Books

What I've Been Up To (or, A Summer Gratitude List)

I've been summerin' and it's been good. I am grateful for a lot of things, grab a drink and settle in...

Our new-to-us pop-up camper (ADVENTURE, POSSIBILITY)

I am grateful for our little cottage on wheels, Daphnie. She offers comfort, simplicity and possibility. This is our first full summer with her and we love her. Sometimes we pop her up right in the driveway just to hang out.

Daphnie at Fitzroy Provincial Park last September. This scene makes me all warm & fuzzy inside.

Daphnie at Fitzroy Provincial Park last September. This scene makes me all warm & fuzzy inside.

.:.

Thought-provoking prose (DISCOVERY, INTROSPECTION, INSPIRATION)

I am grateful for finding books that expose me to different viewpoints, that make me think and question. Books that explore how it feels to be a Black American through common lenses like home, nature and birding. Books that follow the author as she sits with the staunch Right - in some cases, folks who happen to be my Acadian "cousins" in Louisiana, in which I learn about their fears, their dreams, there grievances with life and the Left.  Books that make me open just a little bit deeper. These books push me to reach and stretch outside of my known and norm in a way that is gentle yet eye-opening. Yes, I am grateful for that.

My current library stash, some read, some not yet.

My current library stash, some read, some not yet.

.:.

Beach reads (ESCAPE, REST)

Then there are seaside cottages and lakeside dream houses, independent women and seemingly stuck-up men who come out of their hard shell to fall in love, or maybe a story about an artist finding her wings in Paris during the roaring twenties. Mmm, yup. Easy and light, beach reads are a welcome counterbalance to the intensity of thought-provoking prose. I am grateful for that too.

.:.

A last-minute camping trip to Bonnechere Provincial Park (SPONTANEITY, REST, TRUST)

I am grateful for a wee last-minute adventure that packed a healing punch. We booked a campsite one Friday morning for that weekend at new-to-us Bonnechere Provincial Park with no advance planning whatsoever. After a half-day at the office we loaded up the truck, hitched the camper and went with the flow. Expectations were released. Best. Decision. Ever. We slept, we swam, we sat in the shade and did nothing. That weekend I felt more relaxed that I'd felt in months. There was an active bear in the campground. I DIDN'T EVEN CARE. We ran out of battery power in the camper after two hours when we thought we'd have some for two days. Didn't faze me ONE BIT. Chance of a thunderstorm? Whatevs, I had ear plugs. THAT's how relaxed I was. Spontaneity, rest and trust for the win!

The beach at Bonnechere was pretty sweet that weekend, the water warm and welcoming.

The beach at Bonnechere was pretty sweet that weekend, the water warm and welcoming.

.:.

A whirlwind road trip to Southern Ontario and back via the Bruce Peninsula (ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, ESCAPE)

I am grateful for road trips and new places: six days and 1660km (about 1030 miles) in this case. This included a visit with my aunt and uncle, a wedding on D.'s side, two new-to-us great lakes, two new-to-us small towns, three new-to-us provincial parks and one national park, two amazing hikes, a boat ride to an island, all the while enjoying superb, welcoming spaces as our home base. It was soul-filling. There may be a future dedicated post on this one, I can't do it justice in one paragraph.

The Reeve Bed and Breakfast , Dunnville, Ontario. Luxury, warmth, comfort - and amazing breakfasts!

The Reeve Bed and Breakfast, Dunnville, Ontario. Luxury, warmth, comfort - and amazing breakfasts!

Bruce Peninsula National Park , Tobermory, Ontario. The water, the views, the trails... GAH! Gorgeous.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory, Ontario. The water, the views, the trails... GAH! Gorgeous.

.:.

The Waltons (ESCAPE, INSPIRATION)

I am grateful for my DVD box set of The Waltons. I'm in the middle of season 3,  John-Boy Walton is my hero. He writes, he ponders, he has a good head on his shoulders and owns up to things when he screws up. He values family, respect, and does the right thing. I want to be like John-Boy.

.:.

Camping trips to come (ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, REST)

I am grateful for three more camping weekends in the works between now and October: three nights at Bonnechere Provincial Park (we loved it so much during our spontaneous weekend that we booked a second one on the spot), one weekend at new-to-us Lake St. Peter Provincial Park and one weekend at Fitzroy Provincial Park, which is the park we visited on our first two camping trips with Daphnie last September. By having these plans laid out I feel like I've extended the summer by two months. I like that.

.:.

Adventure, discovery or escape, anyone? Throw in some r&r, usually by the water or surrounded by trees, and well, so far the summer has been pretty gosh darn good.

What are YOU grateful for this summer? Tell me. I want to know.

Stephanie

'Sup? (Or, A Mish-mashy Catch-up Post)

I feel like it's time for a catch-up post. Here's what I've been up to, in no particular order...

Working out. It's been almost seven months since I've started working out and folks, it's still happening! Aside from a few two-workout weeks I've been exercising three to four times a week for 27 weeks y'all. TWENTY-SEVEN weeks. Expect a check-in post soon.

Creating digital art. Open app, open photo(s); a swoosh here and a tap there and BAM! Art. Mobile photography is one of my most satisfying forms of creative play. It's quick and intuitive, but still challenging because one must know how to use the tools at hand. When I start, it's easy for me to forget all about time and get lost in a tizzy of creative flow. Bliss.

Stairway @ the MMFA, mobile photography, created using some of my favourite apps    © 2018 Stephanie Guimond

Stairway @ the MMFA, mobile photography, created using some of my favourite apps

© 2018 Stephanie Guimond

Working. My day job is taking up a lot of space and energy these days. On some days I fall into flow, just like I do when I'm creating digital art. On other days I leave feeling tired and overwhelmed at the amount of tasks on my to-do list. Either way, every day I am engaged and love what I do. I've waited a loooong time to say that I enjoy my work and part of me is afraid of admitting it, should "the other shoe drop." But OMG it is a gift and every day I count my lucky stars that I get paid to do something I enjoy doing. I love my work. How freakin' cool is THAT?

Reading. Art books. Fun books. Magazines. A Julia Cameron book I've never read that I am thoroughly enjoying (goodness I love her stuff). And I just requested eight books about Project Management from the library. Watch out!

Trying out new recipes. Moroccan spiced cauliflower soup (meh on the overall soup, but YUM on the roasted cauliflower pieces that went in it), maple curry chicken (yes), stuffed peppers (with quinoa), taco seasoned beef, cauliflower and sweet potato curry, smoky potato chickpea stew (yes!) and the latest - a sure keeper, a crustless bacon, broccoli and cheddar quiche. I bought the Yum & Yummer cookbook at Costco before the Holidays and vowed that I'd actually try the recipes that were in it, the same with the recipes I save on Facebook (you know you do it too!). Lo & behold I'm trying them and it's fun. I highly recommend it.

Meal prep allows me to try new recipes AND helps me get my workouts in. From top left, clockwise: baked chicken fajita mix, brown rice, taco beef mix, shredded cheddar.

Meal prep allows me to try new recipes AND helps me get my workouts in. From top left, clockwise: baked chicken fajita mix, brown rice, taco beef mix, shredded cheddar.

Renewing my wardrobe. It's spring. I've been adding a little bit of happy to my usual palette of black and charcoal. There seem to be a lot of flowers. It feels good. Renewal. Fresh. Yes.

Escaping. Last month D. and I took a weekend trip to Montreal. We took the train, ate chips, chocolate and watched the Olympics in the hotel room. We savoured the overpriced hotel buffet and sipped coffee from the sleek white "restaurant" cups. We got out for a visit to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, or MMFA, one of my happy places. An interesting note about expectations: I was tired when we left and it took me most of the weekend to accept that it was OK to relax and be exactly where I was - tired and craving rest instead of bustling adventure in the big city. It was OK to not force myself to spend a "night on the town" when all I felt like doing was curl up in the white terry cloth robe that hung in the hotel room closet. I spent an awful lot of time feeling guilty about that. The moral of this story?

Sometimes expectations get in the way of enjoyment. We gotta let that shit go.
A snippet of Matisse's  Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window  @ the MMFA. I love how one side of hair is a reddish brown and the other is a much darker brownish black.

A snippet of Matisse's Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window @ the MMFA. I love how one side of hair is a reddish brown and the other is a much darker brownish black.

When I lay it all out here I see that even when I hunker and think things are slow there's a lot going on.

What have YOU been up to lately? I bet it's more than you think.

In spirit of discovery,

Stephanie

xo