Satisfaction (not) Guaranteed

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WANT NOTHING + DO ANYTHING = HAVE EVERYTHING

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m currently reading The Happiness Equation. I’m trying to figure out how to be happy every single day. First things first – I am NOT unhappy. I am very happy. I have a good family, a wonderful husband, and a steady job. However, there are many mornings where I wake up feeling dissatisfied, where I want more, where my current job, phone, or writing is just not enough.

According to The Happiness Equation, I’m not the only one. We’ve gone from a society who was happy with what they had to a society that is always reaching for more. For society as a whole this is amazing! It’s progress! It’s evolution! It’s change! It’s technology! But as individuals, is it good to always want more? How draining is it to always feel unsatisfied?

When I got my iPhone 5SE I was in love but as soon as the 7 came come, my phone just wasn’t enough. When I self-published my first book I was completely content until 3 seconds after my book launch. That very evening I wanted to write another book but get it published by an actual publishing company this time. When I worked at Caruso’s all I wanted was a full time job and a proper paycheck. Now that I have one, I yearn to make more money, to move up, to move on.

We have a coffee, we want a second cup.

We have sex, we want to do it again.

We achieve a goal, we want to make a new one.

I am all for self-improvement, for growth, for becoming a better person, for pursuing your passions. But shouldn’t that moment of happiness, of contentment, of pride, last a little longer? Shouldn’t we relish in those feelings before we dismiss them and move on?

 

Yours,

Vanessa xo

Foodie Friday – B-day Dinner at Fabbrica

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I’ve been to Fabbrica several times over the years. Alex and I went during Winterlicious in 2013 and we’ve gone back for lunch or dinner dates. My sister even hosted my niece’s Baptism there as well. It is one of my favourite restaurants for many reasons but most important is their consistency. Whenever I’ve gone there the atmosphere, food, service and even wait staff has been consistent. For me, that’s super important. It doesn’t mean the menu shouldn’t change or that the decor should be the same forever, but the customer should still be able to see the heart behind the meal in front of them.

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I am a huge fan of familiarity and feeling at home when I’m out. At Fabbrica I recognize the cooks on the line, the hostesses, and the men and women who’ve taken my order or cleared my plate. On top of that, I’ve never had a bad meal there. So when Alex said he was planning a birthday dinner for me and he booked a table at Fabbrica, I was ecstatic.

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I can always count on my sister to take photos of her food when I’m too busy! Thanks Jess ❤

We started with the charcuterie board (paper-thin cured meat for the win), warm olives, mushroom pizza (their crust is heavenly), and bread.  As my main, I ordered the ricotta gnocchi with fresh tomato, basil and burrata and a side of rapini. The gnocchi were light as air and the portion very generous. The entire table got something different and it was nice to see everyone sending over forkfuls of their dish for someone else to try. Sharing food is a beautiful thing.

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When all of the plates were licked clean and wine glasses empty, the lights dimmed and the waiter appeared with a dessert board of full of cannoli and a sundae (vanilla gelato, fried banana, butter toffee, hazelnut, strawberry, hot fudge) with a candle burning brightly on top. The cannoli tasted of lime, pistachio, and chocolate, paired with their lavazza cappuccino it was the perfect ending to a terrific meal.

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Thank you to everyone at Fabbrica for making yet another amazing meal and to my friends and family who joined me for dinner, I love you!

 

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

30 Before 30

take your businessto the next level!

After reading La Petite Noob’s 30 Before 30 List I felt inspired to create one of my own. I’ve spent the last few months adding and editing this list, curating a balance between things I’ve always wanted to do and things that I don’t want to do but should.

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Since today is my 28th birthday, I have EXACTLY 2 years to cross as many of these things off this bucket list as possible.

  1. Try Battleaxe throwing
  2. Go a WEEK without coffee
  3. Complete my manuscript and send to literary agent
  4. Travel to Europe with my Hubby
  5. Make exercising a priority (work out 3-4 day per week, min.)
  6. Try a Soul Cycle class
  7. Get an essay or fiction piece published on Hazlitt
  8. Stop buying clothes that are “too old for my age”
  9. Send more notes/birthday cards/and thank-yous via mail
  10. Have a tech-detox once a month
  11. Although appearance isn’t everything, there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. Go for regular manicure, pedicures, and haircuts.
  12. Learn how to do my makeup properly (are there Sephora workshops for this?!)
  13. BE. MORE. CONFIDENT.  (Doubt myself less)
  14. Stand up for myself (stop being so goddam accommodating)
  15. Go on a writing retreat with Buddy
  16. Learn how to be more like my mother
  17. Land/work hard for my dream job
  18. Take a cooking class
  19. Spend more time with my grandparents
  20. Take more photos and actually develop them
  21. Volunteer for a cause that means something to me
  22. Vote (since I never have)
  23. Go on a roller coaster – I’ve been terrified for years!
  24. Take another writing course
  25. EdgeWalk at the CN Tower
  26. Drink more water
  27. Make more time for friends
  28. Learn how to curl my own hair
  29. Practice Patience
  30. Write all about it

Yours,

Vanessa xo

Foodie Friday – The Lockhart

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If Fred and George Weasley opened an underground bar for underage Wizards on the Hogwarts grounds, I like to think that it would look something like The Lockhart Cocktail Bar on Dundas. It’s small and dark, filled with numerous trinkets and antique-store finds. It has character and warmth. I’ve been bugging my husband to take me there since it opened and this week we finally went! We got there just after 5:00 PM so it was pretty empty, save for a few other people looking for magic after braving the cold.

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I immediately connected to their Muggle WiFi, took photos, and ordered some Harry Potter inspired cocktails and a few snacks. Alex had the Campfire Old Fashioned while I ordered the Real Tea; both drinks were tasty and made with precision. Their drink menu is amazing – the names alone will warm any Harry Potter fan’s heart.

To munch on  we ordered the herbology 101, flame roasted eggplant, and buttermilk fried horntail. What I love about trying new places in Toronto is that my taste buds are always surprised. Each tapas dish dripped with flavour, freshness, and a combination of seasonings I’ve never had before. The star dish was the fried horntail (chicken) it was sweet, savoury, and even a little tangy. I’m not quite sure what their batter is made of but it is heavenly!

I would definitely return to The Lockhart for drink and snacks (I still want to try their chocolate frogs). I would recommend it to anyone who has a love for Harry Potter, great drinks, friendly staff, and a little bit of magic…

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What a beautiful place… to be with friends. – Dobby

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Kicking Bad Habits – Adopting New Routines

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Throwing it back to NYC 2013 (coffee game strong)
The smallest things can make a world of difference. Using a blue inked pen instead of black can make a page a little brighter and even lift the spirits, an unexpected visit from a friend can make your world less bleak, a handwritten note in the mailbox can restore your faith in humanity. Paying attention to your own body, mind, and routines can induce change.

I’ve been trying to pay more attention to what my body tells me. I try to listen to my anxiety, my aches or fatigue. I try to the see the signs when I’m close to burning out, when I need a break. The body can tell you so much. I’ve had trouble falling asleep for the past few weeks. I toss and turn while I listen to my heart pounding in my chest. For once, this has nothing to do with anxiety and everything to do with the fourth of fifth coffee that I’ve had that day.

I am a coffee addict. I tried my sip of bitter-sweet and creamy coffee when I was about seventeen. I went to Cuba with my aunt, sister and cousin during March break and since that first taste, coffee and I are rarely seen apart. I drink anywhere from 3-5 coffees a day and probably even more when I’m traveling. Coffee is my vice. Some people have cigarettes, others have alcohol, I have coffee.

I’ll admit that some days, coffee leaves me feeling tired, anxious and wired. I cannot tell you how many times I get home from work and my nerves are shot from the coffee I just had to get on the way home. I also noticed that my skin is getting worse. It’s terribly dry, haggard, and the blemishes are so red and inflamed! After reading several blog posts and articles about the effects that coffee (and dairy) can have on your skin I’ve decided to cut down my coffee consumption.

That’s the first routine I’m changing. From Monday March 20th onward, I am only allowing myself one (*2 on special occasions) cup of coffee a day. I used to think that I had to start my day with a coffee, but that’s just habit, one I need to break.

The next routine I’m changing is the time in which I wake up. I normally wake up at 6:00 A.M. so that I can eat, shower, and get to work an hour early. There is absolutely no need for me to be in my desk an hour early. By 3:00 I’m an exhausted mess with zero energy and yearning for another coffee. I’m never asked to get to the office early and my bosses are big supporters of getting enough rest but I created this routune and I can’t get out of it.

I’ve decided that I’m going to set my alarm for 6:45. I’ll still have time to write, read, and eat. I’ll be able to enjoy my downtime in a quiet house. Perhaps that extra 45 minutes will rid of my fatigue and that constant burnt-out feeling. Maybe with that bit of extra sleep I’ll come home from work with enough energy to exercise and do the things I enjoy.

Finally, I’m going to add something to my daily routine.  I will write every single day. I’ll been working on a collection of short stories, narratives, and essays for ages but I haven’t given it my all. There’s even been a bit of interest from a literary agent and for some reason I keep putting it off. I think it’s time to put it back on. You cannot be a writer if you don’t write. Right?

What habits so you want to break?

Are there certain things in your routine that need to be changed? Let me know!

Routinely yours,

Vanessa xo

 

 

 

 

Foodie Friday – Fish & Chips

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The first time I had fish & chips I was eight-years-old. It was our first night at our new house and we ate on the floor in our empty dining room. I don’t remember how the meal was or if I really enjoyed it, but I do remember sitting in an unfamiliar house and still feeling a blanket of safety wash over me.

Fast forward twenty years and I find myself craving fish & chips when I need to feel comfort. I remember having it as my last meal when I interned at Random House and being super emotional afterward. I was so sad that I got Alex to pick me up at the subway and hold my hand all the way home.

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I tend to order it whenever I’m in a pub, diner, or drive-bar. Ideally, the fish should be flaky and well-seasoned. I should be able to tell that I’m eating REAL fish. The batter should be crisp, golden, and not too thick. There should be a balance of fish and batter – a ratio of one to one if you please. The fries should be thick, golden, crispy, and lightly salted. I don’t mind a bit of grease but I cannot stand when you can tell that they were fried in old oil.

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Last week for date night, Alex and I went to Fionn MacCool’s where I immediately ordered their fish & chips (if you go on a Wednesday it’s only $9.99!).   Although the white wine sangria I started off with was the star of the evening, the fish & chips were flaky and tender with batter that was crisped to perfection! I would have liked the fries to be less soggy and more crispy but the overall meal was great.

What’s your favourite comfort food? What’s your favourite pub or dive-bar? Let me know!

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Adventure is calling – his name is Alex

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 My husband and I often take separate cars when we make plans during the week since we meet up right after work. On our way home from whenever we are, Alex calls me as soon as we get in the car. We talk as I follow him home or he follows me. With our work schedules being rather different, it seems that these conversations (brought to you in part by Bluetooth), are the longest and most intense ones that we have. The only thing better would be being in the car with him.

On our way home from date-night last week the traffic was haunting; try turning onto highway 50 during rush hour and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I noticed a few cars turning down a street that I’d never traveled down before. I assumed that they were trying to avoid the traffic so I asked Alex if we should follow them. To that he said “Up to you babe.”

“Fuck it. Let’s try.” I said with a confidence that rarely makes an appearance, especially when it is really needed. On we drove. Paved roads turned into dirt ones, assumed roads lead to un-assumed ones. We came across buildings we didn’t know existed, new suburbs and abandoned farms, and a  deranged patch of land with sheds (or miniature homes) littered about. The entire way I kept asking Alex if we should keep going and to that he said “Fuck it babe, you only live once!”

After a series of steep hills and roads that wound so tightly I could barely stay on them, we ended up at a dead-end, nowhere near our home. I stopped the car and looked over at Alex sitting in his. The smile on his face was from ear to ear as he began to laugh. I immediately began to giggle.

Maybe it was the DELICIOUS white-wine sangria I had with dinner or the excitement in finding secret hidden places among the trees, but I felt sheer and utter joy. Nothing clouded my mind, I felt in control and calm and lost and safe. Life should be filled with these little adventures, where you enter into the unknown and find little pieces of yourself that you may have lost along the way.

You only live once.

Adventurously yours,

Vanessa xo

 

Foodie Friday – Girls Night

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Whenever I go out for dinner I try to head to the city, but last Friday I  wanted to stay close to home. A girlfriend of mine and I had loads to catch up on so I wanted to go somewhere with great food, good prices, and the understanding that they wouldn’t kick us out if we were there for hours. I settled on Bolton Pizza Panini, which reminded me so much of Caruso Gourmet Pizza that my heart cried when I sat down at the table.

But I digress…

I ordered the penne alla vodka while Lina had the chicken parmigiano with seasonal veggies. As someone who eats home-cooked Italian food on a daily basis, Bolton Pizza Panini is the closest thing to eating at home. I’ve never had a bad meal there, whether it be take-out OR dine-in. The food is always fresh and seasoned perfectly while the service is nothing short of awesome.

Considering that I knew I was going to write about my dinner, I should have paid more attention to the food. I should have taken photos and Instagrammed my meal. BUT I was focusing intently on the conversation I was having with Lina (you may remember her from such posts as Girls Night Out with Fresita and SPiN).

We talked about dreams, goals, and perhaps taking some incredible risks in order to find the careers we both want. We decided that we’re far too young to settle for jobs that don’t make us happy 6 days out of 7. We both desire jobs that challenge us in a way that drives our passions, which means that a typical 9-5 might not be for us (the curse of being creative I tell you!). We’ve even picked up copies of Careergasm to help us on our way.

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So maybe this Foodie Friday wasn’t just about good food but about the company you keep while you’re eating. They say that food brings people together and I have to agree. Some of my fondest memories, personal breakthroughs, and biggest breakdowns happened around the dinner table, surrounded by people I love. So if you’re ever in a rut and need to figure out your life, have dinner with a dear friend – you won’t regret it!

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

the unbreakable Vanessa schmidt.

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Photo Cred: Amanda DiPasquale

Yesterday Alex and I binge watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. I instantly fell in love with Kimmy’s character. Her happiness, determination, passion and positivity is infectious! She reminds me of a younger version of myself; specifically when I interned at Random House. When I was doing everything and anything I could get my hands on. When I was going to events, networking, and enjoying the city. Kimmy reminds me of that girl Amanda DiPasquale featured on her Everyday Beauty series so many years ago…

“She has an exuberant, uncynical view of life that is extremely rare in young people…”

“There is no FOMO for her; no desire to be at some crowded, fake event or win a popularity contest. She’s honest, and you can see no fear in her lovely almond-shaped golden eyes.

“In a Thought-Catalog world of jaded twenty-somethings, Vanessa is all, hey people, life is great – let’s take it on!”

I remember the first time I read Amanda’s post, I was all ME? That’s ME? That’s how people see me? I was blown away by the positivity and support in this post and it kept me going on the toughest of days. Now, almost four years later, I don’t recognize the girl in the photo. The girl these words were written about is practically a stranger. Was I really that fearless? Passionate? Hardworking?

I’m not sure when I began to take life so personally or why I turned my mid-twenties into a suck-fest but it has to stop. As my husband so eloquently put it “You’re unbreakable too. Stop being broken. Stop letting life get you down!”

Unbreakably yours,

Vanessa xo

My BEST Life

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Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, when there are too many people at home, or when my anxiety gets to its max, I go for a car wash. The vibrant colour of the soap combined with the sound of the brushes smacking against the car create a womb of comfort. I can move forward without actually doing anything. I don’t have to worry. I can coast and allow my thoughts to hatch without any sort of distraction.

Last week I decided to get a car wash because I don’t think I’m living my best life. There, I said it. Like many people (I’m sure), my weeks blend into one another without a moment of real pause for excitement. I wake up early, head to work, work my 8+ hours, come home, eat, work out (if I find the energy), sleep and begin again. I find little joy in what I do. My job is great and challenging in its own right but most days I feel as though I might be wasting my time. I am reminded quite often that a job is a job. You have to work, you have to make money but that can’t be all there is to life, can it?

Apart from feeling unfulfilled at work I noticed that I haven’t been taking care of myself. I used to work out 5-7 days a week and now I’ll be lucky if I get 2 or 3 days in. I used to write and read like crazy and now I don’t. I used to go for a manicure or pedicure and really enjoy pampering myself, now I don’t. I used to stay away from sweets and junk food and now I can’t.

There are many things I am proud of and so many people in my life that fill me with warmth and happiness, but there is a large piece of me that knows I am not living my best life. I keep thinking that if it all disappeared tomorrow, what would I regret not doing? What would I wish I had made more time for? Which routines would I regret not breaking?

Questioningly yours,

Vanessa xo