Monday, October 30, 2017

What's up with Hygge?


So I'm in the process of reading this little book.  Did I tell you I'm back from France? Well, yes I am, and today, the difference in temps between our little town in France and where I live is a whopping 18 degrees... This gap will only widen in the days to come so I'm getting ready for it!

Hygge (pronounced hooga)

...is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love.  A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.  You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life - or just be comfortable i each other's company - or just be by yourself enjoying a cup of tea.
Originally written in Danish, the translation is not the greatest and the author does seem to go for repetition but it has spurred me onto the mission of spending a happier, more contented winter. The hygge manifesto speaks to my soul directly and I want to make it my own. 


 

I'm ready for  # 4, 6 and 8 - I love the idea that, in the case of a gathering, tasks, as well as airtime, are shared.  Let all the people have a turn to speak - and no drama allowed! Now we're talking hygge.  The idea is to FEEL GOOD!

So in the weeks to come and, hopefully, throughout the winter, I will be adding to my list of hygge possibilities.

 This past week:

1. A neat site I found where our city's best coffee shops are listed.

2. Soup, soup and more soup including Italian Wedding (made for our arrival by M.), Barefoot Contessa's Winter Minestrone and Thai Curried Butternut Squash. Comfort in a bowl, mmm, mmm.

3. I've picked up my knitting needles again...

4. All caught up with GOT and Designated Survivor...

Any other hygge ideas out there? Please share!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Vegetable Fairy Strikes Again!

Yesterday, we went to my sister D.'s farm for a lovely lunch and a little trip to her magnificent vegetable garden for strawberries, raspberries, swiss chard, beets, lettuce, basil, parsley, cilantro and dill.  No pics of these or the farm, so sorry I didn't at least take my phone to the garden...

Last night I made freezer strawberry jam with a product D. sent along made by Club House.  Had the jam this morning on toast and it was beyond delicious and not too sweet. (1 1/2 cups sugar for 4 cups of berries.) I recommend the product, it's got a couple of unpronounceable ingredients but nothing really evil. I'm going to make the freezer raspberry jam today.

image via

D also gave me her garlic scapes and with it, this morning I made garlic scape pesto with this recipe. It's seriously good! Very garlicky tasting and green just like basil pesto. My friends Corey and Yann would love it.
Going to be having it tonight with pasta and swiss chard. I'm roasting the beets on the barbecue now and will make a roasted beet salad with lemon and thyme dressing which I found here.  I love cooking from fresh produce and sometimes regret that I don't have my own vegetable garden.

Next week we are heading to Chicago to meet our son T.'s special girl.  We look forward to hugging our boy and spending quality time with them both.  This year, both our sons have a special girl and we are enjoying having more people at the family dinner table.

My cast has been off for 9 days and I am working every day to make it stronger.  I finished knitting two hats this week and I've never been so happy to do dishes! I am going to cast on my first shawl this week and will have it as my knitting project in Chicago and in France later. Check out the pattern, it's called AGLEAM by Canadian designer Lisa Mutch.  All photos are from her Ravelry page:
All images via



I am making it with the same yarn featured in the pictures, it's called Metallurgy MCN by Northbound Knitting and is hand-dyed by the pattern designer. Check out my Ravelry page (link on the side bar) to see my finished projects.
I have been knitting rather simple patterns and I thought it might be time to do something different.

So glad to be making again.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I Had PLANS...


I had finished with work a bare month when I fell off the top of the stairs from the upper deck to the lower deck.  It happened so quickly that I barely had time to register that I was falling when I literally hit the deck on my left hip and left arm/hand.

You know how I like a good 'To do' list.  Is it a coincidence that a medium told me about three weeks before my accident: "Stop doing and just be." Check!  I guess I'll be doing a lot of being in the next few weeks, six to eight to be precise.

The photo above was taken three days ago after my follow up visit with the orthopaedic surgeon when I found out that surgery was not required and I got my new orange cast.  Still, I need to go back in two weeks to see if I still don't require surgery.

Yesterday I tried knitting.  The surgeon said I could while specifying: "Let pain be your guide." Well, I cast on 104 stitches and knit half a row before I had to rip it all out and start over. The second time, I cast on 52 and decided that the being part of my day was going to take over.

All in all, though, I have a few gratitudes: broke my left wrist and I am right handed.  Didn't break or seriously injure anything else.  I adapted quickly though not without some self-pity.

My new To do list:
  • Keep up the positive attitude
  • Micro-doing only
  • Stay in touch with friends
  • Enjoy my orange cast
  • Get other people to do all the chopping
  • Pull out those weeds, it's a one hand job anyway!
  • BE

Monday, April 24, 2017

Triplet 2017


Every year when we spend about three months in Cotignac, we do a triplet - or short trip.  This year's focus was to be on Brittany but, at the last minute, we are changed our itinerary to include Vimy.  The 100th anniversary this year made it especially meaningful and therefore necessary for us to visit.
Image via

We are doing this itinerary in 8 days with my sister D. and her husband.  It's a lot of driving but still manageable for Canadians!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

These two...


Tristan (right) is home from Chicago for his bi-yearly holidays and Damien is studying in Saskatoon. Because of this, they don't get to see much of each other. Solution: V. drives T. to see D. in Saskatoon for a 24-hour stay. Ten hours on the road meant nothing to their father, a small price to pay to make sure they could connect before the next long wait before a visit.

This picture (excuse the poor quality) makes my heart sing.  They share a strong bond that was our intention from the first.  V. is an only child and I have 5 siblings and am only really close to one of them.  It was V.'s and my wish that our children really felt and feel they have each other. We always told them that when we are gone, they will be each others' family.

We are, all of us, blessed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring Run Off


April in Edmonton by David Cure-Hryciuk
What was hard as iron now seeping through the grass, rushing down the curb to the drain, waking plants from their long sleep.  The edges of my soul are lifting, my eye looks outward, my body springs forth jubilant,  energized by warmer temperatures.

Spring has arrived.

All but a few tiny patches of dirty white stuff persist in the shade, buds are trying to bud while the ground is begging for a good spring clean waiting patiently for the lid to come off.

The sun is aggressive at the top of the afternoon on the deck, close your eyes and it could be May for a few minutes if you ignore the rotting damp smells around you.  Hot and cold, dry and damp, light and shadow are engaged in a dance of alternating leads.

Spring is here.

Work draws to an end.  My students are blades of grass weighed down with winter debris, dreaming of semester's end to lean heavily into the life-affirming rays of the sun.

Spring draws me into the garden, into my body, into a heightened social season, onto an island for a 20th-anniversary retreat with my 7 reading circle sisters.

Welcome Spring.  Je t'aime.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Semi-retirement Rhythm

Being semi-retired is the most fun of all. Lots of holidays for six months and stimulating work, part-time for the next six months.  The perfect balance for me at this time.

My years are divided into four 'seasons' of retirement now.  And these together, form a rhythm that keeps my motivation and interest up throughout the year.  I love the variety and the different levels of intensity they afford me.


Part I - In my head





Yesterday was my first day back teaching. I teach one course at the university from the beginning of January to end April.  It's a planning and teaching strategies course for second year Education students.  I love it, I love teaching.

In this first 'season' of my semi-retirement year, my mind becomes sharper and more focused as I am constantly thinking about how to better explain, exemplify and illustrate to make the abstract more concrete.

It is also a time of reflexion, prioritizing and goal setting.  The cold and dark are conducive to this sort of activity and the time spent engaged in reflexion pays off throughout the rest of the year.

So the cold winter months are spent thinking and reflecting and trying to keep up a healthy social calendar to beat the blues that inevitably envelop me as winter progresses.


Part II - Body and soul:


Before
After
By the end of April, the sun has warmed my bones and  I'm in the garden preparing for the growing season and inside embarking on another renovation project. This part of the year, I move from inside my head to in my body as it is a physically demanding 'season'. I build up my stamina going up and down the stairs, inside and outside, up and down ladders, pulling, pushing, stretching and bending.  A lot of the work is repetitive and therefore meditative. I am never more in a natural meditative state than when painting for example...

This is the 'season' where I am most in tune with my body and my soul. I spend every moment I can out of doors either working in the garden on having a beer on the deck with V.


Part III - Playtime
Picking figs on the other side of the
stream from our terrace

What is there to say? This is the most restful and relaxing part of the year.  From mid-August to the end of October, it is playtime. We visit with friends and travel to new places experiencing and learning new things.  This year, we will be exploring Brittany and a couple of cities in our vicinity.

This  'season' is spent hanging out with friends in the sunshine, taking a car drive to check out a neighboring town, restaurant lunches, reading and swimming at the pool, cocktail hour, brocanting (antiquing) and embarking on new adventures. This season is packed with FUN.


Part IV - Transition



My fellas
Wee Elves

This season is the most challenging to embark upon as we hit the ground running into it.  We have no sooner landed than we are in the field supervising student teachers.  This work takes us to the end of the first week of December.  During this period, we are acclimatizing, driving, observing, giving feedback, problem-solving, catching up with friends and family and getting the house in order for winter and the holiday season!

It is the month of transition from holidays to work, European to Canadian culture and from a typically Mediterranean climate to Canadian climate (often 20+ degrees lower at this time of year). We move from a leisurely lifestyle to one almost frenetic as we rush to prepare Christmas for our sons' visits.  This is the 'season' where I do the most knitting.  Whenever I have a spare moment, it is what I do.  I think that knitting is the buffer I need between all of that running around.  In November and December, I knit 6 toques 5 Wee Elves a neck warmer. Check out my Ravelry page.


It has taken me a lot of time to find my retirement rhythm but by November 2016, I'd found it. We anticipate having these four 'seasons' for a few years to come yet until it is time to readjust in keeping with our health, our interests, and our family's needs.  I anticipate grandbabies in my future sometime and I know I will probably want to be away for less extended periods.

For now, it is very good and I am grateful.