Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review Friday: Golf, Young Adult Fiction and Horror

Photo by dhammza courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

I haven't done a book-related post in almost two months.  It has now become clear that my initial goal of doing at least one literary post a week was too ambitious. While I still aim to cover as many local blogs as possible that focus on books and authors, I now realize that I cannot re-blog every book review in the Ottawa blogosphere.  As such, moving forward, I will only include one review from each local blog in Book Review Friday posts. With that in mind, here are some books that have been reviewed by areas bloggers.


The Ottawa Golf Blog writes about Loopers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odyssey by John Dunn.  "You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy (this book)," reads the review.  "Loopers is a book for those of us who either once had a life of nomadic means or who just like the thrill of adventure and a good story."

Young Adult and Children's Fiction

A Glass of Wine has positive things to say about Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.  The novel tells the story of Christine, who wakes up each morning without her memories.  Unable to recognize anything  the house she lives in, the man in bed beside her, even her own reflection  the main character is soon caught up in a thriller of a plot.  "A page turner that will certainly keep you up at night, and leave you second guessing everything," reads the review.

FireStar Books has lukewarm thoughts on PODs by Michelle Pickett.  "In two sentences, this book was good enough that I didn't dislike it but I also didn't like it," writes blogger Ashley.  "It didn't draw out any particular emotion in me."

In contrast, Maria from I Believe in Story has good things to say about The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.  The novel tells the story of two best friends who discover the fabled School for Good and Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains.


Ottawa writer Mandy DeGeit, who describes herself as an author of creepy fiction, reviews In The End, Only Darkness by Monica O’Rourke.  "When I heard she had a collection of dark poetry and short horror stories out, I was more than happy to check it out," writes DeGeit. " Not only does it satisfy my needs for well-written short stories, it was nice to meet another female writer for a penchant for the extreme. In The End, Only Darkness is sure to please the reader who seeks out fantastically written scenes of shock and gore."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ottawa Photographers: Take Six

"Photography is not a crime."
Photograph by padawan *(xava du) courtesy of Flickr
 (Creative Commons)

There is a big difference between knowing something intellectually and experiencing it first-hand.  For instance, after surfing the Ottawa blogosphere for a long time, I know that there are numerous photo-blogs in the National Capital Region.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the total number was well into the hundreds, or even if it topped 1,000.  However, discovering all of these blogs while searching through the Internet, (as opposed to making an educated guess on how many there are), is a bit of an overwhelming experience.  Each time I came across a new photo site I am truly struck about how amazing artists there are in Ottawa and surrounding areas.

I have already come across more than 100 photo-blogs.  At the current pace that I am discovering new sites, I am confident that I will reach 200 photo-blog by the end of the summer.  With that in mind, here are some more photo-blogs that I have not mentioned on this site.  (Note: If you want to see previous posts on local photographers simply click on the Photography link at the top of this site).


Ashley Ladouceur is an Ottawa-based photographer who has a graphic arts degree.  "I’ve built my portfolio by working with non-profit organizations, artists, Government departments and Private firms," she writes on her bio page on her tumblr site.  "On my spare time, I brainstorm ideas and create projects that somehow impact the lives of children living in Colombia."  Her work includes urban landscapes, street fashion and portraits.  If you want to see more of her work check out her pinterest site.

I like discovering photo-blogs that focus on different Ottawa neighbourhoods.  I was therefore quite pleased when I came across Glebester.  While this tumblr site was last updated a couple of months, it does contain many beautiful photographs of the Glebe.

Local photographer Stephen Harrison was born in Ottawa in 1983 and grew up in the rural village of Dunrobin, which is located a few kilometers northwest of Canada’s capital.  A graduate of Algonquin College's photography program, he likes to explore nature by taking photos of deep forests, expansive fields, flowers and winding creeks. His work, however, also includes really intriguing artistic shots that range from ice sculptures, to a fascinating shoot involving garbage, to a fire on an OC Transpo bus.  While his photo-blog is only updated on a periodic basis, (the most recent post on the site is from April), his work is definitely worth checking out.

I do not know a lot about Broke Billionaire Media. According to their tumblr site bio, they are "A group of individuals determined to usher in a new type of groove where ever and whenever possible. Dope Music. Good People. Great Atmospheres. That’s what we’re about."  True to this description, the publish photographs of club parties, as well as running an instagram site.

Marijuana smokers, meanwhile, might get a kick out of Blunts N Kush.  For their part, Jackpine is a site for a self-described "creative studio" in Ottawa that contains an eclectic (and interesting) range of photos from our area.  Other tumblr sites that I have come across include Bixter Snoodle, Eric Gregoire, Zhengyanglu and Illuminated.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Some posts from local history blogs

Back to the Past and Future - Photo by Arty-chan
courtesy of Flickr  (Creative Commons)

From time to time I like to highlight local blogs that discuss the history of the National Capital Region.  With this in mind, below are some stories that I have come across in the last couple of months.


One of my favourite history-related blogs is Urbsite, which contains a lot of information on our region's past. In late April, the site published a post that looked at a piano manufacturing business that used to exist at the Old Wellington Ward market.  Also in April, it discussed the history of the former Ottawa General Hospital, which stood where the present day Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital exists. Located at 43 Bruyère St, the current hospital services elderly patients, as well as offering palliative care.

In late-May, the blog posted a story on the Preston Street urban renewal project. The post featured several places in the area, and offered an interesting juxtaposition by comparing old pictures with images of the same spot today. Finally, earlier this month, the site published an interesting feature on the history of the Lord Elgin Hotel at 100 Elgin Street.


I recently discovered a new blog called Ottawahh that contains information on our city's past.  While I haven't had a chance to review it in detail, I plan to do so in the near future.


People interested in the history of the Glebe should check out the blog GlebeSite. Recent posts include the history on the old Bank of Nova Scotia branch that existed on the corner of Bank and Fourth Avenue, aerial photographs of the Glebe from the 1920s and 1950s, and a photo of the Pinhey House at 237-39 Clemow Avenue that was destroyed by fire in the early 1960s.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Some recipes from the blogosphere: Part II

Photo by Missmeng courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

Here is part two of the recipe round-up that I have been collected from local blogs over the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy and happy cooking!


Pickles shares the secret to making delicious french toast.

Dinner / Salads

Zahlicious describes how to prepare poached eggs with labneh and paprika butter.

Adventures of an Ottawa Foodie has the rundown on how to cook Thai style meatballs.

Mon Food Blog offers a recipe for Tuscan bean and tuna salad.

Snacks / Drinks

Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures can teach you how to whip up an edamame dip.

Thrive has suggestions for hot weather "baking" by publishing a post on the delicious sounding chocolate almond no-bake snack bites.

Nooschi explains how to make the ultimate green shake, which includes green apples, frozen bananas, broccoli, leafy greens and nuts.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Some recipes from the blogosphere: Part I

Photo by Matt Carman courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

I haven't posted a recipe round-up for a while, so my NewsBlur reader is overfilling with culinary suggestions.  In order not to overwhelm you with a very long list of recipes, I have decided to split this cooking-related entry over two days.


Bacon avec Bacon explains how to make the best ever steak marinade.

Culinarilyinclined has a recipe for a spring quiche with spinach and asparagus.

Pearl Pirie of Eaten Up writes about a recipe for fiddlehead and morel that she found.

Food Gypsy offers tips for cooking coco's curried Naan-za.

Sybaritica posts a recipe for steamed ginger lamb dumplings.


La Cuisine d'Hélène shares her secret for making old-fashioned brown sugar fudge.

Double Trouble Kitchen Edition has a post on preparing strawberry rhubarb crisp.

If Music be the Food of Love, Play On outlines how to bake the delicious sounding smartie cake.


The Gouda Life has a great suggestion for a cognac cocktail.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Let's chat about wine and beer

Photo courtesy of Katie Spence courtesy of Flickr
(Creative Commons)

I have been quite busy the last few weeks with work and family-related commitments.  As such, I have not been posting that much recently.  Moving forward, I hope to write as often as possible, although I now realize that I will have to scale back my blogging ambitions.  (My initial hope was to publish a post a day, which I now see is not realistic).

That being said, the plan is to continue chronicling the local blogosphere.  Together with my Tour de blogosphere columns for Apartment613, I want to use this site to feature and highlight the thousands of bloggers in our city.  With that in mind, here are some alcohol-friendly posts that I have recently come across.


Some local bloggers are more than happy to suggest different wines that vino lovers can try.  Case in point: TBBs highly recommends Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  Food Gypsy, meanwhile, raves about Hartley-Ostini, Hitching Post’s pinot noirs, which is bottled in Santa Barbara County in California. Rounding things off, wine out loud gives two thumbs up to Five Mile White, a bottle produced by Ontario's Coyote's Run winery, which is located on Niagara-on-the-Lake.


Local beer connoisseur Ross Brown has several reviews on his great site Beer O'Clock.  His latest forays into the world of hops, barley and other brewski delights led Ross to sample some U.S. beers while on a road trip to the Big Apple.  Recent reviews include posts on the Brooklyn, New York-brewed Sweet Action, another Brooklyn beer called Silver Anniversary Lager, and several other Yankee beers

For its part, the Ottawa Beer Club recently posted a positive review of Cameron's Rye Pale Ale.  Cider drinkers, meanwhile, should check out this review of Waupoos Cider.

Finally, Ottawa Citizen blogger Ron Eade has a post on the first batch of Turtle Island Brewing Company.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Running ultramarathons (and blogging) for charity

Photo courtesy of Joe Rios, who is on the right holding the sign.

The following article first appeared on Apartment613 on June 1.

Joe Rios has come a very long way since becoming a runner more than three years ago – thousands and thousands of kilometres to be more precise.

Back in 2009, Rios paid little attention to fitness, a problem given his family’s long history with diabetes. When a friend convinced him to register for the Ottawa Army Run half-marathon, however, he surprised himself by signing up.

“I was inactive, I was asthmatic, I was overweight,” says Rios of his physical condition at the time. During an initial training run, he recalls, he was unable to finish a five-kilometre loop around the Alexandra and Portage bridges. Given that he had just committed to running a 21-kilometre race, this could have been a cause for concern.

Undaunted by the challenge, however, he slowly but surely got stronger, and on race day beat expectations by finishing in under two hours. Fast forward to today, and Rios is running marathons around the world, as well as preparing for ultramarathons, including a 100-kilometre race in October.

He is also a blogger having started the site THRIVE with Joe in September 2012.

“I focus the blog on how to empower people … but from a practical perspective,” says Rios, whose site contains posts on different races, tips for runners, interviews and descriptions of various charity events.

Regarding his charitable activities, he tells me that his blog is a perfect forum for partnering up with other community members.

“What I’m discovering through the blog is that if you put yourself out there you will meet more people,” says Rios, who works for Export Development Canada. As a case in point, he has registered for the Sears Great Canadian Run, a 100-kilometre race that starts at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum and ends at Montebello, Quebec.

The run, which raises money for research to fight children’s cancer, is normally completed by a relay team that can include up to 20 people. Rios, in contrast, partnered with Mike Herzog and Steven Thomas of Good Guys Tri, who have assembled a team of 20 runners that will each complete the 100 kilometers. The team of ultra-marathoners are hoping to raise $30,000.

The ultramarathon is not the only charitable work Rios is involved with. Last summer, he started Run 4 a Cause, a 5-kilometre run for runners at all levels. About 150 runners participated last year, representing 10 different charities. (Rios usually runs races on behalf of Team Diabetes in his effort to raise money to fight the disease)

On August 25, 2013, Rios plans organize the second annual Run 4 a Cause run, with the goal of attracting 300 runners. As a Lululemon ambassador, Rios convinced the company’s Head Office to donate $500 to the charity with the most runners in the 2012 run. Lululemon expects to make a similar donation for the 2013 run.

The idea for Run 4 a cause has gathered interest from around the world, with people from Germany, India and the Philippines approaching Rios about setting up similar events. The aim is to replicate the event across Canada and around the word.

If all of this were not enough, Rios has a personal goal of running a marathon on all seven continents. He has already covered North America (Ottawa), South America (Rio de Janeiro), Europe (Reykjavik, Iceland), and is preparing to run the Gold Coast Marathon in July in Australia.

Next year he plans to run the Great Wall of China marathon, and is on the waiting list for the 2015 Antartic Marathon. He is also gearing up for an ultarmarathon in Africa in 2014, though he is not sure if he will run a 256-kilometre race in the Sahara, or a 250-kilimatre run in the Kalahari desert between Botswana and Namibia.

Not bad for a guy who only a few years ago couldn’t run 5-kilometres.