Friday, February 29, 2008

Book ~ "Murder 101" - Maggie Barbieri (2007)

From ~ Alison Bergeron, newly divorced English professor at St. Thomas College, is having a difficult time. Someone stole her car, so she has to walk to the train station for the commute to work. Once there, she finds two homicide detectives waiting in her office to ask why the body of one of her students is in the trunk of her car. Trying to remove herself from the list of suspects is not easy. She also has to deal with the distraught family of the dead student, bail her ex-husband out of jail, and grade final exams for her Shakespeare class. For some reason, those boring exams are the object of a great deal of attention. As if that weren't enough, one of the homicide detectives, Bobby Crawford, is taking a romantic interest in Alison, and the pompous college president may decide that her involvement in the case is bad for the school's reputation. This is an entertaining debut and a series to follow for fans of gentle academic mysteries.

This wasn't a bad book but it certainly wasn't a great book.

I found Alison extremely wimpy at times ... she faints and barfs non-stop. Yet off she goes putting herself in danger at others. The extremes are too much. And her ex-husband, Ray, is a dog yet she still helps him when he gets arrested and she has the patience, after all he had done to her in the marriage (which she continuously whines about), to be nice and polite to him. And her best friend, Max, is just annoying!

And the ending (solving the murder) was pretty blah.

I would read another in this series but I wouldn't go looking for it.

Enough already!

Gord called a little while ago and mentioned it's snowing.


So I looked out the window (I've been busy on the computer) and, sure enough, it's snowing ... again!!!

We are supposed to get 1 to 3 cm by tomorrow afternoon.

The City just had a bunch hauled away on Sunday.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What my name means

I found this over at B's ...

What Teena Means

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.

You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.

You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I won!

I received this email today.

Dear Winner,

You are a winner of the UK National lottery online program that was held on the 27th February 2008. You have been approved to claim a sum of £500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Great British Pounds) of cash credited to file KTU/9023118308/03.To file for your claims you are to contact our claims agent.

Name : Mr. Daniels Williams

Provide him with the following information to claim your prize.

Full Name:
Phone Number:
Country of residence:
Amount Won:

Yours faithfully,
Online Co-ordinator for U.K NATIONAL LOTTERY
Sweepstakes International Program.

Isn't this amazing!?

I won £500,000.00 ($973,038.55 CAD) in a lottery I didn't even enter!!

How lucky am I?!

Go ahead and quit your job, Gord! We're rich!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Typing test

I saw this over at Lady Banana's ...

80 words

Speed test

How did you do?

NutriSystem evaluation

In December, I had been asked to review the NutriSystem program. I received two months of food to try it.

Here's how your meals work on the program:

Breakfast: NutriSystem breakfast entree, dairy or protein serving, and fruit serving.

Lunch: NutriSystem lunch entree, salad serving, fat free dressing, and dairy or protein serving.

Afternoon snack: Dairy or protein serving and fruit serving

Dinner: NutriSystem dinner entree, vegetable serving, salad or fruit serving, fat serving.

Dessert: NutriSystem dessert entree

Plus eight 8 ounces glasses of water.

Note: You provide the non-NutriSystem items.

From my experience, here are the pluses of the program:

Most of the entrees come in a container you cook it in and then eat it ... so few dishes to wash.

There is a lot of choice, especially with the dinner entrees.

The program provides you with portion control.

This program is good for someone who is busy because it's all ready for you ... you just heat it up in the microwave.

The program includes a good variety of snacks ... cookies, pretzels, chips, chocolate, etc.

A lot of the entrees are high in fibre and protein.

The entrees don't need to be frozen so don't take up any room in your freezer (like Lean Cuisines do).

The bars (both the meal replacement and dessert) are quite tasty. I would buy them outside the program.

The cereals are tasty (NutriFlakes and Granola).

Why this isn't the program for me:

I eat very little salt and I found that most of the entrees are very salty (the sodium content is high, at least 700 mg per entree).

I've got the time to make meals from scratch using fresh ingredients so would rather do that. I tend to stay away from packaged food as much as I can.

Weight Watchers has conditioned me to think in terms of points. A typical NutriSystem entree is at least five points. I can get a lot more food for my points by making it from scratch. And it's tastier. As such, I've never been a fan of Lean Cuisine-type meals.

I'm happy for the opportunity to have tried it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Snow away!

Gord and I awoke this morning to the sound of "Beep ... beep ... beep".

Then we remembered that the City had posted notices that they were clearing the snow from our street.

Click here to see our street last week.

They towed away the cars from the south side and then cleared it.

Then they moved the cars from the north side to the south side ...

And then they cleared the north side ...

Then they'll bring back the cars from the south side and put them on the north side.

Sunday Seven #130

Click here to play!

Name seven “obsolete” skills you have mastered in the past and state whether or not you still use those skills.

Use a typewriter - I learned to type on a typewriter (this was before the days of computers). I had to use one last month and it puzzled me!

Change a typewriter ribbon - Good thing I didn't have to change it!

Fix the time on a VCR - We don't even have one anymore!

Get my ticket at the airport - I buy airline tickets online and print off my eticket at home. When I get to the airport, I check in at the kiosk with my credit card or Aeroplan card and just have to go to the baggage drop off area. No waiting in the long line!

Call a hotel to make reservations - I do it online.

Call a car rental company to rent a car - I do it online.

Using DOS commands on a computer - I don't have a clue now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Book ~ "Into the Wild" - Jon Krakauer (2007)

From ~ After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seeds.

Interesting story and I'd like to see the movie.

Book ~ "Another Shot: How I Relived My Life in Less Than a Year" - Joe Kita (2001)

From ~ As he approached 40, veteran journalist Kita decided to revisit his greatest missed opportunities. It's a terrific conceit and, within the limits of his 20 specific regrets (from "losing my hair" to "working my life away"), Kita pulls it off with wit and aplomb.

After two months of conditioning, he works out with his alma mater's high school basketball team and is told that this time he wouldn't have been cut. He and his wife attend a workshop for lovers (for which he happily paid $1,000 and would do so again before spending another $10 on a Viagra pill), allowing them to have "the best sex of our married lives and with each other, no less." They also renew their vows in a ceremony far more satisfying than their overstressed wedding. Even when his quests don't pan out, Kita finds peace: so what if he can't recover that first Camaro or if that woman he was too shy to approach in college won't return his letter?

Basically a happy guy, Kita doesn't often stray toward seriousness, though he laments not having said good-bye to his father, who died at 62 (and tries to revisit him via a psychic); he also takes a day trip with his Mom to try to repair some long-standing rifts. In his conclusion, Kita lists some regrets he hasn't yet pursued that might make for a deeper challenge.

This book caught my eye at the library ... it sounded like an interesting premise.

I enjoyed the writing style and the stories. I'd definitely recommend it!

My favourite missed opportunities? Chapter 16: Not being a real man (he did a survival camp ... I can't imagine being left alone for two days!), Chapter 18: Mistreating a dog (made me hug my dog and cats), and Chapter 19: Not having a hero (he worked out with Jack LaLanne).

Would I want to relive any of my "missed opportunities"? No way ... my experiences are what make me who I am today. How about you?

I'll leave you with a quote that resonnated with me from his story about trying to find his first car ... I'll have realized a long time ago that it's only where you are and where you are heading that matters. So true!

Friday, February 22, 2008

International Year of the Potato

Did you know that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato?

I love potatoes, with red potatoes being my favourite!

Boiled, fried, baked, mashed (Sister Sarah's personal fav!), scallopped, French fries ... I love love love potatoes! So this is good news for me!

Ironically, Gord's not a big fan of potatoes. Whereas I always bought the 10 pound bags of potatoes and it was a staple for me, he would buy one or two single potatoes and they would last him for weeks!

Rice and pasta are delicious but spuds rock!

So celebrate ... go out and have a potato today!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Queen Street W fire

There was a major fire just east of Bathurst and Queen Street W early yesterday.

Buildings were burned to the ground, businesses are closed, residents left homeless and Queen Street W is closed. Thankfully no one was seriously injured. They have yet to determine the cause.

KC and I took a walk over there this afternoon (about 15 minutes east of us). It was very sad to see the destruction of these old historic buildings.

There were lots of people lining the north side of the street (including me with my phone) taking pictures.

Déjà vu?

Looks like a replay of Tuesday!

I threw my coat and jacket on the couch for a few minutes ... and Byron snuggled his way onto them within seconds!

Here comes the sun

I had to be in Niagara-on-the-Lake this morning around 8:15.

It was still dark when I left home.

By the time I got to Stoney Creek, the sun was blinding but beautiful!

I was driving 120km on the QEW when I took these pictures (through a dirty windshield).

Snacking for energy

I came across an article by the Heart & Stroke Foundation about snacking. Here are some excerpts.

Smart snacking is a powerful ally for your heart health. Reaching for the right snacks will boost your energy and help you manage your appetite. It's one of the best strategies to prevent overeating and making poor food choices. That's good news if you're like many Canadians who love to snack.

Why snacking makes sense
Find mid-morning fatigue setting in? It's natural to feel a lull in energy levels if you don't eat between meals. Smart snacks may help your blood sugar levels from hitting a low and will keep you feeling energized all day long.

Famished by dinner time? 'll be that much more likely to overeat. Healthy snacking is a great way to manage your hunger and resist high- fat, high-calorie foods, making it easier to control your weight.

Need a boost to get you going? If you want to be more physically active, but are having a difficult time finding the energy, healthy snacks may give you a welcome boost for regular physical activity. Have a healthy snack 30 minutes before you bike, walk, swim or dance!

Power-packed snacks
Try these tasty power-packed snack ideas to boost your energy and maximize your heart health!
* A locally grown apple and a one-inch cube of lower-fat cheese.
* A small handful of trail mix made with dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
* A yogurt cup topped with a sprinkle of high-fibre cereal.
* A few trans-fat-free whole-grain crackers topped with salmon.
* Ginger snap cookies with a cup of 1% or skim milk.
* Whole-grain pita wedges or celery sticks topped with peanut butter.
* A home-made, lower-fat, whole-grain muffin made with nuts and fruit.
* Some raw veggies with a bean dip.
* Home-made oatmeal cookies with a yogurt drink.
* Half a cup of low-sodium vegetable juice and a small handful of soy nuts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunch with Deb

I met my friend, Deb, today along with her colleague, Peter, for lunch in the BCE foodcourt.

Deb and Teena

Peter and Deb

As always, it was fun to catch up with Deb!

Then I met up with Gord and spent his lunch with him before heading home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can you spot Byron?

When I got home this afternoon, I threw my coat and jacket quickly onto the couch.

Five minutes later I was going to put them away ... but there was a kitty already settled in.

Needless to say, I waited 'til he moved.

Jury duty

Remember the notice I got in January advising me that I had been summoned for jury duty?

I got a call while I was on the cruise that it was cancelled.

Today would have been the day I had to show up to see if I was eligible.

Instead the day is mine! Mine!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Family Day

Gord and I drove the Hamilton to spend the afternoon with Ken, Gord's son.

We first saw a couple movies. Gord and Ken saw Rambo (I had no interest in it) and I saw The Bucket List.

Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic,Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life.

I liked The Bucket List. It is a cute movie and a good reminder to live each day as if it's your last ... find joy and provide joy.

After the movies, we had a bite to eat at Montana's Cookhouse.

Ken, Teena and Gord

Driving back to Toronto, we ran into a snowsquall.

Ten minutes later, there was no sign of it. We have enough snow already, thanks!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My toy boy

Morgan is a toy boy ... Byron not so much.

For the last couple weeks, Morgan has been digging under the fridge.

In the past, I had put packing tape across the bottom of the fridge so he couldn't knocked his toys under the fridge. This tape is now ripped and needs to be replaced.

He's been a maniac every time he heard the fridge door open. He would run over and drive his little arm under the fridge.

It had gotten to the point of being very annoying because we've had to push him away to avoid crushing his skull when we close the door.

This afternoon I pulled the fridge out to see what has been obsessing him.

In addition to dust, there were 17 soft toys and 5 plastic toys (with bells inside)! I threw the plastic toys out (they are dangerous if we step on them in the dark).

Some are really nasty ... who knows how long they have been under there? The fridge hasn't been pulled out in two years.

But Morgan's happy and not being a spaz anymore.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dark rum

Gord and I both like dark rum and Diet Coke so I bought some in different places last week when I was on the cruise.

First up is a Puerto Rican rum called DonG Gold by Serralles. When I was in the duty free shop in San Juan, a fella carrying four bottles of this rum recommended it. He was an American and said he drives to another state to stock up on it. Sounded good to me so I bought a bottle. Needless to say, we are enjoying it.

When we were in Grenada, I picked up a bottle of Clarke's Court dark rum. The guy in the liquor store said that Grenada doesn't export it because they like rum there so much that there isn't enough to spare. We can see why cuz it's delicious too!

There are still two bottles we haven't tried yet. I'll let you know how we like them when we do.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book ~ "Stone Rain" - Linwood Barclay (2007)

From ~ No good deed goes unpunished in the fourth Zack Walker mystery thriller from Barclay, which finds the newspaper reporter, family man and very reluctant hero just settling back into a semblance of middle-class normalcy after his last adventure. That all changes when Zack tries to help good friend, former neighbor and professional dominatrix Trixie Snelling dissuade local tabloid reporter Martin Benson from running a story on her and her business. Not long after Zack tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade Martin to pull the story, Martin turns up dead, tied to a rack with his throat slit, in Trixie's bondage basement — and Trixie, the prime suspect, has disappeared. Zack sets off in search of answers, following a path deep into Trixie's troubled, violent past that could cost him his job, his family and his life. Barclay has a fine ear for dialogue, especially in scenes with Zack and his family, and his expert blend of humor and suspense make this a well-constructed, often witty mystery that's sure to please.

Another excellent book in the Zack Walker series. The suspense and comedy are still there.

I'm definitely enjoying this series and look forward to reading the others from this Toronto-area writer.

Donating mittens

Remember the mittens I had knitted the last couple of months?

I donated them this morning by putting them in the Oasis Clothing Bank box that is at the grocery store we go to.

There were eight pairs and, with the cold weather we've been having, I hope they can make use of them.

I'm going to keep making mitts and hopefully I'll have quite a few pair to donate at the beginning of next winter.

Book ~ "Bad Guys" - Linwood Barclay (2005)

From ~ Reporter Zack Walker, worrier, bungler and reluctant hero, has moved from the suburbs back to the city with his wife Sarah, son Paul, and daughter Angie, in Canadian author Barclay's winning second comic caper. The Walkers aren't really dysfunctional, but they're close enough to the edge as they cope with various pressures: 16-year-old Paul's flirtation with drinking; college freshman Angie's admirer, who may be a dangerous stalker; and the transportation convolutions necessary in a one-car, two-school, two-job family. Zack tries to solve this last problem while also working on a feature story that has him accompanying a PI on a stakeout for a smash-and-grab gang. He avoids hassling with a car dealer by going to a police auction but the car he gets is no bargain. When his PI friend is attacked, Zack races to the rescue. And when some nasty folks target his family, Zack pulls out all the stops to try to remove the threat. This cleverly executed mystery includes both long-term setups and well hidden surprises.

This is the first book I've read by Barclay and I really enjoyed it. I'm into mysteries and this was comical too. The writing style is quick and funny and I look forward to reading the others in the series.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The day after

Hard to believe that this time last week I was sitting in the warm clear waters of Klein Beach with a rum punch in my hand!

We have a lot of snow after yesterday's storm.

Our terrace

Our street

Our street

Our parking lot

Our parking lot

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More snow!

I had to drive to Aurora (north of Toronto) for a couple hours tonight. And it was in the middle of a snowstorm ... our third this month!

What should have been a 45 minute drive took me three scary slippery hours!

I started on the Don Valley Parkway but got off at Bloor an hour later (it usually takes me 10 minutes to get that far). Traffic was crawling and I figured I'd be better off driving through the City.

When I got home, our parking lot wasn't plowed and I barely got into our parking spot. I slid into it crookedly but got stuck on some ice so left it as it was. It's a good thing our neighbour wasn't home or I would have slid into her car.

It was initially forecast to be a minor system with only five to 10 cms but most areas received about 20 cms.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Back to reality

After spending a week in 30C temperatures on the cruise, it's not hard to tell that I'm back home in Toronto. Here are some pix from today.

There were some snow storms while I was gone and the temperature right now is -30C with the wind chill. Brrrr!