Oh Sunday, I love you!

Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

On Sunday, the sun shone through the blinds onto the kitchen counter and illuminated our quiet breakfast of toast, coffee, and our latest reads (a book for me and the CNN app on Alex’s phone). Alex looked at me and asked if I wanted to go out. We had no plan, no rhyme or reason to leave the house, but we did anyway. The sunshine filled us with excitement and warmth as we drove down to Of Things Past, a consignment store off of Dufferin. Since the purchase of our condo I can’t help but look anywhere and everywhere for future decor inspiration.


From decorative chandeliers to dinnerware and gorgeous sofas, Of Things Past has one-of-a-kind pieces that will really make your house stand out. I fell in love with a desk or two and promised myself to head back there when we start buying furniture. Next we went over to Yorkdale and spend some time window-shopping and chatting. I fell in love with a new (to me) store — Anthropologie. I adore their home decor and their clothing. Their stationery and journals are adorable, their aprons are so sweet, and their dinnerware is gorgeous! As we sat down and had lunch at Joey’s (which was delicious), I couldn’t get my mind off of that store and the goodies I could treat myself to!

I have to admit that the best part of my day wasn’t the delicious meal or cappuccino pictured above, it was spending the day with my boyfriend. He has this way of making me focus on the now rather than the unknown future. He always makes me smile and never forgets to tell me that I’m beautiful. He constantly reminds me that it’s the little things matter.

Wishing you a lovely week!

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo




Virgin [Book Review]

Book Reviews


I think I have found the ultimate beach read — and we still have a few good weeks of summer left so I’d say I’ve found it just in time. Virgin is a novel about a twenty-one-year old woman with her v-card fully intact. She’s had some pretty embarrassing sexual experiences and doesn’t really understand what to do with her pubes. Her name is Ellie and she’s just like us, you know the us we were before we lost our virginity, before we learned about what sex is and how to do it. Before we learned what a Brazilian is or what the acceptable skin- -to-pube ratio is for our downstairs. It brings you back to a time when all of our friends had “done it” and we were left on the outskirts, with fantasies clouding our minds, no boyfriend in reach and wondering when it would finally be our turn.

Radhika Sanghani — the twenty-three year old author — did a great job nailing (no pun intended) all of the insecurities young women go through when it comes to sex. Virgin is one of the funniest novels I’ve read all year. It’s sexy, witty, sassy, and incredibly real, you feel like you’re having a conversation with one of your girlfriends that entire time you’re reading. The characters are totally relatable and you might even be forced to remember some of your sexual fumbles/mistakes/indiscretions as you read about Ellie’s.

I’ll admit that this book won’t end up on my TOP 5 BOOKS OF 2014 list but it is extremely well-written and I love the honesty found within the pages. The author is screaming universal truths and I think that even though it is fiction, a lot of young woman can take away something from this novel, whether it’s a simple few hours of laughter or the knowledge that they are not alone in the futile attempts made to understand love, sex, and your own vagina.

So whoever you are, whether you lost your virginity twenty years ago or you still have it, just accept it. Embrace any STDs you may or may not have, along with the regrets, the disastrous stories, the heartbreak, the pain and the regret. Because if it weren’t for all of this stuff, life would be pretty dull.


– Quote from page 294 of Virgin


sometimes I write like this* #poetry

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


I’m running faster than anyone with legs has ever run before

that flying dust hitting your face, that splash of water that nearly missed you,

— that’s me.

I’m that blur beside you for a mere moment

and then that dot off in the distance

— the one you can barely see.

Some days I run toward you, some days I run away.

into your arms, so close I can feel your heart beat on my temple

— then I’m gone while you hug the empty air.

I try not to look back, your disappointment is too much to take

you wear it with pride, you accept me for who I am

— you’re not disappointed in me, just that I leave.

That I run blindly in the other direction when things get tough, when i’m afraid.

You know I’m better than that – and THAT is why I can’t face you.

So I run blindly in circles

— an endless race.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo Credit: We Heart It

Little Gestures

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal


A striking older man walked into the restaurant I work in, I mean a seriously handsome man. I’m talking Humphrey Bogart kind of good-looking, but with thick dirty blond hair, brown eyes, and professor-like glasses to boot. Anyways, he walked into my work on a mission and asked me if I remember what his wife and her friend order when they come in for coffee. I did, so he asked me to add two cupcakes to that order and handed me his debit card to pay. On his way out he asks me not to tell them who paid, “Tell them it’s from a secret admirer.”

The ladies LOVED it when I told them that their order had already been paid for. They blushed and giggled like two school girls, trying with everything in them to get me to tell them who paid for it. It was the nicest, sweetest, romantic gesture I’ve seen in a very long time. It takes five minutes to light up someone’s face. It takes five minutes to show someone how much you really love them. They say it’s the thought that counts, right? So, show the person you love that you’re thinking about them.


Thank you to that gentleman for showing me that romance can exist at any age.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

The girl who stopped living

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

When you read this, I’ll be in New York with one of my best friends! And while I’m exploring the city for a second time, shopping, and hopefully getting inspiration for a travel diary, I thought I’d leave you with a little poem. My first writing voice was a poetic one and I like to come back to it once in a while. They tend to be my most personal journal entries or blog posts, they always leave me feeling empty, spent, and satisfied. I hope you like it.

When Girl Meets Boy

The girl who stopped living

and the boy who just wanted to be alone

they met in the most unlikely place, filled with people, music and drinks overflown

The girl who stopped living (or perhaps never lived before)

forgot about her fears, her pain, and her insecures.

The boy who just wanted to be alone bumped into a girl

her bright brown eyes, so filled with life, caught him by surprise

— but he opened his palms and rolled the dice

“Hi” he breathed “can I get you a drink?”

A nod of her head and he could no longer think

red on her cheeks and he knew this was it

That evening they spent, attached at the hip

in the dark and quiet corner

whispering and things.

As the night turned to day, and the sun was born

the boy said goodbye to the girl, eyes still bright and warm

As she linked arms with her friends and strutted away,

the boy (for the very first time) felt lonely,

in the worst kind of way.


Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

* Poem written on October 27, 2013 by me (Vanessa Grillone), share with care or leave it be! *

This is my happiness.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I’m focussed on the present and instead of letting the moments, minutes, and hours pass by, I’m being conscious of what’s going on. I’m making an effort to notice when I feel happy, who I’m with, and what I’m doing. Visiting, eating, and spur of the moment dates are my happiness. A hand-held stroll leading to a phones-less lunch and conversation with my boyfriend, enjoying a wonderful meal, seeing him smile, that is my happiness. An unplanned mall and coffee date with my sister, reading a book to my niece for the first time, that is my happiness. Watching her eyes scan the cardboard pages, noticing all of the wonderful colours in front of her eyes, seeing her chubby perfect hand reach up and grab the bottom corner of the page I’m reading, as if to help me turn it, that is my happiness. Chatting with my best friend, knowing that she knows everything about me and is STILL my friend, that is my happiness. Spending time with my family, watching a scary film, and hearing their reactions to different scenes, that is my happiness. Human interaction is an amazing thing… so is love.


The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo 

Bursting the Bubble [Week 11]

Bursting the Bubble, Toronto Adventures

Yes, you read that correctly, I just finished WEEK ELEVEN of my internship — next week is the final week. But before I dwell on the sadness that envelopes my heart at the thought of that, I’ll tell you what happened this week.

Random House of Canada, Chatelaine Magazine, and Flare Magazine teamed up to celebrate the launch of Crazy Rich Asians at the Shangri-La Hotel on Tuesday. Although I’m still an intern, I got to attend as a blogger which meant I received a wicked gift bag at the end of the evening. This launch was by far the swankiest I’ve attended. The hotel is GORGEOUS and the Museum room was perfect for the event — plus the hotel is mentioned a few times throughout the novel, so why not!

I started the night out with the signature drink: Shangri-La Lemonade. A delicious concoction of vodka, cranberry juice, ginger, orange juice, and soda. Then I mingled with my fellow bloggers and watched the room get pretty packed with both book people and magazine people. It was great to attend an event where the two worlds intertwined. Kevin Kwan took the stage, as did the publisher of Doubleday Canada, and two seriously fashion forward ladies from Chatelaine and Flare – which was my favourite part of the evening. Kevin Kwan gave a sweet, sincere, and witty speech, mentioning his love for Canada and his gratitude for Canadians who love to read!

Week 11 was FULL of binding and mailings but just as full of good weather, hard work, and a few laughs. I love working with positive, passionate, and upbeat people who listen, answer, and understand. Everyone has taught me something about the world of publishing and I am so glad I decided to come into this internship with an open mind and all the energy and passion needed to back it up. I now understand why internships are so important and how great they can be if you give your all.

Also, this week I’ve been preparing for interviews (that I hope will come up). I’ve been sending out my resume, gathering references, and researching all I possibly can about interviews to ensure that I make a great first impression. This internship has made me want to work, to start a career, and to devote my energy, time, and passion to a job I enjoy.

largeIt’s also helped me appreciate many of the people in my life. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but my family waits for me every single night to eat dinner with them. I get home anywhere between 6:35 and 7:10, and for a family who used to eat dinner at 6:00 on the nose, eating at 7:00 would normally cause a serious kind of HANGER. Even if they’re hangry, they don’t mention it. We eat together and discuss our days and they ALWAYS listen to my stories and to my anxious yammering (even my 16-year-old brother who probably doesn’t care at all). Getting home and talking to my family makes the subway delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 400 disappear. I definitely appreciate the bf and my best friend a lot more too — I don’t see them as often as I’d like and when I do, I usually fall asleep! I always miss them and I appreciate their encouragement and their constant belief in me — I owe you two, forever!

Next week is my final week as a publicity intern at Random House of Canada. I’m a little sad at the prospect but you never really know where life is going to take you. It will be the end of a three-month chapter but the beginning of something else too.

I feel like I’m on the edge of glory.

I know that I’ll have to make a leap to something bigger? different? and I have less than a week to do it…

Here goes nothing!

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.


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 **

Bursting the Bubble [Week 8]

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time

photo 2The fact that I get to see the publishing world as an intern, book lover, aspiring writer, AND book blogger is something that amazes me week after week. I’m starting to understand just how important this internship is and I am so thankful that I have still have about four weeks left!

This week I went to an author event and a few stock signings with my wonderful colleague Anne, Rhidian Brook (author of The Aftermath), and his lovely daughter. We started at The Novel Spot in Etobicoke, where Rhidian signed books and answered questions. This is where I learned that writers should also be great speakers. Having a great sense of humor and a true belief in your story can really engage your crowd. During Rhidian’s talk, he was challenged by someone who read his book. The gentleman wondered if Rhidian had maybe gone too far, to which Rhidian replied, Thats what writers do. They spin plates and see how much they can get away with. I love that line.

That evening I attended our monthly Indigo Bookseller Reception but you can read more about that on the Retreat website next week.

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend a blogger lunch with Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and photo 1the Cursed. I love blogger events like this, they’re small and intimate which allows for the chance to really get to know the author. Page (or should I say Angie — Page is her pen name) answered any question we asked, chatted about various books she’s read, gave us some behind-the-scenes stories from novel-writing, and signed all of our books.

So after all of the fun events this week and the weeks prior, what am I feeling? A little nervous as the job-search has begun but mostly I feel guilty. I swear the printer spews out pages and sounds like a beating heart. If you start the binding machine at the same time, the sound bangs through each beat. Yesterday I thought, now that is the sound of a heart breaking.

Am I the one breaking hearts?

Well, I have been 110% committed to this internship and I don’t really make time for anything else. To make things worse, my family is amazing (yes you read that right). No matter what time I get home, be it 6:15 or 7:00– my family is waiting for me to have dinner with them. I sure as heck wouldn’t wait, not if I was starving.

My VERY pregnant sister never says anything when all I talk about is what happened at work, or what author I met, or what book I brought home. She lets me gab and gab and doesn’t seem the least bit phased if I forget to ask her about her day.

And my boyfriend, that wonderful man, who comes over during the week, knowing very well that I have to eat dinner, workout, and shower before I spend a second with him. Who doesn’t get mad when I fall asleep within five minutes of sitting down in front of the TV. I would probably go into full insecure-girlfriend-mode and freak on him for not putting me at least 2nd.

The only one who seems to be holding a grudge is my dog, who doesn’t even come to the door to say hi when I get home. I give him treats to sweeten him up though 😉

So, what can a girl do in this situation but give thanks: Mom, Dad, Joseph, Jessica, Alex, and Waffles — I’m sorry for being so selfish lately. Thank you for understanding, for being there, and for loving me. Thank you for believing in me and thank you for not making me feel guilty.

This guilt is all my own creation and with every beat of that printer, I’m learning from it.

There’s got to be a balance somewhere and I will work hard to find it.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

P.S. Amanda featured me as her latest Everyday Beauty — check it out HERE.