Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Cactus Club Cafe, Toronto, ON

I had lunch today at the Cactus Club Cafe in First Canadian Place.

It was a busy spot and I was seated on "The Deck", on the third floor,
which is covered and heated

I ordered Rob's Crispy Chicken Sandwich (with no cheese, lettuce or onions).  It was a good sandwich.  The bun was really soft.  I didn't find the sandwich overly spicy but it was messy (thank goodness for the large napkin!).  The fries were good too.  I'd get this again.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Book ~ "The Moscow Code" (2017) Nick Wilkshire

From Goodreads ~ Ottawa bureaucrat–turned-diplomat Charlie Hillier is back. Having barely survived his first posting in Havana, Charlie is eager to put what he learned there to good use. And it isn’t long before he's thrust into a fresh case - a technical writer from Toronto in a Moscow jail on dubious drug charges. Charlie has barely put a dent in the brick wall that is the Russian legal system when the jailed man turns up dead, the official explanation: suicide. And just when evidence to the contrary is discovered, the body is “accidentally” cremated by the authorities.

Undeterred by bureaucratic stonewalling and determined to help the victim’s sister get to the bottom of her brother’s death, Charlie follows the sparse clues available. But what he uncovers brings them both far too close to powers more dangerous than they could have imagined. Suddenly, getting at the truth is less important than getting out of Russia in one piece. 

Charlie is middle-aged, divorced and working with Foreign Affairs, reporting to headquarters in Ottawa.  He recently transferred from a posting in Havana to Moscow.  He meets Steve, a fellow Canadian who is a technical writer working in Moscow.  Steve has been in jail after being picked up at a party ... he was apparently the only foreigner there without a passport. 

As Charlie works to help him, Steve is found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide.  Charlie breaks the news to Sophie, Steve's sister, who travels from Toronto to Moscow take her brother's body home.  The body, though, ends up being accidentally cremated after Sophie identifies it.  Sophie is a doctor and sees some signs to make her suspect that Steve's death wasn't a suicide after all.  She looks to Charlie for help to find out what really happened.

This is the second and latest in the A Foreign Affairs Mystery series (I read the first one last year) and the second book I've read by this author.  It is written in third person perspective, from Charlie's point of view.  For the most part, I liked the story and characters,  I found it confusing at times, though, and had a hard time keeping the Russian characters straight (who they were, what they did and how it pertained to the story).  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I look forward to reading more in this series.

Johnny's Maples Pizza & Restaurant, Winnipeg, MB

I had lunch today at Johnny's Maples Pizza & Restaurant.  It was near by client's office and I love love love pizza.

I ordered a small meat lovers pizza and a Diet Pepsi.  The crust looked substantial but it was surprisingly light and tasty.  The sauce seemed to have the ground beef mixed in.  It was a good size for a small and I couldn't eat it all.  I would have taken the leftovers with me but I was flying home today and I wasn't sure how well it would travel.

The servers were friendly.

Johnny's Maples Pizza & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boccone Trattoria Veloce, Mississauga, ON

I flew to Winnipeg this morning and had breakfast at Boccone Trattoria Veloce before my flight.  I usually go there for lunch as they make delicious pizzas when I'm at the airport.  Today I was too early for the lunch menu.  I'd had breakfast there a couple weeks ago and it wasn't a great experience (everything was cold).  Despite saying I'd never go back for breakfast, I thought I'd give it another chance.

I ordered what I ordered the last time ... bacon and eggs and a large milk.  The potatoes and eggs were warm.  The bacon and toast were cold.  Like the last time, I didn't have time to send it back and to be honest, I couldn't be bothered.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Book ~ "Copycat" (2017) Alex Lake

From Goodreads ~ Sarah Havenant discovers – when an old friend points it out – that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now – almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile – that her problems really start.

Sarah is a doctor and her husband, Ben, is a lawyer.  They are happily married with three children.  Sarah discovers one day that she has two Facebook profiles, one is hers and one is a fake.  The fake one looks so real as it has pictures of her and her family and friends and true updates.  After Sarah discovers the Facebook profile, strange things start to happen to her that makes her family and friends start to question her sanity.  Is Sarah going crazy or is someone out to get her and if so, why?

I thought this story was just okay ... it started out well but then fell flat for me towards the end.  When the "whodunnit" was revealed, I wasn't surprised at the "who" but I thought the "why" was ridiculous and wasn't buying it.  I thought the "who" and "why" could have been so much better and believable.  The story wrapped up very quickly with someone suddenly figuring out the "whodunnit" within seconds.

The writing is in third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action is.  As a head's up, there is swearing, adult activity and violence.  Though the story is set in the U.S., it was obvious the author is English because of their use of terms for things ... a North American wouldn't refer to sleeping in as a "lie-in" and wouldn't say "erm" instead of "um.  As such, it could have been edited better for a North American market considering Sarah is supposed to be an American.  Plus there was a point where the author got her characters mixed up ... Sarah was having a conversation with someone but the wrong name was written.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I'll check out other books they've written.

The Trinity Bellwoods Flea - Christmas Is Coming Market, The Great Hall, Toronto, ON

This morning I checked out the Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market at The Great Hall (at Queen Street W/Dovercourt Road), in our 'hood.

Time to start thinking about all those special people on your holiday shopping list and get the jump before it gets on top of you! We have made finding that one of a kind gifts easier than ever before. We have a curated a list of 50 vendors under one roof at the historic Great Hall (Lower Hall). Taking the hard work out of holiday shopping. Join us Nov 19th 10am-6pm for a day shopping, drinks, local food and music. So whoever you are shopping for you can be sure that perfect something for that special someone can be found at The Trinity Bellwoods Flea. As always admission is FREE and four-legged friends welcome.

As always, there was much to tempt ... food, plants, clothing, jewelry, candles, food and lots more!

Looking down from the upper level ...

I headed downstairs ...

Great spot to find those one-of-a-kind gifts!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Craft Brasserie & Grille, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at The Craft Brasserie & Grille in Liberty Village.

Gord ordered the Cashew Chicken Bowl.  He said it was good and he'd get it again.

I ordered Buffalo Chicken Sliders (minus lettuce) and Garlic Fries.  I've had them before and they were good.

Book ~ "H is for Homicide" (1991) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ H IS FOR HUSTLER

When PI Kinsey Millhone's good friend and colleague, Parnell Perkins, is found murdered in the parking lot behind California Fidelity Insurance, she can't believe he had any enemies. The only clue that raises a red flag for Kinsey is one of Parnell's files on a Bibianna Diaz, who appears to have made a lucrative career out of scamming insurance companies with phony claims.


Taking an alias, Kinsey goes undercover to befriend Bibianna, hoping she'll get close enough to catch the con artist at her own game. But Kinsey never dreams that hanging out with Bibianna will get them both thrown in jail. And when they're released, Bibianna's very jealous, very dangerous ex-fiancé, Raymond Maldonado, is waiting for them.


Kinsey soon discovers the short-tempered thug is the kingpin behind Bibianna's and countless other phony insurance claims. But was Raymond also responsible for Parnell's death? All Kinsey knows is that she'll have to think quick to nab one of the most treacherous criminals she's come face to face with - and keep herself alive.

Kinsey Millhone is a private detective in Santa Teresa, CA, and is in her thirties.  She does occasional freelance work for an insurance company in return for office space.  She is working on the claim file of a woman named Bibianna for possible car insurance fraud.  To get close to Bibianna, Kinsey pretends to be Hannah Moore. 

Bibianna has an ex-boyfriend named Raymond, who wants her back in Los Angeles ... bad enough that he sends his brother to bring her to get her.  It doesn't work out as Raymond planned and Kinsey ends up getting arrested with Bibianna to stay close to her.  There she's approached by the police to go undercover to get more information on Raymond, who they suspect is the head of huge car insurance fraud ring.  When they are released from jail, Raymond is there and, against their will, takes them back to Los Angeles.

I wasn't crazy about this story.  I found it hard to believe that Kinsey would risk her life and allow herself to be basically kidnapped for about a week by a psycho like Raymond.  Though watched, she did have opportunities to leave and/or contact the police but she hung on to get evidence on Raymond.

The story is written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice.  I didn't find many of the characters likable and since she was out of town for this book, I missed Henry and Rosie.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

This is the eighth in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  Since the series will soon come to an end (I finished the latest, Y is for Yesterday, last month), I am starting at the beginning and rereading them.  They are all set in the 1980s before everyone had a computer, cell phone, people still smoke in public places, etc.  Raymond did have a "car phone", though.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Book ~ "The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome" (2012) Scott Stratten

From Goodreads ~ UnAwesome is UnAcceptable. "The Book of Business Awesome" is designed as two short books put together - one read from the front and the other read from the back when flipped over. 

Covering key business concepts related to marketing, branding, human resources, public relations, social media, and customer service, "The Book of Business Awesome" includes case studies of successful businesses that gained exposure through being awesome and effective. This book provides actionable tools enabling readers to apply the concepts immediately to their own businesses. 

The flip side of the book, "The Book of Business UnAwesome," shares the train-wreck stories of unsuccessful businesses and showcases what not to do.

Ensure that your business remains awesome, instead of unawesome, and apply these awesomely effective strategies to your business today. 

This is actually two books in one:
  1. The Book of Business Awesome - How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive
  2. The Book of Business UnAwesome - The Cost of Not Listening, Engaging or Being Great at What You Do

The Book of Business Awesome

According to Scott, to be awesome in business, you can't mandate being awesome and you can't demand it.  You have to hire awesome.  You have to inspire awesome in others and you have to be your awesome self.  Loyalty is building through amazing experiences.  It is the front line who have the first and most important contact with customers but they are often the lowest paid and least appreciated.  This book looks at how the impact of a company's brand lies with every area in a business (marketing, HR, PR, etc.) and how to build relationships.  There are many examples of how businesses have gone above and beyond in creating excellent customer experiences regardless of the role of the employee in the company.  As an educator/trainer, I found the tips for speakers interesting and helpful.

The Book of Business UnAwesome

The book focuses on how to be unawesome ... wasting time and money rather than focusing on your employees, ignoring and/or being rude to customers, making things difficult for customers, inappropriate and/or not well-thought out social media messages, etc.  Throughout this book, there are examples of hall of shamers.

I liked the writing style of the two books.  It is conversational, casual and amusing.  I think Scott would be a fun guy to sit down and talk with.  I read this book on my iPad and there are lots of links which I found myself going to as I was reading to learn more about the experiences Scott talked about.

I look forward to reading his other books and hope sometime to see one of his keynotes.

Topbox - November 2017

My November Topbox arrived today.

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 I received ...

Total value = $28.48 value

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Ipsy Glam Bag - November 2017

My November Ipsy Glam Bag arrived today.
  • 4 to 5 beauty products in a collectible makeup bag 
  • Monthly videos showing you how to get the Look 
  • Win free products in contests and giveaways

Subscriptions are $10US a month or $110US for a year.  Shipping is free in the U.S. and $4.95US per month to Canada.

Here's what I received ...

Total value: $49.23US (without the make-up bag)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Book ~ "Crying for the Moon: A Novel" (2017) Mary Walsh

From Goodreads ~ Raised on tough love in St. John’s, Maureen is the second-youngest daughter of a bitter and angry mother and a beaten-down father who tells the best stories (but only when he’s drunk). If life at home is difficult, then school is torture, with the nuns watching every move she makes. But Maureen wants a bigger life. She wants to go to sexy, exciting Montreal and be part of Expo 67, even if it means faking her way into the school choir.

Finally achieving her goal of reaching Montreal, Maureen escapes the vigilant eye of Sister Imobilis and sneaks away, and over the course of a few hours, one humiliating encounter with a young Leonard Cohen and a series of breathtakingly bad decisions change the course of her life forever.

It's July 1967 and Maureen is a teenager living in St. John's, Newfoundland.  Expo '67 was held in Montreal and in the July of that year, Maureen manages to weasel her way onto the local choir because they were heading to Montreal to perform.  In Montreal, she and her friend, Carleen, are able to escape the nuns and party.  Carleen decides to stay in Montreal with a sleazebag she'd just met and Maureen heads back to Newfoundland.  Once home, she discovers she is pregnant, a situation her dominating mother (aka Sarge) takes care of.

Shortly thereafter Maureen is living with Bo.  Bo is abusive and is always viciously beating her up, whether they are sober or drunk.  He is eventually found dead and the police, knowing Bo and Maureen's history, look at her as the suspect.

I had high hopes when I started this book but it just kept getting more and more dreary and boring as it went on.  The writing could have been tighter so therefore the story shorter.  I felt there was a lot of information, details and rambling that wasn't needed.  I gave up when I got about three-quarters of the way in and skimmed to the end.  As a head's up, there is swearing, adult activity and violence.  I'm originally from Nova Scotia so it was fun to read the lingo that I haven't heard in years.

I didn't find any of the characters likable.  I couldn't find any sympathy for Maureen and the predicaments she had gotten herself into.  Growing up, her home life wasn't the best but she didn't do anything to better herself and rise above it when she got to be an adult.  She continued to wallow in it and let her upbringing beat her down.  I found it ridiculous that Maureen, who wasn't overly bright or motivated, would put herself in danger trying to find out who was responsible for Bo's death.  Her parents were awful and it was sad and unnecessary that a "retarded" older sister who her mother abused was part of the story.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Book ~ "F is for Fugitive" (1989) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ When Kinsey Millhone first arrives in Floral Beach, California, it’s hard for her to picture the idyllic coastal town as the setting of a brutal murder. Seventeen years ago, the body of Jean Timberlake - a troubled teen who had a reputation with the boys - was found on the beach. Her boyfriend, Bailey Fowler, was convicted of her murder and imprisoned, but he escaped.

After all this time, Bailey’s finally been captured. Believing in his son’s innocence, Bailey’s father wants Kinsey to find Jean’s real killer. But most of the residents in this tight-knit community are convinced Bailey strangled Jean. So why are they so reluctant to answer Kinsey’s questions? If there’s one thing Kinsey’s got plenty of it’s persistence. And that’s exactly what it’s going to take to crack the lid on this case.

As Kinsey gets closer to solving Jean’s murder, the more dirty little secrets she uncovers in a town where everyone has something to hide - and a killer will kill again to keep the past buried.

Kinsey Millhone is a private detective in Santa Teresa, CA, and is in her thirties.  She has been hired by Royce Fowler, whose son, Bailey, was arrested 17 years ago for murdering his teenage girlfriend, Jean.  Bailey had escaped from prison shortly thereafter and had been recently found.  Royce, who is dying of cancer, wants Kinsey to find out who the real killer is so Bailey can be released.

As Kinsey begins to investigate, she discovers that Jean had been promiscuous so there are many who could have killed her.  Everyone in the town, though, has no doubt that Bailey killed her except his family.

I thought this book was okay.  I liked the writing style.  It is written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice.  I didn't find many of the characters likable and since she was out of town for this book, I missed Henry and Rosie.  I was okay with the "whodunnit".  As a head's up, there is swearing.

This is the sixth in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  Since the series will soon come to an end (I finished the latest, Y is for Yesterday, a couple weeks ago), I am starting at the beginning and rereading them.  They are all set in the 1980s before everyone had a computer, cell phone, people still smoke in public places, etc.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

MJ Byrne’s Irish Pub, Blue Mountains, ON

Gord and I had lunch today at MJ Byrne's.

Mosaic, Blue Mountains, ON

Gord and I spent the weekend at Mosaic in Blue Mountain Village.

There was a fitness room along with outdoor heated pool and hot tub (which are open from 7am to 11pm).  The pools were the reason we stayed here and we checked them out Friday night and yesterday afternoon.  Though heated, the pool was too chilly for us but kids didn't seem to mind.  The hot tub was hot hot hot!  There were bathrobes in our suite so we could wear them to the pools.  There are towels in the fitness room to use at the pools.

We had a one bedroom suite with a fireplace.