Archive | March 2014

The 6th Fabulous Vegan Bakeoff – a wrap up of my snacking!

Yesterday was the 6th Annual Fabulous Vegan Bake-off, as run by Toronto vegan superstars Lisa Pitman & Luke Albert (along with a huge crew of super friendly TVA Green Shirts!). I’ve been going since the 2nd annual vegan bake-off, I think it’s a fun event that encourages creativity and deliciousness in the Toronto vegan community. This year the event was held at the pretty shiny Daniels Spectrum building in the East End. Plenty of space for how big the event has gotten, which was great – only, not a lot of space for people lining up to get in. That’s a tough one. There were 500 tickets sold, so the main hall got pretty packed with all the folks nibbling and the tables of samples.

Tables of vegan baked goods on plates, in a hall full of people.

A sea of samples












Tables of vegan baked goods on plates, in a hall full of people.

People snacking











In years past I have gone a little wild, getting a bunch of plates to share out with friends; this year I stuck with two categories – Professionally Crafted GF goodies, and Professionally Crafted Vegan Classics Plate #2.  It was hard to pick from the 12 categories (!!) – and going with the pro categories meant I got a variety of goodies. I’m such a cheat. Here’s the plates:

It was a tough choice to pick a #1 from both these amazing plates! My pick on the GF plate was the Chockfull of Goodness Pumpkin Pie – delicious cocoa crust with an intense pumpkin goo, topped with a fluffy frosting & a mini gingerbread heart! Yessss. I wouldn’t have said no to anything else on that place had I been offered again, honestly (with the exception of the fudge, which just wasn’t up my alley). I would like a chance to try a not-room-temperature punkass peppermint nanaimo too (tasty, but so goopy!). On the Vegan Classics plate, I was thrilled about the savoury options – it’s what made me pick that plate, really. While the sweets were nice (butter tart especially), the savoury were out of this world in taste and quality. While I loved the Kale & Daiya provolone scone (I hope Tori’s put this into rotation!), the pizza bun is incredibly flavourful so it got my vote – a tough choice. (And had me considering heading to TBC to pick up a whole one..) – I have seen a couple of winners/best in show posted, but I look forward to seeing all of the results.

After snacking, I strolled over to check out the presentation plates from each of the Bakeoff participants. I love how creative these folks get – after churning out all those samples, too! Dang.

Tea set and butter tarts

Butter tarts










Tart and scones in Tori's bakeshop display

Tori’s bakeshop spread










Lovely tart decorated with flowers

This is the large version of the GF option I picked as my winner











Cookies and a model of a Sea Shepherd boat

Bonus points for Sea Shepherd awesomeness











Lego trees with fritters in the top

Anything with Lego is awesome.










Mud pie cookies on fake grass with a shovel and bucket.

Such a creative and Spring-y display!










After this look around, and saying hello to a few folks I know, and putting in my ballots, it was time to head out. I know that it’s fun to sit around and watch the judging, but I felt so crowded in that space – there were few chairs, and I ended up perched at the edge of the room behind a table – I felt pretty disconnected from the event, and even as I was heading out I found it tough to navigate through the blobs of people. I think some spaces designated for seating away from thoroughfares would make me feel more comfortable in sticking around in the future. My problems with crowds are always spoiling my fun 🙂

I look forward to the 7th Annual Fabulous Bakeoff! I hope as the years go on, people attending will become more aware of the event they’re attending and leave the fur trim coats & Uggs at home, though.. I know it’s cold out there, but that is one thing I would love to see the TVA address as an issue of respect going forward. It’s not much fun snacking on cruelty-free treats and having fur traipsed about, after all. It would be a great venue to distribute information about cruelty-free outerwear, and present the bigger picture of a vegan lifestyle to all attending.

End of the week digital dozen pick me up!

Looking for something to alt-tab to between Word documents and emails today? Look no further..

If you’ve ever wondered what some pretty famous bands look like as LEGO minifigs, you needn’t leave it to your imagination any more – see the rest here. These are pretty spot on! I think the Thom Yorke below is especially good.

Indignant bunny is mad you’ve stopped petting! Jake sometimes gives me a look when I stop petting him in the mornings 🙂

Transformers are neat and all, but they’re way more awesome when they’re pop culture vehicles made into Transformers! Check it. My fave is..

Fill your brain with strange word knowledge – John Green goes over the strange origins of 40 English Words on this Mental Floss episode. (Canteloupe is interesting, but I’d be interested to know where the term Rockmelon comes from, which is what we call ’em in Australia!).

How freaking adorable are these tea cosies? Snailpots! Amazing.

Get ready for how adorable tree kangaroos are! Especially when they’re wrasslin’ teddy bears or fighting over spaghetti. These cuties were rescued, and are being prepared for wild release in a couple of years.

This is a smashing design for a bike wall-mount. I wonder if it works for all sorts of seat shapes to hang on there..

A photographer took a photo of birds on a wire, and a composer used it to make a musical piece. Creativity to the max.

<p><a href=”″>Birds on the Wires</a> from <a href=””>Jarbas Agnelli</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This isn’t a cucumber. But it’s a pretty good decoy. Click through to check out incredible painted foods that look like other foods.

Pretty sure this kid & his dog win cosplay forever.

Hero-glyphics – these are so imaginative and well-realised! I love it. You can buy prints!

And now I’ll leave you with a GIF of an adorable combat-rolling piggie.

Things Making Me Happy/I Love Thursday

I hear that today is the UN International Day of Happiness. How fortuituous that it falls on a Things I Love Thursday. It’s also a nice reminder that sometimes it can be hard to be happy, and to find happiness in your life. I think doing TILT (almost) every week helps me do that to a certain degree, and remember how lucky I am, too. The Action For Happiness folks who are behind a lot of the International Day of Happiness have a good list of actions to pick from to help foster happiness in yourself and others, too. In addition, they have a resource page if you’re unhappy, which is helpful too (barring the UK-specific contact stuff).

So, what I am I happy about today? What makes me happy, how do I make others happy?

I love making people laugh. I’m not professional comedian funny, but I can throw out a joke/bad pun/goofy face to good results. Seeing my sense of humour light someone’s face up is something I love, and it definitely makes me happy – and it’s something that I need to focus on more often because it’s a good indicator of how my general mood is.

I love Pop Culture Happy Hour. They’re generally always talking about all sorts of interesting things, and the most recent episode I listened to – The Naked and the Nerds – was really great! Plus, the host Linda Holmes does a round-up at the end of every episode for the segment “What’s Making Us Happy” – which is always a varied and entertaining bunch of stuff, and it’s a good source of things to seek out, pop culturally! This week the graphic novel The Shadow Hero was mentioned, and the way Glen Weldon was talking about it made me add it to my list of ‘to read’ stuff right away!

At the end of April I’ll be finishing up my temp job, so I’m starting to find the nerve to look for something else. My friends helping me out with looking over job applications, and sending positions of interest my way! I am super freaked out about/terrible at job hunting, so it’s nice to have the support there to help me along. Plus my current boss looking over the applications too means a lot! What lovely people in my life.

Speaking of lovely people, I really must point out once again that I dearly love Adam, and I’m so happy that he’s in my life. When I’m finding it hard to push through the sads, he’s there for me – understanding and supportive. Things I Love Thursday isn’t something that follows me naturally throughout every day, but Adam can help me toward that a little more. That guy is the best guy.

I hope, dear reader, that you have happiness today, and every day!

100 years young – happy birthday Royal Ontario Museum!

The first time I visited Toronto back in 2004, I made sure to get to the Royal Ontario Museum. At the time I was working at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, and it was a natural stop for me to check out a similar museum here. They were already under some renovations at that point, but there was still a lot of really cool stuff to see.

I was excited to see what they’d done with the museum when I visited again in 2007. The renovations recently completed overall, and the new building facade revealed, the museum was fantastic to see as a whole! Now I live here, I’ve become a member, and I’m enjoying supporting the ROM & the benefits I get as a member. Here’s my favourite things about the ROM, as my little celebration of their 100 year birthday today. (Helpfully on museum blogs day!)

The Building. Yes, even the crystalI think it looks amazing. It has a striking presence. It stands out as a museum of its size should. Plus, I can spot it from my balcony. I imagine the windows must pose a conservation nightmare as far as UV goes, but the gorgeous natural light it provides (especially in the dino & mammals gallery) is awesome. The way the old and new facades have been integrated fascinates me (not just from the outside, but you can see it as you wander inside if you look out for it!). Plus, I love the Stairs of Wonder, which feed off the design so well.

How super involved and developed the ROM’s presence on social media is! The team works hard to share awesome content and interact with their audience and industry partners, and it shows. They have folks ranging from curators to people running programs tweeting, and commenting on/sharing their audience’s content too! Follow them on Twitter.







The simply gorgeous mineral gallery. From a purely nerdy display perspective, this gallery is done so well! From a casual geology lover, it’s a specimen dream. Plus lots of awesome info and spots to just sit and marvel.

The range of stuff you can see! Honestly. There are vast swathes of the museum I rarely visit (mostly the European historic, Roman, Greek & Egyptian sections, because I’m exhausted on that stuff after living in London/visiting Berlin’s amazing museums). But there is always something to see, even if you only have half an hour. Dinosaurs, Indian sculpture & art, a bat cave, textiles & costuming.. honestly, there is cool stuff everywhere. Why, they even have a little Australian stuff on display.

They develop and host terrific temporary exhibitions! I’ve seen a terrific bunch of stuff in the past year – Mesopotamia, the Forbidden City, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.

Events! There’s so many, but what I’ve really enjoyed the last little while have been the Friday Night Live events – everyone loves going to the museum after dark. They get some fantastic and interesting groups, performances and whatnot in for these nights – like that time I got to 3D print a little Mesopotamian building!

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Royal Ontario Museum! I hope to enjoy at least some of the next 100 more.

A long time ago, we used to be friends.

Last year, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas took to Kickstarter to raise $2 million dollars so he could make a movie to wrap up the story of our favourite teenage detective. They exceeded that expectation & then some, raiding over $5.5 million, with almost 100,000 backers. I didn’t back the project because I wasn’t financially able to back then, but at the rate it was quickly funded, I knew I could spend my dollars in the cinema this year. And that I did! A few months ago I decided to start rewatching the series along with Adam, who’d never seen it. We got through season 1, and then Parks & Recreation took over our viewing lives – oops! So we did the highlights of season 2, and then got about halfway through season 3. (It didn’t end up affecting Adam’s viewing of the movie too much). So come last Thursday, I was pretty excited to get to the cinema and see what Veronica and her Scoobies (see what I did there?) had been up to. 

So far, the ratings have been pretty decent. You can read some reviews here to compare to mine, which is more of a personal reactions/thoughts compilation and entirely biased by me being a huge fan of the show. Here’s a good one at Wired,  and a couple at the Mary Sue – one from a newbie, and one from a fan. [Edited to add an excellent review from Linda Holmes at NPR that covers many issues I have.] Naturally all have spoilers. Which reminds me –

In case you haven’t seen the movie and care about these sorts of things, I will be talking about spoilers below, so don’t scroll beyond the pretty picture! You’ve been warned.

9 years after we left her in California, Veronica Mars is finishing up her law degree in NYC, about to take the bar. She’s got some fancy career prospects on the line, and lives with her boyfriend Piz who’s now working for NPR. Peachy keen and hunky dory! Then her stupid butt ex-boyfriend Logan gets accused of murder (again.. yep!) and she’s drawn back to Neptune to initially “help him find a good lawyer” but instead ends up slipping into those old comfortable PI shoes (to go with the comfy nostalgic purse we see reappear) and staying longer and longer to help Logan, disappointing Piz to the point of him breaking up with her (not to mention blowing a job offer in a huge way). This was one of the big disappointments of the movie for me – not that I can’t buy Veronica is obsessed with the investigating, and to another extent Logan, but that Piz really got the raw end of the deal with losing the woman he loves – and her not seeming too heartbroken over it, honestly. That’s a bummer. But I guess I’m just “Team Piz” and not “Team Obligatory Psychotic Jackass” 😉 Beyond this, I’m Team Veronica – and although she admits that the life of a PI is obsessive and she’s an addict, I think a lot of her decision to eventually stay in Neptune was also due to her reconnecting with Logan. I wish it’d been a decision without involving either Piz or Logan, but then where would the romantic drama be, eh?

Beyond this, I really enjoyed the movie. It was a great old-school mystery with many layers, as VMars plotlines have always tended to be – and Veronica latches on, gets in deep and won’t stop until she reaches the conclusion. Of course, it’s complicated because Logan has been implicated in the murder of his girlfriend. That guy just trails tragedy ’round, eh? Helpfully, this coincides with the Neptune High 10 year reunion! Lots of familiar faces all around. This is where a lot of nostalgia (and a heaping of fan service) comes in – it’s basically watching a bumper episode of VMars rather than a movie that stands on its own. I kept thinking about how the tv series & movie relate to each other and how a VMars newbie might interact with the movie & its tone (knowledge of the characters being implicit to understanding their relevance of appearing). It reminds me a lot of how Serenity followed Firefly – and how so many people saw & loved Serenity as its own thing, and then sought out Firefly to watch afterward.

As a low-ish budget movie, this did feel like TV made big rather than cinema. But that didn’t lessen my enjoyment in the least. At every appearance of a familiar face, no matter how little their role, I felt joy and connection to the story of old and the one I was currently watching. I loved seeing where Wallace & Mac were at, and that they are still so close to Veronica – Wallace’s reactions to Veronica asking for help were priceless. It was amazing how Dick is the same person, and was hilarious comic relief (along with James Franco’s terrific cameo). When Veronica visits Leo, my head just about burst with how awesome their interaction was (Leo’s SASS!!). Madison Sinclair getting her stupid face punched. Veronica schooling Cliff on law! Principal Van Clemmons, bless his face. There were a lot of HOLY SHIT moments, like Deputy Sacks 😦 And WEEVIL 😦 😦 The shock of Keith being only just pulled out of the car accident. Gia being shot. Oh my gosh. I’m also still trying to get over the weirdness of Logan in that uniform..

I really loved the little throwaway mention from Leo that he thought Veronica had joined the FBI – definitely fan service there, considering the context – this ‘trailer’ for Season 4 of Veronica Mars, the ‘FBI years’, which of course was never realised due to the show being cancelled. In another life, indeed.

Veronica’s sarcasm and fierce personality were still on fire here, despite coming 9 years on from when we saw her last – I appreciated that. I appreciate that she admits she’s flawed but she just wants to do what is right. I think that if she’s working with her Dad again – and maybe Mac?! – with the benefit of some life experience and amazing law school education, she’s gonna be brilliant. I suppose we’ll see.  The movie gives an overall sense of foreboding as far as the feeling of Neptune – cops planting evidence, lots of corruption, rich kids still in a position to get away with shit. This didn’t wrap up neatly – I can see they’re maybe angling for a follow up movie to deal with the corruption in the Sherriff’s office, considering Weevil’s bad turn at the end. As damaging as it might be for her personally, Veronica’s choice to stay in Neptune at Mars Investigations will likely be better for Neptune overall. (And maybe, just maybe.. we can get a sense of how Duncan’s doing with his daughter Lilly? There’s got to be a way he and Veronica have kept in touch.. )

I am really itching to rewatch this as soon as possible, to relish in the details, as well as finish up season 3!

Things I Love Thursday Time!

Well, with the stupidly weird “10c one day, -17c the next” sort of business the weather is pulling here, it’s hard to be happy about much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cold weather – it’s just the flip flopping it keeps doing that is disheartening! However, there are always some shiny things to be happy about despite that – and even if it takes a little effort to think of them, it’s really worth it.

  • Even though it was super brisk this morning, Adam & Jake walked me to work. It’s so much nicer than trudging in on my own!
  • Tonight Adam and I are going to see the Veronica Mars movie! We failed utterly in getting the rewatch (or first time around watch for Adam) done, but we did the highlights of season 2 and have watched about 1/3 of season 3. I am super excited to see the movie, much more than I realised!
  • I’ve been having a good social media week. Lots of good discussion, interaction and generally lovely people. Which I don’t feel happens much for me now on Twitter.
  • Getting excited to attend some of the Gathering of Friends game con next month – I can’t be there as much as last year, so I’ll have to squeeze in lots of fun and games for the weekends I do go.
  • Hosting game nights, or taking games to friends’ places for gatherings. It’s been a very gamey couple of weeks for us! I love it.
  • QUIZ UP!! This trivia app is now available on Android, and I can’t stop playing it! There are so many categories it’s hard to stop swinging about them all, but I’ve been really enjoying the Parks & Rec category, and actually kicking butt in both the Canada and Australia categories! Woo! I urge you to give it a go if you have a compatible device.
    Quiz Up banner - Android is Here! Four coloured Android logos.





And after the last couple of quite busy weeks/weekends of social gatherings and whatnot, I love that this weekend I actually have nothing planned. Oh my gosh introvert fuel cells, we’ll fill you up by golly. Enjoy your weekends, folks!

Welcome to this week’s Digital Dozen

I want you to look closely at this GIF and notice the amazingness going on. A little kid is running back and forth playing Space Invaders. Imagine fitness classes that incorporated this for cardio. Hell yeah.

A 3 year old decided to get her hair cut and donate it to the Canadian Cancer Society. This kid is so much better than so many of us grown-ups.

I’m feeling a bit badly drawn dolphin today. You?

Back in 2004 these people attempted a world record for the largest game of Carcassonne ever. MADNESS. LOOK AT IT. Over 5000 tiles. I am having shivers imagining the breakdown of that once they were done.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a wonderfully wacky kind of guy. The kind of guy that recreates the ‘David After Dentist’ YouTube video perfectly. Amaze.

How can I somehow adopt this guy as my Dad for long enough that he’ll paint a badass Doctor Who/Adventure Time mashup mural in MY room? His art site is here.

The feminism I believe in says “Hey girl – have the whole pie.” Yep. Read the first panel below, and find the rest here.

This time lapse of Aurora Borealis is just stunning. I want to see the lights so bad! Oh man.

This ‘Femme Fatale Ring Gun‘ is pretty badass, right? I gotta hand it to whoever dreamt this up in the 1870s.

This Seinfeld parody in a Mario theme is surprisingly chuckle-worthy! I think they hit the tone so well, and I love their Mario-fied Seinfeld theme song.

Placeholder text gone wrong. Oops.. I guess you shouldn’t trust people to notice the big mistakes, eh? There are many more than this example, click through to see & laugh!

Herey herey here

Let’s end on the adorable: tiny, adventurous Lego photographer. Perfection.

#BoardGameHour on Twitter – connecting with board gamers for discussion!

Board Game Hour profile pic

For the last month or so I’ve been sporadically taking part in the #BoardGameHour discussions on Twitter, run by (naturally) @BoardGameHour. For an hour at 7pm GMT each Monday, folks discuss a topic and tag it #BoardGameHour – the person running it (whose name I actually don’t know, unfortunately) will do a lot of replying and retweeting so much of it pops up in your news feed as you follow along and take part. Each week’s discussion topic is sort of voted on in the lead up to each Monday – two topics are thrown out and voted on by hashtags, so it’s kinda neat that we’re having that sort of feedback each week.

Since I stopped being the social media guru at one of the board game cafes here in Toronto, I’ve tried to engage myself more personally on social media with fellow board gamers. I follow a few accounts on Tumblr, post a lot of board game photos to Instagram, take part in some of the forums on Board Game Geek – but I find that Twitter has been a great place to find gamer enthusiasts who are also into the interactions on social media in general. So the #BoardGameHour chat has been such a great thing to take part in to extend those conversations and connections. (I’m hoping to start blogging more about board games, contribute to other sites/blogs and hopefully report a little better on social media platforms at the Gathering of Friends this year!).

It looks like they’re starting to use a service called Nurph to run the chat each week if you would rather not try and follow along on Twitter (I know due to the timing – 3pm in my timezone right now – I often miss a lot, so it’ll be nice to have it separated out!). This week’s topic will be “online vs brick & mortar stores vs KS. Places for great deals, challenges for different counties and more” – so keep an eye out on Twitter or RSVP on the Nurph chat to take part in the discussion. I hope you’ll be there!

Travel Throwback: Scotland

When I was living in London (England), I spent a pretty decent amount of time travelling about the United Kingdom (more than continental Europe, really). Although most of my trips to Scotland centered around Glasgow & Edinburgh, there were times where I got to see the proper scope of Scotland and its landscape, and it was terrific. For some reason I had cause to go browsing through my travel photos from those visits and thought it would be nice to share a few. (You can browse through the sets here, here and here also.) Scotland has so much going on, it was terrific to see outside of the cities too. It was overall my favourite place within the UK that I spent time in other than London (probably the most time I spent in the UK outside of London, too!). Next time I get back over the pond I’m going to make time to get back up there!

Just look at that countryside.

The Loanhead of Daviot stone circle

Aberlour Cemetery, where some of my ancestors lay.


The River Spey; lots of scotch distilled in this area.

The Necropolis in Glasgow

Loch Ness

The Kelvingrove Museum

Beach at Nairn


The view from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

Willow Chinese Tea Rooms, Mackintosh design.


International Women’s Day 2014

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), recognized in.. well, I suppose not all places, but enough to make it “International”. But just because it’s not recognized everywhere doesn’t mean that the issues highlighted by IWD aren’t universal. Today’s Google Doodle does a pretty nice job in showing us a wide range of women, it’s heartening. It helps remind me that though I am in a privileged position as a white cis-het female, there are dozens and hundreds of women for each person like me who are not fortunate. Who face daily struggles, who don’t have the rights and safety I do. Or women just like me who are told they should be raped for having an opinion on something that doesn’t align with the male perspective; women like me who are shot down in their homes and in their circles of friends and in their workplaces for who they are. Women everywhere face this daily and more.

This year’s IWD theme is Inspiring Change. Change still needs to happen. Change can happen with your help. From their site: “Women’s equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme for our global hub and encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.”

As women, trans-women, trans-men, men, children, elderly… all of us can afford to take the time each day to try and counter the shitty stuff that happens in the world. Educate everyone about violence towards women and we’ll all be better for it. Educate children to grow up into a world where biases are lessening and we’ll all be better off for it. Bring equality to rights for all people, and we’ll all be better for it – women deserve to have a say over their lives and bodies, rather than being told what to do. Act with kindness every day to everyone in your life, women or not, and we’ll all be better for it. It goes on. There is such a thing as IWD because women have long been systemically held back/attacked/made out to be lesser people. Make every day IWD and this will change.

I’m proud to be able to recognize my privilege, to speak out as a feminist about many things that encroach on women’s rights as human rights. I am happy to try my best to be an agent of change and work towards a time (that I recognize might not be in my lifetime) where women have equality and rights and do not fear systemic and institutionalized violence or other kinds of abuse.

If you are about to say something like “well, I’m a women and things aren’t so bad for me” or “why isn’t there an International Men’s Day” or something along these lines, stop it. Stop talking and start thinking about the implications of how narrowly you are looking at the world and how harmful that can be when an open mind and change is needed.

I will leave you with a sentiment from the IWD website that I feel is a nice way to wrap this up. (And there are a number of fantastic video resources to watch here, too!)

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.