What does nearly 4.5km look like?

One of the most interesting things about wearing a FitBit is figuring out how far you went on that early morning or after work walk. When I tell many people that most days I log 4 to 5 km every day before starting work, they think that’s overwhelming. It sounds so far. In reality, it’s about an hour of brisk walking. To put it into context, it means I can do a loop from my house, down through the Distillery District, over to the east near the St. Lawrence Market, and complete the square by coming along Dundas Street.

I love to record the sights and sounds I encounter, the changing light, and even the weather, with quick snaps from my phone along the way. I’m no professional photographer, but it’s okay with me if the photos are a little bit imperfect – usually our memories are, as well.

Looking back at these photos reinforces why I walk – it’s not just about the fitness. It’s also about connecting with neighbourhoods and nature. I love how every time I take a walk, even if it’s a route I’ve covered before, I’ll get a perspective that’s just a little bit different. I might see a building from a new angle, or spot a change in a shop window.

Maybe a quirky sculpture will appear where I haven’t seen it before. Or possibly the visual will trigger a memory of something my husband said while we were making our way through that section. Other times, I snap because there’s something I want to look up or investigate when I get back home.

Taking these little shots along the way also gives me something to share with friends and family who don’t live close by. That way they can share the memory, even if they aren’t able to be here with me in person. I like to see the subtle changes that occur in familiar settings, like how the tables in the outdoor cafes and bistros are taking on a summery appearance that they didn’t have, even a month ago.

Seeing something like this park, where I’ve been many times, from a different vantage point, means I notice the expanse of grass, and how green it is. Later in the summer it will be tired and yellowed – it won’t have that early season freshness that is just here for today.

Coming up through the market, I can compare photos from this time last year, and see alterations to the skyline. Even the market itself is getting refreshed, with a new market building being erected to the north of where this iconic South Market stands. Vendors from the North Market are currently in one of those giant white tents that you may have seen for temporary installations near you.

I am also sometimes surprised by the low-hanging cloud cover, and I wonder whether this is only noticeable because the buildings keep getting taller and taller. All of these thoughts, as well as plans for my day, new ideas for writing or speaking, or working through challenges, happen while I’m making my way along the sidewalk.

Next time you’re out for a long walk, take time for a photo or two – you might be surprised at what you do and don’t remember about the pictures you’ve made along the way.


How Big is Your Neighbourhood?

IMG_5508Although we live in Regent Park, we’re not limited by the borders of community as decided by city planners or other folks. Instead, we measure our neighbourhood by walkability. Travelling a city or town on foot can quickly acclimate you to the shops and services that are available, and let you get to know people and places far beyond the immediate blocks near your home. For us, a 5-kilometre loop is a regular occurrence, happening several times a week. As a consequence, we regularly experience sights, sounds, and shops far beyond the borders of the quarter where we reside.

On this particular day, our walk included a stroll south to Queen street (above). After that, we wound through some of the tinier streets (Bright Street is a favourite) toward the Distillery District. Headed for Cherry StreetWhere Sumach meets Cherry, we passed under this maze of streetcar wires, making our way past the secret data centre and the incredible new Cooper Koo YMCA complex. As you can see, it was early – definitely pre-7am, although we are enjoying the light while it lasts. We know we’ll need our full armada of reflective gear in just a few weeks as the days get shorter.

Distillery It’s always fun to cut through the Distillery District and see all the amazing shops and food vendors (although typically during our pass through in the early morning they aren’t open, we’ve made the trip there often enough that we’ve seen the insides and the people as well). The juxtaposition of the ancient distillery buildings with the CN Tower in the background makes us wonder what the original occupants might have thought.

SculptureThe various art pieces offered by the shops are fascinating – like this guy. We especially like how he has an iron for a nose! Some are practical, many are beautiful, and most are things that we don’t have room for in our minimalist lifestyle – but we appreciate the opportunity to see them as we pass by and continue our fight against years and gravity.

Esplanade On this particular day, we also made our way along the Esplanade, past Crombie park, heading southward, finally, on Jarvis Street. via Jarvis we can get all the way to the lake, crossing the street near Sugar Beach and the amazing, huge sugar elevators on the waterfront. It’s like another world, passing beyond the whizzing traffic and the hustle and bustle of workers, people walking their dogs, and construction crews continuing their endless quest for one more building.

Lake OntarioThe Lake is beautiful early in the morning, and it is a great way to get centered before jumping into the fast-paced world of work. Being able to see birds, flowers, trees, and water at the same time as planes, trains, and automobiles is very satisfying, because it reminds us that we can find peace wherever we are, no matter how fast the pace.

For our return trip, we made a straight shot northward up Sherbourne Street – arriving home just in time to grab coffee and a smoothie before facing the events of the day. Is it worth getting up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to fit all this in at the start? I’ll let you be the judge.

How do I Find A…in Regent Park?

Dive In!Regent Park is a neighbourhood in transition – where new residents are meeting and mingling with folks who have lived here for a very long time. So some of us newcomers, like me, are finding our way around to the services, people, and places that surround us.

One of the places to connect is our amazing aquatic centre – with this friendly guy at the entrance. There are lots of other opportunities to connect also; all you have to do is dive in! (Yes, I’ve been known to like a pun or two).

Today, for example, and every Wednesday for the summer, you can get an amazing, tasty meal for only four bucks at Regent Park. Just show up around 6pm, and buy a ticket from the folks in the Community Food Centre booth. Get in line, and be prepared for something delicious (last week it was rice, lentils, curry beef, and salad – tasty!) While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the vendors on site, selling fresh bread, Ethiopian coffee, and lots of other treats.

One more great way to get involved in the RPNA Logoneighbourhood is the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association, or RPNA. You can also find the RPNA on Facebook, or follow what’s happening on Twitter. There are lots of amazing people to meet, with tremendous community spirit, and whether you want to simply find out what’s going on, to communicate with others who live in this fantastic community, or you need to find where to get a…well, you name it, the Neighbourhood Association’s got a place for you.

So come and visit, or if you live here, walk around – there’s so much to see and do. And if you’re so inclined, follow my WalkEatLive blog, or my tweets where I talk about places to walk and sightsee; healthy, fresh-made food; or other stories about the way we live and get the most out of life.

Dinner for two…


We had a busy day yesterday, cleaning, organizing, walking, shopping and visiting the Gardiner Museum’s amazing porcelain collection. The best way to top off a day like that is to make a delicious but low-effort dinner together. 

Here’s what we did:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a casserole dish, place two pork chops. Ours came from our friend/neighbour/butcher, Mark. Over top, pour 1/2 c (125ml dry sherry). Thinly slice an onion and separate into rings, scattering on top of the chops. Add half a dozen capers and four roughly-chopped olives. Sprinkle with dry mustard and mace (or nutmeg, if you’re stuck). Put the lid on.

Next the potatoes. Slice 4 or 5, thinly. You will have two servings left over for tomorrow. In a glass cake pan or pie plate coated with olive oil cooking spray, arrange half the potato slices. Sprinkle with 2 t or 10ml of flour. Crack on some pepper and grate on a small amount (1 oz/30 g) strong aged cheddar. We used an amazing cave-aged one from Wookey Hole

Layer the rest of the potato on, pour over 1/2 c or 125ml of 1% milk. Add another cracking of pepper and another ounce or so of cheese. Cover with foil, not letting foil touch the cheese. Full disclosure: another casserole would work well here, only we don’t have one! 

Put both dishes in the oven for half an hour. Drink wine and chat.

Then remove the lid or foil and cook for another 15 minutes. Prep the Brussels sprouts or do what we did – use frozen. When the 15 minutes are nearly up, bring the sprouts just to the boil, covered, on top of the stove. Turn off the heat and let stand while you dish up the rest. Sprouts will be crisp-tender.

Have a lovely meal and enjoy each other’s company. Live happily ever after.

DIY Delicious…

It’s everywhere! Messages touting packaged foods that will make my life easier and, it’s suggested, better. Truly, I can’t imagine how. Cooking delicious food is absolutely satisfying. Fortunately, there are lots of counter-messages out there, including those from Michael Pollan (“Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) And I credit my fellow blogger and Twitter sister, Anne-Marie Bonneau, aka the Zero Waste Chef, with an inspiring house rule,  which I’ll paraphrase as “Sure, you can have that treat, but you have to find a recipe and make a homemade version”.

In our family we are very fortunate to have raised kids who can both cook and bake. They experiment with their own recipes. Adults now, we are provided with delicious things to eat whenever we visit their homes. Do yourself and your family a favour, and make something from scratch this weekend. Your health will thank you.


Climbing into the Decompression Chamber

What a couple of weeks! Our part of the world seems to still be very much driven by the seasons, even in the urban parts. We’ve just wrapped up one of our big projects and turned our attention to another. I’ve started a new business…and of course it’s harvest time! Much roasting, canning and preserving has ensued.

But last night I realized it was time for a little decompression today. Sure, I have new customers coming to visit this afternoon, and a batch of sourdough bread in my future, but we are starting the morning with a leisurely, local breakfast. We could have gone to our friend Denis’ for the Full Monty breakfast, but we opted for the complete pj experience here at home. Martock Glen applewood smoked bacon, a large sunny side up egg, and whole grain toast. Delicious.


Dreaming up Ideas for a Leftover Feast

Yesterday we planned for a barbecue party…which is always a risk on a long weekend. Either the guest list will be feast, or famine. The low turnout means leftovers – a great opportunity for creativity. Couple that with an over abundant vegetable garden and our cooking imaginations are getting a fantastic workout.

On the menu this rainy Sunday morning: mushrooms and Swiss chard, sautéed in just a little butter. Then we tipped in a couple of medium eggs, beaten lightly. When the omelette could be folded, we topped it with a couple of cheddar slices (which also went down a treat on yesterday’s homemade burgers), covering the pan, just until they melted.

We served this delicious omelette on hamburger buns, spread with Kozlik’s Triple Crunch (secured on our last visit to Toronto) and topped with baby tomato slices. With a mug of hot Just Us! coffee on the side, we’re feeling pretty grateful about the whole start to today.


Summer is nearly here!

We have lived in other jurisdictions where the middle of June seems like an unlikely start to summer. It’s already been hot for ages. But here in Atlantic Canada, even when the temperature is in the 20s (70s or 80s, my Fahrenheit friends), the wind is sufficient that it rarely feels hot.

But today we had an awesome, sunny, warmish day. And so we barbecued. This is the result. Veg from our garden, except local tomatoes and spuds.


Kitchen Sink Salad 2014

We make variations of this salad all summer long, as various vegetables come into season, either in our own garden or the Farmers Market. Start with a good glug of olive oil and vinegar, and a couple of tablespoons of Dijon. Whisk those together to make a dressing.


Next, add some cooked beans or chickpeas (we made Jacob’s Cattle beans a couple of days ago) and some chopped onion (here, baby red and white ones). We had some sliced radishes as well.


Next, two or three chopped hothouse tomatoes and a good handful of chopped greens (we had spinach, baby Romaine, and Swiss chard). Toss on a few olives or anchovies and some sharp cheese or Feta for tangy goodness.


Stir together and let rest at least 10 minutes. It will keep in the fridge for two or three days, flavour improving each day.


This leaves the kitchen cool on a hot day and is quick and easy to prepare if you are busy watching the World Cup!

The guy on the right is a bad egg…

This Friday fixing of potato, onion, herbs, egg and tomato is looking good, except for the one whose yolk broke on the way into the pan…


The last day at work before launching back to the world of running my own company needs to get off to a strong start. It’s not enough that my horoscope said I was a “force of nature”; I also did 45 minutes of rowing and then got to eat this awesome breakfast. Friends and future clients, here I come!

To make this (for 2 or 4):

Cook 1/2 diced onion and two diced potatoes in a small amount 5ml or 1t) olive oil. Tip in some chopped herbs and pepper. Add a couple of spoonfuls of water and break in eggs (more carefully than I did). Surround with diced tomato and lid until eggs are cooked as you like (3-6 minutes).

Have a good one!