My New Year’s resolution: Dance more, worry less


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dance-more-worry-lessI don’t know about all of you, but I kind of hate New Year’s resolutions. Not only am I not very good at keeping them, but I’ve always found it all a bit too cookie-cutter for me. I’ll make changes in my life when I’m good and ready to make them, and I don’t need the calendar to tell me when to do so.

But, despite my usual reluctance towards New Year’s resolutions, I’ve made a very important one this year: DANCE MORE, WORRY LESS.

Dancing is one of the best stress relievers I’ve found in life, and so over the past few years, I’ve found an awesome way to make dancing a regular part of my routine by being a den mother at Dance Dance Party Party Toronto. No idea what I’m talking about? Read on.

The short(-ish) and sweet summary: Dance Dance Party Party is a women-only freestyle dance session with only three rules: no boys, no booze, and no judgement. There are no instructors, and no dance moves to follow – it’s just an hour and 15 minutes of super fun dancing time! It’s like going out to the club with your friends, but you don’t have to dress up, pay cover, or get hit on by guys when you really just want to dance. And trust me, you don’t have to have ANY dancing talent whatsoever, either! We’re all just there to have fun.

I’m one of the co-organizers of the Toronto chapter (the original DDPP started back in 2006 in NYC), and I LOVE spreading the word about our dance parties. When I’m dancing in the Mad For Dance basement studio at 263 Adelaide St W., there’s really no place I’d rather be.

Want to join in on the fun? We’ll be getting our groove on in January on the 5th and 19th, both from 3:30-5pm at Mad For Dance. Get all the details over at DDPP Toronto.

Steep, Stir, Sip: An Intro to Loose Leaf Tea


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steep_stir_sipThose who know me well, know that I love tea. Not only do I have an exploding tea cupboard, but I’m fast developing an exploding tea drawer in my desk at work, too!

I started a new job at the beginning of January, and for the past two months I’ve been absolutely loving my new position as Web Content Coordinator for at Citytv here in Toronto. Every day I get to work on managing and coordinating content for our website and social media accounts (namely Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest), as well as writing original pieces for the site, too. (Oh, and I also get to watch the show being taped every day while I take photos down in the studio – super fun!) This past week, I wrote an article that I’m particularly proud of and excited about because it’s about the obsession I referenced at the beginning of this post…tea!

Yep, I wrote a beginner’s guide to loose leaf tea, all about why you should be drinking loose leaf and what you need to know about all of the different tea families. And best of all, the article also features quotes from David Segal, the co-founder of DAVIDsTEA, whom I interviewed for the piece! I’m a huge DAVIDsTEA junkie, so getting to interview the man behind the tea was an incredible opportunity for me. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Whether you’re an ardent coffee drinker or you’ve been sipping green tea for years in order to reap the health benefits, you’ve no doubt realized that “tea culture” has invaded North America in recent years, and it’s not all coming in little round bags anymore. While tea has long since been a popular drink in Great Britain and Asia, it’s only in more recent years that Canadians and Americans have truly latched on to the tea craze, helping to make it the second most consumed beverage on the planet, after water. David Segal, co-founder of loose-leaf tea shop DAVIDsTEA, isn’t surprised that North Americans are jumping onto the bandwagon. “It can fit into your lifestyle so easily. You can have it in the morning or in the evening, it can be energizing, relaxing, soothing, or it can engage the senses. [...] It’s such a diverse product,” explains Segal.

But why have loose leaf teas, in particular, become so popular and why should you choose them over the convenient bagged options? In terms of quality, loose leaf tea offers a fuller flavour than a bagged tea – this is namely due to the differing size of the tea leaves between the two forms of tea. While loose leaf tea is made of full or slightly broken leaves, bagged tea is made up of tea fannings, which are small bits and pieces of tea; when tea leaves get smaller, they dry out and their natural taste starts to dwindle. For the same reasons, loose leaf tea holds up better to multiple infusions of the same leaves – just pour some more hot water over the same tea leaves and literally get some more bang for your buck!

Want to read more? It’s all over here on!

Are you a tea junkie or are you interested in trying out some more teas? Let’s talk tea in the comments – I’m really good at making tasting suggestions!

2011: My year in reading


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2011 is a proud year for me in terms of reading, as it’s the first year since 2007 that I’ve successfully reached my goal of reading 50 books in a year. Due to the combination of working on a mayoral campaign and writing my own book, I was woefully under-read in 2010, and I’m so happy to have gotten back on track again this past year.

To briefly sum up some of my reading highlights in 2011, here are the winners in a few categories, with my brief Goodreads reviews attached (and if you want to see everything I read in 2011, you can check out my 2011 Reading Challenge bookshelf on Goodreads – and you can friend me over there, too):

Half-Blood BluesBest New Book (published in 2011): Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

This book easily and thoroughly swept me up in its magic, transporting me directly into the times and places inhabited by its characters. Despite a few slower sections, the story was incredibly compelling and kept me on my toes right until the very end. The characters were excellently realized and although the period/cultural slang was a bit off-putting in the beginning, it quickly became very natural and definitely helped to immerse me in the story.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianBest YA Book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (tie)

Fascinating YA read for young adults and adults alike. Alexie’s characterization of Junior is flawless and engaging, and the story’s exploration of both race issues and the struggles of growing up is just as messy and compelling as real life. Really great read, and I look forward to reading more of Alexie’s books.

When You Reach MeAbsolutely fantastic book. A delight to read and incredibly enjoyable to try to unravel its very clever mystery. If you loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time as a kid (I know I did!), you definitely must read this. Its plot is integral to When You Reach Me, but Stead’s book is still extremely charming and clever even if you have no knowledge of its related predecessor. I read a lot of YA, but this is definitely one of the very best books of that genre that I’ve read in a while.

The Incident ReportBest Canadian Book: The Incident Report by Martha Baillie

The concept of this novel was brilliant and expertly executed. Don’t for a second think that the storytelling might be limited by the incident report style – quite the opposite, in fact. Baillie’s prose is beautiful and detailed as she intertwines reports from her love life, her past, and actual library interactions. A quick and engaging read that you’ll easily gobble up.

OnceBest Short Story Collection: Once by Rebecca Rosenblum

Such a wonderful debut collection of stories. Rebecca Rosenblum is all at once self-assured and tentative, harsh and tender. A captivating look at human relationships. I’m really looking forward to reading her new collection, The Big Dream.

And because I love stats, here’s a few key stats I pulled out from my 2011 reading list:

Fiction: 44
Non-Fiction: 6

Female Author: 36
Male Author: 14

Canadian Author: 28
Non-Canadian Author: 22

Adult Book: 30
YA/Kids Book: 20

Paperback/Hardcover: 33
E-Book: 17

As for 2012, I still have a goal of reading 50 books (and you can follow my 2012 Reading Challenge on Goodreads, too – I’m still currently on book #1, Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant), but I’m not sure if I should try to put any other structures around my to-read list. I want to continue reading at least 50% Canadian authors (I was at 56% in 2011), and I enjoyed reading 40% YA/Kids books last year. Looking at my stats, I feel like I should increase my non-fiction reading, but I rarely feel the pull towards non-fiction, like I do towards fiction.

What were some of your favourite reads in 2011? And what are your reading goals for 2012?

Get great book recommendations from the Advent Book Blog, and read my rec for All My Friends Are Superheroes


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All My Friends Are SuperheroesNeed help with figuring out what to buy all the book lovers on your gift list this year? Now in its third year, the Advent Book Blog should be your one-stop site to finding recommendations for everyone on your list. The site features several recommendations per day, all from readers just like you and me. In fact, my recommendation of one of my favourite books ever, All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman went up on their site yesterday. Here’s what I had to say about it, in 100 words or less:

This may be a story about superheroes (and comic book fans will definitely love that aspect), but even more it’s a heartbreaking yet heartwarming tale of an outsider who must beat the odds in winning back his true love. Kaufman’s main character Tom is an everyman to the extreme, surrounded by the extraordinary – I mean, his friends are actually superheroes, from the Perfectionist to the Amphibian. Funny, sweet, and oh-so-relatable, Tom lives in a version of Toronto that you have to read to believe. I dare you to find a book that packs a better punch in only 100 pages.

Check out my full recommendation over on the Advent Book Blog…and if you want to buy the book (and I obviously think you should!) go on and buy it from Coach House Books, who just added it to their holiday sale thanks to my Advent Book Blog recommendation. If you buy it through their site before December 31, you’ll get 25% off the list price and it’s free shipping, too!