Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book ~ "Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin" (2014) Monica Parker

From Goodreads ~ Monica Parker bridges the divide between serial dieter's survival guide and memoir, taking readers on a hilariously funny yet bumpy ride from chubby baby to chunky adult. 

In "Getting Waisted," Monica begins every chapter with a diet she committed to and reveals how much weight, money and self-esteem she lost, then she tells how much weight she gained when she fell off the wagon. After all, "no one tells a short person to get taller or a tall person to get shorter but fat people hear about their bodies all the time." 

From Living Large in a size zero world to jumping into the dating pool without causing a tidal wave of angst, Monica learns that when you stop buying what the diet-devils are selling and start liking yourself, life is far more rewarding. When Mr. Right appears out of thin air, will she run back to the catalogue of Mr. Wrongs out of fear? 

Readers will laugh and cry as she realizes that while she thought it was her body that was in the way, it was really what she kept in her head that needed adjusting. Ultimately, "Getting Waisted" is an inspirational look at life through society's warped fun-house mirror, but Monica's reflection tells the real tale: everyone is always under construction and we are all flawed, chipped, and dented, but that doesn't mean we're not interesting, vital and sexy.

Monica was born in Glasgow, Scotland.  Her mother was an Austro-Hungarian Jew who escaped Austria during the Nazi invasion.  Her father was a "musty" fifty-year-old virgin Englishman.  It wasn't a love match ... they married, did it once and her mother got the British residency she wanted.  They would spend years living together and apart, depending on convenience.  When Monica was ten, the family moved to Toronto where her mother eventually became a dressmaker.

This is Monica's story of being a larger woman who was always trying to lose weight so she could fit in and be accepted.  When she was an adult, she worked in her mom's dressmaking shop and eventually became an actress, writer and producer in LA.  Each chapter begins with a diet she had tried (such as Dexadrine, Fen Phen, bananas and milk, Jenny Craig, receiving injections of urine of pregnant women and more), how much it cost her, how much weight she lost and how much weight she gained ... and the details of what was happening in her life at that time.

I enjoyed this book and liked the writing style, which I found honest and entertaining.  Monica's story was funny yet sad at times.  She seems like the kind of person you could sit and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine with and have a great time talking and laughing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tabby cuddling

I was going to check Morgan's glucose level a few minutes ago and found him and Crumpet on the futon in our spare room chillin' and catching some rays.

Crumpet and Morgan
Crumpet and Morgan

Do you think I disturbed them to stick a needle in the vein in Morgan's ear to draw blood?  No way!!

Judge & Jury, Burlington, ON

I had a meeting this morning in Hamilton (about 45 minutes away) and stopped off for lunch on my way back to Toronto at the Judge & Jury in Burlington.  It's been a while since I was there.


It was busy so I sat in the bar area.


I always get wings and with a side order of mac 'n cheese there.  Alas, the mac 'n cheese was taken off the menu about six months ago.  So instead I got a half order of garlic bread with cheese and wings with medium sauce.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Roasted Chicken

When I was reading 501 Amazing Uses for Salt, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Olive Oil and Lemons, I found a recipe for a chicken breast marinade that sounded good and easy.

I planned on having a whole chicken for supper this evening and figured the marinade would work with it ... and it did.

The chicken has been marinading since yesterday.

I didn't have red wine vinegar so used  apple cider vinegar instead.  I combined the ingredients ...

Cat nappin'

Crumpet and Morgan had the right idea this afternoon ... they were napping together on the futon in our spare room in the sun.

Crumpet and Morgan

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stout Irish Pub, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I saw Arrabal, we walked to Cabbagetown and stopped in the Stout Irish Pub for supper.  We like pubs and have never been there before (we rarely go to that area).

Wanna play a game?
We sat in the bar area

The beer menu is quite extensive.  It's great because it's all craft beer ... no big name brands.  Gord love love loves craft beer so was in heaven!

Arrabal, Panasonic Theatre, Toronto, ON

This afternoon Gord and I saw Arrabal at the Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street.  We were in the middle of the "F" row.

Gord had seen a preview performance in February during a lunchtime performance and wanted to see it.  I initially balked because it sounded really political but he really wanted to see it so I went with him.

Arrabal, an exciting World Premiere, is an explosive story told entirely through dance and the music of multiple Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel) and his band Bajofondo. 

Using a modern tango dance vocabulary never seen before, director Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys, Memphis) and choreographer Julio Zurita create a dramatic vision that is emotional, sexual and powerful. 

With a book written by Tony Award nominee John Weidman (Contact), follow Arrabal, our heroine, in this coming of age story as she enters the underground world of Buenos Aires’ tango clubs and discovers the violent history that took her father and disrupted a nation. Arrabal is based on the true story of the political violence that threatened to destroy Argentina in the 1970s. With a live band and performers direct from Buenos Aires, experience the sensual beauty and political intrigue that is Arrabal.


The performance is 90 minutes with no intermission.  Before the play started at 2pm, you could have tango lessons on the stage.  At the end of the play, the audience was invited up on stage to dance.


I thought it was just okay ... it's not my kind of play, I guess.  Gord enjoyed it more than I did and is considering about seeing it again (once was enough for me).

There was no talking or singing ... they expressed themselves through their dancing.  I've never been to the ballet but it's how I imagine it would be.  The music by Bajofondo was excellent (especially the violin player, Javier Casalla).  And the actors could really dance!

I didn't really know what was going until I read the playbill afterwards.    Here's a summary from the Globe and Mail:

The virginal heroine Arrabal (Micaela Spina) is being raised by her grandmother (Marianella). Her father Rodolfo (Julio Zurita) is one of the desaparecidos, a dissident who was arrested by the ruling military junta and made to disappear when Arrabal was an infant.

El Duende (Mario Rizzo) is the trickster who magically orchestrates Arrabal’s meeting with her father’s friend El Puma (Carlos Rivarola).  Puma and his wife, Berta (Veronica Alvarenga), run a dilapidated tango bar, where her father once worked, and which is the set for the show (some audiences members get to sit at tables on the stage).

Puma can’t get up the courage to tell Arrabal what actually happened to her father.  It allows Arrabal to have adventures – good ones like meeting the handsome Juan (Juan Cupini), and bad ones, like being seduced by Juan’s ex-girlfriend Nicole (Soledad Buss).

Book ~ "501 Amazing Uses for Salt, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Olive Oil and Lemons" (2014) Laura M. Westdale

From Goodreads ~ "501 Amazing Uses for Salt, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Olive Oil and Lemons" is a collection of easy-to-use household hints for families who want to have a greener household.  Using natural ingredients that are inexpensive, nontoxic and found in nearly every pantry, these tips make it easy to live green! 

Readers are introduced to the basic ingredients - salt, vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, and lemons - and what makes them so useful around the home. The book is packed with simple tips for both inside and outside the home, from healthy cleaning solutions to natural pet care. 

Color-coded by main ingredient, each tip has an ingredient list and step-by-step instructions. This is a great reference for readers wishing to simplify their collection of household products and detoxify their homes. With a charming design and simple-to-use approach, this reliable household companion makes an indispensable reference and a great gift.

This is a handy book because it gives you 501 uses for things you probably have around the house to replace expensive or toxic chemicals ... salt, vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemons.

The book begins by providing the background, history and types of salt, vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemons.

Then what follows are the 501 uses of salt, vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemons.  It is divided into five chapters, with salt, vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemons colour coded (for example, all salt tips are in blue):
  1. Around the house
  2. In the kitchen
  3. Health, hygiene and beauty
  4. Arts, crafts and science
  5. Beyond the home 

 Here are some examples  from the different chapters ...


 Cool stuff, eh?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Toronto Rock 13, Buffalo Bandits 9

Gord and I went to the Toronto Rock game this evening (we have season's tickets) ... it was the last home game of the season.  The Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

Before we left for the game, Gord and  I decided to get a bacon-wrapped hotdog at the ACC for supper.


We both got foot longs.  They were $11.25 each and soooooo worth it ... because they were so greasy and gross that we'll probably never want one again (I couldn't finish mine)!

Book ~ "Slimming Meals That Heal: Stop Inflammation and Reach Your Perfect Weight without Dieting" (2014) Julie Daniluk

From JulieDaniluk.com ~ Diets fail because they are a self-imposed temporary food prison that we can’t wait to escape. Are you sick of restrictive diets, that make you “hangry” and reaching for the box of cookies at 9pm? Do you want to lose weight, without dieting?

Slimming Meals That Heal will teach you to do just that, with the “LIVE-IT” program. Julie will teach you the science of permanent weight loss.
  • Why you have cravings
  • How to eat to balance your hormones and weight
  • How inflammation causes weight gain
  • And a “LIVE-IT” plan, with over 120 tasty gluten free recipes to keep you satisfied and slim

Lose 25, 45, even 100 pounds by getting rid of the scales and calorie counters. What’s inside:
  • Over 300 pages of Slimming Meals That Heal Inspiration 
  • Julie’s personal story of overcoming emotional eating and how you too can make empowered food choices 
  • A Healthy Swap List, to crush cravings with healthy substitutions 
  • At a glance guides & charts, to demystify the science of weight loss 
  • Easy to identify food allergy icons 
  • 7 Day Slimming Meal Plan 
  • 120 easy, tasty, phenomenally healthy slimming recipes with inspiration from around the globe

This book caught my eye because I like reading books about how to get healthy.  In addition, I've seen Julie Daniluk speak a couple times (at a gluten free dinner and at the 2013 ZoomerShow) and find her informative and passionate.

This book is made up of three parts:

Part 1 - The science of weight loss - explores the scientific research that demonstrates the connection between obesity, inflammation and emotion eating
  1. Why diets doen't work
  2. How allergies cause weight gain
  3. The hormone heist:  the links between hormone havoc, inflammation and weight
  4. The nutrition of weight loss
  5. The Live-It Tool Kit:  Strategies to combat emotional eating

Part 2 - The SMTH Program - focuses on the anti-inflammatory food chart
  1. The anti-inflammatory 5-step Live-It Plan
  2. A focus on food:  building an anti-inflammatory kitchen

Part 3 - The recipes - spotlights the top slimming superfoods in over 120 healing recipes
  1. Liquid healing
  2. Meals to begin the day
  3. Salads, sauces, dips and dressings
  4. Starters, soups and sides
  5. Main meals
  6. Treats and snacks

At the end of the book are resources and references.

The basis of the plan is to eat whole unprocessed food so you'll get the harmony of all their nutrients together, the way nature had intended.  This keeps your immune system strong and protects you from disease.  Eating processed foods exposes you to preservatives, dyes and chemicals that have been linked to a higher incidences of ADHD, asthma and immune imbalances.  The recipes in this book focus on veggies ... you need 10 servings a day for true sustained health (the average North American eats less than three). 

I liked this book because everything was explained well.  There are lots of colour pictures and charts.

I tend to be a bit of a fussy eater and would find it hard in follow this plan.  But even if I incorporate some principles, I bet it will help!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book ~ "Walter the Farting Dog" (2001) William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray and Audrey Colman

From Goodreads ~ "Warning: This book may cause flatulence." 

Walter is a fine dog, except for one small problem: he has gas. He can't help it; it's just the way he is. Fortunately, the kids Billy and Betty love him regardless but Father says he's got to go! 

Poor Walter, he's going to the dog pound tomorrow. And then, in the night, burglars strike. Walter has his chance to be a hero. 

A children's beloved classic, this story will have kids rolling on the floor with laughter. Adults are permitted to laugh too.

John at The Book Mine Set blogged about Walter the Farting Dog this month.  Gord had bought me this book the summer we got married.  There was a bookstore in his neighbourhood we would walk by often and this book was prominently in the window.  I haven't read it since that summer so I read it again this evening.

It's a cute book directed at children about a dog who has a flatulence problem  The family does everything they can to make him stop but he can't.  The father finally declares that Walter has to go back to the pound but because his heroics one night, Walter gets to stay.  Yay!

The illustrations are colourful and cute.  Here's an example of when Walter was taken to the vet (notice the fart coming out of Walter's butt ... the poor vet!).


If you have a sense of humour and are looking for a book your kids will find funny, you should check it out.

Book ~ "The Fire" (2013) John A. Heldt

From Goodreads ~ When Kevin Johnson, 22, goes to Wallace, Idaho, days after his college graduation, he expects to find rest and relaxation as his family prepares his deceased grandfather's house for sale. Then he discovers a hidden diary and a time portal that can take him to 1910, the year of Halley's comet and the largest wildfire in U.S. history. 

Within hours, Kevin finds himself in the era of horse-drawn wagons, straw hats and ankle-length dresses. Returning to the same time and place, he decides to travel again and again and make the portal his gateway to summer fun. 

The adventure takes a more serious turn, however, when the luckless-in-love science major falls for pretty English teacher, Sarah Thompson, and integrates himself in a community headed for tragedy. 

Filled with humor, romance, and heartbreak, "The Fire", the sequel to "The Journey", follows a conflicted soul through a life-changing journey as he makes his mark on a world he was never meant to see.

It's June 2013 and Kevin has just graduated from university.  He and his family head to Wallace, ID, to clean up his late grandfather's house to sell it.  When his parents and sister go away for a couple days, Kevin finds a diary, old coins and diamonds in a secret hiding place under the floor.  Kevin reads the diary and realizes that his ancestor, Asa, who had owned the house, was a time traveler and the portal is in the backyard.  On a lark, Kevin checks it out and discovers he has sent himself back to July 1910.  Though he spends a couple hours in 1910, when he heads back to 2013, he discovers that he has only been gone a couple seconds.

Intrigued he decides to go back to 1910 and stay longer and packs for the trip taking the coins he has found, a suit from that time period, etc.  Going back in time, he can determine which year he wants to go back to but not when within the year.  This time he arrives earlier in the year.  He finds a place to live, gets a job, makes friends and meets and falls in love.

Obviously he knows about things that will happen in the future ... the world wars, Haley's Comet, the sinking of the Titanic, but most importantly, the fire that will destroy the town later that summer.  His dilemma is whether to use this knowledge to save the town and its people (who are now his friends) or let nature take its course and let it happen.

This is the fifth book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I like reading time travel books when people go back in time ... in this book, Kevin was able to go back and forth to 1910 when he wanted.  Regardless of how much time he spent in 1910 (days, weeks, etc.), when he went back to 2013, he had only been gone a few seconds.

It is written in third person perspective with most of the focus on Kevin.  Unlike the other books by this author that I've read and enjoyed, I found this one could have been a bit tighter ... it seemed a bit long in places and I just wanted to get on with the story.

Kevin adapted to 1910 well but it was funny when he slipped up and used language from the 21st century (like "dude").  He was quite attracted to two women he met and had to remind himself that 1910 was a more "proper" time than 2013.  It was a different time to be a woman ... we still didn't have the right to vote and once we got married, we had to give up our jobs to become wives and mothers.

I wasn't crazy about the ending ... from the time to fire started to when the book ended.  I like having happy endings and was glad that this book had one but I had a hard time buying it.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge from the author in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carens Wine and Cheese Bar, Toronto, ON

I was invited to a blogger night at Carens Wine and Cheese Bar in Yorkville this evening.

Yorkville's hidden gem; Carens wine and cheese is a quaint, rustic French restaurant specializing in a vast selection of wine and cheese from all over the world. Serving lunch and dinner every day of the week and classic brunch on weekends, Carens boasts a unique dining experience and a delightful summer patio unlike any other. 


First up was goat cheese, almonds, apricots and bread.  I'm not a fan of goat cheese but Gord said it was good.

Topbox - April

My April 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 ...

Trius wine club - April

Gord and I have been members of the Trius Wine Club for over ten years.

Every month, 2 bottles of our best wine will be delivered to your door along with Winemaker Craig McDonald’s tasting notes and Chef Frank Dodd’s recipes.

The cost is $43 a month and it's only available in Ontario.

I picked up our Trius wine club box today ... they tried to deliver it last week and we weren't home.


Here's what we got this month ...


  • Trius Merlot 2012 ($14.95) ~ The recipe included that pairs with it is Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb
  • Showcase Clean Slate Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($) - The recipe included that pairs with it is Fennel Steamed Mussels

Book ~ "We're Done" (2013) Judy Irwin

From Goodreads ~ What if it turns out that YOU'RE the bully - and you didn't know it? 

Things aren't going very well for 13-year-old Luke Mitchell. He's been kicked out of his posh private school, Heyworth Academy; his best friend Jon has just dumped him; and the tough guys at his new school have just picked him as their new target. 

So what's a guy who used to be on the top of the heap supposed to do? The upside-down world that Luke finds himself in at Carlyle gives him a whole new way of looking at things. Can he recover from losing his school and his best friend, and find new friends and a way to fit in at Carlyle?

Luke is 13 years old and goes to a private school. He likes to "joke" with the other students ... but they don't find it so funny.  An incident during School Spirit Day is strike three against him according to the school's anti-bullying rules and Luke is kicked out of the school, though he doesn't realize his behaviour was considered bullying.  His mother retreats within herself and is no support.  His older sister, Monica, and a friend of her are bullying a fellow student via Facebook.   He expected his dad, who is out of town often on business, to be able to talk him back into the school and when this doesn't happen, he has to go to what he considers an inferior public school.  In addition, his best friend, Jon, who we met in What Did You Say?, had had enough of his "humour" and doesn't want to be his friend anymore.  All in all, Luke is not likeable.

As he tries to fit in at the new school, he is picked on and made fun of by some of the kids.  Tash, who he met in What Did You Say?, is a fellow student and doesn't give him the warm welcoming he expected because she took offense to something he said over the summer.  He's not used to not having his way and learns some humbling lessons in how to get along with his fellow students and how he had treated others in the past.

This is the third book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  The subject matter is bullying which is a huge focus right now and this book could be an eye-opener to kids who don't realize they are being bullies.  Though it is a YA book, I didn't find the writing or storyline too immature for me.  It's a quick read and I'd recommend it for everyone (there's no bad language or mature situations).