The things you find in your coat pockets when there’s a two year old with a fire engine fetish in the house.
We’re now proud owners of a DJI Phantom Quadcopter, complete with GoPro mount. Expect to see all kinds of cool aerial shots in our videos soon.
I used to carry a Ricoh GR Digital II as a pocket and street photography camera. While it was a great camera when it came out, with a number of features specifically tailored for the street and architectural photographer, by today’s standards it is getting slow. Low light especially is a challenge for this little camera.
Shots taken with the Ricoh.
Enter the replacement: A Sony RX-100. So far, I am extremely impressed. Flawless RAW shooting, beautiful F1.8 Zeiss lens, a huge sensor (for a pocket camera, near micro 4/3s territory), this small camera gives low end DSLRs a run for the money. As far as size is concerned, it pretty much matches the Ricoh. Both are small enough to slip in the front pocket of a pair of jeans.
I considered selling the Ricoh, but in the end I decided to keep using it. It offers a number of features I really like that haven’t ever been matched by any other camera: Snap Focus, which is essentially a focus preset with no discernable shutter lag, the ability to switch off the viewfinder screen completely, allowing for total stealth shooting, screen can be set to preview in b/w and my absolute favourite: a square preset, my favourite shooting format.
GSP planning for the next three years at Volunteer Toronto, developing a Board Training strategy, there’s always something new to do.
One of the things I love about Cafe Pamenar on Augusta, our local coffee shop: The water comes nicely flavoured.
Just stumbled across these scans from a roll of HP5 I took last year with an old Pentax K1000. One of my favourite camera/film combinations.
I’ve always liked the gang at El Trompo, the little Mexican restaurant on Augusta Avenue that pretty much started the influx of Latin American businesses. Their tacos are simple, home made and the hospitality can’t be beat.
We got these for our guided video tours we produce for the Princess Margaret Home Lottery prize homes. These are leftovers, we’re currently trying to come up with a clever use for them.
I recently went back to pen and notebook vs. taking notes on my iPad or Nexus. Turns out that taking notes by hand leads to significantly higher memory retention than taking notes by typing. If you want to remember, or recall, the content of a note, write it, don’t type it.
I haven’t seen any research that compares writing on a screen vs writing on paper and the resulting recall, but if it exists, I’d be interested in reading it.
If I need screen backup, my Nexus 7 fits perfectly against the back of a standard Moleskine notebook.
You’re not the CEO of a startup, you’re running a small business. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, either.
From Plenty, my new go-to vegetarian cookbook. Cauliflower, smoked mozzarella, eggs, sour creme, chives and smoked paprika.
When I first moved to London as a green 21 year old graphic designer, I was lucky enough to snag a job as a junior Art Director at Ogilvy & Mather. I had arrived in London six months earlier, with all my earthly belongings stuffed in a duffle bag and £600 in my back pocket.
It was the best possible introduction into the world of advertising anybody could hope for. I was being paid a pittance, but I worked in Soho Square, right in the heart of London. Next to Madison Avenue, this was the centre of the marketing universe. Then as now O&M was great at training people and even today I still make use of lessons learned all these years ago.
The office was located on Rumor had it that the building had a history as a brothel in Edwardian days.
Part of the gaggle of young talent at O&M was Rory Sutherland, a recent Cambridge graduate, scarily bright and working in the planning department. Rory’s uniform, then as now, consisted of a tweed jacket, a silk cravatte and a constantly glowing pipe.
We worked, laughed and drank together for three years. I left O&M for another Soho agency when they moved further east in search of cheaper rent and larger spaces; I wasn’t ready to leave the Bar Italia or the Dog and Duck behind.
Rory stayed at O&M and steadily climbed the ranks. I moved from agency to agency and did the same, ending up as the Creative Director and Director of Broadcast for the Banner Corporation, an agency within the Y&R network back in London; now as one of the principals of my own shop here in Toronto.
Rory has always been an excellent speaker and presenter, so when I learned that he was coming to Toronto to give the keynote speech at the FFW opening lunch, I got myself a ticket and shot off a mail, asking if he had time for a coffee afterwards. He did, his presentation was predictably amazing and we managed to even squeeze in a late lunch.
It was great catching up after all these years.
After the 31′ Sovereign turned out to be too damp and dingy for us we decided to take a look at a 1984 triple axle.
From the outside, this is a beast and considerably longer a trailer that I had envisaged for us – I had hoped to find a 25 or 27 footer. But once we saw the inside, a lot of things made sense. First off, it is build like an absolute rock. Outside the frame looks rock solid, no sag or signs of front or back separation. On the inside, everything is solid wood, cedar lined wardrobes, a spacious back bedroom ready to take bunk beds for the kids, a large galley and a dinette that will make it easy to feed the hungry mob. All points in its favour.
Owners swear that, despite the intimidating size, this is one of the easiest Airstream trailers to tow, with a very low centre of gravity and straight tracking. Yes, six wheels and three axles are more expensive to service than four, but the increase in cost isn’t a deal-breaker for us.
The trailer is semi-renovated, with many of the systems that make it work either new or recent replacements. Some work still needs to be done, mostly upholstery and flooring. Right now we’re getting quotes in to see if this is the one – if it all makes financial sense we might just pull the trigger on this model.
We used to own a sweet little farm worker’s cottage in the country, nestled away in a hamlet close to Lake Huron in the heart of Mennonite country.
As a weekend property, it was close to perfect. Heat came from a wood fired stove, our property sloped down to a lake, we were close to the sandy beaches of Lake Huron. Still, after a couple of years we decided to sell, mostly because we were getting bored going to the same place weekend after weekend but also because looking after the rural property was just too much work.
Grass needed cutting, firewood needed stacking, trees trimming. The jobs never stopped and we used to return to the city on a Sunday evening ready for another weekend.
When we bought a new house in Toronto, with a large backyard, we decided enough was enough. We sold the cottage and spent our weekends exploring Toronto.
Some years later we found ourselves as parents to three little boys, one older brother and the baby twins. We started thinking about finding another weekend home, ideally by a beach for the kids to play on. But once bitten by the work involved with dual home ownership we decided that we also wanted to be a: low maintenance and b: mobile.
It didn’t take us long to decide that the answer to our needs was an Airstream trailer. Airstreams last forever, over 70% of all Airstream trailers ever build are still in use, they have an iconic look and they tow better than most other trailers. It sounded like the ideal solution to our needs.
A 1979 31′ Sovereign, with front bath and twin beds. This wasn’t the one. While the frame was straight and the body in good condition, inside it reminded us of “that” apartment you see when you’re a student that you really want to like – but then take a pass on because it’s just that little bit too grotty.
The first warning signal was the smell. Temperatures were well below freezing and still the inside of the trailer smelled damp. This usually means that it’ll smell really bad once it gets warmer, as pointed out by the ever helpful folks over on airforums.com. It also means that the smell sits, in all likelihood, in the insulation and that there are, or were, issues with leaks.
Ripping out the interior skin of an Airstream and replacing the innards is more work than I am willing to invest at this time, so we’ll be giving this one a miss.
I jumped on the ebook bandwagon as an early adopter. I owned an early Sony reader, with a dreadful store, especially up here in Canada. I owned a Kindle and I used various readers on my iPad. I loved the portability, the convenience, the instant gratification. I told all of my friends that paper was dead, done and over.
But recently a funny thing happened. During the last year, I found myself buying fewer and fewer ebooks and returning to good old paper instead. Rather than browsing amazon, I am visiting book stores. It started as a health concern, when I learned about the correlation between evening screen time and interrupted sleep patterns. Sleep is precious to me, especially with three young children in the house. As I do a lot of my reading in the evening, this was important.
Then I read the licensing terms for ebooks and didn’t like them one bit. My paper books I own. I’ve got the right of first sale. I can legally lend them to a friend, sell them on if I feel like it. With ebooks, I own nothing. Also, short of breaking into my house, amazon will have a hard time removing books from my shelves, the way they have done from people’s kindle accounts.
But the thing that clinched the change back to paper for me was that I remembered how much I like to be surrounded by books, real books.
I like browsing a well stocked library and picking out a book for the evening. I like the smell of books, the feel of paper. I like that paper books don’t need to be recharged, they don’t go down when the power does. I like that real books age. I like that fact that ink on paper will still be around and relevant when today’s ebook standards will long be forgotten. I like that my children’s children will be able to read my books the way I read my grandfather’s books.
I still think there’s a place for ebooks. The convenience can’t be beat, especially when travelling. I still don’t understand why paper books don’t come with download codes the way music on vinyl does these days. I’d happily pay an extra dollar or two for the privilege.
But there is a pleasure in the analogue that the virtual has a hard time matching. So please excuse my while I put my iPad down, put a vinyl record on my vintage turntable and go read a good book.
One of my favourite winter treats: baked apples.
Core apples, butter an ovenproof form or pan. Fill apple core with raisins, walnuts, brown sugar and a dab of butter. A splash of maple syrup, perhaps some rum.
Bake at 400 degrees until it looks like the picture above, about 20-30 minutes. If at all possible, eat by a fire with the snow falling outside.
After ten years of drinking tea exclusively, and in the process turning into quite the tea dork, I recently re-introduced myself to coffee.
In my case the gateway drug were Americanos, especially when pulled by my friend Pouria of Cafe Pamenar in Kensington Market.
The next challenge was to brew decent coffee at home. I have never managed to recreate a good Americano with a domestic espresso maker and I’m not a fan of the I’m-gonna-punch-your-face-in type coffee that’s so typical for a French press. Too much oil, too much acid for my taste.
I decided to try a Chemex, figuring that at under $40, if I hated it I could just put it on craigslist. Truth is, I love it. I picked up the six cup model at The Green Beanery, with 1/2 a pound of awesome Sumatra coffee.
The folks at the Beanery recommended quite a fine grind, coarser than espresso but finer than normal drip. The results are amazing, exactly what I had been hoping for. A bright, floral, full flavoured cup with no oily residue or acidity.
The fact that the Chemex has an awesome back story, it was invented by a madman/genius during WW2 to preserve metal for the war effort, is icing on the cake. Also, that it has a permanent place at MOMA and appears in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel, From Russia with Love.
Some years ago, friends gave us this lovely cast iron simmerpot for Christmas. In goes a stick of cinnamon, a handful of cloves, little twigs snipped of a fir or similar tree and an old apple or orange, sliced. Fill up with hot water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat as low as it will go, keeping the pot at just a simmer. Your house will smell amazing. While this pot looks lovely, any old pot will do. If you have a wood burning stove in the house, just place it on there.
Half a leg, smoked, Mennonite raised on a farm just outside Toronto. This year’s Christmas ham.
I braised it with molasses, cloves and a handful of other spices for four hours on a low, low heat, then roasted it with a mustard-cranberry glaze until it was crackled and burnished.
I normally make my own duck confit for Christmas, but with three young kids in the house this year it didn’t happen.
Thankfully the Christmas elves at Peter Sanagan’s Meat Locker had been busy and I managed to pick up four duck legs, all prepped for the oven. Here they are, in my old blue steel saute pan, ready for a good roasting.
Cook puy lentils in water with 1/2 an onion studded with 5 or 6 cloves, one or two bay leaves and a smashed clove of garlic. I had some thyme that needed using in the fridge, so in it went.
Season with salt and pepper, then finish with a good, peppery glug of olive oil and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
Serve with duck confit.
I am Andreas Duess.
This is my personal blog.
I am interested in many things; cooking, photography, vintage Airstreams, behavioural psychology to name but a few. As a result, this site can be pretty freewheeling at times.