Tuesday 31 March 2009

Celebrating Gord's birthday

Gord and I celebrated his birthday today by going to the Elmwood Spa.

We hung out in the hot tub ... then the pool ... then the hot tub ... then had a couples massage (Rich focused on my back and arms) ... then went back to the hot tub. Yes!

We ended up at Smokeless Joe's and I treated Gord to some Deus Brut des Flandres ... a champagne-style beer that was $51.25 for a 750ml bottle and is 11.5% (it's the second on this list).

Here's Eddie, our bartender, getting ready to pour it for us.

It's poured into a champagne flute.

It was tasty. Had I been blindfolded, I never would have known that it was beer. It felt like champagne but didn't taste like it. It was a different taste ... but good.

Chia Kitty liked it too!

Happy birthday, Gord!

It's Gord's birthday today!
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Monday 30 March 2009

Book ~ "Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity" (2008) Kerry Cohen

From Powell's Books ~ Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen's memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction — not just to sex, but to male attention — Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning. It didn't matter who he was. It was their movement that mattered, their being together. And for a while, that was enough.

Kerry Cohen's journey from that hopeless place to her current confident and fulfilled existence is a cautionary tale and a revelation for girls young and old. The unforgettable memoir of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.

This sounded like an interesting story.

But as one of the reviews I just read said, it's basically a "laundry list" of all the guys she slept with, some she can't remember their name, while looking for someone to love her. She uses guys and allows herself to be used by them.

She knows there's something wrong and even sees a therapist. But instead of trying to fix herself, she keeps on with her destructive behaviour. She eventually marries and still feels the urge to screw around.

I found her sad and pathetic and not likeable at all. Sad to say but I didn't feel bad for her.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Saturday walkabout

It was a gorgeous day today ... 10C and sunny.

After running errands, Gord and I went for a stroll in our 'hood.

We had lunch at the Levack Block on Ossington. My BLT with roasted potatoes was only $7! Lotsa food!

Walking up Ossington, we came across a store that had way too many Barbies!
We stopped at the Dakota Tavern. The Kensington Hillbillies were playing old time country tunes.

I made wings for supper using a recipe I found in this week's Toronto Star. The sauce was good but didn't thicken like it was supposed to. And I like a crispy wing. But I'd try it again.

Friday 27 March 2009

Spring is here!

I walked home after the movie.

It was gorgeous ... sunny and 10C.

How do I know that spring is here?

The skating rink at City Hall is melting ...

and the patio at the Black Bull was packed!

Sunday 22 March 2009

Book ~ "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Law of Attraction" (2008) Diane Ahlquist

From Amazon ~ In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Law of Attraction, readers learn exactly how to be their own best friend—and avoid being their own worst enemy. The secret lies in translating thoughts into positive energy that can transform life. Every person can take real, concrete actions to get the results they want in every aspect of life. Concrete, practical strategies for applying the Law of Attraction to your health, relationships, and career.

I find the whole concept of laws of attraction fascinating, whether it's true or not.

I read The Secret a couple years ago and this book is based on similar principles except it explains it all very simply.

I was driving up the Don Valley Parkway on Friday morning. Usually it's jammed and I get stuck in traffic starting at Eglinton. I kept thinking "clear highway" ... and I didn't have to slow down once. Thinking "no traffic" would have been wrong since "traffic" is what would have been "heard" and I would have been given lots of traffic. When I got to the parking lot at work, I wanted a close spot and the best one was open.

Does it work? Coincidence? Or was it because it was March Break there were less cars on the road?

What do you think about the law of attraction?

"Married Alive", Stage West, Toronto, ON

Gord and I saw Married Alive! at Stage West today.

Married Alive! is a new musical revue that celebrates marital bliss and blisters. Focusing on two couples, Erin and Paul, a pair of wide-eyed newlyweds, and Ron and Diane, more experienced “oldyweds”, the show touches affectionately on the adventure from these two vantage points. Married Alive! uses a variety of musical and dramatic styles to spin and have fun with various moments of the two couples we can relate to. From babies to empty nests, from stress to bliss, this musical takes a funny, yet affectionate look at married life, from Niagara to Viagra!

The Toronto Star only gave it one out of four stars so I wasn't expecting much. My friend, Franca saw it, though, and said it was funny.

And it wasn't too bad. There were some so-so moments but also some funny ones.

The two female leads had been in Boeing, Boeing, which we hadn't liked. Sweeney MacArthur was the husband in the older couple and he was funny. Jamie McKnight, the husband in the younger couple, was good too.

As usual, I ate too much.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Wheat Sheaf, Toronto, ON

I taught Excel Formulas downtown today for the company training company I work for.

Then I met Gord after work and we walked home.

We stopped at the Wheat Sheaf, one of Toronto's oldest pubs, for a couple beer and supper on the patio.

It was packed!

And there was a line-up when we left.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Martin Goodman Trail, Toronto, ON

It was such a nice day (sunny and 9C) so KC and I headed to the beach.

Because Gord took the car to Kingston yesterday, KC and I took the Queen streetcar.

KC hates riding in the car but doesn't mind the streetcar. She's only been on it a handful of times, just in the last year.

We got off just east of Humber Bay Bridge and walked east along the boardwalk. There were lots of people out and about with their dogs.

We hadn't been to the beach since the fall so there was lots for KC to sniff.

Seeing people playing beach volleyball gives me hope that spring is indeed around the corner.

We walked to the Palais Royale and crossed the bridge over the Gardiner before grabbing the Queen streetcar home.

Looks like KC had a good walk ... she's been snoozing since we got home.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Book ~ "A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby" (2008) Jana Kohl

From Amazon ~ A tale of hope, courage, and the amazing journey of one special dog.

When you meet Baby, the first thing you notice is her limp. She only has three legs, you see -- she lost one following years of mistreatment at a puppy mill. But spend a little more time with Baby and her irrepressible "Ma," Jana Kohl, and you'll hear the story of how this gentle creature has gone from puppy-mill victim to celebrity "spokesdog" -- hobnobbing with celebrities, lobbying politicians, and inspiring an entire movement to end the kind of animal abuse she suffered for so many years.

Several years ago, Jana decided she wanted to buy a toy poodle. But the nightmarish conditions she was confronted with at a breeder's farm -- hundreds of dogs confined to small, dirty cages for their entire lives until they were killed for the crime of being too old to produce puppies -- opened her eyes to abuses in the world of commercial breeding. There are thousands of puppy mills all across the United States, and most of those cute little puppies in pet store windows are products of such nightmarish places. Jana knew this was a wrong she couldn't ignore.

Her first step was to adopt a rescued adult dog instead of buying a puppy from a commercial breeder. And that's how she found Baby, a roughly nine-year-old poodle who had been locked in a cage. But Jana's mission didn't stop there. Soon, Jana and Baby (whose sweet face and three-legged hobble attract attention wherever she goes) found themselves speaking to groups about the terrible conditions at many breeders' farms and urging politicians to change the lax laws that regulate this industry. Today, Baby is the unofficial spokesdog for the Humane Society of the United States on the topic of puppy mills, and she and Jana travel around the country lobbying for reform on this important issue.

A Rare Breed of Love contains more than sixty photographs of Baby with many of her high-profile fans, from Barack Obama to Judge Judy to Patti LaBelle, as well as original essays from luminaries such as Alice Walker and Gloria Steinem about the special love we all have for the pets in our lives. In this heartbreaking, compelling, and ultimately heartwarming book, Jana Kohl and Baby offer practical advice on what each of us can do to raise awareness, make a difference, and stop animal suffering everywhere.

You know how much I love animals! So I tend to read a lot of books about dogs and cats. So that's what attracted me to this book.

Baby was a breeder dog. She didn't even have a name ... she had "94" tattooed in her ear which served as her "expiry date", which had arrived. Thankfully she found a good home with the author who is now campaigning to raise awareness of puppy mills.

This is Baby today. What an amazing dog!

Friday 13 March 2009

Book ~ "Foods Pets Die For" (2008) Ann N. Martin

From Chapters.ca ~ The commercial pet food industry has a secret to hide and Ann Martin wants to make sure you know it. Her research reveals some startling facts: that the pet food industry conducts animal testing in order to improve their product, and includes euthanized cats and dogs in the mix to heighten protein content. In this revised and updated edition, Martin continues to explore the shocking processes by which commercial pet foods are produced. She offers alternative recipes for feeding pets, nutritional advice, and an exploration of "Pet Peeves," in which she explores several scams aimed at pet owners. This groundbreaking book gives us a glimpse into exactly what we are doing when we buy pet food.

If you have a pet, you should read this book.

It talks about what is in pet foods. If you are feeding your pet food that has meat meal in it, you are feeding your pet the carcasses of dead cats and dogs. How ghastly is that?!

If you want to avoid feeding your pets processed food, there are lots of recipes you can make at home.

Book ~ "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die" (2008) John B. Izzo

From Chapters ~ What are the secrets to finding happiness? Why do some people live well and die happy? John Izzo asked thousands of people to identify the wisest person they knew. "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die" shares what he learned from over 200 people aged 60-106 whom others said had found the meaning in life. From town barbers to Holocaust survivors, from aboriginal chiefs to CEOs, these people had over 18,000 years of life experience. With warmth and wit, this book shares the "Five Secrets" to a happy and purpose-filled life which Izzo distilled from listening to these stories. Dr. Izzo also shows the reader how to put these secrets into practice in our lives. This book will make you laugh, bring you to tears and inspire you to discover what matters long before you die. Based on a highly acclaimed TV series appearing on public television, this book takes the reader on a heart-warming and profound journey to find lasting happiness.

A nice book. A good reminder of how we should be living.

In case you're wondering, the five secrets are:

1. Be true to yourself
2. Leave no regrets
3. Become love
4. Live the moment
5. Give more than you take

Read the book to get the details.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Book ~ "New Rules For Retirement" (2008) Warren MacKenzie and Ken Hawkins

From Amazon. com ~ The financial advice industry - including banks, mutual fund and insurance companies - has a vested interest in our hard-earned savings. Industry advisors are constantly warning us that we may not be financially prepared for retirement. And, feeling anxious about our future, we become convinced that it's a good idea to let them handle our money. After all, they seem to have all the answers. But retirement planning today isn't the same as it was in the past. We're living longer, leading more active lives, with more options about how we want to live once employment is no longer the main focus. For the 1.6 million Canadians who will be retiring in the next five years, the questions at play are more complex than "How much do I need to retire?"

Industry veterans Warren MacKenzie and Ken Hawkins have seen firsthand the mistakes that Canadians make in their financial preparations for the future. In The New Rules for Retirement, they offer simple, unbiased advice while at the same time debunking the many myths surrounding retirement.

I've been working in the investment and retirement industry since 1988 in marketing and education. I freelance with an insurance company conducting seminars to the members of their group retirement plans. So I enjoy reading books about retirement planning.

There are a variety of topics covered in this book including demographics, retirement lifestyles, calculating your cost of living in retirement, calculating your retirement income and determining which is the most appropriate asset allocation.

I especially liked that in the back of the book there are many online resources listed by chapter. Plus there is a bibliography in case you want to follow up on the books and articles mentioned throughout.

This is an excellent book, whether you are a newbie or a pro. As someone who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, I did enjoy it.

The authors are with Second Opinion Investor Services Inc., which according to their website, gives unbiased independent advice on the investing process. They're not influenced by incentives to sell or manage investment products because they don't sell or manage money - they charge by the hour the way accountants do. The fact that they are unbiased comes through in the book.

KC's Excellent Adventure

I worked from home today.

I took advantage of that by taking KC to the vet this afternoon ... she hadn't had her eyes checked again since the infection last month.

The vet is very pleased with KC! Yay!

Because I put ointment in her eyes twice a day, I can see how much they have improved. They are looking better than ever!

Her vet was working in their other location today, so rather than driving, we took the streetcar there and walked home.

What would have been a 30 minute walk for me took us over an hour ... because there was soooo much new stuff for KC to sniff!

We came across Sorauren Park and wandered through.

It's not much of a park, basically a small field.

But KC seemed to enjoy it.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Sunday 1 March 2009

Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto, ON

KC and I took a walk to Trinity Bellwoods Park this morning. We were gone just over an hour.

It was -11C (-14C with the windchill) and sunny.

KC had fun ... she was running around like a puppy! She hadn't been there for a while so there was lots to sniff.

There is a plant that she is addicted to there. She'll race to it and gobble it up. Here she is looking for it ... alas, she couldn't find any.

There were no dogs in the off-leash area. No doubt because it's a bed of ice.