Friday, April 27, 2007

cover me

Another baby blanket completed.

Once again I used Lion Brand Homespun yarn. This was my first experience sewing squares together. I did o.k. My biggest screw up was messing up the configuration of the colours. I totally mixed up the order of the squares. Of course I didn't realize this until I was completely done. I didn't want to damage the squares so I left it as is. The new owner of this blanket was born just a couple of weeks ago. I hope she's enjoying it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

i am crazy...

When one blog is not enough, start a second one!

Yes I have started another blog. One would think that I have way too much free time on my hands. Honestly, I'm not sure how I will manage two blogs along with everything else in my life, but given my recent concern and awareness for my health and the environment, I felt compelled to do this.

Wish me luck!

Monday, April 23, 2007

domo arigato...

My husband went to Japan and all I got was...

...this delicious bottle of 17 year old Suntory Whisky. Really the gift is for him, but he says it's for both of us so I plan to consume my fair share.

"For quiet times, make it Suntory Time."

who draws the crowd and plays so loud, baby it's the guitar man

I can't promise that this will be the last post related to BNL's Bathroom Sessions, but I had to put this one up.

How cool is it for Ed Robertson to do this!!! These guys really appreciate their fans. And that's why we're so damn loyal!

the best is yet to come...

There is hope for the Toronto Musical Theatre scene!

Back in the 1990's the scene was thriving thanks to Livent and the Mirvishes. So far this century, musicals have struggled to keep a decent run in Toronto. Even the brilliant Mel Brooks show, The Producers barely lasted a year. (Sadly, the Broadway production closed yesterday after a 6 year run.) Hopefully, Dancap will be able to revive the fledgling musical theatre scene. Personally, I can't wait to see Avenue Q, Jersey Boys and The Drowsy Chaperone. Each of these shows have been smash hits on Broadway. There's no reason why they shouldn't enjoy long runs in Toronto. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

turn your lights down low...

Great news!
But why is it taking so long? Seriously, 2012?!?

my life

The Soundtrack to Your Life

I saw this on Pel's blog and had to try it out.


So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc.).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every question, type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button.
6. Don't lie and try to pretend your cool...because you're not.

Opening Credits:
I Could Die For You - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Waking Up:
Lovers In A Dangerous Time - Barenaked Ladies

First Day At School:
Pull Me Through - Jim Cuddy

Falling In Love:
The Sad Cafe - Eagles (how depressing!)

Fight Song:
Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand

Breaking Up:
All I Can Do Is Cry - Etta James (how appropriate!)

Soft and Wet - Prince (I am not making this up!)

Do You Know? - The Odds

Mental Breakdown:
Uptight - Green Day

Magic Bus - The Who (excellent!)

My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker

Tango Till They're Sore - Holly Cole (well, there was some serious dancing at our wedding)

Birth Of Child:
A Case Of You - Joni Mitchell

Final Battle:
10 Dollar - M.I.A.

Death Scene:
Jump, Jive, An' Wail - Louis Prima (hee, hee)

Funeral Song:
The Night Pat Murphy Died - Great Big Sea (I get the feeling that my funeral will be a great party!)

End Credits:
Never - The Cool Waters Band

What's your soundtrack?

Monday, April 16, 2007

i want candy!

Hi. My name is Vivian. And I'm a Facebook-aholic.

I've been on Facebook for about two weeks. It's pretty much all I think about. I actually just spent the last three solid hours on Facebook. I even taped 24 instead of watching it(Kiefer, please forgive me), so that I could be on Facebook. I think it's safe to say, that I have a problem.

Of course, it's not all bad. I have reconnected with friends from University that I haven't spoken to in over 10 years. And I'm in closer contact with friends that I see more often, yet not often enough. So is it really all that bad?

As long as I still manage to get the laundry done, it's all good.

I think this video is a good summary of the Facebook phenomenon. My friend Robyn, who I haven't seen in about 6 years but am now in contact with again thanks to Facebook, sent me the link.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

i hate myself for loving you...

I have resisted the urge since I first heard the song, but I could resist no longer. Today, I bought the debut album by Mika from the iTunes Music Store. His first single, Grace Kelly, is getting serious hype and radio airplay. I usually stay away from music that gets this sort of attention because it is usually over-produced crap. But there is something about this guy. I've never heard anything more eclectic! He seems equally inspired by the Beatles, Erasure, Robbie Williams, Queen, ABBA and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And his voice...holy crap this guy can sing! I'm hooked and I am no longer ashamed to admit it!

And if you don't believe that he can cut it live, I went looking for proof and found this.

take it outside...

One of the things I love about the Internet is how it breeds creativity. I saw this featured on blogUT. Miranda July is a performance artist, writer, director, actress and musician. To promote the release of her latest book, she has created an entire website on a dry-erase board. Sometimes the only way to get noticed is to differentiate yourself from others. This very clever website might just do the trick.

And yes, I ordered the book.

June Callwood, 1924-2007

June Callwood passed away this morning at the age of 82. She was a remarkable woman. She fought hard for social justice and Canada is a better place for her efforts. Click here to see her final media interview.

Friday, April 13, 2007

clap for the wolfman

Our friends Julie and Greg gave us a bottle of Wolf Blass Gray Label Shiraz (2003) a while back. Since they are getting married tomorrow, we figured tonight would be an excellent time to crack that sucker open! And we did.

We decided to go the wine snob route and decant it. We bought a funky little funnel on a recent trip to Niagara on the Lake. It has a cool corkscrew look.

Decanting it really showed off its gorgeous, deep cherry colour.

After letting it breath for about half an hour, it was time to taste. If I was only allowed one word to describe this wine it would be, pepper. From the aroma to the taste this wine is all pepper all the time. There are some other spicy notes and the slightest hint of bitter chocolate too but pepper is the dominant flavour. It mellowed out as it sat in the decanter but the bold spicy flavour and long finish remained. It made an excellent accompaniment to our gourmet pizza dinner.

$33.25 at the LCBO.

jeepers, creepers...

Last night I went over to Elizabeth's for a CSI viewing party. Basically, the two of us sit around, drink wine, eat snacks and watch the new episode of CSI. It's always a great hang.

Elizabeth has two wonderful cats, Othello and Leo. I love cats and have a particular fondness for Othello. He is a soft, fluffy, black cat. He's getting up there in age and is missing most, if not all, of his teeth. Consequently, his cute little tongue is usually hanging out the side of his mouth. It's very endearing. I was petting him, as I usually do, as he sat beside me on the couch. I remember rubbing my eyes at one point and then all of a sudden they were very itchy. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and was shocked by my reflection in the mirror. My eyes were very red and my eyelids had begun to swell. I could feel my nasal passages filling up. By the time I got home my eyeballs were swelling! Who knew that your eyeballs could swell! I popped a Reactine, covered my eyes with a cold, wet facecloth and crawled into bed thinking that all would be well when I got up in the morning. No such luck. My eyes were completely swollen to the point that I could not see out of my right eye at all. It actually took about 5 minutes of standing in the bathroom with the light on before I could open my left eye enough to see how bad it really was. Not pretty! In addition, I thought that Niagara Falls was coming out of my eyes! My tear ducts were in overdrive. Needless to say, I did not go to work today. No one needs to see this!

It's a few hours later now, both eyes are open, and the swelling has gone down considerably, I'm sure in part to the Reactine. I was told by a doctor a long time ago that I probably had a mild allergy to cats but I didn't really buy it as I have never had a reaction like this. While in university, I took care a friend's cat for a month until he found it a new home and I never had so much as a sniffle. Weird. Of course, this won't stop me from playing with Othello or any other cat for that matter. But next time I might bring gloves.

Monday, April 9, 2007

if you could read my mind...

Alright e-Liz. This one's for you. I found this on Pel's blog.

I'm ashamed at how few of these I have read. Does it count if I have seen the movie? Is it wrong that if I've seen the movie, I don't want to read the book? Is there something wrong with me because I have zero interest in the Lord of The Rings?

Look at the list of books below:
* Bold the ones you’ve read,
* Italicize the ones you want to read
* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

wishin' and hopin'

As I was preparing our Easter lunch feast, I was getting caught up on my backlog of podcasts. On a recent edition of CBC Radio's The Current, they reported on the town of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, the first Canadian city to ban the sale and distribution of plastic bags. How amazing is this? An entire town without plastic bags! And they are not alone. San Francisco has already implemented a ban on plastic bags and many other countries, such as Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy and South Africa have also done so. This is very encouraging news. Hopefully other Canadian cities will follow suit.

and the band played on

In a previous post, I lamented the demise of the oh so excellent, Cool Waters Band. I was thrilled to discover that Greg Waters teamed up with Mark Little and released an album titled, The Roots. I immediately went over to iTunes to download it and discovered that it was released in 2005. I have to admit that I was a bit sad. I had hoped that this was a sign that this amazing band, who play their final concert this week, would still be carrying on in some form. I bought the CD anyway and it is fantastic, raw and funky! I sure hope that more music from these guys is on the way...

thank you for the music

I try very hard to support Canadian music. Through the magic of iTunes, I've subscribed to a number of podcasts that highlight Canadian music. Maybe I'm getting old, but I just can't get excited about any of the up and coming bands that these podcasts are touting as the best new Canadian talent. I'm starting to feel like a bad Canadian, and believe me, I am a pretty hardcore patriot!

I have recently discovered two UK bands that I just love!

The Shakes are a 4 piece from London, England. When I first heard their song Liberty Jones on about 5 million podcasts in one week, I wasn't all that impressed. Frankly, I was quite annoyed that every podcaster in the universe was playing this song. That's usually the first clue that I will absolutely fall in love with a band. And I did! Soon afterwards, I was on the Podsafe Music Network listening to Liberty Jones over and over again. The really cool thing about this band is that they don't have a record deal and they don't have a full length album out. They have been releasing singles every few months and promoting themselves through the Internet. I can honestly say that the minute they have a CD out I will download it! In the meantime, I look forward to each new single, live track, podcast, and whatever else they put out on their website or the Podsafe Music Network. These guys are totally taking matters into their own hands! It's refreshing to see a band take a different approach. I hope it's working for them.

I am also totally into The Fratellis. These guys got a huge break when their tune, Flathead, was featured in an Apple ad promoting iPod + iTunes. There music is catchy and fun with some excellent lyrics. I'm a total sucker for great lyrics! From what I can tell, they are also an indie band and seem to be developing a good following.

So maybe I'm just more in tune with the UK sound these days. Whatever it is, I highly recommend that you check out both of these awesome bands.

I did it my way...

June Callwood is one of Canada's greatest journalists, authors and advocates for social justice. She was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2004 and was admitted to hospital last week. She gave her last interview to George Stroumboulopoulos on The Hour on CBC. She's an amazing woman and George does a fantastic interview. If we could all embody her spirit and positivity, the world would be a much better place.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

just give me something, something I can use...

enough said

a natural woman

Dove has been running a great ad campaign featuring "average" women. No super models, no stick-figures, just normal, everyday women. Apparently, their recent ad has been banned in several American cities for showing too much skin. Funny isn't it. Too much skin is o.k. if a woman is 20-something & skinny with big boobs, but not if she is of an average build and over 50. We wouldn't want to live in reality, would we.

wrap it up

I recently completed a couple of projects. They actually turned out pretty well, so I thought I would share them with you.

I am particularly proud of this one, as it is my first successful crochet attempt. This baby blanket will be heading out to Regina, Saskatchewan to welcome the newest addition to our friends Corey and Samantha's family. This blanket is made from Lion Brand Cotton-Ease and consists of three strands of yarn, in three different colours, held together. It's a fast and easy pattern, that makes a great, summer-weight baby blanket.

I am totally addicted to Lion Brand Homespun yarn, I decided to try the 6-hour Throw from the Lion Brand website. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have an incredibly short attention span, so any pattern that takes just a few hours makes me very happy. And this one turned out to be a very cozy couch blanket. Perfect for our freezing cold family room in the basement!

in the drink

I picked up a bottle of 2005 Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Zinfandel from California this week. I was first introduced to this wine by the lovely couple that bought our Toronto condo before we made the moved to Burlington almost 5 years ago. Until that point, I only knew of White Zinfandel, also known in my circles as "pink party wine." I had never had a red Zinfandel before and instantly fell in love with this one.

Ruby red in colour, this wine has a nose of spice and pepper. The flavour is slightly lighter than the aroma suggests, but full of fresh, dark berries, vanilla and licorice, with a long, dry finish. At the LCBO, $14.15.

By the way, if you enjoy wine and especially love a non wine snob review, check out the Wineass podcast. Unfortunately, I can't get many of the wines he reviews in my area, but he is highly entertaining.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

you talk, talk, talk to me

What's your Slanguage?

I was relieved that my Canadian-ness won out, but why is my prison slang knowledge so high?

Thanks to pel for this one.

Your Slanguage Profile

Canadian Slang: 75%

Aussie Slang: 50%

Prison Slang: 50%

British Slang: 25%

New England Slang: 25%

Victorian Slang: 25%

let the music do the talking

At least one record company is finally getting it!

EMI announced yesterday that they will sell their music DRM free on iTunes. This is a huge step forward for digital music. Basically, DRM software prevents songs purchased from iTunes to be transferred to a digital player other than an iPod. Selling music without this copyright protection is a huge advantage for Apple, but also for the consumer. The iTunes Music Store has the best digital catalog of all of the online suppliers. Without DRM, this catalog is opened up to all owners of digital music players, not just iPod owners.

The only thing I'm not sure of is the new price. DRM free tracks will sell for $1.29 each instead of the standard iTunes charge of $0.99. Why are we paying more for something we never should have been burdened with in the first place?

Regardless of the price, this is a huge move forward. It's only a matter of time before other record companies follow suit.

Monday, April 2, 2007

i'm here to remind you...

I loved Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill album. I can't say that I've been a huge fan of her subsequent releases but I do believe that she is a very talented musician. Well check out this little gem I found on You Tube! Alanis takes an absolutely awful song and shows us how ridiculous it really is, while displaying her excellent vocal and interpretive talent at the same time. Enjoy!

who could ask for anything more...

Busy weekend! So much to blog about.

Steve and I went out for a fantastic meal on Friday night. We had a gift certificate for a free dinner for two (appetizer, entree & dessert) at Tundra Restaurant at the Hilton Toronto. Although the chef that made the restaurant famous was no longer there, we were treated to an exquisite meal. On top of that, our waiter was perhaps the best waiter I have ever encountered in Canada. I wish I remembered his name because I would totally call the restaurant manager to sing his praises! Most servers, if handed a coupon for a free meal wouldn't work so hard but this guy was incredibly attentive. He described the menu in great detail, making excellent recommendations and knew exactly when to check on us to make sure we had what we needed. Knowing that we were on a time line, he made sure that our meal arrived in good time, had us order our dessert before we finished our entrees and offered us coffee to go so that we would get to our concert on time. He definitely earned the tip we left.

So what did we eat? I started with the Caesar salad. The lettuce was crisp, the dressing not too heavy and the Parmesan shaved in large, thin pieces. Delicious! Steve had the crab cakes and they were fantastic! The just melted in your mouth with a delicate sweetness. We ordered the same entree, since we are both suckers for a good steak. The fillet Mignon was like butta! This may have been the best restaurant steak I have ever had. And the roasted root vegetables and fritters that accompanied it were fantastic. For desert, Steve had an incredible molten chocolate cake and I dove into a trio of creme brulee, cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla. Heavenly! I can't forget to mention the wine! The Fielding Estate Cabernet Franc was excellent! (unfortunately, I can't remember the year) If I remember correctly, Steve's first reaction was "well smack my mouth!" Yes it's a bold wine, with hints of leather, ripe berries and chocolate. We are definitely planning a trip to Fielding Estate to sample some more.

After dinner, we headed over to the University of Toronto Faculty of Music to hear a concert. Any concert at the Faculty is special for me because I work there. As difficult and as stressful as my job gets, seeing the students on stage performing is such a rush. This concert combined our three choirs, the MacMillan Singers, University Women's Chorus and Master Chorale with the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a wonderful performance of Bruckner's Te Deum. I must admit, I got emotional even before the concert started. I know how hard these kids work. I know how stressful this point in the school year is for them. I know what it takes for them to get to the moment of performance. No matter what else is going on, they always rise to the occasion. They sang and played there hearts out and the audience gave them the love they deserved.

After the intermission, the orchestra tore into Mahler's Symphony No. 1. Once again, they did not disappoint! They played their best and the audience loved it. I grinned and applauded like a proud parent. That's always how I feel when I see them perform. It doesn't have to be perfect. They're students, they are still learning. But to see all of their handwork pay off is so incredibly rewarding. And it reminds me why I still work there.