CHRISTMAS BREAK

Lifestyle/Personal

Dear Friends, Family, and lovely Readers,

As Christmas is coming close and a new year is soon to start, I wanted to just say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your comments and reading of my little writing blog, has filled my heart with passion and gotten rid of all the slog. I know I said that December 31st would be THE END but I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to all of my friends. My Pen, My Voice is alive and well, and in 2015 I’ll have some new things to tell. It’s true that this post will be the last one of the year; I need a little break from tech and my blog, to focus on things that don’t require me to “log on”. I’ll still be on Instagram and you know I love Twitter, but My Pen, My Voice will be quiet this winter (well until January 2015). So from my lips to yours, I’m blowing you a kiss, wishing you the very best Christmas and a spectacular New Year’s!

– Vanessa

Joyful Traditions [Chapters Indigo Media Preview]

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

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It was Christmas in July as me and my date walked into the Chapters Indigo head office last night. The white room was decked out in beautifully decorated Christmas trees, a giant sleigh, books galore, and some delicious holiday treats. According to one of the Chapters associates, the inspiration behind this holiday’s preview was Joyful Traditions. The room was split up between cozy Christmas cabin theme (fur, red, black, grey, camel, ivory, and charcoal colours) and Christmas in the city (icy winter pastels, white, gold, silver, and bronze).

I loved the cozy cottage look and was ready to take a nap in the sleigh filled with pillows. They’ve got some fantastic throw pillows coming up this Holiday, I’m thinking of purchasing one for my cousin and best friend. I paused a little longer than deemed normal at their fabulous desk section filled with beautiful journals, witty mugs, and chic pens. I also loved all of their travel items — beautiful passport holders, a cute case with tweezers and manicure essentials, a jewellery roll, and even sleeping masks.

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Along with all of these goodies there were tonnes of books to take a look at. There are so many great books being published this holiday season. I am most looking forward to Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham but I also can’t wait to grab a copy of The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion. I received an ARC of A Sudden Light by Garth Stein yesterday which was one of the books on their shelf too.

What I love about Chapters, apart from the books of course, is the range of products that they carry and the simplistic elegance of everything they sell. They have everything from mugs to great vegan totes, DIY drink kits, scarves, wallets, gourmet sweets, and even some pretty sweet tech gadgets! You can find everything you need and want in one place.

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Thank you to Indigo for inviting me to such a great event! I’ve never been to one of your media previews and I am happy to say that you’ve got me itching to do some major shopping when these products launch!

Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

My Grown-Up Christmas

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures, Uncategorized

When you grow up Christmas is less about the presents and more about time spent with the ones you love. It’s more about having an intense debate with a family member, or a great conversation over a glass of wine. It’s more about relaxing, enjoying, and maybe even reminiscing over years gone by. It’s more about learning new words (diatribe) and making plans. It’s about making your niece laugh, making your cousin smile, and appreciating every single gift received. It’s also about wonderful surprises, like this one:

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Remember that girl I went to New York with, one of my besties since the tenth grade? Well, her and my cousin got engaged this Christmas and I couldn’t be more thrilled! And while I used to be all:

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Now I’m all:

“YOU’RE ENGAGED (and/or) PREGNANT?”

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And then I end up like this…

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 I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be exciting and extremely busy! No one ever said that growing up would be easy, in fact they said it would be really hard but what they forgot to mention is how wonderful it is to grow up with amazing people. To share and witness all of their milestones and to have their support through all of yours.

Bring on a new year, I’m ready.

Talk soon, 

Vanessa Xo

 

Part of the Machine: Anchors, Goals, and a New Year on the Horizon

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

 

 

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Between watching the film Hugo and re-reading Minimalism: how to live a meaningful life, I’m feeling very reflective. I’m all over the place this week, perhaps it’s the combination of those two creative works and another year coming to an end. Between trying to figure out what my anchors are (what is keeping me stagnant, what is keeping me from becoming passionate and happy and creative) and trying to figure out my purpose, I’m also trying to make goals for the year to come.

My anchors start with my current job, gel with my fears and anxiety, and blend with my constant want of things. My purpose, my reason for being here, that’s a little trickier to figure out. I know that I want to do something meaningful with my life, I know that I want to make a difference in someone else’s life but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Goals for the year to come: get rid of my anchors, I’m tired of being weighed down. Get rid of all those things I don’t need or use and to stop wanting more of them. To start having adventures and stop wanting purses or shoes or new gadgets. To spend time at the library, pick up books at random and LEARN (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT I DON’T OWN A LIBRARY CARD?). To make more TIME for what I love, who I love, and all of the activities I’ve wanted to try.

So there it is, another list that will be lost in this unending world of blogs. A list not so different from the one I made last year. The reason I didn’t stick to that list is simple: I didn’t want it enough. If I don’t stick to the list above, I’ll never become the person I know I can be.

I know that’s a lot to take in on Christmas Eve at 8:00 a.m. and I should be watching The Grinch or something instead, but I had to get that all out before I felt like celebrating. Before I could wish you all a Merry Christmas indeed. I hope you spend the holiday’s with people you love, I hope you enjoy every single moment and aren’t glued to your cell phone (note to self). I hope it’s the perfect ending to a terrific year.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 

Document this.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Since before I can remember I’ve been obsessed with documenting –  discovering various social media outlets, starting my blog, tweeting, and Instagramming has just made it that much easier. I love snapping photos, recapping events (personal and otherwise), and sharing my thoughts. I don’t really know why, part of it is to remember and part of it is finding a creative outlet. Christmas is a wonderful time to document, there’s magic around every corner with snow sparking as it falls, there are lights on every house, and decorations in every store. There’s something about Christmas time that makes you want to smile a little bit more.

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In spite of the frost on my windshield I’m seeing everything a little more clearly and as Christmas gets closer my heart is oozing with excitement and warmth. Since the beginning of the Holiday season I’ve celebrated life and death, sadness and joy but there is one thing I’m learning from it all: life is too short to be afraid or miserable. Christmas is about appreciating the year that you’ve had, reflecting on what you’ve accomplished and making goals for the year to come. It’s about spreading love and happiness and appreciating the people you have in your life. It’s the sudden reminder that the year is almost up and once again it went by too fast, but it’s up to you to make the most of the next one.

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Wishing you a Merry Christmas — just in case we don’t talk before then.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo 

Dinner with Santa @ToEatonCentre

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago I won a private dinner with 9 of my friends in Santa’s Log Cabin (thanks to My Fash Avenue). The cabin is located just outside the Eaton Centre, downtown Toronto. I chose to spend the evening with my sister, a few of my cousins, my cousin’s two-year-old daughter, and my best friend. After the missions we pulled getting there (Toronto’s subway system doesn’t really accommodate strollers), we stepped out into the crisp winter evening and spotted Santa’s Cabin. Excitement filled our lungs as we snapped photos of what would be our personal cabin for the next few hours.

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The cabin was exactly how I pictured it, warm and toasty, stocked with gifts, toys, a work station, and the most beautiful Christmas tree I’ve ever laid my eyes on. We sat down to a beautifully set table in the middle of the cabin and did what we do best, eat and talk. It’s not very often that we can all find a day to get together and to have most of my favourite people at one table was truly magical. Call me crazy but I think it was a Christmas miracle.

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After a delicious meal catered by Trattoria Mercatto, we waited patiently for Santa.

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His arrival was epic.

My cousin’s daughter became serene and silent, playing shy at first, but she answered Santa’s questions with thought and precision. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of Santa, seriously I don’t think she let herself blink!

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The best part of the evening was not the food, or jolly old Santa, or the delicious desserts that ended the evening, the best part was spending time with my family and best friend. There were no distractions. There was no drama. Only laughter and smiles all around. It felt so good to spend time with my family, I may have even teared up a few times that evening (my heart grew two sizes that night). There was something entirely magical about the experience, it reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas, and I’ll never forget it.

Thank you to Deanne from My Fash Avenue, the Toronto Eaton Centre, Trattoria Mercatto, and the PR mavens that made the evening possible.

And to my dinner guests…

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

@PenguinCanada's Daily December Delights!

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

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I’m super excited to be part of Penguin Canada’s Daily December Delightswhere YOU (an avid reader and awesome individual) will be introduced to a different book every day of the month! Not only that but you can enter to win a copy of these books every day! There’s also a chance to win a $750 Library from Penguin — talk about a Happy Holiday! Myself and many other wonderful bloggers will be reviewing the featured books to help you narrow down which title is perfect for you!

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Get ready to Rock and Roll READ!

We’re already on day THREE!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

@PenguinCanada’s Daily December Delights!

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

BloggerBadge_Penguin

I’m super excited to be part of Penguin Canada’s Daily December Delightswhere YOU (an avid reader and awesome individual) will be introduced to a different book every day of the month! Not only that but you can enter to win a copy of these books every day! There’s also a chance to win a $750 Library from Penguin — talk about a Happy Holiday! Myself and many other wonderful bloggers will be reviewing the featured books to help you narrow down which title is perfect for you!

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Get ready to Rock and Roll READ!

We’re already on day THREE!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

HARD WORK AND DEDICATION THIS DECEMBER

Lifestyle/Personal

I think I’ve found a way to combat the Winter blues without maxing out my credit card or eating tub after tub of ice cream: KEEP ACTIVE AND SMILE! Instead of swelling on the things that aren’t going right or the things that are weighing you down, go out and do something else. I’ve spent an entire week with a frown on my face, walking around like some spoiled sour puss, complaining about a number of things when I really should be doing something. Instead of complaining about the difficulty I’m having finding a job, I should be looking for ways to improve my resume and myself. So I’ve signed up for a Marketing course and I’m going out and networking. I’m going to broaden my horizons and work harder than I ever have.

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…or at least that’s the plan. Instead of getting upset at the first sign of struggle or defeat, I’ll use it to motivate me. I’ll forget about all of the timelines I made for myself, I’ll forget about rushing to “start my life” and I’ll focus on making myself better NOW. Because when you’re your own reason to smile, no one can wipe it off your face!

Here’s to a a wonderful December full of laughter, love, family, HARD WORK, and DEDICATION.

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Vanessa Xo

 

Saying Merry Christmas

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….” 
― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas

I’ve had a thing for Tiny Prints since my sister’s baby shower. She purchased her baby shower invitations and her both announcements from them and she keeps going back for every event that comes up. Seeing as how Christmas is only a month away, my sister has been looking for the PERFECT Christmas greeting card (Tiny Prints once again). Here are a few of my favourite! You can see them all here.

I love receiving Christmas cards, ones with personal notes in them are my favourite. Every year without fail I receive a Christmas card from one of my girlfriends from high school. It’s always filled with well-wishes, inspirational thoughts, and an update on her life (since I see her once every few years). It’s her card that really gets me into the Christmas spirit. It’s her card that reminds me what Christmas is all about! With email and text messages at every turn, a handwritten card is one way to show the people you love that you do, in fact, love them. It shows them that they’re worth the extra little bit of effort, that YOU thought of THEM while writing their card. That’s why I always include a card with every gift I give.

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” 
― Bob Hope

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo