#NYC, I'm coming for you

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time

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Nothing beats exploring a new city with people you love, or returning to a city you love with someone new. So, one month today I’ll be heading to NYC with one of my besties! We’ve never travelled together, in fact I’ve never travelled without the boyfriend or a family member so this should be interesting. I think she’ll be the perfect travel companion though, she’s totally laid-back, I’ve known her forever, we have similar interests, and I feel comfortable enough to fart in front of her, so we’re good.

I’ve been trying to travel as much as I can within the last five you, ya know, before I have to grow up and pay rent or something. I love travelling, in spite of flying, waiting in lines, and jet lag. Jet lag really gets to me, I slept for an entire day in Vancouver and couldn’t stay up past 11 PM in Vegas, I’m not even kidding.

I’m the type of traveller who wakes up early, jam-packs my day, takes a thirty-minute afternoon cat-nap, and heads out on the town for dinner. I try to get the most out of every trip I take and every minute I have in each city. Vancouver, Chicago, Dominican, Vegas, and NYC have been my destinations in the last five years and I’m excited to be heading back to New York. This time I’m going with a brand new notebook and everything I’m learning in my Creative Travel Writing Class. I hope to bring back a wicked travel diary for all of you, and myself. I’m also heading to New York with a wish-list, things I didn’t do last time and places I want to see again.

PicMonkey Collage1. Empire State Building

2. Return to Shake Shack and have the most delicious burger ever! (Again)

3. Strand Bookstore – obviously

4. Central Park – my last travel buddies were too tired to take a long walk in Central Park

5. Shopping on 5th Avenue, starting with breakfast at Tiffany’s (duh!)

My travel partner has a list of her own and I cannot wait to see what’s on it. After we check off those things we’re going to keep walking until we get lost, until we’ve found some really cool places that are off the touristy grid. I wonder what we’ll find…

Any suggestions on what we should do or see? Or how I can possibly pack lightly for this trip?

Let me know in the comments!

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

if you think adventure is dangerous…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

photo-1Somehow summer is nearly over and I haven’t done anything that I’ve wanted to do. I wanted to go to a cottage, head over to the beach, have lunch or brunch on a patio downtown, take a stroll down Queen Street and maybe hit up Kensington Market again, and I definitely wanted to plan a girl’s weekend. The only thing I “did” so far this summer was read and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m not complaining so much as I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the time to do the things on my SUMMER LIST.

After completing my internship at Random House and going back to Caruso’s Gourmet Pizza, I slipped back into a routine. Wake, eat, clean, work out, shower, read, write, eat, read, work, shower, sleep, and it’s been pretty steady for the last month or so. Contiki tours tweeted that Paulo Coelho quote yesterday and it’s been screaming over my thoughts ever since.

If routine is lethal, I’ve been dead for years.

So what can I do exactly? Head out on the open road and wish for an adventure? Try to pack in all of the things I wanted to do this summer in the last few weeks? FINALLY plan that girl’s weekend I’ve been itching to plan?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

ADVICE in the comments would be delightful!

___

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo

P.S If you haven’t picked up your copy of Twenty-One Truths or My Pen, My Voice on Amazon.com please do so shortly — they will only be available for a few months! XOXO

“This moment will be just another story someday”

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

The moment when you baked cookies, or made an unsatisfying dinner but he pretended it was delicious. The moment when you laughed uncontrollably and forgot everything, forgot that you’re scared that nothing is happening, forgot that you’re feeling bored. The moment you realize you don’t want to be sad because sadness doesn’t leave any room for creation. The moment you pick up a book and get so into it that you wish you wrote it yourself, you can’t wait to sit down and write one. The moment your dog craps in the basement and you feel like crying because you’re a baby and you’re tired and it smells and you don’t want to clean it up. The moment you feel so utterly confused that you can’t move forward because you are unsure of what your next step should be. The moment clarity hits.  The moment you make a list of all the things you want to do, all of the things you want to learn, and all of the ways you can improve and you realize that the making of these moments will all become stories someday. They’ll become memories and it’s up to you to make them.

The List

– learn how to cook

– write that book

– take swing dance lessons (seriously.)

– go to England, Paris, Italy, Germany, New York (for Christmas and New Year), etc. etc.

JosephCampbell

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

"This moment will be just another story someday"

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

The moment when you baked cookies, or made an unsatisfying dinner but he pretended it was delicious. The moment when you laughed uncontrollably and forgot everything, forgot that you’re scared that nothing is happening, forgot that you’re feeling bored. The moment you realize you don’t want to be sad because sadness doesn’t leave any room for creation. The moment you pick up a book and get so into it that you wish you wrote it yourself, you can’t wait to sit down and write one. The moment your dog craps in the basement and you feel like crying because you’re a baby and you’re tired and it smells and you don’t want to clean it up. The moment you feel so utterly confused that you can’t move forward because you are unsure of what your next step should be. The moment clarity hits.  The moment you make a list of all the things you want to do, all of the things you want to learn, and all of the ways you can improve and you realize that the making of these moments will all become stories someday. They’ll become memories and it’s up to you to make them.

The List

– learn how to cook

– write that book

– take swing dance lessons (seriously.)

– go to England, Paris, Italy, Germany, New York (for Christmas and New Year), etc. etc.

JosephCampbell

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Make your Own Adventures

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve been craving adventure or at least a change of scenery lately, so today I decided to go somewhere. Until this morning I had never been to Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is quaint, quiet, picturesque, and the perfect place for a little day trip. There are plenty of shops, a wonderful bookstore, great restaurants, and amazing ice cream parlors. The houses are the most beautiful houses I have ever seen. Some of them were built as early as the 1700s, with lush gardens and overflowing flowers. A walk down Queen Street will clear your mind and make you breathe a little better- it is a breath of fresh air in the most literal sense.

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We had lunch and drinks at Cork’s and went for a lovely stroll down and back up Queen Street. My favourite store was the bookstore and obviously I purchased a few books. The older woman working there looked like a librarian from a 1950’s film, comeplete with blonde hair, red lipstick, wire-rim glasses, a lovely pearl necklace, and a soft yet stern voice. She was simply delighted when I walked up to her to purchase two books, Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. I cannot wait to read them!

Next time I would like to spend the weekend there, visit a vineyard, and maybe check out a spa! Niagara-on-the-Lake was just the change of scenery I needed!

I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far!

___
Love Always
Vanessa Xo

Posted from the HTC One

Ananasa – for the people, by the people

Categories, Fashion & Beauty, Products and Brands

ananasa_logo

Founded in 2011, Ananasa.com is an online marketplace that enables artisans, artists and designers in the Middle East to sell their creations worldwide with no barriers. As a new and potential customer to Ananasa.com it’s wonderful to see so many beautiful, unique, and handcrafted products. I have three favourite stores already and I need to share them with you! 

I love accessories so I spent my morning looking through their products and various stores that they deal with. My absolute favorite is Misk. Misk is a story located in Egypt – it is a line of handcrafted women accessories, “each piece is an idea of its own, carefully selected, and designed”. Their lockets are beautifully designed and engraved with heart-felt words like ‘My heart and its key belongs to you’  and ‘May the light within you guide the light within me and may the light within me guide the light within you’. These words are written in Arabic Calligraphy, adding an extra element of beauty to each piece. Their necklaces would make a wonderfully thoughtful gift for any loved one in your life. 

Another store that I love is Peaches by Farah Saheb – located in Jordan. Peaches “is an online store where each item is designed with love. The store provides cushions, mobile covers and canvas artwork”. The artwork is bold, fresh, and exotic. A canvas from this shop would make an excellent focal point for any room in your home. I love the Pink City print and the Earrings print — so different and warm from any prints I’ve seen at our local IKEA store. 

Lastly, Peau Féroce or  Wild Skin is “a high-end fashion brand that creates a limited edition handmade products of 100% genuine leather material at affordable prices for both men and women”. From shoes to handbags to belts, I’m telling you that I’ve never seen anything like them. I know that Vintage is in but I think that unique and limited edition products is more what people want than anything and THIS store (located in Lebanon) is JUST the thing you’re looking for. 

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Their Chikes Nili S bag is probably my favourite item of theirs. The colour is so vibrant  — I need to have it!

Have you checked out Ananasa.com yet? 


Love Always

Vanessa Xo

when my breathing stopped

Categories, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

20130612-200345.jpgWe’d been stopped in the subway tunnel for 15 minutes when my breathing stopped. My heart was being crushed under immense pressure. My lungs – well they said a sweet toodle-oo with a great big eff you! At that point I put up the volume of my music and rested my head on my bag. With my eyes closed I felt a little bit better, in spite of the fact that the B.O. of the man in front of me found its way into my nostrils.

Apparently I can’t handle being confined and helpless. When the train began moving again my head spun, my stomach convulsed, and I nearly lost my composure. For over an hour I was stuck on that train. The train that toyed with my emotions: Go. Stop. Wait. Go. Go. Stop. Wait. Wait. Go slowly. Stop. I could sense the annoyance mount in the other passengers. I saw the roll of their eyes every time the driver explained about the signaling problems and apologized for the inconvenience.

All I kept thinking was; Breathe, Vanessa. Breathe. Don’t get anxious over something you literally have no control over. You think the driver WANTS to be stopped? No. Breathe. You’ll get home eventually. Calm down and take a nap. That mantra (thanks MOM!) was the only thing that kept me from experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack that night.

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Funny how that all happened on my way home, just after I tweeted: Potential is one of my favourite words. To me it’s hopeful and optimistic; attainable and reachable. Each day has the potential of turning out wonderful or completely shitty. Most things you have no control over but you DO have control over how you react to certain things, which is why I still ended up having a pretty okay evening. I didn’t spend my night complaining about the TTC or that I got home late. I went on with my night as if nothing happened. I wrote a little, worked out, ate a handful (or two) of my mom’s homemade chocolate almonds – the ones I’m not supposed to eat because they’re for my sister’s baby shower (#Sorry #NoI’mNot). Then I climbed into bed and let my mind wander.

I thought about all the wonderful things that could happen. I thought about potential and let the word swim around in my mind. I thought about taking up photography. I thought about taking writing classes. I thought about the novel I’m slowly working on (or maybe it’s a short story). I thought about becoming an aunt. I thought about traveling: New York, England, Italy, and Paris – I’m coming for you. I thought about marriage. I thought about family. I thought about love. I thought about change. I thought about work. I thought about words. I thought about time and reminded myself that all good things can’t come at once — no matter how hard you work for them.

I thought good thoughts and woke up with a smile.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Trains and Lovers [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Categories

Trains and LoversAs I read most of Trains and Lovers (my second Random House read for June) on the subway, I could almost pretend that I was there with Kay, David, Hugh, and Andrew. Sitting across from them, listening intently to their stories of love and all of the different ways you can love someone. I even thought for a brief moment I saw a fleeting fishing boat outside the subway window — the boat that sparked the conversation between these unforgettable characters.

In Trains and Lovers, Alexander McCall Smith explores the nature of love—and trains—through a series of intertwined romantic tales. The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails…there’s something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. Which is just what happens to the 4 strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives.

I read this novel in black and white. Each scene appeared in my mind as a photo, a blurred moment that was barely captured. The edges of my book faded away as I got caught up in the story and the words came to life. Trains and Lovers is the most charming book I’ve read in a while. I’ve never read Alexander McCall Smith before but I will definitely check out his previous work in hopes to find some more of his quick wit, his real-life honesty, and his way of words. I love how he describes the most basic human interactions, the way he depicts love, and the way he frames so many little truths about humanity. You can easily see a piece of yourself in each of these characters and find it exciting to learn a bit more about them.

This book has its own little rhythm to it, it’s slightly poetic. At some points you’ll feel the swaying of the train and hear the screeching of the breaks, and you’ll hope that this little story isn’t quite finished. You have so much more to learn about these people, about life! I underlined so many wonderful quotes in this sweet and profound novel.

Each of us has his or her reasons, for making this journey, for being as we are, for continuing with the lives we lead; ordinary lives, of course, but touched here and there with moments of understanding and insight, and sheer marvel.” (Page 239)

This novel will fill you with many moments of understanding and insight. It will remind you of what a wonderfully amazing stupid thing love is. It will remind you that we all go through the same things, we do stupid things for love, and we all feel love in the same way — that’s what makes it so great. We’re all idiots. We’re all suckers for love.

We live and breathe love. Loving someone ‘is the good thing we do in our lives’.

Trains and Lovers comes out today – get on board!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

** Synopsis from the Random House of Canada Website **

Live. Laugh. Rest. You're only human.

Categories, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

It seems funny to me that on Sunday I found myself hunched over my laptop, my shoulders tweezed together with tension, my eyes focused, my brain working, and my fingers moving faster than my thoughts, when on Friday and Saturday I was hanging loosely like a towel on a hook. My entire body relaxed and limp, my brain unthinking, my nerves gone, my heartbeat back to its normal pace. Just hanging. Hanging out; I finally understand what that means. Friday night I had an impromptu girls night with my sister and cousin. I overdosed on dairy and sugar products, laughter, and chatter, and it felt good.

On Saturday I tried to read and write but instead I watched movies with my family and my boyfriend (Hotel Transylvania, The Words, and The Lorax). I thought of nothing, I wanted for nothing but the moment I was living in. I felt an intense kind of calm, one that I’ve only ever felt on vacation, when I’m far away from reality. Every time I thought about what had to be done on Sunday, I sliced that thought in two and kept slicing until it became nothing. I ate well and slept well, which allowed me to work well on Sunday.

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Life is a special occasion — make the most of it.

Allow yourself to rest, to feel, to slow down, to stop.

You’re only human, even though you act like a Superhero.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Live. Laugh. Rest. You’re only human.

Categories, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

It seems funny to me that on Sunday I found myself hunched over my laptop, my shoulders tweezed together with tension, my eyes focused, my brain working, and my fingers moving faster than my thoughts, when on Friday and Saturday I was hanging loosely like a towel on a hook. My entire body relaxed and limp, my brain unthinking, my nerves gone, my heartbeat back to its normal pace. Just hanging. Hanging out; I finally understand what that means. Friday night I had an impromptu girls night with my sister and cousin. I overdosed on dairy and sugar products, laughter, and chatter, and it felt good.

On Saturday I tried to read and write but instead I watched movies with my family and my boyfriend (Hotel Transylvania, The Words, and The Lorax). I thought of nothing, I wanted for nothing but the moment I was living in. I felt an intense kind of calm, one that I’ve only ever felt on vacation, when I’m far away from reality. Every time I thought about what had to be done on Sunday, I sliced that thought in two and kept slicing until it became nothing. I ate well and slept well, which allowed me to work well on Sunday.

IMG_3656

Life is a special occasion — make the most of it.

Allow yourself to rest, to feel, to slow down, to stop.

You’re only human, even though you act like a Superhero.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo