Five more minutes

You know that feeling you get in the morning, when your alarm clock goes off, and you’re nice and cozy under the covers? You just want five more minutes to enjoy that fuzzy feeling. That’s how I feel about my friend Ichih’s yin class. I just want more.

I haven’t done yoga in over a week, due to a pain in my neck. A few years ago, I fell on the ice and hit my head. Ever since then, I’ve had neck issues. I saw an osteopath a couple of years ago and I didn’t have any major issues for a while. However, last week, it felt like my head was attached to my neck with one very large, very painful pin. I saw a massage therapist on Saturday and he fixed me, so I was good to go for yoga tonight.

Yin works with three principles: finding your edge, stillness and time. I can usually get two of of three pretty easily, but there’s always one that’s just harder to deal with. Funny thing is, it’s not always the same one. Sometimes, I find my edge and I’m perfectly still, for about 14 seconds. Other times, I am still for as long as I need to be, only I’m holding back a little, staying where it’s easy and comfortable. What can I say, I’m a work in progress.

Tonight, we did cat’s tail. I enjoy this pose because I get a stretch in more than one place. Also, it feels really good to come out of it, which is sometimes better than the actual pose!

First, we started off in “watching tv” pose. Don’t mind my messy hair and scary eyes. I tried to get the red-eye out, but it left me with alien eyes.


Then, we flicked up our “tail” and held on to it.


You could stay here, or you can turn the pose into a twist. (Still holding on to your tail.)


This was just one of the amazing poses we did. How can you not want more of this? When I was savasana-ing, I almost fell asleep. Happy fuzzy yoga brain. Namaste.

Winter cottage life

You know you live in Canada when you say “It’s only minus 18 degrees outside, let’s go for a walk!” (For my American readers, minus 18 degrees celcius is 0 degrees Fahrenheit.) It was cold all week. And I mean cold, even for Canadians. The temperature was around minus 25 all week, with a wind chill making it feel like minus 30, and colder! Like most people, I spent a lot of time indoors.

I had a weird neck issue all week, so I couldn’t even do yoga. I finally went to see a massage therapist on Saturday, and I am happy to announce that I can now turn my head from side to side without making an “ow, this hurts” face. I felt like a robot all week, turning my whole body to talk to people. I don’t think the cold helped my neck at all.

I had planned to go to a yoga class this morning, then out to brunch with a friend, but decided yesterday to cancel, fearing that my neck might not be ready. I was right. I have mobility, but I feel like I got run over by a truck.

So, yesterday, after deciding to go yet another two days without yoga, I went to visit some friends at their cottage. I was planning on staying for dinner, then coming home, but since I had canceled my yoga date, I stayed overnight.

We had homemade pizza and apple pie, then played a game of “Name the country’s capital” (Yes, we are dorks.) It was hard. I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

This morning we went for a walk, since it was so mild out. (And by mild, I am referring to the -18.) I had my new camera with me and I was on the lookout for photogenic trees, as my assignment for my photography class was to take a picture of a tree. I wanted a picture where the tree was in focus, but the backround was blurry. This one is my favourite.


I was on the roof when I took this picture. It was nice and sunny, so we hung out for a while.



I’m also really happy with this picture. It’s pretty and it looks the way I wanted it too! I love that I’m starting to figure this out.


All in all, it was the perfect winter weekend, even with my sore neck and cold weather. There’s always fun to be had, pictures to take and people to laugh with. Winter’s meant to be enjoyed. Next up, skating and snowboarding!

You don’t take a photograph, you make it

I enjoy taking pictures. I’ve never called it photography, because I know there’s more to it than pointing and clicking. Sometimes, my snapshots look good, and usually, they capture the moment, which is what I’m after. Sometimes though, I know what I want the picture to look like, and I can’t do it. I can see the picture in my mind, but it doesn’t come out the way I want it to.

I’ve been wanting to learn how to take good pictures for a while now. It’s number 47 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. Writing this blog has made me want to take a photography class even more, since I don’t think a blog post is complete without photos. So I did it. I signed up for an 8 week photography class and the first one was tonight.

I’m not sure if I learned anything new tonight, because it was pretty basic stuff, but it was interesting. Oh, I did learn something. Out of the millions pf people who buy cameras, only about 4% will take a class to figure out how to use their camera properly.

Speaking of new cameras, I bought myself a treat. After Christmas, there were amazing, a-million-percent-off sales, and I got a new toy. It’s a Canon Rebel T3. I’m still not sure exactly what that means, but several people had the same one as me in the class tonight.

Isn’t it lovely?


It has all kinds of fancy buttons and it can do pretty much anything, like stop time and levitate. Ok, so maybe not, but that’s what it feels like now, because I don’t know how it works.


I guess it’s a good thing I’m taking a class.

I bought it a few weeks ago, and I didn’t want to wait until class started to learn how to use some of the fancy functions, so I went to see my cousin Annie, who is a photographer. She gave me a crash course and I tried to take pictures where the backround is blurry. It made sense when I was there. Now, well, I think I forgot part of it. Maybe I can go to my weekly class and also have private lessons.

This is my favourite photo taken with my new camera, so far.


I also like this one. I didn’t take it. (Obviously. I’m in it.) Annie did. I love how the big kids are interested in the gum from my purse, while the little one is all about the wallet!


I’m looking forward to playing with my new toy and sharing some lovely photos! My assignment for next week is to take a picture of a tree. Humm. I wonder if tree pose counts?

An open letter to hot yoga

Dear hot yoga,

I love you. You don’t have to say anything, I know you feel the same way I do. How do I know? Easy. You give me so much.

Some people don’t understand my attraction to you. They say you’re too hot, too sweaty, too intense. Don’t worry, I always defend you. I tell them how amazing you make me feel.

I think our relationship is based on the little things, like that time we did side crow. Remember that? We should do it again soon. I also love it when we practice inversions. Keeps things interesting.

My love for you is so strong, it’s got me almost regretting my latest haircut. I wasn’t thinking of you when I got bangs. I had one of those “I need to be my own person” moments and chopped off my hair. Now, it’s always sticking to my face, no matter how many bobby pins I use. I know, I know. My fault, not yours.

You bring out the best in me. You make me feel so strong, like there’s nothing I can’t do. I never imagined I would do an arm balance, and look at me now. I might still fall sometimes (ok, a lot of times) but I know that’s just because you’re giving me time to get there.

It’s almost magical the way you can completely change my mood. If I’m having a bad day, I just spend an hour with you and I feel so much better! If I’m tired, you give me energy. I try to give you as much as I can. Time, sweat, energy, effort. If I have it to give, it’s yours to take.

I know I spend time with the others sometimes, but running and gym are just not in the same league as you. You have nothing to worry about. Dancing is pretty cool, but she’s different. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Both of you are awesome. (But I love you best.)

I might not see you this weekend, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about you. I can’t wait to see what you’ll make me discover about myself next time!

Thanks for everything,


P.S. I’ve included one of my favourite pictures of us. It was the first time we did wheel!


My life as a pretzel

I miss writing about yoga. Lately, I’ve been writing about other things. Dresses, Christmas, rainbows. Great stuff, but it’s not yoga. I know you’ve been thinking it too, so here it is. My life as a pretzel (actually, it was just part of a class, but whatever.)

I went to a power class at Pure today right after work. I can’t often get away for the 4:30 class, but I think it’s my favourite time to practice. My work day is done, but I haven’t been home and crashed on the couch yet, so I’m still awake and energized (well, somewhat).

Class was with Jen. I love her classes because she always has something to distract me from the fact that I actually am tired. We started with some flowing. Lots of flowing. Like a river almost. Or maybe that’s just how sweaty I was.

On a side note, a bandaid on your foot during a hot yoga class will fall off. It’s a fact. But first, it will stick to your towel and get stuck between your toes. Just so you know.

After a blur of triangle pose and lots and lots of warrior 2 (warrior 2s? warriors 2?), the pretzeling started.

Now, when people have no clue what yoga is, the image they come up with is someone twisting themselves into various pretzel-like positions. This is not what yoga is about, although some poses involve a bind. In these cases, it is acceptable to use the term pretzel.

The first pretzel was bird of paradise. I like this one, especially if I’m standing on my right leg. If I’m standing on my left leg, it’s more like a chicken than a bird of paradise, but one side is better than none. I can get my standing leg strait (the right one), but the leg I’ve got my arms around hasn’t quite made it up.

I look like the first picture. I’m working on getting to the second one. I got the picture here.


The second pretzel was a new one for me. You start off in bound extended side angle, just like bird of paradise, but instead of bringing your foot up to the front of your mat, you bring it about half way and get into a bound half moon. Yeah. Crazyness. I almost kind of got it. I think. Sort of. On the right side of course. I couldn’t get my whole foot up, just my heel, but the heel is the heaviest part of the foot, so I’m almost there!

bound half moon

Can you see how close I am? It’s amazing. That’s the power of yoga.

Dream a little dream

The girl looked to her left and to her right, but there was nothing. All she could see were the three doors in front of her. One was icy blue, with white, lacy-looking frost covering it from top to bottom. One was red, with a gold handle that seemed to glow. The last door looked quite ordinary. It was made of wood and iron, and it had no decorations.

The girl knew she had to open one door to see what was behind it. How she knew this, she had no clue. She had to chose a door. The weight of this decision hung heavily over her head, like a little black raincloud. She reached for the blue door, but pulled her hand away quickly when she felt the heat behind it. She went slowly to the red door and placed her hand gently on the golden handle. The cold was so intense, it felt like a burn. Feeling like Goldilocks, she went to the boring door, turned the door knob and pushed open the door.

What she saw took her breath away. The rainbow was more beautiful than anything she had ever seen. It arched through the sky like one of Saturn’s rings and ended just above her head. “Where’s the pot of gold?” she asked. She didn’t expect an answer, for she imagined herself to be all alone. “That pot of gold stuff is just for fairy tales” she heard a voice respond. “It makes no sense, why would there be gold at the end of a rainbow?”

“Who said that?” she asked.

“I did!” said the voice. “Down here” it added, when the girl looked around but could not see anyone.

“Oh! You’re a frog.”

“Yes, I am. And no more of that gold nonsense. Everybody knows that rainbows end in ribbons.”

The girl did not know this, but she didn’t want to tell the talking frog that. She looked up and indeed, the rainbow ended in a cascade of silky ribbons of every colour imaginable. She reached up to touch them, then looked at the frog to see if this was allowed. The frog smiled (yes, frogs can smile) and nodded.

The girl wrapped her hands around the ribbons and felt herself being pulled up. She held on tight, then let her head fall back. Suddenly, her world was turned upside down. Nothing was the way she thought it was. She played around with the ribbons for a while, enjoying the way her view of the world changed with every twist and turn.

Eventually, she let go of the ribbons and slowly, the rainbow disappeared. The frog told her it had served it’s purpose and would return when it was needed. The girl did not understand what that purpose was, but she had enjoyed herself, so she was happy.

She and the frog walked together until they came to a fork in the road. One path was straight, going as far as the eye could see. It had soft grass and big trees on either side, offering shade and the pleasent scent of apple blossoms. The other path was a zig-zag through a field of wildflowers and big rocks. It disappered into the horizon, so the girl could only see the begining. She could make out a puddle in the middle of the sandy path, and what looked like a tree with purple flowers.

Like when she stood before the doors, she know she must chose a path. The first path was beautiful and safe. The second path looked like it might be filled with surprises. Good or bad, she did not know. The girl looked down at the frog and asked for advice.

“The choice is yours,” said the frog. “But remember, our choices define who we are. Who are you? Or, more important, who do you wish to be?”

The girl looked at the paths again and realized she could be someone who chose the safe option. It was pretty and she was sure to enjoy herself, although she thought she might get bored. When she looked at the second path, she saw adventures waiting to happen, challenges to overcome and discoveries to make. She wanted to be the person who embraced the unexpected, not accept the expected.

She walked along the crooked path with the frog for a while, until they came to a moutain made of glass. It rose from the ground before them and seemed to go all the way up into the sky.

“What now?” she asked the frog.

“That’s up to you, isn’t it.” replied to frog.

The girl thought the frog was beginging to sound a little too much like Yoda, but before she could reply, the frog sneezed.

“Bless you.” said the girl.

“Thank you. But it is you who is blessed. You have everything you need to overcome any obstacle, you need me no longer. This is a magical place, and we do not let everybody in. You passed the tests. You are ready.”

“What tests? What am I ready for?” asked the girl, unaware that she was being tested.

“Life is the test. The rainbow is happiness. You embraced it, you enjoyed it. You didn’t question it or doubt it. The choice between the paths represents the choices you make every day. You chose excitement and adventure. You are ready to face the glass mountain. Knowing how to be happy and trying new things makes you prepared to overcome the obstacles in your path. Life is a series of rainbows, paths and glass mountains. You are strong. You are ready.”

And the frog hopped off into the sunset.

The girl sat up in her bed. She looked around, but didn’t see a frog or a rainbow. She laughed softly. Of course she didn’t. It had all been a dream. Or had it?

I started writing this post a while ago, when I saw the daily prompt “You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.” I was intrigued, and I thought about it for a while before I started writing. I knew I didn’t want it to be a nightmare, and I wanted to include the aerial silks workshop I did last February. It’s a prompt from December 20th, so I got the “daily” part wrong, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. It’s very different from what I normally write, and it was a lot harder to get out!

february 4th 018

Snow days

I love snow. It’s like magic. I’m serious. There’s something special about it. Of course, I’m not crazy, so I don’t love it when I have to shovel it. I always think I’m in great shape until I try to shovel the driveway.

I was on holidays for two weeks, and I went back to work on Monday. On Sunday, I was planning to run errands, go to a yoga class, maybe go shopping (I need new dress pants, it’s no coincidence Dressember was so easy for me. All I wear are dresses!) It was going to be a busy, productive day.

Then I woke up to this.


Yes, it is a terrible picture, but that’s what you get when you open the back door, stick your arm out and take a picture. I was snowed in. It wasn’t a lot of snow, but I knew, from experience, that I would get stuck if I tried to drive through it.

So here I was, stuck at home on the last day of my holidays. It only took me a few minutes to realize how perfect this was. Who needs errands and a busy day, when you can curl up on the couch and read an amazing book about a little girl who wanders out of the forest, not talking, but growling at everyone who tries to get close to her. (Magic Hour, by Kristen Hannah. Read it.)


The only thing I was a little disappointed in was missing my yoga class.

Yesterday was a very different kind of snow day.

It was the kid’s first day back at school and Tuesday is my recess-duty day. It was the perfect day. It wasn’t cold or windy, the snow was sticky and there was a lot of it, and the kids were still happy enough to be with their friends after the holidays that they didn’t fight.

Some of the little girls in my class asked me to make a snowman with them. This is a lot harder than I remember! It took about four of us to put him together. How do kids do this? There were snowmen all over the school yard.

The girls named him Jack.

I love the very centered photo of Jack and I taken by a second grader.


Added bonus? Building a snowman was number 53 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days! Awesome.

What do you love about snow?

Rabbit food

I like carrots, but only when they’re raw. Cooked carrots are just not my thing. However, I’ve noticed that if I add grated carrots to cooked food, like spaghetti sauce or soup, I’ll eat them. It’s kind of like hiding them from myself, because they’re so small and I can’t taste them.

In November, I decided to try going gluten-free. It was going really well for a while, until Christmas. Cookies, pie, quiche…there was no controlling myself. I don’t have an issue with gluten, so it wasn’t so bad. Going gluten-free was more of an “everything in moderation” thing. I still have Christmas cookies in my freezer, but other than that, I’m trying to cut out gluten as much as possible.

So, where am I going with gluten-free carrots? Simple. Gluten-free carrot macaroni and cheese. That’s right. Sooo good!

I bought this corn pasta to replace regular pasta, and it tastes the same. It’s a little yellow, but once cooked, it’s not so neon.


Not the best company name, if you ask me. It’s too close to leper.

Grate a couple of carrots. If you’re super into carrots, feel free to add more.


Two minutes before the pasta is done, add the carrots to the boiling water.

Drain the carrot/pasta mix and set aside.


Mix your sauce any way you like. I used flour for my roux, since it was only a small amout, but you can thicken your sauce with cornstarch. I used 2 or 3 cups of milk. I like mild cheese, so I used mozzarella and cheddar, but you can use whatever you have. I used 2 or 3 cups, I think. I really have no idea. This is not a precise recipe, it’s more of an idea. I also added cream cheese.


Mix everything together, then pour into a baking dish. Add more cheese, of course. I used rice cereal for the crispy topping.


Put in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, or the time it takes to clean the kitchen and check your e-mails. When it smells so delicious you can’t stand it, it’s ready.



I buy books like some women buy shoes

When I started my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, number 77 was to write down all the books I read. I’ve always wondered how many books a year I read. In 2012, I read 52 books. That’s an average of one a week, but it doesn’t really work that way. Usually, if a book is good, I’ll finish it in about 2 days. If I’m not really into it, but I’m determined to get through it, it might take 2 weeks.

The 52 books on the list are from number 16 to number 68. Here is my top ten. They’re not in order of preference, but in the order in which I read them.

1. Knit one, Pearl one, by Gil McNeil

This is the third book in a series. The first book was originally called “Divas don’t knit”, but the title was later changed to “The beach street knitting society and yarn club.” Yeah, makes no sense. Anyways, the books follow Jo, a single mother in England who leaves behind her glamorous job to live by the sea and open a yarn shop. The story is about everyday things that happen to regular people, but the writting is terrific. I’ve read each of the books several times.

Knit One Purl One by Gil McNeil1

2. Girls in white dresses, Jennifer Close

This is one of those books that has several stories going on, and you kind of wonder where the story is going. It doesn’t take long to get involved with the girls and their stories. I felt like I was reading about my own life when reading parts of this book (not all of it!). I couldn’t put it down.


3. The lost girls, J. Baggett, H. Corbett and A. Pressner

I normally read fiction, but this book is the true story of three friends who quit their jobs and take a trip around the world. You can tell it’s real life, because not everything works out the way they plan it. Sometimes they fight, and they even rip the top off their rented van! If you like to travel, you’ll enjoy this book for sure.


4. Wildflower Hill, Kimberley Freeman

I love, love, love this book. I bought it because it was pretty, but I fell in love with the stories. It’s about a ballet dancer who suddenly can’t dance anymore and who moves to the house her late grandmother left her. The book alternates between the granddaughter’s and the grandmother’s stories. Sometimes, with books like these, I get so caught up in one story, I don’t want to switch to the other one. However, both stories in the book are so captivating, I couldn’t wait to read them.


5. The dowry bride, Shobhan Bantwal

I’ve read all the books by this Indian-American author and I can’t get enough. My favourites are the ones that take place in India, like The dowry bride. A young bride wakes up one night and hears her husband and mother-in-law planning to perform a bride-burning because her parents failed to pay her dowry. She runs away and hides out in the home of a man who is related to her husband, but who is kind and understanding. Her husband tries to find her and have her arrested for leaving him. It’s a glimpse of a culture so different from mine.


6. The Hunger Games (trilogy), Suzanne Collins

I remember hearing about The Hunger Games, but I had no idea what it was about and I wasn’t really interested in finding out. Then I saw a preview for the movie. I was hooked. I had to know more. I prefer (like most people) to read the book before watching the movie, so I bought the first one, thinking I would buy the other ones after I saw the movie. Yeah, not so much. I stayed up all night reading that first book, then got up as soon as the bookstore opened to go get the other two. If you haven’t read these yet, if you think they’re just for kids or if the idea of teenagers at war against each other in a fight for survival bugs you, get over it and read! You won’t regret it.


7. The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman

By far, my favourite book of the year. Maybe my favourite book of the past ten years.

The Dovekeepers is set in the year 70 C.E. It tells the story of four extraordinary women in Jerusalem who do what they must to survive in this harsh world of war, for the Romans are determined to overpower the Jews. The desert and King Herod’s palace are the main settings for this incredible story. Four women, Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah, all come to live on the mountain for different reasons and form a sisterhood of sorts while working in the dovecotes. They all have secrets which could threaten their very existence. It is based on the true story of 900 Jews holding out for months against the Romans on a Judean mountain. Two women and five children survived and this is what the author imagined their story to be.

It is written so beautifully that, although it takes place in a time in history where savage customs reigned and women were not the equals of men, it is impossible not to be captivated by the incredible will these women had to survive and create a better world for their children. It doesn’t feel like a history lesson, it doesn’t leave you sad. It is a book you cannot put down and want to share with everyone you know. You want them to feel that extraordinary sensation of having discovered a wonderful secret, a mystery unraveled. I have not been touched by a book like this in a very, very long time.


8. On the Island, Tracey Garvis-Graves

I bought this book one day because I wanted to buy one, and I couldn’t find anything. I picked it up and thought “This’ll do.” It’s the story of Anna, who is 30 and T.J., who is 16. They get stranded on a desert island. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, because I thought it might be weird, depending on how the author approached the relationship between them. Turns out, it’s a wonderful story of love and survival. I could not stop reading it!


9. The Help, Kathryn Stockett

My friend lent me this book and I put it on a shelf, not particularly interested in it. One day, I had nothing to read so I picked it up. Am I ever glad I did! I enjoyed the way the story was told from many different points of view. So many strong women had things to say in Jacksonville in the sixties, but some of them could not, because they were black. Enter Skeeter, a white journalist who opens everyone’s minds and hearts. The movie is also good, but the book is better!


10. Room, Emma Donoghue

I wasn’t sure about this book. The narrator is a five year old boy named Jack and Room is his home. He lives with his mother and sometimes, at night, after Ma hides him in the wardrobe, Old Nick comes to see her. His mother was kidnapped by Old Nick 7 years ago and Jack was born inside Room. He’s never been Outside. He doesn’t know Outside is real, or that people actually go to the store or wear shoes, because he’s never done these things. He is living a nightmare, but he doesn’t know it. It’s worth a read, but it takes a while to absorb it all.


What were your favourite reads of 2012?