Monday 30 April 2007

Book ~ "Dating Can Be Murder" - Jennifer Apodaca (2003)

From ~ After the sudden death of her husband, Trent, southern California suburban housewife and soccer mom, Samantha Shaw, seeks revenge big time. When cleaning out her husband's treasured 1964 Mustang convertible, Sam finds a bag of panties (not hers), each with a Post-it attached rating its owner's performance. Hurt and enraged, Samantha has her breasts done, dyes her hair blond and trades in her long skirts and sneakers for minis and stiletto heels. A reviewer of romance fiction and a firm believer in true love, she buys Heart Mates, a dating service, determined to make it succeed. When a thug threatens her life and demands that she give him money, she suspects Trent was into more than extramarital sex. The thug's murder and the discovery that her condom salesman husband was also selling drugs give Sam good cause to worry for the safety of her sons and grandfather. Luckily, she can turn for help to hunky ex-cop, Gabe Pulizzi. As the suspect list grows, Sam's new persona is tested in ways she never imagined at the PTA. Fast-paced and witty, this sparkling cozy offers a hair-raising climax and a believable cast of supporting characters, except for a relentless mother who's too keen on having her daughter become a realtor.

This is the second Samantha Shaw novel I've read and I enjoyed it. The first one I read (a couple months ago) is a couple books later in the series.

The writing is indeed fast-paced and I'll be reading the others.

Do I recommend this series? Yes!

Sunday 29 April 2007

Visiting Gord's parents

We spent the weekend at Gord's parents' (his mom is Minnie and his stepdad is Keith) ... they live a couple hours east of Toronto. We drove there yesterday afternoon and came back this afternoon.

As always, Minnie made a great supper ... roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, beets, pickles and gravy. Yummy!

Gord's sister, Judy, and her family joined us ... Doug (her husband), Kyle (her son) and Kerri (her daughter-in-law). They live in the area.

Just after they left, Jon (Judy's other son who is living Alberta) called.

It was different to wake up to birds singing and a woodpecker this morning ... we're used to streetcars and traffic. Minnie and Keith have feeders full of sunflower seeds in the backyard (where our room faced).

A greedy woodpecker

They live on a farm of 100 acres (they rent their land out now to haymakers). KC and I went for a walk down to the river this morning. There were lots of different smells for City Dog KC.

Minnie and Keith have a dog named Freckles and a cat named Snowflake. They found Snowflake by the road last year ... they suspect someone tossed him from a car so he could find a home. And a good home he found too!

I called Sister Sarah on the drive back home. Three more weeks and we'll be meeting up in St. John's, NF.

Saturday 28 April 2007

Book ~ "The Rice Diet Solution" - Kitty Gurkin Rosati and Robert Rosati (2005)

From ~ Can you really lose twenty pounds in a month? Will you really keep it off this time? With The Rice Diet Solution, you will! The Rice Diet Program has been helping dieters successfully lose weight since 1939. Now in book form, this world-renowned weight-loss method can help you change the way you eat forever.

The Rice Diet Program in Durham, North Carolina, was one of the first medical facilities in America to use diet as the primary way to treat disease. On this high-complex-carb, low-fat, and low-sodium whole-foods diet, "Ricers" lose weight faster, more safely, and more effectively than people on any other diet. Men lose on average twenty-eight to thirty pounds and women on average nineteen to twenty pounds per month! The Rice Diet also detoxes your body, ridding it of excess water weight and toxins from processed foods and the environment. The program's results have been documented by extensive studies and confirmed by thousands of people who report amazing weight loss, as well as immediate improve-ment in such conditions as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. After all the other diets out there have failed them, people find that the Rice Diet is the one that finally works -- for good.

Here's how it works: The Rice Diet strictly limits salt and sodium-rich ingredients. Salt, like refined sugar, is an appetite stimulant, so when you reduce salt intake, you lose water weight and are less inclined to overeat. The Rice Diet also limits saturated fats and instead relies on carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans) as the main source of nutrition. The fiber cleanses your system and satisfies you so you feel full quickly. The Rice Diet makes it easy to limit calories; when you're eating foods that truly satisfy your hunger, it's a challenge to eat 1,500 calories per day!

You know I'm always reading books about different diets because I'm curious about their angle.

With this diet, there are three phases:

Phase One (Detox for a week)

For 1 day a week
Breakfast - 2 starches and 2 fruits
Lunch - 2 starches and 2 fruits
Supper- 2 starches and 2 fruits

For 6 days a week
Breakfast - 1 starch, 1 non-fat dairy and 1 fruit
Lunch - 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit
Supper- 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit

Phase Two - Do this until you lose all the weight you want

For 1 day a week
Breakfast - 2 starches and 2 fruits
Lunch - 2 starches and 2 fruits
Supper- 2 starches and 2 fruits

For 5 days a week
Breakfast - 1 starch, 1 non-fat dairy and 1 fruit
Lunch - 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit
Supper- 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit

For 1 day a week
Breakfast - 2 starches and 1 fruit
Lunch - 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit
Supper- 3 starches, 3 protein, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit


Phase Three - Maintenance

For 1 day a week
Breakfast - 2 starches and 2 fruits
Lunch - 2 starches and 2 fruits
Supper- 2 starches and 2 fruits

For 4 days a week
Breakfast - 1 starch, 1 non-fat dairy and 1 fruit
Lunch - 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit
Supper- 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit

For 2 days a week
Breakfast - 2 starches and 1 fruit
Lunch - 3 starches, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit
Supper- 3 starches, 3 protein, 3 vegetables and 1 fruit


I love rice so could do this diet. One thing I found annoying, though, was that they claim that people lose at least twenty pounds a month on this diet, but they don't give their starting weights. There's a big different between weighing 300 pounds and 150 pounds so your weight loss can't be the same.

Even if you don't buy into this diet, the book itself was good because it explained about nutrition. There is a chapter devoted to making time for yourself (yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc.). There's another chapter devoted to preventing disease. So I would recommend it just for the info they included.

Friday 27 April 2007


When we got home, we discovered that Monica and Mark (our ex neighbours) were visiting our neighbours, Sherry and Brock. Monica was my roomie at the Briars a couple weeks ago.

So we went over to visit for a while.

Brock and Sherry
Monica and Mark

Thanks for the hospitality and the homemade wine, Sherry and Brock!

Bymark, Toronto, ON

We felt like having a glass of wine after work so Gord and I met at Bymark.

Susan, one of the Boxing Babes, was there too with her friend, Natalie, so I heard all about her recent vacation to Punta Cana.

Susan and Natalie

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Book ~ "My Sister, My Self" - Vikki Stark (2006)

From ~ Discover the unexpected ways that being a sister affects your life choices. Whether your sister relationship was close, conflicted, or somewhere in between, that childhood bond shaped the woman you are today. Having grown up as an older, younger, middle, or twin sister influences your choice of occupation, your circle of friends, your love life - even how you feel about your own body. My Sister, My Self provides you with powerful tools to come to terms with a challenging sister relationship, make sense of your need to depend on or control others, recognize how your sister role influences your interactions with friends and colleagues and understand the sister role you've played since childhood.

I've been interested in birth order for many years (I'm a first born) and this had an interesting twist as it dealt just with sisters.

I can see a lot of myself in the older sisters and I can see a lot of Sister Sarah in the younger sisters the author interviewed.

It used to drive me nuts when I would want to go outside to play with my friends and my mother would tell me to take my brother and Sister Sarah out with me. How uncool is it for a ten-year-old to have her seven-year-old brother and four-year-old brother with her?! So I wouldn't go out! Or when I would have to cancel a babysitting job where I'd make some needed $$ because I had to stay home to take care of my brother and sister for no $$. It wasn't fair.

So it's a good book for anyone who is thinking about having kids so you don't make a lot of the mistakes the parents of the sisters in the book did.

Though I didn't think it all the time, I know now that I have the best sister in the world!

Sunday 22 April 2007

Book ~ "The Watchman" - Robert Crais (2007)

From ~ Joe Pike, the intriguing, enigmatic partner of L.A. PI Elvis Cole, takes center stage in this intense thriller from bestseller Crais. To pay back an old debt, Pike is coerced into protecting Larkin Barkley, a hard-partying young heiress whose life is in danger after a "wrong place wrong time" encounter that quickly escalates and spins out of control. The enemy is shadowy, violent and relentless — but the fierce, focused Pike, one of the strongest characters in modern crime fiction, is equal to the challenge. The breathless pace and rich styling are sure to appeal to readers of hard-boiled fiction in general, but since up to now Pike has mostly remained in the background, some fans of the Elvis Cole series may find the explicit picture that emerges of Pike at odds with the image they've constructed for themselves.

It's been a long while since I've read one of Crais' books. I enjoy his Elvis Cole private detective series. Joe Pike is Elvis' best friend.

It was interesting to read a story from Pike's point of view. Pike has always kept to himself for the most part. This novel allows reader to get to know more about Pike. Elvis is more humorous and outgoing and the two are a good contrast.

Would I recommend it? Yes!!

Sunnyside Beach, Toronto, ON

It was such a nice day today (24C and sunny) that Gord, KC and I went to Sunnyside Beach this afternoon. It's about a ten minute drive from home. There were lots of people and dogs out and about enjoying the day.

We started just east of Sunnyside Pavillion. We walked to Humber Bridge and back ... two hours with a nosy sniffing dog.
Sunnyside Pavillion
Toronto from just west of Humber Bridge, our turnaround point.
Guess who got a bath as soon as we got home!

Thursday 19 April 2007

Book ~ "The Dog Rules: (Damn Near Everything)" (2003) William J. Thomas

From ~ Comical experiences are chronicled with campy, intermittent "The Dog Rules" lists. Thomas and his canine pal, Jake's adventures started the day the duo drove from the doggie foster home to set up housekeeping near Toronto. Jake slyly encroached upon the author's turf. With intentions of harmonious cohabitation, Thomas exercised his people power and writing ability by creating rules for every occasion. They came in batches of 10, but realistic contradictions occurred after the second rule until the dog assumed the upper paw. For instance, topping The Dog Rules as They Apply to the Family Car list is ... "Dogs are not allowed to travel in motorized vehicles. Period." The second rule is a bit relenting ... "Okay, a seeing-eye dog is allowed to travel in a vehicle with its owner provided that the owner is not the operator of the said vehicle." By number 10, resolve is shot, humor reigns and the dog rules ... "Okay, the dog can drive at night by himself but not if he's been drinking. No way. That's against the law." Black-and-white cartoons scattered throughout the book punctuate the absurdity of the author/artist's attempt to be a master. A quick and fun read for those who are true pet lovers and who appreciate witty storytelling.

As the review said, it is a quick read. It's very cute too and the stories are funny to read about his adventures with Jake.

I'll definitely read more by this author (he has others about cats).

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Book ~ "Plum Lovin'" - Janet Evanovich (2007)

From ~ In this "between-the-numbers" Stephanie Plum novel, the Jersey bond enforcement agent, who already has two guys in her life (cop Joe Morelli and bounty hunter Ranger), reconnects with Diesel, a third heartthrob. Diesel offers Stephanie a deal: if he lets her find Annie Hart, a relationship coach who's become a big-ticket bond on Stephanie's Most Wanted List after fleeing a charge for a robbery she didn't commit, then Stephanie can do Annie a big favor by playing Cupid for a number of Annie's lovelorn clients, including a shy butcher, a desperate vet, an overworked single mom, a 30-something virgin and the marriage-phobic fellow who just happens to be Stephanie's pregnant sister's boyfriend.

I'm a big fan of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series ... but not of these mini novels. Diesel is an "unmentionable" ... he and others like him have special powers. I find this dumb.

I'm looking forward to her next full novel that comes out in June.

Monday 16 April 2007

Book ~ "The Vice-Busting Diet" - Julia Griggs Havey (2006)

From ~ Havey was once a self-described "290-pound unhappy single mother." Now she's 130 pounds lighter, weight loss she has maintained for a decade, and married. Havey shares her own breaking point ... the time at which she realized "Deprivation is not living without certain foods but living with them and being deprived of your true health and happiness!" The key to adopting a healthier lifestyle and a healthier life is the recognition and eradication (busting) of vices that are getting in the way of weight loss. The most common ones are soft drinks, fast food and television. The book offers strategies, affirmations and action plans for eradicating the negative influences of these bad habits. The book's centerpiece is a 12-week plan with specific, manageable goals for each step. An exercise plan and healthy recipes round out this straightforward though simplistic plan for lifestyle change.

This is a great book for someone who has never dieted before and needs someone to take them by the hand.

Here's the weekly plan ... Week:
  1. Consume water
  2. Replace your vice with a healthy substitute
  3. Exercise instead of/before watching TV
  4. Visualize a healthy future
  5. Add a fruit or vegetable to your daily diet
  6. Increase the days and/or time for exercise
  7. Increase your daily fibre intake
  8. Clean and organize your kitchen and home
  9. Add a daily supplement
  10. Eat a healthy and hearty breakfast
  11. Eat a healthy and high-energy lunch
  12. Eat a small healthy supper
I found the book very basic and I didn't learn anything new.

Sunday 15 April 2007

Toronto Marlies 5, Grand Rapids 1

LeeAnn at Single Horizons gave us a couple tickets for the Toronto Marlies hockey game today.

It was the Marlies' last game of the season and they beat Grand Rapids (Detroit's farm team) . Yay! Alas, they didn't make the playoffs.

The seats were five rows from the ice. They were great when the action was in our end but it was hard to see in far corner.

The Briars, Jackson's Point, ON

The Season Sisters went on our annual weekend away at the Briars (about an hour north of Toronto). This year there were 15 of us from Friday evening 'til Sunday morning.

Monica was my roommate again (for the fourth year in a row).

We stayed in a cottage called "First Tee" which is a ten minute walk to the main building.

Our home for the weekend, the First Tee
The view of Lake Simcoe from the deck of the First Tee


For supper, I had a tossed greens salad, pork chop with mashed potatoes and banana bread pudding. Very yummy!

Monica, Kate, Michelle, Maggie, Teena and Yvette
Angie, Sue, Amanda, Lisa, Vitra, Jenn, Yvonne, Pat and Jen

After supper we went back to our cottage, had a couple drinks and yakked.


We walked over to the main building for supper.

Maggie, Michelle, Kate, Yvette, Jenn and Jen
Angie, Sue, Amanda, Lisa, Monica,
Vitra, Yvonne, Pat and I
Yvette, Jenn and Jen
Maggie, Michelle and Kate
Amanda, Lisa and Monica
Angie and Sue
Vitra, Yvonne and Pat
Monica and I

Tonight for supper I had the mixed greens salad, beef tenderloin/mashed potatoes and creme brulee.

There is a dance on Saturday nights so we stayed for a couple dances.

It was mostly older couples there (so a lot of slower songs are played) but we boogied to some fast tunes.


After I got my stuff packed and loaded into Monica's car, I did the morning nature walk with Angie and Pat. Our guide, Brian, took us for a walk in the woods and took us to the river and talked about the visiting ducks.

Angie feeding the chickadees
Angie, Brian and Pat

After the walk, I sat for a while in the Tower and read.

A bunch of us met for lunch and then Monica and I headed for home.

Monday 9 April 2007

Toronto Blue Jays 9, Kansas City Royals 1

The Blue Jays home opener was tonight and Gord and I went. We had tickets in the upper level. At $9 a ticket (rather than $70 down below), we like them because you can see lots!

Toronto dominated Kansas City right from the start. We left at 10:00 ... there were still two innings to go but it was getting late and we wanted to beat the crowds.

From our seats

The bases are loaded!

It was a sellout ... over 50,000 in attendance!

Sunday 8 April 2007

"Guys and Dolls", Stage West, Toronto, ON

Set in New York City, this romantic comedy, considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, soars with the spirit of Broadway as it introduces us to a cast of vivid characters who have become legendary: Sasha Brown, Sky Masterson, Adelaide and Nathan Detroit. The show is sensational thanks to a hilarious, fast-paced plot and a bright, brassy, immortal musical score.

This afternoon we saw Guys and Dolls at Stage West.

It was good ... lively and funny. And, at 2.5 hours long, is a good value for your money (brunch comes with it).

Saturday 7 April 2007

Bungalow Cafe, Toronto, ON

After the spa, we had supper at a restaurant called Politica Resto Bar, a fairly new restaurant in our neighbourhood. My pizza was delish and Gord loved his duck confit.

Then we went for a couple drinks around the corner at the Bungalow Cafe. Jeff, the waiter, gave us a shooter to celebrate Gord's birthday.

Gord and Jeff

GQ Spa, Toronto, ON

For our birthdays, rather than buying something, we treat each other to the spa. So to celebrate Gord's birthday, I took him to GQ Spa, which is in our neighbourhood.

We had the Couple's Paradise package:
They let us bring a bottle of bubbly to drink during our pedicure. We brought the bottle my friend, Yvette, had given Gord a bottle for his birthday.

Friday 6 April 2007

Fruit Frappe Whipped Cream Soap

Sister Sarah started a fun tradition in the spring of 1997 where she and I exchange Valentine and Easter gifts.

She sent me a bunch of cool things for Easter this week. One of the best is the Pomegranate Coconut Fruit Frappe Whipped Cream Soap by Upper Canada Soap and Candle Makers.

Have you tried it?

I think it's amazing ... Gord's not as excited.

The texture is like mousse. You just need a bit and you lather your hands with it. Then you wash it off.

It smells wonderful and my hands do indeed feel "velvety smooth" afterwards.

Thanks, Sis :)

Wednesday 4 April 2007

Book ~ "Where Rainbows End" - Cecelia Ahern (2004)

From Goodreads ~ From naughty children to rebellious teenagers, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But just as as they're discovering the joys of teenage nights on the town and dating disasters, they're separated. Alex's family move from Dublin to America - and Alex goes with them. For good.

Rosie's lost without him. But on the eve of her departure to join Alex in Boston, Rosie gets news that will change her life forever - and keep her at home in Ireland.

Their magical connection sees them through the ups and downs of each others lives, but neither of them knows whether their friendship can survive the years and miles - or new relationships. And at the back of Rosie's mind is whether they were meant to be more than just good friends all along. Misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck have kept them apart, but when presented with the ultimate opportunity, will they gamble everything for true love?

What I liked about this book: This was an interesting style because it consisted entirely of notes passed in school, emails, instant messages, text messages and letters between all the characters.

What I didn't like about this book: The characters were lacklustre ... I didn't really care about them. They made some really dumb decisions. Also, Alex and Rosie loved each other. Instead of telling each other and having a future together, they tell others. Duh! Forty years later at the age of fifty (like you didn't guess the ending!!), they finally confess this to each other and I bet live happily ever after ... three failed marriages and three kids later.