Keep Calm and Vision On

It's been a zoo around here. And not a classy zoo. It's one of those sad roadside ones they are forever shutting down.

I've had to drive here, there, and everywhere, and grab food on the run. Ugh. I hate that! I feel so bleh. I'm going to a wellness thingamabob tomorrow, which I hope will inspire me.

Plus, I seriously thought I was going blind. I have bad eyes - particularly the right one. And then last weekend, my left eye went totally red. The Mr. was out of town so I was up at 3am googling eye problems. Word to the wise: never Google "eye problems" at 3am unless you want to be permanently scarred.

The doctor says it's just a slight scratch - likely from my contacts - so I'm back in glasses for a while. Grrr. My eye doc is looking to see if I'm a candidate for surgical correction. I hope I am. I don't mind reading glasses but regular glasses get in the way of sports and working out.

Have to stare at my vision board extra hard these days to Keep Calm.

And I must try not to focus on the bottles of champagne underneath!

Happy Friday, y'all. Hope you have a restful weekend!


Lean in to your dreams...

Why is it that every time I set a Big Goal, my inbox is flooded with temptations? I know I subscribe to Chanel emails, but I don't think I've bought an Emma Hope shoe since 2012! (Even though I LOVE them.)


Clearly, I need to up my journaling and vision board time, and decrease my email subscriptions!

Sweet Home Stepford

I hope you are having a good week. It's been a busy week, with too many children needing to be in too many places at once. I'm always happy once I get to hump day during weeks like this. I can start to breathe a sigh of relief.

My latest on 1010ParkPlace talks about my love of staying home. I love denning in: it's such a luxury. That being said, I was at the school this morning with the Grade 6 moms and they are awesome. When I first came to Stepford, I seemed to only meet the wing dings. It's nice to have a solid community now. There are some great peeps here.

Speaking of great peeps: I've found a winner in Bravo's Sweet Home Oklahoma. The Goyards, Tubbers the Frenchie, the outfits. Love it all.

Oklahoma Jennifer and I are basically living parallel lives. Lee and Angie are peaches. They all have hearts of gold. I could move right in. How far is Oklahoma from Stepford?

Have any of your embraced the show?

Enjoy your day!


Money, money, money. / Always sunny. / In the rich man's world.

I was feeling a bit bleh after the weekend. I pulled together all of our tax information, which always makes me grumpy. And I gathered passport information. Plus, my knee has been bugging me so I missed my Monday step class.

Things got so grim that this is how I spent my Monday morning.


Ah, yes, the classic film: Lifetime's Sorority Murder. Time well spent, my friends.

Whenever things get this low, it kicks me into action. I pulled out my favourite crystal (Lepidolite), turned on some motivating podcasts (Carrie Green), and got to work.

One of the things I've been researching is the story we tell ourselves about money. In Stepford, money is talked about incessantly. Who had lots. Who doesn't have enough. Who is selling their home due to the lack of it.

I was always one of those people for whom money was never a concern. I know it's unpopular to say since complaining about money is always a nice bonding experience, but I just always seemed to have enough. Starting in university, whenever I needed money for something (read: clothes), I would get some weird scholarship for right-handed blonde English-Classics double majors or what have you. Then, I went from travel agent to management consultant to investment banker, even though I dropped math in grade 11 (to do this, I completed my MBA and got a scholarship for that too.)

After my divorce, I started thinking about scarcity for the first time. Having divorce lawyers warn you about divorced-women-poverty-statistics will do that to you! When I became a single mom, there was so much talk of scarcity around me, I started to believe it. And yet, somehow, I still had enough. I lost money on the matrimonial home but then made money on the home I bought shortly thereafter. I lost money paying a lawyer to untangle me from Satan's less-nice-cousin (I think almost everyone runs into Satan's less-nice-cousin after divorce) but then found a house that was cheaper than my previous house by exactly the cost of the legal fees. In other words, there has always been enough: I've just forgotten to trust it.

Now that I'm transitioning from stay-at-home mom to freelancer, I've forgotten how to ask for compensation. I do far too much work without being paid fairly. It's a problem for a lot of stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce. I did one of those rejoining the workforce programs and the messaging was terrible. It was all "be happy we are paying you anything" rather than helping us get paid for what our work is worth.

I started to develop a mindset of scarcity rather than abundance, so I've been doing a ton of research into overcoming money blocks as I think it's something that affects a lot of women in midlife.

I had a chance to ask coach Cheryl Richardson how to overcome money blocks on Facebook and she said, in a nutshell: decide what you want to be paid, make the offer, make no excuses, and, if need be, walk away: perhaps this is not the client for you. She said that once you do it once or twice, you will feel so much better for it. And she was right!

I think, as middle-aged women, many of us have been used to subverting our needs and have trouble asking for what we want. Plus, whenever anyone breaks out of the pack, there is some level of criticism in some circles. I think part of the problem is that a lot of moms run these side hustles involving selling things at parties to their friends. As a new girl to town, I hated being asked out for coffee and then receiving a pitch for diet drinks or youthifying creams. If you want to sell me something, ask! I think it's put a bit of a taint around the whole entrepreneurship thing that I'm mentally trying to overcome.

Have you run into money blocks? Do you find yourself selling yourself short or undervaluing your skills? What has worked for you in overcoming this?

Grad dresses, Richard Simmons, and the Subtle Art of Ghosting

I hope you are having a lovely weekend. We were home, for once. My daughter wanted to go Grade 8 grad dress shopping so we went to Sherway Gardens. There are shops that seem to specialize in this sort of thing now. It's a whole lot of taffeta, people. 

After trying on several options at Honey, where a fabulous sales rep helped us, she chose a classic number that makes her look lovely. It does a mother proud. Next, we have to find shoes. She's tiny and wants a significant heel so she's less tiny. We've seen lots of lovely ones but not in size 4 1/2 to 5. We will likely have to search online. 

The Notorious D.O.G. has been struggling with her ears, yet again. It's really harshing her buzz. 

Like many, I was drawn in by the podcast, Missing Richard Simmons (spoilers ahead.) What started out as fascinating turned into voyeuristic ick, as it became every more clear that Richard Simmons was alive and well and simply wanted to be left alone.


I so get it. Sometimes, you just get tired. You can only help the world when you are feeling very strong.

The podcast criticizes his methods for ghosting people. But when you have so many people who feel close to you, is there any other way? It would be exhausting to call them all up and explain his rationale. Presumably, if he had that kind of energy, he would not need to withdraw in the first place. When they started the podcast, I thought there was some kind of story to be told. All of this real time, under-researched journalism it not always great: I wish they'd found out if there was a story to be told before they told it. In the end, I simply felt bad for their subject. 

The Mr. and I have a new weekend habit of seeking out new places for breakfast. We just get in the car and drive until we see a decent looking place. It's like being on vacation. It's a short, cheap meal so it's less commitment than, say, dinner and is perfectly designed for spontaneity. 

What did you get up to this weekend? I find this is a bit of a shoulder season between winter craziness and the new spring activity schedule. I'm relishing the down time. 


Reinvention is my cardio

Have you ever reinvented yourself? Tish Jett asks this question over on her blog. I like to do it as often as possible.  How boring would it be to be who you were in, say, high school? Perish the thought!

In my 45 years, I've been a quiet academic, boss babe, party girl, granola mom, defeated survivor, neurotic creative, wilting violet, warrior, wide-eyed innocent, jaded blogger, wellness enthusiast, fashionista, film geek, luddite, and hygge poster girl. Now, I'm some blend of hopeful entrepreneur and family gal. I'm liking this identity so much, I may stick with it for a while.

I think one of the most freeing things is to be able to switch our stories any time we want. If you don't like your life, write a new narrative. Take more risks, or fewer risks. Go out more, or stay in. Expand your circle or close ranks with a few besties. Become a cardio queen, or embrace your inner yogi. Dress to impress, or dress to please yourself. Save for a few key elements - you really should continue to look after your dependents - it's all up to you. I find that the most wonderful thing.

Are you a fan of reinvention? How have you reinvented yourself?

Sweet Home...

The jury is still out on Sweet Home Oklahoma. But I do love Jennifer's dog, Tubbers...


Serena might be in love...

Seasonal Shifts

Happy Tuesday! Hope you are having a good one!

Whenever it's a new season, I crave making some small changes to my routine. I wanted to find a new easy breakfast since that's one of the great pleasures in life. 

I found a recipe for Bircher in The Happy Kitchen that is terrific and easy peasy.

It's made with skim milk (50ml), plain yogurt (4 tablespoons), oats (3 tablespoons), chia seeds (a teaspoon or so), a pinch of cinnamon, and sliced almonds. I put it in a measuring cup overnight and then add berries and pumpkin seeds in the morning. It's super healthy and has all sorts of mood boosting ingredients. Yum! 

I just started reading Danielle LaPorte's White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping It Real on Your Spiritual Path from One Seeker to Another, which comes out in May. It's unself-helpy self-help if that makes any sense. I'm digging it big time. 

I just wrapped my Pilates lessons and am now embarking on classes. It's so hard! I took it up to give my adrenals a break and now I do step class to give myself a little rest. The core is everything, my friends, everything! As it breathing. 

Are you changing up your routine to herald the change in season? What are you doing differently? 


Spring Self Care

Happy first day of spring! And World Storytelling Day. And International Day of Happiness. It's a good day, no?

Thank you for the beach house design tips here and on Insta. I'm looking forward to this project a lot.

Have you seen the Google logo today? Love it! Spring is an excellent thing to celebrate.

I find that this is the time of year when the energy from the New Year tends to sag. To counteract that, I'm ramping up the self-care. My Go To tools are the motivational videos of Danielle LaPorte, Cheryl Richardson, Gabrielle Bernstein, and the Female Entrepreneur Association.

I'm also drinking more water (I add mint chlorophyll or a splash of cranberry juice since I HATE the taste of water) and cooking healthier meals. On Sunday, we cooked the Immunity Boosting tomato sauce from Oh She Glows. We mixed regular pasta with the zucchini pasta to make it a bit more kid-friendly and added peppers and pine nuts to the sauce in addition to everything else in the recipe. Soooo good. Healthy food = Love.

On the weekend, we watched The Invention of Lying and Postcards from the Edge. Both a good, light pick me up movies. I think that watching funny movies can be an act of self-care too.

Is anyone out there watching Real Housewives of Toronto? They need more adorable dogs a la RHoBH and more drama a la RHoNY. I think Roxy is the only one Fabulous enough to be a bona fide Real Housewife but time will tell. I'm missing my Ladies of London... Tonight is the debut of Sweet Home Oklahoma on Bravo and W. They have a french bulldog so it looks somewhat promising.

Good food, bad tv, exercise is my mood lifting trifecta. What works for you?

By the sea

The Mr. and I just returned from our summer place by the sea. We made a quick two day trip out there to measure for furniture and make sure the place was really ours (property law out east seems quite casual.)

The flight is ridiculously easy. Props to the Hamilton airport and the Westjet staff who made the flight entirely painless. Everyone is friendly, there are no lines, and it all runs very smoothly. It really felt like no bigger deal than taking the Go Train. It's now officially the Halifax Jitney.

I think we are going to like it in Nova Scotia. First off, everyone is ridiculously friendly. We went to the farmer's market in Lunenburg and after a five minute chat with one of the vendors, we were extended an invitation to a summer barbecue. Apparently, this is normal. We met up with some friends of friends who've moved out there permanently from Ontario and they say friendliness is de rigueur. They were also ridiculously friendly and walked us through the hows and whats of Lunenburg, Chester, and Mahone Bay. There are so many amazing restaurants. I think I will weigh 600 pounds by the end of the summer. I do hope they locate Richard Simmons soon. I think I might be in need of him!

There will be a small sense of culture shock - not as much as when I moved from Big Smoke to Stepford, I suspect - but still some. I'm not sure where I will shop if I need something for a party. I kept hoping a Prada would rise up out of nowhere like that art installation in Marfa but it did not.

/Gray Malin/

I'll have to ask the summering kajillionaires on Hirtles Beach when I bump into them near the champagne fridge at the Rose Bay General Store. Maybe Alexander McQueen has a pop up shop?

The biggest challenge will be furnishing the place. I want to buy local as much as possible but we may end up doing Ikea and Wayfair as well since we can have it delivered there before we arrive this summer.

It's a true tabula rasa since it's unfurnished and we have nothing purchased already.

This was the dining room, but as it has the best views of the ocean in the place, I'd like it to be a little sitting room. There is probably enough room for a table in the kitchen, which is quite large.

I'm thinking white slipcovered sofas in the living room. We want to maximize sleeping space so we need a sofa bed for sure. 

The master bedroom will also function as a small office, I think. I'd love a desk under the dormer window that faces the sea. 

We will pack the second bedroom with beds. A bunk and a twin bed will fit, which will allow friends and family to stay more easily. At some future date, we might rent it out; it all depends on how much time we are able to stay there. 

Our deck overlook the ocean. I've love to put a massive dining room table here for al fresco meals. After all, the whole idea of the place is to be as immersed in the salt air as possible. 

The Mr. and I brought four giant suitcases with us, filled with towels and bedding from my parent's old cottage. 

I had to bring my I Love Not Camping Anne Taintor tray and the Caroline Gardner tea towel from Indigo that reads: 'she dreamt of diamond earrings and a life on the ocean waves...'

What would you do with the space? Also, would you paint? 

I was thinking all serene creams,  to highlight the outdoors and the exposed beams, but the colours as is are very Lunenburg in nature and look quite cheerful now that the place is emptied out. 

Keep calm and carry on...


Spring Broke...

Happy Tuesday!

We are boot deep in snow. It's crazy. My mind was already on summer. We've had to change spring break travel plans but it's all good. The littles are still making it to Washington and we will still make it to the coast. There are simply more airplanes involved now. The dogs will still be looked after at Casa SxSW, so all is right in the world.

Spoilers ahead: Is anyone else watching The Bachelor? What was up with the body language on After the Rose. Nick and Vanessa looked like they were sitting in family court, not announcing their engagement. And she used to be an actress? What? That never came out on the show. Makes more sense why she went on it. I still can't believe he passed over Rachel. That girl was a winner. Vanessa is a winner too. It just seems like she's not super into the relationship.

I took the kids to Starsky yesterday. It's a European grocery store in Mississauga that sells a lot of Polish products. I loaded up on poppyseed loaf, sugar lambs, deli meats and cheeses, and Eveline cosmetics. Sooo good.

I was so sad to hear that Amy Krouse Rosenthal died yesterday. Her essay, You May Want to Marry My Husband, in NYT's Modern Love struck a chord with so many, as her final wish for a new partner for her husband was seen as the pinnacle of selflessness and true love. Her column opened a dialogue about what until death us do part really means.

If you live in the North East, stay safe in the storm.


Spring forward

The only bit of spring around these parts is in a vase...

We are back into snow. Grrrr. The little kids driving vacation has turned into a flying vacation. Flexibility is key when travelling. 

Serena is less than impressed with the weather, hence resting bitch face....

I'm looking for ways to bring a touch of spring into my house. 

I need a new rug for my office and I'm very drawn to pink these days. I'm kind of loving this one...

I also want to add a blue and white pot planter to my collection to house tulip and hyacinth plants. As I age, I'm becoming a fan of planted flowers rather than cut ones. I think this one is quite fetching...

What are you doing to springify your house? Are you enjoying nice weather or grumpily putting on winter boots yet again?


Saturday Shuffle

Happy Saturday!

Hope you are planning a good one.

We are in holiday mode around here since it's March Break. I love to start off a holiday Saturday with a big cup of coffee, something sweet, and a fun and irreverent read (Tatler is always a sure bet...)

Right now, I'm loving Sophistication Is Overrated by The Slageter Sisters. It's equal parts cookbook/entertaining guide and comedy routine. Imagine the Sugarbaker sisters writing a cookbook after a fifth of whiskey and an altercation with Ray Don. It's hilarious. So far, my favourite idea is a party celebrating the First Anniversary with the New Trophy Wife.

I think I'll host one of these next January. I am 5 years younger than the Mr. after all!

Miss Thing was at the vet again.

We finally seem to have kicked the ear infection after 5 rounds of treatment. And, fingers crossed, her lungs are clear. I have to decide whether or not to take her back to visit her therapy clients. We both enjoy the work. But the vet cautioned me that therapy dogs can get sick and now that Miss Thing is a senior herself, we need to be careful. It may have been coincidence, but the whole merry adventure started up after a client (caution here, if reading with your morning croissant!) was sick on her. I'm really not sure what to do. Sigh.

There is nothing I like better than a motivating playlist. Here's what's on mine right now:

It got me through a crazy windy drive this week, where I was literally white knuckling it and trucks were being blown here and there. If you use Spotify, you can listen along. It's great Saturday driving music.

Later, gators...


You spin me...

The cruise we were on in early January was quite magical. The service was beyond perfect, the food was amazing, and the amenities were the best in the cruise world. That still, however, did not protect us from Poseidon's wrath and we had a very bumpy day and night at sea where the Gulf of Mexico hit the Straights of Florida. They had to cancel the entertainment, lest the Broadway star be tossed across the stage; they moved the high tea to the lower dining room; and most people had room service for dinner lest they tumble down the hall (this is a cruiseline favoured by wealthy seniors: there was a lineup of high-end Zimmer frames at each meal.) 

I'm prone to vertigo so when the ship got rocking, I simply got a bunch of movies from the ship's library and tucked into bed. The rocking was actually fairly soothing that night.

Sadly, when I got of the boat, a few days later, I was still rocking. The symptoms subsided after a couple of weeks. By mid-February, I was feeling pretty good so I drove the little kids up north for a ski weekend. And then I decided to go tubing with them. Whizzing down an iced hill in a spinning inflatable tire is an excellent idea for one just over vertigo, no? Not my finest decision. 

(Note: when I have Vertigo, I do not look like Kim Novak...)

Since then, the bouts of dizziness have been on and off. I've been to the doctor and she said to avoid any moving/spinning endeavours. Well, you don't have to ask me twice! 

I've heard of so many people suffering from vertigo this year. Migraines are reportedly bad too although, touch wood, I've only had a couple in my life. I'm blaming the up and down barometric pressure and general world stress....

So you suffer from vertigo? What helps? I've read about physiotherapy being effective but have yet to try that myself.

Enjoy your weekend, lovelies. I hope it's a good one and only makes your head spin in a positive way! 


Kitchen Conundrum

Happy Thursday!

Have you seen Wishful Drinking on HBO? It's a filmed version of Carrie Fisher's theatre production. It's well worth seeing. She's hilarious. She really was one of a kind.

So here's what's on my mind today... We're trying to decide what to do with our kitchen.

Our house is open concept with a "great room" leading onto the kitchen. Who decided to call this type of room "great"? I like traditional home design with separate rooms and find this newfangled concept neither fish nor fowl.

To make matters worse, somebody, somewhere along the line, decided that even though it was one big flowing space, they should just arbitrarily put down tile in half of it.

Notice the line. Also, the lack of rug: this was the scene of the french bulldog/Roomba incident! 

I do not love the kitchen as I prefer a bright and airy space. And don't even get me started on the Baltic Brown granite. Baltic Brown is designer-speak for Granite of a Lesser God. In some light, it's practically purple. We lightened the look a bit when we removed some of the wood to add the hood required for our new gas range but it's still darker than I'd like.

The real issue, however, is the dining room table. Because we made the dining room into a formal parlour/office, we have to entertain in the kitchen. On the tile. I hate having a fancy dress dinner on tile. It seems unseemly. Plus, I hate grout. Even the word is awful.

We have a new table on order in a gunmetal-stained oak that will make the space a bit more formal, but there is still the very big Problem of the Tile. Trust me, I realize that these are truly Stepford-type problems to have, but I've seen my peers weep when the stove knobs arrive in the wrong colour. They'd simply collapse into a heap with my tile issue.

So.... what to do.

For the kitchen, I was considering painting the cabinets grey, but it's really nice wood and it seems a shame to cover it, especially since there are rumblings in the design world that wood is coming back.

I quite like RHoNY's Sonja Morgan's kitchen:


Hers seems to work and when I look at the elements, they are not that different. Dark wood cabinets, dark granite, stainless appliances and tile, plus a bunch of big windows looking onto greenery. So I think the problem is not so much the kitchen, but the fact we are not entertaining in her dining room:


Also, I'd like Sonja's nose...

The easiest thing is just to re-floor the kitchen to make it all a little more formal. And I'd turn the island, so the lucite bar stools that match our chairs face out. I'd like to match the wood because if we change it, we have a lot of changing to do, including the massive Dynasty-like staircase.

It's something to behold, no? Look at the catwalk at the top of the photo. We are still thinking of mounting the Stepford production of Starlight Express.

Alexis and Krystal would be pea-green with envy.


You can also see the giant, solid mahogany, repurposed church door that prevents people from coming into my office. When people ask me what the secret is to blending a family of 7 people, I can honestly say that the church played a very key role! Sometimes, I simply close the door and hide.

Matching the wood floors means clearing out and letting them sand and restain. It was suggested that we pack up a lot of our things, and I nearly had a heart attack. I've moved way too many times over the last few years and am reluctant to do that. Plus, sanding is always hell on wheels.

I'll probably do nothing until it's time again to move. And then I'll bustle around and make it completely perfect for somebody else and be resentful as all get-out.

What is your approach to renovating? Go big or go home, small bites, or ignore it all until it falls in around your ears?


Happy Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day!

This is a day to celebrate our victories, lift up those who suffer, and foster the strength to battle continued injustice. It feels particularly important this year.

I've felt a lot of love this year from the various women in my life: my mom, my aunt, my daughter, my maternal grandmother (she's very present even though she died when I was young), the yoga girls, the retreat girls, the moms, the online community, the Female Entrepreneurship Association, the writers, the readers of this blog...

I'm spending today having lunch with a girlfriend, hanging out a bit with my daughter, and then attending a seminar with another girlfriend. In between, there is work and swimming lessons. For me, this is a perfect way to spend the day.

I hope this day is filled with celebration, resolution, and activism, and it restores your spirit in some way.


Coffee Table Book Review: Seven Sisters Style

Happy Tuesday, kitty cats.

Hope you are having a good one. My Tuesday is better than my Monday. At least the dogs have not destroyed anything in the house. (Sailor and Serena are in a race to the bottom right now. Sailor is still leading, after breaking my mother's wrist when we were on honeymoon, but Serena has destroyed two expensive rugs and a Roomba so she's keeping pace.)

I've been busy writing. I've written a couple of pieces for Huffington Post that can be found here (on improving your mood) and here (on the power of storytelling.)

I've decided to give away two rose quartz angels for the draw. Because that's how I roll when I'm practicing abundance thinking. Congratulations to Regine and Patricia!! I've emailed you and your angels will be on the way to you soon.

Today, I thought I'd review a coffee table book I just bought.

I adore coffee table books. Tim Walker Pictures is, of course, the Mother Ship, to which all other coffee table books are compared. As Faux Fuchsia puts it, it's an 11/10.

I recently added to my collection with Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look:

I also love all all things preppy. My 1980s private school upbringing instilled in me a love of Brooks Brothers, KJP, J. Crew, L.L. Bean, and Ralph Lauren. I love a good sweater set and Bass Weejuns. I prefer summer as a verb. And at the end of Pretty in Pink, I still want Molly Ringwald to get together with Blaine, not Ducky.

I have all of the preppy handbooks:

So of course, when I saw Seven Sisters Style, I had to partake.

It's quite good. It provides a history of the style popularized at prestigious women's colleges. I love the images and my only criticism is that I'd like more full-size colour photos. Still, the ones provided are gorgeous. Here a a few highlights. 

Isn't Jane Fonda stunning? That's her above. She was enrolled in Vassar's class of 1959.  

If you love throwback preppy style, you'll want to add this book to your collection. It's on the honour roll, as I give it 8/10. 


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...