Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Few of My Favourite Things ~ No. 4

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The last time I sat down to write about my current favourites, it was beautifully sunny and a warm June breeze was streaming through my window.

Today, it is cold, gray and I find myself longing for that warm breeze.  Granted, we had quite the heat wave last week in Southern Ontario.  It reached 30 C a few times, and that heat coupled with the stunning fall foliage, was really quite something.  I suppose I should be grateful for that and not so disappointed with Mother Nature today.

Each time I share my current favourites with you (for previous installments – No. 1, No. 2 & No. 3), I note the importance of making your favourite things apart of your everyday, or at the very least, a regular occurrence in your life.  As I have mentioned before, our favourites are determined by what pleases our senses – specifically sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Favourite things not only please our senses, but they have a way of boosting one’s mood, one’s sense of well-being. For example, one of my favourite things to do is sleep in on Saturdays. I allow my body to wake naturally, rather than to an alarm, and then I luxuriate in that quiet time.  I read the news, a current book, magazine and often scroll through my social media to see all that I may have missed out on during the week.  It is a practice that I look forward to, it boosts my mood tremendously, and ultimately, is a practice that helps me to live well.

In the fourth installment of this series, I offer you a glimpse into a few of my current mood-boosting favourites, one to satiate each of the senses:

SIGHT
Westworld – HBO

I must admit, one of my favourite things about autumn is the influx of new television shows to enjoy. While my husband and I have been watching a few new shows, like Designated Survivour (ABC), Secrets and Lies (ABC), This is Us (NBC) and Divorce (HBO), one that has really intrigued me is Westworld.

Based on the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld takes place in a technologically advanced Western-themed amusement park populated by synthetic androids dubbed “Hosts”.  This world caters to high-paying visitors, dubbed “Newcomers” or “Guests”, who can do whatever they wish within the amusement park, without fear of retaliation from the “Hosts”.

With a star-studded cast (Sir Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and James Marsden to name a few), the series’ debut on HBO garnered the network’s highest viewership ratings for a premiere since the first episode of True Detective in 2014 (also a series I highly recommend starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson).

For me, the intrigue of this series is twofold. Firstly, and without giving too much away, the series brings up the highly controversial subject of artificial intelligence and what that means for the human race, as these beings become ever-increasingly “human”.  Secondly, it also brings to light the social implications of a world “without consequence”, and the justification of those behaviours because they are being carried out on those deemed inhuman.

With each episode, I have become more intrigued and invested. If you enjoy a program that makes you think, then this one is for you!

HEARING
Day Breaks – Nora Jones

Those of you that follow the blog will know my affinity for Nora Jones. I have been a fan of Miss Jones since her debut in 2002, and her music has been a part of several milestones in my life, most notably my wedding (my husband and I danced our first dance as husband and wife to Come Away with Me).

Well, Miss Jones has done it again with the release of her sixth studio album, Day Breaks. The album features nine new songs, three covers, and for me, is a welcome return to the piano-driven sounds of her earlier work.

With songs like Burn and Flipside, this album has been on heavy rotation in my home lately and will continue to be a favourite of mine for years to come. I highly recommend taking a listen.

TASTE
Peach Tranquility Full Leaf Sachets – Teavana

If you follow my Instagram, then you will know how much I am obsessed with enjoy tea. No matter the season, I tend to savour at least two cups daily, and am always searching for a new flavour or variety to add to my collection (much my husband’s chagrin).

I tend favour certain flavours during autumn and winter (i.e. chai, chocolate and ginger); however, lately I have been loving a flavour that is quite the opposite – Peach Tranquility from Teavana.

While I could try to explain the taste, I much prefer Teavana’s words:

Sweet peach and tropical pineapple are enhanced by the subtle herbal notes of chamomile and lemon verbena.

The blend of peach, chamomile and lemon verbena, coupled with apple and rose hips is simply delicious. The taste is incredibly smooth from start to finish and would also be nice as a tea latte.

To steep:

  1. Heat fresh (preferably filtered) water to 205 F (96 C)
  2. Pour eight fl oz (237 ml) water over sachet in cup
  3. Steep for five minutes. Stay close to this time for optimal flavour

Add a cup of this to your favourite blanket, a good book and have yourself a lovely moment.

SMELL
Blackberry & Bay – Jo Malone

For me, scent is such an important part of my daily life. Whether it comes from the candle in my bedroom, or a pot on the stove, I always do my best to take a moment and appreciate the scents of life (well, the pleasant smelling ones at least).

Scents can be calming, invigorating or evoke memories and feelings – they are are such a lovely luxury.

Again, if you follow the blog, you will know my adoration for Jo Malone scents.  In fact, I am slowly building a (small) collection of fragrances that speak to me. Throughout the spring and summer, I alternated between Nectarine Blossom & Honey and French Lime Blossom; however, with the arrival of cooler temperatures, I was itching for a scent that suited both my taste and the current season.

So, I made a trip to my local Jo Malone counter at Holt Renfrew, and while I could have gone home with their entire collection (maybe one day), I decided on Blackberry & Bay.

Again, while I could attempt to articulate the scent, Jo Malone pays someone quite a lot of money to do that for me:

Childhood memories of blackberry picking…a burst of deep, tart blackberry juice, blending with the freshness of just-gathered bay and brambly woods. Vibrant and verdant.

The deep, rich notes of this fragrance scream autumn and I have been enjoying a spritz or two every morning.

TOUCH
Silk Cashmere Drapey Front Pullover – Banana Republic

While I love summer, come October, I am ready to trade in my day dresses for cozy sweaters. When it comes to sweaters, I am quite particular about the style and fabric – I know, me particular – shocking!

I have always been quite sensitive to harsher fabrics, particularly heavy wool, and have also never been much of a fan of sweaters that are too bulky or thick, so when I found the Silk Cashmere Drapey Front Pullover from Banana Republic, I absolutely fell in love.

This luxuriously refined sweater is comprised of 85% silk and 15% cashmere, which for me, is the perfect blend. The classic crew neck (also available in a lovely crew cardigan) with long sleeves can be dressed up or down, and the neutral colour selection is beautiful – periwinkle, grey sky and preppy navy.

While I would love to have all three in my collection, I selected grey sky first, and am so glad I did, as it pairs beautifully with several pieces in my wardrobe.

Whether it’s a fragrance, a television show or a cozy sweater, I encourage you to make time to for your favourite things. Wishing you a lovely week and if you need me, I’ll be on the sofa with a cup of Peach Tranquility.

For the Love of Lists

“List simplify, clarify, edify.” ~ Tom Peters

If your daily schedule or inbox leaves you in a perpetual state of paralysis, frozen by the sheer number of things you have to do, take a deep breath – you are not alone.  For most of us, there is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it.

That unending “to-do” list , coupled with the pressure of being the perfect spouse, the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect child – I could go on, but I’m starting to feel a little stiff – often leaves us feeling overwhelmed at best.

You know the saying, “different strokes for different folks”?  Well, different people employ different methods to combat the chaos, and while not all are socially acceptable or legal; one method that is both (bonus), is list-making.

It may surprise you to know (who am I kidding), that I have been a lover of lists since I was a child (right alongside my toy Dustbuster – for more on my tidy childhood click here).  I would make lists of toys, books, friends, family, things I liked, things I disliked, my thoughts, my feelings – you name it, I made a list about it.

While obsessive list-making isn’t for everyone, research has revealed a number of benefits to making even the occasional list.  Don’t believe me?  Well, allow me to list some benefits for you (no pun intended).  Lists can help to:

Create Order

Simply put, creating a list is one of the most effective ways to order or organize anything.  With the help of a list, projects and ideas, no matter the size, can be broken down into manageable steps.  The abstract can become concrete, the intangible can become tangible.

Whether you’re looking to build a skyscraper or organize a child’s birthday party, lists  help take a project from inception to completion in an orderly fashion.

Prioritize

Have you ever found yourself with so many tasks and deadlines floating around in your head, that instead of actually tackling any of them, you decide now would be the perfect time to organize your sock drawer?  While I am all for an organized sock drawer, a better way to prioritize is to make a list.

By visually seeing all your tasks and deadlines at a glance, you can more effectively determine what needs to be done first and what can wait until later.  It is important to note that as priorities change, so too will that list – the key to success is flexibility.

Be Accountable

Psychologically, the act of actually writing something down brings with it a certain level of accountability.  Once you have written a task, a deadline or a goal down, you have given life to it and are more inclined to develop a plan to accomplish it.

Feel Productive

If you are already a list lover like me, then you will know the extreme gratification that comes from checking something off your list.  Crossing an item off your list, no matter how small, gives you the control, which is quite powerful from a psychological standpoint.

Scientific evidence has shown that for many, crossing an item off a list releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine.  That feel-good hormone feels, well so good, that arguably you will be motivated to continue checking things off your list to keep that feeling alive.

While lists do offer a number of benefits, the type of list or the way you make one is entirely up to you.  Perhaps you aren’t a fan of paper and prefer making lists via the notes function on your smartphone or tablet.  On the other hand, you could absolutely detest electronic devices and choose to create your list on a notepad or in a notebook.

Whatever your preference, know that as your tastes change, your lists will evolve.  Over the years, I have kept lists in many different ways – on my phone, in a Moleskine notebook, in binders, planners and notepads.  One thing that has never changed; however, is that I prefer lists that are pretty (I can imagine how shocked you are by this).

Lately, I have enjoyed designing a few of my own lists and thought, why not share them with all of you?  Over the coming weeks, I plan to continue adding lists to the blog.  Feel free to print as many as you like and use them to organize your life, or as inspiration to create your own lists.

Handy Hint – if you complete similar tasks daily or weekly, laminate the checklist and cross those items off with a dry erase marker.  

As I am a big fan of homekeeping (this post is full of shockers), I thought that would be the perfect place to start, so below you will find both my daily and weekly homekeeping checklists.  I have created a deluxe or blank version, to suit different preferences, and welcome recommendations or requests as to what types of lists would be helpful to you.

daily-homekeeping-checklist-deluxe
daily-homekeeping-checklist-blank
weekly-homekeeping-checklist-deluxe
weekly-homekeeping-checklist-blank

Happy Listing!