Thursday 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

New Years Wishes

I wish you Health .... so you may enjoy each day in comfort.

I wish you the Love of friends and family ... and peace within your heart.

I wish you the Beauty of nature ... that you may enjoy the work of Mother Nature.

I wish you Wisdom to choose priorities ... for those things that really matter in life.

I wish you Generosity so you may share ... all good things that come to you.

I wish you Happiness and Joy ... and Blessings for the New Year.

I wish you the best of everything ... that you so well deserve.

Book ~ "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" (1970) Judy Blume

From Amazon ~ If anyone tried to determine the most common rite of passage for preteen girls in North America, a girl's first reading of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret would rank near the top of the list. Judy Blume and her character Margaret Simon were the first to say out loud (and in a book even) that it is normal for girls to wonder when they are ever going to fill out their training bras. Puberty is a curious and annoying time. Girls' bodies begin to do freakish things - or, as in Margaret's case, they don't do freakish things nearly as fast as girls wish they would. Adolescents are often so relieved to discover that someone understands their body-angst that they miss one of the book's deeper explorations: a young person's relationship with God. Margaret has a very private relationship with God and it's only after she moves to New Jersey and hangs out with a new friend that she discovers that it might be weird to talk to God without a priest or a rabbi to mediate. Margaret just wants to fit in! Who is God, and where is He when she needs Him? She begins to look into the cups of her training bra for answers ...

I can remember reading this book when I was in grade six (1973/74).

I've always loved reading and this is one of the few books I can remember reading when I was young (the Nancy Drew series and Trixie Belden series also stand out).

I just reread it even though it's been a long long while since I've been 11.

It's a quick read and I didn't mind that it's dated in spots (it's pre-computers, they are still playing records, and boys and girls dress up to go to parties). It was still a good story and holds its own after all these years.

Did you read it when you were young? How long has it been since you read it?

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Book ~ "What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner" (2006) Emily Yoffe

From Amazon ~ Journalist Yoffe recalls her entry into urban dog ownership - a life experience this former "cat person" thought she could avoid - in this witty memoir. Yielding to immense pressure from her husband and young daughter, Yoffe finds herself the main caretaker of a rather high-maintenance rescued beagle, Sasha. Like most books in the pet genre, this one is cute; unlike many, it's not precious. Yoffe relates amusing tales of bodily functions gone awry and house-training incidents (beagles are notorious for having difficulty in this area), as well as vivid recollections of Sasha's behavioral training. She also includes tidbits from people she's met at dog classes and competitions. "[A]lmost everyone I knew with a dog had a story. Maybe companionship and someone to lick your feet isn't what really motivates people to have dogs. Maybe being able to tell dog stories is." Yoffe fleshes out her anecdotes with fun facts about canines, on such things as the evolution from wolf to dog and the fatality of a dog bite. Not surprisingly, Yoffe eventually becomes a true dog lover and Sasha becomes just the first in a series of beagle orphans to traipse through the author's home.

I'd never heard of Yoffe nor had I read any of her columns. But I love reading stories about animals.

I took a dislike to the author right away ... I found her to be cold. I liked her sarcasm for the most part but in some cases I found it to be in poor taste.

Despite that, I enjoyed the book. There were lots of stories about pets that the owner had had along with people she knew. And I did applaud her involvement in BREW (Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare).

I must say, though, that I questioned some of the stories she related ... some were horrible and I wondered why the owners were ever allowed to have pets.

Making sure the kids are comfy

For some reason, KC and Byron (though not together) like to sleep in the hallway next to the bathroom.

We put an old pillow with a towel there so they'd be more comfy. It's been a big hit!

I picked them up a proper bed this morning.

Though they all checked it out, it was Morgan who settled in for a bit.

The true test will be tonight as that seems to be their favourite time to sleep there.

2pm update: Byron likes it!

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Do socks multiply like bunnies?

One of the things I wanted ... nay, needed ... to do was get my sock drawer under of control.

I've got the top three drawers and Gord has the bottom three. My socks are in the third drawer and were escaping into Gord's drawers below.

Here's the before situation.

First step was to dump them all onto the bed. Morgan has a sock fetish so was there in a flash.

Then I sorted them. Black socks in one pile ...

Non-black socks in another ...

I put together pairs and further sorted ... trouser socks, gym socks, fun colourful socks, etc. You can see how exhausting it was ... even the kitties were pooped!

Tah-da! The socks are once again sorted and drawer closes again.

It turns out I have 80 pairs of socks ... yes, 80! There were 24 pairs of black socks ... I must have some of Gord's mixed in there.

I only had three singles that I couldn't match up.

And the kitties are happy to get the bed to themselves again.

Monday 28 December 2009

Bingo bags

Gord and I spent this afternoon at bingo. We hadn't gone in a while.

The games basically haven't changed ... but there are some twists that have been added.

Like if you buy an extra strip for a couple of the games, you could win $5000 rather than $1000. Sounds good!

And they have a game where you pick eight numbers and, if all are called within 21 numbers, you could win almost $15,000. Sounds good!

One of the employees walking around selling the strips took good care of us! He explained everything. Plus he kept checking back us to make sure we were okay. I would have tipped him well had I won.

But alas, we didn't win ... we didn't even come close!

It can get ugly at bingo.

There was an old woman in a wheelchair sitting across from us at the next table. At one point, she yelled, "Slow down". It turns out she was playing the wrong game which had less cards (hence the quickness). Others around her started hissing at her, "Go home."

A bingo hall I used to go to at St. Clair/Bathurst years ago had a murder during a Sunday afternoon session. One of the employees who walk around selling extra strips got into a fight with a patron, flipped out and stabbed him in the throat! That bingo hall closed down ... there's a Salvation Army store there now.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Book ~ "How Not to Act Old: 185 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame" (2009) Pamela Redmond Satran

From Amazon ~ How to be cool when you're afraid you've forgotten how ...

Sure, you can try to stay younger by exercising, coloring your hair and wearing stylish clothes - but how do you respond when someone asks, "Do you Twitter?" How Not to Act Old gives you simple ways to come back from over the hill and to act as young as you look.

Covering everything from old-people entertainment (cancel that dinner party!) to old-people communication (it's called a "voice mail" not a "message" and no one leaves or listens to them anyway), Pamela Redmond Satran decodes the behaviors, viewpoints, and cultural touchstones that separate you from the hip young person you wish you still were. This irreverent guide is essential for anyone who doesn't want to embarrass their kids - or themselves.

I read about this book in the September issue of More magazine and thought it sounded like fun.

It's a quick read (I read it in a couple hours this evening). Alas, I'm guilty of so much! Ha!

Here are seven examples ...
  1. Unstrap the Rolex - The young don't wear a watch because they can get the time on their cell phone.

  2. Don't leave a message - Young people figure the other person will see their number in missed calls and reach out if they want or need to talk.

  3. Don't spout any history - If it happened before 2001, who cares?

  4. Don't block the aisle in the grocery story.

  5. Don't fear the wax - Waxing "down there" is one of the major differences between younger and older women.

  6. Don't yell into your cell.

  7. Don't cook a roast - Apparently no one under the age of 40 knows how to roast meat and they don't want to know.

Book ~ "Confessions of a Carb Queen" (2007) Susan Blech and Caroline Boch

From Amazon ~ When her doctor told her she could suffer a stroke just by walking across the street, Susan Blech knew drastic action was called for. She was only 38 years old and the scale registered a life-threatening 468 pounds. Rejecting the idea of gastric bypass surgery, Susan relocated to Durham, North Carolina, giving up all that was familiar and $70,000 of her life savings to devote herself to losing weight and getting healthy on the famed Rice Diet. In Confessions of a Carb Queen, Susan Blech speaks candidly about topics no obese person has dared to address: fat sex, eating binges, the lies you tell others, and the lies you tell yourself. She explores the psychological component of overeating and the connection between her own binge eating and the aneurysm that left her mother brain-damaged and paralyzed when Susan was a toddler. Her gripping story - a blend of memoir, advice, and delicious, health-conscious recipes - is a testament to her personal strength and willpower, and will be an inspiration to all who read it.

My friend, Angie, had recommended this book last month. I like reading stuff like this so I checked it out.

It was good and I enjoyed it.

Susan's account was very honest ... too honest probably at times for some.

Susan moved to Durham to join the Rice Diet Clinic. She was there for more than two years. The program sounds extreme to me but you gotta do what you gotta do ... and you stick with what works.

I just read some reviews on Amazon and some readers condemned her for apparently gaining some weight back. That's life, folks. I've found that it's easier to lose weight than it is to keep it off.

Saturday 26 December 2009

TRHA Union Station Tour, Toronto, ON

Gord and I did a tour of Union Station today that is offered by the Toronto Railway Historical Association the last Saturday of every month. It's 2.5 hours and only $10. You should definitely check it out!

Built between 1915 and 1930, the magnificent Union Station with its spectacular Great Hall is one of Toronto’s most cherished buildings. Union Station is the largest railway terminal ever built in Canada and was designated a National Historic Site in 1975. Union Station is also Canada’s busiest transportation hub, handling more passengers than Pearson Airport. On weekdays, more than 180 GO Trains and 150,000 commuters pass through the station as well as 45 VIA trains and 5,000 intercity passengers, which is over 50% of all VIA’s riders nationwide.

Hundreds of television shows, commercials and Hollywood movies have been filmed in Union Station including the Oscar-winning Chicago; the Jack Nicholson film, The Last Detail; and Silver Streak, the hit 1975 comedy/thriller featuring a runaway train and a spectacular train wreck.

There's Gord outside one of the main entries.

Derek Boles was our guide and was very knowledgeable.

We started in the Great Hall.

Derek took us to places (along with a security guard) that the general public doesn't have access to.

We were where the trains come in and people board ... we weren't allowed to take pictures for security reasons.

We saw where the baggage used to be stored ... there's an original battery-operated cart.

We had a tour of the former executive offices, which are now used in movies.

One of the former VPs had an office complete with a bathroom (with a shower) and kitchen (it had the only bar in Toronto during prohibition times).

We walked across the glass floor that is between the windows on the west window (fourth picture above).

We also got to walk along the passageways on the third floor ... here are the views.

There's the passageway we were just on (the upper one).

There are lots of restoration renovations coming up in the new few years ... should be interesting to see the results!

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.

Friday 25 December 2009

Christmas dinner

Since there's just the two of us, Gord and I don't do a turkey.

Instead, we usually do a couple Cornish hens stuffed with Stove Top Stuffin' along with some rice.

Here's my Christmas dinner (Gord had the same) ...

The furkids get a special treat too on Christmas Day.

We get them a can of Thanksgiving Day Dinner. They can't read so they don't know it doesn't say Christmas Day Dinner (I doubt they'd care anyway!).

Gord has it nicely prepared for them ... Yum! Yum! KC supervised.

And then the feast begins!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Duggan's Brewery, Toronto, ON

After we left the Grindhouse Burger Bar, Gord and I headed to Duggan's Brewery. You know how much Gord loves beer! It's only been open for a couple weeks and is in the old Denison's spot (Yonge/Adelaide). So far, they only have the upstairs open but have plans to have a store to sell their beer. They brew their beer onsite. Here's Gord with the #3 German Pils. I liked it too! Gord also tried the #9 IPA, #8 London Porter and #7 Stout. I tried the #5 Asian Lager. I liked it ... it tasted like popcorn-flavoured jelly beans. We split an order of wings ... they were tasty and had an Asian heat to them.

Grindhouse Burger Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord and I took a walk toward downtown this afternoon and stopped at the Grindhouse Burger Bar at King Street W/Peter for a late lunch.

It's only been open for a month or so. They've renovated it nicely.

Here's Gord having a Big Wheel.

Our lunch arrived. Gord ordered a bison burger and onion rings.

And I ordered a regular beef burger.

The buns are made with beer onsite. Yum!

It was interesting to note that all menu items are made in-house and are free of refined sugar and preservatives ... no diet pop because of the aspartame. All food is naturally raised and hormone-free. They even consult a holistic nutritionist!

Gord was excited when he heard they had Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout!

Here's me and our server, Christina. She took good care of us.