Personal

Truth Talk: A Weekend of Work

I have quite a bit on the go at the moment, which means that books are piled, pillows are not fluffed, and the coffee table could benefit from some Windex. That said, the sun shone all weekend long, and I loved working away in my very bright home.

Truth Talk: An Obvious Choice

What do you think of my new mug?

I think it’s awesome! Some of my coworkers think it’s awesome, too. Others think I’m just being obnoxious.

I get called “Miss” a lot (from students, mostly), and it drives me crazy. Now instead of correcting them, I can just show them my mug. Subtle, right?

Personal: January Update of 2020 Goals

Phew – this week just flew by! I didn’t have a chance to finalize any of my draft posts for the week. And now? It’s the end of the month! February is going to go by in a flash because it’s a short one. Then we only have one more month of winter. Hooray! I’m already looking forward to April’s sunshine (or showers?). I’m so so tired of the cold! Heck, I’ve been tired of the cold since November!

Moving right along. I was reviewing some of my January posts, and my 2020 “goals” post had me reflecting on what I have/haven’t done with this list. Here’s the original post, if you’d like to read it. If not, here’s how I’m making out with my 20 things I’d like to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.

I’ve knocked two items off of my list: watching Annie Hall (I didn’t love it.) and 7 Days in Hell (so absurd).

2. Travel.

I don’t yet have a major trip planned. Singapore has moved down on my travel list on account of the Coronavirus. I did book a long weekend getaway to Kingston last week, so that definitely counts as travel!

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.

I read (and actually couldn’t put down) Blackberry Town by Chuck Howitt. It was fascinating to learn (or be reminded of, in some cases) about the growth of tech – and Blackberry – in the Waterloo Region.

I also read a mystery novel – Murder as a Fine Art – by David Morrell. He’s a KW native and was the author behind Rambo! It was excellent. I’m looking forward to reading another one of his books soon.

4. Experience more art.

I did a lot in January, which made me very happy! I took part in a flamenco masterclass with Los Aurora and then watched their concert. I also went to the KW symphony (Mozart), and saw Rochelle Rubenstein’s show at the Robert Langen Art Gallery at Laurier.

5. Play more board games.

After spending New Year’s Eve playing Sequence, I went to Chapters-Indigo to grab my own game. I played it with friends when they came from brunch a few weeks ago. I’m eager to play it again!

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

Take 1 is done! The cake turned out well, but I have a few tweaks to make for the next round.

7. Wear more dresses.

I’m doing okay with this one. Here’s one of my black dresses that is on nearly weekly repeat!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.

Nope. I haven’t made any progress on this one. The only colour in my wardrobe these days is my yellow coat.

9. Save money.

While I drastically reduced my Starbucks intake in January (yay!), I spent a lot of money on travel, eating out, activities, etc (oops). This is still a work in progress!

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.

Zero progress.

11. Eat more vegetables.

I’ve upped my intake of salad this week. That’s about all.

12. Buy more fun socks.

Yes! I have two new pairs to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit!

13. Connect people.

I was able to do this twice in January. I’m not sure if anything will come of the connections that I tried to make, but I’ll keep at it.

14. Clean closets regularly.

Zero progress.

15. Trust my gut.

This is kind of like my daily affirmation.

16. Get a facial.

Zero progress.

17. Embrace soup.

I made Ana-Maria’s carrot and tomato soup recipe, and it was so good! I made a huge batch, so I froze a lot of it, and it was so handy to have soup on the go for busy nights. This reminds me that I should make another batch this weekend.

18. Clean up my shoes.

Zero progress. Instead of getting rid of some, I added another pair to the mix. Oops. But they’re from a new-to-me brand, Hogl, and they may just be the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned!

19. Pass on my magazines.

Yes! I did this a couple of times in January!

20. Have fun.

Yes! I did a lot of this in January. I’ll definitely continue this in February!

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So there’s my January review. I’ll aim to post another update in February if you care to follow along my progress with me.

Happy New Year!

Well, well, well. Here we are! A new year. A new decade. It’s exciting, isn’t it? How are you feeling going into the new year? Are you making resolutions, setting intentions, stating affirmations? How do you move from one year to the next?

I rarely set goals for January 1st. Instead, I set goals around my birthday and/or the academic school year. These dates make a bit more sense for me. That said, I seem to be setting (and revising) goals fairly constantly, especially when I’m feeling a little disorganized in certain areas of my life.

I’m looking forward to 2020. Here are 20 things (in no particular order) that I do hope to do, see, think about, read, explore, and experience in 2020. I guess these are goals of sorts!

1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday. They keep adding more, so the list seems to be never ending.

2. Travel. Travel is always on my must-do list. I have a few trip ideas in mind for 2020, but I don’t have anything booked. I’m on constant flight watch though, so when the price is right, I’ll book!

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region. The more that I read about this region, the more excited I get about it. There’s history at every corner, and I find it fascinating. I think I’ll keep a look out for walking tours in the warmer months.

4. Experience more art. I feel like my life is pretty art-filled as it is, but I want to see and learn more. I want to attend more shows anywhere and everywhere that I may be.

5. Play more board games. Has anyone else out there noticed an increase in people “our age” playing more board games and card games? I played euchre and Sequence over the holiday, and now I just want to keep playing.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake. My mom bakes a marble cake that is a crowd favourite. I think I have only made it once in my life. I think this might be the year that I try to master it.

7. Wear more dresses. I mean, I already wear a lot of dresses, but I want to wear more. I will continue to add little black dresses into my wardrobe (they’re too hard to resist), but I’m going to be on the lookout for unique prints and shapes.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe. This is still a “consideration” point. I’m not going to commit to adding colour to my wardrobe because I’m not sure if I want to. Wearing black and white just about every day is really easy. And I like easy.

9. Save money. Who doesn’t add this to their ongoing list of goals? Do I have strategies for this? Sort of. I need to do more. One thing I know I can/should do is spend less on unnecessary things like random kitchen gadgets that I don’t need and Starbucks. Oh, Starbucks. Saving money will help me with #10.

10. Plan a major bathroom reno. Okay. This still might be a plan and I don’t yet know if I can bring it to fruition, but I really hate my big bathroom with its ridiculous jacuzzi tub. I know I’ve been saying it for years, but this may just be the year that I tackle the project. It would be so satisfying to rip out the old fixtures.

11. Eat more vegetables. I was on a salad-for-lunch kick for a long while (mostly in the warmer months), and I need to get this routine back into my life because if I eat at least one salad a day, I will feel like I’m eating a lot of vegetables. I don’t eat enough vegetables.

12. Buy more fun socks. I came back from Japan with many (many) pairs of fun Japanese socks. I know I’m supposed to be saving money (#9), but maybe I can make an exception for fun socks that make me smile.

13. Connect people. I’m going to continue to try to connect people when I can. This could be for business, for relationships, or for friendships. If I think two people I know might get a long, I’m going to connect them.

14. Clean closets regularly. I think I have been pretty good at clearing out unwanted items from my closets regularly, but there’s room for improvement. I keep (hoard?) too much for “just in case” purposes. I have a much-too-large collection of ribbons, for example, and the pile never seems to go down. Don’t even ask me how many empty boxes I have. It’s embarrassing.

15. Trust my gut. I’m reminding myself to trust my gut more in 2020.

16. Get a facial. Maybe one. Maybe more. I have only had a facial once in my life. I feel like I need to give another one a try. I think I would enjoy it. I think my skin would, too.

17. Embrace soup. I rarely eat soup. I think I need to eat more of it. Maybe I should make batches of vegetable soup more often (to tackle #11, too).

18. Clean up my shoes. I have so many shoes. Not too many, but so many. I have them stacked at my office at work, and they are nearly in every closet in my home. And my small foyer is overwhelmed by them. I need to keep them tidy, and I think I should polish them more often while I’m at it.

19. Pass on my magazines. I have a few magazine subscriptions, and I tend to keep issues long after I have read them. Why? Not sure. I rarely go back to read them. I think 2020 is the year that I keep passing them on for others to enjoy.

20. Have fun. Life is short, right? I will continue to have fun and do things that make me happy.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, and productive 2020!

Saturday Edition: Things on My Mind

I am so excited about today. Why? Because I’m doing nothing. I’m just hanging out at home and catching up on life. I’ve had a busy fall (as per usual because of my work schedule), and while I’m grateful that I have friends and family who plan awesome events, dinners, parties, and outings, every so often, I need space. My space. To feel organized. To clean my house. To make a real meal. To spend time being lazy. Today is the day.

1.Music. I’m still a big fan of Lizzo. Here she is doing a music challenge with Elle magazine.

2. Living. Looking for a few ideas to increase your sustainable living ways? Read this.

3. Decor. If you’re looking to know about the best white paint colours, read Jacquelyn’s post.

4. Pet. I got a fish this week. I almost wrote that I got a dog. But, it’s a fish. A fancy betta fish. It’s not white, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Its colouring is lovely. Right now, his name is JC. The dog decision is on hold for a while until I figure out my allergy issues. Sigh. For now, if you need a dog sitter, let me know.

5. Charity. One of the events that I attended last week was Daniela‘s fundraiser for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation; the event raised $14,000 for the foundation, which is absolutely amazing! Congrats, Daniela!

6. Books. I finished Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. I didn’t love it. It was long. I wasn’t fully engaged. It was the first Margaret Atwood book I have ever read. I’m open to reading others. Any recommendations (besides Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments)?

I started Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbour this week. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m liking it so far.

7. Waterloo. Last night, I attended the Arts Awards Waterloo Region to recognize artists in our region. I amazed by people’s creativity. And I’m so glad there’s a strong community of people who support the arts.

8. Food. When the weather turned cold, I picked all the green cherry tomatoes that were still growing in my garden, and I put them in a bag. I’m happy to report that they all turned red. I am roasting them now, and my kitchen is smelling so good.

I hope you have a great Saturday doing whatever is that you love and need to do!

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Read. Do you have a favourite day of the week? Perhaps you should consider Thursday as the best day.

2. Bake. I made these cookies for my colleagues this week. People devoured them very quickly. It’s definitely a repeat recipe.

3. Fashion. I’m on the hunt for a pair of patent leather oxford heels. I’m considering something like these or these.

4. Travel. People seemed to really like the post I wrote earlier this week about Detroit. Thanks. If you’re curious about this city, read the post for a small glimpse into what I observed.

5. Charity. Thanks to the support of family and friends, I was able to raise $402.26 for the Canadian Cancer Society this year. Hooray! Anytime is a great time to donate, so if you’d like to, please donate here. October is #WhiteCabanaWearsPink month and Daniela and I posted a few of our favourite pink things: pink gifts for you, pink for kids, pouffy pink fashion, and little pink houses.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Personal: Something Fun to Do with Kids

As many of you know, I have a background in education, and I have taught kids of all ages all sorts of things in my life. These days, I teach young adults, so I don’t have many opportunities to interact with young kids. I love watching young kids learn new things, and I also love to challenge them! I had the opportunity to observe my sweet (super sweet) nephews and niece trying new things when I was in North Carolina a few weeks ago, and I caught some of this learning on time-lapse video. Once I showed them the first fast video, they all wanted to be video-taped, so I now have a collection of videos that make me smile. Here are three of my favourites. I just love the kids’ facial expressions as they work through their activities.

First up is Duke. He was building a whale from a Japanese mini-lego-type kit I brought him.

Next, we have Holt who is a little inventor and needed help crafting a plastic helmet for his hedgehog who was taking skydiving flights down the stairs all morning.

Finally, we have Gigi who was writing a thank you letter. She’s putting so much thought into carefully spelling out words.

Time-lapse video is an easy and fun way to capture kids’ learning as well as their very cute facial expressions!

Oh, I almost forgot…Happy Halloween!

Experience: Meditation

At the end of July, for a couple of reasons, I started to incorporate meditation into my day. I began using the Headspace app for 3-, 5-, and 10-minute meditation sessions. The 5-minute guided sessions were the easiest to incorporate into my end-of-day routine, so I went through (and then repeated) the free 10-day cycle. At the end of each day, the guided meditation session helped me to calm down and think about my mind and body.

Because I wanted to learn more about meditation, and because a couple of friends added “silent retreat” to my 40th-year-challenges list, I signed up for a 1-day silent meditation retreat here in Waterloo. Silent. Yes, silent. As in…no talking from 9am to 3pm. Curious about this experience? Read on!

While friends and family were curious about if I could stay quiet for the full day, I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. I was more concerned about being bored and sitting in one spot for six hours. An experienced friend prepped me a bit, but we never chatted about the possible schedule of the day.

My 1-day silent retreat was led by Sue of the Waterloo Riverview Dharma Centre. The Cedarcliffe location was serene with a lush garden and plenty of beautiful views of the Grand River. I walked into the space and felt excited to learn. After a few minutes of mingling while we waited for all the participants to arrive, Sue explained the organization of the day. We’d participate in a variety of meditations – silent, guided, movement, walking. Lunch, too, would be in noble silence. As soon as Sue tapped the singing bowl, silence was expected.

The day looked something like this:

  • guided meditation
  • movement meditation
  • silent meditation
  • walking meditation (short path)
  • lunch – mindful eating, rest, walk
  • guided meditation
  • silent meditation
  • walking meditation (wandering)
  • metta (loving-kindness) meditation

Each meditation session was between 30 minutes and 1 hour in length (e.g., lunch). In between, we took short breaks to stretch, go to the bathroom, and drink water. The day went by quickly. I thought a lot…and I didn’t think at all. I was challenged by mindful eating. I took a brief nap after lunch. I noticed things in the garden – leaves, shapes, plants, sounds – that I hadn’t ever paid attention to. Towards the end of the day, I spotted branches on a bush that, if you looked at them in just the right way, they formed the shape of a heart. I was so calm. Truly calm. The day was a welcome pause.

I’m glad I signed up for the 1-day meditation. I learned more about the practice of meditation, and I challenged myself. Did my never-ending to do lists cross through my mind at all during the day? Of course! But the guided meditation sessions helped me bring my mind back to thinking about my breathing and my body. My to do lists could wait for another day!

To continue my meditation practice at home, I have since moved from using the Headspace app to using the Insight Timer app (thanks for the recommendation, Chris!). It has the largest free library of free meditations, and you can filter by type (e.g., learning to meditate, coping with anxiety, improving your sleep) and by time (e.g., 5 minutes to 30+ minutes). I have listened to a 4-minute sleep meditation before bed a few times, and I have had the deepest sleeps.

Do you practice meditation? Any advice?

Two for Tuesday: Flamenco

As you may remember, my family and friends gave me a whole list of challenges and things to do during my 40th year. My cousin suggested I take a dance class. I was open to the suggestion, but didn’t have anything in mind until I went to see a Flamenco show in August here in Waterloo, and it clicked!

I saw my first flamenco show when I was 25 and traveling in the south of Spain with my pen pal*. The show was powerful, dramatic, and beautiful. I loved it. For a few Halloweens, I sewed my own flamenco costume. I have been a forever fan of flamenco!

So after I saw the show in Waterloo, I signed up for classes immediately. A friend lent me her flamenco shoes and skirt (so beautiful), and I’ve taken two classes so far. I love the drama, the music, the clapping, and the stomping (careful, thoughtful, purposeful, rhythmic stomping, I might add). It’s been a highlight of my busy back-to-school weeks to be honest.

Sara Baras – via

I haven’t even mentioned how gorgeous the outfits are! The women look beautiful and fierce, and the men look strong and serious. I love watching the dancers “speak” to one another through their movements.

I’m so glad I was challenged to take a dance class (thanks, M!). I wonder if there’s an end-of-term recital. 🙂

*Yes, I had a pen pal…who is now really an email and Instagram pal. We’ve only met in person less than a dozen times in our lives!).

Personal: A New Venture

A little while ago, I mentioned that I’ve been working on a new venture. I’m ready to share it here, and I would love your honest feedback! Starting something new is definitely a touch scary

Many of you know that I’m a part-time blogger. I am passionate about design, art, style, and the colour white (of course). Beyond this, though, I have always been interested in language learning and teaching. I have a PhD in applied linguistics, and I have been an educator at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels for many, many years. I have most recently completed an MBA degree because of my growing interest in business, and, more specifically, business communication. I’m now ready to take on another project that combines my formal education, work experience, and professional interests. 

I’m starting a business.

Why not, right?

I’m starting a consulting business. As a consultant, I’ll lead workshops for organizations on how to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. These professional development workshops will help help employers and employees refine their communication skills. I cannot even count how many times I hear people (a) complain about the quality of their employees’ communication skills or (b) admit that their own communication skills are weak. I’m here to help!

In my workshops, participants will develop their skills in the areas of report writing, blog writing, email writing, verbal presentations, and more

Here’s a peek at my website, if you’d like to see. I’m happy to take your feedback!

If you know anyone (in Waterloo region, preferably) who may need my services, let me know

Thanks for your support, dear readers!

Comment: Memories of Technological Advancements

On the recommendation of a friend who attended the True North tech conference in Waterloo a couple of months ago, I listened to the book Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations written by Thomas L. Friedman who was a speaker at the conference. The book was interesting. In it, Friedman talks about the intersection of three major forces affecting current and future generations: globalization, technology, and climate change. The book has made me think about how I use technology every day, how I wish I could use it, how I avoid it, and what I may experience in the future. 

Things, as we know, change rapidly these days. Just a few weeks ago, I ran into an issue with my DVD player…as in, I hadn’t used my DVD player for 6 years, so when I tried to use it to watch DVDs I took out from the library, I couldn’t because I didn’t have any cords to connect the DVD player to my TV. Cords? Wires? This felt like an ancient set-up! A friend lent me a bunch of cords and in this pile, I found the one I needed. Colour-coded pieces of plastic on either end of the cords…one set to hook into my DVD player, the other set for my TV. It felt like an unncessary challenge even though not too long ago, this was our only option to watch movies at home. 

More recently, when I was cleaning up my office, I came across one of my first ever cassette tapes – The Minipops – and I thought, what am I going to do with a cassette now? I don’t have any way to play it! So did I get rid of it? No, of course not. How could I get rid of The Minipops? I’m holding on to this tape for nostalgic purposes.

So Friedman’s book, combined with these two recent experiences, has had me reflecting on other defining memories of technology in my life.

In elementary school, I remember when my dad brought home an electric typewriter. I actually remember its arrival into our home. It was white and grey. Typing seemed to go at lightening speed! I typed short stories and reports for school on that thing. I felt so fancy. I think it may still be in my parents’ basement. I wonder if it’ll feel fast if I go type on it now.

If you lived in Canada in the 1980s, and you banked at Canada Trust, then you may remember the roll out of the Johnny Cash machine…an automated teller. I remember the Johnny Cash machine because my mom worked at the bank at the time, and talked all about the Johnny Cash machine and how it was going to change the work of tellers. I remember her talking about setting up, using, restocking, reconciling the “Johnny Cash”. Oh my goodness, just thinking about it makes me laugh. Watch this Johnny Cash machine commercial for a walk down memory lane.

In Grade 13, I remember sitting in computer class (not typing class, but actual coding class) and my teacher was teaching us about the world wide web. We explored Yahoo. During that same year, I had a friend who was quite tech savvy and taught me about ICQ, which was an online space for chatting. At night, when we were at home, instead of calling, we’d meet on ICQ. It would take what felt like hours to get the computer and modem in my parents’ basement up and running. And then my friend and I would be on ICQ chatting about nothing in particular. No phone calls. Just online chats about homework and such.

When I was graduating and applying to universities, I applied to computer science programs, just barely knowing what computer science was all about. My sister’s friend was finishing her degree in computer science, and everyone told me that there would be so many jobs if I had a computer science degree. I took computer science in my first year at university, and I remember learning computer coding like JAVA to get little worms to move across the screen. I remember spending hours in the computer lab trying to figure out code. I liked it, but didn’t love the non-social aspect of my program, so I dropped it and continued on with French, which had always been my major. Coding now? Kids can do it on apps! Oh, how things have changed!

When I was studied in France in my third year of university, I walked down the street to the Internet café or public library to send emails home. It was part of my daily or weekly routine. I sent letters, too, at the time, but emails were immediate, so by the time anyone received my mailed letters, they were full of old news. I remember creating a new email address just to categorize the stories from France. My parents printed every email I sent. Every single email. They gave me the stack of emails on my return. Printed emails. Can you imagine? Now my parents are more into texting on WhatsApp and using FaceTime than they are into emails.

It was also in France that I got my first cell phone. It was dirt cheap to buy and maintain. I’m not sure if it was because I was in Europe, but text messaging at the time was called SMS (which stands for short message service). People would say, Envoie moi un SMS (Send me an SMS). I loved my little portable (cell phone). It was blue, and the buttons were squishy. I think I still have it stored away in my parents’ house. I should really find the little blue cell phone and store it alongside my old cassette tapes.

In about 2006 or so, I was doing my masters and one of my friends introduced me to this thing called Facebook. At the time, it was a messaging system that was only for university students to communicate with other university students. It was such a closed community! He told me about “some guy” who started Facebook in the United States, and it was only now being rolled out into Canadian institutions. I think I felt privileged to be a student, so I could have access to it. It was during my PhD, about seven years after I first joined Facebook, that I deleted it completely. I have been without Facebook for about seven years now, and I don’t miss it.

I remember when my friend Johanne started Fashion in Motion, a fashion blog, in about 2007 or so. She posted about her blog on Facebook at the time, and I was intrigued, but confused. I remember having coffee with her somewhere in Toronto where she explained to me what a blog was. I thought it was so interesting. An online platform to share ideas. I ended up writing a weekly column on Fashion in Motion, which then gave me the confidence and know-how to start White Cabana in 2010.

Most recently, just a few months ago actually, Kitchener-Waterloo launched the region’s light rail – the ION. This has been a major piece of news for the Waterloo region for years. I feel that the ION has made our region modern, efficient, and ready for future growth. Unlike Canada Trust all those years ago who hired Johnny Cash to be the face of the automatic teller machine (ATM, by the way!), the ION did not launch with a celebrity. It may have been fun if Justin Bieber came back to the region as the face of the ION. Imagine!

These are some of the strong memories I have of the impact of technology in my own life. I know it’s clichĂ©, but it really is hard to believe how fast technology changes. It does not seem so long ago that I was playing The Minipops on my yellow Sony sport walkman!

Personal: Remembering Lisa

In July 2016, Lisa, a friend and colleague, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She received treatment, but the cancer metastasized. She had brain surgery and more treatment. She stayed positive. She worked hard. She was brave. Last week, at the age of 47, Lisa left us.

Anyone who has completed a PhD knows how challenging, intense, and competitive it can be. It can also be very isolating as you’re doing solo work much of the time (in many disciplines). So when you find someone you connect with, you’re really grateful. You’re grateful to see that person when you walk into the university building because you know that any point in the work day, you can take a break and chat about something non-academic and not be judged.

Lisa was one of those people who I was grateful to see every time I stepped into our PhD office in a portable building adjacent to the main university building. In the beginning, our conversations were PhD-related as she was a couple of years ahead of me in the program, and I asked her a lot of questions about each step of the PhD journey. No matter how busy she was, she took the time to share her advice.

Soon after, we bonded over bloggers and clothes. She loved J.Crew, and while I was wearing black and white every day, she was always wearing colours and mixing patterns. We’d come to our offices in the portable and discuss what we thought of our favourite bloggers’ recent outfits. Lisa was one of the few people in my academic life who knew I was a blogger, and she was always supportive of what I was doing. She was a daily reader. 10 years later, she still read White Cabana on the daily. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re an academic, you’re judged for everything. And when you’re not spending time on academic work, people may question why. Why are you reading a fashion blog when you should be reading the latest book by so-and-so theorist? Why are you writing a blog when you should be writing your dissertation? Lisa was not judgemental. One minute, we could have been discussing the intricacies of a research methodology, and the next, we could be talking about a sale at J.Crew. It was awesome!

The conversations that brought us much laughs were focused on “the sackpack”. You know – the backpack purse? We called this a sackpack. Not sure why. Maybe it’s what her husband called it. I can’t remember now. Well, let me tell, you, the day Lisa came in wearing a leather sackpack, she couldn’t stop raving about how it was the best invention. She loved using it because it allowed her hands to be free for other things – children, groceries, keys. She was so excited! Me on the other hand? Well, I laughed because it seemed like a 90s fashion accessory that wasn’t as chic as her J.Crew totes. Over time, Lisa acquired a few more sackpacks, and each time she showed me one, she raved! When sackpacks actually did make a comeback, Lisa said “told you so.” I sent her links to sackpack options all the time. She sent me links to white ones, leather ones, designer ones, fashion bloggers wearing them. The sackpack was an ongoing thread in our conversations no matter how far away we were from one another.

When my sister was having her first baby, Lisa shared in this excitement, and without knowing my sister, shared book lists and “must-have-for-baby” lists to pass on to her. So thoughtful! On my sister’s only trip to see me during my PhD life, we ran into Lisa after breakfast, and I was happy that they got to meet, since even though they didn’t know each other, they certainly had heard of one another. The encounter was meant to happen!

Post-PhD life, Lisa invited me to join an academic writing retreat she was co-organizing. During this time, it was great to write, of course, but it was also awesome to hear about Lisa’s news about her kids, job, and life in London, Ontario. She made everyone in the group feel welcome, ensured we had caffeine and treats to keep us going, and hosted us for dinner at the end of the writing retreat. She was warm and inviting as were her husband and two kids.

From this writing group, a few of us gathered to conduct a research project. It was Lisa who guided us through using a methodology that the rest of us were really only slightly familiar with. In all of our research team meetings, she was patient and calm. She listed to everyone’s ideas. She contributed thoughtfully.

It was during the time of this research project when we found out that Lisa had breast cancer and was going through treatment. We were sad for her, for her family, for all the challenges they now had to face. Lisa worked on the project for as long as she could. At one weekend retreat, she told us that she had been in the hospital the days just before. She taught us, she shared with us, she opened up about how she was feeling. She talked about her kids and her husband. We listened. We learned. We hopefully offered an escape from the every day life of her cancer treatments when we talked about our research findings, writing projects, and our lives in general.

Regardless of how she was feeling during those days, she supported the team, and she was determined to work with us in any way she could until the end of the project.

When Lisa reached out to ask me about blogging, I was thrilled. She wanted a place to write, and she thought that a blog would be a good outlet. She started it. She wrote regularly. I followed along. Breathing in Breathing Out is a collection of Lisa’s writing on books, food, and family life. She wrote about her cancer journey, too, both on her blog and in this Globe and Mail article where she wrote about conversations with a partner when you have cancer. I encourage you to read both. Learn. Share.

Lisa accomplished so much in her short 47 years here. She was kind, thoughtful, intelligent, supportive, reflective, concerned, critical, and curious. I am grateful to have known her, to have learned from her, and to have shared so many laughs and conversations with her over the last decade.

In keeping with Lisa’s wishes, I have made a memorial donation to my local FoodBank. I encourage you to make a donation to a cause that is important to you in honour or memory of someone you love.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Gift Guides. Last week, Daniela shared this awesome Father’s Day gift guide for White Cabana readers. I love that she focused (as per usual) on Canadian brands. Go back and look at it if you’re still on the hunt for a gift idea as Father’s Day is this Sunday. And if you’d like even more ideas, browse these guides by Jacquelyn Clark, Katie Considers, Rambling Renovators, Rachel Parcell, and Oh Happy Day.

This week, Daniela shared an impressive gift guide for teachers. It has been the most popular gift guide yet! If you missed it, have a look at it here.

2. Netflix. I finished watching two seasons of David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. I hope more seasons are in the works. My favourite interviews from seasons 1 and 2 were with Ellen Degeneres, Barak Obama, George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Tina Fey, and Lewis Hamilton.

3. Food. I made this quiche last weekend for lunch guests, and it’s a winning recipe. I’ve made it before (and it was a winning recipe then, too). Asparagus is now in season, so it’s a perfect time to make the quiche!

4. Books. I’m reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It’s an easy read, so I’m going through it quickly. In between my reading time, I’m thinking about her stories. What would happen if you started saying yes to things that made you nervous/uncomfortable/move out of your comfort zone/anxious? You’d face and overcome new challenges, and be open to opportunities for learning new things. This is one of the messages that’s coming through the book so far.

5. We the North. The Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship game last night. And if social media is any indication, many Canadians are very excited! As for me? Well, I tuned in last night when the score was 91-91 and there were about 10 or 15 minutes left in the game. I figured I should keep watching, so I did. That has really been the extent of my viewing of basketball this season. I liked following along the commentary on Twitter, too. And I’m grateful to my friends and students who kept me informed throughout the season.

Have a great weekend!

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Watch These Videos. Oh my goodness. Who loves James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke? I love it. And this latest one with Celine Dion just made me smile and laugh. She’s such a character.

If you want to be impressed and you’re okay with tearing up, watch Kodi Lee‘s audition on America’s Got Talent. So good.

2. Netflix. I’m slowly watching David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Kanye West was the first guest on Season 2. I’m not a huge Kanye fan, but I thought it was an interesting interview. I also liked watching Letterman try on Kanye’s Yeezy clothes. Episode 2 was with Ellen Degeneres. I have always like Ellen, so I really enjoyed this interview. She’s candid, likeable, vulnerable, and funny (of course).

3. Food. Rachel Parcell shared an Instastory of hootenanny, and I had no idea what it was. So I looked it up. It’s a breakfast food that is kind of like a mix between pancakes and French toast, but not really. Here’s one hootenanny recipe, but there are plenty of others online.

4. Read this. I liked this list of 22 tiny things to do this summer to feel joy.

5. Beauty. Are there any fans of shellac nail polish out there? I love (love, love) how it looks and how it holds up for extended periods of time, but I hate (hate, hate) how it leaves my nails once it has been removed. I had shellac on for my trip to Japan for April, and my nails are still healing. It’s awful. Does anyone else get annoyed by the poor state of your nails after shellac polish has been removed? What do you do about it?

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Netflix. A friend recommended I watch Gad El…’s stand up comedy show, so I did. And I laughed out loud. His show revolves around cultural tendencies of the French and American. I hadn’t heard of him, but apparently he’s big in France. Huge. And now he’s got a Netflix series based on this, too, called Huge in France. So, of course, I started watching it, too. Pretty funny. Especially if you know anything about the French people or language.

2. Japanese wares in Canada. After conversations with Tim about all the gorgeous kimonos and housewares I saw (and bought) in Japan, I started looking around at where to buy authentic Japanese items in Canada. So far, I’ve come across Murata for gorgeous kimonos and tableware. The store is in Vancouver, but it also has an online shop. Oomomo for kitchenware, beauty products, and organizers. The store has locations in British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta (opening soon).

3. Habits of luck people. I saw this list on Swiss Miss, and I like it. I’m not certain they’re habits of lucky people, though. I think they are habits of hard workers and good people.

Vala Ashfar via Swiss Miss

4. Brownies. Do you have a favourite brownie recipe or brownie mix? When I make brownies, I like Ghirardelli. But now that I’ve read this article, I may have to try some other brands.

5. Eyeglasses. I ordered two new pairs of glasses from Polette after I had a huge try-on session at the Paris store. I bought a few pairs over the last few years from Polette’s online store, so I was happy to have the opportunity to try them on in person. Polette certainly does have some unique options. Here’s a look at my new red specs. The shipping took so long with this order, but I’ve usually never had a problem.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

  1. Paris. Paris is about 2 weeks away! Eek! I can’t wait! And I have much to do before then. It’s a work trip, so I have lectures to prepare. I added on a few days to my work trip, so I’ll have some vacation time, too. I cannot wait to eat croissants, wander the 6th, and find a few treasures, too!
  2. Netflix. What are you watching on Netflix these days? I haven’t watched much recently, but a friend recommended You. So I started it. And then I continued with it. It’s interesting (but disturbing, too). Have you seen it?
  3. Design. I’ve been helping a friend with the full renovation of her main floor for the past year or so. It’s coming along beautifully, and we both can’t wait for her furniture to arrive soon. She has a great art collection, so I’m eager to get it all placed, too.
  4. Brunch. If you’re looking for an easy brunch option to feed a crowd, I suggest this egg sandwich recipe. I made it a few weeks ago, and it was a hit! See #WhiteCabanaCooks for more.
  5. Coffee. Do you ever switch up your coffee routine, or are you completely consistent? For the last little while, I’ve been a latte-focused lady, but I recently switched back to drip coffee, so my Cuisinart coffee maker is back in action. It’s a great machine, and I like having a new coffee routine.

Personal: The 10 Year Challenge

One of the newest hashtag crazes on Instagram is the #10YearChallenge whereby people post side-by-side photos: one from 10 years ago and one from recently. Many photos, as you can expect, are of people’s faces or bodies to show how they’ve changed – more wrinkles, fewer baby faces, more weight, less weight. Captions are generally amusing or introspective.

I, too, got on the 10-year reflection bandwagon. The side-by-side collage brought back so many memories and made me think about the last 10 years. It was a full decade to say the least.

10 years ago – September 2009 – I was on Amherst Island at one of my oldest friend’s wedding. She and I met when we were 7 years old when our families traveled to Madeira Beach. Each summer, we’d reunite and be kids under the Floridian sun. As we got older, we started getting together in Canada, too, no matter where in Ontario each of us lived. Fast forward twenty years later from our initial meet-up, and I was her Maid of Honour. So fun! I loved the navy dress I wore. The wedding ceremony, party, and weekend on the island were great. There were many jumping photos taken that weekend, and this is one of my all-time favourites of all the jumping photos I have taken over the last 15 years!

The photo on the right was taken by one of my other best friends in August 2018 at Madeira Beach (still going and still loving it!). This particular jump came at the end of our long walk on the beach, and the rainbow had just come out. It was a cue for me to start jumping under it. You can’t see all the laughs my friend and I have had over jumping photos, but, trust me, there were many! It was actually with this friend that the jumping photos really got going about 15 years ago – in the Canary Islands of all places! So many happy memories.

And in between these photos? I had so many beautiful moments and experiences to celebrate. I have celebrated marriages, babies, and home purchases with friends and family. My three nephews and niece were born. I traveled as much as I could solo and with friends and family. I started and finished my PhD. I started and finished my MBA. I bought my first home. And it was featured in a magazine. I have learned so many renovation skills. I moved cities twice. I got a great job. And then some other challenging work, too. And a few other projects because why not!? And then there was a book! My brain is always getting its exercise! I started and have continued my blog. And I have met so many great people because of it. I have much to be grateful for.

Of course, there were less than stellar moments, too. Cancer caught multiple people in my family, my last two grandparents passed away, and my aunt lost her battle with cancer. There were breakups, and there was work stress. There were sleepless nights and worries. There have been challenging days, weeks, and months with me, my friends, and my family. As cliché as it sounds though, these experiences have made me more thoughtful, more aware, more confident, more reflective, and more trusting of my gut.

Overall, the last 10 years have been pretty great. I feel lucky. I feel proud. I feel happy. And I can only hope that the next 10 years bring me similar joy. And 10 years from now, I hope I am still jumping!

Personal: 6 Things on Mind

1. Books. I finished another Haruki Murakami novel a couple of weeks ago. It was called Dance Dance Dance, and it was great. I also finished The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham. I’m now onto another Somerset Maugham – Of Human Bondage – and I think it’s going to take me a while to get through as it’s quite long. I’m just about to start Nudge by Richard Thaler to break up the line-up of British and Japanese literature.

2. Christmas Market. It’s Christkindle Market in Kitchener this weekend. It’s a great time to be outdoors, take in the Christmas crafts, and munch on traditional German food (and mulled wine, too)!

3. Holiday dresses. I love that so many bloggers are sharing round-ups of lovely holiday dresses. But why oh why are so many of them $1000+? I’m on the look out for more affordable options. Are you interested in a posts of (affordable) holiday outfits?

4. T&T Supermarket. Oh my goodness. The T&T supermarket (focused on Asian foods and products) opened up in Waterloo yesterday. A friend and I went after work, and we couldn’t believe the chaos. The parking situation was a mess. And there was a massive line up to get in. We were surprised. Needless to say, we had no desire to wait in line for groceries, so we left. I’ll check it out in a few weeks. Has anyone been? Do you have a T&T in your city? Do you like it?

5. End of term. The term is over. My class is done. I have final papers to mark this weekend. My students worked hard, and I look forward to seeing how they translated their ideas into their final writing task.

6. Music. I recently heard Lisa LeBlanc on the radio, and I’m hooked. Lisa is a 27 year old singer songwriter from Montreal. I’ve had her new bilingual album – Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen – on repeat for weeks.

Personal: A Walk Down Memory Lane

It’s happening. It’s finally happening. After years of saying “I really need to go to Japan,” it’s actually happening. I booked my trip a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been reading anything and everything in preparation. I have 6 months to plan and finalize details of my trip as it is in April 2019. I.Am.So.Excited!

I haven’t been to Japan since I was about 5 years old, and you can bet I’m going to try to recreate some of these photos from the 80s.

What are the chances I can find this place?

(side note: I used to love my Cabbage Patch t-shirt)

I’m pretty sure these are supposed to be for washing your hands rather than for drinking. Does anyone know?

And I had to include this one of my dad. He carried around that Beta video camera everywhere we went. Could you imagine doing it now? Luckily, a few years ago, we transferred all of our family’s Beta videos and slides (yes, slides, too) and 8mm film (yes, that, too) into electronic forms, so we were able to see photos and videos that we hadn’t seen in 30 years!

What are the chances I can find any of these places? They’re likely all from Kyoto. Wish me luck!

And if you have any recommendations about Japan, leave a comment, please!

Event: #WhiteCabanaWearsPink 2018

As I told you last Monday, to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, once again this October, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. What does this mean exactly? Well, a few things. Let me share:

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Donation of Ad and Affiliate Income

I will be donating all income generated from affiliate and Google ads this month to the Canadian Cancer Society. Click on all those sidebar ads and links to products (and buy stuff if you’d like). The more you click (and buy), the more that I can donate! Easy, right? I’ll try to highlight the affiliate links when I include them in my posts this month, so you can get extra click happy!

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CIBC’s Run for the Cure

Yesterday, I ran (more ran-walked) 5K for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener Waterloo.

I’ve been doing this run on-and-off for the last decade or so, and this was my third year at the Kitchener Waterloo event. It’s a great event with that exudes support and positivity among all the emotions of sadness, gratefulness, and happiness. You can see more on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaWearsPink.

If you’d like to donate, please do so on my personal #WhiteCabanaWearsPink fundraising page. Every little bit helps, of course, so if you could forego a coffee or two this week and donate the money instead, I would be so darn thankful!

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#WhiteCabanaWearsPink Series

Every Monday, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink here on the blog!

Yes, this blog has an all-white aesthetic. But every so often, it’s great to explore another colour. So, just like the last two years, every Monday in October, I’ll explore pinkness in the design world. It’s going to be fun!

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Thanks in advance for your support, dear readers.

See the #WhiteCabanaWearsPink series from years past, if you’d like.

#WhiteCabanaWearsPink: CIBC Run for The Cure

As you may remember, each October, pink invades the white pages of White Cabana with #whitecabanawearspink. Why? Because October is breast cancer awareness month. There will be an influx of pink posts beginning on October 1st (with a bit of a head start today). Not only that, but I’ll be donating all the money earned from affiliate links and ads to the Canadian Cancer Society. As a reader, you can do your part by getting really click-happy (that is, click every darn link you see, and tell your friends to do the same). The more you click, the more I can donate!

Dainty Lion Floral

This Sunday, September 30th, I’ll be running (or run-walking) the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener-Waterloo. Who will join me? Who will tweet with me? Who will run in their cities?

I run for so many people. My mom, my aunt, my cousin, my friends. Too many women, in fact. I also run for all the family members who support these women as they go through their tiring treatments. I run for all the people who support my fundraising efforts.

I am grateful to doctors working hard on their research, organizations that raise money, nurses who are there to educate and attend to patients, scientists who are advancing knowledge, and technology that can detect previously undetectable abnormalities.

I’ll be dressed in pink for #whitecabanawearspink. You can learn more about why I run – and donate, too, if you like – on my fundraising page.

Thank you, dear readers.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

I’m ending the week with five things that have been on my mind lately.

1. Netflix

Over the course of two days, I watched the first season of Broadchurch. Oh, was it ever good. Have you watched it? Watch it!

2. Random Blogger Meet-Up

When I was in Paris, Ontario last Saturday, I ran into Amber and Derek (from Canadian Fashionista). We bonded over blogging, our love for colours (her – pink, me – white), and our failed attempt to check out the Paris Night Market. I love random meet-ups with bloggers who you sometimes only ever meet online!

3. BBQ Chicken

When I had Tim and Chris over for a BBQ a couple of weeks ago, I made this grilled chicken. It turned out well. I’d easily make it again!

4. Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

After reading this Smitten Kitchen post, I had to give Alison Roman‘s salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread cookies a try. The Cookie has gone viral on social media (as cookies sometimes do?). Bon AppĂ©tit’s article about The Cookie started with a declaration that “EVERYONE” is making them! I have to say that the recipe was extremely easy, and the cookie turned out well (see this Instagram photo). Not only that, but the cookie really is delicious! They’re a nice change to a more classic, sugary, chewy chocolate chip cookie.

5. Bayfield, Ontario

I met friends at their cottage in Bayfield, Ontario last week. It was glorious. I enjoy that little town and Lake Huron so much. My “must buy myself a cute cottage one day” remains on my mind!

Personal: 4 Things on My Mind

Here are some things that have been on my mind recently.

1. YouTube
I haven’t fallen into any YouTube watching traps for a long while, but one that I recommend you watch is Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney.

2. Audiobooks
I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks since I got into them a couple of months ago. I’ve listened to:

  • The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – This was a page-turner (of the audio kind!). I hadn’t read a mystery novel in a long while, and this ended up being a good pick.
  • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark – This is a fascinating read about the current and future state of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs – While disturbing at times, this was an excellent read. I know it’s been made into a movie, so I’ll have to add it to my “watch” list.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – While difficult to follow at first because of the many characters, the story is interesting, and I didn’t want it to end.
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – I’m extremely enjoying this series. Why did I wait so long to read these books?
  • I’ve also listened to these audiobooks, and I’m currently listening to Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child (Book 4).

3. Academic life
It is pretty wild to see my book (co-authored with a friend/colleague) listed on Amazon. The book will be published in December, so this won’t be the first or last time I’m talking about it.

4. Netflix
Last night while I was ironing, I watched Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial comedy show on Netflix. I laughed a lot! I could relate to just about every joke she told. If you’re a woman in your 30s, I am sure you would enjoy it.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s a bit of what has been on my mind – and in my life – lately.

1. Plants. I am so pleased with how two of my plants are currently growing. The first is my avocado plant that I started to grow from seed way back in the fall. The second is my fiddle leaf fig that I had cut back a long while ago, and it’s only now sprouting new leaves. So exciting!

2. Kingston. I took a trip to Kingston a couple of weeks ago, and it made me so happy to go back. I lived there for two years, and every time I visit, happy memories trickle back into my brain. I’m thankful that I’m able to continue making memories there even during very short visits.

view of my old waterfront apartment and balcony

3. Heated floor. The One Room Challenge is over, and my bathroom/laundry combo room is done. But when I saw this photo from the team at Warmup, it brought back memories of planning. I like the layout plan of my heated floor (photo source).

4. Art. When I was at Ines‘s house a couple of weeks ago for an essential oils party (with Christine and Hollie), I was impressed by all the art she has around her home. This sweet little piece by Frances Hilary Hahn really made me smile.

5. Elora. I drive over to Elora several times each year. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Waterloo, and it’s such a pretty town for a day trip. It was nice to see the progress of the Elora Mill, too. I’m thinking that the place will be pretty great once it’s all done. I look forward to taking a tour – and hopefully planning a longer stay, too!

That’s all for now. What have you had on the go lately? What’s been on your mind?

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

Here are five things that have been on my mind this week.

1. Toronto

Of course Toronto has been on my mind. There’s no reason why we should ever associate people with “mowed down.” A tragedy. An awful tragedy that is too close to home. To learn more and to stay informed, I’ve been leaning toward reading articles from The Conversation, which is an academic source but written for a general audience. Articles like “Why he didn’t shoot?” and “The dark possible motive” are just two of the several that I read.

2. Babies

Congratulations to Daniela who gave birth to her second baby. Yay! A sweet girl has been welcomed into our family.

3. Music

This week I attended a house concert by Keenan Reimer-Watts who is a Kitchener-Waterloo musician. He created original music for the harpsichord and guitar, and it was quite the evening. I especially enjoyed how he explained his composition process. I was amazed by his talent. Also – this was the first time I had ever seen or heard the harpsichord. (FYI: It’s not a harp.)

Keenan also taught us about his organization Busking for Change. In this movement, buskers and audiences come together to support the environment.

4. Reading

The new edition of Toque has been released. This is a free magazine (yes, print) that features articles about local places and people. I enjoy reading it because I always learn something new about Waterloo region (and Guelph and Hamilton, too)!

5. Post-MBA Life

Well, it’s true. I’ve moved into post-MBA life, and it’s been pretty fabulous so far. I’ve seen lots of friends, read some books and magazines, and started to plan and book mini-vacations. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to complete another degree, and I enjoyed learning a ton over the last 4 years. But I’m now looking forward to having a bit of free time.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

Here’s what been on my mind lately.

1. Emma González

Emma González amazes me. The March for Our Lives movement amazes me. I know the march has passed, and change hasn’t happened overnight. But change will happen. It has to.

2. Colorscape

I liked this short Colorscope video by Jocie Juritz about the colour white. (via SwissMiss)

3. Script to Screen Instagram

The Instagram account Script to Screen is entertaining (via Cup of Jo).

4. Book progress

The final deadline for our book is in a couple of weeks. This makes me so happy. Stay tuned for launch date this fall. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas? Hint. Hint.

5. Pray for Humboldt

Tragic news about the bus crash in Saskatchewan last Friday. Absolutely devastating for the young kids, families, and community. If you didn’t hear the news, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos young hockey team crashed with a transport truck. The crash claimed the lives of 14 people and 15 were injured. Read the Prime Minister’s statement about this tragedy if you’d like.

The Friday Five: Learn, Donate, Love

February was a wild month on my end. There were very happy days, of course, but there were also really sad days, too. Every week seemed to bring difficult news of one sort or another. Illness. Job stress. Relationship challenges. I hope March brings joy to my loved ones. I hope happiness finds its way into your homes, too, if you’ve been experiencing some trying times.

So, today, I’m taking a break from talking about renos and fashion and furniture to raise  awareness about some important causes.

Mental Illness

A friend’s brother passed away last week due to mental illness. It’s devastating and awful. He was much too young. To donate or learn more about this disease, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Prostate Cancer

Some people say that prostate cancer is a “normal” or “good” kind of cancer. How is cancer normal? How can it be good? To donate or learn more, visit Prostate Cancer Canada and the Movember Foundation.

Breast Cancer

My friend Lisa wrote a personal essay about how cancer changes the conversations you have with your partner. It was recently published in the Globe and Mail. There are several organizations you can donate to to improve awareness and research for breast cancer. I usually learn more or donate to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund, or The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Ronald McDonald House

I heard of the much too early birth of twins of friends of a friend. I also learned of how the Ronald McDonald House Charities is supporting this family who needs to be close to their babies while they’re in intensive care.

Diabetes

Did you know that 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes? And about 50% of people with diabetes may experience kidney damage. To donate or learn more, visit Diabetes Canada or The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s what’s been on my mind lately.

1. Perimeter Institute concert series. Last week, I attend Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen‘s concert at the Perimeter Institute. What an enjoyable evening out! The Perimeter Institute – PI – is one of my favourite buildings in Waterloo. It’s an impressive building that is on the edge of Waterloo Park, and I certainly enjoy the (mostly) white interior.

2. Anne. I (rather quickly) binge-watched Anne a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly, I’m eager for more episodes. Does anyone know what’s going on with this series? It brought me back to my childhood, and I’d happily watch a few more episodes.

3. Winter boots. I’m already so tired of wearing winter boots. I enjoyed Carly the Prepster’s winter boot post, and I smiled when I read it because I have just about the exact collection (and then some). Multiple boots are a must for our winter weather, especially when you have outdoor activities to do each week.

4. Design fails. This Instagram account had me laughing out loud. Look at the photos, and read the comments, too. Hilarious! I think I should submit a photo of my wallpapered furnace. I’m sure it would make the “please hate these things” cut. (source: Jacquelyn Clark)

5. Door knobs. I’m thrilled to be working with Direct Door Hardware again this year. I worked with this company when I first moved into my house because I replaced all of my exterior door locks and knobs. The selection was awesome, and I really enjoyed the interactions I had with the company staff, so I was happy to work with them again on my door makeover project.  My knobs arrived last week, and they’re so nice. Do you want to see them? Great! I’ll be sharing more news of this project in the months ahead.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

These are five things that have been on my mind lately.

1. Outlander. I’ve continued to watch Outlander, and I recently finished season 2. Oh my goodness – I loved the episodes set in France so much! But I also continued to enjoy all the scenes set in the Scottish highlands. And now I am adding Scotland to my travel goals because it looks just so beautiful (and, yes, I know that some scenes weren’t shot in Scotland). I came across real-life photos of the two main characters – Jamie Fraser played by Sam Heughan and Claire Fraser played by Catriona Balfe – and I was surprised. I just imagined that they would look exactly the way they do in Outlander. But they don’t. And seeing them in modern clothes was kind of surprising. p.s. I can’t be the only one who has a crush on Jamie Fraser, right?

2. Barre. I’m continuing with barre classes this month. I have loved every class that I have attended. I think it’s mostly because the music playlists are fantastic! I just feel like singing and dancing the whole time (instead of doing planks for way too long). Have you tried a barre class? What do you think?

3. Grocery delivery. Have you ever had your groceries delivered right to your door? I haven’t, but just today two friends (at separate times in the day) talked to me about it and I received news about Instacart, which is a same-day grocery delivery service brought to us by the Real Canadian Superstore and Zehrs (via Loblaw Companies Ltd.). How’s that for timing? Grocery delivery was today’s hot topic! Apparently Instacart has already been offered in Toronto, but it has launched in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph regions today.

And here’s a bonus for you – first time users can enter the code HIKITCHENER (3/31/18 expiration) at checkout to get $20 off an order of $35 or more, plus a free first time delivery.

4. Tumeric. What does everyone know about tumeric? I don’t know anything about it, but it has come up multiple times in my life in the last month, and I feel like I need to do some research about the benefits of this spice. One of the cafĂ©s in town (DVLB) has this tumeric warming tea that I really enjoy. And this weekend in Grey County, I learned about elixirs with tumeric in them that help with fighting winter illness. Then I did a quick Google search and found this list of benefits of tumeric tea. Thoughts?

5. Travel + People. Travel is often on my mind. This past weekend, I had the chance to work with Grey County to explore new-to-me parts of Ontario (you may have followed along on Instagram with #WhiteCabanaGoesToGreyCounty). My posts are definitely still in draft form, but you’ll see them on the blog over the next couple of weeks. For now though, I have been thinking about all the people I met on my 3-day journey. I feel lucky to have come across such happy, welcoming, and interesting people because these people made my trip that much more rich, informative, and fun. Some people. You know? You just can’t help but be thankful your paths have crossed! Who’s with me?

2017: Some Highlights

We walked down memory lane a couple of days ago with a post dedicated to my 2017 sponsors. Today, I’d like to share a some additional highlights from 2017.

1. Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: I continued my fundraising efforts again offline and online (#WhiteCabanaWearsPink) this year, and I was able to donate $250 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund (October). I ran the 5K here in Kitchener-Waterloo alongside survivors, supporters, friends, and family.

2. BlogPodium: I hadn’t been to BlogPodium – Canadian conference for bloggers – for a couple of years, and I was thrilled to attend this year (September). I met up with bloggers I’ve known for years and met so many new people. It was an enriching and fun day, and I learned a lot.

3. Style at Home: I still can’t believe my house was featured in Canada’s Style at Home magazine (June issue, page 40) and again in Style at Home’s High/Low Special Issue. People still bring it up or find me because of it all these months later. This was really a dream come true!

4. Travel: Traveling is always a highlight for me. In 2017, I took a chance on a new hotel in Buffalo, NY, and I was pleasantly surprised by both the hotel and the city. Who knew Buffalo had much more to offer than outlet malls? I also enjoyed a great trip to Nashville this month, and I’ve been sharing my reviews offline to friends and family. Next week, I’ll share my recap online, too. And, of course, I headed to North Carolina to visit my nephews and niece (and sister and brother-in-law, too) and had a great time playing around with all of them! Finally, I took my yearly summer trip to Florida and enjoyed just over two weeks of serious relaxation on the Gulf Coast.

5. Invited Speaker: I was thrilled to be invited to give a presentation about blogging to upper year design students at Sheridan Oakville (#WhiteCabanaGoestoSheridan). I do love teaching, and this opportunity meant that I got to work with students in a new, creative environment on aspects of blogging and writing.

2017 was a great year, overall, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that came my way, and I am proud of all that I was able to accomplish both on- and offline. I’m certainly eager for 2018, too, as I’ve got a few special projects already in the works, and I’m hopeful for a fabulous next 12 months!

Personal : 7 Things on My Mind

These seven things have been on my mind lately.

1. Slippery Stairs

I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much from watching slippery stairs videos.

2. Starfish Baby

This video of a baby starfish made me laugh, too.

3. Food & Drink Magazine

LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine – holiday edition – really gets me in the spirit. The recipes look just too good! I don’t yet know what I want to try making, but it’ll be something!

4. Pine Sol

Do you take the advice of your favourite bloggers? I do. And if Erica Cook of Moth Design puts her stamp of approval on something, I especially take note. She has discussed cleaning on her blog in the past, and most recently, she sang the praises of Pine-Sol. So what did I do? I added a jug on Pine Sol to my shopping cart the last time I was at the grocery store. For the first time in my life, I bought Pine Sol.

Now, I normally mop my floors with hot water and white vinegar. This has worked out well in my opinion, but I’m always happy to try something new. So I bought the purple Pine Sol and gave it a try. I was pleased. The scent was pleasant, and my floors looked clean. I also took Erica’s suggestion and put a little bit of Pine Sol down all of my sink drains, and I feel like this small effort makes a difference for my pipes” overall cleanliness.

5. Nashville

I’m going to Nashville soon. I have barely done any travel research! Any recommendations? As per usual, my go-to spot for a guide was Design*Sponge. I just love the city guides that Grace and her team review and post. (Side note – Did you know I wrote one for the Waterloo region?)

6. Barre Workouts

A friend and I recently signed up for barre workout classes. These sessions really prove to me that I’m not a delicate ballerina. Ha ha. They’ve been fun so far, and it’s been nice to have something new to do (as if I needed anything new in my life right now!?).

7. Taylor Swift

Am I too old to listen – and enjoy – Taylor Swift’s music? Nope. Don’t think so. I have had  Reputation on repeat.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s today’s list of things that have been on my mind lately.

Starbucks Rewards

Do you collect them? I do. I barely notice them, but then, when I get an email saying that I’ve earned a reward, I get happy. I usually stock-pile my rewards. Then, when I’m having a crappy day or I don’t feel like making lunch or I’m out with a friend, I can treat myself (or us!). It’s a little welcome bonus.

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat

I’m not very into beauty products, but I’ve been using this top coat for about a year now, and it’s amazing. I also use the Essie Grow Stronger base coat, and I’m sure the combination of these two polishes helps to make my nails shiny and strong.

Pop-Up Windows

Pop-up windows on websites annoy the heck out of me. Is there a way to make them permanently disappear?

Bird Seed

Does anyone have any recommendations for bird seed that actually attracts birds? I keep buying the blocks of seeds, but the birds aren’t coming.

L.L.Bean Boots

I caved. A pair of classic, 6″ L.L.Bean boots are on their way to my house. I took advantage of a 25% sale and clicked buy. I was obviously influenced by bloggers who love them (talking about Rox-Anne and Carly!), and while I would have preferred them in an all-black version, they have such a strong reputation (and following) that I’m hoping I’ll make use of them on my fall and winter walks, even though they’re a touch more “New England prep” than my usual style. I can’t believe how many L.L.Bean Boot buying guides are floating around the internet. Google it. It’s nuts!

Personal: 6 Things on my Mind

A couple of weeks ago, I shared 5 things on my mind. It was a text-heavy post (in that there were no photos), and I actually quite liked the change of scene. You? Today, I have 6 more random thoughts to share.

Cancer

It’s awful. It’s heartbreaking. And it happens to the nicest, best, kindest people. Why? Life isn’t so fair sometimes, is it?

Thanks again for working together to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research via my #WhiteCabanaWearsPink efforts. Yesterday, I made a donation to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund.

Candy

I brought Halloween treats to my students yesterday. They clapped when I told them. I thought that was awesome. They seemed to appreciate the small gesture, and I think it’s fun that adult students still get excited about candy treats. It’s the little things in life, right?

Halloween

Speaking of candy, I gave it out to about a dozen or so kids in my neighbourhood last night. Everyone was in such a cheery mood. When I really think about trick-or-treating, it is kind of strange. Getting candy from neighbours wearing funny outfits? But it is amusing, and the kiddies are just so excited when you open the door and dole out candy.

Breakfast with Strangers

I met a friend for breakfast at Kitchener Market last weekend, and, as friends do, we chatted about all sorts of things. When a man and his son opted to share our table (as KW people do), we started a group conversation. It was such a nice welcome. I mean, who talks to strangers these days? We weren’t glued to our phones. We were in conversation. So simple. So enjoyable.

Masquerade

I’m headed to a masquerade event this weekend. It was fun picking out just the right mask. Guess what? It’s not white. (It’s black!)

Movember

It’s November 1st today, which means it’s the official start of Movember. This is a month-long campaign (and year-long, too!) that raises money and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health.

Please Vote for White Cabana!

As you may remember, this here blog has been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award (woohoo!) in the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. There are only a few more weeks for the Amara Interior Blog Awards voting period, and I’d be thrilled if you could take a moment to vote!

The #IBA17 awards have a lot going on! There are over 800 blogs nominated across 10 categories. Isn’t that amazing? There are so many beautiful blogs in the round-up, so I would strongly encourage you to have a browse, learn something new, and vote for some very deserving bloggers!

Thanks for your support!

Design: Caribou Cabin in My Home

A couple of weeks ago, I shared news of Canadian newcomer Caribou Cabin. This shop designs, customizes, and manufactures chalkboards, magnetic whiteboards, and pinboards. The company generously sent me a beautiful square (34″ x34″) linen pinboard – white a white frame, of course.

Soon after the order was placed, my massive shipment arrived at my doorstep. The board was wrapped carefully and arrived safely to my home in Waterloo. When I saw the grey linen for the first time, I was impressed by the quality of the item. And the grey matched my home perfectly.

I leaned it up against the wall behind a cabinet in my living room which houses my radio, record player, and typewriter. I pinned up some memorable items from my office that I knew would look pretty and would also remind me of happy celebrations.

As I took my photos, I thought that the pinboard in my living room would be the perfect spot to showcase Christmas cards. And the great thing about the pinboard is that I can move it to other areas of my home such as a hallway landing area or office. The office is certainly an obvious spot for a pinboard, but I don’t think it’s the only place for it.

Thanks to Caribou Cabin for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own.

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News: Amara Interior Blog Award

I know last week was a little light on the blog posts. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. I’m back on top of things this week, and it’s going to be quite the week of fun posts! I’m starting off with super news –

I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award for the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. Fun, right? I’m super pumped, so thanks to the kind person who nominated me!

I’d love your support for this award, so if you feel so inclined, would you please click on over to my Amara IBA voting page and cast your vote? Pretty please!?

As per usual, there are a ton of amazing blogs to discover and support in the Amara IBA awards, so I would encourage you to browse and vote as much as you can!

Thanks, as always, for making White Cabana part of your day! And thanks for casting your vote!

p.s. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues, too!

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The Friday Five: Spring Home Maintenance Update

Just two weeks ago, I shared an update about my spring home maintenance task list. I’m happy to report that I’m now able to cross two items off the list. Two! Yay! That’s major! I’ll be honest, it was fairly easy to do because I took advantage of Father’s Day sales! Yup. That’s right. This single lady loves everything that is currently marketed to dads…BBQs, tools, machines. Oh my goodness. It’s true! It’s totally true! I think I love power tools just as much as I love peonies…it’s all about balance, right?

So…here’s my updated home maintenance task list:

  1. Garage door opener
  2. BBQ
  3. Bathroom fans
  4. Closet organizer
  5. A hallway light

This list makes me very happy! I picked up this Chamberlain garage door opener when it was on sale (yay!) from Canadian Tire and paid for Canadian Tire’s third-party connection to install it. Done and done. So far, it’s working like a dream. And since it’s a belt opener, it’s much quieter than my old chain opener. Belt. Chain. Yeah, I learned about these things this month. Thanks, Dad.

I ordered this BBQ when it was on sale (yay!) from TSC – The Country Hardware Store. It’s getting shipped directly to the store, and I should be able to pick it up any day now. Then I’ll have to pull out my tools to put it together. Any advice?

Since I won a Home Depot gift card a little while ago via a Twitter party, I’m going to have a browse through the options for the other items on the list. You know, just making my way around all the hardware stores this month! Fun!

If your dad is anything like me, he may be interested in the following five items this Father’s Day.

extremely quiet ventilation fan, $107, Home Depot

ball pendant, $19.98, Home Depot

ClosetMaid closet organizer, $158, Home Depot

And for future home maintenance task lists…

Nest thermostat, $329

chrome shelf unit, $98.97

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And Happy Father’s Day!

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Photography: How to Take Photos of Kids

I’m certainly not an expert photographer, but during my trip to North Carolina to visit my family, I took a bunch of photos of my nephews and niece. Not an absurd amount, just a bunch. And I tried a couple of things that worked well – happy accidents, really – that I thought I’d share them. Plus, everyone likes photos of cute kids, right?

I hadn’t seen these kiddies in 1.5 years. Way. Too. Long. Of course we Facetime and talk on the phone (as much as kids like to do these things), but this is definitely not the same thing as real life interactions. Because of the distance, I had only somewhat noted how their personalities had developed and changed over the year. Most noticeable was my sweet niece, Gigi, since she was barely speaking (or in a way I could understand her) the last time I saw her. Now, she’s full of personality, and she was so fun to photograph!

Here are my strategies for great (in my opinion) photos:

1. Zoom In on Facial Expressions

Miss. Gigi loves to sing Katy Perry’s Roar song, so when I asked her to roar for me, she went for it. And it was hilarious! This was just a casual thing that I asked her to do while we were cuddling on the sofa one morning (she was still in pjs in fact!). This roaring episode turned into a whole series of commands: Show me a happy Gigi. Show me an angry Gigi. Show me a “Gigi loves mommy” face. And this continued to be hilarious. I felt like Nigel Barker (noted fashion photographer). I snapped pics on my iPhone but didn’t look at them until after the “photo shoot.” When I did, I was in awe. The photos were fantastic! And Gigi really worked the camera! Ha ha ha. I combined them via the PicStitch app, turned them into black and white, and voila!

What a cutie pie!

Over the series of my days in North Carolina, I played the same photo shoot game with each of my nephews, but I altered the commands. With Reef, picky-eater Reef, I related all the commands to food: Show me an “I love Mac n Cheese” face. Show me an “I hate chicken” face. Reef, you’ll notice, wouldn’t let go of the gummy vitamins that he was handing out to all the family members mid-shoot. Oh, what fun!

Here’s what I ended up with…

I just love these kids!

2. Props

I always bring amusing (for me, mostly) gifts to the kiddies when I visit. On this trip, I packed silly glasses and whoopie cushions. Oh, the laughs! I think I need to start buying whoopie cushions in bulk because these kids sit on them with so much force that they keep breaking them! I hope you have a mental picture of this, by the way! On this visit, I even orchestrated a synchronized whoopie cushion routine with them. It was basically an amateur whoopie cushion symphony! Noone could keep a straight face, that’s forsure! Giving whoopie cushions to four kids who love the word “toot” is pretty darn funny. If you ever have a bad day, find a kid and give him or her a whoopie cushion. Hours of entertainment. Having – I mean playing with – four kids makes being an aunt a pretty fantastic gig.

I’m sure you can guess what I told them to do before I snapped the photo.

3. Get Down

I think my best photos of these kids came when I got down to their level. I’m talking knees. Taking photos of them from my height is okay, but also looks a bit odd. Getting down to their size keeps them the centre of attention and more in perspective.

4. Black and White

Kids wear a lot of colour. Sometimes their clothes match, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes their clothes are dirty. Turning colour photos into black and white gets rid of the noise in photos, and it results in a cohesive bunch of photos.

sign of a protective older brother

Cute start for a Monday, right? Have a great week, everyone!

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Personal: How to Sleep Well

Over the years, I’ve written about some of my routines and life habits. There was this post about a day-in-the-life, this review of my Hourglass Workouts, and this post about preparing for the future. Today, Leesa, a mattress-in-a-box company, asked me to chat about sleep. Yes, sleep. It’s a hot topic, and many of us are looking for the best ways to get the best sleep each and every night.

So here’s my approach:

1. Caffeine intake. These days, I have one latte at some point before noon. And maybe a tea at another point during my work day. I don’t over-think caffeine, but I know that I sleep better when I’ve not been sipping coffee/tea/pop throughout the day. As a post-dinner treat during the week, I may have a mint or chamomile tea. On the weekend, I may end a dinner with friends with a macchiato (espresso with coffee) just because I like the taste (and I can likely sleep in the following day).

2. Water intake. I drink a lot of water throughout the day. I like to believe what people tell  me – in that it keeps me hydrated and healthy. I limit my evening intake so as to avoid bathroom breaks throughout the night.

3. Temperature control. I don’t like sleeping in super hot or super cold rooms. A nice 71 degrees Fahrenheit works well for my sleep. I love being covered under my duvet and feeling comfortable temperature-wise.

3. Humidifier. I notice a difference when I have a humidifier going in the winter months. Stay tuned for a humidifier review update in the next month or so. I haven’t had much luck with humidifiers this winter, but a new one is on its way, and I can’t wait to put it to use.

4. Make lists. If I’m still thinking about work, teaching, blogging, life when my head hits the pillow, I won’t be able to sleep. To deal with the potential eyes-wide-open situation, I write everything down so it gets out of my head. I don’t know if scientific research supports my approach, but it certainly works for me.

5. Get a great mattress. Of course this is a key suggestion. I bought mine last year, and I’ve been really happy with it. You can read about how I bought a new mattress.

6. Regular bedtime. I go to sleep between 10pm and 11pm every night. If I don’t, the next day can be awful. I sleep soundly between 7 and 8 hours a night, which I think is pretty good.

7. Busy body. My life is pretty jam-packed. Between work, blogging, MBA life, friends, and family, I have little time to get bored, relax, lounge around. This means that by the time I go to bed, I’m tired. Ready to sleep. Busy days make for restful nights. Or something like that.

So while these seven things do encourage a restful sleep, I still have a couple of things to work on:

1. Pillows. I easily get annoyed with pillows. It seems like every month or two, I’m investing in a new set. Annoying. I’ve tried inexpensive ones, expensive ones, and a multitude of fillings. If you have advice, please share!

2. Alarm clock/technology. I’m one of those sleepers who keeps my iPhone on my nightstand so I can use it as my alarm clock. I’ve gone to bed way past my set bedtime because I get too sucked into Instagram and Twitter surfing. Not good. I’ve recently found my little low-tech alarm clock, but I haven’t yet transitioned to the no-iPhone-in-the-bedroom rule.

3. Exercise. Many people have attributed good sleep to exercise. I know increasing my daily exercise would help me sleep. But see #7 above. I’m a busy body. I currently lack time to fit in long workouts. This will soon have to change, though, as I signed up for the Diva 1/2 marathon.

What works for you? I’d love to know!

Blog Link-Up: Best Purchase of 2016

I’m thrilled to participate in a blog link-up today which was organized by Erica over at Luv in the Bubble. It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in a link-up, and this one has come at an ideal time! I’ve been on the look-out for new-to-me blogs this month, and many of these are just that.

 

Erica took a page out of Victoria and Meg’s link-up ideas, and invited bloggers to talk about our “best purchase of 2016.”

 

I have two – two very different – purchases to share today.

 

1. My Princess Bed

 

I declared 2016 as The Year of My Bed. I was tired (finally) of sleeping on a double mattress from my grad school days, and I needed a full upgrade on my sleep situation. I had my heart set on a French style bed with curved footboard. While I wasn’t particular about the colour or finish (anything can be painted), I absolutely wanted – had to have – a curved footboard.

 

I scoured online retailers and second-hand sites for months (and months and months and months), and I was about to settle for a newly produced bed (which would set me back thousands of dollars and would still need a paint job), when I put a tweet out into the world (aka Oprah’s vision board approach) asking for the world to send me the French bed of my dreams.

 

Can you guess what happened about a week or so after that tweet?

 

The world sent me the French bed of my dreams! Curved headboard. White-ish in colour. Gorgeous wood carvings. Oh man. It’s dreamy! After an evening of stressful bidding via online auction, the bed was mind. Credit card was charged. Shipping was arranged. The. Bed. Was. Mine.

 

This bed is pure magic. It’s unique and interesting and French and lovely.
The bed purchase led to a new mattress purchase which led to the purchase of a pair of vintage night tables which led to new lamps and artwork and styling. I wanted 2016 to be the year of the bed, and it was!

 

2. My Vintage Peugeot Bicycle

 

A rusty barely-functional white 1975 Peugeot came into my life via a Kijiji ad. I was hesitant that the bike could become shiny and functional, but my friends at Berlin Bicycle Cafe worked their magic, and the bike was restored.

My vintage Peugeot is glorious! Before I bought it, I had absolutely no idea what fun it would bring me. I had a mountain bike, but it was heavy and clunky. My Peugeot is light, French, and comfortable.

 

In the spring and summer, this bike takes me places (#WhiteCabanaBikes), and I feel so grateful that it has encouraged me to discover new-to-me trails in my city, meet cycle enthusiasts, and learn about products to improve the function (and style) of my bike. My Brooks seat and grips are extremely comfortable, and the gold Basil bell brings bling to my bike. Mostly, I’m happy to leave my car at home while I ride my Peugeot around town to do errands and see friends. It has certainly improved my quality of life!

 

Before you carry on with your day, have a poke around these other blogs to read other bloggers’ stories.

 

Thanks again to Erica for organizing this link-up!

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2016: Some Highlights

Yesterday, I gave a massive shout-out to all the brands I have been fortunate to work with in 2016. Several collaborations were the result of years-long relationships, and others were brand new experiences for which I am very grateful.

Today, I wanted to share some highlights from the year.

    • Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: Because of generous donations from family and friends, as well as an October fundraising effort on my blog and social media (#WhiteCabanaWearsPink), I was able to donate over $1200 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Amazing! In addition to the monetary donation, I ran 5K (my first in a long while) for the CIBC Run for the Cure here in Kitchener-Waterloo, and it felt great to be running alongside survivors and supporters.
    • WhiteCabanaxStephenHawes: What started out as an informal “have you ever considered…” conversation with one of my MBA colleagues turned into an amazing collaboration with Waterloo potter Stephen Hawes. The first WhiteCabanaxStephenHawes collection was on sale for one week at the Robert Langen Art Gallery at Wilfrid Laurier University. The collection sold out! Happy! Happy!
    • Expedia.ca: Thanks to an amazing collaboration with Expedia.ca, I was able to tour Italy for 2 weeks with my Dad. Among many cool adventures, I attended a reunion lunch in Rimini with his highschool friends, and spent some time in Florence with one of his best highschool friends, and my cousin came along, too.
    • Langdon Hall: I have such admiration for Langdon Hall. The place is warm, the people are friendly, and the food is divine. Just last month, I was invited to an incredible dinner with Chefs Jason Bangerter (of Langdon Hall) and Jackie Lin (of Toronto’s Shousin). This was an evening that I’ll remember (and talk about) for a long while!
    • Blogger meet-ups: The online blogging community has paved the way for  real-life friendships. Our meet-ups have extended beyond brand media events, and I’m so thankful to have such warm and kind people in my life.
    • Triathlon relay: This was a last-minute decision, but I’m so glad my friends and I braved the rain to complete our first triathlon relay. My friend Chris was a great swim coach, and TYR generously sponsored our wetsuits for the event. While the swim didn’t go as smoothly as I had expected (ew-dark lake water), it was a positive experience, and I’m even considering doing it again next summer.

How about you? What were your White Cabana highlights? What posts were memorable? What did you enjoy reading?

Thanks to you, dear readers, for joining me on this journey in white!

via Minted

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Marketplace: White Cabana x Stephen Hawes

EEEK!!!! I’m so excited to finally share a full view of my new pottery collection!

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to work with a local potter, Stephen Hawes, to create a collection of pottery. Our collection is going to be sold at Wilfrid Laurier University’s new shop at the Robert Langen Art Gallery. Pretty amazing, right?

When I was approached with the idea, I was totally on board. But then I thought – ah – could I actually design a collection that people would want, that reflects my design aesthetic, and that highlights the potter’s skills? I was nervous at first, but the process went very smoothly.

I brainstormed and sketched out a bunch of designs. I had sizes and colour options detailed, too. Then Stephen and I met to discuss the feasibility and usefulness of each of the objects I designed. We also talked about colour variation (not too much, since this was going to be a white and black collection!).

Stephen got to work in his workshop, and we met again in the summer to review the prototypes. At that meeting, it was great to see the prototypes so that I could confirm or adjust each item’s design, colour, and size.

Another couple of months went by and then the collection was done. Poof! Stephen had fired everything up and was ready for the final reveal. I know I’m biased, but it’s beautiful. I like to think that this pottery collection is modern, easy, accessible, and versatile.

So…are you ready to have a look at some of the collection? Here we go…

White Cabana X Stephen Hawes

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_1

use it for: hair ties, cotton balls, salt, mini cactuswhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_2

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_3 white_cabana_stephen_hawes_4

use it for: drinking cup, pencils, straws, cheese sticks, Qtips white_cabana_stephen_hawes_5

use it for: fruit, salad, remote controls

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_7

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_8

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_6

use it for: (L) pasta, salad, bread, rock garden; (R) candy bowl, popcorn    white_cabana_stephen_hawes_9

use it for: utensils, toothbrushes, strawswhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_10

use it for: popcorn, plant, mailwhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_11

use it for: milk, syrup, salad dressingwhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_12

use it for: (L) green tea, iced tea, water, wooden spoons; (R) spoons, sugar, soy saucewhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_13

use it for: Lego, chips, scarves

There are a variety of shapes and sizes in this collection, and the black lines of each object also vary. Each piece is unique and made with care.

The complete collection will be for sale at the Robert Langen Art Gallery in the library at Wilfrid Laurier University beginning on Monday, December 5th at 11am. More details here.

Thanks to Stephen Hawes for working on this project with me.
Thanks to Nick, Suzanne, and the Laurier Library for encouraging this initiative.

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Personal: White Cabana is up for an Amara Blogger Award!

Last week was pretty darn exciting in my blog life as my nomination for an Amara Interior Blogger award went live! I’m up for an award in the Best International Interiors Blog award, and I couldn’t be more pumped. I’m in the company of some amazing Canadian and other international bloggers, and I feel so darn grateful.

Amara-Interiors-Blog-Awards-1Voters (aka you!) have until September 9th to cast your ballots in this and all categories, so get to it. If you feel like I’m deserving, please please please vote for me (here)! And check out all the other categories, too! Some blogs, I’m sure you’ll recognize, and many will also be new to you. Who doesn’t love more reading material and online inspiration? I can’t be the only one, surely.Amara-Interiors-Blog-Awards-2

Once voting ends on September 9th, the top 5 bloggers in each category move on to the next round – the expert judging panel. Shortlists are announced on September 14th,  judging day is September 21st, and the awards ceremony – in London, UK – is on October 20th.

So, if all you do today is to vote for White Cabana, then I think that would be a day well spent. Yes?

p.s. Tell your friends, colleagues, and family members to vote, too.

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Travel: Things to Do in Rimini, Italy

While Dad and I flew into Bologna, we weren’t there for long.  After waiting for ages for our luggage, we met Dad’s friend (and now mine), Ivo, at the exit. I was exhausted, so I was happy that neither Dad nor I had to think about the next leg of our journey. Instead, Ivo shuffled us into his car and drove us all to Rimini, a beach town on the Adriatic coast about a 1 hour drive from Bologna (in Italy, when people talk about distance, they refer to the kilometers rather than the time. Rimini is approximately 120km from Bologna.)

Rimini was our first stop on our #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA vacation as my Dad’s highschool reunion lunch (a mulit-hour feast!) happened on the Sunday. A weekend at an Italian beach? Nobody had to twist my arm to go.

For the movie buffs out there, you may have already heard of Rimini as it’s the hometown of film director Federico Fellini. There are nods to Fellini throughout the city, including renamed streets after Fellini films. Fellini, I learned, based characters, places, and images of Rimini throughout his hometown (even though many were shot entirely in Roman film studios). His movie 8 1/2, of which my hotel’s street was named, won an Oscar, too, and featured the gorgeous Grand Hotel (see below). I haven’t yet watched it, but it’s now on my must-watch list.

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Let me take you on a little tour of the Rimini that I experienced over a period of three days last month.

Places to Stay

After I booked my flight with Expedia.ca and I got a sense of my Dad’s itinerary, I started researching and booking hotels. As anyone who has used Expedia.ca knows, hotel searching and booking is simple and straightforward. Dad had narrowed down Rimini hotel options for me as Ivo gave him some recommendations. As such, I used the search tool to look up Rimini hotel options.

Because of location and insider recommendations, I booked the Villa Bianca – an affordable, clean, bright hotel, located right on the beach (and in English, the hotel is called White House….perfect for me, right?). On beach vacations, I would always recommend booking a hotel right on the beach. You’ll appreciate the proximity and views. Villa Bianca‘s location was perfect, and the outdoor seating areas were white-white-white!

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lots of white outside at Villa Bianca

Villa Bianca is a partner hotel with Villa Litoraneo. Apparently, the rooms in the Litoraneo are slightly larger than those in Villa Bianca, but the two hotels share the same breakfast, views, pool, and location. Both are  very reasonably priced, so you really couldn’t go wrong with either.

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Dad and I by the pool (which I never did dip into)

My room was very clean, and it had everything I needed, including a balcony (sorry – no photos – it was much too colourful!). I loved opening the balcony doors every morning to see what was going on in the beachy world around me. There was nothing particularly special about the room; the bed was comfortable, shower pressure was good, the TV worked, and wifi was easily accessible. The breakfast, though, was substantial and inviting.

Since I was working on a budget (still trying to get my money tree to produce actual money!), I tried to keep all of my hotels at or under $200 in every city I traveled to. If budget was not a consideration, however, I would definitely splurge for the Grand Hotel. Not only was it featured in Fellini’s 8 1/2 film, it was absolutely stunning – historic, white, grand, and all-around gorgeous.

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curves on the patio

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ceiling details at the Grand Hotel

Now, before moving on to food (drool, drool), let me take a moment to talk about the star rating system for hotels in Italy. In short, ignore them. The system is not as regulated/formal/consistent as it is in North America and there aren’t as many chain hotel companies as there are here. Sometimes a 2-star hotel is much better than a 3-star hotel. When searching for hotels, I would keep the stars in mind, but I wouldn’t recommend that you use them as a completely reliable source. The 3-star Villa Bianca in Rimini, for example, was miles ahead of the 3-star hotel I stayed in in Florence. What would I do? I’d look up reviews online from other travelers (North American and non-North American), bloggers, and travel sites, and look at the hotel’s website, too.

Places to Eat

I’m just about convinced that you can eat anywhere in Italy and be pleased with your meal. The food is just so delicious (not that I’m biased). While in Rimini, we had a few meals along the main beach-front street (via Lungomare), and everything was delicious. What I would recommend, though, if you’re in Rimini, is to eat fish. Lots and lots of fish.

As you may know, each region in Italy has its own specialties, and I’d recommend you try to eat the food of the region. Italians are very passionate about food (and everything, really), and they can spend days talking about the quality of the food at the market/restaurant/region. If you can, ask locals (or watch locals) what they’d recommend.

One of the most delicious pastas I had while I was in Italy was pasta alla vongole (pasta with clams) in Rimini. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was one of the average restaurants on the main street. It was so yummy!

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bibs for adults? yes, please

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Dad and Ivo give the thumbs up for their lunch choices (Ciao, Ivo!)

The highschool reunion lunch happened at the most scenic restaurant – Rock Island. This place is the only place in Rimini that is on the water. Literally, on the water. You have to walk on a pedestrian-only pier to get to it, and once there, the views are beautiful. I’m not sure if the meals they serve are always so extravagant, but ours was! Fish after fish after fish – all served family style. Loved it.

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antipasti freddi (cold appetizers – salmon, seafood salad, squid)White-Cabana-Rimini-3 (1)

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spedini (calamari and shrimp skewers)White-Cabana-Rimini-6 (1)

semifreddo mandole (almond ice cream)

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the view at Rock Island

In the town of Rimini (a short drive away from the beach), I’m sure there are a lot of great restaurants to try. Our in-town eating consisted of gelato, so I don’t have any restaurant recommendations for you. Can’t go wrong with that.

Another thing about eating out in Italy…When you’re in Italy, I would recommend adopting the Italian meal schedule. You’ll look like the odd-man-out if you eat a light lunch at noon and a big dinner at 5pm. I mean, this is okay, but if you want to experience the Italian way, you should make some adjustments. Eat lunch at 1pm or 2pm and make it a good one. Have a couple of courses, drink a glass of wine, and enjoy the slow-paced afternoon. Maybe have a gelato between lunch and dinner. Dinner at 9pm is perfectly acceptable. You’d likely have something light like a caprese salad (tomato and mozzarella). Leaving the dinner table at 11pm is absolutely normal – especially when you’re on vacation!

Things to Do

The beach. You’re in Rimini. Go to the beach. There, that’s easy enough advice, isn’t it?

Honestly, the beach is the place to be. It is wide and long and clean. In June, there were a decent amount of people, but I’m sure that Rimini is jam-packed come July or August when Italians (and other European tourists) are on vacation.

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Generally, beach hotels have reserved sections of seating on the beach, so check with your hotel before venturing to the sand. You can, of course, just bring a towel and park yourself near the water, but the way that (most) Italians do it is that they rent a chaise and umbrella for the day (lettino e ombrellone). The Villa Bianca also offered a bit of a discount, and I’m sure other hotels do the same. My chaise was 4 or 5 euros. I’d recommend getting the umbrella, too, if you’re planning to spend a full day at the beach. It gets very hot, and the umbrella offers the perfect shade. The rental fee should also include a towel and locker room/shower access. Italians may be disorganized in some regards (e.g., driving), but they’ve got the beach thing completely under control. It’s a pretty seamless system. La dolce vita!

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When you need a break from the beach, take a walk along the via Lungomare (the waterfront street) and grab a gelato (recurring theme, can you tell?).

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Besides the beach zone, the town of Rimini is definitely worth a visit. The pedestrian, cobblestone streets are perfect for a passeggiata (a stroll), and there are plenty of shops and cafés to pop into.

There’s a ton of history in Rimini, and I learned all about it on a guided tour. Unfortunately, my memory is terrible, and I took zero notes, so you’re going to have to go take a tour yourself to learn all about the battles and buildings. Essentially, Rimini has served as a central communication point between other regions in Italy. If I understood correctly, Rimini was an important place in Italy’s history because it serves as a direct route to places like Rome and Bologna. That’s the summed up version of its history (terrible, I know!).

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Arco d’Augusto

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So this basically sums up my weekend in Rimini. Would I go back? Definitely!

Learn more about Rimini.

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA. Stay tuned for more Italian posts in the weeks ahead.

Grazie mille, Expedia.ca.

Note: all opinions are my own. Other posts in this series: Booking with Expedia.ca, 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent

There are a lot of travel tips out there – traveling with babies, kids, pets; traveling on a budget; traveling light; etc., but there are few articles addressing the topic of traveling with a parent.

Thanks to Expedia.ca, I was able to join my Dad on a trip to Italy last month. As you may remember, Dad was heading to Italy for a reunion with his highschool friends. He had done this for the first time last year after a 50-year separation. Fifty! Five-Zero! Can you believe it? His friend (who I’ll be introducing in a future post!) connected with him via Facebook a couple of years ago, and they’ve been in touch ever since.

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our first selfie of our Italian vacation (this selfie wouldn’t have happened if not for Expedia.ca!)

I thought I would share five tips for traveling with – ahem – an older parent just in case young(er) daughters and sons are giving this type of vacation some consideration.

Now, before I get into my five tips, I should admit a few things.

1. Dad is a seasoned traveler.

This most certainly helps the whole father-daughter (retiree-youngen) travel situation. The fact that Dad has been traveling around the world since he was a teen (he did come to Canada on his own when he was 19 after all) means that he’s very familiar with airports, taxis, train systems, and “other”ness.

2. Dad and I have traveled together.

I can’t even count how many trips we’ve taken just the two of us. Because we’ve traveled together, I have a good sense of Dad’s travel abilities. Knowing what he’s like when he travels or when he’s outside of his normal routines (retirees, I tell ya!) helps me stay calm and know when to push/not push limits. He also knows when to help me, when to organize things, and when to leave me alone.

3. Dad speaks Italian.

Going to Italy may be intimidating for some because of the language barrier, but this was not an issue for us as both Dad and I speak Italian. Because Dad and I both know Italian, communication in Italy wasn’t the responsibility of only one of us. Since each of us could communicate with locals, it meant that neither of us was acting as “translator”. I’ve held this gig before and it can get tiring for everyone.

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We’re just about to head to the airport. Dad with his luggage and me with wet hair. Perfect.

So, now that you know more about where Dada and I started, let me share five tips for traveling with (an older, but still active) parent. (Dad, I hope I’m not offending you with all of this age talk. Age is just a number after all, right? I know you’re reading this.)

1. Have a positive attitude.

There is a ton of info out there about how a positive attitude is key to just about everything. When it comes to traveling with a parent – or anyone, really – your attitude can make or break your vacation. Remember that you’re on vacation (hello, vacation!), and so really, nothing should get in the way of enjoying yourself.

Okay – another admission – Although I, like Dad, am a seasoned traveler, I’ve traveled quite a bit on my own. I love traveling on my own. I’ve gotten used to traveling on my own. While others are scared to travel on their own, I’m scared to travel with other people. True story. Anyone with me on this? Traveling with others  makes me a bit nervous because I don’t want to get in fights about what to see/do/eat, I want to see/do/eat what I want without having to consider others (I’m so selfish), and I want to sleep in/see a museum/eat gelato for dinner/go to bed early/stay up late when I want. Totally selfish. Independent. Strong-willed. Whatever you want to call me. That’s how I am. Friends and family who have (dared to) travel with me are well aware of my issues and know that I need my independence.

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Here we are at Pearson on the tapis roulant (moving sidewalk – what are these things called in English or French?). In between selfies, dad’s saying, “This is why you always drop your phone, Jordana.”

So how do I travel with my Dad when I’m such an independent bugger? Well, I try to stay positive:

  • I know in advance that Dad and I are not going to want to do all the same things at  the same time. And that’s okay. We’re still family. This doesn’t mean that we’re bad travel buddies.
  • I realize that this is a special vacation that I’m so lucky to be on and that some daughters never get to experience traveling with their fathers. This is a cool opportunity, and it’s going to be memorable for both of us.
  • I don’t need to stress about seeing everything. Italy will always be there. What we see is what we see.
  • I talk to Dad in advance of the trip of my itinerary ideas to see where his interests lie.
  • I think again about what an amazing adventure we’re on, and that we’re so lucky to be able to see the world together (thanks a million, Expedia.ca!)

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We made it from Toronto to Frankfurt. We look tired but happy. Dad’s saying, “Make sure you get the planes in the background, Jordana.” My response, “I’m half-asleep, Dad. I’ll do my best.”

2. Have faith.

Okay, this may sound rude, but I’m going to say it anyway. Just because your parent may be 30+ years older than you, it doesn’t mean that s/he is not capable.

I have faith in Dad’s abilities. I know he can pack and carry his own luggage, connect to wi-fi independently on his iPhone, ask for directions, navigate trains, book things online, and check-in to his flight via the airline’s automated check-in kiosk.

Dad’s very capable and if he needs help, he’ll ask. I am confident that if Dad needed me to do something for him, he’d ask. In general though, I keep my expectations high so that he doesn’t fall into the “my daughter organizes everything for me” trap. That’ll just make his brain lazy, right? (I hope noone is calling me out on being an ageist. I’m not an ageist. I’m a realist.)

So, I’d recommend that you have faith in your parent’s abilities to travel. S/he may not do things your way at your speed, but s/he has made it through a lot of life without you. Your parent can do this!

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We’re ready to board our Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Bologna, Italy. Dad’s saying, “Look at all the names printed on the side. Who are they?” My response, “Look here, Dad, for another selfie.”

3. Communicate and know limits.

Dad and I aren’t the most perfect communicators on the planet (wait until I share my Pisa photos with you!), but when it comes to traveling together, I think we’re pretty good at checking in with one another about status/sight seeing interests/fatigue levels/meal preferences/etc.

It’s good to be aware of when your parent may need an extra long coffee break or a mid-day nap, or when your parent can power through (when you might need a mid-day nap).

It’s also helpful to know your parent’s eating habits. Food is a major part of my life (and my family’s), but we all have our preferences. Knowing Dad’s limits when it comes to food type preferences, meal times, and eating out helps me organize my own meals and dining experiences. There’s no point trying to convince Dad to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant at 9pm when I know all he wants is a light meal at 6pm. You know?

While I do admit that my Dad is very capable, I’m aware of limits. When I’m too quick at airport security or walking too fast to catch a train, I know that he won’t keep up, so I slow down or I ask him if he wants help (he never said yes, now that I think about it). If we miss a train, we miss a train. Another one will come along. (Side note: We never missed a train. In Bologna, we hustled and made it with 30 seconds to spare. Go team!)

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Breakfast in Rimini, Italy. We’re both fans of Nutella. #truth

4. Be independent.

So Dad doesn’t want to eat dinner at 9pm at a fancy restaurant. No big deal. I’m happy to go on my own. I think having time away from one another is a healthy part of traveling with others. When each traveler has some independence, they get to explore what they want and take a break from talking (seriously. especially when you’re spending so much time talking in your 3rd language as in my case. it’s totally tiring.). Exploring a city independently means that you’ll have stories to share when you do catch up. And that’s so fun!

Dad and I had time apart during our Italian vacation, and I think this made us both happy. He’d get sick of me just as much as I’d get sick of him if we were to spend 24 hours a day together. When we met up in Florence after I spent three days in Bologna on my own, for example, I was able to share all of my stories and photos with him. And he was able to fill me in on what he’d been up to in Florence. I thought it was great.

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selfie at San Miniato al Monte in Florence, Italy

5. Know when to take the lead.

Even though you, like me, may be traveling with an independent, capable, and experienced parent, I think it’s useful to know when you should just forget about all of that stuff and take the lead. This could mean following the signs at the train station for both of your sake, asking for directions, or making final decisions about what restaurant to go to.

Taking the lead means you get to show your parent how capable you are, to reassure them that you’ve got things under control, and to give them a chance to rest or regroup. Taking the lead might force them to try something out of the ordinary. And if your parent wants to take the lead for a chunk of time, let them. Dad, for example, was in charge of booking all of our trains. Awesome. Worked for me.

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selfie with the leaning tower in Pisa, Italy

Bonus:

Make matching t-shirts to tell the world that you’re a team! It was absolutely hilarious to travel around Italy with our matching White Cabana t-shirts. I’m eager to make more professional ones for our next adventure…even if it is just to the grocery store.

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spending father’s day together in Codogno, Italy

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA. Stay tuned for more Italian posts in the weeks ahead.

Many many many thanks to Expedia.ca for sponsoring my trip. Grazie mille! All opinions are my own.

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