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MOAM Book Club

It’s official – summer has begun with a bang: a clap of thunder and a barrage of hailstones.

Woo hoo!

School’s out, the livin’ is easy, and it’s complaining time (see: outside your window all afternoon if you’re local ). Too hot. Not hot. Road works. Traffic. Smog. Air con. And the list goes on. To go away or stay put isn’t the question but rather, can you afford it? And do you need to? Or should you just wait for winter?

TV of course is a non-issue – nothing’s on. I don’t know about the rest of you but, soundtrack aside, Swingtown ain’t doin’ it for me. Movies are a crap-shoot: ie. most are crap. Unless you’re in the 13-19 boy demo. And I am not. Before y’all get up in arms, I know there are exceptions, but the traditional summer blockbuster usually sucks. Unless you’re in cottage country or at a drive-in, in which case it matters not what you see – only that you’re seeing something at all.

Which is why every mag, paper and website puts out its annual summer reading list. And MOAM is no exception (erm…except that it’s not annual…)

And so, without further ado, I bring you the Mother of All Mavens All-Season Book Club: reviews short ‘n sweet of some books that deserve it. (In no particular order)

THEN WE CAME TO THE END by Joshua Ferris. This book is hi-larious. Especially if you’ve ever worked in an office – and who hasn’t at one point or another? It’s not the most brilliantly plotted novel, but it’s one of the most brilliantly observed. You’ll laugh out loud. A lot. The it’s-true-it’s-funny-cuz-it’s-true laughs. Are there any better kind?

THE EVERY BOY by Dana Shapiro. Author is a film guy so no suprise that this baby’s coming soon to a theatre near you. Or at least that’s the plan. This one’s a black comedy about 15-yr old Henry. And his many issues. You know the type – thinks he’s a freaky geek, but is actually just smart ‘n funny. In a dark and ultimately tragic way. Ok, his life’s more than little f&cked up. But look where he comes from… Grab this one quick – it’s sure to be better than the movie, as good books almost always are. And it’s short too.

Speaking of short, ON CHESIL BEACH by Ian McEwan is a one-dayer. Seriously. A weekend, max. I am a huge Ian McEwan fan and will read anything he writes, so I have to include this. Is it his best? Erm…no. Does it come close? Maybe not. But it’s Ian McEwan. And you can read it in one sitting, so why not?

RUN by Ann Patchett. Did anyone read The Magician’s Assistant? And Bel Canto? If not – lucky you, you can read ’em now. They’re awesome. If you have, then this book may already be on your radar. While not quite as good as Bel Canto, I still rank it. Family drama, secrets kept and exposed….And no, it’s not at all cheesy. It’s a fast and furious read, appropos of its title. The fact that I happened to buy it in large print by mistake made it an even faster read but still…

A SHORT HISTORY OF TRACTORS IN UKRAINIAN by Marina Lewycka. Strange title, strange book. Oddly compelling. Elderly widower falls for big-boobed gold-digger from the old country. Daughters can’t deal. Q-u-i-r-k-y. Loved it.

ARLINGTON PARK by Rachel Cusk. Set in an affluent suburb of London, where the smart, capable, men go to work and the smart capable women…. Well, let’s just say some of us may have over identified with some of these characters. Not me, of course. At least not with all of them anyway… (And if you like this one, you may also like THE TORONTONIANS by Phyllis Brett Young. Published in 1960, set in the 50’s. Not quite as good, but resonant and modern, with a lot more smoking.)

THE BOOK THIEF – by Markus Zusak. This is one of my favourites of the faves. It’s WW II. Death is everywhere. It’s even the narrator. It is. The story of a young girl and her family – the ones that were lost, the ones that were found, and the ones that found her. Sad, smart, funny – it’s even got doodles. What more could you ask for?

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRIDGE by Mary Lawson. Again, if you haven’t read her first book, Crow Lake, you should. And if you did, you’ll like this one too. A little bleak, a little depressing, a little tragic. Totally compelling. Canadiana to be sure, but in the best possible way.

THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER – Tom Perrotta. Funny + timely+ clever, clever, clever? It’s gotta be Tom Perrotta. And it is – very Tom Perrotta. Whatever he’s writing about, he gets it. he just does. So who wouldn’t want to come along for the ride?

So there you have it. No plot outlines, no spoilers, no hard covers. Just some damn good reads. Winter, spring, summer, or fall.

Posted by Mother of all Mavens at 1:58 PM


Anonymous said…

love it! Waiting for the Absitence Teacher (hint!!!!) and have wanted to read the Tractors one for months! Now for sure i will do it.

I always said reveiws were your thang.

3:53 PM

Leigh said…

May I add to your list

Breath by Tim Winton

On my top ten book list of all time. From the Telegraph:

“Breath, [Winton’s] ninth novel and the long-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed Dirt Music, is both a love letter to the sea and a moving coming-of-age story set in the 1960s among Australia’s burgeoning surfing community.


June 23, 2008   No Comments



What’s in a name? Everything. BOOB!! You’re up now, right?!

Boob is a newish (to me) line of maternity and nursing wear from Sweden. Yep, Sweden. Those crazy Swedes have gone and named nursing clothes Boob.


In name and in nature.

I managed to get my paws on some of their duds and they’re awesome. Pants stay up. In front and in back. Shirts don’t touch where they shouldn’t. In front or in back. And everything stays in its proper place. Properly. Better still, the Boobs at Boob are anything but – they know how to drop a neckline. I have a dress from their fall collection that’s lightweight AND maternity AND, dare I say, kinda hot. And I don’t use the term lightly. Cuz there’s nothing hot about a gal about to give birth in a matter of weeks. Nothin’ but hormones and tempers.

And the Boob neckline.

One thing about being knocked up – you sport a mighty fine rack. You may not always recognize it at the time, but in retrospect? Nice ‘n high ‘n perky. Even the jumbotrons. And for those of us who are somewhat, erm, challenged in that department, when we’ve got ’em, we like to flaunt ’em. And Boob gets it. Lots of other tops made for the mama-to-be like to minimize. High necks. Cheesy collars. Wussy V’s. Go deep or go home, I say. Swing out sisters! Cuz once the babe arrives it’s all downhill. In every way, boob-wise.

Or is it?

I’m pretty hard-core when it came to feeding my kids, whipping one out as and when. Was I strutting round topless? Of course not. But my feeling is, babies have the right to be fed. And if you don’t want to watch? Well, don’t look. It’s possible to be subtle. And stylish too. I was never a believer in “nursing wear”. Bras aside, o’ course. But those weird shirts that you need a degree in aeronautics to open? Pas pour moi. And those godawful frilly nightgowns? Get real. I’d rather stretch out a perfectly good shirt and look somewhat decent in the hours between the feeds then strut around town like some Victorian. One friend of mine had an incredible nursing dress. It came from Victoria’s secret. And she lost it and we’ve never seen the likes of it since.

‘Til now. The Boob nursing tops – or singlets – have these strategic slots. Spots. Openings. Hard to explain. But easy to figure out – basically you lift up one side, drop down the other and you’re locked ‘n loaded. And, again, they’re totally hot. In fact, you could wear these babies even if you’re not nursing. You wouldn’t, to be sure, but you could. Which, to a nursing mama, is nice to know.

I know I’m sounding somewhat evangelical. I swear it’s not just hormones speaking. And if it is? So what?! I have a baby due in 3 weeks, it’s my perogative. Between the hips and the hormones, it’s hard to feel anything but frumpy. Or at least it was. ‘Til I became a Boob girl.

Check out their racks: www.boobdesign.com


Anonymous said…

My friend who is normally so wise- lemme tellya a little something about minimizing (from someone who often seeks to minimize): High necks maximize not minimize! (Strange but true….low necks actually minimize.) Too bad I missed my chance to shop at boob. I will pass it on though.


May 24, 2008   No Comments


Boots Made for (Winter) Walking

April showers bring May flowers.

So what do March snowstorms bring?

Not a lotta good, that’s what. Icy roads. Snowdrifts taller than most children (and seated seniors). Unpassable sidewalks. An extension of the winter blahs. A renewed interest in weather patterns, records and our role in all of it.

And an excuse to go out and buy new boots. La Canadienne boots.

You haven’t heard of ’em yet? Or you have, but didn’t bite? Whichever, whatever, whoever you are – go go go. Now is the time to bite the bullet, spend the big bucks and spend the rest of this never ending winter in style: toes toasty, feet dry and – believe it or not -in style.

Let’s face it, winter is an ugly time. Sure the snow looks pretty falling down, and when it’s all white and clean it’s quite peaceful. But really, how long does that last? Virgin snow lawns soon give way to grey slush, black ice and worse. The whole season can take its toll on a girl. Especially a footwear girl and, really – are there any other kinds?

I tried Uggs. Of course they’re comfy – they’d better be if they’re that ugly. The suede ones don’t keep your feet dry and the leather ones I had were so halucious they lasted but a season. Yeah, I was that person who went for the leather. Probably the only one. There’s a reason you don’t see more of ’em. H-I-D-E-O-U-S. I tried putting substance before style. It wasn’t easy, And it didn’t last.

So I ruined a pair of hot boots. Froze my tootsies off and wrecked ’em. And for what? So I tried again. This time, went for Sorels. Hard-core Canadian boots. For hard-core Canadian winters. And yeah, I stayed warm (ish) and dry. But again, not the most attractive. Or feminine. Even the long ones that we pretend are kinda like go-go boots aren’t. Not even close.

And then, it happened. A friend of mine discovered winter lady-boots. Lady boots…winter… Contradiction in terms, right? Wrong! La Canadienne boots are warm, cozy, and, dare I say it – kinda hot. In all the right ways. I admit I was skeptical at first, especially with the upwards of $200 price tag. But after another winter of alternating between salt-stained whore or hefty hefty slush slag, a couple hun seemed a small price to pay to be a cozy snow bunny.

My high-to-the-sky lady boots rock. And they work. I’m not sure how – some kind of secret recipe of ultrasuede, rubber and god-knows-what. Who cares? They look fantastic! And trust me kids, they really, really work the winter. And despite their all-kinds-of-hotness, they’re pretty basic. So even if everyone’s wearing the same boots – you can’t really tell. Which beats the hell out of showing up for dinner in your foxy furries – along with half the other girls.

Now that that we’re entering our fifth month of winter, maybe it’s time for a quick shoe shuffle. Snowbanks to climb? Easy. Salt stains and splash back? Laugh it off – they fit over calves of all shapes and sizes. Heels? They’ve got ’em. And need I mention they’re Canadian?

Are you still here? They’re on sale all over town. If you can still find what’s left of them. It’s mid-March after all. What are you waiting for?


John Boy said…

No mas de-boots for me. Why are there no decent boots for dudes on the market? I’m talking winter boots, not fashion boots – I have a million pairs of those (well a million bucks worth at least). I work in a corporate environment and am a self diagnosed fashionista and I wreck a great pair of shoes every winter because I cannot find decent winter boots. I refuse to wear “toe rubbers” as my father still calls them so what’s a boy to do?

2:16 PM

Anonymous said…

I resent the go-go boot comment. They ARE groovy and sexy.

Also, La Canadienes are only guaranteed waterproof for 6 months – did you know that? Although, I am finishing my third season and have yet to feel the water. That being said, I have worn my sexy Sorels a lot! Too much!


March 13, 2008   No Comments


Hit This Mob

Once there were two friends. Friends with a vision. Some might call them, well, Family. And the vision? A business venture. Like so many great and powerful Families before them, they figured they’d make it worthwhile to pay a small price for protection…. from mass production, mundane home furnishing and, as they’ll tell you, lead paint.

Shopoholics, look out – Mob is back. Modern Objects of Beauty, that is.

What started as a concept back in 2005 has now evolved. Featuring one of a kind objets des artes, painstakingly curated by the women of mob, this is no ordinary retail experience – it’s anything but. Candies, cocktails and humour abound at this travelling salon. And boy, does this mob know how to travel.

Showroom, private home, cafe, design show… these ladies, ahem, get around. And through it all, there’s me, tagging along, desperate to be a made (wo)man, a part of it all. Because, quite frankly, I can’t resist the lure of mob.

The Showroom? Red and pink handblown glass bowl. The Annex house? Bone key ring. The Cafe? Shell necklace. The Design show? Porcelain choker.

And that’s me using retraint!

‘Cuz what I want, what I really, really want is everything. All of it. The lot. The tubular table. The Mitosis cube. At least two of the clocks. Oh, and the folding lamp.

And don’t even get me started on the jewellery! Oh, the jewellery. Animal, mineral, vegetable. Semi-precious, precious, whatever. Hook me up! I modelled a piece for them once (and by modelling I mean I kind of picked it up and flounced around, hoping it – and I – would get noticed). And we did. When I accidentally-on-purpose modelled it all the way home. My man noticed it immediately (that’s right ladies). It was almost like it followed me home. So it was only right to keep it.

And I’m not the only one. Once you go mob, you never go back. Mob hits are the kind of things you see, you stalk, you can’t resist. Crystal drop necklaces? Bone and horn bracelets? Toy images? Talk about offers you can’t refuse…I don’t even know where to begin.

Actually I do. www.mobcollection.com

It’s a start. A hint. A sneak peak. And maybe, just maybe, if you tell them The Mother sent you, you can get in on their next travellin’ show, coming soon, very soon (TOMORROW!!!) to a local hotspot near you . The hits of the season, for every reason. Or not. But they’re bringing out the good stuff, and nothing too pricey either! If you’re local. If you’re not, check out their website, don’t just read it and weep.

My cards are cleared and I’m rarin’ to go. Oh, and if anybody asks,it’s all gifts. For other people. I swear.

It’s not personal. It’s just business.


Anonymous said…

what a fine friend you are

5:01 PM

Anonymous said…

w/ an israeli and brazilian accent i’ll have to agree. you are a classy lady!


November 13, 2007   No Comments


A Word From Your Sponsor

When I first started blogging, I never dreamed it would bring me fame and fortune…

Which is a good thing because it hasn’t.

A bit of fame, sure – in and amongst my people and their people and even some of their people. But fortune? Erm, not so much.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the blogosphere…..people started sending me stuff. Free stuff. Despite not making a dime on these musings of mine, I have somehow become one of those bloggers that people think people wanna know about. I love that!!! And now the marketing genies, keen to cash in on all things bloggy – ie. trusted word of mouth – have sent me freebies. Samples. Swag. Call it what you want, it’s free free free!!!


Well, it was cool. Except now that they’ve paid the bill, I’m expected to, ahem, put out. And I can’t. I’m just not that kind of girl. (Anymore.) Look, I know nothing’s really free. And that when something seems too good to be true it’s cuz it is. Or isn’t (is too good? isn’t true? Y’know what I mean). Anyhoo, I’ve been tracked down. The stuff’s been sent. And now it’s payback time.

Faced with mounting pressure to lie back and spread ’em – the word on these products, that is – I find I’m more inclined to blow is all off and hide. Except now I feel like a real tease. They took their time to treat me to their product, and yeah, I encouraged them to, so the least I could do is tell you about it, right?

Wrong. You see, trusted readers, at the end of the day, I’ll only tell you about things I love. Or loathe. Anything in between, well, what’s the point, right?

Remember Pom Tea? I adored it. At the time I couldn’t sing its praises loud enough… Now I can’t stomach the stuff.
Joe Fresh? Cheap and cheerful. And cheap – the zippers are constantly undoing and they wash like crap.
Tassimo? Retired my machine the other day – too pricey and I felt like an environmental terrorist in my own home.

No one paid for this press – good or bad.

Banu? Paid full price for every meal. Every hookah. And I’ll keep going back for more.
Paige Denim? A bloody fortune, but I love love love ’em. And I’ll keep going back for more.
Jude Law? Didn’t give me the time of day, despite bringing a hot leggy blond as my winger. And, yeah, I’ll keep going back for more. (Sheesh, not even a passing glance….)

Again, think any of that was free? I WISH.

Granted, once in a while something works for me – I got these awesome Crayola crafty paints and markers and crayons that rocked down my house. Especially the crayons – triangular, easy to hold (what? my kid has fine motor issues) and even easier to clean.

And see? I told you about them. Because I wanted to. On my own terms. I don’t think I need to write about something simply because someone went to town and couriered it to my house.

Am I protesting too much? Probably. I’d kill to turn a profit here in the blogosphere. Maybe I should whore myself out a little more. Maybe I should write about any – and every – sample that someone sends me. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m not being sent the right kinda things. Hear that PR people? Marketers, start your engines….and start sending me stuff I can get excited about!!

Jude Law’s agent – you getting all this?

Please and thanks….


Anonymous said…

They don’t realize that they need to send you facial products. Celex C, vitamin B and E, retinal take your pick – what almost 40 (sorry mother – gave it away) babe doesn’t want that sent to them. And while your’re at it – get 2 sent!

5:29 PM

Anonymous said…


7:08 PM

Anonymous said…

Way to not sell out MOAM. Maybe Dancap will send you a season subscription so you can once again SING the praises of the musical. Didya see Drowsy Chaperone? There is hope!

10:41 PM

Mother of all Mavens said…

I hear you people….And i’ll take it, any of it. Particularly face creams and musicals. As for Drowsy – duh! Been there, done that. twice. Not really worth a double take but guess what? The tickets were free! Send in the swag….


October 16, 2007   No Comments


Happily Ever After

Location, location, location. The three magic words when it comes to Real Estate. Or are they? I know a couple of others: Just. Listed.

Yep, real estate fever hit me hard. So hard, in fact, I’ve been able to do nothing but speculate – on my house, my neighbours’ houses, your house. The online MLS listings are like porn for me. I need more, more, more. More info, more knowledge. Which sold when. And of course, for how much.

You see, we’ve just bought and sold houses. Out with the old, in with the new. And what a long, strange, trip it’s been.

As anyone who lives locally will tell you, these days it’s better to give than to receive. In other words, don’t even think of putting your place on the market until you’ve made damn sure you know where you’re going.

You’ve heard the stories – lost 6 bidding wars. Had to rent month to month. Got pressured into accpeting an offer they couldn’t refuse and now rent back their own house as they look for something comparable.

Tell someone from the – ahem – previous generation that you’re buying without selling and they’ll look at you like you’re nuts. Rest assured, you’re probably quite sane, but won’t be for long.

You see, we bought a new house after 6 months of looking. Not too bad, all things considered. We only lost out one bidding war – which was in itself a true blessing in disguise – we never could’ve afforded the bills, let alone a reno. Everything we saw didn’t really hold a candle to what we had. Until, of course that magical day when I went to see a home on a street I vowed I’d never live on, and fell in love. And after a bidding war of our own, we found our not-quite-dream-but-good-enough-for-us home.

All that was left, was the sale.

Selling our house? Ha! Pas de problem. Everyone knows the demand far outstrips the supply in our ‘hood. Who hasn’t heard about the crazy bidding wars? The knocks on the door, offers in hand? The private sales? And, hell, if I liked my house enough to buy it, why wouldn’t someone else? Cocky? Maybe. But as everyone knows, “it’s the market”.

So we primped. And cleaned. And tossed out. And cleaned. And vacuumed. And cleaned. And moved out. The whole gang. Kids, cat, dog. We went out, the sign went up and all was well with the world. We were excited. We priced low and were gonna sell high. We started fantasizing: $10K over means a new deck. $20K over, a new bathroom. $100K over, a whole new floor. And why wouldn’t we count our chickens? The dumpy house down the road went for $80K over and that was just land value! OK so we have an irregular lot. But it’s beautifully landscaped. And, sure, the basement is somewhat, erm, moist. But it’s bright. Our kitchen wasn’t renovated, not exactly. But the gleaming stainless steal applainces would surely make up for that. We even did a pre-inspection. But let’s not go there. After all, our house is a little older. Charming. So what would you expect?

We opened for business. And guess what? Someone else did too. The perfect, extra long, no dampness issue, fully inspected and well up to scratch house down the street. Talk about competition. And really, really, bad timing.

On offer night we sat with bated breath. And ordered in. And couldn’t eat. ‘Cuz we got nary an offer. Not a-one, nay, nay, nay. We were done for. Finished. Ruined. Our parents were right! Who the hell buys first, sells later? We could’ve moved in with them. Or friends. Or taken a sabbatical from, uh, life. But noooooo, we were the losers who’d have to re-sell our new house and never leave our old one. Ever.

Now of course things worked out. And, as we soon learned, this kind of thing was happening to lots of people. Friends of friends and actual friends. Mind you, it didn’t happen to the house down the road – it got multiple offers and went for$130K over asking. Looks like they’ll be getting a lot more than a new floor in their new place.

And us? Yeah, we sold. One day later. To a lovely couple who’d endured 2 years of seeking and 9 lost offers. Everyone was happy. Ish. They got their house, we got our price. In fact, we got just voer. Sure we priced it a little on the low side and the big overage is hardly a new deck (or bathroom). But wait ’til you see our new window boxes!

And what’s done is done. And now we can look forward to boxing and cleaning and packing and cleaning and moving and cleaning some more. And then settling in to mess it all up and make it our own.

And next time around? Guess it’ll all depend on the market. But I’ll be ready for it. ‘Cuz I’m still speculating. That house down the road form our new place? You’ll never guess what they’re asking….


Not Afraid to Use It said…

I have to stop watching House Hunters on TV because then we get the real estate itch, and it is dangerous!!! Great pos


June 27, 2007   No Comments


Montreal Mon Amour

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they look at their wonderful children, thank god (or whoever) for blessing them with such wonderful treasures, and wonder how to get the hell outta Dodge.

At least that’s what happens in our house. Regularly. Sure, my man and I love our babes to bits. But we also love each other, which is why we skipped town, hit the 401 and headed to Montreal.

Montreal, je t’aime. Stunning, accessible, and a helluva lot cheaper than Toronto, what’s not to love? Everyone’s got their fave places and spaces. And here are mine:

HOTEL: Montreal is home to Canada’s largest selection of boutique hotels. Or so it seems. We stayed at Hotel Gault, an award-winning, newish hotel in the self-described “Old Montreal’s bustling west end” neck of the woods. First off, it wasn’t bustling. But that’s OK. Because it was only on the cusp of Vieux Montreal, you felt closer to the city itself And we liked that. Then again, the whole town feels a lot more compact than Toronto. And we liked that too. Anyhoo, Hotel Gault is gorgeous. Loft-like. Exposed stone walls. Concrete floors (heated in the bathroom). Tres moderne. Tres cool. And with a special $99-for-the-second-night deal, tres resonable. Especially when you consider they also include breakfast. Not a loser continental one either. Full menu, full buffet, or full combo. Full being the operative word. Dee-lish. They threw in a dinner too, but who wants to hang in their hotel the whole time?

Actually, don’t answer that.

FOOD: Sit back, ‘cuz this could take a while….The weekend may have been a 5 pounder. But I’ll never tell. What I will tell you, tho’, is that we ate like piggies. Or kings. Whatever.

Our friend insisted we try his home-away-from-home bistro, Lemeac. We did. Superb. And it has a cheapy menu for the hotshots who come in after 10PM. Like my Man and me. Check us out: we get to Montreal and, suddenly, we’re all French and chic and late-night diners. But back to the food. We went prix fixe. There were a couple of translation issues, but it didn’t matter because the waitress was lovely and it was just good grub. Especially the enormouus pain perdu dessert. Basically a massive hunk of carmelized french toast. Was better than it sounds. Much much better. Lemeac also had an extensive, if somewhat intimidating, wine list. Or so it seemed to non-vintner types.

There’s a hot vegetarian resto on St Denis that also does a brusque take-out and casual lunch business. The mini version is called Chuch. Can’t remember the name of the papa place. Anyhoo, it’s cute to look at and has damn fine Thai foood – so good in fact, you wouldn’t even know it was veggie! (No offense.) Actually, you might know. But if you get the deep fried seaweed and spinach you won’t care.

Marathon Mike Schwartz. OK, that’s not really a restaurant. But all good all the same. We went to Marathon Souvlaki to relive a childhood dream. Not mine. And was it worth the drive to Laval? Absolutely. Or so my Man says. I’m not a major souvlaki person, but I know a good tzaziki when I find one. And this was good. Very very good. (maybe not as good as Arahova‘s, but this was somebody else’s memory lane, OK?) Mike’s Submarines – ditto. Not my thing, but apparently tasty enough to make someone very very happy.

Schwartz’s. Oooooh Schwartz’s. Does deli get any better than this? I don’t think so. Spectacular. Even cold and in the car. I’m telling you now, Montreal friends, I’ll be putting in take out orders when next you go home.

But people, I’ve saved the best, le meilleur, for last. Le Club Chasse et Peche. Apparently the hottest spot in town. According to our concierge, it’s worth moving to Montreal for. Well, we aren’t moving (yet) but if we did…. Unreal. Spectacular food, simple yet terrific menu, and sexy as hell. It’s the kind of place when someone says you have to go, you have to listen. So if you are planning a trip to Montreal, remember, You Have To Go. We had fois gras and beet salad and Tasmanian Char and Sweetbreads. No, not all together, morons. All fab. Even the veggies on the side were incredible. For dessert they had some kind of postmodern rice crispy square but, sadly, we never got to try it. We went for something else – some apple, caramel, pastry concoction. Who knows, it might’ve been awesome – but I was too full at this point to judge.

SHOPS: Aaaah shops… For many folks, Montreal equals shopping. For us, these are the handful that stood out:

Zone – pour la maison. Awesome homewares and gifty stuff. They have a few of these scattered round town (plus one in Ottawa). In fact, you could spit and hit a great home furnishing place. We’ve decided when (if) we move house, we’ll be taking a truck to Montreal and loading it up. They’ve got a great thing going on in the design department and, best of all, it’s kind of on the cheap side!

Factorie – for ladies and gents. Divide and conquer. And if you can get the oh-so-chic and helpful owner to help you, do. He knows gorgeous.

Lola et Emily – great ladies wear. Like a combo of my two beloved NYC stores, Anthropologie and Olive & Bette’s. If I need to say more, then just skip it. It’s pas pour vous.

Mortimer Snodgrass – kitschy and fun. Gifts for suckers of all ages.

And, and, and….The list could go on and on and on. But we only had two days and we were driving, so this is it. For now.

Sure, the days of long haul, far flung, exotic vacays may be on hold, but we’ll always have Montreal…


mortimer snodgrass said…

as the owner of Mortimer Snodgrass, I thank you! I was just playing Google the Store and found your post. Thanks again!


December 18, 2006   No Comments


The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid…

Unless you’re hitting the stores this weekend, ‘cuz ’tis the season to go shopping…


Yeah yeah yeah, I’ve heard it all – peace on earth, spirit of giving, time for family, blah blah blah. Spiritual holiday my ass – it’s all about the shops.

And hey – what’s wrong with that?

I actually don’t do Christmas. Nope, it’s That Other Holiday for me. Eight days of candles, soirees, latkes and, of course, presents. Sure eight days is better than one, but I have Christmas envy all the same. Love the lights/tree/tinsel combo. I can skip a wreath, but a stocking full of treats? Sign me up!

But alas, ’tis not to be. It’s Chanukah or bust chez nous, where the spirit of gifting is out in full force. Nephews, neices, kids and Others: those are the folks on my shopping list. Chanukah’s all about kids and the Others involved with them: teachers, nannies, etc. No husband-wife swapping… Oops! I mean husband-wife GIFT swapping. Not for a lack of trying on my part, but after several years of fighting it, I’ve succumbed, and now Chanukah is just about the kids. OK. Having kids helped.

The big question is, of course, what to buy. And that’s why god created gift cards. I mean really, is there anything better than a gift card? Sure I like to unwrap the big boxes as much as the next gal…Hell, I don’t even mind wrapping them. My mother had a wrapping cupboard – not a Candy Spelling full on room, but a cupboard. And it was awesome. Name your colour, your style, your ribbon – she had it all. I tried to recreate my own giftwrapping cupboard, but it’s turned into a regift space, the only wrapping is old gift bags and stolen tissue paper, ready to be reused.

But back to the gift cards. They’re not for everyone. A young child is still innocent enough to appreciate a toy. And toys for the little ones are still cheap enough to buy. Besides, who doesn’t love roaming the aisles of the toy stores? Sure it’s a pain in the ass in theory, but in practise? Suddenly, everybody’s young and happy and keen and excited. Cutting edge, retro classic, electronic wish listers – toys are fun. And of course they are – they’re toys!!! So for little folks, buying and wrapping is the way to go.

And they they turn 10. And suddenly, it’s all about the cash. No 10+ year old is going to instruct a hapless auntie on where to go and what to buy. They will, however, tell their parents. Or tell you which store they like. Saving up for a bearded gecko? Gift card. An ipod massage chair? Gift card. Jeans too expensive for anyone under 30? Gift card. Yep, for the 10 and over set it’s gift card all the way. And yes, I know cash is king, but it often ends up being spent the wrong way. So stick with the gift cards.

And Others? Sure you could go all out and buy the deluxe bath bombs or coffee mug ‘n milk frother sets. Or not. At my son’s school, the parents are banding together to give the gift of choice – a gift card to a mall. Each parent pays less than they would for an impersonal dud gift, and the teachers get to buy what they want, what they really, really want. Everybody wins!

Gift cards…they’re not just for Christmas! New baby? Gift card is the most considerate way to go. Every new mom I know spends the first few months of their baby’s life returning. Come on, people, you know it’s true. Me, I’ve been practically living on giftcards and credit notes for the past 3 years. Birthdays? Showers? Weddings? Ditto, ditto, ditto.

Don’t get all snippy now, I know how impersonal a gift card can be. But let’s be honest here -everyone thinks they have great taste. And, sadly, most people don’t. So unless the recipient is a little kid, or someone you know very very very well, or someone you want to either re-gift or cheap out on, opt for the gift that never disappoints and deck the halls. With loads of giftcards.

Fa la la la laaaaa, la la ka-ching!


Anonymous said…

Gift cards are not the fix all. I recieved one for my childs birthday. He went to the store, picked out a gift and went to pay. The card registered 0. I quickly paid for the item, I did not want to dissapoint the tyke and then went to the manager to investigate the matter further. The manager said it was empty. Maybe is was faulty suprise!Or de-magnitized by somthing etc etc etc. Do I go back to the parent who gave it??? Talk about akward. I let it go. 25 bucks will not break the bank but I am not convienced that all the gift cards in my purse are so great. I forget I have them half the time until its too late.


Dont be fooled when it comes to our poverty line paid nursery/pre school teachers “Cash is king”. The card is just a pain in the you know what. Maybe they have to pay a power bill or phone bill or credit card bill from over spending at the holiday season. The most appreciated gift is cash in an envelope. We tip waiters in foo foo restaurants more than we give to our teachers at the holiday!!! Be generous they are doing a little more than serving us a foo foo meal! They are taking care of our kids. What can be more important than that?

12:28 PM

Anonymous said…

There is a draw back to the gift card – they know how much you spent! And that can be brutal if you are a great shopper like me and get really awesome stuff cheap. A gift card looks lame unless it gets up there. It’s like the Bar Mitzvah $10 Sam’s gift certificate. It felt cheap. Believe me, a gift card upward of a C-note is divine. $50 – depending on the place (read Indigo). But $25 or less, you feel like – “what, are you too busy to consider me?” I guess it does owrk for the teens, although, as a teen I loved cash and yes, I spent it the wrong way and that’s why teens are teens. Nice to have you back.

8:16 PM

Mother of all Mavens said…

For those whose giftcards have disappeared…sounds a bit suspicious to me. I’ve one instant of that because the person gave me the wrong card (we discussed). As for the cash. yes, we spent it on the wrong things. That was then. This is now. When the parents BEG you not to give the kids cash, what can you do? As for the teathers…some deserve their weight in gold…others – lead. If that. And some think cash is cheesy – not I, of course, but some. Gift card is the answer. Besides, they can always regift it.


December 14, 2006   No Comments


Go Cheap or Go Home

Is cheap the new black?

Sexy, hip, flattering.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But is cheap the new black?

Erm, not at Zara. Yeah, it’s chic ‘n cheap but it’s also crap. And not in the disposable way Le Crapeau…I mean Le Chateau… is crap. We’re talking ripped-while-still-on-the-hanger crap, as opposed to wear, tear, and toss crap. Oddly, their kids’ line is not crap. Mind you, it ain’t cheap. But it’s stunning – especially for boys.

Ditto H &M. Awesome duds for the kids, but for ladies? Duds of a different kind. For this gal at least. Believe me, I’ve tried. But ’twas not to be. The fit, the fabric, or just the itch factor – there was always something a bit off.

Winners? Dirty. Old Navy? XXXXXL. Fairweather? Puh-lease. And the list goes on.

So I stuck with fancy. The supersoft shirts, yummy sweaters, perfect pants. All mine. For a price. A very hefty price. And y’know what I found? That a lot of the high end stuff was crap too! No sooner had I washed and worn than I’d find a little teeny tiny hole. Or a snag. Or an unravelled cuff or jagged hem. And don’t get me started on cotton tees that start to ball. It’s the worst.

But what’s a fashion victim to do? Shelling out the big bucks didn’t work. And the cheap and cheerful left me feeling anything but…

Until now.

There’s a new kid in town. Let’s call him Joe. For real. ‘Cuz the place is called Joe Fresh and basically, it’s clothes shopping at Loblaws.


Before you delete and think I must’ve completely lost my mind, read on. I actually debated sharing this dirty little secret. In fact, some friends kindly suggested I keep my mouth shut (at least until after they’d checked it out themselves). But alas loyal readers, you’ve earned it. You’ve shared my blog, you’ve liked my blog – you’ve actually read my blog! So here’s a little tidbit for you.

Joe Fresh. As in Joe-who-used-to-own-Club-Monaco. As in the guy who got lured away by the kind folks at Loblaws. As in who the hell cares? You won’t. Cred be damned! If you can get over the fact that it’s, well, grocery shopping for fashion, you’ll be glad that you did.

Housed in suburban Superstores and in the Old Caban space beside, yup, Loblaws, you will meet Joe Fresh. Nice, plain, simple. And did I mention, cheap? Tees for a tenner. Jeans under $30. And yoga pants and tops that fit and feel EXACTLY like your Lulus – but without the hefty price tag (pants are $29)(that’s right, no type-o: $29)

AND not only are the clothes flattering – the sizes are somewhat generous too. So you can try on stretchy jeans and check out your butt – or thighs, or hips or calves – and marvel at the fact that you’re wearing a size smaller than you thought. Who doesn’t love that? Especially compared to all the fancy pants around that were definitely not designed for women of childbearing age. Paige Jeans excepted.

I got a bit carried away this morning: jeans, shirt, vest, sweater, and more. What with these prices…And the turnover is crazy fast as the stuff flies off the shelves…’Cuz at these prices… Finally, I do hear you, skeptics. It may all turn out to be more disposable fashion crap. Only time will tell. But again, at these prices…


Anonymous said…

Went today and it’s like Club Mon of old, although not as styley. Very good basics, although for me the pant cuts were not nice. Very cheap store-like, although, not the yoga pants which are fab and will be worn on the plane by a non-outside yoga pant wearing person. But I take great offence to your dissing of Winners and Fairweathers. You’d be surprised what basics you can find there that don’t feel disgusting. And well, Winners is for hunters and you ain’t ever been one of those. I have some wicked stuff from there and now I add Joe to my list of easy basics. Thanks for the tip.

11:20 AM

Anonymous said…

This is Dave’s friend Rob… my Wife has been bugging me about this Lulu crap for months now. I sent her right over to the super centre and now she has her Lulu knock off’s and is loving life. Thanks for the tip. You rock. By the way, I personally know one of the managers of Winners and the biggest and best hidden treasures are at the Winners in Barrie right off of the 400. There is a tip for you!


October 12, 2006   No Comments


Women be Shoppin’, Women be Shoppin’, Women be Shoppin’

Live from New York, it’s Mother of all Mavens!
Except I’m not really live from New York at all. I’m live, post-New York and I gotta say, I heart New York. F&ck the spas….Looking to rejuvenate? Then pack your bags – and check ’em, why not?! – and head to the Big Apple. That’s what I did – sans babes or my man. No offence boys, but it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. The sights, the sounds, the smells….THE SHOPPING.
Bear in mind I haven’t been alone in 3 years. And I haven’t been on a successful shopping spree in longer. ‘member? Pregnant, post-pregnant, almost-there. Pregnant, post-pregnant, etc. Not a great look, no matter how you slice it. Back in the almost-there phase, alone, with a pal, in NYC, how could I resist?
Answer: I couldn’t.
So after lounging (alone!) and coffee (alone! in bed!) I hit the streets, Visas blazin’.
Ladies, and those who love ’em, take note: Olive and Bette’s. That’s all you need to know. I was sent there by a fashionista friend and boy-yoy-yoing was she on the beam with this one. Unreal. All pink and girly on the outside, hip and not too-too-trendy on the inside. Talk about girls gone wild. This place was the bomb.
I walked in wearing one outfit, walked out in another. And then shopped at a different Olive & Bette’s in yet another O & B combo. Talk about wearing the concert-T to the concert!! But I did, proudly. It was one of those places where you try to hold off but just can’t. I think that could be the number one rule when it comes to shopping (and dating, kind of): if you love it, buy it. Sounds obvo, I know. But bird in hand, folks, bird in hand.
And guess what? There are four of these lovely boutiques across the city – something for everyone, everywhere! I only hit two: West Village and Soho. And here’s the scoop (aside from being better than Scoop, another clothing emporium par excellence): Bleeker was better.
I met a lovely lady named Amy who quickly became my new best friend. She had me trying – and buying – everything. And she got me, really got me! Knew her butt-skimmin’ skirts from her cling-ons. The look-like-you’ve-had-your-boobs-done tops from the where’d-they-go’s. We played dress-up girlfriends for about an hour before I was utterly spent – literally.
Or not. Because I couldn’t resist checking out the Soho shop (concert-T to the concert, remember?). Now these chicitas saw me comin’ a mile away. How could they not when I was dressed to the nines in my new duds from their sister shop? They circled my pal and I, hurling so many compliments it made us want to, well, hurl. Sure, they introduced my ass to a lovely new pair of jeans (Paige, since you asked) but after entering the changeroom with piles of stuff and emerging with only the jeans and a cardy, all these new best friends dropped us. But fast. We could barely find someone to take our money. That ain’t right!
Soho staff aside, it’s a mighty fine find. So remember, when next you find yourself in New York: ditch your men, hit the streets, and run, don’t walk to Olive & Bette’s.
And then cut your Visa cards into millions of itty bitty pieces because this place’ll break the bank. But at least you’ll look good. Damn good.


Anonymous said…

okay that was the shopping– but the FOOD– hello? Where’s the food? No trip to NYC is complete without a sampling from the delights to be found (insert turista exclamation) “only in New York!” And I know you MOAM– you sampled some tasty vittles. Fess up!

5:25 PM

Anonymous said…

Your “fashionista friend” thanks you for the shout out and assumes you found your way back to Sullivan St. — O&B bags unharmed.

I miss you already!

12:06 PM

Anonymous said…

Concert t to the concert! You are a maven!

4:33 PM

Anonymous said…

you feel very very alive and in somewhat of control ….or not


June 13, 2006   No Comments