Journaling into the New Year

A journal offers a blank canvas to a writer or artist and gives the gift of a very pure space upon which to create. With each turn of the page there is the possibility of a new perspective with the ability to go back and reminisce.

Journal WritingTimely Messages – A Brief History of Written Communication
For millennia mankind has sought ways to preserve stories and keep records. The earliest recorded messages are pictograms and cuneiforms that told stories through etchings of people, animals, landscapes and events. The evolution of ‘written’ communication reached a pinnacle in approximately 1500 BC when the Phoenicians created the first alphabet. It consisted of 22 consonants, but no vowels until Greeks added the first vowels late in the ninth century. Then through Roman refinement came the alphabet we’re familiar with today.

Journaling is a form of self expression
Our modern age has introduced online journaling, or blogging, and there are many who commit to telling their personal stories via this medium. Then there are those who believe to remove the technology is to impart the humanity in a very traditional form of composition. With just the writer a pen and a paper, something very transparent begins to emerge. There is no audience or deadline, and what is left is the ability to be genuine and raw in a way that truly reveals the heart of a matter.

Once the decision to journal is made, there are so many different subjects to choose from: travel, food, books, family; truly the list is endless. But journals don’t have to be specific, they can simply be a way to chronicle each day as it comes or record each season of life. A journal can be added to daily or weekly, or just pulled out when the need arises or an idea is sparked.

Journals are not just for words. Artists can paint or sketch what’s in their heart, photographers can capture images and paste them in a booklet, and musicians can write notes to a melody dancing around in their imaginations. Many types of journals combine words and art. Scrapbooks are a type of journal that chronicle stories through the artistic application of photographs with brief stories and decorative pages. Nearly everyone journals in one form or another. There are no rules, only the invitation to share openly what is in the mind or on the heart. Many want a means to document life in a way that gives the ability to go back and reflect on history or remember ideas and inspirations. Because of the freedom in this form of expression, borders, grammar, sentence structure, even etiquette are unimportant and sometimes breaking the rules is essential to the creative process.


Some Fresh Ideas
Journals make a wonderful gift, and not just when they’re blank. When a baby is born, parents often begin a journal that marks the milestones in the life of their child, often times through to the end of their school years. A journal can also be a letter written to a child every year on the eve of their birthday then given to them as they graduate high school or university, or on their wedding day. A journal that archives the stages in the life of a married couple makes a wonderful gift from a child to a parent at an important anniversary. A guest book at the family cabin can be a journal that records all the visitors over the years. A holiday journal can be pulled out every Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas and new photos and keepsakes can be added as each year passes.

In the end, a journal teaches us something about ourselves, what we believe, what we value, how we think.  It links us to the past through the thread of stories, pictures or melodies woven into the tapestry of a life well lived and shared, even if only with oneself. In an age where electronic communications prevail, writing with a pen on good paper is a small, daily luxury worth indulging in.


Originally written for November 2010
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Refresh Your Sweaters For Fall

When a chill whispers through the air, when the leaves subtle changes cast a gold and amber tint over the landscape and a cup of tea is preferred over a cold drink we know autumn is arriving. And with the changing of the season comes the wonderful, glorious changes to my wardrobe. You know the favourites ~ sweaters and scarves, boots and pea coats and wonderful layers. I love this time of year for so many reasons.

ImageEach year I add to my wardrobe, another soft sweater or silk infused scarf. There’s nothing quite like a new wrap to stave off the brisk bite of a chilly breeze. But I notice when I pull my old favourites from winter storage they don’t look as nice. Many of the sweaters have pilled with those little nubbies that show up, especially around seams and cuffs. So thank goodness there’s an easy fix to bring back my lovely sweaters to their ‘just purchased’ beauty.

And it’s a cheap fix too – enter the Fabric Shaver!

FabricShaverThe only caution when using a fabric shaver is to run the head over the wool or fabric gently, no need to push down or you could damage the material. You can pick a fabric shaver up from Superstore, Target, London Drugs or a similar store for under $20. And it only takes about 10 minutes or less per sweater. But don’t stop there. Use it to refresh scarves and mittens, wool throws or blankets, felt-like fabric and more. Basically anything in your wardrobe or decor that starts to pill can be refreshed to look like new and prolong its life.

 photos via istock
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Accessorizing Made Simple

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Create a Mini Library in Your Neighbourhood

Originally published on – This is a great way to encourage community!

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Ring in Spring with a Fondue Party

Here is a post I wrote some time ago for Eat Love Savor – I hope you enjoy!

For The Love Of Fondue

When cooler weather drifts in, many turn to comfort food as a way to keep warm and draw everyone indoors. One of the most fun and interactive ways to accomplish this is to host a fondue party.

The word fondue is derived from the French word fondre, which means ‘to melt.’ Fondue was born out of necessity in the 18th century when Swiss villagers found themselves with nothing to eat but stale bread and cheese during long winter months. They discovered that melting the cheese then dipping the bread made both much more palatable. Later with the addition of wine and spices, it became a very enjoyable and popular meal. From cheese to chocolate, and hot pot style oil and broth fondues, this is a tasty way to gather family and friends for an entertaining culinary experience.

Your fondue will only be as good as the ingredients you use, so don’t skimp. A few extra dollars goes a long way in producing the best fondue possible. Provide each guest to the table with their own fondue fork and raclette plate. Skewering some ingredients beforehand with bamboo picks and skewers allows people to dip as soon as they sit down.

Savoury Fondues
: Ooey, gooey and oh-so good, everyone loves a cheese fondue. Cheese should be cubed or shredded to ensure even melting. Choose firm cheese with a fat content of 45% or more and don’t be afraid to experiment. Use a cheese you’ve never tried, or mix two or three together remembering that older cheeses produce a richer flavor and creamier texture. For a beverage, good quality wine is a perfect accompaniment. I recommend a visit to Nat Decants to pair your wine with the type of cheese in your fondue.
The most popular cheeses to use are:
· Gruyère
· Emmenthal
· Cheddar
· Gouda
The best dippers
Bread – a hearty French loaf cut into cubes
Vegetables – lightly steam your favourites to soften and bring out their vibrant color

The Melting Pot prepares Cheese Fondue

Hot Pot Style: 
Using a specialized fondue pot, oils and butter or savory broths are heated and used as a cooking base for thinly sliced meats, seafood, and a wide variety of vegetables and tofu. Use good quality cuts of meat such as tenderloin or prime rib and free range chicken. Hot pepper sauce, teriyaki, and herb butter sauce all make great dips to serve as accompaniments. Tea, beer and sake go well with this type of fondue.

Asian Hot Pot

For Your Sweet Tooth
Sweet fondues are a perfect way to end a meal, or serve alone for an evening with friends. Enjoy one with your favorite fruits and sweet breads like pound cake and banana bread. Sweet fondues call for sweeter beverages. Indulge in chocolate martinis, vintage port and ice wine. And always have plenty of water.

Bitter or semi sweet fair trade, gourmet chocolate is your best choice for a rich fondue. Flavor extracts or liqueurs can be added for that special touch. A fun twist is to make mini ice cream balls and keep them in the freezer until just before serving!

Emeril’s Chocolate Fondue

A twist on the traditional chocolate fondue, butterscotch provides another sweet fondue option.

Nigella Lawson’s Sweet Side

For very special occasions why not combine fondues and amp up the lux ~ but please, no double dipping!

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Fitness 101 – Don’t Give Up!

For some reason when I was 19 years old and new to Vancouver I decided to buy a lifetime membership to Fitness World – I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was. But I will say it was a very good decision. Besides the fact that I probably have thee lowest monthly dues on any given day of the week I have been able to maintain a pretty solid fitness level for years.

Soon after I chose a career in fitness and became a personal trainer. During my two years in this role I saw so many people come through the gym, but not everyone would stay. Sometimes they gave up because it was too hard, sometimes they didn’t give it long enough to see results and sometimes they simply didn’t see the results they were looking for. But there were always new ones to replace those who didn’t last.

Things haven’t changed much over the last 23 years (gave it away). Every January the gym fills up with fitness hopefuls and their shiny, new fitness cards (Thank you Steve Nash for giving me a handy bar code card for my keychain) and by mid February many of them have left. To those who stick it out I salute you, along with those die hards that show up faithfully at 6 am most week days. What’s the difference between the two groups? Time. Just time. And the decision to keep going over time.

All of us start somewhere on the path to better fitness. When I started running again after my children were born I would run one block, walk two. I worked up to running five minutes walking 1 until after many years and many miles I could actually run a 1/2 marathon without stopping. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to do that, but I’m still out there working at it. And that’s the key.

So if there’s anything I can say to the newbies at the gym and on the seawall it would be this:

  • Don’t stop, really – just keep going
  • Be aware of your heart rate and stay in your training zone – combine working in your fat burning zone & cardio zone (research this)
  • Listen to your favourite music, choose upbeat songs
  • Combine cardio with weight training – muscles burn more calories than fat, and being strong is sexy
  • When you do weight train, proper form matters – move through each exercise with full range of motion. If you’re unsure ask someone who works in your gym to help you or watch a video on YouTube
  • While you’re working out, focus – listen to your body, think about the muscles you’re using, be aware of your breath (don’t hold it)
  • Speaking of muscles, take the time to learn their names – relationships always grow stronger when you’re on a first name basis
  • Workout at least 3 times a week, 4 is better and 5 is the best. Stay active on days off
  • If you’re getting frustrated & feel like giving up, consider investing in a few sessions with a personal trainer to get you on track
  • Drink lots of water, stay hydrated
  • Start choosing healthier food – the better the fuel, the better your body will run. And don’t overeat at any meal
  • Better to eat smaller meals more frequently during the day and don’t eat late at night

And remember, those of us in the gym or on the seawall who you think are in better shape than you – we’re actually rooting for you. So don’t give up!

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Life’s like that. Big or small, change affects us all, everyday, in different ways. We’re asked if we can spare some change – most people would give it away if they could. But not their money, just the verb. We don’t want to part with our money, but how volatile the change can be when it comes to our money. No, that’s not where we should place our faith.


We resist it. Comfort comes from the familiar and so we work hard to stay rooted in what we know. We miss out. Adventures occur when we step out and allow change to happen. Good or bad depends on our outlook to begin with. Let’s choose good and see what happens.


We change our minds, our clothes, our passwords. We change time forward or backward. We change lanes and we change direction. How often we change something everyday, yet continue to resist change if we see it coming. The weather changes – we can’t control that.


What would it look like to embrace change? To allow people around us to change, to allow ourselves to change without judgement or expectation. That’s when growth occurs, we’ve all experienced it. Change is good, it’s reasonable, it’s exciting.

Life is a gift. Change is part of life. Embrace change.

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