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!


Girl with a Green Heart

Miss You – #JNGReads …and JNG Lives

Miss You by Kate Eberlen is a novel I am finding it very difficult to review, for several reasons.  The first is that I believe the novel is incorrectly branded, and this necessarily lowered my overall rating of the novel.  Due largely to the blurb on the back of the book, as well as the quotes included on it from other authors (such as one from one of my favourite chick lit. writers, Sophie Kinsella), I had certain expectations when I purchased Eberlen’s story, and, to be perfectly honest, it met none of them.  This isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I do feel that it is slightly dishonest to promote a story as a romance when in fact it features very few romantic elements.  If Miss You were instead labelled a family drama or a coming-of-age story, I think readers of it would have a better sense of what is to come in their reading journey and experience, and this would’ve definitely improved my review, if only because I would’ve modified my expectations to the genre.  In any case, there was one particular aspect of the story that touched me profoundly, and so I increased my overall rating as a result of that element – but more on that in a moment…

To go back to my first point, my main criticism of the novel… Why do I feel that Miss You is not a romance?  Well, because it isn’t.  I don’t think many readers would disagree with this assessment.  It is compared to David Nicholls’ One Day, a novel that Eberlen actually mentions in her own, and yet, while One Day focuses almost entirely on the romance between its main characters, Dex and Emma, using their individual life experiences to further their romantic relationship in some places and simultaneously indicate to the reader why they are perfect for each other, Miss You focuses most of its attention on the individual lives and tragedies and struggles of Tess and Gus, but very rarely exposes why they would be romantically compatible.  Although Tess and Gus are often in the same place at the same time and do indeed miss each other on multiple occasions, there is no reason to believe that they are meant to be together romantically.  They didn’t even seem to have very similar interests, in my opinion – Gus is a doctor, with a passion for cooking and art, and Tess is a pseudo-English literature student and aspiring writer.  Certainly, they both enjoy culture and adore London life, but their interests and hobbies are not exactly identical.  This is not to say that people need to have the same talents and ambitions to be romantically involved, obviously, but in most cases, I found it very difficult to even recognize that they were missing each other because attention wasn’t always drawn to the fact that they were in the same place.  If the novel is supposed to be about two people constantly missing each other, I think more emphasis should’ve been placed on those moments throughout the novel, rather than summarizing them neatly at the end, as Eberlen chooses to do.  The one aspect of Tess and Gus’ lives that is similar is that they both deal with the loss of a close loved one, and I did get the sense that they could’ve greatly aided each other in the grieving process.  Having said that, did I feel like Tess and Gus were soul mates?  Definitely not, and although they did miss each other frequently, I never really felt frustrated by that fact because their lives seemed wholly separate and barely intertwined anyway.

Despite the fact that there was hardly anything romantic about Miss You, as I said before, there was one element of Tess’s life specifically that totally absorbed my attention.  Much of Tess’s life centers on her mother’s battle with breast and ovarian cancer and the weight these diseases represent in Tess’s own life.  At a certain point in the novel, Tess gets information about the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations that drastically increase a woman’s risk of acquiring breast and ovarian cancer, and many chapters explore Tess’s fear and anxiety with regards to cancer and her chances of battling it within her lifetime.

This is a topic that is very close to my own heart and which caused me to have a highly emotional and visceral response to Tess’s story in Miss You.  My maternal grandmother suffered from breast and ovarian cancer and passed away at the relatively young age of 57 because of her struggles with the disease.  My mother and I have consequently been involved for many years in screening programs at one of the most reputable hospitals in Toronto, and a few years ago, my mother was approached to have genetic testing done to see if she carried one of the BRCA mutations.  It turns out that she tested positive for the BRCA 1 mutation, which increased her risk of breast and ovarian cancer to astonishing and terrifying degrees.  She opted, with the knowledge and understanding of her mother’s battle with cancer, to have a hysterectomy and a prophylactic mastectomy.  Although she did not have breast or ovarian cancer, she chose to electively have the surgeries as preventative measures (in much the same way as Angelina Jolie did years ago, in case any of you are familiar with that story), and I am so proud and happy that she did because it was one of my greatest fears that I would have to watch my mother go through such a horrible battle with such an awful disease.

Now, I am in Tess’s position in that I myself have a 50% chance of carrying the BRCA 1 mutation.  Since I am still very young when it comes to breast and ovarian cancer, I have decided to hold off on genetic testing because, at this time, I could not have any of the preventative surgeries and my screenings would not change at all.  However, I know that one day I will have to be tested and, since I am a glass half empty sort of person, I have convinced myself that I am positive.  What most touched me about Tess’s experience with the BRCA mutations, though, was the moment in the novel when she receives her own genetic testing results.  Without giving too much away, Tess does think about being positive and tries to mentally prepare herself for that result, but she also discusses the fact that she doesn’t feel she could ever be fully prepared to hear that she is positive for a genetic mutation of this magnitude.  That led me to believe that, although I tell myself every single day that I am positive, I will never feel the impetus to deal with that outcome until I hear it confirmed from a doctor’s mouth.  That was an interesting personal revelation for me.  Tess’s honesty and her forthright narration of her fears and uncertainties felt so similar to my own, that I became convinced that Eberlen must’ve faced genetic testing herself or is at least very close to someone who has.  Eberlen’s treatment of cancer and its implications is touching and detailed, but also sensitive and respectful, and I don’t think I will ever forget reading Miss You because of it.

As I said, for all of the reasons I discuss above, it is very hard for me to rate Miss You.  It didn’t deliver what I expected at all, and yet in some ways, it offered so much more.  Although I wasn’t drawn into Tess and Gus’ romantic endeavors, I was touched by their individual family lives, and so I would recommend Miss You as a novel about family love, rather than love of the romantic variety.  And, for any women who have encountered breast and/or ovarian cancer in their lives, I HIGHLY recommend it!

❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)


Girl with a Green Heart

Tale as Old as Time – #JNGWatches

“It’s my favourite part because, you’ll see,

here’s where she meets Prince Charming

~ but she won’t discover that it’s him ‘til chapter three.”

~ Belle

If you’re a longtime follower of this little blog, you already know how fond I am of stories, how invested and engrossed I get in the tales of fictional characters.  I’ve raved about Jane Eyre and her dashing Mr. Rochester, I’ve gushed over the more modern romance between Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire, and I’ve even obsessed over a piece of chick lit. every once and a awhile as well.  I am the type of person who wears my literature loving heart on my sleeve (in all its green glory), and I’ve ranted about other forms of pop culture as well, such as my adoration for musicals like The Phantom of the Opera and plays like Angels in America.  And, I’ve mentioned on countless occasions, that one particular film, from the earliest days of my childhood, touched me on a profound level when I was only a little girl.

~ Beauty and the Beast ~

Arguably Disney’s greatest movie.  It officially came out in November 1991, the very month and year I was born, and so there’s no denying that Belle and I were born around the same time, and may in fact (at least in my mind) be one and the same person.  Now, naturally, I’m somewhat delusional when it comes to fiction, making it such a huge driving force in my life, allowing it to inform many of my decisions over the years, like the courses I studied in university, and the friends I’ve chosen to surround myself with, and the man I’ve decided to marry.  But no piece of fiction has been with me as long as Beauty and the Beast, and I feel strongly that it is responsible for many of the aspects of my personality that I hold so dear.  There’s no doubt that the movies and books we encounter as young children have the ability to shape our thoughts and mold our future, and I was such a young girl when I first watched Belle’s story.  Is it any wonder, then, that I went on to develop a passion for the French language and for novels and the written word?  Growing up in a small town just east of Toronto was also significant, because I identified on so many levels with Belle’s desire to escape her “provincial life”, the “little town” in which she was born and raised.  Is it any wonder, then, that I chose to go off to the big city, to downtown Toronto, for university, and that I have decided to make this very city the home of my adulthood?  Belle, although to many people no more than a cartoon princess, was my soul mate as a child, my role model, and so very much of who I have become is owed to her.

So, imagine my jealousy when I heard that Beauty and the Beast was being remade, as a live action film, and that Emma Watson was taking my rightful role of Belle.  I’m kidding, of course – I was unbearably excited as soon as I learned that my beloved B&B was getting an update, and although I wasn’t sure how I felt about any of the casting, I was eager to give the film the chance it deserved.  I went in with an open-mind (which was surprising to everyone who knows my intense love for the original), and I immediately bought my tickets to see the movie this past Saturday, the day after opening night.

Well, as much as I would’ve loved to be able to critique something about the film and maybe present a bit of a more dignified review, I can’t – the film was nothing short of PERFECT!  I was in tears several times throughout the movie, and every tiny detail of it took my breath away.  This is going to be another rave-y post because I can’t gush about this movie enough.  I was tempted to pay for another ticket and watch it from the beginning again within minutes of it finishing, and if it wasn’t sold out, I probably would have.

I saw the movie with my fiancé, mother and father, all of whom are consciously aware of just how important this story is to me.  The most surprising thing is that all three of them absolutely loved the movie too!  I was expecting my mom to adore it because she has always been just as obsessed with the original as I am, but I was not anticipating just how excited my dad and SS would be about it.  They’re both eager to see the movie again and SS was singing lines from the various songs throughout the rest of the weekend.  He makes a pretty convincing Gaston, I must say!

The movie is touching – that is probably the best word to describe it.  So much of it just took my breath away, from the incredible and jaw-dropping sets to the gorgeous costumes.  I was extremely skeptical about the CGI and hoping that the Beast wouldn’t look too cartoon-y and ridiculous, and in the end I was so impressed with how realistic he looked.  His facial expressions were exact and I had no problem believing that he was actually real.  And of course, my favourite enchanted objects looked exquisite, as usual, and I was quite fond of the reboot and makeover they each got.

The music was just as incredible as in the original, and I was blown away by the musical numbers, particularly the performance of the song “Gaston”.  Was I expecting Luke Evans to be able to sing?  No.  Was I thoroughly impressed with him, on all accounts, but particularly during his  musical number?  Absolutely!  Luke Evans was by far the breakout star of the entire movie for me (probably because I have always had a soft spot for the villain!), and his dancing and singing was absolutely perfect!  This specific scene was easily the most fun of the entire movie, and Evans oozed this confidence that was exactly what the role needed.  He was my favourite part of the whole movie, no question!

From the time my mom and I met Gaston at Disney World!

Credit must be given to the other superb actors though.  Ewan McGregor was hilarious as Lumière, and he performed “Be Our Guest” flawlessly.  Ian McKellan was the dream Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson was the quintessential Mrs. Potts – she also performed the title song with grace and skill.  Emma Watson was, I must admit, a pretty great Belle, and while that character is very dear to me and it is hard for me to say this, I think she was very well cast and did a good job channeling Belle’s goodness and charm.

“How do you feel about growing a beard?” ~ Belle to Prince Adam

(Easily the most adorable and funny line of the whole film, and definitely my favourite!)

The greatest surprise for me, though, was Dan Stevens as the Beast.  I haven’t seen Stevens in any other roles (although SS tells me he’s remarkable in the TV show Legion) and so I had no expectations of him – but, he truly blew me away!  One of the many minor additions to the original is a solo song for the Beast called “Evermore”, which I found so endearing and moving.  Stevens brilliantly acted it and his singing was just great, and I found that particular scene to be so essential to the story because it really added a human quality to the Beast’s character.  There was no doubt, after that scene, that he had truly become a prince on the inside, where it counts.

“I am not a beast.” ~ Adam (aka the Beast)

I’d also like to briefly touch on the controversy surrounding some aspects of the film.  There’s no need to go into too much detail because I don’t want to bring any negativity to this review or give any credibility to this criticism, and I honestly haven’t read too much up on it because the headlines alone frustrated me.  Anyone who’s being critical of the fact that the film does include references to homosexuality is being totally ridiculous, in my opinion.  The film is beautiful, it stays true to its strong message of loving people for who they are on the inside, and it presents powerful role models to young children, particularly young girls.  By including some subtle references to homosexuality, I feel that the filmmakers only made the story more inclusive and more representative of our society, and I think that is simply wonderful!  There is at least one character in this film that everyone can attach to and be inspired by, and I think that is exactly how Disney stories need to be updated and brought into the 21st century.  For anyone who criticizes the film for these sorts of things, I would encourage them to actually see it with an open mind and an open heart, because they may actually learn a thing or two about love and kindness.

Beauty and the Beast deserves 5-stars, if you ask me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!  There is something for literally everyone to enjoy and I am so happy to say that it did the original so very proud!

❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)


Girl with a Green Heart

New Medium

Hello dear Readers!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written any kind of post that wasn’t a book review, and that’s mainly because I’ve been spending the bulk of my time reading away and working toward my Goodreads challenge of 18 books for 2017.  (At this point, that goal seems laughable because I’m already 10 books in.  Perhaps I should’ve aimed higher to start, but I didn’t, and still don’t, want to jinx myself!)

Anyway, today I have a bit of an update for you that, although related to books, isn’t actually about a book I’ve finished reading.  It is instead about how I am currently reading.

This weekend I was lucky enough to see my best friend CV.  Not only were we able to catch up on some new and exciting events in both our lives, CV also presented me with a little gift she mentioned she had for me a few weeks ago: she gave me my first ever Kobo.  It was so ridiculously sweet of her – she happens to already have two of them, so she didn’t mind passing along her third e-reader to me so that I could get a chance to try it out.  Now, I have to admit, I have resisted the e-reader craze for as long as I can remember.  My mother, grandmother and several other members of my family have offered to buy me an e-reader for my birthday and Christmas for many years, and I have always declined, professing that I could never abandon my paper books, my actual physical novels, for something electronic.  I still stand by my decision, and I will always prefer the “real thing” to books that appear on a screen – however, recently I’ve found that some of the novels I desperately want to read are only available in e-book format, and when I complained about this to CV, she suggested I take her unused, superfluous e-reader and just give the medium a chance.

So far, so good!  Surprisingly, I’m enjoying the experience of reading on my new Kobo.  I downloaded a bunch of light, airy romance novels yesterday (I felt that this would be the best genre to ease me into the experience), and as of right now, I can’t complain at all!  On the contrary, I do have to say that it is really rather convenient to carry around one lightweight device rather than a giant paperback (or worse, hardcover!) novel.  Since most of my reading is done during my long commute to and from work, I think an e-reader is a great way to be able to access the novel I’m reading without having to shuffle through my bag and carry around something heavy and cumbersome.  Although I don’t think I would use the Kobo for absolutely every book I intend to read (I think, for example, that a Dickens novel is best read with a physical book in hand), it is a great alternative for those more fun, fast reads that I delve into every once in a while.  It is also very handy to have several different novels at one’s fingertips – the main reason I turned to the Kobo this week, rather than waiting a while longer, is that I was stranded at my fiancé’s house due to a snowstorm, and didn’t have any of my physical novels available to me.  With my Kobo, I don’t have to worry about finishing a novel during my commute, and then not being able to start a new one until I get home, because I have multiple options available to me at any given time.  With the number of free and (very!) discounted books available as well, it seems like having a Kobo is a really great investment for any reader, even if they do continue to read physical books too.  I think the two mediums can definitely go hand in hand, and this entire experience has totally surprised me and been much more pleasurable than I expected!

I will be keeping track of which novels I read on my Kobo, and mentioning in my future reviews of these books whether or not the e-reading experience hindered my feelings towards the stories at all.  But, for the time being, I think things are going very well, and I am eager to keep reading on my Kobo and explore a whole host of novels that I wouldn’t formerly have had access to.

Happy (e-)reading!


Girl with a Green Heart

Christmas Film Recommendations – #JNGWatches

Hello dear Readers!

I thought it was high time that I gave you all some Christmas movie recommendations. Today felt like the perfect day to do this because I just encountered a well-known and much loved film for the first time, and it truly touched my heart.

As you all know, I am an avid, passionate fan of the Christmas season, and one of the pastimes that gets me into the spirit each year is watching Christmas movies every night with my parents. We’ve recently brought SS into the fold, and we watched four movies last weekend alone. My mother and I are unstoppable when it comes to scouring out movies, taping them and scheduling time for us all to sit down and watch them. We have a very good idea of whether or not we will like a Christmas film just from the description, and we’ve found some real winners over the years that have become near and dear to our hearts. Although I can’t possibly go through all the Christmas movies we’ve watched here, I would like to recommend a few of my yearly go-to’s, as well as talk about a couple new favourites.

Forever Favourites

~ Borrowed Hearts ~

Borrowed Hearts is a touching and fun Christmas film that is full of romance and valuable lessons. Starring Eric McCormack as a businessman who has no time for holiday cheer, and Roma Downey as the single mother who turns his life around, this movie features some remarkably charming moments, such as a scene featuring a heartwarming game of Twister, a visit to an outdoor skating rink and a whole host of family moments and traditions. McCormack’s character is heavily inspired by Scrooge, and it is exciting to watch him go from grumpy and surly bachelor to a true family man. Hector Elizondo is also just lovely as Javier Del Campo, another businessman who is more appreciative of family values and who encourages McCormack’s character to focus on love rather than his bank account over the Christmas season. There are strong suggestions that Del Campo is actually an angel, and this is a fun twist that really makes the movie feel even more like a Christmas classic. My mother and I have been watching this film for many years, and it is one of the classics that we won’t skip watching every Christmas season.

~ The Bells of St. Mary’s ~

Strictly speaking, The Bells of St. Mary’s is not a Christmas film. There is one Christmas scene in it, but this classic starring Bing Crosby (Sidenote: Bing Crosby singing just about any Christmas carol is absolutely divine!) and Ingrid Bergman definitely offers something for the whole family. This is the film that my father has always called his favourite Christmas movie, and for a long time we have watched it together on Christmas Eve, after returning from dinner at my grandmother’s house. It tells the story of the priest Father O’Malley who begins working at St. Mary’s Church to get it out of a financial slump. He butts heads with a nun who works at St. Mary’s, Sister Benedict, but they eventually start to see eye-to-eye despite several misunderstandings. I should note that my father and I are not at all religious, and although The Bells of St. Mary’s is technically about a priest and a nun and a church, it does not feel heavily religious in the least, and it delivers messages and insights that can be applied in any setting. Father O’Malley is also an incredible character: he is funny, witty, sarcastic and just plain cool. My father and I have always enjoyed Crosby’s take on this religious figure, and there are a number of very humorous moments throughout the film. You’ll also get a chance to hear Bing Crosby sing, which is the ultimate Christmas treat!

Fun 2016 Frontrunner

~ Crown for Christmas ~

It’s not every year that my mother and I can say we’ve found a new, all-time favourite Christmas film, but 2016 is certainly that year! Just last night, we watched a movie we had never encountered before, Crown for Christmas, and it was absolutely wonderful! It is highly reminiscent of The Sound of Music and (my personal forever favourite) Jane Eyre in that it tells the story of a New Yorker who is hired as the governess for the daughter of a king. Danica McKellar stars as the governess and she is charming and adorable in the role. My mother and I were instantly rooting for her. It is the king, played by famous British actor Rupert Penry-Jones, who really steals the show, though. I have been fond of Penry-Jones since I first watched the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Persuasion – he is THE Captain Wentworth in my books. Penry-Jones is a consummate British actor, and his traditional good looks and delectable accent made him the perfect choice for the role of king in Crown for Christmas. He has his moments of being cold and distant, but there is an undeniable warmth and goodness that oozes out of him, and he plays the role of father remarkably well. The movie was just so romantic, but also very wholesome, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of movies like The Sound of Music and Jane Eyre, but also to those who may have a soft spot for Rupert Penry-Jones and his dashing persona (I’m sure there are a lot of you out there!).

A New-Old Favourite

~ It’s A Wonderful Life ~

“Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”

I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen the classic (in every sense of the word) Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life until today. I don’t know why, but I resisted watching it for many years. This seems strange in hindsight because it is a movie that is right up my alley – my favourite films as a teenager getting through high school were the likes of Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady and, of course, The Bells of St. Mary’s, so I don’t know what ever made me think that I wouldn’t love It’s A Wonderful Life. And love it, I did!

I decided to sit down and watch it today after my dear friend CV mentioned to me on the weekend that it is a film she watches every single year at Christmas. CV and I have almost identical taste, and I knew instantly that if it was a favourite of hers, it would certainly make my list of favourite Christmas films. I set myself up in front of the TV with it today, all bundled in my heavy sweater and blankets, and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen for the full two hours. I happened to watch it in black and white, and I’m so glad I did because I think it felt a lot more authentic that way.

This is the story of a man, George Bailey, who sacrifices everything for the people around him. He is at once a businessman and a family man, and it seems like, for the most part, nothing goes right for him and he can’t really catch a break. His plans to leave his small hometown of Bedford Falls are constantly thwarted, and his dreams of exploring Europe and going off to college are never realized. Instead, George gives of himself to his father by taking over the family business, to his brother by paying for his college education, and to his wife Mary by being a constant source of support to her and their four children. George Bailey reminds me very much of my own father in that sense, and as I watched him toil at work, dealing with one crisis after another in swift succession, I was reminded of the nights when my father would return home from work very late, after a two and a half hour commute. My father never seemed to be tired though, and was always willing to sit down and watch TV with us, offer me and my brother advice with any school dilemmas, or even pick us up from our friends’ houses at all hours of the day and night. To this day, my father works very hard, but he is also a constant presence in our house, a personality that shines in any room he is in. And, he is also the sort of man, just like George Bailey, who has done so much for other people that they are eager and excited to give back to him, whenever they can.

It was wonderful (that adjective is truly fitting in this case) to watch George Bailey in his roles as workingman, husband and father. It honestly warmed my heart, and I nearly cried at the end of the film. Probably what made me so emotional is the fact that my own dear future husband SS is currently, at this very moment, working late, doing everything that he can to build his career, develop a name for himself and set us up with a comfortable and happy life. I am, of course, doing my part as well, and my mother does the same for my father, so it was also very nice to see George’s wife Mary act as his constant support throughout the entire film. It was simply a lovely story to behold, and the underlying message, that a person’s life is so much more valuable than they can ever imagine for the part they play in the lives of those around them, was remarkable and profound. This is a film that quickly became a favourite of mine and that I have every intention of watching every single year!

“Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

There you have it – I hope some of you may have a chance to watch these great Christmas movies and curl up with your loved ones and some delicious hot chocolate over this holiday season!



Girl with a Green (and Red) Heart

my green heart


Hello dear Readers ~ it’s been a long time!

This is going to be a very quick Wednesday note to let you all know what I’ve been up to recently and to apologize profusely for not writing a post in such a long time.

I’ve been very busy recently, which isn’t really an excuse for not writing any posts.  However, I’m hoping that once you all know the reasons for my absence, and the fun posts I have lined up for the near future, you’ll consider forgiving me.

My weekends have been hectic, to say the least, and for very good reason.  My wedding day is just over a year away (YAY!), and so SS and I recently decided to get some modelling practice and shoot our engagement photos with our wonderful photographer.  I cannot wait for you to see them, and I’m hoping to post as many photos as I can on the blog and tell you all about the incredible artist (there really is no other word for her!) we’ve chosen to work with.  I should have something to show you very soon, and all I want to say to entice your interest at the moment is that there was definitely a very distinct Christmas theme and feel to the whole photoshoot.  Things will definitely be getting festive on the blog!

To that point, I have two glorious weeks of holiday vacation coming up, and I am super excited to write a whole bunch of posts in that time.  A few of these I’ve already got planned, so look forward to another yearly post about the awesome Christmas decorations I’ve encountered around the city, as well as one about my dream home.

Amidst all these lifestyle posts will also be more book reviews, I promise!  I’m deep in my current read, Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan (Goodreads says I’m about 74% of the way through it), and I think I’ll be finishing it in the next few days.  I’m actually really enjoying it so far, and although it’s not as festive as I had hoped, it’s turned out to be less fun and silly than I expected and much more intricate and meaningful.  A full review is on the way soon!

So, I think that’s just about all for now.  I wanted to update you all and convey that I have not forgotten about this blog that I have grown so fond of and attached to!  I have big and exciting plans for it over the holidays and into the New Year, so stay tuned!

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Eat Like a Queen

Hello Dear Readers,

Today’s note is going to be a quick one because I have a busy weekend ahead of me, but I promise that I will be coming back early next week with another book review.

This post is going to be a fun one…

As you all know if you read my last post, last week was my birthday. I turned 25 years old, a number that I’ve embraced rather than been terrified of! I spent an amazing day with my family and SS, and then I was able to meet up with my dearest girlfriends, my maidens, on Saturday night. It was an incredible weekend!

And, one of the most incredible parts of it was the lovely cake that my brother and Man of Honour, BBG, made for me. BBG has recently gotten into cooking and baking, and when I saw the Halloween cake he made for a friend’s party a few weeks ago, I jokingly asked if he could make me a Queen Victoria cake for my birthday. I wasn’t sure if he would do it, so imagine my surprise when I found out that he had spent time researching Queen Victoria cakes and had found a recipe for an authentic cake named after my favourite monarch, served in England. I had no idea a cake like this even existed! BBG recreated this exact type of cake for me, and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! He put in all the royal touches, right down to the homemade jam in between the two layers of vanilla cake, and the regal crown stencil on top, which he handmade. I thought I should share the recipe with all of you, in case you’re a fan of the Victorian era too and would like to take a stab at making the Queen Victoria cake…

BBG’s Queen Victoria Cake


Vanilla Cake

– 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

– 3 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 tbsp baking powder

– ½ tsp salt

– 4 large eggs (room temperature)

– 1 tbsp vanilla extract – can be adjusted to taste

– 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray and flour 2 cake pans.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3) In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

4) Add flour mixture and milk to wet ingredients in thirds, alternating.

5) Divide batter into the 2 prepared pans.

6) Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Strawberry Sauce

(To be placed in the middle of the two vanilla cakes, with cream cheese icing as well.)

– 5 tbsp sugar

– 1 to 2 cups fresh strawberries

– 1 lemon (juice and zest)

– ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

– 1 tbsp cornstarch (plus some water)

Note: BBG made the strawberry sauce (which was really more like a jam) and added it to basic cream cheese icing. He can’t give exact instructions about how he made this sauce; apparently he did it on the stove top, but he did it all to taste/until he thought it was a sauce/jam consistency, so I don’t have any specific instructions for this part. Once you have the sauce made to your liking, though, add a layer of cream cheese icing in between the 2 vanilla cakes, then add a layer of strawberry sauce on top of that. It’s sort of like a vanilla cake and jam sandwich. You can also use store-bought jam and cream cheese icing, depending on what you prefer and your skills. As for the stencil on top, BBG cut it out himself and sprinkled icing sugar on top of the cake around the stencil so that the crown would appear. It looked pretty impressive, don’t you think?!

Bon appetit!


Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Chapter 25

~ This is a strange world we live in. And, this is a strange time for me personally. ~

Today is my birthday…and I am very happy and excited about it.

I’m big on birthdays. While I used to be anxious and depressed on November 11th each year, the thought of getting older terrifying me, I have now come to embrace my age (although I haven’t quite gotten used to the few gray hairs that seem to come with it). Perhaps this settled feeling comes from finally being in a place in my life (well, okay, my romantic life more than anything) that makes me calm and proud. In any case, I’m 25 years old today, as close to my thirties as I am to the days of twenties past, and I am totally okay with it.

I tend to imbue birthdays with the significance that the New Year holds for most people. Rather than making resolutions on January 1st of each year, I try to infuse November 11th with a quality of renewal and becoming. I set goals for myself that I’d like to achieve before my next birthday, and I try to envision what I would like to have accomplished before the next year. I usually attain these goals, since I like to keep them moderate and realistic, and this year, I’ve set my sights on becoming more fulfilled professionally. Everything else I’ve ever hoped for is coming together for me, at this ripe old age of 25, and with a wedding in my future, I feel like the one thing I should start to focus on and put more life into is my budding career. So, that is my call to action for this year.

But, like I said, this is a strange time in our world and not everything is always sunshine and roses. On my birthday, I can feel optimistic, but every day is not like this, especially with how tumultuous our society has become. For that reason, I’d like to take this opportunity, on my 25th birthday, to offer you all, my dear Readers, a gift. I’ve compiled a list of a few things that are making me smile today, not just because it is my special day but because these things are wonderful. And they will continue to be wonderful, day in and day out, regardless of what the world has come to. I hope these things will make you smile too.

Things that are making me smile today…

1) Flowers…

…like the ones below, featured at the florist shop that SS and I have selected to provide the blooms and décor for our wedding. I’ve spoken before about how, in another life (one where I actually have artistic talents), I would’ve loved to be a florist. Well, Mint Floral Co. in downtown Whitby is one of the prettiest flower shops I’ve ever come across, and I am overjoyed that I’ll be working with them during my wedding. The little flower market I took this picture of just brightened my whole day when I saw it. There is nothing that flowers can’t fix, is there?


2) Fall colours…

…like these ones, which appeared outside SS’s house this weekend. Fall doesn’t last long here in Canada. It is fleeting and momentary. All the more reason to value it, to make the most of it, to soak in the beautiful scenery while it lasts. Make every moment of Fall count!


3) Achievements…

…like SS’s recent one, graduating from the University of Toronto last Monday. I couldn’t be prouder of my smart, dedicated and ambitious man for receiving his degree. The ceremony on Monday also reminded me of all I have accomplished. It brought to the forefront of my mind the fact that I have a Master’s degree, that I spent years studying the things I truly adore, literature and language. I would like to use my degree a bit more than I am now, but I am also reminded of the fact that every time I write a post on this humble blog for all of you, I am honouring the degree I achieved and fueling my passions. I also hope that I’ll be able to get back to creative writing this year, and maybe present some new pieces to all of you.


4) People…

…like those that surround me on this day and have made my life into something spectacular. The world isn’t always a kind place, and I’ve had my fair share of imperfect relationships, but I finally feel as though I am surrounded by people who lift me up, rather than dragging me down. I am positively smitten with my incredible fiancé, my constant and loyal family, and my beautiful (inside and out) girlfriends. When things get scary, I remind myself that there is love all around me, of the truest variety. And with that in my green heart, how can I ever go wrong?


I truly hope this year will be an amazing one, not just for me, but for all of us. If we can all find just a few reasons to smile every day, I have no doubt that it will be!

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart