Reclaiming Roadside Treasures

We, like most young people in Toronto, live in an apartment building. Our apartment, like most in the city, has minimal storage space. Until far too recently, we kept our service wear on top of the cupboards in our kitchen. Not only was this extremely ugly, but it was also counter productive: before AND after each time something was used it needed to be scrubbed on account of the dust and kitchen scum. Scrub, serve, scrub, scrub, serve. I can think of at least 6 other things I would rather do than wash dishes.

So, naturally,  you can imagine the excitement on the day I discovered a corner shelving unit sitting on the side of the road. As you do, I stood awkwardly and “defended” my treasure, while frantically calling upstairs for help (and possibly approval). Beginning to end the whole project took a single Saturday afternoon and less than $40 to complete. What is it they say about another man’s trash…?

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What you’ll need:

– reclaimed/new wood shelving unit
– newspaper
– sand paper
– elastic band
– matte all purpose paint (let them know you are using it in your kitchen when you purchase – they will tell you what you  need)
– paint brush(es)

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– Wipe down your shelves (especially if you’ve taken them from the side of the road…) with soap and water
– Sand out any imperfections (or mould spots – ew) on your unit and wipe down again with a damp cloth
– Let dryIMG_3206

– Handy trick: put an elastic band around the middle of your paint can (ooooohhhhhh)

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– Use said elastic band to wipe paint from your brush to avoid uneven distribution (aaaahhhhhh)

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– Let your shelves dry between each coat of paint (about 1 hour)
– Continue to apply coats of paint until your shelves have sufficient coverage (about 3 coats)
– Let dry for 24 hours before moving into place and stocking your shelves

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No Machine? Sew What?!

When we first decided to open our Etsy Shop, we thought we would keep it simple by sticking to what we know: goods made from rope and other reclaimed items found around our homes and cottages. But, as with most famous last words, that was short lived. On our first supply shopping trip – a highly anticipated visit to Designer Fabric Outlet – we may or may not have stumbled upon some of the best fabric we had seen in…possibly ever. It was very quickly agreed that it, when turned into a pillow, would make an epic accessory to any couch or chair in any cottage or chalet. We also agreed that said pillows (obviously) needed to have leather backs.  We also agreed that it had been years since either of us had sewn a darn thing, but that we could figure it out…ideally with supervision.

So, what are two crafty critters going to do with limited skills and no machine of their own? Head to a sewing studio, thats what!

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Sew Be It Studio, just north of Yonge and Eglinton, is a sewing mecca in Toronto. Filled with the obligatory sundries, multiple high tech machines, and a very friendly staff eager to help, it was the perfect place for us to find.

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The studio offers a variety of group or private classes and workshops for all levels, as well as drop in sewing. We decided to take advantage of their generous ‘first drop in free’ offer and strolled in one Monday night (after booking online to ensure our spots, of course). Armed with our leather needles, thread, and a dream we set about our evening of adventure. Instructors were on hand to answer any questions we had, to give us a walk through of how their machines work, and offering (mildly shaky, however much needed) words of encouragement.

sewingAs two entrepreneurs trying to keep costs low, this was the perfect alternative to buying a machine and hoping things went really, really well. Places like Sew Be It allow you to hone your craft before jumping into a big purchase, maximizing your income and limiting expenses. And hey, it could just be the place that helps you see that you’re just not cut out for handiwork. Either way – dodge the bullet!

sewing 4You can check out the finished product Here on Etsy!

 

Top 5 Mexican Restaurants

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1. Mariachi’s (Yonge & Davisville)
– This family run restaurant was my first love. In the days when all you were old enough to do on a Friday night was go for dinner and a movie with a friend, Mariachi’s was our “daring” escape from The Pickle Barrel at Yonge & Eglinton. Just a short walk from the theatres, it was a welcome change. Always a sucker for their guacamole (still some of the best I’ve had), now that I am older I have discovered that their sangria is some of the best as well. Very affordable – great quality – great experience.

2. Milagro (Mercer St.)
– One of the most authentic experiences I have had, although their sangria leaves a bit to be desired. Service and atmosphere at any Milagro location are tops. Home made guacamole and many different sharing plates are among my personal favourites on this menu.

3. Hacienda (Yonge & Dupont)
– SUCH a cool atmosphere! The neon lights adorning the walls as you walk in are absolutely the first thing you notice. The second, for me at least, was that the menu is entirely in Spanish with no English descriptions – very authentic! I tried their rum punch, a bit of a pricey cocktail, but so delicious. Their bucket-o-beer special was a big hit with our group as well. The food is a Korean spin on Mexican, a fusion of sorts, so everything has a kick to it, which was a delicious surprise. With their many patios as well as indoor seating, I would highly recommend.

4. La Carnita (College & Palmerston)
– The ever changing menu at La Carnita is part of the draw. Each menu, featuring about 11 items, most of which are tacos, changes regularly, keeping restaurant goers on their toes. Sharing options here are a must, as everything has such different flavours each time you are there. The catch – they don’t do reservations for groups under 8 (and don’t even guarantee that they can make those). Tricky business come birthday time.

5. Playa Cabana (Yonge & Dupont)
– Sister restaurant to Hacienda, Playa Cabana is the original latin flavour on this section of the Dupont strip. Although this very quaint restaurant is situated among rows of sleepy duplexes, the patio out front is always packed. The same great service awaits you here!