Monday, December 23, 2013

Yah mon - Jamaica!

Just got back from the Gem of the Caribbean - into one of the worst ice storms in GTA history! When we left last Saturday we were the last flight out for the day...what a difference arriving in this beautiful sunny place, able to stroll down to the beach, immerse ourselves in warm water and enjoy tropical drink concoctions as well as be surrounded by vegetation that usually grows only as houseplants where we are.

So nice to listen to the lovely Jamaican accents - even though when they speak patois I feel like I am listening to a foreign language!

The company Fraser works for - Levitt Safety was having a sales conference - so it was partly work for many people, but not the spouses or other guests. I enjoyed relaxing in the shade, doing a few yoga classes - the instructor was from Toronto on a working vacation - and a couple of bike rides outside the compound.

Secrets Wild Orchid/St. James is a lovely resort in Montego Bay - we had lots to eat - no worries for the vegheads - there were also local specialties like calaloo and rice and peas and delicious fruits like mango, papaya (which we saw growing our on day trip) and a first for us - soursop - creamy, custardy and a taste like a flowery pineapple. The Blue Mountain restaurant on the complex even had a tofu dish - however, we did have to explain ourselves a few times at dinner at the French, Italian and Mexican restaurants. The chef came out to talk to us at Portofino - and we had such a lovely meal the first time - we went back there on our last night. Our French meal was also lovely. Strangely we had to go back to the Mexican place to be more specific as our first dinner there was an Asian stir fry!? The next time we had tortillas and veggies, beans and guacamole. Our Asian dinner was also delicious - spring rolls, miso soup and a stir fry with rice. Our waitress there was super - wish I remembered her name!

There were all kinds of on site activities like cooking and speaking Jamaican, crafts like painting a t-shirt or painting, hat weaving, making jewellery, "name that tune" and at night lots of great musical entertainment.

We did a few off site excursions - including a visit to Rose Hall - home of the infamous "White Witch"

Rose Hall, the estate house of a former sugar plantation, in Jamaica inspires new "White Witch" film.

Annie Palmer - which may or may not be true - she could be a amalgamation of the owner's first wife, Ros- who was supposedly virtuous but nevetheless buried FOUR husbands..hmmmm...Annie apparently had 3 husbands - the first lasting 7 years, the second 2 and the third 6 months as well as numerous slave lovers. She also was good at hiding the evidence of murder, having slaves go far out on the property to bury the bodies, then have her overseer kill them as "runaways". It is a cool and spooky place at night - that's for sure. Annie was orphaned at a young age and was brought up in Haiti where her nanny - a Voodoo priestess taught her everything she knew. There is also graphic description of slave punishment and talk of haunting...wooooo. It certainly gave the six of us on the tour a few frights - dim lighting, full moon and people jumping out at us..yikes.

 This fellow was walking around on stilts at the resort and selling Jamaican flags...


These are some photos I took from the van when a few ladies went on a shopping excursion into Montego Bay...

All ready for Christmas...

From one of my bike tours...that's our wonderful guide on the end!
Me and one of the many crocodiles on the Black River
On one of our last days we took a trip - or the world's longest amusement park ride as Fraser said to Black River and YS Falls - the road was verrrry bumpy and winding with extra large potholes. We were getting a "butt massage" as our guide Desrine said..LOL. We had an amazing driver - Michael. Thanks to Helen of Air Canada Vacations for telling us about and booking these little getaways!

Our new friends from the Edmonton office - Dean and Charlaine

Don't try this at home kids...our guide would "call" to the crocs, pet them, shake their paws and here he is tickling one under the chin!

A few more photos of the Black River..

YS Falls...gorgeous!

Fraser having a dip...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fundraising time

Photo.jpgJust a quick reminder - it's fundraising time at Jazz FM -that 's photo of me yesterday during my shift in the Long and McQuade Performance space area.

1-800-811-2400 or go online at We need you and appreciate your you get wonderful thank you gifts, giveaways and a chance at many wonderful prizes!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Long Island Medium sighting!


Yes, Theresa Caputo - the Long Island Medium of TLC fame was at the Chapters Indigo store at Eatons Centre yesterday. Yours truly stood in line for about an hour and a half - along with numerous others to get the opportunity to say hello and get our books signed. I can tell you she is very much like what you see on TV. Warm, friendly, genuine. I love her!

One of the kind Chapters staff members took the photos with my iphone.

Her book is called "There's More to Life Than This".

If you haven't seen the show it's a hoot - what's the madda wid you? Her husband Larry was equally popular at the signing getting many shout outs "Hey Larry!!!" and photos taken with fans.

It's nice to see someone so sweet and gracious under what must be a somewhat exhausting experience. She was gushing over a very cute baby girl ahead of me in line. The baby was very well behaved. I have had experiences at other signings where the author, also a psychic was less than enthusiastic.

Here are a couple of photos from my Cape Breton excursion  - I wrote more about it on my other blog "Beginning to Blossom" as I haven't been filling the pages here these days with much jazz related scribblings.

IMG_1259.jpgTaken at the Celtic Lodge at Ingonish. We were a little disappointed to find out they weren't serving tea and oatcakes..

The spectacular Cabot Trail - a little wild and windy..

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mary Coin and A Beautiful Truth

Just finished this amazing novel which examines the (fictionalized) lives of subject and photographer of this iconic Depression era photograph taken by real life photographer Dorothea Lange. It was riveting - I couldn't put it down and that says something to me as a reader. It travels from turn of the century Oklahoma to modern day California - to the modern day descendent of this migrant mother.

The second book is equally riveting. Colin McAdam's "A Beautiful Truth" tells the heart wrenching story of Walter and Judy Ripke,a childless couple who decides to fill their void by acquiring a chimpanzee - with tragic results. Paralleling their story is the saga of the lives of captive chimpanzees at a research facility in Florida - partly told through their unique voices. Utterly compelling, disturbing and poignant.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Krazy for Kiwi

I was contacted by Eva a rep from the Zespri Organic Kiwifruit people to extoll the virtutes of that fuzzy brown fruit with the juicy emerald centre. As we are coming into the fall and winter months we still need our fruit - that's where this little power packed gem comes in - I especially like the non fuzzy ones with a more golden centre - you can eat the whole thing!
apple banana kiwifruit image.png

Below are some nutrition facts courtesy of Zespri:

One serving of Zespri Organic Kiwifruit has more vitamin C than an orange, more potassium than a banana, is packed with iron, and has a naturally occurring enzyme called Actinidin, which aids in good digestion. Zespri Organic Kiwifruit comes from a grower-owned network in New Zealand, where it takes over three years to prepare the soil and orchards to become certified organic. Zespri also uses 100% recycled packaging.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Raw, Quick and Delicious

Doug McNish does it again! Another wonderful raw food "cookbook" - this time super fast and easy - not to mention of course, delicious!

Above is the Spaghetti and Seed Balls - raw zucchini noodles, a marinara sauce and sunflower seed based "meatballs". A scrumptious late summer treat as we are having a steady harvest of zucchini!

To the right are the incredibly rich tasting Almond Bliss Balls and so aptly named - you will be in a state of bliss after eating them. I added my own touch my rolling a few in cocoa powder. I did find the seed ball mix a little crumbly - maybe not blending the seeds as much as I needed or using a not smooth enough almond butter..I confess I added a little water to hold them together.

So far, these are the two I have tried - would love to try out his Red Velvet Smoothie, one of the many juices - a Citrus Pineapple Carrot  or Apple, Blueberry and Cabbage  - how's that for a flavour combination? There are lovely looking salads of course Lemony Wilted Kale and Beet, Watermelon and Cashew, Grapefruit and Arugula. Main courses include Carrot Pad Thai and Cashew Almond Gnocchi, Squash Burritos and on and on.

It's filled with mouth watering photos and includes recipes for anything from sauces,smoothies, sides and salads to desserts, breakfast to dinner. I think you'll find it a worthy addition to your cookbook collection!

P.S. Doug had a packed house for his cooking demos at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival recently - he is getting quite the reputation. It was standing room only - so I decided to let someone else have my sample - if there were any left!

The book is published by Robert Rose Publishing and available where good books are sold - and also at the TVA Resource Centre on Baldwin Street.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vegetarian Food Festival

I had an amazing time as usual this past weekend - the 29th - wow, I know!!! - annual Vegetarian Food Festival. I got to assist the wonderful Jenne Claiborne from New York via Atlanta on preparing her BBQ Tempeh wraps - with cabbage, sweet potato and carrot (roasted) in the fabulous Leon's at the Roundhouse demo kitchen. We also prepared peaches and topping for her raw crumble desssert.  Roberto Martin also came in while I was finishing my shift - I got to sample his Red Beans and Rice at his Sunday Cooking Demo. His book is "Vegan Cooking for Carnivores" - and it's a beautiful book. He was making an appearance on Global TV's morning show.  I am having the Red Beans and Rice for dinners this week..yumm..along with some of our numerous zucchini and fresh beans from the Trinity Bellwoods Farmer's Market

Jenne is a personal chef - check out her website We had great chats about places we like to eat in New York. She is warm, sweet and radiant - her Avocado Chickpea Tartine and sweet raw treats with buckwheat, cacao, pecans and dates were simply - I mean that literally delicious. I also checked out cooking demos from Doug McNish, Jennifer Cornbleet and Alan Roettinger as well as a panel about sanctuaries and a talk from John Pierre - author of "The Pillars of Health". He spoke about what we need to be feeding ourselves especially to help with cognitive function - omega 3, blueberries and how important hydration is for our well being.

Sampled way too many scrumptious baked goods from Bloomer's, Tori's Bakeshop and Bunners - tarts and cookies and doughnuts, oh my! One of my fave desserts was from "Live On Chocolate" - her raw puddings are incredible - I bought Raspberry, Coconut Lime and Caramel Mocha. This was the first year of using the new space on the eastern side of the Harbourfront Centre - so hopefully it will catch on more next year. That being said it was a good place to go and escape the crowds. I got addicted to Tiffinday's "Timpa Wheels" - I can't do justice to describing them other than to say they are to die for! Ditto anything from Green Zebra.

Do yourself a favour and become a member of the TVA - you will get a newsletter filled with articles and recipes, suggestions on new places to eat, and get discounts from many restaurants in the GTA. Visit

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Halie Loren's "Simply Love"

Halie Loren - Simply LoveHow delightful to receive Halie's CD in the mail yesterday from Jane Harbury and Associates. As you may know she is one of my favourite vocalists - not only for her luscious vocals but because she is a shining star as a human being.

She does one of the loveliest versions of "Moon River" I have heard - and I have heard a lot. The original tune "Bare Feet" is a paen to simple pleasures and has a breezy summer feel and she does unique takes on Carol King's "I Feel the Earth Move"  the Turtles "Happy Together" plus a sweet "Dream a Little Dream of Me" - en francais and poignant "My Funny Valentine" among the tunes on this recording.

Perfect music to enjoy on your "dejeuner sur l'herbe" picnic, relaxing on a sandy beach by the ocean or sipping a chilled glass of rose on your patio, deck  or balcony while enjoying the last days of summer.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm still here

Wow I have been really neglectful of my blog postings - as I was reminded on a recent visit to Edmonton for Folk Festival. I had an amazing time by the way - thanks to the Folk Fest staff and volunteers and especially to my best friend/administrator/ruler of the Folk Festival - Richard. He had an amazingly comfortable couch on the deck of his place that I didn't want to leave!

I ate at Padmanadi which if you don't know about this great South Asian veg restaurant on 101st Street at 107th Avenue (  - you should - super delicious! They even have a picture of Strombo at the cash register - so you know it must be good! I also checked out the - new to me- Blush Lane Orgnaic Market/Da Capo venue on 82 Avenue and 102 Street - a wonderful little organic market with some of the best peaches I have ever had - from their own orchard in B.C.! My latte was yummy from Da Capo as well.

As usual I visited the Plaid Giraffe and spent way too much money - got a Matt and Nat rose coloured purse and a Lug tote as well as some earrings. I picked up some jewellery at the Folk Fest craft tent too - some nifty eco earrings made from washers from "Raw" and lovely paper ones. I should post photos of all these purchases I guess.

Musically I really enjoyed the Avett Brothers - my first introduction to them - although it seems many attendees were very familiar with their work. A high energy set - a combination of bluegrass/southern rock/punk/ballads - and a cellist! L.P. was also a revelation - I agree with someone's assessment that she looks like Bob Dylan and sounds like "Cyndi Lauper" - I still have "Levitator" as an earworm. Lisa Hannigan was modern Irish folk/pop transcendence, Carlos Nunez a pied piper of infectious music, great bluegrass from the Steep Canyon Rangers and my fave Tim O'Brien and on and on...

The weather gods were munificient until 10 p.m. on Sunday night during Loreena McKennitt's set where thunder and sheet lightning provided unscheduled special effects. Then the heavens opened scattering patrons, volunteers and staff alike. Fortunately, everyone was ushered off site safely but it did mark the first time ever there was no Finale or Raffle Draw.

While on site I enjoyed the sight of many beautiful and huge dragonflies - doing their mosquito patrol duty.

My non Festival activities included a visit to Lux Beauty Boutique - to purchase some Coola sunscreen at the recommendation of my friend Helen - mine is Mango scented...yum! Butter London nail polishes - which I adore and they have a big selection. I also purchased a Tokyo Milk shower gel called Truth which is heavenly - at Laurel's Flowers and now I want more of these scents...many are scrumptious.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jazz Fest round up

"It's always been a dream of mine to play the Toronto Jazz Festival and tonight I am one step closer to that dream"  joked renaissance man Steve Martin as he ushered in his show with the Steep Canyon Rangers on Saturday night and of course the jokes kept coming. He said that people think he is a "Hollywood Dilettante getting on the Bluegrass Gravy Train"...hmm was that a Rob Ford Reference? Also that people wondered "why music and why now Steve?" he answered - wait a minute you're my band...:)

The consummate stand up absurdist comedian, movie star, writer, and one heck of a banjo player also felt he had to confess that he tuned his banjo electronically and now there was far less danger from radiation....for the people at the back of the tent, not so much for those at the front. Also he could check his email...

All kidding aside he has a stellar - Grammy award winning band. He himself admitted to walking away with a  Grammy...until he was told he had won dum bump. For the second night in a row the sound was also decent..the previous night I enjoyed Boz Scaggs! By the way the Slocan Ramblers did a stellar opening set for Steve Martin - the audience loved them - who knew there were so many bluegrass fans?

Thursday night I enjoyed Gregory Porter - who is outstanding - my minor quibble was as usual - the sound was too loud - do I really need to be wearing earplugs in the Enwave Theatre - with piano, acoustic bass, drums and sax? It was a real love in for the audience - in fact there was a couple next to me who had come all the way from London England to see him as his show was sold out there! I hope to hear him again with clear sound - you should be able to hear the vocals with a singer of his talent....

Tomorrow I'm likely heading back to the Jazz Bistro to hear Micah Barnes again - possibly my best experience at the festival this year.