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Mom’s best: a sample

By May 12, 2017 Rituals

Moms do it all. Ask kids what they remember and often it is the wee maternal gestures, not the big strokes, most embraced. Sharing themselves. That’s it. What a load off all of us. Be yourself and extend your arms.

That’s it, that’s all.

To celebrate my new spring cover of with love and sugar♥*, I asked some fun personalities to share something awesome from their mother’s kitchen. Try to guess which story belongs to my own lovely mom.

To order a copy for your own mother, other bakers in your circles, or a copy for your own kitchen, a simple order form is here. I will be giving out one free copy every Friday from now until end of June for the best story about ritual. It’s your turn. Have your say below.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. (yes, that’s my mom above, on her honeymoon 60 years ago)




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when you know they get it

By December 25, 2016 Life, Rituals

“Can I give out my gifts first?”



Merry Everything. Have a safe and peaceful holiday. 


For more holiday reading:

I spy, you spy…Christmas

Toasted Pecan Shortbread

My walls are hot

Prep the elves

Les Misérables: A Playmobil Movie

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Cookie Monster alive and well

By December 23, 2016 Life, Rituals

We’ve been exploring rituals here (click on the Rituals link in the Red Chronicle menu) and here’s another episode of “With love and sugar asks“, just in time for Christmas.


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Rituals. Yes, you do so have some.

By December 15, 2016 Life, Rituals

Today’s episode ofwith love and sugar asks” travels across Canada and involves some cherished time with dad, a historic visit to the home country, and the birth of a new family ritual. If you missed the others, check out the Rituals link in Red Chronicles navigation menu.


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Ritual of the day: Episode# 3

By November 15, 2016 Life, Rituals

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Ritual of the day: Episode 2

By November 8, 2016 Life, Rituals

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Ritual of the day Episode 1

By October 31, 2016 Life, Rituals

RITUAL OF THE DAY🍭🎂🍪🍷🍿🍻🍬🍩☕️🎪🎬🏆🎨🎹🎼🚣🎤

My girls are grown-up. Gulp (again). That means they’re experiencing Halloween, campus-style. I’ll share pics tomorrow (if they let me).

And so, this the first autumn without dress-up at Wit’s End: no kids donning costumes in the bathroom and gobbling a quick dinner before the trick-or-treat candy bonanza through the neighbourhood.


Do I still bring out the bins of Halloween decor? Put out the pumpkin and cauldron…the whole shebang of years past?

Read More

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Kitchen ghosts

By October 30, 2013 Life, Rituals

Red Chronicle readers know I am currently at work on a sweet project, one requiring hours in my kitchen with this shiny red toy.

My KitchenAid mix master was a recent Christmas gift in that infamous year, when the Friendly Greek asked for ideas and I wrote down a list full of irony and longing. Xmas morning dawned with everything on my list but world peace wrapped up.

Hate me, go ahead. It was my own Christmas miracle. He doesn’t do dishes. This is a good trade, no?

Midway through this year’s Thanksgiving pie blitz, my Kitchen aid broke down. The motor didn’t stop, but the beaters just stopped whirling. No amount of cajoling or holiday inspired invective got the machine going. It just sat, pumpkin-rum mousse drooping in the bowl. Four pastry balls rolled, baked and primed for filling waited nearby.

This is when all you non-bakers stare me down and point to the psych ward. Excellent pies are everywhere, made by professionals in this city. Go forth, Fool Wearing Apron!

  They don’t know about my back-up!

Just kidding. No shots just yet.

Rescue instead came in the form of an old General Electric hand mixer from my grandmother Bama’s kitchen.

It is hard to match the woman in this photo with any kind of kitchen appliance.

Bama, in front of her house in Toronto

Bama was our champion. Named by my oldest sis Mary as a toddler struggling to sound out “g”, Bama failed to be “cross” with our steady mischief, in all her 90 years. She smelled of cocoa butter and wore a steady collection of elegant hats tipped just so. Lunch invitations meant crystal and china, in her dining room, or outside where we clinked glasses on the lawn in her beautiful garden. Any formality was twinkled away with a ready smile at our havoc. Surely she was with me that day in my curse-laden kitchen as I peered into the mess of appliances, pulled out the same mixer she used for meringues and cake icings, and went to it—whipping, marvelling, muttering:the perfect trifecta for kitchen brilliance.

No hats worn that day. Still, I tipped an invisible one in her honour as my family devoured the pies at Thanksgiving dinner.

As for my own blasted machine, customer service at KitchenAid washed their hands of me. Try the yellow pages, they said. You make the thing!, I sputtered incredulously. Several phone calls, $180 later, with the help of a local small appliance doctor, I am back at work, my mother’s daughter now when I say,

They just don’t make them like they used to.

For more ideas from the sweet spot, see:

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Tree of calm

By December 15, 2012 Life, Rituals

Chopping down your own Christmas tree may bring out the ax murderer in some. Me? I get to stop being urban chick, if only for an afternoon..

No need to bring your own ax-we just borrow one from a big bucket of saws. It helps having teenagers with muscle, putting their all into the trunk. That’s one reason we didn’t do this when the kids were young. The other? That would be time. As in Let’s go to the nearest tree place to our house.  These days, for several years now,  wandering in a field with family is our favourite way to escape December madness.  My only job here is to breath. The air is crisp with a tease of snow. Work will come at the end when all hands are needed to tie the thing to the car.

This, I’ve discovered, is the surest route yet to puncturing holiday stress. We sit, legs dangling as the wagon bumps along past haphazard rows of trees. I grip the pooch, who is thrilled to find we are finally having a dog-friendly Christmas errand.

Except that it doesn’t feel anything like an errand. It feels instead like a prescription to cure nature deficit disorder. Richard Louv coined the phrase in his best-selling 2005 book, Last child in the woods. There is, he argues, a growing divide between kids and the outdoors, one contributing to depression, obesity and attention disorders.  His latest book, The Nature Principle, is a call to action. Louv believes the twenty-first century will be an era of human restoration in the natural world.

“ The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

It may sound like nostalgic thinking, but I feel it in my bones. Every time I turn away from the concrete mayhem and take a simple walk in the park down the street, I feel calmer, quieter…better.

The circus that is my city is mine to love: can’t live without the buzz, I guess. Can’t live without the green either though. It’s now inside the family room, stinking up the place. One whiff reminds me of that field of trees and our boots that crunched along in the great search. It is a little space in the Christmas countdown that says peace is in the house.




Holiday Countdown#1: Send me a card.

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