Friday, 31 May 2019

Book ~ "Dead as a Door Knocker" (2019) Diane Kelly

From Goodreads ~ Meet Whitney Whitaker. A hopeless romantic when it comes to real estate, she knows what it takes to find - and flip - the home of one's dreams. A fixer-upper is like catnip to Whitney: she can't resist the challenge of turning an eyesore into a priceless work of art. So when one of her clients decides to liquidate a crumbling property, Whitney seizes the opportunity to purchase it for a song. But soon a curious incident of the cat in the night-time leads to a change in tune.

Sawdust is the name of Whitney's cat, of course. Whitney's passion for gut-renovation may be a mystery to him but one thing Sawdust knows for sure is this: Dead bodies don't belong in flower beds. So why is there one in this new, albeit old, house? Now it's up to Whitney, along with the help of hot-and-cold Nashville Police Detective Collin Flynn, to find the truth about what happened before the mortgage property forecloses and Whitney loses her investment ... and maybe her own life.

Whitney works for a property manager, in addition to working part-time with her uncle's construction company.  This helps because as a property manager because she's able to fix things for free or cheaply at the properties she manages.  She's currently living in a renovated shed in her parents' backyard to save money.  One of her clients offers to sell her one of his properties ... it needs a lot of repairs because the former tenants trashed the place.  This is Whitney's dream so and her construction worker cousin, Buck, agree to buy the house ... they'll fix it up and flip it.  No problem, right?

But then there is a fire that destroys part of the house.  And someone is found dead, buried in the flower bed and Whitney is a suspect.  And the neighbour next door is a busybody who won't tolerate any noise or disturbance.

I liked the writing style ... it was amusing at times.  It is written in first person perspective from Whitney's point of view and third person perspective from Sawdust's point of view (which is funny since it's written from the perspective of a cat).

I liked Whitney ... she's young and ambitious.  I liked other "likable" characters like Buck, Colette, Whitney's best friend, and Detective Flynn.

I've read many books by this author and I liked this one.  It's the first in the new House-Flipper series (this is the author's third series and I've read them all).

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Book ~ "Field Notes: A City Girl's Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia" (2016) Sara Jewell

From Goodreads ~ “When my husband told me he didn’t want to be married any longer, I didn’t call a lawyer, talk to my minister, or even tell my best friend. My first thought - and only plan - was go to Pugwash.”

So begins Sara Jewell’s tender and heartfelt collection of essays. After a childhood of idyllic summers on Canada’s east coast, Sara knew the only place she could begin to rebuild her life - to find her heart and home - was amid the salty air and red dirt roads of Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.

Part humorous observation and part honest self-reflection, Sara deftly explores the people, creatures, landscapes, and experiences that make her life in rural Nova Scotia so different from the big-city one she’d grown accustomed to.

They say you can never go back. But they are wrong.

Sara Jewell was born in Toronto and raised in Cobourg and Trenton, ON.  During the summers when she was growing up, she spent time vacationing in rural Nova Scotia with her family.  She's had various jobs over the years including as an educator, in radio and as an essayist. 

When her first marriage broke up, she was living in Vancouver, BC ... she packed up her stuff (including her dog) and headed east to Ontario to be with her parents and spent some time in Pugwash, NS.  She met and married met Dwayne, a "country boy", moving to his farm.  This book is a collection of her essays about living there.

The topics cover her friends, family, neighbours, local wildlife, farm animals, pets, living in the country and more.  Keep in mind that they were written by a "city" girl now living in the country.  I'm the opposite of Sara ... I'm originally from Nova Scotia and have been away for 30+ years.  So in some ways, I could relate (but in reverse perhaps at times?) to some of her stories. 

I enjoyed this book.  I liked the writing style and found it conversational.  As a head's up, there is some minor swearing.  My favourite story was The Rural Wavelength, which was about the "behavior genetically implanted" in Nova Scotians because they wave at everyone ... she surmises that waving must be how Maritimers got their reputation for being so friendly.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

2019 Ontario Terry Fox Organizers Workshop, Toronto, ON

I've done (walked briskly!) the Terry Fox Run in Liberty Village (near my 'hood) the last two years ... last year I was also an organizer/volunteer and will be again this year.

Every year the Terry Fox Foundation organizes is a day long workshop for organizers/volunteers in Ontario.  My friend and neighbour, Dawn, has been volunteering for the run since the run started in Liberty Village and she and I went together today.

It was held at the Four Seasons head office ... Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of the Four Seasons, helped started the Terry Fox Run and donates the space for the workshop.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Book ~ "Freefall" (2019) Jessica Barry

From Goodreads ~ When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body - giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now - not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from - and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Ben, the wealthy CEO of a pharmaceutical company, is flying his small plane home to San Diego from Chicago with his fiancée, Allison.  The plane crashes in the Rockies ... Ben is dead and Allison survives, though she is pretty banged up.  Allison has knowledge of something that she will probably be killed for so she knows she has to getting moving before anyone finds her.

Back home in Maine, Maggie, Allison's mother, is notified of the crash and that her daughter is presumed dead and her body must have been burnt in the wreckage.  Maggie won't truly be convinced of Allison's death until her body is found.  She and Allison had been estranged for the last two years so Maggie doesn't know anything about her current life, including being engaged to and living with Ben.

I thought this had an interesting writing style and it worked for me.  It's written in two voices ... Allison's and Maggie's, with the chapters alternating (they are labeled) ... both are written in first person perspective.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Allison's story begins with the crash and her journey to get down the mountain to safety.  In addition, there are flashbacks to her life in San Diego so we get to know how she ended up engaged to Ben and in the plane.  Maggie's story begins when she learns from her long-time friend, Jim, who is a police officer about Allison's crash.  She then sets out to learn all she can about Allison's new life.

I liked the story.  It was a bit farfetched at times but I went with it ... like when Allison bought a car without having any ID or when someone gives Allison a drive into a town and puts her up in a hotel room, despite her being bloody, dirty and smelly.

And I found it odd that Allison, when she thought her mother was danger, drove thousands of miles home to Maine rather than calling, Jim, the family friend who is a police officer who lives practically next door to Maggie. 

I found it a bit naïve on the author's part to assume that almost everyone who is OLD like Maggie (she was only about sixty!) wouldn't know how to navigate a computer and the Internet.  Really!?

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Ipsy Glam Bag - May 2019

My May 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 ...

  • Make-up bag
  • LA CHATELAINE Coconut Milk Hand Cream - $4.50 value
  • ORYZA Nude Shimmer & Contour Eyeshadow - $27.99 value
  • PAPA RECIPE Eggplant Clearing 5.5 Cleansing Foam - $1.88 value
  • F.A.R.A.H. BRUSHES 22E Shade & Blend - $22 value
  • PIXI BY PETRA Endless Silky Eye Pen (RoseGlow) - $12 value

  • $68.37US value

    Sunday, 19 May 2019

    Martin Goodman Trail, Toronto, ON

    I went for a long walk this afternoon.  It was the reverse of what I did last Saturday ... I walked west along Queen Street W, and followed the Martin Goodman Trail east to Coronation Park (Lakeshore Blvd./Strachan Avenue) and then headed home.

    It was a great day for a walk ... the sun was out for most of the time and it was a bit chilly along the water at times.

    I crossed over the bridge that connects Queen Street W/King Street W/Roncesvalles Avenue to the lake at Palais Royale.

    Budapest Park

     Marilyn Bell Park

    Saturday, 18 May 2019

    Americas Rugby League Nines Championship, Lamport Stadium, Toronto, ON

    Today Canada hosted three fellow Americas teams at the inaugural Americas Nines Championship  at Lamport Stadium (a couple blocks from home) ... apparently it will take place every two years beginning this year.  The tournament featured the Canada Wolverines, USA Hawks, Latin Heat and the Reggae Warriors men's national teams battling for the title of Americas Rugby League Nines Champions.  There was also a women's competition with Canada, Ontario and Jamaica.

    Including the men's consolation final and men's final matches, there were 11 matches.  Each match had two nine-minute halves and each team had nine players on the field ... hence the name (nines).  The first match started at 12:30pm and the last one finished about 6:30pm ... and Gord and I were there for them all!  It was a fun day!

    It would have been nice, though, if the games could have been announced rather than just having the teams take the field and play and having to figure out who was the "home" team.

    Gord and I have season tickets for the Toronto Wolfpack so our tickets for today were complimentary (otherwise they were only $10).

    Here were the prizes.

    Women's on the left and men's on the right

    Men - Canada 24 ~ Jamaica 6

    Friday, 17 May 2019

    "Bella Donna", Taragon Theatre, Toronto, ON

    Gord and I saw Bella Donna at the Tarragon Theatre ... this evening was the opening night and it runs to June 1.  Our pal, Dewey Stewart, is in it and plays Giovanni (he looks fabulous in a gown and sneakers!).

    "Bella Donna" invites audiences into the world of intrigue, politics, sex, and power, all controlled by one of history’s most powerful and misunderstood women: Lucrezia Borgia.

    While Pope Julius II excommunicates Lucrezia Borgia (alleged daughter of his predecessor, Alexander VI) and her husband, Duke Alfonso D'Este of Ferrara, Alfonso dallies with his young mistress, Angela DiGhilini. Disguised, Lucrezia goes to seek a secret audience with the Pope. There she meets Giovanni, a young soldier, who doesn’t realize who Lucrezia is and may be evidence of a guilty secret even more devastating to Lucrezia. Sister Bibiana, Lucrezia’s confidante, arranges for Giovanni to come to Ferrara, where he is adroitly poisoned by Alfonso. As the evidence mounts, so do the dramatic stakes.

    Our contemporized production of Bella Donna is directed by the Gina Wilkinson award-winning emerging female director, Anita La Selva, and stars Françoise Balthazar, Martha Chaves, Michael Giordano, Paul Hopkins, Chelsea Russell, and Dewey Stewart. Are you ready to be seduced?

    It's a story from the early 1500s that has been modernized.  It was funny and all the actors did a great job in their roles.  The stage is minimal with props being carried in and out by the actors during the scenes.

    Because it was opening night, there was a reception afterwards.

    Chadwick's Craft Kitchen & Bar, Toronto, ON

    Gord and I had supper this evening at Chadwick's Craft Kitchen & Bar (on Howland Avenue at Dupont Street).  It's a cute spot.

    Thursday, 16 May 2019

    Sunday, 12 May 2019

    Book ~ "Challenge Accepted!"(2018) Celeste Barber

    From Goodreads ~ From funny woman, Instagram star, and international comedy sensation, Celeste Barber’s "Challenge Accepted!" is a raucous, hilarious and outspoken guide to life, unwanted gas and how to rock a sexy scar. 

    Part memoir, part comedy routine, part advice manual, "Challenge Accepted!" is Celeste at her best, revealing her secrets to love, friendship, family and marriage (#hothusband), and how to deal with life’s many challenges - why she checks the bath for sharks, how Nutella quite literally shaped who she is as a woman, and why being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly. It’s real, like totally, really real.

    I came across Celeste Barber's Instagram page last year and started following her.  I thought her parodies of pictures were a hoot and I liked her humour.  To be honest, other than that, I didn't know who she was.

    I saw that she is touring and will be in Toronto in a couple months so I bought tickets.  If she is as funny in person as with her pictures, I figured it would be fun (looking forward to it!).

    When I came across her book, I was interested because I assumed it would be funny ... and it was.  Plus as I enjoy reading bios/autobios, it was a chance for me to learn more about her.

    Celeste is an Australian actress, former dancer, writer and comedian. She is married to Api (#hothusband) and they have two children.

    The book is full of stories about Celeste and her family ... including being bullied in school when she was young, dancing, friends that have passed away that she still holds dear, meeting and falling in love with her husband, having open heart surgery when she was 25, how she got in trouble at yoga, why she started her Instagram account and more.  She feels that Friends is the "greatest show in the whole wide world" so each story title starts with "The One ...".

    I liked the writing style and her humour definitely came through.  As a head's up, she swears ... a lot (there are lots of F-bombs).  Though the manner of her storytelling is amusing, her stories have a serious tone ... for example, about bulling and body image.  I appreciated her honesty in discussing some difficult topics.

    Saturday, 11 May 2019

    Martin Goodman Trail, Toronto, ON

    I went for a long walk this morning.  I headed towards Coronation Park (Lakeshore Blvd./Strachan Avenue) and followed the Martin Goodman Trail west.

    It was a great day for a walk ... sunny most of the time and just a bit of coolness in the air.

    Coronation Park

    Trillium Park

    Toronto Flower Market, Toronto, ON

    Today is the first day of the seasonal Toronto Flower Market.  It's held from 10am to 3pm on the northeast corner  (Queen Street W/Shaw Street) of CAMH (1001 Queen Street W).

    Toronto Flower Market celebrates and supports Ontario grown flowers & plants, connecting growers and florists directly with the city. Together, we raise awareness about flower varieties grown locally in fields and greenhouses while cultivating a passionate local flower community. 

    Founded in May 2013, Toronto Flower Market created the city’s first outdoor flower market. The market season runs monthly from May through October, with special collaborations sprouting up throughout the year. 

    Natasa Kajganic was inspired to create Toronto Flower Market after a visit to London’s Columbia Road. A vision of stalls bursting with fresh blooms in Toronto’s public spaces was planted in her mind and has kept growing ever since.

    I'd never been before so I popped in while on my walk to check it out.  I was a bit early as there were some vendors still setting up.

    It smelled amazing and was so colourful!  There was lots of variety depending on what you are looking for.