"The Pulse of Canada "



A Dragonriders Of Pern Movie May Finally Happen!

Posted July 29, 2014 by Meredith Woerner

Warner Bros. has optioned Dragonriders Of Pern. With The Dark Knight series done, Harry Potter over, and The Hobbit winding down, it’s only natural for Warner Bros. to be searching for the next big franchise. Cross every single finger you have for thi…

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Joe Abercombie’s Half A King Is A Coming-Of-Age Tale Soaked In Blood

Posted July 29, 2014 by Charlie Jane Anders

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to check out acclaimed fantasy novelist Joe Abercrombie, then his new novel Half a King is probably the perfect jumping-on point. It’s short, with a sympathetic main character, a fast-paced plot, and plenty o…

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Which Character Was Supposed To Be Badass, But Ended Up Being Just Ass?

Posted July 29, 2014 by Charlie Jane Anders

Sometimes, when it comes to making everybody think a character is supercool, less is more. Overkill just feels like overcompensation. And sometimes, creators spend so much time making a character cool on the surface, they forget to work on the other s…

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When Religion Becomes a Trap Rather Than a Safety Net

Posted July 28, 2014 by Anonymous

“My situation isn’t isolated to Mormonism. But to suggest that it doesn’t exist in Mormonism is just bullshit. Abuse of power happens in every religion.”

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Dave Eggers returns to a familiar theme in his new novel

Posted July 28, 2014 by

Book review: Your Fathers, Where Are They? And Your Profits, Do They Live Forever?

The post Dave Eggers returns to a familiar theme in his new novel appeared first on

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Author of "If Americans Knew" talks to Abby Martin of RT

Posted July 28, 2014 by MariaS

Here’s a good resource if you want to know more about what Americans should know.

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Book Review: The Secret Language of Doctors

Posted July 28, 2014 by Sonya

In my family, there have been times that we’ve rushed over to the hospital in some sort of emergency. We all know the routine. We get assessed by a triage nurse and then we wait. And we wait. Unless we’re […]

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Just Pressed: New Books by Authors on

Posted July 18, 2014 by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

From a comic diary to a collection of essays on culture and belonging, the most recent published works by authors are great additions to your bookshelf.

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Be a hero: get good grades and free comics!

Posted July 10, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Be a hero, kid: get good grades and free comics!

One of the things that made this past Canada Day fun for me was the release of a new comic in one of my favourite franchises – Captain Canuck. Over the years, this all-Canadian hero has taken many forms – starting with a series published in the 70s but set in a fantasy future of the 90s where Canada was a world super-power and humans were actively colonizing space and encountering hostile aliens, helped by the unearthly powers of our own maple-leaf draped superhero.

Although this series only lasted half a decade, the Captain has been “re-born” in the form of a couple of other comic characters since, wearing similar costumes as the original but getting by on bravery and skill rather than super powers. I was also helped crowd-fund an animated web seriesabout another Captain incarnation, whose apparently substantial powers have yet to be fully explained, but whose use of non-lethal weaponry stands in stark contrast to most American action offerings.

One of my favourite things about Captain Canuck being able to interact with his creators, like funding the series or meeting character originator Richard Comely, who regularly appears at various Ontario comic stores to sign comics, do custom drawings, and interact with fans young and old. The most recent edition even features a variant blank cover where Richard can draw in your own custom image!

Mr. Comely was in Barrie just yesterday, hosted by Big B Comics, but if you missed his visit, I’m sure he’ll be back another time. Last time I was at Big B was for another reason, though – so my daughters could access the Comics for Grades promotion.

I wrote about this last year, how Big B generously gives children free comics from their extensive back catalog for each A grade on their report card, to reward academic effort and promote the joy of reading. This year, they’ve sweetened the deal, giving a comic for a full letter-grade improvement between first and second terms, even if your child didn’t make it to A. So if she got a C in science in the fall but advanced that to a B for the end of the year, she gets a free comic, too.

Summer is a great time to get outside and play superhero, but there will also be rainy days when the kids end up in front of a TV or computer or video game. How about making sure they have some exciting reading, to brighten their minds without electronic input? The Comics for Grades program continues until the end of July, so dig out those report cards and see if your children are eligible to get some free fun summer super reading at Big B. My kids have moved on from their earlier super-heroes to the worlds of Adventure Time, the Regular Show, Richie Rich, Bart Simpson, and other silly stories told in picture and prose, which just shows that there are genres to suit children of many tastes. I hope yours develop the same love of the graphic reading arts.

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “Comics can inspire children to start reading
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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My Name Is Nikki Stafford . . . And I Am an Addict

Posted July 9, 2014 by Nikki Stafford

My friends have always ribbed me as the girl with no vices.

I don’t drink. I don’t drink coffee. I’ve never even taken a puff from a cigarette. I’ve never done recreational drugs of any kind. (Seriously, I’m that boring kid at parties.) I don’t particularly like ice cream or desserts. I love chocolate, but rarely crave it. I’ve never bought expensive shoes, and typically find one pair — whether it’s a pair of Docs or Clark’s — and wear them until the soles are worn off. I don’t buy expensive clothes, and prefer jeans and t-shirts. I don’t buy expensive handbags: I own a single Coach purse that I bought on sale, and have had it for four years and will no doubt wear it for another 10. Until I got that, I’d used the same $10 Old Navy purse for over a decade. I don’t wear jewelry, though occasionally I’ll find something really unique and I’ll buy it, but it’s never more than $50. And we’re talking one of those a year. Maybe. I’m constantly joking with my husband that he doesn’t know how good he’s got it: those credit card bills of ours contain zero extravagances for me.

Well, except for one itty bitty thing…

Back in December, I announced here that I would stop buying books for one year. I acknowledged I had a problem, and I was going to stop buying them by the dozen (no really, I buy armloads at a time) and actually read the hundreds — hundreds — of unread books that surround me on my dozen bookshelves. My house is a library, where there isn’t a single room without a book in it. My kitchen is full of cookbooks (which I actually read like novels), as is the pantry in my dining room. My side table beside the bed has so many stacks of books on it that, as I joked to a friend last week, I knock a book off every morning when I try to hit the alarm’s Snooze button — because of spending five years taking English lit at university, I got so used to reading several books at once that I still do it. My kids have several bookshelves in each of their rooms. The bathrooms are filled with magazines. The family room and living room have shelves of books. Even the guest bedroom, music room, exercise room and storage spaces have books shoved into every free space. And my office has so many books that every shelf is filled, more books are shoved into the free space on top of the books, the tops of the shelves have books, they’re stacked on the floors, and that one shelf where I have put all my Buffy figures? I now eye it daily and think, “OK, Spike, you’ve fallen off that stand so many times that I should just sweep all of you guys into a bag and use this shelf for BOOKS.” But I haven’t gotten there yet.

I’ve read a ton of them. Every shelf probably has 10-15 books on it that I’ve actually read. But that leaves another 10-15 that I haven’t. And that is A LOT.

And so, I decided I wouldn’t buy books this year. Nor would I take any out of the library. I was going to make a concerted effort to read what was on my shelves, and see if I could match the 55 books I managed to read last year.

Then I started making exceptions, and that’s where addictions always fall apart. I belong to two book clubs (sometimes three), and I said whatever books they chose, I’d buy/get from the library so I could keep up. But that’s 24 books right there. Already I’d put a major dent in my Year of Reading From My Own Shelves.

Then, on December 31, I placed an order for 10 books, books that I’d wanted for some time, but now that I’d put a one-year moratorium on my book-buying, I needed them NOW. So after deciding I needed to read some of the hundreds of books on my shelf, I was already up to 10 new ones, and 24 other ones that I’d have to buy/borrow. That left only about 20 that I could read from my own collection. Not even one shelf’s worth.

And then, in February, my children’s school had a book sale to raise money for their library. The kids begged me to take them there after school, and they looked over the books and I told them they could take what they wanted (I’ve never put a limit on books). $1 for a paperback, $2 for a hardcover. And that’s when I saw JK Rowling’s Cuckoo’s Calling on a table in mint condition. Wait, $2 for a brand new book? That’s amazing! Without even thinking, I put it into the stack of books the kids had chosen and went up to pay for them. It’s only as I handed over my money my heart suddenly jolted and I realized, Wait… I can’t buy any books!! Oh no… oh no… So I decided I will give this one to my husband. Yes, that’s the ticket! I can still give books as gifts, yes? And if it just happens to still be on my shelf next year, why then yes, I can read it. Whew. Crisis averted.

Then my birthday happened. And someone gave me an Indigo bookstore gift card. They were barely out the door before I raced to my computer, heart pounding with excitement, and began filling up my cart. Ooh… I went over the amount. Ah well, it’s my birthday, right? I felt my heart beat faster, and my stomach was doing flip-flops of excitement. Two days later the books arrived and I grabbed them excitedly from the mailbox, ripped open the box and smelled them. They smelled WONDERFUL. (This is why I’ve yet to switch to a Kobo…)

Two weeks later two of the books that I’d worked on as an editor arrived in the mail: Wanna Cook, the Breaking Bad companion guide by Dale Guffey and Ensley Guffey, and Elephant in the Sky by Heather Clark (both astoundingly good books, by the way!) Just seeing a book-shaped package gave me shivers of excitement, and I could barely contain myself as I ripped the package open and handled them for the first time. Shortly after, one of my book clubs had their monthly meeting in a bookstore. I saw books that I wanted so desperately — OMG, so-and-so has a new book?! — but knew I couldn’t have them.

And on the way home, I realized no, I can’t do this. In fact, I’d more than proven already that I hadn’t done this at all. I’d failed miserably. My moratorium on books had lasted all of six weeks before I’d fallen off the wagon, and then when someone gave me a gift I was like an addict.

And that was when I realized something even bigger: I’d always joked that I was addicted to buying books, but I really was. The way alcohol or caffeine or drugs give people a high that they can’t get from anything else, that’s how I feel when I buy books. There’s so much possibility between those covers, so many worlds and new people to meet and adventures to be had. If I choose my books wisely, I’ll be introduced to new ways of thinking and new ideas that I’ll be mulling over for weeks, months, even years.

So I gave up. I decided no, I’m not wasting a year of my life not doing one of the things I love most. I have friends who are in serious credit card debts over shoe purchases or expensive clothes-buying binges, and that’s not me. Books are relatively cheap, and they are WONDERFUL.

I love reading books. But I discovered that I might enjoy discovering and buying them even more. I literally have physical changes when I’m in the midst of purchasing a book: my heart really does race, my stomach gets fluttery. I have a buzz and feel overwhelmed with joy. The smell and look of a bookstore makes me so happy. A couple of weeks ago I was in an independent bookstore in San Francisco with my best friend Sue (who also tried the year-long moratorium and failed equally spectacularly) and it made me realize how much I love and long for independent bookstores. I’ll go to a Chapters/Indigo long before I’ll buy something on Amazon, but the fluorescent lights and overwhelming smell of Starbucks and warehouse-like look of the place is no match for the soft lighting, smell of old paper, occasional creaky floors, and hand-selling that happens at an independent. The one I found in SF was called Booksmith’s, in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury district, and I spent SO much time in there reading the dozens and dozens of cards they’d carefully placed under all their favourite books (not just New Releases but everywhere throughout the store) and was madly writing down titles of books that intrigued me, knowing I couldn’t carry every single one of them back to the hotel. I went up to the owner of the store and told him how much I adored his place, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to hear it. I chose a single book by Maud Casey as my prize (based on the card that recommended it), and felt that rise in pulse as I handed over my money for it. After I got home I looked up the store online and discovered there was a whole wealth of bookstores in SF, and maybe I need to make a trip there where I do nothing but shop in bookstores the entire time. Hm… I might actually go into cardiac arrest if I did that…

Many addictions are bad. Whether it’s hard drugs or alcohol that have destroyed lives and families, or shopping sprees or gambling addictions that have crippled people financially, or eating disorders that threaten the lives of their victims, we tend to look at the nature of addiction as something uncontrollable and evil, filled with hurt and pain. I’ve had many friends fight addictions for years, and while not all of them were able to overcome their demons, I’m happy to say many of them have recovered and are leading extraordinary lives now.

I saw my book-buying addiction (and the physical changes, sense of compulsion, and overwhelming high that accompanies it would suggest it is, in fact, an addiction) as something that I needed to curb, that I needed to stop so I could focus on the glorious worlds that currently exist on my bookshelves. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never live long enough to read many of the books I currently own, and that I can’t stop buying new ones. I can let go, though — when we moved the last time, I probably got rid of 100 books (which I offered up to friends first) — so it’s not like a person would come to my house and be tripping over books wherever they go. There is an order to my chaos.

But I love bringing new books home. I love discovering the worlds that exist within them, even if I never actually get to live in those worlds. And when I’m in the midst of a good book — like the one I’m reading right now, actually — it’s hard to concentrate on doing much else because all I want to do is read that book. I’ve always been that person watching prison dramas and thinking, “You know, if I was put into solitary confinement for a year, imagine all the reading I could get done!!!

So I don’t need to curb my addiction. I don’t need to curb that thrill of buying new books. I don’t need to stop discovering new books. I’ve never gotten a credit card bill with a book-buying charge on it that was so high my husband’s eyes bugged out of his head. He spent more money fixing and rewiring his guitars last month than I’ve spent all year on books. In fact, the one good thing that came out of the moratorium was that I gained a whole new appreciation for how much I love buying and reading books. I always said I loved it, but now I truly know that it’s an essential part of who I am.

In fact, for the first time, yesterday I popped into Chapters online and ordered Rainbow Rowell’s new book on the day of its release. (And then had that very 21st-century impatient feeling of, “Geez, I wish they could ship it to arrive RIGHT NOW” about two minutes later…)

And it was so damned exciting.

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A big, exciting thing.

Posted June 27, 2014 by emvandee

In real life I work in communications and any time anyone wants to communicate anything I first have to write a communications plan, which, for the uninitiated, is an extremely boring document detailing your goals, key messages, tactics, deliverables, and how you’ll measure your success. I don’t really like writing them, because I am a BIG PICTURE (impatient) person […]

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Books To Read This Summer

Posted May 17, 2014 by Loukia

The first novel I read was Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. My mom picked it up for me at the school book fair. I didn’t put that book down until I was finished reading—two days later. 

Every since I was a child, I’ve had a love affair with books and reading, even though for a few years the only books I read were Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley High, and The Baby-Sitters Club. (I think I’m a cross between Stacey, Claudia, and Mary-Anne.) Reading is a passion of mine, and reading is why I never get bored. There is always something to read, and I love getting lost in the story. In many pictures you’ll find of me from summer vacations, you’ll see me smiling, with a book in hand. Books came everywhere with me. 
Thanks to Penguin Canada, I have a lot of great books to read this summer, and I’m so glad. I’ll be on a very long flight soon, heading to Greece with my family, and I know reading will help pass the time on the long flight. I love a good book on the beach, too.
Make room in your beach bag for these great books, and leave a few by your reading corner for rainy days:
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes: I read this book in two days. Me Before You is one of those amazing books that you won’t be able to put down, and you’ll lose track of time until you realize it’s 2 a.m. and you have to be up at 6 a.m. But it’s worth the lack of sleep, trust me. It’s unexpectedly romantic, lovely, and sad, and well worth the read. It’ll stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished the last page.
Studio Saint-Ex, Ania Szado: Rules of Civility is one of my favourite books, (and the best book I read in 2013) and apparently, Studio Saint-Ex is just as good. It’s set in the 1940′s, and it’s about “… twentieth century fashion, French expatriates in Manhattan during World War II, the miracle of creative genius and the lives of the great writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery and the women he loves.” Sounds amazing, no? 
Naked Imperfection, Gillian Deacon: Gillian Deacon is a much loved award-winning Canadian broadcaster and environmental writer. Naked Imperfection is her personal and brave story of her breast cancer diagnosis and her strength and courage moving forward. I’ve started reading it, and it’s an excellent book. I’d recommend it to anyone. 
Then and Always, Dani Atkins: This is book I am just dying to start reading. (I love the pretty cover, too.)  It’s going to be the first book I start as soon as I get on the plane. I’m pretty sure I’ll be finished reading it before we even land! “Absorbing, surprising, and heart-rending, Dani Atkins’s debut novel follows a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life… just not the one she remembers.” 
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin: I have heard the best things about this book, so I can’t wait to start reading this story about a book store owner, and his life. “As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read and why we love.” 
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer: The Interestings was named a best book of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Time, and The Chicago Tribune, and this book has been recommended to me by friends who are avid readers, so no doubt I’ll love it. Also, it’s my kind of story: “The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed.” This books deals with friendship, power, money, talent and more. Oh, I know I’m going to love it! 

Happy reading, everyone!
Disclaimer: Penguin Canada sent me a package of amazing books that I’m reading (and will be reading over the next couple of months.) Thank you Penguin Canada for making this reader so happy.
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Peter Foster with Ezra Levant

Posted May 2, 2014 by JR

Ezra Levant discusses the demonization of capitalism with Peter Foster on the occasion of the publication of Peter’s new book “Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism”:It was great to see Peter on Ezra’s show.  We should…

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The Complete Mother’s Day Gift Guide For Every Mother

Posted May 1, 2014 by Loukia

Mother’s Day is almost here and that means I’ll be spending the day with my family, thankful for the great gift of being a mom to the two greatest boys. Although the most meaningful gifts are those made with love, like personal cards and crafts, receiving something extra is always nice. After all, every mom deserves something special on Mother’s Day.

I’ve put together a complete gift guide for Mother’s Day, featuring products I think will speak to every mom out there. Here’s my Mother’s Day segment on CTV Ottawa Morning Live, so you can see and hear for yourself how great these products are. I couldn’t talk about everything in length on-air, but I’ve got the full rundown for you here.

The complete Mother’s Day Gift Guide:

Books: Books as gifts are always a good idea—for any occasion, especially Mother’s Day. If I only received books as presents for the rest of my life, I’d be very happy. Here are some books that are great to give and to receive for Mother’s Day: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, and Then And Always by Dani Atkins. I can’t wait to start reading these! Only one problem: Which one do I start first? 

Kobo: If I had to be locked in a store overnight, I’d want it to be a bookstore, or a department store.  I love having a pile of books to read on my night table. I get nervous if I don’t have at least three books ready to be read, and I hate coming to the end of a great book. I love the experience of shopping for books, but many of my friends enjoy reading books and magazines on a Kobo. The Kobo Arc 7 HD delivers the highest resolution pixel density which provides a a great display that offers sharp text and vivid colours. From now until Mother’s Day, you can save $20.00 off this Kobo at any Chapters/Indigo, plus $30.00 in ebooks and emagazines

Ste. Anne’s Spa: A spa day is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. Ste. Anne’s Spa is one of Canada’s most loved and popular spas. Why not ask for a weekend away with your girlfriends? A gift card to Ste. Anne’s Spa is a beautiful idea. If you can’t make it the spa, bring the spa to you! Ste. Anne’s Spa has their own skin care line called Skin Nourishment. The hand cream is delicious, and the face cleanser, toner, and daily moisturizer work really well, too. Using these products will make you smell—and feel—like you’ve spent the day at the spa, even if you’ve never left home. I love Etsy, and like Pinterst, I get lost in a world of online beautiful things for hours. Online shopping can be a dangerous thing! A gift card to is a great way for mom to select the gift she wants, whether it’s a new print for the house, a new pair of hand-made earrings, or a special frame. 

Wee Piggies and Paws: Wee Piggies makes beautiful sterling silver jewelry with your child’s handprint. They also make great crystal keychains with your children’s photos inside. So cool. Such a great gift idea for a new mom, don’t you think? So original and beautiful!

Shoes: As a Shoe Style Ambassador, I get to test out new shoes from amazing brands like Nine West, Sam Edelman, BCBG, and Keds. Right now, you can receive $50.00 off any purchase of $100.00, and enjoy free shipping. When I placed my order, I received my shoes the next day. Just enter the code CTV50 when you’re checking out. This offer is good until May 7th, 2014. 

Clarisonic: I’ve heard many amazing things about the Clarisonic skin brush and a few of my closest friends use theirs all the time. Their skin is noticeably more radiant, so even before I put it to use, I knew first-hand that it really did work. The Clarisonic’s band new Deep Pore Decongesting Solution  comes with a cleanser, a uniquely designed brush head and a decongesting clay mask. You’ll have flawless looking skin in no time at all. This Clarisonic retails for $200.00 and is available online at Clarisonic and at Sephora stores.

Lemon Lily Tea: Gifting tea to someone, especially a mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law is a great gift idea. Lemon Lily Tea is a Canadian company that makes organic, all-natural tea and sells over 150 different kinds of tea (including Earl Grey Darjeeling, Egyptian Chamomile, Apple and Cinnamon, and Maple. The tins the loose-leaf teas come in are simple adorable, too.

Krups: The new Krups Lattecino is the perfect product for adding a touch of something extra at home. As much as I love my Starbucks and Second Cup, I can’t make it to my favourite coffee shops every day on the mad dash out in the morning. The Krups Lattecino comes with an attached milk frothed that can steam and froth milk, so you can make cappuccino’s and latte’s at home. The Krups Lattecino sells for $149.99 and is available for purchase online at and at select home retailers. 

Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4x: It’s almost bikini season, and that means we need silky-smooth skin to go with our bathing suits and bikinis! This product is the only Canada Medical Device Licensed hair removal laser for at-home use, and costs only a fraction of what you’d be paying for the same type of service at the spa or dermatologist’s office. You can see results in as little as two weeks. It’s available at, and at Sephora, and retails for $515.00. 

Art: Oringial art work is one of the most unique gift ideas. Mother’s Day is a great day to give your mom a piece that’ll stay on her walls forever, and it’s something that can will lose its value. Art is priceless. I love the new spring pieces by artist (and my mom) Katerina Mertikas. Also a great idea? A membership to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Even a gift card to shop the AGO store is a great idea, because there are so many unique, hand-crafted items to choose from. The AGO is also a non-profit organization. 

Mereadesso: A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a tea at Chateau Laurier with the owner and creator of Mereadesso. The Mereadesso moisturizer is a day, night and under-eye cream as well as a primer and serum, all in one. It’s perfect for traveling, because it makes your beauty routine super convenient. You can buy this great moisturizer at The all-in-one moisturizer sells for $120.00. I love because you can choose your spa treatment and salon of choice (from salons across North America) conveniently online. A gift card for a massage? Yes, please! 

Hamilton Beach Hand Blender: Kitchen gadgets are a great Mother’s Day gift idea. Great for Father’s Day too, of course, but right now it’s May, and the thought of a new hand blender makes me really excited! I don’t bake or cook all the time, but lately, I’m finding myself in the kitchen more than ever, probably because my boys love baking with me. The Hamilton Beach Hand Blender is perfect, compact, and really helps make spending time in the kitchen enjoyable. 

Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster: I have two kids who almost always want the same breakfast in the mornings. In my house, most mornings are hectic, and we’re always rushing out the door to head to school. This 4-slice toaster is perfect, because I can get breakfast made in no time at all. It’s stainless steel, and looks great with all the other stainless steel appliances in my kitchen. 

Sobey’s gift card: What goes great with new kitchen appliances? How about a Sobey’s gift card so you can go shop for all the yummy food you want? I love grocery shopping almost as much as I love shopping for shoes, and I’m not kidding. Why not try some of the new Jamie Oliver foods, too, to add something new to your kitchen routine? 

No matter what you’re giving or receiving this Mother’s Day, I hope it’s a special one, and I hope you do it what you love best! If you’d like more information on any of these products, just leave a comment below, or email me.

Disclaimer: I received products and gift cards to review and keep for Mother’s Day.  All views and opinions are my own, and I only promote the products I truly love, use, and would give to other people as gifts. 
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Something to Read: Blood, Bones and Butter

Posted May 1, 2014 by emvandee

The best chef’s memoir I’ve ever read was Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter. She’s another writer-chef I heard about through Anthony Bourdain on Twitter, and when I looked Gabrielle Hamilton up, it turns out she’s a bad-ass chef with an MFA in Creative Writing (those are my dream credentials) – I pre-ordered the book (hard cover) and paid […]

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Something to Read: Fresh Off the Boat

Posted April 30, 2014 by emvandee

Fresh Off the Boat is a memoir about food, family, and not fitting in in America. It’s author, Eddie Huang, is a foul-mouthed, hip-hop loving raconteur and restaurateur, a Gen-Y immigrant kid from a Taiwanese family in Orlando. It was Anthony Bourdain who turned me on to him via Twitter, and though he is occasionally problematic and […]

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Something to Read: Between Meals

Posted April 29, 2014 by emvandee

I bought Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris without knowing anything about it because I was about to go to Paris and also it seemed kind of absurd. The back cover describes the author’s experience as a “Rabelaisian initiation into life’s finer pleasures,” and I emitted a Ha! so loud I knew I had to buy […]

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Something to Read: India, Ireland

Posted April 27, 2014 by emvandee

For some of us, it’s been a rough week. On Thursday, the little nugget started running warm and flu-like, and by Friday’s earliest hours, he was in full-blown fever mode, seizing and feverish and feeling pretty awful. We spent Saturday trying to convince his little belly to keep fluids down, and only now is Toddler […]

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The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism

Posted April 25, 2014 by JR

Peter Foster’s new book “Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism” has been excerpted in the National Post:

Socialism’s die-hard true believers;

Biting the (invisible) hand that feeds us; and

Book review here – looks like a great read!
Available at (but, oddly, not at

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Something to Read: On Booze

Posted April 25, 2014 by emvandee

Cocktails before meals like Americans, wines and brandies like the Frenchmen, beer like Germans, whiskey-and-soda like the English, and, as they were no longer in the twenties, this preposterous mélange, that was like some gigantic cocktail in a nightmare. Ugh, this week. I’ve been busy at work, working late the first two days of the […]

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Something to Read: L.A. Son

Posted April 24, 2014 by emvandee

I have a crush on Roy Choi, the chef who started Kogi Truck and invented the Korean Taco. Tacos plus kimchi equals romance forever. I wanted his book, published under Anthony Bourdain’s imprint, before I even knew what it would be like. It is exactly the style of book I’d like to one day be witty enough […]

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James McCrorie Obituary

Posted November 22, 2013 by Next Year Country


What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

- Robbie Burns

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of James Napier McCrorie on November 17, 2013. Jim (though always James to his mother) was born in Montreal Quebec in 1936 to Thomas and Margaret McCrorie, immigrants from Scotland. Jim is survived by his beloved wife and best friend Elaine (nee Cameron), and his children and their spouses whom he loved: Ian, Ann (Alistair Mackenzie), and Aaron (Carmen Abela). Jim was the very proud and loving grandfather of Nicole, Liam, Jenna, Kennedy. Reuben and Keira. An only child, he gained a clan-ful of siblings through the Camerons of Moore Park Manitoba – Don and Joyce Cameron, Niel and Marianne Cameron, Jean and Leo Kristjanson, Hector and Leonora Cameron. He is fondly remembered by all his nieces, nephews, dear friends and comrades of all ages and those who have described him as a second father. 

Growing up in Montreal, Jim learned to speak joual and remained proud throughout his life of his ability to speak the working man’s French. He became a life long fan of the Habs and taught us all that Maurice “the Rocket” Richard was the greatest hockey player ever. Montreal remained dear to his heart throughout his life. Growing up he also learned to play the piano, and while he regretted that lessons and practice kept him from mischief with his pals, we all appreciated the magic his playing brought to many occasions.

All who knew Jim, will remember his love of the sea and trains. He came by it honestly – sailing across the Atlantic to visit his “ain falk” in Ayrshire at 16, working in the dining cars for CP Rail after high school and proudly serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Throughout his life Jim would take the train while others would fly or drive and he had just booked his next big trip, Ottawa to Melville, when he passed away. 

Jim studied sociology at McGill University and got his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The opportunity to work with the Saskatchewan Farmers Union brought this city boy to the prairies which he came to love and provided the subject of his doctoral thesis – “In Union is Strength”. It was while working in Saskatoon that Jim’s friend and colleague Leo Kristjanson introduced him to Elaine Cameron. She eventually forgave Leo and married Jim in 1964 with a memorable reception at the Wright farm south of Saskatoon. Thanks to their love for each other (and Elaine’s patience) they enjoyed almost 50 years of happy marriage. 

The chance to help build a new and teaching-centric program brought Jim to the newly established University of Regina in 1965. It was in Regina that Jim and Elaine raised their family – with two memorable yearlong sojourns in Scotland. As a father Jim instilled an appreciation of honest hard work, love of life and family and a social conscience in his children. And while life was busy he always found time to watch the kids play hockey, volleyball or football. The outcome did not matter, it was the effort that mattered. And as a grandfather Jim continued to teach these lessons and adored spending time with all of his grandchildren.

Jim combined a love of teaching and academia with the passion and conviction to change the world. For Jim, social activism and teaching were inseparable efforts to make the world a better, more socially and economically just place. There were victories and defeats, but the progressive struggle continued – in the classroom, through distance education and on the NDP convention floor. And where Jim wasn’t active, those he taught and mentored were. 

As an academic, Jim took a particular interest in the social effects of North Sea oil development, the life and career of Scotland’s Roderick MacFarquar (“The Highland Cause“) and the experience of Canada’s Spanish Civil War vets. Jim was among those who played a leading role in establishing the Spanish Civil War memorial in Ottawa. 

In the 1980′s, Jim took a break from teaching and became Director of the Canadian Plains Research Center. The job combined his deep love of the prairies with the opportunity to continue learning and teaching by reaching out to similar social and ecological regions as far flung as Nebraska and Kazakhstan. Jim finally retired in 1996, but remained active intellectually (“The Man in the Green Truck“), politically and socially. 

Jim loved to talk with, not to, everyone. No matter where you came from, what you did, or how old you were he wanted to hear your story and learn from you. And while he was passionate in his convictions, he was respectful of those who viewed the world differently. Red-Clyde Marxists, Spanish Civil War vets, musicians, wary teenagers and former Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers were all welcome at the McCrorie dinner table. 

Jim loved to tell stories, sometimes more than once. And he had a great sense of mischief and fun. Supper time, hogmanay, the Brigadier’s lunch, family reunions, visits and all those other occasions that Jim loved so much will sadly be a touch more sedate without his stories, gentle jokes and infectious laugh. 

We loved Jim and he will be missed. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Dr. Paul Schwann Centre’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Chronic Disease Prevention, Management and Risk Reduction Program at the University of Regina (3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4S 0A2) or the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (500-251 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 1X3).

Family and friends are invited to sign the online obituary and tributes page at Arrangements entrusted to – See more at:

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James N. McCrorie: 1936 – 2013

Posted November 20, 2013 by Next Year Country

Remembering Jim McCrorie

It was a very sad moment to hear of Jim’s passing.

Jim was truly a mentor to all of us who had the privilege of being his friend through his life.

As young students he taught us what radical sociology and critical thinking were all about. Jim reflected the struggles of people from the crofters of Scotland, to the farmers of Canada as social movements for us to learn from, and to appreciate as people’s histories.

With a wry Jim McCrorie smile and humour, he would tell us what really happened in the governance of the land from Tommy Douglas to today.

He was unremitting in his socialism – but with a Scottish pragmatism – looking at outcome as well as theory.

Jim was an inside out person. He lived what he believed – never forgetting his class background – recognizing the education of many to understand the economic and social forces that shape us… as the road to a better world.

Thanks Jim for what you gave us. And as you said and wrote ..In Union Is Strength. Viva Jim!

In Solidarity

Don Kossick in Mozambique, November 18th, 2013

A Celebration of James Napier McCrorie


A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which involves, music, dancing and story telling.

In honour of James N. McCrorie

Saturday, November 30th 2013


Edna May Forbes Lecture Theatre
2900 Wascana Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan


Buy Jim’s memoir “No Expectations” HERE.

“I was born on a Tuesday, at 07:40 hrs.on April 21, 1936 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. The hospital had been founded in the late 19th century by two business adventurers (i.e. rogues) from near Craigellachie, Banffshire, Scotland. The building had been built on the northern slope of Mount Royal, just above the James McGill estate – now a university. It resembled, in style, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. It was therefore a fitting venue for the son of Scottish immigrants to enter the world and although I was present at the event, I have no recollection of it.” – From the Introduction.

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In praise of audio books

Posted June 18, 2013 by Darren

Podcasts were my gateway drug into audio books. Some time around 2007, I started listening to more books than I read. Some of my first audio…

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