Wednesday 31 December 2014

Book ~ "The Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women and Money" (2012) Kevin O'Leary

From Goodreads ~ Getting a handle on finances can be challenging at any age. Whether you're a parent struggling to explain savings to your children, a newly engaged couple considering joint bank accounts, or a baby boomer entering retirement, Kevin O'Leary has advice to help you make and keep more money. 

As a lead Dragon of CBC's Dragons' Den and ABC's Shark Tank, Kevin's success with money management and in business is legendary. But he's made mistakes along the way, too, and he's writing this book so others - like his son and daughter - can benefit from his experiences. Each chapter is geared to a specific age or stage in life. You'll find real-life examples of common money mistakes (and strategies for avoiding them), "Cold Hard Truth" quizzes and charts aimed at boosting your Wallet Wisdom, and tips and tricks for making more money and growing it faster to achieve financial freedom. 

I work in the retirement planning industry plus I'm a fan of Dragons' Den and Shark Tank ... so I thought it would be interesting to get O'Leary's thoughts on financial planning.  I conduct one-on-ones in addition to seminars and it's amazing the amount of people I talk with who don't have a clue how they should be planning for their retirement or assume that though they have very little savings, they will be able to retirement early and live well. This book would be a big help to them.

The chapters include:
  • Spend less, save well, invest often - money lessons he learned from his mother; figuring out your 90-day number; save your money, save your life; invest right, invest now; debt-free first
  • Youth and money learning & earning, dating & mating - Kids and cash; the high cost of higher eduction; boomers and boomerangs:  when generations financially collide; young love and money
  • Marriage, mortgage and children - marriage and money; house poor, house rich; cash in the cradle; avoiding money pits
  • Midlife money matters & your financial legacy - midlife and money karma divorce, remarriage and gold diggers; debt, divesting and downsizing

Throughout the book, there are quizzes and tips (like ten ways for getting your adult kid out of your basement and five ways to minimize baby-spending madness).

I enjoyed this book and thought the author did an excellent job covering the different stages in life to make the reader more aware of the importance of saving early and investing appropriately, having the money conversation with someone when you start dating, renting versus buying a house, buying a new car versus leasing one, ensuring you have enough for your retirement before you start helping others financially, etc. 

I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  Since I watched the author on Dragons' Den and Shark Tank, I would hear "Uncle Kevin's" voice in his writing ... at times it was funny and sarcastic yet intolerant.  There were a few pictures throughout the book of him and his family throughout the years.

I'd recommend this book.  It is informative yet entertaining.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Book ~ "100 Ways to Take Better Nature & Wildlife Photographs" (2009) Guy Edwardes

From Goodreads ~ This guide is suitable for all levels of photographers. "100 Ways to Take Better Nature and Wildlife Photographs" features 100 practical and inspiring tips on every aspect of the genre.Guy Edwardes' breath-taking pictures accompany his easy-to-follow advice on a wide range of subjects from capturing the actions of large mammals to snapping wild birds and flowers in the garden. 

 With tips on everything from technique to composition, coping with extreme field conditions to Photoshop software manipulation, this is an invaluable guide for anyone with a passion for photography of the natural world.

I have three cameras ... a Canon point-and-shoot that is usually in my purse, a Nikon D5100 DSLR along with some lenses, and a Nikon CoolPix (that's in between the two). Needless to say, I take a lot of pictures.  I'm still an amateur and like reading photography books to see what professionals take pictures of and how they do it.

The content of book includes:
  • Nature and wildlife:  photography basics - keep a diary (to remember locations, conditions, angles, etc.), recording action and behaviour, legal issues, etc.
  • Technical considerations - understanding the histogram, depth of field, lenses, etc.
  • Fieldcraft - researching locations, setting up feeding stations, working from hides, etc.
  • Composition - the best focal length, natural patterns, controlling the background, etc.
  • Lighting - front, side, artificial, etc.
  • Photographing birds and animals - in the nest, in flight, in your garden, etc.
  • Photographing flora and fungi - with a telephoto lens, in wet weather, removing debris, etc.
  • Close-ups in nature - using a macros lens, shooting abstracts, capturing a sharp image, etc.
  • Photographing the seasons - autumn colour, cold climates, hot dry climates, etc.
  • Digital cameras and post-production  - RAW vs jpeg, finetuning, etc.

For every one of the 100 tips, there is an intro about it, a picture, a description of how the picture was set-up, where the picture was taken and the specs of the picture (the type of camera, aperture, shutter speed, tripod/beanbag, etc.), which I found helpful.  Here is a sample of one of the tips:

The pictures are inspiring ... the author obviously knows what he is doing and enjoys doing it.

I enjoyed this book ... though there is a lot of information, I found that I understand most of it.

beautybox five - December 2014

I received my December beautybox five today.

Beauty Box 5 is a subscription-based, beauty sampling service that delivers 5 deluxe samples and full-sized products right to your door every month.

Subscriptions are $12US a month or $99US for a year.  Shipping is free.

Here's what was in the box ...

Total value - $30.86US

    Monday 29 December 2014

    Museum Tavern, Toronto, ON

    After Gord and I left the ROM, we went to the Museum Tavern for supper ... it's right across the street.

     It was fairly busy.

    We sat on the dining room side

    Dylan, our server, recommended the cheeseburger so that's what we both ordered.

    Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto, ON

    Gord and I spent the afternoon at the ROM ... neither of us had been there in many years.

    The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a museum of world culture and natural history. It is one of the largest museums in North America and was established in April 1912 and opened in March 1914.

    With more than six million items and forty galleries, the museum's diverse collections of world culture and natural history are part of the reason for its international reputation.  The museum contains notable collections of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites, Near Eastern and African art, Art of East Asia, European history and Canadian history. It also houses the world's largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale with more than 150,000 specimens.  The museum also contains an extensive collection of design and fine arts, including clothing, interior, and product design, especially Art Deco.

    We started off by checking out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.

    Experience the beauty and power of our natural world as the ROM presents the Canadian premiere of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Coming from the Natural History Museum in London, Wildlife Photographer of the Year is now in its 50th year and second year at the ROM. This internationally renowned photography competition celebrates nature and wildlife through 100 breathtaking photos, selected from tens of thousands of submissions by photographers of all ages around the world.

    Sunday 28 December 2014

    Book ~ "Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters' Guide to Shooting from the Heart" (2010) Karen Walrond, Jen Lemen, Sarah-Ji, Kate Inglis, Andrea Scher, Tracey Clark, Paige Balcer, Stephanie Roberts, Irene Nam and Maile Wilson

    From Goodreads ~ For most photographers, the perfect shot is not the one which has the sharpest focus, the cleanest composition or the most balanced exposure. The perfect shot is the one that captures the personality of the subject, the character of a scene or the dynamic of the moment and this is the first book that explores different approaches to shooting with that aim in mind. 

    The Shutter Sisters, an innovative partnership of ten photographers, have been sharing their expertise for years on a successful blog; this is their first book. 

    Valuing the evocative and emotional, they show how to balance the technical craft of photography with the demands of the moment and the avoidance of cliché. With thematic chapters including Childhood, Togetherness and Solitude, Expressive Photography offers a wealth of ideas for the shooter who wants to move beyond dry technique. 

    I have three cameras ... a Canon point-and-shoot that is usually in my purse, a Nikon D5100 DSLR along with some lenses, and a Nikon CoolPix (that's in between the two) that I use often. Needless to say, I take a lot of pictures.

    I'm still an amateur and like reading photography books to see what professionals take pictures of and how they do it.

    Shutter Sisters began in January 2008 as a collaborative photo blog - written for women, by women - which quickly grew into a trusted source of photographic inspiration. Shutter Sisters has, over the years, been cultivated by a handful of extraordinary women; storytellers who through images and words have helped build a warm, welcoming, and inclusive global community. Through this collaborative spirit, Shutter Sisters has gathered and connected women with a passion for photography, creating an authentic and true sisterhood that transcends even the expansive borders of the web.

    This book had ten chapters with different focuses:
    • Horizons
    • Portraiture
    • Nature
    • Spaces
    • Childhood
    • Stillness
    • Documentary
    • Creatures
    • Table
    • Togetherness

    In each chapter, there is an introduction, blog posts by a couple of the authors, approach, perspective, composition, lighting, details and processing.

    The pictures for the most part were inspiring and helped me look at different ways to take photographs (angles, content, etc). Some of the pictures, though, looked like ones I've taken and trashed (not my style, I guess). I'm a fan of playing around with aperture and there were a lot of pictures with a shallow depth of field which I like. Though some photos had the details (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc.), it would have been nice if more did. So it's not a book if you are looking to learn how to technically take photos ... more to give you some creative ideas.

    Lazy Sunday

    While Gord was watching football and I was reading this afternoon, the kitties were snoozing ...

    Crumpet loves the new kitty bed
    Morgan was sprawled between Gord and I on the couch

    Frankie's Bar & Cafe, Toronto, ON

    Gord's a big fan of breakfast and we headed to Frankie's Bar & Cafe (Ossington/Queen W) this morning, which is in our 'hood, before heading to the grocery store.

    There were a few people with the same idea when we got there about 11am.

    Saturday 27 December 2014

    The Hogtown Pub and Oysters, Toronto, ON

    After Gord and I left the Royal Cinema, we had supper at the Hogtown Pub and Oysters (College Street/Grace Street).

    Gord ordered Bacon Mac & Cheese ... he said it was delicious and would get it again.

    Royal Cinema, Toronto, ON

    Gord and I saw St. Vincent this afternoon (it was good ... go see it!) at the Royal Cinema.

    I've never been to this theatre but have been wanting to checking it out for many years.

    Originally built in 1939, the Royal Cinema is an historic Art Moderne movie house located in the heart of Little Italy. The 390-seat theatre was known as the Pylon when it first opened in 1939. Over time, it’s become one of Toronto’s most cherished landmarks. 

    With the threat of closure looming in 2007, Theatre D Digital moved in during the fall, seeing an opportunity to bring their unique business model to a second facility. The Royal continues to operate in the evenings as a second-run indie/art house cinema. However with extensive upgrades and renovations, it is now also a digitally-equipped screening and live event venue, adhering to the highest standards for picture and sound presentation. It is suited for live concerts, screenings, film festivals, corporate events, multimedia exhibition, and more. 

    During the daytime, Theatre D operates out of the Royal as a film and television post-production studio. The main theatre becomes a Dolby-approved 5.1 mix room and four picture editing suites are located upstairs.

    We got our tickets at the concession stand.

    It's been years since I've been at an old-school (non-multiplex cinema) and it was nice.

    The screen quality was top notch as was the sound.  I look forward to seeing other movies at this theatre.

    Friday 26 December 2014

    Sleepy Mean, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON

    Mark, a fella Gord works with, is in a band called Sleepy Mean (he is the bassist) and they were playing tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern.  Gord and I checked them out.

    There were four banks playing

    When we got there, MAPS was playing.

    There's Gord with his work colleagues, Jesse and Mark (who is in the band), before Sleepy Mean took to the stage.

    The 3 Brewers Restaurant Micro-Brewery, Toronto, ON (Adelaide Street W)

    Gord and I had supper this evening at 3 Brewers on Adelaide Street W/York Street ... they just opened this location a couple months ago.  I worked in that building a few years ago and at that time this space was a business bookstore.

    They brew beer onsite

    Kitty Christmas gifts

    Sister Sarah's kitties, Shadow and Sunny, and our kitties, Morgan and Crumpet, exchange Christmas gifts every year.

    This year Morgan and Crumpet each received a toy ... Morgan used his as a pillow.

    And Crumpet is sleeping in the bed they also received ... I think she likes it!