Beautiful Books I’ve Read Recently

Book Review, Design, Monthly Favourites

Beautiful Books I've Read Recently: A Handful of Books to Inspire You

I have had the pleasure of reading a bunch of beautiful books over the last few months. Today, I’ll be sharing a few that I think you’ll enjoy!

1) A Monster Calls

This book BROKE me. A Monster Calls is the illustrated story of a boy coping with his dying, terminally ill mother. I don’t remember the last book that made me cry so much. But in addition to being heartbreaking, it was also incredibly sweet and beautiful. It discussed the topic of grief in a unique way. Jim Kay’s illustrations were lovely, as always. A Monster Calls is a book that will make you want to give your loved ones some big hugs. 

2) Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

I couldn’t help but throw in a couple of the design books I’ve recently enjoyed. Just My Type is an entertaining guide to fonts, interspersed with stories about the history and drama of type. Whether you’re a type nerd or not, this book is a fun and helpful one for any designer’s shelf.

3) Paper Girls Vol. 1

If visual storytelling is your cup of tea, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Paper Girls is a must-read. It tells the story of a squad of newspaper girls who suddenly find themselves transported from 1998 to a very strange 2016. The art in this series is STUH-NING, coloured in this super cool, muted-sunset sort of palette. Can’t wait for more!

4) How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul (New Expanded Edition)

Yay, another design book! This one has been recommended to me as a must-read for all designers. And having read it, I wholeheartedly agree. How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul is a guidebook for designers of all experience levels. Specifically, Adrian Shaughnessy how to be a designer from a business perspective, using his personal experiences to illustrate his points. I highly recommend this book!

5) The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a crazy beautiful book. It’s a spooky fantasy story, that reads almost like a children’s book, but with a more adult perspective. It’s a really quick read for if you don’t have a ton of time to read for fun. Prepare to be equal parts inspired and creeped out.

Anyway, friends, that’s all I’ve got today — just a quick shortie post for you! More soon. xo

More soon. xxoo

a pair of coloured mandalas from my mandala meditation colouring book

Books to Inspire Your Year

Monthly Favourites

Happy Monday! In my 2016 Goal Setting post, I expressed that one of my goals for the new year is to curate my media. And a big chunk of that media is books. I read a LOT, but over the last year, I found that I wasn’t reading a great many things that had some big impact on me or left me feeling inspired. I want to read more books that improve my quality of life.

I want to feel inspired every day, and inspiration doesn’t always come to you; sometimes you have to go to it. 2016 has, thus far, been off to a brilliant start. Erik and I just finished reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (a somewhat sad achievement, because we’ve slowly been working our way through it over the last year and it has become a source of inspiration and comfort during that time) and I’m now beginning to make my way through Guns, Germs, and Steel. If you’re also in the market for some inspirational reading material, here are some books to get you started.

1) Mandala Meditation Coloring Book

While this isn’t technically a book that one reads, I was so excited about it that I just had to share. 

2015 was the year of adult colouring. Nearly every bookstore I visited during the holiday season had giant tables devoted to adult colouring books and a variety of colouring accoutrements. And let me tell you, I drank the Kool-aid. I am now the proud owner of three colouring books, but this Mandala Meditation one quickly became my favourite.

I’ve always loved mandalas. Just to look at one is a peaceful experience, as your eyes trace the intricate patterns. Traditionally, they’ve been used as a tool for spiritual guidance, to help the viewer find a sacred or meditative state. And, super cool, they represent the cosmos, symbolizing a “microcosm of the universe” (Wiki’s words, not mine). But even if you aren’t thinking about all of these things while you’re colouring, it’s easy to get lost in the act of systematically colouring each component of the mandala.

I like to pick a colour scheme by choosing a few markers or pencil crayons that I want to use, and then work from the inside out, choosing one component of the mandala to colour, and working my way around the circle before moving to next outer ring. Let me know if you end up trying it out!

2) The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is Gretchen Rubin’s story of how she planned a year of becoming a happier person. For each month of the year, she chose an aspect of her life that she wanted to improve, and then set specific attainable goals to tackle that month that she felt would help facilitate this improvement. 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I bought when I was feeling particularly down, during a time in my life when my depression was at its worst. Oddly, during that time, I couldn’t bring myself to read it, and since then, I’ve been saving it in case another such time crops up and I feel like I truly need it. However, I’ve been hearing about it with odd frequency lately, from a few friends and family members. So, while I’m not feeling too shabby at the moment, it still feels like an appropriate time to read it. I love a good action plan. I love structure. And I love seeing somebody create a sweet ass plan and carry it out. I’m excited to read this. 

3) A Short History of Nearly Everything

I am a big fan of origin stories. The beginnings of an adventure always seem to be the most exciting for me. And there doesn’t seem to be an adventure more epic than the evolution of the universe. 

Bill Bryson’s writing style is so charming and funny. He discusses a broad range of subjects including the origins of the universe, scientific history, physics, and other subjects that might be considered dry or difficult, in a simplified, easy-to-understand, and entertaining way. There have been many moments where I’ve laughed out loud and had to whip out a highlighter for the funniest or most mindblowing bits. 

4) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This is one of the books that I’m currently reading. In my 2016 Goals post, I also mentioned that I wanted to declutter my life a little bit. I can be a bit of a collector at times, and I hope this book will help me learn to more easily let go of things that are no longer serving me. I’ve heard lots of great things about this book, and I’m excited to see the impact it has on how I tidy. I’ve already culled my bookshelves, organized my socks and underwear drawers, and accumulated 3 garbage bags of things to take to my next clothing swap! 

5) Guns, Germs, and Steel

Look! Another origin story! While “A Short History of Nearly Everything” covers the more scientific aspects of history, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” tackles the more human side of our history, beginning with our origins in Africa, to where we are today. This book has been on my radar for years, and Erik has been recommending it to me for nearly as long; now that I’m finally reading it, I’m thinking, “Man, why didn’t I get to this sooner?” 

6) Brave Enough

Brave Enough is a book of quotes from Cheryl Strayed’s other books. Strayed explains in the introduction to the book that she’s always been somebody who collected quotes and this collection has been an important part of her life. So she compiled this book of her own quotes, most of which I found really inspiring and awesome. Cheryl Strayed seems to have a very cool, unique world-view, and Brave Enough has made me excited to read some of her other non-fiction works, specifically, “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things”. 

I hope the you’ll find something to inspire and uplift you here. And if you have any suggestions for inspirational reading material, I would love your recommendations. More soon! xxoo

A nice tall glass of cucumber water, garnished with a cucumber slice, featuring my glass straw

My Favourite Summer Health Products

Monthly Favourites, Product Review

Bonjour, lovely people! If, like me, you live in the GTA, you may have been subject to some wet and chilly weather over the past weekend. Oddly, I quite enjoy a nice rainy weekend, during which I enjoy putting my feet up, drinking a butt ton of tea, and binge reading. Here’s to hoping you all spent your weekend enjoying similar comfort! I’m off to work for the rest of the afternoon and before I depart, I want to leave you with my Summer Favourites, a list of the health related tidbits that I’ve been enjoying over the past couple months. I haven’t done one since last November! You may notice that all of my favourite things are food related. I guess it’s pretty clear where my priorities lie.

1) Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting

I am in love with this book. About the first two-thirds of the book is dedicated to advice for improving your digestion and lifestyle over the course of several weeks. The final third is full of amazing recipes complete with a 10-day meal plan to help get you started on your wellness journey. I’m planning on posting a full review within the next week or two, so stay tuned for that!

Cover shot of the "Joyous Health" cookbook by Joy McCarthy

2) Chai Rooibos Organic Tea by Yogi

I can never stay faithful to any one kind of tea for very long, but this tea is the one I am loving right now. It is spicy, sweet, and feels a bit like dessert when you get smacked with late night cravings. I enjoy mine with a splash of almond milk. My kitty, Sonny Wa, was desperate to be in every shot I took of this tea, so I decided to just leave him to it.

Chai Rooibos tea by Yogi (my tabby cat is lounging in the background)

3) Genuine Health Proteins+ vanilla whey protein powder

So, this is my favourite protein powder ever. It makes EVERYTHING I put it in taste like a vanilla milkshake! My dear friend Saar hooked me up with a container for my birthday at the end of June, and I probably only have half a serving left, if I’m lucky. My only advice would be, if you add this protein powder to your smoothies, to drink it right away (which you should do anyway for maximum nutrient density) as I find it becomes weirdly sweet if left for too long.

Genuine Health Proteins+ Vanilla Whey Protein Powder

4) My glass straw

Every morning, I have a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. This amazing practice aids in detoxifying the liver, and cleansing the digestive tract. All that acid, however, can be quite harsh on the teeth, so I picked up a glass straw to help out with that. I wouldn’t advise using a glass straw for a smoothie unless you have a straw cleaning brush (which I don’t) because I imagine all those little berry seeds and fibres can get stuck to the inside of the straw. But it is super fun for drinking everything else!

A nice tall glass of cucumber water, garnished with a cucumber slice, featuring my glass straw

5) Styrian Gold Austrian pumpkin seed oil

I first discovered this oil at the Raw Vegan Festival last summer. I tried it at their stall and right away, I knew I had to take home a bottle. It was gone SO fast. It has such a lovely nutty flavour and tastes good drizzled on all things savoury (I have yet to try it on sweet things, so I’ll have to give that a shot soon). I don’t know where you can find it in stores, but if you come across it in your travels, be sure to sample!

Beautiful dark green glass bottle of Styrian Gold Austrian pumpkin seed oil

November 2013: A Few of My Favourite Things

Monthly Favourites

Hi everyone! I’m hoping to start putting together a monthly list of my favourite products, books, documentaries, foods, and anything else that catches my fancy. I know, its practically halfway through December, but here are some things that I really enjoyed over the last month!

1) Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Liquid Soap: Dr. Bronner’s has been my go to body wash for a while now, because it has so many awesome qualities. Not only is it fair trade and against animal testing, its got a pretty stellar ingredient list (Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Lavandin Extract, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol). It can also be used for just about any cleaning job you can think of including shampooing your hair, as a laundry detergent, or for scrubbing all that porcelain in you bathroom. I even used the almond scented kind to brush my teeth with once, in a desperate situation, though I recommend not doing this because, as amazing as its ingredients are, it still tasted like licking a bar of soap.

I’ve been loving my before-bedtime showers lately, because the lavender scent is so soothing. Lavender is known for its calming, sedative effect which may be beneficial for anxiety and depression, headaches, and insomnia. When applied topically, it is also antiseptic which makes it great for speeding up the healing time of scrapes and cuts, in decreasing the appearance of scars, and helping to treat skin problems (eg. dry and itchy skin, eczema, acne, burns, etc).

bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in lavender scent

2) Blackfish: My boyfriend and I sat down to watch this documentary sometime last week, and loved it. Its about the psychological damage done to whales held in captivity, the effects of that damage, and how frustrating, cruel, and horrifying their lives are. It was heartbreaking, but definitely a must-watch. You can find the trailer HERE

3) Algonquin Tea Company – Sacred Blend (Vision Community Clarity): The list of ingredients in this tea is short and sweet – white pine, sweet grass, and sage. In a world where most tea blends contain fillers, GMOs, pesticides, and other nasty ingredients, Algonquin Tea Company is an amazing find. All of their ingredients are “handpicked, organic, and ethically wildcrafted in the Canadian wilderness”. How flipping cool is that? This specific blend is meant to be used for meditation, but I’ve mostly been enjoying it before bedtime since its naturally caffeine-free and promotes nice, tranquil feelings.

box of Sacred Blend tea for vision, community, and clarity from The Algonquin Tea Company

4) Giddy Yoyo Raw Chocolate: Good quality cacao is a serious superfood, my friends. Some of its super powers include:

  • improving cardiovascular and digestive health
  • lowering blood pressure
  • protecting the body from free radical damage
  • improving mental and physical well-being

Giddy Yoyo cacao is impeccably sourced, and their chocolate is a heavenly thing to behold. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the creators of Giddy Yoyo on a couple of different occasions, and the love and care that goes into creating their product is pretty darn inspiring. If you ever have the chance to hear them speak, you should go for it. They always seem to have tons of free chocolate for their audience to sample. I managed to score one of their chocolate bars in orange flavour (though I think I’ve tried all of them by now) at one of their recent talks and it was SO good, I forgot to take a picture for you. But here is the link to their website in case you wanted to track down a local distributor. 

5) Green Eggs and Yams: Including a good quality source of protein in your breakfast is essential for balancing blood sugar, curbing those cravings that tend to come up later in the day, and keeping you full and energized until lunch time. This recipe also makes a great winter breakfast because it helps you get your veggies in early in the day without having to resort to chillier options (Ahem, green smoothie, I am looking at you. Not to say that I don’t love a green smoothie, of course). You’ll find the recipe down below. 

green scrambled eggs on a plate with discs of roasted sweet potato

Green Eggs and Yams
  1. 4 organic, free-run eggs
  2. 1 cup of your favourite greens (eg. spinach, kale, swiss chard)
  3. 1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1/4 cup of organic goat cheese
  5. sea salt and pepper to taste
  6. 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  1. Throw the first 5 ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Preheat a pan over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil.
  3. Once coconut oil is melted, pour in the egg and vegetable mixture.
  4. As the eggs begin to solidify in the pan, stir until they've reached your favourite scrambled egg consistency.
  5. Serve with a side of roasted sweet potato, or any other favourite veggie!
Annemarie Dixon