All posts by Rachael Forgeron

Donor Spotlight


-His son’s generosity prompted his own- 

Jeff became involved with the YW when he and his 16 yeadonor picr old son took a trip through the YW’s Cardboard House at the mall. As they walked through the end of it, Jeff watched his son empty, and then donate the contents of his wallet. No one should have to live without shelter his son said.

As the Principal of St. Paul’s Catholic High School, Jeff is well aware of their mandate: make a long-term difference in the community. On the spot, Jeff decided to make that commitment to the YW by becoming a monthly donor. Personally, Jeff will always remember that moment with his son. But as Principal of St.Paul’s, his favourite moment with the YW was when the Cardboard House came to their school.

He remembers watching the look of transformation and understanding on the students’ faces as they came together to learn about poverty and homelessness in their community. “You’re either a part of the solution or a part of the problem”, Jeff says; “I strongly believe that in our civilized society no one should have to go without the basic necessities of life. I think we don’t take the problem of homelessness personally enough. Imagine that man on the street was your brother or father, then you would give back, too”.

Question of the Month – Healthy Eating

At our Blogger’s meeting this month we talked a lot about the various forces at work behind every food purchase we make: the cost of the item, convenience, perceived nutrition, packaging, location in the grocery store, the media! It’s a wonder we are able to find anything other than kale that makes all the criteria we hear we should follow. We talked too, about how we’re not forced to become aware of what we’re putting in our cart until something happens to stop and make us think: poverty, health issues, an eedp_ed_09_08_2014_YWCA-0044ye-opening documentary. How much sugar is in ketchup? Is it really more expensive to buy fresh produce? And how in the world did someone come up with the marketing genius idea of bottled water? We were inspired to write about these issues because of our Finer Diner event coming up at the end of the month (more info here). Where for two $85 tickets you can have your five course meal,  but you can also feed a woman and her child for an entire month. It’s all about awareness and being an educated consumer!

We’ve got some really interesting posts coming up that bring to light some of the more serious obstacles to healthy eating; poverty, for one. We began to truly wonder:

Is healthy eating accessible to everyone?


Yes, I think healthy eating is accessible to everyone. For a while I was challenging myself to stick to a $25/week grocery budget and was able to make healthy foods to feed me for a week within this budget. It does require a little more time and creativity but people on all budgets can really make it work if the motivation is there. One of my tips would be to pick a few select fruits and vegetables for that week and then find different recipes to make with them rather than shaping your grocery list around your recipes. Beansprouts are a great option at aroundDSC_0383 $0.99 a bag and can be used in many different ways, chickpeas are another low-cost, high-nutrition item and frozen vegetables and fruits can help you stay healthy while sticking to a budget (and preventing any food loss). Also, don’t be afraid to use coupons and apps like Checkout 51 to help make your grocery budget go farther!


Yes.  However, eating healthy also depends on how resourceful and creative you are when faced with a tight budget.  This is coming from someone who doesn’t cook  – but is frugal and wants her money to go a long way.

With eating well a top priority in our household, we look at the weekly flyers for sale items and begin to plan our menu for the week from there – I must admit, it takes planning.  Now with the warmer weather, we have planted our vegetable and herb gardens – where sun-warmed fresh produce will soon be ours for the picking.  No room for a garden – visit your local farmer’s market downtown!  Living in Niagara has its advantages.

At our downtown St. Catharines Market Square – you get a variety of fresh, local produce and in smaller quantities – FarmersMarketwhich is great, and allows for more variety too.  They even let you sample before buying – I love that!

Good food is an investment in your health – it is worth the effort and time spent sourcing out the best prices and looking for quality ingredients – then spending the time preparing your own meals.


Friday Find – Friday, May 22nd 2015

Mother’s Day Video


Today’s Friday Find is a beautiful video about what kids really think about their Moms. Laugh. Cry. Watch, here.

Getting to Know You: Mother’s Day Edition

This month we’ve got a Mother’s Day Edition of our Getting to Know you series. We’ve also get to introduce you to our new Blogger Laura, and Misette from our Board of Directors. Welcome!


Mother’s Day is spent honouring Moms…aside from a special day, what do you do to honour your mom year-round?

I try to honour my mom year-round by spending quality time with her and bringing her small, thoughtful gifts ‘just because’.

Dance-Like-Nobodys-Watching-at-the-AirportWould you share a funny story about your kids……or about your mom?

Funny stories come to mind involving her dancing like nobody was watching….like in the aisles of grocery stores when I was an easily-embarrassed teenager.

What gift of knowledge on motherhood would you give to women?  This question is not just for those that are mothers either.

There are few more influential positions to hold in this world than that of ‘mom’; remember how much impact your words and actions have on who your children are, and who they will become.

We all know you can’t pick your family…but if you could pick anyone in the world to be your Mom (and I’ll take the pressure off right now, it can’t be your own Mom) who would it be?  And if you could share why?

I honestly can’t think of any one person I could answer this question with because I am lucky to have many other great women who are fantastic moms in my life.

Mom-ism’s – we all got them, those certain words, gestures, little sayings, that when we hear, or find ourselves saying and doing – we are reminded of our moms – can you share your Mom-ism?

You’ll never know if you don’t try! 


Mother’s Day is spent honouring Moms…aside from a special day, what do you do to honour your mom year-round?

Visit my mother at the cemetery with family and friends.

What gift of knowledge on motherhood would you give to women?  This question is not just for those that are mothers either.

It would be patience and forgiveness.

We all know you can’t pick your family……but if you could pick anyone in the world to be your Mom (and I’ll take the pressure off right now, it can’t be your own Mom) who would it be?  And if you could share why?

Any one of my mother’s sisters because they are matriarchs.


Mother’s Day is spent honouring Moms…aside from a special day, what do you do to honour your mom year-round?

Laugh, the humour may be a bit offbeat, but I think I got the ability to laugh at myself and situations from my Mom. We still share that deep belly, tear-producing laughter that has your cheeks hurting when we get together.

Would you share a funny story about your kids…or about your mom?

Hard to pick just one story…which tells you a lot about my child-rearing skills, or lack thereof! There is one infamously funny morning that stands out, that I am sure 18 some odd years later Emilee (my youngest) will let me share in this space.

Ground work:

Car Rule #436 – Arlee rides in the front seat on EVEN days. Emilee rides in the front seat on ODD days. Admittedly, my desperate solution to the age old problem of having two children that constantly fought over the front seat status of riding shot-gun!

Kids fighting in the back of a car That is, until one fateful morning – let’s say June 1st – already running late for school, we three left the house in a flurry of activity, and proceeded to the car – where Arlee promptly sat herself down in the front seat. Stating at 9 years old, that this even, odd solution isn’t working for her – as when a month ends in 31st the new month begins on the 1st – Emilee unfairly get two days in a row of riding in the prestigious position of shot-gun. Well, she had me, apparently I hadn’t thought this rule through thoroughly enough.

However, Emilee, 7 at the time – let’s just say she took issue with her sister sitting in the front seat…on June 1st! Clearly her turn.

So at the top of her lungs,  – while others in the neighbourhood were also rushing into their cars – Emilee (and although small in stature, Emilee had, and still has, a great set of lungs) Yells, “Arlee get out of my seat” (and in reference to our Car Rule #436, which only means anything to the three of us), continues yelling “I am ODD, and I ALWAYS have been ODD!”

So, I had one smug daughter sitting in the front seat, and one clearly self-proclaimed ODD daughter. Think Donna – you have to get these girls to school and yourself to work within the next twenty minutes.

Car Rule #437……NO ONE sits in the front seats until they get their own car.

What gift of knowledge on motherhood would you give to women?  This question is not just for those that are mothers either.

My Mom never claims to be perfect, and would apologize to me if she made mistakes – I never claim to be perfect, and have a few apologies to my kids under my own belt, so I hope this gives my daughters the freedom to make mistakes, learn from them and move on – knowing I love and support them.

If I can share one thing – it would be don’t be hard on yourself, your mom or your children, it is okay to be imperfect.

And, that whole Even/Odd front seat car ride strategy, yeah that doesn’t work, 🙂 don’t do it!

Friday Find – Friday, April 17 2015

Pride Movie

Pride is a wonderful true story about a group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” rallying together to collect donations for rural miners in Thatcher-era England. It follows the story of activist Mark Ashton who sympathized with the miners’ plight: “We’ve been through some of the same things you’ve been through. Look, we raised this money because we want to help you and that’s it.”


Paleo 411: Eating Like a Caveman to Maximize Your Health

By Sozanny Chea

Sozanny is a transfer student in the Business Communication program at Brock University. Although an introvert, she’s quite the social (media) butterfly, hence her role as the Marketing Assistant at the university. She loves cats, Hootsuite, web design, tea, yoga, spinning, her Bichon x French Poodle, the Toronto Raptors, and anything that shines and glitters. Using creativity to tell stories, she aspires for a career in marketing and communications.

Contrary to popular belief, bacon and other fat-laden foods won’t make you fat—sugar, carbs, and a sedentary lifestyle will.

Diets and labels often go hand-in-hand. There are diets that eliminate entire food groups: vegan, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, pescatarian; fad diets: gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, carb-free; diets made famous by celebrities like the Lemonade Diet (Master Cleanse) that Beyoncé did for 14 days; and extremely ridiculous diets, like the Cabbage Diet or the classic Grapefruit Diet.paleo-plate

With so many options and choices regarding food—such a simple yet essential facet of our everyday lives—it’s no wonder that most of us are overwhelmed and confused about what to eat and what not to eat. One day, the media says fruits are good for you; the next day, not so much.

According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, 60 per cent of Canadians are overweight or obese. We are, as they say, “overfed and undernourished”. Even with this astounding reality, it’s no surprise that the diet and weight loss industry—a multi-million dollar money-making machine—will keep trying to sell us on Hydroxycut and the Ab Circle Pro.

So what, then, is the solution to all of this nonsense? Think back to our ancient ancestors and how they survived and sustained their hunter-gatherer days without any gadgets, gimmicks, pills or potions. They simply ate real, whole foods that were grown or hunted from the ground – no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or questionable “Frankenfoods” made in factories.

Introducing the Paleo Diet, also known as the Paleolithic Diet (think dinosaurs) or Caveman Diet, a simple and easy-to-follow concept about mimicking how our ancestors ate, moved and lived over 10,000 years ago, before cows were milked by machines and the invention of the Twinkie.

Can-You-Beat-MS-With-the-Paleo-Diet-722x406Essentially, you’re eliminating all processed and inflammatory foods from the modern S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) such as Frappuccinos and everything bagels, and replacing them with nutritious, healing foods such as smoked salmon frittatas and green smoothies that complement our bodies’ genetics.

It’s simple science; no calorie counting needed.

What to eat:

  • Meats – preferably free-range and organic (e.g. chicken, beef, wild-caught fish and seafood)
  • Vegetables – lots of leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach, swiss chard, parsley)
  • Fruits – choose low-GI (glycemic index) ones (e.g. berries, lemons, apples)
  • Healthy fats – don’t be afraid of fats, eat plenty (e.g. avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter, bacon)
  • Nuts and seeds – in moderation (our ancestors wouldn’t have had access to a tub of cashews)

What to avoid:

  • Grains (e.g. bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, cereal, muffins)
  • Artificial/refined sugar
  • Dairy (e.g. milk, yogurt, ice cream)
  • Legumes (e.g. beans, peanuts, lentils, soy: tofu, soy milk, vegan substitutes for meat)
  • Alcohol

It helps to think of food by nutrients and not by food groups, as the Canada’s Food Guide would like us to believe. You want to make sure that you’re eating an abundance of proteins and fats, while keeping carbohydrate intake to a minimum. Your protein source should come from meats and eggs, fats from the list above, and carbohydrates, mainly from leafy, green vegetables and one or two fruits.

The ironic thing is that you can eat all the broccoli you want and your carb count will still be lower than if you were to eat a bowl of instant noodles. To visualize it, your plate should be 80 per cent vegetables, 15 per cent protein, and 5 per cent fat. A lovely example would be a bowl of steamed spinach with chopped chicken breast and avocado drizzled with olive oil.

Here’s a sample meal plan so you can see how easy it is to eat Paleo in a day:

Breakfast: bacon, eggs, and a green smoothiepaleo_breakfast_recipe_egg_rosti_1

Lunch: lemon-infused chicken and steamed kale

Dinner: steak, asparagus, and mashed sweet potato

Snack: rolled turkey and apple slices

Following this natural, holistic way of eating will inevitably eliminate diseases such as obesity, leaky gut syndrome, migraines, chronic fatigue and more. Instead, you will be diagnosed with glowing skin, shiny hair, healthy nails, sparkling eyes, copious amounts of energy, amazing sleep, and excess weight that melts right off.

As with everything, make sure it works for you. Significant factors such as age, gender, occupation, activity level, and health issues should be considered. Even though the Paleo Diet comes pretty close, there is no one, perfect diet that every individual will thrive on. Tweak as necessary. Have “cheat meals” and get right back on track. Be mindful of moderation.

However, having astonishing health doesn’t stop with dinner—incorporate the Paleo way to how you eat, sleep, exercise, and manage stress. As cliché as it sounds, don’t think of it as a “diet”, but as a lifestyle. Eat clean, sleep well, move daily, and de-stress. Instead of putting emphasis on what you can’t eat, focus on the exciting new world of foods and flavours to introduce to your palate.


Creative Corner – Monday, April 13th 2015

DIY Wall Art


Changing up the artwork on your walls is an easy way to update your home decor this Spring! Change the throw pillows on your couch too, and you’ve got an entirely new look. We know art can be expensive, that’s why we’re loving Buzzfeed’s 39 DIY wall art projects.

Which one is your favourite?

Friday Find – Friday, April 9th 2015

Dove Beauty Video

We could all use a reminder once in a while to change the way we talk to ourselves. “My teeth are too yellow”, “My skin is so ugly” “I hate my body”. I do it, we all do it. In this video, Dove’s beauty campaign illustrates how nasty those comments sound when said out loud. What are your favourite things about yourself?

From My Hands to…?

bead 1As with about 95% of the population, I am too busy. Too busy to see my friends, too busy to cook enough healthy meals, too busy to know if I managed to remember to put my clothes in the dryer… Just, too busy. Do you ever feel that you have so many things running through your head that you wish, for a moment, you could find some zen and peace and quiet?

I think the only time I really find that place is at the end of the day, when I’ve picked up my beading, and the tiny droplets of glass beads tell me what to make out of them. At that point I am instantly transported to my happy place and can – quite literally – feel the day’s troubles melt away.

LEEDM.D.1960.0119At the risk of sounding too rhetorical, my love and fascination with beadwork – and why I consider it so much more than just a “hobby” – is the sensation that when I sew these tiny glass beads together to form a piece of beaded fabric, I am participating in a tradition that goes back thousands of years. When I first started learning different stitches and techniques, I couldn’t read enough about the evolution of beads and different styles and uses of beadweaving in different cultures. Ancient Egyptian, Grecian, Native American and then modern Art Deco and Art Nouveau: it was all so fascinating!

jewelry2Today I’m so fortunate that I have the opportunity to share what I love to do with others. I sell my jewellery online and at shows. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that someone will pay me real money for something I’ve made, but still think it’s pretty neat! Nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear someone say “Oh, that bracelet is SOO Aunt so-and-so; she’d just love it!”. I sometimes wish I could see the journey a piece takes: from inside my head, to my hands, and then shipped or traveled or given to it’s eventual owner. I’ve been able to send earrings to Norway, to Australia, and to all corners of the US and Canada. I truly believe that there is something magical about handmade goods. I know it sounds crazy, but I put a lot of heart (and blood, sweat and tears sometimes!) into every piece that I make. Sharing that, along with thousands of years of ancient tradition, is – for me – the neatest thing about handmade goods!  “From My Hands to Yours”

bead 2


Getting to Know You – Back to Basics

Every month our Bloggers choose three responses to a series of Questions we compile, called Getting to Know You. This month is all about getting Back to Basics, so we wanted to know:
  1. Name one modern convenience, the generation before you did not have, that makes your life easier.
  2. Recommend the one beauty product (natural or not) you cannot live without, and please tell us why.
  3. Finish this thought – I feel I get back to basics when?
  4. Have you ever experienced a time when you thought you were using something “natural or organic” and found out you weren’t?
  5. Finish this thought – I will never try to get back to basics by ____ ever again.
  6. Looking forward, what hasn’t been invented that would make your life easier?


Name one modern convenience, the generation before you did not have, that makes your life easier.

They call my office the Tropics. I think it’s why I’ve managed to keep the one and only plant that I’ve managed to keep alive, alive. Sometimes when someone stops by they almost physically recoil – sometimes they come for that purpose— to bask in the warmth of my mighty, incredible, soul warming space heater. I seriously don’t think I could get any work done without it—which is probably why no one has tried to steal it.

Recommend the one beauty product (natural or not) you cannot live without, and please tell us why.

 Two words: Coconut Oil. I’m new to it, but just absolutely amazed.

Seriously it’s everything from moisturizer to cooking oil and between. Want some tips? Check out Courtney Luper’s post on the “80 Totally Awesome Uses for Coconut Oil” here.

Looking forward, what hasn’t been invented that would make your life easier?jet

It’s a toss-up between a dryer that folds and sorts the massive amounts of laundry that miraculously three people in my household go through, or the Jetson’s “oven”. You know—the one that when I want something, but I don’t really know what I want, I can decide by just pressing a button to have it magically appear. (Let’s be honest nine times out of ten when you are indecisive it’s because you don’t feel like cooking) Or when my kid or husband is whining cause he’s hungry and I truly don’t feel like cooking- BAM, dinner is served.

Seriously, someone please get on this!


Recommend the one beauty product (natural or not) you cannot live without, and please tell us why.

Klorane Dry Shampoo. It saves me from washing and blow-drying my hair at least once or twice a week!

Finish this thought – I feel I get back to basics when:

I sit down to work on a piece of beadwork, and use stitching techniques that are thousands of years old.Cairo-collection

Looking forward, what hasn’t been invented that would make your life easier?

I’m totally cheating. But, I want what Carli said. 🙂


Name one modern convenience, the generation before you did not have, that makes your life easier.

 The Internet. The Internet and faster computers make my working life much easier, while at the same time, likely more complicated. I can do my banking online for example, and even deposit cheques without having to go to the bank. Well, I could if I set that app up on my phone, which I will do after I set aside some down time to finish updating all my programs on my many computers and electronics devices for the upteenth time this year. But seriously, it is difficult to believe the Internet has only been accessible to ordinary users for a little over 20 years. It has entirely changed my work and the industry I work in. Sadly, a lot of work now has to be done on the fly, with my deadlines shrinking in half. If only I was paid as fast as I work (I’m not)! Of course, there is the worry that work isn’t as thoroughly checked and rechecked as the old days when more time was allotted (it isn’t). But hey, on the Internet I can check a fact (most often correctly if I use my brain) in moments. And because I am so tied to my computer working all day, I can also do my shopping — ordering a book, or a pair of pants and have them delivered to my door the next day. How’s that for making life easier? Of course, I am a little worried about my ability to converse with a salesperson when shopping in person. Spend enough time on the Internet (for work or for pleasure) and you will start confusing inner monologue with public discourse.

Recommend the one beauty product (natural or not) you cannot live without, and please tell us why.

 DSC_05671-1024x682My hair care stash. It takes goop to tame my curly mane. And let me tell you, the days before creams, potions, mousses, de-frizzifiers, oils, treatments, serums and haircuts designed for kinky, wavy, curly, or frizzy hair, were not good days. They were the dark ages. Just go to the Internet and punch in Janis Joplin, or Tiny Tim. They died before “moisturizing curl cream” was invented. Curly tops of the past do not look like the lovelies so romantically depicted in film and television today. It takes a bit of goop and some “method” to make curly hair look good. So, do I have one product I can’t live without? Nope. I have a stash of products both “natural” (whatever that means) and produced via the most up-to-date chemical processes known to humankind. I can battle (sometimes successfully and with great ahem, “stability”) humid weather, rain, dry winters and indoor heating, the frizzes, limp sections, two days after cleansing, and four days after cleansing. You name it and I’ve got it or tried it. Although, if you want to know an actual product, of late, some of my favourites are: organic coconut oil (I can bake with this stuff too, or slather it on my body), John Masters Organics citrus and neroli detangler, John Masters Organics Shine On treatment, and Bumble and Bumble curl conscious defining creme.



Name one modern convenience, the generation before you did not have, that makes your life easier.

Spell Check

Finish this thought – I feel I get back to basics when..?

I put on my big, warm boots, go out to the backyard, grab the ax and split myself some fire wood

Looking forward, what hasn’t been invented that would make your life easier?