Versatile Blogger Award

I remembering reading about the Versatile Blogger Award last year, but looks like this year I am a participant! Thanks to Ester from Work, Love, and Have Fun my blog is now being considered for the award! Thank you Ester for nominating me!

20140509-123358.jpg

The rules of this award are:

1. Put the Versatile picture in your post
2. Link to the blogger who nominated you
3. Give 7 facts about yourself
4. Nominate 15 people

The 7 facts that I can share with the world are:
- I have lived in 3 different cities and they were all by the sea. This is the first time that I live in a city that doesn’t have a coast.
- I am afraid of dogs, but I love them. I have a small dream of hugging a bulldog.
- I can write mirror image as fast as I can write the regular way.
- I have had LASIK. It was successful and scaringly fast.
- I cannot live without music.
- Nothing makes me feel as free as when I am on my bicycle.
- My real name is Layal.

My 15 nominations are:

Cartoline Blog
Fragole E Farfalle
Somewhere In Canada
Nostalgic Vibes
Heart Swell
Chew Outloud
Rosewater and Orange Blossom
Blog para anotar la vida
Thrifty Amos
Afternoons and Coffeespoons
Delicious Shots
Detras del tocador
How to Make Home
Amasakapaka
Girl Meets Rye

Thank you again Ester for nominating me! Good luck with your studies :)

Counting Sheep

Eureka! I’ve found it. You count sheep, I could BREATHS!

sheep

When I cannot sleep, I simply do the 4-4-7. It is easy to remember and it always work for me, but you have to do it 8 consecutive times before it works. This is how to do it:

1. Relax all your muscles, starting from  your toes all the way to your scalp.

2. Inhale slowly counting to 4 filling your belly with air.

3. Hold your breath in, count to 4.

4. Exhale slowly counting to 7, emptying your belly from air until your bellybutton sticks to your back.

Repeat at least 8 times. If your mind wanders away, simply bring it back to consciously follow your breath.

That’s the trick. Whether it is sheep or cows or your breath, you need to let you mind focus on one single thing until it relaxes and sleeps.

Sleep tight!

 

 

 

 

Get Lucky?

My dear friend of Fragole E Farfalle recommended that I listen to Get Lucky by Daft Punk while I am cooking to give my evening ritual a new twist or more life, especially when I am alone.  And what a priceless piece of advice! I can’t stop moving!

First, I played the song over and over for 3 times. I couldn’t get enough. Then, I started dancing, so I played it for another 2 or 3 times. Later, I found myself writing this post. I had to share this contagious beat! I guess we sometimes forget that dancing doesn’t just belong in a club. And we also forget the power of music and beats. Music is the drive of life, I think. Love, too :)

I dedicate this song to all of you who need a little beat in their day. I suggest playing it anyway, it won’t hurt :)

A Dedicated Follower of … Sunshine!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for SUNSHINE!

I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole wide world who doesn’t like  sunshine. Find me someone who prefers a gray day over a sunny day and I’ll  give them my bicycle, all my cookbooks, and my coffee maker. Sunshine can sometimes do more to lift my mood than chocolate, a pay rise, or a nice  dream would. It doesn’t beat a genuine tight hug, but it definitely presents  competition!

Living in this part of North America surely increases one’s appreciate for  sun and its benefits, and I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  Sometimes it feels like a good thing to have something not so often so that  you can appreciate it once it appears, and at other times it feels too much of  a long wait, waiting for the sun to peak through the clouds and warm your  bones, draw a smile on your face, and get you out of the house on a weekend  morning.

coffee-second-cup

In any case, I did appreciate the sun’s appearance this weekend. When I  opened my eyes Saturday morning and saw the sun rays filtering through   my bedroom curtain, my brain immediately jolted up! It’s here, the sun is  here! My mind started racing with all the possibilities. What to do? Walk up  the mountain? Go to a cafe and stick my face to the glass window facing the  sun? Walk aimlessly around? Ice skating? Whatever option I was going to  choose, it was going to involve one sure thing: sun worshiping!

Finally, I went for the simplest and most delicious option: I just walked to Second Cup, got myself a cup of mocha, half-sweet just like I like it, asked  for whipped (I usually don’t), sprinkled chocolate on top and just … walked  around! With a smile on my face. The sun does make you silly. But happy.

Indie Coffee Passport

My very good friend Cartoline doesn’t stop talking about coffee, and frankly, I don’t know why I don’t talk about coffee as much as she does! I love coffee with a passion, and I am not an addict! I enjoy the taste, punto. I do not need it every morning; I can start a productive day without a cup of coffee. However, everyday I make sure that I have at least 30 minutes to unwind with a cup of latte, whether I prepare it myself at home or go to a neighborhood cafe for it.

coffeepot-confetti

Besides enjoying the taste of a good cup of coffee, I enjoy the experience of being in a cafe. I do not just go to a cafe to sip my coffee and leave. I do that in Rome. Over here, going to a cafe is a stimulating experience for me. From the moment I step into the cafe until I leave an hour or so later, my mind is happy. I love looking at the interior decor of the cafe, observing the staff and how they prepare coffee, and  checking out the wall of advertisements for cultural happenings. I love to actually listen to the music playing, and to hear the chatter of the people and feel the warmth of a packed cafe. Can you think of a better way to spend a grey Sunday evening alone in the winter?! So you see, going to a cafe is an outing for me, an activity, something I have always enjoyed doing, something I don’t feel shy admitting.

All this introduction to bring you to the following: This year, I have made a small promise to myself: I am going to explore cafes in other neighborhoods in Montreal, and it turns out that there is actually a passport for that, the Indie Coffee Passport! What is that?

It is a a pass for 18 different coffee shops in different neighborhoods in Montreal. You buy the pass and then you get one cup of coffee at each of the participating coffee shops. As simple as that. Of course, you can read more at their website.

I will let you know when I buy the pass and hopefully I’ll be able to take good shots and write a good post for each coffee experience!

What kind of coffee machine/pot do I use? The one in the photo.  What coffee do I buy? Oftentimes it is Cafe Cubita.

Bon café!

How to Spend Sunday Evening

You know how Bob Dylan is “music for the mind?”

Of course you do.

Well, if you are a lover of Dylan music, poetry, and/or voice, then I am guessing you (would) also love Thomas Fersen. I know I do. Just like Bob Dylan can take on a trip on his magic swirlin’ ship of genius, I think this album for Fersen has come close to leaving me in the same state of positive stupor.

qu4tre1

My recommended unwinding activity for a Sunday evening at home while the washing machine is tumbling, the neighbors making love, and the autumn wind blowing away the last standing  leaves? Turn off all lights, sit or lie down in a mediation position and let either Dylan or Fersen take you on a trip.

 

Leave it to Fate

 

 

What are your plans for this weekend?

After a disappointing last-minute flight cancellation due to bad weather, I spent last weekend (and a bit more!) here in Montreal. However, it turned out to be an unexpected fun-and-sun staycation! It included a lot of sunny cycling, girly chit-chats, 2 BBQs and tons of hugs. Alors, this weekend I am leaving to fate, too!

How about you?

I’m sharing these few photos of Montreal to authenticate that we do get beautiful weather in Montreal, sometimes :-)

Bon weekend!

JeanDrapeau-July-2013

JeanDrapeau-July-2013-2

St-Laurent-July-2013

Summer Happened!

2 months – ouch!

I know, I know, I have committed a sin by neglecting my blog for this long. I have a reason for this  but I’m not sure if it’s a good reason. But anyway, I’m here and I hope I’m back for good! (Any Take That fans?!)

SO what happened during the past two months? Well, THIS happened: SUMMER!

summer2013

Summer happened, the as-fast-as-the-wind month that comes right after could-have-fooled-me Spring! Haha. I’m overdoing it, I’m not one to complain about the weather anyway. I appreciate all 4 seasons and look forward to each one of them. And, I have finally  had my Montreal baptism: my bicycle got stolen!

Yoohoo! I couldn’t stop smiling when I walked back from Park Laurier on that beautiful chilly night and didn’t find my bicycle locked to the metal bars! I smiled for two reasons. The first: out with the old, in with the new (looks like this is the year of perfect change). The second: Montreal is finally treating me like one of its own; Montreal is becoming home! It looks like I have found me a home :) Home is not who you’re with or where your heart is, that is Hollywood BS. Home is where (and when) your bicycle gets stolen!

One Year in Montreal

My one year anniversary of being in Montreal is around the corner and I thought I’d dedicate a post (and a photo, of course) to this beautiful city that has shown me nothing but warmth, friendship and good times from the day I set foot here last May. The most special thing I found about Montreal is the four seasons, how truly humbling, patient, wise and majestic nature is. And I learned from it a very simple yet inspiring lesson: that there is no Spring without Winter. We really learn the simplest and most beautiful lessons from nature. So, here is my sunset photo to you, Montreal.

sunset-montreal(Photo taken from Oratoire Saint Joseph)

Happiness

I think personal happiness begins once we accept that there is no day without night and there is no spring without winter, and once we know how to enjoy and appreciate both. They are two sides of the same coin but not so many people have the clarity of mind and emotions to realize that and see it as beautiful.

Don’t curse the bleak white winter, just be sure that it is necessary for nature to go through winter to bring you your beloved spring.

park jeanne mance montreal

Let’s Sugar Shack It!

What do you do with the following ingredients: two cars, 7 friends, -5 C, a Sunday, Quebec?

You go to a sugar shack!

Sugar shacks, or sugar houses, (cabanes a sucre in French) are very popular in Eastern Canada and between March and April is the season for what they have to offer. They are cabins that were established to make maple syrup. Sugar shacks now offer a meal in the cabin where most of the food is made with maple syrup and some even have a chimney and live music. In Quebec, it is quite popular during the months of March and April to go to a cabane a sucre to have a typical meal from the region and then have tire d’erable on the snow, which is maple syrup on the snow that solidifies into a caramel-like texture and then scooped by you with a wooden Popsicle stick! Simple, silly but fun!

Needless to say, it turned out to be a cool Sunday. Here are a few photos.

cabane-a-sucre00

cabane-a-sucre01

cabane-a-sucre02

cabane-a-sucre03

cabane-a-sucre04

cabane-a-sucre05

cabane-a-sucre06

cabane-a-sucre07

cabane-a-sucre08