April 2014


RECIPE: Homemade cream eggs

We’re celebrating Recipe Week by finding our favourite recipes from the archives and some brand new favourites! Check out this treat from the Easter season that would be delicious all year long!

It’s no secret around the office that I have a sweet tooth. While I pride myself on bringing in healthy, homemade lunches, my 3pm sweet treat is a non-negotiable. However, as I try to eat more foods, less dairy, and cut out all nasty artificial preservatives, I’ve taken to making my own confections at home. This allows me to accommodate any food allergies or preferences of the lucky recipients of my homemade goodies and gives me complete control over the ingredients that are going into my body without depriving my sweet tooth.

Just in time for Easter, here’s a recipe for recreating the iconic cream eggs – no dairy needed. Give the bunny a break, and make some treats at home.


  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp carrot juice (or a combination of 4 drops yellow food colouring +2 drops red food colouring)
  • 1 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil


  1. Combine brown rice syrup, margarine, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix with electric beaters until well combined
  2. Add powdered sugar one third at a time. Mix after each addition until creamy.
  3. Remove about 1/3 of the mixture and place it into a small bowl. Add the carrot juice or food colouring and stir well to combine.
  4. Cover both mixtures and refrigerate until firm (at least two hours).
  5. When mixtures are firm, roll a small, marble-size ball from the orange filling, and wrap around it a portion of the white filling that is roughly twice the size. Form this filling into the shape of an egg and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining filling ingredients and then refrigerate until firm (approximately three hours).
  6. Combine the chocolate chips with the coconut oil on the top of a double boiler over medium heat until melted. Stir often to prevent burning.
  7. Use a fork to dip each center into the chocolate, tap the fork on the side of the bowl before placing them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Chill until chocolate has hardened (at least an hour).
  8. Remove candies from fridge and repeat the dipping process. Chill for several hours, or until completely firm.

Enjoy and happy Easter!


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Prince Edward County Wine Tour with the iYellow Wine Club

On July 7th, I joined iYellow Wine Club for their Summer Wine Escapes: Prince Edward County Wine Tour to Casa Dea Estates, Huff Estates and Karlo Estates. Due to inclement weather, the planned Beach Day at Sandbanks Provincial Park was omitted and promptly replaced with Casa Dea Estates. I was impressed by their ability to adapt to the weather conditions.

The group met at a Starbucks downtown and left Toronto at 9:30 am on the luxury coach. Everyone was given a bag with snacks, water, Wine County information and a Wine Tour Map. There were washroom stops planned. There were six new people including myself who had never been to the iYellow Wine Club before and one woman who has been since 2005. Angela Aiello, the Founder of iYellow Wine Club planned an informative Wine County talk for the group of 21. She was very knowledgeable. I learned that the wine’s colour comes from the contact with the skins. I also learned that too much rain dilutes the wine and every cluster of grapes produces one bottle. Prince Edward County is known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir since the producers are putting a lot of money into their premium wines. The wineries are spread out so you have to be willing to drive around.

The group arrived in the quaint Prince Edward County at Casa Dea Estates, the largest winery which had a country feel. The group sampled the 2010 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir before going into the cellar. I really liked the Pinot Gris and that Casa Dea Estates gave a pamphlet where I could checkmark the wines I tried. Angela was very knowledgeable and asked interesting questions at the wineries. Our group had lunch which consisted of salad with balsamic dressing, bread with olive oil and balsamic, pasta with tomato sauce, and red or white wine followed by coffee. I decided to have the 2009 Riesling, but the 2010 Gamay was also offered. The lunch at Cucina Italiana was delicious and provided a good base for the rest of the day. Casa Dea Estates has a gorgeous wedding area.

On the way to the Huff Estates, Angela served iYellow Cabernet Merlot on the bus and had the first of two giveaways for two wine glasses. Huff Estates has their own guest rooms if you want to stay overnight. I tried the 2007 Cuveé Peter F. Huff Sparkling, 2010 South Bay Vineyards Rosé, 2010 Cuveé Janine Sparkling Rosé, and my personal favorite, the 2010 South Bay Vineyards Merlot which was oaked. I had never tried red wine until this wine tour. They also had an indoor and outdoor Oeno art gallery which I enjoyed.

The last winery was Karlo Estates. Angela Aiello said that they are “the most innovative winery in Ontario”. The group tried Pinot Gris paired with olive, Chardonnay Choa with chips, Lake On The Mountain Riesling with cheese, Frontenac Gris Rosé with spicy sausage, Pinot Noir with tamari covered almonds, Cabernet Franc with asiago, Merlot with brie, Quintus with Balderson cheddar, Petit Verdot, White Port with pecan, and Red Port with walnut. My favorites included Chardonnay Choa which was smooth like butter, Merlot, White Port, and Red Port which I had two glasses since I liked it so much.

Overall, I had an amazing day at three great wineries which were very distinct and I learned a lot. Don’t worry if you’re not a wine aficionado, they will teach you the steps to drinking wine and it’s very approachable. Casa Dea Estates had a casual country atmosphere, Huff Estates was very modern, and Karlo Estates was an upbeat barn. Angela ensured that everyone had a great time throughout the trip. The group arrived back in Toronto around 8:30 pm and a Hailo Cab voucher was provided.

They still have their Niagara Wine Country By Night to Jackson-Triggs, TBA, and Flat Rock Cellars on August 17 which will include a barbecue and campfire.



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Men are not the only perpetrators of workplace harassment

In a new study by Queens School of Business, 57% of working Canadians have experienced or witnessed workplace harassment, which is defined as “an upsetting comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; it may include bullying, intimidating or offensive communications, isolation, hostile non-verbal displays, or sharing offensive pictures or materials.” Even more surprising are the number of female perpetrators.

According to this research, based on a survey of 1505 Canadians, 30% of women are harassed by other women, 47% of women are harassed by men, and 23% by a mixed-gender group.  For men, 53% of them are victimized by other men, 32% are harassed by a mixed- gender group, and in 15% of the cases men were harassed by women.

“It’s really shocking how prevalent this [harassment] is throughout the Canadian working population,” says Jana L. Raver, Ph.D. who is an associate professor at Queen’s School of Business.

It is typical to think of males as harassers, and although in most cases men are the perpetrators, what this study shows is the prevalence of females as harassers. Previously, there wasn’t much research done with a focus of females as harassers, but within the last ten years, perspectives on the issue have shifted and there’s more acute awareness of what constitutes harassment. The newer and more comprehensive legislations may also be reflective of the higher statistical findings.

The research shows that in cases where a woman is being the perpetrator, she is far more likely to choose another woman as her victim, but it also reveals that women are twice as likely as men to report harassment that comes from another woman.

The term “workplace harassment” was and is often used to refer specifically to sexual or gender related harassment, targeted at females by males in the workplace, but over the last few years the discourse has shifted and what is deemed as harassment is much more comprehensive.

In 2009, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act was amended with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace, and other matters, adding to the definition of “workplace harassment” to also mean engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”

This change came about after the recent surge of media attention on the issue of bullying and has influenced changes in the workplace environment around the globe. Due to this recent change in the definition of what consitutes harassment it has yet to be seen whether increased attention to the problem will have a positive impact on these trends.

“I love that we’re talking about it and raising consciousness about the issue and I really hope that we continue to have these discussions and find ways to just make it culturally unacceptable,” says Dr. Raver.

Canada has been proactive in bringing about awareness but there’s still much progress to be made. Companies need to take initiatives further than just putting policies in place. Leaders should also be trained in interpersonal relational skills and be equipped in recognizing and dealing with cases of harassment.

If you are a victim of harassment, Dr. Raver advises to initially give the bully the benefit of the doubt, but if the problem persists you should then follow your organization’s reporting procedures and be vigilant in holding your employers accountable, since it is their responsibility that the issue is resolved.


RECIPE: Greek lentil soup

This recipe was passed down to me from my mom and we’ve both made our own tweaks to it along the way to better our suit our taste and diet preferences. With the satiating density of whole grains, and a serving of green, kale goodness, this warming dish is a staple in my winter diet. However, as temperatures in Toronto have gotten cooler this week, I’ve found myself craving it again. I like making a big batch at the beginning of the week so that I have a quick go-to meal for the rest of the week. I hope you’ll give it a try too!

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium to large onions (leeks), chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup tomato broth, or 8 Tomato cubes, or 1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted with water, or equal parts tomato juice and water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups shredded spinach or other dark, leafy green
  • 1 cup small whole wheat shells, macaroni, or broken spaghetti, or 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar

Heat oil in 5-quart pot and sauté onion about 3 minutes until limp.  Add celery, lentils, liquid, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat about 45 minutes until lentils are just tender.

Add salt, greens, and grain, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until grains and beans are tender.  If soup appears to be too dry at this time, add more liquid.  (This should be a thick stew-like soup, but if heat is too high there may be too much evaporation).

When fully cooked, stir in lemon juice or vinegar to taste.

Bon appetit!


Embrace your destiny

If you’re feeling unmotivated, stuck or just unhappy about where you are in life, maybe a life coach is what you need. Embrace Your Destiny, founded by certified life coach Sandra Dawes, is a service that works to empower people to live the life they have always wanted.

Following a practice that is similar to the popular book The Secret, Dawes works to shift your mindset in order to gain a fulfilling life. She speaks about visions manifesting into reality and the benefits of simply posting positive affirmations around your home to inspire you and your mind. Starting with a helpful (complimentary) discover session, you can learn to “ uncover your greatness and live the life you’ve always imagined.”

It is certainly a fascinating concept; with 9-5 work days it may be difficult to find time to pursue your true passion(s) in life. Speaking as a student, it gets overwhelming to juggle everything life has to offer. Perhaps you are nervous to declare how badly you want “it”, whatever it may be in your life: a promising relationship, a new career or a new start in life. Through one-on-one coaching sessions, group sessions and workshops, Dawes can help. If you’re not ready to do it alone, or just want an extra supporter, Embrace Your Destiny may be the perfect place to start.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to have their own personal cheerleader?

Life with a medical condition can’t stop you from living loud at concerts and sweet at cake club

At the age of 18 many teenagers lives are the same: school, friends, parties, clothes. Mine is a little bit different: hospital, rest, friends.

These are the main parts of my life. I have a rare genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a condition called mass cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and a secondary condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia  syndrome (POTS). These effect every part of my body, from joints to skin, to organs to bones causing constant pain, sickness, fatigue and organ problems to name a few.

I’m a wheelchair user and need my mums help with nearly any daily task. At the age of 15 life was normal, but after hurting my neck things went downhill. Energy turned to fatigue and sleep came during the day instead of at night. Pain took over every cell in my body and food became my number one enemy.

After years of fighting I finally got the correct diagnoses of EDS and POTS. Three years on I’m finally getting the correct treatment and another diagnoses of MCAS. My life stopped at the age of 15, but now I’m starting to find out how to start it again and positive kicking down the negative, activities becoming social and not just medical.

My time is spent watching a slightly scary amount of reality and drama on tv, baking calorific cakes for my family, or the cake club I attend monthly (the best thing ever invented, 20 or so women sat around eating and discussing cake for a whole evening). These days I’m going to an insane amount of concerts and driving my mum crazy by insisting on waiting at the back door till 2am to meet the band, catching up and drinking too much tea with my friends, and, unfortunately, attending constant hospital appointments.

Tinker is an assistant dog and a best friend

In these blog posts I will hopefully pass on advice  regarding being ill and different aspects of life, share experiences and look at the lighter side of the dark, but mainly introduce you all to my new little doggie, Tinker, a collie cross whippet who’s meant to be a 2 year old, but acts more like a 2 month old. Tinker will be, over the next few years, trained as my assistant dog, helping me dress, pick things off the floor, open doors and be an emotional support dog. With the end ambition being her attending university with me. But at the moment she’s living up to her name, causing laughter, and being a menace every second that she’s not sprawled out on the floor in dream land.

Since getting Tinker from the dogs trust our lives have changed. Constant cuddles and guilty looks now define the days. Her little foxy tail can be seen running through rapeseed and tucked under her sleeping head. But most often the tip can be seen wagging in a pleading like manner whenever someone opens the fridge. The boss is me — most of the time. What I say goes when it comes to behaviour and training. Unfortunately, the extremely smart Tinker loves nothing more than to buddy up to my mum or brother when it comes to mischief. When the pain is too much or the fatigue turns to led in my muscles she’s an amazing snuggeler. Just the right size to cuddle without preventing the ability to breath. And there’s nothing like looking into her cheeky, glinting face to cheer up any rough day.


Look out for more posts from Beth Morse on her pal Tinker and living life to the fullest even with a medical condition.

Newsflash: April 3, 2014 | We read the news so you don’t have to

New revelations in Ford warrants (surprise, it’s grimy, grimy stuff), Eve Adams didn’t get a good wash at a gas station car wash and the PMO got involved, John Tory has secret admirers in his press releases, Canadians don’t tip well, and Pauline Marois finally got too crazy even for Quebec politics.

The final release in the series of Rob Ford search warrant ITOs contains threats of physical harm in the ghetto, claims of dirty cops, and mentions of a Ford driver and “Juiceman” terrorizing Etobicoke. Ford jumped the gun be declaring his proven innocence when the police announced later the investigation is still ongoing. With the last of the warrant information released, however, Torontonians are left feeling just like when the last Twilight book came out.

Conservative MP Eve Adams’ rough week just got worse. The latest troubles surfacing around the scandal plagued Tory involve a supposed tantrum at an Ottawa area gas station when her car wash wasn’t up to snuff and her newly unemployed (and likely fired) boyfriend Dimitri Soudas coming forward to say the only reason he involved himself in her riding matters was because she had suffered a head injury. Note to Rob Ford: a head injury could be a great excuse.

John Tory has been accused of making up quotes in a press release that attributes Tory praise to “XXXXX” in what looks like a place holder for a name to be plugged in. Other candidates were quick to mock the mistake while poor XXXXX Smith cried once again over the awful, awful name his parents gave him.

Pauline Marois and the PQ look poised to lose the April 7th election and detailed analysis puts the Liberals in majority territory while many journalists have starting writing the PQ leader’s political obituary, cause of death given as insanity. No religious funeral, please.

Canadians are apparently bad tippers, according to some folks down in the US where tipping culture is very big. Thankfully Ottawa found something that it is good at, and that is tipping. Good for you Ottawa. You really needed this.


Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Bill Clinton weighs in — Rob Ford shattered “everything I ever believed about Canadians”

Former US President Bill Clinton, no stranger to controversy in his own time as a politician, weighed in on the Rob Ford fiasco last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

He sums up what many Canadians have dreaded: that our once bright and shining global reputation has been irreparably tarnished by the scandal that has followed Rob Ford during his time in office.

To Ford: when a man who was once the butt of every political joke ever made is reading you for your bad behaviour it is probably time to check yourself.


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Sometimes you have to plan ahead to make time for love in your fast paced life

Life hasn’t been any less busy the past couple of weeks. I spent five days in Winnipeg and as of today I’ve been working for 13 days straight — and then there was that business with How I Met Your Mother, which basically destroyed me emotionally for a day and a half. I’m feeling the same-city-long-distance bug again and I’ve gone from frustrated to irritated to tearful and back again several times in the past couple of weeks (although I’m still blaming the tears on How I Met Your Mother, seriously).

So I’ve decided to be plan girl. I’m going to fill up our summer months with things to look forward to, weekends away when I’m not travelling for work, cottages, beaches and if everything goes my way jet-ski races. With a lot of work travel in the summer months I have to plan everything if I ever want to see Boyfriend for a substantial amount of time and that’s what I’m doing. It may sound crazy to plan everything out for the next four months of my life but I love summer and after the drama of last year I plan to make this summer as fantastic as possible and Boyfriend is a huge part of that.

I miss when love could be beautifully spontaneous and there was always time for a date, when my calendar wasn’t so full that I had to schedule time to eat and breathe, when getting a night to myself was a weekly rather than monthly occasion but that isn’t the life I’m living anymore. I’m twenty-six, successful, completely in love and so exhausted I stare blankly at my barista before realizing that it’s my turn to order.

Sometimes we have to put our relationship second, but by putting our relationship second we’re putting each other first

When Boyfriend and I first started dating, he’d spend days on end at my house and whenhe wasn’t sleeping over he’d meet me most nights after work. It’s amazing how life can change in just a year and a half. That’s what I signed on for, though. I found a man who respects my dedication to my work and he found a woman who would respect his, and as a result we sometimes have to put our relationship second. But by putting our relationship second we’re putting each other first, I care more about Boyfriend being happy and successful than I do about seeing him every other day and he cares more about my dreams than he does about spending Saturday mornings in bed together.

We’re in the latter half of our twenties and it just isn’t time to slow down at work, Boyfriend wants to have a TV show on the air within the next couple of years and I plan to run social at an agency before I’m thirty, I want to finish my book and start a travel blog. With big dreams come big sacrifices but having someone who supports you even from a not-so-far-away-distance is priceless and one of my favourite things about our relationship.



Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Ford’s words in a child’s mouth: An allegory for the media’s sense of entitlement in politics

With election season fully underway and a slew of non-campaign-but-close videos hitting the web it was only a matter of time before Rob Ford’s now infamous crack cocaine denials made the rounds on social media yet again, but even those suffering from Ford Fatigue can appreciate this new take.

“Rob Ford’s words in the mouth of a child” takes near direct quotes from Ford’s denial and later admission of smoking crack cocaine and puts them in the context of a frustrated father dealing with a daughter who left a “crack” in a window after playing inside.

The short leaves viewers by stating “our children are listening” evoking concerns of the example being set for youth by Toronto’s mayor. The issue it presents isn’t an example of a child mimicking smoking crack or associating with gangs and drug dealers (in fact the girl in the video is doing homework when her father comes in and is only guilty of tossing a ball around indoors) but taking from him the lesson that constant lies and denials wont land you in any hot water and can, in fact, leave you better off than you were before. Uh oh, seems like one of those pesky situations where parents might have to explain right from wrong to their kids.

Media knows best

The real draw in this video isn’t the lines you’ve heard ad nauseam for the past year, it’s the reaction of the father character as he deals with his unruly child. It isn’t exactly clear if the father is supposed to represent the electorate of Toronto (you know, those people still polling Rob Ford in the 30% range) or the frustrated reporters and journalists of the media who have stopped short of declaring all out war on Ford the Man and Ford the Mayor.

What is missing from the father/daughter scenario is a clear punishment — a smart mouth like that would still land children over their father’s knee in a lot of households, the same way voters have the ability to boot out Ford in the fall.

The hands up what-the-heck-can-I-do-here response from the father here seems more in tune with the reaction of many in the media right now. “We’ve done all we can” is a common subtext to much of the reporting and comment on Ford at this point. “We’ve caught him in his lies, exposed the scandal, and now there is nothing more we can do! But look how awful he is! Why aren’t you listening to us? Boy are we mad!” Mad indeed.

Most stories at Toronto’s dailies now completely and totally count out Ford as a viable candidate in the current election period. We’re told regularly that there is no point in portraying him as anything other than a cartoonish style super villain because of his lies. He lied about crack, he lied about saving a billion dollars, and who knows what else he has lied about.

But still, despite being reduced to nothing but a few shreds of good press over the last year, Ford still polls well into the territory it would take to secure another mandate at the helm of this city.

The father of the Ford quoting girl represents Toronto’s media in sense that they are both throwing their hands up in reaction to the situation. They are both stuck dealing with lies and denials, and although they want nothing more in the world, they simply cannot correct this behaviour. The difference is that fathers have a responsibility to correct the behaviour of their children.

The media entitlement and desire to control the outcome of this election has become a heavy and insufferable inflated ego that has wedged its way into all of the coverage around Ford and his opponents.

In an age where our politics are almost always presented through a lens it is irresponsible and undemocratic for the media to try and make up our minds for us.  The father in the video can spank his child and send her to her room, but as much as the journalists and reporters who make up the media in Toronto wish they could do the same to Ford they simply have no such right.


Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.