Ode to Jeanné (tribute with video)

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Last week, a most inspiring woman, my friend Jeanné Carroll, gained her angel wings. Cancer swept her away from her dear husband, Tim and son, David, and from all the rest of us who have learned to live and love more fully through her example.

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Jeanné was the grooviest hippie chick ever, a true hearted, humble, organic, sparkling soul. She was an unending well of wisdom and fun, vibrancy and compassion. But what I will remember most was her ability to wholly, authentically and absolutely live her oft uttered mantra that, “Joy is unaffected by circumstance”. Even through the unimaginably hard times (and there were so many),  Jeanné was joy.

She is joy.

A symphony of spirit that made me a far better human being. And so, to honour her, here is the “Best Coin Ever Spent”, an Ode to Joy Jeanné.

Love you, J.

xo

If Life’s A Bowl Of Cherries…

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Do you remember that classic Erma Bombeck book? Its full and marvelous title is, If Life’s A Bowl of Cherries – What Am I Doing in the Pits? It’s a great book, and I fondly remember reading it, at the wise old age of eleven, after my mother (and grandmother!) had polished it off.

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I picked it up many years later at a used book sale and took a mosey on through the pages. The sentiments (and humor) still rang true. The catch phrase of that old, yellow book was the first thing I thought of  this past week, when my youngest kiddo, Ben, 6, was diagnosed with full on pneumonia. My mom’s health issues have made it necessary for a “permanent” chest tube to drain the fluid accumulating weekly around her lung; between that (and her immune system being compromised due to a lung tumor), we’ve obviously needed to keep grandma and grandkid apart for the past couple of days (no easy task when you live under the same roof and the two are obviously smitten with one another!)

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So, while I am extremely happy that my mama is feeling quite a bit better than before, and that I have mastered the fine art of chest tube draining/wound dressing changes and that March Break has provided many sweet moments with my family…. the pneumonia, subsequent battles to get my child to take his puffers and antibiotics, and the fact that I haven’t been feeling so hot myself had me indulging in a little self pity and grumbling yesterday.

But self pity’s pretty fickle and (thankfully!) fragile, easily shaken and not nearly as interesting as those things that really deserve our attention: love, laughter and absolute genius gadgets like this one:

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For just over fifteen bucks (USD), this beauty of a kitchen appliance you’ll probably only use once in a blue moon can be yours. I had a right good chuckle when I saw this and it felt really good. It could’ve been because it somehow reminded me of my happy days living in Japan, or because someone probably went to grad school (and had to eat an obscene number of cherries) to come up with this epiphany of design brilliance. More likely, though, it was a nice, light reminder that in life, even the pits can make for some fine and funny moments….and I’m always up for those :)

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, CHECK OUT:

Vintage Mondays: We Are Family

Paying it Forward and Pics of the Week 36: Winter Chinese Garden, Unusual Lunch Break, Catch the Wave, Magic Door #11, Release and Outside the Touch of Time

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

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Bowl of Cherries image by Colleen Brown courtesy of Fine Art America

Erma Bombeck book image courtesy of Goodreads

Cherry Chomper image courtesy of Amazon

Vintage Mondays: We Are Family

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

  ~Mother Teresa

Happy Family Day!

Here, in Canada, it’s a holiday! Everything is closed up so we can spend some special time with our loved ones.

Today, we’ve already done a lot of that, with my Grandma (for those unfamiliar, you can meet most wonderful her in this post) and my Aunt. They came by to see the kids, hubs, my Dad and I, but mostly, they came to visit my mom.

Normally, I don’t get into the nitty gritties of my personal life here, but a few weeks ago, I did share what was going on in our world in a post (The “Big C”: Diagnosis…And A Call Out For Help From You). I was overwhelmed (and so was my mother!) by the reaction to the piece. I’ve received many very personal messages (and comments!) of love and support in response to my post and I want to thank you for that. Every well wish, positive thought, prayer and naked dance around the cherry tree (you know who you are) really do make a huge difference.

My mom is still slowly recovering from her surgery. But she is home now and that has been a wonderful opportunity for us to spend lots of quality time together (my family and my parents share a home). We expect her to begin treatment for her lung tumor within the next month or so; it will be a new leg of the journey, surely fraught with challenges of its own, but will also, undoubtedly, continue to bring us closer together. For that, and for the rest of my family, especially on this day, I am most grateful.

In honour of Family Day, I thought these, some of my favourite vintage images, were most fitting :)

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Family c 1928 Bowl Cut Boy Family

Old mom obviously got the short end of the stick, wardrobe wise, in this interesting portrait. But even dapper Dad in his stylin’ bow tie can’t outshine junior and his stellar bowl cut.

Family cc 1928

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Gemma’s Family

When fellow blogger, Gemma reached out to me with this lovely shot, I was tickled pink. Taken in Italy, where both her maternal and paternal family are from, I was even more delighted when she shared more of her family’s story:

“Here is a photo of my mom (with white hat out front) approximately 1925, with 6 of her 7 siblings. My aunt, the 8th sibling wasn’t born at the time of this ‘photo shoot’ ;-).  Her mom and dad are in their 30′s. Things sure are different today, aren’t they?

My mom is 90 now. She is the sole survivor.

My mom is an inspiration.  Growing up in Italy during the Second World War was tough enough. But moving to America not knowing the language, learning a trade – she was a seamstress in a horrible sweatshop – and living through many other personal trials has taught me some life lessons.”

Cheers to you and your beautiful family, Gemma!

gemma

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Homeschooled Family Portrait

While each of the children in this shot have their own “distinct” style and expression (the look of horror on the poor babe’s face is priceless!) what really caught my attention was the faux “room” on the left side…special effects at their Edwardian finest!

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Family of Four

Charming image, and one of the few I’ve come across where the mother is smiling. 

…Now about those hair do’s….

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Mama, this way…

This fashionable mother-daughter duo have the looks, the duds, the wheels…and something going on just off camera that’s got the little one very interested.

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST CHECK OUT THESE Z & G GOODIES:

So, You Were Expecting A Pics Of The Week Post…..

Pics of the Week 14: Cookie Truth, Dog Poop, Elephant Faceplant, Garden Monkies, Dapper Desk and a Living Wall

Pics of the Week 21: Peacock and Tango, Up, Up and Away 2 Ways, Fred’s Bus, Happy Blue Milk Frog and Master Spirit

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Bowl Cut Boy image courtesy of source

Gemma’s family image courtesy of Gemma at First and Fabulous

Homeschooled Family image courtesy of HomeschoolMosaics.com

Family of four image courtesy of DeviantArt

Mama, this way image courtesy of spicorder-stock

Remembrance and Pics of the Week 31: A New Beginning, Bridges Grown, Creature Cups, Dainty Flower, Magic Carpet and Belle of the Ball(oon)

How goes it, friend?

Here in Canada, Remembrance Day is just around the corner.

The poppies have begun gracing lapels. The TV spots featuring grainy, stirring battle footage, modern day granite memorial walls and stoic, wrinkled veterans are running. The kids are practicing their tribute songs for school and getting ready to recite In Flanders Fields.

I love that poem. Know it by heart, have said it, listened to it, read it, felt it thousands of times. It never gets old or less meaningful, rather, as my kids get older and I watch their lives unfolding, all of the sacrifices that have assured our rights and freedoms become weightier.

For those Canadian veterans or peacekeepers currently serving abroad, thank you. And to those loved and lost, we remember.

Always.

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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A NEW BEGINNING, A BIT OF MAGIC

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.”

-J. B. Priestly

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BRIDGES GROWN

Who says a bridge must be built? In the rainforests of Meghalaya (India), the locals have a developed a most unusual and longstanding symbiosis with the majestic Ficus Elastic (rubber tree): they grow bridges, together.

For over 500 years people have used hollowed out tree trunks as root guidance systems, manually steering the vines and roots of the rubber trees across rivers. At the opposite bank, the roots are allowed to take firm root. With some of the larger living bridges taking over fifteen years to complete, they are among the  strongest, most organic means of “human”construction on Earth.  With a complex, and ever strengthening root system, the Meghalaya bridges grow stronger over time, unlike their processed wooden counterparts. Unbelievably, some bridges, well over 100 feet long, easily support fifty people at a time. 

Ancient solution: The 'double decker' living tree root bridge in the village of Nongriat in Meghalaya, India. Locals have been using the bridges for over 500 years

Nature's incredible engineering: Some of the bridges can hold more than 50 people at a time. Some can take ten to fifteen years before they are fully functional

Interwoven: A close up of the solid lattice work that makes the bridges so strong. The natural bridges are much sturdier than a conventional wooden bridge because they are still living so they do not rot

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CREATURE COMFORTS CUPS

Need an extra eye-opener in the morning with your cuppa Joe? Try one of these startling designs by Creature Cups. Lobster, otter, octopus or alligator – take your pick for $14.99 (or $49.99 for the whole marvelous set). No word on how difficult it is to wash under those tentacles :)

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DAINTY FLOWER

“Ah, ’tis but a dainty flower I bring to you”

“Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005, film)

When one visits, Cornwall – A Photographic Journey, there are always visual delights to be had. These particular treats caught my attention; a perfect blend of tiny, delicate beauty and intricate, assured direction.

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MAGIC CARPET

“A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way”

~Caroline Gordon

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BELLE OF THE BALL(OON)

Stunning, whimsical and somehow reminiscent of cotton candy, this surreal scene is a joy.  And while we think the cactus pump would certainly “spice the party up”, it’s easy to imagine a glass slipper under all that material. (Love the model’s unusual up-do? You may like the hair art sculpture featured on Z & G Dark, here :))

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Did you miss any Daily Shots last week?

11/02/2012 – Drink good coffee, read good books

11/03/2012 – Feed me, Seymour

11/04/2012 – Key to the Golden Door

11/05/2012 – Rainbow Parasol

11/06/2012 – I still find each day too short…

11/07/2012 – Goth and Hippie Chicks

11/08/2012 – You never fail until you stop trying

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This week’s Oldie But Goodie…

There’s No Place Like Oz! My Love Affair & The Brand New Trailer for Oz The Great and Powerful (Video)

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CREDITS

Poppies image courtesy of source

Black and white soldier at cross image courtesy of rpsc.

New Beginning (Baby Bird) image courtesy of Precious Things

Bridges Grown images courtesy of The Mail Daily

Creature Cups image courtesy of CreatureCups

Dainty Flower images courtesy of Adrian via Cornwall – A Photographic Journey

Magic Carpet (Book Drawing) image via Christine Ellger

Belle of the Ball(oon) image courtesy of Pinterest

Elmo on Hurricane Sandy & Pics of the Week 30: Mother and Child, Reflections, Nenufar Girl, Breathtaking Booties, Playing With the Big Boys and Pups On A Line

Happy first Friday of November!

This week was a lot of fun.

Now that all the leaves have changed colour, they are falling, by the fluttering bucketfull, 24 hours a day. My youngest went to an overnight Cub Scout camp (freezing rain and all!) We carved pumpkins. I ate (way too many) roasted pumpkin seeds. The kids had a blast trick or treating (also in the freezing rain) and protectively hauling around their massive hoards of candy. I launched Zen and Genki’s companion site, Z & G Dark. I even got a lot of reading squeezed in when the rest of my family was asleep and the house was quiet.

I am grateful.

Even moreso after watching the heartbreaking footage of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. For those of you who have been or are still being affected by the devastation, know you are being hugged tight and with love from afar. Keep your chin up. Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay hopeful.

Probably because I am a mother, I feel most deeply for those children who will be forever emotionally (and perhaps even physically) hit by the events of the past week.  Five years ago, our suburban Illinois home was narrowly missed by a series of tornadoes that left chunks of our neighbourhood smashed and almost unrecognizable. My children were deeply traumatized. They remember, vivdly, watching, mouths agape as our backyard shed was lifted off of its foundation and twisted like aluminum foil in the wind. We remember huddling together for safety in our galvanized pantry and waiting for the awful noise to stop. We remember seeing half of a carwash wrapped around a telephone pole. An apartment building reduced to rubble. We all remember feeling helpless.

My little ones are still terrified when there is a big storm or weather system anywhere, not just where we live.

For those of you with children, Elmo was a guest on NYC radio with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer (and Sesame Street education representative Rosemarie Truglio) to talk candidly about how he was coping with the storm.  You can listen to the interview here. The good folks at PBS have also made available on YouTube, the episode where a hurricane hits Sesame Street. Big Bird is left homeless after his nest is destroyed. I’ve put that episode below should you feel it might help a child you know in some way. I know, for my kids, seeing this after our close calls in Tornado Alley would have had a positive impact. Maybe would have provided a different, useful sort of comfort.

If you’re living abroad and want to help, reach out to the Red Cross in your country. In the U.S., multiple agencies (including the Red Cross, of course) are also accepting donations.

Onto the business at hand, the POTW! I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for the wonderful submissions I’ve received.  What a privilege and a joy it is to open these gems. If you have a great shot of your own (or one that you can source) that you’d like to share, email me with the image, the name of the artist or photographer, as well your website (if you have one you’d like credited). Take a look back at previous POTW installments to get a feel for what Z & G-ers tend to enjoy the most.

Have a great weekend!

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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MOTHER AND CHILD

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”

  ~Marion C. Garretty, “A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul”

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REFLECTIONS

As November begins, I am endlessly awestruck by the sheer abundance of autumnal beauty. Choosing just one of these images was no easy task. Ultimately, this stunner, taken at Lake St. George, was the most enchanting.

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NENUFAR GIRL

Translated, “Waterlily” Girl by Madrid based Art Director and Illustrator Ariana Perez, this distinctly styled piece is a study in exquisite balance. Perez blends traditional imagery and symbolism with modern artistic interpretation. Result: One beautiful, visually arresting piece.

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BREATHTAKING BOOTIES

“There’s really nothing quite so sweet, as tiny, little baby feet”

~Author unknown

These exquisite pearl sprinkled knit booties caught my eye a while back while I researched a possible new series. Upon revisiting the image, however, I was struck by just how delicate and intricately executed they are. Definitely among the tiniest of fine art “masterpieces” ever featured on Z & G. 

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PLAYING WITH THE BIG BOYS NOW…

Boasting that they have offered “the Best, the Only and and the Unexpected for 164 years” Hammacher Schlemmer lives up to their slogan with this, the World’s Largest Scrabble Game.

Handmade by renowned mixed media artist, John Kahn, and one of only nine ever created, this gargatuan play thing is “meticulously constructed from Russian birch plywood”, satin laminate, galvanized steel and felt. Interested? For $12,000, this enlarged classic can be all yours ;)

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PUPS ON A LINE

Maybe it’s because I never got the puppy I wanted as a child. Or that I miss the days of tossing on a pair of old overalls and traipsing around in the woods. Whatever the reason, these three pups on a line stole my heart.  Admit it – your insides just got a little warm and fuzzier.

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Your Daily Shot Recap For Last Week…

10/26/2012 – Work Less, Read More

10/27/2012 – Be Badass, Everyday

10/28/2012 – Odd Tree of Life

10/29/2012 – Darling Little One…With Huge Hat

10/30/2012 – Self forgiveness is essential for self healing

10/31/2012 – Adorable Witch

11/01/2012 – My Wish For You…

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An Oldie But Goodie

Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching….

CREDITS

Boy taking picture image courtesy of Pinterest

You are loved image courtesy of iPhonetoolbox

Mother and child image courtesy of Jadili Africa

Nenufar Girl image courtesy of the artist, Ariana Perez via Behance Studio

Reflections image courtesy of  Bigsister861 @ Webshots via Wonderful Beauty of the World

Breathtaking Booties image courtesy of <3 SWEET <3 LOVE <3

World’s Largest Scrabble Game image courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

Pups on the Line image courtesy of En.EgyGAG.com

A Wee Announcement & Pics of the Week 26: Bad Ass Bowie, Key Horse, Space Unlike Any Other, Between Takes, Words Take Wing and Harvest Time

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canucks! It’s the autumn long-weekend of gratitude and I’m stoked for the spectacular grub and chance to spend time with my precious family. Any other Canadians out there? What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Any great recipes to share? Would love to hear all about ‘em in the comments or via any method on my Contact Me page.

I’m also thankful for you! It’s an anniversary of sorts here – Zen and Genki went public about six months ago. It’s been a wonderful journey and you have been an enormous part of that. Now, as we turn together into this next season of change,  I’ve got a wee announcement: This weekend, I’ll start the ball rolling on a couple of new projects I’m really excited about. We’re talking some Zen and Genki spin offs I am giddy over, a mayjah call out for content and me (finally!) transitioning this site to a self hosted one (the URL won’t change).  There are a few other goodies I’ve got up my sleeve, and everything will take some time, but first things first – It’s Friday, bb’s! And you know what that means!

POTW!

I’ll see you all back here next week, barring any host-transfer hiccups ;P

Happy Thanksgiving and here we grow!

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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BAD ASS BOWIE

I came upon this most awesome oldie-but-goodie of the one and only David Bowie and could not help but to place it front and centre. Ziggy Stardust (one of Bowie’s alter egos for those of you not familiar with the sparkle-puss) was helped along in his unique fashion choices by Kansai Yamamoto, who designed this showstopping (and strangely hypnotic!) number in the 1970′s. 

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FROM A SEA HORSE TO A KEY HORSE

The Seahorse and Portal shot (see POTW 19) remains one of the most well received images shared here on Z & G.  I thought that this “Key Horse” might also push a few buttons.

Babis Panagiotidis’ piece, “Hedonism(y) Trojaner” was fashioned after the legendary Trojan Horse. And while it’s a sculpture that is beautiful to observe, perhaps the most profound aspect of the huge rocking horse is that its resin mold is inlaid with 18,000+ recycled computer keys. Panagiotidis manages to do what some may think impossible: seamlessly marry an ancient, classic Greek myth with an eco-conscious, technologically savvy modern sculpture that any art lover has to admire.

babis panagiotidis, greek, computer keys, hedonism(y) trojaner, trojan horse, computer

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A SPACE UNLIKE ANY OTHER

This eclectic space has a little bit of everything: private, yet open. A bit of stone, some wood and a cascade of greenery. A statue in its own little nook, a fireplace, grand chimney and seating. A perfectly manicured checkerboard surrounded by a quaint sort of “wilderness”. It’s altogether “traditional” and “modern” at the same time – a true space unlike any other.

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BETWEEN “KILL BILL, VOL. 1″ TAKES…SAY “CHEESE”!

Remember that odd Quentin Tarantino blockbuster trilogy, “Kill Bill”? It was a bloody (but amazingly well choreographed!) bit of thematic originality that, while a tad gory for some, was certainly a work of creative artistry in an often clichéed genre. During a candid moment between takes, actresses Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu (whose character has just suffered an unfortunate scalping), share a hug and a smile, making for what must surely be, one of the oddest “say cheese!” moments ever captured on film.  Why here on this particular site? Quite simply because the image is full of art: Tarantino’s vision, 2 great actresses doing their thing, some stellar costume designs and (obviously) a makeup artist’s piece de resistance. Beyond that, it always brings me joy to see artists (and actors) thrilled to bits to be participating in the creation of something new and different.

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WORDS TAKE WING

In POTW 9, Z & G featured a gorgeous Su Blackwell book sculpture, “Alice, A Mad Tea Party”.  When I saw these two butterfly-themed works, also by Ms. Blackwell, I couldn’t decide which I liked more – so here are both exquisite flights of fancy :)

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HARVEST TIME

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

–Mohandas K. Gandhi

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A recap of this past week in Daily Shots…

09/28/2012 – Reading seriously harms idiocy

09/29/2012 – Lilacs and Stones

09/30/2012 – Beautiful Floral Cake

10/01/2012 – Pooch Umbrella

10/02/2012 – Let’s Go On An Adventure

10/03/2012 – Little Lemon Tree (& Spunky Quotes!)

10/04/2012 – Without leaps of imagination…

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Your Oldie But Goodie:

New Series Debut! Art UN: Featuring, The Makerie (Exquisite Paper Sculpture)

CREDITS

Horn of plenty graphic image courtesy of Cover Lay Down

Acorn and leaves graphic image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy, LLC

David Bowie’s jumpsuit image courtesy of They Roared Vintage

Key Horse image courtesy of Inhabitat

A cozy space image courtesy of Old Moss Woman’s Secret Garden

Kill Bill image courtesy of Space Ghost Zombie

Words Take Flight image courtesy of Su Blackwell

Harvest Time image courtesy of ToniVC via photopin

Cherishing the Moment: Another First Week of School’s Come and Gone

It’s official: the first week of school has come and gone for my little ones. It’s a big deal. Always is.

My youngest officially began his journey into full French immersion and my eldest hit grade four with less than a foot to grow before she stands eye to eye with her mama. These things made for an interesting blend of push and pull as we navigated “I’m not wearing that…”, and “do you have to walk with me?” interspersed with the, “I’m so nervous, Mommy…hold my hand” and “Will you leave me notes in my lunch like last year?”.

We are all growing, together, all the time. It’s never more apparent than when a brand new academic year opens up and highlights just how much and how quickly, things (and people!) can change. Kids especially. They are so eager to grow up and stretch their wings, fulfill their potential. Make an impact on the world. Have that world impact them.

Our summer was filled with very unexpected ups and downs that profoundly impacted my children, my family and I. So on that first day back to school, while I proudly, yet wistfully, watched my blossoming daughter stride through those  doors, waved goodbye and blew a kiss to my son, my favourite part was getting a huge hug from them both when I picked them up that afternoon.

How was your day? I asked, expecting wildly happy tales of old friends and new. My sweet girl hugged me tight and said, simply,

It was good. Really good, actually. Big smiles. But I missed you, Mommy. Insert my near-bursting heart here.

And you? to my little guy, What did you do at school today?

I learned lots of French already and played with lots of new things and I liked eating lunch at school. Oh, and my teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grow up.

That’s quite a lot! I exclaimed, genuinely impressed. And what did you say?”

Maybe a police officer. Or a race car driver.  Or something even cooler…like a Jedi warrior, was the very serious response. My heart grows another ten sizes.

No matter how big they feel, how many summers and grades have passed, they will always be my babies.  My love is infinite, my gratitude gushing as I watch them stepping forward in their unique and precious life journeys. Since the moment they were born, their unfurling stories and potential are so humbling. It’s a gift to be privy to moments like the first day of school.

There is little doubt that come next September, my daughter will have a chuckle as I put on an extra high heel to keep, at least the illusion of, a height balance with her. My son won’t fantasize about being a Jedi for too much longer.  But for now, for this first very special moment in time, they both still fit neatly under wing, in fully protected embrace and have wide eyes fixed firmly, uncompromisingly, on every dream they can conjure. It’s a moment I will cherish, always.

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Star Wars Walking to School image courtesy of The Dork Side

Hopeful child with flowers image courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography via photo pin cc

Never Miss An Opportunity image courtesy of Home is Where the Heart Is

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE THESE ZEN & GENKI OFFERINGS:

There’s No Place Like Oz! My Love Affair & The Brand New Trailer for Oz The Great and Powerful (Video)

Pics of the Week 15: Boy and Bull, Dust Bunny(?), Piano Shelf, Kampai!, Accident Porn and Peace, Love and Flowers

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

Quirky Fun Facts and Shiny New Awards

I’m a quirky factoid fanatic.  Never met a “Did You Know?” list that I didn’t stop for. And while I don’t imagine I’ll ever be a Jeopardy contestant (Alex Trebek, call me! No, really), I do keep my favourites on hand to share should the occasion arise. Award posts are just that. It’s such an honour to receive awards from the community you write for, and just as much fun to nominate others for the same accolades, but let’s face it – over time, they can make for some pretty dry reading :P. Enter obscure fact lists.
This particular list has been pulled directly from the lovely peeps at Editography.  The awards that follow – well, those came from all over the place and over the last couple of months (I’m terribly behind on this front, I apologize!) I appreciate every single one, and am thrilled to pass along my own nominations to an equally as diverse group of bloggers.

With much gratitude, and my giddiest fast-fact geek-self , here we go!

Did You Know…

*People with blue eyes see better in dark.

*Money isn’t made out of paper, it is made out of linen and cotton.

*A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it go mad instantly and sting itself to death.

*Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.

*A huge underground river runs underneath the Nile, with six times more water than the river above.

*The USA uses 29% of the world’s petrol and 33% of the world’s electricity.

*Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.

*Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people.

*We exercise at least 30 muscles when we smile.

*When a person dies, hearing is usually the first sense to go.

*There is a great mushroom in Oregon that is 2,400 years old. It covers 3.4 square miles of land and is still growing.

*The reason honey is so easy to digest is that it’s already been digested by a bee.

*It cost 7 million dollars to build the Titanic and 200 million to make a film about it.

*The only part of the body that has no blood supply is the cornea in the eye. It takes in oxygen directly from the air


AWARDS

As with award posts prior, in the interest of keeping things authentic and efficient for both myself and my readers, I’ve combined some of the requirements of each.

Thank you, Shiro51144 for nominating me for the Living Passionately Award. For this award, I’m required to nominate seven other blogs and also reveal something unusual or out of the ordinary that I’ve done today.

Something unusual today: I had an Earl Grey Vanilla tea this morning instead of my usual green tea or black coffee. (If you’re interested, I give it a resounding thumbs down…not a great flavour combo.)

My seven nominees:

this man’s journey, six blocks east of mars, comments from cathy, StephanieLane2012, Yummy Chunklet, no names no pack drill, and the veggie nook. In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that six blocks east of mars is my husband’s corner of the blogosphere, so I’m a wee bit biased :).

A big, grateful hug to Karmic Diva who awarded me the Dedicated Follower Award and Readers Appreciation Award.

I like these awards a lot because they – and their “rules” are simple and genuine in their nature: share them with those bloggers who are you feel are deserving.

For these two awards, I affectionately nominate:

Dedicated Follower Award: Kourtney Heintz’s Journal

Reader’s Appreciation Award: nyparrot

Next up, thanks to you, kindly, Worldly Winds and Boomie Bol for the Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award (hey, I don’t name them)

For this award, I must also nominate a few blogs I’m fond of, then share my answers to the following questions (again, I have nothing to do with the questions asked ;))

1. Describe yourself in seven words.

Mother. Writer. Reader. Runner. Enthusiastic. Art Lover.

2.  What keeps you up at night?

Writing and reading, usually…though the kids do a pretty good job sometimes too.

3. Whom would like you to be?

I’m pretty happy being me

4. What are you wearing now?

Black yoga pants and a Wonder Woman baby tee (shirt)

5. What scares you?

The thought of anything happening to one of my children.

6. What are the best and worst things about blogging?

Best: Building new relationships with a diverse group of people, worldwide.

Worst: Never enough time to get all those posts written and up

7. What was the last website you looked at?

BookRiot.com

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Not be quite so sensitive…I take things too personally, sometimes.

9. Slankets, yes or no?

I’ll say no(?) Am I the only one without any idea what the heck a “slanket” is?

10. Tell us something about the person who nominated you.

Worldly Winds’ real name is Alex. She’s a lovely lady with a true heart and a passion for poetry.

And my nomination for this award (I’m going to stick to one), is Michael Lewis Glover (whose blog is so darn “sparkly” and terrific, you’ll see it mentioned again, later in this post.)

Now, the Blog on Fire Award. Gracias to Silentlyheardonce for the honour.

To be politely accepted, I must share seven random facts about myself and pass the award along to a fellow “hot” blogger. For this, I am most pleased to nominate one of the newer blogs I’ve found, ManoliRizoFotografia.

I’m going to defer the seven random facts about me part since I’ve done that above :)

Finally, from most lovely Amy at The World is A Book, and Magnolia Beginnings I’ve been awarded The Illuminating Blogger Award.

And the protocol, as per usual, is to visit the blog of the person who nominated me to thank them, link their blog in my own awards post, share a random fact about myself and then pass along my own five nominations.

One more random fact about me (since one seems far less excessive than another whole seven): I may sometimes be a literary snob…but that doesn’t deter me from hunkering down to soak up some good horror/suspense or zombie apocalypse entertainment (Walking Dead or American Horror Story, anyone?)  And it’s my great pleasure to nominate: auntyuna, Michael Lewis Glover, greysqrl, Elisa Ruland, fun and fabulousness, and snippets from 3 wishes.

With deep bows of gratitude, love and high fives,

Anne xo

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Drum Roll Please source

Blue eye image source

Bazooka girl image source

Smiling kitten image source

Titanic image source

Gratitude heart image source

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

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GOING GREEN: Tumbleweed Tiny Homes (A Tour of Two Houses)(Video)

Interview (and Video): Artist and Ontario Plein Air Society Founder, Zan Barrage

Pics of the Week 17: High Art Meets Footwear, Like a Fairytale, Weapon of Mass Instruction, Urban Forest, Puppy’s Ball and Violinist Through the Floor

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Why, hello there, Gorgeous!

So, a “funny” thing happened this morning. WordPress froze. I mean really froze. Then my system crashed. And in the process of getting things fixed up and shiny again, this Pics of the Week post was obliterated. The WordPress autosave had also clammed up, you see. So everything G-O-N-E. Kersploosh. Kaboom. Kaput, with a big, fat capital K.

As you might imagine, I was less than impressed. (That’s a polite way of putting it, actually ;))

But, as luck would have it, it was a perfect day to write on until the crack of dawn; I was privy to one of the very best, richest sunrises ever. Right here in the ‘burbs! Gorgeous and peaceful and all that jazz. Better than a hot cup of coffee. It filled me up and gosh, did it feel good! A most satisfying way to begin my favourite blogging day post. Written and compiled (again!) under a spectacular sunrise and with a grateful heart.

Enjoy!

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PICS OF THE WEEK

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(VERY!) HIGH ART MEETS FOOTWEAR

“Sometimes comfort doesn’t matter. When a shoe is freakin’ fabulous, it may be worth a subsequent day of misery. ”

Clinton Kelly

 Here at Z & G, I’ve featured many unique shoes. The most popular, emerald slippers, golden pumps (Pics of the Week 13) and eggplant shoes (Pics of the Week 1) are all sorts of awesome. But fabulous? No way.

For a pair of shoes to qualify as fabulous, one must be able to slip ‘em on, feel like a showstopper and strut their stuff. And while these bad boys may not be for everyone, designer/artist Melanie Seligman’s shoes don’t just turn heads – they also made her a finalist in the renowned Parson’s New School of Design and The Fancy’s “Empowering Imagination” contest.

Ironically, Ms. Seligman’s inspiration for the shoes was her father – an orthopedic surgeon. 

For more on Melanie Seligman’s work (and a video showing the development of these shoes!), click on her credit, below.

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LIKE A FAIRYTALE…

This charming forest cottage in Germany lies somewhere between “Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after”.

Of course, a Prince Charming isn’t necessary when you’ve got a sweet pad like this to go home to.

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WEAPON OF MASS INSTRUCTION

(AKA: THE BOOK TANK)

The traditional bookmobile just got waaayyyy cooler. 

Formerly a 1979 Ford Falcon (owned by the Argentine armed forces), Raul Lemesoff has converted the vintage vehicle into something far more noble: a kick ass literary tank that’s used to distribute free books along the streets of Buenos Aires. 

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HOW “GOING GREEN” IS GOING URBAN:
VERTICAL FOREST IN MILAN

Bosco Verticale (“vertical forest”) is a two-tower, eco-project underway in the bustling heart of Milan. The brainchild of designer and architect Stefano Boeri, the two residential buildings feature staggered, cantilevered, balconies equipped to handle the wide variety of shrubs, flowers and 900(!) large trees that will grow there. If the same diversity of forest greenery were laid out on flat land, it would cover approximately 10,000 square meters.

Normally, I wouldn’t go into the nitty gritties in a POTW post, but the tremendous thought and expected outcome of the project tickles every green bone in my body.  According to the Bosco Verticale’s  site, the buildings themselves are

“a system that optimizes, recuperates and produces energy. [It] aids in the creation of a microclimate and in filtering the dust particles contained in the urban environment. The diversity of the plants and their characteristics produce humidity, absorb CO2 and dust particles, producing oxygen and protect from radiation and acoustic pollution, improving the quality of living spaces and saving energy. Plant irrigation will be produced to great extent through the filtering and reuse of the grey waters produced by the building. Additionally Aeolian and photovoltaic energy systems will contribute, together with the aforementioned microclimate to increase the degree of energetic self sufficiency of the two towers.”

Bottom line: it’s self sustaining, good for the city, great for the residents, and downright nifty to look at.  

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PUPPY AND BALL

Just because it was the cutest thing I’ve seen all week :)

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LET ART (AND MUSIC!) SPRING FORTH!

Between 1982 and 1999, a mysterious artist began leaving unusual art installations all over Amsterdam. Much like America’s elusive Banksy (featured here as a Daily Shot), this sly sculptor, rumored to be a local doctor, used the cover of night to remain anonymous.

One of his/her most striking and poignant pieces, Violinist Bursting Through Floor, turned up in the foyer of the muziektheater in the ‘Stopera’ (City Opera House). It is said to be “an expression of Amsterdam’s vibrant, irrepressible Jewish community…[that] used to be centered in th[e] district before World War II”

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I did get the 2nd of my Book Nooks series post up yesterday (take a peek here if you missed it!), but due to my time “off” it’s been a while since there’s been a Pics of the Week recap of Daily Shots. If you missed any of my chosen images from the past couple of weeks, you can catch up below…I love hearing your thoughts about the Daily Shot – feel free to leave your comments on each DS’s page. 

07/13/2012 – Big, White Hat

07/14/2012 – Umbrella Goggles

07/15/2012 – Rest in Peace, Richard Zanuck

07/16/2012 – Oriveto Cathedral, Italy

07/17/2012 – Ice Canyon, Greenland

07/18/2012 – Reflection on Water

07/19/2012 – Kivotos Club Hotel

07/20/2012 – Peace Dove

07/22/2012 – Candles in Love

07/23/2012 – However Long the Night…

07/24/2012 – Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching

07/25/2012 – Take Every Chance

07/26/2012 – Everything is Alive

07/27/2012 – Myrtos Beach

07/28/2012 – Birthplace of the Olympics

07/29/2012 – Stained Glass

07/30/2012 – Butchart Garden, Canada

07/31/2012 – Be Kind to Yourself

08/01/2012 – Beautiful New Zealand

08/02/2012 – Rainbow Bird Houses

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CREDITS

Grateful heart source

Modern Shoe image courtesy of Melanie Seligman for PPR via The Fancy

German Forest Cottage image courtesy of Blue Pueblo

Weapon of Mass Instruction1 image courtesy of Musgo Dumio_Momio

Weapon of Mass Instruction 2 image courtesy of Raul Lemesoff

Vertical Forest Residential Building in Milan images courtesy of Stefano Boeri

Puppy and Ball image courtesy of Blacklisted

Violinist Bursting From Floor image courtesy of Top 10 Marvels

Inspired and Lovely: 2 New Awards and Fireworks!

It’s time to get inspired, y’all!

It was a long weekend here in Canada (Victoria Day, Monday), and we packed a whole lotta fun into ours. We visited friends and caught up, made many special memories with our family (gardening, book fun, sports, tree climbing and sunshine) and capped it all off with some fireworks on Monday evening.

Benjamin sitting with Grandpa’s big box of fireworks :)

We had our first beach volleyball games of the season (definitely rusty! But always nice to get together with the team and feel sand between the toes!) The hubby and I even squeezed in a date night with some awesome eats (and drinks! ;P).  Everyone was left happy, spent and inspired to seek out and spread more of that same feel-goodness that made the weekend so special.

The little extra time also gave me the opportunity to do some catching up in the Twitterverse, on Facebook and right here in my own favourite place, to say thank you for two shiny, new blog awards!

Thank you very, very much to Lens and Pens by Sally and Walking with Bullu who separately nominated me for the “Very Inspiring Blogger” Award, and Sometimes, I’m Such A Girl who nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” Award. All three of these ladies have beautiful blogs themselves that I highly recommend – check them out!

How freakin’ lucky am I?! Here it was, Queen Victoria’s birthday, and I’m the one who received gifts. In fact, since taking Zen and Genki public a few months back, I have been on the receiving end of such love, inspiration and incredible stories, it’s felt a little like my birthday with every post, comment, email, tweet and follow. The people, organizations, writers, artists, activists and bloggers I have met…well let’s just say, if there was an “Oh So Very Grateful, In Awe and Full Of Love” Award, I would send one out to each of you right now.

Of course, the best part of getting blog awards is that they are to be passed along.  And, as luck would have it, the rules for both of the ones I’ve been given, are the same:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, including links to their blogs

2. Include the award image in your post accepting the award and on your blog

3. Share seven random facts about yourself

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award (and link their blogs)

5. Let those bloggers know they’ve been nominated

I am combining my nominations here, because, truly, each of the blogs I have nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award are also Very Lovely in every way.  Some are serious, others lighthearted and funny – all of them have brought me joy in their own special way, and for that I am pleased to be able to nominate (in no particular order) the following blogs for both honours:

1. Life in Kawagoe

2. ShutterbugSage

3. Rudolf Abraham’s Blog

4. Ingaphotography

5. Hike. Blog. Love.

6. Jayjaysfavorites

7. Grateful Fairy

8. strassenphotojournal

9. Healing Trips: Sensitive Meals Made Easy

10. Bongodogblog

11. The Urge To Wander

12. Moving to NEPA

13. Lemony Shots

14. Truth is Within

15. Anjou

I salute you all! On this, the day after Victoria Day, I light a hundred virtual glittering fireworks in your honour :)

As for 7 random things about me…

1. I’m currently growing my hair for Locks of Love…and almost have the requisite 10 inches of length (any suggestions for short hair cuts are welcome!)

2. I love the smell of lilac bushes in the Spring and Summer months

3. I’m a big fan of Pinterest (if you want to hit me up there, click here)

4. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved (and ate) yellow mustard by the spoonful.

5. My kids make me laugh until my stomach hurts (Actually, there are a lot of things that can make me laugh until my stomach hurts.  What can I say? I love to laugh :D)

6. Give me the choice between sweet and salty and almost always, I’ll opt for salty

7. My favourite pet of all time was a darling grey chinchilla whose name was “Booby”. I kid you not. (Yes, this made bringing him to the vet a tad embarrassing, especially at check in time)

Cheers to you, and have a wondrous and inspired week!

With Peace, Love and Gratitude,

Anne xo

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Fireworks image courtesy of Web Design Hot

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