Tuesday 31 August 2021

Sunday 29 August 2021

Book ~ "Malibu Rising" (2021) Taylor Jenkins Reid

From Goodreads ~ Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over - especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud - because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own - including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

June's parents owned a small restaurant in Malibu in the 1950s.  They plan on having her eventually take it over but she has bigger dreams.  She is swept off her feet when she meets Mick, an aspiring singer, who promises her he'll take her away from the restaurant and give her the life she's always dreamed of, which includes a house with a bathroom with double sinks.  They get married, start having children and Mick's singing career takes off.  Alas, Mick isn't faithful and the marriage breaks up.  But Mick realizes what he missed and June takes him back and they get married again.  Not surprising, Mick wanders off again and ignores his family.  This leaves June having to go back to working in the hated restaurant so she can support her four children.

Jump ahead and it's 1983 and June's children are now adults.  Nina, the oldest, is now a model and rich.  Years ago, she started throwing an end of the summer party that has gotten bigger and grander over the years as her popularity grew.  Anyone who knows about the party is invited ... it's a mix of the famous and the non-famous.  She's not really in the mood to host the party because her husband recently left her for another woman.  Her brother, Jay, is doing all he can to ensure the girl he has his eye on attends the party.  Hud, another brother, is keeping a secret ... he's been dating and is in love with Jay's ex-girlfriend and he knows Jay isn't going to be too happy about that.  Kit, the youngest sister, is still trying to figure out who she is.

I thought this book was just okay, I wasn't crazy about it.  It's written in third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action was.  It jumps back and forth in time with June's story and then back to her children's story the day and night of the party in 1983.  As a head's up, there is swearing and drug use.

There were so many people at the party (which a big part of the book) that I had a hard time keeping track who was who ... I wondered why they were even mentioned and why should I care.  There was a lot of detail given about them when they didn't  have any impact on the storyline.  Like the guy who brought a couple bricks of cocaine to the party and shared it with everyone including a waitress.  Or the woman who was heading back home to some small town to get married (she was settling) and wanted one last crazy fling and her goal was to get naked in the hot tub and make out with two guys at the same time.  Huh!?  I didn't need all these details to know that the party was crazy and out of control.  A general sentence of two would have suffice ... in this case, tell me rather than show me would have been okay.

I wasn't crazy about June or Mick and thought their characters were a bit extreme.  June was a doormat who kept waiting for Mick to come back and Mick was a slimy dog who abandoned his family.  I didn't really feel anything for the main characters.

Saturday 28 August 2021

Brazen Head Pub, Toronto, ON

I had lunch this afternoon on the shady patio at the Brazen Head Pub in Liberty Village.

Mill Street Organics were on special for $7 ... sounded good to me!  When my beer arrived, though, there were lip prints on the rim of the glass.  Ew!  So I asked for a new one ... and it took about 20 minutes for it to be replaced.

I ordered wings with Buffalo sauce and asked for ranch dressing rather than blue cheese.  When it arrived, it came with blue cheese.  My server assured me she had asked for ranch dressing (she was friendly and nice).  The manager brought some ranch dressing over shortly and apologized for the error and for the dirty beer glass.

Friday 27 August 2021

King Rustic, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at King Rustic at King Street W/Strachan Avenue.

We sat on the patio on the Strachan Avenue side and a couple of police officers on horseback went by heading south.

Dark & Stormy cocktails were on special for $8 so we ordered one.  I'd never had one before and it was good.

Gord ordered Chicken Ala Vodka Parm Sliders.  He said they were good and he'd get them again.

Thursday 26 August 2021

Book ~ "Golden Girl" (2021) Elin Hilderbrand

From Goodreads ~ On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she's assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes - with or without a nudge of help from above - while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

Vivian is a 50ish novelist who lives in Nantucket.  Her oldest daughter, Willa, is married to her childhood sweetheart and is pregnant for the third time (she miscarried the first two times).  Vivian's daughter, Carson, works at a bar and still lives with her.  She is into partying and drugs and takes advantage of her mother.  Her son, Leo, is the youngest, has just finished high school and is heading off to university at the end of the summer.  Vivian's ex-husband, JP, left her about ten years ago for a younger woman.  Despite coming from a wealthy family and being the cheater, he got to keep the family house and Vivian has to pay him alimony and child support.

One morning Vivian is jogging and gets hit by a car and dies instantly.  Leo's best friend, Cruz, is the one who finds her by the side of the road and calls 911.  Vivian is sent to Beyond, which is the first step I guess before she goes to Heaven.  She is allowed to watch her family and friends for the rest of the summer and is given three nudges, which she can use to change how things were supposed to happen to her family and friends.

Vivian's latest book has just been released.  Throughout the years she has used pieces of her life and Nantucket in her books but this one is closer to the truth ... it's based on her last year in high school when she met bad boy musician Brett and they fell in love and made plans for the future.

I wasn't crazy about this story.  It's not light reading as it includes racism, drug and alcohol abuse, cheating on spouses, etc.  It was more about Vivian's family and friends than her.  I was okay with the writing style though I thought it could have been tighter (there were odd asides in brackets and the constant references to a picture that was emailed around got annoying).  It is written in third person perspective with the focus on the different characters, even Nantucket, depending on where the focus was.

The chief of police investigates and speaks with Vivian's family and friends.  It was obvious to me right away who ran into Vivian by their actions.  I didn't find the characters overly likeable.  Even Vivian wasn't all that likeable ... she was more concerned about how her latest book was doing (hoping for it to be #1 right away) than the mess her family was making of their lives.  I found it weird that she didn't seem bothered that she was dead and her family and friends would have to carry on without her (unrealistically they all seemed to have a happy ending).  And I found it odd that she had been madly in love with her high school boyfriend at that time but then suddenly her feelings died and she moved on.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Small knitted blanket

I have a couple skeins of Bernat Baby Velvet Stripes (Misty Forest) and wanted to knit a small blanket for my sister's dog or cat for Christmas.

Though I like the feel of this yarn, I find it hard to work with so I did something simple.

I cast on 139 stitches using a 5mm circular needle.

I knitted 8 rows in garter stitch.

First row:  knit
Second row:  knit 4, purl 131, knit 4

I kept repeating this pattern until I got to the beginning of the last stripe of dark green.

Then I did this four times:

First row:  knit
Second row:  knit 4, purl 131, knit 4

Then I knitted 8 rows in garter stitch and bound off and tucked in the ends.

Monday 23 August 2021

Coconut Candle Company - August 2021

 My August Coconut Candle Company subscription box (full size) arrived today.

Our subscription box is the best way to experience our hand poured coconut wax candles. Each themed box has a surprise selection of unique candles that we've never released before. 

We have two different boxes available, the full size subscription box with over $100 worth of candles and the mini subscription box with over $80 worth of candles. The full size box also contains a gift from another local business. 

Shipping is included in the price of the boxes. 

Treat yourself or a loved one to an aromatic journey throughout the year!

Sunday 22 August 2021

Book ~ "Falling" (2021) T.J. Newman

From Goodreads ~ You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

Bill is a pilot who got called in at the last minute for a flight to New York.  After he is on his way, he receives a message that his family has been kidnapped.  He has to decide who gets to live.  If he crashes the plane in Washington, killing himself, his crew and the 143 passengers, his family will live.  If he refuses, his family will die.  Bill refuses to crash the plane and demands that his family live.  Unfortunately that's not his decision.  

Jo is part of the crew on the plane and Bill trusts her and tells her what's happening.  She has a nephew who is an FBI agent and texts him for help.  While he is doing all he can to help her, the decisions the FBI and the American president may have to make may not save the plane.

This is the debut novel of this author and I thought it was okay.  For the most part, I liked the writing style, though I found it could have been tighter as it dragged sometimes.  I thought the story was farfetched at times but went with it.  It's too bad the author went with a stereotypical bad guy ... it would have been so much more interesting had she gone a different way for the "whodunnit" and why.  It is written in third person perspective, depending on where the action was.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Saturday 21 August 2021

Book ~ "The Soulmate Equation" (2021) Christina Lauren

From Goodreads ~ Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents - who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno - Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father's never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn't "father material" before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard ... and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that's predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: this Jess understands. At least she thought she did until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly's founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can't wrap her head around because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: get to know him and we'll pay you. Jess - who is barely making ends meet - is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the "Diamond" pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist - and the science behind a soulmate - than she thought.

Jess is a thirty-year-old single mom to seven-year-old Juno. She works freelance as a statistician and she and her author friend, Fizzy, meet every day at a coffee shop to spend the day there working. Every morning at 8:45am a cranky-looking man comes in and orders an Americano coffee.  One day on a whim, Jess and Fizzy talk to him and it turns out he is River Peña, the founder of a matchmaking company called GeneticAlly that matches you up according to your DNA.  

Just for fun, Jess and Fizzy submit their DNA and no one is more surprised than Jess and River when they have a 98% compatibility.  The company makes Jess an offer she can't refuse ... date River for the next three months to see if science is correct and she will be paid $30,000.  She doesn't really like River, she needs the money so she agrees.  As they get to know each other, they start to believe.

This is the first book I've read by these authors (it's a duo) and I thought it was okay.  The concept was interesting.  It is written in third person perspective from Jess' perspective.  There was a lot of science/statistic jargon that went over my head and I found boring.  I thought it was a bit unrealistic how quickly Jess and River got together considering his first impression of her was that she was "average" and she thought he was an A-hole.  Towards the end, there is a surprise which could threaten GeneticAlly's existence and Jess and River's relationship, which I saw coming right from the start.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

Thursday 19 August 2021

Nova Scotia's Community Haul ~ August 2021

I received my August 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.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

My Two Scents, Toronto, ON

I have been following My Two Scents of Toronto on Instagram for a while. I recently ordered some scented candles and they were delivered this evening. 

The personal thank you card was a nice touch as was the complimentary jasmine and rose bath salts.

I ordered orange creamsicle, tropical paradise, citrus twist, brownie and pina colada scented candles.

Monday 16 August 2021

Book ~ "Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers" (2020) Marcello Di Cintio

From Goodreads ~ "A taxi," writes Marcello Di Cintio, "is a border." 

Under the familiar roof light of every cab is a space both private and public: accessible to all and yet, once the doors close, strangely intimate - a space in which two strangers who might otherwise never have met share a five or fifty minute trip. 

Quotidian themselves, taxis transcend everyday barriers between the wealthy and the working class, white people and people of colour, those who give direction and those who follow, those who speak and those who listen - and yet, though driver and fare are close enough to reach out and touch one another, most trips are characterized by complete silence. 

In a series of interviews with North American taxi drivers, Di Cintio seeks out those missed conversations, revealing the untold lives of the people who take us where we want to go.

In 2018, the author spent a year travelling across Canada to seek out the stories of our taxi drivers.  He wanted to hear their back stories, where they came from and how/why they became taxi drivers.  He wasn't interested in meeting the "overeducated" ... those who had degrees from other countries who were forced to drive a taxi because their education wasn't recognized here.  Most drivers didn't want to meet with him or were too busy.  

The drivers he did talk who lived across Canada ... from St. John's, NF, to Yellowknife, YT.  Most came from somewhere else, some from war-torn countries.  He spoke with men and women, some with families and some were single.  

There are fourteen chapters and everyone had a story to tell, including a man who was estranged from his very religious and famous father, an organization in Winnipeg that just drives women so they will be safe, the fight against Uber, a Russian who was stranded in St. John's and longs to go home and more, and I found them interesting.  As a head's up, there are stories of violence and there is swearing.

At the end, there is a postscript to give updates on how the drivers are doing now.  Unfortunately, COVID has hurt the industry ... some drivers are barely getting by and some have left.

Sunday 15 August 2021

Trailhead Place, Ontario Place, Toronto, ON

As I was heading into Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail, I noticed the small parking lot just east of Ontario Place was set up with picnic tables, umbrellas, etc.  

I checked it out after I finished going through the park.  I discovered that Trailhead Place is happening on the weekends until Labour Day. 

Goodie bags are given out as you come in.

Liberty Village Park, Exhibition Place, Coronation Park and Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail, Toronto, ON

It was sunny and warm today ... a nice change from the hot and humid whether we've had lately.  And a great day to go for a big walk!

I headed south towards the water and cut through Liberty Village Park.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Book ~ "You Again?" (2020) Nick Spalding

From Goodreads ~ Amy and Joel’s honeymoon in the Maldives was the perfect week of love, sun, sex and a free minibar ... but unfortunately it was also the high point of a marriage that quickly descended into an absolute disaster zone.

Eight years on, they’re back in paradise, trying to recreate the magic with new partners. What a crying shame they’ve picked the same week to do it.

Trapped together on an island small enough to spit across with the wind behind you, Amy and Joel pick up right where they left off: at total loggerheads. And so begins a hideous week of rivalry, one-upmanship and score-settling - as each tries to prove they’ve now comprehensively won at life.

The thing is, hurt and pain are strongest where there was once love. And what if being back in this island paradise, with all its wonderful memories, sets sparks flying in more ways than one?

Amy and Joel worked well together at a real estate company and ended up getting married.  Things weren't perfect and came to a head when they missed an important meeting with a prospective client ... Amy ended up getting fired, they bitterly divorced and blamed each for the lost client.

Two years later, they have moved on ... Amy is engaged to a nice fella named Ray and Joel is dating a younger woman named Cara, who is the granddaughter of his boss.  They all need a vacation and when a deal pops up on Expedia to Maldives, where Amy and Joel had pleasant memories from when they went there on their honeymoon, little do they know they both go for it the same week.  The two couples end up on the same flight, the same boat right to the resort and yes, the same resort.  It's a small resort so needless to say, it's hard not to run into each other.  Amy and Joel are still very angry with each other and when they aren't trying to avoid each other, try to sabotage each other's vacation every chance they get.

This is the seventh book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I liked the writing style ... it was funny and light.  It is written in first person perspective in Amy and Joel's voices and it's as if they are speaking to me, the reader.  The author is English as are the characters so there were some references to people I didn't know.  As a head's up, there is a swearing (lots of F-bombs).

Sunday 8 August 2021

Honeycomb dishcloth

The Year of the Dishcloth is organized by the Kitchen Sink Shop. August's pattern is Honeycomb.

I used Bernat Handicrafter cotton yarn and a 5mm circular needle.

Cast on 36 stitches.

  • Row 1: *K1, P1*, repeat to end
  • Row 2: *P1, K1*, repeat to end
  • Row 3: Same as Row 1
  • Row 4: Same as Row 2

Honeycomb Pattern
  • Row 1: K1, P1 K1, P1, *K4, P6, K4* 2 times, K1, P1, K1, P1
  • Row 2: P1, K1, P1, K1, Purl across to last 4 stitches, P1, K1, P1, K1
  • Row 3: Same as Row 1
  • Row 4: P1, K1, P1, K1, *P3, K1, P6, K1, P3* 2 times, P1, K1, P1, K1
  • Row 5: K1, P1, K1, P1, *K2, P1, K8, P1, K2* 2 times, K1, P1, K1, P1
  • Row 6: P1, K1, P1, K1, *P1, K1, P10, K1, P1* 2 times, P1, K1, P1, K1
  • Row 7: K1, P1, K1, P1, *P1, K12, P1* 2 times, K1, P1, K1, P1
  • Row 8: Same as Row 6
  • Row 9: Same as Row 5
  • Row 10: Same as Row 4
  • Row 11: Same as Row 1
  • Row 12: Same as Row 2
  • Repeat Honeycomb pattern Rows 1-12 3 more times (4 total)

  • Row 1: *K1, P1*, repeat to end
  • Row 2: *P1, K1*, repeat to end
  • Row 3: Same as Row 1
  • Row 4: Bind off in pattern

Bind off and weave in the ends.

Book ~ "Just the Funny Parts" (2018) Nell Scovell

From Goodreads ~ "Just the Funny Parts" is a juicy and scathingly funny insider look at how pop culture gets made. For more than thirty years, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows, including "The Simpsons", "Late Night with David Letterman", "Murphy Brown", "NCIS", "The Muppets" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch", which she created and executive produced.

In 2009, Scovell gave up her behind-the-scenes status when the David Letterman sex scandal broke. Only the second woman ever to write for his show, Scovell used the moment to publicly call out the lack of gender diversity in late-night TV writers’ rooms. “One of the boys” came out hard for “all of the girls.” Her criticisms fueled a cultural debate. Two years later, Scovell was collaborating with Sheryl Sandberg on speeches and later on Lean In, which resulted in a worldwide movement.

Now Scovell is opening up with this fun, honest and often shocking account. Scovell knows what it’s like to put words in the mouths of President Barack Obama, Mark Harmon, Candice Bergen, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Alyssa Milano and Kermit the Frog, among many others. Through her eyes, you’ll sit in the Simpson writers’ room ... stand on the Oscar red carpet ... pin a tail on Miss Piggy ... bond with Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy ... and experience a Stephen King-like encounter with Stephen King.

"Just the Funny Parts" is a fast-paced account of a nerdy girl from New England who fought her way to the top of the highly-competitive, male-dominated entertainment field. The book delivers invaluable insights into the creative process and tricks for navigating a difficult workplace. It's part memoir, part how-to, and part survival story. 

Nell Scovell is an American television and magazine writer, and producer.  I had never heard of her ... I came across her book on the Toronto Public Library site as a "Staff Pick".  I like getting the behind the scenes scoop on how things work and it sounded interesting.

Scovell started off as a magazine writer and then moved on to write for television. In 2009, after David Letterman admitted to having sexual relationships with his female staffers, she published an essay in Vanity Fair calling his show a "hostile work environment" for women.  She has gone on to write a book with Sheryl Sandberg, political speeches and more and fights for gender and racial equality in the workplace.

I thought this book was okay.  It was interesting to read about her interactions and friendships with famous people.  The writing could have been tighter, though ... or maybe it was just about some things I wasn't interested in.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

Saturday 7 August 2021

Classic Ripple Afghan

Minnie, my late mother-in-law, was a knitter for many years. When she downsized two summers ago, Gord brought me home her knitting bag with an afghan she had started. 

I got the bag out about seven weeks ago to knit it. Minnie hadn’t gotten too far and I didn’t know when she stopped working on it so I took it apart to start over to ensure the gauge was consistent.  I finished it tonight.

The pattern is Classic Ripple Afghan and is obviously well-used and well-loved. It’s from 1974 and the price sticker says it was $1 at Sears.

What do you need?
  • 2 4-oz skeins of colour A knitted worsted weight yarn - I used black
  • 3 4-oz skeins of colour B knitted worsted weight yarn - I used white
  • 3 4-oz skeins of colour C knitted worsted weight yarn - I used light pink
  • 3 4-oz skeins of colour D knitted worsted weight yarn - I used dark pink
  • 36 inch needle, size 4mm

Pattern ~ 303 stitches on needle
  • 2 rows colour A
  • 12 rows colour B
  • 2 rows colour A
  • 12 rows colour C
  • 2 rows colour A
  • 12 rows colour D

Do this 6 times, then ...
  • 2 rows dark green
  • 12 rows white
  • 2 rows dark green

I could only do it 5 times because I ran out of light pink yarn halfway through the six row.

Row 1
K1, slip 1, K1, passover stitch, *K9, insert needle into next 2 stitches as if to knit them together and slip them, K1, passover 2 slipped*, repeat * to *, K2 together, K1

Row 2
P6, *P into front and back of next stitch, P9*, repeat * to *, P6

Keep repeating these two rows.