A New Project Using Felt

I’m excited about a project that I started working on. I have a special little girl who will have her first Birthday this summer and I would love to give her something special. I’ll post photos from start to finish, but just to give you a sneak peek, here’s a photo of one finished piece:

 

Handmade Felt Strawberry

Handmade Felt Strawberry

I know it has a couple of unpolished edges, but it was my first one and I’m pretty happy with it so far. If you have any suggestions to make it better, please let me know!

The Game is On! The Renewed Love of Sherlock Holmes

sherlocksI am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, even though I have not read all of the novels and short stories yet. The renewed popularity of Sherlock Holmes was sparked by the 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes, starring the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Since the movie came out, there has been a second movie (a third is in talks) and two TV series, Elementary (US) and Sherlock (UK). I’ve seen them all and I’m now curious to watch some of the older shows from the 80’s just to see what they were like.

sherlock homes movie

I love the Guy Ritchie movies and both TV series because they each have their own take on the stories and characters from the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. The Sherlock movies are both set in the 1880’s like the books, the British TV series Sherlock is a mix of 1800’s and 2000’s fashion styles and sets, and the US series Elementary is set in the 2000’s, though there are many character traits, fashion designs and set pieces that go back to the 1800’s.

Sherlock UK

I would love to read the whole collection to see which adaptation has elements closest to the original. Of course, I believe Elementary is the farthest from it, especially since there are some strong female characters playing male roles, I think there might be a few things placed as an homage to the original. Personally, I like this modern twist to the story, but there are many people who are appalled by the fact that Dr. Watson in the show is played by a woman.

Elementary

I’d like to hear your opinions about the movies or shows!  Comment below to let me know what you think.

Do you like the modern styles or prefer to keep to the original stories?

 

Books – The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Like many people out there, I have ups and downs in emotions, and lately I’ve noticed that I tend to focus more on the negatives rather than finding something positive in every day. Unlike people who are generally bubbly and positive, I’m naturally a slightly more negative/skeptical person…. but one who would like to change for the better!

As a way to create a happier me, I created some simple New Year’s resolutions that are designed to help me become healthier both physically and mentally. I’m always on the look out for different ways to relax, feel happier and change negative attitudes -or let go of negative things.

Miho-Blog-Happiness-Project

You can get the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on Amazon.

I started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

I thought it would be an interesting read, and possibly give me different ideas to become a happier and more positive person. So far, I find her research quite interesting and there are many simple everyday things that anyone can do to change their mindset and live a happier/more positive life. I’ve tried a few things so far and they have motivated me to continue on my own path to happiness.

How Do You Relax?

I’ve asked many people what they like to do to relax and I’ve gotten quite a number of responses. Here are a few to give you an idea of what others do to relax:

“Tea is a very good way to relax any time or place. If you feel stressed at work, or are at home with nothing to do, making a cup of tea and enjoying it (emphasis on enjoying) can really help. Tea is also good accompanied with watching TV, music, laying in bed, reading and much more!”

“Sit or walk around a place that is secluded.”

“Knitting then give it all away to a charity to help other people.”

“Take the dogs out for a long walk in a park or along the beach.”

“Take a bubble bath and read a good book.”

“Listen to music, enjoy a glass of wine and write poetry.”

“When my husband gets home, he will take over taking care of the kids. That’s when I turn on my favorite music and take a long hot shower.”

Before reading over the responses, I expected people to suggest retreats, spa visits, exotic holidays or other expensive options. I quickly realized that most people just want to enjoy simple everyday pleasures. All of these comments made me realize that I too neglect to enjoy simple little things in life. I drink lots of tea, read books, listen to music but rarely sit back to really enjoy it.  This must change.

I’ll keep tracking my progress and hope to get more tips from all of you!

What are you doing to be happier/healthier each day?

relaxation

Use Japanese Loose Leaf Tea Bags for Cooking

I purchased these tea bags from Japan and absolutely love them! You can buy empty tea bags that you fill up with loose leaf teas instead of using tea infusers. I find the bags to be better for teas since infusers tend to let small bits of tea through.

Japanese loose leaf tea bagsI also love these bags for infusing flavours when cooking soups. I love to use dried bay leaves and coriander in soups, but I don’t like biting into them when I eat the soups, so I place them in the tea bags and place it in the pot of soup. Everything stays in the bag as the soup boils, and when it’s done, I just scoop the bag out and that’s it!

Japanese tea bags for cooking

I’m sure there are different variations of these tea bags available in specialty tea shops, but I highly recommend these Japanese ones. They are the best!  You can find some on Amazon here.

Winter in Canada 2014

This winter has been exceptionally cold and snowy…. basically as Winter in Canada should be (according to the rest of the world).

Since the season feels VERY long, I like to break it up by doing fun things in the snow. If all you ever do it commute from home to work, then it really brings you down (and can make you quite grumpy after a few months. I’ve found, if you find something fun to do, and share it with good company, the season is great!

Here are a few photos from this year (so far):

The Distillery Christmas Market

The Distillery – warm up stations

Beer can coated in ice

More ice

Beautiful blanket of snow

Beautiful blanket of snow

A snow trail on a frozen lake.

Snowshoeing

Frozen kayaks

Lovely wintery painting

Swans and ducks enjoying the sun.

 

 

New Year Resolutions

new yearEvery year we write out a set of New Year resolutions to either lose weight, eat healthier, go to the gym, and like every year, we vow to stick to them no matter what.

The problem with New Year resolutions is that we are initially motivated with them and then life slowly goes back to the way it was, and these resolutions eventually take a backseat to everything else.

I have always had these problems and would really like to make significant changes in my life this year. I’ve created a daily checklist of things that I would like to keep track of in hopes of creating a healthy habit of more than one thing at a time. We’ll see how it goes.

monthly tracking sheets

January monthly tracking sheet

If you would like to print out your own set of monthly tracking sheets, please click here.

Each page is a separate month that will help you track various things that will help promote a happier and healthier life.

You are free to use my chart as a reference for customizing your own or feel free to use them as they are. Here’s a brief explanation of each columns that I’ve listed:

Hours Slept – Every morning, you should write down how many hours you slept. This will help you see just how much sleep you are getting each night and help you get motivated to hit the sack earlier if you are not hitting your recommended average.

Here is a sleep guide from www.helpguide.org

Average Sleep Needs by Age
Newborn to 2 months old12 – 18 hrs
3 months to 1 year old14 – 15 hrs
1 to 3 years old12 – 14 hrs
3 to 5 years old11 – 13 hrs
5 to 12 years old10 – 11 hrs
12 to 18 years old8.5 – 10 hrs
Adults (18+)7.5 – 9 hrs

 

 

 

 

 

Steps Taken – To track just how many steps you take in a day. Many people say the average person should take about 10,000 steps each day. Ten thousand steps is supposed to help promote a healthy body and mind, but the average office worker or overall sedentary person will only take between 1,000 and 2,500 steps each day, which is a dangerously low number. You can track your steps with a pedometer or by using an app on your smartphone. I’ve been using the Ozeri digital pedometer and so far, it’s pretty good.

Glasses – This section is to help you track just how much water you are drinking per day. I know the standard that has been thrown around is 8 glasses per day but the actual amount depends on the person, their environment and active lifestyle. To find out how much you might need per day, check out this page on About.com: http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm

Workout Min. – The dreaded workout routine. Even if you can take 10 minutes out of each day for a quick workout, it can have a lot of positive benefits for your overall health. Give it a try and make sure to keep track of each workout session. Looking at the numbers just might motivate you to increase your workout time each day.

Clean – One problem that everyone faces is having a busy lifestyle with little time to clean around the house. This section is to help you write down just one area around the house that was cleaned/organized. If you clean up one area each day, it will help maintain a tidier home.

$ – This section is to help you keep track of money that was made or saved during the day. If you would like to make a little extra cash on the side, this column will help you track how much you make each day. If you’re goal is to save more money throughout the year, track down how much was put away or saved from coupons, sales, deals etc..

There you have it. I hope my charts will help you reach your goals this year. Please tell me what you think I can add to improve this list. I would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you do to stay on track of your resolutions?

resolutions

Holiday Decorations for Under $5 – Hanging Yarn Wreaths

My Christmas budget is quite small this year, so I decided to get creative for home decorations. I looked around the house to see what kind of materials I had on hand and managed to gather a few empty cardboard boxes and old yarn. This is what I ended up making:

Yarn WreathAll I did was secure a thin bamboo stick with some thumb tacks and placed the wreaths on it. This makes them easy to move around until I’m happy with the way it looks.

Yarn Wreath

Each hanging wreath was cut out of an empty cardboard box and then covered with yarn. All I did was secure the end of the yarn with a knot and wrapped the wreath until it was tightly covered.

Yarn wreath

These lovely little bells are from my old Christmas decoration stash, so I decided to use them in this arrangement instead. I only looped them on the top of the wreath so that I have the option to take them off or swap decorations without fuss.

Yarn wreath

Here is a closeup of the lettering. The word ‘Noel’ is also cut out from an empty tissue box, then wrapped up with yarn. They may look a bit imperfect, but it’s my handwriting, so I think it looks more authentic *^_^*

Yarn wreathIf you have any fun holiday decorations that you would like to share, please send me a message or comment below!  You can also get more ideas from my Pinterest page!

 

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Enjoy Something New – Try Eating Japanese Natto

Japanese natto

Natto is a Japanese food that will usually make people scrunch up their faces and say “eew”.  It’s fermented soy beans that have a very thick sticky consistency. It also doesn’t help that it’s also quite pungent.

I personally love natto and strongly urge anyone to try it at least once in their life. If you would like to know why, check out some of the health benefits.

Japanese natto

In most countries, you can find natto in Japanese or Asian supermarkets. They will usually be found in the frozen food area.

Japanese natto

When you open one up, you will find two little packets along with the natto. The small yellow pack is a type of mustard and the brown liquid is a sauce. The sauce will normally have a slightly sweet flavour…. which I personally don’t like, so I replace this sauce with standard Kikkoman soy sauce.

Japanese natto

I also add chopped seaweed for extra health benefits, as mentioned in a previous post “How to Make Ramen Healthier“.

Japanese natto

Throw in some chopped green onions for a bit of zing and mix furiously. This will make the natto very sticky and oh so delicious.

Japanese natto

 

Eat it on its own or place it on top of steaming hot rice. It’s a filling dish that’s very healthy for you and olny costs a couple of dollars to make!

 

Revive Your Senses in Nature

I spent the long-weekend in a cabin located by Algonquin park for my Birthday.

cabin

I love going up north at least once every few months because it clears my mind and rejuvenates my soul.  Whenever people say that all humans need to connect with nature, it kind of sounds cheesy… but totally true.

baby pine cone

Just a moment by the water, in a forest, on a mountain, anything away from the city or the modern world can do wonders on your physical and mental health.

purple flowers

If you think you don’t have time for it, make time at least once in a year.

lake

Plan a getaway and leave everything behind, even if it’s for a day!

sunburst

Simple Gift Box Decorations – Sophisticated “Goodie Bags”

Gift Goodie Boxes

Here are a few small boxes that I decorated as “goodie bags” for my Birthday (yes, I still enjoy giving goodie bags and I think I always will).

goodie boxes

The plain kraft paper boxes are approximately 10cm x 10cm x 5.5cm and only cost $1 each.

Japanese paper cards

I tied them up with plain string and added a mini card made from Japanese paper.

I adore these boxes because they were cheap, helped me use up craft string that I already had at home and scraps of my favourite type of paper. Afterwards, the boxes can be reused in the same way or decorated with a collage, paints or even gold leaf.

They are simple and have a soft nature theme, which is exactly what I love.

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