I seem to have some sort of a brain malfunction that leaves me constantly in awe of the passage of time. I’m blaming baseball. We just finished our Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada and the Blue Jays are still contenders. We have not had October baseball in 22 years so we are all a bit muddled.

Thanksgiving was lovely. Mr. AOKville suggested that we get Dietrich’s to do the honours this year since we were hosting a fair-sized group. We are still running back and forth between two homes, which makes this type of thing more complicated. (For those who are new to the party, currently we have one house in which we are living with the school-aged kids and we have another house for the university-aged kids and the offices. Serena, the notorious D.O.G., does not get along with the Sailor (the Portuguese Water Dog) or Thomas/Hecate (the black cat) so we have them in separate houses too until the dog/cat whisperer can work her magic.

Do not let that cute face deceive you...

Do not let that cute face deceive you…she is not a cooperative flatmate.

We are embarking on renovations in anticipation of renting out one of the spaces and selling the other next year, which is causing me to run for the scotch at times. #oakvilleproblems)

The writing is going well. I’ve written seven chapters (out of a targeted 21) and I’m having fun with the research piece, which is leading me on all sorts of adventures. The highlight was a group reading with a medium who was less than effective (here’s a tip to any aspiring spiritualists: when a woman comes to you to seek connection with her late husband, do not tell her that he’s in the room but does not want to speak to her unless you want a lot of crying…) I have empathic tendencies and tend to get sucked in by others so I’ve taken to wearing lepidolite and pink tourmaline as a protective charm. I’m fighting magic with magic, I guess you might say.


Since I am writing into some dark places, I also have my angel charms at the ready.


Perhaps it all falls under the category of woo woo magic but it’s working quite well (I like to think that it’s Big Magic per Elizabeth Gilbert’s fantastic book.) I find that this type of writing needs to be cultivated gently, like an orchid. You cannot simply bash away at the keys. I find that it helps to burn beeswax candles and have the right playlist, in addition to logging at least four hours a day of solid writing time.


I’m also using Alice Anderson’s beautiful first line from her forthcoming memoir, Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, as a talisman.

We make chapels of our scars.

Writing a novel is a funny business. It’s both healing and devastating. It’s a mixture of total fabrication and the only truths I know.

In other news, we’ve put up a few tasteful Halloween decorations (if there is such a thing.)

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The Decor by Dollarama overload will not be put up until right before Halloween weekend as I can only deal with faux crime-scene tape for so long.

I hope your October is beautiful and filled with celebration.


My latest obsession

It’s been another busy week. The writing is going well. For me, it’s such a different process from non-fiction. At times, pages just sort of come to me and I just have to transcribe. Other times, bubkes.

On the reading front, I just started Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Love. (On the topic of magic, how exciting is it that Alice Hoffman is writing the prequel to Practical Magic! While I’m waiting for that book, I’ve been reading Sarah Addison Allen‘s backlist. Love her.  If you like women’s fiction and magic realism, I highly recommend Garden Spells.)

At this time of year, I’m so ready for fall. We’ve had a few crisp days but the weather has been warmer than I’d like. I want cinnamon apples, and plaid throws, and a good book and whisky by the fire, but it’s still a bit too warm for that. The chapters I’m writing take place in the fall and, since the weather is not cooperating, I watched One True Thing to get myself in a fall frame of mind. I love that movie, particularly Meryl Streep’s speech to Renée Zellweger:

It’s so much easier to be happy, my love. It’s so much easier to choose to love the things that you have, and you have so much, instead of always yearning for what you’re missing, or what it is you’re imagining you’re missing. It’s so much more peaceful.

I became slightly obsessed with Renée’s lipstick colour in the movie.



It reminded me of MAC’s Taupe that I wore all through the 90s. I was thrilled to discover they still make it and started wearing it right away. It’s still warm out but I’m sick to death of my summer pinky beiges. So far, Taupe is my favourite shade this fall although I’ll also be wearing the old chestnuts of Chanel Gabrielle and Dialogue, Laura Mercier Healthy Lips, and Bobbi Brown Brownie.

I’ve not done a whole lot of fall shopping although I’m obsessed with Really Wild Clothing. I’ve been a big fan of UK fashion ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and used to buy copies of English shelter magazines at the international magazine shop. I particularly like that horse and hound look, as though one has just spent the day at a gin-soaked shooting party. I’m a big Moloh fan (love their jackets) and Really Wild has a similar vibe. I’ve been Pinteresting them like crazy.







I’m quite obsessed with this feather pin at the moment.

Pheasant Feather Pin



I could pin it on a life that involved long hikes to a stone cottage wherein I’d be served tea. That’s where writing fiction is so convenient. When I see something I love, rather than whipping out my Visa, I can simply use it as inspiration. So far, my characters are extremely well dressed and have an excellent collection of art.

I hope you are having a productive fall and are finding inspiration everywhere.







Hello September


I hope y’all have been having a wonderful September. I looked up and suddenly it was the middle of the month! That space-time continuum is playing tricks on me again. (I feel like I’m turning into an old person, railing on about the passage of time and the price of a loaf of bread.)

The end of summer was lovely with a little trip to the Finger Lakes. I highly recommend The Inn on the Lake at Canandaigua for a cheap and cheerful getaway (although with the Canadian dollar as it is, not as cheap and cheerful as it was at the time of booking!) We had lakeside rooms and it was lovely to sit out with a coffee on the water in the morning. Very restorative.

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I ate my weight in Cracker Barrel biscuits and gravy in NY state and then returned home just in time for the CNE, where I ate my weight in peameal bacon poutine.


The exercise regime has restarted with some fresh hell at the club called Body Blast; I’m not kidding around.

One of my handbags has had an exciting little trip to NYC (a friend’s daughter is a fashion blogger and wanted some Chanel for Fashion Week.) I’m quite envious!

School and all of the activities are back and it’s getting busy. (Back to School was celebrated with cupcakes from The Black Forest Bakery.)


We took some time out from a busy weekend to do a little walking tour of Oakville that the Oakville Historical Society leads. It was a cold, drizzly day (my favourite!) and we were the only walkers. Our guide took us on a charming tour of the old town and then invited us in for tea, hot chocolate, and cookies (the kids were highly impressed.) If you are in Oakville on a weekend, I highly recommend the tours. We plan to attend one the Ghost Walks closer to Halloween.There are things about Oakville that are less than perfect (thankfully — otherwise, what would I have to write my novel about?) but it sure is pretty (photos below from Gairloch Gardens on a sunny August day.)

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In addition to gadding about town, I’ve been busy writing.


Here is my latest for The Huffington Post: The Reversal of Fortune Survival Guide. (I’m taking my writing in a more personal direction there.)

Hope you have had a lovely start to September.




Falling for Summer

Last weekend was a busy one with a party, a dinner, and a fancy schmancy car show by the lake. I was able to take my wardrobe out for a bit of a spin.

For Friday’s White Party, I wore J Brand white jeans and a one shoulder top I got at Banana Republic for the outrageous sum of $35. Who knew such things were available? I paired it with my sparkly gold J. Crew shoes from 100 seasons ago. After my foray into redheadedness that felt appropriate with the Engage the Fox book promotion, I’m back to blonde.


The party was excellent as it always is when one is driven home by the hosts.


*cough* hussy *cough*

This weekend, we learned that Vodka is back in a big way. This is the second event I’ve been at this summer when someone had to dash out to get vodka mid-event. The first was at the Rogers Cup tennis when the very rowdy box next to ours ran out of vodka and noisily demanded more. I’ve never been at a tennis match with so much shouting from the stands. Instead of contesting line calls, they were screeching for Skyy.

Saturday was a low key dinner party with friends. It was al fresco and I’m typically freezing so I threw my Smythe jacket over my Saint James striped top and Costco red jeans. These jeans were $13 and I wish I’d bought a dozen pairs. Loving La Côstco although I must keep away from the cheese aisle since I worked like a devil to slim down over the summer and cheese is my Achilles heel.


Friends invited us to a luxury car show by the water on Sunday.


I wore the blog-favourite Zara denim dress that I suspect gets issued to you as soon as you register a WordPress site. The waist is a little empire for my shape so I tied an Hermes scarf around the waist. I can’t tan evenly to safe my life and am too lazy to St. Tropez myself so I walk around with a bit of a trucker’s tan. It’s very chic. I expect everyone will be sporting the look next year.


For the last two weeks of summer, the kids are camp-free as requested, so we are filling our days with various activities. I took my daughter to her first concert on the Molson Amphitheatre lawns as it provides a festival environment in a more PG way than, say, Veld. Neither of us were particularly into any artist playing but wanted to hang out listening to music on a gorgeous summer evening. The CNE is on so we had lots of food choice and ate our combined body weights in chicken tenders and fries both before and after the concert. For our dinner, we ordered the 5 piece combo and were given 6 pieces. They were so good that we ordered the 8 piece combo for the train ride home and got at least twice what we ordered. We will be clucking all week long.

The CNE at night is magical.


We will return there this week in the day to do the games and food building. Because it’s not summer until you’ve bought a ShamWow or some such thing at the CNE…

It’s been a lovely summer but I’m looking forward to getting into the routine of fall. I’m excited to be working on a new writing project. I gave myself the summer off but was surprised how much I wrote. There is lots of local ambiance to inspire one here in Oakville. Just look at the morning fog on the lake. Gorgeous.


The other day, I saw this terrific quote by Daphne Rose Kingma in an ad for Indigo Books: “Weddings remind us that our lives have meaning and that love is the strongest bond, the happiest joy, and the loveliest healing we can ever experience.” How true! (Our wedding planning is happening over at Pinterest.)

Then I saw Kingma’s book, The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart, referenced on an episode of that Jennie-Garth-moves-to-the-country show that was playing in a marathon this past weekend. It felt like the universe wanted me to read DRK in spite of the fact that I’m beyond the life falling apart stage (knock wood.)  I wish I’d read this book a couple of years ago. It’s excellent.


A friend of mine has some spiritual gifts and read my angel cards. According to the cards, there are still a few areas where I need to concentrate my attention.


That blinking Forgiveness card keeps showing up front row, centre. Right now there are three pestilential nuisances on my little list who are taking up valuable real estate in my head. I need to release them and allow the universe to smite them gently sort them out. In spite of all of the Sharon Salzberg Loving Kindness meditations I attempt, it’s still not easy.

I have to keep in mind C.S. Lewis’s advice that “If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.” One of the individuals will be nearly impossible to forgive and the other two aren’t easy. I wish I’d pulled an angel card that involved Steve Coogan, emeralds, and a barrel full of bourbon. That, I could handle.

Still, lots to be grateful for. The temperatures are cooling, which makes these bad boys all the more relevant.

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I’m mainly planning to shop in my closet unless I see a truly excellent red blazer.

I’m feeling this look from Victoria Magazine September 1998.


It puts me in a nice fall mood. As the temperatures dip to 12 degrees celsius at night, I have lots of tea and jam on hand thanks to my parents who returned from visiting my Godmum in the UK.


There is a sweet little bottle of sauternes to warm the cockles of my heart.


And a room with a view.


If you are in this hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying the last days of the summer and are prepping for fall.


August in August?

Normally I pride myself on being somewhat erudite and staid. Every now and then, however, I need to be silly and lighthearted and August is perfect for being less than, well, august.

Currently, I am nursing weekend warrior injuries. Saturday, we took my son to Canada’s Wonderland for this birthday and rode eight million rides including the Behemoth. I love that ride but always seems to injure my leg on it. On Sunday, when I was already limping, we visited a friend’s cottage to dodge some of this heat wave. After half a dozen wake boarding attempts, I had to wave the white flag but I managed to get standing on this bad boy a few times courtesy of Robaxacet.



I also flipped myself in a hammock (even relaxing can be perilous!) so I’m taking things very easy today. Lots of tea and reading. Plus no red meat today. If you are what you eat, I’m currently 90% steak.

Last night, we kept up the adrenaline rush by seeing Straight Outta Compton. It was a blast from the past as NWA was big when I was doing my undergrad degree. I love their sound and would be a huge rap fan were it not for the misogynistic overtones. I so appreciate music that is raw and real. The movie is fantastic even though at times it feels like a propaganda vehicle for Dr. Dre. I was reminded often that history is written by the victors. Still, it’s well worth seeing and feels very relevant given what is happening in Ferguson.

How are you spending your August? Are you being august?



Hello muddah

It’s August 10. How did that happen?

My wee gal has gone away to camp and has returned. She loved her camp. I want to go next year.


I need to find a camp for writers, where someone wakes me up with a gong and makes me go for a little swim and then lets me write and nap and eat until it’s time for a campfire. I’d be super-productive. I promise!


Before camp started, I went to Roots to buy sweat pants and a top for my gal in case it was chilly at night (it was.) I bought some park socks and a Cooper sweatshirt for me. All the 80s styles are back, which makes me happy.

Feeling all camp-ish, I rewatched Indian Summer. I’d not seen that movie in forever. How pretty was Diane Lane? (She is still one of my favourites.) It’s a silly film but if you like scenes of the Canadian north and early 90s Roots and Hudson’s Bay clothes, you’ll adore it.




I hope you are having a lovely summer. I’m mainly playing on Instagram and Goodreads these days and am enjoying catching up with many of you there.




Tea for two

I cannot believe it is mid-July already. Time is flying. The children have been taking advantage of the many camps on offer.

Mr. AOKville and I snuck away to Niagara on the Lake for tea at the Prince of Wales. It’s one of my favourite treats and I have yet to find a really nice spot in Oakville for afternoon tea. I’m still on the hunt.

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I’ve been keeping with the Positano theme in my dress with belted tunics and lots of blues and greens.




I should be drinking Peroni al fresco but old habits…


On a hot day in Oakville, you can walk down by the lake and, if you ignore the Canada Geese, you can pretend you are on the Amalfi coast.

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I finally saw the film, Iris. I loved Grey Gardens and looked forward to seeing Albert Maysles’s final film. Iris Apfel is an absolute delight. I was not aware that the film was also a bit of a love story about Iris and her 100 year old husband Carl. Charming. And their sense of style is remarkable. I dare you to see the film and not load up on accessories the next day. It’s also a wonderful pick-me-up for anyone who is starting something new later in life. She is proof positive that is is never too late to be who you want to be.



The Kingsway Theatre is a fun place to see a film. They have a charming little street-side patio. Oakville’s remains my favourite theatre (especially now that they have film fest offerings and show opera and ballet) but Kingsway edges them out on Best Theatre Patio.



On the weekend, it was visitors’ day at one of the summer camps. What a lovely spot.

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This summer, we’ve become big fans of The Trafalgar Brewery. I love their Niagara Peach Mead. (Cue the this is not a sponsored post verbiage. I pay for my own mead, tea, Guinness, movie tickets, and caftans.)


I hope that the first half of July was kind to you.


Positively Positano

It finally feels like summer here in AOKville.

We wrapped up the school year with a whirl of grads and end-of-term parties.

And a little Shania.

She’s golden blonde now and is very much channeling Rayna James.





Shania puts on a good show and I’m a sucker for a redemption story, so it was a fun night.

This is the first summer in 5 years that I’m not heading to Europe. I’d love to be on the Amalfi Coast but, alas, I’m saving up for something like this:



If you can’t bring the girl to Positano, at least you can bring Positano to the girl.

Soap and Water Everyday on Lakeshore sells Eau d’Italie. (They also have an online shop. The soap is divine.)


And Le Sireneuse delivers. (Normally it’s quite spendy but the sale right now is excellent.)

I like to wear their tunics with a woven leather belt and sandals.


It would not be Italy without food. This weekend, we bought some handmade chocolates at Beanermunky in Dundas.


Dundas is so pretty. If I go the traditional wedding dress route, I might return to visit Heirloom Bridal.


We visited some donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary in Puslinch. I have always adored donkeys and the children are now big fans too.

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Italy has donkeys, no?

I’ve been looking for a little stool for my vanity and saw the perfect one for $29 at Homesense. The fabric was awful, as one might expect, but I had a little Sanderson Sweet Bay remnant left over from a bathroom project in a previous house. A little magic with the staple gun and I now have a pretty accent piece. The flower pattern makes me happy.


I hope that you are having a lovely summer whether vacationing or stay-cationing.





It was Grade Six Graduation this week and while I often think these things feel a little manufactured, this grad marked a milestone of leaving the nest of our little local school and moving into the wider world.

Plus, parties are always fun.

Now that my kids are older and I’m starting to take on other things, I’m no longer the class mum. But I volunteered to help with the graduation lunch. The kids were very happy to be fêted.





The evening grad ceremony was lovely and my daughter brought home the academic award. She is a very low key kid so it’s always nice when her efforts are recognized. She was just thrilled.

I wore a simple 10 year old black dress from a collection Alfred Sung did for Zellers years ago (Zellers was like a downmarket Target (!) in Canada.)  Even though the cost per wear is now about a nickel, I always get lots of compliments so I continue to trot it out on hot days when I want a no-fuss LBD. I paired it with basic Rockstuds and red lipstick. From the compliments, you’d think I normally showed up at these things in my PJs. I credit the layer of spackle for the difference, as in the summer I wear very little makeup. When I saw Cynthia’s polished Chanel look on instagram, I made a mini resolution to look more polished in the day so that, in future, people do not fall over themselves in shock when they see me dressed up.


Today, I was downtown Toronto dropping my mother off at an eye appointment and I realized that the doctor was in the same building as Chanel.


That’s a pretty direct sign from the universe, no?

While I was waiting, I popped in to the makeup counter. 20 minutes later I had a whole new face.



I bought some basics like concealer and highlighter (I refuse to wear any base in the summer but need help with under eye circles) and then a couple of fun seasonal items including nail polish in Peche Nacrée (re-released as part of a new perfume launch) and a gloss in Rose Tendre. It’s all pink and gold prettiness that looks good with a (faux) tan.


I am a creature of habit so the summer with its ever changing schedules always throws me a bit at first. Still, it will be nice to have a bit more flexibility in our days. All I’ve done over the past few weeks is drive from place to place to place.

I hope that June has been good to you.