So I’ve Been Reading Lately…

25 Mar

I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person that reads, but I’ve never really spent time searching for books, trying to find something that I connect with. In fact, I’ve always found books (the ones I’ve read) dis-engaging and a waste of time.  At the start of our journey, I bought a book whose cover and blurb caught my attention. It was a big book, ambitious for me, but at $14.99 I thought it could be a good entertainment option for the long plane ride ahead (yes, I’m like a child who needs activities planned for the plane in the event movies are not an option). I picked it up and read occasionally and about a quarter of the way through, my attention was suddenly captured and I was obsessed.

Maybe it was the air of culture that Europe seems to instil in people? I mean my husband now drinks red wine and the strongest espresso he can find. Regardless, that book was done shortly and I needed the next in the series, which I purchased (totally worth it) and read on our iPad. At the end of last year, I decided to re-read the Harry Potter books, a series which has always been a favourite of mine. I mean, I loved the books when they first came out, I love the movies and could watch them over and over, and I had a bit of time on my hands. Well I devoured the lot in a month.

It was finally when we moved to Calgary that I signed up to the library and I haven’t stopped reading since then. I’ve read the above books so far this year (plus a few other duds) and signed up to Good Reads. Are you on it? It’s the best way to track your reads and find new books suited to your genre, which seems to be the key to my continued enjoyment of reading.

 

What I Made

18 Mar

This being creative thing is WAYYY too fun. At the moment I’m working at a craft store, which proving to be VERY bad for my bank account and saving plan, but I’ve had some great fun with painting, making clocks, bracelets and even arm knitting. Yep, the company I work for recently posted this video on how to make an infinity scarf using your arms and some wool.

Also, what do you think of this wall clock? Wondering if maybe I should make some more – put them on Etsy perhaps?

And this is all just a glimpse of my obsessive compulsive making addiction. Creating soothes my soul, keeps my hands busy and helps me feel productive. Allows me to say “look what I made” – and how fun is it to say that?

I Love Etsy Finds

13 Mar

I don’t know about you, but I find Etsy Treasuries a little dull. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but I find that sometimes the display is uninspiring and the themes can be a bit cheesy.

What I am loving though, is the Etsy Finds emails. They are true to their name – they really find some gold and I relish my daily dose of craftiness from them. So I thought why not share the amazing things that I find through endless clicking. Here’s my latest “loves”.

Images + links // Datter Industries // Marinski Handmades //  Handy Maiden

Things I’ve learned: On the Road

11 Mar

I’ve been wanting to share an important (and please take note – personal opinion) life lesson I learned while on the road for a while now, and looking back over some photos I took at the time I came to these important conclusions on life, well they inspired me to finally write it.

We found ourselves in a place called Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and that place is just magic. For those who don’t know, this lake sits inside a circle of mountains and volcanoes. A long steep decent is required to get to one of the major towns that surround the lake, and trips over the water are the only way to access some of the quaint Mayan villages around the waters edge. The way the clouds sit over the mountains, and at times hover over the water, the way the sun sets in an explosion of colour each evening and the stunning and shocking combinations of colour that the locals wear, traditionally, of course, adds to and creates the magic of this place.

It was here that we were introduced to Mayan Families, a dedicated and multi-facetted NGO which supports the community and provides much needed help in this region. While Guatemala doesn’t have extreme poverty, there are many issues in relation to malnutrition, money and the general health of the Mayan population in these regions. Even though Lake Atitlan is over-flowing with NGO’s, more support is always needed. It was toward the end of our time in this area of Guatemala, and having taken into consideration everything that I had seen on our trip, and the people I had met, that I realised something very important.

How many of the people that I had seen on this trip were ever able to, or would ever be able to ask the question, “what do I want to do with my life”? How many of the tiny babies I’d seen and the children playing in the streets would grow up to choose the direction of their life and their work?  How is it fair that the situation they are born into determines their opportunities in life? Many of the people in this region don’t even speak Spanish, let alone English. By learning Spanish, a whole world of opportunity opens to them, and by learning English, even more so. Why do I deserve a bright future and not one of the many people I had seen here?

And so on reflection of these rhetorical questions, I realised how truly blessed my life is, how shallow all those Facebook complaints about the latest Australian election and the hard ships it may bring them were, and how angry it made me to hear others talk about their #firstworldproblems.

And so now I truly believe that if you are born into a household, society or a country that gives you even the slightest option and hope to ask the question “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, I believe you have a moral responsibility to not only do something great with your life, but to do something for someone who can’t ask that question. And these are not empty words – while volunteering is currently not an option, I know that financial support is always needed in so many places in the world and always try I put my money where my mouth is in an ongoing, sustainable way.

I guess all of this was just personal thoughts, epiphanies if you will, that only travel could hope to invoke in this wanderer.

Coffee Vanilla Sugar Cubes

6 Mar

As part of my attempt to “learn new things”, and having been conscious of what I put onto my skin for the last few years, I thought it would be fun to go DIY with skincare. For a while now, I’ve been a coconut oil convert. I use it in my hair, in my food (great for the digestive system), on my skin and recently I bought a tin to put next to my bed, and along with some vitamin E oil, I lather the coconut oil mixture on my skin after a shower. Living in this awfully dry climate that the cold weather creates, and having dry skin anyway, I just can’t seem to get enough moisture.

So when I came across this fun recipe, I thought I’d give it a go. It was WELL worth it. The best part is, they are REALLY easy to make, you can get all the ingredients at the supermarket, they are solid, and one cube is the perfect amount for your shower or bath.

You just need:

- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup of sugar (I find brown is nicer)
- 1/2 cup of unscented soap, shredded (I just grated mine)
- 1/4 cup coffee (ground)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used organic)
- Mixing bowl & spoon
- Ice cube tray or other mold

Just mix the oil and shredded soap together in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 10 second intervals stirring in between each. Continue until the soap is melted into the oil, but I found that if your soap doesn’t melt, it doesn’t matter too much because it’s so fine, and adds to the texture of the cube. Add in coffee, sugar and vanilla and quickly move mixture to your mold and let firm up (putting it in the freezer helps). Once they are solid, pop them out and into a storage container.

If your house is a sauna, like mine, just keep them in the fridge and grab one before your shower (the coconut oil in them will melt a little if kept in a warm area). Otherwise you can put them in a cute jar in your bathroom. The coffee is a really good wake up first thing in the morning, and your skin will feel amazing thanks to the coconut oil.

This brave soul is out to try the “no-shampoo movement” for the next month. I’ll update you on that soon.