Bella Grace

August 2, 2018


Is it a magazine? Is it a workbook? Is it a journal? Is it a treasure? Yes, yes, yes and yes!

Whatever you label it, Bella Grace is an absolutely beautiful publication.  Issued quarterly by Stampington & Company, its content is driven wholly by reader-submissions thereby striking a personal and intimate tone without any intrusion by garish advertising. You will find food for thought and inspiration in quotes, stories, lists, writing prompts, random reflections, and photography. Oh, the photography! The quality of the paper alone will have you sighing deeply. I promise.

Bella Grace really defies categorization because you will find yourself gazing at it and pondering new ideas like you would with a book or magazine but then you’ll also be sketching and scribbling in its pages as if it’s a workbook or journal. At first I was reluctant to scar the pretty pages but its messaging will convince you that you’re actually adding to the beauty.

As for that “message”, Bella Grace describes its aim: “to touch the souls of our readers through beautifully penned stories and striking photographs that capture life’s beautiful adventure.” The Bella Grace manifesto reads:

  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • An ordinary life can be an extraordinary life.
  • There is beauty and magic to be found everywhere.
  • It’s OK to embrace imperfection.
  • Life should be lived with a full heart and open eyes.

Hopelessly romantic? This one’s for you!

My favourite article in the latest issue (#16 Summer ’18) if I was forced to choose just one, is written by Holly Clark and called Beyond the Cutting Room Floor. Holly points out that those photos we eliminate because we deem them not quite “perfect” may in fact capture the real gold, the real essence of a person or a memory. I completely agree.

Locally, Bella Grace can be found at Chapters and Michael’s (of all places). Subscriptions and back-issues can be ordered on-line here.






The delightfully engaging Matchbook Magazine (on-line and a MUST read) reliably fills its pages with charm and wit and inspiration and essential conversation-fillers every month.  Fashion, decor, nostalgia, trivia, art and creativity, and entrepreneurism … if it existed in paper form it would be dog-eared, water warped, and have sueded pages from so much reading. There is often a List (see below) and always a May We Recommend feature with spot-on book, film and music suggestions. I read the issues on my laptop but I know there are many of you with fancy ipads and other E-readers who’d enjoy it in that format. As the calendar braces for a flip, get ready to savour an April issue soon I expect. Meanwhile, there is a healthy archive of past issues; I envy newcomers to Matchbook who can visit all those pages for the first time. Click on some of the back copies shown above or click here to get started:   Matchbook Magazine

The Matchbook Girls – those who are the creative genius behind its existence – are big readers so you’ll find plenty of bookish charm throughout:

Jane Lilly Warren and Katie Armour

And how wonderful is this list?! How many have you knocked off (Nabokov?!)?  (From the February 2012 edition – click to make larger) I adore that Heidi and Madame Bovary appear together. I’m finding myself assessing women characters in my reading as to whether they’d be considered a “Matchbook Girl” or not. Recently finished Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and believe Katey Kontent may just qualify.

Each month the issue begins with a description of The Matchbook Girl – this one from April 2011 is especially fun:

Matchbook Magazine feels like a Spring Day unto itself – hope you can make time to become acquainted as your Spring arrives.

For more on-line magazine reading visit an earlier post: Reading Magazines … on the web

And you may recall an earlier reference to Matchbook Girl in the post: Personal Manifestos

The September Issues

August 23, 2011

The days may be sunny and warm but in the next few weeks a chill will settle in the evenings and thoughts will lead to sweater weather again. An end of summer ritual for many is spending time with the September issues. Traditionally, the September issues of fashion magazines, appearing in mid-August, have the greatest sales and the most significant heft of the year.  The record breaking edition was September 2007’s American Vogue magazine at some 840 pages, weighing in at over 5 pounds. Advertisers have been a bit harder to come by in recent years but Vogue’s 758 pages this year is still impressive. Understandably, the cover model is an important decision for these issues. September 2011 will see the following:

Vogue (US edition) – Kate Moss

In Style – Beyonce

Elle (US)– Gwyneth Paltrow

Harper’s Bazaar – Lea Michele

Vanity Fair – Jennifer Lopez

For entertaining insight into the behind the scenes development of not only a magazine, but one of these iconic issues, view The September Issue. This documentary follows Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, during the entire process. View the trailer here and then plan to hoist a big September issue onto your lap and snuggle up to watch the DVD on a cool late summer evening.

Magazines, as we’ve discussed before, are another form of reading entertainment many of us enjoy. I’ve always appreciated magazines for the dose of colour and creativity – it’s fun to be inspired by the work of others be it in home or fashion design, travel, art, writing, philanthropy or even sport.  I’ve not gone the way of an e-reader (yet) but those I know who’ve braved that world are particularly fond of the way magazines can be read on the device. (It appears the ipad dominates this market.) I’ve recently discovered a growing number of magazines that are available free of charge or by donation for reading primarily on-line, some without any print presence at all. These work quite well on a computer screen and seem to be the new direction for magazines in general. A unique feature of on-line magazine reading is that should you be interested in learning more about a product, service or person shown, a link is often embedded so you can be taken straight to the specific webpage.

Hints as you get underway: Full Screen mode viewing is best – just select that option from the task bar. If the print is too fine or small, enlarge the text.  Subscribe to receive the newest edition when it’s available or Bookmark the site. Don’t forget to check the archives for back-issues as well. Just think – no teetering piles of slippery outdated magazines vying for space with your precious books! Have fun and let us know if you’re a convert to reading magazines on-line.

Click on the photos of each magazine cover below to be taken to their site where you can try reading on-line.

  Lonny Magazine – Lon(don) N(ew)Y (ork) is THICK.  Gorgeous photography and really fun vibe throughout. Has connections to the late but beloved Domino magazine. “At Lonny, we believe in making design choices that lead to personal happiness. We value individual style and independent thinking, and are convinced that inspired design can be achieved anywhere—from the smallest studio apartment to the grandest estate.”

 Rue Magazine – Rue believes: “That every colour can be your favourite colour… That inspiration is everywhere… That everyone has the talent and drive to design their most beautiful life–we all just need a little nudge in the right direction…”

  Covet Garden –  Inspiration Grows Here. ” We started Covet Garden because we wanted to see a magazine that made us feel as though we were invited into someone’s home. And then, once they let us in, we started snooping around and got to know them a bit better.” Canadian and unique in that it features one creative person or team each month. Short and sweet and “inspiring – not aspiring“!

And two from Australia … when you need a little spring inspiration during our dreary autumn!

 Adore Home – Another youthful, colourful and fun magazine, featuring design, decor and travel.

  Ivy & Piper “Their collaboration is quirky, fun and truly unique,  aiming to inspire their clientele to embrace a sense of fun in their interiors and add a touch of glamour to every day life…it’s Fashion for the Home!”

Remember that big fat Back to School issue of Seventeen magazine? … It may be the first connection many of us had with magazine reading.  I tend to read a collection of magazines on a monthly basis but always enjoy compiling a stack of special ones for summer days or travel.  Here are a few of my favourites …


Mental Floss

If you love trivia and good wit you’ll love this! A great Father’s Day gift too.

On the website they answer the question: What is mental floss magazine?

“For the record: mental_floss magazine is an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. We’re the sort of intelligent that you hang out with for a while, enjoy our company, laugh a little, smile a lot and then we part ways. Great times. And you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while. Like a couple days later when you’re impressing your friends with all these intriguing facts and things you picked up from us, and they ask you how you know so much, and you think back on that great afternoon you spent with us and you smile. And then you lie and say you read a lot. “  (Loving it already aren’t you?! )

La Vie Claire

Not always easy to find this one in our town but worth hunting for – absolutely scrumptious photography and inspiring articles about creative and entrepreneurial folk. They describe themselves at La Vie Claire as: Celebrating the art of living a creative life with passion, purpose, and inspiration. With beautiful photography of extraordinary places, La Vie Claire invites you to escape.

It’s a special treat to splurge on occasion and venture into the international section of the rack.  You may spend a bit more but I assure you that you’ll find exciting new ideas and images based on refreshingly different sensibilities: recipes, gardens, entrepreneurial ventures, fashion, essays, decor, travel, shops and yes, even reading recommendations.


Country Living, The English Garden

Country Living – UK edition has stunning photos as well that will make you feel like you’ve traveled through the English countryside yourself.  My garden may never strike even a faint resemblance to the gardens featured in The English Garden but a gal can dream!

Cote Maison

Leave the UK and head south to France and any of the Cote Maison series (Cote Sud or Cote Ouest/Est and Cote Paris) A little European vacation … you’ll be so inspired!


The summer season prompts many magazines to publish special editions. Business might not be your first pick at the beach but take a peek at Fast Company and its 100 Most Creative People in Business edition or Entrepreneur magazine’s 100 Brilliant Ideas issue.

You may pick up your magazines at the grocery store or pharmacy check-out but if you want a perfect rainy day adventure and you are in Vancouver head to Does Your Mother Know? magazine mecca in Kitsilano at  2139 West 4th Ave just west of Arbutus Street. You will not believe the variety!  Don’t be intimidated by the shop’s name – it’s a bit odd and has no doubt intimidated a few meek souls fearing the worst.  The neighbouring shop is Readerwear which sells nothing but reading glasses so if your eyes are dim and you cannot see you won’t be adrift in the magazine shop.

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