Category Archives: Family-friendly

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WELCOME TO TORONTO’S FALL “THE BABY SHOW”- EVERYTHING FOR EVERY LITTLE PERSON!

Well wasn’t that a fun time?! Not having kids of my own, I’ve never been around little people for any length of time but today I had a blast with lots of mummies, daddies and adorable tots at The Baby Show currently hosted in the Enercare Centre (Hall B) at Exhibition Place, Toronto. The show runs throughout this weekend – 1 more day left Sunday Oct. 6 – so hurry on down for all sorts of freebies, samples, information on baby’s health, food, furniture, fashions and lots of booths promoting support services for new mums and dads, too. Here’s the show’s Founder Sandy Pedrogao to tell you all about it…

Along with hundreds of families, I wandered around the aisles, meeting some of the vendors and learning so much about 21st century parenthood versus how my mum & dad raised me in the 50’s & 60’s…give the kid a cardboard box, some string and a wooden spoon and voila…there’s your toys, Glenda…haa haa!

Loved these folks (below) from www.babynimbus.com who offer cute onesies and other fun things with doodles and pics from local artists. 20191005_145434I then met the charming couple (pictured below) operating www.thebabymamabox.com a monthly subscription box offering all sorts of samples and goodies delivered to your door. Boxes are customized for various age groups and also offer boxes just for mama herself. Products are hand-picked and mama tested so you’re sure to get the best.20191005_135656Here’s talented baker Walaa Alwan of Fantasy Cookies (yummm) who creates all sorts of delicious and oh-so-pretty cookies for special occasions like baby showers, christenings, baby’s 1st birthday…even engagement parties and wedding favours (get a head start on growing your family)  www.fantasycookieco.com20191005_141259(0) 20191005_141310Just along the aisle from Walaa, I ran into the crafty lady who knits & crochets cute critters for cute kids under the name www.monimon.ca  They are soooo adorable and it reminded me of toys my mum used to knit for my sister and me back in the 60’s – I still have a little penguin she made me….aaaaaw.20191005_141407www.mondobebe.com (below) offered a very elegant booth with luxury furniture and accessories for the most discerning babes. They have stores in Quebec and one a little closer in Mississauga.20191005_135953The Baby Brands Gift Club was a hive of activity as they gave out all sorts of treats, samples and informative brochures and magazines to show attendees. As you can see by the photo below, they were very popular!  Check out all the brand name products they offer at www.babybrandsgiftclub.ca 20191005_141524So I was thrilled (and surprised) that all the wee ones were quiet and I witnessed very few tantrums or crying. I guess the babies picked up on the vibe that this show was just for them! There were samples and contests for parents and lots of booths offering comfortable changing facilities as well as peaceful feeding areas curtained off to provide privacy and calmness.20191005_141138 20191005_145541 20191005_145206Congratulations to Sandy and her publicist Jakki for a successful showcase of all things baby! Follow them on Fcbk: TheBabyShowToronto  as well as Instagram: @TheBabyShows. Watch for announcements for their Spring show here in Toronto.logo

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2019 CANADIAN INT’L AUTO SHOW OPENS TODAY IN TORONTO

Every February, my inner gear-head starts twitching with excitement – it’s time for the annual Canadian International Auto Show!  Yesterday’s Media Day offered intro’s to new manufacturers, new designs, new technology and teased us with gorgeous luxury vehicles few can afford…me included.

One of the first exhibits I visited was Ford where I made a beeline for the brand new Mustang Bullitt edition. Oh my, she was a beauty. One of my fave Steve McQueen movies was Bullitt and the stories about the fate of his original hunter green Mustang are legendary. I let my imagination run wild as I snapped away…20190214_102338 20190214_102422 20190214_102502 20190214_102440Ford also had a NASCAR vehicle on display (Joey Logano’s car) plus a life-sized Lego racer (below)20190214_102143 20190214_102634Check out the new Jaguar – what a stunner.20190214_103602 20190214_10351220190214_103619And Acura unveiled its latest model (below)20190214_103850New model unveilings are always exciting for the automotive journalists and this crowd was super excited to watch Cadillac present its new SUV (below)20190214_104026

Then over to the other side of the hall to see Maserati. My fave colour is blue so of course I had to snap this moment as the boys played with these bright shiny new toys!20190214_104948Now for the BIG trucks – so nice to feel so “petite” when standing alongside these beauties.20190214_105008 20190214_105529 20190214_111133 20190214_105047

There’s also a cool WWI/WWII display courtesy of www.TankMuseum.ca in the hallway of the South Bldg – definitely a must-see for the little soldier in all of us!20190214_102042

20190214_101930I always enjoy a stroll thru the vintage auto displays and this year’s exhibit didn’t disappoint – many were “cherry red” so it made for some great photo opps.20190214_120549 20190214_120638Back over to the North Bldg of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and in the basement, you’ll find the exotics – the ultimate prizes for all car lovers. Aston Martins, Lotus and Stingrays oh my!20190214_124641 20190214_12482720190214_124846Then I bumped into (literally) Brit car designer Mark Roberts of McLaren who kindly posed for a photo beside his creation, the McLaren Senna.    20190214_124336(0)Also located on the lower level of the North bldg is the Barrett Jackson collection of 60’s & 70’s muscle cars and they’re as sexy as all get-out! Don’t miss this display – if you’re like me and grew up in this era, fond memories will come flooding back…20190214_125139_001 20190214_125210 20190214_125223 20190214_125234 20190214_125312So if I’ve whetted your appetite for stunning autos, you have until Sunday Feb 24th to visit the annual exhibition of mega horse-power, style and technology. Tickets, directions and show info can be found at: www.autoshow.ca and if you have family members who prefer their driving to be stationary, there’s a big X-Box gaming area in the South bldg that should satisfy their needs/wants….20190214_120924…as well as other car-themed promotions…20190214_120814..and also a kiddie playland for the little ones. Have fun, drive carefully…20190214_103722

 

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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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AUTHOR & FAMILY THERAPIST OFFERS ADVICE TO PARENTS ABOUT POT LEGALIZATION AND THEIR TEENS

With the legalization of pot in Canada last Wednesday October 17th, many parents & grandparents of teens and ‘tweens are nervous about starting the conversation about smoking, toking and vaping weed now that it’s more easily available. Did I raise my kid to stand up to peer pressure? Does my kid understand the fall-out from prolonged use of weed and long-term health issues? Will my teen’s future be compromised if they indulge in regular pot use?just say noThe author of the recently published The Anxious Teen (a guidebook for parents, teachers, mentors of teens suffering stress and anxiety) KRISTINA VIRRO (pictured below) sat down with me last week and answered a few questions that parents may have and advice they may need before broaching the subject over the family dinner table.IMG_2370 (1)What should parents look for to identify drug use in their teens?   One warning sign is finding accessories associated with drug use, so parents can benefit from familiarizing themselves with what these are. Another warning sign is when a teen starts missing or skipping class, which is often associated with poorer grades. Finally, the smell of marijuana is a dead giveaway, though you might notice your teen using several air fresheners, candles, colognes and more to cover up the smell. weed bongsWhat are the changes in behaviour or indications that your teen may be experimenting with pot or other drugs?  You might notice a change in their friend group and a withdrawal from family bonding time. Since every teenager is unique, pay attention to any changes in their personality that just seem different, too. They might become more apathetic, less productive, possess less self-control, and start paying less attention to their personal hygiene. Or, they might become more aggressive, defensive, irritable, and paranoid, which could all be symptoms of drug use.teen drugsHow do you communicate your distrust of your teen’s friends or peers (who may be involved in drug activities) without causing them to react negatively or defend their friends?  During adolescence, teenagers are actually biologically wired to enhance their connection to peers, meaning they often feel very loyal and protective of their friends. The worst thing you can do is insult friends, so stay far away from poking fun at them, calling them names, or making hurtful totalizing statements (i.e. “your friends are all losers.”) While your first instinct might be to cut contact between your teenager and their “sub-par” friends, it might be better to simply create some boundaries for the times they are spending time with them. Set curfews, check in on them a bit more often, or whatever you feel is best. Finally, create more opportunities for you and your teen to spend quality time together—alone or with the entire family—as this has been well-researched to minimize drug use.pot kidsIf you find weed in your teen’s room or school bag, what should you do/say?  Take some time to process and/or release any feelings that arise before approaching your teen. Once you feel ready to approach the topic in a more neutral manner, start by being honest about finding marijuana. From there, communicate why you’re feeling concerned in a way that doesn’t sound accusatory. Speak in “I” statements and avoid extreme language like “always” or “never.” I also invite parents to consider taking a harm reduction approach, which is based on the idea that, for better or worse, drug use happens, and our goal should be to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply condemning them. A large body of research supports the efficacy of such a strategy. This might involve talking openly about drug use, creating guidelines, and/or using the drug when the effects will be the least disruptive. pot foundShould parents discuss their own youthful drug use with their teens and how do you start the conversation without sounding “preachy”?  Being “preachy” involves excessively trying to teach moral lessons, and usually involves talking at someone rather with them. To avoid this, make the conversation collaborative. Be curious rather than judgmental and remind yourself that people used pot when you were young, too. If your teen feels like you’re blowing things out of proportion and not listening to them, they’ll become more secretive, which is precisely what you don’t want.BOOK COVERThanks, Kristina.  And she offers lots more advice and approaches to parental and family interactions concerning drug use and abuse, as well as coping with the stress and anxiety teens are currently experiencing. You can get a copy of Kristina’s book from Amazon or iBooks, or directly from the author via her website:  www.fresh-insight.ca

Ms. Virro’s Credentials:
Individual, Couples & Family Therapist (Master of Science, University of Guelph)
Registered Holistic Nutritionist  ​(Canadian School of Natural Nutrition)
Master’s of Journalism  ​(​University of Western Ontario)
Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care ​(University of Buffalo, School of Social Work)

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LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR SPICES UP TORONTO’S JUNCTION!

Don’t know ’bout you but I looove good authentic Indian food and I’ve finally found a great little restaurant that serves it up in a beautifully designed environment far from the trinkety, bedazzled elephant decor dining room we’ve come to expect from local Indo-Canadian food spots. Welcome to LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR located at 3108 Dundas St West (just past Quebec Ave) a calm oasis in the busy Junction strip of cool boutique resto-lounges and boites, serving the most authentic “dhaba” or street food this side of the Bay of Bengal!20180409_141640_001The charming and well-informed staff are happy to recommend menu selections and stand behind their dishes, each of which is made fresh for each diner. On my first visit, I thoroughly enjoyed the recommended roasted cauliflower chaat tossed with chutney, yoghurt and fresh cilantro (pictured below). Mmmmmmm, deelish!20180406_202743…which was followed by the butter chicken. OMG, so yummy, and the rice was light and fluffy, not gluey or over-cooked like many other places serve.20180406_205827I recently spoke with owner, Hormazd Daver, and asked him to share his thoughts on Indian food and his delightful restaurant:

What inspired you to open Leela Indian Food Bar?  I always wanted to open my own restaurant; it’s been a passion for while to have somewhere that I can put my own ideas and efforts into practice and cater authentic Indian cuisine to hungry Toronto foodies.

Did you have previous experience in the food/hospitality industry and if so, where? My previous experience was working as a flight crew member for Cathay Pacific airlines which gave me the opportunity to interact with people of different nationalities and share their experiences about the food and international cuisines available in Toronto.

You have family members working with you – who are they and what duties do they undertake to help make the restaurant such a success?  I have my sister working with me, along with my brother-in-law, which make us a complete family team. This helps a lot as my sister works on weekends both in a service and administrative capacity. My brother-in-law is responsible for managing the restaurant on a daily basis from ordering supplies to managing the staff and all other duties required to successfully operate the restaurant.

What are your most popular dishes?  According to reviews posted by our customers, the Lasooni Cauliflower (stir-fried cauliflower with our chef’s special spices & sesame seeds) is very popular along with my favourite Shrimp Malai Curry which is tasty and very light. Also popular is our Butter Chicken which is not overly “sweet”, unlike what you might find in many other Toronto Indian restaurants. As far as vegetarian dishes, we find the most popular is the Sweet & Sour Eggplant with curry leaf and mustard seeds – by the way, we have many vegetarian options for diners to choose.

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One thing that really impressed me while sitting and inhaling my yummy meal was the humble decor and accessories – I love the blue carved ceramic serving platters on each table as well as the copper water jugs full of chilled fresh H2O – apparently the copper infuses valuable minerals into the drinking water so it’s extra good for us to imbibe.20180409_141631 20180406_21441020180409_141655The open kitchen (below) makes for a friendly casual atmosphere and you can watch your meals being prepared fresh by the skilled cooks.20180406_202657Leela Indian Food Bar also has a busy home delivery service and you can order via their website: www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca  If you’d like to reserve a table (suggested for groups of 6 or more), you can also do that via the website (upper r.h. corner)

A few more personal recommendations include the incredibly over-stuffed veggie samosas…20180428_193453…the oh-so-delicious kale & spinach pakoras(below) – I’ve never tasted pakoras like these and not an once of grease to be found!20180420_194052And you just gotta end your meal with their fresh, sweet Gulab Jamun dessert (spongy honey balls).20180428_200254So take it from me, a hard-boiled, curry-lovin’, naan gulping Indian food fanatic – Leela Indian Food Bar is THE place to take your friends, families or sweetie…and it’s very affordable, too!

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 www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca
3108 Dundas St West, Toronto – T: 416-769-7777

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WHAT AN EXCITING, RED HOT OPENING NIGHT FOR THE SHIVER SHOW IN TORONTO

Congratulations to the performers and in particular, artistic directors KRISTINA KULIKOVA, ANTON AZANOV and CHANTAL FRY-SALETTI on last night’s opening of THE SHIVER SHOW at the Glenn Gould Studio theatre in Toronto.  So many hours of rehearsal and sweat-equity have gone into this stunning blending of dance, figure skating, circus arts, music and operatic singing, as well as beautiful costuming, hair and make-up.20180209_200247The brainchild of Kulkat Entertainment’s Kristina Kulikova, the Shiver Show blends 7 different disciplines of dance with figure skating, aerial circus arts, a little burlesque, video and some very talented musicians into this unique theatrical experience that had the audience on their feet more than once throughout the show!

Prior to showtime, several of the performers were interviewed backstage by Fairchild TV – here’s Kristina, Anton, opera singer Dina Shikhman and Kristina’s talented sister Elena Kulikova (singer/painter) chatting with the news crew.20180209_181430 20180209_180152 20180209_175745 20180209_180913Out in the lobby, one of the charming ballerinas entertained the crowd prior to the show with a very unusual performance….move over Edward Scissorhands!

One of my favourite routines was this stunning flamenco dance, accompanied by Dina singing Carmen.

And to close the show, all the performers came out to take their bows to a standing ovation…bravo!

Afterwards, the dancers schmoozed with the excited audience and I was thrilled to accompany Toronto’s leading online influencer, MoVernie, introducing him to all the performers, starting with Kristina herself.20180209_211130 20180209_210855 20180209_185927 20180209_210817There are 2 more shows today, Saturday Feb 10th at 4pm and 7:30pm – so there’s still time to catch THE SHIVER SHOW. Info and tickets available at: www.ShiverShow.ca  or call 1-888-407-4520

Thank you for supporting Canadian talent…and if you’re looking for the perfect entertainment for your corporate event, festival or gala, please contact Kristina to see how she can customize a show just for you. You can reach her via the website.DSC_8046

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A Thai feast fit for a King….and I!

So apart from the bad grammar (s.b. “and me”) the headline here really does tell the story of Toronto’s small but mighty ISAAN DER Thai restaurant and its equally small but mighty queen of the kitchen, Chef Ko (pictured below).Chef Ko 2I was recently turned on to this snug and beautifully decorated dining establishment located in the heart of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood by fellow foodies and owners of No. 7 Hot Sauce, Carlos and Sandra, who told me about the incredible food and lovely people who run Isaan Der. Chef Ko, along with her Canadian husband Donald, run the place like clockwork, juggling take-out and home delivery orders with quiet aplomb as they and their servers offer personal but discreet table-side service to their guests, many of whom are neighbours and regular/repeat diners.20171018_183950Attention to detail is key at Isaan Der – just look at these cute elephant hooks for coats or purses located behind every table for diners’ convenience.20170829_184227I recently spoke with Donald and Chef Ko about their journey from Thailand to Toronto and the fabulous food they serve to hungry fans Tuesdays thru Sundays.

Chef Ko, what first inspired you to become a professional chef?  Having had the opportunity to travel around Thailand as a journalist for Channel 7 news, I have discovered that it’s not all Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong. There are lots of delicious dishes from every part of Thailand. 20170525_121454Did you study under any well-known chef or in a professional kitchen?  I studied at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is also a 5-star hotel in Bangkok, in their Professional Thai Chef program as well as at Kasesart University to learn about the origins of some of our well known dishes.

You specialize in traditional fine Thai cuisine at Isaan Der– how important is it that you use fresh, locally sourced ingredients for your menu?  We only use the freshest of ingredients for our food and every dish is made à la carte, meaning every dish you order is made specifically for you. We do NOT have anything pre-made so dishes might take a few minutes longer getting to your table….but the wait is worth it!sataysDonald, since opening Isaan Der in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood in March , how have you seen your customer base grow?  Since opening, we’ve seen tremendous growth; from 3 people in the kitchen to now more than 8 dealing with the volume which we handle with great care and efficiency. It’s our loyal customers with whom we have had table-side conversations, educating them on the many differences in Thai food. We are certainly no better than any other Thai restaurant, but we do know that we are ‘different’.IMG_20170321_030403_608received_159738710362409620170320_20050620170320_200409Donald, any exciting news about menu or service you’d like to share?  Here we grow!  We recently changed our menus adding several new items to replace those we have “retired” for now. We cater to everyone with dietary restrictions such as celiac, vegan, food allergies as well as likes/dislikes. We can do it all as our dishes are made for you…any way you like it!

We’ve seen a tremendous increase in our Doordash delivery as well as personal take-out with our online ordering. Thanks to our brand new ordering app (for both iPhone & android) we’re able to streamline the dining experience for those dining at home. Easy-peasy with a simple click, click and done! We no longer take phone orders so we’re able to focus on personal table-side service in the restaurant.  But if people have questions about our menu we are certainly available via phone queries. See below the special promotion for 1st time app orders:July 2017454

Isaan Der is definitely one of my favourite Toronto restaurants and I’m especially fond of their Shrimp Roll appetizer – I frequently construct a meal by combining 2 orders of those with a salad. I love the little noodle ribbons and bows tying them up (see below). The handcrafted chili dipping sauce is super deelish, too.20170829_180825You MUST try the Golden Bags and Spring Rolls (below)….
17155630_1495954417121699_3390928405222378590_n 20170525_110821And each Wednesday is “Wine Wednesday” with $3 off your glass of featured wine…..20171018_184058…followed by “Beer Thursdays” when your favourite brew is only $5!20171018_184024Located at 2961 Dundas West (a few blocks W of Keele) there’s lots of parking (on street and in the green P lot behind) and prompt bus transit (take the #40 from Dundas W subway stn). Check out their menu, hours of operation and directions here: www.isaander.comlogo

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ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL IN TORONTO

Last weekend, Kew Gardens in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, was packed with fans of all things Celtic as founder SANDY GRAHAM presented the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival.  With an exciting vendor village full of Celt-themed treasures and a performance roster of award-winning musical and dance artists, thousands of festival visitors enjoyed 2 days of sunshine and free family fun, celebrating their Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English ancestry and the contributions those early immigrants made to building Toronto into a world class city.20170909_113015Created as a tribute to her late mother, Sandy has built the annual Festival into a local tradition and she has gained support from local businesses and politicians.

The Beach residents are very supportive of this event and I get asked on the street all the time about when it is and what they can expect this year. I think the businesses appreciate that we don’t host a lot of competitive vendors i.e. coffee, food, clothing etc. and that our vendors are strictly Celtic in theme and flavour. I always say that it is a tough rent on Queen Street East and if we can all bring more people into the Beach to spend money and enjoy our little Brigadoon for the weekend then that is all good. Sandy Graham

Here are some of the booths enjoyed by Festival visitors:  first up www.duncanscelticstonework.com20170909_121650

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Duncan MacDonald of  Celtic Stoneworks

20170909_113219..and here’s some beautiful silver and gem jewellery (below) from www.CelticFair.ca20170909_114247 20170909_114308Next up, how about some deelish infused jams & honey from The Art of Nova Scotia20170909_114020 20170909_114056 20170909_114120I found some lovely fragrant incense sticks (Dragon’s Blood…oh my!) from the Karmic Crystals & Sunshine Glass ladies. I also spied some cute fairies, too!20170909_113636 20170909_113703Sprucewood Shortbreads were also there (below), selling their yummy cookies  www.sprucewoodcookies.com20170909_114420 20170909_114511And for those with a bigger appetite, the All Smoked Up BBQ truck was on hand to satisfy everyone’s hunger pangs!20170909_114536Sandy and the Festival team presented an exciting silent auction to help raise funds to cover the costs of producing the Festival…look at all the cool stuff on offer this year (below). Jays’ fans had the opportunity to bid on a personally autographed photo from team legend Kelly Gruber!20170909_11461220170909_114615This year, Sandy welcomed new vendor Jeannie B and her stunning photographic chalkboards. Great ideas for Christmas, birthday or new home gifts! www.jeannieb.com20170909_115018 20170909_115300 20170909_114952…and also Laura from Designs by Nature Gems who brought some stunning handcrafted jewellery to her booth. www.designsbynaturegems.com20170909_114706 20170909_114752You could learn Gaelic and the history of the language around the world from the www.gaelicsocietytoronto.com20170909_115416…and you could also learn about the history of Cornwall, mainland England’s farthest western county (below) from the www.torontocornishassociation.org20170909_115439Another newbie to the Festival this year was Olga from www.SaltnMustard.com who brought her handcrafted infused salts and artisinal mustards (oh, yummm!)20170909_115746 20170909_115752 20170909_115842For those who got a little chilly later in the day, there were warm blankets, jackets and shawls available, too….20170909_114401 20170909_114207…and for those wanting a little bit o’ home in their Toronto home…lots of beautiful watercolours and prints20170909_113851I really did want to take a peek…but the lads from Men in Kilts must have heard and headed for the trees…LOL!20170909_115912The folks from Simply British Foods brought boxes of potato crisps for hungry nibblers….20170909_120051 20170909_120057…and if you wanted to show your allegiance to the Celts, you could pick up all sorts of fun custom pins from Press My Button (below)20170909_115710Here are the bonny lasses from the Bold Step Dancers, under the direction of Meghan Bold, who got the crowds up on their own feet. (you can follow them on Facebook.com/Bold-Step-Dance-Studio-Scottish-Highland-and-Canadian-Step-Dancing )Bold Step DancersThese charming youngsters (below) from the Butler-Fearon-O’Connor School of Irish Dance provided some great traditional dance entertainment.20170909_120221

And here’s the team that helped present this fun family event – Founder and producer extraordinaire Sandy (2nd from left) and her musician brother Don (3rd from left) are joined by some of the generous volunteers for a photo opp with Snapd Beach/Danforth newspaper.20170909_121033Musical performers included Don Graham, Lisa Hartt, Syd Simkins, Caledon County, Erin’s Malore and Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost whose founder, Stephen Lamb, was presented with the 2017 “Celt of the Year” award for his support and contributions to the Celtic community in Toronto.

So mark your calendars for the weekend after Labour Day next year when the Beach Celtic Festival marks it’s 15th anniversary – it’s sure to be one big happy ceilidh!  www.thecelticfestival.com 20170909_115653 20170909_120125 as-celticdragon

 

 

CONCERT RAISES FUNDS FOR NEXT MONTH’S “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL”

Last week, one of Toronto’s favourite watering holes, The Duke on Queen St East, played host to a special fundraising concert benefiting this year’s 14th Annual Beach Celtic Festival (Sept. 9/10) and festival founder SANDY GRAHAM was thrilled to welcome an exciting line-up of Celtic dancers and musicians to the stage.

MC  & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured musicians to take their bows.

MC & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured performers to take their bows.

Thanks to the generosity of the performers and that of the prize donors for the silent auction, a substantial amount of money was raised to help underwrite the costs for producing the annual festival celebrating the contributions made to Toronto’s history and growth by Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English immigrants.

Led by Meghan Bold, the lovely ladies from the Bold Steps Dance Studio entertained with traditional dances and clogging – the excited crowd clapped along in time.

Apart from MC’ing the evening, singer/songwriter Don Graham opened the night with some great tunes….20170822_195838…and he was followed shortly by roots musician Syd Simkins (below)…20170822_203237….and award-winning artist Lisa Hartt (below)20170822_205652The auction tables were pretty busy throughout the night, offering all sorts of treasures and treats.20170822_183041 20170822_183938MPP Arthur Potts (below) dropped by to wish Sandy and the Festival volunteers well…and shared a few funny stories with the audience. He and Sandy go waaaay back and she was delighted to pose for pictures with him.20170822_194407 20170822_195102Music insider and columnist for Cashbox Canada e-magazine (Sandy is publisher of this long-running music magazine), Lenny Stout (below, left) helped sell 50-50 draw tickets with Festival volunteer Fiona Lawson (right). 20170822_203358…they also helped Don with the draw. And the winner is…. Zita DaSilva who was obviously very excited about the result!20170822_220328Sandy was pleased to welcome reporter Courtney from Snapd newspaper (below left) to the event where she snapped lots of pictures of the performers including Brooke and Steve from Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost.20170822_211243 20170822_213338Stephen Lamb (Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost) was, in fact, presented with the “Beach Celt of the Year” award honouring his contributions to the Celtic community and continued support of the Festival. Steve was later joined by Sandy and MPP Potts for photo opps.20170822_212210 20170822_195122

It truly was a grand night and the artists and audience all paid tribute to Sandy Graham for creating such a unique family-friendly annual event.  You can learn more at www.thecelticfestival.com

BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL
Sat/Sun September 9 & 10 and it’s FREE!
Kew Gardens, Queen St East in the Beach, Toronto

Poster

 

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MEET SANDY GRAHAM, FOUNDER OF THE ANNUAL “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL” IN TORONTO

Way back in the late 70’s, I first met Sandy Graham (pictured below) who was running a fabulous nightclub called Route 66 on Jarvis St down near Dundas.sandyRoute 66 was a 50’s theme bar and dance club, sorta like Arnold’s on Happy Days but with a big dance floor instead of diner booths. Sandy held court there nightly, leading the talented waiters/dancers out on the dancefloor, getting the crowd up on their feet doing the triple swing, the stroll and even the hand-jive. During this time, I was running a similar club, Ollie’s, located inside the entertainment complex called The Ports of Call (or The Ports for short) up at Yonge & Summerhill. Instead of rivals, we became fast friends.

Skip ahead a few decades(!) and Sandy is still entertaining crowds but this time she is sharing her Celtic heritage and presenting an annual family-friendly festival as a tribute to her late mother who was an accomplished highland dancer and true-blue Scottish lass. So welcome to the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival!  www.thecelticfestival.comPosterEach September, Sandy hosts this 2-day party for Toronto’s Scots, Irish, English and Welsh descendants with lots of great musical entertainment, dancing, a vendors village where you can pick up all sorts of treats and treasures, and a great community spirit. I’m so pleased to help her promote this year’s event and I asked her to share her thoughts on putting on such a show…..

How did you come up with the idea for a festival celebrating Celtic heritage and culture in Toronto?My Mum (pictured below) passed away in Montreal on June 30, 2001 and because the next day was July 1st (Canada Day) we could not get to her in the funeral home until after the long weekend. I took a walk and ended up in Kew Gardens where the 48th Highlanders of Canada were performing and that was it. I knew I had to do a celebration in that park. It took a few more years and then September 2003 the Beach Celtic Festival was ‘born’.

Jemima Sutherland (L)

Jemima Sutherland (L)

BCF 9 MUMAfter 14 years, how has the event grown/changed since you first launched this unique outdoor ceilidh?    Originally, the Beach Celtic Festival was only supposed to be a one-off event, a celebration of life for my Mum. It was so successful that first year that we decided to keep going. It stayed as a one day event until 6 years ago and has now grown into a two day event. It is now embraced by the neighbourhood and beyond. It’s lovely to get emails from all over the world asking us about the Celtic festival.BCF 10 The CrowdBCF PIPERSYou are also hosting a fundraising event at The Duke tavern on Queen St East this Tuesday night (Aug. 22) – how expensive is it to produce a 2-day family festival in Kew Gardens?  And do you receive any government funding or corporate sponsorship to underwrite these expenses? The Beach Celtic Festival costs close to $10,000 to produce which includes permits, insurance, portable toilets, stage and sound requirements, expenses and publicity. We do not receive government funding and Kew Gardens is a public park and so it cannot have a gate entrance fee. I don’t think people realize how expensive it is and unfortunately there are restrictions to sponsorship as well.

Do your local Beach neighbourhood businesses support or contribute to this event that draws thousands of people to the area each year?  The Beach residents are very supportive of this event and I get asked on the street all the time about when it is and what they can expect this year. I think the businesses appreciate that we don’t host a lot of competitive vendors i.e. coffee, food, clothing etc. and that our vendors are very strictly Celtic in theme and flavour. I always say that it is a tough rent on Queen Street East and if we can all bring more people into the Beach to spend money and enjoy our little Brigadoon for the weekend then that is all good.20140906_17155820140906_171621Over the years, what has been the most fulfilling experience you’ve enjoyed as producer of the Beach Celtic Festival?  There are times during the Celtic that I just stand on the gazebo and look around at the park and realize these are the same trees, the same baseball diamond, the same park my Dad ran around in as a little boy so it has come full circle. There is something magical to see the park full of people enjoying the Celtic ways and hearing all the accents. Smiles galore.BCF 7 Wee Ones DancingAny other comments you’d like to share?  Although the Beach Celtic Festival is my ‘baby’, it truly would not happen without all the love and support I get from everyone involved in the yearly production. Everyone rallies around to push it through year after year and I am eternally grateful for those people. From friends, family, talent and the Celtic Team (including yourself, Glenda) there is great comfort in knowing the Celtic Festival will be around long after I am gone as it is safe in the next generation’s hands. I also wish to extend a welcome to all nationalities to come experience some of the music, ways and wares of the Celtic Community.BCF 8 'Braveheart' BCF  Wee OneSo watch the skies over Kew Gardens for flying dragons…better still, come on down and bring the kids, bring granny, bring your BFF. The Beach Celtic Festival is FREE!

Saturday Sept. 9 & Sunday Sept. 10 (9am-6pm)

Kew Gardens,  Queen St East in Toronto

www.thecelticfestival.com

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