Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 lessons of 2010.

Well we have just a little over 24 hours to go before 2011 - wow, it all flies by so fast.   I mean, I remember Y2K like it was yesterday. 

So, as I think about what I want to write about - I reflect back on 2010.     And what better to write about than all the learnings of the year.    The A-Ha's.     There have been many, I mean, one of the purposes of this blog is just that, figuring this life out one (beautiful) thing at a time.

So, here are some of my learnings of 2010:

1.    Everyone is on their own journey, everyone's reality belongs to them, as mine does to me - don't for one second think I know what could be going on with anyone else.    Mind my business and only my business.

2.   Apply a filter - always.    Inside voices are not meant for outside.   Keep inside commentary to myself, or for true and trusted friends.    Not meant for work settings, EVER!!    Or family settings for that matter.   (journal it if I have to barf it out somewhere :-p)

3.   Sugar and insulance-resistance cause acne.    Amongst other things.

4.   Speak the truth - always.    Mean what I say, and say what I mean.   If I don't, things will just go off the rails.  FAST.

5.  Compassion.    Find some.

6.   Life has a strange way of making me sit up and listen - so I might as well pay attention from the get-go.

7.   Change my relationship with food - food is vitality, my friend and not my enemy - never forget that.

8.   Working out keeps me sane.     Accept it.

9.   Dont' take it personally (stop being so sensitive) - it likely has nothing to do with me.   And frankly, it's just tiring.

10.  Honour myself:    Eat for vitality, drink less alcohol, get lots of sleep, drink lots of water and love how I spend (all) my time.

And those are my learnings for 2010 my friends.     And what are yours?- come on, please share.     So important to keep searching and learning and sharing.

In the meantime, what's the Life Beautiful Project blog without something beautiful - just for you 24 hours before 2011.

I love this - it's yet another one of those learnings.

"Snuggles" - 'nuff said!

"Simple Joy"

Speaks for itself.


Well my friends, the count down is on to 2011 - take the next 24 hours to truly understand what you've learned, appreciate how you've been gifted, and embrace what is in your power to change.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beautiful things, beautiful season - yes?

In an attempt to be less scrooge-y, I decided to find some beautiful things to share with you.    This will be one of my 2011 projects - to find more beauty around me.   This could be nature, people, moments, or things.    Afterall, I titled this blog-project, "The Life BEAUTIFUL Project", and that it shall be.

Parfum and lilacs - two of my fav's.     In fact, I think I need a new scent for 2011.

I love pretty shoes - use your imagination on what this outfit could look like - love.

"Lean on Me" - if only we paid more attention to the messages in nature.

I just love this on so many levels - casual, clean, pretty, healthy, simple.

So that, my friends, are my beautiful things for today.   Go forth and find all the beauty you can in your world.  Speaking of beauty - I'm off to go bathing suit shopping with a friend - thankfully I'm the "honest opinion" who is tagging along.   

Happy Day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Scrooge-y or too much?

Merry Christmas everyone, or should I say happy day after Boxing Day!    Been a very busy few weeks, which is why I haven't dropped in.     But things are calmer, and I am calmer, and we are.

Speaking of calm - may I just ask:  why does Christmas have to be so insanely busy?    Is anyone else as busy as me?  (surely no one can be as busy as meeeee [jk]).      But let's talk about this.     It seems to me that almost everyone I know runs around with lists, buying, planning, organizing, decorating (yes, I had a thing for my front door, but it stopped there [other than the tree of course]).     There's gift buying, gift wrapping, socializing, menu planning, grocery shopping, work parties, non-work parties (and with that comes wardrobe considerations).

Good grief - really?   does it really need to be this way?       I think with all this frenzy we risk forgetting what Christmas is supposed to be about.   Don't you think?   

Perhaps you're thinking - she's a scrooge, or maybe she's just Christmas'ed out.

But seriously people - who does not dread (too strong of a word?) the wind up?     So, tell me, am I just being scrooge-y, or does anyone out there feel the same?    Go ahead, if you disagree, call me out - I am honestly interested in how other people experience Christmas.

In the meantime, our pooch was in full form once again - she waited patiently for her papparazzi.

Merry Christmas (+ 2 days) from Hub and me!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What a day it's been......

Oh you know those days that just "f-l-o-w"?      You get up feeling great, the sun is shining, the temp is perfect, the snow is sparkly........and you just know it's going to be a great day.   Yes sir.

Oh, and of course it's Friday.      It's been a crazy week this week, and hence, the lack of blogging, but I have a few minutes before I head home from work to drop in and say hi and post a life-update.

We, at work, just found out that our colleague Ashley (Calmly Chaotic) has just been told she is pregnant after a round if In Vitro - so we are celebrating for her today.    And it's her 28th birthday so we can only imagine how happy she is today.   Yey!

My husband and I just found out that a debt we thought we had, we no longer have.   Sigh (of relief).

We are going skiing tomorrow - for me it will be the first time out this year, my hub skiied last weekend.    Woooooo.     Bring on mother nature and a day of fresh air.

I love these days - I embrace them with all my might.   

Hope you had a great week and will have a great weekend.

Pat and I - top of Snowbird/Alta, Utah ~10,000 feet!! (2008)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Humble up for 2011

Yes, that's right, I'm starting to think about a change for 2011.    Actually, that's not true, it's a change I've decided to make today.      It might not be easy, so it might take me till 2011 to get it right (if ever). 
I've decided to "humble up".    Have you ever looked at a situation and thought to yourself that the way you see it, is the ONLY way it actually is?     You know, it's common sense - your common sense.     You might look at something that someone did, or didn't do, and feel annoyed becaused it's not what you would have done.    You feel irked, maybe put out, or even insulted, and if the tables were turned you would have handled it much different, better in fact.

Well, let me tell y'a - I got a little talking to today from a friend, who made me realize that I don't know everything.     Excuse me?    Ahh, yes I do.   I was raised right, I was taught what is right and wrong, what to say when, and what not to say, when to mind my p's and q's, and when to accomodate (which is almost always btw.)   And, there is only one way to handle a situation, and it's the right way.    Right? 

Wrong.     I realized that not only are we all on our own personal journeys, but common sense may be different from different stand-points, my right and wrong, might not be someone else's right and wrong, how something registers with me, may register differently with someone else.

So, my mantra for 2011:   "humble up Susan" - this immediately makes me accept that I cannot control the actions or non-actions of others, obsessing about it only makes me unhappy, I cannot possibly understand the world of others, and I must focus only on that which I can control and change - because this reality I live in belongs to me and only me.

Phew - I feel better now.    So, since this post is really about bringing more joy and happiness in our lives, I bring you this:

(source) - if this doesn't make you smile, then, I dunno.........this is funny on so many levels (from my stand-point of course)

(source) - let us not forget this, EVER!

(source) - this is just so simple and easy.

(source) - Only when we stop obsessing about things outside of our control will we realize we can just turn on the light - I love this!!


So friends, have you any thoughts on 2011?     Yeah, I know, Christmas isn't even here yet - but I think it's never too early (or late) for a reality check.     As Caitlin of Operation Beautiful says, "change the way you see, rather than the way you look" - good mantra for 2011!!     Yes?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Operation 40-something dating scene

I'm watching an episode of Steven and Chris as we speak, and the discussion is around dating rules.    Should a girl wait for the guy, how long before a phone call, etc.

But I think it's worth a discussion on where 40 and 50-something's meet people to date.       I mean really?   Where does one go to meet other potential life partners?     Many people in their 40's and 50's are partnered, and because people tend to hang with those of like lives, don't know many other single people.    But let's face it, it happens to us all (OK, maybe not all of us), where the plan doesn't go as planned, and we find ourselves, or our friends and family find themselves, in "singledom".

So then what?   I'd like to open the floor (post) for discussion - please leave me a comment on some of your thoughts/ideas.   Leave a comment anonomously if you prefer.

Here's what I say - let's make an effort in 2011 to bring people together.    I don't think it has to be singles and singles necessarily - but rather, people in our lives of ALL statuses.   Let's broaden our circles (boxes?) and reach out, meet new people, make introductions.   We just never know who we'll meet that could bring joy to our lives, or the lives of our family and friends.


I think this will be one of my 2011 projects.    Yes, I am liking the way this feels.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sugar is not just bad for your butt.........and a little duck anyone?

(note:  you are entering a pretty lengthy post - get comfie :))

A visit to my Naturopathic Doctor (ND) yesterday, is inspring this post.    Feel it worthy of discussion, since it rarely is discussed, never mind addressed by regular mainstream GP's.

My call to my ND yesterday was prompted by a few things:    my skin seems to have a found a mind of it's own (acne), and I've have been noticing (especially since the beginning of my Alcohol-free Zone) a significant increase in sugar cravings.    Almost uncontrollable, really.    Amongst other things (sigh).

She explained to me that my regular wine consumption had been feeding the natural yeast levels in the my body, likley at somewhat elevated but maintainable levels.     When I took wine out of the "environment", my body went into overdrive, looking for a replacement.  Let's face it - wine is pure sugar.  (I read once that a glass of wine was like having a serving of dessert).     And hence, the sugar cravings.      But!!  I didn't even really notice the cravings to be honest, so I was feeding them.     Worst thing I could do - and I"m not talking about gaining weight (thankfully I didn't) - I'm talking about the dreaded......................CANDIDA.  (gawd, I hate that word on every level).

She explained to me that Candida sets up a little environment/village/city of it's own, and takes over, essentially.      And it keeps asking for more sugar, bring on the sugar, yeah, it likes the sugar.      You see, yeast (candida), thrives with sugar.   

Some of the most frequent Candida symptoms are:  (source)
  • abdominal gas and bloating
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • excessive fatigue
  • cravings for alcohol
  • anxiety
  • vaginitis
  • rectal itching
  • cravings for sweets
  • inability to think clearly or concentrate
  • hyperactivity
  • mood swings
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • hyperactivity
  • itching
  • acne
  • eczema
  • depression
  • sinus inflammation
  • pre-menstrual syndrome
  • dizziness
  • poor memory
  • persistent cough
  • earaches
  • low sex drive
  • muscle weakness
  • irritability
  • learning difficulties
  • sensitivity to fragrances and/or other chemicals
  • cognitive impairment
  • thrush
  • athlete's foot
  • sore throat
  • indigestion
  • acid reflux
Here are some links I suggest you have a look at - very interesting.

Yikes - it's pretty scary.    But what's scarier (IMO), it that our mainstream GP's likely wouldn't suggest Candida as a culprit, but rather, would treat the symtoms independent of one another (ie.  acne, infections, fatigue, depression, inability to concentrate).      

So, mind what you eat (crave?) over the holiday season.      And maybe up the probiotics - the Candida buster!

OK, enough seriousness, we are having a dinner party tonight, so thought I'd share my menu:

Duck with Blackberry Sauce

Crisp Hericots Vert with Pine Nuts

Wild Mushroom Risotto
(sorry, don't have a link)

Bread Pudding with Spiced Rum Sauce
(this my friends, is simply Ah-mazing!!)

And now, because I think every post needs a pic:


Go forth and conquer the 2nd last Saturday before Christmas!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Big Friday, C-tree, drinks after the drought

So much to report - Ok, am just so happy with myself for doing ALL of my shopping for the weekend after work.    We are having a dinner party tomorrow night, and I did the whole haul after work.    I'm making duck - wish me luck!

Then, it was C-tree night.   And to add to this exciting venture, I decided earlier today that my Alcohol-Free Zone was over.      4-weeks, completed, and deemed successful in my books.    More about that later.   So tonight was chocolate martini and Christmas tree night.

Witness the beginning:

My what a beautiful half tree you have?   but "ya look good!"  (this is our thing we tell each other when one person is doing all the work and the other is sitting watching - in our Italian-fake accents - "ya look good, oh but ya look GOOOOOD")

Our choco-martini's.     Yumbo!!!    Mine was the empty one on the left - go figure!   (but we only had one!)

Bring on the craftiness........oh! and we had a fire, of course, it's Friday night - woo, exciting!

Found the antlers - she poses every year in her antlers - such a good sport!

Et voila!!     Bring on the pressies.

With ambiance.   

OK, so here are some of my learnings:

1.    alarm at 6:00, working all day, doing full dinner-party groceries and booze haul, and putting up a Christmas tree is alot in one day (oh, and I did a load of laundry tonight too, just sayin')
2.    drinks after a 4-week hiatus are not as good as one would imagine - interesting learning - they were just OK - mehh.........
3.   tell your husband he looks good when he's assembling the tree and putting on the lights - they like that :)

And so the weekend begins - enjoy!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Work Christmas Party

Ok, I'm taking a poll on this - is it "required" to attend the corporate Christmas party?     Moreover, is it "required" to attending your VP's christmas party at his house on the Saturday before Christmas?      I'd like to know your thoughts.

I'm getting mixed reviews from everyone from by hub, to the people I work with, to the voice inside my head :-P

And then the next question is - do you bring this out:


or this?

(source)  OK just kidding!!  Geez.

Or this?

What to do, what to do?

Ok, give me your thoughts - let me have'em..........

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Welcome to my new home!!!!

Welcome to my new home!     I've been working on this design for about a month now, and today is the day for goin' LIVE!!!!  Woot Woot!!!

I moved over to Blogger here as it's so much easier to customize - and God knows I like beautiful things, so, well, here we are - just a little more beautified.

Would love to hear what you think - please leave me a comment here below the post.      I'm open to ideas.    No idea is a bad idea, is what I say.

Oh, and if you are so inclined :), maybe "follow me" along over there on the right side, or RSS (Subscribe button) or an email subscription.    But only if you've been liking what you've been gettin'.

In the meantime, it's winter, let it snow (it's going to anyway).     I love this tree.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What's good about being 40-something......

I think it’s about time we talked about all the great things about being 40-something (or maybe you’re 30 or 20-something, and some of these resonate with you).

1.     When you say no, you mean no – and no, it’s not personal.

2.     When you say yes, you mean yes, no alternative motives.

3.     You are very aware of how others make you feel – or don’t feel in some cases – and take note.

4.    Being alone is cherished instead of feared.

5.    Cellulite on your butt doesn’t matter.

6.   You know who your real friends are, and likely, there aren’t that many (and that’s OK).

7.    You realize how little people are thinking about you, and that’s a good thing.

8.   You worry less about what road to take, ‘cause you’ve likely travelled many (if you’re anything like me) and they aren’t so scary anymore.

9.    Money isn’t viewed as such a hardship –but rather a positive thing.

10.   You’ve figured out some of the things that bring you joy, and repeat them.

11.   You’re OK to be in separate room as your partner and not think the sky is falling.

12.   You’ve figured out what your life purpose is (or maybe you haven’t but you have some ideas at least)

13.   You now understand your parents.

14.   You worry less about what people think of you (see #7)

15.    You have a personal style all of your own.

16.    Eating a cupcake is not going to make you fat!

keep calm

OK, so that’s a few of my thoughts on “what’s good about being 40-something”.   Please share some of yours?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Big Bang for Pocket Change

The Next Outdoor project is complete, and we’re pretty happy.     Well one small little hiccup – which I’ll share.

Christmas on Eden 006

This is one of our ensembles. 

Christmas on Eden 009

Pic with both – so far pretty good.

Christmas on Eden 010

And again – with both.

The only thing, is the one on the right was wobbly, and the first wind that came blew it over.    You see it had water in it and the water had froze.   So, when we went to get the urns to do our project this afternoon, one was full of ice.    We spent 45 minutes trying to melt the ice to get the ice out.     And low-and-behold,  the bottom had rounded somewhat and was no longer flat.  

So, we have one urn out right now, the other tucked away till we can figure out how to flatten the bottom.      I have it moved closer to the driveway so it looks like there is only supposed to be one.
My handy-dandy husband is going to jig something up for us.

All to say, this project cost us about $6 for both urns.     The pots I had from many years gone by, the birch is from our cottage lot, the cedar and pine branches we cut in the forest yesterday, we bought skinny long twigs at Dollarama – one bundle for $2 and we bought 2 bunches.     And the gold stars were from Dollarama and they were $1 each!!     Each ensemble - $3!!!

Big bang for pocket change – now this makes me happy :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Am feeling a little yoga, and a little crafty

What I know for sure, Oprah?    Today is Saturday, and today is going to be a yoga day.    Yes indeed friends, I feel it in my bones today (or I guess I should say muscles).     

Yin class is on in 35 minutes so short post.      And it’s with my favorite yogi,   
M-A-R-K-U-S…….:) :)

Lot’s on the agenda today.    Yoga 9:30-11:00.     Edelweisse Ski Hill Open house, Outdoor Project (birch logs arrived safe and sound last night from Fort William, Quebec), a stop at Home Outfitters for sheets to complete my Headboard-Bed ensemble, and then Hub, Layla and I, have been invited out to dinner at our friends’ place.

Whew – wish me luck fittin’ it all in.     BUT!!!  Because of my PC Celebration drinks last night, I have tonssssssss of energy and initiative today.

Now, on another note, check out:   Centsational Girl's thoughts on Less is More..   I love her ideas here, and am thinking of recreating the same thing on our dining room hutch.

(photo via Centsational Girl)

(photo via Centsational Girl)

This “girl” (her name is Kate), has fantastic style on a “centsational” budget. 
Happy Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

De-Alcoholized Wine - is it worthy?

Friday night it is folks!      Yes, indeed, it’s wind down night, and as I mentioned in the past, it is my night to blow off steam, kick back either with my hub, and/or with friends, and bring on some delicious wine and food.

Fast forward three weeks to today.      (Just as a refresher – I am on a 30-day “Alcohol-Free-Zone” to test alcohol, or the lack of, on my brain.    Yes, that’s right, does it make me crazy, is the question???).

OK, so back to today.    I am so happy right now, I can hardly stand it, and there are lots of reasons for this, friends.       First, it’s Friday, this we know for sure.      Second, last night while out to see a musical, we had some time to kill, so a friend and I dropped into a grocery store to see what they had by way of de-alcoholized wine.       Sidebar:    I always said, if I could find a wonderful wine, that tasted like a deep shiraz, or a fresh crisp Pinto Grigio, and it didn’t have alcohol, I would be just as happy to drink that.     For me it’s the taste – I just love it.     

I found PC’s De-Alcoholized Sparking Wine, and it’s amazing!!!      It tastes like Champagne, which I didn’t mention above, but love it too (sigh, no, double sigh).     I have it in a wine glass, with icecubes – no…. this is not something I would normally do, but feel it’s acceptable if it doesn’t have alcohol(?????).     OK, whatever, it’s cold and delicious, and sparkling.     I’m as pleased as a peacock right now. 

Christmas on Eden 003
Christmas on Eden 002
Christmas on Eden

Never mind, my cleaning ladies were here today, and my house is spotless, I have a fire on, my hub and pooch are coming back from the cottage hopefully with my birch logs for tomorrow’s outdoor project, and my iPod is toggling between Diana Krall, Nat King Cole, Harry Conick Jr. and Charlie Brown Christmas music.

Christmas on Eden 004

So what do you do on Friday nights?    Drop me a comment, would love to hear what other people get up to on Friday night.

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Was out with four other ladies tonight at a musical called Menopositive.


This is a musical about four women who were early 50’s, in menopause, and who had all gone through ups and downs in their lives.     There lives had not turned out they way they thought they would have (always an interesting conversation amongst women I find), and they were coming together after 35 years of being out of high school.

It made me realize how everyone is on their own journey, following their own dreams (or not, in some cases), and that really….life is both what you make it and how you choose to look at it.      After listening to some of the character’s hardships, that were very real, I realized how fortunate I have been (even through my scenic route), and how grateful I am for the gifts in my life.

couple kissing on dock
This picture depicts many of those gifts I am grateful for.

What are you grateful for? and how can you change the way you look at things, so the things you look at change?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Project: Spend Less, Save More

So, my hub and I are on an austerity program.     Yup, we’re on a budget.     Back in the summer we decided to track everything we spend, itemizing where it is going, and tracking it back against the budget we set annually for that particular category.      Very enlightening experience to say the least.

Have you ever analyzed every penny you spend?  And I mean every penny?     It sounds dreadful, but it is actually kind of fun, if you take it on like a project.   Yes, I know, I tend to project management everything, but it turns dreadful type activities into fun and positive activities.     Never mind, it also creates internal AND external order.      Ohhh, and how I love external and internal order.

Here are some basics from a blog I follow:   The Simple Dollar

SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN (sounds basic doesn’t it?)

Here are some of his suggested ways:

First, go through every monthly required bill. Ask yourself if you really need that service at all. Do you really use Netflix enough, or could you just rent a movie once in a while from Redbox? Do you really use your cell phone much at all, or could you just replace it with a pay-as-you-go phone? Then, go through each bill and see if there are any optional services you can eliminate. Do you really need premium cable? Do you really need unlimited text messages?

Second, keep diligent track of your spending. (we definitely have this one down pat – phew!)  Keep a notebook in your pocket and write down every expense you have. The simple process of doing this will make you think twice about unnecessary expenses. When you do have a month’s worth of expenses written down, take a careful look at them. Ask yourself whether or not each of these expenses actually contributed to the value and joy of your life. That process will offer a lot of insight for you as to where your spending is going to waste.

Third, look carefully at your routines. Watch what you do every day (or most days). Are there things you do each day that cost money? Those things are the most powerful ones to adjust, as trimming just $1 from your daily spending saves you $365 a year. Do you stop at a coffee shop each day? Why not cut down your daily order a bit, or switch to a different shop, or start making your coffee at home? Do you eat out every day? Perhaps you can start brown bagging it a few days a week. Look at every regular expense you have.

Fourth, get a better bank. The vast majority of Americans are with banks that don’t treat them very well. No interest at all on their checking accounts. Tons of fees for ATM use. Draconian overdraft policies. A tiny interest rate on savings accounts. Monthly usage fees of all kinds. All of these things are a waste of money. Switch your accounts to a bank that respects you. From my own personal experience, I use ING Direct for both savings and checking. I get great customer service, interest on my checking account, a solid interest rate on my savings account, and I’ve never had a fee of any sort.

Finally, do some one-time energy improvements around your home. Replace some of your light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs. Install a programmable thermostat. Air seal your home. Blanket your water heater. Install some SmartStrips to cut down on electricity use. These tactics will cut down your energy bill significantly, directly reducing your bills.

Check out The Simple Dollar for other great tips.     There is tons of valuable info there on his blog.
In the meantime, have I mentioned how I happy I am with my Hunter rainboots?     (we got something like 30 ml of rain in the last 24 hours in Ottawa, and broke the record for December 1st).    Oh, if only it could have been snow!!

So, what budgeting tips can you recommend?    Does anyone else track their pennies?