Friday, February 25, 2011

simple smiles: a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

It’s been a long week of painting and sanding and baseboards and drop cloths as my husband and I prepare our new house for our big move this weekend but the simple sweetness of a stranger has put a smile on my face that continues to brighten my week. It's not so often that a stranger takes it upon themselves to go out of their way to do something nice for someone they don't know. Sure, holding the door open for the person after you or letting someone know they dropped their scarf are certainly kind gestures that shouldn't go unnoticed...but when was the last time a stranger's generous gesture really warmed your heart? I was fortunate enough to experience such a thing this weekend as the doorbell rang at my new house after having only received our keys less than 24 hours earlier. Imagine our surprise to find that our new neighbour had dropped by, flowers in hand, to welcome us to the neighbourhood and offer her phone number in case there was anything she could do to help us. A simple reminder that we really do live in a wonderful world.
Neighbours can be a tricky thing. While some are sweet and smile and ultimately stay out of your way, others can borderline on being overbearing and a bother. I'm hoping that Bonny's kind gesture makes her the former and we’ll be waving at each other from across the way with chit chat and well wishes for a good day. Moving into a brand new house with fresh faces and strange surroundings can be daunting even in the best of neighbourhoods so knowing we’re moving in next to someone nice is quite comforting. We’re definitely going to feel like the new kids in town for a while, but feeling welcome will really go along way as we get settled. And now, thanks to the small gesture from a kind neighbour, sitting among the saw dust and paint cans and boxes and tools is a lovely flower arrangement that not only brightens up the room but has helped to make our new house into a home.

What are your neighbours like? Do you live in a friendly neighbourhood?

Friday, February 18, 2011

how to paint a room

I wish I was here to let you in on some little secrets about renovating a room through the magic of paint. I wish I knew the ins and outs of tackling a transformation. But I’m not. And I don’t. I’m about to undertake a little painting project of my own and instead of how to paint a room, for me, it’s more like how do I paint a room.

My husband and I are over-the-moon excited to be getting the keys to our new house tomorrow. As it is our first time being homeowners, we are so looking forward to having our own place and experiencing what it’s like to make our house our home. However, we haven’t even moved in yet and it hasn’t taken us long to discover that a new home means more space, more responsibility and way too many options. Picking a paint colour for the living room in our new home proved to be a process that made us realize just how little we actually know about painting and decorating a home, even though we would probably call ourselves both creative and handy.
{the before - with the old homeowners' furniture}
{the inspiration for colour via}
I actually really like painting walls. I don't know if it's the artist in me that sees them as a blank canvas or my secret longing to be good at interior design but either way, I can't wait to throw on some old clothes, get up on our ladder and see the first swipe of colour make its mark on the white walls. That may be the easiest part of the process though, because as we stood wide-eyed and wondering in front of the swatches of slightly varied shades of paint colours, we soon realized we really weren’t sure what we wanted our walls to look like. Would Mushroom Bisque be the colour of choice for our living room? Or would the lighter Gobi Desert be better? Would Espresso Bean be the perfect pick for our feature wall? Is Chocolate Swirl too yummy looking? (It indeed is, just in case you were wondering…) We may have had our inspiration for dinner but picking the perfect paint colours would take a few more trips to Home Depot before we decided that Basketry would win, despite its lack of a more masculine name for my man. So as we dive into decorating our new domain tomorrow, I am confident that there are many more things we will learn along the way. The best way to tape edges? I have no idea. How long it will all take? Beats me. But what I do know is that I’m excited. I’m excited for a new house and I’m excited it’s mine to make my own.

Any painting tips? Would you hire someone to paint your house or do it on your own?

Monday, February 14, 2011

be my valentine

Ted’s Two Minute Date on How I Met Your Mother is one of the sweetest displays of affection I have ever seen. Fitting dinner, dessert, a movie and flowers into two minutes to take advantage of a schedule too busy for dating makes my heart melt. (Yours, too, right?) And while not many of us have the chance to date a TV character like Ted, I think there is so much to be said about someone who can take a simple idea and make it special, whether it’s remembering your favourite flower, recreating an important date or just knowing what will make you smile. With the thousands of dates planned for tonight, chances are some will be better than others and while they all may not be action packed or overly adorable, memories will most likely be made.
Everyone has their own idea of the perfect date. My idea of the perfect date doesn’t mean the most expensive restaurant or the most elaborate plans but, instead, it’s the simple things that go the furthest, the things that so obviously took time and love to plan that end up meaning the most. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who treats me to plenty of romantic evenings and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to date nights. My surprise picnic in the park or the time he took me as a tourist all around our town certainly stick out in my mind as perfectly planned outings with the one I love. But what sticks with me the most is how much our dates make me feel special, it’s how meaningful they are and how I can always tell that he was thinking of me throughout it all. No matter what we do or where we go, it’s the little things that let me know I’m loved. So no matter who you’re with, where you’re going or whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope love is in the air!

What’s your idea of the perfect date? Got any bad date stories?

Friday, February 11, 2011

nice to meet you

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and celebrations of love in full swing, it seems only appropriate to reflect on our relationships and how we got to where we are. Just like any relationship, love has to begin somewhere. Whether it’s a nerve wracking blind date, a chance encounter in a coffee shop or a childhood play date turned perfect partner, everyone has a story. Some stories are romantic, the kind that make your heart melt, others funny and maybe even a little embarrassing. Some are stories of unexpected introductions while others are perfectly planned proposals. When I look back at the people who mean the most to me in my life, it makes me smile to think of the first time we were face to face.
I love hearing about how people met. I think there’s something so sweet that comes with going back to the beginning and recalling your earliest memories. And the best part is that everyone really does have a story. Even if you can’t remember it perfectly or it wasn’t picture perfect, meeting someone for the first time can turn out to be a very special thing.

My husband and I definitely do not have the most romantic how-we-met story. We met during our first year of university, where his party animal ways had begun to make a name for himself. We were first introduced by a mutual friend and I ever-so-sweetly (okay, maybe it was more stand-offish than sweet!) said “I’ve heard about you…” Nice, right? Calling someone out with the first words you ever say to them? Probably not the best way to make friends (or find a husband!) and pretty out of character for me but it was enough to convince him that I was worth getting to know and it wasn’t long before we became best buds. It may not be a romantic story but it’s our story…and, especially because I can’t change it, I’ve learned to embrace it…even if I’m a bit embarrassed about being so blunt with him! In the end though, no matter how we met, I couldn’t be happier that we did.

How did you meet your love? Or closest friend? Know anyone with a great story?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

put your hands up

When you think ‘crime fighting hero’ I’m guessing the first thing that comes to mind is not a grandmother and her handbag. (If it is, I’d love to hear why!) But that’s exactly who the hero of the hour was this week in the UK. When she heard a commotion down the street, the wee wonder of a woman took it upon herself to stop the six suspects from smashing the store windows and ultimately stopped a robbery from taking place.
I'd like to think I'd be that brave. If my life wasn't in immediate danger, I'd like to think I'd be the one running across the street, wildly waving my purse, stopping a crime from getting any worse, but I honestly don't think I could ever predict my reaction. Of course I’d want to be the one that saves a stranger or blocks a break-in, but would I? Would I be the one to cause a commotion, to come to the rescue, to look danger in the eye? I think when situations suddenly present themselves, a split second decision is what shocks you into action...not the hours you've spent analyzing what you would, should or could do.

My husband often tells the story of when he was a young boy and became pinned under a full flower box that he had tried to climb. His sweet four-foot-eleven little lady of a mother suddenly appeared, as strong as Hercules, and lifted the 300 pound box off her little boy. Ask her to do it again, without her son underneath, and I guarantee she'd struggle to shift it ever so slightly. But when danger strikes, we so selflessly jump to the rescue without stopping to think about our actually abilities or certain consequences. I can only hope that my courage will kick in when I need it, that my muscles can move more than I realize and that I, too, could save the day if I had to.

What would you do? Have you ever witnesses a crime?

Monday, February 7, 2011

blue forty two

With millions of people tuned in to the most watched program of the year, chances are that you or someone you know was parked in front of the TV yesterday watching the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. If you were like me, cheering for the good guys in gold and black, the score may not have been as you hoped but whether you watch for the football, the food or the hyped-up half time show, hopefully it was an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
I love major sporting events. I'll be the first to admit that I don't follow football throughout the year but come playoff time I'm suddenly interested in the outcome of the games. While I am a big sports fan and truly enjoy almost any sport with hockey at the top of my list, what gets me excited more than the on field athletics of a major match is the fun had while watching…the good friends, the friendly competition between fans and, of course, the fattening food that comes with any championship. To me, Super Bowl Sunday means nachos, pizza and chicken wings…all three of which I filled up on yesterday while watching the game. Even as my tummy told me to stop, I couldn't help pigging out on everything in front of me. Major sporting events seem to mean a majorly full stomach. There’s something about getting together with a group of family or friends to watch a game that makes me throw all my nutrition knowledge out the window. Portion control (along with my indoor voice) often doesn’t get to join me when it comes to watching any big game of the season. Sure, I’m still feeling a little full, a little uncomfortable, but considering the Super Bowl only comes once a year, chowing down on chicken wings isn’t something I’m going to say no to. Whether it was the company, the football or the food that put a smile on my face, Super Bowl Sunday did not disappoint. My team may not have won but my tummy sure did!

Are you a sports fan? Did you watch the Super Bowl?

Friday, February 4, 2011

seeing double

In my opinion, flash mobs are a stroke of creative genius. Coordinating a large (or small) group to perform a seemingly impromptu activity without breaking character cannot be an easy feat but as it's popularity spreads like wildfire around the world, more and more people are trying their hand at staging a scene. Improv Everywhere, the New York City comedy group, has helped make flash mobs an international activity with their undercover agents and hundreds of missions and their commitment to creating chaos, confusion and of course joy has captivated me.
How awesome is the Human Mirror? Really awesome, right? I think what catches my eye the most, other than the obvious, the amazing acting abilities and perfect placement of all involved, is the reaction from the spectators. It cracks me up to see the dramatic double takes and the wide eyed wonderers. I think I’d probably be one of those awkward eye averting audience members who doesn't want to stare but secretly wishes she could whip out her camera and take lots of photos (because let's face it, as much as it makes me smile, I'm not really one for staring!). I think public displays of artistic endeavors are just what the world needs sometimes. How much would your mood improve if on the subway ride home from a tough day at work you found yourself inside a magically mirrored subway car? I'm pretty sure I'd be forgetting about fretting and focused on the fun in front of me. Or while waiting to catch the train, everyone around you breaks into song and dance? It sure would turn my frown upside down!
Creativity sparks conversation, it inspires others and it makes people stop and think...and I personally love seeing it in public places. While flash mobs may cause confusion, they are good clean fun that make so many smile.

Have you ever seen a flash mob in person? Have you ever participated in one?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

reaching for the stars

A new year is supposed to mean a new you, right? Eating healthy, getting rid of bad habits, becoming a better friend…all great goals for the start of a brand new year. But now that we have officially fallen into February, chances are that those oh-so-healthy New Year’s resolutions didn't quite make their way into the new month with you. If you’re like most who made a commitment to change, chances are that you may not have reached your goal.
I've never been into resolutions. I think they are great for other people and if they inspire you to make a change for the better in your life, if only for a month, than I wish you long lasting success. They're just not for me. As my husband so cleverly pointed out, I'm better at evolutions and not resolutions. Making changes throughout the year, however big or small, tends to increase my chances of bettering myself. Giving up sugar for one month can be quite easy and often longer lasting than 30 days...but committing to cut back on my candy consumption starting January 1st would probably have seen me sneaking sweets the first week in.
I feel like my only resolution, if it could be called that, is somewhat backwards. My husband and I tend to swear off the gym for the month of January, knowing it will be full of eager exercisers looking to keep up with their resolutions and drop those holiday pounds. It was pretty evident last night as we made our way to the gym, finding only a couple cardio machines in use, compared to a couple weeks ago when finding an open machine proved to be the only challenging activity available. It may sound like I think I have nothing to work on but trust me, I do. Throughout the year, I can guarantee you I will come up with a handful of habits that I could do without or a list of new things to learn. But I know myself enough to know that if I truly want to commit to something, setting small goals for myself is the way to go. I'll evolve, learn a lot and make it to the end of the year as a better person without feeling like a failure because I couldn’t keep up with my New Year’s resolution. A new year does mean a new me…but it just won't happen overnight.

Have you stayed committed to your resolutions? Any advice for reaching your goals?