25 Days and Pics of the Week 34: Queen’s Hamlet, Bob and James, Snow Cake, Mosaic, Birds of a Feather and Indian Bridal Bouquet

25 days.

That’s what’s left until Christmas Day.

Can you believe that?!

My kids are gearing up. They have started making their Christmas Wish lists, talking about the parties, the food, the holidays. They are eager to practice extra “goodwill” toward others. They are beside themselves waiting for the first really big snowfall. And they are already counting down the days until we head out to pick our perfect family Christmas Tree.

It reminds me of the giddiness of childhood, and I am so grateful for that.  Before I had my kids, I’d kind of lost my holiday season mojo. Somehow, between high school, university, traveling, working…life…somehow, somewhere along the line, slowly but surely, I became a bit of a holiday cynic. Not a full on Grinch mind you. But a cynic. The holiday lights that went up right after Thanksgiving (bear in mind, I live in Canada, so Thanksgiving is in October!), the flashy displays at the chain stores and the sheer commercialism of it all left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Then in the midst of the hitting up all of the obligatory celebrations, in Japan and away from my family on Christmas Day, I met my future husband at a holiday party.

Fast forward to our sweet children being born, and I began to understand again, just why the holidays are such a big deal. It’s because they are FUN. And bring out a lot of joy in people. Especially children. Our bonds and love become stronger and traditions are made and kept. And that makes it all worth it, even if one must navigate 10 pounds of sale flyers stuffed into every newspaper delivered in the month of December.

My daughter has decided this year that she would like to include Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and a plethora of other celebratory decorations and traditions into our own. Kind of explore the lot of  them. My son is on board if it means colouring more stuff and hanging it up :)  And we’re good with that because it all comes down to love and togetherness. To learning we’re really not so different from one another, after all.  Peace and goodwill and all that jazz. (Please, don’t cue the goofy “let’s all get along” music. I’m still not one of those glassy eyed – mushball- pathetic moms).

(OK, yeah, I have kind of  turned into one of those.)

(The horror! The horror!)

(But, darn it, those kids…their big hearts…their sheer and utter goodness, love and light…they just have this other- wordly power! Who could resist it?)

So, I am embracing these next few weeks of holiday hooplah and know that for all of the madness, I will probably enjoy just about every single second of it.

…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

;)

Bring on December!

…and a new POTW.

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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QUEENS HAMLET, BLACK FOREST (GERMANY)

One of my favourite POTW was the little River House (here). I liked it because it was tiny and quaint in a great big world. The Old Mill “Castle” nestled into its surroundings at the Queens Hamlet, Black Forest (Germany) is also quaint in its own very special way. And while the authenticity of this image has been debated, there is certainly no question of its unequivocal charm.

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THERE ONCE WAS A MAN AND A CAT…

There is a sort of mythology that has begun to take shape around street musician, James Bowen and his rescue cat, Bob.

In what has become a well loved book (translated into many languages all over the world), A Street Cat Named Bob recounts how

When James found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet.

Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.

Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.[1]

Impossible to sum things up more touchingly than that, right? Unless, you happen to be lucky enough to have these heartwarming shots of James and Bob traipsing all over the globe…and making friends all along the way.

Around the world in…7 book covers from (l to r) Portugal, Taiwan, UK, USA, Italy, Indonesia & Holland.

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SNOW CAKE

Created by Kate Brown and Yolanda Cerra, Melbourne based, Kiss Me Kate specializes in (you guessed it) cakes, cookies and event planning. Some time back, Z & G featured another shop’s exquisite “Pretty Pink Roses” cake work (in POTW 25.)  And while those gorgeous roses were all about seriously, delicate beauty, this one of a kind snow cake captured my heart because it is whimsical, funny, eye catching, and perfectly simple in a childlike, magical way.

It also reminds this writer of her first attempts on the slopes…and why she’d choose cake to skiing every time.

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MOSAIC

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” 

~Stanley Horowitz

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BIRDS OF A FEATHER…I GOT YOU, BABE

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
  Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
  Babe, I got you babe

I got you to hold my hand
  I got you to understand
  I got you to walk with me
 I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won’t let go
I got you to love me so

I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

Excerpts from Sonny & Cher’s

“I Got You, Babe”

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INDIAN BRIDAL BOUQUET

Extravagance, beauty and expectation.

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Summing up this past week’s Daily Shots…

11/23/2012 – “I have always imagined that paradise is a kind of library…”

11/24/2012 – Rest in Peace, Larry Hagman

11/25/2012 – All Pretty Paths Lead to Spain

11/26/2012 – Floor to ceiling, books, books, books!

11/27/2012 – Elakala Waterfalls

11/28/2012 – Today is a brand new day

11/29/2012 – “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage” (teacup cozy)

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This week’s Oldie But Goodie…

Bee and Flower

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CREDITS

Queen’s Hamlet Old Mill image courtesy of ByDio

James and Bob the Street Cat images courtesy of Bob the Street Cat’s Facebook Page, [1] courtesy of Bob the Streetcat (the book)’s jacket

Snow Cake image courtesy of Kiss Me Kate Cakes, Cookies & Events

Mosaic (Autumn Window) image courtesy of source

Birds of a feather/I Got You, Babe image courtesy of My Amazing Earth

Bridal Bouquet image courtesy of Bridal ‘n’ Bridal

A Call For Talent and Pics of the Week 33: Teacup Kitty, True Love, Fit For the Cheshire, Shimmer, Precious Trifles and Old Church Bell in Autumn

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends and family!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful day full of love, laughter, good grub and warm memories made.

Here in my “editorial offices” (I use the term loosely :P) there is a deep appreciation for art and inspiration. And while I’ve always loved the classic arena that is an art gallery or a profile piece on an artist, mover or shaker that I know, there is a creative outlet I haven’t yet tapped: YOU! Specifically, those among you who are creators yourselves. I have a soft spot for special YouTube musicians. For cool Etsy shops full of handcrafted goodies, and small businesses full of your unique, visionary arts. For crafts, textiles, ceramics, illustrations, photographs, paintings and otherwise extraordinary bits of heart that have come into being for the world to see and love. I’m looking to feature some new Creatives here on Zen and Genki. Maybe you. Or someone you know or admire. Great successes or up and comers, entrepreneurs or starving artists.

I’d like your input: Who do you know that would be a great artsy fart or life changer to highlight on the “pages” of Z and G? If you have a suggestion, please shoot me an email at csannem@gmail.com, with the subject line SUGGESTED FEATURE. Can’t wait to be introduced to some of your favourite talent!

(Keep your eyes peeled – there will also be a call out for new contributors in the not too distant future :))

Wishing you a fantastic weekend!  Here are your POTW.

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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TEACUP KITTEN

If you’ve been a regular Z & G reader, you know I’m more of a dog person. (For proof positive, you can look here. Or here. Or here. Or here….you get the idea.) And if you described a snoozing ball of fluff stuffed into a teacup I wouldn’t look twice. But my cold, dark heart could not resist this little guy. I’m only human, after all.

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TRUE LOVE

“Old couples who are still in love are one of the cutest things out there.”
~Unknown

After being married for 88 years, one might expect a couple to let themselves go. Not Wu Conghan, 101, and wife Wu Sognshi, 103. The two happily posed for a new set of wedding photos and proved they are still one debonair couple, indeed.

Congratulations, you two!

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FIT FOR THE CHESHIRE

As lovely as this previously featured fungi, and brought to you by the nature lovers extraordinaire at Project Noah, this “Amanita Muscaria” is perhaps the most iconic of all fairytale-featured toadstools. Though well loved by Cheshire Cats of the Wonderland variety, the white-spotted crimson mushroom is actually poisonous and psychoactive.

Insert witty psychedelic Alice quip here ;)

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SHIMMER

Delicate. Whimsical. Magic.

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PRECIOUS TRIFLES

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”

~Joseph Addison

In a worn wooden cart, Pakistani children play in a slum just outside of Islamabad.

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OLD CHURCH BELL IN AUTUMN

With the same wondrous palette as POTW 30’s “Reflection”, this old church and bell are nearly swallowed by the rich colour and lush splendour of the season.

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Last week’s Daily Shot roundup:

11/16/2012 – The world is full of magic things…

11/17/2012 – Reading makes me really HAPPY!

11/18/2012 – The Corn Poppy, Kees van Dongen, c. 1919

11/19/2012 – The myth of a rainy night…

11/20/2012 – Life is about using the whole box of crayons

11/21/2012 – Green Tara statue

11/22/2012 – Happy Thanksgiving! Gratitude from Pooh

An Oldie But Goodie…

From Grief to Gratitude: An East African Hot Spring Photo Lights the Way

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CREDITS

Snoopy Happy Thanksgiving image courtesy of source

Paintbrushes image courtesy of source

Teacup Kitten image courtesy of Pinterest

True Love image courtesy of Forever Awezome

Fit For a Chershire (Toadstool) image courtesy of AntónioGinjaGinja via Project Noah

Shimmer image courtesy of Tumblr

Precious Trifles (Children in cart) image courtesy of Muhammed Muheisen via Siasat.pk

Autumn image courtesy of Aida Goldburd via Newer III Color Photo of the Day

Pics of the Week 6: No Words Needed, 334, Lava Cauldron, Don’t Feed The Animals, Frog by a Finger and the Singing Wall

It’s been a long week, folks, and this blogger’s been under the weather. Cold, flu, sinus issues. Fun fun fun. (Yeah, that be sarcasm)

Know what though?  Fridays are fun.  The real kind. In my world, one reason Fridays give me such a kick is this post right here, my Pics of the Week.  I hope you love ‘em!

(Oh, remember that interview I promised? I’ll be posting it on Saturday :))

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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SOMETIMES, NO WORDS ARE NEEDED

Llama and man

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334

(NEWSPAPERS, THAT IS)

Oscar Lhermitte’s cool reading bench was inspired by the concept of re-using all of the free newspapers he got on the street. It took him 334 of them (hence the title of his piece), folded and stacked next to one another and worked over 3 parallel bars of metal to make the bench that can support several people.  The bench was also constructed without using any soldering, glue or screws. Total cost: under $10…and a lot of soap to wash the newsprint off his fingers.

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BUBBLE, BUBBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE…

Lava Cauldron, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Nyiragongo crater (an active volcano). While the boiling lava is breathtaking, it’s activity threatens two million people in the Congo.

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PLEASE, DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS

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IT’S A LONG WAY DOWN…

Baby frog hangs onto a tulip bud

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A WALL THAT SINGS IN THE RAIN

With it’s various tubes, acoustically laid out chimes, and metal funnels, this wall makes music when the heavens open up

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No words are needed, Llama and his man image courtesy of CNN.com

334 (Newspaper Reading Bench) image courtesy of Xavier Renauld, designed by Oscar Lhermitte

Please be safe image courtesy of unknown (multiple zoos use this sign)

Just keep hangin’ on image courtesy of HACKETTSMC

Lava Cauldron image by Carsten Peter, for National Geographic.

Rain Music Wall image courtesy of designer-daily.com

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The Sweetest Day: Maple Sugar Bush Hike at The Jack Smythe Field Centre (with photo album)

March Break has long come and gone, and now that we’ve had a while to get back into our groove and sift through the photos of the kids’ annual Spring reprieve, it’s official: The sweetest day was our Maple Sugar Bush Hike at the Jack Smythe Field Centre. Yep, we hit up the tried and true traditional, Canadian sugar shack and it was grand!

Français : « Une érablière » par Allan Edson, ...

"Sugar Shack" by Allan Edson (1872)

“Sugar shacking” is a well worn Canadian tradition, but I’ve only ever been during the winter months. I wasn’t sure what to expect as we drove up and down the huge hills to get there. The weather had been wonky for a few weeks (huge ups and downs in temperature) which left all of Spring’s new greenery and flowers in my area frostbitten, dead, half bloomed, or just plain pathetic looking (some of you may recall my Magnolia lament ;)).  I worried that the maple bush would be brown and withered, that the promised “friendly chickadees” would be holed up in their nests, and the kids woefully disappointed with the whole thing. I didn’t want their first maple sugar bush experience to stink – they’re half Canadian for goodness sake!

As you’ll see, however, Mother Nature pulled out all the stops and gave us a truly splendid day. I put up a teaser a while back promising this post would include “a sugar shack, mammoth teepee and some funkaliciously weird mossy rocks”.  Well, read on! Funkalicious – and delicious! – are right around the corner…

(Just a few of my favourite shots below, followed by the full slideshow/thumbnails with lots of additional pics!  Captions on my photos should tell the story :))

Arriving!

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No idea what kind of trees these are but the buds were remarkable

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Bud on tree

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Ava, Ben and Daddy entering the trail

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Spring was beginning to paint the place with some new life and colour...trees were beginning to green-up again

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Looking into the wood

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Tree that had recently been felled

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Mock up "person" with two cans for hands. The cans held bird seed that the kids could put in their hands and raise up in hopes of a chickadee landing, in palm, to eat. (I thought the scarf was a nice touch) We saw many chickadees, but none seemed hungry.

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Our first encounter with trees that had been tapped and were set up with buckets to catch the sap. It takes 40(!) of these buckets full of sap to make 1 small, glass bottle of maple syrup!

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Clear drop of sap about to fall into the collection bucket

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Finally, we made it to the back of the Sugar Shack! (Yes, that really is moss on the roof)

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Syrup is released through the tap and into a cheesecloth-type bag lined bucket. The cheesecloth removed any leftover impurities (or tree "stuff") from the syrup.

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After the presentation on how maple syrup is made, we were given popsicle sticks to dip into the fresh maple syrup....DELICIOUS! (Unfortunately, we were all too busy tasting to get a good shot of our "oh yummy!" expressions. With the exception of some syrup in the hair, all parties were impressed with the flavour :)

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The most funky moss rock we saw. At least 3 different kids of moss (completely different texture and shape!) all growing in different directions on the same rock. Each one of them even felt unique!

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The teepee is actually much larger than it would have been when the Aboriginal people lived in them (my husband, pictured, is just over 6"2 to give you an idea of it's size). It's been made this big so that visitors to Jack Smythe can enter and see a demonstration inside

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Looking down: More moss, foliage and leaves...at my feet.

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Looking up...trees and light

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Moss growing up tree trunk

The full slideshow is here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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To enlarge any thumbnail, click on image

All that sweet, mapley goodness got us in the mood for waffles and pancakes! Fortunately, I was able to find an absolutely wonderful recipe for egg free pancakes that my kids could eat (See my Eggless, Vegan Pancakes post).  As you can imagine, we all ate, breathed and oozed maple for many days after!

Coming home from Jack Smythe, we stopped into Montana’s Cookhouse for my favourite veggie burger…but that’s a story to be saved for another day :)

In the meantime, if you ever have the opportunity to visit the Jack Smythe Field Centre, I’d highly recommend it! It’s located at 14592 Winston Churchill Blvd., Terra Cotta, Ontario  N0B 1H0. Telephone number (905) 877-7771. Rates were $5 per adult and $4 per child 12 years and under.

Which of the pictures did you enjoy best? What did you do on your March/Spring Break? And (most importantly) does anyone know what the heck kind of tree that was with those huge, gorgeous, red buds??

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Things That Make Me Zen and Genki

Wanted to share this precious post :)

Zen and Genki:

Absolutely lovely set of photos and words that were so beautiful, I just had to share with precious you! They are from Sarah’s blog, incitophotography, which never fails to inspire me with stunning images and sentiments.  Each and every shot in this gallery is really special (The dresses! The cutie pie girls! The pup!! Heart melting!…oh wait, that’s me not the post ;))

Click on any of the pics to get Sarah’s full post (and a closer look at these awesome photos:)), then tell me what you think!

The next installment of my Pics of the Week series returns tomorrow.  What do you all think of the For The Art of Play post? Any fav shots? (I’m partial to the ones of the girls with the pooch :))

Originally posted on :

When I first moved to Los Angeles it struck me, what people considered, “beautiful”.   Everyone wanting to take away their own uniqueness, to become some universal sense of “beauty”. Always younger, bigger lips, bigger eyes, bigger breasts, smaller nose, straighter hair, thinner build, but these attributes that didn’t necessarily fit their own body;  like playing Mr. Potato Head for adults.  How odd it seemed, that in a town of dreams (that you’d be the one to stand out in millions of dreamers) you’d want to strip yourself of your unique look, gift, perspective and become someone else, conformed, to fit into a category. What is this really all about? Beauty to me lies in how pure your spirit is, how much you own your journey, who you are, all of it. We judge and fix with age, when we should embrace and become the best version of the potential of…

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