It’s about both leaning in, and reclining back — isn’t that balance?

I read a piece this morning written last year by Rosa Brooks, published in the Washington Post, “Recline, don’t ‘Lean In’ (Why I hate Sheryl Sandberg)“. What I took from the writer was that Sandberg has encouraged an expectation on women to “lean in” and do it all: career, family, social life. An expectation that is now taking away the opportunity for women to “recline”: relax, vacation, read — you know, enjoy life.

ILean_In_(book) get what Brooks is saying: “Lean In” just increased the pressure for women to have successful careers, picture-perfect homes, and wonderful families where mothers attend the parent council meetings and bake cookies for bake sales. I’m not dismissive of either “Lean In” or Brooks’s essay. Sandberg brought significant profile to the imbalances and misogyny that exist for women in the workplace and opened an important conversation about what it takes for women to operate — and grow their careers — in what remains largely a male-dominated world. (And just to provide a source to back up my statement about the “male-dominated world”: women make up 45 per cent of the workforce of S&P 500 companies, but only 4.2 per cent — or 24 of those companies — are led by women). Brooks makes important arguments of the pressure on working women to kill it at both their career and the “second shift” at home.

They’re both right. That’s where the pressure becomes even more challenging. How we for the sake of all women do the impossible: achieve balance. I think “balance” has become a loaded word. A selling feature offered by many companies is “work-life balance,” but I’ve worked in a couple places where their definition of my “work-life balance” is very different from mine.

And there, in my opinion, lies the issue. Balance means something different to everyone. Some women, like Sheryl Sandberg, find their own balance, which is different from the balance of Rosa Brooks, which is different from what balance is for me and my family.

The onus, in my opinion, is on everyone — women, men, children (but especially women, since, really, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together) — to appreciate that everyone lives different lives shaped by unique personalities and circumstances. Removing the judgment and moving to support and respect is the key.

That sounds lame and simplistic. If Rosa Brooks (and me, honestly) needs to take the time to sit on the couch with a book or a movie and a glass of pinot noir on a Friday night rather than staying late at work on an extra project you took on to prove you can handle it — that’s fine. And if you want to stay at work late on a Friday night to work, then I won’t judge you (or assume you’re trying to make me look bad), but don’t judge me for taking some downtime, or assume that because I took the downtime you’re better at your job than I am at mine.

Success for women involves making the decisions that work for us, our families and our employers. Find a workplace culture that suits your lifestyle and that of our family.

I love my job. Sometimes I work late or go in on a Saturday, sometimes I travel on a Sunday for a meeting on a Monday, but sometimes I leave early on a Friday to pick up my daughter from school for a Starbucks date where we sit, read and chat, or leave midday for an hour for family reading day. My culture wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me and my family. If anyone wants to pass judgment when I leave a little early on a Friday, they’re free to do so, but I know it fits into my work-life balance. Work is happy with my performance — my career is moving in a direction I am satisfied with, and I find time to chill out on a Sunday afternoon for boardgames day with my family (and only check my work email once or twice that day).

Strong women have opinions, and there are many opinions about the right way (and wrong way) to achieve equal pay and more women in leadership and political positions.

For me the answer is about being supportive, and taking time to walk in each other’s shoes and appreciate what we can all bring to the solution to find and respect our own individual balance.

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Congratulations, Teresa and Matt!

Around this time 13 years ago, as I left high school and stared college, I made a new friend. A new friend who, despite the years and kilometres apart, remains a special part  of my life.

Teresa Earl got married this weekend. I am so very happy for you and your new spouse Matt.

A note for her wedding and a few snaps down memory lane for this special occasion. Love you, T!

T! Congratulations.

We are very sad to be missing yours and Matt’s special day, but we are thinking about you today and sending our well wishes from Newfoundland.

Author Charles Lamb once wrote, “Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.” It’s a quote fitting to our friendship – silliness, laughter and love. A connection of rather different people and personalities, yet with so much to talk about, and a strong connection of the soul that keeps us close despite the months and years that go by with often little more than an email, a Facebook note or text message.

I miss you, and today, lift my glass – which you know has just been refilled – to you and Matt. Finally, one more quote about friendship, this time, from Mark Twain, but this one is advice for Matt in his new role as husband, “The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.”

Congratulations to the both of you, and we wish you a lifetime of love, happiness, and most of all – laughter.

The best college roommate a girl could ask for.

The best college roommate a girl could ask for.

There's no one better with whom to party, veg and people watch.

There’s no one better with whom to party, veg and people watch.

Reunited with a new addition to our friendship.

Reunited with a new addition to our friendship.

A different wedding together nearly a decade ago.

A different wedding together nearly a decade ago.

While unfortunately we won't have our own version of this image with you in the white dress, maybe we can stage our own later?!

While unfortunately we won’t have our own version of this image with you in the white dress, maybe we can stage our own later?!

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Goodbye, good girl

Today, we say goodbye to a pretty good Dane.

With our family since shortly after we became a family, with her loss, the definition of our family changes.

She was part of our major milestones. From the moment our daughter came home from the hospital, she was her daughter as well. And would remind strangers and visitors quite clearly of her role of protector of our child. She walked our daughter to school on her very first day of school, watching for hazards and suspicious people and dogs all along the way.

Emma's first introduction to Molly. And a special bond was formed for the next eight years,

Emma’s first introduction to Molly. And a special bond was formed for the next eight years.

Always up for Molly cuddles.

Always up for Molly cuddles.

The first day of school.

The first day of school.

Even with an early and persistent appetite for destruction — walls, bed frames, carpet, toilet paper, baseboards — in eight years, never once did she touch anything that belonged to our daughter. Not a toy, not a shoe, not a thing.

Puppy Emma's destructive tendencies.

Puppy Emma’s destructive tendencies.

She loved unconditionally. She was loved in return.

At nearly 11 years old, with a life expectancy of seven or eight years, she gave us more years and love and affection than we could have ever requested.

A recent walk to Middle Cove. Emma struggled, but loved the fresh air, and time with her family.

A recent walk to Middle Cove. Emma struggled, but loved the fresh air, and time with her family.

Often joking about driving me crazy as the dog who would shed and make my house smell forever, sadness will now follow sweeping up the remaining short, dense black fur in the corners of our home.

We spent her last day with a trip to the pet store for salmon roll ups — and some tears as well. There was a trip to the McDonald’s drive thru for cheeseburgers and an ice cream dessert.

Heavy rain and her inability to walk very much meant a visit to the park was not an option, so instead, we came home, had a nap and rested — me after a long day of travel, and she after a long life of love, commitment, and some troublemaking. This was followed by additional cheeseburgers and salmon rolls ups upon our daughter’s return from her grandma’s.

With pain, a failing heart, little mobility, we know the right decision was to say goodbye and let our family member rest.

Good bye to a pretty Great Dane. You’re a good girl.

"Emma! Let's go for a drive!"

“Emma! Let’s go for a drive!

Car ride for our afternoon adventure.

Car ride for our afternoon adventure.

Choosing any treat she wants at the pet store.

Choosing any treat she wants at the pet store.

Salmon roll up is the treat of choice.

Salmon roll up is the treat of choice.

Cheeseburgers!

Cheeseburgers!

Where did all the cheeseburgers go?

Where did all the cheeseburgers go?

Skype date to say goodbyes to Bobby and Sam.

Skype date to say goodbyes to Bobby and Sam.

Always good for cuddles

Always good for cuddles

Cheeseburger supper no. 2, courtesy of Molly

Cheeseburger supper no. 2, courtesy of Molly

Goodbye, good girl.

Goodbye, good girl.

A girl and her dog.

A girl and her dog.

A final family picture.

A final family picture.

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Let’s not slut-shame young women but raise young men to respect women instead

I’ve noticed this posted a few times today and can’t leave it without a comment about the double-standard this piece exhibits. http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/

I think the author needs to look up the term “slut-shaming.” As the mother of a young daughter, it makes me incredibly angry. As a society, we do not support young women to become self-confident teenagers and adults by shaming them and their sexuality (and in the case of this author, while at the same time posting pics of boys on the beach frolicking and posing in a masculine stance without their shirts on).

All I can hope is that my daughter has enough self-respect to never post some nude pictures of herself online — and that as her support network, we’re able to help her develop enough self-esteem to so that never happens, but why is it not as critical to also teach your sons not to objectify a woman because she decided not to wear a bra? If teenage Molly decides to post a picture of her teenage self in a bikini at he beach on Facebook (or whatever Facebook-like program exists at the time), I will not shame her for it. 

While I’m sure it was not the author’s intent, I can’t help but feel that this piece reeks of sexism. I feel that she should put her concern more about teaching her sons they’re responsible for their own behaviours instead of putting the onus for respect solely on the women — teaching her boys that no, they DON’T have to think of a woman only sexually just because they saw a picture of her without a bra.

It might sound a little extreme, but, taken a little farther, this is the sort of attitude that leads to people blaming not a rapist but a victim because of how she was dressed.

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wine and ceiling leaks: welcome 2013!

No resolutions for me this year… I’m still trying to complete mine from last year (more on that soon).  I’ve started to blog a bit about different wines (you can call one blog a start… right?), along with meals to accompany the wines. This blog’s wine isn’t accompanied by a meal or recipe. It’s accompanied by a water leak.

Seems rather than resolutions, our home is welcoming 2013 with plumbers. And also wine (that’s happier than plumbers). Eight days into the New Year, and already, there have been a few glasses of great wine shared, as well as enjoyed alone. Last night’s bottle of Kim Crawford Pinot Noir was enjoyed in relation to the latest plumbing-related issue. Before leaving for our Christmas vacation in mid-December, we’d noticed the water had started to discolour. If the first season of Breaking Bad has taught me anything — besides that cooking crystal meth leads to some interestingly twisted outcomes — it’s that browning water means you need a new hot water tank. When we arrived home a couple days before the start of 2013, the water in Molly’s bath told us a call to the plumber was required ASAP.

Based on recommendations, we found a great plumber in Bishop’s Plumbing and Heating. While the installation of a new tank wasn’t cheap (especially after spending 12 days in Florida at Disney World — the happiest — and most expensive — place on earth), it was done quickly and well by the plumbers.

Our family will just settle in for a quiet, and inexpensive, winter while we pay off our vacation and new hot water tank, we thought. Then, yesterday, I got home a bit early to prepare a birthday supper for my not-so little brother.

Drip, drip, drip.

The drip, drip from the kitchen that could not be remedied by pushing down the kitchen tap was cause for concern. There was water dripping at a consistent speed of one drip per six seconds onto the kitchen counter. The sound of dripping was soon accompanied by a Monday/water leak-sized glass of wine in the form of the pinot noir I’d been saving for a cold, cozy Friday night in with my spouse.

A glass of Kim Crawford pinot noir and a bowl of water leak.

A glass of Kim Crawford pinot noir and a bowl of water leak.

The wine was as lovely as I’d expected. Something I love about pinot noir (and the Kim Crawford bottle last night was no exception) is that I find it both crisp and cozy/warm all at the same time. I think it must be the cherry and red berry flavours that come through. I love it. I was even kind enough to save a glass for my spouse (who could also use a glass after arriving home to see the leak) and the birthday brother — who both enjoyed their glass as well.

So, a few days after installing a new hot water tank, our plumbing friends from Bishop’s were back. This time, within a very reasonable amount of time, a leak was located, with only four fairly small holes in the drywall — and more importantly: no holes in the bathroom tile — and repaired.

While there is still work ahead of me to get 2012’s resolution back on track, so far, I’m pretty glad I didn’t resolve to give up wine in 2013. I do hope, however, not to see another  plumber in my home until at least 2014.

Tonight, while out with a friend, I’ll enjoy a glass of pinot noir to toast good plumbers, a fantastically flexible work environment that allows me to work from home while waiting for plumbers to arrive, and a 2013 of great times with friends and family — and good wine!

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Wine and a meal: Indian and Baron Philippe de Rothschild sauvignon blanc 2010

A friend of mine has a pretty cool job. Part of her job is to pair bloggers and wine. And while my blog goes through periods of neglect, if something can provide incentive to start blogging regularly again, it’s wine.

I didn’t just want to write about each bottle of wine, that can get pretty boring pretty quick, and besides, I’m no sommelier. I’ve decided to take a couple approaches to blogging about wine. One is a wine and conversations topic. I love discussing current events with friends and family, so sometimes, a friend or family member and I will enjoy a bottle of wine while we talk about an issue or topic, and I’ll share our thoughts on the subject as well as the wine.

The other blog will be the one I’ll write today: wine and a meal. I enjoy cooking. I haven’t always enjoyed it, however, over the last couple of years, I’ve started to really discover that it’s fine to make interesting — and delicious — meals for friends and family.

Our family loves Indian food. One of our favourite St. John’s restaurants is India Gate. The $9.95 take-out butter chicken meal is a Friday night go-to for the three of us. My daughter and I were wandering through Chapters a couple weeks ago — Molly was checking out the kids books, while I visited the nearby discounted cookbooks. For a reasonable $9, I found an Indian basics cookbook.

Homemade garam masala

My first blog in the wine and a meal blog will be recipes from that cookbook. I always want to do everything in one night and often take on more than I can chew (often, quite literally). For this meal, I set a plan to make:

  • samosas (a household favourite, especially of my husband) with kheera raita (an Indian cucumber yogurt),
  • pea pilaf
  • potato masala curry
  • cauliflower with potatoes and peas
  • sweet and sour lamb curry (we enjoy lamb, but don’t cook it often at home)
  • Tandoori-style chicken

The plate of homemade Indian food and glass of sauvignon blanc!

My aunt, who joined us with her husband, made lovely garlic naan to accompany the meal. We ate two hours after I’d initially planned and I didn’t end up making the rice pilaf, but the meal was delicious. We opened a bottle of Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2010 sauvignon blanc.

The meal and wine, Baron Philippe de Rothschild sauvignon blanc 2010

The meal was great — the tandoori-style chicken and samosas were the obvious favourites. The samosas were somewhat labour-intensive, but worthwhile and I froze half of them to cook later (which has worked really well).

The stuffing for the samosas

Homemade samosas ready to be cooked

The vegetable dishes were really good and had a lovely flavour. While the lamb curry tasted great, I had difficulty getting the texture right. I’m not sure if it was the recipe or me, but the texture never got as thick as it was in the image.

The wine was crisp, and had an almost citrus taste. It was nice with the mild spiciness of the Indian. I believe you can purchase it at NLC stores for about $13 — it was a decent value wine that I would purchase again, but maybe to accompany seafood. We make salmon fairly regularly, I think this bottle would pair well with fish.

Overall, the cookbook was OK, not great — some ingredients were missing from the ingredient list (but listed in the instructions) and not all the instructions were clear, but it was a good basic started book to try, and I may now invest in a nicer Indian cookbook.

Our toughest critic approves of our Indian supper!

The recipe for tandoori-style chicken:

  • Eight chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (finely grated)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp cilantro (this was missing in the recipe from the book, but was called for in the directions, so I guessed at the amount, and 2 tbsp seemed to work)
  • red food colouring (this is optional, I used it and found it added a nice colour to the chicken)
  • 1 tsp garam masala (I made the first batch of this myself, but then found I could buy it at Food for Thought)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, sliced (to accompany)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced (to accompany)

Tandoori-style chicken

Wash the chicken, and dry it on a paper towel, slash the chicken with a sharp, pointed knife.

Rub the chicken with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt.

Blend the ginger and garlic in a blender with 1 tbsp of water (I found this didn’t work in my food processor or blender, so I ended up doing it with a mortar and pestle), then mix with the cilantro, cumin, chili powder, paprika, red food colouring, garam masala and pepper. Stir the mixture into the yogurt.

Smoother the chicken breast in the spiced yogurt, cover and leave in the fridge overnight to marinate.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a rack in a roasting pan (I used my turkey roaster) at 400F for about 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with a bit of freshly ground sea salt and serve with cucumber and onion.

It was pretty simple to make — and delicious, I highly recommend trying it!

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Love music. Love my city. Love music IN my city.

I’m tired and ready for bed, but have to share an amazing experience related to being this tired. The last couple of nights, I’ve been reminded about how fortunate I am to live in St. John’s.

The city itself is amazing: it’s colourful and breathtaking. The people are lovely. The culture is great. We love it here.

We’re a family that loves music. While I have zero musical talent, like so many people, not much makes me happier than a good song. We lived in Fort McMurray for many years, and while the city offered us many good experiences and opportunities, great music generally wasn’t on the menu.

On Monday night, our family took in Nathan Rogers’ tribute show to his father, the late, great Stan Rogers. At first, Danny and I were a little hesitant about going. We were tired — I’d just stepped off a plane from a week in Texas, which also meant Danny had been doing the solo parent gig for the past week — and we just thought we’d rather watch Mad Men on the PVR and head to bed early, but Molly really wanted to go. Rogers’ “Barrett’s Privateers” is one of Molly’s favourite songs (or, as she refers to it as, “the broken man song”). When we couldn’t find anyone to take our tickets, we joined our family at George Street United Church to take in the show. I am so glad we did. It was fantastic. Nathan Rogers paid an amazing tribute to his father. Geraldine Hollett from (fantastic) Newfoundland band The Once joined Rogers on stage for a couple beautiful songs. And there wasn’t a quiet voice in the house when he sang “Northwest Passage.”

The amazing Rose Cousins with Andrew Dale and Andrew James O’Brien.

And, if that show wasn’t amazing enough, last night, Rose Cousins (one of my favourite Canadian artists since I saw her play with Joel Plaskett in Edmonton a few years ago) played an intimate show in the Rocket Bakery’s “Rocket Room” last night. (The amazingness of the Rocket Bakery will be saved for another post in the near future). Cousins was joined by local artists Andrew James O’Brien, Andrew Dale from The Once, Megan Warren from Repartee, and Matthew Byrne. O’Brien provided an absolutely lovely and beautiful opening set, and Cousins gave a fantastic — and charming — show. And Thursday night, she’ll be at locally-owned record store Fred’s, where I’ll take Molly to see her.

And, last summer, we had the fortune of seeing a show so good that words don’t exist to describe it with Dan Mangan, and at Christmas-time, we took Molly to see The Once’s Christmas concert.

We consider ourselves so lucky to live in a city that offers us so much culture — and we’re so glad we get to raise our daughter in a city of love, laughter and song.

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