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Exploring Toronto’s Coffee

Fahrenheit Coffee

Anyone who knows me knows I love coffee. Making and enjoying coffee has been a vital part of my mornings (and 75% of my afternoons) since college. Perhaps that’s natural considering I hail from a city that prefers espresso to water. At any rate, I do thank God often for the simple pleasures of a good cup of coffee and the time to enjoy it.

While I don’t mind the occasional Starbucks (it tastes like home for me, maybe in the way that Tim Horton’s does for Canadians), I try to support local indie coffeehouses. It’s a fun way to get (usually) better coffee and to explore both familiar and unfamiliar cities.

When I left Toronto in 2007, indie coffeehouses were just starting to pop up. Now they are fairly plentiful; some are excellent. Admittedly, the quality has been a pleasant surprise.

In the interest of helping people find good local coffee (and because I am sort of nerdy), I’ve started a Google map / journal of the places I’ve tried with to update the map as the caffeine exploration continues. If you have recommendations, please let me know!

(Open map in new window)

A few notes:

  • The first time at a cafe I almost always order an Americano (hot) for baseline comparison.
  • I tend to prefer dark-roasted but strong coffee. I’m not a fan of acidic brews.
  • Greens are favorites, reds have been visited, yellows are on my list to try.
  • Click on markers for notes.

(Image: a pre-church Americano at Fahrenheit; original image)

August 6, 2014   No Comments

Half-versaries and Home


This weekend marks a couple mini-milestones: half-versaries for marriage and moving (back) to Canada.

A lot has happened in the past six months — the macro things being moving, buying a home, filing immigration papers, moving again. Combined with the micro differences (Living with a new person! Name change! No car! No pennies! Metric system!), it’s been adventurous times.

One of the biggest struggles I faced during the entire “getting married” process was the idea of leaving home. Even though Canada is where I spent my college years, I always figured I’d end up back in the Northwest with my family, water, trees, mountains — all the things I grew up knowing and loving.

Not being “home” is still my biggest struggle. Even though Canada and its people have been more than welcoming, I’m often aware of my non-Canadian-ness. Even as I acclimate more and more, that will never completely change. I’ll always be from Seattle, say “zee” instead of “zed” and think that “garburetor” is a ridiculous word. That’s ok — I’m proud to be an American. But that does mean homesickness will be a part of life — less acutely, but still present.

There’s a weird tension, though, because I honestly do feel “home” with David. Among the few pieces of art we have in our home right now is the above letterpress print from Constellation & Co., a Seattle-based studio that also designed our wedding invitations. I got it for David the Christmas before we got married; we displayed it at our wedding, and now it sits on our kitchen counter.

We are so extremely green in marriage, but to share such a deep love, partnership, and vulnerability – to find home with another person has already been one of the greatest blessings of my life. When I consider that marriage is but a glimpse of Christ’s love for us, I am astounded.

If I had to pick one favorite C.S. Lewis quote . . . well, I can’t, but this one has recently me often:

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”

So as these half-versaries come and go, I thank God for both homesickness and marriage: the former for reminding me that Christian life on earth is a journey of hopeful homesickness; and the latter for its beautiful glimpse into what that final Home will be like.

August 1, 2014   No Comments

Lewis on Joy


All joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be.’

– From Surprised by Joy


All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.”

– From Letters of C.S. Lewis

April 29, 2013   2 Comments

Teaching to See

My boyfriend and I were recently discussing information design and data visualization (because we’re a little nerdy like that). He referred me to the site of data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte, where I happened upon the short documentary Teaching to See. This simple, thoughtful film is like having a coffee with Inge Druckrey, a longtime graphic arts professor at Yale (and Tufte’s wife). It’s about learning to observe, practice, create, and teach. As a musician, I enjoyed seeing some of her work directly related to classical music (such as the inspiration for her Beethoven poster, at left).

inge-beethovenBut also fascinating was how some of her visual design concepts paralleled ones I heard during my musical education. In one segment, she explains how what is mathematically equally spaced on a page is not necessarily optically spaced on a page. In other words, the human eye perceives differently from a ruler, and the graphic artist has to make adjustments for this. I remember one of my teachers constantly saying the same thing about the space between notes. Often what is metronomically perfectly in time sounds “off” to the human ear. That was part of her teaching me to listen in the same way Inge Druckrey was teaching her students to see.

April 22, 2013   No Comments

Fast(ish) No-Knead Bread


The other week at the library, I stumbled upon Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. I’ve occasionally thought of getting into bread baking, but it always seemed too finicky and time consuming. We also have a couple of bread failure stories in the family, so I wasn’t in a rush to add to the heritage.

But after flipping through the pages and pictures, I decided to give it a whirl. The first attempt, Pizza Napoletana, was pretty easy and turned out a delicious focaccia. It gave me hope that maybe bread baking wasn’t quite as intimidating as I imagined.

However, that bread took a loooooong time (as do most of the recipes in the book). Like a whole day of planning ahead. It was delicious and a great weekend project, but I wanted to find something faster. And still easy.

A quick internet search turned up this NY Times article from Mark Bittman on a fast no-knead bread, based on a now-famous method by NY baker Jim Lahey. I didn’t have all the exact ingredients (namely, a dutch oven and instant yeast), so I made a few tweaks with help from the internet. One day I’ll try the original recipe. But for the time being, I’m happy with this modified version! Seriously easy, and quite delicious.

Fast(ish) No-Knead Bread

(Adapted from Speedy No-Knead Bread)

2 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c. very warm water
Cooking spray / olive oil
Baking stone
Large oven safe bowl
Wheat bran / cornmeal / extra flour


  1. Combine water, vinegar, and yeast.
  2. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a medium bowl (lightly oil it for easier removal later).
  3. Add water mixture to flour mixture. Gently stir to combine, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Dough will be shaggy.
  4. bread1

  5. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 3-4 hours in a warm place. (I put mine in the oven, preheated to 150°F and then turned off.)
  6. bread2

  7. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and fold once or twice. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.
  8. bread3

  9. Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the stone in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, transfer it to the stone. Make a couple cuts in the top with kitchen shears or a serrated knife.
  10. Decrease oven temperature to 425-450°F. Cover loaf with a large inverted oven-safe bowl and bake 30 minutes. Then remove the bowl and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned. Cool on a rack.


February 14, 2013   2 Comments

Come All Ye Pining

Lord, we adore thy boundless grace,
The heights and depths unknown,
Of pardon, life, and joy, and peace,
In thy beloved Son.

Come, all ye pining, hungry poor,
The Saviour’s bounty taste;
Behold a never-failing store
For every willing guest.

O wondrous gifts of love divine,
Dear Source of every good;
Jesus, in thee what glories shine!
How rich thy flowing blood!

Here shall your numerous wants receive
A free, a full supply;
He has unmeasured bliss to give,
And joys that never die.

Anne Steele, Gadsby #1039

(Retuned hymn is a track off the highly recommended album All Things New by Red Mountain Music)

January 13, 2013   1 Comment

Both profound and accessible


“Hymnologist Erik Routley once defined hymns as “songs for unmusical people to sing together . . . [and] such poetry as unliterary people can utter together.” At first, this might seem to exult in the lack of artistry. But Routley was actually writing to appreciate the remarkable skill of poets and musicians who accept the challenge to be both profound and accessible at the same time, which is a lot more difficult than simply being one or the other. While there is a kind of beauty in a carefully-honed studio recording, there is another kind of beauty -– an often remarkable and haunting beauty -– in the sound of a congregation of mostly unmusical people singing together.”

– John Witvliet, from For the Beauty of the Church

January 7, 2013   No Comments

Heyr, himna smiður (An Icelandic Hymn)

Just came across this beautiful performance by the ensemble Arstidir of an old Icelandic hymn. I don’t know how accurate this English translation is, but FWIW:

Heyr, himna smiður (Hear, Heavenly Creator)

Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
your mercy.
So I call on thee,
for you have created me.
I am thy slave,
you are my Lord.

God, I call on thee to heal me.
Remember me, mild one, (or mild king. This is a pun on the word mildingur).
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

– Kolbeinn Tumason (1173–1208)


Update – Here is Astidir performing the hymn in a train station:

December 26, 2012   No Comments

Merry Christmas.


Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

Oh, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
Sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the Long-expected;
Let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.

(Aurelius C. Prudentius, c. 413)

(Image: Adoration of the Magi, Rembrandt)

December 25, 2012   No Comments

The world can shine

“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance —- for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave -– that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.”

― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

November 22, 2012   No Comments