Thursday, March 28, 2019

a stay in the city - toronto, day three


As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And oh, was this ever a good thing. I really can't say enough about this hotel. It truly was a luxury. But I think that's just it - it was such a special treat. It was a little getaway in the truest of senses. A getaway from the piles of laundry and countless snacks, and endless tidying that is the norm. It was being able to go here and there as I pleased. It was time to hear my own thoughts, or chat with Ryan and not feel like I'm competing with four little ones who want his attention just as much as I do.

But not a getaway in the sense that I needed to get away from everything. More a getaway to remind me how much I do love all of it, and how much I miss what is my life when I'm gone.

I decided to make the most of the last few hours of our stay, and stayed in. I had seen so much of what I wanted to see, and wanted to linger in the room a while. I put on my favourite french playlist, put together the things I had picked up for breakfast and sat and read while George fell back asleep.

I slowly packed and checked out. They graciously let me stay a little longer in the spa until Ryan had finished his meetings and then we headed home. After we stopped at Dineen for another coffee, of course.

We took our time driving home along the lakeshore, stopping at some of my favourite spots along the way.

It didn't get much more spring-like than this! Fiori Oakville had Hydrangeas outside.

Then down to Soap & Water - really my favourite shop in town.

From there, a quick stop at Centro Gardens in Burlington.

This little part of the shop is understandably my favourite part.

And then home, just in time to enjoy dinner with the boys.
Home sweet home.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

a stay in the city - toronto, day two

It seems ridiculous to break up such a short trip, but I saw so many things, and popped into so many charming little places, that for the sake of not having a million photos, I'll post each day separately.

Usually, when staying at a nice hotel, I would have indulged in room service and enjoyed breakfast in bed. It's always a favourite part of a stay. However, I had so many places that I wanted to see. My first stop was coffee, of course. One of the cafes I wanted to visit was Dineen Coffee. I opted for Dineen Outpost, one that's not downtown, as I had the car and didn't want to worry about finding parking. It didn't disappoint. First, the design of the store alone is so pretty - with so much attention to detail. Pink marble-topped tables, a long sweeping counter with brass accents and brass fixtures, large built-ins and so much natural light. It's been done so well- but the best part? Not having to sacrifice a great cup of coffee to enjoy it somewhere stylish.

A perfectly-poured cappuccino and a pistachio croissant (which I had never heard of) were the perfect start to my day.

From there I headed to Cabbagetown. Toronto, like most large cities, is made up of different neighborhoods. I picked here for a few reasons - the historic homes in a variety of styles, being close to the park and historic Riverdale Farm. It was the first day of spring, and the weather couldn't have been more perfectly suited. I parked at the edge of the park and just started walking up and down the streets. One street can be lined with four story Victorian brownstones and the next street, charming workers' cottages.

I love seeing how they bring character and personality to these small spaces. Each has such a small, modest front plot. Like this charming home above - it actually had one of the larger properties, and yet it's still quite tiny. But despite it's size, it doesn't compromise on style. I loved the boxwood walk.

Across from Riverdale Farm is the Toronto Necropolis, a historic cemetery with it's Gothic Victorian architecture. In the summer, it's covered in Ivy.

This is Riverdale Farm, a working farm right in the middle of the city. You can walk around the historic buildings and see the farm animals and the herb and vegetable gardens.

George and I decided that if we needed to live in the city, this is the neighborhood we'd like to live in. Particularly, one of the charming little cottages on the street that ends at the edge of the park.

From here, I drove to the other side of the city, to Coriander Girl. I fell in love with this sweet shop when it was over on Queen St West. While it's mostly a studio space now, it was still pretty to look at.

From there, over to Little Italy, where I found the aptly deemed "World's Most Adorable Bar". During the day, they serve tea and pastries, and in the evening it's a bar. Any place that serves tea in Blue Willow china with monogrammed teaspoons, and has vintage trays piled high with a variety of croissants this delectable, may rightful call themselves that.

Of course, good quality tea and a delicious scone, with a perfectly crunchy top, are also important.

As is good company, and I had the best.

I decided to walk around for a while, being as it were that all I had eaten so far that day were pastries. I ducked in and out of a few shops, including this charming looking cheese shop.

I had taken some pastries home with me from tea, and decided to pick up some cheese to accompany them for breakfast the next morning.

From here, I made my way back downtown and decided to finish the afternoon at Allen Gardens Conservatory.

We took our time walking through the different greenhouses, enjoying the warmth.

The Jasmine was in bloom and it filled the entire space with such a heady fragrance. We stayed until they were about to close and then made our way back to the hotel. Ryan had a short break before dinner, so we caught up for a bit before we both headed out for the evening.

This time I did Yorkville again, but earlier so that I had enough time to browse the shops, and still grab dinner before everything closed.

This shop, Pink Tartan, was my favourite of the trip, solely from the exterior. It's the most beautiful old building sitting perfectly in an urban setting. I love the black accents, and the greenery growing up the side, and the lower entrance, and even the pink door!

After closing the shops, I quickly popped into Pusateri's, a true gourmet grocery that was right around the corner from the hotel. Selecting something for dinner was near impossible and only less difficult than resisting the desserts on display. I did grab some of my favourite french yogurts, the ones in the glass petit pots that I can never justify getting, as well as some fresh raspberries, also for breakfast.

Then back to the hotel to sit and enjoy dinner and golf until Ryan got back. We ended the evening in the spa for a late night swim and a soak in the hot tub.

It was such a full day, but it was so relaxing. As I was driving, I came to a realization about the city. The city stresses many people out. It's fast paced, a frenzy of overhead wires and towering buildings that never seem to sleep. But when you don't have anywhere to be, it's actually quite relaxing. You can walk for hours without realizing it, and there's never an end of things to discover. And if you look for them, there are these tranquil little spots all over, perfect for slowing down and sipping tea or window shopping or smelling the Jasmine.

Monday, March 25, 2019

a stay in the city - toronto, day one

When your husband has to go out of town for a couple nights on business, especially when his conference happens to be at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel downtown Toronto, you thank your lucky stars your parents are happy to watch the kids, pack your bags, and tag along! While he was busy all day with seminars and each evening with mingling things, I occupied myself, which isn't hard to do in the city. I spent quite a bit of time planning out how I would spend the couple days; which bakeries looked yummy, which cafes seemed prettiest, shops I wanted to browse and neighborhoods I wanted to walk about. I had quite an extensive list actually.

Now, I didn't make it to everything on my list. Sometimes I really enjoyed walking about, and before I knew it, hours had passed. Other times, I'd get somewhere and parking seemed impossible, so I would just keep driving onto the next spot.

Of course, I could have stayed in the hotel for the couple days I was in town, and I would have been perfectly happy! It really is a beautiful hotel. And more than that, how they care for you is just beyond, especially with a baby.

Take for instance, this little tray of the most delicious treats they brought up while I was unpacking! (And a sweet little plush Moose and travel kit for George.)

The hotel lobby had beautiful displays of flowers that were changed part way through our stay. We arrived to giant vases of Forsythia blossoms in full yellow bloom, and yellow Tulips. And on the morning of the first day of spring, we came down to find pink Hydrangeas and Roses and Tulips, and huge bunches of blossoms.

After checking in and getting settled, I had the evening to walk about. I decided to head to Queen's Park. I love the beautiful old buildings of the University of Toronto and St. Michael's College, especially in contrast to the city around them. It's like being transported to London, or so I imagine.

It truly felt like the beginning of spring. The sun was warm, despite cooler temperatures and the birds were letting everyone know they had returned as they hopped about gathering twigs. I even saw the first Daffodils and Crocuses popping up. Only hints of snow still lingered and the grounds were so saturated and muddy. Luckily I had packed my boots and a light jacket.

I just ducked in and out of corridors and through archways, as I meandered through the grounds, never quite sure where I'd end up.

The evening hours, just as the sun was sinking below the surrounding buildings, was the perfect time to admire everything. The light was lovely.

From there I went back to the hotel, parked the car, and walked down Yorkville Ave to see the shops in that area. I had spent so much time walking around the Universities, that everything was closing and the idea of bringing George into a restaurant this late, by myself, seemed a bit too much. I had passed a gourmet grocery shop on my way, so I headed back to maybe get something from there eat. Of course, as I walked up, they closed their gates. At this point, the sun had set, and I was starving. Not wanting to bother waiting for room service, I grabbed a cheap slice of pizza, a bottle of wine and headed back to the hotel to soak in the tub. I climbed into bed, sufficiently pruny, and watched Escape to the Country as I snuggled George to sleep.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

spring in the master bedroom

I spent some time decluttering the bedroom the other day, and thought I would make the most of the clean room, and take a couple photos. I don't even remember the last time I've shown this room, if ever fully.

On my list of things to still do in here are the following:
- replace shades with similar neutral ones.
- make a bed skirt
- set up a small desk where the rocking chair is, once I'm finished using it for late night or early evening feedings with George.

This antique four poster bed was a Kijiji (like Craigslist) find years ago. I paid $100 for it. It was already painted white, otherwise I would have left it wood, but I don't mind it. 

Given the white room, with white bedding, it's nice to have pieces like this side table and the baskets to add warmth.

The basket corrals what's on the night table, and keeps things to a minimum.

For perspective, the master bedroom is one top half of the original stone home. So it has four windows - one facing East, two Southern-facing, and this one facing West.

We love the old radiator in this room - it's huge with pretty details.

This is the view when walking in the door to the bedroom. One day, we will expose the stone on this little section of this wall, and the other bit of this wall that's to the left of the closet.

Also, I've wanted to add a rug to this room for a while, but just don't want to spend the money on what I want yet. In the mean time, this little $25 jute runner from Ikea adds some texture at a next to nothing cost. Adding texture to a room is equally as important to me as adding warmth. The natural rug and hamper, the aged pot, the antique gilt frames, the woven throw with fringe, the lace-trimmed pillow covers, the reed baskets and worn wood - they all add texture. Even the aged and worn floors and wavy plaster walls and imperfect glass in the old windows add texture. It just all adds character.

This is the doorway to the hall, which allows in so much light and warmth, as it gets all the afternoon sun. The little blue plate was a souvenir I took home from our trip to Nantucket last year. I paid so much more than I would normally have, but I loved it. I thought about it for the couple days we were there, and when we were passing it in town, on our way back to the ferry, I popped in to Flowers on Chestnut and picked it up. I didn't regret it. (As we drove further out the cape, I found another matching blue platter and the price was so good, together the little plate seemed more reasonable!)

Behind this door is our closet, which we both share. Originally a chimney ran up through here from the room below. The trunk under the other window (which is darker because the shade strings have broken), is a family heirloom. My mother in law recently re-did her bedroom and gave it to us. I believe it's what Ryan's grandparents used to bring belongings over from Holland when they immigrated. She stripped it to look like this. It reads a tad orange in the photo, but it's such a beautiful piece with so much character. And again, it adds so much to the white room. It's also a great piece to store extra blankets and off-season linens in. I also have an antique oval mirror to hang on the open space of that wall, but hanging anything that heavy on these plaster walls requires my husband, and that means it will have to wait a while.

And finally our wardrobe, which we also share. It was an antique piece I had as a wardrobe when I was little. It was originally used to transport bolts of fabric on a boat from Europe. The back has interesting stamps and printing on it. My dad added shelves to it for clothing.

Our bedroom is one of five, now that we've opened the apartment to the main house. Us and the two little ones are upstairs (they share the nursery), the two older boys have a room downstairs by the family room, another is being used as a playroom, and the last one is being used for storage, and will one day be set up as a guest room.