Contrast Living

When Contrast Living opened its doors in Parkdale in April 2015 I was ecstatic, finally a super fun (affordable) shop that I can rely on when I need something little for a family or friends’ birthday. When I first went into the store I noticed right away that it was so much more than a cute little gift shop. They also sell vintage/retro furniture and lighting as well as some very cool handmade one-of-a-kind stools.

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Beautiful Beet Salad

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There have been so many beautiful local vegetables (and flowers) at the farmers market over the past few weeks.  I’ve started to cook some veggies that I’ve never made before,  beets and cabbage to name a few. I ‘googled’ beets until I found a few recipes that sounded good, combined them, and added a few ingredients. I’ve made this a couple of times now and think it’s perfected and ready to share. Thankfully we made it to the market this morning before the rain started. Then as Morris and I were stuck inside all afternoon, it was a perfect time to make and enjoy this salad, which is, by the way, Morris approved!

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Ingredients:

4 Large beets

1 small purple onion (chopped)

2-3 cloves of garlic (chopped)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons of feta cheese (crumbled)

balsamic vinegar

freshly ground pepper

Fill medium pot with water, bring water to a boil. Cut off greens and roots from the beets. Cut into 8 pieces each (do not peel). Add beets and boil until soft to fork (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat olive olive in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Put the mixture in a bowl and refrigerate until cooled. Toss in crumbled feta cheese.

Once beets are soft to fork, strain and rinse them under cold water, then allow them to cool fully. Peels will easily rub off.

Arrange beets on a serving dish. Top with onion, garlic, and feta cheese mixture. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Season with freshly ground pepper. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

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Forever Interiors

When we moved to the neighbourhood a few years ago, Forever Interiors was one of the first stores that caught our eye and it was the first store that I thought of when I decide to start this blog. I was really excited to sit down with the owner, Martin, to hear the story of how this unique independent business got started. When I reached out to Martin, and asked to interview him, his response, “Sounds like fun, it would be my pleasure!”, pretty much sums up his laid-back, friendly personality.

Forever Interiors opened its doors 10 years ago last month. Up until then Martin had worked in advertising, but when the company he was working for laid off most of their employees he accepted his brother’s invitation to open a vintage furniture store together. Martin ended up opening the store on his own and quickly realized that he did not want to continue just selling vintage items. After acquiring some old doors he thought he would try his hand at designing furniture. He designed storage benches out of the doors and hired a carpenter to make them a reality.

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From there Martin started designing media cabinets as well as coffee and dining room tables. As a result he started doing quite a bit of work with restaurants, “because restaurants need tables” he joked. Many restaurants and stores in the area (and across Toronto) house Forever Interior items (Indie Ale House, Cantina, and Gerhard to name a few).

All the wood he uses is reclaimed. Martin explained that the wood is mostly Douglas Fir from BC, brought to Ontario at the turn of the Century when Vancouver was being developed. At this time trains were taking items to Vancouver and because the trains couldn’t drive back to Ontario at full speed if they were empty, the trains were filled with lumber. “At first it seemed preposterous” Martin said, “why would anyone bring trees to a place already full of trees, but it turned out it made all the sense in the world because one of their tress equaled about 30 of ours, so they were bringing us lumber that we couldn’t possibly have had here”.

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Recently Martin bought all the leftover material from an upholstery store that was leaving the area. He partnered with a seamstress, Lola, and together they are making bags, pillows, and their newest item- wine gift bags. “Its again making use of material that otherwise…I don’t know what would be of it”. The purses are really cute and come in different sizes, I may have purchased one as soon as I finished my interview.. and by “may” I mean did.  I’m also heading back to buy a cushion or two this weekend.

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Hottest items in the store right now are the “pew boards”- chalkboards made from the back of church pews, and the wine racks.  You should also head to Forever Interiors if you’re in the market for a kitchen island or cart.

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This was my first interview, I hope you enjoyed reading about the store as much as I enjoyed interviewing Martin and writing this story.  I am having fun and plan to keep blogging around the Junction and Parkdale.  Any feedback whether positive or negative is always welcome and can only help make this blog better for me and you… so please don’t hesitate to comment below.