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Friday Five – Mindfulness, Frappuccinos, Sunflowers, Baby Groot and Nugget Boy!

Friday Five – Mindfulness, Frappuccinos, Sunflowers, Baby Groot and Nugget Boy!

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week!  This week I’ve got some bliss from around town, around the web, and as far away as Hawaii!

1. The Nourished Life

It’s inspiring when you can connect with like-minded, soulful people, who live life to the fullest, finding that balance between being a parent, and working or running their own business.  A perfect example is Angela Higgins, founder of The Nourished Life.  I’ve been a client of design, nutrition and reiki, but now I am blessed to call her friend!

Angela recently launched her brand new gorgeous website, The Nourished Life.  Combining her background in interior design, Feng Shui, nutrition, mindfulness and reiki, Angela offers complete coaching to help you live a healthier life…mind, body and home!  One of her current offerings is Mindful Kids, available now in Waterloo, with plans to expand in Kitchener and Cambridge.  You could even host one in your own home!

Contact Angela for all the details!  Check out the new website, her blog, where she shares tips, recipes, and more, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

2. Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino

No, it isn’t a rumour, or a figment of your imagination.  It’s real. Fleetingly.

According to Starbucks, “The Unicorn Frappuccino® Blended Beverage is a colour-changing, flavour-changing, sweet and pleasantly sour spectacle, here for just five days: now through April 23.”

In the name of the blog, I had to try it.  It looked like so much fun (albeit a sugar-induced coma just looking at it)!  Timing was good, as I was planning to spend some reading time at my local Chapters/Starbucks while the boy was at cadets.  I was forewarned in the afternoon that it might not be as sparkly and sugar laden as advertised.  My mama messaged me a pic of hers, with #trenchmouth.  Inside joke in my family, but point taken.

Arriving at Gateway Starbucks, there was a pretty decent line-up of people, and upon closer inspection, a line-up of cups waiting for unicorn fraps to be made.  A good sign??  When my order was ready, I held up my cup and asked the barista how things had been and how many of these she had already made today.  Her answer, “I’ve only been here an hour, but it’s been A LOT!”  I get the distinct impression the smile might have been a little forced.

Here is my tall unicorn frappuccino, lactose free, with whip (because…whipped cream)

I thought it was a pretty good approximation to the media photos, especially considering how many they were churning out!

So, verdict?  A bit of disappointment.  I expected more flavour from the purple sweet cream base, more along the line of the cotton candy frap from a few years back.  A little further in, and the blue drizzle started to mix in, the drink got overwhelmingly sour.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who thought this, as evidence from the puckered expressions all around me.

You have to applaud Starbucks marketing on this one though.  For something that likely isn’t going to be added to the menu, nor likely to be ordered a second time, advertising it for a limited time (plus the deluge on social media) made for some pretty long lines and myriad of orders on an otherwise unremarkable Thursday in spring.  Kudos to you Starbucks!

It was a fun and colourful adventure.  And come on, unicorns, so there’s that.

3. Sunflowers on Maui

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a slight obsession with all things Hawaii.  And because I can’t visit as often as I would like, I tend to feed my obsession with social media and Hawaii based blogs.  Lately my Facebook and Instagram feeds have been popping up with sunflowers on Maui, like this one from A Maui Blog.


Now, I don’t recall seeing huge fields of sunflowers on my last visit, so some further investigation was required.

Turns out, this field in Maui’s central valley is the work of Pacific Biodiesel.  The 115-acre area is the largest biofuel crop project on Hawaii, on land formerly used for sugar cane production, an industry that shut down production on Maui last year. While there has been big job losses, the huge smoke clouds from cane burning won’t be missed!  It’s nice to see something bright and cheery in it’s place!

If you want more of the science and technology behind it, you can find all the details here. Lots of people are sharing their own pics of the sunflower fields.  A quick search of the web using #mauisunflowers, and you’ll find some amazing shots! What a great way to bring a sunny pocket of bliss to the world!

I miss the sugar cane and pineapples and all, but these sunflowers are way more photogenic. #mauisunflowers

A post shared by Todd Kawasaki (@kawasakiphotography) on


4. Groot Dance Bomb

Guardians of the Galaxy is one movie the boys and I watch over and over and over again.  The soundtrack is on all our devices, and there is spontaneous dance parties in the living room on occasion.  Let me tell you, we are stoked for GG Volume 2!!

So when I happened upon this…

…I am already planning our own video!!  Baby Groot and all!!!

Marvel and Disney are teaming up to do some goodwill, or Groot-will.  For every like or share of this Groot Dance Bomb video between now and May 5, they will make a donation to plant a tree!  Up to 250,000 trees! Better yet, make your own video and post it with the hash tag #GrootDancebomb, and they will donate too!

Watch my Facebook page for our #GrootDancebomb video, coming soon!  And don’t forget to check out Guardians of the Galaxy 2 when it hits theatres on May 5!

5. Nugget Boy

I’ve been following this crazy story for a while now, just because it’s so much fun!  16-yr old Carter Wilkerson from Reno, Nevada decided to ask Wendy’s on twitter, how many retweets would it take for him to get a year’s supply of chicken nuggets.  Wendy’s reply?  18 million.  Apparently, challenge accepted, and Carter is already up to 3.2 million retweets!


But not so fast, Carter! Ellen DeGeneres is the current record holder for retweets, with the famous Oscar selfie pic.  And she ain’t having some nugget boy take her record away!

But leave it to Ellen to find a solution…help a kid out on his nugget quest, while maintaining her record, and bringing smiles to ever more of the world!

So that’s it for me this week!  What was blissful in your week?  I would love to know! Leave a comment below!

Friday Five – Happy Easter!

Friday Five – Happy Easter!

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week!  It’s the Easter long weekend here for us, and I’m lucky to be off the whole weekend with the boys.  We’re hosting my parents, sisters and all the cousins Sunday morning for Easter brunch and a mini Easter egg hunt in the backyard.

1. Easter Memories

Easter egg “hunt” 2010

Every Easter brings memories of Easter 2010.  The spring weather that year was warm enough for us to have an outdoor egg “hunt”. There’s not a whole lot of landscaping in our little yard, just two skinny trees, so no real hiding places.  Easter morning dawned, and after the excitement of baskets from the bunny we proceeded outside to hunt for eggs.  Right away my little boy exclaimed “I found a egg!”, holding up his prize for everyone to see. A few seconds later “Look, I found ‘nother one!” and “Look, ‘nother one!”.  Louder and faster each time!  Not hard, when the eggs were just scattered across the lawn.  All of the adults were watching from the deck, doubled over, dying with laughter at the cuteness overload.

I can’t wait to do it again with my nieces and nephew this weekend.  Hopefully we’ll get more of the same exclamations and squeals of laughter!  I’m certain there will be lots of chocolate and jelly beans consumed, and I am fully prepared for the sugar coma to come!

2. City Cafe Bakery

City Cafe Bakery

It’s been too long since I’ve visited City Cafe Bakery, so my mama and I decided a trip was in order!  We visited the original cafe at 175 West Av in Kitchener.  There are two other locations at 50 Ottawa St S and 499 Lancaster St W. Unfortunately, the location in Cambridge had to close it’s doors recently, and I’m sure they will be missed.

City Cafe has a very loyal following of regular customers who flock to their locations, some daily, for the fresh baked bread and croissants, or bagels and pizza baked in an open wood-fired oven.

The heart of the operation, the wood-fired oven
Fresh baked bread, bagels, croissants and more in the open cafe

You won’t find a cash register, nor debit or credit card machine.  Cash only, dropped into an old bus fare box, on the honour system, makes take-out quick and easy.  (If you need change, the staff will be glad to help)  Just grab a bagel, slice and pop in the toaster yourself, pour your own coffee, pay for your purchases and you’re on your way!

Cash only honour system

We chose to dine in, slow down and enjoy the coffee (supplied by my favourite Baden Coffee Company). Perfect with buttery, flaky croissants, slathered in cream cheese and raspberry jam, or nutella.  The dining area is small, but cozy, with vintage, quirky decor, and the signature black and white checkered tables.  In warmer weather, there is also bistro style seating out front, and the open windows help make the space feel much more open and airy.  You’ll sometimes find people reading, writing, or just catching up with friends.  The mood is always light, fun and comfortable, the perfect neighbourhood hang-out.

Yum!
Checkered tables and chairs, and a vintage feel, welcome you to slow down and enjoy!

If you’re local and you haven’t checked out City Cafe Bakery, or if it’s been a while, be sure to stop by soon!  Croissants would be a great addition for Sunday brunch, just sayin’.

3.  Malala Yousafzai

This week, Malala Yousafzai, the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, became an honorary citizen of Canada. I watched the live broadcast, and have to admit, through joyous tears and laughter, I was very proud to be a Canadian in that moment.

In her address to parliament, she spoke of the heroism of Canadians, our commitment to helping refugees, while our neighbours close their borders.  She challenged Canadians to do more to advance the global rights of women and girls, specifically the right to an education.  This is something I strongly believe in, and it was a good reminder.  It was also a good teaching moment for my boys.

While her speech was incredibly moving and inspiring, she also drew moments of laughter from the house.  Giving thanks for her honorary Canadian citizenship, she noted that she still requires a visa to visit, but that would be a conversation for another time.  She also made mention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his affinity for practicing yoga and tattoos, and that her friends were more interested in his looks, than in her receiving the citizenship!

To learn more about Malala, her work and her vision, and to support this worthwhile endeavour, visit her site here.

4. It’s a Necessity

photo credit Necesse Photography

For over a year, I have been following the blog It’s a Necessity.  Here you’ll meet the Stolz family, Genevieve, Eben and their adorable girls, Arias and Ellia.   They document their adventures living on their sailboat, the Necesse, for the past seven years, cruising around the Caribbean, side trips to exotic destinations, or visiting family in Canada. All this while raising their two beautiful girls and making a living. It’s hard not to live vicariously through their blog posts.  With a knack for writing engaging articles full of travel tips, product reviews, and gorgeous photographs, Genevieve documents their life while inviting readers to dive in and live their own adventures!

While I don’t know them personally, I found myself crying along with them in the latest post, Leaving Our Current Life Behind.  They have sold the beloved Necesse, packed up and boarded a plane, leaving St. Thomas behind.  It wasn’t exactly sudden…a post a year ago listed different ideas they were considering and asked reader’s advice about what they should do next. Yet the overwhelming emotion of actually saying goodbye to Necesse, and leaving the island behind, it seemed to come too soon.

But new adventures are already shaping up for this family!  Currently riding the waves kiteboarding in El Cuyo, Mexico, they are off to explore more of this world.  Who knows where they will end up next, but I will be eagerly following along from my laptop here at home!  You can find them on Facebook, and Instagram in between blog posts.

 5. The Fate of the Furious

Yes, we just returned from seeing The Fate of the Furious, the eighth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise.  I could use the excuse that I am the mom of true “boy’s boys”, the kind that love action/adventure, fast cars and blowing stuff up.  But truth be told, I am a big fan of the movies myself.  And really, who can argue watching Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jason Statham all in the same movie??  These are 3 of my top 10 favourite hotties!!

From the previews, we all knew it would have to be something big to make Dom turn on his family to work for bad guy Cypher (played by Charlize Theron, who is a serious bad-ass in this role btw!!!), and it did not disappoint.  The best part in my opinion though? Dame Helen Mirren. ‘Nuff said.

Reviews from my boys?  A solid 8/10.  Not the best of the franchise, but still thoroughly enjoyable.  It’s not hard to please these two though.  Fast cars, a few laughs, explosions and popcorn, and you can count them in every time.

Well, that’s it for this week’s edition of the Friday Five!  From our house to yours, we wish you a Happy Easter!  Hope you are enjoying the long weekend with friends and family!

What was blissful in your world this week?  Leave a comment below!

 

 

Friday Five – All the senses blissed out this week

Friday Five – All the senses blissed out this week

Welcome to another edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week!  This one will be quick, as it’s a PD Day today, so my kids are home from school, and we are planning to spend some good quality time together (well, they are planning to play video games…I’m about to be the mean mom and make them turn it off)!

All the senses are blissed out this week…audio book and music for the ears, photo challenge for the eyes, leather smell and feel, and endless coffee for the tastebuds!

1. Danielle Laporte’s White Hot Truth

White Hot Truth – Danielle Laporte

I’ve been following Danielle Laporte for a little while.  I am a fan of her Truth Bombs, that she’s Canadian, and she tells it like it is, no apologies.  Her new book is White Hot Truth – Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path – from one seeker to another.  While the book is not officially released until May 16, 2017, if you pre-order it from select retailers, you can download a copy of the audiobook right away!  You can also join the White Hot Truth Book Club on Facebook, no book required.

I have been listening in the bath, in the car running errands, in the kitchen while I’m cooking.  And I’m finding I want to go back and listen again!  Loads of talking points, thinking points, points that make me laugh or shout out loud “So true!” or “No kidding!”  While I can’t wait to get the book in my hot little hands, listening to Danielle read it out loud, as if directly to me, is some pretty powerful stuff.  Thoroughly enjoying it, and I highly recommend getting your own copy (because I’m not lending mine out for a while!)

2. Rising Appalachia

Rising Appalachia

Music is something I am finding more and more that brings me bliss.  It can reflect my mood, or change my mood, depending on what I’m listening too.  Spotify is my favourite player…for $10/month, I can search, save, listen and create my own playlists.  “My Zen” for writing in my journal or meditating, “Mellow” for when I’m creating art or want to relax, or “Good Day” for the songs that lift my spirit and make me dance around the house (usually in the bathroom, singing and grooving along).

A group I came across this week, after listening to an interview with Alexis Cohen, for her Art Medicine Masterclass, is Rising Appalachia.  Sisters Leah and Chloe, along with their band, have created music that is soulful, folk, acoustic, rhythmic, with a touch of magic and mystic.  I am instantly in love, and have already save their music to my Spotify playlists.

3. April Love 2017 challenge

April Love 2017 – Susannah Conway

It’s not too late to join in on Susannah Conway‘s photo challenge April Love 2017.  It’s “an invitation to explore self-love, self-care and self-compassion in a community setting”.  There is a Facebook Group you can join, post on Instagram (#AprilLove2017), or post on your own blog (comment with a link below so I can follow along).  You can participate as much or as little as you like.  So far I’ve only missed one day (Day 4. Noon, because night shift=sleep), but I am really enjoying not only capturing and posting my own pictures (check them all out on my Instagram), but seeing everyone else’s interpretations of the same prompts!

4. Chic Sparrow

Last year, I fell down the traveller’s notebook/bullet journalling rabbit hole.  If you’re saying “what?” then I invite you to google, but be forewarned.  There may or may not have been hours (and hours…and hours) lost on multiple Pinterest boards, YouTube videos, and websites visited.  I eventually took the plunge and ordered my very first traveller’s notebook from Chic Sparrow.

And then I ordered another one.  And another.  And another.  There is a support group, and luckily a buy/sell community too.  So I have sold a few of my acquisitions in my search for the perfect, functional, beautiful notebooks that fit me and my needs.  I am now down to just these three, my journal (Wide Creme Black Beauty), my on-the-go notebook (Personal Creme Brulee), and my research/courses/blog planner (Wide Tri-Fold from an older era).

My Chic Sparrow traveller’s notebooks

Although I haven’t compared a lot of traveller’s notebook makers, I absolutely love Chic Sparrow.  Their customer service is second to none, quality and attention to detail is superb.  But the smell and the feel of the leather…divine!  People think I’m weird because I keep sniffing and squeezing my notebooks.  Lol!

…And I might have just ordered another.

5. Waterloo Potters Workshop Spring Sale

For my local fans, the Waterloo Potters’ Workshop semi-annual sale is coming up soon, April 21-23, at the Waterloo Memorial Rec Complex (it goes back and forth between here and Rim Park for the fall sale, so be sure not to mix them up…as I have done in the past).  Over 40 potters display their creations for sale, and there is so many beautiful pieces, it is hard to know where to look first, or to pare down your purchases!  Die-hard fans know to get there early for the best selection.

My favourite mugs were bought at the sale a few years ago, which I use daily for coffee, tea, and this week golden milk!

My favourite pottery mug!

That’s it for me this week!  What’s blissful in your world?  Leave me a comment below!

 

 

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, April 1, 7am-4pm

The boys and I were up bright (relative term) and early at 6am this morning.  It’s festival day, and I strive to be there early to beat the crowds.  The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, the world’s largest single day maple syrup festival (recognized by the Guinness Book of Records), attracts big crowds…over 60,000 people some years!  If you don’t want to be lining up for hours, you learn to get there at 7am.

I first experienced the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival as a young child.  My mom booked us on the train from Waterloo, another first, and even got me my own conductors hat.  While I only have vague memories of the event, I had that hat for years.  My kids have been going since they were wee ones too.  We don’t get out every year (shift work can put a cramp in my style), but when it lands on my day off, you can count on us being there!  My oldest insists we go, regardless of the weather.

Heading off to the festival

The festival is in it’s 52 year this year, and they really have everything down to a fine science.  Parking is on the outskirts of town, and everybody boards a tractor drawn hay wagon for the short (but brisk!) ride into the heart of  downtown.  After picking up your “map to the stars“, we make a beeline for the Pancake tents.  Organized lines direct you to place your order and pay (cash, or debit/credit is accepted), then carry on to the heart of the operation…two large tents, manned by cheery volunteers. Hot, fresh pancakes (from a secret festival recipe) are cooked on the griddle in front of your eyes, then drowned in local maple syrup. This year’s honours for official maple syrup provider is Maple Tap Farm, and we brought home a hefty 4L jug.

Watching our pancakes cook before our wide eyes!

After devouring the delicious pancakes and sausage, it’s off to Old MacDonald’s Farm, a makeshift barn/petting zoo, where the boys have always enjoyed meeting animals we rarely get to see, living our city life.  Baby chicks, horses, calf, sheep, lambs, donkeys, bunnies, and even some curious alpacas draw crowds of little ones.  I can tell the boys are outgrowing the novelty, mostly humouring me and my nostalgia, but my youngest still gave me a cursory photo op running through the hay maze (even though is is head and shoulders above the top of the bails).  It’s a little sad for me, seeing how fast they grow, how they are outgrowing this stage of childhood.

Food, Drink, Music and Entertainment

We then meandered down Arthur St, taking in all the local vendors, selling their wares.  One booth that peaked my interest this year was TreeWell, sampling their Saperatif sparkling maple sap.  It reminded me of a non-alcoholic sparkling ice wine.  Very unique and tasty!  More artists, craft makers, and even some great music, interspersed with all manor of food available lined the street.  Sausages, turkey legs, funnel cakes, tornado potatoes, baked goods galore!  Maple is the theme, so you can count on an array of available maple infused treats!

Entertainment by The Vaudevillian

What the heck is Maple Taffy?

One thing is for sure, you never leave hungry!  This year we indulged in pretzels, poutine, and maple sugar candy.  We then stopped to watch my favourite being made…maple taffy! Maple syrup is boiled down over the fire, then when just right, it’s poured into little puddles on snow, and rolled up on a popsicle stick. Volunteers actually had to collect the snow just outside of town over a month ago, and store it in the freezer, to ensure they had snow to make the taffy this year (it’s been relatively mild, and our last big snow melted weeks ago).

Patiently waiting for the syrup to boil down and thicken to just the right consistency
Pouring the thick syrup into puddles on top of the snow
Roll up the gooey delicious taffy onto a stick and enjoy!

Laden down with our 4L jug of syrup, we boarded our wagon back to the car.  Another successful, enjoyable year for us, and we were back home warming up before 10am!  If you’re local, you still have time to catch the festivities, on today, April 1 until 4pm.  And no, this is no April Fool’s joke…enjoy!

Friday Five – 5 things that are bringing me bliss!

Friday Five – 5 things that are bringing me bliss!

Welcome to my first Friday Five – 5 things that are bringing me bliss this week! I hope to do this type of post every week, and include all different manor of things…food, books, podcasts, people, places, things, etc.  All things that make me happy, and that you might enjoy as well!

1. Effy Wild

Effy Wild

This week’s number one is in honour of the person I stole the Friday Five idea from, Effy Wild.  She is a mixed media journal artist and teacher, who I am blessed to know not just online, but in the real world as well. I have personally taken her Book of Days online classes for 3 years now (I am a huge fan of the weekly “Bed Head Diaries”), and I consider it a privilege to be part of her “Wildlings” tribe.  She is famous for over-delivering in everything she does, creates such an inspiring community of like-minded individuals, and shares her honest journey in this thing called “life”.  It’s no wonder her fans number in the thousands!

She also happens to be running a special this weekend (until Tues, April 4, 2017) on her Book of Days 2017 class.

Book of Days 2017

“Book Of Days 2017 is a year long ‘art in community’ experience taught in three sessions that run from January 1 – April 1, May 1 – August 1, and September 1 – December 1 throughout 2017. Each week, you will find new content designed to inspire your own art journaling practice, as well as instruct you in mixed media art journaling techniques.”

Learn more about Book of Days (and her other offerings), and access the special sale price by clicking on the link here.

(Please note, these are not affiliate links.  I am just a true fan of the courses and the artist, and highly recommend them!)

2. Baden Coffee Company

Enjoying a cup at Baden Coffee Company

This local cafe in Baden, Ontario is where I wrote most of this week’s blog post.  It’s a short drive down the highway from my house, and is the perfect escape, especially on cold, blustery days like this one (that whole March coming “in like a lamb, out like a lion” thing is happening here).  I love that it’s cozy, with comfy tub chairs to lounge in, or table and chairs if you prefer. There is a patio out back when the weather is nice. It has a definite “local vibe” with a steady stream of regulars popping in to grab their caffeine fix (there is even a self-serve, self-pay section at the back).  I’ve also witnessed business meetings, mommy groups, lunch dates, and book club get-togethers being held here.

Being a specialty roastery and wholesale coffee supplier, there is always great artisan roasted coffee, but they also have rotating soup, sandwich, and other lunch specials.  And best of all, an assortment of freshly baked goodies (the giant cookies are my favourite)!  You might even catch Kaffee, the resident pooch, casually greeting customers.

Order from a selection of specialty drinks, and don’t forget a cookie!
Self-serve artisan coffees and teas.
Comfy chairs…we may or may not have been here for a few hours.
Today’s special…Peppercorn Grilled Cheese. So yummy!

3.  Harry Potter

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I know…I’m late to the party. It’s not that I haven’t been in the loop.  I have seen all the movies several times (spoiled myself and upgraded to blu-ray last Christmas) and I’ve read the first few books out loud with my boys (more than once over the years). I’ve even visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, and took the boys to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry event at University of Guelph last year.  There may or may not be a wand or two in this house.

But I’ve never actually sat down and read all seven books. I think the furthest I read was the first three books, but I could never seem to get past that point.  One of my resolutions this year was to finally do it.  And I’m happy to report, I did just that!  It is true what they say, the books are always better than the movies.  So much more detail, back story, and while the movies made me emotional, the books made me cry buckets of tears!  It was almost bittersweet, finishing the last book.  I didn’t want my affair to end!

4. Essential Oils

Yes, they are all the rage now it seems.  There are plenty of different companies offering a variety of oils, blends and accessories.  I actually took an aromatherapy certification course over a decade ago, and I do believe essential oils have beneficial qualities to them.

With my recent bouts of illness, and to help relieve stress, I have purchased a few different blends from this company. I picked them up at my local Goodness Me location.  My favourite is “Clear the Air”, a blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, hyssop and rosemary.  I use it in a diffuser in my bedroom every night, and find it helps me sleep (and not snore so much…)

5. National Crayon Day

Today is National Crayon Day!  It also happens to be the day Crayola is officially retiring the colour Dandelion, or Dan-D as he likes to be called.  I have to say, I was kind of surprised by this pick, and it seems I’m not the only one.  However, he’s not disappearing right away. Dandelion is going on a retirement tour, that you’ll be able to follow on Instagram (#CelebrateDandelion).  And check out Crayola’s website, where you can stock up on a limited edition 64-pk of the solitary colour.

There may be some colouring after school today with the boys, and bedtime reading from some of our favourite books.  I feel another sequel opportunity in the making!

Well, that’s it for this week.  I hope you enjoyed the first edition of Friday Five!  Let me know what you think.  What’s rocking your world this week?

I Have An Excuse. Wait…what’s my excuse?

I Have An Excuse. Wait…what’s my excuse?

The view from the window…a cold, grey, drizzly day.  No blue sky today.  

It’s been a while, but I have an excuse

It’s been a very long time since my last post, but I have an excuse.  I have a number of excuses.  Let’s rewind a bit first, before I get into that.

2017 started out as such a breath of fresh air, compared to the heaviness that seemed to define 2016, for me, for so many others, like the whole world.  New Year’s dawned and I felt such an immediate spark of creativity, of boundless energy, like “let’s do this”! I made lists, and plans, and resolutions!  Even signed up for a course on blogging (Blogging from the Heart by the lovely Susannah Conway…I will write a review soon, but suffice to say it was/is amazing!  I’m still working my way through.)

And then I was quickly sidelined by yet another virus that left me just enough energy to go between the bed and the couch.  Since November, I had been sick on and off with a nasty cold that kept jumping from my head to my chest and back again.  I’d miss a few days of work, only to return and then miss another few days.  I’d get better for a week, then right back to being off sick again.  Even a last-minute chance at a vacation to the Grand Canyon, and I spent half of it sick.  (That’s a HUGE pocket of bliss right there, and I promise pictures and a post soon!)

All told, I used a year’s worth of sick days between November and February!  (And trust me, I know I am privileged to have paid sick days, and I don’t take that for granted).  I finally went to my doctor and begged her to fix me.  Her answer was that the stress had finally caught up to me and my body had had enough.  Rest was her prescription.  And I have a new respect for vitamins, I’ll just say that!

Whoa there girl…slow down

In hindsight, I believe it was the universe’s way of acknowledging all my grand plans and visions for the new year, but forcing me to slow down.  If you haven’t noticed, I do have a tendency to rush headlong into a new project, only to abandon it shortly thereafter (have you met my blog?).  So maybe this time I was meant to approach my dreams from a more tortoise like perspective…with the focus on going at a slow and steady pace, rather than the rabbit who rushes towards the finish line.

And admittedly, I have fallen into the bad habit of coming up with excuses why I can’t get back to blogging.  There’s the big excuses… I’m a single mom to two boys.  I’m in a nasty custody battle with my ex-husband.  I work full-time shift work in a high stress job.  My work schedule and custody schedule mean my weeks are eight days, not seven days, like the rest of the world, so scheduling my stuff and the kids’ stuff is challenging.  My parents live with us now (there’s a whole other blog post/series/novel for another day).  And there’s the little excuses…  Groceries to buy, laundry to wash, lunches to make, kids to drive and drop. I have to declutter the house, clean the house, set fire to the house and start fresh so I don’t have to clean or declutter it.  Any number of excuses.

What do Danielle Laporte and I have in common?

Last week, I was taking some time for myself one morning after the oldest boy got off to school (aka procrastinating on the house).  Going through my emails, I clicked on the new one from Danielle Laporte, entitled “Lies. Truth. Porn. Friendship. Sickness. Motherhood. And softness. One of the truest conversations I’ve had.”  There’s a “suck you right in” title if I’ve ever heard one! It’s a recorded conversation she had with Jono Fischer, founder of the Wake Up Project.  It’s a long listen, almost two hours, but early in, I knew I had to listen in full.  And listen more than once.

She spoke of being a mom, of so many other moms out there in the world, who are working while raising kids, who are literally fried, and yet are still putting stuff out there in the world, great stuff, inspiring stuff.  She also spoke of the guilt we all experience as moms (she does a great impersonation of Arianna Huffington, “When they take the baby out, they put the guilt in”), that sometimes overwhelming guilt, that we don’t spend enough time with our kids, that we don’t always put them first, that we are completely screwing them up.  There’s so much more in the conversation…definitely worth the listen!

The big takeaway for me?  I knew Danielle Laporte was a single mom, raising a teenage boy.  But here she talked about being a mom and a business woman, and making her schedule work, when she shares custody of her son with her ex on an 8 day rotation…her son is with her for 5 days, and then goes to his dad’s house for 3 days.  The same schedule I live with.  Cue jaw drop.

What were my excuses again?

Sure, I am nowhere in the same league as Danielle Laporte, but hey, we share the same custody schedule (and we’re both Canadian…but I digress).  She works with it, around it, and certainly doesn’t use it as an excuse why she can’t do what she does.  And lots of other fierce moms out there are working with their own schedules, challenges, life. They are sometimes fried. And yet they get up every day, take care of the kids, and still do some amazingly beautiful, creative, inspiring things!

I have been full of excuses why I can’t write, can’t get to this project or that goal, why I can’t hit “post” on this blog.   But there will be days when the sun isn’t shining, when the boys don’t go to their dad’s this week, and yeah, we all know about the housecleaning, and exhaustion is just normal.  Done is better than perfect.  If I keep waiting until life isn’t busy or chaotic or stressful, I’ll never do the things I love but feel I don’t have time for.  I have to stop the excuses, because they aren’t really excuses.  They are choices.  So what’s my next choice?

Cue “post”.

 

P.S. What do you want to do, that you keep making excuses not to?  Comment below, or send me an message!

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Slow start to blogging…but there’s always soup

Slow start to blogging…but there’s always soup

Remember the tortoise and the hare?

This is what I’m trying to remember, on days like these.

A slow start

When I first entertained the idea for starting a blog, I was full of energy, ideas percolating, ready to dive right in and get started.  I would have 2 or 3 posts up in no time!  My intention for this little blog was to capture these “Little Pockets of Bliss” in my everyday chaotic life, focus on the good, and leave the bad out of it.  I wanted my blog to be a place of uplifting inspiration, not a negative space where I vent my frustrations.  Who wants to read that stuff?  Everybody has that kind of crap!  They don’t need to be reminded of it!

And then life happened, as it always does.  It had been a particularly trying couple of weeks, although really, that is normal around here.  Dealing with work and household chores that never seem to get done. The stress of an ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) legal battle with my ex-husband over custody of our two boys.  Add to that the normal whining and sarcastic comebacks (what I hope is typical) of a 13yr old.  And cap it off late last week with my 9-yr old, fighting with me about everything, storming off upstairs hollering, “You’re such a jackass!”

All before 8am.  Sigh.

As I hung my head in despair, tears pricking at the corners of my eyes, I thought to myself, “How can I possibly blog about bliss, when there is nothing blissful about this life?”  This is my life.

It’s a long story, for another time.

In and out of wallowing

I did a full on misery wallow for a few days.  Feeling sorry for myself, I avoided the very things that bring me joy.  I got caught up in the “woe-is-me”, scrolling through Facebook for hours, reading and deleting emails (okay, sometimes unread).  TV watching consisted of guilty pleasure shows like Dance Moms, not even the new fall shows (and I have a list…we’ll get to that).

I did absolutely nothing productive, watching my vacation time tick away on the clock.  Another day lost and nothing accomplished.

Luckily, the sun came back out, literally and metaphorically, shining light on my self-made shadow.  In my endless internet-fest, I hit up some of my favourite people on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog-verse.  They weren’t posting the pretty. They were documenting the nitty-gritty, full-on face plant meltdowns the toddler took in the grocery store.  The burnt breakfast, the entire carton of juice spilled on the floor, the overflowing toilet, the car that won’t start when you’re already late.  They don’t only post the glamorous, Pinterest worthy portions of their lives.  They dig deep, and let it all out, exposed, naked, for the world to see.  Because it’s honest, and it’s real life.

So with that in mind, I pulled out the laptop, determined to just start, just write, and get a blog post published.  And if some of crap of my real life makes it’s way into the blog, so be it.  This is me.  All of me.

Okay…most of me.  Y’all don’t want the naked…

It all starts with a first step

When push comes to shove, I know what to do to pull myself out of funk. I just don’t always listen to myself when I am hunkered down on the couch under a blankie, feeling sorry for myself.  But when I manage to throw off the blankie, and drag my sorry ass off the couch, I go back to the list.

Yes, I have a list, and I carry it around with me everywhere in my traveller’s notebook.

Things That Make Me Happy

  • reading
  • listening to music
  • journalling
  • cooking
  • making art
  • meditation
  • yoga
  • Hawaii

There is more to the list, but I pulled one out and went to work.  Here is what I came up with.

Make soup.  You can blog about the other stuff another day.  I wonder if tortoises eat soup?

Coconut Curry Sweet Potato Soup

October 19, 2016
Serves 6-10 bowls
Prep time
10m
Cook Time
30m

Warm and spicy sweet potato soup, quick and easy to make.  Perfect for crisp, cool autumn days!


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon
    olive oil
  • 1
    onion, chopped
  • 1 Piece
    fresh ginger, thumb size, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon
    minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons
    curry powder (more if you like spicy, less if you like mild)
  • 1
    carton chicken stock, approx 900ml
  • 1.5 Pounds
    sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1
    can light coconut milk
  • 1/4 Cup
    brown sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon
    salt
  • 1 Teaspoon
    pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and ginger, cook and stir until tender, about 5 mins. Add garlic and curry powder, stirring for another few minutes.

  2. Add sweet potato and stir for another minute, then pour in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

  3. Using an immersion blender, or in a blender/food processor, blend soup (in batches if necessary) until smooth and creamy. Return to pot, add coconut milk, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Heat through, about 5 mins. Adjust seasonings to taste.

    Serve with optional garnishes...sliced avocado, siracha sauce, lime wedges, fresh cilantro

Let me know if you make it, and what you think!  What do you do to pull yourself out of the “woe-is-me” when life gets you down?

P.S. This soup freezes nice too!  Just label your zip-loc bag, use this handy-dandy gadget, the Jokari Hands-Free Baggy Rack Storage Bag Holder and you’ve got a great lunch down the road!

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Welcome home!

Welcome home!

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Bliss in a September blue sky

Welcome home!

That sentiment evokes such a feeling of bliss for me, as I’m sure it can for so many.  Hearing your family saying it, as you step in the door from a long day at work.  Breathing a sigh, suitcases in hand from a vacation, or any time away, be it brief or a lifetime.  That feeling when you’re handed the keys to your first place, all your own.  A friendly greeting from a seemingly familiar face when you’ve finally found your “tribe”.

Bliss On a September day

It was a rainy day (which I always pronounce with somewhat of a British accent, akin to the Pizzaville commercial).  I was sitting on the deck, listening to the drizzle of the rain on the awning overhead. Soft sounds of music in the backgroud, a playlist of songs by Makana, on my iPhone.  Alternating between writing, and staring  at the sky, I watched in the distance as the late afternoon sun began to slowly peek through the clouds, with those beautiful golden rays.  The smell of the rain, the earth, the leaves on the trees, the tiniest hints of impending autumn, not quite here yet.

And there it was, in that moment.  “This is happy, right here,” I thought.  “A little pocket of bliss, in an otherwise crazy, complicated life.”

Hmm…what a great name for a blog.  Little Pockets of Bliss.

I could just keep writing, online in addition to pen and paper. Nothing extraordinary.  Just sharing my thoughts and musings, as a way to keep myself accountable, to keep going, to just do it.  And maybe in the doing, in the sharing, I will create a place, a tribe, a home, where I’m not the only one in search of those fleeting moments, the happy, the Little Pockets of Bliss.

So here it is, this first little blog post.  Welcome to my home.  Pull up a chair, bring a cup of coffee or a steaming mug of tea (or a glass of red or white…I don’t judge!) open your journal, put pen in hand.  Take a deep breath, stare at the clouds in the September blue sky.

As is tradition in my family, when a new baby is born, we say…Welcome to the world, Little Pockets of Bliss!

Where is your Little Pocket of Bliss today?