Category Archives: Blogtober

11 Oct

I never thought blogging would

It’s Day 10 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Rasa here and today’s topic isI never thought blogging would…”  

I Never Thought Blogging Would - Paint

Honestly, I never thought blogging would have me learn such a diverse set of skills.  I knew going into this that there would be writing and photography involved.  I love writing and taking taking pictures…it’s one of the reasons that I started a blog.  I never thought that blogging would lead me to developing my skills in coding and website development & social media.  I Mean, I even learned how to refinish a chair because I set a goal on this blog to create an office space for myself.

I Never Thought Blogging Would - Chair Back Before

Learning all of these new skills has been so satisfying.  My new skills in develop websites has lead me to creating a number of websites for others, be they blogs or non-blog sites (what do you call non-blog websites?  Just websites?)  I love creating websites.  It lets me blend my technical and creative skills together.

I Never Thought Blogging Would - Chair Before

Furniture refinishing though?  They was way out of the blue, but it’s insanely satisfying to take an old, nasty looking chair and turn it into something beautiful that you use everyday.  Learning how to do this has lead me to refinish our dinning room table.  That’s something I’ve been talking about for years, but never had the courage to take on.  Who knew?

I Never Thought Blogging Would - Chair After

I’m looking forward to see what everyone else “never thought blogging would…”!!

I Never Thought Blogging Would - My Desk

The Daily Tay
09 Oct

Best or Worst Halloween Memory #TBT

It’s day 9 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Today’s post is a “Best or Worst Halloween Memory #TBT”.  Rasa here and I totally LOVE Hallowe’en, so this is my Best Halloween Memory.

Best Halloween Memory - Mary and Rasa2

Hallowe’en is really my favourite holiday.  It’s probably the costumes.  I just love dressing up.  I mean, I force my friend to dress up for theme parties when it’s not Hallowe’en.  My husband has even asked me if it’s possible for me to throw a non-theme party.  I’m not sure that it is…

Best Halloween Memory - Paul and Rasa

I haven’t had a Hallowe’en party in a little while (need to fix that),  but I’d say that my best Hallowe’en memory is throwing my “Come as Your Favourite Rock Star” party.  Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic about the theme and came out in full force.

Best Halloween Memory - Mary Smiling

I went as Debbie Harry (and was surprised by how many people thought that her name is  “Blondie”.)  My sweet husband made an amazingly accurate Bono.

Best Halloween Memory - Paul and Greg

I loved the creativity that went into all of the costumes (we even had a “police officer” there to arrest us for the Rock Star-related offences.)

Best Halloween Memory - Mary and Jesse

To be honest, every  Hallowe’en is the “best” for me.  It’s such a fun holiday.

Best Halloween Memory - Mary and Rasa

Is anyone else guilty of throwing too many theme parties?  (Please say, yes!)

The Daily Tay
08 Oct

Letter to Myself in 10 Years

Day 8 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between and today’s post is a “Letter To Yourself in 10 Years.”  Here’s Mary with a letter to the Mary of the future.

Dear Future Mary,

Ten years…  Well let’s see future me,  you are now 48 years old and who knows what you’re up to?  I hope you’re still alive and healthy. I hope your teeth aren’t wretched.  I hope you’ve learned lots of interesting things.  I hope you’ve been playing  the piano.. I hope you have a real one by now!  I hope that you’ve been able to spend a lot of time watching the kiddies grow up.. Let’s see Blake will be a whopping 21,  Abby will 12 and Desmond will be 10!  I hope you’re good to them.  Don’t let them slip away!

Letter to Myself - Lake

By now,  there’s probably some folks that have gone off into the mystic,  joining the heavenly choirs, eternally gallivanting through catnip meadows,  etc.  I’m not looking forward to saying those goodbyes and I hope you made it through the grief and the pain with the grace of your friends and family.  I hope you’re still meditating.  It’s nice to think of you as still going strong.

Letter to Myself - Mary and Rasa

You’re probably still a lot like me,  so there’s plots and plans and chaos and changes and business everywhere you look…  What are you working on?  Have you gone on any trips?  Seen Europe yet?  Still taking care of cats?

Letter to Myself - Mary and Jesse

Today I’m happy,  enjoying some really beautiful autumn weather and colours and just back from a trip to Michigan (remember that?) for Mike’s brother’s wedding.  I’m off to see dad today and really looking forward to it.. He’s just back home from the hospital and he sounds overjoyed.  We’re looking forward to his 66th birthday this weekend.  Who knows,  maybe you’re getting ready for his 76th now!  Okay probably not,  but maybe the world has found a cure for cancer in these past ten years.

Letter to Myself Road

As I’ve gotten older,  I’ve always felt better and better about myself so by now I bet you feel like you’re just about perfect.  Watch that ego!  Haha. No matter where you are or what you’re doing I hope you are smiling and enjoying life as much as you can.  I hope you are continuing to help the people around you and not being too worried to reach out.  I promise I’m doing my best to do all the things to make our continuing life good by the time I get there. (Yes,  I will go to the dentist… And do my taxes.)  Keep looking up,  me.  I probably named a few stars up there for us too.

Letter to Myself - Unassumed Road

I’ll leave us with one of our favorites,  future me, and hopefully we will take our own good advice…

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Love
Me

The Daily Tay
07 Oct

Best and Worst Vacation

Wow!  We made it to Day 7 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Rasa here again with today’s topic of “Best/Worst Vacation“.

Best and Worst Vacation - Xcalacoop with Bug

Best vacation?  That’s an easy one for me.  Almost 15 years ago, I eloped in the tiny town of Xcalacoop, Mexico.  Mary was there as our witness (they pulled the other one off the street) and we had an absolutely amazing time.

Best and Worst vacation - Xcalacoop

We drove across North Eastern Mexico in our little bug (they called them belly buttons there, because everyone had one) and, well, GOT MARRIED.   We had our legal wedding in Xcalacoop and then has a more personal ceremony in Chichen Itza.

Best and Worst Vacation - Chichen Itza

We drove, ate local food in tiny little towns and explored all of the ruins we could find.  It was brilliant and I’ll never forget it…and Mary made the best witness you could ever ask for.

Best and Worst Vacation - Mary in Chichen Itza

My worst vacation?  That’s more difficult.  I’ve never regretted going away on vacation, even when I haven’t had the best time.

Best and Worst Vacation - with Mr. Fox

I’d say the worst vacations are the one that I never went on.  I found some excuse as to why I couldn’t go, but with that, I totally missed out on some opportunity to learn about a culture, to explore and to get outside of this world that I normally live in.

Best and Worst Vacation - with Mary

Do you agree with me?  Have you had a vacation that you could actually consider the worst?

The Daily Tay
06 Oct

What I’d Tell Myself When I Started Blogging

We’re on Day 6 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Rasa here and today’s topic is “10 Things You’d tell yourself when you started blogging”

Falafel - Spread2

Now, I’m fairly new to the blogging scene, but Make It Bittersweet is not my first blog.  I also have a food blog, This Fox Cooks.  I started it just over a year ago and there are already a bunch of things that I wish I had told myself when I started out.

1.  Get a better camera.

2.  Really, get a better camera, it will make a huge difference to your pictures.

Coconut French Toast - Pouring Syrup

3.  Once you start, keep going.  An object in motion stays in motion.  You might take a short break or two, but keep at it!

4.  Don’t be shy about promoting your blog and posts.  Otherwise, it will just be your Mom reading them.

taco party - table

5.  Get out there and network – remember that social media thing?  Use it.

6.  Be sure to thank your Mom for promoting your blog A LOT more than you are (it’s probably because she’s the one that reads it.)

Blueberry Bourbon Crumble - Featured

7.  Maybe reconsider that blog name.  Some people might think it doesn’t sound like a food blog…it might sound like something else, something inappropriate.  (For the record, my blog was originally named “The Vixen Life” and I did change it.)

Oops

8.  Don’t take things too personally if posts don’t turn out the way you wanted them to.

9.  Stay optimistic.  You will make blog-friends and it will feel very cool.  Someone that you’re not face-to-face friends with or related to is actually reading your blog.

10.  Keep true to the goals you originally had when you started the blog, but don’t be afraid to change if you feel that it’s what you need.  It’s YOUR blog!

The Daily Tay
05 Oct

Fall Bucket List

It’s Day 5 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Rasa here and I’m taking on today’s topic of  “Your Fall Bucket List“.

Fall Bucket List - Red Tree and Leake

I don’t think I’ve ever created a bucket list before.  Is that weird?  I’ve looked at a few fall bucket lists and it’s always things like “walk in the leaves” and “carve a pumpkin”.  Are these really bucket list worthy?  I always think of bucket lists as “things to do before you die” kinda stuff, but let’s go for it.  Welcome to my first ever bucket list!

Fall Bucket List - Red Leaves

1.  Create (and drink) a fall themed cocktail.

I love creating recipes and I’m overdue for a new drink.  I’m going to put this on the list and see what I can come up with that’s “fall themed”…something spiced?  What should be considered fall-themed in a cocktail?

2.  Find the perfect new sweater.

Why is this so hard??  OK…this is on my personal list of things that I need to do.  I’m one of those people that can’t wear wool, so I think that severely limits me in the sweater department.  It sucks, but I am still searching…I will find you.

Fall Bucket List - Trees and Lake

3.  Go to some sort of proper, dress up Hallowe’en party.

I love Hallowe’en…and I love dressing up.  The real trick here is figuring out what costume to choose.

4.  Make Mary’s Dad the perfect meatballs for his birthday.

Mary’s Dad is very ill.  I love sending him food and have been sending him different types of meatballs whenever I can….Italian, Indian.  His Birthday is coming up soon and he’s asked me to make him meatballs.  I cannot leave this off my bucket list…I will make him some damn good meatballs.

Fall Bucket List - The Red Leaf

5.  Have a drink on a patio, one last time.

I live in Toronto, Canada…It’s already fall and freezing cold here.  I am hoping for that last beautiful, Indian Summer day where I can have one last drink on a patio.  Honestly, people will wear parkas to stay on a patio around here, but not me.  One last day with nice weather…and a patio…and a drink.

Fall Bucket List - Leaves in Water

How is that for a first ever bucket list?

The Daily Tay
04 Oct

Favourite Instagram Photo

Day 4 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Today’s topic is  “Favorite Photo You’ve Posted on Instagram and here Mary tells us about hers.

I’ve got a lot of fun photos up on Instagram (okay mostly cats) that make me smile and bring back some wonderful memories, but my favorite pic is this one:

Favourite Instagram - Main

That’s me and my (then) 5 days new beautiful niece, Abigail Mary.  It means so much to me not only because I adore Abigail so entirely (which I do), but because her birth marked such a turning point in my life.

Favourite Instagram - Hat

During the spring and summer of 2012, I was suffering from a violent and brutal depression.  It had been coming in waves for years, but that year it settled in and held on like it would never let go.  I was barely coping, barely able to work, feeling wild and horrible and on fire with mental anguish.  Every day was a heavy duty struggle not to toss myself off a bridge just to make it stop.

Favourite Instagram - Sleepy

In desperation at the beginning of the summer, I got into a cognitive behavioural therapy outpatient program at CAMH that lasted 16 weeks.  Between that program and some very caring friends,  I managed to drag myself up and out of the depths.  There were some very dark moments.  Right in the middle of one of them, in a breakdown of epic proportion, my niece entered the world.  I got the phone call and heard my sister say, “She’s here, its a girl, her name is Abigail Mary!” and my entire world turned upside down.

Favourite Instagram - Hamper

How can I describe the flame of hope that emerged in the depths of my heart at that dark and terrible moment?  Hope for the beautiful little girl who was now my namesake, hope for myself, that I could be the aunt she looked up to. My whole life had changed in one fragile second.

Favourite Instagram - birthday

I knew I would finish the therapy.  I wouldn’t be sick anymore. I would get better.  I wouldn’t be depressed for all time.  I would work as hard as I needed to, for as long as it took.  There would be no more thoughts of bridges and finality.  Mary & Abigail Mary.  I have held onto that little flame ever since and let it lead me to a happier and healthier life.

Favourite Instagram - Together

The Daily Tay
03 Oct

What I Can’t Live Without

It’s Day 3 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Today’s post is about “One Thing You Can’t Live Without .”  Here’s Mary with what she truly can’t live without.

Can't Live Without - Long Nose Dude puerto vallarta boardwalk

This topic reminds me of an exercise described by Joseph Campbell,  wherein each person is given 8 stones and each stone represents something precious to that individual. Something they can’t live without.  The participants are led through a cave and at certain turning points must sacrifice a precious item of their choice, thus illuminating their true priorities.  I’ve often thought about that exercise and if push came to shove, what I might choose to discard?  What I would choose to keep until the end, the essential ingredient to living?

Can't Live Without - Kids Reaching puerto vallarta boardwalk

There’s oxygen, of course, water and food, the survival game.  Friends and family and love.  Music, the lake and furry beasts.  Weather, information and ideas.  Freedom, choice and independence.  All of these are incredibly important to me and my daily life.  But are any of them things I consider really and truly essential for living?

Can't Live Without - Couple Dancing puerto vallarta boardwalk

I think for a question of this magnitude,  I must turn to the venerable Thich Nhat Hahn, Vietnamese Buddhist monk extraordinaire and a personal hero of mine.  Over the years and the struggles and the illuminations, I have become aware that the most essential thing in my life, the one thing I can’t live without, is my ability to be present.  To be right here and right now.  Being present underlies everything I do, want and could ever want, since it informs my direct experience with everything that is happening in my life.  This is an idea that is at the heart of Thich Nhat Hahn’s teachings about mindfulness.

Can't Live Without - Squid Head puerto vallarta boardwalk

One of the things that really illustrated this idea for me was his description of doing the dishes, a task that I have found irritating many times in the past. Thich Nhat Hahn says “do the dishes like you were bathing a baby buddha”. Everytime I wash a plate, I smile and think of washing a baby buddha and it is this awareness to the present, to the water rushing out of the tap, the plate in my hand, the delight of making it clean, the gratitude of being able to eat, use the plate, clean it, have running water, etc. etc. this awareness, this mindfulness is what brings such happiness.

Can't Live Without - Woman Curved puerto vallarta boardwalk

It is a skill and a habit that can be applied to any situation, any experience and any moment.  I can’t live without it!

Can't Live Without - Woman Curved in sunset puerto vallarta boardwalk

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Being Peace

(Thanks, Thay!)

Can't Live Without - Sunset puerto vallarta boardwalk

The Daily Tay
02 Oct

When I Grow Up – Then and Now

It’s Day 2 of the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  Rasa here and today’s topic is “Dream job when you were little/ what is it now?”, but I’m going to tweak it slightly and let you know what I want to be when I grow up – then and now edition.

What I want to be - Grandparents

My Mom has often told the story of me coming home from elementary school one day in complete tears.  Asking why I was crying, I told her that I couldn’t be what I wanted to be when I grew up.   She was not going to accept this.  My mom launched into a very detailed explanation about how I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up.

What I want to be - feeding geese

There was no limiting what I could be because I was a girl.

Girls can be anything they want to be.

After instilling in me that there was no limit to my future goals, she finally thought to ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

What I want to be - side of road

“Short”, I told her.

My Mom has since learned to ask for details before launching into a speech and I have come to terms with being taller than average.  I was a tall kid.  This is me with my cousins – one of them is older than me.

What I want to be - Winter coats

What do I want to be when I grow up now?  What’s my dream job?  To be honest, I’ve been working towards it for a little while.  I’m lucky to be working with my husband and running a small business that supports the computer needs of our clients.  I’ve always found that I have a talent with making computers useful for everyone.  Up until now, I’ve always worked in the corporate world, but it’s exciting to be able to continue to grow my own business…and work for myself.

What I want to be - Wonder Woman

…and Wonder Woman.  I still want to be Wonder Woman.

The Daily Tay
01 Oct

If I Won the Lotto…

We love a good challenge here at Make it Bittersweet, so we’re joining the #Blogtober14 Challenge with The Daily Tay and Helene in Between!  First up, Mary with that Day 1 challenge “If you won the lottery you’d”

I’ve never been much of a gambler.  However, I must admit that over the past few months while I’ve been caring for my dad as he fights off an aggressive brain cancer,  we’ve been playing the lottery and for three bucks a ticket per week, we’ve been enjoying it immensely.  Especially as we sit and imagine all of the stupendous and wondrous things we could do with ALL THAT MONEY.

Lotto Win Trees - Rainbow

My fantasies range from practical (dentist!)  to selfishly extravagant (world tour!)  to practically extravagant (apartment building where every one I love can live in luxury!) and so on..   But if I really won the lottery,  right now,  I would take my dad on a trip to the west coast of America to fulfill his dream of seeing the beautiful big trees of California!

Lotto Win Trees - Forest

We would fly to Oregon and start driving our way down south through all the Redwood National Forests, all the way down to see the Sequoia National Forest just outside of Los Angeles.  There we would take a long,  slow drive down the General’s Highway (speed limit 10 mph!) and enjoy the unbelievable sight of some of the largest trees on the planet,  including the General Sherman tree and the General Grant tree.  No trip to the Sequoia National Forest is complete without driving through the Tunnel Tree or stopping in at the forest’s museum.  We might even have a picnic at the famous Crescent Meadow,  the “gem of the Sierra” located right in the middle of the Giant’s Forest.

Lotto Win Trees - Clouds

After all that nature,  we would have to get back into the swing of city life,  so a day in Los Angeles to attend a taping of ‘The Price is Right’ would do the trick quite nicely before heading home again.

That’s my lottery fantasy!

Lotto Win Trees - Close Up

The Daily Tay
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