this blog is dedicated to health, wellness and beauty
I hope it inspires you

I'm baaaaaack.........

what a ride.......happy to be back!! So grateful to be blessed with good health, and two wonderful, successful, caring and supportive kids who are the centre of my universe.
I landed a pretty terrific job that has kept me busy these past 5+ years.....I'm able to use all my skills and creativity on a daily basis.....I wanted to come back to share my skills, to connect with like minded individuals who simply don't have the time to get everything done at home.  There just are not enough hours in the day!
I'm ready to be of service.......whether it's meal prepping, errand running, house sitting, organizing events......urbanmaven can do just about anything....sounds fantastical but it is true.


Chia Breakfast Parfait

Omega's, Protein, Vitamin C for breakfast.
Looks so pretty sitting in your fridge just waiting for you.....

Simple to make:

  • make the chia pudding.....2 cups almond milk to 1/2 cup chia seeds.  Combine the two the night before. big fyi: Stir the chias into the almond milk, stir often until the seeds plump up. Leave covered in the fridge overnight.
  • Purchase your freshest fruit of choice and layer in a glass. It's fun to see the layers :)
  • You can even puree some of the fruit as one layer
  • Top with favourite granola.....or chopped raw nut mix 
  • I then place a piece of cling film overtop each glass.....these will keep for at least 2 or 3 days
  • The 2 cup almond milk to 1/2 cup chia seeds will make 6-8 parfaits, depending on the size of your glass 
  • Good morning sunshine.....

Poached Pears in Red Wine

I love this dessert.....it could well be one of my favourites!
Pears can be poached in either red OR white wine......I prefer to poach mine in red wine, and I also consider this a fall/winter dessert....must be the burgundy colour of the pears and the subtle wintry spices that evoke the first brisk autumn night or a cold winters eve.....
I recently made these this past February....they were a hit.....in fact, a friend and excellent caterer called them 'superb' ooh la la....
Very simple to make, though a couple key steps are crucial:

  • Choose ripe but firm, unblemished Bosc pears, Bosc are best....they won't disintegrate in the poaching process (nod to Martha there)
  • Choose pears that have their stems firmly intact! this will be key upon presentation
  • Before poaching, Trim the end of the pear, the root end and NOT the stem end :) You want to cut the end off so that the poached pear will stand upright on the plate without falling over
  • Seemlessly in one stroke trim the pears of their skins
  • Pears are best made ONE DAY IN ADVANCE
  • I must admit the recipe is part Julia Child and part Martha Stewart
  • Purchase a decent medium body red or white wine, one that you would drink. If going for red wine, anything NOT pinot noir as it won't give the nice depth of colour you are looking for and lacks flavour substance
  • One bottle will do 6-8 pears 
  • Into a large soup kettle combine the bottle of wine, one recipe simple syrup, see below,  and enough water to just submerge the pears (you don't want to dilute the wine with too much water)
  • Add to the pot: 1 cinnamon stick, 4 juniper berries, if you have on hand, 6 whole cloves, and one star anise
  • Set a piece of parchment on top of the submerged pears (cut to the size of your pot) Cover pot with lid
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat immediately to a slow simmer. Stir the pears every now and then so that they colour evenly. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, when you think they are done (just soft) insert a sharp knife to check. You don't want the pear mushy, the knife should insert easily but should still be a bit firm
  • Remove pot from heat. Remove lid from pot but leave the parchment. Continue to stir the pears until they cool off, ensuring even red wine colour distribution. 
  • Once cool.....place the whole pot in the fridge overnight (return lid to the pot) 
  • Next day: 
  • Carefully with spoon, remove the pears from poaching liquid, stand up cut end down
  • Simmer the poaching liquid and reduce to a syrupy consitency
  • Serve the pears on a plate or wide shallow bowl.....stand the pear, drizzle reduced syrup over pear to form a small pool on plate
  • Dollop of soft whipped cream or creme fraiche alongside the pear
  • Can shave best dark chocolate over all (optional)
  • Fork and spoon, both are necessary......fork to spear and hold the pear steady, spoon to gather speared fruit, syrup and whipped cream in one delicious mouthful
  • Bon Appetit 
  • x
Simple syrup
as per Julia Child:
"the rule for poaching syrup: the proportions for a fruit poaching syrup are always 1 1/2 cups sugar for each quart of liquid - water or wine or 6 Tbsp sugar per cup of liquid " 
(in the above instance i used water) 



small things handyman services


recent testimonial


April 19, 2010



I came back to Toronto in mid February of this year to begin packing up our very large family home for a move. We’d been there over 22 years and every room was full. In the middle of this I was also moving one of my sons. A friend recommended that Gabrielle might be of some assistance.
It was better than having the perfect wife.

She was smart and resourceful and pulled together lots of things that I couldn’t even begin to deal with. She interviewed companies that hold content sales and selected the best possible one. She then coordinated with the company and even worked the day of the sale to keep an eye on things for me. This was one of the many types of tasks she did. She was willing to tackle anything I asked of her.

The bonus was, when I was looking for an apartment for my son, she was able to send me listings, as she is also a real estate agent. All I can say is that she is beyond capable, pleasant and drama free. I am happy to have met and worked with her and would not hesitate to call upon her again. If you need further references, do not hesitate to call.

Best regards,

Lori McGoran


Happy Holidays 2009 ""reduce renew reuse recycle""

Very best wishes for the holiday season and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

One small holiday recycling tip--something I've been doing for years now........
Save the christmas cards you receive, come wrapping time next year......use the illustration side of the card as a gift tag.


roast those pumpkin seeds when carving the pumpkin

hi I'm posting this recipe again, just in time for Hallowe'en........
when carving the pumpkin this year-don't forget to save the seeds to roast and eat as a delicious and nutritious snack. Pumpkin seeds = good source of zinc and magnesium which is beneficial to the skin and bones.To roast:Place the seeds into large bowl, toss with olive oil, and sea or kosher salt. Spread the seeds onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place into preheated 400 degree oven. Roast until golden brown * at this high temperature about 5-8 minutes, keep your eye on them. (turn the seeds half way through roasting)


fast and deelicious pizza

Yummmm I used to make this pizza often when the kids were small, loading it up with all kinds of veg
I made it just the other night simply with a ton of sauteed red peppers and purple onion

-1 'Manoucher' round Focaccia
-your favourite tomato sauce ( i like to keep on hand Pusateri's sauce semplice or Ronzoni's tomato basil)
-1 large red pepper, organic
-1 large purple or white onion, organic
-shredded mozzerella cheese, organic

Preheat oven to 375 or 400, depending on the 'hotness' of your oven (you want the oven fairly hot, it will bake for a very short time)
Slice the red pepper and onion, then saute quickly over high heat with a bit of olive oil
Remove from heat
Spread a somewhat generous amount of tomato sauce on the focaccia
Spread the mozzerella over the tomato sauce
Then finally spread the sauteed peppers and onion

Place the pizza on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
Place in the oven until the pizza starts to bubble and you can smell it cooking
***About 7 to 8 minutes, not long at all
Remove from oven, let sit for 1/2 minute
Finish the pizza off with a seasoning of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
don't forget the glass of red wine


a quick 'how to' perform Lunges with weights


"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." William Morris 1834-1896

I love that William Morris quote, I try to live by it. It has helped me to free our house of clutter and keep only the things we love and are truly useful.
Recently, urbanmaven was hired to help prioritze and declutter family possessions. Things that are left behind when loved ones pass. It can be an overwhelming task, but when one is ready to let go of the clutter, having someone there to give support and perspective to reveal and keep the most cherished possessions; is invaluable.

We worked all day, and really got the ball rolling.

I wanted to include her website address for anyone seeking doggie daycare, overnight or just for the day. She is an animal lover and all dogs are welcomed into her home as though they are her own. She is located in Markham. Her website address is: http://www.shangri-paw.ca/


ode to Bonnie

It was one year ago today that we let our Bonnie girl go
Our memorial to Bonnie, the sweetest dog (written Aug 27, 2008)

Our Bonnie
gave us 15 years of her sweetness
She ran like the wind
She was gentle in spirit and soul
She loved other dogs and would be the first from the pack to greet the new arrival. She was so pretty, so dainty, just like a doe in the forest. She was SMART. She loved her brother Micky, may they be together now. She loved her cookies. She loved salmon. She accepted Dewey the CAT into the household no questions asked. She loved us so much. And let it be known that Sam and Isobel helped to take the VERY best care of her from puppyhood to her very last day. Never did Bonnie miss a walk, come rain or shine Sammy and Iso were there for her no matter what.

There were many things Bonnie didn't like:

The proverbial postman
Riding in the car
Going to the vet
Having her nails trimmed

Some things Bonnie did well:

Love us
Run like the wind
Catch a ball

Bonnie lived proudly, majestically, gently. I love her and will miss her greatly. We love you Bonnie, Bon Bon, TaLouLou, LoulaMay, Girl xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Gabrielle, Peter, Sam and Iso


where i will be 2010

I've always wanted to see Venice........

Next spring my daughter graduates with an Honours BA from Queen's, she's planning a trip to Europe with a couple of girl friends to celebrate.

She invited me to meet her somewhere for a week..........

we're meeting in Venice.


where does our food come from??

For the past many, many years I've shopped for our meat organically; for the sake of our health, the environment and maybe most importantly in my mind-- for the sake of the animals!
I'm not convinced we need meat in our diet to be 'healthy'/ to be balanced protein-wise.
We (kids, Peter and I) saw Food Inc
GO SEE IT then tell everyone you know to see it
It's a real eye opener
I want to do something more than just not buying commercial, highly processed meat. I wish everyone of us would view this movie.

Help the animals, save the planet, preserve your health


plant based household cleaners

We (at my house ) love these 2 cleaning products, choose either the trendsetter ECOVER www.ecover.com/ca/en or Mrs. Meyer's http://www.mrsmeyers.com/

Both are plant based and CRUELTY FREE

Save the animals, save the environment

Be a caretaker


Here is a very worthwhile cause; proceeds go to The Princess Margaret Hospital in support the advancement of cancer research.
With gardening season in full swing you may be dividing your overgrown perennials.........
If so, drop these divisions off to 240 Wychwood Ave for the PERENNIAL PLANT SWAP AND SALE, and SILENT AUCTION
SALE: MAY 31 9AM rain or shine
drop plants off Thursday Friday May 28 & 29, after 7pm
or Saturday all day
***don't forget to label plants for name; sun or shade
For further info check their website http://www.divideconquer.ca/

Hope to see you there!



Thank you, thank you, thank you urbanmaven and your wonderful organizational talents that helped make our move across country to Vancouver Island as seamless as possible. I cannot recommend your relocation services enough. From the inital selection of movers, dealing with insurance, the careful overview of the packing of our treasured pieces you made a potentially fraught move into an easy transition. And as we sat in our then empty condominium, you surprised us with a bottle of my favourite Okanagan red (how did you know?). You sent us off in style and worry free to start our new life in B.C.
You're not just a maven, you're a marvel.
Caroline & David Dvorchik


Diamonds - catch the final episode Sunday April 12 on cbc 9pm

Diamonds examines the devastating consequences of corrupt trading, regardless of the context. The story could equally be set in the oil, electronics or clothing industry with a similar theme. In the mini-series, a chain of intimate stories depict the larger picture. It is the childlike perspective of young soldiers abandoned to the world, the America-centric perspective of a Republican Senator learning about herself in the context of her government’s foreign policy, and a Shakespearean take on the father-son relationship in a family whose wealth is built on diamonds. It’s also about an affair between a white South African and a Black model who becomes ensnared in the family drama and the political implications of her actions. Lastly, it’s the ambiguous perspective of a young female geologist in Canada, who battles to reconcile her passion to find diamonds with the moral significance of her obsession. Each character, in their own way, becomes obsessed.
James Bawden (former television reviewer for The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star) says of the series on his blog:
"Diamonds is worth your time. The narrative (David Vainola wrote it) effortlessly skips back and forth from Washington to London to South Africa and the piece is chock full of violent, disturbing incidents. But it's not just about diamond mining --it's about greed, the corruption of petty dictatorships, the ruthlessness of the diamond cartel. There are some romancing scenes but they are interspersed with chilling reminders of the cheapness of human lives when millions of dollars are at stake."




with her 'acute eye' had the opportunity
to help hang this show for artist Chris Johnson
such a pleasure
Take a stroll down the ever-bustling Spadina Ave to Adelaide St, hang a right and just steps in from Spadina arrive at Launch Projects Gallery

You've not seen work like this, so refreshing, so talented


Earth Hour Saturday March 28

I will be participating in this important iniatiative on Saturday night
check it out



earth's energy and a good night's rest - update

well since moving my bed to a north/south longitude.........the room feels more restful.......i walk into the room and 'feel' relaxed ahhh........
but the true test was the quality of sleep
i hope I'm not counting my chickens but this is the second night of less tossing and turning, AND
uninterrupted sleep......oh sweet sleep
there really is something to this I think
if you have the capability in your bedroom to move your bed to sit on this north/south longitude........I seriously recommend it.