Image by Jen Riehle for Smashing Magazine

Happy Pride & Canada Day Weekend!

A  wise man once said, “The best weekends are spent with good friends and family, but are measured in good wine and beer.” Actually, no one’s ever said that. No one famous anyhow, just me. Like, just now. That wise man was me. So yeah, we drank a lot this weekend, is what I’m saying. But we drank well, and with a  narrative in mind.

On Friday we escaped work a little early and prepared dinner for our friends Kaylea & Matt. That it was #cdnwine day on Twitter (apparently?) was just a bonus. We grilled steaks from Cumbrae’s and drank lots of Canadian wine (with a few others thrown in for international flavour) and beer (courtesy of K&M) and welcomed three of their friends and actually made use of our balcony for pretty much the first time this year. It’s possible that we ate too much and drank too much and didn’t get enough sleep, but it was worth it.  Here’s what went down (our gullets):


  • 13th Street 2011 Pinot Gris
  • Malivoire 2007 ‘Moira’ Pinot Noir
  • Nyarai 2011 Viognier
  • Pearl Morissette 2010 ‘Black Ball’ Riesling
  • Shypoke 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Versado 2010 Malbec
  • Featherstone 2011 Cabernet Franc (thanks Steph!)


  • Beer Academy Hopaweizen
  • Beau’s Festivale Plus Sticke Alt
  • Goose Island Sofie
  • Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale

The next morning was basically an exercise in how fast we could get a peameal bacon sandwich and giant-ass Fahrenheit coffee into each of us, before sending Matt & Kaylea on their way. Then Nellie and I plopped ourselves on the couch, inexplicably watched the wretched Movie 43 (imdb | rotten tomatoes), and eventually Uber’d up to our friend MLK’s, where CBGBLB were visiting. We enjoyed their backyard while GB made some amazing barbecued ribs. We took along a few more treats for dinner too:

  • Pearl Morissette 2010 ‘Black Ball’ Riesling
  • 13th Street 2011 ‘Arome’ Essence White
  • Tawse 2009 ‘Laidlaw’ Pinot Noir
  • Tawse 2010 Wine Club Syrah

It wasn’t a late night, obviously, given the yesterevening’s festivities. We took a quick stroll through the Pride-related mayhem on Church Street on our way home, and were reminded that it’s totally legit for ladies to go topless in Toronto. Bless.

Sunday, much like Saturday evening, was sunnier and warmer than expected, so we found our way to a patio. The Bier Markt patio, to be exact, wherein I drank two ice cold Erdinger weissbeers and earned myself a sunburn. North of us, the Pride Parade snaked its’ way around central Toronto. We could see the tail from our balcony as it formed, even that far north. In honour of the day, we drank a bottle of Daniel Lenko 2008 ‘Chardonngay’ Chardonnay with dinner.


And then what better way to spend Monday — Canada Day — than watching the White House get trashed, a la how the British/Canadian troops did it in 1814, in the risible Die Hard rip-off White House Down (imdb | rotten tomatoes)? Well, I guess we did come up with a better way: Nellie made a meal of shrimp and scallops and corn paired with a Southbrook 2004 ‘Poetica’ Chardonnay (the label for which featured a poem by Martin Tielli, one of my favourite Canadian musicians) and lamb paired with a Stratus 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Canadian food, Canadian wine, Canadian talent. Delicious patriotism!


Image by Jen Riehle for Smashing Magazine

Happy birthday, country

Twenty-four hours into my mini-vacation and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I’m off work. I think it’ll occur to me tomorrow morning when I don’t have to get up and stumble in to the office.

So yes, I decided to take a five-day weekend. No big plans (as we’ll be taking off to Nova Scotia soon enough), just down-home relaxation. It kicked off last night with a nice little dinner on the patio at Mercatto. Today, to celebrate Canada Day we took in a Jays game (they beat Tampa Bay handily, 5-0, and we finally got to see some home runs) in the beautiful sunshine with the dome open…no rain in sight, despite the forecast.

We kept the sunshine-loving going by camping out on the Bier Markt patio after the game. Neither of us had been there in nine (!) years, even though we live just minutes away. Either the beer selection has improved over the years, or my tastes have developed to the point where I appreciate having half a dozen frosty cold weissbiers from which to choose on a warm summer day. I went Erdinger-Denison’s (in a fit of patriotism)-Weihenstephan. Nellie started with a KLB Raspberry Wheat and then got into the Koningshoeven Tripel. Did I mention it was frosty cold? It was.

Right now I’m listening to A.C. Newman and Elliot Brood and watching Canada Day fireworks bubble and scrape across the city skyline, thanking fate and random circumstance for plopping me down in the greatest country on earth.

Glorious? Check.

Free? Check.

Happy birthday, Canada.


It’s data! It’s pictures! It’s learning!

First up, from The Economist, we have the rate of new AIDS infections plotted next to condom use.

Not to sound disrespectful or anything, but…suck it, Pope Benedict.

Next, the NY Times shows (or showed, about a month ago I guess) in several countries the relationship between the speed with which we eat (controlling for the average amount eaten, I assume) and the obesity rate.

That gap between the obesity rate in Canada and the US seems about right, matching the representation in this (rather long) graphic courtesy of Mint:

Wow…do the suicide rates and murder rates balance out?

By the way, you should click through to see the rest of that Mint post to see similar charts on the economy, environment and military of these three countries.

But are we getting smarter?

Statscan is a great site if you like poking your nose into Canadian demographic data (or just about anything else). Recently I wondered how the percentage of Canadians holding post-graduate degrees had increased in recent years. A few clicks later I found a summary table that I’ve condensed a little more below:


Those are some pretty drastic changes in all levels of education over those fifteen years. The proportion of people earning bachelor’s degrees grew by 59%, as did those earning a doctorate. The proportion earning master’s degrees jumped 81%. Pretty remarkable. The drop in the group without high school diplomas is probably largely due to the death of those born before compulsory schooling laws like the Schools Administration Act came into effect.

Another summary table caught my eye: the educational level attained by farm operators. In 2006 7.4% of farmers held university degrees. In 2001 it was just 6.1%. Hard to say what it would have been in the mid-60s when my dad got his.

Seven lean years…

Thanks, Stephen Harper. Way to improve our image on the national stage.

MUNYONYO, Uganda – Canada appears to have got its way at Commonwealth talks on climate change.

The 53-member organization has produced an agreement stripped of any reference to binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada and Australia had been the lone holdouts against an earlier resolution that would have included such targets – and the Australian government has just been defeated in an election.


The home improvement continues. Last night we picked up the framed poster that we bought in Paris (well…saw at a restaurant in paris, ordered here at home and had framed down the street) and hung it on the wall. The drill we bought finally came in handy; this sucker’s about 36″x48″ so we needed to sink some screws into the studs. We moved around some other picture, put up some shelves, through out some old pictures…it’s like we’re moving again.

Today we dropped a bunch of stuff at Goodwill, then picked up a counter-height dining table (which Nellie’s being eying for about a year) and a Herman Miller Aeron chair (which I’ve wanted since about 1999). My ass is firmly planted in it as I type this and I think it might just be the best thing I’ve ever bought.

Next up were some new chairs; a place just down the street had some that we liked so we ordered them in for next week. Time to get rid of that old cushy beige one and get some grown-up chairs. We bought some frames for our  diplomas too; after nine years I guess Nellie figures it’s time to hang hers up.

Now Nellie’s off shopping for a dress for my company’s xmas party next weekend, while I unpack the new stuff and wait for the cleaning service to finish up. It’s been a busy 20 hours!

I think we’re going through this mad decoration phase for two reasons: first, we’re entertaining tonight and next Saturday, which gives us some incentive to finally do something; we’d been too busy and complacent after moving in to finish everything off. Second, we went years without buying any new furniture, or painting, or hanging new art, because we were waiting for the condo to be built. I’ve been sitting on the same $40 office chair since my fourth year of university, so I don’t mind dropping the dough for an Aeron to make up for the 11 years of sore-ass.

[tags]canada, commonwealth talks, climate change, stephen harper, condo decorating, herman miller, aeron[/tags]