Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Powers of observation

We bought our bed at IKEA almost ten years ago.

We had the option of adjusting the base that supports the mattress (there is no boxspring). When we put it together, we had an older dog and a younger dog so we put it at the lowest option so both dogs could jump up. The top of the mattress just peeked over the frame and was the height of my knees (so not very high).

We are now dogless ... and it's been on my mind for a while to raise the base so it's at a normal level. So I did that today. I pushed the mattress off, unscrewed the base and put it back on at the highest height (about five inches higher) and slid the mattress back.

Gord isn't the most observant person so I was curious to see how long it would take for him to notice. If you remember, it took him an hour to realize I'd replaced our old clunky TV with a 46 inch flat screen in June.

He was home about five minutes and noticed the small light on his nightstand was gone (it broke when I pushed the mattress off the bed). I said it had fallen and let him believe the Crumpet had knocked it over.

When he was getting ready for bed, I scampered so was settled in under the covers reading ... waiting to see if he'd realize there was a change with the bed. Needless to say, I expressed my surprise when he noticed right away.

He went on and on about how he'd make a great witness for the prosecution since he notices everything.

"Really?", I asked.

So I asked him what colour teeshirt I'd been wearing that night (I'd just put my nightgown on about ten minutes earlier).

"Um ... light green? With a purple tinge?"

Does teeshirt in the picture above look light green to you?

I rest my case.

Monday, January 30, 2012

CentrSource

I am not much of a shopper ... I have to be in the mood to shop.

If I need or want something, I’ll go get it. I’m not one to wander the malls just because I am bored and have nothing to do.

And I like getting things that are different than I can get in the stores.

Are you like me?

Or do you live in a community where there isn’t a lot of choice of stores?

Then you should check out CentrSource at http://www.centrsource.ca.

You type in what you are looking for (by brand, seller, keyword or category) and then narrow down the offers to where you want to find it (by city, postal code or neighbourhood).

An offer is a product or service a seller wants to share with you:
  • Incentive
  • Coupon
  • Promotion
  • Discount on an item or service
  • Event
  • Free trial

They make shopping easy by providing you only with targeted results on what you’re looking for that are local to you. When you shop for something you want, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for and in a location near you. You can choose to purchase right away, request a product sample, request more information or print a coupon to take in to the store.

Their goal is to provide you with greater choice, complete security and privacy as well as convenience and total satisfaction. They have created a spot that lets you shop and browse when you want and for products and services that you can trust that are relevant to you and your needs.

Plus you can earn SourcePoint$ while you shop. With SourcePoint$, you get rewarded in many ways – from registering as a consumer to responding to offers. Sellers may award you SourcePoint$ to print a coupon, request more information, request a product sample or for hundreds of other actions. You can use your SourcePoint$ to redeem in their SourcePoint$ Store.

Once you register, you can customize your homepage. For example, if you find a seller you really like, just click "Follow Seller" and you'll be informed of all of their offers, now and in the future. You won't ever miss out on an opportunity again.

CentrSource is the link between you and their sellers who will customize their offers just for you - when you want it and local to your neighbourhood.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Princess Teena?

I've always been interested in genealogy.

I signed up to Ancestry.ca last spring and inputted what I knew about my mother and father's sides of my family, in addition to Gord's.

And it's just like the commercials say ... small green leaves appear on the top right corner of a person's box if there is anything in the system about them. It could be historical documents or if this person is included in someone else's tree. Very cool!

The bad thing is is that it's addictive ... it's not hard for me to get lost for hours and hours in there.

I've ended up in touch with some distant cousins plus some of Gord's not-so-distant ones.

I'd heard that I was related to Marilyn Monroe and I was able to track how. Her first husband, James Dougherty, was my first cousin, twice removed on my father's side. My great grandmother and Marilyn's former father-in-law were sister and brother.

This afternoon I was checking some leaves attached to my 9th great grandmother on my father's side, Martha (1640 - 1714). I came across a document that was prepared in 1929 tracking the lineage my 5th cousin, 4x times removed, Sophia.

For fun, I started inputting who in the document would be my ancestors. It goes ultimately took me back to Pepin de Heristal, who was apparently my 41th great grandfather (635 - 714). Also included in the lineage was King Edward I of England (1239 - 1307), who I was my 22nd great grandfather. His son, Edward II, succeeded him as king. My family branched off through Edward II's sister, Joan, my 21st great grandmother.

Crazy, eh?

This is picture is of King Edward I ... can you see the resemblance?!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The County General, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper tonight at The County General (Queen W/Shaw). It opened last year and it's the first time I've been there (Gord's had a couple beer there).

We got there about 6:30 and had to wait about a half hour for a seat ... so we were told to sit by the window (we sat on the window sill and had a glass of bubbly Riesling).

Two seats opened at the bar and they were ours.

As you can see, the place was jammed.

I ordered the 6oz County Burger and Gord ordered the Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich.

Here's Gord's sandwich ... he said it was really good.

Here's my burger ... it was juicy and delicious!

The ketchup for the fries was made there ... it had a bite to it and you could really taste cinnamon.

Here's how your bill arrives.

The food is good and there's definitely a vibe. I'll be back!

The County General on Urbanspoon

One for the Money

Gord and I saw One for the Money this afternoon.

From Toronto.com ~ A proud, born-and-bred Jersey girl, Stephanie Plum's got plenty of attitude, even if she's been out of work for the last six months and just lost her car to a debt collector. Desperate for some fast cash, Stephanie turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail bonding company ... as a recovery agent. True, she doesn't even own a pair of handcuffs and her weapon of choice is pepper spray, but that doesn't stop Stephanie from taking on Vinny's biggest bail-jumper: former vice cop and murder suspect Joe Morelli - yup, the same sexy, irresistible Joe Morelli who seduced and dumped her back in high school. (Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Sherri Shepherd, Debbie Reynolds)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this movie. I enjoyed the book (and have read all in the series) so had to see the movie.

Fans of the series were quick to give their negative opinions when Katherine Heigl was cast as Stephanie Plum. I must admit I had my doubts about her in the role and she wasn't too bad. I had always pictured someone like Sandra Bullock in the role, though she is too old now.

The movie followed the book pretty closely. There were some women who were sitting to the right of us who were definitely fans. They giggled girlishly in some spots.

In the books, Joe Morelli and Ranger (especially Ranger) are hot ... smoking hot. The actors playing Joe and Ranger were definitely not smoking hot ... they were kind of bland. They should have cast these roles better/differently. Katherine Heigl was the biggest "star" in the movie.

I like Grandma Masur in the books ... she's quirky. I found Debbie Reynolds annoying in the part. She wasn't Grandma Masur.

I read an article in yesterday's Toronto Star where Katherine Heigl said she'd like to do others in the series. It should be interesting to see if she does given the poor reviews of this movie.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book ~ "V is for Vengeance" (2011) - Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ A woman with a murky past who kills herself - or was it murder? A dying old man cared for by the son he pummeled mercilessly. A lovely woman whose life is about to splinter into a thousand fragments. A professional shoplifting ring racking up millions in stolen goods. A brutal and unscrupulous gangster. A wandering husband, rich and powerful. A spoiled kid awash in gambling debt thinking he can beat the system. A lonely widower mourning the death of his lover, desperate for answers that may be worse than the pain of his loss. An elegant but ruthless businessman whose dealings are definitely outside the law: the spider at the center of the web.

And Kinsey Millhone, whose thirty-eighth-birthday gift is a punch in the face that leaves her with two black eyes and a busted nose.

I read the last one in the series almost two years ago and enjoyed it. And I loved this one.

The viewpoints bounce around by chapter. When it is dealing with Kinsey, they are in the first person. When they aren't, they are third person.

I like that we have to wait a couple years for the books in the series. It's not like she is churing them out like other authors. The wait is worth it.

There are a lot of different plots which seem to be independent and made the book complex ... but there is a point and they all come together in the end and made sense.

I found this wasn't a book I could read quickly. It's over 400 pages and dense ... and that's not a criticism because it's a good book and worth your $$.

Kinsey hasn't became a wimp over the years. She's still tough and nosy and digs where she sometimes shouldn't. Because it's set in the mid-1980s, she has to depend on other things since there were no computers and the Internet. Who cross references in phone books anymore?!

Woohoo ... it's Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cat in the cockpit grounds Toronto-bound airplane

Did you hear about this kitty story?

From today's Toronto Star ...

An Air Canada flight was grounded for several hours Wednesday morning after a cat got loose in the airplane and hid in the cockpit.

“We now have a ‘lost cat in airplane’ file that’s got one piece of paper in it after this morning,” said Peter Spurway, spokesman for the Halifax International Airport Authority.

Flight 603 from Halifax to Toronto had been scheduled to leave at 5:40 a.m. before Ripples the cat escaped from its carrier and ran into the cockpit.

The crew scoured the plane as the cat’s owner called out to her pet.

Eventually they determined that the cat had “weaseled its way down into the wiring of the cockpit,” Spurway said.

The cat was found and returned safely, but the flight remained grounded until the cockpit wiring could be checked for damage.

“The maintenance folks had to take panels off… inside the cockpit in order to get at the cat,” Spurway said. Once Ripples was removed, they had to reassemble the cockpit and ensure that no damage had been done to the wiring or hardware.

In the end, though, “there was no real damage done.”

He said despite the delay and some rescheduling, most passengers took the excitement in good humour.

“I’ve heard of animals…that travel in carriers down below…I’ve heard of them getting lost in the belly of the plane, or animals getting loose on airport property,” Spurway said.

“But this, this is the first time I’ve heard of this.”

The flight finally took off around 10 a.m. local time.

So glad he was found safely.

As much as I love kitties (and tabbies), I'd be pissed if I'd been delayed almost four hours because of this. I hope the owner will be more careful with the carrier next time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

PEI Humane Society

The Rick Mercer Report was good tonight ... especially when he paid a visit to the PEI Humane Society.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kung hei fat choi!

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Have you checked your horoscope for the year? You can find it here.

I was born in the year of the Tiger. ... here's mine for the year.

The tiger has a very dominant travel sign this year. Wealth and travel seem to be interrelated. Beware of accidents. You are very spiritual — almost psychic — and are drawn to work in international trade, travel, logistics, army or policing. Surgeons and butchers will do particularly well this year. Those in religious, spiritual or metaphysical endeavours will also prosper. Work that involves analysis or logic does not appeal to you. Remember the more mobile you are, the more money you make. You will generate more income in a sales or marketing job than you would at a desk job. Romances may be weak, so be happy with what you have. Expect a healthy year ahead, but be mindful of accidents that may lead to bleeding.

Highlights for people born in tiger years:

1998 - Your mind seems to have trouble settling down. You have a big imagination. Don’t let it interfere with your studies.

1986 - Your income comes with hard work. At least it pays off well for you.

1974 - Your work will be smooth because of help from your boss or someone elderly.

1962 - You will have a good circle of friends. You will favour partnership business. You will do better outside the office.

1950 - You can help a lot of people. Hence you would do well as a teacher or councillor. An education career is good for you.

1938 - You should refrain from all kinds of gambling or speculations. Pay more attention to your health and enjoy life.

So I've got to be out of the office often (which isn't hard considering my job) and stay away from sharp objects.

How is your year looking?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book ~ "Taken" (2012) - Robert Crais

From RobertCrais.com ~ When Nita Morales hires Elvis Cole to find her missing adult daughter, she isn’t afraid, even though she’s gotten a phone call asking for ransom. She knows it’s a fake, that her daughter is off with the guy Nita will only call “that boy,” and that they need money: “Even smart girls do stupid things when they think a boy loves them.”

But Nita is wrong. The girl and her boyfriend have been taken by bajadores – bandits who prey on other bandits, border professionals who prey not only on innocent victims, but on each other. They steal drugs, guns, and people – buying and selling victims like commodities, and killing the ones they can’t get a price for.

Elvis Cole and Joe Pike find the spot where they were taken. There are tire tracks, bullet casings, and bloodstains. They know things look as bad as possible. But they are wrong, too. It is about to get worse. Going undercover to find the two young people and buy them back, Cole himself is taken, and now it is up to Joe Pike to retrace Cole’s steps, burning through the hard and murderous world of human traffickers to find his friend.

But he may already be too late ...

Though I've been a fan of Elvis Cole for many years, I've found the last few books just okay. The last two have been focused on Joe Pike, Elvis' best friend, and Elvis just had small parts in them. While I like Pike, the books where he is the focus are more serious.

I thought this book was the best one he's written in a while. While it's not as whimsical as past books with Elvis, there were glimpses of Elvis' humour and charm.

The chapter grouping was interesting as they jumped around in time (but are clearly labeled) and are written in different voices. When they are using Elvis' voice, they are in the first person. Otherwise, they are in the third person.

The story and concept was interesting ... smuggling illegal ("undocumented") aliens into the States but having them stolen by bajadores who then collect a monthly ransom from their families. If the family don't/can't pay, they are "sent home".

It's great to have Elvis back!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book ~ "If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't)" (2011) - Betty White

From Goodreads ~ Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White's wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven-decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty's candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen (I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out") to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.

Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White.

This is a quick read ... I read it in a couple hours.

It's not a deep book but it's entertaining. Betty talks about getting old, having pets, her love for animals, red carpet parties, her late husband Allan Ludden, and more.

Considering she just turned 90 this week, she's still going strong. I hope I'm that lucky.

Book ~ "The Garner Files: A Memoir" (2011) - James Garner and Jon Winokur

From Goodreads ~ After suffering physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother, Garner left home at fourteen. He became Oklahoma’s first draftee of the Korean War and was awarded with two Purple Hearts before returning to the United States and settling in Los Angeles to become an actor. Working alongside some of the most renowned celebrities, including Julie Andrews, Marlon Brando, and Clint Eastwood, Garner became a star in his own right, despite struggles with stage fright and depression. In The Garner Files, this revered actor and quintessential self-made man recalls “trying to decipher” William Wyler with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, breaking Doris Day’s ribs, having a “heart-to-heart and eyeball-to-eyeball” with Steve McQueen, being “a card-carrying liberal—and proud of it,” and much more.

I like reading bios and I find it interesting to read bios of celebrities.

I like James Garner ... he seems like a nice guy. He's got a fairly interesting story.

He's got a temper but he knows it, especially when he's golfing. He has opinions about a lot of things. At times, I thought he sounded crusty ... and then I got to the chapter where he said he is proud of being a curmudgeon. Yep, he is.

The chapters are broken up into subjects ... there's golfing, Rockford, racing, politics, etc. The last chapter is full of anecdotes of people who know him.

It's interesting to read his opinions of different people ... and he's not afraid to name names (for example, he thought Bill Murray was a jerk in a golf tournament).

Shhh ... she's sleeping

Morgan was snoozing on the couch just now and we realized we hadn't seen Crumpet for a while.

What trouble was she getting into?!

I glanced down and noticed her snoozing on their toy shelf (yes, they have a toy shelf!) on some pet blankets.

We've never seen her there before.

Shhhhh ... don't wake her up!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Almost snowbound

I had a meeting in Tillsonburg this morning.

I drove down yesterday and stayed about 25 minutes away because I didn't want to take a chance on the weather.

When I woke up this morning, I looked out the window and it was clear.

When I came back from breakfast about 9:15am and looked out the window, here's what I saw:

Oh oh!

And it never let up ... in fact, it got worse.

Driving south to Tillsonburg was scary. I was following Dave, my co-worker (he also spent the night), and at times I couldn't even see his car.

We had our meeting and then went to lunch. Visibility was non-existent and the roads were full of snow and slippery. There was no way I was driving back to Toronto so I headed to the local Howard Johnson's to stay there for the night while Dave hit the road for home. I was in the lobby asking about rates when Dave called me to say the roads weren't too bad.

So off I went.

Just south of Kitchener/Waterloo, there was a big truck on its side on the westbound lanes along with a couple vans that had run into the middle barriers.

It was a scary drive at times but I made it home. Yay!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, Ingersoll, ON

I have a meeting tomorrow morning in Tillsonburg. Rather than drive down tomorrow (it's about two hours west of Toronto), I came this afternoon. I didn't want to chance the weather ... as it was, I ran into some snow east of Woodstock.

I'm staying at the Elm Hurst Inn in Ingersoll (about a 20 minute drive from Tillsonburg) ... there are not a lot of places to stay in this area.

James Harris erected the James Harris Cheese Factory on the grounds of what is now Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in 1865. One year later, the factory was the birthplace of a 7,300 pound cheese, co-manufactured by local producers to put Ingersoll on the map. The famous 'Mammoth Cheese' travelled to exhibitions in Toronto, Sarasota New York, Paris France and London England.

The Harris family later planted commercial apple orchards on the property. In fact, their vaulted buffet room is the original apple shed.

The Elm Hurst mansion restaurant was built in 1872 as the personal residence of James Harris and family. A fine example of the Gothic Revival style, it remained a stately family home for more than a century.

The last Harris heir sold the property in the mid 1970s and the house was transformed into a popular dining establishment that opened in 1979. An addition was added to the rear of the original structure five years later, with the 49-room Elm Hurst Inn & Spa being built in 1988.


I heard they are adding another 51 rooms this year.

Here's my room ... it's large.

I had supper in the restaurant ... there isn't anything else within walking distance.

They are having a promotion this week to celebrate their anniversary and rolled the prices back to 1975. Needless to say, it was quite a busy spot. I was seated in a cozy room which was probably a parlour back in the old days. I ordered the Roast Prime Rib of Beef (Yorkshire pudding; natural beef jus) for $14 (usually it's $27 to $34).

Hot rolls arrived.

About a minute later (I hadn't even had a chance to butter a roll), my meal arrived on a "don't touch the plate, it's hot" plate ... surprisingly the food wasn't. It was just warm. It was just okay. The veggies (I ate the peppers and carrots) had the texture that they'd been frozen.

Christine, my server, was friendly and helpful. She suggested I try the Black Forest cake. I'm not a fan of Black Forest cake but it was good.

You know how much I love love love baths so I had to check out the jacuzzi. It was huge (way too big for one person) and deep. I watched Dragons' Den while soaking in green apple bubble bath.

I went to set the alarm at 9:09pm and saw that it was actually 11:20pm. Huh?! That gave me a bit of a shock (how did I lose two hours?!) until I confirmed that it wasn't that late. I wonder how long it's been two hours ahead without anyone noticing.

I'm having a comfortable stay here and, though it's fairly isolated, would come back. WIFI is free as is parking and a continental breakfast tomorrow. I booked it online at a rate of $139 which is a great deal! Ingersoll is just a couple km away.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book ~ "The Internet is a Playground" (2011) - David Thorne

From Amazon ~ From the notorious Internet troublemaker who brought the world the explosively popular Next Time I'll Spend the Money on Drugs Instead, in which he attempted to pay his chiropractor with a picture he drew of a spider; "Please Design a Logo for Me. With Pie Charts. For Free," which has been described as one of the most passed-on viral emails of all time; and, most recently, the staggeringly popular "Missing Missy", which has appeared everywhere from The Guardian to Jezebel to Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish, comes this profoundly funny collection of irreverent Internet mischief and comedy.

Featuring all of Thorne's viral success, including "Missing Missy", The Internet Is a Playground culls together every article and email from Thorne's wildly popular website 27bslash6.com, as well as enough new material, available only in these pages, to keep you laughing-and, indeed, crying-until Thorne's next stroke-of-genius prank. Or hilarious hoax. Or well-publicized almost-stint in jail (really).

This was recommended to me back in September by a fella in Winnipeg and I just read it this week. I'd never heard of David Thorne but it sounded like a fun book ... at it was. At times, I actually laughed out loud.

It's a collection of rambling emails back and forth with the intent of Thorne to see how far he can push the other person. And in most cases, they keep writing back, obviously pissed off. I don't know if the emails are real or not but most are funny and silly.

My favourites include:
The response: That looks like a dog with a blanket on it. I'm not going to waste anyone's time sending an officer out to check that.

The non-email stuff was hit and miss. Bob's Guide to the Internet was funny, especially his view on blogging:

I read a blog once by someone who had bought a scarf and he went on for about three hundred paragraphs about his scarf and where he bought it and how it made him feel. The last time I bought a scarf I wore it. End of story. I didn't write a novel about it.

If you're looking for something different, you should check it out. As a head's up, the language and content at times is for mature readers.

30 pound cat named Tiny abandoned

There is a a story in today's Toronto Star about Tiny, a 30 pound cat, who was stuffed in a taped box with another cat and abandoned. Yes, 30 pounds!!

The days of gluttony are over for one fat cat out east.

Tiny, a 30-pound house cat, was stuffed into a duct-taped box with a normal-sized cat one-third his size and dumped at an animal clinic in Fredericton, N.B., shortly before the New Year.

...

Nancy Garon, Tiny’s foster mother, brought him home to get him in shape. So she has him chasing a laser dot, which he never catches, wrestling with a toy fishing pole and hunting rodents. He will lumber onto the scales every Tuesday as part of a weight loss challenge to raise funds for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

...

Tiny’s blubbery body has affected every facet of his life. He is notoriously lazy, walking only short distances before settling into a cat nap. He cannot clean himself, so Garon must. And he is so obese he can only leap short heights. He can pounce onto the couch, but needs help getting into Garon’s bed to sleep.

...

The Fredericton SPCA is raising funds through Tiny’s Weight Loss Challenge. The money will go to an emergency pot for special needs animals such as two older female dogs that need surgery soon.

Tiny remains up for adoption, “But I am falling for him, so he might have a forever home here,” Garon said.

You can read the entire story here.

Such a sad story!

What kind of a person would (1) let a cat get that fat and (2) stuff it in a box with another kitty and leave them on a doorstep?!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Standard tip in Toronto restaurants now 20%?

There is an article in today's Toronto Star about tipping.

A 20% tip could be the new normal.

A small but growing number of Toronto restaurants are urging customers to tip more than the customary 15%.

Diners at new Roncesvalles Ave. restaurants The Westerly and The Ace are prompted to tip 20% on their bill when paying with credit and debit cards on handheld terminals.

“We feel we are providing great service. Waiters don’t get paid too much,” said Tom Earl, co-owner of The Westerly.

I thought this was an interesting comment by an owner. If you don't think you are paying your employees well enough, give them a raise, Dude. Why expect me to subsidize your payroll?!

You can read the rest of the article here.

To me, tipping isn't something someone should take for granted. Depending how the service and food are, I tip accordingly. Crappy service = crappy tip.

We discovered when we were in Bermuda a couple weeks ago that there are no taxes but a 17% tip is added onto your bill automatically at most restaurants. It's already built in so you have no choice. Luckily we had great service in the restaurants we checked out.

How do you feel about tipping?

January 20 update: There is a follow-up story in today's Toronto Star about tipping.

Beth Davyduke, co-owner of the Westerly, one of the restaurants whose hand-held terminals prompted a 20% tip, says she has changed the prompt to let the customer fill in a percentage. “We made a mistake. We don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. It’s totally between the customer and the server.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book ~ "The Wealthy Barber Returns" (2011) - David Chilton

From the Globe and Mail ~ A lot of David Chilton's new book, The Wealthy Barber Returns, is devoted to a basic message that could help a lot of people and fix some of the country's most pressing financial problems.

Mr. Chilton thinks people are spending too much money and he wants them to cool it so they incur less debt and have more money to save for retirement. It sounds like a simple solution to a complex problem, but Mr. Chilton has a way of making the simple approach work.

Mr. Chilton speaks in his own voice in the new book, not through the fictional cast of characters he used last time. He strikes just the right tone as a witty regular guy who happens to know a lot about money and is glad to share.

The book is built on a series of short, very readable chapters on topics that range from lines of credit and credit cards to a look at whether it's better to save in a registered retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account. The best material is on spending, though.

This is a follow-up to his 1989 book, The Wealthy Barber.

The chapters are short and snappy so it's a quick easy read. It's written in a very relaxed way ... sometimes funny, sometimes cheesy.

It's very high level. If you are looking for a lot of details, this isn't it. But it does give you things to think about ... if you want more info, you'll have to go looking for it. As someone who is in the industry, it's a good "starter" book.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book ~ "Save Me" (2011) - Lisa Scottoline

From Amazon ~ Suburban mom, Rose McKenna, is forced to make a split-second decision after an explosion goes off in the school cafeteria in which she volunteers. Should she rescue her own daughter, Melly, trapped in the bathroom, or lead the girls standing in front of her, who constantly bully her daughter, to safety? Her choice reverberates throughout the little town of Reesburgh, PA, as she is cast as the villain by the local news anchor, parents, and the school. While her attorney and husband construct a defense plan that includes filing a lawsuit against the school, Rose sets out to seek the truth behind this mysterious, accidental fire. With the help of a construction worker who may know the cause of the explosion as well as an incognito visit to a local factory, Rose slowly unravels the truth and along with it some hidden secrets in Reesburgh's dark past, including one horrifying buried memory of her own. At the quick pace of a thriller, Scottoline masterfully fits every detail into a tight plot chock-full of real characters, real issues, and real thrills. A story anchored by the impenetrable power of a mother's love, it begs the question, just how far would you go to save your child?

This sounded like an interesting premise and it started out promising. After an explosion in the school's cafeteria, lunch mom Rose has a life threatening decision. Does she rescue the two girls who have been bullying her daughter who are right there or does she go find her daughter, Melly, and save her, leaving the two bullies? Rose is able to do both and becomes a hero. But things change very quickly and every resident in the small town turns against Rose and there are threats of legal action.

I found the writing really boring and draggy. This could have been such a better book. I wanted to give up on it a few times but kept going.

With Rose going through so much, you'd think Leo, her loving husband who is a lawyer, would have been there for her. But he has a case pending that has to take up every second of his time while all this is going on. Though he seems caring to Melly, I would want a more more supportive husband who is there with me while the rest of the town is hating and ostracizing me. And then he has the nerve to whine when she's making "family" decisions without him! Dude, you were too busy working instead of being there for your wife.

Leo hires Rose the best criminal and civil lawyers but she doesn't listen to them. She could lose everything and even end up in prison but she wants to play nice and not hurt anyone's feelings. Really?! Everyone in the town hates her!!! Instead she starts poking around to see if the explosion really was accidental ... she's the only one who thinks things might not be how they seem. Really??!! And guess what? She figures everything out.

The subplot with Kristen, the special ed teacher, was a waste of time.

The outcome was unbelievable ... I didn't buy it.

Needless to say, I'm not recommending this book.

Winter has finally arrived

It's snowing!

It's currently -5C (-13C with the windchill).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Walter the fat Oregon cat

Our tabby, Morgan, is a big boy and I know could lose some weight.

I had started cutting back on his food last spring ... but then we got Crumpet and it was hard to keep Morgan restricted with a growing kitty in the house.

I heard this morning about Walter, a 28 pound cat in Oregon who has been placed in a shelter because his owners couldn't keep him anymore. This is definitely a big boy who needs to lose some pounds.



I hope they find a good home for him and he lives a skinnier healthier life.

The sale of 157 Coxwell Avenue

One of Toronto's oddest looking houses will be up for sale next week.

From the architect/designer's website:

157 Coxwell Avenue is a three story, 800 square foot, two bedroom resin - impregnated plywood house. This multicoloured building measures approximately 16 feet by 16 feet and stands on four steel posts. Access to and from the building is via a 32 foot long bridge. The interior features two full bedrooms, a four piece bathroom, combined open space kitchen, dining room and living area, and in the summer of 2003 a green rooftop. Passive cooling and heating will be designed into the structure to minimize utility expenses. Hot water radiant in-floor heating of a concrete floor (the thermo-mass) further economizes on winter expenses. In warm weather the building uses the stack effect drawing air in at the bottom and pulling it through the building and venting it out the top. The air travels over the cooler concrete floors as well as acting as a cool breeze on the resident's skin drawing the heat out through the rooftop vent. 157 Coxwell is a livable, comfortable and an instantly recognizable home.

Pictures source

I've driven by it a few times and it does catch your eye.

Click here to see some pictures of the inside (aren't you curious?!) and here to read how the tenants like it.

Would you pay $349,000 for it? Do you think it will sell quickly?

February 2 update: There is an article in today's Toronto Star stating this house has sold for $475,000. Wow!

Corin Raymond needs your Canadian Tire money

I've been hearing about Toronto folksinger Corin Raymond and how he's asking for donations of Canadian Tire money so he can record an album.

Huh?

It all started when Corin wrote a song called Canadian Tire Money and people started giving him Canadian Tire money at concerts. He didn't know what to do with it ... until he discovered The Rogue Studios accepts it at par. Sweet! So now he's trying to get enough to make the album.



If you are interested, he's recording the album at The Tranzac Club on January 24 and 25. Apparently you can even buy tickets with Canadian Tire money.

Here's his Facebook page.

Gord and I have seen him somewhere in the last couple of years ... the Cameron House maybe? I remember him because I liked his voice and this song stuck with me (I even had it on my ipod 'til my old laptop crashed and I lost it).



January 2013 Update: He did it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hello, my name is ...

Everyone is all abuzz with Beyoncé and Jay-Z naming their baby Blue Ivy.

There was an article in today's Toronto Star that talked about them being the latest in a long line of celebrities to name their children after the colour ... Cher and Gregg Allman’s son (Elijah Blue), Alicia Silverstone’s son (Bear Blu), Spice Girl Geri Halliwell’s daughter (Bluebell ), John Travolta’s daughter (Ella Blu) and Maria Bello’s son (Jackson Blue).

Candace Alper, a baby name expert on YummyMummyClub.ca, was interviewed. She said one of the biggest trend in naming babies lately has been a new spelling on a classic name, particularly the silent "H" ... so Kate spelled Khate or Ryan spelled Rhyan.

A silent "H"?! Huh?

"Different and interesting is awesome until you walk around your whole life explaining yourself to people," said Alper about the trend.

I can dig it.

My name really is "Teena", not "Tina" and it's not short for anything. Of course, no one ever spelled it correctly so when I was younger, I was constantly having to spell it for people. Now it depends on how important the correct spelling is. If it's a supper reservation, "Tina" will do. If you are writing me a cheque, I'll make sure you get it right.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Book ~ "Disturbance" (2011) - Jan Burke

From Amazon ~ Despite her reporter’s nose for trouble, Irene Kelly’s life has almost returned to normal—the Las Piernas News Express wobbles along in defiance of its financial woes, and with the help of her husband, Frank, and a good therapist, she’s recovered from the debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder that haunted her after her near-fatal encounter with notorious serial killer Nick Parrish. Until she receives some unwelcome news: Parrish, once thought permanently paralyzed by the injuries he sustained fleeing recapture, is walking again. And the rumor among the Moths, Parrish’s online fan club, is that he’s coming after Irene.

Suddenly Irene is on the other end of the microphone, being hounded by the media for interviews and plied with questions she’d hoped never to have to answer again. She tries to believe that she is safe from Parrish, who is imprisoned in a maximum security facility, and that the growing stream of threats from the Moths is all just talk. But an unnerving prank soon lets her know that someone, at least, wants her to be afraid. And when a young woman’s body turns up in the trunk of a car near her home—naked, frozen solid, and decorated from head to toe in elaborately painted moths—it becomes clear that Irene will once again find herself pitted against a brutal murderer. She knows the twisted hunter who is stalking her all too well . . . or does she?

I'd read a couple in the Irene Kelly series in the mid/late 1990s and enjoyed them ... then forgot about the series for some reason.

I read about this one in the newspaper last month and it reminded me about the series so I checked it out.

Though it has been a while since I've read the first couple and more have been added since then, I didn't feel lost. If you haven't read any of them, you can pick this one up and go with it. There are enough references so you know what's going on and who is who.

I liked the style of the writing. It's fast paced and gritty. The characters are likeable (at least those who are supposed to be likable) and believable. I bought the ending.

It has inspired me to start at the beginning and reread the books and keep going with the ones I've missed.

Heel Detox

I usually do a detox once a year.

I started the Heel Detox today ... I've done it a couple times in the past (it was recommended by a naturopath).

Deeper than a usual detoxification!

Detox-Kit stimulates the key organ systems involved in the drainage and detoxification process. It helps relieve symptoms of illness caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and exposure to toxins. Detox-Kit stimulates the body’s natural processes of elimination to cleanse itself of toxins and restore balance to the body.

Detox-Kit contains 3 homeopathic preparations:
  • Lyphosot - supports the lymphatic system
  • Nux vomica-Homaccord - stimulates the liver as well as the gastrointestinal excretion pathway
  • Berberis-Homaccord - supports the kidneys and gallbladder

Benefits
  • Supports the organs of excretion and stimulates cleansing processes
  • Helps eliminate toxins and restore balance to the body.
  • Gentle, well-tolerated and easy to use.

I like it because it's easy to do (just 30 drops of each in 1.5 litres of water a day for three weeks) and there are no special foods to eat. Needless to say, you should eat as healthy as you can to have it work the best. I never feel any different after doing it but hopefully it's done what it is supposed to do.

I've done the Isagenix cleanse a few times. While I liked the results (nine pounds lost in nine days) and felt great on days 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, I didn't like days 1, 2, 8 and 9 when all you can have are four capfuls of Cleanses for Life, six Isagenix snacks pellets, two Natural Accelerator Capsules and lots of water. I don't do starvation well.

Do you detox?