Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

July goals

Hi there, last day of June! Summer is supposed to be just starting, but in these parts it's been going strong for a good two months. Totally crazy and not typical, yet totally awesome! 
I have the freckles to prove it: the sun is making out with my face every day (I wear SPF 30 daily, I swear). | Watermelon, the fruit of summer. 

Today I am linking up with my friend Mariah from Food, Booze, & Baggage and her group of kick-ass goal getters to maximize my month!


Maximize Your Month


You all know the power of lists, and how much more likely it is to get sh*t done when it's written down somewhere. 
But before I share my list with you, let's take a look at June, shall we?

June was a good month for us. 
It was filled with lunch dates, a memorable al fresco family dinnermeeting three ostriches, and hours upon hours spent in the shade, sipping cold drinks and enjoying life. We welcomed Donald Duck into our family, and he even did some yoga with me!
Speaking of yoga, take a look at this little video - this is what happens every.single.day., Nina barrelling into me. It does wonders for your concentration! Sadly, it's impossible to keep my mat clean, which in turn means my clothes are always getting dirty. Ah, well. #farmlife 

For Rich's birthday we went on a quickie roadtrip to Oregon where we had a fantastic dinner at the Red Star Tavern
To get an idea of what a typical day in June looked like, you can read it here: A day in my life.  

Onward and upward they say, so let's take a look at what I want to achieve in July:

Scrapbooking
Yes, you've read this right: I am joining the ranks of scrapbookers. Reading ABM daily for years must have left its mark, because suddenly I cannot wait to get started! I want to do it Project Life-style, and I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of the album and pages. My plan is to do a monthly recap, and my goal is to do all of 2015 in the next month. 
Interestingly enough, the idea for this comes from my husband - he said a little while ago that our life is so beautiful right now, we should do an album "or something" to remember it by. Say no more my love, I'm on it! Obviously I will share the results with you here. 

Swimming in the ocean   
Every year I want to swim in the ocean at least once. We live half an hour away from the beach, but I have to admit that I rarely go - most of the time I much rather hang out with the dogs at home. But in July I want to swim in the Pacific!

Go camping and speed boating
One of our friends invited us to go up to Merritt (our happy place) to go speed boating! You know how people always say "let's do this sometime", and then it never happens? Well, it's on The List, so we'll make it happen!  

Yoga
Yup, I still yoga every day, and I will continue to do so. I wish I could say I am determined to master the freestanding handstand this month, but it doesn't look promising, so I won't. No  need to set myself up for failure, right?

Write and read daily
I want to be a better writer, and all the advice I've read basically says the same: In order to be a writer, you have to write. And the more you do it, the better you will get. So this is my goal: Write something daily - either a blog post, an article, or something for the book I'm still dreaming and talking about. The second half of the assignment is the second-most popular advice I have seen: In order to be a writer, you have to be a ferocious reader. I've just started the book Us by David Nicholls, and so far I'm liking it a great deal. More book-reading to be done this month! 

Reach 200 followers on Bloglovin'
I'm so close, at 196 - if you like my blog and aren't following me on Bloglovin' yet, what are you waiting for? It would make my month if I'd break through the 200-barrier!
So go ahead, follow me
Thanks a million my friends 

And that's it! As you can see, it's all based on fun things I love to do. The reason is simple: We are not going away on holidays this summer, so I decided to pack as much joy into every day as possible! I have no pressing work goals for now, so July is all about FUN. Ticking off the items on this list shouldn't be difficult... 

What are your goals for July? Tell me and/or link up with Maximize Your Month!





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Friday, 26 June 2015

Birthday roadtrip


A few days ago Rich and I took off on another one of our quick little roadtrips, this time to Oregon. The purpose was two-fold: We wanted to buy some rabbits, and also celebrate Rich's birthday with just the two of us.

I took almost no photos, because we spent the majority of the time in the car; but it was still fun to get away for a day and a half!

Our hotel - clean and affordable
Apart from the rabbits (Rich is thrilled with them), the highlight of the trip was the dinner we had at Red Star Tavern. Neither of us had been to Portland before, and instead of researching it like any sensible person would do, I thought it would be more fun to just get there and wing it.

Maybe not the approach I would recommend, since we drove around cluelessly for an hour, being thoroughly confused by the myriad of freeways looping around and through the city. But in the end we were lucky enough to find an inexpensive hotel in the downtown area and, even better, stumbled across the Red Star Tavern. 
Photo taken from Red Star Tavern's website

With all that driving around it had gotten pretty late, and by the time we left the hotel in search of food it was after 8:30pm. The night was still warm, if a bit muggy, and we set off on foot in the direction of the Pearl District.

To be honest, we were not in the best of moods. One of us felt out of his element, looking around doubtfully, we were both hungry, and it had been a long day with more than 700 km driven. 
We had no idea where the closest restaurant was, and if it would still be open (note to self: plan ahead next time).

But then, like a beacon of hope in the night, we spied a warm, red glow in the distance:
Image found on their Instagram

With renewed energy, we quickened our pace, and were overjoyed to find out that the restaurant was still open. 
We stepped inside. 
Since it was a Tuesday night with Happy Hour over, there were only a few guests inside. However, the interior was cozy, with dark wood paneling, a gorgeous bar and an open kitchen, and we sank gratefully into the comfy leather seats. 
The friendly waitress swiftly brought us glasses of water and our drinks, and our mood brightened considerably. 

But what really made this evening memorable was the meal.
We both ordered the Chef's Dinner, which was cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious. 
It consisted of:
  • Starter: Sauvie Island Greens: Roasted beets on greens with preserved lemon-pistachio vinaigrette
  • Main: Fisherman's Stew: Gulf shrimp, mussels, halibut, potatoes, cabbage, chorizo in green chili broth
  • Dessert: Buttermilk Custard Cake and Raspberry Sorbet
I didn't take a single picture of our meal, because who has the time? As soon as someone places a plate with scrumptious-looking food in front of me I have to start eating it right away. #sorrynotsorry
If you want to take a look at Red Star Tavern's food, check out their Instagram

We spent a highly enjoyable two hours there, and left well fed and happy. The power of a good meal is not to be underestimated!

Birthday breakfast at a second-rate casino+diner - we know how to celebrate in style (#not)

The next morning we took off fairly early, because we were anxious to get our rabbits home. About an hour outside of  Portland we stopped at a Casino/diner (don't ask me why) to have breakfast.
The difference to the previous night's meal could not have been any bigger. The diner offered a sad little buffet, mediocre coffee and desperation oozing out of the shabby furniture and dirty carpet.
It felt like the quintessential cliché-diner from a roadtrip movie where you expect to either be robbed at any moment or to be confronted with a desperate guy threatening to kill himself.

Outside the window were two cop cars, and by the time we left the restaurant we saw that they had arrested and handcuffed a young guy, who was sitting in the backseat, scowling.
It was perfect.

Overall it was a great trip! Can't wait to do it again.

TGIF friends!





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Monday, 22 June 2015

An ode to pie

What do you do when it's another gorgeous day out, you have your family come for dinner and you want to celebrate not only your husband as the loving father he is, but also summer's official beginning and International Yoga Day? Why, you combine all three and create a little oasis in your favourite spot in the world. 

Since I'm currently on a little staycation with lots of free time on my hands, I decided to create an al fresco dining spot under the willow tree. 
Not only is this the place were we like most to put our feet up and relax, it is also one of my regular yoga spots.  

Roses from our garden.

 This quiche is to die for, everybody at last night's dinner said so. I got the recipe from the lovely Jenny from Jen+eric Generation. Try it! You won't regret it, I promise. 

We had a delicious dinner consisting of the aforementioned quiche, green salad, greek pasta salad and a quinoa salad (because I'm hipster like that). 

Dessert was the most incredible, famous-around-here Krause Farms Berry Custard Pie: A heavenly fresh pie piled high with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, all sitting on a rich, creamy custard filling. 

It's the kinda pie you forget to take pictures of because you can't wait to dig in.
The kinda pie you don't even mind gaining weight for, because it's so absolutely, totally worth it.
It's the kinda pie that makes you believe in unicorns, miracles and justice in the world. 
The kinda pie that you would request as a last meal, and die with a smile on your face.  (Too far? I got carried away, sorry about that.)
But seriously: BEST PIE EVER.   

Donald came for a while and had some pie crust as well (he concurs with my accolades), and of course we had the dog babies there. They are family.
It was a very relaxing, great evening with good food and conversation.

Welcome summer!


How was your weekend?






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Sunday, 21 June 2015

A day in my life


I slowly wake up from another wild dream. This time I was back in my home town, trying to catch the horse that escaped me, running all over the place desperately. I never caught it - mercifully, the birds outside my window woke me up. I can feel my little dog's round bum pressed against mine. She doesn't like to be too close, but one part of her usually touches me. 

Looking outside I see that it is another glorious summer's day. Lining them all up, they shape a beautiful necklace of flawless, perfect days, seemingly never ending. It's hard to imagine that it could ever be grey and rainy again. 

I reach for my phone, scrolling through Instagram. The colourful, cheery squares make me happy and grateful. My feed consists of stunning nature photos, inspiring yogis and travel pics from around the world. Looking through them always inspires me. 

I go into the kitchen to make coffee. Through the glass sliding doors I can see our puppy lying on top of the table, her preferred sleeping spot. She is looking at me, head cocked to the side, silently asking me if it's time to play yet - I shake my head and mouth to her: "Not yet, babygirl. Give mama time to wake up." She seems to understand, and closes her eyes again. 

The house is silent, Rich is still sleeping. I sip my coffee and plan the day that's ahead of me, bright and full of promise.   
I sit down in my happy place, in front of the computer. An idea just popped into my head, as sudden and vivid as a stroke of lightning. I start typing, only occasionally distracted by the World Wide Web looming tantalizingly close in the next tab. 

A shadow glides over my desk, and I look up and out the window. One of our herons just flew over the house, undoubtedly on her way to get breakfast for her babies. We have several heron nests on our property, and we love these ancient looking big birds. 

Rich woke up, and I make fresh juice for us. We sit together and chat for a bit. 

The dogs are up and bursting with energy, dancing around me to animate me to go out with them. I finally give in, grab my yoga mat and camera and head outside, dogs racing happily ahead. 
We go to the willow tree, me and my entourage. 

After a few minutes I find my flow, and I stay on the mat for an hour, enjoying the sun on my skin, the peace and quiet around me, the dogs frolicking beside me. This time has become sacred. As much as I love it, the practice is often frustrating, because I want too much, too soon - I'm still learning how to be patient. 

Back in the house I make some lunch, then tidy up the kitchen and put a load of laundry in the washing machine.

Rich asks me if I want to come with him to a few nurseries, and I do. We take our two dogs Lily and Nina and take off. Doing mundane, everyday things together is our favourite way to spend time with each other. We talk, we laugh, we make plans. Rarely a day goes by where we don't tell each other how lucky we are. We are grateful for each other and for the life we have created. 

It's early evening by the time we get back home. Rich feeds the animals, I put away the purchases we have made. Then I pour us each a drink and we settle down by the pond. We watch the herons and pigeons in the air, the chickens by our feet, the ducks and geese on the pond, the dogs playing. Behind us the sheep and horses are grazing peacefully.  

Later on I make us dinner, and we eat. Afterwards we watch a couple of episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" together before I go to my office to answer emails and reply to blog comments. 
After a few episodes of my latest Netflix addiction "Being Erica", it's time for bed. 

All is right with the world.  

*This is a day were none of us had to go to work. Sometimes people ask me how I spend my days off, and usually I simply say "hanging out at home". This is a more detailed description.*





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Saturday, 20 June 2015

I petted an ostrich - and I liked it

One of the great things about living with a hobby breeder is that they know a lot of other hobby breeders. And some are more adventurous than others. Take Jim, for example: Not only does he have the usual ducks, geese and swans like the rest of them, but also more exotic birds. Worth mentioning are three breeds in particular: his crown crane Phyllis, his emus, and the ostriches. 

I didn't get a good picture of Phyllis, but if you want to see what they look like just click here. What's special about her is that she adopted the babies of a pair of black swans, despite the parents being there as well. She is basically the nanny that never leaves, and follows them around everywhere. Not a bad deal for the parents, right?
This pretty bird is Eddie the Emu. I have known Eddie ever since he was a chick, which happened to be at the same time when Jim's Great Pyrenees dog was a puppy. Those two were thick as thieves, and played constantly together. I can pretty much guarantee that you have never seen anything cuter than a baby emu and a puppy playing together! Sadly I don't have any pictures, which is a shame. I'm sure Jim does though. 

They are still the best of friends now, four years later. Eddie and Karma are about the same size, 140 pounds, even though Eddie is a lot taller, about 5'5". 
Oh, and as it turned out, Eddie is actually a girl - Caitlyn got company ;-)
Jim used to have ostriches a few years ago, but sold them. After several ostrich-free years he bought new ones last week! First a couple, who were supposed to be boy and girl. As it turns out they are both girls, so he bought another one that he is fairly sure is a boy. He will have to do genetic testing to confirm it. Sexing birds is not easy, let me tell ya. 
These three are still teenagers, only a year old. They are not fully grown yet, and their feathers will change colour to mostly black. 
That's me meeting them for the first time.
 Bribing them with treats. 
I'm petting an ostrich!!
"Yes, you can stop now."
Look at those legs. 
They are fascinating birds, and I'm a little less scared of them now than I was before. They are very curious, and like to poke at shiny or brightly coloured objects. Jim's glasses in his front shirt pocket were of great interest to them, they kept trying to grab them. 

Happy weekend my friends!






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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Things you don't know about me


Today I am participating in Helene's "You probably don't know ..." link-up. Such a fun idea!

I had planned to write this post in the morning, but life happened: Reading and coffee in bed,  then procrastinating in the form of blog post reading, then paying some bills, then loading the washing machine, then yoga for an hour. As I came back into the house, determined to get right on with writing this post, Rich invited me to an impromptu sushi lunch date, and who can say no to that?
This crappy picture does the amazingness of our meal no justice. One of the best lunches in a long time! Just in case you are wondering: The delicious striped raw tuna on top of the picture is spicy tuna sahimi we shared. YUM-MY! On the bottom is my rainbow roll, to the right Rich's california roll, and it was all to die for. Also noteworthy: Rich told me to take the picture, because it all looked so pretty. I wasn't going to. People, miracles do happen!!  

While at lunch we got a phone call from one of the kids who was stranded on the highway, so we left and drove the 50 km to her. She was fine, if upset, but her truck got towed and is (most likely) fixable. After that Rich dragged me through several nurseries to do some plant shopping, and once we got home I realized that I had to buy a very belated birthday gift for one of the other kids who is coming on Sunday for Father's Day. I just got home half an hour ago, so here we are, about 9 hours behind schedule. Say what?!
Well, better late than never, right?

Which brings me to my first point:

1. I never used to be late. Now I'm turning into a late person. Living with a chronic late person for 12+ years is finally rubbing off on me. I used to be completely anal very mindful of always being on time - or better yet, 10 minutes early. Not any more. I still try, I really do, but if I'm a bit late, especially for social engagements? Oh well, worse things could happen.

2. I don't shower every day. There are several reasons for it: I don't think it's necessary (I swear, I don't smell! One word: babywipes). I also think it dries out your skin. But the main reason is the following:

3. I worry about water all.the.time. I constantly worry about that we will run out of water one day. That's the main reason why I don't want to go to Vegas, because: desert + obscene waste of water = freaked out Miriam. This is particularly difficult since I LOVE warm, sunny and dry weather. My body wants to live in the desert, but my crazy mind won't let me. Life isn't fair.

4. I have a constant fear of losing memories. My generation grew up without cellphone cameras. The horror! Which means all my wildest teenage nights and fashion mistakes (glitter in my hair, I'm talking about you) are nowhere to be found on the Internet. While this is a blessing for all of you, I sometimes feel a bit sad about the lack of photos throughout my childhood and teenage years. Even the first few years of my relationship with Rich are only very sporadically documented, which I regret. So now I'm making up for lost time with my excessive photo-taking, and share a lot on this blog and on Instagram. But what if the Internet crashes? Or my blog disappears??  I occasionally will get the urge and make a photobook, but it's still not enough. I'm seriously considering scrapbooking, and I want to scrapbook all the years I have lived here in Canada (12.5 years, nbd). Is this normal behaviour?
Don't answer that.

5. I am currently deleting 3,000+ blog emails from my email account, because the sheer volume of emails in there makes me anxious. I love decluttering, because: clear life=clear mind. Not only do I regularly declutter my closet, I do the same with text messages, emails and the piles of paper that accumulate all around our house. I will light big campfires with them, and the experience is orgasm-like.

6. I used to be unable to stand silences. When I was younger I would do anything to avoid a silence. Talk excessively, listen to music or stories on tape, turn on the TV. The worst thing that could happen to me was when my walkman (yes, I had a walkman, calm down people. I'm 35 years old) ran out of batteries halfway through my walk and I had to be alone with my thoughts for a few minutes. I couldn't stand it.
Now? It's almost the opposite. I crave silence like I crave sour candy. Sometimes, on particularly busy days with lots of people talking to me and draining my energy reserves rapidly, I have to literally dig my fingernails into my legs to stop myself from screaming. How times can change!

7. I live in a dream world half the time. And I love it. With my perfect schedule (4 days work, 4 days off) I get the best of both worlds. I truly enjoy my job as a x-ray technologist, and love the interaction with my co-workers, patients, nurses and doctors. But I also LOVE my time away from work, where I live in my own little wonderland made up of my dogs, thoughts, books, ideas, dreams and fictional characters. I need this time - it is what makes me completely, utterly and over-the-moon happy. During my downtime, anything is possible: All dreams can become reality, my book characters become my friends and my latest Netflix addiction becomes my second home.

8. I used to have short hair. Sometimes I miss it.

Don't get me wrong, I like my long(er) hair a LOT, and I won't change it. It's taking me 2.5 years to get to this point! But what I liked about my short hair is that I often was the only person in the room with short hair. It made me different, and I liked that. Also, over the years I had quite a few women compliment me on my hair, which was so sweet! It always made my day. I'm the same now: Whenever I see a woman with a great short haircut I HAVE to compliment her. It's so cool and awesome! I automatically assume they are strong, independent women, based on their hair alone, even though it has nothing to do with it. I can't help it! I will always have a soft spot for short-haired women.  
I'm now just another woman with longish hair.  

9. I often fantasize about having a psychiatrist. I mean, how awesome would that be? You can talk about yourself all day long, he has to listen and understand you, and all your irrationalities can be blamed on your childhood. Sign me up!

10. I can't finish this post with an uneven number. Do I have a number 10 point to make? Nope. Could I have stopped at number 9? Hell, no. Does that make me a first-class OCD person? Probably. 
Which simply reinforces my last point: I need therapy!

Helene in Between


Do you have some secrets to share we don't know about you? Come on, you know you want to! Spill in the comments.





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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

We all do the best we can



"She is so lazy."

"He is so unreliable."

"Why can't she ever follow through?"

"Why do I always have to organize everything?"

"Why are people so [insensitive/nosy/uncaring/selfish] *insert adjective of your choice* ?"

Do any of these statements sound familiar? How many times have you thought and/or said one of them? In my case, it has been many times. Too many to count - too many, period.

The other day I was grumbling to my husband about someone who hadn't done something. Trivial stuff.

He said the following to me that was so unexpected and profound, I have been thinking about it ever since. 
He said:
"Remember one thing: Everybody does the best they can."

Wowzer! I was silenced. I had honestly never looked at it that way. Was it true? Do we really do the best we can?

In trying to figure out if he is right I have been thinking about my own life: my job, relationship, friendships, housework, fitness, and all the other countless aspects that make up a life. While I'm sure there are lots of ways to do things better, Richard has a point: Would I know them, I undoubtedly would do them.

There is a fine line between being too hard on yourself and not being hard enough. Always berating yourself for not being better, quicker, thinner, faster, richer, further along in your career is toxic - but shouldn't we also strive to become better versions of ourselves?
While there are aspects in my life where I feel confident that I am doing the best I can, there are also some where I could improve. Or at least I think I should. So why don't I?

Because, while I think I should do more, at the same time I am doing everything I am capable of. Which brings us back to Richard's statement: I am doing the best I can.
There are lots of people who are better than me at lots of things: There are better daughters out there. Better friends. People with more patience, better listening skills, more wisdom.

While we can't change the fact that we are flawed human beings who will make mistakes, say things we might regret and laugh at the wrong moment, there is one thing we can do:
We can do our best to be better today than we were yesterday. 

I can pick up the phone and call my parents more often.
I can make more of an effort to see the people that are important to me regularly.
I can offer my support and help.
I can put my phone away when someone talks to me and give them my undivided attention.
I can stop myself from laughing at the wrong moment ... no, who am I kidding, I will never be able to do that.

While I won't always succeed in these endeavours, I will give it my best shot - after all, that's all any of us can do.

Do you agree with this statement? Or do you think some people could do or be a lot more?






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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Donald

Even if you have been married for over 10 years, there are still times when you can get all weak-kneed and heart-eyed for your husband. Today was one of those days. 
When I came home from work he pulled me to one of our many baby bird cages and excitedly showed me a little duck. 
"He hatched today, and he's so small that I would like to raise him in the house. Is that okay with you?"
Duckling
Meet Donald Duck.   
Uhm, who can say no to this little bundle of cuteness? Not me. 

But that is just the beginning. What has unfolded since is the beginning of a wonderful, heart-melting friendship between this little duck (we named him Donald) and Rich. Donald has adopted Rich as his surrogate mother, and it's the cutest thing in the world!
Duckling drinking
"He needs to drink", mama Rich says. 
Duckling
Donald feels safe in mama's big hands.
Duck-ittude
He's ready to take on the world!
Farmlife
Despite being small, he is a brave little duck.
Duckling exploring
Exploring with mama and his sister Nina...
Walking on sunshine
... walking on sunshine... 
Acro yoga with little duck
... flying in the air...
Just keep swimming
... and swimming in the big pond all by himself .

Rich has been carrying him around all evening, and right now they are both watching TV. It's melting my heart! 
Donald came out of an incubator, so he had no mother to imprint on. Rich took him under his wing (pun intended) within the first few hours of his life, and now Donald imprinted on him. 
After all these years, Rich has become a mother! ;-)

He is so excited about his little feathery child, it's too cute for words. I have fallen a bit more in love with him today ♥.

I hope you had a love-filled Sunday!






Click here to see Donald as a teenager.

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