One is the Loneliest Number – On Eating Alone

dining2

Do you eat out by yourself? If so, do you differentiate in terms of where? For instance, I have no problem eating in a fast food restaurant, cafeteria or food court by myself, but am uncomfortable eating alone in a higher-end establishment. And as much as it’s nice to eat at the bar and maybe chat to the bartender, as a middle-aged woman, there’s too much of an “on the prowl” stigma going on that I’d rather not deal with.

Two different options are now available to single diners.In Amsterdam, a restaurant called Eenmaal offers a room full of tables that only seat one. While in Japan, the Moomin Cafe chain (associated with the popular animated character) seats a large stuffed toy across from patrons dining alone.

dining1

Neither is ideal, but Eenmaal’s focus on the experience (no wifi) and the food, seems to have the best of intentions, allowing the diner to revel in the solitude, whereas at Moomin, well, you’ve got to be okay with a tophat-wearing hippo-thingie as your tablemate. Which I would find hilarious but others might just consider silly. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to try Eenmaal if the tables didn’t look so very much like desks in a Junior High basement detention room.

More about Eenmaal at Businessweek, and check out the Moomin Cafe at Dangerous Minds.

Bookmark and Share

Read More

What If Classical Music Was Performed Like Rock Music?

You know the deal – you WANT to like classical music. You know you should learn more about classical music, but its all just so… classical. The stiffness, the formality… boring.

Salut Salon is an all-female quartet from Hamburg that makes classical music fun, intermixing traditional chamber music with pop and jazz, and throwing fun poses and postures, as would be typical in a rock performance, into their routine.

They’ve been together in various formations (2 core members, violinists and founders of the quartet Angelika Bachmann and Iris Siegfried plus various cellists and pianists), for over 12 years.

They’ve toured extensively, including Canada, but the upcoming year sees them mostly focused on Germany. But check out the video and then even more of their performances on YouTube – they’re absolutely marvellous.

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – Wednesday, April 24th, 2014

flowers-3

The installations of floral artist Rebecca Louise Law require a lot of patience and absolutely no fear of heights. Law has done a variety of work for companies such as Jimmy Choo, Max Mara and others, and most of her work involves suspending individual flowers from very high ceilings. Amazingly beautiful, particularly the cathedral installations. [Via This Is Colossal]

knit-4

You know when you bite into a persimmon and it makes your mouth all “sweatery”? Here’s betting that all of the food created by artist Jessica Dance does that as well. Dance works in set design and in collaboration with food photographer David Sykes has created a series of pieces reminiscent of classic meals including a full English breakfast and Christmas dinner. [Via This Is Colossal]

paris

How is it that Paris, regardless of the image in the photo, always looks so romantic and intriguing? Now, get a daily dose of old French flavour with Charmade – Vintage French Photos, a Tumblr full of rare vintage French photos. [Via Messy Nessy Chic]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Coming Up – Toronto Indie Arts Market Spring Fashion Extravaganza

web_flyer

Yes, another post where I blather on about neglecting poor old blog. This place never gets any love. I should change that, I know, but in the meantime, my energies have been elsewhere. Specifically, putting together the super cool Toronto Indie Arts Market.

And even better – the Spring Fashion Extravaganza event on March 15th that features 50 local artisans, designers and makers of beautiful clothing, jewellery and accessories.

If you’re in Toronto, please come check it out. It’s been a long winter and we all need a little something pretty and sparkly to make us hopeful that Spring will come soon.

Also, we’re donating 40% of the admission sales to The Corsage Project – an amazing organization that puts together prom outfits for under-privileged teens.

Go check out the TIAM website for a full list of participants. Plus, members of our mailing list will have a chance to win passes.

Bookmark and Share

Read More

The Beautiful Alphabet

alphabet-carved-into-crayons-by-diem-chau-3

They’re our earliest interaction with the written word – the letters of the alphabet are the building blocks of language, knowledge and self. And while graphic designers have created many lovely and interesting font sets over the centuries, these two sets of alphabets go one step further.

Basolis-Alphabet-19From 1839, Antonio Basoli’s lithographs of the letters of the alphabet are elaborate and detailed.

In Bologna, in 1839, the decorative artist Antonio Basoli published his Alfabeto Pittorico, ossia raccolta di pensieri pittorici composti di oggetti comincianti dalle singole lettere alfabetiche (‘Pictorial Alphabet, or, a collection of pictorial thoughts composed of objects beginning with the individual letters of the alphabet’). This was an album of twenty-five elaborate lithographs, each one featuring an alphabetical character cast in some fantastic architectural form, in a setting contrived to illustrate any number of figures and objects for which there were Italian words beginning with that same letter. A commentary in Italian and French explained the contents of the plates. Below are details from the lithographs representing the five vowels from this alphabet (plus one other additional image), scanned from a reproduction of the Alfabeto Pittorico issued in 1998 by Ravensburger, with translations of Basoli’s text into German and English, and with additional commentary and notes by Joseph Kiermeier-Debre and Fritz Franz Vogel. [spamula.net]

View the full set at Retronaut.com

alphabet-carved-into-crayons-by-diem-chau-9

And for an alphabet with a sense of whimsy, look no further than this set of carved crayons by Diem Chau, with matching animals native to the Pacific Northwest.These are gorgeous, and quite brilliant. With everything from vesper bats to killer whales, these Crayolas are not for colouring with but for admiring with awe.

View the full set at Twisted Sifter.

 

Bookmark and Share

Read More

You’re Invited! Beer and Butter Tarts Launch Party!

party11

If I haven’t been around the old blog much lately, it’s because I’ve been working on other stuff – most notably, the first issue of Beer and Butter Tarts, a Canadian literary food journal, which features work by writers and artists from right across Canada.

If you’re in the Toronto-area, please check out the details below and come on by. Otherwise, copies are available by mail-order from Stained Pages Press.

We’re having a party to celebrate the launch of our first issue!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014, 7pm
The Rhino Restaurant & Bar (skylight room)
1249 Queen Street West
free admission

Tasty nibbles, fab beer, plus selected readings from the first issue by contributors Dorianne Emmerton, David Huebert and others.

Copies of Issue #1 will be available for purchase.

Please join us!

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – January 2, 2014

Yes, I’m trying this again. Shut up and enjoy the links.

octopus

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get this for Christmas, but I’m sure it was just an oversight. Hubby’s probably just saving up for it. Or trying to figure out where, at 4ft across, we’d put it. This one-of-a-kind piece by Mason Creations is sold, but there’s always next year.

vincentprice

If you didn’t already think Vincent Price was awesome, here’s another reason – he wrote a book about his dog! Illustrated by Hirshfield, of course.Via Dangerous Minds.

yearbook Olde Tyme high school yearbooks, just as boring as current ones, except for all that hair! Via Twisted Sifter

smashscale

Ditch that whole idea of standing on your bathroom scale and feeling bad about yourself this new year. Instead – get all “Office Space” on that tyrannical appliance and savour the freedom behind the idea that numbers are meaningless. Via The Militant Baker

martinet

Steampunk? We’ve got your steampunk right here, Buddy. The beautiful nature sculptures of Edouard Martinet, made from spare parts.  Via Dangerous Minds

Bookmark and Share

Read More

How Justin Trudeau Inadvertently Convinced Me to Not Buy a Pink Tool Set

tools

“She’s not much into dolls yet, but she’s been asking for a tool set.”

My brother and I are discussing what to buy my 2-year-old niece for Christmas. Up until this point, we’ve showered her with pink clothes and toys; and made her quite a stylish little thing in the process (it’s no secret that I live vicariously through her awesome wardrobe, sending her care packages of clothes each month, mostly selected because I want an adult version of the thing). But as she approaches her 3rd birthday, she’s developing a personality with likes and dislikes of her own. And I’m happy, nay, overjoyed to buy her a tool set.

The item in question is super-cool, made from recycled plastic with each tool labelled with what it is (pliers, wrench) right down to the screwdrivers which specify a Phillips and flat head. The box is pink, with the tools in shades of pink, mauve and green. But as I peruse the Amazon website, I discover the “blue” version of the same set. Same contents, same price, but the colours are darker (blue, red, bright green).

Read More...

Read More

Join Me at Toronto Indie Arts Market

September web

So by now, most regular readers/followers know that I’ve spent the past few months putting together a series of mixed media markets, the first of which takes place this Saturday, September 14th, at the Gladstone Hotel.

We did a trial run back in the Spring and we’re hoping that we can create a regular place for small-scale artisans, in a variety of mediums, to sell their work to the public.

Besides running the thing, I will also be selling my book Kitchen Party. In fact, it will be available at the door, and if you buy a copy for $15, you’ll get in for free. (And don’t worry, I’ll still donate $2 of that total to our partner charity, the Annex Cat Rescue.)

We’ll have over 50 great vendors selling everything from fine art to comics, clothing to housewares, so please come out and show your support for local artisans.

As an added incentive, admission is free before 11am, and the first 100 paying customers will receive a 2-for-1 pass for our October market.

So please come out and join us. It’s supposed to be a lovely day – cool but sunny –  perfect for a stroll along Queen Street West. Hope to see you there.

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – Tuesday, September 10th

la-scala

This giant piece of artwork is made up of thousands of potted flowers and plants arranged on an massive staircase in Sicily. Photo by Andrea Annaloro, via [Twisted Sifter]

I’ve posted this to Twitter already, but it’s worthy of many repeats. WalMart workers in North Carolina stage an in-store flash mob. Fantastic. [Dangerous Minds]

That RuPaul, always coming up with some creative and fun idea to express himself. Like an internet series called RuPaul Drives where he drives around with various famous people, in this case, Henry Rollins. [Rocker]

New York Times food critics share their horror stories, and disguises. [Work Fails and Job LOLs]

And finally, two different takes on the world in miniature; the first a guy who makes dollhouse scale models of New York City; the second, miniature clay artworks on the outside of Altoid tins. [Messy Ness Chic] [Twister Sifter]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – August 29th, 2013

I can’t help it, I continue to be enthralled by Quentin Crisp.

Think about this the next time you chow down on calamari – the octopus (and other cephalopods) may have brains in its tentacles. (Border Collies of the sea, people, smarter than you realize!) [Scientific American]

“To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.” The amazing Zen Pencils channels Bill Watterson.

ferris-wheel-long-exposure-6

Long exposure shots of ferris wheels. This one by Thomas Hawke, more on Twister Sifter. (Torontonians, there’s a shot of the CNE wheel in there too!)

It’s funny because it’s true – why is it that tourists love fudge so very much? [Gawker]

Three cheers for the tasty (and healthy) gin and tonic. Huzzah! [Slate]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – Monday, August 27, 2013

abandoned-house-in-finland-overtaken-by-animals-kai-fagerstrom-7

This brings new meaning to the phrase “Animal House.” Photograph by Kai Fagerström [Twister Sifter]

The above house is in Finland, but it could play stand-in in the movie version of Al Jourgensen’s war with raccoons. [Slicing Up Eyeballs]

There was a time where I’d be all ranty about bloggers taking freebies, screeching about “ethics” and “selling your soul” and such. Now I just sigh sadly and move on to the next news story. (But I will emit an evil chortle if it comes out that this guy living on free stuff does actually run out of toilet paper.) [Toronto Star]

The ocean is awesome. [Discover Magazine]

Because who doesn’t need a cardboard cut-out of David Hasselhoff? [Gawker]

3D printers are crazy cool, but sometimes, things go awry. [Flickr]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – August 19th, 2013

picturenecklace

Picture of the day – many pictures. I have no idea where this comes from (I found in on a Tumblr, uncredited) but damn, I want one.

I admit it, while I am adamantly child-free, I am a sucker for a well-dressed little kid, and have been known to contribute stylin’ outfits to my wee niece’s wardrobe.(But what does it mean when toddlers dress like adults and grown men go about in shorts and sweat socks and ball hats?) Also –  what’s with the aviator glasses? Are those back in for adults, too? Ick. [Buzzfeed]

Speaking of kids – not all of them are special snowflakes, and it might be a good thing to let them know that. [The Atlantic]

Bands you should know more about, but probably don’t – Shonen Knife. Really, you need to listen to some Shonen Knife, right now, I know you do. [Dangerous Minds]

Listen up hipsters – the hot new food trend is… roadkill. So get on out there with your fixed-gear bicycle and run yourself down some squirrel or pigeon. [Gawker]

The recent interest in Vivian Maier has provoked stories of other street photographers to emerge. Like these great shots by Bob Mazzer of people on the London tube during the 70s and 80s. [Telegraph]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – Thursday, August 15th

rose-made-of-galaxies

I’m not much for Star Trek and all that stuff, but when space gets its galaxies together to make roses, that’s something pretty awesome. [Twisted Sifter]

Y’all know that the thing about carrots improving your eyesight was a lie to trick the Nazis, right? [Gizmodo]

Turns out it’s maybe not such a great idea to bury 6000 bodies under the huge stone floor of an abbey because those bodies eventually decompose and shift and such. So workers are disinterring piles of bones to rebuild the floor before the whole thing collapses. Of course, instead of reburying those bones, it would be even cooler to just decorate the place with them. [BBC News]

olinguito

The discovery of a new mammal is a rare and wondrous thing, and it really doesn’t hurt if the little bugger is adorable. Meet the Olinguito. [Huffington Post]

Speaking of cool animals, when visiting a zoo, expect to get what you pay for. If the admission is cheap and the “lion” looks remarkably like a dog, then it probably is. Never mind that you can probably buy a real lion for much cheaper than the average Tibetan Mastiff. [Gawker]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – August 14, 2013

kanako

Messy Nessy interviews Parisian artist Kanako. [Messy Nessy Chic]

I love, love, love this essay aimed at young oddballs, and wish someone had written it 30 years ago, when I was one. [NPR]

Speaking of awesome things I wish were around when I was a kid – Makies, the world’s first 3D printed dolls, are now for sale. And they’re named after famous scientists/computer programmers (including Hopper, for Grace Hopper who was the “creator” of the term computer bug after finding a moth in a mainframe.) [BoingBoing]

Free Rebekah! The raccoon made famous for dancing with a “hillbilly” has been seized by authorities! [Gawker]

40 totally cool world maps, Plus one even cooler map made with a spirograph. [Twisted Sifter] [BoingBoing]

Bookmark and Share

Read More

Lucky Dip – Back Again

feelinglucky

Wait, what? Yeah. Only different from the old Lucky Dip column. Instead of links to food stories, I’m going to be doing a daily collection of stuff I think is cool, from articles and blog posts to images and videos. I don’t know why or how long it will last, but I want a more permanent record of the things that I’ve come across and liked than just retweeting stuff on Twitter, never to be able to find it again. (Okay, so it’s really like a Tumblr without joining Tumblr.)

It may not happen every day. At times, it may not happen every week. And I’m getting back to writing stuff for me, as opposed to keeping an audience happy, so this will be a collection of stuff that I dig and if readers enjoy it too, well that’s great and if not, tough cookies.

Or tough candy.

Bookmark and Share

Read More