When I learned that Judith, who blogs as The Style Crone, was going to be in Toronto for a few days while her partner spoke at a conference, of course I booked a day off work for a blogger adventure! Suzanne Carillo was able to join us, and together, we three (blogging) amigos set out to cram as much fun as possible into the few hours we had together. We met at the Fluevog Store in Toronto's historic Distillery District, where the photo above was taken.
Just look at these two gorgeous dames! I have spent time with each of them separately, but this was the first time the three of us were able to get together, and I was the sombre-coloured, hat-less one between two rainbows.
We spent a while taking photos and chatting in the Fluevog Store (a big thank you to the staff for letting us use their store as a rendezvous point and a photo backdrop). I have always loved the colours and styles of Fluevogs but I've never been able to find a style that is comfortable on my feet. That didn't stop me from admiring them though. Suzanne was particularly enamoured with the black and white lace-ups.
The Distillery Historic District, which opened in 2003, is a unique collection of shops, services, restaurants, and event spaces located in the Victorian Industrial buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery in Toronto, Ontario. Original and modern materials were used to restore the 47 buildings in the Distillery and the result is a delightful pedestrian-friendly space with art installations, patios, cafes and cool boutiques.
The three of us posed for a photo with one of the large outdoor art installations. It was sunny, but the wind made it chilly and necessary for Suzanne to hold onto her hat.
There are a number of outdoor art installations in the area that are changed periodically. The steel and lumber "Padlock Love" piece in the photo above was installed in 2014. Lovers continue to add their Love locks to the piece (if they can find room).
If there is a millinery shop close by, and you are with someone who is as big a hat aficionado as Judith, you must pay a visit. The Saucy Milliner is owned by Kelly Dunlap, who unfortunately was on the east coast at the time of our visit, but her lovely assistants made us feel very welcome and graciously allowed us to try on, and photograph some of Dunlap's beautiful creations.
I don't think that Judith is ever happier than when she is surrounded by hats - just look at that smile!
I really liked this photo I took of Suzanne trying on a studded beret style hat; the colour was beautiful with her hair.
Although I quite liked the black fur felt studded one in the bottom right, I ended up taking home the striped raffia one in the top photo which is going to be my summer statement hat this year. Judging from these photos, I appear to have a "trying on hats face".
After the hat shop (trying on hats works up an appetite), it was time to get something to eat, and we decided to try El Catrin, the Mexican restaurant in The Distillery District. The first thing that strikes you is the fabulously colourful decor. One wall is covered in a jaw-dropping mural depicting Dia de los Muertos images (top photo) that took three Mexican artists almost 100 days to paint, the floor is covered with Mexican tiles, and there are groups of amazing shadow boxes that each tell a story.
The section we sat in was backed by this floor-to-ceiling perforated metal screen depicting El Catrin and La Catrina. Unfortunately, we were too busy enjoying our food and conversation to take any photos of us. The guacamole, made fresh at the table, was delicious and I had an excellent classic Margarita. We also had the Baja Tacos, which were quite good. They have a huge heated patio which I'm sure is packed during the summer.
Fortified by food and drink, we explored more of the shops, including a collection of artist studios located in one of the buildings. We found a lovely shop called Lilith's Garden which was full of handmade clothing and accessories.
I purchased this fabric and leather cuff at Lilith's Garden
We had time to explore a few more shops, including the SOMA Chocolate shop where I downed a shot of their Maya drinking chocolate, which is flavoured with chili peppers, orange peel, ginger and spices. That kept me going for the rest of the day!
Before long Judith had to leave us to catch a GO Train and Suzanne and I headed to the closest Salvation Army Thrift store (all the stores had 50% off everything that day). When you're hardcore thrift shoppers, you will take any opportunity to squeeze in a quick fix. I found some cool stuff including an embroidered tunic top and a velvet dress, and spent a grand total of $20. Our thrifting craving satisfied, we decided to explore Queen Street West.
I neglected to get the name of the packed-to-the-rafters store with this lamp in the window, but the lamp definitely wins my personal "So weird it's Awesome" home decor object award.
This Chinese (?) carved boat was in another antique shop and the creative spelling on the sign entertained me almost as much as the boat itself.
We managed to end up in yet another Fluevog Store. In 2015 the Queen Street West store moved from their original location to a much larger space which was formerly the home of a National Bank. The bank vault was turned into the "World's first ever, gravity-defying Vog Vault". Of course, we had to test it out....
A good blogger is never afraid to look ridiculous for the sake of a good photo
This is what the Vault actually looks like. One of the staff kindly offered to take these photos of us, and suggested some poses, as we were having difficulty trying to figure out what would work.
The same woman who took our photo told me she had found my Instagram and couldn't believe I did not own a single pair of Fluevogs. When I explained to her about my foot issues and that I have never found a pair of their shoes that fit me, she made it her personal mission to find me a pair that fit. We found two pairs that fit relatively well, but I didn't love them. When she brought out these amazing boots, I knew they wouldn't fit just by looking at them, but I squeezed my foot into them just for a photo. The two-colour wedge heel, the zipper; I was cursing my bunions and my large feet!
We just had enough time before i had to get to the bus station to stuff ourselves with some yummy pierogis from Loaded Pierogi on Queen Street West. It was a perfect end to a wonderful day. I've said it before and I'll say it again; blogger meetups are the best!