Thursday, 20 February 2020

Downtown Winery, Toronto, ON

This afternoon Gord and I checked out Downtown Winery (on Ossington Avenue, just north of Queen Street W).  For many years, this was Macedo Winery where you could make your own wine.  It was renovated last year and reopened in December ... it's the first time we noticed it and checked it out.  They still have their other two locations but in this one you can drink and buy wine.

They have a great wine selection that are priced very reasonably.

Book ~ "Lies That Bind" (2015) Maggie Barbieri

From Goodreads ~ In Once Upon a Lie, Maggie Barbieri introduced enigmatic soccer-mom Maeve Conlon, a single mother and bakery owner hiding dark secrets behind her cookie-cutter suburban life.

Now Maeve’s moving on with everyday life when the unthinkable happens: her father dies of a massive heart attack. Maeve’s mother died when Maeve was very young and growing up, it was always just her and her father. But on the day of his funeral, Maeve learns a shocking secret. She might have a sister she’s never met. Maeve knows her father would never have kept something like that from her ... unless he thought he had to.

Meantime someone keeps sneaking around Maeve’s bakery. At first the signs are subtle but then it becomes vandalism, and then it grows even more frightening. Could it be related to Maeve’s search for her missing sister? Maeve soon realizes it’s time to take matters into her own capable hands. But administering her personal brand of justice is a dangerous undertaking, and between the ever-watchful eyes of her family and the lingering attention she's attracted from local police, Maeve will be forced to decide just how much she's willing to risk in the name of justice. 

Maeve is a divorced mother of two teenage daughters.  Her ex-husband, Cal, had left her for her best friend and now they have a baby.  Maeve owns a bakery in a small town and her friend, Jo, is her only employee.  Her father, Jack, a former cop had recently passed away suddenly.

At her father's funeral, her former childhood neighbour who was always mean to her reveals that Maeve had a sister she never knew about.  As she starts digging, she discovers that her sister was developmentally challenged and put in a home when she was a child ... a home that turned out to be abusing its residents and many were unaccounted for when it was closed down.  Was Maeve's sister one of the ones who disappeared?

In the meantime, strange things are happening at the bakery.  A flour bin was left open, Maeve was attacked from behind and knocked out, and a finger was left in her fridge.  Christmas is coming up and she is happy to have a break from the bakery so things will hopefully settle down.

This is the second in the Maeve Conlin series and it works as a stand alone, though there are many references to the things that happened in the first one so you should read it first. I liked the writing style ... it is written in third person perspective.   As a head's up, there is swearing, adult activity and violence. 

I wasn't crazy about Jo, Maeve's best friend and employee.  She's now pregnant and weirder and slacker than usual.  I find her character a bit unbelievable.  I find Maeve's daughters annoying ... one just started university and the other is still in high school and they aren't very nice to their mother but she puts up with it ... no wonder she doesn't want to spend time with them.

This was a reread for me.  I'd read it five years ago but didn't realize it.  I didn't remember reading it so it was like reading it for the first time.  It's interesting and weird to note that the first time around I didn't like it and gave up after 60%.  For some reason, I liked it this time and look forward to reading the next one in the series.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

"Hamilton", Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, ON

This afternoon I saw Hamilton.

Canadian Premiere

Hamilton is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.

With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

It is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre on Yonge Street (just south of Dundas Street E) from February 11 until May 17.  Tickets went on sale for it in the fall and sold out immediately.  I checked this morning to see if there were any available for this afternoon's performance and there were a handful so I bought one.

Going in I didn't know too much about Hamilton.  I knew it had something to do with early American history and I was interested in seeing it because it's supposed to be awesome and is in such demand.  In hindsight, I should have done a bit of research because I didn't know who Alexander Hamilton was and why he is such a big deal.  It would have been easier to follow what was going on.  Hamilton (1757 - 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker and economist, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  As a Canadian, I'm not overly interested in American history so the content didn't really resonate with me.  Plus it's long ... almost three hours!

That being said, everything else was excellent ... the singing, the acting, the choreography, the music (ranging from bluesy/jazzy to hip hop to ballads and more).  The stage and lighting were used quite creatively.  I can see now why everyone is raving about it and I'm glad I got to see it.

Ritz Caribbean Foods, Toronto, ON

I had lunch today at Ritz Caribbean Foods (on Yonge Street across from the Eaton Centre).

It was a busy spot at lunch time and the line-up was long.

I ordered a lunch special ... jerk chicken with rice/peas.  The rice and peas were good.  The chicken was good too ... there was a bit of a bite, which was nice.  But the two pieces were really small, mostly bones and very little chicken.  Definitely a rip-off.

Ritz Caribbean Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Waffle stitch knitted dish cloth

I knitted a dish cloth today in waffle stitch using cotton yarn.

Cast on 40 stitches.

Row 1: * K1, P2 * repeat, K1

Row 2: P1, * K2, P1 * repeat

Row 3: Knit

Row 4: Purl

Repeat rows 1 to 4 until the dish cloth until desired length.

Bind off and weave in loose ends.

Topbox - February 2020

My February Topbox arrived today.

Get 4 hand-picked deluxe samples delivered to your door for $15 per month. It's the best way to discover the products you'll love.

Here's what I received ...

Ipsy Glam Bag - February 2020

My February Ipsy Glam Bag arrived today.
  • $12 a Glam Bag ($223CN for a year)
  • 5 beauty products worth $50+ (the average Glam Bag value in 2019)
  • Glam Bags are available in the U.S., U.S. Territories, & Canada. U.S. shipping is free. Taxes will apply to all bag orders shipped within the U.S. Canadian shipping is $2.95.

Here's what I received ...

How cute is the end?!

Total value (excluding the bag) - $53.31US

Monday, 17 February 2020

Fan and feather dish cloth

I finished a fan and feather pattern dish cloth tonight ... I like this pattern.

Cotton yarn and size 4.5mm knitting needles

Cast on 42 stitches (or a multiple of 18 plus 6)

Knit 3 rows of garter stitch for the border

Row 4: Knit

Row 5: K 3, P to last 3 stitches K3

Row 6: K3, *(K2 tog) 3 times, (yo, K1) 6 times, (K2 tog) 3 times, rep from * to last 3 sts K3

Row 7: Knit

Repeat Rows 4 - 7, keeping first and last 3 stitches in garter stitch, until piece measures desired length

Knit 3 more rows of garter stitch to make the bottom border

Cast off and darn in ends.

Book ~ "The Forgotten Home Child" (2020) Genevieve Graham

From Goodreads


At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson, Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago.


Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again. 

In the mid-1930s, Winny, Mary, Jack, Edward and Cecil are children living in the streets in London.  Their families couldn't afford to support them and rather than be abused or put in orphanages, the alternative was to take to the streets and do whatever they could to eat.  The five of them are eventually rounded up and put in orphanages and then in Barnardo Homes.  After a couple years, when they are in the early to mid-teens, they are put on a boat along with hundreds of other children and sent to Canada as "Home Children".  It's positioned as a great opportunity for them as families in Canada will be taking them in.

Once they arrive, they discover that they are basically slaves living on farms, helping the poor farmers who saw this as a cheap way to get labour.  Jack, Edward and Cecil end up on a farm in the London, Ontario, area working for an abusive man who beat them for no reason.  Winny and Mary end up on different farms near Peterborough, Ontario.   Winny's mistress expects her to do many chores, sleep in a barn with the sheep and she is always hungry.  Mary lives in a shed on her mistress' property and is responsible for taking care of the children.  This is not what the Barnardo organization had promised but no one if following up.

Despite the subject matter, I liked this book ... though I did find it wrapped up rather quickly with a happy ending.  I've read other books about home children and the author does a good job letting us know what life was like for them.  I liked the writing style.  It bounces back and forth from present day with 98-year-old Winny finally telling her story to her granddaughter and great grandson to beginning with when Winny, Mary, Jack, Edward and Cecil are children on the streets, how they came to be home children, their life in Canada and what they did once they were able to leave their masters.  It is written in third person perspective in Winny and Jack's voices ... the chapters are noted with the dates and voices.

The story is based on true experiences of home children.  There is a chapter at the end providing some history about what home children programs were all about.  It's hard to believe that until the late 1940s, up to 130,000 British children between the ages of three and eighteen were taken from England's streets, orphanages and homes and shipped to Canada, Australia and other countries.  Many were told that their parents had passed away or didn't want them anymore, which wasn't always true.  While some children did benefit from the arrangement, most didn't and were beaten and abused.  In 2017, a monument was erected in Park Lawn Cemetery here in Toronto honoring home children who are buried there.

Happy Family Day!

Today is Family Day, a statutory holiday here in Ontario.

Enjoy and spend some time with your family!

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Batch House, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Batch House (on Victoria Street, south of Richmond Street E).  It's a Creemore Springs brewpub.

"Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train", Soulpepper Theatre, Toronto, ON

This afternoon Gord and I saw the play Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train.  Our neighbour, Simon Fon, who is the fight director, recommended it to us.

When justice locks you up, what sets you free? Gripping from start to finish, two notorious men await trial for murder, only to discover justice and goodness where it is least expected. Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis delivers an uncompromising drama about contradiction, contrition, and hypocrisy.

We saw it at the Soulpepper Theatre in the Distillery District.

Lucius is in prison for being a serial killer ... he'd killed eight people (that they knew of).  He is supposed to be returned to Florida where he will face death row.  While in prison, he finds God.  He befriends a guard who is eventually fired and replaced by a tough no-nonsense guard, Valdez.  Angel has been put in jail for shooting someone in the butt, who passed away from a heart attack.  His court-appointed lawyer is trying to get his charge reduced.

This play was sold out today and we could see why.  The acting was amazing and it was easy to get caught up in the story.  Daron A. Herbert stood out as Lucius ... at times it was like someone wound him up.  Tony Nappo played his part well as the A-hole guard Valdez.  Xavier Lopez became passionate in the second half as Angel.  Gregory Prest was the sympathetic friendly guard, D'Amico.  Diana Donnelly was good as Angel's lawyer, Mary Jane.

It's on until February 23 and you should go see it!

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Toronto Rock 14, Vancouver Warriors 7, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON

Gord and I are season ticket holders for the Toronto Rock lacrosse team games ... the Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  This is our seventh year going to the games and our sixth year having seasons tickets.

This evening the Rock were hosting the Vancouver Warriors.

Here are me and Gord ...

Special Constable Stacie Hancock sang the national anthem.

The Rock players huddled before the game started.

Elephant & Castle, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper at Elephant & Castle (King Street W/Simcoe Street) this evening with my second cousin, Glenn, and his wife, Ann.  They are in town from Nova Scotia and we'd never met before (we're Facebook and Instagram friends, though).

Gord ordered the Standard burger (with no tomato) with a mixed greens salad.  He said it was a good meal and he'd get it again.

I ordered Manta's Butter Chicken.  It was good (it wasn't spicy).  There could have been more rice but I was happy that there was lots of naan.  I'd get this again.

Glenn and Ann both ordered chicken pot pie.  It looked really good!  They said it was tasty but it could have been hotter.  They said they'd get it again.

And here we are ...

Glenn, Ann, me and Gord

Erica was our server.  She was friendly and took good care of us.

Elephant & Castle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato