Friday, February 28, 2014

Miller Time Friday: Easy Reader

No, not that Easy Reader, much as I adore Morgan Freeman...

Nope, I'm talking about book reading and your favourite way to read a book these days.

You know I am loving being able to read for fun and learning and not just for information (I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking I haven't answered email #187!), but how where and when I read has changed now that I am - ahem - in my 50s.

Real books

Love em, need em, want them.  Nothing feels better than having a real book in your hand, does it?  This is what you'll find me mostly reading around the house.


I need to resort to my e-reader. 

Why would I resort to my ereader?

  • The book is too heavy for me to hold in my arms in bed.  Anyone else suffer from this?  I like to lay down to read in bed, but there was no way I could have read The Luminaries or Mark Twain's autobiography!  Enter the ereader!

  • The font is too small.  Sigh.  I have a stronger prescription for the glasses I use in bed, but sometimes they're not even enough and then I resort to my kindle app and make the font NICE AND BIG.  This has its pluses and minuses.  The biggest plus is that I can read it.  The biggest minus is that suddenly I see that I will have 14,000 or so screens to get through and well, that's kind of intimidating. 

  • Travel.  An ereader is so easy on the plane.  You can have all your books with you and it's almost like you are wrapping yourself up in a cocoon of words.

  • I don't need to have that book in my library.  I find it very difficult to get rid of books.  Necessary, but difficult.  And there are some books from the get-go that I know I will only read once and I'm not sure if any of my friends will want to read Rob Lowe's autobiography or if I would have told them I bought his autobiography (well I just have..) and so I bought it on the kindle.  By the way, it was a good book.  Rob Lowe has very Zelig/Forrest Gump tendencies.  You'll have to read the book to know what I mean, though most of you can guess.

And then there is the whole choice of which ereader.  Kindle, kobo, Barnes and Noble's version, iPad.  I own a first generation kindle, but I prefer to sync it to my kindle app on my iPad, since it doesn't have backlighting and makes an odd clicking noise when I turn the page, which late at night appears to be a rather LOUD clicking noise and suddenly you have the sickening feeling you are in an Edgar Allan Poe story.... Did I say too much there?

Would love to hear what you are reading and how you are reading things these days!

I just finished Joseph Boyden's The Orenda, which was recommended to me by my friend Mary, who did a short review of it on her blog here.

I was mesmerized by this book.

It's part "Last of the Mohicans" meets "The Mission" meets sweeping epic.  I finished it on Saturday and I am still thinking about it.  Now I have to go back and read the rest of his work.

In honour of reading, and the fact that somewhere right now, I am likely having a glass of champagne with the Beast at his castle, let's have a cocktail shall we?

Alice and Wonderland (Drink me!)

Grab your cocktail shaker and fill it with ice.
Add 3/4 oz of Tequila, 3/4 oz of Orange Juice and 3/4 oz of Coffee Liqueur.
Shake and strain into a shot glass and serve.

Did someone just see the Cheshire Cat?

I'll be back Sunday, because you know that's my High Holy Holiday: THE OSCARS!!!

Man, I love that look...


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And away we go!

Hi everyone!

By the time you read this we will be heading to Florida!  I may do a post or two down there, and I have one already in the can for this Friday and will be checking in now and then and posting some pics to my facebook acct. 

Thanks for all the packing advice.  I did manage to remove one pair of pants....  Ah well.... Rome wasn't built in a day...

Simple colour story of navy, dark coral, a bit of blush and white.  Try not to spill too much red wine...

And my Dad is all ready for his selfies:

He will be in my purse and will come out for the odd picture!  Since he paid for a good part of this, I think it only right!  I am especially hoping we run into Peter Pan, since my dad loved Peter Pan.  I'm sure he still does actually!

There will be shenanigans galore, no doubt and a bottle of champagne chilling wherever we are! 

This might be the vacation I say YES to everything!  Who knows!

Have a great week and will try to touch base along the way!

Stay Safe out there!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dare Not to Compare!

There have been some great posts on folks' blogs lately, from saving money and spending less/spending wisely and investment dressing versus faster fashion.

These topics seems cyclical to me. 

I did a post myself on investment dressing in May of last year that generated a 114 comments!

I think as one season begins to wind down we are naturally drawn to the next season.  At the same time, we review the current season's purchases and decide what worked, what must go, what was a "what the hell was I thinking?" purchase.

These reviews make us determine if the next season's wardrobe options contain any gaps and if those gaps exist  how will we fill them?  Are we spending too much, too little?  Are we getting a good bang for our buck?

I do not know if men suffer from this as much as women - GSL, if you are reading, please chime in, dear man!

In the early days of the blog world or online I would see something attractive on someone and think "wow, I love that, I think I'll have one of those, too, please." or I might think "I don't have that, why don't I have that, am I the only person in the whole wide world that doesn't have that?"

I would forget that I wasn't six feet tall.  Or a size 0. or didn't live in California or wasn't invited out weekly to cocktails.    So there were deadly mistakes....

I'm not going to lie: this sweater was a mistake and I gave it away a few months later...

Quite a while ago now I switched and began to use blogs and retail sites as pure inspiration.  And if there were rules or "must haves" I treated those as suggestions.  I am convinced that these so-called lists of essentials have made us all kind of clone-like.  Sure we may be tasteful, but is it us?

Well some of it is.  But do we always want to be tasteful?  (This is the rebel in me coming out!)
One thing that less expensive clothes allow us to do is dabble in styles not typically our own.  The boho top or the minimalist dress, the corporate suit or the romantic lace top.

One of the best purchases I made in 2013 was a faux leather H&M moto jacket.  I have so much fun with it.  I would never have bought the real leather version as I would have second-guessed myself as to whether or not I would wear it enough to justify the price.  It turns out I might have been able to!

The sequin dress below was a J Crew score for a very cheap price 3 years ago.  When I wear it with a plain black tuxedo blazer, and black heels it looks quite tasteful and fun, as opposed to the Studio 54 version! 

I read a quote the other day by Iyanla Vanzant that really struck me

Comparison is an act

I'm not all that familiar with Iyanla, except that I know she has a show on Oprah's network, but I was so struck by this quote that it stopped me dead in my tracks.

I am trying hard these days to be grateful, and I am especially trying NOT to compare myself to anyone else anymore about ANYTHING.  When we compare we are either putting someone else on the short end of the stick our ourselves.

So my two cents (we don't even have pennies any more in Canada!) is this: dress how you want to dress and buy where you want to buy and spend however much you want to spend so long as you can afford it.  There is no one path to happiness and no one definition of beauty or perfect taste. 

So while I may be using someone like Sophia Coppola as a muse, with a bit of Kerry Washington sprinkled in like fairy dust, I will not be comparing myself to these women.  I would encourage them not to get caught up in what I'm wearing either, in case it makes them sad...

Kerry - I'm dressing and drinking for the three of us: you , me and your baby...
No Sophia, you CAN'T borrow my $40 Monoprix dress...Sacre Bleu!


Dress and please yourself.  I am pretty sure if you do so, others will be pleased for you.   

Some days we are thin, some years, not so much.  Some things work, others, not so much.  I will continue to make mistakes, but they will be interesting mistakes!

Have an awesome day and no matter how jealous you may feel as you look at these drop-dead gorgeous photos of me remember this: I have a whole team working on me, around the clock.  Don't beat yourself up.... :-)

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

We are experiencing Technical Difficulties and a Birthday Shout out!

Oh lord....

I am on a learning curve.  Have I mentioned how much of a learning curve I am on?

Not only am I learning to be a better (ideally good) writer, I am also learning all of the other things that writers are expected to know these days.

To wit:

I have a blog. But then you all knew THAT.  But sometimes stuff gets screwed up on the blog and I dither around trying to fix it.  When I do fix it, it is good luck usually, as opposed to an technical expertise.

For Club Members Heading Off to Battle...
I am on Facebook.  That seems more straightforward, although I do manage to screw it up now and then and try very hard not to hang my head in shame.  Look for me under Wendy McLeod MacKnight if you want to be my friend. 
I am on LinkedIn.  My children think LinkedIn is hysterically funny.  This is because they don't want to link in with anyone.  I am not sure if LinkedIn is particularly helpful but you never know and who knows who will find me!

I am even on twitter, via wendymcleodmacknight, though mostly what I tell people on twitter is that I have a new blog post up.  Every once in awhile I share a bon mot, but they are mostly only bon mots to me.

Not sure anyone could possibly want to know this much about me.  But I dream of a day when some wonderful child has read one of my books and goes to my website or follows me and it will all be worth it!

Now to the website.  I started the web site in early December.  I have had a few issues.  The biggest issues were related to the 'contact me' page.  Between myself and my technical advisor, a lovely fellow from somewhere in the deep south who loves the name of my first book, we thought we had it all set up.  But we did not.  Because today when I was working on the website, loading my Globe and Mail article and loading a PDF of chapter one of my first book I discovered that not all of the emails were being directed to the right place.  There were 12 orphaned emails, all from very nice people writing to me after my article was published, waiting for me.  I was mortified.

I wrote them back equally nice emails, each one more apologetic than the last, explaining  that I had never seen their emails.  After more technical assistance online, I think I have it all sorted out.  But dear god...

So if you want to see the very beginning of my website, by all means head right over  And if you submit a comment, I will (I hope) actually get it!  I even have chapter one of my book up for prospective literary agents, who are no doubt lurking here waiting for me to share! ;-)

But back to my technical issues.  I am 51 years old.  I am an intelligent woman.  I know both of these facts to be true.  But I tell you the god's honest truth, I am humbled as I teach myself how to have a media presence. 

And the so-called 'user friendly' programs are not user friendly at all, at least not to me....

I love writing and I love how my new life is unfolding.  Eventually, I will (somewhat) become technically savvy.  I hope.  Until then?  Well, if you don't hear back right away, it's me, not you....

Anyone else feel that they are trapped in some giant lab rat experiment?  It's not who moved the cheese for me, it's "Where the hell's the maze????????"

We will make it.  We think!

Have a happy Saturday and stay safe out there!  And if you have a brilliant young web designer in your house, give them my email....I have no money to pay with (yet!) but I am ever so kind and cheerful!

Finally, even though she is very shy, a very Happy Birthday to my beloved daughter Sydney!  This is the champagne birthday - she turns 22 on the 22nd!  Happy Birthday Syd - I love you!

Sydney MacKnight


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Miller Time Friday: The Good Old (Women's) Hockey Game

Yes, I know it's not Friday yet....But forgive me if I am a little giddy....and forgive me if this veers very much away from the lifestyle vein I usually choose...

You know, I often forget how much I love hockey...

When I was a kid growing up, hockey was on every Saturday night.  There were fewer teams and you knew who every player was.  I still wish I had my Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr hockey cards.

My brother was a goalie and we watched a lot of hockey tournaments and my parents were very proud of his proficiency on ice.  My dad was a huge hockey fan, although if truth be told, his tendencies were more to being a baseball statistician.  He read The Sporting News cover-to-cover each week and knew all of the standings in baseball and hockey.  And lucky him, he lived long enough to see his Beloved White Sox win the World Series.

In my twenties, we were all about The Great One.

My daughter still jokes about the day Wayne Gretzky retired and how I cried and cried.  A couple of years ago, my friend Lee got me a puck autographed by Wayne Gretzky and I was giddy for days!

Neither of my kids are hockey players or fans.  My brother's boy and girl are both good players ( my brother actually coaches them), as is our other nephew.  My sister-in-law Nanc is an awesome hockey mom.  I would not be surprised to see her showcased in some Olympic spotlight in about 20 years, with her children raving about what a great inspiration she was to the two Ds when they get their medals!

But of course now I mostly just see hockey during the Olympics.  And today our Women's team won against Team USA which will be a game that will go down in the ages as one of the biggest comebacks ever.  There was screaming from coast to coast about an hour ago and yes, I was a big part of that screaming....

In Canada, even people who don't like hockey, like hockey, at least around the Olympics.  We are a small country of only 30+ million and we live in a place that is either really really cold or really really hot and when it's not cold or hot it's buggy.  Our ancestors decided that this was the place to stay.  And there was plenty of ice to go around.

Remember this:

Well this afternoon it was this:

Yes, those are 5-6 feet high snow banks...

The walkway this afternoon...

We are nice people.  A bit more self-effacing than our neighbours to the south, a bit more emotional than our friends in the UK.  And we take a lot of pride in our ability to play hockey.  A LOT of pride.

So while I feel very badly for those lovely American girls who saw their 2-0 lead eviscerated in the last three minutes of the hockey game, and snatched away in Overtime, I must say that tonight, after our Women Curlers won gold followed by our Women Hockey Players, Canada's going to walk with a swagger.  Okay - who am I kidding?  We'll shovel with a swagger....


Until tomorrow afternoon, when we will suck in our breath and yell and scream all over again when the men's hockey team plays in the semi-finals.  I may be breaking my only drinking one day a week rule this week.....

In honour of our Women's Team, let's have a cocktail shall we?

Canada Cocktail


Scale ingredients to servings

Pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with broken ice and a sprig of mint.

I hope you have the nicest Friday possible and stay safe out there!


Thursday, in which Wendy pretends it is spring by putting florals on the bed....

 Target logo.svg

I am on the serious countdown to warmth and Mickey now, but thought I would share a great "stumble upon".

If you recall, last summer I bought a new duvet and duvet cover.  In the end, I settled for a gorgeous white linen cover from Pottery Barn.  But we have a third companion in our bed and sometimes he has mucky prints, despite our best efforts, so most of the time the duvet cover is further covered with another blanket.

I decided that in an ideal world, I would have a second duvet cover and save the white for the warmer and dryer months - May to October.  Plus it's always nice to have an alternate when you are laundering the other.

However, I decided to wait and look this summer, or at least wait until after our trip.

Off I trotted last weekend to Target.  Our Target only opened in November.  Prior to that, I had to go to Maine to shop at Target. 

Since it is newly opened, I think I've maybe been in the store twice, since I just haven't been shopping at all.  But I was in search of rain ponchos (which they did NOT have so guess I will try WallyMart this weekend) so I stopped in to see if I could get them there.

As I wandered around, I ended up in the bedding section.  Imagine my delight when I literally stumbled over a queen size duvet cover and shams set by shabby chic, 100% cotton, for $24 in a clearance bin.  Nothing wrong with them, just last season's bedding that they were trying to move before the new stuff comes in.

The floral pattern and colour caught my eye, since of course all I have is snow.  If you need snow, by all means call me - I can ship it at excellent rates.  So into my cart the set fell and then onto my bed at home:

 And while I do not love the set like I love my white linen, it is a nice alternate for the bed and has given us a sweet jolt of colour to cheer us up this Forevuary!

I guess I may be one of the last non-Target shoppers, but I must say I am impressed with the quality of this line.  So if I never get another deal to equal that I will not complain, because a $23 duvet cover set is kind of highway robbery and I sort of ran from the store in case they caught up with me...

 How about you?  Any fun "steals" these days?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Style Wednesday: When Your Taste Changes

The most interesting thing about life is how just when you think you are getting a handle on it all, well, you just up and change your mind.

For the last few months I would describe myself as having a VERY casual workaday wardrobe. 

It was almost a uniform actually: skinny cords or skinny paige premium pants, a tshirt and flowy White + Warren cardigan.

think this...


Very comfortable.  Sometimes I would add in a comfy dress or skirt, but all in all, a good workaday uniform.

But so much still went unworn in my closet, so I tried to shake it up a bit, you know, trot out the other things to justify keeping them.

As you know, I have been saving my money and have only a limited budget for clothing in 2014.

I have also decided to shop seasonally - once in May and once again in October.  That doesn't mean nothing else will ever be purchased in between those times (funds permitting) but that my plan in general is to make clothing shopping a special event.

Knowing we were going to Florida and that I might get to try on some things in advance of my spring purchases (a must if you are nowhere near any of the stores), I thought I should see what interested me for Spring 2014 and make a Pinterest board for inspiration.

But then it happened.  I appeared to like almost nothing.  I was aghast to discover that I cared for so little on almost all of the retail sites.  I went from site to site, saying "ho-hum, not me any more.."  and not only that - because I have limited funds, I am now PICKY.  PICKY, PICKY, PICKY!

I assume this is related to entering this new phase of mostly working from home and being 50+.  It is also related to the fact that though I dressed quite casually this winter, I did miss some of my fancier work duds now and then.

Whereas my old taste tended to fancy pants, more embellished tops, etc, with some basics thrown in, along with corporate suits for the office, my tastes are changing dramatically.

I seem to only be attracted to evening clothes or Sofia Coppola's esthetic.

I saw myself wearing this....

and this....

Or else I want to dress like this:

In fact, the only clothes I find myself attracted to recently are simple, chic clothes from Emerson Fry, Theory, Judith and Charles and Luisa Cerano.  Everything else has left me quite cold.


This shouldn't have been a surprise, since my favourite purchase of fall 2014 was a top almost identical to the one below by Theory:
And I love this boho top from some birthday funds:
How interesting.
I am more and more convinced that half of my clothing could still go and I would be none the worse for it and I suspect that much of it will go in the coming couple of months.
I am unsure what I will actually buy for spring/summer this year, but it is interesting to see how one's taste can change so significantly....
And I will be curious to see how that all turns out....
Anyone else find their taste really changing these days?  I envy those like Dani, who has it all locked down!
Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday, in which Wendy returns to normal(ish) behaviour as best she can, given the planetary madness...

Well I am feeling quite a bit better now, thank you very much, though not quite myself yet. 

But I am trusting Miss Naomi, Noomi as her friends calls her (or is that just confused sales clerks?), who advised me yesterday that I should have expected it, given the full moon and the fact that mercury is in retrograde.

Well a confession.  I know a bit about horoscopes, but what little I know can probably be written on the back of a napkin in a restaurant. 

I am well aware of my own sign:

The image above forgot to add the word "plodder".  I am a plodder - onward and upward, yadda yadda, yadda.

However, I am a very pleasing person to meet.  Hang out with me, you might think otherwise, but I meet real cute...

I know that I have 2 Pisces children and that my spouse is a Scorpio (hell, I've been with a Scorpio for 29 years, you try that, but then I apparently love being in long relationships), but I really had no idea what mercury in retrograde was!

Really, I am 51 years old - how am I MISSING all of this!  I needed to quit my job to learn about all of the interesting things and people and places and cleaning techniques and clothing styles I had missed in the last quarter of century (and no, my tongue is not planted in my check, I am dead serious despite being humorous as above...). 

I am a wildly ambitious individual and it sometimes smarts that I have not paid attention to the things that most people seem to know intuitively...

So I looked it up on the net because that is where I find ALL of my information (oh sometimes I use papers and books, but really, one must be careful of one's sources, I should know I am smart): 

The following description is off I think, but the internet ate the page it was on and I am too stubborn to go back and unworried about being called out on my wanton plagiarism given that I am cool under fire.

What is Mercury Retrograde?:

This happens three to four times per year, when the planet Mercury slows down, and appears to stop (station) and move backward (retrograde). It's an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train -- as it recedes, it appears to go backward.

(ASIDE - those of you from New Brunswick will recognize this as not dissimilar to Magnetic Hill outside of Moncton.  If you have never experienced this phenomena, well by all means get yourself to New Brunswick and pop by for coffee on the way by.  However, do NOT do this if you weren't planning on coming anyway.  Trust me on this.... This is my down to earth self telling you...)

While delays and misunderstandings do seem to happen, I've noticed a magical trend -- that people and ideas return, for integration, resolution and more.

What are the Mercury Retrograde dates for 2014?:

This year (2014), all the retrogrades begin in water signs and then go into air signs.
This foretells times of tracing emotional memories to the roots and picking up lost threads of meaning. The emotional dimension is recovered, with the wisdom that goes with it. A lost idea or person can return, especially someone has a mysterious pull on the soul or psyche.
As Mercury dials back into air signs, there's a review of the mind's patterns -- the conclusions we each draw from experience.  It's possible to see the past in a different light, or from another angle.
  • February 6th – February 28th in mystical Pisces, then Aquarius
  • June 7th to July 2nd in responsive Cancer, then Gemini
  • October 4th to 25th in super psychic Scorpio, then Libra

(ASIDE #2 Okay - only one day at Disney in retrograde.  I am quite sure I intuitively knew this.  There's that smart thing again...).

Mercury Madness?:
Mercury is the messenger, and in this time, the delivery is warped or the message gets lost en route. Some people find that their computers go on the fritz or phone lines go down. If you're at all jittery about it, go ahead and back up your important files.
There can be delays, so give yourself plenty of time to get places. What happens in those down times? Mercury retro is known to be a time of 'fated' events -- who will you meet? What will be revealed?
A Time-Out:
Mercury retrograde gives us time to catch up with ourselves, and reflect. Something from the past returns in a different form. People, ideas or buried insights that are keys to moving forward, float to the surface. Often it's felt as a slowed down, contemplative time, and depending on the sign, a chance to go over old ground again, to claim what you missed the first time.
Err on Side of Caution:
There's a long-held belief that it's best to avoid making set plans during the Mercury Retrograde. This means holding off on signing contracts, and forming partnerships and alliances. What gets put in writing at this time may turn out to need serious revising after Mercury goes direct. But since tying up loose ends is the domain of retrograde, this type of finalization might fly.
Can you repeat that?:
In our relationships, sometimes we gloss over things that pushed buttons at the time, but which we let slide. What seemed not worth the trouble may reveal itself as a major issue in need of our attention. The Mercury retrograde is a time for review, when the underlying patterns come to light.
Back to the Drawing Board:
Some dreams and goals get lost in the hectic rushing around of daily life. The Mercury Retrograde period can be a rich time of reflection on those longings. This makes it a time for the soul to ponder its destiny. You might look over old journals, review your creative work, muse on serendipities of the past that have pointed you toward your spirit's calling. It can make the retrograde period a time of solidifying a sense of your personal story and where you're headed.
What does it mean in each different sign?:
The Mercury retrograde is shaped by the sign through which it is cast. For example, a Mercury retrograde in Cancer turns the mind toward things like family, home and the invisible emotional bonds that connect us. On the other hand, a Mercury retrograde in Aquarius gives it a different spin, with a review of group dynamics, the larger human community, all from a detached perspective.
Making the Most of Mercury Retrograde:
A major cause of stress at Mercury retrograde is frustration from mishaps, things breaking down, computers going black. But if we know it's cycle, this makes it feel less terminal. If things go pear-shaped, see what's there to see. Take a break from the usual routine.
Just observe and see what happens, and be open to the past returning for review. If it's coming back, there's likely something more to learn or release from it. This can be a good (and productive) time, in its own way.

Okay, now I am pretty darn freaked out!  However, I am patient and careful (some would argue that I border on paranoid and fragile...) and am confident I will get through this.  But I cannot have a whole month of madness, given my inherently disciplined personality....


In the end, I believe that the snarky personality of the last few days is entirely NOT my fault.  I wait patiently for Naomi to fill me in on everything else I need to know.  This is so cool and such fun (albeit scary) stuff to know about.  Pretty, pretty please, Naomi??????

Yes, I am back!!!!  And I am off to get my hair cut and coloured this morning, throwing caution to the wind.  But for god's sake, pray for me....

 Any one else who's being affected by this mercury stuff?  And what is a moon in the 7th house?  I've been singing that for 45 years and I haven't got a clue...

Have an AWESOME day and stay safe out there!!!