Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Exploring Toronto, On and Off the TTC: Dupont Subway Station and Spadina House

As much as I like to complain about the TTC and its less than impeccable service, I do enjoy riding the Rocket (when it's running) and exploring Toronto's many subway stations, some of which are quite beautiful.

Enter Dupont station. Located at Spadina Ave. and Dupont St., the station was built in the late 1970s as part of the extension of the University-Spadina line. And nothing screams 1970s more than burnt orange and free-living florals.

James Sutherland's mosaics are collectively entitled "Spadina Summer Under All Seasons." The intricate glass-work depicts flowers in multiple stages of life, from bud to blossom, from afar and from within.

In addition to the perpetually fresh blooms, a circle motif runs through the station. The wall tiles, lights, ledges and entrance ways are all rounded.

As per the title, there is much to explore off the TTC and in the neighbourhood. Casa Loma is just up Spadina Ave. (and by up, I'm referring to many, many steps). Far more interesting in my opinion is Spadina House. The historical home and museum is currently dressed up in beautiful 1920s and 1930s fashions. Stuffed wolves guard one of the entrance ways - the family was rather eccentric. Tours are offered weekly.

These photos were taken in the springtime, but the Spadina House garden is beautiful year-round. However, if it's the dead of winter and you're yearning for some florals, just head to Dupont station!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apricot Tarts' Best Bead Stores in Toronto pt. 2: Soo Ling Beads

As promised, I recently ventured further away from the downtown core - Dundas St. West and Ossignton Ave. to be exact - in search of unique and unusual beads, and stumbled upon Soo Ling Beads & Beading Co. Ltd. (what a mouthful)!

Getting There
Located at 1162 Dundas St. West
Take the 505 Dundas streetcar to Ossington Ave. or the 63 Ossington bus to Dundas St.

The Store
Soo Ling Beads is crammed with beads. They come in jars, in baggies, on strings and on boards. If you're looking for unusual and vintage (or vintage-looking) beads, this is the place to go. Soo Ling Beads stocks Peruvian hand painted beads, Czech glass beads, Indian carved bone beads, sequins, Venetian glass pendants and much, much more (as you can tell from the photos and the many jars). Many of the beads are displayed on boards, so ask the owner to take a look at the stock stored behind the counter.

I recently nabbed these beauties: vintage ceramic floral beads and carved bone moons. Watch out for them in my Etsy shop.

In the Neighbourhood
Little Portugal is the neighbourhood. Walk a bit west to Nova Era Bakery for some Portuguese custard tarts (and some squash tarts if you're feeling adventurous). Or, take a walk down Ossington Ave. towards Queen St. for your daily dose of the hip and happening.

See the first installment of Apricot Tarts' Best Bead Stores in Toronto.

Friday, August 5, 2011

City in Colour: Toronto Murals, Storefronts and Street Art (aka graffiti)

In every Toronto neighbourhood, from the dreary to the debonair, you're bound to turn the corner and stumble upon colour. Alleyways are teeming with murals - fresh-painted or peeling. Old ads and new ads can be found on the backs of brick buildings. Storefronts come in blue, green, and chicken.

Alleyway off Dundas St. West near Spadina Ave.
Alleyway off Dundas St. West near Spadina Ave.
Alleyway off Dundas St. West near Spadina Ave.
Victoria St. near Dundas St. East
Whether you're visiting Toronto or just strolling on a Sunday afternoon, I suggest ducking in a narrow byway, crossing downtown's disappearing parking lots, and taking in some free art, inspiration, and creativity.

Near York St. and Lake Shore Boulevard
Croft St.
Kensington Market

Mirvish Village
Mirvish Village
Baldwin St. and Huron St.