October 14, 2016

Falling for Fall

Fall is definitely here and, while I'm not thrilled about the dropping temperatures, I've actually been really enjoying it. I love that, unlike the past few years when the whole season seemed to go by in a flash, the transition this year has been much slower and smoother. Granted, it was bittersweet to see the leaves on a few trees start turning red in the middle of August, but the colourful show is still going on now, almost two months later, and it feels like every day they're only getting prettier. It's really been an autumn more beautiful than I've ever seen before here in our corner of the world. Needless to say, it's been a treat to go for walks around the neighbourhood lately, and attempt to capture a fraction of the beauty that can be seen with the naked eye.

I'd love to know, what is the weather like where you are? Are you enjoying an equally beautiful fall season?

PS: A few of my favourite sights from past autumn seasons: 2014 and 2015.

October 4, 2016

On The Rise Again

Here we are at the beginning of October already. I could talk about how I can't believe that this year is already three quarters over and how, with each year, time seems to speed up, but everyone seems to be aware of it by now. Besides, I'm feeling quite happy - in spite of the cooling temperatures - to be here now, and I'm putting as much energy as I can into enjoying the season, the day, and the moment.

September for me was a month of shifting seasons that brought along all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle changes in my daily routines and life. In our corner of the world, it felt like almost as soon as the clock stroke midnight on September 1st, the temperatures dipped to bring us crisp nights and mornings instead of the constant heat and stifling humidity (which I didn't enjoy nearly as much as this description makes it seem). The autumn equinox brought along even more cool air, to the point where most days now we are in the single digits until the sun gets high up in the sky. I can't say I'm enjoying waking up to a cool house - in fact, it's throwing off the nice morning routine I was just getting into and was so enjoying. At the same time though, it feels like a new beginning, a fresh start. There is a lighter feeling in my heart, along with a newfound sense of purpose and excitement I thought I had completely lost, and I am definitely enjoying that.

Summer, as much as I adore it and mourn its departure every September, wasn't as kind to me this year. It brought to the surface a lot of struggle, plenty of dark days, and all kinds of intense feelings so, this time around, the hot days, the abundance of colours, and the sweet gifts of the season that I look forward to for nine long months were not thoroughly enjoyed, but merely noticed here and there. I am thankful to be turning a new leaf now, both outside and inside, though I will admit to ever so often still wishfully thinking of what these short, glorious months could have been had I been able to fully savour them.

I'm not naive to think that this all happened unexpectedly, and without my playing any role in it. When I decided just over a year ago to be brave and make the choices that I have been making over the last dozen months, I expected hard days ahead. I knew that all the fears, limiting beliefs, and demons that I held inside would come rushing out, and that this time I could no longer make excuses and brush them aside, but rather that I would have to face them. I thought however, that the work I had already done until then would help me through - of course it did - and I couldn't imagine their depth or extent at the time. In hindsight,  I'm glad I didn't because, my goodness, I might not have been so brave, and that would really have been such a shame, because the truth is, despite the crippling fear, doubt, and aloneness I have felt these last few months, I'm happy with where I am right now.

Over the last few weeks, I've felt myself starting to come out on the other side of this stormy wave, and getting stronger than I have been in a long while. I'm once again excited and inspired by my work, and I'm looking forward to (rather than dreading) bringing it out into the world. I've started to find and use tools that help me keep going, that bring the lows a little higher and end them a little sooner, so that I'm enjoying life and most days again, and am doing much better at taking in the beauty of the little things.

This summer wasn't at all what I expected but, looking back, I think it was exactly what I needed. It taught me so many valuable lessons that I hope will help me rise higher than I ever have before, live my purpose, and go after my dreams.

Here's to a wonderful and kind October!

July 13, 2016

Out In The Garden

After another early morning walk today, we took some time to check on the garden. We've had loads of rain over the last week, so it had been a few days since I went out there, and I couldn't believe what I saw this morning! There has been so much growth happening during these last few days. The beans and peas are climbing up our homemade trellis with a vengeance, the sweet peppers have grown a few tiny fruits and the hot ones are filled with them, the cucumbers and zucchinis are getting established, the strawberries are flowering once again and, what makes me the happiest among all, the tomatoes are growing big and strong and doing really well. They were still quite small when we transplanted them a couple of weeks ago and we worried that we might not be picking any fruit until well into fall. They're already so much bigger though, and we even spotted a few tiny green tomatoes on the vines, so the prognosis is getting better. It also means that there will be lots of extra work to do this coming weekend, tying them up for support, in addition to the original plan of sowing more seeds.

I didn't take any pictures today, but I remembered taking a few at the beginning of the month, after we had planted everything that is there now, so those are the ones I'm sharing here. I'll bring my camera out again this weekend, and I already know there will be such a big difference!

Watching this slow and steady growth in our garden always makes me think of that tendency so many of us have to overestimate what we can do in a short amount of time, but underestimate what we can do over a long period. A red, juicy tomato will not grow in a day, but give it a few months and you'll be amazed by its beautiful colour, wonderful aroma, and incredible taste. In the same way, it might not feel like I'm accomplishing much in a day (it doesn't), but give me a year or two, and you might be surprised by what I can make happen (I am too). I just need to keep doing, keep trying, keep growing - slow and steady. Slow and steady.

July 11, 2016

Mornings In The Neighborhood

This summer, we've made a habit of taking Toby out for a walk early in the morning, since it works best with our schedules. We always go for about an hour, each time taking the same route. Last week, I brought along my new Narrative Clip 2 camera, and clipped it to my waistband for the entire walk. I didn't know what to expect while downloading the pictures, but I was so happy to find a few real gems.

I have to be honest and say that I'm not always thrilled by the idea of going for an early morning walk, so getting to see these pictures has helped me to appreciate this little routine in a new way, and reminded me just how nice it actually is: the sun is high up in the sky already but the temperature, although warm, is comfortable instead of sweltering, and maybe the best part (for me, at least) is that the whole day is still ahead of us.

That particular morning was so beautiful - the bright blue of the sky, the lush green all around - and I am so glad that these pictures managed to capture it, along with the quiet and stillness of the early morning. Seeing them helps me to look at the places we go through in a different light and I couldn't help but reflect on this idea and relate it to life in general: it always helps to look at things in a new, more positive light.

June 15, 2016

Reading, Listening, & Learning: May 2016

A couple of hours after publishing my previous post, I realized that it was the day that my blog turned 6 years old. At first, I couldn't believe that I had forgotten about it, and felt a little sad and guilty for not publishing something special to celebrate it, as I've done almost every year so far.

Truth be told, I'm currently in a place where I'd rather focus on more doing and less talking about doing, so I think the best way to celebrate this blog birthday is to just keep blogging. Besides, I've already talked and written time and time again (in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015) about how much blogging and this little piece of the world wide web means to me, so I can think of no better way to prove that - to myself and everyone who has been reading over the years - than if I just keep going.

So, with that, I'll turn my attention to what I had planned on writing about today. I wanted to share a few of the articles, podcasts, and videos that I have read, listened to, or watched last month - the ones that made me think and influenced me in a positive way. I mentioned a few weeks ago about how I wanted to write more about the things I find in addition to the things I do or think about, because they fuel me, help me keep moving forward, and show me new perspectives on life.

Below are a few of the wonderful pieces of content that I enjoyed in May:

Connie Chapman's Awaken Radio podcast: Although I've been following Connie's blog on and off for a few years now, back in April I listened to one of her podcast episodes that really made me think, so last month I wanted to try out a few more. The one that really stuck with me was episode 31, Manifest with Less Hustle and More Flow with Erin Stutland. I loved Erin's story and what really stuck with me until now is her way of turning negative thoughts into mantras and affirmations to help her transform, turn weaknesses into assets, and go after her goals. It's something that I want to include in my own life as well, whenever I'm having a bad day or find myself in a negative mindset, because I can already imagine how powerful it could be.

If Plan A Fails, Remember That You Have 25 Letters Left by Chris Guillebeau: I just recently bought Chris' now famous book, The $100 Startup*, but a few months ago, I added his blog to my reading list as well, and this post in particular served as a great lesson and reminder. As a new entrepreneur who is trying to get her business(es) off the ground, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything I do has to be perfect and bring results (or else it's not worth doing), and get paralyzed about my next step in the process. It was really comforting to realize that if something doesn't work out one way, there are so many other options that I can try out instead of giving up. Reading about Vanessa's thought process was inspiring, and served both as a wake-up call to the way I approach doing business, and a much-needed reminder that backup plans are important.

Aquafaba: The Magical Vegan Ingredient You've Probably Been Throwing Out by Mind Body Green: Coming across this article was a real case of serendipity for me! The day before, I had soaked and cooked a big pot of chickpeas and, just as I was getting ready for bed that night, I remembered reading about the miraculous properties of the cooking liquid from the chickpeas (and other beans) a few months before, but could not, for the life of me, remember what it was called. The next day, I had completely forgotten about it but, as I was browsing my Twitter feed, my eye stopped on a link to this article. Needless to day, I won't be forgetting the name again anytime soon. I didn't get a chance to use the liquid from this batch before it went bad, but now that I know exactly where to find more information (and recipe ideas!), I'm looking forward to experimenting with the next one.

What I Eat In A Day by Mimi Ikonn: I've been watching and finding inspiration in Mimi's videos for quite a few years now, and this particular video was a great reminder that healthy and delicious food doesn't have to be complicated. I love reading food blogs and getting recipe ideas from them, but the often long ingredient lists sometimes intimidate me and make me think twice about whether they're worth the time and effort that they require. Throughout this video, Mimi did so well to show plenty of healthy meal ideas that are not only tasty but can be put together quickly, on days when you haven't had time to think about, research, or plan what you'll have for your next meal. I'm still thinking about her sweet potato puree almost every day.

I'd love to know, have you found anything new or interesting through these links? Also, what articles/videos/podcasts have you come across recently that influenced you in a positive way?


*Disclaimer: The book link used in this post is an affiliate link through the Amazon Associates program. This means that I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through it. I only use affiliate links for things that I love and have bought myself, but if you are not comfortable with this and would still like to take a look at the book, you can always go directly to the Amazon website and type the name of the book or author in the search box at the top.

June 2, 2016

Spring Memories

Summer is finally here, and I'm absolutely thrilled; it is my favourite season after all. The beginning part of the season always feels even more special, because it is filled with so much excitement and anticipation for the months ahead that make up my favourite part of the year.

There's always so much to look forward to in the summer, but before I do that, I want to take a look back and acknowledge all the sweet moments from the past few months. After reflecting on it for a few days, I've come to realize how special this spring has actually been. It's been the time when I've gradually started once again to come out of my shell, to share more of myself, and to be a part of something, after a long while of feeling a strong need to keep to myself, to do inner work, and to find my own individual rhythm.

As a result of this outward shift, I've also started to notice and enjoy the little things around me again, and looking back on the ones I've documented helped paint a much clearer picture of just how sweet and special this spring has been.

Everybody needs a little afternoon nap sometimes. Seeing the ways in which she sleeps is always entertaining, but on this particular afternoon, I really liked how she laid on the couch with just her head on the pillow, like a little person.

These beautiful flowers in our front yard. Every year I post pictures of them, and it's because every year I can't believe how much joy I get from seeing them pop out of the ground after so many months of mainly white and grey all around.

Our Easter eggs. For the past few years, we've used only natural materials to colour them, which can be quite unpredictable. So, every year I tell myself that I will test out different materials beforehand, and every year I fail to do it. Luckily, we still got some beautiful colours, though not necessarily the ones we were expecting: the grey, although beautiful, was supposed to come out as red by using black cherries (that is what the article said, but thinking about it, it does make sense that black cherries would produce a black-ish colour); the vivid yellow came from turmeric, and the gorgeous blue that I can't get enough of from purple cabbage; the slightly darker yellow was supposed to be green (although in real life, it did have a sort of chartreuse tint to it) by combining the yellow and blue liquids, but it seems like the turmeric was too powerful.

Superfood oatmeal inspired by Drea - not the most photogenic breakfast, but I had it for a week straight and absolutely loved it, so I thought it was worth mentioning. Every morning, I added an assortment of nourishing extras to the basic oatmeal to make it even better: ground walnuts for added protein, rosehip powder for extra vitamin C, spirulina powder for all over super-goodness, cinnamon for its blood sugar balancing properties (and great taste!), and vanilla bean powder for even more flavour.

I'd love to know, what moments or things stood out to you this spring and made the season special?

May 27, 2016

Growing More

This is our sixth year planting a vegetable garden here in our backyard, and each year we've learned more about the process, and grown our garden a little big bigger and wider than the last. Of course, this year is no different. In fact, my brother and my dad spent a big chunk of this past long weekend building three more raised beds for our veggies.

This week, the new beds are getting filled with soil, and by the weekend we should be able to add the plants that we started inside and the seeds that we'll be sowing directly there - if, fingers crossed, the weather cooperates. We already have quite a few eggplant and pepper plants started (we've never had much success with any of them in the past, so this is new and exciting territory!) and, if it's even possible, even more tomato plants than last year, so the additional space will be very welcome.

Another new thing that we're doing with our garden this year, besides adding more raised beds, is trying out both spring crops (seeds and starts went in the ground mid-April) and fall crops (that we'll be planting mid- to late summer). These are all those veggies that don't do very well in the high heat of summer, things like lettuce and all sorts of greens, spinach, kale, beets, radishes, and cabbage.

Speaking of spring gardens, last night we picked our first harvest of spring crops from the garden: a small batch of Ovation Greens that we mixed into a salad with some sliced red onion, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil - it was delicious!

I'd love to know, are you growing any of your own food this year?
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