Sunday, May 03, 2015

Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant, Winnipeg, MB

I had supper this evening at Elephant & Castle ... it is in the ground floor of the Delta Hotel on St. Mary Street.


I ordered Butter Chicken.  It looked good and the sauce was delicious ... except there wasn't a lot of chicken.  Alas, it was mostly sauce with some small pieces of chicken.

Book ~ "Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada: 101 Heartwarming and Inspiring Stories by and for Canadians" (2011) Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark

From Goodreads ~ With 101 heartwarming and inspiring stories by Canadians and for Canadians, this book will delight, amuse, and invigorate Canadian readers. 

"Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada" is full of inspirational, amusing, and encouraging stories that will touch the heart of any Canadian. Stories include a wide range of topics written by Canadians, from daily life to Canadian holidays, along with tales from tourists and visitors.

I enjoy reading Chicken Soup for the Soul books and have read and enjoyed many over the years.  So when I heard there was one about Canada, I wanted to read it.

The chapters are:
  1. Proud to be a Canadian
  2. Ice Time
  3. Slice of Life
  4. The Cultural Mosaic
  5. Wilderness and Wildlife
  6. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
  7. Holidays and Traditions
  8. Summer Memories
  9. Life Lessons
  10. Winter Wonderland
  11. Inspiring Canadians
  12. That Famous Canadian Hospitality

There are 101 stories written by Canadians living in Canada, Canadians now living in the States and Americans about Canada.  I found that some were cute but a lot were dull.  Plus the majority of them were so generic and could have been about anywhere, not specifically in or about Canada.  There are A LOT of hockey stories.

At the beginning of each story, there was a quote.  I found it odd that there were lots of quotes by non-Canadians.

It was good exposure for Liona Boyd because each chapter started with a song written by her.  Nothing against Liona Boyd but we have lots of Canadian musicians who have written songs about Canada that could have been used.

I was disappointed with this book.

Twist By Roger Mooking, Mississauga, ON

I had to fly to Winnipeg this afternoon and had lunch beforehand at Twist by Roger Mooking at Pearson Airport.  Whenever I'm at the airport, I always stop and look at the menu and move on (I've seen Roger Mooking on Chopped Canada).  Today I thought I'd try it.

I sat on the "patio"

I ordered fried chicken and the order comes with a thigh and a breast.  I happened to eat the thigh first and found it awkward because there were bones.  Because steak knives aren't permitted in the airport after you go through Security, you either eat it with a fork and a butter knife (which I did) or pick it up with your hands.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the breast was boneless (easy to cut).  The chicken was really tender and moist.  The creamy honey lime was a nice dipping sauce.  In my opinion, they should serve two breasts instead of a thigh and breast.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Knitted dish cloth

I made a dish cloth this evening while watching a movie.  It is a quick and easy pattern.



I used cotton yarn.

Cast on 4 stitches.

Knit 2, YO, Knit to end.

Turn work.

Knit 2, YO, Knit to end.

Turn work.

Keep doing this over and over and over and over and over until there are 56 stitches.

Knit 1, K2tog, YO, K1, K2tog, knit to end.

Turn work.

Knit 1, K2tog, YO, K1, K2tog, knit to end.

Turn work.

Keep doing this over and over and over and over and over.

Cast off the final 4 stitches.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Toronto ... from the west

My friend, Franca, moved a couple months ago and she had a few us over tonight ... Ann, Anne, Rona and I.

She put out quite a spread of appies and then we ordered pizza.  To finish the meal off, there was strawberry shortcake and delicious chocolate cupcakes made by Anne.

Franca lives in the west end of Toronto and has a great view of the city.  I took some pictures as the night went on from her balcony.

6:30pm
7:20pm
9:20pm

It was great to see everyone and catch up!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book ~ "The Third Rail: Confronting Our Pension Failures" (2013) Jim Leech and Jacquie McNish

From Goodreads ~ For all Canadians, a blueprint on the state of Canadian pensions, the crisis we are faced with, and solutions to fix it - from the foremost expert on the subject.

Over the next 20 years more than 7 million Canadian workers will retire. Baby boomers, the 45- to 65-year-olds who account for 42% of the country's workforce, will join the largest job exodus in Canadian history, moving the promised land of retirement. Unless our crumbling pension system is reformed, many of these reitrees will find this dreamland a bewildering and disappointing mirage.

In the early 1980s, consumers were setting aside 20% of their disposable incomes to their retirement plans; today the savings rate is a threadbare 2.5%. Retirement savings plans meant to build Canadians' personal war chests for their final years have failed to live up to their cheery promises of early retirement "freedom" - market returns are low, and financial fees are climbing. Moreover, retirement plans are now being compromised by high pension obligations and a shrinking workforce.

Canada has the capacity to diffuse this ticking pension time bomb with some hard choices, posits Leech. It's time for businesses, governments, unions, and employees to face these options and fix - and ultimately save - our pensions system, taking examples from Holland, New Brunswick, and Rhode Island - places in which new laws have been adopted to repair the pensions programs. 

I work in the group retirement industry and enjoy reading books on financial planning and planning for retirement ... so this book caught my eye and I found it interesting.

This book provides information about Canadian retirement plans available including Canada/Quebec Pension Plan (C/QPP), Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and workplace savings plans (defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans).  The authors, Leech and McNish, provide their opinions on how the retirement landscape should be improved because the majority of Canadians aren't saving enough to fund their retirements.

It was interesting to read the three case studies of pensions plans that were failing and managed to turn themselves around:
  1. New Brunswick
  2. Rhode Island
  3. The Netherlands

While I think the authors did a good job in analyzing the current situation and providing recommendations, I think they should have also placed emphasis on the responsibility of individual Canadians to save more.

Part of my job is to talk with people about saving for retirement.  There are many who are on track and will be able to maintain their lifestyles in retirement.  But there are many more who aren't.  In a lot of cases, they assume they are saving enough so it's a bit of a shock for them when I show them that they aren't but then I help them get on track.  I know that some can't afford to save more so I'm glad they are doing what they can.  But there are others who live in la-la-land.  For example, I was talking with a young guy (about 25-years-old) a couple weeks ago.  He makes about $60,000 a year, has no retirement assets saved and was contributing just $40 a month to a retirement plan (he could afford to contribute more but he didn't think he had to).  He was extremely surprised and dismayed when he discovered that he won't be able to retire early at 55 and maintain his pre-retirement lifestyle.  Seriously?!

I think it's great that Canada and various provinces are looking at reform and ways of making us save more for retirement but I also think a lot of it comes down to ourselves.  If you don't also save for your retirement, you can't be surprised when you can't have the one you want when you get there.

Alice Fazooli's, Richmond Hill, ON

I conducted a seminar followed by one-on-ones for a client in Markham this morning and had lunch afterwards at Alice Fazooli's (at Leslie/Hwy 7).

I sat in the dining room

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Free samples at SampleSource.com - April 2015

A couple weeks ago, I had answered an emailed survey from SampleSource and there was a box of goodies waiting for me when I got home today.  This is the third box of samples I've gotten from them.


Here's what I got ...


  • Minute Rice Basmatic or Jasmine rice along with a $2 off coupon
  • Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant toothpaste (18ml)
  • Sample of John Frieda Dream Curls shampoo, conditioner (8.3ml) and serum (4.4ml)
  • Sample of Brookside Crunchy Clusters Dark Chocolate & Berry Medley flavours (20g)
  • 2 Sunlight Dishwasher Power Packs
  • Chapstick lip balm - strawberry + banana smoothie
  • 2 samples of Breathe Right nasal strips
  • Sample of Burt's Bees daily moisturing cream (2.8g)
  • Sample of Jergens Shea Butter (8ml) along with a $1 off coupon
  • Sample of Emergen-C Vitamin C powder (1000mg) plus a $5 off coupon0ml)
  • Sample of Softsoap fresh glow hydrating body wash (
  • Sample of Truvia calorie-free sweetener
  • Sample of Robax and a $5 coupon
  • Ziploc space bag

Looks like some fun stuff!

Book ~ "Miracle Dogs: Rescue Stories" (2014) Liz Stavrinides

From Goodreads ~ 78 million dogs live as pets in the USA. These are the lucky ones. Five to seven million companion animals enter shelters every year and more than half are euthanized due to the lack of space. 

"Miracle Dogs" celebrates and honors the rescuers and the dogs whose lives they’ve saved. It features wonderful stories and photographs of dog rescuers, dog trainers and rescue organizations such as The Gentle Barn and Tamar Geller's Operation Heroes and Hounds, along with celebrity pet owners such as Chevy Chase, Hoda Kotb, Bob Einstein, Amanda Hearst, Jamie Lynn Siegler and Lance Bass. 

Each story includes portraits of the dog and its new family, followed by a concise, compelling narrative detailing the dog’s journey to its new home.

A professional pet photographer, Liz Stavrinides spends much of her time on projects related to animal rescue. "Miracle Dogs" was born out of her desire to collect and share the stories of the dogs she’s met over the years, showcasing the incredible bravery and compassion of both canines and owners. 

Readers will be moved by stories like that of Wyatt, an assistance dog who helped a young boy with autism communicate with the outside world, or Fiona, who was found blind and starving and is now in a loving family. All of them have finally found their furever homes. Stavrinides’ portraits are heartwarming - a loving and poignant tribute to man’s best friend. 

I love reading stories about animals and I loved this book because it was about dogs who had been rescued.  And not only were there stories but there were beautiful photos of the dogs taken by Liz Stavrinides.

The stories include dogs that have been adopted by celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Lance Bass, Peter Marshall and Shirley Jones but also by people who run rescues and regular folk like you and I.  There were stories of people who had lost their pets and these rescue dogs came along at the right time.  Some dogs had had homes in the past and had been cast aside while others had never been in a house before.  Regardless they all found a new home and love.

The one thing that bugged me was in the story about Priscilla and her puppies (one of the puppies is on the cover of the book) ... "Priscilla and her pups were going on the next mission flight to Calgary and Alberta, Canada."  Hello!  Calgary is IN Alberta!

Reading this book made me want to rush out and get a rescue dog!

Here are some of the photos and stories in the book ...

Chevy Chase with Chris and Cody
Jamie-Lynn Sigler with Bean
Caryn Rosenthal with Jax
Lance Bass with Dingo, Foster and Lily

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Knitted dish cloth

I finished a dish cloth this evening.  It is a quick and easy pattern.


I used cotton yarn.

Cast on 4 stitches.

Knit 2, YO, Knit to end.

Turn work.

Knit 2, YO, Knit to end.

Turn work.

Keep doing this over and over and over and over and over until there are 56 stitches.

Knit 1, K2tog, YO, K1, K2tog, knit to end.

Turn work.

Knit 1, K2tog, YO, K1, K2tog, knit to end.

Turn work.

Keep doing this over and over and over and over and over.

Cast off the final 4 stitches.