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Showing posts from 2019

We must believe in our souls that we are somebody

Colson Whitehead once again brings American history to the forefront through the eyes of two boys, who have been sentenced to Nickel Academy, a "hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida". 

Elwood Curtis wasn't supposed to end up at the school. He was a good kid by all means. But one stupid innocent mistake costs him dearly. Being coloured in the early 1960s in Jim Crow South was bound to catch up with this kid. Until that moment of his arrest, Elwood had lived his entire life as an exemplary kid, who embodied the traits of honour and courage. His grandmother had done a good job raising him. 

At a young age both white and black folks noticed this about Elwood. "White men were always extending offers of work to Elwood, recognizing his industrious nature and steady character, or at least recognizing that he carried himself differently than other coloured boys his age and taking this for industry." 

But in a town like Jim Crow South, you have to watch your back a…

"This is a child...society should be horrified."

The stories about the tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls has been gaining momentum in the last few years. Journalists have exposed the injustices and missing pieces of how the justice system has failed the Indigenous community. Tanya Talaga, an Anishinaabe Canadian journalist and author, was amongst the first few investigative reporters for the Toronto Star, who shed light on this issue, when she investigated the deaths of seven First Nations youths in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Sh brought that story to the nation in her 2017 book Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths.

Now reporter and former BBC producer, Joanna Jolly, brings to light the tragedy of Tina Fontaine, who was a young fifteen-year-old Indigenous schoolgirl from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. She went missing in July 2014 and her body was found wrapped in plastic and a duvet cover in Winnipeg's Red River on Aug. 17, 2014. 
Red River Woman was first published as a multimedia artic…

Taking a walk through memory lane

What's your favourite memory? 
Don't think too much, just answer the question as quickly as you can. 

Happiness is the sum of our beautiful memories. But have you wondered how the perfect memory is created and how does one memory stacks up in importance over another? This is one of the things that Meik Wiking sought to uncover with his research at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. 

You'll remember Meik Wiking as the international bestselling author of The Little Book of Hygge and The Little Book of Lykke. In his new bookThe Art of Making Memories, he explores the process behind how peak experiences are made, stored and remembered. The book is meant to be a bit of a self-help guide to help you retrieve happy memories of the past, and store them for the future. 

According the The Art Of Making Memories there are 
8 ingredients for making happy memories. 
1. You have to harness the power of firsts. Seek out novel experiences and make days extraordinary. 
2. Make it mul…

If a photograph could talk

While one photograph captures a moment in time, its repercussions last a lifetime.

The Story of Painting

Drawing through time

The generation that's grown up in the digital age won't understand this, but it used to be that if you wanted to be an artist, drawing was considered a basic skill that one had to master before they moved on to painting or sculpture. 

It makes sense that people began to draw long before they could write. Drawing has been a form of creative expression that has few limitations. Palaeolithic drawings were scratched into rock or made with charcoal left over from fires and with flakes of naturally occurring chalk. 

In ancient Egypt, the tools used for drawing included reed pens and papyrus. 

In Europe, monks decorated illuminated manuscripts of religious texts during the middle ages.

Throughout the Renaissance era, people drew to study nature and human anatomy. It was only later from the 1800s onward that drawings became more refined and began to be seen as a work of art. New materials and modified techniques evolved, and drawing became much more about expression an…

Great Paintings: Guernica Decoded

The World's Masterpieces Explored and Explained. 

If a painting could speak, what would it say to you? Great paintings have hidden layers of meaning, but once you begin to unravel the clues, you may come closer to the true intent of the piece. Set in a period of time, for one they encapsulate a moment in history, that goes beyond what the history books tell you. You see beyond the colours and grasp the subtleties of the situation. Thoughts and feelings are all...
Art enthusiasts know that they never get tired of spending time staring at their favourite painting. It's hypnotic staring at a life sized painting of an artist that you admire. 

Take for example one of the most striking images of 20th-century art, Pablo Picasso's Guernica, a nightmare vision of violence, pain and chaos. 

Regardless of being painted with a monochromatic nighttime hue, Guernica oozes of vibrant energy. Jagged, fragmented forms and distorted faces, effectively create an atmosphere of panic and terror. S…

Night of Power

Once in a while a book comes along that is relatable and diverse, and makes you feel like you are better for reading it. 
Night of Power by Anar Ali surprised me. With a poignantly accessible style of prose that's far from rudimentary, Night of Power invites its readers into the lives of a family settled in Calgary for the past 25 years. Favouring clarity and succinctness over verbosity, Anar Ali's novel gives readers the permission to intimately bear witness to each character, as he or she struggles to fit into a world that's handed down to them.
Mansoon Visram came to Canada from Uganda, with his wife Layla and son Ashif, when the dictator Idi Amin expelled South Asians from the country. Starting over in another country is never easy. Mansoor was born and brought up in Africa, but tried to do his best to recreate the life they had before. His father created an empire out of nothing. But, the struggle has been evident. Having to work as a car salesman in his earlier years, …

History Matters! A review of From Wall Street to Bay Street

How to create new plants for free

Have you ever tried to propagate pieces of plants in the hope that they will grow into something new? I have. Not often, and definitely not on my own; usually it's my mom (who has a really great green thumb) who's guided me in my gardening adventure. 

But trying to grow succulents are another story. I've sadly killed many, but continue to buy them in the hope that one day we will grow old together. Succulents are not my mom's forté, and since I am a huge fan of them, I wanted to learn how to not only take care of them, but also propagate them. But I never do anything without a plan. So, I'm going to tell you more about the manual I used: Propagating Plants by DK Books Canada

To be fair, I've learned a lot from other books such as Cactus and The Practical House Plant Book (both from DK Books Canada and featured here in the Mother's Day curated gift giving guide), and have become slightly better in diagnosing what the problem is. The first, is overwatering; t…

What happens after the end

A very different take from Claire Mackintosh's previous novels which have been in the thriller genre. After The End explores the angst and turmoil that follows a couple after they discover that their child has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. 

Max and Pip have an unshakable relationship. That is until their son Dylan gets sick; now it seems that every decision is up for debate and the only thing the couple can agree upon is what's good for their son. Claire Mackintosh has hit the nail on the wall, and portrayed a realistic situation for a family, whose lives can never return to a rudimentary stage again. 

Dylan is their first and foremost priority. For the first time in their lives, Max and Pip can't agree on their son's future. They have to make a difficult decision; it's a decision no parent should ever have to make about their child's future. 

There's a lovely poem by Robert Frost that Claire Mackintosh has inserted in between the pages.

Two roads div…

Sophistication made accessible at home

Show off with hors d'oeuvres. Everyone loves 'em.

While some may prefer certain variations of ingredients, one thing you can guarantee is going to be a bonified hit at any party is hors d'oeuvres...not to mention the level of sophistication it will create. 

Hors d'oeuvres can be simple. But how you assemble your hors d'oeuvres ingredient by ingredient, is key in learning how to make these beautiful appetizers at home. 

DK Books offers help with this book collection called (what else?) Hors d'oeuvres, put together by Eric Treuille and Victoria Blashford-Snell who run a catering business as well. The cover is absolutely breathtaking and mouthwatering, and I assure you that it's not all a pretty face. 

I'm sure you'll agree that hors d'oeuvres aren't just a practical way of feeding a crowd, but also a fun way to show off. The combinations are endless, but this book offers great recipes for everything from crostini's, tartlets, skewers and wraps…

Who needs Netflix when you've got The Rabbit Hunter

This is a 521-page investment, but I guarantee you, that you won't be able to put The Rabbit Hunter down. Written by the duo husband-wife team known as Lars Kepler, this Swedish novel (translated brilliantly into English) is a thrilling masterpiece, written with precision and aplomb. It's Netflix in print format.

I'm afraid of giving up too much because the story is so engaging and must be experienced, so I shall keep this short and sweet. 

The Swedish Foreign Minister has been murdered in the most horrific and peculiar way. Seems like the killer had a motive. But why did he leave a witness? 

But it doesn't end there. Seems like there are more; we're dealing with a spree killer. And that's a whole other ballgame. The killer is smart and well trained. Someone that skilled wouldn't leave a trace, yet, the question remains, why would he leave the prostitute alive at the politician's murder scene. 

There's no time to waste. The best guy to handle this is in…

Please don't judge me based on my potluck

Suppers, Potlucks & Socials: Crowd-Pleasing Recipes to Bring People Together. 

I hate everything about potlucks. Work potlucks, friends potlucks, basically the word potluck runs a chill down my spine that spells disaster all the way.

Work potlucks are especially gruelling. Don't you feel you just can't show up with kale salad and a side of Kraft Caesar Dressing?

Plus, you never can opt out of a work potluck. It's performance pressure to the nth degree. You know your coworkers are judging you (snide remarks aside), and there's no doubt that your boss has made a mental note somewhere at the front of his mind, that either puts you in the impressive category or in a separate category titled either "miscellaneous" or "not promotion-worthy".  

Judgement aside, is it just me that feels like potluck prep always happens on a school night? Am I the only one slogging it on the jammed transit cars, trying to get it in one piece to the office? It's damn stre…

A balanced approach to more Peace, Love & Fibre

What a great title for a cookbook. 

You know Marilyn Smith from her quirky humour, and quick healthy recipes on The Marilyn Denis Show. Peace, Love & Fibre is a collection of 1000 recipes to satisfy every mealtime. 

Recipes include home comfort favourites such as Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham that serves 10 to 12 people, and the cornbread that serves 16. Personally, I find it's always hard for me to scale up to a family and friends size portions. So Marilyn Smith's collection takes half the guesswork out. These are especially great when you have company staying with you.

Tired of your everyday egg routine. Try Morning Eggs Mexican Style, with grape tomatoes, cheddar cheese, black beans, zucchini, green onion and for those a bit more adventurous, add some hot sauce. This one was a great variation on my regular omelettes where I use regular onions, coriander, tomatoes, and a dash of turmeric. 

Simple ingredients are the foundation of all the recipes. Marilyn Smith shares a few …

The grass is greener

"A woman can't survive without a man anywhere". 

This is what Patsy has been told all her life. Her best friend Cicely tells her that sometimes sacrifice is necessary. But, is sacrifice quantifiable? Once we reach our quota, does it give us permission to live our lives freely?

Living in a community of Pennyfield, Jamaica, shackled in a mindset that dictates how you should live and whom you can love, Patsy is determined to find a new life for herself, even if it's a million miles from home. And even, if that means leaving behind everything, including her five-year-old daughter Tru. 

Letters from her childhood friend, Cicely, paint a picture of America the great. Cicely left Jamaica on a visa and has never returned; and from the likes of it, has done well to craft a new life for herself with a man named Marcus, who she supposedly married for a green card. Seeing Cicely have the freedom to love, on her terms, is a catalyst driving change in Patsy's life. 

Years after pu…