I saw the movie Jackie on Netflix last night. I've been wanting to see it since it was in the theatres, but the timing never worked out.

The film focuses on Jacqueline Kennedy in the days following the President's assassination. Mainly, I wanted to see it for the fashion. And because the Kennedy family is an endless source of fascination. I had no idea the film was also about faith.

At many points in the film, Jackie feels despondent: her strong Catholic faith challenged by the deaths of two children in infancy and her husband. At several points in the film, she meets with her priest who continually provides her with wise council.

She is forced to wrestle with the question so many of us ask at some point: why does God allow suffering? If He loves us and is all-powerful and all knowing, how do we explain our pain?

The priest offers her a parable, taken from John 9:
Jesus once passed a blind beggar on the road, and his disciples asked, Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? And Jesus said, Neither this man nor his parents sinned. He was made blind so that the works of God could be revealed in him. And with that, he placed mud on his eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. And the man did, and he came back seeing. 
Right now you are blind. Not because you've sinned, but because you've been chosen. So that the works of God can be revealed in you.

Isn't that a sound way of viewing things? Certainly, I'd like it to be true. If suffering can be viewed as a vessel for revealing God's love to others, then perhaps it's not so grim.

The movie is excellent and Natalie Portman is terrific as Jackie. It has a few brief scenes of violence that are quite disturbing, but if you are looking for a great rainy day film about an extraordinary woman, it's a must-see.

So Close to Amazing: Book Review

KariAnne Wood is a DIY blogger at her popular blog, Thistlewood Farm, where she writes about renovating her picturesque farmhouse. People like her leave me in awe, as I try to go through life DIYing as little as possible. I'd outsource breathing if I could get away with it! So when Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary advanced copy of her book, So Close to Amazing: Stories of a DIY Life Gone Wrong . . . and Learning to Find the Beauty in Every Imperfection, I thought that I might not like it. I was sure it would be a neatly spun story of how she renovated her vintage home in the country while homeschooling her perfect children, making her own jam, and modelling swimwear for extra cash. Books like that simply make me feel miserable.

But KariAnne is relatable and real. She's quick to point out her imperfections, including her struggle with her weight, messy minivan, and her feeling that she never quite gets things right: hence the book's title. She tells how her DIY projects were born of necessity (she spent the furniture budget on renovation cost overruns) and not always well received.

The story of her faith walk is a good one for - like many of us - she feels resistance when God puts a call on her life. She writes about the day she felt God wanted her to "just jump" and move her family out to the country:
I can't jump, I said silently. I have a husband and a family and friends and responsibilities and a house with a big mortgage, and I'm going to give a speech at the end-of-the-year program at school. And I finally found the perfect person to highlight my hair. 
She gets the highlights thing: I told you she was relatable.

She is self-aware, realizing she fell into the trap of being a classic big city type, who thinks she can teach the people of her new small town a thing or two:
I had been thinking an almighty God had called us to this place and this town at this time in our lives for the lessons we were going to teach.  
In reality, we were here for the lessons we were going to learn. 
This book is relatively light in tone. She alludes to darker days, such as when her twins were born and faced a number of medical issues. She alludes to feelings of loneliness when she moved so far from home and when her military husband was sent to war when they were first married. But she does not get into the details. I would love to hear how she maintained her faith during those times but this is not that kind of book. It remained light and funny and is not unlike the Hallmark movies she seems to love so much. For the record, this is not a bad thing.

Each chapter includes details for completing cute DIY projects like a Just Jump sign and a Flip the Script Centerpiece. As a non-DIYer, I did not pay much attention to these as I have no intention of attempting them. But I'm sure they are quite good since she's known for her excellent DIY advice.

If you've ever wanted to see the blooper reel behind your favourite DIY blog, you will love this book. KariAnne Wood is funny, charming, and relatable and reading this book is like having a coffee morning with a new, fun friend.

Return of the Lady

The fall magazines are starting to hit the shelves.

I'm longing for a return to lady-like dressing. Perhaps it's because the world seems particularly uncivilized right now and my flight to safety lies in the classics.

The only pieces that appeal so far are in the pre-fall offering from J. Crew. I love this Jackie cardigan with embroidered pheasants, lady jacket with fringe hem, and signet flap bag.

I'm starting to want to dress like my Aunt Esther. Perhaps that's the evolution of things as I age. My aunt used to babysit me on occasion and she'd take me to lunch with her friends at Woodward's (any Western Canadians out there remember $1.49 day?) I still miss the smell of White Shoulders and faint cigarette smoke. I'm longing for her brand of lady-like toughness. She never did suffer fools gladly. 

If you crave a return to adult dressing, you might enjoy this article at Racked. (Warning: The language is salty.) 

Do you have any style goals this fall or does the news have you craving nothing but pyjamas? 



I've given my blog a little refresh. I love the whole idea of a makeover. For people, houses, and blogs. Every once in a while, I think it's good to check in and ask, Is this working for me? 

I named the blog Saved by Salt Water at a time when I was living for my month by the sea. Now that I'm back home for a bit, I wanted something else. Given that I'm doing more faith blogging now, a return to Dwell on These Things made sense. Plus, Dwell on These Things works with the fact that I also write about design and style. It's a return to my roots which - not coincidentally - is what I'm doing with my hair, sporting a shorter and slightly darker style.

We are having a deliciously unstructured week. I always think that one of the signs that your life is where it should be, is you are happy to simply be. I used to spend lots of time dashing here, there, and everywhere to distract myself from my life. It's nice to be able to sit and enjoy the downtime without angst.

I've been able to stop and smell the roses a bit - or at least photograph some really pretty things.

I hope you are able to find some peaceful time this summer too.

In the red

Whenever fall is approaching, I'm always drawn to the colour red.

I love a red door.

Benjamin Moore Aura Grand Entrance Dutch Tulip

And a red dress.

And a red lip. 

Face Stockholm Cranberry Veil

Are you into any particular look right now as you start to plan for fall?

Tuesday is the new Monday

Hello lovelies,

Are you as confused about what day of the week it is as I am? This is the first summer that we've not had wall-to-wall plans and things are a bit free and easy. As a result, I rarely know what day it is!

Yesterday was a provincial holiday, which means almost everything is open. But lots of people make it a long weekend. So it was kind of a long weekend, but not really a long weekend...

We celebrated with a quick trip to Niagara on the Lake. It's always pretty there.

We also took in The Big Sick. I urge you to run, not walk, to your local multiplex. It's fabulous and not just because Holly Hunt is magnificent in it.


I'm reading an advanced copy of KariAnne Wood's So Close to Amazing. I'm really liking it as it's a faith-based behind the scenes memoir from looks-perfect-on-the-outside blogger. I'll review it once I've read it all.

Jen Hatmaker's newest book launches tomorrow and it promises to be all kinds of good. Can't wait to read it! She's hilarious.

I hope y'all are having a lovely summer so far and you have a few weeks of reading and movies and not knowing what day is when...


Home again home again

We are home. I miss the sea already in spite of having it run through our taps.

We were in no rush to get home so we meandered through the US on our way back. We spent some time at LL Bean flagship store in Maine because I like the idea of the outdoors (reading an outdoor catalogue while tucked snugly indoors is my idea of a wonderful time!)

We breezed by Stephen King's original home since the gates are worth the drive to Bangor. If you've not done the Airline drive from New Brunswick, you must. It's gorgeous!

We then dipped down into Massachusetts. Because Massachusetts! It's possibly my very favourite of states. We hit Salem and Concord - two of my favourite towns what with me being a literary type and all.
Downtown Salem

Orchard House
We stayed in Albany specifically because there is a Target and a Cracker Barrel there. As Canadians, we are deprived of these excellent establishments and have to get our fill when we travel.

Biscuits and corn muffins! 

Serena did not miss out as it was her last road trip with us. I think her final resting place will be by the sea but we will likely fly back in the fall at some point. I miss that little dog so much!

When we returned home, it looked completely different.

Remember my Dynasty staircase?

It's been muted, by painting it black and white.

And the orange tile?

Now a wire brushed grey-toned hardwood.

The grey pulls forward the stainless steel and works with the brown much like a brown dress shoe with a nice charcoal suit from Brooks.

They turned the island since before - weirdly - the seating area was hugged up against the sink. Now we can have people sit and chat as we cook.

Where there was so much shiny orange brown wood, there is now a more muted matte finish and it sets off the furniture nicely, making the brown leather and lacquered pieces look patina-ed instead of glossy.

The biggest different is upstairs, where we ripped out all of the wall-to-wall carpet including a bilious green one! The grey wood is much more calming.

It was a crazy amount of work to do all of the floors since it meant everything had to be packed up and moved, but it was worth it in the end. Thank you to those of you who urged me to make the leap.

I'm now focusing on some writing projects for fall. And researching water systems. I'm also researching other potential pups. Our big dog is missing his bossy little companion. And so am I.

I hope you had a nice July and are enjoying your August. If you are in the mood for back to school shopping, Avery is is donating $1 each time you use the hashtags #AveryGivesBack and #AveryMakingFaces on Instagram or Avery's Facebook page, or you can enter their emoji challenge for a shot at a GRAND PRIZE of $500 and three secondary prizes of a $100 pre-paid cash card. Money raised goes to the Michael Pinball Clemons Foundation. Avery sent me a press package including 2 binders, but I am not paid for this shout-out. Pinball Clemons is a former neighbour and all-round wonderful man and his foundation does valuable work.

Life's a beach

After a whole lot of packing and driving and putting together furniture and dealing with the water, this is what it's all about...

If you are along the south shore of Nova Scotia, make sure you visit Risser's Beach. It's a little slice of heaven. 

Summer finds

The interesting thing about living ocean-side, is you pretty much stop caring what you wear. I have not had real makeup on for weeks. And I pretty much live in an East Coast Lifestyle hoodie.

The key right now is washability. I'd brought down my normal summer wardrobe of Tory Burch tunics and white J. Brand jeans. Only, it's hard to take care of that kind of thing here since many of the pieces are hand-wash and hang to dry. We must be very careful with our water usage right now, which makes all of that washing out of the question. We could wash things in town and then take them back here to hang dry, but things dry very slowly right on the ocean. Using a dryer makes so much more sense, but most of my things have never seen the inside of a dryer.

So I'm down to wearing Everlane t-shirts and a couple of pairs of pants and shorts. And I honestly don't care.

It doesn't make one terribly interested in shopping in spite of all of the pretty, pretty things tempting me from my inbox right now.

Are Chanel jackets good in the dryer? 

Normally, I'd be combing through the online summer sales to pick up some pieces that I could stretch into fall but, so far, I've only purchased this cashmere scarf from Club Monaco, which is marked down from $140 to $48.30 Canadian and therefore could not be resisted.

I've liked what Club Monaco has offered over the last couple of seasons. I used to shop there all of the time in university, so it's a brand I like to support.

Mainly, I've been picking up some local crafts to bring home. I picked up a little folk art sheep at the Hooked Rug Museum of North American. They have a number of Maud Lewis pieces on display.

I picked up a needle felted pincushion at the Lunenburg farmer's market because I loved the marbled colour.

And I'm bringing back my pig cutting board from Ocean View Woodworking - also found at the market. Allan's pieces are gorgeous and if you have a wedding gift or Christmas gift to buy, you can order a custom piece (think monograms!) I love the Whale charcuterie boards too.


We also picked up some decorative buoys in Blue Rocks. They are only $15 at a little shop with a cash box that works on the honour system. They make a pretty accent piece. 

I also found this cute recycled infinity scarf made out of recycled silk scarves by an artisan in Halifax at p'lovers in Mahone Bay. My mother, who is visiting, gifted it to me.

I found a huge ivory unstructured cardigan at Ardene in the Bridgewater mall. It was $11 on sale and I love it. I have no idea how to wash it but at $11 it was worth the risk.

As I say, I am living really differently right now and it's kind of freeing.

Have you been making any interesting summer purchases?

Not all beach walks and clam chowder

For the most part, our seaside adventure has been a good one. You can't beat the view. The beaches are beautiful. And the clam chowder is beyond.

Waking up every morning to the sound of sea birds and the smell of salt water is heavenly. This really is God's country.

But buying a house on the ocean has with it a learning curve that is steep. Semi off-grid living is not for the faint of heart. We are just getting water back after a grim two days without.

On the back of losing Serena, this hit me hard.

Isn't it strange, how we can roll with the big things and the little things can unseat us? Over the last couple of months, I've come to terms with my diminished vision, battled vertigo, and lost my beloved dog. I've run into the most abusive person I know at my church. This ocean-side experience was meant to be restorative after a time of trial. I was to be saved by salt water - a nod to the words in Mark and John - seeking out kindred spirits and a closer walk with God.

Instead, salt water ran through our taps, leaving us parched.

And what does one do with that?

I've been turning to Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way, in the wee small hours as comfort. And I landed on this beautiful passage that spoke so clearly to me:
I just know that—old scars can break open like fresh wounds and your unspoken broken can start to rip you wide open.

Trauma is the periwinkle shell I find in walks along the beach. Any break in the hard outside reveals the layers of hurt spiralling inward.

Voskamp's entire book is about the act of breaking and the surprise gift it can be. A Farmer's wife, she writes in metaphor:
The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast.
She explains,
For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.
You might mistake it for complete destruction.

What looks like the end is really a beginning, much like that fridge magnet saying about the caterpillar and the butterfly.

The brokenness is a conduit for our salvation.

As Voskamp writes,
The life that yields the most—yields the most.
Maybe the water thing is a gift. Certainly, it's brought me into real communion with people in town I might not otherwise have come to know. I had to miss a cocktail party, but instead got to chat with the water guy. We've had less time to sightsee, but instead I've come to know the lady at the hardware store.

I'm grateful for simple things. Like seeing our neighbour drive up with a tank full of clean water in the bed of his truck. And being able to wash the dishes by hand. (We are still puzzling over why a place with water restrictions had a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and a deep freestanding bathtub...)

I easily could have spent my month here drinking rosé and feasting on the rather excellent goat cheese: my old life lurks around every corner. Instead, we are living a new way of life with Purox buys and Walmart and the use of a laundromat that offers a wash, dry and fold service so that we are able to go into town and have lunch.

Maybe the path to healing lies not in doing nothing, but in doing something quite different. Maybe it lies with the realization that His ways are higher than our ways, and part of the plan is to crack us out of our cozy shells.

The life that yields the most—yields the most. 

It's not entirely clear, and not at all desired, but I know that - somehow - the threat of ticks and the lack of water and the loss of our dog is every bit as necessary for us as the beach walks and clam chowder.


/via/ I saw the movie Jackie on Netflix last night. I've been wanting to see it since it was in the theatres, but the timing never ...