Summer Fun in New York City!

New York City is so much fun that I visited twice this summer! It's also easy to get to for us Torontonians. It's a little more than an hour to fly, and if you're a road tripper like me you'll enjoy the eight-hour drive through beautiful upstate New York en route to the city.

My first trip this summer was in July with my mother, sister and niece. It was a graduation gift for my niece Lauren as she's heading off to university this year. Seriously, where does the time go?!

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Calling All Bookworms!

I just had the loveliest time with novelist Sally Christie, author of the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. I first discovered her series last year, when I picked up The Sisters of Versailles. I'm a sucker for historical fiction – especially anything related to France from the 17th century to WWII. I quickly noticed that it was book number one of a trilogy. Since I don't like it when a good book ends, knowing that there would be two more was a huge bonus!

I devoured it. The story of the Mailly-Nesle sisters is fascinating, and one not told enough. I knew very little of them. In one family, four sisters became mistresses to King Louis XV. Ha! Four! Naughty sisters.

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There's a Package in the Mail!!

So!

I've signed up for a monthly surprise subscription box. It's an interesting thing indeed. I realize that I'm definitely late in the game. It's been a while now that I've seen this relatively new concept of surprise subscription boxes fluttering about on the internet, and I presumed I wouldn't be interested in paying for something I didn't personally choose, so never really gave it any thought… until I actually did. Ha!

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Flowers, Friends and Iris Apfel

Little did we know what we were in for such a wonderful weekend, with champagne constantly flowing, beautiful people to meet, new friends to make… and we each acquired a very precious piece of costume jewellery from the personal collection of the one-and-only fashion icon, Iris Apfel.

It is a bit of a story, and in order to keep it as short as possible, I will just say that we each managed to acquire a piece of Iris's jewellery through a small sale held at the flower show. Iris donated several of her pieces, with proceeds going to the Newport Preservation Society.   

The motivation behind the purchase was that Bettie was hosting Iris that evening for dinner and we all wanted to celebrate her by each wearing one of her pieces. Here is mine. I will cherish the gorgeous, stunning, and quite large dragonfly brooch forever!

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24 Hours in Paris

It has been a rainy and chilly spring in Toronto, yet today I'm writing in the middle of an official heat wave. What gives!?

Actually, the wacky weather conditions are welcomed as my garden is doing unusual things this spring. The bamboo is higher than it's ever been, flowers I didn't realize existed in our garden are popping up here and there and the wisteria vine bloomed for the first time in over 25 years! Seriously – no bloom in over 25 years. So, thank you Mother Nature. I will take your bizarre weather. 

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Florence, il mio amore – Part Two (And a Little Giveaway!)

It goes without saying that arriving home from a beautiful trip leaves you feeling wonderfully fulfilled, but the feeling is even sweeter when your travels allow you to cultivate new friendships. This is specifically what happened to me when I met three lovely ladies on my recent trip to Florence: Martina, Emiko and Margherita. 

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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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