Karaoke, Cards and a bit of O Canada!

The 2013 100 Wrap-Up 71-80

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Last updated on February 20th, 2024 at 02:06 am

Who needs sleep?

It’s the last day of the year and time to close up shop. Zach survived A Sponsored Life, Sarah begat new life unto the world, and you know what? It’s been a solid year.

How solid, though? These last few posts should tell the tale!

The 2013 100, Items 71-80: Karaoke, Cards and a bit of O Canada!

71: Go tobogganing

You’d think I’d find a little time for tobogganing in a city with as much snow as Toronto!

It’s been a while since I hit a hill—I last snowshoed in 2011, skied in 2006, tubed in 2000, and can’t remember when I tobogganed!

I looked forward to this one, but the weather never aligned with my schedule, leaving me one bitter working-class stiff who couldn’t enjoy some thrills on the hills.

All’s not lost through—I have that Ultimate Flyer sled above on my Amazon Wish List, and I’m stoked to buy it one day. It’s one I’ll want to ride with my son as he gets a little older, able to appreciate the speed as we plow into snow banks.

I might not toboggan today. I might not do it tomorrow. But my Jove—there will. be. TOBOGGANING!!!

STATUS: On to the next year!

72: Try some new restaurants on the Danforth

In some ways, this part of the post is long overdue.

Over 2013, I realized something about the Danforth—while it has a ton of places to eat (many of them Greek), it’s a long way from hitting its Second Renaissance. I tried and revisited some spots in the East this year, like The Works, Mezes and Slider Revolution (R.I.P.)—but it doesn’t need a ton of new spots to liven things up; what neighbourhoods need are locals. Spots you feel welcome visiting, dining at and hanging out with your neighbours.

For me, that place is Morgan’s on the Danforth.

The Eats in the East: Morgan’s on the Danforth

While raised in Mississauga, I grew up on the west side of Toronto when I was old enough to start making my own decisions. A University of Toronto Schools student, the Annex was my backyard for five years. I dated, danced and dined in Bloor West Village and hit up High Park for many of my school events. I thought the west had it all, and there was no reason to cross Yonge to test the other side of town—Scarborough was over there, after all! The West was the best—why not be happy with what I had?

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The people were different, the places looked different—the hustle and bustle I knew from downtown reduced to the pitter-patter of young families; the large-scale shops, parks and landmarks of Bloor Street West reduced to miniature versions scattered through neighbourhoods along the Danforth. I thought there was nowhere to go and nothing to do.

But Morgan’s on the Danforth was one of the first things that helped me get comfortable in my newfound home.

Morgan’s on the Danforth: You Can’t Beat the East!

As the tale goes, Hot House Café owner Andrew Laffey once visited Taps & Tales—one of the older bars that the East Danforth is known for—and immediately saw potential. Within short order, they bought the spot and the first modern restopub opened its doors in East York in some time! Led by the team of

  • Andrew Laffey (owner of the Hot House Café)
  • Kevin Smith (formerly the head bartender at the Hot House Café)
  • Curt Hospedales (the Executive Chef at the Hot House Café), and
  • Peter Crabbe (Director of Operations at the Hot House Café and Morgan’s on the Danforth)

Morgan’s brings upscale dining to a changing demographic looking to whet their appetites. It’s no secret that real estate prices are slightly cheaper in the east compared to the west side of Toronto but still pricy enough to attract young urban professional families looking to establish homes they can grow in.

One of the things really helping Morgan’s to stand apart is their Head Chef Anne Sorrenti (formerly a menu consultant for the Hot House Café), who isn’t afraid to experiment with ingredients and techniques to continually improve what Morgan’s offers on its menu—last time I was there, I got to enjoy my frites with a batch of her homemade tomato ketchup (and that’s only a small example)!

When it comes to comfort food, burgers and fries are up there on my list. So, I’ve tried a ton of ’em across Toronto, and the Double Smoke is one of my favouritesIf you ever hit up Morgan’s and you love burgers, The Double Smoke is the business. I’ve been there enough times to try a number of things from the menu, but that burger keeps me coming back!

On the real, I could probably go to Morgan’s and eat a Double Smoke burger every day for the rest of my life and I’d die happy.

I’ve tried other things on the menu, and while they were good, they never quite matched up to the sheer bliss I’d feel when I had a burger and a pint. (Or stein, in the case of the excellent Steamwhistle deal they had to commemorate Oktoberfest!)

If you want to explore with beers in East York and you’re not at my house, you won’t find too many options. Fortunately, Morgan’s doesn’t rely on domestics and beers out of cans to slake the thirst of its patrons! Much like The Only Café to the west and Sarah’s Café to the east, Morgan’s offers beers directly from the casks with several delicious choices on tap. The staff is very knowledgeable about your options and beer pairings, so if you’re still a novice in selecting beers that aren’t offered at your local sports venue, this is a place you can visit without worrying about looking like a fool.

In summary—I’ll be spending much money at Morgan’s. From weekend brunch to showing guests from out of town a good time, the restaurant has so much to offer. The Danforth’s storefronts are changing to show its changing demographic, and for a transplant like me who made his way from the “safe” Canadian cuisine offered at Mississauga’s Square One Shopping Centre to the great unknown on the other side of Yonge, somewhere like Morgan’s is—pardon the cliché—my home away from home.

So don’t be scurred of the east—the east Danforth is slowly remodelling, and Morgan’s on the Danforth is a definite winner if you’re looking for a great meal at a great price.

Make sure to tell ’em I sent ya!

[Disclaimer: So my Dad, after the restaurant closed, found himself doing the bookkeeping for both the Hot House Café and Morgan’s on the Danforth.

However, while that’s how I discovered both spots, it by no means colours my opinions of the restaurants. I’m not about to hit up a crappy establishment simply because of family (shout out to the barber shop that’s never open when it should be!)

So seriously, check Morgan’s out. I’ve never had anyone I referred there come back mad! Casey out!]

73: Go to Pacific Mall

Pacific Mall is one of the worst-named venues in the GTA.

It’s years since I’ve been, but all it is is a building filled with several kiosks—think Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre when The Ex is running, just on a far smaller scale.

I used to hit it up with my “Asian Crew” in my days after high school (literally—a mix of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino kids, and then you had me), and I just wanted a return for nostalgia’s sake.

But there’s bubble tea down the street from my parents, no one buys bootleg DVDs anymore (if you do, you’re such a sucker), and I work at Yonge and Finch.

Everything that “P-Mall” has to offer, I’ve got it covered.

STATUS: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

74: Go to #LoserKaraoke

I’ve always loved karaoke. My big push to go to Pacific Mall was to get ahold of a Magic Mic—a karaoke mic pre-loaded with songs that you plug into your TV. It’s huge in the Philippines! A bunch of us used to go to a buddy’s house and sing on a Magic Mic until our voices went hoarse. I even sang in church now and then to keep the pipes fresh, always checking where my range was at.

But it’s been a while.

I’ve hit the odd karaoke bar for the odd birthday (we ever hit a bar on my bachelor party!), but my nights on the bar scene fizzles the closer I got to fatherhood.

Though I don’t see a karaoke visit in my future anytime soon, maybe down the road I’ll be like one of those cool Filipino parents, forcing their kids to sing until the sun comes up.

I hope you like singing, son!

STATUS: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

75: Watch a Raptors Game

I’m not a sports fan—coming from Toronto, where our teams are in a perpetual state of suck, I’ve never seen a reason to be one of the boys and root for our teams.

Which is why I almost didn’t go to a Toronto Raptors basketball game despite having free tickets.

This almost didn’t happen—both my best friend and my brother are MASSIVE basketball fans, and I couldn’t figure out which one I should take with me to see the Toronto Raptors with the tickets I’d won from the Ford Blue Party.

There’s a viewpoint I’ve lived by for a while, though: When I’m asked to choose A or B, I choose A and B.

So, knowing I was giving up tickets worth $200 apiece, I sucked it up, and deciding that it was for the greater good, emailed the boys…

…only to discover that neither of them could take the tickets.

Seems Rami already had tickets for the game with a friend and my brother couldn’t get the shift off from work—but he did mention that Mom was really looking to go to a Raps game—until I asked her and she was already booked for the night. I even asked Lily, but she decided to “bank my luck” for something she’d really want (which apparently worked since she won a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 only two days later).

And a good game was had by all!

So in the end, despite efforts to share the wealth, it’d be Justin and I at the Air Canada Centre, watching the Raps edge a narrow 109-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets in the last 5 seconds of the game.

I was more wrapped up trying to snap a few pics than I was getting into the game, but I still felt a pang of frustration when we lost the lead, an inkling of excitement with the back-and-forth action on the court, and a glimmer of hope when the Raps took it with that last basket.

Maybe there’s a little hope for my inner sports fan yet?

Shout-outs once more to Ford Canada for hooking the tickets up and to Justin for graciously accompanying me to the game.

But seriously — who says “no” to a $200 ticket?! C’mon, son.

STATUS: SO done.

76: Visit more of Canada—somewhere west of Windsor or east of Montreal

While I’ve travelled much of the world this past decade, I’ve seen a pathetically paltry amount of the country I call home.

Torontonians mistakenly believe they’re the centre of the universe. Ask them what Canada represents to them, and you’ll usually get a mixed description including elements of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal because those are usually the only places we’ve been!

I don’t blame my fellow urbanites, though—Canadian domestic travel is expensive. Why spend $600 on a flight to Vancouver when you can go have fun in the Cuban sun for less? Why spend 2-3 weeks travelling cross-country when you can tear through half a dozen European countries in the same time?

Canada’s got a lot going against it for travel, but it’s where I live, and I want to stop acting like there isn’t so much more of it to see.

Here’s to giving this another go in 2014!

STATUS: On to the next year!

77: Finish the thank you cards from our wedding

To anyone from my side of the wedding who hasn’t received a “thank you” card in the 2½ years we’ve been married so far—I’m sorry. This one’s totally my bad—it just got away from me.

At our wedding, everyone was so kind and generous. We reconnected with people I hadn’t seen nor heard in ages, making for a great day of 220-odd people. We honeymooned for a month in Europe, and went camping with Sarah’s family almost immediately upon our return.

But when we returned to reality and needed to knock things off of the to-do list, I soon discovered that Sarah’s way better at writing thank you cards than me.

If I’m told to do something, I’ll probably try to do anything else except that. (Kind of a stupid idea to give myself a list of 100 things to do every year, then, huh?) The thank you cards went swiftly at first, but the longer I dragged it out, the more they became my nails on a chalkboard. Now it’s so far past the time where sending them out is anything near classy that all I can do is apologize.

I love everyone who was part of our wedding in any way, shape or form, and this is one that’ll probably haunt me for a while yet.

STATUS: Sadly, ain’t nobody got time for that!

78: Clear out my Google Reader

I was going to sort out my RSS reader, but Google went and shut Google Reader down in July. So, hey.

STATUS: SO done.

I don’t think anyone uses RSS readers much anymore, anyway. Shout-out to feedly, though. You tried.

79: Create a personal budget

Fortunately, I married someone who loves planning, going as far as to create a monthly budget with a designated stipend for discretionary income. It’s the first time in my life I’ve operated this way, but if that’s what it takes to stack cash for the future, I’m down with it.

STATUS: SO done.

80: Learn how to develop a site using a UI kit

I’m not a web designer—I mean, sure, dabble now and then, and I can find my way around HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript, but it’s not like I’m trying to master the art or anything—I just like creating things.

Late into 2012, I started getting familiar with UI kits—kits of user interface elements (like numbers for clocks, switches for sliders, etc.) that make your workflow faster and enable cleaner design.

While cool and all, I quickly discovered later into 2013 that someone in my place is often better off investing in creating killer content than I am fretting over its packaging, because let’s face it—our users aren’t locked to desktop browsers anymore! There are the mobile users. Tablet users. Users with screens so wide they’d fit two of yours.

If you spend all your time working on beautiful blog design, you’ll have none left to fill that blog, and I’m a far better blogger than web designer.

STATUS: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Well, I don’t intend to spend my whole last day wrapping my blog up, but there are only 2 posts and 21 hours left to go in 2013, so I’ll…

Blog hard or die trying!

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

Check out all the posts in The 2013 100!


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