Less is More

Every year I find myself wanting to do less and less for my birthday. Yesterday I went to work, and then to celebrate, I went to a pub with just a couple friends.

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Mango cake! My favourite!

It was small, intimate, and perfect.

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I do feel incredibly lucky, though, to work at a place where my employers show that they value their employees.

For each employee’s birthday they will buy them a bouquet of flowers.

For me they chose yellow, since I’m a summer baby, and red for my Chinese heritage. It was thoughtful, and generous, and such a nice touch.

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I’m not sure why I did not feel the need for a great bit celebration – I certainly used to enjoy them. And I know I’m not the only one who now prefers smaller parties.

What about you? How do you enjoy celebrating your birthday? Have your celebrations changed over the years?

Welcoming

Welcoming the summer with open arms. The seasonal changes in my city are not dramatic. Ever the odd child, Vancouver has mild winters compared to the rest of Canada, and our summers are much cooler.

IMG_0037But still I get to enjoy the changing seasons. I get to see new life in spring, the warmth of summer, the colours of fall, and the coziness of winter.

And right now I eagerly step into summer. One that I hope will be filled with days at the beach, in the forests, and out in the sun.

What do you love most about summer?

Take Me Away

There’s an old train track that spans much of my neighbourhood. It’s in the middle of being taken apart, which is good because it means much-needed infrastructure is going to replace it.

Christine Fichtner train tracks

On the other hand, there was something nice about the old, overgrown tracks. Walking along the wild, untamed plants and exposed metal. They will be missed.

Wonderfully West Coast

Staying home sick means time to browse through photos. In this case, some photos of me and my fiancé, taken by the incredibly talented Kelly at Lensandlash.com. Her photography is amazing and her posts are inspiring and if you have the time, you should take a peek at her blog!

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So recently she took some photos of me and Ryan, and they turned out beautifully. In a very West Coast fashion, we went to the beach. It was cloudy, but it didn’t matter. The sand, the driftwood logs, the mountains in the background… all of it added up to a huge reason we love where we live.

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There was something perfect about the day. A quintessentially Vancouver spring day with overcast skies and a cool breeze. It was cozy and familiar.

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It also meant I didn’t have to squint with the sun shining in my eyes.

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All in all we had a blast. And can’t thank Kelly enough for all of the photos.

The Green

There’s one thing that I always notice and miss when I’m away from home: the green. I am incredibly lucky to be living in a place that has so much nature everywhere.

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A small haven in the middle of the city

Even just a short walk from my apartment, I find myself in a little bit of heaven. A small retreat that’s there whenever you want it.

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I’ve seen adults gathered around having picnics. I’ve seen kids playing. I’ve seen people watching as their dogs romp around in the grass. And I’ve stood in the welcoming embrace of the green.

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It may not be blooming all year, but even in the winter, the plants wait for their chance to shine.

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And it amazes me how the plants adapt to whatever structures they encounter. How it has grown so strong around the metal building. How it now depends upon it for support, just as the building depends upon the plants for its life.

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I love the life in this city. The one that breathes from the roots all the way to the leaves.

Spring Style: Patterned Jeans

I love lighter colours in the spring. Softer, gentler ones that breathe life into a calmer winter wardrobe.

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Canadian graffiti.

These are my absolute favourite jeans. They’re soft in colour, but have the most wonderful paint-swirled pattern. Some of the most unique jeans I’ve found yet.

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Rich & Skinny Jeans

Paired with a simple, loose white shirt from h&m, a cute acorn necklace, and a vintage leather bag.

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And since I’m a fan of comfort, Birkenstock sandals to finish up the ensemble.

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It can be paired with almost any purse.

What’s your favourite spring colour or style?

Quick Sketches: A Little Bit of Therapy

I love quick sketches. Normally I do them when I find an image of something I find beautiful, but sometimes I do it as a creative warm-up.

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Not even a proper sketching pencil.

The best part is that I put no pressure on myself to make it perfect. Unlike the cards that I paint, I don’t care how these sketches turn out.

It becomes therapeutic, and it gets those creative juices flowing.

Anyone can do it with paper and a pencil. Even if no one else ever sees it, it’s good for the soul.

Do you have any small, therapeutic exercises? I would love to hear how you all take some time for yourselves in this busy world.

Hallway Decor a la Prague

One thing I loved about Prague was the architecture and design. Everywhere I looked, there was something beautiful to see.

There was one tea house that I went to many times. It was quiet amidst a bustling city. With delicious tea and books spread throughout.

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A colourful assortment

And the back hallway leading to the bathroom was decorated in the most wonderful way. Light streaming, and an eclectic assortment of decorations and plants. Everything placed seemingly haphazardly, and yet it all fit so well together.

This is also one of the reasons I love white walls. They make colours pop, and they practically glow in the sunlight. This hallway has been a huge inspiration for my decorating.

 

Transforming a Space

 

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Strawberry planter not used for strawberries.

It’s quite amazing what a bit of green can do for a space. It’s a colour that calms, and yet rejuvenates. I love having plants around the apartment, bringing life to squared, static walls.

We have a small balcony. There is space for a small table and two chairs. It’s enclosed by walls, though there is no roof. It’s grey. Or rather, it was grey.

My fiancé and I love spending time outside. And summers in Vancouver are absolute perfection. There are gorgeous trees outside our apartment that are wonderfully green all spring and summer. But our balcony was rather lacking. We wanted to sit outside, but the space was rather dreary. We decided that our next home project was to transform our balcony into a cozy, warm space.

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Is it weird that I find the trowel really cute?

We started with plants. Green, and pops of colour. We don’t have space for many, but already the change is notable.

We also bought a cheerful blue outdoor rug, and lights to string above. Lanterns will certainly make an appearance as well.

It’s a work in progress, of course. There is much to be done, and I don’t have a green thumb and am definitely learning a lot about gardening as we go. Any tips and tricks that you may have are well appreciated!

I will be posting updates on the transformation of a plain and grey space to one full of life and light.

It’s Kitten Time

My fiancé and I got a kitten! We’ve always wanted a black cat. They’re like fuzzballs with eyes.

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This is Jerry! Also toe beans.

Ryan has had pets before, but this is my first one. My mom is quite allergic to both cats and dogs, so we couldn’t get one when I was younger. I got fish, but it wasn’t quite the same. So I promised myself that when I grew up and moved out I would get a pet. And here I am! My first Kitten! Who is, even as I type this, batting at my fingers because they’re moving.

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He likes to sit on my shoulder.

Jerry is already very, very loved. Claws and all.

What’s your experience with pets? Your favourite moments? Do’s and Don’ts? I would love to hear from you all!

Madrid Style

Part of what I love about traveling is the way each city has its own style. The architecture unique to each city is, to me, something that really highlights the difference in culture.

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Madrid

There’s something fantastical about buildings that intersect streets. Like icebergs splitting through water.

 

Treasure Hunting

Nature and food. Two treasures that I love.

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Isolated

Lucky for me, I live in a city that has a ton of both. How could I not take advantage of it?

As my first hike of the year, it was probably a good thing that I ended up going on a shorter, easier trail. (I may have huff and puffed anyway…)

My friend Miki called me up and we headed out to Deep Cove to hike up to Quarry Rock. It’s a gorgeous hike, and the view up top is spectacular. It’s a fairly popular hike, and by the time we started to head back, the trail was getting a bit more crowded.

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Feeling accomplished post-hike!

There was not a lot of wildlife to be seen this time around, but seeing a raven hanging out around all the hikers at the top was quite something. It must be quite used to humans, since it did not seem nervous at all despite having at least twenty people  and five dogs sitting or standing around.

Christine Fichtner Quarry Rock

A spectacular view.

There’s something wonderful about being surrounded by trees, secluded, away from the reaches of urban life.

It’s rejuvenating for the body and mind. It’s something that never fails to lift my spirits. The life, the energy, everything about it, I believe, brings out the best in us.

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How could I not?

Of course, after hiking we had to stop by Honey’s for some incredible donuts. The maple donut was well worth the trek across the city.

The weather has been incredible this year, and I plan to take full advantage of it. This means plenty of hikes and time spent outdoors.

I live in a beautiful city full of opportunities to enjoy nature. What about your city? If I were to visit, where would you send me?

 

Mondays Mean

Mondays mean breathing in the new week, stepping into its embrace. No matter how tired, how reluctant.

Mondays are sleepy days for me. And as I sit at my desk, I find myself seeking ways to open my mind creatively.

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Colours to brighten my day.

It normally starts with a quick sketch. Something simple to ease myself into practice.

Then I pick up my paintbrushes, and delve into colours. Bright ones, today.

The sun filters through the leaves outside. The air picks them up, and they murmur. This I mirror with my brush upon the paper.

Mondays can be difficult. But finding enjoyment in splashes of paint is not.

Come, Summer

I can’t wait for the warmer days. The sunny skies with cool breezes. Sandals, skirts, and road trips through the mountains.

Summers in Vancouver are absolute perfection. The winters inspire traveling abroad, but the summers keep me home, wandering my homeland.

I eagerly await the inspiration that summer brings.

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Back when I had short hair!

Comfort is very important when I travel. If I’m going to enjoy myself, I have to be comfortable. Luckily, maxi skirts and loose, flowing tops are in. And for the summer, a jean jacket is the perfect addition to keep any chill away.