Monday 31 December 2012

New Years Eve party at Café d’Époque, Mont Tremblant, QC

Last month Gord and I had bought tickets for the New Years Eve party at the Café d’Époque, Mont Tremblant's only nightclub.  The early bird prices started at $50 each, depending on when you bought them (we paid $60).  If you bought them today, they were $100!

Included were:
  • Free souvenir mystical winter photo shoot with high-res download 
  • Free hats, mask, noisemakers and other party favors for every guest 
  • Largest balloon drop on the mountain!! 
  • Champagne toast at midnight 
  • Mystical Winter Sweets Station Raffle drawing with amazing prizes 
  • A must see magical winter midnight countdown 
  • Amazing resident DJ Xstream and special guest the legendary DJ Double J 
  • Beer, shooters, champagne, and mixed drinks (non-premium) $3!!! 8pm to 1am

We got there about 11pm and were in a line-up outside (in a bit of a snowstorm) for about ten minutes, even though we had tickets.

When we got in, the place was jammed ... waaaaay overpacked for such a small venue.

It took a while but we grabbed some drinks and found a place to stand.

Fireworks, Mont Tremblant, QC

About 8ish, there were crowds of people heading up through the pedestrian village towards to the base of the mountain to watch the fireworks display.

It was spectacular!  Standing with the crowd with snow coming down was awesome!

There was a bandstand set up nearby and they were cranking the tunes!  A great way for a family to bring in the new year!

Microbrasserie La Diable, Mont Tremblant, QC

Gord loves to check out microbreweries so we had supper at Microbrasserie La Diable.

Gord tried a few of their draught and his favourite was the Real Ale

It was jammed and we were lucky to get a table.

Mont Tremblant, Quebec

When Gord and I arrived in Mont Tremblant this afteroon, our room wasn't ready so we took a walk.  It's a lot different than when Sister Sarah and I were here in May.

Sister Sarah and I had done the luge and climbed up this part of the mountain in May ... then it was 29C and sunny.  Today it was -15C.

Mont Tremblant Airport, Quebec

Gord and I are spending a couple days in Mont Tremblant to bring in the new year.

Porter flies from the Toronto Island Airport to the airport in Mont Tremblant in 70 minutes during ski season.  Sweet!

When we landed, we got off the airplane onto the runway.  Then we have to walk into the airport.  It looks like a log cabin ... how cute is that?!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Tallboys - Craft Beer House, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper tonight at Tallboys (Bloor W/Ossington).  It opened in September and has been a big hit with the craft beer drinkers.  We've been wanting to go for a while.

I ordered the Classic Burger with fries.

Gord ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich with a salad.

We shared our sandwiches (so we had half of each).  Because I don't like lettuce and Gord doesn't like tomatoes, they put them on the side rather than on the sandwiches so we could do what we wanted.  Both sandwiches were very good.  We made the mistake, though, of eating the burger first.  It was delicious!!  The chicken sandwich was good too but the burger overpowered it with it's taste and juiciness.  We should have eaten the chicken sandwich first.  I'd get both again but would probably have the burger more often.  The fries were tasty.

Lindsay was our server and she took good care of us.

We'll be back!

TALLBOYS - Craft Beer House on Urbanspoon

Book ~ "The Money Code: Improve Your Entire Financial Life Right Now" (2013) Joe John Duran

From Goodreads ~ Does it seem like there is never enough money to do everything you want?

Do you want to feel confident about the financial decisions you make?

Have you ever felt frustrated talking about money with your loved ones?

You are not alone. Unfortunately, most of us were never taught how to think and communicate about money. The Money Code is a modern tale of one person's journey to uncover the five secrets to living his one best financial life. Through his voyage, you will learn how to:
  • Prevent bad decisions about money
  • Identify your Money Mind - Fear, Happiness or Commitment - and how it affects every financial decision you make
  • Use a custom checklist to improve your entire financial life
  • Clearly discuss decisions about money with the ones you love
  • Finally take control of your financial life

This book is meant to help you understand yourself and those around you as well as provide you with a road map for making sound financial decisions.  The Money Code does this by using a fictional character named Jack.  After he and his wife split up, Jack's sister suggests he get in touch with The Alchemist, who will change how he makes decisions about money.

The Alchemist urges Jack to log onto his website and complete exercises (the chapters are set up as if Jack is actually on the website) to learn the five money secrets:
  1. Your life will be filled with tough choices
  2. Your entire life is determined by how you make decisions
  3. Your biases will affect every decisions you make.  There are three Money Minds ... (1) Help protect us from pain (Fear),  (2) Help us do the things that make us happy (Happiness) and (3) Help us look after the people we love (Commitment).  I did the Money Mind test and have a Happiness Money Mind (I've learned over the years not to be so impulsive when making decisions and take a step back to think about it) followed closely by a Fear Money Mind
  4. You will be distracted by things that really don't matter
  5. You must have a good process to make good decisions
Since I work in the financial services industry, I like checking out books like this to see how others explain things.  This took an interesting approach by having "Jack" go through the exercises with us instead of having the author just tell us what we should be doing. Also, there are stories throughout the book to help us relate to the different situations.  I liked the writing style and found it explained things wells and wasn't too high level.  It's a quick read.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Book ~ "The Weight-Loss Prescription: A Doctor's Plan for Permanent Weight Reduction and Better Health for Life" (2013) Ali Zentner

From Goodreads ~ Obesity specialist Dr. Ali Zentner has written the ultimate prescription for permanent weight loss and better health. Her revolutionary plan lets you customize your diet and ultimately change your lifestyle to help you conquer the weight-loss battle. The program helps you diagnose your patterns of eating behaviour and gives you strategies to change the way you look at food once and for all. Whether you are an emotional eater, a fast-food junkie, or a calorie drinker, The Weight-Loss Prescription will get you started on a new path to a healthy life.

Using her medical science background and experience working with thousands of overweight and obese patients to achieve their weight-loss goals, Zentner helps you identify your overeating pattern and shows you steps to modify your diet for dramatic, long-term change. Unlike other one-size-fits-all diet books, The Weight-Loss Prescription will help you customize a diet plan specific to your weight-loss goals. Filled with inspiring success stories, tools, strategies, and recipes, The Weight-Loss Prescription will motivate you to embrace a revolutionary lifestyle change.

Yes, this is is another book about weight loss.  But the key here is first determining which of the six eating personalities you are.  After that, there is a chapter dedicated to each personality which describes each eating personality and what to do about.
  1. The emotional eater - if I have a bad day, a slice of pizza will fix it!
  2. The calorie drinker
  3. The fast-food junkie
  4. The all-or-nothing dieter - This is sooooooo me!  I'm either on track or I'm not (and when I'm off track, I'm waaaaaay off track!) ... there is no in-between or balance for me.  I need to accept that it's okay to fall off track but I need to minimize the fall and get back on track almost immediately.
  5. The portion distorter
  6. The sitting duck
After that she gives helpful tips such as being happy and positive with the here and now, keeping a food diary (when I'm on track, I use Fitday), meal makeovers, the importance of breakfast, eating out, special situations (parties, holidays and vacations), what to do when you get derailed, and staying on track.

At the end, there are some meal suggestions along with lots recipes.

I've read lots of weight loss books over the years and I enjoyed this one.  I liked the writing style ... it wasn't boring or at a high level.  With the information provided, there are stories of her clients to make it more real.  Plus I liked that the focus was with the eating personalities ... I could definitely relate to the all-or-nothing dieter section.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Friday 28 December 2012

Kitty kuddling

Crumpet and Morgan settled on the chair together tonight.

Then began the mutual cleaning (tabbies love love love to clean!).

Even after Crumpet decided to have a snooze, Morgan continued to clean her.  She didn't seem to mind.

Time to snooze.

And then Gord sneezed and they scattered :(

Book ~ "A Taste of Heaven" (2013) Meg Tilly

From Goodreads ~ Madison Stokes leads a pretty average life: average mom and dad, average looks, average grades well, maybe her little sister is MUCH brattier than average but nothing out of the ordinary.

All that changes when quiet, secretive Alyssa Hawkins moves to town. When Madison takes Alyssa under her wing, the two girls quickly bond over chocolate-chip cookies and become best friends. Amazingly, Alyssa doesn't even mind Madison's bratty sister!

But there are some things Alyssa still won't share. Why won't she talk about her family? And why is she so reluctant to have Madison over to her house? She's harbouring a secret that could put their treasured friendship in jeopardy and when Madison finds out by accident, Alyssa makes Madison promise not to tell anyone, not even Madison's parents.

But should Madison tell them anyway? When is it all right to tell a little white lie and when should you come clean with the truth?

Madison is ten when Alyssa (also ten) moves to town and they become best friends right away.  They always hang out at Madison's house which to Alyssa is "a taste of heaven".  When Madison pushes Alyssa to hang out at her place for a change, Madison soon learns why Alyssa likes hanging out with Madison's family.  Madison discovers Alyssa's secret home life and pinky swears not to tell anyone.

I'm not sure who the target audience is with this book but I really enjoyed it, even though Madison and Alyssa are only ten.   I liked the characters, both the adults and kids.  I liked the writing style and didn't find it immature.  I think it would be suitable reading for age 10 right up to adults, though there is mild swearing once or twice.

If this is indicative of Meg Tilly's books, I look forward to reading more.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Book ~ "Cowboy with a Cause" (2012) Carla Cassidy

From Goodreads ~ "I'd apologize for kissing you, but I'm not all that sorry."

Dancer Melanie Brooks had escaped small-town Oklahoma, giving up the country for Broadway's bright lights. Yet after her mother's funeral called her back, her own health issues forced her to stay. Now her tenant, too-hot-for-his-own-good Adam Benson, is giving her a reason to dance again. But has a killer set his sights on her too? 

Adam knows a little something about fresh starts. As for his beautiful neighbor, he doesn't see a wheelchair—he sees a woman who understands. But as the heat grows between them, he can't avoid the feeling that more than her big-city past haunts her—and that danger has been lurking, waiting to strike….

This is romance meets murder mystery.

The romance is between Melanie and Adam.  In high school, Melanie made it clear that once she graduated she was heading to New York to be a dancer ... and that's exactly what she did.  Years later she came home to care for her dying mother and ending up staying as she lost her dreams of being a dancer when an accident puts her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  Needless to say, she's very bitter.

Adam has had some tragedy ... his sister has died and his brother is in jail for murder.  Adam's brother, Nick, has recently gotten married and is living on their ranch with his new wife and child.  Adam wants to give them some space so looks for somewhere else to live ... Melanie needs to rent the top part of her house (she needs the money to pay the taxes so she won't lose the house).  As they live together, the sparks fly.  Adam is resistant because he feels he needs to get his life in order and Melanie is resistant because she feels she's not a whole woman since she's not in a wheelchair.

Two woman have been murdered in the last six months and it seems that Melanie is next on the list.  There are a few suspects on the list which keeps you wondering.

It's a quick read ... I liked the characters.  I found Melanie too negative, though.  She has a hot guy obviously interested in her but she runs hot and cold because she thinks he deserves better since she feels she can never be a whole woman since she's in a wheelchair.  Really!?  She's lucky Adam was as patient as he was.

When I was reading this book, it seemed like it was part of a series (though it works as a stand alone too).  I've since discovered that it is ... it's part of the Cowboy Cafe series.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

First snowfall of the season

It started snowing last night ... Toronto was supposed to get 10 to 15cm of snow.

Here's from our doorway last night at 10pm.

When I went to bed at 12:30am ...

And when I got up this morning at 8:30am.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Earls Kitchen and Bar, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I walked to the Eaton Centre, we walked to Earls Kitchen and Bar on King Street W for supper. My pal, Leanne, had given us a gift certificate for Christmas.

Downtown Toronto - Boxing Day 2012

I hadn't been out of the house for four days ... very lazy and relaxed Christmas!

Time to get outside!

It was -4C (-14C with the windchill) and Gord and I bundled up and walked towards downtown (about an hour) along Queen Street W.  Once we got east of Spadina, Queen Street was jammed with shoppers looking for  Boxing Day deals.

There were quite a few skaters on the rink at city hall.

The tree at city hall is huge!  I bet it looks great at night.

Happy Boxing Day!

Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26th. It is a statutory holiday in the federal jurisdiction and in Ontario. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the working day immediately preceding or following Boxing Day is considered a legal holiday.

Boxing Day, also known as the Feast of St. Stephen (after the first Christian martyr), originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria. It originated as a holiday for members of the merchant class to give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude similar to the bonuses many employers offer their employees today. These gifts, usually given in boxes, gave the holiday its name, "Boxing Day."

Also related to the origin of Boxing Day is the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents of these boxes were distributed amongst the poor, by the clergy, the day after Christmas.

Today, Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada, and many other Commonwealth nations. Retailers offer huge savings on many items on this day, making it the biggest shopping day of the year in Canada.