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Archive for the ‘My Favourite Things’ Category

Ever since I’ve lived in an apartment (more than ten years now), I’ve always wanted a real Christmas tree, but never had one. They just seemed too impractical or something, and besides, Josh and I were usually at our family’s homes for the holidays, so what was the point? So up went the little fake tree year after year, which I did happily decorate, year after year. But I missed that distinctive pine-y smell, and it was my Christmas wish to one day have a real tree again.

And this year I got my Christmas wish. We’re still in an apartment. We’re still going to be away for part of December at family’s homes.

But whatever. It was time for a real tree.

SQUEAL!!! (Thanks to Josh for these gorgeously twinkly, glowing photos!)

Okay, so it drops needles like the dickens, but it’s so very pretty! I made those dried-in-the-oven orange slices ornaments, and I’ve got a bunch of other ornaments courtesy of my mum, from our childhood family trees. (Very dear.)

I went a little crazy at the Vancouver Christmas Market’s glass ornament stand – I couldn’t help myself.

Who doesn’t want a sperm whale dangling from their tree? Seriously.

Okay, I’m going to stick my nose in the tree again and inhale deeply. Ahhhhhhh.

Listening to: A Very She & Him Christmas (beautiful!)

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Sometimes, when life swirls around you in a crazy blur, isn’t it important to take a moment to think about a few “right now”-type things that make you smile with glee?

1.) This fabulous ring, gift from best friend for my birthday. It’s impossible to have a bad day with a teensy teacup atop your finger, no?

2.) Two fresh and lovely jars of my Auntie Helen’s apricot plum jam (that woman makes the best jam in all the world, seriously). Bread, butter, jam and a slice of cheese? Snack heaven, I tell you. I could eat that every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it.

3.) A stack of author copies of Farmed Out, ready and waiting to be inscribed for loved ones.

4.) Delicious, end-of-summer meals like grilled eggplant stacks (eggplant, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and pesto). Okay, so yes, my happy things often revolve around food.

5.) Beautiful wooden bowls made by my dearly departed Grandpa Goerzen, saved from a “ceremonial burning” in my father’s chimea. I can’t believe he was about to burn some of my grandpa’s famous bowls. Said stack has now been distributed amongst me and my sisters!

6.) Gorgeous owl vase from my sister Chay, also a birthday present. Look, his brain grew roses! Seventh happy thing? My fabulous friends and family, who know that giving me perfect gifts like tiny teacup rings and owl vases will make me a happy gal indeed!

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Of course if you make a list of your favourite things, you’re going to keep thinking of even more things you love after you hit “publish.” Here are a few more that came to me in a flash of “oh, of course, I love that, too!”:

high tea
Eureka moments
moccasins
airplanes
post-apocalyptic/dystopic themes and stories
homeopathy
treehouses
the military alphabet
midwifery
things with feathers

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So, I’ve been experiencing some writer’s block lately. I have what I feel are some great ideas for three different books I want to write, but I keep getting stuck. Fortunately, there are loads of great writing blogs out there with lots of fabulous and reassuring posts on breaking through blocks – like Laini Taylor’s post today and Libba Bray’s recent post – but I had an idea beyond my usual freewriting-solves-everything trick. I remembered something that I read (I think it was on the wonderful Pipedreaming children’s lit review blog), that if you put all of your favourite things into your book, you can’t really go wrong. Well, I guess you could – I could just turn into an unfocused mishmash of all your beloved influences and things – but I was inspired by the idea to create a list of, well, my favourite things, of course. This isn’t a place for my favourite movies or my favourite bands or my favourite books. It might be aspects of those things, but really, it’s all about the details of life. I guess it’s like my personalized version of that book about 10,000 things that make you happy. But that’s coo.

So here we go:

artichokes

scarves
morning coffee
wacky old ladies
kitchen dance parties
dance parties of any kind, really
shoulders
deciduous forests
makeovers/before & afters
springtime
having a favourite part in a song (as in “Oooh, I love this part! Listen, wait for it..,” like the bass solo in Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ or Cyndi Lauper’s long note at the end of ‘Money Changes Everything’)
home canned peaches
midnight
crackling fires
pomp and circumstance; ritual and ceremony
baseball
French braids

antique shops
sci-fi boys
Olympic women’s gymnastics
British things
sing-alongs
Twix bars
the English language
Mennonite culture and history
crushes
secret hiding places
Strongbow cider
fresh new school supplies
Archie comics
costumes
Vienna
sleepovers
Christmas
school stories
Dutch light
the landscape of childhood
Tilt-A-Whirls
country drives
daydreams
bags/totes/purses
lip balm
punctuation
Converse sneakers
scented felts
pastries
furry friends
drollery
grand, ramshackle old houses (with tower bedrooms)
farmers markets
dangly earrings

banana splits and pretty much any dessert featuring bananas
pubs
laughing uproariously
faeries and magic
antique roses
dinner parties
spunky heroines a la Pippy Longstocking, Harriet the Spy and Jodie Foster in Freaky Friday
autumn
used bookstores
sticker books
red velvet stage curtains
naps
the library
ribbed tights
the coffee-and-cookies smell of church basements
putting up photos in your high school locker
national anthems

Before I published this, I left this draft post open on my desktop for a couple of days, just to let all the favourite things come to me. It’s a fun thing to do – I’d recommend it. I also found it to be a reminder, in this crazy, fast-moving world of ours, to enjoy the details of the everyday. Will it help lift my writer’s block? I’ll keep you posted.

And so I just have to ask – what are some of your favourite things?

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I have an entire cupboard full of various types of tea, but I mainly drink coffee. I’m definitely addicted. Ever since Josh and I added our now-beloved DeLonghi coffee maker to our arsenal of kitchen counter appliances, I’ve been drinking even more of it. Caf in the daytime, and usually a pot of decaf in the evening.

Along with a love of coffee comes the need to sip it from just the right vessel – the all-important Favourite Mug. Do you find yourself reaching for certain, preferred mugs in your cupboard? Maybe it’s a good association or memory that makes your mug a special one, or just the plain old feel of it. It’s about the comfort, the ritual – wrapping your hands around a nice warm mug, or wrapping your fingers around the little ear of the handle. On those bleary weekday mornings or those dreamy weekend ones, a favourite mug is a wondrous thing indeed.

My current Favourite Mug is my Northern Exposure one, which I found in the giveaway pile in our apartment building’s basement. Side note: seriously, our giveaway pile is the best. We just scored a new printer/scanner, with a full ink cartridge! Anyway, I walked past this mug on my way to the elevator a few days in a row, not realizing that is was so much more than just a plain old white mug. When I finally stopped at the giveaway pile’s shelf/windowsill to inspect it, I realised that it was a KBHR mug, the fictional radio station featured in my most favourite TV show of all time, Northern Exposure! (Side note: I’ve been watching the entire series during my mat leave – I’m now on Season 5 (totally savouring it – I shall write of my love for this show in a future post). Well, I scooped up that mug and clasped it to my bosom, hardly able to believe its existence in the giveaway pile, and that I almost let it get away from me. But I didn’t! Who the heck gives away a Northern Exposure mug, I ask you? Well, it’s got a very happy home avec moi.

Next up is this little gem, which I got at the Dickens Sweet Shoppe and Tea Room – an incredible mishmash of a place to be found in a back street of Chilliwack, run by an adorable British family. There’s a bizarre little museum, cake pan rentals, looseleaf tea section, bakery and more. I was completely mesmerized and totally gleeful when my stepmum took us there a couple of months ago. I have this total Brit fascination, and this mug is a daily reminder of it. Pip, pip!

And then there is the mini vulture mug from laurawallstaylor’s etsy shop – I originally got this one to lift my spirits at work, but it’s found a nice place in the home cupboard now. I love having this little pet ceramic vulture gazing into my coffee cup… I’ve named him Vincent.

And what I know will become my new favourite Big Mug (you know, for that big cup of morning coffee, or bedtime tea – I’m sipping Sleepytime tea from it as I type!) – this gorgeous Cheshire Cat mug that my sister Tara just brought back for me from Disneyworld (my sisters and I used to be obsessed with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland as kids… heck, we still are!):

And my hubby Josh’s fave mugs – for the feel and just the kitsch quality, he says:

(1950s diner mugs can brighten anyone’s day, can’t they?)

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Welcome to a new series on – you guessed it – my favourite things. When it comes to things I like, I’m still pretty teenager-ish; I like to rank and list them. I find lists of things quite delicious, actually.


I love movies. When I was a kid I dreamed of being a screenwriter/director – my childhood and teenager diary entries are filled with details of my Oscar acceptance speeches, what I’d wear if I appeared on David Letterman, and fake articles of me being interviewed in Premiere magazine. I’ve since given up the film making dream, but I still love movies.

My Top Ten Favourite Movies*:

1. Annie Hall: From the fashions to the dialogue to the shots of Manhattan to the squirmy, uncomfortable and downright adorable Diane Keaton (why do you think my son’s name is Keaton? Seriously.), this is Woody Allen at his nebbishy, hilarious, bittersweet best. It’s been my favourite movie of all time ever since I was fifteen – in my grade 10 yearbook photo I’m wearing a white shirt, tie and men’s vest, totally a la Mademoiselle Hall (no one got it, though – they thought I looked like a private school girl). I have this poster hanging in my front hallway (copyright 1977 United Artists Corporation, by the way). (Hannah and Her Sisters is a close second for my favourite Woody Allen movie.)

2. Harold & Maude: Another very formative movie for me in my teen years – I think I first saw it when I was 14, and then my beloved and very inspiring English 11 teacher, Ms. Laidlaw, once screened it in class (much to my heart-stopping delight, she also screened Hannah and Her Sisters!). The story of a 20-year-old cutie nerd who likes to pretend to commit suicide (much to the horror of his Grey Gardens-type mother) who falls in love with a wacky 80-year-old lady, Harold & Maude made me want to live in a converted train car, own a Hearse, crash funerals, be wild and carefree, and one day name my daughter Maude. Also, the Cat Stevens soundtrack is totally kickin’.

3. The Graduate: Speaking of soundtracks, does The Graduate not have one of the best soundtracks ever? Maybe it’s just because I’m a massive Simon & Garfunkel fan. Anyway, Dustin Hoffman is brilliant, I wanted all of Mrs. Robinson’s clothes as well as her house and all its interior decor, and the sexual innuendos were both tantalizing and mysterious to my 13-year-old self. Also, I do believe that this movie started my love of hotel bars.

4. When Harry Met Sally: Of all the movies I’ve watched in my life thus far, this is probably the one I’ve seen the most. I’ve seen it probably, oh, hundreds of times. It’s my sick day movie, my Christmas movie, my sisters movie (the three of us have watched it together many a time) and my general comfort movie. I’ll never get sick of it. It’s so quotable, so loveable. Billy Crystal is a genius. It has everything. Also, as  teenager I of course wanted to look and act just like Meg Ryan (partly because she was married to Dennis Quaid, and I had a huge crush on him).

5. The Double Life of Veronique: Could Irene Jacob be any more fabulous? This is another movie I first saw when I was a teenager and fell in love with it (what is wrong with me? see below). I love stories involving doppelgangers. And I really love the cinematography – everything is so yummy and warm and candlelit-looking. There’s this one scene where Veronique comes home and opens a package in her hallway, and the sound of it is so wonderfully crinkly and full of promise – that whole scene gives me that lovely, dreamy soothed feeling, which I also get when I watch someone writing slowly on a chalkboard, or gently rummaging through a box full of pencil crayons (you know that feeling? I’m getting it just describing it!).

6. Big: There’s such an element of enchantment in Big. The idea of a child in the grown-up world, finding credibility and power by being in a man’s body, is so fascinating. Plus, his toy ideas were so cool. What kid didn’t watch that movie and think: hey, they should totally get kids to design toys. That would be awesome!

7. Hannah and Her Sisters: Woody Allen again. (I really am a huge Woody fan.) How much did I want Max von Sydow’s loft apartment, with the wall of books? This movie also started my love of e.e. cummings and my lifelong desire to go to New York City (still haven’t made it there – but one day I shall!).

8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: I have the authentic 1986 poster in my living room, hanging over the TV. The tag line reads: “Leisure Rules.” That sums it up, I think. Young Ferris may have been a snot, but he sure knew how to have a good time.

9. Moulin Rouge: (Christy enters the modern period – this one was made in 2001!) I’m not usually a fan of big, loud, brassy musicals, but I could watch this all day. Maybe it’s because of Ewan McGregor and the way he smiles so passionately and gleefully when he sings. (Let’s face it, it is because of Ewan McGregor.)

10. Sideways: I loved how episodic this movie was, and also Paul Giamatti’s character Miles’s struggles to be recognized as a writer. And as if the part when “two tonnes of fun”‘s husband runs jigglingly, nakedly out to Miles’s car isn’t one of the funniest scenes in cinematic history. No matter what they say though, I’m a fan of merlot.

* The first five movies in this list have been my top three favourites since I was fourteen or fifteen. Is this a problem, I wonder? Looking at this list, it’s pretty much like I don’t think any good movies have been made since 1990. Either my tastes are solid and unwavering, or maybe I am mentally stuck in my early teens. Maybe the majority of these movies have stuck with me so vividly, so intensely, because I saw them during my most formative and influential years. I was so impressionable then, and now it takes something pretty darned spectacular to become one of my favourites. Hmmm… there must be some sort of developmental psychology theory behind that.

Oh, and there are three further movies that deserve an Honourable Mention as the Goerzen Girls’ (my sisters and I) most oft-quoted movies: Coming to America, Innerspace and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “Just let your Soul Glow, feel it oh-so-silky smooth, just let it shine through…” “Gee, so tiny” “Bit of a knot there, Russ.” Something about them just stuck in our shared lexicon – we’ve been saying those same quotes for more than 20 years now!

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