Archive | June, 2016

Countdown to 496

30 Jun

Blog #81

Tomorrow is the day! Yes, it’s Canada Day, that’s true — but the momentous moment I’m talking about is the start of my 30-day Minimalism Game!

I’m feeling excited and a little anxious about the endeavour. Some people (I won’t say who!) have expressed doubts and misgivings about this project — with comments like “…that’s a LOT of stuff to get rid of!” or “…why put a number on things, why not just go at it and get it done?”

Well, I have to admit, that I’ve been thinking about this project every day since I decided to take the plunge and I have asked myself those very questions.

Four hundred and ninety-six things, IS a big number. Maybe, I won’t accomplish this lofty goal — but, for me, the end number isn’t really important — I’m going to do my best to “get rid of stuff” each day as per the game, but I’m not going to worry too much if I get to Day 15 and find out that 120 things is the most I can downsize by.

Boxes

The important part of this game, for me, is the process of going through all my possessions and mindfully thinking about their part in my life. What value does this pair of shoes have? Do I need really the green vase that’s been sitting on a shelf gathering dust? When was the last time I actually used the waffle iron? Will I regret giving away my button collection?

Minimalizing my stuff in this way, I believe, will help me to change my thoughts and habits so that I can actually live happily with less. I want to live a simpler life and believe that minimizing is a good first step.

I aim to reach the goal of shedding 496 things — I believe it is doable! I am looking forward to the lessons I will learn from the process of letting go!

Feel free to join in the game! I will be recording my progress on this blog and I would love to hear about yours!

 

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Ooh, La, La! La Petite Macaron

29 Jun

Blog Post #80

My daughter dropped by last night, bringing with her a box of macarons from Bon Macaron Patisserie on Granville Island. A small box, filled with an assortment of the pretty round pastel-coloured French pastries.

Macarons, originating in Italy, were a single round cookie made with almond paste. According to the website, Mr. Macaron, it was in the 1890’s, that a pastry chef, Pierre Desfontaines, had the idea of putting two cookies together with butter crème, jam, compote or ganache in between. Et voilà, the macaron that we’re all crazy about was born!

The macaron, today, consists of a ganache filling sandwiched between two round meringue shells. The shells are usually made of finely ground almond flour or powder, egg whites and sugar, creating a crisp, airy cookie. The ganache is flavoured with whatever the creative pastry chef dreams up.  Bon Macaron has elegant fillings like: Earl Grey, Champagne, Limoncello and for the more adventurous: Maple Bacon and Olive Tapenade. With over 50 flavours, both sweet and savoury, this patisserie has a taste to please every palate.

For my first ever bite of macaron, I sampled a Lavender one from Brynne’s box. I loved the pale purple colour of the delicate cookie, and I was expecting a sweet, lavender-tinged essence. I wasn’t expecting a burst of lavender to amaze my taste buds. I cannot adequately explain the sweet, intense fullness of the flavour — but it was kind of like sitting in a field of the herb and breathing in the aroma, filling my senses with lavender. Absolutely delicious.

macaron

#haikuchallenge — It’s Poetry!

28 Jun

Blog Post #79

Since I’ve been participating in the Haikuesday challenge, I have learned a lot about the Japanese poetic form known as haiku. From its ancient beginnings in Japan, to its modern day English counterpart, haiku has enchanted poets and readers for centuries.

Today I discovered, haiga, a style of Japanese art that incorporates poetry with images. Traditionally, haiga is a simple painting created by a haiku poet who would usually include a short poem with it, as in the image below.

Haiga Painting

A little cuckoo across a hydrangea(Haiga) by Yosa Buson

Haiga paintings are simple works with little colour and free flowing brush strokes.  Haiga themes are centered around mundane, every day things, meant to be light-minded and a little ironic or humorous. The painting and the haiku that accompanies it are intended to complement each other — not serve as explanations of each other.

Delve a little deeper into this poetic form and its history by visiting the website; Simply Haiku, or check out poets.org for additional information.

Find some beautiful works of contemporary and traditional works of haiga at the Daily Haiga, an online journal with more than 1500 presentations of this unique artistic genre. You can also submit your own work here.

Haiga Online is another online journal devoted to haiga, featuring a gallery and an archive of past issue.

Here is my submission for this week’s #haikuchallenge or #haikuesday, if you prefer. Unfortunately, I’m not up to trying my hand at Japanese painting — I don’t think I have a light enough touch — ha ha!

At the Beach

Sunshine warms the sand
Gentle lapping ocean waves
Yesterday’s castle falls

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Oh, No! It’s Monday, Again!

27 Jun

Blog Post #78

We all have those days (doesn’t it seem as if they’re usually Mondays?) — you know, those times when everything seems to go wrong right from the moment we get out of the wrong side of the bed!

Those days when we feel incompetent, inferior, slighted, useless and unintelligent.

It seems to me, that once those kinds of feelings get hold of our minds, it takes a lot of effort and work to shake those negative thoughts.

I came across this quote and it really resonated with me. I share it here with you, in the hopes that you will find it motivating and uplifting.

Monarch Butterfly

“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.”

Sunday at the Farmers’ Market

26 Jun

Blog Post #77

Today was a gorgeous day on the Lower Mainland. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky. The air was warm and people were out and about — smiling and happy. Summer IS here!

We headed out early, bound for the White Rock Farmers’ Market to check out the local wares. I love this season of abundance, when fresh produce is readily available and I can support our local farmers.

It seemed like everyone in White Rock was there, milling about buying huge bunches of kale, spinach and lettuce. There were stalls with soaps, jewellery, plants and baked goods, as well as fresh local produce, meats. There were even a couple of vendors selling locally distilled spirits.

A lovely way spend a morning!

Berries and Cherries

Just look at the baskets of red and yellow cherries alongside cartons of strawberries and blueberries. Can’t you taste the fresh sweetness of this local fruit. Mmm… the tastes of summer!

MarketTomatoes

Guess what we’re having for dinner? A salad, of course, built with yummy, fresh, local produce! Tomatoes, kale, arugula (my fave), broccoli — my mouth is watering — bring on the forks!

Carrots

Fresh green onions, baby potatoes and a towering pile of carrots, brimming with healthful goodness. Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

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Sadly, I have caught up with Brynne’s Daily Drawings, and she is taking a bit of a break from them as she focuses on jumpstarting her art practice. If you would like to see more of her work and find out how you can help her and other artists, visit Patreon, a crowd-funding platform for artists of all genres: YouTube content creators, musicians, webcomic artists, filmmakers, illustrators and more. Curious? Check out Brynne’s Patreon page to see her latest work – see if anything catches your fancy!

On Friday July 1, I will be starting the 30-day minimalism game along with a few friends. I intend to record my progress here (and that of my friends, too, if they agree). If you are interested or curious, find out more about this game at the originators website — The Minimalists. Don’t be afraid to join in — let me know in the comment section if you want to play along. I’d love to hear about your success!

 

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These 10 Things Made Me Happy This Week

25 Jun

Blog Post #76

I love this time of year — the weather is warming up bringing the promise of hot summer days and warm summer nights. I thought I would share some of the things that made me happy this week.

Interpretive Dance #02

It was my birthday last month, and Brynne gave me a lovely original illustration that she drew for me. (It’s pictured above). Nothing makes me happier than sitting on the sofa after dinner, with a book, delicious tea steaming in my new favourite mug (a treasured gift from my oldest daughter, Bailey), relaxing and every now and then looking up at the mantle to see that dancing woman directing me to “stay wild, stay weird”.

Binge watching The Mindy Project with my daughter, Brynne on Thursday mornings. We drink coffee, talk, eat, and snuggle on the sofa to watch Mindy Lahiri, a successful doctor with a romantic comedy obsession, try to find her happy ending. Fun, quirky and hilarious!

Salted caramel apple pie — even though I am trying to give up sweets and other junk food, this just might become my new obsession! Pie makes me happy!

French Almond soap from the San Francisco Soap Company. I’ve had this bar of soap in my cupboard for a while now — the box is so pretty that I didn’t want to open it. I took it out this morning and used it for the first time. Ahh… it is heavenly — the lather is rich and creamy with a sweet almond scent. I normally buy soaps that are more natural and without any artificial colours, etc., but packaging of this bar was irresistible and I yielded to the temptation.

French Almond Soap

One of the things I love most is a warm, furry, purring kitty curled up on my lap bringing a feeling of happiness and contentment to my heart. Talk about warm fuzzies!

This week I made one of my favourite dishes — it’s quick, easy and delicious. Lentils with eggs and greens, a recipe I found years ago on Martha Stewart’s website. It’s now saved on one of my Pinterest boards and I love to make it when I’m craving a simple, yet satisfying meal. Curious? Try it out — it will make you happy, too!

I love the show, Suits. When I’m not watching Mindy with Brynne, I’m catching up on this fun, quirky legal comedy/drama. I love all the characters, but, in my opinion, Louis Litt is definitely one of the funniest (and quirkiest). Watch this clip to see what I mean.

 

 

The summer solstice happened at the beginning of this week. I love that the days are longer now. It makes me happy to wake up to daylight and to enjoy the lingering light longer in the evening.

Driving in the car today, I heard one of my favourite Blue Rodeo songs that I hadn’t heard in forever. I couldn’t help belting out 5 Days in May along with the band, as we drove down the street on our way over to visit my mother-in-law. It made me feel so good to be singing out loud. Even Bruce joined in. Good times.

Every day at work, I can enjoy a little bit of nature, whether I’m gazing out the window or taking a walk down by the river. This week, I saw four or five bald eagles soaring in the sky. Their massive wingspans are breathtaking to behold. I can’t help but feel amazement whenever I see these majestic birds gliding on the wind currents or perched in a tall tree overlooking the river. Happiness…

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #76

Brynne's Daily Drawing #76

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Colour Me Foxy, Revisited

24 Jun

Blog Post #75

Remember this?

foxy

I started this colouring page back in May and I have been working on it bit by bit since then. I find it a tranquil way to decompress after a long work day. Colouring, I’ve discovered, is relaxing and soothing — a creative outlet that is completely different than designing an ad or writing a blog post.

I still find it a little intimidating — but I am trying my best to overcome my feelings of inadequacy. I am not sure that I like how this image is progressing, or if I will like it when it is done. I feel that I made a mistake with one of the colours, but it might just be okay when all the other hues are added in. I’ll just keep plugging away at it.

It is soothing, yes, when I get in the groove, I get lost in the feel of the pencil crayon filling the whiteness of the page — and I feel easy, free and quiet. Then, I am able to let go and forget that I am unsure of my colour choices, stop thinking so much of the finished page and just be in the moment.

Here is a look at my progress so far — I still have a long way to go before it’s done!

foxy2

There seems to be more colouring books for adults on bookstore and retail outlets everywhere. What do you think of this colouring trend? Do you colour?

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #75

Brynne's Daily Drawing #75

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Let’s Play a Game

23 Jun

Blog Post #74

Have you ever looked around your house and asked yourself — why in the world do I have all this STUFF? Have you looked in your junk drawer lately and been amazed at all the, well, junk, you have jumbled in there? And why do you even have a drawer for junk??

I’ve been noticing a lot of books, blogs, articles, and videos talking about minimalism and de-cluttering. It’s made me take a good look at all our clutter and I can see the value in getting rid of some of the “collections” that we have amassed over the years.

Buttons

But where to begin?

I stumbled across the website, The Minimalists, run by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus. They write about the happiness they have found by choosing to live a meaningful life with less stuff. They made a documentary, Minimalism. They have a readership of 4 million — so I’m thinking that there is something to this idea of less stuff.

Joshua and Ryan say this about minimalism as a lifestyle:

“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”

Sounds good, right?

Watch their talk at Tedx Whitefish

They invite you to play a game with them — the 30-day Minimalism Game.  It’s a game to help you start to de-clutter and it actually sounds like fun, although I can see that it would become challenging as the month progresses.

Essentially the game is a month long exercise of getting rid of stuff you don’t need, use or want. On the first day you donate, sell, or trash one thing. It can be anything — like that juicer you bought because you wanted to get healthy, but decided that cleaning all the tiny bits of fruit pulp out of that grater wasn’t worth the half an ounce of juice you ended up with!

On day two, you do the same with 2 items, on day three, yep, that’s right — 3 items. You got it!

So, who wants to play with me? Are you in? Let’s start on July 1st. But wait! That means if you play this game for the entire month of July, you will give away, sell or trash 496 things!

Whaaaat?! That is insane. Do you even have 496 things to get rid of? I bet I do!

Come on, it will be fun — and won’t it feel good to experience the freedom of letting go, and discover how much more there is to living than all this extraneous stuff that we collect?

Let’s do it — you and me — let’s see if we can minimize our lives by 496 things! The one that gets rid of the most stuff by July 31, 2016 is the winner! The prize? More time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom.

Let me know if you want to join me in the game, by commenting in the section below. May the best minimalist win!

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #74

Brynne's Daily Drawing #74

 

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Take a Ride to Morning Town

22 Jun

Blog Post #73

I’m sleepy, my bed is calling me — fresh, clean sheets, comfy pillow and a big duvet. My dreams await…

Thinking about going to sleep reminded me of the intricate bedtime rituals we practiced when my daughters were young. I think they were around 4 and 1 at this particular time — my oldest was  in kindergarten. She had brought home a library book, Morning Town Ride. (Thankfully, bringing home library books meant, we had finally seen the last of The Little Engine That Could!)

sleep

As we settled on the sofa with their jammies on and teddies clutched to their chests, I opened up the book and began to read.  As soon as I had said the first sentence out loud, I experienced a vivid memory. I had heard this story before, only it wasn’t from a book — it was a song! The words and the melody rushed back to me so clearly that instead of reading the story to my girls, I was compelled to sing it!

Morning Town Ride became part of our night time ritual from that moment on. Every night, after storytime, I would tuck them into their beds and we would sing the lullaby, subbing in our family’s names for the people in the song. I don’t recall, now, how long this new custom continued — but I will always remember the way the memory returned to me.

Morning Town Ride (lyrics)

Train whistle blowin’, makes a sleepy noise
Underneath their blankets go all the girls and boys
Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

Driver at the engine, Fireman rings the bell
Sandman swings the lantern to say that all is well
Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

Maybe it is raining where our train will ride
All the little trave’lers are warm and snug in-side
Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is day
Somewhere there is Morningtown, many miles a-way
Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

~ Malvina Reynolds (American folk singer and author)

Listen to the song here, as recorded by The Seekers in 1964

Good night, pleasant dreams! I’m bound for Morning Town, many miles away!

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #73

Brynne's Daily Drawing #73

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Down By the River

21 Jun

Blog Post #72

I love to leave my desk at lunch and take a walk along the riverbank. My office is at the end of a street in an industrial business park. Beyond the building is the mighty Fraser River and the path that meanders beside it is a lovely 20 minute stroll that loops around the river, past an errant creek that flows back to the river further up the way.

On my walk, I look forward to see any manner of wildlife — snakes and rabbits, small rodents and many different birds — squawking gulls (of course!), murders of crows, majestic bald eagles (often tormented mercilessly by those crows!), Canada geese, mallard ducks, swallows, robins, chickadees and a gangly Blue heron standing so still in the pooled water of the creek.

The riverside is quiet and serene, a peaceful interlude from my busy day. I amble along, soaking up the calm and enjoying the time I have to be at one with the river, the grass, the brambles and the tiny midges that swarm harmlessly around me.

heron

The heron stands in the quiet creek
waiting still and silent
the fish are unsuspecting

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According to Haiku Invitational — the annual haiku competition presented by Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival — poets, when writing in English, incline to compose haiku in three short lines forgoing a fixed syllable count. Read more here. I have so much to learn about haiku!

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #72

Brynne's Daily Drawing #72

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