365(366)

Sometimes late is better than never.

I’m here with the final recap of my 365 photo project… which finished, oh you know, a month ago.

Life has been in the way. I wanted to get this recap written and on the blog, but I was not motivated. In the past month I’ve done things like buy a house, move in, begin painting and all sorts of other little things related to home ownership. I’ve worked on finishing up a major component of my graduate program and moving on to the next piece of that (never ending it feels right now) process. So I have many excuses. But perhaps the biggest one has been a lack of wanting to sit, reflect, and write. Those three critical pieces of blog writing have eluded me of late.

But enough on that for now! On to the recap.

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I loved this project.

Not everyday mind you, but when I go through the photos and reflect on the past year of my life… it is amazing to have a photo for everyday of it. Well several photos really, since I always took more than one photo a day. Yes some days trying to take an interesting photo, or remember to take a photo was just a little bit tedious, but in the end I am so glad I have the visuals to go with all my memories, or to even spark memories I’d forgotten. So much happened for me this year, and I had a lot of fun (a few tears, a couple trials…) and to have it marked by a photo project is just icing on the cake. When I started this project, I wrote about how I thought 28 would be a good year, and it really was (self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps?) . I’d done a lot of inner work in the past few yeas, and I feel like in 28 some of it paid off (though to be honest I don`t think the inner work piece of living and growing and changing with time ever goes away).

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In terms of having a year long project, this one was pretty easy. With smartphones we can easily take so many pictures. With apps like Instagram we can make those photos look pretty stellar without purchasing expensive photo editing software. In the past few years I really avoided goals, but this was a nice, easy and different, way for me to start having goals in my life again. In the past my goals would focus so much on health and wellness, (interpreted as healthy eating and exercise) that I’d burnt myself out. That was a familiar way for me to goal set, and a familiar part of life for me to focus on. Returning to my roots (so to speak) has offered me new terrain to consider. Art, writing, non-food and non-fitness related activities are something that used to be so important to me, but took a back burner after high school and the focus on being thin, and “healthy” took over. It has been nice to reconnect to that. But it has also been a reminder that I have been connected to that all along; I began painting during my time on the North Island. I have been writing (journals) since high school. I have never really stopped, but I am focusing on those things again, as an essential part of my being.

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Now that the project is over, I’ve been waffling on what comes next. Earlier in this post I mentioned why I have not written in some time; life is busy. What most amazes me, reflecting back, is how much this project acted as a little anchor in my day, pulling me to reflect on what was happening around me, what had happened, and what I wanted the world see (and I mean this in two ways: out of everything in my day, what was the photo-memory worth highlighting? And as social media was the medium, what did I feel comfortable having just any random person see?). So what’s next? Well I have high hopes to use these photos for something – most likely to make some wall collages in my house. People have also voiced interest in a calendar – not something I can see myself having ready for 2017, but maybe 2018.

I wanted to highlight that while this project was amazing, and I loved it despite the days of crap-what-shall-I-photograph, I did have one negative outcome. This project highlighted, and I would say heightened my mindless use of social media. Now I love social media, I have a blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest… but this year I found myself mindlessly on those apps a lot. And I don’t like it; to feel a small emotional twitch while not really doing anything and to immediately go on my phone, despite having been on it just moments ago is not how I want to respond to life. The feeling of mindlessly consuming media is something I do that has been irking me for sometime. So how i want to handle this moving forward is something I really want to look at, and (hopefully) change. Many people talk about unplugging; either getting away from screens for certain times daily, or weekly or taking long extended breaks. This appeals to me. But so does making sure my use of social media has meaning and purpose (like writing this blog – useful for me, perhaps interesting or useful for others).

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How do I end this post? Honestly, in the end this is project is just a series of photos, over the course of a year. I can now say for certain that nature is my muse, and I love landscape photography. This is also what I love to paint, so it follows me through all my art forms. I have really enjoyed photography as an art medium, and while this year was more of a “quantity over quality” kind of year, as the year progressed I thought more about making sure my pictures were more focused and better quality then I did earlier on in the project (I took a lot of crooked photos early on…).

So, here it is, a month late, and well into my 29th year, but the final recap of a year in photos (366, this was a leap year after all). You can find the other quarterly recaps here, here, and here. If you follow me on Instagram I hope you enjoyed what you saw. I hope if you are doing a similar project you will let me know. And may this year be just as good as last year.

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273.75 (and a little bit more)

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Well here it is, the final quarter of my 365 photo project. I’ve recapped the first two quarters, and now I’ll recap and reflect on the third as I move ever closer to the end (and my 29th birthday).

I am not going to lie: taking a photo a day is getting a bit old now. While it mostly feels like a habit (what will I do when I no longer need to consider what to photograph in my day?!), it is also a tedious habit.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love that I am noticing and paying attention to what is going on in my day. I love finding bits of beauty in the every day, but there is still the occasional evening where it’s 10pm and I’m like crap what am I going to post!? This is often solved by going back to older photos from previous days. So does this make it not count? I made the decision early on that I could use photos from other days, and while I try to not do it very often I’m glad that was a “loophole” I agreed to. Mostly because some days I can’t find the beauty, but I can look back at photos I took even the day before and suddenly like a photo I passed by while going “meh”. This is the amazing thing about reflecting: sometimes we can find beauty where we didn’t see any the day before.

So many of my photos reflect nature, either beautiful views, flowers or just general outdoor scenes. I’ve also realized how much adventure there is in my life. I think I shared when I started this project that I always had a feeling that 28 would be awesome and that I always looked forward to entering the later stages of my twenties, and this year has not disappointed. I can’t say it has necessarily been more adventuresome than other years in my life, but I’ve certainly enjoyed all the adventures a lot, and finding and reflecting on the beautiful parts has left me with more of the happy-moment memories than the sad/bad/that-didn’t-workout-as-planned-moment memories.

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I’ll be honest I worried a lot that friends would be annoyed by the traffic jam of my photos filling up their Facebook feeds, but for the most part people have been really supportive. Friends who don’t comment directly on the photos will often say in person how much they enjoy my photos, which I really appreciate. I don’t know if this is everyone’s default but I often assume that people have mean and judgemental thoughts towards others and their creative projects so I’m always happy when people are  supportive and say nice things. I know writing that out loud sounds terrible, and I honestly don’t know where it comes from because no one has ever actually fulfilled that dark prophecy of human behaviour.

Looking forward (I am now on day 295) I can honestly say I’m very excited for this project to be done. Yet I’m sure it will feel like something is missing once I’m finished. I’ll also be honest and say I feel like I’ve spent far too much time on Instagram and Facebook with this project and I’m sure whatever goal or project I think of following this one will not involve social media in any way, in fact maybe the goal will be to truly start consuming less and spend more time on what really matters (or other things I actually enjoy that don’t involve a screen). At the same time doing this through social media provided a means and frame (ie I must choose one and filter it through Instagram) and has kept me accountable. I’m excited to see what unfolds over the last 70 or so days of my project and my time as a 28-year-old.

June update and links

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June is off to a busy start here.

The upcoming weekend is the first weekend I’ve had zero commitments or plans since April. With all the business, and some life changing occurrences in the past month and a half an easy weekend of no set plans sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Especially because in a little over a week I’ll be starting a 6 day hike of the West Coast Trail so along with usual life pieces I have been slowly preparing for that (again in charge of food stuff). So I’m looking forward to an unscheduled weekend of preparing, relaxing and taking my time. It feels like it’s been a while since that has been my life.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share some links, podcasts and webpages I’ve been browsing the last few weeks.

I shared a little bit about being a budget and with that have been loving this new-to-me website: www.caitflanders.com. A local BC girl (yay!) she talks about her journey out of debt and mindful living. It’s inspiring for me to read about others journeys from being in debt to having much more financial freedom.

I also found through her website some amazing minimalist blogs. I used to find the idea of minimalism intimidating, and didn’t really get the point. Over the last few years though I’ve been drawn to de-cluttering and getting rid of the excess.  I like how many of the minimalism blogs aren’t necessarily about strict rules of how much you can own, but rather a mindset about being intentional about what you own – and how you live. This rings true to me. So with that in mind I really enjoyed browsing this minimalist site: http://www.simplyfiercely.com/

Along the lines of intentional buying, one reason I’m trying to buy from second hand stores as much as possible is the disillusionment I’ve had with big retail. I like to think I try to make ethical and critically thoughtful decisions about where I buy and why – but it is very hard to find out about the ethical practices of your favourite stores. So I really liked this link my mom sent me: http://getledbetter.com. It’s great if one of your concerns is the gender division of the leadership of companies. We all know that many corporations, from where we get our clothes to who runs our television media, are often majorly run by men, but this site can help you decide to support organizations that have more equal gender distributions on their boards or in their executive line… so you can now feel a whole lot better about shopping at H&M.

Lastly I’m loving all sorts of podcasts lately. As I’ve made a journey away from dieting I found more and more websites dedicated to anti-diet culture, as well as fat acceptance and even fat activism. I’m loving all things Virgie Tovar right now. You can find her on multiple podcasts. And in multiple writing spheres. I love her voice, her style and her message.

I also really enjoyed this podcast featuring two fellow health at every size RDs Glenys O and Aaron Flores (their sites here and here) and Vivienne McMaster who runs a body loving/acceptance program called Be Your Own Beloved (another BC girl, squee!). Some great tid-bits and stories from all three.

So my lovely blogosphere peeps I’m away for the next few weeks, but I hope you keep enjoying the world wide web as much as I do every day. Happy reading, facebooking and general life!

WCT training: Juan de Fuca Recap

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This hike was amazing, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it.

To recap what I discussed last week our itinerary was to do two short days then one long day. We had decided to leave off 10km of the trail to fit it into 3 days and it was really a good fit.

What Actually Happened

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Day 1 we changed up our plan a bit. As we came up to our original first campsite plan (Bear Beach, which was 9km from the China Beach start point), we decided to forge ahead. This added 11km to our first day, but also split up the “most difficult” and “difficult” parts of the trail. So not only were we now doing our longest day first, but also covering the toughest terrain as well. Those last 11km were a constant up and down, with little flat ground to really rest and set a good pace. The last 3km were gruelling and a major mental game – at least for me.

Arriving late (about 7:30pm) to Chin beach meant we had just enough energy to set up camp, cook and climb into our sleeping bags. The campsites were so full (rumour was there were 100 people on the beach that night) that we had to set up on the pebbly-stony beach. I think we arrived just in time to get a hot meal in us and keep the hangry moments from making any major fallouts occur.

Day 2 was then shorter – a mere 8km to the beautiful Sombrio Beach. We arrived at around 1:30pm so had a relaxing time setting up camp, building a fire and napping in the sun which appeared later that day. I even took a dip in the freezing cold ocean which felt amazing and allowed me to brush my hair. It was really nice to have those hours to rest and relax after a total of 28km hiked with 30+ lbs packs over two days. I can say that on day 3 I noticed a difference in my legs compared to day 2 – rest really does help.

Day 3 the final day. We had 9km to go to our parked car at Parkinson’s Creek. This portion of the hike was fairly moderate but included lots of stairs and mud. In a way we were quite focused this day – with the end in sight it was hard to really sit and take our time.

Food

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The meals I planned and snacks we ate instead of sit down lunches faired really well. We ate through most of our snacks so we know we had a good amount to last us the three days. I don’t think any of us went hungry after breakfasts or dinner and everyone enjoyed the meals and felt satisfied. I know I’ll repeat both the meals, and prepare three more for the West Coast Trail. The great thing about the WCT is that there are a couple canteens set up at two of the areas – so we will be able to enjoy a couple lunches along the way.

Overall

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This hike was spectacular. The views were stunning, the trail rugged but not too rough, and even with the tough bits I enjoyed almost every minute. We had great weather – it rained a little during early mornings, but never down poured and even when the sun came out things remained fairly cool which is great for hiking.

The hardest part was our decision to change up our game plan. While I was happy to get the longest day, and toughest terrain, out of the way that first day, it is never easy to make a choice to change a plan. I personally take a lot of mental satisfaction from getting hard stuff over with first, and having easier stuff to look forward to – but I also do get attached to plans and don’t love changes!

I would without a doubt do this hike again – and would love to do the entire thing adding in a fourth day unless I really wanted to push myself. It’s also great because I now know the hike better, and doing it again would be less stress and just more enjoyable.

After doing this hike I am more than excited for the West Coast Trail, and I honestly cannot believe I’ve been intimidated by the idea of overnight backpacking enough to stay away from it since my teen years. I really enjoyed myself and hope I can do a few more trips over the next few years!

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Tonight I sat down and read the post I wrote three months ago, where I discussed what it was like to be one quarter of the way through my 365 Day Photo Challenge. At that point the challenge was going well, I was still exploring, still taking lots and lots of photos and really enjoying the effort it took daily to find pictures and post them.

So how is it going now that I am half way through this project?

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I’ve surprised myself by keeping to the project very well. This is an accomplishment for me because in the past few years I’ve had a bad case of the start-with-no-finishing habit when it comes to projects and goals. I think I’ve had maybe one day where I forgot to post – and even that was a case of having it all set to go then getting distracted and forgetting to hit “upload”. Overall though I haven’t felt as focused on this. I do not set out to find pictures daily in quite the same way I did before. My daily lunch time walks have waned in recent weeks (being instead replaced by a slight thrift store shopping addiction I’m trying to clamp down on) so i haven’t collected photos in that way. But my weekend adventuring has increased, particularly as training for the West Coast Trail has increased. This has resulted in nearly every weekend providing me with fresh scenes, new trails, trees, skies and seas to photograph. I cannot believe how much I love this place i call home.

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I think many photographers and artists like to use similar subjects or mediums, and mine would be nature (ok and Marina but can you blame me? She is just the cutest thing!). After 182.5 (ok 183, and actually at this point I’m nearing 200) photos however I am feeling a little on the repetitive side. While this is normal, and I think even reflects how repetitive every day life can be, doing the project through social media does make me want to change it up more, find more challenging subjects to photograph or even focus my daily photos on something specific.

I’ve also noticed myself using excuses such as “flash back Friday” or “throw back Thursday” more often to showcase photos from my weekend adventures. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I do sometimes feel like a cop-out when I resort to this rather than challenging myself to take a photo representing a highlight (or simply a normal boring piece) of my day. Yet, when I consider the greater circumstances going on in my life right now, I have to say things are wildly more busy in the past couple months than they ever were in the first quarter bit of my project. Now this is good, because for the last few years I felt seriously under stimulated, but it also means my focus has been off on a lot of things (hello delayed literature review for my graduate program!). So the lack in daily photo focus could simply be a window of time into what is going on now in my life.

Reflecting on this half way point, I think I can say that I’d like to recommit myself to the second half of this journey. To remember daily photos, to be mindful of what is happening in my day and post accordingly. And not be shy about it… so what if someone thinks selfies are silly or that my life might not be one high crazy adventure after another? Or that it’s too adventurous or whatever criticism someone might have. Everything is a risk in the realm of the creative – especially when we do it on the web so openly. Especially when those creative endeavours are us putting our ideas, our lives, our lived experiences and our truth out there. And I for one always feel better when I accept the challenge of being more vulnerable and honest about who I am than when I hide and go with the safe choice.

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PS I post original photos on the post that then became project photos. Mostly because while I’m a week bit tech savvy I cannot figure out instagram > my blog transfer… oh well, one day!

Spring

I know it’s only March, but when it’s 17 degrees out and you can be out in a tank top and leggings, it doesn’t feel like spring, it feels like summer.

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But I feel it’s fair to say that Spring has sprung in the Cowichan Valley.

Still today is the last day of March, so it is the final day of Nutrition Month. I had great ambitions to get a post out every week this month, and nearly succeeded until a case of strep throat took me out last week.

So instead of continuing the nutrition month posts I thought I’d jump in with a little bit of a more personal update on life.

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I have officially been in my new home for seven months, and boy do I love it. I’m not going to lie December and January were tough months – I always find them difficult being single and new to somewhere – but things have settled a lot in the last couple months and things are looking brighter than ever. I’m even more excited for summer in my new home, I think it will be fantastic.

Things that have been keeping me busy and upbeat?

Roller Derby – I have wanted to try this sport ever since I saw the movie Whip It (which like all movies is not entirely accurate – at least not for the type of roller derby we play here). At one point when I lived up in Port McNeill someone was trying to start a team in Alert Bay – but the extra ferry ride deterred me from joining. But I found out about a team here in the Cowichan Valley through a friend of a friend and boy am I glad I did. Since I have good skating skills from years of speed skating it was fairly easy for me to pick up (though I still need to get a hang on rules and some of the finer skills), but people of all skill levels join. And my team is pretty awesome, I’m just saying.

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Ultimate Frisbee. My other favourite sport, I missed it so much living on the north island and having it back in my life again is so so great. I’ve never been a team sport person. Despite playing soccer for years I never really liked it at all, and for most of my youth I did not see the point of team sports. I liked independent sports where you wouldn’t be letting anyone else down with your terrible lack of skills. Then I tried Ultimate Frisbee and fell in love. How can you not feel cool when you learn how to really throw a disc? Isn’t that one of those childhood dreams we all had? Like flying a kite or being able to whistle?

My graduate program. I am still plugging away at this thing, it’s going to take me a few years. I had a tight timeline I wanted to follow so that I’d finish the program around my 30th birthday but I’m not sure that is going to happen. Talking to my friends who have done master programs or graduate degrees it’s pretty normal for everything to take longer then you first thought it would. I still love this program. And I’m still so excited that I decided to go back to school.

West Coast trail. In January two friends and I decided to register for the west coast trail. Despite signing up the DAY AFTER it opened for registering we didn’t get our first choice of dates. Still we’re going at the end of June so (knock on wood) we are expecting some good weather. I’ve been put in charge of meal planning (ok I volunteered. But I couldn’t pass up a chance to try some meal dehydrating!!! Just sounded too fun to pass up) and so far it’s been pretty great. Meals are looking pretty delicious too: lentil Dahl with rice, Thai peanut noodles, mushroom stroganoff… yum! As for the idea of hiking for 6 days with roughly 50 lbs of stuff on my back? Can’t say I feel totally ready for that just yet, but hopefully I will by the time the hike gets here.

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Other than that my life is pretty normal for a late twenties single gal. Evenings out with friends, dates dates and more dates (so it seems sometimes). Or sometimes just recovering from random cases of strep throat. Either way life just seems to be flying by, and I’m excited for what will probably be a fun, busy (and hot!) summer.

Where I’ve Been

Wow it’s been awhile, but boy has life been busy. There have been a lot of changes in my life in the past few months, and I’ve only just started to feel settled into all the new things going on for me.

So what has happened?

I went and started my graduate program at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS.

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Where I also went around Cape Breton and explored the Cabot Trail.

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Then I got a new job.

Then I moved for that job.

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And just got busy with all sorts of things.

Attending a friend’s wedding.

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Tyring (and loving) Roller Derby.

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And so much more… Life has just kinda swept me along.

But the urge to write some of the stories I’ve come across lately is strong. There is a lot I’d like to talk about, put out in the world and open up for discussion.

So I’m back. I have some things to say. Some posts to write.

I’ll see you all again soon.

NEVER SAY NEVER

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I’ve always been a bit stubborn. And maybe even a bit opinionated. Especially about myself. I think I know myself sooooo well, and (like everyone, I think) I make statements about who I am, and what I will do with my life.

Take high school for example, I did not take any sciences in my later years of that institution. I focused on writing, literature and art, and said no way to sciences, because I would never need that stuff in my future academic career. I was never going into sciences, obviously.

I was going to be a writer after all.

Then after one year of creative writing I realized something; starving writer was not for me. And well, maybe that side hobby interest in food and nutrition could be something more… cue taking all those pesky high school sciences and math classes and basically turning a four year degree into seven years.

During my undergraduate degree I saw fellow students getting to know professors, reaching out and networking (hello future academic reference), because they considered graduate school a possibility in their future. For so many people the possibility of graduate school seemed to be the top of their list. And any time the conversation steered towards those graduate school talks, I adamantly dug my feet in saying, “I am never going to graduate school.” I would declare that I hated school and was done with it as soon as I was, well, done.

And yet….

Almost as soon as my degree finished I found myself looking at graduate school programs. At first I just told myself it was a phase, I was after all looking for jobs too, just scouting possibilities of what I could be doing with my life.

And yet…

As time went on, and looking at graduate programs turned into applying to graduate programs, I had to admit that I was once again going to have to eat my words… As long as I was accepted into a program.

Which I was.

And the best part is?

I’m excited about it, and not all that bothered to be contradicting my past self’s adamant opinions. I do believe, I suppose I must, that we do change, and sometimes we change our minds and our choices.

And that’s just life.

1/4 Down, 3/4 more to go

I’ve been in a very introspective headspace lately.

I can’t say it’s out of the norm for me, I’m a pretty introspective lady, but it’s mostly that for the past week or so I’ve found it hard to get out of thinking/contemplating/daydreaming.

Stuck in the swirl of thoughts is, of course, what I want to write about on here. I haven’t created any new recipes lately, nor have I really had the time to cook anything worth photographing and sharing with everyone. I was browsing through my previous posts and saw my 2015 post.

Action was my theme for the year.

A quarter of the way through the year that still holds very true. I can honestly say that in some aspects of my life goals I’ve started to really become a lot more pro-active. I never thought of myself of a passive person, but there have been some parts of my life where I just assumed things would happen. But sometimes you do have to give a little bit to get a little bit.

But perhaps I should have had a second theme, and that theme should have been patience. I’m pretty patient, I think, for a twenty-something lady who is part of the immediate gratification generation. Still I find myself feeling a bit like, why is it taking so long? Around some of the things I’d like to “achieve”. But I suppose life and taking-action is like that; hurry up and wait.

We live in a world where we think we have control of everything. This is a huge problem when we look at stigma and bias in places like health care; we are convinced people have caused their own destinies in terms of their health all the time. Of course from a greater point of view, studies have shown that many health issues are more related to social determinants of health (ie things you have utterly no control over) then they do personal responsibility.

But it’s hard to fight the idea that we bring everything upon ourselves and if we just. Try. Harder. We will get. All. The. Good. Stuff.

And that’s just not the case, sometimes some things are a little out of your control.

I used to get stuck in huge funks when I’d follow my step-by-step plan to achieve x and x goal, only to have the goal (once achieved) backfire in my face. I’ve been avoiding this as much as I can this year. Yes, I have some end points I’d really like to see happen in my life, but I’m trying not to get stuck in waiting for that end point to occur to be happy or content. This goes back to my tendency to live in the future, and not enjoy the present moment.

So as we make our way into the second quarter of the year, I’m trying to focus on that patience piece, on that contentment in the present moment piece and on continuing to take action (or try my hardest).

K.I.S.S

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time or the desire to sit down and write. Actually that’s only a part truth, I’ve had lots of ideas and a desire to write about them, but I’ve been procrastinating quite well.

Today I wanted to talk about food. Food and an acronym I learned sometime in the recent past (don’t ask me when or where from): Keep It Simple (Stupid). K.I.S.S (I know you probably had other ideas of what this post would be about with a title like that, right?

When I was in my younger days and just learning about food and cooking, my motto should have been more is better. If a serving of brownies tasted good, more would be even better! If a recipe needed a spoonful of curry sauce, well two spoonfuls would be even better! Right? (Wrong!) 2015-02-24 17.43.40

But food really is at it’s best if you keep the ingredient list small and simple.

If you keep them as whole as possible, and as recognizable as possible.

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The same goes for when you’re trying to improve your health through food; go simple. What do you like to eat now? Can you cut back portions? Or maybe find a healthier alternative (ie stop deep frying your potatoes, and simply bake them instead). You don’t have to do crazy complicated low-carb-this-is-what-my-caveman-grandma-ate (oh and I-had-to-order-all-the-ingredients-from-Japan)…. That’s not really going to help you out anymore than just small, simple changes.

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And really, as cheesy as it is, Keeping It Simple (Stupid) is really a great one for life too. You don’t need extras on top of extras to be happy or get through or to make your day.

You just need a few really good simple ingredients.

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