June 2014


STYLE: Hang on to your little black dress — because basic black is always in

Melanie & Doreen – Style md – are Toronto-based wardrobe consultants and personal stylists.

by Doreen Binder

On a recent balmy June evening, seven of us gathered at a downtown restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday. All of us, women, showed up wearing basic black. We had all personalized our colour choice in some way. Some in head-to-toe black with a great piece of jewellery. Others mixed it with white. One friend boldly paired her black twinset with splashy red pants. Another women added a punch of fuchsia with a flower nestled at her bosom. Someone else wore an ecru lace top trimmed with ruffles.

We laughed about our wardrobe selection. A few of us admitted to swapping white ensembles for black at the very last minute because they just did not feel right. I was one of those people. White can look very fresh, but it seemed to me to be too casual for an evening at a French bistro.

At our table it was unanimous, black was a go-to colour for when we wanted to feel elegant or chic ⎯ winter or summer. It was also the choice on an off day, when we were not feeling so great about our bodies, ourselves, and just needed to feel pulled together.

Does this mean that we never wear brights or pastels? Hardly. I personally love lots of colour. I love having the options of all the colours of the rainbow. But for me black is like a longtime friend, easy, comfortable and reliable and sometimes just what I need in a pinch.

5 things you shouldn’t do on a first date

In today’s cut-throat and unforgiving dating world, searching for romance is like scouring through a jungle of animals in search of “the one.” While this process can be tricky, awkward and sometimes downright frustrating, it’s important not to lose faith. Of course, women are not usually to blame, us being fabulous and all. We know full well that the world is plagued with tragic male singles, ready to perturb us with dull conversation, sloppy first kisses, and attempts at one-night-stands.

However, not all men necessarily commit these habits. And while it can be amusing to savagely gab to our friends and rant about our recently blacklisted bachelor, we should take a moment to realize that we are not always the victims of failed dates. In fact, many of us spend so much time sizing up our gentleman callers, but we rarely ever consider how our own habits might be affecting our dating experiences.

So, perhaps we could all benefit from a tad bit of humility by considering the male perspective as we reign comfortably on our royal thrones. This being said, let’s take a look at five things you shouldn’t do on a first date:

1. Do not ask about the future … yet

© Duane Osborn/Somos Images/Corbis

On the first date, it’s not appropriate to raise future-related questions unless he does. This is a double standard we all loathe but must regrettably obey. This means avoiding certain questions: Do you see marriage in your future? How many kids do you want? These are issues that will surely be addressed as you move through the dating process. Until that point, a man doesn’t want you envisioning his future before he’s even had a chance to get to know you. It’ll make him feel trapped and definitely turned off.

2. Do not dress like a high-class call girl

Many women enjoy dressing provocatively for their dates. Although it’s natural to want to look impressive and sexy, women should focus on flaunting their personality whether than their skin. As a general rule, if you’re going to show off your legs, hide your cleavage. And if you’re planning on covering up your lower half, then feel free to show a little more décolleté (without giving him an overly generous glimpse!).

3. Do not ask about his assets

While you may have your quality checklist, you must put this aside for the first date. Many men find it incredibly invasive when a woman asks incessantly about their assets, especially so early in the dating process. You do not want to appear over ambitious or shallow. This means you should focus on getting to know your date on a personal level and learn about his quality not his quantity.

4. Do not get drunk

© Hero Images/Corbis
Nobody likes a waste-case.

When trying to control your first date jitters, it’s easy to drink a little more than usual. But while a couple Cosmos can be helpful, make sure not to overdose on this nerve-easing delight. Otherwise, you may become too comfortable and possibly lose your sense of etiquette. You may start blabbering excitedly or even let your hormones do the talking. For this reason, it’s best to let your sober and wonderful self shine through on the first date.

5. Do not sleep with him

If you have a more laissez-faire attitude toward dating, you may have pulled a one-nighter or two. Sometimes when a great date becomes heated with good conversation and a few too many martinis, it’s tempting to lose yourself in a steamy moment. You may have even been guilty of convincing yourself that you’ve found your “soul-mate” and believe it’s a free pass to rush into the sack. No. Stop. What you might mistake for your long-sought-love is really just alcohol and hormones. In reality, rushing to sex rarely leads to a long-lasting relationship. Moreover, building a real intimate connection requires a couple to establish communication, respect, and trust over an extended period of time. A hot night in bed does not establish this connection — no matter how great the sex.

By avoiding these crimes of romance, you may save yourself from plunging into dating hell. Ultimately, it’s important to understand that great dates are a two-way street. While we can expect to be charmed and courted, we also have a responsibility to avoid poor dating habits. Unfortunately, these rules will obviously not protect you from meeting awful men, but at least you can take comfort in knowing the failure was on him, and not on you.

Good luck!

All images courtesy of Corbis

5 must-have tips to becoming your own boss

Being an entrepreneur is a dream for so many people; and, it was (and is) a dream I strive to realize every single day. The idea of being your own boss and working in a field that you’re interested in and passionate about is a luxury that many don’t get to live in their 9 to 5. The truth is, though, that a lot of new businesses fail within the first three years. So, I thought I’d share some personal revelations and experiences in planning my own entrepreneurial journey.

Is being your own boss right for you?

The first thing I needed to come to terms with is that not everyone can cut it. I needed to figure out whether or not being an entrepreneur was right for me and my family. Every successful business owner I know works above and beyond the 40 hour work week and more than conventional jobs. There are, of course, benefits to being your own boss. Every day, I put my own ideas into motion, and I make decisions that define the course of my company. I enjoy the limitless potential to create higher goals to attain and to earn more money. But, before embracing those advantages, I had to take the time to think it through. Make sure you’re the kind of person who likes to give yourself challenges taking on a new project and sees possibilities where others see problems. Dreams play a role, but what counts is action, and if you’re willing to put in the work, it is absolutely possible to influence your destiny.

Let’s develop your business plan

After making sure that I was prepared for and committed to everything that comes with running your own business, it was time to develop my ideas and my business plan.  This is where the work begins.  A dynamic business plan can help you determine the path you plan to take with your company, turn ideas into a tangible constructed business, and is even necessary in securing financing from lenders and investors.  It can help in identifying weaknesses in terms of capabilities or local competition, and can communicate your vision to potential colleagues or partners. If you want to be a business owner, regardless of the industry, your first capability should be your product or service, but your second capability should always be business itself. If you don’t know what an Executive Summary or an Operational Plan is, Google it, research it, and learn! It’ll be the first of many hats you’ll have to wear as a small business owner. Trust me.

Let’s think about your brand

Then came the logistics. I had to choose a name for my business — something unique and easy to remember — and register my business with the necessary levels of government. For me, that involved applying for a Business Number, which serves as my account number for dealing with the government regarding payroll, taxes, and other activities. It’s also what I used to open a business bank account so I could start keeping my personal money away from my business money. My advice is to do this right from the start to avoid potentially devastating complications down the line.

Where will the start-up money come from?

Financing is often the most challenging aspect of starting a business, but when I started out, I found that there were so many little known resources available out there to get your business off the ground. The government provides financing to help start-up businesses, some that need to be repaid and some that don’t. There are also various private sector financing opportunities that you might be able to secure. Do your research and take advantage of the resources that exist.

Take action!

The most important part, however, is what comes every day as an entrepreneur. Put your dreams into action, and get ready to roll your sleeves up and delve right in! This is your moment to shine and to build an empire out of nothing! It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without some sleepless nights and stressful moments, but if you’re willing to put in the work, the sky’s the limit!

Good luck!

Todd Shapiro’s new evolution finds positivity in comedy

The former co-host of the Dean Blundell Show has struck out on a different path finding that positivity and heart can actually have a place in the world of radio and comedy.

Inside the SiriusXM studio there is an sense of happiness. Todd Shapiro and his crew are in the fledgling weeks of their new live drive afternoon block and the music, camaraderie, and jokes are hardly contained behind the glass walls that they are broadcasting from. the attitude strikes an entirely different tone than the furor surrounding the cancellation of the Dean Blundell Show earlier this year, a sinking ship that Shapiro inadvertently jumped from last year before resurfacing on SirisXM’s Canada Laughs Channel 168.

A man just shy of his 41st birthday Shapiro is a study in the evolution of talk radio. After spending years as part of a team derided by feminist, gay, minority, and many more groups for what they viewed as cruel treatment he has found that the best way to get laughs is when everyone gets along. “The underlying message of this new show is that it is always positive, it is always inspirational, and it is always promotional.”

His team, featuring a roster of comedians like Jay Brody and musicians like Anna Cyzon, is working to put on the best and most upbeat show they can everyday, says Shapiro. And the proof is in the pudding — with guests discussing human rights and gay issues to politics Shapiro has succeeded in breathing new energy into a format that was once cemented around the rude and obnoxious. Trailer Park Boys, Sarah Thomson, John Tory, and Tony Clement are among the big names that Shapiro and his team have drawn to his new program already with the intention of more high profile and influential guests to come.

When it comes to casting off his old ways it was an easy decision on this side of 40. “I did an immature, dumbed-down exaggeration of myself. I was definitely more juvenile because of the role I was encouraged to do.” But now, he says, he’s ready to give back. “Every day on this new show we try and do something that will help someone else’s career, whether it is promoting a charity or something as simple as promoting guests that haven’t quite made it yet.”

“What we are trying to do is create a campfire environment in the studio so when people step into that room they feel like they are surrounded by friends and these are trustworthy people who aren’t going to back stab you or railroad you with a question that they didn’t expect. I want people leaving wanting to come back and so far that has been the case.”

Even Ron MacLean is a fan. “I got a text from him after he was a guest saying that he had a great time and that we had an inspirational team here.”

In the world of nice guys, Ron MacLean is the guy to learn a thing or two from. “I’ve always been a Ron MacLean fan because I like the good guy approach. I didn’t take the good guy approach in my previous fourteen years on air.”

From Shapiro the message is one of transformation. “Everyone has the ability to change. There’s too much negativity in this world and if we don’t take it upon ourselves to have that pay-it-forward approach or to be positive to other people then, pardon my language, we are fucked.”

Todd began his broadcast career indirectly. After being picked for spot as a contestant on proto-reality TV show Blind Date’s first Canadian show from ten thousand possible contestants he was interviewed with the rest of the daters on the Humble & Fred show. After striking up a friendship with the hosts he wound up returning to the program as an intern while completing his broadcaster’s diploma at Seneca College.

From behind the scenes he made a name for himself writing jokes and doing just about anything he could to get on air. When an internal switch up at the company put a new host in the morning slot it wasn’t long before Shapiro worked his way from intern to what he laughingly calls a “punching bag” to becoming a full fledged co-host of infamous and ill fated Dean Blundell Show.

Among his career highlights Shapiro puts his relationships with sponsors at the top. “I was always very privileged that they wanted to work with me — that’s probably part of the reason I didn’t get married until I was almost 40, I’ve always been so busy.” With a career spanning 15 years he has had no shortage of unique encounters with other notable people, “I’ve been fortunate enough to meet everyone from top porn stars to Wayne Gretzky,”

The most transformative element in Shapiro’s new life hasn’t been just the switch from terrestrial radio to satellite broadcast. “I lived a life of a rock star. I met a lot of people, I went to a lot of events , and I met a lot of girls. It was tough to settle down for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I didn’t find the right girl. Maybe I wasn’t ready. But when I met my current wife and truly the love of my life I knew from the second I saw her. Once I got to know her and heart, her sincerity, and her kindness it’s something I experienced at t time of my life when I really needed it. I don’t trust very easily, I don;t open my door. I have this big persona, at the end of the day it’s hard for me to accept people into my own life. But she is so inspirational.

On February 8th of this year he wed Irina Funtikova, a world class gymnast and model who immigrated to Canada from Moldova as a child. Outside of her beauty, talent, and personality Todd sums up their relationship by saying simply that “at the end of the day she is my best friend.”

He gives a great example of their dynamic by sharing her reaction to his departure from the Dean Blundell Show and subsequent unemployment. “Some of the first words she said to me were: ‘Listen, if we have to sell this penthouse and move into a 400 square foot condo it only means we get to be closer together.’ There is nothing superficial or pretentious about her. She made it so easy to give her everything I can. I count my blessings every day.”

With a new show and new hope on the horizon it’s important to remember that Shapiro is still a prankster first and foremost with a focus on getting his audience with a nicer approach this time around. “Don’t get me wrong, we’re still going to try and get laughs, and people might have some problems with the humour, but no one is ever going to have a problem with the message.”


The Todd Shapiro Show airs weekdays from 4 to 6pm on SiriusXM Chaannel 168 Canada Laughs.

VINTAGE: This clip from the 1939 Miss Toronto pageant is Bomb Girls style classic

While most of us wouldn’t give up present day luxuries like basic modern medicine and women’s rights — and of course sweet, sweet Netflix — there is something alluring about the past. Take, for example, this newsreel footage of the 1939. The bathing suits look perhaps a little uncomfortable and the commentary is more than a little insensitive, but the glamour and elegance of the era is something that doesn’t seem to have made it to today.

The commentary is as follows:

“Youth and beauty at the Canadian Police Games. Who wouldn’t be a policeman in Toronto? After a few minutes of this sort of thing our tame camerman can hardly bear it. What did you say is the fare to Toronto? Anyway, they’re out to pick Miss Toronto of 1939, and the mayor hands it to 19 year old Nancy Morris. Would you? Look out girlie, you’ll tumble!”

The Toronto mayor handing the sash to the winner is Ralph C. Day, whose Wikipedia picture also appears to have been taken at the Miss Toronto pageant, albeit the year before in 1938. His biggest scandal (no, not crack) came in 1940 when Canada went to war with Italy. Italian men were interned, much like Japanese people in Canada were at the same time, and Mayor Day was adamant that the families of the Italian men unable to provide while interned would not receive welfare, stating “this country is at war with Italy and Italians cannot very well expect us to spend money for war purposes for the purpose of maintaining alien enemies.”

Yikes, maybe the romantic vision of the past isn’t so great after all.


Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Happiness is something you’ve got to work at in dark and cold times

Lately I’ve been feeling less happy than my normal chipper, cheery, sing-songy self. I’ve felt kind of lost and unsure of myself and desperately in need of a vacation; something to make me believe that there is more to life than work, sleep and errands. Sometimes being a grown-up is exhausting and I’m missing the joy I used to have in my life. Boyfriend tries to help but he hasn’t been around lately and I find myself feeling so incredibly lonely.

There were times when I was single and I felt less lonely than I do these days, when you’re single there’s always a new adventure there’s always someone waiting to surprise you with butterflies and a smile. It’s not that I’ve stopped loving Boyfriend or that I want to end things, not at all. It’s that, between work and the terrible winter that refused to die, we got into a bit of a rut and then we let our lives get in the way of our relationship. It’s so easy to let work and life get in the way of love, but that’s no way to live and it isn’t making me happy anymore — if it ever was.

I’ve decided to spend the spring focusing on the things I love: spending more time with Boyfriend, taking long walks with the pups, listening to as much country music as I possibly can, and writing more. It’s so easy to let life get in the way of enjoying life but as my favourite season approaches all I can think is that I’d like to remember what it is to spend an entire weekend in bed with the love of my life, I’d like to sit at the beach for no reason other than to feel the sun on my skin and I want to say goodbye to the grumps that have been hanging around me for the past four months.

Life should be lived

Sitting at my great uncles funeral last week I was reminded that life is something that should be lived; he spent 56 years with the love of his life and he never wasted a single day. I’ve been wasting days since Christmas. I’ve been letting the little things get to me and it’s time to shut that down. When you find someone you love you should cherish them, you should remind them every day, and you shouldn’t ever let your problems infect your relationship.

Boyfriend taught me a long time ago that I should talk about my feelings more but lately I’ve stopped doing that. We’ve seen each other so infrequently that I’ve been trying to avoid saying anything bad when we do get to see each other; of course he noticed and I felt like I was lying to my partner.

So I’m starting the spring off with a promise to talk more and enjoy the time I have with Boyfriend more; everything could fall apart tomorrow but I never want to say that I took him for granted or spent a single day ignoring how lucky I am to have someone who loves me in my life.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Service dogs are well mannered, obedient, and a best friend

Manners aren’t just a polite way of life for humans, working dogs have to learn these too. Since getting my soon-to-be assistant dog Tinker we have gathered large amounts of information on what it actually means to be an assistant dog.

Most believe the role is purely to help and ease the day to day tasks of the lucky individual who gets to have a big ball of fluff as a carer. However while this is very true it’s only about half of what these trusty animals are taught. Restaurants, shops, trains and pubs all need to know for health and safety that your assistant dog can act more like a polite gentlemen than a bounding play mate.

For a chosen dog to pass it’s assessments it needs to know its please from its thank yous. It may all sound a bit over the top but you can’t have a dog allowed in every public place if it’s not calm, courteous, and unfazed by every weird and wonderful sight. Being able to spend an hour sat under a table with little attention, not stealing the eye level food from supermarkets, and treating cars as cars are all things to be considered when an assistant dog is being trained.

At this moment in time Tinker is a few weeks off the waiting list to becoming fully immersed in the world of the working, but that doesn’t mean she’s been sat on her laurels. Interacting her with people, traffic, loud noises, and other animals are all great ways of easing her into training and getting her used to basic everyday things which she will have to cope with when she’s in charge of the caring.

Obedience is another massive part in the training. From the very beginning Tinker has had rules set which can’t be broken as this could mess up her training in the future — although, as you can probably imagine, she tries every trick in the book to sneak past these rules from unleashing the big brown yellow eyes, to laying her head on your lap. Her favourite trick is to set up one of our other two dogs. Spying some naughty goings on over food, Tinker will soon come running up to you, give you all the attention in the world then tell you what has happened, all the while glaring at a rather bemused grace.

Just because a dog is working or training to work doesn’t mean that they don’t get to have some fun. Play is an important part in any dogs life, including those who work. Tinker has now acquired many and many toys which always end up strewn around the house no matter how many times you pick them up. Playing with your dog is a brilliant way to build up trust, and a great time to test obedience. If you can get your dog to willing give you their toy in the middle of a playful game that’s a sure fire way that they not only trust you but see you as the boss.

Running round and round in circles the length of a field , trying to get our other two dogs to join in and rolling around in the grass are activities which Tinker gets to enjoy at least twice a day. Meaning when it comes to training she’s more than willing to put on her working hat , having burnt out all the manic energy in a field full of long, thick grass perfect for playing hide and seek in. It’s a long and complicated road to becoming an assistant dog. Often taking years before they pass all their assessments. But the independence and relaxing joy it can give a person means all the hard work for dog and owner becomes worth it.



Stay tuned for more blog posts from Beth Morse.

RECIPE: Not Your Grandma’s Banana Bread

Recipe & photo by lumpiestburrito.


  • 2 medium sized very ripe bananas (enough to equal 1 cup)

  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice (if you don’t have any lemon juice that’s fine)

  • 1/4 cup buttered, softened (put in microwave for a few seconds)

  • 1/4 cup chunk-style peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (don’t pack down the brown sugar. If you don’t have brown sugar, use 1/2 cup regular sugar)

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1 3/4 cup flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 cup M&Ms

  • 1/4 chopped peanuts or chopped walnuts

“Put bananas in a small bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Measure out 1 cup and place mashed banana in a large bowl. Add 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup chunk-style peanut butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar (NOT packed), 1 large egg, 1/3 cup milk, 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking POWDER, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Mix with electric mixer until ‘just combined’. Stir in 1 cup M&Ms and 1/4 cup chopped peanuts OR walnuts.”

FITNESS: Running with allergies

For some runners it may be challenging enough running in perfect conditions, let alone having to cope with allergies, which can make breathing difficult and turn a routine run into a tortuous test of will.

There is good news, however, for allergy sufferers: their condition may now be controlled and prevented if necessary steps are taken. After suffering for long enough I decided to visit my doctor to learn which medications would be most suitable. I was diagnosed with Rhinitis (Hay fever) and was prescribed Flonase (nasal spray) and told to take an antihistamine before the workout, which certainly helped to make my running experience more enjoyable.

A recent survey commissioned by Johnson & Johnson suggests up to 10 million Canadians may suffer from allergy symptoms. The survey found that more than a quarter say they’ll limit their outdoor time to prevent the onset of symptoms. Allergy season may start early in spring but can last into fall as the combination of climate change and pollen counts leads to expanded sneezing, wheezing, and gasping.

The main culprits tend to be pollen, ragweed and grass. Sometimes not knowing we have allergies can affect our work and personal lives, as well as our best intentions of getting fit and staying healthy. Often mistaken for a common cold, it is treatable if one knows the symptoms, which may include nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes.

Speaking with Dr. Jack Taunton, who was Chief Medical Officer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, he mentions certain regions across North America are harsher than others when it comes to allergies. “Did you know,” he asks, “that Eugene, Oregon isn’t the best place to run for people with allergies?” Dr. Taunton also includes the west coast of British Columbia as a particularly troublesome place for allergy sufferers because of vast forested areas and voluminous species of plants and grasses.

Dr. Taunton suggests various foods, such as strawberries, some vegetables, dust and pet dander, may trigger an allergic reaction, adding, “Some triathletes are even allergic to certain types of chlorine in the pool,” also showing that for some unlucky people there is no escape. He suggests seeing an allergist when symptoms become difficult to manage.

To summarize, your allergies are caused by the environment or certain foods and the best we can do is try to manage the situation.

So what can you do to enjoy your workouts more? “Try breathing more through your mouth,” says Dr. Taunton. Try running when the pollen counts are lowest (check the weather report) and wear sunglasses to prevent itchy watery eyes. Avoid running in trails or parks at the most dangerous times (for your allergies). Before your workout, take an antihistamine. Allergy shots may be the answer and I’ve heard green tea may help provide relief. If unsure, pay a visit your doctor first to find out if you do suffer from an allergy condition.



Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Is this simple little trick the cure for insomnia?

By Shelly Faber

Getting enough sleep? Although women are more likely to have a tougher time falling and staying asleep than men, all adults and children are less likely to perform at their best if sleep deprived.

The body doesn’t actually turn off when it sleeps. Your brain stays active, working and performing maintenance on the automatic systems that keep the body running 24/7. How much sleep do you really need? That’s a loaded question.

There are so many factors to consider when answering it. Ask yourself this: “Do I honestly feel raring to go from wake up time until my day winds down? Do I have that little extra for an evening out?” If you can say yes to those, I’d say you’re doing pretty well.

Certainly one of the biggest stresses when it comes to trying to get to sleep is, you guessed it, stress. Many try alternative or complementary therapies to drink, smell, or feel the magic go to work, for calming ways to get into sleep or relaxation mode.

One unconventional, yet interesting practice is the ‘HU’ approach. Life coach Nicole Sebastian wrote a book explaining the scientific effect, singing the word ‘HU’ (pronounced hue) has on the body. She says, scientifically speaking, everything has its own quantum signature, or vibration and resonance.

Singing ‘HU’ for 10 to 20 minutes (take a breath in and sing on the exhale) causes a relaxing and peaceful effect on the central nervous system, surrounding you with a positive electromagnetic frequency field, helping you to stay balanced and maintain a positive outlook in your daily life.

What a great way to hit the pillow for a peaceful sleep.



Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.