Merry Christmas!

The snow we do not have...

I hope you and yours have a beautiful Christmas and a happy New Year. If it's a bumpy one, hopefully some of these tips will help...

See you in 2016, darlings.

It's beginning to look a lot...

I was so excited to learn that Oakville is getting an independent bookstore on Lakeshore. The proprietress is a friend of a friend and I got a sneak peak at the place before its grand opening yesterday. It's gorgeous.

Archetype Books (305 Lakeshore on the old main street for any Oakvillains reading) is a curated selection of classics and current titles, as well as some gorgeous cookbooks and coffee table books. It's very charming and worth the drive if you are in the GTA (you can load up on Diptyque candles while you are at it at Soap and Water.)

Archetype has a lot of my favourite books.

I came home with Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice, Sloane Crosley's The Clasp and Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies.

I'm on a bit of a reading jag. I just finished Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass (a great motivating book to kick you out of the doldrums) and am finishing They Left Us Everything, which is a terrific memoir by former Oakvillain, Plum Johnson.

Last weekend, we snuck away to Niagara Falls (or Angry Falls, as my daughter called it when she was little) for a weekend. The kids love the falls themselves and they looked very pretty with the Christmas lights. It was a nice pre-holiday break since WE CANNOT SKI in Ontario yet. Seriously. Where is the snow?

I've been decorating the house for the holidays. We do not have our tree up yet but it's still looking quite sparkly.

I repurposed a pie crust table as a bar.

I also visited a medium, which I wrote about for Huffington Post. She was amazing. Her readings are rooted in Catholicism, so it was quite angelical-celestial in nature. I'm still processing the session as it revealed some pretty amazing things.

The next few weeks are going to be very boozy busy. We are seeing the Nutcracker for the second time this season (the first was a local production with friends in the lead roles), going to a few shin-digs, and getting up to some other holly jolly activities.

I hope your days are merry and bright.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I read so many U.S. bloggers that I feel like it's Thanksgiving Day for us today too.

I am feeling very thankful. It's been a rough couple of weeks but people have shown up for me in all sorts of amazing ways.

I zhushed my Pinteresting Yourself Well blog post and it's now up at Huffington Post as 8 Surprising Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Dark Place (I find that they don't change anything in edits except the title.)

I saw a spiritual adviser of sorts today and she basically summed up everything in my life as this quote from Cheryl Strayed (found, of course, on Pinterest):

"Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore."


And it's quite freeing.

I hope you are having a day filled with family and gratitude no matter where you live.

The Holiday Catalogue as Life

At this time of year I get deluged with catalogues, a side effect of preferring to shop from home. Many are pretty glossy things. The Eric Bompard one, as an example, includes strands of their cashmere wool so you get the colour right when ordering a sweater. My favourites catalogues, however, are the ones that promise a lifestyle: the holiday issues tend to feature shiny families having snowball fights.

This year, in terms of promising the most appealing lifestyle, I think Land's End is the winner. I am not a huge fan of Land's End clothes except for their absolute basics, but -  oh! -  do I ever want to be part of the Land's End family. They are like the Kennedys without the philandering.

If I lived in the Land's End catalogue, I could stand around in my tartan shirt and fresh highlights, waiting to enjoy a meal I effortlessly cooked:

Or I could have a heart to heart with a child who always stands like a ballerina. I love how my boat tote matches her skirt! And how all that yoga is allowing me to sit in a squat while balancing a bag full of gin bottles! 

I think I could be a Land's End gal only for a couple of days, though, because - let's face it - coordinating all of those matching outfits would be exhausting. Plus, you just know that crazy Uncle Louis is hiding behind the curtains in the dining room like Polonius behind the arras. Perfect is never what it seems.

I don't have the legs to be an Anthropologie girl but I'd love to have nothing better to do than lounge around around the Paris Opera House, showing off my jutting collar bones.

Actually, that's not true. I'd be stressed that the laundry was piling up while I was twirling around.

I could not be a J. Crew girl on a permanent basis. They are always making weird faces, no? What on earth could she be thinking?

I've not bought much at J. Crew since the halcyon days of 2003 to 2008, but I still enjoy flipping through the catalogues.

I wore this J. Crew jacket to a party the other day and it got many kudos. I think it's from 2006. Timeless.

The Really Wild lifestyle appeal. They too are gadabouts but seem to be more uptight about it, which better suits my temperament of stressed-out writer.

What catalogues would you live in if given the choice?

Pinteresting Yourself Well (and other tips for dark days)

I was at a little shindig this afternoon for a pal's 50th. I have never had a Danish birthday cake before but I was impressed. It's a giant pastry person and the birthday girl chops off his head while everybody screams.

Apologize for the fuzziness; because screaming. 

As someone who is one quarter Scandanavian and prone to the macabre, this very much appeals. It's right up there with putting that candle crown on your head and lighting it on fire. Seriously, I love that kind of thing.

At the birthday lunch, a friend asked how I'd being doing and I told her I'd been in a real funk. I was at a party a few weeks ago and one of the guys was very handsy in a way that felt not-at-all playful and it sort of re-traumatized me. Then, a woman who had done something quite unkind when I first moved to town reached out in kindness, but, coupled with the other incident, it left me reeling. I felt like I was back in the place I was in over two years ago. I had a very dark couple of weeks.

My friend said that I looked well enough now and asked what I'd done to get better. My honest answer was that I sought out pleasant things. She has a very positive Instagram feed and I told her that reading her posts was hugely helpful. I told her I thought I'd also Pinterested myself well.

Seriously. I got on Pinterest, which was something I'd mainly used for research for my book and compiling my wish lists to help guide Mr. DoTT in his gift giving. I started pinning motivational quotes and pictures of cats in berets. Because, can you really be depressed if somewhere on the planet, there is a cat wearing a small striped shirt and a beret?

I thought about what else I did that made me feel better. 

I made myself exercise even though I did not feel like it at all. I'm a fan of a class called Group Blast. It's a step class and I have zero coordination, so I can't think about anything else when I do it. It's like cardio meditation. And the music is upbeat. It's hard to be down when you are doing reaction jumps to Pitbull's Fireball. 

I read a book that suited my mood. In this case it was My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh. Sometimes it's nice to feel like there is something tangible that it making you feel sad. Plus, this is simply a beautiful novel. 

I also gardened. I hate to garden because of my allergies, but I had a flower bed that had gone to weeds. I pulled out everything and turned the soil. There is something beautiful about the concept of tabula rasa: a fresh start. Even if I can't have one, my garden can. 

I made some plans for the future to help me focus on that instead of the past. That was useful too.

I had a doctor's appointment pre-booked and during my physical I told her that I was down. We agreed that what I was suffering was situational rather than clinical. And that time would help. It reminded me of a beautiful essay that Canada's newest Health Minister, Jane Philpott, wrote about dealing with grief:

I have an enduring memory of the line-up of people who came to greet us that morning. There was a queue of townspeople and hospital employees – some of them knew us personally and others had heard the news and wanted to bring greetings. That was the day I learned a common Hausa greeting at a time of mourning. One by one they shook our hands. With tones of sympathy and empathy, they said to us: “Sai hankuri”. This means: “There is only patience.”
At times like this, sometimes patience is required even though that's not something I like to accept.

I also made sure that life went on. Meals were cooked, clothes were washed, and children were driven to activities. Makeup was applied. (For those who care, I'm currently wearing Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Fiction because lipstick is a bit of a cure-all for me and the name makes me feel like working on my book.)

These steps might not work for everyone but they certainly worked for me.

I hope your days are bright right now. Are there things that you rely on to make you feel better? I'd love to know your tips.

The need for a little magical space

After spending the last year publicizing the business book, Engage the Fox, I've decided to reopen this space to help me focus on the lovely side of life. When I first started to blog over a decade ago, I used it as a sanity outlet as I recovered from fertility treatments and post partum depression. I loved the community that blogging built and got to know a number of people in real life. I find that I need that type of outlet once again and although I am totally in love with Instagram and Pinterest, words have always been my salvation. Plus, I thought this blog had a really pretty design and I like the idea of recycling.

I'm currently working on a novel and blog for The Huffington Post, but this is where I can put my raw natterings. I'll write about our french bulldog, wedding planning, recovering from PTSD, and my love for classic handbags.

I really look forward to reconnecting with y'all.

Friday Update

So, I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day. I spent mine at the club. They now have a lobster grilled cheese sandwich on the menu. Feelin' the love. Then the kiddos and the dog and I piled into a great big heap and watched home design shows. (I'm going to have to watch this habit: the other day my son announced, "We must scrape the popcorn ceiling in my bedroom.") Anyhow, it was hard not to feel super-blessed.

I worked out this morning. I'd planned to lightly jog this morning on the treadmill before my weights routine, but I had one of those people beside me who keeps dialling up the intensity to be just a tiny bit faster than you. You know the type. Anyhow, before you knew it I was running like a bride-to-be at the Kleinfeld sale. I must say, this workout thing has been a blessing. Today, the view was particularly amazing. It's hard to not believe in God when the sun comes through the clouds over the water. And then when that view gets old, one can always watch Mr. Beefcake lift, like, 700 pounds. Nothing wrong with that.

After that, I ran around doing errands. La Frenchie needed her nails trimmed , so I took her over to the groomer, who is located dangerously close to Petits et Jolis, who is still having the 50% off everything sale. The lovely Tamara was prettifying some furniture but she still had a wee but of time to chat. This is why I love shopping at owner-operated place. You just don't get the same quality of conversation at a chain (although I must say, even the Walmart cashiers are really nice in Oakville on those rare occasions where I have to expose myself to fluorescent lighting.) Anyhow, I picked up a gorgeous little Santini-style Artemis sculpture for $32.50.

I always thought Artemis was the coolest lady in the Pantheon: all that girl power. They also had a gorgeous Pietà there but I think I may be too Anglican for it. 

Well, I got my little project handed in, so I can just relax this weekend. That is if you call skiing, playdates, badminton and the Auto Show relaxing. But in between, I can watch my PVRed Million Dollar Decorators (please, no spoilers - I don't want to know if Martyn got the cover of Luxe until I see the show!) and flip through this:

I mean, seriously, is that not the best cover ever? I always find it's nice to steel myself with a hit of vicarious luxury before a weekend stuffing feet in ski boots.

And some little diva just plans to relax and be spoiled by the grandparents.

Well, play safe, kittens.

Week End

I had a deliciously relaxing weekend, kicking off by putting away the ornaments. I love a real Christmas tree only to a point: when the needles start to drop, it's outworn its welcome.

I then watched Coco avant Chanel on DVD because it's such a great movie. 

(I'm going to swap out that ghastly fireplace tile for black marble this year. It bothers me every time I see it.)

On Saturday, it was relatively warm so I walked the main street. I finally went into Patisserie D'Or, the french bakery on Robinson St to see how it compares with my beloved (but too far away now that it's not at the end of my street anymore!) Patachou.

Delicious! My croissant and pastry habit will be well nourished. 

I saw Philomena, which is such a great film about the power of forgiveness. It was a sold out showing and I've never witnessed a mostly septuagenarian audience respond to a movie so vocally. Obviously there were some Catholics in the crowd, based on some of the cheers and jeers. Steve Coogan is fantastic (as is Judy Dench, but one rather expects her to be...)

I dealt with some of the downed tree limbs from the ice storm.

I then had a lovely dinner.

And relaxed.

I'm taking a little blog holiday until the kids are back to school. Enjoy the rest of your holiday festivities. I'll raise a glass to you all on the 31st.

Happy New Year! 

Christmas Traditions: Charitable Gifts from the Heart

Ok, are these guys not the cutest? They are leaning like they've had a little too much eggnog at the Christmas luncheon, no? They...