Last year was filled with travels in twos. Beautiful British Columbia twice – once at the beginning of summer and once at the end of the year. Flamboyant Florida twice last winter – for an escape from the brutal cold in Canada. Never-endingly-thrilling New York City twice – once in the spring and once in the fall. Mon coeur Montreal twice last summer – for a break from my life in the country. And in all these travels, in every adventure and every day spent in these wonderful places, the one thing I felt consistently was complete awe at the very existence of so many different worlds within this one world of ours.
The same thought inevitably found its way to the top of my mind whenever I boarded a plane to fly back home and I kept asking myself the same question: How can it be that I am leaving a location so magical and special, where life and the energy of that place will continue to exist and go on when I am gone? At this very moment, some of my favourite people are in these locations going about their day-to-day lives, interacting with people in those worlds and experiencing a completely different reality than the one that I am in.
What’s incredible to me is that inherent difference in space but unity in time – that these different worlds exist across expansive spaces on the same plane of time (even when there are three hours separating me from BC). I remember very distinctly thinking how strange it was to be lounging on a beach in Florida while there was a totally different world back home that was cold, grey, and snowy. I can still feel the wonder welling up inside of me as I walked the streets of NYC, taking in the enormous buildings and frenetic atmosphere around me as I contemplated that my house back home was sitting quiet and empty on a quaint little road. I hiked up mountains in British Columbia and questioned how this magical and overwhelming scenery could be part of Canada when so much of what I know from home is minuscule landscape, comparatively. And even only 45 minutes from home when I stayed in the charming city of Montreal, it was still apparent to me that my life in the city was drastically unlike my life in the country.
We go along in our lives operating in a very specific space, building a world around us that is shaped by our environment and the people in it. But with every movement to a different space, we are allowing ourselves to experience a whole new world that runs in parallel with our own and in those different worlds, anything and everything is possible. Our world at home continues to exist but in our travels and transportation to a different world, we engage with an alternate universe that is comprised of a space that is not our own but simultaneously made our own in that very instant. Even if only temporarily, that world belongs to us and we are active participants in that universe, separate and detached from our world back home.
That transportation to another world is powerful. We leave behind the familiarity of home, of routine, of the known world we occupy daily and we enter into a realm of infinite possibility. Some might refer to this as a sort of alter ego on vacation – a person who is away from home and in an unencumbered state, fully free to do as she or he pleases, shedding responsibility and the mundane while welcoming freewheeling and the unknown. The world we know is behind us and a new world is available to us to explore and fall in love with in every trip to an alternate universe.
It’s not just me feeling this, right? There is something about visiting a different world that loosens something up inside us. And certainly me on vacation > me at work, but it’s not just a simple equation that we are happier and having more fun when we travel or leave home. The underlying magic is in our capacity to remove ourselves completely from the world we know by adapting to and wholly embracing the new world we find ourselves in… Not to mention the people in it.
Have you ever stepped back for a moment in a crowded space far from home to appreciate how many people there are on this planet? And in that moment of appreciation, have you recognized that every individual has a world of their own that could potentially intersect with yours in that very instant, or even more incredibly, at another point in time in your life? Mind. Blown. In our travels to different worlds, we interact not only with a new space but with new people, who might come into our lives for a fleeting period of time or become an essential part of our existence moving forward. Who knows who will cross your path when you explore a new world?
This year is shaping up to be another filled with travels (turns out selling your house and paying off your debt gives you an unforeseen freedom and drive to do all the things and go to all the places and have all the adventures). It started early with my last trip to BC rolling into 2017, an impromptu weekend with my best friends in Miami at the end of January, a too-short long weekend in NYC just a couple weeks ago with my Miami Mamis… And the feeling grows stronger with every trip: These alternate universes within the one world I live in are astounding. I’ve already got other trips lined up in the coming months to visit friends and family who are spread out around this incredible planet in a series of different worlds and while I don’t have a magic carpet, I know the secret to accessing a whole new world – you just need to open your eyes and see it. Seriously, Aladdin had it right – don’t you dare close your eyes.
Well, it was bound to happen. My unfaltering, magical, no muss, no fuss vegetable garden finally decided to give me a hard time. July 2015 will forever go down in history as the month that the garden stopped being low maintenance and started stirring up trouble.
THE CRISIS: Last weekend, I awoke to a startling development in the garden. Nearly all of the leaves on my zucchini plants were covered in strange looking white spots and I could tell right away that something was amiss. After dashing back inside to consult with the Internet, I quickly surmised that the odd white splotches were most probably powdery mildew.
What is powdery mildew? My online research tells me that it is essentially a mold that develops on the leaves of certain plants when conditions are very wet and humid. (So, for anyone living in the greater Montreal region – basically June through August.) My man worked in landscaping in another lifetime and had already taught me that it’s important to avoid watering the leaves in the vegetable garden, so I have always made sure to water only the soil at the base of each plant; but we’ve had a somewhat rainy season followed by some fairly humid days (thanks, Mother Nature). Powdery mildew develops on the top and bottom of leaves but it can easily spread down the stem and into the entire plant, which can ultimately impact the yield and quality of fruit coming off of the plant.
THE SOLUTION: There are apparently a few different ways to handle a powdery mildew crisis. A lot of the articles I read suggested spraying the leaves with a homemade concoction of water and baking soda (or in one case, water and milk); others implied that the entire plant may need to be scrapped if the mildew has spread too much; but nearly all of them recommended cutting the sick leaves as soon as possible to hopefully prevent the powdery mildew from infiltrating the entire plant (or worse, garden). I decided to go for the most basic solution and cut off all of the leaves that were covered in the white stuff, as well as any other leaves showing signs of mildew growth.
By the time I got through one of the two zucchini plants, there were only a handful of leaves left! It also became glaringly obvious that the second plant was patient zero – the entire thing was COVERED in white splotches and even the stems were blanched. So, with a heavy heart, I tore the entire plant out as gently as possible. (The Internet also told me that powdery mildew spores travel by air so it’s important to be really careful when extracting the infected leaves.)
As I completed my crisis management mission, the zucchini corner of my garden was looking pretty sad and forlorn. The remaining plant toppled over as I was cutting back the leaves so I awkwardly tried to replant it. There were already a few zucchini babies at the base of the plant and I’m not sure if they will make it after the great leaf purge of 2015 since they really depend on the leaf shade to develop. That said, last year’s zucchini harvest was wild and the plants seemed to grow on an infinite trajectory, so I’m cautiously optimistic that what’s left of the plant will somehow flourish and deliver despite the crisis.
THE UPDATE: Just a few days after cutting back, I was pleased to find healthy green leaves sprouting up in the space their sickly sisters and brothers previously occupied. The zucchini babies at the base of the plant were looking a little withered but a few new ones were starting to grow in as well, so things were looking to be moving in a positive direction…until yesterday…when the white stuff came back. Blerg.
I cut those trouble-makers back as soon as I spotted them, and did the same this afternoon when 2 more leaves appeared to have caught the mildew, and now I’m beginning to think I may need to try out that baking soda-water mix to see if I can get my poor zucchini plant back on track. To be honest, the saddest part about this entire crisis is that I’ve spent the last 12 months finding zucchini recipes on Pinterest in preparation for a zucchini explosion in the backyard. Oh well. Adventures in gardening!
On a happier note, my cucumber plants are spectacular – I plucked my first little cucumber on Sunday morning and upon close inspection of the leaves, they do not appear to be bound for the same fate as my zucchini plants. There were a few suspect leaves that looked a little questionable, but I cut them back and everything looks to be in order…for now…
To be continued!
Happy New Year! I’m not really big on making resolutions at the start of the year – by mid-February I usually completely forget or abandon what I set out to do, so the entire endeavour seems pointless. That being said, I do want to commit to one basic goal in 2015 – keeping myself nourished by meal planning on a weekly basis.
I know. This shouldn’t even qualify as a goal or resolution since nourishment is a critical human requirement, but weekly meal planning just doesn’t come naturally to me – something I both want and need to change. A few weeks ago I shared some tips for meal planning and since then I’m happy to say that I have been keeping it up! (This might have been due to the fact that I also had some time off work so was able to dedicate more time than usual in the kitchen, but I still feel proud of myself.) There are so many great reasons to meal plan: saving money by planning meals with common ingredients so you waste less food, preventing the dreaded black hole of take-out and delivery, better controlling your diet by planning healthy meals, growing your repertoire of favourite recipes… All good stuff.
So while it’s a basic goal that probably comes naturally to the rest of the operating population around me, my intended adventure for 2015 is to continue making weekly menus so we don’t starve… And I’m taking it a step further by making myself publicly accountable on this lovely global platform. Moving forward, every menu written on the chalkboard in our kitchen will be featured here, combining many different loves in my life, all in one place – writing on this blog, playing with the chalkboard, food, food, and more food.
Here’s my meal plan for this week.
Sunday: My man has dinner covered tonight so I’m going to spend the afternoon in the kitchen making a double batch of my all-time favourite Bolognese sauce and freezing most of it so we can have some on reserve over the next few weeks. I’m also going to try out this Chickpea Feta Parsley Salad that I found via Pinterest so I can have a hearty salad for lunch during the week.
Monday: A fantastic Beef and Broccoli recipe (also found on Pinterest) which is a perfect easy weeknight meal that I’ve made once before. When I’m home from work I’ll make the marinade quickly and then let the meat sit for the hour it takes to cook the brown rice and prep the rest of the ingredients. It comes together really quickly and tastes amazing.
Tuesday: Knock-Off P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps (also found on Pinterest). There’s a bit more prep work with this recipe (I’m looking at you, ginger and water chestnuts!) but it cooks so fast, it’s worth it. We like to eat these with a small portion of white rice on the side or even wrapped up with the lettuce and meat.
Wednesday: Leftovers and/or scavenging. I’ll probably have a smorgasbord of the previous two nights of food but I’m betting that my man will defrost some spaghetti sauce even though we’re planning that on…
Thursday: Bolognese for the win!
Friday: Amir take-out for some delightful shish taouk chicken and garlic sauce yummmm. (Is it Friday yet!?)
I sense it is time to sign off. All this talk of food is getting me hungry, and with the dreary cold outside I am anxious to get cooking so we can get some heat going in the kitchen, literally and figuratively. Cheers to food and adventures in 2015!
Well, it has been one full year since I started this online adventure – I got a little message from my friends at WordPress this morning wishing me a happy anniversary and as always, I am shocked that 365 days have passed already. Apparently time flies, regardless of whether you are having fun or not! The passage of time seems to increase exponentially every year, but I rarely stop to really appreciate it and consider how much can really happen in the time it takes for the Earth to circle the Sun.
I’m not the type of person who pauses to reflect at the start of a new year or when I reach my birthday and turn a year older. If you ask me how my year was in December, I will struggle to remember what even happened in the span of twelve months and usually will only comment on how fast it all goes. (Yes, I have a terrible memory. My best friends will confirm this emphatically!)
When I was a teenager, I always had a journal and would document as much of my life as possible. I was determined to capture the happy times and the miserable times, to make sense of things, and I suppose to be able to give myself a glimpse into that time in my life years down the line. As I got older, I abandoned the activity of writing in a journal – this was probably around the time that I graduated from full-time student to full-time employed “grown up” – and it has been years since I have filled the pages of a notebook with random musings about my life, my dreams, my failings, and everything in between.
This makes my one year anniversary with WordPress feel really special. I set out to take time to focus on the things I love and to write about them, and I did. But something else happened, that I didn’t expect. I inadvertently started another journal, documenting my life over the last year in a new and very different way. Years from now, I won’t have to struggle to remember how I spent the last couple of years of my twenties, because I will have this online adventure to remind me. Sure, it doesn’t cover the mundane day to day and it certainly skates over the terrible days that we all have over the course of a year. But that was a calculated decision on my part – the Internet is already filled with too much negativity, and the goal of this blog was to focus on things that fill me with joy and passion.
So here’s what happened over my last year, courtesy of This is an adventure.*
- 52 posts.
- 898 views of the site.
- 93 people following the blog. (Thank you, Followers! You sure know how to make a girl feel special, even if this isn’t a huge number by the Internet’s standards.)
- 310 tags.
- 1 category. (Oops. Guess I will start adding some categories on here!)
- Most viewed post: Sweet Eats (108 views, yum, I guess we all love brownies.)
- Top 3 most used tags:
*Data from my WordPress.com Stats.
That’s the raw data. Now, a few thoughts from my perspective.
- It isn’t surprising that Food is the most used tag on here. I love eating and I love good food, and I have tried to share that as much as possible on this blog. A Bolognese of My Own is probably my favourite food post, because it is truly my own recipe, made without any need to consult with an ingredient list or directions.
- I feel this strong need and intense desire to do more posts featuring Arts & Crafts. I only completed a few projects over this last year, but they were all so much fun and gave me a boost of creative energy. That can’t be a bad thing. Here’s to more Arts and (Crafty) Organization for the coming year.
- If I had to identify one thing that I am proud of in the last year (apart from actually keeping this blog alive), it would be that I made the garden happen. Maybe it was the very public promise to myself (and the Internet) on this blog that made me accountable after years of claiming I wanted to plant food in the backyard – and if that’s the case, I’m glad I did it. Because, yum.
- The online community is an incredible, at times overwhelming, and unexpectedly welcoming entity. As I have made an effort to engage online more and more in the last year, it has been fascinating to observe how interactions and connections play out in this cyber world where we are all anonymous but equally public individuals. It has been refreshing to participate on the positive side of the Internet, and I’m enjoying learning something new every day. (Forever slow on the technology uptake.)
One year of adventures. One year of writing. One year of creativity and hopefully growth. As I look back through my archives and scan the titles of the 52 posts, I feel satisfied that I have achieved my goal, insofar as writing about things I love. Have I figured out what to do next? Nope. But I’m certain that it will be something great – and somehow connected to writing, food, or arts and crafts. Maybe all three? We’ll have to wait and see. This is an adventure.
In the graduating year of my Creative Arts degree at the junior college crossroads between high school and university, one of the final mandatory courses required that students create their own final project in the medium of their choosing. It could cover any topic so long as it would demonstrate skills and knowledge acquired from the program. A teacher would supervise and be available for consultation, approving our proposals at the start of the semester and guiding us along the way.
For most it was easy and fun to select the direction for their project, but not for me. I hate making decisions and love it when I have clear direction and boundaries. It took quite some time to settle on what exactly my project would be about – but I ultimately decided one thing. It had to be about New York City. At the time, I had never seen the big city but felt that I knew it as well as any other because of the countless representations of New York in film that I had collected in my mind throughout my lifetime, and more recently in some of my classes at school. (And I suppose it should be obvious that since I was a female living in the early 2000’s, Sex and the City might have had an impression on me.)
Because I had learned how to make videos in my filmmaking class, the project evolved into what I thought would be an amazing documentary about NYC on film. It would feature clips from the classic movies I had seen in classes at school where the city was inherently a character in the film, and I would have an entire section dedicated to exploring why romantic comedies work so well in New York. The video would mirror the “talking head” documentary style by interviewing some of my favourite teachers at school who were knowledgeable about cultural studies and film. It was going to be fun and interesting and complemented by a soundtrack of songs about New York, personally selected by me.
It was ambitious. Overly ambitious. As the semester wore on, I realized that I was running out of time. I had conducted the interviews, done my research, and selected the clips I wanted to include. I had started editing and putting everything together, but the amount of material I was working with was overwhelming. As my presentation date loomed closer and closer, it became apparent that I was not going to finish my project on time. (For some, this may sound like any other day at school, but the studious perfectionist in me considered an incomplete project to be an abomination.) I emailed my teacher in a panic and she responded that I should at least present what I had completed.
When I stood up in front of my classmates for the final showcase, I was embarrassed and nervous but in the moment, a brilliant thought came to me: Of course I didn’t finish this project on time, because New York City is huge! How could I possibly capture everything there was to say about New York in film when the city itself is so endless? My endless video was a metaphor for the city, I stated proudly. I got a lot of blank stares from my classmates, but my teacher smiled knowingly and I ended up with a pretty good grade on my project.
Now, a decade later, it has been one full week and two days since I returned from my second trip EVER to New York City, and I can’t stop yearning for the city. (What was I thinking? Why didn’t I just drive there the day I got my final grade so I could see for myself if my perceptions about the city were true? I will have to make up for it over the next decade of my life by visiting as much as possible.) And, just as I inferred ten years ago, the city feels endless. I am certain that I only saw a tiny percentage of everything there is to see. The places I’ve idolized on film were just as magical as I imagined, although much more crowded with people.
Every neighbourhood feels distinctly different from the next and Central Park is beautiful, enormous, feeling endless and uncanny considering its location in the middle of the thriving city. There are people everywhere and a constant flow of lively energy that gives one the impression that anything can happen at any moment. It is thrilling, and makes me makes me wonder, does this feeling about the city eventually wear off? Do people living there know that they live in a vibrant and gorgeous city? I don’t think it will ever get old for me, and I cannot wait to go back.
Fortunately, one of my best friends is now living in the Upper West Side (or UWS, if you’re in the know) and I am already plotting my next trip(s) to visit her and magical NYC. I look forward to exploring new areas in the never-ending city, and for once I am happy to have no boundaries or set plan. I am happy to wander aimlessly from one neighbourhood to the next, taking in the sights and discovering hidden treasures. Somehow I got it right ten years ago; New York can’t be treated like a project – this is a place for adventure.
It is the beginning of another new year – unbelievable! Every year seems to go by faster than the last. Though January marks the start of the new year, I have always felt like September really signifies the start of something new. Perhaps this is because the first two thirds of my life were spent in school when September actually meant the start of a new (academic) year, or because the cold of the winter does not really feel like the most hospitable environment for growth or fresh starts (wouldn’t spring be more fitting?). Regardless, ringing in the New Year has never really been a priority for me, and the start of 2014 was no exception (my man, our animals, and me with a cold, assembled on our couch).
While this would usually be the opportune time to work on my resolutions for the months to come, this morning I found myself drafting a list of future posts and adventures I want to write about on this blog. Spoiler Alert: Pinterest will appear regularly. Low quality iPhone photos will persist in their attempt at appearing professional. I will continue to fight the good fight – trying to post once a week amongst the many distractions in my life.
So, to kick things off, let’s talk about why I love Pinterest. Though relatively new to me, it has quickly become a large part of my life – I like to think for the better. The initial appeal of this site was the obvious categories that I knew I would love (DIY & Crafts, Home Decor, Food & Drink). But I quickly learned that there was so much more to discover. Strange as it may sound, browsing pages of pins can sometimes be a transcendent experience, and I have found myself inspired countless times, in ways I would have never thought possible.
(In case you have been living under a rock, or are a late adopter like me: “Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing things you love.” –about.pinterest.com)
In the early days of my love affair with Pinterest, I created Food and Home boards, repinning anything that caught my eye. However it was my exploration of the Art, Design, and Architecture categories, and even the Everything category (aptly represented with an infinity icon) that led to the invention of one of my favorite boards that I’ve created: I Love This. It is comprised of a random collection of eye candy, things that inspire me, and (shameless) plugs for this blog.
There are many things on this board that I would love to write about, and some will be featured here in the future. The first is a very special pin that I created in my early days on Pinterest, and quite possibly the catalyst of this board, in that it is so random and would never fit anywhere else. It is…drum roll…a Narrative Organizer! (Spoiler Alert: Yes, I am a huge nerd, in case this was not already obvious.)
The Narrative Organizer from this blog caught my eye because it offers such a simple breakdown of how a good story is constructed. While this is clearly a teacher’s tool for elementary school, I loved it because it made the daunting task of writing a book seem less overwhelming. So months ago, I pinned it, thinking that it might come in handy one day. And now, at the start of 2014, after spending so much time writing with this adventure project, I feel that I have reawakened the nine year old nerd in me that wanted to be an author. And over the holidays, spent mostly with my two intelligent and beautiful sisters, I felt a spark. I got a glimmer of an idea. So I pulled up this pin, and did a little narrative exercise, mapping out what could be the bones of a book that I could write (if I had all the time in the world).
It was an entertaining and amusing exercise. And since then, I have started filling a notebook with more ideas, and fiddling with what might be a short story but could be the start of a chapter or two. My man has caught me staring into space more than once, as I’ve gotten lost in thoughts about where the plot could go and what the characters might do. While I do not know if anything will come of the scribbles in my little notebook, the act of writing and imagining has been invigorating, and I do not think it would have been possible without my discovery of a Narrative Organizer designed for children. Pinterest, who knew?