July 31, 2020

June 2020 Flower Journal

These days, my camera is filled with photos of all the flowers blooming around our house. I guess after all those months of cold weather, where the predominant colours are white, grey and brown, I just can’t help myself to “stop and smell the roses”.

Towards the end of spring, I actually questioned whether I really needed to take quite as many pictures of flowers, but then I realized how much joy it brings me, and the beautiful moments I remember when I look back on them. So, I figured I could document it here too, along with a few stories behind the pictures that I’d love to remember.

Our two lilac bushes bloomed in late May. They actually caught me completely by surprise with how quickly they grew from tiny green buds to having large flower clusters that were starting to open - we’re talking just one week! Thankfully, they stayed in bloom for quite a bit, and our purple lilac even changed colours towards the end of its blooming period, when it became mostly white (this is its regular colour). I don’t remember having seen it change colour like this before, so I had to capture it.

I almost missed taking pictures of our peonies this year. Thanks to the heatwave that passed through our region in the middle of the month, they bloomed and almost wilted in just a matter of days. Thankfully, I managed to get outside one evening and capture some pictures, but it was hard to stop!

These irises have been in the backyard since before we moved in to this house, and it’s been so fun to watch them bloom every year. Since they’re close to our vegetable containers, these are the flowers I got to enjoy the most this year. Almost every time I went outside to work on or pick something from the garden, I couldn’t help but stop for a few minutes and enjoy looking at and taking pictures of them. 

These tiny dianthus always catch me by surprise. They’re nestled in between all the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in our front yard flower garden, and it’s such a joy to see them pop up once all the spring bulbs have wilted, but before the peonies and daisies really open up.

This was one of the first lily blooms that opened this year, towards the end of June, and I’m so happy to say that there are still some blooming now, a month later. Also, it’s hard to tell from the pictures but these are reaching up so high, they’re almost taller than me.


Looking back on this little floral journal of last month, I can’t help but notice a theme: with the hot weather and little rain we had throughout the month, so many of these beauties opened up and were gone in a matter of days. It’s such a beautiful reminder to slow down, find a bit of quiet and really enjoy the moment. 

Interestingly enough, as an introvert who needs this sort of break anyway in order to show up at my best (but who also tends not to make room for it enough in my days), this has been a theme showing up in other areas of my life a lot lately too. To notice it in this context only makes it even more meaningful for me. 

Tell me, how is your summer going so far? What are you enjoying most about this season?

June 30, 2020

Reflections on 30

Earlier this month I celebrated my birthday. It was the end of 30 and the beginning of 31 for me.

To be honest, until a few days before, I wasn’t very excited about it. In fact, I was actually dreading it a bit. That’s because my mind was focused on all the goals I haven’t yet reached, all the dreams I haven’t yet accomplished, and all the projects I haven’t even started.

A few days before my birthday, I took some time to look back on my 30th year of life and take stock of not only everything I did accomplish, but also everything I’ve been through in the past year and that I’ve come through on the other side.

So many highlights have to do with the project that occupied most of my time this year - Toby & Mikka’s, the healthy treats (for dogs and cats) brand I’ve been building alongside my brother: from launching new products like our Sample Packs and our line of Barks with Turkey, to doing several collaborations with other, more established brands in the pet industry, to getting so many kind words and positive feedback from our clients - there’s been so much goodness in this part of my life

After years of debating with myself (yes, really!), I finally launched a separate Instagram account focused on health and well-being, and have been enjoying creating content for it. It’s been a little quiet in the last few weeks, but there will be so much to share in the months to come.

I also had some exciting wins in the kitchen: I made chocolate hummus for the first time ever, which turned out absolutely delicious, and, after years of trying different versions, I finally found the perfect pesto recipe too

I finished knitting my second ever pair of socks, enjoyed wearing my first pair all throughout winter and spring, and started two more projects (a winter sweater and a summer tank top)

I discovered a couple of apps that have made a big difference for me: the Notion app, which has become my go-to tool for getting my mind and life organized, and the Overdrive app, which has helped me start rebuilding a regular reading habit.


What’s more, this all happened during a year that included a pandemic and countless heartbreaking news, as well as plenty of challenges, changes and hardships for my own family, which is helping me to appreciate it all even more.

This exercise has helped me feel so much better about my 30th year of life, to get excited about the brand new year ahead of me, and to really enjoy celebrating this moment in time.

I hope that if you too feel stuck, unsatisfied or unsure about the last week, month, or even year of your life, you can take a moment and really look back through that period of time, to find the positives - the accomplishments, the wins, and the steps forward - because they really are there, however big or little they may be, even when things feel particularly hard, scary or uncertain. 

So tell me, what’s been the highlight of the last month for you?

April 11, 2020

Taking Stock // March 2020

March started out like any regular month, with a long list of goals to work towards and tasks to get done but then, just a few days in, a worldwide health crisis erupted, and none of those things seemed to matter anymore. I spent a couple of weeks just trying to make sense of what is unfolding, but throughout it all, one thought kept coming up in my mind - that, even in the darkest times, light is still present. In other words, even when things feel particularly hard and scary, as they have for many of us, there is still plenty of good to be found as well. 

In that spirit, here are a few of the things I want to remember about March 2020: 


making lemonade out of the oversized bucket of metaphorical lemons that this month served us
cooking lots of brussels sprouts; we found them at a great price and stocked up on 10 pounds of them (yes, really!), so I made this recipe several times - that marinade makes all the difference (I make 4-5 times the amount recommended, use most of it on the brussels sprouts, and save the rest for other dishes) and the sprouts come out so juicy - I love eating them both hot & cold

drinking so much water (I really notice when I get out of the habit, whether it's getting a headache, my skin being dry - especially with all the hand washing - or feeling low on energy, so I'm making it a priority every day) and trying out some orange peel and fennel tea too, inspired by Olivia’s post & stories on Instagram (check out her immuniTEA highlight too for more ideas and options of ingredients to add into this tea)

reading The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, and starting to figure out how to work best for my own tendency

enjoying all the sunshine - we’ve gotten quite a bit of it throughout the month, and it just doesn’t get old; I guess if there’s a silver lining to these long winters, it’s how much I notice and truly appreciate the light and sunshine during the rest of the year

waiting eagerly for spring to arrive - and thankfully it did! We had temperatures above zero almost exclusively for the second half of the month, and by the end, most of the snow had melted - which doesn’t seem like much, but it definitely is in our area. Usually, in March, we still have several feet of snow left, so this early start is pretty unexpected but so welcome

loving Notion; I found out about it from Michelle’s video and decided to try it out. I started out using her Life Dashboard template and have been slowly adjusting it to fit my own needs ever since

needing some time to find a new normal, like most of us, I’m sure; once things started getting serious around the middle of the month, I really had a hard time focusing on, well, practically anything, and perhaps as an involuntary “survival” mechanism, disconnected from my goals and dreams - it wasn’t until the end of the month that I started finding my focus again

smelling spring flowers - these beautiful hyacinths and daffodils that my mom and I received for Women’s Day - and getting excited about seeing the ones in our front yard pop out of the ground in just a few weeks

watching our favourite TV shows on the weekend; everyone in our family is on such different schedules now, that there’s just no way we can keep up with most of our favourite shows as they first air on weekday evenings, so it’s become the perfect excuse to sit down together on Saturday afternoons and catch up with them after doing some work around the house

knowing that, among all the hard and scary, there is still plenty of good around too - and leaning in to that as much as I possibly can

feeling like myself again; to say the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions would be an understatement, but after feeling unfocused and disconnected for most of the month, by the end, I started to get a sense of normalcy again

bookmarking all the positive quotes and reminders on Instagram - like this wise quote about gratitude, this helpful approach for dealing with overwhelm and this collection of positive news amongst all the heartbreaking ones

listening to a few episodes from two of my favourite podcasts, The Perfectionism Project (this one helped me start writing and documenting again) and Grow with Soul (this one shared a refreshing perspective on tracking & using numbers in our businesses)


Tell me, besides the health crisis and social distancing, what's standing out in your mind from March?

October 3, 2019

Taking Stock // September 2019

September went by in the blink of an eye, though I can't say I mind it. For much of it, I was dealing with lots of fear, self-doubt, and other heavier feelings like these. That being said, I still managed to enjoy some of what this month had to offer. Here are a few things that stuck in my mind:


cooking with our own vegetables - it just never gets old; we haven't had the best season in the garden, mainly due to the extra long and cold spring weather, but we've still picked plenty of zucchinis and green beans, cucumbers, and some tomatoes too

drinking a mug of mint tea (most often picked from our own garden!) at least once a day, but most likely two or three times a day - I can't get enough of it, and now that the weather is really cooling down, even just holding the warm cup in my hands is so soothing

hoping the snow doesn't come our way too soon, even though it's already snowed in other parts of Canada and the temperatures have been dipping into the single digits several times already

enjoying writing again

loving these apples from our own tree; although we've been living in this house for over 8 years now, and the apple tree has always been here, this is only the second year we get to eat apples from it. They're not the prettiest, as they get attacked by bugs throughout the summer, but they're so tasty

smelling the aroma of holy basil that we grew in the garden this summer; it was the first time we planted holy basil, and when the flowers bloomed, it caught me completely by surprise that they smell like bubblegum!

watching some of the new shows that have started airing this fall - there are a few good ones, but Bob Hearts Abishola and Stumptown seem to be the highlights for me so far

noticing all the flowers that are still blooming; perhaps it's the long winters and grey days that come with them, but seeing the beautiful flowers growing around our house and everywhere I go makes me so happy; knowing that they won't be around much longer this year makes spotting them even sweeter

feeling lighter after a period at the end of summer that felt particularly hard and stressful

giggling at all of Toby & Mikka's antics; they really do make life so much better

listening to Taylor Swift's new music - I can't help it! Lover, Daylight, and London Boy are definite favourites for me from her new album, and this rendition of Holy Ground is so beautiful too


When I started writing these, I had no idea they would be so garden-centric, but this little space of ours really is such an uplifting place, no matter what else is going on outside of it. There's something really special about helping a tiny seed grow into a much bigger plant, that's not only beautiful to look at, but that we also get to eat and enjoy on our plates too. I'm glad that so many of my happy memories from this month revolve around it.

Tell me, how was your September?

January 8, 2019

The Holiday Break

This holiday season has been just what I needed. Since it didn't have the best start, it turned out to be a great lesson in letting go. Instead of worrying about how much we needed to get done in a very short time (we got our tree 2 days before Christmas, and didn't even put any decorations up until just a week before!), I decided to let go of any expectations I had and just enjoy the process of doing things, however many we were going to get to.

I'm always someone who enjoys the process just as much, or sometimes even more, than the results, but I realized that I wasn't having the same attitude about the holidays. Thankfully, all it took was taking a moment to let this awareness sink in and to make the decision to change my attitude (once I realized that it was the only actual problem). After that, I enjoyed every day, every activity and every moment so much more.

There was plenty of cooking, eating and decorating, followed by lots of movie (and documentary!) watching, sleeping, and just generally being quiet and taking a break - a real break from the busyness and from the go-go-go rhythm of our lives. 2018 was a big, intense year that pushed and stretched me in so many ways, and I was really feeling the need for such a break.

Just like the last few years before, it was also a year of so much growth for me. To be able to notice and reflect, at the end of it, about how much I have indeed learned and changed (for the better, I'd say) throughout these past 12 months felt really good. Realizing that these lessons helped me enjoy the holiday season more than I have in a long time felt even better, and I'm so looking forward to continuing to learn in this new year too.

Happy 2019!

December 30, 2018

At the Christmas Tree Farm

This month has been so hectic that I wasn't sure when (or even if!) we would make it to the Christmas tree farm to pick up our tree, which has become our annual tradition. Since we worked the first three weekends of the month, we were only left with one option - the weekend right before Christmas.

Saturday it rained all day (and it wasn't just regular rain, but icy rain!) which narrowed our window even further, to Sunday alone. On Sunday morning, my brother woke up feeling terrible (there's been a cold/flu virus making its way through our whole family for the past month, and it had finally gotten to him too), so I wasn't sure if we would even make it to the farm at all. After some back and forth, we decided to go, though our visit was quite different from those of previous years. While we usually spend a good chunk of time walking among the trees before deciding on our favourite, this time it took us about 5 minutes to pick the tree, and within about 20 minutes we were back in the car, making our way home.

Thankfully, it was a gorgeous day outside and I made it a point to capture some pictures (and videos too, that I shared on Instagram Stories - you can follow me there to see more glimpses of my day-to-day and what I'm working on) while we were there. As I was looking back at them earlier today, all that stood out to me was the beautiful weather and scenery, and I'm so happy that we went anyway, despite all the obstacles that seemed so big at the time.

PS: I shared pictures of our visits all the way back in 2011 and 2012, too. I can't believe it's already been this long that we've been going to this beautiful farm! 

October 8, 2018

Taking Stock // Summer 2018

cooking veggies from our garden - one of the best parts of summer each year, no doubt. To be able to cook and eat something we've grown with our own hands, from a tiny seed to a delicious vegetable - it just never gets old  

drinking smoothies every morning; it's become such a simple and wonderful way to start the day, and I had a lot of fun finding ways to capture snippets of it every morning for a week, and sharing them on Instagram. Now they all live in a story highlight on my profile, titled, "Smoothie ❤️"

reading Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill*, and learning so much. I've heard about this book so many times before, and can't believe it's taken me until this summer to dig in

playing in the pool with Toby. We only got 2 or 3 weekends of pool time, but they were so sweet. We saw Toby get more comfortable in the water and swim at a really relaxed pace - and learned how that relaxed feeling instantly goes away as soon as someone else wants to get in the pool...

enjoying getting organized with Asana

waiting to get approved for an application my brother and I had been working on since February, for a new business we're starting together; the wait was finally over mid-August and since then, we've been going full speed ahead, getting our equipment, setting up our space, building relationships, and taking so many more little and big steps to move this new venture forward. It's something I'm really excited and optimistic about, and looking forward to sharing more details about soon

loving the sunshine and hot weather, of course! We had a really hot summer and, after last year's particularly cool one, I appreciated it even more than I usually do, despite the several heatwaves that kept us mostly inside the air-conditioned house for days

needing more hours in the day, or maybe some more helping hands... or both? Between working on the new business with my brother as well as my health coaching practice, trying to keep up with our vegetable garden (and not doing so well most of the time), and preparing for a big overseas trip my parents went on in July, our plates were full all summer long - and, to be honest, they only seem to be getting fuller this autumn too. Thankfully, they're filling up with things I absolutely love, so there is no complaining here

wearing whatever kept me cooler in the heat of the summer - most of the time, a uniform of shorts and tank tops (ha, I guess some things really do stay the same...while looking through old posts after writing the first draft of this post, I was a bit amused to notice this seems to be my hot weather uniform - it's exactly what I wrote about wearing during a hot spell last September too)

watching quite a bit of tennis. Between the Roland Garros and Wimbledon tournaments at the beginning of summer and the US Open in the beginning of September, as well as a few smaller tournaments in between, I couldn't get enough tennis! Of course, this only made me want to get back on a tennis court, racket in hand, that much more...and I'm still looking for ways to make that happen

feeling that back-to-school feeling and, even though I'm not going back to school this year, feeling almost like I am actually taking part in it somehow because, just like a new school year, working on new projects and buckling down to work feels like a similar kind of new beginning

listening to more podcasts than I have in a long while; some favourites have been The Perfectionism Project, Grow with Soul, and Money Making Maven.

dreaming of overseas trips

celebrating so much: birthdays (mine and my mom's), anniversaries (of moving to Canada, of moving in this particular house), receiving funding and taking steps forward with our businesses, and so much more; summer always feels like a new beginning to me, almost as much as January (but with more colour and daylight hours), and this year, that feeling was amplified thanks to everything that's been happening in my life and work.


This summer has been a busy but full and exciting season and, although I'm not thrilled about the dropping temperatures, I'm feeling more hopeful about the rest of the year - and beyond - than I have in quite a while.

I'd love to know, how has your summer been? What stands out in your mind as a highlight of this (already past!) season?

*Disclaimer: The book link used in this post is an affiliate link.
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