Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The joys of travel, the perils of over-packing, and the happiness of returning home

Is there anything quite as nice as going on a trip?

The answer is yes: returning home! 

I have been back for a week and apologize profusely for not checking in earlier.

I've been busy catching up on housework, writing, exercising and generally enjoying being home again.

I also had to immediately swap my summer clothing for its fall cousins; when I left on the 20th it was 24C, when I returned it was freezing!  Now it seems to have settled into something in between.

I think it is hard to encapsulate a trip, and those of you who follow me on Instagram know I was a frequent picture taker (and an unabashed fan of the quality of the photos my Samsung smart phone took!).

you don't need an Instagram account to see these, just go to :

Highlights for me?

Stopping for that first glass of rose at the St. Regis, our tradition.

Living in a Parisian neighbourhood for almost a week.

It is a completely different experience when you live in an apartment, go to the same Boulangerie each morning, the same marche, the same cafes. We stayed in the Marais arrondisement and found it absolutely delightful.

Our apartment was also topknotch. We originally found it through Air B&B, but what I liked was that the property was owned by a management company that had several lovely properties. It was clean, comfortable and quiet. And oh-so-charming!

The view out our window into our charming Passage...

On more than one occasion on this trip I thought of chucking everything
 to move to Paris to run a flower shop!

A garden in our neighbourhood

A stumble-upon for us was a new restaurant right around the corner: Le Mazenay. Only open for four weeks, the food was amazing and the server, delightful. We had planned to go another night, but tourist things detained us. Very inexpensive and very good!

I also loved having lunch at Ralph Lauren's flagship store off St. Germain. It was as exquisite as it could be - food, service, atmosphere conspired to make you feel like Ralph's guest. I am sure he looked in the guest book for my name after I left...

Before we went to Ralph's we visited Ines de le Fressange's store.  Charming, but way over-priced in my opinion...

We did little in the way of museums this time, but we did manage to hit the Pompidou finally. What a great space!  So much to marvel at!!!

Mostly though, we walked. And walked. And walked. And then walked some more. I can happily report that those Naturalizer boots were the bomb. They saved me.

Funkiest place we visited? Deyrolles, home of all things taxidermy:

As for the rest of my packing. Sadly, I overpacked. Two of the three dresses and one skirt were never worn. It was simply freezing most evening and I had no desire to freeze my knickers!  Live and learn I say....

Our shopping was somewhat limited by time, interest and money, but I did manage to find some fun shoes and boots for a cheap price that I loved, as well as a Stella Foret white silk-mohair pullover.

Next we headed to Bruges. I had driven through Belgium en route to Holland several years ago, but  staying in Belgium was a treat. People were so friendly and the countryside was gorgeous! Bruges was like stepping out of the 21st century into the 15th. In fact, the hotel we stayed in, Martin's Relais, was originally five merchants' houses combined and it was exquisite.

They upgraded us to a suite at no extra charge (we did not ask for that) and our room overlooking the canal (and the swans, how I love swans) was movie-set worthy.

We walked the cobblestone streets, rode them in a horse and carriage and took a boat ride along the canals.

The food was good (though no France) and I would go there again in a heartbeat. My favourite tourist spot there was The Historium, which recreates the day in the life of a young man in 1435.

Our view

Four hundred year old homes around every corner

And the canals...

In the Carriage.
We couldn't stop saying "horses, horses, horses" as we clip-clopped our way through Bruges


I expect heaven will look like Bruges, and be decorated by Ralph Lauren

Back to Paris for one more night and one more hotel. Hotel Notre Dame is central, overlooking Notre Dame Cathedral, and whimsically decorated, but noisy, and the night we were there, the Brasserie below had a band, which made it difficult to sleep. So while I thought it lovely, I'd recommend this hotel only to deep and easy sleepers!

I never get tired of Paris...

Truly, it was a magical experience and a wonderful place to share our 30th wedding anniversary!  We are already planning #35, which I think may be a Rhine River Cruise if we can ever get dear son through uni. Will keep you posted!!!!

How about you? Up to anything exciting?

xoxo wendy

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Packing for Paris (and Bruges!)

As promised, thought you might be interested in what I'll be taking with me when I leave for Paris in a few days.

This was a bit challenging. There are some warm days, and cool days, at least one day of rain, and even when the days are warm my experience here is that it cools down quickly in the evening in September.

But I am always up for a challenge and am very happy with my choices!

Colour stories are sensible for trips and mine is mostly navy, creams and green.

First up: jackets.

I am taking two jackets: a lightweight navy anorak with hood and my old H&M fatigue jacket.

Can you bring too many t-shirts on a trip? T-shirts take up no space and they are wonderfully comfortable, able to be dressed up and down. I'm bringing whites and navies, one navy sequin tank, a pale grey and a striped t-shirt.

I like pant options. I have a pair of fancy green lace pants for dressing up, a pair each of navy and black cigarette pants, comfy jeans that end at the ankle and one full-length pair in case it gets cool in Bruges as threatened.


All very lightweight. A knit maxi dress, a short dress, an Eileen Fisher black jersey dress and my gold knit skirt.

On silk broderie tunic blouse:

Sweater: navy cashmere cardigan for the plane (layer, layer, layer on the plane I say - I am always freezing in the middle of the night!), a creamy pullover, a green cardigan and a lightweight flax sweater set from J Crew that I bought on sale months ago.

As for accessories, I am bringing three pair of fun earrings and some inexpensive bracelets

Three scarves: a chambray one, an iridescent green one (hard to tell from the picture) and a heavy black one that will double as my blanket on the plane:

Given the latest weather forecast, I am iffy on taking walking sandals. I do need some bling, so I will pack these oldies, but goodies:

I will have knit gloves, a little knit beanie and an umbrella with me as well. For the plane I am bringing cozy socks and slippers to change into (and the cutest blackout mask):

Basically, nothing over the top, and all things that can roll to become very small. I will need room in my suitcase for gifts! 

I reserve the right for last minute substitutions, but I hope they are few!

I will be posting pictures and stories on Instagram and Facebook, so by all means, follow along!
Talk to you as soon as we are back!  Am I missing anything?

xoxo wendy


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Feng Shui and Feet

And not necessarily in that order!

There is something about the end of summer that makes us want to get our house in order, literally and figuratively.

I recently redid my office layout, because I was facing a corner. If I turned left, I could also see the trees, but it was always disconcerting when someone walked into my office!

In Feng Shui, our office desks are supposed to be situated so that we are facing the door.  Our spaces should be clear of clutter as well, since that is supposed to help the energy flow.  My desk was cluttered and even had my black beast of a printer on it, so I was always struggling for a spot to set out my papers.

I love how I've rearranged everything and I can tell you it is pure bliss to work in here now!
Love that early morning sun!

And a bouquet of fresh flowers, along with other plants, makes the space
more enjoyable

I added a small bookcase in here for my everyday writing books

Now when I sit here, this is what I see...

A clear space is a thing of beauty...

I am also in the throes of preparing for my trip to Paris.  Wait, that's not entirely true. I haven't thought a whit about the trip yet (except for reservations made months ago), but I have been obsessed with my feet.

I love to walk.  But my poor flat feet are wretched walkers, and many the trip has been marred by not wearing the correct footwear.

I am taking 3 pairs of shoes on the trip: a pair of walking sandals, a pair of ballet flats, and a pair of flat boots for late evenings and in case the weather is colder up in Belgium.

The challenge with walking shoes is that they tend to be butt ugly. My search took me all over the city for the flat boots, since I already owned the first two items. No way was I ordering online - the Canadian dollar is wretched and returns are a pain!

My footwear on the trip?

Taos walking sandals.  So comfortable!

Naturalizer N5 ballet flats.  Again - you feel like you are wearing slippers.

Naturalizer cycle N5 low black boots.  These are really comfy and I would wear these with a couple of knit midi dresses in addition to pants.

Now that I have my feet sorted out, everything else is gravy. 

How about you?  How are your feet holding up these days? Anyone else use Feng Shui in their home?

xoxo wendy

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Thank God for Fine French Restaurants, Empire TV Series, but most of all, Thank God for Cookie!

Son is gone now till Thanksgiving and it sucked much more than even I thought it would. Such is life I guess...

However, Montreal was a delight and Saturday night we stumbled upon the most amazing French restaurant very close to son's residence: Chez la mere Michel on Rue Guy.

© Chez la Mère Michel - Chez la Mère Michel

Really, it was like stepping into a piece of Provence. Authentic cuisine, attentive and experienced wait staff with tons of stories. (our server, Marc, has worked there for 30 years and is originally from France).


I ordered duck (as I am wont to do) and the boys ordered guinea fowl. All was wonderful and happily washed down with a lovely bottle of wine!

An enjoyable meal and I highly recommend this restaurant!  It made me excited to go to Paris!


When I arrived home, I was seriously homesick for my boy. As luck would have it, my daughter had signed us up for Shomi and I have been catching up on season 1 of Empire.

I'm obsessed I tell you, OBSESSED!

and mostly I am obsessed with Cookie:

No one glares like Cookie - no one....

I will have binge-watched it all by the time the new season begins in a few weeks. 

From one mother to another: thank you Cookie. You did me a solid!

How have you all been?

Friday, August 21, 2015

My work is almost done....

This post is for you parents out there, or for people who once left home themselves....

My littlest bird is leaving the nest next week.

This seems impossible to me, despite the fact that he has been over a foot taller than me for almost a decade.

There are boxes everywhere; lists of things to be packed, decisions to be made.

He is packing his movies. If there is one gift we have given him (besides love, security and almost every Lord of the Rings action figure) it is his love of movies.

We started early and by four he was obsessed with movies and not just in the regular way - he was watching ALL of the special features over and over again, studying choices made by the filmmaker, the actor, the writer. His tastes have gone past my own, his knowledge, except for 1930s and 1940s films, far exceeds my own. Fitting that he leaves to study film at university. Fitting he tried to steal some of my Humphrey Bogart movies.

Really, we have had it good. Except for costing us an arm and leg, he has never caused us any trouble. This is largely, I suspect, because he robbed us of sleep for the first three years of his life and he was, to put it kindly, willful.

There has always been four of us (and often five with the lovely girlfriend). Three will seem odd. And with the third person planning their own imminent departure in the coming months, Two seems well, downright odd.

I worked all through his childhood. I thought that somehow that would make me immune, that somehow I could dodge the empty nest syndrome with my busy life, or my newest baby, the book that will be published next year.

I was wrong.

So next week we will jam the car full of 8 months of belongings. We will drive 9 hours and leave him with a bunch of strangers. He will be happy and fine.

I will be happy and fine.

But a chapter is closing.

He is who he is. Some of that I had a part in, most of that belongs to him and to his peers and to the universe.

I think I have shared this before, but it always makes me laugh at the tragedy of life:

Men love women
women love children
children love dogs

Once upon a time, I walked out of my parent's home with nary a look behind, hell-bent to see the world and live my life on my own terms. I look back now and think "couldn't you at least have said thank-you?" (I did, but not properly until their deathbeds I don't think).

There are no things left unsaid with this fellow who is leaving me. I do not begrudge him his freedom. And really, we are all ready for him to go.

But there is a boy who is forever a baby who is still as alive to me as this 20-year old who will move away next week. It happens in a blink of an eye. I thought I was prepared, I thought I had done enough and now I discover that I forgot to make sure he could play the piano, balance spreadsheets, cook a chicken (oh wait, he's vegetarian), build a house, identify animal tracks, whatever.

There was never enough time for it all, was there? There never could be.

But he is loved. And in the end, that is enough.

xoxo wendy

we'll always have Paris....

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I can't wait for....

The new movie Suffragette slated for release this fall!

This movie looks so good and seems timely, as we have a woman, Elizabeth May, running for Prime Minister here in Canada, and there is of course, Hilary Clinton in the US.

A taste of what's to come:

Dr. Seuss's new book.

I know, it's out, but I haven't gotten a copy yet. I can't wait to get mine!

Ines' new store in Paris!
I have been reading all about her new shop, and I can't wait to stop in and see for myself!

a cure for cancer...

A good friend of mine recently lost their spouse to this dreaded disease and it seems to hit us all very close to home, doesn't it? I'm ready for a cure and saying a lot of prayers...

a glass of wine with family this weekend...

Good for the soul.  I have been meditating lately on grace and peace and have reclaimed my equilibrium around both. Thank goodness for quiet contemplation!

Those are my can't wait for's. How about yours?

xoxo wendy