metro mama

Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006, You've Been Good To Me

He has spent his life best who has enjoyed it most. –Samuel Butler

The last day of the year coincides with my birthday. It is on this day I am usually my most emotional and introspective. There were a few miserable years I was very grateful to see the end of. There have been years when I’ve been determined the next one will be better: I’ll be a better person, have better luck, work harder. I often have mixed feelings about a year, and about myself. I like some things, loathe others. This year, for the first time in my life, I can reflect on the previous 364 days without ambivalence: this has been the happiest year of my life.

I am happy. Content. I have a daughter who delights and astounds me every day. I’m so proud of her it hurts. I have a husband whose patience and devotion never ceases to amaze me. I have a supportive and generous family, good friends, and a home I love. It’s been a very successful academic year. The list goes on-what a year it’s been.

I’m also more content about myself than I’ve ever been. I’m not making any resolutions: I’m pretty disciplined, so I’m already doing the things that are really important to me. There are many areas in which I could improve, but fuck it. I’m good enough. For now.

I’m happy where I am right now, and also so excited and optimistic about the year to come. My plans: try to make a new baby, start my MA, finally see Paris, Rome, and London. I think, with amazement, life could even get better. It could also get worse.

I’m writing this, not to brag, but to record how I feel, at this moment. I know how the wheel of fortune turns, and when it does, I want to look back on this and remind myself that I have known joy, good fortune, peace—and I recognized it when I had it.

As good as it gets.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Celebrate Surviving Another Year of Parenthood

New Year’s Eve has changed for me over the years. Ten years ago, it meant a big house party, copious amounts of booze, and getting home at 4 a.m. after waiting two hours for a cab. Five years ago, it meant a two hundred dollar dinner, copious amounts of wine, and walking home in stilettos because we could not get a cab. I’m not interested in doing either of those things anymore, even if I could; however, I’m not ready to spend the evening watching the ball drop on my television. You see, my birthday is New Year’s Eve, so I’m extra celebratory that day. I feel compelled to do something special. [read on]


Don't forget to check in at Mommy Blogs Toronto - two new posts today!


Monday, December 25, 2006

The Holidays in Pictures!

Can we relax now?


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sorry Dear, Mommy's Hungover

* Update below

Last night was our first annual neighbourhood Christmas Crawl. Damn, what a good time. Each participating household took turns hosting and providing refreshment. The snacks were most savory and the potables potent. There was champagne, lychee martinis, mojitos, and many other fabulous treats...

...candy cane martinis

...oysters rockefeller

...pecan-encrusted shrimp with a mint sauce (so delish!)

...bacon-wrapped scallops


for the grand finale, the organizers of the event had a chocolate fountain, and served port. Yum.

There was much clinking of glasses, laughter, and even dancing!

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I knew it was time to go home to bed when my neighbour and I toppled to the floor during our dip.

Cakes kindly slept in until 8 this morning (I was the sucker that drew morning shift). The good news is, now my shift is done, I’m going to have a nap and catch up on the OC all afternoon (who’s the sucka now, BP).


Thanks for all your Christmas dinner suggestions. We’ve decided to keep it fairly traditional as my family is pretty meat-and-potato-ish. Here’s the menu:

turkey with stuffing*
garlic mash potatoes
vegetables supreme (MIL’s fabulous recipe)*
turnip puff

*recipes below

I asked my mom to bring dessert.

BP and I are on our own tonight. We’re going to grill a couple of steaks and stare at the tree. Maybe I’ll give him an early Christmas present, as long as he doesn’t overcook the steaks.

Happy Holidays, my friends!


Vegetable Supreme

2 Cups fresh broccoli florets and stems
2 Cups fresh cauliflower florets
2 Cups small fresh carrots
2 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 med. onion finely chopped
1 can mushroom soup
1 Cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup butter melted
1 box seasoned crutons crushed (bread crumbs work just fine)

Cook vegetables separately in boiling water and drain well. Mix together eggs, mushroom soup, mayonnaise, onion and half of the grated cheese. Pour over vegetables and mix well. Distribute evenly in a lightly buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, pour melted butter over this and distribute crushed crutons on the top. Bake for 40 min. at 350. This is better if made a day ahead or early in the day you are using it. Enjoy and lots of love, Grandma


1 lb. sweet Italian turkey or pork sausage, casing removed
2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, diced
2 Granny Smith or delicious apples, cored and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tsp. poultry seasoning
12 cups cubed country-style stuffing mix or 12 cups multigrain bread (24-oz. loaf), cubed and dried in an uncovered bowl overnight
2 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Brown the sausage until cooked through. Remove from heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl, and crumble sausage.

2. Melt the butter in the skillet and simmer the onion for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the celery, apples, garlic, and poultry seasoning, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the apple-vegetable mixture to the bowl of sausage, along with the stuffing mix or bread; mix well. Moisten with the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper. Cool completely before stuffing the turkey. Makes 20 cups.

4. Tester's tip: Stuffing can be cooked separately in a large glass casserole dish, but more stock may be needed to replace the moisture that usually comes from the turkey cavity.


The dinner turned out pretty fucking awesome if I do say so myself.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Because Tissue and Bows Are Over-Rated

Big Papa has two sisters. They are both so cool and laidback and I love our easy relationship. None of us (including their husbands) are ones to stand on ceremony. We forgot to call each other on every single birthday this year. I don’t think I’ve ever received a birthday card (or sent one). This Christmas is no exception. BP and I purchased gifts, but still have not got them in the mail. One sister gave us our gift months ago – a selection of wines in an unwrapped cardboard box (we sure have been enjoying them). Last night we received this package from my other sister-in-law, with no card or wrapping, the sender identifiable only by the return address:

The port was in the original liquor store bag. I love it.

Though we don’t show our affection with carefully wrapped presents and thoughtful little notes, we love each other very much. I wish we lived a little closer together because we’re sure going to miss them this Christmas.

Happy Holidays, M and A. Love you. See you soon.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Martha Would Cringe

*Updated below.

I used to be rather particular about my Christmas tree. It had to be white lights, white beads, and matching ornaments. It had to be tasteful.

Those days are past. Cakes and I did a tree ornament workshop last week:

It's the best looking tree I've ever seen.

* Update

I have no idea why we made Star of Davids to hang on the Christmas tree.


Lisa tagged me for a fave Christmas song meme. The meme calls for five songs, but I actually have ten. Crazy, I know. Here they are:

Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie/Bing Crosby version)
Linus and Lucy
Oh Holy Night
Do They Know It’s Christmas
Santa Baby
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
Feliz Navidad
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
12 Days of Christmas (Mackenzie Brothers version)

Now, I tag and crazymumma and Jana.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Who Said Giving is Better Than Receiving?

* Updated below.

I have been reminded what sweet friends I have the last couple of days.

Today I put Cakes down her for her nap after which I checked my email and found this delightful Christmas banner from Christine. Don’t you love it!

Saturday, no sooner had I blogged about forsaking baking than my neighbour dropped by bearing homemade chocolate cookies with mint icing, drizzled with dark chocolate, and topped with crushed candy canes. Fucking-A!

Yesterday Penelope came by for coffee, and what did she bring? Homemade shortbread cookies with chocolate chips. Score!

I must have been good this year, ‘cause Santa’s come early.




Her Bad AuctionGiving is really better than receiving. I'm pleased to report Her Bad Auction raised over $3,000 for MD Canada. Thanks to all of you for your generosity.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Metro Recommends: Casino Royale

Are you guys annoyed with me yet for having so much time to read and watch movies at this busy time of year? BP has some holidays and I have five weeks off school. I do no Christmas baking, very little shopping and even less decorating; hence, free time.

BP and Cakes were having some quality time yesterday afternoon so I stole away for a solo matinee. Casino Royale was just the ticket for a rainy winter afternoon.

I’m not usually a fan of Bond movies but this one was a very pleasant surprise. The film goes back to the beginning of Bond’s career, to a time when he didn’t care if his martini was shaken or stirred. He’s just become 007. There are no gadgets and gizmos. There’s not even a Q. It’s back to basics, and that’s a good thing.

Daniel Craig’s Bond is brilliant. He’s suave and sexy but tougher (and rougher) than Pierce Brosnan. He’s also vulnerable. Did I mention he has a killer bod? And beautiful blue eyes?

Speaking of eye candy, the gorgeous settings made me want to hop on the next plane to Italy. This is one to catch on the big screen.

Fuck the baking - that's what the PC luxury biscuit assortment is for. Go see Casino Royale instead.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Metro Recommends: The Emperor's Children

The Emperor’s Children is Claire Messud’s first fiction. The satirical novel revolves around three friends in their early thirties making their way in New York: Marina, daughter of a celebrated journalist, is trying to finish her first book, already several years overdue; Danielle, documentary producer, is having an affair with Marina’s father; Julius, a broke freelance critic being “kept” by his successful boyfriend, flirts with his wild side. Their lives are intersected by the arrival of Marina’s cousin Bootie, an ambitious, naïve, aspiring intellectual.

Though the characters are not particularly likeable they are engaging and well drawn. The book is a funny glimpse into the world of the New York intelligentsia. The final chapters of the story take an unexpected twist that will have you turning pages.

Claire Messud lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with her husband and two children.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Staying Put

When BP and I had Cakes, we told both our families we wanted her to spend her Christmases in her own home. Anyone who wants to join us is welcome; otherwise, we’ll catch up with you before or after the holidays. We always spend Thanksgiving with BP’s family and Easter with mine—Christmas is for our new little family.

This has worked out very well. Our parents are fine with it. We are so happy not to have to drive anywhere over the holidays. This year my parents are coming to our place; BP’s are going to join his sister in Boston. Unfortunately, this year BP is working Christmas Day (there are three other guys in his hall with young children so there’s no way to get out of it). So we will do the main event Christmas Eve (Cakes is too young to know the difference). My parents will stick around Christmas Day and we’ll order Chinese food.

Speaking of food, this year I want to gourmet up the turkey feast. Is a free-range organic turkey worth the expense? Do you need to order it ahead of time from St. Lawrence Market or do they have lots? Anyone have suggestions for fancy sides? I want to go beyond mashed potatoes this year. Help!

I’m sorry I have not been commenting much. Blogger beta has been an asshole lately.


Her Bad Auction Have you checked out the auction yet?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One Year Later

A year ago this coming Saturday, after a very long wait, we moved into our new home. I am in a much better place now (literally and figuratively) than I was then. A year ago, still reeling from new parenthood, we were sitting in our tiny one-bedroom apartment, surrounded by boxes, filled with both excitement and angst. Excitement with the possibility we would move into our house in time for Cakes’ first Christmas. Angst, because of our daily visits to said house. It was a disaster: it was filthy; there was still no counter in the kitchen; the basement was completely unfinished. Everyone said this happened when you bought new but you don’t realize just how frustrating it is until you do it.

We bought the house in April 2003, before we were even married. At the time, we worried we were rushing things. We had a lot of reservations about the neighbourhood, and the house from an investment perspective (turned out to be a great investment). Because of some zoning issues, a municipal election, blah, blah, blah, our closing kept getting postponed. April 2004. September 2004. The next thing you know, I’m pregnant. Will the house be ready before I give birth? Nope. Cakes spent her first seven months sleeping in her pack-and-play in the dining area. We had to cook our dinner three feet from her head. The television was four feet from her toes. (This is why she can sleep through house parties today).

So, a year ago today, after another visit to our unfinished house, I was on the phone with our builder who was trying to postpone the closing yet again. He was met with this:

“You aren’t serious about moving the closing date.”

“Well, um…”


“Sorry, but…”

“I want my baby to spend her first Christmas in her home.” *sniff* *gulp*

“The basement won’t be finished and we’re having trouble getting the guy doing the granite counter…”

“Put a fucking piece of plywood on the counter to carve the fucking turkey on. We don’t need the basement right away.”


“We’re moving on December 16. I refuse to move the date again. I don’t care what isn’t finished. I mean it!” *choked sob*

So, we did. They did get the counter installed and cleaned the place up. We spent the next couple of months living with trades working on the basement, but it was OK (we actually do have a great relationship with our builder. He did go above and beyond in a number of ways; a lot of the delays weren’t his fault).

While we were happy to be here in time for Christmas, it was not the most relaxing holiday. We were hosting, so BP was out on the 23rd hunting for trees and tree stands and everyone was sold out of all that stuff. We didn’t have much furniture, and nothing on the walls. But we had a good time. My parents came and we drank wine and listened to carols on Christmas Eve. The guys next door (the only other ones to browbeat a pre-Christmas closing) knocked on the door and invited us over for drinks (it turned out to be the first of many occasions). We were home.

But this year will be even better: as I sit here, on December 12, gazing at the tree, with shopping done and stockings hung, I’m in the mood for Christmas.

December 25, 2005


Monday, December 11, 2006

Her Bad Auction

In honour of Her Bad Mother and her nephew Tanner, the blogging community is hosting an online auction to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada (read more about Tanner’s story here).

Check out all of the fabulous items up for grabs here:
Her Bad Auction

You can also help by encouraging your children write a letter to Tanner. Find the details on the auction site.

Bidding begins Wednesday, December 13 continuing through Sunday, December 17. It is a raffle-style event: buy tickets for the items you're interested in. The more tickets you buy, the better chance of winning! Winners will be announced Monday, December 18.

Here is a sample item, a gorgeous handcrafted flannelette quilt, generously donated by Quita Alfred of Inqb8 quilt:

InQb8 quilt’s one of a kind, hand crafted quilts and blankets are perfect for the snuggling season. Vibrant colours, cosy textures and pre-shrunk durability make them a must have for hibernation, or for rugging up and facing the elements. Proprietor Quita Alfred makes each quilt herself, inserting a message of love and encouragement between the layers of new and vintage fabrics. The special message and serial number of each quilt is indicated on the hang tag. “Loved, Safe, Strong”, “Irreplaceable Treasure” and “Beloved” are examples of some of the heartwarming sentiments in which you can wrap your little one (or yourself!)

There are many more wonderful items, so go. It’s for a great cause.

Her Bad Auction

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday Night


Friday, December 08, 2006

A Few Things

BP is home after ten (long) days away. We were worried about Cakes, but she barely batted an eye when he came home. She was happy to see him, but behaved no differently than when he’s away for a day. This gives us hope – we’re planning a trip to Paris and London in April and are – gasp - going to leave Cakes at home. We thought about taking her with us but her Grandparents offered to look after her and it’s too good an offer to refuse. They know her routine perfectly, she’s used to them, they’re willing to stay here, and take her to her usual drop-in. I think a short absence from us will be less hard on her than the time change and change in her routine. Plus, we really don’t think we could do the things we want to do, having Cakes with us.

Anyone gone on a trip sans babe? How long did you go? How did baby react? Would you do it again?

I love the food at this time of year. Clementines. The President’s Choice luxury biscuit assortment (the problem with these is BP and I like exactly the same biscuits-we always run out of the best ones first. I’ve had to institute a three-cookie-at-a-time rule to combat this problem).

Do you know you can buy frozen Ace bread now? It’s fucking fantastic. It comes in three mini loaves-you bake it from frozen and it is divine. I’m really happy about this.

Cakes’ hair has been doing this for the last few days:

Don’t forget to visit Mommy Blogs Toronto for holiday cheer!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Getting to Know Meme

I’ve been tagged by sweet Mother Bumper for a mother-daughter meme. It’s a good thing too, I am at a loss what to write about today.

Five Things You May or May Not Know About Me

1. I blog about highbrow things like foreign films and the Giller Prize winner but I’m a big fan of the lowbrow too, like Jackass, the Evil Dead movies, and the Anne Rice dirty books.

2. Similar to number 1, I love good food, but I also love KFC, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Kraft Dinner. If it weren’t for President’s Choice products, I would rarely put a meal on the table.

3. I am very anal about some aspects of housekeeping, such as vacuuming; however, there are some things I am oblivious to. For example, I can ignore the state of the car, the bathtub, and the fridge until they become so heinous BP cleans them.

4. I went on a huge spiritual kick in my twenties. I read all of James Redfield’s books and told everyone who would listen about them. I read all the stuff Oprah recommended, like Maya Angelou (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

5. My background is in IT, yet I loathe doing any kind of maintenance on our computer. Our virus software is outdated, I haven’t backed up in months, and our files are disorganized. I will do (almost) anything for my friends, but don’t come to me if your computer is acting up (I will make an excuse).

Five Things You May or May Not Know About Cakes

1. She laughs at her own farts (guess who taught her).

2. She does not stop moving the entire time she is awake. The good thing is, at night she is exhausted. When I put her down to bed, she is thankful—she smiles and waves bye-bye.

3. She is named after my favourite author. Her middle name is one of my favourite characters in literature. These names are also my husband’s twin sisters’ middle names.

4. She likes to eat frozen peas.

5. She can make kids twice her size and age cry. Without batting an eye.

Next, let’s get to know Penelope and Bumblebee better!

You want a piece of me?


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Toiling in the Kitchen

We went for a play date across the street last week and my neighbour put out a plate of healthy muffins for the kids. Cakes went ape over them and ate the whole plate. Now, I'm not one to bake stuff but it was clearly time I start, so I got the recipe and made a batch. It was worth it to see this:

Here's the recipe. These are healthy and tasty-I'll warn you though, they turn the poop orange.

Little Punkins

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs
1 egg white
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried unsweetened pineapple or apricots
1 3/4 cups apple juice concentrate
1 cup canned unsweetened solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Prehead oven to 350F. Lightly oil two 12-cup muffin tins, or line with cupcake liners.

2. Beat the oil, eggs, and egg white together in a large mixing bowl. Chop the raisins and other dried fruit with the apple juice concentrate in a blender or food processor; add the pumpkin and blend. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the egg and oil mixture.

3. Combine the flours, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture; stir until just blended.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in tins for 10 min then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Happy baking!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Metro Recommends: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

Dr. Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is the winner of the 2006 Giller Prize. The connected short stories follow the intersecting lives of four doctors, from pre-med to their careers as physicians. The stories are narrated from various perspectives, including the doctors as well as the supporting characters: a psychiatric patient becoming increasingly paranoid; a women undergoing an emergency c-section; a nurse during the SARS crisis.

Unaffected and honest, the collection is an arresting glimpse into the world of medicine. The stories are unflinching—Lam doesn’t shrink away from the dark side of the medical profession. His characters are fallible, human, and real.

32-year old Lam is a Toronto emergency room physician. He was a ship doctor on an Arctic cruise where he met Margaret Atwood who became his mentor. Atwood introduced the book at the Giller ceremony and told the audience, "doctors and fiction-writers both deal in extreme events, both have their fingers on the pulse of life and death, and neither is squeamish about gore on the floor." Squeamish, Lam is not.

The $40,000 Giller prize is Canada’s most prestigious literary award. Last year's winner was Winnipeg novelist David Bergen for The Time in Between, the story of a haunted man who returns to Vietnam where he fought in the war 28 years earlier (read my review here. Alice Munro, who sat on this year’s jury, won the award in 2004 for Runaway.

Vincent Lam is married and the father of a two-year old son. He lives in Toronto and is working on his first novel, due out in 2007.

He’s inspired me—if a doctor and father of a toddler can find the time to write a book, maybe I can too.

Don’t you love a success story like this!


Thanks to everyone who voted for me in CBAs. Your votes made me feel good. Congrats to the winner, Kristin of Debaucherous and Dishevelled.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Metro Recommends: Volver

It’s been a nice weekend so far. Last night I went to a movie (my first in AGES) and dinner with the two moms across the street. We had a lovely time-we’re going to make it a regular thing.

The movie was excellent. Volver (to return) is Pedro Almodovar’s latest tribute to women. A story about family, death, rebirth, and going home again, with a twisty plot, it kept me riveted. Penelope Cruz is magnificent and the other female supporting characters are wonderful too. I highly recommend.

Today my mom and I did a little shopping. Mom bought me a Skip Hop diaper bag for my Christmas/birthday present. I never carry any other type of bag anymore, so I thought I deserved a cool diaper bag. We went to Treasure Island Toys on the Danforth-it's a great store. The staff are super. I picked up some toys for Cakes (I had the hardest time staying in budget, but I did it).

Tonight I'm going to make a nice meal for my folks. Tomorrow Cakes and I are going to meet her new little cousin, Cole (I've been too sick and contagious until now). I hope Cakes doesn't hit him-she's been a little rough lately.

How are y'all spending the weekend?


Friday, December 01, 2006

Planning Ahead

After much fear and laziness, I have finally agreed a second child may be a good idea. Operation Making #2 will begin next September (after some travelling and a free summer to relax, write, and entertain a lot). In the meantime, BP, you better not bring that thing within three feet of me unsheathed.


Canadian Blog AwardsToday is the last day to vote! I think I’m in last place, so please go vote for me in the Family Blog category (this is the last time I will annoy you about this, I promise!)


Check out Kittenpie's children’s book recommendations over at Mommy Blogs Toronto. Starting Monday, for the month of December we will be bringing you holiday cheer. Visit often!


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