Hey out there!

Hello All!

How goes your summer? Seems to me that the clock speeds up from Canada Day through to Labour Day. It’s hard to keep up with events and activities, and harder still to reflect on them and keep them in memory. Here’s a quick post from me, in an attempt to do both those things.

We went to a very pleasant Canada Day barbcue where the food and company were top notch. One of the guests is an organizer of the Ferguson Memorial Walk, an activity day, and walk in support of Orangeville’s Family Transition Place, and the White Ribbon Campaign.

As the evening got darker, I saw something I have never seen before. Across the back yard, our host held up something large and white, it looked like a garbage bag.  At the bottom of the bag was a sort of lantern, and a young partygoer was lighting this lantern with a long bbq lighter. It took at least a minute to get the flame going. A couple of minutes later, the large bag filled with hot air, and rose off the ground, into the sky. It looked wonderful, rising very quickly and moving out of view over the trees. Here’s the photo I snapped.

Flying Lantern

Very cool! Now, there was some discussion about whether launching such a thing was a safe idea. The packaging assured us the lantern was completely biodegradable, but we were also worried about it catching trees on fire, or causing a hazard to aviation, or to bats. What do you think? Have you seen these?

We ended the evening with a distant view of the Orangeville fireworks. A very satisfactory night out.

On a roll for being social, we made a date with our kids to see the Picasso exhibit at the AGO in Toronto. This was a fantastic exhibit. Picasso is an artist who can provoke a response from everyone. What a fertile creative life! The exhibit is on till the end of the summer, see it if you can. We went at 10am on a Tuesday and found that to be an ideal, quiet time to go. Some advice I wish I had followed:  check the free program that you’re given on entry to the exhibit. It lists the locations of Picasso items in the AGO’s collections outside of the exhibit. Although you can see these whenever you happen to be at the AGO, I think they might be especially interesting to see immediately after viewing this exhibit.

Art Gallery of Ontario, Galleria Italiano

The exhibit exits into this lovely space, the Galleria Italiano. Nice place to hang out while waiting for trailing family members. Photo by bobcatnorth, from Flickr.

After 2 hours of the Picassos, we didn’t spend much more time at the gallery. But we did go to see the William Kurelek room. His paintings fascinate me. In order to get to his room, we passed quickly through several other Canadian galleries, largely empty except for the iconic paintings. I resolve to return, soon. On a Tuesday.

All for now,

Elizabeth

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Creatively Yours: Gratitude for a New Year

Journal Entry

image by JoelMontes, from Flickr

There has been much written in the past few years about gratitude and how being grateful opens the doors to abundance. Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book Simple Abundance, suggests we keep a gratitude journal and on a daily basis write five things we are grateful for. She suggests that over time you will find that the small, simple, overlooked things are what give us the most happiness. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and guru of happiness, is also a gratitude advocate.  She says,  “Gratitude is the key to happiness. Consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives.”

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage talks about the “Three Good Things” exercise, suggesting we keep a journal of three good things that happen to us each day. He calls this the “Positive Tetris Effect” which simply means that when we think about positive things we see things in a more positive light, which leads to more positive experiences, which creates more happiness. And, when we are happy we create more positive experiences – and so on.  And who wouldn’t want to feel happier?

But like many other good ideas, it is a matter of choosing something and sticking with it long enough to notice the benefits. Achor suggests that we need to do something for 21 days before it becomes a habit. So there is the challenge! Will you do what you set out to do (your new year’s resolutions or goals) for 21 days to achieve the benefits?

As I mentioned in my December blog post Before the Clock Strikes 12I am not big on resolutions and prefer to pick a theme to focus us.  So for 2012 I have decided that the theme will be gratitude.  Equipped with a beautiful leather bound journal and sparkly pink pen, I started my gratitude journal today.  Day one – check mark!  I’ll let you know how it’s going in 21 days!  And for those of you who have made resolutions or goals for 2012, and those who didn’t – I wish you much happiness and success, and I am grateful for your readership of our blog in 2011 and hope you continue to tune in during 2012!

Creatively yours,

Angela

Moleskine Journal Hack

image by budcaddell, from Flickr

New Year’s Resolutions After the Fact

stalled resolutions

Stalled Resolutions by ruffin_ready, from Flickr

As we move into the third week of January, I’m thinking it is time to address the concept of New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s resolutions were first recorded by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.  The focus of these resolutions was to ensure the return of farm equipment as the new year coincided with the start of a new farming season.  The New Year was moved from March to January by the Romans who spent their time counting stock from the previous year so that more ambitious goals could be set in the following year.  The Chinese equated New Year’s resolutions with house cleaning, viewing the new year as a time to clean the house from top to bottom.

Modern day resolutions can be defined as “a formal expression of intent” or “commitment to a personal goal.”  Resolutions almost always focus on self-improvement by making changes in habits and lifestyles.

At the end of the Depression, about ¼ of American adults made New Year’s resolutions.  By the start of the 21st century, about 40 per cent made resolutions.  Only about 10 percent of those that make resolutions actually keep them.

I’m personally not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  Any of my “bad habits” that I should change, I am really not that interested in changing.

The problem with most people who make resolutions is that they set goals that are not sustainable.  Let me give you an example.  One of the goals that most people make is to exercise more.  First of all, the goal needs to be tangible.  What does exercise more look like?  The more tangible the goal, the easier it is to attain.  So say your goal is to exercise three times a week.  What kind of exercise will you do?  Often people will choose an exercise that they hear is great to lose weight (running?) or a place to exercise (because apparently the Club has good equipment).  If you don’t like a particular form of exercise, DO NOT DO IT!  If you are not a runner but perhaps you love to dance, then dance!  Don’t join a club because your friend enjoys it.  People are Club exercisers or they are not.  Find out what you like to do, where you like to do it, and set a tangible, measurable, realistic goal.

Same thing for diet!  As most of you know, I love wine, broccoli and ice cream.  I probably consume too much of all three but if that’s my biggest food and drink issue, oh well!

Rather than taking away things from your diet, try to add.  For example, try to add more veggies to your diet (or in my case, variety of vegetables).  Try to drink more water (one glass every time I brush my teeth) and never be hungry (carry nuts with you at all times).

So my external goals are simple:  eat more kale and swiss chard, drink more green tea and add those dead lifts to your weight lifting routine at least three times a week.

How’s that for setting goals?  Internal goals to follow!

Laurie

p.s.  Resolutions are more sustainable if you share!

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution by mikecogh, from Flickr

Creatively Yours: Before the clock strikes 12!

shirley temple new year 1937

image by carbonated, from flickr

The count down is on – three more days and the New Year will be here!  I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t spend much time thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I might pick one thing I want to focus on and in 2011 it was happiness! I started the year off by reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project and made myself a promise to “work” at being happier. According to Gretchen there are things we can do to create more happiness in our lives. I tried some of her suggestions but then decided that I would find my own path to happiness. As the year passed I found myself more aware of what created happiness in my life. A few key things that I am certain increased my happiness quotient this year are:

Peace in my relationships with my husband, children, family and friends. It takes work but it pays dividends!

Getting off the couch and getting regular exercise – walking is my new sport of choice!

Getting involved with a cause I believe in – Art for Cancer http://artforcancerfoundation.org

Making art! Any day is a good day when I create something!

Spending time alone, or in the company of my dog Jessie.

Saying yes to new challenges like biking, hiking and riding horses even when my mind and body agree: “this is going to hurt afterwards.”

Writing for this blog!  I could never have guessed that I would enjoy writing as a creative outlet!

Writing letters to my children!  See my October 24, 2011 blog post Letters from my Mother for why you might want to consider doing this.

Rediscovering meditation – the ultimate gateway to happiness!

So rather than thinking about resolutions for 2012, I will ring in the New Year enjoying the happiness that I have right now. And that I believe creates more happiness than losing 10 pounds!

Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!

Creatively yours,

Angela

p.s. if  you want to know the one thing I will focus on for 2012, you will have to read about it in January!

Making and doing

Hi Everyone,

I follow quite a few blogs which are about garment sewing as a hobby.  These are generally by women who are interested in creating their own wardrobes, sewn to fit properly and to complement their hair, complexion, and sense of style.  So they’ve thought a lot about what suits them, and what they need in their closets.  Turns out there is a wealth of info out there to help us understand how to build a wardrobe, whether we sew our clothing, or we buy it.

One of the blogs I read is by a New York City sewing pattern designer, Liesl.  Her company, called Lisette, creates patterns and fabrics for women and children.  Recently she posted about the fashion blogs she follows.  Here is her list.  Note she includes a blog I’ve mentioned to you before:  Advanced Style.  Check it out, it will make you happy.

Speaking of happiness, our creativity group got together the other day to make Christmas wreaths (the idea came from a pin on Pinterest, connected to this blog post).  Three out of four were completed in around two hours.  I didn’t get mine finished, but hope I will soon.  Feast your eyes on these three finished products:

Julie's wreath
Laurie's wreath
Dana's wreath

The use of non-breakable balls with attached top pieces (those eyes through which the string is attached) made these pretty breezy to make.  I especially like how each wreath speaks about the home decor of its maker.

Later this past week, Julie showed me the bows she made out of magazine pages.  She found this craft through Pinterest, as well (here’s a link to the original blog post with instructions).  Here’s a photo of Julie’s bows, snapped on top of her trumpet case.  Of course, I went straight home and made a bow myself.  Paper, scissors and glue:  I’ll never get over you.

Julie's magazine page bows

So ladies and gents, what have your own busy hands been up to lately?

Bye for now,

Elizabeth

P.S. Go back to this blog post if you’re wondering about this Pinterest thing.

Summer Pleasures

Hi All,

Laurie, Angela and I have been reflecting on the events and experiences of the summer of 2011, and have each chosen three elements that made us happy.

Here’s Laurie‘s take (which she wrote the last week of August):

Reflections on A Summer Gone By

Although we are still in the month of August and the thermometer reads just below 20 degrees Celsius, there is no question that Fall is in the air.

Elizabeth and I were reflecting on the summer as we made our way along our weekly Island Lake Trail Walk.  More people than usual were on the trail and all seemed in good spirits.  The skies were somewhat overcast and the temperature was cooler than it had been.  It seems to me that people were starting to gear up for Fall.

Normally in the latter part of August, I would be listing all those “things” I wanted to accomplish come September.  For some reason, this was not happening this year.  I guess this can be interpreted one of two ways. Either I am completely unmotivated or I am just content with the way life is moving along and I am not in a hurry to structure into Fall.

During our morning discussion, Elizabeth asked what the three best things that happened this summer were.  I thought about her question for a moment and then decided I would interpret the question to mean what are the best three things about summer?  Here are my top three:

  1. Sitting by the pond drinking a nice strong cup of coffee in the morning after a hike in the woods.
  2. Listening to the sounds of the forest at night.
  3. Hanging out clothes on my clothes line (if you have never done this, you are really missing out).
Old Fashioned Clothesline

Old Fashioned Clothesline by D Sharon Pruitt on flickr

Angela had this to say:

My 3 high points this summer were:

1. Spending a week alone at the cottage with my dog Jessie, swimming, kayaking and painting.
Jessie

2. Star gazing from my boat house roof.

3. Watching my son hit two grand slams in one baseball game!

And if I might add one more it would be the fantastic weather!

There you have it in a nutshell!

And for me, I would list these 3 discoveries of summer 2011:

1.  Buying a half share of the vegetable bounty from a local farm  This is the first time we’ve participated in Community Supported Agriculture  It’s pretty convenient:  once a week, we pick up our share of the week’s crop from the farm’s stand at the farmers’ market.  It’s great that this is organic food, which comes in unusual colours (see the photo of the beans from a few weeks ago), and is grown on a horse-powered farm.  I think it’s especially good for us, because we’ve been in a vegetable rut, always buying the same things.  Every week this summer has presented me with unfamiliar veggies like kale, nappa cabbage, fennel, and my new favourite vegetable:  garlic scapes (which had me imitating the cartoon dog who floats up in the air when he eats something delicious).

The challenge has been that our kitchen currently looks like this:
Kitchen Sept. 5, 2011
We are operating without an oven, or kitchen sink, so vegetable prep and cooking is not as much fun as it could be.  But the lure of fresh food keeps us going.

2.  Quickie vacations:  Due to our kitchen reno, we’ve stayed close to home this summer.  But I’ve had a few brief occasions to travel:  twice to Québec City, to Sauble Beach, and for a kayaking adventure near Wiarton.  I tend to love to stay at home and putter, and often talk myself out of the effort necessary for a short trip.  So, it has been a surprise to realize how refreshing it can be to leave home for short periods (with my trusty pillow), and see some beautiful places.

Wiarton Harbour

3.  Summer reading.  OK, this is not a new discovery for me.  But, since I’ve been in school for the past three summers, I haven’t had the time or attention span to do much pleasure reading.  Trying to make up for that this year!

So, how about you?  It would be cool to hear from you about your summer high points, too.

That’s all for now,

Elizabeth

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