Life is an Adventure (a giveaway)

August 21, 2014




The time I heard "life is an adventure", I immediately thought that the only possible way to experience that was to pack a backpack, open a map and let my finger choose a destination; whether I would find myself in a gondola in Venice, or on a hot air balloon over Kathmandu, it didn't matter as long as I was far away from the well-known place I lived and everything around me was new, unknown and exotic... In fact, I have lived life that way, traveling, crossing oceans, setting foot on almost every airport in Europe, changing countries, meeting new people, loving new places... Our world is a fascinating one, full of excitement and wonder, after all, and when we move somewhere new, the adventure begins... But then, as time passes by, everything starts to become more normal, less exciting, irritatingly predictable... the wonder of the not so new surrounding somehow undetectably fades...
Now, I believe that we don't need to do something dramatic or risky in order to have a more adventurous life. As time passes on, I have learned the substance of the following brilliant thought "Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life." (John Amatt).
Now, it seems to me that packing the backpack and circling the globe is less challenging and less fulfilling than to live life in a constant state of wonder every single day despite where you are. We all can make our lives adventurous and surprisingly beautiful as we pay attention to seemingly ordinary moments of the everyday in an attempt to see our same, well-known world as a whole new universe. Even if we have lived in the same street and worked the same job for a long time, there are still wonders to be discovered, simple pleasures to be experienced and amazing things to be seen...
humble flowers,
mellow fruits,
unforgettable sunsets,
sunflowers ready to harvest,
abandoned houses full of stories,
inspiring books,
fresh water,
hot coffee,
walnut trees,
kind faces...

Life is, indeed, a beautiful adventure. Stay awake for it, pay attention, find excitement in the ordinary... Adventure is an attitude.

What have you done to add excitement into your everyday life?

Please, share your adventure in the comment section below and you will have a chance to win a copy of the premier issue of Bella Grace .
You haven't heard of Bella Grace yet?
Well, it is a wonderful artsy new publication of Stampington & Company and I am more than delighted to be a part of it. With a folding, book-jacket cover, the magazine that is more like a book, showcases delicate images of everyday beauty as well as inspiring thoughts of simple and slow living. In honour of the first volume, Stampington & Company invited a number of artists, bloggers and photographers to participate in a Bella Grace Blog Hope through the entire month of August. You can visit other artists' posts and receive more chances to win a free copy of Bella Grace.

Comments will remain open until Friday September 5th, 2014.









Thank you for taking the time
and thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you, dear readers, friends and family for voting for me in the annual Top 30 Toronto Mom Bloggers search at TorontoMomNow.
I won!!!
2014 Toronto Mom Blogger is Sylvia from Sylvia's Simple Life! 
I owe you guys for that one!
You are amazing!










The Cherry on Top

July 9, 2014




The summer sunlight is warming up my days from mornings to nights. Then comes the brief, but pouring summer rain to cool off the earth... and my mind... leaving me soaking wet with a smile on my face and a song on my lips. But, the cherry on top is the rainbow that arcs across the sky, shining with its awesome colours only to remind me that "you need both the sun and the rain to make its colours appear". 
Good things are happening here. Mostly good things are happening here...
Cherries are in season and I have been indulging in our locally grown fruits and just can't get enough. Cherry tart, cherry syrup on pancakes and ice cream, cherry smoothies and cherry mini loaves for breakfast... And the cherry on top is the picking-your-own fresh and juicy stone fruits from the cherry tree, climbing up a limb, plucking these jewels off a branch and carelessly eating them with your red coloured fingers. Cherry after cherry after cherry. Perhaps, in the summer, life might really be "just a bowl of cherries". 
These lovely days of blue skies and gentle breezes are perfect for picnics. So, I am calling friends, packing the picnic basket with leisurely meals, market-inspired recipes and cherries. Together we are going to the country side, finding the perfect picnic spot and spreading a blanket on the ground. Looking at our children lying on the grass makes me press my face into the ground, smell the black, rich dirt and feel the good Earth. The cherry on top is this delicious feeling of being removed from time, alive and happy, this warm energy flowing into and out of my body that, I guess, is nothing else, but faith in the goodness of life.
Then comes the special day of my son's 16th birthday. Overwhelming love, and care, and gratitude make every moment more than a celebration. Cakes with lots of chocolate, special meals and summer refreshers, fancy clothes and presents.... But, the cherry on top of everything is this kind, thoughtful and intelligent young man that never stops to amazes me, challenges me to grow right along with him and inspires me to be better than I am.
When hearts are open, love is flowing, life seems easy and good things happen.
An email arrived in my mailbox. Toronto Mom Now, in an effort to recognize the wonderful writing and work of Toronto mom bloggers, are running an annual nomination for 2014 Top 30 Toronto Mom Bloggers. With this email, they informed me that after reviewing all the nominees, they narrowed the list down to 30 and I (with my blog) am one of them. What a surprise and good news!  They are also choosing one overall top blogger as a Top Mom Blogger for 2014. Though I really do not like such a voting process I would highly appreciate a vote. If you wish once more to show your support, you can click on Sylvia's Simple Life here.  The voting is open until July 14. And the cherry on top of all this is the fact that I was nominated by an unknown kind reader of the blog to whom I am immensely thankful to. So, you really never know who is reading your blog, but what I know for certain is that you, dear readers,  are the cherry on top of my blog and I love you all!







the cherry on top (or on the cake)
 * a desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.  
 * the last good thing after many other good things. 
(Oxford Dictionaries) 





Green Summer Goodness

June 27, 2014




Farmers markets are operating at full speed all across the city almost in every neighbourhood. As a local newspaper pointed recently "Summer is time for Torontonians to remember they're surrounded by incredible greenery to the north, south, east and west - and not just on weekend road trips." I honestly feel blessed to be able to buy local, eat local and support local farmers and food artisans. Close to where we live, there is a charming farmer's market that can be found in the parking lot of the historic Montgomery's Inn every Wednesday. I love visiting there; not only is it a small uncrowded place, but also it welcomes farmers from around the province who come there to sell their sustainably grown products. After your third visit, you know all of them and they are happy to chat with you about their veggies and fruits, what is in season, when the cherries are coming, the exact time the strawberries you are about to buy are being picked... and other passions of the farmer's heart. On top of that, probably the most interesting offerings at the market, are the fresh baked breads, which are made in the Inn wood-fired oven. 
This past Wednesday, the market was GREEN. From baby kale to lettuce, sorrel, arugula, and all kinds of fresh herbs, Ontario's growing season was starting to release its bounty. I bought my kale and garlic scapes from the young farmer who looked as if he had just popped up from the pages of Anne of Green Gables. I have always wanted to take his photo, but he seems so humble, shy, vain-less, in love with what he is doing, that I always feel as this is going to be the most inappropriate and uncomfortable thing I would have done in such a moment. Perhaps, next time I will feel more confident to ask (Nith Valley Organics sells at the market every Wednesday). I didn't have any idea in mind what I am going to do with my greens. My men, especially my teenage son, are not big fans of kale, despite the evidence of it being the "superfood". So, I thought of making something more versatile that can be added to other foods. Pesto! Easy, tasty, healthy, a wonderful way to enjoy fresh greens; can be put on pizza, pasta, soups, salads, topped on chicken and vegetables.
I mixed kale, garlic scapes, basil, pecans, and before even pouring the pesto into jars had a slice of crusty red wine walnut bread from the marker's bakery spread with this fresh green summer goodness.

Ah, Summer! 


"When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is."  (Alice Waters)                                                                           
                                                                                                                                        




Homemade Pesto with Kale & Garlic Scape


Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
2/3 cup ground pecans 
(walnuts or pine nuts would be great also)
1/3 basil leaves 
1 tsp. sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup olive oil 
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese


Directions:

In a food processor, pulse together kale, garlic scapes, pecans, basil leaves, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper until coarsely ground. 
While processor is running, add olive oil. Process until just combined. Add grated parmesan cheese until smooth.
Store in glass jars and refrigerate for up to one week.
Makes 2 jars of 250ml. 






Have a wonderful Canada Day weekend and Happy Fourth of July! 





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Peony Season

June 17, 2014



It is this time of year again when peonies adorn my world and make my heart sing. I wait for the seasons to pass for peonies to bloom and spread their scent and flamboyant, yet impermanent beauty. I might be so in love with these big perfect colourful flower heads because they are as beautiful and fragile as life itself. They won't last forever; their heartbreakingly short time in bloom will always remind us nothing is permanent and nothing will be, so the only chance we have is to be present, to pay attention, to take nothing for granted, to enjoy the moment, to be amazed and grateful, to live life as it is...
Last Sunday, on Father's Day, my son and I took Dad to the Peony Festival in Oshawa. Isn't it a great gift to a man who loves flowers, takes care of them, appreciates beauty in all its forms and, most importantly, lives life to the fullest. It was magical and even overwhelming with all the 300 types of peonies (one of Canada's largest contemporary peony collections) displayed at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden. They were like a symphony orchestra where every musical instrument produces the perfect sound only to add its colour and character to the orchestra creating the most incredible musical performance...

   


What makes your heart sing these days?





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Kingston - Ontario's Treasure

June 4, 2014



It has been said that "Kingston is one of Canada's best-kept secrets". I believe it is not so anymore since if I share with somebody how much I love this city, their faces light up, they smile and tell me that Kingston is one of their favourite cities as well. Midway between Toronto and Montreal, where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario, Kingston is a charming historic little town that consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in Canada. Kingston was named the first capital of the Province of Canada in 1841 and while its time as a political centre was short, the city has remained an important cultural, educational and military place. Nicknamed the "Limestone City" because of the many heritage structures built with local limestone, Kingston always reminds me of Europe and evokes memories of my childhood. It possesses a small-town charm combined with "big-city" amenities. 
No matter when you visit, Kingston offers pleasant times at the pristine waterfront, theatres, museums, one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, restaurants, sidewalk patios, festivals... During winter we enjoy an outdoor skate to music on Kingston's Historic Market Square ice ring. When summer comes we come to Kingston to witness The Sunset Ceremony at the Fort Henry National Historic Site that re-creates 19th-century military life featuring Guard Drums, Drill Squad and Artillery Detachments, military music and drills along with rousing big-bang artillery manoeuvres and simulated battles. Spring is perfect for taking in a 1000 Island cruise and discovering the area's glorious natural beauty. A year-round farmer's market at the historic downtown, right behind the Kingston City Hall (designated National Historic Site of Canada) offers quality local products, plants, flowers, and handmade crafts. On Sunday, a fabulous Antique Market would satisfy every antique and vintage lover as myself. I guarantee! 
And if you are coming from Toronto, the best way to reach Kingston is to take The Loyalist Parkway, a scenic 100-kilometre drive stretching along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and passing through about 40 archeological sites and 125 historical buildings, a worthwhile ride in its own right. This route is packed with opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking and B&Bs. The road ends at the Glenora Ferry, which you in your car (or bike) will take to cross Adolphus Reach to the peninsula, which makes the trip a real adventure. And if you decide to take this route in spring, like we did, bushes of blooming lilacs will add a pleasant fragrance to your getting to Kingston. If you haven't yet visited the Limestone City, make yourself this gift of Ontario's treasure "where history and innovation thrive." (Kingston's motto)





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