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ANOTHER GREAT “NOLLYWOOD” FILM FOR THIS YEAR’S TIFF-GOERS TO SEE

For this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 8-18), the focus for their City-to-City program is Lagos, Nigeria – home to “Nollywood” filmmaking. One of the films being featured is 76 helmed by the multi award-winning director Izu Ojukwo, and starring Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Memry Savanhu and Daniel Kanayo Daniel.IMG_3500 IMG_351076 is a love story that centers around the challenges women married to men in the armed forces go through when their husbands are captured in war. The 76 story is told using the backdrop of the Nigerian 1976 Dimka’s coup. The movie isn’t about a botched coup attempt but is clearly about the women who are courageous enough to bear a soldier’s last name. It is visually pure, emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating and humorously therapeutic.

Six years after the Nigerian civil war, Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) a young officer from the middle belt gets entangled in a romantic relationship with Suzy (Rita Dominic) a young lady from the southeastern part of Nigeria. Their budding romance was almost ruptured by the overwhelming strains of tribalism. Now heavily pregnant, her world comes crumbling when news of her husband’s involvement in a botched coup attempt hits the headlines.IMG_3506 IMG_3505 IMG_3514You can check out the official preview trailer here:

Visit the official TIFF website for tickets, screening times and additional information on the City-to-City “Nollywood” programme

www.tiff.net/tiff/

 

 

 

 

 

Okafor's Law red poster flat

NOLLYWOOD’S BOX OFFICE QUEEN BRINGS “OKAFOR’S LAW” TO TIFF!

The reigning queen of the Nigerian film industry – known as “Nollywood” – OMONI OBOLI is bringing her latest film OKAFOR’S LAW to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival next month.  The multi award-winning director, writer, producer and actor will enjoy a world premiere red-carpet screening for her romantic comedy on Monday Sept. 12th at 8:45pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre located in Yorkville where TIFF was first founded. Omoni’s hoping this will be the start of N. American audiences and studios getting to know her and her work. Hollywood has been complaining loudly about the lack of opportunities for women directors, especially women of colour but Omoni has been making her own opportunities in Nigeria; her previous 6 films have raked in over a quarter billion Naira (Nigerian currency) at the box office. Omoni headshotOmoni began her career with her first movie role in ‘Bitter Encounter’ (1996) then in ‘Shame’. She then went on to play the lead female character in three major movies; ‘Not My Will’, ‘Destined To Die’ and ‘Another Campus Tale.’  She took time away from the biz to complete her university education and get married but after ten years, cinema called her back.

Since then, Omoni has shot to prominence as the class act of Nollywood because of her professional demeanour and strong work ethics. Playing lead roles in blockbusters like ‘The Figurine,’ ‘Anchor Baby’, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’, ‘Feathered Dreams’ and Mo Abudu’s ‘Fifty’ has set her apart as one who knows how to choose good screenplays. She has also set the bar higher by being the first actress from Nollywood to bag such international awards as Best Actress in two international festivals in the same year (2010) – the Harlem International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards for her lead role in the movie, ‘Anchor Baby’. She’s pictured below with castmate, the late Sam Sarpong (L) and Anchor Baby director Lonzo Nzekwe (R) at the Toronto premiere.Omoni 5Omoni has won and also been nominated for several other awards, both locally and internationally. The movie, ‘Anchor Baby’ currently has the record for the longest running African movie in the UK cinema for the year 2011 and the longest running Nigerian movie in the UK cinemas in history. She wrote, directed, produced and starred in the movie, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ which happened to be her directorial debut. ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ was chosen as the opening movie at the 2014 edition of the ‘Nollywood Week in Paris’, and it is the first Nigerian movie to be screened at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, ASO Rock.  Her movie ‘The First Lady’ which recently screened at The Nollywood Week Festival in Paris won the highly coveted ‘Audience Choice Award’ which is the only award at the festival. Her recent Wives On Strike garnered great reviews from both fans and critics and was hailed as the comedy of the year.

Director’s Statement: The idea for Okafor’s Law came on a fine evening during dinner and drinks with friends. I happened to be the only woman in the group and the conversation was very ‘male’ in tone and subject. Somehow, we started talking about our exes and how most guys felt they could always go back and have sex with their old girlfriends even after a relationship had long ended. It was apparently a belief widely known in Nigeria as ‘Okafor’s Law’ It was a very interesting conversation and emotions ran high. At a point, one of my friends turned to me and said ‘Omoni you are a filmmaker. Why don’t you make a movie about Okafor’s Law’. I looked at him and said ‘why not?’ The idea was born! I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I talked back and forth with those friends, getting all their thoughts on the subject.  I initially contacted a writer because I was busy with other projects, and we talked about the story. Somehow, I never got a script from him so a couple of months later, I decided to write my story myself.
Apart from the main theme of ‘Okafor’s Law’, the movie takes us through a journey of love, passion, infidelity, violence and forgiveness. It’s also laced with humour which is a common thread in my movies. I love to take people into the world of my movies and make them forget for almost two hours, their own lives.  Omoni Oboli, 2016_MG_9971FILM SYNOPSIS:  Chuks (aka Terminator) is an ardent player with the ladies. He enjoys the attention of women, including girlfriends from the past. He believes that once a man has had a woman, he forever has access to her. When challenged by his friends to see if he can prove the universality of that theory with three ex-girlfriends from his school days within 21 days, he accepts it. Turning on his best charm he sets off to try and prove himself, but his quest brings him to three women, Ifeoma (Fifi), Kemi and Ejiro, whose situations in life have changed drastically since school days. This challenge of their various new statuses makes his quest to win the bet more and more insurmountable as he tries to prove the immutability of the age-old law, OKAFOR’S Law.

Okafor’s Law also stars African screen favourites Blossom Chukwujekwu, Ufuoma McDermott, Toyin Aimakhu, Ken Erics, Gabriel Afolayan and the “George Clooney of Nollywood” Richard Mofe-Damijo (below)image7You can find out more about Okafor’s Law from the official TIFF website where you can also purchase screening tickets www.tiff.net/tiff/   Look for the special City to City programme which features Lagos and the talented Nigerian filmmakers who call that city home. 79be306f-9fb4-4e48-b518-2fcd1a68337e

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Mini Holmes presents…A Star-Studded Benefit for comedian KEVIN McGRATH this Tues. Aug.16

Anyone who has ever visited a comedy club will know how hard comedians work and as Rodney Dangerfield used to say… “I can’t get no respect”. Well, this Tuesday Aug. 16th many of Canada’s top comics will be paying respect to fellow funny man, Kevin McGrath (pictured below), with a special benefit show at Cherry Colas Rock’n’Roll Cabaret in Toronto raising funds to help support Kevin as he goes through painful rehab after a horrendous car accident that left him with numerous broken bones and serious internal injuries. Kevin will be in hospital for the next few months followed by several months in the rehab hospital.kvimghs001Benefit producer Mini Holmes, a very funny lady and media personality herself, told me “This is close to our hearts because we all love Kevin and also because we know as comics this could have been any of us. We are all on the road gigging nightly.” MiniKevin McGrath has kept Canadians laughing since the early 1980’s. He got his start with The McGrath Brothers, a comedy music act that featured impressions of The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and many more  he began performing solo stand-up comedy when the McGrath Brothers disbanded. Kevin has appeared on CTV, Global Television, The Comedy Network, CBC, and has appeared in every major city in Canada. Kevin’s comedy is fueled by his obvious love for his wife, his fear of flying, a reluctance to engage in anything involving strenuous activity, and his undying love for music.

Hosted by Mike Bullard, the show will feature comedians who came up thru the ranks with Kevin including Mike Wilmot, Derek Edwards, Mike MacDonald and Simon Rakoff. Mini will also perform a set just to add a little estrogen to the manly mix up on stage! All of these generous performers are donating their time and talent so all $s from ticket sales will go to Kevin.

Mike Bullard

Mike Bullard

Mike Wilmot

Mike Wilmot

Derek Edwards

Derek Edwards

Mike MacDonald

Mike MacDonald

Simon Rakoff with name

Cherry Colas Rock N Roll Cabaret, 200 Bathurst Street (just N. of Queen)
Tuesday August 16th   9:00pm.
$15 in advance / $20 at the door 

Tickets can be purchased via Facebook event page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/151586161942592/

As their original agent back in the 80’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in Canada, I love these guys and really hope you will come out and show ’em a little love AND cash for Kevin.

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INTRODUCING….THE QUEEN OF NOLLYWOOD, OMONI OBOLI!

Did you know that Nollywood (Nigeria’s bustling film industry) is second only to Bollywood (India) when it comes to film production?  And both are head and shoulders above Hollywood’s annual output of cinematic product – surprised?  When it comes to filmmaking here in Canada, we’re constantly bombarded with US films and television influences and we do tend to forget about the rest of the world and their creativity. But this year, TIFF is shining the spotlight on Nollywood with their “City to City” program, featuring filmmakers from Lagos.79be306f-9fb4-4e48-b518-2fcd1a68337eI had the pleasure of working with the talented and beautiful OMONI OBOLI (above) five years ago when I was publicizing Anchor Baby, the first feature film by Toronto-based Nigerian filmmaker Lonzo Nzekwe who cast Omoni in the lead role. She has seen emerged as a hit-making director, writer and producer as well as actor. In fact, Omoni is the #1 box office draw in Nigeria, grossing more than any other filmmakers over the past few years and I recently asked her about her career challenges, especially in light of Hollywood’s ongoing lack of female directors and roles for women of colour.red carpet OmoniWhen you first started acting in 1996, did you envision a career solely in front of the camera or did you have goals and ambitions that would put you in control of your own productions?
In 1996, I was an 18yr old undergraduate, who was somehow fortunate to be living out a childhood dream of being an actor and having people watch those movies across the country and beyond. I was too excited about being there that I don’t think I envisioned where I am today. My only focus then was to be in front of the camera and simply bask in the moment. My own production? That was so far from my mind then. The idea of being in control came later with experience, ambition, more interaction with others and a desire to give more of myself in light of some of the movie productions I had seen from others and felt I could do better. I love acting. It’s my first love, and the producing, writing and directing is the fulfilling of my inner desire to be featured in movies I love, which came after being in the industry for long.thumb__MG_8228_1024A lot is being made of Hollywood’s lack of diversity and few women in the director’s chair – how has your experience been working in the Nollywood film community? Have you been accepted as a female director/writer/producer?
I have to say that in Nollywood I don’t see an institutional or systematic stifling of female directors. At least to my knowledge, I haven’t felt that sense of a cartel holding back females from taking up this aspect of filmmaking. Rather, what I’ve seen is a limitation in the mindset of women to take the plunge. I have encouraged some of my female colleagues to take up directing, knowing their capabilities, and many have taken the challenge and are now directing their movies. The fact that we’re few may give this impression, but the men in the industry are not to blame, in my opinion. When the late Amaka Igwe started directing her soaps and movies in the early part of Nollywood history, we didn’t think she was being restricted, because the respect she got from everyone, male and female, was overwhelming and also encouraged, unless there was a battle raging behind the scenes which I didn’t know about. So, yes, I have been accepted as a female director. What I would say is that since my career started as an actor, and I’m still acting, when directors are called, it seems as if they’ve forgotten me as one of them. This is not to say that they don’t respect me, but I’ve seen more acceptance of other female directors who are not actresses than myself, even though my movies are making such big waves and breaking grounds with the audiences. I guess it would be due to the way I’m perceived by many (an actor) rather than an institutional segregation. The same goes with my acceptance as a writer. People love my movies for the refreshing storylines and unique dialogues, but I’m still perceived as an actor.

How do you direct yourself on camera? Are you self-critical or do you find it difficult to get perspective on what you see vs. what you present?
When I’m acting, I find that I’m also directing. Many times, when I’m in a dialogue with another actor, I’m constantly looking out for how they’re delivering their lines and how their body language is in line with what I wrote in the script. As a precaution, I always play back the scene to see how I delivered my own lines, and we don’t move on until it’s right. Yes, I’m very self critical of my acting, directing, writing and pretty much everything I do. I don’t want to have any delusions of grandeur, even if my movies are making waves. It keeps me focused on improving myself and my art. I also listen to criticism from my crew and cast so that I constantly get genuine feedback on the go. After all, it is a business, and the finished product must be top notch and sellable.thumb__MG_8913_1024As a film writer, what inspires your stories? Do you want to tackle “women’s issues” or are you open to all story genres and styles?
I love to laugh, and I want when people go to the cinemas to watch my movies to forget their problems and just relax. I’m open to all stories. My primary motive is always to entertain, because I believe it’s in that atmosphere that you can slot in any other thing you want to reach the audience with  I also try to make sure that there must be a positive message that would also give hope, educate, enlighten or inspire people who come primarily to get entertained. So far I’ve done comedies, but I believe that it all starts with a good storyline, and if another genre sparks my interest and sets the stage for good entertainment, then I’m open to all.

How do you see your career changing if you crack the tough and competitive U.S./Hollywood scene like Lupita Nyong’o did? Would you move to California or stay in Nigeria where you can continue to support the film industry there?
Oh, it would change a lot! I’m bound to the art, and not to the location. So if the art takes me anywhere, that’s where I would be. My support for the Nigerian film industry is a lifetime thing for me, and It’s not going anywhere, because I would always support it in every way. Just as producers are making waves across the globe, my living, acting or producing in California, London, Paris or any part of the world wouldn’t change the fact that it’s a nollywood girl doing it, and that brings attention to the Nigerian film industry. I’m so proud of what Lupita has done, and it serves as an inspiration for many of us. Her story has also helped bring attention to the continent of Africa, and by default, the move industry.Omoni in carAs a mother of 3 children, how difficult is it to balance work and family life?
It’s the grace of God. I’m so thankful for a supportive husband and a beautiful family. It’s not easy at all, but I try to make up when I’m around. Being away from them is so difficult that I bury myself in whatever project I’m doing till I get back home to my family. Like I always say, “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

Any advice for other women wanting to direct, write or produce their own films?
Don’t let yourself be limited by what you think others may perceive of you. Don’t think that opportunities will or should be given to you because of your gender. Let your work speak for you, and study twice as hard to give ‘the’ best, and not just ‘your’ best, because the men shouldn’t dumb themselves down just to make you feel good. The women who are in the game are also bringing their A-game, so educate yourself to be skilled in what you want to do. Writing for women can be restricted to the feminine perspective, so get a male angle from the males so that your stories are more relatable, even when it’s meant to be a chick flick. Producing and directing is hard work, so be ready for the work emotionally, and make sure your business side is always active. Surround yourself with competent and trustworthy hands so you don’t get overwhelmed with trying to do all the work. The audience does not care about your excuses or pains in getting the movie out there, they only care enough to pay for a finished work that has value.

Omoni 5Above, Omoni is pictured with director Nzekwe (R) and the late actor/musician Sam Sarpong (L) at the premiere of Anchor Baby (2011).

You can follow Omoni here: www.keek.com/omonioboli

Twitter: @omonioboli
Instagram: @omonioboli
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TORONTO URBAN COLLECTIVE HOSTS POP-UP ARTISAN MARKET

What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon – I took a stroll through the aisles of the pop-up artisan market hosted by the TORONTO URBAN COLLECTIVE at the Toronto Reference Library, just a few blocks from my home. So many lovely decorative, wearable and edible items presented by the craftspeople who actually made them. I was pleased to show my support by dropping a few dollars myself!  Come meet the vendors with me….20160807_125040I was welcomed by these lovely young ladies (above) who set such a nice friendly tone to the event. Then on to the first stop – the lovely ladies of Little Orbs. Below, here’s craftsperson Erin (R) with her proud mum (L) showing off her home decor and accessories (sparkly wine glass fobs were my faves) www.littleorbs.ca 20160807_120124 20160807_120130Lovely to see Cassandra from Chic Made Consciously with her eco-friendly accessories. I first met Cassandra at the Leslieville Flea a couple of years ago; I’m so proud of her and how she’s built her business. www.chicmc.com20160807_120253I was thrilled to find fashion designer Tulsi MacRae (below) whose fabulous tunics are bright and unique. I may ask her to create a customized one for me for TIFF…. www.tulsimacrae.com20160807_120549 20160807_120554Next was Ashley from Ashes & Kings – fine men’s accessories using beautiful wood slices.  They look stunning and each set of cufflinks or tie-clips are little works of art.  www.ashesandkings.com 20160807_120931 20160807_120941Oh no….not macrame!!! After living with macrame owls throughout the 70’s, I never thought I’d have to look at the popular woven string things again but these pretty home decor pieces by Natalie Ranae are delightful and could bring the trend back to a whole new generation. But please, Natalie, no owls! LOL   www.natalieranae.com20160807_121257 20160807_121300I fell in love with the delicate art of Rachel Dyck of Blossom & Sweet Pea Critter Co. I purchased 3 lovely greeting cards. She had a number of colouring books that were so beautifully printed and her watercolour prints of Canadian wildlife were charming and whimsical – perfect as gifts for any occasion. Look for Rachel @ this year’s Christmas One-of-a-Kind-Show www.thecritterco.com 20160807_121600 20160807_121607 20160807_121610I then spied some adorable wee silver spoons with colourful handles – perfect for serving jam or, in my case, eating my boiled eggs. Alkahf Moroccan Imports had all sorts of exotic treasures including beautiful little mirrors. www.alkahf.ca20160807_122237 20160807_122241 20160807_122253Then I found a brand new local company, www.StrayandWander.com that brings in ethically sourced products from around the world. I really liked the purses and clutches crafted from used native clothing (below). Their website should be up and running by the middle of August but you can find them now on Instagram @strayandwander20160807_122520 20160807_122529 20160807_122543Below is www.stationtoronto.com – groovy jewellery and accessories using the TTC subway station signs as design elements. The vendor was so busy, I didn’t get a chance to find my Yonge and Bloor station ring – I wonder if it’s a secret decoder ring for subway travel secrets?? LOL20160807_122713 20160807_122717I spoke earlier about macrame art from the 70’s….well another crafty hobby back then was nail art but nobody does it like Britt Kasco of Thread & Bark (below L). Oh my, these intricate pieces were so gorgeous, Britt really understands the simple beauty in the threads and I thought her douglas firs (lower picture) were stunning. Great souvenir gifts for friends abroad/great art to own yourself. https://her-earth.com/thread-and-bark/20160807_122854 20160807_122901 20160807_122906Now it was time to head over to the “edible art”….yummmmm. First up is Cuetti Cookies & Cakes. Yes, they’re all square, too.  www.cuetti.cc20160807_123316 20160807_123324Then I stopped in for a quick nibble at Holy Cannoli – OMG, they are sinfully delicious!! They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – check out my @FordhamPR Instagram to see the naughty but nice videos  www.holy-cannoli.com20160807_123645I found another old friend…the Toronto-based Peruvian bakery, Sol Cookies (below), who I met at the Toronto Bakers Market a couple of weeks ago. The tiny cookies are delicious and come in the cutest packaging with a red llama on top. www.solcookies.ca20160807_124748 20160807_124752Just before departing, I spent some time chatting with Laura from Gooseberry Prints, a charming lady who creates wonderful photographic prints of the cutest wee beasties who are all up for adoption at various Toronto rescue centres. Please support her efforts by buying a card, a pin or a print: www.gooseberryprints.com  I am so in love with all the hedgehog ones I want them all!20160807_124318 20160807_124330 20160807_124408Thank you to all the vendors for welcoming me to your booths and a big thank you to the great event producers, Toronto Urban Collective. Watch for the next pop-up and come out to support local craftspeople.  www.urbancollectiveto.com

PS: When I got home, I just had to try out my new Moroccan spoon….yay, it works!20160807_135817

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URBAN GALLERY’S “VISIONS OF TORONTO” GROUP SHOW LAUNCHES TO A PACKED HOUSE!

Last night, I was thrilled to see so many art fans and collectors in attendance when URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto, launched their annual group show. This year, the focus was on our own city – Visions of Toronto features paintings and photographic art showcasing the city’s stunning streetscapes, waterfront and familiar views interpreted in multiple mediums. Here’s gallery curator Allen Shugar to explain…..

I took a stroll around the gallery prior to the doors being opened so I could take some pics of the artwork….20160804_163906 20160804_163915 20160804_16420920160804_173909_001…then I ran into some of the artists arriving early.  Here’s Nik Buczok whose “View from a Mimico Balcony” photo features a sweeping view of the Toronto skyline from the west.20160804_165338 N. BUCZOK The View From A Mimico Balcony, black & white photographic print from film 20w x 16h $450 unframedAnd gallery favourite Erik Chong (below) brought his intricate view of the CN Tower titled “The Six Phenomenon 2016″20160804_165458 20160804_165507

Celebrity chef and photographer Lyndon Wiebe showed 2 photographs printed on linen. They looked like hyper-realistic paintings – I particularly liked the blustery harbourfront winter shot.20160804_164101Lindsey MacKay has 2 pieces in the show – below is her “Gooderham” painting (below)…most Torontonians will recognize this spot.20160804_17193820160804_172455Ian Strulovitch is pictured below with his “Passing By #2″ metallic print on plexiglass which shows a subway train in full flight! I watched as the gallery guests stood in front and shared their own interpretations of this piece. Exciting!20160804_181039One of the big hits of the show is “Union” an oil on canvas b&w graphic by Colin Nun (below). Is it an optical illusion or is it a name? Well, maybe both. It’s inspired by Union Station…see if you can read it.20160804_191109…many of the guests posed with Union including fellow artist Erik and famed blogger Vernon Chang a.k.a. MoVernie (bottom pic) who said it was his fave painting of the show.20160804_165741 Mo Vernie & Union'Urban Gallery was thrilled to welcome Larry Ostola, Director, Museums & Heritage Services and the Acting Director, Arts & Culture Services, Economic Development & Culture for the City of Toronto. Below, curator Allen shares his thoughts on the Toronto art scene with Larry and bottom, gallery owner Calvin tells Larry about the gallery’s commitment to supporting local artists.20160804_172726 20160804_173448

Let’s take a quick 360 degree walk-thru….

20160804_171705 20160804_171715 20160804_171919 It certainly was a night to remember for the participating artists20160804_171724 K. ALBERTSEN The Boardwalk And The Fog print on dibond 37w x 15h $700 K. McIntrye THE SUBWAY, mixed media on canvas 25w 21h $5000With prices ranging from $375 to $3,400, Visions of Toronto runs throughout the month of August – if you’d like to view the art in person (and maybe pick up a piece or two), check the website for hours:  www.urbangallery.ca

Congratulations to Calvin, Allen and Wayne for such a successful launch!13934738_10153575002506577_706519997170307398_n

 

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Playing hooky mid-week in Port Hope!

Earlier this week, as Toronto sizzled and steamed, my friend Teresa and I played hooky and journeyed the 50 minutes east to the wonderful lakeside town of Port Hope (my fave small town in Ontario).  Over the past couple of years, Port Hope and I have become good friends – the welcoming shopkeepers and cosy cafes, the historic restored Capitol Theatre, the stunning Municipal Building, the charming little beach and the tumbling Ganaraska River have all worked their magic on my soul.

As per usual, our first port of call was a visit to Kenneth Bell – the king of bling, the sultan of sparkle, my go-to guy for all things fabulous! I managed to get Teresa into a tiara, too, so we now have matching crowns!! Below, Teresa meets Kenneth for the first time…a match made in bling heaven! Follow Kenneth-Bell-Fashion-Accessories on Facebook.20160726_120435 20160726_123212 20160726_120517 20160726_122852 20160726_123339Next door to Kenneth’s shop is the always-awesome Queenie’s Bake Shop where we indulged in some deelish lunch sandwiches. Both Teresa and I were so brave – we resisted the incredible giant strudel and cookies on the front counter (sssh, don’t tell Teresa but I snuck home with a couple of their famous butter tarts). Follow Queenies Bake Shop on Facebook.20160726_113232 20160726_113235A littler further up Walton Street we found Bubbles and Gems, another fab fashion house where Teresa found a cute skirt and I found these amazing cushions…something for everyone at 20% off!  www.bubblesandgems.com20160726_130124 20160726_130130 20160726_130148 20160726_130327 20160726_130314 20160726_130501We walked past Holton Flowers who always have fabulous arrangements in the windows…we went inside to find floral heaven!20160726_13244620160726_132434We dropped in quickly to G. Facey’s, another fave fashion store of mine, where Teresa found a few more additions to her wardrobe, then down to the new Joie de Vivre store (below) where Teresa found some sweetly fragranced body creams. The new store is twice as big as the previous location further up the street, and offers a lovely range of goodies for your face, body and mind.  www.joiedevivrearomatherapy.com20160726_134850 20160726_134855One of the new Walton Street shops we found (new to me, anyway) was the Marche 59 cafe and artisan bakery (below) offering organic breads, vegan and gluten-free tasty treats and all sorts of goodies from local producers. Must give ’em a try next time I’m in town. www.marche59.ca20160726_132750 20160726_132754Time to head over to the beach so we made our way down Walton Street, past these beautiful hibiscus pots, along the riverbank to Teresa’s car parked near the Municipal offices….20160726_135057 20160726_144822…then over to the lake (Lake Ontario). Wow, what a lovely glimpse of the beach (below)20160726_14575520160726_145915We even saw a dad teaching his son how to fish…so cute!20160726_150323Thanks again, Port Hope, for your warm welcome – it always feels like coming home for me. See y’all again real soon.20150613_111719

 

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Join me for a tasty trip to the TORONTO BAKERS’ MARKET!

If only we had a “taste-o-vision” app where you could actually “taste” the yummy food photographs. Well, I’ll do my best for you here as I take you for a walk around the brand new TORONTO BAKERS’ MARKET held monthly in Leslieville www.torontobakersmarket.com

When I arrived at the market on Queen East just past Broadview at 12 noon, there was a line-up of hungry shoppers all excited to see what deelish treats awaited us inside. The doors were opened and we were welcomed by one of the organizers, Kathleen, so why don’t I let her tell you about it before we head inside….

Now let’s walk thru the doors and see who’s there…20160724_120206First off, I said hello to Katarina of Dolled Up Desserts (above), a local gluten-free and vegan bakery www.dolledupdesserts.com  Lots of dainty dolled-up treats here!
Next to Katarina were the fun ladies of Jammy Dodger, a bakery specializing in “whimsy and yum”. Check out these crazy Benedict Cumberbatcheos (below).  www.jammydodgerbakery.com20160724_120250 20160724_120257Then the next booth was deadly for me…they offered sticky toffee buns. I was proud of myself that I resisted…sort of. I only bought one from the Sugar Rush Bakery (below).  It’s already disappeared, tho, so apologies for not posting a close-up. Trust me it was deeeelicious!  You can follow them on Instagram: @sugarrushto20160724_120309Holy Cannoli was a very popular booth – I kept seeing shoppers walking around the hall with freshly stuffed cannolis courtesy of these cheerful bakers (below). www.holy-cannoli.com 20160724_120410 20160724_120415By this time, most of us needed a quick cuppa coffee to counter the sugar overload and Sparkplug Coffee certainly delivered. In fact, that’s what they do – coffee delivered to your office or home.  www.sparkplugcoffee.com20160724_120428Back to some serious nibbling…. next up, Molly’s the Bar Bakeshop.  Lots of yummy (and healthy!) bars to enjoy.  You can follow them on Instagram at @mollysbars20160724_12052320160724_120539Franny & Co. (below) offered some elegant and very decadent desserts, all gluten free, sugar free, plant-based and with sustainable ingredients. www.frannyandco.com 20160724_120616I was completely charmed by Sol Cookies (below) – a Toronto-based Peruvian bakery that incorporates some exciting “secret” ingredients (eg. anise) that really elevate them to a whole other level. Here are some tiny sample cookies – they have a soft shortbread quality to them with a special filling. Definitely recommend checking this company out. www.solcookies.ca20160724_120713 20160724_120720More cheery bakers welcomed me to the Fancy AF Small Batch Cookery booth with their cookies and fresh biscottis. You can follow them on Instagram  @fancyafcookery  Don’t you just love their fancy pinnies (pinafores)?20160724_120756 20160724_120814Rosie B Baked Treats (below) was a very popular booth; her home-baked fruit pies were fantastic! Couldn’t get close to her for a quick chat, thanks to all the crowds. Follow her @eugeniarb20160724_120829Lovely to see my Yorkville neighbour, the Dessert Lady who brought along her staff to help serve samples to the market visitors (below). So many yummy treats including custom cakes and Moon Pies (Sheldon Cooper’s fave dessert – for all you Big Bang Theory fans)  www.dessertlady.ca20160724_120836 20160724_12090620160724_120914Dollop Bakery offered delightful tiny treats (below) – they specialize in miniature, bite sized desserts ideal for parties, wedding favours or kiddies.  www.dollopbakery.com20160724_121011Local  chocolatier M.Thompson Chocolates served up their milk and dark chocolate boxes (below) – good job the A/C was working full blast – no melting, no worries! www.mthompsonchocolates.com20160724_121045Next I dropped in to say hi to Keiko, one of the organizers of the Toronto Bakers’ Market. Like all the vendors today, she had a big happy smile on her face. Everyone in the hall seemed to be smiling which made shopping all the more enjoyable. 20160724_121123Oh yummm…here’s Monkey Butter, the gourmet peanut butter company and oh what fab packaging! You gotta visit next month and try a mouthful of this…..it was eye-rolling to heaven time! www.monkeybutterpb.com20160724_121153 20160724_121205Clarke’s Bread is simply awesome! After one little sample, I bought a loaf of crunchy fresh sourdough (below). OMG, as soon as I got home, out came the breadknife and I enjoyed a couple of thick slices with some scrambled eggs. Yumm. Follow them on Instagram: @clarkesbread20160724_121237Just look at that elegant tiered cake by Tiffany Hoo Fatt! She also brought some easier to carry delights from her Tiered Cake Boutique such as cupcakes and cookies. Follow her on Instagram: @tieredcakeboutique20160724_121313 20160724_121322Oh! Cocoa Balls hand-crafts their all-natural energy bites that are gluten, grain & dairy free with no refined sugar. And they taste great, too. www.cocoaballs.com Perfect for those of us needing to cut out all the bad stuff while enjoying the naughty stuff…LOL20160724_121405 20160724_121410I just love these ladies at Desiree Cakes & Baked Treats.  It was the cute as a button Peter Rabbit cake (will somebody please buy me this cake for MY birthday?!) featured in my title photo (up top) that stopped me in my tracks…then I explored their table further and discovered so many delectable treats, all daintily displayed.  You can follow Desiree (pictured below L) on Instagram: @desireebakes  20160724_121536 20160724_121552Here’s balabusta – lots of fabulous sweet & savory breads and other treats handcrafted in Tal Prashkovsky’s own kitchen. Another busy busy booth where I couldn’t chat with the in-demand baker. Follow her on Instagram: @balabusta_by_tal20160724_121604 20160724_121640Meet Karen & Laura from Honeydew Creations (below). So many cookies to choose from, so little space left in my tummy! Lovely packaging and delicious flavours – pick your own from here: www.honeydewcreations.com 20160724_121649 20160724_121653 20160724_121700Well, by now I was starting to get a wee bit tired but like a real trooper, I kept on going and I made it to the next booth, Baking in the 6ix. (below) More super deelish sweet treats including pretty in pink cupcakes and iced donuts. They’re on Instagram at:  @bakinginthe6ix20160724_121736Whew, I made it to the Klusters booth…gourmet nuts, seeds, fruit & kale trail mixes. Aaaah, that should get me thru to the end of this foodie trail! Founder Michelle Spring is a holistic baker and nutritionist – guess I should have asked her about my own diet which was definitely challenged today! www.arealhandful.com 20160724_12180920160724_121817 20160724_121822The Blue Eyed Baker certainly added a little eye-candy to the market (ladies, any man who bakes this good is a treasure, blue-eyed or not). Let’s all go Friend him on Fcbk!  www.facebook.com/theblueeyedbaker200820160724_121848 20160724_121858Chocolate chocolate chocolate….THIS is my kryptonite!  Mary’s Brigadeiro are fine Brazilian chocolate truffle-like treats that are a “party in your mouth”.  You MUST try these – simply heavenly. Check out www.marysbsweets.com for more info and hopefully Mary will be back at the next Toronto Bakers’ Market – you’ll have to stand behind me as I will be first in line then!20160724_12261520160724_12261020160724_120146So a big CONGRATULATIONS to sisters Kathleen & Gillian Gook, Jayne Ambler and Keiko Flower who organized this fabulous new local foodie market. I look forward to the next one, August 21 at the Ralph Thornton Centre, 765 Queen East (just a few blocks past Broadview). See you there, folks! www.torontobakersmarket.com

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TORONTO’S SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS TO PRESENT ACTOR/PLAYWRIGHT WALLACE SHAWN’S PROVOCATIVE “AUNT DAN & LEMON” THIS SEPTEMBER

Toronto-based SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS is thrilled to bring actor/playwright Wallace Shawn’s dark, provocative and polarizing play AUNT DAN & LEMON to local audiences for the first time in nearly 3 decades when they raise the curtain at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace on September 14th for a 2 week run.Aunt D & l posterAunt Dan & Lemon takes us into the world of a young recluse named Lemon (alias Leonora) who spends her nights reading chronicles of Nazi atrocities. Lemon tells the audience about the overwhelming influence in her life of her parents’ friend “Aunt Dan,” an eccentric, passionate professor whose stories and seductive opinions enthrall Lemon from the time she is a young girl. The relationship that develops between Lemon and Aunt Dan and the conversations that went on in a small house on the bottom of an English garden form the focus of this play about political orientation and the allure of certain ideas-even if they lead to murder. A forceful play exposing the banality of society’s evil, Aunt Dan & Lemon explores the ease with which good and bad become reconciled in the human mind.

Director DAN SPURGEON recently told me… Although the play premiered over thirty years ago and has seen prominent revivals both in New York and the West End, its messages may be more relevant now than ever before. The Trump candidacy and the Brexit vote have revealed a disturbing trend towards racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism, and Shawn’s script brilliantly examines how such abhorrent mindsets can come from even the most benign sources and banal experiences. Considering it hasn’t been seen in Toronto since Tarragon Theatre’s Dora-nominated 1987 production, the time is absolutely right for revisiting this intelligent, uncanny and frightening work.

The world premiere of Aunt Dan & Lemon was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, producer) at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England on August 27, 1985. Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride – pictured below) played Lemon’s father plus various ensemble roles in this original production. Wallace ShawnThis production opened off-Broadway at The Public Theater on October 21, 1985 with Academy Award winning actress Linda Hunt (Year of Living Dangerously – below) portraying Aunt Lemon. linda huntNearly 20 years later, the play received a New York revival off-Broadway in 2004 at the Acorn Theatre with TV’s Kristen Johnston (Third Rock From the Sun & Sex in the City) playing Aunt Dan and Lili Taylor (The Conjuring, Blood Ties) playing Lemon (pictured below L & R respectively)Kristen & LiliDirector Spurgeon went on to explain…. One of the most interesting things about this play is the playwright’s forcing the audience out of their comfort zone, by refusing to acknowledge the standard storytelling tropes we’re used to – there is no hero or villain, no separation of “the good guys” from “the bad guys.” The main conflict occurs between the playwright and a complacent audience, with the revelation of uncomfortable truths and questions about the modern world.

So mark your calendars for when Aunt Dan & Lemon confronts and challenges Toronto audiences once again.  All performances at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace theatre. Ticket information and times will be posted closer to opening. Follow Shadowtime Prods. on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/shadowtimeprodns

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UKRAINIAN-CDN ARTIST JANNA KROUPKO LAUNCHES “TAPESTRY” SHOW OF WOVEN ART & PAINTINGS @ URBAN GALLERY

URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East in Toronto, is presenting a unique show over the month of July – the stunning woven art and paintings by JANNA KROUPKO, a Ukrainian-Canadian artist now residing in Toronto. This is Janna’s second show at Urban Gallery and I spoke with curator, Allen Shugar, during yesterday’s launch party.

Bold and colourful, Janna‘s hand-woven textiles and paintings are imbued with the artist’s vibrant energy. She brings her forms to life with her intuitive sense of space, colour and design. Like her 2015 Dreamscapes exhibition at Urban Gallery (pictured below) , these current works show her immense talent and passion for art in nature and the world around us.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABorn in the Ukraine, Janna arrived in Canada in 1997; her artistic career had developed in Kazakhstan working in Fibre Art (Gobelin), oil and acrylic painting, and interior design. Her works range from miniatures to multi-panel installations, and can be found in public collections, museums, and institutions in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, and in private collections all over the world.20160709_142839 20160709_145123Janna welcomed a number of fellow artists to her opening, including painter Erik Chong and sculptor Olga Nabatova (pictured below)…20160709_143112 20160709_145341Apart from Janna’s large woven pieces, she is also showcasing a number of miniatures that are quite charming……20160709_142930(0) 20160709_142938Everyone seemed attracted to this stunning colourful vertical tapestry (below) so I took a close-up to show the intricacy of Janna’s work.20160709_143017 20160709_145111And here are some more close-ups of her hand-woven art….20160709_143054 20160709_143609For gallery hours, details on this show and other upcoming events, visit www.urbangallery.ca20160709_142901 20160709_142831