A Christmas Story

December 24, 2015

The true spirit of Christmas  lies in this real story that has been circulating through media since October. Yes, it is a story that unfolds in the world much like a movie comes to life – so real and touching that it makes your heart flutter of admiration, tears of emotion burn your face, and your faith in the goodness of humankind grows stronger as a stem in the dust...
Evan is seven year old boy who has been diagnosed with brain cancer at just two-years-old. When in early fall his condition worsens, doctors advise the family "to celebrate Christmas early this year." Evan's mother shares with family and friends the devastating prospect of Evan not making it to Christmas. The mother's cousin enthusiastically starts a Facebook page to encourage people not to donate money, but rather empathy and involvement in organizing one last Christmas celebration for Evan in October. And it all begins! 
The dwellers of the town of St. George leave their own little bubbles of indifference and start decorating their houses with Christmas lights. Within days, the whole town is lit up, some houses with signs saying "Merry Christmas Evan." Firefighters offer to take the boy for a ride on a fire truck around the festive town. Then, an event coordinator at the local city council takes the initiative to organize a Santa Claus parade in October. By the next morning, 6 000 people sign up for the parade. 7 000 come – more than triple the small population of St. George Town, an hour drive from Toronto. The press cap the parade at 25 different floats, including, of course, the most important one with Santa, his reindeers and the sleigh on which Evan gets a ride. A special-effects company donates a machine that would make artificial snow at 17 degree weather in October. Locals brew hot chocolate and bake cookies to pass to the crowd. "Mobilization on incredible scale," people share... for one last Christmas of a sick child.
Evan died a few days ago (on Dec. 6) The media still reflects on everything around him. It is a pity that I learned too late! Yes, my family would have gone to the parade had we discovered earlier. I'm not always good at organization, but I am the Queen of participation and moral support. I strongly believe that participation is important. Life, indeed, is not for spectating, but for participating. We should teach our children and encourage them from an early age to participate. I always like the idea of sending every child home with a ribbon "Participant" after each competition, conference and event. Because the widespread apathy in our society creates a fertile ground for the utter impoverishment of the human soul.
However, my thoughts are in fact about enthusiasm and an inspiring spirit. If someone tells you that "nothing happens with one naked enthusiasm", do not believe them! History proves that nothing great has happened without it! And this last Christmas for Evan happens as a result only of the spiritual uplift of mankind and the sincere human concern for the welfare of others. 
Christmas stories are essential to the celebration of Christmas. They are a way for us to connect to our cultural identity, to reflect on our core values and to glimpse a better world, one that observes the message of peace on earth, goodwill to men and compassion to one another. So I am encouraging you to tell Evan's story to your children, friends and acquaintances. It is important for all of us to know that good films can happen in real life, that we all posses the power to make movies comes to life. And it is all possible when we choose to get involved, to participate in our lives and in the lives of those who need us most. A wise mind once said that if you can give your son or daughter one gift, let it be - enthusiasm.
Yes, there is pain, sickness and death in the story, but more than anything it is brimming with love, hope, connectedness, a sense of belonging, humanity, and LIFE. All for the same reasons that we decorate Christmas trees, sing Christmas songs and light candles in churches. But as my son's speaking Santa toy remind us, let's never forget that "The Magic Of Christmas Lies In Your Heart!"
One thing is clear: we, people are the light, we are the tree, we are the church. Our Christmases and our lives, similar to movies or not, happen because of us – when we choose to participate and never lose our enthusiasm, "the sustaining power of all great actions."
This Christmas, dear friends, keep your spirit high and be ready to participate.

 These photos are taken while my husband is preparing a traditional Bulgarian pumpkin pie most often made during Christmas time. The recipe can be found here

Merry Christmas to you all! 

Christmas Factory

December 7, 2015

Cold, but cozy. Festive and delicious. Full of simple living and celebrations. My December...
The jazzy Christmas melodies of Chris Botti's trumpet come to life while the pleasant smell of ginger, oranges and cinnamon travels from the kitchen to the dining room only to settle into my nose and slowly let my mind drift back to good memories... I am glad, perhaps even happy, at this very moment... Life seems full – sticky and flavourful as the chocolate cookie dough in my hands. Life seems to be the most involved factory right now, assembling a tiny army of small joys and anticipations. My mind is incubating ideas while my hands are arranging bundles of evergreens on a grapevine wreath frame. I feel wise (O. Henry's The Gift of the Maggi kind of wise) and my heart is overflowing with passion – a happy worker in the factory. Two very special helpers, one – tall, handsome and smart, the other – hungry, also handsome and excited make everything easy, and meaningful, and bright and awesome... The cookies are little burnt and the wreath is a little unrefined. But regardless, they sure make the spirit high and sure smell a lot like Christmas. And that smells a lot like....well, LIFE. The one that resides in the beauty of imperfection and shines in the shimmering little moments of blissfulness.

Dear friends, if you haven't checked yet my Holiday Card Collection at SylviaSimpleLife Etsy Shop, you still have time. I feel privileged for each card being chosen for spreading some hand-written cheer to family, friend and perhaps strangers this Holiday season. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that handwriting opens a window to the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. Happy Holidays! 

Sharing with Wow Us Wednesday / Come As You Are / Share Your Style

Autumn Fairy

November 12, 2015

Fall has fallen. The leaves are yellow against the dark blue-gray sky and the winds have picked up. The winds that are still warm and force your eyes to close in the silent reverence to the sensations on your face when they brush past. You can almost hear music in it, carried from somewhere far too far away just to meet you on this day. Where does the wind go, where does it sleep at night and what secrets shouted into it does it carry past our ears? I am listening, I will always be listening. Whisper to me.

                                                                                                                                     ~ Tyler Knott Gregson

This Autumn Fairy is called Lea. I had the pleasure of photographing her genuine young beauty glowing naturally through the perfect autumn colours. 
If you have an idea for a photo shoot or want me to capture the lovely moments of your life, I will love to hear from you. I believe we can create beautiful stories together.    

Maman & Le Collectif Food Styling Workshop

October 18, 2015

In the heart of the Toronto Financial District there is a little heaven of simple and rustic French aesthetic that makes you feel like you may have just stepped into a small piece of Provence. Painted cabinetry, vintage chairs (imported from France), old glass bottles, pitchers and baskets, a long wooden communal table, blue-patterned tails and china, lavender and thyme create an idyllic atmosphere – the perfect contrast to the industrial-style downtown hangouts. Called Maman, this bakery café is the second outpost of the popular New York city SoHo bakery, launched by a Michelin star chef with La Chassagnette (a restaurant in the south of France) in partnership with a group of friends. Their passion for authentic food is tangible through the deliciousness of croissants, baguettes, thyme madeleines, lavender loafs, pumpkin quiche (divine!), salads and sandwiches like croque "maman".
I couldn't think of more perfect place then Maman to host together with Le Collectif – two talented young women, the most charming and beautiful food styling workshop and brunch gathering I have recently attended. From the fresh baked goods and the lovely flower arrangements to the pretty props we got to play with, everything was organized in an elegant and tasteful manner. "Less is always more" was the leitmotif of the food styling tips Danielle and Meg shared with all of us. It is something I have always believed in, but I am not sure if I am always able to attain simplicity, especially when it comes to styling food. I am also not convinced that it is necessary on all occasions. This brought a number of old and new questions to mind such as, what is style and how do we define a personal sense of style.
If style is a personal "manner of doing something", can style be taught? Is it a combination of interests, desires, beliefs, inspirations, lifestyle and choices of clothing? Are there certain techniques that can help us develop style or is it something innate that we grow and live with – unique as our thumb prints? And if it is in fact personal, then how we dress, how we style our homes, cook our food and feed our souls should be a unique part and reflection of who we are.
Candidly, I took part in the food styling workshop because I love what Maman and Le Collectif do and wanted to support their efforts. My reason wasn't necessarily to attain this popular minimalistic look of food styling which I adore but isn't always who I am. I am simply curious and open for new knowledge. And I am grateful for the wonderful experience I had on this early September morning – being surrounded by beauty and good food, I met those young, proactive people (among whom, I guess, I was the only middle-aged woman :) who reminded me how important it is to stay true to myself and my personal sense of style. Style, I believe, is authenticity, first and foremost. 

"Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it" ~ Julia Child 


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