Book Club: March, April & May

Book Club March, April and May >> Life In Limbo

This year, every few months I am choosing the books that inspired me or spoke to me the most, and sharing a little bit about them here on the blog. As always, you can see everything I’m reading on my Goodreads profile!

I’m playing a bit of catch-up, because I was travelling from March to late July of this year. You can see my favourite books from June and July here.

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I adored this book. I had liked Amy in a vague way before reading this (note: but I had never seen Parks & Recreation!), but afterwards I not only loved her, but I admired her and respected her for her wisdom and grace. She is a smart, down-to-earth, beautiful soul who has so much great advice to share with us. This advice includes the Mantra Of 2015 (“Good for her, not for me”), and this: “Ambivalence is key. You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

2. Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein

I read this after it was recommended in 10% Happier (a book about meditation). Going to Pieces is an introduction to zen Buddhism mixed with Western psychotherapy, so it talks a lot about the practice of non-attachment and letting go. All these months later I don’t remember many specifics from the book, but I remember really liking it (and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads!). I liked that it laid out Buddhist principles in a simple way and that the author was honest about experiences from his own life, including the ones at 10 day silent meditation retreats.

3. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I remember reading this on my phone from the Kindle app on a park bench in Bangkok’s Lumphini Park. I read it quickly, and enjoyed the basic premise: less but better. It’s geared more towards work situations (taking on fewer, better projects) than possessions, but the basic principles are pretty universal. I found it refreshing to read sentences like “I can’t have it all or do it all”, “Only a few things really matter”, and “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will”. I always like to be reminded of these kinds of important ideas so I can be more intentional in my life, so for that reason I liked the book a lot.

4. In The Woods by Tana French

I don’t usually read murder mysteries, but this book blew me away. I picked up my copy from a book exchange at a cute little restaurant on Koh Chang, brought it along with me to Koh Mak, and promptly devoured it in about a day. It’s relatively long, but is the very definition of a page turner and goes by so quickly. I found it to be creepy, compelling, and very readable. I loved watching the mystery get solved step by step, and the behind-the-scenes look at a police investigation. Based on this book, I am currently reading her Faithful Place and a couple weeks ago I tore through Broken Harbour.

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You can see all my book recommendation blog posts here.

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Inspiration | August 28

This acoustic-ish Drake cover is my new favourite song.

I made a video of my time in Southeast Asia! I love to watch it because it reminds me of all the wonderful adventures I’ve been lucky enough to have.

I love this adorable tiny home.

A handy dandy little guide to living your values.

I’ve been working my way through the archives of a few blogs this week. First, this sweet blog – I love the tips on how to live in small spaces and how to make your space beautiful. Also loving Be More With Less.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I found these Ikea puns hilarious.

I planned my first capsule wardrobe using this free planner! I am hoping to start officially wearing it in October.

Whenever I get the tools, this will be my first quilting project, without a doubt.

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I’m spending this weekend downtown Toronto with great friends, great food and (hopefully) great weather. I’m excited to celebrate one friend’s birthday and take another’s yoga class. This past week I spent a bit too much time sitting and staring at a computer screen, in a consuming state of mind. I want to recommit to being outside, being creative, and being grateful for what I have. Have an awesome weekend!

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Inspiration | August 23

I read a lot of articles on C’est Christine this week and they were inspiring as usual. This one in particular has a lot of great life advice.

I may have shared this before but I don’t mind sharing it again: the beauty and simplicity of The Moral Bucket List.

I always want more tips on how to find cheaper airfare!

A seriously inspiring blog about living with less waste. I read the entire thing in one night and wanted to buy all the non-disposable containers! Related was this podcast episode, also amazingly inspiring.

A wonderful little film about what’s really important in life. “I try to collect moments”.

This week I committed to the habit of flossing daily. I loved this article on how to be a better flosser and the tip to tie the ends of your string of floss together so that you don’t have to wrap it so tightly around your fingers – game changer!

More than halfway through my 2015 reading challenge, only one book behind schedule! Any book recommendations for me?

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Life lately has been a lot of family time, which I’m thrilled about. It’s so wonderful to be back around my sisters and my parents and to do little everyday things with them like buy groceries or get ready for a dinner out together. My days have been very quiet and slow, a lot of reading and thinking and not a lot of leaving the (paradise) house. I’m gearing myself up though: a few more days of relaxing, then I’m spending a weekend in Toronto, then a weekend in New York to visit friends, then my boyfriend arrives (!) for a few weeks of fun. It’s going to be hectic but it will be so wonderful too. I’m just trying to remember to stay present and mindful every step of the way.

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Chiang Mai & Pai, Thailand

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I don’t have a lot of photos from Chiang Mai, because the majority of our time spent there was during Songkran, a massive yearly water festival for Thai New Year. It was total madness, but a lot of fun. People spend a week spraying each other with water guns, dumping buckets of water on each other’s heads, and of course drinking cold Chang all day. The water fighting is supposed to stop after sundown, but after friends of mine were stuck on a corner for an hour waiting for the guys with buckets to go away so that they wouldn’t be totally soaked for dinner, we quickly learned that we were never safe. That being said, the water festival is purposefully held at the absolute hottest time of year (40C+) so it was refreshing too. Also it was so fun because I was in Chiang Mai with two great friends from Korea and my sister, who joined me for the Thailand portion of my trip!

A highlight of our time in Chiang Mai was a day spent at the Elephant Nature Park. We were very lucky to squeeze in a reservation (so book early!) and got to spend a day with the elephants out at their beautiful property surrounded by mountains. Lindsay and I love elephants but didn’t want to ride them, so this park was perfect: you get to bathe them, feed them, take photos with some of them, and just watch them be themselves. They are all rescue elephants so many are disabled, and their stories break your heart. It’s just a pretty special place to be.

Then we headed up to Pai in a minibus and had an absolutely beautiful time there. We rented little scooters for the week, learned how to ride them, and spent most of our time riding around the quiet country roads looking at the gorgeous scenery, out to waterfalls and around fields of flowers. We didn’t love Pai town, it was fairly full of Western tourists of the hippie variety. But we did have some nice nights walking down the market street and ducking into bars with live music.

They were hot, summery days with absolutely beautiful sunsets and lots of laughs. We were still settling into our travel lifestyle, but I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Favourites:

Chiang Mai

Taste From Heaven: Very delicious vegetarian food!

The UN Irish Pub: They have a lovely garden terrace with fairy lights and yummy (Western) food.

Bamboo Bee: Some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had! I’d had this tiny little hole-in-the-wall recommended to me by lots of different people and it lived up to all the hype. Order the Khao Soi.

The Sunday Walking Street Market: Where we had some of our favourite pad Thai from a street vendor, gorged ourselves on mango sticky rice, bought beautiful scarves and had smoothies. There is a peaceful temple courtyard where food vendors set up on Sundays and sell all kinds of goodies. I wished that this market was every day, except that in the evening you could hardly walk down the street for all the people (but remember too that it was Songkran).

The Riverside Bar: So much fun. They have a beautiful terrace overlooking the water, an awesome cover band were playing, lots of candlelight and lanterns, and a great mix of Thai people and foreigners.

Pai

Big’s Little Café: A tiny place on the main market street with unpredictable hours (often we’d show up just as he was closing) but really delicious food made with fresh ingredients and a charming chef.

A strawberry shake at Love Strawberry Pai: This place is the definition of a tourist trap but we had fun there. The shakes are huge and sweet but perfect to split.

Pam Bok Waterfall: This was our favourite waterfall. It was small but not crowded, stunning, had a small cliff jump, was cool for those scorching days, and very beautiful. We would go for a dip and then get back on our bikes with wet suits underneath our dresses to dry off.

The Land Split: On your way to Pam Bok is this small property called the Land Split (you can’t miss the signs) where a family have set up a by-donation rest stop. Their generosity is astounding: as soon as you come in, they tell you to sit on the hammocks and bring you a huge spread of fresh food, all homemade: rosella juice, tamarind jam, roasted sweet potatoes, papaya, roasted peanuts, plantain chips, and rosella wine.

Secret Garden Bar: You have to go down a long hallway and you come out into a little courtyard where there are delicious drinks, cushions, a colourful proprietor and live music.

Café Boomlicious: Where I had the best bruschetta of my life with feta and homemade pesto, amen. Such fresh, good food here.

Na’s Kitchen: Wonderful Thai food.

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