Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mend a Broken Heart

You think that I am probably thinking about getting over a break-up don’t you?  No, I am talking about your actual heart.  February is American Heart Month.  Most of us think of heart disease as something that affects adults as they grow older, and that there is plenty out there on how to prevent heart disease, like eating healthy  foods and exercise. But children have heart problems, with the most common being a congenital heart defect – something they are born with.

February 7  thru February 14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.   Each year almost 40,000 babies are born with a heart defect.  CHD affects approximately 1.8 millions families in the U.S. and this subject is very special to my heart since each week I take care of a child with a heart defect.

The CDC webpage has some great information, as does Congenital Heart Information Network and this video.   It uses a lot of fancy words but in simple English these children’s hearts did not develop correctly:

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Some People Want to Fill the World with Creepy Love Songs


I love love songs. From medieval ballads like Greensleeves to power ballads like Sweet Child of Mine there is nothing more romantic than a truly heartfelt musical tribute. The lyrics to these tunes are often descriptions of what we want our own affairs of the heart to resemble. Can’t Smile Without You lets my lover know they are the reason for the goofy grin on my face. I Just Called To Say I Love You brings to mind the wonder that love can bring to the everyday in simple ways. I’ll Be There For You reminds us that love means not having to carry every burden yourself. Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mann captures how we see our beloved.

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The need to cheer up

So I am feeling rather low today. It’s icy cold outside (9 degrees Fahrenheit at night, which means most of my garden plants will probably die). And I was told today that two people I work with are seriously ill: One may need heart surgery, and the other is in hospital suffering from depression.

Now I need to cheer myself up somehow. Continue reading

When winter’s grey and yucky, eat food.

CiaoWinterlicious_side2eviteFebruary in Toronto means several things.  It used to mean grey skies, grey slush, grey clothing, and grey faces.  That hasn’t changed, except for the grey slush – snow has not made much of an appearance this year.

But aside from that, February in Toronto also means a potential culinary pick-me-up: Winterlicious.  Now in it’s tenth year, the city-wide festival means prix fixe meals at restaurants across the city.

Prices for 3-course meals range from $15-25 for lunches, and $25-45 for dinners.  Some of the restaurants I wouldn’t be caught dead entering, some I’d feel like a yokel if I entered, and some are comfort places.  I’ve had some very, very mediocre experiences at Winterlicious (and Summerlicious, and Veggielicious), because some restaurants use the event to offload their menus’ crappiest items on unsuspecting customers who just want a good deal.

But if you pick your venue well and do your research, then it’s a great way to get a taste of cuisines or restaurants you wouldn’t normally go to.  This year I went with a tried-and-true comfort, where the food was unoriginal but good, and where I could soak in the informal atmosphere of a restaurant I hadn’t attended in a long time.

It’s strange, the psychology of choosing a meal with friends.  Do you go spend the money, good value, on a known quantity, and risk boredom?  Or do you risk your wallet (and tax, and tip), and go somewhere new?

Does your city have something like Winterlicious?  Are you adventurous when dining out?

– Jean AAR

I’m Having a Tea Party

IMG_0200Did you ever have tea parties as a child? I did. One of my favorite gifts as a young girl was a lovely little china tea set covered with pink roses. Several times a week I would pull out my china set and have a tea party either with my friends, my mother, or my dolls. I didn’t actually like tea at that age. More often than not my tea pot either contained Kool-Aid or was empty.

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Red Tails (The Tuskegee Airmen)


February is Black History Month. In honor of that I thought we could take a moment to discuss the famous group of African American Airmen who are being immortalized on film at a theater near you: The Tuskegee Airmen. Theirs is a bittersweet history. Bitter in that the tale contains horrifiying accounts of the bigotry that infested national policies during this time of American history. Sweet because it is a testament of courage, strength and triumph.

During WWI, African American men had applied for positions as aerial observers and been rejected strictly on the basis of race. After the end of the war, two decades of intense advocacy began, spearheaded by African American men who wished to train to become pilots. Prestigious men such as Walter White, A. Philip Randolph and Judge William H. Hastie involved themselves in the cause. In 1939 their efforts proved successful and Congress passed Appropriations Bill Public Law 18. The bill contained a clause allocating some funds for the training of African American Pilots. Due to the segregation rules which regulated army life, the money was used to pay civilian flight schools willing to accept these students. The army then did a mighty dance in order to accommodate these new pilots within its own bigoted and segregated ranks.

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I Want To Be In A Flash Mob Dance


I am slow to discover things, so many of you may have already seen Kelly Clarkson’s video for “Stronger”.  Did you know that she  challenged her fans to submit videos of a predetermined dance routine to be used in her clip for “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”?  Then she picked numerous selections and incorporated them into her video for the song.  It looks like a blast.

After finding the song, I had to look up some of the submissions.  It is so fun watching them.   Here is one that is really professionally done.  The individuals are on a cruise ship and at each port dance to her song.  I don’t think this one is in the video: Continue reading

Every Sunday, it’s “Modern Love”


Every Sunday morning, cup of coffee in hand, I rifle through the three papers we have delivered each weekend morn, and find the Modern Love column in the New York Times. I’ve read it regularly for the past twenty years. If you’ve never read it, the Modern Love columns are, as defined by their editors, “deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood…any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love”.” The columns are well-written, succinct snippets of the emotional lives of others. Some are funny, some are enlightening, many will break your heart. Continue reading