A Toronto Transformation

Toronto events

A Gorgeous Gatsby Garden Party at the Spadina Museum

Gatsby Garden Party - 1920s costumes

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had romantic ideas about travelling to another time and I’ve definitely always loved playing dress-up. So I jumped at the chance to attend this year’s Gatsby Garden Party at the Spadina Museum last weekend.

The Spadina Museum has been on my list of places to check out for years now, but I’d just never got around to it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

While the horrible weather made for more party and less garden, my gorgeous 1920s posse and I had a great time exploring the stunning time capsule of a mansion in all its jazz age glory (can you believe the family still lived there until the 1980s?)!

Oh, and we had almost as much fun coming up with our outfits. People went all out with their 1920s costumes, which really made the whole event feel about as close to time travel as it gets (minus our iphones, of course)

Gatsby2 The Solarium at the Spadina Museum in Toronto

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The Gatsby Garden Party at the Spadina Museum in Toronto

Low back 1920s-style gown at the Gatsby Garden Party

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Have you discovered any hidden gems in your city lately? Also, if you could time travel to any period, where (when?) would you go?

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Dundas West Fest

 

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I’m still kicking myself for not picking up a couple of those little paintings at the “Pillow Talk” hand-painted pillow booth for my bedroom. “I’m sure I can order them online” I thought. No dice!

 

I keep meaning to get out and explore more Toronto neighbourhoods and the Dundas West Fest this weekend presented a perfect opportunity to do just that. While I occasionally wander over to its edges, I’d never deliberately spent time seeing what Dundas West had to offer.

There were tons of food options to choose from. My cousin and I started the afternoon by popping into Bivy, a lovely little cafe (or, urban food outpost, as they’ve labelled themselves), where we inhaled phenomenal brisket and smoked meat sandwiches before grazing at a few other booths while perusing the awesome selection of vintage clothing, locally made jewellery, art, and of course, cupcakes on offer at the festival’s booths.

The organizers did a great job at keeping the vendors and entertainment local and fun and didn’t fall into the trap of hideous overpriced carnival rides and rigged ring toss booths that are so ubiquitous at similar events around the city.

It was still absolutely kid-friendly though. There were lots of arts and crafts, puppet shows, music and a tent where kids (or um, 20-somethings) could practice their  charcoal and pastel drawing.

And we jumped at the chance to take part in the most charming elementary school fundraiser ever: for two dollars, we had kids draw our portraits. How adorable is that???

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 I’m totally framing mine.

 

Launched!

One of the projects that has been keeping me the aforementioned busy bee the last little while has been writing for the brand new Toronto section of Spotted By Locals, a European and now North American city guide for travellers who like to get off the beaten path, for tourists who don’t like to feel like tourists.

I really love this approach to travelling, don’t you? It’s so much fun to get out of the tourist traps and experience a city and culture in a way that approximates what it would feel like to live there.

The concept behind Spotted By Locals is simple. Founders Bart and Sanne Van Poll select 4-6 local “spotters” from each featured city to write about their favourite places to eat, drink, shop, play etc. in their city, and rely on them to check back frequently to write about new spots and update old ones so that the information is seasonally appropriate, accurate and never stale.

So, if you want to know where to take me for dinner in Toronto, pop on over and check out my recommendations. Or, better yet, do what I’ve been doing and read through the European city pages and plan the ultimate Euro-getaway in your head.

Let me know what you think! Would you use this as a travel guide? Are there any spots we should add (I’ll be writing about a few spots each month)? Is it weird that my profile page on their website so prominently features the year of my birth? haha. (the answer is yes.)

At the End of the World

Museum at the End of the World

This past weekend saw parts of Toronto transformed in weird and wonderful ways as part of Saturday’s annual Nuit Blanche.

Nuit Blanche is a free contemporary art exhibit with installations set up from the usual galleries to the unlikeliest of parking garages that takes place from dusk until dawn once a year. I’ve always thought the idea was fun and magical and whimsical, but I’ll admit that the past two years I’ve attended fell short of my expectations for three very specific reasons:

  1. It was too damn cold to be out wandering the streets in search of art (or even food for that matter. And I’ll make a lot of sacrifices for food, my friends.)
  2. No one I was with felt strongly enough about any of the installations to be willing to stand in line to see them (especially not in the cold), so we were confined to checking out only the large-scale outdoor ones or the really unpopular ones.
  3. I wore high heels. Evil ones.

Still, I couldn’t help but get caught up with Jordan’s enthusiasm for the night. Having only been once when he was in town a couple of years ago, undoubtedly clad in some kind of pillowy sneaker or loafer, he had a fresh perspective on the whole affair. Plus he had a group of friends who were hosting a potluck beforehand. And well, food.

So! After frying up some scrumptious corn cakes and watching himself make some of the world’s most ridiculously enormous (but delicious) shrimp salad rolls, I dressed in cozy layers and declared that no matter what else happened, and no matter how long the lineup, we were going to see The Museum at the End of the World. After that I was happy to be a leaf on the wind or stand around while people texted madly and tried to meet up with every friend they’d ever made or see whatever anyone else wanted to see. But I’d be damned if I didn’t at least see one (hopefully) really cool thing this year.

And ok, despite Jordan’s dire predictions and my own memories of the bloody ankles of Nuit Blanches past, I still wore high heels. But comfy ones. And I tucked a pair of emergency flats in my bag.

The potluck was lovely, the food was incredible and it was the kind of balanced gathering of old and new friends that makes everyone feel welcome and included in the lively conversation and laughter. Or maybe I just had too much wine? Hard to say.

And then we were off into the night, a happy little zebra herd of all stripes. Ahem. Or maybe that’s just too much wine again.

Moving on.

Fortunately the plan went according to…plan and we danced our way through the night past drummers and giant projections of jellyfish, set up camp in the line, and a mere 20 minutes later found ourselves strolling through Douglas Coupland’s creepy/cheeky version of the results of the rapture in the parking garage below city hall.

As I stopped to inspect a lonesome walker next to a pile of hastily vacated clothing, I thought about the question my best friend has been asking me I swear once a month since this year began.

“What would you do if you knew this really was the year the world was going to end?”

It’s not something I like or see much point in thinking about. But if there was ever a time and a place, this seemed like it.

Would I quit my job? Travel the world? Gather my family and friends around me in the prettiest place I could find and picnic the time away? Would I do something grand and sweeping, bent on finding some way of leaving a legacy that would somehow outlast the end of days? Maybe.

Or maybe, I’d fry up some corn cakes, kiss my love, drink some wine, laugh with friends, and dance the night away to drums and the sing-song chant of a Hare Krishna Kirtan.

I guess one thing at least is for sure.

At the end of the world? I’ll be the one wearing inappropriate footwear.

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