Monday, December 28, 2009

My Favorite Present....By Far!

I hope everyone's Christmas was a fabulous as mine and that they were surrounded by family, food and friends (unless that was not what they wanted, in which case, they were surrounded by movies and Chinese food).

Do you have a favorite gift? Here is my favorite gift, by far:

Needless to say, the waffles flowed like manna from the heavens.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Xmas!


Merry Xmas, Intraweb!

Enjoy your family and try not to let them drive you insane, K?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dogs + Strollers = Madness

Dear Lady at the Bulk Barn With a Dog in her Stroller Who is Standing Ahead of Me and Talking WAAAAY Too Loudly on Her Cellphone While the Rest of Us Are Trying to Go Crazy from Bruce Springsteen Screaming at Us That "SAAAAA- nta Claus is Coming to Town!" -

Stop it.

Let your dog run. That's what he wants to do.

How do I know? Well, he keeps banging up against the mesh.

Just sayin'.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Killing

Monty Mouse : mousetrap
Originally uploaded by verpabunny
This week has been insane with pre-Christmas preparations. Insane, I tell you! Between the cards and the shopping and the wrapping and the concerts, it's been a real bind trying to fit in my shortcake cookie bingeing.

When I get to feeling crazy rather than committing myself to a saner course of behavior, I do a strange thing: I focus on a task that will lead to even more crazy. It's just what seems to work for me.

Let me back up a bit. Several weeks ago, I woke up to feed the cat and found several small mouse-droppings deposited around the sealed can we keep the cat's grub in. When I first spied them, my philosophical mind calmly appraised the situation and concluded, Hey! Such are the perils of living in a 130 year old house.

Fine. The days rolled by. The mouse dropping persisted. I cleaned them up dutifully and tried to remind myself to set the trap, a reminder which quickly and swiftly drowned in the sea of Christmas crap that has become my brain. And then it nibbled at the $40 worth of fixing I'd purchased at the bulk store to make homemade granola (as gifts, of course. Gifts!) Sullying the granola, Intraweb, was just a bridge to far. That's when I set the trap.

The first night it licked the peanut butter off of the trap without being caught. Okay. That can happen, I guess. The next night, I doubled the amount and woke up to an empty trap. Again. Oh, it's ON! I thought. So I covered the trap, Intraweb. Saturated it with Skippy. That did the trick.


When my husband came down, I proudly announced that I'd killed the mouse that had been tormenting my fragile psychic balance . Oh, yeah, and could he also kindly get rid of said mouse. Sure, he said. It was the least he could do. That's when he informed me that I had killed not one but two mice.

"Yeah," he said, as he lifted the impaled mouse towards the trash. "One in the trap ad one just dead BESIDE the trap." Huh?!

He paused here for affect and pointed at the un-smushed one.

"I think this one just died of grief."

Let the Christmas drinking begin.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holy Mess

Dear Woman Who Just Left This Bathroom Stall,

What the holy hell just happened in here?! My brain is racing through the possibilities. Did you splay starfish-style against the walls of the stall and misfire? Did you decide to practice a little Pilates while you had some downtime?

Only moments before, we made eye contact as you passed. I made note of your cute shoes and age- appropriate haircut. Now here I stand ankle deep in your urine, wiping down the toilet seat and wishing for a HAZMAT suit.

How is all of this even physically possible?

Let me be clear: if you continue to do this - leave filthy messes for complete strangers despite being in your mid- to late- thirties - someone is going to point it out to you. Perhaps even write you up in a blog on the intraweb in the hopes that you will come to your senses and snap out of the fact that you do NOT have a penis and CANNOT pee standing up. Get me?

In the meantime, I'll be here with a roll of toilet paper wrapped around my hand mopping up a grown person's mess.


Laura Francis

Thursday, December 10, 2009


If someone told me I had to choose one thing to wear for the rest of my life I would probably choose this outfit.

The skirt. The hat. The jacket. It all works.

It is also almost 100 years old, so I know it would last.

Plus, I am forever wondering whether the outfits I'm wearing are appropriate for registering woman for the vote. With this one? No worries.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Books of 2009

prairie sky.
Originally uploaded by thesoundofwhite
This weekend's book section of The Globe and Mail marked the beginning of a sea of "Best of" lists that will appear in print and on screens in the coming weeks.

"Best of" lists are usually compiled just before Christmas and despite their ubiquitous appearance this time of year, they are universally reviled by the more cynical among us because they seem mostly manufactured to move "merch" off of the shelves of your local big box bookstore.

I actually like these lists. They are a reminder of all of the books I've read that year and of all the book I can still read if I hunker down and willfully ignore all of my family and friends needs. It's just what you want to do right around Xmas, non?

Here is my pick for the two best reads - fiction and non - for 2009:

Small Beneath the Sky by Lorna Crozier

This was, by far, the best non-fiction book I read this year. It is a memoir of growing up on the Canadian prairies in the late 50's and early 60's. Crozier is a Governor-General Award winning poet but her prose is equally as powerful. There is intimacy and humor in the retelling of her life with her family. The details are loving woven together, the language is rich but most of all, the book is deeply moving.

The Help by Katherine Stockett

I picked up this book after reading a profile of the first-time author in the New York Times. She spoke about growing up white in the South and how it was not uncommon to be raised by a black woman who you loved but knew nothing about. Her book, told from the perspective of 3 black maids circa 1959, was a risky choice to have made for a first-time writer, but the choice was inspired and well-executed. I read the book in 2 days, wept my face off and then promptly started passing it around amongst friends and family. The mere fact that it hasn't spent more than a week on my book shelf is a testament to the writing and ultimate success of the book which has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 40 weeks. Hurrah! It is meant to be passed around and treasured.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dang that Baby Corn!

Originally uploaded by "kyle"

Dear Can of Baby Corn-

The hell? How do you keep ending up in my pantry? I NEVER purchase you. I've donated you to the food bank at least three times. And yet here you are. Again. Stony, steadfast utterly useless. Baby corn, you are beginning to drive me insane.

Even if I wanted to use you, I wouldn't know how. Grill you and take tiny little bites? Put you in a blender, add yogurt and turn you into a smootie? I am at a loss.

Baby corn, your persistence is staggering. The can of water chesnuts with the dents: understandable. I bought those last year in what I've dubbed The Great Rumaki Experiment of 2008. It has become an upriorious, once-a-year pantry joke. The twelve cans of black beans? Leftovers from The Over-ambitious Chili Run of 2007. But you, Baby Corn? You're like an unwelcome spectre in a new home and you must be exorcised.

Please leave. 'K Thanks.

Laura Francis

P.S. Take the can of mandarin oranges with you.

Friday, November 27, 2009


This week I booked a vacation for the family. It is the first time all four of us will be going someplace hot to sit on a beach and you would think that this would make me deliriously happy. Sadly, it has not. For now I am obsessed with the following:

Bad weather.
Child sickness.
Acts of God.

Make. It. Stop.

How do you keep your brain from spiraling out of control, followers?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years - Part 2

When pancakes go bad.
Originally uploaded by waihey
Below are a few more observations -of the existential variety-brought on by turning forty.

11. You always mess up the first pancake. (This can also be applied to child-rearing. In a metaphorical sense, of course...)

12. Never peak early. (This works on soooooo many levels.)

13. You will become your parents, if you're not careful. (That one's for you, Ed.)

14. When someone says, "This isn't going to hurt it bit", they are usually lying.

15. We aren't our kids. And they aren't us.

16. Dammit, if bacon and whipped cream don't make EVERYTHING taste better. (Except together. Definitely, not together.)

17. Accents do not necessarily = smarter. (Hello?! Colin Farrell.)

18. Employees are always the last to know.

19. Stores with staff made up entirely of straight male are often shockingly disorganized. (I'm just saying......)

20. High heels are the devils on the feet, angels on the calves.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fur, Baby!

Like many women, I am not immune to the draws of fashion but I would be loathe to call myself a slave to it. I am well-enough-versed in its tenets, for instance, to know when to say no to rhinestone-infested blouses, pleather-pants and dresses that look like migratory birds (Holla, Bjork!) Some, sadly, are not. No, judgement, Lady Gaga. No judgement.

To that end, I was fortunate enough last night to have attended a fashion show, in our town. Throughout the evening, there were several draws and, damn it, if I didn't manage to win one of them. Intraweb, I am now the proud owner of a fox fur scarf! (N.B. PETA card, not included).

I joked with the ladies before I left that upon returning home I was going to convince my husband that I had purchased it. Here's how that scene went.

Subject enters room where her husband is watching Frontline and stands in the Sears catalogue style. She is stroking her new scarf in an effort to be noticed.

Me: Hi, Honey! How was your night?
Husband: It was okay. You HAVE to watch this episode of Frontline. It's really well-done.
Me: I will. (Silence) Do you notice anything different about me? (Pause) Anything at all?
Husband: Is that a new...(He quickly scans her outfit and struggles to find anything out of the ordinary)....coat?
Me: No. (More Silence). Really. Nothing? You notice nothing?
Husband: Nothing, I guess, except for maybe that dead rat around your neck.
Me: That's better.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009


To my delight this week, I discovered that a few of my friends were Grammar Nazis. (Holla, Tracey! ) I say "delight" because I, too, have secretly been a stickler for correct grammatical usage. Heck, I even married one! And don't get him started on the incorrect usage of apostrophes. It ain't pretty!

Which got me thinking: are there any phrases in the popular lexicon that drive you insane. Here are a few of my favorites:

To be continued.....(ARGH!)

Hold on. I have a call on the other line. (Someone more important that me, I presume....)

Can you hold? (No. Don't ask!)

Can I ask you a question? (You just did.)

What's IS that?! (It's the tone with this one. The TONE!!!!!)

Relax........ (Again: tone.)

P.S. Just writing them drove me into a white hot rage. I may have to go put some food on top of this anger.......

P.P.S. My blog is featured this week at Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tea Brain

I love tea and cannot get enough of it.

If you love it so much why don't you marry it, you ask? I would but I'm already spoken for so there. I said.

I wasn't always so uxorious where the world's most popular beverage was concerned. Growing up, I thought tea nasty: the taste was bitter, the temperature too hot to truly refresh and the time it took to get a proper cup was not commensurate with the commercial breaks for Charlie's Angels. Ah, youth.

In fact, the sound of a kettle brewing is so intermingled with my development that whenever I hear the piercing screech of one in full boil I have to overcome the urge not to scream, "Dad! Kettle!" and then sigh like a petulant teenager.

Ironically, I now drink as many cups as my father did and, like him, I also make it cup by cup. On demand, as they say in the parlance. That is, until this weekend when I discovered something astounding: my teapot. Did you know that you only have to make one teapot and then you can have all day?

Who knew? It is little revelations like these that, hopefully, will keep you reading.....

P.S. Big shout out to the new followers! Paul, Jill, Blackbird, Denise, Tracey. You keep reading and I'll keep cranking out the funny. And if you haven't joined, what the hell are you waiting for?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

B's Movies! Not His Mother Movies...Dammit!

the prestige
Originally uploaded by bedobedin
Last week, I launched a new feature called, B's Movies, with the sole purpose of sharing my son's joie of film to vous (Sorry, French language. Every once in a while I get the desire to massacre you).

Anyway, a few weeks back, he'd asked me, out o the blue, to name a few of my favorite actors and when I asked him the same, he mentioned Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.

"Hey! Did you know that they were in the same movie together once?" No, he didn't, was his reply and could he please see the celluloid result? Why, yes! I exclaimed because sitting through 2 hours of Jackman and Bale = no eye tax.

Big mistake.

Three quarters of the way through the film, he asked if we could please stop the film. Why, asked? Are you not enjoying it? I, of course, was engrossed. His reply: I don't like how Christian Bale is acting towards his wife. Interesting. And while we are it, Wolverine is also being a bit of an a-hole, too (my words here, not his.) The movie was turned off and I then made an effort to explain the intricate plot twist of this movie to my 9 year-old.

And then it occured to me: It personally took me two seperate viewings to figure out the plot twists in this movie! There was the confusing twin motif to absorb, magic tricks to figure out, David Bowie with brown hair. Plus, the second time I watched it a few months later, I had my sister asking me WTF was going on every 5 minutes. Bad choice, I thought, as I sent him off to bed to have nightmares.

But, not to worry, as this story has a happy ending. The next evening, Benoit and his father rented the film, Aliens. His review:


B: "Sing-gorry Weaver is my new favorite actress."
Me: "Better than Jessica Alba?"
B: "Oh yeah. Waaaaaay better."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Target carts.
Originally uploaded by itsbriannabbyx3
Today I went into Toronto to bring my mother some food. She has been sequestered at home with the swine flu and the only thing that is going to dig her out of her predicament is rest, nourishing foods and the newest John Irving novel. Godspeed to recovery, Nana. Godspeed.

I decided to hit Whole Foods for her supplies because the parking is free, their line-ups aren't too long and there was $100 burning a hole in my wallet (How do people shop there daily without taking out a line of credit ? How?! It should be called Whole Wallet) After a quick shop, I headed towards my car to deliver the groceries.

That's when the problem began. I couldn't get the machine to validate my ticket. Every time I put the ticket into the machine, it would reject it. I must have tried 20 times and every time I attempted to validate the ticket it would be rejected outright. I was being shunned from the village.

Don't panic, Francis, I kept telling myself. Stay calm. There's a solution. I decided to take it up with headquarters, so I got into my car and headed towards the exit where I knew an actual person resided in a booth. They will solve my problem, I thought, as I threaded through the serpentine bowels of the parking garage. They deal with this all the time.

When I arrived at the booth upstairs, I parked my car to the side (not obstructing traffic) and headed into the glassed-in kiosk. There was a woman in there seated at a desk who was - I swear on a stack! - flossing her teeth. In public. At her place of work. Flossing.

I was stunned, intraweb. Stunned.

"Excuse me," I said slightly bewildered, "I hate to interrupt but I'm having a problem with the parking machine and I was wondering...."

"Hold on!" she said, spit flying everywhere. "I'm in the middle of something."

"I see that, " I replied. "So am I! I'm trying to get food to my mother who has a serious illness." Not prevent tooth decay, which is a serious issue too, no doubt, but not entirely in the same category as an international pandemic. "Do you think that you can help me get this ticket validated so that I can be on my way?" It was so hard not to add, "Bee-atch" there at the end, you have no idea.

She looked at me like I was insane, grabbed my ticket and sighed.

"You don't have to pay," she said. "You got validated inside." She pointed at my ticket with her floss hand (Argh!) "Put it through the machine."

Then she pointed to a TV screen on the desk.

"Yeah, I was watching you try to put it in machine. You were pretty frustrated, huh?"

What to say? What to say? Silence.

"You enjoy your day, " I replied.

She nodded at me. "You, too," and then resumed flossing her teeth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years

My 40th year on the planet has brought on a lot of contemplation (and a lot of wine took me ten tries to correctly spell "contemplation"). Some deep thoughts have emerged, some not so. I would like to share a few with you in the coming weeks:

1/ It's okay to be wrong.

2/ Despite what you will be promised, you can never wear that bridesmaid dress. Never.

3/ If you need your glasses to read then wear them.

4/ The Terrible Twos is amongst one of the most massive misnomers in the popular Western lexicon.

5/ You always feel better after a cry.

6/ It's okay to feel sad after you are referred to as "Ma'am" by a teenager at the supermarket.

7/ People who make the conscious choice NOT to have children are amongst the most evolved on our planet.

8/ Puking is your body doing what it does best: getting rid of shit you shouldn't have in it. (It aint' pretty but it's kinda beautiful, too, when you really think about it).

9/ The human body should and will continue to astound you, if you pay attention.

10/ Flying dreams are our sub-conscious telling us we are doing everything right.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's coming.....

The Snowy Day
Originally uploaded by goldrusher
Every year I forget that it's coming.

I notice that the days are getting shorter, the air in the house drier, the mornings chillier and chillier. I start wanting to make soup and I start obsessing about where we are going to go for March Break.

And yet still I forget.

And then I wake up one morning and there is it: snow.

On the ground, on the car, on the pumpkins I haven't put in the garbage from Halloween, on the leaves I forgot to rake, on the bags of leaves I did, on the bird feeder, on the cat coming in from prowling all night for mice that aren't around anymore, on the garden I haven't turned over, on the car, on the scooter I harangued the kids to put away for the past week, on the neighbor's boat, on the Globe and Mail at the end of the driveway.

And yet not on my mind. Ever. And why not? It comes back every damn year?


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Have a Happy Halloween, intraweb!

Oh, and FU Universe for giving my son the flu.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Itchy and Scratchy

Itchy and Scratchy
Originally uploaded by greyhorse_azeri
An Open Letter to the Head Lice That Keeps Returning to my Children's Place of Higher Learning-

Hey! What's up? Are you still here? I hate to be the one to tell you this but: nobody likes you here.

Don't you know when you're not wanted?

I received the written notice from the school telling me that you are still hanging around. I've read all the things that I need to do to get rid of you. I know about the special combs, the killing shampoos and the like and, you know what? I don't care.

Let me be the first to say that you have overstayed your welcome. For reals. Nobody wants you here, dude. Nobody. Do us all a favour and make like Sammy Hagar.


P.S. And if I get another note that you are in my kid's school, I will cut you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

B's Movies

My son has always loved film. His first film in the theatre was Finding Nemo and though he wa not fond of the Disney paradigm of "Kill the Parent" ("I don't like this TV show, Cece"), he soldiered on and has grown into a discerning cinephile.

This weekend, he was quizzing me on the roles of Sir Ian McKellan (I shit you not!) when it occurred to me: why don't I give the boy a chance to spread his wings and lead the reading public (all 4 of you) towards movies that you may (or may not) enjoy. Benoit style.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you : B's Movies!!!!!!!

The first film: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Cheesy. Ha! Get it? Cheesy.......I didn't really like it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The September Issue

Anna Wintour
Originally uploaded by Sir Bozok
When Cheryl and I were in Paris, we went to see the doc, The September Issue. It is a fantastic film - though, at times, a little too reverential - that documents the coming together of the largest issue in Vogue magazine history. Riveting stuff.

This film is part doc, part profile of Anna Wintour, the mercurial editrix of the style bible, who comes off as half-way human by the filmmaker here (There is a scene in which she talks about how she is seen by members of her highly-accomplished family that will, honestly, break your heart).

The real star of the thing, though, is Grace Coddington, Vogue's artistic director and the real force behind their vision. If Wintour is the whip, Coddington is the shepard, guiding the magazine towards it's rightful place at the fore-front of modern fashion.

Get out there and view this thing. It's well worth the $8.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rickie Lee Jones

rickie lee jones
Originally uploaded by Nmarie
It's raining so we're listening to Rickie Lee Jones. She is a rainy day musician.

When I was in my twenties, I went through an unbelievable rough patch: too many extra-curricular liquids and herbs, silly man choices and the like. I refer to it now as my Rickie Lee Jones period. Partly because I kept listening to this same song of hers - Night Train - over and over again, and partly because I was trying to figure how she make her voice sound like three different people in the same song. It was my first brush with the concept of range. And this lady had it in spades.

My sister, Cheryl, and I went to see her in concert a few years later and it was truly incredible. We couldn't believe how reverential the crowd was in her presence - so hushed, so quiet. She played my song and told us that she had written it in order to get over a break-up with her man . A break -up song, I thought. I was obsessed with a break-up song! How cliche I'd been.

And then she told us the man in question was Tom Waits (Tom Waits, people!!) Didn't feel so bad then, for some reason.......

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rules Can be Good

I was surfing the intraweb this afternoon in lieu of actual productive work when I stumbled across a site that kinda rocked my world (Thanx, Cup of Jo!). It is called 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son (
and it is beyond awesome.

Written by Walker Lamond (maybe he's related to Greg.....), the site's goal is simple: listing every day maxims about how to be a great man. Here are some examples:

#196 Whistle
#238 Read before bed every night
#389 After writing an angry e-mail, read it carefully. Then delete it.
#395 Buy good tires, good sheets and good shoes.
#379 It's not a gang without the cool girl.

Brilliant, non?

Walker has also written a book by the same name that is coming out on October 27th. Well done brother!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Xenia's World

As many of you may already know, my husband is a fairly accomplished photographer and the other day, he gave my daughter our small digital camera with one instruction: take pictures of your world.

These are small sampling of the results:

Not bad, huh?

This is how Xenia has always approached the world to a large extent: up close and personal. It's a good way to be, I think.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Weekly Soup

Soup Kitchen
Originally uploaded by glenda.suebee
It is Thanksgiving Monday, the day when most Canadians are putting away their summer lawn furniture, checking the Canadian Tire circulars for sales on shovels and rakes and making soup out of the leftovers. I did all of the above.

When a chill appears in the air, I make a natural switch from salads to soups and so to will Black by Popular Demand. The Weeky Salad feature will disappear for a few months and be replaced with The Weekly Soup.

But don't be sad, fair reader. Soup is not a harbinger of doom! In so many ways it is better than salad. Can you freeze salad? No. Can you put salad in a thermos? No. Can you bring salad to a pot luck? Well, yeah, I guess you can but it looks way better in a Le Creuset, non?

Here's the 1st Weekly Soup of the Obama era. Enjoy!

Winter Squash and Apple Soup

Grab whatever is left of your leftover roasted squash and throw it in a pot with 4 cups of chicken broth (veggie broth works great, too). In another pan sautee 1 diced onion, 2 diced apples and 1 diced clove of garlic. When soft throw it in with the squash. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder, a dash of cayenne and some salt and pepper. Throw it in a blender (or wand it) and call it a day. Add a dollop of sour cream for flair.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Irving Penn - Cuzco Children, Peru, 1948

When I was 11 years old, I used to sign out this massive book out of the school library called Life Magazine's Greatest Pictures. It was dog-earred beyond recognition, weighed about 200 pounds and was just big enough to fit comfortably into the bottom of my vinyl Adidas bag. I took it out on a weekly basis and when I did , it was all I could do to get home, sprawl on my bed and peruse the photos inside.

One of my favorite pictures was a portrait taken by Irving Penn of two children in Peru. I stared at that picture until it was a brain tattoo, etched it into my consciousness to the point where when I saw it again, many years later, I had to remind myself that I hadn't conjured it. It's simplicity was beauty itself.

The man that took this picture, who took some of the most beautiful pictures of the 20th century died today at 92. This image, and many more like, will remain. A testament to ordinary beauty sanctified.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nie Nie Dialogues

Some red baloons
Originally uploaded by Gijlmar
Techno-pundits are forever telling us that the internet connects us and for tons of reasons, I have always thought that this was a load of crap. That was until this summer, when I started my blog after being inspired by another.

The Nie Nie Dialogues is a blog written by a lovely, creative mom in Salt Lake City, Utah and for a few weeks at the beginning of the summer, I started reading it after seeing her posts. Even though we had very little in common - she was a Mormon, a vegetarian and lived several thousand miles away- I loved how she was able to bring such joy and beauty to documenting the every day moments of her life and I decided that I might make an effort to do the same - except I would try to bring on the funny.

Then a terrible thing happened. The entries stopped for a time and then a posting: Nie and her husband - who she referred to affectionately in her postings as Mr. Nielsen - had suffered a terrible plan crash. Mr. Nielsen, with 30 percent of his body badly burned in the crash, dragged his wife from the wreckage. She was in a coma for more than 3 months and when she awoke, a good deal of her body had been burned. Her prognosis for recovery was grim.

When I read this, I was devastated and cried as if I had known her my whole life. I had come to love her and her family beyond measure and wanted more than anything for her to be okay. I wanted her to get back to her beautiful family and the life that she had so lovingly chronicled.

All of this because of the Internet.

There is a happy ending here, though. Nie has made a very strong recovery, is back with her family and is blogging again with the same enthusiasm that she did in her early days. For this I am grateful.

You can check her site out at

Or today on The Oprah Winfrey Show. You heard it here first.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekly Salad

With the weather as blase as it is, I want to eat something that puts me in mind of late summer....which we never got this summer summer, either by the way.

This is a good one because it has my favorite salad leaf: arugula. Here's what you need:

A handful of green beans
8 - 10 fingerling potatoes
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
the juice of one lemon
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of pine nuts, toast and chopped up
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1 1/2 cup of arugula

Cook the beans to your likeness and roast the fingerlings in the oven until golden brown. Whisk lemon juice, zest, pepper and some salt. Set aside. Toss beans, potatoes and arugula together, coat with the dressing and garnish with the parmesan and pine nuts.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Laura in Paris + 2

As many of you know, I turned 40 this year and as a gift, my sister took me to Paris. Sweet, huh?

We had a blast, of course, but as an added bonus we brought along a friend.

Silver bear is the bear my daughter asked me to bring along to the City of Lights to enjoy the sights. He had a lot of fun but a couple of nights he drank WAAAAAY to much wine, puked on a Japanese tourist and ended up getting banished by yours truly to a discarded suitcase in our hotel room.

Don't worry. He apologized the next day.

But, Hey! What happens in Paris, stays in Paris.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of Autumn, my very favorite of the seasons.

And I'm heading to Paris.

Can't wait to post upon my return.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall Line-up

Fall is here and so, too, are the new shows. Hurrah! Let the watching begin, in earnest. Is there any other way to watch the box?

One of my favorites, Project Runway, is back for its 6th (?) season. Favorites have already been determined (Go Louise!), villains are slowly emerging (I don't trust you, Anthea! Watch your backs, designers.....) and the Michael Kors zingers have already been flung about (That was a beautiful collar, Michael, but it IS essentially a nightgown.) I am in heaven.

Many of the shows that I watch now (which I refer to as my "stories") are a potent mixture of both the high and the low . For every Mad Man episode, for instance, there is a healthy dose of Amazing Race thrown in for good measure. I struggle mightily with this, intraweb, I really do. Mostly because I think we owe it to ourselves, and to the culture at large, to support smart, intellectually-stimulating television shows. It raises the bar artistically and keeps us relevant. And yet, what to do with the train wrecks - Hoarders, Tantrums and Tiaras, Real Housewives of Wherever, Jon and Kate + 8 - the shows that we know are bad for us and yet find ourselves in our weaker moments, not being able to turn away from?

I have been caught in this viewing shame circle more than once. It comes with the territory. The best way to stop the shame in its tracks is give it some perspective. The trashy shows are like tiny Snickers bars: the first one is delicious but a constant diet of the stuff will leave you with jangly nerves, a crappy complexion and rotten teeth. Not attractive.

Sometimes you just have to have the guts to turn it off.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Autumn in Paris

Benoit: Mom, you're going to Paris in a week, right?

Me: Why, yes, I am.

Benoit: You need to be careful when you go there because there was a terrible explosion there this summer.

Me: Really? I hadn't heard about it.

Benoit: Well, you wouldn't have. You didn't see the movie, "G.I. Joe". There was a disaster in that movie and it all happens in Paris.

Me: I'll be extra careful.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Mighty Caesar (Weekly Salad x 2)

Caesar Salad
Originally uploaded by bowbrick
My friend Tom Bollard has a goal: to eat a Chicken Caesar Salad in every city he visits. His is a noble quest.

But I believe that my Caesar is the best of all and yet he still has yet to set foot in my home. This is a situation that must be rectified. Why, is my Caesar the best, you may ask? Well I'll tell you: it is because the dressing is not goopy. Nothing but NOTHING ruins a Caesar Salad more than goopiness in the dressing area. Try mine and see if you do not agree.

Rip up a head of cleaned Romaine lettuce and set it aside. In a wooden bowl add 2 tbsp. of olive oil, 1 tsp. of good balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard, two quick glugs of Worcestershire sauce, 1 chopped up clove of garlic, tons of black pepper and the yolk of one egg. Whisk this together. Toss in lettuce and serve with ribbons of shaved parmesan.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day

Tuesday was Xenia first day of school. All Day School. She was so nervous and so precious.

We spent the day before preparing for the day - sharpening pencils, filling up the pencil case, arranging clothes - all of which managed to make her more nervous and excited. At dinner that night, Tim, Benoit and I tried to calm her nerves by sharing good school stories. We talked about the friends we made in school that we've had for life, the great walks and bike rides we took there, that sort of thing. Benoit assured her that "she would do great" in school. She looked sceptical.

And then, after a fitful night's sleep, the day came. She got into her well planned outfit, drank her pre-ordered smoothie and we headed out the door towards the place she will spend at least the next 12 to 15 years. Crazy.

The tears I shed? You have no idea. But she was a trooper - nary a wet eye- and when I picked her up that afternoon she trotted up to me, smiled that crooked little smile of hers and said, "I knew I could do that."

And she did.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Weekly Salad

Originally uploaded by tina_manthorpe
Every week I accept delivery for organic vegetables and fruit. They arrive at my door and like Xmas morning, I never know what I'm going to get until I get it. Sometimes this can be good (Yay! Blueberries!), sometimes...not so much (Boo! Swiss Chard!)

One thing I almost always get is cabbage. And though many are not fans of this flatulence inducing veggie, I am definitely on Team Cabbage.

Here is a great salad that even kids will eat that make the much-maligned cabbage a crowd pleaser. (Also, a big shout-out to Janet M. who chastised me for going almost a month sans Weekly Salad postings. This one's for you, sista.)

1 head of cabbage, chopped julienne-style
1 cup roasted slivered almonds
1 cup dried chow mein noodles

Mix this together and just before dinner add the following dressing:

3 glugs vegetable oil
1 glug rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablesppons sweet chili sauce

EAT! Best serve with salmon or chicken wings. Don't know why....

Friday, September 4, 2009


It took me almost 3 months but I have finally gotten around to starting The Book of Negroes. And just in time, too, as it needs to be completed by next Friday for my September book club gathering. There is no greater, or more pleasurable, experience that reading a work of literature with a gun to your head. Really.

Why the resistance? This is the question I kept asking myself each and every time I picked the book up before promptly putting it down for another. Book of Negroes or Shanghai Girls? Shanghai Girls. The Book of Negroes or To Kill a Mockingbird for the third time? Mockingbird. The Book of Negroes or The Revenue Canada Guide to Flawless Accounting? And the winner is......

I know why I couldn't read that damn book, though, and it is as simple as the People magazine crossword: it is really hard to read books about black people when you are one. Every reading reminds you that you are so damned lucky to have been born after the Civil Rights Act. Phew. Glad I didn't have to suffer through the Middle Passage, the cotton picking in the broiling Mississippi sun, the losing of the children, the midnight escapes to Canada.

But now that I'm reading it, you know what? I can't put it down. The flawless prose will make the nightmares worth it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Foul Play

Foul Play
Originally uploaded by numberstumper
This summer, my kids became slightly addicted to the film, Foul Play. For the uninitiated, this is late 70's mistaken identity-type of caper film that starred a young Goldie Hahn and a coked-up Chevy Chase. It is incredibly dated, filled with sexual references that go completely over my kids heads and they cannot get enough of it. Cannot.

As much as it perplexes me that my kids love it ( it's the first thing they put on in the morning), it will probably be one of those things that I miss once they start school next week. In the rush to get kids off to school, lunched packed, backpacks secured, I may find myself in the quiet that follows wondering - nay, pondering - about the exploits of the characters in that film. And naturally, it will feature a song written specially for the occasion by Barry Manilow.

Oh, 70's pap! You never disappoint.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When in Rome

I would like to take this opportunity to show you where I lived for 4 days and 3 nights last week:
Pretty sweet, huh?

This is where I slept, ate, played and laughed.

It is also where I pooped. Lots. For some reason my bowels decided to go into overdrive the moment we set foot in the woods. And while every one else on the trip agonized about their movements - most would rather keep it tight for 4 days until they got back into to civilization, you see- I, like Brother Bear, couldn't get out of my canoe fast enough each day so I could leave my mark on the wilderness. Insane.

Now watch: I'm gonna go to Paris in a month and be constipated for a week.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Hey Interweb Peeps!

I'm heading off to camp in the wilderness for a few days. Post ya when I get back.