Sunday 31 December 2006

New Years Eve

We celebrated 2007 at home. Gord BBQed a delish supper of steak and potatoes.

I called Sister Sarah at 11:10pm. She is in Halifax and is an hour ahead of us and we yakked for a while.

Gord and I rolled in 2007 watching the celebrations on City Pulse.

New Years Eve at the Old York

On our way home from the CN Tower, we stopped off for a couple drinks at the Old York Tavern, a pub in our 'hood (they have Toronto's second oldest liquor license).

There were a couple bands scheduled to play. We stayed for the first set of the first band, Joane McKell and the Paradise Riders. They played older country songs.

CN Tower, Toronto, ON

We walked to the CN Tower today (about a 30 minute walk).

The CN Tower from home

We're almost there ...

Home from the CN Tower

Looking down from the glass floor (1122 feet up)

The downtown core

Gord in Horizons, the restaurant on the Look Out level (1136 feet up)

Me at Horizons (1136 feet up)

Facts about the CN Tower:
  • Opened in 1976
  • In 1995, was classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World
  • Skypod is 1465 feet up
  • Look Out/Horizons is 1136 feet up
  • Glass floor is 1122 feet up

Friday 29 December 2006

Gord's new ink

Gord got another tattoo this afternoon. We went back to Black Line Studio where we got our tattoos in October.

He got into fencing (saber) last fall through an event we did with Single Horizons and wanted a tattoo of his sword.

Gord and Anthony


Wednesday 27 December 2006

I finished my afghan!

I finished my afghan tonight. It was an easy pattern.

You start at one corner and, when it's half the size you want it to be, you start decreasing and end up with the opposite corner. It's a square.

Tuesday 26 December 2006

Boxing Day

We started our afternoon with a movie at the Paramount downtown ... Children of Men with Clive Owen and Julianne Moore.

Set in 2027, when no child has been born for 18 years and science is at loss to explain the reason, African and East European societies collapse and their dwindling populations migrate to England and other wealthy nations. In a climate of nationalistic violence, a London peace activist turned bureaucrat, Theo Faron, joins forces with his revolutionary ex-wife, Julian, in order to save mankind by protecting a woman who has mysteriously became pregnant.

A different kind of movie than what I usually go to see but it was Gord's turn to pick as I picked yesterday's. It was a good movie though I found it very depressing.

After the movie, we stopped in Jeremiah's Bullfrog for a drink. We'd seen it recently on Restaurant Makeover and wanted to see what it looked like now. The bartender was very stressed because the beer taps weren't working and the place smelled funny ... like a kitty litter box.

We walked through the Eaton Centre, Toronto's downtown mall, and up Yonge Street a bit to see how many people were out and about looking for Boxing Day sales. There were tons of people walking the street and in the stores, even lined up outside stores.

We had supper at St. Louis down by the Rogers' Centre ... who can resist their wing night?

Happy Boxing Day!

Boxing Day is a continuation of the Christmas holiday in Europe and the Commonwealth countries.

In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. On December 26, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.

In Canada, Boxing Day is observed as a holiday, except for those in the retail business. Boxing Day and the days immediately following are when many retail stores sell their Christmas and retired model products by holding clearance sales. Some shoppers will line up for hours for retailers to open their doors. Retailers often open their stores earlier than usual, such as 6am or 7am.

Boxing Day 2005 was the single largest economic transaction day ever in the history of Canadian commerce (according to Visa). Individual big box stores can even gross over $1,000,000(CN) on one single boxing day.

Monday 25 December 2006

Christmas Day

We had a nice Christmas Day.

We slept in. Gord made us a breakfast of sausages, homefries and eggs (I passed on the eggs).

Gord and I don't exchange gifts. Instead we'll buy theatre tickets next month (when they go on sale) for two plays in Stratford for this summer.

We saw The Holiday at the Queensway this afternoon.

Movie trailer editor, Amanda of Los Angeles, and journalist, Iris, of Surrey, England, live five thousand miles apart and have never met but are dealing with the same problem: men. Amanda having just broken up with her cheating boyfriend, Ethan, and Iris having pined for her ex, Jasper, becoming engaged to the woman he left her for, decide to take a vacation during Christmas. They come upon a website called Home Exchange and swap houses for two weeks, both with a goal of forgetting their troubled love lives. But love ends up finding them anyway. Amanda starts a romance with Iris' older brother, Graham, a book editor, and Iris starts a romance with a movie composer named Miles. With new found romance, both their lives change forever.

It was okay ... I was expecting it to be more of a comedy.

Since it's just the two of us, we don't do a turkey. Instead we do a couple cornish hens. Gord made a glaze of jam (apricot preserves isn't a staple in our place), butter and Grand Marnier.

Cornish hen, rice and Stove Stuffin'

Then I talked with Sister Sarah for a couple hours to hear how her Christmas was.

Saturday 23 December 2006

Christmas with Gord's family

Gord and I headed down to his parents' this morning to spend the weekend. His parents live about 3 hours away, about 30 minutes north of Belleville (east of Toronto). Ken, Gord's son who lives in Hamilton, came with us.

Minnie, Gord's mom, made an amazing supper ... turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, cranberries, pickles, beets, broccoli, corn and gravy. And triffle for dessert!

It was a nice family meal ... Gord and I, Minnie and Keith (Gord's stepfather), Ken, Judy and Doug (Gord's sister and her husband) and Jonathon (Judy and Doug's son who is home from Cold Lake, AB).

After supper, we opened gifts. Gord's family know us so well so give us gift certificates for Milestones and Tim Horton's and movie passes.
Minnie and Keith's tree 

Minnie, me (with my almost finished afghan!) and Judy

Keith and Minnie

Doug, Gord, KC and Ken

Judy and Jonathon
Ken and KC - nap time!
After a three hour drive, a big turkey supper and presents!

Wednesday 20 December 2006

Book ~ "Last Writes" - Laura Levine (2004)

From ~ Wisecracking pen-for-hire, Jaine Austen. is back and she''s about to discover that working on the set of a Hollywood sitcom is no laughing matter. Jaine still hasn''t found a good man or a way to keep all those sugary snacks from going straight to her hips. But with a little help from her best friend Kandi, she''s finally landed a gig as a sitcom writer! True, Muffy 'n Me isn''t going to win any Emmys. And her office at Miracle Studios needs a little sprucing up and a few dozen rat traps. But it sure beats writing boring brochures and bad resumes, so Jaine''s not complaining. Until the plot thickens, with murder. Jaine figures the trouble all started when Muffy 'n Me's hottest star, gorgeous Quinn Kirkland, seduced the head writer, whose husband also works on the show. But when Quinn's caught in bed with the barely-legal actress who plays his niece, things really heat up, and his many jealous girlfriends start to figure things out. So when the no-good heartthrob drops dead after nibbling a poisoned doughnut, Jaine isn't terribly surprised. But who could have done it? A competitive co-star and a couple of scorned lovers top Jaine's list of suspects but the police have zeroed in on her man-crazy pal, Kandi. She fell hard for Quinn and nearly fell apart when she learned of all his other women. Now Jaine has to figure out who finally stopped Quinn's cheatin'' heart before her best friend ends up behind bars.

Another quick funny read. Not too deep but enjoyable.

Monday 18 December 2006

Book ~ "This Pen For Hire" - Laura Levine (2003)

From ~ Humor is the key ingredient in this slick debut by television comedy writer, Levine. Freelancer Jaine Austen (her mother loved the classics but couldn't spell) makes a living writing love letters, personal ads and industrial brochures, but she never expected her work to involve her in murder. When geeky Howard Murdoch hires her to pen a letter proclaiming his love for gorgeous fitness instructor, Stacy Lawrence, no one is more surprised than Jaine when Stacy agrees to go out with Howard on Valentine's Day. But Harold arrives for their date only to find that someone has bludgeoned Stacy to death with a ThighMaster. Feeling some responsibility for the hapless Howard, now the police's only suspect, Jaine starts digging. Stacy might have been beautiful, but most people disliked her. Elaine Zimmer wanted the corner apartment Stacy had just moved into and the building superintendent seemed besotted with her. Then there's the volatile, married producer, not to mention the girlfriend Stacy stole him from. Handsome neighbor, Cameron Bannick, a straight antiques dealer, piques Jaine's interest (she hasn't had a good date in a long time) and becomes a dashing Watson to Jaine's Sherlock. Though her life is in danger, Jaine never loses her sense of humor as the story zips along to an action-filled and surprising climax. Levine delivers the goods and readers who appreciate a heroine with wry, self-deprecating humor will hope Jaine soon gets caught up in another murder.

I enjoyed Levine's Killer Blonde a couple weeks ago so looked for more with this character. It was just as amusing and sarcastic and the ending was a surprise.

Joe Badali's Ristorante Italiano and Bar, Toronto, ON

The annual Chillin' Chicks supper was tonight ... we met at Joe Badali's on Front Street W.

It's the first time all four Chicks (Deb, Franca, Liz and I) have been able to get together since last Christmas. We had lots and lots of laughs!

Teena, Deb, Liz and Franca
Deb, Franca, Teena and Liz
Liz and Deb

Teena and Franca

The Chicks are my oldest and closest friends here in Toronto. We met when we all worked for the same company back in the mid to late 1990s.

Sunday 17 December 2006

Book ~ "The No Fail Diet" - Leslie Beck (2006)

From ~ The No-Fail Diet is a nutritionally balanced, easy-to-follow, and realistic diet plan that will help you lose weight and keep it off permanently. No counting calories, fat grams, or carbohydrate grams – it’s healthy eating plan that fits into real life. The No-Fail Diet will help you:
  • Lose 20 to 30 pounds in 12 weeks
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Look and feel great
  • Increase your energy
  • Stay healthy and active as you age
The No-Fail Diet is complete with:
  • Four flexible weight loss meal plans
  • A day-by-day menu plan with meal and snack ideas and healthy eating tips
  • Over 75 delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes
  • 12-week fitness plan complete with demonstration photographs
  • Tracking tools to keep you motivated and enhance success
Very basic ... good for those who are just starting out to lose weight.

Book ~ "Union Station: Stories of the New Toronto" Joe Fiorito (2006)

From ~ Toronto is the city that Canadians love to hate. But they don’t know this city, says Joe Fiorito. Even Torontonians don’t really know this city because it changes every day. It’s not a finished thing, it’s a work in progress. It’s New York in 1900, arms open wide to welcome the huddling masses.

Union Station is Fiorito’s tour of his adopted city, from his own neighbourhood, Parkdale, through corner stores and local bars, to the suburban high rises that are home to new immigrants, and to the shelters that offer a tough bed to the many homeless. Fiorito’s Toronto exists here, on the street, in places where diverse cultures jostle side by side and where mercy is free.

Fiorito’s subtle and detailed observations of life in the city are matched by his precise, sinuous prose. On every page, these talents provide a dazzling showcase for the vivid, tender stories he crafts. In the end, we have to agree when he says Toronto will not be a fine town when it is finished. It is a fine town because it is unfinished.

I found this book slow to get into and, at one point, was going to give up on it. But I'm glad I stuck with it. Now I'd recommend it.

It's not your usual touristy book. It's a book about the people of Toronto ... the homeless, the elderly, the immigrants, even a drag queen. It's about neighbourhoods (I live just east of Parkdale) and the people who live in them.

Friday 15 December 2006

Elmwood Spa, Toronto, ON

Angie organized us for an evening at the Elmwood Spa ... our second year doing this.

I started with an hour Swedish massage (you know how much I love massages!) and it was amazing! Shelley gave me a deep massage ... just what my stressed-out muscles needed!

Then we had the dining room to ourselves for supper ... in our bathrobes and flip flops!. We started with appetizers ... spring rolls, veggie skewers and sushi.

A glass of real champagne (rather than sparkling wine - though I love sparkling wine) sounded like a nice idea!

Vitra, me, Sobia (our hostess) and Irene
are going to have Mumms!
We had a choice of parsnip soup or greens salad (I had salad) to start, cornish hen or steak and scallop (I had steak but gave Angie my scallop) as the main and chocolate mousse for dessert! Yummy!

Irene, Jen, Yvonne, Angie, Teena, Jen and Vitra

Thursday 14 December 2006

Real Thailand, Toronto, ON

The Boxing Babes met tonight for our monthly supper.

We went to a Thai restaurant called Real Thailand at Bloor W/Spadina. Great choice (thanks for choosing, Susan!) as I love Thai food! My Kang Kheaw Wan Kai (green curry chicken) and rice was delish!

Sonya, Susan, Beata, Yvette, Karen, me, Monica and Trish

Yvette and Sonya

Trish and Karen
Me and Yvette

Monica and I

Susan and Beata

Sunday 10 December 2006

Saturday 9 December 2006

Office 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.

Gord and Teena
stealing gifts from under the tree

Friday 8 December 2006

Gord's Christmas Party

Gord's work Christmas party was tonight at the Savoy Bistro & Lounge. There were about 160 people.

Drinks were served for the first hour or so and then there was a buffet supper. It was kind of wacky, though, because it was hard to find a table to sit down and eat as there weren't many around. But we managed to find one.

Remember Platinum Blonde? They were a Canadian new wave band in the 1980s.

Platinum Blonde 1985-1987

Gord's company hired the bass player, Kenny MacLean, and his band, Rock Through the Ages, to play after supper for a couple hours. Kenny is second from the left in the picture above and in the middle in the picture below. And his hair still looks great!

They covered a variety of stuff by the likes of Led Zepplin, Violent Femmes, Abba, BeeGees, Beatles, Rolling Stones and lots more. They were surprisingly pretty good.

Tuesday 5 December 2006

Book ~ "Strip Poker" - Nancy Bartholomew (2001)

From ~ Sierra Lavotini, the gutsy, busty, blonde exotic dancer who moonlights as a catcher of bad guys, is back for her fourth raunchy and amusing adventure. Sierra, along with her fellow dancers, is out of a job after Vincent Gambuzzo, the dim owner of Tiffany Gentleman's Club, loses it in a poker game. When a gang of hoods bursts into the room to seize the take, in the ensuing fracas one player, Denny, is killed and the bouncer is badly injured. The police, including Sierra's boyfriend, John Nailor, arrest Vincent for murder, since the fatal bullet came from his gun. At Denny's wake, Sierra literally stumbles on another corpse. And so it goes. This girl is a magnet for trouble, as one of her friends points out. But with the help of her familiar supporting cast of characters, notably Raydean, her lovable but certifiable trailer-park neighbor, and Fluffy, her hairless Chihuahua, you can count on Sierra to sort it all out. Sierra displays her usual uninhibited candor and bad grammar, neither of which can be attributed to Sister Frances, a former teacher, whose advice she often gives herself. Sierra and Nailor, now an established couple after a long flirtation, enjoy steamy sex, but unexpected competition enters in the person of "Big Moose" Lavotini, a New Jersey mobster whom Sierra has long claimed sight unseen as her uncle to impress others of his ilk. While the murders are satisfactorily resolved, the author leaves a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up and soon!

Another quick read by the fabulous (I know you are, but what am I??!!) Nancy Bartholomew with a slew of qurky characters that I enjoyed. Was this the last in the series? What happened with Sierra and Nailor??!! Did Raydean return to the mothership?? I've gotta know!!

Saturday 2 December 2006

Book ~ "Film Strip" - Nancy Bartholomew (2001)

From ~ Who's killing the adult film stars at the Tiffany Gentleman's Club? And why? These questions perplex club headliner, Sierra Lavotini, and the Panama City police in this rollicking, steamy tale. Bartholomew moves deftly from screwball comedy to crime scene melodrama, periodically visiting the Tiffany for Sierra's performances. Sierra gets to the bottom of things quickly, her bottom, that is. When porn legend, Venus Lovemotion, is gunned down, a bullet gouges Sierra's derriere, threatening livelihood more than life. Despite the plot's immersion in a subculture synonymous with sleaze, the author avoids moralizing. Don't call Sierra a "stripper." That, she explains, connotes cheap sex. She's an "artist," the best around, and a lapsed Catholic ready to summon a Hail Mary in a pinch. She's also a delightfully acerbic narrator and a fearless detective, abetted by her feisty chihuahua and her trailer park friends, notably zany neighbor Raydean, who guards against suspected space invaders, including homicide detective John Nailor, Sierra's love interest. Bartholomew develops almost as much suspense around their romance as she does around the murderer's identity.

Nancy had suggested I check out her Sierra Lavotini series. So I did!

My flight home was 3 hours late in leaving Halifax (!!) so Sierra and her wacky cast of characters kept me company during my wait. It was a quick fun read that I finished before my plane touched down in Toronto.

I enjoyed this book. It was funny yet kept me in suspense.

My sister's kitties

My sister has four cats ...

Maggie is the oldest. Sister Sarah found her as a kitten when she was living in Toronto. Maggie moved back to Halifax with Sister Sarah in 1996.

Sister Sarah got Charlie earlier this year. He's still timid but is settling in.

Sister Sarah now has my mother's cats. This is Sunny. He slept with me all week and is a very affectionate boy.

And this is Shadow. He's also very affectionate, especially at night.