The Home List

Clothes pile
The pile method | Photo Door Belle blog

Reading blogger Beth’s post, Notes on Phone, reminded me just how much at I use my phone to capture everyday thoughts, work meetings and snapshots of moments.

It also reminded me that several weeks ago, I made a list in my Evernote app, of all the projects (and purchases) I wanted to complete during my 2-week winter/holiday break, starting in 5 more business days.

While I do plan to squeeze in plenty of naps, I always use this extra time off for home-based projects. Mostly organizational.

I’ve been inspired lately by bloggers who write about minimalism. Whether it’s pairing down your wardrobe ( or meeting personal finance goals (Blonde on a Budget), I am working towards living with less. In the past year, I’ve reduced the furniture in our bedroom to only a bed and dresser, made three rounds of household and clothing donations to the Diabetes Clothes Line, and I’ll try to make more trades on Bunz this break, too.

While I pride myself on a clean and tidy home, sometimes it just doesn’t get done and everything gets dropped on the dining room table, and my wardrobe resembles the “pile method” some weeks.

So. Here’s my Evernote list to remind myself what I need to get through this winter break.

  • Sort photos into one (teal) storage box
  • Photo albums?
  • Buy hardshell case & folders for paperwork
  • Organize paperwork
  • Sort jewelry
  • Spice shelf
  • Pantry; mason jars
  • Re-org drawers
  • Re-org books
  • Clean cupboard doors; add felt stoppers
  • Felt stoppers to dining room chairs; vinyl kit?
  • Chalk paint small island
  • Chalk paint bed frame?
  • Oil treat dining room table
  • Drapes and curtain rods for living room
  • Fix chair; new cushions
  • Frame art (2) — We have two modern works from a friend/artist we need to frame and hang. 
  • Frame bike print — We bought a bicycle print at the Junction flea two years ago, but its remained in my closet since!
  • Marimekko shower curtain
  • Marimekko twin sets (2)
  • IKEA comforters
  • Marimekko towels (2)

I think the framing and purchases will remain last on my list as it’s not a priority right now with gift-giving time, but nice to dream of.

Do you have any home organization goals?

Iryna: Buffer


Buffer salon photos by Door Belle blog

This anecdote has been used by a friend to describe Iryna’s quick skills in esthetics:

Ten minutes to wait before the next 63 bus?

That’s enough time to step-in to Buffer, get waxed, pay, tip, and still catch your bus on time.

Buffer’s Instagram account (@buffersalon) even boasts “fastest Brazilian wax in TO by Iryna”.

And while it may not be as fast as described above, Iryna’s ability to put you at ease and get the job done quickly when you’re (err) most exposed, is the reason why locals and long-time clients love Buffer Nails & Waxing (123 Ossington Ave).

While having a Buff & Go mani, I asked Iryna a few questions about Buffer and why it’s great to be waxing on Ossington:

Iryna ready to celebrate her birthday. Photo courtesy of @buffersalon Instagram

How long have you been an esthetician in Toronto? 
Since 2003. For ten years prior to opening Buffer. Now we’ve been in business just over three years.

What inspired you to open your own business?
I like a challenge. I like helping others get a job. Love money. And the industry is awesome. You meet people every day. Now, you’re just being your own boss, and no one else is watching over you. You’re doing the same type of work you’ve done before, as you’re doing for someone, but you’re doing it for yourself. It’s just my job. It’s going to work. And I love what I do. I’m just an esthetician who’s enjoying what she does.

Would you say your Brazilian wax is your most popular service? 
For me? Yes. But for our salon, nails and waxing both, evenly. People have different demands. There’s a buyer for every product. But every esthetician is better or worse at something. I guess for me I’m better at waxing than nails, and the other girls may be better at nails than waxing. What they feel more comfortable with, what they actually have fun doing. I don’t mind… I love it.

You definitely have fun waxing.
Yeah, why not? You get little intimate with people; people can actually open up to you, and talk to you. It’s in a private room — not just that their parts are open — it’s in a private room where they can expose themselves, their problems, their happiness, the whole thing.


Why did you call the business “Buffer”?
I thought about different names… I always wanted it green. Because green is a happy colour and gender neutral. If you make it pink, it’s too girly. If it’s too dark, it’s not as happy or clean-looking. Green is fresh, like a green apple. A lot of people want to blend in the neighbourhood style. We have a small unit, I think, so I wanted to stand-out.

I thought of using my name, as a lot of people know me by my name and there’s not a lot of ‘Iryna’ estheticians in the city, but “Iryna’s Nails”? That wouldn’t cut it for Ossington. We had to do something catchy, short, easy to remember. We use buffers for nails, pedi, and for waxing we suggest buff, to exfoliate.

Buffing is making is shiny, making it pretty, making it glossy, making it flawless…hairless…easy and comfortable.

What’s the best part about having a business on Ossington?
The best neighbourhood in the city, I think. The people are young, professional, cool, easy-going, everyone knows each other. It’s like being in a little town with very professional people around you, who have money to spend on themselves, but at the same time are not overdone or trying too hard.

Ossington is a street that has everything for their needs. If you want to have a tequila? There’s a tequila bar. If you want to have fish? There’s fish restaurants. If you want to have a quick and easy mani, pedi, wax, come in and get it done after work, and go have a drink with your friend. We kind of fit in with the neighbourhood.

How’s business?
Business is good. Life is good. Things are good. Every year we lose some clients who get married, move out of the neighbourhood, or leave the city for work, but there are more people coming in. It’s always good to have new clients, and it’s bad to lose the old ones. We love them. We get attached to them. We see them on a monthly basis and develop a relationship with them.

Buffer offers a 30-minute Dermalogica “mini facial” for $30

Buffer has a great special on until December 31, 2105: Buy $100 gift certificate and receive one free service of either a Buff & Go shellac mani; a Buff & Go pedicure; a mini facial; or yes, even a free Brazilian wax…

And more services are coming to Buffer in 2016: Eyelash extensions and eyebrow embroidery, a microblading technique and application of semi-permanent dye, for fuller-looking eyebrows. Buffer will be one of the few salons in Toronto to offer this service service.

Be social with Buffer 
Visit their Facebook page or follow Iryna on Instagram and Twitter @buffersalon

Colour, on a cloudy day

I’m not a runner but I love the movement in this piece.

While not as widely cited as Queen Street’s Graffiti Alley, there’s a colourful strip of of artwork running parallel to Ossington from Queen to Humbert Street.

After taking these snaps with my LG3 phone, I later looked to see what references there were to it, and learned this artwork was part of a project to clean-up the laneway in 2012. From the looks of it, it’s been well preserved, since most have been spared from other tagging.

All photos by Door Bell blog.

Unfortunately this one has been tagged, but I loved the modern look and pop-art colours.
We made wine here twice… A batch yields about 30 bottles at $3 per bottle. I think this mural is a great way to mark a business for deliveries etc.
I love how the eyes appear in the screens above.

The black, white, and green “nesting dolls” are one of my favourites and there’s a larger example of them further north of Foxley Avenue (we even had some of our wedding photos taken against them as a backdrop).

I call these guys the “nesting dolls”. This larger example is north of Foxely Avenue, if you travel north from Foxely Place laneway, just west of Ossington.

The examples north of Foxely Avenue also span around the Ontario Bread Co. building, which is reportedly slated for for renovation and reuse by the arts non-profit Artscape… But will the beaver we often walk by, go? I hope not.

I feel inspired to do a graffiti tour of Toronto next summer and learn more about the artists behind these works. Have you been? Any tour suggestions?

Puttanesca vs. Puttanesca

Puttanesca is one of our favourite pastas to eat, despite the origins of its name.

Photo by Door Belle
Photo by Door Belle

Equally delicious is pizza done in a similar style, and we have two options in the Ossington area.

Pizzeria Libretto has a puttanesca-style pizza called the “Napoletana” though it’s a red pizza with no cheese. I learned from a helpful server, Dexter, who suggested adding buffalo mozzarella, and for the extra $3, it’s worth every bite.

Photo by Door Belle

North of Brooklyn (with a former Libretto connection), opened its third location in the Get Well (1181 Dundas Street W), right around the corner, within the past year. While the wait times for pick-up are unpredictable (it’s inside a bar, after all), it’s the original go-to putta pie, and large enough that you may have leftovers.

Here’s how they compare:

Pizza libretto
Libretto’s Napoletana with cheese added | Photo Instagram @doorbelleblog

Pizzeria Libretto
Location: 221 Ossington
Pizza: Napoletana
Toppings: Tomato, dried oregano, infornata olives, capers, anchovy, fried garlic, chili oil
Price: $14 + tax (add $3 to include buffalo mozzarella)
Taste? At first I was sad when Libretto stopped making its white anchovy pizza… but this is excellent and I would never go without adding the cheese, even though it ups the price. It’s a softer crust and VPN certified (Heritage Grade Pizza Napoletana); blessed (so-to-speak) by the Italian government and EU. One reason it’s not so big; it’s not meant to be. According to their website, it’s not allowed to exceed 35 cm in diameter.
Scale rating (1 = poor, 5 = perfect): 4.7
Atmosphere: The restaurant is always busy and you can expect line-ups at peak times. I find the take-out counter staff friendly and prompt, though sometimes I’ve been left on holding on the phone, way too long, only to have the same person pick-up again. If you like it spicy, always ask for extra chilli oil.
Hours? Open for lunch at 11:30 a.m., closing at 11 p.m.
Delivery? No. Call for take-out.

Left side: North of Brooklyn’s much larger Puttanesca. Simple, delicious pepperoni on the right. From my personal Instagram.

North of Brooklyn
11181 Dundas Street West (inside Get Well bar)
Pizza: Puttanesca
Toppings: Hand-crushed sauce, mozzarella, olives, scallions, capers, anchovies
Price: $22 + tax
Taste? This pizza has its own pizzaz. It’s got a thin crust, but is denser for a thin crust with crunch. It also reheats well and is a preferred choice when ordering for larger groups. Size matters. Sometimes our orders have come without a key ingredient, like the olives or onions, and we’ve not been told, so be sure to check in advance they have all the toppings at hand.
Scale rating (1 = poor, 5 = perfect): 4.5
Atmosphere: Expect a line-up outside and a packed house as the bar gets full late into the evening. I’ve usually breezed by the security staff, saying I’m just there to pick-up a pizza… Around the dinner hour, there’s a quieter scene. Typical 20-something “hipsters” sitting at the bar, playing video games, or lounging around in groups, on the sofas, right in front of the tiny take-out area.
Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily (so you know where to get your late-night snack as they also serve by the slice; though I’ve been told puttanesca is only available for take-out.
Delivery? Yes. Sunday to Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Have you tried either pizza? Which do you like best?


Nap time (or, one reason I don’t have kids)


A former house guest was not impressed with our “stay away from the pillows” rule. From my personal Instagram.

Disclaimer: If you have kids, like fellow blogger Deadbeat Mom, I caution you on reading further…

I love sleep. If my head hits the pillow at 11:30 p.m., I’m usually out within five minutes.

I suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia if I wake in the middle of the night, and let my mind wander with too many thoughts of past, present, and future.

I’ve even experienced a handful of episodes of sleep drunkenness, where I’ve walked across the room, turned the alarm off, and gone back to bed without recalling any of it (and wound up being late for work, or worse yet, completely missed my scheduled VIA train).

But even after a sound night’s sleep, chances are, it’s not enough for me. I still walk through most of the day feeling tired and would do much better if only Canada took up the tradition of the siesta. (Yes. I’ve had my health checked. I’ve also undergone a sleep study, where I stayed in a hotel-like room, had electrodes stuck to my scalp, and was observed for six hours, just to confirm that at then age 28, I didn’t have sleep apnea.)

A chiropractor once told me that I might be ‘one of those people’ that needs more than eight hours of rest per night But like most ‘busy’ people, I’m averaging less than that, less than 7.

So the weekends I make up for it. I try not to nap both days, but sometimes it just happens, especially if I know we have evening plans that will keep us out late.

I’ve mostly cut myself off from after-work napping, which, surprisingly, didn’t impact my normal sleep time, but usually left me groggy (and my husband would say, grumpy) in the hours in between.

So, with long history of weekend napping, here’s what makes an afternoon nap even better:

Sleep tight. From my personal Instagram.

Into darkness
Get black-out curtains, so whether it’s 1 p.m or 4 p.m. (prime nap range), sleep is imminent when the sun, or even cloud covered light, isn’t peaking through. I’ll sometimes add a sleep mask.

Don’t ring the alarm
I’ve found that no alarm is the best when arousing from nap-time, but requires enough time for a one to two-hour nap-span. I’m no expert, but if I set an alarm, it always awakens me, mid-cycle, and it takes me longer to get out of bed. Otherwise, power-naps of 30 minutes, in non-blackout space, like the living room sofa, will do.

One of the best gifts I ever received was a Philips sunrise alarm clock that I always use in winter. Sometimes too much darkness doesn’t help when it’s actually time to get out of bed.  And normally the sun clock will have you awake before the radio kicks on.

Stay hydrated
In the winter, especially, any home can feel dry with the heat turned on. Whether it’s a nap, or all-night sleep, a humidifier is great for keeping the airways hydrated and cutting down snoring (so I’m told).

Turn ON the ambient noise
If you live downtown like us, you can be distracted by the sounds of the street. The start of my nap is always a good time to run the wash, or dryer, just outside our bedroom, but even the hum of the humidifier or a fan, in the summer, will do.

Get comfortable
Whether it’s getting your pajamas on, seeking warmth, or staying cool outside the covers, make it worth your while.

Do you like to nap on the regular? If so, what are your tips to make rest time even better?

Note: I just inherited an unused FitBit Flex and have started tracking my (mostly) non-restless sleep. FitBit users; how do you use your sleep information?

Katie: Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese

Bobbie Sue's Mac and Cheese on Ossington Avenue in Toronto
Like a beacon in the night… Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese: A great Ossington take-out location. They also have seating in the lower level. | Photo by Door Belle blog

Brought to the street by the owners behind Poutini’s House of Poutine, (1112 Queen at Dovercourt) and Hawker Bar (164 Ossington), Katie is the manager and friendly face you’ll often see accepting orders at Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese (162 Ossington, #3).

From our first taste, we knew we’d (unfortunately) have to limit our visits as our waistlines would otherwise surge larger. But in a neighbourhood with (unfortunately) limited late night options, it’s absolutely a go-to and one we’ve treated out-of-town guests to, with rave reviews. (Door Belle’s pick: Curry-in-a-hurry, a lighter-tasting plate with tuna, green peas and mild curry sauce.)

Door Belle rang-up Katie to learn a little more about her, the business and its place on Ossington:

Katie of Bobbie Sue's Mac and Cheese
Kate: The manager at Bobbie Sue’s | Photo Instagram @doorbelleblog

What were you doing before opening Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese ?
I was actually practicing as a lawyer! While I have always helped with the family businesses, we made some ambitious plans for this year, and I decided it would be better to help out full-time.

What was the inspiration behind Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese? 
We love good comfort food and realized that it’s a dish that everyone loves, but that rarely gets the spotlight, at least in Toronto. A couple of places were doing only mac and cheese in New York, so we went and did our research!

Why did you choose Ossington for your location?
The space actually became available before the idea. We also own Hawker Bar next-door, so when Philip Sparks clothing shop moved-out we thought that a take-out place would do really well, given how busy Ossington is. There are a lot of restaurants, but not a lot of quick-service places, so we thought there was a niche that could be filled.

How did you come up with the name?
Bobbie Sue is a cow in the Ottawa Valley. We loved her name, adopted her as our mascot and thought she was a great emblem for the kind of dairy-focused mecca we wanted to create.

Bobbie Sue's Mac and Cheese take-out containers
Pick your size: L or S | Photo by Door Belle blog

What’s your favourite Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese you make? Why? 
It varies everyday! But one of my favourites is definitely the Camp Mac – featuring hot dogs and yellow mustard. I used to love hot dog “coins” in my KD as a kid, and then the yellow mustard in ours really kicked it up a notch. I find there’s something very nostalgic about mac and cheese, so with a lot of our menu we tried to make dishes that feel like home.

Aside from your own business, where on Ossington do you like to drink or eat?
Firstly, Hawker Bar (totally biased). But it’s my second home, as my friends work there, eat there and the food is among my favourites. I also love Union and spend many a Monday night there.

What’s the best part of working on Ossington?
It’s such a small community – we got to know the people who live here and work here within the first couple weeks of opening. It is great to have that feeling of closeness – it feels even better that we’ve created a product that has had quite a bunch of neighbourhood people coming back for seconds – and thirds!

How’s business?
Weekends are awesome for us, and we also have an after-school dinner rush which is AWESOME. Poutini’s was our first restaurant, so we were used to only serving food after 1 a.m. It’s great that mac and cheese is something that people like to eat during the day. On that note, we’ll be adding daytime hours and Mondays in the near future, as well as delivery!

Monday: closed; Tuesday-Friday: 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturday: noon-midnight; Sunday: noon to 11 p.m.

Bobbie Sue's mac and cheese menu
The full menu | Photo Instagram @doorbelleblog

Follow Bobbie Sue’s on Instagram & Twitter