Friday 28 May 2021

Mulligatawny Soup Mix, Mitchell’s Soup Company, St. Thomas, ON

I made Mulligatawny Soup from a Mitchell’s Soup Company mix (they are in St. Thomas, ON) for supper this evening.

Almost everything is in the mix. All I had to add was cooked chicken (I added chicken breast), onion, carrots and tart apples. I got it started around 4pm and let it simmer for a couple hours. 

I’ve never had Mulligatawny soup so didn’t know what to expect. My only reference for it is the Seinfeld episode (that’s why I ordered it ... ha!).

Ta-da! It was really good and hearty! There was a bit of heat and the apples still had a nice crunch. There's tons left over! Yay!

Thursday 27 May 2021

Book ~ "The Last Thing He Told Me" (2021) Laura Dave

From Goodreads ~ Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity - and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated. 

Hannah met Owen when she was living in New York and he was there on business.  They quickly fell in love and got married and she moved to be with him and his teenage daughter, Bailey, in California.  Everything is fine until Owen suddenly disappears and leaves a note for Hannah that said "Protect her".  Hannah assumes that means to protect Bailey, which is tricky because Bailey doesn't like or respect Hannah.

The tech company Owen works for is under investigation and the owner is arrested.  Everyone assumes Owen is involved and that's why he has disappeared.  Grady, a U.S. Marshall from Texas shows up to question Hannah, which she eventually finds odd.  She and Bailey head to Austin and discover that Owen isn't who he says he is and they learn the truth about him.

This book is written in first person perspective in Hannah's voice.  As a head's up, there is swearing.  I liked the writing style and thought the premise was interesting.  But I found it unbelievable that given all she thinks she know about Owen and his past that she would  head to Austin, TX, pretty well the day after he disappeared (rather than waiting at home for him to come back from wherever he went) just because Grady works in the Austin, TX, office and Bailey remembered being at a wedding there when she was about three years old.  And once she and Bailey arrive in Austin, it was way too easy for them to find out information about things and events that happened in the past.  Hannah had the mystery solved and a resolution in about a day ... I don't think so.  I thought the ending was pretty lame.

Spencer Smith Park, Burlington, ON

Gord had read about the Brant Street Pier this week and we headed to Burlington to check it out this afternoon (about 45 minute drive).  It is part of Spencer Smith Park.  It was a lovely day for a walk ... sunny and warm

Situated within the Waterfront at Downtown Burlington, Spencer Smith Park features a wide promenade that offers a magnificent view of the lake, beach and Skyway Bridge while sitting on the breakway, walking, cycling or rollerblading. Spencer Smith Park is home to many of the City of Burlington’s signature festival and events.

Park features include:
  • Expansive lawns for leisure activities
  • Children's playground and Dofasco Waterjet Park
  • Rotary Centennial Pond offering skating in the winter months and model boat sail boating in the spring summer months
  • Naval War Memorial
  • Brant Street Pier
  • Terry Fox Monument
  • Lady of the Lake Bronze Sculpture
  • Japanese Garden

Park History:

The land for this park was originally part of a parcel granted to the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, in recognition of his service to The British Crown during the American Revolution.

During the 19th century and into the 20th, Lakeshore Road was immediately adjacent to Lake Ontario. There was no protection from storms, and waves frequently washed over the road, threatening nearby property. In 1939 the federal government stepped in and built a seawall. That same year, the Burlington Horticultural Society became involved in cleaning up the shoreline just west of the foot of Brant Street. That land, known as Lakeside Park, was renamed Spencer Smith Park in honor of Spencer Smith - a former president of the society. In 1965 construction was begun on Confederation Terrace and Spencer Smith Park as a Centennial Project for the City of Burlington.

The Terry Fox Monument is right next to the parking lot so was the first thing we saw.  I'm a volunteer with my neighbourhood Terry Fox Run so it was a nice surprise to come across it.

There is a large boardwalk and we walked along it toward the Brant Street Pier.

Looking back towards Burlington Beach
and Burlington Bridge

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Book ~ "Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary" (2014) Wendy Bernard

From Goodreads ~ Stitch dictionaries are to knitters what Webster’s is to a writer. 

Within the pages of these inspiring reference books are the endless variations of knit and purl stitches that produce the fabrics of all knitting. But in the "Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary", designer Wendy Bernard does something no other author has done before - she presents instructions for working 150 popular stitch patterns four different ways: top down, bottom up, back and forth and in the round. 

This hefty collection, ranging from lace and cables to colorwork and fancy edgings, is loaded with beautifully photographed swatches of each pattern, plus charted and text instructions. To showcase the stitch patterns in action, Bernard also includes instructions for eight garments as well as her famous formulas for knitting garments without a pattern. 

This is an invaluable go-to resource, sure to inspire legions of knitters to use stitch patterns in new and exciting ways.

I've been doing a lot of knitting in the last year or so making quick projects, mostly mittens and dishcloths.  This book caught my eye because I thought it would be fun to learn some different stitches and patterns.  I tried a few, making them as dishcloths as practice.  It was a fun way to learn and some I can see using as blankets, scarves, etc. someday.

There is a picture of each stitch (similar to my finished dishcloths), instructions if you are making it flat (so back and forth) or in the round (circular or double pointed needles) and some projects using some of the stitches.

The chapters include:
  • An introduction on how to use the book and read the patterns
  • Knits and purls
  • Ribs
  • Textured, slipped and fancy
  • Yarnovers and eyelets
  • Cables
  • Lace
  • Colourwork
  • Hems and edgings
  • Projects

I liked the way the book was laid out, with the stitches and accompanying pictures so I could see what it was supposed to look like.  The instructions were explained well.  Some stitches were easy and others were more complicated and it felt like quite the accomplishment when I finished them.

Monday 24 May 2021

Book ~ "Find You First" (2021) Linwood Barclay

From Goodreads ~ Tech millionaire Miles Cookson has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of - except time. He has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness and there is a fifty percent chance that it can be passed on to the next generation. For Miles, this means taking a long hard look at his past.

Two decades ago, a young, struggling Miles was a sperm donor. Somewhere out there, he has kids - nine of them. And they might be about to inherit both the good and the bad from him - maybe his fortune or maybe something much worse.

As Miles begins to search for the children he’s never known, aspiring film documentarian Chloe Swanson embarks on a quest to find her biological father, armed with the knowledge that twenty-two years ago, her mother used a New York sperm bank to become pregnant.

When Miles and Chloe eventually connect, their excitement at finding each other is overshadowed by a series of mysterious and terrifying events. One by one, Miles’s other potential heirs are vanishing - every trace of them wiped, like they never existed at all.

Who is the vicious killer - another heir methodically erasing rivals? Or is something even more sinister going on?

It’s a deadly race against time.

Miles is a tech millionaire who just found out he has Huntington's disease.  There's no cure and he's going to get progressively worse and there's no way to know how fast he will decline.  He's not married nor has he children but it is a hereditary disease.  More than 20 years ago, in need of money, he went to a sperm bank so there is a chance that he may indeed have children.  He discovers his sperm was used to produce nine children.  He feels it's his duty to let them know they may be carrying the gene for the disease and he wants to ensure they are taken care of monetarily whether they do or not.  So he begins his search to contact these nine people.

Chloe's mother had used a sperm donor many years ago which has prompted Chloe's interest to find out more about her family and also see if she can discover who her father is.  She does a DNA test and discovers she has a half brother, Todd.  She and Todd connect and are happy to have found each other.  Around this time, Miles contacts Chloe because she is on his list and is the closest geographically.  As they are getting to know each other, the others on the list start disappearing which is puzzling.  Is it a coincidence or does it have anything to do with being one on Miles' list?

I've read many books by this author and I liked this one.  The story had lots of twists and turns.  I found it especially interesting because I've done a couple DNA tests and have discovered cousins I didn't know about.  It is written in third person perspective from many points of view, depending on where the action was.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Happy Victoria Day!

Victoria Day is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday preceding May 25, initially in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday.

The holiday has been observed in Canada since at least 1845, originally falling on Victoria's actual birthday (May 24, 1819). 

Saturday 22 May 2021

Book ~ "Lucky" (2021) Marissa Stapley

From Goodreads ~ What if you had the winning ticket that would change your life forever, but you couldn’t cash it in?

Lucky Armstrong is a tough talented grifter who has just pulled off a million-dollar heist with her boyfriend, Cary. She’s ready to start a brand-new life, with a new identity - when things go sideways. Lucky finds herself alone for the first time, navigating the world without the help of either her father or her boyfriend, the two figures from whom she’s learned the art of the scam.

When she discovers that a lottery ticket she bought on a whim is worth millions, her elation is tempered by one big problem: cashing in the winning ticket means the police will arrest her for her crimes. She’ll go to prison, with no chance to redeem her fortune.

As Lucky tries to avoid arrest and make a future for herself, she must confront her past by reconciling with her father; finding her mother, who abandoned her when she just a baby; and coming to terms with the man she thought she loved - whose complicated past is catching up to her, too.

This is a novel about truth, personal redemption, and the complexity of being good. It introduces a singularly gifted, complicated character who must learn what it means to be independent and honest…before her luck runs out.

Lucky was raised on the run with her father, who was constantly scamming people to make a buck.  They  never stayed in the same place for long and were always on the go.  Lucky is an adult now and had just pulled a big scam with her boyfriend, Cary.  They decide to spend a night in Las Vegas before heading to make a new life in Dominica with the cash.  When Lucky wakes up the next morning to catch their flight, Cary is gone and so is their money.  With just a few bucks in her pocket and a lottery ticket which turns out to be a big winner, Lucky tries to figure out who she can trust to cash in the ticket ... she can't because she is wanted by the law for their latest scam.

I thought this story was okay.  It is written in third person perspective from Lucky's point of view.  It bounces back and forth in time, from when Lucky was a young girl with her father to present day (present day being 2008) on the run.  Eventually the timelines catch up.  Even though present day was back in 2008, it was a bit of a stretch to believe that Lucky could pick up jobs along the way that paid her cash and no one asked for references and ID.  The ending came together rather quickly and loose ends were tied up a bit unrealistically.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

KC's tree, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto, ON

It was warm and sunny this morning and I went for a walk to Trinity Bellwoods Park (there was rain in the forecast for this afternoon) and I checked out KC's tree.

I'd been there a couple weeks ago and the leaves were just starting to bud ... they've come a long way since then!

Friday 21 May 2021

Book ~ "Just My Luck" (2020) Adele Parks

From Goodreads ~ It’s the stuff dreams are made of – a lottery win so big, it changes everything.

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. Over dinner parties, fish & chip suppers and summer barbecues, they’ve discussed the important stuff – the kids, marriages, jobs and houses – and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything more than a tenner.

But then, one Saturday night, the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone doesn’t tell the truth. And soon after, six numbers come up which change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth £18 million. And their friends are determined to claim a share of it.

Lexi and Jack, Carla and Patrick, and Jennifer and Fred have been friends for over 15 years ... the wives met when they were pregnant and now their kids are friends.  Over the years, they have been playing the same numbers in the lottery every week but have never won.  But then one Saturday night, the numbers win big time ... almost £18 million!  Carla and Patrick and Jennifer and Fred want their share but Lexi and Jake say there had been a big fight the week before and the other two couples had backed out of being in the lottery so the money belongs to just Lexi and Jake ... and a judge ultimately agrees.  Surprisingly winning all the money doesn't bring the happiness and stability Lexi imagined it would.

I thought the writing style was just okay.  It was quite a convoluted story and farfetched at times ... some I just shook my head at.  It is written in first person perspective when it was Lexi and Emily's (Lexi and Jack's 15-year-old daughter) voices and third person perspective otherwise.  As a head's up there is swearing and violence.

I didn't find the characters likeable.  It was unbelievable that these three couples were friends all these years since they were so different and unlikeable in their own way.  Lexi has the biggest heart and is the most compassionate but is such a wimp and lets her family and friends walk over her and push her around.  Jake became a huge jerk once they won the lottery and spent spent spent and encouraged their kids to also.  Even though Lexi didn't agree with all this spending, she didn't do anything about it.

Thursday 20 May 2021

The Copper Bell, Guelph, ON

I recently came across The Copper Bell (in Guelph, ON) on Instagram.

I love scented candles and have plenty but they caught my eye.

First were the names of some of the candles ... like Good Job Handling the Bullshit, Day Drinking and You’re Doing Amazing Sweetie.

Second some are layered scents, which sounded interesting ... roasted espresso/cinnamon buns, vanilla mint/lavender mint and French vanilla frosting/lemon cake.

So I had to order some to check them out ... and they just arrived.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Nova Scotia's Community Haul ~ May 2021

I received my May Nova Scotia's Community Haul subscription box today.

Weddings and school concerts, charity bake sales and chase-the-ace - our community halls are where Nova Scotians have come together for generations to celebrate and support one another. Since we’re together apart for the foreseeable future, we’ve transformed the community hall into a Community Haul. 

Community Haul, partnered with Symplicity Designs set out to create a safe and fun way to help the small business community through the next year. Our product forges connection, creates community, and offers you the opportunity to explore Nova Scotia - all from the safety of your home. 

We've launched a local subscription box to celebrate Nova Scotia business owners and help reboot the regional economy. By pledging your community support with a subscription, you can help keep the lights on for dozen of small businesses during these economically stressful times. What's more, every box sold will support the IWK Foundation to provide care for the women and children in the Maritimes.  

I'm originally from Nova Scotia and have been enjoying receiving stuff from "back home" and helping support their economy.

Here's what I received ...

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Book ~ "The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life's Stressors" (2019) Brian King

From Goodreads ~ Dr. Brian King got a degree in psychology before becoming a world-touring comic and the host of humor therapy seminars attended by more than ten thousand people each year. 

In this guide, he presents hands-on techniques for managing stress by rewiring our brains to approach potentially difficult situations through a lens of positivity. 

To do so, Dr. King explores what stress is, where it comes from, and what it does to our bodies and brains. He delves deep into how to address everyday stress - as well as anxiety, insecurities, repression, and negativity - and gives insight into resulting ailments such as anxiety disorders, depression, hypertension, obesity, substance abuse disorders, and more. 

Dr. King’s techniques are chemical- and cost-free, and embrace humor, resilience, relaxation, optimism, gratitude and acceptance. Instead of a dry medical approach to dealing with stress, this unique volume is filled with life-changing tips and instructions presented with humor and a wealth of memorable, smile-inducing anecdotes. 

Brian King is a psychologist and comedian in his forties and a fairly new dad.  He is an admittedly happy and optimistic guy.  This is his guide on what stress is and how to deal with it.  If we are in a stressful situation, is there anyone we can do about it?  If not, let it go.  He also gives strategies to deal with stress like keeping your brain stimulated/distracted with puzzles and games, having goals and making plans, exercising to get rid of negative energy, not being a helicopter parent so your children can develop resilience and know how to figure things out for themselves, positive thinking, faking it 'til you make it with smiling, and more.

I liked the conversational writing style ... throughout the book he included personal stories.  It was interesting and informative without being too scientific and amusing at times.  In each chapter, there are summaries which he amusingly refers to as info for the "skimmers".  As a head's up, there is swearing.  

Monday 17 May 2021

Mexican Tortilla Soup Mix, Mitchell’s Soup Company, St. Thomas, ON

I made Mexican Tortilla Soup from a Mitchell’s Soup Company mix (they are in St. Thomas, ON) for supper this evening.

Almost everything is in the mix. All I had to add was browned ground beef or chicken (I used ground turkey), an onion and a can of diced tomatoes. I got it started around 2pm and let it simmer all afternoon. 

Ta-da! When it’s ready, you are supposed to garnish with sour cream (we had none), shredded cheese (we used mozzarella) and crushed tortilla chips. 

It’s really filling and there's lots left over!

Sunday 16 May 2021

Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail, and Ontario Place, Toronto, ON

After I walked through Ontario Place, I walked into Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail ... I love this park and trail!

Another family!

Ontario Place, Toronto, ON

Once I was through Marilyn Bell Park, I walked into Ontario Place.

Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto, ON

After walking along the Martin Goodman Trail, I kept walking eastward to Marilyn Bell Park, which is part of the trail.

Martin Goodman Trail, Toronto, ON

It was such a nice day (warm and sunny) and I went for a long walk.  

I walked west along Queen Street W and  crossed over the bridge that connects Queen Street W/King Street W/Roncesvalles Avenue to the lake at Palais Royale.  I sat on the beach for a while.

I followed the Martin Goodman Trail eastward and hung out on the next beach watching the geese and their babies (the first babies I've seen this year).  It was a nice spot to chill for a bit.