These days I’m enjoying my morning tea outside on the patio. That’s where you can find me most evenings too. Enjoying the riotous colour and hum of summer. I had no idea that chicks and hen plants bloomed! The bees love the tiny flowers. Apparently, the tall flowering stalks die off to make room for the plant to expand. You can also see budding sedum, which is one of my favourites.
Also, we’re watching the mystery-comedy Only Murders in the Building and it is wonderful! If you haven’t watched yet, I would definitely recommend. It is charming, nostalgic and funny. Steve Martin and Martin Short make an obvious pairing but adding Selena Gomez to the mix was brilliant.
Until next time…
Btw, you can view on Disney+ in Canada. What’s everyone else watching?
What’s summer without book recommendations? And I love recommending books. And I have no hesitation whatsoever about recommending Book Lovers by Emily Henry. Because I loved it!
Have you ever watched a Hallmark romance movie and wondered what happened to the cold-hearted, ambitious girlfriend ditched by her billionaire boyfriend after he fell in love the small town baker? Well, wonder no longer. Meet Nora Stephens. Her best heroine yet.
Books Lovers is full of Henry’s dry wit and way with dialogue. Oh my gosh, the witty repartee is so engaging. And funny. But so well done it doesn’t overtake or detract from the messy and complicated issues at the heart of a story that will tug at your heartstrings. There might not be a Christmas tree farmer in sight but there’s a book store in need of rescuing. And a hero you’ll fall in love with, just like the heroine.
Until next time…
Have you read any of Emily Henry’s other books? Do you have a book recommendation? Are you one of those who’s watching the Christmas in July movies on the Hallmark channel?
Is anyone else panicking at the thought of summer flying by too fast? I know I am. I also know that’s a sign I’m not living in the moment or being mindful. But there’s just so much stuff happening and I want to make sure I pack it all in, you know?Which means June has been busier than I’d like or would normally plan for.
That’s because we made the big decision to fill in our underground pool. A pool that had SO MANY great memories. But it wasn’t getting as much use as it once did and it needed major repairs. It was quite the process. And.. now it’s a giant garden. Our first tempt at growing vegetables on this scale. Things are sprouting…
Will do an update in July.
I’m determined to get out golfing more this year. Any other golfers out there? love being outside, I love walking, I love spending time with my husband. I enjoy the game. I’m bad at it. But I’m working at being okay with that. To that end, I don’t keep score. I take mulligans. A LOT of mulligans. And I quit when I’m not having fun anymore.
June is also National Indigenous History Month
If you’re wondering how to celebrate, or looking for a way to connect and learn, The McKenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan) is currently hosting a stunning exhibition: Radical Stitch. Showcasing work from 48 artists, it is one of the most significant exhibitions of Indigenous beading in North America.
It was a incredible experience and I highly recommend checking it out. So many distinct styles (floral, geometric, abstract, and others) that showcase the importance of beading to Indigenous peoples. But also how deeply personal, labour intensive, and complex the art of beading is.
“So to be a bead artist in this moment in time, it’s a radical act as Indigenous people and coming from cultures where colonial governments attempted to halt this practice, because in so many ways it was our strength. Radical Stitch recognizes it’s a radical act.”
I’d love to know what you did in June? Have any big projects on the go? Are you trying something new?
*The top photo was taken on Mother’s Day at the McKenzie Art Gallery. FYI: Currently the first Sunday of every month are reserved for visitors who require increased safety protocols because of COVID-19.
A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed a summer break from social media and that I’d be hanging out here, my little corner of the Internet. The pandemic turned the world upside down. And with all the other tragic news reaching us from various parts of the world, well…it all takes a toll. I found I was reaching from my phone too often. Scrolling mindlessly. The next thing I knew an hour had passed. I wasn’t any less tired. Or peaceful. Or joyful. Maybe that’s you too?
Time to re-evaluate and look for ways to fill that time that benefit my mental health. To make this summer one of creative expression. One of the best ways I know how to do that to to refill my creative well. One of my favourite things is painting with watercolours. It brings me joy. Whether I’m good at it or not good at it doesn’t matter to me. I just love playing around! I recently took a mini class. It was fun to get out and maybe learn a couple of techniques. But it’s not my intention to become skilled at watercolours. That’s too much pressure.
This is a gentle reminder to take care of yourself and remember to take the time to fill your creative well. Don’t be scared to try something new. To be bad at it and love doing it anyway. You might even want to pick up something you used to love to do but abandoned because you weren’t advancing. Pick a thing that you always wanted to try. Go into it with zero expectation of perfection. It’s not a waste of money if you don’t get any better. It’s an investment in your mental health.
I read some great books in April. Two of those came in the form of ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) from Netgalley and I loved them both! Every Summer After by Carley Fortune and When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee.
Categories: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance / Canadian Author / Canadian Setting /
Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.
They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.
Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.
For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.
When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.
Every Summer After is Carley Fortune’s debut novel. It starts with the present then takes us back to summers in Barry’s Bay, Ontario. It’s no secret that I LOVE a Canadian setting, and there’s nothing better than summer in Canada. On Persephone Fraser’s first day at the lake, she meets the boy next door, Sam Florek.
Best friends and summer neighbours, Persephone and Sam lead separate lives during the school year. But during the summers they are inseparable, spending days an idyllic summer bubble. Until the reality of college and adulting sets in and decisions are made that can’t be undone. Twelve years later they meet again.
Whether you still dream of your first love, or have moved on and left it in the past, this book will speak to you. All the looks back will resonate. You’ll fall in love with Persephone and Sam and Barry’s Bay. I wish I could read it again for the first time. Highly recommend!
Bonus Book: When It all Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee
Categories: Contemporary Romance / Romance / Single Dad / Family Romance /
A bittersweet romance about the power of love in the face of heartbreak and loss.
Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.
Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?
As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?
This is my first time reading Catherine Bybee and it definitely won’t be my last. The first book in the D’Angelo series, When It All Falls Apart takes place in Little Italy in San Diego. There is enough heart, family and Italian food in this book to satisfy everyone. There is the relationship with Brooke and Luca, of course. But’s it’s also about what happens when relationships with parents are not only hard but heartbreaking. There is no such thing as the perfect family. It’s also true that family leaves scars that are hard to heal.
I loved the dialogue. I loved the setting. Who can resist a loud Italian family? But I also appreciated the honest look at what happens when it all falls apart. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one in the series. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
Who else is looking forward to summer? I’d love some summer reading suggestions! Bonus points if they have a Canadian setting.
We like to keep things interesting. So, this spring and summer season, we decided Friday nights will dinner (in the form of appetizers) followed by an 80s movie.
We started with Flashdance. And a charcuterie board. Yummy!
Believe it or not, this 80s girl had never watched Flashdance. But like every other 80s girl, I owned a version of the grey iconic oversized, falling-off-the-shoulder sweatshirt. You know the one.
Spoiler Alerts Head.
So the plot.
This movie is an 80s era Cinderella tale. Parentless, eighteen year old Alex lives on her own, works two jobs, and dreams of being a prima ballerina. She has no formal training but she’s incredibly talented and dances at night as an exotic dancer at a bar/nightclub. When she’s not dancing, she working her day job as a welder. She also rides her bike all over Pittsburgh. Of course, she falls for her divorced boss, who’s also somewhat young, and very handsome. And successful. Most of the non-dancing scenes follow their budding relationship.
Does it stand the test of time?
The music is awesome. The cinematography is fantastic. The dancing is fabulous. Kind of like a music video. Because, hello, 80s. Other than that, it’s what happens when a man tries to write a romance headlining a strong female character. We end up with a teenager sleeping with her boss. Said boss also secures her the coveted dance audition behind her back. Takes his ex-wife to a function instead of her. But don’t worry it didn’t mean anything, please don’t be mad at me. Here, look, we’ll have more sex and everything will be okay.
Warning; Also includes racial slurs and exploitation of women.
This whole idea of watching retro movies, besides loving the 80s, was inspired by one of my favourite podcasts.
I love talking about books and I love sharing books with you that I’ve loved reading. Genevieve Graham is a favourite author of mine and I would be delighted to recommend Letters Across the Sea to anyone who is looking for a read this cloudy Friday.
Categories: Fiction / Romance / Historical / Strong Romantic Elements / Canadian History / 20th Century / Canadian Author
If you’re reading this letter, that means I’m dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.
At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah’s handsome older brother, Max.
But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler’s hateful ideas cross the sea and “Swastika Clubs” and “No Jews Allowed” signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.
Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?
From the desperate streets of Toronto to the embattled shores of Hong Kong, Letters Across the Sea is a poignant novel about the enduring power of love to cross dangerous divides even in the darkest of times—from the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child.
Genevieve Graham’s books are always the perfect combination of character and plot tied to true historical events. Letters Across the Sea gives us a glimpse of life in Toronto in 1933. The Depression has devastated the economy. In the years leading up to World War II poverty, discontent and racism are rampant. Molly Ryan’s life is forever changed on the night of the Christie Pits Riot in August of 1933.
Molly Ryan possesses some the qualities I admire most. She is steadfast, resilient and loyal. She survives with her ideals intact while doing what she needs to do to feed her family and help her community. As Depression begins to ease, Molly leaves behind what might have been and lands her dream job as a reporter. Then war breaks out and Molly is once again on the brink of loosing those closest to her.
As a Jewish man, Max Dreyfus is well acquainted with racism. As Hitler’s hateful fanaticism reaches Canadian shores, he can’t stay silent, he must step up and do something. After the Christie Pits Riot, Max leaves Toronto and Molly behind to become a doctor. Max is as steadfast and loyal as Molly. He’s also a kind, compassionate, and strives to do the right thing. Which I think are admirable qualities in a hero.
When Max returns home, his experience in the horrific Battle of Hong Kong and as a returning prisoner of war brings him into contact with Molly, who is determined to tell the stories of returning prisoners of war from Hong Kong. The past catches up with both of them and they are forced to confront it.
Letters Across the Sea is emotional and compelling. The characters are strong and well-developed. The plot grabs your attention and keeps it. The pacing is perfect. The romance sweet. Highly recommend.
Genevieve Graham has a new book out this April.
Until next time…
Who else enjoys Genevieve Graham’s books? Or drop a note in the comments and tell me what you’re reading?
I had never heard the term depth year before this week. Anyone else? Or is it just me?
“You take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need. No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.”
A couple of reasons why 2022 is a good year for a depth year:
1) I love a good challenge and to shake things up.
2) I want to simplify and to be less of a consumer.
3) It feels like I’ve already started the process though I haven’t been calling it a depth year.
There is nothing like having to pack up your possessions then unpack them again to make you realize you have way too much stuff. The real eye opener was that fact that I hardly missed any of it while it was tucked away in boxes. Check out this article: 7 Reasons We Buy More Stuff Then We Need. I did a major purge while packing up. I’ve done another purge while unpacking. I have a plan for the items I’m donating. Does anyone else tend to set these aside and purposely forget about them so you don’t have to deal with them? Or is it just me?
Time to start fresh and use the things I own. I bought them with the best of intentions. Something about the items appealed to me. But there is a double cost to most things we buy. One is the initial price. The second is a cost I don’t really think much about and that is the time it takes to put the item to use. In some instances, learning to use it takes time and practice and money. In others, it’s taking something you had a passing fancy in and then realizing the experience wasn’t one you’re invested in.
I think craft supplies is the place to start for me. I love them, or perhaps I should say I love the idea of them. All the colours. Textures. Sizes. Shapes. So many possibilities and I’m a creative person. And who didn’t overindulge in the buying department these last couple of years? Waves hand in the air!
But where to start and how to keep my goal small enough as not to be overwhelming. My answer: an art journal. Which I had started and abandoned. It’s an excellent no stress way to incorporate all kinds of mediums. And to work on my word of the year, Dream.
So, once a week I’m going to work on a page in my art journal. It will be interesting and once the weather is warm enough I can take it outside. Time to get inspired and do some dreaming. It promises to be loads of fun.
Until next time…
Anyone else art journal? Or thought the idea sounded good but haven’t started yet? Maybe some of you are attempting, or have attempted, a depth year? What are your thoughts?
Every December I pick a word for the upcoming year. Except for 2021, which I skipped. Which likely explains my choice for 2022. DREAM. Of possibilities. Both fantastical and ordinary. Chasing the dream, not in a busy, get it done kind of way, but a whimsical exploration. To play and paint and stargaze. Purely for the joy and entertainment of it all.
This is me on a long ago trip to Vancouver gazing out over the water while on a dinner cruise. Can staring off into space considered a hobby? If so, it’s a favourite of mine. Always dreaming up stories.
The longer this pandemic drags on, the harder it is to take time away from the overwhelming amount of statistics, the constant updates, the frustration, and the worry. Now it’s winter and getting through the next couple of months seems rather a daunting task. There’s not much I can do about the pandemic, other than getting my booster, washing my hands, social distancing, and wearing my mask, or the long winter months ahead, but I can dream. I can add joy and playfulness into each day.
Somewhere along the way play turns into something immature and unwelcome as we get older. But 2022 is going to be my time to practice taking a break from reality, to remember to play and laugh. I will remember it’s okay to be silly for a few minutes each day and that adults need recess, too.
Let your imagination go. What is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but didn’t pursue? Be aware of your energy levels. We’re all drained right now. It’s okay to start small. Be an amateur. Make mistakes. Try something new. Rekindle an old hobby. Do what’s right for you.
It can focus on creativity, like crafting, doodling, knitting. Maybe exercise is your fun thing. Seriously, the belly dancing class I took way back when was a complete hoot. Go for a hike. Try pickle ball. Maybe self examination brings you joy. I know it does to me: journaling, yoga, meditation. Music is key for a lot of people. Try karaoke, or learn a new instrument, take a voice class (even if you think you can’t sing). Socialize. It doesn’t have to be a big group. Maybe it’s scheduling date night. Go axe throwing. Take in a dance class. Go to a poetry reading. But keep it safe.
Make it Happen:
Clear your schedule. Set aside a block of time, big or small, to be silly and have some fun.
Turn off your phone, TV, and other devices. You can do it.
Give yourself permission to do whatever you want. This is your time to dance like no one’s watching. Or to be still and sit and dream.
Until next time…
Live laugh play. Here’s to a playful 2022! What do you do to take a break from life?