Thursday, December 31, 2009

leaving the island

We leave the island today in order to begin our trek back home to Montreal. The trip has been fun. From seeing my Grandma (who, in case you didn't know this, is one of my favouritest people in the world... yup the world!) and joking around with her and my cousin (who I haven't seen since before I left BC) my uncle and my great aunt, to the big famn damily reunion with my step-dad's family, to playing scrabble with my parents and husband (who beat us by a long shot), to just having some time with my 2 little brothers, the trip has been good.

But that said, I am ready to go home. Because as much as I miss the trees, family, ocean, and weather, BC is no longer my home. It makes me sad to realize and write that, but it's true. My life isn't here anymore, it's there.

On a more positive note though, it looks like I'll be able to import a little bit of here to there come the end of Jan, beginning of Feb. It looks like my little brother is going to venture the cold climes of eastern Canada and try life out in Montreal. Soon my little condo, with all it's recent revamps, will be facing yet another revamp as we make space for him. My poor husband, now he's going to have 2 messy roommates!

Monday, December 28, 2009

back on the island: Vancouver Island that is.

And it's so warm!

It's funny, my little brother who is up from Arizona, is freezing. Meanwhile, Paul and I, coming from Montreal, are roasting and taking layers off. (Don't worry, we're still staying decent!)

Coming home always makes me homesick. I miss the trees and the moss and the ocean and the family. So far, it's been 2 days and we've managed to see an uncle, my grandma, my cousin, my 2 brothers, my parents, and my brother's fiance's family (they've been dating for like 8 years and we only just met... I seriously need to come home more often!).

Pretty impressive when you think that yesterday was the first day we were actually on the rock. And tonight is my step-dad's family. Poor Paul, he's going to be overwhelmed! Just because my side of the church was empty during the wedding, doesn't mean that I don't have a family that rivals his in terms of size, drinking, and loudness! In fact, I think we might actually trump him in one or 2 of those categories, I'll leave it to you to figure out which ones I'm talking about....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a letter to the christians, upon the occasion of christmas

First of all, let me apologize for having hijacked your holiday. For that, as a secular agnostic, I am deeply sorry. This Santa Claus business, even though I am sort of fond of the big guy, really has sort of taken away from the original meaning of the big day. Let's face it, jolly ol' St Nick has got nothing to do with the birth of Jesus.

That said however, we need to talk.

I know it's your big holiday. I know. But it's not everyone's big holiday. I mean, some of us out there are only in it for the gifts, decorations, food and family time. Let's be honest. Probably most of us are only in it for the gifts, decorations, food and family time. So when you send out those Christian Christmas cards, although I know what the holiday means to you, well it just sort of leaves me feeling cranky. I mean, if you know most of us are in it for the fun stuff only, then opting to send us a reminder of the original meaning of the season sort of makes me wonder about your intentions.

Here are a few of the motives that I've come up with to explain why you're sending out these cards to everyone on your list:

  1. You want to distinguish yourselves from the hordes of consumers and remind us that you have pure motives for celebrating the holidays.
  2. You want to make us feel guilty for being so consumeristic
  3. You want to remind those lapsing Christian friends out there that their priorities might be skewed and not focused on what really matters
  4. You're not aware that your friends don't celebrate Christianity
  5. You're not aware that some of your friends aren't Christians and might in fact be practicing other faiths
  6. You don't really care that they may not practice/believe or not believe in your faith but want to remind them that you do
  7. You can't believe that some of us aren't really all that gaga over the nativity
  8. You aren't aware of the prior pagan associations with Christmas, or just don't care and enjoy usurping the traditions of other holidays
These are only a few of the possible reasons out there. Really, the list might be extensive. And your reason might not be even included or be anywhere near the suggested list.

But here's the thing. Some of us are not Christians and some of us actually have a really hard time with Christianity and therefore celebrate the season for reasons other than the nativity. So when you opt to send that very Christian based card, it sort of feels a bit like a slap in the face because it doesn't take into consideration the person who is on the receiving end. I mean, do you send out gifts based on your needs and wishes, or based on what you think the person who is receiving the item might want? Chances are, if you're Christian I have probably already figured that out by now. And I respect that that is your path and your choice and wish you all the best for the season. In all fairness, maybe I should be sending out cards to you that are nativity based. But until it's clear that we're all batting for the same team, maybe it would be a nice consideration if you'd just send a card that says Happy Holidays and All the Best for the New Year.

I don't know, I mean, it's just a thought. You know?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

playing with picasa

Kate from Centsational Girl recently wrote about using Picasa to edit her photos for her blog here.  So off I went to give some of her tips a go.

First up, downloading the live writer… because let’s face it, the blogger photo upload feature does really suck!

 

 

Using some of her tips, I edited the original image (see above) to get the picture on your right.

Aside from cropping, I added a slight soft glow and altered the saturation (which isn’t something I’ve ever done before). Given that the colours were pretty bright to start off with, I don’t know how much the photo feels like it’s been altered but I like to think that there’s a big difference.

If nothing else, I think that the cranes are more visible and if I were to post the image in my shop in etsy, it would help give buyers a clearer image of what they were getting.

golden cranes



This is the most recent addition in my crane ornament family. A double happiness golden crane ornament. This particular ornament was given to ma belle tante (aunt in law... it just sounds better in French) as a hostess gift. The paper is incredibly sparkly and at night, when the tree lights are on, it looks amazing because it catches all the light and glitters.

However, because the paper is covered in sparkles making this particular crane is quite the messy process. When I was halfway through the first crane, my husband walked in, saw all the glitter and asked me whether I was making a crane or killing one!

I think the effect on the tree more than makes up for the mess at the crafting table...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

things fall apart: cultivating happiness

The minute you commit to living an authentic life, the world shifts. Friends fall away. Sometimes even family. But once you decide to be part of the energy that heals rather than destroys life, there is no other path.  


For all that the web is an electronic, impersonal place, I have often been overwhelmed and awed by it's ability to offer up uncanny insight or advice at just the right moment. Stumbling across the above quote (whether it is the blogger's own or a paraphrase or otherwise is unknown to me), just sort of reinforces some of what I've been contemplating lately and felt oddly appropriate for this morning's musings and meditations.

2009 has been a year of learning to embrace happiness. I know, how weird does it sound that I need to learn such a thing? But really, I think it's something everyone needs to learn. We're taught that happiness just is. We know when we're happy and when we're not. But I don't really think this is true. Otherwise we'd have no need for expressions like "his own worst enemy" or "cause of his own misery." Happiness is something you have to make a conscious effort to build in your life. From living in the now, to appreciating the moment and the small things, to learning to see the positive instead of focusing on the negative, happiness is a state of being that needs to be (to some extent) cultivated and nurtured.

The notion that happiness is something you work on and create every day, has become my mantra this year. And learning to find a more positive balance in my relationships with others this year has been a by-product of this attempt to cultivate happiness in my life. The quote above rings true for me because I do feel as if, as I cultivate this happiness, the relationships in my life are falling away or changing drastically.

Working on embracing happiness has actually revealed that I am happier than ever and more at ease in my own skin. But it's also caused me to notice patterns that I never really questioned before and left me pondering the nature of the relationships in my life, both positive and negative in terms of how I treat others, how I am treated, and whether the relationship is ultimately nurturing, toxic, in need of some space, or whether it needs to be worked on. This search for happiness has led me down the very humbling path (humbling because I slip up a lot) of trying to slowly but surely, learn to listen more, let go of my expectations, and change some of the more negative behaviour patterns in my relationships. Sometimes this has fostered stronger relationships and other times it has revealed less positive things, thus the quote above.

As I strive to be a better person and build a life that is happy, there are certain elements in my life that I have had to let go of and have had to give myself permission to not feel guilt over. Because part of the world shifting is actually allowing it to shift and giving myself permission to change. For me, the great lesson of 2009 has been how to cultivate my own happiness and letting myself be ok with letting go in order to be happy.

Sometimes things have to fall apart in order to build something better.

Monday, December 21, 2009

calendars


Feeling inspired by all the crafty calendars out there in craftland, so I decided to try my hand at one, based on a publisher file and this is what I came up with on the first round. Given the right paper and printing, I think that it would be relatively easy to create your own calendar. Of course, it's no letterpress inspired piece of work, nor is the format all that awe inspiring... but if you wanted to create a simple, zen based calendar with images from your photo collection, publisher is very user friendly.

Here are some of my trials for the new year:


best of 2009: project


The project that I started this year? Making crane ornaments for etsy. There have been a few bumps along the way as I learn my way around etsy and the postal system (who knew it'd cost more to mail an ornament in Canada than the USA)? But mostly I'm just happy to be able to have this side project that nurtures my creativity and that people find beautiful enough to want to buy them for their own home or friend's home.
In fact, making these ornaments for etsy is only a small part of a larger project I've been working on in 2009: nurturing my creativity. I spent years in school, living in an academic bubble, focused on analyzing other's art and never creating anything of my own. I loved (and still love) literary analysis and there are days that I long to go back to that space and write a PhD thesis on the sonnets of Vikram Seth and A.K. Ramanujan but now that I've started to realize how important creativity is in order for me to feel balanced in life, I know that even if I did go back, I would always need to leave myself space for crafting and creating. (Though I suppose that writing a graduate thesis is a form of creating too).

Obviously knowing that you need a certain amount of balance in your life isn't exactly a shocking realization, but the realization that this was actually something that was missing and is vital to my sense of well being, well that was a profound realization for me. And it's one that I'm not entirely sure I would have realized if it hadn't been for all the crafting that I did for our wedding and learning to use the web to discover and share ideas because of it. Ah, the unexpected side effects of wedding planning where you least expect them...

Friday, December 18, 2009

owl-ie goodness!

While I was in New York city a few weeks ago, I discovered the above t-shirt and immediately had to have it. The colours in the image don't do it justice (which is somewhat ironic given that it was taken from the website... the shirt is more of a dark brown). Image of T-shirt from David and Goliath. But it's just so cute that I couldn't possibly resist it. I haven't worn it to work yet, but it's making the trip home to BC so that I can show it to Grandma when we get there!
My grandmother always loved owls. For years the staircase in her home was decorated with a wide collection of owl items. Much like the one of your right (image from here). Whenever I found an item that had an owl on it, I would harass my mom to buy it for her. I'm sure that on some level her "collection" was based more out of obligation and love for her grandchildren than her own great love of owls! There are probably a great many people out there who could make that claim. That said, the discovery of the "We're in Cahoots" tshirt whilst in New York, has prompted a re-discovery of owls in yours truly. Maybe it's partially due to my fond memories of Grandma's place, or due to the recent fixation/rage in craft-land on birds, but these owls are just tickling my fancy these days!

So now I have started to keep my eye out for owl related goods:



from Whip Up                                             from moonstitches


from kidsstuffworld                                                 from CraftJuice


And I'm thinking about making a blanket, something like this one but with owls, eventually, in a time far away from now:



Ideally I'd only have one or 2 owls on the blanket but I just think it's sooooo cute that I can't resist the idea. One day, when my sewing is at that level, I will give it a go!

Suffice to say, I may have to rethink my moratorium on stuffed animals in the house in order to embrace my new found love of all things owl!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

best of 2009: tea and phrases

My teas of the year have been, will continue to be, and will always be: Camelia Sinensis Chai and Assam, and the ever reliable Twinings Earl Grey.



not my actual teapot, but quite similar
go here for info on this teapot.

And now that I'm the proud owner of not 1, not 2 but 4 teapots, I will always enjoy them well steeped and in a beautiful teapot and mug!

2009 was a year of change and maturity. What can I say other than my first full year in a career and year of wedding planning taught me a lot about myself, the people around me and how I interact with them. And most importantly, 2009 found me moving away from academics and rediscovering the joy of creativity. I learned to slow down and use that time to create again... and the impact of that shift has been profound one for me.


Yup, 2009 was a good year that was enjoyed over many a mug of yummy chai tea.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

best of 2009: packaging


Hands down, these were the best packaged items that I came across in 2009. The test tube vials of flavoured salts, spices, and teas in a shop in Nice were so lovely that I ended up taking at least 3 pictures (at least) and going back to buy some tea in a tube for a friend.

The 2nd runner up goes out to an etsy seller: RedRubyRose. I bought 2 clutches from her for my wedding and when they arrived they were wrapped so lovely that I felt like I was unwrapping a gift for myself (which I kind of was...). She had them in a red box with a ribbon around the purses inside, sewn up with a button and it was so professional and smart looking that I was incredibly impressed and promised myself that I would emulate her packing artistry for any items that I sent out to customers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

robin hood of 2009: taking back the environment from the rich

Admittedly, I’m no Pollyanna, but for the most part I believe in the best of people. However, there are some days that just derail that optimism and leave me wishing that we had our own version of Robin Hood. Other days I just think people need to learn to be less greedy. Right now they’re having the climate talks in Copenhagen and world leaders are all supposedly working together to find a solution. I admit it; I have little to no faith that anything is actually going to come from this conference/summit other than a bunch of hot air. The reason I have such little faith is because over and over again we’ve been told that we need to change the way we live in first nation countries and yet no political party in power is actually willing to take the risk and do what needs to be done. And on some level I don’t blame them because obviously the general population isn’t really willing to make the necessary changes.


Oh sure, we’ll learn to recycle and try to buy things that are fair trade and ethical, but the big, hard decisions that actually demand us to rethink our values and comfort; I’m afraid that I can’t point a finger to blame others when I myself am guilty. Convenience and comfort never cease to trump need and ethics. It’s true. I mean, I could be taking the metro every day to work, but that hour long commute killed me so now I own a car…. I love my car, but is my car environmentally ethical? No.

This resistance to taking ownership and responsibility for our actions is creating what Naomi Klein dubs “climate debt,” owed to the countries we pay to produce industrial goods for us at cheap prices. It’s all fine and dandy to insist that China changes its ways. But we are the ones that created the situation in China, thus we are partially responsible for paying the price to fix the environment (and maybe even social) problems that have been created there (and in other nations). Let’s face it. It’s one thing to say that China, India, and Taiwan must regulate their industries and clean up their acts, but quite another when the price of such efforts is felt by the average consumer. We all love our cheap goods, even if unsustainable business practices are what are keeping the prices artificially low. Given what we make versus what we pay for items like clothing, we actually pay less now than we did 20 years ago. When I was a child it cost less for my mother to make clothes for me, when my baby brother (who is 12 years younger than me) was young, it was cheaper to buy clothes (especially when you factor in time).

Nowadays, when I want to go buy fabric or wool to make something, I’m left with little doubt that I could purchase the item in question for far cheaper than I could make it. I craft/sew for pleasure and quality, not affordability. Pledging to buy handmade versus store bought goods is, in many ways, a luxury because it doesn’t always translate into savings for the consumer. The problem is that that cheap store bought item, manufactured in a factory that is unsustainable, is not a quality good and we are becoming increasingly a culture focused on quantity over quality. All the environmental advocates (from Suzuki to Klein in Canada) remind us that less is more, and yet we are inundated with more, more, more in all that we do and own: from homes to cars, from money to gadgets. It’s no wonder that politicians are reluctant to make us face the cold hard facts when we are so unwilling to hear them. (Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are many out there who are making a concerted effort to bring about change, both personally and publicly).

Inasmuch as I cringe with shame over Stephen Harper’s lax environmental policies, I don’t necessarily blame him for his apathy. However, in order for things to change we need to start dealing with the hard truths now, not later. We need to stop always thinking of our convenience and putting ourselves and our country first, and start thinking about others. It’s not enough to insist that others change their ways if we aren’t willing to make a change. It’s ridiculous to make small efforts that really miss the mark (like a famous Hollywood star boasting that they drive a Prius, yet live in a huge mansion, or buying organic produce that comes from California when you live on the east coast and could buy it local). The same can be said for our governments. It’s not enough to say we’ll start a cap and trade initiative when the levels are so ridiculously high that they bear no significance. I don’t have an answer, I’m still working on figuring it out for myself, but it’s time for some tough changes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

beginnings

Welcome to Lotus Tree Crafts, Asian inspired goodies created for your home.

This site is still unfolding, but is meant to chronicle and showcase my creative projects as they are developped. If you want to know more about me, please head over to my personal blog: http://www.thelotustree.blogspot.com/.



Autumn 2009 marks the launch of my holiday origami ornaments on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LotusTreeCrafts. Given the popularity of the site and the fact that I only launched my origami crane ornaments on Nov 3rd, I am thrilled to have made 4 sales and sent off 8 cranes in the month that my business has gone live.

Now that the holiday rush has started to die down, I'm looking forward to turning my focus inwards and letting my creative crafty juices flow. From my humble beginnings I hope to be able to shape a line of crafts inspired by my love of asian art and culture (from India to Japan).

best of 2009: food and home



This weekend I took a break from blogging (though technically I did that last weekend too... ahh, the joy of scheduled blog posts), so now I'm catching up on the best of 2009 posts. For Dec 13th the prompt was best change to your home in 2009. We've changed quite a bit in our condo over the past year in an effort to make the space feel roomier and more  homey. Each change has gradually morphed into the space that we have now, which is the best of them all so far. See photos above and below. The living room actually feels like a home now, which is a major improvement. There was something about what we had before that was blah and utilitarian, that felt cramped and sterile. The addition of the bookshelf above has really opened up the space because it's drawn the visual line up and made the space feel less cluttered and small because of it.



Our mini shrine to us and our wedded bliss in the hallway has replaced the hodge podge collection of photos we once had up. And the office is become cleaner (still needs a bit of work) but when the space is clean it's actually quite user friendly and spacious! All in all this was the best change (done all at the same time) because it created more space and made the condo feel more homey.

Now on to food:



My best food discovery of the year was phylo, as used in my lentil veggie phylo rolls, recipe here. I'd never cooked with phylo but decided to experiment by combining 2 recipes. The results, despite being surprisingly low on the use of spices, were incredibly savoury and yummy. I will definitely be making these goodies again! Yummmm.... phylo.

Friday, December 11, 2009

best of 2009: tea at Camelia Sinensis



Sometimes the subjects of this best of 2009 challenge are trickier than others. Deciding on a favourite place (A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?) in particular threw me for a loop because I could possibly narrow down my list to ONE best of place. I mean... how do you choose...

There's beers and thalis at  Bombay Mahal, girl time at Spa Finlandais, and drinks at Brewtopia, and oh so many other places that I love to go. But after a bit of reflection I thought, egads Marya, you're overthinking this question! Your favourite place, quite simply, is tea at Camelia Sinensis with friends.

Long conversations + yummy tea + small, intimate, zen café  +  good friends= a nice night out.

It's a simple equation, but one that is always successful. It's one of Montréal's hidden gems (slowly becoming not so hidden) and definitely worth a visit.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

best of 2009: best album(s)

I admit it, I'm horribly out of touch when it comes to music. I usually catch on to songs and cds well past their initial crazy. My 2 favourite albums this year follow that trend:



          Adele                                                                                            Sia

I can't help it. I'm a complete musical luddite! But both albums rocked my world this year! Another fav music discovery, brought to my attention by my "sister" in Sweden, KokoKaina


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

best of 2009: challenge & growth

The life lessons learned from bride-land...

So while I promise that not all of my blog posts will be about getting married, this particular subject MUST be about the wedding because nothing in 2009 taught me more than wedding planning.

 
Here are the highlights:

 
 Conflict negotiation, aka, knowing when to pick your battles
 Emotional stress management
 Compromise
 How to be a better partner
 Event planning, this includes follow through, multi-tasking, and delegating
 Letting go of expectations and learning what my limits are
 Recognizing what is realistic and what is idealistic
 And my all time favourite, embracing your creative self

 
Many of these items are to be expected when you sit down and start planning a wedding. But some of them completely caught me by surprise. I mean, I never expected that wedding planning would teach me so much about my relationship with my partner. Sure, I knew there’d be compromises (and big ones given that we are an agnostic/Catholic, liberal/traditional couple [guess which one I am!]) but I was often surprised by some of the issues that actually required and didn’t require negotiation. I mean, I knew that he wouldn’t really be interested in an Indian fusion wedding (no curries or saris for me) but I was surprised by how far my husband was willing to go with the Asian fusion theme we built our wedding around. In fact, he was downright into the entire decorating/planning when negotiating what Asian styled elements we’d add to our invites, wardrobe, and photography.

 
I also learned about skills and areas of interest that my partner had that I was previously not really aware of. He designed our invites and our save the dates. He took care of most of our paper/graphic elements during the event and I was surprised by how readily he took these projects on. Planning the wedding, despite being full of stress made me aware that I couldn’t have picked a better partner. There was none of the stereotypical gender divide. I didn’t plan 90% of the wedding. It really was a 50-50 partnership, which is exactly what I want our marriage to be.

 
Wedding planning also taught me a lot about some of the patterns and behaviours I have that strengthen and weaken our relationship. I’m a talker. And I talk, a lot. It can be a good thing at times because I don’t stew on my emotions and I talk my way through things. But sometimes that leaves Paul with no space to get a word in. I am ever so slowly working on giving him more time to work out his ideas and express his opinions before I jump in with my rebuttals, counterpoints, additions and everything elses. (I know he’s learned his own relationship related stuff, but that’s for him to discuss, not me). Sure I could have told you some/most of this before planning the wedding, but actually going through the process sort of forced me to actually work at recognizing when these patterns were happening and actually changing the patterns and improving how we communicate.

 
All in all, the experience challenged my expectations, demanded that I learn to let go, and helped me grow as a person, both individually and as a couple. To date, it has been one of the most challenging, frustrating, stressful, emotionally charged, obsessive compulsive, creative, and rewarding lessons of my life. I can’t even begin to do the process justice. I feel like it made me a better person.

 
Would I do it again? No. Would I do things differently? Not really. Am I happy that I did it? Yes, absolutely.

For more of my thoughts on lessons learned from the battlefield, go here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

best of 2009: moment of peace

It's not environmental. It's not always even all that peaceful. But there are days in my car, when the sun is shining and the music is playing and I have time out to talk out loud and muse about where I'm at, that are absolutely transcendant for me. I know, I know, talking in my car is kinda crazy but whatever, it's part of my bliss.

I suppose I could call it a form of meditation, a very non-green meditation, but meditation nonetheless. The raging enviro side of my hippie crunchie self cringes as I write this, but it's true. Me and my little blue Lucie, we just get along. She is my room of my own, in which I find peace.

There's always been something about being on the road, winding my way from here to there, completely free of having to do anything else but drive and think, that's always been meditative to me. In fact, over the years driving has brought me many moments of peace. From days when I wanted to bite my old roommate's head off (yeah... I know...) to arguments with the family, to early morning drives at sunrise while working at Starbucks, to listening to opera music with a friend while we explored the unknown corners of our hometown, to roadtrips with my partner and the long philosophical conversations we have during them - car rides have often been some of my most treasured moments of introspection and enlightenment.





Monday, December 7, 2009

best of 2009: blog find



Again, given that 2009 was the year of wedding, my best blog find is related to the marriage institution. Offbeat Bride, which then led me to Offbeat Tribe, saved my poor little bridezilla self from wedding hell. The supportive, outside the box, sometimes inside the box with variations, community of (mostly) women helped me add a little oomph and flavour to my largely traditional Catholic wedding AND kept me from driving all my non-wedding'd friends insane with wedding details.



I mean, really, how many times can you really listen to your friend blather on about bouquets, favours, and wedding programs? (Note that my friends did valiantly and I was always impressed with their willingness to let me rehash the issue over and over again!)

From getting excited about our wedding programs to creating my own ring books, the gals on Offbeat Bride Tribe were there for me and helped me brainstorm, stoke my creative fires, deal with the transitions, and offered feedback when I needed a fresh perspective. Yup, Offbeat Bride was really my godsent website of 2009.








and the winner is...

First of all, I am sorry for the delayed announcement. I am currently away from home so this is the earliest I have had the chance to look into this.

The winner, drawn by http://www.random.org/, is #39, Vaverine. Congrats Vaverine.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

best of 2009: conferences



Pure and simple, the best conference I went to was the one where I gave a speech in FRENCH! The girl from Beautiful British Columbia gave a speech on diversity in la belle province de Québec. Years of French Immersion finally culminated in yours truly giving a speech in her 2nd language, in front of a bunch of college professors.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

best of 2009: night out, night in

My best night out was actually a night in and it included some of my best girlfriends and some very indecent, incriminating photos!

I never wanted the traditional bachelorette send off. The idea of being decked out in tacky faux wedding gear, whilst parading around and announcing that it was the boys last chance... yeah, just made me shudder.

So I asked my dearest lady friends to come over to our place the night before the wedding for cocktails and festivities. Nothing over the top, just food, drinks, and chatting. But then my lovely lady friends decided to amp it up a notch with these lovely straws (and other items not to be displayed online).

It was a quiet night but memorable for me because it was the first time in age where most of my bestest lady friends were all in the same room. From London to Vancouver they convened in the small living room of my Montreal condo and shared wine through R rated straws, just for me. And I love them all for being good sports and coming out.


Friday, December 4, 2009

best of 2009: best book

This year was all about weddings, so even though I read a lot this year, nothing really stands out for me like Rebecca Mead's One Perfect Day, which I wrote about here.



image from Amazon.com (see above link)

I know that there are elements of the research that others take issue with, but as I struggled with what marriage means in this day and age and questioned why the hell I was going through this ritual, this book helped to remind me to keep the day in perspective and that all the choices we make are ultimately linked to some aspect of consumerism. From the Elvis Chapel of Love to the Destination Wedding to the Big Fat Catholic Wedding that I felt like I was having, each variation on a theme is drenched in consumeristic culture and familial/societal expectations.Remember that simple fact helped me reconcile my vision of what a wedding should be to what my wedding was going to be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

best of 2009 - day the third



Today's entry: best article of 2009.

I'll admit it, when I read this topic yesterday I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to answer it. The academic lit geek in me felt a certain amount of pressure to pick just the right article. You know, the one that best reflected me. But how in the hell do you actually do that? I mean really, come on... I don't know about the rest of you out there but there is no way that I can pigeon hole myself into one article.

So then I felt like I needed to find the article that was the most thought provoking. Link up with something significant that I read about the environment or social justice... you know, link to one of the great articles I read in The New Internationalist or This magazine, because there have been quite a few very thought provoking articles that have come my way through these magazines.

But then I realized that I was over thinking it, as I tend to do...

This year has been all about moving away from my academic self and embracing creativity and the article that nurtured that the most this year was the TED video speech with Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved how she linked spirituality, academics, insecurity, and creativity all together. It reminded me of my studies of renaissance poetry (I know, I said I was moving away from academics), the spiritual nature of creativity, and the act of creating. And well, to get to the point, I just dug it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

one of those days....

You know those days... the ones where you're in a funk, for no apparent reason, and can't seem to shake it and all you want to do is go ROARG at the world. Yeah. Today's totally been one of those days. And I'm not pms-ing, and work wasn't bad, and traffic wasn't worse than usual. But well, it was a roarg kinda day.

But that's ok cause my oh so lovely partner was here when I got home and patiently sat through my not so mini meltdown, then took me out for dinner and life is oh so much better now.

ps... where are you people finding my blog to respond to the ornament giveaway... inquiring minds are just dying to know, you know? Ok, just busy body me is dying to know...

best of 2009 - day the second

December 2 Restaurant moment.
Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

This is a tough one for me. Do I go with the dinner I had with my family, just a few days after the wedding, before they flew home? Or breakfast before going to the spa with the 2 Karens, or the birthday dinner? Hard to say really.

I guess that for the sake of uniqueness, I'll go with the birthday meal. We went to Tibetan Om and ate momos and various yummy dishes depending on what each of us ordered. What made this experience unique (because lets face it, we all have bday meals) was the amazing service we got and the fact that my best girls were all there, including one the aforementioned Karens, who'd flown in from Vancouver the day before.


me and Karen at dinner

The owner of the restaurant knows one of the guys my husband plays baseball with and ever since Paul's met him, each time we've gone there (like 3 times in 2 years) he treats us like royalty. Seriously. He gives us the most amazing service. My birthday was no exception. My friends were wowed by how good the service was and the time we spent there was truly a blast.

My closest friends in Montreal tend to come from very different groups and so I don't tend to ever really have them all together in one venue. Being able to bring them together over dinner was really nice for this reason. I was able to play with my old roomie's baby son while hashing out the latest boy adventures with another friend. Paul bantered with another friend while I poured some wine for a grad school girlfriend. And best of all, of course, was the fact that my bestest friend in the world had flown in from Vancouver to spend this birthday with me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

best of 2009: day the first

The end of the year is all about internet fun... blogging by mail, libraryThing, etsy, and now....

the best of 2009!
31 questions about the best memories/moments of the year.

December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

This year we were busy with wedding planning so travelling wasn't a huge priority. We made it to Tremblant twice and stayed with friends in a cabin up there, which was lovely (even though I nearly killed myself trying to ski for the second time in my life...) We had a great deal of visits this year (from BC, Sweden, London, Arizon, and Ontario... but we only made it to Ontario). Other than that, the only other travels were during our lovely honeymoon in the south of France. Travelling to this area was awe inspiring and just reinforced for me how beautiful the world really is. Seriously, beyond description. I don't know the answer whether god created the earth or if it was a big bang, but I do know that the sheer beauty of it is divine.



I was ecstatic about being able to dip my toes in the Mediterranean sea. Having spent so much time studying Europe, literature, history, and culture... being able to do this was one of those great moments. Simple, I know, but profoundly fantastic nonetheless. And the best part.... it was warm. Pure bliss I tell you, pure bliss! I don't know why, but it's always the small moments that define the voyage. Bicycles in Amsterdam, lassis in India, the Harvard bookstore in Boston... and the mediterranean in France.

blogging by mail - received



Out of curiousity and sense of holiday spirit, I signed up to do a holiday gift exchange - blogging by mail. I sent off my package to Australia last week and I received my blogging by mail gift last night. (I'm sorry Michelle, I think your package is going to take much longer than mine did....). When the sites that were participating went up, I checked them out and noticed that one was from the Netherlands and I thought to myself, "Marya, wouldn't it just be such an irony if you, the Canadian girl with the Dutch mother, was paired with the Dutch blogger." And wouldn't you know, I was!

So now, a recipe for my well loved speculaas cookies from my childhood, complete with a fun cookie cutter, have made their way to my doorstep all the way from the Netherlands. And oh so many other yummy Dutch goodies... some of which I grew up with and some of which are new to me. It couldn't have worked out better! Thank you Lien from http://www.notitievanlien.blogspot.com/ , your "take me away" brought back many warm memories from childhood. Yum!!!!

Oh, and the candle wrapping did indeed keep the scent out of the food... although my entire condo now smells like cranberries! :P

advent calendar



One of my favourite parts of the holidays was always getting to open the advent calendar every morning before school, so in the spirit of that memory I created an advent calendar for my husband. To be fair, his advent calendar is WAY better than the little chocolates I used to get as a kid! I put it up last night, so when he came home, this (see below) was the first thing he saw when he entered the condo:



In other news, it's official! I'm off to New York city with my old elementary school friend Karen, this weekend! We've known each other since grade 4, so it should be a fun adventure to share together before she heads back out to the west coast! I'll be sure to share all the lovely details! The question is though... do I take the good camera, or just the small, easy to carry camera... oh the decisions!!!!

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