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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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LIVE TWEET: How to survive #StormTO on a VIA Train heading to Toronto

Our intrepid writer (and something of a lush if you go based on his tweets alone) Simon Johnson spent his evening on the VIA Train heading from Winsdor to Toronto. After a lovely weekend visiting with his boyfriend’s family he had to get home to relieve the dog-sitter and give his puppy Baxter some love.

Unfortunately for Simon, this Monday was a Monday like no other, when #StormTO hit and gave Toronto more rain than she has ever seen. The subway flooded, the highways flooded, Union Station flooded, and of course, the way home was flooded, thankfully not nearly as bad as the situation taking place on a GO Train not too far away.

Simon tweeted his way through this mess and, with a little help from some new friends on the train, we think he just might make it home okay, even if it is a little late. Read on below to see how Simon manages to turn a miserable stalled evening into a train party.

Stay up to date with Simon’s voyage here:

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers and follow Simon at @ScottishGuy for the latest updates on flood train shenanigans.

18 Vines from the #StormTO Toronto flood

Toronto was under water this evening as a fast moving storm came from the north and submerged the city. Social media was abuzz with Torontonians in different places around the city chronicling the damage around them and their often stranded situations. Here are 18 Vine videos that capture the full scope of the first half of today’s big storm.

 

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

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.

 

Former PC MPP (and current PC candidate) says ‘females’ only vote Liberal because they are uninformed

In the wake of a recent UK study that determined women are less aware of current affairs than men former Progressive Conservative MPP (1995-2003) and current PC candidate for the riding of Kitchener Centre Wayne Wettlaufer may have been over confident when he told Queen’s Park Briefing reporter Ashley Csanady over Twitter that ‘females’ vote Liberal because they are uninformed.

The tweet from the former seat holder, which was quickly deleted, stirred across social media including retweets of the screen grab on Twitter, postings on Reddit, and postings throughout Facebook.

Reporter Csanady was accused on Twitter of inciting the comment with “anti-feminist” talking points, but she staunchly defended her feminist cred — cred which is entirely endorsed by Women’s Post and this writer.

One of the rising young stars of QP Briefing, Kitchener native Csanady cut her teeth on feminist and arts writing in independent publications.

Sounding off on the tweet from Wayne Wettlaufer, we can’t help but think that this politician, left for a decade out of the house to dry, might have just lost himself the ‘female’ vote in 140 characters or less.

It is also worth noting that the English language does in fact have a collective noun for human females: women.

Check out the screencap of the offending tweet below and let us know what you think. Did Wettlaufer go to far by painting women as ignorant?

 

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers and get the latest news on offensive tweets from @WomensPost

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.