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The Pre-Baby List ...

Thursday, November 7, 2013
... Also known as the "Who Knew A Little White Stick Could Cause So Much Grief?!" list ...

Yes, I know it's been ages since I've posted on this blog but I've been busy posting and managing the Skyline Paperie blog (here) and this blog is supposed to be about my personal life and my personal life isn't that interesting, really. But since this is a more personal post, I felt it was appropriate to post it here. And so, on that note, the Heart Like Confetti blog has been officially resurrected. 

Below is a list. A list of random things I want to do, see and accomplish before the Mister and I have a baby. No, I'm not pregnant. Yes, I want to be. And until that stupid little white stick that I find myself peeing on every month decides to cooperate with me, I'll be busy working my way through the following goals:

- Reach 150 followers on the Skyline Paperie blog
- Reach 50 subscribers on the Skyline Paperie YouTube channel
- Reach 50 Facebook followers for the Skyline Paperie page
- Get 5 more scrapbook layouts published
- Be a guest designer for a month on one of my favorite blogs
- Make $3,500 from my online shop 
- Travel to CHA as a merchant 

- Go back to Las Vegas
- Go to Paris (preferably for a month)
- Go to San Francisco
- Go to Napa Valley - drink lotsa wine! 
- Go back to New Orleans
- Go back to New York City / Long Island 
- Go to Santorini Islands, Greece

- Lose another 15 lbs 
- Master the art of doing perfect eye makeup
- Re-vamp my entire wardrobe

- Go on a date with Alan to Central Restaurant
- Master conversational Mandarin
- Read Anna Karenina and watch the movie (in that order)
- Buy a home OR move into a "10 year rental" 
- Finish the "newlywed" scrapbook album

I will be editing and updating this list as new things come to mind. 

Dear Restaurants, I Really Miss You.

Thursday, March 7, 2013
The tradition of giving something up for the season of Lent hasn't really been a part of how I prepare for and celebrate Easter. I always saw it as more of a "Catholic thing" and, well, I'm not Catholic. I'm also not a big fan of depriving myself of things I enjoy, so I was more than happy to sit this out. One year, when I was about seventeen, I tried giving up eating pasta (big, epic fail) and another year I gave up drinking Starbucks. Most years, though, Christmas rolls seamlessly into Easter and Lent comes and goes without any real observance on my part. 

In January, Alan and I began seriously considering our tithe and how much of our income we should give to our church. We were really wrestling with the question "How much is enough? How do we be generous and cheerful givers, while simultaneously being financially responsible and taking care to tend to the needs of our family?" We prayed about it, we read books about it, we listened to sermons about it. And the answer we eventually embraced was that you should give enough that it matters. It's not so much about giving a specific amount each month as it is about giving enough away that you actually feel it ... enough that it makes a tangible difference in your life and requires some sacrifice. 

Long story short, this same idea carried over into our views of Lent. We decided that fasting from something would be a good spiritual exercise for us as a couple, and we wanted to give up something that mattered; something we'd really feel and notice. Eating out in restaurants was that thing. We are both foodies and we love a good meal so it's not unusual for us to dine out two ... three ... sometimes even four times a week. We just love the experience and the convenience. We realize it's a luxury, but it's become a luxury we take for granted. Eating out is very much a part of our routine and lifestyle. Giving that up is, for us, HUGE. 

We're now three weeks into our commitment and boy are we are feeling it, big time. Our habit of going out for a Sunday brunch after church? Not happening. Too lazy or tired to cook? Too bad; ordering in is not an option. I'm beginning to realize how limited my recipe collection is, how much doing dishes sucks, how one food craving can turn a great day inside out and leave me feeling frustrated and annoyed. Now, when we want to run errands after church we bring homemade lunches with us. On Saturday, I'm going shopping with some girlfriends and I'm planning to bring a soup with me to eat for lunch ... they'll probably grab something from the food court. It's inconvenient. It requires thoughtful preparation. It takes creativity and time and effort. In a nutshell - it ain't easy.

But I'm also starting to *get* it ... truly get it. This might sound crazy but having something taken away for a time ... fasting from something ... really does make one ponder the meaning and significance of Easter. Easter is about resurrection and rebirth. Stepping away from your routine or from something that plays a major role in your everyday life creates room for rebirth to happen. I'm not saying that Alan and I won't ever eat out in restaurants again - haha, we're already planning which restaurant to visit first once our fast is broken! I do, however, think this experience has reminded us of the difference between necessities and luxuries, and it has challenged us. It's made us more aware of our selfishness, our laziness, our "I deserve this" attitudes. It's taught us to encourage one another and hold each other accountable. 

We still have another three weeks to go, but I'm confident that we will leave this journey changed people.

Last Day Of Work // New Life Begins

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Remember that post earlier this month where I said I had handed in my resignation for later this spring? Yeah, well, it turns out "later this spring" came a whole lot sooner than I expected. Today was my last day at work. If everything goes according to plan (namely, if I get pregnant later this year or early next year) then today was quite possibly my last day of traditional 9-to-5 type work EVER. So weird.

I have a bunch of blog posts waiting to be finished and posted here, but before I get to any of that I really wanted to take time to document the lessons I've learned over the past three years as an administrative assistant in a retail customer service environment. I didn't grow up planning to work in an office, answering phones and transferring calls and responding to emails. Between elementary school and university, my various career aspirations included wanting to be a princess, a teacher, a writer, a marine biologist, a parapsychologist, a wedding planner, a lawyer, a social worker and an art curator - just to name a few! Secretarial, administrative work was never on my list and never something I aspired to ... yet it was definitely part of God's plan for me. 

Being an administrative assistant humbled me. I was offered a job before I moved to Vancouver but, once here, that quickly fell apart and I was left scrambling for new employment. When I was offered the job at the office I was relieved and grateful. It didn't take long, though, for that gratitude to be replaced with a prideful attitude. As someone with a university education, I felt that I was "above" being an administrative assistant. I felt embarrassed when new acquaintances asked me what I did for work and I had to confess that I was "just" an administrative assistant. My friends were pursuing careers in medicine, law, engineering, science, real estate, etc and I felt leap years behind. God used this experience to reveal my prideful heart and, together, we worked through my issues of insecurity and arrogance. It took time but eventually I got to a place where I was able to say, with confidence, that my career does not define me. This would never have happened if I had been handed a career that fed into my pridefulness. 

Working in Customer Service taught me a thing or two about serving other people. I spent my days tending to tasks assigned to me by my boss or working on behalf of clients to resolve an issue. As mentioned earlier, being a princess was the first job I ever wanted and, while I certainly matured over the years, I definitely carried that with me well into my twenties. Serving other people and putting other people's needs/desires before my own is not something that comes easily or naturally to me ... and there I was, working 9-to-5 doing just that. Funny how life works sometimes ...

My job reminded me daily of grace. Over the past three years, I dealt with people who were angry, frustrated and upset. Of course, not EVERY client was calling or writing to complain about something, but many were. I had people call me nasty names, hang up on me, even threaten me. I lost my cool once, hanging up on a man who was threatening me, but most of the time I was able to respond professionally and with kindness. I kept Bible verses on my desk and would read them while one the phone with a particularly difficult customer. I can't say I'm going to miss being verbally attacked by outraged clients, but I wouldn't trade that experience. It was really good practice in dishing out grace, and a great reminder that my strength comes from the Lord.

I'm really grateful for the lessons I've learned over the past 3 years, and the way God has been working in me. He definitely used my job to shape and mold me, and I'm sure He will use my experiences as a stay-at-home wife and (eventually) mother to further grow me into the disciple I am called to be. It will be so strange to wake up tomorrow and not have to rush out the door to work! I'm excited to see what's in store. Stay tuned! :)


Our First "Love Day" As Mr. & Mrs

Friday, February 15, 2013
Valentine's Day was a quiet, but cozy, one for us. Before I left for work that morning, I wrote 15 little post-it notes to Alan reminding him of how much I love him & what traits I admire most in him. I left them on our door as a surprise. When I got home, I was surprised with a gorgeous bouquet of a dozen pink roses. We cooked dinner together (chicken breast stuffed with crab .. mmmmm delicious) and shared a bottle of wine. We exchanged handmade Valentines.

This is gonna sound cheesy but in our house, Love Day is everyday. We love to surprise each other with little trinkets and gifts, and we express our affections for one another often. For us, Valentine's Day is really just an excuse to treat ourselves with a good meal. I'm sure once we have children and aren't able to go out on grown-up dates as often we'll appreciate Valentine's Day more ... but we'll never need a holiday to remember to be grateful for each other. 

I hope you had a wonderful day with the ones you love! 

Our Winter Retreat

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
It's safe to say that the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for us. We got home from Hawaii and grudgingly slipped back into "real life". We changed churches and became involved with a new community group (aka weekly Bible study/discussion group). We both got sick and felt under the weather for a good two weeks. Alan's work got crazy busy and he had to put in a lot of overtime. I quit my job. 

We're only a month and a half in and, already, 2013 has been a year of growth, change and transition. It's been exciting but it's also been a little exhausting. We both agreed that we needed a weekend away - just some time out of the city to focus on catching our breath & reconnecting with each other. A couples' retreat. 

We decided to keep it very low-key and ended up spending the weekend in Abbotsford, a nearby city an hour or so from Vancouver. We ate good food, had good conversation, read good books ... and, thankfully, the weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery as we strolled around the lake. It was glorious.

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind
- CS Lewis

and all of a sudden, life was a blank canvas.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I quit my job today.

Okay, so technically I gave notice of my resignation for later this spring. It's not like I stormed into the office, gave a good rant and stormed right out. But in resigning, I did take a bold, unexpected step toward a whole new life ... and honestly? It was just downright terrifying. 

I'm a planner. I like things organized; life events on a schedule with a very clear itinerary. I like to know the when, where and how of every major decision far in advance so I can make choices accordingly. I like to stick to the plan. And this, this was NOT part of the 2013 plan. The plan was to work until I got pregnant, whenever that may be, and then go off on maternity leave and transition slowly into life as a stay-at-home-mommy.

Well, I'm not pregnant and there's no maternity leave in my near future. I'm not transitioning to a new position or a new work environment. I'm not leaving because my employer was mean (he wasn't) or because of unethical business practices (there weren't any) or because the salary sucked (it didn't). I'm not leaving because we're moving away to a new city. 

I'm leaving because of a stupid little sign I saw in Chapters that said -

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

Obviously, there's MUCH more to this story than just that one sign but I think the sign sums it up quite nicely. Maybe I'll share more on my reasons for leaving another time, but for now I want to reflect on some of the reasons that leaving was so hard despite my husband's encouragement and my knowing that it was the right step.

As someone who's been working full-time hours for the past ten years, an "independent woman" with her own income and the ability to take care of herself, the decision to quit and become financially dependent on my husband was scary. There are ladies out there who will argue that it's downright irresponsible and I get that. I wrestled with that too. For me, it became a matter of trust. Do I truly trust my husband? Do I trust that he has my best interests at heart? Do I truly trust God? Do I trust that the Lord will provide for us and bless us if we are obedient to Him and His plan? It took time and a lot of prayers, but eventually the answer to all those questions was a resounding "yes!". 

Then there was also the issue of loyalty to work through. My boss has been incredible to me and I've been so fortunate to have had this job - a job that, arguably, I didn't deserve and certainly wasn't qualified for. There was a part of me that felt that leaving was a form of betrayal. Again, it took time and prayer, but eventually I reached a place where I understood that you don't always have to do what other people want/expect of you to honor the blessings they've poured into your life. 

And last, but certainly not least, there was that fear of being judged. "What are people going to think of me when they hear that I've quit a perfectly good job for no apparent reason? Am I going to be labelled a lazy housewife who got married and within months started mooching off her husband? Are people going to lose respect for me? There are certain people who are just gonna have a field day with this ... are the rest of my friends going to be supportive?"

It was that last issue that held me back the longest. I am, admittedly, way too wrapped up in what other people think of me and my life. I have often made decisions based not on my own desires and aspirations but on the reactions I expected to receive from other people. I wouldn't say that I'm a "people pleaser" but I am definitely a "praise-and-compliment-seeker". I have a tendency to thrive from the approval and admiration of others and therefore make decisions I feel will garner the most public support.  At twenty-six, I've finally come to the conclusion that this is no way to live. 

So this afternoon I informed my boss that I will be leaving. It was a difficult, awkward conversation. But when it was over, I felt soooooooooooooo good. I am so excited to see what new projects and adventures are in store for me later this year - I have a few in mind but, really, I just want to give God space to work! And can I just say how freakin' proud I am of myself??!! It's so hard to step out in faith and take a risk, to deviate from the plan ... but sometimes, when you allow the plan to get messy, an even better one comes along. 

The biggest mistake you can ever make is being too afraid to make one. 

snapshots of our wedding, part two

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
As promised, here is part two of our wedding story with a special emphasis on my dress. I've heard stories of girls who spend months dress shopping but I went to one store, for about one hour, and bought the 4th dress I tried on. Easy peasy! 

My mom flew in from Montreal for the weekend and together, along with three of my bridesmaids, we ventured out to find "the dress". Several Vancouver friends had recommended a shop called Lisa's Bridal so I booked an early morning appointment. (Note to future brides: ALWAYS book an appointment. You will get better service because they'll have a consultant and a room set aside for you, and you get one-on-one attention). 

Going in, I had a very specific vision in mind of what kind of dress I wanted. I wanted a mermaid gown with lace and ruching around the bust area. I wanted white, and ONLY white - none of this ivory or cream business! I didn't want a princess gown and I definitely didn't want to go strapless. I conveyed all this to my consultant, who was an absolute gem to work with, and we headed into the shop where I immediately spied these beauties .... 

As soon as I saw those beautiful gowns, it was game over. My vision went out the window and I just wanted to try everything on! I tried on a mermaid gown first and it was an epic fail - mermaid style does NOT look good on ladies with Caribbean curves. Not including that hideous mermaid, I liked almost every gown I put on but definitely had two favorites. The first was a huge, puffy princess gown in a "blush white" color - meaning white/ivory with shades of pink. The second was a more traditional, A-line gown with the lace and ruching I wanted. It was a tough decision, but in the end I went with gown number two ... the traditional A-line. The first dress made me feel like a ballerina, but the second made me feel like a bride.

It had a lace-up back, a subtle floral pattern around the bodice and down the skirt, a long train and gorgeous ruching that made my waist look teeny tiny! Anything that makes my waist look good is a keeper. 

Because my dress had a lot going on with the lace, the beading, the floral pattern, etc  I decided to keep all other fashion details pretty simple. I chose a mantilla lace veil, sported baby blue TOMS with 1 Corinthians 13 on them and wore classic, pearl chandelier earrings. I felt beautiful and comfortable, which is exactly how a dream wedding dress should feel!

And there you have it, my "say yes to the dress" story! It was honestly the most enjoyable part of wedding planning for me and the least stressful. I'd love to hear about your wedding dress or, if you're not married yet, what kind of a gown you dream of! 

Where Have All The Children Gone?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

That's our neighborhood. Lovely isn't it? We're a ten minute drive from downtown, which is super convenient but also far enough away from the "action" that this part of town is relatively quiet. The beach, Granville Island and major bus routes are all just a short walk away. This 'hood is popping with coffee shops and trendy restaurants and cute boutiques. And check out the view of the mountains off in the distance! I LOVE that view. Our neighborhood is very newlywed-friendly and we love living here. 

There's just one thing missing: children. No, I don't mean ours but children in general. 

If everything goes according to plan, Alan and I have at least another full year or so before we become parents. But with babies *hopefully* on the horizon, I've been noticing families more. Correction: I've been actively keeping my eyes open for families. While I occasionally see a mom strolling down the street, her little one in a trendy stroller with a coffee cup holder (note to self: must get one of those!), these sightings are few and far between. There really aren't many children here at all. 

I get that cities in general aren't usually considered an ideal place to raise kids. When you add the financial expense of living in our particular neighborhood it makes city life an even less ideal choice for families. We've played around with the idea of moving to the suburbs, where housing is more affordable and young families are more common, and it's certainly tempting. I completely understand why so many of my peers are choosing to make that choice, and I support them in that because it was the right step for their family. But is that the right step for us, for our family? I'm not so sure.

Alan and I didn't just choose this particular neighborhood because of its location or the amazing dining options it offers. We chose this neighborhood because we felt called here ... so much so that we only looked at apartments in this part of town! We strolled the streets and phoned landlords whenever we saw a "For Rent" sign. It didn't even occur to us to look downtown or in other areas because we felt that God had a purpose for us somewhere within this 20-block radius and we wanted to be obedient to that. 

We're still trying to figure out exactly what that purpose is, but I do know this much: this neighborhood of ours NEEDS families. It needs the squeals of little ones running around parks and green space. It needs the innocence and joy that children bring to a community to off-set the materialism and superficiality that is so prevalent here. It needs pillars; people who are willing to put down roots and commit, for better or worse. Vancouver is arguably the most transient city in Canada. Many, if not most, of Vancouver's residents are originally from somewhere else and are here for school or work or a year of living abroad. In a place where homesickness abounds and feelings of isolation are common, families are needed to help bridge the gap - to love and embrace the lonely, to mentor and support those who are far from home. To help create a sense of normalcy among the hussle and bussle. 

I'm not saying it's the right choice for all families. But the more I think + pray about it, the more I believe that it may just be the right choice for ours. 

snapshots of our wedding, part one

Sunday, January 27, 2013
This blog is supposed to be about my life as a newlywed and I realized that I skipped over a pretty important part of the story - namely, our wedding. Because I haven't really recorded the story of our special day anywhere else, and because it was the official happily ever after kick-off, I thought it would be appropriate to share it here.

First, let me just confess that I actually hated wedding planning. It was so stressful and overwhelming! There's so much pressure out there to have the "perfect" day and I think it got the best of me. I remember the pastor greeting me when I arrived at the church minutes before the ceremony started and me saying something along the lines of "okay okay, let's just do this. Let's just get this over!" I think my fists were even clenched like a boxer's. I would've run down that aisle if they'd let me, I was so eager for the whole shebang to be over and done with. 

Despite all the stress, our wedding day was beautiful. Once the music started and I began that slow stroll down the aisle toward my groom, all the chaos began to fade away and it was just us again. But I'll get to that part in another post. First, let's start at the beginning, with the stationary - 

We got engaged in early January and set our wedding date for early July. We decided to have a medium-size wedding with about 75 guests and, in addition to our home city of Vancouver, our guest list included friends and family from Montreal, Taiwan, Japan, England and California. With only six months before the big day, we had to hurry and get invites out as early as possible so people could make necessary travel plans. 

I found all of our wedding stationary, and even a calligrapher, online through Etsy. We went with cursive fonts and a simple damask design. Our wedding colors with gray, yellow and purple ... there was no purple on the stationary, but it was the color we chose for my bridesmaids' dresses - 

I decided not to go with matching bridesmaids dresses. Instead, I gave all the girls a color swatch and let them find and choose a dress that they liked. It worked out perfectly! Each lady picked out a gorgeous dress and, without planning it, they all ended up with knee-length dresses with some ruching around the bodice. If you aren't married yet I highly recommend you consider doing this with your bridesmaids. The girls loved being able to pick a dress that reflected their personality and that they will be able to wear again and again. As you can see, they looked great ...

To save money, we decided to do most of the floral arrangements ourselves. The only arrangements that were made a professional florist were my bouquet and my maid of honor's (my sister) bouquet. Everything else ... the bridesmaids bouquets, the reception centerpieces ... were made with love by my mom and bridesmaid Jessica the day before the wedding! The florist wanted $45 per bridesmaid bouquet and about $300 for the centerpieces; we ended up making all four bouquets AND all ten centerpieces for about $150.

The bridesmaids' bouquets had yellow lilies, pink orchids and baby's breath. They were wrapped in silver sparkly ribbon that I got for a buck at the dollar store. We saved a lot of money but it was VERY time consuming ... to future brides: if you're doing your own flowers, go with something super simple and make sure you have a team of people who can tackle the project for you the day before. 

As for my bouquet, I went with yellow & purple orchids and stephanotis with rhinestones in the center. I'd made a binder of wedding inspiration back in high school and, amazingly, the only thing from that binder that I still really, really wanted was this bouquet. 

My Dad passed away three months before we got engaged. I decided to put some of his ashes in a little vial and attach that to my bouquet ... that way, he still walked me down the aisle. Of all the personal touches we included on our big day, that one was definitely my favorite. I wish he could have been there in person, but I know for a fact he was in spirit. 

Alrighty, that's it for today! I'll post part two next week with a special focus on my dress :)

Happy Sunday!

the struggle of contentment ...

Friday, January 25, 2013

One of the things I struggle with most is contentment. It's not that I'm unhappy - quite the opposite, really; this season of life has been incredibly joy-filled and continues to be. I genuinely love my life, it's just that there's always that anticipation in my heart for more ... for the next phase ... for greater, bigger, better. I'm sure there are lots of definitions for the word "content" but, for me, it means being satisfied. It means having your heart in a place where you are able to look at your life and think "yup. This is enough. This is more than enough. There may be better but if this is all I get, then I am blessed."

Oh sure, there are areas where it's easy to find contentment. I am perfectly content with my husband, thank you very much, and I'm not looking to trade him in for someone better because I believe I've already got the best guy on the planet! But then there are other areas where being at a place of true contentment would be nothing short of a miracle. My hips, for example. I am far from content with my body, and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

When it comes to contentment, one area where I've found myself struggling is with our current home and living arrangements. We are SO crazy blessed to have a two-bedroom apartment in our favorite part of the city. If you're familiar with Vancouver real estate at all then you know that it's not cheap to live here. To have found such a great apartment at such an affordable price is incredible. We're still putting finishing touches on our home's decor and there's still work to be done but, overall, we've got a darn good thing going on here.

Friends come over and tell us how fortunate we are to have so much space and even a balcony!  My girlfriends tell me often how much they love what I've done with the place. This home is more than enough for the two of us ... and still, every now and then I let discontentment creep into my spirit.

I whine about how unfair it is that my Montreal friends pay less in mortgage than we pay in monthly rent. I think about how inconvenient it will be when we have a baby and we need to move our office into the living room area ("will there even be enough space for that? Probably not. It's gonna look terrible!") When I'm elbow-deep in soap spuds doing dishes I find myself wishing we had a dishwasher. The neighbours upstairs are too loud, the guy next door smokes pot, the laundry room is always occupied and for crying out loud we can't even see the snow-capped mountains from our dining room!! (The fact that we can see them from our balcony often goes unmentioned and unappreciated)

For the past few months I've been dreaming and scheming about how awesome life will be when we buy our condo or townhouse. In doing so, I've been completely missing out on the joys this current apartment offers. I'm so thankful that my heart has been changing, albeit slowly, and that I've been appreciating our home more and more. The more I consciously tell myself to be content, the more blessings I notice and the more loveable, cozy quirks I find. This is home, and it is wonderful. Imperfect, but wonderful.

Contentment. It's a great lens through which to see. And now if only I could get a hold on my body image issues ...

High tea at the prettiest patisserie ...

Saturday, January 19, 2013
For Christmas, my husband gave me a little certificate which said I'd be having high tea in January at Patisserie Fur Elise, a new French pastry shop downtown. It was the PERFECT gift because I've been dying to check this place out for months. 

The patisserie is in a lovely Queen Anne-style Victorian heritage house. It's gorgeously decorated, with round wood tables and plush, comfy chairs. The teacups are exquisite, as you can see from the photo above, and there are crystal chandeliers everywhere. I truly felt like I was a princess sipping tea in my urban chateau. We found out from our waitress that the patisserie was actually a wedding gift from a generous groom to his pastry chef bride. He gave her carte blanche and she designed the entire shop from scratch, ordering custom-made chairs and tables and fabrics. I think that's incredibly romantic! I wish I had taken some photos of the building and the tea room but I got really distracted by all the delicious treats coming out to our table. 

Treats like these ...

We started off choosing tea from the tea menu (I chose an award-winning black tea from Taiwan; Alan selected a rooibos tea) and then our food was brought out. It was a great mix of sweet and savoury: croissants, whipped mousse, French macarons, scones and the most amazing cucumber dill sandwich. I've been to high tea before but this was Alan's first high tea experience. I think he was a little taken aback by the pink decor and the extremely girly feel of the place, but in the end the amazing food won him over. 

Everything was delish, but that little pastry in front (pink with the white chantilly cream) was my favorite. Strawberry mousse that was so light I could've easily eaten a dozen in one sitting! Luckily for me, they aren't just a tea room .. they also sell pastries in their shop, including full-size ones of all the desserts shown above. I'm sure I'll be back several times - for the high tea and to pick up a few take-home treats when I need a pick-me-up.

If you're in the Vancouver area you should definitely check them out:  Patisserie Fur Elise, 847 Hamilton Street (one block from Robson). Reservations recommended. 

January Goals .... And A Notebook

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Okay, so I have this little addiction to stationary ... specifically notebooks, journals and agendas. I have dozens of them scattered throughout our home, most of which have never been used, but I just can't stop myself from adding to my collection. There's something about a blank notebook (especially one with a pretty cover) that screams creativity. It's like they call out to me as I walk past and promise that brilliant ideas and poetic prose will come to me if I just add them to my shopping cart. And like a sucker I fall for it, every.single.time.

When I spotted this lovely agenda on Etsy my heart skipped a beat ... 

Pretty cover? Check. Lots of space to schedule in appointments and coffee dates? Check. Fun space to document goals for the month? Check. Affordable? Ummmm not so much at $35 plus shipping. *sigh* I shall covet from a distance. 

So, instead of recording my monthly goals in loopy cursive writing in that nice kraft notebook with the gorgeous cover (yup! still coveting!) I'll just jot them down here. There's only two weeks left of January, so I'm a little behind on the whole monthly goal making thing, but better late than never right?! My goals are pretty simple ... which is a good thing since I've only got 14 days to accomplish them ... 

1. Get more photographs / artwork up on our walls. Currently, we only have 3 framed photos in our living room. We have HUNDREDS of photos from our wedding, honeymoon, recent trip to Hawaii, etc so there's no excuse to not display a few more of them. 

2. Cook something in our new slow cooker. We got a slow cooker for Christmas from my sister and my husband's been rocking it! He made a beef curry stew the other night that was *to die for* ...  I, on the other hand, have yet to use it. Delicious meals that pretty much cook themselves? I really need to get into this.

3. Start a prayer journal. I've been reading an amazing book called The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. It's a fantastic read, which I'll share more about in another post, and one of the things the author recommends is keeping a prayer journal. So often we get all worked up about the prayers that seem to have gone unanswered that we miss all the ones that do get answered. The book illustrates how amazing it is to look through your journal and marvel at the unexpected ways God chooses to bless us. It's also neat to see how our prayers evolve ... sometimes we start praying for one thing and end up praying for something completely different. This has happened to me many, many times.

So those are the goals for the next few days. Welcome 2013! You shall be fabulous.


A New Year, Another Chance

Saturday, January 12, 2013
The bus that I take to work each morning passes by a church that always has the best quotes on its outdoor message board. This week, the sign read: A New Year, Another Chance To Get It Right.

I LOVE that.

It's such an optimistic way of approaching the next 365 days and it applies to so many areas of my life. I am a hardcore resolutions girl - I make them every year, I break them every year, then I make them all over again the following year vowing to do better. This year, for the first time in probably forever, I didn't sit down and make a detailed list of goals to accomplish ... partly because I was traveling home from Hawaii and was jet-lagged and distracted but mostly because, really, all the goals and resolutions I've ever set in my life boil down to the same thing: I just want to get it right.

This year, I'm approaching the whole resolutions thing with more grace and flexibility than I have in years past. The focus is going to be on consciously taking steps in the right direction, rather than checking off a specific goal from my life's never ending to-do list. One step at a time is my new mantra, and taking baby steps in the right direction is my aim for 2013. For me, "getting it right" means making healthier food choices, exercising more, being more patient (with others + with myself) and writing more. I was born with a writer's heart ... this incessant need to dream on paper ... but somewhere along the way I lost touch of that. It's time to start dreaming again, and I'm hoping this blog will be a tool for me to do that.

This isn't my first attempt at blogging. I kept a diary from the age of eleven to the age of seventeen, and began writing a blog (which, really, is just an electronic diary) about five years ago. It started out as a craft blog where I posted photos of all my creative endeavors; then it slowly evolved into a whatever-I-feel-like-writing-about-today kind of blog. I never had many readers and most of my posts had no comments or feedback, but I didn't care because I was writing for myself. Unfortunately, I stumbled into a bad case of writers' block and the number of days between blog posts became longer and longer until eventually I wasn't really writing anything at all. I closed the blog and, months later, started a new food/cooking blog that never really took off ... probably because I'm actually not a very good cook and much prefer EATING food than I do WRITING about it. So, long story short, I closed the door on blogging and went on my merry way.

I didn't think about blogging again until a few weeks ago when I re-read some of my old blog entries. I have such detailed reflections on my time in university, the decision making process that eventually lead me to move out west, my first few months living in my new city. That season of my life is documented with sincere entries that I poured my heart into writing and re-reading those posts took me back to a time and place I'd already forgotten. But then it just stops. Entries about my courtship with my now-husband are few and far between. Posts about our engagement and wedding planning are virtually non-existent. Our honeymoon? Our first-month anniversary? Our first big fight as a newlywed couple? Nope, no posts on any of that. There's just silence ...

That realization made me incredibly sad. The rest of the world wide web might not care where my husband and I went on our first few dates or what I ate or what I wore ... but I care. I might be the only one interested in how we adjusted to living together as newlyweds, but shouldn't I be writing about the things that I care about? Isn't that the whole point? I don't want our newlywed life to go undocumented. I want my future pregnancies to be recorded with more than a monthly bump photo. I want there to be a written history of our family as it grows and blossoms into something precious; I want our adventures and trials to be forever preserved. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now I want to be able to re-read the things I wrote and smile at how far we've all come.

So, that's the goal. I openly admit that at times this blog will be completely presumptuous and self-absorbed. If you choose to read along, you can expect lots of self pep talks and "woe is me, the sky is falling" and lots of photos taken with my camera's ten-second timer and TONS of grammatical errors. But you can also expect honesty and open sharing. Promise. Pinky swear.

Hopefully 2013 will be the year that I finally "get it right" as a blogger. One step, one blog entry at a time.