June 2014


When you need to say it — just spit it out!

Last night I was having drinks with friends at a secret hipster bar in Kensington, it was a strangely perfect way to spend a Wednesday evening; but as I sat there listening to friends, old and new, talk about whether or not this guy or that guy liked them I began to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Boyfriend has always insisted on honesty and openness which means that when I want to say something, when I want to ask something or when I need something I just have to say it; it won’t always result in the desired outcome but it’s better than keeping quiet forever.

Over the course of the evening we dissected more than one relationship, little by little until it lay open and naked in front of us and in the end we were no more wiser than we were in the beginning; mostly because those people in the relationships insist on looking at every little detail as though it was the most important thing to ever happen. Before Boyfriend I probably would have done the same thing. He hasn’t called for a couple of days, I don’t want to seem crazy. What if he thinks I’m clingy? He’s perfect when we’re together. He’s really amazing. But why isn’t he calling me? The funny thing about people is that when they like you, they want to spend time with you. Work may be insane, he may have a busy social life, he may have two rescue dogs and a sick grandmother but if he likes you he’ll find time to have dinner with you. Really.

I may be wrong; he may literally have no time, not even a second to answer the phone or five minutes to text you back. Either way you are responsible for your own happiness and it’s your job to ask him what’s up, to tell him that you enjoy spending time with him and that you’d like to do it more often and with some sense of regularity. The worst possible outcome is that he says he’s not feeling it and then you can stop wasting your time with a guy who thinks that you’re good enough, for now.

Wouldn’t you rather spit it out and know what’s going on? It seems to me that you’re much more likely to get a real answer if you ask the object of your affection rather than your friends who have never met him, not ever. As much as I would love to be a psychic, I’m not, and I can’t tell you any more than I know from what you’re telling me and you’re probably not going to listen to me anyway. So why don’t you just ask him? Please just ask him. We can either celebrate or cry it out later.

Whether you’re in the early stages of a relationship or years into it the best thing you can do is ASK for what you want rather than playing guessing games. It’s also far less exhausting. I promise.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Are you a Relationship Recluse? Don’t be THAT friend

When Boyfriend and I started dating I made a conscious effort to stay in touch with all of my friends; as a gal with a tumultuous relationship with her family my friends are literally the most important people in my life. My friends keep me sane, they are my brunch buddies, they are my sounding board, they are brilliant, they are my happy place and they are the people who will be there for me if Boyfriend ever leaves me. So when we got together I decided I wouldn’t be the girl who gets a boyfriend and promptly disappears from existence.

It isn’t easy to be a good friend, a good girlfriend, a good pet parent and keep it together at work but it’s doable, even if it’s a little stressful at times. But my friends were here first, they’ve had my heart for years and in some cases decades they’re my heart and soul and I’m lucky that Boyfriend has never had a problem with that. Sometimes the best thing about Boyfriend is his ability to be logical, something I sorely lack; he never gets emotional when I bail on him to spend a night in with my roomie or a night out for wings with the boys and he never intrudes on the most holy of days, Sunday brunch – unless he’s been invited.

While I’ve managed to see my friends with almost the exact same frequency as I did prior to Boyfriend a lot of that has to do with the fact that my friends love him and he loves them. After a recent conversation with one of my best buddies I realized that this isn’t always the case when you enter into a new relationship. His ex didn’t like most of his friends and she found it difficult to make an effort with his people so more often than not he went out without her or he stayed home to cuddle; there’s nothing wrong with cuddling but it’s easy to see why their relationship fizzled when she wasn’t willing to make an effort with his people.

But sometimes even if your partner digs your people you still drift away from your friends, which is hard for those of us left behind wondering what we did to make you want to ditch us. Because “I’m finally getting some and I haven’t left my bed in days except to eat and re-hydrate” is a terrible excuse even if we’re totally happy for you.

One day you might break up, I hope you don’t, but you might, and then what happens? Do you come crawling back to me like you never left? Are we all of a sudden friends again because you have time for me now? What about last week when work was nuts and I just needed someone to sit and have a pint with; you remember, don’t you? You weren’t picking up your phone that day.

The truth is, I’ll always be here for you, I will always love you — but it still hurts when a new bed-mate turns you into a missing person.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

4 misleading promises you should check on food labels

In the quest to eat healthier foods, “read the nutrition label” has become a new mantra. It is possible to get all the information you need to make an informed buying decision, the key is getting past the marketing buzz and down to the facts found in the listing of ingredients.

Trans fat free

Trans fat free doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no trans fats in the product. If the product contains “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils, then there are trans fats. The amount can be determined by looking at the total fat content on the Nutrition Facts Label and subtracting the saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are indicated. If the numbers don’t add up to the total fat, the difference is the amount of trans fats in the food.


By Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) standards, a natural food or ingredient has nothing added to or removed from it except water. Some minimal processing such as grating, milling or blending is acceptable so the food can still be labelled as natural—for example, whole grain rolled oats.

Natural ingredients may include substances such as flavour components derived from natural foods, but if anything has been added to the substance, e.g. preservatives, then it can no longer be identified as a natural ingredient. Of note, those substances added to a flavour preparation do not have to be included as an ingredient on the product label.


Organic can apply to single ingredient foods such as apples or multi-ingredient foods if 95% or more of the ingredients are certified organic. The logo on the side of the page affirms that the product has met the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime.

If less than 95% of a product’s ingredients are organic, the whole product cannot be labelled as organic and it cannot bear the logo.

Whole grains

Whole grains are promoted far and wide and are a step up from refined ingredients in products such as cereals and crackers. It’s important to closely read the ingredients, as often you will find signs that the product is not as healthy as the manufacturer wants consumers to believe. Crackers will often include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats). Cereals may contain several different types of sugar (e.g.  sugar, corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, dextrose, etc.). Ingredients are listed in order of their weight, the heaviest shown first. Look past the first ingredient to see what else is in the product and, as a general rule of thumb, put it back on the shelf if there are unnatural or more than five ingredients.

There is so much that can be said about food packaging and labels, the above is just the tip of the iceberg. I will tell you more in future articles, but I hope that this gives you something to chew on in the meantime.

Making it right! Useful book tools for home renovations

This past December, as most people were decking the halls for the festive season, we began major basement renovations.

Yes, you read that correctly! Crazy, I know, but we actually didn’t intend for it to happen during the midst of winter and holiday madness. Since it was the first major renovation we did to our home, a series of events, some by design, others mostly accidental, led us to that time and place of no return. As our beloved contractors literally moved in to rock our foundation and lives, keeping it all together with two small children who were confined to a teeny play area in our jam-packed living room was no small feat. Nothing could really fully prepare us for the renovation, but looking back, I learned some valuable lessons, the main one being: before you renovate, do your homework.

This could mean many things. Talking to family members, friends, and neighbours who have gone through similar renovations will offer some invaluable advice and tips. It could also lead to some reputable contacts, professional contractors and designers who won’t lead you astray, mainly because of the referrals, when all the walls come tumbling down. I would also recommend interviewing at least three contractors and other home professionals, as well as gathering a few quotes before making any final decisions about a renovation team. You’d be surprised at how many contractors disappear or don’t ever deliver a quote. Finally, I’d look for answers in books and magazines.

We gathered quite the library of reference materials. Of course I went to Make it Right® sources, foolproof tips and advice from Mr. Mike Holmes himself. A few of our favourites were The Holmes Inspection and Make it Right® Attics and Basements.

In The Holmes Inspection, we learned, albeit after we bought our home, how to identify problems during the inspection process that can prove to be very costly for home owners down the road. Our basement was unfinished when we bought our home and although we didn’t identify any major problems in that state in the four years we lived in our home, the real problems came out during the renovations. We sure could have used Holmes’ inspection checklists as references.

Another favourite was the Black and Decker Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair. It includes 350 projects and 2000 photos for people, like my husband and me, who sometimes need the visual guide to explain complex undertakings. The useful advice and easy-to-follow instructions on almost every home repair and maintenance job from the interior to the exterior of a home make this book essential for all home owners, whether you like to fix things yourself or hire help. And, finally, but by no means the end of my book recommendations for home renovation and repair information, we found Real Simple: 869 New Uses for Old Things, a comfort read for making life easier every day. Finding new uses for old things is not only fun, it’ll also save you a ton of money so you could start the next major house renovation project.

I’ve got my eye on the kitchen. What’s yours? Good luck!

Follow Marisa on Twitter at @MarisaIacobucci.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

5 good reasons Toronto should NOT rename Union Station after John A. Macdonald

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong made headlines today with his call for Toronto to rename our iconic Union Station after Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald.

Minnan-Wong, apparently trying to make some headlines ahead of the next election, has been drowning in a sea of disapproval since his remarks on Tuesday. If you are uneasy about this and not sure why let me remind you of a few things you may or may not have learned in high school that make this an entirely bad idea.

1. We don’t revere John A. Macdonald the same way Americans revere George Washington for a reason: he was a bad person.

John A. Macdonald may be on our tenners but don’t be fooled, his place in the history books is checkered with scandal. For most of us it is simply easier to ignore the fact that he did bad things often in the name of a better Canada than it is to be faced with a Nixonian figure in statues and nameplates. He was known for his gambling, alcoholism, acceptance of bribes, and marrying his own first cousin.

2. Toronto doesn’t need to enshrine itself as the place where addicts and losers are revered as gods.

We’ve got enough of a handful with Rob Ford as it is, do we really need to re-name Union Station after a man who was known as “the whiskey soaked statesman” and had a penchant for arriving at parliamentary debates pissed? Even Ford in all his antics has still refrained from vomiting in chambers, the same cannot be said for Macdonald.

3. His place in the history of the railroad is not exactly a happy story.

Macdonald was implicated in the Pacific Scandal that had him leave the office of Prime Minister in shame and shrouded in controversy as evidence of his government accepting bribes from a private company for lucrative contracts came to light. Although he was later re-elected after Mackenzie King’s time in office the Pacific Scandal is a stain on Canada’s infancy.

4. Union Station is already named for the history of our city.

Denzil Minnan-Wong thinks that because many other cities contain a Union Station we should change the name of ours to be more historical. It already is historical. It (along with the other stations it shares a name with) are named after the cooperation of once competing rail companies coming together to provide seamless and quality service to Torontonians in a beautiful station. While much of Canada’s rail history has disappeared in 2014 the name “Union” still signifies the unity of those now extinct rail giants.

5. If it was going to be renamed pick someone worthwhile.

This particular dead old white straight guy is already on our money. If we, for whatever reason, need to rename Union Station we can pick from any number of fantastic Canadians who haven’t already been immortalized on fliff and represent the mosaic of Canada a bit better. How about Torontonian Anderson Ruffin Abbott, Canada’s first black physician? Maybe 20th century gay Canadian poet Patrick Anderson? What about Toronto’s first female mayor June Rowlands? The list of diverse and representative candidates who are also good people is quite long.



Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Sarah Thomson promises free high speed internet if elected

Is free high-speed internet in the cards for the City of Toronto? If Sarah Thomson has her way she promises she would make it a reality.

Taking a page out of recent US developments like Google Fiber mayoral candidate Thomson promises free high-speed internet at 5Mbps for all Toronto residents and businesses by treating internet access as a utility.

The plan stresses that currently Toronto residents pay among the highest in the world for high-speed internet with the market cornered by a few large companies.

“The gap between rich and poor has widened due to the lack of political leadership at city hall,” says Thomson. “My Tunnel Toronto plan to put 6 priority transit lines underground will help stop the growth of gridlock and bring approximately 450,000 new jobs to Toronto. Aside from transportation, more is needed and that is why I believe Toronto should provide free Internet to its residents.”

40 is the new 40

This article was previously published on January 4, 2012.

I’m on the cusp of my 40th birthday and I’m excited. Not that anybody believes me when I say it. In fact, every time I gleefully sing: “I’m turning 40, I’m turning 40! Hooray I’m going to be old!” at anyone within earshot lately (silly I know, but please note I never claimed not to be) and I gear up to start my happiness dance, someone always chimes in with…

“Well not to worry, you look so young. No one would ever guess you’re anywhere near to 40.”


“Old? Forty is the new 20/30? You’re sooo not old.”

Generally, I ignore such comments and just carry on singing. Moreover, the seemingly knee jerk response to console me every time I mention that I’m about to hit the BIG Four-O, only serves to make me want to declare it even more loudly to more people.

You see, I don’t ever want to get to a place where I’m mourning the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve always thought it best to accept what I can and cannot change in life. So, from time to time I may allow myself to bitch and moan about my weight, my finances, and/or the men I choose to date. But even though my knees have started to creak, the bouts of lower back pain I occasionally have to deal with now last a little longer, and certain parts of my body simply aren’t as perky as they used to be, I never complain about getting older.

I figured out a long time ago that I could choose to focus on the down or upside of the aging process, and being an optimist, I chose the upside. And just what is the upside of getting old? Well, I’d say evolving into someone who is more self-aware, being increasingly comfortable in my own skin, and learning to be true to myself in all circumstances (even stressful ones). In essence, with each passing year I am becoming a better and more grounded human being: a person my more nubile, 20-year old self would hardly recognize, much less claim to be.

That’s why, in spite of all the well-intentioned folk who attempt to ‘make me feel better’ about my pending birthday by telling me just how young  I look (according to them, because what does 40 look like anyway?) or am in spirit, I refuse to shy away from telling people my age, or celebrating the fact that with each passing year I learn more about myself and the world around me.

Yes, in just a few short days I’ll be turning 40. But I won’t be the 40-something striving to be 20 or 30 with a decade or two of experience. Nope, not me. Instead I plan to revel in the JOY of actually being 40 – nothing more, nothing less. My 40 is simply going to be the new 40 and as hard as it may be for some to believe, that’s a-ok with me.

Follow B.A. Dobson on Twitter at @BA_Dobson.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

These plans for redesigning abandoned subway stations in Paris are breathtaking

While we here in Toronto have a couple abandoned subway stations (the always mysterious Lower Bay and Lower Queen stations) they have, for the most part, sat empty save for the occasional use as backdrops in movies and the odd glitzy party.

Paris, on the other hand, has eight phantom stations. Some of the stations were closed for lack of use, and some others were never opened or given a staircase to the above-ground. It is hard to believe that it has taken this long for a city known for its art, culture, fashion, and style to come up with a sexy and chic re-imagining for the underground spaces. That is exactly that mayoral candidate Nathalie Koziuscot-Morizet has revealed as part of her platform and the mock-ups are simply breathtaking.

First let’s take at one of the stations as it currently is:


Leave it to Paris to have even an abandoned subway station that is glamorous in its own way. But now let’s look at that space as it could be.

The Pool:


The Theatre:


The Ballroom:


The Nightclub:


The Restaurant:




Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Are you using the right wine glasses?

by Nicola Burrows

A true wine connoisseur appreciates a delicate glass of wine and values the difference between a bold red and a crisp white, or possibly an autumn blush with fragrances of berries and citrus, which are sweeter on the pallet. The choices are endless, but the wine glass that is used is as essential. Bringing the flavours of the wine to life can enhance your experience. The wine you choose is as important as the wine you serve, especially to maximize the flavour. A typical wine glass has three sectors: bowl, stem and foot. The shape of the glass generally influences the type of wine used. When serving the glass to your guests, hold the glass by its stem to avoid leaving fingerprints on the bowl.

Red wine glasses

Red wine needs to go through an oxidation process. This chemical process enhances both the flavour and aroma of the wine, making it more enjoyable. The bowl of a red wine glass is both rounder and wider to allow more air to come in contact with the wine. They usually stand taller than white wine glasses to allow for an easier swirl of the wine to further oxidize the flavour. Red wine glasses are also held by the bowl since it doesn’t normally make a difference if the temperature of the wine changes from the warmth of your hand. Red wine glasses are further divided into two common discrete shapes: the burgundy glass, which is broad and is suited to take the wine to the tip of the tongue; and the bordeaux glass, which is tall and not as broad as the burgundy glass.

For a bordeaux glass, you are going to be serving Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah as these are more full bodied wines. The bordeaux glass is shaped to allow the wine to reach the back of the throat when sipped. Burgundy glasses are made to further enjoy the aroma of the red wine. Wines such as Pinot Noir are best served to customers in burgundy glasses.

White wine glasses

Most white wine glasses have smaller mouths, which reduces the area of contact the wine has with the air, reducing the rate of oxidation. Their bowls are not as wide as red wine glasses while the entire glass appears thinner.

Champagne glasses are thinnest of all the wine glasses. Their shape is known as the flute, which has a longer stem and thin brim. Part of the novelty of champagne is its sparkling display of bubbles. The less oxidation it gets the longer the wine will sparkle.

White wine glasses are meant to be grasped by the stem to avoid both finger prints on the bowl as well as prevent the wine from being affected by that of your body temperature. The smaller mouth also allows the aroma to be directed more precisely towards the nose which a very important part of wine appreciation.

Serve Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio in the wider of the white wine glasses and use the Champagne Flutes for Champagne. You can pretty much follow this rule of thumb to be successful with the whites.

You will be able to maximize the flavour of wine and appreciate the wine to its fullest capacity.

Beatocello: A doctor, cellist, and hero to Cambodian children

By Tania LaCaria
Image from

Surely no one is surprised to hear that corruption, poverty, bureaucracy and scepticism are abundantly present in the streets of Cambodia.  At times, it can be difficult to look beyond the faults of this pained country, and I personally caught myself believing that all hope was lost for this beautiful nation… until I met Beatocello.

Dr. Beat Richner, affectionately called Beatocello by locals and tourists alike, is a charismatic and delightfully witty doctor who was born in Zurich in 1947 and practiced paediatrics at the Zurich Children’s Hospital for several years. In 1975, the Red Cross sent Dr. Richner to Cambodia to work at the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital but he was soon forced to return to Zurich once the destructive Khmer Rouge invaded. Luckily for the children of Cambodia, Dr. Richner fondly reminisced about his time in Cambodia often; so when the Cambodian government asked him to return in 1991 to help rebuild the destroyed children’s hospital, he was eager to pack his bags.


Once he noticed the funding for the hospital construction and its doctors was limited, he began playing free cello concerts for tourists (hence the pet name, Beato-CELLO) in exchange for donations towards Kantha Bopha. The concert experience that I attended was extremely moving.

I sat in a small auditorium with nearly 60 other tourists of all ages and watched him play the large instrument effortlessly in between recounts of his experience working with Kantha Bopha. He had the entire audience fully entertained…but he never lost sight of the purpose behind his performance and speech. He asked the young, healthy audience members to donate blood, and asked the older, rich tourists to donate money and then he asked everyone in between to donate BOTH…all for the good of Cambodian children.


At first, I thought Beatocello was providing a wonderful service to tourists in exchange for some charity fundraising, but I quickly became aware of the scope of Beatocello’s dedication to Cambodian children that stretches far beyond just a few free concerts. Over the course of several years, he has spearheaded the construction and maintenance of five new children’s hospitals, including a special maternity ward for mothers with HIV.


All the hospital services and administered medications are completely and utterly free of charge. Over 550,000 children would not have survived without these hospitals and the care of Beatocello. He even provides free transportation to and from the hospitals for rural families with ill children. In some cases, the children must stay overnight at the hospital, and of course, Beatocello has ensured that the child and guardian are fed and nursed for free for the duration of the child’s recovery.

If it weren’t for Beatocello, these children wouldn’t stand a chance at recovery.

Before we all forget our New Year resolutions and get wrapped up in the hustle of daily routines all over again, I hope you will take a second to be thankful for the work Beatocello has done for Cambodia, and remember that Winston Churchill said it best: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Beatocello’s dedication to the people of Cambodia is beyond admirable – it just seems like the right thing to do for a country that is eager to repair itself and forget its catastrophic past.

I am adding “Do More Charity Work” to my list of resolutions this year and I hope Beatocello has inspired you to do the same.

For more information on how to make a donation to the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals, click here.