Coffee Shop Thoughts

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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Nervous legs twitch beneath every coffee table in my peripheral. The entire cafe takes another sip of their foamy, double-shot cappuccinos and put down their cups in unison as I breathe a sigh of relief. Their nervous ticks and hipster shades soothe me. After an intense conversation with a fellow writer/friend I see my life, my decisions, my writing, and my blog in a new light. Ideas of substance burst into flames when under intense pressure. It’s time to diminish the stress and thrive on new thoughts and different ventures. I’ve tried this before and failed quite successfully but I deserve a second chance.

This doesn’t mean you won’t hear from me at all.

It just means that I have to put a few other things first.

Talk soon,
Vanessa

Credo quia impossibile… [NEW MANTRA]

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

Credo quia impossibile…

I believe it because it is impossible…

I found that Latin phrase on the signed copy of Cloud by Eric McCormack that I won from The Cooke Agency via Twitter. Can a phrase like that be a mantra because if so, it’s mine now. Over the last few years (like many other university graduates) I’ve struggled to start my career. My dreams include working for a publishing company or other bookish establishment and living in the heart of Toronto (with the bf), while writing freelance articles and keeping up with my blog. Right now I’m unemployed,  living with my parents at least 50 minutes from the city, and yes still blogging and freelancing. My dreams seem anything but possible from where I’m sitting, and yet I can’t stop believing that one day it will happen. I don’t think that my dreams are too big, or impossible, or crazy, I just need to keep trying and hope for a bit of luck to come my way…

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One day I’ll be able to miss this view…

ENJOY LIFE AND KICK ASS, 
VANESSA XX

* Photo taken with the Nokia Lumia 1020!

stop dickering around.

Lifestyle/Personal

I LOVE spending Sundays in Toronto, well in all honesty I love ANYTIME in Toronto. With every corner you turn you can see something new. It’s my kind of bliss — tiny adventures a block at a time. Yesterday afternoon I went to Gusto 101 with the bf and cousins. We sat on the patio and were pummelled with sunshine — it felt great. I had the burger and a glass of their white wine that’s on tap ($1 an ounce!) my mouth is still salivating. Whenever I’m in the city I tend to think big thoughts, dream big dreams. Everything about Toronto is so much BIGGER and FASTER than anything in Bolton.

This is how it is, you’re stagnant for so long and then all of a sudden everything happens at once. All of a sudden your dreams shift and mould into something completely different. All of a sudden life is catching up to you and you can’t seem to understand how quickly you turned twenty-five. You feel like you were nineteen last week instead of six years ago. All of a sudden every single choice you make has an immediate result and impact on your life. All of a sudden you’ve got to stop dickering around and grow the eff up.

IMG_7942I’m not the type to dick around. I want different things than I wanted last year and I’ve got to work hard in order to get them. Patience is a virtue but persistence is a necessity. Changes are immediate, with no end in sight. I don’t want to press pause, rewind, or even fast forward because I’m enjoying the uncertainty of my life right now. My story is just getting interesting…

ENJOY LIFE AND KICK ASS, 
VANESSA XX

 

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

i saw the sign

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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Sometimes things happen that you can’t explain. Moments occur that leave you curious, shocked, and with a perpetual look of confusion on your face. At work the other day I said something to a customer (an older George Clooney kind of man) about how women usually listen to their friend’s orders and follow their lead, not men. He replied with big eyes and lifted brows, “It’s 2014 — don’t get stuck thinking like that. This is Bolton, those people patterns don’t stick anywhere else. You need to get to the city, then maybe to London, see other places. Don’t get stuck in this kind of thinking — it’s just Bolton.”

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Am I THAT transparent? I served this man his pizza feeling utterly naked, completely stripped to the core with nowhere to run or hide. I have never felt so naive or narrow-minded in my life. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but when a first-time customer drops a mind-blowing bomb like that, you can’t help but take notice. Could this be a sign? A BIG RED STOP SIGN APPEARING OUT OF THIN AIR (OR AIR THAT SMELLS LIKE A COOKED PIZZA)? I THINK IT IS!

“You are doing all right. You are a good little soldier. You are feeling sad now because it is wartime. You are engaged in the greatest battle of them all: the battle to be yourself. It is the ugliest battle.”

— THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

who would i be if…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

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As I walked the streets of Toronto last weekend I couldn’t help but wonder how my life (and myself) would have been different if I grew up in the city. I see young families often when I talk into hipster coffee shops — the children have this air about them, a confidence, an independence that I don’t think living in the ‘burbs offers a person.

I was seven when we moved from Etobicoke to Bolton, which is way up north (it’s really not that far from the city). For the next sixteen years I lived in a quaint little bubble — free of sex (I didn’t know what a blow job was until I graduated from high school), drugs, homeless people, dark and scary alleyways, and yes, rock n’ roll. I went on the subway by myself for the first time at the age of twenty-three, when I got an internship downtown Toronto at Random House of Canada. I still don’t get most dirty jokes, I’m as “innocent and naive” as they come, sometimes I can be a little narrow-minded and a little afraid to broaden my horizons.

What would I be like if I were a born and bred city girl? Would I be braver or more independent? Would I be more street smart than book smart? Would I love the city and hate the ‘burbs? Or the other way around? Would I be as passionate about Toronto and travel as I am now? Would I be living the “artist life” in a cramped apartment on top of a store on Queen West, working at a local pub at night, writing during the day and trying desperately to make ends meet?

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No one knows. I can picture myself in a bunch of different scenarios but that is simply my imagination running wild. The fact of the matter is that I am who I am. Where I grew up had a lot to do with the woman I’ve become BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t spread my wings a little. The best part about knowing who you are, and I mean really admitting to the faults and follies, is that you can work on them. You can become a better you. I can be that small town girl who loves heading farther up north just as much as she loves roaming the city streets. There is no one or the other, there is no black or white, but a million shades of grey (I can’t even tell you how many shades of red I turned reading that book :P).

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Adventures great and small

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Adventures great and small are yours for the taking, anytime and anywhere you decide to sit back and open your eyes. Whether the adventure includes a 40 minute drive or an 8 hour flight, your life can change (or at very least your attitude) dramatically.

IMG_0336 IMG_0337 IMG_0338 IMG_0340The sticky summer sun shone brightly as we ventured the streets of Toronto, walking through parks, taking photos, stopping by St. Lawrence Market, and even grabbing a couple of beers and cosmos before dinner. A simple little Saturday that was so out of our norm, it felt like an adventure. The streets we roamed were familiar since I walked them often while interning but with a hand to hold it felt new and fresh.

I think the key to enjoying every single “normal” day is to do one or two things differently. Eat somewhere new, take a walk some place you’ve never been, take a long drive way up north, and travel. But always remember to go places you want to go and do the things you want to do, don’t do things because you think you should. Any adventure, great or small, is an adventure worth having after all.

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Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

@Paintlounge with my besties #mybrushmyvoice

Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

My besties and I went to Paintlounge in Toronto on Saturday evening. We walked into a bright lit room filed with chocolate brown easels covered in paint. At the far back of the room we found a table filled with different paints, brushes, sponges, blow driers, chalk, and everything else needed to create a masterpiece. Plus a little cafe where you can purchase a tea or coffee while you paint.

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I want a purse that looks like this ^ — where can I find one?

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My besties and I jumped right in, picking out our canvases, grabbing our supplies, and putting on aprons. For a few minutes we stared at our blank canvases, not knowing what to do or how to go about it. “I’m getting anxiety over this,” is something you might have overheard one of us say. We all have Type A personalities, so we felt like we needed to plan our artwork, to sketch it out, to be able to erase our mistakes. Eventually we let go, and painted our hearts out. We spent over two hours painting, laughing, talking, and relaxing.

IMG_7140 IMG_7137Katrina (pictured above) LOVES love. IMG_7124“Vane, does this look ombre to you?” famously stated by Kathryn (pictured above).

IMG_7132“A writer’s heart bleeds a thousand times over.”

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A quick walk around the room ensured that we were the only ‘non-artists’ at the workshop that night but it didn’t matter, we were there to let everything out, not paint a masterpiece. What I loved most about this experience was the messiness of it all. I got paint on my favourite jeans, ruined my fresh manicure, threw paint at my canvas, and didn’t give a damn. Messiness is fun and deliciously beautiful.

Have you gone to Paintlounge? Would you? Do you like my painting? LMK in the comments!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Crazy Town by Robyn Doolittle [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Toronto Adventures

imageI became enthralled by “the Rob Ford Story” because of CP24 — a news station that seemed to be dripping with information about the alleged “crack video”. Every day when I walked into work there would be a new story about Ford and I became addicted. I don’t follow politics, nor did I know who Rob Ford was before all of the hype on TV, nor do I or will I state my opinion about the mayor of Toronto. What I will say is that his scandals make for really good television.

As someone who loves Toronto and hopes to be a resident some day (I live a little north of the city), I thought it would be important for me to learn more about the Ford situation and try to understand what exactly is going on at City Hall. When I heard about the Robyn Doolittle book: CRAZY TOWN, I knew I had to read it. I asked my friends at Penguin for a copy and thankfully they obliged.

Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle was one of three journalists to view the video and report on its contents in May 2013. Her dogged pursuit of the story has uncovered disturbing details about the mayor’s past, and embroiled the Toronto police, city councillors, and ordinary citizens in a raucous debate about the future of the city.

CRAZY TOWN paints a detailed and interesting picture of the Mayor of Toronto and his family. Robyn’s writing is thoughtful and filled with purpose to the point that this book reads like a novel, like a literary story. I had to remind myself at times that it isn’t some fictional account, it is the past and present of the Ford family. It’s the truth knocking at the door, demanding to be let in. What I liked most about CRAZY TOWN was the fact that Robyn Doolittle isn’t trying to pressure you into feeling a certain way about Ford. She has her sources, she has her facts, and her writing is pure and without bias. She admits to Ford’s good points, stating “Rob Ford might be a genus—if not of the academic variety, certainly of the kind that matters in politics”. You are given a reporter’s side and a mayor’s side — your only job as a reader is to get locked into a fascinating story and it’s not difficult to do.

In writing this book—and preparing these notes—I have tried to be as open and transparent as possible about my reporting process and how I know the things I know.”

I’ll admit that this account is so detailed that some of the politics went a little over my head but I was always brought back with enough information to wrap my head around what was happening. I found CRAZY TOWN to be deliciously interesting, especially the first few chapters about Ford Sr. and Rob’s siblings. My heart raced when Robyn recounted viewing the crack video for the first time and my mind sharpened as it was fed important facts, dates, and names.

I recommend this book to anyone who has felt captivated by Rob Ford’s many scandals, to anyone who wants to know more about the Mayor of Toronto, to anyone interested in politics, and to anyone who loves a well-written book.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Quote 1: Page 65

Quote 2: Page 314

Synopsis from the Penguin Canada website.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of CRAZY TOWN by Robyn Doolittle in exchange for an honest review. 

When life expands…(ADMIRATION DOESN'T PAY THE BILLS)

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

photo 3Every single time I head downtown I can feel my eyes open a little wider, my heart pound with excitement, and my mind expand with wonder. Saturday was the perfect day to walk around Queen West — the sun shone brightly, the air was fresh and crisp, and yet incredibly warm.

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The day started out with choosing a random restaurant for lunch — which turned out to have the best chicken panini I’ve ever had, complimented by the smoothest, richest, cup of coffee IN THE WORLD. After lunch we walked into every vintage clothing and furniture store we saw. One store was a rare beauty, with a dank musky stench that crawled up your nostrils and died. There were suitcases piled upon suitcases, typewriters, cameras, microphones, old photos of unknown people, and keys from a letterpress, all piled on top of each other. The cramped store was a sight for sore eyes but magical just the same and filled with so many stories. I smiled at the angry-looking store owner and complimented his inventory on the way out, I was feeling pretty good about it too, until I saw a handwritten sign that said ADMIRATION DOESN’T PAY THE BILLS. 

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After walking all of Queen Street West and strolling through Kensington Market, I realized two things:

A: my feet hurt

B: Toronto makes me feel confident, curious, and alive. 

Walking around with my head held high, a coffee in one hand and a great friend by my side, I saw the CN Tower outlined by a bright blue sky and I thought — this will be my home.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo