Hey there. I’m Regan Daley, though you most likely have that bit figured out by now. This is my blog, Pen and Chocolate, and my nifty web site, for which I will absolutely take credit, but can’t claim any of it. It’s all my super-brilliant husband Rob’s doing, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you too much about him just now or you’ll defect to his website and never come back. Such are the marvelousness and über-talents of him.

But I digress. Me. This bit is supposed to be About Me, and serve as a kind of comprehensive introduction of me and well, that just pretty much scares the pants off me. So what do you say to this: I’ll give you some basics, and the rest we can just fill in periodically. I mean, I don’t even know what you’d like to know. Besides the big main things, that is, which I will tell you now, though in no particular order.

Big Main Thing #1: I write. My first book, In the Sweet Kitchen, is a combination ingredients guide, baking handbook and recipe book. It is very heavy, and would hurt if you dropped it on your foot. Quite amazingly to me, it won several awards, not least of which was an IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Award for Best Baking and Dessert Book, and best of all was the 2000 IACP Award for Best Overall Book. The fact that it won this very prestigious thing was only slightly more cool than it was surprising, since the book wasn’t even available in the US yet, where the awards were based (and pretty much every other book nominated was from). So yes, I wrote that. I wrote for a number of years for many food magazines, such as Saveur, Fine Cooking, Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Bon Appetit, Country Home and others, usually with recipes, but never only recipes.  I had this professional background in food, but never thought of myself as anything but a writer. Perhaps a writer who had been fortunate enough to get an amazing peek into the world of food, but a writer none-the-less. Cooking and baking I did because I enjoyed them, but writing I do because I can’t not do it. Ultimately, my writing moved further away from food and towards creative non-fiction and fiction. I like it that way, but I still like food. A lot.

Big Main Thing #2: After graduating from cooking school, I worked for several years in some of the best restaurants in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where I live. I worked as both a line cook and pastry cook, mostly because I loved baking and the places where I worked made all their own desserts in-house, but had such small cooking staffs there was often no one else on the crew who could make pastry for the life of them, so eventually, I was pretty much exclusively a pastry chef. Until I left cooking to write full-time, or rather work full-time at a bookstore so I could write in my spare time.

Big Main Thing #3: I meant to be an actor. I went to a high school for the arts (they went to great lengths in the first few months to drill into us that it was NOTHING LIKE FAME – this was only a few years after the movie – the first movie – had come out, and all I can say is, it was EXACTLY like Fame.) I majored in Music and Drama (somewhere someone has footage of me singing, which I beg them now to burn and then bury the ashes). I knew from the time I was tiny that what I wanted to do was be an actor, and after high school, I went to university with a Theatre major, but didn’t stay very long.  I spent just over a year working as an actor in Toronto. What I learned was this: No one cares if a twenty-year-old woman can say a good monologue, they just need to know your bust size, boot size, and whether you’d be willing to dye your hair blonde. As I am already about as pale as chalkboard dust, I figured going blonde would just make me show up as a vague glowy streak on film anyway, so I left the industry. I would have loved to work exclusively on stage, but this is Canada, and that is theatre, and it’s pretty near impossible to do that, especially when you’re 21. What I realized was that the best I could hope for as a stage actor is the life of a nomad. While I’m really fine with unpredictability, I knew I wanted a family, and six weeks in Winnipeg, then two in Halifax, then an extended run in Vancouver just wasn’t how I wanted to do it. Meanwhile, I was spending all my considerable spare time, between classes and auditions, baking. Hence the move to cooking school. I was young and free and figured now was as good a time as any to deep end into a passion for a while.

The Biggest Mainest Thing of all, is that I’m Mama to three boys, Liam and Finn who are twins and almost 14 and mostly crazy, and Rory, who is 9 and completely crazy. I met their Dad, Rob, when I was 14 and he weighed less than I did. (He is now six-foot-five, and I’m happy to say he now weighs more). We went through high school as buddies, then got our ^%@#$ together the very last month and have kept it together ever since. I know, that’s nuts, but true. We have a tiny yellow house in Leslieville in downtown Toronto, and though we’ve been “planning” to move to the country for about 17 years, we’ve been in this house for 14, and can’t see moving any time soon. 1000-square feet, three boys, two grown-ups, one really, really hairy, person-sized dog named Sam, and more art supplies and nerd memorabilia than many small countries. It’s mad and messy and always loud, but it’s pretty sweet, too.

So those are the big things. Some little things:

If I could, I’d wear a big tulle tutu and a tank top and a pair of great boots every day. Jean jacket on chilly days.
I don’t like socks, but I very much love shoes.
I also love the colour green, rooms full of books, old pick-up trucks, baking bread, sewing, walking outside, camping, Christmas, laughing so hard my stomach hurts the next day, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (series, not movie).
I think that life, while not always short, is always precious, and we only get the one. One life. One today. And I think we’re living the most when we’re just a little outside our own comfortable boxes. So sometimes you stay up a little too late, or just take that fourth camping trip in six weeks even though the kids are nearly feral already. Because that’s what you’ll remember about the weekend, or the summer; that’s what will make you grow.
Other things, well, just ask. Like you could say, “ Hey Regan, do you like wine?” And I would say, “Why, yes. Yes I do like wine. Red please.” Or, “Regan, where would you like to go if say, someone wanted to send you on a trip?” “Well,” I would say, “ANYWHERE! But first, Paris. It is my heaven. I can leave anytime.”

The rest we can just get to when we need to. Cheers, and thanks for coming.