Tag Archives: shopping

A day of small pleasures

Today was my first full day off work in almost six weeks and I can’t tell you how good it feels not to have a series of deadlines looming over me! I do have some legal blog posts to write for a client tomorrow, but even though it’s work, it’s writing, and for some reason writing deadlines never feel like they’re looming over me.

I tried to find a picture that adequately describes the sense of these looming deadlines, but had no luck.  So here’s a quick doodle instead. See the look on my face?

Looming deadlines

I had a medical appointment first, but after that the day turned into a day of small pleasures. First up was a lovely lunch with my daughter, Hayley. She’s just finished filming her thesis film, and it was nice to be able to sit and have lunch together without one or the other of us thinking about having to get back to work.

After lunch, I ended up doing a little bit of shopping on my own. I’m not overly fond of shopping normally, especially in the winter when I get so hot wandering around indoors with my heavy winter jacket on, but when you’ve been more or less stuck inside for nearly six weeks straight  and your shopping has consisted of texts like these to your husband:

Shopping texts

it’s amazing how nice it feels to simply go to the drug store and buy yourself some contact lens solution. While I was there I also picked up some Burt’s Bees Hand Salve too.

Burts bees hand salve

We only had an old container of it left, and while it still worked, it smelled off (yes, it was very, very old). I’ve found this salve to be the best non-medicated salve for when my skin cracks on my hands. Next time I’ll have to order directly from their site – I see it cost me more to buy it from the drug store!

After the drug store, I went to Homesense, a brand-name discount store where I love to browse. It’s my place for picking up small, fun things. I came out with two herbal teas (a strawberry chocolate rooibos blend and a maple roobios blend) and a set of three little writer’s notebooks I just couldn’t resist.

adorable writers notebooks

I need to learn how to take better photos with my iPhone but anyway, aren’t they just adorable? I also love that they’re not all lined. One is lined, another is blank and the third is grid. Just perfect. They had a few more sets with different covers, and I may go back later this week and buy some more.

I popped into Starbucks for a decaf Americano, and then rode the subway back home. Tonight’s Ward’s night for taking Dylan to dance class, so I happily lay on the sofa catching up on my Flipboard (that and Feedly are probably my two most-used apps) and my email. I just started using the Mailbox app, and I’m finding I really like it, especially the Lists feature.

Catching up on the latest productivity posts and articles on Flipboard reminded me I should do something productive, so I got on the computer and cleaned up all my Gmail labels, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. The other day I’d dealt with the emails that needed to be dealt with, and marked the rest of them as “read”. The Mailbox app got me to Inbox Zero today by archiving all my read messages (with just a click of a button, too). I can’t tell you how nice it is not to have a ton of email sitting there, day after day, knowing I would never get around to them all.

Up next: blog reading (aka “adding to Mt. TBR”). After that, my older son, Sean, and I are going to play a board game – probably either Arkham Horror or The Lord of the Rings card game. For dinner, it’s fend for yourself night (because the cook is at dance class with Dylan) so I’ll probably cook up some frozen rotisserie chicken wings.

So that’s been my day off so far – a day of small pleasures, and they all add up to something really wonderful!

Some Shopping Zen

I discovered today that shopping can actually be a Zen experience.

I know. It surprised me too.

Dylan had a Nutcracker rehearsal at the Four Seasons, which is close to the Eaton Centre, the big mall in downtown Toronto. So I decided I’d go there after dropping him off. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and I had a good idea what I wanted to get her.

But first, I was starving. So I took myself to Santouka Ramen and had a lovely bowl of shoyu ramen. Usually there’s a line-up but (1) it was the first real snowy day of the year and (2) since I was by myself I just took one of the stools at the bar in front of the kitchen.

Photo 2014-12-11, 1 08 54 PMYummy Shoyu Ramen

Other than time spent working in front of a computer, I don’t actually get a lot of time to myself. And one of my favourite things to do when I do have a bit of time to myself is to dine out solo. It’s not that I’m fervently anti-social, it’s just that sometimes, it’s nice to sit down and have dinner with just yourself.

So I had a marvellous time, and, feeling properly nourished, I was ready to attack tackle the crowds at the mall. You’d think it being the middle of a weekday, there wouldn’t be any crowds, but the place was pretty full (I’d hate to see what it must be like on the weekends) – but not so packed that it made you feel like you wouldn’t get anything accomplished.

I went straight to the store where I wanted to get Hayley’s present. Well, not quite “straight to”, as I had to look it up first and then find my way there. But it was nice getting there. There were big wire reindeers wrapped in white lights and a generally happy kind of vibe in the air. People were smiling, probably glad to be inside getting some shopping done rather than outside in the wet snow.

It took me a while to decide on just the right birthday gift, but when I was done, I realized I still had two hours before I had to go pick up Dylan.

Two Whole Hours.

To Myself.


And this is where the Zen kicked in. I kind of got lost in the zone after that. I wandered around looking at things, not feeling any need to buy and being really comfortable with Just Browsing. And then I passed the big Chapters book store. With a Starbucks inside.


I spent most of my time at Chapters in the cookbook section, because reading cookbooks is something I love to do, and for some reason, reading cookbooks usually falls to the very bottom of my priority list. I found some interesting titles, which I jotted down in the Drafts app on my iPhone (which oh so conveniently appends whatever I write onto a list titled “Books” that’s stored in my Dropbox).

We have, more or less, placed a moratorium on buying more cookbooks until we weed through the ones we have, as our apartment is too small for us to squeeze any more shelves in and cookbooks by their nature tend to be much bigger than novels. But! There’s always the library, right?

Cookbooks That Caught My EyeCookbooks that caught my eye

I wandered happily upstairs to where the Starbucks was, but the line-up was long, so I wandered back downstairs, and took this picture for my Christmas wish list, which I then texted to Ward (technology makes things like letting people know what you want for Christmas SO easy).

Photo 2014-12-11, 2 56 02 PM

(Can you tell, my mind’s been on food all day?)

And after all of this lovely shoppingness, I still had time. The luxury of it! After close to two months of constant, consistent deadlines – which kind of worked like this: deadline, deadline, overlapping deadlines, deadline, overlapping deadlines, deadlines – it was so amazing to have all this time to myself.

It didn’t take me long to decide my next move. I headed over to the Timothy’s World Coffee at Atrium on the Bay, ordered an iced decaf Americano (because I was so hot after spending all that time wandering the shops while in my winter coat) and spent the rest of the time leisurely reading and commenting on blogs, adding to my TBR list and writing the beginning of this blog post.

So I spent the day shopping and I felt so present the entire time. I tell you, this was a first for me. And it was really, really lovely.

And hopefully I can get this magical shopping vibe going every time I go shopping from now on.

Prom Dress Shopping!

image Yes, that’s right. I went prom dress shopping last week.

The last time I went prom dress shopping, I was 18. Let’s just say a handful of years have passed by since then, and leave it at that, shall we?

My daughter and I made a date to go into the city last Wednesday, during her March Break. We took the GO train (our local commuter train system), which was rather a bit of an adventure in itself.

First, there was the issue of parking. We were cutting it close to the wire (the trains leave once an hour, so it was basically do-or-die time, parking-wise), and I do believe we snagged the absolute last available spot. It happened to be at the far end of the secondary lot across the street, but still, we cheered as I pulled into the spot. And then we ran. Or at least, Hayley did. Mine was more of a fast jog/walk thing.

Then when the train pulled into Union Station, which was our stop, for some strange reason we were all let off on the platform next to the VIA train. This platform, it turns out, is particularly unusual, because it appears to be serviced only by one elevator.

Picture this: about 100 people (or so it seemed, anyway) milling around on a train platform, looking for stairs and seeing only one rather small elevator.

Luckily, after a while someone realized what had happened, and they opened up the doors to the train we’d just gotten off, and got everyone to get back on and exit out the doors on the other side. To the platform with stairs.

It was actually a kind of fun, Twilight Zone moment during which I kept saying to Hayley, “You know, I really don’t think there are any stairs on this platform. No sirree. No stairs. I really don’t think so. Nope. No stairs as far as I can see.”

I had thought Hayley wanted to shop at Eaton Centre, the big shopping mall in the heart of downtown Toronto. And we did go there (after getting lost for a bit in PATH, the underground pedestrian system, which I once knew like the back of my hand. Now? Not so much.) But Hayley took one look inside, realized all the stores were exactly like all the stores in the mall at home, and back out we came.

(Because, as I remember well from the last time I went prom dress shopping, you don’t want to be wearing something that looks too similar to what everyone else is wearing. At least, I didn’t, and Hayley definitely takes after me that way.)

So we ended up on Queen St. West, where there are all sorts of really cute boutique dress stores, and lots of different restaurants. Not to mention, The Condom Shack.

Want to know something funny? Every shop we went into (but no, not the Condom Shack …), we found teenage girls shopping … with their mothers!

I have this theory: “Just call me the walking credit card.” There were a lot of us walking credit cards crowded into those little dress shops that day. I’d be standing outside one of the dressing room doors, waiting for Hayley, and I’d look in the mirror and see five other mothers lined up behind me, standing outside their daughters’ dressing room doors.

Actually, it turned out Hayley had no real intentions of buying a prom dress that day; she just wanted to go looking with me. She was going into the city again with friends on the Friday, and she figured she’d probably buy her dress then.

So once I learned this, the day turned into fun mother-daughter day! Which was very nice indeed (not that I minded prom dress shopping day, it’s just that fun mother-daughter days are really just about the best things invented.)

We squeezed in a nice leisurely early dinner at a Japanese restaurant in between trying on dresses; it was one of those order-off-the-menu, all-you-can-eat-but-if-you-leave-too-much-expensive-sushi-fish-on-your-plate-we-will-charge-you places. We ate too much, naturally, and stumbled back out onto Queen Street some time later. By then the gray, it’s going to rain weather had turned into really gorgeous sunshine, something we’d not had for a few weeks here.

(Toronto gets very cold in the winter, but I’ll say this about its weather – we get quite a lot of sun despite the cold. Just not so much in the recent weeks leading up to March Break.)

Hayley tried on a ton of dresses, but didn’t find any she liked enough to buy. Then I walked into a store, and saw a summer dress that basically shouted “This dress belongs to Belle Wong”.

You know the end of that story, right?

So yes, I was the one who came home with a dress. Hayley got some deodorant from the drug store, so she can’t say I didn’t buy her anything.

We walked back to Union Station and caught the 9 o’clock train. When we got off the train, the parking lot was a lot emptier and the car looked a lot farther away than I remembered (and irrationally, I thought to myself, why did I park so far away?).

Oh! And I even have a punch line to this prom dress shopping tale. I woke up the next morning – with shin splints! We did a lot of walking that day (and if you’ve never gone walking with a very fit, teenage girl, you just won’t understand). Yes, you may laugh. My husband did.

Photo credit

Another Book-Buying Binge! (Or, Why I Shouldn’t Go To Costco Anymore)

Yesterday I accidentally indulged in another book-buying binge. Yes, in case you’re wondering, it was totally by accident. I had no intentions of splurging on anything when I entered Costco.

Unfortunately, since it’s summer, the book section at Costco is a dangerous place for a book lover to be. I think the marketing assumption is that in the summer, people buy books to read on the beach or on holidays.

I’m thinking now that those marketing people are geniuses. Either that, or I’m extraordinarily susceptible to marketing ploys. (Okay, so maybe it’s the latter.)

Here’s the stack I came home with:


And here are the covers:

It Would Be Funny... If It Wasn't My Life, by Lisa DowTailSpin, by Catherine CoulterThe Last Oracle, by James RollinsThe Flying Troutmans, by Miriam ToewsWicked: Witch & Curse, by Nancy Holder and Debbie ViguiéThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg LarssonExit Lines, by Joan BarfootThe Society of S, by Susan HubbardThe Year of Disappearances, by Susan HubbardHow To Be Single, by Liz TuccilloThe Book of God and Physics, by Enrique JovenBrainMatics Logic Puzzles, by H. F. UllmannOne Fifth Avenue, by Candace BushnellDK Encyclopedia of Animals, by DK Publishing

I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to read these. I do, however, feel good knowing I now have them on hand, for whenever the right reading mood strikes.

Want to know something even sadder? Do you see the BrainMatics Logic Puzzles? My husband (who happens to be just as bad when it comes to cookbooks, by the way) happened to slip a copy of this one into the cart, too, thinking I’d enjoy it. So we came home with TWO copies. I’m promising myself I won’t give in to temptation again when we go back to Costco to return the duplicate copy.

Do you go on book-buying binges occasionally? Please say yes!