Fall Half-Bites and J.J. Bean Coffee Roasters

As a kid, I used to peel the Pillsbury Crescent Roll label off, then hit the can against the kitchen counter, in the same way as the actor in the TV commercial.

I think I hoped that the giggling Pillsbury Doughboy would jump out with outstretched arms onto our counter. But it never happened.

Since those days of having fun shaping and baking crescent rolls, I’ve been exposed to croissants made in some of the finest cafes and bakeries around.

This almond croissant, from J.J. Bean (Coffee Roasters), is a delight. It’s so big, you can use a knife and fork to devour it.

I absolutely hate biting into an almond croissant that’s more pastry than almond.

The light, flaky pastry is  jam-packed with almond paste and sprinkled with powdered sugar and toasted, crunchy almonds. But surprisingly, this treat is not too sweet.

Copyright © 2015 – 2020

Words by HB


Summer Bites and Kid lee Food

When I was a kid, my mother tried to coax me to eat lettuce and tomato salads at family meals. But I just wasn’t interested.

Cole slaw has never been a favorite either.

I’m not a fan of mayonnaise. From a young age, I was introduced to a mess of shredded cabbage and carrots (and sometimes raisins) at fast food restaurants. Those tasteless, slaws failed to entice my eye, my palate and my stomach.

Today, with the greater variety available in the grocery store, my idea of a salad has evolved beyond lettuce and tomato. A slaw is too labour intensive for someone like me to make, too. But when I first learned about the Asian Slaw Salad offered at Susur Lee’s Kid Lee in First Canadian Place, I knew I had to try it.

Vermicelli; daikon sprouts; pickled onion; micro greens in Asian Slaw Salad from Kid Lee.

Yellow flower petals adorned a colorful mound of julienned vegetables. I added a plentiful side order of sweet, oven-cooked pineapple chunks to my meal. And ended up taking half the side order home and serving it with a mix of vegetables a day later.  The colour, texture and crunch of the different vegetables included micro greens, carrots, pickled onion, daikon sprouts, tomatoes and crunchy  vermicelli.

At first bite, the slaw tasted a little too sweet for me. But as I burrowed down through the 19 different ingredients, I discovered a tangy flavor that enhanced the salad’s flavor. I wondered if the slaw needed another toss from the bottom to mix the plum dressing a little more.

I’ll keep the slaw salad in mind for the next time I’m hungry and looking for a quick, food court lunch at First Canadian Place. It’s definitely worth another try. Kid Lee has provided me with incentive to eat more salads. I’m sure Mum would be pleased.

Kid Lee, 1 First Canadian Place, 100 King Street W.

Click the link here for more information.

Words by HB

Copyright © 2015 – 2020


Summer (…Almost)!

The temperature has dipped around here. But for a few fleeting days it actually felt like summer would make an early appearance.

A few days ago, I stepped out to experience some new places in the city and discovered Arctic Bites on Baldwin Street in downtown T.O.

Some of my best times in the summer are associated with ice cream. So, I thought why not try an ice cream roll? The icy treat is inspired by street food from Thailand. I ordered a blueberry lavender ice cream roll with crumbled waffle bits and a drizzle of condensed milk and blueberry syrup  The experience combined food and theatre.

Hand rolled blueberry lavender ice cream roll; Arctic Bites; icy treat

It was a visual treat to watch the ice cream artist splash blueberry syrup on a flat, frigid surface. Then her colleague brought over a white liquid — the ice cream — and she blended it with the blueberry syrup.

The liquid  ice cream transformed into creamy ice shards on the cold, flat surface. The artist then rolled the mixture flat and cut it into long vertical strips. Her colleague then rolled it up into individual ice rolls or Arctic Bites and placed them in a cup garnished with whipped cream, and a bamboo stick with three blueberries.

My Arctic Bite tasted of ice milk with subtle flavors of lavender and blueberry. I enjoyed it! And I particularly enjoyed eating my ice cream rolls while sitting outside on a bench in the not-quite summer sunshine.

Arctic Bites, 21 Baldwin Street

To find out what’s on the menu at Arctic Bites, visit the website here.

Copyright © 2015-2020

Words by HB


An Ice-Breaker  Teaches Participants About Themselves


When I teach memoir or creative writing, whether to college students or seniors, I often introduce an ice-breaker.

Sometimes I ask students to name a favorite film. Its purpose is about more than just getting participants to connect. I believe the things we love and the things that move us, can teach us about ourselves.

Shawshank Redemption is a favorite film of mine. The  1994 movie stars Tim Robbins (Andy DuFresne) and Morgan Freeman (Red) and it’s about hope, integrity and the strength of the human spirit.

It didn’t win an Oscar. But it’s unforgettable. There are so many lessons in this movie situated in a 1947 Maine prison.

One of my favorite scenes takes place when Andy, a convicted murderer and banker, who is sentenced to two, consecutive life terms, finds an LP of  Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Andy locks a prison guard in the bathroom and broadcasts the opera over the prison’s P.A. system.

Everyone across the prison yard comes to a standstill to listen. And for a few precious seconds, Andy settles back in a chair and allows the music to transport him as far from the prison as possible. Until the warden and prison guards arrive.

Although Andy was incarcerated, he was still free in his  mind and soul. Confronted with beauty, he made the decision to appreciate it. I hope I will also, always choose beauty as a sanctuary.



Copyright © 2015 – 2020

Words by HB


Long Way Down: Who Would Think A One-Minute Elevator Ride Can Change A Life?

People are talking about Jason Reynolds, the 33-year-old author of Long Way Down.

I’ve been hearing about this charismatic author for awhile so I picked up his latest book. The story of 15-year-old Will Holloman, who steps into an elevator with a gun tucked into the back of his pants, received a 2017 National Book Award nomination in the U.S.

Will takes the ride of his life when he plans to avenge his older brother’s death. The ghosts of gun violence past, join Will, at different floors as the elevator descends to the lower level.

Written in verse, Reynolds tells a compelling story. Long Way Down is a quick read. But make no mistake, this story of urban violence and social rules, makes an impact.

For more info about Reynolds, click the link:



Copyright © 2015 – 2021


Finding Your Artistic Voice

Ashley Barron, Artist in Residence at the Toronto Public Library, recently discussed her artistic evolution, at her workshop on finding your voice.

As a pony-tailed child, Barron’s art included drawings and paintings of unicorns and rabbits.

While she’s still enchanted by animals, Barron has stretched to create beautiful, bold and precise, multi-layered, vividly colored, paper-cut collages of children and adults for picture books.

Her artistic growth has been inspired by:

Blex Bolex;

Charley Harper;

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

I’ve taught voice in creative writing classes. And I’ve come to realize that  voice is intertwined with life purpose. Both voice and purpose are about awareness and the need to express individuality in a creative way.

I became a writer because I’m curious about people, language and ideas.

Often, when writing creatively, it’s because a moment in time has sparked my imagination. I might explore an idea further to try to understand it or to answer a question.

We’re all artists. Art can be created in admiration. Art can also be an act of rebellion. With dissatisfaction there is the desire to create something better.

The artist picks up the paintbrush; the camera; the writing implement;  the gardening tool; the pastry brush or the laptop. The artist uses the available tools and responds by creating.

Artists compel the audience to pause for a moment; to take another look; to think; to feel and to respond in their own way with their own creative expression.

Copyright ©  2015 – 2021


Parents gathered over juice and snacks at a north Toronto family centre to read picture books and discuss ways to help children connect with their emotions.

In a recent, Read With Me workshop, grandparents, parents and caregivers are introduced to both classic and new children’s picture books.

Books promote empathy for others.  I designed this emotional literacy workshop to help adult participants learn ways to engage children with stories; identify the picture book characters’ emotions along with their own and also, develop ways to share their personal stories and challenges with the children in their lives.

In the Information Age, we’re inundated with the distractions of technology. We also have the obligations and responsibilities of work; school; family and friends.

When we’re busy, there’s little time for self-reflection. But books can help. Books can provide both quiet solace and opportunities to engage and connect.

My hope is that in the Read With Me workshop, parents, grandparents and caregivers will find time, amidst the demanding whorl of life’s responsibilities to help children understand their emotions; be more self-aware and compassionate toward others.

Juice and snacks donated by François No Frills. Groundwood Books generously donated A Family Is A Family Is A Family written by Sara O’Leary. Illustrations by Qin Leng; Uncle Holland, words by Jon Arno Lawson and illustrations by Natalie Nelson; Town Is By The Sea. Text by Joanne Schwartz. Illustrations by Sydney Smith.  The Canadian Children’s Book Centre also donated books and magazines. Every workshop participant received Loris Lesynski’s Boy Soup plus Children’s Book News and Best Books for Kids & Teens 2017.


Copyright © 2015-2021


“Be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.”

— Charles Dickens

Congratulations to a winning health care client, recently awarded  recognition at the 2017 Shared Health Services Ontario (HSSO) Achieving Excellence Together (June) Conference. As the originator of the four award submissions, I happily share in my client’s success.

In my role as a communications specialist, I used my skills to showcase the many ways this organization’s culture harnesses the talents of individuals, working together, to put patients and families first.

My award nomination submissions highlighted the professional and compassionate, health care delivery services of individual staff, teams, departments and their initiatives. I interviewed sources, reviewed the organization’s publications; website; business plan and key messages to create compelling, informative and engaging content.

It continues to be exciting for me to use my skills to help clients recognize, value and celebrate staff achievements. It’s the people that make an organization. It’s the acknowledgement of their commitment, their time and considerable efforts that increases their engagement and encourages them to continue to grow and improve in value.

Copyright © 2015-2021


Celebrating This Land And Our Creative Makers

It’s Canada’s 150th !

The recognition of Canada’s 150th year of Confederation brings with it an opportunity to get out and see this vast country this summer.

For some, Canada’s 150th is a time for celebration and fireworks. For others, it’s an opportunity to pause and reflect on the atrocities committed, against other human beings, all in the name of nation building.

When I landed a copywriting assignment to describe a series of contemporary art installation projects in Canada’s national parks, the project opened my eyes to the expansive beauty of this land. And the creativity and diverse perspectives of Canada’s artists.

Make a virtual trip to LandMarks 2017 then plan a real-world trip this June. You’ll learn more about Canada’s history, this land and its creative makers. And perhaps you’ll view Canada with fresh eyes.

Copyright © 2015-2019