Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Flotsam and Jetsam that is Wendy this week PLUS: ENGAGE THE FOX!

So much to discuss with you all, so little time before I have to pan fry some duck breasts a la Gordon Ramsay....

1) Paying it Forward

I got a chance last Friday to have coffee with someone considering a significant career change,  It was a privilege to provide them with support and encouragement, sprinkled with a small dose of what I like to call Wendy dust.  What is Wendy dust you say?  So glad you asked!  When I decided to finally pursue my dream career, I knew I would start at the bottom.  Well, I have seen the bottom and I have survived it.  I learn more about writing, the writing business, and the mechanics of well, everything, every single day.  I am still besotted.  And while I didn't think I'd be an overnight success, I sort of thought I would be if you know what I mean.

We're all like that, aren't we?  We know that success takes hard work and dedication.  I love writing.  I even like editing and revising.  I love learning.  But I kind of wish I knew more than I do.  I kind of wish I would get better in snap.  I have to sprinkle a little Wendy dust on myself now and then and remind myself that anything worth doing is worth doing right.  My agent is out there waiting to fall madly in love with me and me with them.  But I gotta work for it!  So on Friday, I shared that with my friend.  There will be knocks.  Don't worry.  Don't be discouraged.  The help always seems to show up when you need it.  I wanted to be that help for my friend.  And boy, that felt pretty darn good!

Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.Anne Herbert
And speaking of beauty...

2) The Mindy Project

I am always late to every "thing", so when I tell you about something, you ought to know that it was probably big about two years ago.  My latest obsession is The Mindy Project.  I love this show!  I am currently making my way through the episodes on Netflix, watching one or two a night.

The Mindy Project

The show is very witty.  The funny thing is, I don't see myself in Mindy at all.  I see myself in the character of her potential love interest Danny.  There have been two episodes where he's said things like "Wow, that Panama Canal" or "That Ken Burns is a genius" and everyone in my family has turned to me because, well, I say the exact same things at the dinner table on a regular basis, little history geek that I am.

The other person I seem to be the personality twin of if Harvey Levin from TMZ.  TMZ haters off to the side - I completely agree with you that it is complete and utter trash, but my daughter love it and so it is our complete and utter trash.  But sometimes it is hugely funny and very clever.

For those who don't watch, Harvey, who owns TMZ, moderates the discussions amongst his often clueless and almost always classless staff.  And he says things that sound like they are coming from my mouth.  I mean, seriously, they sound like things I say.  How is it that the characters I most resemble on TV (aside from Amal Almuddin, but I suspect she won't be on TV so often soon) are a slightly stuffy male doctor and a gossip company tycoon?  Well there are likely theories about that, and if they are nasty, well tell Fred and she will ease me into it over drinks when I meet her next year in NYC....

3) Michael Pollen's Cooked.

I finally got around to reading this.  I am a huge Michael Pollan fan and this book did not disappoint, and as is the case of all his books, I learned much while he entertained me with stories.

Of course, reading Michael Pollan must be at your own risk because truly, you always go away thinking "I should do more".  I went away thinking "I can make bread without yeast using the power of bacteria and wholesome food".  To whit, I am "cooking" my own sourdough starter, with the firm belief that breads made using homemade starter are less glutteny and other "thingy" (don't ask me for details, I only know enough to be dangerous) and they are more natural than the yeasts we currently use which are all, well, manufactured.  Again - don't ask.  Or ask Michael.  He seems to know.

Well my starter is bubbling away and tonight I leaven the bread.  I am feeling very puritanical about all this, even if I can't explain (without the book in front of me) what leavening actually is.  No matter.  More detail to follow.  

4) and speaking of books...

Our own Jen Lawrence has a book being released in the next week: Engage the Fox!  I am so excited and have pre-ordered mine from Chapters.

Obviously, I am no longer in the corporate world, but from the blurb in Chapters and the review in the Chronicle-Herald, I see this as a wonderful tool for everyone and I am so looking forward to reading it!

I love that she's written a business fable.  Hmmm I wonder if she can explain my uncanny personality resemblance to Harvey Levin????

Good luck Jen!  I hope you sell a million!

Engage The Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically And Motivating Your Team

The book has already gotten a good review!  I know it will get many more!

Well that's the stuff jangling in my brain. Now it's in yours!

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The beginnings of a fall uniform

I could talk about George, but well, the wounds are too fresh.

In these kinds of situations, it is best to wish the object of one's desire well, move on and then wait patiently for him to tire of the incredibly leggy, brainy, beautiful woman he's wed.

George and Amal head out as man and wife

I await the wedding photos...

Ah, but speaking of leggy femme fatales, I have been a busy bee - all of my closets are cleaned out.

I am washing all of my cashmere again and washing my summer things before they are packed away.

And I am beginning to wear (though not THIS weekend - this weekend was 80 degrees),  my fall wardrobe:

One of the happiest, and least expensive purchases for this Fall was actually purchased in August from Banana Republic, which is always running excellent on line sales and free returns in Canada, which I can tell you is a very big deal!

So Friday morning it was cool and I met a friend for coffee.  I paired my new sloane ankle zip pants from BR (so soft!) with a black tshirt and an old H&M moto jacket.

I know - biker chick for coffee?  But so comfy and then I whipped off the jacket once it got warmer and I was Beatnik chick!

I wore the harper ballet flats again from J Crew.  These are truly amazing and so comfortable!

This, or a variation thereof, is the theme of my fall.  I am back into leggings, tunics, drapey cardigans, boots, the odd jean.  Whilst I still love colour and the odd dress, I am not really feeling it this fall.  What I am feeling is comfort and timeless and simple.

And I admit, I am loving the new look over at BR - you can feel Marissa's influence already:

I did find a nice treat at Target the other day that I thought I should share.

Sonia Kashuk is celebrating her 15th anniversary and has released a lovely limited edition compact with 5 delicious shades of red:

Sonia Kashuk® Limited Edition Celebrating a Powerful Pout - The Fall Lip Palette
There is a red here for everyone.  I am firmly convinced that a bad day can be fixed with the right shade of lipstick and have been trying every colour since I bought it a few days ago.

Oh and here's a question for you domestic divas: I pulled out a JC Cashmere pullover from storage, washed it and it has a FUNKY odour.  I then washed it again - same thing.  All of my other cashmere is fine and all was put away laundered.  Any ideas for getting rid of the odour??????

Hope you are having a great Sunday - stay safe out there!
xoxo wendy

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Welcome Autumn

I think as I get older I like Summer best, but then Autumn slips in one frosty night and I, like some fickle lover, embrace the season in all its gaudy, glorious decay.

At some point in Elementary School, I remember practicing Autumn Leaves incessantly in preparation for a music festival to be held in St. Andrews, our collective little arms desperately recreating the gentle falling of the leaves that we could see out of our window,

Autumn leaves are a-falling;
Red and yellow and brown;
Autumn leaves are a-falling,
See them fluttering down.
Tra, la, la, la, la, la, la,
Tra, la, la, la, la, la,
Autumn leaves are a-falling,
See them fluttering down.

Some were more gentle than others.  Some of the boys' falling leaves were more reminiscent of atom bombs falling from the sky.  Boys will be boys, and especially in small town New Brunswick, where it had not yet occurred to anyone that boys could be anything but boys.

This morning as I walked around the lake I realized that fall had come to stay, in spite of the spectacular weather we had early this week and will likely have over the coming month.

If summer is the teen movie portion of the year, all brilliant sunlight, fast cars and music meant to to make your parents blush, autumn is the Paper Chase season, where boys give, to quote Nora Ephron, bouquets of newly sharpened pencils, where preppy is the order of the day, all wrapped up in earth tone plaids, LL Bean and Hunter rubber boots. 

Preppy Handbook1 195x300 The Roots of American Preppy   Redux

In the fall we turn our attention to more cerebral things: papers due, bills to be paid, pools to be closed up, flowers to be picked.

But there is a gaudiness to Autumn which cannot be denied.  The Boho cousin of this preppy classic fashionista.  For every practical loafer there is a biker boot, a fringe poncho, an unnatural hair shade.  

And whereas the hot summer days are the natural home of yellows, pinks and reds gone wild, autumn is the older sister smoking out behind the shed, beckoning to you from, saying "take a puff, its okay: it's menthol".

The light is brilliant; laser-sharp, as if it knows this is it's last gasp.  This is a season that brooks none of the sweetness of last spring.  This is a season that's been around the block one too many times.  

And you can buy all the new clothes you want, but what you really understand is this: there is nothing nicer than the frayed pair of blue jeans in your closet, stretched out from seasons past.   And you can pretend to be an upstanding lady or gentleman, and even go to bed at 10 o'clock at night, but there is a part of you that belongs to midnight in the woods with a campfire, a heavy plaid jacket, a two-four of beer and perhaps something more to keep things mellow.

You are cherry red cheeks and noses, well padded jackets and warm woolen scarves and gloves. You are Ali McGraw in Love Story, never sorry.  You are gold and russet and bronze and ochre.  You are the most fully alive you may ever be and if you are lucky, that person you are flirting with outside your grade seven classroom is going to ask you to dance at the first social of the year.  You are possibility; pliable leather that can be stretched and adjusted at will to suit your own and others' moods.  

You are the smell of wood stoves burning, of mist rising off lakes and rivers in early morning, of comforters pulled up, lights turned on, pies baking in the oven.  

You are in your brownie uniform, running full tilt home in the blackness of seven-thirty, which, only a month previous, was the golden hour for tag.  

You are a closet cleaner, a new coat buyer, a tight-wearer.  You are dreams and regrets and hope and black cats and pumpkins and birthday cakes and new teachers and kleenex stuffed up sleeves.  You are blackbirds bathing in the now-forgotten swimming pool.

You can never be mistaken for winter, nor will you ever be spring again.  You are the impossible blue sky, the call of geese flying south, the memory of other times.  You are every teacher, every new school, every new student, every package of loose leaf paper, every bic pen.  You are tomato soup and sandwiches and turkeys and ripe apples.  You are turnip-coloured sweaters, horrible scarves knit by colour-blind aunts, meet the teacher nights, flannel sheets and bonne bell lip smackers.

You are autumn.  And I had forgotten how much I loved you in those heady days of summer.

clr gif
The Autumn

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1833)

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

xoxo wendy

J Crew Review: Dutch Floral Pencil Skirt, Black suede harper flats, Georgie Loafers

I can't remember the last time I had a review, but am putting these up ASAP before the 25% off sale ends...

I was so excited to get the Dutch Floral Pencil Skirt.  Such a beautiful print!

So moody, perfect for autumn.

But the skirt was voluminous on me:

This would involve a major reconstruction...

That's the material bunching up when I look down!

Look at all the extra material out the back!
You can see the width across my non existent hips...

And me yanking 1/2 yard of fabric at the back...

It makes me very sad to return it.  It would need MAJOR alterations, which I would perhaps be willing to do if it wasn't full price and if I was guaranteed it would fit perfectly, but neither of those things are true!  Back it goes... sigh..

I did keep its ride-along - the Harper black suede scalloped flats.  I tried these on out in Calgary, but chose the Georgies below.  J Crew was kind enough to put them both on sale and I got a refund of the full price I'd paid for the Georgie and put it towards the Harper.  So comfy and very nice!

I went up 1/2 size from my usual 6H.

I am really loving the Georgie loafers I purchased at the store out west!

Dani - recognize this silk shell????

 I am wearing them with an old green cardigan, a silk shell passed down from Dani and my new Citizens for Humanity waxed jeans which are genius comfortable!  I love them and wore them all the time in Alberta in the cold and was never cold!

I was tempted to buy the Harpers in Calgary, but Barry loved the loafers best, so that's what I got.  Again, I went up to a 7 in these!

So, 2/3 isn't bad, though I sure wish the skirt had worked!  I really need that sewing machine so I can start making my own!

Hope this helps someone!  Have a great day and stay safe out there! xoxo wendy

Monday, September 22, 2014

Where Luxury Meets Nature: Chateau Lake Louise

Today is your day!  Your Mountain is waiting.  So...get on your way.
Dr. Seuss

So long as there have been impossibly beautiful vistas, the rich have been there, claiming them for their own.

Chateau Lake Louise is no different, though there is a place where the plebeians are able to come out and take a good look and hike around the lake without paying an arm and a leg to do so.

Barry had stayed at Chateau Lake Louise a few years ago for meetings (let me rewrite the first sentence, the rich - and people spending others' money - claim it for their own!)  :-)

I had never been and since we were spending little on accommodations, we decided that a one-time, one-night splurge at the Chateau would be the perfect 29th wedding anniversary present.  And to add even more expense, we wanted a lakefront room.  Go big or stay home is sometimes the order of the day!

We were not disappointed.

The thing about Lake Louise is that it doesn't look real.  It seems simply too fabulous, too pristine, too perfectly arranged to have occurred naturally.

It is that aberration of nature: the perfect location.  You wouldn't change anything.  And you take a lot of pictures and none of them do it justice.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the spectator of it all, the expensive bleachers positioned 'just so' to heighten the experience.

The interior is quintessential Old Fairmont and the hotel reminded me very much of my beloved Algonquin, which though it lacks a mountain view, has a pretty nice ocean view for a fraction of what we paid at Lake Louise.

The view out the room was breathtaking.

I am not going to lie: I am not a cheap hotel person.  But the cost of one night gave me pause.  I am very mindful of the abject poverty and struggle of many in my own country and around the world and I do not really delight in reading about people staying in very expensive, exotic spots, although I do admire the decor!  Plus, I am on a fixed income.

But I rationalized this in my head and it is true that you can rationalize anything expensive if you want to, which explains how I can buy some of the boots I have in my closet....I know - there is a whole school in Vienna waiting to examine the inner workings of this noggin....

Caveat aside, this is a beautiful hotel.  Nothing cheap here.  The grounds are beautiful, the trails are divine - you can hike all the way to the glacier - though I would say that the hiking here is not hard core hiking and it is VERY crowded.  I much preferred where my brother took us for the sense of being out in nature.

What I would say about Lake Louise is this: it is amazing.  But it feels more like you are walking around in a very good painting than in the wilderness.  It is so perfect that it is almost daunting in its perfection.  You get the feeling that someone said once "Let's show the folks what things might look like Heaven" and so they made Lake Louise.

Painting by Paul Rupert

The service at the hotel is top-notch and we were treated exceptionally.  When they discovered that it was our anniversary, our dinner table was lakeside.  We could not have asked for more.

There are many lovely small shops as well.  In one we found two lovely prints - one that reminded us of our hotel room, and one of the Algonquin, both of which were once Canadian Pacific Hotels, then Fairmont.  The Algonquin is no longer owned by Fairmont, but has been lovingly and expensively restored - and brought them home.

I also bought a lovely blown-glass Christmas ornament of a bellhop - apparently Fairmont will have a series of ornaments and I do love a Christmas keepsake.

The food was excellent and not as pricey as one would think.  We had the table d'hote at the Fairview and it was a great deal.

We didn't leave until exactly checkout time the next morning - we wanted to wring every last cent out of that hotel bill and out of the amazing vista so we went for a long walk to work off some of the amazing food we had.

Of course I would recommend the Chateau - who wouldn't?  However, you can get the same experience - walking the lake, eating at the restaurant - staying at one of the other two hotels in the area which are a bit cheaper.

And it is crowded, all those people from every part of the world, all converging on this one place so they can be part of the painting as well.

Lake Louise has no downtown, unlike Banff or Jasper, both of which have their own Fairmont properties.  They of course, have spectacular views as well.  They just don't have THE VIEW.

I should mention that we did stop in Banff and I had been there before.  I didn't really take much in the way of pictures.  It is a lovely town but it is VERY touristy.  If you want more wildlife, as many mountains, equally good restaurants and a lot fewer people, Jasper is your place.  It is less expensive and lacks the Disney-esque-ness of Banff.  Not that I'm knocking Disney - you know I love my Disney!

We were sad to leave Alberta, especially to leave my brother and his family, but plan, now that we are mostly just travelling à deux, to go there every two or three years to keep our connections strong.

Plus, there is so much more to see....

Now it is back to the real world of writing and complaining about politics and getting the house ready for winter!

I hope you enjoyed these photos - I know there were lots, but I truly feel that Alberta, like my own New Brunswick, is worth a wonderful, extended visit!

Have a great day and stay safe out there!  xoxo wendy  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Water, water everywhere and a lot of it is frozen...

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting some amazing waterfalls, huge gorges carved out of the mountains.

Our first stop was Sunwapta Falls:

Apparently the odd person climbs the fence for a closer shot,
often to disastrous results.  Darwin is alive and well.

Yup that's Barry and I up there on that bridge!

On the way to the falls, we passed a herd of mountain goats.  The things about Jasper National Park is there is wildlife everywhere, and every tourist stops on a dime at the side of the road and jumps out for a photo.  (I, friends, would be one such tourist, though I stayed in the car when we saw the wolf!)

As a Capricorn, this was quite a delight for me, given our lack of mountain goats here in Eastern Canada.

There were some jokes about my excitement at seeing them because I am a Capricorn, but because I AM a Capricorn, I sloughed them off; slow and steady wins the race, my friends.  Onwards and upwards!

After the goats we headed to see the Athabasca Falls.

The Athabasca river flows through Jasper and I would say that the word Athabasca conjures up quintessentially Canadian images.  Every kid in elementary school learns about the mighty Athabasca in Social Studies.

look at the colour of that water!

The picture does not do justice to the milky blue of it!

We left Jasper the next morning, after sad goodbyes (it is always sad to say goodbye to my niece and nephew especially as they change so much between visits and are so wonderful!) and a rip-roaring good meal with my brother and his wife at a fabulous little Jasper bistro, Syrahs.

We were en route to Lake Louise, but first, I needed to cross something off my bucket list, a dream first kindled in a Canadian geography textbook in the early 1970s.

1960's Canadian geography textbook
I don't think this was the actual book, but it was probably close...

My friends, I was going to the Columbia Icefields.

Lake Louise, Alberta Columbia Icefield Vintage Travel Poster Reprint (c.1933) - Eurographics Inc.

I was finally going to walk on a glacier!

Ever since I saw the first photos as a social studies student in Mrs. Garnett's grade 5 social studies class, I was obsessed with someday getting on one.  And this is the one to get on.

While the Athabasca glacier has been slowly receding since 1843, the ice fields are amazing.

Five glaciers come together on these ice fields and the effect is awe-inspiring.


On the way to Jasper, we had popped into the visitor's center across the highway to take a picture of the snow buses that were on the glacier.

Those buses are 5 km away

But now we were back.  We bought our tickets and hopped onto two buses to take us on the half hour trip onto the actual glacier.

We couldn't have picked a better day.  The day before had been stormy and snowy.  This day, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunny day.

The picture below was taken standing on the glacier itself, which is the depth of the Eiffel Tower, looking up to the "steps" of the main glacier.

You sort of have the feeling you are in Frozen, and in my white fleece, I was channeling this fellow:

File:Olaf (2).jpg


The visitors centre is in the distance, where I took the very first picture above.
You can see how high and far away we are.

The glacier is now melting at an unprecedented rate.

I doubt my grandchildren will have the same opportunity to do what Barry and I did, though I sure hope so.

This melting will have devastating impacts on the water supplies of North America and I was reminded again, standing in this majestic place, how important it is to fight for the environment.  Since we currently have a canadian federal government who does anything BUT fight for the environment, it is time to get busy in advance of next year's federal election.

I am so happy I got to visit the ice fields and I highly recommend it!

Only one last piece on the vacation is coming up - living the high life in Lake Louise!

Have a great Sunday and stay safe out there!!! xoxo wendy