Saturday, July 16, 2011



Has anyone seen Oddities on the Discovery Channel? I just discovered it last week, and I'm already hooked. It's very Me - a fact that my loved ones will not dispute, given the number of skulls I've collected. The show is kind of like American/Canadian Pickers meets the Addams Family. The program follows off-beat, slightly morbid collectors/business partners Evan and Mike who run a shop in the East Village called Obscura, that's filled with antique curiosities. I like the Victorian objects mainly. There are some truly weird things in that shop that I wouldn't want in my home: taxidermied two-headed calves, mummified cats, enlarged human gallstones. Hey, if you've got to buy a wedding gift for a surgeon, you just might find that special something. It's a very cool store and I love the way it's run with all the care of a museum.

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Evan (centre) with Mike (left) and cool-looking assistant, whose name I've forgotten. I think it's Ryan. Mike looks like a man cave Monday Night Football kind of dude, but he's actually pretty freaky in his interests.

I do like Evan and Mike. They've got a bumbling sidekick who occasionally helps out in the store. It almost seems like the producers added him to the mix to create a little comedy. They've also got a rather dashing assistant who looks like a younger, better looking Nick Cave.

Check out the show and see for yourself.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of posts. I've honestly been looking, but there have been zero garage sales in my neighbourhood and NOTHING going on in my thrift store hangouts. I'm going to have to go further afield this week.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Viva Mexico!

On a day like this, I love Toronto. We explored the Corazón de México festival down at Harbourfront Centre today. It was fantastic. Mexican culture is so amazing to me: the warmth of the people, the passionate music, the dancing, the colourful clothes, the humour. What's not to love?

We viewed, tasted, and listened to so many fantastic things today. There were folk dancers and singers, puppet shows for kids...
Here, Duncan checks out our first ever tamale. He also contemplates our yummy beef burrito that could choke a horse.
Toronto doesn't have a large Mexican population the way a city like Chicago does. Slowly, more Mexicans are coming. If the Minister of Immigration is reading my blog - let more Mexicans into Canada!!! They can only make the country a better place!
Duncan works on a mask.

Incredible paper maché Dia de los Muertos figures celebrating the harvest season. These were hand made in Mexico. Awesome.
We also watched a cooking demonstration by cool chef Francisco Alejandri, who hails from Mexico, but now lives in Toronto and runs the restaurant Agave y Aguacate in Toronto's Kensington Market.

Photo courtesy Eye Weekly

Do you want his recipe for Tinga de Pollo and a drink made of lime and chia water? Read on. You can play Los Lobos for mood music while you read or copy down.

Kisses and cha cha cha

Tinga de Pollo


6 ounces chorizo, about 3 links
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups of finely chopped cabbage
4 plum tomatoes, finely chopped to make 1 cup
3 canned chipotle chiles to taste
2 tablespoons sauce from the can of chiles
2 cups poached and shredded chicken
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 avocado sliced
salt to taste
1 red onion cut in half, reserve one half for a different use
juice of two limes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions for chicken

Remove the thin casing from the chorizos and break them apart into a large skillet using a wooden spoon.

Cook over low heat to render out the fat, being careful not to brown the chorizo. Strain off all the fat, reserving three tablespoons.

Add the onions, garlic, and cabbage and fry over fairly low heat, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon occasionally, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the tomatoes, chipotles, and chipotle sauce and continue cooking over medium heat until most of the juice has been absorbed and the mixture is almost dry.

Stir in the shredded chicken and broth and cook for another 5 minutes or until the mixture is moist but not juicy. Adjust the salt.

Lime and Chia Water

The juice of 6 limes
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 quart of water

Combine everything, serve cold, and enjoy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Rich Internal Life

At the end of each school year, we're given an agenda. Everyone flocks down on them, eagerly placing them in their trusty agenda holders. Everyone loves them except for me. I don't use agendas. It's never come naturally to me to write down upcoming events. My mother and sister are supreme list makers. I've tried to do the same, but after a week or so, I fall out of the routine. I do write down random boring dates on a wall calendar to remind me when to go to the dentist, etc., but that's about it. The rest is committed to memory. I figure if I've survived this long without being a slave to an agenda, I'm doing alright.
What I do keep are dozens of notebooks that serve as scrapbooks that I use for bits and pieces of things I come across that strike my fancy. Occasionally work stuff makes it in. I find it comforting carrying around notebooks of treasures. The faux alligator skin notebook you see above is one of my favourites. When I was studying literature at university, a professor commented that Anne in Jane Austen's Persuasion had a "rich internal life." In other words, she had a vivid imagination. I'm like that. Here's a peep into one of my notebooks.
The inside cover has a pile of bird stickers. I'm mad about birds right now. I also traced a tree and cut out the "Ad free blog" owl and stuck it on a branch. Duncan made those marker pictures at Edwards Gardens one day when we got stuck in the botanical library when it was raining. There's also the cover of a Fever Ray CD.
"How to knit hand warmers." I never did make these. At least I've got the instructions.
Anne Sexton's "All My Pretty Ones," with a butterfly sticker.
A postcard of Varley's painting "Liberation." I've always loved this painting. The colours are so magical. Also, more images of the singer from Fever Ray as well as handwritten lyrics from their song "When I Grow Up."
Seamus Heaney poem with Fever Ray singer.
Heaney with a vintage mini postcard from Spain.
Baltimore oriole with the singer from Rockettothesky.
A quote from William Lyon Mackenzie - the firebrand first mayor of Toronto, who started a rebellion. We should be so lucky to have a mayor like him today. His house is a museum that you can visit. We went there recently.
Notes reminding me of bands I liked while listening to the CBC Signal podcast. Elfin Saddle anyone?
Here's some literacy planning for next year. I'll jazz it up somehow so that when I glance at it in a staff meeting, I'll feel a cozy sense of wonder.
A couple of pictures cut from a brochure after a recent visit to Hamilton's Dundurn Castle. You must go if you're ever in the Steel City.

Goths on a Carousel

A couple of weekends ago I took my son to Centreville on Centre Island in Toronto. We had lot's of fun, but one of the highlights happened when the carousel he was riding was taken over by Goths. Ah the memories.
I stealthily snapped my camera, pretending to take pictures of Duncan. Shh! So excellent.
Minus the cape, this looks a bit like my first boyfriend, Dave. Ah, the memories!
The guy in front of Stripey Tights sat backwards on the carousel. I don't think I would have been so daring when I was a teenager. "We'll get kicked off the ride!"
I'm not quite sure what the look is here. Knights Templar? Still, you've got to admire someone for wearing something akin to Masonic ceremonial garb in the heat of summer.

Yet another surreal moment.

About Me

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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.