The last time I looked at my teenage diaries — years ago during one of our half-hearted attempts to clean the basement — I was struck by how many times I’d written I feel fat. I’ve always tried to hide my low self esteem and crappy body image (true whether I was “average” or severely underweight) but there it was spelled out over and over in black and white. Despite years of therapy, it’s still true today: most days I look in the mirror and I hate what I see. I’m ashamed that I’m not thinner. Ashamed that I’m not happier. Ashamed that I’m not the social butterfly I always feel I should be. (As if being introverted is somehow less than.) All of which made Mona Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl difficult to read, because I saw myself in it more than I thought I would. It’s the story of Lizzie (later Beth, Elizabeth, then Liz), a fat girl who’s never liked the way she looks. In 13 short stories we see her in various stages of her life, from her teen years growing up in Mississauga (aka Misery Saga) with her unsettlingly promiscuous friend Mel, to her early working and dating years (“Archibald doesn’t take me to dinner, but at least I can be naked with him”), her married life as an anorexic and her (slightly) later years heavy again. … 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Everyone wants the story. What did she know? Glen Taylor, the prime suspect in a child abduction case gone cold, has been dead a week and his reclusive widow Jean Taylor is finally ready to talk. At least to Kate Waters, the cunning journalist who gets Jean to open up (to a point) and maybe with some luck to Detective Bob Sparkes, the lead investigator on a four-year-old case he can’t let go. But can we trust what Jean says? Who is manipulating whom? And where is Bella Elliot, the two-year-old taken from her front garden one afternoon when her mother left her on her own for “just a few minutes”? … The Widow by Fiona Barton
There are some people I’m always happy to see: my kiddos at the end of a long day, my hubby not long after I’ve seen my kiddos at the end of of a long day (ha!), and the mail man with a delivery, preferably in a large box (hold the bills). Because when the mail man arrives with a package, it’s almost always a good thing. Except maybe when it’s an enormous flower arrangement and a fruit bouquet you’re meant to hold for your neighbour. Then it’s just sad. Well happy for your neighbour, but sad for you. (And by “you” I mean “me”, since I’ve babysat more bouquets than I care to remember.) But happy days are here again! Last week my girlfriend Renee sent me the most thoughtful box of goodies for my birthday, and the week before that Canada Post delivered a “Tasting Box” of treats made in small batches in kitchens across Canada. It’s one of 50 such boxes curated monthly by FoodiePages, a kind of online farmer’s market based in Toronto. I’m going to be reviewing some of their products over the next couple of months (tough gig, I know), so let’s get started! … FoodiePages’ Tasting Box: Sampling small-batch treats from Canadian kitchens
If two vegans have an argument, is it still called “a beef”? What do vegan zombies say? “Graaaaaains! Graaaaains!” How many vegans does it take to change a light bulb? Two: one to change it, and one to check for animal ingredients. Vegans may be the subject of many a punchline, but for anyone who’s avoided vegan food, well the joke’s on them. I tested a few of the recipes in Jessica Nadel’s vegan Superfoods 24/7 and I’m here to tell you, they’re plant-tastic! So go for the goji berries, stock up on the spinach and make no beans about beans! Let Jessica show you how to make them go-to’s in dishes you’ll love. … Superfoods 24/7 by Jessica Nadel
What do you look for in a cookbook? Do-able, nourishing recipes you can feel good about eating and sharing, gorgeous photography that makes your mouth water, a strong point of view that gives you a real sense of the person and the expertise behind them? The UnDiet Cookbook by nutritionist Meghan Telpner is all that (oh yeah!) and much more. Okay I’m gushing I know, but when you’re in love, you want to sing it from the rooftops! And I heart this book. Meghan’s philosophy is all about making plantiful (that is to say, plant-based) choices and living a more joyful, vibrant, intentional life. “Let’s aim to wake up feeling happy and feeling good, and to do what we can to make that happen,” Meghan writes, “whether that means dining on green juice, smoothies, and incredible salads, or having a night of celebration where we raise a glass to those we love most and indulge in a treat without attaching the word cheat to it.” Huzzah! … The UnDiet Cookbook by Meghan Telpner + Win a copy of your own!
It’s winter 1933. A woman in fine clothes arrives in a small town on the French shore of Nova Scotia driving an elegant car, with nothing else but a suitcase and a trunk to call her own. Maybe she’ll stay. “They might never have seen it in the newspaper,” a friend had told her. “Or if they did, it’ll be long forgotten.” … The Piano Maker by Kurt Palka + Win 1 of 5 copies!
The secret behind Mona Lisa’s smile. How they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar. Why it takes my kids 20 minutes to put on a pair of snow pants. Some things will always be a mystery but I do know this: Prairie Girl Bakery‘s cupcakes are delicious! delectable! delovely! and you can totally make them at home. The secrets are all in The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook, released just last week. I baked from it on the weekend (would you believe those are my cupcakes up there? I’m so proud!) and I’m here to tell you, it’s a revelation. Heck, it might even be the secret behind Mona Lisa’s smile! The cupcakes are that good. … The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook by Jean Blacklock
Years ago I went to a lecture at the University of Ottawa by Margaret Atwood, followed by a signing of her then-latest novel, Alias Grace. I was daunted by the opportunity to meet her (I’d seen Margaret and her daughter shopping at Jacob in Hazelton Lanes the year before but had been too shy to introduce myself) and pretty sure everyone around me could hear my heart beating out of my chest as I joined the impossibly long line to the table where she sat autographing books. Inching through Tudor Hall, I rehearsed what I’d say when I got to the front. I’d straighten my shoulders, look Margaret straight in the eye and say: “As long as you breathe, write.” (What cheese!) I don’t know if I’d read that somewhere or made it up but I thought it was poetry. Margaret would see that we were kindred spirits — she the Anne to my Diana! — and a lifelong friendship would begin. “As long as you breathe, write. As long as you breathe, write.” Round and round it went in my head. Finally Margaret was in view — five more people to go! — and a handler took my book, asked me my name, and scrawled it on a post-it note he slapped inside the front cover. Suddenly I was standing directly in front of her and she raised her head to look at me. I opened my mouth and whispered “As long as you write, breathe.” (Nooooooooo!) I felt my face flush beet-red. Margaret blinked, then lowered her head to sign and I was jostled ahead to receive my book from another one of her people. I don’t know if she even heard me, but I thought I’d die of embarrassment. My one chance to speak to slash befriend Margaret Atwood (the Margaret Atwood!) and I blew it. Royally. … At Home: Sarah Style by Sarah Richardson
Happy New Year, everybody! Today I’m sharing one of the books I dipped in and out of over the holidays, the new memoir/style guide Love Style Life by famed French photographer, illustrator and blogger Garance Doré. If you don’t recognize the name, you might know her work — Chapters has carried a selection of her prints, greeting cards and notepads for a few years. (Naturally I fell head over heels when I first saw them — ahhh Chapters! you get me! — and had to bring a few pieces home with me.) This year marks a decade since Doré started her wildly popular fashion blog but somehow it is the book — something tangible to hold in one’s impeccably manicured hand — that establishes her as an authority on style, beauty and elegance. … Love Style Life by Garance Doré