Monday, 25 July 2016

4 Podcasts You'll Love (from someone who never thought they'd love podcasts)

I honestly never thought I'd be interested in podcasts. I didn't think they'd be able to hold my attention, and I had no idea when I'd have time to listen to them anyways. Yet, in the past year I've discovered four podcasts that I sincerely love and enjoy.

1. Serial (Season 1)

The podcast that began the trend (at least for me) of really getting into onto a podcast. From the very first episode Rob and I were hooked, and we binge-listened (is that a term?) to the whole thing in a few weeks. Serial is hosted by Sarah Koenig. It unfolds a true murder story over the course of the season and discusses whether the convicted, Adnan Syed, is truly guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend. Sarah shares conversations she has with Adnan and the evidence both for and against his guilt. This podcast is so gripping! Rob and I often listened to it in bed together before we fell asleep.

2. What Should I Read Next?

My friend Sara tagged me in this podcaster's Instagram feed not too long ago, and it is my new favourite! Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) hosts different guests each week. She has them share their favourite books, a book they hate, and what they're currently reading. After some great bookish discussion, Anne makes recommendations to her guest based on what they've talked about. If you love learning about new books, hearing strong opinions about books (without spoilers), and want to be inspired to read more, check out this podcast. I've been listening to it while I run, and I swear it makes my workouts just fly by because I am so interested in the conversations I'm hearing.

3. Room in the Trees

I have loved and followed the artist and author Sabrina Ward Harrison for nearly 15 years. I was first introduced to her with her book Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself. She is dedicated to living a full, authentic life, and I have always connected with her work. She has a new podcast with Trent Reynolds where they discuss life as a creative person. I've also listened to this podcast while going for a run, and it is a great one to listen to in the mornings (maybe on your commute to work if possible) when you're setting your intentions for the day.

4. Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids

This podcast will make you cringe, laugh, cry, and remember every single awkward thing you did when you were younger. The premise is pretty simple. People read their diaries, journals, and letters from when they were younger. If you enjoy the podcast, you'll also want to check out the documentary on Netflix called Mortified Nation. It's a video version. They sometimes have live events as well, so I'm really hoping to check one of those out next time it's in Toronto.

I never thought I'd really be interested in podcasts at all, and now I don't want them to end! I think next I'm going to check out One Bad Mother. It's about the "thrills and embarrassments of motherhood" while striving for "less judgement and more laughing."


Thursday, 14 July 2016

4 Guilt-Free Pleasures

I'm a firm believer in self-care, so today I'm sharing four of my favourite ways to indulge.

1. Evy's Tree

Evy's Tree sells beautiful, wearable to work, cardigans and hoodies. Yes, hoodies. I own 5. Their tagline is "Everyday luxury. Everyday life." and that exactly describes their amazing products. They are perfect for throwing on when running around with kids, or I can very easily dress them up and wear them to work. They are unique, comfortable, and on high-rotation in my closet.

I also have and love The Kristina in Sage and just ordered The Nicole in Raven.

2. Bella Grace Magazine

Bella Grace is my most recent self-care discovery. It is a women's magazine published quarterly that encourages us to live authentically and with purpose. Each issue contains beautiful photography, heartfelt stories, interactive lists, and spaces where you can even write directly on the pages. From their website:

"We believe: 
an ordinary life can be extraordinary,
there is beauty in imperfection,
and that magic can be found in the everyday.

...Embrace imperfection. Celebrate your messy life. Shine a spotlight on small, everyday moments - they are special, they are yours."

3. Ste. Anne's Spa

Once a year I go to Ste. Anne's Spa with a few close co-workers. We've started a tradition where, as soon as we are finished with all of our meetings at school we have a day booked here to decompress. If you live in or near Toronto, or are ever visiting, it is worth it. They have overnight accommodations, but I recommend a day-spa package.  You get a spa credit, lunch, afternoon tea, and full use of the grounds. Basically you spend all day in a bathrobe feeling like you're in heaven. Another tip - you can bring your own wine for lunch. They will keep it chilled for you, serve when you're ready, and don't charge a corkage fee.

4. Bookworm Boutique

There isn't much I don't love from this online store. I have this mug and this pillow (which Sebastian tries constantly to claim as his own, and I keep having to bring it back to our bedroom). I need a new iPhone case, so one of these may be in my future soon. I loathe international shipping charges, so follow @bookwormboutique on Instagram to find out when they have free worldwide shipping. Plus, their IG feed in general is basically #bookstagramgoals.

So that's it! Those are four pleasures about which I feel zero guilt. Happy summer, friends!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Four Ways Sebastian Is Most Like Us

Sebastian may be only 4, but this little guy is FULL of personality. He is not an exact copy of either Rob or I, but there are some characteristics he has that have clearly come from one, or both, of us.

1. He is very tall for his age. Sebastian was born weighing in at 10.5 pounds and 57 centimetres long (via natural birth thankyouverymuch), and he has maintained that long height and stature ever since. The very first thing I remember after delivering Sebastian was hearing my OBGYN say, "Where were you hiding this baby?" Now, at just over 4 years old, Sebastian is about 3 feet 7 inches tall. He is confused for an older kid all of the time, which can be frustrating because people expect him to do certain things or talk a certain way when he is still not even in school yet. I am 6 feet tall, and my mom says that it was the same for me when I was Sebastian's age. My dad is over 6 feet tall, so this is a trait that clearly runs in our family.

2. He has stunning, deep, brown eyes.  Sebastian's eyes are inherited very much from Rob's side of the family. Both Rob and his mother have striking, brown eyes, and Sebastian has these as well. I like to think they pull you in in the very best way, but they also make him an expert at "puppy dog eyes".

3. He is very observant. Sebastian notices everything. Rob is excellent at this as well. Last summer, when Sebastian was just barely 3, he remembered the exact bench on which my brother-in-law left his keys in the San Diego Botanical Gardens after we all got back to the car and realized we had lost the car keys. Not one of the 4 adults had any idea where they were. Sebastian overheard us talking about the keys and remembered exactly where they were on a bench "near the bubbles". This personality trait is also apparent whenever he's in a new group. My mom swears that Rob and Seb are similar this way. They enjoy meeting new people, and neither of them are particularly shy, but in a group setting with new people, they are the ones taking everything in more than vying for anyone's attention.

4. He believes that books are the very best. To say that Sebastian loves books would be a massive understatement. You can't go very far in our house without bumping into a pile of books or finding a bookshelf full of our favourite reads. When given the choice between a new toy and a new book, Sebastian will almost always choose a new book. We visit the library multiple times a week and somehow still have books we return late because they get lost in the sheer volume of books in our house. I also love reading and collecting books, and I wish on every word that Sebastian always loves to read as much as he does now. He sees me regularly with my latest book in hand, and we talk together about the stories we like to read. His favourites right now are Curious George, Franklin, any of the 5 Minute Fairy Tales books, and most especially I Spy or Look and Find books.


P.S. You still have a few days left to enter the Sleepless in Manhattan book giveaway!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Sleepless in Manhattan - Book Review + Author Interview

Summer reading season is here! I have a number of sexy summer reads lined up for the blog over the next couple of months, and today we are starting with the fun contemporary romance Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan. Sleepless in Manhattan is the first book in a new romantic trilogy set in NYC.

Paige has been in love Jack Romano, her brother's best friend, since she was 17. When she was a teenager, she thought he felt the same way but was humiliatingly shot down when she tried to act on her feelings. Years later, Paige is living in New York City with her two best friends, Eva and Frankie. Jake is also living in NYC, still best friends with Paige's brother, and is the city's hottest millionaire bachelor. After Paige loses her job, she is forced to accept Jake's help to start her own business. As they work together on a project, old feelings resurface and sparks fly, even though Jake makes it clear he is not interested in a serious relationship.

This is my first Sarah Morgan novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The story moved along well and had a few twists I hadn't predicted. Mostly though, I couldn't get enough of Paige and Jack. They were just so perfect together! I loved their background stories, their little arguments, and their sexual tension. Their whole story was deliciously fun, and the setting of the sparkling night lights in New York City is fitting for any romance story. I kept picturing this book as a real romantic comedy film while I was reading it. Whether you're headed to a vacation in a big city, a weekend at the beach, or just doing some lounging by a pool, Sleepless in Manhattan is an excellent guilty pleasure to bring along.


1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve loved writing since I was 8, but I didn’t consider it as a career. Even when I eventually submitted and was published, I didn’t think it would be something I would do full time. For quite a few years writing was something I did in my spare time alongside another job, as it is for so many people. I do feel very, very lucky to be able to do this full time! I make a living by telling stories and that is truly my Dream Job.

2. Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas come from everywhere - from something I’ve read, or something I’ve heard (if I meet a couple I will ALWAYS ask how they met). Sometimes ideas appear from nowhere and that is the magic of writing. It is so exciting when that happens and all you want to do is rush and write the book immediately! Creating characters is fun and gives endless scope for variety. People ask me whether I’m running out of plots but there are as many plots as there are people, so the answer is no.

3. If you were stuck on a deserted island which three books would you want with you?
I love reading and have many favorite authors, but right at the top would be anything by Nora Roberts, Sarah Addison Allen, and Jill Shalvis. I also enjoy historical fiction and love Georgette Heyer, Lisa Kleypas and Nicola Cornick.

4. Where do you like to write?
For years I wrote wherever I could find space, but now I'm lucky enough to have a beautiful office in the garden. It's secluded, shaded by apple trees, and my only visitors are squirrels, birds and bees. It's very peaceful, and I appreciate having protected writing space. I can stick my notes all over the wall and I don't have to move them. Readers can see pictures of my office on any of my social media pages.

You can connect with Sarah Morgan on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

Sleepless in Manhattan is available for purchase here from Amazon and here from Chapters.


Disclaimer – I received a copy of Sleepless in Manhattan from the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To check out what other bloggers had to say about Sleepless in Manhattan, here is the full book tour. Enjoy!