Sunday, 30 August 2015

Book ~ "A Beginner's Guide to Paradise" (2015) Alex Sheshunoff

From Goodreads ~ So you too can:
  • Move to a South Pacific island
  • Wear a loinclotbooksh
  • Read a hundred 
  • Diaper a baby monkey
  • Build a bungalow 
  • And maybe, just maybe, fall in love! *

* Individual results may vary.

The true story of how a quarter-life crisis led to adventure, freedom, and love on a tiny island in the Pacific.

From the author of a lot of emails and several facebook posts comes A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise, a laugh-out-loud, true story that will answer your most pressing escape-from-it-all questions, including:
  1. How much, per pound, should you expect to pay a priest to fly you to the outer islands of Yap?
  2. Classic slumber party stumper: If you could have just one movie on a remote Pacific island, what would it definitely not be?
  3. How do you blend fruity drinks without a blender?
  4. Is a free, one-hour class from Home Depot on “Flowerbox Construction” sufficient training to build a house?
From "Robinson Crusoe" to "Survivor", "Gilligan’s Island" to "The Beach", people have fantasized about living on a remote tropical island. But when facing a quarter-life crisis, plucky desk slave Alex Sheshunoff actually did it.

While out in Paradise, he learned a lot. About how to make big choices and big changes. About the less-than-idyllic parts of paradise. About tying a loincloth without exposing the tender bits. Now Alex shares his incredible story and pretty-hard-won wisdom in a book that will surprise you, make you laugh, take you to such unforgettable islands as Yap and Pig, and perhaps inspire your own move to an island with only two letters in its name.

Answers: 1) $1.14 2) "Gas Attack Training Made Simple" 3) Crimp a fork in half and insert middle into power drill 4) No.

Back in the late 1990s, the author ran an internet company in New York.  Five years into it, burnt out and in his late 20s, he left New York to look for paradise.  With the 100 books he'd never read in school, he moved to a small island in the Pacific called Yap (population of just over 11,000 in the Pacific Ocean).  He eventually ended up in Angaur (in Palau, also in the Pacific Ocean).  This is his account of his experiences and figuring out what paradise means to him.

I enjoyed this book.  I found it interesting to learn about places I'd never heard of before and their people and customs.  I enjoy travelling but I don't think I could rough it out in some of the places like Alex did.  It was fun to live vicariously through him.

I enjoyed the writing style.  What could have been a dry boring travel journal was actually quite entertaining.  The author was honest, funny and sarcastic (but in a good way).  I think he'd be a hoot to sit and chat with.

Alex built a house .... what a view!
He even took in motherless baby monkey

The Good Son, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had brunch this morning at The Good Son (Dovercourt/Queen W), which is in our 'hood.  They celebrated their first anniversary this month and this is the first time we've been.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), Toronto, ON

Gord and I took today off and headed over to the CNE this afternoon.

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), also known as The Ex, is an annual event that takes place at Exhibition Place in Toronto, during the 18 days leading up to and including Labour Day Monday. With approximately 1.3 million visitors each year, the CNE is Canada’s largest annual fair and the seventh largest in North America. The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers, and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation. As Canada has grown as a nation, the CNE has also changed over time, reflecting the growth in diversity and innovation, though agriculture and technology remain a large part of the CNE today.

Admission is $18 and there is something for everyone ... rides, midway, games of chance, food, shopping, music and more!

KFC's Double Down Sandwich

KFC started selling their Double Down Sandwiches in Canada in 2010 for a limited time.  They brought it back a couple times but it hasn't been here in three years.  They brought it back this month.

Gord and I have never had one so thought we'd finally try one today.  We both like KFC, though it can be hit and miss.

There are two versions ... the Zinger and the Scorcher.  The Zinger is less spicy so that's what I got ... and here it is.

There was a bit of heat in the chicken breading and sauce

To be honest, I'm not sure what the big whoop is all about.  It was messy and greasy ... and I won't be doing that again.

But I'm glad I finally tried it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bairrada Churrasqueira, Toronto, ON

This evening I was invited to an end of the summer patio party with Zomato at Bairrada Churrasqueira (at College Street/Dovercourt Road), which serves Portuguese cuisine.

We were greeted with pitchers of sangria.  Yum!

We were served a bit of everything ...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Book ~ "The Stuff That Never Happened" (2010) Maddie Dawson

From Goodreads ~ What if you were married to a wonderful husband for twenty-eight years but in love with another man? What if you were in love with them both?

Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table and a husband so devoted that he schedules lovemaking into his calendar every Wednesday morning. Other wives envy the fact that Grant is not the type of man who would ever cheat on her or leave her for a younger woman. The trouble is Annabelle isn’t sure she wants to be married to Grant anymore. The trouble is she’s still in love with someone else.

In the early tumultuous years of her marriage, Annabelle carried on a clandestine affair with the one person whose betrayal would hurt her husband the most. When it ended, she and Grant found their way back together and made a pact that they would never speak of that time again. But now years later, with her children grown and gone and an ominous distance opening between them, she can’t help but remember those glorious, passionate days and wonder if she chose the right man.

Then, when called to New York City to help care for her pregnant daughter, Annabelle bumps into her old lover. Offered a second chance at an unforgettable love, she must decide between the man who possesses her heart and the husband who has stood squarely by her side. 

It's 2005 and Annabelle and Grant have been married for almost 30 years.  Their oldest, Sophie, is married, pregnant and living in New York.  Their youngest, Nick, is away at university.  Annabelle is feeling a bit lost because she doesn't have her children to take care of and Grant is preoccupied with writing a book on a subject she has no interest in.

When Sophie is bedridden 'til the end of her pregnancy and her husband is away working, Annabelle jumps at the chance for a change of scenery to go back to New York where she'd lived when she and Grant first got married and take care of Sophie.

Annabelle tells us how she and Grant met and married in California in the late 1970s and moved to New York.  Needing a place to stay, they lived with his colleague, Jeremiah and his family for a couple years.  Being young and feeling neglected by her new husband, she spends too much time with Jeremiah and they begin an affair.  When the affair ends, she and Grant are able to pick up the pieces of their marriage and move on.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I thought it was interesting.  I liked the writing style.  It was written in first person perspective in Annabelle's voice ... it was if she was sitting with me and telling me her story.  It jumps back and forth from the present (ie 2005) to the past but it's obvious because the dates are at the beginning of the chapters.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I must say that I didn't really care for the characters.  It's been almost thirty years and though she has had no contact with him, Annabelle is still hung up on Jeremiah.  I was hoping it was more a feeling of "what could have been" but it wasn't ... she felt that she still loved him.  I found this unbelievable.  All Grant cared about was writing book.  How do you spent 30 years with someone and be that inconsiderate?  I didn't find Jeremiah charming or attractive ... he sounded like a user.  I know that Sophie was going through a hard time but I got tired of it always being about her.  Her mother had dropped her life to be with her and all she did was whine.  The only character I liked was Nick.  He was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and his parents weren't really open to listening.

Despite not liking the characters, I look forward to reading others by this author.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Craft Brasserie & Grille, Toronto, ON

After the Indie Boat Hop Craft Beer Cruise, we were hungry so Gord, Denyse, Kasie, Zeke and I had supper at The Craft Brasserie & Grille in Liberty Village (our 'hood).

The Indie Boat Hop Craft Beer Cruise, Empire Sandy, Toronto, ON

This afternoon Gord and I did the Indie Boat Hop Craft Beer Cruise ... we did it last year and had fun.

It was coordinated by the Indie Ale House Brewing Company and the Bar Hop.  It was on the Empire Sandy, a tall ship that was built as an Englishman/Larch Deep Sea class tugboat for war service by the British Government in 1943.

Tickets were $40 and included an Indie Boat Hop mug (which held eight ounces), a drink ticket and a three hour sail (from 1pm to 4pm).  Extra drink tickets were $4.50.

We had access to one-offs, collaboration brews and a few hard to find beers /ciders from eight breweries and one cidery (Amsterdam, Bellwoods, Clifford Brewing, Great Lakes, Indie Alehouse, Nickel Brook, Sawdust City, Stone City and West Avenue Cider).

Though it was crowded, once everyone got on board and got a drink, the line-ups were okay.

I enjoyed some West Avenue Heritage Dry Hard Cider.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Book ~ "Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" (2010) David Dosa

From Goodreads ~ A remarkable cat. A special gift. A life-changing journey. 

They thought he was just a cat. When Oscar arrived at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island, he was a cute little guy with attitude. He loved to stretch out in a puddle of sunlight and chase his tail until he was dizzy. Occasionally he consented to a scratch behind the ears but only when it suited him. In other words, he was a typical cat. Or so it seemed. 

It wasn't long before Oscar had created something of a stir. Apparently this ordinary cat possesses an extraordinary gift: he knows instinctively when the end of life is near. 

Oscar is a welcome distraction for the residents of Steere House, many of whom are living with Alzheimer's. But he never spends much time with them - until they are in their last hours. Then, as if this were his job, Oscar strides purposely into a patient's room, curls up on the bed, and begins his vigil. Oscar provides comfort and companionship when people need him most. And his presence lets caregivers and loved ones know that it's time to say good-bye. 

Oscar was born in 2005 and is a therapy cat at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, RI, a 41-bed unit which treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses, most of whom are in the end stage of life and are generally unaware of their surroundings.  Oscar appears able to predict the impending death of terminally ill patients.  When a patient is near death, Oscar jumps onto their bed and lays next to them until the end comes.

The author, Dr. David Dosa, is a geriatrician who isn't a fan of cats and is intrigued by Oscar.  He interviews the families of former patients to determine a pattern.

I was attracted to this book because it is about a cat.  While I liked the book, I found it was more about Dr. Dosa, his patients, his family, his ailments and a focus in dementia/Alzheimer's than about Oscar ... Oscar had a minor part in the book.   While it was an interesting book because I learned more about dementia and Alzheimer's, the cover and title lead me to believe it would be more focused on Oscar the cat actually making the rounds with the doctor.

I thought the writing style was okay until it came to dialogue, which was unnatural and stilted.  For example, every time Mary, who works at the centre, talked with Dr. Dosa, she'd say his name ... "David, you should talk with so-and-so ... David, there goes Oscar."  She didn't need to say his name EVERY time they spoke ... he was standing RIGHT THERE and he knew she was talking to him.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Levetto, Toronto, ON (Sudbury Street)

Gord and I had supper this evening at Levetto, which is in our 'hood (at Dovercourt/Queen W).  We tend to get take-out fairly often (once or twice a month) from them.

I got what I always get ... a mild Soppresata pizza.  As usual, it was delicious!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Nobilo Wines, iYellow Wine Club, Toronto, ON

My pal and colleague, Larissa, is a member of iYellow Wine Club.  They were having an event this evening and Larissa invited me as her guest.  Thanks, Larissa!

iYellow is a social club of 15,000+ members who taste, learn and meet together and have been doing it since 2006. As a member, you will get invited to an exclusive VIP experience in the iYellow Wine Cave, get wine bottles signed by talented Winemakers and join us to taste 100s of wines from all over the world! Along the way you’ll build your wine confidence, meet new friends and over time become a real wine expert. 

Our awesome team of iYellow Wine Ambassadors help to build and keep this community running with over 100 classes, tours and events a year and we do it all so that our members have a place to taste, learn and meet together. Maybe you should earn your wine diploma at iYellow Wine School or join us for a tour to Prince Edward County, Niagara and even Tuscany! We look forward to sipping wine with you soon! 

Let's go in!

They have a really cool space off Queen Street W.

Burrito Bandidos, Hamilton, ON

I had an enrolment seminar to conduct in Hamilton today. I had lunch beforehand at Burrito Bandidos on King Street W.  I discovered Burrito Bandidos in April and had a delicious burrito then.

I ordered what I always order when I get a burrito ... a large chicken burrito.    I love burritos and this one was delicious!  It was soooooooo jammed with tomatoes, beans, rice, chicken, cheese, salsa and burrito sauce.

 I couldn't even finish half of it so I wrapped it up and will have it for lunch tomorrow.

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