April 2014


GALLERY: Hot trends for spring

As the dreaded snow finally comes to an end, we can look forward to the exquisite Spring fashions that await us. This season is all about looking soft and feminine, which is deal for refined, yet spirited ladies. Overall, we are also seeing a variety floral-themes, flirty A-line skirts and crisp oxford shirts. These lovely classic staples make it easy for every woman to stay fashionable and fabulous this season.

floral 2Florals

For Spring, designers are embracing a light, floral touch to a variety of ensembles. Rebecca Taylor shows this trend stunningly with a pink collared shirt and cropped trousers. Oscar de la Renta reveals a more playful interpretation of this floral motif with a lime green  A-line dress with white lace at the sleeves. These gracefully feminine designs are an excellent way to feel vibrant at any patio lunch or outdoor gathering.




sheersSheers & Layers

For a subtle flash of skin, sheers are a great way to look fresh and stylish . Calvin Klein reveals a sporty take on this trend, showing a sheer oversized tee shirt with a pleated white skirt. You can layer a bandeau underneath or for a more conservative touch, you may wear a full camisole. This trend can be easily paired with gladiator sandals or neutral pumps for an chic and polished touch.







Diving into the light spirit of Spring is easy with crisp pastel hues . This season, the runways are flooded with baby blues, yellows, peaches, and mints. And there is no need to worry about coordinating separate pieces because you’re encouraged to match your tops and bottoms. This matchy-matchy trend is uber-vogue and offers a crisp daytime look.


midi maxiMidi Skirts & Maxi Dresses

This season, we are embracing skirts full-throttle with a keen interest in a flowing, airy look. The maxi dress is still going strong. It offers a goddess-like vibe and is ideal for  a fashionable ladies who want to cover-up. This trend also offers a great combination of comfort and style. Known for its weather-versatility, the maxi dress is long enough for chilly evenings, yet also light enough for humid days.  Women often pair also a loose cardigan or light scarf with the maxi dress, giving the outfit more complexity.

For ladies who don’t mind flashing a little more leg, the midi skirt is also a popular option. From sassy breezy lace to structured versions, the midi skirt comes in a variety of fabrics and shapes to suit your unique body type. You can pair this look with a chic leather jacket to add a touch of edge to this sweet ensemble.



Blazers are still hot, hot, hot! They are perfect for adding structure and refinement to those light spring dresses. In terms of color, white and black blazers are a safe and classic option. However, blazers in the pastel-color range are another popular choice as brilliantly shown by British super model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at the 2014 Vogue Festival. The 26-year-old bombshell showed off her curves in a Marios Schwab mini dress with a soft pink pastel blazer.





Rachel Mara’s Slidely Gallery by Slidely Photo Gallery

Biker chick? More like biker chic

Leah Kelemen is a Women’s Post contributor and budding fashionista.

As the great granddaughter of the motorcycle legend William G. Davidson – known for the highly successful company Harley Davidson – there was no doubt that Karen Davidson would become a prodigy herself.

Being surrounded by motorcycles during her upbringing, and having prototypes of the company’s latest inventions constantly surrounding her, there was a clear path towards motor sports in her future. Beginning to ride at the tender age of nine, Karen was ready to take women’s riding to the next level.

Davidson had no plan of working for the family company until a great opportunity came knocking at her door. As a fashion design graduate and after working in the industry for many years, Karen was offered the position of Creative Director, General Merchandise for Harley Davidson Motor Company in 1989. As Karen entered the fashion scene atDavidson, she became the mastermind behind their leather collections and accessories for the newly introduced brand MotorClothes. To salute her great accomplishments, Karen was awarded an industry award by the Council of Fashion Designers of New York for her fashion influence in 1991.

The amount of women giving riding a try is remarkable. There has been an increase in the number of women on motorcycles today as compared with years ago, and Karen and Harley Davidson Motor Company are to thank. With their continued initiatives and events geared towards women learning more about riding, it grants women the ability to gain that sense of empowerment to do whatever they wish. This supports that paradigm shift – it is no longer a man’s world – and Karen surely agrees with that. She encourages women to learn more about riding and be the influencers. “It’s all about freedom and venture,” says Davidson.

When asked how she has gone about marketing Davidson towards women, Karen replies, “I wanted to reshape Harley Davidson apparel with a combination of form, fit, and function with the addition of colour and graphics.” Karen adds she is greatly influenced by women riders when designing new merchandise as these women are the ones whom represent the feminine side of the brand. “I’m also very much influenced by the more technical side of designing with new fabrications and embellished treatments,” Karen continues.

Davidson’s creations have steered clear of the typical stereotype of female riders from being “butch” and have been broadened to appeal to all women. As always, the colour pink is the definition of pure femininity and has further been incorporated into the women’s side of the brand. Pink Label was introduced as a charitable sector of MotorClothes with a percentage of all proceeds donated to breast cancer research.

The consumers of MotorClothes are 100 per cent behind the product and are very loyal to the brand, witness when in only one day, 1,800 jackets were sold; pure customer loyalty at its finest.

Not only do the consumers of Harley Davidson stay devoted to the brand, but they also continue to show support by attending charitable functions held by the company such as the upcoming 2nd annualPrecious Metal Gala. This exciting event is in partnership with Rethink Breast Cancer and boasts everything that has to do with women and riding while raising awareness and donations for the organization. This exhilarating evening allows women to learn about motorcycling from a feminine perspective and to participate in interactive activities like starring in your very own adventuring riding scene.

“I want women to be inspired by other women and for them to encourage one another to try riding out,” says Davidson. She looks at this event as being inspirational for women because it allows them to ask each other questions and socially network.

A final word from Karen, “If you’re curious about riding, there is only one thing to tell yourself: If they can do it, I can do it!”

The Precious Metal Gala will be held May 11 in Toronto’s Distillery District. Go to to learn more about this invigorating evening just for women.

Big things from little stories

By Marie “Mings” Nicola
Former Women’s Post’s Community Manager, Social Media Gal & Food Journalist.

A late rising sun lit Canada’s largest city while the constant hum of passing traffic made International Woman’s Day seem no different than any other. By mid-morning an impetuous passing thought had manifested into a trending conversation on Twitter. Before we could prepare, legions of North America’s most respected and influential women were participating in Women’s Post’s first social media experiment. In honour of women, hundreds of men and women responded to one simple question: What woman onTwitter inspires you the most.

The nominees flooded in from every possible area of interest: fashion, art, design, politics, business, writers, bloggers, travelers, philanthropists, techies, athletes, music, and moms. Consistent with the popular naming convention born of Twitter, we named this ensemble of over 100 social media savvy madams, “TWomen.” We even compiled aTwitter list featuring the tweets of the nominees. If the tweets of these women are inspirational, our list’s feed should theoretically capture the imagination of its subscribers.

However, beyond the list and the fleeting joy of seeing one’s praises exalted in the confined space of 140 characters, we at Women’s Post wanted to celebrate the top three nominees. Through careful consideration and hours of examination we’ve narrowed the list down to three stand-out Canadian TWomen who have set an example as leaders who have embraced new technology and social media.

@YummyMummyClub / Real Name: Erica Ehm / CEO of / Why we like her: Former MuchMusic VJ all grown up and being the National Symbol for Neo-Motherhood in Canada. / Tweets are off the cuff and often relate back to her website. Erica has an ability for communication and inspiring moms to be women first. / Notable Tweet: “Thanks for taking our Survey on Why Mother’s Day Sucks. Some great answers. If not, share your thoughts.”

@TanjaTiziana / Real Name: Tanja Tiziana / An award winning Toronto-based photographer for / Why we like her: Her interest in past eras and how she translates that through her images. We also like her other site where she publishes found slides that once belonged to other people. / Tweets paint pictures and illustrate thoughts that relate to her art. / Notable Tweet: “On a related note, it’s a real shame cameras aren’t permitted in casinos. There is *so* much quality material.”

@MissRogue / Real Name: Tara Hunt / Considered to be one of the most influential women in technology according to Fast Company Magazine, 2009, Tara is an online marketer, author, public speaker known for engaging online communities / Why we like her: Before settling in Montreal, Tara undertook a cross North American karaoke adventure which landed her in Quebec. That’s one heck of a moving parade! / Tweets are thought provoking, human, and diverse. Tara is not afraid to call a spade a spade, including in politics. She also has some great quotes that pop up when we need motivation the most. / Notable Tweet: “It’s a sad day when ‘politics’ plays a bigger role in policy decisions than actually doing what is right for the public.”

Honourable Mentions:

@LiisW – Model and LouLou blogger. We adore her for being an advocate for diversity in fashion. Founder of Walk the Catwalk.

@AntoniaZ – One of Toronto Star’s bloggers and columnists. Best thing about Antonia: her frequently updated stream of world affairs. She keeps us informed and on our toes.

@SarahPrevette – Founder of, Upinion, Wired Wednesday, Social Mastermind and the upcoming BreakOut Camp as well as being the Twestival Organizer for Toronto.

@ArleneStein – Founder of Terroir and pivotal supporter of the locavore movement.

@Susanattfi – Executive Director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator, a ground-breaking concept soon to spread across the world.

@Miss604 – Travel writer, blogger, podcaster co-founder of @sixty4media and co-author of blogging to drive business. She continued tweeting from Whistler, keeping us updated on the Paraolympics when no one else seemed to care and we loved her for it.


Horrible bosses: The ‘weak dictator’ micromanages while forgetting to macromanage

Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

Bob was a control freak. He was also incompetent – a “weak dictator” – the worst of all possible workplace bosses.

Bob ran a music magazine I was nominally employed at in the early 1990s after journalism school. I wrote features on non-musical subjects and helped proofread text. I was in the office quite a bit, which gave me a close-up look at how Bob operated.

As publisher of the magazine, Bob insisted that all decisions large and small be run by him. Any calls – be they advertising, editorial, circulation, promotion or marketing related – went to him directly. In the middle of production, he would stop everything to deal with extremely minor issues, such as phoning a record reviewer about what CDs had recently come into the office; duties that should have been handled by a sub-editor, leaving Bob to deal with “big picture” issues, such as paying the printer.

The magazine had no real hierarchy. Bob was the boss and everyone else was a minion, with no real job title or clear understanding of their responsibilities. The question, “Who does what?” could be answered with the refrain: “Bob does everything. We just follow his orders.”

All of this would have been tolerable had Bob been a talented publisher. Alas, he wasn’t. In fact, he was downright awful. His editorials and articles were stilted and clunky, filled with bad puns and irrelevant tangents. He treated his staff poorly and forgot to pay them and was never quite sure which advertisers owed him money. If the magazine was short on stories, Bob would publish record company press releases as original content. His publication relied on an antiquated production system; the computers he used didn’t even have Spell Check, much less graphic design capabilities.

Bob’s managerial style maximized chaos and minimized initiative on the part of anyone but himself. Why stick your neck out, after all, when Bob insisted on making all the decisions? Work was one big bottle-neck after another as Bob tried to sort out what issues required his attention.

In political circles, Bob would have been known as a “weak dictator.”

A strong dictator also rules by fear and insists on taking responsibility for all workplace decisions. If the boss is good at what they do, however, if they produce profits and results, then their awful managerial skills can at least be tolerated. A strong dictator might not be a popular figure around the office, but they can be respected, even admired.

Think of your boss as a ship’s captain.

While a strong dictator runs the ship by fear and loathing, they always dock on time and ensure a pleasant voyage for their passengers, if not the crew. A weak dictator, on the other hand, would be so intent on yelling at the stewards for mismatching serviettes in the dining room that they fail to notice the iceberg-ahead. The poor sap steering the boat knows they’re headed towards disaster but has no authority to change course. Such a decision can only come from the top. And if the man at the top is consumed with trivialities, the ship will sink.

Which is exactly what happened to Bob’s magazine.

For a variety of issues, including erratic pay, a refusal to modernize the production process and Bob’s horrid leadership, employees began fleeing the magazine like rats on a doomed liner. In the end, Bob was reduced to running the magazine practically one-handed. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see how that situation played out. A few months after I quit, the magazine folded.

My time at Bob’s magazine wasn’t completely wasted. The magazine contained some of my earliest bylined articles outside of student newspapers. More importantly, it gave me an invaluable education in office dynamics, particularly the old workplace cliché that could have served as Bob’s epitaph: jack of all trades, master of none.

Going to a concert in a wheelchair? Here are the perks you might not know about

Loud music, flashing lights and an electric atmosphere are all found at a concert. But what is to be expected from these concerts when you suddenly have to attend them in a wheelchair? Not being able to stand on the barrier or join in a mosh pit may be downsides to the wheelchair lifestyle but when it comes to concerts there are many upsides.

Of course I wouldn’t advise going in a wheelchair just for the sake of it, but when your body decides it prefers a life on wheels taking advantage of the little perks is never a bad thing. I’ve spent all of my teenage life going to a ridiculous amount of gigs all over the country. From Tinie Tempha to My Chemical Romance, festivals to 200 capacity halls. And about 60% have been enjoyed standing up and leaping around. But for the other 40%, and this includes every festival I’ve been too a little genetic birdie has had to be taken into consideration.

Now to the perks.

1. Seating

Over the past three years I’ve tested a lot of wheelchair space. The advantage of sitting in the disabled area is 90% of the time your view is closer, uninterrupted, and at a good angle. If you pick the right block you can often be closer to the stage than most people standing. Normally sat right at the front and slightly higher up means no one can stand blocking your view, no matter how tall. I can only think of about 3 venues where the wheelchair seats were meanly placed. The main problem being the closest one they had were as far from the stage as physically possible.

2. Skipping the line

This doesn’t just apply to concerts, but it is handy when you by pass the hundreds of people lining out in the cold. It also means if your running late or need that extra half hour resting in your hotel room you don’t have to worry about missing the opening song. Often being taken in before doors open is a massive help to. Meaning you can comfortably  find your seat without trying to avoid the heels of excitable fans.

3. Free stuff

Now I understand that people often feel sorry for people in wheelchairs, but it can all get a bit over the top when roadies, stage hands and security guards pick you out of the crowd to give you free items. Not that I’m complaining. Over the past year or so I’ve got given five plectrums, four of which the band actually used. A towel from the stage, a poster, a workers back stage tour pass and a set list. Another free gift you get when in your disabled is a free carer. This is a great help as it means a ticket suddenly halves in price. Its true for most tickets to any events. And of course then theres the free parking, although this isn’t as dreamy as it sounds. As more often than not there just aren’t enough disabled parking bays. Meaning we have to begin the getting into a wheelchair in a normal tiny car space dance. The worst part of this is when one or more of these gold dust spaces are occupied by a car not wearing a blue badge. Annoyed hatred doesn’t even come close.

4. The concert itself

Nothing beats losing your self and your dignity in the engrossing thumps of blood bouncing rifts screaming from the amps. Completely forgetting for a second that your genetically mutated and nearly destroying your wheelchair from dancing. Nothing quite gives you the will or determination to take back control of your life and your body than watching people and bands living at a concert, knowing your as with them as much as you physically can, but soon you’ll be the one leading the living.


Stay tuned for more blog posts from Beth Morse.

The enduring allure of romance novels

By Marcie Zajdeman
Image from Have Your Cake and Read it Too.

If we take him at his word, people once told Paul McCartney “that the world had had enough of silly love songs.” But his own observations suggested to the contrary; he “looked around [and he saw] it wasn’t so.” I think you know the rest.

What about romance novels? Has the world had enough of these? Is this genre of literature out-dated and irrelevant; or, at best, retro and ironic – like playing Twister while drunk or bowling while buzzed? (But enough about my life.) Is the educated, sophisticated 2010’s career-woman drawn to these books in the same way that the housewife of the 1950’s purportedly was? The stats might surprise you.

According to Harlequin, 53 per cent of readers of romance literature have at least some college education and 45 per cent work full time. The average reader is likely to be married or cohabitating. Although the vast majority of readers are women, just fewer than 10 per cent are men. The market for romance novels is impervious to economic recessions and, by the 2000’s, romance was the most popular genre of modern literature

Lila DiPasqua’s debut collection, Awakened by a Kiss (Penguin Group/Berkley) is romance literature that incorporates two subgenres: erotic romance (sometimes called romantica) which blends romance and erotica, and historical. It is marketed as “steamy retellings of classic fairytales Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood.” And steamy it is: Who knew that childhood fairytales could have such charged subtexts?

Recasting fairytales as “fiery tales” is a clever concept. The author provides a “Historical Tidbit” at the beginning of the collection, grounding her collection in 17th century France during the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Indeed, the monarch is a character in all three stories, which illustrate, as the “Tidbit” informs, that his “glittering court was as salacious as it was elegant.” Charles Perrault, who wrote Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood (as well as Cinderella and other classic tales), lived in 17th century France during Louis XIV’s reign; and, as DiPasqua interprets as a lead-in to her “loosely based” retellings, wrote these stories during “this most wicked time.”

With $1.37 billion in North American sales of romance fiction in 2008 (Industry Statistics), Awakened by a Kiss will no doubt have a huge audience. So 2010’s women (and some men) are reading these novels, but why?

Perhaps it is because childhood constructs like “happily ever after” die hard. Seeking, finding, and giving full expression, erotic and otherwise, to romantic love is universal and timeless – like a classic Chanel flap bag. No matter how urbane or worldly women become, we won’t, or can’t, or shouldn’t be cynical when it comes to love.

This is the driver for reading these books, not the escape and fantasy needed as a reprieve from boredom and repression. Moreover, I am not certain that the 1950’s woman was more romantically and erotically frustrated and confined than her modern counterpart. The picture of June Cleaver vacuuming in her pearls suggests, on its face, a provincial life measured “in coffee spoons” as T.S. Eliot cautioned

against. But novels like Awakened by a Kiss show us that there is often more to childhood paradigms than meet the eye. I think our grandmothers were hipper and racier than it appeared, just more coy and cryptic about it. (Was it really the disciplining of their son that June was referring to when she said, repeatedly, “Ward, you were a little hard on the Beaver last night”?)

So is Awakened by a Kiss, and the genre of literature it represents, an anachronism? In the words of Paul McCartney, the patron saint of the sentimental, “I say it isn’t so. What’s wrong with that? I’d like to know.”

He’s… engaged

Melissa Ramos, CNP, D.Ac, is founder of SexyFoodTherapy and is a reknowned nutritionist.

The other morning I opened my Facebook, mindlessly scrolled through videos of people’s pets doing tricks and people’s party photos from the evening before. And that’s when I saw it…

“Congrats on your engagement! I’m sooooo happy for you too!!!”

The Ex-Fiance was engaged.

It’s tough when your ex gets hitched with the person he starting dating just weeks after you. So was I suffering from a bruised ego considering he asked her three years into it versus the four and a half it took with me? Yes. Did I do a quick Facebook stalk to see if I could get a glimpse of the ring? Absofuckinglutely.

I was acting like a crazy woman.

I had to get some perspective. I was confined to suburban depots rather than urban boutiques and most importantly, I wasn’t in love. My life was monotonous and I fear monotony as much as I fear Walmart or Ikea on a Sunday afternoon. So why care and what really is the point of asking, what if?

So, I went into the kitchen to emotionally eating, the right way.

4 large portobellos
2 packages herbed goat cheese
1 small package of black mission figs
1 bunch fresh spinach.
1/4 cup walnuts chopped
1/4 cup pecans chopped
1 red onion minced
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp honey
Panko crumbs as topping
Salt & pepper
Pinch of chili flakes

Preheat oven to 350.

Sautee onions and garlic until caramelized. Set aside.

Blanch spinach, drain excess water and chop fine. Place into a large mixing bowl with 2 packages of goat cheese, onions, garlic, nuts (but leave some aside for topping), chilli flakes, honey and salt. Gently fold in figs.

With a damp cloth brush mushrooms to remove dirt. Place on a parchment paper baking sheet and begin to fill with mixture and top with panko crumbs and left over nuts. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes until panko nut mixture browns.

In Chinese Medicine mushrooms have a lot of therapeutic benefits including boosting the immune system. Goat cheese is also easier to digest than regular dairy due to its smaller molecular size. Its creamy taste is yin-building and may help to calm those with an overactive, racing mind. Perfect!

As for the engagement? I’m happy for him. As for me? I have The Gentleman, and despite our growing pains, we’re doing great. I have Sexy Food Therapy that never would have existed had I not have left the Ex-Fiancé. So instead of looking back and wondering what if, look forward, and you’ll be able to realize that it all happened for a reason.

And, looking back to blue light specials and Swedish meat balls, it becomes clear as day…yes, we were really never meant to be.

Tunnel Toronto: Thomson unveils new leg of transit plan

Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson unveiled the latest portion of her Tunnel Toronto plan on Thursday calling for subway extensions on either end of the Line 4, the Sheppard subway line in Toronto’s north end, at a combined cost of $4.15 billion.

Previous announcements in Thomson’s Tunnel Toronto plan include a Yonge Street Relief Line at a cost of $10 billion, and a replacement of the Scarborough RT with underground LRT instead of subway at a cost of $2.4 billion dollars according to Thomson’s estimates.

“The next priority I am announcing in my Tunnel Toronto Plan calls for completing the Sheppard subway west from Yonge to University line ($1.4 billion) and east to Markham Road ($2.75 billion). Creating transit loops is key to successful transit and city planning and joining both ends of the Sheppard line is essential to creating a strong system,” said Thomson in a press release received Thursday.

Line 4, previously known as the Sheppard Line before the TTC’s new numbered name scheme came into effect this year, is Toronto’s newest subway line having been completed in 2002. The line currently comprises of five stations and has been the subject of criticism for lack of use due to poor connectivity to other transit hubs.

RECIPE: Pot roast with carrots and pearl onions

Makes 6 main-course servings

1 chuck blade roast, about 5 pounds
1 piece fatback with rind, about 2 pounds, optional
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped, if larding roast
4 cloves garlic, minced and then crushed to a paste, if larding roast
1 large onion, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
Bouquet garni
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth (page 316), reduced to 2 cups
3 slender carrots, peeled and sliced
One 10-ounce package pearl onions, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, drained, rinsed under cold water, and peeled

Trim away the silver skin and excess fat from the roast. Season all over with salt and pepper and set aside. Cut away the rind from the fatback and reserve the rind. Cut the fatback into sheets about 1/4 inch thick, then cut the sheets lengthwise into strips, or lardons, about 1/4 inch on each side. In a bowl, mix together the lardons, parsley, and minced garlic; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Place the roast in a shallow bowl and add the sliced onion, sliced large carrot, bouquet garni, crushed garlic, and wine. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the meat and vegetables from the marinade; reserve the wine and bouquet garni. Using a hinged larding needle, lard the roast with the lardons as shown on page 15.

Select a heavy ovenproof pot just large enough to hold the meat and line the bottom with the fatback rind, skin side up. Place the vegetables from the marinade on top of the rind, and put the roast on top of the vegetables. Place the pot in the oven and roast, uncovered, for about 11/2 hours, or until the meat releases juices that caramelize (but don’t burn) on the bottom of the pot.

Remove the pot from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 275°F. Remove any fat from the pot with a bulb baster or large spoon, and then add the broth and the wine and bouquet garni from the marinade. Bring to a gentle simmer on the stove top. Cover the pot with a sheet of aluminum foil, pressing it down slightly in the middle so that moisture will condense on its underside and drip down onto the exposed parts of the meat, and then with a lid.

Return the pot to the oven and braise the roast for 11/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the liquid is not boiling, and if it is, turn down the heat. Turn the roast over gently, so the meat that was above the liquid is now submerged, re-cover the pot with the foil and the lid, and continue to braise for about 1 hour longer, or until the roast is easily penetrated with a knife.

Transfer the roast to a smaller ovenproof pot, moving it gently so it doesn’t fall apart. Strain the braising liquid into a glass pitcher and skim off the fat with a ladle. Or, ideally, refrigerate the braising liquid at this point and then lift off the congealed fat in a single layer. Pour the degreased liquid into a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer, skimming off any fat or froth that rises to the surface, for about 30 minutes, or until reduced by about half. Meanwhile, raise the oven temperature to 450°F.

Pour the reduced liquid over the meat, and add the sliced slender carrots and pearl onions. Slide the pot, uncovered, into the oven and cook the roast, basting it every 10 minutes with the liquid, for about 30 minutes, or until the roast is covered with a shiny glaze and the carrot slices and pearl onions are tender.

Remove the roast from the oven. Using two spoons, serve in warmed soup plates surrounded with the braising liquid and topped with the carrot slices and pearl onions.

Variations: You can vary this recipe by using additional or different aromatic vegetables, such as onions or turnips; using cider, beer, or broth in  place of the wine for the braising liquid; trading out the thyme for marjoram in the bouquet garni; or garnishing with mushrooms, haricots verts, leeks, or other vegetables in place of the carrot slices and pearl onions.

Reprinted with permission from Meat: A Kitchen Education by James Peterson, copyright © 2010. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: James Peterson © 2010


The joy of birthdays (even when they aren’t yours)

Birthdays are literally my favourite thing. I get more excited for my birthday every year than I do for Christmas, I just love the idea of a day dedicated to you. Also, it comes with cake and any day that carries with it the assumption of cake is a good day.

Today is Boyfriend’s birthday and I think I’m more excited than he is because it’s time for me to win; Boyfriend is so good at giving gifts that it’s become a bit of a competition to see who can get the other the better gift, and since he won Christmas I have to win his birthday so that I can gloat about my championship for at least the next five months until our anniversary. This sounds twisted I know, birthdays shouldn’t be about winning; but I’m a competitive person and Boyfriend is so good at finding the perfect gift that I didn’t even know I wanted to now it’s my turn to blow his mind with my thoughtfulness!

When it came time to start thinking about birthday presents I wracked my brain to come up with something perfect and then I found it; FAO Schwarz in New York has an online Muppet workshop where you can design and order you own Muppet. Boyfriend who lost his mind when he discovered the original Muppet series on Netflix has always wanted his own Muppet but he’s never been able to get one made. It’s the perfect mix of childhood fantasy and wish fulfillment and I think for the first time since we started dating over a year and a half ago I may be able to beat him at gifting.

Every couple develops little rituals and pet names; as much as I love it when Boyfriend calls me a, “Wild Shannon.” Or does a ridiculous dance to music down the street or insists on singing, “Hey sexy lady, Shannons.” My favourite ritual is the competition we add to events always trying to make the other happier. Finding the perfect gift isn’t about spending the most money or going through the most effort it’s about getting to see that smile his face when he realizes that he got something he didn’t even know he wanted.

I’ve always loved finding the perfect gift for someone, when I was 13 I made my mother cry with a pair of diamond earrings, but it’s different with Boyfriend I want so much to make him happy and I use birthdays as an excuse to be extravagant. In this case it was designing a Muppet, shipping it to a friend’s place in New York and then having them ship it to Toronto to be honest though I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to top this one. Is there a nerd boy equivalent of a giant freaking diamond? Like a gold plated PlayStation or a comic signed by Stan Lee, these are thoughts for another day.

Today I will rest easy knowing that I’ve won, for now.