Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spring Fling

Yes, we can dream can't we.? And yes, that isn't a typo
that is my name on the poster with that illustrious group - I have committed to singing a number...gulp. Exciting stuff and I'm very grateful to Julie McGregor, the organizer and a fine vocalist and artist to boot.  As you can see on the bill are Maureen Kennedy (one of my fave people), Laura Marks, Neil Kristian Parent and jazz poet Chris Hercules - accompanied by the legendary Norm Amadio and bassist extraordinaire Duncan Hopkins...

Mark the date - March 10th at Trane Studio..8 p.m., $15 Cover - I believe I have the link to Trane on the right side of my blog..if not I will put it there.

Saw two wonderful movies over the season - the delightful "The Artist" a homage to the silent film era - it's a silent film and I bet you are saying "Subtitles? Is she kidding me"? Trust me you'll be totally engrossed - the leads are wonderful Jean Dujardin as Georges Valentin and Berenice Bejo as ingenue Peppy Miller. Charming.

The other movie selection was more traditional Hollywood seasonal blockbuster - the action packed "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol"...will have you on the edge of your seat - particularly the scenes on the side of the hotel in Dubai..yikes.

What am I doing New Year's Eve? Well, there will be jazz involved and also delicious food at the new Rawlicious on Bloor (2122 Bloor Street West)...a great way to usher in the New Year, a five course meal and jazz...will post pics later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New do

IMG_1454.jpgAs the New Year approaches it is a time for resolutions and one of my lately was to return to my former hairstylist Sandro - proprietor of Pop Hair on Richmond..and I'm soooo glad I did...what was I thinking, flirting with all these other brief affairs all over town...many a good salon but nothing quite gelled...I don't know what made me leave in the first place....the grass is always greener I guess.

He is looking very trim, having taken the vegetarian plunge and as acerbic and funny as ever. Let this be a lesson to me...I had to look good to go into the holiday season and most importantly "Jingle Bones' tonight.!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vegan Brunch at Windsor Arms and "Jingle Bones"

IMG_4100.jpgIf you're looking for a new vegan brunch alternative and an elegant one at that - check out the latest one at the Windsor Arms, designed by vegan chef extraordinaire Doug McNish. The service is stellar, very old world graciousness and how great is it to have a separate vegan menu.

Ideal spot for those with visitors from out of town veg or not as they also have the standard brunch buffet.
We chose "The Works" - above, which features black bean chili, toast with a sunflower seed "butter", sauteed potatoes, tempeh bacon and one of the best tofu scrambles in the city - this one featured mushrooms and greens.

On the sweeter side we also tried the Stuffed French Toast, which to me was more like dessert - I'm a fan of french toast erring on the savory end of things..I would suggest the sauce on the side (a la "When Harry Men Sally") to tone down the sugar factor.


Would love to try the Vegan Benedict next time and also the bowls - Granola or Chia....kudos to the Windsor Arms for introducing this lovely option for weekend brunch.  I understand they also have a vegan menu for the evening?

Well, boys and girls it's also that festive time of year which means the annual "Jingle Bones" - featuring a stocking full of trombone players - playing your holiday favourites, a great gift for those who have been naughty or nice. This year it's at the Victory Cafe on 581 Markham Street starting at 7:30 p.m. Speaking of nice, contributions are appreciated in support of  Camp Oochigeas - where my niece Fran and countless others kids have enjoyed wonderful summers as victors over the dreaded "C" word.

Hey, it even got mentioned in "The Globe and Mail" you wouldn't want to seem uncool would you and aside from that if you don't attend we may have to send out the Sam cat to track you down and sit on you.
Jingle Bones

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Sorry, I was remiss in not telling you about this amazing free concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre today at noon - in a word, these guys are astounding - with selections ranging from Joni Mitchell's "River" to the jaunty opener "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" to the closer "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" - the quartet delighted a packed house and we mere mortals were allowed to sing along on that Cab Calloway chestnut "Minnie the Moocher".

They have just released their fourth CD "Cool Yule" - just in time for holiday gifting...unless you decide to keep it for go and hear them live when you get the chance....


Also this morning some Christmas shopping was in order and some for moi, bien sur. I love the natural products from Vauxhall Gardens since I tried the soothing Comfrey Cream - great for your aches and pains (it's anti-inflammatory) at the Liberty Village Market. Adele, the creator is a bubbly dynamo of enthusiasm for herbs and natural skin and body care...what is even better of course is that the flowers and herbs are locally grown, harvested and whipped into sumptuous creations...I adore her "Crowning Glory" hair conditioner - it really nourishes your scalp and provides great body and volume plus today I purchased "Precious Elixir" a lovely day cream and a serum, plus a few gifts. I also love the fact that she wraps your purchase in a vintage printed toile tissue and includes an information sheet about the product.

You can next catch her at Sick Kids hospital on Tuesday February 13th in the atrium Farmer's Market. Her website is www.peaceloveand - sweet.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baking with Gwyneth

IMG_5074.jpgBecause of course, we chat on the phone and internet and exchange recipes....not. Yes, I shamelessly wrote that headline to get your attention.  I tried out a recipe printed recently in the Toronto Star - apparently she lets her kids have these at breakfast  - they are made with barley flour, finely chopped almonds, oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and jam filling...yum.

December always brings out the baking frenzy - it harkens back to my days as a university student - when I would procrastinate during exams and do Christmas baking.  I have already made some Gingerbread Biscotti, some Green Tea and Walnut Biscotti and now these....soon Shortbread, maybe some Chocolate Cherry cookeis, some Pecan Sandies and the piece de resistance a Holiday Bread - stuffed with dried fruits and nuts.  Some years I have even made that Tuscan treat - Panforte - which I fell in love with in Sienna...sort of compressed spicy fruitcake - therefore easily portable in luggage.

It would be nice to spend Christmas in Italy or in Europe...and I was thinking even New York as I watched "Elf" the other night...Buon Natale.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble with strings....

IMG_4285.jpgI do love going to the free noon hour concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre - especially when there is jazz!

Under the very capable direction of Denny Christianson this was a great way to spend an overcast Tuesday lunch hour. How lovely to have the addition of strings to the group - especially since I spied one of our upcoming "Jazzology" guests - Aline Homzy on lead violin - she did a splendid job on the intro to Denny's arrangement of that Miles Davis classic "All Blues" - a highly charged, grooving start to the program. Also featured on that were guitarist Sam Dickinson (who I remembered from the Humber Community Outreach program) and saxophonist Andrew Greenwood.

In fact, I saw a few familiar names from my scheduling on the performer's list - one Kyle Woodard who had a sax solo on Gord Sheard's "Seven Doors" - of course with a Brazilian influence and with Gord conducting and I spied Soren Nissen on bass and PJ Anderson in the trombone section....The arrangements "Angel Eyes" and "Lush Life" featured the sinfully rich vocals of Lydia Persaud and special appearance by Shirantha Beddage on tenor - normally I hear him on baritone as do most people - but Denny related that he not only doubles but triples and quadruples....including piano. Mr. Beddage was exquisite on "My Foolish Heart". And of course it does my heart good as always to hear the "kids".

Coming up this week - a dilemma - to go and hear the lovely Maureen Kennedy at the Home Smith Bar on Friday or Ben Dietschi et al at the Miles Nadal Centre on Bloor and Spadina - he will be there with the Spectrum String Quartet, Patrick Reid, Colin Power, David Occhipinti and Andrew Downing.

Tomorrow night - Mary McKay is at the Reservoir from 7 p.m. and on Thursday Norman Marshall Villeneuve has a trio at Cool Runnings - which is at 2708 Danforth Avenue.

I have heard rumours of another jazz venue opening....the Savoy? I'll keep you posted.