In search of plant-based food: Oliver and Bonacini review

Vegetarian/Vegan Resto Reviews

I decided to re-name my blog title to…”In search of plant-based food” instead of restaurants – because vegan restaurants are hard to find where I am. So, now I look for vegan menu items at ‘regular’ restaurants.

Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill (Bayview & Sheppard, Toronto location) (aka O & B) is not a vegan restaurant but does have a selection of vegetarian dishes, but you should double-check the ingredients with the waiter/waitress before ordering.

My in-laws treated our family for a Chinese New Year dinner back in Feb 2019 at Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill. It would have been too hectic at any Chinese restaurants, so we went for Italian-style food.

The main dinner menu online looked promising for me and my daughter, so by request, we went there. But unfortunately, I found out it was part of the Winterlicious festival with a set three-course meal (appetizer, main dish, and dessert). That meant that their entree menu was reduced significantly.

Overall rating:

Food: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Price: $$$-$$$$ out of $$$$$ (depends what you order)

Ambience/decor: 3.5 out of 5 stars

My fav dish: If I have to pick an item – it would be the mushroom soup (made with no cream and no butter).

I ordered the Spaghetti Pomorado entree (pictured above). O & B made no effort to add a unique ingredient like truffle mushroom to the spaghetti or decorate the plate. So no fancy ingredients or garnish at all. Basically, the pasta had tomato sauce and a bit of basil. I could easily have made the dish myself at home for a few dollars – but it cost $16.

My husband had the Schnitzel dish, but it did not look so great and he didn’t really like it, and my son had a curry lamb, which he did not really enjoy.

Loyalty rewards


Feedback: I was disappointed when I tried to ask for a customized pizza to share with my meat-eating 5-year-old. They have Margarita pizza and pepperoni pizza- so I asked for half with just tomato sauce, basil and no cheese; and half with pepperoni and cheese. They could not do it for me.


poem = apple?

photo of apples on a tree
You might be thinking…an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

It’s kinda funny how pen-to-paper works. You just start with a general thought, then it develops into something fun or serious. I find writing poetry therapeutic. I suggest trying to write a poem. However, if you can’t handle poetry try keeping a diary. I still have my old diary from when I was about 8 years old. It’s enjoyable to read it occasionally.


A poem a day keeps the shrink away.
This simple remedy keeps your thoughts at bay.
Don't know what to write?
Just grab a pen and turn on the light.
Jot down just one word and soon his friends will join.
And pretty soon, a poem is born.

-Monica Ng

In this thing called life, things don’t always need to make sense.  That’s what keeps things fun.

Negativity and Happiness are contagious

picture of my feet
Happy feet = happy person

Ask yourself – which would you rather? Be surrounded by negativity or happiness? Is happiness over-rated? No way! Happiness is the foundation of life. Gotta have it.

I am not a shrink, but I did study sociology in U. My advice is simple: surround yourself with happy and positive people where possible. There is no rocket science to this. It’s like when you are always around people who like to complain or contemplate life in a negative way…don’t you feel mentally and emotionally drained by the time you finish speaking to them? Well, move those feet of yours away and find some happier and more positive people. If you are having trouble meeting positive people, try finding an activity you like and join a group with people who enjoy the same thing as you.

In this thing called life – the world stops for no one. Make every moment count.

The re-useable knife


This post is dedicated to my husband – as this story would not be told if not for him.

When I tell people the story of the “reusable knife” – they first give me a confused look. Then by the time I finish explaining they tell me their own stories with great frustration.

Don’t be too shocked…but what you are about to read is real and hideous.

The Haunting of the Reusable Knife

Many believe that a reusable knife is just a knife made of heavy-duty plastic, stainless steel or some other material. But no, that’s not it at all.

Chapter 1

The sun had set and darkness was covering the land. Monica was busy cooking in the kitchen and when she turned around – there it was. The knife. It was propped up on a plate. The same plate where her oils were kept on the kitchen counter. There was an eerie streak of light shining off the knife from the under-cabinet lighting. Monica gasped. She was afraid to touch it. After all, there was no reason at all for a lone knife to be lying on the plate. She decided to leave it alone, but it called her name. She glanced over her shoulder. It was still there. At the end of the evening, before Monica went to bed – it was still there.

Chapter 2

The knife wasn’t quite so scary the next day when the sun was shining brightly, so Monica reluctantly put it in the sink to be washed. That night when it was dark again – there it was. The knife. This time there appeared to be peanut butter on the knife. Not only was the knife dirty, but buttery. Goo oozed from the knife and trickled onto the white plate.

Chapter 3

Another day went by. Another day. Another knife.

That evening, Monica was chopping up some carrots for her dinner soup. When she was about to chop the onions, she glanced sideways and there it was. This time, the knife’s edges were covered with bread crumbs. Before bed, the knife beckoned Monica, but she refused to pick it up. She would not give in to its calls.

Chapter 4

The next morning, the breaded knife was lying on the oil plate. Again, the sun seemed to soften the white glows. And again reluctantly, Monica put the knife in the sink. Dinner would be made early that evening because her family had to go out afterwards. Rushing to put together a meal, Monica ran around the kitchen gathering things. Suddenly, when she was putting things on the counter. There is was. Another knife. This time, it was covered in juice from an apple or some kind of fruit. It glistened with slime and tempted Monica to go closer. A very gutsy dare from a knife, she thought. Monica was strong and did not battle with the knife that night.

Chapter 5

To be continued…


Yes, this is how this story ends lol. But trust me, the knives do not stop popping up every day. Such a seemingly small/trivial thing just drives me insane! My husband claims that he keeps the knives there “in case” he needs to use it again. But I have never seen one being “re-used”. I ask him every day when he plans to ‘re-use’ it, but he only laughs. One day, a second knife got propped on the first knife. Then for some reason, he cleared one away and left the other. I asked him why and he said he wasn’t sure if it was his! OMG!

In this thing called life – one can hint and keep hinting or say it outright, but the plight may remain unheard.

BTW – what’s your “STORY”? I would love to hear from you!

Review of C Fong Hsiung’s Picture Bride (Book review)

book reviews
photo of C Fong Hsiung's book
Picture Bride and New Land Same Sky – written by C Fong Hsiung

Picture Bride

Picture Bride is C Fong Hsiung’s first book. She recently launched her second, New Land Same Sky. I had the pleasure of attending Fong’s second book launch and listening to her speak about her writing experience. It was also wonderful to listen to a powerful reading of a few excerpts from her book, New Land Same Sky.

If you read my post titled “Interview with C Fong Hsiung” you would know that like many of us out there, we work full-time jobs unrelated to book writing. She is an accountant and I am a law clerk. But through our passion for writing, we can express ourselves and tell stories for all to enjoy and experience.

Picture Bride: Story line

A young Hakka (Chinese-Indian) woman named Jie-Lan is forced by her parents to marry someone through an arranged marriage. She travels all the way from Calcutta, India to Toronto, Canada to be with Peter Chou. But when she arrives in Canada, she is greeted with hostility and indifference from her husband-to-be, which shocks her and makes her want to cry. She is naive to expect that her new husband would want to make love to her after their marriage. Yet she tries to be adaptable. She tries to engage Peter in conversation but he always scoffs her off. She decides to find work in Toronto and make the most of her new life. One day she feels sick and goes home early. Everything becomes clear to her when she walks in on her husband and his male ‘friend’ in his bed.

She wants so badly to end her marriage – but it’s not so easy with tradition and shame that would be brought to her family. Yet how can she continue to endure her marriage? Would falling in love with a fankwei (a white man) be her destiny? Find out when you read Picture Bride. Check out her website to find out where to buy her books.

Here are my comments:

Having never been to India – I enjoyed having a snapshot of life in Calcutta. Leather tanning being the way of life. The wealthier families owned factories, while the poorer locals often tried to break into the factories to steal money. Arranged marriages, which were (and probably still are) popular in Indian culture brought two people together, initially without love. But can love grow from this type of relationship? Maybe. I would like to hold onto that hope.

In Picture Bride, Jie-Lan is a heroine as she endures so much for her want to be loved and cared for. She leaves her country with an open mind for an unknown life and fights bravely against the man called her husband when he threatens to have her sent back to India if anyone finds out he is gay.

There is an underlying story of Jie-Lan’s sister who died after being discovered dating a non-Hakka. There is a great reveal near the end of the book. A family dynamic unique to each family. I didn’t think Fong could wrap it up with just a few pages left – but she did!

I felt very satisfied when I put down Picture Bride. Will work on reading New Land Same Sky next after I finish up the book I am reading now.

My favourite line

My favourite line of her book which is about arranged marriages:

“Too young to choose my own husband, but old enough to marry.” It so nicely summarizes contradictions in life in general.

In this thing called life – reading is one of the greatest joys. I love to read. We can go on an adventure or emotional roller coaster without physically going anywhere.

Review of David Usher’s Let the Elephants Run (book review)

book reviews
words on a page: breathe
Photo from inside of his book

To: Fong: Your book review is coming soon! I shouldn’t have waited because now it’s not so fresh in my mind.

Fav musical artists

As I mentioned in a post or two, David Usher has been one of my favourite musical artists since I was about 18 years old. Yes, I did wait in line for a couple of CD signings! But I was not the crazy screaming type.


His music has been playing in the background over the years, but for a few years, I didn’t really follow his career too closely. Recently, I decided to Google him and what did I find out? He is so super-talented – he does not only write songs, sing and play guitar -he wrote a book; developed/developing some AI; is involved with Amnesty International; gives presentations (can’t say I am 100% sure what he talks about- but does it really matter? He’s got my attention).

Let the Elephants Run

When I found out he wrote a book about unleashing/unlocking creativity, I knew I had to pick up a copy. So Tuesday night I began reading. Cover to cover took me just under two hours.

Here are my comments:

  1. The actual book: it feels really solid when holding it and it’s a good size for easy reading. Very eye-catching.
  2. Pages: loved the rich texture and page thickness- the feel underneath my fingers.
  3. Content: Really inspiring. Love the creativeness of the book itself. The pages are colourful and you can have fun looking for the pink text (like the pink elephant running around) throughout the book and little black elephant on the bottom of all pages. You might even find some ants…There are many interesting concepts David writes about like structure of society; how we are born creative, but lose some of our creativity as we get older mainly because of structure and rules. Our society tries to make everyone conform, but we need to think outside the box; and how the creative aspect is only about 5% of the work and the rest is just hard work and good business planning.

I learned a few things:

  1. School systems were set up a certain way to basically train people to sit for long hours in factories. I never really thought about this before, but now it makes sense.

2) The difference between a commercial book and a non-commercial book. I struggled with understanding this when I first started working on my own books – even a publisher contact that I knew tried to explain this to me about five times (but I still didn’t get it because her explanation was a bit weak). So thanks David for helping me to understand this.

3) It is A-OK to write in a lovely book. David encourages that you just jot down notes all over. His book is like a workbook with steps to understand yourself, your business plan and how to bring back your creative side.

4) Momentum. It is important to just scribble down anything even if you can’t focus on a written piece. My momentum slowed for my novel, but then I started just to write down random thoughts like David suggests, and sure enough, my groove is back!

In this thing called life – don’t think, just pick up a copy of his book (FYI -I don’t get any commission lol) and see if you can release your creative self again. You can buy at Chapters in-store and online.

Life through the eyes of a person

true or false

The answer to my true or false: ALL TRUE. But of course for #4, he wasn’t a criminal at the time we dated. I only found out years later.

Synapses are going wild!

It’s crazy when ideas start buzzing around in your brain and you want to jot everything down as quickly as you can before you forget. It’s like the dream that you enjoyed so much and when you wake up in the middle of the night, you tell yourself that you will remember because it’s so memorable- but guess what? Most of the time you will forget! This happens to me all the time. I have these super-detailed movie worthy dreams, but I forget them by the morning. Sometimes I force myself to roll out of bed and write them down. So when I do, by the time I read my notes in the morning – I’m like What the Hell? I can’t work with that!

Busy five years

The past five years has been really crazy for me – my father’s stroke, the birth of my third child just after my dad’s stroke, getting a dog (for my daughter), writing and illustrating three childrens’ books (My Great Canadian Adventures, Winter Moose Visits Montreal and Winter Moose Visits Alberta), doing book readings and book events, become vegan…

I have been a bit busy trying to promote myself, while working on two other books (a novel and a vegan cookbook) and working a full-time job – but I would not trade it for anything else.

Heart jumping

When I was doing my book reading this past Tuesday (yes, I had to take part of the afternoon off my day-job), my heart jumped (nervousness) when I saw the gym filling up with kids. Not only that – they were there to listen to ME! Yikes! I had done a few other in-class readings but with about 20 kids at a time. This time, my event was in the gym with about eighty kids and I had to speak using a microphone.

Confession: I have only ever spoken into a mic once before – and that was at my book launch last July. I was really scared then. But when I took that mic, I realized that this public speaking thing is not so bad. It was all in my head. So, I told the kids that never in a million years would I have pictured myself standing there in front of them. I was the most shy kid ever in school. I used to hide behind my parents legs when people would talk to me!

Just grab the moment

In many of the Taiwanese drama shows (I watch on Netflix), they show a person walking let’s say past a loved one who is with another man, then they rewind and show them walking in the same spot again. This symbolizes the loss of a chance. We cannot rewind time. If you have an opportunity (could be for work, meeting someone new, learning a new craft or trying a new exercise program) – just grab the moment, because it may not come again.

I believe in cosmic forces or being on the same wavelength as someone. Like the anti-social lady I keep running to in the office washroom (I blogged about her already). Like it or not, our bladders are synchronized!

Generally speaking, I believe that people come into our lives at certain times for a reason. So don’t be shy to say hello to that person next to you. I have met so many people in my life adventure that have stayed with me.

One of my favourite memories is from my early twenties. I was really down and feeling trapped because I was dating this really possessive guy and couldn’t seem to shake him. Then I got a stage (like being a shadow at a company) position at this interior design company. Pearl worked there and took me under her wing (and became a friend). We went on-site to this company they were doing some work for. Anyway, I met this guy Justin (a quick handshake, an exchange of a few words) and had a vibe. Later when we were back at Pearl’s office she told me that he asked for my number. Of course I said yes right away. She warned me he was a ‘bad-boy’ – but I took my chances. Taking this chance is one of the best things that I ever did. I thought he was the most positive and happy person in the world. He really loved life, talked excitedly about his family and friends and made every moment count. His passion for life influenced me to totally change my outlook on life. Even though we parted ways, I will always keep him in mind. So, Justin – if you ever happen to stumble on this post, thank you for being there!

In this thing called life – Life is not static. Change is inevitable. Grab the moment when it comes as it may not come again.

Chapters Book Events


Well, we have concluded our two Chapters book events (Newmarket and Markham) this past couple of Saturdays.

Thank you so much to Chapters Newmarket and Markham for having us, and all of those who came out to support us.

It was really great chatting with everyone at Chapters. One lady told me it was really inspiring that we could do what we do within time constraints. We get this comment often. As usual, when people ask how I do it with a full-time job, three kids, a dog and parents that need help, the answer is quite simple – “passion is a driver”. I have this passion that is like fire in my blood and needs to escape.

Tomorrow, I am scheduled for an elementary school book reading. I love sharing my message about anti-bullying, self-love and my love for Canada. As well, we will discuss our role in our changing environment. Immediate action must be taken to help our environment before it’s too late.

***If you or someone you know is interested in having me host a local (Greater Toronto Area) book reading event in their childrens’ school please ask them to complete the contact form at

I am also available to host a small group session about self-publishing for adults.

In this thing called life, we have to do what it takes to help others and the world. Cheers!

Matthew Good 2019 Solo Acoustic Tour

  • matt good vip tag

Matthew Good’s concert took place last Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts in Richmond Hill.

Let’s just say…


VIP pass

My daughter ended up joining me for the VIP sound check and concert. It was my first meet and greet ever, so I had no idea what to expect. In my mind, I thought that you would get to mingle with the artist. But apparently, because we had a group of sixteen people we could not have individuals photos (just a group shot pictured above) and only able to have a Q & A session where each person would have a chance to ask Matt a question. What shocked me most is that people were so calm! I mean – the kid in me – wanting to scream I LOVE YOU MATT! YOU ARE TOTALLY AWESOME!!! But going with the mood at the meet, I just told him the quick story about my sister falling badly and cancelling her flight from Calgary to Toronto, and thanked him for singing to me for the past 20 or so years. My question was: What is your continued source of inspiration over the years?

His answer was basically, that there was none. His analogy was like taking footsteps in the snow. Every step you take, you just know there will be more.

Los Alamos

Even though I am a huge fan, I apparently haven’t listened to so many of his songs. I will have to buy Chaotic Neutral album – Los Alamos (see YouTube video below) is my new fav. The song is so haunting and beautiful at the same time. It is now my bedtime song. I have trouble falling asleep because my brain is so wired – but then I just listen to Matt’s soothing voice…

Just take a listen, close your eyes and feel the music. Check him out on Instagram @matthewgoodgram


Poesy, a Canadian female singer/song writer, was the opening act for Matthew Good. I have never heard her music before, but always nice to be exposed to new music – especially Canadian talent.

Her voice is powerful, deep and sultry. It was cool that she did not wear shoes on stage. I can’t say I really “felt” her music. I closed my eyes and just listened to her voice hoping it would give me the chills – but it didn’t. The music was just kind of there -if you know what I mean. But she is Canadian!