Saturday 31 January 2015

Toronto Rock 12, Calgary Roughnecks 11

Gord and I are season ticket holders for the Toronto Rock lacrosse team games ... the Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

Tonight was their second home game of the 2015 season and they were playing the Calgary Roughnecks.

The teams warmed up.


The game was about to start ...

Iggy, the Rock mascot

 Scotty Newlands sang the national anthem.

Second annual Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival, Toronto, ON

Steam Whistle Brewing held their second annual Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival next to their brewery today ... and Gord and I were there.

We went to last year's beer festival and had a fabulous time!

It was held outside.  Though the sun was out for most of the afternoon, the temperature was -4C/25F (-12C/10F with the windchill) so we bundled up.  Needless to say, our beer never got warm!

The gates opened at 11am and the first 500 people through the gates received a Roundhouse Winter Fest toque.  We got there shortly after noon and the hats were gone by then.  We had hats from last year and Gord wore his.

Advanced tickets were $20 (it sold out a couple weeks ago) and there were 100 tickets being sold at the gate for $25 ... that included your mug.  Drink tokens were $1 each ... a half mug was one token and a full mug was two tokens.

There was a fella carving ice just inside the entrance.

There was a DJ playing good tunes all afternoon.

Friday 30 January 2015

"You Gotta Eat Here" season four launch party, Pizzeria Via Mercanti, Toronto, ON

Gord and I were invited to the season four launch party of the Food Network Canada's show, You Gotta Eat Here which is hosted by John Catucci

It was held at Pizzeria Via Mercanti (on Elm Street just east of University), which opened in November 2013.

It is in a heritage building

There was a photographer taking pictures of everyone against a promotional backdrop when they arrived.

Plus we got our picture taken with John Catucci and had a nice chat with him.  I told him I'd had the Ringer Burger at the Coastal Waters Restaurant & Pub in Ingonish, NS, in 2011 because of him ... he had spotlighted it on his show.

Thursday 29 January 2015

beautybox five - January 2015

My January beautybox five arrived this week while I was in Montreal.

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 ...

Book ~ "I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend" (2014) Martin Short

From Goodreads ~ Martin Short is one of few celebrities in show business who has continually worked hard, found success and kept his personal life intact. His memoir is a reflection on his diverse collection of experiences, both hilarious and heartbreaking. 

Short takes us through his career, from his early years with Second City Toronto and Saturday Night Live to his movie stardom. He recalls how he developed some of his enduring characters - manic man-child Ed Grimley, slimy lawyer Nathan Thurm, and the large and bizarrely insensitive Jiminy Glick. Here, too, are his television appearances, from "How I Met Your Mother" to his Emmy-nominated role in "Damages", as well as his stage productions, including his Tony Award-winning performance in "Little Me". Throughout, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Nora Ephron, Frank Sinatra and others friends and colleagues share the spotlight. 

This deeply private man brings us into the circle of his family life, from raising his children to the legendary parties he and his wife have hosted. He recounts the pain of losing a brother and both parents by the time he was 20, and of the devastating death of Nancy, his wife of thirty years, in 2010. Despite the hardships, Short’s life has been full of laughter, and he remains perennially upbeat. In this wise and entertaining memoir, he shares his irrepressible joy. 

Martin Short seems like a nice guy and I like some of the stuff he's done so that's why I was interested in reading his memoir.

Short is the youngest of five kids and was born in Hamilton, ON.  As a kid, he would pretend to host shows and record himself.  Though he went to university, he gave himself a year afterwards to become a performer before he had to get a "real" job.  He been in lots of TV shows (including SCTV and Saturday Night Live), movies and plays and has created many characters over the years including Ed Grimley.

He tells meeting his late wife, Nancy, and raising their three children in their beloved house in Pacific Palisades, CA, and a cottage in Snug Harbour, ON.  He tells stories of the close friends he's made over the years including Steve Martin and Tom Hanks in addition to his SCTV buddies like Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara. It sounds like they have a lot of fun together.  Though he's a celebrity himself, he still got star struck when he met idols from his childhood like Frank Sinatra and Katharine Hepburn.

I liked the writing style and this book re-enforced my opinion of him that he is a nice guy.

ALT Hotel - Montréal Griffintown, Montréal, QC

The company I work for had its annual sales conference this week in Montreal.  I stayed at the ALT Hotel in Griffintown from Monday evening 'til this morning.

Here was the lobby ...

Here was my room ... it was funky.

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Book ~ "Brass Ring" (2010) Diane Chamberlain

From Goodreads ~ Claire Harte-Mathias is an infinitely capable solver of other people's problems. Along with her husband, she has established a prestigious foundation to aid in the rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries. Training therapists, counseling patients and conducting workshops keeps Claire busy, fulfilled, and happy. It is a life she wouldn't trade for anything ... and one that is about to fall apart. 

One snowy night, Claire tries and fails to prevent a tragedy from occurring. The incident at first obsesses her, then seems to trigger something deep in her soul. Soon she is haunted by momentary disturbing visions - terrifying images that are vaguely familiar, yet unexplainable. Slowly Claire comes to realize that the pictures are, in fact, fragmented and forgotten memories of her childhood - a childhood she has always remembered as close to perfect. While part of her wants to see where these memories will lead her, another part wants only to run from them, to bury them once again. 

Confused and frightened, Claire is caught up in a complex and devastating struggle between yesterday and today; between the man who wants to help her and the husband who cannot; between terrible secrets and life-altering revelations. In her fight to uncover and accept the truth, Claire discovers that the past, present, and future are intertwined in a way she can never change ... or forget.

Claire and her husband, Jon, who is in a wheelchair, have been together since were 17 (they are now about 40).  While they are heading home after a conference, Claire sees a woman named Margot about to jump off a bridge so she stops to try and save her.  After this incident, Claire becomes obsessed with the woman and needs to make sense of why she would consider suicide.  This triggers nightmares and hallucinations for Claire.  She had a happy childhood so she knows it can't be memories she is reliving.  She becomes friends with Randy, Margot's brother, and it's him she turns to to help her figure out what's happening to her.

Vanessa is a 40ish doctor who had a troubled past with drugs and alcohol.  She has been living with Brian for a couple years yet thinks he's going to leave her at any time.  She has abandonment issues because her father took her when she was young and she never saw her mother or sister again.  Her pet project is a group for adults who were sexually abused when they were young ... she wants to help them get rid of the baggage.

This is the third book I've read by this author.  While I liked the writing style, I didn't like the story lines.  It's written in third person perspective with a focus on whatever is happening at the time.  The book goes back and forth in time, revealing details about Claire and Vanessa's childhoods so we get to know them both better.

I didn't like most of characters.  Claire has always wanted to shelter and help everyone and is always looking at the bright side of things (she got this from her mother who was a bit of a nut).  Jon was okay but I found him weak.  Their daughter, Susan, was away at university and thoroughly unlikeable and rude.  I didn't understand Claire's friendship with Randy and thought he should have shut down the friendship when he realized Jon didn't approve.  I could have done without Claire's attachment to Randy and would have rather have seen her befriend another woman as Randy added conflict that kind of took away from Claire's issues and made me dislike Claire and Randy even more.  The only two I liked were Vanessa and Brian.

Despite not enjoying this book, I look forward to reading others by this author.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Sunday snoozing

Morgan and Crumpet were lazy this afternoon ... kitties love sleeping on clean laundry!

Morgan and Crumpet
Morgan and Crumpet

Later when we were watching TV ...

Crumpet was snoozing on three pillows next to Gord on the couch
Morgan was snuggled in my arms

Book ~ "Full Tilt" (2015) Rick Mofina

From Goodreads ~ Deep in the woods of upstate New York a woman flees a blazing barn. She is burned beyond recognition and her dying words point police to a labyrinth of "confinement rooms" - rooms designed to hold human beings captive - where they make other chilling discoveries. 

In Manhattan, Kate Page, a single mom and reporter with a newswire service, receives a heart-stopping call from a detective on the case. A guardian angel charm found at the scene fits the description of the one belonging to Kate's sister, Vanessa, who washed away after a car crash in a mountain river twenty years ago. 

Kate has spent much of her life searching for the truth behind her little sister's disappearance. Now, a manhunt for a killer who's kept a collection of victims prisoner for years without detection becomes her final chance to either mourn Vanessa's death - or save her life. 

A woman is found running out of a burning barn.  Though she dies of her injuries, her last words were that there were others.  As the barn is searched, the burned body of a man is found along with a suicide note in a nearby truck.

Kate is a reporter for an online service.  Twenty years ago, she was the sole survivor of a car accident that claimed the lives of her foster parents and her younger sister.  Her sister's body, though, was never found and Kate never gave up the hope that Vanessa was still alive.  She is contacted by the police because a charm matching the description of the one Vanessa was wearing when she died is found in the barn fire.  This leads Kate to pursue this story from a professional level but more importantly from a personal level.  Is her sister alive after all these years?  If not, how did her sister's charm end up in the fire?

This is the fourth book I've read by this author and I thought it was okay.  It was written in third person perspective with the focus bouncing around depending on what was going on.  Though it was an interesting story, I found at times the writing could have been tighter.  It was a bit farfetched in some of the storylines but I just went with it.  I found it amazing how much Kate was able to uncover about the killer's past and identity that the various police agencies didn't (thank goodness she was involved!).

Saturday 24 January 2015

Topbox - January 2015

I picked up my January Topbox today at the post office ... they tried to deliver it last week and we weren't home.

For only $12 a month, you will receive a Topbox with 4 carefully selected, indulgent, beauty products. Then test the products in the comfort of your own home.

Here's what was in it ...

Friday 23 January 2015

Toronto Rock 13, Buffalo Bandits 11

Gord and I are season ticket holders for the Toronto Rock lacrosse team games ... the Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  This is our third year going to the games and our second year having seasons tickets.

Tonight was their first home game of the 2015 season (they won their first two away games) and they were playing the Buffalo Bandits.

The Bandits warming up
The Rock warming up

The Rock were introduced player-by-player and formed a "T".

Thursday 22 January 2015

Book ~ "Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money" (2013) Kevin O'Leary

From Goodreads ~ From entrepreneur, TV celebrity and money expert Kevin O'Leary - a clear, no-nonsense personal finance guide that will help you build a secure future for yourself and for the ones you love.

We all think carefully about the big decisions in our lives, like what career we want to pursue or who we want to marry. But few people spend enough time thinking deeply about the financial implications of their biggest life choices - and that's a serious money mistake.

In his latest book picking up from where his last personal finance book left off, entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary presents another fifty common money mistakes. He provides all the tools you need to avoid making them and to keep more of your hard-earned cash in your bank account. A bestselling author, television star and immensely successful businessman, Kevin O'Leary understands the difficulties of raising a family while working to provide financial security. He walks you through every age and stage of life - from dating, to marrying, to raising a family, to retiring - offering critical advice about saving and spending, debt and credit, as well as tips on how to instill the value of money in every member of your family. After all, your family is your most important investment. Treat it like a precious long-term asset, and you and yours will enjoy a healthy, wealthy future.

I work in the financial services industry (in retirement planning) and like reading books about managing money.  I'd read O'Leary's other books recently and enjoyed them.

There are four parts in this book:
  1. Love - the dating game, choosing a mate and the five languages of money
  2. Marriage - arranged marriages (why they can sometimes work), establishing your financial independence and building the bedrock of your partnership
  3. Kids - Give your kids an MBA (money & banking awareness), having them get a job, single parents, blended families and adopted kids, and letters from Uncle Kevin to your teenager and 20-something
  4. Family - building your business family tree, midlife crises and money mismanagement, and giving your marriage a fighting chance

Though I couldn't relate to the chapter on kids (since I don't have any), I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  Since I watched the author on Dragons' Den and Shark Tank, I would hear "Mr. Wonderful's" voice in his writing ... it's direct and there's no BS.  Despite the wealth he has, he is constantly teaching his children the value of money.  For example, when he travels and he takes his kids with him, he has no qualms about buying himself (and his wife) a first class plane ticket and economy tickets for the kids.

There was a bit of a disconnect, though, when he talked about ways of saving money and one is to borrow movies from the library rather than going to the theatre.  While I can't imagine him doing that today, perhaps he did things like this when his family was young and he was growing his business.

There are quizzes throughout such as "Do You Speak the Same Money Language as Your Mate?" and "Are you Financially Independent in Your Marriage?"  There are pictures throughout the book of him and his family throughout the years.

Earls Kitchen and Bar, Winnipeg, MB (Polo Park)

I had a late lunch today at Earls near the Polo Park Mall (I was heading home to Toronto and it was on the way to the airport).  I've been to a couple Earls before and like them.

I sat on the dining room side

I ordered Jeera Chicken Curry and it was good ... not too spicy but spicy enough.

Days Inn, Steinbach, MB

This morning I have a 10am meeting about two hours east Steinbach (which is about 45 minutes SE of Winnipeg) so I stayed at the Days Inn in Steinbach.  It is apparently the closest "most decent" place to stay to where I have to be.

Here was my room ...