Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy 50th Dawn!

One of my best friends in the whole wide world turns 50 today!

Sometimes she reads this blog and I hope she does today so can read how much I love her!!!

This is she and I at our husbands' joint 50th birthday party a year ago:

The man in back is our friend Mike, not a guy photo-bombing us!

This is she and I at university:

and a few years after that:

Isn't she beautiful?

I met Dawn when I was 16 years old.  I had just moved to Fredericton and I was standing in the hallway and she kind of danced by.  She is always kind of dancing.

She is one of the smartest people you would ever meet and she is one of the kindest.  If I was in jail, she would be my first call, cause I'm not sure Barry would take my call.

You are lucky in life if you have a good friend.  You are luckier still if you've had that same friend for pretty much your whole life!  You would love her if you met her and if you are lucky enough to meet her someday, don't hate her because she is so beautiful and an effortless size 4.  I'm sure she has faults; I just haven't found them!

If you are lucky you have a few loves in your life  - she is one of mine (as is her husband!)

Love you Dawn!  Welcome to the Happy Decade!


And I also understand that the glorious B Lovely over at the witty Do You Mind blog is also celebrating on this fine day!  Wish I was there to raise a glass to you Miss B!  Head right over and wish her many returns of the day!


And oh yeah:


Hope your little witches and goblins have fun tonight!

Have a Happy Halloween (and Birthday!) and stay safe out there!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Style Wednesday: Polished for the Holiday Season

I almost never wear nail polish on my hands.

As a gardener and an overall klutz, I am always chipping it off and it looks horrible after a couple of days and it never seems worth the effort.

My toes on the other hand, are almost always covered in polish.  This past Monday I went for a pedicure.  It had been awhile; I normally do my own pedicures because I am, well, cheap.  However, I received a gift certificate to a local spa awhile back and decided that this was the day to use it.

The results:

But there is something about the holiday season that brings out every ounce of excess in me...I despair for the house this season as I will have time to REALLY decorate, not just slapdash it all up...I feel positively Fezziwig-ish in November and December leading up to the holidays!

Someone may need to reach out and comfort old Barry...

Anyhow, dear daughter and I were shopping for nail polish last week and we came upon the Mariah Carey OPI Holiday Collection.

Oh Mariah - you can sing, but you kind of scare me, though you do make some pretty nail polish colours!


There are delicious reds and glittery pots of sequin-y goodness!

I admit that Cute Little Vixen (on my toes up above) and In My Santa Suit came home with me, as did this little number:

It is clear nail polish with these random sequin/rhinestone/disco ball bits in it.  You KNOW I had to have it!  And of course I had to try it out on my more neutrally polished fingernails to show you the effect:

The colour I am wearing underneath this crazy bling is And This Little Piggy (see below) and it is very pretty.  Of course, this is already chipping off and it is all coming off this morning anyway, since even me, in all of my excesses, doesn't really like running around with disco ball fingers unless I am heading to a party!

How about you?  Do you go for the nail colour come the Holiday Season?  What brands or shades do you love?  Do you think crazy bling on your nails is over the top? 

Have an awesome Wednesday and stay safe out there!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Everything I know in life I Learned in the Movies....

Well not entirely true, but true enough...

Thought it would be fun to have a semi-regular feature where I take a movie I love and what I learned from it.

Today: The Wizard of Oz!


1. Every action has a consequence...


Dorothy almost loses Toto because she doesn't keep him under control; Yes, she is a little girl, but really, if you knew Elvira Gulch at all, you'd know she meant business! 

 2. A pretty dress can make a handsome woman look truly beautiful

Oh sure, she's pretty.  But you see the dress coming and you go, "Wow - who's that?"

A really beautiful dress will do that for you.  And fairy wings.  I am pretty sure I need fairy wings!  Every woman should have one dress that people see you in and go "Oh My God - She's Beautiful!"

3. Sometimes you have to spend a little time with someone before you know if you can be friends.

Dorothy isn't sure about any of her travelling companions in the beginning, but after getting to know them, realizes they are the three best friends a girl can have.  Sometimes you meet people in the beginning and you aren't sure about them, only to discover that they are pretty amazing.

4. Leave no Man (or Lion) Behind

 They're off to see the wizard, and they make sure they all get there.  This is the ultimate dream team - they work together to help each other achieve their goals, even if they're afraid.

5. There are always flying monkeys...

You may wish there weren't, but there are.  And they often wear suits.  Keep your head down!  As David Letterman once so famously said:  "Flying monkeys is scary!"

6. Never Be Afraid to stop for a spa day...

You're tired.  You're about to go see the Wizard after all, and that old bugger is going to make you go after the Wicked Witch of the West.  But take a break.  As Billy Crystal once said "It's better to look good than to feel good"!

Destiny and death will just have to wait until you re-group.  Don't be afraid to say "I need some me time"...

7. Shoes Make the Outfit

But you already knew that...

8. It's Not Easy Being Green

If a fantastic dress makes you look and feel beautiful, imagine if you had to wear black and had green skin in a world that valued pink...

Oh I know, she was bad.  But maybe if she'd had that spa day at the Emerald City, she might have gotten to know the others and cut them a solid...

9. Don't do other people's dirty work

If somebody wants you to do something for them that they are unwilling to do themselves run, don't walk, the other way.  Oh sure, our friends were successful and beat the odds, but most of the time, if people want you to do something that they aren't willing to do themselves that should be your sign  that they are either a) lazy b) mean c) afraid or d) trying to get you to fail. 

and finally...

10. You always have the power

Dorothy only has to click her heels three times to go home.  The Scarecrow was always smart, the Tin Man always had a big heart and the Cowardly Lion was always brave. 

You can change your circumstances, but most of all - you can change your perspective of the situation.  Right now, I am focussing on being brave in my life.  If I tell myself I can do it often enough, I usually find enough gumption to do it. 

As the song goes, "And the dreams that you dare to dream really can come true." 

Hope you enjoyed this!  Next week: Gone With The Wind!  Have a great Monday and Stay Safe out there!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Random Saturday Musings

Well I am getting into the NaNoWriMo mode this weekend - getting my office all set up, trying to get a few blog posts in the can for early November in case I get overwhelmed, starting to think about Christmas shopping...I am so excited, especially as my new book takes root in my head as I go for long walks every day!

Some things I am thinking about this week (besides writing!)

1) That weird J Crew popback morning...

It was accidental that I found it.  I now only check in with the crew on the new releases days and maybe once on the weekend to see if anything on my wishlist has gone on sale.  But as I said yesterday, I woke up really early yesterday morning and to kill time while I waited to wake up my son and his girlfriend, I looked around a number of sites.

The thing that struck me the most was that there were old things that I still really liked.  Lots more than a lot of the new stuff.  Now, I am not sure why that is - is the quality and styling  so changed in the intervening years?  Is JCrew like any new relationship - you spend a lot of time together in the beginning, then slowly drift apart when you find you have little in common after the initial thrill is gone? 

I don't think so.  Actually, I still like a lot of J Crew and find if I stick to the basics, I do very well.  But we are getting almost no skirts anymore (I wonder if that's cause Jenna doesn't like them?), bad construction and cheaper materials.  Anyway, I saw tons of old stuff and a lot of it I thought "gee, wish they still had that kind of stuff..."

I could have spent a lot of money, but no, this new Wendy is trying harder.  I decided I would only buy something if I really loved it and had missed it the first time around.

Then I saw just such a thing - the silk organza pencil skirt from at least a couple of years ago, in sea shell.  I always loved this skirt - at the time it was $156 (wow - that positively seems cheap now, doesn't it) and it sold out early in my size. 

I paid $36 for it yesterday morning.  I am hoping that it doesn't arrive in some terrible condition - but I just adore it, always did and even better: it is 21" long.  Oh those heady days of long-enough skirts...

2) There's something in the (political air)

Sure you've heard all of the shenanigans coming out of the US during the last month, but we are lucky(!) enough to have our own "Scandale" here in Canada - with our current government and Prime Minister in hot water for the crazy shenanigans of Senators they appointed themselves.  This week we had dramatic testimony, name-calling, byzantine backroom deal allegations, it was great...Except it was horrible, what with us paying all of these people's salaries and all. 


I am wondering what the next iteration of politician is going to be like.  We have become a system of such crazy trough-style politics that one wonders that the public doesn't rise up with "Do You Hear The People Sing?"  - where is Jean Valjean when you need him?

We have a broken political system in that the only way to get elected is to have a lot of powerful people and backroom organizers behind you, the same people who will expect and get favours when you come to power and who will stand in the way of real reform, which often threatens their way of life.  I saw this over and over again as a civil servant and it certainly appears to be getting worse.  I don't know where the system is that works better, but I want to see someone run for office who promises to do nothing for the politicos who got she or he there!

3) Just in time for Halloween

Thought you might find the following article interesting, so I am sharing the link: 4 Possible Scientific Explanations for Ghosts.

Oh you can believe those scientific explanations all you want....I ain't 'fraid of no ghosts..

 Oh My God - I loved the 80s - so excessive!  All those fun celebrity cameos!

What are you up to today?  I am finishing edits on my second book, doing some housework and enjoying the day!

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Miller Time Friday: Giving Me The Slip

Happy Friday!
I am tired this morning - woke up at 4:30 - dear son is off on a school trip to Boston and was leaving early - watch out for him Merry Wife!

Thought I would share another little gem that has been added to my wardrobe this fall.

Sometimes, it is the little accessories that can just bring out the best in our current clothing. 

So when I was shopping a few weeks ago and I came across a half slip with the most beautiful trim, I knew I could do a lot with it!

The ivory slip is lovely - I would even consider wearing it on its own in the summer with a tee.

A close-up of the lace hemline:

And below you can see it underneath a lovely navy woolen skirt (the Marc Cain that I am wearing to death this fall and which I assume will be worn lots in the winter as well), it adds a touch of whimsy and fun:

A close-up of the Vera Moda blouse I am wearing underneath:

Sometimes, it's these little touches that just make all the difference!

Not sure if any of you saw the amazing popbacks on JCrew this a.m. - there is a ton of old school stuff!  I actually scored a silk organza skirt in shell pink from several years ago that I had always loved but had missed at the time for a song.  Worth checking it out to see if there is anything there for you...

Do any of you wear embellished slips?  This is my first one, and I love it!

In honour of my topic of the day, let's make a Fairy Slip cocktail, shall we?

Fairy slip Cocktail

How to make a fairy slip:

Fill tumbler with crushed ice, top with Kahlua and club soda. Squeeze lime and place on top. Drink enough of these and you too will believe in fairies!

Luckily for me, I already believe in fairies, but since I have all of these ingredients, I think I will give this a go!

Happy Friday and Stay Safe Out There!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday in which Wendy shares some cheap fashion.....

Oh my gosh - you were all so creative yesterday - love it!

First things first:  how cute is Prince George?


I did not love Kate's outfit (which pains me to say because you know I am all about Kate!) but I do love a baby in a christening gown...In the end, I decided that Kate's dress reminded me of bad napkin folding at a restaurant.

But enough royalty.  Wanted to share a couple of recent Joe Fresh scores.

For me, Joe Fresh is like a lot of J Crew - fast fashion and most of it is meh, but some of it is really great.  Like so great you want to run out of the store screaming "I ONLY PAID $29 FOR THE SKIRT!!!"

Today was coffee party day, and I often dress up a bit for that as I do not dress up much at home..

This 65% cotton/35% manmade fibers cable skirt is one of my new favourites:

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I am wearing it above with a light grey cashmere T, old charcoal peacoat from Lands End and Mr. Seymour booties.

I liked it so much I also bought it in the grey colourway:

I also recently grabbed a pair of cords for the winter, since my friend Tabs is always recommending them for cold weather! $19.  And very warm!

You can see them better on the website:

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So while I mostly do not get things at Joe Fresh, these have been happy and affordable purchases!

Yesterday J Crew did their November rollout.  I have to say that most of the items are quite underwhelming for me still, so will likely hold out purchasing anything till I see what they do for Christmas...

I did like these items:

Kiki printed ballet flats - could be a fun party season item..

Kiki printed ballet flats

Actually, a lot of the Kikis drew me like a moth to the proverbial flame...

Kiki suede studded-heel ballet flats

And I do love a velvet boot...

Penelope Chilvers™ Cubana boots

But for $500 - yowza!

You know I love verdigris, so imagine my delight about seeing this in cashmere..

Collection cashmere long-sleeve tee

And I quite liked the Hughes Suede Satchel:

Hughes suede satchel

But delights are on hold till the holidays.  I did breakdown this week and purchase a huge gap in my wardrobe, the black cashmere crewneck, newly on sale from Everlane:

I never could get my size all last winter, do did not wait this year!  I will let you know what I think when it arrives!  For $120 CDN, if it is good quality cashmere, I will be a happy person indeed!

Anything catch your eye lately?  Happy Thursday and Stay Safe our there!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Style Wednesday: Iconic Items of Style

Oh sure - you know the drill: Audrey's little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany's; Grace's icy blue dress in To Catch a Thief, the ruby slippers.  Sure, they are timeless, but so expected.

But I present my own list for this fine Wednesday for your consideration and would love to hear about yours!

1)  Meg Ryan's pale linen dress at the end of You've Got Mail.

The movie is 15+ years old.  I still want the dress..

2) Gene Tierney's dress in the haunting portrait in Laura.

It made Dana Andrews fall in love with a dead woman, and who can blame him?  In a dress like that, you are bound to bring people back from the dead...

3) Donna Reed's borrowed bathrobe in It's a Wonderful Life

Makes you wonder what jock wore it before she did at Old Bailey High...

4) Mary Poppins' Satchel

I can never seem to get all my stuff in neatly - this would help... Practically Perfect in Every Way...

5) Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun:

Another dress worth killing your inconvenient wife for...

And to round out today's list:

6) Helena Bonham Carter in A Room with a View

I made my hair very bushy after seeing this movie and loved my lacy blouses and who wouldn't?  Ah the Edwardian repression - it could not contain Miss Honeychurch!

How about you?  Any less-than-typical style moments from the movies inspire you?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Attention Span, Part 2

If life was easy, they wouldn't have made a Wendy version of it, I reckon.  Or so I tell myself..

Yesterday, I shared the difficulty I have had getting my attention span back this year.

Today, I am going to talk about my process for doing that...While this process worked for me, I do not claim to have a magic elixir, so buyer beware!

Okay, so once I got up off the coach and decided that

a) I wasn't going to die of exhaustion
b) I wasn't going to die of shame by quitting my job
c) feeling the death of one's last parent keenly and feeling the regret of not pursuing one's passions keenly is in fact, a normal thing, albeit something we are taught to gloss over and "suck up"

I decided that it was time to, as the song says: "pick myself up, wipe myself off, start all over again.." (As a treat I am sharing the song below, sung by a fellow Canuck who has made good):

 One of the things I struggled with in the beginning was how to get the attention span back?

Well I did it through baby steps.  I would set little goals for myself: i.e. I will read 5 pages of this book (this magazine, whatever it was) before I will look at anything online, look out the window, get up and fold laundry, etc.  Everything had a set limit of time.  For me that was the only way to do it, as I would start something, then find myself restlessly wandering around the house dabbling with this, that and the other thing.  I would read a page and say "wonder what's happening on the blog?" or "I should fold laundry", etc.

Gradually, I worked up to ten pages in a sitting.  Or 15 minutes of laundry folding without doing anything else.  It was all about doing one task at a time and doing it well.  I would not allow myself to multitask. 

Once I was able to sit still for awhile and was used to doing it again, I challenged myself.  For example, I read that Stephen King reads upwards of 75 books a year.  He encourages writers to read as much as they write.  So my goal has been to read 52 books by the end of 2013.  I think I am at 41 right now. 

Melissa of the wonderful blog, Shopping with M, has always inspired me with her reading lists, so I decided I needed one as well.  Luckily, I found the GoodReads app, which allows you to track what you read, what you want to read and if you are interested, see others' reviews of books you might want to read.  You can do it online as well via

For me, this is a fun way to keep track of it all and it has inspired me to keep going.  For you - it might be 10 books, 20 books - it depends on your own personal circumstance and I can assure you, in my old job, I was lucky if I read 10 books a year. 

My friend Dani BP has gotten me into a book club, and I am pretty sure I am the most nerdy member of that book club, as I get all giddy in advance, keeping notes, highlighting text.  Really, I am quite the goofball about it, but they haven't kicked me out yet.  I can't wait for the next selection!  For those of you who want to read great books, moderated by a smart woman, this is the book club to join!

I am also a fan of reading many different types of books.  So right now I am reading Dickens' David Copperfield, but I am also reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Doll Bones by Holly Black and Forever Chic, by Blogger Tish Jett.  Talk about a disparate list!


I like to read literary books, nonfiction books that are "in the news", books in the genres in which I write and books that are plain fun.  So the books I have on the go right now meet all of those categories!

Another thing that has helped me are simple lists.  So today, I made a list of what I wanted to achieve.  I do my best to get it all done, but I don't beat myself up when I am unable to.  Tomorrow is another day and it doesn't help me feel good about myself when I feel I've let myself down. 

I have gotten quite good about doing one thing at a time (except for cooking - I always watch TV when I am cooking!) now and it has made a HUGE difference in my ability focus and get things done.  I try very hard not to leave a task midway, because it makes me feel jittery, just like the old days. 

Finally, what has truly helped me is getting rid of the blackberry.  Yes, I have a smartphone, but honestly, hardly anyone ever texts or emails me.  I check my blog at prescribed times and I check my friend's blogs twice a day.  In my old world I used to get 200-300 emails a day, a quarter of which required some action.  It got to be overwhelming for me and my assistant, and despite our best efforts, it seemed impossible to control.  Now the only people who text me are my kids and I love it.  I feel quite peaceful without the constant vibration of a blackberry going off around the clock.  Even in my old job I tried to limit the impact of the blackberry, but the reality was, I didn't create the culture in which I worked (the politicians did) and they were addicted to their blackberries and instant answers to their questions. 

Not sure if any of this is helpful to anyone, but I did think it was a topic worth discussing.  I would love to hear what you have done to be more focused!

Have a wonderful Tuesday and stay safe out there!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting My Attention Span Back

Happy Monday!

First - I want to say congratulations and send much love to our own Jennifer from the splendiferous blog, A Well Styled Life, who has welcomed her first grandchild, a gorgeous boy named James.  If you want to read a post that will bring a tear to your eye, get yourself over to her blog ASAP so you can see the pictures!


Funny that this post is about attention spans and I have already been diverted twice!!!

I have been thinking about this post for a long time.

When I left my job at the end of December for Christmas Holidays, I thought I would be going back on January 7th.  I never dreamt that I would end up taking a leave and ultimately leaving that job to pursue bigger dreams.

One of the hardest transitions I experienced was going from "doing" to "being".  I had been working 60-80 hours a weeks, scuttling from email to email, phone call to phone call, from one briefing note, report or presentation to the next.  When I would finally have some down time, I always felt jittery, as if there was always something to do, some project or thing that needed my attention.  I would pick up a book only to put it down 5 minutes later.  I would click on the web for an hour mindlessly or fall asleep in front of the TV.  I couldn't seem to pay attention anymore.  I was programmed to move quickly from one thing to the next.

So when I started my leave, I was at a bit of a loss.  First and foremost, I was tired and I slept a lot, which was a good thing as I had barely slept for the three or four months' prior.  I watched movies and stayed awake for them.  I saw friends again.  I did the spring cleaning that I didn't get to in 2011 and 2012.  And I made a concerted effort to come here daily and write, because I knew I wanted to write again as my next career and truthfully, I needed practise and discipline and this was one of the few places where I was mindful and present.  And you were all here and your stories and lives became a touchstone of inspiration and community.  So yes, I have never met Jennifer in real life or Tabs, but I am confident that when I do one day it will be like meeting long lost pals. 

Maybe your lives are different than mine, but I had been rushing and 'doing' for so long I had forgotten about just hanging out.  I hadn't read for pleasure, except intermittently, for a long time, because there was always reading for work that I was behind in reading that I deemed more important.  And I guess it was more important in many ways, because the stress of getting further behind often seemed unbearable. 

But I need to tell a truth: my lack of an attention span had started LONG before I was a CEO - I believe it started when I became a mother.  I just always put my children first, my house first, everything else first, and to such an extent that I never took any time for myself.  I didn't have hobbies anymore because well, how could you have a hobby when you worked full-time, wanted to be a good mother, felt you needed to keep your house at least moderately clean, and in my case, was dealing with family obligations and a sick mother. I often felt pulled in a million directions and that I was failing at all of them.  I don't regret those years, but I do regret always putting myself last.  I have been reading Dr, Brene Brown's The Gift of Imperfection (I am doing her ecourse on the gifts of imperfection and the book is required reading) and one of the critical findings of her academic research on vulnerability (Ger - she is a social worker - yay!) is that in order to truly love others you need to truly love yourself.  Now that is a WHOLE other blog post, which I may do at a later date, but it is critical to this post on attention span, because for many years I did not practise self-love and did not take the time I needed to become calm and centered.  And my natural tendency is to be easily distracted anyway..


Of course, I am a work in progress, but every week gets better and better.  I am working hard at my next career, but not so hard that I don't take time for coffees, that I don't take time to read, that I don't take the time to exercise and at least once a day, I just sit and do nothing, sometimes meditating while doing it, sometimes just sitting and watching the leaves fall. 

I know that I have the luxury of doing this while I work from home.  At some point, I hope to be thrown back into the fray, doing readings at schools and libraries when my books are published, responding to letters, having a strong online presence about my work.  But as I wait to be discovered I am discovering myself and practicing slowing down and taking care - when I am a world famous authoress or doing the Wendy-Barry "Fix Your House Problem!" world tour (will I go to Long Island or Scotland first?) - I will need to continue that mindfulness and self-care.  I know that some of you reading this are suffering from the same issues and my one piece of advice is this: be kind and gentle with yourself and remember that even half an hour a day is do-able, although you may need to work up to that gradually.  Or maybe all you young mothers are better than I was and if you are, well: I salute you!

Besides my writing I have focused on reading (more on that tomorrow) and I think I will take up knitting again this winter (Knityarns - I will need you!), which I think is one of the best things for getting one's attention span back.  My friend G is painting now that she has retired - the time that painting or writing or any kind of creativity takes requires a good attention span and is, I think, a form of meditation - and G keeps looking younger and younger to me.  Of course, it could be all the motorcycle rides she and her husband are able to do now!

So anybody else suffer from attention span issues?  I would love to hear about them! 

Have a great Monday and stay safe out there!