July 21, 2015

July Flower Garden

By now, I think it's no secret that I love taking pictures of flowers. I keep taking - and oversharing! - them every year when our front garden is in bloom. There's just something about coming back to a home full of life and colour at the end of a long work day that just gives me a little bit of extra energy, no matter how tired I am. So, I love to record the different stages that our front garden goes through every season and, to be honest, sharing them here only once or twice each year is proof of great restraint on my part!


There's just something about our flower garden that feels special to me. Just like with our vegetable garden, every year we've added new varieties little by little, so that now it's not only filled with many more colours than when we started 4 years ago, but we have a few different kinds in bloom constantly from early spring until - fingers crossed! - well into autumn.

So, it's my pleasure to welcome you into our flower garden, as it looks this week. It's definitely a little overgrown right now, but I think I prefer it this way. If you'd like to see how it's evolved over the years, you can take a look at last year's flower garden, as well as the ones from 2013 (here and all the daisies here!),  from 2012, and from 2011 (here and here).





July 18, 2015

Alterations

A few weeks ago during a long weekend, I finally got a chance to pull out my sewing machine and do a little bit of sewing. It was the first time in over 2 years and it felt so good. I am not experienced in any way at the sewing machine - I think I sewed less than 10 times in my entire life - but I grew up around women who sewed, and have always had a deep desire to learn.


Since I only had about half a day free, I picked two clothing items that needed some very simple alterations. It felt so good to start and finish something in the same day, since I already have a few in-progress projects that have been waiting patiently for me.


The first item was an ill-fitting dress that was both too short and at the same time had a neckline that was hitting quite low - that is, when the straps actually stayed on. With a loose elastic neckline and armholes, even the slightest movement caused them to slip off my shoulders. This was a quick fix, even for me: I shortened the straps by about 2cm, and now I have a longer, tunic-style top (instead of a dress) that I can actually move in and that stays in place.

The second item was an eco-friendly dress that I bought online. As is the risk with online shopping, I couldn't see all the details clearly, and once it came in the post, I found the actual cut of the dress was a bit odd for me: the sides were extended about halfway through the length and ended with pockets that pointed out. This too was a pretty quick fix by cutting out the extra material.


It was so great to take a bit of time to sit and work at my sewing machine again. Even better, I managed to fix some items that I hadn't worn yet, so with just a couple of hours of work, I technically added two pieces to my closet. I hope to be doing more of the same this month while I'm on vacation from work because my mending and finishing pile alone is overflowing, not to mention that list of new projects I'd like to tackle.

I'd love to know, do you sew or would you like to learn? If yes, do you prefer to fix and re-imagine ill-fitting items or to work on new projects from scratch?

June 26, 2015

Our Raised Bed Vegetable Garden: Early Summer 2015

A few weeks ago, we were finally able to bring out our vegetable plants. After a very long and harsh winter (coldest February I can remember!!) and a particularly cool spring, it finally warmed up enough to start planting just a few weeks ago. Needless to say, we got a really late start this year and so, we are still not picking much yet. That's not to say the garden is looking lackluster though - quite the opposite actually, because we have big plans and we've been working hard to make them real.

First, since our soil is quite literally sand and plants don't grow very well directly in it, we are limited only to raised bed planting. This spring, my brother and my dad built a few more beds, so we've practically doubled their number. Second, after a very small and not so tasty yield last year, we've been doing lots of research and realized we needed to feed our soil and plants with some really good, natural plant food.

It's only been a few weeks since the plants have been in the ground (some of them barely two weeks), but we can already see quite a bit of growth happening. A few days ago, I went out with my camera to capture a snapshot of our garden - because, let's be honest, it's looking so different already - and wanted to share it here as well.


Our herb bed is filled with some cilantro (ugh! I'm not a fan and this was definitely not my choice, but at least it's pretty to look at), lovage and tarragon, as well as lots of basil.



For the first time this year, we are trying out potatoes, and so far they seem to be doing really well. We have both yellow potatoes that are growing like weeds, and sweet potatoes that went in the ground a few weeks later but are slowly catching up.


The zucchinis are, not surprisingly, thriving. We already have one ready to pick, with no less than ten more starting to grow. This might be my favourite plant of all: once it gets started producing, it's hard to keep up with it, and you have to check the zucchinis every day or you'll end up with huge ones you didn't even know you had practically overnight.


Another first this year are strawberries. We have one entire large bed mainly for them and while we're likely not going to eat too many of our own strawberries this year, we'll definitely get a taste; we've already spotted a bunch of flowers and 3 or 4 berries ripening.


The mainstay in our vegetable garden every year are tomatoes. We are particularly proud of the ones we've grown this year that are looking really strong and healthy. Lots of little yellow flowers are blooming already, so tomatoes are not very far behind either.


Some of the plants we're most excited about are melons; we have a few different kinds, including watermelons! Right now, they're growing quickly and we've even seen tiny little melons forming already. They definitely won't be as big as the ones found at the market, more likely in the 1 to 2 pound range, but hopefully they'll be much sweeter.


The green beans were the last to go in the ground but, like always, they're growing incredibly quickly. I took this photo only about a couple of days after we planted them and they were already peeking through. Now, almost a week later, they're a few inches tall!


Finally, I can't end without mentioning the green onions and green garlics that have been our champions so far this year. We've been growing them for a few weeks now and have already eaten well over a hundred of them with, obviously, lots more to come.

The last time our vegetable garden looked this good was all the way back in the summer of 2012. Since then we've been struggling, but after lots of research and work during the last few months, we've got our fingers crossed that we'll be eating even more of our own homegrown veggies than three summers ago.

I'd love to know, do you have a vegetable garden? What is your favourite plant you're growing now or that you would like to grow?

June 11, 2015

Birthday Thoughts



Earlier this week, it dawned on me that maybe I should put together a special post for today to celebrate my birthday, just like I've done every year so far***. In the very next moment, I realized that if there's anything I want for my birthday this year, it's to have a completely fuss-free, good-for-the-soul day. That means no preparation and no big productions; no brainstorming ahead of time, no photoshoots, and no careful crafting of words for a few days in advance to have them ready to publish just as the clock strikes....morning.

If I was going to write anything here today, it would have to be a spur-of-the-moment, straight-from-the-heart type of post - some birthdays thoughts, if you will.

So today I turn 26. I've struggled a bit with this number over the last few weeks. At first thought, it sounds so mature (I'm now officially closer to 30 than 20, how is that even possible?!) and I'm not sure I'm quite there yet. But the more I've thought about it (and reminded myself of this truth), the more I've accepted it and actually embraced it. So right now, I'm quite happy and excited to be celebrating this new year. As the birthday girl, this is what I've been wishing for today:

I want a day with no schedules, no deadlines and no rushing.

I want to be surrounded by love, laughter and lightness and maybe greeted by a few heartfelt "Happy Birthday!" wishes.

I want plenty of kitty cuddles and puppy kisses.

Most of all, I want some quiet time all to myself, to rest and recharge for a new year of adventures.

Maybe this doesn't sound like the perfect birthday celebration in a perfect world, but to me, it sounds like the best way to spend today and celebrate entering a new year of life in light of what my life is actually like right now (busy, chaotic and rushed most days).

And now that it's already the evening, I can report that all these things have been happening throughout the day, and I'm a very happy girl, especially thanks to the puppy kisses and the kitty cuddles.

26, I've got big plans for you. Let's get going!


***More birthday thoughts from 2011, 2013 and 2014.

June 2, 2015

5 Years Later: My Thoughts on Blogging




5 years ago, I started this blog. That day feels just like yesterday and also like a million years ago. So often now, I can't even remember life without blogging. I remember life before my own blog, because most of my time was spent reading other blogs; I remember the first blog I ever read, Emily's Cupcakes and Cashmere, and if I were to go back through her archives, I'd probably remember the first posts I ever read too. But if you ask me what I did with my time before I discovered the blogging world, that is where things get a little blurry - I'm pretty sure there was some more TV time and plenty of online time (that is how I discovered blogs after all), but the specifics tend to be a little lost on me. 

To say that discovering this world was life-changing for me wouldn't even begin to describe it. So much of how I spend my time these days has to do with something I've discovered through other blogs or through my own blogging journey.

For my whole life, I struggled with figuring out what I wanted to do once school was over. I loved school because I loved learning and not because it was a step towards building some sort of career. Learning was my passion, so I couldn't even imagine what I would do when that chapter of my life was going to be over. Thinking about the future and careers was always a huge stress point.

In retrospect, I realize that all the stress was because I hadn't found my calling yet. When I discovered blogs, it felt like I arrived home, like I finally found a place where I could fit in, where I felt comfortable. I truly think that is because the blogging world is not at all about fitting in (at least to me) but rather about celebrating differences, and in a beautiful, twisted way, that is what brings us together. At the time, I hadn't found that feeling in any career path I had considered. Sure, there were things I found interesting and that seemed like something I would enjoy doing, but the thought of doing them for the rest of my life terrified me.

That said, when I first found blogging, I didn't think about it as a career path. It was, more than anything else, something that I felt could really let me express myself, my creativity, and be fully and unapologetically me. Sure, having Cupcakes and Cashmere as my very first blogging inspiration, which was already a couple of years into its existence and gaining quite a bit of success, the thought of eventually making blogging into more than just a hobby was there, in the back of my mind, from the very beginning.

This shaped the way I wrote my posts and the way that I still do, as if a great number of people are reading them, even if that was and now, 5 years later, still is so far from the truth. That is because one of the main reasons that pushed me to start my own blog, beyond the opportunity to express myself, was the prospect of creating connections with people from around the world, of creating a community that valued the same things that I did and still do. I couldn't find those people in real life, and blogging helped me to realize that it wasn't because I was just an odd kid unlike anyone else, but rather that those people may be further out into the world. Writing and creating in this space had the potential to help me connect with them.

If I had to sum up all those feelings I had about blogs at the beginning of my own journey with them, it would be that blogging opened up my whole world. And it happened in a time when I needed it most, when a few years after moving to a new country with just my parents and my brother and leaving behind everyone and everything else I knew, I still felt very lonely. When I am engaged in blogging, whether that is writing posts, reading other blogs or doing anything else related to them, was and still is the time when I don't feel at all lonely, when I feel like I belong.

Now, 5 years later, those same feelings hold true. The thought of making this blog into more than just a hobby is still in the back of my mind, I am still working on growing and nurturing a supportive community around those same values that I know so many others share, and I still approach every blank new post page with the same mix of excitement and nervousness that I always did.

That doesn't mean I haven't had my share of struggles with blogging along the way: I've stressed over comments, visitors and monthly pageviews like I'm sure all bloggers have done at some point, and I've even thought of giving it up for a second - before realizing what a crazy thought that would be! Through it all, I managed to find my own take on blogging, and right now I'm feeling very positive about it.

I've freed myself of all the pressures to follow along with the trends, to post every day, to be active on all possible social media channels at all times of the day, and to compare my blog to any other ones out there. I've decided instead to enjoy my time blogging and to make it an experience that adds value and joy to my life rather than tension and stress. And because of that, I can honestly say that, 5 years in, I feel like I'm jut beginning and I don't intend to stop anytime in the foreseeable future. I hope that you enjoy this space as much as I do, and that you'll keep coming back to join me in this journey to living green, healthy and well.

Happy 5 years, The Summer of June!

May 21, 2015

The Little Things

Now that the weather is finally warmer, I'm spending more time outside and realizing how good it feels to go at a slower pace, to enjoy more of the little things in life: the trees turning green, flowers blooming everywhere, playful birds or squirrels, and geese returning home.


This time of year, there is so much happening all around with nature coming alive again that, even in the city, I find that I can't help but "stop and smell the roses" from time to time no matter where I am or what I'm doing. It's such a welcome change from the cold days of winter when all I can think about while I'm outside is how to make my way quicker from one place to another. Sure, there are just as many things piling on my to-do list as ever but, once I've stopped for a second to notice a bunch of bright yellow daffodils, switched my attention from my phone to the chirping birds nearby or caught an intoxicatingly sweet whiff coming from a lilac tree, everything seems a bit more manageable and a little less threatening or overwhelming. It's a good reminder that I need to do this more throughout the year, and not just in the spring.


This past weekend was a long one, and it was long enough to be outside enjoying the beauty of our garden and prepping it for even more beautiful (and delicious!) things to come over the next few months; long enough to rest and recharge with my family, and yes, long enough to fill my camera with snaps of everything that caught my eye; my favourite, by far, was the blooming apple tree from our backyard.

April 20, 2015

Clear Skies Ahead


Literally and figuratively. Although we are anticipating some rain intermittently throughout this week (and the rest of the season, I'm sure), the tendency is towards warmer, sunnier and longer days. Similarly, I've felt that my life is slowly heading in the right way, towards the vision that I've had for many years and that has gotten so much clearer in the last few weeks. Just like the changing of the seasons, I am aware that the process will be slow and gradual and yes, I am expecting some rain (read: setbacks) along the way but now, unlike any other time before, I'm feeling so much more confident about this path.

In more concrete terms, over the last few weeks I have been following the B-School course by Marie Forleo and it's been such an eye opening experience. Beyond clarity, this course has given me so many tools to help me grow my business and to go after my dreams that now, unlike before, not only do I have the vision for the future but also an action plan with steps I need to take to get me there. I now know what changes I need to make to this site for better design, navigation, and functionality; I know how and when to send my upcoming newsletter and what to include in it; I am much more aware of my mission with this blog and all the other aspects of my business; I am committed to sharing so much more over here than I have until now. And this is not all; there is so much more on the pipeline. But most importantly, I know that, slowly - as time permits - I will make it all happen.

In addition to the lessons from B-School, I'm putting into practice what I've learned at IIN as well (if you'd like to chat about health and wellness with me, please make sure to get in touch), I'm building an online yarn shop that I am more and more proud of, and I'm talking regularly with like-minded people. I truly feel like this is the time when many good things are converging and helping me build momentum towards something especially good. Of course, there is so much more still to figure out, but I feel like I am finally getting a good start towards my dreams - sunshine and warm weather are helping too.

I'd love to know, where are you on the road to following your dreams? Please let me know in the comments below.


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