JNG’s Weekly Round-Up #3

Hello and Happy Sunday!

Today, I’m feeling that it’s a Sunday. Recently, I haven’t been too depressed on Sundays and I haven’t dreaded Mondays all that much, but today I am definitely struggling with the idea of heading back to work already. Maybe it’s because last weekend was a long one, or because I didn’t have the chance to read as much as I would’ve liked to this weekend, but I just feel like the last two days sped by rapidly, and I wasn’t ever able to catch up. I can’t say I’m all that concerned about the summer coming to an end, what with the fact that I’m a Fall/Winter Girl through and through, but I still wish Monday morning didn’t creep up on me so quickly sometimes. Having said that, I’m back with another Weekly Round-Up to discuss just how much I accomplished this week. Here are the items I will be mentioning in today’s post…

  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 •

I’m currently about halfway through Colleen Hoover’s novel It Ends With Us. I’ve been hearing a lot about how incredible Hoover is as a romance writer for the past few months, and when I finished my most recent read (more on this below) midway through this week, I decided it was high time for a lunch hour excursion to the Chapters near my work to pick up a novel that would mark my first foray into Hoover’s catalogue. I chose It Ends With Us because I had seen the best reviews for it on Goodreads, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. I caught wind of what the basic premise and main conflict of the novel is, so I’m positive that it is going to break my heart and destroy me, but so far I am intrigued and interested in watching the characters progress. I also really like the narrator, Lily Bloom, and am enjoying reading all about her floral shop and her interactions with her best friend Allysa. Having said that, I know the story is going to get deep and heavy, so I am emotionally preparing myself for that complete 180.

• Recently Finished •

Halfway through this week I finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. You can read my review of the novel here. For me, it was an average novel, mainly because I found it hard to connect to the narrator, Professor Don Tillman, and his scientific, logical, straightforward manner of speaking. I sped through it and I didn’t hate it by any means, but it’s not my absolute favourite novel that I’ve read recently.

• What’s Next •

This is tricky because I am still drowning under piles of books I have to read (not a bad thing whatsoever, mind you). This past week, however, I managed to score tickets to see one of my favourite authors of all time, John Irving, in conversation at my old university. He’ll be appearing there in early September, and while I’ve read many of his novels (The World According to Garp most recently, although A Prayer for Owen Meany is my all-time favourite), I have been meaning to read his latest novel, Avenue of Mysteries, for a very long time. It is currently sitting on my bookshelf, so I absolutely will be picking that up before I see John Irving live (Eek, so excited!), either next up after I finish my current read, or in the very near future.

• Quote of the Week •

“It is my intention to astonish you all.” ~ Bathsheba Everdene

Last night, my fiancé and I sat down to watch a movie on Netflix, and I somehow managed to get him to agree to watch Far From the Madding Crowd, starring Carey Mulligan. He is a huge fan of Victorian film adaptations ever since meeting me, and he was more than willing to delve into this story because he generally likes period dramas. I had already seen the movie, but I find Bathsheba Everdene to be such a fascinating and conflicting character that I was eager to watch the film again. And, besides, Garbiel Oak is definitely a swoonworthy hero. What struck me most in my rewatch of this movie, though, is the fact that Bathsheba is such a modern and contemporary heroine. She is strong and defiant in the face of her male counterparts who try to shut her down, and she is quite progressive in her attempts to manage a farm herself. She refuses to allow men to tell her what she is and is not capable of, and although she makes a few blunders in the name of “love”, she has herself mostly figured out from a business perspective. She is also unfailingly confident, both in her abilities and her intelligence, and her dialogues are always pointed and sharp – she never gives her male interlocutors the upper hand. I personally like Bathsheba quite a lot, particularly when she proclaims the quote above, surrounded by the men that she will be the boss of on her newly inherited farm. She is a force to be reckoned with, as are the greatest female characters in film and literature.

• Song of the Week •

And on that same vein, my song choice for this week is “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, sung my Carey Mulligan in the Far From The Madding Crowd movie and on the soundtrack. It is such a simple Victorian ballad, but the lyrics are poignant in that they offer advice to women to guard their hearts and their heads. I know this is a bit of an archaic idea, but Mulligan sings the song so simply and I like that her voice is not classically trained, but fits the genre so well. It definitely whisked me back to Victorian times when I listened to it.

• Photo of the Week •

There is one photo that I am absolutely dying to post, but unfortunately, I can’t. It is probably the best photo of me ever, and I am standing with my back to the camera, wearing my wedding dress. It is just the most gorgeous photo (if I do say so myself) and all I want is to be able to show it to everyone. But, alas, my wedding is still just over 4 months away, so the time for my big reveal of my wedding dress hasn’t come yet.

In lieu of that particular photo, then, I have chosen this photo of my fiancé and I as my Photo of the Week. It is one of the photos from our engagement session, and I just love the joy and happiness that is clear on my face. I don’t think I’ve ever looked more excited or comfortable or at peace in a photo, and the man whose arms are wrapped around me has A LOT to do with that!

• JNG’s Weekly Wish •

To finish things off for this week… My wish is that tomorrow will be the least Monday-like Monday of all the Mondays. I’m hoping it feels more like the start of a new adventure than like the beginning of a daunting work week.

Good luck tomorrow everyone!

xox

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

MIA

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

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?

mint-floral-co

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!

fall-colours

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.

ss-graduates

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?

gifts-from-cfib-coworkers

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

What’s In A Ring?

I have always been attached to objects.

It started when I was a newborn and I was given a soft and inviting blanket by one of my grandmother’s friends. While a newborn will naturally receive many blankets in her day, this one became my absolute favourite, and it stayed wrapped around me for years while I was in my crib. When I progressed to a “big girl” bed, my beloved blanket slept in my arms, and he (yes, I do refer to my blanket as a “he”) evolved into Blankie. Blankie became one of my most trusted companions, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I talked to him every night. Some kids have imaginary friends, but I had something much better – an actual, physical object to hold in my arms while I chatted away to him, silently and in my mind of course. I’m also not embarrassed to say that Blankie slept in my bed all throughout high school, and to this day, he rests on my pillow beside me every night. Introducing my fiancé SS to Blankie when we first started dating was a bit of an ordeal, but I decided to share the secret of my constant bedfellow with him about a month into our relationship, and rather than finding it weird, SS decided to curl up for a little nap with Blankie. They’ve been friends ever since.

Is it possible that becoming so attached to an inanimate object was strange behaviour for a young girl? Sure. But think about who my favourite fictional character was at the time: a soon-to-be princess who lived in an enchanted castle and enjoyed living in the world of literature more than any other. With a friend like Belle, how could I not have a blanket as my closest confidante?

blankies-wofmygh-debut

With Belle as my idol, how could I not be attached to inanimate objects?

Okay, so we’ve established that I’m somewhat unhealthily attached to items and things. Well, imagine how great my attachment has been to each gift that SS has given me. Having a boyfriend for the first time is one source of excitement…but receiving a piece of jewelry from that boyfriend is quite another. I’m not overly superficial and I’m not jewelry obsessed, but having a physical token of my boyfriend’s love, something that I can wear and show to the world, something to give me reassurance and joy every time I look at it…that is quite magical. And an engagement ring…I think there can be no more incredible token than that. You wear it on this finger that everyone knows is so significant, and it sparkles in the sunlight and even (although it seems impossible) on the rainy days, and it gives you butterflies every time you catch a glimpse of it in your peripheral vision. Needless to say, I’ve grown so very attached to my engagement ring, my custom-made rose gold ring and the gorgeous (green, green, GREEN!) emerald that it harbours. There has been no greater joy in my life than slipping it on my finger each morning – it is the absolute best start to my day.

my-ring-with-the-knot-magazine

One of my favourite photos of my emerald, rose gold engagement ring.

But engagement rings, as with anything else, need care. Every now and then, they need some TLC, a spa getaway, to come back glistening and new. And because SS has remarkable foresight and did an admirable amount of research before having my ring made, he purchased a lifetime warranty from the jeweler that allows me to have my glorious emerald ring polished and buffed and inspected every six months.

Fantastic! Except for the fact that I have to give my ring to the jeweler for two to three weeks. They have to take it from me, literally remove it from my finger, and send it off to some faraway land where engagement rings get pampered and hopefully treated like royalty. For someone who’s attached to inanimate objects, that whole ordeal is daunting.

But, today, my six months were up (Sidenote: It has been six months since I got engaged which is amazing to think of!) and I had to take my ring in. There was no avoiding it, and to be honest his (yes, my ring is a boy like Blankie!) band was a little scuffed and scratched. I of course want him to feel loved and well taken care of…but two to three weeks of absence won’t just make the heart grow fonder, it’s likely to make me crazy!

This post is coming to you late at night, and that’s because I can’t sleep without thinking of my ring, sleeping somewhere that isn’t beside me in my room. It’s a terrible thought, but totally unavoidable. So, here we are, me writing away to ease my anxiety while my ring hopefully rests peacefully elsewhere.

Here’s hoping he comes home to me SOON!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart