Saying Yes!

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I can see the CN Tower in the distance on my drive to work. For a split second it’s as though I’m headed in the direction of my dreams. I’m headed to a place that is big enough to fit my aspirations. A place where it’s okay to still be figuring it out. A place where my bubble can burst and I will be flooded with new experiences, people, and places.

In the spirit of soaking up new experiences and driving toward my dreams, this week was dubbed “the week in which Vanessa does not cancel on plans made and also does not decline any invitation”. It’s not that I’m a flake per say, but plans always sound so exciting until I actually have to put on a bra and leave the house. This week I did not say no, I did not say maybe, I did not concoct and intense diversion or pray for a snow storm. I simply said yes, got dressed, and went out.

I went out almost every week night. I stayed out late and woke up early. I enjoyed dinner with my new aunts and cousins, watched episodes of Impractical Jokers (which is highly addicting!), went to a new restaurant with my old love/new husband (who put on cologne for the first time in YEARS since it was our first date night in months), hung out with my cousin Ashley, AND even traveled south of Steeles to join in on a podcast with Sociphoria and Amanda DiPasquale (from Be The Next Her). It was amazing to chat with Amanda, Amanda, and Patrick about social media, writing, creativity, the impact of full-time jobs on creative endeavors and much more! I don’t want to say anymore about it but I’ll post a link to Instagram and Twitter once it drops.

After a full week of saying yes I am anything but tired. I’m hopped up on the energy and positivity from the conversations I had with some pretty incredible people. Is this feeling available through intravenous?

Most Assuredly yours,

Vanessa xo

 

My Breakfast with Fate

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Fate can come in different shapes and forms; it can be personified as a person, place, coincidence, accident, letter, email, or sign. I met Fate mid-Sunday morning at a new diner close to home. This version of Fate came in a 5 foot 2 bundle of confidence and happiness complete with gorgeous eyes and an open heart. I call her Alanna, mostly because that is her name but I digress.

Alanna and I have been friends since high school and after we meet up I always find myself a smidgen more confident and a boatload more inspired. As always, our conversation went from love and married life to work, family, and friends. We talked about adulting and everything that goes along with it. What struck me most about our conversation was how in the last few years we’ve changed dramatically. Thanks to our own circumstances, we’ve become more confident, happy, and untouched by the opinions of others. We went from caring about what people think about us to completely not giving a f*&$. There is an incredible freedom that comes with letting going of insecurities brought on by other.

Eventually our conversation veered to our creative pursuits, she is one half of Out of the Blue and I’m a writer.  She asked me how my writing is going and it’s definitely going – fingers crossed that the literary agent interested in my work gets back to me in 2017 with some good news. We started talking about another story that I’ve been itching to write. A story that has been right in front of me for years but I haven’t sat down to let it all out. It would be really cool to see both perspectives side-by-side.  I think you should write this book, Alanna said.

The more we discussed it the more I realized that I had to go for it…

Writerly yours,

Vanessa xo

Mini-Honeymoon in Toronto

I’ve learned recently that the two questions newlyweds receive most are:

  1. Where are you going on your honeymoon?
  2. When are you having kids? (Please stop asking me this)

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With Christmas right around the corner and the simple fact that more than a week off work for myself and my husband wasn’t viable, we decided to spend a few days in Toronto. Alex was in charge of booking the hotel and stumbled on a great deal from The Shangri-La Hotel. I have only been to the Shangri-La once before for a book event years ago BUT I’ll tell you one thing, I COULD GET USED TO LIFE AT THE SHANGRI-LA! Apart from the stunning atmosphere, the location, and the luxurious suites, the service there is above anything I’ve ever witnessed. From friendly hellos, to offering to bring our coffee upstairs, to prompt room service, and giving impeccable directions, the entire staff knows how to treat their guests. If I ever decide to splurge on another staycation, I’d LOVE to have a girl’s weekend down there and really enjoy the pool and the spa too!

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Views from our sweet suite! 

We thought we would be all touristy and hit up the ROM, the AGO, and maybe even the Aquarium BUT we were completely exhausted from the wedding night and all of the stress leading up to it that we vegged out as much as we could. I even took a bath, A BATH, for the first time in years I sat down in deliciously scented warm water, closed my eyes, and sat in silence. Best weekend ever.

Apart from relaxing, we ventured out during the day, trying out new restaurants, coffee shops, and simply enjoying the gorgeous November weather. We had lunch at BOSK, dinner at Bestellen, and a late lunch with a few friends on Sunday at Patria.

We were blown away by the beauty and taste of each meal we had. I would recommend all three restaurants to anyone who finds themselves in the city and in need of a good meal.

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QUANTUM COFFEE FOR THE WIN – best hot chocolate in the city! 

Since Toronto is not foreign to us and we’ve spent many evenings walzting around town , our honeymoon seemed more like a regular weekend than something extravagent (the only difference was being referred to as Mrs. Buccella! <3). That may sound awful but it’s exactly what I love about us; we find joy in the simplist of things, in quiet evenings, excellent meals, and time with each other. Here’s to many more adventures as husband and wife!

Restfully yours,

Vanessa xo

Pizza Month @qmpizza

Pizza is one of my favourite food groups (pasta and coffee are tied for first). I waitressed at the best pizza place in Bolton for nearly ten years, so when I say that I understand pizza I mean it. From the dough to the sauce to the toppings, everything must be calcualted and made with love. My favourite pizza was made by Domenic Caruso during our lunch breaks. Although the pizza he made was normally thick crust to hold the toppings, for lunch he would make the staff the thinnest crust imaginable. The toppings included broccoli, prosciutto cotto, diced white onions, mozzarella cheese, NO SAUCE, and homemade spicy oil. It was heavenly. I’ve never come close to having pizza I enjoyed as much as my ex-boss’ until now!

Did you know that October is Pizza Month!? To celebrate I was sent a gift certificate for Queen Margherita Pizza by my friends at Brand & Buzzing. Alex and I used it as a an excuse for date night. We headed to the Annette location with nothing but time and empty stomachs.

We started with the grilled kale and fried calamari – both were amazing! Then moved onto the margehrita pizza. The dough was light and thin, the sauce not too sweet, the cheese utterly delicious, the basil and sprinkle of olive oil gave the perfect balance. Alex and I agreed that QMP would be our new go-to pizza place. 

Are you ready to celebrate Pizza Month? QMP is offering margherita pizza + beer = $10 at all 3 locations! 

Carb-lovingly yours,

Vanessa xo

P.S.  This isn’t an ad. I went, I saw, I ate, and I wrote about it. I don’t write about things, places, books, or meals I don’t like. There’s enough negativity in this world. 

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is my favourite day of the year. If you’ve been following my blog since 2010, you’ll remember that my family is all about our Thanksgiving day traditions. The day begins with a trip to Downey’s Farm where we scarf down the best fries with gravy (or a hot dog), take photos in the pumpkin patch, and buy 3 different pies from the bakery. Next we head over to the closest apple orchard and pick to our hearts’ content. Then we all head to my parents’ house to snack, nap, and await an epic turkey dinner. Although the day itself has lost some of its magic, I’m thankful for its continuity. We’re growing up and perhaps we’ve exchanged hot chocolate for coffee (or wine) but we still enjoy being together and continuing the tradition that started long before my nieces were born, before my sister was married, my brother graduated high school, or Alex and I got engaged.

Thanksgiving, apart from the family time and overeating, always makes me think about what I’m thankful for, what I’ve accomplished, and how I can better myself. It’s one thing to be thankful for people and the many things they do for us and it’s another  to show thanks – which is something I don’t do enough of. This last month or so I’ve felt extremely overwhelmed, headstrong, and stubborn. Nightmares, thoughts about a disastrous wedding, and planning has me going a little nuts. There is always something on my mind and with the final countdown beginning I’ve turned into a BRIDEZILLA. I’ve been short with a lot of people and stress is no excuse for a bad attitude. This bridezilla has to morph back into the anxious humble little nobody who appreciates all of the help and care people (my mom especially) have put into this wedding.

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As far as my own accomplishments go and the goals I want to set for myself I’m afraid that I’ve become lazy. What happened to the girl who used to blog her heart out, who used to jump at the chance of attending every event she was invited to? What happened to the woman who wanted to make a difference with her words? Who looked to young writers for inspiration and allowed herself to get lost in creating worlds filled with characters that people could relate to? What happened to the woman hell-bent on acquiring a literary agent who could both challenge and help her create beautiful stories? She got a full-time job and a suitcase filled with excuses and used them every chance she could. I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished at work but it’s time to go back to my roots and get excited about words, books, bookish people, and spinning tales. It’s time to get back to being me.

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Thankfully yours,

Vanessa xo 

The Bride’s Diary – The Bridal Shower

 

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Words I never thought I would put in a sentence (and actually mean them):

I loved everything about my bridal shower.

Let’s be clear, this is not because I didn’t think we could pull it off, but because I have never been a huge fan of bridal showers. Although I’ve had fun at all of the showers I’ve attended in recent years, I never quite understood the point of them. In fact I’m sure I mentioned once or twice that I didn’t want to have one. They’re A LOT of work, and super time-consuming; especially when your mother and florist are keen on the littlest of details. From making Mad-Hatter hats to cutting the corners of every piece of paper, to flowers and cookies, no detail was left out.

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The theme I chose for my shower was Alice in Wonderland – it’s a book, one of my favourite Disney movies, and after looking on Pinterest I realized that there was so much that could be done with the theme. Over the last year my mom and aunt (who is also my florist) scoured all kinds of stores for the perfect props. With boxes and boxes stacked in the basement I nearly forgot how much was collected until we had to lug it all out again.
After months of planning, collecting, and prepping for the shower I asked my bridal party, mother, and aunt if they could decorate the restaurant without me so that I could see everything put together for the first time. And so they did…

Needless to say I was floored and completely overwhelmed by how nicely everything came together. They created my own version of Wonderland where everything is beautiful and just a little bit weird. As the guests made their way into the restaurant, they were handed their very own hat and asked to play some table games. All of the guests obliged and seemingly enjoyed all of the décor, food, raffles, and games throughout the afternoon. I made my way from table to table to welcome everyone and have a chat or two. I have to admit that I cried. More than once.


When the dessert table opened and everyone was full, I got up to say my thank-yous. Halfway through my written speech, I broke down. I felt such an incredible amount of love and joy in the room that I couldn’t contain myself. All of my family and friends showed up to celebrate Alex and I and the love we have for one another – it left me with a feeling a can’t quite describe. It’s somewhere between undeserving and ridiculously thankful, mixed in with utterly happy and exceedingly overwhelmed.


Thank you again to everyone who attended, to everyone who was there in spirit, and to everyone who helped out. It was a blissful day in Wonderland and I couldn’t be happier.

Madly yours,

Vanessa xo 

The Bride’s Diary – The Bachelorette

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Another wedding milestone has come and gone. On Saturday my sister hosted my bachelorette party at Lula Lounge in Toronto. My sister struggled with the planning because I’m kind of weird. I don’t like clubs or big groups, I go to bed early and send my spare time in bed reading. I would rather go to the ROM or the AGO then to a busy nightclub. However I highly doubt my best girls would want to spend their evening in a bookstore or library. After intense Googling, my sister found something that we’d all love; something fun but very me.

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We started the evening with dinner and drinks, laughter and drinks, gossip (and did I mention drinks?). The meal was decent but I don’t think you go to Lula Lounge for the food. You go there for the awesome decor, the vibe, and the incredible music. After dinner we headed to the dance floor where we took up an awkwardly large space and danced our hearts out. 

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Although we were all pooped by 11 PM I had an amazing time. It’s not often that all of us can get together. We all have hectic lives and most of them have children, so when we do get together we make the most of it. I have an amazing group of women in my life who are super crazy, funny, and down-to-earth. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my bachelorette with anyone else!

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Blushingly yours,

Vanessa xo

Dinner at Bar Isabel

Open your eyes. If you walk too quickly you just might miss it but once you see it, it’s difficult to pay attention to anything else on that side of College Street. Thick wooden panels frame a gorgeous wooden door illuminated red by the signature Isabel scrawl.


When you walk into the restaurant your eyes need a few minutes to adjust before the warmth of the venue washes over you. Authentic Spanish tiles bring the floor to life, rustic mirrors covering the length of the restaurant make the room feel bigger, the dimly lit space and candles on each table create an oasis for every guest. If you find yourself looking up you’ll notice an array of different light fixtures, adding even more character to an already charismatic space.

Thanks to my current position as Customer Service Coordinator at an importer of Spanish cured meat and specialty items, I’ve become pretty well-versed in the world of Spanish tapas. So while other couples Googled their way through the menu, I comfortably and casually ordered the Lomo Iberico, Chips & Boquerones, the Jamon Tasting (featuring the Trevelez and Iberico de Bellota), the Half Octopus, Jamon Croquetas, Manchego Cheese, and the Bread. I was stumped by a few items and was thoroughly impressed by the staff’s product knowledge and their ability to help us navigate our way through a pretty amazing tapas meal. Our waitress ensured that she would bring out the dishes that went best together until we made our way through the entire order.


What I’m noticing about Spanish tapas is the need for quality ingredients. Since the dishes are small and simple, there has to be enough flavour to bring the dish to life. Everything from the bread to the olive oil to the thinly sliced pieces of Lomo Iberico had its own distinct flavour. A memorable flavour that tickled the palate and ignited the taste buds.

So I guess the ultimate question is, would I go back? Would you go back to a place with great food, a warm atmosphere, and wonderful service? Exactly. I would love to go with a group of people next time, I love the idea of having a few drinks and chatting as we share a few dishes on a warm Toronto evening.

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