Friday, July 31, 2009

photo Friday

Glenn Gould, as he sits outside, in front of the CBC headquarters in Toronto.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

music Tuesdays - Danny Michel

Danny Michel - Welcome Home

I first became acquainted with Danny Michel's music when I was in high school and he was in a band called The Rhinos. They eventually broke up and I lost track of him. In December 2007, Steve and I went to a live Vinyl Cafe show and Danny Michel was one of the musical guests. He played a few tunes acoustically and I remembered why I was such a big fan. He is a story teller, as much through his music as through his lyrics. His voice is unique. He can manipulate it perfectly to suit the subject matter of his songs. Welcome Home is a collection of previously recorded material all performed acoustically. Just Danny and his guitar. It's thoughtful and introspective. The kind of album you throw on when you just want to sit back and concentrate on the music.

I couldn't find a good video to use from this album, so here's the title track from his most recent release. You'll get the idea.

Monday, July 27, 2009

it ain't over yet...

I'm notorious for starting knitting projects and either not finishing them or taking forever to finish them. I hate this about my knitting habit so I'm making a concerted effort to finish the projects I currently have on the go. It's hard to do because I just don't get a lot of knitting time in. I used to knit on the commute to and from work, at least 2 hours a day. Now I'm lucky if I get 20 minutes a week in. Really, I just need to organize my time better and make the most of the time I get for myself when the little dude sleeps. I'm working on that.

In the meantime, the drive to the cottage was a big factor in helping me finish my first Claptois. It's an absolutely stunning shawl. Most knitters know this pattern, it's a very popular one and I've been wanting to knit it for ages. I honestly thought I was the last knitter on earth who hadn't made one but it turns out that a few of the ladies in my knitting group haven't made it either. If you knit, I highly recommend this pattern. It's easy, fast and incredibly rewarding. I could see myself doing this one again. Once I finish my other projects, of course.

Friday, July 24, 2009

photo Friday

I spent last weekend with an awesome group of ladies at our annual Girl's Weekend at Elizabeth's cottage on Lake Erie. The weather was not fantastic but we sat outside as much as we could, often bundled up in sleeping bags and blankets. There was a storm brewing over the lake. Maybe even a tornado?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm a weirdo...

One thing I've had to get used to as a new mom is talking to strangers. When you're out in public with an infant, people you do not know are magnetically attracted to you. I understand this and most of the time it doesn't bother me when people try to interact with Alex. Even though it can get a wee bit annoying if I am in a rush, I realize that 99.9% of the time, these people are perfectly harmless. But every once in a while, you are reminded that there are very strange and somewhat frightening people in the world.

The little dude was having some pretty serious teething angst today and I needed to distract him. Usually this means going for a walk but since it was pouring out, my next option was to take him to the mall. Surrounded by lights, colours and noise he was perfectly happy in his stroller, taking it all in. Now the mall I went to has two floors. As I was boarding the elevator to go up, a woman came in behind me. She was probably in her late 40's and likely past child-bearing age. We were the only passengers on a very small elevator. She spoke.

"Oh, you have a baby! I want one so much"

Then the elevator doors closed.

She then went on to show my a box small blue box in her hand that apparently held a pewter coin bank in the shape of an arc. It was for the baby boy of a friend of her's. His name is Noah. Hence the arc. "Isn't that sweet? I had it engraved." I agreed and made sure to go in the opposite direction when exiting the elevator. I even watched her exit the mall completely. It was that creepy. I wasn't afraid for our safety, it was just a little off-putting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

music Tuesdays - The Vanity Project

This week's entry is not a new release, but it came to mind when I found Steven Page's name in the news today. According to reports, he and his girlfriend bought a house next door to the apartment in which they were busted for cocaine possession last year. Apparently, this is newsworthy. I'm a fan of Steven Page but I don't need to know every detail of his life. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that his personal life is on track since the unfortunate incident, but seriously why is this information being reported as if it were of international importance? One paper even went as far as to print the address of his new home. Whatever happened to journalistic integrity? Or common decency? Leave the guy and his girlfriend alone. Let them get on with their lives. Just let me know when his new CD is out.

The Vanity Project - The Vanity Project

Released in 2005, The Vanity Project is a collection of songs written by Steven Page and Stephen Duffy. The two first became acquainted when Page wrote Duffy a fan letter. That correspondence led to a songwriting partnership that produced a few excellent tracks (Alcohol from Stunt, and Jane from Maybe You Should Drive, to name a couple) included on some earlier Barenaked Ladies albums. This album consists both of tunes that didn't make it on to BNL records and that were recorded specifically for this project. Page performs all of the lead vocals, so really, it feels like a Steven Page solo record. But truly, this album is all about the songs, so Duffy's contribution cannot be ignored. Both men show off their gift for lyrics and melody and that's what really stands out for me. I also enjoy the folk feel of the album. You can totally imagine these songs performed acoustically, outside, under the stars. Now that Page is no longer a Barenaked Lady, I hope there is another Vanity Project in his future. Wherever he may be living.

Monday, July 20, 2009

how sweet it is...

I try to buy locally grown produce as much as possible. Sadly, our grocery stores are filled with imported produce even though our little patch of suburbia is surrounded by rich farm land. As I was on my way to drop the little dude off at my parents' place this morning so that I could go to a doctor's appointment, I noticed that the sign for Hutchinson Farm, located a mere 8 kilometers from my parents' house, was advertising that their raspberries were ready. I love all berries and raspberries may be my favourite fruit. So after my appointment I convinced my mom to accompany Alex and I to Hutchinson Farm.

In addition to these deliciously, sweet raspberries...

I picked up these lovely beets.

They also had some beautiful zucchini, both green & yellow, but I didn't buy any since I had some in the fridge at home. I see by their website that they also grow several varieties of tomatoes and peppers among other items. I was so impressed by the freshness and quality of what I bought today that I will definitely go back and check out these crops when they are ready.

Now I need to get a damp cloth to clean the raspberry stains off my laptop. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

photo Friday

The addition of the music Tuesdays feature has really helped me keep up with the blog. I find that I am more motivated to get a post in before the next Tuesday rolls around, simply because I don't want this to be a blog of just music posts on Tuesdays. So I've decided to start a photo Friday feature in hopes that it will get me blogging even more. And I do take a lot of pictures that just end up sitting on my hard drive. Also, I'm over a year behind in updating my Flickr, so this might help with that problem as well.

Okay, enough talking. Here are few pics from our last trip to the cottage.

The black squirrel was scurrying up a tree with a mouthful of sunflower seeds we had thrown out for the animals.

We think this gorgeous heron nests on the property. He doesn't normally get this close. The picture is a bit fuzzy because it was taken through the glass of the front door.

Enjoy your summer weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009 beer

It's not very often these days that I buy the beer for the household. Since I don't drink a lot of beer, Steve usually does the purchasing. But once in a while, I make the beer run. Now in Ontario, one normally goes to The Beer Store to purchase their rations although the LCBO also stocks beer. At most of the Beer Store locations you walk up to the counter, place your order, and your case of suds appears, flying down the metal rollers from behind a plastic curtain. Magic! But some locations are what I like to call, the Women's Beer Store. You walk into a giant cooled room and pick up the case or cases of choice. So why do I cal it the Women's Beer Store? Well if you follow social stereotypes, men hate shopping and women love it. Men go in, get what they want, and get the hell out. Women browse, checking out every aisle, whether it contains what they are looking for or not. I usually go into the Women's Beer Store with a pretty good idea of what I will be leaving with, but I look around anyway and always end up picking up a little something interesting. And that's what I did last week.

Brewed by Toronto's Mill St. Brewery, the Belgian Wit may just be the ultimate summer beer. It's an unfiltered, wheat beer and refreshing doesn't even begin to describe it. Orange peel and corriander give it both a fruity and slightly spicy taste. I would suggest enjoying it with a slice of orange. If you're a fan of Hoegaarden or Keith's Premium White, add this one to your list. Fantastic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

music Tuesdays - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Today's music pick is not a new recording. But it's newer than you might think.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights

I first heard of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings on The Lascivious Biddies podcast (more about them in a future installment of music Tuesdays). When I checked it out, I was blown away. This album sounds like it's straight out of the 1960's. It was recorded in 2007. Sharon and her incredible band sound like they are channeling Aretha Franklin and James Brown, just to name a few, but totally making it their own at the same time.

See what I mean? Just a few weeks ago, they played at the Toronto Jazz Festival. Steve and I went and we both agreed that this was one of the best live shows we have ever seen. And we've seen a lot of them. I took a bit of video during the show. Not the greatest quality, or steadiest camera work, but here they are doing a little tribute to Michael Jackson, the day after his death.

Monday, July 13, 2009

shiny and new

I have been dying to overhaul the look of the blog for a while. I've gotten bored with the current layout. So the makeover begins today. Knowing me, it will take a while, but I'm hoping it will encourage me to blog more. So be prepared to be dazzled. Not really, just bear with me as I move the furniture around.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

use it or lose it

Typically, when a couple gets married, they have a gift registry at a major department store, so that friends and relations can purchase something the couple needs/wants and avoid gift duplication. Steve and I have been married for almost 9 years. And up until recently, we owned items, received as wedding gifts, that we had rarely or never used. Not that these gifts were not appreciated. But there's some sort of bizarre social pressure to register for things that you have absolutely no use for. Kitchen appliances are the biggest culprit. And we have them all. Since I've been feeling the need to purge our house of unneeded stuff lately, I've been going at the kitchen, full force. I've filled a few boxes full of stuff that we don't use and/or won't miss. They will be donated to charity. In my cleaning frenzy, I was reminded that we actually owned a deep fryer. Seriously, who needs a deep fryer? My mother is now the proud owner of a used only once deep fryer. I don't imagine she will actually use it that much either but hey, it's not taking up space in my house anymore. Then I can across the ice cream maker. Hmm, what to do. I love ice cream and it is a semi-regular grocery purchase for us. Could I make better tasting, better for me ice cream at home? Or was it not worth the time or effort. Well...

I decided to start with a simple lime sorbet.

All you do is turn limes into lime juice and mix it with simple syrup, which is just equal parts sugar and water, boiled to melt the sugar.

Throw it in the ice cream maker...

...and watch the magic happen.

The whole process took about half an hour.

And the result...

...limey, tarty, frosty goodness.

We then made a lemon sorbet that was fantastic and a strawberry cantaloupe sorbet that worked out but didn't taste so great. Not to me anyway.

With a few simple sorbets under my belt, I moved on to ice cream.

The mint chocolate chip was a hit.

As was the strawberry.

The ice creams take a bit more work but is well worth the effort. It's nice to have ice cream in the freezer that is free of unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives and that tastes delicious. Of course, you can't keep it as long but since it's rare for a carton of ice cream to last more than a few days in our house, no big deal. With my love of ice cream, I can't believe that I actually waited this long to use the damn thing. So the ice cream maker is definitely a keeper.

This week is my dad's 70th birthday. Vanilla ice cream is his favourite. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

music Tuesdays - Joel Plaskett

The short list for the Polaris Prize was announced today. This is a fantastic award that recognizes Canadian talent and is not based on record sales. The winning artist receives $20,000. Pretty cool. I've only listened to a few albums on the list, but this is one of my favourites.

Joel Plaskett - Three

This album actually consists of three sets of nine songs. Many of the songs have the same words repeated three times, such as the first single, Through & Through & Through. So obviously the number three is some sort of unifying theme. Plaskett is an excellent lyricist and that really stands out on this album. I'm a sucker for good lyrics. Mostly, I just find this album really easy to listen too. There is something very Canadian about his sound, but I couldn't even begin to tell you what that means. Maybe it's the hint of folk and country influences. Maybe it's because the music just feels real and uncomplicated. I don't really know, I just know that I like it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

alvin, simon, theodore?

We spent about 5 days at the cottage last week, basically just getting it set up for later in the summer when we plan to be up for 2 weeks. As is the custom, we put peanuts out for the wildlife. As you will see, the chipmunks are extra friendly this year.