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 (un-fancy.com) 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
Buy hardshell case & folders for paperwork
Pantry; mason jars
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!
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:
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.
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 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 Bufferin 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
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.
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).
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?
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.
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:
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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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!
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.
Toronto’s warm weather this November hasn’t yet invoked deep feelings of hibernation and fattening up. If anything, it’s encouraging us to get outside and be active.
But when the thermometer eventually drops (as it always does; please let there be no polar vortex this year) we swap our outdoor space and BBQ tongs for the comforts of our oak dining room table and a warm oven.
We entertain. A lot. And the fall/winter variety tend to be all-out efforts. Not always in price (I’m looking at you, Cumbrae’s lamb shanks), but require execution and care.
“The Sunday roast is a traditional British and Irish main meal that is traditionally served on Sunday, consisting of roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy.”
Now, if you were to ask my mother-in-law, who recently gawked at my husband’s suggestion she cook a Sunday roast during his recent visit to England, the tradition, is well, not so weekly anymore.
On this side, many pubs throughout Toronto, like The Caledonian (856 College Street at Ossington) or The Bristol & Bombay (1087 Queen West at Dovercourt) and its sister pub The Old Laurel (300 College Street at Spadina) offer up a plate of warm sliced beef on Sundays. (And still there’s the Queen & Beaver’s and The Oxley’s takes. Do you know of any others?)
But a Sunday roast is a Sunday event. And most inexpensively served at home. It’s not a meal for two, but a feast for a gathering. It’s comfort food at its best, so here’s how to make your Sunday roast even better:
Pre-clean your range
A summer of rarely cooked meals indoors means your oven has likely been ignored since the previous winter. Avoid stove-top fires and excessive smoke by giving your unit a good clean. Learn from our mistakes…
Look to Britain
If you’ve never cooked a beef roast before, my husband recommends Jamie Oliver. You can adapt from there as you gain cooking confidence (which I mostly lack, so this meal was entirely in my husband’s hands).
Don’t forget the Yorkshire Puddings. (A pancake muffin, served with meat and gravy? Yes, please.) But for this recipe, see Jamie’s rival, Gordon Ramsay, and try not to say f*ck in the process when you burn them.
Timing is everything
Don’t risk it. Buy a meat thermometer because you will need to “rest” the meat after its per pound cooking time. (Warm plates and hot gravy reheat the slightly cooled beef.) Everything else, the vegetables, and gravy (made from scratch after the roast comes out), must also be timed alongside the size of beef, which can be tricky unless you like keeping your dinner guests waiting. (And again, be careful not to spill half your batter and burn the Yorkshire puddings…)
Invite good company
Three friends and a guest pup completed our dinner party entourage for catching up and looking back at the summer that was. Also guests who would most appreciate the type of food we were about to serve them make the meal all more enjoyable as you know they will appreciate the time and effort. (Although we barely know any selective eaters.)
If you’re a guest, it’s appreciated if you offer your help, but don’t worry if it’s not accepted and the hostess and cook are happy to keep the kitchen clean and your wine glass full.
Watch your wine glass
Unfortunately, it’s Sunday when it’s Sunday roast. Which means most people have to work the next day. Watch your wine glass and if your host doesn’t open the bottle you brought, let it be thanks for the meal and no headache the following day. (Unfortunately we drank all three.)
Now, who’s hungry?
Two hilarious YouTube takes by Yes It’s Funny, on the two British chefs, below:
Earlier this year, during a dinner party, the door bell rang, and our friend disappeared momentarily to answer, returning to the kitchen with a can of beer in hand.
“Successful trade!” he declared.
Our friends began to explain that the haul of wine filling their bookshelf, and beer in the refrigerator, was mostly the result of a then-secret trading group on Facebook, known as Bunz.
Today, the group is not-so-secret after the Toronto Star reported on Bunz Trading Zone, earlier this month. Its Toronto membership has over 17,000 members (by the time this blog post goes live).
My friends had traded unused household items, clothes, and furniture, for, well, wine and beer.
A great idea.
The group was invitation-only, so a few days later, through their invitation, I was approved for membership. Suddenly my news feed started populating with the trades of other Facebook friends, “secret” Bunz members: ISO (In Search Of) puzzels for new puzzles; roommates; or tokens in exchange for leftover sushi.
A curious glimpse in to things that people no longer want.
And we all want booze and TTC tokens?
But even with the added security of knowing peolpe (who know people) on the Facebook group (unlike mainstream marketplaces like Kijiji or Craigslist, when you likely won’t know the person coming to your door), I felt a little awkward that my friend feed would see the old junk I was trying to part ways with.
So I held off.
And then I finally took my chance.
With the husband abroad, it was my time for extra fall cleaning. Due to part with a few things I’d held on to for too long.
SeeUn-Fancyfor an enviable take on minimalist wardrobes and life
The brown vintage traveling case I acquired around the age of 12, and used for the storage of acrylic paint supplies, had been left empty for several years, after all the paints had dried-out.
I like it. Do I use it? Do I need it? No. And I admit… It’s old. And kind of smells.
So the case went up on Bunz, late on a Friday night (on the day of the Toronto Star article) with an ISO request for a bottle of wine.
I was taken aback when the trader asked me what type of wine I would prefer, so I requested Blu Giovello Pinot Grigio. (This is my go-to pinot, and no longer available at the Dundas/Ossington LCBO, so you can imagine how happy this trade made me, when it was brought direct to my door.)
A plain black wool dress that had been collecting dust my closet for years… A token and a tall can.
A sequin dress from a Fake Prom I attended 9 years ago, that err, no longer fits… Finally gone, for two tokens.
My transit costs were covered for the week and we enjoyed the bottle of wine over dinner at home.
Some items had no takers, including a TV/VCR combo (from my undergradute days in residence) that I expect will end up in electronics recycling in a week or two. Other clothing and household items I donated to the Diabetes Clothesline, a free, home pick-up service, with the profits going back to the chairty.
Up next: I want to try the VarageSale app to sell some leather vintage goods, and see if I could collect some cash, before I retry Bunz (and restock my bar).
Wish me luck.
Which online marketplaces or services do you like best?
On Ossington Avenue, there are a lot of options for a lot of the same thing, be it a coffee, a burger, or a beer. But we all have our habits. And even with the same option available elsewhere, I often find myself going to the same places most of the time. So, I take this challenge of lining-up two of the same option as an opportunity to try something the same, but experiencing something new, in my own neighbourhood.
I was introduced to a “flat white” by a former Crafted barista, over a year ago. Equal parts espresso to diary (mine, always lactose free), is more flavourful than a latte, but richer (if you like adding dairy or non-dairy milk) than a cup of drip.
As I only started drinking coffee on the regular about three years ago (thanks, Crafted), I’ve weaned myself off adding sugar to lattes or flat whites, and prefer the bitterness than often comes through.
Much like a wine tasting, each type of bean has its own flavour profile (chocolate, nuts, etc.), but I don’t tend to think too much about this…do you? What counts in my books: does it taste like coffee? (And to think, I once only drank tea.)
Crafted (Pilot Coffee Roasters) Address: 135 Ossington Price: $3.50 Taste? Espresso certainly stands out. Not too bitter though. Scale rating (1 = poor, 5 = perfect): 4.5 Seating? Yes tables and chairs and a bench outside. Free Wi-Fi? Yes Atmosphere: Tables occupied by Macbook users. Line-ups and strollers, frequent. How early can you grab a coffee before catching the 63 bus? 7:30 AM How late? 6 PM
Sam James Coffee Bar
1000 Queen Street West (entrance around the corner on Ossington) Price: $3.25 Taste? Sweeter. More creamy. (I’ve had a stronger cup before from their original Habord Street location.) Scale rating (1 = poor, 5 = perfect): 3.5 Seating: Yes…though you won’t sit for long. A set of steps inside, where visitors can pause, and the shop and a bench outside. Free Wi-Fi? Err, I forgot to check, but plan to visit again and try another cup. A distinct lack of laptops in this space since there’s no tables to sit at for long periods. I’ll post an update in the comments. Atmosphere: High ceilings, stark white and black, standing room and Stussy (1000 Queen Street W) staff in blues and blacks. How early can you grab a coffee before catching the 63 bus?: 7 AM How late? 6 PM
Where do you like to pick-up a coffee on Ossington Avenue or elsewhere?