It’s -39 C with the windchill today. Enough said. But also, why is February both the shortest and longest month of the year? In a world focused on productivity and hustle, it’s challenging to make space dedicated to rest and recovery and wintering. So, I made a fun little list of things to do. Take that, February.
My Three Favourite Podcasts of the Moment:
Maintenance Phase with Aubrey Jordan and Michael Hobbes. Wellness and weight loss, debunked and decoded.
I Love It But I Hate It with Kat Angus and Jocelyn Geddie. Hateful optimists and loving pessimists Kat Angus and Jocelyn Geddie break down movies and TV shows that they totally despise… but also really adore at the same time.
Fated Mates with Sarah MacLean and Jen from Jen Reads Romance. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming.
If you’re are curious, have a listen. They’re all so good. And I promise you will laugh and who doesn’t need a laugh in February.
Does it make sense to say the days were long but the month flew by? I’ve been in hibernation mode, or wintering, for most of this month. I baked a couple of things, I read a couple of books and I revised a couple of scenes.
I will say that this January had to have been very pretty, a real winter wonderland. We have had lots of fog here, which is a departure from the norm, which resulted in rime frost.
Book Round Up:
I finished Eden Robinson‘s Trickster trilogy. I loved this book and this trilogy. Eden Robinson’s way of weaving carnage and humour makes for an epic read. The final instalment, Return of the Trickster, was a page turner full of magical realism, complicated intergenerational family dynamics and rich storytelling. So much happening. So many characters. Yet, manageable, if that make sense. And Jared. I kept rooting for him. Kept hoping he’d remain tender-hearted while he figured out how to survive all the time supported by a fabulous cast of fierce female characters.
I also read a book by a dear writer friend, Donna Gartshore. Finding Her Voice is a lovely, tenderhearted story of what it looks like to move forward from trauma. They’re both looking for a fresh start while keeping up the walls that have protected them after life dealt bitter hurts. They both have plans for the clinic where Bridget work and both are at cross purposes. But when Sawyer’s grief stricken daughter bonds with Bridget’s shy dog, they have to look deep to take the next step. Sweet, charming, and set in the lovely town of Green Valley, Finding Her Voice will tug at your heartstrings and have you rooting for Bridget and Sawyer.
And my book recommendation for January is Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn, who is one of my favourite authors and you can read my review here.
Baking Round Up:
I made my favourite muffin recipe, Blueberry Turmeric Muffins from Renee Kohlman’s lovely cookbook, All The Sweet Things. You can find her blog, Sweet Sugar Bean here. If you love cookbooks, Renee Kohlman’s two cookbooks are beautiful and include personal stories and I highly recommend buying either of the them. Bonus she’s from Saskatchewan!
So long, September! It’s been an absolute pleasure. I baked, like a lot, which is strange for me. But I really enjoyed it. From biscotti to a plum almond cake to peach streusel muffins. Everything turned out as it should and was delicious. This is not always the case when I bake so maybe it’s a sign I should continue. Maybe it’s all those episodes of The Great British Baking Show that I watched.
One of the things I don’t talk a lot about is fashion. Not because I’m not interested in clothes. I’ve spent the last years creating a sustainable, ethical wardrobe that meets my budget and is functional. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s come a long way from the days I had a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. These days I love the things in my closet. Some of them are new, some of them are old (and mended), and some of them are thrifted.
A lot of it comes from Canadian, female owned, small businesses. The dress in the upper lefthand corner is from Buttercream, one of my favourites. Buttercream fits my need for casual apparel and is budget friendly. I wore this dress to a baby shower for my son and daughter-in-law. That’s right, I’m going to be a grandmother for the second time. Very excited!
However, once in a while I splurge. Because sustainable and ethical fashion usually means expensive. The sweater in the upper righthand corner is new and from an American company called Able. I don’t usually order clothes from the US, because of the exchange rates, the shipping costs and the duty and taxes. But this sweater filled a hole in my closet and I couldn’t resist. Hello sweatha weatha!
Meanwhile, it still looks like summer in my yard and in our favourite park. There are rumours going around that this winer is going to be harsh. As in COLD. Like colder than our regular cold, which is plenty cold enough. Looking forward to enjoying the short fall prairie season with it’s crisp mornings, cozy evenings and pretty leaves.
Until next time…
What does fall look like in your neck of the woods?
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?
The sun is setting earlier and rising later. Kind of like me. I love Octobers, especially if they are as beautiful and warm as this month has been. October also gives me an excuse to use one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
We’re thinking of cancelling of our cable television package and are experimenting with streaming our favourite shows, which are few and far between these days. Like, good grief, another NCIS show? How do we feel about the return of CSI: Las Vegas? How is Survivor still on the air? Anyone else feeling like there’s nothing to watch on TV? Or am I in a funk? A deep, deep funk. Admittedly, that due to this never ending pandemic. But still…
There are a few bright spots, of course. I’m liking La Brea. Still enjoying The Rookie and The Equalizer. And Bob Hearts Abishola is always a delight. There’s also some great Canadian programming out there right now. And it doesn’t get enough attention.
Family Law is my new favourite television program this fall. Family dysfunction at its best. And who doesn’t love Victor Garber. The series is part legal procedural, part family dramedy, created by Susin Nielsen. It’s family dysfunction at its best and the chemistry between the characters is fabulous. I was fortunate enough to meet Susin Nielsen at The Saskatchewan Festival of Words in 2019. The talent that comes to this festival is off the charts. I highly recommend attending. And I definitely recommend Nielsen’s books!
For when you need a laugh. Jann Arden is not scared to poke fun at herself. On the show, she plays an unapologetic, self-centred, aging singer songwriter who’s career is on the cusp of obscurity. It’s so funny. And poignant. And she’s surrounded by a super talented cast.
What I’m reading:
Print: Gutter Child by Jael Richardson. A dystopian story about a girl who must overcome the dictates of a harsh regime and find a life and freedom.
Audio: A Treacherous Curse: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery, Book 3, written by Deanna Raybourn and narrated by Angele Masters. Still loving this series! Both the story and the narrator. Also, waiting for these two to finally sleep together is killing me.
Until next time…
What’s everyone watching these days? Any new shows you would recommend? Any favourite old shows you rewatch? I need suggestions!
When it comes to creating a character’s personal style it’s not only fun but necessary to use imagery to emphasize personality. Style is a very visual representation of a character’s personality. Just as a character’s style can change to enhance the advancement of their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.
Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes and having those clothes be appropriate to the story and setting, there is something to be learned from costume designers who provide that imagery in movies and on television. There are incredible examples of costuming in television right now and I have a couple of absolute favourites.
Did anyone else binge watch Bridgerton on Netflix as soon as possible? It’s so lavish and decadent and the costuming is an incredible example of what it takes to build a swoon-worthy period drama for television. Lord have mercy, this show!
Bridgerton features approximately 7,500 costume pieces!
The Netflix series Bridgerton costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, explained to Vogue that “each family and character tells a story through their clothes. Given the sheer number of people on camera, the Bridgerton costume department had to create elaborate outfits complete with headpieces and gloves. Quickly numbering in the thousands, the show had an entire warehouse dedicated to wardrobe and 238 people in the costume department.”
She also explained why we didn’t see bonnets and the linen dresses authentic to the time period and why the costumes are a contemporary nod to the regency era. I love the fresh approach, the diversity, and the entertaining and witty nod to women in positions of power in an era that worked hard to restrict the advancement of women.
My second favourite is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. When is the next season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel coming? We need you Midge!
It’s funny, it’s profane, the clothes in this show. Are. The. Best. And how can we not love Midge as she pursues her passion in spite of overwhelming odds.
“Why do women have to pretend to be something that they’re not? Why do we have to pretend to be stupid when we’re not stupid? Why do we have to pretend to be helpless when we’re not helpless? Why do we have to pretend to be sorry when we have nothing to be sorry about? Why do we have to pretend we’re not hungry when we’re hungry?” – Midge Maisel
Donna Zakowska, costumer designer for The Marvelous Mrs. Masiel who’s stunning way with colour says, “These sort of elements really assert the character’s personality. In a way, Midge is a character that never gives in, even if something terrible is going on. It’s always about putting your best foot forward and an optimism that runs in the character.”
I love Midge’s undaunted spirit and her need to speak her mind, to be heard, and stubborn when confronted with a world that means to keep her inside the box it designated for her. And her clothes tell that story. The colour she wears as she goes about her daily life and the black dresses and pearls she wears on stage when she performs her stream of consciousness comedy act. It is, indeed, marvelous.
“I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like.” Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer
It’s something to think about when creating characters and that it can be much more than adding in interesting bits and quirks. We need to think about style in terms of character development. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually a character’s evolution is not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Nor is usually as lavish as in Bridgerton or as bold as in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But using subtle changes can make an impact, too.
Do you love a certain TV character’s style? Have a favorite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?
It doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. It can just be pleasurable.
There should be no guilt attached to the things we choose to enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I need things like books and cupcakes and new shoes to balance groceries, laundry, work, and worrying about my kids. We’ve had more extreme cold warnings this winter then I can remember and the coldest temperatures in 80 years. Our daughter-in-law brought over cinnamon buns last weekend. I ate two. I’m not sorry. I enjoyed every delicious bite.
Also, books! Reading is a pleasure for me, as it is for a lot of people. We should be allowed to read anything we wish. We shouldn’t have to apologize for our reading choices. We shouldn’t be made to feel like we have to publicly reject the books we enjoy in private. The literary police can take a hike.
Books should be accessible, and in most instances they are. They are found in libraries, schools, bookstores, online, and a variety of other places. We can read paper books or ebooks. We can listen to audiobooks. We can stick to one type of book or enjoy a variety of stories. We can read memoirs or cookbooks, or DIY manuals. Newspapers. Periodicals. Magazines. But what we want to read must be available to us. The offerings must be there so we can pick and choose. No one has the right to restrict the access of books to others.
My Top Five Guilt-Free Pleasures!
Colouring my hair. Because I love my blonde hair.
My 80s playlist. Including but not limited to REO Speedwagon, Quiet Riot, Chicago, Laura Branigan, and .38 Special.
Watching Forged in Fire. Because modern-day blacksmiths making knives and swords is awesome.
Shoes. Do I really need to explain this one…
Keenau Reeves. Because Speed is the best movie ever made.
Not only is November Peanut Butter Lovers month, it’s also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Where writers far and wide pledge to write 50,000 words in November. My romantic suspense, EXPOSED, got its start during NaNoWriMo.
Having done it once, I might try it again some far off November with a well-planned out idea, but I’m not sure that kind of intense push to create only new material without going back and making sure I’m on the right track (in other words, edit as I go) works for me. Not that I don’t do that when I’m in the zone, but that window of time doesn’t generally last for thirty days in a row. Kudos to those for whom the process works, as other writers have been very successful with their efforts and many novels have been birthed in November.
Three Books I’ve Read (And One I Want To Read) That Were NaNoWriMo Success Stories!
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My Quote Of The Month. I’m channelling it as I write a proposal for a new book.
Until next time…
By the way the one book I mentioned that I haven’t read is Fangirl, but I’ve read Eleanor and Park and loved it. Anyone else read any of the books I mentioned?
Monday was National Tell a Fairy Tale Day and I’ll let you in on a not so little secret, Beauty And The Beast is my favourite fairy tale. Or, more accurately, the more modern Disneyfied version of La Belle et La Bete written in the 18th century by French novelist Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve is my favourite fairy tale.
La Belle et La Bete VS Beauty and the Beast
One would assume the older version of the fairy tale would be the more gruesome and deadly. Surprisingly, it’s not. While the theme of learning to love, irregardless of appearances, is at the center of both tales, in the original the Beast is not being punished for a wrongdoing, he is the victim of an injustice. He refuses to marry his governess, an old and wrinkled evil fairy. so she curses him. A good fairy intervenes and promises a reversal of the evil spell if he can find someone to love his beastly self. She also camouflages the castle in a fog and puts everyone to sleep. Or turns them to stone, I can’t remember.
Also, there is no deadline in the original fairy tale. No fading rose. But a rose does cause problems in the original, as Belle’s father picks one for her from the Beast’s garden, to which the Beast takes great exception.
There is no Gaston, no Le Fou, no singing servants in the 18th century version. But there are costumed monkeys and birds. And, of course, both versions of the fairy tale include a courtship (with notable differences), and Belle does leave to visit her family in both versions. The Beast’s curse is broken in each and the handsome prince once again has his looks. But where the Disney version ends, the original has more to it. Mainly, a nasty mother-in-law who’s not impressed with her new daughter’s-in-law less than noble standing and a plot twist worthy of The Sixth Sense.