Fashion-able: Leslieville street style

Queen West is home to
great fashion, food, drink, espresso, entertainment and our very own
Burroughes building. We feel lucky to work in such a vibrant, happening ‘hood. But the other end of Queen Street is equally as hip, with its unassuming, grounded culture and (nearly) big-box store-free streets.


Leslieville is flourishing; it hosts high-quality
local, sustainable food stores such as Hooked, Rowe Farms and Leslieville Cheese.
We love its growing variety of delish eateries, such as Leslieville Pumps,
Paulette’s Original Donuts, Goods & Provisions and Enoteca Ascari 26. Shops
like Thrill of the Find, Baby on the Hip, Nathalie-Rose and Co. and Doll Factory offer great finds and a strong community vibe.

We decided to head over to the east end again (check out our previous blog
posts on Leslieville Pumps and Paulette’s Original Donuts), but this time to take a
few snaps of the local street style. We were not disappointed. We found the style
generally unpretentious and fun. Bright pops of colour and floral patterns were popular, and strappy sandals a staple.
Bright colours and a mullet skirt are fresh and summery.
A floral dress with gladiator sandals and a
black vest mixes sugar and spice.
This maxi dress with a smart cardigan and bag looks polished
but not overdone.
A print bag lends a flirty summer vibe to the
classic skinny-jeans-and-cute-blouse look.

This romantic dress looks city chic with a crossbody bag
and strappy sandals.
A bright skirt adds some sun to this outfit.
These bohemian capris are the centerpiece of a unique earthy
look.


We’re looking forward to hitting up more Toronto neighbourhoods to check out what styles people are rocking. 
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Yum, yum: Leslieville Pumps

A few weeks ago, after a meeting on the east side, we decided to make a pit stop at Leslieville Pumps and pick up lunch for the fourth floor. Between them and Paulette’s, Queen and Carlaw has become quite the foodie corner. We’d been hearing a lot of buzz about this gas station cum southern BBQ joint, so decided to check it out for ourselves. 

The Flom brothers with the Pumps’ pump.



Founded by two brothers, Greg and Judson Flom, Leslieville Pumps feels like an establishment you’d stop in at in Tennessee en route to Nashville, instead of in Toronto’s Leslieville. The gas station is open 24 hours, 365 days a year, but the kitchen serves from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. during weekends.

Rustic interior.



A self-described smoke house, the Pumps’ menu has a lot of items that are cooked “low and slow”. Along with breakfast sandwiches, there’s beef brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken thighs. We sampled the brisket and woweeeee, was it delicious. Piled onto a fresh bun, the brisket is topped with crispy onions, barbecue sauce and mustard. To die for!

Eat this brisket with your eyes closed, and you’ll swear you’re in Kansas.



As we can never turn down a pickle, the fried pickles were a definite order item. The batter remained crispy, as did the pickle, all the way back to the office. Finally, the BBQ corn salad was a nice, fresh side dish but was a hard decision with corn fritters on the menu too. 

What’s better than a pickle? One that’s deep fried, of course.



We can’t wait to go back and try out more items on the menu. We heard another customer raving about the curry, which is made by a Sri Lankan staff member and the BLT, made with maple glazed smoked peameal bacon sounds like an absolute must. One thing’s for sure, we’ll be heading over the east end a lot more often now.


Follow them on Twitter: @LPumps

City Living: Spring sports in Toronto

It’s almost time to pack up those skis and skates, and dust off your tennis racquet, volleyball, and running shoes. For the competitive types out there, this is the time to sign up for leagues or join a club. There is no better way to meet new people and learn to master a sport. If competition is not your thing, there are plenty of courts, trails, and fields to hit up should you get the itch to be active.  

Team sports

A number of us have taken part in sports leagues around the city, and we can’t think of a more fun and productive way to spend our weekday nights. The Toronto Sport and Social Club and Not So Pro Toronto Sports are probably the most popular sports leagues in the city, offering everything from dodgeball to floor hockey to indoor and outdoor ultimate Frisbee. Whether you sign up with a group of friends or as an individual (prices vary depending on sport, venue, etc.), it’s guaranteed, cheap fun. Going for a couple beers with the team after never hurt anyone, either. 

Tennis

Depending on how picky you are when it comes to surface and court conditions, there is a huge range of options for playing tennis in Toronto. If you’re playing a casual game with a friend, there is no shortage of courts at public parks around the city. Sure, your court might be made of cement and the net made of metal, but there will always be space to be found. Trinity Bellwoods (Queen West), Ramsden (Rosedale) and Jimmy Simpson Park (Leslieville) are a few city parks where you can play tennis for free. 

If you’re looking for lessons, tournaments, a partner or simply some better quality courts, there are lots of tennis clubs around the city. Sir Winston Churchill Park Tennis Club (Spadina and St. Clair W.) and Kew Gardens Tennis Club (the Beaches) are both very affordable options. Mayfair Racquet and Fitness Club is popular as they have four locations around the city, and Greenwin Tennis Club (Mt. Pleasant and Davisville) is known for its great clinics.  

High five, sister.

Golf

So when we say golf, what we actually mean is the driving range. While we wish we could say we enjoy a good round of 18 holes, our skills and patience are not quite up to, um, par. Instead, we love a good afternoon working on our swing and going through as many baskets of balls as our wallets will allow. Our personal favourite is the two-level driving range at the Polson Pier, a.k.a. the Docks. While there’s nothing fancy about it, it’s easy to get to and has a lovely view of Lake Ontario. Other ranges in and around Toronto include the Beach Fairway Golf Range (Victoria Park Avenue just south of the Danforth) and Launch Golf Centre (Vaughan), which is conveniently open year round courtesy of the personal heaters in each stall. Memberships, lessons and private parties are also available, making this a pretty great golf destination if you’re willing to make the drive.

 Much harder than it looks.
Image source.

Running

One of the things we love most about the spring is being able to run outdoors again. Our personal go-to is The Beltline, which is a trail that spans 4.5 km from Mount Pleasant and Merton St. all the way up to the Allen. Ravines, the boardwalk in the beaches, and pretty much anywhere in the city with minimal pedestrian and vehicle traffic are great options as well. 

If you’re looking to get more serious, or for company while running, the Running Room offers great clinics. Most groups require a fee to participate, but we’ve found that there are a few sessions per week where you can tag along with running groups (usually groups training for a race) at no cost.

They look so happy.
Image source.
 

Whatever sport you choose, remember that exercise is key to a healthy heart, muscles, joints, and mind. Find something you love and it will be easier to stick with it.


 

Media, Darling: Jes Watson

Born to a staunchly feminist mother, Jes Watson rebelled at a young age the only way she knew how — by learning how to cook, clean and craft her way through life. Fast forward to present day and Jes is now the editor of SweetHome on sweetspot.ca, where she gets to bake up a storm and write to her heart’s content on a daily basis.

When she’s not working, she can be found in her Leslieville home with her adorable red-headed daughter, amazing husband and somewhat lazy dog. 

Twitter: @sweetspotdotca, @jeswatson


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
Amazingly, I have a BFA in acting. So I basically earned a degree by doing yoga, chanting through my chakras and dressing up in ridiculous period costumes. About halfway through the program I realized I’d rather be writing the drama than acting it out (but I still do a mean mime wall).

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Oh, gosh. Some cozy cottage in the woods, letting my daughter tumble over me in a field of wildflowers. Or living in some gorgeous New York apartment. Either way.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be pushy, but be persistent — it’s a fine balance. Curiosity and confidence are your best assets.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I’ve had a subscription to the New Yorker since I was 18, never met a Granta I didn’t like and I love gawking my way through Vanity Fair. TV-wise, I’m really loving Portlandia and Boardwalk Empire these days.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Joshua Jackson. Hello, Pacey! It was like 23-year-old me giving 15-year-old me a high five through time. 


Worst?
I interviewed a celebrity stylist who actually fitted me with a synthetic hairpiece before I left. I walked back to the office with this crazy rug dangling off my head like some sort of mangy dead animal, and couldn’t figure out how to get it off until one of my coworkers managed to wrest me from it.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Own your mistakes and don’t be afraid to mess up. The messes are always more interesting, anyway.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Suggestions are always better than questions. And use the phone sparingly – seriously.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I always love working with PR on big events like Toronto Fashion Week, TIFF and IDS. There’s a lot going on and everyone is so harried, but it’s awesome to see everyone pulling together to make it all happen.

I hate? 
Slow walkers. Poorly bound books. Sloth.

I love?
Hanging with my toddler. Freshly laundered sheets. Dusk runs and night swims.

Reading?
Murakami’s 1Q84.

Best place on earth?
My cottage in the dead of winter. You have to ski in and it’s just unbelievably quiet, pristine and beautiful.

Dinner guest?
Fred Armisen. I am so obsessed with Portlandia.Or Werner Herzog — just to hear him talk in that voice for a few hours.

Hero?
I have a major lady crush on Patti Smith.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I really love making dorky family music videos with VidRhythm for the iPhone.  Every song’s a winner.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean, then lake, then pool. But I’ll take whatever is closest.

Voicemail or email?
Email. I don’t even check my voicemail anymore. My mom is the only person who even bothers leaving me messages.





Yum, yum: New & noteworthy desserts

We love finding new dessert options. The perfect dessert can make anything better. Here are a few of our favourite new spots to snack on something sweet. 


A common cupcake #fail is an insufficient amount of icing; it can make a cupcake as undesirable as a muffin bottom. For The Love of Cake in Liberty Village has taken measures to ensure their cupcakes don’t meet that fate by creating the 4 Dimensional Cupcake. These cupcakes include four delicious elements: the cake (variety of flavours available), the filling (95% of their cupcakes are filled with custards, preserves, creams and ganaches), the topping (a mix of meringues, whipped cream, mascarpone, cream cheese frosting and more) and the garnish (which can range from anything to a candied carrot to an Oreo). Best part? No dorky 3D glasses required.
Other notable cupcake shout outs include: Sweet Bliss Baking Company in Leslieville and Prairie Girl (two locations downtown).
If cupcakes aren’t your thing, try a cheesecake in single-serve portions from a new Toronto-based baketress, Ladybird. With mouth-watering flavours like Banoffee and Caramel Apple Crumble, these pint-sized cakes are perfect for birthdays, bridal showers or Fridays.
Gourmet marshmallows have been popular in Europe for quite some time, but have only recently been popping up on our side of the pond. Torontonians have Nadège Nourian to thank for that, at least in part. At Nadège, her Trinity Bellwoods patisserie, Nourian has created decadent homemade marshmallows. They come in a variety of exotic flavours, such as violet, poppy, coffee and banana. If you don’t live in the area or feel up for a baking challenge, you can try out Nourian’s recipe at home. Bon appétit.
Once synonymous with police officers and bitter, watery coffee, the mighty doughnut is experiencing a renaissance these days. We first noticed this when we heard about NYC’s Doughnut Plant and their pistachio, Meyer lemon and tres leches flavours. Imagine our delight when we learned of Glory Hole Doughnuts. While this up-and-coming shop is still searching for a home, their scrumptious doughnuts can be found at Thor Espresso Bar, Burger Bar (Saturdays only) and occasionally at 416 Snackbar. Our favourite flavour? Maple Bacon.
@GHoleDoughnuts 

Have any other favourite treats in the city? We’d love to hear about them! Tweet us @rockitpromo.