Tag Archives: personal

Books to sink your teeth into

I love food. Always have, always will. The most memorable moments from my childhood involve food. Making mud pies at the beach, playing house with plastic food, making “salsa” and peppery carrot soup… just to name a few.

It’s no coincidence my favourite books as a kid have some foodie element to them. Let’s discuss.

Teddy Rabbit by Kathy Stinson

Teddy Rabbit

Teddy Rabbit

A book about Tony, a little boy from Toronto who’s going to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Centre Island. But Tony’s worried – he doesn’t have a real teddy  – his favourite toy is a plush Rabbit. It’s okay though, the kids’ “Teddies” are all kinds of animals, and Tony and Rabbit are welcome to join the picnic.

Yum Yum: Tony’s mom packs carrots in a paper bag for the picnic. The kids and Teddy animals eat sandwiches, cookies, berries with honey, tinned tuna and carrots. Stéphane Poulin’s artwork is drool-worthy.

Fish Fry by Susan Saunders

Edith goes to a fish fry picnic on a Texas forest riverbank with her family. There, she and gangly Eugene Greene meet an unwelcome reptilian visitor.

Yum Yum: Cookies, cakes, pies, and huge jars of pickles. Butter beans, potato salad, hush puppies, deviled eggs, fried catfish and watermelon cooling in the river. S.D. Schindler’s detailed illustrations make me hungry.

Too Many Babas by Carolyn Croll

Too Many Babas

Too Many Babas

A group of Russian grandmothers all want a hand in Baba Edis’ soup. In this story, too many cooks is not a good thing!

Yum Yum: Their first pot of soup is too garlicky, peppery and salty. When the Babas delegate and organize tasks, their cabbage, potato, bean and carrot soup is delish! My 1979 edition’s sepia illustrations lack pizazz, but the updated version has colourful folk art.

Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak

Chicken Soup With Rice

Chicken Soup With Rice

This rhyming book of months is a delight! I enjoyed my birth month most of all:

“In May I truly think it best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest. Mix it once, mix it twice, mix that chicken soup with rice.”

– Sendak

My copy is well-loved, and taped up.

Yum Yum: Chicken soup with rice, all the time! Sendak’s illustrations set the tone for the month, but always incorporate the book’s namesake.

A Difficult Day by Eugenie Fernandes

A Difficult Day

A Difficult Day

Melinda has crumbs in her bed, she can’t sleep well, a nasty boy punches her in gym class, and she’s rude to her Mom. On the whole, it’s a rough day.

Yum Yum: At bathtime Melinda feels like a noodle in a beautifully illustrated bowl of chicken soup. Later, she and her sympathetic Mom share chocolate chip cookies under the bed.

And let’s not forget my favourite of the bunch…

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

Bread and Jam for Frances

Bread and Jam for Frances

Frances is a fussy yet lovable badger.  She soon grows tired of her favourite food and yearns to spice things up! This book reminds me of my childhood bread and jam infatuation  – every day for breakfast – bread cut in half, both cut sides facing me.

Yum Yum: Spaghetti and meatballs, veal cutlets and elaborate packed lunches complete with hardboiled eggs, a pickle and a cardboard salt shaker. Lillian Hoban’s simply-coloured illustrations don’t skimp on detail.

So many mouth-watering reads! What were your favourite books as a child?


The Keys

I’ve heard that the more keys you have on your keychain, the more complicated your life is.

I started out with one key. My house key. I’ve lived in this brick house all my life. I’ve never moved. Ever. We have pictures in our family photo albums of a sign that my Dad made, proclaiming “Welcome Home, Mommy and Miranda!” There is another sign from three years later, welcoming my brother.

My keychain

My keychain

I have vivid memories of my first late partying nights, where I’d creep home at 1, then 2 then 3 (and sometimes 4) in the morning. I knew the way my key would fit in the lock. I know how to maneuvre my house key to unlock the door silently, not waking my parents, sawing logs in their room, with the door open. Now that the babies are all grown up and out of the house, I hope that my parents never sell our house. It’s always been my home and I’m pretty sure it always will be. That is, until I make my own.

My home in Ottawa is cozy. From the outside, it’s a dismal-looking khaki-coloured duplex. I have three keys for this building.

Even though I’ve lived there for the last three years, I have to admit I haven’t really gotten my keys figured out. I’m pretty sure the key to the very front door opens the back door as well. Sometimes in the winter, our very front door freezes shut, and I try to escape the back way. One day, after I moved the otherwise sedentary recycling bins and garbage cans away from the back door, I went out, and down the stairs. The ground looked solid below. It appeared to be a thick layer of icy snow. I jumped off the bottom step, crunching through a not-so-thick layer of ice, and landed knee-deep in snow. Just the way to set a day off right.

We have lockable storage rooms downstairs, which is a huge boon for our nomadic student lifestyle. These storage rooms are adjacent to our shared laundry room with the people downstairs.

The people downstairs: One skinny girl, one large-ish girl and her equally large-ish boyfriend. They each have a car and park in front. They think we have been using their dryer. (We have done no such thing.)

One day, there was a hot pink plastic bag with a passive-agressive note attached on the top of our dryer. Inside the bag was a pair of lacy panties! All three of us concluded they did not belong to any of us.

Now we’re convinced that the large man is cheating on his large girlfriend. Oh and they have a dog with pigtails named Lola. She barks and scares the crap out of me every time I traipse up the stairs.


My apartment key has a green rubber monkey on it. I got it from when I worked at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s in the Glebe, at our staff Christmas party. This rubber mon- key (get it?!) opens the door to our apartment.



There is a pair of men’s shoes outside our door. They have been there since we moved in, and we don’t know whose they are. Not that anyone would want them, they are really ugly. Men: Note to you: these shoes should be avoided at all costs. Hideous.

I also have keys to my brother’s apartment in Montreal, where I spent a week in December. I should probably give them back.

He and his roommate have this cool art installation on their front entrance. They stick Jones Soda bottlecaps to the door (You know, the blue caps with a fortune underneath). Before you leave their place, you have to close your eyes, spin around, and point to a cap. It’s like their urban-chic version of a Magic 8 Ball.

For the last two weeks, I have had a couple other additions to my chain. I’ve been staying with a dear friend and his lovely roommate in the Byward Market area. They live on the 11th floor of their building, near the elevators. There is a woman who lives right next to the elevators, who has a bird. My friend Nick thinks she does not have a bird, but a recording of a bird that plays on repeat. He claims the bird’s songs are “too perfect”.

So this one evening, as I wait for the elevator on my way out, the bird woman steps out of the elevator. I step in, and it smells like fishsticks.

The elevator stops on the fifth floor, and a guy gets on. I wanted desperately to tell him that I was not the one who made the elevator smell like fishsticks.

We get off on the main floor and we both walk in the same direction. “Are you following me?” he says, joking. I explain that I’m not and we continue to make small talk but all I can think is “I DID NOT MAKE THE ELEVATOR SMELL LIKE FISH STICKS!” I tried my hardest not to blurt it out and sound like a total nutcase.

The reason I am staying with my friend in the building with the fishstick-scented elevator is due to my recent internship at the CBC. Due to the bus strike, I’ve been living out of a bag and sleeping on a couch for the last two weeks. My friend’s place is right downtown and made it easier to get to work.

My swipe card

My swipe card

The CBC building in Ottawa is on lockdown for some reason and everyone has a swipe card to get in. There are little sensors at every door, and on the elevator. There are even these robotic glass sliding doors in the main lobby that blink green arrows and beep as you swipe through.

My duties during my internship included fetching things and bringing things to other parts of the building. It took a while to figure the place out, because all the hallways are virtually the same. Same colours, same carpet, same red lights bulging out of the walls outside the studios.

Every day I would pass by this one studio; Studio 46. It had one camera, a chair and a desk, and a generic backdrop.  I assume Studio 46 is a neglected place – I never saw anyone in it. But each time I walked by, there would always be a drink on the desk. It became my game to peer in as I passed to see which cup was there. One day, a coffee cup from Bridgehead; another day, one from Presse Café. My last two days there, there was a half-full clear plastic cup of water sitting on the desk. It was there for at least two days. It’s probably still there.

So that’s a little tour through my keychain, and my life…ever changing, ever growing.

What’s on your keychain?

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