Monthly Archives: September 2011

the friday files


Don’t these look like the perfect rooms to escape to on a wet Autumn weekend?

I just started a new book two nights ago by the much celebrated first-time novelist Chad Harbach called The Art of Fielding and I’m dying to do nothing more than just curl up on the sofa and read it from start to finish. That and begin thinking about Thanksgiving which for us Canadians is next weekend. I know, already!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Image credits:

William Waldron
Filed under the friday files

52 objects – no. 39


If any of you saw this article in the Style section of The Globe and Mail last Saturday than you might have noticed the black leg of this dresser poking out from the corner. It’s a part of my bedroom, I’ve never shown you before. (I know, hard to believe there’s a corner of my house you haven’t seen!)

Object number thirty-nine…

Filed under fifty-two objects

the best – apple cake


Last weekend we joined a few other families and went apple picking. Apparently luring city folk out to the countryside to take part in rural pastimes is big money. We knew we were in trouble when we encountered not one but four parking attendants telling us exactly where to park our car so as to get as many cars into the football field sized parking lots as possible. Once we cleared the gate and handed over our $20 in admission price we experienced what can only be described as pandemonium. It quite honestly was every parent’s nightmare; with candy shacks and pony rides and petting zoos and hay mazes it was impossible to keep a child from running to and fro. And with so many hyped up little ones, it only took a second for you to lose track of your own child. Vigilante parenting was the only way to survive this idyllic country adventure.

I have to admit once we boarded the wagons and headed out to the orchards the experience got better. We picked primarily silken and royal gala apples, the former which I had never heard of before. Both are crunchy, sweet apples with a bit of tartness to them that makes them perfect for eating. Of course, once you start picking apples it is hard to stop and before long we were loaded down with bags and bags of apples.

The most obvious thing to do with apples is bake pie but I’m one of those people that actually doesn’t  like pie, particularly apple. (I’ll maybe eat a peach pie or a strawberry rhubarb but the others I’ll happily pass on.) What I do like is a nice rustic, loaf-like cake that you wouldn’t feel guilty eating in the morning for breakfast. I found the perfect recipe in Anna del Conte’s Torta di Mele which is an apple cake made with olive oil. Nigella Lawson has a version of it in her book, How To Be a Domestic Goddess:Baking and the Art of Comfort Food called Apple and Walnut cake but I stuck to the original recipe.

Torta di Mele – adapted from Anna del Conte

100g sultanas
75mL of water
150 mL of pure olive oil
200g caster sugar (that’s granulated sugar)
2 large eggs
350g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon (I used cardamom instead)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
450g peeled, cored eating apples cut into small cubes
zest of 1 lemon

20 cm springform pan – buttered and floured – (I lined mine with parchment paper.)

Put the sultanas and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, letting the sultanas plump up. Now preheat the oven to 350F.

Beat the oil and sugar together in a bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating until it looks like a light mayonnaise. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, folding with a spoon. Then stir in the apples, lemon zest, and drained sultanas. Smooth the fairly stiff batter into the springform pan and bake for 1 hour, poking it was a cake tester to see if it is done. You do not want to overbake this cake.

Let the cake stand for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Anna advises leaving the cake a day before eating (once cold, wrap it very well in foil) but that can be hard to do! I found a little smear of salted butter added to the cake almost like you would do a piece of banana bread was the final finishing touch.

The lesson to be learned from our apple picking experience is to choose your venue wisely. By the time, we got back to our cars a few hours later we were all mentally and physically exhausted. Our lazy Sunday in the country picking apples was far from what we imagined it would be! However, you can’t beat the taste of those first, fresh apples off of the tree.

Since I still have loads of apples, I’d love to hear other ways they could be used up. Just stay away from the pie recipes – unless you think you can convince me!


Filed under in the night kitchen, the best

hello!neighbor – ginger


I was introduced to Ginger through an acquaintance who thought I should see her house. Seeing houses sight unseen, is not unlike going on a blind date, you’re never quite sure what your getting yourself into. I showed up one hot August morning and was welcomed into a home that made my heart skip a beat. I was in love.

After a quick tour of this house, we hopped on some bikes we found in her garage and rode over to Ginger’s new house, 53 Indian Grove. That’s right, this isn’t Ginger’s home anymore. She’s moved on to a place nearby that is brimming with stories and history. Amidst construction debris and people busy working we toured her new home. I felt a little like Alice down the rabbit hole. Could a world like this really exist? Perched high on a hill, surrounded by gnarly old trees, Ginger started to tell me the story of her new house. How she came to own it and what she found when she stepped inside. The previous owners, George and Harry Mills had lived there for over 80 years and left a home overflowing with documents and artefacts. (They hauled 11 constructions bins away.)  There’s no doubt that the house was in a state of despair (vines were growing inside the kitchen) but the narrative of these two brothers and the world they left behind was only more reason for Ginger to love the house.

It couldn’t have fallen into better hands. Ginger has spent time documenting the pre-construction state of her home with photographs and text. It’s a testament to her passion for “home” making. Ginger obviously has a deep respect for the patina of history yet is not afraid to layer her own contemporary life into the mix.  In time, I hope I’ll get a chance to show you 53 Indian Grove as well. (For photos and videos of 53 Indian Grove - please check the links at the end of this post.)

For now, enjoy this tour!

Name: Ginger Sorbara

Occupation: Designer

How long have you lived in your home?

Just over 6 years.

Any kids or pets?

We have three kids, a dog and several insects.

Which room do you spend the most time in? Why?

Hmm… probably my office, but I wish it were the kitchen or the bedroom.

How did you end up living in Parkdale/High Park?

It was an accident. We found the right house at the right time for the right price. Just before finding 118 I told my husband that I’d never move to the west end… And now, like so many people living here, I wouldn’t live anywhere else, not for long anyway. High Park has an established greatness, but it is also in the process of becoming. The next ten years will be among the most exciting for the area and I am very much looking forward to being part of it.

What is your favorite moment/object in your home?

I love my piano. I just started taking lessons; it is a baby grand that sits in the middle of the space goading me into playing whenever I pass. I also love my bath. I won’t explain it you’ll just have to try it.

What influences you? Where do you get your inspiration from?

People, movies, art, architecture and literature, and industrial design all inspire me. When it comes to art and culture I have a serious wondering eye. I enjoy it all, the good the bad and the ugly. I love looking back at design, style and fashion; how our tastes change and morph says a lot about who we are and what we aspire to.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

Rome, London, and Montreal (my sister, the rock-star lives in London (dragonette), and my other amazing sister lives in Montreal), and Rome is my home away from home. While I like going to new places, I also enjoy returning to my old loves, layering new experiences on old, and building up a “patina” of history in these places. I guess I have a fascination with “home” and like to build them wherever I go.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and loved it; he makes my toes curl with the hyperrealist cultural mirror he builds in front of the reader. Amazing. Currently Simone de Bouvoir’s She Came To Stay is in early progress along with The Blood of Other’s by the same author, so far so good. Always wish there was more time to read…more time.

Can you tell us a little bit about your new house. How you found it? Your plans for it?

It’s hard to say a little about the new house as it takes up so much of my time and mental energy. I found it 6 years ago, we had just arrived in the area, and I felt like I was cheating on the house I had just moved into. 53 Indian is just a few blocks over and I passed it every day on my walk. It wasn’t the most beautiful house, neither was it the easiest to get along with…no driveway, big ominous trees, a failing roof, it was a total mess, but it had great potential and I wanted to rescue it. So after “cheating” on Howard Park for almost 6 years, a relationship I dearly loved despite my infidelity, we bought 53 Indian in February of 2008. 53 Indian has a rich cultural and social history thanks to the previous owners, George and Harry Mills, who lived there for over eighty years, their social conscience, their intellectual curiosity, love of music, and creativity, are still inspiring.

To see images and video of 53 Indian click on the following links:

Drew Lightfoot (director) – Brian Borcherdt- While I Was Asleep, filmed at 53 Indian.

Find a copy of the amazing and local art and photography Magazine Poor but Sexy, with stunning…

Photography & Direction: Seed9
Hair & Make up: Lori-Ann Lazary
Styling: Jessica Albano
Models: Christina & Daniel – Elite
shot at 53 Indian check it out.

Also visit the web gallery of 53 Indian pre-construction at:

Greg Pacek

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.


Filed under hello! neighbor