The "By The Book" Book Club at Clevelands House

Mixing it Up a Bit with Sharon

The "By The Book" Book Club at Clevelands House

Even though I’m part of a book club that’s been running for eight years, this past winter I got into a reading rut. I wanted to read smart books—the books everyone recommends and are at the top of the best seller lists. The ones you read and are all “Now I totally get why everyone loves it.” 

The ones Oprah reads. 

Only I would get about five or ten pages in to these books and put it aside. Then I would go to the bookstore or library and get a mystery novel or some chick lit. I didn’t even finish most of our book club reads and I host every single one. How sad is that?

While speed skating has made me conscious of what I feed my body, my mind was being fueled by brain candy. Not that this is a bad thing, I happen to like candy. But if I ate nothing but chocolate for an entire winter, I’d probably get tired of chocolate. Probably.

I may put this to the test, you know, in the name of science.

I think we all get into ruts from time to time. Eating, exercising, reading…it’s easier to choose what is familiar to us and stick with it rather than mix it up.

So I’m here to stir the pot.

YMC is invading Clevelands House resort in Muskoka this summer. From August 23rd to August 26th, Erica, myself, Lisa Thornbury, Sarah Gunn and Gav and Ali Martell are going to be up at this resort that Erica’s been raving about for the entire time I've known her.  

I’ve worked with Erica for over four years now and for almost three of those four years, Erica and I were running YMC by ourselves. Suffice it to say, we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. Here’s what I will tell you. When I speak to Erica when she’s on vacation at Clevelands House—and yes, we talk during our vacations—it is the most relaxed I ever hear her. It’s the one place where she can completely unwind. If you know Erica that’s saying a lot, she’s a bit of a tech addict. And by bit, I mean PUT DOWN THE PHONE ERICA.

We want you to come and join us on this four day vacay in Muskoka!

You can enter to win a free stay Clevelands House plus we have a 20% discount for YMC members if you book a stay from August 23rd to August 26th.

There’s already a tonne of things to do at Clevelands House but YMC has a few special things planned as well. Gav, the Grill King, is hosting a BBQ class, Lisa is going to teach you how to mix a special drink (or for me, two or three) and Sarah’s going to have you put together a DIY project that will put Martha Stewart to shame.

And me? I’m hosting a Book Club.  I’ve named it the “By The Book Book Club By Sharon” but you won’t have to buy the book. When you book your four day stay at Clevelands House, Random House of Canada is going to send the book to you for free.

I do believe I’ve just broken the world’s record for the most times using the word ‘book’ in one paragraph.

Are y’all curious as to what book it is?  Cassandra at Random House sent me a list of books to choose from and….drumroll please…I chose this one.

I devoured this book in a mere 48 hours. No matter what kind of relationship you have with your mother Please Look After Mom will make you look at her in a whole new light. For the first time in ages, I read a book with my trusty highlighter in hand so I could mark passages. It's the book that got me out of my reading rut.

I'm excited to share this book with you and I'm super excited to spend four days at Clevelands House. And if you come, you'll be able to recognize me right away—I'll be the girl by the pool with a mojito in one hand and a book in the other.

So what say you? How about you mix it up a bit and come and join us.


Join us at the YMC Family Weekend at Clevelands House!

Register ASAP by calling 1-866-645-1902 or via email at

YMC Members get 20% Off—Make sure you mention YMC when you call to get your discount.



The Sounds Of Summer

I did not set out to reclaim these memories of my childhood

The Sounds Of Summer

It was not a conscious act on my part, I did not set out to reclaim these memories of my childhood. It was a gift.

It was a typically typical trip to the park. They were off—running, laughing, pretending, fighting, making up—and then off and running again. I was on the bench reading, occasionally glancing up to watch their antics or when they wanted my attention “Mummy, look at me! Did you see that? Are you watching? Look what I can do.”

But on this particular day, I lay down my book, walked over to the swings and wedged myself into the soft u-shaped seat. Swings have decreased in size since I was a child. Kicking my legs up and out, I rode through the air, butterflies flitting about in my stomach as I flew forward and up. I leaned back, arms straight, head tilted up towards the sun and closed my eyes. The butterflies grew in number and as I flew up towards the sky, it happened.

At first it was only the rushing sound of wind in my ears but as I relaxed and freed myself from my thoughts—“What should I make for dinner tonight? I still need to pack. Oh crap, was that deadline today?”—and listened to the sounds around me, I stepped back in time and heard the sounds of my childhood. Cars droning in the background, water running, children laughing with the occasional excited yell thrown in, murmured conversations, the rubber soles of shoes hitting the cement as a group of kids played tag and in the distant background, a baby crying. If I listened closely enough, I could almost hear the heat rising from the hot asphalt of the parking lot. For a few seconds, I was a child again. I was pulled from my travel back in time by the sound of my own children’s voices “Did you bring a snack Mummy?” 

Just like that, I was an adult again.

An adult with her ass wedged into a very small swing. In retrospect, jumping from the swing while it was still in motion was a bad idea. The memories were fresh and new, my body is not.

Like most families, mornings at our house are chaotic. My older son is more like me, wanting a few minutes to relax on the couch before clomping down the stairs ready to face the day. He could lounge around the house in a robe all day if I let him. I have birthed Hugh Heffner, I think.

My youngest wakes up and hits the floor running. I shuffle throughout the chaos zombie-like, eyes not fully open, brain not quite functioning as I wait for my coffee to brew. They both know not to ask questions until my mug is empty. They know, but they ask anyway.

The weekends, though—the weekends are different. More relaxed. More time. My older son was relaxing upstairs, my younger son had already eaten and was playing on the front sidewalk. I sat in our living room with the window open, a fresh breeze blowing in, coffee in one hand a book in the other. At some point I closed my eyes and lay my head on the back of the chair. It started with the sound of crickets chirping and the traffic off in the distance. But the sound that threw me back to my childhood was the slap slap slap of my son's bare feet hitting the cement as he ran down the sidewalk.

Suddenly I was a barefoot eight-year-old-girl running across the street to my best friend’s house. Her family had installed a pool and that summer we spent every waking moment swimming until our eyes were glowing red and our hair had turned green from chlorine. I was sure we would be best friends forever.

I sat in the chair listening and savouring the memories that were flooding my head until I heard a small voice whisper through the window, “Mummy? Mummy? Are you awake?” I turned to him and smiled. “Will you come play with me?” he asked.

And with my memories still swirling around in my head, I did. Happily, like a child.


I Am A Brush Whore

How Does Something Like This Even Happen?

I Am A Brush Whore

I was going to write about my awesome Mother's Day but how it's a weird day for me in general because on the one hand it's Mother's Day and I get completely spoiled yet on the other hand I think of my own mom who is no longer here and then there's the fact that it's also the four year anniversary of the day our family got into a head on collision with a drunk driver.

I know, my life is awesome, is it not?

I was going to write about all of that but then I realized I'm a brush whore.

Seriously. Also, WTF. How does something like this even happen? I didn't realize it was this bad. I think it may even trump my white t-shirt addiction.  When I brought the brushes downstairs to take the picture, my husband looked at the bag, then at me, then back at the bag and did that whole slow head shake thing.  My kids were all "OMG Mom, why do you have so many brushes?" and I was all, "It's an addiction, leave me alone."  When they were spread out in different drawers and baskets in the bathroom it didn't seem like a problem, yet when viewed all together...


In my defense, I didn't buy them all at once. They were bought for different lengths and styles.  The super skinny one was because I got bangs and a bigger brush would make them practically stick straight out. There's a no tangle brush in the mix.  The oval one makes my hair super straight.  There are large barrel brushes for long hair and boar hair bristles brushes to make it shiny. That was before I realized what I actually need are brushes with little plastic bristles to grab onto my hair.  But not all plastic bristles because those don't grab on enough, there needs to be a mixture of boar and plastic.

Of course, there's a comb thrown in in for good measure.

I may be a whore but a girl also needs to tease.

My husband has only one brush in his bathroom repertoire.

I use that one too.

A few weeks ago I was at the Beauty Supply Outlet buying hair dye for my roots. I'm about 90% grey and my hair grows fast—about an inch a month—so I need to dye my roots every three weeks. That means if I went to a salon to get it done I would have to pay my hairdresser a kajillion dollars a year just for root upkeep and our accountant told us I could have nice roots or a house but not both.

I hate our accountant.

While I was there I came across what I think will be the be-all-to-end-all brush purchases ever.  It's the 3D by Hotheads. The packaging said it would cut my drying time by 50% and it has THREE different sets of bristles. Three! And the bristles are kinda angled which means it must do something different than the plain ol' straight lined brushes, right? Plus the woman at the counter, who I'm sure recognized me from previous brush purchases, told me if I didn't like it I could return it.

Also, did I mention the angled bristle pattern?

This brush has changed my hair. I think it's magic.

I may not be such a whore after all.

p.s. This post isn't sponsored at all. I really am a brush whore and purchased Every. Single. One.