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Living in The Big Smoke: Toronto.

Last weekend was a busy one but it was a GOOD busy that makes me appreciate what Toronto has to offer. The opportunity of living in Paris last year has taught me to take advantage of the plethora of events that a big city can give. We were saddened to leave after a year because there was still so much to tick off our “to see/do” list in the City of Lights. So back in The Big Smoke, I am making an effort to attend some Toronto activities, starting with: Culture Days.

Creating stuffed hearts from paper designed by the artist herself. The kids were thrilled.

This 3-day event is in its third year and runs coast-to-coast in Canada, for the promotion of arts and cultural events in one’s own community. It is free to the public. Last Friday, the kids and I went to a “soft sculpture” workshop, led by local artist Renata Janiszewska. It was a great way for us to meet the artist in person, see her work, and do a bit of crafting ourselves with her patient guidance. Inspiring.

“Green Invaders” by Yves Caizergues (he’s from Lyon, France!) at Nuit Blanche. I feel nostalgic…

The next evening, we joined thousands of “flâneurs” (no, not true really, because many of us had maps and knew where to go) after sundown to be entertained at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche (=White Night), the free all-night arts festival. We attended our first Nuit Blanche in Paris last year and found it to be a curious walkabout throughout the city into the world of contemporary art, which my husband found painful to his classic senses. (My man is supportive since he did come out with us again, although his key mantra for this outing was: “Are we ready to be disappointed?!”)

Outside “Body Xerox,” which looks and sounds like a nightclub. (The artists are from Germany and has taken this project through Europe and L.A.)

But when you go inside, you find photocopiers creating the disco lighting. (Perhaps a pun on “Body Electric?”) The kids took souvenir copies of their hands to take home.

But the magnitude of people (including young families) on the streets looking for entertainment was exhilarating and encouraging. My son was especially drawn to the magnetism of the crowds. Our first impression of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche left us with that same excited feeling like last year. What will we find? What does it mean? For a one hour stroll, we hit about 10 venues of art in the downtown core. We will definitely be back next year.

“BRDGLab” appears to be a topographical reinterpretation of Toronto made of heavy-duty cardboard tubing, mini movable lights and clear plastic stakes. Too cool.

And now for something completely different. By some weird quirky incidence of time and place, I found myself with mom-friends processing 2 large bushels of very ripe tomatoes for over 10 hours this past Sunday.

We’re processing how many tomatoes?! It’s way more than it looks.

I have never made tomato sauce before but I can honestly say it was a lot of work, which luckily involved some wine (or whine in my case) and potato chips intermissions. Okay, it’s not necessarily a Toronto-sponsored activity but the tomatoes were purchased in a Toronto grocery store and processed in a Toronto home, by Toronto moms. It felt similar to the experience of making croissants in Paris: I’m not sure I’d do it again because of all the work and time involved but it was a fun and interesting process to learn. I am all cultured out…

We must have roasted at least 25 trays of tomatoes. Thanks to Josette and Kerri for expertise and the big kitchen!

Bravo!! A nice and tasty way to end my culture weekend.

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