Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I suck at Halloween......

Friends, the title is no gross exaggeration.

It is the realization, nay, the culmination of 50 + years on this planet in which I am only able to name two Halloweens where I enjoyed myself.*

I could perhaps blame it on growing up in the 1960s, when Halloween costumes involved threadbare things you wore over your snowsuit, paired with scary masks that made you feel claustrophobic - sweaty and cold all at the same time.

Do you like the term "ventilated mask" - WTF toy manufacturers of the 60s!

We shuffled from house to house carrying pillow cases, barely able to see, furious when someone gave us an apple, which a) wasn't candy for goodness sakes and b) probably had a razor blade stuck in it, if the urban legends of St. Stephen were to be believed.

Later, we graduated from these kinds of costumes to home made ones, which meant we were either gypsies or hobos.  You see, my mother wasn't much for Halloween either.  We raided her old clothes bag and made do.

*I once went as a lion to a university Halloween party and was a huge hit but that's because I had not pants ( did have tights in my defense) and then later went as one of the Grapes of Wrath (there were 4 of us, we made our costumes by hand and painted angry looks on our faces and stomped around, stopping only to drink).  Two good memories!

Later, I had my own children.  I did better.  Not Dina better, but better.

But I never could be bothered much about the decorating.  If we were really ambitious in a given year, we would carve a jack o'lantern or hang Halloween stickers on the windows.  

But it was a half-hearted effort at best.

The week preceding Halloween was always busy in our house growing up - it was my sister's, mother's and brother's birthday all between the 18th and the 25th of October and perhaps there was nothing left in ours or our mother's gas tank for Halloween.

Perhaps it was because it was a different time.  It was the sixties and early seventies after all; my mother loved us, but she wasn't all that invested in what we were doing, so long as we came home at the end of the day with limbs attached.  My dad and Bill Garcelon, my friend Lisa's dad, walked us around the neighbourhood when we were really small, but gladly forgot about that as soon as we were able to run in packs.

Perhaps it was because I dislike all things horrible.  

I used to fake sick from time to time to have a mental health day from school when I was in elementary school and would watch Midday Matinee on CHSJ, which seemed to delight in terrifying its audience.  Perhaps the adults weren't terrified, but ten year old me was.  


I can remember watching the movie, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton, unwitting new homeowners who were sharing their new home with a bunch of murderous zombies.  I never liked to shower much after that movie and became a bath girl.

Sure, they don't look scary now, but trust me....  

The most charming portrayal of Halloween has to be Tootie's adventures in Meet Me in St. Louis.  I might have survived watching that as a young girl.

Or Linus' adventure waiting for the Great Pumpkin, which is arguably the only other decent Peanuts TV special.


 No, I just never much cared for Halloween.  I have my candy all ready for the 20 children* who will come on Friday night (*I use the term children loosely, since at least half of them will be teenagers 6 inches taller than me).  I might carve a pumpkin.

But mostly, I will endure the day and begin to plan for Christmas.  Because I definitely do NOT suck at Christmas....


And remember: stay safe out there and check those apples!

xoxo wendy

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Wendy Public Service Announcement for Those Whose Legs are Restless!

I have restless leg syndrome!

And no, it is not related to my general ADHD tendencies and desire, from time to time, to hit the road:

Nope, these are achy legs and hips that would make me squirm all evening long and have me flopping like a fish back and forth all night.

Apparently, this is often a side-effect suffered by women, ahem, of a certain age.  As if everything going south and then settling around the equator wasn't bad enough...

But thanks to good old-fashioned home remedies, I am almost completely symptom-free and it is has made such a difference to me that I feel I need to pass this along in case anyone else is suffering from this as well.

The plan is three-fold:

  • I walk every day - usually from 30 minutes to an hour
  • An Epsom salt bath every night with at minimum of 1 cup of Epsom salts.  Drink plenty of water before you get in!
  • After bath massage legs with lotion cut with rosemary oil.

I don't know who old Julia Lawless is, but her rosemary oil has been a god-send:

Rosemary OrganicRosemaryPicture

Wait - here is Julia's story, courtesy of the website:

Today Julia is highly respected as an authority in the field of aromatic plants and oils, appearing on TV and radio as well as giving lectures and interviews. As Managing Director of Aqua Oleum, she is directly responsible for selecting top-quality essential oils and checking the quality of all products that are sold. She is also in charge of the formulation of all new products and acts as a general consultant to the industry. As a keen gardener, she has been developing a three-acre plot in Wales over recent years, exploring the potential of those aromatic plants which are resistant to climate change. She is also trained in Tibetan Buddhist yoga and has practiced meditation for many years.
She is well known for her many books on herbs and aromatherapy, which include: ‘The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils’; ‘The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy’ ; ‘The Fragrant Garden’; ‘Aromatherapy and the Mind’; ‘Aloe Vera’; ‘Tea tree Oil’; ‘Rosemary Oil; ‘Rose Oil; ‘Lavender Oil’; ‘Home Aromatherapy’; ‘The Home Use of Essential Oils’; ‘Illustrated Elements of Essential Oils’ and ‘Heaven Scent’. See BOOKS

I am not being paid by Julia, but I had read on-line that Rosemary oil massaged into legs and joints gives soothing relief and I can attest to it.

The bottle recommends putting some drops in almond oil, but since I am allergic to almond oil, I have used my own lotion with excellent results.

I find I can skip the odd night, but unless I do this regularly, it really returns rather quickly.  Now I look forward to a nightly 15 minute soak - I take in a book and just enjoy the whole experience.

The rosemary oil does smell like rosemary, and Barry tells me I smell remarkably like steak (we always cook our steak with rosemary) but never mind - I have found huge relief!

So yay Julia Lawless!

Thus endeth today's public service announcement!

Stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Monday, October 27, 2014

This, That and Oh, Yeah - The Other Thing!

October flew by, didn't it?

I have been busy and neglecting you all terribly, so this is a post about a whole lot of disparate things!

There are colour stories that I dream about in my wardrobe.

I would so love to find a dress with these murky greens and russets all rolled together...

Or a pale lavender blue kissed by deeper plum shades.  Wouldn't a blouse like that be divine?

After much avoidance of prints in the last year, I purchased two things this fall that were a) cheap and b) colourful.

This blouse was $15 at Target.  It looks lovely with black pants....

And this boho jacket was also inexpensive and I pair it with long sleeve black tees and leggings and feel very Midnight At The Oasis....

And then there is the $15 Calvin Klein pink sequin skirt I scored on ebay that will come out to play come the holiday...

Besides dashes of pattern and colour, I have been reading all kinds of books these days:

I am halfway through Middlemarch and I am loving it!


I am finally getting through books of Christmas past - am I the only one who doesn't get through all their Christmas books - and the last few weeks have been treating myself to the Encyclopedia of the Exquisite By Jessica Kerwin Jenkins.  Any book that has essays on masquerades and trapezes is all right by me.  Just a delight!

I also picked up At Home with Madame Chic.

I know some people (and you know who you are, ho, ho!) didn't love her first book, but I love Jennifer L. Scott because I feel she brings the lovely into whatever she does.

One of the critiques is "doesn't everybody already know this stuff".  Trust me - they don't.  I love her ideas for approaching everyday life with peace and pleasure, not always an easy thing to do!  This would be a wonderful Christmas gift especially for a mother of young children and I will likely give one or two copies as gifts this holiday season.  For a longer review take a look at the Hostess' glowing review here.

I am also reading The Paris Architect, which is a gripping tale of a man's slow march towards heroism.

And every couple of days I read Naomi Klein's new book.  This is obviously a character flaw of mine, but I simply cannot read more at a time.  It is too depressing, at least early on, though I think it is critical reading for those who want to save the planet and are wondering what new economic models might help do that...

I have discovered new (to me!) makeup line at Target, Pixie, which, I believes makes the best and smoothest eyeliner pencils I have ever tried, even better than Urban Decay, which I thought was impossible to surpass!

The hallway is now painted and new carpeting put down on the stairs:

The green has indeed proven soothing....

When my handyman gets so inclined again, we will add crown molding here as well as the dining room.  This is likely a Spring 2015 project however...

Is anyone else thinking of holiday clothing?

I confess - as if I would have to confess here - to an over-exuberance of holiday spirit (doesn't that sound like Dorothea, GSL?) that I carry with me the other 11 months of the year.

I am insanely jealous of my American friends - I think that the American Thanksgiving is the perfect beginning of the season and would find me in frippery that much sooner!  Have I mentioned that having Thankgiving dinner with American friends is a bucket list item for me.  I anticipate an invite from George and crew any moment...

Anyway, despite my love of fancy party clothes, I don't actually need any really fancy fare, and apart from the sequin skirt, I think I will focus on sparkly tops (mostly from my wardrobe) and nice trousers.

In the 25% off sale last week at J Crew, I broke down and bought these to try:

I love the idea of alabaster velvet pants paired with heels and loafers and other winter whites or blues...

The perfect lounging look.  I'd put a little pixie dust on:

That's snow sparkle from Pixi!

And a brilliant red lip!

Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

Or dressed up with a lovely silky blouse or t-shirt or something sequinned...

Of course all outfits will be a moot point if it arrives and is ill-fitting, so one needs a back-up plan, which I have yet to find.

But there is lots of time.  I wonder what time George serves his Thanksgiving meal - lunch or later afternoon.

But never mind, it doesn't matter...

I promise to be more faithful this week!

Have a wonderful day!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bright Copper Kettles and Warm Woolen Mittens

There is nothing so lovely as the turn in temperature to make one feel all cocoon-y.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day preparing for a dinner party.  I always love to do that, but I can be a bit of a tightrope walker, suddenly deciding that I am going to make something I've never made before.

In this case it was a panna cotta recipe by Gordon Ramsay, and despite fears, it turned out beautifully.


Serves 4
2 medium sheets leaf gelatine (11 x 7.5cm)
250ml double cream
50g caster sugar
50ml milk
15ml dark rum, or to taste

Pomegranate glaze:
20g caster sugar
275ml pomegranate juice

Chocolate shavings:
Block of good-quality dark chocolate, for grating

1. Soak the gelatine in a shallow dish of cold water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, put the cream, sugar, milk and rum into a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Heat gently for 30 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat. Taste for flavour, adding a little more rum if you wish.

2. Squeeze the gelatine leaves to remove excess water, then add them to the cream mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Tip the mixture into a jug.
3. Now pour into four individual glass dishes, leaving enough room for the glaze. Leave to cool, then place the glasses in the fridge to set for at least two hours, or overnight if preparing ahead.

4. To make the pomegranate glaze, heat a dry frying pan.Tip the sugar into the hot pan followed by the pomegranate juice. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble for 10–15 minutes, until thickened to a sticky, syrupy glaze. Pour into a small jug and leave to cool completely.

5. Pop the chocolate in the freezer for 10–15 minutes before serving. Pour the cooled pomegranate glaze on top of the chilled pannacottas. Take the chocolate from the freezer and draw a small straight-edged knife along the flat side of the bar to make curled shavings. Top each pannacotta with chocolate shavings to serve.
(Christmas with Gordon by Gordon Ramsay is published by Quadrille.)
NOT mine!  Stolen from the internet!

Yay Gordon and Wendy!

After hours of good conversation and a healthy dose of wine, I headed to bed after midnight.

Honestly, midnight itself is exciting enough; I see it so rarely, that when I do see the two hands of the clock pass twelve it feels as if I am doing something naughty!

The morning after a late night is reserved for coffee and much laying about.  In this case, you would have found me curled up with Indy on the couch, reading Middlemarch.  I am getting ready for Dani and GSL's book club in late November, and I am truly loving the book.

Last night, however, you would have found me boiling my homemade ravioli in my lovely new copper pot.

If a person can love an inanimate object (no Ryan Gosling jokes please and thank you or other smutty comments), well, I love this pot:

Made by the Italian company Ruffino, it cooks like a dream.  I do not mind the polishing one little bit.  It is very meditative!

And of course once you start thinking of copper kettles, you start to think about warm woolen mittens, don't you?

And when I think of warm woolen mittens now, I can't help but think of my friend Barb, a retired school teacher and gifted writer, who has a wonderful blog called wool gathering.

In the blog, Barb shares her perspectives on many things, but what I love best about her blog (and her Facebook posts) is when she shows the spectacular mittens she makes and sells:

Given her literary bent, she is not one to simply make the mittens and sell them.

Nope - she gives them the most spectacular names.  The ones above are called (left to right): Strawberry Blizzard: Strawberry Blush; Stormy Rose; Strawberry Yogurt; I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.   Last winter she had a pair (and Barb correct me if I'm wrong!) named after David Adams Richards' novel Evening Snow Shall Bring Such Peace.  I mean, come on, how cool is that?

Don't you just love it?????? 

Well I do, and so I thought it worth sharing, along with Barb's blog link for those who are interested in some of Barb's favourite things.  

I see a pair of Barb's mittens in my winter wardrobe for sure!

And perhaps a cream-coloured pony under the Christmas tree?

It has been so long since I had a "real" pair of mittens!  I can't wait!!!

Hope you are having a fantastic Sunday!  Stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Miller Time Friday - Down the Rabbit Hole, in a genteel way

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Happy Friday!

I have been terribly busy all week - lots of things going on here.

I was also 'trapped' - I was doing some family research for a character in my next book and I ended up going through three Rubbermaid bins full of my parents' papers.

It was a lot like this:

losing track of time

Once you start looking through things you think "Well honestly, I ought to sort some of this out" and then suddenly it is two days later and you have it semi-organized, well on its way to be being properly corralled.

My mother was a historian by training, as was her mother, so for me it was quite torturous to determine what should stay or go.  The ephemera of our lives may or may not be of interest to future generations and we must use our best judgement when curating these things.

Now that I have them all sorted, they will, through the course of this winter, be transferred to archival quality scrapbooks, complete with a small history about who this person was.  No one but me may ever look at these things, but at least I know I will have done right by them.  When this task is complete, I will turn to Barry's and my photo albums; will future generations care to see 15 pictures of a sunset in Lake Winnepesaukee in 1987?  I think not.

I did think it fun to share a couple of things that I found in the bins which I am keeping and which I quite long for in the 21st century:

Dance Cards!

I long to be invited to a dance where such things exist and am tempted to throw such an event myself as it is simply too delicious!

Ah Mum - who was Dale?  If only you were here to ask....

She got invited to a lot of dances in high school and at University;
These are only a few that I found in her keepsakes.

I just love the heavy paper.
Wouldn't you love to hear Bruce Holder's Orchestra on Boxing Day?
My mother was 18 in 1952.

We live in such a casual world now and these are such a reminder for me of a more genteel time when a young man asked a young woman out to a dance and wore a suit and tie and brought her a corsage.

The other thing I found in the papers were telegrams.

Oh how I adore telegrams!  They remind of more glamorous times, men and women type-type-typing into machines or receiving and printing out the messages from friends and family far away.  While there were a couple of sad telegrams in the bunch, I tried to focus on the happy ones received when my parents got married or when my Mother graduated from the University of New Brunswick with her Masters Degree in History.

I love the envelopes they came in!

Getting a telegram from London in 1959 - how glamorous!

I remember the old Canadian Pacific Telegraph Building in downtown Fredericton; I believe it houses a tattoo parlour now.  The irony of that is not lost on me.

It is a treat to be able to look at these items now.  If they were alive, my parents would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on October 10th.  In their honour let's have a cocktail, shall we?

And what better cocktail to celebrate the 1950s:

The Classic Martini

The Martini is often mixed, rarely perfected. The key to an excellent martini is to ensure that it is ice cold. The classic martini has only two ingredients–so it’s important to use the best ingredients you can afford. Vermouth should be stored in the refrigerator to retain its flavour.  Make sure the martini glass is ice cold.

- 1 part Gin
- 1 part Dry Vermouth

Combine in shaker over cracked ice, stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Optionally, garnish with an olive or two or a twist.

I suspect that more than one of these were downed at my parent's wedding reception at the Admiral Beatty Hotel!

Admiral Beatty Hotel Saint John New Brunswick

Would love to hear if any of the rest of you are trying to sort through family papers and pictures these days - it's quite a job isn't it?

And who wants to join me for my fancy dance party?????

Have a happy Friday and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Monday, October 13, 2014

Giving Thanks

The view out my bedroom window.  I live in a glorious tree house!

It is a beautiful fall day here.  The perfect day for a Thanksgiving celebration!

What am I most thankful for?  Besides my family and my friends, I would have to say that I am most thankful for the opportunity to pursue a creative life.  It has made me a very content person.  And really, being content is what it's all about, isn't it?

So, the turkey is in the oven

2 more hours till golden time...

The pies have been made

Apple. Isn't my bluebird sweet?
And that is a little heart in front of him

Pumpkin pie, completely from scratch
I confess I have used canned pumpkins in the past..
Those are spaniels on top - don't ask why!

The table is set

I have added the remnants of the garden to my store bought tulips

can there ever be too many flowers?
Not in Wendy's world...

And the cook is decked out in her new Brynn Walker outfit and new Anne et Valentin glasses.

Byrnn Walker - made in the USA!  Anne et Valentin - made in France.
How multicultural of me!

last year's kikis work very well...

ruching details on the dress
Mostly I will wear this with boots...

I am ever reminded of how fortunate I am to live in a country that is generally safe, to live in a province that is friendly and beautiful and to have food on the table and clothes on my back.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
 ~Thornton Wilder

Have a lovely Monday all, and happy thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

xoxo wendy