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Weeki Wachee Wha??

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Last week was the bizarre November break New Jersey kids get. In our school district my children only had 1 1/2 days of school! (Tabby only had one-she was feeling unwell and stayed home on the half day. She was thrilled to come to dog class with me and Willow.)  We mostly hung around at home doing normal things but there were two special events planned. The first was a trip to the American Girl Place in New York. This was a super special birthday event for Tabby and it was (not surprisingly) a girls only event-Tabby, me, and my mom. We had a wonderful time! On the one hand, the whole American Girl scene is nuts-outrageously expensive, a giant business that boomed unbelievably, sometimes over-the-top, and so on. I mean, we were going to eat lunch in a restaurant in a 3 story store. But guess what? It was SUPER.
A Special Trip// attention to detail, less shopping, more of an “experience”, and the lunch was charming. I think it will be a very special memory for all of us. Despite the Lincoln Tunnel’s best attempts to thwart us, we managed to arrive just in time for our 11am lunch seating. The restaurant is decorated in pink, white, and black. If you don’t have a doll to sit with you, you can borrow one. If you do have a doll (of course we brought Molly!) they have special seats for them to join you at the table. Your napkin holder is actually a little hairband with a bow that you keep. It’s a prixe fixe situation, so first they bring out tiny warm cinnamon rolls. Then comes a plate of unusual appetizers for the table (some vegetables and grapes, weird pretzel sticks, a couple pigs in blankets, and a cup of cheesy sauce.) Then you choose your entree (they printed the calories for everything on the menu in equal, if not larger, font than the name of the item. MADDENING. I already decided on your quiche, don’t hit me over the head with the fact that it’s more calories than I should have in a day.) The food was actually quite good. 2015-11-05 11.12.09 We had a nice time and of course enjoyed people watching. Dessert is lovely-a flowerpot of chocolate mousse and a vanilla cupcake with a little shortbread heart cookie. Tabby had a candle and a song for her birthday. (The desserts were super delicious.) American Girl Dessert//
Even the restroom was interesting because the stalls have special hangers on the wall for your doll!
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After lunch it was time to explore the store. We were delighted by the installations for the historical dolls, which included memorabilia, interactive quizzes, music, and more. Of course, we did end up doing a little shopping and now Molly has a sassy Santa dress, sequined beret, jeans, and new glasses. And possibly something will show up at Christmas, too….  All in all, we had a lot of fun.
Grandma & Tabby// and my girl at American Girl Place, NYC.//

(Meanwhile Paul and Clark had a nice day together with a couple hours at work and then a nice lunch out.)

The next day was fun for all of us. We used to belong to the aquarium and have been many times, but not for a very long time. Clark’s been asking to go and this seemed like a great time to plan for, so off we went. Clark was quite pleased to get to use a wheelchair while there.
Clark enjoyed having to use a wheelchair// turns out that we hadn’t been there in 3 years and there were quite a few changes. Still, it’s a nice aquarium and we had a good time. in the touch tank-sea stars and anemones//

Terrifying Prehistoric Creatures// fact, Paul was thrilled by how many kind of exciting things happened: the sting rays were extra splashy and he got to touch them a lot, the octopus (usually sulking in a dark corner) came out and moved around put his suckery tentacles all over the glass, we saw the hippos being fed and they totally looked like Hungry, Hungry, Hippos when they chomped their lettuce, and then there were the mermaids. Weeki Wachee Mermaids! When we found out they were going to be at the aquarium the same day as us we were pretty excited. If you don’t know who they are you can read about it here.  It wasn’t quite the same as being in Florida-only one mermaid in the tank at a time, she wasn’t doing a show-just waving and smiling and being beautiful, but it was still fun to see. And also cool that she was in the giant tank with the sea turtles, sharks, and sting rays. Weeki Wachee Mermaids//
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It was  a very nice day!
Dad & Lad// Portrait//

What else is new? Clark had a follow up visit to the doctor and his foot is healing well. He is now off crutches, but still in the boot. He is very happy about that.  We trained Willow to the invisible fence and she was a quick learner and doing great. It makes such a difference for us to be able to do stuff outside and have her out there with us, but not have to actively following her around. We’d all been feeling rather tired and grouchy (and by all I mean me and Paul) because for several weeks now she’s been in a terrible habit of waking up at 4am and 5am. it was frustrating and exhausting.  However, just as suddenly as it started it has stopped. She really is a super dog.


This morning I took her to the park and down by the river where I let her off leash. Last time we were there I didn’t and this time I thought it seemed safe enough (far away from the trail) and boy was she happy to be able to just get out there in the river and run through it. A joy to behold.
Willow set free in the river at last//
I also started quilting my Halloween quilt (concentric squares), but have no pictures as of yet. You can all just know that I’m very happy about it. As happy as I am to see my Give Thanks banner up and my little pilgrims and turkeys set out. It’s the start of the holiday season! yeah!

Happy Halloween

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After what seemed like forever, October is finally done, and birthday celebrations, pumpkin picking, Halloween parades, and trick or treating with it. Mind you, I love all those things but this year they all transpired to just make me feel frazzled. Add to that a week where everything went wrong, including breaking my cell phone and going without for a week, and was capped off by Clark fracturing his ankle, and well…let’s just say I’m happy to ring in November. In fact, I’ve already put away my decor (both the stuff I actually had out and the stuff that was still sitting in a bin in my kitchen), and pulled out my pilgrims. Of course, there were plenty of joyful moments in there. We had our annual visit to a local farm where we take a How Tall this Fall photo. I’m getting more and more nostalgic each year. I look at Clark standing there at 5 feet tall and remember sitting him on the ground in front of that same sign. I look at the big hay bale setup they have with giant pumpkins and remember taking pictures of me at 9 months pregnant (with Tabby) at the same spot.
20151102_142216IMG_4760//… Here we are this year: 2015 how Tall this fall?// 2015 how Tall this fall?// were costume ups and down this year: Paul and I were invited to a Halloween party and went dressed as Bob and Linda Belcher from Bob’s Burgers and no one knew who we were. So apparently Bob’s Burgers is the best show you are not watching. Tabby got lots of usage out of her costume, which was Pikachu. She went through several ideas before she got here and it all came out great. The centerpiece was a Pikachu hat that came in a loot crate. She wore that with lots of yellow, including big furry legwarmers that she saw at Party City and was dying to have. She wore it to a Girl Scout Father-Daughter Pumpkin carving party, school, and on Halloween. Paul threw together a quick and easy inspired Swedish Chef (from the Muppets, of course) for the G.S. event and trick or treating. IMG_4953 As for Clark, he has known for a long time he’d go as Link from the Legend of Zelda. I ordered one online and it seemed like it wasn’t going to arrive on time, but it got here the night before and then…it didn’t fit. I saved the day with a dash to Hot Topic at the mall for a shirt. with that and the hat and an amazing sword and shield that Paul made for him he looked great. The real downside to it all, was that he is on crutches and in a boot.  Last week he fell while running and possibly fractured his ankle. We had our first ER trip (not too bad for 10 years) and a follow up at an orthopedist. X-rays show no fracture, but other stuff indicated it was likely, so they are operate on a better safe than sorry practice when it comes to growing bones. He can”t put any weight on it for 2 weeks, then we have a follow up. Here he is bravely swinging along at the school parade. IMG_4962 And then, trick or treating! Oh, and in the morning was soccer, where Paul wore a silly hat and blue furry legs and Tabby wore just her Pikachu hat, and Willow (briefly) wore this: 2015-10-31 11.13.47 I also made her wear this for a photo op. Elegant Willow// In the early evening we headed out, along with Clark’s friend. Paul reprised the Swedish Chef while I did a full face paint. My blue skies, yellow sun, and garden looked amazing in the light of my bathroom. I should have thought ahead and realized that as soon as it was dark no one would see anything. We all had a good time, although it was rough going for Clark, who tired out more quickly than he thought he would. Trick or Treat//
All in all, a happy Halloween!


Panda Party

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Panda love tacos// weekend Tabby celebrated her birthday with a party with friends. She requested a panda theme with tacos. Because everyone knows pandas love tacos, right? Right! We decided a panda party would constitute a panda cake, some panda decorations,and of course, a panda cutout. In the midst of the party we’d have make your own tacos. I don’t actually know if kids care about decorations, but I was pretty pleased with hanging paper lanterns and drawing faces of pandas on the white lanterns. Look how cute! panda lanterns for decorations//
As usual her party was held outside and we anxiously watched the weather. A grey damp morning led to a glorious sunny blue skied afternoon. Perfect! We organized lots of traditional games of things like Red Panda (aka Red Rover), a version of tag, and more. And of course the easiest fun ever-piles of leaves to jump in.
sack races// cake may be one of my favorites I’ve ever made. This panda is so cute you literally want to eat him right up. He’s holding bamboo, which is simply Pirouette cookies that I brushed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with green sugar. So cute I want to eat him up! I'm so pleased with how this came out//

She loved her cake// served it with strawberry ice cream (Tabby’s favorite flavor) which I pre-scooped into foil cupcake liners. I am totally always going to do this for parties now because I hate scooping and it was so nice and tidy to have it all done ahead of time. ala mode//
The girls all had a good time and were sent home with, of course, packages of Hello Panda cookies. Happy Birthday (again) Tabby!
Happy Birthday!//

Happy Birthday, Tabitha!

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Happy birthday, Tabby// was Tabby’s 8th birthday! Midway through the day she told me it was “even better than I expected it to be!” I mean, that’s great. In the morning I made M&M pancakes for breakfast (her request) and there were a few presents. It was a school day so we didn’t have a very long birthday breakfast, but enough to get the day off to a festive start.  She was very surprised and delighted by an outfit from the American Girl store for her AG doll, Molly. The gift was made even more fun by the story of how I bought it and hid it while we were in Toronto and how did I pull that over on her? See the happy birthday girl, she's 8 years old//
Tabby headed off to school ready to receive birthday greetings while I took Willow off to her first Level 2 class (she did great.) Near the end of the school day I showed up at Tabby’s class to read to them, and this was a surprise to her (she couldn’t believe it when I told her I’d scheduled it 3 weeks ago and kept it a secret.) She was so tickled to have me show up. As usual, I loved reading aloud. I read one book that I read to her class last year on her birthday (but only 1 student was from that class, so new to everyone else) that is extra special. It’s called Pet of a Pet, and astonishingly begins “Tabitha lived on a farm with lots of animals.” !!! On the second page it says, “Tabby, as she liked to be called.” You can see why we needed to own that book. After reading she got to come home with because it was so close to the end of the day, which was another birthday treat.

She had field hockey practice and we shared little cupcakes with the team at the end. Then it was off to home where Grandma and the birthday dinner awaited. Her requested menu: macaroni & cheese with hot dogs nestled in it, Caesar salad, and an Oreo cake.  She enjoyed the surprise of the hot dogs being in the shape of an 8.

The cake was spectacular, if I say so myself. I made it for Clark’s birthday last year. Simple to make and delicious to eat.
Cookies & Cream Cake//  I made two chocolate cake layers (using my new standard recipe-the Hershey’s cocoa recipe) and for the filling I whipped cream and folded crushed Oreos into it. The cake is frosted with whipped cream.  I am not a huge Oreo fan, but I could eat a bowl of that filling with a spoon. Ultimately the cake tastes very much like the classic Famous Wafers icebox cake. Crushed Oreos folded into whipped cream. Just give me a spoon to gobble it with!//
Her big surprise gift was a tablet of her very own. She was not expecting this and was thrilled. Turned out to be a gift for us, too, because she and Clark bonded over it, he’s been helping her with it, and they are finding games to play together. All in all, it was a wonderful day for her.
Make a wish//  Happy Birthday, Tabby! We love you! We love you, Tabby!//

Wiener Dog Races!

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And a lot more, but who could resist starting off with that enticing sound bite! October is consistently our busiest month of the year. I think it’s because there are so many beautiful fall days and nice things to do outside and frankly not enough weekends. This weekend we crammed in lots of fall fun, including an extra day because the kids had off for Columbus Day.

As you may have seen from time to time, my friends and I have a seasonal stitch-a-thon. What started out as a MidWinter Stitch-a-Thon was not enough, so now we had a Mid Autumn Stitch-a-Thon. Here are the necessary components for a stitch-a-thon: seasonal candy,  tv viewing that invites commentary, assorted decadent snacks, and some stitching projects.
Pumpkin Cremes// For this time that meant: creme pumpkins, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, carrot dip, fancy donuts and danishes, and a dishtowel I’ve been embroidering forever. It turned out that the dishtowel barely needed anything else done to it and all I have to do is the words on it. Hot From the Oven//
We shook things up this time by adding on extra fun that everyone could participate in–we headed down to Nomad for some fancy pizza and then we all went over to Howell Living Farm for the first year of the Amazing Pumpkin Carve. It was a perfect chilly fall night, smelled wonderful, and what a cool thing to do.
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There were about 50 pumpkins on display, all elaborately carved. Some were spooky, some fanciful, some were funny. It was marvelous!
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On Sunday Tabby had a respite from field hockey games, so we were able to head out to our new favorite town, Bethlehem, for Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest// was much smaller in scale than Musicfest and the whole thing was held at Steel Stacks. Clark & the Stacks//
It was such a pretty sunny day and everyone was very merry. Before even getting down to the beer and sausages we walked up along the stacks to check out the alpine horns being played. Look how pretty they are:
Beautiful Inside of the Alpine horn// our absolute delight we were invited to all give it a try and told that there were certificates for people who could manage to blow a note for 20 or more seconds. Clark has begun trombone lessons and they told us that it is the same mouthpiece and method and the guy was so nice about helping Clark try it out. Blowing the Alpine horn//
Then Paul gave it a whirl.
Blowing the Alpine horn

// Tabby Blowing the Alpine horn//
And finally, I did and I managed a whopping 22 seconds on my first try! (I’ll have to ask Paul to send me his photo/video of me.)The alpine guy was very impressed and people clapped and it was all very fun. There were fun games set up amidst tables and lots of delicious wursts and German pastry and beer.
Oktoberfest// real highlight was the Dachsund Races! (sadly we missed the barrel race and race carrying filled steins. I totally would have done that.) There were so many people there with their little wiener dogs. They raced them two by two and the announcers were hilarious, maintaining preposterous accents and running funny commentary. 2015-10-11 15.23.50 Some of the dogs raced quickly to their owners (it was a run from one owner to the other type of race), but most amused the audience by wandering away, visiting the other dogs, sitting down, etc. Many of the dogs were named Oscar. It was all in super good fun and we had a really nice afternoon.

Monday was Columbus Day and while Columbus may have been an ass, it was nice for the kids to have the day off and take them for a hike at Hacklebarney State Park. Clark brought a friend and all had a good time clambering over giant boulders and exploring. The forest was so pretty and it was a gorgeous spot to spend much of the day. (Despite some tears, hitting, and bickering among the younger set.) Here’s my new favorite picture of me, surprisingly taken by Tabby! 2015-10-12_08-20-07//

Exploring the rivers// a cave and trusting these rocks will continue to not move for another few hundred years//

A couple of other updates–I finished my Halloween quilt top! I may get this thing finished before Halloween after all! I’m undecided about the quilting style and also if I want to insert a small patchwork orange stripe in the midst of the wide black border. I’m pretty pleased with how this is coming along!
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I’m super aware that I haven’t bothered to do a garden wrap up, nor clean out the garden. It all just sort of fizzled this year. However, I’m delighted that my new rose bush is blooming again, and even more so that my heavenly blue morning glories are in full bloom every day now and are stunning. I can’t stop taking pictures of them!
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Today was Willow’s last dog class and I’m so proud to report that she successfully graduated! I was worried she wouldn’t but she has really come a long way since the first class. So much so that the instructor praised her for it. We are going to move on to Level 2 next week and later this winter we’re going to enroll in the agility class. She really is a wonderful dog and we love her so much!
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School Daze

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In my head this blog is super up to date. You wouldn’t believe how many things I’ve written about (in my head) over the past few weeks. You wouldn’t believe how many recipes I’ve shared! But somehow the thoughts don’t get magically transmitted onto the computer. Worse, the photos don’t get magically transmitted either. (It’s a multi-step process, the most cumbersome of which is using the laptop that is perpetually on Minecraft now, and thus rather slow. Also, O Canada ended with my camera being dropped on the marble floor of the lobby and the lens breaking. So all photos the past few weeks have been with my phone.  But that still requires some transferring around to get into WordPress.)  Although the kids are in school all day, making it seem like I should have endless hours to enjoy to myself, there seems to be an awful lot on my to-do list that is not “write a blog post.” (I lie-it’s on my to-do list every day, it’s just not getting done!) I know that last year at this time I was enjoying many special days of sewing and quilting, and I haven’t even done that once since school started. I’m really just going to blame everything on the dog and not my inability to get my act together. So let’s launch into some categorized catching up, starting with the dog.

I. Willow:
We continue to go to dog class and be very bad about practicing at home. I mean, just terrible. That said, she is doing pretty well.  I’ve been taking her on longer and longer walks and getting her good and tired out.
2015-09-17 11.41.16She was terrible about eating things off the counter, so now we have “snappy trainers” up all over the counters to keep her away.  She is getting extremely playful with the Liesl, with mixed results. Now she’ll chase her and put her paw on her and trap her, which I think she considers as “Yeah! The cat is finally playing with me!” and the cat considers “Oh God! This stupid dog is attacking me!”
I am begging you to play with me
But Liesl has had plenty of times of hitting Willow with her paws, but no claws out, and sometimes in a playful manner. Willow’s greatest achievement this weekend is that we brought her to the park for all of Saturday morning for both kids’ soccer games, as well as to someone’s house and a field hockey game on Sunday, and she did great.
Willow goes to soccer
She barked a few times at other dogs, but didn’t freak out. And she allowed many children to pet her and play with her, and she did not knock them over or bite them. There were a lot of people, dogs, and activity, and she was able to relax and eventually get very tired and just tune it all out and go to sleep.
Willow goes to soccer
* an update since writing this yesterday morning–Sweetie finally scratched her with claws. I didn’t see it, but heard the yelp and saw the running away and Sweetie all fluffed up huge. Later I went to the basement and saw Sweetie in her basket with Liesl in there with her (which she never is) and Liesl was licking Sweetie’s face (which she never does.) I have to assume that they were bonding and commiserating over how terrible things are with a puppy in the house.
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II. Sports:
For someone who has always professed to hate all sports, I sure spent a lot of time at sporting events this weekend. With Tabby adding field hockey to her schedule we now have a week with several different sports practices and 3 games on weekends. Clark’s soccer team is sadly really not very good, which is a bummer. Tabby’s team is ok, and the field hockey team has been creamed in both their games so far. With field hockey though half the team has literally never played the sport before (including Tabby-it’s a grades 2-4 group.) Tabby is enjoying learning it and playing (and it looks like so much fun I might get a stick myself and play in the yard with her.) Here she is in action:
2015-09-27 15.12.33 So as long as they don’t get discouraged and have a good time playing, I’m happy for them.  Paul just bought a bunch of pvc pipe and built a soccer goal for our yard, so that should be fun for us.  After the games on Saturday we went to a Princeton University football game in the late afternoon.  We did this last year and had such a good time we were happy to go again (it was a staff day-free tickets!)  It was a great game (Princeton, 52-26) and we were super excited when 2 touchdowns were scored right in front of us.
Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!
The night was capped off by fireworks over the stadium immediately following the end of the game.

III.Survey Says!
In between soccer and the Princeton game, Paul and I participated in a game ourselves. No, nothing athletic. Our town was having its annual Country Fair and this year the rec department sponsored a Family Feud. They really did a great job with all the details-a fun host who got into the game show host role, name tags just like they used to wear, and a buzzers and microphones. We called ourselves Richard Dawson’s Creek (get it? GET IT!) and it was me and Paul, our friends Stephanie and Ernie, and our friend Greg.
Family Feud
We played against some other friends of ours and it was quite merry and fun. And because I am a tad competitive about games, I’m pleased to say….we won!!! There were even prizes.
Family Feud

IV. In the Coop:
Poor Gordon has been forced to have an unpleasant change of habitat.  He can no longer be allowed to roam around the chicken coop after an adventure last week. Paul and I went out in the evening to put him back and discovered he’d handily escaped through a tunnel he’d dug under the fence. We were able to catch a glimpse of him under the shed, but were not able to get to him.  Eventually we had to go to bed. (and p.s. I’m pretty sure the raging poison ivy on my face and other parts of me came from lying down next to the shed in the dark trying to find him.) In the morning we went outside, hoping he’d still be there and we spotted him…in our neighbor’s yard! We guided him back towards us, away from the woods, and were able to catch him next to the chicken coop.  I hate to see him cooped up in his hutch, but it’s better that than letting him escape and run away/be gotten by a predator.  For now he can only be allowed to run around when I am out in the coop with him and can directly supervise.

V. Hey Good Lookin’, Whatcha Got Cookin’?
I used to be so good about doing recipe posts! Here are a few highlights of things I’ve cooked/baked in the past few weeks:

    1. Corn Souffle: nothing makes you feel quite so fancy as a souffle for dinner. I was thrilled with how this came out. Using fresh corn off the cob and a nice sharp cheddar it was super delicious. Recipe from: ? I found it online and saved the open page for days and then my mom closed all my tabs (again, you don’t need to close the tabs to use the computer.) I hope I find it again.
      2015-08-28 18.46.00
    2. Maple Scones*: my new favorite scone recipe. I made these for a back-to-school tea I had for some friends. Although 1/4 c maple syrup is used to sweeten the scone you can’t taste it at all. These were quite possibly the best scones I’ve ever made. And I served them with a homemade Devonshire cream and jam. It was totally heavenly.Recipe from a cookbook I’ve had for many years, so it’s nuts this is the first time I’ve made it-The Simple Art of Quick Breads.

I can confidently report that these were the best scones I've ever made. Extra delicious send with Devonshire cream and jam. #scones #baking #teatime

    1. Extra Crumb Coffee Cake: Holy cow was this insane. Primarily butter and sugar and cinnamon it smelled amazing when baking and tasted absolutely wonderful. Recipe from Joy the Baker.

World's Best Crumb Cake

    1. Apple Cake*: This was made using my mom’s recipe, which she often used to make (using peaches or apples.) It’s a flat cake, not very sweet, and I always remembered it as being very dry. I made some adjustments (cooked shorter time, added cake spice, used brown sugar) but it was still pretty dry. It looked pretty though and was a nice fall, not heavy dessert.

Apple Cake

*These items, along with ham & cheddar muffins, were all EATEN by the dog.  Yes, leftovers innocently placed on the counter or stovetop were gobbled up by that wicked creature. The scones eating sent me over the edge and the Snappy Trainers were promptly ordered. P.S. since getting the snappy trainers I have set them off more than Willow, scaring the bejeesus out of me every time. Every. Time.

And so that’s basically it. Still trying to get into a school year groove, still hoping to finish a Halloween quilt by Halloween, looking forward to some good things (like hikes) that we’ve got planned, and enjoying the cool early mornings and evenings we’ve been having (except yesterday and today-warm and humid?!).
heavenly blue!//

O Canada! (Pt. II-Toronto)

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When last we left off in the travelogue (torturously long ago-I’m simultaneously having trouble getting into a school year routine as well as having too many things to do during the day), we’d just gotten in the car to drive up to Toronto.  After an uneventful drive (*our listening pleasure on the entire trip was The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw, read by Bronson Pinchot. This is the 3rd and final book and we’ve listened to the previous titles on previous long car trips. Bronson Pinchot is an amazing audiobook reader. It’s like being entertained by a one-man show and really quite incredible. Though to tell the truth, I was tuned out on this stretch of drive as I was so engrossed in the middle ages, reading the end of The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.) we found our hotel and checked in.  And now began the fun (and very new-to-the-kids) of staying in a city. The last time I was in Toronto Paul and I were there for the ALA Annual Conference, and we had just gotten engaged the night before! So yes, I remembered it with a rosy glow. Our hotel was in a terrific location-a bustling area, on the edge of not-Chinatown (maybe a new area developing into a new Chinatown?), easy access to subway stops, and the underground shopping centers. Since we were in such an Asian area we took the opportunity to take the kids out for their first dim sum. The food was great and afterwards we went to a bubble tea place. Paul loves bubble tea, but doesn’t come across it very often, so he was pretty delighted that there an entire place that was just that.
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2015-09-03 19.59.57 After all that we made use of the hotel’s terrific family pool.
The next day we ate breakfast out and then headed downtown (via subway) to go to the CN Tower. We were thrilled to realize that a comic con was starting at the convention center (which is right next to the CN Tower), so the people watching the whole time we were there was fantastic as there were hundreds of people dressed in costume on the subway, on the sidewalk, in the coffee shops, etc. The CN Tower is rather like the Space Needle-a tremendously tall spire that you can go up.
the CN Tower
We ascended and then there is an observation deck and also a cool glass floor, which is unnerving to walk on.
the CN Tower
Here’s the stadium the Blue Jays play in way down beloooooow..
the CN Tower
The views were amazing-Lake Ontario is humongous and beautiful, and you can really see how big a waterfront city Toronto is.

After the CN Tower we had a little Canadian snack at Second Cup (a coffee chain that we fondly recalled and couldn’t wait to enjoy a frozen hot chocolate at.)
Tableaux of Canadian snack timeWe walked along the street to enjoy a marvelous memorial which is tragic, but also funny (a match factory seems ripe for a fire.) Called “100 workers” it is a gallery of plaques, one for each year 1900-1999, commemorating someone who died in a workplace accident. 100 Workers
The descriptions are rather uneven-many early ones gruesome and detailed(“died from blood poisoning from a circular saw cut”), with many later ones vague or abrupt (emphysema). It is well worth 10 minutes of your time to check this out. Then we took the subway up to Casa Loma. We were really excited to check this place out, which is called a castle, which was somewhat misleading to Clark who was hoping for oubliettes and suits of armor. In fact, it’s a huge historical mansion (castle).
Casa LomaAnd if there’s one thing I love it’s touring historical mansions and imagining the life of a robber baron. Or, as a friend commented, “I can practically see the gilded hummingbirds from here!” Exactly. IMG_4469 Casa Loma is frequently used for filming movies, which was also kind of neat to see. And for Paul and I, a nice surprise was that there was an exhibit in one of the rooms of Group of Seven paintings. Now, the Group of Seven was a Canadian art movement/collective back in the 1920s (I think that’s when, and I can’t be bothered to go fact check in our beautiful coffee table book about it.) The impetus for this trip was to see the band The Rheostatics, who were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of an album that was music inspired by the Group of Seven, with a rare performance of said music. So, it was cool to see the paintings right there. After thoroughly exploring Casa Loma everyone was hot and tired. We needed desperately to just go relax in the hotel pool, which we did. Followed by a lovely dinner out at a pub, and then some much desired time at Indigo, a wonderful huge bookstore. The World Needs More....Group of Seven
And, to Tabby’s everlasting excitement, the new home of an American Girl doll store.  She was truly in heaven, having never seen one before. It is the source of her beautiful smile in this photo:
2015-09-04 21.45.39

And this giant lit up (changing colors) Toronto piece was really cool. Lots of people in the plaza taking neat nighttime pictures, and a lovely way to end our (yet again) late night.

TORONTOFor our final day in Toronto we visited the Royal Ontario Museum and the Hockey Hall of Fame. And did a little shopping at Roots. ROM was a terrific museum, not humongous, with a nice variety of collections. I think there was something there that each of us really enjoyed. Tabby seemed captivated by the First Peoples exhibit, while Clark liked the Ancient Chinese and Japanese things, I liked the Staircase of Wonders and biodiversity exhibit, and despite himself Paul was fascinated by the Mexican textiles. #ROMpei : a sidewalk art installation to celebrate their Pompeii exhibitAnd we were all delighted that the subway stop for the museum has cool pillars and sculptures, instead of ordinary poles. 2015-09-05 13.21.46 Next up, hockey. The Hockey Hall of Fame houses the Stanley Cup in a beautiful domed room with a ceiling made of gorgeous stained glass. Stained glass dome
It’s resplendent and an appropriately lavish setting.
The Stanley CupThat was our first stop in the museum, which was filled with interesting things like old uniforms that look very quaint and insufficient.Goalie
We especially enjoyed the interactive exhibits and all took turns trying out the NHL shootout where you try to score goals against and animated goalie. (I scored 2!)

And finally, the trip wrapped up that evening with the concert at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO.)  We are wishing we were able to explore the art gallery because it looked pretty cool, but it was closed for the evening. The event was held in an open room, and there were just 500 tickets sold for this sold out event.
The Rheostatics @ the Art Gallery of OntarioWe stood very close to the stage and it was really quite an incredible, intimate experience. Paul is the Rheostatics fan, and so I leave him to tell you in detail about this special concert and why it was so rare. For the record, they didn’t play the one song I hoped they would, but that’s ok because I did enjoy it. Also, this was an incredible blend of sound and sight, as there were projections on the walls of the gallery space that were integral to the whole thing. It was quite moving. Here we are outside: The Rheostatics @ the Art Gallery of Ontario
And up early in the morning for one last swim and then a stop in a science museum (but there were no photos because there was a lot of crankiness) and then heading home, which turned into an endless trip–12 hours!! due to all kinds of traffic nonsense. Boy, were we tired when we got home at 1am.
All in all, a great trip to our neighbor to the North!!


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