Friday, 28 June 2013

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

Oh, how grateful I am for Anna Quindlen! She is a few years older than me, but not so many that our cultural references are dissimilar. I first discovered her in college when she was already an established writer and columnist at The New York Times. She was just that little bit ahead of me, that little bit more experienced and wiser, like an older version of myself sending me advice from the future. She has continued to crop up in my life from time to time as I hit each new stage of life and she has just popped up again with Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, which I started to gobble up with indecent haste.

When I realized how fast I was getting through it, I slowed up and eeked out the second half of the book, savouring one essay at a time, not wanting my time with her to end. As I was reading the very last essay, it occurred to me why I like her so much: she is extremely thoughtful. Not as in "kind" (although she very well may be!), but as in "full of thought". She has really churned things over in her mind, lots of things on lots of levels, and she has come to lots of conclusions, but it never feels like she is forcing her opinion on you, just sharing it, giving you something to mull over...and it has. I think more deeply about my own life, my own choices, when I have been reading her words. What matters to me? What happens next?

There's a line in the book where she's talking about how she used to complain about how much time her mother spent on her (Anna's) hair, but how, deep-down, she loved the attention. "It was single-minded attention from a person who was frequently pulled in so many directions that she was psychologically drawn and quartered." Isn't that a perfect description of what it feels like to be a mother? There are too many instances to name where she voices my feelings and thoughts precisely. Suffice to say, I was sad to finish this book and am now recommending it to all my girlfriends so they, too, can devour it and feel loved and understood and comforted by it.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Resting Place

"The resting place of the mind is the heart. 
The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells
 and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. 
The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside 
the silence of the heart, that's where you need to go."

I love this little slice of wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert. In an increasingly frenetic world, it is so important to be able to slow down, go within and regroup in a quiet, peaceful space. It's reassuring to remember that we carry that space with us all the time and can drop in whenever we need to pause
and catch our breath. See if you can give yourself the gift of five minutes today to just sit quietly and breathe.

A Love of Lotion

My lovely friend Sara picked me up a pot of this heavenly-scented cream at a fair last month. (Well, I told you she was lovely!) I have a lot of hand cream. My hands are always dry and I seem to try a new one, fall in love, then get distracted halfway through and start in on another one. This one, however, I have gone through with abandon and am now scraping the last bits out of the recesses of the jar with the back of my fingernail -- and that is about as good a recommendation as I can make!

Caurnie Organic Herb Garden's Calendula Lotion

It has a light-as-a-feather citrus smell which contrasts with its thick, rich feel. It sinks in quickly, though, which is my personal benchmark for a good hand cream -- closely followed by how soon I need to reapply it. (Not for ages, in this instance, I am happy to report.) It is not currently listed on their website, so I must sign off now and go and ring them!

Hidden Gem: Garden Museum Cafe

The cafe at the Garden Museum is one of those amazing secret places that London is so good at. You could walk right by it a thousand times and never know it was there. This fabulous green oasis is tucked neatly away next to Lambeth Palace on the south bank of the Thames.

I went with my brother on a rare sunny day and we were lucky enough to sit outside at the little tables out back in the garden behind the church that houses the museum, cafe and well-stocked gift shop. The food is vegetarian and delicious. The next time the sun comes out, grab a friend and go!