Monthly Archives: April 2016

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WRITER/ARTIST DONNA LYPCHUK OPENS “ART FOR LOUNGES, LOBBIES & LIVING ROOMS” SHOW FOR CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL

Last night I was thrilled to attend the opening of my dear friend DONNA LYPCHUK‘s show that’s part of this year’s CONTACT Photography Festival taking place at galleries and venues across Toronto throughout the month of May.20160429_174325Hosted in the unique setting of Mrs.Huizengas Antique Emporium @28 Roncesvalles Ave, the 60+ framed and unframed photographic prints feature stunning landscapes, floral portraits and sassy street scenes. The show also includes one of Donna’s most famous shots of a hurricane-like tempest over Toronto back in August of 2015 – this photo went viral over the internet, was published by news outlets across the country and became Instagram’s “Photo of the Day”. It is also the title photo for Donna’s show promotional materials (see bottom of blog).20160429_174352A long-time resident and arts scene contributor of the Queen Street West Bo-ho community, Donna was a weekly columnist (“the necrofile”) for the now-defunct eye Weekly newspaper as well as a published author, playwright and multi-media artist…… and my dear friend since the early 80’s when we both worked at Yuk Yuk’s. Her own sense of humour and whimsy can be seen in a number of her photos, as well as her “darker side”.  I particularly liked her charming “Swan” series, esp. the full-colour framed print featured below….20160429_17434420160429_174618Donna greeted all her friends who dropped in to admire her work and support the show, and I watched as several prints were sold, too – congrats, Donna! For those wishing to purchase her work, Donna (below, centre) has priced her photo prints very affordably – you can pick up a great picture for as little as $16 or as much as $160.20160429_181804 20160429_174355 20160429_174315Donna’s florals attracted a lot of attention – here are two of my faves….20160429_180709 20160429_180749(0)I really liked this one (above) as the trees look like naked bodies dancing thru the flowers!!

I highly recommend checking out these beautiful photos that will hang in Mrs. Huizengas throughout the month of May…and have fun checking out all the kitsch and vintage treasures in this huge antique emporium. For store hours call T: 416-533-2112.  Thank you for supporting Canadian artists….especially Donna Lypchukimg328

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

YEE-HAAAW! TORONTO JOURNALISTS COWBOY-UP TO LAUNCH THE CALGARY STAMPEDE’S 2016 MEDIA CAMPAIGN

Last night I had an absolute blast with the folks from the CALGARY STAMPEDE and their local PR reps, Immedia PR at the Boots & Bourbon Saloon on Queen St East. All us city-slicker media types had a hoot’n’hollering good time pressing the flesh with all the cowboys, rodeo queens, the beautiful and charming Indian Princess and marketing representatives of the “greatest show on earth” taking place out west this July. 20160428_174224So nice to be greeted at the front door by such pretty cowgirls (above) who were all well-versed in the history of Canada’s premiere outdoor western festival. I brought along my singer/songwriter friend Laura Rock (www.lrockmusic.com) who immediately became a fan of country music!!20160428_180430The drinks and food were simply outstanding! The catering was handled by Good Son Restaurant as well as Boots & Bourbon’s own team, and the mouthwatering BBQ treats would satisfy even the most jaded old trail hand. They were all served by the cutest waitresses and bartenders. Ladies, you looked after us so well, thank you, and the massive buffalo cheesy balls (2nd pic) were incredible….yummmmmm20160428_183007 20160428_180159(0) 20160428_180007Lots of great photo opps with all the Stampede celebs and mgmn’t….here I’m flanked by (LtoR) bullrider Kynan Vine plus dancer, language keeper, traditional storyteller and cultural presenter Treffrey Deerfoot and chuck wagoneer extraordinaire Mark Sutherland.20160428_181118I participated in the event social media challenge, hashtagging all my Instagram pics and videos…whew, that was exhausting, but I was thrilled to see Likes and Follows from as far away as Texas, Florida, California and even Mexico!20160428_175935I was particularly excited to see that a Ft. Worth boot designer liked this pic I snapped of our lovely Indian Princess’s stunning hand-tooled boots…what do you think of them?20160428_194116Even shots of the Boots & Bourbon interior garnered lots of social media attention…20160428_17452220160428_183032We were all a little nervous about seeing the mechanical bull set up…no, don’t make me get on. I wouldn’t last 2 seconds let alone 8, especially after a couple of drinks…yikes!  Fortunately it disappeared before the intro’s and official announcements were made. Whew!20160428_182933Everyone was excited to hear the entertainment line-up at this year’s Stampede, especially these folks from Budweiser who were particularly impressed with the announcement of Aaron Pritchett as one of the musical guests.20160428_192212 20160428_192446The entertainment was provided by The Washboard Union band who had everyone up on the dancefloor…20160428_193319

I followed (stalked?) sponsor Jonathan Welsh of Banff Trail Riders through the crowd….great jacket!20160428_193449I then ran into one of my fave reality TV hosts Kevin Brauch (formerly The Thirsty Traveller, from back when reality tv really was fun and entertaining!). Kevin (below) had received his souvenir white Stetson earlier and had spent time “decorating” it for the event….LOL20160428_184853 20160428_185433…and I loved all the cowgirl fashion. When I was little, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a cowgirl. These ladies are lucky to be living MY life…grrrrr20160428_182257 20160428_182304After all the western fun, food and friendship, Laura and I rode the rails (subway rails, that is) home. I’m sure we scared a few fellow riders with our antics. LOL!!

20160428_200842 20160428_200915And when I walked in my front door I just had to share my adventure with my own western compadres….20160428_202336 20160428_202422Check out some of the goodies in my gift bag…20160428_202642Thank you to EVERYONE involved in presenting such a fun media launch. If you’ve never been to the Calgary Stampede before, this is the year to go. All details can be found at www.CalgaryStampede.com and please visit their sponsor sites, too.

Banff trail Riders  www.horseback.com

Alberta’s group of Fairmont Hotels:  www.Fairmont.com 

Boots & Bourbon Saloon: www.bootsbourbon.com

The Washboard Union band: www.thewashboardunion.com/

Jelly Modern Donuts:  www.jellymoderndoughnuts.com

Immedia PR: www.immediapr.com

Blog title photo courtesy of Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

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THE FIFTH SHOWCASES EVENT SPACES, DINING & PARTY FACILITIES IN TORONTO’S ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT

I was thrilled to attend the annual “Up and Down” special events industry soiree last Tuesday at the elegantly appointed multi-purpose dining and party venue THE FIFTH INC. located in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district (225 Richmond St West).  They always put on a fabulous tasting menu whenever they host such events and I would certainly encourage anyone to visit the various spaces in the huge building for casual dining, social meet-ups, corporate events or weddings and other celebrations – they have a room and ambiance to suit every occasion!

Accompanied by my fabulous hairstylist and friend, Cathie D. (who played peek-a-book with one of the bar plants!!), we first entered their Fifth Social Club on the main floor where the airy light space offered numerous  comfy seating nooks, large stand-up bars and on that night, a great oyster bar!20160426_173303 20160426_173654 20160426_173500We then moved through to Cabin 5, the rustic Canadian-eh style bar for casual drinks and the bartender was working so hard making smart cocktails for us all that it was hard to snap her without the blur of the drink shaker..LOLCabin 520160426_174114….and I loved the kitschy picture on the wall over the DJ booth….happy kitties!!20160426_175352Cathie and I then went upstairs to the Fifth Terrace on the roof which is open year-round and offers great views across the city. I’ve snapped the CN Tower on previous occasions and although it was a bit overcast on this evening, I still had to take a quick pic of it, along with the deelish sweet treats on offer. Yummmmm….pink macaroons!!!!20160426_18151620160426_181503The Fifth Grill Dining Room is also up top and the place looked awesome, fully dressed to kill!20160426_182222 20160426_182228To end our visit, we enjoyed a great nosh downstairs in The Fifth Gastropub where we indulged ourselves with complimentary fish & chips and a frosty beer….20160426_184535 gastroBig thank you to the management & staff of The Fifth for their warm hospitality and deelish catering – definitely a great place to visit or hold a swanky do.   www.thefifth.comfifth

20160415_145001

A WALK BACK THRU TIME IN TORONTO’S HISTORIC CABBAGETOWN NEIGHBOURHOOD

Yesterday was such a lovely sunny day that I decided to down tools and step away from the ‘puter to enjoy a leisurely stroll thru one of Toronto’s historic old neighbourhoods – Cabbagetown. This was where I lived in the late 70’s when, as a starving actor/waitress, I shared a 3 storey semi at the end of Wellesley Street with 3 other actors & musicians, and next door to the fabulous Carole Pope & Kevin Staples of Rough Trade fame (Canada’s edgiest new wave/punk bands of the era).20160415_133443Above left is #445, my old house – I had the large master bedroom on the 2nd floor front – the dormer that jutted out over the front porch was the cosy alcove where I had my bed. Next door at #443 (above at right), I would watch an amazing procession of fabulous celebrity house guests knock on my neighbour’s front door …all manner of music stars would hang out with Carole when they came to town. I remember watching legendary Dusty Springfield wander up the garden path one afternoon – how exciting!  Cabbagetown was a haven for artists, actors, musicians and hippies back then…it was affordable to share the houses, most of which were run-down shadows of their former grand selves. But at the royal sum of $500 a month all inclusive, we still never quite made rent on time…LOL! But walking east on Wellesley yesterday, heading into this charming little enclave (below) brought back so many memories of innocent (but fun) times….come take a walk with me now.20160415_132759The residents association has been busy over the years, creating walking tours of the streets and gardens and they’ve posted all sorts of plaques designating certain homes as historical landmarks. I never knew a member of this famous Hollywood family once lived on Wellesley Street…did you?20160415_132834A couple of blocks south is a street full of picturesque workers’ cottages, now sympathetically renovated to suit their 21st century owners – this is Amelia Street. I always loved walking along here back in the 70’s as although most of these homes were rundown and scruffy, you could see the great “bones” and 19th or early 20th century design elements. Look at these gorgeous little chocolate box homes….20160415_14432420160415_14440420160415_14441420160415_14473320160415_145018I remember wanting to move into this charming 1920’s/30’s apartment building (above) as it looked so cool, even 40yrs ago when it was rather shabby and unpainted. Rent was about $275 to $350 a month back then…now, probably closer to $1500/mo.
This was once a cute handcrafted furniture store (below) when I lived in the ‘hood but it’s now been made into a private residence. Wouldn’t it make a lovely little antique shop or even a cosy tea room?20160415_144847This (below) has got to be one of the cutest cottages on the street, now the home offices for a design firm…20160415_145413…and opposite that is this modern make-over. I love the back-split balconies and the paint colour.20160415_145127Of course, being a vibrant community there are always notices posted about upcoming events as well as pleas for help finding lost loved ones. On one lamp-post I saw this rather sad flyer…I hope Lefty comes home soon!20160415_145154On a happier note, I took a quick side trip to the Riverdale Farm (below) – back when I lived there it was still called a “zoo” as they had all manner of exotic beasties living there including highland cattle and some bighorn sheep…50 or 60 yrs ago they kept a sad assortment of wild animals including bears and big cats in tiny cruel metal cages -I think the old deserted bear house may still be there down the back near the ravine. But yesterday it was all about the cute baby farmyard critters…20160415_141258 20160415_141351 20160415_142218 20160415_142256 20160415_142059 20160415_141708 20160415_141645 20160415_142415Opposite the park and farm used to stand Jeremiah’s Ice Cream Store which served up frozen treats to generations of families. Now the shop has been made into a private home (below) but at least they still operate an ice cream and snack food bar out of the side window. 20160415_141107In the park stands a noticeboard pointing out all the houses that once were home to various leading lights in Toronto and Canadian history (below). These correspond with the plaques posted on each property (like the Walter Huston one). Sadly, I couldn’t find a plaque for one of Canada’s greatest Olympic ice skaters and fine artists, Toller Cranston, who had a home and studio on Winchester near Parliament Street. I remember walking past, looking up into his studio window and seeing Toller busy painting – he would often wave back at me. I think it’s time to make amends and get the 70’s groundbreaking ice skater and avant garde painter properly acknowledged.20160415_143423As I walked out of this timeless village and back into reality on Parliament Street, I walked past Nettleship’s Hardware – this store has been there for decades and I remember when I worked part-time at Tom Foolery (one of the first vintage clothing stores in the city back in the 70’s), the owners and I used to hang out with Donny, the son who ran the shop. I betcha he’s still there. Must make an effort to go in and say hi next time I’m in the neighbourhood.20160415_145927(0)So I hope you enjoyed this little pictorial stroll thru my Cabbagetown. I definitely recommend visiting, esp the first weekend of May when they host a neighbourhood-wide Forsythia Festival. The trees are just now starting to bud and there are a few early spring flowers popping up…so much to see but make sure you look up as well, then you’ll notice antique weather veins such as this one (below) or you may even spot a couple of pink flamingos still dressed in their winter scarves & toques (bottom).20160415_14403520160415_145048

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I GET A CHECK-UP @ TORONTO’S TOTAL HEALTH SHOW

Yesterday (Sunday) I spent some time strolling the aisles of the annual Total Health Show down at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), learning about new health & wellness products and protocols. It was great to run into Greg Emerson of THE EDGE, who was a client several years ago when he and his wife Stella introduced the unique blue-green algae supplements for humans and animals. Here’s Greg (below) manning The Edge booth – I encourage you to check out the product  for yourself here: www.theEdgeUp.ca20160410_14222820160410_142242Along another aisle, I was immediately drawn to the jewellery designed and created by Veronica Ciandre of iSOLA Jewellery (below). She uses semi-precious stones and crystals, then threads them together using nature’s numbers in the form of the ‘Fibonacci Sequence’, also known as ‘The Divine Code’ or ‘The Pattern of Creation’ (if you’ve seen The DaVinci Code movie, you’ll understand this). Veronica told me this brings increased harmony and balance to the body and mind when worn, and exponential growth in all areas of your life when used to focus the mind in meditation.  All the materials used have healing properties whose frequencies are increased by the use of the Sequence in the beading pattern. www.iloveisola.com20160410_143332 20160410_144637 20160410_144625Veronica is taking her iSOLA Jewellery to next weekend’s Green Living Show, also at the MTCC, so be sure to drop by and tell her I sent you.

I really liked the Gel Heating Pads and various cooling wraps ideal for “ladies of a certain age”…LOL! Sold online as well as at consumer shows like Total Health Show, they come in various sizes and colours and are perfect for temperature control – I picked up a couple of mini heat pads for my bestie, Erena, who is always cold so hopefully she’ll make good use of them during these last few chilly days of April.  www.heatinaclick.com20160410_143253 20160410_143236 20160410_143156One the best new products I found (and yes, I purchased a couple) are these CLEAN SIP drinking straws (below) that are actually water filters that you can take with you anywhere so you can drink tap water at restaurants, sports stadiums, campgrounds, other countries where contaminents may be an issue (you can avoid Delhi belly or Montezuma’s revenge!!) and airline water (I always doubt the quality of water stored in metal drums in the belly of planes!!)  Check it out yourself: www.cleansip.com 20160410_150215 20160410_132729This truly portable personal water filter lasts for upto 6 months and inside the straw there’s activated charcoal, a microfilter and other patented material that ensures clean water via this revolutionary ionic water purifier. Definitely recommend you check it out. While I was at the booth, a Serbian TV news crew was taping an interview with the boss (below) so the word is spreading around the world about this Canadian company, CleanSip. 20160410_150221For all my friends in the incentives business – Clean Sip straws are ideal as corporate gifts or merchandise as it allows for logos and other messages printed on the straw casing itself.

This year’s Total Health Show was filled with food and supplement samples, demonstrations and daily presentations and guest speakers to enlighten, educate and astound us. Make sure you visit next year: www.totalhealthshow.com 20160410_151051

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ARTIST GARY BARNETT UNVEILS STUNNING “A CLOSER LOOK” SHOW @ URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

Wow! I was blown away by GARY BARNETT‘s beautiful series of mixed acrylics on board and canvas titled “A Closer Look” that opened today at Urban Gallery (400 Queen St East, Toronto). The Kitchener, Ontario, artist welcomed many friends and fans with a wine and cheese reception, and I must say I was under the artist’s spell from the moment I walked thru the gallery door!20160409_15385820160409_15385020160409_15141420160409_15394920160409_154217Here’s Gary busy explaining his technique to fellow artist Brenda Clews...20160409_145259 20160409_145312Let’s hear what he has to say….

I ran into the fabulous Kaspara Albertsen, previous gallery goddess at Urban, now working with a film production company in Toronto…we both thought Gary’s work was so hot I needed to work my fan hard for the both of us!!20160409_144936 20160409_151429And gallery curator Allen Shugar (above right) was happy to share Gary’s work (and a glass or two of wine) with a friend.
The gallery was hoppin’ and everyone was fascinated with the textures Gary incorporates into each painting, which is why he also supplied Sherlock Holmes’ style magnifying glasses for us all to use to get a “close up” view of his work.20160409_145153 20160409_145307 20160409_145345 20160409_145405 20160409_145426 20160409_145408 20160409_14544520160409_151355 20160409_154001 20160409_154147

Join me for a quick virtual tour of some of my fave pieces featured in Gary’s show…

I encourage you all to visit in person; Gary’s work is very affordable for anyone wanting to add a piece to their personal art collection (or to start building one) with prices ranging from $300 to $1,050. This one, Indigenous Fossil (below) may just have to come home with me….I kept coming back to it as if it called my name. What do you think?20160409_154207

For gallery hours & directions, please visit: www.urbangallery.ca
For more information on Gary, please visit his website: www.garybarnett.ca

IN MAGAZINE TEAM-1

URBANSOURCE CATERING & URBAN GALLERY HOST IN MAGAZINE’S SNEAK PEAK OF THIS YEAR’S TORONTO PRIDE EVENTS

Last night, IN Magazine held their Community Networking event with a sneak peak of Toronto’s Pride 2016 events, sponsored by the TD Bank, in the Urban Gallery space (400 Queen St East) with deelish treats catered by UrbanSource Catering.

Publisher Patricia Salib was joined by Reggie Lanuza (Dir. of Operations), Woodrow Monteiro (Sr A/c Director), Christopher Turner (guest editor for their Lady Gaga issue) and hard-working intern Joel Ducharme as they welcomed guests and sponsor reps for an evening of cocktails, fabulous hors d’oeuvres and networking.  The guests all enjoyed the stunning artwork of Gary Barnett, Urban Gallery’s artist for April, whose show officially opens tomorrow (Sat. Apr. 9).
Here’s publisher Patricia with her husband Boris, and with A/c Director Woodrow (bottom pic)
Patricia and husband Boris PRIDE 2016 Presentation Pride Flag Raising Ceremony Woodrow Monterio and Patricia Salib from IN MAGAZINE
Some of the delectable treats included…..Sriracha prawns with bacon, seafood Kokoda spoons, a gourmet fruit & cheese buffet, Cajun salmon cakes with “comeback” sauce:Sriracha Prawns with bacon Seafood Kokoda Spoons UrbanSource Catering Charcuterie Table Cajun Salmon Cakes with Comeback Sauce
as well as port-poached pears with ricotta and candied walnuts, and  roasted grape & Burrata on torn basil & crostini (yummmm)
Port-poached Pears with ricotta and candide walnuts
Roasted Grape and Buratta with torn basil on crostini
Congrats to the Urban Catering and Gallery team (below) who made the night such a success for the folks of IN Magazine, and be sure to visit each website (see below).
Calvin, Wayne and the URBAN SOURCE CATERING Crew