2016

The media keeps lamenting 2016, but looking back through my photos, it looks like I had a good year. And for that, I am thankful. No complaints here! Also – I don’t remember what happened more than 2 months ago.. so this recap is also a fun reflection exercise (/thank goodness I take a lot of photos on my phone). Here we go, 12 months, 12 photos.

In January, I went on a cruise with these delightful folks, and it was one of the best vacations I have ever been on! We went (pretend) ring shopping. We drank lots of fancy coffees. We watched game shows. We ate too much food. And we took lots of photos. Let’s do it again soon!

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In February, I participated in my first of many (12!) craft shows this year. I won’t include toooo many craft show photos in the rest of this recap, but they were all fun and different in their own way! I got to meet people who would tell me that they follow me on Instagram (aw shucks!) and connect with fellow creatives in the city (so many new friends who are so cool I cannot even comprehend).

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In March, I started helping out with the youth at my church. At first, I was overwhelmed. And then we went to No Other Name (a 1-day youth conference) and I was even more overwhelmed. But now, I love them. They keep me young (and simultaneously make me feel old).

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In April, I finally visited Jocelyn in Hamilton! I always thought it was a nothing city, not really worth visiting. But I regret waiting so long to visit! They have a dedicated calligraphy store and awesome food. ‘Nuff said.

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In April, I visited Almonte to be in my first Cheerfully Made market. It was possibly one of my best shows of the year, other than the Etsy show! Also this sign changes colours and is mega cool so I took a picture with it, hehh.

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In June, I graduated!!! I miss Kingston, but boy, I do not miss school. Okay, just a little bit.

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In July, I picked strawberries with Kaitlyn. This was probably my first Canada Day in a while not going downtown.. but it was so chill and fun! Totally recommend it.

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In August, I worked. Well, most months I did. But I also said goodbye to some PHAC friends this month. I learned more about the Kardashians from them than I ever thought I could know.

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In September, I did my first ever 2-day show. I didn’t even know it was a 2-day show until about a month before, hahaha. I clearly did not read the contract clearly, heh. Busiest and most crowded show I’ve ever seen. But thankfully I had wonderful helpers to help me survive the busy BUSY crowds. Oh. I also forgot to bring my cash float (cue panic attack) on day 2.. thankfully my friends of Sadie & June lent me money to get me going. Aaaand this is why it is good to have friends :)

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In October, my MPH friends and I reunited for a wine touring weekend (where I stopped drinking after 2 wineries cause I’m a lightweight like that). We also made a spur of the moment decision to go to Kingston for homecoming weekend to see Walk Off The Earth! So fun.

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In November, I went to Toronto for a friend’s engagement party and got to experience and explore downtown Toronto. The weather was perfect for just wandering all day. My brother and I also hunted for coffee beans in Kensington Market to fuel his new hipster obsession.

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In December, I went to Montreal to escape Ottawa (actually, Jethro just had to use up some vacation days). Got to catch up with David and Jenna who I do not see often enough anymore!

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And so so many other wonderful things this year. I purposely didn’t share food photos, though I do have lots of those. I can’t decide if I should commit to eating out less this year, or eating out more. Either way, it’s going to be great.

xo,

stephkoanie

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Hamilton is bigger than I thought!

Last weekend I visited Jocelyn in Hamilton. Kind of a weird weekend to visit, but it was the only weekend that worked for the both of us! I had promised that I would visit some time in the 3 years that she has been studying at McMaster University… so of course I chose the last weekend she was still in town, as she was studying for her licensing exam.

My very first impression of Hamilton is that it is much bigger than I thought! I thought it was a similar size to Kingston, but the streets are much bigger and the buildings taller. It’s not a big city by any means, but definitely bigger than Kingston and its one downtown street (Princess Street).

I drove all day Friday, and got to Hamilton in the evening, so we went to grab a late dinner at Bread Bar. I got the I am Canadian pizza, and Jocelyn got the umami burger. We split the two, and both were EXCELLENT. I actually don’t know why I ordered the Canadian pizza, because I always worry about pizzas being too sweet. But in the end, it was the perfect balance of sweet and salty! Perfection. If I were to go again, I would try their loaded fries — they looked SO GOOD. Sorry no pictures because I was way too hungry. But the food was good enough that I wanted to talk about it anyway :)

On Saturday, after a slow morning at Jocelyn’s (I went to the gym, we had brunch, we each showered), we headed to Locke Street so Jocelyn could get some studying in, and I could explore the businesses in the area.

I got a latte at Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe (no latte art – a little disappointed), designed a couple cards and sketched some custom calligraphy designs. It was a super productive couple of hours for me. GREAT place to work. Spacious, good coffee, outlets, and wifi. I’m still trying to find my coffee shop of choice in Ottawa!

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After a couple of hours of work, I got a little antsy, so I went off to explore Locke Street as Jocelyn continued to study. I loved all the little local shops on the street. But especially Canoe, and Lulu & Lavigne. I was hoping to visit Quills, but unfortunately they weren’t open on Saturday.

I especially loved the card wall at Canoe. Maybe one day I’ll see my Simply Steph Ko cards alongside some of my favourite card designers?

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Afterwards, we met up with Isabel to go to the Farmers Market for pokeh and ice cream! At Pokeh Bar, I got a spicy pokeh (ahi tuna, spicy mayo, soy sauce/sesame oil, onions, cucumbers, spicy sesame seeds) with mango (for some tang), nori (for some salt), and taro chips (for some crunch). It was delicious and surprisingly filling! Totally recommend, and I’m still thinking about it. I want more!

We also got ice cream from Henry Brown’s – I got vietnamese coffee + hong kong milk tea. The vietnamese coffee flavour was SO GOOD. It’s close to rivalling the almond cookie flavour ice cream I had in NYC a couple years ago as my favourite ice cream. I love ice cream.

Hamilton is known as the waterfall capital of the world, with over 100 waterfalls in and around the city. So after our early dinner, Jocelyn and I went to hike Tiffany and Sherman Falls. The falls are only a couple minutes away, making them super accessible. The hike to Tiffany Falls was short, very short. Like less than 10 minutes short. But hey I’m not complaining. The hike to Sherman Falls was a little longer and you have to cross a couple roads to get there. But it’s still a relatively easy hike. Both hikes were just beautiful!

On Sunday, before I left, we went back to Locke Street to see if Quills was open.. and they were! Hoorah! They were away for a show in Toronto for Friday and Saturday, and were back unpacking the store. I felt totally at home chatting about calligraphy supplies and master penmen. Before I left, I picked up a jar of Dr. P.H. Martin’s bleedproof white ink, and a palette of Finetec golds. I’ve been seriously on the fence about buying these two online and dishing out the extra money for shipping + exchange rate, but thank goodness we stumbled upon Quills!

I would live in Hamilton, just to be able to hang out at Quills, and to learn calligraphy from Phyllis, resident calligrapher extraordinaire. I did not get to meet Phyllis, but I did get to admire her work  and chat with James and Jenn, who are totally super helpful and easy to talk to.

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I loved all of the local flavour that I experienced in Hamilton, and I would definitely visit again. I can’t believe it took me so long! Just about everything we did supported local businesses, and I love that about a place. Hamilton, you are beautiful.

Looking forward to more weekend trips this summer!

xo,

stephkoanie