Sunday, November 27, 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, November 26, 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, November 25, 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.

Grace O'Malley's, Toronto, ON

We took a co-worker out for lunch today for his birthday.

He wanted to go to Grace O'Malley's. I'd been there for drinks before but hadn't tried anything on the menu.

I had a craving for wings so that's what I got. The menu says that they are plump ~ that they were. I ordered honey garlic wings and fries and they were messy but good.

My co-workers had Irish stew, hamburger and fries, and Philly steak sandwich with fries. All looked good. Though the restaurant wasn't overly busy, the service was a bit show.

I'd definitely go back there for wings and fries again.

Sunday, November 20, 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.

Ripple Afghan


My mother-in-law, Minnie, gave me a pattern for a knitted afghan - she has made many over the years. It has a ripple effect, hence the name. I started mine in October. I still have a long way to go before it's finished.

Ripple Afghan ~ 49 inches X 66 inches

What do you need?
2 4-oz skeins of dark green knitted worsted weight yarn
3 4-oz skeins of white knitted worsted weight yarn
3 4-oz skeins of hunter green knitted worsted weight yarn
3 4-oz skeins of mint green knitted worsted weight yarn
36 inch needle, size 4mm

Pattern ~ 303 stitches on needle
2 rows dark green
12 rows white
2 rows dark green
12 rows mint green
2 rows dark green
12 rows hunter green

Do this 6 times, then ...

2 rows dark green
12 rows white
2 rows dark green

Row 1
K1, slip 1, K1, passover stitch, *K9, insert needle into next 2 stitches as if to knit them together and slip them, K1, passover 2 slipped*, repeat * to *, K2 together, K1

Row 2
P6, *P into front and back of next stitch, P9*, repeat * to *, P6

Keep repeating these two rows.

I'm making mine with three colours rather than four (because I couldn't find a fourth colour I liked). I'm using black instead of dark green and purple and yellow (my favs) as the main colours.

December 11 update:











January 1 update:











February 25 update:











Finished ~ April 14:


Saturday, November 19, 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, November 16, 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, November 12, 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, November 08, 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, November 06, 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.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hogtown Comedy Festival - Old York Bar and Grill

The Old York is a bar not far from home. It apparently has the second oldest liquor license in Toronto. We like to go there and sit on the patio sometimes. Tonight we went with our neighbours, Grant and Jasmine, for supper.

Gord and I have had jerk wings and nachos there before but never a real meal. The menu looks good and the bartender recommended the hamburger. It's made from scratch, rather than frozen from a box. It was okay ~ a bit dry because it was done too much. And there's too much bun (it's a kaiser). The fries were good. We'll definitely go back as we like the patio but maybe I'll stick with the wings.

We stayed for the Hogtown Comedy Festival with the "Drink 'til They're Funny" All-Star Show with our neighbours, Grant and Jasmine. There was a line-up of about six comics. We like stand-up so it had potential. Except for the host, Todd Van Allen, the comics were very amateurish and not funny at all. Grant kept looking over at me all night and mouthing "Thanks, Teena" because this was my idea. Besides the fact that the comics weren't funny, we had a fun time.

Friday, November 04, 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.

Just for Laughs ~ Massey Hall

It was time again for Just for Laughs. This is the third year in a row we have gone. Our seats this time were great ~ front row, just slightly to the right.

This year's show was hosted by Shaun Majumder. I'm not usually a big fan of his but he did a good job this time. There was a boy in the front row who was about ten. Shaun zoomed in on him right away, made a joke about him soon getting pubic hair and called him Pubes for the rest of the show (as did some of the other comedians). Ha!

Also on the show were:

Scott Faulconbridge - from Montreal
Rocky LaPorte - from Chicago
Ryan Belleville - from Calgary
Rod "Rodman" Thompson - from Atlanta
Carl Barron - from Australia

Though they were all funny, Carl was my least favorite.

Thursday, November 03, 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.

Cat wine bottles


Gord let me know this morning that he saw two newly issued cat wine bottles ~ in purple and lavender (purple is one of my favorite colours!). I've been collecting them for about four years and have them in 14 different colours. The wine inside is Reisling, which I like, but I've never actually opened one to see how it is.

I scampered over at lunch time and got one of each for myself ~ and also a set for my sister, Sarah, who also collects them. We're huge kitty lovers!