Category Archives: Reviews&Reccos

I Reserve The Right To Eat Dammit! 

‘The Season Has Commenced Ladies and Gentlemen! Yes, it is that time of year again.  Weddings, weddings and, oh yeah, more weddings!

Now, as a hopeless romantic I love myself a good wedding; after all, I am the perfect guest. I laugh, I cry, I will detangle the train, I will reroute Uncle BoozeHound away from the sexy bridesmaids and I will  even throw myself in front of that flaming bouquet and bunt it so that your single older sister gets her chance to shine in the spotlight too! Yes it is true, I love me a good wedding…

However, there is one thing I despise about wedfings. Hate it, detest it, abhore it and absolutely llooaatthhee it… the Pre-Wedding Diet. Yes people, you know what I’m talking about. That crash course of only chicken breast and lettuce, guaranteed to make you lose 10lbs in 10 days. The tear-filled goodbye to bread, pasta, pastries and anything carbohydrate that made life worth living.  The endless torture of squats and lunges to ‘tone and lift’ my flat derriere. And the water. Every hour on the hour 500ml of H2O-and then every hour on the hour racing to the Ladies WC for a piddle of Niagara Falls prportions! Seriously, it is a form of torture that has died and come back to life for me many a time and I’m tired of it! 

As I grudgingly trudged down to the basement to start my workout routine, my stomach started growling. Poor thing! I thought longingly of this beautiful Shrimp and Garlic Fettuccine I had made for the family last month. It.Was.Divine! The key was to roast the garlic in the olive oil on low heat for at least 20 minutes, and then add the shrimp in last for 20 sec a side- cooked to perfection!

As I jump-roped, I got thinking about Food in general. Why are people, particularly women, brought up to despise food so much? Is fitting into size 2 jeans really better than a delicious bowl of Garlic Shrimp Fettuccine? Why can’t people in North America embrace food and enjoy it for what it is-sustenance, nourishment, art and life.  I reserve the right to eat dammit!

As I started my first set of burpees, my thoughts flew to the culture of food and how some countries simply adore it. For instance, the Italians. They get it. Why can’t we be like Italy? The land of Appreciation. Whenever I am savouring a bite of fresh mozzarella, or enjoying a beautiful sunset, or simply sitting out on my front porch watching the world go by, I think of Italy. It is a land where appreciating the little moments is what makes up Life. Seizing the opportunity, savouring the experience, enjoying it for all its worth, and then letting it go without regret because you know you lived today to the max.( In my head, the latter speech wss definitely an ode to a fresh to Margarita pizza!)

Seriously, why can’t we all live like that?

As I completed my final set of pushups (MIchelle Obama arms here I come!), these thoughts kept churning in my mind. They lingered at work too and, while tidying the shelves, suddenly, a bright yellow book caught my eye. Alexander McCall Smith’s My Italian Bulldozer was finally here! Yessss! I have always found this author to be quite the charmer-and no I have never met him. Its his words. He writes in a straightforward, practical manner, but always with a tinge of delight in the background, leaving you smiling ear-to-ear as you turn the page.

My Italian Bulldozer is no exception to the magic. Starting off in Scotland, a middle-aged writer travels to Tuscany to kick start his next cookbook and to escape his recently shattered love life. Upon landing, an exasperating situation at the rental car agency leaves him with only one means of getting around Tuscany-on a little bulldozer. And that’s where the adventure begins!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book for it’s light, humourous and insightful dialogue. I felt like I was right there in Tuscany, inhaling the wonderful aromas and conversing with the colourful characters, and letting Life take the reigns while I sat back and enjoyed the ride with glass of vino in my hand.

This is definitely a must read! I urge you to skip the gym, make a huge bowl of Garlic Shrimp Fettuccine and just enjoy yourself. You won’t regret it!

Have a good weekend!

LoveUntitled @_@

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Someone Gets It, Someone Gets Me.

It was a beautiful Sunday and, for once, I was the customer instead of the sales clerk, strolling through the bookstore as if I had all the time in the world. It was a beautiful Sunday for another reason as well-it was beautiful because I had just come out of another depressive episode recently, and I felt good. It felt good to be Me again.

I have had Depression for quite some time now, and my life has been characterized by the emotional highs and lows that come with such a disease. However, this year, instead of trying to “beat past it” and “push through it” like most people so kindly and inaccurately advise Me, I decided to get help. I went to my Doctor and set up my very first appointment with a psychiatrist.

I was super nervous-Psychiatry is a field of Medicine that has such a bad rep! I swear, what’s the big deal about Mental Illness anyway? Is your brain not allowed to get sick from time to time? Why is Diabetes acceptable, Hypothyroidism sympathetic and Arthritis understandable, but Mental Illness is the whack job?

I still don’t understand the stigma…

But anyways, I was really nervous about my psych appointment, and not because of the afore-mentioned reasons stated above, but because I didnt know how to explain how I felt. I could not find the words to describe my state of mind and I was afraid that I would not be able to explain myself. The frustration led to fear, which led to anger and eventually, it made me cry. Uncontrollably. Snot everywhere!

How do I tell a psychiatrist that I feel like a Failure? Like I am being punished by Life? That I don’t deserve anything good to happen to Me? That I screwed up so badly, I dont think I will ever get out of this rock bottom phase of my life? How do you say those things out loud to a stranger?

These thoughts consumed me during my Depressive episode, but they eventually passed. And I was able to see my psychiatrist, who was very nice, and describe my situation to her to the best of my ability. (I only went through 1 box of tissues! Yay!)

It felt good to talk about my Depression. Really, really good.

But it got me thinking…Other than my Psych, who would get this stuff? When I’m asked how I am doing,  how do I convey this to people?

I was thinking of this in the bookstore that day when I came across Alice Hoffman’s new book Faithful. In this fantastic read, a young girl with her whole life ahead of her gets into a car accident and survives. The life she had planned for herself disappears in a flash and the Survivor’s guilt eats away at her for many years until, one day, a guardian angel gives her the will to pick up the pieces and start over

I had always wanted to read this book, (i put it down on my infamous list!)  but that day I just opened up the book to a random page to see if it was something I really would like to get into. I came upon a paragraph at the bottom of a page and instantly, we connected. My eyes widened and my heart began to pound.

‘Whoa’ I thought, ‘This is Me! This is my inner dialogue exactly. Word for word..’

The main character had spoken aloud my exact feelings regarding my Depression. Every single thought, feeling…she got it. She Got Me!

You don’t know how elated I was to have someone understand these emotions so much, and write them out so plainly on the page. I wasn’t the only one out there who felt these things. People experienced it. People understood it. People conquered it. Life didn’t stop at Rockbottom. They too got their happy endings

Now I am not saying that I recovered from this book, or stopped seeking help for my own Depression. No I did not do that. But it was nice, no it was wonderful to know that someone understood Depression, and was able to put it into words and create a story that people would read and, for a brief period of time, would understand too.

That understanding-well, sometimes, it makes all the difference to Us.

Thank you very much Alice Hoffman-from the bottom of my Heart.


LoveUntitled @_@



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A Mother’s Love…

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To all the mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, friends-Happy Mother’s Day! And on the flip-side, to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and buds who take on the role of Mother today-a very Happy Mother’s Day to you too! We are honoured, privileged and blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you!

This year, Mother’s Day was especially beautiful for me because I was able to experience Motherhood in all it’s forms. Through a variety of women in my family, I saw how Motherhood was conveyed, relayed, shared and shone between us, and it humbled this little heart to the core.

It started with brunch with my Mother, Grandmother and sister. Four women, 3 generations and a hot mess of love and emotion in a tiny car. On the way to brunch, my Mother was, well, being my mother! We have a loving yet exasperating sort of relationship where, despite being well into my 30s, I am still the child and she is still the adult. I am Ernie, She is Bert.

Mum: “Change lanes, that guy’s too close to you”

“Don’t put your purse there, it’ll get dirty”

Me: $(@)@(*&!!!!^^&%I$((#&@@&%&&&@$&!!!!!!!!!!…AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! (in my head! only in my head…)

Yet, at the breakfast table, things took a little turn and it was my mother in the hot seat and my grandmother steering the conversation, much to the chagrin of my mother.

Grandma: “Pour the tea carefully otherwise you will spill”

“Why aren’t you eating? You look pale, take this.”

Mum: (disgruntled silence)

As the scene continued to play out, my sister and I exchanged amused glances-the apple clearly didn’t fall too far from the tree. It was cute, and it got me thinking…A mother’s role in life is so strong, so powerful, that even with all the good and bad we witness, we still want to emulate them. Our idols of life, love, womanhood ahd humanity-we want to be just like them. In every single way.  On the ride home, this simple thought humbled my ego and filled me with affection for my mother. She and I were so alike, we were both caught between the individual and the idol dream, and still trying to navigate to that in between.

This time, when she complained that I was speeding (doing 65km in a 60km zone) I didn’t get mad. I just smiled and slowed down 🙂

Later in the day, we went to my Aunt’s house for afternoon tea. Now, we have not always had a cordial relationship with her and her family, but she was recently diagnosed with End Stage Kidney Failure, and we all decided it was time to bury the hatchet and be supportive. Sitting at her bedside,  I saw first hand how Sisters are a very special sort of relationship, the in-between of a mother and a friend. My mother is two years older than her younger sister, yet she fell into the role of mother with such ease-fluffing her pillows, arranging her flowers, pouring her tea, sitting down for a good gossip. What a bond! I never thought about how unique the sister relationship really is,  mother your own age! A mother who gets you! A mother who sees you as an equal! It’s pretty cool….

A few hours later my aunt’s children, my cousins, came by with their kids in tow. As I watched my cousin nurse her 9 month old daughter at the kitchen table, I was again bowled over by the beauty of motherhood-it’s so natural, so intrinsic, like a second skin. The look on her face as she nursed her daughter was just ethereal, and in that one moment of nourishment, you could tell that the entire world had just stopped to care for this little girl. It was a powerful moment for me.

As we left the house I picked up my dog and as I looked into his little black eyes, I couldn’t help but feel that tug at my heart for this little boy in my arms. Was this Motherhood as well? Yes, I think it is. While I am not a mother to a human child, to me, my dog IS my child. I love him so fiercely, so deeply and so completely, I cannot remember my life before him. When he sleeps, I am at peace. When he’s sick, my heart hurts. When he is happy and excited, it’s like a light has turned on inside of me. I just adore him.

And so, I feel I can safely say that yes, I too, belong to this beautiful society of Motherhood. It is a Love that I cannot contain-for my mother, father, sister, grandmother, aunt, friend, niece, dog. It is unconditional and it keeps expanding, spilling out into all of my other relationships,  growing,  transforming and evolving over time. But interestingly, never diminishing. Never, ever diminishing.

In one day I learned and felt so much about Motherhood, I was overwhelmed. It was on display for me in all of its intimacy, power and glory, it was blinding. And each woman, each encounter, each experience taught me yet another lesson about the powerful Love of a Mother.

As I sat down to write this post, pondering over the events and emotions of the day, the most perfect book came to mind and I knew I had to share Maya Angelou’s Letter To My Daughter. 

Now most people would think, why not Maya Angelou’s other book “Mom & Me & Mom”-after all it is Mother’s Day right?

True. However, Letter to My Daughter was a more fitting selection for me because it is a book that reflects the very core of Motherhood- to teach with Love. This was the ray of light I experienced today, witnessing all these beautiful conveyances of a Mother through all of these women. Maya Angelou’s collection of essays reveals Life Lessons she has learned  from Herself, her own Mother, Grandmother, her friends, family, strangers, her obstacles, triumphs, failures and dreams. And, as a Mother, Angelou passes on  these lessons to us as well. Her audience. Her extended family. Her children.

With her characteristic grace, intelligence, humour and flair she conveys some wonderful advice about life with the humility and beauty only Angelou knows how to put into words. It is a book that not only needs to be read, it needs to be absorbed. All of it.  Into your very bones, Your Mind. Your Heart. Your Soul. And then you pass it on with Love, just as a Mother would.

I cannot recommend this treasure enough. Go out and grab a copy today. You won’t regret it!

Happy MOther’s Day!


LoveUntitled @_@



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My Tightrope And The Irish Country Doctor

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It’s already April of 2017 and I cannot begin to track where the time is flying. I have been feeling a little out of sorts these days. No that’s not true, I have been a FREAKIN’ WRECK these days! Unsure about life; where I am going, what I am doing, what my purpose is for my very existence. I am scared about the future, what lies before me, and bitterly regretful, shamed and guilt-ridden about my past.

As a result, I am caught on a tightrope- too scared to step forward, unable to step back. And so I stand where I am, wondering what on earth I should do without screwing up completely!

Amidst my turbulent feelings, I’ve been reading a book from a wonderful series that, for me, mirrors my life right now. Patrick Taylor’s An Irish Country Doctor series is a pure delight, and I have FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY finished the 11th installment, An Irish Doctor in Love and At Sea. As most of his books, it took a long time to finish-do not expect to complete this whopper in a fortnight, it wont work. You have to take each chapter as it comes, with the utmost attention and patience. Do not give yourself a deadline.

So why do I like this book so much? For me, out of all the books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this one because it finally gives us the complete back history on our beloved main Dr.Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly, and trust me, the story does not disappoint. Taylor hits every emotion right on the head, making you laugh, sob your heart out. Through this novel, I was able to really feel and confront my own emotions head on and get the proper release I needed for them.

Personally, this book series is always a little bittersweet for me to read because it reminds me of the life I could have had. The person, the professional I could have been, right there in Ireland, in Europe-a place I feel my heart belongs to completely.  Yet, the very book itself is like a little window opened to me-the possibility that maybe instead of being the main character in this novel, I am meant to be like the creator of this series, the wordmaker. It’s such a confusion really but whenever I pick up one of these novels I really feel my situation and am torn between moving forward on my  tightrope, or letting go. I really don’t know.

Either way, through doubt and hope, I always come back to this series because, in its very special way, these novels soothe me. The history, the warmth,the tragedy, the quirky characters and the belly-laugh moments make me happy and restore my faith in humanity and in God. And, in a small way, it dares to give me a little ray of hope that perhaps all is not lost. I might be able to keep going forward and get to the ending I constantly dream about. I just have to keep trying.

If you are looking for an all-in-all heart warmer of a series, go on out to your local store and grab a copy of this book today, I guarantee you will fall in love with The Irish Country Doctor just like I have.


LoveUntitled @_@

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A Song, A Book and A Garden




Have you ever experienced that perfect moment when art, literature and music collide? Well, today I did and the way it all came about still sends tingles down my spine.

I was driving to work this morning when this song came on the radio-a lovely, contemporary classical piece on 91.1Fm. The violin and piano melodies were just so beautiful together-comfortable, earthy yet elegant, and it just relaxed me instantly. Normally, I would Shazaam the heck out of a piece I didn’t know, but being the responsible driver that I am [thank you :)], I missed the details and resigned myself to letting another good song disappear.

Meanwhile, at work, I met a friend who also happens to share my passion for the eternal City of Lights-Paris, France. We constantly talk about France, to the point of being irritating. As we got to chatting (again!) about Paris, he whipped out his phone and showed me some photos he took at Giverny, home to the infamous gardens of Impressionist artist Claude Monet.

His photographs made me nostalgic for France, a place I visited for the very first time last fall, and so I headed over to our travel section and lo and behold! A beautiful photography collection by Jean-Pierre Gilson caught my eye. ” Monet’s Garden At Giverny” is a genuine  stunner. Gilson’s photographs are breathtaking, capturing moments in the garden with a professional, yet emotional eye. One can’t help but gasp out loud at the sheer beauty this garden exudes, and that’s just through the photographs! Imagine what the real thing feels like! In addition to the collection, Gilson collaborated with author Dominique Lobstein, who gives us fictional first-hand accounts of Monet from his family members, colleagues and acquaintances. In this charming narrative, he manages to convey the story of the moody, temperamental, yet soft man behind the genius of these gardens and their paintings.

I was so enamoured with this book that I bought it on the spot. I showed my friend and he suggested that when I get home, I should just prop my feet up, pour myself a glass of wine and pop in my Mellow Songs playlist. “It’s the only way to really enjoy this book!” he exclaimed. I couldn’t agree more.

Later on, at home, I was putting the finishing touches to my “Book Ambience” when I received a text message. It was a friend with a song recommendation. “Hey S! Check out this song, I heard it today and it’s amazing. I think you would really like it!”

I popped the title into Youtube, hit play and reached for my book. As soon as the first few notes hit me, I stopped, my heart quickening in surprise.


It was the piece from this morning. Passaggio. By Ludovico Einaudi, accompanied by violinist Daniel Hope.

When art, literature and music collide…Amazing right?

LoveUntitled @_@



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