Monday 31 March 2014

Aging for Men Vs Women: the scary truth

Pierce Brosnan. 'Nuff said.
My friend Bob writes a column called ‘Guyside’ on a blog that is primarily about women in the menopause years. He provides a male perspective on aging, and I really enjoy his posts. He wrote one last week that threw me off, though, and it took me a while to understand why.

Bob talked about male body image in relation to aging. I found myself sneering as I read his heartfelt words. I figured my far-from-menopausal cycle was affecting the portion of my brain responsible for empathy (this really does happen to me), but upon further consideration, here’s what I came to realize:

I don’t see how men have self-worth issues as they age.

As a man gets older, he may lose muscle tone or hair, but there’s no expectation for him to cover these things up with makeup, dye, and the elusive ‘flattering’ outfit. Indeed, men perfected the suit hundreds of years ago, and never looked back. The only real change to the perfect male look seems to be the width of ties and the length of facial hair. Men of every age seem to have women who will happily date them. Not so for women. Why? Because as men age, they gain other ‘gold stars’ in life: a career, professional honors, possessions, emotional maturity, and stability. Oh, and of course, there’s a desirable mature male aesthetic as well: the ‘Silver Fox’ look.

Meanwhile, as a woman ages, she hits her glass ceiling at work, realizes her salary won’t ever match those of her male colleagues, sees that she’s lost momentum during her time raising kids and/or caring for elderly parents, has been accused of losing her emotional wherewithal through the menopausal process, and is never considered as ‘stable’ as a man, financially or mentally.

Yes, this is a generalization. Bear with me; we’re looking at a broad issue here.

David Duchovny. This is his headshot from a list called
"Foxy over 50". I'm telling you, a woman in a tee with
no makeup in this lighting would never get the
same positive attention. But his look is attainable
for an average guy: tee, hair cut, stubble,
and some pushups.

This is how older women are 'sold' to us: perfect lighting,
airbrushing, professional photographer. If Diane had been
caught in that same scene with David above, it NEVER
would have been used as her 'Foxy over 50' picture.
Worth noting: the list of Foxy 50+'s was all men; I haven't
seen a list that long of 'foxy' mature women. Can you think
of 50 women revered for their looks once they're over 50? I can't.
Few of us will look like
Claire Underwood (Wright)
as we age.
As I was thinking about the issue of male aging, I realized that I could reassure Bob with many examples of Silver Foxes who show that aging can be incredibly sexy, inside and out, for a man. Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and what seems to be every Baldwin man…these are all examples of men who just seem to improve with age. But when I tried to reassure myself with similar images of older women, I could think of virtually none. Ellen Degeneres? Sure, though I see her as a bit of a one-off. Helen Mirin? Okay, if you want to set yourself up for impossible self-expectations…because the chances of your ‘Change of Life’ leaving you shaped like Mirin is about as likely as Gerard Butler showing up on my doorstep, today, and begging to marry me.

I waited a minute to see if it would happen. It did not.

The reality is, even outside of the celebrity world, I have a hard time picturing what the female equivalent of a Silver Fox would be. We just don’t esteem mature women the way we do men. This is a bit terrifying now that I’ve realized it, because I have a much better understanding now of why there is a gap in my mental projection of myself: I can picture myself at 35 (cute hair, tall boots with a skirt, heading into an important meeting before I take off to my afternoon yoga class), and I can picture myself at 70 (crazy silver dreadlocks, arts-and-crafted house with a wild medicinal organic garden, running a workshop in a small town where I upcycle vintage furniture), but I have no idea what I look like for the 25 years in the middle.

So while I can understand Bob (and other men’s) fears of aging, I think they’ve got a lot more examples out there showing them that aging men are still a desirable and productive part of our culture. Meanwhile, the closest thing I’ve got to a real-life role model for my 50’s is a handful of ex-supervisors wearing uncomfortable polyester pantsuits, sporting that standard puffy short haircut, wearing coordinated jewellery sets, and catering to male bosses’ whims by spending their lunch hours seeking out the right Keurig cups.

I think you’ll be fine, Bob. But you’ve certainly got me worried now.

Monday 24 March 2014

Unicorn Fan Art: how I torture my little brother


Somehow in my life, and I'm not sure why or when, I became synonymous with 'unicorn fan'.

I think originally, on MY end of things, it was supposed to be sardonic. Over time, however, I get sent every unicorn meme on the internet. I also have a slowly growing collection of unicorn vinyl figurines from Tokidoki. I have this glorious unicorn clock I bought at a thrift store. Because it's so hideous. And it needed a home.

Anyway, that's part one. Part two is that my little brother, Mike, grew up and has turned into a really talented videogame artist. I don't know when this happened. I still remember him being twelve years old, curled up in his Crayola crayon comforter, blissfully unaware that I was hiding under his bed with a 1942 gas mask on and that I would, about thirty seconds later, leap out and make him scream like a high pitched dog whistle.

Mike is probably the best toy my parents ever gave me. There are many stories. He may not forgive me if I share.

Anyway, so part two is that Mike is an awesome artist and started sharing links to his portfolio art site with everyone on Facebook. But he's a dork and he does that self-effacing thing where he says, "Working on it...not sure I love it yet!" And that makes me crazy, and is a perfect opening for some big sister heckling. So I started by writing below his link previews on Facebook,

"It needs more unicorn."

When he ignored me, my demands became more persistent. I went through his facebook albums writing, "More unicorn." "Needs a unicorn." "Unicorn is missing." ...on everything he'd drawn.

He still ignored me.

So I saved a bunch of his drawings over to my iPad, and started adding the unicorns and posting them back to Facebook.

This is a unicorn photobombing an Asian landscape. I thought about calling it a uni-bomb, but that has other

Yeah. I'm the best big sister ever.

Anyway, he's just released some new drawings, but I haven't had time to deface them yet, so I just spent the morning commenting on one of them as new ideas came to mind.

For the grammar nazis, you can blame my 'smart' phone for the homonym there/their issue. Now shut up.

The truth is, I'm incredibly proud of my dorky little brother. He's still ten years old, dressed for Hallowe'en as Mr Fantastic with stretchy arms (thus unable to hold his candy or defend himself from my poking) in my eyes. But he's a really good drawer. He really does need more unicorns, though. I may not know much about videogames, but I know you can't ever go wrong with a horse with a sword in its head.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Fish and Filo Pie: Jamie Oliver recipe adaptation

As many of you know, I’m learning to cook…well, I’ve been learning to cook for a while now, but I’m currently learning to cook meat. And fish…well, that’s ‘next level’ meat, because if you do it wrong, you either get sick, or get shoe leather. And the window between both is very narrow.
Our cooked & flaked cod
I’ve been watching a lot of Jamie Oliver lately, because I find his teaching style very easy and relaxed. Rarely does he have pre-cut perfect bowls of ingredients measured out, and very rarely does he seem overly concerned with perfection of any sort. It’s also great to have a show (like ‘Save with Jamie”) that you can follow with the guidance of a cookbook (like “Save with Jamie”). So when Jamie made a salmon filo pie, I wanted to try it.

It was really very easy, and as usual, I did some substitutions. First off, I replaced the salmon with cod. This is because my mom is allergic to salmon and I really wanted her to try the pie; it is also because in my mind, it was a far greater blasphemy to mess up a beautiful salmon steak than
to mess up a cod filet. However, to increase my chances of success, I bought a piece of cod fresh from the fish counter—no frustrating thawing process here.

I also think I may have reduced the quantity of leeks, but the ones I got at the local grocer were HUGE. We went with 2 instead of 3, and we had plenty of filling. I don’t know what kind of sad anemic leeks they grow in England, Jamie, but ours were ginormous and two did the job.

Oh, and of course I left out the parmesan cheese, because of my whole dairy intolerance. But honestly, it was fabulous without it.

Cooking fish turned out to be super easy and not at all scary, though admittedly I was guided by MJ (the former executive chef); but because it’s so easy to see when fish is done—it becomes a true ‘solid’ and flakes apart—it wasn’t scary. Doubly good was that the fish goes back into the oven inside the pie, so if I wasn’t 100% sure it was cooked, it’s getting good and hot all over again.

Because I didn’t have leftover fish, as Jamie’s recipe calls for, just a heads up that we cooked the fish, cooled it so it wouldn’t cook the egg mixture, and then put it into the recipe.

I’ve included the link to the recipe on Jamie’s page but be aware, you gotta scroll way down…it’s not a user-friendly site by any stretch. You can look up the show, though, and of course, the official cookbook is a gem. I have more postits in the margins than I ever had in a textbook in school, I’ll tell ya that much.

I’m learning that one of the most important steps for great cooking is little leaps of faith—faith in yourself, for the most part! Maybe that’s why there are so many cooking-is-life metaphors. Like a lot of other great new things, the only way to see how you’ll do at it is to take a leap and try your best.

Sunday 16 March 2014

The Ikea Breastfeeding Debacle: a call for sanity


I suppose most of the free world has heard this week about the alleged incident at the Ottawa Ikea location wherein a mom has claimed she was called ‘disgusting’ for breastfeeding in line—by a store manager, she says. According to her statement, Brea Rehder (24) says she was waiting in line to argue a price with a manager when she started breastfeeding; that’s allegedly when the manager told her to head to the bathroom if she was going to do that. Trouble is, Ikea has reviewed the footage for that entire day, tracked Brea’s movementsthrough the store and cash line, and finds no evidence of this incident at all. In fact, while in line they see that Brea didn’t even have her baby with her.

So that’s the start and the end of the story; what’s really troublesome is all the stuff that happens in the middle.


People took to social media like a plague of locusts and started calling out Ikea for their horrid treatment of a breastfeeding mom. Feminist bloggers took to their keyboards, calling for boycots and protests, swearing they’d toss their EKTORPs and RUTGATs and burn their alan keys at the stake. Mom bloggers* jumped on board too and swore they’d storm Ikea topless wearing nothing but baby bottle nipples as pasties. Giant breasts were graffiti’d onto the vast blue walls of the megastore. Store managers were strapped to the hotdog counter where they were given a million paper cuts with those cheap paper measuring tapes available at the counters.

Okay, I’m exaggerating the protests, but you get the idea. The entire brand was called out and publicly disgraced…for something that doesn’t seem to have happened. Also, for something that MIGHT have been done by ONE staff.


There’s a problem with the internet these days, and it’s social media. Why is that a problem? Because humans aren’t mature enough to understand the power they wield, much like harnessing the atom or inventing Teflon. The reality is that, for millenia, written word was written by someone who knew what they were doing. Getting your words into print was expensive, and you had to carry some credibility in your field before any readers, scribes, or publishers would take you seriously. Social media has allowed everyone to broadcast their thoughts without any sort of vetting process, and this is positive because it reduces the amount of Orwellian censorship that has happened in the past…but it’s dangerous because humans are still wired to believe that everything they read is true.


Adding to the problem is that in social media, the squeakiest wheel gets the grease. So the tens of thousands of people who were skeptical but silent about Brea’s report aren’t heard, but the furious few hundred feminist social media users who raged about the case are heard from continent to continent. Likewise for the mom blogger community, notoriously squeaky as it is and absolutely blindly biased to believe the unconfirmed word of one mom (who also has publicly reported suffering from post-partum psychosis, which could affect her perception of reality. It'd be like asking me to accurately describe the size of a crowd or a spider, given my anxiety troubles).

The damage done to Ikea cannot be undone. Because the inflammatory headlines are so much more likely to hit the top of our search engines, the original story where Brea called out Ikea will continue to circulate for months to come; meanwhile, posts like this one I’m writing will be found somewhere around page 20 on your google search. Many people will never even find out that Brea’s story cannot be verified.

Ikea’s best option at this point is to use the situation to create a big loud goodwill campaign, shouting it out over social media until it’s picked up by Upworthy and other good news sources. About a hundred moms are planning a boob-in at the Ikea today, where they’ll suckle their offspring on the couches in the living room section; Ikea is welcoming them with open arms. Still, the head-shaking truth is, about a hundred moms are about to disrupt their kids’ entire day to go sit in a protest that was spurred on by the complaint of one stranger—a complaint that seems to be entirely untrue.

I shake my head at you, internet mob. Imagine if you put this much outrage into the well-researched, if less-dramatic news stories about toxins in our products, slave labour in third world countries, or factory farm-raised meats. (Ahh, but for some of you, that’d mean giving up your blog sponsors P&G, Joe Fresh, and Maple Leaf. Hm. A rant for another time.)

*Author's note: It's been pointed out that not every mom or mom blogger jumped on board the Ikea hate-wagon; I know this and you know this. Trouble is, the loud angry ones get a lot more shares and that means a lot higher up the google feed, which means more readers read those posts than the balanced ones. For the moms and mom bloggers who used their discretion and temperance in reporting this story, I say thank you and I am really glad you're out there.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Craft Show Review: Urban Craft March 2014


Craft show season is upon us…were sweeter words ever uttered? I get so excited this time of year, I literally get goosebumps. I started off the season with a visit to Urban Craft, a show I haven’t had the luxury of hitting up in quite some time. Urban Craft used to be a monthly show held at the GCTC, but about a year ago they switched to quarterly shows held at the Glebe Community Centre. It’s a more user-friendly space (frankly, it’s my favourite building in the city for any sort of show) and the less-frequent shows mean less vendor burnout, I would guess.

The timing of the shows for the last several rounds was impossible for me this past year. There’s few things I hate worse than missing a craft show. So I was tickled when I found out that Urban Craft was on this Saturday. Unsure of what the new format would be like, I headed down hoping to find some lovely things.


Here were my favourite picks from the show this time ‘round:

AUNTIE LOO’S POP UP DINER: Auntie Loo’s, Ottawa’sbest-established vegan bakery, provides a pop-up diner at Urban Craft on a regular basis. This was my first time getting to see what they had to offer, and I was thrilled. Lunchtime meals like polenta & baked beans, and a stacked portobello mushroom sandwich were up for grabs; of course, they offered the usual array of sweet baked goods like their squares, cupcakes, and donuts, too. My sandwich was delicious, but the pizza bun I took home really stole the show. I had only one disappointment: I thought I’d bought a mint-chocolate brownie, and when I got home I realized I’d forgotten to order one. I had to console myself with one of their salted caramel chocolate donuts. Oh, the horror.

Schal makes scarves out of upcycled sweaters and fabrics. If you think scarf season is over, you’re likely not a Canadian reader. Also, I’m always cold and I wear scarves year-round. Regardless, Schal’s lovely pieces would dress up an evening outfit without taking away from your Little Black Dress or handsome suit, so I heartily recommend checking them out.

Maudstitch offers cross-stitch kits, with some really adorable modern-yet-vintage style patterns. I personally have no patience for tiny fine work like this, but you can also take home something pre-made; however, I’ve bookmarked them in my mind for MJ’s upcoming birthday, as she is a huge fan of that type of tiny crafting hobby.

Simply put, these guys offer upcycled wood items of all sorts—cutting boards, candle holders, even benches. I listened to the owner describing how he’d salvaged wood from an old church in Westboro, and I totally fell in love with the concept. The price point is high, but these are items to cherish. Hint: wedding gift season is upon us (God help us all).


Michael’s Dolce jam…I can’t say enough about these guys. They take jam to another level. I went home with a vanilla pear and a lavender blueberry. Literally and truly, the best jam I have found anywhere.

Mad Faux Cheese: these guys make nut-based cheeses that are vegan, but are so freakin’ delicious, even the non-vegans love them. Seriously, I know how bad vegan cheese can be…these guys have an outstanding product and you really must try it.

Urbanite Jewelry was of course there (they run and host these shows, after all); I adore their playful metal jewellery and they manage to keep things at a very affordable price point. As the kind of jewellery fanatic who likes to buy herself little prezzies on a regular basis, clever jewellers with good price points are some of my favourite things.

Urban Craft was a brilliant show this season and I am so glad I headed down. The Glebe offers lots of street parking and there’s supplemental shopping along the mainstreet, so it’s hard to go wrong. Be sure to head to the Facebook page and stay in touch for next time!

Monday 10 March 2014

Monday Morning Facebook Chat with MJ

This is a pretty typical start to my day, courtesy of Facebook chat and MJ's brain:

•           Jordan Danger
Lorde just has one song that she madlibs in new words.

I've heard of this girl but have not heard her song

Jordan Danger
oh yes you have
'we'll never have money...something about the city"
frak, i dunno, it's annoying
"I can be your queen bee, and you can be my something"


Jordan Danger
These are ACTUAL LYRICS from her new song: "dreams of clean teeth, i can tell you're tired, you leave the car running, while you're waiting outside

like haiku set to music

Jordan Danger

Jordan Danger
you're my crotch where my legs start moving

I'm sorry?

Jordan Danger
that winner from Phillip Phillips.
Lyrics, lol.

it sounds stupid stupid

Jordan Danger
I forgot there'd by no context. I'm giggling uncontrollably.


Jordan Danger
ahahaha stupid stupid

Seen 9:38am

When Alan asks, "What the hell do you guys talk about all the time?" I just give him a scathing stare and say, "You wouldn't possibly understand."
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