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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Allan Gardens ~ A Touch of Spring in Winter

 Allan Gardens is one of Toronto's oldest parks ~ the conservatory built in 1910, and houses an amazing permanent collection of exotic plants which are supplemented with colourful seasonal flowers and flower shows. Spanning six greenhouses, approximately covering 16, 000 square feet.

This past weekend though the sun was shining there was a steady flow of visitors, taking in all the splendor. There are benches placed throughout - so you can rest or sit and take in all the beauty around you.

Along with the beautiful oasis in the city the park also offers ...
Lots of park benches to sit and enjoy the day ...  
A doggie park with separate off leash areas for large and small furbabies... 
A fenced playground for children with lots of slides, and playground equipment...
The doors to the conservatory beckon you in...
The glass ceiling is breath taking ... 
 From the moment you step through the doors it's like entering into spring ...
 the greenery and pathways from greenhouse to greenhouse pull you in.
 Pops of colour are everywhere ,,,

There's even some turtles to delight the young and those not so young... 

If you love orchids as much as I do, you will be in absolute orchid heaven!!

Allan Gardens is located at 19 Horticultural Avenue, (south side of Carlton Street, between: Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets). Easily accessible by TTC. Open year round 10 am - 5 pm , admission is free and wheel chair accessible. 

Some dates to make note of, from the Allan Gardens Conservatory website:

The 2017 Spring Flower Show will begin March 1, and run until May 14. The spring show culminates with the Easter flower show.

Easter Masses of various hydrangeas, Easter lilies and bulbs are in full bloom beginning Palm Sunday. The show runs for 3-4 weeks, ending after Easter.
The 2017 Easter Show will begin April 14.


The Summer Show features many of the newest varieties of annual flowers including coleus, geraniums, caladiums, cannas and impatiens. The show runs from June-September.
Discover the beauty of autumn in the City! The Fall Chrysanthemum Exhibition is featured from Early October to mid November. Hundreds of colourful pot mums, cascades, standards and baskets flourish in the conservatory.

Christmas Flower Show

The Christmas Flower Show is the highlight of the year. The entire conservatory is decorated and filled with thousands of flowering plants and more than 30 varieties of poinsettia. In addition, the conservatory features several topiary masterpieces inspired by the holiday season and created entirely of plant material.
Grand openings are held in December and visitors are treated to horse and wagon rides, carolers, hot apple cider and a visit from Santa.
Grand opening dates are as follows:
  • Allan Gardens Conservatory: 1st Sunday of December
The conservatory can also be enjoyed by candlelight on several weekends. The show runs until mid January. Please view the Parks, Forestry and Recreation calendar for more details.
Mark your Day Planners (I know I have) ... you will not want to to miss these flower shows!!

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Using Public Transit : Commuter Essentials - Basics

Last year I shared about my decision to embrace "city living" and that included learning and taking TTC on the regular (you can read it here). Since my first experience during a snow storm in late 2014 and sporadic outings in 2015 (as I was still only spending a few days here and there in the city), and while 2016 got off to great start with purchasing an actual monthly pass the enthusiasm started to fizzle as I started to question if I could really return to the city- so much had changed since I last called it home ten years ago.

Fast forward to autumn 2016, I finally made the decision, I am ready to leave the green acre life and return to the city. With this firm decision, my intention to embrace "city living" once again included TTC. For the past couple of months I have been getting out and exploring the city using TTC - as I plan my return - to discover different areas of Toronto, lots has changed in ten years. I have also discovered my outings go much smoother when I have certain essentials. 

Below are my basic essentials for going from point A-B...

1. Shoe Bag: 
For storing your heels or on route footwear to your destination and a place to store your flat transit footwear when you arrive. I have found that adding a plastic bag inside is especially essential on wet days.

2. Water Bottle: 
Having a water bottle at your disposal is a great reminder to stay hydrated. If you drink a bottle to and from that's like 2-4 glasses in your day.

3. Scarf: 
Keeping a scarf in your bag is essential year round ... while you are dressed for sweltering outdoor temps the A/C can really be cold in some subway cars. They can also be used as a barrier between you and the seat when you are wearing light coloured clothing. 

4. Smile:
People will shove, be rude and inconsiderate - smile and carry on. Don't let their issues become yours. Be thankful you aren't a miserable person.

5. Kleenex:
Because you just never know when you might need one. There is nothing worse then getting a running nose and having to sniffle through it. Or listening to someone else sniffling away.

6. Ear Buds:
Perfect for tuning out the world around you, especially people who think public transit is the appropriate time to have a full on conversation (loud) on their phones. It's also a good way to enjoy some soothing music while in transit.

7. Pass Holder:
Avoid the stress of having to find that small, thin pass in your bag. The pass holder enables you to easily locate your pass.

8. Hand Sanitizer:
This is the next best thing to washing your hands, you would be amazed at the germs and bacteria that linger on the rails, poles and what not... after all thousand of people are using the transit each day.

9. Flat Shoes:
Whether you have a ways to walk before reaching a subway station or other stops - life is just that much easier when you are sturdy on your feet. If you have been in heels or wedges all day - having a pair of flats to switch into will be bliss. And if you opt to wear your heels to and fro know that the heel can get stuck on the escalator - and if your heel breaks having a pair of shoes on hand to slip into makes life easier. I saw a gal once have to hobble away - because her heel broke. 

10. Cross Body Pouch:
Having hands free makes things so much easier.. a cross body pouch is perfect. And when you find your hands full with bags - you don't have to worry that your hand bag is slipping off your shoulder.

11. Tote:
A tote is a great option - on days you have a little more to carry around (like a change of footwear) or picking up a couple of grocery items on the way home.

Whether you are taking the subway, bus or street car, the thing to remember is that when you take transit you should be prepared for the unexpected - so pack accordingly. 

I'll be sharing my essentials for raining days, hot days, and exploring the city days in a future post.

 What are your tips for making public transit travel easier?

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jam Tasting, Scones & a Cup of Tea - Kitten and The Bear

One of the great things about being in the city is that no matter the weather, you can still get around without driving by making use of the TTC system. On this damp, cold and drizzly day I made my way to this quaint little gem on Queen West. 
Kitten and The Bear (don't you just love the name!) may be a petite space offering seating for possibly 5-6 guests at a time, but it is HUGE in warmth and welcoming vibes. From the lovely floral arrangements to the shabby chic decor, you quickly forget the dismal weather outside.

Along with the signature jam, the gifting items include a potpourri of teas, soaps, tea ware, honey and a darling pin set. 
 To compliment the jam tasting a fine selection of  Sloane teas to choose from.
If coffee is your preference ...  V 60 is a unique style of coffee (to me - I had not heard of it before)

The freshly baked in house buttermilk scones are the perfect vessel for 
tasting all the wonderful jams. The scrumptious scones can be order to go. 
Kitten and The Bear is one of only a handful of preserve companies in the world that still makes confiture (the French term for “jam”) using hand-hammered copper “confiture pans” imported from France. The artisan jams, jellies and marmalades are made completely by hand in small, limited batches at the shop in Parkdale.

 A jam tasting is a wonderful experience to do on your own, an outing with friends or a date with your sweetheart.
I choose the Jasmine Pink Lemonade tea ...and my friend Shirley choose the Oolong Cream tea... 
All the jams in our tasting were beyond delicious ... 
and my favourite was the Banana Bourbon and Vanilla bean - 
I may have not been able to resist buying a jar for home.

The Kitten & The Bear is located at 1574 Queen Street West, easily accessible by the 501 Queen Street trolley which stops steps from the shop. The shop is small and reservations are not taken, though you can be placed on a wait list - and when one of the two sitting areas becomes available.you will receive a message your table is available. There are many little shops along this stretch of Queen West to explore as you wait for your table. A side note: there is no washroom on sight ( I was told this is common with the little shops - but the Deli literally a few steps away is accommodating to the Kitten & The Bear guests.) 

Whether you sit in to enjoy the tea and jam service or get your scones and jam to go, this is definitely a gem in the city that you should give a try. To learn more about the Kitten & The Bear visit the website HERE.

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