Thursday, September 18, 2014

Anis de Flavigny candies

Today I received a box in mail.

When I opened it, I was delighted to discover Anis de Flavigny candies inside to sample and share.  Whoohoo!

Anis de Flavigny sweets: little white pearls with an authentic, fresh and delicious flavour. First produced several hundred years ago, they weigh no more than a gram, are produced by hand, are always trendy and are enjoyed by young and old. In keeping with tradition, green aniseeds are gradually enrobed in delicately flavoured liquid sugar over the course of two weeks. This original recipe guarantees a sweet that is free from all artificial colorings, sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives and GM ingredients.

Anis de Flavigny come in seven subtle all-natural flavours, spiced or floral, to please as many of you as possible: anise, orange blossom, mint, liquorice, rose and violet. The Anis are home-made in the family owned factory of 30 people, which is in the old abbey of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. Flavigny is a village of 300 people, listed as one of the hundred prettiest villages in France (also where the movie, Chocolat, was filmed).

The tins are lovely!
I tried the mint ones right away ... yum!

  • Since 1591, Les Anis de Flavigny have been made in the Flavigny village of France using the original recipe developed by monks.
  • Each candy contains a real aniseed, which hold a warm, spicy flavour and an aromatic scent. The aniseed is gradually enrobed in delicately flavoured liquid sugar over the course of two weeks to produce the smooth pearl-like candy - a process called "dragée."
  • In addition to the charming oval tins (already available in Canada), new pocket-boxes of Les Anis de Flavigny in a variety of flavours will be available in Canada in September 2014. The new boxes pay homage to the old-fashioned rectangular boxes that Anis de Flavigny were originally packaged in hundreds of years ago. The new boxes contain the Original pea-sized candy, or the smaller rice-sized candy, Les Petits Anis®.
  • Beautiful illustrations on the packaging tell an evolving love story of a shepherd and shepherdess. Sharing a candy that holds an aniseed has traditionally been a symbol of love, happiness and fertility. 
  • The factory has been owned and operated by the Troubat family since 1923 and continues to operate on the traditions of the abbey’s monks.

You should check them out ... they'd make great gifts!  You can find them here ...


British Columbia

Luxe Box - fall

My fall Luxe Box arrived today.

Sign up to receive 7 to 8 trial sized beauty and lifestyle discoveries every season.

The cost is about $27 a month.

Here's what was inside ...

The blush is crushed, not usable and leaking
from the package :(

Total value = $68.54

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book ~ "Toronto Sketches 7: The Way We Were" (2003) Mike Filey

From Goodreads ~ Mike Filey is back again with another installment in the popular Toronto Sketches series. Mike's nostalgic look at the city's past combines legend, personal anecdotes, and photographs to chronicle the life of an ever-changing city.

Among the stories in this volume, Mike looks back to the introduction of the "horseless carriage." He laments the loss of great movie houses of the past - the University, Shea's Hippodrome, the Tivoli - and applauds those looking to save the Eglinton Theatre, and he tells the history of the King Edward Hotel as it enters its 100th year.

"Toronto Sketches 7" is a valuable addition to the collection of any fan of Toronto history.

Mike Filey had a column in the Toronto Sun for about 30 years and I read it for many years (I like learning about the history of Toronto) ... this book is a compilation of some of his columns.

In this book, we learn about the roundhouse (Steam Whistle Brewing is there now is), the Pier (once a museum, now Amsterdam Brewhouse), Hotel Spadina (a backpackers hostel which recently was closed down and sold), Mount Pleasant Cemetery, old City Hall, how Harvey's got its name, and more.

There was an interesting story about the smallest house in Toronto.  It's at 128 Day Avenue (in the Rogers Road/Dufferin Street area).  It was built in 1912 by contractor Arthur Weeden and is only about 7′ wide, 47′ deep, with a total of less than 300 square feet of living space inside.

During the street's development, Lot 128 was conceived as a laneway for the neighbouring home. The curb was never cut by the City to allow vehicular passage from the street. Observing this, Arthur decided that "in order to use the land, I would build on it" (Weeden, Toronto Sun Telegram, 1939). After completing the laneway house, he and his wife lived in it for 20 years. After his wife passed away, Mr. Weeden, 77 years of age at the time of the Sun Telegram article, lived in the house for 6 more years, during which time he tended to the vegetable garden in the rear of the house, growing tomatoes, cabbages, Swiss chard, rhubarb and some flowers.

Here it is with Weeden sitting on the porch in 1939:

Here it is today.

In 2010, it was on the market and the owners asked $180,000.

Even though the book was published in 2003, it was still an interesting book because it dealt with many historical events in Toronto. If you live in Toronto or are from Toronto, you should check it out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities", Cirque du Soleil, Toronto, ON

Cirque du Soleil is in town with their production, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities.

Reality is Relative 

What if you could alter reality at will? Delve into a world of curiosity where seeing is disbelieving: the world of KURIOS™ – Cabinet of Curiosities from Cirque du Soleil®. The show immerses you in a mysterious and fascinating realm that disorients your senses and challenges your perceptions, leaving you to wonder: "Is it real, or just a figment of my imagination?" 

Step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Suddenly, the visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed, and the world is literally turned upside down in a place that’s as beautiful as it is mysterious. 

KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is an ingenious blend of unusual curiosity acts and stunning acrobatic prowess from Cirque du Soleil. Let KURIOS show you that anything is possible through the power of imagination.

The company I work for bought a bunch of tickets for tonight's performance and invited clients and companies we do business with.  I've never been to see Cirque before and got to go.  Yay!  I've heard it's awesome so I was looking forward to it.  The Toronto Star had given it 4/4 stars.

We had a reception before the show with cocktails and appetizers and there was a photographer taking pictures.  Here are me and Baljeet, my colleague (she and I met in the parking lot and came in together).

I had no idea what the story was about but that didn't matter ... the show was amazing.  There is a large cast and there is always something going on.  I didn't know what to expect and don't want to give anything away but there is lots of acrobatics, balancing, singing (the female singer, Eirini Tornesaki, has a great voice), clapping, laughs and more.

If you get a chance, you should check it out.  I'd gotten tickets for Gord and I to go in October and I'm glad I did because it's a great show and I'll be able to see all I miss tonight (as I said, there's always something going on).

Topbox - September

My September Topbox arrived today.

For only $12 a month, you will receive a Topbox with 4 carefully selected, indulgent, beauty products. Then test the products in the comfort of your own home.

Here's what was in it ...

Total value = $30.30

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book ~ "The Essential Guide to Home Herbal Remedies: Easy Recipes Using Medicinal Herbs to Treat More Than 125 Conditions from Sunburns to Sore Throats" (2014) Melanie Wenzel

From  Goodreads ~ More and more people are returning to the centuries-old tradition of herbal medicine.

Nature still provides just as many effective remedies today as in times gone by - quite effective against all sorts of diseases and conditions as well as the unpleasant side effects of modern life, such as stress, exhaustion, and listlessness.

New science has acknowledged the positive properties of many medicinal herbs. This growing interest in medicinal herbs is accompanied by the desire to make simple preparations at home that benefit and address the common conditions and ailments of both men and women. When concerns affect children and teenagers, parents can offer onion packs if their offspring complain of painful ears, because they recognize that many of their grandmother's home cures are exactly that, cures. In fact, all age groups can and do benefit from nature's healing powers without a lot of effort. Throughout this wonderfully comprehensive book the easiest methods and the most popular applications for natural remedies are provided in detail. In the large recipe section there is a suitable recipe for almost any complaint.

Recent studies from Europe show that nearly half the population are convinced that herbal remedies work and trust in nature's healing powers. This trend is clearly mirrored here in North America. With this outstanding resource guide dozens and dozens of useful and prescriptive home herbal remedies can be easily created.

Rather than popping pills, I would rather mix up something naturally when we're sick or there is something that needs fixing (can't sleep, etc.).  That's why I like books like this.

The author lives in Germany where she practices classical homeopathy.  She regularly appears as an expert on TV and radio.

This book covers a lot and is made up of these sections:
  • The green pharmacy - a brief history of herbal medicine, how to use teas, tinctures, oil infusions, healing vinegars, inhalations, compresses and poultices, herbal baths, and aromatherapy, and more
  • Babies and children - earaches, head colds, insect stings, sunburns, and more
  • All grown up - lack of concentration, burns, strains, sore throats, muscular strains, and more
  • Coughs, sneezes and sore throats
  • Stress, go away!
  • What a pain! - nervous stomach, hangovers, and more
  • Women's issues
  • Baby on the way
  • Men's issues
  • The golden age - improving memory, aching joints, headaches, and more
  • Everything else you might need - mouthwash, cold sores, and more
  • The most important medicinal plants - plant portraits from A - Z

Here's an easy example.  If you have a headache or migraine, rub some lavender essential oil on your temples or on the inside of your wrists.  I use lavender essential oil when I'm having trouble sleeping.

It's a colourful and pretty book.  There are lots of pictures ... step-by-step pictures during the making of the remedies and pictures of the various medicinal plans.  It's a handy book whether you are a beginner or a pro.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book ~ "Hello Love" (2014) Karen McQuestion

From Goodreads ~ A year after the death of his wife, Christine, Dan is barely holding on. But one thing gets him through the long, lonely nights and that is his cherished dog, Anni. When she is stolen from his front yard, Dan and his daughter, Lindsay, are devastated. Meanwhile in another part of town, Andrea Keller is recovering from the heartbreak of a messy divorce. After she rescues a defenseless dog from an abusive tenant, her life changes in ways she never could have anticipated. 

Dan and Andrea cross paths again and again, only to keep missing each other and the opportunity of a lifetime. As Anni works to find her way home, can she bring together these two lost souls desperately in need of a second chance at happiness?

Dan's wife, Christine, died last year and he and their teenage daughter, Lindsay, are still recovering.  Their dog, Anni, is a great source of comfort to them.  Anni is stolen one day and they do all they can to find her but to no avail.

Andrea is still reeling from her divorce from Marco ... he kicked her out to be with another woman.  Andrea works for a property manager and rescues a dog that is being abused in one of the apartments they manage.  She and the dog, Anni, quickly become attached and Andrea takes her everywhere.  Yes, Andrea's Anni is Dan's Anni.

Dan and Andrea have a couple chance meetings and there is a spark but circumstances never let them exchange contact information.  With interference from others and the cosmos, they start moving on with their lives.  As it turns out, they also know people in common but don't realize it.

The reason I was drawn to the book was because of the picture of the dog on the cover!  Look at that face!!

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  There are lots of coincidences of happenings and knowing the same people but I didn't find it hokey.  I liked the story and thought it was cute.  There is a bit of swearing but nothing serious and no adult situations.

I liked Andrea and Dan.  They were nice people who had had unfortunate things happen to them.  Anni was a sweetie.  Jade, Andrea's friend, was fun.  Marco was a jerk.  The supporting characters like Aunt Doreen and the neighbour, Cliff, were cute.

I look forward to reading others by this author.

Book ~ "Diary of a Pissed-Off Flight Attendant" (2014) Sydney Pearl

From Goodreads ~ A brash, funny, and downright ballsy ode to the ups and downs of life in the air. 

"Diary of a Pissed-Off Flight Attendant" is an eye opening, behind the scenes, indiscreet account based on almost two decades of aviation industry experience. Combining a unique blend of hilarious customer antics with the secrets behind the enviable lives of flight attendants and pilots, "Diary of a Pissed-Off Flight Attendant" provides an all-access pass for frequent flyers and novice travelers alike. 

Growing up, author Sydney Pearl admired her Aunt Claire's seemingly glamorous career. Then Sydney became a flight attendant and found out it was a lot less glamorous and a lot more stressful than she'd thought it would be. Whether admitting to intentionally spilling drinks on passengers, or telling the story of how she unknowingly became “the help”, Sydney Pearl takes you on a gut-busting journey into what really happens above 10,000 feet.

Sydney has been a flight attendant for about 20 years.  In this book, she tells us stories about what it's been like.

I found it to be an amusing quick read.  I imagine a lot of people look upon flight attendants as waitresses up in the air and treat them as such.  The author provides a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be a flight attendant and rants about many things including passengers who don't dress  appropriately when they travel, getting hit on by male passengers, what really happens in the cockpit, annoying colleagues, etc.

I found the author unlikeable, though.  While I appreciate sarcasm, I found her to be too much.  No doubt she's ramped it up to make the book more interesting but I would think that if she did and said half the stuff she wrote that she did, she would have been fired a long time ago.  She comes across as conceited (she describes herself as beautiful), arrogant and mean and I would have zero tolerance for her ... no doubt she wouldn't want to hang with me either since she'd probably deem me to be beneath her.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

First Annual Toronto Craft Brew Cruise, Toronto, ON

The first annual Toronto Craft Brew Cruise was this evening ... they had three cruises today (11am, 3:30pm and 8pm) and Gord and I had tickets for the 8pm one.  It was 10C/50F (colder on the water) so we'd bundled up.

It’s a celebration of craft beer! Toronto Craft Brew Cruise’s maiden voyage will have two sailings for you to choose from [the 11am one was added when the 3:30pm and 8pm ones sold out], accompanied by your favorite craft brewers. Sample some of Ontario’s best brews while taking in a scenic tour aboard the River Gambler on Lake Ontario. As one of the most anticipated events during Toronto Craft Beer Week, The Brew Cruise is designed as an opportunity for beer enthusiasts alike to sample a dozen local offerings. Your $39.95 cost of admission gets you a ticket on the River Gambler, commemorative mug and 5 sample tokens each redeemable for a 4oz sample from your choice of brewery. Additional sample tokens can be purchased on the boat for an enhanced experienced. See you onboard!!

Here's the mug for sampling.

The River Gambler was docked at Lakeshore/Parliament.

Looking west towards downtown

There were two levels on the boat. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book ~ "I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star" (2014) Judy Greer

From Goodreads ~ You know Judy Greer, right? Maybe from "The Wedding Planner", "13 Going on 30", "Carrie", "Arrested Development" or "The Descendants". Yes, you totally recognize her. And, odds are, you already feel like she’s your friend. 

In her first book of essays, "I Don’t Know What You Know Me From", Greer writes about everything you would hope to hear from your best friend: how a midnight shopping trip to Walgreens can cure all; what it’s like to wake up one day with stepchildren; and how she really feels about fans telling her that she’s prettier in person. Yes, it’s all here - from the hilarious moments to the intimate confessions. 

But Judy Greer isn’t just a regular friend - she’s a celebrity friend. Want to know which celebs she’s peed next to? Or what the Academy Awards are actually like? Or which hot actor gave her father a Harley-Davidson? Don’t worry, Greer reveals all of that, too. You’ll love her because, besides being laugh-out-loud funny, she makes us genuinely feel like she’s one of us. Because even though she sometimes has a stylist and a makeup artist, she still wears (and hates!) Spanx. Because even after almost twenty years in Hollywood, she still hasn’t figured everything out - except that you should always wash your face before bed. Always.

Judy Greer has been an actress for about 20 years and has 90+ credits to her name. You probably recognize her from her roles as best friends and/or supporting characters.

She was born and raised in Detroit and went to theatre school in Chicago.  From there, she moved to LA and that's where she lives today.  This book are essays about her life:
  1. Part 1 - Early life:  her mom, the pink car her parents bought her, her jobs in high school and university, her trip to Spain, etc.
  2. Part 2 - Hollywood:  choosing her stage name, celebrities she has peed next to, attending an Oscar party (her dress falling apart was just the start of the night), a famous actor giving her dad a Harley, etc.
  3. Part 3 - Real life:   meeting her husband, becoming a stepmom, etc.

I liked this book and thought it was a fun read.  I liked the writing style (it was amusing and honest) and found most of the essays funny and/or entertaining ... like when she got her dog or went on the first date with her now-husband.  She seems down to earth and I bet she would be fun to hang and have a glass (or two) of wine with.

If you'd like to get a behind-the-scenes view of being a working actress, you should check it out.  As a head's up, there is swearing.