Florence, il mio amore – Part One

In 2003 I received a nice little work bonus. I looked at it and immediately thought: "Wow, where should I go?" (God forbid I actually put it into a savings account. Nope!) The travel bug had bit me.

Unattached at the time, I grabbed my very lucky mother and off we went to spend an entire week in Florence.  

I had always wanted to visit Florence; to take in the art, shopping, and biking through Tuscany. All of it seemed so perfect. Well, our plans certainly changed once we landed… in the middle of a record-breaking European heat wave. It was the hottest summer on record since 1540!   

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Dear Firenze, mi manchi!

"Dear Firenze, it has been far too long. Mi manchi. Our love affair has suffered… so, I AM COMING BACK!!" 

In a few weeks I will jet out to my beloved Florence. This city is right up there on my love scale with Paris. One enjoyable thing they have in common is that they are both walkable cities. Apart from that, they are completely, and delightfully, different.

When I started to plan my return to the Four Seasons Firenze, the hotel and I immediately came up with the fun idea to team up. During my stay I will be taking over all of their social media channels. For four exciting days, viewers will see this phenomenal and breathtaking hotel, its unique grounds and Florence's sensational and rich culture through my eyes. I hope to show you a genuine and heartfelt view of what this hotel and city has to offer. 

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Because it's Spring and I'm in the Mood... for Gardening

My appreciation for gardening didn't begin until I received the keys to my first house. Living in a downtown condo for years on end prevented me from trying out my green thumb. Then, all of a sudden, I was the owner of two beautifully out-of-control and colourfully packed-full gardens. 

The previous owners left us a list of what was what, and the pressure was on. EEEK! Fast forward eight years, and the gardens have drastically changed, and unfortunately, for the worse. My green thumb is not so green! The elm tree in the front and the darling pink magnolia in the back have grown so fast and so big. In their shade, the other plants have been drastically effected by the loss of sun. Apparently you need to stay on top of this stuff. (Ooops!) I do adore those trees, though!

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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I am a huge fan of lemon. Lemon anything and everything: lemon candy, Spaghetti al Limone, Thai Lemon Chicken, lemon bars, lemon vinaigrette, lemon gelato, lemon cupcakes, lemon popsicles, and my very favourite – from Paris of course – the Tarte au citron meringuée!

I actually squeeze lemon right into my mouth. I could go on all day, but I think you're getting it. 

So when life whipped a thousand lemons my way almost two years ago, it was my family, his family, our friends, the dog, a therapist, a doctor, a life coach, a spiritual healer, mentors, colleagues, and even strangers (basically, an entire village!) who helped me to make some pretty sweet lemonade. 

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Winter in Paris

"Paris is always a good idea." There couldn't be more truth to the saying – many times I have declared that I would take Paris any day of the year. And this January was no exception.

Yes, it's a wee bit damp in the winter months, the kind of cold that settles right into your bones… But! When you're with such a wonderful travel companion, in such a glorious city like Paris, filling up on fresh croissants and staying at one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, the bone-chilling weather quickly becomes a non-issue. 

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Winter in London - Why Not?

When I told people where I was traveling to this winter, the common reaction was wide-eyed surprise, accompanied with a gasp.

"Why wouldn't you go somewhere warm?!" they would respond.

"Why on earth would you want to go to London in January?"

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I am SO ready for 2017!

There are many who have said 2016 was a difficult year for them. I am joining this club! It was a doozy for me. But that was then and this is now. I have never felt more optimistic in my life... about absolutely everything.  

The new year will kick off perfectly with a trip to London and Paris. 

I have just hired a life coach and cannot wait for her guidance in helping me accomplish the ten goals I have set for myself. 

And I will also be giving back by assisting humanitarian Maryam Montague on something new and exciting!

So this year will be a great one. One I will never forget. I feel energetic, focused and poised. I am SO ready for 2017! Are you?  

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The Mayflower Grace

The twisting roads from the highway to The Mayflower Grace are designated "scenic" for a reason. Last year I went in October, when the fiery leaves were at their prime. The vibrancy of the colours was like nothing I had ever seen.

This year, I visited in November. I was once again blessed with beautiful weather. Though most of the leaves had already fallen, the half leafless trees and yards full of leaves were a different kind of pretty. But just as pretty.

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Road Trips and Homemade Apple Crumble Pie!

When I arrived I immediately spotted the basket of apples at the front door. Who has a front door apple basket?!

Lynne looked at me and said, "Should we bake apple crumble pies?" Let me think about that... ahhh, yes!!!

Within minutes we were covered in flour and sugar. The kitchen countertops and floor were also covered in flour and sugar. Sticky apple peels were scattered everywhere – they sure go flying when you aren't using the peeler properly. The smell of melting butter and cinnamon soon engulfed the entire main floor of the house. 

It was baking paradise. 

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Summer Fun in Paris - Part Two

It all started when I met Chef Eddie this past February. I was staying at the hotel and during an afternoon tea service I asked if I could meet the talent behind the cakes. He presented himself and we had instant cake chemistry! Feeling cocky from having just mastered a coconut cake – which called for three separate recipes, I might add – I thought I knew a thing or two about baking.

Nope! He assured me I did not (ha!) and that he would help me bake "a real cake." So it was quickly decided that I would see him later this year for a baking session.

And here we were!  

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