Category Archives: Neighbourhood Watch

Ezriders: Urban Transportation for Badasses

Last week someone scraped the side of my car in the parking lot of my gym.  He left a note on my windshield with a detailed explanation of the mishap, an apology, a (correct) phone number and an offer to use his BMW dealership to repair my utilitarian Japanese autobox.  At first I thought I was in love but the more I thought about it, the more I realized his benevolence wasn’t sincere, he was probably being watched and aware of the fact there are security cameras on the premises.  And he drives a BMW, stands for Bad Man Walking.  They are fussy German cars and the typical dude who drives one wears those contrived distressed jeans and doesn’t know how to fix things so when he has an emotional problem, his car will feel it and will manifest itself into electronic breakdown so he goes to the dealership, gives his keys to BMW bellhop and orders a cappuccino from receptionist who has big hooters.  And then he will pace in front of her, fiddling with his Blackberry, but never looking at her.  He thinks she thinks he has all the prowess in the world because he can sip foam and text at the same time.  He doesn’t have to acknowledge her, the whiskers in his jeans point the way.  Anyway I left my car at Douchebags R Us on Monday and declined a rental.  Just because I am nice.

So I have been walking everywhere, especially on Queen Street East from my new office at Core Realty.  There are a lot of new stores and restaurants that I haven’t noticed before which I will shop, eat, and tell you about in the future.  But a couple of interesting things I saw today, there’s a lot of mural art in the east end. some of it is the Ralph Thornton Mural Project:

But also some really cool small business have putting up their advertising up in graffiti art form.  This one is Pardon Le Dopeness.  They have a great website, click here to see it, and they sell very cool t shirts :

I love that kind of stuff.  It reminds me of my badass youth before I drove a car everywhere!!!  And the other interesting thing from my walk home today was checking out this store:

ezriders, e-bikes, e-scooters and accessories, 1296 Queen Street East

This place is the answer to urban transportation.  The beauty of these bikes is that you don’t need the insurance (badass) and you don’t need to get a special license, which if you buy a little (douchebaguette) Vespa, is mandatory.  And the prices are not shocking at all.   The one I have my eye on is under $700.  Check them out here, they are having a sale (kickass Christmas present) but you can also rent them by the hour which would make for a great first date for some of you weirdos who don’t have cars yet.  Here’s what they look like:

Take a load off, ezriders, me likey the middle one

Eat, Walk, Pray You Don’t Spill

Pilaros Taste of The Danforth Festival

The annual Greektown festival of street meat and frivolity on Danforth between Broadview and Jones is on in full force this weekend.  You know how I love a road closure and a self contained food item that can be eaten while in motion.  The other day, I was driving along Queen east of Parliament when I saw the Road Closed sign, I got excited and said; “Look it’s a festival!”  My daughter replied:  “It’s construction, Mother.”  No pulled pork or iced cold lemonade at that road block…..or was there?  Anyway, last month we had Little India and The Beaches Jazz Festival and now the biggest and grandest of them all, Pilaros Taste of the Danforth.  I had the first pork souvlaki on a pita near the Jones entrance, a beautifully folded over sandwich with tzatziki, sliced tomatoes, and some onions.   Yes the onions spilled out but most important, the tzatziki stayed put and the kebab meat slid out of the stick easily.  And as a side, I had a fantastic spanakopita, the Greek spinach pie in pastry.  I could have eaten more but I didn’t want to push my luck.  Here are some pics of the festival:

They Come In Droves

This weekend is the Beaches Jazz Festival and for absolute sure, the highlight of every East Ender’s calendar year.  I know it is mine.  It is part music, part freak show, and a fine excuse to eat pulled pork which hardly ever happens for me.  They close off the streets, so again you get to walk in the middle of the road!  This has been going on for some twenty odd years and every year it gets better and better.  Our friend, Lido, does the most amazing job putting this on so don’t miss it, and you can park in my back yard!  Here are some pics (worth a thousand words):

Beaches Jazz Festival Balloon Man, look for his profile on Plenty Of Fish

Two wolf moon

every girl’s best friend, the oyster shucker shucking an oyster

the pulled pork parfait

I need to pause at this one.  Definitely one of the highlights at the festival is the pulled pork stand featuring Hank Daddy’s Barbecue, click here and check out their website.  This would be the place to call if you had an event that needed catering.  The smartest street foode ever:  the pulled pork parfait:  layer of mash potato, pulled pork and gravy, another layer of mashed potato with pulled pork, then topped with beans!  In a plastic parfait glass!  You know, the sky is the limit with this one, I may eliminate all my plates at home and serve everything like this then we can always eat dinner in front of the tv.  Dirty secret:  my house rule is that anything that can be served in a bowl, ie. chili, stew, can be eaten on the couch while watching Family Guy.  Anyway, here’s more of the Jazz Festival:

the bands are set up all along Queen Street

more foode!

Another Fine Opportunity to Serve Cold Lemonade



I have to admit, I watched ZERO, nada, niets of this World Cup Finale.  I have to say, I just can’t crush on a soccer player.  They are too handsome, it’s unnerving.  It’s like they don’t need me, wearing their Dolce & Gabbana underwear with their perfectly groomed eyebrows, paying surrogates to have their spawn.  A hockey player might need me, with his missing teeth, to cut up his food in baby pieces.  A tennis player might need me to remind him to put on sunscreen and not to scowl or else his face might stay that way.  Even a golfer might need me to iron his Dockers (I’m digging deep here).  So yeah, the whole soccer thing is lost on me, and besides, not enough close ups so I could at least pick up some makeup tips.

As an aside but in a similar vein, my neighbours, The Chore Family, are on holiday so I thought I could sit on my front porch and guiltlessly read my book ( you know, without having to join in on weeding and whatnot)…but no, when Chore Family is away, even the mice are put to task.  I’m sure I saw one mowing the lawn.  And I am The Chosen One designated to water the container plants in the front yard (and maybe the back? uh oh).  Also they have hired people to put on a new roof:

Fixer on the Roof

Now watching roofers do their thing during a heat wave is a thing to behold.  Roofers are hot!  Pun and no pun intended.  But also impressive was that the crew from Fixer on the Roof were meticulous, polite, and made sure that the asphalt shingles they were replaced were promptly cleaned up.  Years ago, when my roof was done, I found random shingle shards like lost Easter eggs, underneath cushions, in the mint plant, even in the mailbox.  Furthermore, Trish, who runs the operation came by to see if her boys were hydrated (should have been my job) and impressed me with her credentials and knowledge of roofing, she even blogs about it!!!    And greenies, they also do solar panels which is definitely something to think about!  Click here for the website for more information and check out the blog.

The Junction, Shmunction, What’s Your Function?

“The Agents” in Action

The tv show, The Agents,  that I’m on is still in production and they are taking their filming out of the East Hoods and into the West End.  Yesterday I was called to go visit a house on Osler (Dupont and Dundas St. West).  I sold a really sweet house on Osler a couple of years ago for a quarter pounder (that’s real estate shop talk for $250,00o) but the one I was going to see was a couple of blocks south.  As I recalled back then, the street was described as blue collar working class and it was in an up and coming neighbourhood called “The Junction.”  Toronto is becoming so neighbourhood obsessed.  Some neighbourhoods have neighbourhoods within their neighbourhood.  They do the gentrification thing and put up a row of upscale townhomes and change the neighbourhood name to something cryptic to disassociate themselves from the original:  “Corktown”, you are still in Regent Park, don’t kid yourself, the meth lab is in full view across the street and the crack hos are using your bodega to get their sundries.  Anyway, over the last two years, it turns out the citizens of The Junction have rejected Osler as part of their hood.  “Oh, no, this isn’t the Junction, ” the listing agent said, “The Junction is part of High Park and they are part of a triangle.”  He waves his hand to the West.  “Then where are we?”  I am horrified.   I need the definition.  The whole reason neighbourhoods have names is so that real estate agents know how to price a house.  Here is the view:

Osler and Dupont

It turns out the Listing Agent didn’t know what neighbourhood we were in.  And as an aside, he was serving  home made gazpacho (agents like to serve lunch on tv).  Cold soup. “Tarragon and tomatoes go so well together,”  he said with confidence.  Eating cold soup is like eating a bowl of relish.  I am out of sorts, I think I need to put this stuff on a hot dog.  He also says, “It’s a buyers’ market so I’m holding on offers til Wednesday.  I think $399,000 is a good price!”  For a house that is not considered part of the Junction?  Maybe if it was in the Junction proper! And, isn’t the defintion of “junction” to join by traffic or railroad?  The railway is a half a block away and there is so much traffic, my interview gets halted so many times that my bowl of gazpacho gets warm in the sun.  And if it is a buyer’s market, isn’t holding back offers a seller’s market strategy? There are so many trucks roaring by, I can barely think straight.  Osler Fish Market is busy for a Monday, and I thought Tuesday was fish day.  Being in the west end had me all confused, everything is so ass backwards.  Usually I am nice in my interviews, but yesterday I was  The Wicked Witch of The East; “This house is never going to sell!”  I cackled. Anyway, if this part of Osler is not considered the Junction, I`m offically calling it Gazpacho Town because I left a trail of it for three blocks.

Every Dog Has Her Day

I’m on Day 18 of the 30 Day Bikram Challenge!  I`m over the hump and feelin`good, I could go on forever but I won`t, don`t worry.  This yoga fog can`t last.  I`m neglecting my posts and my personal grooming.  I think all that heat is breaking capillaries on my face at an accelerated rate and I can`t be bothered to put the slap on to cover them up.  Also I am pretty much wearing the same thing everyday:  England World Cup tshirt and I don`t even care if they win or lose.  One thing I have been doing is redecorating my living room and if I do say so myself:  It is kick-ass.    Except for one thing.  I need to hang the curtain brackets which means I need a man with a drill to help me.  I have let my needs be known and yet no one has risen to the task.  What happened to the benevolent universe granting wishes to people who bought the DVD of  The Secret?   Does the universe even know I exist?  At least the universe knows my dog, Betty, exists.  Yesterday she got a bone and then some.

Betty meeting Rocco at the off leash dog park

The other day I was watching, captivated, a show on TLC called Extreme Poodles which is a whole other topic of conversation but made me look over at Betty and say, “Betty, when was the last time we updated your profile on Facebook?”  So we logged on and lo and behold there was a message from the Toronto Beaches Dog Association (no I am not making it up, it exists, click here and check their website and you can `like`them on Facebook too).  The Nutromax Dog Food Company are donating a couple of benches to the off leash dog park in Kew Gardens, the one at the beach by the Leuty Lifeguard Station.  They were also giving out free samples AND the chance to win free dog food for a year!  Talk about benevolence, match that *Universe*!  So off we went yesterday morning to beach to get some Nutro action and a little excercise.  One thing about Betty is that she is mostly a leash dog.  Her legs are about as long as my thumb so she is always at a fast trot even when I am at a slow stroll.  But an off leash park is a pretty fine thing.  Did you know that the city of Toronto plants spies in bushes and unmarked cars to ticket dog owners who let their dogs off leash in undesignated areas? 250 smackaroos for the offending canine.  Back  before Betty, when I had those two wanderlusting Shiba Inus, I would had to pay a few hundred million dollars in fines.  Penny and Cruise, they were fine dogs but with feral spirits.  And not so fun hunting them down in the middle of winter pushing a double stroller.  If the off leash park existed back then, they for sure would have found their way out.  They are probably bolting around Heaven now, chasing squirrels and rolling in dead fish, bless their little hearts. Here are the currently alive dogs on their turf:

Betty off to get her free samples

We had a fun morning.  Betty made a few new friends and got some dog food sample (venison!) and a faux-bone she can chew that cleans her teeth.  I’d like one of those, please.  And!  She won the grand prize:  free dog food for a year!  Thank you, Nutromax!

Happy Birthday, Queen Vic-Chore-ia

I have a proposal to all Torontonians out there:  Stop calling it the May Two-Four weekend, as though all you do is hang out, enjoy life, drink a case of brewski (hence the cutesy two-four for 24 for the 24 of May in which Queen Victoria was born)…no, call a spade a spade, in fact, pick up a spade and start digging in yer gardens and call it May Too-Many-Chores weekend.  What are you doing this weekend?  You ask this to any random person that lives in the GTA and Smuggy McSmugginton will reply:  “Going up to The Cottage, blah blah…chores, this and that, painting a porch, blah, cleaning up bear and raccoon fecal matter, more chores, toasting bread in a toaster with mouse fecal matter embedded, blah blah”….Fun!  I’m here in the city with my own chores, keeping up with the Chore Family who live next door:

The Chore Family are the best neighbours I’ve ever had (they have my back!) and their compulsive need to snip, rake, weed (the verb), and refine their garden has rubbed off on me a tiny bit.  Their lawn looks like an expensive haircut because every fifth sprig is a clover.  Tip: when a lawn is entirely blades of grass it looks like a military haircut. the clovers add texture and visual interest.  Although I have learned this, I have not bothered to apply it, my grass has alapacea from stress.  They plant flowers in containers, I throw seeds in a plot in front of the  the porch because for me the only good plant is a useful one, ie edible (mint, for mojitos and tzatziki), protective (those sharp weeds, deters burglars), or awe-inspiring (that wretched overgrown butterfly bush that brings all the Monarchs around in September).  But now I tinker around a little more, pulling wayward green grass chards between the interlocking bricks, it’s a relaxing activity.  And the other day, I bought a hanging basket:

Go big or go home, is my motto.  I got the mega-hanging plant at the garden place at Coxwell and Fairside and paid 50 bucks for the big purple spill of petunias in a peat pot.  This weekend I will cut those dumb ass floppy fickle tulips out of the garden, pour some fresh soil and dump my seeds: California poppies and nasturtium….trust me, you can eat these, although why would you want to (?! that goes for you, too, Mr. Artichoke) but I bet they would make perfect garnish in some martini this summer, I’ll keep you posted on that.  So this weekend, I might call it May Six Pack because really, I need to paint my porch….

The Summer of Honey

Farmer’s Market at the East York Civic Centre

Yay!  Starting today, every Tuesday, the Farmer’s Market comes comes to the East York Civic Centre (on Coxwell Ave at Cosburn).  The East York Civic Centre is one of those handy places to know about where you can get your driver’s license updated and a flu shot.  And now that it is mid-May, the market is there once a week as well.  It’s still kind of early, so if asparagus doesn’t rock your boat, all the vendors aren’t set up yet.  The marble rye/poppy seed loaf people are there (try the honey garlic sausages, yum!).  And speaking of honey, the honey people are there too.  I got a honey skin cream that is supposed to be good for any skin ailment from diaper rash to eczema.  It smells fantastic, I’m putting it on my baggy neck right now, maybe it will look normal again or at least some vampire will want to bite it.  They have loads of flavoured honey.  I got the ginger infused one which is soooo delish and I am having right now in my tea.  You know, Dr. Oz approves of honey, it’s his Number One Pantry Healer.  I’m going to make this sticky honey soy chicken wing recipe, click here to watch the lady make it on you tube.  What did we do before you tube?  So much easier than reading a recipe and getting the pages all stuck together.  The cute boys who run the south side of market are back and they had the super skinny asparagus which I am more partial to than the big fat ones, oddly enough.  Roasted asparagus is a reason to buy that super expensive sea salt that looks like shaved flakes.  I’m going to try drizzling some of that ginger honey on them, bet that will be a taste sensation.  Mmmm, honey….oh, and here’s a recipe for a honey martini that’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac: 1.5 oz of rum, 1 oz honey, lemon squeeze, splash soda water, and serve with a honey stick (the farmer’s market had them!). You know, I would add some mint and call it a honey mojito…in fact, I declare it to be the Summer of Honey!  I’ll be trying out all the flavours, see you next Tuesday!

My Guitar Heroines

The Original Runaways

CH-CH-CH-CHERRY BOMB!!!!  No, I don’t have a form of literary Tourette’s Syndrome (or maybe I do) but even a month after seeing The Runaways (the movie!), I’ve got the cherry bomb ringing in my head.  Well, that’s probably because on any given Friday night, you can hear my daughter and her faux-band, The Cherry Bombs, with her guitar amped up to a conservative kind-of-loud, practising their Runaways tune in her third floor bedroom.  CH-CH-CH-CHERRY BOMB!!!!!  I feel sorry for the neighbours…no, I don’t.  Neighbour boy used to practise drums super-loud during the week nights, now it’s their turn to enjoy the music!   I’d say the neighbour boy should be their drummer but they are an all-girl band.  In fact the movie, The Runaways,  is playing at the Fox Theatre this week, check here for show times.  I totally recommend this film for young and “zoomers.” I just learned this term today, we are boomers with ooompff, (don’t worry I’m only going to entertain the term for this one post).  It’s one of the best depictions of the seventies I’ve seen: hair (hideously fantastic), makeup (classic, still wearing mine that way) , clothes(tight, ridiculously sex-say), architecture (Brady Bunch).   It’s a story of one of the first all-girl bands to make it big, and we’ve come a long way since then.  And now you don’t have to go far to hear young and talented women playing music.  Two of my favourite girl crushes are East End ladies, Melanie Peterson, and Diana Zitmanis.

Melanie Peterson teaches my daughter the guitar, everything from the Runaways, The Ramones,  Smiths (the quintessential zoomer band) to the Kooks(who?  that’s okay, the modern-day Smiths).  She and her band play locally as well as at the Liberty Bistro every 4th Saturday of every month, see below for this month’s date.  She’s got a unique acoustic sound described as 60’s Coffeehouse style.   Check out her music here.

And go see her live on May 22 at the Liberty Bistro , 25 Liberty Street at 8pm and 10pm, featuring Blue Venus.  Make it a field trip!

And another local super talented songstress is Diana Z.  The girl I want to be (if I wasn’t such a homebody)…Miss Z travels from here to Alaska (definitely one of the most interesting Facebook friends to have!) and all over.  Diana Z has a really cool song called “The Coffee Song” and it’s on her website…take a listen and take the time to vote for her for LILITH FAIR!     Go to Diana’s website here, instructions for voting on the right….and VOTE!!!  So  cool if she wins!!

My fave fun fact is Diana’s inspiration at 5 years old was watching the video of Abba’s Waterloo!  I had to check it out, I don’t even know that song even though I’m a zoomer, watch it here….umm, okay, she’s so much cooler!!! CH-CH- CH-CHERRY BOMB!  Keep on rocking, ladies, see you at your next show!





Kristin’s Golden Years

Where Am I? Hint: Not in Kansas

I know most of you know me as the Wicked Witch of the East but I do love a broom ride to the west side. One of my “retirement” case scenarios is that I’m an old bat in a vintage Juicy Couture velour sweatsuit (it’s the future!) living with a barrel bodied, overfed chihuahua in a bedsit right in the heart of Kensington Market. I don’t really know what a bedsit is, I think I heard the word on Coronation Street but I am sure they have them in the KM. Everything is in Kensington Market, even forgotten time. I visit it every so often, like a tourist, and I am always surprised that the shops take Canadian currency. Architecturally, it’s a couple of blocks of crazy. It looks like my Grade 4 Project where I recreated an African village using shoe boxes, pipe cleaners, and plasticine. It seems like you could drop a match and the whole place would burn….but why would you? It is one the sweetest hoods in Toronto.

Yes, go home Frank Gehry and leave an old lady alone with her popsicles sticks and glue gun. Kensington Market should be its own little municipality like the Vatican. The shopping here is actually holy. Back in the early 1980s, my very first “serious” boyfriend (I use the word serious with curlicues on the side because I can laugh about it now but at the time it was as maudlin as anything Morrisey ever moaned about), took a trip to New York City with his buddy and we he came back, he trilled, gayly: “The shopping! You can get anything in New York!” My present was a five foot long fully functioning pencil. A giant pencil…no joke. He couldn’t get on that plane now because they would have held him in customs for being an asshole. Move on (he turned out to be a hoarder, amongst other things)….Blue Banana is a giant, two level store on Augusta where you can get anything as long as you’re not looking for it. Two levels of really cool, unique, stuff and not a giant pencil in sight:

Take that for loads of crap, Manhattan!

And after parusing this store (trust me, it could take hours, your butt cheeks will chafe for sure), trot across the street to Waterfalls for a pint and some Indian Tapas:

It’s a great place for people watching, Flying Monkeys on tap, and somosas and bajias. Don’t feel sad for me when I’m a batty old lady because I will the Queen Of Kensington! (feel free to perform an intervention if I become a hoarder)