Birthday List Love #5: TV Shows, Movies & Documentaries

I'm back with some Birthday List Love!

Today’s list offers a few movies, TV shows or documentaries I’ve enjoyed so far this year. Some were sought out (The Prophet), others pleasantly discovered (The Secret of Kells), and others anxiously awaited (Outlander).

All of them come recommended.

NOTE: Most links are to trailers on Youtube, but a few are to Canadian sites like TV Ontario or the National Film Board of Canada. If you can't access the latter, maybe try your local library.


The Prophet

Starring Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson, each section in this adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s text is animated by different filmmakers. Different styles, different colours, different music... some so beautiful they made me cry.


Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Farm

I know, I know, I’ve mentioned these here already, maybe even twice. But I find it utterly fascinating and humbling to see how people lived in the past without the modern conveniences I take for granted today. Farming life was one of uncertainty and relentless physical demands - it probably still is. I’m not sure I’d fare very well.

Though I enjoyed them all, I especially enjoyed Wartime Farm. Set in the UK during the second world war, it offers a glimpse into the sheer courage and resourcefulness demonstrated by those living in rural areas during times of scarcity and no doubt ever-present fear. It left me filled with awe and gratitude.


Everlasting Moments

A slow-paced Swedish film about a woman who discovers joy and independence through the lens of a camera. I picked this up on a whim at the library and it was delightful surprise.



Two words: Jamie Fraser. If you’ve read the books, you know. If you haven’t read the books, I highly recommend them. Once you've read the first one I recommend checking out the TV show, starting with Season 1.


The Secret of Kells & Song of the Sea

These two animated feature films were made by the same people. Both of them left me mesmerized. I beg of you, click on these two links and let yourself be enchanted by the trailers. If you like what you see and hear, the movies shall not disappoint. D. even enjoyed these ones.


The Lost Garden: The Life and Cinema of Alice Guy-Blaché

A fortuitous discovery on the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada’s Website that introduced me to yet another female pioneer in the creative arts. From the Website:

“This feature documentary is a portrait of Alice Guy-Blaché, one of cinema's most fearless pioneers. A filmmaker before the word even existed, Guy-Blaché made her first film at the end of the last century, when cinema was still brand-new. After directing, producing and writing more than 700 films, she slipped into oblivion. This film rescues her brave and shining memory.”

I was blown away by her foresight, her accomplishments and her creative courage in a predominantly man’s world.


Monty Don’s French Gardens

I’ll be honest, I think my enjoyment of these shows is 30% due to the actual content and 70% due to the passion its host, Monty Don, brings to the table. This man loves what he does and it shows as he walks us through not just fields and furrows, but history as expressed through our relationship to the land.

Originally aired on BBC, as I type, episodes 2 & 3 are available on TV Ontario, but for a limited amount of time (episode 1 disappeared today).

PS - If you’re an artist, you might be interested in episode 3 of this series, where Mr. Don profiles artistic gardens of France including those of Monet and Cézanne.


Et voilà, List #5.

A recap of lists posted, you say? Of course!

Birthday List Love #1: Favourite Recipes

Birthday List Love #2: Personal Finance Books by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Birthday List Love #3: Four Female Canadian Artists

Birthday List Love #4: 25 Books I've Enjoyed This Year (So Far)

Next up: Birthday List Love #6.

January: A Month of Insights and Delights

It's been a quiet month. The type of month that seemed unassuming and ho-hum from the outside, but on the inside, unfolded into a series of insights and delights.

For my end of month recapitulating and your reading pleasure voici, an update of the mish-mashy kind. Settle in.


Discovering Beatrix Potter (or, Heed the Hunches)

Earlier this month, for no rhyme or reason, Beatrix Potter came to mind. I'd never read any of her stories nor did I know much about her other than she's a famed children's writer and illustrator.

Shortly after she popped into my head I stumbled upon a biography of hers at the library. Seeing this as a twist of synchronicity I picked it up. Since then I've slowly been delighting in getting to know both her and her tales, reading them for the first time, even gleaning a few insights along the way.

The moral of this story?

Sometimes the smallest weirdest hunches may lead to surprising and enjoyable discoveries. Heed them.


Spending With A Clear Conscience: A Satisfying Experience

Early last year I stated a desire for a new laptop.

I was hesitant to spend the money so I tried using my 10-year old Mac instead. No go. Then I tried using a combination of my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard. That didn't cut it either. As I tried to find a solution, I kept putting my pennies away until finally, I realized that I had enough put aside to treat myself with a clear conscience. So I did.

"So what?", you might say.

So satisfying.

I don't buy big ticket items often, I guess you could say I'm a bit of a penny-pincher that way. But this time I saved the money and spent it intentionally on a purchase that feels right.

So satisfying.


More Book-related Synchronicity (or, Continue Heeding the Hunches)

Though I read many non-fiction books, it's been a while since I've found one that captured me such as Soul Shifts, by Dr. Barbara De Angelis.

I used to own a plethora of books you could slot into the "self-help" or "spiritual" categories, but during these past several years I've purged my collection considerably. This month I stumbled upon this book during another one of my walk-through-the-aisles-at-the-library-and-see-what-calls-me expeditions (the same way I found the Beatrix Potter biography) and felt drawn to it, so I picked it up. Whoa!

It grabbed me from the very first few pages. I've already renewed it a few times, slowly taking in its words and insights, mulling them over, letting them percolate, putting them into practice.

The moral of this story?

Sometimes the smallest weirdest hunches may lead to reflection and revelation. Heed them.


History, Farming, Domesticity

I couldn't offer a mish-mash of January happenings without mentioning my quasi-obsession with farm-related historical documentaries. Yes, you read that right. Throughout the month I've been soaking in episode after episode of BBC's Tudor Monastery Farm and my latest obsession, Wartime Farm, in which the running of a WWII farm is reenacted close to Southampton, in the UK.

I am absolutely fascinated by the everyday lives of farmers throughout these different eras - fascinated! What did they eat? How did they live? How did they use and leverage the resources at hand to survive, or even thrive? I could go on.

I've been watching the documentaries via TV Ontario's website, but I believe they're also available on Youtube and I'm guessing, via BBC's website. You might also be able to find them on DVD at your local library. If you're into history, farming and/or domesticity across the ages, I highly recommend it. But be forewarned, you might get hooked.


10 Years Blogging

Finally, this past Monday marked 10 years of blogging. It passed without fanfare or grandiosity, but it was proudly acknowledged and even touted a little at the office.

I am very proud of this accomplishment. Ten years is a long time persisting, however imperfectly at times, and it's worth celebrating. I haven't figured out what I want to do about it here yet so I'm holding off. I trust the right idea will come along eventually. Stay tuned.

In the meantime if you're interested in reading my very first post you can find it on my very first blog called Urban Living Experiment (scroll to the bottom of the page). Without knowing what I was getting into, this post kicked off ten years of writing online - so far - and one tremendous journey of transformation. I am grateful.


Many quiet days, many insights, delights, and even a few quiet celebrations. Such was the nature of this January.

Here's to that.