January 2014


The love bug

By Shannon Hunter
This article was originally published on October 19, 2012

I think the worst time to be single is when you’re feeling sick, when all you want in the world is for someone to bring you soup, take care of you and love you regardless of your clown nose and fevered rants. When you’re sick it feels almost impossible to be the strong, fearless and independent lady that you are.

This week, I’ve been feeling pretty sick. I’ve spent a lot of time in my favourite VS Pink sweats, I haven’t bothered to put on makeup and I’m pretty sure I now own stock in the ginger ale market. Having only dated for a month, I really didn’t expect much from Mr. Unexpected, but he’s been there for me every night this week without question. He’s delivered take out when I didn’t want to leave the house, he’s watched countless episodes of the bad TV that I love, and he has not complained once.

I wouldn’t call him a boyfriend, not yet, but he certainly acts like one when I need him to. There is a quote that I’ve seen passed around on Facebook countless times:

Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep… wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you’re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky his is to have you…. The one who turns to his friends and says, “that’s her.”

Mr. Unexpected is the kind of guy who walks into my room when I’m clutching my Sonic doll, clad in a hoodie and my sweats and proceeds to tell me that I look adorable: “like a cute hooded bandit.” He doesn’t care that I’m not wearing makeup this week; he doesn’t care that I refuse to put on real clothing and he doesn’t mind that all I feel like doing is sleeping and trying to get healthy.

Any boy who is willing to sleep next to you for comfort when he knows full well that sex isn’t even on the table is a boy worth keeping around. Sex is of course an important element of any relationship but, the real test comes when you take the sex away. Does he stick around? Is he still there when you look nothing like the beautiful woman he fell for? Is he willing to be your safety blanket when you feel weak? Does he see all of you instead of the made-up version of yourself that you present to the world? If he is, then maybe that quote is right, maybe it’s time to stop accepting good enough and start demanding excellence; if you wouldn’t recommend him to a friend then he isn’t worth your time.

While I may not have picked Mr. Unexpected for myself; he’s not my type not even a little, but, he cares about me in ways that I had forgotten were possible. And, when it comes down to it, who doesn’t want a boy who will lie in bed with you and watch Vampire Diaries all day?

The talk

By Shannon Hunter
This article was originally published on November 8, 2012.

We were going to talk, we were going to lay it all out and figure out where we stood. I swear we were. But we didn’t and I’m OK with that.

Sunday came and went and instead of forcing the awkward conversation I’m not sure I want to have we enjoyed ourselves. We went on one of those really great dates that starts in the early afternoon and bleeds into the next day. We went to the Designing 007 exhibit at the Lightbox, we had dinner and discussed the merits of unicorns versus Ninja Turtles, then we went to see Wreck-It Ralph and when I finally fell asleep in his arms none of the words I had wanted to say seemed to matter.

At first I was upset. I like to plan things and I follow through on those plans; I had our talk all laid out in my head, I was prepared for any outcome.

I thought that not having the “where is this going” chat would leave me full of uncertainty; I thought that I’d be a mess of a human being constantly questioning what we were doing, but I’m not.

Actions speak so much louder than words and talk or no talk I know that he’s mine. He holds my hand as we walk down the street, he takes the time to see me and unlike all those that came before he doesn’t leave me questioning his commitment to me. I feel safe with him.

Mr. Unexpected is not who I would pick for me but he’s right for me.

It has taken me a long time to realize what I need from the man in my life. I’ve put up with bad behaviour, I’ve made excuses for broken promises and worst of all I’ve let myself be an option rather than a priority.

Mr. Unexpected cares about me and he shows me almost every day. He doesn’t try and keep me at arm’s length, he doesn’t let me get away with being evasive and he accepts all of me whether that is the weird nerdy girl, the workaholic or the sex columnist he takes me exactly as I am.

While there are parts of me that still want to have that talk I think that his actions speak volumes, the problem wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk it was that he’s been saying it to me the whole time and I haven’t been paying attention. He surprised me on a Sunday with movies and an ice capp, he sat with me for a week while I was sick and trying desperately to feel better and he never made me feel like it was a chore.

Sometimes we spend so much time talking that we forget to listen to the people around us. Mr. Unexpected didn’t force the conversation on Sunday because we were having a blast together and there was no need to talk that out – we were already living it.

How to throw a wine and cheese party

By Nicola Burrows

Looking to pull together a sophisticated and savvy bash for you and a few friends? Throw a wine and cheese party they will never forget. This delectable duo is perfect when paired together for an early or late night get together.  Here are a few tips on planning the perfect wine and cheese party.

How to Plan

Because wine and cheese can get expensive, it’s best to keep your guest list to a minimum. Once you have your head count, write down a few of the wines you’d like to have available. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Bordeaux and Sparkling Wine are deemed to be among the top choices so start pairing each of them with the comparative cheese. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Sparkling wines go well with mild cheeses.
  • Acidic wines like a Pinot Grigio go best with soft cheeses as they help cut the fat and expose the flavours of the cheese.
  • Full bodied reds and chardonnays taste best with rich cheeses. Think brie or camembert.
  • Red wines are suited with strong flavoured cheeses like four-year aged cheddars or parmesan.


Cocktail Appetizers

To complement your wine and cheese pairings it’s important to serve a few other appetizers guests can nibble on. You can also create a spread of bread and olive oil or smoked meats. Keep all appetizers to cocktail size and keep your plates full of tasty snacks.

Wine Tasting Tips

Be sure to have guests taste whites before reds; the full bodied tannins of the reds will confuse taste buds to the sweetness of the whites. You may also want to have some recyclable dixie cups on hand to serve and sip from. Whenever guests swap to a new wine, make sure they use a fresh glass to avoid mixing the wines and tastes.

Building Your Cheese Plate

To create the perfect plate of cheese, start with several trays or dishes. Place the soft cheeses on one plate and harder ones on another. Be sure to have one knife available for each cheese, as using a knife for multiple brands will result in flavour mixing. Also, in front of each cheese, place a small handmade label describing the cheese and what wine complements what cheese. This will help educate guests on the perfect wine cheese pairings.

Thinking like a man? Male DNA found in female brains

By Hanna Mohammed

The phrase act like a lady and think like a man has taken on new meaning. A Canadian researcher has discovered for the first time that the female brain contains prominent male DNA.

Researchers have discovered that the male DNA found in women’s brains most likely come from cells developed in a pregnancy with a baby boy.

During pregnancy, cells are exchanged between mother and fetus. After pregnancy, females retain a small number of cells from the fetus.

Women who have never been pregnant can also acquire male DNA from sharing the mother’s womb with a male twin. It was also found that male DNA could be acquired from non-radiated blood transfusions.

The finding suggests that if the male DNA can infiltrate the female brain then it can possibly have masculinizing effects on the female.

Scientists had previously found evidence of male microchimerisms in the blood, bone marrow, liver and other tissues of women, but never before had they realized that cells could cross the blood-brain barrier and thus live in the brain potentially for decades.

In an unexpected finding, researchers have also found that women with Alzheimer’s disease had less male DNA in their brains.

Women from the ages 37 to 59 were tested and 63 per cent had traces of male DNA in multiple regions of the brain.

Researchers have discovered the mommy gene

by Hanna Mohammed

Have you always wanted to be a mom? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you possess the mommy gene.

In a study done by researchers at Rockefeller University, scientists have determined that a single gene exists that could be responsible for motivating mothers to protect, feed and raise their young.

The findings suggest that there could be a biological reason for why some women are maternal, while others seem cold or indifferent towards wanting to have children.

Researchers theorize that young girl’s who play with dolls and show an inclination to nurture could have been born with the mommy gene.

Some remain skeptical of the gene’s link to parenting.

Get ready to move

By Chellie Mejia, B.Sc.

Figuring out whether or not you’re ready to buy a house is a huge task; so it’s not surprising that most of the meetings I have every week are with couples and families who aren’t quite sure whether or not they should take that next big step. Whether I’m talking to renters who are aiming to make their first purchase, or home owners looking to downsize, the decision to buy is a big one to make, and not one that should be taken lightly.

What I’ve started doing to aid in that decision making process is engaging my clients in what I call a client interview. I’ve noticed that there are signs that indicate whether or not they’re ready to move forward, and things that I can do to make sure that they have the tools and the information they need to be able to make that transition.

Firstly, I look for clients who have the money together for a down payment and closing costs.  I find that closing costs is something often forgotten or unknown, particularly for first time home buyers. A down payment typically ranges anywhere from 5-20 per cent of the purchase price of the property, but closing costs include things like taxes and title insurance.

I also look for clients who have some knowledge of today’s market. Sometimes that takes a little teaching on my part, but it is absolutely necessary. Know what the going rate is for houses in the neighbourhoods that you’re eyeing and have a realistic view of what type of property to expect for the money you intend to spend. It’s much less heartbreaking than finding the home of your dreams and realizing it’s $200,000 outside of your budget.

This goes hand in hand with knowing how much you can carry as a monthly mortgage payment.  The general rule is that your mortgage payment be less than or equal to about 25 per cent of your gross monthly income. Clients who have a full understanding of their finances and how much they can afford to spend on their home are doing their homework.

A little prep work to make sure that their credit is in good shape is also important. Potential lenders who will be issuing mortgages will view your credit history to determine interest rates or even whether or not they’re willing to provide a loan. It costs about $30 to pull your own credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union), so really, what’s an additional hundred dollars spent if it means saving potential thousands in interest rates on a mortgaged home.

My end goal is to have clients who are excited and happy about the purchases they’ve made; so I like to make sure there are no surprises. Making sure that they’re knowledgeable about the additional expenses that come with owning a home―homeowners insurance, utility bills, maintenance costs, etc.― is essential.

All in all, figuring out whether or not a client is ready to move can be a daunting task, for me and for them! But doing the prep work and making sure that everything is lined up to make the process go as smoothly as possible can make the end result oh so blissful, and totally worth the work.

Diane Baker Mason: Horses and hotels

By Diane Baker Mason
This article was originally published on November 23, 2012.

Toronto media reported this morning on the arrival of a horse named Marty in the lobby of Toronto’s posh Royal York Hotel. Marty stood patiently on the carpet while a crowd of hollering humans waved hats and cameras at him. He was a good sport about it all.

On the other hand, many Torontonians were not. There were cries of outrage over the potential damage and injury to persons and property, and the Royal York barred its doors to the mob of Calgarians at its gates.

Eventually, though, the great hall gave up the fight and opened its doors. In walked Marty. He then walked right out again. And in the aftermath, there are reports of continued Torontonian grumbling. The mighty Royal York should never have permitted that filthy beast and its hillbilly horde to cross its noble threshold.

Well, if there was ever a tale that summed up why Torontonians have a reputation for being no fun at a party, it’s the one of the Horse in the Holy Hotel. Imagine what will happen if the Calgarians gallop Marty around the playing field at Sunday’s Grey Cup. Maybe Toronto will call in its mounted unit. Jousting, anyone?

#TOpoli with Thomson Panel: Travis Myers, Ashley Csanady, Conrad Black (Part 4)

Join host Sarah Thomson discussing the week’s hottest issues with Toronto’s political panel. Top #TOpoli journalists Ashley Csanady of Queen’s Park Briefing and Travis Myers of Women’s Post are joined this week by Lord Conrad Black.

In the final portion of the show Conrad Black lets us know what he really thinks of Rob Ford’s battle with the media and we learn the difference between how Conrad and Sarah define the term ‘bully’ while Ashley and Travis dissect the winning chances of some contenders in the upcoming municipal election.

LIST IT: Use lists to organize and de-stress your life

Living in the world today I’ve noticed that it is very easy to become overwhelmed. Everything can seem as if it is adding pressure to your already chaotic existence: family, friends, remembering the name of the co-worker sitting beside you (you know the one with the “hang in there” cat poster and the overbite). How does one juggle all of the demanding schedules, hectic lifestyle choices and keep up with the latest trends in socio-political concerns of third world nations? Lists!

I have found that a simple list can make me feel like a goddess! Athena, eat your heart out! Making the list will ensure several things:

i) that a record has been made of what needs to be done

ii) that I will not forget my goals

iii) that I can cross something off when I have finished it. (See what I did there? I made atiny list!)

I must make a confession though, I cheat at lists. Sometimes when no one is looking, I add things that I have already completed down on the list. I do that or I add things I will be doing regardless of time constraints. For example, if the list reads: do dishes, walk dog, write article for Women’s Post, I may (read: do) add items like: make tea, brush teeth and breathe. Yes, they are things I would (hopefully) do without reminders, but crossing something off of a list feels so good. Why would I deny myself that pleasure? In cases of something like writing down the word “breathe”, it serves as a good reminder to catch my breath amidst the rat race.

Focusing your goals by writing them down is a great way to check in with yourself as well as to what those goals really are, whether they be doing laundry or patching a rift in the space-time continuum.

All joking aside, life can become terribly overwhelming when we look at it as a whole. Lists help compartmentalize and help with the realization that it is our tiny victories that lead to the bigger ones, and that what may appear to be the most daunting of tasks can be overcome with smaller steps.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch the epic 2007 thriller The Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

To Do:

Write Article about lists.

Make inappropriate jokes about lists.


Is mixed income housing a good idea?

New condominium developments have been popping up all over the downtown core with those who possess a high income in mind. But there is another condo market developing quietly in Toronto. Recent downsizing in the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) has led to the creation of numerous mixed-income housing projects. The goal of the Rob Ford administration is to remove the stigma of living in government housing. No longer will ‘these people’ be shoved into Toronto’s ‘ghetto-ized’ communities.

However, I am forced to ask: does this really work?

Will this do anything to actually ameliorate the poverty in Toronto?

It is a troubling feature of many large North American cities that the last quarter century of capital development has contributed to a sense of social isolation. We develop separate spaces for people of varying household incomes, places dedicated to senior citizens, singles’ communities, and much, much more.

Most concerning about this trend is the isolation of those living in poverty. We have constructed entire communities wholly populated by people who live there for no other reason than they cannot afford to live elsewhere. These are ghettos defined by poverty, and sometimes race, and marked by sub-par public services and facilities, as well as limited opportunity for jobs, recreation, and education.

As such, it makes sense for the decision makers in the Mayor’s office to attempt to recapture much of the social diversity that is so important to what Torontonians mean when they say “urban”. A key aspect to this is a policy the Mayor has long supported, where residents of low-income families and neighbourhoods are given the opportunity to receive rent subsidies so that they may be used in middle-income neighbourhoods.

The alternative approach has been the plan that the Mayor has actually chosen to implement; that of redeveloping public housing projects to turn them into mixed-income neighbourhoods. Most notably, we see this occurring in Regent Park, best known as Canada’s first public housing neighbourhood.

Proponents of mixed-income housing have offered numerous reasons why mixed-income neighbourhoods are better for low income individuals and families. Their reasons include: a middle-class presence can build social capital, provide salutary role-models, deter criminals, and make it more likely that a good level of public services and facilities will be provided by local government.

However, opponents are critical of the notion that these programs deprive already distressed neighbourhoods of their most capable residents, on the grounds that it is they who are most likely to be motivated or able to take advantage of opportunities to move elsewhere. Opponents believe this contributes to gentrification and displacement of the poor.

Both arguments are valid. However, they also both ignore the fact that these programs actually do very little to pull people out of poverty. There may be the potential to remove the stigma put on individuals by living in poverty stricken communities. However, issues related to poverty cannot truly be solved by adjusting the tenancy of a handful of TCHC buildings. There is an urgent need for government to address the issues of hopelessness and drowning that comes with poverty. Part of this is embracing the fine work being done by municipal corporations like the TCHC.