Monthly Archives: November 2018

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Celebrating the festive season in Port Hope (Part 2)

Day 2 in Port Hope and I was awakened to the deelish smells of fresh coffee and bacon frying up in the kitchen. After a quick “bird bath” I went downstairs to be greeted by my hosts Corinne & Ron who own the Summerhill Manor B&B, pictured below taken from their website.

www.SummerhillManor.com

www.SummerhillManor.com

Even though Saturday morning was rather overcast and grey, their charming tearoom was bright and cheery and I enjoyed the nutritious breakie set before me – perfect for fueling my day of watching the Santa Claus Parade.20181124_084028 20181124_083633 20181124_083727 20181124_083711After downing several cups of piping hot coffee, I set off to wander the town, looking for further adventures and making new friends. During the previous night’s wagon ride, I sat with a lovely lady, Claudia, and her family – she told me she worked at a hair salon & spa and I should come in for a quick manicure…so I did. A really great way to spend half an hour, tidying up my fingernails and learning more about the town – you know bartenders and salon ladies are THE best people when it comes to local gossip and news. I found Studio 100 a couple of blocks down from the B&B and the lovely Brianna welcomed me and took me thru to the chi-chi poo-poo spa rooms and worked some serious magic on my cuticles…thank you, Bwww.studio100.ca20181124_105304 20181124_105052After I emerged from the spa side with fab sparkly fingers, look who I found hard at work doing a client’s hair….Claudia!20181124_105059Studio 100 is definitely worth the drive from Toronto (gorgeous decor, great prices & talented, friendly staff) – sorry, I didn’t take more pics but there were clients in all stages of hair foil and spa treatments so I respected their privacy.

I then wandered across one of the bridges over the Ganaraska River, saying hello to these festive Christmas “ambassadors”…20181124_105459…and then I found PharmaSave, the big drugstore Val told me about the previous night. Wow, she was so right – so many fab gift ideas and home decor as well as all manner of nifty health care accessories and daily grocery supplies. And I loved their prices, too! It’s more like a department store, filled with clothing, Christmas decorations, Hannukah menorahs & candles, jewellery, scented candles….Santa’s one-stop shop for the entire family!20181124_111513I then made my way back to Walton Street and visited Roger at Dreamers Cafe, who showed me around his “Tardis” of a restaurant/coffee shop (if you’re a Dr. Who fan, you’ll know what I mean). His Christmas tree was so pretty, as was his mantle which was decorated with a tiny holiday village. www.dreamerscafe.ca20181124_112521 20181123_212746 20181123_212737As it was close to 1pm parade kick-off, I quickly made my way to where the Northumberland TV cameras were set up and Ken Bell was getting ready for his colour-commentary duties…but oh no, down came the rain. It was a deluge and the street was suddenly lined with umbrellas and the kids huddled beneath mum and dad’s coats, waiting eagerly for the big man in red to go by regardless of the cold and wet.

After toughing it out and getting thoroughly drenched, I very smartly decided to enter the BMO Instant Teller foyer on the corner. Inside I found a lovely heater, a bench plus a HUGE picture window from which I could safely bring out my phone camera and snap what views I could of the parade. 20181124_134347And you can tell I was really into the whole parade thing…SANTA!!! Yes, I was able to video the big man from the safety and dryness of the bank lobby, along with a few others who had sought refuge with me….

 

The parade wound its way through the streets and headed out to the Firefighters’ Museum about half a mile away. I had planned to follow and have a photo taken sitting on Santa’s lap but the rain and cold forced a change of plans….I needed some retail therapy and warm comfort! My Sister’s Closet is a cool vintage, gently worn and new clothing boutique offering all manner of fab fashion finds. Owner Tammy welcomed me, along with her colleague Faye, and I was thrilled to find some really gorgeous boots – what do you think?20181124_141156 20181124_141338 20181124_141408 20181124_141533I had previously met Tammy a few years ago when she had worked in a now-closed fashion store on Walton Street, and she remembered me when I shopped there with my BFF Erena who purchased a few items from her. Now Tammy is queen of her own domain in this amazing store with all its nooks and crannies, including a vintage wedding dress corner.20181124_142256Definitely check the store out when you visit Port Hope…you can easily spend an hour or so combing thru the racks! www.mysistersclosetporthope.com 

Another of my fave stores to visit is G. Facey, which has been in business for 20+ years, bringing Canadian and int’l designer lines to the town’s fashionistas of all ages. Owner Teri-Jo welcomed me Friday night when the store was packed with shoppers trying on clothes and oo’ing and aah’ing over the great prices (so I didn’t take any pics out of respect for their privacy). It may not look big from the street but the store goes way back with different departments and spacious change rooms. Lots of men’s designer lines are on the racks, too, and when I visited there were two gentlemen trying on gorgeous shirts.  Wish I could have photographed them as they looked so handsome.  www.gfaceys.com20181125_132208That night, I attended the “naughty” King Arthur Christmas pantomime presented at the Capitol Theatre, another historical building, but again, I had to schlep my way through the pouring rain so no pics of the theatre marquee, damn! Enjoyed another late night snack at Nookie’s (see Pt. 1 blog) then off to bed at the B&B.

Sunday morning dawned bright with the rain just a memory. Another yummy breakfast of eggs and bacon at Summerhill Manor…20181125_133339…then a little more time strolling the historic streets before I headed back to Toronto. I visited Mercury Chocolates to pick up some treats for my friend Laura who I got hooked on the organic, dark chocolates created in-house by talented foodie Darren Johnswww.mercurychocolates.com20181009_142535…and, of course, one last visit to Queenie’s for a special treat!20181125_113112 20181124_113131So thank you to the people of Port Hope for making me feel so welcome. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all the friendly shopkeepers, artisans & craftspeople, the artists of Critical Mass and to my hosts at the Summerhill Manor. As Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say…“I’ll be back”!20181124_111738

 

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Celebrating the festive season in Port Hope (Part1)

This past weekend, I decided to join my friends in Port Hope to celebrate the Christmas season, so I booked my VIA Rail ticket and set off for my adventure on Friday afternoon. Before arriving in Cobourg (the main rail stop for area), the train whistled hello to Port Hope as we rode across the Ganaraska River over the big bridge. Woohoo!

On this Friday night, Port Hope merchants presented their annual Midnight Madness late night shopping, after the townsfolk strolled the streets during the candlelight walk to the main park for the Christmas lighting ceremony and opening of the nativity scene in the bandshell. I was thrilled when I was “adopted” by a lovely family and got to join them on the candlelight walk (thanks, Val from Pharmasave, for bringing me into the family).

20181123_190539 20181123_192017 20181123_192020Lots of fun rides and activities, including VIA Rail‘s mini train chugging around the streets, full of laughing kids and parents. What fun!20181123_192638And everybody loved the maple syrup pops made fresh, courtesy of the local Home Hardware store. Yummm!

I also took a ride on the wagon drawn by 2 big Shire horses thru the streets, then spent time injecting some cash into the local economy…yes, it was time to shop!!

As always, my first stop was at Queenie’s Bake Shop where owner Adam (that’s him on the TV screen) and his staff were running a toy drive and I was happy to donate a couple of treasures, too.  www.queenies-bake-shop.business.site/20181124_113140 20181123_162352Then off I went next door to the Kenneth Bell jewellery & fashion boutique for some retail therapy and shopping for pressies. Ken was kind enough to pick me up from the station and bring me into Port Hope that afternoon. We always share a laugh when I visit… www.kennethbell.com

20181123_172143 20181123_171608 20181123_171552After my credit card got a good workout at Ken’s, I then went to visit the elegant and friendly Bubbles & Gems where I picked up a couple of pressies for my sister Jenny in Australia…no photos of them ‘coz I think she actually reads my blog! https://bubblesandgems.com/  They have a lovely section of the store towards the back that is set aside for display and sales of local artisans’ work and I highly recommend you visiting and supporting the local craftspeople.20181125_132232 20181123_173731 20181123_173718As I made my way up Walton Street, I saw so many beautiful window displays including Holton Flowers (they ALWAYS have big beautiful floral displays in the windows)  www.holtonflowers.com/20181123_174618 20181123_174603Then across the street, I saw Furby House Books and loved their Dickensian style windows, and the travel agents next door with their festive globes…all decked out for the holidays.20181123_174829 20181123_174834 20181123_174844I was getting very hungry – it’s exhausting spending money!!! so I sought out Nookie’s Soul Kitchen & Bar, one of the town’s best restaurants offering gourmet meals. Friday is “surf’n’turf” special night. Yes, lobster & steak for $20 (see below) and it was DELICIOUS! Thanks to Tony the cute bartender for taking care of my needs….LOL!   www.nookiesph.com20181123_204114Burp! That was soooo good!

Finally it was time to go tuck myself in for the night so I walked past more delightful decorations, up the hill to my home for the weekend. I stayed at the Summerhill Manor B&B (more about that in Part 2 of the blog) 20181123_174857

20181123_185734So with a full tummy and heart full of joy, I slipped beneath the big fluffy comforter and slept well until I awoke to smell of fresh coffee brewing and bacon on the kitchen grill. Chef Ron of the Summerhill was up early getting my breakfast ready.  TO BE CONTINUED…..

For tourist info: www./visitporthope.ca/

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ENJOYING SPARKLES AND SPIRIT @ GEM EXPO & META EXPO IN TORONTO

This past weekend, I enjoyed an afternoon surrounded by sparkle and spirit at the Gem Expo and Meta Expo, hosted at the Hyatt Hotel on King West in downtown Toronto. Held three times a year, Gem Expo presents purveyors of raw and processed precious & semi-precious stones, pearls and other geological treasures, along with a selection of jewellery designers offering rings, necklaces, earrings for all tastes and wallets. 20181111_120658I made am immediate jewellery “love connection” with Abby from Coyote Tales, a talented craftswoman who travelled down to the city from Harcourt, way up north! Abby makes unique pieces in copper and silver and I picked out one of her rings which she is now customizing for me in my size (bottom pic). Wow!  www.coyotetales.ca 20181111_12065220181111_131249Quebec-based designer Luce Gilbert displayed so many gorgeous pieces, especially the delicate blue Amazonite. Needless to say, I caved and purchased a lovely (and affordable) pair of earrings. www.lucegilbert.com20181111_121533There were lots of visitors gathered around the tables loaded with glitz and bling….20181111_130559… and have you ever seen what raw emeralds and rubies look like? Here are some strands – so beautiful, along with  other precious stones displayed ready for jewellers to work into their own designs of rings, earrings, necklaces.20181111_123031 20181111_123053As the exhibition hall started to fill up….20181111_125603…I decided to head across the lobby to the Meta Expo, the partner show, and check out some of the metaphysical services and information there.20181111_131701I immediately felt a shift in energy (and room temperature) and was swept into a world of gentle calm, helped along by soothing fragrances of incense and sweetgrass from Hamsa Heaven. www.hamsaheaven.com20181111_13160320181111_131715I spoke briefly with Jes Savage who works in crystal therapy, Reiki, Orgone devices and past life regression. So much to learn and experience – Jes has a fabulous store on Etsy: SavageSpiritTools and is on Instagram @savage.spiti.tools so I encourage you to go check out yourselves.20181111_133938 20181111_133945There were several renowned psychics on hand to offer readings and advice…20181111_133301…and I found show Founder/manager Salim Moorani taking photos of his exhibitors (below) as they worked on visitors seeking enlightenment and healing.20181111_132922I spent some time chatting with the delightful Alexandra of Shea Haus Apothecary whose unique candle designs got me thinking of my hospitality clients and the potential for using them for wedding decor and bridal favours. Very affordable and so unique. Check out her candle designs and holistic skincare at www.sheahaus.ca 20181111_134343 20181111_151548And yes, I bought one of her candles (above), filled with lavender buds and crystals, and lit it as soon as I got home!

I also treated myself to a few fabulous finds (below) including Amazonite earrings from Luce Gilbert, an Aventurine stretchy bracelet from www.BeadIt.com, a garnet stretchy bracelet from one of the Meta exhibitors and a lovely carnelian ring from www.najibjewellers.com. And I’m looking fwd to Abby’s copper ring I’ll receive in 2 weeks’ time.20181111_151350

A big Thank You to Salim for granting me access to both shows and introducing me to his wonderful and talented exhibitors. If you’d like to visit the next Gem/Meta Expo, visit www.thegemexpo.com for news of upcoming dates in 2019

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TORONTO ARTIST JUDITH McKAY UNVEILS SOLO SHOW “HIRAETH” @ URBAN GALLERY

Running throughout the month of November, Hiraeth is thesolo show featuring stunning and colourful contemporary landscapes and “tree portraits” presented by JUDITH McKAY at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto.20181110_132357The Toronto artist explores fantasy as a means of finding peace in a frenetic world. Trees are her allegory for the endless pursuits of modern life: rooted, yet branching out to reach the sky.20181110_132237

20181110_132301Largely self-taught, Judith’s style is free-flowing. She uses both thick impasto and fluid colour to achieve movement and boldness. Fearless about colour, she uses a vibrant palette, applying interference and iridescent paints to achieve surrealistic effects. Her style is constantly evolving via frequent participation in workshops and exhibitions, as well as studying the techniques of other artists.

Judith (below L) was joined by her husband Rob Sylvester (below R), and her daughter Shannon (below C) came in all the way from New Jersey to celebrate the big opening reception!20181110_134458The gallery looked bright and welcoming on such a grey Saturday – and soon the guests started pouring in, admiring all the canvases….20181110_144400 20181110_142700 20181110_141442

20181110_132308 20181110_132620 20181110_145817ARTIST’s STATEMENT: Hiraeth (here-eye-th) is a Celtic word that means a wistful longing for a place to where you cannot return. A place that perhaps never was. The desire for a sense of peace and belonging are emotions I seek to capture in my work. Such desire can often turn to frustration when the real world doesn’t live up to fantasy, and so I depict trees, firmly rooted yet dancing in the wind, to symbolize resiliency as we continue to seek our true home, despite adversity. For this exhibition, I chose a vibrant palette and the use of high gloss medium and reflective paints to create an ethereal effect, as if awakening from a beautiful dream that quickly evaporates and eludes us. The pieces selected for display are meant to truly express what Hiraeth means to me.   ~ Judith McKay

I had the opportunity of chatting briefly with Judith prior to opening the doors of the gallery and she kindly shared with me her process and inspirations, especially for this collection….

If you would like to see Judith’s gorgeous, lush paintings, visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours and directions, and follow Judith on her Instagram account: @judithmckayart

Hiraeth runs now until Nov. 30th at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.

Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!20181110_132455