Saturday, 31 December 2005

New Years Eve


We started off our New Years celebrations with Gord BBQing steak and potatoes. Very yummy! We had a nice Syrah to go along with it. It's our New Years Eve tradition ~ this is our fifth New Years Eve together and we've done it four out of the five (we spent New Years 2002 in Cuba).

We headed off to the Foggy Dew to bring in the new year ~ it was only $10 a ticket, it's one of our favorite pubs and it's within walking distance from home.

There was a very good Celtic band and we had a great time.

Book ~ "Fall Down, Laughing : How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody" (2000) David Lander


From Amazon.com ~ In the summer of 1999, David Lander revealed publicly that he suffers from multiple sclerosis - a secret he'd kept for fifteen years even while living and working in Hollywood's celebrity fishbowl. Diagnosed with the illness after filming the last episode of Laverne and Shirley, Lander continued to develop his film and television career while hiding his illness. His success was a testament to his physical and emotional strength and his determination to prove that those with M.S. can still enjoy fulfilling and challenging lives. Over the years, Lander tried everything to improve his condition: exercise programs, alternative medicine, support groups, the latest crop of designer drugs. Weaving his experiences against a backdrop of entertaining celebrity anecdotes, Lander offers a message of affirmation that will provide information and hope to millions of M.S. sufferers, their friends and caregivers.

Quick interesting read. Very inspiring!

Book ~ "Fishbowl" (2002) Sarah Mlynowski


From Amazon.com ~ Roommates Allie, Jodine, and Emma are about as different as three people can be. Allie is enthusiastic but immature; Jodine is cold and closed-off; Emma is a stylish good-time girl. Despite the fact that they get on each other's nerves, they get along well enough, even after Jodine wakes up one night to discover that their kitchen is on fire. With no insurance, the girls are forced to come up with creative ways to raise money, including throwing big parties at a local bar and offering a seminar for men hoping to meet girls. Meanwhile, each roommate has her own man troubles: Allie pines for her friend, Clint, while the cute repairman flirts with her; Jodine is bored by her loyal boyfriend; and Emma has fallen for a sexy guy she meets at one of their parties, only to discover that she's smitten with Clint.

There are four narrators in this book and I found it hard at first keeping them straight. But once I got to know the characters, it got easier. It's a funny story and I enjoyed it. It was cool to read a book set in Toronto, rather than the States.

Wednesday, 28 December 2005

The best Christmas present!


The most special Christmas gift I received this year was from my sister, Sarah. She's into scrapbooking (she's very talented!) and put together a frame of pix of she and I.

Clockwise starting at the top left are:

  1. Christmas ~ 1982
  2. New Years in Cancun ~ 1998
  3. New Years in Cuba ~ 1999
  4. On a cruise around Toronto harbour ~ maybe 1992
  5. At a family reunion ~ maybe 1996
  6. Being cool on a patio in Toronto ~ maybe 1990
  7. New Years in Cuba 1999

For my birthday two years ago, she put together a small album called "Teena ... a step back in time" with black and white pix of our parents (before I was even thought of!) and me up to the age of five. It meant a lot to me.

She's the best sister in the whole wide world!

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

Book ~ "Speedbumps: Flooring it Through Hollywood" (2005) Teri Garr

From Amazon.com ~ As Garr describes growing up on the fringes of 1950s and '60s Hollywood in a "gypsy showbiz family," studying ballet, ignoring school and sneaking into auditions pretending to be older than she was, readers will realize hers is a pretty familiar Hollywood story. She didn't sleep with Elvis or one of the Beatles but she was next door when her girlfriend went to bed with Elvis, and she sat in the recording studio during the making of Yellow Submarine. Garr worked her way from smaller parts (dancer in Viva Las Vegas and other Elvis movies) to bigger ones (Tootsie and Mr. Mom) until her career was finally on track. Alas, this is when she discovered she had no life—no husband, no baby—and started scrambling. She'd also developed a limp and some intermittent neurological tics. In 1983, a specialist diagnosed multiple sclerosis and prescribed the medication Garr has become a spokesperson for.

Not an overly exciting life story but worth the read.

Tourtières


Gord has taken some cooking courses and one of the things he learned in his last one was how to make tourtières. That's what he made for supper tonight. Basically it's a French Canadian meat pie made with ground beef and pork. Very yummy!

A recipe similar to his is here.

Sunday, 25 December 2005

Merry Christmas!


We had a quiet Christmas. I was sick today and yesterday ~ I spent most of today in bed. But I'm feeling a lot better now. Yay!

Gord made a very yummy Christmas dinner. He did a couple of cornish hens stuffed with rice with dressing (Stove Top) on the side.

I yakked with my sister (she lives in Halifax, NS) for a while this evening. It was their turn to have her husband's family over for Christmas dinner ~ she had 25 people! Whoa!!! But it sounds like all went well.

Saturday, 24 December 2005

Book ~ "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (2004) The Fab 5


Queer Eye for the Straight Guy : The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better - Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez

From Amazon.com ~ A witty, yet sound manual based on the hit television show. A chapter is devoted to each star's area of expertise – Ted on food and wine, Kyan on grooming, Thom on decorating, Carson on fashion and Jai on culture. The pages are chock-full of color, including quality photos, "hiptips" and "straightguyFAQ" boxes appear on almost every other page. Each chapter contains one or more lists of five items, such as classics every man should own, elements of a perfect shave, and dishes not to order on a date. Underneath the humor and the occasional sexual innuendo are the book's strength and appeal: sincere, commonsense advice on how to be "you–only better."

Even though it's directed at guys, I found it interesting and funny.

Friday, 23 December 2005

Christmas overload?

There is a house (at Brock/Dundas W) not far from us that really gets into the holiday season every year. And though it doesn't seem possible, every year they seem to add another decoration and/or light. These pictures don't do it justice.


Thursday, 22 December 2005

Book ~ "An Idiot Girl's Christmas" (2005) Laurie Notaro

From Goodreads ~ It’s the most wonderful - and most dreadful - season of the year, when boxes of truffles attack your thighs, drunken holiday revelers stay long past their welcome, and your grandmother has conniptions at the department store over the price of hand lotion. Welcome to Laurie Notaro’s Christmastime. 

In ten brand-new stories and three previously published favorites, Notaro shares the sidesplitting daily disasters of the holidays, like finding herself on emergency feminine product recon at midnight on Christmas Eve; surrendering to the inevitable Horrible Gift Parade by simply asking for holiday dish towels and giant white underpants from Sears; battling the morons in line at the Seventh Circle of Hell, otherwise known as the do-it-yourself craft store; and trying to live down her reputation as the Most Unfun Christmas Party Guest Ever, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding involving a fake overdose and emergency paramedics. 

So whether you find yourself at the Dull and Smart Party or the Raucous and Stupid Party this holiday season, you’ll always know where to find Laurie - just follow the chocolate trail over to the cheese platter. She’ll be the one dialing the cops.

Loved it!

It's a quick read ~ I read it in a day. I really enjoy her writing style ~ it's sarcastic and funny.

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Our Christmas decorations


Gord and I aren't big on Christmas and we don't put up a tree. One of the few things we do is put up lights outside on the terrace.

We live in a condo in a townhouse ~ there are 180 condos in all and ours is a lower unit. A lot of the units decorate their terraces and balconies so it's cool with everyone doing their own thing.

This is our terrace this year ~ and you can see the lights (five stars) we put up inside on the living room window. The snow makes a nicer effect.

Book ~ "Milkrun" (2001) Sarah Mlynowski


From Amazon.com ~ Jackie Norris' jaw drops when she gets an email from her boyfriend, Jeremy, telling her that he's seeing someone else in Thailand, where he has gone to "find himself." A harried 24-year-old copy editor at a romance publisher, Jackie decides to be proactive and speed up the process of getting over Jeremy by dating other men. But the men she meets are disappointing: a handsome stud she went to high school with is both rude and a lousy kisser, and it turns out that the goodlooking intellectual is still living with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Jackie's roommate, Sam, separates from her longtime boyfriend and goes from being a devoted girlfriend to single girl extraordinaire, making Jackie envious. The only good guy in Jackie's life seems to be Jeremy's friend Andrew, but just as Jackie starts to fall for him, Jeremy reenters her life. Though at times annoyingly neurotic, Jackie is a likable heroine, and twentysomething singles will relate to her frustrating search for love in a big city.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the writing style ~ funny and sarcastic. The character is very quirky and I felt at times I was sitting next to her with a glass of wine and listening to her go on and on (but in a good way!). There are lots of typos ~ very ironic given what Jackie does for a living.

I'm looking forward to reading more of her books. A couple months ago, I read her Bras and Broomsticks. Though it's directed at teens, it was enjoyable.

Monday, 19 December 2005

Elmhurst Spa, Toronto, ON


I had fun tonight with friends and new friends at the Elmwood Spa. I had a 50 minute Swedish massage which was followed by supper. The Elmwood is great because you can sit in the fancy restaurant in just your robe!

I had a mixed green salad, cornish hen and apple crumble with pecan ice cream for dessert ~ a couple glasses of sparkling wine. The servers were very attentive and kept us stocked with bread and water.

Thanks to Angie for arranging this!

Sunday, 18 December 2005

Book ~ "The Bad Girl's Guide to Getting Personal" (2004) Cameron Tuttle

From Amazon.com ~ We're talking relationships, Bad Girl style. Get real, get close, get Bad with anyone, anytime -- friends, family, lovers, of course, but don't forget your hairdresser, bartender, landlord, dry cleaner, taxi driver, boss, dog, and telemarketer. Discover when to prune your family tree, when to flirt, and when it's time to start or end a relationship. Special sections such as Can This Relationship Be Saved?, Notes to Self, and Personal Power Steering offer hundreds of smart tips and clever tricks with a healthy dose of Bad Girl wisdom. Witty, warm, and packed with sassy charm, this is why being Bad is so darn good.

Quick fun read.

Thursday, 15 December 2005

Philthy McNasty's, Toronto, ON

Philthy McNasty's has opened a new restaurant on King W where the Peel Pub used to be. What a difference! It's really cool in there now. They've changed the seating style to include not only tables/chairs but also booths. And each booth has its own TV. And there's huge TVs on all the walls. And loud tunes (rock, country, etc.) playing.

I had a Meatza Pizza Calzone which was good. For dessert, I split a Banana Blast ~ banana muffin sauteed with pieces of banana, carmelized butter and toffee sauce which comes with vanilla ice cream. Very yummy!

I'd definitely go back as it has a fun atmosphere.

December 20 ~ I had lunch with Trish (not the Trish who just had a birthday) here today. I had a bacon cheese burger with fries. The patty is really big (1/2 pound). The fries were good. Trish had some kind of chicken wrap that didn't look too bad.

December 26 - I ordered medium wings ~ they were okay. I'd get hot or suicide next time.

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Book ~ "Hunger Point: A Novel" (1997) Jillian Medoff

From Amazon. com ~ This novel attempts to unravel the familial and social pressures that drive two sisters into a life of serious food abuse. One survives, the other doesn't. Frannie, though she does not succumb completely to anorexia, is near the breaking point and Hunger Point takes us along on her painful and often funny emotional odyssey of rebirth, detailed with her family's embattled love and her own self-loathing. Food is not the only matter of the body that is treated brilliantly; the author's soul-baring depiction of both the miseries and pleasures of sex from a woman's point of view is unforgettable and occasionally terrifying.

Though it’s not a happy story, I enjoyed this book. I liked the writing style and felt for the main character, Frannie, and all that she went through.

I won pizza!

Whenever I go to a restaurant, I always put my business card in their bowl or box to win a free meal (or whatever they will be drawing for). I've won a few things over the years. I won 20 Yuk Yuk tickets three times. I also won a wing party for up to ten people at Hooters.

I got a call today from Lasan at Pizza Pizza. She told me that I've won a large pizza with three tops every month for a year (so that's twelve pizzas in total). Whoohoo!!! I LOVE pizza!!!!!

December 19 update: Got the envelope with the year supply of pizza coupons today. Whoohoo!!!

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Book ~ "Storm: A Motorcycle Journey of Love, Endurance and Transformation" (2000) Allen Noren


From Amazon. com ~ It's clear reading Allen Noren's travel memoir, Storm, that some trips just weren't meant to be. Yet take a really good writer, expose him to adverse conditions, toss in tragically bad weather, and what do you get? In this case, a beautifully written, stirring story that gets better and better as the journey worsens. A diehard traveler, Noren had been exploring the far corners of the world for years when he and his girlfriend, Suzanne, plotted out an adventurous, three-month route around the Baltic Sea. They considered traveling by kayak, by car, and eventually settled on the idea of riding a motorcycle (or rather, Noren settled on the idea and managed to convince his girlfriend that the bike would be the way to go). While Noren is completely exhilarated by the challenges presented by their used BMW, and indeed, feels totally one with the machine, Suzanne hates it from the get-go. Screaming down the Autobahn in the driving rain at 85 mph, stumbling upon a motorcycle rally full of crazed, alcohol-induced biker revelers, and camping out nightly after long days on the road doesn't hold the same appeal for her that it does for him. The tale works on many levels, but at its best Storm is a poignant account of two people whose dreams have begun to diverge. It is also an exploration of the reasons we travel, how those reasons can change, subtly at first, and then more dramatically, as we do. And finally, it is a descriptive travelogue, full of wonderful passages that bring the landscape of Sweden and Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to life.

Interesting journey about the places they went and the people they met. It’s a trip I’ll probably never make.

Book ~ "The Adventure of Food: True Stories of Eating Everything" (1999) Richard Sterling


From Amazon.com ~ A collection of true stories will make your mouth water while helping you better understand other cultures, through its touching, funny, and sometimes frightening stories of eating.

As with other compilation books, some stories are funny and some are rather boring.

Saturday, 3 December 2005

Christmas Party


My office Christmas party was tonight at the King Edward Hotel. I work for a small company and most of us were there, along with our spouses.

We started with drinks and appetizers and then moved on to the meal (roasted potatoes and cornish hens stuffed with wild rice). Afterwards a lot of us went to the bar for a drink.

I don't get dressed up very often so it was fun to have my hair done and be in a long dress for a change.

2nd Annual Holiday Sale and Showcase

Flyers were delivered this week about a craft sale down the street. It promised over 40 vendors with "fresh, one-of-a-kind" gift ideas - one day only! I love these kinds of things! Monica, Katherine and I were there when it opened. I tried some samples of cookies (cheesy savory shortbread cookies) and truffles. A couple ladies were selling jewellery. A chick was selling teeshirts with cartoons and blood. A fella was selling picture postcards.

Up on the top floor, we discovered a couple selling truffles and baked goods. The chocolate croissants looked amazing. After asking three times for a croissant and Rice Krispie Square, the guy looked at me and asked me if I wanted anything. Duh!! The woman's demeanour was very rude ~ needless to say we didn't buy much from them.

The One of a Kind Craft Show is in town right now not far away. It's HUGE! I used to go to it every year but I find it too pricey and fancy now. Anyway, I don't think they have much to worry about.

Book ~ "Take Me With You : A Round-the-World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home" (2002) Brad Newsham

From Amazon.com ~ After two decades of travels around the world, Brad Newsham decides to pack his bags again to return the gift of magic that travel has brought into his life. His plan is to give a little of that back to someone he meets along the way - to invite a new untraveled friend to visit him, all-expenses paid, in America. Over 100 days, he travels through the Philippines, India, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

This is an excellent book! Brad travelled to many places that I have no plans to go - plus he did it very frugally - so it was interesting to read about his adventures. It sounds like he met a lot of interesting people along the way with the goal of inviting someone to his home for a month.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Book ~ "Shitting Pretty: How to Stay Clean and Healthy While Traveling" (2000) Jane Wilson-Howarth


From Amazon.com ~ International travel is rewarding and a great deal of fun but sometimes it exacts a price. Activities we take for granted--eating, bathing, and going to the bathroom--can range from challenging to risky in unfamiliar territory. Dr. Wilson-Howarth knows plenty about these quandaries, having spent eleven years running health clinics and doing research in the Himalayas. In Shitting Pretty, she takes a humorous, sympathetic approach to one of the most basic human activities, interweaving anecdotes from fellow travelers with sensible tips and techniques for how to avoid diarrhea, parasites, and scary diseases such as malaria, typhoid, and hepatitis. Dr. Wilson-Howarth covers the basics of how to eat and drink safely, explains symptoms and cures, and also tells why gastrointestinal diseases--the traveler's most common complaint--occur.

Quick read about how to protect yourself when you are travelling. The actual experiences of people are funny.

Mt. Everest Restaurant, Toronto, ON

From Toronto.com ~ Mt. Everest Restaurant, newly opened in the Annex with a menu of South Asian mainstays, is staking a claim on Toronto's taste buds in the shadow of one of the most popular Indian spots -- the mighty Nataraj. Success in such a competitive market may require Sherpa-like tenacity and a mountain of luck. But Mt. Everest gets a boost from a supplemental bill of Nepali fare, touted as the city's first.

This is the second time I've been there. There's not a lot of choice in the buffet ~ two chicken, one goat, one rice, and a couple of vegetarian. The Tandoori chicken is good. The buttered chicken is okay ~ the sauce is good but they use very bony pieces. Today the first batch of rice was cold and crunchy. Though I left full, given a choice, I probably won't go back.

But I got some exercise as I walked there and back (about 45 minutes each way).

Saturday, 26 November 2005

Book ~ "Last Trout in Venice: The Far-Flung Escapades of an Accidental Adventurer" (2001) Doug Lansky

From Amazon.com ~ Doug Lansky ventured from the peak of Kilimanjaro to Berlin's erotic Kit Kat Club to Sweden's 100 guest-capacity Ice Hotel (rebuilt each winter just north of the Arctic Circle) to a Texas cattle auction where the auctioneers "talk more and say less than a room full of presidential candidates" and lived to write Last Trout in Venice: The Far-Flung Escapades of an Accidental Adventurer. Some of his destinations are truly strange and, evidently for good reason, truly obscure though readers will definitely get a laugh from Lansky's tenure (one day) as a bellboy in Jules' Undersea Lodge (scuba access only capacity: four guests), 20 feet underwater.

Excellent book! His stories of his adventures are very funny. Much better than the Jennifer Leo series.

Friday, 25 November 2005

Book ~ "Kiss My Tiara : How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess" (2001) Susan Jane Gilman

From Amazon.com ~ Kiss My Tiara challenges The Rules and backlash books like In Defense of Modesty. Designed to help women 18-35 catch a life, not a husband, it's funny and politically irreverent, with chapters such as "Nevermind a Penis, We'll Take a Paycheck" and "How to Deal with Lunatics, Perverts and Right-wing Republicans." Like The Rules, it's based on wisdom the author received from her grandmother--except her grandmother was a feisty, gin-drinking feminist. Gilman is indignant at the mindlessness of aerobics classes, refuses to subscribe to the belief that thin thighs are more important than brains and chutzpah, and believes that if you have trouble asking for dessert you'll never be able to ask for a raise. Sprinkled with her grandmother's affirmative aphorisms ("If God didn't want us to play with ourselves, she would have made our arms shorter"), the book covers the gamut of a woman's world--relationships, money, self-esteem, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the guilt of ordering french fries. Gilman's is a sage, insightful, and witty voice in a confusing time that will make women laugh while teaching them to feel entitled, confident, and empowered.

Okay book ~ not great. Funny and crude in places.

Book ~ "Whose Panties are These? More Misadventures from Funny Women on the Road" (2004) Jennifer Leo

From Amazon.com ~ This is the second in a series of women's travel humor capitalizes on that phenomenon with more stories of female misadventure around the world. Readers laugh, cry, and commiserate with these women through their memorable mishaps such as gorging on Lebanese chicken to increase their breast size, battling tick paranoia in an Ozark campground, evading the demands of the Turkish mafia, getting even with a prank-fueled convention co-worker, and trolling for straight men in gay London.

As with Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road, some of the stories are funny but some are boring. It's a quick read, though.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Book ~ "Getting Thin and Loving Food : 200 Easy Recipes to Take You Where You Want to Be" (2004) Kathleen Daelemans


From Amazon.com ~ This sequel to the bestselling Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, from the host of the Food Network's popular show of the same name, is as much of a self-help book as a cookbook. Chef Kathleen's secret to losing weight is a matter of behavior modification rather than self-deprivation: set a goal, meet it, reward yourself and repeat. The trick is smaller portions of protein on a plate loaded up with creative fruit and vegetable sides. Although the book's chatty, pep-talking tone can be a bit much, it's so full of great ideas readers won't mind what it's missing: extra calories.

Light on info, heavy on recipes. It came highly recommended in one of my fitness magazines but I found it so-so.

Saturday, 19 November 2005

Food and Wine Expo ~ Toronto

I went to the Food and Wine Expo twice this weekend. I went with Yvette on Friday night and with Gord tonight. It's $15 to get in and then you buy sample tickets at 50 cents each. Then you go around sampling stuff ~ wine, beer, coolers, food, etc. What you sample determines how many tickets it is. There are about 250 vendors.

Friday night, Yvette and I finished the night with a 25 minute lesson from Turning Leaf. They paired three wines (one white and two red) with foods to bring out the flavors. Gord and I sat in on the Cayman Island cooking demonstration. Our favorite spot of the night was a girl from Yellow Tail ~ she was giving generous pours.

It's been a while since I'd gone to the show. It's fun to try different wines and see which ones we liked. We are going to make this an annual event.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Book ~ "Thin for Life" (2003) Anne Fletcher


From Amazon.com ~ What a novel idea: if you want to know how to successfully lose weight, study the real experts--the people who have done it! Registered dietician Anne Fletcher did just that. She surveyed 160 "masters" who succeeded in losing at least 20 pounds and keeping the weight off for at least 3 years. This was the minimum; most lost far more weight--an average of 63 pounds--and more than one-third have kept the weight off for a decade or more. How did they do it? Thin for Life presents their success stories, strategies, motivation, inspiration, and tricks. Most had tried "many times and many ways" to lose weight before discovering what worked for them and how to prevent and recover from relapses. Fletcher compiles the "10 keys to success" that emerged most often, lets the masters speak for themselves throughout the book, and fills in additional, valuable information and resources. Whether you have 10 pounds to lose or 100, this book will help you do it--safely, effectively, and permanently.

Excellent book! It's not your usual "how to" book. It's filled with people's own experiences, tips, etc.

Saturday, 12 November 2005

Book ~ "Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road" (2003) Jennifer Leo


From Amazon.com ~ Travel writer, Leo, has collected 28 short and snappy travel stories. Many of these bite-size reminiscences chronicle personal ordeals endured in places with unfamiliar amenities, languages and/or cultures. For example, Christie Eckardt's elastically challenged underwear falls down in a Muslim country and Nancy Bartlett's "Panic, in Any Other Language," describing an embarrassing incident in an opulent Italian swimsuit boutique.

A quick read. Most of the stories are funny ~ a couple were boring and hard to get through.

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Book ~ "Food and Loathing" (2003) Betsy Lerner

From Amazon.com ~ Lerner reveals her lifelong struggle with compulsive eating and mental illness. She joined Overeaters Anonymous at age 15 and rigorously adopted the 12-step program. A year later, she was prescribed lithium, though side effects soon forced her to quit the drug. Unmedicated and with an insensitive therapist, Lerner began her inevitable descent. While enrolled in the M.F.A. program at Columbia University, she came close to committing suicide, and this desperate act led to her voluntary admittance to the psych ward at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Her experience there and at the New York State Psychiatric Institute is the heart of this book.

I had heard some good things about this book so was looking forward to reading it. It's a good story ~ very honest about the author's battle with her weight and manic depression. I found it depressing at times but an interesting read.

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Lazy kids!


If there is reincarnation, I want to come back as one of our "kids". Here they are at 4:00 on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

"Shear Madness", Stage West, Toronto, ON


From Stage West ~ Back by popular demand, Shear Madness is truly a "whodunit" mystery, especially since "who dun it" can change every performance! It's the hilarious whodunit where the audience the helps solve the crime. The play is named in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-running non-musical play in American theatre history! It ran in Boston over 17 years and in Chicago over 15 years.

Gord and I saw it this afternoon at Stage West and it was really good. It's funny and quick. And it's interactive so the audience solves the mystery. What was especially funny with this performance is that the actors kept losing it and couldn't stop laughing at times, which the audience appreciated.

Friday, 4 November 2005

New York Subway, Toronto, ON

We'd read somewhere that New York Subway on Queen Street W boasts that they have the best burritos. They were on our way home from Just for Laughs so we thought we would check them out.

The restaurant is really small and popular ~ there was a constant stream of people going in and out. You order from the burrito maker at the counter. He seemed cranky and I couldn't really understand what he was asking me. I ordered a jumbo chicken burrito and got confused when he asked me if I wanted potatoes on it. Potatoes? He must be saying tomatoes. Nope, he was offering up potatoes. There's not a big selection of fillings: tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce and onions. Not a big fan of lettuce or onions so I passed on them.

The burrito was tasty but more of a wrap than a burrito. There was no cheese, beans or rice. The sauce was mayo. I doubt I will go back. Burrito Boyz is still my fav!

Black Bull, Toronto, ON

From Toronto.com ~ There's nothing wild about the Black Bull. In fact, it's rather civilized. This decades-old watering hole is a favourite place to meet up with friends over a pint or two after an exhausting day of work or shoe shopping. Not to mention the perfect place to people watch. Located on the northeast corner of Queen and Soho, the Black Bull is as much of a fixture in this cool 'hood as the tourists and trendanistas -- probably the reason why it's always busy with brewsters. Don't be surprised if you have to share a table with a few strangers from Bulgaria. The clientele is less about bling bling and more about beer beer and wings, of course. Go elsewhere if you want martinis-and-mussels, and want to strut in your best threads. Picture this: a bunch of plastic tables and chairs caged in by a metal fence. Décor aside, not even the absence of umbrellas on the hottest days can deter this crowd. So lather on the sunscreen and don't forget your shades. There's an extensive beer selection and a few coolers and wine, but, sorry, ladies, no fancy girlie drinks sold here. Food is also pretty basic. Expect typical pub-fare -- good and greasy --just the way you want it. But they also bake pizzas to order. Words of warning: try to avoid sitting close to the fence unless you don't mind being approached by the many vendors and vagrants that stroll up and down this popular strip. And last but not least, sit back, relax and experience one of Toronto's most diverse cultural communities.

Yes, we were able to hit a patio tonight!

After Just for Laughs, we stopped at the Black Bull on our way home.

The patio was about half full.

Our waitress was very cranky and slow so we only stayed for one beer.

I've been on the patio of the Black Bull before and it's an excellent place to people watch as there's so much wildlife on Queen Street W.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Book ~ "I'm Not the New Me" (2005) Wendy McClure

From Amazon.com ~ When McClure, a 33-year-old children's book editor from Chicago, creates a website to chronicle losing weight, she contemplates possible names for it. She rejects My Weight Loss Journey, Soon To Be Slender, My Body Journal and Funky Flesh, which she decides "has bad B.O. connotations," before choosing Pound (its Web address is www.poundy.com because www.pound.com wasn't available). In this funny, likable memoir, McClure offers sardonic commentary on both projects—her struggle to shed pounds and the creation and growth of Pound—from confessing how much she wants a special Weight Watchers magnet (the token the program gives to members when they lose their first 25 pounds) to describing a shopping trip to Lane Bryant. McClure's narrative also includes selections of emails from appreciative, devoted Pound readers, accounts of online dating woes and some recollections of her childhood.

I found this memoir funny, stark and honest. I've started checking her blog on a regular basis.

Sunday, 30 October 2005

Book ~ "The Dish: On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! " (2004) Carolyn O'Neil and Densie Webb

From Amazon.com ~ The authors draw on their experiences to create "a girlfriend's guide to eating out, eating in, entertaining, and traveling." Though they claim it's "the very first diet book for glamour girls of all ages and sizes," it's actually more of a lifestyle book, likely to appeal to the demographic of women who read fitness magazines and have 15 or fewer pounds to lose, or want to maintain a healthy weight while living a busy, changing life. The authors give "the dish" on nutrition, eating in, dining out, drinking, exercising, dressing to maximize your assets and even cheating (in moderation), with each author occasionally sharing a personal experience or preference.

Entertaining but fluffy. Good general book if you aren't looking for a lot of details and don't know anything about nutrition, exercise, etc.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

Dogs Rule!

OK, so…what’s the deal with dogs? They sniff places they shouldn’t.
They want to go in when they’re out
And out when they’re in.
And they’re more trouble
Than a two year old
Why, then, do we love them so much?

Could it be they fill a need
Deep within us for a loyal friend?
A companion who doesn’t care
What we look like
Or how much we weigh?
Fact is, they totally adore us
When we are way less than adorable.
They never breach a confidence,
And they’re always
Watching out for us
With that irresistible,
Goofy, puppy dog look
On their face.
(And best of all,
They don’t get all hot and bothered
When we pet them.)

Surely there has never been a more devoted
And affectionate creature
Than this bundle of unconditional love
With a hairy face!

© 2003 Suzy Toronto

Cats Rule!

Admit it.
We’re suckers for purr and fur.
We simply can’t resist
The lavish nudging of
A fuzzy face,
Or the soothing vibration
Of a throaty rumble.
We love them to curl up with us
When we’re having a bad day,
And lovingly
Push their foreheads into ours.
We even tolerate their sharp little claws
Pawing at us
When they need to knead.

But what I love most are
“kitty kisses…”
When they slowly squeeze
Their slumbering eyes
And send us a trusting wink.

Whatever the reasons,
We are hooked.
Sure, we may be the goddesses
In our homes…
But it’s the cat that rules!

© 2004 Suzy Toronto

Friday, 28 October 2005

Ghosts of the Garrison Walking Tour, Toronto, ON

Tonight Gord and I went on the Ghosts of the Garrison Walking Tour at Fort York.

Fort York is just a couple of blocks from where we live. This week they have been having tours of the Fort at night in honour of Halloween. They started with hot chocolate and ginger bread soldier cookies. Then we moved around the Fort with a guide telling ghost stories. He dropped us off at four different buildings where ghosts tell stories. It was very entertaining and well worth the $10 admission for 2.5 hours of entertainment.

The settlement of modern Toronto began in 1793 when Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe built a garrison on the present site of Fort York. Fearful of war with the United States, Simcoe planned to establish a naval base at Toronto in order to control Lake Ontario. Civilian settlement followed and a community named York began to grow two kilometres east of the fort (York was renamed Toronto in 1834). In 1812, the United States declared war and invaded Canada. On the 27th of April 1813, the U.S. Army and Navy attacked York with 2,700 men on 14 ships and schooners. The defenders put up a strong fight but fell back to Fort York in the face of overwhelming odds, eventually abandoning the fort and town to the enemy. In the autumn of that year, the British returned to Toronto and built the fortification that stands today. Fort York’s cannon and earthworks became obsolete in the 1880s, although the army continued to use the fort for training, barracks, offices and storage until the 1930s. Fort York opened as an historic site museum in 1934. Today, Fort York is home to Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings.

Sunday, 23 October 2005

Book ~ "Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse" (2005) Phyllis Diller

From Amazon.com ~ Brash comedy and bitterness fuel this account of Diller's drive to make it big. Born to elderly parents in Lima, Ohio, in 1917, Phyllis Ada Driver was blessed with neither beauty nor wealth. At 20 and already pregnant, she married Sherwood Diller, a handsome, selfish ne'er-do-well who became the "Fang" in her comic monologues of domestic life; the couple had five children. Nearly 40 when she began her performing career, Diller turned a knack for relentless self-deprecation into a nightclub act.

Interesting read.

Lawrenceville Restaurant, Virgil, ON

On our way home from Niagara on the Lake, we stopped at the Lawrenceville Restaurant for breakfast. It's just outside of Niagara on the Lake in Virgil. It's a small family type place.

I had the biggest pancakes I've ever seen. They were good but HUGE! Gord had his usual bacon and eggs.

Our waitress wasn't all that warm and fuzzy ~ until it came time for the bill. Then she was very friendly ~ no doubt sucking up for a tip.

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Olde Angel Inn Pub, Niagara on the Lake, ON


Gord and I ended up eating at the Olde Angel Inn Pub both Friday and Saturday nights. We wanted to go to a pub and that seemed to be the only one around. It was packed both nights but we waited at the bar until we got a table.

I had fish and chips both nights ~ it was good. Gord had fish and chips Friday night and a Reuben sandwich and fries Saturday night (there was lots of meat).

We'd definitely eat there when we go back to Niagara on the Lake. The food is good and it has a fun atmosphere.

The Olde Angel Inn on Urbanspoon

Tetley's, Niagara on the Lake, ON

After the play, it was still raining so we didn't want to go too far.

We stopped in at Tetley's for a drink.

It's a snooty place and we just had a beer at the bar. The menu seems pricey and fancy with sushi and stone grill items. There was a steady stream of people coming in and it seemed that all the tables were reserved.

Would we go back? Probably not.

The Queen's Landing, Niagara on the Lake, ON

We spent Friday to today at the Queen's Landing in Niagara on the Lake. The manager is a friend of a client of mine and he gave us a special price. We were expecting a regular room but were quite shocked and thrilled to discover that we had a suite ~ it was huge!

And my eyes were drawn right away to a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries on the desk. Very yummy! The room had a king sized bed, a fire place, a view of the River and a jacuzzi in the bathroom. At night, they turned down the bed and left a room on the pillow. We felt very spoiled.

The hotel is very nice. There is a pool with salt water. The hot tub was very very hot.

In the evenings, we had a cocktail at Bacchus, the lounge.

It rained all weekend so we weren't able to walk around as much as we'd like but we still had a great time!

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Daniel's Ark, Caledon, ON

We went to Daniel's Ark today with Single Horizons. Daniel's Ark is a wildlife preserve. When we got there, we were expecting it to be lame but it turned out to be quite interesting.

Daniel gave us the tour (that's him with Turney, a lynx). He is very knowledgeable and passionate about his animals. On the preserve are coyotes, wolves, lynx, bobcats, foxes, minks and cougars.

After the couple hours tour, we had sandwiches and salads in the lodge.

Saturday, 15 October 2005

C'est What?, Toronto, ON


From Toronto.com ~ Although C'est What regularly plays host to a variety of musical acts, it is definitely best-suited to quieter and mellower performances. The comfortable chairs and couches and the low lighting make it easy to sit back and absorb the sounds coming from the stage, which are often a mix of eclectic pop and edgy indie acts. The munchies ($7-$12) are as diverse as the crowd, with pastas, pizzas, a daily curry special and several other international dishes. Saturdays it's a hot spot for brunch. The pub is divided into two distinct halves. The Church Street entrance leads to the band room, the Front Street entrance to the restaurant/cafe/bar area. Both sides are licensed.

In last week's Globe and Mail, there was an article about bars in Canada that support craft breweries. One in Toronto is C'est What?. Since neither of had been there before, we like beer and were in the area (it's near St. Lawrence Market), we checked it out.

It's in the cellar of an old building and has a jazzy theme (there was a quintet playing New Orleans-style jazz when we were there).

I tried the Ephemere Apple beer and liked it so stuck with it. Gord, on the other hand, tried three different ones.

We had a good time there and will go back.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Village Pub, Toronto, ON

Gord and I walk home from work pretty well every day and we pass by a backpackers' hostel called Global Village Backpackers.

They have a patio on the side called the Village Pub and we've wondered what it was like. It seems pretty lively. So we stopped in tonight on our way home.

It was packed with lots of younger travellers drinking pitchers of beer. We sat at one of the picnic tables and had a beer. Inside the tunes were cranked, people were shooting pool, chatting and dancing.

We'll definitely check it out again.

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Book ~ "Such a Girl" (2005) Karen V. Siplin

From Amazon.com ~ Nine years ago, Kendall Stark ended a relationship with the love of her life. As her college friends never tired of telling her, Jack was going nowhere fast. Now Kendall is 31, working as an operator at a prestigious New York hotel and listening in on the personal calls of the celebrity guests, while she carries on a doomed affair with a married colleague. And while deep down she knows she should be leading a more fulfilling life, Kendall believes she is content with the choices she has made. Until the morning Jack reappears. Only now, Jack is the wealthy owner of a New England brewery, and he's staying in the hotel where Kendall works. His unexpected return leads her to rethink all the assumptions she ever made about success, love, and happiness and forces Jack to decide if he can ever forgive the woman who broke his heart so many years ago.

I enjoyed the writing ~ it was in a fun style. The book was a bit too long, though ~ it didn't have to take as long as it did and tended to drag at times. The ending was predictable and seemed to wrap up very quickly and unbelieveably. I found it hard to believe that she had been unconsciously pining for nine years for someone she felt compelled to break up with because her friends didn't like him (though they like him now that he's rich).

Casino Rama, Orillia, ON

It was a rainy day so we decided to drive to Orillia (about an hour away) to check out Casino Rama. I've never been there before. Though I'm not a big gambler, I was interested in seeing what it was like. They have a great facility ~ big casino, hotel and entertainment centre (Engelbert Humberdinck was playing tonight).

I find the slots really boring. This summer Gord taught me how to play roulette and I find that fun. So I sat down with $100 ~ that's the most I was willing to lose. After I won a couple times, I set aside $100. Then I won more and I set another $100 aside. The rest (about $80) was now the most I was willing to lose. If nothing else, I was going home doubling my money. And that's what happened. It cost me $100 to win another $100 and I had a couple hours of fun. Gord came away with a profit of $82 (he also was playing with $100).

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Book ~ "The Roofer" (2004) Erica Orloff

From Amazon.com ~ Ava O'Neil grew up within the embrace of New York City's most infamous Irish gang, The Westies. Her father was the Roofer, named for his penchant for throwing enemies from the rooftops of Hell's Kitchen tenements. Raised by her father and two members of his crew, Ava and her brother witnessed events of violence and torment, as well as moments of loyalty and dignity.

Very deep and dark ~ totally different from her other funny light stuff.