Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Weekly highlights: a little bit of everything

Our first full week home since Germany. Despite that persistent cough I can't shake, it was a good week. It had special little moments every day!

Here's last week's highlights:


Friday, August 23rd
We currently have a special houseguest! Meet Jeremiah Leroy, Stef's black bear hamster. We had our differences in the past (he hissed at me and we had a Mexican standoff* one time), but now we are the best of friends. He's so cute!

* The Mexican standoff incident: When Leroy was just a baby, before he went to Stef's house, he spent a couple days at our place. On the second day he escaped his cage and hid under the bookshelf. Because of his hissing and our uneasy relationship (i.e. me being scared of a creature the size of a goldfish) I didn't wanna retrieve him with my bare hands; I went to get a net. Obviously, by the time I got back he was gone.
In the hopes of catching him I trailed around the house, net firmly in hand;  and looky here, when I came up the stairs, here he was, on a step above me!
For a moment (which felt like hours!) he stared at me, I stared at him - and then I caught him with the net.
Leroy-1, Miriam-1. We are even little buddy.

Saturday, August 24th
I'm back to my walk and shoots, and I love it. This season is the most perfect for it: The weather is not too hot any more for Snowy's fluffy big fur, and nature changes every day. Photo opportunities abound!

Sunday, August 25th
Sunday was for relaxing: We spent some time under the willow tree, played with the dogs, and watched Dexter and Ray Donovan (so so good, both of them!). Plus we had two of the four kids over for a visit! A really nice Sunday.

Monday, August 26th
Sour candy at work! And look how pretty it is wrapped up, almost too good to eat. (Ha! Who am I kidding? I wolfed down that bad boy in 5 minutes flat.)

Tuesday, August 27th
O-M-G!!! This was definitely the highlight of the week. Or the year! My German mother-in-law (who, for reasons only known to herself, calls me "Mirija" instead of Miriam) made me a compliment! She told Rich that I wear very nice clothes!! For a German, that's H-U-G-E. This may very well be the first and last compliment ever, so I shall cherish it forever.

Wednesday, August 28th
I was at home, doing housewifey things like laundry, ironing, and cooking dinner for my man. Simple pleasures.

Thursday, August 29th
I got my A Beautiful Mess book in the mail! It is amazing. Especially their ideas to show off photos - on coasters, gift wrap, magnets, pillows, suitcases... their creativity knows no bounds! I would love to hang with these girls for a day. Serious fangirl over here!

And that's it!

Hope your weekend will be spectacular.

Love, Miriam


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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A mother-in-law's compliment

It's a humpday miracle!

My mother-in-law (who, for reasons only known to herself, calls me "Mirija" instead of Miriam) made me a compliment!

She obviously didn't tell me personally (Germans only have an approximate life-supply of about 10 direct compliments and are very careful in giving them out), but who cares. Mama-in-law told Richard that I wear very nice clothes!!

Call the newspapers, that will never happen again.

Hope your day will bring an unexpected happy surprise!

xx Miriam
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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Paths of Glory

Do you like adventure? A beautiful love story? A British accent?
If the answer to all three (or even just one or two) is yes, then you have to read this book. Or better still, listen to it. I have done both, and both experiences were highly enjoyable - but Roger Allam, the reader of the audiobook, enriches the story tenfold with his warm, appealing voice and soft British accent. Take a listen:

Aaah, I could listen to him for hours! Don't you?

Jeffrey Archer is one of my favourite authors. I have read many of his books (to name a few: First Among Equals; Kane and Abel; A Prisoner of Birth; The Clifton Chronicles) and enjoyed them all, but this one is amongst my top 3.
Paths of Glory is based on the true story of George Mallory, a remarkable man who loved two women in his life - and was killed by one of them.

George Mallory (source)
He was one of the most accomplished climbers of all time, and it was his life's ambition to become the first man standing on top of the earth - on Mount Everest.
When asked why, Mallory famously answered: "Because it is there."

Mount Everest, "goddess of the earth" (Chomolungma in Tibetan, which is how George referred to it) is the highest mountain on earth at 8,848m above sea level. 
Mount Everest (source)
Mallory attempted the assault three times, and was last seen in 1924, 600 feet from the top. Nobody knows for sure if he made it to the summit or not.

Here is a short video that I found on YouTube; I believe it is part of the film The Epic of Everest that was made by a member of the 1924 expedition, John Noel.


George Mallory's body was found 75 years later, bleached to alabaster, with his right tibia and fibula broken and right elbow dislocated. The team who found him searched his pockets for one important item: A photograph of his beloved wife Ruth that he had vowed to leave on the summit.

Ruth and George (source)
But despite his wallet and papers being intact, the photo wasn't found.

Does that mean that Mallory and his climbing partner Sandy Irvine made it to the top, 29 years before the official conquest of Everest?
(Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay are the official first men reaching the summit in 1953.)

It is one of the great mysteries of mountaineering that will likely never be solved.

Base camp: Irvine and Mallory, back row left (source)
But let me start at the beginning:
Mallory was born in 1886 in England. His parents discovered early on that their son was special: He seemed to have no fear whatsoever. Little George was fascinated by heights: He climbed on rocks, roofs, hills - whatever highest point he could find. The older he got, the more intense became his passion.

As a young man visiting Paris he allegedly climbed the Eiffel Tower, and shortly after that scaled St. Mark's Basilica in Venice to impress his future wife Ruth.

The love story of Ruth and George is wonderful. It is one of the main focal points of the story and describes a deep, true love and great romance. They adored each other and wrote long letters to each other when they were apart; leaving Ruth was incredibly hard for George, but his obsession with his "lady" Everest was greater.

That obsession killed him at the age of 37.

But to Mallory, I think it was a price worth paying. He once said:
“So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”  

Here is an excellent video where the Anthropologist Wade Davis describes the mindset of the men that lived during and after World War I; what made them crave going on this big, dangerous adventure.


I find it fascinating to learn about people with such wild dreams.
Who so much believe in themselves that they attempt the seemingly impossible.

Even though I would never willingly risk my life, I would like to be more like these adventurers: brave, inspired, daring.
Just as Mallory said:
"What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life."

xo Miriam
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Monday, 26 August 2013

That 70s disaster


This was supposed to be an outfit post.

You know, since I'm still trying to keep up the resemblance of some sort of schedule and decided in my Canada day euphoria that a weekly outfit post would be realistic and totally doable.
Let's just say - it's not going well. The last one I did was 3 weeks ago.

My camera, perfectly happy to take decent pictures of animals, landscapes and most inanimate pictures, goes all diva on me when I set the timer and point it at me. Unsharp, blurry, pixelated - you name it, it does it. The lighting in our house isn't good (seriously, in the entire house) - as much as I like its cave-like, womb-y feeling, it creates a problem when trying to take photos.

Oh well. Live and learn they say, so I just gotta keep at it in the hopes of finding a solution and getting better.

I see a tripod and remote in my future... But until then, please excuse the questionable quality of these gems.


Instead, let's focus on that ace 70s laminate, shall we? That's the flooring we currently have in our "disaster room" since the flood debacle made it necessary to rip out the carpet. That's what we found underneath. 
I actually kinda like it, but I'm the only one in the family - it's only a matter of time before it will disappear. Hence my attempt of making it immortal by photographing it. Did you notice that, while I look pretty blurry in all of these, the laminate looks pretty good? I guess the loud pattern forced the focus down, down, down.
 
Okay, on to the outfit, which is my transition from summer to fall: Shorts (Old Navy), sweater (Garage), and my Lotta clogs.
Then I would like to draw your eye to the top of my head: There's a tiny little bun!
I can almost do buns!! Never mind that half my hair falls out on the bottom since it's still too short - the bun is in my near future. I am psyched!!

xo Miriam
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Blogtember is coming up!

It's Monday. Ugh.
My own coughing woke me up which is simply not an acceptable start into the new week.
Why can't I shake this effing cough? I sure hope it's at least working my abdominal muscles, God knows I need some toning in that area.

(Germany was a salt-,deepfried-, carb- and beerfest.)

Vitamin C, you are my best friend and ally these days, please do your job and chase the evil cough viruses out of town.

On a happier note (there is always a happier note), I discovered a new blog a couple of days ago through the Better Blogger Network.
In case you haven't heard of BBN, it is an online community for bloggers where you can network, ask questions, link up with other members, and generally find support. It's a great place to hang out with extremely helpful people answering any questions you may have!

I joined about one month into my blogging journey, but have only participated sporadically so far. There is no reason for it - maybe subconsciously I wanted to make sure I'm gonna stick to blogging before I start networking in earnest? Who knows.

Anyways, since this little blog of mine has become such an important part of my life I am committing myself to networking more and reaching out to the community. (Even though the little shy girl in me wants to stay quietly in her corner, hoping yet being terrified at the same time that someone will notice me. It's all about taking chances in life, right?)

Okay, back to that blog I mentioned. I love finding new blogs, especially when something clicks and you feel an instant connection. It feels like that person speaks directly to you. What joy!

The person I am talking about is Jenni from Story of My Life. She is gorgeous, a self-proclaimed oversharer (a huge plus in my book!), and a beautiful writer. Can't wait to read more, I really like what I have discovered so far.

What really excited me was her Blog-every-day-in-May challenge. I love challenges, she had fantastic topics, and I was determined to do it all by myself, 4 months late, just for the fun of it.

So imagine my delight when I discovered this morning that Jenni has issued a new challenge! Is that serendipity or what?!
Now I can participate with a whole lot of other people (which is way less pathetic than doing it alone), read what they come up with, and feel like I'm back in school again, writing an essay every day. Very fitting for September, don't you think?

Ladies and gentlemen gentleman (I only know of one guy who reads my ramblings once in a while - shoutout to T-shirt T.!), may I present to you:


Tuesday, Sept. 3: Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.

Wednesday, September 4: If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do? (bonus points for fun photos from Pinterest, but don't forget to cite the source!)

Thursday, September 5: Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered. 

Friday, September 6: A story about a time you were very afraid.

Monday, September 9: Take this short personality test and respond to your results. (at the end, find the detailed profile of your personality account - click "click to view" under "You" and "self awareness and personal growth." You can even google your type and find more info on it!)

Tuesday, September 10: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.

Wednesday, September 11: Share links to your favorite online shops, preferably with a few photos of your favorite items in each shop.

Thursday, September 12: Discuss ways that blogging or social media has changed you.

Friday, September 13: A self portrait

Monday, September 16: Write a public love letter to someone in your life. (It doesn't necessarily need to be romantic.)

Tuesday, September 17: A memory you would love to relive.

Wednesday, September 18: Only photos

Thursday, September 19: Creative writing day: write a (very short) fictional story that starts with this sentence: "To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century."

The story does not necessarily need to have a conclusion - you can leave your readers wishing for more!

Friday, September 20: React to this term: comfort. 

Monday, September 23: A "life lately" post. What you're up to, how you're feeling, how you're doing on your goals, etc. Bonus points for great photos!

Tuesday, September 24: Review a book, place, or product.

Wednesday, September 25: Write about a time you screwed up - a mistake you made. 

Thursday, September 26: Go to a coffee shop. Order a favorite drink. Write about what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Or write about anything you'd like! Bonus points for including a photo from the coffee shop. (I recommend downloading Ommwriter and bringing headphones along!) *if you can't make it to a coffee shop, at least leave your usual space and write someplace new.

Friday, September 27: An anonymous letter to your Facebook friends. Be as snarky as you'd like. (but don't include people's real names.) 

Monday, September 30: Share a photo of something old. Maybe something that has personal history for you, that was passed down to you, and that has special meaning to you. Tell us about it and why it's special


Aren't they great? Thought-provoking, some deep, some light, with lots of room for your own interpretation. I'm stoked!

This challenge officially starts after Labour Day, so a week from tomorrow. I may or may not start on some of these already - I'm eager beaver like that.

Who wants to join in? Check out Jenni's Blogtember challenge, she will have a daily link-up so we can all see what other people are writing.

I wish you all a happy, cough-free Monday!

Love, Miriam
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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Golden Sunday

Happy Sunday!
Finally, finally a day for relaxation! I'm off today, and enjoying it thoroughly.
Spent the morning in bed, catching up on my favourite blogs; walked with my baby; spent some quality time with the hubster under the willow tree.
We are both so thankful for this place and country we live in; always appreciate it so much more after traveling.

I have a ton of plans for fall: re-painting the majority of our home; a new blogging challenge (which I will share here soon!), some camping trips, maybe even starting a new hobby (hello sewing...) - it's exciting! I also intend to get into a yoga routine again, and of course continue with my daily walks.

Too much? We shall see... :-)

What are your plans for the new season?

xo Miriam
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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Seasons are changing

I'm getting back into my habit of walking every day. That routine always suffers during the summer: heat, lazy days and being outside all the time make it easy to neglect exercise.
But I miss it, and so does Snowy!

Since we've been back from Germany I have noticed a definite change around here - fall is approaching. I love this time of the year! Show me a place where it's fall all year round and I'll move there in a heartbeat.
Warm, sunny days, crisp evenings, ripe fruit, golden leaves - what's not to love? All the spider webs everywhere make me feel like we live in Harry Potter's world which is always a bonus.

Yesterday I did one of my fave things in the world: walked, snapped pictures with my cellphone, and listened to a new audiobook. Life is good!


xo Miriam
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Friday, 23 August 2013

Weekly highlights: Beerfest!

Let me introduce you to a new weekly feature: Weekly highlights!
I shamelessly stole this idea from the adorable Allison over at The Curious Cupcake who shares her weekly tidbits in form of sharing a picture a day. I LOVE it.
You have to check her out! She's a professional photographer and I'm a huge fan of her photography. It's stunning! Her blog layout is one of the prettiest I know and she's a super-cool chick. Definitely one of my bloggy crushes!

Allison, I hope you believe in the sentiment that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, because I am imitating you. Shamelessly. (Well, there is some shame.)

I may have mentioned it before, but I have a terrible memory. That's one of the reasons why I started this blog to begin with. So I know what I'm up to everyday. Otherwise, whenever people ask me what's new, I never have an answer because I can't think of anything.
Plus I really like taking stock, analyzing things, making lists.

This little weekly summary is perfect! I will know what happened that week, be grateful for the little things that make every day special, and satisfy my addiction to list-making.

So here are the highlights of the last 7 days:


Friday, August 16th
First day of Schützenfest. Lea and I coordinated our outfits and were, according to her, "the hottest bitches in that tent". Gotta love teenage cockiness! I was mistaken as Richard's daughter which is always fun, and complimented twice on my excellent German (by the end of the trip, that number had gone up to 5). Folks there kept thinking I'm Canadian, which to me is the biggest compliment of them all.

Saturday, August 17
There was beer. A lot of it. That's really all I can say about that day.
Oh wait, that's not true: Lea and I went for a bike ride, got our nails done, did a bit of shopping (I spent a grand total of €5.99, such a good girl), watched the first one of many parades, danced.

Sunday, August 18
Read this book in one day. It's so addictive! And amazing!! If you liked the Hunger Games, you'll like this one for sure.

Monday, August 19
That was the day we wore our traditional outfits, the "dirndl". It was lady's day, meaning we had brunch at the "king's" house, were the main attraction of the parade, got free drinks and did some more dancing and French fry-eating. There was a lot of French fry-eating on this trip.

Tuesday, August 20
Last day of the Schützenfest and last day of our vacation. We had coffee with a few more relatives, and then went to the tent for a last hurrah. Nothing crazy though since we had to leave at 7am the next morning.

Wednesday, August 21
Travel day. I didn't take any pictures since we spent all day either in a car, at the airport or in the plane. But I watched the Cirque du Soleil movie on the plane and it was magical.

Thursday, August 22
Home sweet home! Back to my 4-legged babies, the warm soft air, my own bed and favourite inanimate object, my laptop. Oh how I missed thee!
Did a mountain of laundry, caught up on Dexter and Ray Donovan, and went for a walk with my darling Snowy who promptly defended me against a pretty big dog who had gotten loose. I missed this life.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miriam (slightly jetlagged, coughing and sneezing, but happy Canadian who speaks "such good German")
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