December 31, 2015

some of my favourite photos from 2015

Happy New Year to you friends! I hope you wrap up 2015 surrounded by people you love!! xoxo

As you guys know, my favourite thing to do is to get outside and capture nature's beauty with my camera - not much makes me happier. Here's a random collection of some of my favourite shots from the past year:

 Jan 1, 2015, we were on Pender Island. This dog came running up to me, the owners trailing behind in the distance. I snapped this photo and threw the stick for him. It was just a random moment we shared, but I will forever love that sweet face.

 I took this shot at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, one of my all time favourite spots to go for a walk. The fact that nature creates vivid colours like the green feathers pictured here, never ceases to blow me away.
 This is everything that is wonderful about childhood - being lost in a moment. I try to follow her lead.
She was so brave. This was taken in January of 2015. They stayed at the Hotel Vancouver and had an incredible date weekend. They went for a fancy dinner, toured the art gallery and went shopping downtown. It was the last great burst of energy she had before she was bed ridden. I really believe that she must have mustered up every last bit of energy she had to have one last extraordinary, romantic getaway with the love of her life. She was so brave. Even at her sickest, she didn't complain. Not a day goes by where I don't think of her, and miss her with everything fibre of my being. I am forever in awe of her strength and dignity. She really showed me what love is. 
 I know there is a definite division in my circle of friends - those who camp and those who shudder at the thought. I think a lot of it depends how you grew up. I love everything about it - spending so much time in the great outdoors, cooking and dining outside, skipping rocks, hiking, riding bikes - being together with friends and totally screen free.
 I didn't pose this or plan it. I think I just said "try not to smile" and it turned into what I think would be an awesome indie album cover if these three formed a band. 
There is something that feels timeless to me about this photo. The connection between these two is undeniable and so beautiful to witness. They are the sweetest of friends who like to walk hand in hand wherever they go. This photo was taken at Deer Lake Park.
 When she's older, I know, without fail, one of the things I will miss the most is the sound of her feet hitting the floor in the morning, running into our room to wake us up. I love how the soft, morning light is streaming in.
 Excuse me, do I have something on my face? 

Night swimming in Maui. I want to go back there so badly. It was the best family vacation we've had.
Cherry blossom petals. The prettiest pink snow. 
I don't have many photos of us together from the year, because I'm usually behind the camera. This was us getting ready to set out for a date night. Because our dates are few and far between, we do them up right. On this night, we went to dinner and to see Brian Regan do a stand up show. It was the funniest show I've ever seen. When I look at my husband, my heart melts.  To the moon and back, I love him.
 Our dear sweet gal. She was a surprise birthday present for me 15 years ago, and has been our gentle protector ever since.
 Playing with Christmas lights. If I zoomed out, you'd see my daughter on the counter, holding the San Pellegrino bottle perfectly still while I propped the champagne glass at an angle on some books. But together we caught a bit of magic.

 This photo and the one below, were both taken with an iphone on a beautiful sunset walk with friends along Crescent Beach. I live where I do, so that I can share nights like these, with people I treasure.

One of my favourite date nights this past year. We went to a local winery (Township 7) to sample wines, found one we loved and sat on a sunny patio, chatting away.  We topped it off with a delicious dinner out at the Wooden Spoon. By the end of the night, we were going to start a band.
Autumn leaves. Country roads. It's funny because when I was younger I thought I was a city girl, like Carrie Bradshaw, writer by day, and meeting friends for Cosmos at night. But at this point in my life, I'd choose the rural life every time, without fail. Sweeping landscapes, quiet roads, room to breathe and hear the birds - nothing makes me happier.

December 30, 2015

10 resolutions for 2016

Well, I for one, am very excited to tuck away 2015. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of amazing moments - camping with friends, countless dinners with faces we love, travelling to Hawaii, a huge family boondoggle at Bowyer Island, birthday dinners, smoochy date nights, and making the move into a home and neighbourhood that we just love. But this year was definitely one of the hardest I've endured - saying goodbye to my giant love - my mom, losing our family pet after 18 years, and suddenly losing a friend to a brain aneurysm. We are ready to welcome 2016 with open arms. This year we'll meet new babies through our friends, we'll carve out new adventures and tackle amazing projects.
I heard something interesting today on the drive home that by the age 35, we've already formed 95% of the pathways in our brains that are familiar to us - in terms of how we see the world, how we react to the world, our personality patterns. So when we try to tackle resolutions, we are relying heavily on the 5% of ourselves that hasn't been thoroughly formed - trying to create new habits. 
Even though it sounds like quite a mountain to tackle, I still love setting goals.

So for 2016, here's a list of some things I hope to achieve:
Do a 365 photo project
Read a book a month
Travel places we've never been
Exercise a min. of 3 x per week
Kill it at our dance show
Learn how to weave
Plan something special just with my dad and brother
Do a multi day hike
Get paid for something I have created
Do random acts of kindness
Plant a veggie garden

Have you set any goals for yourself?

December 29, 2015

walking in a winter wonderland

The endless fresh air. The jaw dropping beauty of snow capped trees. Tossing ourselves down the hillside on toboggans with friends. Feeling like a kid, with my kid. These are the best days, where I feel like my cup is just full to the brim.
Parenting feels circular to me. In carving out little adventures for our family, I get to experience things all over again, through our daughter's lit up face, through her questions and observations. I get to do little things for her that my mom did for me, and in that moment, feel connected to my mom and the memory of us. Riding down the hill on our sled, holding onto my little girl, I'm instantly reminded of my mom holding me, and us wiping out on our old wooden toboggan, and making snow angels side by side, laughing in the snow. Motherhood feels like this string that I'm holding, linking me from one generation to the next. And I'm holding on with all my might.
One of my absolute favourite instagram accounts is thegraygang - she is someone who I completely relate to in terms of her outlook on life, on how her heart speaks.
This quote on one of her recent photos, resonated so deeply.  I wanted to share it with you because it epitomizes exactly how I feel:

"The truth is I don't have to be great at everything or even a handful of things -- but I've gotta be great at mothering. Not for you but for me. For my own reasons. And this doesn't make me irrelevant or weak; this instead gives me the greatest joy there is. The other crap can fall by the curbside but my family must always come first. Not because I have built my identity around them -- but because in the process of giving myself to my children, I have found myself."


December 27, 2015

a few minutes in the garden....

This morning, a beautiful dusting of snow started to fall, so I grabbed my camera for a few quick photos in the back yard. I hope you are stealing a few moments of calm for yourself. xo

December 26, 2015

Christmas in images.....

Merry Christmas friends!! I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful time! I remember growing up, I always hated the day after Christmas because it was the furthest possible date from the next Christmas. But I have to tell you, as an adult, I LOVE the day after Christmas. It is past noon already and there is a very strong possibility that I am still in my pajamas. Yesterday was the most challenging cooking day I've ever had - it felt like a kitchen marathon in terms of endurance, coupled with short wind sprints from counter to counter.  Here are a few images from our Christmas. Love, peace and joy to you! xoxo 

 Cuddling up Christmas Eve to watch Elf.
Christmas morning gift giving. 
 Playing with our new gifts. 
Getting party headquarters set up.
 Our tree reflects my obsession with all things woodland. 

 Practicing for many real campouts in 2016.
 Starting the appie station set up. 
These three definitely brought the Christmas spirit. 
 The feast - featuring slow cooked ham, yams, mashed potatoes, crispy broccoli, stuffing, brussel sprouts, mashed turnips & carrots, orange soaked cranberries and turkey. 
It was definitely a cozy fit once we set up the second table, but it was our first Christmas without mom, so it felt particularly important to all be under one roof this year. I sure missed her, but felt like she was with me every step of the way and that she would have been proud of all of us for pulling this off. 
Cheers to you friends!
Now, back to my delicious coffee.

December 7, 2015

light my way....

One of my all time favourite things about Christmas is the lights. I remember growing up, riding in the back seat of the family car on long drives back from my nana's house around Christmas time, feeling a sense of magic in the air looking at all the lights. It has never gone away. Here's a few photos from the weekend to light you up.

This is our first Christmas in our new neighbourhood - it is so much fun to walk around because a lot of the homes go a bit crazy:
We got our tree this weekend. I was testing out the lights and caught this quick moment. Last year I knew it would be my last Christmas with my mom, and this year, I know it's the last one I'll share with this beautiful girl. I just love this shot of her - she'll always be my pup.
 This year, for the first time, we caught the Santa Clause parade in Cloverdale. It was pretty to see all the decorated trucks roll by. When I asked my daughter if she'd like to go again next year, she said, "No, I'm good." 
 Our power went out last night, which instantly transforms our living space into a romantic, made for TV movie kind of setting.
 My daughter held the San Pellegrino bottle in place while I tilted the champagne glass and snapped this pic in front of our mantle's Christmas lights. She was so excited to see how our collaboration turned out and immediately wanted her own glass of glowing bubbles. 
I hope you have had a wonderful first week of December! xoxo

November 29, 2015

Into the Mist-ic.........

Nothing is more soul fulfilling for me than time spent in beautiful parks with my family. We bundled up for a gorgeous misty waterfront walk this morning and came home to thaw out over mugs of delicious hot chocolate. That's my idea of perfection. I don't think anything creates a sense of adventure more for kids than time spent exploring outside. I saw a quote this morning from George Elliott that I just love: "We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it..."

November 23, 2015

entertaining made easy.....

This weekend we threw a birthday party for my wonderful aunt, who has the biggest heart of anyone I know - she is an exceptional human and I just love being in her company. I honestly never laugh so hard as I do when our relatives are all together. I get so pumped every time I know we're all going to be together. I thought I'd share a few simple things that I did to set up the party:

 I bought a flat of mason jars, a box of floating candles, and put fresh eucalyptus in the bottom. (I've also seen this done with fresh pine branches or cranberries). I put a cluster on the table and put the rest throughout the house. Easy Peasy.
 I made a Happy Birthday banner across the mantle, simply by cutting out pieces of white paper, and fastening each letter on to string with a good ol' clothes peg.
I used mini glass bottles throughout the house with fresh sprigs of eucalyptus and freesia. 
 We set up a self serve bar so guests could top up their drink of choice. 
You can never have enough flowers and candles.
This is one of my go-to cake recipes if you want the: Best chocolate cake.

For the food:

This slate tray, paired with a chalk pen, made for a great cheese plate -  you could just jot the name beside each delicious hunk of burning love cheese.

Let the kids eat first. It frees up more seating for the "grown up" dinner after.

This time of year, gingerbread decorating kits are a great group project to keep little kids busy.

Don't be shy to divvy up the dinner to save money. We had various people make a salad, bring appies, and garlic bread. I asked my friend Tammy for her lasagna recipe and she kindly offered, that if I bought the ingredients, she'd make them. I think I agreed to her plan as the words were literally coming out of her mouth. She is truly amazing. It was a Massive lifesaver to let me focus on set up, dessert, and appies.

For background music, we just put on the Indie Apartment Party playlist on Songza, but there approximately one bazillion playlists for you to choose from if that isn't your jam.

And of course, if your family is as liberal as mine, a hilarious post dinner game is: Cards Against Humanity.