Saturday 31 May 2014

BBQ at Maggie and Rick's

Gord's friend, Rick, and Rick's girlfriend, Maggie, moved to Stoney Creek a couple years ago (almost an hour away).

They invited Malcolm, Mary, Sox, Gord and I for a BBQ today.

We got there about 3:30pm.  Their house and deck backs onto a lovely inlet so it was a great spot to relax and catch some rays.

The guys got caught up
Mary relaxed with a glass of wine

Friday 30 May 2014

Crave TO - Ignite Your Senses, Wychwood Barns, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went to Crave TO - Ignite Your Senses this evening at Wychwood Barns (Christie/St. Clair W).

Ignite your senses and launch patio season with Toronto’s premier street food and craft beer creators all to the soundtrack of Toronto DJs. 

It's the first one we've been to.  Entrance tickets online were about $20 and $25 at the gate.

It was from 5pm 'til 11pm ... the patio was beckoning at 5pm.  It was sunny and warm out.

The first place we headed was to get some drink tickets.  They were 8 for $20 ... beers were two tickets and wine/drinks were three tickets.

There was lots to choose from to eat and drink.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Book ~ "The Chase" (2014) Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

From Goodreads ~ Internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox is famous for running elaborate and daring scams. His greatest con of all: convincing the FBI to team him up with the only person who has ever caught him, and the only woman to ever capture his attention, Special Agent Kate O’Hare. 

Together they’ll go undercover to swindle and catch the world’s most wanted - and untouchable - criminals. Their newest target is Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff and the ruthless leader of a private security agency. Grove has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, a crime that will torpedo U.S. relations with China if it ever becomes public. Nick and Kate must work under the radar - and against the clock - to devise a plan to steal the piece back. 

Confronting Grove’s elite assassins, Nick and Kate rely on the skills f their ragtag crew, including a flamboyant actor, a Geek Squad techie and a band of AARP-card-carrying mercenaries led by none other than Kate’s dad. 

A daring heist and a deadly chase lead Nick and Kate from Washington, D.C., to Shanghai, from the highlands of Scotland to the underbelly of Montreal. But it’ll take more than death threats, trained henchmen, sleepless nights, and the fate of a dynasty’s priceless heirloom to outsmart Fox and O’Hare. 

Nick Fox is on the FBI's top 10 wanted list ... Kate is an FBI agent on the hunt for Nick.  Unbeknownst to everyone but her boss and her dad, Nick and Kate are actually working together.  A rare artifact that has been at the Smithsonian is being returned to China ... except it was stolen 10 years ago by Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff, and a replica has been in its place.  Nick and Kate must steal the real artifact from Carter and replace it without anyone knowing.  This then leads them to want to expose Carter and recover other priceless things he has stolen over the years.  But Carter isn't going to make it easy ... he now heads up a private security agency which employs trained killers who don't hesitate to do what they do best.

This is the second in the Fox and O'Hare series ... I hadn't read the first one, The Heist, but didn't need to as this book works as a stand alone.  I've read all of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.  Over the years they have gotten silly and mindless so it was good to read something of hers that has more substance.  This is the first that I've read of Goldberg's.

I liked this book and the story and it kept me interested.  There was a lot of action ... it was far-fetched at times so I had to leave my sense of belief at the door.  I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  It was humorous at times ... like when Nick's alias are from TV shows (Sonny Crockett, Jonathan Hart, Jethro Clampet, etc.) As a head's up, there is some swearing.

I liked Kate and Nick and enjoyed their interactions and banters.  The supporting characters were likeable too such as Jake (Kate's dad) and his sidekicks, Willie (the big-busted redneck), Joe (the computer geek) and Boyd (the actor who really gets into his roles).

I'd recommend this book.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

West Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord and I attended the relaunch of the West Bar (King Street W/Brant Street) this evening.  Marc Kyriacou, Glen Baxter, Gil and Nina Huber and Steve Doussis have reopened the original King West hotspot.

We got there about 6pm.  There was an oyster bar outside.

You could also get a freshly rolled cigar from Frank Correnti.

Alex was making Westinis ... lemonade, strawberries, peppermint and Grey Goose.


We went downstairs and checked out the inside.  It was funky.

Tuesday 27 May 2014


Gord captured Crumpet and I having a nap this evening.

I was laying on the couch reading after supper and a wave of tiredness hit me ... so I went with it (I'm not a napper).  Crumpet was a bad influence!

I guess I'm having trouble getting used to non-vacation mode.

Book ~ "Then and Always" (2014) Dani Atkins

From Goodreads ~ Absorbing, surprising, and heart-rending, Dani Atkins’s debut novel follows a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life … just not the one she remembers.

Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend and acceptance to the journalism program at a top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart. 

Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. 

But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

Rachel, her handsome rich boyfriend, Matt, and close their friends have just graduated from high school.  Before they head off to university and whatever else lies before them, they have one last supper together.  Tragedy happens that night that leaves one of them dead and Rachel is scarred (literally) for life.  Her plans then drastically change after spending many months recovering ... she eventually moves to London, becomes a secretary and rarely sees her high school friends.

Five years later, Sarah is getting married and all the friends gather for supper beforehand ... the first time they have all been together since the tragedy.   Rachel collapses after she leaves the get together.  When she wakes up in the hospital, her life isn't as she knew it.  Despite breaking up five years ago, she and Matt are now engaged and living in London, she has a stressful job working for a magazine, has a cool apartment and the friend who had died is still alive.  Huh?!  These are not the memories that Rachel has of the last five years.  Does she have amnesia?  Is she insane?  Or has she crossed over into some kind of time travel? 

This is the debut novel of this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and thought it was well-paced.  It is written in first person perspective from Rachel's point of view.  I thought the author handled Rachel's confusion when she wakes up in the hospital well.  It gave Rachel a chance for a "do over".  I was wondering if Rachel's two lives would connect and, if they did, how.  I suspected it would end the way it did and was satisfied and bought it.

I look forward to reading future books by this author.

Monday 26 May 2014

Book ~ "Healing Smoothies for Breast Cancer" (2014) Daniella Chace

From Goodreads ~ Daniella Chace, the best-selling author of "Smoothies for Life" and "What to Eat if You Have Cancer", returns with an exciting new book that provides 100 research-based, delicious smoothie recipes designed to provide nutrition support for the prevention of and recovery from breast cancer.

A clinical nutritionist for more than 20 years, Chace has spent her career reviewing and synthesizing nutritional studies to provide her clients and readers with evidence-based advice on nutrition. 

In "Healing Smoothies for Breast Cancer," she pulls from the latest research to create powerful recipes that showcase ingredients proven to impact breast cancer.

I start every day with a shake/smoothie ... protein powder, Greens+ Multi+, fish oil, frozen berries and water.  

I recently read and enjoyed 365 Skinny Smoothies: Delicious Recipes to Help You Get Slim and Stay Healthy Every Day of the Year by this author and let her know.  She asked me if I wanted to read and review this book.

As a clinical nutritionist who specializes in oncology nutrition, the author was hired in 1998 to develop the nutrition protocols for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America to incorporate nutrition into their treatment plans. She started creating smoothie recipes to help alleviate chemo-induced nausea and inflammation as well as to increase energy and promote healing. Smoothies made a lot of sense as they include nutrient-rich foods, are easy to make and are inexpensive.

She developed the recipes to provide concentrated healing nutrients while also accommodating dietary restrictions. The recipes are vegan, gluten-free, low in fat, high in protein and without common allergenic foods such as dairy, soy, corn and wheat (dairy and soy are eliminated not only because they are allergenic foods but also because they are triggers for breast cancer).

The author begins by telling why she wrote the book and to help people sift through a lot of misinformation.  Then she brings us up-to-date on recent developments on breast cancer research.  This is followed by guidelines of smoothie making (high protein, low sugar, avoiding plastic, etc.) and a list of essential ingredients (apples, black pepper, berries, sunflower seeds, etc.).

The recipe section has 100 recipes and is broken into eleven chapters, each focusing on a base ingredient such as apricot nectar or green tea.  She also tells us the reason why specific ingredients are used (for example,  recent studies confirm the inhibitory effects of green tea catechins on the growth of existing breast tumors) along with the nutritional information (calories, fibre, carbs, protein, etc.).  The recipes sound delicious!!

This book can be read by everyone because the smoothies have been created to support the healing AND prevention of breast cancer.  Here's a scary stat ... one out of eight of us will develop breast cancer which means all women have some risk.

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

Sunday 25 May 2014

Book ~ "365 Skinny Smoothies: Delicious Recipes to Help You Get Slim and Stay Healthy Every Day of the Year" (2014) Daniella Chace

From Goodreads ~ A smoothie a day keeps the fat away. So go on. Blend your way to skinny.

Forget those 700-calorie "healthy" smoothies you've been drinking. Daniella Chace, nutritionist and bestselling author of Smoothies for Life!, has whipped up 365 recipes that will kick-start your weight loss with daily doses of delicious, medicinally potent superfood smoothies. 

Organized by season and month, each of these 365 smoothie recipes is a satisfying blend of whole foods that are rich in nutrients that help you shed body fat. Powerhouse ingredients - such as pomegranate juice, chia seeds, green tea and cocoa powder - will boost your metabolism, increase fat-fighting enzymes and even curb your appetite And with names like Tulsi Avocado Cream, Green Lushy, Svelte Synergy and The Violet TuTu, you'll be sipping your way to increased muscle and reduced fat while your taste buds - and waistline - rejoice. 

This book caught my eye because I start every day with a shake/smoothie ... protein powder, Greens+ Multi+, fish oil, frozen berries and water.  I thought it would be interesting to get some other suggestions.  I liked the fact that the focus is on recipes to get you slim and stay healthy.

The author starts by providing nutrition secrets for losing weight with smoothies (minimizing sugar, adding protein, glass is better than plastic, buying organic, sweetening with fibre, etc.).  The next chapter has a list of the essential weight loss smoothie ingredients ... like almond milk, bananas, berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, protein powders, etc.  There is a description of their goodness and then how to prepare and store them.  Then what follows are 365 recipes for smoothies ... one for every day of the year.  They are organized by ingredients to make shopping easier and by season so you'll be using ingredients that are in season.  Nutritional information such as calories, carbs, fibreand protein are included along with culinary tips.

I read this book on my ereader ... this would be a book I'd want a hard copy for ease of reference.

If you are into smoothies, you should check it out ... they sound delicious yet healthy!

Saturday 24 May 2014

Book ~ "Paw Enforcement" (2014) Diane Kelly

From Goodreads ~ Introducing police officer, Megan Luz, and her loyal K-9 partner, Brigit - two Fort Worth cops who are worth their weight in kibble. 

Officer Luz is lucky she still has a job after tasering a male colleague where it counts the most. Sure, he had it coming - which is why the police chief is giving Megan a second chance. The catch? Her new partner can’t carry a gun, can’t drive a cruiser, and can’t recite the Miranda Rights. Because her new partner is a big furry police dog. So that’s what the chief meant when he called Megan’s partner a real b*tch.

With Brigit out on the beat, Megan is writing up enough tickets to wallpaper the whole station. But when a bomb goes off at the mall’s food court, it’s up to Megan and Brigit to start digging - and sniffing - for clues. With the help of dead-sexy bomb-squad expert, Seth Rutledge, and his own canine partner named Blast, Megan finds herself in a desperate race to collar a killer. Will justice be served - or will she end up in the doghouse?

Megan is a fairly new cop and recently got in trouble because she tasered her A-hole partner, Derek (he deserves it!).  She has a choice ... either take on a canine partner and do an anger management course or lose her job.  She begrudgingly partners with Brigit.

While on patrol in a mall, Megan and Brigit discover a bomb and are able to get the shoppers out before the bomb blows.  She meets Seth, a bomb squad tech and sparks fly.  The lead cop investigating lets Megan help with tracking down the bomber which makes her happy.  The bomber then strikes again, this time with innocent bystanders getting hurt.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style ... it was funny and sarcastic yet suspenseful.  It is written in first person perspective from Megan's point of view and third person perspective from Brigit's point of view (which is funny) and the bomber's point of view (you don't know who the bomber is until towards the end of the book).

I liked Megan.  She's not perfect and despite getting the minimum pass mark on her anger management course, she still has bursts of emotion (like gleefully smacking the plastic testicles on her former partner's car every day).  Seth seems like a nice guy but has some family secret he is holding back on.  Brigit is a hoot and deep down is still a dog who loves attention and chewing on Megan's shoes.

I can see this being the first of a series (I hope so!).  I look forward to reading others by this author.

Meliá Nassau Beach, Cable Beach, Bahamas

Sister Sarah and I spent the last week at the Meliá Nassau Beach in Cable Beach, Bahamas ... we got there last Saturday and left today.

Until recently, it was a Sheraton and is in transition.

The reception
The lobby

Checking in was brutally slow ... over a half hour standing in line waiting for our turn.  Checking out took about a minute (long enough to snip our bracelet).  My bill showed that I owed $152 ... huh?  I was on the all-inclusive plan so had her investigate and she discovered some things had been coded incorrectly (so check your bill when you leave).  I found the ladies at the reception desk friendly but cold, strange considering they are the first contact for the hotel.

There was a Starbucks on the lower level (not part of the all inclusive).

Here was my room ... it was a bit dated and worn but I thought it was okay.

Friday 23 May 2014

Cable Beach, Bahamas - Day 7

It's our last night here.  Sister Sarah and I had supper in the lobby bar ... we both had wings and split an order of nachos.

The VIPs, the band who played at the BBQ last night, were the entertainment.  They played a lot of motown tonight and were good.  It was fairly quiet when they started but was crowded when they finished about midnight.

We had some glasses of bubbly.

Me and Sister Sarah

Charisma was one of our servers tonight ... she has been taking excellent care of us all week.

Me, Charisma and Sister Sarah

Strolling to Nassau, Bahamas

After I left Curly's, I walked to downtown Nassau (about 15 minutes with the pace I was going).

Across the street from the Fish Fry, there is a beach (Western Esplanade).  Food trucks are set up.

The beach was a lovely spot to sit for a while.

Fish Fry, Arawak Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

I got too much sun yesterday so wanted to stay away from the beach and the pool today.

So I caught the bus to the "Fish Fry" in Arawak Cay (about a ten minute ride from my hotel) for lunch.

Arawak Cay offers the authentic atmosphere of the Bahamian Fish Fry with vendors selling made to order conch salad, fried fish and other Bahamian dishes. Arawak Cay was artificially built from the sand when the harbor was dredged in 1969.There is a police station, a storytelling porch for special events, an old Bahamian rock oven, an open stage and an open grassy area with seating for the audience where concerts and other productions are held. Sunday nights is when the majority of locals can be seen at Arawak Cay or Fish Fry as the locals would say.

It is a collection of 31 colourful restaurants offering fresh authentic Bahamians meals, spread over a couple blocks.

Book ~ "Fast Forward" (2013) Juliet Madison

From Goodreads ~ Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her 25th birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd. 

Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?

Kelli is a model and dating a photographer.  She is turning 25 tomorrow and suspects he's going to propose ... and. of course, she is going to say yes.

When she wakes up on her birthday, she discovers that today is her 50th birthday, not her 25th.  Gone is her gorgeous body and hot boyfriend ... instead she is overweight, married to the high school nerd and has two children.  She has no idea what happened to the last 25 years.  She bluffs through her day trying to fit in and figure out what's going on.

She is directed to a website by a psychic and realizes that she is a "fast forward" ... someone who suddenly is propelled into time.  There are others like Kelli and they have posted their stories on the website ... some were propelled ahead a few years while others many years and their stays were short while others were long.  One person was still waiting to go back.

Throughout her day, everyone is celebrating her birthday with her ... her kids, her sister, her best friend (a stranger), etc.  In the evening, there is a huge birthday party with all her family and friends, most of whom she doesn't know.  All she wants is to go back to the life she had.

I like reading time travel books and this one was interesting as Kelli traveled 25 years into the future, rather than going back in time.  So this gave the author the opportunity to have fun and be creative.  Gone is the need to carry around a purse ... everything (phone, money, car keys, books, etc.) are including on a small e-pad that you wear.  Facebook has purchased Google so you Foogle to find info.  You tell your car where you want to go and it does all the driving (and parking) for you.

This was the first book I've read by this author and I thought it was just okay.  I didn't really like Kelli and had a hard time connecting with her.  So I didn't care if she got back to her time or not ... I was more interested in how/why it happened in the first place.  I liked her family and friends and it was obvious she had built a happy life. 

Most of the story takes place on her 50th birthday (just one day) and I found it a bit unbelievable that she was able to jam as much as she did into one day (bungy jumping, spa, lunch, visiting her parents' graves, conducting an important business meeting, talking about her situation with a psychic AND attend her birthday party).

Thursday 22 May 2014

Cable Beach, Bahamas - Day 6

Sister Sarah and I were supposed to go on a four hour boat cruise yesterday afternoon but it got cancelled so we did the bus tour of Nassau instead.

We were supposed to do the boat cruise today ... but it got cancelled again.  So we took that as a sign that we were supposed to stay on the resort and relax.

We started our morning at the beach.  During the early part of the week, it had been windy and the water was rough so it wasn't much fun spending time in the water.  But today everything was calm and I was in and out often.