Monday, 3 August 2020

Happy Simcoe Day!

It's Simoe Day, a statutory holiday, here in Ontario.

It is named for Col. John Graves Simcoe ...
  • Hero of the American Revolution
  • Commanding officer of the Queen's York Rangers
  • Founder of Toronto
  • First Lt. Governor of Upper Canada
  • Builder of Yonge Street
  • Abolished slavery in what's now Ontario 30 years before the rest of the British Empire did it and 60 years before Abe Lincoln did it

Sunday, 2 August 2020

The Covid 19 Memorial Blanket Project

I'd read about the The Covid 19 Memorial Blanket Project in a CBC article last week.

Three Ontario knitters have begun work on a COVID-19 memorial blanket that is intended to honour the lives of all people who have died from the virus in Canada.

But the three women spearheading the project, Heather Breadner, Allison Day and Amanda Sharpe, know they cannot complete the large art installation blanket alone.

On a new website, they urge other knitters to join them in creating the memorial to more than 8,000 people, with each square in the blanket representing one life lost.

"We are calling all knitters across the country to pick up their needles," says a message on the COVID-19 memorial blanket project website.

"Together, we can create a memorial that can travel through the country, and bring comfort to those who've lost loved ones, and to honour the memories of the souls who are now no longer with us."

Once completed, the blanket is expected to be 9,000 square feet (836 square metres) and weigh about 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms). It will be made up of more than 8,000 knitted squares, all one foot by one foot (30 cm by 30 cm). It will cover half a football field, Breadner said. The project was launched last week.

As a knitter, I wanted to be part of it and I registered right away!  I Googled and found that the Knit Cafe, which isn't far from me, sold the required yarn (15% discount if you are buying it for the discount).

MEASUREMENTS: 12 x 12 inches

  • 1 skein of Berroco Vintage (worsted weight) – any colour can be used for this project (I used purple 5190).  The colour Aquae 5125 is being used to represent Frontline/Essential Workers.
  • 4.5 mm needles

GAUGE: 20 stitches x 27 rows = 4 inches

  • Cast on 60 stitches. 
  • Knit 6 rows. 
  • Repeat these 2 rows until the square measures 11.5 inches:
    Row 1 – (right side) Knit all stitches
    Row 2 – (wrong side) Knit 5 stitches, purl to the last 5 stitches, knit 5 stitches. 
  • Knit 6 rows. 
  • Bind off.
  • Weave in ends (no need to leave any for seaming).

Book ~ "The English Wife" (2020) Adrienne Chinn

From Goodreads ~ VE Day 1945 - As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess' happiness is overshadowed by grief.  Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.  Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries. Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do.  But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home.

September 11th 2001 - Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city's history.  While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie's flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.  Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever.

During World War II, 18-year-old Ellie is living with her family in England.  She has been comfortably dating George for years and they are planning on getting married once the war is over.  Thomas is a soldier from Newfoundland who is based in England.  Ellie and Thomas meet at a dance, and though she tries to fight it, they fall in love and get married before Thomas is shipped off to Italy.  She doesn't hear from him for a long time and when she does, she discovers he has been shipped home to Newfoundland with an injury.  She joins him there with their son, Emmett, and discovers that life in rural Newfoundland is a lot different than England ... they have no electricity or indoor plumbing, the men fish and drink, and she's living with her in-laws (her mother-in-law hates her because she's English and Catholic ... it didn't seem like Thomas stuck up for Ellie to his mother and let her take the abuse).

On September 9, 2001, Sophie is flying from London to New York for a job interview.  Her plane gets grounded in Gander, Newfoundland.  Remembering her Aunt Ellie lives in Newfoundland, Sophie gets a ride and arrives at Ellie's house rather than staying with the rest of the "plane people" scattered around Gander.  Aunt Ellie is very pleased to welcome her long-long niece into her home and Sophie gets to know Ellie's son, Emmett, son-in-law, Sam, granddaughter, Becca (her mother, Ellie's daughter, had passed away) and Florie, Ellie's friend.

I'm not a fan of period books but I liked this one.  I liked the writing style and most of the characters (Dottie, Ellie's sister, was annoying).  It's written in third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action was.  I liked that it was set so much in Newfoundland and I found the author captured the flavour of their accents.  The book bounces around between three different timelines.  I don't usually mind this style but I found it took a while for me to catch the rhythm.  I found it odd that during the 9/11 week Sophie spent in Newfoundland, no one there was overly concerned there about the terrorist attacks.

The editing could have been better ... there was missing punctuation and typos (it's Port aux Basques not Portes aux Basques ... the author should know this since she's originally from Newfoundland).

Friday, 31 July 2020

Knitted Temperature Blanket - July 2020

I heard about temperature blankets at the end of last year.  I've never made one before and it sounded like a fun long term project.

The idea of a temperature blanket is to knit or crochet a row (or a number of rows) on a blanket each day for a full calendar year.  The colors used each day correspond with the temperature outside.  The more colours you use to represent temperatures and the more varied the temperatures, the more colourful the blanket.

To be consistent, I chose to use the temperature at noon.  I debated whether to use Toronto's temperatures (regardless of where I am) or the temperatures of where I am (so it's a Teena ~ temperature blanket).  I decided to make a Teena ~ temperature blanket ... it should be interesting to see how it turns out as I travel throughout the year.

I'm using nine colours from Red Heart Comfort and Bernat Cozy Style yarn.
  • Blue:  -6C or colder
  • Green:  -1C to -5C
  • Light purple:  0C to 4C
  • Teal:  5C to 9C
  • Red:  10C to 14C
  • Dark purple:  15C to 19C
  • Yellow:  20C to 24C
  • Orange:  25C and higher
  • Grey:  first and last rows and divider rows between the months

So far, the warmest temperature (orange) was 35C in Toronto on July 2 and the coldest (blue) was -10C in Toronto (blue) on February 14.  In hindsight, I wish I had added another colour from 30C and higher ... who knew July would be the hottest in 86+ years and every day but one in July would be 30C and over?!  I thought about undoing the blanket to add a different colour from 30C onwards but that mean I'd have to undo about 40 rows to go back to the first 30C row.  Um ... no.

I cast on 200 stitches.  The first and last five stitches of each row are seed stitches (knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one, knit one).  In between, I'm doing stocking stitch (knitting the odd rows and purling the even rows).  I added two rows of seed stitch at the beginning of the blanket to stop it from curling (stocking stitch does that and I hadn't thought of that when I started).


Warmest in July:  35C (orange) in Toronto on July 2
Coldest in July:  24C (dark purple) in Toronto on July 13


Warmest in June:  32C (orange) in Toronto on June 10
Coldest in June:  17C (dark purple) in Toronto on June 12 and 14


Levetto, Toronto, ON (Sudbury Street)

Gord and I picked up supper this evening from Levetto, which is in our 'hood (at Dovercourt/Queen W).  Now that Toronto has entered Stage 3, you can dine inside.

I got a large Pepperoni pizza.

 Gord got a large Affumicato pizza (his usual).

The pizzas were really good and we have leftovers for tomorrow!

Belgian Moon, Stackt Market, Toronto, ON

Gord and I walked to Stackt Market this afternoon.

Stackt Market is on a previously vacant 2.6-acre plot of city-owned land at Front Street and Bathurst Street and has a two-year lease on the land. It opened about a week and a half ago and businesses will fill about 120 containers offering various goods and services. More than one business can operate out of the same container, which range from 140 to 1800 square feet. The market offers leases to tenants ranging from as little as two days to 18 months.

We had lunch on the patio at Belgian Moon.  Because of COVID, the beer hall isn't open.  When we arrived, we had to sanitize and sign in.

I'm not a fan of wheat beer but the mango wheat beer was tasty.

Gord and I both ordered fried chicken.  He's met friends there a couple times lately for lunch and raved about the chicken.  And it was really good chicken.  The coating was crunchy and the chicken was hot and juicy.  There was hot sauce on the side.  For sure I'll get it again.

They also have sangria so I had a glass of blueberry sangria and tropical (pineapple) sangria.  Both were tasty and refreshing.

Dylan was our server.  He was friendly and took good care of us.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Book ~ "Cremas, Christmas Cookies, and Crooks" (2017) Harper Lin

From Goodreads ~ It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town.

Francesca is in her mid-thirties and worked in New York for many years in PR.  She moved back home to run the family Italian café in a small town in Massachusetts when her mother passed away in the summer.

Veronica is a new teacher in town who was hated by all.  When she is murdered, no one is grieving.  Ann, a well-loved teacher, is arrested but no one can believe she did it because she is so nice.  Sammy, Fran's employee and friend, asks Fran to look into it.  Mike, the police chief, tells Fran to back off because they have video evidence that Ann did it ... but, of course, Fran doesn't which causes friction between the two.  A side story has Sammy being harassed by her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, who he broke up with 10 years ago.  Seriously?

This is the sixth in the Cape Bay Cafe Mystery Series (I've read the first five) by this author.  It is written in first person perspective in Fran's voice.  The "whodunnit" and ending came together quickly, as always.  It was a quick light read and is a "cozy mystery" so there is no swearing, violence or adult activity.  Fran and Matt, her boyfriend, are finally having sleepovers, though.  One thing I wasn't buying was Brett, a teenager, contacts Fran with info about the murder and she agrees to meet him in a park at night ... even after Mike had told her that his mother was threatening to press charges against her AND she's meeting a minor alone at night.

There are recipes at the end.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Book ~ "Weird Al: Seriously" (2020) Lily E. Hirsch

From Goodreads ~ From his love of accordions and Hawaiian print shirts to his popular puns and trademark dance moves, "Weird Al" Yankovic has made a career out of making us laugh.

Funny music is often dismissed as light and irrelevant, but Yankovic's fourteen successful studio albums prove there is more going on than comedic music's reputation suggests. In this book, for the first time, the parodies, original compositions, and polka medleys of the Weird Al universe finally receive their due respect. Lily Hirsch weaves together original interviews with the prince of parody himself, creating a fresh take on comedy and music's complicated romance. She reveals that Yankovic's jests have always had a deeper meaning, addressing such topics as bullying, celebrity, and racial and gender stereotypes.

Weird Al is undeterred by those who say funny music is nothing but a low-brow pastime. And thank goodness. With his good-guy grace still intact, Yankovic remains unapologetically and unmistakably himself. Reveling in the mischief and wisdom of Yankovic's forty-year career, this book is an Al-expense-paid tour of a true comedic and musical genius. 

"Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer and songwriter, who is known for his humorous songs and often parodies songs.  I was/am a fan and had bought his first eight albums ... the last one I bought was Alapalooza (1993) and went to that concert.  Then for some reason I didn't buy any more.

Me and Weird Al during his Alapalooza tour

Gord and I went to his Alpocalypse concert in 2011.  There were cameras throughout the theatre as they were taping the concert and he seemed to be playing more to the cameras than the audience so it's wasn't great.

I've see his movie UHF a few times.

So when I came across this book I thought it would be an interesting read.  It was okay but I didn't find I got to know Al, though.  The book is more like a text book analyzing his songs.  I never realized they were so deep ... I just thought they were silly and funny.  There were numerous discussions about bullying, being a nerd, Trump and more.  I guess I was expecting something more light and humorous given the subject. And I found it got repetitive at times ... as much as I like Amish Paradise and White & Nerdy, they were covered many times with what seemed to be the same information.

But one thing I did as I was reading the book that was fun was stopping and watching his videos on YouTube.  And I've listened to his first couple of albums on Spotify and will listen to the rest.

Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival - Festival in a Box

Because of COVID, next weekend’s Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival has been cancelled.

Instead Steam Whistle put together a “festival in a box” and I ordered one ... and it just arrived. Whoohoo!

24 cans of beer ... from different Ontario craft brewers ... and different kinds (IPAs, sours, lagers, ales, pilsners, etc.) ... beers you can't usually get.

It will be fun trying them!

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Bar Wellington, Toronto, ON

I went for a long walk this afternoon to downtown.   I was hot so stopped in at Bar Wellington (Portland/Wellington) for a beer on the patio on my way home.

I was hungry so ordered Baked Chorizo Mac & Cheese.  OMG ... it was sooooooo good!  I would definitely get this again.

I let Gord know where I was so he joined me.  He ordered chicken fingers with a salad and said they were really good.

Mike was our server.  He was friendly and took good care of us.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had an early supper at Liberty Commons this afternoon in Liberty Village.  With COVID restrictions, only the patio was open and the tables were well-spaced.

Alexander was our server and he took excellent care of us ... he was friendly and helpful.  When we told him it was my birthday and our anniversary, he gave us some complimentary bubbly.

Gord started with a Scotch egg and I had a cheese scone.  Yum!

We both ordered Fish & Chips.  We'd never had it there before and it was delicious!  The batter was very light and the fish was flaky.  We'd definitely get it again.

Gioia Beauty Bar & Spa, Toronto, ON

For our birthdays, Gord and I treat each other to pedicures.  Salons have been closed for months due to COVID and recently have been opened under Stage 2 with restrictions.

Today's my birthday and Gord and I had deluxe pedicures at Gioia Beauty Bar & Spa in Liberty Village (on Joe Shuster Way).

As soon as you enter, you have to wear a mask, wash your hands and sign in with your name and contact information.

Happy birthday to me!

Many years ago today ... at 2:12pm ... I made my arrival into the world at the Grace Maternity Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Here I am at my first birthday party ... celebrating with cake and a washing machine.  Good times!

Happy 18th anniversary to Gord and I!

Ken (Gord's son), me, Gord and Sister Sarah
July 26, 2002 ~ 5:30pm
City Hall, Toronto, ON