Friday, November 29, 2019

Little Letters

In May, my friend Bekah did a blog with "little letters." You can read her post here. I've had the idea for this post since then but am just getting to it now.

Dear November...Considering there wasn't a lot going on this month, you flew by awfully quickly. How did that happen and how is it DECEMBER in two days??? Please explain.

Dear library holds... How can I possibly convince you to space yourselves out a little more rather than coming in all at once??? Especially when a couple of you are "14 day" turnaround times. I really wish you could communicate with each other and get your acts together. Please...

Dear city... Even though the weather didn't cooperate, please please please say you will still come and suck up all the leaves we raked to the curb. I really don't want to have to bag them and take them to the landfill. And pay to do so. The other option is that the bags would hang out in our garage all winter which is also not ideal. If you come and suck them up, it saves me so much time and money. Thank you.

Dear laundry... Why are you never finished? Why are there always piles of you for me to deal with -- wash, fold, put away, repeat? Will there ever be a day when I'm not having to think about you without paying any consequences???

Dear Black Friday in Canada... I really don't like you. You showed up suddenly about five years ago and now it feels like we can't get rid of you. We celebrate Thanksgiving in October so you really don't make any sense. We used to have our Boxing Day sales (because it's a stat holiday here, and you know, we're Canadian) and now you've overshadowed those. Go back to where you came from please.

Dear White Table... Why are you never cleaned off? I honestly make my best efforts and it's like you're a magnet for all the things. How do I de-magnetize you?

Dear yeast... Thank you for being so small yet doing such mighty work. I use you up to three times a week some weeks when I make pizza dough, bake challah, and bake buns. Thank you for existing and adding such deliciousness to our lives :)

Dear blog readers... Thank you for reading my blog, giving me ideas for fun posts, and generally making life more interesting. I really appreciate you all. Also, if you decide to write some "little letters" of your own, please let me know so that I can read them.

Love,
Natasha

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What's Up Wednesday: November 2019

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday for November. As I mentioned in October's WUW post (which you can read here), I had never done an October WUW. Well, this is my first November one as well. And before I get on with the post, for the last two months I have read almost every single WUW post on the link and I have enjoyed that so much. I'm looking forward to reading all of your posts again today.Or you know, over the next few days :)
image from here

What we're eating this week... I made orange cranberry muffins on Sunday and I've been having them for breakfast every day this week. You can find the recipe (which I found on Pinterest) here. Muffins are a staple in our house and, when I don't have time to bake them, we don't really know what to do.

What I'm reminiscing about... Since we are an interfaith family (I am Christian, my husband is Jewish -- our whole family is involved in both faiths), it's hard to find seasonal matching family pajamas. However, last year I found non-Christmas themed matching family pjs through a Canadian doll company, Maplelea. (You can check out their website here -- this is not sponsored, I just really like them.) I'm excited about this year's pjs (which we will give the kids on December 1) so until then, I'm remembering how fun last year was!

What I'm loving... My daughter, Rachel, who is eight and a half, is going to be worship leading at our church with an adult mentor in a few weeks. I love how deliberate and thoughtful she has been about putting together the service.
Also, we put flannel sheets on our beds a few weeks ago and I LOVE crawling into bed these days. It's so warm and cozy.

What we've been up to... Last year for Advent we did a Reverse Advent calendar (you can see the one we used here) and we liked it so much, we are doing it again this year. We gave each kids the list of foods, they got their own cart, and we hit the grocery store. Rachel has her food all arranged in order, ready to put in the box, and Sam is keeping his in the bags this year. I guess he'll be rooting around in them every morning looking for the item of the day. On December 24, we'll donate the boxes to a local food bank. I really love this way of marking Advent.
On the left, the kids with their full boxes ready to donate on Christmas Eve, 2018. On the right, carts full of food for this year's Advent.

What I'm dreading... I'm not really dreading anything right now. Life is in a pretty good place :)

What I'm working on... I've been working on getting our calendars for next year ordered, going through all the pictures from this past year and deciding what to print, and getting ready to start a new job. I've been unemployed since the beginning of September and I am excited that I have found a new position. I get training and orientation in a couple of weeks and I've been working on filling out paperwork and fulfilling some of the requirements. There's been a lot going on!
 We got our family pictures taken a few weeks ago 
so next on the list is ordering holiday cards. Yay!!!
(This is not one of the photos we're using on our cards.)

What I'm excited about... Starting next week Kim and Tanya at GirlXOXO (link here) and T of Traveling With T (link here) will be hosting #AMonthOfFaves. Last year, after an unintentional blogging break of a few months, participating in this blog party got me back into regular blogging and I'm excited to be a part of it again!

What I'm watching/reading... We haven't been watching much of anything this month. There's been too much other stuff going on. As for reading, there is a group of people who participate in #nonfictionnovember on Instagram. I haven't been officially participating but I've been enjoying reading some interesting non-fiction this past month. Below are my three favourite non-fiction picks of the month.
The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and TrumpWhite Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
image from here * image from here * image from here

What I'm listening to... Not much of anything just yet. I don't start listening to Christmas music until December 1 so it's just whatever the kids have been singing, which is either Warriors by Imagine Dragons (you can listen to it here) or Bad Liar, also by Imagine Dragons. You can hear that one here. We're definitely in a new era of our kids having musical tastes that aren't completely annoying. Ha! Also, Sam is surprisingly good at parodies. One of my and Dave's favourites is when he turned Bad Liar into Bad Dryer as we were washing (and drying) dishes. It made us laugh!

What I'm wearing... I couldn't think of what I'd been wearing lately but Rachel decided she needed earmuffs recently. We found a pair at Dollarama that she could mostly pay for with her own money. She rarely takes them off :) 

What I'm doing this weekend... I have book club and Rachel has a dance performance on Sunday afternoon (with a dress rehearsal before that). It's going to be a full weekend. Yikes!
Rachel is a polar bear in the performance and was showing off some poses!

What I'm looking forward to next month... My parents are coming for Christmas which I'm really excited about. We'll also be celebrating Chanukah and getting ready to enjoy some family time. Yay!!!

What else is new... On November 27, 2006, Dave and I officially started dating. Thus, today is our 13 year date-aversary. Yay!?!
from December 2006 or January 2007

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Daily Photo: November 19 - 25, 2019

November 19, 2019 -- After working on various projects in my "office corner" all day, it was a bit of a disaster. Unfortunately, I'm writing this post five days later and it doesn't look much better. I should do something about that :)

November 20, 2019 -- After thinking my outdoor laundry hanging days were done for the season, I was super excited that they weren't! And we've had two nice laundry hanging days since this one. Whooo hooo!!!

November 21, 2019 -- Lately, I've been loving hunkering down under a couple of blankets with a good book. Sam thought that was a great idea and stole my spot!

November 22, 2019 -- We have plans to see Frozen 2 in a special place in January so didn't worry about getting tickets for this past weekend. However, Rachel got a last minute invitation to see it with some friends from dance, so she was pre-gaming by re-watching Frozen!

November 23, 2019 -- I fell down our stairs this day and badly bruised a few places so I spent most of the day on the couch with a book. I LOVED this one. (Also, I'm doing much better now -- just a bit sore. Ow!)

November 24, 2019 -- We had friends over for supper the previous evening, and due to the whole stairs incident, I asked them last minute to bring dessert. They left the remainder for us so I enjoyed apple crisp for breakfast this day. YUM!

November 25, 2019 -- Our backyard, yesterday afternoon. What you can't see is that just around the corner, a vicious battle of football is going on. It ranged over the whole yard but there must have just been a touchdown scored or something which is why none of the boys are in the picture. I have to admit, I love those after school impromptu play dates.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Some Christmas Q & A

I don't get excited about Christmas until December hits, BUT given that I am participating in #AMonthOfFaves again (hosted by Kim and Tanya at GirlXOXO (link here) and T of Traveling With T (link here)), I thought I would post this today. You know, since it's one month until Christmas and all of that...

My blog friend, Bekah, posted this little Q&A last year and since I am a complete and total sucker for stuff like this, I thought I'd play along. If you decide to play along too, let me know.

1. Candy canes. Yes or no?

I used to be all about candy canes, and I don't mind getting one or two mini ones during this season, but overall, I'm not as excited about them as I used to be.

2. Christmas morning early riser or sleep in? 
As a kid I was all about the early rising. I clearly remember sitting downstairs with my siblings, watching the clock s-l-o-w-l-y making its way to the "We can wake Mom and Dad up now!!!!!" time. I don't remember what that time was (maybe 7am) but we were definitely up well before that time.
Christmas morning, 2018 around 8:30am
No present opening had happened yet.
As an adult, I'd rather sleep in. Our kids used to sleep in until 9:30 or later, and while they wake up earlier than that now, we're still usually sitting down to present opening well after everyone else has posted their Christmas photos on social media! Maybe we're getting up around 8:00 these days...

3. Do you shop on Black Friday? Yes or no?
No, I don't. I'm irritated because Black Friday wasn't a thing in Canada until about three or four years ago. Now retailers are like, "We're missing out on this major shopping day" and they've really been pushing it. I find it all annoying.

4. Christmas trees up in November? Yes or no?
Absolutely not. I grew up on a tree nursery so we would always go out and chop down one of the trees which couldn't be sold. I had an uncle who was born on December 9th, so "Uncle Randy's birthday" was always tree day. We didn't specifically celebrate that uncle, but I think it was just a convenient day for my parents to pick. Ha!
For the past couple of years, we have ordered a tree through our neighbourhood association, which I love. We have a neighbourhood Christmas party at a local park and everyone picks up their trees. Last year, Sam and I brought our tree home in our Chariot and I think the same thing will happen this year. Yay!

5. Do you get holiday ideas from Pinterest? Yes or no?
Yes, I absolutely do. Well, now that Pinterest exists that is. Our favourite seasonal cookies (blue and yellow for Channukah, red and green for Christmas) are a Pinterest find.
You can find the recipe here.
I'm not sure why the post date is May 2019 
because I've been making these cookies since 2017 at least.

6. Christmas glam or ugly sweater?
I try for Christmas glam but I'm not really a glamourous person. I hate the whole ugly sweater craze. Like Black Friday in Canada, how did this become a thing???

7. Stocking stuffers: wrapped or unwrapped?
I don't know. We give the kids an ornament each year, representing something that was important from the year. I think we wrap that but mostly in a lot of tissue paper to keep it safe.

8. Traditional or modern Christmas songs?
I go for mostly traditional with a few modern ones (and by "modern" I mean 80s classics) thrown in. Also, it just isn't Christmas if we haven't listened to Nana Mouskouri's Christmas album called "Christmas with Nana Mouskouri." This album came out in 1972, the year I was born and was the Christmas soundtrack to my childhood, especially "Old Toy Trains." Listen to that song here, if you've never heard it. Also, now I'm crying. I just LOVE this song :)

A "current" favourite Christmas album is also The Pentatonix "PTXmas." Their version of "Carol of the Bells" is everything. We also often find ourselves on YouTube watching all of  Straight No Chaser's videos. We especially love this one and this one.

9. Fruitcake? Yes or no?
Yes, my guilty secret is that I love fruitcake. The fake cherries get me every time.

10. Is your Christmas shopping finished? Yes or no?
Mostly. I'm excited because we tried to buy a lot of local stuff and we got a few things at our local art market. I love buying presents from small businesses down the street.

11. Is there snow in December where you live?
Usually. But we've had some green Christmases the past few years (thanks for nothing climate change) so who knows what will happen this year...
skating on Christmas Day 2019 * hanging laundry on Christmas Day 2015

12. Classic show: A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph?
I LOVE A Charlie Brown Christmas. Rudolph is way too whiny. We got a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas on DVD when Sam was about two and we watch it every year.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

More Political Potpourri From Dave

When Natasha asked me for feedback on her post about Canadian politics a few nights ago, I realized that there was a fair bit that I wanted to share from my own perspective. I genuinely find politics fascinating (Canada, US, UK, etc.), and think there are interesting details that often get overlooked. So, with apologies to all the regular blog readers out there who didn't ask for this blog to fall down a rabbit hole of political trivia, here is a sampling of Canadian political tidbits.

Natasha here: When Dave and I were talking about this, he told me that if he hadn't gone into computer science, a career in political journalism would have interested him. I didn't know that before.

First, a few thoughts about the Prime Minister (PM). Unlike the US, there is no separate Executive branch of government for the PM; they are simply another member of Parliament, who happens to lead the party with the most seats. This has some interesting consequences:
  • The PM has to participate in regular debates in the House of Commons. Also, since Canada is bilingual, the PM has to be able to hold their own arguing in both English and French. The practical consequence of this is that several PMs (Chretien, Mulroney, Trudeau (the father of our current PM), St. Laurent) have been top-notch lawyers from Montreal. It also means that leaders from non-French speaking parts of Canada sometimes have to work quite hard to bring their French up to a reasonable level of fluency.
  • There is no such thing as a "PM veto", and the PM cannot write their own executive orders. All that the PM can do is vote for bills in the House of Commons, along with rest of the members of parliament.
 
On to the Governor General. This is officially the "Queen's representative in Canada", and their position in Canada is largely ceremonial. However, the GG can make important decisions in certain minority government situations. I'll skip the details, but the gist is that in a minority government situation (where no party wins 50% of the seats in Parliament (our current situation)), the GG has the power to decide who forms the government. It is usually the party that has won the most votes, but it could also be a coalition of "other" parties whose combined seat total is over the 50% threshold.

Although the GG has, historically, tended to be "some well-connected white man" (and for the first 85 years of Canada's history, a succession of British lords, to boot!), our last few GGs have been much more diverse:
  • Our current GG is Julie Payette, who was previously an astronaut, business leader, and computer engineer
  • The previous GG was David Johnston, who was previously the president of the university that Natasha and I attended. Because I made a (not very large) donation to the university which earned a "thanks from the president" card, and he noticed that we share the same first name, I happen to have a hand-written note from a former GG!
  • Before that, we had MichaĆ«lle Jean, a Hatian immigrant who was a successful journalist with the CBC (equivalent to PBS or NPR)
Finally, a few thoughts on the Canadian political spectrum. Natasha described the Conservatives as "right-leaning" and the Liberals as "left-leaning", which is certainly true, but might require a bit of translation for an American audience. Here is my attempt at summarizing each major party's position in a few sentences, while trying to avoid adding (too much of...) my own political bias.
  • Liberals: Would be considered quite left-wing in US political terms; have a strong focus on environmental concerns, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and spending on programs to ensure a strong safety net -- healthcare, education, and supporting the "middle class".
  • Conservatives: More right-leaning, but still to the left of most Republicans (and maybe some Democrats). Emphasis on jobs and economic concerns -- supporting oil, gas, and mining in prairie provinces, for example -- rather than the environment. Tend to take action through income tax breaks and supporting businesses, rather than extensive spending on social programs. 
  • NDP: Lean much further left than the Liberals, comparable to the far-left wing of the Democratic party, or maybe the Green Party (think Jill Stein in the last US election). Very concerned with the environment, using government resources to create a more equitable society for all (including seniors, students, new immigrants, etc.). They have proposed significant improvements to social programs such as healthcare, education, and affordable housing. 
  • Bloc Quebecois: The party is focused solely on Quebec. Historically, their focus has been on supporting the Quebec separatist movement. More recently, this has shifted to ensuring Quebec's culture (e.g., Francophone culture) and interests (generally left-leaning, strongly opposed to oil pipelines) are represented in the federal government.
  • Green Party: Their primary focus is, of course, on climate change and the environment. They have advocated for fundamentally shifting Canada's economy towards renewable energy, in order to meet aggressive emission cuts (60% below 2005 levels*). They also advocate for LGBTQ rights, improved social programs, and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.
Phew! I think that's enough for one post. I hope you found this interesting, and I promise not to jump in with more political ramblings any time soon :)

* To put this in context, Canada's current goal is 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. While the other parties have climate change plans of various descriptions, none of them will come close to meeting this goal, although the NDP does come closer than the others.

Natasha here again: I threw in some random fall pictures (mostly of maple trees -- one of Canada's national symbols) to break up the word heavy posts you've been getting these past few days!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Getting Political

About a month ago, Canada had its 43rd election. Erika asked if I would write a post about the election process in Canada and here is my (non-expert) discussion about how politics works in Canada. And I realize this post probably holds way more information than you care about, but I thought some of these things were really interesting. Sorry :)

Sarah, a blogger I've discovered in the past year or so, (she blogs here) is the only other Canadian reader I know who comments regularly. So Sarah, please feel free to jump in with anything I've gotten wrong/have misinterpreted! And if there are other Canadians lurking in the background, feel free to add your say as well.
Canada has three/four/five-ish main political parties. I would say that almost all of the elections have been won by either the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives (PC). The Liberals tend to be a more central/left leaning party and the PCs tend to be more right leaning. The New Democratic Party (NDP) is another party player. They tend to be more left of centre and I think they have won the official opposition (second most votes) once. The Green Party is another major player with a very left leaning agenda. They are mostly concerned about climate change but have other policies as well. They only won three seats in this most recent election, although many people thought they might do better than that.

We also have a weird dynamic with one of our provinces having its own party -- the Bloc Quebecois. You can read more about Quebec here (a blog post Dave wrote about Quebec, including its history and current makeup). The Bloc only represents Quebec and its interests, and in this last election, they came in third overall. In 1993, they won enough seats that they were the official opposition. Yeah. By the way, the Bloc won 32 seats in this election and the Green Party won three although they had a similar popular vote count. (It is this disparity between seats and votes which makes me think we should move to a proportional representation system.)
One province, one political party
 
We also have a few other random parties. This election one of the PCs got mad at his party and formed his own party, the People's Party of Canada. They didn't win any seats. Other official Canadian parties are the Animal Protection Party of Canada (focus on animal rights and the environment), the Christian Heritage Party of Canada (focus on social conservatism and the Christian right), the Communist Party of Canada, the Libertarian Party of Canada, the Marijuana Party (since their focus is on legalizing marijuana I'm not sure what their purpose is anymore), and the Rhinoceros Party (a satirical party). To get an idea of what the Rhinoceros Party does, read this article here.

There are 338 seats in our House of Commons (kind of like the House of Representatives in the US) so to win a majority, a party has to win 170 (or more) seats. The country is divided into 338 ridings and each riding elects a Member of Parliament (MP). The current MP for our area is a Liberal. The ridings are mostly determined by population so a big city like Toronto has 19 ridings, while my home province of Saskatchewan has only 14. The Yukon, which we visited this past summer, has one riding.

We don't have an eight year maximum for our leaders like the US does with its presidents. Our longest sitting Prime Minister (leader of our country (PM)) was William Lyon Mackenzie King who served as prime minister between 1921 and 1948. He wasn't prime minister the entire time but his total time as PM was over 21 years. Between 1867 and 1891, Sir John A MacDonald (our first prime minister) was in office for 18 years, 359 days. (I think they just should have given him the extra six days for a total of 19 years!). In more recent history, Pierre Elliot Trudeau (the father of our current prime minister, Justin) was in office for 15 years, 164 days between 1968 and 1984.

Our shortest serving prime minister was Charles Tupper who served for only 68 days in 1896. The other two shortest serving PMs were in my lifetime -- John Turner (79 days in 1984) and Kim Campbell (technically our first female PM who led for 132 days in 1993). Both John Turner and Kim Campbell became PMs after the official PM resigned as leader of their party while in office. Turner and Campbell won the leadership of their parties and then called elections. They both lost those elections.

The party leadership elections are not a big deal here. The party members vote on the leaders. I did some searching on Wikipedia, and according to this article, the most recent leadership convention for the PCs started around November 2, 2016 and the final leader was elected in May 2017. I had heard about some of the potential leaders but didn't watch any of the debates. I don't think most people would have been that involved.

We used to have to have federal elections every five years but in 2006 that was changed to at least every four years. Currently Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have a minority government. This means that they have the most seats in government but not a majority so anything major they want to pass will need support from other parties (most likely the Bloc or the NDP as they share similar values). Likely we will have another election in the next year or two as minority governments don't tend to last long.

One thing I like about our elections is that they have changed the voting hours across Canada. Living in Saskatchewan, we used to have TV blackouts until our voting hours were over, and then when the blackout was over, they already would have announced the election results (since the majority of Canada lives in Ontario/Quebec). Now with the internet, they have changed the voting hours so that most of the country is voting at the same time and we all find out the results at once.Thus in Ontario, we voted from 9:30am until 9:30pm and in British Columbia, they voted from 7am - 7pm.

The polls are open for twelve hours and your employer must make sure that you have three consecutive non-work hours to vote. Since Saskatchewan's voting hours are from 7:30am - 7:30pm, that meant that all the city offices closed at 4:30pm on voting day so their employees had the necessary hours. Again, I don't know how this works in the US but I think it's really cool.

We have maximum and minimum lengths for our election campaigns which make me so happy! The maximum length is 50 days! Yes, 50 days! That's the most amount of time that can pass between an election being called and it happening. So while the US knows that it will be voting on November 3, 2020 and campaigning is already happening for that, Canada doesn't know any more than 50 days ahead of time.
A cute picture of Rachel under an election sign we changed for a joke!
Our landlord put up the sign, approved the temporary change, 
and thought this picture was hilarious!
 
We also have a Senate with 105 members -- 24 each from the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and the western provinces. Nine members also come from Newfoundland, and each of the three territories -- the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. However, don't ask me what the Senate does because I have no clue. Also, the senators are appointed by the prime minister, or possibly by the party in power. (Dave offered to fill me in on the Senate's role and I told him I didn't care and he could leave a comment. Check back later today if you're interested!) Our MP sits in the House of Commons and as far as I know, that is where the majority of the country's business happens.

And then we have the Governor General (GG) who is the Queen's official representative here in Canada because we are technically under the monarchy of England. Again, this doesn't really play out in my day to day life. The GG is appointed by the Queen with the advice of the prime minister. Generally, the GG's term is about five years. Our PM is thus not Canada's official "head of state" (that would be the Queen) but the "head of government." I don't know what this means technically but I thought it was a interesting fact!

A few other things to note:

*Our provincial elections are completely separate from our federal elections. And our municipal elections are separate from both of those.

*Our official party leaders have to be able to speak both French and English as those are Canada's two official languages. There is an entire debate that takes place solely in French.

*Our current prime minister is only 128 days older than me. That's slightly terrifying :) He is our 23rd PM.

*Our PMs have to win a seat in their riding to be elected. They are technically elected as the MP of their riding and the party leader. When their party wins a majority (or the majority of the seats), then they are the PM. So I will never cast a vote for a Prime Minister unless my local MP wins the party leadership, which hasn't happened yet.

Sadly, right now our country is pretty divided politically -- Western Canada tends to be more right leaning, Ontario and Quebec tend to be more centre/left leaning and it makes me sad. One thing I like about this minority government is I think Canadians have sent the message that our government needs to learn to work together to accomplish things on behalf of ALL Canadians. We shall see how that goes...

So there you go -- more information than you ever wanted to know about Canadian politics. If you have any questions (or clarifications for Canadians), please feel free to ask. I don't know all the answers but I will give it a good try!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Daily Photo: November 12 - 18, 2019

November 12, 2019 -- When all my library holds come in at once... Thankfully only one of these is a "14 day" turnaround read.

November 13, 2019 -- Through the What's Up Wednesday link up that I participate in, I discovered this "pasta primavera" type recipe. Of course, I usually use whatever vegetables are in the fridge so this day's featured carrots and bok choy. We all really enjoy this and the kids get a good helping of vegetables so it's definitely a win-win situation.

November 14, 2019 -- The kids had no school the next day, so when we all got home from our evening activities, I suggested we all curl up under blankets in the living room and read until we got tired. I meant to get a picture of my reading buddy falling asleep on her math homework (her choice!) on the couch but I forgot. Instead you get this picture of my book and a pile of blankets.

November 15, 2019 -- I was participating in an Instagram party of "post a picture of your day every hour" this day. However, this picture of Sam and Rachel enjoying some mid-morning hot chocolate was only for the blog. Otherwise, you can find the rest of my Friday on Instagram here.

November 16, 2019 -- After taking all the pictures on Friday, I forgot to take any on Saturday. Oops.

November 17, 2019 -- It was Bluey's birthday, also known as "two years ago this day, we bought Bluey." Rachel put up streamers by his bowl to celebrate and we sang Happy Birthday to him. Ha!

November 18, 2019 -- Our backyard yesterday. It looks, and feels like, spring around here. Hopefully all this snow will melt so we can deal with our piles of leaves (which will no longer be picked up by the city -- thanks for nothing early snow). And yes, my "laundry basket bench" is still out there in hopes that my outdoor laundry hanging days for this year are not completely done just yet.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Summer Dreaming: Graffiti Alley And More

So on Monday, I took you halfway through our day of exploring Toronto from back in August. (If you missed it, you can read it here.) Today I'm taking you on the rest of our day so settle in because we still had a lot more to explore.
One thing I love about big cities is the funny, random things you see. This sign made me laugh so hard!
Another item on my list was the Half House. Yes, this is half a house. Toronto has a lot of side by side duplexes. For some reason, they had to take half this duplex down, but left the other half. It looks so odd.
This is a news truck crashing through the side of a news building. It's so random but so fun! (Did I mention, lots of interesting and odd things to see?).
 Graffiti Alley is a unique piece of Toronto. It's about a one kilometre stretch of an alley completely covered in graffiti. You can read more about it here.


 Can you spot Rachel in the picture above?!

This really is a piece of Toronto you need to experience in person. It was so cool.
Then we walked down the street to Fluevog Shoes and their "anti-gravity vault." This shoe store took over an old bank and decided to have some fun with the vault.
 We had the most fun taking pictures here :)
After the Vog Vault, we took the streetcar back to our car, and then drove to The Monkey's Paw. It is a rare book store which features the world's only Biblio-Mat. You pay $2 for a token, put it in, and get a random book in return. It was so fun! You can see it in action on my Instagram here.
These are some of my favourite days as a family -- exploring something unique and making memories. The best part is, I still have a whole list of ideas to do when we can take another day in Toronto like this!