Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing it in...

It's new year's eve, 2009 and I spent the evening having dinner with my family at a Chinese restaurant where we had a 5lbs lobster 3 ways. Holy cow was the claw ever meaty!

Anyway, I'm signing off for the year and spending the night sipping bubbly and watching DVDs - I actually started with Duplicity in the afternoon and just finished The Jane Austen Book Club, a book I read several years ago and had kind of forgotten about. Next up on my roster is the more serious Atonement and finally, I intend to round out my movie marathon with the light and fluffy Bride & Prejudice.



OMG, I'm such a dope. I only JUST made the connection between The Jane Austen Book Club and Bride and Prejudice after searching for the trailer and only after watching the trailer that I've already seen the movie before. Like, duh.

Happy new year, y'all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Up in the Air

I went to see Up in the Air this afternoon and of all the movies I've seen the last 9 days, this is my favourite. George Clooney is his usual charismatic self and Anna Kendrick really is as amazing as all the critics say.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How to Dress for Success

I picked up this gorgeous cloth-bound copy of Edith Head's How to Dress for Success at the Victoria and Albert Museum Book Shop when I was there in the Spring. I was lured in first by the lavender cover and then by the author's charming retro illustrations.

The book is clearly circa 1967 and her reference lists at the end are rather charming. Her recommendations for the working girl's (single or married) basic wardrobe include:

MORNING (before work - at breakfasts, etc.):
2 shifts or smocks or dusters or zipper-front step-ins or breakfast coats or robes

AT WORK (When no specific costume is required):
2 suits
6 tops - blouses or shells or sweaters
2 day dresses (1-piece, or 2-piece or jumper-type) and a separate jacket or cardigan
2 skirts to be worn with the jacket or sweater and blouses from above
1 coat

LUNCH TIME:
If you have a luncheon date, fresh gloves and jewelry or any accessory you can bring with you can be added to your basic costume for a lift. Many girls who like a change at noon carry a large handbag for this purpose.

AFTER-WORK DATE:
If you are going out after work and don't have time to go home and change, take some instant glamour with you to work: a little veil or bandeau for your hair, pretty jewelry, gloves or a chiffon scarf. Some girls who wear suits to work carry a "dress-up" shell for evening dates.

AFTER WORK (with time to go home for a change):
1 costume (1-piece or 2-piece dress) and a jacket or wrap
1 cocktail or short dinner dress (try to use the wrap from above)
1 dressmaker or cocktail suit, with three changes of tops (knit, lace, crepe, matching fabric or brocade)
1 coat (unless you can use the coat from the costume #1 above)

AT HOME (entertaining):
1 hostess gown or hostess pajamas
1 at-home skirt or pants, more if you're married - with extra interchangeable tops
3 tops for above - blouses or shells or pullover sweaters. (Important note: These can be the same tops you use with your date clothes.)
2 dresses - 1-piece or 2-piece (for informal entertaining)

AT HOME (not entertaining):
1 housecoat or slip-on
1 lounging pajamas and tops, or pants and tops

FORMAL WEAR:
1 informal or semi-formal costume
This can be a dress and wrap or a dress and coat. It can be the same dinner dress you use for entertaining at home. If this is a 2-piece dress, get alternate tops which are great wardrobe stretchers.
1 formal evening dress and wrap, if you have use for it. (If not, get two semi-formal costumes.)

Based on this list, I'm sorely lacking in the basic wardrobe department. I had to look up what a housecoat was (it's basically a robe) - and I'm still not quite certain what a hostess gown is...I think it's a dressier dress that's short of semi-formal, meant to be worn when hosting guests in your own home...hence the name.

The most telling chapter is the one on undergarments or 'foundations' - What you can't do about your figure through starvation and exercise can certainly be improved through wearing the right foundation garment...Bras and pantie-girdles fill in where nature failed. The waist-line bulge is a thing of the past, if you will merely take the time to find a garment that eliminates it, and to have it properly fitted. The pantie-girdle? Her advice is most definitely sound and just kills me, considering.

The Lovely Bones

I started Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones on Christmas Day and finished it early this morning. Like The Time Traveler's Wife, I wonder now why it took me so long to discover it. I mean, I'd heard about it through various media but never felt compelled to pick it up. It was only with the return of winter that I decided I wanted to get back into reading more regularly. And since I wasn't particularly keen on any of the unread books on my cases, I searched online for various "Best of" the Aughties lists for ideas. According to the excerpt at the end of the book of an article from the Boston Globe, The Lovely Bones was the bestselling novel of 2002.

The novel is compelling and original, beginning with the murder of its 14 year old protagonist, Susie Salmon. Thereafter, she watches from heaven as her family and friends carry on with life without her. I shan't say more lest I spoil it but I was dissatisfied with the ending as it seemed a bit rushed and even cheesy to me.

Like The Time Traveler's Wife, this was adapted into film with Peter Jackson directing, and, again like The Time Traveler's Wife, advance word has been rather negative. I'm thinking maybe of doing a movie theme night...good books gone bad on film, or something to that effect...we'll see. The trailer looks alright though:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nine

I followed up the shopping with another movie, this time, Nine. It was a gorgeous film to watch and the performances were special considering that everyone did their own singing. Kate Hudson's vocal chops were rather unexpected and her Cinema Italiano number was my favourite, followed by Marion Cotillard's Take It All. There is no doubt that Daniel Day Lewis is a brilliant actor, but a singer he is not.



With Nine, I've watched 8 movies the last week - something of a record for me beginning with Julie & Julia and Public Enemies last Saturday; Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day on Wednesday; Meet Me in St. Louis, Holiday Inn and White Christmas on Christmas Eve; and Sherlock Holmes yesterday. Depending on how the days unfold, I may be off the cinema again as I still want to see An Education, The Young Victoria and Up in the Air. We shall see...

Success!

I've been thinking about getting a new black wool coat - more specifically one by Mackage since stumbling upon their Black Friday sale online. I thought better of it though considering the price...but when I wore my old wool coat more recently, it occurred to me that it was at least 7 years old - fully amortized and ready for retirement, I'd say. So my search became a little more serious. I fell for the Julia style below, after trying it a few weeks ago and determined that I'd buy it during the Boxing Day sales.

I went shopping with my mom today, a rare occasion since my mom is so not a shopper. She was rather keen on buying a down coat of her own so off we set off early this morning and were met with success. I know I'm awfully spoiled because oftentimes when I shop with my mother, she pays - and that's what happened today as I received my birthday and Christmas gifts in advance. Yay! :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sherlock Holmes

I went to see a movie for the first time on Christmas Day today and the theatres were crazy busy! It was opening day for Sherlock Holmes and that's what we saw - so good! Perhaps I'll try to see Nine tomorrow...maybe in the afternoon, after I've gone Boxing Day shopping with my mom in the morning.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day



I finished Winifred Watson's Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day last night and determined that I was going to watch the film tonight so I could compare the book to the film.

Despite the book being a bit of a slow read for me to start, I much preferred it to the film - it's funnier, wittier and more colourful then the film, which was enjoyable nonetheless.

Keith Pickering, Ms. Watson's son, explained the adaptions made from book to film best:

A book is a book, a film is a film. They're two different art forms, not wildly different, because obviously there are links...but they're an art form and therefore I have absolutely no hang-ups about, 'Oh, but my mother wrote this and my mother wrote that and this is a film and they've changed it.' Nonsense! They've got to change it because a book is written at a different pace, a lot depends on individual words that are put in that can be funny or can be taken this way or can be heartbreaking, etc. A film, you're dealing with a far wider audience for a start and...I think your story has got to have probably more dramatic movement in it then the book.

Of course, much has already been written in the blogosphere about the fabulous period sets - my favourite being Miss LaFosse's bedroom with the fantastic wallpaper - it brings to mind Fromental's handpainted Chinoiserie Collection - and the upholstered, tufted wall and headboard:


Photos via

P.S. Shirley Henderson, the actress who plays Edith DuBarry, has such a distinctive voice that I immediately recognized her as Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter films.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Setting records

I trained my lower body tonight and set a couple records - including 110lbs (70lbs weights + 40lbs bar) in the barbell squat. According to K, I'm 1 of 3 of his female clients lifting at this weight.

The other record was the Farmers Walk. I'm the first of his clients to do this particular workout and I actually told him I hated him while I was doing it. Here's how it goes - you sink into a squat and pick up a dumbbell in each hand and then do a lap before dropping them back down in a squat. Then you repeat. I did about a dozen laps tonight, split across 2 sets with 45lbs/50lbs/65lbs(!!!) dumbbells. The latter was what made me curse K. Why?

First, because of the 15lbs jump in weight, the dumbbells were freakin' heavy and I came close to losing my grip on them in my last lap. And second, despite wearing workout gloves, and moisturizing like crazy, my hands are rough. I thought initially that it was the hard water, but I'm beginning to realize that it's the heavy weights. The grips on the dumbbells are purposely rough to allow for better grip which appear to cause micro tears in my skin that's already dry from the hard water. And this brought out my whiney side tonight:

Me: I don't want rough man hands!
K: You're not going to get man hands.
Me: No one's gonna wanna hold these hands!
K: Of course they will!

Sucky attitude and man hands aside, I'm quite proud of the definition that's peaking through the layer of fat, particularly in my arms and shoulders. K's a great trainer - encouraging while being a hard taskmaster too. I shot dirty looks at him during each lap with the 65lbs and at the end of it all, what does he say? "That was awesome!" and offers up a couple high fives while I eye him belligerently.

I just need to get through the "build" phase to the "burn" and then it'll be all good.

Bacon Cups

Seriously. Bacon cups? I'd love to give these a try for my next brunch, except for the fact that they'll be hell for my healthy diet. Check Not Martha for the How-To.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekend Update

It was a fairly productive weekend in that I crossed out about half the things on my To Do list, a list which is always ambitious to begin with. I woke up early yesterday and was out the door by 10am and ran through my errands, which included reading the paper over a latte before heading over to Camden Spa for my appointments. If you're off for the holidays and need a little pick-me-up, check out Camden Spa - they've got a special on through the end of the month which includes a manicure, body scrub and a tube of body cream for $60.

I spent a relaxing afternoon a couple hours there before heading home to change for afternoon tea at C5. The holiday tea is very contemporary which was a nice change, however the service was disappointing to say the least. I think we sat for at least 15 minutes before our server came by to ask for our order and then he seemed to disappear - perhaps his shift was over - and we were left without anyone to tend to us. I think it was another 15 minutes from the time we realized we were out of devonshire cream to the point we realized that our server was MIA and making eye contact with another to ask for more.

Anyway, it was frightfully cold last night so N and I headed over to the new Owl of Minerva in Chinatown for soon tofu stew which was a perfect meal to warm up the soul. We rounded out the night with a movie night in - Julie & Julia and Public Enemies.

Today was another errand day. It started with a call from my aunt to ask if she'd woken me - go figure. I was supposed to pick her up to go uptown for dim sum with my family, which ended up being pushed back an hour to accommodate my uncle. More errands followed, including a trip to Home Depot where I picked up this runner for my kitchen. I wasn't completely convinced when I first bought it but I love it now that it's down.

The rest of the evening was spent cleaning with Hugh Grant keeping me company first with About A Boy and then Love Actually. I love how my place looks and feels when the floors are properly cleaned - by properly I mean on my hands and knees washing them - but it's such a chore that I don't do it all that often. It's catch up time now - I'm going to try and cross off one more item on my list and call it a night....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mid-Week Party

My neighbour threw a party tonight and while I had second thoughts about going after a long day at work, I figured I better damn well go and have a good time because I re-scheduled my personal training session for Friday, expressly for this social gathering. So I went and I'm glad I did since I saw neighbours that I haven't seen in a while. It's weird that I live in a building with let's call it a couple hundred other people and it's a rare occasion for me to bump into anyone. Seriously.

Anyway, I was chatting with a neighbour who's a real estate agent and the record price per square foot in my building was set recently at 675! That's crazy to me....and freakin' tempting. I've mused recently about buying pre-construction again...I could sell my place and maybe rent until then...at 675, that's a very, very attractive option. Damn.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DIY Chair

So, you know how I've been thinking about getting a new desk chair? After seeing this DIY in the latest House & Home, I thought maybe I won't get something new - brand new, that is. Maybe I'll hit up the vintage shops, something I really enjoy and haven't indulged in in awhile, and find a chair to re-finish and re-uphoslster, just like Michael Penney did here:

It's totally easy and I already have some of the tools after re-upholstering my mom's dining chairs a couple years ago....Oooh! A new project!!

Double whammy

I queued up for my flu shots after work yesterday. My first attempt last week during the lunch hour was unsuccessful so I decided to try again, particularly after hearing the news that Toronto Public Health would be closing the clinics this Sunday to re-open again in January.

I queued for about 30 minutes before sitting down for seasonal and H1N1 shots, the former in my right deltoid and the latter in my left - I'm only being this specific because that's what the nurse checked in the computer system.

I was fine for my work-out afterwards but the pain came soon enough because my sleep last night awful. I'm a side sleeper and I couldn't lie comfortably on either because both arms hurt. And this morning - the simple act of lifting my arm up to the side away from my body pained me.

I was super-slow today too...started the day off right by breaking an egg on my kitchen runner and then there was the long, slushy walk to ride...which actually wasn't too bad because my gum boots kept my feet through the crazy-big puddles. Those boots saved me today.

I re-scheduled my personal training session to Friday because of the pain in my arms and settled in with the grand plan of getting caught up on my admin stuff...but I've been procrastinating of course and haven't checked any of the items off my list of to dos. sigh.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Precious

I went to see Precious tonight and this movie is heavy. Go see it because it will move you and touch you. There are amazing performances as many critics have already attested to and you won't be disappointed. While the story may break your heart, there were some funny moments too, that made us, the audience, tonight laugh out loud.

Getting my Martha on...

It was a busy weekend socially with Martini Night at M&A's nice home, Sunday brunch with N&G and movie night with EY for a screening of Precious. I've been in the mood to bake with the holiday season getting into full swing so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and baked cookies to serve as host/ess gifts.

The first recipe was Mrs. Field's Brown Sugar Shortbread (below). They came out super-butter-y and over-the-top decadent as far as my tastebuds were concerned. The recipe called for dipping the shortbread into melted chocolate and than coating with crushed pecans. I took the suggested shortcut and melted the chocolate chips in the microwave instead of going with the double boiler. Big mistake. The chocolate came out thick and nowhere near melted enough to allow the dipping of the cookies. Instead I spread the chocolate onto the cookies with a knife. Not nearly as pretty but hey, it worked.


The second recipe is Martha Stewart's Chewy Molasses Cookies, a favourite. I doubled both recipes, baked all the shortbread but have lots of the molasses cookies left. Mmm...fresh cookies through the week....but so bad for my diet...hence the sharing!

Here're the gifts I packaged up:

For M&A's Martini Night

For brunch at N&G's

And 4 shortbread cookies for my trainer - I daren't give him more because he's so vigilant about his diet

Monday, November 23, 2009

Words to live by...

Twinkle Twinkle

I love this new print over at Keep Calm Gallery:


Piglet is visiting this week and I was singing this very nursery rhyme to her Saturday night. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lovely

I was catching up on my Google Reader subscriptions when I stumbled upon the bookend/vase set in the middle via Oh Joy!. How fine are these porcelain wonders at KleinReid?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

QOTD

"If we do not forgive, it is like carrying heavy baggage that weighs us down so we cannot go forward with it, but we cannot go without it as it contains our history...it is like holding on to hot coals but we are the ones getting burned."
- Ed & Deb Shapiro

Gorgeous

I stumbled upon Jessica Hische's blog via Hey Susy and hello, gorgeous!


This letterpress print is available for sale here and I want one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dish Jeans

For me, shopping for jeans is second to shopping for a bathing suit. I do it only when I have to - and I haven't had to do the latter forever since I'm not one for beach vacations - but for some reason yesterday, I decided to try a pair of jeans while I was at Girl Friday on Queen West. And I was pleasantly surprised. They were the trouser-cut "Jane" by Dish Jeans. The wash wasn't as dark as is my preference so the sales associate suggested the "Deseray" in the blue-black Portofino wash which was near perfect but I ended up leaving with a pair of the boot-cut Portofino "Desi" which has a higher waist then the usual nowadays but certainly not your mom's jeans.

They're super-comfortable and make my ass look fantastic!

Oh, and the price! I'm used to paying $200+ for my jeans, which is why I don't own more than a couple pairs at once, wear what I have until they're worn through and only then go out grudgingly to replace them. These at under $100 were a steal. So of course I bought them, despite having bought 2 new pairs recently from Mendocino when they had their Jeans Drive in support of Covenant House.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Running on empty

My work-outs this week have been completely lacklustre and it's my own fault because I haven't been eating properly - and by not eating properly I mean I haven't been snacking in the afternoons to give myself enough energy.

Without fail, K will ask me what I ate during the day and I've disappointed him, and frankly, myself this week. It's no fun training when you feel like a weakling and that's what I've felt like this week. :(

You see those apple slices and that dollop of cottage cheese? That would be an ideal snack, but I hate cottage cheese. Like, ewww. But I could replace that cottage cheese with a handful of almonds...which I could have done today because I had not 1 but 2(!) apples at the office and keep in my drawer a container of almonds.

What did I do instead? I had a coffee in the afternoon around 3:30 because I had a fancy 3 course lunch at Frank with my team to celebrate the Fall planning sessions and wasn't feeling hungry in the afternoon.

Lesson learned here? Regardless of whether or not I feel hungry, I will have to eat to fuel up. No more whimpy-ass, frustrating work-outs. They suck and I don't want to suck anymore.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cool Barcodes

I subscribe to a bunch of retail-related e-newsletters for work and came across this article about Design Barcode, a company that has re-imagined the ubiquitous barcode in graphic and sometimes whimsical ways. To date there work has been featured mainly on Japanese products but they've just begun to expand to the U.S.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bangs 'n' Layers

I PVR'd Ellen on Oprah tonight and was completely diverted by how great Portia de Rossi's bangs looked with her hair straightened and pulled back in a ponytail.

I've been flirting with the idea of cutting my hair for the last few weeks now and have gone so far as to entertain a short bob...but I'm not quite ready for such a drastic change. Not when winter is around the corner - I need all the hair to keep me warm...so I'm thinking long-ish bangs are just the thing. They're not something I haven't done before...but hers are quite a bit shorter than I'd normally go.

Bangs and more layers...ya...I'm thinking that'll keep my hair boredom at bay - at least through the winter, anyway....

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Glass tops & chairs

While I was wiping the top of my Saarinen Tulip table knock-off from Ikea, I noticed tiny little nicks in the white finish and was reminded again of my original intent to top it off with a piece of glass, as I first saw in Marilyn & Peter's Home Studio house tour on Apartment Therapy:

Pier 1 has one in just the right size at an affordable price so I'll be making a stop there sooner rather than later.

The other change I've been contemplating for a while now is a new desk chair. I have Nuevo's Connie which is itself a copy of Eames' molded plastic chair but not a very comfortable one for even a couple hours at a desk. So I've been considering one of these:

Nelson Swag Leg Armchair, Overlapping Squares from West Elm and Thompson from StyleGarage

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have spent the extra money and gotten the real Eames instead. I tried the Thompson this afternoon but the back is too low for my comfort. The Overlapping Squares match the motif of a couple storage boxes in my bookcase but I'm thinking that be too matchy-matchy so I'm leaning towards the Nelson which is super-comfy, not to mention stylish - it kinda looks like it's laughing, donchathink? - and of course, the most expensive one in the mix.

Weekend Update

It was brilliantly sunshine-y and unseasonably warm in Toronto this weekend. I didn't get up to very much - mostly because I spent much of Saturday afternoon on my Macbook trying to buy tickets for the Olympics. Phase 3 of sales to Canadian residents were supposed to open at 1pm and I waited around for about 3 hours, catching up on my backlog of Google Reader and YouTube subscriptions, etc. I had 8 separate tabs open trying to get onto VANOC's sales site before I gave into my boredom and went shopping with my mom for her new mattress set. I figured I'd probably still be waiting by the time I got back but around 5pm, I received an email that because of technical difficulties, sales would be postponed until next Saturday. A whole afternoon wasted!

I had dinner at a Korean resto with my mom and her friend before making a stop at the nearby Chapters to find the Alphonse Muchas coffeetable book I'd spied Thursday but didn't buy. Well, I found it, as well as 3 other bargain buys - bookstores are far more dangerous for me than clothing stores - and then headed home to get organized. My desk is slightly less cluttered after the couple hours I put in archiving old statements and I changed my bedsheets so that I could use the Orla Kiely pillowcases I bought in London in the Spring but only just got back from Amsterdam. You like?

My plans for today included a Bodyflow class but because I spent most of yesterday afternoon waiting around in vain, I skipped my class and cleaned instead - something I desperately needed to do, particularly in the kitchen after the top of my vanilla protein shake flew off Monday and sprayed sticky shake all over my floors and cabinets.

I was supposed to check out the Edward Steichen photo exhibit at the AGO in the afternoon but because the weather was so lovely out, I browsed the shops along West Queen West instead and rounded out the day with dinner at Fresh.

The night's been a quiet one - as most Sundays are. My laundry's done and I've cleared away some more clutter and here I am, in front of my Macbook again. I thought I'd do some work but got sidetracked and am blogging instead. I guess I better get back to it, huh?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Holt Renfrew's Holiday Window Unveiling

I was bad today and told a white lie to get out of a blind coffee date set up by a very enthusiastic girlfriend in order to check out the unveiling of Holt Renfrew's holiday window display.

The festivities started about 30 minutes later than I had expected and were hosted by ET Canada's Rick Campanelli and Kim D'Eon, both of whom I believe were outfitted in Mackage coats:

The opening act was The Abrams Brothers, a bluegrass band out of Kingston, ON who performed 2 songs, including a fantastic cover of Coldplay's Viva La Vida. Check out their video here:



I had googled ahead of time to find out who the guest performer would be and had expected Kristin Chenoweth based on this report and was pleasantly surprised to find Feist instead! She was awesome live and performed some of my favourite songs off The Reminder, beginning with My Moon My Man, So Sorry, Sealion, Honey Honey and I Feel it All.

Here's a look at the surreal vignettes unveiled - I'm guessing this one here is there interpretation of March of the Penguins:


I LOVE the wool coat second from the right in their fantastic take on Swan Lake below:

Here, the shopper's stream in to shop and browse during tonight's extended hours:


Completely smitten with this display of shoulder dusting chandelier earrings:

Monday, November 02, 2009

COOKIE!!!

I know I'm late with this but wc only just sent me the link today - how fantastic does Cookie look?!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

BBC Book List

I found this via a friend on Facebook. The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up? I've read about a quarter:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - x
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - x
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - x
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - x
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy - x
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - x
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger – x
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - x
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald – x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll –x
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma-Jane Austen – x
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - x
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - x
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - x
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen –x
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - x
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabakov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - x
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola – x
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens – x
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker - x
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry - x
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare – x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Lulu binge

I've gone and done it again. You see, it all started when I forgot to set my clock back an hour before going to bed last night. I woke up at what I thought was 10 but was really 9 so I'd have plenty of time to make it to the 11:30 Bodyflow class at my gym. I made my fruit protein shake and was catching up on Google Reader when I noticed the time at the top right of my Macbook. And then it occurred to me.

After some thought, I figured, I was up already, why waste an hour? Let's just pop in a yoga dvd and get the day started. So I did...and since I was feeling all stretched out and relaxed afterwards, I hopped back onto the Lululemon site because I was still thinking about this cute fleece pullover:

I didn't see it in the stores yesterday but there's free shipping until the 15th. So I just ordered it.

It's cute right? I'm a touch more partial to the running version here mainly because of the hole in the hoodie made specifically for ponytails but I'm a fairweather runner at best and it's unnecessary for my purposes...not that I needed another fleece hoodie but whatever. This is it though. No more Lulu purchases. I'm done. At least for the next little while.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chanel No. 5

While searching for the Coco Avant Chanel trailer for my last post, results came up that included the new Chanel No. 5 film starring Audrey Tautou, who looks absolutely stunning in it. Now I'm girl-crushing and wanting to splash on some Chanel No. 5 myself!



And since we're talking Chanel commericals, the 2005 spot with Nicole Kidman is another fav, but more for the hottie, Rodrigo Santoro who first caught my eye in Love Actually:

A Perfect Saturday Afternoon

After getting to bed last night after 3am I was pleasantly surprised to be woken up by wL this morning around 10:40 - the first time in a while that I've been able to sleep in past 9. We made plans to meet for brunch and caught up over the last couple months before parting ways around 2.

And rather than giving in to my lazy-ass cocooning instincts of late, I headed back out for a little shopping. My first stop - Lululemon to check out their jackets and hoodies. I wasn't particularly keen on the brand before since it was sort of up there with Nike for me as athletic gear, and I never saw myself as athletic. For the longest time, the only thing I owned was a hoodie and a yoga mat bag - but I've since come around. I had my eye on the Gratitude Wrap (below), which they didn't have at the Queen West store, so off I headed to the Eaton Centre where, yay!, they did. It's super-comfy and cozy, so, I bought it.
Next stop - Sephora, where I had to pick up a new bottle of Aloe Toning Complex and ended up leaving with a jar of Korres Lip Butter in Plum and a lip brush. Ooh, and because I had 300 Beauty Insider points, I also got a free 30ml tube of Fresh Brown Sugar Body Cream.

Last stop for the afternoon was the AMC for the 4 o'clock showing of Coco Avant Chanel, a film I've been meaning to watch since it opened but have been too lazy-assed to get out to see because of the aforementioned tendency towards cocooning. It was another good film - certainly different from yesterday's selection - but inspiring nonetheless as it's led me to flip through the catalog from the Met's 2005 Chanel exhibit for another look of her simply elegant styles.

A Wild and Live Friday

After spending last weekend holed up at home watching the complete first and last season of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - I'm still sad it was cancelled - I decided I should get out this weekend and, you know, be social.

So last night, N and I watched the last showing of Where The Wild Things Are. I don't remember reading the book as a child so I had no expectations about the story, but this was one of the sweetest and most charming films I've watched in recent memory.


Afterwards, we headed over to The Horseshoe Tavern to catch KC Roberts & the Live Revolution perform. I've never been to The Horseshoe because frankly, my tastes run more to wine bars than dive bars, but I made the exception last night because I really enjoyed their performance when I first saw them at the Beaches Jazz Festival in July. They were just as good last night and they got me all nostalgic with their unexpected, yet funky rendition of the Thundercats theme song. Incidentally, there's a movie in development according to imdb.



I picked up their latest disc, Parkdale Funk I, at the show and am actually a bit disappointed that their ode to Toronto, City by the Lake, isn't on it. Ah well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Personal Training

Instead of an LV handbag, Chanel sunglasses or 500 pencil crayons, I got myself a personal trainer for turning 33 this year. I figured it was about time I got serious about whipping my own ass into shape since my metabolism has slowed and my tendency towards excuses has resulted in gaining about 10lbs of weight in the last year - no joke.

The harbinger for me came in February, when I had difficulty pulling up the zip of my dressy knee-high boots. I thought for sure I'd break the zipper tab and cut off circulation because my calves were bigger than they were the year before. As time progressed, the mornings when I'd stand in front of my closet at a loss for what to wear because things weren't fitting right multiplied. I felt helpless with frustration and angry at myself for letting this happen.

I made half-hearted attempts to get fit on my own - I ordered exercise books and DVDs but I'm just not motivated enough to do it on my own. It wasn't until I was trying on some dresses in my closet for a friend's wedding and finding that I couldn't fit into them anymore that I finally bit the bullet and took a page out of my cousin A's book to hire a personal trainer.

I always used to think a personal trainer was self-indulgent and superficial. But I've been working with K now for about 2 months and I must say that this is one of the best investments I've ever made - and it is an investment because our sessions are not cheap.

I train 3x a week and am still surprised by how strong I am having never pushed myself to the limit. I wasn't athletic growing up, preferring music and band to varsity team sports, so I was never particularly into health and fitness. Getting into running was a bit of a revelation for me because I never imagined that I would really enjoy it, but enjoy it I did in working up to my first 10K last year. For various reasons, I wasn't nearly as motivated this year so I ended up bailing on the 10 Mile run I'd signed up for.

Back to training though - I'm nearing the end of my "foundational" phase, the first in a 3-phase program which follows the periodization philosophy of training. I'm definitely seeing results in my arms which is to be expected as I'm your classic pear shape so the muscles in my lower body are hiding beneath the fat which hasn't been burned off yet. I'll be progressing to the "build" phase soon, which, according to K, means heavier weights, lower reps and less creative exercises as we work to focus the muscle development. The final phase, "burn," is the one I'm most looking forward to as that's when the fat is burned off and we "shrink wrap" the muscles leaving a toned, fit physique behind.

Aside from being a qualified personal trainer, K is also a nutritionist - which I'm sure he studied in order to give himself an edge as a bodybuilder - so he's also giving me diet advice which I've heeded. I'm making more conscious decisions about what I eat like trying to have protein at every meal and choosing complex carbohydrates over simple ones. I've even started drinking whey protein shakes post-workout which have really helped in my recovery because I'm not as sore for as long. I used to think they were only for muscleheads but if it makes me hurt less, I'm all for it.

I kept a food diary for a week which K reviewed and critiqued based on my intake of protein, carbs, fat and water. I'll have more on my diet in blogs to come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PUNCTUATE!!!

I have a profile on an online dating site which I do nothing about. I get messages from guys that I'm not particularly interested in. I suppose I should be more proactive about it and take it more seriously but I find dating tedious. All this to say that I received this opening salvo tonight and I'm irked:

wow i think we would get along great do u like to laugh...do u like to cuddle im a part time magician as in abracadabra lol fulltime <insert profession> but u will have to be able to laugh together .......at me.....at u......and each other i sure hope to hear from you would love to talk more do u have msn aswel xxxxxxx@hotmail.com we could talk there too hope u are interested in having fun cant waiT

It was written by a 35 year old man(!!!) who is obviously seriously challenged when it comes to written communication. My grammar is by no means perfect - I still don't know when to use "whom" in a sentence - but I do my best to ensure proper punctuation. I simply can not take anyone seriously who isn't friends with a period, let alone a comma and doesn't capitalize. It offends me, it truly does.

This is one part-time magician - as in abracadabra, LOL - that won't be hearing from me.

That's all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Brrr!

My walk home from Yuk Yuks took me through the crowd of clubbers in the Entertainment District tonight and I'm amazed at how little clothing the girls wore as I shivered in my coat. There were girls in halter tops and short skirts tottering about in to high heels. Like, seriously! The club scene has certainly changed since the days I used to go out.

p.s. Yuk Yuks was funny. I'm pretty certain Steve Patterson, tonight's headliner, was drunk.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Zappos Rocks

You know the Reebok Easytones I blogged about last weekend? I tried looking for them in Toronto this week and came up empty-handed. They're sold out in all the stores I've checked and there are apparently no plans for replenishment until the summer.

So I hopped online again and found them on Zappos. I've read great things about Zappos and their awesome customer service and I can now attest to that fact.

I tried ordering my shoes online and ran into trouble entering my billing information because I don't live in the U.S. Luckily, my friend JL will be in town from Philly next weekend and can bring them back for me if I have them shipped to him. I called their 1-800 number and spoke to an agent named Lyle. He stayed on the phone with me and walked me through placing the order online and then upgraded my account to VIP status because I called in to make my first order. Customer service agents typically aren't so nice - understandable, really, since they're at the front lines when it comes to dealing with customer complaints. Anyway, thanks to my new VIP status, my order will be expedited for delivery in 1 business day, so they'll arrive Tuesday at JL's place. Awesome, right?!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autobiography of a Wardrobe

I actually finished Elizabeth Kendall's Autobiography of a Wardrobe a few weeks ago. The book is as described in its title and I found I couldn't muster up much empathy for a wardrobe, so it was a slow read for me.

Reebok EasyTone

I usually skip the ads in magazine but as I was flipping through my back issues of Glamour I stumbled upon an ad for Reebok's EasyTone shoes which piqued my curiosity. So I hopped on the net to do some research. They seem to work similarly to MBTs which unfortunately, are ugly and orthopeadic looking. These actually look good...and I'd even wear them to work!

Now I just have to find them in Toronto for a try-on...

Blue Crystal Snowflake

I've never been into collecting coins but this $20 silver coin in the Royal Canadian Mint's current holiday gift guide has me re-considering numismatics.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Whew.

Just got home from a dinner date, at the end of which the boy told me he didn't feel the spark and he didn't like to play games. And I must say that was a relief.

Now, as a dyed in the wool introvert, I'm not the most sparkling of conversationalists - but I tried my best and I swear, while it wasn't the worst dinner date ever, it certainly wasn't fun because I felt like I was carrying the conversation.

So glad that's over with.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hmmm.....

So, I'm meeting a guy for drinks tomorrow night and I'm trying to figure something out. I don't know if this is something he does all the time - it's too early to tell - but in our last couple email correspondences, he's replied back to my email queries in fairly succinct direct responses. And I don't know if this is annoying or not.

Here's a pseudo-excerpt of our last emails:

Me: I know we decided on meeting at X less than an hour ago but do you have any objections to a change in venue?
He: Nope.
Me: ....I was thinking of going to Y....have you ever been?
He: I have been a few times but never for drinks. Let's go there instead.
Me: ...Do you have a cell number I can reach you at in case something comes up and I'm running late, etc...
He: ###.###.####

I don't know...these to-the-point responses seem to lack charm and imagination. I should be more open and optimistic though, right? At least he's flexible and accommodating...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

3 nights, 4 days

Our trip to Brazil was short, intense and very productive. Our flight late Sunday night was delayed a couple hours because of mechanical problems so we didn't leave until 1:30am, which meant we had more time to enjoy the Maple Leaf Lounge at Pearson. This was my first visit to any First/Exec Class lounge so I have nothing to compare it to - the furnishings had a retro-60s vibe which were forgettable but what impressed me the most was the self-serve open bar!

There was beer on draught, wine and various liquors available for mixed drinks. I was hoping that there would be a bottle of port in the mix and found one sitting on the bar with the Grand Marnier and other after-dinner liqueurs. Happy!

The flight was supposed to be 10hrs+ but our pilot knew of a "short-cut" that shaved about an hour off our time. We had Executive Class seats and our 767 was re-furbished with sleeping pods so I was actually able to lay flat and have my best sleep on a plane ever! I waited anxiously for the seat belt light to go off and when it did, I quickly adjusted my seat and laid back for what turned out to be about 6hrs of shut-eye. As a result of that, I didn't get to enjoy all the other perks of flying Executive like the Grilled Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Morel Mushroom Sauce and the better wine selection - a small price to pay though for some rest. We arrived in Sao Paulo in time to head to our hotel for a quick shower and made it to the office around 4pm. We spent a few hours there setting the agenda for the next few days and before heading out for a low-key dinner at a pizza restaurant which was surprisingly good.

The next few days took on the same rhythm - we'd meet in the hotel's executive lounge for breakfast around 8am, get picked up around 9am, work until about 7:30 and then head out for dinner with our partners. We usually arrived back at our hotel around 10:30 and then we'd have our own de-brief over drinks in the hotel bar for the next hour or two before finally calling it a night. All in all, it was a great experience as business trips go.

The flight back was unremarkable. We arrived back in Toronto around 5:45am yesterday and I took a cab to my mother's since that's where my car was. I slept a couple hours, woke up in time to catch up with my mom over dim sum and then headed back downtown to my place. I was a bit torn between going back to bed and fighting through the fatigue. I opted for the latter, fully expecting to hit the sack early so I did a bit of cleaning and then soaked in the tub for awhile before settling in to catch up on my TV. My quiet night in didn't play out as expected though - I joined a couple friends for dinner and drinks in the Annex and finally got home to reunite with my bed around 10:30. What a great sleep!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife


I don't know why it took me this long to read The Time Traveler's Wife, but it did and I get now why it's an international bestseller. What a fantastic love story! I'm tempted to watch the movie but am turned off by the reviews which are mixed at best. Such a great read, though!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Travel-worthy

I'm leaving on my first ever business trip tomorrow night - and it's an international one at that all they way to Sao Paulo, Brazil!

I spent about 5 hours at the office this afternoon finishing up a document, printing off stuff for my trip binder and backing up all our files onto a USB for easy-access the 4 days we're there.

Before that though, I made a stop at Sephora to pick up my Beauty Insider birthday gift, a trio of Shimmer Lip Glosses perfect for travel, as well as their retractable foundation brush and angled eyeliner brush. I don't know why I hadn't gotten them sooner since I travel so much - they're certainly much more convenient then my full-size MAC equivalents!

There's more last minute prep to get through but first...dinner calls!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello 33


Today's my birthday.

I turned 33, and frankly, it doesn't really feel all that different from 32. The day was notable for the many lovely well wishes I received today: postings on my Facebook wall, MSN messages, emails, text messages, phone and video calls, and a very well attended lunch with my team at work.

I celebrated tonight by heading to the gym to work-out with my trainer, KB, who I have a serious school-girl crush on. (I've been meaning to blog about my decision to work with a personal trainer but haven't had the time to organize my thoughts properly thanks to the project that's kept me busy the last 9 mos.) Anyway, I feel like a silly minor-niner for admitting this but he made my day by giving me a hug and a kiss on the cheek when I told him I was spending my birthday working out with him. And when we ended our session, he opened up his arms to give me another hug to wish me a good trip as I'm leaving for Brazil on business Sunday and will miss training next week. *sigh* No joke, just thinking about it makes me feel like a dope.

So, to recap the last year:

* I'm still single and (admittedly) half-heartedly looking;
* My niece, Piglet, continues to bring so much joy - I have this one photo of her smiling the sweetest smile you ever did see as my wallpaper and it never fails to make me smile too;
* I had a fantastic 2.5 weeks in Europe this Spring and spent some really good QT with my extended family;
* I've settled into my new home and have met some really great neighbours; and
* My work life is progressing well - I'm on another major strategic project that has raised my profile considerably and has challenged me to grow.

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Handcrafted Rugs from Amy Butler!

I literally gasped when I saw this image below of one of Amy Butler's new rug designs. Can we say gorgeous?!

I think this one here, Bright Buds, is my favourite:

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Lazy Sunday

It's been a lazy long weekend Sunday - I spent the first couple hours in bed reading a cheesy Nora Roberts romance and didn't get up until after noon after which I killed some time watching a couple episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before deciding perhaps it might be a good idea to head out and enjoy the late summer sun...

So out I went onto Queen West to browse the shops...and ended up in trouble at Girl Friday where I picked up this numph sweater:

It doesn't look like much in the photograph but the wool's hand-dyed so every sweater is a little different.

And then there was my stop in Cat Tilt, where I found this gorgeous Hard Tail cotton wrap in white with a subtle laser-burnt pattern:

After all that browsing, I felt the need for a snacky-snack so made a stop at the recently opened Quaff Cafe:

YUM!

What do you do

I spent the last couple hours on Skype talking to my cousin's now ex-fiance. I called me to tell me she had something to tell me and I thought it was that she was pregnant. But instead, it was to say that she and M had broken up after a month-long seperation. He essentially told her that after 12.5 years together, he didn't love her in that way any more and that she should move on with her life.

So what do you do when you break up with your best friend? I thinks that M is confused - she's asked him for answers, explanations as to how he could fall out of love with her and the best he can do is to say that the passion isn't there anymore...to which we both wonder, is he being unrealistic to think that a relationship maintains the same level of passion throughout the life of the relationship? Doesn't it mellow out and settle down? We would both think so.

I thought that she had found the love of her life - that they were in a comfortable place - but maybe it's that comfortable feeling that was their undoing.

I'm certainly not taking sides - I love them both having met them the same time in 1999 (M and I didn't grow up together, he being in Amsterdam and me in Toronto) - but I can't lie and say I don't sympathize with how confused I feels having been in a similar position a few years ago when my ex broke things off.

I really hope they work things out because they seemed so good together....but if they don't, I hope they're able to let each other go without inflicting too much unintentional damage...

Monday, August 24, 2009

If only...

...it wasn't for the dealbreaker. But alas. There is, so there is no "us" for wL and I. It doesn't stop him from being thoughtful though. We went to the Jason Mraz concert together a couple Saturdays ago, and he offered to make me a copy of his mixed cd after I had mentioned that I wasn't familiar with the songs from his second disc...but instead of doing that, he got me the original. Very sweet, non?

Too bad about the dealbreaker though.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Brunch

I've been in my place just over a year now and hosted the last of my housewarming brunches with A&M, W&K and J&M. We used to spend a lot of time together over martinis so it was lovely of J to give me these pretty glasses:

I made a strata based on this recipe with turkey kielbasa, red peppers, broccoli and mushrooms and paired it with this yummy arugula salad with lemon-parmesan dressing which was super-easy. This will definitely be added to my repetoire of regular recipes.

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