It’s been an interesting perspective to look back on each birthday I’ve had since running I Heart Hamilton. Life has changed so much for me, people come and go, and each year has been significant to my own journey. I’ve celebrated with different people each year, and each one was fun. Birthdays are a good time for reflecting and taking stock in how far you’ve come. One thing’s for sure, I love birthdays and always make them super festive for myself!
Last year, in the spirit of I Heart Hamilton, I started the tradition of the birthday tour. Really, I want to plan more days like this just for the fun of it, but I highly recommend it on your birthday. Treat yourself!
With my partner in crime, Kristin Lee B, we brainstormed our itinerary and set out for a fun day on the town. It rained quite a bit, but that only added to our adventure.
You know me – I love breakfast. The best way to start the day was at the adorable Auntie Boom’s on Ottawa Street. The cheery diner is right up my alley. I arrived with a pink balloon, which we carried around with us all day (another thing I highly recommend doing).
The staff is always so lovely and welcoming at Auntie Boom’s; you feel right at home. While we dug in, we chatted with our server and learned about some burlesque events that were coming up. Glamour in the Hammer presented “Great Canadian Burlesque” at Auntie Boom’s that weekend, which included dinner and show. It must have been amazing in that 50’s style space – something to look out for another time.
We also learned that Glamour in the Hammer teamed up with local pole dance and fitness boutique Brass Bombshells for burlesque workshops. They recently had a “Make & Shake! Pastie Workshop” and another one is to be announced for June 14th. Talking with our server, we had a great chat about female empowerment and confidence, and we Kristin’s agreed that this would definitely be something to push us outside of our comfort zones. Look out, world!
After a fantastic start to the day (and presents – KB really spoiled me!) it was off to Burlington for our next destination – Royal Botanical Gardens. There were only a few days remaining to view the exhibit “Frogs: A Chorus of Colours.” These little critters are just fascinating – colourful and cute (and in some cases, deadly). Kristin B and I had a laugh over my comment, “Animals are so Zen.” But they really are – it always makes me feel instantly peaceful to be around animals and nature. It’s a nice reminder to just slow down and exist.
It worked out well that it was a rainy day because it made things feel extra tropical as we walked around the exhibit. There was more to see than just our ‘ribbiting’ friends – we also watched an informative talk featuring some turtles and snakes, which was led by my friend Jackson Hudecki.
From there, we stayed in Burlington and headed over to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe. It was a good call on Kristin B’s part to bring me there – she knows me well! It wouldn’t be a birthday without cake. It’s an absolute dream in there – look at those cupcakes! So fluffy and perfect. It was a tough call to decide on a flavour (but all the more reason to return). The staff, being friends with Kristin B and hearing that it was my birthday, surprised me with some of their delicious soft serve ice cream, complete with candle on top. So cute!
Kelly’s is run by mother/daughter duo Kelly Childs and Erinn Weatherbie. All of their treats are made with wholesome and natural ingredients; as it says on their site: “only organic, fair-trade ingredients, including natural colours sourced from flower petals. Natural flavours include organic cocoa, applesauce, lemons, peppermint oil, espresso beans, agave and coconut.” Their baked goods are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, butter-free, casein-free, vegan and peanut-free… and most importantly, delicious.
I should also point out that Kristin B and I are wearing matching Great Gatsby shirts that we got at one of our favourite local shops, Girl on the Wing! Yes, we coordinated.
Next it was over to one more Burlington stop, Anise Apothecary. The boutique is so dreamy and gives off positive, peaceful vibes right away. They carry really hip clothing and accessories, along with beauty, perfume, and skin care items, focusing on natural, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly products.
I bought a slender silver ring with a little heart on it, a nice birthday gift to myself, and I’ve worn it every day since. It’s fitting for me here at I Heart Hamilton, and also serves as a nice reminder to radiate love, always. I look forward to scoping out the shop again.
Now, it wouldn’t be an adventure for us Kristin’s without some record shopping. This year we’ve really got serious about building our record collections and even dabbled into DJing. (Follow us at Kristin A/B). We headed to downtown Hamilton to hit up Cheapies. It’s always overwhelming to walk into the record store because immediately you just want all the vinyl that you see. All of the vinyl!
We had a good peruse and in the end I left with The Strokes’ classic debut Is This It (something I would love to spin in a future set) and Tame Impala’s Lonerism. Kristin B and I would later go on to see Tame Impala in May at Massey Hall – such a phenomenal show.
After a quick wardrobe change, it was time for a fancy dinner out at Brux House. Shout out to our friend Kevin Delaney for making the experience extra festive, and Jacklyn Warmington for the champagne, so sweet! Kevin also concocted a new drink for us to try, in the style of a hot toddy, with pear brandy and thyme. We felt very classy.
We had ourselves a feast. Brux House always has specials along with their fixed menu, so we had a lot to choose from. We shared the cauliflower appetizer that we had been hearing so much about and we absolutely loved the pomegranate molasses for dipping. Next up, we shared a few more dishes including a kale salad and an eggplant dish. Kristin B is vegan and they were able to accommodate it all for her, which was fantastic. Everything was delicious!
Of course, Brux House is known for its impressive and ever-changing beer selection, and what better way to sample it than with their beer flight (three smaller glasses of beer on a cute little wooden platter). We trusted Kevin and his expertise to chose three beers to pair with each of our main dishes.
We were so super full, but Kristin B coaxed me into dessert. With a Belgian Waffle and ice cream on the menu, I don’t know what I was thinking! It capped off the meal just right.
I’d say I outdid myself this birthday! It was a day full of treats, good vibes, and new discoveries. Huge thanks to Kristin B for being such an amazing friend and ringing in my new year with me. Onward and upward from here!