It’s Valentine’s Day and last year I wrote a post (link here) about why I’m okay with Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any to talk about love because every day is a good day to talk about love. But, what is love, really? It’s lots of things and it’s about describing how you feel about lots of things. It’s about falling in love with a person or your first-born child. It’s about loving something inanimate like your first home. It’s about forgiving people and accepting them for who they are, and that, to me, is the most important part.
The title of this post comes from my Dad, who, since I’ve become a parent, has repeated to me: ‘always with love’. By this, he refers to how I parent, discipline, guide, and teach my kids things. It’s so hard to be patient, to forgive the things your kids say to you or about you. It’s so hard to punish or tell a child you don’t approve of what they’re doing, nicely. But, that’s what you have to do, and, to do it properly, you have to do it with love.
‘Always with love’ means that you don’t speak until you’ve figured out the nicest, most constructive way to say something. As someone who’s extroverted and talks a lot, my mouth talks way faster than my brain thinks sometimes. And, that’s not good when you’re a parent who wants to have the best impact in the little time you have to say something, especially when we’re talking about teens. One of my dear friends has taught me one magical phrase that works really well. She recommends starting a sentence with ‘I wonder…’ This is such a great way to start a sentence because it’s not judgmental, accusatory, or demanding. I love it and I try to use it as much as I can. It’s also a kinder way to get a conversation started, and fits perfectly with the ‘always with love’ approach. It’s just a softer way to start a conversation.
I’ve been parenting for a while now and I’m still learning. But, the greatest ‘a-ha’ moment for me has come recently when I realized that the best thing I can do is to show someone that I love them. That sounds so obvious, but, like I said, when you’re parenting, you sometimes think being tough is the way to go and sometimes that concept comes at the expense of love because you think the two can’t go together. They can, it’s about how you approach things, your attitude, and the end goal, which is to have a close, loving relationship with someone.
So, I leave you with excerpts from one of my favorite Bible passages, from Corinthians, that my Dad chose for our wedding. I’m sure this is the basis for his phrase ‘always with love’ and I’m glad he’s always reminding me about it:
‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the giftofprophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’
It’s been a relatively mild winter in Toronto this year, which means it’s been an interesting season for wearing winter boots.
If you don’t live in a very cold and snowy climate, then you might not understand that one usually has an assortment of winter boots. For example, you have your ‘snow’ boots, which are higher, warmer, waterproof, and come with a tread sole. You need snow boots for when it’s snowing, when you’re shovelling snow, and when you have to walk on the snow-covered sidewalks, streets, or ravine paths.
But, when it’s cold and dry and the sidewalks aren’t snow-covered, your boot options are practically endless. Translation: you can wear fashion boots! This means the boot can have a smooth sole, be made out of suede or leather, and be as impractical as you want. This is where my obsession for Chelsea boots comes in.
The Chelsea boot is an ankle high boot with elastic side panels, as well as a tab on the back of the boot for easy wear. According to Wikipedia, Chelsea boots were patented by Queen Victoria’s shoemaker in 1851, and meant to be a practical shoe. The boots became known as Chelsea boots in the 1950s and 60s when they were popular in the Chelsea part of London. The Beatles and many rock stars have worn them.
Over the years, I’ve owned a few pairs of Chelsea boots, especially as rain boots. The elastic side panels make it easy to put the boots on and off and the ankle height means they’re easy to wear with pants or jeans. This year, I bought two pairs of everyday Chelsea boots, with a thick, tread sole. They’re the same style because I fell in love with the boots and asked the store to make me another pair in another color. Yup, that happened.
The Chelsea boots in these photos are comfortable and so easy to slip on and off. They’re sleek and form-fitting. They have a wing-tip detail as well as a patent, smooth, and suede leather mix. I love the thick sole because I feel secure in the mild winter weather, even when it snows. They’re almost the only boots I’ve been wearing these days.
Chelsea boots come in all kinds of heel heights, materials, colors, soles, and styles. The popular Blundstones are a sturdy, casual style. Other than with jeans, the more ‘casual chic’ and dressier Chelsea boots can be worn with suits, skirts, and dresses. I’m usually in denim, so I go for the casual look most days.
Here are a few examples of the wide variety of Chelsea boots that you can wear all year round.
Marc Jacobs at shopbop.com
Blundstone at amazon.ca
Hunter Boot, Nordstrom.com
Let me know what you think of Chelsea boots, and, fingers crossed, I hope I haven’t jinxed our mild-ish winter!
It’s the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, and, in Toronto, it’s been an interesting one. One week, it’s below zero, and the next two weeks it’s mild, rainy, and cloudy. I’m not one to complain about warmer temps in the winter, so I’m good. One of the ways to enjoy the winter months is to surround yourself with beautiful things, like flowers!
The pants in this post are so much fun because they’re winter pants with sedate flower patterns, giving one a little pick-me-up this time of year. Every time I’ve worn these pants, I get unsolicited compliments. That’s my favorite kind of compliment!
Floral designs on clothing are usually associated with warmer weather, but they don’t have to be. The fall and winter runways and stores showcased florals everywhere. And, they’re a big trend for spring.
These poly-knit stretch trouser pants are black, with navy and burgundy flowers and dark mustard accents. If you know me, you know I don’t wear black much at all, but the navy in these pants made it easy. That’s because I already own navy accessories, handbags, and shoes! To keep things light, I chose a grey sweater and added a navy handbag and boots. With the pants being the center of attention, it’s easy to find a top because a plain colored sweater or blouse would match. Pretty simple.
What do you think? Do you like and wear floral pieces in the winter?
I’ve linked a few items here, in case you’d like to try the trend:
Do you have an electric or hybrid car? Have you ever thought about owning an electric car? My family doesn’t own one, but after recently test driving the Chevrolet Volt, I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to seriously think about the perks of owning an electric car.
We’re in a car industry revolution now, like it or not. The rules of the game in vehicle technology and how we think about transportation in general have changed significantly over the last few years.
Not only do we have connected cars, but automated or self-driving cars are here, with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers forecasting 75% of cars on the road will be automated by 2040. And, electric cars are becoming easier and more economical to own, in part due to advances in clean energy, increased battery life, and wider availability of charging stations in buildings and malls.
Given all of these exciting advancements, my husband and I were definitely interested in test-driving the latest Chevrolet Volt at Hogan Chevrolet, in Scarborough, Ontario.
We test drove the Volt Premier which operates with elements of automated technology such as Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Keep Assist. These are fancy ways of saying that the car’s technology is scanning the area for potential accidents, which made us feel safer. We actually liked the red lights in the side mirrors checking our blind spot and helping us switch lanes safely.
Driving and Pricing the Chevrolet Volt
Although our drive was on a typical snowy Canadian day, we felt it was ideal for testing the Volt’s performance.
The first thing we noticed is that the Volt’s beautiful blue color added to its compact, sleek look. When we got in, we felt like we were in a sports car because the car was somewhat low to the ground. With the engine on, the Volt is very quiet and you wonder if it’s running. The dashboard is actually a screen with very cool graphics, like a top-down view of the electric motor, and information about which energy source is being used to run the car. I could see myself wanting to keep the energy source electric at all times!
In terms of acceleration, the Chevy Volt was responsive, fast, and performed like a gas-powered car. You could’t tell it was an electric car, even at over 100 kms/hr on the highway!
The Volt took corners comfortably and we were impressed with how quickly and smoothly the brakes reacted on the snowy road surfaces. The car handled well and we felt in control, especially given the wet weather. Our very patient and knowledgeable salesman, Paul, explained that part of the appeal of the Volt is the regenerative braking which recharges the battery as you brake.
The interior of the car felt roomy, especially in front. The back seats are okay but only seat two people comfortably because the middle seat requires the third person to straddle the battery cover. I was very impressed with how spacious the trunk is and the two back seats fold down for more room.
The Volt Premier has an MSRP of C$42,490. With government incentives, the price is closer to $34,000 – higher than the average compact car. Our salesman told us that the cost to run the Volt on electric charge is about $30 a month. So, there are big savings. We currently spend about $3500 a year on gas, 10 times more than the electric running cost. You must factor this in when making a decision to purchase an electric car!
The Chevrolet Volt Customer
The Volt is a bought car. Buyers have done their homework and thought about their driving and charging needs carefully. You need an outlet to charge the battery, so you need to live in a house or an equipped building. You also need to consider your daily driving needs. If you want to keep your drive electric, your daily round trip should be kept to 85 kms unless you’re headed to a place with a charging station.
What about a long trip or getting your Volt from one local electric driving area to another? With a total range of 672 kms, you could, under ideal driving conditions, take the Volt between Toronto and Montreal, without recharging, thanks to the gas-powered generator. That’s amazing. Purely electric cars just don’t have that range yet.
The best part of our test drive came at the end of our visit when a customer who already owned two Volts came over to tell us how much he and his daughter loved them. By the way, I just want to say here that we got the impression that customers were like family at Hogan because everyone seemed so friendly and wanted to talk! Anyway, this gentleman especially liked the low charging costs as well as the fewer gas station visits. He also drove his car regularly to the cottage, explaining that, even if the gas powered generator kicked in on the way to the cottage, once he reached his destination and charger, local trips would be back to electric power.
Owning a Chevy Volt gave this customer pride of being part of an environmentally conscious community. There’s a non-profit organization called Plug ‘N Drive that helps customers set up their charging station at home and educates the public about the electric car industry. And, resources like the PlugShare app locate nearby charging stations.
The Bottom Line on the Chevrolet Volt
After this test drive, would I buy an electric car? Absolutely. The no-compromise handling, advanced features, and quiet operation of the Volt make it very attractive. An electric car would suit our needs as we are city drivers, 99% of the time.
The best part about owning an electric car, other than the $3200 I would save on gas, is being part of an environmentally savvy group of like-minded people who are proud to add new meaning to the concept of driving responsibly.
Our Chevrolet Volt test drive opened our eyes and mind to a new way of looking at transportation in general, and electric cars in particular. These are exciting times for the car industry, and I think we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of options, savings, and social responsibility!
This post was created in partnership with the friendly staff and customers at Hogan Chevrolet, but, as always, all opinions are my own. (Photos are taken from chevrolet.ca unless otherwise indicated.)
I thought I’d write a quick post on Joe Fresh, a clothing retail store founded in 2006 in Canada. If you’re not familiar with Joe, let me place it for you. Joe Fresh stores are smaller than H&M and Uniqlo, but generally in the same price range and offerings, with Joe showing more collections per season.
I’ve been a bit obsessed with Joe lately because I scored a few great deals over the holidays and every time I wear them, I get lots of compliments.
So, I guess you could say that it’s convenient that there’s a Joe Fresh within a few kilometres of my house! A lot of the stores are located within or right next to Loblaw’s grocery stores in Ontario. This means you could be shopping for food when you come across the Joe Fresh section of the store, say, somewhere between the laundry detergent and canned goods. You take a peek at the seasonal clothing and you end up buying a new t-shirt for about $10. This isn’t a big purchase, doesn’t need a lot of thought, and doesn’t come with much guilt.
And, that’s the idea behind Joe Fresh: treat yourself to something fun, fashionable, and affordable! Since its inception, Joe Fresh has grown to over 350 Canadian stores, plus a store in New York City, some in Mexico, and some in the Gulf states.
This past holiday season, I ended up buying a 100% cashmere crewneck pullover that was half price. I had first seen the sweater on Miranda Kerr, who was featured in Elle Canada magazine, as Joe Fresh’s face for the 2016 fall and holiday campaigns. When I went in to the store on Black Friday, the sales had begun and I got sucked in to looking around, not that it takes much to keep me in the store! Continue reading →
How do you feel about a new year? How do you feel about making New Year’s Resolutions? If you made any last year, did you keep them? Do you set New Year’s Goals as well?
To quickly answer these questions: I find new years and new beginnings to be generally exciting and hopeful. I’m okay with making some New Year’s Resolutions and managed to keep most of mine from 2016. As for New Year’s Goals, I think they’re as important as resolutions. When I asked my family if they thought there was a difference, we all agreed that resolutions are more like daily habits we want to work on while goals are longer term items we work towards that can be measured and tracked. (If you want to read more about setting goals, you can check out this link to the Mind Tools website.)
As I look back on 2016, I would say that I had a great year, for which I feel lucky given the many terrorist attacks and tragedies we saw. I traveled more than ever, which is a big deal for me as I overcame a lot of anxiety over traveling by plane. I caught up with more family and friends than ever, and I’m so happy about being in touch with them more regularly, thanks to social media and long distance conversations over the phone or WhatsApp. And, I got to spend time blogging, connecting with new people, and learning a lot about freelance writing.
I wrote about the resolutions I made for 2016 in a post you can read here. The 5 New Year’s Resolutions I set were:
For the past few years, I’ve hosted a holiday luncheon for about 40-50 people, kids included. It’s the one big party I have every year to invite the people that have included us in their family celebrations throughout the year and that we see on a regular basis.
The first year or two, the party planning was stressful, mainly because I wasn’t equipped with all of the plates, cutlery, serving dishes, chafing dishes, and coffee maker that I needed and I wasn’t sure about the timing of getting things done. Recently, though, I’ve figured out how to make it as stress-free as possible and I can say that this year’s party was the easiest. It only took 5 years, but that’s okay! If you’re considering hosting some form of holiday party, I hope some of these tips will help:
Tip 1: Give as much notice of the party as possible. I try to give the guests about 3-4 weeks’ notice. Because I hold the party at least 3 weeks before Christmas, most of the guests are still ‘free’ and not caught up in the holiday shopping or other parties. It’s also a fun way for you and the guests to ease into the holiday season.
Tip 2: Start cleaning out the freezer and fridge two weeks before the party. Go through the fridge and freezer and make a mental note of what you can use in the next week or two and toss what is expired. Start buying fewer perishable items like fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, so that your fridge remains clean and empty. Cook meals that won’t have too many leftovers. And, consider ordering in or eating out for the last two days before the party… bonus for you and the husband and kids!
Tip 3: Bake ahead. Sounds easy enough, but this means that your freezer, from the tip one above, has been cleared out and can handle all of the desserts you are making ahead and freezing. It also means you have made a list of the desserts you are planning on making and that you have on hand storage containers, plastic wrap, waxed paper, and all of the required baking ingredients. Start baking two weeks ahead so the last week can be spent on prepping the house and buying fresh food for the party. Continue reading →
Have you noticed all the patches on clothing these days? I love how colorful and fun they are and how much they remind me of when I was a Girl Scout working hard on collecting all of those badges. Nostalgia aside, we’re talking about patches, not badges, here.
So, what’s the difference between a badge and a patch? According to one Girl Scout website, badges are given for completing competencies while patches are given for more fun activities. Good to know. The fashion houses and stores are therefore supplying us with patch inspiration. It’s the combinations, colors, sizes, textures, and messages that appeal to us.
In researching this post, I came across a great website called Asilda Store. Founded by LA-based photographer Anastasia Petukhova, this website sells patches and has a great blog that covers the history of patches as well as other useful information. For example, there’s a post on how patches are designed and one on how to sew or iron patches on. And, there’s one on the history of patches.
Apart from the obvious beginning of using colorful patches to mend ripped jeans, the Asilda Store post traces the history of patches from the ’70s when peace, love, and happiness were the themes, to the ’80s when the punk movement took place. This year in particular, many designers have added patches to their clothing or handbags. It’s not surprising to see this trend resurface and likely be with us for a while. In a way, these patches are like the emojis we use in texting and communicating – but they are on our clothing and accessories.
Lug-soled fashion shoes have been around for the last couple of years and for good reason: they’re sturdy, comfortable, and now come in many styles and options. According to The Free Dictionary, a lug sole is a thick rubber sole with deep indentations that improve the stability and traction of utility footwear such as work boots’. Lug soles are common on hiking boots and other utility shoes but are a big part of the fashion scene now. You can find them on dressy as well as casual shoes, from boots to ballet flats.
I only recently jumped on this trend because I’ve seen them in all the shoe stores and they looked comfortable as well as fashionable. Not something I would normally wear, I decided to try these lug-soled shoes to add a little glamour to my favorite jean outfits. They’re growing on me! I’d also wear these with tights and a skirt or a dress, and I’d wear them with a dressy pant.
The lug-soled pair in this post is made of lightweight rubber, is very easy to wear, and puts a fun twist on a classic leather wing-tip loafer. With the fringe and buckle, it’s a bit dressy and feminine. From above, they look like a regular shoe, but the lug soles extend the perimeter of the shoe just a bit and give it a casual flare. The indentations in the sole provide traction and security when walking. And, the heel is graduated slightly to give an element of ‘high-heeled’ fashion – perfect for me because I’m petite. Continue reading →
With all due respect to Tom Hanks’ character in A League of Their Own, the fictionalized movie about the All-American Girls Professional League, and the infamous line ‘There’s no crying in baseball’, I’m here to tell you: there IS crying in baseball – and that’s okay.
I’m talking about the kind of crying on players’ faces as they realize what it means to become World Series Champs. The kind of crying by loyal fans because ‘fairweather fan’ doesn’t apply when 1908 is the last time your team won. And, the kind of crying that overcomes you at home as you watch the players’ own emotions become your own.
Let me stop right here with the baseball jargon, because I’m in no way qualified to talk baseball with any authority. Rather, I’m a fan who appreciates what baseball teaches me about life and how I weave these lessons into my parenting.
I fell in love with baseball in elementary school, when I had a crush on a boy in my class. It’s that simple. Thankfully, my two brothers played baseball, providing the perfect cover for showing up at games. Over time, I cheered on the teams, kept the score on the old-fashioned wooden scoreboards, and even sat in the announcer’s booths in my small hometown. I learned the rules and saw up-close the upsets and triumphs of the players, the teams, and the parents who so badly wanted their sons to excel at baseball.
Today, my love for baseball means cheering my girls on in softball games and taking them to watch the Toronto Blue Jays. I love what the game teaches my kids about life. And, the World Series last night did not disappoint. Here’s what I’ve observed. Continue reading →