Watercolours and Calligraphy, an ode to discovering new passions

In the last few months, I really tried to simplify my life in ways that would help me tend to people and things that matter to me, while still finding a balance between my work life and my home life. The last few years were really intense, and I found myself being unhappy and without time to spend with my family and friends or to take care of myself, let alone cultivate a passion. So, after organizing my priorities, cutting on unnecessary spendings and thinking about what ultimately mattered, I realized that I had a lot more time than I thought I had which, consequently, gave me time to spend on things that interest and motivate me. Two of those things are watercolour painting and calligraphy.

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What I like most about these two pastimes is that they are quite cheap to do and have endless possibilities. Right now I’m working on flower wreaths and quotes. I have to say there is something particularly soothing about putting pen to paper and just creating. I love the level of concentration that is needed with calligraphy: think about something else, and you are sure to forget a letter or write the wrong word! On the other hand, watercolour painting is so soft and relaxing: mixing colours and playing with water techniques is quite magical. Plus, it’s probably the most forgiving painting style, which is great when you are beginning.

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I also really enjoy creating cards and special posters for the people around me and my own living space. I love how customizable this makes home decor and how versatile it is as well. I’m currently exploring the option of writing on beautiful rocks that I found while on walks. I’ll show you the results!

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Because you never know where a passion can lead you, I decided to create my very own Etsy shop, My Lighthearted Papers,  where I list different calligraphy and watercolor samples. I would love to create wedding paper accessories or personalized posters for people to add a touch of colour and poetry to their living spaces. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a special something in mind!

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I really hope you will take time to cultivate a passion of your own, and keep practising and sharing it. Having something that is entirely yours is so gratifying and nourishing!

The importance of giving yourself time

A few weeks ago, a mom asked me if I would give her 9 years old daughter French lessons. I accepted, however, we quickly realized that it was impossible for me and her to meet and be free at the same time. She had piano lessons, scouts meetings, math tutoring, Vietnamese lessons, and soccer practice to fit in her 9 years old schedule. This got me thinking about how I used to fill my time as a kid, and how I fill my time now. I realized that I am clearly an underachiever compared to this child. Yet, I am also rich with the most precious thing: boredom.

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As a kid, my parents were (and still are) ferocious believers in boredom. My dad always told me that boredom was the most precious thing to have because it meant that you had room for inspiration and creativity to settled in. That’s why I had the occasional ballet class, music recital, or swimming lesson, but mostly free time to fill as I liked. I spent countless afternoons at the library exploring old and obscure books, in the park inventing stories and playing with friends, at home drawing or DIYing something or another. Was that time lost? I don’t think so. In fact, I think this time was the most precious gift my parents could have given me because it made it possible for me to create and experiment at my own pace. It taught me to observe, listen and invent. It also helped me be comfortable with being alone with myself. As an adult, I think we often forget how important it is to give ourselves some time to be bored. Of course part of the reason is because we rush from one thing to the other because of work and our responsibilities, but the truth is, there is always time to be bored and listen to ideas as they start to occupy these empty bubbles of time. Here are some ways I like to fill mine up:

  • Move: When I’m in a rut and find myself whining about how bored I am, I like to roll out my yoga mat and start moving and stretching around. Every time I do so, I end my practice feeling refreshed, calmer, and more open to inspiration. I usually have one or two good ideas in my head ready to be used and put in motion as well.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: Even if it’s just sitting in my backyard or balcony and enjoying the sun or rain, connecting with nature always relieves boredom. Some people say that blue and green colors make your brain happy. I don’t know if that’s true, but being outside always seems to make me feel good. I usually also find something to do: take care of a plant, observe a bee at work, look at the clouds and invent stories, look for beautiful rocks. Of course, if I have more time hiking or doing sports outside is also a great option.
  • Create something beautiful: When I was a kid and I got bored, I would take some printer paper and my colored pencils and sit at the coffee table with the cartoons on low and draw away. I would create clothes and creatures and just enjoy this time to make something beautiful out of nothing. Of course, they were not museum worthy (not under the current standards anyways, haha), but they were pretty and fun to me. As a teenager, I discovered knitting and recently, calligraphy. Not only are all these occupations cheap, they are also quiet, calm and soothing to the mind.
  • Communicate: Some of my friends don’t understand how I have such a close relationship with my parents. We call each other every day, we send each other emails all the time, and we just love spending time together. As a kid, again, I would often seek out my dad or mom when I was bored. My dad would teach me how to draw, give me one of his books to read, go on a walk with me or simply talk to me. My mom would ask me to help her with cooking or shopping and would tell me stories of when she was a kid in Vietnam. Because I was not running from one activity to the next, I had time to get to know my parents and they had time to give me as well. Now, I like to continue to bug them when I’m bored, but I also seek out friends. Sorry about that!
  • Take care of my body: If everything else is going to make my brain explode, I like to pamper myself with a nice shower, using a fun body product or making myself a delicious meal or snack. Taking this time to take care of my body is so great because it gives it importance and recognition. It also gives me time to think and relax.

That was my too-bits on time and boredom. I hope they will help you next time you don’t know what to do with yourself!

 

My favourite fancy bowl combinations

I love fancy bowls! They are colourful, yummy, nutritious and so simple to prepare, especially if you food prep like I do. Here are my favourite ingredients to get you inspired, but really, you can make your own version of these by combining your choice of:

grain + protein + greens/raw veggies + cooked veggies + sauce

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  1. Grains:
    • Wild rice: a classic for a reason! This will fill you up for long hours and it’s delicious on it’s own.
    • Creamy rice
    • Quinoa: packed with extra proteins
    • Polenta: because why not?
  2. Proteins:
  3. Greens/Raw veggies:
    • Lettuce
    • Kale
    • Avocado slices
    • Cucumber
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Bell Pepper
  4. Cooked Veggies:
    • Asparagus
    • Green beans
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Roasted potatoes
    • Mushrooms
  5. Sauce:

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The possibilities are endless! I love that most of these things can be prepared ahead of time giving you a chance to take a break from cooking while still having an amazing meal. Also, if you prepare different ingredients, you can turn your meal into a DIY bowl where everyone can choose what they want to eat. Perfect and fun! Finally, this is the perfect option if you are on a cooking rut: this will keep you statisfied until you find something even more exciting! Let me know what your favourite fancy bowl is! Cheers!

Food Prep: avoid waste, save time + money!

Sometimes I feel like I spend my entire days in the kitchen either preparing something for the blog or something for lunches or dinner. It can be annoying to realize how much time you have to spend daily in the kitchen! A simple trick that I love is to food prep on Sunday afternoons. It really helps with avoiding food waste, with the cooking of the week, and it reduces food waste: if everything is ready to be eaten, you’ll eat it up! At first, you’ll think that spending an entire afternoon in the kitchen is really long, but it’s actually much more efficient and when you realize that you can spend about 5 minutes in the kitchen on busy weeknights, you’ll be convinced! It’s also a gentle transition from the weekend into the week. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed if you know that there is food already ready in your fridge come Monday. Here is what I do on Sunday afternoons.

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  1. Prepare your vegetables: Cut, wash, cook!
    • I love grating carrots and beets in big batches that I keep in my fridge. I can then add some to salads, stir fries, fancy bowls or smoothies. It’s much more simple to have them ready to go in the fridge then having to grate one carrot at a time as I need it. I do the same with lettuce, kale and any other veggie that I want to keep on hand. This makes eating healthier so much easier!
    • I also cook vegetables ahead of time. Onions, broccoli, asparagus, zucchinis, and potatoes will go in the oven before they find a home in containers. It’s much more efficient to cut everything up and to place everything at once in the oven time and energy wise. You can also batch-boil vegetables reusing the same boiling water. It is super practical: toss your veggies with some rice and you practically have a complete meal ready any day of the week!
    • I usually wash any vegetables that I’ll eat raw during the week. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this. Just place them in an air-tight container with some paper towel at the bottom to absorb extra water and they’re ready to go!
  2. Get your proteins ready: Marinate, broil, cook!
    • I like to marinate tofu ahead of time as it really makes it so much tastier. I like to cut my tofu up and prepare a few marinades in containers. I toss the tofu in, stir it up, and forget about it in the fridge. This is perfect because it will be ready to go for stir-fries or anything else I might be needing it for during the week. I also like to throw some in the oven and roast it so that my proteins for the first few meals of the week are ready. You can do the same thing with canned legumes.
    • If you are using dried legumes and beans, this is the perfect time to cook them up! I usually like to let them soak in water from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, cook them up and then freeze them in individual portions. That way, it’s just like using canned beans!
  3. Take care of sauces: mix it up!
    • Sauces are an easy way to make simple vegetables more exciting or the key to creating fancy vegan bowls. It’s also really fun to have a few alternatives ready to make each meal different. In air tight container, I find that most sauces or salad dressing will keep longer than a week, so you’re safe to go!

I hope these tips help you out! I really like putting some Gilmore Girls on (am I the only one who is crazy excited about the upcoming season?) and prepping everything up. Let me know what you like to prepare weekly and how you organize your food in your home! Oh, and don’t forget to participate in my super giveaway!