photo by Yersinia

photo by Yersinia

If you’re looking to make your sex life a little kinkier, but you’re daunted by the sometime high cost of the gear, fear not! Here are some BDSM-hacks that you can add to your holiday wish list without compromising your budget!

Instead of nipple clamps…
Nipple clamps are used to exert pressure or pain on the nipples (obvs!) but you can use them on the scrotum, the labia or any other place you might enjoy a little pinch.

Nipple Clamps

Try clothes pins!
Same great clamping action for a fraction of the price…or free if you have them lying around the house. The trade-off here is nipple clamps are adjustable, while clothes pins are a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. But since you can get a pack of 50 pins for under two bucks, you haven’t lost much if they don’t work out.

Clothes pins



Instead of a paddle…
Spanking paddles are made of various materials including wood, leather and plastic. They’re generally designed to look and sound like serious business, although you can use them to deliver a gentle pat as well as a full-on wallop.


Try a fly swatter!
They may not look as tough, but fly swatters are a mad-bargain. They rarely cost more than a dollar and they deliver quick the licking. If you’re looking for a firmer paddling but still want to pinch your pennies, consider a wooden cooking utensil. Slotted spatulas or one of the spoons with the hole in the middle are especially fun if you like making patterns when you spank!

Wooden spoon



Instead of a cock cage…
Chastity cages are a way of putting a submissive’s penis under someone else’s control. It doesn’t prevent an erections, but it does restrict a hard on, causing what some describe as erotic comfort. It also prevents access to penis, so if you get turned-on you can’t do anything about it until your play partner decides to release you

Chastity cage

Try a pet muzzle.
Chastity cages can be quite pricey. Pet muzzles, by comparison, are not – so if you’re curious about penile restraint but reluctant to make a big investment, this could be the low-cost option for you. Again, getting a precise fit will with a muzzle might be more of a challenge  but most feature adjustable straps, so you can play around and see what works best for your body.

Pet muzzle



Instead of the sex store…
No dis to the sex store. I’ve worked in one and I still shop at them all the time. When it comes to items like lube, safer-sex gear, books and most toys and good sex shop can’t be beat. And when you’re ready to invest in some good-quality, long-lasting kinky stuff, your friendly neighbourhood sex peddlers can hook you up proper. That having been said you might pay a premium for certain items.


Try the hardware store!
Some bondage basics can  be purchased at your local home improvement store. Rope, chains, hooks and certain types fasteners are all available at the hardware store. The aesthetics may be a bit more utilitarian, but the prices are usually pretty good. Also a trip to Home Depot is a bit more discreet for those that want to keep their kinky activities to themselves.

Home Depot

Instead of 50 Shades
For many readers, the 50 Shades trilogy opened up a whole world of kinky possibilities. Fiction can definitely inspire exciting ideas for sex in real life; however it isn’t necessarily intended to illustrate the “how-to” ness of kink.

50 Shades

Try SM 101!
This isn’t so much a money saving tip, but if you’re interested in BDSM practices, SM 101 will give you a lot of more bang for you book-buying buck. The subtitle of Jay Wiseman’s primer is “a realistic introduction”. And it is. SM 101 takes you through the basics of negotiation, physical and emotional safety, bondage, spanking, finding partners to play with and more. It’s the first book I ever read about kinky play and to this day it remains one of my favourites.

SM 101


So what’s on your sexy wish list this holiday? If you’re looking for more even more gift inspiration you can also check out my latest post over at The Yummy Mummy Club. Happy shopping!

Aaand…we’re back!

Life took my best laid plans to scale back my blogging and turned them into a full scale hiatus. On the bleak side, I was plagued by a brutal flu, followed by a less intense but super-icky cold. Worst of all was the sudden death of a beloved family member just a couple of days before Christmas.

But the holiday hasn’t all been sickness and sad. The MoMs and I managed to pull together a pretty swank Christmas dinner, complete with prime rib roast and a successful first attempt at Yorkshire puddings. We went for our first family snowshoe through Gatineau park. I’ve also got some pretty exciting plans for the new year in the works…but that’s a subject for another post!

Right now I’m just glad to be back writing in the adorkable realm. And since this will be my final post of 2012, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at my ten most popular posts from this past year, before taking the plunge into 2013!

Happy New Year, everyone!


1. My Favourite Things: Elvgren Pin Up Girls

2. It’s Not You, It’s Me. Well Actually, It’s Them

3. My Favourite Things: The Lelo Smart Wand (Video Review)

4. Plight of the Topless Woman

5. My Book Report On 50 Shades Of Gray

6. Why I Don’t Oppose Sex Selective Abortion

7. My Favourite Things: 50 Shades Of Snark

8. My Favourite Things: Dr. NerdLove

9. Sorry, But…

10. Princesses Are People Too. Why Kate Middleton Had Every Right To Be Topless.



Don’t worry. There will be no fantasy prose filled strained erotic metaphors today. Just a few ensembles that are literally shades of gray. Gray is my go-to neutral. I’m almost always looking to inject some sort of colour into my outfits. And while black can be a fantastic option, sometimes it feels very stark in contrast to the bold hues I tend to wear.

Grey has the same drama and versatility as black, but it’s a softer option. It’s also more forgiving if you spill something on yourself. That’s an important consideration for me.

Dress: Two (thrifted). Earrings: Forever 21. Purse: Vintage. Shoes: Aerosoles

I nabbed this mini-frock from a local thrift store at 50% off. Between this and the dress I bought at the vintage show, I’m having a full-fledged fling with pleated hemlines this fall!

Jacket: Jacob. Sweater and Jeans: Old Navy. Boots: Miz Mooz

I used to be afraid of mixing patterns. But that’s silly. The worst possible outcomes are clashing and possibly ugliness. And the best-case scenario might result in a get-up I really like. That was certainly the case here. Houndstooth and argyle: two of my favourite patterns are even better as a pair.  From now on, I’m saving my fear for real threats, like the zombie apocalypse.


Tunic: Jedzebel. Earrings: Zahara. Belt: Forever 21. Shoes: John Fluevog

Once again I’m wearing a tunic as a dress. As a dress it’s pretty short, short enough that I might not feel comfortable wearing it with bare legs. But my friend Amanda, who is wise in the way of fashion, reminded me that tights will ground a super-high hemline.

And speaking of Amanda, she’s wearing a dress every day this month to raise money for Save the Children and The Ottawa Snowsuit Fund. Check out her style here!

Last week I read 50 Shades Of Grey, the erotic, pulp fiction sensation that is sweeping several nations. I’ve heard a lot about this book and now that I’ve read it I have a LOT to say about it. In the spirit of the 50 Shades trilogy, this week I’ll be posting three entries on my experience in the Grey zone.


50 Shades of Grey. I’ve criticized it. I’ve mocked it. Now for my final post in the series, I will attempt to defend it.

Long before I read the novel, I’d seen countless reports highlighting 50 Shades’ mass appeal amongst married suburban women. “Mommy porn” is how the book has been characterized in the media. I have to say that label annoys significantly more than the book itself.

“Mommy”. From the day I brought my son home from the hospital I’ve been acutely aware that in society’s eyes I am first and foremost a mother. I’ve written a few times about the specific expectations and assumptions that come with being a momand how challenging it can be to define that role on my own terms. I won’t rehash here but I will say that one of my biggest peeves about motherhood is the way some people insist on relating everything I do to the fact that I’m a lady-parent.

Men consume pornography. Many of these men are married, live in the suburbs and have kids. And yet, I have never once heard anyone use the phrase “daddy porn”. When men become fathers, they’re generally regarded  as individuals rather than “daddies”. They aren’t inextricably linked to their kids. And, yes there’s a whole load of bullshit thrown at men who do prioritize parenting over, say, career – but it’s a different beast.

My partner has “a career”. I am “a working mom”. When men with children start businesses, they’re entrepeneurs. Women with kids are “Momtrepeneurs”. This morning I read an article about a “mother of 2” who will compete in boxing at the 2012 London Games. Meanwhile, another report about David Beckham’s dashed Olympic hopes made absolutely no mention of his…three?…four?…a lot of kids.

I am a woman with a child. No matter what I do, somehow someone somewhere finds a way to connect it to motherhood.

Overwhelmingly, use of the term “mommy-porn” that I’ve seen have either been condescending ( “Aw, look – all the moms are reading kinky books and getting turned on. They’re experiencing sexual feelings, just like REAL adults! Isn’t that cute?”) or incredulous (“Holy crap! Moms get HORNY?  Who knew?). Every time a journalist uses that term, my middle fingers spring to attention and the rage begins, because NEWSFLASH, YOU FUCKING MORONS!: MOTHERS ARE HUMAN BEINGS!

I love my child. He’s big, big stuff in my world. But he doesn’t consume every moment and molecule of my existence. I’m still a woman. I’m still a person complete with all the sexual desires and needs that grown-up people tend to have. The problem is that when we make it all about the motherhood, everything gets connected back to kids. And – rightly so – most of us don’t want to connect sex or smut or book porn – to a child.

A few people have asked me why I think 50 Shades of Grey has found such a huge following amongst women, particularly middle-income women with children. My guess is as good as the next persons, but I did have this thought:

In my initial critique of 50 Shades I mentioned that Ana, the protagonist, is portrayed as sexually passive. I also felt that the book portrayed her passivity as a positive quality. Ana is the quintessential “good girl”, uninterested in sex and the very strong, very powerful Christian Grey has to entice her with his irresistible allure.  I do wonder if that dynamic is appealing to some female readers because it’s familiar, even relatable.  Our image of a “good” mother is usually of a woman who is nurturing, loving and focused on the well-being of her children to the exclusion of all else. “Good” mothers are also like Ana – sexually engaged but only when her partner initiates. A good mother is never motivated by her own lust or sexual desires.

Which, of course, is hot-from-the-oven falsecakes. Having children does not negate a woman’s need to get carnal. Mom’s are sexual people who enjoy sexual things like being horny, reading porn…even getting kinky. And though the media would have us believe differently, this really isn’t news.

Regardless of my opinions about the quality of 50 Shades Of Grey, I am thrilled that so many women are enjoying erotic content and getting off on it. They’re telling their partners about it. They’re telling each other about it. Some are exploring and expanding their sexual experiences. Others are just feel inspired to read more raunchy books. Good!  Yay! Snaps up!

Some of us think 50 Shades of Grey, poorly-written with uninteresting characters and troublesome politics. Others say that it was a great read that got them hot and bothered. But when people insist on saying it’s  “mommy porn”, well…that’s when I have one mother of a problem!







Last week I read 50 Shades Of Grey, the erotic, pulp fiction sensation that is sweeping several nations. I’ve heard a lot about this book and now that I’ve read it I have a LOT to say about it. In the spirit of the 50 Shades trilogy, this week I’ll be posting three entries on my experience in the Grey zone.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, weak writing was the least of my many problems with 50 Shades of Grey. But it was a problem. I kept vacillating between amusement and ire as I made my way through E.L. James’ inelegant prose.

At one point, part of me thought, ‘Nadine, if this book bothers you so much, maybe you should unleash the lion and write your own erotic novel. Walk the walk, as it were.’

Another part of me thought, “Or we could just make sarcastic comments on Twitter!”

My novel is likely to remain in the conceptual stages for the foreseeable future. But I got all pro-active with the snide tweeting. Here is the unabridged collection of  my 50 Shades rage. Full snark in 140 characters or less!


Grey: You cooked. I’ll clear.

Ana: That’s very democratic.

Me: No it’s not!


Anna: *I am naked in a bath with Christian Grey. He’s naked.*

Me: That’s because YOU’RE IN A BATH!


Ana: He’s hard and soft at once, like steel incased in velvet.



Grey: You’ll be amazed what you can find on the Internet.

Ana: I don’t have access to a computer.

Me: Where is your college? 1987?


Kate: Took almost a year to have my first orgasm through penetrative sex.

Me: I suggest less Freud and more clitoris.


Ana: His most potent weapon used against me. He’s so good at sex.

Me: *Dies a little inside*


Ana: He’s charming the pants of my dad…like he did to me!

Me: This is about to become a *very* different type of book.


Grey: I’d really like to claim your ass, Ana.

Me: Ana’s ass can be found in ass claim on ass carousel no. 3.


Ana: Have you done that [anal sex]?

Grey: Yes.


Me: Hee!


Grey: Now. I want to be buried inside you.

Me: This position is called ‘Congress of the Turducken’


Ana: The candle flame is too hot.

Me: I know, honey. Flames are made of fire.


Ana: My inner goddess has her pom poms in hand; she’s in cheerleading mode!

Me: Ah, Cheerisis, Goddess of Pep!


Grey: Ready for some contraception?

Me: Cue Jock Jams!


Ana: He’s just sex on legs.

Me: We’ve found our slogan for our latest product: The Erotic Piano!


Ana: Will he let me sleep, perchance to dream?



Ana: My spinxlike smile meets his.

Me: Stop inventamitating words!


Ana: Christian is wearing the grey flannel pants…his grey gaze full of promise.

Me: I don’t understand the title of this book.


Ana: My subconscious gives me an I-told-you-so expression.

Me: Dude, why does your subconscious HAVE A FACE?


Ana: …my nose drinking in his Christian-and-spiced-musky body wash fragrance.

Me: …new from Herbal Essences!


Ana: Like a small boy he’s iridescent with anticipation.

Me: You’re confusing small boys and irridium.


Ana: He denies it, but he admits he’s trying for more.

Me: I am untroubled, but irritated by this sentence.


Ana: Inside my subconscious relaxes and slumps into an old battered armchair.

Me: Dude, why does your subconscious HAVE A CHAIR?


Ana: The pain is indescribable…and I’ve brought it on myself.

Me: That summarizes my feeling about 50 Shades of Grey.

Last week I read 50 Shades Of Grey, the erotic, pulp fiction sensation that is sweeping several nations. I’ve heard a lot about this book and now that I’ve read it I have a LOT to say about it. In the spirit of the 50 Shades trilogy, this week I’ll be posting three entries on my experience in the Grey zone.


by Nadine K. Thornhill


50 Shades of Grey is the first in a trilogy of erotic novels written by E.L. James. It was originally conceived as Twilight fan fiction and then later reconceived as book porn. The story is told from the perspective of 21-year-old Anastasia Steele, who falls in love/lust with Christian Grey, a 27-year-old business magnate. Christian entices Ana to explore BDSM and a whole lot of kinky sex ensues. Over the course of the book we learn that Christian is dominant with a troubled past who has difficulty wearing pants correctly. Ana… bites her lip a lot.

What I Liked About 50 Shades Of Grey

The sex scenes. They are, in my opinion, some of the better written scenes in the book. Spanking and sexual power roles are big turn ons for me. When I chose to disregard the surrounding narrative, the tawdriest parts of 50 Shades definitely stimulated my libido and imagination. It’s also inspired a few ideas that I’d like to try with my partner…and a plethora of masturbatory fantasies!

On a meta-level, I like that 50 Shades Of Grey is bringing discussions of BDSM and other kink into the mainstream. I like that it has prompted conversations about other, arguably better, erotic literature. Reading about sex can be hella fun and if this book helps people feel more comfortable with book porn, I’m all for that!

What I Didn’t Like About 50 Shades Of Grey

Sex scenes not withstanding, I thought the writing was remarkably bad.

As a fellow writer, I can’t bring myself to hate on E.L. James. Like me, she’s just a woman sitting at her computer typing words and doing the best she can. But unlike me, a publisher looked her work and decided it was suitable for mass publishing. That’s the part that baffles me. I can’t imagine reading this manuscript and wanting to distribute it (although it is a runaway hit, so what do I know from publishing).

Here’s an example of what I mean. There’s running commentary by Ana’s “subsconscious”  and “inner goddess” respectively . It’s all meant to very be Freudian (I think). It could have been an interesting convention if it weren’t executed thusly:

Stop Stop now! my subsconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration. Get in the car, go home, do your studying. Forget about him…Now! And stop all this self-pitying, wallowing crap. (p. 37)

First of all, this isn’t Ana’s subconscious.  It’s a straight up conscience. Also? What’s metaphorical screaming? Since when do psychological processes have arms, legs and feet?  And why does her inner voice “speak” in italics but then doesn’t? Which brings me to another beef…

Why didn’t 50 Shades have an editor? I’m assuming there was no editor because of style glitches like those in the previous paragraph. Also because of the excessive repetition of phrases such as:

“Foil packet” (10 times)

“He cocks/is cocking his head to one side” (23 times)

There are also 43 references to lip biting.

There are weird character inconsistencies, odd uses of language , awkward metaphors and on and on. At the end of the day this book is meant to be escapist fantasy and many won’t care that this isn’t Pulitzer calibre writing. I just found it irksome after awhile.

Sorry…one more writing gripe. Christian wants to send Ana e-mail and she’s all a-fluster because Oh no, the Internet! and Yikes, technology! and Eek! I don’t even have a computer! Reminder: Ana is a COLLEGE LITERATURE MAJOR LIVING IN THIS CENTURY!


What Bummed Me Out About 50 Shades Of Grey

It isn’t hard to see the Twilight-y origins of 50 Shades. I think that Twilight is for suck. Unfortunately, 50 Shades has a lot in common with it’s source material.

Christian Grey shares many of the same repellent qualities as Edward Cullen. We’re told ad nauseum that he’s irresistibly good looking. He’s also controlling, manipulative and a full on creeper a la Edward. Like in Twilight, 50 Shades tells us that creepers are romantic. For real. Dude stalk because they care. When Christian suddenly appears in Ana’s bedroom or follows her across the country (after she EXPRESSLY TOLD HIM NOT TO), it’s not douchebaggery, it’s love.

Bumming hard, you guys. Bumming hard.

Christian chastises Ana when she isn’t completely open with him, yet he shuts down emotionally when she asks about his personal life. When Ana breaks down and confesses that her first experience with spanking was sexually exciting but also left her feeling “demeaned, debased and abused”, Christian’s response is “Do you feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this?”  Pressumably, we’re meant to see this as part of Christian Gray’s powerful, commanding allure but in my opinion, he’s just being a jerk.

Meanwhile Ana is completely passive. 50 Shades of Grey is about Ana’s adventures as the submissive to Grey’s dominant. However, as a wise friend once put it ,”being submissive isn’t the same as being passive.” Ana is a woman without any sexual agency. As it’s written, the woman has had no sexual feelings, let alone sexual experiences until her libido is triggered by alleged for of nature that is Christian Gray. She’s a good girl who loves her mom and never masturbates, who succumbs to sex, rather than actively participating in it.  Like Twilight’s Bella Swan, Anastasia Steele never instigates the action, she only reacts to sexy, good-looking dude of the story.

I cannot tell you how much it depresses me that both Bella and Ana were created by female authors.

What  Pissed Me Off About 50 Shades Of Grey

My final complaint is also my biggest. For a book that’s mostly about sex, I found 50 Shades of Grey to be intensely sex-negative. Like I said, the sex scenes themselves didn’t bother me (except for those ubiquitous foil packets), but everything that happened around them made rage with frustration.

In some ways, 50 Shades is no more offensive than any other bodice-ripping novel. That having been said, I think a lot of those books perpetuate some pretty unfortunately myths about what constitutes great romance and hot sex. And yes they’re just books, but I think  many of those myths have influenced our real-life ideas and negotiations around sex. Again, I’m happy if erotica is moving into the mainstream. But I’m not happy that the book that’s leading the movement relies on tropes such as:

 – For women, being “good” means existing in a default state of naiveté, innocence and sexual passivity.

– Desirable women are young, straight, slender, white and have long hair that goes wavy on command.

– Desirable men are wealthy, well-muscled, also straight and highly skilled lovers.

– Women never want sex until a dude comes along and makes them want sex.

– Men never want love or emotional commitment until a woman comes along a makes them want love.

– When men do fall in love, they hate it. The get grumpy and start muttering – usually stuff about how the woman is “doing something” to him.

– Women should be happy when men get grouchy and start blaming them for feelings. It’s love!

– Women should be happy when men are controlling, stalkery and jealous. It’s love!

50 Shades also perpetuates some pretty negative stereotypes about BDSM and how the type of people who practice it are fucked up. . Ana repeatedly comments (internally, of course) on Christian’s fucked up childhood, his fucked up attitude and how they’ve contributed to the fucked up ways he likes to have sex.

Christian isn’t just a dominant. He’s domineering. He manipulates Ana at every opportunity. He uses sex and kink to to alternately entice and terrorize her. Despite having only been sexual partners for a couple of weeks, Grey insists that Ana “trust him” and sign a contract that would not only give him complete sexual control but also control over virtually ever aspect of her life.

Christian does explain to Ana that as a sexual submissive she always has the power to say no. However every time she says no, expresses resistance or uncertainty, he either shuts her out or seduces her with his I’m-So-Sexy sexmagiks.

So yes, Christian is fucked up. But BDSM is not. In fact the motto I’ve always heard regarding BDSM is safe, sane and consensual. Many, many people explore various aspects of BDSM in their sex lives for no other reason than it feels good and they enjoy it. I’m so tired of the CSI/Law & Order portrayal of kink as a manifestation of some dark psychological problem.

Again, I know it’s a fantasy. I don’t expect chapters dedicated to a long-term relationship with nuanced  sexual negotiation. But sanity and consent can still be part of a sexy make-believe world. Why did Christian have to be screwed up. Why did Ana have spend the whole book resisting?

Instead it was a lot of manipulation and Ana feeling ambivalent and implications that Christian’s desire to exert sexual pain and control had to do with an abusive childhood, rather a simple sexual desire.

Seriously, there were times 50 Shades got me so pissy I wanted to throw it across the room. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) I was reading it on my iPad.


I know a lot of people have read and liked 50 Shades of Grey. Despite my personal criticisms, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for enjoying the book. Some people will be able to overlook it’s shortcomings and simply take as the sexy story I suspect it was intended to be. But 50 Shades just wasn’t my speed. I found the characters deeply flawed and the sexual politics troubling. I felt relieved when I finished…and not in the pleasant, post-coital way.

Have or someone you know read 50 Shades Of Grey? What did you think? Or are you someone who’s avoiding it like the plague? Can’t wait to read what you have to say in the comments!