Category: Vlog

Market Battles

Ahhhh the St. Lawrence Market.

Did you know that we live next door to the St. Lawrence Market? Y'know "the Market"... the one that was named one of the Top 10 food markets in the WORLD by National Geographic. (Yes, in the WORLD!)

It's a pretty awesome place to visit. Which is why it's also such a big tourist attraction in our city.

There's a little bit of history, a lot of food and some entertainment too. We like to buy our fresh produce there. And our bulk food, our cured meats, maybe our cheese, and veal parmigiana, apple tarts, peameal bacon sandwiches... okay, we like to buy pretty much anything we can eat there. Are you getting hungry?

Living next door, we've also discovered how much more the Market offers above and beyond weekly grocery shopping or a quick lunch on the go. First we discovered Evening at the Market (tickets on sale now for this year's event!) Then it was Chef Scott's Friday Night Market Feast (awesome date night idea, you won't be disappointed!) And this summer they added the delicious Market Battles series to the rotation. 

They hosted 3 Market Battles over the course of 3 Summer Months. Each time, 6 Market vendors would vie for a "best" title. We love trying anything new that the Market does to entertain us and this was a great alternative to cooking dinner on those Friday nights.

Month 1 was the battle of the Burgers. Month 2 was the battle of the Smokehouse BBQ. The 3rd and final month was the battle of the Skewers. Want to see how tantalizing and delicious all of the food looked? Watch our videos below (of course we made a video, it's what we do!)

*WARNING* watching these videos may cause drooling and a rumbling in your stomach. 

Toronto’s High Park Cherry Blossoms

It happens once a year for one week... two, if you're lucky. The city's Sakura Trees BLOOM into beautiful flowers. You may know them as, "cherry blossoms."
They brighten up the parks they live in and they invade our Instagram News Feeds. They make us happy, because all of this means patio season (Spring) has finally arrived in our beautiful city of Toronto.

Did you know...? That Toronto Citizens were gifted 2000 cherry blossom trees from the Citizens of Tokyo, Japan. This happened on April 1, 1959 and it was a way for the Japanese citizens to say, "thank you" to those in Toronto who helped Japanese refugees after World War II. Since then, they've planted even more and you can find the trees throughout the park and the city in the spirit of continued friendship between the people of Canada and Japan. 

❤✌

How do you say, “Toronto”?

Riddle me this...

Is there a "right" way to pronounce the name of our big, beautiful city? 

Is it Toronto? Or Turrono? How do you say it? 

Jon and I do not pronounce it the same and it has been an ongoing discussion between us for LITERALLY years and will likely last for years more. 
(You will find a portion of this ongoing discussion in the video below.)

We've come to the conclusion that there is no right way to say, "Toronto" and at the end of the day, it's still the best city in the world!*

(*this reflects our opinion, as we are speaking for ourselves with regards to this statement. Although we know some of you might agree!!)

How does Car2Go work?

You may have seen them... those little blue and white Smart cars whizzing around the city. Those are Car2Go cars and they are for everyone to share!

We're busy Realtors in Toronto and driving the city can make one want to tear hair out. We began looking at easier options to get around the city, that wasn't going to cost an arm and a leg such as taxis or Uber. Enter our friend Jayson. One night, while eating hamburgers on a rooftop, Jayson starting telling us about his amazing experiences with Car2Go. Both Jon and I listened to him intently with eureka looks on our face. I believe we may have even had cartoon light bulbs show up over our head. 

Fast forward 2 days and a little bit of research later, we're now members of Car2Go. Within 2 days of using Car2Go, we were hooked.

The pros:

+gas is included +parking in legal street spots or green P's are included +insurance is $1 per use until 90 uses, then it's $0 (we're at $0 already!)
+convenient, they are everywhere +easy to use app +great customer service +Smart cars AND Mercedes CLA and GLAs

The cons:

-some people leave the cars in disastrous states (c'mon people, we're sharing!) -unavailability (cars showing up on the map that aren't there, or no cars at all... it's only happened a couple of times.)

Watch our video review below and wait for the J&C Carpool Karaoke at the very end. We're not very good.

“East Side” – Leslieville

We're trying to thoroughly explore Toronto's neighbourhoods, one neighbourhood at a time. It may take us awhile, but that won't stop us.

Every single day as we walk around our city, we experience that each area offers something different to each person. Our intention is to highlight what we think is great about our city, one neighbourhood at a time.

Enter LESLIEVILLE - our next neighbourhood vlog in this "neighbourhood series". A family friendly district settled somewhere in the middle of Riverside, Distillery District, Greektown, The Beach and the soon to be re-vamped PortLands.

Both Jon and I are "west-enders" by default. (Torontonians know that many times there seems to be 2 factions. The west-enders and the east-enders.) It was time for us west-enders to highlight that Toronto isn't just the west end. The east end offers so many amazing pockets and neighbourhoods that beg to be uncovered and discovered!

We have simply fallen in love with Leslieville. 

What we've discovered over the past few months is that there's an incredible sense of community in this neighbourhood. Community combined with many parks, trendy shops, restaurants, close to the Don Trail, the lake + one of our favourite Loblaws... (Yes, yes, we judge neighbourhoods by their grocery stores and we have a list of our favourite Loblaws.)

Leslieville was named after "George Leslie" and first came to life in the 1850's. It was home to light industry for decades and since 2000 has been gentrified at a rapid rate. Gentrification brought those trendy cafes, shops, restaurants, bars, places & spaces. For example; Carlaw Avenue's revamped industrial buildings that have been turned into loft and condominium spaces. As well, for those of you wondering, Leslieville does have a little crossover with the Riverdale neighbourhood (think the brand new Broadview Hotel). 

We could go on and on, but now is when you should stop reading and just watch the video: 

Our top 5 of trendy shops and stops that made our do not miss list:

1. Leslieville Pumps (a gas station/convenience store that is not your normal gas station/convenience store)
2. The many cafes and coffee shops (Te Aro, Mercury Espresso to name a few)
3. Culinary gems such as Gare De L'Est, Descendent Pizza, Barrio and Ed's Real Scoop
4. Gerrard India Bazaar (a.k.a Little India)
5. Leslieville Farmer's Market (Sundays, May thru October @ Jonathan Ashbridge Park)
5a. Greenwood Park's off leash dog parks (we love dogs) <-- 5a is still 5, right?

That's all for now.
See you in the next neighbourhood!

Throne Barbershop

For anyone looking to get a haircut in the downtown core, you'll be hard pressed to find a cooler spot than this not-so hidden gem at Gerrard and Yonge. The entrance is an unassuming door off of Gerrard, leading into a martial arts studio. Up the stairs and under the crown (the crown logo is as clean and simple as the shaves and haircuts), you will find Throne Barbershop.

The vibe is Drake meets Marcus Stroman, which makes sense considering the array of Instagram posts on the barbershop’s website. The feed features everyday clients, which include hip hop artists and most of the Toronto Blue Jays. This place is both cool and welcoming at the same time. Help yourself to a bottled water from the Throne fridge and sit back and relax as one of the young hip barbers, cuts and shaves you. A haircut will run you around $35 after tax.

You can book through the interface on the website, check out your barber’s Instagram and get a reminder sent the morning of your haircut. Treat yourself to an old school haircut & shave in a new school establishment. EST 2013.

www.thronebarbershop.com

399 Yonge Street, Toronto

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW

“Mini Toronto” – Kensington Market

Unique. Eclectic. Colourful. Vibrant. Diverse. Charming. Artistic.
Community. 
Kensington Market.


Those who know this neighbourhood, know those words don't even begin to encompass the experience that is Kensington Market. 

Colourful Victorian houses, old synagogues, vintage shops, cafés & restaurants, a "garden car" and so much street art. Add in a pedestrian only party in the streets once a month, and it is easily one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto.

For the short and sweet history of Kensington and it's diversity ☞
The 1880's brought the Irish & Scottish labourer immigrants, followed by eastern European & Italian Jewish immigrants. After the second world war there were Portuguese immigrants fleeing the Azores from political conflict and a wave of both Caribbean and Eastern Asian immigrants. Then there was the American political refugees after the war in Vietnam. The Chinese immigrants joined in as next door neighbourhood Chinatown grew too large. The 80's & 90's brought in groups of immigrants from Central America, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran, Vietnam and Chile. 
Jon and I noticed that it seems with each diverse group that immigrated to Kensington, they didn't take over the area to call it their own. Each group and era it came in added a layer beside the already existing layers. As you look around today, you feel each and every immigrant community who once called the streets of Kensington Market home. 

In saying all of this, you can see how all of your senses will be at work as you walk around the world in these few city blocks. And there is literally something for everyone and anyone. Beside an organic vegan café may be a Tibetan restaurant. Next to the Italian pizzeria is a vintage clothing shop. Beside one of the many cannabis dispensaries is a Mexican tortilleria.  You want a good Jamaican patty or a Chilean empanada and then go shopping for your fresh produce and meats, we know a few places.  Do you like to people watch? Dog watch? Street musician watch? You can do all of it on practically every street corner. 

But I digress, let's get back to this pedestrian party I mentioned earlier. 
The last Sunday of every month, from May until October, Pedestrian Sundays happen. From noon until 7pm there is a party in the streets that you won't soon forget. The streets are closed to any car traffic and then becomes a great rolling sea of people. Most of the shops and restaurants set up outside on the street to tempt you as you walk by, while musicians and artists litter the areas to entertain. From the Pedestrian Sundays we've been to, you also never know when you might find a flash mob or an unexpected parade erupting. I will put a disclaimer here *do not attempt Pedestrian Sundays if you don't like crowds*. It is the perfect opportunity to people watch until your eyes bleed, but for some that isn't their cup of tea. For those who try to stay away from crowds, mid-day during the week is when it's the calmest.

I could type for days about the history and feel of the Market, but since we are only aiming for a prologue sized blog (and not a novel) to add to our video, I will now glide into this segue ➟ watch our next vlog below! The first in our "Toronto Neighbourhood Series" — Kensington Market.  

Toronto’s Newest Dog Park – Berczy Park

This park has become a little passion project for Jon. I think it's safe to say that he may have a crush on it. 

It all began just over a year ago when the fences went up and there was news that our neighbourhood park was getting a makeover. The signage said it would be open early fall of 2016 and Jon waited patiently until then for the unveiling of our park. He would force me to cross the street at times, to get a closer look through the fences at what the construction was looking like. The open date was nearing and it didn't look ready. They pushed the date back to open later in the fall. Jon was getting antsy, he wanted "his" park to be opened. Okay Jon, YOUR park? (That's when I began to realize that my boyfriend may have a crush.) 

It didn't open in the fall, the date now pushed again! This time the signage told us it wouldn't be open until the spring. Slowly over the course of the spring, the park began to come together. Some of the fencing was taken down and we could now walk through the new beautifully tiled walkways. It was an every day occurrence now, Jon dragging me across the street to look at the progress. Imagine his excitement this past week when they started the fountain. And just like that it was opened! 

The first incarnation of this park was in 1980. It replaced a parking lot. Something the area seemed to have had an abundance of. That first park was lovely and we used to sit in the chairs around the small fountain from time to time. Or sit on the grass under one of the big trees. Revitalization began in 2015 and we thought, what was wrong with the park? It was already so lovely.

They outdid themselves. The small fountain has been replaced by a much larger, 3-tiered fountain with spouting ceramic DOGS on all 3 tiers. Yes, dogs. Watch the video and you will see:  

More than the 27 fountain dogs (and 1 cat), the park is now home to a plethora of comfortable seating, beautiful greenery and modern curb less borders to integrate the entire 3,606 square feet of park space. The park the last couple of days has been filled with people taking photos of this incredible fountain. 

There a few pieces still to be installed but we hear that the opening celebration is slated for June 28. Come check it out, Berczy Park! (Bring your dogs and watch them sniff the ceramic dogs!)

*For more information on the revitalization project, click HERE.
*For more information on the Montreal landscape architect firm that designed the park, click Claude Cormier & Associés.

Science is Fun at the Ontario Science Centre

I don't even know where to begin! Maybe I'll start with this - the Ontario Science Centre is SO. MUCH. FUN! I've been dozens of times as an adult and I still feel this way every time I'm there. This was Jon's first visit to the Science Centre and I believe you will be able to see his first impression and how much enjoyment it gave him, in our video below.  

Keeping with every other stop along our CityPASS adventure, this day was educational and entertaining. More than any of our other stops, it was much more interactive. There are hundreds of engaging activities throughout the 4 levels of this science museum. The subjects that are represented range from geology, nature, astronomy, technology, communication, human anatomy and more. Sounds boring, right? No, no it is not. You can see much of the museum in one day, but it is also a place where you will discover new aspects every time you visit. And if you really want to experience every area and every exhibit, you will need to visit multiple times. 

Unfortunately we went on a cold rainy day at the end of the winter and we missed out on the musical water fountain that lives outside of the building. It's a hydraulic action pipe organ that anyone can play. But it's closed in the cold months to avoid freezing and damage (similar to me, I shut off in the cold months too!) So I think we will have to go back and make some music sometime this summer.  

What to look out for when you are there: the daily science demonstrations (and the hair standing on end when you the touch the ball), the KidSpark area if you have children, the IMAX theatre and like the ROM and Aquarium, the Science Centre also hosts birthday parties and sleepovers ($64/person, find out what is included in the orange link) to spark the ultimate creation and innovation in kids. 

I could go on and on about the museum and all that this attraction has to offer, but I believe it may be more interesting just to watch us below:

This concludes our CityPASS adventure. We did it! And we would do it all over again. 

That being said, we would recommend any of these attraction in Toronto - to tourists and locals alike. We would also recommend anyone to see them using CityPASS (because who doesn't want to save money!)

If anyone has any questions above and beyond what we've covered, please don't hesitate to ask. We are here to help. 

Toronto’s Castle – Casa Loma

98 rooms, secret passages, towers overlooking the city... and maybe even a couple of ghosts!? Jon and I are a little obsessed with ghost stories and ghost hunting "reality" shows that somehow never end up finding any ghosts. (Sad!) When it came time to take our CityPASS adventure to Casa Loma, we were ready to do our own ghost hunting. 

I mean, it's a little difficult to do ghost hunting in a tourist attraction, that was hosting a Beauty and the Beast week with about a million (few hundred, I like to exaggerate) kids running around, but we definitely had fun doing it. 

We learned that Casa Loma means "Hill House" in Spanish. It was built for $3.5 million from 1911-1914 for financier, Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Sir Henry Pellatt is one of the rumoured ghosts that roams the hallways. Ghosts said to be roaming along with Sir Pellatt are his wife Lady Mary, and the most often seen ghost - the lady in white. The lady in white is believed to be a maid who once worked at Casa Loma. Staff and visitors alike have reported strange sightings over the years, noises and even felt grabbing hands. We didn't experience any of this, but we'll be back at Hallowe'en when Casa Loma hosts their haunted castle, to try again! One thing we like more than laughing, is scaring the crap out of ourselves!

Other than ghosts (or no ghosts), there is a Great Hall, a beautiful conservatory where weddings are hosted, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum for history enthusiasts, a potting shed, a vinatge car collection and soon there will be a steak restaurant run by Liberty Group. Casa Loma also hosts events such as the aforementioned Hallowe'en haunted house called Legends of Horror, they are currently hosting an Escape to Casa Loma series, there will be the upcoming Mother's Day brunch, they've hosted a Symphony in the Garden music series & Soul in the City concert series in the summers and so much more. 

If you have never been to this stunning mansion, you may also recognize Casa Loma from the movies. She's famous in Hollywood for playing the part of Guru Pitka's Ashram in the Love Guru, she made an appearance as a battle ground in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, she was in Cocktail, The Vow, Chicago... just to name a few.  

For the 4th installment of our CityPASS adventure, come with us up to the top of Spadina Avenue, where you find Toronto's castle, Casa Loma.