Don’t be scared.
Yeast does not bite.
Toss aside all those silly notions that baking with yeast is difficult. It is not. Remember to check your yeast expiry date (it is on the back of the package or jar) and store yeast in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. It is that simple. Now reward yourself with a slice of hot slice of zza.
Check out LeeAnne's amazing recipe for gluten-free pizza recipe over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews...
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Don’t be scared.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I am worn out these days.
So very worn out.
I mentioned I have a two-year-old right? And a great new job that requires a longer commute and increased brainpower? And this blog. And this one. Did I mention my husband is on a new television series, working 14-hour days and is only home to sleep during the week?
Yeah, I'm worn out.
And, as lovely as you all have been, I'm sure readers have noticed that the quality of my writing here at DMD has slipped ever-so-slightly the last month or so.
And that bothers me, really bothers me.
Luckily I have a plan: I'm taking next week off to recharge my batteries and get my creative juices flowing again and while I'm gone I've arranged for some of the funniest, wittiest and most talented writers in the blogosphere to entertain you.
That's right, next week I'm handing the keys to my joint over to her and her and her. Also her. And, God help me, her.
It's going to be such fun, I'm a little sorry to miss it. But I do need to rest and I do need to let some ideas marinate before I come roaring back with the diva attitude you've come to expect.
Before I leave on my stay-cation I have some awards to acknowledge, some people to thank and some shout-outs to do. Let's get right to it:
This lovely Blog of Distinction award came my way via the effervescent JCK over at Motherscribe. I had the pleasure of spending some time with JCK at BlogHer last month and she really radiates the same intelligence and quiet confidence you'll find over at her site. Thanks JCK!
I'd like to pass this award along to Karen at One Day At A Time , (we are having drinks in September Karen I swear!), Jen at Juggling Life (she just seems so together, she deserves an award) and Jobthingy's Jungle (this blog is chock full of attitude, just how I like 'em!)
Next up we have this little beaut...
This award come from Angie over at Seven Clown Circus who has five (yes, five!) beautiful children and the most gorgeous red hair I have ever seen. Oh yeah, she's a great writer too - thanks Angie!
I'd like to pass this along to some whose beautiful photos always make my day - Corey at Living and Loving Every Minute of It.
It must be true folks! Great minds do think alike (and fools seldom differ, but anywhoo...) I received this brillante award from not one, not two, but FOUR of my favorite bloggy friends...
Many, many thanks to Shellie at Little But Loud, Zoom at Knitnut, Texasholly at June Cleaver Nirvana and April at It's All About Balance. Thank you all ladies! Since all four of you have honored me I think it's only fitting that I pass it along to four deserving bloggers - cheers to the outrageous Tranny Head at Law School Sucks and So Do Lawyers, the thought-provoking Vered at Mom Grind, the adorable Colleen at Mommy Always Wins and the Sarah Palin doppelganger Amy at Milk Breath and Margaritas!
My next fancy-schmancy award is from a fellow Ontario gal and new friend Mary Lynn at Riding In A Handbasket...
Thank you Mary Lynn - it's gonna look incredible on my mantle. I'd like to pass this award along to yet another good old Canadian gal - one of my favorite reads - Zoeyjane at Mommy is Moody.
Before I sign off I wanted to tell you about a really fabulous dinner party to which I was recently invited. It was all the brainchild of one of my lovely guest posters Auds at Barking Mad. In the spirit of promoting inclusiveness and friendship in the blogopshere she recently challenged some of us bloggers to issue "dinner" invites to 10 bloggers with whom they would love to share a meal.
I love Auds' idea. There are lots of people out there who you and I adore and everyone adores but, along with my favs, I wanted to welcome to our table some bloggers out there who may be new to you. Here all the folks with whom I'd love to break bread:
1. Laura at Walking the Lunatic Fringe - one of my first-ever readers, we have a ton in common and I know we'd get on like gangbusters
2. Christine at Flutter - she's brave and she's beautiful and her writing takes my breath away
3. Kittenpie at Life of Pie - I have met her and she's knows she's lovely,plus she's a librarian and I love to talk about books
4. Jen at Lords of the Manor - she always leaves such interesting and thoughtful comments, it's obvious she's one smart, opinionated cookie
5. Kristen at Mighty Morphin' Mama - she is an inspiration - writer, home schooler, mom of many - whew!
6. Shannon at Whiskey in My Sippy Cup - she's cool and fun and you know she's gonna get the party started!
7. Toostie Farklepants at Vintage Thirty - she's gorgeous and she's hilarious: her name alone is an icebreaker - it's Tootsie Farklepants for gawd's sake!
8. OHMommy from Classy Chaos - trust me my dinner parties are usually sorely in need of a touch of class...
9. Busy Dad from Tales From Dad Side - a touch of testosterone is always good and plus I've met him and he rawks.
10. Backpacking Dad - so Busy Dad doesn't get too overwhelmed by all that estrogen and also? He too rawks.
Just make sure you all bring lotsa wine 'kay?
See why I'm so freaking exhausted? I hope you enjoy a fabulous holiday weekend. I'll be putting up a new recipe soon and then leaving you in good hands until September 8th.
Enjoy my wonderful guest posters and try not to miss me too much...
Okay, miss me just a little.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I have never actually stepped on a land mine.
Unlike Jerry White I have never been physically been blown apart just when I least expected it.
But emotional blasts? Ah yes, I've survived a few. Like everyone else, I've had to confront my fair share and as I've slugged my way through I'm always reminded of the old saying "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
Jerry White not only agrees with that statement, he wrote a book detailing how you can actually make the old proverb your truth. White is the author of I Will Not be Broken, 5 Steps to Overcoming A Life Crisis: I agreed to write a plug for his book because I think his work with American military veterans is an inspiration and I think sometimes we all need to be reminded of how to turn lemons into lemonade.
Read more about Jerry White, Survivor Corps and I Will Not Be Broken over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews...
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I played God last week.
I made a life-altering decision regarding the health care of one of my oldest and dearest friends.
And I'm still not sure I made the right decision for the right reasons.
This is Horace.
You don't have to look too closely to see that Horace has a rather pronounced growth under his left eye. Up close it's about the size of a marble and resembles a blister, but it's firm. He's had it for about a year now. We thought it was going away at one point but he scratched at it and it swelled up large and angry before settling down to its current size where it's remained for a few months. It doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest.
I like to think of Horace as my first born. I swooped him away from a litter when he was five weeks old because I feared neither he nor his mother were being cared for properly in a party house inhabited by a rotating group of young 20-somethings.
Horace became instantly, inordinately attached to me, accompanying me daily to work and on errands and weekend trips to my parent's house. He was there that Saturday night when I invited in for a nightcap the shaggy-haired guy who had driven me home from a party on his motorcycle. Only after that shaggy-haired guy made a big fuss over Horace did I realize he might be the future father of my child.
Horace's vet says the growth probably isn't cancerous now but could very well become cancerous in the future. She also said that, because it's so close to his eye, the only way to remove it would be to knock him out completely with general anesthetic.
The procedure would cost over $1,100 and Horace would be at the vet's for two days.
Horace is 11 and a half years old. Horace is a homebody who hates to be out of our sight for more than a few minutes. Horace also has a heart murmur - something we determined a few years back, after several hundred dollars of tests.
Horace is not going to get his growth removed.
I can't face it, quite frankly.
I can't face watching him shake and cry (yes, he sounds just like a baby) with stress when I leave him to a doctor who will administer an anesthetic from which he might not ever wake (putting older animals under is always risky), to remove a growth that he's lived with happily for a year.
Animals don't understand that certain things we subject them to are for their own good: they don't understand that sometimes short-term pain now staves off long-term misery later. I cannot rationalize this to my Horace: all he will experience is sheer terror and confusion.
And Horace is getting older. And Horace is my baby. And I can't do it.
And $1,100 is a lot of money.
Rob thinks I am making a mistake. He thinks the growth could turn cancerous later and then it will be too late to operate. He thinks Horace has many good years left and that I will never forgive myself if he dies prematurely because I didn't give him proper treatment when he was still relatively young and healthy.
But Rob is deferring to me, because ultimately he knows that Horace is my responsibility and my baby. But I know he thinks I am making a mistake. I know he thinks I am taking the easy route because it is easier, cheaper and more convenient right now.
I wish I could be sure he was wrong.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Upon waking yesterday...
Graham: "Uh-oh mama, uh-oh, UH-OH!"
Me: "What is it? What's the matter?"
Graham: "I've got some strange poopies down here."
At dinner last night
Supermodel/ waitress to Graham: "How are you doing, cutie?"
Graham: "I HAVE POOPIES!"
Upon leaving for the babysitter's this morning:
Me: "Are you ready to go sweetie?"
Graham: "Yes mama, I have my belly button and my penis and I'm ready to go!"
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The end of summer is nigh and we all survived another bikini season!
Time to put away those hair shirts and embrace the comfortable bulk that is fall. Now that you all know to avoid leather pants and flood pants and most especially, leather, flood pants, let's take a look at five more of the hot 2008 fall and winter fashion trends as per Elle magazine.
I'm pretty sure we've got some keepers this time...
To check out part two of this scintillating series click on over to my Shooting For Hip column at Better Than A Playdate...
Friday, August 22, 2008
Did you even know there was such a thing as "sight words"?
Despite the fact that my mother was a kindergarten teacher for 40 years, I had never even heard the term.
For my fellow cave dwellers, sight words - of, and, he and you, for example - are words that don't follow basic decoding rules and must be memorized by new readers. Kids who learn early to memorize these words - also called instant, star and high frequency words - find learning to read much less frustrating.
I only learned of this whole concept when the Parent Bloggers Network offered me a chance to review a DVD designed to help teach kids how to memorize sight words. Rob and I have been reading to Graham on a regular basis since he was a baby but I've never really considered the logistics involved in him learning to read for himself, so I thought perhaps it might be a good idea to give it a shot.
Click on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews to read about our experience with Meet The Sight Words 1...
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
What if I told you there is a delicious and easy dessert you can make in less than half an hour that is gluten and lactose-free and uses no eggs or butter?
I am not lying! And while they're not magic, LeeAnne's gluten-free crispy honey almond bars are pretty darn close. Check them out over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Reason 9,841 why I'm proud of my father.
It was Sunday afternoon. We were standing on the dock chatting while he pumped water out of the floats on his plane. A boy, about 10 years of age, approached across the lawn. He was visually impaired, tapping his way with a cane and assisted by an older man, his father.
He shook hands with my father - bush pilot, hunter, banjo-player, dog-lover - and presented him with a bottle of wine and a note, written in Braille and English.
"Dear Mr. Graham, Thank you for letting me go up in your plane and letting
me fly it the first time. I hope you have a good summer. From Cameron."
And just like that, my father taught me that sometimes doing a favor for someone else is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I was too busy finally enjoying a perfect summer weekend - the kind I feared had been left behind in childhood forever - to reflect on how Don Mills Diva has changed and grown in one year of existence.
Suffice to say this past weekend was a perfect way to celebrate:
A diva realizes there's still a little bit of summer left in her after all...
Remember when fall meant hitting the mall with your mom in search of the perfect back to school outfit that would instantly transform you into the most sought-after girl in junior high?
Well, fall is right around the corner and just because you're not heading back to school doesn't mean you can't hit the shops in search of fall trends that will make you feel like a schoolgirl again.
Okay, maybe not exactly like a schoolgirl. I mean, there are some cool, wearable trends on offer this fall but they aren't, you know, magic clothes.
And really, who wants to feel like a schoolgirl again anyway? Not me. I was many years removed from academia before I got truly in touch with my diva side.
But it's not about me anyway. It's about the clothes. I picked 10 fall fashion must haves from Elle magazine's September 2008 issue and I'm gonna look at five this week. Ready? Let's do this thing.
Click on over to my Shooting for Hip column at Better Than a Playdate to read the rest.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Tell everyone you'll bring dessert this week. And then click over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews and check out LeeAnne's latest fabulous offering - an easy-peasy, gluten-free, lemon-almond cake.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Graham does not appreciate a damn thing I do for him.
He doesn't appreciate that most days I spend my lunch hours running errands so I can devote my time after work to playing hide and seek or kicking the soccer ball around or going to the park even though I'm usually so tired I just want to collapse on the couch.
He doesn't appreciate the effort I put into providing healthy and tasty food, fun and educational toys and books, and stylish and comfortable clothing. He doesn't appreciate that he lives in a lovely house with a huge yard and a pool and, more importantly, that he has two devoted parents who love each other, four healthy grandparents who dote on him and a huge, loving extended family
He doesn't appreciate that his father has introduced him to movie stars and that his grandfather is a bush pilot and that his mother has already started an account to fund his future travel and educational pursuits.
He clearly feels that he is due the terms of endearment, the gentle admonishments, the tender snuggles and the loving kisses that rain on him daily like manna from above.
Graham has absolutely no clue how incredibly lucky he is.
And I'm glad.
I am glad that Graham assumes every child in the world is loved as well as he is. I'm glad that he knows nothing of illness and stress and work, of friendships that end and nerves that fray and people who change. I'm glad that he knows nothing of the million and one mundane details of daily life that conspire to wear adults down.
It is with a strange mixture of envy and frustration and joy that I watch my son skip through his days, oblivious to the suffering in the world and indeed, at times, in his own home. There are times when the child in me feels staggered by the unfairness inherent in his oblivion but then I remind myself that it wasn't always so: it wasn't until my adulthood that I understood the difficulties my parents endured throughout my childhood.
And that's the way it should be, ideally. Isn't that one of the reasons we have children? Bouts of uncertainty and worry and stress are inevitable for every adult: at least parents who suffer them have the satisfaction of watching someone they love and care for enjoy blissful ignorance.
I know that Graham will not pass through life without experiencing bouts of uncertainty and worry and stress: ultimately I would not want him to. They are parts of life just as surely as is the unqualified happiness he experiences now. And besides everyone knows that in order for someone to really appreciate the good in life, they have to suffer the bad.
But Graham has yet to suffer the bad and thus Graham is completely unappreciative of how good he has it now.
Graham does not appreciate a damn thing I do for him.
And for now I am both grateful for, and proud of, that.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen we have a winner!
Click on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews and find out
who picks up a free copy of Nick Heil's Dark Summit...
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
At the risk of drawing your ire, let me just say this:
The little girl on the left is cuter than the little girl on the right.
Now when I say cuter, I mean conventionally prettier. The little girl on the left has a heart-shaped face, a wide smile with even teeth, sparkling eyes and long hair. The little girl on the right does not.
The little girl on the left captured millions of hearts around the world during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics when she appeared to sing Ode to the Motherland. The little girl on the right actually did the singing. And now both of them are at the centre of a media firestorm over a decision by Chinese officials to replace the original singer with a more aesthetically-pleasing ringer.
"It was for the national interest," said the ceremony's musical director. "The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression."
Are you shocked? You shouldn't be. It was the type of decision people in North America make every day, no every hour, on your behalf, in an effort to provide you with maximum bang for your entertainment bucks.
I work in the film and television business. I work to help produce the shows that you and your family enjoy in your living room and at your neighborhood multiplex. My husband does too and he works closely with actors, both children and adults.
Oh, the stories we could tell you.
People constantly lament the emphasis on one's physical appearance as it specifically applies to young women, but in the entertainment business physical appearance is everything, no matter what your age or gender.
If a character is written as a frail old man, the actor will be chosen and stylized to exactly match the director's vision of what type of frail old man will best resonate with audiences and make the project a success. If the character is an awkward teenager, the actor will be chosen and stylized based on the same criteria. And if the character is a young woman, well... same thing. And that's what everyone writes about, isn't it?
Show business is a business. It is a business where vast sums of money depend on whether an audience warms to a character. In the family friendly films many of us watch regularly, millions and millions of dollars ride on the audience identifying with a character often portrayed by a child actor.
Make no mistake: before that child is cast, countless others are subject to a painstakingly thorough and rigorous scrutiny of their physical appearance and everything else. The "winner" is the one best able to project exactly in the fashion in which producers have calculated will maximize profits.
It is no secret that the opening ceremonies in Beijing were largely designed to impress Western audiences and to demonstrate to the Chinese people that their country was capable of pulling off an extravaganza that met or surpassed the standards set by North American entertainment producers.
Instead of being upset over the decision to showcase the cuter child, perhaps we should ask ourselves why Chinese officials thought it was necessary.
Posted by Don Mills Diva at 7:15 AM
Monday, August 11, 2008
Loving food as I do, I often feel bad for my mother-in-law.
In addition to being somewhat lactose intolerant, she is highly allergic to gluten which means that so many of the tasty treats I take for granted are verboten to her. Breads, pastries, beer, even gravy and sauces with traces of flour are all off-limits.
Lucky for my mother-in-law, however, my lovely sister-in-law and chef extraordinaire LeeAnne also feels bad for her. LeeAnne feels so bad, in fact, that she has spent many, many hours developing and perfecting delicious gluten-free deserts on her behalf.
This August I'm proud to be featuring some of LeeAnne's greatest gluten-free creations over at Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews. To kick things off click on over and check out her recipe for Best-Ever, Gluten-Free Brownies!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I have always been intrigued by Nepal and specifically by Mount Everest.
In June of 2001 Rob and I were on our way to a travel agency to discuss a flight to Kathmandu and a trek to Everest base camp when we heard over the car radio that Nepal's Crown Prince Diprendra had shot and killed his parents and seven other members of royal family before committing suicide during a dinner party.
Plan B was formulated on our (correct) assumption that the murders would throw the country into political turmoil and instead in October 2001 we trekked in the Andes Mountains in Peru where we hiked a 4,200 metre peak (13, 780 ft) and, incidentally, got engaged.
A trip to Everest remains a distant dream for both of us and when I say Everest, I mean Everest base camp, which at 5,208 metres (17, 090 ft) is the highest I would ever attempt to climb, remembering as I do the nausea, headaches and fatigue we experienced as a result of oxygen deprivation in Peru.
Everest stands 8,848 metres (29, 029 feet). Anything above 8,000 metres is considered the death zone: a place where the brain swells, blood vessels leak and fluid accumulates in the lungs. I am both fascinated and horrified by human compulsion to summit Everest and so when Random House offered me a review copy of Nick Heil's Dark Summit, The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Climbing Season, I jumped at it.
Click over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews to read my take on the book and to enter for a chance to win your very own copy of Nick Heil's Dark Summit.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Despite what you may have read about my money-grubbing ways, I'm really not an overly materialistic person.
I have always been attracted to unique and interesting clothing and things, the likes of which I've often found in thrift shops and bargain bins and out-the-way stores where unearthing a hidden gem is akin to stumbling across long-buried treasure.
But over the last several months there is something I have been coveting: something very beautiful and very expensive.
Despite myself, I fell inexplicably in love with a purse and though for months I rejected its siren call on the basis of cost and practicality, the wonderful staff at the job I just left reached deep into their hearts and pocketbooks to make it possible for me to satiate my yearning.
Now I don't want you to think I've lost that kinda vintage-y thing I have going for me and that I've rejected my lovely old purse.
I haven't: it's cool and funky and it has sentimental value.
But the new one?
Be still my beating heart.
Posted by Don Mills Diva at 10:42 PM
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Monday was busy at our house.
It was a holiday and we spent it entertaining a dear friend from university, her husband and their two children, aged six years and nine months. The kids played and splashed in the pool and the adults attempted to visit and enjoy a meal.
And it was busy.
Neither entertaining nor visiting are quite the same when little ones are underfoot. There are glorious messes made of carefully chosen food and drink. There is constant running and fetching. There are conversations interrupted in mid-sentence by a cry or a shriek or worse, a prolonged silence.
And so it was with no small sense of satisfaction that a few hours in I finally exhaled on our deck, lifted a glass of wine and congratulated myself on pulling off a warm and welcoming afternoon: the meal had been enjoyed, the parents were relaxing and the kids were safely tucked away in the downstairs playroom.
But just moments later I caught my breath when my friend's husband returned from a check downstairs clutching Graham's hand. My son was sobbing as if his little heart would break.
"Graham was just sitting by himself in the corner crying," he said. "I asked him what was wrong and he said he couldn't help it, he just missed his mommy today."
My heart sank as I opened my arms, gathered him to me and smothered him with kisses.
And just as surely as Graham's tears dried up so did the smug sense that I had somehow managed to create an afternoon where everyone had been touched by my warmth and hospitality.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I would take a bullet for Graham.
I wouldn't think twice. If I believed Graham was facing any kind of mortal danger I would fight to the death to protect him from harm.
I would die before I let anyone hurt Graham.
Pretty dramatic sentiments, to be sure. But if you have kids you are undoubtedly shrugging and saying, "Of course. Me too. What parent wouldn't?"
We are hardwired to protect our children. It is, without a doubt, instinctual. What is in doubt, however, and what has been weighing on my mind so heavily these last few days I can scarcely think of anything else, is how far the average person would go to protect a fellow human with whom they don't share DNA?
Most of you have likely heard of the unspeakably horrific murder that occurred on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba, Canada last week. If you are Canadian like me, you are probably similarly devastated and wearied and beaten by the constant gruesome updates that have flooded our media.
It was a completely unprovoked attack. Twenty-three-year-old Tim McLean was stabbed repeatedly, beheaded and further mutilated by a fellow passenger who was previously unknown to him. Thirty-seven other passengers hastily removed themselves from harm's way: not one of them attempted to intervene in the attack.
Should they have? Could they have prevented his death? The debate is raging in this country. Some say Mr. McLean was likely already dead before anyone realized what was happening and therefore it was prudent for fellow passengers to flee. Others say they should have intervened, if only to prevent further indignity to his body.
If Graham was being attacked neither stark terror nor fear of imminent death would keep me from intervening.
But if a total stranger - perhaps someone you love - was being attacked?
It is this scenario that has me soul searching. I have spent hours tossing and turning this past week, haunted by my boy's darling face, seeking clarity about the true meaning of humanity, and finding that answers elude me just as surely as do sleep and peace of mind.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Once I became a mom and hit my mid-30s I was forced to rethink my personal style rules and tips. Heck, even things I believed to be irrevocable truths about beauty and fashion, just didn't seem like the best ideas any more.
Time has forced my to rewrite the book on what does and what does not work for me. I'm a mom. I'm 38 and holding and here's what I've learned, or in some cases unlearned, about style over the past decade.
Check out my hard-earned wisdom over at my Shooting For Hip column at Better Than a Playdate. I'm still no Anna Wintour - but hey, I'm tryin'.
Friday, August 1, 2008
When I was a child summer lasted forever.
Summer was a kingdom onto itself where I was the queen and each endless day was tailor- made for my pleasure.
My childhood was spent splashing at the lake, practicing somersaults in the water and building sand castles to house my dreams. My teenage years were a blur of short shorts and suntans and sticky-sweet air heavy with possibility.
Summer is a melancholy time for me now. The older I get, the more I feel its essence slipping from my grasp. I no longer expect to enjoy endless sunshine, lazy days and sultry nights: I find myself yearning for just a day or two - a few hours even - in which I feel that the rays on my face are reflecting the joy in my heart.
Age, it seems, has stolen my ability to live in the moment. I am compelled to peer anxiously forward, planning next week, next month, next year: fearing winter's chill even as the sun shines warm and bright.
I wonder if Graham thinks that summer will last forever.
I wonder if he will view these days, these sweet moments, so rushed and random to me, through a lens designed to colour and stretch them. I wonder if they will forever be rendered longer and brighter and sweeter in his memory.
I wonder when he will start to feel, as I do, that the seasons seem to blend one into the other. I wonder how old he will be when he realizes that autumn, with its rain and ruin, is waiting in the wings.