May 25, 2015

Where Have All the Tulips Gone?

by Sonia Ribaux

IMG_3334Did anyone see spring this year? I certainly missed it. After the long and cold winter, I felt like I would spend all my time outside when spring finally came. Instead I found myself working long hours and spending too much time in front of the computer. Spring is notoriously short in Quebec. One moment it’s snowing and the next it’s a heat wave. I remember my tulips starting to poke through a few weeks ago and the next thing you know, they’re wilting.

Still, I find tulips attractive at the end of their lives. Sure, the bright colours and silky texture of fresh tulips is flashy but when they are near the end they reveal their more complex interiors which are very interesting to photograph.

Here are some shots of my tulips. I should tell you that I have a new macro lens. From now on, everything will be really up close.

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March 15, 2015

Seven Barns and a Raccoon

by Sonia Ribaux

Last Friday I went to visit my mom in the Eastern Townships. When I go there it’s always about the destination, not the journey. My goal is always to get there fast. I know the shortest routes (worked out by my father years ago) and the best roads to take in winter or summer. I know when the bridge off the Island of Montreal is most likely to be busy at different times of the day and year and when to avoid the worst of road construction. Every time I drive to see my mom, especially now that my dad has passed away, I wish we lived closer.

On Friday morning I finished off some work I had to do and I found myself ready to leave earlier than planned. This almost never happens. I decided to take my camera and stop off to photograph some barns on the way. I’ve seen these barns in all seasons and in different types of light over the years. I always find them beautiful but I also know that I’m not good at this type of photography. You know me, I’m not happy unless my lens is two inches from my subject.

So I stopped the car along the country roads and took photos of barns. Most of these are familiar to me, and I had photographed some before, but after a while I started exploring other roads that I’d never been on and found new barns! I found this so relaxing. By the time I arrived I was completely Zen. I guess I’m a slow learner. I should know by now how it makes me feel when I attend to my creative needs. Oh well.

I’m not entirely satisfied with these photos (although some might make good paintings) but the journey sure was great.

P.S. I met a few animals along the way, mostly dogs that wanted to devour me, and one little critter that wanted to be photographed.

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March 3, 2015

Knitting Gone Wild

by Sonia Ribaux

What do you think of when you think of knitting? Do you love it? Do you wonder how people can move those needles without hurting themselves? Does it bring back fond memories of your childhood snowflake sweater with the reindeers?
I mentioned in my last blog that I had been to a knitting show. It was hosted by a local yarn store and my friends and I were not quite sure what to expect. Would we be watching someone knit? Would there be a competition of fast knitters? What should one wear for a knitting show?
The “show” part of the event was StevenBe, a textile artist, rock star knitter, Queen bee, all-around fun guy, owner of a yarn shop/textile salon/knitting school/party central in Minneapolis. He and his partner (Stephen with a ph) have been touring North America. The “knitting” part of the event was a display of their knitted creations and yarn products so beautiful that they could make even non-knitters salivate. I found their creations to be most interesting. About a third of them were little masterpieces; another third were unusual but attractive –something someone with a more bohemian approach to style than me could pull off –and the last third were frankly too bizarre for me.
I found the whole experience to be very inspiring. One thing our host said in particular struck me. He suggested that people should start knitting and make up the patterns as they go along. Imagine! Knitting without a pattern! Instead of the monotonous knit-purl-knit-purl, I could just knit away to my heart’s content and create something absolutely original. Well, someone could, maybe not me.
I like to knit but I’m not a good knitter. When I was younger I knitted and wore the results but they always had a clearly homemade look that I now shy away from. But now that I’ve been given the liberty to knit without rules, I’m going to take a whole new approach. I will no longer create “homemade sweaters” but rather “hand-crafted textile creations”. My new slogan will be Knit for Freedom. Thanks for the inspiration StevenBe.
Photos
Had I known what to expect, I would have brought my camera, but I didn’t. These photos are from my archives from a previous visit to the yarn shop.

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February 20, 2015

Street Scenes (take two)

by Sonia Ribaux

(I’m resending this post as there were technical difficulties)

Last weekend was especially busy. On Friday night my brother took me to a play. On Saturday afternoon we went to an exhibit of erotic art where my friend Grace was showing her work. Saturday night saw us at the Oscar Peterson hall for a concert on the roots of rock and roll and Sunday I attended a knitting show. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry neither did I. More about this in another blog.)

It was a fun and inspiring weekend. I was especially inspired by my friend Grace. She was somewhat hesitant about showing her work because of the intimate nature of the pieces. Grace is very creative and artistic in everything she does but she doesn’t usually participate in shows. I was very impressed that she put together these pieces and and submitted them to the show’s curator. I didn’t know what to expect but I found her work to be among the best of the seven or eight artists there.

While I was at the show, I thought of some photos I took two years ago but never published (no, they are not erotic). Why did these photos pop into my head at that moment? I really like those photos that I took with my phone while waiting for the bus on a rainy December night, but they are very different from the pretty photos I usually publish on my blog. I guess the lesson I learned from Grace is to just take a chance. Apparently, this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again.

I’m going to print some of these photos and create a triptych but I need your help. Which three would work together? I’ve numbered the photos so that you can tell me your favourites.

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1.

2.

2.

3.

3.

4.

4.

5.

5.

6.

6.

February 20, 2015

Street Scenes

by Sonia Ribaux

Last weekend was especially busy. On Friday night my brother took me to a play. On Saturday afternoon we went to an exhibit of erotic art where my friend Grace was showing her work. Saturday night saw us at the Oscar Peterson hall for a concert on the roots of rock and roll and Sunday I attended a knitting show. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry neither did I. More about this in another blog.)

It was a fun and inspiring weekend. I was especially inspired by my friend Grace. She was somewhat hesitant about showing her work because of the intimate nature of the pieces. Grace is very creative and artistic in everything she does but she doesn’t usually participate in shows. I was very impressed that she put together these pieces and and submitted them to the show’s curator. I didn’t know what to expect but I found her work to be among the best of the seven or eight artists there.

While I was at the show, I thought of some photos I took two years ago but never published (no, they are not erotic). Why did these photos pop into my head at that moment? I really like those photos that I took with my phone while waiting for the bus on a rainy December night, but they are very different from the pretty photos I usually publish on my blog. I guess the lesson I learned from Grace is to just take a chance. Apparently, this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again.

I’m going to print some of these photos and create a triptych but I need your help. Which three would work together? I’ve numbered the photos so that you can tell me your favourites.

1.

1.

2.

2.

photo (5)

3.

4.

4.

5.

5.

6.

6.

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January 24, 2015

Mademoiselle Plume

by Sonia Ribaux

Science now conclusively shows what pet owners have known for a long time: that owning a pet is good for you. Pet owners are less depressed and anxious and also less likely to die from cardiac disease. Children who grow up with a pet are less likely to have allergies and have stronger immune systems.

Cats have special benefits for their owners. A cat’s purring vibration ranges from 20 to 140 Hz, which has proven to be very therapeutic. The purring can lower your stress, decrease your risk of a heart attack (by 40%!), heal infection and swelling, lower blood pressure and heal muscles and bones. Kitties should be awarded a medical degree!

Why a blog about cats? It’s just an excuse to show you photos of our new cat Plume. We agreed to foster her for a month until she found a permanent home. Twenty minutes after she arrived, she was sitting on David’s lap watching football. And that, my friends, was that. She is now a member of our family.

Photos this week

One of the things that I love about Plume is that she is not camera shy. She will sit patiently while I click away. My last cat Tessa use to run away as soon as I so much as glanced at my camera. My photos of her, with a few exceptions, were like photos of Big Foot; blurry images that showed a mass of fur, but what was it?

Here is Mademoiselle Plume.

P.S. for more info on how pets are good for you see: 27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.



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January 8, 2015

Resolve!

by Sonia Ribaux

Resolutions, objectives, habits, goals: What’s your preference? Many people don’t like making resolutions at the beginning of the year because it’s just too much pressure. I like to plan for positive changes in my life but I’m past the age of making grand resolutions. Resolutions should make your life better but not be a burden. I find that making small, baby-steps resolutions is more realistic and amusing. I was going to give you a list of 10 small resolutions for this year but, in the spirit of keeping it small, I decided that six was enough.

  1. Pamper my hands and feet

I’ve decided that my hands and feet will be the featured body parts this year. In addition to applying copious amounts of creams to the said body parts, I think wearing rubber gloves for washing dishes is a good idea. And easy. Really easy.

Also, someone told me a new reflexology place has opened in our neighbourhood so I’ll be visiting it soon. How likely is it that I’ll keep this resolution? Highly likely!

  1. Drink green tea

I’ve always thought that I didn’t like green tea but I’ve discovered that there are some that I really like. Green tea has powerful health benefits and has been researched quite extensively. I think I can easily add a cup or two a day. (For more info on green tea, see 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea)

 

  1. Buy no more books

I read about 30 books a year, both fiction and non-fiction. My appetite for books far exceeds my reading capacity. This year, if there’s a book I want, I will put it on my wish list until the pile on my night table is reduced. This is a non-action resolution. You need one of these.

  1. Eat seeds

Seeds are full of vitamins, amino acids, fibre, omega-3 and all sorts of good stuff. This year I’m adding more seeds to our diet. I’m planning to add flax seeds in my smoothies, sunflower seeds in our salads and hemp seeds in muffins. How long could that take? Five seconds?

5. More opera

I’ve never been a fan of opera mostly because I’ve never really had a chance to see many. My friends who know more about this than I do have been taking me to see Live at the Met, transmissions of the Saturday afternoon opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera. I’m loving it! I want more of this.

 6. Play more games

Playing board games with friends is such fun, why don’t I do it more often? I’m blessed with a partner who loves games so in addition to playing, maybe we’ll treat ourselves to a few new games this year. Any suggestions?

If you have made resolutions and would like to know more about how to keep them see this article. You will find out that how you formulate the resolutions is key to keeping them. The Three Most Important Tactics for Keeping Your Resolutions.

 

Special Thanks

Thank you to everyone who commented on my blog this past year. Your comments make me very happy. Special thanks go the the top commenters Holly (of Jittery Cook) and Louise, closely followed by Chris, Melanie, and Elaine.

Photos

Here are my favourites from 2014. Some have been published before and some are from my archives.

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December 22, 2014

21-day challenge: Part 3

by Sonia Ribaux

This is the end of my 21-day kindness challenge but not the end of my kindness I hope. This is what I learned from doing this.

It’s easy and hard

It’s so easy to be kind to people and every little act of kindness makes everyone feel better. At the same time, incorporating an act of kindness every day can be hard. We get distracted, we get grumpy, life presents us with little or big messes. I have to admit that while I did do 21 acts of kindness during this period, actually more, there were days when I did nothing and others when I did more than one.

The Power of Cookies

Cookies are actually the perfect gift. They are fast and easy to make and people really appreciate the homemade touch. I lost count but I must have made over 300 cookies over the last three weeks. David helped me out in my baking so now we are both cookie cooks.

Kindness make me happy

Over the last three weeks I found myself singing to myself, a sure sign that I’m feeling happy. What did I sing? La vie en rose by Edith Piaf, Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer by Santa (?), Going down to Cuba by Jackson Brown, and several other songs. Are you impressed? It turns out that being kind is good for you and singing is also good for you. This is a wining combination.

Kindness is loopy

There is scientific evidence that shows that kindness makes you happier and the happier you are, the more likely you are to be kind. This creates a kindness-happiness loop where one feeds into the other. Cool, no? Here is an interesting article about this from the Greater Good Science Center: Kindness Makes You Happy… and Happiness Makes You Kind.

My challenge this week

Day 15: I sent a surprise gift in the mail to a friend

Day 16: I brought a bag of cookies to Alex, our friendly neighbourhood florist.

Day 17: I gave a donation to Wikipedia. I use it quite a lot, so it’s about time.

Day 18: My mom has a very nice neighbour who does a lot for her. I bought him a gift for his kindness to mom.

Day 19: I gave our postal delivery person a thank-you bag of cookies.

Day 20: I always remember birthdays but I rarely send cards. This week I sent two birthday cards to friends who always send me cards…which I love to receive.

Day 21: This gift is for you. Several people asked me for recipes for the cookies in my photographs. Here it is, my very first cookbook, Sweets from Sonia’s Kitchen. Just click here to download: Sweets from Sonia’s kitchen

Photos this week

More sweet stuff

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December 15, 2014

21-day Challenge: Part 2

by Sonia Ribaux

As it turns out, photographing cookies is not the glamour job you might imagine. My cookies are not prettily decorated so basically they are brown or beige lumps. They are good –but not photogenic. For example, the banana chocolate chip cookies I made this week were especially difficult to photograph. I tried with six different plates and different coloured napkins but couldn’t find the right combination. I finally opted for the pewter plate and red napkin you will see below. Just for fun, I’ve also included the missed shots, below in thumbnail size.

My challenge this week.

Day 8: David and I gave a gift certificate to the person who delivers our newspaper.

Day 9: Our friend and neighbour was heading out for a long drive with his two small girls. We gave him muffins for the road.

Day 10: I made small gift bags full of cookies and delivered them to crossing guards in our neighbourhood.

Day 11: The last time I saw my hair stylist she told me that she loved opera. I’ve been seeing her for 20 years and I didn’t know this. Since it was her birthday, I bought her a CD of Andrea Bocelli. She was thrilled.

Day 12: David and I brought a basket of muffins to the Perform Centre, the gym where we work out. I made healthy muffins for this occasion.

Day 13: Both David and I go to a great pilates studio (Pilates Precision) . I brought over some Christmas gifts for both our instructor and the owner.

Day 14: I gave a donation to a small opera company, Opera da Camera. It’s not the kind of thing I usually do. Now I’m a patron of the arts!

If you have any suggestions or ideas for my challenge, please feel free to share them. I’m running out of ideas!

Photos this week

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These are some of the missed shots (also know as the brown lumps.)

 

 

 

December 7, 2014

21-day challenge: Part 1

by Sonia Ribaux

As part of my 21-day kindness challenge I’ve been spending lots of time in the kitchen baking. Making treats for people seems like a good way to say thank-you and show I care. I do love to bake and I find it very relaxing. On Thursday I spent the morning in the kitchen. What could be better on a frosty December morning than that intoxicating smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger? I put on some baking music and did a little singing and dancing in between batches of cookies. It was really fun. I have to stay focused though. I made chocolate cupcakes to give away and forgot to add the sugar! Luckily, I noticed my mistake before it was too late. Even if they were given with the best of intentions, sugarless cupcakes wouldn’t be very popular.

Here’s what I did this week for my 21-day kindness challenge.

Day 1 – I cleaned up my bookshelves and brought a big bag of books to a donation centre.

Day 2 – David was feeling under the weather today so I bought him his favourite chocolate. He felt instantly better.

Day 3 – We have great neighbours.  I was happy to bake cookies for them and David delivered them.

Day 4 – I did some shopping at Dix mille villages today. This is a fair-trade shop that sells products from artisans all over the world. I took this opportunity to thank the volunteers who work there for their important contribution to this type of work.

Day 5 – I made a surprise visit to my mom and brought her a Christmas plant.

Day 6 – Each year I give a donation to the NDG Food Depot. This year, along with my donation, I brought them a basket of chocolate cupcakes (with sugar).

Day 7 – My friends Melanie and Jane and I have decided to start a tradition of giving together. Last year we gave a donation to Unicef for books for children in developing countries. This year we decided to give a donation for Ebola prevention kits. (Thanks Mel and Jane. I love new traditions!)

Photos this week

I have to taste what I bake (for quality control) but first I have to photograph it. Here are some of the treats I made this week (and one photo of my kitchen while I was baking.)

 

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