nearly taken out by a clot when I was 19, but my surgeon assured me that even with a clotting disorder, my fear was unfounded when it came to this particular procedure. Whew). It was also because the idea of surgery in general gives me a major case of the heebie jeebies (I can’t even get a needle without risk of fainting). Last but not least, I was scared of going under general anesthetic (not that I’d want to be awake, mind you!) and not waking up OR waking up and telling the nurses or my mom or whoever all my weirdest sex stories.

Not that I’ve ever done anything weird.

Or had sex.


Fortunately, after chatting with me about my concerns and shaking my preposterously clammy hand during our consultation, the lovely oral surgeon I went to suggested I might feel more comfortable if she prescribed me some Ativan to take the night before and morning of the procedure along with some numbing patches for the backs of my hands to make even the IV placement easier.

Yes please.

On top of that, knowing my needle-phobia, they gave me a bit of laughing gas before they placed the IV. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be that comfortable getting a needle again.

The surgeon came in, told me they were going to let me sleep for a couple of minutes, explained to me that my arm might start to feel a little hot as the sedative worked its way in, which it did, and the next thing I remember, I was being helped into a wheelchair and rolled out to meet my mom.

As for weird sex stories, apparently all I did in my post-op drug-haze was sit uncharacteristically quietly, occasionally mumbling through my gauze-filled mouth and staring up at everyone like a big-eyed newborn. Although when we got home, I took it upon myself to shrug off the pal who had come along specifically to help me get up my stairs, adamantly insisting I would prefer to crawl up them myself. Then when he helped me onto my couch and told me to “just put your feet up and relax” I squeaked out “I’ll do what I want!” before immediately passing out.

So basically the surgery itself was far less terrifying than I had built it up to be BUT I will say waiting until I was nearly 30 to have it done might not have been my best move because it is taking AGES to recover. It’s been two and a half weeks and I still haven’t gone a day without taking at least a couple of advil, despite everything apparently healing up beautifully.

It may shock you to learn that I am not a dentist, so certainly take this with a tall glass of salt water syringed into the handy food pockets created by your recently extracted chompers, but I definitely wish I’d got mine out sooner as I’m convinced recovery would be much easier had I not let these suckers wreak havoc on my gums and jaw for so many years.

Lesson learned!

Have you guys had your wisdom teeth out? Anyone else find recovery surprisingly slow? More importantly, did you accidentally tell weird sex stories while under anesthesia?

Happy Birthday, Toronto!

In the months of biting cold and neverending slush, it can be easy to forget how lucky I am to live where I do. I am so grateful for the choices and the twists and turns of fate that brought me back to this vibrant, beautiful city of vibrant, beautiful, creative weirdos where I was born. And I’m grateful for this dreamy video by Gary Samson for reminding me what a gem Toronto really is.

Now bring on Spring in the city!

Good News, It’s Friday!

Red leaves through Gothic window archWell done on those leaves, mother nature.

It’s been a bit of a stressful news week (or weeks), particularly for those of us with an interest in issues concerning violence against women,

So, while I highly encourage all of you to pay close attention to even the most unpleasant current events, I thought it might be nice to focus on a little good news, and perhaps a baby animal or two that can make us smile this Friday.

Speaking of current events, in case you missed it, China and the US announced new targets to reduce carbon pollution and fight climate change. Hurrah! A step in the right direction.

Julien Blanc was kicked out of Australia, and thanks to #KeepJulienBlancOutOfCanada, our immigration minister is considering barring him from coming here too. Keep up the good work, and keep the pressure on, guys!

These fabulous Australian men pimped their ride into a free mobile laundromat for homeless people.

A Captain Marvel (feminist superhero based on Gloria Steinem) movie is in the works!

And, oh good gracious, just look at this rescued baby otter, eating snacks and making baby otter squeaks:

What’s made you smile this week?

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