Tuesday 30 April 2013

Curb-side treasure

The other day I took home my first piece of furniture left on the curb!
I have never done this before - normally I don't even notice them. But for some reason, this little corner-shelf just talked to me, pleading with me to "take me home! I'm in perfect condition, with lots of potential." What else could I do? I had to take it home. And not only that - I decided to attempt some DIY. Eeks!
I blame all the blogs I'm reading about thrifting, DIYing, crafting - must be contagious. The brown colour wasn't my fave, so I thought I would change it to white. Instead of painting I used spray paint, and it worked like a charm.
So happy about my little project!
Excuse the poor quality of the photos, I used my camera instead of my phone (always a problem for me) and the settings are all messed up - I will have to sit down with the instructions manual and try to figure it out.


xo Miriam

Sunday 28 April 2013

Worky workerton - and the promise of beer(fest)

The odd title is a reflection of the weird space my head has been in all weekend - it's been one crazy busy work weekend. You may or may not recall me going on about how much I like love my job just one week ago.
Well, after two days like these I should seriously re-think that statement.

Okay, it wasn't that bad. But busy. Very, very busy. Run-of-your-feet, legs hurting, total exhaustion busy. Plus we had a computer downtime that lasted 17(!!) hours. Anybody who works with computers (and isn't that everybody nowadays?) knows how dreadful that is. So much extra work: manual entries, piles of paper everywhere, a ton of clean-up afterwards.

Anyways, enough of that. I'm home now, stretched out on the couch in my pjs, just ate a cinnamon bun and the world is looking much friendlier.

There are also some high points about this weekend:
Last night I somehow mustered the energy to go for a walk with Snowy - nightwalks always make me feel better. The rain we had during the day had stopped and the air was fresh and fragrant. Very peaceful.
And we had a good stick-to-your-ribs dinner: homegrown roast chicken, Sauerkraut and potatoes.

 Good ol' German food

Which nicely segues into some fun summer plans: Richard, Lea (our youngest) and I just booked our flight to Germany to visit the old homeland in August.

We are going to the Sch├╝tzenfest in Richard's hometown. You have heard of the Oktoberfest in Munich? Every town actually has a festival like it, with music, tents, lots of beer, and dancing on the tables. Richard goes every year, but I haven't been since 2008! So I'm quite excited. And Lea is a fun travel companion, up for anything, it will be great!

I thought I would share a few snapshots from the last time we went (in 2008), here you go:

The obligatory dancing on table. It's not optional.

The "rowing" dance. Also not optional.


Dance attempt - it failed.

Fun times ahead!

xo Miriam

Friday 26 April 2013

The secret to happiness

Llama love: mom, dad, son and soon a new bun in the oven? 
A warm day, a big campfire, my man, the dogs, wine, sweet llama love.
That's my secret to happiness.

When I was younger, I would always have the same answer when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up: "I want to be happy."

I didn't have any idea what "being happy" would look like.  Being rich and famous? Having a big family with lot of kids? Travelling lots, seeing the world? Being a successful career woman?

Turns out, it's very simple in my case.
Sitting with my man around the fire, sipping wine, warm sunshine on the skin and the dogs around us, I'm completely content and happy. Those days are special and perfect to us.
How about you? What does happiness look like for you?

Yesterday was the first time we had dad llama Neil in the same enclosure as mom llama Ghost and her son Kalle Obama. (No disrespect to the President, I'm a huge fan - we named the baby after him because he was born on Nov 6, 2012, the day of the re-election. Plus, Obama the llama has a nice ring to it.)  They were very excited after 4 months apart!
It took daddy no time at all to make his move, and Ghost apparently never heard of playing hard to get - she willingly lied down for him.

Llama lovemaking is very gentle, with the male making these low humming sounds, like a lullaby. It's beautiful. The female basically just lies there and enjoys it. Their mating lasted surprisingly long, about 20 minutes - baby had no idea what was going on, he kept circling them and trying to figure out what they were doing.

Here are a few pictures!
"What's going on?"

Posing for a family portrait while still mating.

Still mating... can you see him humming?

My gorgeous Bear. He's humongous. And quite smelly. I love him.

aka bootfarm - my workout! (Note the intense facial expression - that sucker was heavy.)
I would love to hear about your happy moments!
xo Miriam

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Unbearable lightness

Google image
I read this book about a year ago. It is raw, honest and beautifully written. Most of us women have struggled with body issues at some point in our lives - it is rare to find a woman completely comfortable with herself and her body . This book shows like none other (that I have read so far) how an obsession with weight and being thin can rule and almost destroy a life.

Portia describes the slow slide into anorexia, how she thought she was just eating healthy and being professional by wanting to be her best (=thinnest) possible self. Her weight took priority over any other human interaction; she had complicated rituals revolving around food, ate at times less than 300 calories a day, used only certain bowls and utensils. During lunch on set of her TV show she would go to her trailer and work out excessively instead of eating.
She would even get up in the middle of the night and stand or walk around to burn calories; she was terrified that lying down and sleeping during the night would lead to weight gain.

What spoke to me the most is at the end of the book where Portia describes her new attitude to food and exercise. I wanted to share it here because I find she is so right:

"I have recovered from anorexia and bulimia. I am immensely grateful that the disorders, although robbing me of living freely and happily for almost twenty years, aren't continuing to rob me of my health. Not everyone who has suffered from eating disorders has the same good fortune. The disorders have left me unscathed both physically and mentally. However, having anorexia has left me with an intense resistance to exercise. As well as being resistant to exercise, I have an intense resistance to counting calories. And reading labels on the backs of jars and cans. And weighing myself.

I hate the word exercise. I am allergic to gyms. But I don't think that "formal" exercise in a gym is the only way to achieve a healthy, toned body. I have discovered that enjoyable daily activities that are easy, like walking, can be equally beneficial. I have noticed on my daily walk with my dogs that I rarely see an overweight person walking a dog, whereas I see many overweight people walking on treadmills in a gym. I attribute this not only to the frequency of having to walk your dog, but also the good feeling one has when doing something good for another being. Seeing my dogs' excitement as I walk them around my neighborhood every day makes me happy, and when I'm happy I walk a little taller and a little more briskly. I can only imagine the enjoyment parents must experience when seeing the joy on their kids' faces as they play tag football or shoot hoops with them.
 I also enjoy being outdoors. I like breathing the cold night air deeply into my lungs as I walk up the hills in my neighborhood and smelling the forest air as I walk on hiking trails after a morning rain. Another way for me to stay fit is to do activities where I can learn a skill, like horse riding or tennis or dancing. I find that if I can concentrate on getting better at something, rather than getting fitter or looking better, I accomplish all three things - the latter two being happy by-products of the original goal. Doing an activity to relax is also important for me. I swim to clear my head rather than count laps and burn calories. Swimming slowly is a form of meditation for me.

I have found ways to increase my heart rate, stretch my muscles, and breathe deeply every day in an enjoyable way that I would never label as exercise. I eat every kind of food that I like, moderating the portions using my appetite and not a calorie counter. I love fat and I love carbohydrates. Nothing fills you up and feels more satisfying than a mashed potato or pasta and olive oil. There are days when I eat a large bag of potato chips for lunch and I feel too full and greasy to eat anything else until dinner. It may not be the healthiest, most balanced day in a lifetime of days, but I more than likely won't repeat it the following day.

To say that you can stay at your natural body weight and be healthy by eating what you want and not working out sounds extremely controversial, and yet people have lived this way for hundreds of years. It seems to me that it's only since around 1970 that the concept of diet and exercise has existed in the way it does now, which is based on exertion and restriction being the key to weight loss, and yet since then, we have seen an increase in obesity in countries that have adopted it.
(These are also the countries where the fast-food industry boomed during that time.) The diet industry is making a lot of money selling us fad diets, nonfat foods full of chemicals, gym memberships, and pills while we lose a little of our self-esteem every time we fail another diet or neglect to use the gym membership we could barely afford. Restriction generates yearning. You want what you can't have. There are many ways to explain why the pendulum swing occurs and why restriction almost always leads to bingeing. I was forced to understand this in order to recover from a life-threatening disorder, And in a way, I wrote this memoir to help myself understand how I came to have an eating disorder and how I recovered from it. I really hope that my self-exploration can help not only people who are suffering from anorexia or bulimia, but also the perpetual dieters. You don't have to be emaciated or vomiting to be suffering. All people who live their lives on a diet are suffering.

If you can accept your natural body weight - the weight that is easy for you to maintain, or our "set point" - and not force it to beneath your body's natural, healthy weight, then you can live your life free of dieting, of restriction, of feeling guilty every time you eat a slice of your kid's birthday cake. But the key is to accept your body just as it is. Just as I have had to learn to accept that I have thighs that are a little bigger than I'd like, you may have to accept that your arms are naturally a little thicker or your hips are a little wider. In other words, accept yourself.
Love your body the way it is and feel grateful toward it.  Most important, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like.

I made the mistake of thinking that what I look like is more important than who I am - that what I weigh is more important than what I think or what I do. I was ashamed of being gay, and so I only heard the voices that said that being gay is shameful.
As I changed, I no longer heard the condemning voices. When my relationship with Ellen became public, I was amazed by how well the news was received. I was still very scared, but I was also very much in love, and love outweighed the fear. I wanted to celebrate our love.
I was so proud to call myself her girlfriend that whatever people might have thought about my sexuality wasn't important anymore. I simply didn't hear a single negative comment.
I began to see myself as someone who can help others understand diversity rather than feeling like a social outcast.

Ellen taught me not to care about other people's opinions. She taught me to be truthful. She taught me to be free. I began to live my life in love and complete acceptance. For the first time I had truly accepted myself."

I really liked this book. If you know the little voice in your head trying to tell you "you shouldn't eat that fatty", "you have to have more self-discipline to be truly happy" - read this book!

xo Miriam

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Spring love

This is the best spring we have ever had since I'm in BC (10 years).  Loving it!

xo Miriam


Snooping around other blogs (which right now is my favourite thing to do, I have currently abandoned TV, books and online shopping) I have noticed that there isn't a single one that hasn't talked about hair.
Here are a few great ones: Mona's "I hate my bangs", Zoella's Hair History, and tons of great hair tutorials over at A beautiful Mess.

So here is mine.
To give you an idea about how clueless I am about hair, here is a conversation I had with my co-workers (who both have gorgeous long hair and are very talented in styling it) yesterday:

K:   "You have to try this amazing curling wand I bought, it's awesome."
R:   "My hair doesn't hold the curl very well. It takes me at least a couple hours with my curling
        iron. How long does it take with the wand?"
K:   "I use it 10-15 per section."
Me: "Oh you keep it on for 10-15 minutes?"
K+R looking at me with disbelief and pity.

Apparently your hair would catch on fire or just fall off if you use a curling iron for such a long time. I had no idea.

Here's the thing: I am clueless about hair. For the last 10 years I had it short, mainly because I wouldn't know what to do with it when it's longer. I convinced myself that I'm just not a long hair person. Pixie sounds so cute, and I truly love short hair on women.
Shorty short
Longer side bangs
But secretly I am dreaming of long hair. The word ponytail sounds so fun and cute and girly. I am obsessed with sock buns, top knots, side braids, long flowing locks. I want it. I am even willing to learn how to style it.

So I'm in the process of growing it out. And it's a real pain! I have now entered the feared "awkward stage" and I am ready to chop it all off.
These terrible pictures prove that almost all my photos are heavily edited. Now you know why.
But I have gotten so far, I can't give up now?! What do you think? Any hair growing tips or encouragement will be most gratefully received.
So far I keep myself motivated with pictures like this:
Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest
A girl can dream, right?

Here is a short hair history:

This is the only photo I could find of me with long hair. I was 10 and the tannest I have ever been I my life.
16 years old. I thought that red streak made me cool and rebellious. I'm also wearing leather pants.
22 years old. Used variations of red auburn drugstore hair dye excessively.

Growing pains

Yes I'm 33 years old and wearing pigtails. (Did I mention that I'm styling-challenged with my hair?)

Mini-Bob? Black and white makes everything look better.

 xo Miriam
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