Saturday, 23 June 2018

Book ~ "The Dog Lover's Digest: Quotes, Facts, and Other Paw-sitively Adorable Words of Wisdom" (2014) Vicky Barkes

From Goodreads ~ Dogs can be boisterous, obedient, loyal, and downright lazy! This book, which brings together stories, tips, trivia, quotations, and poetry celebrating all the fascinating features of the dog, is for anyone whose tail starts wagging at the thought of relaxing with a good read and a warm, cuddly canine at their feet.

I love reading books about animals and that's why this book caught my eye.  Plus how could I resist the picture of the dog on the cover?!

This book was a quick read.  It's full of bite-size stories, quotes and information about dogs along with beautiful colour pictures.

The topics include the history of dogs, pedigree peculiarities, literary pups, pub dogs, prime-time pooches, royal dogs, working woofers, rover to the rescue, dogs of war, hound horoscopes, naming your dog, along with resources (websites, publications and organizations) at the end.

The reason why dogs have so many friends is because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. ~ Anonymous


Friday, 22 June 2018

Book ~ "How Much Is Enough? Balancing Today's Needs with Tomorrow's Retirement Goals" (2013) Diane McCurdy

From Goodreads ~ Questions concerning retirement savings abound but the one question on everyone's mind is "How much is enough to provide for the type of retirement I want?" 

"How Much Is Enough?" provides the answer by helping readers build a customized plan. Author and financial planning expert Diane McCurdy clearly explains how to save on taxes and invest wisely so that readers can find the money they need to reach their retirement goals. 

Readers will also learn how to comfortably work with financial advisors and manage the investments needed for retirement. 

I work in the retirement planning industry and find it interesting reading books on this topic.  It's a good reminder of things already I know (and sometimes forget) and I usually learn something new.  That's why this book caught my eye.

The chapters include:
  1. Your money and your life
  2. Where it goes
  3. What you want
  4. What's enough for you
  5. Getting on Track
  6. Finding a good financial advisor
  7. How to make your money grow
  8. Retirement plans
  9. Ages and stages
  10. Family finances
  11. I've got enough (now what?)
  12. Estate planning
  13. Tips and thoughts to make it work

There is a questionnaire you can answer to find out what your attitude is towards money.  You can be a spender, a builder, a giver or a saver (it turns out that I'm a saver which sounds right).  She makes reference to the results throughout the book so it's a good idea to do the quiz.

I found the information fairly basic, which is good for a beginner.  The author, who is a financial planner, doesn't go into a lot of detail, though, so if you want to learn more you have to go elsewhere.  I found most of the examples and comparisons she used were conflicting with the information.  For example, she talks about the 10% rule ... take 10% off your gross earnings and pay down your debt or save it.  Agreed.  "And when that $100 per week raise comes, take 10% off the top of that too."  $100 per week raise?!  Who gets a $100 raise?!  Not the majority of Canadians!  Also the majority of examples for salaries, houses, vacations, etc. she uses are not those of the average Canadian.  So it's hard to take her seriously if you aren't well-off.  Good for her if this is the calibre of the client she deals with.

The author makes reference to her website where you'll find a downloadable program to track your expenses, etc.  Unfortunately it doesn't seem like she has kept ownership of the URL as it doesn't load.

If you are looking for a basic book you can relate to as an average Canadian, this isn't it.

Chuck’s Roadhouse Bar and Grill, Oakville, ON

I had an early lunch today at Chuck’s Roadhouse Bar and Grill (Speers Road/Dorval Drive).  This is a chain (I've never heard of them until today) and apparently they have been open in this location since February.

I sat in a booth on the dining room side

I ordered a bacon cheese burger (I swapped the American cheese for mozzarella cheese) and fries.  I ordered gravy on the side.  It was a good solid burger and I liked it.  The fries were good too.  I'd get this again.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Mumma’s Burritos, Oakville, ON

I had lunch today at Mumma's Burritos (Winston Churchill/QEW).

I've never heard of this chain but was in the area so thought I'd give them a try.


I ordered a large chicken burrito combo ... burrito, pop and tortilla chips.  My burrito had rice, black beans, chicken, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, corn, salsa and burrito sauce.  I love burritos and this was a yummy one.  They quickly heat up the wrap, then put on your ingredients (there are lots to choose from) and then grill it.  The chicken and rice were hot and everything else was cool, which made for an interesting contrast.  It was a solid heavy burrito!


The fellas working behind the counter were friendly.

I'd stop in at this chain if I was near one again.

Mumma’s Burritos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Book ~ "A Life in Parts" (2016) Bryan Cranston

From GoodreadsBryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life - paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as "Seinfeld" dentist Tim Whatley, “a sadist with newer magazines,” and "Malcolm in the Middle" dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately "A Life in Parts" is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work. 

I like reading bios/autobios and thought this one would be interesting.  Bryan Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, producer, director and screenwriter, best known for his roles as Walter White in "Breaking Bad", Hal in "Malcolm in the Middle" and Dr. Tim Whatley in "Seinfeld".  I've never watched "Malcolm in the Middle" or "Breaking Bad" but know the shows.  To me, Cranston is Dr. Whatley in "Seinfield".  He seems like a nice guy and so I thought I'd check his book out.

This is Cranston's story starting with his childhood.  His father was an aspiring actor who left the family when Cranston was young to start a life with a new wife (father and son were estranged for many years).  His mother wasn't overly stable and had a number of husbands.  He married twice ... he has been with his second wife for about thirty years and they have a daughter.  Given his childhood, he was determined that his life with his wife and daughter would be different.

Cranston had a variety of jobs including selling newspapers (well, stealing them to sell them), a security guard, a minister (marrying people at age 19!), a camera operator/interviewer with a dating service and more ... it was funny to hear some of his stories.  He started getting bit parts in shows and commercials before landing a part in a soap opera. 

It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at being an actor.  Cranston's not shy about expressing his opinions on how his characters should be and has a good work ethic.  He doesn't believe actors should be on auto pilot and isn't afraid to walk away from parts if he feels they aren't right for him.

I enjoyed this book and liked the writing style.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Melodie's, Thornhill, ON

I had lunch today at Melodie's, which serves Mediterranean cuisine.


I ordered the chicken fillet dinner with rice and potatoes.  The chicken was freshly grilled for me.  The rice was good and the tzatziki was tasty.  The potatoes were the only weak point ... they were a bit cold and overspiced.  I'd get this again but without the potatoes.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Topbox - June 2018

My June 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 is what I received ...



Total value = $36.50 value (without the Alumier Vitamin Rich Smoother C&E)

Trattoria Timone, Oakville, ON

I had lunch today at Trattoria Timone.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Book ~ "Closer Than You Know" (2018) Brad Parks

From GoodreadsDisaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know.

It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she's survived into adulthood - with a loving husband, a steady job and a beautiful baby boy named Alex - she thought that turmoil was behind her.

Until one Monday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he's been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It's a terrifying scenario for any parent but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls "the system."

Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff's deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming and if Melanie can't prove her innocence, she'll lose Alex forever.

Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth's attorney Amy Kaye - who has been assigned Melanie's case - has her own troubles. She's been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women.

Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation ... or her undoing.

Melanie grew up in foster care after her parents lost their parental rights when she was a child.  She's done the best she can and, now an adult, is married to Ben (a PhD student), educated though not working to her potential and has a baby named Alex.  When she goes to pick up Alex at daycare one day, she discovers he has been removed by Social Services but has no idea why.  She heads home to discover the police have searched her house and have apparently found cocaine.  She initially thinks it belongs to her younger brother but it turns out it doesn't.  In and out of jail, she is assigned a rumpled inept lawyer who she doesn't have a lot of confidence in.

Amy is the assistant commonwealth's attorney and has been working on a cold case of a rapist in the  country.  She is assigned Melanie's case, who had coincidentally also been a victim of the rapist last year.  But Amy must put aside her sympathy for Melanie in that case as she tries the drug possession case.

The storyline was interesting.  As hard as Melanie tried, she had a hard time getting and keeping ahead.  There were lots of possible "whodunnits" who could have set her up and we don't find out who is behind it all until the end ... and I bought it.  I liked the writing style.  It is written in first person perspective in Melanie's voice but also in third person perspective from Amy and other's points of view.  I found at times, though, there were too many police officers involved in this case that I started losing track of who they were.

I've read all of Brad Parks' books including the Carter Ross series and liked them.  This was a stand alone book.

The Hot House Restaurant & Bar, Toronto, ON

I had supper this evening at The Hot House Restaurant & Bar (Church Street/Front Street) with my pals, Franca, Liz and Rona (we worked together in the mid-1990s and have been friends since).  Our intent was to hang on the patio but the threat of rain had us sitting inside.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Barcelona Tavern, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I left the Toronto Wolfpack game, we headed to Barcelona Tavern in Liberty Village for supper.  They just opened in March ... we'd planned on going a couple times in April but it didn't happen.

They have a large area upstairs that opens onto a patio

Toronto Wolfpack 64, Dewsbury Rams 12, Lamport Stadium, Toronto, ON

The Toronto Wolfpack RLFC is a Canadian professional rugby league club, based in here Toronto, which competes in the British Rugby Football League system.  In 2018 the club is competing in the Championship, having begun to play in 2017 in League 1 and won a promotion in its inaugural season.  The club is noted as being the first North American team to play in the Rugby Football League system, the first fully professional rugby league team in Canada and the world's first transatlantic rugby league team.  Their home stadium is Lamport Stadium (aka "The Den"), which is just a couple blocks from where we live.

The Wolfpack were in first place and the Rams were in ninth place heading into this game.

Here are the Wolfpack Cheerleaders.


Here are me and Gord before the game began.  We sat on the west side of the stadium (we usually sit on the east side).


God Save the Queen and O Canada were sung before the game.


 And the game began ...

Book ~ "Scrappy Little Nobody" (2016) Anna Kendrick

From GoodreadsEven before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like "Pitch Perfect", "Up in the Air", "Twilight" and "Into the Woods", Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In "Scrappy Little Nobody", she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can - from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page - with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious). 

I like reading bios/autobios.  Though I'm not a fan of Anna Kendrick (I don't dislike her), this book was popular when it came out so I thought I'd check it out.

Anna Kendrick is an American actress and singer (born in 1985).  She began her career as a child actor in theater productions.  Her first prominent role was in the 1998 Broadway musical High Society, which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She made her film debut in 2003.  She rose to prominence for her supporting role as Jessica Stanley in The Twilight Saga (I've never seen them).  She came onto my radar in the 2009 movie Up in the Air (in which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress).  I've since since her in Pitch Perfect, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Table 19.

It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like when she was a struggling actress (living with roommates, driving a beater, etc.), what's involved in shooting a movie (both small independent movies and big-screen movies), being on the red carpet and award shows, etc.  The chapter she spent in great detail telling about the parties she wants to throw was boring.

I thought this book was okay.  She's only 32 so hasn't got that much of a story to tell.  I thought the writing style was okay but thought she was unlikable at times.  I found her a bit annoying and whiny but I think it was perhaps her attempt at being humorous?  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.