The Bride’s Diary – The Bridal Party

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

The Bride's Diary

Before I got engaged I promised myself that I would never have a bridal party. It is a HUGE honour to be in someone’s bridal party and to have a special status on your cousin’s, sister’s, or friend’s special day but it’s also time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes a pain in the ass for the maids. I’d complained enough times about being in a bridal party that I thought it would be hypocritical if I actually had one. There’s also the whole choosing people to be in your bridal party without offending anyone else.

As with many things I’ve encountered during the wedding-planning process, I had a change of heart and mind. Originally our kind-of-bridal-party consisted of my sister, brother, and two of Alex’s closest cousins, but I have two cousins that I’m especially close with. Cousins that I consider to be more like sisters. The memories we share are countless, the laughter unparalleled, and fights the epitome of epic. I grew up with them and the more I pictured our wedding day, the more I realized how much I needed them by my side.

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ll recognize the faces below. If not, I’d like to introduce you to my lovely little half of the bridal party. From left to right: my sister, me, Sarah, and Ashley. These women are my go-to for support, fun, and gossip and I am so happy that I changed my mind.

IMG_4937When choosing a bridal party I would suggest keeping it small and intimate. Pick people who know you better than anyone else, people you can count on no matter what. Pick women and men that bring out the best part of you, the people who love you for being weirdly awesome. Pick the baddest bitches you know.

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Love Always,

Vanessa Xo 

Saturdays at 8 A.M.

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Alex and I love going on drives and checking out little townships within Ontario. This weekend he had the urge to show me the cottage he went to as a child. The two-hour drive was the perfect way to start off the day. Nothing relaxes me like new scenery, a car ride, and great music.

 

With the cool breeze coming off Georgian Bay and the sun on our backs, we walked the beach and skipped rocks like children. We walked the trails and absorbed everything that is wonderful about NOT being in an office for the day.  I cannot wait for summer days in the city or long drives up at Alex’s family camper, or even exploring new townships and cities within our beautiful province.

I really wish that there were weeks made up entirely of Saturdays; the calmness in knowing that all twenty-four hours belongs to you. The wonder in what you can do with that time, the happiness in understanding that you worked hard all week and deserve some R&R.

 

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Children are the BEST Teachers

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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In eighteen months I’ve learned more about life from my niece than I have from adults in the twenty-six years I have been alive. This is nothing against the adults in my life, it’s just the simple truth: children are the best teachers. Let me explain…

On Saturday, I helped my niece put on her pink running shoes, jean jacket, and GAP baseball cap. She took my hand in hers and tugged me to the park near my parents’ house. When we arrived, she climbed the jungle gym with confidence and slid down the yellow germ-filled slide with wonder in her eyes. I slid down the slide beside her and for the first time in years I remembered what it felt like to have the purest form of fun. The fresh air in my face, the warm sun on my back, and my niece’s giddy laughter made me forget the world, my phone, and the time.

After the slide she ran over to the swing and yelled “HIGH! HIGH!” — being the great aunt that I am, I obliged and pushed her on the swing for over an hour. She sat there smiling, thinking thoughts I wish I could hear. Time slowed down and I felt completely relaxed. In that hour or so that I spent at the park with my niece, she taught me to live, to play, and to enjoy every moment. To reach higher, to laugh when I leave the ground, to let fear fall in the face of adventure, and to love unconditionally; without question.

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Always a Bridesmaid [Family Wedding]

Family Time

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Even after all of the prep, the early morning, the two hours spent doing my hair and makeup, and a few sleepless nights filled with nightmares of being late for the wedding, not shaving my armpits, and even getting into a fight with the other bridesmaids, watching my cousin marry one of my best friends brought me to tears. In fairness, weddings tend to bring out my sentimental side, no matter how hard I try to disguise it, you’ll find me weeping at the head table, or trying to blend in behind the crowd watching the father-daughter dance. I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for love, new love, old love, family love, I can’t get enough of it.

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Last year I would have said “I’m not getting married. Ever,” but yesterday as I danced with the love of my life, I thought someday, someday I’d like to be your wife. I’m still not for traditional weddings but one day when things fall into place I would love to be surrounded by my closest family and friends and say I do to the only man who accepts everything that I am.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe

Congratulations to my cousin and one of my best friends in the whole-wide-world. Wishing you nothing but love and happiness, forever and always. Thank you for letting me be part of your special day ❤

– Vanessa

Sunday Morning Antiquing

Family Time, Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands

Mom and I took a drive over to Inglewood Antique Market on Sunday morning. The sun beamed as we rode along back street after back street. We passed roads that lead to my high school, a pizza place on Airport Road that we frequented, and a restaurant we saw on You Gotta Eat Here that we went to as a family. Memories everywhere, a reminder of how far I’ve come since I last drove on those roads, the friends I still have and the ones that didn’t last. Highway 10 is a gorgeous sight in the Fall, trees as far as the eyes can see on either side of the road, changing from lush green to a burning red and fiery orange. It smells like change.

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We pulled up to the market and were greeted by an orange cat looking to cuddle and an elderly man with a long nose, white hair, a gentle smile, and a spring in his step. I didn’t take many photos because there was so much to look at. Mirrors, vintage luggage, typewriters, chairs, tables, old milk bottles, tea sets, purses, books, toys, beautiful dressers, jewelry, and tonnes of unique pieces for the home. The prices were amazing and the product in such incredible condition, you can tell that the owners take pride in what they bring into their market. My mom was amazed at all of the treasures we found and we plan to go back when it’s time to buy Christmas gifts.

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“Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.” 
— Josh Lanyon
Talk soon,
Vanessa Xo

 

Lesson Learned: Don’t Half-Ass your Life

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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It’s a little-known fact that my mother and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, and yet I’m more like her than my father. I might shrug off her bits of advice and pretend that I don’t care what she thinks, but the truth is that her acceptance and wisdom mean a lot to me. My mom has this way of always doing things perfectly, she puts 100% of effort into everything she does. Whether it’s making dinner, grocery shopping, or reading to my niece, she never looks for a short cut. My mother is always put together. She ALWAYS has a pair of earrings on, long mascaraed lashes, and combed hair, even if she’s walking out of the house in track pants. If my mother had a mantra or a set of guidelines for life, it would look something like this:

Don’t half-ass your life.
Do things the right way, not the easy way.
Clean your room, make sure your clothes match, put on some mascara.
We might not be rich, but we can be presentable. 
Don’t do it for anyone else, Do it for you. 
Take pride in your life. 

Whenever I feel like giving up or convince myself that going out in a ratty sweater and old track pants is okay, my mom’s voice pops into my head, altering my choices. If you can’t show up to your own life and give 150% every single day, nothing awesome will ever happen. I think my mom is my number one (silent) supporter. She believes in me and knows my potential more than anyone else — it may have something to do with me living in her uterus for nine months.

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When I’m feeling uninspired, self-conscious, and down about my life choices, she sends me little notes of inspiration and positivity. When I don’t believe in myself, she does. When I don’t do my very best, she pushes me to. There’s no way that a daughter of hers is going to waste her life, or half-ass her dreams. She might seem like an overbearing mother, a nag even, but she’s my nag and when her green eyes burst with passion and her hands start flailing, I know she’s about to tell me one of those secrets to life, and I listen with an open heart.

Talk soon,
Vanessa

Isabelle’s First Birthday

Family Time

My god-daughter turned one this weekend, as I’m sure you noticed on my Instagram account. We celebrated her birthday at a park in Woodbridge with family and friends. I never realize how much is involved preparing for events like this until I have to be apart of them. Jessica, Richard, and my mom prepared all of the food and salads while the rest of us were on decoration duty at the park.

Isabelle, dressed in a flapper’s kind of romper, ballet slippers, and a beautiful headpiece was the life of the party. She spent a little time with everyone that attended, ran around with her little zombie arms stretched out in front of her, and danced at the first hint of a song being sung.

photo 3Is it wrong to wish that she never grows up? Sometimes I look at her and think You’ve got your entire life in front of you baby girl, don’t rush it! Watching her grow and change so much in only a year has been a wonderful gift. It blows my mind how she understands things. She knows who she’s “talking” to, she recognizes songs and movies, she can even say a few words. She’s at the age/phase where she imitates everyone, she wants to say what they say and do what they do. She loves to share but will tease you with kisses. When she actually wants to cuddle, her body becomes a little heavy marshmallow that you never want to let go of.

1560767_10152528291636084_8102617684228122907_nShe hates when you sing Happy Birthday to her — she shakes her head and keeps saying no! But she has no issue with eating the frosting off of her cake. Baby Girl loves cake and her family. I’m always wondering what she’s thinking and I cannot wait until she can tell me exactly what is on her mind. I can’t wait to take her to shows, bring her to the zoo, take her on the subway with me, take her shopping, or take her to the bookstore. But wait, let me slow down a bit and enjoy her for what and who she is now, a beautiful little one year old with nothing but happiness in her big brown eyes.

“You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a basket.”
― Lish McBrideHold Me Closer, Necromancer

Vanessa Xo

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

Only two sisters can understand the complexities and varying shades of their relationship. There are times when you love each other, times when you hate each other, times when jealousy rears its ugly head, and times when you are so proud of your sister it overwhelms you. A sister is the only person who might be confused by what you’re doing and may not even understand why you’re doing it  BUT they still know WHO you are. A sister, if you’re lucky, is your best friend even when she is your worst enemy.

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I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister is 146 pages of truth. Amelie Sarn captures the essence of having a sister and mixes it in with the taboo subject of religion. Djelila and Sohane once shared everything, beliefs, adventures, and dreams but somewhere along the line Djelila began to walk a different path from her sister. She no longer abided by or even believed in her religion, she no longer needed her older sister to save her. Just as her sister’s beliefs melted away, Sohane’s beliefs grew stronger.

Sohane starts wearing a head scarf, her school insists that she remove it or she’ll be expelled. Meanwhile, Djelila is repeatedly harassed by neighborhood bullies for not following Muslim customs. Sohane can’t help thinking that Djelila deserves what she gets. She never could have imagined just how far things would go.

Tragedy strikes and Sohane is left to pick up the pieces of her own heart. With poetic integrity I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister had me on the edge of my seat and on the brink of tears. You don’t have to have a sister to understand or feel the truths that this book shines light on, all you have to do is have an open mind.

When mom and dad don’t understand, a sister always will. ~Author Unknown

Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

greatness and all that jazz

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

piclabThursday was a perfect day for walking around the streets of Toronto with one of my favourite girlies in all the land. I invited my brother’s girlfriend, Christine, to accompany me to the Chapters Indigo media preview. Although she’s been dating my brother for years we’ve never spent much time together, so when I went to pick her up I was a little nervous. I’m always scared that I’ll be awkward or run out of things to say to people but I was happily surprised when we literally could not stop talking!

I think one reason we get along so well is because we are a lot alike. We crave adventure, we’re ambitious, we’re quiet and yet can’t stop talking when we’re with people we like spending time with. We keep things to ourselves but are learning to speak our minds. We love our families, boyfriends, friends, and even books. We’re tired of saying yes to people who don’t appreciate us and have made a pact to not do things that make us unhappy just to make someone else happy.

As our chatting continued, my nervous energy melted away and we were both able to enjoy an evening in the city. We walked to Chapters Indigo head office and then over to The Store On Queen so I could pick up a pair of pants I ordered (I was super bummed that I didn’t get to meet Hubby and Wifey), and finally headed to the O&B Canteen for a bite to eat (dinner was delicious by the way).

IMG_7516IMG_7517IMG_7520 IMG_7553I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — I LOVE BEING DOWNTOWN. The hustle and bustle makes me feel alive. The murmur of various conversations, the sardine-packed sidewalks, the endless rows of great shops and fabulous restaurants is so different from anything I experience on a day-to-day basis. King Street West is my favourite part of the city — it’s familiar and foreign. I can navigate that block pretty well and still see something new every time I walk it. I feel like I belong in the city, I should be walking home from work, grabbing an early drink or a late latte with my boyfriend, friends, or solo. 

What is about the city that makes me feel great? Is it just Toronto or all cities that make me feel like I can do anything, be anyone, and achieve my biggest dreams? An important part of this feeling is surrounding myself with people who feel the same way, or who at very least believe that I am capable of all those things. People who think I am great and that I can achieve greatness. Thank you to all of those people.

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 Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo