Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s day is fast approaching and if your April has been anything like mine, you haven’t had a whole lot of time to prepare.  There’s always the fall-back bubble bath and flowers, but if you’ve got a cool mom who deserves something special, I’ve put together a few ideas that I curated with my own mom in mind.  These items are (almost) all available in Toronto or if not, can be ordered fairly expediently online.

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Clockwise(ish) from top right: Hashish candle by Jonathan Adler; a hilarious mostly-true memoir by Jenny Lawson; a quirky card to piss off your siblings via Etsy (other great cards available at Red Pegasus on College st. in Toronto); a southwestern style yoga mat by Magic Carpet; Ikea MALM occasional table for impromptu breakfasts in bed; pretty floral pajamas by J Crew; a customizable name necklace by Toronto based Citrus Silver; an alpaca blanket by Cambie (previously obsessed over here); colourful lightweight scarves from Chapters; a cheeky throw pillow by Alexandra Ferguson; Mother’s Little Helper tea from David’s Tea; recycled wine bottle scented candles (I adore the Cab Sauv).

I’m expecting to get a phone call this afternoon from my own mother asking which of these I’ve purchased for her and yelling at me for telling all of you that I immediately thought of her when I discovered Jonathan Adler’s hashish candle several months back.  LOVE YOU MOM!!!

Current Obsessions

Although I will  readily adopt a trend when it fits well with my general style and aesthetic, I tend to think of myself more as a creature of habit, at least when it comes to the basics.  Despite a closet full of clothes, my day to day uniform doesn’t vary much (skinnies, my falling apart riding boots, and some combination of stripes/chambray with a scarf/cardi); I keep my linens white; paint walls grey; and believe in mustard accents in every room of the house.  This relatively simple palate facilitates my love of re-decorating and accessorizing and I’ve currently found myself obsessing over certain accents that I am itching to incorporate into my home/wardrobe.

Marquee lights – Perhaps it’s a (relatively) new found love of vintage, the year-round Junction Flea, or some unknown and repressed memories of the circus, but I have been obsessing over marquee lights for sometime now.  This obsession has me coveting a lofty space filled with exposed brick walls to properly showcase these pieces, but since a move isn’t in the cards any time soon, I have plenty of time to keep searching for the perfect piece.  If my obsession is contagious, check out Etsy for both vintage and reproduction marquee signs or make yourself a custom piece with these DIY instructions from the folks over at Oh Happy Day.

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Polka dots 
– To be honest, I didn’t think that polka dots were a current obsession so much as a life-long love, but the very first thing out of my boyfriend’s mouth when I asked about my current obsessions was “polka dots.”  I inquired as to whether I wasn’t always a fan of dots, but was informed that I’ve been particularly obsessed as of late.  A quick glimpse into my closet revealed about  a dozen dotted items, from jeans, through blouses and skirts, and I know a further look would reveal a polka dot weekend bag, multiple pairs of tights, and a scarf or two, not to mention the blanket I’m curled up in right now.  I will forever love Kate Spade and Marimekko for their shared love of dots and would likely have a kitchen filled with dotted dishes if not for the restraint exercised by the man of the house.

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Clockwise (sort of) from top left: Alice & Olivia top, Ikea bedding, Marimekko pants, Kate Spade Dress, Marimekko for Converse hightops, Hue tights, Toms shoe, Kate Spade watch, Marimekko coat, Kate Spade dishes and Marimekko pillow.

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Spotlight On: Little Italy

When I moved into Little Italy this past winter, I had no idea that this neighbourhood would turn out to be such a gem.  Commonly known for its old Italian joints, martini bars and bad clubs, Little Italy has undergone some major changes in the past few years.   In addition to its central location between Ossington, Trintiy Bellwoods, Bloor and Kensington market, Little Italy now boasts its fair share of cool shops, hip hang outs and great eats.  Here are a few suggestions for a day out on College West.

Start with breakfast at Easy Restaurant at the end of Montrose street (the little sister to the original Parkdale location).  With decor inspired by Easy Rider and 70s Americana, this place has a breezy (in part due to its garage door facade which opens onto a small patio in the summer), laid back vibe and awesome food.  Serving all day breakfast as well as cocktails, lunch and dinner, my pick for brunch is the huevos divorciados (the house specialty, with two eggs on soft white corn tortillas with refried beans, guacamole, salsa and a spicy-sweet ancho jam) or the west coast toast (eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, dill and black caviar).  Last time I was there our server was kind enough to top off our coffees in to go cups.  Grab yours and continue west on College.

Next up, shopping!

For things things you want and don’t need, check out Red Pegasus.   There you’ll find clever and well designed greeting cards that function as well for art as they do for well wishing, kitschy and cool home decor items, locally designed and sourced jewellery, and a cute collection of gifts for little ones.

For hip men’s clothing and colourful scooters, Motoretta can’t be beat in this neighbourhood.  I’m dying for a mustard yellow scooter, but on my last visit settled for some cool new duds for the boyfriend.

The Arthur is a favourite for most of my household – a small well curated shop of vintage finds and cool local crafts, we’ve picked up antique trunks, a mad men era watch and several art cards on recent visits.

Finally, Soundscapes is Little Italy’s record and concert ticket mecca.  Check out their website for upcoming shows and be sure to hit the bank on your way – like Rotate This, Soundscapes is cash only for all tickets.

By now, it’s probably been adequate time since brunch to get your day drink on.  For afternoon and early evening cocktails I’m partial to the secluded back patio at Fuel House (hidden slightly north of College on Clinton) or the homey atmosphere at No One Writes the Colonel (460 College).  If you’re getting hungry, pop across the street and put your name on the list for La Carnita.  No matter what day of the week, if you’re there after 6pm, you’ll be waiting.  But do it – it’s so very worth it.  Order whatever special the chef has cooking that day (the corn fritters are amazing) and make sure your taco selection includes “In Cod We Trust.”

If Little Italy has you craving Italian instead, Hey Meatball (at the end of Montrose) has the best spaghetti and meatballs I’ve ever had.  A super casual spot, Hey Meatball offers 6ish daily specials which always include a vegetarian option.  There are plenty of tables to eat in, or have your pasta packed up and head to the park.

If it’s a low key kind of evening, catch a flick at the Royal.  The historic movie house has been around since 1939 and typically hosts indie/art house style films and documentaries.  Sarah Polley’s Take this Waltz and the the Bob Marly documentary were both playing at the time of this post.

If you’ve still got some energy and it’s the drink you’re after, continue the crawl along College.  I recommend stops at Ted’s Collision (a delightfully gritty pub) for a pint and Souz Dal (a dark, romantic spot you’d never notice if you weren’t looking for it) for cocktails.  If you’re feeling brave, knock on the door at the members only speakeasy style lounge Toronto Temperance Society and see if they’ll let you upstairs sans membership.

Wherever the night takes you, if you’ve still got room at the end of it, Steamies makes a damn good hot dog.  If ice cream is more your speed, Steamies is located behind the Big Chill (at Manning).  Best of both worlds if you ask me.

Other honourable mentions include Hogtown Pub and Oysters for upscale pub food, Sneaky Dees for the world’s best nachos and rock and roll dance parties, and while admittedly off of College, Sam James on Harbord makes a delightful cup of coffee.