Author: try small things

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She likes long, romantic walks down the beauty aisle: Update your skincare and makeup for summer with TSC + A giveaway!

I received the products mentioned in this post for free from TSC in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and not those of Rogers.

Of course there’s worse things than using makeup past its expiry date (like going to the dump and bringing back more than you took or making change in the church collection plate) but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts you’ve got more than a few products that should have been pitched way back. (Me too!) I know it can be expensive to replace and risky to put your money on something new and never tried, and that’s why I love TSC’s summer beauty tote and cosmetic bag. They’re packed with makeup and skin care basics and nice-to-haves in full and trial sizes, together valued at more than $480 for just $75. So you can let some of those old lipsticks, eyeshadows and moisturizers go without feeling like you broke the bank. My mom (who likes long, romantic walks down the beauty aisle) was visiting a few weeks ago when this year’s tote and bag arrived and she kindly agreed to help me show you what’s inside. (I’ve included links where available; a few aren’t yet online but coming soon.) 

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She: Muses, Visionaries and Madcap Heroines by Kate Spade New York

Abrams Books sent me a copy of She in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

I keep thinking about a blog post I read about Kate Spade shortly after she died. “It is important to not only celebrate her life,” wrote Kate Arends, “but to try and understand her death in a way that changes the dialogue around what it means to create a persona and be a person.” The stark contrast between Spade’s public persona and private pain does not make her brand any less authentic, Arends says. “I can only assume that so much of the Kate Spade brand … came from a deep understanding of what it means to be human,” Arends says. “The highs, the lows, the beauty, the darkness.” It’s a great post and I could quote it all day (you should read it) but what I’m getting to here are two things: 1) that Kate Spade herself belongs in the pages of the brand’s fourth book, She: Muses, Visionaries and Madcap Heroines; and 2) that the women celebrated in the book — even those larger than life — each experience (or experienced) struggles that informed who they are: whole, fallible, three-dimensional people who can inspire us by their words and actions, regardless of how much of their inner lives they choose to let us see. 

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Five things

Hey everybody! How’s July treating you? I’m writing from the train home to Ottawa after a few days visiting family in Barrie and Toronto. I hadn’t seen my brother-in-law and his hubby in ages and my own brother and nephew in even longer so a trip down was well overdue. I’d planned to write a few book reviews while I was away but felt soooooo lazy (maybe from the constant eating? you know how one meal blends into another when you’re on vacation) so that didn’t happen. 

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What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food + Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart + Win a copy!

Abrams Books sent me a copy of What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

Ottawa summers are like Zac Ephron: short and hot. California hot. Too hot to think about what to have for dinner, but too short not to make the most of all of the fresh fruits and veggies in season. Luckily people like Gaby Dalkin have done the thinking for us. The LA recipe blogger from What’s Gaby Cooking just released a cookbook with the same name, and it’s full of everyday dishes designed to be made and enjoyed in an easy, carefree, Cali state of mind. The 125+ recipes use fresh seasonal produce and readily available pantry staples for dishes for any occasion, from a day at the beach or a picnic at the park, to a Mexi-Cali fiesta and outdoor pizza party. Nourishing smoothies and salads and veg-and-grain-packed bowls are balanced with indulgent treats like Strawberry Shortcakes, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares (sooooo deelish!) and a Summer Fruit Galette. Here’s a look inside the book and a recipe to try (we did!), the Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart. 

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What’s Inside July’s Sweet Reads Box

I received July’s Sweet Reads Box free of charge to review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

What kind of books do you like for summer? A light romance? A mystery that keeps you guessing? An epic historical drama spanning four generations? Or do you like to read the same kinds of stories year-round? July’s Sweet Reads Box features a bestselling family saga told in more than 500 pages and some treats tied to the story to enjoy while you’re reading. 

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Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way + Fish Tacos + Win a copy!

Abrams Books sent me a copy of Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

Although Nathan Turner didn’t get as much air time as the other stars of Million Dollar Decorators (probably because he stayed pretty clear of the drama), I always wished we’d seen more of his California Casual style. “To me, it means a laid-back room, a friendly host, and a beautiful table with simple recipes and fresh ingredients,” the decorator/author/entertainer and California native says in the introduction to his new book (and my wish come true), Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat and Entertain the West Coast Way

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Five things

I received some of the products mentioned in this post free of charge and name the sponsors below. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

For a couple of years in my teens I worked at the only Tim Hortons in town. The steady stream of customers kept us counter girls hopping, but the instant we caught a break and stopped to chat our manager would waltz through the swingy saloon doors dividing the back from the front and say, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” (Which naturally we resented.) I remembered that this weekend when I had some time to lean, but instead of avoiding the mess like I usually do, I leaned into it and cleaned my little heart out. Then rewarded myself with a good chunk of my book — I’m finishing Calypso — a few episodes of Queer Eye, and a couple of awesome spin classes at The Dailey Method. (This coming Saturday marks the end of the latest 30-day challenge where you try to do as many classes as you can in 30 days. I wanted to do 26 but will probably only get to 17.) And then we had that incredible rainbow last night! Good things are coming. 

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What’s inside June’s Sweet Reads Box

I received the June Sweet Reads Box free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

Summer is the season for adventure and June’s Sweet Reads Box celebrates that with a story revolving around one fateful camping trip and a selection of outdoorsy goodies that us indoor cats can still enjoy without putting a foot outside. If you’re new to Sweet Reads Box, it’s a Canadian book subscription box service that comes with a contemporary novel and five or six treats related to the story. I’ve been reviewing them here since they first launched last fall and this month’s box is one of my faves. (And not just because of the cute mug, but that definitely tipped the scale.) 

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Staycation vibes: Playing ladies of leisure at the Alt Hotel Ottawa

Lily and I enjoyed a complimentary one-night stay the Alt Hotel Ottawa in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

A girlfriend just told me she heard someone say that 80% of the time you spend with your kids happens when they’re under 10. Which totally makes sense, but still shocked me to hear. My kids are already 9 and 11! Time is marching on way too fast. So I’m so glad Lily and I spent some quality time together with a wee staycation at Alt Hotel Ottawa earlier this month. We haven’t travelled much so staying in a hotel still feels like a treat, and the staff made both me and my tween feel right at home. Here’s a few (okay 22) photos from our stay and some notes about the property.