Saturday, 29 October 2011

Four Blind Mice

Alex Cross is back for an eighth installment in Patterson's thrilling series, only this time he's helping out his partner John Sampson look into a case in which an army buddy of Sampson's is facing execution for triple murder in North Carolina. The army's evidence is strong, so Cross and Sampson have to race against the clock to try and prove that the convicted man is actually innocent. They quickly discover that Sampson's friend has been set up, as have a number of other soldiers, and the question becomes, by who?

Personally I found this installment less effective than its predecessors. It is typical fast paced Patterson, but I simply didn't care for the army cross over plot.

Violets are Blue

The "Mastermind" is once again the subject in Patterson's seventh Alex Cross thriller. This time Cross must investigate two different cases; one involving the Mastermind, and the other a case unlike anything Cross has ever seen, revolving around two young blond male vampire brothers. As usual, Cross's family and love life will take a backseat to his career, but not without a fight.

This is definitely one of the best Alex Cross novels to date, as the reader will learn the identity of the Mastermind long before Cross himself figures it out. Patterson has done it again with Violets are Blue.

Roses Are Red

In Patterson's sixth Alex Cross thriller, we meet the "Mastermind," Cross's ultimate nemesis and the most evil villain he's faced yet. Roses are Red is the first of two back to back novels in which Alex Cross will pursue the same killer.

With the birth of his third child, Cross hopes life will settle down a bit, as he attempts to bring stability to his unravelling family. Instead he is pulled out of Little Alex's christening to begin his hunt for DC's most prolific killer. The Mastermind, however, is unlike any other killer Cross has chased; he is smart, crafty, and seems to always be one step ahead of Cross.

Another fast moving tale, this one is formulaic but still action packed and the reader will find themselves drawn into the plot quickly. Though I had my suspicions early on about who the Mastermind was, I kept reading to confirm my suspicions.

Friday, 28 October 2011

"Excuse Me, Where is the Banting & Best Museum?"

Until recently, this questions went unanswered, as there was no museum dedicated to Banting & Best, the Canadian researchers who discovered insulin and forever changed the lives of millions of people around the world.

This week, however, that finally changed. The exhibit, entitled "Insulin: Toronto's Gift to the World," opened yesterday at the MaRS center in Toronto, Canada. It not only shows how the scientists discovered insulin, back in the summer of 1921, but outlines the continuing legacy of their work both in Toronto and around the world.

Those visiting the permanent exhibit can see a video, plus items from Banting and Best's laboratory, including scientific equipment used by the pair, as well as a collection of photographs, letters, and documents. There is even a selection of vials of insulin dating back to the 1920's.

Insulin vials from the 1920's to now

Banting and Best's discovery is one of the most important medical advances in history, and remains today one of the "most spectacular therapies that medicine has in its arsenal." (Bliss, The Discovery of Insulin). \

Banting won the Nobel Prize in October of 1923 for his incredible contribution to medicine, but creators of the exhibit hope that it will inspire a new generation of diabetes investigators to help find the ultimate grail: a true physiological insulin replacement.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Pop Goes the Weasel

Wow, I've gotten so far behind on my reviews already! I'm still determined to finish the Alex Cross series before the end of 2011, and I'm currently 5 books from the end. A few weeks ago I read Pop Goes the Weasel and it was certainly one of the faster reads in the series. The action in this novel is non-stop, as Patterson gives the reader a dungeons-and-dragons-meets-psycho-killer with the character of Geoffrey Shafer. A respectable business man by day, Shafer's night life consists of driving a taxi and murdering his passengers in ways determined by the roll of a die. He then gives details reports of his killings to the other members of the "Four Horsemen".

It all gets too personal when Shafer kidnaps Alex Cross's new love interest Christine, forcing Cross to drop everything and hunt down a madman. But can he find him before it's too late?

It's Blue

Blue here, blue there, blue blue everywhere. With diabetes awareness month just around the corner, exciting things are happening!! World Diabetes Day falls on November 14th, and this year we will also be celebrating blue Fridays throughout the month of November. 

Another awesome project by Cherise Shockley, creator of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA), in which everyone is encouraged to wear blue every Friday in November and on World Diabetes Day. "Think Blue. Wear Blue". Check out and "like" the Blue Fridays facebook page for more information!

So what are you going to do to show your "blue"?

Monday, 24 October 2011

WDD Postcard Exchange!

Just in case you haven't yet heard about the awesome World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange being organized  by Lee Ann Thill over at The Butter Compartment, check it out! Lee Ann is arranging an old-fashioned, snail mail postcard swap between people whose lives are affected in some way by diabetes. 

Anyone can sign up - whether you are type 1, type 2, LADA, or a spouse, parent, or sibling of someone with diabetes. Simply email your name and mailing address to Lee Ann and she will match you up with your recipient. Then you create an actual card stock postcard and mail it to your recipient in time for them to receive it on or before World Diabetes Day November 14th!

For full info, including Lee Ann's email address, head over to Lee Ann's Postcard Exchange post at The Butter Compartment!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cold & Flu Season, Round 1

Wow, what a whirlwind the last 12 days have been! I can't believe it's been 12 whole days since my last post. So why the hiatus? Our first round of illnesses for this season.

Beginning Thanksgiving weekend, Dylan got sick with a cold. It was slow coming on, starting with a sore throat for a couple of days, then a stuffy nose, then body aches, then a cough, and finally a very persistent headache. His blood sugar certainly went on a bit of a wild ride, up and down repeatedly, but tough-guy as he is, he didn't miss any school!

Just as he was finally starting to feel better, my 15 year old started the same process, except that his body stuffed the whole illness into 2 very sick days, before making a quick recovery.

Caring for 2 sick kids back to back, plus the lack of sleep from all of the extra nighttime blood sugar checks left me in a bit of weakened state too, I guess, because just as my eldest returned to school, I got hit full on with the cold. Like a freight train from out of nowhere I went from feeling great, to feeling absolutely terrible in a matter of hours. That was last Thursday and I have been basically unchanged since. Today is the first day that I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait to feel like myself again. Ugh...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Two For The Recipe Box

Roast Pork With Mustard Herb Coating

It's been a while since I posted a recipe and this one is soooo good, I had to share it. I made this roast pork for my family last Sunday and it turned out to be one of the best roasts I have ever tasted. The aroma wafting from my over was absolutely divine and the end product was incredibly flavorful.

6 tablespoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 small bay leaves, finely crumbled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 2 1/2-pound boneless pork rib roast

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine Dijon mustard, minced garlic, bay leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and rosemary in small bowl; whisk to blend. Dry pork with paper towels. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Spread mustard mixture all over pork. Place pork on rack in baking dish. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 150°F, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes. Transfer pork to platter. Slice pork thinly and serve.

Original recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, April 2000.

Cider Pork Stew

I prepared the above recipe with a 3 1/2 pound pork roast and had about 1/3 of it left over. It was the perfect amount for this diabetic friendly pork stew for Monday night's dinner! A sweet smelling fall recipe, this is a great slow cooker stew.

2 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast
3 medium cubed potatoes
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped apple
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
3 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
2 cups apple juice or apple cider
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
celery leaves (optional)

Cut meat into 1-inch cubes. In a 3-1/2- to 5-1/2quart slow cooker, combine meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, apple, celery, and tapioca. Stir in apple juice, salt, caraway seeds, and pepper. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours. If desired, garnish individual servings with celery leaves. Makes: 8 servings For full nutritional info, click here.

Original recipe from Diabetic Living Online.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Diabetes Coaster

We've all been there; the blood sugar highs and lows that are so extreme, it feels like riding a roller coaster. This past weekend we had an extended ride on the diabetes coaster. With highs up to 23.0 (414) and lows down to 2.2 (39.6), it was a wild wild ride, leaving both Dylan and I feeling exhausted and beat up this morning. 

I can't wait to upload all of the weekend pump data and have a good look at it tonight. But until then, this picture illustrates the weekend perfectly.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Maze

Saturday adventures are one of my favorite things; I love to break out of my comfort zone and explore new places with my family. This afternoon we decided to take the kids out to a corn maze, which is literally a maze created out of corn stalks. Corn season is over here but the stalks remain until mid-October, so some farm owners cut paths into their corn fields, in the form of creative shapes and designs. The design that we tackled today was the Grey Cup 2011 logo (the championship event for the CFL, which happens to be next month in the city in which I live). Looks simple? I assure you, it is anything but...

The entrance and exit are in the same place, on the right hand side of the photo, near the buildings. Once you enter the maze you follow the paths in search of numbered posts, in order from 1-10. The first 8 we found very quickly, and I was starting to think we were pretty darn good at this! Then sign #9 took a little longer than the rest, and then we got totally stuck. Towards the top right corner of the maze is a lookout (1 of 2 lookouts in the maze) and from there we kept going around in circles, trying to find our way out. We tried every possibly path and turn (or so we thought) and yet kept returning to the lookout again. To add to our frustration, there was another family lost in the same spot, so every time we took the wrong path, we'd run into them, again, meaning that we were going the wrong way. The corn stalks are about 12 feet high and densely planted, so not only can you not see anything but the sky above you, you must stay on the path or you'll get really lost.

Eventually we found our way out, with the entire task taking us just under an hour and a half. It was loads of fun and a great way to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise with the kids (I love those activities in which the kids are having so much fun that they don't realize they're exercising!). But of course, me being a D-mom, kept thinking, what if Dylan was to get low while we're literally lost in a maze? Yes, I had dextrose tabs with me, and glucagon, but still, it was a very vulnerable feeling nonetheless...