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 ~ 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 ~ 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 ~ 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.


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 ~ 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 ~ 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.

Sunday 18 December 2005

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

From ~ 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 ~ 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 ~ 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.