The Joy of Little Things


It's the little things that make the biggest difference. 

Our new fridge, which had been held captive in some container somewhere between here and Korea for months, has finally arrived. We'd been saddled with this terrible old fridge with faux wood panelling that froze all of the food at the back. The new one is a joy. It has a door in door feature that the little kids think was custom-designed for them. It's amazing how grateful I feel for something I'd always taken for granted. The best part was sorting through all of the sauces and jams (we appear to have a condiment addiction in this house!) and putting them in order. 


Source: LG

Ladies of London is on air again. I'm picking it up in Season 3, but it's just like RHONY only with older and prettier houses, and better eye makeup. I'm totally loving it. Because I have collected some advanced degrees and used to be a film snob, people always seem to think I'm much more intellectual than I am. Give me a good reality show over public television any day of the week. I like The Crown, but - truth be told - I sometimes doze off. I have yet to doze off in RHONY or LoL. 

I've spent the week organizing my wardrobe. I love it when my closet is organized. I ordered a couple of new pieces at the Black Friday sales and want them to feel welcome. I love it when I'm organized. 

In the end, it's the little things that add up to the big things. What little things make you happy? 

Death Wears a Beret and Other Holiday Movies




I've been watching more television than usual because of all of the Christmas movies on these days. I PVR with abandon and have the movies running while I putter around my office. If you have not seen A Mistletoe Promise, you must. It seems to have had a bigger budget than many and the production values seem higher (in some of these films, you can practically see the boom.) Will You Merry Me is also decent, because Wendie Malick is hilarious. I like it because it's shot in Unionville, which is where I spent my teenage years.

Because I'm seeing commercials now, I'm more in tune with movie offerings than usual (I've gone from being a film zealot to someone who waits for Netflix.) Based on the trailer, I'm looking forward to seeing Collateral Beauty when it is released. It looks like It's a Wonderful Life meets Inside Out. The trailer makes me cry and I like the cast. Even if it stinks, the concept is fun. A beret-sporting Helen Mirren plays Death. That seems pretty perfect. I'm hoping it will rival A Family Man.

I'm playing Christmas music 24/7 in my car. I prefer the radio to Spotify because I like the thought that other people are listening to the same song too. This year, I'm partial to Christmas Day by McMaster and James, This is Christmas by Suzie McNeil, and 2000 Miles by The Pretenders. Each year, the younger kids and I wait to hear Driving Home for Christmas. I know it's very popular but we think it's the worst Christmas song ever. It's just not the holiday season until we've made fun of the lyrics while driving.

I've written a piece on the blending of the ornaments since it's the first Christmas that the Mr. and I have one house. You can find it here. 

Hope you are having fun preparing for the holidays.


The Perfect Weekend

The Mr. and I get married in 5 weeks. There is still a lot to do. When you try to wedge a wedding in between buying and selling houses and - well - life, it's a little nuts. We realized that we are so busy ticking things off a list, that we were not really enjoying the process. We decided to remedy that this weekend.

Saturday, we went into Big Smoke - aka Toronto - for some shopping on Bloor Street. We had lunch at The Windsor Arms hotel, which is a favourite of mine. It's much less busy than a lot of the hotels in the area and is great for a quiet lunch. Since we were in the fancypants city, I decided to pull out one of the big guns in my arsenal - my Dior new lock bag. It's an oldie but goody.



We are generally in a climate of abstemiousness because of moving houses and life, but The Mr. wanted to get me a wedding present. I'd had my eye on a necklace for the wedding day and nudged him toward the Van Cleef & Arpels counter at Birks.

We had success!



After trying on a number of pieces, I decided on the vintage Alhambra necklace in mother of pearl. It will make a great everyday piece too.


I have not shopped on Bloor in years. I used to be able to walk there from my house but that was a long time ago - so long ago that I made a strategic error and wore my fancypants Stuart Weitzman boots with the jacked up heels. They are fabulously comfy for wearing to a restaurant. Less fabulously comfy for wearing to run up and down Bloor. 

Saturday night, we had a few friends over for the Mr.'s birthday. We partied like it was 1999.


The foxes had a little too much champagne. 


I wore my crushed velvet dress from Anthropologie. So comfy and it got lots of compliments. Plus, pockets. Love it. Needless to say, I wore flat shoes. 


It was so fun to dress up. Most of the time, I run around in jeans and sweaters and a ponytail. It's so nice to gussy up, put on a coat of slap, and have a fancy day once in a while!

Shop the look:


Black Fri-Yay!

Canada has embraced Black Friday over the past few years. My heart will always belong to Boxing Day, but the call of the sales is enticing. Today, Anthropologie on Oakville's main street has everything in the store for 30% off.

When Anthro has a sale, its jeans are a ridiculous bargain. I hate spending money on jeans - mostly I buy the Nygard jeggings at Costco for $13. I do not follow jean trends at all. I focus on jackets and bags so as long as the jeans make me look reasonable, I'm good. But jeans tend to be 1/2 off in the Anthro sale room and then the extra 30% brings $200 jeans down to $60-70 Canadian . It's a particularly good deal because the sale prices tend to be on par with the US sale prices (the full price items are adjusted for currency differences.) In spite of our savvy, sexy, socialist Prime Minister, our dollar still trades at 75 cents on the greenback.

I picked up two pairs of jeans and they are both more on trend than anything I currently own. While in the sale room, I picked up two little malachite trays for $5.56 a piece. I saw a matching malachite candle for $13.96 that I thought would be cute for the powder room so I threw it in my cart. I have a slight malachite obsession, it would seem.


When I got to the cash, the woman ringing in my purchases got quite excited and announced that I bought a candle and then a few sales associates started to clap. Apparently I'd made the first candle purchase of the day and was entitled to a prize. They handed me a green box wrapped in metallic twine and pretty snowflakes. Inside, nestled in tinsel, was a $50 gift card.



How lovely! I'm a signs and wonders girl and am always looking for little signs that things are going in the right direction. After a season of grief, I've been trying to make some very big changes lately so I'm taking this as a celestial nod. My higher power would deal in Anthro cards, I suspect.

These are some cute pieces that might be gift card-worthy in future.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a very happy weekend. For those of you with leftover turkey and pie in your fridges, it should be a simple task.

The Angels of Hamilton



I love all things Hamilton - the place, not the musical - although I hear the musical is meant to be excellent as well. The place we currently live is pleasant enough, but Hamilton is that perfect blend of town and country with deeply urban spots and gorgeous conservation areas. It's my spiritual home and I'd love to buy a fixer upper to restore to give me as much time there as possible while continuing to live where we live for the time being. 

Last evening, the Mr. and went to Locke Street for coffee. We split a vegan Hello Dolly square that was divine. I have an egg allergy so it's nice to be able to have dessert without having my epipen at the ready.

When I went to powder my nose before leaving, I saw this quote written in sharpie marker on the back of the bathroom door.



It's one of my favourites quotes. I love it when I stumble over words that have given me comfort.

When I returned, the Mr. had given our table to some people waiting for a space and had started chatting with four gentlemen who were playing chess. One of them was wearing an Amnesty International t-shirt, which I took as a very good sign. Another -- a writer -- spoke of the soul enriching qualities of the community and offered to show us around at a future date. The foursome were very friendly and had a sense of ease and contentment you don't see every day. It was exactly what I needed that night.

As we left, I quickly checked the floor for feathers, as my godmother advises whenever anything out of the ordinary occurs. The entire evening seemed somehow heaven-sent and I look forward to spending more time in this magical place.


Person Place Thing

Person

Missing Leonard Cohen. We all need more poets at times such as there.



Place

Loving Hamilton, Ontario. Looking for an historic fixer upper to restore if you here of anyone selling. In the meantime, I'll simply stuff myself with foodie goodness at the Aberdeen Tavern.

Thing

Loving these Jellycat ostrich and swan plush animals for the young - and young at heart - on your holiday shopping list.



J Crew Pre-Black Friday Sale



Just a quick note to alert you to the J. Crew pre-Black Friday sale. Almost everything is 40% off, including these cute pieces on pre-order. Love the Zebra Cardigan as it reminds me of my favourite ScalamandrĂ©  pillow. Also love the Bow-Shoulder Top in Festive Plaid. The Tortoise Shell hair barrettes are always pretty and at 40%, they make great stocking stuffers.

Happy shopping!


12 Ways To Enjoy The Holidays (When You Are Feeling More Like The Grinch)

It's the most wonderful time of the year... for everybody else. At least that's how it can seem if this season you are dealing with less-than-perfect circumstances. Sickness, grief, and loss do not take a holiday and can be amplified during the hap-hap-happiest season of all. If you are expecting a tough holiday season, here are some ways to embrace peace and joy:

1. Ho ho ho-ld off spending time on social media. The constant flood of other people's filtered family photos can be hard to take at the best of times. When you are feeling low, it can become quite unbearable. Denmark's The Happiness Research Institute discovered that Facebook offers "a constant flow of edited lives which distort our perception of reality" and, as a result, "1 out of 3 [users] envy how happy other people seem". Social media tends to be quite fake and unless you can hold that in your mind as you scroll through other people's airbrushed lives, it's best to give it a holiday.

2. Shake your candy cane. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that are critical this time of year. Go for a walk to look at the lights, hit the local skating rink, or find a gym offering holiday-themed classes. (Four minutes of abs work goes much faster to the beat of All I Want for Christmas is You. Trust me on this...)

3. Don't funnel eggnog. It can be tempting at this time of year to self-medicate with holiday treats (I'm looking at you brandy beans...), but it won't help in the long run. While it's fine to indulge a little, diving headfirst into a barrel of shortbread will not make your problems go away. And things won't look brighter when you can't button up your pants in the new year.

4. Be selective with your holiday playlist. There are lots of great holiday songs out there that acknowledge this time of year can be tough. My Grown Up Christmas List is one of the best and reminds us that not everyone is having a perfect holiday.

5. Watch feel-good movies. There are a million holiday movies that overwhelmingly reinforce the notion that even in less-than-ideal circumstances, you should have faith that things will work out. I love Little Women and It's a Wonderful Life. Lifetime and W Network are flooded with movies about second chances. They are great for a good, happy cry.

6. Do something nice for someone else. This time of year, there are lots of simple opportunities to give. Whether it's putting some money in Santa's kettle, letting someone in front of you in the checkout line, or helping out at the local toy drive, helping others is an instant route to feeling better.

7. Compliment strangers. During the holidays, a lot of people are very stressed. Tell that overwhelmed cashier she is doing a great job. Tell the mom of the screaming child in the Santa line that her baby is dressed adorably (and if you are a mom or dad, tell her we've all been there!) Spread a little holiday cheer and make yourself feel better in the process.

8. If you are wrestling with family dysfunction, read some memoirs from empathetic authors. Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson and Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs are both great choices. Plum Johnson's memoir, They Left Us Everything: A Memoir, illustrates that the perfect-looking life isn't always as it seems. While you are at it, read Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. It's not about family dysfunction, or the holidays, but you should read it anyways and start planning for a fantastic 2017.

9. Know that it's perfectly OK to feel rotten. The last thing you need is to feel guilty that you are not feeling merry. Some years just suck and it's OK to write off 2016 and look forward to a new year.

10. Take advantage of the down time. Whether you celebrate it or not, Christmas morning can provide a few hours of peace as even the most flagrantly commercial enterprises tend to remain closed for the morning and people stop texting for an hour or two. If you are not surrounded by hustle and bustle, take the opportunity to read, to meditate, or to go for a quiet walk. It may be one of the few times that nobody is expecting you to do anything. Take advantage of the peace.

11. Take in all of the prettiness. The holiday season is great for eye candy: Christmas lights, elaborate shop windows, and reindeer antlers on passing cars. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with snow, admire how it makes the whole world look new.

12. Maintain perspective. Remember that Mary and Joseph did not spend that first Christmas stuffing their faces with organic turkey while smug-posting photos of the whole fam-damily in ironic Christmas sweaters on Instagram. That first Christmas was one of hardship and strain. You aren't alone, my friend.

Holiday decorating


I have a bittersweet relationship with the holidays. Some bad things have happened at Christmas, but it's a lovely time of year. I'm spending a lot of energy this year on making new traditions and reviving some old ones. 

The mercury dipped on Sunday so we decided to pull out the holiday decoration. We are blending homes and decorating styles, but my office/parlour is still uniquely me. 

Here's a little peek. Everything involves fairy lights. 


I hope you are having fun preparing your home for whatever holidays you celebrate. 




The gift of healing


I love this quote from Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery. Sometimes we don't need people to fix things. We simply need someone to acknowledge what we've been through. As she writes, "We don’t need a magician to take it all away – we just need a witness.” 

During this holiday season, see if there is anyone in your life for whom you bear witness. It is a tremendous gift to be able to sit with someone in their pain. It can be healing beyond measure. 

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

A Review of Alice Hoffman's Faithful: A Novel





I just finished Alice Hoffman's beautiful book, Faithful: A Novel. I love Alice Hoffman's work. Her use of magic realism tempers otherwise gritty subjects, allowing what could be depressing material to read as hopeful. Her latest novel focuses on a young woman who is consumed with self-loathing after her friend is killed. The book follows her on a healing journey that stays true to each character and avoids veering into sentimentality, which can sometimes happen in books of this nature. I fell in love with Hoffman's not-always-likeable protagonist and I think you will too. It's a perfect read for this time of year.

Christmas Rx

One of the very big benefits of being Canadian (and this year, there are many!) is not having to wait until Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas stuff. I've already found the Christmas station on the radio and will start to decorate this week. Christmas has not always been a happy occasion in my life, so I work really hard to make it happy for me and my family. 

One of my favourite things this time of year are all of the Christmas movies on Hallmark and Lifetime. I love them all: the worse they are, the better they are. If it were not for the fact that we are marathoning through Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the new episodes, it would be all Christmas, all the time. 

I realize that not everyone will sit through terrible films simply because they feature lots of lights and an unambiguously happy ending. So, for you, dear readers, I've rounded up some of the better ones showing this year.

Source: IMDb


My favourite this year is Angels Sing (2013) with Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton, and Willie Nelson. It's It's a Wonderful Life meets Nashville. Did I mention Harry Connick Jr. is in it? How can it get better than that?

Source: IMDb


Loved Charming Christmas (2015). It's filmed in Dundas Ontario, which is my very favourite town in Ontario. If it was a little closer to Toronto, I'd live there in a heartbeat. I am obsessed with its charming Main Street and love Espresso Cafe, Beanermunky Chocolates, and The Kitchen Witch shop. But I digress... The movie is Scrooge-themed with the cold-hearted business person learning the true meaning of Christmas. It's very pretty to watch and has lots of Canadian content. 

Source: IMDb


Loved Paper Angels (2014). It stars Josie Bisset from Melrose Place and the hot dad from Gossip Girl. It's about the redemptive qualities of the holidays. And it's fabulous. 

Wishful Make-uping

There used to be a Lipstick Index: sales of lipstick would increase when people feared economic hardship. These days, nail polish is a better indicator of people feel the need to soothe their fears with tiny luxury purchases. In any event, now is a welcome time for Sephora's annual 20% off sale.

The only things I need are photo-friendly primer and foundation for the wedding, as well as a refill on my standby Dior polish in Palais Royale. but if I were on the hunt for new makeup, I'd be grabbing these items on sale. 



Together



Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the US. It's a day where we remember how how much the people had to sacrifice to bring us the peace we know. This year, it feels different. The peace feels more tenuous somehow. In person and online a number of us have expressed fear about what the new world will look like now that we seem to have rejected a message of love in favour something else. 

Instead of allowing this to divide us, let us use this to bring us together. To be kinder to each other. To look for opportunities to be a bright spot in someone else's life. 





Crazy Times

For crazy times: the crazy sweater.

Marc Jacobs, Gucci or Gap. Pick your poison.



J Crew Holiday Picks

I've been struggling with anxiety of late. The US elections ugliness has been draining. And a troll has popped up on my IG yet again. Actually, troll is too flattering a term, since Das Sound Machine called Anna Kendrick a troll in Pitch Perfect 2 and she's quite lovely.

I'm trying really hard to focus on the positive things in the world.

Like this:




It feels like the old J. Crew is back, at least in terms of style.

I've picked my Wish List from the new catalogue. I'd be very happy if Santa were to leave any of these items under the Christmas tree.



Have you been watching The Crown? I like it. I was not a huge Downton fan as I found it a little soft. If I want to watch a soap opera, I'll go full Real Housewives (especially since Tinsley Mortimer is joining RHONY!). The Crown is more like Wolf Hall. I'm really enjoying it so far. I'm really looking forward to the development of Princess Margaret's storyline: so much great material from which to draw. Plus, she always had terrific style.

I'm reading Alice Hoffman's newest book, Faithful, which is terrific. I'm also rereading some upcoming picks for the 1010ParkPlace book club. Author Holly Robinson is an absolute delight and I'm looking forward to discussing Folly Cove next week.

Stephen Andrew Jones, who is a terrifically funny and soulful blogger, has a beautiful piece out called Celebrate Regardless. It's a wonderful reminder as we head into the holiday season. I encourage you to head on over to his blog.


Leaf Raking Attire



We've had a crazy warm fall. It's November and we still have most of the leaves on our trees. Still, there has been a lot of raking required. I'm sure one could rake in sweatpants and fleece, but that's not very Instagrammable. Far better to wear something cute should the neighbours walk by. For leaf raking, I like a plaid shirt, the J. Crew excursion vest, and short Bean Boots. Pearls add a festive touch, but obviously the Mikimotos should be saved for other occasions. Something faux is far more suitable.

Happy raking!





Hallloween, poisons, and too many Kit Kats

We all survived Halloween. I'n not a Fan. I'm a very private person IRL and do not like all of the ding donging at my door. While I love witches and darkness and the idea of a thinner veil than usual that night, I don't love hanging faux severed limbs from Dollarama around the house. I give it a big thumbs down and privately celebrate Samhain instead. The kids love it, however, in all of its tacky splendour, so I attempt to be a good sport. I soothe myself by inhaling mini Kit Kats. Today's wedding dress fitting should be a blast. I hope the lady working the zipper has very strong arms.

We had some sad news on the pet front. Thomas was Mr. RJL's cat long before we met and was an ornery barn cat who lived outside. He lived a very full life, scratching and scrapping, and it was only when he became a sweetheart that we realized something was wrong. He went quickly, with rapid onset diabetes and organ failure. His was a life well lived. We will miss him.






I'm noodling away on the novel, researching poisons for one of my characters. It makes the family nervous. I think they are considering hiring a beefeater on days they do not hang up their towels properly!

Visiting the Poison Garden at Alnwick is now at the very top of my bucket list.

source: tripadvisor.com


I also want a trip aboard the Royal Scotsman, and to swan about in an Etro robe aboard a Crystal Cruise (the cruise is something I will be doing shortly.)

On the topic of bucket lists, I have a request of the universe to explain to the real estate agents in my neighbourhood that a Bucket List is different than a To Do list. "Clean the eavestroughs" should never, ever appear on a bucket list in spite of their suggestion on the flyer they sent around. If the only thing you want to do before dying is clean your eaves, I'd suggest you need a slightly bigger life. At least try to watch The Crown on Netflix before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

I am trying to be very, very good during the fall sales since I'm now on this whole Property Empress kick and would rather use my pennies on appreciable assets. But I had to bring home some Face Stockholm highlighter to put in the inner corner of my eyes that have completely disappeared for some reason. I also am embracing the leopard after receiving a lot of compliments on my leopard Forever 21 coat I wore to a friend's wedding, paired with a vintage J Crew dress. The coat - and the fact that I'm standing next to a super glam news anchor - distracted people from my disappearing eyes. I think a leopard sweater is needed post haste! 


Then there is the Anthro dress. Some people take heroin when the world proves to be too much. I swathe myself in velvet. We each have our poison, after all. 

Hope the world is treating you with kindness. 



It's your birthday

 Somebody is 10 today! Free bone from the pet shop...