Friday, August 31, 2007

Toronto Blue Jays 7, Seattle Mariners 5

Gord and I went to the ball game tonight - Toronto Blue Jays against the Seattle Mariners.

It was a good game ... Toronto won. As usual, we bought the $9 seats but they were great. The roof was open and there was a nice breeze.

From our seats:

The CN Tower from our seats:

Gord hasn't been feeling well all day so we left early.

He's got chills yet his head is hot. He's in bed with lots of blankets along with KC and Nova. Hopefully he'll feel better tomorrow.

Happy fifth anniversary, Sister Sarah and Joey

Joey and Sister Sarah (my favourite sister!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Book ~ "The Line Painter" - Claire Cameron (2007)

From Amazon.ca ~ It's 1:08 a.m. when Carrie's car breaks down on the highway somewhere north of Lake Superior. It's dark, the road is quiet, her cell phone is down and she is alone. She took off from Toronto that morning, running from grief over the death of her boyfriend, and unable to cope with the truth about the events that led to it. The relief Carrie feels as a truck pulls up soon turns to fear after its driver offers her a lift. Frank, her would-be rescuer, is a line painter, putting lines on the road "to stop people from being killed." But after Carrie gets in the truck, she starts to realize that this will be the road trip of her life - a trip of terror, transformation and forgiveness.

Claire Cameron has created a unique portrait of Carrie, a young woman whose actions are driven by grief and shame, her personality a beguiling combination of naïveté and streetsmarts. Frank is equally sharply drawn, his flashes of humour and tenderness disguising the wreckage within. Written in spare, unvarnished prose that brims with menace against the forbidding backdrop of a northern landscape, The Line Painter takes us on a riveting trip down a twisted road of memory and redemption.

I read a favourable review of this book on a blog. Since Carrie is from Toronto, I thought I'd check it out.

I enjoyed the writing style. It was a quick pace and didn't take me long to get through it.

I didn't like Carrie and I thought the decisions she made, before and after her car broke down, were dumb. I didn't find Frank likeable either.

So I would recommend this book for the writing style. Let me know if you like the story better than I did.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Book ~ The Birth House - Ami McKay (2007)

From Amazon.com ~ When Dr. Gilbert Thomas, self-proclaimed expert in hygienic, pain-free childbirth, opens a practice in a Nova Scotia coastal village during the World War I years, it sets the stage for a classic conflict between long-held traditions and modern medicine. Seventeen-year-old Dora Rare, the only Rare daughter within five generations, improves her lot in life by becoming the apprentice of Marie Babineau, the independent but caring Acadian midwife who helped bring several generations of Scots Bay residents into the world. The women of the village (not to mention their husbands) grow bitterly divided when Dr. Thomas calls the health and safety of expectant mothers into question. His vengeful actions toward Dora herself, a young woman looking for guidance with her own love life, turn particularly personal as well. McKay has fashioned what she terms a "literary scrapbook," reproducing and re-creating historical news clippings, advertisements, and letters within the text. This sensitively written novel of women's birthing rituals, strengths, and friendships will appeal to readers who enjoy gentle humor and plenty of homespun wisdom.

What attracted me to this book was that it is set in Nova Scotia, where I'm from. And the story sounded interesting. And it was.

The characters were believable and I was rooting for Dora to beat Dr. McKay!

I enjoyed this book. Definitely worth a read if you are looking for something different about the way it was a long time ago in a small town. It was interesting to read about the natural tonics to cure whatever ailed them.

The author's webpage

"Nunsense", Stage West, Toronto, ON

A Musical Comedy by Dan Goggin. The Little Sisters of Hoboken operate Mount Saint Helen’s School in Hoboken, New Jersey. They went unnoticed until one day their cook, Sister Julia-Child of God, unwittingly served some tainted vichyssoise soup and 52 sisters died of botulism. Fortunately, a few of the sisters were off playing bingo and so were spared. Upon discovering the disaster, Mother Superior had a vision in which she was told to start a greeting card company to raise funds for the burials. The cards were an enormous success they even bought a VCR. Of course, they ran short and only had enough funds to bury 48 nuns. They decided to stage a talent show to raise the money to bury the last four sisters who were put in the convent deep freeze. The talent show is like no other you have ever seen … tales of life as a nun, a puppet show, tap dancing, a solo about being a star and more.

Gord and I saw this today. Though it was lively and lots of people found it funny, neither of us really enjoyed it.

We went to the brunch and I did pretty well in sticking to points and the detox. I had some lovely roasted potatoes (allowed). The chicken was deep fried small pieces coated with honey garlic sauce ... not so good. So I had some roast beef instead. Beef isn't allowed on the detox but I figured it was better than the chicken.

For dessert, I had a bite (honestly!) of pecan pie, brownie and apple strudel. My plate was filled with watermelon, melon, grapes, pineapple and strawberries. Much better!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tree top trekking, Horseshoe Valley, ON

Gord and I went tree top trekking today with Single Horizons at Horseshoe Valley (about an hour north of Toronto).

First we started off with a safety check and some lessons.



The lessons were no problem because we were only a couple feet off the ground!

I was fine climbing the ladder to get to the top of the tree (about 25 feet up). But then I was terrified! I seriously considered climbing back down.

But I'd driven 1.5 hours to get there and had paid $50 to do this! And I was anchored onto a cable if I slipped.

When I got to the end of the first "activity" (there were about six "activities" in the first course), my legs and arms were shaking! I hugged the tree for a bit.

There are three courses and I did the first two. The scariest part of the second one was the vine swing (you had to swing from one tree to another via a rope like Tarzan). That terrified me!

There is a zipline at the end of each course. I figured the ziplines would be the freakiest ... but they weren't. There were a hoot!
With the zipline for the second one, I clipped onto the cable too far back so couldn't move. Not thinking, to get going forward I pulled on the cable with my left hand ... the pulley holding me ran over my thumb and trapped it. Ouch! I pulled back behind me on the cable with my right hand to free myself and the pulley ran over some fingers on my right hand. Ouch!

But at least I was free and off I went towards the netting. My hands and fingers were dirty and bleedy so I had some first aid administered. I'm going to have some nice bruises tomorrow!

Though it had gotten less scary, I'd had enough.

Gord did the third course (longer than the first two) and here are some pictures of him: 

At the netting at the end of the last zipline
We walked to the Crazy Horse Saloon at the Resort. Gord had lunch and some celebatory beer. I passed but drank lots of water (so stuck to the detox and my points).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Book ~ "Bird Factory" - David Layton (2005)

From Amazon.com ~ Luke Gray is happy with the way things are. He’s finally settled into married life with pragmatic, level-headed Julia, free from his family’s absurdities and the chaos of his childhood. Even his mobile-bird factory seems less like a curse he can’t shake. But things change when Julia decides they should have a baby … and nothing happens. A trip to the fertility clinic leads to loosened boxers, hormone injections, and some time alone with a plastic vial and a stack of dirty magazines. How could things sink so far, so fast? His male pride in shreds, Luke finds himself fending off intrusive questions about his sperm from his mother and avoiding further involvement in his philandering father’s affairs. And with Julia more and more a stranger determined to succeed, it’s no wonder Luke begins to fantasize about a single, young employee’s bee-stung lips. But when complications put Julia in the hospital, Luke is forced to confront his tangled feelings about family, children, and commitment, and decide what he will, or won’t, do for love. The Bird Factory is a high-energy, darkly humorous novel about surviving your family and starting a new one, about the stupid things good men do, and why women put up with them.

I was attacted to this book because it was set in Toronto.

I enjoyed the writing style and could feel Luke's struggle. His family is whacked, his in-laws are rigid and also whacked in their own way ... and his wife is obsessed with getting pregnant.

Definitely a book I'd recommened.

Toronto Blue Jays 5, Baltimore Orioles 2

A bunch of girls made our annual jaunt to the Hard Rock Cafe (in the Rogers Centre) to watch the Blue Jays.

From our table at the Hard Rock Cafe:

Angie, Yvonne, Amanda, Vitra and Chris

Darlene and Jen

Angie

Chris and Darlene

Yvonne, Amanda and Vitra - look at those sundaes!

Jen, Angie and Heather

Jen and Angie

Because I can't have dairy, wheat, beef or pork because of the detox, it was a challenge to order from the menu. I ended getting chicken wings, since I had enough points left over from my day for them. And I drank tons of water.

We didn't watch much of the game but we had a lot of laughs!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Breyers Double Churned Fudge Bars

Have you tried these yet?

Don't!

They taste like the stick, not "rich and creamy".

Yuk!

Definitely not worth the $6 a box!

Greek Lemon Chicken Thighs And Potatoes

This is what I made for supper tonight (though I used boneless breasts). I found it on the Canadian Weight Watcher site (I'm an online member).

POINTS Value: 7
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 12 min
Cooking Time: 60 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Save time and infuse flavour by marinating this hearty Mediterranean dish overnight. The garlicky-lemon flavour is excellent.

Ingredients
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 clove garlic clove(s), minced
2 Tbsp fresh oregano
1 sprays cooking spray, (5 one-second sprays per serving)
1 1/2 pound skinless chicken thigh(s), boneless, about 8 thighs
1 pound uncooked new potatoes, cut in half (about 10 small potatoes)

Place lemon juice, broth, oil, garlic and oregano in a large resealable plastic bag or medium glass bowl. Add chicken, seal bag or cover bowl, and marinate at least 2 hours or up to overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9 x 11-inch pan with cooking spray.

Place chicken and marinade in pan; add potatoes. Bake 60 minutes, or longer for softer potatoes. Yields about 2 chicken thighs and 5 potato halves per serving. (Note: you may substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the thighs but reduce the cooking time by 15 minutes.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday Morning Walk

KC and I started our morning with a walk.

We passed by this interesting building on Queen Street W (at Ossington). In it's day many years ago, it was a fine home on the outskirts of the City owned by a rich family.

When I moved to Toronto 20 years ago, it was a rooming house with a seedy bar (the flat part in the back) and stayed that way for many years. It's been closed for about three years and is for lease. It's sad that it's lost its former glory.


We live near the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). It takes up a lot of space (27 acres) so it's a big block to walk around. Plus they have a grounds that offers lots of stuff for KC to sniff.


The space the CAMH is on has been home to a mental health facility for more than 150 years. In 1850, the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, as it was then known, first opened its doors. Throughout the years there have been numerous name changes ... the Toronto Lunatic Asylum, the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, "999 Queen Street" and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.

Architect John Howard's "Provincial Lunatic Asylum" as it would have appeared in the 19th century.

These buildings have since been knocked down and replaced. They are currently rejuvenating it again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Book ~ "Mindscan" - Robert J. Sawyer (2005)

From Amazon.com ~ Jake Sullivan watched his father, suffering from a rare condition, collapse and linger in a vegetative state, and he's incredibly paranoid because he inherited that condition. When mindscanning technology becomes available, he has himself scanned, which involves dispatching his biological body to the moon and assuming an android body. In possession of everything the biological Jake Sullivan had on Earth, android Jake finds love with Karen, who has also been mindscanned. Meanwhile, biological Jake discovers there is finally another, brand-new cure for his condition. Moreover, Karen's son sues her, declaring that his mother is dead, and android Karen has no right to deprive him of his considerable inheritance. Biological Jake, unable to leave the moon because of the contract he signed, becomes steadily more unstable, until finally, in a fit of paranoia, he takes hostages.

I'm not usually into SciFi stories but this one caught my attention because it was set in Toronto in 2045 (and the Blue Jays still aren't winning!).

And given the storyline, I wasn't expecting to like it ... but it drew me in right away.

Excellent bizarre story! I'd definitely recommend it!

Here's the author's blog.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Happy Simcoe Day!

Today is a holiday named for Col. John Graves Simcoe ...
  • Hero of the American Revolution
  • Commanding officer of the Queen's York Rangers
  • Founder of Toronto
  • First Lt. Governor of Upper Canada
  • Builder of Yonge Street
  • Abolished slavery in what's now Ontario 30 years before the rest of the British Empire did it and 60 years before Abe Lincoln did it

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Book ~ "And God Created the Au Pair" - Benedicte Newland and Pascale Smets (2006)

From Amazon.com ~ And God Created the Au Pair chronicles two years in the lives of Charlotte Bailey and Nell Fenton, sisters separated from each other by an ocean and from their sanity by their children. Nell, who has recently been uprooted to Canada, is awash in potty training, keeping up with the Stepford wife next door and fantasizing about murdering the pet hamster. Charlotte is lucky enough to enlist three au pairs, but still must contend with nosy neighbors, a fixer-upper that refuses to be fixed and a lazy brother-in-law who refuses to leave. Through it all, both sisters are determined to remain the elegant, creative, and wonderful mothers they truly are . . .

The style of this book is interesting ... it's just emails, mainly between Charlotte and Nell. Charlotte lives in England and Nelle lives here in Toronto.

I found it funny and interesting for the most part. It started getting tiresome towards the end and could have been a lot shorter.

Bungalow BBQ, Toronto, ON

After the Jays game, we walked home by way of Harbourfront. Island Soul was the theme there this weekend. We must have picked a bad time to show up cuz it was quiet, though there were lots of people around.

On Sundays at the Bungalow Cafe, Rob does a BBQ so we stopped in for a couple drinks on our way home. I had a burger and Gord had chicken. Very yummy!

Here's Gord with Jeff's dog, Juliette, on the patio of the Bungalow Cafe. She is very sweet!

Toronto Blue Jays 4, Texas Rangers 1

Gord and I went to the Blue Jays game today. Rather than sit in the stands, we went to Sightlines, a buffet restaurant in the Rogers Centre.

The view from our seats:

Vernon Wells is up at bat:

Gord at our seats

The Jays won! Whoohoo!

Friday, August 03, 2007

"Evil Dead", Diesel Playhouse, Toronto, ON

Gord and I saw Evil Dead tonight.

While the title may convey horror - fans, critics and audiences alike are calling it an uproariously funny musical comedy. Based on Sam Raimi’s 80s cult-classic horror films, EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL unearths the old familiar story: boy and friends take a weekend getaway at abandoned cabin, boy expects to get lucky, boy unleashes ancient evil spirit, friends turn into Candarian Demons, boy fights until dawn to survive. As musical mayhem descends upon this sleepover in the woods, “camp” takes on a whole new meaning with uproarious numbers like “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” “Look Who’s Evil Now” and “Do the Necronomicon.”


This play was freakin' hilarious! If you get a chance to go see it, you should.

We were in the second row, in the middle ... the "splatter zone". I got splattered from the waist down.

Gord, on the other hand, REALLY got splattered!


You can imagine the looks he got when we caught the streetcar home! Ha! "Dude, what happened to you?!"

Here's a taste (warning bad language):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrDui7xeGv0

Update: It did wash out and Gord's shirt is white again.

Milestones, Toronto, ON

Before we saw Evil Dead tonight, we had supper at Milestones on John Street.

Gord's family had given us a bunch of gift certificates for Christmas so we used them tonight.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Keg, Toronto, ON

For our fifth anniversary last week, Sister Sarah gave us a gift certificate for The Keg and we used it tonight for supper. We went to the one on Church Street.

Mischa took good care of us.
Thanks, Sis!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Banana Muffins ... from Scratch!

I like bananas but don't buy them very often. Last week I bought four. I ate two and waited for the other two to get really ripe so I could make banana bread.

Today was the day! I found this recipe on the 'net:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

You can tell I don't bake much:
  1. I didn't have any baking soda so I asked Gord to pick up just enough for this recipe ... it cost him $0.03.
  2. I discovered I didn't have a loaf pan so made muffins instead.
  3. I didn't have white flour so used whole wheat flour instead (and hoped it wouldn't make a difference)

I added 1/2 cup of walnuts cuz I found them in cupboard.

Since Wendy posted a picture of her cheesecake last week, here are my muffins:

I had one and they are tasty!