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?

May 24, 2016

Our Loyal Winged Friends

It was the middle of April, the early evening hours of a beautiful Sunday, and the end of the first day of the year warm enough to allow us to work outside. I spent some time both inside, helping my mom file our yearly income taxes and outside, helping my dad and my brother do some garden prep work. My brother pruned our apple tree, my dad cleared our raised beds of the dried plants left over from the fall and prepped them for this year's plantings, while I raked some of the leaves we didn't get to before winter came, to uncover a few bits of green that had already come up underneath and to bring a little colour to our yard.

It was the end of the day. My parents were now both inside, getting dinner ready, and my brother and I were still outside, finishing up our first seed sowing session of the season. We were sprinkling lettuce seeds when we heard a loud noise, of flapping wings, behind us. If I'm being honest, to me it sounded like a bird was rapidly falling to the ground, erratically flapping its wings in a struggle to stay above ground. We turned around quickly to thankfully realize how wrong I was (and, apparently, how little I know about birds) and to see that not one, but two birds had safely landed into the little pond of rain water and melted snow that had formed on top of our covered pool. At a closer look, we realized they weren't just any birds either, but rather the same sweet duck couple that has been visiting us every spring for the last few years. We had completely forgotten about their yearly visit, and once again, it was such a beautiful, unexpected weekend surprise to see them literally landing into our backyard for their fourth consecutive short stay.

I grabbed my iPad right away and started snapping pictures and videos, while the neighbours living in the house behind ours, after hearing the loud noise as well, were lifting their small kids up to see the ducks over the fence and pointing to them. The pictures and videos I took weren't the best, I knew, but I didn't care. I just wanted to have a snapshot, no matter how blurry, of this moment in time, of these shy, beautiful creatures who chose us once again as the family whose yard would serve as a well-deserved stopover in their journey.

Our whole family - quietly, so as not to startle them - gathered around to see them for their quick visit, knowing that once we went inside to have dinner, we'd have to wait another year to get a glimpse of them, as they would already be gone by the time we were finished eating.

I can't say that living in this house, in this neighbourhood, in this town, has been my favourite, but seeing these two beautiful pals each year, however briefly, will be one of my favourite memories of this place once we do move somewhere else.

In the meantime, we hope to see you next year too, sweet friends!

I rediscovered these pictures now, just over a month after taking them, and the story of that beautiful day came rushing back into my mind and pouring out of me, so I wanted to jot it down to help me remember it, with all its beautiful little details, even a long time from now. I learned a while ago - in big part, thanks to this little space of mine here on the Internet - that the beauty of life is in all the little things, and I haven't done a great job of stopping to notice and take them in lately, so I think it's time to change that.

Tell me, what little things have made your life beautiful lately?

April 19, 2016

The Things I Find

For the last couple of weeks, I have been at a bit of a loss for what to write in this space. It's ironic since, for the longest time, I had plenty of ideas and not enough time to create them, but now that I've made more space for blogging in my life, all those ideas seem to have dissipated into thin air.

The truth is, ever since I started this blog, I set a goal for myself to have the majority of the content be original. I left some room to share the works of others that inspire me, but they were always meant to be sparse. The wrinkle in this plan is that most of my time is currently spent behind a computer screen, reading, learning, planning and working on a business or other, but not as much creating, experiencing, or taking pictures of things and moments that I could share here.

Thinking of this, I realized that there is a big part of my life that I haven't been sharing, but I would like to. It's a part that not only takes up a considerable amount of time and space in my life, but one that I absolutely love, and that makes me the person I am. I simply wouldn't be me if I didn't spend as much time researching, reading, and learning about all the things I'm passionate about or that interest me at some point or another. It's how I understand and make sense of the world. So, I thought I'd start sharing more of the things - thoughts, ideas, articles, books, and so much more - that I come across through my never-ending need to learn.

It won't be my original content, but it will be my (respectful) take on that of others, which I suppose makes it original in its own way. Not only that, but it feels like every day I come across so many things that change my perspective, make me think and grow, and become a (hopefully) better version of myself, that I thought there could be great value in sharing them here too, for the chance that it will have a similar effect on somebody else.

With that in mind, I'll be back soon, sharing more of my own life and of the things that I find and learn from.
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