Monday, May 25, 2015

Book ~ "I Remember Sunnyside" (1996) Mike Filey

From Goodreads ~ First published in 1982, "I Remember Sunnyside" is a mine of golden memories, bringing back to life an earlier Toronto, only hints of which remain today.

Like the city itself, Sunnyside was an everchanging landscape from its heady opening days in the early 1920s to its final sad demolition in the 1950s. 

The book captures the spirit of the best of times a magical era which can only be recaptured in memory and photographs. It also presents the reality of a newer Toronto where change, although necessary, is sometimes regrettable.

There are a few things I wish I could go back in time to experience and one of them is Sunnyside Amusement Park, which is the focus of this book along with the a history of the neighbourhood.

Sunnyside Amusement Park was a popular amusement park in Toronto that ran from 1922 to 1955.  It was demolished in 1955 to make way for the building of the Gardiner Expressway. It was located on the Lake Ontario waterfront at the foot of Roncesvalles Avenue, west of downtown Toronto.  Only the Sunnyside Pool and Bathing Pavilion and the Palais Royale buildings survive today.

The park was popular for its large roller coaster, known as the "Flyer", several merry-go-rounds, the Derby Racer steeplechase ride and numerous smaller attractions. It also hosted several stunt events including flagpole sitting, famous boat burnings in Lake Ontario and fireworks displays. Other popular attractions included outdoor and indoor musical concerts, night clubs, and restaurants and walking along the boardwalk.  There was even a Sunnyside train station nearby at the intersection of King Street W, Queen Street W and Roncesvalles Avenue which operated passenger service from 1910 until 1971 (it's now a park).

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).  I've read all his books where he compiles some of his columns. 

Even though it was originally published in 1982 and reprinted in 1996, it was an interesting book because the pictures of older Toronto were great. If you live in Toronto or are from Toronto, you should check it out. 

Boccone Trattoria Veloce, Mississauga, ON

I had to fly to Vancouver this afternoon and had an early lunch at Boccone Trattoria Veloce before my flight.

I usually order pizza there but today I ordered lasagna with garlic bread.  The lasagna was tasty ... the noodles were fresh.  The garlic bread was good but not garlicy at all.  I'd get this again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Topbox - May 2015

My May Topbox arrived while I was on vacation.

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 = $16.42

    Saturday, May 23, 2015

    Book ~ "Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!: Make Your Million-Dollar Idea into a Reality" (2014) Lori Greiner

    From Goodreads ~ From one of the stars of ABC’s "Shark Tank" and QVC’s "Clever & Unique Creations by Lori Greiner" comes a hands-on, nuts-and-bolts guide to getting a new product or company off the ground and making it a success.

    Lori Greiner is one of America’s most successful, prolific, and sought-after entrepreneurs. But before she created her first hit product, all she had was a great idea, a tireless work ethic and no clue how to get it to market. So Lori taught herself everything she needed to know about bringing an invention from concept to creation to consumers in months. She learned the ins and outs of business, manufacturing, investors, patents, marketing, and more. Now, five hundred million dollars in retail sales later, in an honest and straightforward fashion, Lori reveals the path she took to her wealth of experience and hard-won wisdom so that you, too, can achieve financial freedom and see your invention become reality.

    "Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!" is a hands-on, nuts-and-bolts guide to getting a new product or company off the ground and making it profitable. Sharing her own secret formula and personal stories along the way, she provides vital information and advice on topics that can often intimidate, frustrate, and stump aspiring entrepreneurs.

    Offering behind-the-scenes insights into her experiences on ABC’s Shark Tank and QVC-TV’s "Clever & Unique Creations by Lori Greiner", as well as valuable lessons learned from the mistakes and triumphs of her early career, Lori proves that, with hard work and the right idea, anyone can turn themselves into the next overnight success.

    So a note to all the weekend inventors, armchair CEOs, and get-rich-quick dreamers: No more excuses! With Lori Greiner as your personal mentor, the only thing left to do is make your product, get out there, and sell it!

    I like Shark Tank and I like Lori Greiner as one of the sharks.

    The topics include:

    • Market research:  Is your idea a hero or a zero?  Don’t be so fixated on the end result that you forget to make something that people actually want to buy.
    • Product design:  I have an idea, now what’s next? From concept to prototype to final product: How do I make it and where do I start?
    • Funding:  Although loans, investments, and crowd-sourcing are great ways to access cash, first tap into your own resources as wisely as possible.
    • Manufacturing:  Seeing your final product roll off the assembly line is a magical moment, but there are things to watch out for so you get there in a cost-effective way.
    • Protecting your idea:  To patent or not to patent, and other things you can do to safeguard your idea.
    • The secrets to selling successfully:  You got the product made, now learn how to get people to buy it!

    I have no aspirations of being an inventor but I thought her book and story would be interesting ... and it was.

    I liked her writing style ... it's straightforward and to the point.  It comes across that she is a very hard worker who cares about her products and the customers who buy them.  I liked that in addition to providing useful direction, she also included information about her own experiences and of some of the entrepreneurs (good and bad) who have been on Shark Tank.

    St. James's Club, Morgan Bay, St. Lucia

    Sister Sarah and I go on vacation together (leaving the husbands home) every year, usually the week of Victoria Day.  This year we stayed at St. James's Club in St. Lucia ... neither of us had been to St. Lucia before.  We arrived last Saturday and left today.

    It is less than 90 minutes from the airport and there was a van waiting to pick us up when we landed.  It was quite an interesting drive with the windy roads.

    When we arrived, check-in in the lobby was quick.  Surprisingly there are no wrist bands, which was nice.  There is security at the entrance and around the resort.

    There are 12 buildings with 345 rooms.  We were in beachfront rooms (building 700), which was perfect for us because it was next to the beach and the pool, the towel hut, the Sunset Lounge (where the entertainment was at night and one of the spots for free WIFI) and most of the restaurants.

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    St. Lucia - Friday

    I woke up about 9am this morning and felt lazy.  So I chilled out in my room and read for a while.

    When I went looking for Sister Sarah, I knew exactly where I'd find her ... at the beach.

    There's Sister Sarah!

    I felt like having a burger so I headed to the Plum Tree Bar & Grill for an early lunch.

    Book ~ "The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan" (2015) Robert Hough

    From Goodreads ~ The year is 1664, and Benny Wand, a young thief and board game hustler, is arrested in London for illegal gaming. Deported to the city of Port Royal, Jamaica, known as “the wickedest city on earth,” Wand is forced by his depleted circumstances to join a raid on the Spanish city of Villahermosa. The mission is a perilous success and Wand attracts the attention of the mission’s leader, an up-and-coming Welsh seaman, Captain Henry Morgan, whose raids on Spanish strongholds are funded by the British government. 

    While embarking on a campaign in the Caribbean, Wand and Morgan develop an unlikely friendship through a shared love of chess. As Morgan is corrupted by his increasingly sordid attacks on Spanish cities, he slowly becomes Wand’s greatest enemy. To defeat his former ally, Wand embarks on a strategic battle of wits and must help Morgan in the most savage and unexpected way possible. This is blistering and bawdy storytelling at its best. 

    This book is the story of Benny Wand, a young chess player in London, England, who is doing what he can to survive.  He is given the choice of either going to prison or getting shipped off to Port Royal, Jamaica, the "wickedest city on earth".  He figures he has a better chance in Jamaica so off he goes.  Needless to say, his voyage isn't on luxury liner.

    When he arrives in Jamaica, he finds there are many like himself with no money, living on a beach, eating turtles, and waiting for Henry Morgan to gather together some men to raid Spanish cities in the area (at this time, England and Spain were at war).

    Sir Henry Morgan (ca. 1635 – 25 August 1688) was a Welsh privateer, pirate and admiral of the Royal Navy who made a name for himself during activities in the Caribbean, primarily raiding Spanish settlements. He earned a reputation as one of the most notorious and successful privateers in history, and one of the most ruthless among those active along the Spanish Main.

    After the raids, the men are extremely wealthy but then they blow their money on booze, guns and hookers ... and then wait 'til the next time Morgan needs them and the cycle begins again.

    Because of Benny's expertise in chess, he and Morgan become friends because Morgan wants Benny to teach him how to play chess.  Morgan soon looks to Benny for strategic advice in his attacks also.  At first Benny has much admiration for Morgan but this changes as Morgan becomes corrupt with power and wealth.

    This is not the kind of story I usually read but I enjoyed it.  It caught my eye because I like Captain Morgan rum, which is named after Henry Morgan, plus the book is written by a Canadian.

    The book is written in first person perspective, from Benny's point of view.  Despite being a bit of a lowlife, I found Benny likable.  I liked the writing style and found the pace was good.  I thought the story was interesting.  As a head's up, there is swearing, violence and adult activity.

    I'd recommend this book.

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    St. Lucia - Thursday

    Sister Sarah and I wanted to do some shopping so we caught a local bus and headed to Rodney Bay, about a 15 minute drive away (about $1.50US each one way).

    There are a couple malls so we checked them out briefly.  I bought a teeshirt and Sister Sarah bought a teeshirt, a couple postcards and a shot glass in a duty-free shop in one of the malls.

    Afterwards we had lunch at KFC.  The food has been really good at the resort but it was nice to have something familiar for a change.

    We both got 2 piece meals ... about $5.25US each
    It was a bit different from ours in Canada but good

    Then we checked out the liquor store.   I bought a couple bottles of dark rum and two bottles of Piton, the local beer, for Gord.

    Sister Sarah spent the afternoon on the beach while I spent it on a lounger at the pool with my Kobo.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    St. Lucia - Wednesday

    After a busy day yesterday, Sister Sarah and I spent a quiet relaxing day on the resort.

    We spent the morning at the beach.  The temperature was 30C (but felt like 34C).

    We had lunch at the Bamboo, which is right next to the beach.

    There was a buffet featuring East Indian dishes.

    Here's my lunch ... beef vindaloo (it was spicy),
    butter chicken, saffron rice and poppadom ... yum!

    Then we spent the afternoon at the pool.  While Sister Sarah socialized in the pool bar, I dozed in my lounger.  Sweet!

    Book ~ "Walt" (2014) Russell Wangersky

    From Goodreads ~ From critically acclaimed author Russell Wangersky, comes a dark, psychological thriller about a man named Walt, a grocery store cleaner who collects the shopping lists people leave in the store and discard without thought. In his fifties, abandoned, he says, by his now-missing wife Mary, Walt is pursued by police detectives unsatisfied with the answers he's given about her disappearance.

    Almost invisible to the people who pass him every day, the grocery lists he collects, written on everything from cancelled cheques to mortgage statements to office stationary, give him a personal hold over those who both ignore him and unwittingly disclose facets of their lives to him.

    When a new cold case squad is formed in St. John's to look into Mary's disappearance, the detectives begin to realize that Walt may be involved in more than just his wife's disappearance.

    Set in modern-day Newfoundland, after reading Walt, you'll be sure to never let your shopping list fall to the floor ever again.

    Walt is a cleaner in a grocery store in St. John's, NF.  Because of his job, he has developed a strange collection over the years... the grocery lists that people discard after they have finished shopping.  Many of the lists reveal a lot of information about the person, even their address when it's written on the back of an old envelope.

    Walt forms attachments in his mind with these people and imagines (and then tells us) who and what the person is.  As a cleaner, no one notices him and he is able to remain invisible.  Some people he follows around and watches them outside their windows and even enters their homes.

    In the meantime, Walt's wife, Mary, had left him.  The police, though, think otherwise and continually harass him to get him to confess to whatever he did with her.

    This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  It was weird and strange, just like Walt.  It was written in first person as if Walt is talking to us ... analyzing the shopping lists and telling us about his life and his theories.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

    I'd recommend this if you are looking for a mystery story that is a bit different.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    St. Lucia - Tuesday

    After Sister Sarah and I got back to our resort from the Land and Sea Getaway Tour, we showered and met for supper at the Bamboo.

    We both started with Satay, which was good.

    I had St. Lucian Beef Pepperpot as my main.  It was a bit spicy but delicious.

    Land and Sea Getaway Tour, Spice Travel, St. Lucia

    Today Sister Sarah and I did the full day Land and Sea Getaway Tour with Spice Travel.

    Savour the magnificent sights of St Lucia by both land and sea! Enjoy a scenic drive via the West Coast through the island’s capital Castries, the breathtaking Morne Fortune, lush banana plantations and small fishing villages. 

    On arrival in Soufriere, you will be in awe at the pure natural beauty of the Diamond Mineral Waterfall, Botanical Gardens and the Caribbean’s only drive in volcano. A scrumptious creole lunch awaits you a picturesque restaurant. Following lunch, your boat crew will cruise to a secluded beach for a dip into the turquoise waters for swimming, snorkeling or simply to enjoy a tan on the boat’s deck. Your journey continues through Marigot Bay for a photo stop. This memorable excursion terminates at the Rodney Bay Marina.

    Mathias picked us up in his van ... there were six of us on his tour.

    Looking down at Castries

    Mathias was excellent!  He was very friendly and a wealth of information and told us so much.  Here he is teaching us about bananas.