Summertime Margarita

This post by Beth-Anne was originally published last summer, but as everyone knows a good margarita is timeless.  Enjoy!

This summer we’ve been all about margaritas! They are so yummy and can easily be made without alcohol. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not comfortable in the kitchen and I have a tendency to “wing” it (insert disastrous result), and I do the same when it comes to mixology too. I like to go by taste, so every measure that I am about to give you is an approximation. Let your sense be your guide!


Start off with some limes, both regular run-of-the-mill juicy limes and those flavour-bursting key limes. Juice 2 limes per glass. This is where the math comes in. If you’re going to make a pitcher of 8 drinks, you’ll need sixteen limes. It’s a lot of squeezing but it will be worth it.


Pour the lime juice into the pitcher and add some club soda (1:1 ratio). Now add a healthy dose of tequila. I prefer white (or clear) and I figure about 1.5 – 2 shots per glass. Again with the math.  Squeeze in some agave nectar. This is where it gets personal. Sweetness is subjective, so be sure to taste and add accordingly.


Pour in a touch of orange juice. That’s a very technical measurement. Don’t screw that part up.


I’ve sampled several versions of this recipe over the summer and each time I tweak it slightly. I know nothing for sure, other than this drink tastes best served in a tall glass over lots of ice and a thinly sliced key lime.



Summertime Margarita

This summer we’ve been all about margaritas! They are so yummy and can easily be made without alcohol. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not comfortable in the kitchen and I have a tendency to “wing” it (insert disastrous result), and I do the same when it comes to mixology too. I like to go by taste, so every measure that I am about to give you is an approximation. Let your sense be your guide!


Start off with some limes, both regular run-of-the-mill juicy limes and those flavour-bursting key limes. Juice 2 limes per glass. This is where the math comes in. If you’re going to make a pitcher of 8 drinks, you’ll need sixteen limes. It’s a lot of squeezing but it will be worth it.


Pour the lime juice into the pitcher and add some club soda (1:1 ratio). Now add a healthy dose of tequila. I prefer white (or clear) and I figure about 1.5 – 2 shots per glass. Again with the math.  Squeeze in some agave nectar. This is where it gets personal. Sweetness is subjective, so be sure to taste and add accordingly.


Pour in a touch of orange juice. That’s a very technical measurement. Don’t screw that part up.


I’ve sampled several versions of this recipe over the summer and each time I tweak it slightly. I know nothing for sure, other than this drink tastes best served in a tall glass over lots of ice and a thinly sliced key lime.


Stuffed Pork Chops: Skip the restaurant and stay home this Valentine’s Day

pork-chops-655486_6404Mothers welcomes Jillian as our guest for the day.  Jillian is a mother to her 10 month old daughter and an Air Force wife.  She is currently taking a year long break from her job as a news anchor.  Jillian blogs about her love for food, entertaining, travel and fitness at News Anchor to Homemaker.

My husband and I will be celebrating our seventh Valentine’s Day together this year.  I’ll never forget our first.  We were in college and I came home to a home-cooked meal…it was awful.  He made a shrimp dish, but he must have forgotten every spice in the recipe because it was pretty bland. To be honest though, I was so head over heels I didn’t care.  After dinner, he took me to the surprise part of the date at his apartment complex.  We pulled up to an outdoor fire place and  taped above it was a note that read, “Reserved”, signed by management.  He informed me he was “management.”  He was afraid someone would take his idea, so he made it look more official.  Smart guy!  He opened the trunk of his beat-up 4Runner and took out a blanket, champagne (one of his older friends must have bought it for him) and an assortment of chocolates.  It was perfect.

Thinking of our first Valentine’s Day together got me thinking about our favorite restaurant in our old college town, Athens, GA.  If you’re ever in Athens, then you should stop by The Last Resort Grill.  They used to make a dish similar to this.  It would be a great option for you and your sweetheart this February 14th.  Just my humble opinion of course!

Spinach Stuffed Pork Chop:

Prep: 10 Minutes

Total: 20 Minutes

2 Pork Chops, with a pocket cut

8 oz. Spinach, chopped, cooked and well-drained

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Splash of Chardonnay, divided

2-3 Tbs. Butter, divided


Drain your cooked spinach and pat very dry.  Toss into a pan with a splash of chardonnay and about 1 tablespoon (or less) of butter. Cook for a couple minutes then stuff the pork chop with the spinach. Season pork chop with Sea Salt and Cracked pepper.  In a pan, melt more butter and add a more chardonnay. Cook your pork chops for several minutes on each side.

Sweet Potato Mash:

2 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled.

2 Tablespoons of Butter

1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon of Brown Augar

1/4 Cup of Milk


Boil sweet potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash in butter, syrup and sugar, then mash with milk until desired consistency.


Date Night Gone Awry

I was really hoping to write about a new-ish restaurant in the city that my husband and I went to in celebration of our ninth wedding anniversary.  What I can tell you is that tucked-away, much buzzed about Patria is artfully designed.  The menu, at a glance looks delicious, as did the few plates that passed by our intimate table for two.

However I cannot write about what we ordered nor if the food critics are right in dubbing this tapas bar one of Toronto’s Best Restaurants of 2013.  I cannot tell you, because our ninth anniversary came and went and nary a morsel of food was consumed at Patria.

Let me start off my story by stressing that while summer vacation may be the days of folly and freedom for youngsters, it is for this stay-at-home mom, two months of intense togetherness that has me praying for bouts of dysentery* just so I can seek a few moments of privacy from my three boys.

Who am I kidding?  They’d follow me in there too.

The day of our anniversary, the babysitter arrived early with ample time for me to shower, shave my legs and tame my tresses.  Basically, I went from looking like this:

Portrait of very surprised bizarre screaming housewife

(With some creative liscence) To this:


A cab picked me up from my front door and like Cinderella, I was shuttled off to the ball.  The whining, complaining, and incessant bickering faded in the review mirror.  Even the grueling stop and go traffic along Avenue Road couldn’t dampen my spirits.

I wanted to lean out of the rolled-down window, hair blowing in the breeze and call to the babysitter with a sinister sneer, “You’ve been duped!  They are not the loveable boys of school days.  These beasts are feral!  These boys are urchins!  These boys will wear you down, defeat you, make your ears beg for quiet!”

As the cab slowly navigated the downtown streets, I excitedly texted my husband that soon we’d be eating – in a restaurant!  With cutlery!  Where chicken fingers are a thing of lore!

I was giddy.  Like a parolee, I was relishing in the sights of the city.  When was this skyscraper finally completed?  What kind of art is that new installation?  When did men in suits start wearing full beards?

Upon entering Patria, our hostess lead us to our table and we followed behind like obedient school children relieved to finally have some time alone.  Just as my husband’s knees bent to sink into his chair, his iPhone buzzed to life.

A glance at the screen revealed a call from the babysitter.

She never calls his phone.

He answered it, and I can immediately tell from the way he casually walked away from the table, from me, that this wasn’t good news.

Back in the cab, it no longer feels like a shiny chariot but rather a jalopy with cracked vinyl seats, rank with fetid air.  The inching traffic nothing but a taunt.

He’s doing great mom!  We hope to have his thumb dislodged as soon as the fire department get here.”  The kind paramedic, used to placating frantic mothers on the verge of tears, said calmly into the phone.

My youngest son was stuck.  His tiny thumb had somehow managed to wedge itself tightly into the hinge of the glass shower door, thereby entrapping him on one side and his freshly scrubbed brother on the other side of the glass.

One frantic babysitter, one flummoxed neighbour and a host of EMS workers descended into our en suite washroom in attempt to free the compressed thumb.  Forty minutes later he was liberated with nothing more than a tiny gash and a throbbing digit.

After hours of soothing (the little guy, his empathic oldest brother and a devastated babysitter) my husband and I collapsed onto the couch with a bottle of wine.

Just over his shoulder I could see our wedding picture – the young, fresh faces smiling naively into the camera.

We couldn’t help but laugh.  Those people had no clue, no clue at all what kind of maelstrom was lying in wait.

Once the last drop of wine was consumed, we tip-toed up the stairs to check on our feral little urchins and to get some much needed rest, because in this house the only certainty of tomorrow is that it will leave me exhausted.

*Okay, maybe not.  But you get the idea.

pictures courtesy of: The Inklings of Life and Emphasis Added

Date Night: Cooking Lesson

For our 13th wedding anniversary, I gave my husband a list of 13 months’ worth of date nights to take us to the next year.  After giving him the itinerary, I also went straight to the family calendar and marked them all off, because you know that if it’s not on the calendar, it ain’t gonna happen.

For this month’s date, we went to Dish Cooking Studio for a group cooking class and dinner.  About 20 people gathered at the kitchen counter of the studio, then we prepped a four-course meal and ate our creations.  The theme was Sizzling Sicilian, and we made a grilled octopus salad; a gooey, cheesy, crispy baked eggplant; chicken (they made me a vegetarian mushroom and quinoa patty ahead of time); couscous; and chocolate cannolis with fresh Ontario strawberry sorbet.  Each course had 2-4 people to prep it, and two chefs circulated to help us with the details.  We could also step away from our own stations to check out what was happening elsewhere, and learn about all the different courses.  Wine was available, and we sipped while we cooked.  We could meet new people, but we could also catch up on our days, trade stories from this long week and giggle together.

The meal was delicious, and I learned a fair bit not only about the items we all cooked but also general kitchen tips.  (Heat the pan, then add the oil until it looks like water, then add the meat.  If done in that order, the meat will never stick to the pan.)

octopusThe biggest culinary revelation was the octopus.  If you’ve had the experiences I’ve had with calamari, you’ve probably had a rubbery, hard-to-chew breaded thing.  It is never my first choice on the menu, but this experience has transformed my view of the seafood menu.  This octopus was tenderized, beheaded, de-beaked, cooked for 90 minutes in broth at a temperature of between 170 and 190 (yes, you have to stand and watch the thermometer), cooled, then skinned and then grilled.  Easy, it is not.  Delicious?  I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious.  Like buttah.  We each got about a leg’s worth, and it was rich and buttery and tender and flavourful and ever so impressive.

sorbetTed and I made the strawberry sorbet with fresh Ontario strawberries (easy!!) then pitched in with the cannoli (Not easy!!  They had made the dough ahead of time, but we had to make the ricotta filling, roll out the pastry, cut out rounds, roll them onto pins, deep fry them until crisp, cool then stuff them with decadent ricotta and chocolate filling, then dip the ends into freshly candied peel.)  To. Die. For.


All of the food was delicious, but definitely ambitious.  We went home with the recipes for all the courses, but I would never undertake to make all of those courses for a single meal.  It would take three days’ prep!  But when all the prep is shared among 20 people, it all comes together with miraculous ease.  I would love to try making the octopus at home one day.

Date nights were designed to be gifts to both of us, and for this mama who is sick to death of cooking but loves good food, it was a great boost to go and try something new.  My kids would eat exactly none of what we prepared, not even the cannoli, but I am pretty sure that they will love the sorbet, and it is definitely in all of our skill set to make and enjoy together.

A date night idea I highly recommend.

Guest Post: Patsy Spanos on Being a Dancing Queen at 40

Español: Bailarines en la discoteca Pachá Ibiz...

Español: Bailarines en la discoteca Pachá Ibiza por la noche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My situation is a unique one. I am a mother of three young boys — six year old twins and a nine year-old — and for the last five years, I have spent my Julys in Ibiza. For those of you who don’t know Ibiza, it’s a Spanish island close to Barcelona, with a party scene that resembles Babylon during the summer months. Seeing body-painted, half naked women, in their G – strings, is as common here as Lululemon pants are for us in Canada. Bare breasts and string bottoms on the beaches are more accepted than tankinis. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows what a tankini is in Ibiza.

Along with this eccentric fashion sense is the out-of-this-world nightlife that starts somewhere around at 2 a.m. and goes strong until 7 a.m. Luckily dinner in Spain is usually at 10 p.m. and if I feel like putting my dancing shoes on, I tuck the kids in bed by 1 a.m. and away I go! This 40 year old, Canadian mom turns into a Dancing Queen.

Let me stop right here for a second, and put things into perspective. I am a stay-at-home mom from Stouffville, Ontario. The most excitement I get throughout the school year is scoring two free slices for the school pizza lunches. Dancing in the V.I.P section in all the hottest clubs in Ibiza (thanks to a very connected brother in law) throughout the month of July is a far stretch from my home life in Stouffville.

Needless to say, I feel like a fish out of water in this subculture, kind of like Madonna, with her toned arms, desperately trying to hold on to her youth. But the saving grace in all this is that I am a certified YogaDance instructor and I love to dance. So this old maid feeling I get amongst all the young beautiful ladies quickly disappears for me once I start to dance and allow the music to take over.

It is this passion for dance is that controls my Mother Bee instinct and keeps me from throwing a sweater on these half naked 19 year old girls, or from having a one on one with a go-go dancer and strongly suggesting that she read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.  If I did, I’d be behaving like a frumpy Oprah in a Lady Gaga world. Nobody asked me for my opinion, and these girls are all having a great time…so maybe I’m the one with the issues…Maybe I’m just too rigid, and uptight…Maybe I have to change my angle, and let loose….

So, last night, at a very happening club, I made an extra effort to embrace this foreign world. When my husband knuckle-chucked the bouncer, who then waved us through the VIP entrance letting us bypass the horde outside, I instantaneously allowed my I.Q. to drop by five notches. I squeezed my husband’s arms and whispered in his ears, “You are HOT!” After 16 years of marriage, no matter how hard you try, a comment like that oozes with sarcasm, so my husband grabbed me by the waist and pulled me in for a long, romantic kiss. For the first time in a long time I felt like he and I were the only people on the crowded dance floor.

I slowly turned into a Solid Gold dancer, twisting and moving, and turning my body into pretzel positions that would make most people blush in Canada. It was fun! I smiled at strangers and danced close to them. I didn’t know their first names, but I definitely knew the size of their waistlines. I laughed, made funny faces, and challenged them with a dance move that would make the shirtless guy with the cowboy hat on City TV’s Electric Circus nervous. Oh yeah! I would have given him a run for his money that night.

Last night, I wasn’t a conservative, Canadian stay at home mom, looking for the latest specials at Wal-Mart. I was a Goddess who was offered a drink while her husband was in the restroom. Of course, my instinctive reaction was to scream, kiss the boy and thank him for reminding me that I still got it. Whatever “it” is, I like “it”! Even though I had to say, “No thank you,” to the young boy with a Mrs. Robinson fetish, at that moment, I was fifty shades happier 40 year old in Ibiza.

How I Know That I Am Getting Older

A few weeks ago we went out for a fancy schmancy dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  It became clear to me that regardless of how young we feel that we have all stopped checking the 25-29 box.

Tequila shooters, Broken Down Golf Carts and Cement Mixers gave way to a full-bodied chianti and the conversation centered on work, kids, and biological clocks instead of hook-ups, student loans and wedding plans.

Everyone silently cheered that dinner was over before 11 pm so that we could all be home and in bed before the stroke of midnight.  We know there is no magic in being out past the stroke of midnight just brutally long mornings with whiney kids and/or clients.

While walking out of the restaurant we had to pass through the lobby bar.  It was brimming with so many scantily clad 20- somethings that when I looked down at what I was wearing, I felt like I was channeling my inner-Amish.

It wasn’t just the sartorial differences or the gaping abyss between sobriety and inebriation that reminded me that I am older more mature, it was the commentary from my friends:

“Wow, you can smell the desperation in here”.


I think that girl forgot to put on her pants.  Oh look, apparently no one wears pants anymore.”

“What’s with the weird facial hair?  That guy needs to trim his side burns.”

Just a few days later, as I was listening to 90’s on 9, XM radio, each song a nostalgic trip down memory lane, it hit me.

I have officially become my parents: I listen to music that is 20 years old, and question the fashion choices of “youth”.

When did it strike you that you are not necessarily as “young as you feel”?


photo credit:


A Different Kind of Date Night

One week down and I am proud of my progress.  Granted, come June I may be singing a different song.  Like most parents, at the start of a new season, we sit down and schedule the kids’ activities.  This winter, I have made sure to schedule my own.  Each day I have allotted time for myself- sometimes just a half hour and sometimes three hours.

To help me achieve my goal of being more fit and incorporating exercise into my daily living, I spoke with certified CanFitPro Instructor Vanessa Reeve last week.  Part one of this interview focused on the benefits of exercise and why it should be a part of everyone’s daily life.  This week Vanessa offers tips and suggestions on how to do just that.

Vanessa advocates setting a goal (realistic, people!) and telling everyone so that they can support you.  A realistic goal should be attainable and to give yourself a bit of motivation dangle, a carrot: i.e. buying a new pair of jeans, a dinner at a nice restaurant, a new book – whatever makes you happy!

An ideal fitness routine should include:

  • Strength/weight training 2 – 4 times per week
  • Cardio training 3 – 7 times per week (a minimum of 25 min of exertion)
  • Flexibility training 3 – 7 times per week

Before you throw your hands up in the air, insisting that you don’t have the time for this, consider a few things.  Firstly, flexibility training is stretching.  It can be as formal as attending a yoga class or more casual like stretching while your watching TV.  Just don’t stretch for the bag of chips!

Secondly, weight training does not mean investing in a set of dumbbells (although free weights can be an affordable option for at-home sessions).  There are many exercises you can do that use your own body weight for resistance.

Joining a gym provides an opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals who are also working towards a goal.  The sense of belonging can be empowering and give you the nudge that you need to stay on track.  Classes taught by instructors take the guesswork out of planning a routine, and generally instructors kick your butt in ways you never would.

January marks the time of year when new gym memberships spike.  Many of people who rush to sign up at the start of the year stop going just a few weeks into their new routine.  Perhaps their goals were not realistic (in the beginning consider making a commitment to go to the gym twice a week instead of everyday and then slowly increasing your attendance) or maybe the gym environment isn’t the ideal fit.

How To Exercise At Home and Move More!

  • Walk more.  If it is possible, walk to work.  After dinner leave the mess behind and get for a brisk walk.  Taking your kids for a walk after dinner could the ticket to getting them to sleep better.  Older kids can ride their bikes while you walk/run and with younger kids you can makeup games en route.  Something I like to do with my boys is we run to the lightpost as fast as we can, then walk to the next one.
  • If you live near a school, take your kids with you and let them play in the field while you run/walk laps.
  • Don’t drive to the store if you can walk and if you do drive, park furthest away.
  • On your seventeenth trip to the doctor this month alone, take the stairs instead of the stuffy elevator.
  • Take a bike ride on a path.  Most cities have intricate bike paths that are family friendly.
  • While watching TV or talking with your kids at night, get down on the ground and do some simple abdominal crunches (younger kids love to count along with you), static squats and lunges.
  • Invest in simple equipment like a ball and sit on it while typing on the computer.  These stability exercises help to tone core muscles.  Newborn babies often love being lulled to sleep with a light bounce.
  • Make it a family affair.  Consider taking up a sport that the entire family can do together.  Hiking, skiing, biking and skating are just a few sports that both young and old can engage in.
  • Rent exercise/yoga DVDs from the library, borrow them from a friend, check on-line for free demonstrations (YouTube has plenty).

Date Night Doesn’t Have To Be In A Restaurant Or A Movie Theatre

Instead of the usual fare of dinner and/or a movie, why not try something new.  Lori  Lowe who writes a fabulous marriage blog recently featured Lindsay Rietzsch author of How To Date Your Spouse.  Rietzsch suggests to “ignite the romance” consider activities that allow you to be close such as:

  • Dancing
  • Ice-skating
  • Swimming
  • Walking/jogging

Why not take it a step further and try something neither of you have done before.  Take a snowboard lesson, rock climb or check out the neighbourhood yoga studio.  Lots of studios offer free trial classes so take advantage of them!

Last year, my husband and I tried spinning together and not only was it an incredible work out (I still do it) but it was a lot of fun learning something together.  At night we’d commiserate over sore muscles and during the class we’d motivate each other to keep at it.  Between pregnancies, he taught me to water ski.  Lucky for me, he’s a great teacher and very patient.  We had a ton of laughs and I still remember the look on his face when I lapped the lake.

Doing activities together not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but it increases intimacy. If your partner needs a little encouraging to give hot yoga a try, share this tibit of info.  According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise enhances libido in women and decreases erectile dysfunction in men.  Now, if that’s not enough to get up off the couch . . . or maybe get down on it!

Just To Take Away Any More Excuses You Have, Vanessa Answers:

Q:  My ass looks like a pancake.  Any exercises to tighten and tone?

A:  Spot reducing isn’t ideal and doesn’t always work.  The best way to tone and tighten is to do a complete body workout.  That being said, lunges and squats are the best moves to firm a tooshie.

Q:  I know that weight bearing exercise is vital for bone strength but I don’t want to look like I could grace the cover of Body Builder’s Weekly.  Will pumping iron make me bulky?

A: No, not if you are using low weights and doing lots of repetitions.

Q: Does strolling on the treadmill count as cardio?

A: In order to see physical improvements/changes, you need to be doing a cardio exercise where your heart rate is up for a minimum of 25 minutes to the point of breathlessness.

In a few months, I will report back (part of making my goals known) for a check-in.  To get us all off the couch, please share your favourite songs to work-out to.  Music is a great motivator! And/or please share what it is you do with your spouse, friends or solo to stay active.

Date Night: Scarpetta

“Isn’t that where the cool kids are going?” Marcelle asked me when I told her that my husband and I were going to Scarpetta for dinner with friends for a little pre-holiday celebrating.

I am a lot of things but cool is an adjective that does not come to mind to describe me.  Or, for that matter, my husband.  But when friends invited us to join them for dinner at one of Toronto’s newer hot spots, I jumped at the chance to wear heels and lipstick. One can only live in yoga pants and sweatshirts for so long.

The newly opened Thompson Hotel in Toronto houses the first international outpost of “chefelbrity” Scott Conant’s Scarpetta.  It’s easily accessible via public transit but if riding the Rocket is not for you, cabbies galore troll the streets eager for your business.

To enter Scarpetta one must first weave their way through the hotel lobby.  The lobby bar provides all sorts of delicious eye candy for those who love to people watch.  It’s been awhile since I have eaten anywhere there’s a scene (unless you count three-year-olds tantruming over spilled chocolate milk) and was instantly schooled by the sartorialists as to what is fashionable now.   Thank-you to my skinny jeans and black blazer for pulling through once again.

Two massive doors create a soundproof barrier from the thirty-somethings looking to hook-up and those looking for an intimate dining experience. The dark wood and soft lighting make for a chic but cozy setting.  I love that the banquets include large round tables and they are spread out so you actually have to make an effort to eavesdrop on the conversation at the next table.   I doubt that there are any highchairs available here and furthermore I hope not to see one on my adult-only dinner night out.

The friendly server reviewed the menu and made mention of the daily specials.  Hearing that the pastas are what the chef is known for, we opted for a three-course meal.  But after a series of shared appetizers (not even crumbs were left behind) and our first course of pasta, all four of us decided to forgo the mains and do another round of pasta.  My favourites included the homemade spaghetti and the agnolotti da plin (meat, fonduta and parmigiano).  I never would have thought the spaghetti would live up to, let alone supersede its reputation.  The agnolotti was perfection – little explosions of yumminess.

A fabulous food blog that dishes yummy recipes and excellent restaurant reviews has inspired me to take note of washrooms.  A good friend and bar owner once told me that you can judge a lot about a restaurant on the cleanliness of their toilet facilities.  Scarpetta’s ladies washroom is spacious and impeccably clean.  There are many stalls to choose from so the likelihood of having to wait in line is slim – which is a good thing after consuming a couple bottles of wine (not by myself!) and a signature cocktail.  The wall-mounted sconces provide just enough light to re-apply lipstick but not too much to scare the hell out you after a few drinks, leading you to wonder a: why has no one told me that I actually look like this? And b: is Botox really that bad for me?

But perhaps my favourite thing about the restrooms is that they are on the main floor!  And anyone who frequents restaurants in large cities knows that washrooms are usually accessible only after successfully completing The Gauntlet of Death (also known as The Incredibly Dimly Lit, Very Narrow, Steep Staircase to the hollows of the building).

In case that it is not clear, I am no restaurant critic or foodie reviewer but simply offering a suggestion for a date with your partner or an all-nighter with your girlfriends.  If you are looking for reviews on this restaurant I would suggest looking here or here.

A few months ago, I posted a stat about how divorce rates increase with each subsequent child.  A night out or a weekend away may seem like a hassle to arrange and not worth the cost but I am guessing that it’s less than a divorce.  Winterlicious is coming up so take advantage of the great restaurant deals!


Prefer to have date night in?  Check out Scott Conant’s recipes on-line here.



I remember getting lots of advice before I had children: “Don’t ever co-sleep, you’ll never get them out of your bed”, “Letting a baby cry it out is the best thing for him”, “You can never respond to a baby’s cries too often”, and the list went on. Much of this advice is swimming around somewhere in the fog that is my mind most days.  However, there is one piece of advice that has stuck with me.

Don’t neglect your marriage.

Divorce rates are skyrocketing and many experts agree with Julia Stuart of the London Independent, that ever since the 1990s the likelihood of divorce increases with each child by 37%*.  Yikes! *(

It can be a challenge to coordinate date nights with your spouse.  Demanding work schedules, children’s activities, and the financial strain of using a regular a babysitter are factors that cannot be ignored. But with some creativity it is possible to carve out some special time for the two of you.  Like the old days.  Without crackling baby monitors to spoil the mood.

Last weekend my husband and I took advantage of two opportunities that presented themselves.  I say when the stars align, seize the day!  Who knows when it will happen again and the laundry will be waiting for you.

First, I am very, very, very lucky to have parents who have a standing sleepover date with our kids.  Nana picks them up on a Friday or Saturday night and returns them the following afternoon.  This translates into many, many kid-free hours.  I am so thankful for the adult time with my husband and my kids can’t wait to get out the door, shed my rules and be spoiled rotten.

Second, we indulged our love for good food with some good friends, at a three-course prix-fixe menu that is part of Toronto’s Summerlicious program.  Summerlicious is a city-wide event that features many of the city’s finest restaurants as participants.  Restaurants offer patrons a three-course meal for a fraction of the price it would normally cost to dine (lunches start at $15 and dinners at $25).

We went to Celestine.  The atmosphere is Parisian chic.  A beautifully tiled floor, black and white photographs, starch white linens, and comfortable chairs are the perfect backdrop to some seriously delicious food.  As an appetizer I had seared marinated beef accompanied by fried dough (who doesn’t love fried dough?).  It was spectacular but didn’t come close to the lemon lobster risotto that was my main.  The lemony flavour was subtle but such a match for the sweltering summer day.  Risotto can be heavy but this dish was anything but.  Celestin originally was a bakery and my husband and I used to line up every Saturday morning (before 9 am ) for the BEST croissants in town.  I have tried them all so I know what I am talking about.  Therefore, we couldn’t possibly resist the dessert.  I had chiffon cake with berries.  It didn’t disappoint.

Summerlicious makes for a great date night.  It provides a chance to try a new restaurant, spend some quality time together and for less than it would have cost any other time.  If you can get free babysitting, it’s even better!

If you have been to a Summerlicious restaurant this year, please share.  I am always open to trying new places.