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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Time Warp

I'm a huge advocate of the revitalization of Hamilton's downtown core. James Street North's makeover is a huge credit to the people of Hamilton given the fact that this revitalization is a grass roots movement-- a domino effect primarily spear headed largely in part by Tim Potocic, owner of Sonic Unyon records with the creation of Art Crawl/Super Crawl (  An impossible feat for our ineffective city council who couldn't even run a garage sale, yet alone a revitalization project.  There has been a tremendous influx of new businesses in this area and others outside of our city are beginning to take notice.  My friend Audrey showed me an article in the latest issue of Chatelaine, which spotlighted James Street North as a "hot hood" and named it a "hipster hotspot" (The Art Gallery of Hamilton even created its own link to the article  Ok, so maybe the article itself was not researched well as two of the featured businesses mentioned are actually on Locke Street, but hey, Chatelaine is a national magazine, so people across the country are reading about downtown success story.

With that being said, I can't help looking excitedly forward to a bright future for this city without looking back.  I am still sentimental about downtown Hamilton's past.  I miss the glory of The Royal Connaught Hotel.  I miss the Pagoda Chop Suey house. I miss the Eaton's department store.  All of these businesses are just faded memories.

There is one Hamilton proprietor who has successfully kept his business going while maintaining a piece of Hamilton nostalgia. Jim Pappas use to frequent Martin's Bowling Alley throughout his childhood.  When the business went up for sale in the late 1980's Jim couldn't bear to see his beloved retro hang out become another ghost of Hamilton history, so he bought the business.   

Jim still owns Martin's and he hasn't changed much inside.  It is like stepping back in time. I'm surprised that the bowling alley isn't used in movie shoots. It is such a cool retro throw back, complete with vintage looking shoes, wooden bowling balls and cigarette machines (non-operational, but boy do they bring back memories!). You almost expect Don Draper to be bowling in the lane beside you. Whenever I am there I feel a bit like I am in an episode of Laverne & Shirley.  Sometimes my games are often distracted as I am searching out of the side of my eye for Carmine The Big Ragu.  Thank you Jim for preserving this piece of Hamilton history.

       Shameel! Shamazel! Hoffenpeper Incorporated!

The Fella with a strike

There are not many people who can get me out of my heels

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Mirror in the Bathroom

So happy to have another room checked off my list.

Although the powder room is the smallest room in the new abode, it was the room that was in the worst condition.  The walls had more lumps and bumps than Tara Reid’s botched boob job. The baseboard that runs along the wall under the sink was in two different pieces and not even adhered to the wall.  The pipes under the sink were covered in rust, the light was tossed into the sink and the utilitarian mirror housed a medicine cabinet more shallow than a Kardashian. 

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this room, but I wanted to tackle it before I did any other room because it was the room most worthy of a Cinderella story.  I was the fairy godmother who used items that I had on hand into a ball gown and carriage (OK, total exaggeration, but I did use mostly items that I already had).  So here’s a breakdown of the make over, challenge by challenge.

1.    Window Coverings: Although the windows are unattractive (but being replaced by July according to the management company!), the room is flooded with sunlight, so I didn’t want to cover them completely.  I faced two dilemma’s here – 1. I can’t sew… like, not at all… not even a button, and 2. Because of the window design, I needed a side mounting bracket, which is not the easiest thing to find I have since found out.  The curtains that I bought for the bedroom window required three panels.  Since these curtains are sold in sets of two at IKEA, I had a spare panel left over.  I trimmed the panel to the size of a cafĂ© curtain and I used the fusion tape that comes with most IKEA drapery to hem them to avoid a sewing disaster.  After several failed attempts at side mounting gear to hang the drapery rod, I found these self-adhesive bad boys on and the worked a treat!
2.    Walls & baseboard: OK, DAP drywall compound was the actual fairy god mother in this story.  I had a tub of it on hand that I completely used every last drop of on this project, starting on the walls to fill in the lumps & bumps.  Now if you are a home reno enthusiast I strongly recommend viewer discretion at this point, in fact, you may want to stop reading right now.  I realise the proper way to handle the baseboard situation is to remove the board from the entire room and reinstall new.  However, I did some reconstructive surgery that would have made Joan River’s plastic surgeon proud.  I adhered the baseboard to the wall using the drywall compound and then patched the gaps using a layering process.  It took a lot of sanding to make it smooth, and my floors were covered in so much white powder it looked like the bathroom of Studio 54, but the end result was worth the effort.


3.    Paint & wallpaper: I love a black & white colour scheme and had been planning on this colour combo for the powder room.  Luckily had loads of Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White and Blackberry paint left over from the kitchen make over, so I used it here.  When I moved in the ceiling paint was peeling pretty badly.  I scraped off most of it, but it still looked pretty bad.  I disguised it with textured wall paper and painted it Benjamin Moore Ashley Grey which I had left over from the hallway.  I do love the wall paper – it gives the room a faux tin ceiling look – but I am not thrilled with the paint colour.  The Ashley Grey looks grey in the hallway, but looks beige in this room.   I think I will be painting over it in the near future.

Before - the peeling paint dilemma

After- all disguised

4.    Bathroom Fixtures – Once I put the light up after painting, I found that I didn’t detest it at all.  Which is a good thing because the electrical outlet is on the lighting base – and as of yet, I am unable to find an old school replacement.  Plus the shallow medicine cabinet is not so bad either – it actually makes a great storage for nail polish.  I spruced up the rusty pipes under the sink with some CLR and some elbow grease and it looks brand spanking new.

5.    Accessories – It is our ability to accessorize that separates us from the animals.  I picked up the white apple for the window sill (to keep with the NYC theme of the room), the shaggy (yeah baby!) mat, the black & white basket and the black wire table as finishing touches.  As for the abstracts, I have to admit that I totally plagiarised these paintings from a picture of a black and white bathroom that I saw on Pinterest.  I bought some plain canvas and replicated the design myself.   Hope that I don’t get sued for intellectual property rights!


Friday, 10 May 2013

Night of the Living Dead...Live

A night at the theatre usually conjures up images of dressing up, refinement and art imitating life. However, it was a different adventure for Sarah, Audrey and I went we went to Theatre Passe Muraille to see Night of the Living Dead Live.

This show is a must for zombie fans. I also recommend buying tickets for the "special guest" nights. You will be treated to a post show Q&A with the trifecta of terror, original 1968 movie cast members & filmakers Russ Streiner and John Russo and the godfather of gore, filmaker George Romero.

Kudos to the talented cast and production designers (lighting, set design and make up). The play had the visual effect of a black and white movie.

An added bonus on the night we attended was the on stage proposal of a couple who were celebrating their eighth year together.

NOTLD live runs until May 19th. For more information visit

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Wishful Thinking

I am glad that I came of age in the 1980’s.  High school was just as horrible then as it is now, but I am glad that I grew up in a gentler time.  I was bullied and picked on mercilessly.  It goes with the territory when you grow up in a rough government housing complex sporting a Duran Duran haircut and a Frankie-Say-Relax t-shirt. 
However, I didn’t have social media to exasperate my daily torment.  My old neighbourhood, merely known as a rough back then, has morphed into a bleak drug plagued area.  And thankfully I no longer look to John Taylor or Holly Johnson for fashion inspiration. 
Even thought you grow into adulthood, the effects of bullying stays with you.  I am one of the lucky ones though.  Although the bullying made me shy and introverted back them , I overcame it.  But there is still a part of me that likes to appease and reassure my fourteen year old self for all of the crap she had to take on a daily basis.   
For those of you who read my blog, (by the way, many thanks to all three of you), you know that I met The Fella in high school but was unable to pursue my feelings for him because of my crippling shyness.  To ease my teen angst I would lose myself in my walkman with the help of Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, Aztec Camera and China Crisis.  
On Monday night I was able to make it up to this girl.  I went to see China Crisis with The Fella at This Ain’t Hollywood.  She was hyperventilating at the fact that the guitarist, Eddie, and Michael Williams from Much Music (an 80’s dream come true) were standing beside the adult me at the bar before the show.  She was also treated to an amazing show.  China Crisis was absolutely brilliant! 
At the end of the night, The Fella went outside to call a cab while I went in the washroom.  When I came out who is walking towards me but Eddie.   The fourteen year old in my head was chanting “ohmygodohmygodoymygod”.  The adult me reached out and touched him on the arm.  He stopped and I thanked him for a great show and for making great music that meant so much to me thirty years ago in high school (being a total charmer he said, “thirty years ago? What were you two in high school?”…oh, bless him!).  I told him how much it meant being at the show with The Fella and told him that we met in high school but didn’t connect until twenty six years later.   He kissed me on the cheek and told me that was a lovely story.  The Fella had come back inside and I introduced him and he was kissed on the cheek as well and congratulated on our lovely story.   Sigh!
Yes, I think I made it up to my fourteen year old in spades.