Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book ~ "Awkward Family Photos" (2010) - Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

From Goodreads ~ Based on the hit website, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com (“painful, regrettable, horrifyingly awesome snaps of family bonding, you will laugh so hard that people in adjoining offices will ask what’s wrong with you”—Esquire), this full color book features never-before-seen photos and hilarious personal stories covering everything from uncomfortable moments with relatives, teen angst, sibling rivalry, and family vacations from hell. Cringe at the forced poses, bad hair, and matching outfits--all prompting us to look at our own families and celebrate the fact that we're not alone. Nothing says awkward better than an uncomfortable family photograph!

I check out AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com a couple times a week and the pictures are usually funny.

This book is similar to the website and is divided by chapters like Mom and Dad, The Kids, Siblings, Grandma and Grandpa, Vacations, etc.

Included in the chapters are short anecdotes. It's a quick read.

I borrowed the ebook from the Toronto Library. I wouldn't recommend it in epub format. There was usually a picture on the top of the page followed by a header and/or short description. But they weren't funny because they didn't make sense. Then I realized that the header and description on the bottom of the page were for the picture on the top of the next page. It would have been nice to have the header, description and the picture were on the same page.

Here's one of today's pictures from their website:

Proof that you can rock the headgear.

Book ~ "Murder has a Sweet Tooth" (2009) - Miranda Bliss

From Goodreads ~ Annie Capshaw has found that the way to a man's heart is through his cooking class. But just as she and her best friend, Eve, are planning Annie's big day with Jim, her former cooking instructor turned boss, murder takes the cake. Make that the wedding cake ...

This is the fifth book in the series (and the third that I've read) and I enjoyed it.

Just as Annie and Jim are about to get married, Alex (Jim's cousin who is visiting from Scotland) gets arrested for murder. It doesn't look good that he was found in an alley, with a knife in his hand, and laying on the victim, Vicki.

He asks Annie, who is the business manager of Jim's pub, to find out what happened. She fancies herself as an amateur detective and everyone encourages her ... even Tyler, Eve's bad-ass cop boyfriend. Though I like the series, this is the one thing I have a hard time with given her profession. She bungles along, always putting herself in danger, until she solves the whodunnit.

Anyway, Annie befriends Vicki's best friends to get closer to the situation and find out who really killed her. Along the way, she takes her life in her hands a few times but carries on.

I liked the characters. And I bought the ending so had closure. The only thing that wasn't revealed was how Alex ended up blacking out and waking up on the victim (it should come to no one's surprise that Alex didn't do it). Given who the murderer was, it would have been tricky to accomplish that. That's just a loose end that needed to be tied up for me.

Considered a "cozy mystery", the writing and story are light and fluffy.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Melody Lounge, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, ON

Gord and I walked a couple blocks to the Melody Lounge at the Gladstone Hotel after we left the Church Aperitivo Bar.

We hadn't been there in a while.

There was live entertainment ... Joanne Mackell was singing old country tunes.

We've seen Joanne a couple times (here and at the Old York Bar) and she's really good. The guy playing the bass fiddle was excellent and really getting into it.

There is no admission fee and the place was fairly packed (the stage is at the far end of these pictures).

Shortly after 11pm, karaoke started, hosted by Peter Styles. He's been there for years.

Karaoke at the Gladstone is very popular and there was a list of people wanting to get up and sing. Some were excellent and some not so much (I would fall into this category if I had the guts to get up).

The song choices were all over the place ... Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, George Thorogood, Killers, etc.

We always have a good time and say we should go more often.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Church Aperitivo Bar, Toronto, ON

There used to be a Slavic Pentecostal Church in our 'hood at the corner of Dovercourt/Queen W.

Picture from BlogTO

It was for sale for a long time and we've been watching it transform itself into the Church Aperitivo Bar.

It recently opened so we stopped in tonight to check it out.

We sat at the bar.

It's a nice trendy spot ... so we ordered a bottle of bubbly (N.V. Prosecco Cuvee Beatrice).

Scott took good care of us.

It was packed. Large parties kept coming in ... no doubt they had reservations.

This is looking towards the kitchen (north).

And this is looking towards the exit (south).

My one complaint is that they had techno music playing really really loud (I'm not a fan of techno music at the best of times).

They will have a patio in the warmer weather along Dovercourt (west) which I imagine will be a great spot for people watching.

Hard to believe it used to be a church, eh?

Church Aperitivo Bar on Urbanspoon

The Corned Beef House, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I saw Goon, we went around the corner to the Corned Beef House for supper.

They make amazing sandwiches and we hadn't been there since last February.

It's nice on the inside.

I ordered the "gigantic" 10 ounce corned beef sandwich on light rye.

Gord ordered the "gigantic" 10 ounce Montreal smoked meat sandwich on light rye.

Like the last time, we gave each other half ... and like the last time, they were delicious!

There is so much meat ... here's Gord tackling his.

We learned that last time that because the sandwiches are so big, there is no need to order anything else (like French fries, potato salad, etc.).

Jermaine took excellent care of us ... he was nice and chatty and played excellent tunes (oldies).

Corned Beef House on Urbanspoon

Wild Wing, Toronto, ON

Gord and I have been waiting for Wild Wing at King Street W/Bathurst to open. This chain has been popping up all over the place and we thought we'd wait 'til this one opened to try it since it's in our 'hood. It opened last week so we walked there for lunch today.

They have a lot of guts opening two doors down from the Wheat Sheaf who are famous for their wings. St. Louis Wings and Ribs was across the street for a couple years but closed last year (I love their wings!).

According to their website ... Wild Wing restaurants are dressed up as old time saloons with pine covered floors and walls covered in chicken wire - to keep you caged in of course! Large screen TVs for the sports enthusiasts and lively music from our Wild Tunes video jukebox will keep your toes tapping!

Here is this one. There are horses running and John Wayne is on the wall which stay with the theme. But what's up with the palm tree?! How does that fit in in a "saloon"?

Their menu boasts 101 varieties of wings.

First you decide if you want them battered or not, then you choose your sauce, and then you choose your dressing for your veggies.

I ordered Whiskey Girl non-battered ... they were delicious!

Gord ordered Mango Chipotle battered ... his were delicious too.

The beer selection is pretty tame.

The food was good as was the service (we were the only ones there). We'd go back ... we still have 99 more varieties to try!

Wild Wing on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow day is a bust

All we heard all day yesterday was that there was a snowstorm coming. CP24 promised to start their "storm watch" coverage this morning at 5am.

Before I went to bed last night, I checked the status on the Weather Network ...

All Alerts In Effect for City of Toronto

Snowfall Warning

Issued at 3:18 PM EST Thursday 23 February 2012

Snow is on the way.

A low pressure system over Illinois this afternoon is forecast to track northeastward across the Lower Great Lakes tonight. Snow in advance of this system will spread into Southwestern Ontario this evening, the greater Toronto area overnight, and reach Eastern Ontario by Friday morning. Total snowfall accumulations of about 15 cm are expected for many locales along a swath from Sarnia to Cornwall. The snow will taper off from west to east Friday afternoon and evening.

I had my work laptop at home so I figured that's where I'd be working today rather than traveling on the slippery snowy roads to the office.

I stuck my head out the door about 6:30 this morning expecting to see huge fluffy flakes of snow falling from the sky ... but it was raining. Huh?

Just before I left for work this morning about 8:15am, this was the warning from the Weather Network ...

Snowfall Warning

Issued at 4:48 AM EST Friday 24 February 2012

Snow today.

A low pressure system over Ohio this morning is forecast to track northeastward across the Lower Great Lakes today bringing snow to much of Southern Ontario. Snow has already started over Southwestern Ontario and will reach Eastern Ontario late this morning. Total snowfall accumulations of up to 15 cm are expected for many locales along a swath from Sarnia to Cornwall. The snow will taper off from west to east this evening and into Saturday morning.

And this is what our street looked like ...

When Gord and I heard we'd be getting a lot of snow, we got excited because we thought we'd finally be able to use our snowshoes this winter.

I kept looking out the window at work (it faces south towards downtown) to see how much snow was accumulating.

At 10:52am, it seemed like we'd be getting some snow.

At 2:42pm and after hours of rain, the fog was lifting and I was losing faith.

At 2:55pm, the sky was clearing and the rain was stopping ...

By 3:21pm, I could see the CN Tower.

When I got home about 5:30pm, it was like when I left ... raining but the wind had picked up.

According to the Toronto Star online ...

The experts haven’t made such a miscalculation in their predictions since the great 2011 Groundhog Day blizzard, which didn’t live up to its hype. (Instead of the feared 30 cm, Toronto got a manageable 13 to 17 cm of snow back then.)

Similarly, the city awoke Friday to dreary, wet weather — a total bust compared to the 10 cm dump anticipated.


In preparation for what was shaping up to be the biggest single-day snowfall of this unseasonably warm winter, school buses didn’t operate in York or Peel regions. The City of Toronto had crews on standby in preparation. And even Bixi shut down their 80 systems and 1,000 bikes for the first time since their introduction last year.

But, come morning ... a mess of rain, ice pellets and a few measly flakes. Around 9 a.m., the snowfall warning issued Thursday night was cancelled. By the afternoon, the sun was shining.

Guess what Gord and I are not doing this weekend after all?!