Saturday 30 August 2014

August pictures

243. That's how many pictures I have taken for my 365 challenge so far. Which means I have completed 66% of it! That number is only a small percentage of the amount of photos I have taken this year, which is completely amazing. I am sure that I have taken more pictures in 2014 alone than all the photos combined from my entire life before. Crazy, isn't it?? 
That's the cool thing about these sort of projects: A small decision to stick to something can lead to a new passion. There are 122 more days to go - I've got this!

 Blogging is my cardio
Happy place
Thirsty Susans
Our sweet Blue
 Miss Sheila
Sheep hanging out by the pond
First beer of our Germany vacation
 Beach party (where I got thrown into the pool)
German Autobahn
Singing with my niece
Fat tiger
Colourful statue
Kick-ass bun
 Scenes from the Schuetzenfest: goosestepping, dirndls, German flag and hand-knitted socks
 Tractor ride
Neil taking a sandbath
Peaceful pigeons
 Playful friends
Dog days of summer
Pretty evening sky
Beauty is all around us
Lily relaxing by the pond

August was a colourful, fun month! But I have to say, I'm glad to slow down now. This first week back at work has knocked the stuffing right out of me, and I feel worn out and exhausted. It's time to get back into the routine of working again, plus I also have a few projects planned around the house, and I am brainstorming ideas for the blog (always). Here is to a productive September!

xo Miriam 

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Thursday 28 August 2014

Style: Dog days of summer

Guys, it's still beautifully hot. I love it, and I sincerely hope that fall will take its time to make an appearance - I'm not ready for scarves and tights just yet!
These photos are inspired by this post from Emma and Elsie at A Beautiful Mess. They are amazingly creative coming up with new photo ideas, and I loved that one that their photographer Sarah dreamed up. 

All my editing is done with PicMonkey and befunky, it's pretty easy! Let me know in the comments if you would like to know how. 

Shoes: Coach (thrifted); shorts: Winners; top: Old Navy; belt: American Eagle (old); headscarf: belt from shorts; sunnies: anciently old (and cheap) - from Otter Co-op (our neighbourhood grocery store that also sells clothes and accessories - so awesome)
(Wow, not a single link, sorry guys. Old clothes are my thing?) 

xoxo Miriam

Linking up with Lena B, actuallyTransatlantic Blonde and Style Elixir

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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Save the other half for pleasure and adventure

Being in Germany always gives me major flashbacks to my years as a teenager. I was taught that work is all-important, naps are for sissies, and being lazy is the worst thing a person can be. 
It took me many, many years to be able to enjoy doing nothing guilt-free. But now? Now I have become very good at it. I can leave the dishes till tomorrow. Let the grass grow another week before I will eventually mow it - or better yet, let the geese take care of it for us. (Geese love grass and are amazingly efficient grass mowers, almost as good as horses.) Say no to extra work, because I have better things to do, like hanging out with the dogs, enjoying the sunshine and watch the pigeons fly.

I came across this quote this morning, and it just summed up my new attitude nicely. I didn't know who Edward Abbey was, but I like his style!

"One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. 
It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. 
So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. 

Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. 
I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards." 
(Edward Abbey) 

Love, Miriam

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Tuesday 26 August 2014

Party people (Germany, part deux)

As promised, here is the second part of our trip to Germany. Having three of the girls there with us made it super-special this time around. We had such a fun time!

That bun! Stef did it just with backcombing and lots of bobby pins, and I loved that bun so very much. I wanted to keep it forever. 
Not camera ready. 
Definitely not camera ready. 

Goosestepping during the parade
During Schuetzenfest, the entire town is in party mode. It's all about lighthearted fun, eating, dancing and drinking. No talking about heavy stuff, it's all about forgetting your sorrows and having lots of laughs! It is sort of like an escape from reality for a few days. 
My Oma loves knitting, and keeps giving us more hand-knitted socks. I love them! 
Richard's old tractor. What a beaut!
Tractor ride. It was bumpy (oh-so-bumpy), but so much fun! We managed to fit all five of us on there. Quite a feat!

So much beer, bread and butter was consumed, we are currently all on a veggies-and-water binge. But it was totally worth it!

xo Miriam  

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Monday 25 August 2014

Choices and regrets


Last Saturday we were invited to old friends of ours for a little dinner party. They are "old" in both senses of the word: Rich has known them for over 30 years, and their average age is somewhere in the 60s. I find it fortunate to have friends of that age, because you can see the other side of the story: what happens after the kids are grown up, retirement has started, and how to deal with the uncomfortable awareness of having lived more years than the ones that are left.

We had a delicious dinner, plenty of wine, and after they all settled in with their glasses of 12-year old scotch, one friend raised this question: "If you could do it all over again, what would you change? If you could do or have anything in the world, what would it be?"

Oh, how I love those questions. Unfortunately, not everyone shared my enthusiasm: half of the party declined to answer, and the other half was split between "I don't think like that" and claims of wanting to be in a movie with George Clooney, having a voice like Andrea Bocelli and winning the boxing world championships. 

The questioner wasn't that satisfied either, and it petered out before it was my turn. Not that anybody seemed that interested anyway - in their eyes I still have plenty of time to achieve my dreams, and you know what? They are right. 

All day yesterday I thought about choices, dreams, and missed opportunities. I am a firm believer in not having regrets about the past. We can't change it - whatever happened, even if we consider it to have been a mistake, I believe we can learn from it. Everybody makes mistakes - the trick is to not dwell on it and move on. 

When you look at people's paths in life, at lot of it seems determined by circumstance. We pick our friends amongst our classmates, neighbours and colleagues. Jobs are often chosen based on family expectations or history. Where we live, when we start families, even what house or car we buy - how much is really our free choice? Are we doing these things because our environment influences us, or because we really want to do them ourselves?
I realize that everybody is influenced by their surroundings, and by no means is that a bad thing. We all need role models and support. 
However, it does become a bad thing when you are suddenly 65 years old, and are hit by the realization that, if given the chance, you would go back in time and choose differently. Our friend worded it like that: "There are at least 5 or 6 instances where I would have liked to go left instead of right." 

Knowing what we really want in life is way harder than it seems. It involves a lot of soul searching, thinking, evaluating, and reflecting. During those busy years when we have jobs, spouses, children and mortgages, it is easy to avoid asking those questions. Who has the time? You have enough to do to get all those countless tasks done day after day. Asking yourself what you want from life seems like an indulgence, a question for people who have nothing better to do.

Nevertheless, I think it is so, so important to ask these questions. If you are happy where you are, that's wonderful! Contentment and happiness in yourself is the best thing there is, and something that we all strive for.

But maybe you sometimes get that nagging sense of "Is that it? Is that what my life is gonna look like?". Or a feeling of restlessness. Or you realize that you actually don't like your job at all, the neighbourhood you live in, or having to work all those extra hours just to be able to pay the mortgage on a house that's maybe too big and expensive for you?
What I'm trying to say is, if you get these little voices in your head, don't ignore them. Because they won't go away. As you get older, they will get more persistent. I have met so many people that have become bitter over the years, because they are stuck in a life that they don't like.

While I don't believe in regrets over things we have done, I do believe in regrets over things we haven't done. Missed opportunities can haunt you.


I once read the Top 5 regrets of the Dying, and it has stayed with me ever since. They are as follows:

- I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
- I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
- I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 
- I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

Don't wait until it is too late. Learn from the mistakes others have made before us. Find out what makes you happy, and go for it! So that one day in 30 years, when someone asks you what you would change if you could, you can honestly say: "Nothing at all."

xoxo Miriam

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Saturday 23 August 2014

Germany, part one: Rothenburg ob der Tauber

This morning I woke up the best way possible: with the Corgi by my side and a blog post forming in my head. Oh, how I missed those simple pleasures! Lily spent the last two weeks outside with the big dogs, and it looks like she had a great vacation as well - she wasn't upset in the least that we left her for that time, but looked happy and healthy. Our reunion was just beautiful, she was ecstatic - but nothing compared to how I felt. #crazydogmom

Being happy to be home is one of the best things about being away, don't you think?
In my instance, that wasn't always the case. I remember vividly how I was sitting in the backseat of my friend's parent's car, aged 10, sobbing bitter tears because we had to return home. (I had my first major crush on my friend's 14-year old cousin and couldn't bear the thought of never seeing him again. I shouldn't have worried, since I did see him again a few months later - but our romance was not to be. I was devastated.)
Seven years later, there was another vacation, this time to the south of France with the entire school class, and once again I didn't want to leave. (Yes, there was another boy involved. This time with a happier ending: We dated for over 2 years and had a very happy relationship. I still think of him fondly.)

The conclusion to draw from this is simple: Take your man with you! Which is what I did, and what made going home such a joyful experience. 

But before I get stuck waxing poetic about the joys of home, let's take a look at the vacation, shall we? I took quite a few pictures, and decided to split the recap into three parts. There will be a post dedicated to the party part of the trip (so fun!), one more about the family part, and today's: Rothenburg ob der Tauber. 

Trips home can be exhausting. It may sound weird, but I'm not the best at "visiting". Sitting together for hours on end, day after day, telling similar stories to different people, is exhausting to me. Add to that some old problems that may resurface, and it can be downright stressful. To avoid this, we had decided to take a couple of days just for us, and did a little detour to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The city is world-famous and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists a year. I used to go there as a child with my family, and decided way back then that I would one day return with my future husband. This dream became reality, and we had a wonderful time!

That first night when we arrived, we strolled around amongst the other tourists, and settled down at the market square for a few glasses of wine. The night was warm and the air soft, and it felt like we were somewhere in Italy, not Germany. It was so romantic!

You can do nightly tours with the night watchman. We were tempted, but decided against it. The wine was too good.
 Those German bakeries are amazing. It's bread and pastry heaven!
 Ditto for the butcher shops. If you love sausages, you have to go there.
Rothenburg still has a city wall around the old part of the town. You can walk along parts of it, which is what I did. Great views of the town and people's back yards! ;-)

That's it for part one! I tried to narrow the photos down, and this is as narrow as I could do it. That city is just so beautiful! Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

xo Miriam

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