The beauty of Less Stuff

A new year usually brings some resolutions for most of us.  Aside from the obvious of wanting be more healthy or more active, we also look for ways for our lives to be easier.

We feel the need to organize and declutter our belongings.  We go through items and decide whether we have used them over the course of the last year and then decide if we will use them in the future.  We rationalize the items we want to keep that hold sentimental value or that we hold onto ‘just in case’.  Not that this process isn’t helpful; many of us find it necessary to feel more clear and able to move onto the next year with a clean slate.

The problem is that we make room by getting rid of stuff, only to fill it with more stuff.  It is different stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

So what if we didn’t replace the items with other items?  What would happen to us?  Would we feel like we were lacking something?  or…would we feel like we were freer?

In the past I have tried to stick to the rule of  ‘if I buy something, something else has to go”  If I bought a new sweater (well…used more like), then I would have to give away a sweater I hadn’t worn in a while.  This kept the growth of stuff to a nil.  However, this year I am going to try to learn to live without the replacements as well.  If I get rid of a sweater, there will be no need to get another sweater for example.  The purchases will only be necessity based.

Using this logic, I am assuming, I have mostly what I need (aside from food obviously), so I will check in on occasion and let you know how I am doing with this.  The goal in this little experiment is to acknowledge that we have way more than we need.  The result I hope is that without replacing items I give away or purge from my home, that the temptation or ‘need’ to replace will wain.  With that, less stuff happens.



A Geek’s Guide to Running

The world of a runner is strange to some. We have weird and wonderful quirks that we seem to grow proportionally to how many years we run.

I have been a runner for 28 years. So that tells you just how long the list of quirks are for me.

Recently, I was asked to run a ‘Learn to Run’ clinic. The program is to take 8 weeks and end up with the ‘students’ to go from newbie to be able to run/walk 5 kilometres. I decided to use a run/walk combo as to lessen the occurrence of injuries. Although I don’t use this method myself when running, I still adhere to taking the walk breaks when you need them; I just don’t time them.  Bottom line; if you need a walk break, take one.  There is a danger is taking too long of a walk break or too slow of a break so just make sure you get the feet moving again quickly.

I wanted to put together a few things I have come to realize over the years. Call them tips or rules or 12 useless ideas about running, but the reality is that most of us will just be recreational runners. We are not looking for any record setting PB’s here. We are looking for a way to stay healthy and enjoy an activity that can bring thousands of people together or where you can enjoy your solitude.


Here are my 12 guidelines for the running geek in you:

  1. Just run. I know that sounds so simple, but that is all there is to it. If you feel like running 1 kilometre or 10 or 20, you are still a runner.
  2. A 10 minute mile is the same distance as a 5 minute mile. Ok, I stole that one but I believe it. It isn’t the time (ok sometimes it is, but most of the time it isn’t) that is important. The distance. The distance. The distance.
  3. Watch The Barkley Marathons at least once in your life. I am not even going to go into why, just do it and you’ll figure out why when you watch. Then you’ll probably want to watch it again.
  4. Shoes matter. They do. Sorry but you cannot go cheap here. You can cheap out on all the fancy running gear like fancy jackets, pants and fuel belts, but you can’t cheap out on your shoes. Your joints will thank you 10 years from now.
  5. Yes, you can run in the winter. Sure, there are days that are not conducive to speed, and there may be days that it is not a good idea because of icy conditions, but the cold is not a reason to not get out. Layer up and get outside. Your mind and body will thank you immediately following that run.
  6. Trails are amazing. If you can get into the trails, give them a try. The soft cushion of the trails are great for your joints and not to mention the rolling hills are great for conditioning. Just realize that you will definitely be slower when running in the trails if you are timing yourself.
  7. Take pictures. Ok this may sound weird but I have been able to get some great photos (on my phone) during a run. The sunset. The lake. A flower. Seriously stop and not only smell the roses, but take photos of them too.
  8. If you are out for a run and someone is running towards you who is also out for a run, a simple wave, peace sign, or nod is imperative. If they don’t reciprocate, that’s on them.
  9. Sign up for a race. I know this may seem daunting, especially if you are a beginner, but the experience is worth it. Maybe start by just going to watch a race. Check out the diversity of people that are running. You will be amazed just standing at a finish line of a 10km (or marathon) and see people that are Just Like You. Most people are NOT elite athletes. It is amazing to watch them too but you will never be more inspired than when you watch the mid to back of the pack finishers.
  10. You are not a jogger.  Please don’t let anyone tell you that.  If you are running, you’re a runner.  I honestly have no idea what a jogger is so please don’t use that language with me.
  11. Get a running buddy.  Yes, there are times when the solitude of running is exactly what I need, but my running partner (shout out to Rayanne!) and I have been running for probably 12-15 years and I can honestly say she has kept me going all these years.  We have ran, talked, laughed and raced together.  The friendship of a running partner is unique in that you truly see each other at your best and worst. I am very lucky to have one of the best around.  And NO, you can’t have her.
  12. Finally, the most important thing to remember is if you do a race, never, ever wear the race shirt the day of the race. You earn the shirt once you have completed the race. You can wear a shirt from a previous race, if you finished it. But not until the race is done, the race shirt stays in the kit.

After 28 years of running many kilometres, I may find my legs are moving a little slower these days, the joints hurt a little more when I get up, but the mind still wants to get out and run.  As long as the body is willing to join in, I will be logging the miles.

Minimalism and the Sentimental Mind

While on the evening commute yesterday, I listened to one of the latest podcasts from The Minimalists. If you’re unfamiliar with them, I encourage you to check out their podcasts as well as their documentary, Minimalism, on Netflix. It was their podcast, ‘Clutter’, that inspired me to write about my own experience with one of the aspects that they touched on; what to do with items you inherit or will inherit when you’re trying to minimize your own life.

I have lost both of my parents. My Mother when I was 26 and my Dad 7 years ago, so I am faced with items in my home that were theirs. When my Mom passed away at a young age, I felt the need to have as many items of hers as possible. One thought that kept racing through my mind was “I would be living my life from 26 years old without my Mother”, and I had to have something that was tangible to make me feel like she was there with me. I kept some sweaters, a coat she always wore, a long purple velvet dress I remember her wearing to any fancy event they were going to, a kilt she bought on holiday to Nova Scotia, and some jewelry. My Mom’s jewelry consisted of a couple of broaches, a few pairs of earrings, string of salt water pearls and her wedding rings. These items alone, were manageable, but once my Dad moved out of our family home and into assisted living, the need to possess as many items from my childhood was an unstoppable force. I was grasping. Grasping for something to remain the same in my world that had kids growing up at the speed of light, my Dad getting older to the point of not being able to care for himself, and the empty hole that was there since my Mom passed that I had lived with for so many years. Changes were fast and furious and maybe just having these items around would slow down time.

When my Dad moved out of his home, our home inherited more stuff. We ended up with a wall unit (admittedly I wanted this because my Mom had bought it just before she died), my Grandmother’s china and crystal, silver plated serving dishes, a coffee table, hall table, a few knick knacks, like Dalton figurines, and an old Singer sewing machine (you know the wooden type that fold down to resemble a desk). We also ended up with novels; lots of novels as my parents were avid readers (my Mom was a librarian). I also took a sweater that my Mother had knit my Dad that was way too big for him now and a couple of watercolour paintings that were hanging in his home that she had painted the last few years of her life.

The stuff that we brought (ok, I brought) into our home were carefully rationalized. The lack of time I had with my parents, especially my Mother, had to be filled somehow. She hadn’t seen my kids grow up and arguably my Dad wasn’t really present after she died either, so the day she died marks the day I lost them both to some degree. The idea of having their stuff surrounding me and my family somehow felt comforting and gave me the illusion of them actually being there. Their stuff made it easier for me to talk about them to my kids.

My husband and I had three kids. Our oldest was about 18 months old when I lost my Mom, so all three of them never knew their Grandmother. I wanted them to know her through her things. My Dad was never quite the same after she died. He tried for a few years to be engaged in our lives and his own, but depression and loneliness won out over the desire to go on. We (my siblings and I) tried to keep him interested in our what was going on with ourselves and our kids but his patience for living, or I guess I should say living without my Mother, was too much to deal with. The last few years of his life were probably the most engaged he was during that time in our lives. A short 10-15 minute visit was about all he would allow, but it was met with smiles and inquiring questions that seemed to be genuine. Our kids got to know him as much as he would allow and although they don’t have stereotypical ‘Grandpa’ memories, I think they knew he loved them in his own way.

My Dad has been gone now for 7 years, this year. It also marks the year our oldest child, turns 20. Although, as any parent would tell you, that fact doesn’t necessarily mean you are an empty nester. Our oldest is 26 and I think we can safely say he is on his own (well, living with the love of his life) and happy after a few back and forths. Our middle child is home for the moment while finishing his Masters degree. I am sure he is itching to get out again after living 6 hours away for four years during his undergraduate. Our baby, the near 20 year old, moved out last year for her second year of University with friends and will be doing the student house living probably for the next couple at least. In no way am I complaining that some of them still keep a bed here that they sleep in every now and again. Nor am I upset when they pop in for food or laundry facilities. They really are great kids to have around and have grown into adults that I like to sit down and have a coffee (or a beer) with. But again, as any parent would tell you, the visits will become fewer and further between as time goes on and they grow into a life of their own. Your mind can’t help but to go to a place where you look at your home and think, “Do I really need all this stuff?” The typical ‘downsizing’ predicament. You know that you don’t need that 2000 square foot, 4 bedroom house anymore, but you have this stuff. In order to downsize, some of the stuff must go.

Two years ago we decided to do a basement renovation. Not necessarily for the extra space but for the purpose of putting in another bathroom as we have to renovate our old one and it is the only bathroom. We also now that when the time comes to sell our home some day, having that second bathroom will only increase the value in our home. Prior to and during this year and a half long process (when you can do the work yourselves, it takes longer, but you save money), we had no choice but to face the boxes and get rid of some things. I thought I was ruthless in my purging efforts at the time as we ended up with 3 good trips to the dump, to deliver items to Value Village (our Goodwill) and giving away some items to our kids. Little did I know that there was still so much that I had kept that I would have to revisit.

This past year, after watching Minimalism, the documentary, I decided to revisit those boxes that I had closed up thinking that I had only kept the essentials. It is probably not a surprise that there was still so much stuff left we had held onto. Admittedly, it took a few passes through the boxes with the kids’ school work, art projects, old favourite t-shirts and toys for me to finally whittle them down to a few boxes per kid. I am sure there is still room to go but mentally I am not there yet to do it. I may leave some that up to them once they have to take possession of these boxes of memories. Going through the items that I felt held memories in them, specifically the memories of our children and their milestones, was a difficult task. I had to keep reminding myself that they may not care that they have their grade 3 creative writing journal. As hard as this task was to work through, it paled in comparison to the idea of ridding myself of my parents’ items we had been living with for at least the past 15 years, but it was good practice.

I decided to begin with my closet. There were a couple of things that had been hanging in my closet that I knew I would never wear that were my Mothers. I allowed myself 3 to keep. Three was a completely arbitrary number, so there is not science behind this, but I had to have a limit, a guideline. I kept her velvet dress, her Peacoat and her kilt. The sweaters and other jackets went to Value Village for donation (but I can guess they were bought by a vintage shop and then resold because they were surprisingly back in style). The act of letting these items go that I felt held me closer to my Mother that I hadn’t seen since 1992 was not easy, but it was not as difficult as I had imagined. The three items I let myself keep now hold more meaning because they are now the only items I have.

Next up on the docket was the china cabinet. The china I have is actually my paternal Grandmothers. Let’s face it, people don’t use china like they used to. I kept the china but use it for whenever we have a family dinner. We don’t save it for ‘special occasions.’ We use it because isn’t that the whole point of having it in the first place? Also in the china cabinet were plates that my Mother had displayed on a plate rack in her kitchen. She was a sucker for any kind of blue plate. They were pretty but I don’t have a plate rail in my kitchen, nor do I want to hang them up on my walls. The stack of plates were stored in my china cabinet still wrapped in tissue from one of our many moves and never looked at again. I got them all out. Unwrapped them all and started sorting. I stopped about halfway through when the thought occurred to me to just use them, like the china but for everyday dishes. I washed them and put them in my dish cupboard for us to use on a daily basis. They are all mismatched but I kind of like that about them. I was able to rid myself of some items from the china cabinet though. I had carried around a set of dishes from my Mother’s step-mother. Yeh. I know. Why? They have been donated. The silver plated serving dishes (screaming 1970’s) were next. I will never use silver plated serving dishes. Ever. If I don’t use them, chances are, my kids are not going to spontaneously have a need for silver plated serving dishes. They have been donated. The items I chose to give up out the china cabinet were easier than the clothing. They were definitely items I didn’t use anyhow, nor would my kids ever use them. The dishes I kept, I make sure they get used to create more good memories for our family and friends. Maybe my kids will want them when I am gone, maybe they won’t, but the memories will be there regardless if the dishes are not.

The novels my parents had have been released from their boxes they were housed in for many years and are now on a bookshelf for us to see and to read. The books were also sorted into ones that I would actually want to read and books that there was no way I would ever find readable. The unreadable books were given away and the books we kept are now being read. I am making my way through the collection my parents curated and enjoying them more because I feel like they were picked just for me.

There are still some things that I have yet to part with that belonged to my parents. There is a certain pang of guilt when the thought crosses my mind. My Mother had a couple of Royal Dalton figurines that were given to her and I have two of them. She also had a box of broaches, earrings and some necklaces. I have given a few broaches to our daughter and she wears them since she is lover of vintage clothes and accessories. The engagement ring is packed away and her wedding band I wear and have since she died. The humongous wall unit is in our bedroom and is currently used to house our sweaters but if I was to be honest, I hate it. So why do I keep it?

The process of giving away, giving up or releasing ourselves from not only our own stuff but stuff that was inherited or given to us is ongoing. We of the Generation X (I know the Boomers have already started this process) will be faced more and more with the angst and joy of ridding ourselves of things we no longer need in our lives. Traditionally, the generations before us would just hand everything down to their children, hence the predicament we find ourselves in now. As the Millennials age, we are faced with the fact that they just don’t want the stuff. To be honest, we didn’t want our parents’ stuff either but I would argue we were guilted more into taking it. The way most Millennials want to live is very much in line with Minimalism. They have seen the life of excess and they don’t want any part of it. Millennials have made the connection between wanting or ‘needing’ stuff and paying for it in one way or another. This is not to say they don’t want to work but know that there is way more to life than working to pay for or collect things. They want to experience life, not just get glimpses of it along the way.

So the duty now falls on us as parents of Millennials to do a few things.

First, keep only the few items you inherited from your parents that hold real meaning to you and share them with your kids. Tell them about the items and put them on display or use them daily to get the absolute most out them. Second, don’t burden your kids with the expectation that they are to keep all these items once you can no longer house them or when you are gone. This generation is onto a good thing, as far as I am concerned. They are looking at life in a way I wish I had at their age. They are not caught up in the consumerism of previous generations and if we have any chance as a society, we would allow them to be able to say no the excess of stuff and use their lives to create, serve others and work to make the world even more beautiful. Lastly; they don’t want your magazine collection, but they may want your records. My meaning by this is that the stuff we may have gotten joy out of in our lives, may not be what they find meaningful. So ask. Once they are old enough and if you are in the process of downsizing or even pre-downsizing, ask them what they may want for their own. It may surprise you to know what they want and equally surprising to know what they don’t want. Things are only sentimental to those who have the memories behind them.

We are only at the beginning of our Minimalism journey; and I use the word journey as I think it is just that. We will be constantly reevaluating what we have in boxes or in drawers or on shelves. We may find joy in things today but not tomorrow. Our kids will be left with things to go through our stuff some day but let’s hope we have left them more good memories than stuff they feel they need to keep.


Adios 2016-it’s been real

Buh Bye 2016!  

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

We hope your Christmases were met with good health and happiness as you celebrated the season.  This year is drawing to an end and like many of you out there, we are ready for a new chapter.  2016 will go down as by far one of the most bizarre and tragic.

The public figures we have lost this year seems to be one of the worst in recent years and 2016 doesn’t seem to want to stop taking them from us, with the most recent passing of Carrie Fisher.

The election south of the border was, well, interesting to say the least.  The result of which we will be seeing the fall out from over the next 4 years and hopefully it won’t be too notable.

The atrocities in Syria are still ongoing and from someone who lives in Canada, I can’t even begin to imagine what they are living through.  We should all be extremely thankful we have the good fortune of being born where we were.  It is truly by chance for all of us and if the same things were happening here, we would hope others would want to help us.

Global warming is at an all time high and whether you are of any religious faith or not, I fail to understand how these two things cannot exist together.  Surely if we were given this Earth, we would be expected to take care of it.

But hey, there were good things too. Maybe in your own life, 2016 was a great year.  Maybe you got a new job that you love.  Maybe you moved to a new home.  Maybe you met someone who enriches your life.

Crave Life had a great year!  There were over 12000 views to our blog and 1200 likes to our posts!  We are so very happy that you have joined us to read some recipes or fitness posts or to get some movie or music suggestions.  We love to share things that give us a smile and also things that cause us to pay attention to the world around us.

We thank you for reading and following us here and on other social media.  We thank you for the comments and when you share our posts.  We thank the other bloggers out there who have re-blogged us or have asked us to share on their sites.

We hope that 2017 is amazing for all of you and that we can say it will be the best year yet this time next year!  So I close today with a quote from the beloved Carrie Fisher, who was one of the first strong female characters I saw as a kid when she played Princess Leia.  I wasn’t a cool kid, but when I dressed up as Princess Leia for Halloween in 1977, the side buns and white robe made me cooler than ever.  Thank you Carrie.

“Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately, it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”


30 Days of Yoga…I know, I know

Another 30 day challenge?

Yes.  Sorry.


This one you will thank me for…. I mean it.

First off, I have to thank my daughter Abbey for telling me about this one.

Most of us, especially in the areas of the country, well let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of our country (Canada) that has mild temperatures in the winter, so we’re all in the same boat here.  There are a lot of other places on this big blue planet that are experiencing the same shift this time of year.  It is just kind of hard to get out some days.  The days are shorter.  The temperatures are colder and to go back out after work isn’t always appealing.

So I turn to the internet!

Not for Netflix this time!

If you want a half hour of really great Yoga, give this 30 day challenge a try.  Yoga with Adriene is just what I was looking for.  Now you may be wondering, why do you need a video if you’re a teacher?  Well, sometimes it is just nice to have someone else guide you through a practice.  Adriene is a lovely young woman who surprisingly doesn’t teach a boot camp style of Yoga, which I just do not want for myself.  One thing we have to remember about our practice is that it is for you.  Not for the person next to you in class or your friend who can do a headstand for 15 minutes.

This 30 day challenge starts very gently; easing you into a practice so it is perfect for beginners as well as well seasoned Yogis.  She guides you through the basics and works up to more advanced poses, but don’t let that scare you, she gives wonderful alternatives for those who are not quite ready.

I am half way through this 30 day challenge and have no problem fitting it into my day.  This one you can do even before you go to bed and it won’t get you all pumped up like some do.  You will gain strength and flexibility throughout this 30 day challenge and it will give you a wonderful foundation to build on your own practice.

So before you turn on the Netflix or the Food Network, go to You Tube and check out Yoga with Adriene‘s 30 day Challenge.  She also has many other videos on there if you want to check them out!  It will be just the relief you need from the craziness of the Holiday season!  Take of yourselves!

Shop ‘Til You Drop.

Re-blogging this as a reminder that no deal is worth the craziness of Black Friday. The retailers want you to think you need this stuff or that you friends and family need stuff. They need you. They need your time and attention. Go out and enjoy eachothers company instead. Make memories. Happy Weekend Everyone.

Subatomic Tourism

009 Succumbing to shopping fatigue, finally.

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Declutter or Rearrange? The Grey Zone

via Daily Prompt: Rearrange

I wasn’t going to do a Daily Prompt today, in fact I have a recipe to post, but I scrolled through the WordPress Reader today and saw this Daily Prompt and couldn’t help myself.

As some of you may have read on our blog, I am attempting some minimalism in my own home,and life.  I have sorted through, thrown out, given away various items to thin out the ‘stuff’ that we haven’t seen or used for a very long time.  The word prompt, Rearrange, caught my attention right away.  The process of decluttering or minimizing is tricky, it can often be disguised as rearranging.  I found myself guilty of this very thing.

Feeling oh so proud of myself as I sorted through boxes of stuff in our basement last year, and getting rid of a huge portion of it, emptying boxes and finally parting with things I thought would be difficult to lose, I found myself this month looking around that area of the basement and thinking,’there is still so much stuff down here’.  Did I just ‘rearrange’ things?  Did I just put things in other boxes and amalgamate into bigger boxes?

I began to open boxes and realized that there is still so much more to do.  Sure, I had purged some stuff that seemed insignificant but I haven’t really challenged myself to minimize.  I still need a basement to store this stuff!  Now, sure, there will be items I have to store.  My kids don’t really have homes where they can store some of these items that are theirs, but how much of it is stuff I want them to keep and not what they want to keep?

Over the next few months, when the weather is keeping us inside more of the time, I will have to put on my big girl pants and challenge myself to not just rearrange, but to really purge some of the old toys, art work, books, and the sporting goods.  I may need to recruit them to see what they actually want to hold onto for their own lives.  They may not want their grade 2 spelling work book!

I have said this before, and here I am saying it again, the act of minimizing is a process.  It is one that you have to revisit often.  It is one that you have to question constantly, “am I minimizing, or am I rearranging?”


November Preview!

Helloo November!

Well, not yet but next Tuesday we will be saying that.  That means Halloween is soon here!

What are your plans?  Our kids are past the trick or treating ages and are off to some Halloween parties I am sure.  We usually put out our pumpkin and hand out goodies for the little ones that are in the neighbourhood.  The children’s hospital down the street usually sends people trick or treating for the kids that are spending Halloween in the hospital so we try to make sure we are around for them too.

This will be our dog, Topanga and our cat, Bates’ first Halloween with us.  We will see how that goes!  They tend to get a little excited when visitors come over.  🙂

Val and I will be getting back to baking for the month of November!  Yey!!!

We are bringing you cookie month.  Which means…two cookie recipes per week!

We will visit our old favourites like chocolate chip and peanut butter but give you some new recipes to try out as well, like sweet potato or a granola cookie.

November is taking me back to teaching some Yoga classes as well. Well, actually already started, and it feels great to get back into the studio.  I have seen some new faces and some familiar ones.  This November I will highlight some poses that you may have done and break them down, giving you the basics of the pose as well as the benefits to them.

This November I will continue my approach to more minimalism.  I have tackled the kitchen cupboards, living room, and attic. The next task in moving to less stuff is the bedroom.  Although I have done my closet, there is just the weirdest stuff in this room that has been shoved into drawers never to be used again.

November may mean less time outside, but I plan to make the most out of the time spent inside.  The unfinished projects, like painting the kitchen and hallway are on the list, as well as writing more.  Aside from the blog, I want to get into more of a habit with my writing.  The more you do, the better you get, which means hopefully you’ll enjoy more of what we are posting!

Finally, you have to all admit that the colder weather may find you sitting in front of the television a little more than in the summer.  I think it is safe to say there will be some Netflix in our near future. Val and I will be sharing our viewing pleasures with you and hope you can suggest a few of your favourites for us to watch as well.

Instead of dreading the upcoming winter months, let’s celebrate November! For our friends south of the border, this is going to be a big November 😉 And they get to celebrate Thanksgiving too.  So stay tuned in for our newest posts and if you haven’t followed us yet, what are you waiting for?!  Click that follow button to get the latest blog posts to your email or WordPress reader.

See you guys soon!


Accidental Reading

It happens once in a while when you are looking for something particular online and you come across a website that sucks you in and holds you there, reading, clicking, scrolling and in this case signing up to follow this incredible blog.  Design the Life You Want To Live is a blog by a super talented woman named Lynne Knowlton.

My husband, Tom and I have our anniversary coming up at the end of November.  We like to get away for a night but in November, in Ontario, the weather can be very unpredictable.  We usually opt for a night in Toronto, maybe taking in a show, concert or just wondering around.  I was Googling things to do at the end of November looking for something different.  I came across a post link that said they offered Airstream rentals.  How cool would that be?  We have always talked about doing a trip in a camper, more likely a VW Bus but the Airstreams are really coming back and people are resurrecting them.  Lynne and her family bought an Airstream and completely restored it.  In fact, I dare say it is done wayyyyyy better than it once was.  The trailer, and I use that term loosely as it often conjures up an image of a Winnebago with tires on the roof, is parked on a piece of their land where they also have a …. treehouse!  Yes, you can rent out a treehouse too!

To get more info, click on word Airstream.


Look at the inside…seriously gorgeous.  This is total Glamping.

Did I mention there is a cabin and a treehouse for rent on this beautiful property?  Lynne and her family have done them up and they are worthy of HGTV quality.  Seriously amazing.

Now, the rentals are done for this year, but I will be looking into this for a summertime adventure for sure.  This blog doesn’t just end here.  You can literally spend hours on this blog.

Lynne is a designer and shares with her readers, not only her stunning design ideas in her home, cabin and Airstream, but the blog is filled with so much more.  She highlights Do-It-Yourself projects, Travel highlights (my fave post is Travel Tips that won’t make you want to punch people), Recipes, for not only food but cleaning products too, and a section on Life & Advice, which takes in just about any topic.  Lynne writes with a wit and sharp sense of humour that makes you want to get to know her more.  She is candid and honest in her style of writing that I don’t think is a style at all.  It is just her.

For all you other bloggers out there, Lynne also has a great section on Blogging.  You may want to take her advice on this, her numbers don’t lie.  I’m excited at 250 followers…yeh..well she gets that on a daily basis so I will be reading this section a few times.

As you read through her blog, you will find some personal stuff too.  The most moving posts have to do with her husband, Mike.  They are in the midst of a really tough time and Mike is going through some torturous cancer treatments.  Some people may wonder why she would chose to divulge such personal information and share it with the same honesty she shares do-it-yourself tips.  My take is that the need to be honest and up front with her readers is unavoidable; and that means sharing everything.  Not everything about life, her life in particular, is perfect despite thinking it may be if you just judged by the look of her blog.  By sharing the heartache of the awfulness of cancer with her readers, she is connecting with them on the most basic of levels, human survival.  I can’t imagine how hard these posts are to write for her.

As you read through her blog, check out Lynne’s About page.  She is unpredictably candid here as well, not pretending to be something she isn’t.

I had to share this blog with you as there is really so much to go through and if you just want to look at the pictures, believe me, you can lose a lot of time doing that too.  Design the Life You Want to Live is definitely a blog to aspire to achieve and admire.

Run for the Toad-Race Report

The 15th Annual Run for the Toad was held on October 1 in Paris, Ontario.  All week we kept our eyes on the weather and no matter how many times we checked, it didn’t change!  Rain was in the forecast for the entire morning. The temperature looked pretty good but we were going to get wet.  Well, as much as I wanted a nice cool, sunny day, I was ready to run and get wet and muddy if need be.

Well, Mother Nature was pretty forgiving after all.  The day was misty, cloudy and maybe a few drops of rain but for the most part, we escaped any down pours and the trails were superb.

There is something about this race that just keeps people coming back.  The great atmosphere and organizers are second to none.  The food after the race is awesome and we are never disappointed.

The Tent city they set up was ready for any rain that may fall and it housed vendors, free coffee and donuts or cookies as well as the race kit pick up area.  As we walked through the vendors we noticed the merch tent for The Toad.  Rayanne has a nice jacket she got on her first of the 6 times she has done the course but I have yet to purchase anything…until this year.  We gravitated to a shirt that we knew was going to be coming home with both of us and raced back to the car to get our bank cards as they were quickly running out.  Maybe it was that warm up run to shop that helped our race!

Rayanne and I have ran The Toad in many different conditions ranging from sunny and warm to cold and pouring rain.  We have slipped through the muddy trails and felt the scorching hot sun in the meadow. We mentally prepared ourselves for the rain but were relieved that the day turned out as ‘nice’ as it did.

Rayanne and I have our pre race picture tradition. We have yet to post a post-race pic…lol


The race begins with ‘Opening Ceremonies’.  Race organizers make sure to thank the people at Pinehurst Conservation Area for their work at preserving the trails and then introduce any elite athletes that are there competing that day.  Both the US and Canadian national anthems are played by a live military band.  The first to line up are the kids.  There is a one mile Toad Junior run for the little ones.  They even receive a medal for their efforts.  Really great to see this run grow as people are getting their kids into the joys of trail running.

Next to line up are the 50km and the relay runners.  Some of these 50km runners will finish before we finish 25km …let that sink in.  They can run twice as far faster than we do.  It is truly unbelievable when you see them pass you like you’re standing still even though you may feel like you are running at a blistering speed!

Race time for the 25km runners (and walkers too).  The cannon (yep, I said cannon) signifies the start and we are off.  The runners tend to bunch up here but it won’t be long before things spread out.  They have installed new wood stairs to a portion of an up hill on the trail which I have to admit was really nice to go up.  I am sure it is not just for aesthetic reasons, but also for erosion control.  Either way, thumbs up on those.  Rayanne and I are used to talking throughout our runs.  It is amusing though to look back afterward at the conversation over the course of 25 km.  We talk about movies, music, kids, family and of course running and runners.  We are never without admiration for some of the older runners that blow by us with ease.  Inevitably we say, “Ok, I want to be like that”. As we discussed movies, the topic of Vietnam war movies came up. Things really go on a tangent sometimes so let’s just say trying to think of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ took up about 8 km.

Over the course of the race, which is a 12.5km double loop, the volunteers are well placed and water or Gatorade stops every 3 km.  Second loop also includes candies, cookies, and fruit at the water stops too.  That cookies came in handy for sure.

We weren’t really sure how our time was going to be. We knew we were running at a pretty steady pace.  We both felt really good throughout and didn’t have any pressing problems while we made our way around the second loop.  The chip timing now is great because it is linked to your email and you can get your results immediately after finishing.

We finished in 2:59 and were super happy with it.  I am forever a mid pack runner and totally fine with that.  To anyone who hasn’t run a trail race before, and believe me, this one is very hilly, to equate your road times to trails just doesn’t work.  We learned that long ago.

All in all very happy with the results:

First 12.5 loop – 1:27

Second 12.5 loop – 2:59  That means only 5 min difference between first and second loop!

Overall finish:  312/578

Female: 146/321

Age group: 34/91

Our training this year was consistent and strong.  We mixed road and trail well and made sure those long runs were logged.  Really can’t say enough good things about this race and if you have never done it, I would recommend giving it a go.

So that leads us to the next question.  We felt good about this race.  We feel good after the race and without any issues for either one of us.  So…what’s next?  Maybe Around the Bay number 10 for me in March.  I may need to watch the Barkelys again to get the motivation.