Three Books to Read this Fall

unnamed

Although sitting on the dock in the warm summer sunshine with a fancy cocktail in hand is a great way to enjoy any book; I prefer reading in the Fall. Sitting by the window with a view of the red, orange, and yellow leaves, a book propped up on the fuzzy blanket covering my legs, an a warm cup of coffee in my hand is absolute perfection.

I must admit that I have been reading a lot less than usual. I find that the same books is in my tote bag for months at a time, whereas in previous years there would be a new book every week and a half. I’ve read so slowly that even my fiancé has noticed, You’re STILL reading that book? he’ll ask. I’ll lower my head in defeat and remark I blame the wedding planning. Either way, I’ve found some wonderful books that I think you all would enjoy!

Year of YES by Shonda Rhimes – After feeling a bit down and out-of-sorts I ordered the Year of Yes in the hope that it would inspire me to get my ass in gear. Shonda Rhimes tells it like it is. She doesn’t sugarcoat her own shortcomings and reminds her reader that we’re all human, we all have quirks, and we all get scared. Although she lives a very wonderful life (she’s the creative and executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. Plus the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder and The Catch). She is a TV writer who gets many invitations to swanky parties, TV appearances, and loads of talks. One Thanksgiving while complaining about another invitation to an event that she turned down, her sister told her 6 words that would ultimately change her life You never say yes to anything. 

Year of Yes follows Shonda’s most difficult challenge – to say yes to everything. To say yes to all of the interviews, events, parties, travel opportunities, speeches etc. Her journey is an incredible one filled with honesty and an anxiety I can relate to. As a writer Shonda prefers to be out of the spotlight and whenever the spotlight hits her there is a lot of sweat, heart palpitations and tears. I COMPLETELY understand this. But it isn’t her anxiety that I learned the most from, it is a line from the commencement speech she gave at Dartmouth University: LESSON ONE: DITCH THE DREAM. BE A DOER. NOT A DREAMER. 

I once considered myself a dreamer but I now know that I’d rather be a doer. I can dream my whole life away and not work to get what I want. The key is to begin, to keep moving, to strive. To be a successful person you have to put in the work.

Thank you Shonda, thank you.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – I bought this novel on a whim at Wal-Mart because I had seen it all over social media. I wasn’t convinced that a novel about a girl who hadn’t eaten for 4 months and believed that she was surviving off of manna from heaven would be the kind of book I’d be into. Was I ever wrong! Suspense, mystery, love, a surprise around every corner – this novel had my mind going a mile a minute.

The Fate of Tearling by  Erika Johansen – A few years ago I received a copy of The Queen of Tearling from HarperCollins Canada. I immediately fell in love with the story, the characters, and Erika Johansen’s writing. Last month I read the second instalment (The Invasion of Tearling) and was immediately transported back to Tearling with a bit on sentimentality in my heart. The Fate of Tearling is the final novel in the trilogy and although it had been a few years since I read the first one and a months since the second, I was able to pick up exactly where the story had left off. There’s just as much corruption, magic, and mystery as the first two books but there is also a whole lot of explanation. Questions are answered, fates revealed, and boundaries crossed. I would recommend reading the entire trilogy – you won’t regret it! **This book hits shelves November 29, 2016**

Which books are you looking forward to this season?

Bookwormingly yours,

Vanessa xo

The Bride’s Diary – 28 Days to Go!

the-brides-diary1

As I sat down at La Bamboche with my fluffy cappuccino I realized that I was about an hour early for my final wedding dress fitting.

MY FINAL WEDDING DRESS FITTING.

Which meant that I would get to take my dress home because it’s so close to the wedding that there’s no point in keeping at the store. Because I’m getting married in less than a month. In less than a month I get to marry my best friend, but not only that, I get to see what all this planning actually accomplished.

It feels completely surreal. Where did this year go?! Didn’t we just get engaged? Every time I try to picture what the day will look like I either get a bout of anxiety or I cry with happiness. I’m nervous about the big day and hope everything goes as planned but I’m also excited. Excited to finally say the vows I’ve written a million times, excited to walk down the aisle with my mom and dad, excited to watch my friends perform a song or two, excited to dance the night away with my family and closest friends. I’m also excited for the relief I’ll feel once the day is over. I’m looking forward to not worry about seating charts or floral arrangements or offending anyone. I’m excited for what happens after I DO.

Wait, what happens after I DO?! I guess we’ll find out ❤️.

Excitedly yours,

Vanessa xo

**A special thank you to all of the wonderful women at Ritché Bridal for your patience, support, and magical alterations. I felt like an old friend every time I went for a fitting and I am sad for all of the future brides out there that won’t get to have the Ritché Bridal experience. Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for the dress of my dreams.**

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

img_1794

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.

unnamed

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.

img_1798

Thankfully yours,

Vanessa xo 

Conversation with a Stranger

The other day I called to reserve a limo for our wedding (OMG it’s almost here!!!), and I ended up chatting with a lovely woman named Helen. As she took my information she commented on my email address (mypenmyvoice@gmail.com). I like that, it must mean something, she said. I explained that it is the name of my first blog and first book.

After many minutes of chatting I learned that Helen has a background in marketing and used to run a magazine. She’d spend loads of time with writers and journalists and really enjoyed the hustle and bustle of that industry. And then life throws you something you didn’t quite expect and you just have to roll with it, she said almost sensing my curiosity of how she ended up in the limo business.

She explained that sometimes she misses the magazine industry but there cane a point when she realized that she had no time for anyone, not even her own life. She decided, or life helped her decide, that she had to make a change. Our conversation meant more to me than I think Helen understands.


 

As today marks the one year anniversary of Alex’s liver donor surgery, I know what she means by life throwing something unexpected at you. I completely relate to her point about enjoying what is important in life. And given that I spend my 9-5 in the cured ham industry and not writing, I know that life can often send you to the most unexpected places.

Given how stressed I’ve been over the wedding, how much I’ve been itching for change, and honestly, how defeated I’ve felt over my writing (or lack thereof), Helen truly inspired me to think positively and embrace the life I have while working for the other things I want. It’s funny how all of the Helens in my life seem to say the exact thing I need to hear at the precise moment I  need to hear it.

Attentively yours,

Vanessa xo

i feel change

IMG_8245.jpg

To me, Fall is synonymous with transition. It could because of the foliage changing colours, or because a new year is beckoning, or because the weather is warm, fresh, and welcoming. Whatever the reason; the months of Fall are my favourite as they fill me with cravings for adventure and a change of pace. I feel change on the horizon and I’m more excited by it than afraid of it.  In fact, I’m putting together a list of things I want to change and things I want to try this Fall and in 2017.

This list ranges from reconnecting with old friends and heading to the city to meet up with my blogger buddies to getting a new mattress (side note: I did and I LOVE my Endy). From getting a new haircut (I’m thinking a lob) after the wedding to marrying my best friend. From drinking less coffee to reading more books. From making more “me” time to writing as often as possible. From sleeping in on weekends to pampering myself more (hello manicures and MaskerAide). From organizing girls nights to finally joining a writer’s workshop. Some of the things on my list are changes, some are challenges, all are possible.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ― Andy WarholThe Philosophy of Andy Warhol

 

Openheartedly yours, 

Vanessa xo

 

The Bride’s Diary – The Bridal Shower

 

the-brides-diary1

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.

img_1642

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 

she rhymes

unnamed

She adored the busyness of the city streets even more than the quiet found when nodding off to sleep. She needn’t go away to long for home – she can stay quite put and still feel alone. On and on the days go by; the leaves will change and flowers die. In her heart she feels  the same; her love and happiness are the only game.

There was a time she felt confused, questioned herself, convinced she’d lose. Suddenly, suddenly she’s standing tall, back straight up against a wall. She knows herself and walks with pride through the fear she tries to hide. Her confidence is blooming wide, you can see it in her face that she has nothing to hide.

She says her piece and doesn’t stutter even though her heart may flutter. Perspectives shifted with loads at stake – her mind has strengthened. Her ground won’t quake. She feels like a woman, no longer girl, she feels fucking ready to rule her world. She forgives herself for past mistakes and forgets regrets that have laid their claim. She cares not for foes, drama, or fame: words are her passion, Vanessa is her name.

Rhymingly yours,

Vanessa xo

 

Serrano Goes to Cirque! 


I spent last Sunday afternoon in the VIP tent at the Cirque de Soliel! My bosses took the entire Serrano Imports staff to the Luzia show as a little staff appreciation gift.

We were given our VIP passes and escorted into a dark tent filled with with cozy sofas, Mexican decor, hot and delicious hors d’oeuvres, and women with sparkling wine dresses (and I mean that literally, they had dresses holding glasses filled with sparking wine). After an hour or so of chatting with my coworkers we made our way to the main tent to enjoy the show. We were seated about four rows up from centre stage which made the costumes, dancing, and tricks all the more vivid.

I was blown away by the strength and poise the was possessed by every person on the stage. It’s alarming what a human body can do if trained hard enough. Although the stunts were incredible, I fell for the beauty of the stage, costumes, music, and story. At the beginning of the show, the clown comes on stage and turns a key that opens and a magical world filled with wonder. Each act left me longing for a few more seconds of unadulterated bliss.

One of my favourite acts incorporated a man-made waterfall where the water actually depicted different things – flowers, fish, hearts, designs. It was incredibly stunning. 

Luzia made me believe in magic again. It left me feeling hopeful, young, and optimistic. 

Magically yours, 

Vanessa xo 

Podcasting with the Sociphoria Duo

Last week I was invited to sit down with Amanda and Patrick from Sociphoria and join in on their podcast. This duo has amazing chemistry and make their listeners feel like they’re part of the conversation. They tackle topics from Pokemon to happiness to dealing with people who are getting the best of you – they have their own witty spin on each topic and make it easy for the listener to think hey, I’ve been there too! 

We recorded two podcasts, one about the emotional effects of social media and the other about making compromises. As we sat close together, huddled around a tiny microphone I completely forgot about what we were doing and had two of the most honest and thought-provoking conversations I’ve had in a long time.

Am I the only one who forgets what it’s like to have a conversation with someone without simultaneously scrolling through your Instagram feed?  I had my phone beside me but didn’t bother looking at it. Instead I focussed on the people beside me and the thoughts bouncing around in my head. I felt free, conscious, and confident in the words that came out of my mouth. I remembered for an instant what it is like to have your voice heard, to be listened to, to have an opinion. Too often I focus on the written word and I’m glad that this podcast experience reminded me that my vocals are powerful too.

Click the link below to check out the first podcast we recorded – I haven’t listened to it yet but I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.

SOCIPHORIA Episode 14

Talkatively yours,

Vanessa xo