Friday, May 30, 2014

Miller Time Friday - Peace

My life has been really busy these days, but I cannot complain, because in all cases, I feel like the things I am involved in have meaning and therefore, I continue to grow as a person.

Last night, Barry and I and my two good friends Mary and Ger went to see Gregg Braden.

To be honest, I was not familiar with Gregg, but the people that brought him to the Maritimes are the same people who brought Deepak Chopra last year, so I thought it was worth checking out.

I was glad I went.

I'm not going to bore you with a long description of the nature of his talk; I'm sure his books would give you a much better explanation than I ever could.

But what he talked about - the chaotic times we are living in and our increasing difficulty in managing the pace of change and the changes to our world (socially, politically, environmentally, personally) - was just what I needed to hear.

I don't know about you, but where I live, there is a sense of doom and gloom these days.  The way things were will likely never come again.  We must change.  We must cope with the change.

Last night, Gregg Braden gave the audience some tools to help with that and some hope and peace.

So, besides the crick in my neck this morning from turning around constantly to chat with Mary and Ger in the back seat, I feel like my load has been lightened a bit.  We all need that, don't we?

And speaking of Mary, she has a wonderful piece published over at Senior Living Mag, titled "Confessions of a Zoomer".  A really fun read!

And because peace is personal to all of us, here's what peace looked like to me this morning:

In honour of Indy and his teddy, let's have a:

Teddy Bear

Scale ingredients to  servings 
1 1/2 oz root beer schnapps
1/2 oz vodka

Pour ingredients into a stainless steel shaker over ice, and shake until completely cold. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass, and serve

Now I happen to love root beer, so this is right up my alley!  Have no idea if my liquor store has root beer schnaps, but I think I could improve with my favourite root beer:

Stewart's Root Beer WP - root-beer Wallpaper

I hope you all have a peaceful day to day and a lovely weekend!

Stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Remembering Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

I don't need to write a big long post about this hero of mine, this hero in every way - feminist, humanist, author extraordinaire, genius, inspiration to get up and keep going.

I can't remember when I read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".  All I know is it was a long time ago and it changed me.


I am not sure if anything ever left Maya's lips that wasn't whispers of the divine, 'cause it sure felt like that to me.

by Maya Angelou

Maya has been unwell for quite some time, and I like to imagine her today, shoes off, having a good long walk and a good long visit with those she has loved.

A remarkable woman, a remarkable life, a remarkable legacy.  

I'd say rest in peace, Maya, but somehow, I have the sneaking suspicion you are fixing things wherever you are.

xoxo wendy

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Importance of Perspective

I am reminded constantly in life that when I am whining about something it is almost always about what I would classify as a first world problem.

In other words, I am being silly and too caught up in my own stuff.

It is easy enough to do and we are all guilty of this, aren't we, since by its very definition personal problems are, well, personal to the person involved.

Sometimes however, a little levity is required.

Folks, I am here to provide that levity.  I share because I care.

You may recall my giddy abandon as I decreed my intention to paint the sitting room off my kitchen coral.

Well, dear son (whose painting skills appear to be disintegrating even as we ask him to paint more - could this be a Superman-Kryptonite thing?) and a chum painted yesterday.

The results:


These?  NOPE

I need to lie down - in another house...

A nice colour for a padded room...

You'd be hard pressed to find a more obnoxious shade and believe me, it looks worse in real life.

Duly chastened, I called our interior decorator friend, who made an emergency visit and has me on the right path.  Yup - first world problem, first world solution.

I feel vomitous (I know that's not a word, but it needs to be!) when I am in the room right now.  It is, shall we say, overwhelming in its ability to recall Pepto Bismol and Don Johnson Tshirts in the 80s all in one fell swoop.

More pictures to come when this is fixed on the weekend.

Yup - definitely a first word problem, and a funny one at that.  I wish all of my mistakes in life only cost $50 and a few hours of my son's questionable labour...

As a palate cleanser, I offer my bleeding heart (how appropos), which is just starting to bloom:

I have no worries at all, when I get to look at something as beautiful as this and when the people I love are healthy!

Now that I have perspective, I am going back in that room to meditate.  With both eyes squeezed tightly shut....

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Catch-Up: Geraniums, Writing Courses and Destination Weddings (and anniversaries!)

Hi everyone!

Hope all is well.  These weeks are absolutely getting away from me!  I am working hard on my writing and I also have a small contract for a not-for-profit organization which is taking a lot of my time.  Add in yard work, reading, seeing friends and things I cannot even recall, it is hard to know where the time is going.

Over the last six weeks, I have been taking an online course: Revise Your Novel/Picture Book in a Month.

PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

Taught by super agent Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson, author of the Plot Whisperer, this 8 video series has been an amazing tool to both improve my abilities and to get things done.  I learned so many things, so if any of you out there are sitting on a story, this is well worth the funds and you can revisit the videos for months afterwards.  You can also access Jill and Martha afterwards on Facebook for help, so it is great!

Yesterday we went to the garden center and bought tons of geraniums.  We hang baskets of them around the pool and they always make me so happy, from the scent to the bright flowers.  They are also almost completely indestructible.  This is a good thing, when the summer weather here can range from drought to torrential rains!

They also make me think of France, as it seems there is a pot of red geraniums everywhere.

Geraniums in summer

Speaking of France, I have been enthralled by Habitually Chic's sojourn to Paris.

How fun would it be to move to Paris for the summer?  Pretty fun, if you ask me...

However, what I would like even better would be to go back to a little stone cottage like we stayed at in 2008...

L'Etre Bidault in Normandy - one of the prettiest places we have every visited!  Just divine!

Or maybe Nyons, where I happily spent 2 hours and where I need to go back and spend at least a week:

It's funny how places get under our skin, isn't it?  We drive through a place and make a mental note that we absolutely MUST go back there at some point...


we read about a place and dream about it for years and then are surprised to find ourselves there.

There is something surreal about that kind of trip.  I remember walking through The Tower of London and thinking again and again "I am walking through the Tower of London.  I am REALLY walking through the Tower of London."

Those landmarks are familiar and yet utterly foreign to us.  Especially the most iconic ones...

You can't be alive this weekend I think and not know about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's wedding.  There is something very Marie Antoinette-ish about these kinds of weddings, but I will not speak ill of them, as frankly it is a waste of energy and I hope that they, like everyone else whose wedding I am aware of, live a happy life together.  There is enough negativity in this world without piling on.

But if got me to thinking.  Next year is my 30th wedding anniversary.  We went nowhere for our 25th, so perhaps a celebration is in order.  Where would I renew my vows were I to do such a thing?

A destination wedding appears to be all the vogue now, though we got married in a little stone chapel here in Fredericton.

File:Lychgate at St. Anne's Chapel of Ease in Fredericton.jpg

Would I pay Florence, like Kim and Kanye?  Perhaps, I've not yet been to Italy and I wouldn't need a wall around me to shield me from the paps and would be content with field flowers...

Florence for beginners

Maybe Scotland at the old family homestead?

I also really need to go see Charleston and the other Bloomsbury haunts..

Would have to leave Barry at the local pubs for some of that...

I am also thinking of Bruges...

Vue du Rozenhoedkaai (Quai Rozenhoed)

Or maybe I would beg Rosemary over at the amazing blog Share My Garden, to let me do the vows in her spectacular garden:

It's fun to wile away the hours while you are doing mundane tasks and dream of places to visit.

How about you?  What would be your dream wedding destination?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Handsome Book

Hi everyone,

Have been sucked into the world of Gone Girl and just resurfaced.  Talk about a crazy ride...

I know some of you started this and then dropped it, but it completely sucked me in...

But this is not the handsome book of which I refer...

No, I am talking about when publishers release wonderful new versions of old favourites.

My most recent favourite was the lovely hardcover version of To Kill a Mockingbird recently released by Harper Collins to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the book (they must have known Dani would cover it in her book club!):

To Kill A Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition

Then this past weekend, I was shopping at one of our local bookstores, Westminster Books 

wedding + portrait photography for awesome people

and I came across some newly-released versions of L.M. Montgomery books by Virago Modern Classics.

I have some very old L.M. Montgomery books

 and some of the wretched mass market versions:

Anne Of Green Gables 3 Copy Box Set, Vol. 1

So when I saw the Virago versions, I was enthralled!

No slutty Anne here, like those released last year, but a lovely, illustrated, Anne:

Anne of Green Gables

And there were Emily books released as well.  Oddly enough, I do not own the Emily books, though now I do...

I probably was always reading my sister's growing up...

Honestly, I am a sucker for a pretty book.

Give me a penguin classic,

The Great Gatsby

A modern classic

Modern Classics The Great Gatsby

Oh hell, ANY classic, and I am swooning like a school girl looking at Andy Gibb in 1977 (now THERE is a specific image...)

How about you?  Are you a lover of pretty books?

Do you own multiple versions of the same book?

Do you dislike the latest trend in books of photos on the cover when all you want is a fine font or lovely illustration?

Would love to hear!  Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: The Confidence Code

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!
The Sound Of Music - I Have Confidence 

Ah that we would all be so confident!

And yet, many of us are not.  

And of that many, most are women.

Enter journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, who wondered why that was.

Their research has led to the interesting new book: The Confidence Code.


Chock-a-block with the most cutting edge research about the social, psychological and biological factors that play into whether or not someone has confidence, the book aims to understand why, all things being equal, men tend to over-estimate their abilities by 30% while women tend to under-estimate their abilities by around the same amount and what implications that has not only for the men and women involved, but for society as a whole.

I used to see this confidence gap manifested a lot in my former career. 

Young bright women would doubt their hunches, second-guess their abilities, whereas their young male counterparts would brashly take a shot regardless.  

Eventually, you take enough of those shots, you show enough chutzpah, you will make some big wins.  And get promoted.

Too many women describe themselves as "lucky" when they do well, beat themselves up over every little mistake, and feel they must prepare twice as hard in order to be taken seriously.

I'm not going to give away much more about this book - it must be read and digested properly and I highly recommend you do so.  

Despite achieving a lot professionally, I would often feel like I was a fraud, that somehow others were more intelligent or quicker than I was, and I was constantly questioning my abilities.

So it was a relief to see that I am in good company and the authors provide concrete tactics, based on research, as to how to address these feelings of inadequacy.

At the website for the book, you can take the confidence quiz.  While many would consider me quite confident, in fact, I came out as having only medium confidence.

The description of medium confidence:

What does that mean?
It likely means one of two things.  First,  you might be generally in the middle range of the confidence spectrum regarding a variety of your judgments.  Alternatively, you could be high in confidence on some matters but relatively low on others.  That is, there are times when you do feel confident about your abilities, or confident about successfully addressing a challenge. But there may be other times when you may be risk-averse, or may choose inaction over action. You may also spend significant time ruminating—a huge confidence killer. 

As soon as I got to the last sentence, I knew I was nailed.  I am a terrible ruminator, and having just completed the Brene Brown course on whole-hearted living, this is my number one to-do: stop playing the endless negative loop in my mind, the coulda, shoulda, wouldas of every situation.  

This is a wonderful book for:

  • the person who wants to boost their confidence
  • the person who wants to help mentor a person, particularly a female person, and help them gain confidence in their schooling or workplace.
  • the person who wants to understand why we are still struggling to have women run for office, assume leadership roles, stay in leadership roles, etc.

I highly recommend this book and will be telling all of my girlfriends and the smart women and men in my life about it!

Some more thoughts on confidence by two woman I greatly admire:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” ― Virginia Woolf

And in the fake-it-till-you-make-camp (of which I excelled at times...)

Say What? The Most Shocking Fashion Quotes of 2013: Sure, we could have just settled for the most shocking things Miley Cyrus said about fashion this year, but then we're sure Kanye West would have something angry to say about that.

How about you?  Any struggles with confidence?  Have you read this book yet?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Friday, May 16, 2014

Miller Time Friday: A Salute to Barbara Walters

When I was young - and I am talking mid to late 1960s here - my mother was a religious watcher of The Today Show, ergo I was, too.

And besides my almost cult-like adoration of Joe Garagiola, which I still have, there was Barbara.

She was smart, she was articulate, she was beautiful.

And she inspired.

If you look up the definition of Trailblazer in the dictionary, surely you will find Barbara.

barbara walters today show tv 1973 red carpet fashion week 2011 photo

When she left The Today Show to be the first female co-anchor on the nightly news it is was groundbreaking.  And horrifying.  Because if you think we live in a misogynistic society that judges women solely on their ability to be young and beautiful, well try and imagine the 1970s.

Even her co-anchor, especially her co-anchor, Harry Reasoner, was loathsome towards her.

Ran on: 05-07-2008
 Barbara Walters became the first female co-anchor of an evening news program in 1976; co-anchor Harry Reasoner wasn't happy. Photo: From Barbara Walters' "Audition"

But Barbara persevered.  She went on to have a career that anyone would have killed for, and if she has become somewhat of a caricature for some, well that is the price you pay when you attempt to stay on air until well into your eighties.


Today, Barbara Walters retires.  I am reminded constantly, living in a place when women are still striving for their rights, that we have come a long way since Barbara went on the air in 1962, but we still have a long way to go.

There is a whole generation of female journalists who owe their successful careers to the doors that Barbara had to kick open for them.  She not only had to be good to get her jobs, she had to be the best.  And she was.

So today, I will be raising a glass to Barbara.  And thanking her for all she has done for women.

Let's have a Barbara Cocktail, shall we?


1 oz vodka
1/2 oz creme de cacao
1/2 oz cream

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Have an awesome Friday and Stay Safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Style Wednesday - The Late Edition!

Hi all,

Have been beavering away here on many work-related projects, so slipping in my blog here and there as best I can.

It is a truth, universally acknowledged by me, that as soon as I say something definitive about ANYTHING, I immediately do the exact opposite.  (see my old posts on neutrals, which were always followed by colour or vice versa, my statement that blazers were not for me that was immediately followed by me purchasing a blazer, etc, etc, etc.)

So I giggled when I noted to Dani, in comment to her post about her gorgeous new sparkly giraffe print coat, that I had all but given up on wearing much sparkle.

It was sort of true, but not entirely.

I am unsure if this makes me a serial liar or simply someone with underlying magpie tendencies, who, when she tells the universe one thing, immediately has the universe reward her with exactly the opposite.


Or maybe not...

Because sitting in my closet was this sparkle linen cardigan from J Crew, waiting for it's day in the sun:

J.Crew Italian sparkle linen cardigan and swiss-dot tuxedo shirt.

It no longer appears to be there, and to be honest, I bought it about 6 weeks ago during one of the crazy summer promo thingys, because I liked the idea of sparkly neutral pieces.

I wore it for the first time today:

And here is the closeup of the sweater:

I really like this sweater a lot.  Here I have paired it with Gap white jeans, my cole haan loafters, a vera modo sleeveless shell and a scarf from Target, which I swear has the best scarves going!

Merona® Diamond Cut Out Scarf with Gold and Silver Stripes - White

$16.99 and very fresh looking!

I am living in my white jeans these days, since the temperatures are still on the cool side.  These are gap 1969 always skinny white jeans I purchased on sale for $45 to replace my old ones which were looking quite worn.

This is really a Wendy outfit these days.  I am getting a little uniform and it is quite comfortable..


On the happiest of notes, a hummingbird arrived yesterday.  There was much jubilation!  Because whatever else I am, I am most definitely this: a hummingbird lover!

Somebody sent me the following video on Facebook the other day and it made me so happy.  It's the little things, I tell you...

Have  a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thinking of Robert Frost, A Spring Dress and No More Snow...

I have been thinking of Robert Frost these last few days.  My daughter, she of the English Literature Program, bought a book of his poetry the other day and read a few to me on the way home from the bookstore.

We don't think enough about poetry, do we?

I used to be obsessed with it in high school and university, and then life took over and poetry was replaced by work, housecleaning and the more prosaic novel reading.

But a fine poem can tell as much, if not more, than a whole novel.  Like the tight ball of the peony - so constricted, so small - a good poem opens itself up to reveal a multitude of feathery soft layers of meaning, there for the taking.

So yesterday, Mother's Day, I was out in the yard, doing my best to complete the spring time yard work which is typically completed well in advance of May 11th.

But we have a large yard and we had much snow, the last bit of which only melted over night last night.  There is still snow in our woods, but there is no snow in the garden and for that, I am grateful.

Mother's Day saw me don my gardening getup: Coldplay T, fuchsia chinos, a ball cap and gardening gloves.  Real gardeners do not dress like those in magazines, I think; they dress like they could at any moment be begging on some faraway street.

While working away, the weather changed suddenly from cool to hot, as it is wont to do around here: 4 celcius to 22 mid-morning.  The whole air vibrated with the sense of spring, like some switch had turned on and some invisible voice had cried "You There: Be Spring!"  So me, the hawk in the sky, and Charlie the Chipmunk, did just that and I am not so cool to pretend that I didn't do the odd bit of dancing and singing, if only to myself.

While out there, I tried to recall a Frost poem I had read some 30 years ago about the changing of weather, though I am not so clever to have many poems memorized (but this seems like an excellent past time to undertake if one wants to avoid early-onset dementia or Alzheimer's, doesn't it?), so I looked it up this afternoon.

It is a stanza from Frost's Two Tramps in Mud Time:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

I thought of this because the clouds came out and suddenly, my spring-summer was gone, replaced by early spring.    Charlie and I agreed that such behaviour on the part of the sun and the clouds was absolutely intolerable and immediately signed a petition on Facebook, which I am also wont to do these days...

The garden is a dreary place in early Spring...

Though compared to the three feet of snow that covered all of this three weeks ago, the scene above looks positively miraculous...

Life wants to begin again...

The very beginning of a peony...

And rhubarb, that was only as large at the peony shoots last weekend...

The early buds of a lilac

I noted with interest that my Holly Plant was doing very well.  I couldn't even reach it to cut some Christmas last year, such was the extent of the snow by mid-December...

At my dad's funeral we had three pots of Balsam Fir, two of which have been planted in my backyard in his memory, and which seem to have survived the snow-that-never-ended just fine...

What I am always fascinated by in my garden is how such alien looking shoots can turn into such amazingly beautiful things in only weeks:

This will be a magnolia blossom soon enough

Everywhere in nature, the ugling ducking turns into the swan.  This gives me hope for how things might turn out at the far side of this exciting journey here on earth...


Later in the day, I was taken for ice cream and then we had the most delicious takeout burgers from Relish.  Both were my choices.

I was rewarded in all of my mothering pursuits by having all of my children with me for dinner, including the beloved Girlfriend (who gifted me with a necklace), who the entire family serenaded with Bless Your Beautiful Hide from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for reasons that are inexplicable to pretty much anyone but us, but I will tell you this: Spring brings out the desire to sing...

I was also the recipient of a new dress, which I may have seen in a window, tried on and brought home.

This is indeed a bit of a coquettish pose, but it was spring-summer for a few minutes today and I did want you to see that it was sleeveless....

A foot shot so you can see that I wore bright pink suede ballet flats, which seemed just the thing for a spring-feverish kind of day.

So I'll end this with a bit more Robert Frost (can there ever be too much Robert Frost?).

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill

A Christmas Rose, in May....Don't you think that would make a nice poem? Oh wait - it already is...

I add "Read More Poetry" to my 2014 list of things that will make me happy, and I think of how lucky I am indeed, to be able to add something so sweet and so obviously frivolous to my to-do list. Poetry and flowers remind us how fortune indeed we are...  And there are many like myself who consider neither of these frivolous but the stuff which makes life worth living....

Have a lovely Monday and Stay Safe out there!

xoxo Wendy