February 2014


How I lost my husband on Valentine’s Day

Boys like video games. Turns out, when they grow up and become men, they still like video games – trust me, I know. I made a dreadful mistake two years ago and I am still paying the price for it. As the devoted and loving wife that I am, I carefully analyzed different presents for Valentine’s Day that would bring my husband the most joy. Then, I foolishly settled on the most evil of them all. I presented my husband with, what I thought at the time, would be the best Valentine’s Day present ever: I bought him a Play Station 3 (PS3).

As he opened his present on February 14, my husband’s face lit up and in that moment, he absolutely worshipped me. In many ways, it really was the best present ever – but only for him. For me, it was a death sentence. I had dug my own marital grave; I had flung my husband into the arms of the enemy.

The initial outburst of love was to be the last emotion I ever drew from my husband. From then on, all of his affections were devoted to the dreaded machine. Day in and day out, the only thing that mattered was the PS3. I became completely secondary. The only words I would hear uttered in my direction now were “Get out of the way.”

Even when we had company at home, I never had company. Everybody who walked through the doors of our home was roped in by the magic of the malicious PS3. Initially, I tried my very best to be part of the merriment, but try as I may to befriend the enemy, the enemy hated me. I was absolutely no good at any game, and rather than spending some time with my husband, I ended up securing his wrath because I made a terrible teammate.

Ladies, take it from me, that fleeting moment of your husband’s adoration when you hand him the gaming console is not worth the lifetime of agony that you will undoubtedly face after you become a nonexistent entity in front of the Play Station.

There are much better gifts out there, more suited to both of you this Valentine’s Day, than a gaming console. Go with a wallet or cologne this year. Subsidize the gift by very generously offering your husband the opportunity to go to his friend’s house to play Xbox or Play Station. This would make the perfect gift.

Do not fool yourself into thinking that buying your husband a gaming console will secure his adoration for your forever.

Take it from a Play Station Widow, we live a hard life and you do not want to join the club.

Follow Zahra on Twitter at @zahrapeer.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Find love for a good cause before Valentine’s Day


I normally use my weekly column to share my relationship fails, successes and drama; sometimes I share my friend’s stories too, but mostly I use this space to talk about the love in my life. Today I want to share with you an event that I’ve been running for the past four years, #LoveAHeart. Love a Heart is a bachelor/bachelorette auction for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. So if you’re single and need a date or if you’re taken and need something interesting to do the night before V-Day, then come out, have a drink or two, and support a great cause.

Love a Heart was born in a coffee shop four years ago. Our first year was a smashing success raising over $8,000 for The Heart & Stroke Foundation. Since that first year we’ve raised over $30,000 for the HSF and I like to think that we’ve saved at least one life. This year I’m dedicating the money from the event to my mother’s brother, Christopher “Chris” Charles Francis Masterson. He died of a heart attack on November 3, 2013 at 55, which is far too young to die of anything let alone a heart attack. So the money that we raise will be donated in Chris’ name as a small tribute to the uncle I barely knew and the mother I love dearly.

We’re upping the ante this year: our attendees will be treated to wine samples, cupcakes, and a photo booth from Snapshot Magnets that prints out magnets that you can take home with you. I imagine I’ll probably chug back a glass of bubbly and a cupcake before the whole thing starts and I stop having time to do anything but run around.

Two of my favourite women in the world will be hosting, Nat & Marie, these social media rockstars are going to bring the fun in. Together these powerhouses have hosted some of Toronto’s most exciting events, interviewed some of the most important people on the Internet including the fine folks of Epic Meal Time and Erik Martin (the General Manager of Reddit) and made my world just a little bit better by being in it. I look up to Nat & Marie, who are stunning, talented, intelligent women engaged to the loves of their lives and doing everything they set out to do. I aspire to be like them and I couldn’t be more proud to have them involved in my event.

If you need a Valentine’s Day date this year all of my bachelors and bachelorettes come with a date package, so the planning has already been done, and I personally guarantee that every person on the auction block is amazing in every way. We’ve got actors, reporters, social media unicorns (no gurus), singers, dancers, cheerleaders and so much more!

Love a Heart hasn’t had a serious love connection in the years past, but there’s something great about the idea of telling your kids that you met their dad when you bought him at an auction back in the day. Or maybe you go with the online dating story instead?

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Toronto Region Vision: All eyes on the future

What are we missing in Toronto?

That’s a great question, and not a hard one to answer. Transit, affordable housing, broader social programs, and steady finances at City Hall are some of the first things that come to mind. But Toronto’s issues stretch beyond the borders of our city, and the needs of the suburbs creep onto our streets with the commuter trains every morning.

What we’ve been missing in each municipality as we all scramble to solve our issues as if we are islands is one comprehensive vision for the region that encompasses the cities and towns of the golden horseshoe.

While we focus on our small problems we’re missing the bigger picture. We can’t wait any longer, we need a regional vision to head into the future.

Enter the Toronto Region Vision Summit. Leaders from each municipality, different levels of governance, the province, the private sector, planners, developers, and students all coming together to get to work on the ideas that will help us successfully move ahead as a region.

I can’t wait to see what is in store.


For more information visit

Taking a relationship break isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Country Boy and I have been quiet lately, with a new job for me and work being incredibly busy on his end. We simply haven’t had enough time to devote to each other. That being said, we’re not giving up on us, not even a little bit.

About a year and a half ago I was dating Model Boy. He was tall, gorgeous, and he made me feel like a queen, but he needed me to give him more space than I was willing to and my need for a constant connection pushed him away. Later, he popped back into my life and explained that he had had real feelings for me and if I had been able to give him the space he asked for, we would probably still be together.

As we get older, we learn from past experiences and as I spoke with Country Boy last night, I kept the past in mind and agreed that we should take the next couple of weeks to focus on our respective jobs and come back to each other when we can be more present in our relationship.

Country Boy and I have a lot in common, not least of which is an incredible passion for what we do we. Both of us tie our identities to our work and when work gets tough, it also becomes priority one. As we spoke, I could tell he was worried about asking for a little time to focus and when I told him that I supported him and wasn’t about to run away because of it, he seemed almost shocked.

Is it hard to go without seeing him for a couple weeks? Of course it is. But Country Boy has been so supportive of me; he’s talked me through the ups and downs of hunting for a new job, he listened to my crazy Love a Heart ramblings, and he has always been there to put a smile on my face. Right now he’s asking for my support and after all that he has done for me, I can’t say no. I can’t walk away just because things are getting a little more difficult.

How am I going to get through the time apart? The same way he is; I’m going to focus on work and knock the first few weeks out of the park. I’m going back home to Kingston for a weekend to reconnect with my best friend. I’m going to plan for the reunion, which thanks to a good friend will involve a Leafs game in late March.

My life was amazing before Country Boy and it will continue to be so throughout his absence. I’ll admit though, that I am already counting down the days to our reunion and what it will feel like to be in his arms again… and (obviously) the teenager-esque making out that will likely ensue in my elevator.

This article was previously published on February 24, 2012.


Can you be friends with your co-workers?

by Nicole Duquete

Getting along with the people you work with certainly makes the day more pleasant and go by a lot quicker, but sometimes it is difficult to know if you’ve crossed the line between being just co-workers and being friends.

Recently, I have had a couple of co-workers whom I’ve gotten along with really well. It was a new experience for me to work with people my own age, with similar interests, and with whom I could talk freely about my life outside of work. At first, I wasn’t sure how to react to the situation. I wasn’t sure if it was okay to be seen discussing non-work related things at work, and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to ask someone I was friendly with to do work-related tasks for me. Luckily, my office is a relaxed environment, and I quickly found that it was easy to combine the professional and personal sides of my relationships with my co-workers. I still wonder, though, what the difference is between being friends and being colleagues who are friendly.

I think the difference lies in whether or not you spend time together outside of work. I was wary of crossing that imaginary line because I thought that, even if we were not at work, the experience of spending time with a co-worker would make my time off feel like work. But, the first time I crossed the line occurred organically. She needed a new outfit for a job interview, so we went shopping. Neither of us found it to be a forced, nor awkward experience. It gave us a chance to vent about work in a neutral setting, and to bond over shopping – the universal female bonding experience. Spending time together outside of work made it clear that we were no longer just co-workers, but now that my friend has started her new job, and we are no longer co-workers, it is clear that we have a true friendship that simply sprang from a work relationship.

My friendship with my colleague developed naturally, but what about when a co-worker makes unwanted advances towards friendship? Another of my co-workers, who I am not particularly fond of, has frequently attempted to friend me on Facebook, and to get assignments which would have us working closely together. I have done my best to continually be polite and pleasant to her, but I have still ignored her friend requests, and dodged working with her as much as possible. It reminds me how lucky it is to be able to develop a friendship with a co-worker because personal compatibility has nothing to do with hiring practices, so one lousy co-worker is a fair trade to find one good one.

Prevent the winter blahs with raw foods

by Kait Fowlie

A raw diet can have transformation effects: weight loss, heightened senses, change in appetite, and glowing skin and hair, to name a few. While all this sounds desirable enough, raw food can be off putting. Many people assume its preparation is time consuming, complicated, and expensive. But even if you’re a grab-an-apple as you gracefully run out the door kind of snacker, you can still reap the benefits of many enzyme packed, cancer fighting foods. All you need is a passion for health and some ingenuity.

As a first-time raw food participant, I was skeptical. I have two jobs to focus on, a budget to stay on track with, and a social life I’d like to maintain. In other words, I can’t spend hours in my tiny kitchen concocting raw creations. Thus, I was happy to discover that embarking on a raw food cleanse would not compromise my schedule, my kitchen, or my wallet.

After a bit of research and a few trips to some different health food stores, I learned that eating raw is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Toronto has options aplenty. Our growing selection of city-made brands make raw snacking easy, delicious, and affordable. There are also numerous helpful resources for the bolder raw enthusiast who wants to try their hand at making their own raw goods. This is a task that varies in degrees of difficulty. Whipping up a fruit smoothie or salad, for example, doesn’t require advanced tools or a great deal of skill.

For this reason, I spend the first few days of my raw cleanse whipping up some dark leafy bowls with soaked nuts, legumes and unrefined oils. I supplement this with some snacks made by the pros (granola bars, crackers, and dips) from my neighbourhood health food store. Rich and sweet, each bite of these grab-and-go treats packs a flavour punch owing to a dried fruit and nut content.

After only three days of eating raw, I feel lighter, somehow brighter, and quicker on my feet.  Here’s why: raw food contains live enzymes which literally makes it digests itself inside the stomach, giving the body an extra opportunity to work on other processes like repairing cells, absorbing nutrients, and cleansing toxins. All of this is adds up to an immune system of steel.  In general, the less often your digestive tract has to slug through heavily processed foods and the more energy it gets to devote to immune building processes, the better.

Kudos to any daring soul willing to tackle a total raw cleanse, because by day five, my desire for anything with a doughy texture starts to outweigh my newfound physical appreciation. There are some pretty convincing bread substitutes as well as creamy, cashew based dips, but the texture of a baked good is tricky to replicate. I last a week of raw and pat myself on the back.

I really notice a difference in the way I feel when I start eating processed foods again – headachy and sluggish. Every small bite has an effect on the body’s pH level. Consuming raw food helps keep that pH level on the alkaline side of things, (as opposed to acidic, which is found in processed and fatty foods). These levels have an enormous impact on our health, ranging from the way our bodies feel when we wake up in the morning to our ability to fight off disease in the long term. All science aside, through the act of preparing food every day and being sure that my body is the only system processing it definitely made my week a little more mindful. To me, that deeper connection is the best part of eating raw.

How to cook with kids in the kitchen without going insane

by Deborah Lowther

The thought of cooking with my three kids in the kitchen is usually more romantic than actually cooking with my kids in the kitchen! The extra patience required, equally dividing all tasks, the extra mess, the extra time … and yet, there is no extra help with the dishes.

Despite the extra effort and the cost in time and patience, I still believe it is important to cook with my kids. They love spending the time with Mom, and for me it’s a chance to teach them about more than just preparing food.  The measuring that is involved in baking is a fun math lesson, finding 1/2 and adding 1/4 is Grade 3 level stuff. The mixing of different ingredients, whether they are healthy or not and how they change shape. Texture in the oven is science they can relate to. Showing them the difference between folding, stirring, and whipping is like a gym workout for little arms.

It’s easy to find helpers when I am making brownies, but lately I have been getting extra help with dinner too.  There are a few tips that make kids in the kitchen fun at our house and it begins with the obvious of first washing those little hands! Investing in some kid-friendly tools for the job make them eager to try it. My kids love having their own apron and getting to use brightly coloured measuring spoons and plastic measuring cups.  I bought some cutters made for kids, so they can handle cubing cheese, slicing cucumbers and make shapes with carrots.  Giving kids fun jobs in the kitchen is the secret to success.

Teach them the basics, like the difference between stirring liquid with small circles and folding ingredients together lightly.  Show them how to hold the bowl and gently mix flour and cinnamon together without it ending up on the floor.  Let them have a crack at cracking eggs, give them their own small bowl and try one egg at a time, removing the broken shells as you go!

It was get messy at the start, but it became an opportunity to show them how to be a clean chef and tidy up as they go.  Add in some elements they will enjoy, like using chocolate chips to make smiley faces on the top of the banana muffins, or make a tree out of broccoli on the veggie tray.  I ask for their input when making a hearty soup, they can decide which noodles would they like, which veggies, and what type of beans go in.  I always take photos of your fun together, nothing is cuter than a 4 year old at the kitchen counter.

The pride the kids feel when the family sits down to a meal they helped make is immeasurable. My 4-year old recently made an entire chicken and veggie lasagna. I cooked the noodles and the meat and shredded cheese while she added the carrots, peas, corn, zucchini, mixed all the ingredients, and assembled the entire dish. She was so proud at dinner!

Kids are eager to learn and have fun in the kitchen.  Who knows, a couple lessons from Mom today, might just turn into breakfast in bed tomorrow!

Follow Deborah on Twitter at @KidsGummyMum.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.