I love to read all year round, but especially in the summertime ! There is nothing more peaceful for me than reading outside on a sunny, warm day or evening. It’s how I self-care, and it’s how I relax.
Here are my quick reviews of some of the books I read this summer.
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Salt Houses hit close to home as it is set in the Middle East. It follows four generations of the Yacoub family as they are forced out of Palestine and into neighboring countries such as Kuwait and Lebanon. We follow the family’s experience during defining moments of Arab history starting in the 1960s. And, as happens in many Arab families, various members end up living all over the world, including Paris and Boston.
Each generation faces challenges, including political and religious leanings, as well as family and relationship struggles.
I loved this book because I could identify with the emotions of having to leave one’s home and country and having to find one’s way in the world while still struggling with growing up, day-to-day issues, and living within cultural expectations. Continue reading →
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been bittersweet celebrating my daughter’s graduation from high school, but we’ve done our best to celebrate in many ways, including making as many sweet treats as possible!
We love dessert in our family and, yes, we understand the need to balance healthy food with yummy treats. But, what I”m sharing today is purely sugar based! The best part about making these celebratory desserts was searching for some of the ideas, choosing a theme (pink and blue), and decorating the house.
We received a lawn banner from the school and bought and received balloons as gifts. We decorated inside with balloons, garland, and streamers on archways in the house. And, one night I spent quite a bit of time going through old photos of the first day of school, group school photos, and other fun school and family moments. I put these on poster boards in the hallway and put up a long ‘congratulations’ banner underneath the boards. She absolutely loved this idea and the photos and boards are still up!
We were still in the ‘shelter at home’ phase when my daughter had her virtual graduation, so it was a nuclear family celebration. My daughter helped me make and decorate these dessert menu items, and we had a lot of fun decorating and catching up together.
Do you believe in angels? I definitely do, because I recently met one in London Heathrow’s Terminal 2.
Here’s how it happened.
In late September, I was transiting in London Heathrow, en route from Beirut to Toronto. I had just spent two weeks visiting family and friends in the beautiful mountain villages of Lebanon — something I hadn’t done in a couple of summers.
The Lebanon trip was my second in 6 months, and it was a trip with a purpose: my brother and his wife had just had preemie twins and I wanted to see the babies and lend any support given the babies would be in the neo-natal intensive care unit for the foreseeable future. My mother had fractured her back and had been going through a hard time. And, selfishly, I wanted to visit during warmer months of the year, versus my annual trip in March.
Because I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and because my biggest trigger is travel-related, this long trip from Canada takes a lot out of me and it takes a lot of preparation on my part. I see my family doctor and my therapist regularly before I leave. I visit with our priest. I watch the news like a hawk, assessing the political and economic situation in Lebanon and supplementing my understanding by consulting family members who are closer to the action.
I recently attended a blogger/media event on Psoriasis, hosted by AbbVie. As a blogger, I get invited to various and varied events throughout the year, and this event, called #KnowPsO, was extremely informative.
First, I should say that I am not a medical expert, so these comments are from the material we received and what I observed. Second, this event is still on my mind. It opened up how I’m thinking about my health and how important it is to listen to and treat your body.
I didn’t know much about psoriasis prior to the event because I don’t have it as far as I know, but I have heard of people living with it.
We had Dr Melinda Gooderham, a dermatologist at The Skin Laser Clinic , talk to us about the impact of proriasis on those suffering from the disease. She spoke about someone who didn’t want to go on a beach vacation because of it. She spoke about how psoriasis can show up in different forms in your body. And, she spoke about treatments that are available and the importance of speaking with your doctor.
With a week until Christmas and Hanukkah, here are my 2019 Gift Guide and Ideas. I tried to keep it simple, economical, and include something for everyone on your list – and, I’ve included a few experiences. The guide is not in any particular order or for any particular age, rather it’s meant to inspire you through a bunch of suggested categories for you to consider! Don’t forget to check out my post from last year where I talked about my best holiday shopping tips, here.
With my daughter away at university, I’m enjoying putting together care packages for her, especially around the holidays. Ten days ago I sent her a Christmas-themed one. I thought I would share the contents of the care package I sent as well as some tips for putting one together. You may be inspired to create one as a Christmas mailing to anyone on your list who lives far away and won’t be home for the holidays!
This is the first year that my daughter is living in a house (vs in a dorm), so she has more space for decorations, and she has more people for sharing things with. She enjoyed the Halloween care package I sent, so I thought I would do one for Christmas. She’s also coming home for Christmas on the last possible day (she’s taking an exam on the last day and time slot) so I really wanted to send something that would help her enjoy the build-up to Christmas. Continue reading →
This year, I put Christmas garland at the bottom of the staircase and I love how it turned out! As a blogger, I’m on social media quite a bit (okay, a lot), and I was inspired by a friend’s banister.
In the past, I’ve decorated the top of the banister, along the handrail, but it’s prickly. It’s also a bit of a hazard for someone who can be clumsy because it’s hard to hold onto the railing properly. So, I switched things up and decorated the banister at the edge of the treads.
Here’s what you need, how to put it all together, and a few tips and tricks.
Thanksgiving is a special time of year for celebrating family and friends, and setting the table should be something fun, easy, and seasonal. In the past I hadn’t really spent much time on the centerpiece or place settings for my Thanksgiving table, but this year, I did.
In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October, making it the perfect time for college students to come back home after spending six weeks away. We love having our oldest come home to enjoy some warm weather, family time, and great food.
This year, I challenged myself to creating a simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table. We host Thanksgiving, so I had a lot of items on hand already. I added a few dollar store finds and re-purposed some tableware and I was all set.
My daughter and I also printed out some questions (that we got online) about being grateful so that each person could ask one of the group, after first providing their own answer. For example, one question is ‘If you could learn a new skill this coming year, what would it be?’ and another one is ‘What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned this year?’. Asking these questions turned out to be my husband’s favorite part of the meal (other than the food, of course) and we all enjoyed learning more about each other. Continue reading →
One of my recent posts, on self-care, talked about my love for reading and how important it is in my daily life. Over the years, I have gone through phases, sometimes reading a lot and sometimes, especially when my kids were younger, not reading much at all other than magazines and newspapers. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, ever. It’s relaxing and it calms me down. It educates and entertains me. And, it connects me to periods in history that only books can do.
My earliest memory of reading is indelible: reading about Dick and Jane the summer before I entered Kindergarten. Growing up in an expat community in Saudi Arabia and reading about the neighborhoods and adventures of these siblings and their parents captured my imagination and my love for anything American. I don’t remember any other books or authors from that time of my life, other than how good I felt when I was reading. Continue reading →
Have you ever walked or driven by street art and wondered how it all came to be? Well, in Toronto, we’re lucky to be surrounded by lots of intentional, thoughtful street art – and each installation comes with a story.
The Forest Hill Village is the home to ‘Go Swimming’, a 6 by 40 foot black and white mural behind the building at the southwest corner of Montclair and Spadina in Toronto.
The self-taught artist, James C. Jennings, and his friend were in the Village last fall, admiring the building. The owner, Lorne Rose, overheard them and the they soon began discussing how to turn the blank garage wall into a piece of art for neighbours and passersby to enjoy. The request was simple: a positive, whimsical, cartoonish piece that would make people stop, engage, and smile. And, it does just that!
Ultimately, this mural represents three things: community art, created with humour and meaning, about the world we live in today.