Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I finally finished one Bernat Blanket Stripes cake! I am going to move onto cake number two for my afghan ripple blanket. I don’t really know yet who this blanket will be for. My mom keeps asking me and I can’t make up my mind. I am pretty happy that I am making progress on this blanket. I might need three cakes for this though and not the two that I have.

Unfortunately, my progress on the Moon Blossom afghan square is not going as well. I decided that I will frog the entire thing because I missed a petal. Usually when I make a mistake, I can power through it without too much of a difference in the final product however a whole missing petal would have changed it drastically. So, I frogged it. Here it is before it was frogged. Sometimes you just have to make the tough decisions.

Crochet · Knitting · Life

STASH Lounge Moving and Other Outings

Yesterday STASH Lounge opened up at their new location across the street. I dragged my brother along with me to the opening.

It was absolutely lovely! They had a DJ play some music in the background, a coffee bar, and a table of yummy sweets in the back. They even had door prizes, which I suspect I didn’t win anything from but that’s totally okay.

In terms of the space, it’s great! It’s absolutely spacious while also filled to the brim with yarn. I enjoyed the rustic decorations like the vintage crates and items like typewriters. There are shelves upon shelves of yarn. Near the register there is a wall dedicated to various knitting and crochet accessories. There’s another wall where yarn is hung on, absolutely covering the entire space. It was incredibly cozy and it still retained it’s intimate feel as their previous location.

At first I was going in there thinking I wouldn’t buy anything but then I decided that it would be rude not to! After much contemplation and running through the patterns I want to try in my mind, I decided on two skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Barn Owl. This was after eating a couple of macaroons and cookies while walking through the crowded store. These two skeins will make my very first knitted hat!

With my purchase, I even got a free reusable bag! It’s so sturdy and pretty. I think it will be a project bag or a maybe a library bag. We’ll see.

That day I also went to the park with some relatives. I finally gave the blanket I made for my cousin’s newborn son and my cousin was head over heels over it! She said it was like store quality which made me blush a little. I am very pleased that she was happy with it.

I also biked around Fish Creek park for two hours with my dad. We decided to take a different route than we usually do. It was a really nice bike ride although maybe a little bit too hot! We even stopped for ice cream at Annie’s. I’ve never been before but it’s a sweet little cafe just off the bike path. The ice cream scoops are huge! I definitely got my money’s worth from it.

Annie's does not skimp on the ice cream! Eating back all the calories I burnt from biking lmao

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All in all, yesterday was a very good day!

Crochet · Life

First Time Crocheting on a Road Trip

Over the weekend I went to Drumheller with the family. Up to this point I haven’t had a chance to go on a long road trip with my crochet. I started this ripple afghan a couple of days ago with Bernat Blanket Stripes yarn. This blanket is intended for my cousins’s newborn son. I guess he isn’t quite so newborn now but every baby could use a blanket regardless! I actually restarted this blanket once or twice but I finally got the hang of it while on this trip.

The drive to Drumheller from Calgary isn’t completely long, just under two hours, but I managed to get a decent amount of rows done. It was a very relaxing and productive way to spend my time other than just sleeping. I have to admit, there were times when I felt sleepy enough to pass out but I kept through with it! It didn’t help that it was lightly raining at one point as well. But I plugged in my headphones and played a little bit of The Strokes and some Utada to keep me awake.


Stampede Food

Honestly, Stampede is synonymous with food for me. Stampede means free breakfasts for a week. Usually these breakfasts consists of pancakes and sausages. We ended up going to six of these breakfasts. Some of them were worth it, some of them weren’t. One of them actually ended up being $250 because my brother got fined for forgetting to validate his train ticket on the way to a breakfast. But still, a lot of pancakey goodness!

Since I was babysitting my cousin, we didn’t go to any stampede breakfasts since they required some travel. Instead, I cooked them up homemade stampede breakfast! Basically just Eggo waffles, bacon, and eggs. Instead of maple syrup, I just made some strawberry sugar spread.


Okay I thought I didn’t want to go to the Stampede this year but I did end up going with my cousin, brother, and mom. We just went for two hours. We ate a lot of food and bought home lottery tickets.

The different foods we tried were:

Reuben Corndogs
I didn’t take any pictures but this was a bit of a disappointment. A hotdog wrapped in one slice of Swiss cheese then covered with corn flour. I was hoping for more cheese but it under-delivered.

Fried Cheese Sticks
Oh. My. Goodness. I fell in love with these sticks. I cannot resist anything deep fried. All this cheese definitely made up for the lack of cheese in the corndogs. We bought cheddar and mozzarella sticks. The cheddar was full of flavour and very sharp. However the mozzarella was full of gooey goodness and was a lot more fried. I loved them both!

cheese sticks

Deep Fried Cheesecake
I am a cheesecake lover. I have said this for years but cheesecake is the way to my heart. Deep fried cheesecake wasn’t on my radar until my brother pointed it out and I knew immediately that I had to try it. It was pretty yummy but basically a cheesecake wrapped in a pastry and then fried. It fell a little short of my expectations but was still super yummy!

deep fried cheesecake

Until next year, maybe, Stampede. I will miss you and your glorious food!


Book Review: God in Pink by Hasan Namir

Disclaimer: Topics of sexuality, religion, and spoilers for the book is mentioned in this blog post.

A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. Ammar is a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks, and whose tolerance is tested by his belief in the teachings of the Qur’an. Full of quiet moments of beauty and raw depictions of violence, God in Pink poignantly captures the anguish and the fortitude of Islamic life in Iraq.

With a lot of things going on nowadays in Iraq and surrounding countries, I find myself becoming a little more interested in the lives of a typical Muslim. I understand that being queer and Muslim isn’t exactly “typical” but it was a topic I’m drawn to being queer and somewhat religious myself. Namir takes a very different take on this scenario than from what I expected. This little novel takes on the perspectives of Ramy, a gay man wanting to find a way through being gay in Muslim society, and Sheikh Ammar is a preacher who does not not to even entertain the idea of homosexuality.

Although in his mid-twenties, Ramy seems to me like a young teenager. He is full of passion, extremely rash, idealistic, but also a little hesitant to fully break free. He falls for men somewhat fast and extremely hard. Although he longs for freedom, he sees around him in the closeted gay community full of hypocrisy and tragedy. His family keeps pushing for marriage not just because it’s expected but because on some level, they know Ramy is gay and they want to either help him keep it a secret or to convince themselves that he’s actually straight and not gay. While his whirlwind and bloody romances are expected, what’s not so expected is the supernatural twist Namir puts to this tale.

Sheikh Ammar begins to have hallucinations of a pink cherub, Angel Gabriel, and a woman donned in a Burqa, Abaddon. They act as opposite sides of his conscious. Angel Gabriel is gay and encourages Ammar to accept Ramy in all of his glorious gayness whereas Abaddon points out the Islamic teachings that say otherwise. This supernatural twist was something that seemed almost left field for me. I did not expect it. I can’t say for sure if I like it or not. I feel like I wouldn’t be missing out on much if Ammar’s storyline was cut out completely. I do like the turn Namir takes with Ammar however. In the end, Ammar turns to cross dressing and pretty much renounces his religion completely.

Overall, it seemed a bit of a rollercoaster going from one storyline to another. The moments when they intersected were disappointing. Both main characters had their moments of ridiculousness for me. What disappointed me the most was how little of Ramy’s life after marriage panned out. I’m not disappointed that the marriage happened because it is realistic, I could totally see it happening. But Namir got me invested in Jameela and I felt a twinge of sympathy for her marrying a man who could not love her as fully as a man who was interested in women was.

Somehow though, I liked it. It was quirky and a little fun. It wasn’t as serious as I thought it would be but I think adding the tinge of dreamy-like aspects made it a more enjoyable read.

Crochet · Programming

Starting a Nanodegree at Udacity

While I’m still looking for a job this summer (which is almost halfway over already… Blah!) I took a cue from Y who started to work on some side projects and I decided to be a little more productive. Since I have a free month of Udacity from the GitHub Student Pack. Udacity is basically an online learning hub where you can take courses that are related to the tech field.

Since I am an aspiring full stack web developer, I decided to go with the appropriately named, “Full Stack Developer” Nanodegree. I am probably around 20% completed the degree and it’s been pretty much a week since I started.

So far I have done some basic Python programming and responsive web development. I didn’t learn much with the Python programming part because it was all very basic and I’ve done a lot of Python programming. Basically I made a movie trailer website that is composed of static web pages generated with Python. The web pages are composed of movie trailers that are pulled from The Movie DB using their API. You can check out an example here or take a look at it on GitHub.

Right now I’m working on a responsive web design. It’s taking a little bit more time because I’ve been busy the past couple of days. I had my first counselling appointment with a new counsellor, went to some Stampede breakfasts, and hung out with family and Y. But I think I’m pretty much done it all except for making sure everything complies with Udacity’s style guides. I keep tripping up on them wanting being lowercase instead. It’s hard to break old habits.

One thing I really like about their format is that there are a lot of videos. That way I can take my time to weave in ends for my temperature blanket that I’m working on. July is turning out to be a rollercoaster for weather. I had my first solid colour square the other day. It was pretty rainy on that day which explains why it was so much cooler. Now the rain spell has mostly ended and we’re back to low 30s weather. I don’t know which I prefer the most…

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FO #6: My Second Granny Square

FO means “finished object” in crochet and knitter terms. So any completed project is a finished object!

After making my first granny square, I quickly made my second granny square. Both were made from Loop & Threads yarn of the wool variety. I can’t remember the exact name of the yarn.

I am not quite sure about the colour choices but they were the colours I had on hand of the same yarn. It is better than my previous one in that it uses more than two colours. I have been crocheting for a couple of months now but I am still intimidated with colour changes. Eventually I want to work my way into making a really pretty piece with different colours that all fit together!


Winding Yarn Multitasking

Since I recently started making a temperature blanket. I bought a couple of skeins of yarn (Bernat Premium, they are so soft!) and decided to wind them into balls to make transporting them easier for when/if I’m on the go. Surprisingly, it takes a while for them to wind up. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to watch some TV shows while doing it.

I decided to finish up watching season 2 of Knights of Sidonia, an anime about a human space colony at war with alien-like creatures. I did get distracted midway through watching. I never did crochet or knit from the center of the skein so I decided to wind from the center. The perfect center pull hole in the middle of the skein was glorious to look at!

By the time I finished winding, I had finished Knights of Sidonia and then went on to watching The Man in the High Castle. I didn’t get to finish all of that series in that winding session, unfortunately. But I do really enjoy being able to kill two birds with one stone. There were some moments when I paid attention to one thing more than the other but true multitasking is impossible.


When Spam Isn’t Just Annoying

The past couple of weeks I noticed that the MySQL service on my server would routinely stop out of the blue. At first I suspected that it was because my 512MB RAM wasn’t enough but when I looked at the usage history, I never peaked more than 9%. I even tried reinstalling the MySQL server which worked at first but then it stopped running again.

However, I think the problem was due to bots trying to log into my WordPress dashboard. One thread I was reading suggested xmlrpc attacks were bringing WordPress down. When I looked at my logs, there was a dozen of attempted logins.

There are multiple solutions for this, mainly blocling xmlrpc but since I use third party apps that rely on xmlrpc, I didn’t want to block it entirely. Jetpack was another solution which is what I eventually opted for.

I’ve been wary of installing Jetpack, mostly due to the fact my server is not that great and I was worried about space and memory consumption. However, it does have a feature to block malicious xmlrpc login attempts that I desparately needed.

It’s only been two days now (as of writing this) and I already see that Jetpack has blocked over 25 login attempts. Now this doesn’t protect me from other attacks and on other sites on this server but at leaat I have that out of the way.

Crochet · Life

Day Out in Pre-Stampede Rush

I went to the first pancake breakfast of the season with my family the other day. It was close to home which was a great bonus because my dad had the car for work. The breakfast wasn’t busy at all but maybe being fairly early was a factor. They only served pancakes and sausage patties but they were pretty good! There was also a Tim Hortons truck giving out free coffee and hot chocolate. I’m not one for straight up coffee (my favourite is French Vanillas) so I just opted for some hot chocolate.

After that I went to the library to return a library book and just sat and wound some yarn for a bit while looking at craft magazines. Since there was a Michaels nearby, I couldn’t resist using my coupon for some hooks, stitch markers, and pins. All which I desperately needed. Who knew stitch markers could get so lost easily…? ALSO, libraries have magazines which is so cool! I was debating subscribing to some crochet, knitting, or general craft magazines but now I definitely won’t (sorry, magazines).

Then my brother and I went to Tim Horton’s for some lunch and I headed over to Y’s! While there I got to finish my July afghan square which was pretty relieving. I didn’t follow it to a tee but I made do with what I made. Expect a post on this square eventually!

We ended up going to the local museum as they offer free nights every first Thursday of the month. I regret not taking a lot of pictures but I did take pictures of my favourite pieces. All mineral related. I have a soft spot for rocks because when I was younger, I had a geology phase and would look at minerals literally all day. The ones they had on display were extremely gorgeous.

Above is a picture of a fossilized ammonite!

This is just plain old quartz but I fell in love with the colour!

What surprised me the most was the silver because I never imagines silver to look so dark! I also enjoyed the carvings made out of the rocks. The skill required to make some of them blows my mind.

There were other exhibitions, mostly pertaining to historical artifacts. A lot of weapons, clothing, models, masks, etc. My second favourite exhibit is the one of the old fashioned trains that would travel across the country. I really fantasize about sleeping on a bed on a train. It just looked so cozy. One of these days!

Overall, I had a pretty good day. The heat wave just started and Stampede is about to begin so I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy an outing until all that is over.