everything i know about canada i learned from south park

so… i had this whole “best of toronto” awards post that i was compiling… it was really long and i wasn’t sure it was even a good enough post to actually publish. then i’m on nyc yelp and i see a new topic… yelp canada! once again, i stopped packing, and in three hours i had reviewed every place on my list… and then some. and now, i can just link you to my “canada” list and i don’t have to look like i spent way too much time typing and formatting my own list 🙂

have at it!

and if you have time (or even if you don’t), do some yelping yourself. it’s a really helpful tool in new york, but there actually has to be people reviewing for it to become useful

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terra who’s?

now that the city has woken up from its annual ten-month sleep, it’s finally summer in toronto. instead of just being a conglomerate of tall buildings and an inefficient subway, there are real signs of life– from pedestrians on the street to the weekly nathan phillips farmers market.

any good torontonian knows this market. it’s every wednesday afternoon, and it’s pretty much the only place in downtown that doesn’t fully stock a selection of rotting vegetables. for the most part, they are freshly picked, pesticide-free, and no more expensive than the dominion or sobey’s nearby. the market also manages to introduce citizens of the tundra to selections of vegetables that, for one reason or another, are impossible to find the rest of the week in the city. think i’m kidding? here’s a find from last week. a box of mini zucchinis. looks and tastes exactly like a regular zucchini, just cuter.

baby zucchini!

last week i also managed to pick up some blue potatoes. experience told me that the bagged variety of blue potato chips is deelicious, so i thought i’d go for something similar. the steps are all here so get bakin’

oven baked blue chips

i feel the need to note here that these don’t totally taste like the chips you’ll get in a bag. they’re oven baked, not kettle cooked, so they are much healthier. they also taste distinctly homemade, especially when eaten piping hot. mmm…

homemade oven baked blue potato chips

ingredients:

however many blue potatoes you want– one serving is about 2-3 small potatoes like the ones above ^^

olive oil cooking spray

sea salt to taste

homemade oven baked blue potato chips

instructions:

preheat the oven to 425 f. scrub the dirt off the outside layer of the potatoes, but don’t peel them. use a mandoline or sharp knife to cut potatoes into 1/8″ slices. pat dry with a paper towel. spray cooking spray onto a cookie sheet and arrange the potato slices on a single layer (if you have too many potatoes to fit on one, work in batches). sprinkle sea salt generously and spray again with olive oil spray. bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes. use a spatula to flip the potatoes and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown on the outside and royal blue on the inside. the ones pictured are a bit extra-crispy, but make sure no part of the potato is still uncooked (purple)– this will cause them to get soggy as soon as they cool. when the batch of chips is done baking, place in a paper towel and pat to remove excess oil (be careful not to burn yourself– give them a second to cool down). sprinkle more salt and serve hot or save in an airtight container for a few days (i actually have no idea how long they would last– i’ve never had any leftover for more than a day.)

homemade oven baked blue potato chips

ps, no this has not become the giftable cooking blog. we’ll be back to your regularly scheduled knitting shortly.

…sigh…

i know anyone reading this is probably pretty sick of reading about my travel nightmares, but i want the following to serve as a consumer warning rather than just banter. a few months ago, a company called megabus announced a new service that seemed to fill a void no other bus company had tackled: service from downtown toronto to the buffalo airport. to sweeten the deal, that same bus continues with service to downtown nyc. to anyone familiar with pearson and not BUF, tickets start at $49, instead of a few hundred, and it takes about ten minutes to get through security, not two hours. also, flights actually take off pretty much every time.

DH and i almost immediately booked seats to the airport, even though their timing didn’t really match up. their estimated two and a half hour driving time is impossible in a car with no traffic, forget about a bus. but they’re operated by coach, a company i sort of trust, so i let it go, figuring as an airport bus they probably had this all figured out. just in case, i left over two hours of padding between the bus ETA and the flight check-in time.

the first three hours on the bus were surprisingly pleasant. it was about half full, left on time, and had a bathroom– the three things i was most worried about. there was no traffic and we were a bit past our ETA, but if we could breeze through customs we could still be at the airport in twenty minutes and be fine. then the driver comes on the speaker and explains the protocol at the border. that each passenger would have to get off the bus, stand in a long line, and present a border guard with his or her passport. once through, the rider would have to retrieve any luggage that would be unloaded from under the bus and checked by drug hounds, and allow another three inspectors to open and rifle through the luggage. once each individual was through, he explained, the bus would be repacked and allowed to depart– to the buffalo bus station, where the drivers would be switched out– and then to the airport. the whole process would take at least three hours, he said, but could take up to the whole day. if anyone had a flight within the next three hours, they would most definitely miss it.

DH stood up and asked why he didn’t say this on the website when we paid for our tickets, or when we boarded the bus, since obviously the driver knew before we left. the driver responded that whoever wrote up the timeline on the website was “an idiot” and told us to call a cab from the border station, along with the four other groups that were about to miss their planes too. we jumped to the front of the customs line and shared a cab with another stranded passenger. we got to the airport with less than 45 minutes before takeoff– but, BUF is amazing and we did make our flight and the connection at JFK.

once we were safe and sound in north carolina, mike called to cancel our return trip and get a refund for our unwarranted adventure. and to file a request that they at least reflect the real timeline on their website. the manager (who called us back three days later) claimed that he would not issue a refund for the outgoing ticket because we had taken the trip, and that they would not be changing the website. eventually, we got both trips refunded, but since i don’t think they’ll be honest about their timelines anytime soon, i can only hope that some poor consumer googling “megabus” will come upon this post and know to travel at his own risk– leaving an extra four hours at least before the departing flight, if he must use this service at all.

shame on you, megabus! at least be honest with your customers and you’d have this customer booking a summer’s worth of trips and writing a rave review instead of a beware note.

…now back to your regularly scheduled blogging. tomorrow.

one post before i disappear again

i have very little new knitting to post right now. except that i did get started on a pair of socks (!!) right before we left this weekend. my first pair ever, inspired by the fact that the place we’re living beginning in the fall has a very sad heating system. it’s the same building we lived in right before we left new york– actually, the same apartment. we loved it but we had a problem where the radiators are either “on” (105 degrees of dry, dry heat) or “off” (below freezing– there is no insulation). in an effort to not turn them “on” until we absolutely have to, i’m going to knit a whole bunch of house socks for DH and i.

i’m not using a pattern, but if there’s any demand i’ll write one up when they’re done

the reason i’m not knitting right now is more of a necessity for the immediate future. this weekend DH and i are leaving for a week at the beach with his entire extended family. i went to eaton centre last week in hopes of picking up a weeks worth of cute sundress-type outfits and ended up finding NOTHING. this is one of the first times in my life i’ve gone to a mall with the intent of spending a few hundred bucks and walked out with a $6 pair of shoes and no clothes. turns out here in toronto, you either buy one of six dresses available at each and every store, or you spend $400 on a basic from an independent shop, where you probably wont find anything you like anyway.

so now seemed like as good a time as any to pull the sewing machine out of storage and play around with some fabric i’ve had since i worked at a fabric store a few years ago. i also attempted to walk down queen west to buy some more but it turns supplies have the same problem as fashions here– $10 a yard for cotton prints available in five styles– no thanks!

i’ve been doing about a skirt and/or dress per day, i think i have almost enough for this week. i also don’t have a dressform so these photos are awful. i’m working on getting one– bear with me! (if you know where to get one in downtown toronto PLEASE let me know! i tried getting one in scranton, PA while we were nearby and joann’s was the only fabric store– and they only carried ONE crappy model, soo frustrating)

and this one’s not done–

they’re all really voluminous, which really doesn’t show on the hanger. to give you an idea, here’s the first one with the magic of self-timer and photoshop

cute? no? opinions would definitely be cool if you have any thoughts.

if you were wondering why i didn’t post this weekend (i know all of you were… *rollseyes*), i just wanted to give you an insight into the beautiful technological dark age that is my parent’s country house

1) computer. yep, this is it. 19.2k modem (not 14.4, not 28.8… 19.2), windows 95, and one of those printers that only fit one cartridge so you had to switch black and colour everytime you wanted to print. appropriately sprawled across the record player and collection, and a wooden speaker.

2) atari! i’m not even old enough to own one of these. as you can see, i was still teething when i inherited it, resulting in one non-working controller. so sad.


3) rotary phone! i kind of wanted to take this with me and use it for decoration. and inside the matching case is a canary blue typewriter. i forgot to get a picture. it’s not electric or anything. and i don’t think they make toner for it anymore so you have to click REALLY hard to get the letters to show up on the page.

so there you go. my life for the past week. i probably won’t get a chance to post again before we leave for the beach, so hopefully next time i post i’ll have the clap done (yay for beach knitting). happy summer, ya’ll!

it’s textile day in canada

as every crafter in toronto knows, today and tomorrow are the annual textile museum yardage sale. everything from thread to dressforms, fat quarters to knitting needles– for prices even an american will find shocking. i got there about ten minutes after it opened and can’t really say i was surprised to see a wall of people, slowly moving as one, through each of the tents. an hour later, i had filled two bags. i saw what some other people were lugging away and i didn’t do half bad. right?

(the yarn was $1-2 a bag, books were $.25-$2, and needles were $1. i spent a total of about $20.)

the “complete book of knitting and crocheting” was a really cool find– it’s from 1953 according to the copyright page and contains some extraordinarily outdated and weird designs, as well as some i’m embarrassed to say i really want to knit. (click to enlarge)


i also noticed some of the bags of yarn i was buying had partially finished garments in them, but when i began to sort through i realized there was actually a completed sweater– i don’t know if i’m going to seam it though. i might just unravel– i have to figure out what size it is. it’s not my style but i’m not going to argue with a $1 sweater– some assembly required.

anyways after that (and a quick stop for pizza) i headed over to lettuce knit for a dye workshop. i brought along some bristol yarn gallery buckingham and tried handpainting for the first time. i didn’t know what to expect but i think it turned out pretty well, eh?

now what to do with 220 yds of fingering-weight? hmm…

home! part 1– agenda

boy do i love new york. i’ve been feeling so crappy in toronto that i figured i was just becoming a melodramatic manic depressive, but everything i remembered about the city (and assumed was nostalgia) is even better than i expected.

i ended my last post on the brink of tears, making statements about how the universe was somehow out to get me and that i was going to be stuck in ontario for the rest of my life. rereading it, i am put back into that mindset, and can only say that i am so glad for porter air. no, the flight was not perfect. a lot went wrong, and at times i was worried about everything from being stuck in toronto to drowning in a turboprop plane. but we DID get off the ground and landed only 4 and a half hours late in newark. my history with airlines could be seven hundred blog posts, but i’ll hold back and just say that it is extraordinarily rare for a plane i’m on to actually take off. this time, i figured if i’m going to end up back at home at the end of the night, i wanted to fly out of the downtown airport (walking distance from my apartment)– and porter just added a route to NY

it wasn’t exactly enticing when the intercom in the airport lounge announced that a plane from ottawa had “missed the runway”, but it was even worse when it came on an hour later stating that the plane from montreal was going to “try to land”. egh. it did, and we got to newark at around 1am saturday morning. we were hungry, scared, cold, and tired, but we were finally home a mere hour later.

DH and i stayed at my parent’s apartment in midtown, and even though i spent the first seventeen years of my life here, it feels strangely unfamiliar.

view from 40th st

tudor park

there’s something both comforting and disconcerting about a place that is constantly evolving, and i’m not sure which feeling comes through more. there is also a static undertone that exists in “old new york”– my breakfast at tal bagel was exactly the same as my breakfasts there ten years ago. delicious. even though my starbucks across the street had closed (and nearly given me a heart attack), i walked about two blocks and found another one, where my latte had exactly the right combination of ingredients. i met up with DH and the in-laws, and we stopped by emack and bolio’s which was delicious as always– even though jarod (the owner) was doing his best to convince mike and i not to move to new hampshire. i couldn’t stay mad while eating a free ice cream cone, so no harm done.

emack and bolio's

for dinner, i just wanted plain old americanized chinese food. not fancy like shun lee, or glorified like lili’s. just some hole in the wall with a menu written in engrish and some sweet, sticky brown sauce. we just wandered into a random place and, of course, it hit the spot. grand sichuan was absolutely the best chinese food i’ve had in at least a year. it’s probably not the best in new york or anything like that, but considering it was just a random walk-in, it was infinitely better than the most highly rated chinese food in toronto. (mike got a bubble tea, and it was actually extremely good, even though their ad campaign baffles me)

bubble tea?

after dinner, i looked down at my totally busted rainboots. i’ve been wearing them for almost two years, and of course the rubber has given out and been replaced by duct tape. i had only ever seen these boots at one store, so we took a quick trip to 8th street and macdougal (don’t know the name of the store but it’s next to underground tattoo) and sure enough they still had the boots! i even got 10% off because the owner was either tickled or embarrassed by the fact that i was still wearing these destroyed boots years later.

frog boots

kitty boots

sunday night was magnificent– it was warm with a light breeze, and so clear that the lights off the city just barely reflected off the clouds, making the black, starless sky look more like a computer background than reality. we walked for miles and sat in quiet tudor park until we couldn’t stay awake any longer.

the flight home monday afternoon was all i could ask for– we took off on time and arrived early. having the customs inspection in the TCCA is incredibly quick and simple. the shuttle bus took us right to the subway which got us home in a matter of ten minutes. i couldn’t have planned a better weekend.

next up– part 2– yarn purchases, FO’s, and toys!

recovering from a transit-free weekend

well, last weekend was the knitter’s frolic, which was amazing– no thanks to the TTC who inconveniently and unwarningly went on strike a mere eight hours before the frolic. i could rant for pages about how angry this makes me, but i’ll hold back. really. i will. the JCCC was packed regardless of the strike, so i can’t even imagine how it would have been if everyone had managed to get there.

i’m off to nyc this weekend so i tried to restrain myself– no more addi’s– although they were 25% off at just about every stand, the american MSRP is about that anyway. my goal was to pick out a small amount of beautiful, local, handspun/handdyed yarn, and i think i managed to do it. for under $80, i might add.

skein#1- sweet sheep superwash merino. 980 yds!! i’ve been wanting to make a variegated clapotis for awhile now but didn’t want to worry about odd colour changes– talk about late to the bandwagon– but i’ve never seen a skein this large before. perfect! did i mention it’s beautiful? brighter than in this photo. i’ll take a new one when i get that new camera.

sweet sheep superwash merino evergreen

skein #2- hand maiden 2 ply silk cashmere. i had never heard of this brand before, but it seemed to be stocked at half the stands so obviously i’m recovering from some strange gorgeous-yarn-blindness, and thank god! i spent a good hour at various stands picking out exactly which colourway and fibre i wanted to start with, and ended up in a sale section holding this. it’s brighter in person as well, and insanely soft. i unravelled it to show the colour variegation but i can’t really manage to do it justice in a low quality photo. i have no idea what this is going to be, but something about it calls out to spirogyra
hand maiden 2 ply silk cashmere

i also have some brooklyn handspun waiting for me in new york. i’ll be writing up a pattern of some sort. i think arm warmers, but that might change since i seem to be in an arm warmer kick right now.

last thing–endpapers are coming along. i had to mod them a bit but wanted to leave them at least looking like endpapers. but so far so good– i really like them and they’re super warm (seriously, i break out in a sweat everytime i try them on)
endpaper mitts wip

on a side note, i think i’m going to be writing here a little less in the future. or at least make an effort to. for some reason it’s easier for me to procrastinate and document progress than actually sit down and knit. and because of that i’ve been posting stuff lately that even i don’t care about– like what i did that day. if my mother doesn’t even care, why would the internet? i’m going to restrain myself from posting again until at least the endpapers are done. i hope.