I was born in Montreal. My family immigrated to Dallas, Texas in the late 60s before I started Kindergarten. Growing up, we were a Canadian family in Texas. There was one summer the doctor had to prescribe air conditioning because of my heat rash, since my mother didn’t turn on the AC before July. In the 70s, we had “Quebec Non” pins and stickers in our kitchen, as Quebec fought to secede from Canada. When my grandfather came to visit, he brought an extra suitcase full of Montreal bagels and smoked meat. But I didn’t know Montreal until, at age 50, I went on a solo vacation, took a rental in the Plateau, walked the east side of the Mountain, learned the metro system and found my roots. Every July for the past seven years, I have spent my summer vacation in Montreal. The first year it was one week, the next two, and now I’m up to three weeks. Family and friends come to visit me there now, and we joke about how much someone would pay for me to take them around the city for a day. I arrive right before my birthday so I can wake up in the city of my birth, which I now know so well and love so much. It’s a ritual I am heartbroken won’t be repeated this year in the time of COVID-19.
July is vacation month for me. I take off 3 weeks starting in mid-July. I look forward to it all year. It is the happiest time of my year. We have had to make so many adjustments in the pandemic, all of which I took stoically, but the reality of not going to Montreal this summer is weighing heavily on me. It’s just a place. It will be there when this pandemic is over. I am still taking my vacation time, something I thought was very important, not only to my overall wellbeing, but to the wellbeing of our practice. We learn what works and what doesn’t work when I am away for an extended period of time. As I think about vacation this year, I am stocking up on journal supplies, puzzles, books, and even needlepoint. It will be a much different experience than eating, exploring and shopping in my birth city, but it will be a much-needed vacation all the same.
I wish you a happy, safe July – it really is the best month of the year!!
BOUTIQUE LUSTRE @BOUTIQUELUSTRE
I have so many favourite (Canadian-rules spelling) shops in Montreal, but my all-time must-visit secret-find is designer Yasmine Wasfy’s shop Boutique Lustre. We found Boutique Lustre on one of those days spent wandering St. Laurent Boulevard, where the rule is if someone wants to check out a store, everyone must go in. What a surprise and joy to walk into Yasmine’s shop and find handmade women’s wear in the most intriguing fabrics. The price point wasn’t cheap, but not expensive. We took over the dressing rooms, tried everything on and spent the afternoon with Yasmine, who is an exquisite tailor, knows a woman’s body and won’t let you walk out of the shop until she’s pinned alterations to make your pieces fit perfectly. Boutique Lustre became an annual shopping pilgrimage.
The pandemic has brought us many changes, but Yasmine was already in transformation mode in the last year. She had developed a bridal business and a growing online clientele. When we spoke last summer, she had a vision of producing small collections of non-basic pieces using sustainable fabrics and depending less on the traditional business model of producing a lot of pieces and being dependent on walk-in customers to buy them. When I heard that, I bought up all the basic pieces she had left! No one could have predicted the pandemic, and Yasmine wouldn’t tell you she was prepared for it, but her instincts were right on. She now produces small monthly collections in limited-quantity size runs and offers them on her website until they are sold out. If she has enough fabric, she will offer Custom sizing made-to-order to your measurements.
If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen many of Boutique Lustre’s creations. The clothes are pretty and modern. The fit is just right. For a long time, I only bought the special occasion pieces, and then discovered the everyday items that are great for work and weekends. Yasmine and I now keep up year-round. I buy clothes from her year-round. I am grateful for that, and for the pretty packages that arrive by Canada Post.
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