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Oh, why did I do this? I haven’t posted in over a month (I’m sorry if my three faithful readers missed me) but I’ve been so busy. I know everybody says that, but I mean SO busy. I’ve had 18 hour days for a month straight. Four to five hours of sleep a night and full days of physical labour and spending tons of money that I don’t really have on my house. My charming little 1913 house, the one I wasn’t planning on moving out of for some time. Here’s the short version/timeline;

Day 1: I hear that a house I love on my street is going up for sale. (I haven’t even seen the interior.)

Day 2: We get pre-approved at the bank so we can make an offer before the house is listed.

Day 3: We get to see the house before it’s listed.

Day 4: We make an offer, contingent on the sale of our house.

Days 5-35: We bust our asses getting our current house ready for sale. It’s been through three rounds of renos in the past ten years, but we tackle every little thing that we never got around to, pack up half our lives into a storage pod in the backyard, paint nearly every wall and basically work like maniacs every waking hour that we’re not at work. When I say “We,” I should tell you I mean “Me.” My husband was on a marking deadline at his job (he teaches English at a university) And was swamped. He helped where he could, but I was definitely at the helm of this shizz. I hired my brother Adam, who recently moved to town and as it turns out, is a really great handyman! So, that was amazing. There’s a zero percent chance I could have done it without him. He is way more skilled at repairs than I am, and was at the house working nearly every day for a month.

My house went on the market four days ago and I’m having a daily heart attack…I just want it to sell and be over with. It’s hard to keep everything spotless for showings (I feel like I can’t even sit on my furniture, cuz I’ll wreck stuff.)My kitties are all living in my mom’s rec room (which is where I am right now- I’ve been having frequent slumber parties with them, but I miss having them at home so much.) I’m terrified about trying to sell a house in November in Winnipeg, because who wants to buy a house and move in knee-deep snow and minus 20 temperatures and I’m pretty stressed. I spent a small fortune fixing this place up in such a small amount of time and feel like I’ll never be out of debt again. Ever. At least I’m not as stressed as I was last week. I’ve had two full nights of sleep in a ROW! I’ve left my house for something OTHER THAN WORK AND HARDWARE STORE RUNS. I’ve broken down is stress-fuelled tears more often in the past month than in the past two years. I’m not sure it was worth it, honestly. If I had known how awful, how stressful, how expensive, how taxing it would be on my husband and I…I wouldn’t have done it. On the plus side, the house looks fucking great.

 

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Willie Watson, Folksinger Vol. 2 Review

A few posts back I wrote about my serendipitous and probably irresponsible purchase of tickets to see Willie Watson at the Fremont Abbey in Seattle. I mean, the tickets were a straight up bargain; the flight and hotel were maybe pushing the boundaries of fiscal responsibility. But sometimes -most times- you oughta just go for broke. Plus, my dearest friend lives in Seattle, so there was no question that a good time was gonna be had.

I’ve been wanting to see Willie Watson live since I heard his first solo album (Folksinger Vol. 1) and he didn’t disappoint. He opened the show with “Take This Hammer,” and his incomparable voice in that little room…well, I think my heart might have stopped.

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Not by best shot, but I didn’t want to use a flash.

The Lead Belly classic is my favourite track on Folksinger Vol. 2, a record of back to back standout songs. On the album version, Watson is accompanied by the Fairfield Four, who bring all the power and depth you’d expect from one of the greatest gospel groups in the world.

The record, produced by David Rawlings for he and Gillian Welch’s Acony Records label, kicks off with a rousing version of “Samson and Delilah” with the Fairfield Four. “Gallows Pole” is haunting and perfectly suited to Watson’s high and keening sound. “Dry Bones,” “Walking Boss,” “The Cuckoo Bird,” and “John Henry” are fresh-sounding folk standards, and the blues are solidly represented by “When My Baby Left Me,” and “Leavin’ Blues.” The Blind Alfred Reed song “Always Lift Him Up and Never Knock Him Down” is lifted up (see what I did there? 🙄) by the addition of a woodwind ensemble which lends an orchestral (almost minstrel) feel to the track.

The jugband sound of “On The Road Again” features the Fairfield Four and Gillian Welch, and makes for a pretty great sing-a-long, though I had to look up what a “natural-born eastman” was. (From what I could gather, I think it was a term for a man who lived off of a woman; kind of a pimp. And man, pimps are always fun to sing about, I don’t care who you are.)

Big pimpin’.

I was lucky to meet Willie after the Seattle show and he couldn’t have been kinder or more humble. I used to be the hospitality coordinator for a popular venue that hosted all of my favourite bands and I’ve never been nervous to meet anyone in my life, but I think I was a nervy spaz when I met Willie Watson! I’m frequently captured by music, but I was deeply moved at his show. It had me all kinds of emotional, and my sarcastic shell was cracked for the night (don’t worry, it grew back.)

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I’m hoping to see him again on this tour, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll play in some state nearer to Winnipeg, and the legion of folkies we’ve got here.

I tend to carry on when I love something this much; yesterday, my husband asked me if I had a crush on Willie Watson. I said “No, sweetie, I have a crush on Blair Redford. I just have a deep and abiding musical devotion to Willie Watson.” You will, too, so get on out there and buy yourself a copy of Folksinger Vol. 2, and if you have a chance to see Willie live, take it!

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This Week In Wicker

I’ve been a no-show around here, as I’ve been crazy busy! I had a massive yard sale to plan (it was yesterday and it was amazing!) Plus I’ve got a short trip to the States coming up this week and I’ve been swamped at work with all the fall orders coming in. Here’s a quick shot of some baskets I’ve collected since I’m gonna jump on the basketwall bandwagon. I mean, they’re not on the wall yet, because I’m lazy and have shit to do, but they might be someday. 😉

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Taste of Toronto

Vegetarian and vegan eats in the heart of Toronto

I go to Toronto a couple of times a year for work. I usually spend two days working and three days hanging out (read: eating) so I’ve spent a fair amount of time seeking out great places to eat. I eat a mostly vegan diet (I’m a lactose-intolerant vegetarian 🙄) so eating while traveling isn’t always straightforward or simple. Toronto makes it so easy!

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I went for a quick visit last week and if someone looked at my Instagram over those few days, you’d figure all I did was eat. They wouldn’t be far off.

I didn’t get to all of my regular haunts this time around (there’s never enough time!) but I’ll include them in this list of favourites:

Karine’s

When I’m in Toronto, I eat breakfast at Karine’s almost every single day; it’s hands down the BEST breakfast in all of Toronto, and Karine is all about spoiling her customers with positivity in addition to the food.

Karine’s is in the food court of the Ontario College of Art and Design, so it’s not someplace you’d see from the street. You need to go inside the “Village on the Grange” building (53 McCaul Street, right next to the Art Gallery of Ontario, where you’re gonna go anyway, right?) Then just look for the big green sign.

Sometimes I get things that AREN’T pancakes or waffles. Not this time.

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Vegan banana chocolate chip pancakes with potatoes, fruit, salad, roast veggies and this savoury cold tofu thing. (I don’t know what it is, but I like it.)

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Pineapple-mango-watermelon juice is basically sunrise in a glass.

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Karine’s idea of a light snack.

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The woman, the myth, the legend.

Fresh Restaurants

There are four Fresh restaurants in Toronto (and one in Mexico City!) and they’re equally spectacular. The menu is vegan, large and diverse. The Fresh bowls are hugely popular, wholesome and filling, and that’s what I go for when I’m being a good, plant-power healthy-eater. But when I want comfort food (almost always, it’s a problem) I go for the Squash Tacos. Damn, now I’m thinking about squash tacos and I’m sad I don’t have any. I digress, as is my custom.

More standout dishes are the BBQ Burger and the Black Bean Burrito. And there’s no getting around the fact that you’re gonna order the quinoa-battered onion rings. Everyone does. Eventually you see 10 orders of it being served to the people sitting around you and you order your own. (The peanut sauce tastes great with theses, and the garlic mayo is silky and fantastic, too.) The fresh pressed juices and desserts are everything you could hope for, and the weekend brunch is worth standing in line.

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Squash tacos, I miss you.

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Quinoa-battered onion rings, and one of the daily soup specials.

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Black Bean Burrito, with kale slaw side.

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Did I mention that Fresh is on UberEats, so you can get it delivered right to your AirBnB?

El Catrin

This place is far from vegetarian, but they do have veggie options. I love it here cuz I’m a Day of The Dead kind of girl. The menu is a little too “foodie” for my personal tastes (I like simple and casual…I don’t need plantain mash and asparagus in my burritos) but that may be right up your alley! The drinks here are fantastic and El Catrin has one of the largest selections of tequila and mezcal in the country. I try to come in the mid-afternoon for the ambience and a snack (guacamole made at the table and the best churros I’ve had in Toronto, which has a surprising amount of churro places.) And if I see a Mexican Coca-Cola on a menu anywhere, I get it. I’m not a pop-drinker and I almost never have caffeine, so when I do, I’m like a toddler who’s been given a bag of pixie stix and an espresso. EVEN MORE FUN TO BE AROUND!

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Table-side guacamole, and a Mexican coke. Someone better strap me down, cuz I’m about to get giddy.

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Soft and delicious churros, with chocolate, strawberry and caramel sauces.

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The whole restaurant is decked out in Day of the Dead art!

Kensington Market has a hot ton of vegan and vegetarian options, including a natural grocery store and some smaller Latino markets/veggie stands. A new discovery for me was Moo Frites, a tiny place selling nothing but Belgian fries. Damn, dudes. Soft on the inside, super crispy on the outside with lots of dipping sauces to choose from (vegan dips, too.)

Moo Frites

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Frites with garlic mayo.

If you’re in the (Kensington) market for a gluten-free, vegan dessert, you’ll probably want to hit up Bunners, the 💯 % vegan  and gluten free bakery on Augusta Avenue. Get your sugar-high on before you pop in to The Blue Banana Market next door. It’s one of my go-to shops in Toronto.

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I don’t remember what this was, but it was tasty.

Some other Kensington Market faves are:

Hibiscus – Sweet and savoury crepes, dairy-free ice cream

Cosmic Treats – Comfort-food, taco Tuesdays, deep-fried mac and cheeze balls, vegan desserts

Urban Herbivore Sandwiches, bowls, soups and juices to stay or to go.

I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t mention Hogtown Vegan. This is one of those places that vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters all like. It’s NOT health food. It’s Unchicken and Waffles, Mac and Cheeze, “Beef” and Dumplings, Pulled “Pork” sandwiches and the like.

I didn’t get there this time, and I’m still kicking myself.

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Do you have any favourites that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments, cuz I really, REALLY like veggie restaurant recommendations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collections: Cathrineholm Lotus

I promised myself I wouldn’t start collecting Cathrineholm dishes. Even though I love them, I’m not a girl who needs to search out more stuff to spend money on. That happens to me often enough in my everyday life. And who needs gorgeous, colourful, mid-century Scandinavian design classics anyway?

Well, obviously I folded. OBVIOUSLY. I bought my first piece from an Ebay seller two months ago, and there’s been a steady, expensive snowballing effect since then. I’ve NEVER come across one of these in the wild, but I have dreams about finding a stack at some granny’s yard sale one day. (I mean this literally. I DREAMT ABOUT DISHES LAST NIGHT.) To be fair, yesterday was my birthday and I received a lot of dishes. My friends know me too well. I got two more pieces of Cathrineholm, a mint condition red Pyrex hostess dish AND a turquoise Fiestaware canister. (I have a problem and am surrounded by enablers.)

These are all of the CH pieces I’ve got so far (plus one that’s on the way!) If you’re a crazy dish weirdo, too, keep reading after the photos for a brief history of Cathrineholm.

 

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This was my first piece. I’m pretty sure I had heart palpitations when the UPS guy drove up.

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The second piece I bought, I wound up selling to a friend. The colour is way more her style than mine, and her eyes bugged out when she saw it. It was meant for her.

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This is an image from the internet, to be replaced when I take a picture of mine at home. I wound up with two of these in the exact same size. The colours looked different online, but…no.

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How great does old Cathrineholm look with new Wild & Wolf enamelware? SO great.

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This is my only non-lotus pattern, but it mixes it up a bit and I love yellow.

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Jenn gave me this platter last night, and it is gloriously avocado.

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This one was a birthday present from my fella. He’s a keeper.

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This one is on the way here!

Cathrineholm Lotus: A Brief History. Closer to a blurb, really.

CathrineHolm. Not a person, but a Norwegian enamelware manufacturer popular in the mid 50s to late 60s. The lead designer, Grete Prytz Kittelsen was an icon of Scandinavian design, and likely created the shapes of the dishes, but the lotus pattern was the creation of Arne Clausen. He came up with the pattern in 1962, though Kittelsen was decidedly NOT a fan, believing dishes looked better with no adornment. I’MA HAFTA DISAGREE.

The colourful enamelware was used to create bowls, plates and platters, kettles and coffee pots, pans, cooking pots, casseroles and dutch ovens. These were all made at the Cathrineholm factory in Norway. There were also canisters, spice jars and salt and pepper shakers, which were designed by the company, but made in Japan.

The colours run the gamut, from the bold primary and secondary colours (my faves) to the earthier tones that were becoming more popular as they headed into the seventies.

Now collectors items, you can find them in antique shops, on ebay and etsy, and if you’re really lucky, maybe some hip granny’s yard sale.

But don’t tell me if you do, cuz I get really jealous. I mean, do you ever see someone on Instagram showing off their amazing find with a 99 cent price tag on it and think “who the fuck is THIS bitch?” No? Oh, uh, me either.