Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wendy's Christmas Gift Guide for those for whom money is an object!

Taking a cue from my friend Tabs' recent Christmas list, I decided to take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and share a list of things that I think would be fabulous to find under the tree* this holiday!

* editorial aside - this list is no hint to Barry.  I have already given him a list.  Be prepared, I say!

And since there are so many high end lists (Gwynnie will likely have hers up soon), I felt it might be fun to share what I consider to be um, more moderately priced gifts.

Unlike other gift lists, which categorize "things for her" "things for the pet", this list is best described as "things for yourself because dammit, you're worth it!"

1) The Book I want most for Christmas:

Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature

I have a serious girl crush on Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.  I discovered her blog, A Bloomsbury Life, several years ago and I have "be invited to Lisa's for supper" on my bucket list.  (she probably has "get a restraining order against Wendy" on hers).  She is fountain of amazing book, art and travel advice and her annual list of books to give or get is a must-read for me.

So you can imagine my excitement when she announced that she'd have a book coming out this fall.

And given that she is such a talented, interesting woman, I have no doubt this book is going to be divine!

Read the description:

For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.

Lisa Giramonti inspires a new approach to decorating: by teaching us through the lens of worlds we may already know and love. With gorgeous photographs by World of Interiors photographer Ivan Terestchenko, aspirational quotes, and tailored reading lists, Novel Interiors reveals the essence and details of interiors mentioned in great literary works. This is a stunning, photo-driven book that shares enchanting and timeless ways to live more elegantly.

I mean seriously, doesn't that sound amazing???  I see me, champagne, and chocolates all curled up together on Christmas afternoon with this book!

2) A cookbook

I was going to ask for the amazing A Kitchen in France for Christmas, but I know I can't wait that long!

A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse

I follow Mimi's blog, Manger, and always getting good ideas.  When I skimmed through this book at Chapters I was drooling.  

So because I can't wait, this is the cookbook I want to see under the tree this Christmas:

The Tucci Table

I adore Stanley Tucci.  Those of you who love movies about cooking will recall the eponymous Big Night, about the making of an italian feast.  Tucci wrote a cookbook after that movie that was full of family stories.

Now he is back, along with his new wife, Felicity Blunt (Emily's sister) serving a wonderful cookbook of family favourites.  Some of you may recall that Stanley's wife died tragically of cancer several years ago and he happily remarried this past year.  I like a happy ending, I like Stanley and I KNOW Stanley can cook, so I am all over this cookbook.  I always need new recipes for when y'all drop over.

3) Things you didn't know you needed until I told you about them...

Last year I left it too long to talk about the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild.  I won't make that mistake twice.

Because they have come out with the niftiest things that we MUST have!!!!

There is nothing so lovely as lighting a candle and having a meditative moment.  Ah, you say, but some of us do not believe in God, Buddha, Mohammed (insert your own God here), some of us believe in other powers.  Well folks, the Guild has you covered with their secular saint collection!!!

Secular Saints

Virginia Woolf, Einstein!  Frida!  Noam Chomsky!  Freud! Vonnegut!  Think of the inspiration you will find as you channel your own secular saint!

How about Betty Frieden? Darwin?

Betty Friedan CandleCharles Darwin Candle

They're all just waiting to impart their wisdom!

You know I adore their finger puppets!  My new favorites include Sylvia Plath, Rosa Parks and Andy Warhol:

Sylvia Plath Finger PuppetRosa Parks Finger PuppetAndy Warhol Finger Puppet

And how about the original Calvin and Hobbes, available on a T-shirt?

Calvin & Hobbes  T-shirt

4) Things to play with on Christmas Day

Sure, you are serious 364 days of the year, but a game or something of the same ilk is always a fun thing for Christmas afternoon.

How about table top tennis before you set the table for the big feast?

Vintage Table Tennis Set
Get yours here

 or Rock em Sock em Robots?

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots

My personal favourite is always a racing set.  A crowd pleaser!

Hot Wheels Track Builder Total Turbo Takeover Track Set

5) Pretty things for Pretty girls

Because I am obsessed with cosmetics (the part of me who loves to play with pretty things, including myself!), how about something inexpensive but a good time?

Too Faced's Beauty Wishes and Kisses

or Under the mistletoe:

Or Urban Decay's Naked on the Run?

Limited-Edition, All-In-One Naked Palette.  Make It Yours >

Or Pixie's Fairy Dust?

Fairy Dust
I have the silver and I adore it!

6) Happiness

And finally, because this is my blog after all, I would like us all to be able to buy a little peace:

Peace LED Lights

An eclectic list for sure, but nothing fancy nor expensive.  Just a whole lot of fun!!!!

Hope this has given you a few ideas for your list!  HoHoHo!

xoxo wendy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jenna Lyons at Solange Knowles wedding...

First I thought nothing could be cooler than Solange...

Solange Knowles Marries Alan Ferguson

Solange Knowles Marries Alan Ferguson| Couples, Weddings, Music News, Beyonce Knowles, Blue Ivy Carter, Jay-Z, Solange Knowles, Tina Knowles
Barry and I will ride bikes when we renew our vows someday.  Show that cleavage now, Solange!
Thirty years in it will be much lower, trust me...
See all six of Solange Knowles’ knock-out wedding outfits
This one made me scared, like they were fembots or something....Or like those bad vampires in Twilight...

File:Brought out fembots.PNG


Then I saw Jenna's outfit (you can read all about it here)

I mean seriously, Jenna, seriously.  Damn!  You are amazing.  I don't think I could love you any more than I do right now...

Jenna Lyons and guest outside of the wedding ceremony of musician Solange Knowles and music video director Alan Ferguson at the Marigny Opera House on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Josh Brastead/WireImage) Photo: Josh Brasted, Getty Images / 2014 Josh Brasted

Note to self:  be braver when you dress, Wendy, be braver....


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I am a Golden God(dess)... or at least I want to be!

You know, I never get tired of that movie or of Billy Crudup...

But I digress....


Ah the holiday season, when our normally practical minds are overtaken by dreams of sparkles, metallic shades, glittery bits and bobs.

We bedeck ourselves in opulence, however we define it, mad to recreate the court of Nicholas and Alexandra or Vera Ellen's dresses in White Christmas.

This holiday season, I have found myself drawn inexplicably to sparkly whites and golds.

My lord, could I be a Kardashian?

Happy holidays! The Kardashian-Jenner clan pose together for their 2012 family Christmas card; clockwise from left: Kylie, Kim, Rob, Lamar, Khloe, Kris, Kendall, Kourtney with Penelope, Scott, Mason and Bruce

Fear not.  I'm channeling a Dean Martin gold digger...

You know, I'm never going to get over him....

My purchases are few and they are decidedly budget-conscious.  I mean, it's not like I get invited to a lot of events over the holidays; our lives are very casual...

But the heart wants what it wants, so I have ordered the following to try:

Which I plan to wear with my white cashmere pullover (two years old)

Oxyclean, I salute you!

and with these infinitely comfortable and obscenely cheap loafers from Aldo:

I paid $35 for these.  I know - it shows...

And on my lips, the kiss of glittery gold from Elizabeth Arden:

Beautiful Color Luminous Lip Gloss (Limited Edition)

Is it too much?  I hope so.  I mean, that's what I was going for.  Over the top, yet comfortable, lounging gold digger.  A new category brought to you by Lazy-Boy and Sears Posturepedic.  

I'm ready Dean!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Night They Invented Champagne....

The night they invented champagne
It's plain as it could be
They thought of you and me

The night they invented champagne
They absolutely knew

That all we'd wanna do
Is fly to the sky on champagne and shout to everyone in sight
That since the world began, a woman and a man
Have never been as happy as we are tonight

It has been a weekend of celebrations here!

First Barry turned 52 years old yesterday:

Who doesn't love chocolate cake with 7 minute frosting?

Like the beard?  It's new!

He luffed the coat he ordered from J Crew and got a new XBox 360 game.  You can never take the boy out of the man!

So happy birthday Barry!

And the even bigger news?  On Friday, I signed with a literary agency, the LKG Agency in New York City!!!!!!  They have recently decided to expand their interests into children's literature and when they offered me a contract, I swear I felt like Jo March!

A New York City Literary Agency has signed me.  A REALLY GOOD literary agency has signed me - check out their list of authors!

If this isn't a pinch-me moment, well what the heck is??????



Over the last year, I have been writing and rewriting like a fiend, taking courses, reading about writing, writing about reading, dreaming about writing, doing anything I could do to get better and make my first book sell-able.

I always knew it would be hard to break through - the publishing world today requires you, in the main, to have a literary agent.  To gain a literary agent, you query, query, query.  And then you wait.  And then you mostly get rejected.

However, this summer, I started to get more and more requests for full manuscripts by agencies.  And suddenly, this past three weeks, there seemed to be 3 on the verge of signing me.  

And on Friday, I signed the contract.

What does this mean?

Well I make more revisions first.  And then my agent will try to sell my book.  Hopefully I have done a good enough job that this will not be an impossible task for her! 

So I am one step further on my journey.  And am proof that if you work like a dog and continue to try and grow and keep taking courses and rewrite and re-question all that you do, you can actually make a major career change.

So while I don't miss my old job, it is clear that the tenacity and professionalism I learned there has helped this newbie in her dream profession.

And yes, we celebrated with the widow, for who else would you celebrate with?

And thanks to all of you who continue to cheer along!  It means the world to me and I will continue to keep you posted on my progress!  And to my NYC friends - you KNOW you are seeing me in March!!!  

Have a wonderful Sunday and remember: don't be afraid to fly!

File:Wendy Flying.gif

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Love Letters: Another Kind of Remembrance

It was the summer of 1958.  My father was working in northern Alberta, my mother was back in Fredericton, continuing to work on her thesis.  Dean Martin was everywhere that year, singing the wonderful Return to Me.

"Return To Me"
Return to me
Oh my dear I'm so lonely
Hurry back, hurry back
Oh my love hurry back I'm yours

Return to me
For my heart wants you only
Hurry home, hurry home
Won't you please hurry home to my heart

My darling, if I hurt you I'm sorry
Forgive me and please say you are mine

Return to me
Please come back bella mia
Hurry back, hurry home to my arms
To my lips and my heart

Retorna me
Cara mia ti amo
Solo tu, solo tu, solo tu, solo tu
Mio cuore 
That summer was theoretical to me until recently.  I suppose for many of us, the grand passion that our parents held for one another is theoretical; by the time we are sentient beings, the heady days of dating and early married life are replaced by whiny kids, too much work, bills to pay.  
Your spouse wandering the house in baby spit or scratching their belly is not necessarily  conducive to high romance.

Worse still, we didn't always see our parents having fun, unless they were, god forbid, away from us and having a few drinks.  Around the house, they were just Mom and Dad.  We got to spend the high holidays with them and benefited from the cuddles and care, but we also saw the worst of them: the bickering side, the snide comments, the stony silences.

I had seen pictures of my parents pre-children; only a few, but they seemed pretty happy.  Even in the early years of their marriage, they seemed relatively content.  Lots of pictures with arms around each other.
If they seemed worn down later on, who can I blame that on but myself?  Marriages that survive toddler-hood and the teenage years ought really be given a "get out of jail" card in perpetuity, don't you think?

Later, had you asked, I would say my parents had an okay marriage, but I don't know if I would have described it as happy.

I would be proved wrong about that three times.

The first was after my mother died on this day, November 11th, 2001.  It was not a shocking death; she was after all, sick for quite a while in advance of her death.  But it was terribly sad and I continue to miss her.  I suppose I will until the day to mosey along for the next great adventure myself.

After a year or two, I asked my Dad if he had any interest in dating.  "Why would I do that," he asked, "when I've already had the best?"  Well that closed that chapter.

My dad hung on for another eleven year years.  
The second time I was wrong was in his death.  As many of you know, he did everything he could do to pass away on November 11th, missing it by a mere 2 hours.  My mother likely chalked that up to the fact that he was always late.  It takes a lot of willpower to take yourself out of the game on the anniversary of your wife's death.  My father was nothing if not willful.

There is a certain convenience in having your parents die on basically the same day - you kind of get the grief out all out at once and then pack it away for another year (ah, but do we ever really pack it away?  Those pesky parents sneak up on me all the time and have been known to knock the wind out of me with no warning!)

So after my dad's grand gesture, I always sort of thought I didn't get the depth of their love while they were alive.  

And then, a few weeks ago, going through their papers, I found the love letters my father wrote to my mother in 1958.  Third time wrong.

These are only a few - there are at least two dozen 

There was typical Bud stuff - descriptions of where he was working and how he hoped they would be married before the end of 1958 so he could have my mother for a tax deduction, something that would be a theme for the rest of their marriage - but there was much more.  

Love.  My father was besotted with my mother.  And fortunately for me, my mother kept every single letter.  Sadly, my father, for all his meticulous record-keeping around household expenditures and mortgage depreciation charts, kept only one of hers.  It is equally loving and passionate.

At 51 years of age, I found myself gob-smacked that these two were so in love.  I think I even had the hilarious thought at one point whilst reading them of "Huh, I guess they did have sex", having been fairly certain as a child that my sister and I were the products of immaculate conception.

The letters are a gift on many levels: seeing my parents for the human beings they were, truly understanding that we were born of two people who really loved one another even if they didn't show it quite as much later on, hearing about my dad's work.

As children, we believe that the world, including our parents' lives, revolve around us, exist only to serve our needs.  I am thankful that down in my basement is a box full of letter written between Barry and I nearly 30 years that will be discovered by my own children on some distant day.  And I will encourage them to put thoughts on paper to their life partners as well someday and hope that there will be a few times they will be separated by some distance that requires more than a random text or sext message.  

So today, and tomorrow, I will be thinking a lot about my parents.  Of how lucky I was to be born of them, of how any brains I may have is the direct result of some co-mingling of an historian with a forester decades ago.  And mostly, I will be glad to have read those private letters, because they are gift whose value is incalculable.

Hope you're somewhere where the rum is flowing and there's a good movie on, Mum and Dad...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

When the wall came tumbling down....

It was the ultimate sign of the Cold War, and a living monument of what happens when nations divide the spoils of war.

From the time I was born it was there and to be honest, I never believed it would come down.

And while I had seen the tapes of Kennedy's famous speech that included "Ich bin ein Berliner", I remember clearly watching Ronald Reagan's public demand "Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall."

All that fall of 1989, we watched the protests grow ever stronger.

It's funny to think of those days now.  I was just beginning to work for the Government of New Brunswick.  I went to New York City for the first time in October with a bunch of university friends I was doing with my Masters Degree with.  Earlier that year, we had seen David Bowie in concert.

Barry and I lived in small apartment a block away from the first house I'd ever lived in.

The potential fear of nuclear war that had hung in the air in the early 80s seemed to be dissipating, that is, until the protests began.

How would the USSR react?

We were glued to the television in the days leading up to November 9th.  Each day brought a new story of courage, a swelling demand for freedom.

Their hope was infectious and we all believed that they would succeed, but at what cost?

We'd just seen the Chinese government crack down the previous Spring in Tiananmen Square - would the same thing happen in Berlin?

And then it was over.

Gorbachev capitulated and we watched in awe and through tears as East and West were joined once more.

Those are distant days, distant memories.

We hear a lot about the decadence of the 1980s, typically painted as the me-me-me decade.

And yet I think of things like Band Aid, Live Aid, Tiananmen Square, the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, The Romanian Revolution.  The dying months of the 1980s were a turbulent time but seemed a portent of better things to come, even if the nearly final images, of Ceausescu and his wife Elena on Christmas Day, were the bloody footnote.

There was a sense that higher ideals might be rearing their heads once more.  Would we say the same of this decade?  I think of other places around the world where freedom is not yet available....

Today I will say a prayer for the many people who didn't make it over the wall.  

But most of all, I will say a prayer of thanks for the people who stood firm in their belief that a government should not be able to hold its own people hostage.

Twenty five years.  A lifetime ago.

Stay safe out there.  xoxo wendy

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Luncheon Date with Wendy, Sarah, and Tommy

I seriously love Sarah Richardson.

For those of you not familiar with Sarah, she is a Canadian Interior Designer who has parlayed her abilities into not only a successful business, but a successful TV career, furniture and fabric design business, is the new Home Design Director for Good Housekeeping magazine and now, has added author to the mix.

Yesterday, her new book, Sarah Style hit the shelves:

Pre-Order Sarah Style Today!

It's actually on sale at Chapters this week for the ridiculously low price of $16 and so no surprise, it is winging its way to me at this very minute...

Photo: Today's the day! #SarahStyle has officially been released! Head to my website for a list of online retailers. Worldwide shipping available! Simon & Schuster Canada Gallery Books
It looks like candy, doesn't it?

I love Sarah because she can decorate high end, but she can also come down from the mountains to give advice and support to the rest of us.

 Sarah Richardson London Flat Kitchen

I started watching Sarah years ago on Design Inc and continued to follow along on all of her TV projects.

She is usually assisted by the talented and crazy-funny, Tommy Smythe:


Tommy is the ying to Sarah's yang, and is a talented designer in his own right.  I am particularly drawn to his use of old world and masculine touches in his decorating projects.

One of the things I vowed to do when I began to work and write from home was to never, ever, turn on the television.  I do make exceptions of course, but they are rare.

I do not do this because I am a snob.  

Au contraire.

I could so easily get sucked into the TV that I might never leave it and so have left my viewing habits till later in the evening with the family.  

But then one day, I discovered that a local channel was running a continuous loop of Sarah's House and Sarah's Cottage.  At twelve noon.  Which just happened to be the time I stop and take lunch.

When I was a kid, there was a show on every day called Elwood Glover's Luncheon Date.

Luncheon Date

Elwood was a refined gentleman, if I recall, and the show is most famous in my mind for the fact that Stompin Tom got married live on air:

But my luncheon date is different.  

Most days, you will find me in the kitchen, having lunch with Sarah and Tommy.  I am now into the second cycle of watching the shows.  I cannot seem to get sick of them.  I'll take a slurp of yogurt and say "Tommy, you are  a SCAMP!"  or give a nod of affirmation when Sarah tells us something VERY IMPORTANT about design, something which, if I'd known about 20 years ago, might have saved me much heartache.  But Sarah wasn't in my life then, and that's through no fault of hers.

Someday, when I am a rich authoress, I shall have Sarah and Tommy round to the MacKnight house, where, over canapes and champagne, they will explain to me just how and why things aren't quite jiving...  Then I will say something wistful like "it would be so great if Toronto designers ever worked in New Brunswick" and they will immediately yell "WE HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO A PROJECT IN NEW BRUNSWICK FOR A RICH AND FAMOUS AUTHORESS!" and there will be much hugging, some snide asides by Tommy about a paint colour or man-made countertop, and all will be well with my world.

Until then, I will be in the kitchen, eating with Sarah and Tommy.  And thumbing through the book when it comes!

 Stay safe out there!  xoxo wendy