Sunday, December 30, 2012

Enough snow for this!

Just saw this on Facebook and it seems like a great idea when there's decent snow! 

I'm a fan of Calvin and Hobbes and the little Calvin has plenty of uses for such little snowmen.

For more snow fun, see my Snow Fun board on Pinterest! (Note that you have to have an account with them to access the boards.)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Still no hockey games? The Hockey Hall of Fame has extended hours until Jan. 06

Here's an idea
The suspense continues regarding NHL lockout and another batch of games has been cancelled until January 14. Depressing to you? Maybe a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame would do the trick? Even I, who's not a hockey fan, really enjoy this sports museum (especially the beautiful Great Hall capped with a dome 15 metres above, adorned with superb stained glass and where you can see the Stanley cup).

The HHOF is linked to the Fairmount Royal York by the underground PATH.
I was at the Fairmount Royal York this week and saw that they have an exhibition of 8 tallow sculptures in their main lobby. They're the work of the hotel's residence food artist Chef Fred Marquina.

Wondering what "tallow" is? (Even at the hotel reception, they couldn't tell us.) I looked it up and it's a sort of shortening made out of animal fat.

HHOF Christmas extended hours are:
From December 26 to January 6, Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 6 pm, and from 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays. (Admission is $17.50/adults, $13/seniors, $11/4-13 years, free for 3 years and under.)

Le Marché in Brookfield Place:
Le Marché is a fun restaurant to go with the whole family. It is right across from the Hockey Hall of Fame in the same building. You can go just for a hot chocolate and dessert, but there are many food stations to choose from. The kids love to free-roam around the place (and nobody will mind).

More posts of Christmas fun.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Post-Christmas craft

Don't throw away all these Christmas cards!

For years, my friend Suzanne has been sending a most appreciated gift to a few lucky ones one month prior to Christmas: hand-made gift tags, made out of recycled cards.

The funny thing is, my friend is an architect with a big job. Not exactly the kind of person you'd imagine crafting gift tags. But it's her way to relax. First she harvests all the cards she can at her workplace (after the holidays). Then, later in the year, equipped with scissors, glue, ribbons and a glass of wine (I assume!), she recycles the cards into something really cute and useful.

Good idea, isn't it?

More posts about Christmas fun in Toronto.

Monday, December 24, 2012

(Dec. 24) About working in cafés

Welcome to my office (Part two)

This afternoon, I'll focus on gift wrapping! But this morning, I've worked on finding fun sub-titles for the intro pages on each of my strolls (less demanding than writing on a full stroll).

Once again, I worked in a café today.
This time, an old lady I often see reading the café's newspaper asked to sit at my table (her favourite spot by the window being taken). I wish I'm as "present" when I'm in my 80s! She reads the sections one at a time, returning it on the counter to get the next. Many people chat with her along the way.

I cleared her side of the table to make room for her then sat back to work, with my earphones on.
Gasp! She grabbed my cup of coffee, having decided I was done with it (there were only two gulps left but I always drink it to the last drop, however cold it is). I had to gently insist... 

Now she's mumbling as she reads, to concentrate. Never a dull moment!

Merry Christmas!

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(Christmas fun related posts)

No snow? Make your own snowman! (Christmas craft)

A cool graphic design firm I know in Toronto (Costa Leclerc Design) created an interactive Advent Calendar where we got to click one window everyday since December 1. It includes a Christmas craft activity!

You access all kinds of interesting thoughts, clips or links when exploring the calendar but my favourite window is the one featuring a cute penguin. 

Click on it and it leads to a craft activity with PDF templates to print. There's Pete the penguin, Sam the snowman and they had the great idea to include a blank template to create your own character. 

Related posts:
Check the paper snowflake activity.
See all posts on Christmas fun (about Toronto attractions)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

(Dec. 22) About research

Yesterday, I took a little break from my computer. (I was starting to feel the strain in my neck!)

I finished my research for the Mount Pleasant Indulging Stroll with my friend Kerstin. We had a bite at Thobors (some of the best croissants and pastries in Toronto, as far as I'm concerned, and the founder of agrees with me). Note that they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

I bought myself the gift my husband will give me for Christmas! A gorgeous vintage brooch from DDavis Objects at 667 Mount Pleasant. (I intend to wear it at the end of a long pendant.) The owner and staff are so upbeat and fun, we had a ball, and I learned that most of the ambitious pieces of jewelry there are made out of real vintage (but never used) rhinestones by the designers.

I noticed cute candy kebabs at LeFeuvres Chocolatier.

Skating on Christmas Day at Nathan Phillips Square rink

Yesterday, I took some photos of the rink at Nathan Phillips Square to complement my blog on the great combo for December 25.

The combo includes: admiring The Bay Christmas windows, checking Eaton Centre's decoration, skating at Nathan Phillips Square and hot chocolate at Starbucks across the street.

I checked with the City and there is supposed to be rental service by the rink on December 25 (the rink will be open from 9 am to 10 pm). But note that rental is CASH ONLY. A valid Photo ID is required. It is $10 for adults and $5 for 12 years and under for two hours rental, but it is free to skate on the rink.

If there's no snow by Christmas... kids can always climb up the "snow mount" made from the layers of the white stuff scriped off the ice by the zamboni's.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Dec. 20) About photos

About photos:

I suspect these two sculptures are from the same artist, don't you agree?

One was taken on the estate at the corner of The Bridle Path and Park Lane Circle, for my Edwards Gardens Mansions Stroll:

The other one, I took on Markham Street (Mirvish Village) for my Bloor West Cool Stroll:

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(Dec. 19) About maps

About maps:

I just finished positioning the 52 walks which will be featured in Toronto Urban Strolls 1 and 2 on a double-page map (to be included in the guides).

I think it spreads nicely!

Now, back to writing. I'm currently working on the Edwards Gardens Mansions Stroll. Some of the estates have interesting art on their lawn.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A new mural in Leslieville!

Last October, a gorgeous mural "appeared" on a large wall along Dundas Street East (just east of Logan) in Leslieville. I live on Booth, just around the corner, and it feels like a lovely gift to us. Even more so now that I know what's behind that public artwork.

I'm now a Facebook friend of The Giant Storybook Project, the page of a German artist duo called Herakut on which I learned that these two artists started last September to paint the story of two giant characters on murals all over the world. (You can see all the photos on their page.) Toronto's mural is their fifth.

(Update as of June 2, 2013)
As a bonus, there used to be Red Rocket Coffee, a cool café which opened in summer 2012 at the corner of Dundas East and Logan. It made it a fun mural/coffee combo stop before heading to enjoy all the shops along Queen East. 

It unfortunately closed a few months ago. I'm leaving the photos I uploaded in my initial post to inspire potential café owners!

Back to the Storybook Project:
Their first mural was done in New York.
Second mural in Lexington, Kentucky.
Third in Eresing, Germany.
Forth in Montreal.
Since, they've done one in Rochester (state of New York),  in San Francisco (California) and Miami (Florida).  

They'll move on to other countries to continue their project through 2013.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

About parking in Toronto: Green P

When I'm not sure where to park around a specific attraction in Toronto, I like to know where's the closest Green P parking lot. You can see them all around the city and they usually are the next best thing (cost wise) to a free street parking spot (unless you're parallel-parking challenged).

 (I saw this sign in NYC last fall. Clever marketing! N.P.)

On their website, you can find a parking lot by address, intersection or venue. Simply go to, write down your info and click "Go".

Your starting point (intersection, specific venue or address) will show as a red dot and you'll see all the options marked with a (what else?) green P, with a list on the left hand menu where the options can be sorted by distance or by price.

Click on any green P on the resulting map and a window will pop up with more information such as the number of spaces, height restrictions and a photo of the parking lot so you can recognize it at sight when you get there. Click a link in the window and you will get even more info like the accepted modes of payment and the maximum daily rate.

They even have an app for that! (Updated Nov. 17, 2012)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

(Dec. 15) About timetable

About timetable

It took me two hours to work my way through 1,200 photos I took while doing research for my West Toronto Railpath Stroll and  extract a "Best of" file of 120 pictures.

It took me five hours to write the stroll description, using my 1200 photos and notes as a reference. (I really love this stroll!) I need one more hour to place the photos of the stroll in the InDesign template.

Back to the future
In order to figure out a schedule, I have to focus on the goal: to have the guide in the stores by the first week of April. Which means:

1st week April:     Guides in the stores
End of March:      Books sent from the printer to the distributor
End of February:  Final material sent to the printer
Early February:    Proofreading and corrections

So I have between now and early February to:
• Select the best photos for each stroll
• Write the description for 23 strolls 
• Supervise the creation of the book cover
• Write the back cover and the author's word inside the guide
• Work on the indexes
• Write a Sales sheet for the Sales reps 
• Update the info in Toronto Urban Strolls 1
• Maintain my blogs, FB, Twitter 
• Be a mother and a wife
• And go out with my girlfriends (to maintain my sanity)

OK, it seems my timetable is doable. (Doable Timetable... That's the name of my next rock band).

Friday, December 14, 2012

(Dec. 14) One step at a time

At the moment, I'm looking at the template of the guide on my computer, the "skeleton" my husband prepared for me this week. It's gonna be my life for the next month (with the exception of a few Christmas hiatus).

I've been there before. This is the moment in a project where one is oscillating between elation (The book is going to be so good!) and petrifying panic (What have I gotten myself into! I'll never be able to deliver in time! Abort! Abort!).

One step at a time
Now, I'm about to work on a first stroll. I'm starting with my West Toronto Railpath Stroll (one of my favourite walks in Toronto). 

First step: Sift through 1089 photos taken between 2010 and now to remember everything interesting about this stroll and to create a "Best of" file of approx. 50 photos.

Second step: Write the stroll's description directly in the InDesign template. (This way, I don't get carried away and can better stick to a words count which will fit in that space.)

Third step: Based on what I described in the assigned space, I will select 28 photos from the "Best of" file to be featured in the guide. 

Go Nat, go!

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas Carol with a dancing Scrooge

 Last minute suggestion!
If you're longing for a Christmas activity with a small-village feeling, you've got to go to Stouffville to see their version of A Christmas Carol, playing on December 14, 15 and 16.

Wacky cartoon-like scenes alternate with emotionally charged choreographies in this original take on the classic Dickens, rendered by dance company Motus O. Expect crooner angels, Irish dancers, disco studs, tap-dancing toast (don't ask) and a few spirits of Christmas to play along with a dancing Scrooge.

Stouffville is home to Motus O, an internationally acclaimed company. Quietly, they have carved the local tradition of producing a yearly production of A Christmas Carol, well worth sharing with the rest of the GTA. The whole production is a mix of theatre, musical and dance show, sustained by an energetic and versatile cast capable of great comic timing.

The show opens with the joyful chaos of a village scene featuring many extras selected from the Stouffville community. they've practiced for weeks to be able to share the stage with the professionals and have seamlessly been integrated into the show.

Kids will certainly appreciate how a structure on wheels becomes in turn Scrooge's office, his bed, a front door, a window, a disco dance floor and a grave. Everyone will love Scrooge's inevitable redemption to prove that humans indeed can change for the better.

Lebovic Centre for Arts & Entertainment, featuring the show, is located in Old Stouffville at 19. To buy tickets ($35 for adults, $18/students) go to their website. The show plays Friday December 14 at 7 pm, Saturday December 15 at 2 pm and 7 pm and Sunday December 16 at 2 pm.

While you're in Stouffville
Fickle Pickle Dining Lounge is an unassuming family restaurant with decent food located right in front of the theatre, at 6302 Main Street.
• The Corner House on the Main, one block east, is quaint and pretty and serves fancier food (6403 Main Street).
• A few blocks west, there's a great café, Red Bulb (6148 Main Street Street).

More posts on Christmas Fun.