Thursday 30 September 2010

FOUR, Toronto

I met Franca, Liz, Rona and Liz's friend, Stacey, for supper tonight at FOUR (Bay/Wellington). I hadn't been there since it was Soul of the Vine years ago.

Welcome to FOUR where we offer a balanced approach to guilt-free dining. We pride ourselves in our commitment to healthful dining by offering all of our dishes under 650 calories; however, our approach to nutrition and wellness is so much more than just calories and carbohydrates - it really is about the kind of food that makes you feel great about what you eat. In other words, we want to help you put the positive into your body so that you can radiate that positive energy right back by looking and feeling fabulous.

Liz, Franca and Rona and I worked together in the mid to late 1990s and get together every three months or so.

Here are Rona, Stacey, Liz, me and Franca.

I started with Baked Chicken Wings (honey soya glaze | star anise + chili). The sauce was cold and the wings were cool ... I'm not sure whether they were supposed to be that way or if they should have been hot. But they were good.

Then I had Grilled Chicken Breast (root vegetables | jasmine rice | apricots | toasted almond + tikka masala yoghurt sauce) ... I passed on the veggies, of course. It was good ... the sauce had a nice bite to it.

Troy, our server, came by to tempt us with dessert which was a tray of shot glasses of mousse for just $2 each!

Liz and I chose Lemon Meringue, Stacey chose Bumble Berry Cheesecake, Rona chose Black Forest Cake and Franca chose Chocolate Mousse.

Yum! We didn't want dessert, just a taste of something sweet and these were perfect.

As always, it was great to see my pals and catch up, though we missed Deb.

Four Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday 27 September 2010

Clara Hughes

Today was a full day of the sales conference and most of it was focused around company stuff.

The "motivational" speaker this afternoon was a surprise ... it was Clara Hughes.

Clara is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater and has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. She is one of only five people who have won medals in both the summer and winter games and is the only person ever to have won multiple medals in both.

She spoke for over an hour and told us how she got started and what was her inspiration.

Afterwards she let everyone hold/wear her medals, signed autographs and had pictures taken. She seems very nice and genuine.

Here are Clara and I ...

I'm wearing the bronze medal she won at the 2010 Winter Olympics in 5000 metre speed skating. It weights 2.5 pounds and seems heavy.

This was the final Olympic race of her career. Her time of 6:55.73 became a new track record, though it was soon beaten by silver medalist Stephanie Beckert of Germany and gold medalist Martina Sáblíková of the Czech Republic. She said though she was proud of winning the bronze medal, she was more proud of racing the race of her life.

Clara's mantra ... open mind, open heart, warrior.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Book ~ "The Dead Don't Get Out Much" (2005) Mary Jane Maffini

From ~ It's the Year of the Veteran and that means a lot to Camilla's friend, Mrs. Violet Parnell. But Mrs. P. claims to have had a conversation with a dead man, which sets her on a journey to discover how that could be. Since she doesn't mention that she's leaving or where she's going, naturally this triggers a protectionist panic with Camilla and Alvin. Mrs. Parnell is well past eighty and, according to the emergency room doctors, it seems likely she's suffered a series of mini-strokes. Meanwhile, the extraordinarily patient Ray Deveau's been planning a romantic trip for Camilla and himself but looks like that just fell off Camilla's radar. So it's a transatlantic trauma as Camilla doggedly tracks Mrs. Parnell through the hills of Italy in search of old secrets with deadly ramifications in the present. Will she find Mrs. P. before someone with good reason to silence her does? Will Ray Deveau quit trying to get together? Will Alvin redecorate Camilla's new digs? Will those sisters ever shut up? What a nightmare!

This fifth book in the Camilla MacPhee series takes us from Ottawa to Italy where Camilla is tracking Mrs. P. down around the country.

It was a fun lively story with an interesting ending ... I didn't see it coming.

There were lots and lots of characters and towards the end, I had a hard time keeping them straight. I should have done what Camilla did and written them down.

As with Maffini's other books, this one has typos ... surprising considering Maffini is a former librarian.

Balnea Spa, Bromont, Quebec

Most of the women I work with who are coming for the sales conference came early to spend some time at Balnea Spa.

It's at the end of a dirt road on a lake.

Here's the first view of the main building.

Understandably cameras aren't allowed but I managed to sneak a couple shots.

This is looking down at the lake. Everyone wanders around in bathing suits and white robes.

There is a dock with deck chairs and big black floating things in the water. One of my colleagues went for a swim ... she said it was COLD!

Near the lake are four or five outdoor hot tubs ... I spent some time in one. There are lots of lounging chairs and fire pits around so everyone can do their own thing.

This is looking up at the main building as I was coming back from the lake.

Inside and outside are saunas, Turkish baths, whirlpools, etc.

I had two services booked. The first one was a 45 minute moisturizing head massage with Neem and coconut oil in the main building. Corrine was very nice!

Then I had a 60 minute full body massage with Marie Josee, who was extremely nice. The massage was different from those I've had before (I've only had massages in Ontario) and it was amazing! My massage was in the stone building next door.

Needless to say, I left feeling VERY relaxed!

Very cool spa ... I'd definitely go back if I was in the area.

Bromont, Quebec

Our company's annual sales conference is in Bromont, Quebec, this year.

It starts tonight and goes 'til Tuesday afternoon about 4pm.

I flew to Montreal this morning and rented a car for the hour drive to get here.

Here is my room ... two big beds just for me!

Bromont is well known as a tourist destination for its downhill skiing, mountain biking, water slides, golf as well as equestrian events.

Here's looking up at the ski hills. The leaves are changing colours ... gorgeous!

Saturday 25 September 2010

Greenbelt Greenhouse, Gormley

After we left the hop farm, we went to Greenbelt Greenhouse, which was in the area.

Ian, the owner, is a friend of Sandy's and gave us a tour.

He grows a lot of tomatoes ...

... and greens.

Steam Whistle bus tour to a hop farm in Gormley, ON

Gord and I did the Steam Whistle bus tour to a hop farm in Gormley (about a half hour drive away).

Here's Gord in front of the bus.

Along for the ride was ice and cases of beer.

Here's Davia, our driver ... she rocked!

We drove to Sandy's hop farm. He gave us some info about hops (it adds flavour to beer).

The beer was put on ice and we could help ourselves.

Gord loves hoppy beer and spent a lot of time among the plants.

A BBQed lunch was included ...

Yummy sausages!

Sandy also has animals ...

It is the end of the growing season and Sandy has volunteers (they work for beer!) ripping down the plants.

Here's our group ...

It was a fun informative day ... definitely worth the $20 cost!