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    A Handmade Gift for a Dear Young Person

    d wearing her hat and scarf

    Hello! It's time for photos of Delilah!

    She is my cousin's daughter, to whom I've been sending a handmade gift every Christmas. Then, in the new year, her mom Lisa has sent over some pictures of this darling child with her gift. Since she lives a plane-ride away, it has been a true pleasure for me, watching her grow up via these treasured photographs.

    The tradition began when she was 2 and she is now 7, so there are six handmade gifts and corresponding sets of pictures. If you'd like to see the others, and/or get ideas and "How-Tos" for gifts for young girls, here they are:

    It's been fun thinking up a new idea for what to make each year. This year, she was at an age that I thought she'd appreciate something to wear and, since she lives in one of Canada's coldest and snowiest cities, a cozy scarf and hat set seemed the perfect thing.

    First, let's look at the shots of her wearing them. Below, you'll find instructions for how to make them.

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    At the Gallery : AGO’s “Impressionism in the Age of Industry”

    entry to impressionism in the age of industry exhibition at ago toronto

    Those who enjoy a theme will be pleased to see how the curator of the new exhibition at the Ago, Dr. Caroline Shields, nailed it when pulling together the pieces for "Impressionism in the Age of Industry". The show will be on display until May 5th, 2019.

    Including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures and early films, borrowed from galleries and private collectors from across Europe, the United States and Canada, some coming from the AGO's own collection, the show beautifully depicts how the impressionist artists of the late-1800s viewed their dramatically changing surroundings, as the influx of modernization and industry took hold.

    In fact, it was industry itself and a new invention that allowed the French Impressionist art movement to be born, after synthetic paints became available, prepackaged in tubes. Prior to this, colours had to be painstakingly ground up and mixed as needed, giving painters little opportunity to leave their studios and get outside to create "en plain air", which was one significant characterization of this movement.

    The term "Impressionism" was first used in 1872, after Claude Monet named his painting "Impression, Soleil Levent" (Impression, Sunrise) when submitting it for an exhibition. He'd been asked to provide a name, and recognizing that the piece, which appeared misty and lacked specific detail, could be best described as an "impression" of the scene. This caused an art critic to satirically coin the term, using it to categorize paintings which were created using a combination of daubs and short strokes of colour, that, when viewed together, suggested an image. At the time, this style was viewed as a lesser "unfinished" style in comparison to the highly detailed and accurate depictions that had become the norm in paintings until then.

    In the beginning, the Impressionist painters had a very difficult time having their work accepted to be shown in salons and purchased by collectors. It was thanks to a single purchaser, Paul Durand-Ruel, the first modern art dealer that ever was, who basically supported the group of French artists who painted in this style, when no one else was interested in their work.

    Fast forward and here we are, 150 years later and across an ocean, able to admire and appreciate these wonderful artworks displayed together for the first and only time. The show is extensive, interesting and very impressive (no pun intended).

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    Live Music : LP and Lauren Ruth Ward at The Danforth Music Hall

    lp and band in toronto danforth music hall february twenty nineteen

    You know that sad feeling you get after something you'd been looking forward to has happened and is now in the past? That's how I feel, looking at these photos and remembering the awesome time we had at the sold out LP (aka Laura Pergolizzi) concert at The Danforth Music Hall a week ago Saturday (February 9th).

    This was the third time in under two years that we've seen her perform, and if she were to come back to Toronto again next month, I'd be there again. She is just so good and her concerts are so much fun. (I wrote about the other two shows here and here).

    In fact, I've only ever seen one other band three times before, (aside from friends' bands) -- that was Rush back in my teenage years. I can credit Geddy, Alex and Neil for my love of going to see live music, as theirs was the first concert I ever went to, after my brother had a spare ticket for an all-ages show, and brought me along.

    Around that same time, I also saw KD Lang perform in a small venue, an experience that came up in the conversation Nick and I had before LP hit the stage at this show. I was saying that I believed seeing LP now would be something we would talk about in the future, citing that we'd had the good luck to have seen her perform live before world domination and large stadium shows set in. Readers who were at the show will know how, about half an hour later, we both looked at one another with wide eyes, when LP began telling the audience about the strange dream she'd had the night prior, which featured, none other than KD Lang! In the dream LP was glad that KD liked her music.

    The fact that LP has sold out the mid-sized Danforth Music Hall for her past two shows in Toronto, means that the next one will likely be at a larger venue, so this may well have been the last time we'll have gotten the chance to stand up and dance to her excellent music, amidst an enthusiastic crowd, as a larger venue hear means assigned seats. However, that won't stop all the singing along!

    Or, maybe that won't happen right away, because, right now, Toronto's usual "next size up" venue, Massey Hall, is closed for major renovations, which are expected to take two years, so maybe next time LP will schedule two or three shows at The Danforth, so everyone who wants to see her, can have the chance. That's what some of the more popular bands are doing here, these days but I've heard rumblings that a new venue is being built in the city.

    Regardless of what happens next for this impressively talented singer/songwriter/performer, I'll be keenly there, cheering her on, waving in the crowd, because, if she sees your hand up, she smiles her big smile and waves back at you!

    Today, LP is touring her fifth album, "Heart to Mouth", so we got to hear most of the songs from that, plus a bunch from her previous one, "Lost on You". If you'd like to listen to my faves, "Recovery" and "Girls Go Wild" from "Heart to Mouth" are great, as are "Lost on You" and "When We're High" from "Lost on You". But really, I'm stretching to name favourites because every moment of her hour-long-plus-encore show was so good!

    The show opened with a special treat -- a set by LP's fiancée, Lauren Ruth Ward. From what I understand, Lauren performed with LP for only four shows in this tour, and this one in Toronto was the first. I'm not sure if there was any publicity about her being on the bill, but it came as a complete (and welcomed) surprise to us.

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    Handmade Valentine Decorations : Needlepoint Hearts

    loops and threads heart shaped plastic canvas needle point how to do them

    Hello! Here's a fun-to-do DIY that anyone with an urge to make something with yarn can enjoy. The craft is "needlepoint" but, rather than being done on a finely woven mesh with thin wool, as it usually is, these are made with heart-shaped pieces of plastic canvas and thick yarn, so they're easy, quick and suitable for new stitchers and experienced ones alike.

    With it being Valentine's Day, the hearts are timely, however, these shapes are available all year around, at Michaels (in packs of ten for $1.49) and probably other large craft supply shops. While I've made mine to use as Valentine decor, done in other colours, they could just as easily suit a baby-shower, birthday party or Mother's Day. Even in the Valentine colours, I plan to pull these out again at our anniversary, as I do with the other Vday things we have. Hearts are my favourite shape, so the more the better!

    Under the package label on the plastic canvas, you'll find general instructions for how to needlepoint (it's simple!), but they don't come with information on how to best fill the hearts in. The key thing, in my opinion, is to completely and totally hide all traces of the plastic base, because plastic and woolly handmade just don't go well together.

    After finishing six of them last weekend, I believe I've figured out a good plastic-covering strategy. I worked on them last weekend, while wicked winter weather was swirling around outside. I'd actually not originally intended to make so many, but they're rather addictive, so I just kept pulling out another one, to begin again, while drinking tea and watching movies. At one point, I experienced such a calm feeling of warmth and comfort, stitching away while hearing the sound of ice pellets tapping against the window.

    Each heart takes about 45 minutes to stitch, and then more time, depending on the further embellishments you choose to add.

    If you're looking to make this a real quick craft, the fastest way to finish them would be to create a simple loop for hanging from a piece of yarn or ribbon and gluing a piece of felt on the back (which you could even skip if the heart was going to hang against a wall, but note that the back side of them does not look very nice, no matter how careful you are with your stitching. That can be viewed as a good thing, in that it makes no difference what the back looks like so you can just forget about it and more fully enjoy the act of creating something.

    Before we get to the instructions, here are some pictures of other ways to finish your needlepoint hearts ...

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    Snow Day in Toronto: the Day After a Big Storm

    alley way in toronto after a snow storm

    A week ago Monday, it began snowing in Toronto in the early morning hours and continued to do so, without a letting up for a moment, for the entire day and night.

    When it was over, over 33 centimetres had fallen in the downtown part of the city in 24 hours. The last time there'd been this much in one day was over half a century ago, on January 23, 1966, when 37 centimetres fell in a single day.

    To put it into perspective, we usually get a average of 122 centimetres a year, spread over 41 days -- that's about 3 centimetres per snow day. On Monday, January 28, 2019, we go over 10 times the average!

    This is no big whoop for those living to the north, east and west of the city, as they always get more snow than we do ... I'm waving at my parents now, who live in Barrie, which one of Canada's 10 snowiest cities. Well, actually, we can't say the areas outside of the city "always" get more snow anymore, because on the 28th, Toronto was blessed with more than the surrounding areas, for the first time, in, maybe, ever.

    That is all to say, that we got a shockingly large amount of snow here one day last week. Schools were closed, public transportation was in chaos, and motorists were asked to stay off the roads so snow plows could do their thing.

    I bundled up the next day, and went for a walk to have a look at the aftermath, and to take some pictures ...

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    Recent Stories

    A Handmade Gift for a Dear Young Person At the Gallery : AGO's "Impressionism in the Age of Industry" Live Music : LP and Lauren Ruth Ward at The Danforth Music Hall Handmade Valentine Decorations : Needlepoint Hearts Snow Day in Toronto: the Day After a Big Storm Lunch at the Home of Friends Niall and Leslie Crocheting : Figuring Out a Very Particular BUT Quite Magical Yarn A Birthday Dinner at Rosalinda Holiday Crochet : How to Make a Wreath A Holiday Art Date with Andrea : Hand Lettering Live Music : Peter Bjorn and John at The Velvet Underground Gift Wrapping : How to Make a Crocheted Flower and Button Topper Our Anniversary Dinner : Nineteen Years! How to Make Tassel Earrings with Embroidery Thread and a Comb A Beautiful Brunch with Fine Friends Dinner in a Building With a History and a Personal Mystery Solved Easy Handmade : How to Make a Felted Wool Ball Garland Thrift Store Finds A Crocheted Baby Girl Cardigan Sweater Great Art, Food and Friends : The Paintings of Sue Tupy at C9 Gallery Party Food : Pizza Mini Muffins with Dipping Sauce A Celebration of Friendship : Six Years with Julie In the Garden : A New Bunch of Bulbs Autumn Crochet : A Cute Owl Adorns a Renewable Everlasting Sachet
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