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Waterproof

Happy Tuesday! It’s the day after a record-breaking rainfall drenched Toronto, leaving commuters stuck in subway stations and stranded in vehicles all across the city. Peter Kimbell, a meteorologist at Environment Canada, confirms that this rainfall is ranked among the most intense rainfalls the city has ever experienced, with 90 mm of rain within 90 minutes. In total, 126 mm of rain fell at Pearson yesterday, with the original record of 121 mm being set by Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

What does that mean for Torontonians today? Twenty thousand people are still without power, concentrated mostly in the west end of the GTA; TTC and GO Train services have been impacted; and the clean-up will continue for those in the city with flooded basements and damaged property.

Short of putting your home up on stilts, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to completely flood-proof your home, but there are a lot of things that can be done to help reduce the damage of a flood like yesterday’s.

For one thing, I listen to the warnings. So much can be prevented if the warnings put out by Environment Canada are taken seriously and not brushed off until it’s too late to do anything about it. I always have this semi-irrational fear that ignoring a flood warning will leave me sloshing around soaked and stinky carpets and picking up the pieces of ruined furniture, electronics and family albums. And then, of course, there’s the mould. So I listen, I take them seriously and I do whatever I can do last minute to prepare.

I clear my gutters, drains, and downspouts. Okay, I get my husband to clear my gutters, drains, and downspouts. That’s totally the same thing.

We don’t have anything that needs it in our basement right now, but I always do a check to see if I’ve got any furniture, electronics or appliances that are in harm’s way, so that I can raise them onto concrete blocks.

I get my hands on some sandbags and I use them anywhere I expect water to be able to seep in.

None of these are major retrofits or impermeable solutions, but a couple dollars spent could be your defense against tens of thousands of dollars in major damage caused by flood damage, so I do what I can.

I’m sending a ton of well wishes and positive energy to all fellow Torontonians still dealing with the aftermath of yesterday’s rainfall.

Win a copy of Toronto Caribbean Carnival: A Tribute

Do you want to enjoy the Caribbean Carnival year round? Women’s Post is offering one reader the chance to win David Ayres’ gorgeous coffee table book Toronto Caribbean Carnival – A Tribute. With 300+ colour photographs and fascinating history summaries of each element, this book is a great way to learn about and relive the Carnival. Enter today for your chance to win.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, August 6th, at 2 p.m.

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CONTEST: Win white gold diamond stud earrings

Do you long for more sparkle in your life? Women’s Post is giving one reader the chance to win a pair of white gold diamond stud earrings from Classic Jewellery. Specializing  in custom jewellery design and restyling, Classic Jewellery also provides on-site repairs for both jewellery and watches. Enter today for your chance to win.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Friday, August 2nd, at 2 p.m.

 

CONTEST CLOSED

RECIPE: Banana bread sandwich

Susan Russom is the author of The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

A toasty sweet treat!

Two hunks of fresh or toasty grilled banana bread can be sandwiched with sweet ingredients, such as ice cream, grilled bananas, or peanut butter and jelly. Banana bread is a quick bread—a sweet, cakey type made with baking soda instead of yeast—that contains mashed ripe bananas. It is typically flavored with vanilla extract, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. Making banana bread from scratch is easy, but for a truly low-maintenance brunch, a store-bought loaf is your best bet. Thanks to well-known chefs such as Paula Deen, this old-fashioned favorite has been getting a lot of attention as the foundation of a delicious dessert sandwich.

  • Vanilla Spice Cream Cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pure maple extract
  • 1 loaf banana bread, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced on the diagonal

1. In a bowl with a mixer, combine cream cheese and cinnamon. Slowly add vanilla, maple syrup, and maple extract, beating until smooth and fluffy. 2. Butter both sides of banana bread slices. Place on a hot griddle and toast 2 minutes per side; set aside. In the same griddle, melt butter, add banana slices, and cook 1 minute per side, or until golden. Sandwich cream cheese mixture and grilled bananas and serve warm.

Makes 4 to 6

Go Bananas!

  • Banana Bread Tea Sandwiches: Cut sandwiches into finger-length pieces.
  • Banana Bread PB&Js: Use banana bread instead of white bread.
  • Banana Bread Elvis: Smother sliced bananas and bacon with peanut butter on grilled banana bread.
  • Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwiches: Place a scoop or two of ice cream between two slices of grilled banana bread.

 

Excerpted from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo Copyright © 2011 by Susan Russo. Excerpted by permission of Quirk Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Honour your hunger

I hate being hungry. I think most people do. It’s a feeling that’s hard to ignore. Sometimes when I’m really, really hungry, I get angry too. (Ever heard of “hangry”?) I try to remember to pack a baggie of almonds everywhere I go so as not to cause bodily harm to others.

Anyone who’s ever been on a diet or tried to lose weight has come up against hunger. Hunger is something you might think you have to control or trick. You can try to control it by eating proper proportions of macronutrients (protein and fat will make you feel full) and by eating at regular intervals. You can try to trick it by drinking a glass of water or distracting yourself by doing chores. Do these strategies work? Maybe for a while. But it’s not easy to fight hunger day in and day out. Perhaps it’s time to step back and take a look at our relationship with hunger.

Firstly, what is hunger? It’s your body telling you something: to eat more. Is that necessarily bad? I can think of two reasons why it would do that. The more obvious one is that you haven’t eaten enough calories to meet its needs. Your body doesn’t like it when you severely under-eat, especially when the demands put on it are high. You’ve probably heard of “starvation mode.” Chronic under-eating will cause your body to lower its metabolic rate in order to hang on to the limited calories you’re putting into it. Hunger is a helpful signal that you’d better eat soon or starvation mode will kick in. It’s okay to skip a meal every now and again but relentless caloric restriction will most definitely do damage to your metabolism, damage that your body might not ever be able to repair.

The less obvious reason why hunger nags at you is that your body is looking for something that’s missing. The issue is not that you’re not getting enough calories; it’s that you’re not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals. (This often happens when people fall into “food ruts” and eat the same foods over and over again. Spinach salad with chicken breast, anyone? Eating a wide array of foods and managing stress are ways of making sure your body has adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Think of it this way: a hungry body is a seeking body. Perhaps we should listen to our bodies’ signals instead of ignoring them. We often treat our bodies like they’re stupid. But they’re always acting in our best interest to help us and doing the best with what we put into them. True hunger is not something to be pushed aside; it’s something we should honour.

 

 

Women of the Week: Krista Bridge

Bullying knows no boundaries. It can happen to children in a schoolyard, to adults working away at the office and between siblings at the dinner table. In Krista Bridge’s new novel, The Eliot Girls, she draws from personal experience as she explores the various depths of bullying at a private school for girls.

The germ of the novel had been kicking around in the back of Bridge’s mind for years and stems from a time when she was a student at St. Clement’s, a private school in Toronto where bullying was afoot.

“It really was just something I’ve lived through and it really made me want to write about it because it’s such a key experience to the development to my own identity,” says Bridge. “It was something that went on every day, sometimes in subtle ways, not necessarily in big ways. And it’s such a huge part of growing up.”

Bridge eventually left St. Clement’s to attend a public school for the last two years of high school.

In 2007, when she was pregnant with her first son, Bridge became serious about writing the novel. After her son was born, she mastered the parenting skill of maintaining a regular naptime routine, which allowed her to write for an hour and a half each day, chipping away at the novel a little more as her son slept.

Not too long after she started to get the foundation for the novel, the theme of bullying emerged.

“I’ve been through bullying and I’ve been on both ends of it really,” she says. “I’ve been a bully and I’ve been a victim. I haven’t been a bully in any sort of terrible offence, but I think a lot of students occupy this kind of middle ground where they move between those roles. And, at least in my schooling experience, most people weren’t always the victim or always the bully. Although some people certainly were.”

Even though there are some parallels between the novel and her youth, at the end of the day it’s a writer and her fiction. George Eliot Academy is not St. Clement’s – it’s a fictionalized private school.

Even with such a strong theme of bullying threaded through, Bridge didn’t write it with a principled message in mind.

“I really wasn’t trying to construct a moral message. I really didn’t really have that objective at all,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about it from that vantage point of, you know, the social good. But I was really just thinking about it as a writer and how much that story interested me as something that I had lived through.”

She also looks into the lives of the educators, exposing their humanity and the way their private lives are reflected in the way they teach.

Bridge’s writing career began in 2002 when she had a short story published in Toronto Life.  She also attended the Humber School for Writers under the mentorship of Elizabeth Harvor.

“She was wonderful. She was so supportive, so helpful, so instrumental to my development as a writer in the beginning,” she says.

The program resonated with Bridge so much she decided to take the program for a second year, furthering her relationship with Harvor.

In 2006, Bridge released The Virgin Spy (Douglas & McIntyre), her debut collection of short stories. She was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Relit Award.

The Eliot Girls (Douglas & McIntyre) was launched on June 19 at the Dora Keogh Pub as part of the Fine Print Reading Series.

 

We need to talk: The worst words you can hear in a relationship

“We need to talk,” are probably the four worst words you can hear in a relationship, whether that relationship is friendly or romantic literally nothing good happens after that sentence.

Last week I said those words, not to Boyfriend, but to one of my best friends. I told her that it was time we had a chat about her insistence on returning to her ex over and over and over again. They broke up a while ago because they have very different views on relationships and several other reasons that are not mine to tell. The day they broke up I was there for her and I was there for her every time she took him back after that but there comes a point when you just can’t do it anymore. So I told her, after seeing her falter and slide back into their old routine, that we had to talk, now.

There is no good time to tell your friend that you hate her boyfriend, there really isn’t, but after the break up you should feel safe to tell her that she can do better. Shouldn’t you? Not when she keeps going back to the same guy.

But you can only watch your friends hurt for so long before saying something isn’t really a choice but a necessity; our friendship now has a rule, no more talking about her ex and I can’t be the shoulder to cry on anymore.

The whole talk was short but I felt terrible. I felt like I shouldn’t be allowed to comment on someone’s broken relationship when mine is going so well, like somehow I lost my right to say something when I met Boyfriend.

In the end I want my friend to be happy, that’s it. I want her to see how beautiful and talented she is; I want her to walk away from the man who’s only made her miserable and my opinion wouldn’t be any different if I were still single.  I’m thankful that my friends never let me go back to some of the guys I dated before Boyfriend; one night my best friends spent two hours talking me out of a relationship with a boy who had been awful to me but I had never been able to see it.

Sometimes we all need a talking to–not all the time, but sometimes–and it helps. Maybe I couldn’t make my friend change her mind about her ex but at least someone finally told her the truth, at least finally someone said, “We need to talk.” If it had to be someone, I’m glad it was me. I doubt my friend knows how much she means to me but I hope one day to be sitting at her wedding watching her in love and happy.

Love isn’t easy. Some people are worth fighting for and some just aren’t. If you’re not happy, give up the fight and go find someone who will love you, someone who your friends can at the very least respect.

Shannon Hunter: The perfect time to say ‘I love you’

There have been a couple of moments recently where I’ve realized that I’m not just in love with Boyfriend, I’m head over heels cartoon birds singing me songs when I wake up IN LOVE. But I still don’t know how to say it; probably because I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to find the perfect time to say the words, “I. Love. You.”

I don’t think there is a perfect time though, I don’t think that we need to be on the island with all of our friends, or on a trip to the beach or anything other than with each other; as many times as I’ve said it to the air for it to count he kind of has to be in the same room and within hearing distance.

I’ve taken to poking at him and saying his name but every time he says, “What?” I sing-song, “Never mind,” which drives him mad but it’s become an inside joke between us; it reminds me of The Princess Bride, never mind is my as you wish.

I was afraid before, afraid to wait the eons that exist between, I love you and I love you too, but now my fear is outweighed by my desire to tell him how much he means to me. I’m a lucky girl, how I ended up with someone who can make my heart speed up and slowdown in the same breath I don’t know. But I do know that I am a lucky girl. I never thought I would find someone who fit perfectly in to my life and into my heart.

I’m terrified that he won’t say it back, I’ve never been more afraid of anything, but I don’t need to find the perfect time to tell him that I love him, I just need to tell him. I can tell him when we’re making dinner, when we’re going for a swim at my pool or when we’re sitting on the couch watching more HBO than we probably should; because there is no perfect time to tell someone that your life is better with them in it.

So my life is better with Boyfriend in it and I need him to know that because the words are practically bursting from my throat, because saying it is better than not saying it, because even if he doesn’t say it back I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. But he better say it.

Maybe I’ll say it tomorrow, maybe I’ll say it the next time he wears the blue shirt that makes his own blue eyes sparkle, maybe I’ll say it the next time I fall asleep next to him after a day in the sunshine or maybe I’ll just say it the next time he smiles at me. I’ll never find the right time and nothing in life is ever perfect but maybe I’ll luck out and find a slightly more appropriate time than while playing video games or falling asleep.

Women of the week: ILana Tarutina

Music has always been a big part of ILana Tarutina’s life. She started singing in choirs at the age of 8, then started taking private vocal lessons and piano lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music. With the knowledge gained from this, she started composing and creating tracks.

“By the age of 14 I was writing my own songs and at 16 I got my first set of music production equipment and started dabbling with arranging and beat making,” she says.

Now, she owns ILE Records, a company that offers songwriting, composition, production, recording and mixing.
“I’m proud of myself for building my production studio from scratch,“ she says.

As a female producer, she is an oddity in her field. She is quick to recognize this fact, yet remains hopeful for change.
“Unfortunately in my industry, men still heavily dominate the role of a music producer. I’m sure that will change within time, as there are more and more female producers on the rise.”

Despite this amazing accomplishment, she is still incredibly humble and is quick to recognize that she is not a perfect fit for everyone.
“As far as me producing for other artists goes, it’s all about what the artist is looking for, sometimes I may be a good fit sometimes someone else may be a better fit. I know what I bring to the table, I know my sound and production styles and I am aware that it doesn’t suit everybody.”

Although her producing venture has been a success, she hasn’t given up on her writing, and cites that her goal “is to write great songs, be it for me or other artists.”

And, yes, she is still a singer—and an original one at that.

“I’ve been told that I have a unique sound, perhaps it’s because I use original sounds in my production, perhaps it’s because when I sing I have a Russian accent!”

As a female producer with a unique sound, it is safe to say that ILana Tarutina is one of a kind. She is also a fighter, which is why she made it in her industry.

“Anybody entering the music industry has to be resilient,” she says. “Expect lots of pit falls and disappointments and forget overnight success. To make it in every industry requires lots of determination and hard work, in music industry that is especially true since it’s 1000 times more competitive than other industries. A song can be an overnight hit, but the legwork to make that song can be years.”

Sound advice from someone who has spent her entire life in the field.

WP partying with Psy at the official MuchMusic Video Awards afterparty

Last night saw downtown Toronto again play host to the MuchMusic Video Awards and, for the first time, I had a VIP invite to one of the official after parties.

As the Canadian coordinator for MMVA co-host Psy’s dancers, as well as dancing in the show himself, my friend Ryan Scheel was invited to the official Universal Music Canada after party at Uniun nightclub.  Being Ryan’s BFF, I got to be his date for the event.  (Side note:  Ryan is attractive, single, and you can poke him on Facebook.)

When Ryan told me we’d be going to an MMVA after party the teenage boy inside of me got excited.  I remember watching the MMVA’s as a teen, imagining how amazing and lavish these parties must be; I fantasized about a room packed with celebrities, each of them able to be themselves as cameras were confiscated at the door.  This would be my chance to finally experience this from the inside.

We arrived at Uniun shortly after 12:30am and I took note of the limousines and absurdly long Lincoln Navigators parked around the block.  It seemed to be a good sign.  The bouncer at the front of the building gave us directions on how we would get into the club.  We made our way to a side door — how very VIP — and ventured inside.

At this point, I began to realize our night was not going to be what I had hoped and imagined for.

The massive nightclub was packed with people and in comparison to the blazers, bowties, and dress pants Ryan and I had worn, I spotted several basic Hanes-style white tanktops, a plethora of jeans, and even one sophisticated gentleman in track pants.

All I had wanted was to sit and watch Demi Lovato hammer back some Jager-bombs or see Avril Lavigne argue with husband Chad Kroeger over whose hair looked prettier in the nightclub light but it seemed that my night was going in a very different direction.

Disheartened, we made our way to the bar.  The booze may not have been complimentary but I certainly wasn’t going to leave without having a beer after I had schlepped my dressed-up self at midnight to a nightclub across town.

Sweating and unable to talk over the music, I made my way to the basement level of the club where the atmosphere was more laid back and the volume of people was closer to what I was expecting of a MMVA “VIP” after party.

After about ten minutes, I ran into a friend of mine, Mike Sleath, who is a drummer for various Canadian pop acts including Shawn Desman, Jesse Labelle, and Alyssa Reid.  We chatted about the MMVA’s and the fact that we were both doomed to wearing our jackets until we left the club for fear of revealing the sweaty mess underneath.  It was kind of a celebrity run in, I told myself; at least through association, anyway.

The basement level began to get busier, and I was introduced to many of the dancers from earlier in the evening.  Most of them were finalists on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and the pretty redhead was the winner of season 4, Jordan Clark.

Okay, so they weren’t exactly big name stars, but at least I’d be able to tell people I’d met someone at the party.

A circle began to form and one by one the dancers entered into it, showcasing their incredible, toned bodies and sensual dance moves.  It was like being in a scene from the latest Step Up movie.  Part of me felt the urge to jump inside and show them what I can do — which is pretty much just gyrate off beat like I’m having a seizure – however I smartly decided against it.

Someone grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear, “That’s Psy in the white shirt.”

Sure enough, 6 feet in front of me was the man who had been viewed more than a billion times on YouTube.

I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and readied my camera in hope of something awesome happening.  And then it did.  Psy broke loose of his minder and jumped into the dance-off circle.  I began recording, in spite of his minder’s best efforts to stop anyone from capturing the moment.  By the time he tried blocking my lens, I’d already posted the 7 second clip online.  Thanks Vine.

 

Shortly after, Psy was hurried out of the club.  It made me sad; the poor guy had just finished working his butt off at the MMVA’s and wanted to blow off a little steam.  Yes, people had their camera phones out but he wasn’t doing anything inappropriate.  He was simply dancing with some of the talented people who had help make his performance such a success.  It was hardly reason enough to cut short his fun.

The dancers seemed even more energized now and the party continued.  I locked eyes with an attractive blond who mouthed “hi” at me and I realized this was Matt Marr of SYTYCD and Glee fame.  I tried several times after that to put myself in his line of sight to see if he’d flirt with me again.  He did not, which makes me think he probably thought I was someone else the first time around.  Quel dommage.

Around 2am I felt it was time to call it a night.  I had a brief text conversation with my friend Dan Sadowski, front man for The Little Black Dress, about joining him at Danny Fernandes’ MMVA after party but the cry of the street meat vendor seemed way more appealing.  Sorry Danny.

In all, it was an extremely fun night and a fantastic experience but it certainly wasn’t the evening I had dreamt about.  The thing I’ve now come to realize is that with the number of parties happening in Toronto after the MMVA’s, the chances of finding a single party filled with wall-to-wall celebrities is non-existent.  But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m happy to allow the teenage boy inside of me believe that in a secret party venue last night, a list of Hollywood starlets got together with Rob Ford and smoked, um, a ham.

 

You can follow Simon on Twitter at @ScottishGuy for all the latest updates on the sweaty messes under his blazers.