Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mill St. Brewpub, Toronto, ON

Gord and I headed to Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District for supper. He loves beer (and their beer) and has been wanting to check it out.

Here he is at the entrance.

All the servers dressed up for Halloween ... here's ours (she was a "party animal"):

For supper, I had curried chicken and rice. Gord had corned beef sliders and onion rings.

The curry was really good!

They make their beer onsite ...

It's delicious beer!

Before we left, Gord bought a six-pack of pilsner (it's only sold in their store).

Happy Halloween!


Gord and I don't "do" Halloween.

Yes, we are the ones who turn off all the lights and don't stay home.

So don't bring your rugrats kids around for candy ... we won't be here.

Free Hugs

Need a hug?

They are giving out free hugs today outside the Parkdale Library.

I got two!

Friday, October 30, 2009

H1N1 - To Get a Flu Shot or Not

I'm not rushing to get the H1N1 flu shot. Are you?

I feel healthy enough to hopefully fight it. Instead I'm going to wait to talk to my doctor about it next month and see what she suggests.

From guest blogger, Gord ...

I work in an office up on the 14th floor overlooking Metro Hall and had an opportunity to observe the growing line-up for the H1N1 Flu shot clinic below me.

The clinic put on by Toronto Public Health opened at 10AM but the lineup started forming at around 6AM. Seems people are worried and have great faith in the shot protecting them, even saving their lives. They are also worried as, at the moment, reports say there is not enough to go around.

The clinics opened four days ahead of schedule after a 13 year old hockey player came down with the flu last weekend and died. This stepped up the worry and many people are becoming slightly panicked

The line-up kept growing as the early morning wore on. At first it came up John Street and snaked around the courtyard (pictured left) four or five times. Then it came out onto the King Street W sidewalk and along to a large area between the buildings, where again security had it looping back and forth. By 10:00, the line-up grew and spilled out behind the building that I worked in.

It started to rain but, when I walked by taking pictures shortly after 10, everyone seemed in good spirits, although some who didn't quite dress right for a damp cool rainy morning seemed chilled right through but had no intention of leaving.

Of course, the news vans were there, with reporters and camera people milling about. I asked one cameraman if it was the same at the other clinics. He said this was small and tame compared to the others, especially the day before at East York Civic Centre, where according to CTV News, "By 2 p.m., organizers ended the line-up to newcomers, causing some tempers to heat up. People were still waiting to get shots by the early evening."

Over the day on Friday, Metro Hall gave out more than a thousand vaccinations.

I am not getting a flu shot. Why? I'm not cocky, feeling that I am healthy enough not to come down with this new flu. After all, I came down with the Norwalk flu a few years ago, and in the giving spirit of the Christmas season, passed it on to my friends. I am quite aware that anyone of us could come down with this.

My fear is that I have felt all along that this vaccine was rushed in its development, may not be affective and could possibly do me more harm than good. Interestingly, I read an article in today's Star by Thomas Walkom who says just that. Apparently the Federal Government admitted that it approved the vaccine before the manufacturer finished conducting any clinical trials on it. Not news that I want to hear.

To get a flu shot is a huge decision to make. As it is only been given to "priority groups" at the moment gives us more time to consider the pros and cons. For me, I hope my body builds a strong enough natural immunity. So I wash more regularly than before and keep using the antibacterial gel than is not available everywhere.

Hopefully this flu strain pandemic does not hit as hard as many are suggesting it will or we will be seeing panic.

Wanna see where I live?

The first part shows my 'hood:



Wanna experience the CN Tower? Check this out:



Click here to see more videos of Toronto including Casa Loma, the Entertainment District and Kensington Market.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

10th Annual Wushu World Championships

The 10th Annual Wushu World Championships are being held in Toronto from October 24 to 29.

A fella that Gord works with had a couple tix for tonight he wasn't going to use and gave them to Gord. It was just south of us at Ricoh Centre.

There were three events going on at the same time. We sat kind of in the middle so we could see all the action. There was always something going on.

Men's and Women's Sanshou ...

Men's Daoshu (they were so fast it was hard to take a picture of them!) ...

Women's Gunshu ...

Very cool event!

Book ~ "Same Soul, Many Bodies" (2005) Brian L. Weiss

From Amazon ~ How often have you wished you could peer into the future? In Same Soul, Many Bodies, Brian L. Weiss, M.D., shows us how. Through envisioning our lives to come, we can influence their outcome and use this process to bring more joy and healing to our present lives. Dr. Weiss pioneered regression therapy -- guiding people through their past lives. Here, he goes beyond that to demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of progression therapy -- guiding people through the future in a scientific, responsible, healing way.

Through dozens of case histories detailing both past-life and future-life experiences, Dr. Weiss shows how the choices that we make now will determine our future quality of life. From Samantha, who overcame academic failure once she learned of her future as a great physician, to Evelyn, whose fears and prejudices ended after she envisioned prior and forthcoming lives as a hate victim, Dr. Weiss gives concrete examples of lives transformed by regression and progression therapy.


I'm not sure whether I believe in past lives but I don't disbelieve ... I'm open, I guess.

It was interesting to read about Dr. Weiss' patients and what they perceived to be their past and future lives. If nothing else, hopefully they can use this information to make their lives better and give them hope.

Do you believe in past lives?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The 10 least nutritious breakfast cereals

There's an article in today's Toronto Star about the nutritional value of cereals.

Cereal makers should be ashamed of themselves focusing so much marketing towards children given the obesity levels today!

My fav cereal, Mini-Wheats is on the most nutritious list ... though I like the frosted ones.

What's your favourite cereal?

Journey of a Lifetime

There is a story in today's Toronto Star about a local blogger named Natalia.

Here are some excerpts from the article ...

Natalia Ritchie is unlike most new mothers. Yes, she has dreams and goals for her 3-month-old daughter, Scarlett, but Ritchie, 30, has cystic fibrosis. She has always known she won't live to see most of those dreams for her child fulfilled.

Without a double lung transplant soon, she won't live at all.

...

Natalia Ritchie is utterly pragmatic about illness and death. Even if she gets new lungs, she will be dead before her daughter is in her 20s.

One goal of the blog is to help Scarlett understand why her mortally ill mother would go ahead and have a child.

"We have to have that information and prepare her," Ritchie says, "to make sure she knows how she got here, how badly we wanted her and how much we love her.

"She'll be able to say she had the best Mom in the world and it all didn't matter – the fact that it had to happen the way it did."

Click here to read the entire article.

Her blog is called Journey of a Lifetime and you can check it out here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Public service announcement

Have you ever wondered if the bills in your wallet were ever in a stripper's butt crack?

If not, you're wondering now.

Have a nice day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baked Coca Cola Chicken Wings

From guest blogger, Gord ...

I saw this idea over at Lord of the Wings. He had made Coca Cola wings in which the idea is to brown, then simmer wings in Coke.

Interesting idea!

He had said that if he had to do it again, he would add maybe ginger and garlic.

Again interesting idea!

I took just over 2 1/2 pounds of raw wings and browned them in a stir fry pan. Then I added 2 cans of Coke Zero to fully cover the wings and added in 3 teaspoons of garlic and 3 teaspoons of ginger and put it on simmer.

The idea is the Coke cooks through the wings and then thickens into a sauce. Problem was after half an hour, the liquid was reducing but not thickening. Then it hit me. There is nothing in Coke Zero to thicken the liquid. If I had used regular Coke then the sugar would have been a thickening agent.

Solution? Add some sugar. I had granulated cane sugar (to use in making mojitos) so I added a quarter cup which did the trick.

After simmering for 45 minutes, the skins were rubbery and gooey so I decided to bake them. I placed them onto a rack and spooned some remaining sauce over (picture to the right) and put them in at 400F for 6 minutes. I then flipped them, spooned on the remainder of the sauce and baked for another 8 minutes.

That did the trick.

The skin cooked up nicely. They were slightly sweet and the taste of the ginger came through. It did not take long for Teena and I to finish them off.

This is a recipe I would definitely do again!

Thanks, Lord of the Wings, for a great idea!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hedwig and the Angry Inch


After we saw Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, we stayed for the second play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the story of internationally ignored song stylist Hedwig Schmidt, victim of a botched sex change operation. Hedwig smashes the fourth wall as she tells of her journey from East Berlin to a trailer park in middle-America while pursuing her dreams, love and nemesis.

To be honest, had I not read the description on the Theatre Centre's website, I would have had no idea what was going on.

Why? Because when Hedwig sang (which was a lot), I had no idea what she was saying. There was a back-up band and the drummer, though good, was very loud and drowned her out. And she spoke with a thick German accent at times.

I'm going to rent the movie sometime to see what I missed.

Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical


Tonight we saw the play Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical at The Theatre Centre.

Debbie Does Dallas, a comedic, tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the 1978 adult film of the same name, follows young Debbie Benton in her struggle to get out of small town America and make it as a Texas Cowgirl Cheerleader in the big city of Dallas.

Knowing the movie was porn, I wasn't sure what to expect but it sounded like a fun and unusual plot for a play.

It is cute and funny. Though there is no nudity, you can figure out what the girls are doing to get money so Debbie could get to Dallas ... and let's just say they are successful!

It's a 90 minute play that doesn't drag. If you are looking for something different in a smaller space, I'd suggest you check it out.

The Theatre Centre, Toronto

The Theatre Centre is in our 'hood and Gord and I have been wanting to check it out for a while.

It is part of the Great Hall, which was built in 1889 and housed the first west end YMCA in Toronto. The "Y" offered athletic facilities that included a gymnasium with a raised running track and a basement swimming pool. It was home to some of the earliest basketball games ever played in history.

Over the years, it had many uses including that of the Polish National Union where the presses on the ground floor rolled out copies of The Polish Voice newspaper. On the top floor, rooms were used as temporary shelter for Polish refugees fleeing the war in Europe.

In the mid-80s, the rumble of the presses was replaced by the sound of experimental music and avante-garde art. The Toronto School of Art eventually helped to establish it as an important address for Toronto's arts community.

Today it is a multi-use commercial/residential building consisting of the Theatre Centre operating in the basement for artists who produce and direct original Canadian works. The commercial space fronting Queen Street W is home to Cream Tangerine Art Gallery & Café. The Great Hall on the main floor has a two storey vintage space with 40 ft. ceilings and a third floor balcony, complete a with full kitchen. My friend Deb's daughter got married there in 2002.

A recording studio that works with Canadian artists to produce music and films has space on the top floor. Other areas are home to many writers, photographers and musicians who rent studio space in the building.

Here's Gord outside it tonight:

There is a bar as you enter the theatre space. You can buy snacks including cupcakes ... Chia Kitty was excited about this!

As you enter the actual theatre space, you are on the balcony. The liquor license entends to the balcony so you can watch a play while having a cocktail. Here's the view from it:



The theatre can seat about 120 people. You have to walk down stairs from the balcony to get to the main seating area (where we eventually sat). We suspect this was originally the gym and the balcony was the running track.

It's a good space to check out ... cheap tickets and a small intimate space.

Book ~ "10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea" (2009) Suzy Welch

From Amazon ~ Any choice you make - any decision - will benefit from 10-10-10. We all want to lead a life of our own making. But in today's accelerated world, with its competing priorities, information overload and confounding options, we can easily find ourselves steered by impulse, stress, or expedience. Are our decisions the right ones? Or are we being governed, time and time again, and against our best intentions, by the demands of the moment? A transformative new approach to decision making, 10-10-10 is a tool for reclaiming your life at home, in love, and at work. The process is clear, straightforward, and transparent. In fact, when you're facing a dilemma, all it takes to begin are three questions: What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes? In 10 months? And in 10 years? Sound simple? Not quite. Recounting poignant stories from her own life and the lives of many other dedicated 10-10-10 users, Suzy Welch reveals how exploring the impact of our decisions in multiple time frames invariably surfaces our unconscious agendas, fears, needs, and desires -- and ultimately helps us identify and live according to our deepest goals and values. 10-10-10's applicability is uniquely broad. Whether it is used by college students or busy mothers or senior business executives, artists, government administrators, or entrepreneurs, 10-10-10 has shown its effectiveness in decisions large and small, routine and radical, consistently changing lives for the better. Readers of O magazine discovered this pragmatic and innovative idea when Suzy Welch first introduced it in her column. Now, in this immensely useful and revelatory book, she fully explains the power of 10-10-10, a transformative idea that can replace chaos with consistency, guilt with joy, and confusion with clarity.

Interesting principle and I can see how it would work. I'm going to give it a try!

It makes sense because it makes you step back and analyze the ramifications of your decision, now and in the future. What may seem extremely important today could be be worth nothing in ten months or ten years.

This principle started as an article in O, the Oprah Magazine. To be honest, for me, the article would have been enough as I got the principle and was buying into it by the first or second chapter of the book. The book is a lot of repetition and examples, which for some isn't a bad thing.

So start with the article and apply it. If you need more, get the book.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

RPA Designation Ceremony

Remember back in March when I was granted the Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) designation through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans?

There were about 50 of us who received the CEBS, CMS, GBA and RPA designations in December 2008 and June 2009 from the Toronto area at the conferment ceremony and reception today.

Lunch was good ... mixed greens salad, chicken and rice, and a small chocolate cake, plus some wine.

There were three speeches before each of us was called up to receive a handshake and a gift, while a photographer took pix.

Then he did a group shot of each of the designees. Here's the RPA group, with me at the right.

Here's the gift they gave us ... a holder for our business cards.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kitties do the darndest things!

Kitties get in the funniest spots, don't they?

Byron likes to sit in this window in our spare room ... he's a really good jumper.

Gord recently put this box on my jewelery cabinet ... and discovered Byron in it this afternoon while I was getting supper ready.

Isn't he cute!?

BTW, toilet paper was on sale a couple weeks ago ... we stocked up and had no place else to put it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dismal crop

Remember how excited I was in June when I bought my tomato plants and got them potted?

I had such high hopes for them as I watched them grow ...

Out of eight plants, I ended up with just five cherry tomatoes. Very disappointing!

My next door neighbour has just one tomato plant and she had lots of tomatoes. She even spent a month in Japan visiting her family and still did better than me!

I have one plant left with a tomato ... I'm not giving up on it! Here it is today.

We've had a couple nights of frost ... that is one tough tomato!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book ~ "An Ordinary Decent Criminal" (2005) Michael Van Rooy

From Amazon ~ All ex-drug addict and reformed thief Montgomery Haavik wants to do is settle down with his wife and baby in their new Winnipeg home and work on building a straight life; one free of the day-to-day hustle and danger of being a career criminal. But for a man who's never held down a legitimate job and who faces the daily temptation of returning to the drugs and violence of his past, it isn't going to be easy.When Monty foils a robbery in his new home, killing the intruders, it doesn't make staying on the straight and narrow any easier. He soon finds he has both a small-time crime boss and a star police sargeant looking for ways to ruin him and run him out of town. It's going to take all of the tricks this aging, streetwise ex-con has up his sleeves to prove his innocence and protect his family, all the while avoiding the seductive allure of the life he left behind.

There aren't many mystery novels set in Canada so I was excited to come across this one.

But I didn't enjoy it ... it was confusing, boring, dumb.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Most drivers using cellphones will get lectures

Here in Ontario, it will be law that drivers can't be caught using hand-held phones, texting or fiddling with their GPS or iPod.

I can't wait!

Drivers using cell phones or texting are so dangerous and shouldn't be on the road.

It was supposed to start October 1 ... then it was pushed to the end of October.

There's an article in today's Toronto Star that now it doesn't kick in 'til February. Until then, drivers will receive lectures during the grace period. Lectures?!

Sigh ...

You can read the article here.

Is there a law re hand-held phones, texting or fiddling with their GPS or iPod where you are? Should there be?