Monday, 30 November 2020

Book ~ "If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging" (2020) Jann Arden

From Goodreads ~ Digging deep into her strengths, her failures and her losses, Jann Arden brings us an inspiring account of how she has surprised herself, in her fifties, by at last becoming completely her own person. Like many women, it took Jann a long time to realize that trying to be pleasing and likeable and beautiful in the eyes of others was a loser's game. Letting it rip, and damning the consequences, is not only liberating, it's a hell of a lot of fun: "Being the age I am - that so many women are  - is just the best time of my life."

Jann weaves her own story together with tales of her mother, grandmother and great grandmother, and the father she came close to hating, to show her younger self - and all of us - that fear and avoidance is no way to live. "What I'm thinking about now aren't all the ways I can try to hang on to my youth or all the seconds ticking by in some kind of morbid countdown to death," she writes, "but rather how I keep becoming someone I always hoped I could be. If I'm lucky one day a very old face will look back at me from the mirror, a face I once shied away from. I will love that old woman ferociously, because she has finally figured out how to live a life of purpose - not in spite of but because of all her mistakes and failures." 


Jann Arden is Canadian singer, songwriter, broadcaster, actor and author, who is now in her late 50s.  Her parents passed away in the last five years ... her father spent years being ill, including dementia, and her mother battled Alzheimer's.  

Jann talks about her family dynamic including the difficult relationship she had with her father, who was an alcoholic and not a happy man.  She loved her mother, who stayed and took care of her father for over 60 years.  Jann tells of the lessons she has learned over the years, of not being happy with her body but being more at peace with it as she gets older, of giving up alcohol and liking the person she has become without it, and how the crazy childhood she had of hiding in the basement to escape her father led her to become a musician because in the dreary basement she had records to keep her company.

This is the third book of Jann's I've read and I liked it.  Her personality comes through and I felt like she was sitting with me and chatting. I liked the writing style ... it was amusing at times and honest.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Knitted Temperature Blanket - November 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.  In theory, it would have been interesting to see how it turned out as I traveled often for work plus go on vacation during the year but with COVID, I haven't done as much travelling as I usually would in a 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).

November


Warmest in November:  24C (yellow) in Toronto on November 10
Coldest in November:  0C (light purple) in Toronto on November 18 and 24

October


Warmest in October:  24C (yellow) in Toronto on October 23
Coldest in October:  2C (light purple) in Toronto on October 30

September

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Fan and feather dish cloth

I finished knitting a fan and feather pattern dish cloth this evening ... I like this pattern and have made many over the years.

I've made quite a few lately and had bits of various variegated cotton yarns left over so used them and a 5mm needle.


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.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Cat Shelter Building Workshop, Toronto Street Cats, Toronto, ON

Toronto Street Cats started their cat shelter building workshops this month for the season.  I missed the first ones but attended today's and have signed up for the ones in December.  The workshops are held throughout the fall and winter season in the garage of the Toronto Humane Society.

It's my third year doing them ... it's so nice helping the kitties in Toronto keep warm and dry during the cold winter.

Our mission: improve the lives of Toronto’s homeless cats by offering spay/neuter services, free for feral cats, and building overwintering shelters. We are also working to increase public awareness about Toronto’s homeless cat population and the importance of spay/neuter and trap/neuter/return (TNR). 

We are part of the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition, working together to implement strategic TNR programs to sterilize Toronto’s feral cats, decrease shelter intake and reduce euthanasia rates.

With COVID, things have changed drastically.  Instead of having 40+ volunteers, there can only be 10 (as per the province's mandate).  There are lots of strict protocols to follow and Carol, the coordinator, ensured we did ... there were lots of documents to read and agree to and we were all socially distanced and required to wear masks.


My pal, Darlene, was there too.  I had seen Darlene since before COVID so it was great to catch up!


Thom cut the tubing for the entrance ways, cut the Styrofoam for insulated walls and drilled holes into the bins after the insulated walls had been taped inside.


We taped the insulated walls together in the bins and then taped the tubing entrances.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Book ~ "Meet Your Baker" (2014) Ellie Alexander

From Goodreads ~ Welcome to Torte -a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that sometimes it's criminal.

After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte's customers turns up dead, there's much ado about murder.

The victim is Nancy Hudson, the festival's newest board member. A modern-day Lady Macbeth, Nancy has given more than a few actors and artists enough reasons to kill her ... but still. The silver lining? Jules' high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case. His flirtations are as delicious as ever and Jules can't help but want to have her cake and eat it too. But will she have her just desserts? Murder might be bad for business but love is the sweetest treat of all.

Juliet (aka Jules) was raised in small town Ashland, OR, but dreamed of seeing the world.  She grew up helping her parents in their bakery and went on to culinary school.  She got a job with a cruise line and didn't get home often after that.  She met her husband, Carlos, an executive chef, on a cruise and things were going well until she discovered his secret.

With a broken heart, she headed home to figure things out.  In the meantime, she started working in the family bakery.  Ashland is a small theatre town which attracts a lot of tourists because of the Shakespearean plays they put on.  When one of the directors of the theatre is found dead in the bakery, anyone could be the murderer because the director was so disliked.

This is the first in the Bakeshop Mystery series and I liked it.  I recently finished reading this author's Sloan Krause Series and like them so thought I'd check this series out. It's written in first person perspective in Jules' voice.  There is a lot of talk about baking and there are lots of recipes at the end, which sound delicious.   It was a quick light read and is a "cozy mystery" so there is no swearing, violence or adult activity. I look forward to reading the rest in this series.

Fan and feather dish cloth

I finished knitting a fan and feather pattern dish cloth this evening ... I like this pattern and have made many over the years.

I've made quite a few lately and had bits of various variegated cotton yarns left over so used them and a 5mm needle.


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.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Butterfly stitch pattern dish cloth

I knitted a butterfly stitch pattern dish cloth today.


I used bits of leftover Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Yarn and size 4.5mm knitting needles.

Cast on multiples of 10, plus 7 stitches ... I cast on 37.

Knit three rows.

Here's the butterfly pattern:

Row 1: Knit 1, purl 5, * with yarn in back slip 5, purl 5 *, knit 1

Row 2: Knit row

Row 3: Knit 1, purl 5, * with yarn in back slip 5, purl 5 *, knit 1

Row 4: Knit row

Row 5: Knit 1, purl 5, * with yarn in back slip 5, purl 5 *, knit 1

Row 6: Knit 1, * knit 7, lift the 3 strands then knit 1, release the 3 strands, knit 2 *, knit 6

Row 7: Knit 1, with yarn in back, slip 5, * purl 5, with yarn in back slip 5 *, knit 1

Row 8: Knit row

Row 9: Knit 1, with yarn in back, slip 5, * purl 5, with yarn in back slip 5 *, knit 1

Row 10: Knit row

Row 11: Knit 1, with yarn in back, slip 5, * purl 5, with yarn in back slip 5 *, knit 1

Row 12: Knit 3, lift the 3 strands then knit 1, release the 3 strands, knit 2, * knit 7, lift the 3 strands then knit 1, release the 3 strands, knit 2 *, knit 1

Repeat rows 1 to 12 until desired length (I did 10 rows of butterflies).

Purl row

Knit 3 rows.  Cast off and darn in ends.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Pan-Seared Chicken with Smashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans and Rosemary Pan Sauce, Hello Fresh

Gord and I received a Hello Fresh box Saturday with four meals for two.

Tonight I made our last one for supper ... Pan-Seared Chicken with Smashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans and Rosemary Pan Sauce.


The kit came with almost everything.


Ta-da!  We have mashed potatoes often and when the potatoes are new, I boil and mash them with the skins on like tonight.  I don't usually sear and then bake chicken but I think I will in the future.  It took less time to cook and it was tender and juicy.  The rosemary sauce over the chicken was tasty.  I'm not a fan of green beans so didn't have any so here is a picture of Gord's supper with half of the beans (he'll cook the other half tomorrow).

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Fan and feather dish cloth

I finished knitting a fan and feather pattern dish cloth this evening ... I like this pattern and have made many over the years.  

I've made quite a few lately and had bits of various variegated cotton yarns left over so used them.


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.

Southern Fried Pork Chops with White BBQ Sauce, Buttery Corn and Crispy Potatoes, Hello Fresh

Gord and I received a Hello Fresh box Saturday with four meals for two.

Gord made the Southern Fried Pork Chops with White BBQ Sauce, Buttery Corn and Crispy Potatoes kit for supper this evening.


The kit came with almost everything.


Ta-da!  I liked it and it would be easy to make on our own.  We don't usually fry kernel corn but it was good.  We have roasted potatoes fairly often and like them  The pork chop was good.  I was a bit concerned when I read that the sauce on the pork chop had horse radish in it ... but it was toned down and tasty.

Moselland Riesling wine - cat bottles

Almost every year in November the LCBO sells bottles of Moselland Riesling wine in the shape of cats ... and here are this year's.  I don't think I have these colours.


I've been collecting them for 20 years and now have 40.  They are all different colours/vintages and are unopened.
  • 2000 - 5
  • 2001 - 3
  • 2002 - 3
  • 2003 - 1
  • 2004 - 2
  • 2005 - 2
  • 2006 - 2
  • 2007 - 2
  • 2008 - 2
  • 2009 - 2
  • 2011 - 2
  • 2012 - 3
  • 2013 - 1
  • 2014 - 5
  • 2015 - 1
  • 2018 - 2
  • 2019 - 2

Monday, 23 November 2020

Souvlaki-style Chicken with Lemony Rice and Chopped Salad, Hello Fresh

Gord and I received a Hello Fresh box Saturday with four meals for two. 

I made the Souvlaki-style Chicken with Lemony Rice and Chopped Salad kit for supper this evening.


The kit came with almost everything.


Ta-da!  I liked it and it was a good hearty meal.  The salad dressing (oil, sugar and lemon juice) was tasty and inspired me to eat more salads.  The chicken was tender and juicy.  The rice was a bit spicy (the pepper in the lemon pepper spice maybe?) but I was okay with that.  The same spice was on the chicken but I guess it got diluted a bit when I browned it.  I don't like feta cheese so didn't put any on my meal ... Gord likes it so did.  He doesn't like tomatoes so didn't put any in his salad ... so more for me! 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Steak Spiced Burgers with Disco Fries, Hello Fresh

Gord and I received a Hello Fresh box yesterday with four meals for two.

Gord made one for supper this evening ... Steak Spiced Burgers with Disco Fries.  It's our first time trying a Hello Fresh meal kit.


The kit came with pretty well everything.


Ta-da!  The only change we made was to not put the mixed greens on the burger.  The fries were good.  The gravy was yummy and it was interesting having mozzarella cheese on top.  The burger was good too.  Gord put the buns in the oven and they were soft and warm.  The patty was tasty.

Lite Mind Body, Toronto, ON

Lite Mind Body recently opened in our neighbourhood.  Gord and I have been watching and waiting.

We'd stopped in on Friday and chatted with Mary, one of the owners, and scheduled a Lite Detox Experience for late this afternoon.
  • Detox effortlessly and recover faster using Infrared 
  • Sweat out all your blues 
  • Relax your mind, relieve pain and detox your body.
  • Colour therapy to help you really get into the mood and mindset you need

Benefits:
  • Detox Detox 
  • Natural Anti-Aging 
  • Speed up healing time
  • Relieve pain and anxiety
  • Boost your immune system
  • Burn up to 600 calories
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Relax and destress


We each had our own room with a sauna.


You can adjust the heat, time and light therapy inside and outside the sauna.


There is an iPad where you can listen to music on Spotify or watch Netflix that is piped into the sauna.  I found some relaxing meditation music.  I did some stretches for the last ten minutes or so.

Knitted baby blanket

Gord's son and his son's girlfriend are having a baby (a boy) in the spring so I knitted the baby a blanket for the baby.  It's a pattern I've done many times but this time I alternated two knit rows/two purl rows.

I used two skeins of Bernat Blanket Yarn (Faded Blues) and 8mm needles.


  • Cast on 3 sts.
  • 1st and 2nd rows: Kfb. Knit to end of row.
  • 3rd and 4th rows: Kfb. Purl to end of row.
  • Rep last 4 rows until half desired length (for me, that was one skein)
  • 1st and 2nd rows: ssk. Knit to end of row.
  • 3rd and 4th rows: ssk. Purl to end of row.
  • Rep last 4 rows until there are 3 sts rem.
  • Next row: Sl1. K2tog. psso. Next row: Sl1. K2tog. psso. 
  • Bind off and weave in the ends.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Hello Fresh

Our neighbour, Dawn, uses Hello Fresh often.  She gave me a coupon to try them and get four meals for two for free.

So I ordered from their "family" menus.  They were scheduled to arrived today from 8am to 8pm ... and they were on our doorstep before 9am.

Each meal came in a bag in an insulated box with giant icepacks on the bottom to keep the meat cold.


Guess what we'll be having for suppers this week!

Thanks, Dawn!