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Big Changes + A Cosmic Shift

March 7, 2011

Hello all! I have some great big, wonderful news.

In LimboLife In Limbo.

That’s right, folks. I picked up and made the move to my own domain!

I’d been thinking of making the switch to hosting my own blog for a long time, and crystallized my desires over my reading break. Last Wednesday, in the medical sciences library I set up my new blog in about 10 minutes, and then proceeded to spend the next four solid days (we’re talking 8-10 hours a day – thank goodness I have a midterm hiatus) fixing it up and making it awesome.

There has been so much freedom and adventure these last few days – it’s more exciting than you can imagine! I’ve been waiting to make this change for a long time, so my days were spent efficiently ticking off the lists of things I wanted to incorporate. Problems came up, they were fixed (with lots of help from Google), and it was both invigorating and exhausting.

And now I’m ready to share it with you! You, my faithful, intelligent and wonderful readers. I want to stress that if you’ve loved this blog, you’ll be getting much of the same on the new website. For more info on the content of the new site, check out the introductory video I made for Life In Limbo!

I want to make sure that you wonderful people don’t miss a beat, so stay subscribed!

  • If you were subscribed by email, re-subscribe by clicking here.
  • If you were subscribed by RSS, re-subscribe by clicking here.

There are lots of other exciting projects in the works, including an email newsletter, an ebook, and more video blogging. If this sounds good to you, what are you waiting for??

Head on over to the new site, yo!

Be sure to check out the new About page + the updated Photography page.

And let me know what you think!

Tweet me: @effieboo

Email me: effieboo@lifeinlimbo.org

As always – much love.

The Happiness Project

March 1, 2011

Note: a condensed version of this post has also been posted over at my other blog, The Book Club, which I am trying to get back into action. If you’re interested in contributing book reviews over there, just drop me a line at effieboo dot inlimbo @ gmail dot com.

 

Photo thanks to Christine Whelan

Hola! Oh, I’ve missed you. I had a borderline-hectic break this year. At least,  it was hectic compared to my typical “sleep, eat, and read-all-day” norm for school breaks – I only read two books. TWO! Oy vey. And I posted a grand total of zero times. ZERO! Mucho oy vey. But I must admit, I had a wonderful break. In fact, it was so wonderful that I was *forced* to spend the majority of it actually living, and thereby gaining material for my blog. Funny how that works.

The sad bit is, despite all the actual living I did during the break, the very first thing I want to share with you is how I was inspired by a particular book (once an introvert, always an introvert, eh?). Nevertheless, it’s true. The glories of my first trip to Crate & Barrel and the amusing number of comic book stores I went into this week will have to wait. First things first: The Happiness Project.

I’ll be quick to emphasize up front: the author, Gretchen Rubin, doesn’t present this book as an all-encompassing guide to happiness. It’s not a solution that pretends to work for everyone, but merely an account of one woman’s guide to become happier in her everyday life. The everyday life bit is the most interesting – she works on small, positive resolutions, and seeks to be happier where she is. She doesn’t pack up and move to Hawaii or quit her job, she simply resolves to increase her positive experiences and diminish her negative ones. In this way, the book becomes a lot more accessible and helpful than one like Eat, Pray, Love (which I also liked!) in that it’s more doable.

The premise of the book is, Rubin realizes that she’s living her life away, one day at a time, without much thought to happiness. She decides to devote a year to promoting her happiness, focusing on an area such as “energy”, “mindfulness”, “money”, etc, for each month of the year. She tracks her progress with small, measurable resolutions on a chart that she fills out each day. Along the way she learns several truths about happiness and adulthood, among other things.

The book is very well researched – it cites several studies and research findings, as well as countless quotes on happiness. In my reading, I found myself scribbling down quotes, ideas for resolutions, and thoughts on happiness. In fact, much of the book hit home for me, in unexpected ways. Of course, the author and I lead very different lives (for one thing, I’m not a married mother-of-two), but I could do well to remember the majority of her resolutions in my day to day life.

One thing I like about the book is that it emphasizes that each person’s happiness project will be utterly different, since we all derive happiness in different ways. In fact, one of Rubin’s “Secrets of Adulthood” is that “what’s fun for others may not be fun for you, and vice versa”. There are lots of these juicy tidbits of wisdom to snack on throughout the book, and I found myself gobbling them up as fast as they came. I felt a sort of “Aha moment” (a la Oprah) at several points in the book, and these statements are already pervading my everyday interactions just a few days later.

“Act without expectation” turns out to be my #1 commandment – I am a person with high expectations, which tends to interfere with my happiness. One crucial thing Rubin hits on in her writing is that certain of our actions can make us feel unhappy, such as nagging, criticizing, getting upset, saying rude comments, losing our temper. If we can work to diminish these reactions, we can increase our happiness. After all, the only person we can change is our self. With this revelation, I already feel a great deal more at peace. I am the type of person who doesn’t leave things unsaid, who loses her temper, who has high expectations (and gets upset when they are not met). Even in just a few days, practicing restraint on these behaviours (biting my tongue, letting it go, not worrying about it) has made me feel more uplifted and happy about myself.

Another important truth she touches on is feeling good in your body. Keeping myself well-rested, well-fed, well-dressed and well-groomed is so important, and yet I tend to let it fall by the wayside quite frequently. If I don’t feel good in my clothes, I don’t feel positively about myself; if I’m hungry, I’m grumpy and irritable. The simple task of taking care of myself has the power to influence all my daily interactions, and it should be taken more seriously.

Possibly my favourite tip from the book: if something takes one minute or less, do it now. It’s hard to think of examples, but in my day there are so many things that bum me out when I think about doing them, but that only take one minute. I’ve found that just doing them makes me feel more productive, and therefore: happier!

It’s much too hard to condense the whole book into a single blog post. She presents countless revelations and nuggets of wisdom throughout, and really inspires you to think more deeply about your own happiness.  I encourage you to check out Rubin’s website for the Secrets of Adulthood, the Commandments, and lots of other interesting articles on happiness.

I’ll end with a few of my favourites from the book:

You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.

It’s okay to ask for help.

It’s easy to be heavy, hard to be light.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Act the way you want to feel.

The days are long, but the years are short.

I’d love to know – have you read The Happiness Project? If so, what did you think? Were you inspired to start your own happiness project, as I am?

And if you haven’t read it – does this post make you think about your own happiness? What makes you happy?

As always, I’d love to know what you’re thinking.

xoxo,

You can purchase the Happiness Project online here, and for your Kindle here.

Lovely Things

February 20, 2011

{a single red rose from my beau for Valentine’s}

These past few weeks have been a hullabaloo of ups and downs. Writing exams, getting chocolates. Stuffy noses and ferris wheel rides. Cold winds and warm ones. Trips to Ottawa, long nights studying in my room. Fireworks and disappointing grades. Reading captivating novels and wordy textbooks. Being given gorgeous tiny diamond earrings. Coming home. Roasting marshmallows by the pier in Old Montreal. Eating delicious Italian food to the tune of live jazz music. Shopping sprees on warm Spring-like days. Coming back to my family home to delicious home made scones and favourite newspapers.

Okay, okay. So it seems like it was more full of ups than downs. :) And it’s reading break, which means that the coming week will be even more wonderful. Home-cooked meals, lots of time for reading, writing and watching movies. Lovely.

{milkshakes and burgers at The Works in Ottawa}

{Laughing all night at a local comedy club that my friend was performing at}

{Beautiful notebooks and pens from my favourite stationery shop, Papeterie Nota Bene}

{The war memorial in Ottawa}

{A fun wallpaper that’s been making me smile all week – get it here}

{Skating on the Canal on a beautiful day}

What wonderful things have been going on with you lately?

xoxo,

Wishes & Wants

February 17, 2011
Title

Since I’ve been struggling with midterms lately, my thoughts have turned to happier days: days when reading 100 pages a night is a mere whisper of memory, days when it’s sunny and warm, days when I am lounging and reading novels on the beach. Escapism is awesome, isn’t it? For now though, I’ve been diverting my thoughts by daydreaming about stuff. I know, it’s awful. I just had Christmas not two months ago! But that’s the thing about escapism. It doesn’t really listen to reason. So unbeknownst to me, sometime earlier this week a whole bunch of material things decided to take residence in my brain. They’re saying: “Buy me!! Buy me!!”. They don’t appreciate it when I say “I can’t afford to buy you!!”. So in an effort to shake these things from my mind, I’ve compiled them into pretty collages, which hopefully gives them enough attention that they go away. Anyways, you have the pleasure of seeing my wish-list today!

Here are some of the things I’ve been dreaming about lately – along with the entire stock of Crate & Barrel, but that’s another story entirely.

Beauty Wishlist
Calvin Klein Underwear Envy lace padded bra
Calvin Klein Underwear Envy lace hipster briefs
Ray-Ban Aviators
Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner
MAC Lipstick in Dazzle
Essie Mint Candy Apple Nail Polish
Kiehl’s Creme de Corps
Smith’s Rosebud Salve
Miss Dior Cherie Eau de Parfum
L’Oreal Carbon Black Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner
Foodie
KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in Ice
Lodge® Cast Iron Round Skillet
Anthropologie Latte Bowls
Rosanna Decor Bon Bon Footed Round Cake Stand
Flame Le Creuset 13-quart Round French Oven
Peugeot Paris u’Select 7-Inch Pepper Mill, Red Lacquer
Emile Henry Pie Dish in Cerise Red
Fox Run Retro Kitchen Timer with Magnet
Heart Bamboo Spoon

 

Sigh. Alas, since I have neither the funds nor the..well, funds, to acquire such beautiful and bright things, I shall have to resign myself to looking at them online. And maybe dropping a hint or two here or there. As in, hint hint, it’s my birthday in April!?

..Just kidding, I’m not that desperate. Or am I?? ;)

I’d like to know: what’s topping your frivolous wishlist lately? Do we overlap on anything?

xoxo,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2011

Photo thanks to Neal

Today, love.

Appreciate, pamper, coddle, cuddle, hug, smile, reach out, embrace, accept.

Be kind, patient, happy, honest, caring.

Write that letter. Pick up that phone. Send that text. Reconnect.

Don’t expect, wish, or hope. Just appreciate.

This Valentine’s Day, don’t buy into the hype. No disappointment if you don’t get a candy-gram or a bunch of flowers. No shame that you don’t have a Valentine. No anger that your boyfriend ‘didn’t do enough’.  Let today serve as a reminder of how lucky you are to be surrounded by such magnificent human beings who love every inch of you! Be grateful for the people you love, and be happy just to spend time with them.

And make sure to take some time today to love yourself! Treat yourself to a day full of little luxuries, smiles, and unconditional love.

There are so many cynics out there about Valentine’s, but what a wonderful holiday – a day created to remind you to love the ones you love.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

xoxo,

Ignore Your But(t)

February 10, 2011

This time of year makes it incredibly easy to be negative.

Think about it, we’re totally in limbo. Past the good parts of Winter – namely Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/awesome time with food, family & friends – and waiting for the beginnings of Spring. We stay inside most of the time, it’s difficult to find motivation to go to class, let alone to see friends. We’re marooned on a snowy island, waiting for a rescue boat! No, this isn’t exactly the time of year we tend to be optimistic and cheery.

Which is why it’s the perfect time for this message I’ve been ruminating on for a couple weeks. (Keep in mind, these ‘advice’ articles are just as much [if not more] written to remind myself of things as they are to ‘advise’ you). And the message is:

Focus on the wells, forget about the buts.

I will give you a few examples:

  • Well, I love most of my body, but my butt is too big”
  • Well, it’s bright and sunny outside, but it’s -20 degrees”
  • Well, my boots keep the slush out, but they’re kind of ugly”
  • Well, I love my boyfriend, but he works too hard”

I’m not saying that ignoring the buts is easy, because it’s not. The buts are the things that stubbornly invade our “otherwise happy” days. They shout out for our attention, distract us from the positive, and seem to constantly take up more of our thoughts than the wells. But I would venture to say that happiness is in the wells. Think of it this way: most of the time, the buts are things we can’t control. They’re constant. You can’t change them. So what’s the point of fixating on them? They’re not going away. You can’t alter the weather, no matter how much you try, and your body will always have the same basic shape, no matter how much you work out. So why waste so much time and energy focusing on the buts and ignoring the wells?

Another way of putting it: practice gratitude. It may sound all hippie and new-agey, but I honestly think one of the very best ways to find happiness is to learn to be grateful for what you have right now. Sure, you may strive to achieve a better life for yourself, more cash money, more clothes, etc, and that’s all well and fine – it’s great to have goals. But the real happiness comes with acknowledging every day how great your life already is. Focusing on the sweet spots of your day, reminding yourself to be positive, diverting your attention from buts to wells.

For a ton of perspective, please read this amazing article from Danielle Laporte on why you’re privileged. Two of my favourite quotes from it:

Really, what’s the worst of your problems?

We have so many rights, must we exercise the right to complain?

As much as possible, we should try to pull ourselves out from under the rubble of negative thoughts that crowd our minds. The way I see it, if the negative things are there to stay, and so are the positive ones, I’d much rather expend my energy stubbornly reminding myself to stay positive, stay grateful, stay happy. And no, I’m not being happy-go-lucky about this, it’s not always going to work, and there’s no such thing as being happy all the time. You can’t have light without dark after all! But in those everyday situations where we have a choice between acting/thinking/speaking negatively or positively, I think we should always try to choose positive.

  • “Well, I love most of my body!”
  • “Well, it’s bright and sunny today!”
  • “Well, my boots keep the slush out!”
  • “Well, I love my boyfriend!”

Some of you are sitting there thinking: “Wow, how naive! She is being so unrealistic. The world is a tough place, after all.” I know it is. We all do. But I don’t think that being realistic (read: pessimistic) about the state of the world is going to help us achieve any happiness. I’m well aware of the dangers, horrors, and terrors of our world. Yet I’m also aware of the wonders, loves, and beauty of it. And when given the choice of what to focus on, I think it will bring me a great deal more happiness to stay positive.

I’d love to know what you think! How often do you find yourself “but-ing” the heck out of your day, getting pulled into a spiral of negative thinking? Or do you try and make a conscious effort to be grateful every day? Any tips or tricks for us newbs about how to stay positive?

xoxo,

Favourite Food Standbys

February 6, 2011

Okay, it’s time for me to fess up. You know how I always post photos of the delicious food I make, and make it seem like it’s no big thang.

In fact, it is kinda a big thang, and I can assure you that I do not make elaborate food every night of the week. I’m lucky enough to have great friends and a few great (and relatively cheap) restaurants near where I live, so I’ve found I only end up cooking about three nights of the week, and eat leftovers most of the other nights. I love love LOVE leftovers! I love big one-pot meals that last me countless lunches and dinners to come!

Today I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite go-to meals for whenever I don’t really feel like cooking for a couple days.

One Pot Meals

Since I’m a vegetarian, these are my standbys. Simple and nutritious, tons of protein, comforting and delicious. Perfect!

My Mum’s Vegetarian Chili


Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew: adapted from here. I make it without the green beans (only because I never have any!), and top with some goat’s cheese – YUM!

Hot and Sour Soup. I use a recipe similar to this one, but without the water chestnuts or bamboo shoots. It’s so wonderful for when you have a cold, or just the winter blues.

Pad Thai. It’s so full of yummy goodness: tofu, egg, peanuts, lime, cilantro…yummerdoodle! I find it easier to use a package or jarred sauce than to wrestle with tamarind. It’s not as authentic, and it has a bit more sodium, but it’s worth the convenience, I think! Just cook the tofu and egg and set to the side; then stirfry together boiled rice noodles and green onions, add some sauce, add tofu and egg, add cilantro and bean sprouts and more sauce. Serve with lime wedges and peanuts! Delicioso.

Quinoa salad. Quinoa is so amazing for you (read why here), and so easy to make. I like to add chopped carrots, green onions, nuts (walnuts or cashews), dried apricots, and beets and cauliflower if I have them around. I usually eat mine with some balsamic vinegar, and it’s so delicious! You can add any veggies you want to it, and it always tastes lovely.

Dishes I Pretend Are Dinner

Warning! I am not advocating these foods as necessarily good, vegetarian healthy options. These are just the dishes I tend to throw together when I’m too tired to cook anything!

Sweet potato fry poutine. Make a mushroom gravy, cook some sweet potato fry wedges tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper and a dash of cinnamon in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, top with cheese curds and gravy, and stuff your face.

Bruschetta. I couldn’t care less that it’s winter, this dish will never be out of season to me. I chop some tomatoes, sweet onion and yellow pepper and marinate them in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper. Then slice some baguette, top with the mixture, add some goat’s cheese and drizzle with some more balsamic vinegar. Then stick it under the broiler for a couple minutes until the bread starts to toast and the cheese starts to sizzle. Eat.

My favourite spinach salad. Spinach, sauteed red onions and mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, green onions, goat’s cheese and raspberry vinaigrette (not pictured, because I’m a silly goose).

Zucchini fritters. Oh man, this is my newest addiction. These things are delicious! And so easy. I roughly use this recipe, but mostly I just shred a zucchini, add an egg and enough flour to make it stick together, sprinkle the mixture with salt and pepper. Then form it into patties with your hands and fry like a pancake in some oil. Top with some sour cream!

Other Things I Tend to Eat

  • Various types of grilled cheese sandwiches: mozzarella and apricot jam, old cheddar and caramelized onions and mushrooms…etc, etc!
  • Perogies served with caramelized onions and sour cream
  • Tostadas with refried beans, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and shredded cheddar
  • Lasagna with zucchini and mushrooms
  • Stir fries with red cabbage, snow peas, tofu, and bean sprouts
  • Frozen pizza, my favourite is this one from President’s Choice – go Blue Menu! :)

I’d Love To Know..

What sorts of things do you eat for dinners? Are you a vegetarian or a meat-eater? What are your favourite go-to meals?  Let me know and give me some inspiration!! I always love to hear from you.

xoxo,

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