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 

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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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