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

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.

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

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


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...


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 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


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
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