JNG’s Weekly Round-Up #2

Hello and Happy Monday!

It’s a holiday here in Toronto, so I decided to postpone my Weekly Round-Up until today to give you a full picture of what I accomplished this week. I’ll be following the same format I used last week, and this was an incredibly productive weekend where I was actually able to finish three books and write reviews of them. I was so happy with this and I really feel like my commitment to reading has picked up a lot this year! Last year, I struggled to balance working full-time, commuting, spending time with my fiancé (we were living apart) and reading in the evenings. My only reading time came during my lunch breaks and my evening bus rides. I was quite worried, when I moved in with my fiancé and started walking to work, that without an evening bus commute, I wouldn’t be reading very much at all. But, as it turns out, I’ve been spending more time than ever reading, and I’m actually zipping through books as quickly as I used to in school – this is all down to the fact that my fiancé and I have this amazing routine where we go to the gym right after work, make dinner and then spend the entire night (hours on hours) reading beside one another on our plush, gold couch with steaming teas. My fiancé is big on reading graphic novels, and he gets so excited about reading beside me and pausing to tell me bits and pieces of his stories, and this offers me so much time to delve into my own fictional worlds. I’m obsessed with this new routine of ours, and honestly, I get really grumpy and annoyed if anything at all happens to interrupt it!

Anywho, on to my more formal update for this week. Here is a reminder of the topics I will be discussing in today’s Weekly Round-Up…

  1. What I’m Currently Reading
  2. What I’ve Recently Finished Reading
  3. What I Intend to Read Next
  4. My Favourite Quote of the Week (from any form of pop culture – literature, movies, music, etc.)
  5. My Favourite/Most Listened To Song of the Week
  6. Photo of the Week
  7. My *Weekly Wish*

• Currently Reading •

At the moment, I’m about 20 pages into Graeme Simsion’s contemporary novel The Rosie Project. I’ve been taking this one slow, since I started it yesterday, because I spent a lot of time reading on Friday and Saturday, so I just want to slow down my reading a touch. Having said that, I don’t know how I feel about this novel just yet. I know I’m not very far into it at all, but I can already tell that I’m not really connecting to the narrator, Professor Don Tillman. I should say that I am not at all a fan of the show the Big Bang Theory, and I’ve heard Tillman being compared to the character Sheldon Cooper, so I am a bit wary of that. But, I’ve been meaning to read this novel for a long time, so I’m going to plug through it and give it a chance. Hopefully, it ends up surprising me!

• Recently Finished •

This past weekend, I finished three books in total, two of which I started and finished within a day. The three novels were Shooting Scars and Bold Tricks by Karina Halle and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. You can read my detailed reviews of them here and here.

• What’s Next •

That is a darn good question! I really have no idea what I’m going to read after finishing The Rosie Project, and this is NOT for lack of physical books around me. I have about 20 books sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be picked up. Some of them are standalone, contemporary novels. Others are massive fantasy series. I have no idea what my plan is, or when I’m going to get through all of these. I’m thinking, though, that after finishing The Rosie Project, I may read one more standalone novel, and then delve into the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. I think that will allow me to put a significant dent in my contemporary literature pile, but then get back into the fantasy realm that I’m missing a little bit. One thing I do know for sure is that I want to finish off the year reading a classic, and I’ve already decided that my December read will be Bleak House by Charles Dickens. So, if all goes according to plan, by the time I get married, I will be deep into Bleak House – I think that’s fitting considering I’m having a Victorian-inspired wedding!

• Quote of the Week •

This week’s quote comes from a song, rather than a work of literature. I’ve been listening to Sia’s song Helium nonstop for the last little while, and I absolutely love it! It reminds me so much of my relationship with my fiancé, and it is the song I always rush to put on at work whenever I’m feeling the least bit anxious or depressed.

“But even Superwoman sometimes needed Superman’s soul /

Help me out of this hell /

Your love lifts me up like helium.”

• Song of the Week •

Naturally, my song choice of the week is Sia’s Helium. Having said that, my fiancé and I recently signed up for a Spotify account, so that has made sooo much music available to us! This past weekend, we’ve been obsessed with listening to the soundtrack for the musical Hamilton, and I’m literally addicted to it. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius (okay, everyone knows this already, but I felt I should restate it), and if I had to select one favourite song from Hamilton, I’d go with Helpless because it is adorable and harkens back to all these incredible love songs from the 50’s. I LOVE it! Everyone needs to listen to this soundtrack! (I’m actually currently listening to it, as I write this, and My Shot is such a catchy song too – it is just way too difficult to pick a favourite!)

• Photo of the Week •

My favourite photo of this week is another one my fiancé took of me during our bookish photoshoot a couple of weeks ago. I originally thought this photo was too ridiculous to post and that it was a bit embarrassing, but after I put it on Instagram, so many people complimented me on it that I started to see it as cute and endearing. And really, my whole inspiration for it was to look like Eliza Doolittle, balancing books on her head in the hopes of becoming a dignified lady, as paradoxical as that may seem!

• JNG’s Weekly Wish •

My wish for this week is that it will go by quickly. I have so many fun plans for next weekend already, including going to a Greek food festival downtown and celebrating my mom’s birthday, and I just can’t imagine sitting at my desk for hours and daydreaming about freedom. I’m also going out tonight with my fiancé and my dad – we’re heading downtown to see the WWE’s Monday Night RAW live. I am actually so excited about this because I LOVE wrestling and I grew up watching Monday Night RAW with my dad, so I cannot wait to be watching it live, in such a big venue (I’ve been to see WWE wrestling at a smaller venue in Oshawa, but this is Monday Night RAW we’re talking about)! Amidst all this excitement, and considering that my wedding is just over four months away, I really am over work – but I mean, aren’t we all, especially on long weekends? And all things considered, my job and work environment are pretty awesome…so maybe my weekly wish should be that I’ll feel inclined to complain less…???

Enjoy your Monday everyone! I know Mondays can be tricky days, but isn’t it nice to get a fresh start every week? Let’s all try to embrace it!

xox

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

JNG’s Weekly Round-Up #1

Hi Everyone and Happy Sunday!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog lately, and how frequently I post, and I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for posts that I can publish in between book reviews. As I mentioned recently, I’ve been reading a lot of series of books (such as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas and the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo) and I seem to feel more comfortable reviewing these series once I’ve finished all of the books in them. For that reason, I don’t have as many book reviews to post, as often, and I was beginning to get self-conscious about the fact that too much time was passing between my posts. I’ve also always intended for my blog to have lifestyle aspects as well, and it is a very personal endeavour for me, so I’ve been trying to come up with ways to update all of you lovely readers on both what I’m reading and what I’m up to on a regular basis.

For all these reasons, I think I’m going to introduce a new type of post to the blog: a Weekly Round-Up. This will be a good way for me to discuss what I’m reading, even if I’m not ready to post a formal review, as well as what other elements of pop culture I’ve been loving at the moment. Particularly with my wedding rapidly approaching (less than 5 months now!!!), I thought this would also be a great way to let you all know how planning is coming along and share some of the wedding-related excitement that I’m currently experiencing.

I came up with a general structure for these Weekly Round-Ups, but it absolutely will be subject to change depending on the week and the updates I want to share with all of you. I’ve had so many sources of inspiration for this sort of post from the multiple brilliant bookish blogs I’ve started following and avidly reading recently, but I’ve tried to tweak the format and content to something that will work for me personally and will fit with the theme of The World of my Green Heart. Generally, JNG’s Weekly Round-Up will include the following components…

  1. What I’m Currently Reading
  2. What I’ve Recently Finished Reading
  3. What I Intend to Read Next
  4. My Favourite Quote of the Week (from any form of pop culture – literature, movies, music, etc.)
  5. My Favourite/Most Listened To Song of the Week
  6. Photo of the Week
  7. My *Weekly Wish*

So, let’s get right into it then – here is my Weekly Round-Up for this week…

• Currently Reading •

At the moment, I’ve gone back to my romance loving roots, and I am so close to finishing the first novel in the Artists Trilogy by Karina Halle, Sins and Needles. I have to say, it is unlike any “romance” novel I’ve ever read. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely sexy and intense, but what I appreciate is that there isn’t too much of a focus on the actual romance between the two main characters, Ellie and Camden. Although their budding relationship is certainly an important part of the plot, their relationship is also much more realistic in that they actually do things together, they face many obstacles and they do much more than lie in bed all day and talk about how much they love each other. Ellie and Camden are also two extremely badass characters, with complex and intricate backstories, and the fact that Camden is a tattoo artist just adds to the uniqueness of the entire story. And, sidenote, I really badly want a tattoo now…like REALLY badly! I’m definitely really excited to finish this first book and delve deeper into the series as a whole.

• Recently Finished •

Earlier this week, I finished the third and final novel in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. You can read my review of the series here, but I will repeat that I definitely did enjoy this series very much! While it wasn’t my favourite fantasy series that I’ve read this year, I was thoroughly impressed by the world building, the intricate detail of the powers of each of the Grisha, and I grew to love the characters, particularly Alina, as they grew and progressed from the first novel. It was a highly entertaining series and I would definitely recommend it – I think it would probably really suit an older young adult audience, especially students in grade 12 or entering university.

• What’s Next •

This section is easy this week because, as I said before, I’m planning to continue the Artists Trilogy and move onto the second novel in Karina Halle’s series as soon as I finish the first (which will definitely happen today).

• Quote of the Week •

This section will probably always prove to be a bit tricky for me because, when I’m reading a novel I’m thoroughly into, I tend to be moved by many passages and sentences throughout my reading experience. This week though, I think I’ll select a quote from my current read, Sins and Needles, because when I read it, I felt that it so expertly represented the intricacies of love, the intricacies of personalities, and the fact that loving someone means accepting all of the components of their identity and being, and loving each of them with an open mind and heart.

“‘Beautiful, sad, wounded, and lost…A freak, a work of art, a liar, and a lover.’” ~ Camden speaking of Ellie

• Song of the Week •

Okay, this is truly tricky because I am loving sooo much music at the moment! I’m specifically really into the band Haim, who I only discovered a few months ago but have become totally obsessed with. Their music is so different and unlike anything I’ve ever heard recently, and it calls back to the 80’s in so many fabulous ways. Their harmonies are also absolutely GORGEOUS, and their chemistry, considering that they are three sisters, is endearing. If I had to pick one of their songs as my favourite for this week, I’d have to go with their single Want You Back from their new album Something To Tell You. The music video for this song is extraordinary and I swear I watch it about 5 times a day – it’s like I’m addicted to it! The ladies of Haim are just so effortlessly cool and I want to be one of them – go YouTube this music video ASAP!

• Photo of the Week •

This week, I asked my wonderful fiancé to take a bunch of new photos of me, and because he’s such a great sport, he went all out and spent about an hour photographing me. I’ve seen so many adorable photos on Goodreads lately of readers with their most favourite books, and I desperately wanted a nice one of myself with my cherished fictional friends. So, here you have a photo of me with my favourite stories – I happen to think my fiancé did a wonderful job of capturing my bookish qualities!

• JNG’s Weekly Wish •

My wish for this week is that it would be fall again. I have to be honest, I despise summer – it is too hot and sticky and I just can’t deal with the sun because it makes me itchy and grumpy. All I want is for it to be October or November or December, when the weather is cool but not unbearably frigid. And I’m sorry, but the environment looks so much more beautiful in the fall, when the trees are all colourful and the landscape is more rustic. Are these photos below not solid evidence of that?

There we are, my first Weekly Round-Up! I hope you enjoyed it…let me know what you think of this new (for me) post idea!

Have a lovely end to your weekends, Everyone!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

My Literary Maidens

Apologies are in order…big time!

I am so so sorry that I have been MIA on the blog for almost a month. Trust me, I get it – this is no way to show my appreciation for all you lovely readers!

However, allow me to promise you that a giant, mammoth of a book review is on its way VERY soon. If you follow along with me on Goodreads, or if you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I’ve been buried deep in the world of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series for quite a while now. That’s the reason for my lack of posts – I’ve been so enthralled with my reading, so eager to delve into my book and not put it down for the entire night, that I haven’t actually had anything else to review (although I know this is no excuse, considering I could’ve offered you some lifestyle posts in the meantime – massive apologies again!). I even chose to skip right past writing a review for the second novel in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury, because I just wanted to blaze right into the third book instead. And, I did exactly that – I am about two hundred pages away from completing A Court of Wings and Ruin, and my heart is already breaking at the thought. I have so enjoyed living in this world, with Feyre and all of her friends, and I simply do not want it to end. Hence why I have been reading extremely slooowly, savoring every last sentence and image and adventure.

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time – and I swear, a book review of the entire ACOTAR series is on its way.

Having said that, when I realized a few days ago that I haven’t posted anything here in almost a month, I was horrified! I knew I had to get something out to you, and I also knew that I needed to exercise my writing muscles again, lest they get out of practice. So, on to a bit of a different topic… Here is another wedding-related post for you all…

“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated.”

~ Pygmalion

Left to right: Lady Camille, JNG, Lady Courtney and Lady Kailah ❥

I count myself well and truly lucky to have some of the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for. My three best friends, my maidens, my bridesmaids, are among the most inspiring, beautiful and kind women I have ever known, and not only are they a constant source of pride for me, they also treat me with this unwavering respect and love. At times it is overwhelming to fully comprehend how loyal and dedicated they are to me and to our friendships, and they have each been the most incredible helpers throughout my wedding planning experience so far. To borrow from the idea presented in the quote above, my bridesmaids treat me like an absolute queen and make me feel so remarkably special, and I will forever be grateful for that. I cannot wait to return the favour at each of their own weddings! (Note: You can read a detailed post introducing and describing each one of my bridesmaids here.)

Not a single thing in the world could persuade me to change the three women I selected as my bridesmaids because they are the most perfect women that ever walked the planet. Having said that, there is one thing that could persuade me to increase their number – to add a few more ladies to my maiden fold – and that would be if my three favourite females from literature could jump out of the pages of their individual works and become real-life women. I recently found myself thinking about this, wondering which three heroines I would select to join myself and my bridesmaids in all of the wedding planning and events. And, there was absolutely no question – three literary heroines popped into my mind without hesitation, and I truly believe each of these women would fit in so well with my three best friends because they are all quite alike. I like to think I keep very good company, and I believe that even these women of the fictional world would adore my real-life bridesmaids instantly, and vice versa.

~ So, here we have it, my selections for My Literary Maidens (in no particular order, of course). ~

Jane Eyre

“Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner; and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien—I forgave him all…”

Was there any doubt that Jane Eyre was going to be on this list? Well, there shouldn’t have been. Jane Eyre is the one literary character that I will always owe so much of my personality, my morals and my convictions to. If I wasn’t such a chicken, I’d already have this Charlotte Brontë inspired tattoo on my skin that I’ve been dreaming up for years now, because that authoress is someone I will forever be indebted to. Jane Eyre, and the novel named after her, taught me so much about love, about soul mates, and about sacrifice. She presented a strong and dignified example to me at the most critical time in my life, when I was just leaving high school, and her story emphasized to me that it is possible to find an all-encompassing love that consumes but does not overcome you. Jane Eyre taught me that love is not an easy road, that there are countless obstacles on the way to finding it and also within a relationship, but that True Love means forgiveness, it means being strong enough to stand up for your love, to fight for it. To have Jane Eyre stand beside me on my wedding day would mean having a true role model in my midst, it would mean acknowledging that fortitude is an aspect of True Love that I will always apply in my own life.

Clare Abshire

“I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?”

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel that I also read when I was finishing up high school, and it is without doubt on par with Jane Eyre in my green heart. Clare Abshire is a source of undeniable inspiration in that novel, if only because she is constantly waiting for her love (time traveler, Henry DeTamble) to come home to her. Clare puts up with a lot of turmoil and tragedy in her relationship with Henry, and she faces every obstacle with unfailing resolve and impenetrable will. She is the very definition of a strong woman, and she has always been a model for me of how to overcome jealousy, uncertainty and insecurity. Clare is so confident in Henry’s love for her that she doesn’t let the little things, like ex-girlfriends in his life, or even the big things, like his regular absence, to get to her. She has a lot to face and get through in loving Henry, but she tackles each situation with a calm that is utterly remarkable. Clare Abshire taught me that love means being patient, it means waiting for The One and then hanging onto him through thick and thin, being his rock, his anchor. To have Clare Abshire stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love really can conquer all, and that the right love will survive all obstacles of time and distance.

Eliza Doolittle

“Aha! Now I know how to deal with you. What a fool I was not to think of it before! You can’t take away the knowledge you gave me….Oh, when I think of myself crawling under your feet and being trampled on and called names, when all the time I had only to lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could just kick myself.”

I admit, it was a bit trickier for me to come up with my third literary bridesmaid…but only for about two seconds. Then, it dawned on me, what better bridesmaid to have than the original flower girl, Eliza Doolittle of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Eliza isn’t your classic romantic heroine whatsoever, and that’s what makes her a character that taught me so very much about love and relationships. I read Pygmalion for the first time after starting university, but I’ve been a fan of My Fair Lady since I was something like 6 years old, so Eliza Doolittle has always been a mentor to me. And what a remarkable and unique woman she is – Eliza Doolittle is a woman who does not stand down, who is not flattened or trampled on by any of the men around her. Although she is fond of her professor Henry Higgins, she refuses to have her personality muddled or diluted by him, and she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Her main objective throughout the entire play is to better herself, to lift herself up in society, and while her pseudo-partner Higgins assists her on her journey and gives her the tools to be a better version of herself, she is the one who gets down and dirty, who battles every day with society’s expectations and uses her indomitable will and strength to get ahead and make a name for herself. Eliza Doolittle is one of the strongest female characters that exists in literature, and that comes from her defiance of societal norms and her desire to question and interrogate the social structures around her. To have Eliza Doolittle stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love does NOT mean losing your identity or becoming a mere domestic goddess. It would mean acknowledging that being a woman in love, being a wife, does NOT mean giving up on your dreams or stifling your passions. It would mean proclaiming that the right husband, the right partner, will give you wings to fly and build your own name, for yourself.

With friends like these, how could a girl go wrong? My three real-life best friends and my three fictional ones are the pillars of my personality, the puzzle pieces that go together perfectly to make me into the woman I am today, the one that my fiancé fell in love with. Without each of them, I would be nowhere close to who I am at this moment, and I am so honoured that each of them will play a part in my Big Day…because believe me, I plan to make Jane and Clare and Eliza a real presence on my wedding day, even if they can’t be there in person…so stay tuned for posts about that in the future!

See you all again very soon, I promise!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Pinning Away

“She’s the kind of magic that you marry.” – Adrian Michael

Happy Sunday dear Readers and Happy Canada Day long weekend!

If you’ve been following along with me on Twitter, you’ll notice that my #JNGReads quotes for this week were a little bit different. I did begin the week by quoting from the new book I’ve delved into, Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield, which is already quite engrossing and beautifully written. After that, though, I changed my style a little bit and started posting picture quotes rather than simply tweeting a bunch of words at you. I will go back to quoting from the novel I’m reading soon, but I thought it would be nice to present some of the wonderful and meaningful quotes I’ve recently come across in picture form so that there would be a lovely visual to go along with the poignant words. One of these quotes, which I posted yesterday, was from the recent 2011 film adaptation of none other than my favourite novel Jane Eyre, and I often find it fun to search for artistic representations of some of my favourite passages and scenes from the story.

“You transfix me, quite.” – Edward Rochester

So, my Twitter page was a touch more visual this week than it has been previously. The reason for this is that recently (what with the wedding planning and all) I have become moderately obsessed with Pinterest. Okay, okay, I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I never felt the need to sign up for Pinterest until I started wanting to catalogue ideas for my wedding. I then realized that I actually do really enjoy looking at pictures. Instagram is probably my favourite app on my phone (I haven’t downloaded the Pinterest app yet because I have a feeling that might be a little addictive and dangerous), and I enjoy Instagram not only because I follow all my friends, but also because I like looking at the pictures photographers and average people take. I’m a very visual person, and it’s enjoyable for me to see the world through the eyes of a bunch of different people. Pinterest is just a forum for beautiful photos, so naturally I’m hooked. I’ve even started uploading some of my own photos onto my own page.

Be kind!

Finally, Pinterest, like I mentioned, has turned out to be an awesome tool for collecting and curating ideas in a bunch of different categories. I’m starting to think of my page as ~ JNG’s Haberdashery ~ a site where I can keep track of and catalogue all the things that interest me, from hairstyles and fashion trends to photo inspiration and Victorian cultural items. One of my favourite things to do has been to look at hairstyles I might like for my Big Day, and I also went through a phase of pinning as many photos of gorgeous wedding dresses as I could. That has slowed down recently, but only because – BIG ANNOUNCEMENT – I purchased my wedding dress a few weeks ago! You may’ve seen the photo on my Instagram page, revealing that I had found my dream dress (though not showing the dress itself, of course), and it was an absolute magical moment when I had this gown on my body and just felt more comfortable and like myself than I ever have. Anyway, I digress – the point is that I have my wedding dress, but I still do have a very full board of photos of wedding dresses on my Pinterest page. And I’ll let you in on a little secret – a photo of my ACTUAL dress is included in that very board. I’m obviously not going to say which one it is or give you any clues, but it’s in there, along with many other impressive gowns.

Miss Ives' Temporary Home

So, all that being said, if you’d like to join me over on Pinterest, you can find my link down below. I’m avidly pinning all sorts of things, including photos having to do with my favourite books (and film and television adaptations of them), and I’d love to have you all follow along!

JNG’s Haberdashery / Pinterest Page

The Pin Happy,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The JNG Engagement Ring Series

I have to apologize. I totally missed posting a number of #JNGListens quotes on Twitter this week. I began the week by quoting lines from my all-time favourite Bruce Springsteen song “I’ll Work for Your Love” – a song that I plan to feature prominently at my future nuptials – but I soon forgot to keep posting lyrics because of how hectic and busy the week became.

On Wednesday evening, SS and I selected a wedding venue and date. I’d like to keep the date a secret for now but it is in December 2017, as we planned, and now that the big decision of where to get married is out of the way, we feel a lot calmer and as though we can go about all our other plans in a more relaxed manner. But, needless to say, making this decision took time and research, and now that the decision is made, we have been so excited and overwhelmed with joy…so that’s why I’ve been a bit scatter-brained lately.

Having said that, because I knew I wasn’t going to have a consistent week on the #JNGListens front, I did take the time this week to do something a little special when I found myself on the University of Toronto campus. I completed what I can only call an Engagement Ring Photoshoot! I walked around the campus, visited some of my favourite sites and locations, and photographed my gorgeous emerald and rose gold ring around UofT. I thought I would share the photos with you now…sorry if you’ve all already gotten tired of this wedding news, but I’m a little obsessed!

My ring at the courtyard of University College (part of the University of Toronto).

My ring at the courtyard of University College (part of the University of Toronto).

Here is the ring at University College, one of my favourite buildings on the UofT campus (although I was part of Victoria College). The area you can see behind my ring is the quad, a lovely Austen-esque courtyard with lush grass, wood benches and tall trees. I used to read the novels for my English classes in this area, and dream of my own dashing gentleman!

Eddie and my Dragon

This is a picture of my ring with my dragon. Let me explain: I used to pass this dragon sculpture (also at University College) every day on my way to my Linguistics tutorial in first year and to my Alice Munro fourth year seminar. For whatever reason, this dragon made me feel strong and secure; every time I looked at him or rubbed his head, I was reminded that I had the force necessary, way deep inside me, to get through my degree and battle the demons that tried to hold me back (whether they were my professors or my own anxieties). I’ve taken pictures with my dragon before (see below), but I definitely thought it was appropriate to introduce him to my engagement ring, a symbol of the fact that I have conquered everything I set my mind to (so far at least).

My dragons

My dad and I with my dragon, many years ago.

 

And the final photo in the first wave of the JNG Engagement Ring Series (see that, I even named this endeavour) is a photo of my ring in the room in Hart House where SS and I first met. Here I am, sat at a table just like the one I sat down at when I met SS. I had to take this photo stealthily, but you get a general impression of what the room looks like. And is it any coincidence that the chairs, which SS and I sat in when we had our first ever conversation, are decorated with hearts?

Eddie at Sammy's (Hart House)

I anticipate that there may be more posts in the JNG Engagement Ring Series in the near future, so stay tuned!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart (and Ring)

my green heart

And Write…

‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write’.

– “Astrophil and Stella”, Sir Philip Sidney

Welcome to 2016 here at The World of my Green Heart!

To ring in the New Year and get myself amped up and excited for all the blog posts I intend to write in 2016, I decided that today I’d feature one of my favourite Christmas gifts that I received over the holidays.

What is a reader without her (or his) hardware?  Previously on the blog, I wrote about purchasing a new (third) pair of glasses – a momentous occasion for me because I feel that my specks are an integral part of my identity as an avid reader – after all, if it wasn’t for all the reading I’ve done throughout my life in dimly lit libraries, my eyesight would probably be much better.  I was truly excited to pick out a pair of unique, eccentric and bold frames, and I’ve gotten many compliments on them since.  And every time I do, as well as any time I wear one of my multiples pairs of glasses, I feel like I am proclaiming to the world, Look at me – I’m wearing glasses because I need them to see some special words on a very special page of an even more special novel that I am currently immersed in!  To me, being a reader is equally about those awesome accessories you get to wear – just like being a music lover might be about purchasing the latest iPod or sporting some gorgeous and stylish headphones, and being a hardcore runner might be about donning some colourful sneakers.  I’m a reader, and I was a reader before I was most other things in my life, so I like the world to have an idea about that when they look at me!

Now, in the same vein, I’d like to pose the question: What is a writer without her (or his) hardware?  Yes, yes, I’m typing this post up on my Macbook right now, and I love all the latest gadgets, especially the fact that my lovely gold iPhone 6 lets me type notes that will instantly appear on my laptop.  The way of the writer’s future is pretty marvelous!  But, I’m also seriously old school…like to the point where I never once brought my laptop with me to any of my university classes.  I preferred to write my lecture notes out by hand…yes, that’s right, with an actual pen and piece of paper.  A lot of people think this is absolutely nuts.  They’d often ask me how I could keep up with the professor’s speaking (trust me, it takes practice), or how I could prevent my hand from getting cramped or tired (I didn’t – I just persevered).  My answers to these questions were never adequate because they could never convey just how happy I felt at the end of a three hour class, looking at my colourful, highlighted, handwritten notes.  It just felt so nice to have a notebook full of my own scribbling and shorthand at the end of a semester, and I still have many of these notebooks (you never know when you might need to look back at some lecture notes when writing a blog post, am I right?).

So, to me, one of the most important things that I can possess is a good, high quality, fully functioning, totally reliable black pen.  I used to write with only blue pen for awhile, mainly when I was in high school, but as I moved into my university years, I started to prefer black ink because it seemed a bit more professional, less flashy and easier to read.  Since then, I’ve stuck to strictly black pen, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate that any time someone has gifted me with a pen, it’s just happened to be a black one.  Writer’s win!

And this Christmas, I received some awesome pens (people know me well enough by now to purchase them for me on every occasion) – but one pen stood out to me in particular.  My darling boyfriend SS bought me an absolutely gorgeous (black!) pen from Swarovski.  It is decorated with rose gold crystals – and since rose gold is unquestionably my favourite, it suits me perfectly!  I love it, and with it I intend to write lengthy blog posts, creative stories, anything and everything my green heart desires!

My powerful pen.

My powerful pen.

Stay tuned for what my pen will produce this year!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart (and a Pink Pen)

my green heart

 

How to Dress Like a Christmas Movie Heroine

Hello Everyone, and welcome to the first post since Christmas……

Yes, I know that Christmas is technically over, the family gatherings and gift giving celebrations have come and gone, but that does NOT mean the holiday season is done! And, in order to keep this Christmasy feeling going for at least the next week, until the New Year, I’ve created a little post for today that fully encompasses all of my enthusiasm for Christmas and all the love, joy and excitement the season represents.

I don’t think I’ve directly stated this, but I’m sure you can all guess that one of my absolute favourite activities during the holidays is to watch cheesy but incredibly romantic and heartwarming Christmas movies every night and weekend. I am quite literally obsessed with the movies that replay over and over on TV during the Christmas season, and I love how simple everything is in these fictitious worlds, how easily any conflicts are surmounted and how often True Love prevails and conquers all. There are many times throughout the holiday season that I myself feel like a character in a Christmas movie, and this particularly happened for me this year when I visited the Christmas Market at the Distillery District in Toronto with my boyfriend, SS, and my parents. Just walking around the various stalls, sipping a hot chocolate and eating DELICIOUS (I mean, seriously sooo good!) roasted nuts was like something right out of one of my favourite holiday films, and the gorgeous Christmas tree (which you can see featured in one of my previous posts and on my Instagram and Twitter pages) added an air of magic and festivity to the whole evening! It was a night I won’t soon forget, and the Distillery District has firmly secured its place as one of my favourite sites in all of Toronto!

Maman and Dad at TCM2015 TCM2015

In these moments when I feel like a Christmas movie heroine, it’s only fitting that I make sure I dress like one too! What is a Christmas movie heroine without a warm scarf, a stylish hat and a killer pair of boots? How can a self-respecting woman rightfully call herself a Christmas fanatic unless she is always holding a warm beverage in her hand, or reading a book by a fire, or having a latte catch-up session with one of her best friends? On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year, I made sure to document exactly what I was wearing, the accessories I used and the treats I ate to give you all a taste of what it means to be a Christmas movie heroine to me.

How to Dress Like a Christmas Movie Heroine #1

To be a true Christmas movie heroine, I believe it is essential to own a Christmas sweater. Some people call these ugly Christmas sweaters, but I wholeheartedly disagree with that adjective – I think they are beyond adorable! This Christmas, I paired my sweater with my favourite pair of tan suede booties, a patterned scarf that so many people complimented me on and said was so festive, as well as a burgundy felt hat and a matching burgundy purse. Everything about this outfit was comfy and relaxed, but also stylish and extremely Christmasy!

How to Dress Like a Christmas Movie Heroine #2

In terms of accessories to go with this Christmas heroine outfit, I first and foremost made sure to constantly wear my Christmas wreath pin. This pin goes perfectly with any jacket and scarf combination, and I think it is absolutely gorgeous! For that hot beverage that a Christmas heroine should always be carrying with her (preferably a hot chocolate), I chose a delicate and girly ceramic mug with beautiful flowers. And what Christmas heroine outfit would be complete without a pearl and poinsettia flower crown and an antique, hardcover novel? The perfect, traditional touches!

How to Eat Like a Christmas Movie Heroine

Finally, Christmas heroines are all about going out and having those sweet, tasty holiday treats! This Christmas Eve, I met up with one of my best friends, KM, for a delicious Smores latte and pistachio muffin. The treats themselves looked classy and simplistically Christmasy, and they gave off a warm and cozy vibe during this winter season.

So there you have it – shake off those post-Christmas blues by putting together your own Christmas movie heroine/hero outfit!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

For the Rest of Us

~ Talk about taking a love of fiction to a whole new level! ~

As you can probably all tell from some of my recent blog posts, I am a serious Christmas Enthusiast!  What you’ve probably also been able to surmise is that a lot of my loved ones are equally excited about the holiday season: my Maman decorates a gorgeous poinsettia Christmas tree every year and my boyfriend, who only just recently started seriously celebrating Christmas, was eager and anxious to get all his Christmas shopping done at the Toronto Eaton Centre last weekend.  My brother and father also love getting in on the holiday fun, and they usually give me some of the best, most personal gifts I’ve ever received.

But, what most of you won’t be able to tell is that my family is not at all religious – when we celebrate and become enthusiastic about Christmas, it’s in a secular sort of way, and it’s more about giving, spreading love and being kind to everyone in our lives! ❤ I have many friends who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, as well as those who don’t believe in anything in particular, and I use the Christmas/holiday season as a time to pay homage to ALL of my friendships and special relationships, regardless of belief or denomination.  I just think that allows everyone to get in on the spirit and be included equally!

My father was sort of the person in my immediate family who spearheaded this whole inclusive attitude when he decided to do away with religious fixations and focus instead on being good to others and embracing all differences.  My father is one of the best people I have ever known: he is unfailingly generous, extremely intelligent, passionate and outspoken, and absolutely loyal to his family and friends.  And I actually think that the fact that he isn’t religious enhances his great qualities and makes him a better person; I’ve never known him to be more accepting or kinder in my entire life, and I think it’s all down to the fact that he’s decided to be more open-minded and liberal.

So, when my dad announced a few years ago that he wanted to commemorate his decision to accept all religions, while simultaneously conforming to none in particular, my Maman, brother and I were all for it!  BBG and I were probably thinking mostly of all the presents an extra occasion would bring, but I also thought it was a fun idea and I knew that I would be proud to tell my friends and other family members that the four of us were starting our own new, all-inclusive celebration.  When SS became a part of our family, he readily embraced this new tradition (along with our secular but fabulous Christmas!), and we haven’t looked back since.

What is this unique holiday that we celebrate to set our family apart? you may ask.  Well, my dad had the brilliant idea to choose a fictitious holiday and make it real in our household… And that is why, every December 23rd, my family and I celebrate… Festivus!  That’s right, if you’re a Seinfeld fan, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – Festivus is that made up holiday that George Constanza’s father is so passionate (and quite aggressive) about, complete with a Festivus pole (no fancy stuff for this holiday), an airing of grievances, and feats of strength.  I grew up with Seinfeld since it’s one of my parents’ favourite TV shows, so I was familiar with the Festivus episode and with the idea of a holiday “for the rest of us”.  When my dad came into the family room with our very own, homemade Festivus pole, well, that just sealed the deal for all of us!  It was just the unique and creative celebration we were looking for!

Festivus Pole

Tonight, my parents, BBG, SS and I, along with one of my brother’s good friends who’s decided to get in on the fun this year, will be celebrating our third annual Festivus!  And I am beyond excited!  The pole (as pictured above) is all decked out with gifts, we have plans to order some tacky fast food, and my dad is already cooking up plans for the feats of strength!  It’s actually the perfect, most laidback and fun way to kick off the holiday season!

So, I’ll leave you all with a HAPPY FESTIVUS!  May your night be full of laughter!

Dad with Festivus Pole

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The Number System – #JNGReads

Alright, lovely readers, let’s start with the #JNGReads quote today and work from there…

“‘…but I mostly date eights or nines…’” – Who Do You Love, Jennifer Weiner

You can probably guess why a quote like this would get me more than a little riled up, but I’ll explain anyway.

This quote comes from Jennifer Weiner’s new novel Who Do You Love. I’ve been reading the novel for quite awhile now, to be honest, but that’s mostly because of time constraints that have been getting in the way of my reading. It’s a pretty good story and I’ve been enjoying it, and I’m happy to say that I’m almost done. A review of the entire novel will be coming soon.

But, naturally, one of the scenes that stuck out to me the most was the one where the quote above comes from. The main female character, Rachel, is forcing herself (or is rather being forced by a friend) to go on a bunch of dates after a break up. And, as you can all surely imagine, it’s no easy task for her, and Mr. Right, Prince Charming himself, isn’t showing up quite as quickly as she would like. She’s having to go on a bunch of very horrendous dates with guys who are just absolutely the worst. The guy who actually says the above quote is one of them – he’s confident (or, more accurately, cocky) enough to tell her that he doesn’t see a future for them because he usually dates women who would be rated a little bit higher on…some scale of what? Attractiveness? Intellect? Flirting Ability? Who knows! The point is that this guy feels it is okay to tell Rachel that he doesn’t want to continue seeing her because she isn’t an eight or nine on whatever scale he’s using.

Now, obviously this sort of thing is highly subjective – we all know that, we’ve all been told that by our friends when a date goes wrong, or we’ve been the ones to tell our friends that to comfort them after a rough break up. Yes, attraction is subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, blah blah blah. My rage doesn’t come from the fact that this guy wasn’t attracted to Rachel (who I find really very endearing and lovely as a character) – it comes from the fact that this guy had the guts to actually say this sort of thing to her face, something so blatantly RUDE!

Weiner does a great job of setting up the scene so that the reader feels as shocked as Rachel, but also as angry and upset about the whole situation. I found myself actually gasping on the bus, making a face and thinking, Who the heck does this guy think he is? How DARE he say that to Rachel? What a complete and total (insert expletive here)! I also found myself thinking that there is no way anyone would seriously say something like that to a person; I just could not bring myself to believe that any person going on a date would be cruel enough to tell someone that they weren’t up to their (probably impossible to reach) standards.

And then, I continued to ponder this and I realized that actually I do know a couple people who may not necessarily say such a thing, but who would absolutely be thinking it. Basically, I think that most of our society, and especially people in my age group, think exactly the same way as this ridiculous guy who insulted Rachel. One of my best friends and I have been talking about this a lot lately – we find that guys in our age range sometimes talk to and treat us differently because we don’t look a certain way. Okay, maybe we’re projecting this belief onto the guys we interact with because obviously we can’t know exactly what they’re thinking, but sometimes it just feels like we’re being treated a little bit more rudely and curtly because we don’t conform to a particular stereotype. For example, I’ve stated this time and time again on the blog, I don’t wear any make up. Now, this probably seems like an insignificant thing, but when you’re going out to a bar with your friends for a birthday celebration and you notice that guys aren’t even paying any attention to you (not that you want them to because, let’s be real, that’s only going to lead to trouble and heartache), it’s hard to convince yourself that they’re not judging you on the fact that you don’t have eyeliner on and haven’t contoured your face in a way that makes your cheekbones look really sexy. I mean, if that is even a thing that women do, because no matter how many beauty tutorials I watch on Youtube, I cannot make myself understand contouring. My friend even said that she has been treated differently by male cashiers than the girls lined up in front of her because she chooses not to wear tight clothing or because she doesn’t address them in a flirtatious manner.

And, I would say that the same thing definitely happens in reverse – young women can be just as mean to guys if they don’t fit into certain physical ideals. I’ve heard girls on subways and buses saying terrible things about guys they’ve interacted with, talking about how this guy doesn’t have a nice enough body, this guy is just too nerdy or geeky, whatever. I want to blame all of this on the “Tinder culture” that has emerged in our society, but Weiner’s scene from Who Do You Love takes place in a time long before Tinder even existed, so apparently these were issues that people have faced throughout the years.

It’s just all so discouraging! I honestly didn’t mean to go on a rant about how mean people can be, but it’s something I think about (and I know my friends think about) every single day. I’m going to the gym in a few hours for my regular workout, and I’m already dreading being surrounded by men AND women who are going to be staring at me while I do my exercises, probably judging either how I’m doing the particular moves, the way my body looks or what I’m wearing. Or all of the above! The main thing is not to let this sort of thing bother you, to not even consider what a person might be saying in their head about you, but these things are always so much easier said than done…and we aren’t all characters in a novel, so these sorts of encounters do have an impact on our self-esteem and confidence in the real world.

Anyway, sorry to rant all over the place! I just couldn’t stop thinking about Rachel’s encounter, and about the fact that I think it’s something that could so easily happen, and that we often allow to happen, in today’s society.

What do you all think? Have you experienced anything like Rachel did? Or is this something you believe is too fictitious to be real?

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The #JNGChristmasTreeSeries

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas / everywhere you go…”

Isn’t it?

Good morning Dear Readers and welcome to the most wonderful time of the year here on The World of my Green Heart!

Christmas has arrived…and I don’t care if it’s technically still November, it’s time to start ringing the sleigh bells, putting up the lights and decorations, and singing those carols at the tops of our lungs!

I am a HUGE fan of Christmas – not for any particular religious reasons or anything, but mainly because I believe it is the most warm (maybe not literally, but certainly metaphorically) and loving time of year! As a believer in Fate and True Love above any other forces on this planet, I feel very strongly that Christmas is the official time of year to share Love, spread Love, find Love and honour Love. Whether you’re spending time with family members who you haven’t seen in ages, celebrating a first holiday with your significant other, or perhaps discovering new possibilities underneath a branch of mistletoe, the Christmas (or winter Holiday Season in general) is such a magical time of year that it’s almost impossible not to see a bit of Fate around every corner.

I pretty much start preparing for Christmas as soon as my birthday is over, around mid-November. Some people probably think that’s a little early, but since I’m Canadian and Thanksgiving is long gone, I don’t have anything else to look forward to between my birthday and Christmas. My perspective is, why not enjoy Christmas thoroughly before it arrives, because once it’s over, that tree isn’t going to look quite so beautiful because you’ll just be sad and depressed that you have to wait a whole year to do it all again. My parents actually take down our beloved Christmas tree on Boxing Day (because they’re a bunch of Scrooges – just kidding!), so if I don’t fully appreciate it while it’s here, I will quite literally wake up one morning and find it dismantled.

My mom's poinsettia Christmas tree.

My mom’s poinsettia Christmas tree.

Now, in order to get myself completely in the Christmas spirit, I’ve already started listening to my favourite carols, and they have riddled my Twitter page this past week. If you follow me over there, and on Instagram as well, you may also notice that I’ve posted several photos of Christmas trees in the last few weeks, and they are all part of what I’ve decided to call the JNG Christmas Tree Series. Basically how it works is that whenever I come across a Christmas tree that is truly breathtaking, I snap a picture of it and post it on my Instagram and Twitter, with a brief description of how excited I am that the best time of the year has finally come around again! Now, I know Christmas isn’t for everyone, but like I mentioned before, I think it’s such a special season, for secular reasons more than anything else, and I think everyone can enjoy the spirit of giving and that little extra bit of kindness that floats around people during this time. And seeing a picture of a gorgeously decorated Christmas tree, I hope, is a reminder that you can run into some really beautiful and festive sights around every corner! The Christmas season is just full of surprises, from gifts to reunions with loved ones to fairytale encounters to romantic proposals, and I am just so passionate about celebrating all that this season has to offer to every person!

So, for this #JNGListens post, I’ll leave you all with a Christmas wish I have for each one of you:

“May your days be merry and bright!” – White Christmas

And here are some of the photo highlights from my #JNGChristmasTreeSeries! Check it out on Instagram and Twitter if you want some more Christmas cheer!

Christmas Tree #1 Christmas Tree #2 Christmas Tree #3 Christmas Tree #4

Merrily yours,

JNG

Girl with a Green (and Red) Heart

my green heart