Instagraming March!

Hello!

Apparently, March turned into April ten days ago. You’d never know it by how cold it’s been lately. It’s still below zero most days. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s what I was up to in March:
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Kitchen is completely painted red! // Carrot cake pancakes were so good! recipe via smitten kitchen  // More snow! It never ends. 😦 // First Seasonsbox – post here // My tweet was mentioned in Style at Home magazine! // Could not stop drinking this tea even though I’ve had it for months // Marvelled the retro checkout at the nearby Safeway  // Became a bit obsessed with my mom’s issue of Redbook. I actually wanted to pick up my own copy. Great rebrand! // Sprinkles is sleeping and is adorable x // Green ombre-ish NOTD – post here// Discovered my favourite PBS Euro travel show host Rick Steves has a podcast // Shamrock plant! // What can I say? I love the snow? // Bunny! // Loved this memoir by Grace Coddington. Two thumbs up! // More Sprinkles x 2 //

What have you been up to this March? Follow me on instagram @Lesleylu and I’ll be sure to follow back! x

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Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day with my favourite Irish writers!

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{Cliffs of Moher on my last trip to Ireland}

One of my favourite things about visiting Ireland is their admiration for their literary heros. I’m not sure it’s possible to not be reminded of James Joyce or Oscar Wilde while you’re there. Their literary history is constantly referenced throughout the country. I love that. I don’t see a lot of monuments to Canadian literary icons when wandering around here. Not to say that there aren’t any, I just haven’t seen them.

Anyway, last year I posted My 5 Little Bits about Ireland and this year I thought I’d add to it. As I mentioned, Ireland has a rich literary history. Without a doubt, that tradition has continued to this day. In fact, I find that many of my favourite writers are Irish women. Here are my top two. If you haven’t read a book by these ladies recently, I suggest you pick one up!

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{Source}

Sheila O’Flanagan: I was introduced to Sheila O’Flanagan’s books when my parents received a recommendation from a bookstore employee. I was working at a resort at the time and they included it as part of a care package. I’m not sure which book I read first but after that moment, I made sure to finish her entire catalog. Her latest, “Better Together” focused on life in a small town from the perspectives of two different women. The first, Sheridan, a young woman who’s just lost her job, boyfriend and apartment and Nina whose husband of decades has found national fame and isn’t sure if the small town life is right for him anymore. The book struck a perfect balance of the romance of new love and the difficulties that may come with older relationships.

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{Source}

Marian Keyes: Upon my discovery of Sheila O’Flanagan, I started looking for Irish authors specifically. Marian Keyes was another terrific find. I loved the way she marries serious situations with romantic comedy. I particularly like her series about the Walsh sisters which has been spread out over a decade with a book focuses on each one. The latest in the series, “The Mystery of Mercy Close“, has sister Helen a private investigator, trying to track down a missing member of a newly reunited boyband. While trying to solve the case, she’s also struggling with depression which she has been hospitalized with before. Although, you would think this would be a completely maudlin story, it’s actually very interesting and quite funny.

Who are you favourite Irish writers? How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Pretty Reads: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

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As you may recall, this is the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice and I’m participating in a year round challenge hosted by Austenprose.

For February, I re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. I selected this book because it is probably the most famous modern adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. It’s also one of my favourites and I haven’t read it since the movie was released.

I clearly remember reading this book for the first time. Half of the time, I was trying so hard to figure out what a stone was. I wasn’t quite the accomplished anglophile that I am today. Ha! Re-reading a book after so many years (and so after so many viewings of the movie) made it feel like a whole new experience. I even found the copy I read at my parents home so I could read the same edition. The book is still laugh out loud funny.

For instance, “It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It’s like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting “Cathy” and banging your head against a tree.” – Bridget Jones

I think Bridget Jones became so popular because she’s a relatable heroine. It’s easy to dismiss her as a bit of an idiot when in my opinion, she’s just not bothered. She has a job but she’s not really passionate about it. She wants to lose weight but she’s never actively doing anything about it. She only goes about two days without smoking or drinking. It’s as though she’s worked out in her head how she has to achieve certain tasks to be perfect and she’ll only be happy when she’s achieved them.

number of current boyfriends zero

The movie, although fairly different from the book, still manages to capture its essence. Certain events are moved around or changed but the best bits of the dialogue are included and I think they did a really good job with it. I remember when it was announced that Colin Firth was going to be Mark. It made me so happy because although I barely knew who he was, I knew that Bridget had a crush on him in the book. It was so clever to include him. This has become one of my favourite movies as well. We won’t talk about the sequel (although I still watch it often).

Previous challenge entries: 1

Are you taking the Pride & Prejudice challenge? What are you reading at the moment? Do you also love Bridget Jones?

Add me on Goodreads!

Instagraming February!

Hello hello!

I’m so happy that March is finally here. Although we’re expected some snow today, it still feels like the end of winter is near. This weekend, I’m trying to get my receipts in order to do my taxes (ugh) and I’m going to watch some curling tonight.

Anyway, here’s what I was up to in February:
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Started painting my kitchen Gumball Red! // Winterfell scarf complete! post here // Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cookies for brother’s birthday // Dogs sitting in the front seat makes me happy // Double chocolate cheesecake for my dad’s birthday – recipe here // Lovely sunset // Picked up entertainment unit from IKEA. Took 2 hours to put together!  // Watched the 1914 film, Cinderella and became a bit obsessed with intertitles – post here.  // Painting other side of the kitchen // Spaghetti squash bake kinda based on this recipe // These snow banks are ridiculous // Rereading Bridget Jones’s Diary // Glossybox cupcake cups – post here // Another lovely sunset

What have you been up to this February? I love following new instagrammers. Follow me on instagram @Lesleylu and I’ll be sure to follow back! x

Pretty Reads: Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

Hello!

I hope you’re all having a terrific Saturday so far! Unfortunately, I am not. My throat is so scratchy and awful. It’s been tea & soup for me all day. I’m hoping I feel better tomorrow. 😦

Anyway, on to the topic of the post at hand. As you may recall, this is the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice and I’m participating in a year round challenge that’s hosted by Austenprose.

For January, (I’m a bit behind), I read Jane Austen’s Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo. I selected this book because it was a new release written by a Canadian. Surprisingly, I hadn’t heard of this book until it was mentioned in a magazine article right before this challenge kicked off. It was a great excuse to pick it up from the local library.

marraigemanual{Image from Goodreads}

This book tells the story of Kate, a magazine editor in her late 30s who has recently lost her job. Well, she’s more like a freelancer who prefers short term contracts than toiling away at the same organization for too long. After she loses her job, she suffers another personal loss that propels her into action to marry for money. Since she was able to secure a freelance article to write an article on how young women are using Austen’s techniques to marry for money, she decides she still has some gas in the tank and she should try to snag a rich husband for herself. Alright for some.

Naturally, all does not go accordingly plan. Yet, miraculously, it all works out in the end. I hope I’m not spoiling anything but we all knew that was going to happen.

I really enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons. I enjoyed that the lead character was more than 26 years old. I have nothing against 26 year olds but it seems that most single lady stories are centered around women under 30 and it’s nice to read something different. I also liked that although she had a bit of a glamourous job (beauty editor) she wasn’t really all about fashion & celebrity. Again, not that those are bad things (I love them!), just that those are very common interests for a book characters.

I also loved her new bff Fawn Chamberlain. Fawn’s an older woman who’s married for money a few times. She’s sort of Kate’s fairy godmother dispensing invaluable advice to Kate. I’d love to see a book of Fawn’s exploits.

The one part of the story that seemed to disconnect was her relationship with Mr. Money. I can’t tell you more than that!

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read without becoming ridiculous. Although there’s the typical bit of writing magic, the story itself is fairly believable.

Are you taking the Pride & Prejudice challenge? What are you reading at the moment?

Add me on Goodreads!

WIPW: Winterfell scarf is complete!

Well, we’re halfway through winter and my Winterfell scarf is finally complete. Just in case you needed evidence of how nerdy I am, here you go.

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This is a follow up from this post. This scarf came together quite quickly. I just had to keep putting it on the side to work on other things. Can you believe there was a time when I thought I would run out of things to knit or crochet? Seems so ridiculous now.

An adjustment I made to the pattern was to line the back with fleece. Yay for $5 remnants at Fabricland! I also added a crochet picot edge. It wasn’t the exact edging I wanted. I could see it in my mind, but I didn’t know what it was called so I did this in the meantime.

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In other nerd news, I was way too excited by the confirmation of the identity of Richard III. History + Who Do You Think You Are? + Science=AWESOME!

What’s on your needles at the moment?

Instagraming January!

Hello hello!

I’ve started to paint my kitchen red. I’m loving how it’s looking so far. Such a relief considering how dark the colour is. It’s a bit scary to paint the first stripe. I can’t wait to show you!

Anyway, here’s what I was up to in January:

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Coffee on New Year’s Day! // Mittens in progress. Now frogged because I don’t like how they turned out. The yarn is so pretty though. // Enjoying the gorgeous big blue Manitoba sky // Working on Missoni blanket again. It’s been over a year already! // First day back to class // Winter is coming scarf // Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Obsessed with this book. // Isn’t it cute that I thought -34C was cold when -44C was just around the corner? // I love my Travel & Leisure subscription but sometimes they’re rubbing it in. // Sprinkles! // Making scones // Treated parents to Creme Brulee French Toast. Recipe here. // Tea Cozy! Post here // Born to be Brad – Love this book! // Chevron NOTD // Sundogs!

What have you been up to this January? I love following new instagrammers. Follow me on instagram @Lesleylu and I’ll be sure to follow back! x

Happy Birthday Pride & Prejudice!

Today’s marks the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice! Do you think that our dear Ms. Austen had any idea that we’d be reading her works so many years in the future? It almost seems as though she’s had a renaissance over the past few years. Starting really (in my opinion) with Bridget Jones’s Diary which reminded everyone about Pride & Prejudice and the mini series it inspired. I know this might be sacrilege to some but I prefer the 2005 film because Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy actually makes me nervous.

 {This moment of flirtation is everything.}

I think I was first really made aware of Pride & Prejudice in the Meg Ryan / Tom Hanks film, You’ve Got Mail. It was Kathleen’s (Meg Ryan) favourite book and she described Elizabeth Bennet as, well I’ll let her tell you.

Actually, now I really want to watch that movie! I do love Elizabeth more than Mr. Darcy. She’s such a modern woman. If you would take her exact words and characteristics from 200 years ago, she would still be considered modern and relevant today. Casee did a great post today on how amazing Elizabeth is which sums up my thoughts perfectly.

pride-prejudice-bicentenary-challenge-2013-x-200If you’re looking to celebrate 200 years of Pride & Prejudice, please join me with this Bicentary Challenge hosted at Austenprose. I came across it a couple of weeks back and it sounds like so much fun. I’m going whole hog and signing up for the Aficionada challenge (9-12 selections). I’m actually hoping to focus more on new items as opposed to re-reads although there are a few of those. I’m so excited to read Bridget Jones’s Diary again, I can’t even tell you.

January: The Jane Austen Marriage Manual – Kim Izzo (book)
February: Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (book)
March: Bride & Prejudice (film)
April: Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen (book)
May: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife – Linda Berdoll (book)
June: Pride & Prejudice (2005 film) (I love this movie so much I’m sure I’ll watch it more than once.
July: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart – Beth Pattillo (book)
August: Lost in Austen (miniseries)
September: Midnight in Austenland – Shannon Hale (book)
October: TBD
November: TBD
December: TBD

Since there are always so many new Austen adaptations I didn’t want to set anything in stone so early on. I’ll update my list as more ideas come in. If you have anything you’d recommend, please let me know!

Are you a Pride & Prejudice fan? What do you love about it?

Pretty Reads: Favourite Books of 2012!

Hello hello!

I hope you all had a very enjoyable holiday!! Unfortunately, I was having some pretty awful allergy problems so it wasn’t the best it could be but I’ve definitely had worse. 🙂

This year, I found that I had a lot of books that I loved which is terrific. Thanks to Goodreads, I’m actually able to remember them by the time December rolls around. Honestly, what did I do before Goodreads? I love it so much! Also, I easily achieved my goal of reading 60 books this year. This went a lot better than last year’s goal of 50 that I kept putting off until the fall and then rushed to complete. Using goodreads to track books actually reminds me to make more time for reading. It’s so easy to put it off when you can easily spend an hour on your iphone doing nothing.

Anyway, here are my favourite books for 2012!

1. Favourite Thriller: Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson

This was easy for me. I literally could not put it down. It’s a quick read but I was so anxious about the outcome that I couldn’t stand to wait until the morning. I think I stayed up until about 3 am to finish this. Then I just laid back, stared at the ceiling and thought about it some more. I loved the layout as you discover what’s happening at the same time as the main character. Fantastic!

2. Most Unexpected Favourite: The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt

This was a book club selection. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d have ever picked it up. I mean, it’s a Western and that’s not really my think, is it? However, I really found this book to be so interesting. It was another one of those stories where you don’t really have all the information until the end so even if it’s not really a mystery there are some things you’re curious about. This book details the relationship of The Sisters brothers who are hired hit men as they go in search of their latest job. The dynamic between the brothers was really interesting and I liked how their roles changed throughout the book. I also really enjoyed how much joy they got from brushing their teeth for the first time.

3. Favourite New (to me) Series: Her Royal Spyness – Rhys Bowen

Easy for me to pick this series. I love it so much as you may have read here. I have to say I really enjoyed watching the Downton Abbey Christmas Special where they visit Scotland. I thought that Lady Georgiana would approve.

4. Favourite Memoir: Paris in Love – Eloisa James

I am a sucker for an expat in Paris memoir. Unfortunately, I never enjoy them as much as I think I’m going to. Fortunately, I really loved this book. Their life in Paris wasn’t really a non stop drama like many of these memoirs are. It was really just a snapshot of their day to day lives. That’s always the part of travelling that I love the best. The imagining that you live in that particular city at that moment. This is why I never really come back with a lot of stuff. I can’t stand to be in stores when I can be walking the streets!

beautifulruins5. Best Travel Fantasy: Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

Speaking of travel, I don’t think I visualized a book more this year than Beautiful Ruins. It was such a lovely story combining all of my favourite things : old hollywood, Italy and mystery. It really made me wish I were luxuriating on the coast of the Italian Riveria. {Book Image}

6. Best Chick Lit: Ten Girls to Watch – Charity Shumway

This was actually a recommendation I found on Freshly Pressed! I’m not sure I would have come across this book otherwise. The basic premise is that Dawn finally has her first proper magazine job which is to research the previous winners of a magazine’s Ten Girls To Watch for its 50th Anniversary. Of course there’s roommate and boyfriend drama but that’s not really what I was so impressed with. It’s embarrassing to say this but it was one of the few books I’ve read in this genre where all the women mentors are really very supportive. There’s no Miranda Priestly types here.  I honestly expected some kind of backstabbing, manipulative woman to show up at some point. However, that’s not the purpose of the book. It’s about navigating her life as a new professional  not how many times can she be humiliated in 400 pages.

7. Favourite Ensemble: A Game of Thrones – George RR Martin

You all know how obsessed I am with this series. Hence the scarf:
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Now that my holiday presents are complete, I should be able to finish this by the end of the weekend. Nerdtastic!

8. Favourite Historical Fiction : The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou – Susan Higginbotham

I didn’t read as much historical fiction as I did last year which surprised me. I really liked this book as I knew very little about this particular part of history. This was a Goodreads European Royalty Book Club pick. I find it so interesting that many of these stories have suspicions about the heir’s actual parentage. It’s as though the easiest way to bring down a house is to imply that the wife was unfaithful. Sadly, this continues through to the present day. However, at least now there’s DNA testing to silence the critics.

9. Favourite Real Life Book Club Pick : The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morten

This was one of my picks for our book club this year but that’s not the reason it’s on the list! I really loved it! I loved that this story had many different plot points that worked so well together. This story has romantic elements but it’s essentially about the inner dynamics of a family and what you’re willing to give up to keep others happy. This was the first book I’ve read from this author and I can’t wait to read the rest!

10. Favourite Book that lived up to its Hype : Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

I really did not want to read this book. I didn’t like the title or the cover art for some reason. On that basis alone, I decided it was not the book for me. However, I couldn’t ignore how often I read about it on one book blog or another. In the end, I decided to pick it up from the library and just give it a go. I had no expectations except maybe wanting to not like it. Well, this was a literal don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover moment. Much like Before I Go To Sleep, I could not put this down. I think I was up until 3 or 4 am with this. I had put it down a few times in a effort to go to sleep but I was too anxious about what was happening. I literally gasped three times during this book and once I finished, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

What was your favourite book this year? Let me know! Also, please join me on Goodreads!

What I’m Going to Miss About My Neighbourhood: #5 St. Boniface Library

Hi all!

Did you know that October is library month? It’s true!

5. St. Boniface Library

{St. Boniface Library}

The St. Boniface Library is now one of my all time favourite libraries right up there with the Banff Park Library. I like them both for the same reasons. They have a great selection but you’re only exposed to a small amount of it at a time. Because of the smaller selections, I find that I’m more likely to try something new rather than the same type of books I generally go for.

For those who aren’t familiar with St. Boniface, it’s a large french speaking community within Winnipeg, Canada. Its library, (the one picture above), holds books that are primarily French. I would estimate that about 90% of the libraries books are French. The English books take about 3 or 4 rows as well as some racks of paperbacks. Of course, because it’s part of the Winnipeg public library system, I was able to order English books and pick them up there. However, sometimes you just need to browse you know?

At this library, I took a chance on books and authors I honestly wouldn’t have picked up at larger libraries. That’s the benefit of smaller libraries and sometimes fewer options.

Check out the rest of this series: 10/9/8/7/6.

What do you love about your neighbourhood?