The Winter Solstice Parade with Friends From The Foundery

Being a Freelance Web Developer, Nick recently joined a co-working community called The Foundery, who offer a shared working environment for art, design, technology & entrepreneurship, at 376 Bathurst Street, just north of Dundas.

So far, he’s been really happy there so when they announced they were hosting a holiday party, he invited me along to meet his new friends.

I was particularly excited to go when I heard the party was a Winter Solstice celebration, during which we’d be making lanterns and then heading out to join the Winter Solstice Parade in Kensington Market. 2016 marked the 27th year that this independently organized festival will have drawn enthusiastic crowds. For one reason or another, I’d never been before, but have always wanted to go.

We left our place at 5pm on December 21st, warmly dressed on what was the shortest day of the year. The skies were clear, the air crisp, and complete darkness had already set in.

We arrived to meet a group of friendly people gathered around a table covered in crafting supplies, creating lantern masterpieces that would light their way on this special night.

Then we walked the few blocks east to the place where the parade was to begin in the northern part of Kensington Market. Not surprisingly, we immediately got separated from the others in the massive crowd. Rather than push into the thick of things, we opted to stand at the back.

The event began with a fire lighting ceremony that involved people on stilts and great bursts of fire breathing, although I was too far away to get a good picture.

Then, suddenly, all those people were headed straight for us! We quickly scooched over to the side to let them by, and so lucked into what might have been the best spot to be. We had an unobstructed view of the parade as it passed right by us.

There were beautiful papier-mache puppets, some so large that it took three people to carry them. There were also whimsically dressed musicians.

Everyone was invited to follow the parade through the streets of Kensington Market. Since we’d let everyone by, we trailed along behind, so when we arrived at the final destination, the baseball diamond in Alexandria Park, where a fire-centric show was to take place, we were at the very back and couldn’t really see much of what was going on. I only got a few bad photos but you can check out this 30 second video produced by BlogTo, if you’d like to see what was going on, up close.

We reconvened at The Foundery after it was over, where one of Nick’s co-workers, Anna, made a pot of mulled wine to warm us all up, following a family recipe containing a blend of spices including cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and fresh citrus. It was so good. She shared the recipe so I’ll be making some just like it on a cold winter’s night to come.

^ Nick with some of his co-workers ^

The whole evening was great. As Nick and I walked home in the lightly falling snow, we agreed that it had been one of the most fun work holiday parties either of us had ever been to.

Posted in Art, Poetry and Theatre, Kensington Market | Tagged | 6 Comments

Celebrating Two Birthdays and a Look at our Decorations

Greetings! If you’re celebrating I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season.

Today, I’m going to go back up a week, to the joint birthday celebration we hosted at our place the weekend before Christmas. The dinner party for ten was held in honour of two awesome people whose birthdays are so near to Christmas that they rarely get a separate party — my darling man Nick and our dear friend Julie.

^ Me and the birthday people! ^

We began with cocktails and appetizers served in the kitchen — having learned from experience, there’s no use setting things up in any other room since everyone prefers to hang out where the action is.

We had Rum Party Punch, the classic Canadian cocktail Bloody Caesar, and wine or beer to drink, and to eat there was my Roasted Red Pepper Dip, some Marinated Tomato, Cheese and Olive Hors D’oeuvres, (which are usually served on skewers but which I left disassembled this time because we have an olive-disliker in the crowd.) We also had some Homemade Party Mix, and Isabel brought her signature hummus, which I seem to always ask her to bring because she makes it so well.

^ Our boy Eddie happily allowed me to carry him around the party like this. ^

Although Nick was one of the honourees, he still cooked the main courses. I did offer but he declined, because he truly enjoys cooking. He made a Swiss Cheese and Mushroom Quiche, baked marinaded salmon and a leg of lamb with fresh mint sauce. Veggies were roasted parsnips, peas and corn. I made a couple of salads — a Potato Salad and a Cuban Black Bean and Whole Grain Rice one.

I didn’t get a shot of the food all laid out in buffet style, but it looked lovely and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Dessert was an assortment of things — Meghan brought some decadent eclairs from Nugateau, and I baked some Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons (following this recipe from Smitten Kitchen) and a batch of mini glazed lemon cakes. But the highlight of the dessert offerings was the Apple Strudel that Andrea made, following her family’s traditional recipe. What a treat!

While I didn’t get a picture the night of, there were some left-overs which I photographed the following day …

Since you’ve caught small glimpses of our holiday decorations in the party pictures, I’ll go ahead and show you some details here as well. Everything that’s not Christmas related was pretty much left in place and I just decorated around it.

My obsession with vintage comes out in full force at Christmastime!

^ This is the top of the dish cabinet in the kitchen. The tree is from the 40s and the base is a music box that plays Jingle Bells, while the tree slowly rotates. ^

^ I was excited to find the snowman (which is a bell) at Value Village last year, complete with its box. What’s more, there were two of them in the same mixed-lot bag, so I gave the second one to my sister. ^

^ A cabinet in the living room. ^

^ Another cabinet in the living room. ^

^ Julie and Guy gave us the cute ceramic squirrel a while ago, which I Christmas-ized with an ornament. ^

^ I made the cotton flannelette tartan pillow covers last year and was glad to pull them out again. They’re very cozy and as soon as I’ve pushed publish on this post I might very well be sat right there reading. ^

^ Some handmade items : The ornament wall hanging that I made four years ago (and demonstrated in this post) is still going strong. It spent the year with the pieces of crystal hanging on it so I just squeezed the ornaments in. The wreath was made from bits and pieces gathered over the years, the straw base being something I made while still a teenager.

^ Some small details in the powder room : the ceramic woodchuck was brought in from the garden for the winter, and the crocheted sachet is the one I demonstrated last week in this post. ^

Today is still a holiday so we’re just hanging out at home and staying clear of any shops and Boxing Day shoppers. According to the news, it’s pretty raucous out there!

Thanks very much for taking a look,
xo loulou

Posted in Birthday Celebrations, Dinner Details, Holidays : Christmas | Tagged | 4 Comments