Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Cabbage Patch Dolls & The Bottle of Zambuka

With Christmas Day only hours away. There are so many things to get done, down to he last minute. Wrapping, shopping, family plans, going down the check list, preparing recipes, mailimg out cards and letters, and above all making sure we get that perfect gift for that special person (or people)
For me, i will be doing some house hoping starting with my baby sisters house tonight for our kriss Kringle.

Last night, i could not help but to allow the baby to open one of his gifts early. The one i knew he would be most excited for. The bike. As i sat on the floor next to him unwrapping his gift, childhood memories filled my mind. Christmas as a child was one of the most exciting days of the year for my siblings and i. Was it because of the gifts? No, NOT at all. It was a day of fun, family and festivity. We worked together to help prepare meals, my mother and vuvo (grandmother)as a ritual -baked "masa" portuguese sweet bread, and portugese songs played all morning as we danced to the music that echoed warmth, joy and unity (until someone got drunk lol)That day was about togetherness. It was a time we got together with aunts, cousins, uncles, grand parents, god parents, family friends - who we were told to call aunty and uncle (lol) and neighbours. There was always an hour or two every year for vuvo (grandma) to have a great childhood story session with tales of back home Christmas. No matter how much wrong we did on this day we never got a beating. Mom and dad were to busy entertaining the guests :-)

So as i sat watching Captain (my baby) filled with excitment as he unwrapped his bike, i felt his joy in my heart and remembered as a child the year Cabbage Patch dolls were the "must have" dolls for every young girl. However my sister and i did not have one. Guess our parents could not afford it, as they would say. Hhmmmm. Right. We went the entire year that year playing with our friends patch dolls and wishing we had one.

That year, Christmas Eve 1983, mom and dad called my sister Sue and i out into the living room and dad asked "what is the name of those dolls you guys always talk about?" and my sister and i, at the same time, yelled out "Cabbage Patch Dolls!" I do not remember what he said next...i only saw him pull out 2 patch dolls from underneath the table. One was a premie and the other was a blonde. I don't know about my sister, but i think my heart stopped beating for a minute or more. When i realized it was real and not a dream, i started screaming with joy and kissed mom and dad about a hudread times before Sue and i ran off to our rooms where we stayed for the next few hours playing with our new toys until the guests arrived.

Later that evening, while we were still on our Cabbage Patch high and showing off to our cousins who could not care less because they already had a FEW, Sue decided to take a taste of the tasty looking stuff in the bottle with the branches at the bottom that taste like licorice, ZAMBUKA! Mom and dad had about 10 bottles of liquor on the dining room table where guests were helping themselves too. To make a long story short Suzie drank half the bottle and almost died that night. All i remember were her words that she could barely let out while she was over the toilet puking her brains out with vuvo holding her hair back "Liz where is my cabbage patch doll?" Yeahhh i know! Crazy

After that night was over, when grandma was over her fear of Sue dying, Sue then got her beating. I knew it was coming. After the beating that morning, we went back to playing with the dolls.

Those are my two Christmas stories.

A Christmas note from D.E.V.A
Today, our lives are becoming hetic and fast. People are so over whelmed in their daily routines that they hardly get time to spend with their friends and family. There is no time for fun. And when we do have fun, we feel guilty. Especially for us moms and dads. Don't make your Christmas this year commercial. Get back to your childhood roots. Play music, dance with your cousins, let the young ones do eachothers make-up, play board games or have a marble competition, bake shaped cookies, pull out the dominos or a deck of cards, and don't let everyone leave. Plan a sleep over. Don't have the space? That's ok, niether did we, BUT make the space. Put the guys in one room and the girls in the other. Or, lay all the blankets down in the living room and slip in a Christmas movie or tell stories all night. Get the children involved too. Don't rush. Relax and enjoy the love in the room.

TIP: Don't wait until the next holiday to get together again. As a matter a fact plan the date before everyone leaves. We need to break this curse that our generation (my age group) started.

What is your Christmas story? Or the one gift you will never forget? Share it here with us!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CLASS Without the CASH

Are you a university student? Lawyer? Sales representative? Wedding Planner? Women's ministry leader? Or maybe even a librarian?
Looking your best does not mean big bucks. You can blend in with the big shots (the rich) on a working woman's budget. Here are some tips.

Shop Vintage

Let me be the first to tell you that two of my favourite jackets were both purchased in a Vintage Store (Kensington Market) They rock for expensive and gently used pieces. Designer items and exclusive one of a kind pieces.

Seasonal Sales

Im highly advising you to get out there and find the sales. I was never one for warehouse sales because i just could not be bothered BUT that has changed lol. When the seasons change, you can buy high end designs at a fraction of the original cost. Register with mailing lists for private warehouse sales. The shoe warehouse sales are the best for your dollar. This past week i bought 12 pairs of shoes for my kids and i for ONLY $145 YES I SAID IT $145. I'm not talking cheap shoes either. Please go check it out for yourself at 907 Oxford Street at Kipling and Evans. The sale will be on until Boxing Day.

Shoes & Bags (Here is the key secret to "class without cash"

A key to looking and feeling rich, wether walking into a board meeting, a date, a court room, or business gathering/interview IS THE SHOES AND HANDBAG!
*ragged heels
*scuffed heels or toes
*broken zippers
*ripped seams on bags
*dirty stains

Please avoid the imitation bags. You pay $20 to $80 for an imitation bag when you could have taken that money and bought an inexpensive Aldo or H&M bag.
If you want to blend in with the rich, don't do what the rich would not do. No matter how much you want that "Chanel" clutch, don't bother. For those of us who know our product, we will know its a fake. So what's the point? Really.

Three Suits

Be sure to purchase a grey, black and brown suit. They will last a lifetime (be sure to dry clean) Every woman should have at least three in her closet. Again, check Kensington Market or Winners for affordable suits. Don't forget the three dress shirts - White, Brown and Grey. I persoanlly have it in every colour.
Tip: Invest in these shirts with stretch-for a better fit.


Know what and when to wear your simple or bold pieces. Do NOT wear a pair of large hip ear rings if you are going for the coorporate office look. Instead, wear a pair of studds. YES i'm def one for BIG & BOLD but know when to wear it.
Very affordable accesories:
*Coasta Blanca
If you have some extra cash:
*Club Monaco
*Holt Renfrew :-)

If you have any extra tips on "Class Without The Cash" please comment below.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love on the STREETS

As the topic for this month is "Love”, I decided to write about the place I first found love.

I (Elizabeth) was born and raised on Bleecker Street in St.Jamestown. Next door to Regent Park. Where I made my second home. You might be thinking “love in Regent Park?? How can that be?” There was definitely love, and allot of it.

Although there was a great deal of crime and poverty in Regent Park, there was also a great sense of love not found in the suburbs and other parts of the city. In the “Park” as we all called it, this sense of love did not come from organized community activities, meetings with a neighborhood friend for a morning jog, or coffee at the nearest coffee shop. It came from knowing we were all surviving together, and no ONE person was better or had more then the next person. It came from knowing that kid you met at the playground or schoolyard may have a life just a little worse off than you, and that love also came from respect. Respecting each other’s strength and ability to survive life.

On those streets I learned to LOVE, respect and be LOYAL.

No matter if it was the store owner, police officer, crack dealer, prostitute or the business owner, we recognized and respected everyone. Although I knew a “not so right in the head person when I saw one” I was raised to always say “Hello, good morning, thank you sir/ms…., yes please, excuse me” Which ever was appropriate at the time.

Most days it was the neighborhood criminals that gathered us together at the ice cream truck to treat us to cones, sometimes seconds, or showed up in the park on special days like Christmas or Easter handing out quarters. I saw them as “normal” people. To be honest I, for some reason always took a special liking to the “criminals” as society would call them. They often sat us down at the park benches to speak wisdom and knowledge to us. I never once thought “What do you know?” I saw it as “They had a good mommy and daddy who taught them all this stuff” They had love deep inside and wanted to share it, only there was no one who gave them the time of day, outside of the youth.

Today, I’m 34 years old and still to this date I have never experienced that genuine, deep LOVE I had on the streets as a child growing up. Where I learned to be loyal and do unto others as you wish they do unto you.

I will never forget where I came from and why I’AM THE WOMAN I’AM today. A survivor!
The next time you sit next to a drug addict on a park bench, or walk by a young single mother with 3 crying babies, or a homeless man/woman asking for change, STOP to say hello and smile. That man, woman, boy or girl needs, breaths and desires love just like YOU. They have a story. A story that is worth hearing.


o Regent Park Revitalization is a six-phase, 15-year, $1-billion strategy that will transform Canada's largest publicly funded community into a healthier mixed residential community for 12,500 people in 5,115 units. The first Regent Park tenants move into their new homes in May 2009.

o Phase one of the revitalization will include approximately 640 market condominiums and 340 mixed social housing units in the area bordered by Parliament, Oak, Sackville and Dundas Streets.

o The Daniels Corporation is the developer/partner with Toronto Community Housing for all phases of the revitalization. Daniels oversees the design of the new buildings, will build all the buildings and will also sell the market condominiums.

o Phase one includes a mix of commercial tenants such as Sobeys, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Tim Hortons and Rogers Communications.

o The revitalized Regent Park will be a green community. Lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy savings will be achieved by constructing buildings that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Regent Park Energy Inc. will operate a district energy system that delivers high efficiency heating and cooling to all buildings in Regent Park.

o 380 households from phase one - about 1,160 residents - were relocated. All residents who are relocated to make way for demolition and construction have the right to return once new buildings are completed. All moving and related costs are paid by Toronto Community Housing.

o Construction on phase one began in 2006. The first new rental buildings will be ready for occupancy this spring and summer, and OneCole, the first condominium, will be ready for move-in this fall.

o Regent Park residents helped shape the phase two plan through a consultation process that began in fall 2008.

o The community will learn more about the phase two rental buildings and timelines through community meetings and newsletters.