Friday, February 26, 2010

Very Special Family Portrait

I woke up one day and my children were gone...somebody took my little princess and my smart little boy and left me with two troubled teenagers I didn't recognize at all. They were not bad in pretending to be my children so I played the game and pretended to be their mother for several years. Nightmare! I'm so glad it's over... I'm now a happy mother of two wonderful young adults! My princess lives in her own castle far, far away from us. My smart big boy still lives with us for the moment but I can see his wings getting bigger and stronger. They're both working, studying and dreaming... Soon I'll be left with memories and photos wondering where the time went. We actually don't have so many family photos, we have lost almost all of them fleeing from the danger of war in our country. I learned only much later that that was the most prized possession we had. Even after that, we  didn't take so many photos. I guess we humans have this fascination for capturing moments in our lives, whether by camera or paint. So I was very pleasantly surprised when my son gave us a very special family portrait, made by him, as a Christmas gift.
Several days before Christmas, I couldn't help but notice that something strange was going on, my son was very busy with something. Any attempt to learn what was going on failed miserably. Till the day we saw a very mysterious big package under the Christmas three. What a nice surprise it was! My very talented son created a "warholish" family portrait of our family using individual pictures, framed it nicely and made a gift for us. We just instantly fell in love with it and decided to expose it permanently in our living room. We placed it strategically  in our home, so we can all constantly be reminded of each other as we hectically chase through life. The value of the portrait my son made for us can be measured only by hearth. 
"A heart is not measured by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." — Wizard of Oz

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Playing in the Dirt

Normally I wouldn't even dare to think about gardening at this time of year. Upon arriving to Canada, it took my inner clock several years to learn that there is nothing green before the beginning of May and even then you have to wait till almost the end of the month to begin to work outdoors because there is still a danger of frost. But this winter, so mild and with so little snow... I started dreaming of playing in the dirt, sinking my hands in the soil, moist and velvety to touch, and spending hours incredibly happy, forgetting time, worries, everything...
I discovered gardening only several years ago when we bought our first house in Quebec and I wanted to plant some greenery because there wasn't any. Creating my flower beds and planting my first annuals and perennials made me discover a whole new world, it was a very therapeutic experience for me, I was truly happy for the very first time in Canada. I could spend hours working in my garden, preparing the soil, sowing, planting, weeding, I don't feel fatigue nor pain. I can't wait to start playing in the dirt again this spring, I might even try to grow some vegetables this year. Till then here are some pictures from my Canadian garden:

What about you? Do you have a garden or even a balcony? Do you like playing in the dirt?
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back to Comfort Food

It was an incredibly beautiful sunny day today in Quebec. We've been in Canada for almost twelve years now and we never ever had such a nice winter. As we took a walk  today on Plaines d'Abraham, snow was melting and water was running downhill... Normally, in February we would have one snow storm after another, temperatures between -30 and -40 grade Celzius, the hardest part of  the winter. I'm so grateful for this winter. But it's still winter, right? And you newer know when it's going to turn ugly so you must be prepared. One of my favorite weapons against harsh winter is comfort food. I'm not going to start to elaborate on this as I believe that everyone  knows what a bowl of homemade soup can do for the poor winter plagued soul, right? I have a long list of comfort food worthy meals but I make very often one simple thing I've learned from my mother. Remember my first and my second post on my homemade bread? It's my mother who taught me how to make bread and how to make this little sweet "by-product" from the bread dough. Very simple and very yummy!
 All you need is a bit of  a bread dough, oil, icing sugar and vanilla sugar. You can also eat them with sour cream or other things you like if you don't like or don't eat sugar Watch the pictures bellow for instructions and if you have questions don't be shy. Bon appetit!
 
 
Go ahead, make them, you'll become an addict!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coucou, c'est moi !

Isn't that cute? Yes, it's in French and if you wonder what it means it's a very simple " Hello, it's me!"
So, here I am again. I've been busy last week and in the beginning of this week preparing my second exam in the series of eight. It must have been 15 years since I've had my last exam. I'm always very nervous before an exam  no matter how well prepared I am. To be honest with you, I'm very demanding of myself and I can't help it, this is the way I've been brought up. I had my second exam last night and it went very good again, I was actually very pleased with myself, if I may say so. And the best of all, I received the result of my first exam and it was 95 %! Well, yes, that's what I was looking for! Even better, as I was bragging about my note in front of my son, he told me that this means A+ at his university! I'll take it any time!
 I must come over as an incredibly arrogant person, sorry, but I'm soooo excited about it. And I love being good at things I do. Following these exams,  in April 2010 I should have my diploma that will allow me to find a better job and eventually earn more money. I'm so looking forward to it after many years of stress and work under pressure in chaotic conditions. But on the other side, I'm also very grateful for these years because I've learned so many incredible things that are hopefully going to serve me in my next job. Change is good. Change is chance. Chance is hope. Hope is life.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day Y'all!


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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love Everyday - Free eBook for Married Couples

While everyone is preparing for the official Day of Love, Mandi over at Organizing Your Way is offering a free eBook on everyday love in relationship and marriage. I'm a fan of Mandi's site for many reasons but I really loved this eBook that she prepared in collaboration with other editors and contributors.
You can get a free Copy of the Love Everyday eBook HERE. As Mandi said, feel free to share the eBook with your friends, family and blog readers.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ideas For Decorating With Leftover Wallpaper

After my last visit to the Home Depot I came home with two beautiful wallpaper samples. Actually I wasn't even looking for wallpaper, I'm not really a fan, I'm way to lazy to put it on and I would be even lazier to eventually remove it. But as I was looking for new paint for my second bathroom, I spotted some beautiful wallpaper rolls in the corner of my eye. There were so many new and beautiful  designs to choose from. Finally I decided to ask a salesperson for a sample from some of them. It should be enough for a little decorating project, I thought of a lamp shade for the base I already have. I also did some research on the Internet for other ways to use wallpaper samples or leftovers. So many intelligent, surprising and beautiful ideas crossed my way that I decided to share them with you. Here are some of them:





Isn't it obvious why I chose the pictures above with loads of pink? No? Look at the calendar...
For more new, lovely, surprising, inexpensive and DIY-doable ideas please continue looking after the jump (click on 'Read more'):

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Learning English Through Movies

If you are reading my blog on a regular basis you may have noticed that my English isn't flawless. Maybe you've already seen a little film strip note on the sidebar where I'm talking about my “movie” English. That's right, I've learned my English almost entirely through  movies. It all started when I was a little girl. Back then, foreign movies weren't dubbed  in my country. We always watched the original version with subtitles in our language. Most of the time those movies were in English. So I listened to the original voices  and read the subtitles simultaneously, it was a no brainer at the time.
Later  I started to learn German in school, there even wasn't an option to learn English in our little town of 5000 people. I loved German so much throughout my school time that I even decided to study it and become a teacher!
It wasn't till I had my first baby (love you, froggilein) that I realized that something wonderful must have happened in my brain because I started to understand English without having one single lesson in my life! All these years of watching and listening to the movies without any effort...was it even possible? 
I finally found the explanation for this phenomenon while living in Germany in the nineties. I stumbled upon a book of a German psychologist and linguist Vera Birkenbihl. In her book “Stroh im Kopf” she said, among other things, that it was possible to learn  languages trough a passive method, without taking lessons and studying grammar. The explanation was a bit more complicated then that but it suddenly started to make sense to me! From that moment on, I started to pay more attention when listening to the music or watching television. I even started to read in English: magazines, books and later on the Internet. My passive knowledge of English language grew constantly. But from there to start to talk or even to write: inconceivable!

When I moved to Canada with my family in the late nineties we had to learn French – we were in Quebec! I was under the impression that I've lost all of my English while learning French. But it was only temporary, it all came back once I learned French very well. I also started to watch television in English on a regular basis, all the American cable channels to choose from, such a treat for me!
Trough my first job in Canada, I've created a  four level English conversation course for immigrants in Quebec City and hired an English  teacher. Although we were living in a French speaking city, English was a must when applying for a job. One of the teachers encouraged me to participate in an advanced (!) conversation group (thank you, Hormuz!). It was the first time that I took an English course and also a first time that I said something in English. 
Later, when I discovered a blogosphere, I started to follow English speaking blogs and was amazed by all the wonderful people who shared their talent with the world. So I finally created my own blog in 2008 but didn't start writing on a regular basis until September 2009. I was surprised myself that I was able to write in English, with or without errors. And I'm so happy when someone leave a comment on my posts, I can't believe how generous bloggers are!
Oh boy, this must be my longest post ever! I'm somewhat relieved now when you know the truth! Thank you so very much for reading my blog!!!
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

Maybe I never thought about it in this way before, but one thing struck me today: there are two kinds of objects that I have in literally every room of my house. I carefully verified and it's true. I have at least one mirror and one clock in every room. It may sound strange but I'm not vain at all, I don't need to look myself in the mirror often – on the contrary, as time and life start to show in my face I'd rather skip the mirror -  no surprise there.
I try to understand why I need a mirror of some kind in any room. Is it for decorative purposes? Is it to reflect the light? In Feng Shui mirrors should have the effect to double in real life what reflects in them: food, money, flowers...so one should choose very carefully the place to hang a mirror. I'm not really following that advice but I do mind what reflects in a mirror.
What I know for sure is that I love to check briefly several times in the mirror as I prepare for work in the morning. This starts right in the bedroom: what do I look like today? Restful? Tired? Do I have to work hard to make myself presentable? It continues in the bathroom where I put my day cream and my make up. Then when I dress I also check for flaws, on me or on the clothes. And just before I get out of the house, one last check...you never know. And I said I'm not vain? Hm, got to think about this...
And what's with the clocks? Even in the bathroom? I simply need them to reassure me in the morning as I am navigating trough the house and preparing for work. I have my little routine and clock checking is part of it. Yeah, but why am I checking the clock even on weekends? I guess I always need some “time orientation” even if it's not for work.
The worst of all, and I'm going to be very embarrassed now, I put a clock on the wall on the exterior of my house in the summer, on the patio to be more precise. What should you think of that? But that's not all. Guess what hangs on the same wall over the clock? Little round ornate decorative mirror! Go ahead, shoot me...What's with you? Do you have some must-have objects in every room of your apartment / house? Mind to share?

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Wonderful Cinnamon Swirl Cake Recipe

Can you believe it's February already? Well I can because I had today my first exam in a series of eight. It went smoothly, it wasn't to difficult and I think I did more than ok. We'll see soon...more about it later.
We finally have back our winter temperatures in Quebec - minus 30 or so (me jumping for joy). Today I want to share with you a recipe that I've made a dozen times lately and it always turns out very yummy...
I found the recipe on the Web, it was published in the Craft magazine, volume 10, by √Člena Nazzaro, aka frenchtoastgirl.com. Click on the recipe to see the details. The only change I make every time is that I add 3/4 cup of milk to make it fluffier. It really is worth a try, bon appetit!

p.s. Don't forget to prepare a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while baking the cake!

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