Friday 31 May 2013

Book ~ "Successful Sleep Strategies for Women" (2012) Julia Schlam Edelman

From Goodreads ~ Did you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, last night? Or, did you sleep all night and wake up feeling exhausted? You are not alone—more than 60% of women don’t sleep well in midlife—and even many college-age women sleep poorly. If you don’t wake up rested and refreshed, read Successful Sleep Strategies for Women by Julia Schlam Edelman, MD.

Whether you are interested in natural remedies, lifestyle modifications, or prescription pills, you will find practical guidance. Successful Sleep Strategies for Women presents the latest scientific research findings in the form of easy-to-read stories followed by Dr. Edelman’s discussion of what experts recommend.

  • Fall asleep sooner
  • Sleep better
  • Wake up rested
  • Natural remedies
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Sleep medications

I haven't been sleeping well for about a year and a half.  I'm quite jealous of Gord ... he's usually asleep within five minutes (yes, I do time him!).  He found this book on the Toronto Public Library site for me so I downloaded it today.

It takes me awhile to get to sleep ... sometimes it's a couple hours.  And when I do get to sleep, I usually wake up wide awake during the night and sometimes it takes me a couple hours to get back to sleep.  Needless to say, I'm tired and dragged out towards the end of the day.

This has been my journey so far:
  • I'm not a napper and don't give in to the temptation in the evenings because I'm scared it will throw off my sleep even more.
  • I bought a Contour Cloud Pillow and that seemed to help for a while.
  • I don't drink coffee and don't drink a lot of Diet Coke.  I've started drinking Diet Coke with no caffeine.
  • Nothing is stressing me out so I'm not laying awake at night worrying about anything.
  • I have 90 minute relaxing massages every month or so.
  • As I'm laying in bed, I've tried to use a meditation technique and visualize a light coming down through my head and relaxing every part of my body.  
  • I get up and try to sleep on the couch or the futon in the spare room.
  • I tried Valerian, an herb, and it helped put and keep me to sleep for a while ... but then seemed to stop.
  • I downloaded a 30 minute meditation to sleep onto my ipod.  I listened to it a few times and would be asleep in about ten minutes.  I would wake up sometime after it was over, put my ipod in my nightstand and then fall back asleep right away.  But after the first couple of times it didn't work ... I was still awake when it was over.
  • We have digital music stations through our cable and one of them is spa music.  I put it on when I went to bed one night and left it on for about a half hour.  Alas, it didn't work.

So I was hoping this book would help me and give me some new ideas ... which it did, plus it validated that I was doing stuff right.

There are 12 scenarios:
  1. Lifestyle choices - This sounded the most like me.  Apparently you aren't supposed to view a back-lit screen like a TV, computer, ereader or phone about two hours before you go to bed as it stimulates the brain.  I watch TV and am on my lap at night ... plus I read in bed with my Kobo.  Oooops!
  2. Medication options
  3. Natural remedies - Valerian is discussed.
  4. Overcoming restless leg syndrome
  5. Eliminating hot flashes and night sweats
  6. How alcohol impacts sleep
  7. Medical conditions and medicines that impact sleep
  8. Dealing with mood changes and depression
  9. Correcting a sluggish metabolism - I have a hypo thyroid (so sluggish) and my doctor is trying to regulate my med for it
  10. The relationship between body weight and sleep
  11. Treatments for snoring and other breathing difficulties
  12. Therapy for sleep misperception

I liked that this book was written with scenarios using the stories based on women and their different situations ... it made it less clinical. There are some charts such as meds for insomnia and their side effects and meds that may affect sleep and their effects.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Book ~ "Into the Dark" (2013) Rick Mofina

From Goodreads ~ The sole survivor of a heartbreaking family tragedy…

Claire Bowen, a haunted psychologist, devotes her life to helping troubled women rebuild theirs. But her dream of a family with her new husband, Robert, a pilot and local hero, begins to crumble as disturbing revelations from his past emerge.

And a grieving cop who lures a killer from the shadows…

Detective Joe Tanner, struggling to overcome his wife's death while raising their little girl alone, heads the task force formed to stop the monster who has resurfaced with a chilling message.

Race the clock in a life-and-death struggle to save the next victim…

In the wake of five cold-case murders across Los Angeles, one of Claire's most promising patients vanishes. Gut instinct tells Tanner the truth is within his grasp, while Claire is torn between guilt and terror over what's to come. As time runs out, both are pulled deeper and deeper into an unspeakable darkness.

Claire is a psychologist who is married to Robert, a pilot.  Claire really wants to have a baby and is ready to start treatments to make it happen.  Robert has been acting strange lately, though, which makes Claire wonder what's wrong ... she suspects he might be having an affair with his ex-wife.

It's the tenth anniversary of the first of five murders of which the killer has never been found.  Police officer Joe Tanner approaches reporter Mark Harding to do a story to see if anything comes out of it, which he does.  This wakes something up in the murderer and he has to kill again.  Amber, one of Claire's patients disappears ... was Amber's estranged husband or the murderer who took her and is she still alive?

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style ... it was well-paced and kept me wanting to read more to see what was going to happen.  You find out right away who the murderer is and it's interesting to follow along to see how they maintain normalcy, why they are the way they are and what eventually happens to them.  As a head's up, the language and activity at times is for mature readers.

I liked the characters.  Claire is devoted to helping abused women ... her mother had been killed by her abusive father (who then killed himself) when Claire was a child.  Robert is honoured as a hero ... he rescued a woman and her baby from a burning car.  Claire has a close circle of friends including Julie.  Joe is still grieving the loss of his wife to cancer (he plays a video of her on his phone whenever he needs comforting) and is being a good dad to his young daughter.

I would recommend this book!

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Loblaws customer service doesn't follow up

A cottage roll is a like a ham that is soaked in brine.  You simmer it in water for a couple hours and then add potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, etc. to cook ... that's called a Boiled Dinner. Once the cottage roll is done, I take it out, slather it in a mustard/brown sugar glaze and bake it for about ten minutes.  Yum!!

On March 16, I bought a cottage roll at my local No Frills ... we hadn't had one in a while and I was looking forward to it.

When I opened it the next day, it smelled really bad.  I checked the "best before" and it was March 13!  Knowing I wouldn't be at No Frills for another six days, I tossed it in the garbage.

The lesson learned is always check the best before date on meats.

I sent an email to Loblaws (No Frills' parent company) that day (March 17) to let them know.  I heard back from a senior customer service rep the next day asking me to email her my receipt and I'd get a gift card for the amount (about $15).  That wasn't my intent when I wrote but I figured okay.  So I emailed the receipt to her that day.

I didn't hear back from her so I sent my email to her again on April 5 and again this past Monday.

She responded on Monday that she'd sent me an email on March 22 because I hadn't attached the receipt (I have the "sent" email so I know I did).  I never received her email (and I always check my spam folder).  She asked that I resend it so I did.  Keep in mind that this is the fourth time I've sent it to her.

It's now Wednesday and I haven't heard back from her.

Do you think I'll ever get the gift card?!

May 30 update:  The rep sent me an email this morning asking for my address so she can send me the gift card.  She's still saying the receipt wasn't attached to my emails ... but the copies in my "sent" box prove otherwise.

June 5 update:  The gift card arrived today.  Whoohoo!

Monday 27 May 2013

Little Anthony's, Toronto, ON

I met my pals, Deb, Franca and Liz for supper tonight at Little Anthony's (Richmond W Street/York Street).  I'd never been there before.

We got there when it opened.

We were given some bread and oil to start ... it was good.

Sunday 26 May 2013

I'm glad this isn't my car!

A couple weeks ago the walkways on our condo corp property were replaced ... they were old and cracking and/or sinking.

Here's the new walkway heading to our place.

There is still lots of leftover cement slop around.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Thirsty & Miserable, Toronto, ON

Gord and I have been hearing a lot about Thirsty & Miserable (in Kensington Market) so we walked there this evening to check it out.  The last time we'd been there was a couple years ago when it was Havana Cuba.

The pub crawl we were on last Sunday ended up there (we'd gone home instead since we were still in our 'hood).

It's is small cozy spot ... seating for nine on the patio and about thirty inside.

There's Gord at the bar

It's the place to go if you are into beer, especially craft beer (which Gord loves!) ... there are no big name brands like Labatts or Canadian here.

Bannock, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I checked out Old City Hall, we had an early supper at Bannock (it was hard to get a good picture of the outside with all the scaffolding).

The architecture reflects the menu – eclectic and approachably Canadian – featuring antique pine and hemlock reclaimed from one of the Queen’s wharfs that sat under the waters of Lake Ontario at York Street for over a hundred years. 

Bannock’s honest approach to food is rooted in familiar, wholesome ingredients that are reflective of Canada’s rich regional and cultural diversity, delivered in an innovative and playful way. Everyday classics are revitalized as the Chefs pay homage to traditional Canadian comfort foods, putting our cultural favourites front and centre. Bannock breads are integrated throughout the entire menu including artisan sandwiches and pizzas. Bannock garnishes are also added to soups, salads and main courses.

Doors Open - Old City Hall, Toronto, ON

The 14th annual Doors Open offers residents and visitors an opportunity to take a peek behind the doors of over 150 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city.

This year's theme is entitled "Creators, Makers and Innovators" and features many older buildings that have been redesigned, re-invented and re-purposed into modern 21st century spaces that host collaborative teams of imaginative people who are creating new ways of thinking, making and doing.

Gord and I checked out Old City Hall, which was home to city council from 1899 to 1966.

Designed by Toronto architect Edward James Lennox, the building took more than a decade to build (work on the building began in 1889) and cost more than $2.5 million.  Angry councillors, due to cost overruns and construction delays, refused E.J. Lennox a plaque proclaiming him as architect for the completed building in 1899. Not to be denied, Lennox had stonemasons "sign" his name in corbels beneath the upper floor eaves around the entire building: "EJ LENNOX ARCHITECT AD 1898".  Gord and I think this is a hoot and plan on going back to take of pictures of that.

In spite of its large size upon completion, Old City Hall proved to be inadequate for Toronto's growing municipal government within a couple of decades of completion. A new city hall and public square were completed in 1965. The original plans called for Old City Hall to be demolished and replaced by the Eaton Centre and a number of skyscrapers around a large plaza, leaving only the cenotaph (or in one plan, the clock tower) in the front. Public outcry forced authorities to abandon these plans (yay!) and the Eaton Centre was built around the Old City Hall and the Church of the Holy Trinity (which was originally planned to be demolished). Old City Hall then became a dedicated courthouse.

Doors Open - Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto, ON

The 14th annual Doors Open offers residents and visitors an opportunity to take a peek behind the doors of over 150 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city.

This year's theme is entitled "Creators, Makers and Innovators" and features many older buildings that have been redesigned, re-invented and re-purposed into modern 21st century spaces that host collaborative teams of imaginative people who are creating new ways of thinking, making and doing.

Gord and I checked out the Church of the Holy Trinity, which is behind the Eaton Centre in Trinity Square.  I used to work next door to it but had never been inside.

It was built in 1847. The funds for its construction were a gift from Mary Lambert Swale of Settle, England. Swale had originally made the donation anonymously but her name was eventually revealed. She had died at the age of 25 and gave the Toronto Diocese a gift of 5000 sterling to build a church. She requested that the name be Holy Trinity, that the reading desk and pulpit not be placed as to obstruct the view of patrons, that the church be open to the public and that the pews (none could be reserved) were to be free for everyone forever.

Since its construction, the city of Toronto has expanded so that the church now finds itself in the middle of Toronto’s urban core. As a result, the church has tailored its ministry to the urban homeless and needy and maintains a memorial outside the church doors which lists the names of homeless people who have died on the streets of Toronto. The church also has an active outreach to Toronto's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Doors Open - Massey Tower Presentation Centre, Toronto, ON

The 14th annual Doors Open offers residents and visitors an opportunity to take a peek behind the doors of over 150 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city.

This year's theme is entitled "Creators, Makers and Innovators" and features many older buildings that have been redesigned, re-invented and re-purposed into modern 21st century spaces that host collaborative teams of imaginative people who are creating new ways of thinking, making and doing.

Gord and I checked out the Massey Tower Presentation Centre on Yonge Street, just north of Queen Street.

This building was designed and constructed in 1905 and housed the Canadian Bank of Commerce (established in 1867).  The building has been vacant since 1987 and was designated a Heritage Property by the City of Toronto in 1990.

Here's the outside.

A remnant of its former life greeted visitors when we came in the door.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Book ~ "Home to Whiskey Creek" (2013) Brenda Novak

From Goodreads ~ Sometimes home is the refuge you need - and sometimes it isn't. Adelaide Davies, who's been living in Sacramento, returns to Whiskey Creek, the place she once called home. She's there to take care of her aging grandmother and to help with Gran's restaurant, Just Like Mom's. But Adelaide isn't happy to be back. There are too many people here she'd rather avoid, people who were involved in that terrible June night fifteen years ago.

Ever since the graduation party that changed her life, she's wanted to go to the police and make sure the boys responsible - men now - are punished. But she can't, not without revealing an even darker secret. So it's better to pretend ....

Noah Rackham, popular, attractive, successful, is shocked when Adelaide won't have anything to do with him. He has no idea that his very presence reminds her of something she'd rather forget. He only knows that he's finally met a woman he could love.

When she was sixteen, Addy was gang raped by five popular guys at their high school graduation party.  She doesn't say anything and leaves Whiskey Creek as soon as she graduates.

Fifteen years later, Addy moves home to take care of her grandmother's restaurant.  She hasn't been home since she graduated from high school.  Right away she is kidnapped and left in an abandoned mine and told that if she tells anyone about what happened fifteen years ago, her grandmother will be killed.  Noah finds and rescues her and is puzzled as to why she is vague about the details and doesn't want to tell the police.  They are attracted to each other but Ally resists because his twin brother, Cody, was one of guys who had raped her.

This is the fourth in the Whiskey Creek series ... I'd read the first one last year and enjoyed it.  I liked this one too.

I liked the writing style.  It was well-paced and kept me wanting to read more.

I liked Addy.  She had dealt with what had happened to her through therapy.  She just wants to put it behind her but it comes back to haunt her when she is kidnapped (though she doesn't know by who).  Noah was a nice guy, though he had commitment issues.  Once he meets Addy, though, he knows he wants her and can't understand why she keeps putting up blocks.  Milly, the grandmother, despite using a walker, was a tough gal and I wish I had a grandmother like that.

I found there was too much of an effort to tie in the other characters in the series (lots of mentions and references).  I didn't know who these characters were so it was hard to keep track of them since they weren't part of this story. 

I thought the subplot with Noah wondering whether Baxter, his best friend, was gay wasn't necessary ... it had nothing to do with Addy and Noah and I found it to be a distraction from the main story.

I found it confusing that Addy's last name was "Davis" and she just moved from "Davies" ... or maybe it was the other way around.  I don't know why the author chose such similar names.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Book ~ "Take it Off" (2012) Taylor Cole and Justin Whitfield

From Goodreads ~ Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in a male strip club? Are those guys gay? How do they stay so ripped? Do they stuff their trunks? How did they get into such a business? How much money do they make? Do they have wild sex every night? 

This book takes you backstage and into the lives of two successful male strippers over a span of twenty years in the business. From their rookie days to their wild sexcapades and practical jokes, Take It Off! is a laugh-filled, action-packed joyride. 

Justin Whitfield and Taylor Cole are the stage names of male exotic dancers who have performed for women in Europe, the Caribbean, South America and Canada, as well as at various casinos, on cruise ships and in hundreds of clubs across the United States. Both have been featured on television and radio, as well as in newspapers, calendars, and magazines. Both are also official Ellora’s Caveman cover models and appear on their erotic romance covers and at their conventions and tradeshows.

Justin and Taylor are male strippers who give us an apparently honest account on what happens behind the scenes in the male stripping industry .  I found this book a fast (less than 80 pages) and interesting read (though it's been many years since I've been in a male strip club).  Not surprising, the language is for mature readers.

It's written in first person point of view and some of the sections have their names so you know whose voice it is.  Most of them don't so you don't know who was doing what to whom.  I found the writing style a bit arrogant.  The chapters include:
  • Life cycle of a male stripper
  • Backstage with the guys
  • Tricks and tools of the trade
  • Sexacapades
  • Stripper legends and tall tales
  • Working out - the secrets

Given that these guys are in their thirties, it was a bit odd to hear them refer to women as "chicks" most of the time.  But I guess that shows the respect (or lack of) they had/have for the women they encountered in the clubs and on the road.  I cringed at how easy it was for these guys to pick up someone they liked in the club and two seconds later it was wham-bam-thank you-ma'am in the bathroom or a car (sometimes two at a time ... sometimes more than one in a night).  To make more tips, they would prey on and cultivate their regulars.

It would have been interesting to get a little more follow-up on where they are today re relationships and whether stripping and sleeping with everything that moved affected how they got into and out of these relationships.  Given their experiences and how they look, I wonder how huge their egos are and if they would be hard to live with.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

How the kitties fold the laundry

Our washer and dryer are across the hall from our bedroom.

When I do laundry, I dump all the clothes from the dryer onto our bed and them fold them later (once all the loads are done) ... sometimes it's much later if the kitties get comfortable!

Morgan and Crumpet

Canada Post Consumers' Choice Program

We live in a condo.  Our mailboxes are outside and kind of look like these ones.

There was a crazy amount of junk mail being delivered by Canada Post along with our mail so about five years ago I stuck a note on the inside of the door of our mailbox requesting no junk mail.  It's helped a lot.

I got a letter today from Canada Post addressed to "occupant" acknowledging that we are currently not getting junk mail.  The letter then went on to promote their Consumers' Choice Program and listed all the things we are missing ... coupons and savings offers from local businesses (aka flyers), catalogs, etc.

Canada Post wants to make it easy for us to receive this "important mail" so included a card that I'm to stick in our mailbox so the mailman will know it's okay to leave junk in our mailbox again.  Plus I would have to take off the "no junk mail" note.  Um ... no thanks!

I find it interesting, though, when I look at the Consumers' Choice Program on Canada Post's website, they are promoting people to STOP receiving junk mail as one of the "many simple things you can do to lessen your impact on the environment" by doing what I did.

I guess it's more important for them now to make $$ delivering junk mail than to save the environment.

Do you mind getting junk mail?

Book ~ "Saving Laura" (2013) Jim Satterfield

From Goodreads ~ Twenty-one-year-old Shelby Lee plunges into dangerous terrain when blatantly and very foolishly he robs Aspen, Colorado's most notorious cocaine dealer, fleeing the scene with five kilos of Peruvian flake and $75,000.

Shelby escapes to the sagebrush hills of southwestern Wyoming, hoping to disappear into the wilderness until after the furor dies down. Then he plans to return and wrest his old girlfriend, Laura, from the dealer's clutches. Shelby's half-baked scheme goes awry when a chance encounter with a teenage Bonnie and Clyde puts him in the middle of a shootout with two highway patrolmen, intensifying his challenge to stay hidden off the grid.

Using his cache of survival skills, Shelby evades local and state police and returns to Aspen only weeks after the robbery. He finds Laura, herself on the run after a brutal assault at the hands of her captor.

To make things worse, Shelby encounters an unscrupulous DEA agent, willing to sacrifice Laura to make his case. At the core of the chase and the unending physical challenges is the love of a man for a woman. Pure, not simple, but complicated.

It's 1979 and Shelby and Laura are dating and in love.  When his grandfather dies, Shelby needs his space and breaks up with Laura.  Laura starts dating Tom Tucker, a coke dealer, who turns her onto coke, gets her addicted and doesn't treat her very well. Thinking it was his fault this all happened, Shelby robs Tucker of coke and drugs, with the intent of exchanging them for Laura.

Needing to lay low for a while, Shelby hitchhikes to his grandfather's hunting cabin.  That's when things start to go wrong.  He gets a ride from a young couple who are on the run.  After a police chase, one cop is dead, the couple steal the cruiser and Shelby stays to take care of the other cop until he knows help will be arriving.  But now he has the cops looking for him.  He eventually heads back to Aspen, discovers Laura has escaped from Tucker and takes care of her.  He is then forced to help a DEA agent bring Tucker down (the DEA were in the process of this until Shelby unwittingly interfered).

This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it.

I liked the writing style.  It was action-packed and there was always something going on.  It is written in first person, from Shelby's point of view.  As a head's up, the language at times is for mature readers.

I liked the characters.  Shelby is just trying to right the wrong that has happened to Laura.  He's a good guy and has loyal friends (who are colourful characters) who are willing to help him out no matter what.  Had Laura not become involved with Tucker and let him get her addicted to coke, none of this would have happened ... there is a lot of emphasis on the fact that she had alcoholic father, thus making it easy for her to become an addict herself.  Just say "no", kids!  I loved Jaws, the dog!

I'd recommend this book.

Monday 20 May 2013

How our kitties are celebrating Victoria Day

Crumpet and Morgan

Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto, ON

It's such a nice day today (sunny and 25C) so Gord and I walked over to Trinity Bellwoods Park (about a 15 minute walk).

The park is full of colour!

Happy Victoria Day

In Canada, the celebration of Victoria Day occurs every year on Monday, prior to May 25th.

It is the official celebration of the birthdays of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.

Victoria Day was established as a holiday in Canada West (now Ontario) in 1845 and became a national holiday in 1901. Before Victoria Day became a national holiday, we had celebrated Empire Day, beginning in the 1890s as Victoria approached her Diamond jubilee in 1897.

Victoria, queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, was born on 24 May 1819. She ascended the throne after the death of her uncle, George IV, in 1837 when she was only 18. She ruled until her death in 1901 when her son, Edward the VII, became king of England.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Long weekend pub crawl, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went on a pub crawl this afternoon that was organized by Ken Woods, owner of Black Oak Brewing Company.

It started at Bellwoods Brewery at Ossington/Queen W, which is in our 'hood.  It opened at 2pm and that's when/where the group met.

There were three tables of us and we got a spot on the patio.  The patio filled up instantly.

I ordered a Twin Peach.  I can't taste or smell anything (because of my cold/infection) but Gord said I'd like it if I could taste it.  Ha!  It was cold so that's all that mattered to me.

Here's Ken, who organized us.