Catherine McLean Freelance Writer

Is all-day kindergarten worth having an exhausted child?

Published December 14, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

When the teachers at Toronto's St. Thomas More Catholic School flick the lights on and off to signal the end of playtime, the senior kindergartners put away the toys and sweep up the sand.

Around this time, most kids in the city would be leaving. But these children wash their hands and sit down at their pint-sized tables for lunch. They will stay at school until 3:15, just like the older children.

“I wish I was a big kid,” says Sarai, an outgoing, slight girl who likes playing with the kitchen toys. “I wish I was in Grade 3.”

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Handing off the business

Published December 10, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

This could be somewhere in Europe. Thin lace curtains - no modern minimalism here - cover the front window of Fabian's Café.

Inside, in preparation for Christmas, the bakery's shelves are stocked with goodies such as fanciful gingerbread houses and sugar-covered loaves of stollen, along with Black Forest cakes topped with whipped cream.

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Saving for a child's education is a wiser choice than other gifts

Published December 9, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

It's never too late to start saving for a child's education, and there's no better time than amid the annual holiday-spending spree.

With rising education costs, perhaps this year it's time to take more of a cue from tight-fisted Scrooge and less from present-obsessed Santa and put some dollars into that piggy bank for learning.

It can be hard for some parents to save for their child's education due to other financial commitments, but it's a worthwhile investment.

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Always the best seller

Published November 30, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

This is unexpected.

Sitting before me, Heather Reisman, slim and immaculately dressed in chic black, is nevertheless neatly popping bits of marshmallow into her mouth as she passionately defends how these $12.99 candies made it to her elite Heather's Picks list.

Out of thousands of books and specialty food items in her bookstores, these caramel-coated marshmallows received Ms. Reisman's seal of approval. But I'm a disappointed customer and tell her so. They're too expensive and well, just not that tasty.

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Here comes the neighbourhood

Published November 20, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

Kevin MacKinnon knows all about the privileged world of the rich. His workplace is one of the posh hotels in Yorkville, the kind where high-maintenance Hollywood actors stay.

A front-desk manager, he looks the part, neatly turned out with clipped blond hair, a grey pinstripe suit and plaid tie. He is 26, friendly, a Kingston boy doing well in the big city.

And he just bought his first home, a one-bedroom condo - in Regent Park.

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Calamity sinks dreams in the deep freeze

Published November 13, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

For Chapman's Ice Cream, Sept. 4, 2009, started off like countless other days, its factory cranking out frozen lollies and yogurt cones in the final warm weeks of summer.

Owner Penny Chapman sat in on the daily morning meeting with the rest of the senior management team. When a shrill fire alarm sounded at 10 a.m., she found it more annoying than alarming. As everyone filed out of the building, she figured she would soon be back at her desk finishing a report.

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Baby's birth prompts estate planning

Published November 4, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

Like many young couples, Jeffrey and Michelle Levine waited until the arrival of their baby girl before making a will.

As parenthood shifted their priorities, establishing an estate plan moved to the top of their to-do list. The newfound urgency is common among new parents: the Levines wanted to make it clear who would take care of little Robyn if they both were to die prematurely.

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The will for a will

Published October 28, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

The perfect wedding is over, the dream honeymoon now just a memory. What’s a young couple with some extra time on their hands to do?

How about writing their will. It may not be romantic, but it’s one of those tasks newlyweds can’t ignore if they want to protect each other in the event one of them unexpectedly dies. A will can help in many ways, whether it’s making sure the estate’s assets are distributed to the intended recipients, or ensuring the widowed spouse has immediate access to funds.

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Burger chain sizzles in the Fat East

Published October 27, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

The Pacific Place mall in the centre of a buzzing Hong Kong can boast of having the world's top brands as its residents.

Shoppers can pick up trendsetting fashion from the likes of France's Celine and Chanel or timeless jewels from Italy's Bulgari. And when they're hungry they can indulge themselves a bit more with a Triple O's burger from Canada.

Triple O's? Admittedly, the name may not ring a bell with Canadians living east of Alberta, let alone overseas. But that hasn't stopped this brand from going where other compatriots often fear to tread: abroad.

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Social media can pull in clients

Published October 20, 2009 in The Globe and Mail

After exchanging greetings, the first thing I do when I get digital marketing guru Mitch Joel on the phone is fess up: I have no blog, no Facebook account, nothing beyond basic e-mail.

"You're the one," he says. "I found the patient zero."

But he doesn't question my old-fashioned Web habits; he's used to preaching to the unconverted when it comes to doing business on the Web.

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