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Tipping makes me nervous

It feels silly to admit that, at the age of 38, I still don't understand the nuances of tipping. I find the whole custom so uncomfortable. If I leave an enormous tip, then it feels like I'm saying that I'm wealthy -- so pompously rich that I can freely dispense with my money and share it with those working in the service industry. But if I leave a meagre tip, then I'm not just a working-class person -- I'm cheap. So I'm always trying to figure … [Read more...]

When going to work feels like a holiday

As I was scrolling through facebook updates last night, I noticed one of my friends admit that she was looking forward to her kids going back to school and then added "is that really wrong?" I reached out immediately and made my own admission that I suspected that going back to work today is going to feel like a holiday. This friend and I never see each other. We're facebook friends in the pure sense. But I find this kind of supportive and … [Read more...]

NYC’s Bowery District


I haven't found a home for this article, so I thought I'd share it on my blog. Perhaps it will entice you to take a long weekend in New York's Bowery district? If you do ... please come back and tell us all about your adventure! Hubby and I have been desperate to run off for a weekend in NYC again, but I've already booked the grandparents in to babysit as part of my Winter Resolution, so I may be pushing my luck to expect two weekends sans … [Read more...]

Onward & upward! 250 of the best places to stay, cities to see and finds worth finding in 2010


The Christmas frenzy is now over and I love looking forward to a fresh new year full of possibilities. To get yourself dreaming for the year ahead, check out today's Ottawa Citizen's Travel Section (print). Laura Robin, the paper's Travel Editor, does an annual roundup of "best lists" -- 250 of the best places to stay, cities to see and finds worth finding. In the past, I've contributed "5 best men's rooms with a view" (don't ask me how I … [Read more...]

Christmas stories to warm your heart


Although the whole house seems to be sick (again), and hubby and I are exhausted from rotating night visits to children, I've been warming up my heart to Christmas by reading the memories of other bloggers. These are stories that touched my heart and resonated with me in a strong way. I hope that they may have the same lovely effect on you too. Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and may tomorrow be the start of some special … [Read more...]

Am I evil, or what?

Here's my idea of a good time: My daughter has been getting up extra-early these days and heading straight for the Christmas tree to see if there are any interesting additions underneath it. Until last night, it was empty under there. Nothing but pine needles. I believe she thinks that she is actually "sneaking" downstairs to the tree, but the child is as soft-footed as an elephant. It's kind of cute though because you can tell she's a bit … [Read more...]

I’m in love with a gay man


I've tried to get him out of my head. But I just can't. It's been months now that I have gone to bed, and then allowed myself the luxury of letting my thoughts drift off towards him and his life. Sure, my husband thinks I am going to bed earlier than usual, but hey, winter's here and it makes a girl tired. The thing is ... he's gay. I'm spending hours upon hours loving someone who will never love me back. I know, I'm surely not the only … [Read more...]

LeapFrog Toy Review: AlphaPet Explorer

The AlphaPet Explorer Toy Test LeapFrog age guide: 2-6 years Price point: Approx $25 The result? None of the children who tested this toy with me took any kind of lasting interest in the AlphaPet Explorer. Although the concept of the toy seems well-founded, it just doesn't seem to execute. We found the games too complex and the buttons too small for children up to 3 years of age, and for over-3 set, the toy seemed too "baby-ish" or … [Read more...]

Daily madness

So, what's up with you guys? Are you caught up in holiday parties, or credit card bills that have skyrocketed, or any good gossip? Come on, help a girl out ... As you know, I've started a new contract. Usually, I work on a whole bunch of small contracts all at once and juggle them about. In other words, I'm used to multi-tasking like a mad woman, then sometimes looking at the clock at 3pm and wondering if there is anything in the cupboard … [Read more...]

Should I change my name to Julian?

If I want to be a successful writer, then yes, maybe I should. James Chartrand of Men with Pens -- an extremely successful writer and blogger -- has "outed" himself as a woman. A single mom, to be specific. Why would a 30-something Canadian feel the need to adopt a male pen name? It's explained in this Copyblogger guest post "Why James Chartrand Wears Women's Underpants." It's definitely worth a read. Especially if you think feminism is an … [Read more...]

Isn’t it ironic.

A traffic jam when you're already late A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife It's meeting the man of my dreams And then meeting his beautiful wife And isn't it ironic...don't you think A little too ironic...and, yeah, I really do think... Yes, Alanis I really do think. Yeah, I really do. Like when I did all my Christmas shopping online to avoid the mall. Only to have to … [Read more...]

A note from Ottawa’s Youville Centre

Here's something to make you feel warm on a cold, windy day. This note just arrived from the Youville Centre -- your charity pick from the Ho! ho! ho! ribbit! ribbit! ribbit! post. Hello Julie, Just to let you know that we received the parcel from LeapFrog today and to thank you and everyone who chose Youville Centre's Moms and children to be the lucky recipients. In the package we found 5 boxed Tag Junior book pals, an additional 5 books … [Read more...]

A quick batch of cards


Hot out of the oven! … [Read more...]

LeapFrog Leapster 2 toy review (gift idea for children aged 3 to 5)

LeapFrog's LEAPSTER 2 Multimedia Learning System If you are hunting down a toy for a special preschooler in your life, this review may be of interest to you. (Disclosure details and other LeapFrog toy reviews can be read here.) What is it? It's a hand-held multimedia system for preschoolers that offers game-play, reading, drawing and videos. The focus is on educational fun. You can try a demo here. Price point: Approx $70 (see Toys R … [Read more...]

3 super-easy ways to make things merrier

I'm lazy all about keeping things quick & easy. With the snow sprinkling outside my office window, the Christmas spirit is starting to take hold. Here are 3 super-easy ways to share the Christmas spirit: #1.  Christmas stamps Most of us end up sending at least a dozen Christmas or holiday cards out at this time of year. Instead of buying the Christmas-themed stamp, consider the Mental Health stamp. This domestic stamp is sold in a … [Read more...]

New Moon, the movie

"If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." Nuf said? … [Read more...]

The Winter Resolution

Although I gave up New Year's resolutions ages ago, I have made a winter resolution for this year. I've got a terrible track record with resolutions, and thus why the New Year's ones were deemed a fruitless exercise. But I am hoping I can make some progress on this. For my own sanity as well as for my family. My resolution is this: Find a way to enjoy winter. I just don't like winter. My husband finds this "cute" since I am the Canadian … [Read more...]

LeapFrog Tag Reading System (toy review)


In follow-up to my "Ho! ho! ho! ribbit! ribbit! ribbit!" post, I am happy to share this toy review* with you -- just in time for Christmas. It's for the LeapFrog Tag Reading System. What is it? The Canadian Toy Testing Council awarded this toy with the Children's Choice Award in 2009 and since then the company has continued to expand its library of books to accompany the system. It's a unique system and I think the best way of really … [Read more...]

Gift ideas for Mom/Grandma

Sometimes getting gifts for my parents can be challenging. For instance, if there is something out there that my mother wants, at this point in her life she has likely already gone out and gotten it. So, in the spirit of my last post about getting ready for Christmas early (let's hear it for avoiding stress, the zoo in the stores and the over-spending that can happen when you're feeling frantic!), here are a few ideas I thought I'd throw out … [Read more...]

Ho! ho! ho! ribbit! ribbit! ribbit!


*** at the bottom of this post you can vote for which children's charity will receive a LeapFrog donation of toys -- please voice your suggestion! *** It's time to get serious about Christmas! Like many things I used to scoff at, shopping early for Christmas is something I now do. I used to think that people who shopped early for Christmas were either too organized for their own good or just plain liked shopping far too much. Now I know … [Read more...]

The things I didn’t know when I was 15


When I was 15, I didn't have an inkling of what my future would be like. In fact, I don't ever really recall envisioning it at all. I never dreamed of a future marriage, a life as a mother, or a particular career.  And it was at this time that I met a girl named Jackie. I had signed up for a drama class. You might think that a girl with the biggest hair known to man might stand out, but not in this class. Jackie blended in nicely with all … [Read more...]