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Escape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteWhen you’re planning a family vacation you are faced with particular challenges. Planning for a couple or friends vacation is like a breeze. You can go anywhere, do anything and you don’t have to worry so much about entertaining anyone, but with kids… it’s different. Kids shouldn’t rule the decisions (and they generally don’t) but if you don’t consider them, they’ll rule your entire vacation.

Because we were planning for three we had a few must-haves on our list. #1: A kids club. No kids club = we’re not going. If you have one kid you know exactly what I’m talking about.  One kid means that you’re likely to be called on a lot to be the entertainment if there aren’t other kids around so we weren’t budging on this one, we needed some quiet vacation time too. #2: meals. Maybe not all meals but some because after a busy year with lots of changes, this was a great opportunity to kick back and we were looking forward to as little planning as possible this time around. Finally #3: Water. Lots and lots of swimming possibilities so we couldn’t get bored with a little side of snorkeling.

Lucky for us we found exactly what we needed and we were fortunate it also so happened to be in Crete, somewhere neither of us have ever been before.  Escape to Crete

Escape to CreteSo why will we be going back? Here’s why…Escape to CreteEscape to Crete

  1. The people:

You could not find a nicer bunch of people if you tried! A little Kaliméra to say good morning and efcharistó to say thank you will charm just about every Greek person you’ll encounter. The language is pretty hard for us foreigners so the efforts go a long way and they’re very open and kind. It didn’t matter if we were at the hotel or out in town everyone was helpful and they were always willing to give extra service without being asked, which we just weren’t used to.

Escape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to Crete      2. The scenery:

It is dry here! So dry. It’s a wonder anything survives but somehow it does and there is something so beautiful about the deep red ochres against the greeny-grey olive trees and succulents. I’m convinced just about every house had their own cluster of olive trees and I was certainly jealous. I found the change of colour scheme to be incredibly attractive and so very inspiring. All this set against the beautiful blue ocean. Come on! …and the sunsets? You know how they say sunsets in the prairies are beautiful? Okay I hear you. They are. But my goodness were these ever beautiful. I didn’t go out of my way to take any photos (just this one quick one at dinner – so it doesn’t really count) because for us it became a nightly event as a family so we all just watched in awe as it would set over the ocean every night. Don’t just take my word for it. Go see for yourself and grab a glass of something while you’re at it.

Escape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to Crete      3. The villages:

Their villages are small and often unassuming, in fact I was kinda worried at first, but they ended up really surprising me as they were so packed with charm and character once you stepped in. We expected to encounter more tourists and sure you’ll find some, but mostly you just felt the rhythm of Greek life and a very peaceful atmosphere. It seemed to me that about every restaurant was in some little alleyway or tucked in a corner full of colours and the aromas… YUM!  You’ll also find fishing is alive and well and watching the men and women who look like they are part of the landscape was incredible. You felt immediately taken. Also if you want to do a little shopping – I assure you your Euro’s are going much further than in France.

Escape to Crete      4. The beaches:

Don’t be fooled, the water can be rough! So rough in fact that for the first few days we actually couldn’t go in with the red flags flying. The weather, however, didn’t keep us from going out on the breakwaters and in the path of the ocean spray which would drench you at first hit. Many shrieks of joy ensued. Once the ocean calmed we were happy to float about on mattresses and try and see what was swimming below the surface of the water. The average water temperature was 28C, you can’t go wrong! As a warning though, many beaches are quite rocky and you may see a sea anemone here and there so sport some fashionable water shoes if you want to be comfortable or at very least, safe. Also – don’t skip the sunscreen and the hats. The UV is incredibly high, it’ll fool you if you aren’t one step ahead.

Escape to CreteEscape to Crete      5. Ease of getting around:

Getting around Greece was easy. We tested the local bus system to go to a town an hour away and it was simple, cheap and it was lightly air conditioned so we were all pretty relaxed by the time we arrived in Rhythmno. Taxi’s also have a lot of fixed rates so there are no surprises and are easy to find. Say you want to go a little further, well you can hop on a boat and easily find yourself in Santorini and that doesn’t sound too bad to me either. It is, after all, on my bucket list.

Escape to Crete      6. The possibilities:

Let’s be honest this was us getting our toes wet, next time we hope we’ll rent a car and really get out an explore! We’ve been advised it’s a great idea to get a 4×4 in order to go inland where some of the best sights are not to mention all the places we already wanted to check out along the shores. The gorge of Samaria is probably number 1 on my list. It’s a 16km hike down towards the Libyan sea ending with what are known as the Iron Gates and another beautiful beach. While we might have wanted to do it this time around, we knew it wouldn’t be possible with an 8 year old. Another thing on our list of to-do’s is WINE! Greece is putting itself back on the wine map after having carried a bad reputation for many years. They’re very inexpensive and what we tried was so vastly different from what we’re used to which was a nice change. When we go back we’ll definitely be hitting up a vineyard or two and we’re sure to do a little Greek mythology refresher beforehand because there’s lots to take in.

Hope you feel inspired to see for yourself!Escape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to CreteEscape to Crete

september capsule wardrobe experiment

It’s week two but it feels like I’ve been doing this for so much longer somehow. It still remains mostly easy though I have had moments where I’ve panicked because the weather, as anticipated, is nothing like I expected. It’s been in the 30’s all week and I’m hot so living in Sandals has been helpful but not having shorts is hard. I knew this might happen. I have been falling back on my yellow capris a lot and that has also been helpful. As was the case last week I’ve been enjoying my weekends for family/project time but I did manage to get a quick photo on Saturday (day 10.) Not a great one by any standards but instead of worrying about lighting etc I took one shot and left it at that. The three of us had biked a significant distance in the blazing heat to the top of this plateau where there was a beautiful lookout and I think I speak for Jeremie and I when I say we were more interested in our two cold beer and making sandwiches on our picnic than about taking a photo all hot and sweaty. It was just fine by me!

Things of note – I’ve decided that I LOVE my carrot pants. They’re so light and comfortable and I could wear them every day. I never thought I’d say that about a pair of pleated pants. If you haven’t tried a pair I recommend  you do. They’re versatile and pretty flattering both worn dressed up or down. Versatility for the win! Also, I bought these high waisted jeans when I went shopping with my mom in July and I have to say, they’re really growing on me. I was worried about high waisted anything as I’ve complained about stomach aches for years when things are sitting so high and I won’t say it’s perfect… but they’re pretty stretchy and actually not so tight on my stomach so I’m willing to accept a little change. I might also add that pants that don’t reveal my bum when I bend over in my 30’s is also greatly welcomed. 

Well I hope you guys are well into contemplating your own wardrobes. I’m curious to know what happens after this experiment is all over. Do I drastically overhaul my wardrobe and make a huge donation to a thrift shop? What will it feel like to bring everything back in? Maybe I won’t be able to go back to a regular wardrobe. I’ve bought a new sewing machine, perhaps I’ll have to tailor everything to be just-so. As usual I’d love your thoughts below!

september capsule wardrobe experimentseptember capsule wardrobe experimentseptember capsule wardrobe experimentseptember capsule wardrobe experiment

september capsule wardrobe experiment

Well can I just say day 2 was a dream. I woke up and knowing it would be hot out I could either choose between light pants or a skirt if I wanted to stay even remotely cool, so I chose a skirt. Two choices, that was it. I didn’t even think about the shirt I just saw what looked light and the outfit was made. Done. It was almost exhilarating.

Since day two? I have to admit it’s been that easy. Day 3 and 4 were during the weekend and so I’m sorry to say I only took off my “drywalling” clothes for an hour on Saturday just to run and get sushi in the village, Sunday I never actually put on any of my capsule wardrobe. I can happily say I remained in ripped jeans and a work shirt all weekend to try and get a few more things crossed off our VERY long to-do list for this house. I can now finally understand how it feels to get a really large piece of wallpaper ripped off in one go, and yes, it does feel great.

One unexpected turn in this experiment has been that taking daily photos, which I was honestly dreading, has been incredibly helpful. I didn’t like the idea of being photographed daily because it felt like it would be so self absorbed BUT it’s been so helpful. What exactly do I mean by “helpful?” I mean that every day I see myself from an outside perspective and it’s helping me to understand what’s not working for me and what I don’t particularly want to take forward in the future.  The importance of this information is pretty vital if I’m going to build a slimmed down wardrobe from this point on because I want the little details to work for me and not against me, keeping with the french art of putting myself “en valeur” (meaning to wear what brings value to your body.)  Also this week I’ve learned that somehow my skirt is too big and my black skinnies are driving my crazy and slipping about which makes for really awkward moments of me tugging at my pants all day long, this is new and entirely annoying. Here’s how things have looked since day 1. 

Have any of you decided to secretly embark on a capsule wardrobe or if you were going to do one what would be important for you in creating it? 

Day 1 capsule wardrobeDay 2 Capsule wardrobe

september capsule wardrobeseptember capsule wardrobe

september capsule wardrobeseptember capsule wardrobe

How to propagate Lavender to multiply your plants for freefrench gardening

Well summer is officially drawing to a close and the mornings are cool and you can smell fall already. It’s a little sad but I’m equally excited because there really is just something about the fall that feels like it ushers in “newness.” Perhaps it’s because we’re conditioned to start school in September and so we’ve forever made this connection. When it starts to cool down a little I get this urge to cut everything back in the yard and get it ready for the next growing season. This year felt particularly frustrating as awful caterpillars ravaged the cherry tree what felt like overnight in the beginning of spring to kick things off. Let’s focus on the positive, shall we? Two years ago in September I was riding my bike to the grocery store and I saw some Lavender growing along the road. I decided to grab a few sprigs from different plants to try my hand at propagating them back home and while I was at it I also got some sedum because I just love it and we didn’t have any. I’m happy to say two years later our Lavender cuttings are looking so full and healthy. Don’t you think? I must thank Jérémie for getting me into making cutting of different plants, I’m not sure I’d get so excited about it if he hadn’t shown me the way.lavender propagation

So why don’t you try. Now’s a great time of year to make some cuttings, be it from a neighbour or another plant you’ve got in the yard you want more of because I can tell you right now growing it from seed is a huge waste of time and I’m never doing it again. Ever. 

So grab some little pots, I love the ones pictured here which are made of coconut husks and found them particularly useful because you can plant them in the ground and somehow they made me feel like they were a little more insulated. If you find some try them out or go ahead and use whatever you have.  One thing I recommend though is make lots because it’s unlikely they’ll all survive. I found usually 3 out of 4 cuttings managed but just to be sure and I like to use many different varieties if I can. Besides, if you end up with too many just offer one to a friend. Who doesn’t love a free plant?

Fill your pots with well draining soil and use a pencil to create a little space along each corner to put the cuttings into without causing too much damage, they’re fragile little things! 

lavender propagation

Once your pots are ready you’re good to gather your lavender shoots, unless of course you had them tucked into a little plastic bag like I did the first time riding home from the village. This time around I’m going to make a bunch of different types again from true lavender, to aspic to lavandin because it’s nice to have variety and they tend to flower at different times. You’ll want to pick new shoots that aren’t flowering and then remove an inch or two of the leaves from the bottom so the plant can focus more on developing those roots! 

lavender cuttingsI have a little rooting hormone (which comes from tips of willow trees) because our regular soil here is VERY very sad and the more help the better. You can try without or make your own by soaking willow tips in water and then using that to water your cuttings (a little google search will do wonders). You decide what works for you. If you’re using rooting hormone try not to do it in the wind, or while you’re eating or drinking. Dip the tips into the powder and tap away excess and carefully place it into the little holes you created using the pencil. Gently fill in the holes with soil.
lavender propagation

Give your plants a little watering, it’s not a bad idea to cover them with a little mini greenhouse (ie – maybe a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off so it stays nice and warm but still gets to breath) for a couple weeks to get started. You can also plant these pots right into your garden if you like.

lavender propagation

Voila! They’re ready to go. You can see a little of the different varieties below as they’ve all got slightly different leaves. I also ended up putting other cuttings directly into the garden without the pots just to see how they’ll do in the different soil but nobody hold their breath, please.

lavender propagationNext! Sedum. Here’s one of the plants that we’ve got in the front yard and it’s so happy and so are the honeybees. Maybe one day we’ll make “succulent honey.” Is that a thing? Can we make it one?

These are easy as pie. Grab any of the leaves and pull downward from the base of it and try and get a little bit of the stem (honestly it won’t be much more than a film of it but it helps)

sedum propagation

Next make a little hole and stick the plant in, water it and wait. Don’t over water it, it is after all a succulent but every so often will make it go faster.

sedum propagation

This one grew so, so fast. You can still see the leaf it came from on the far left and it’s probably been a few months but again, plant a ton of them so you know you’ve got something coming. You can do the same with echeveria which we’ve also got going in other parts of the garden. Can’t wait for more of those!

After all was said and done I couldn’t stop myself and I cut off a branch of our fig tree which wasn’t looking so happy as of late and I put it in our test garden, it’s where we’ve put really great rich soil and we put random avocado pits in etc and see what comes up, to see if perhaps it would do better. I did end up taking off this big leaf in hopes to stop those awful looking spots in their tracks. Fingers crossed! Hope you guys are as excited about making cuttings in your garden as I am. You’ll have something good to look forward to next spring!

fig tree cutting

capsule experiment

Can we start a conversation? One about how long it takes to make what should otherwise be a simple decision? I’ve been on this trajectory for a while now, the one where I’m trying to simplify my life. This isn’t to say that I’m in any way a minimalist (though it does sound semi-appealing) but what I am saying is I’m tired. I’m tired of having too much stuff. I got a real taste for this when I moved into a little brick townhouse. It was smaller than anywhere I’d lived in and so I could only keep my favourites. It was such a breath of fresh air to have so little. It was a healing of sorts.

Well I admit that the desire started before the townhouse, in fact it started in 2010. I created photos of what clothes I loved that I already owned and a list of what I would really like, the investments I would eventually want to make so that what I wore would eventually feel like an expression of me and what I wanted out of a wardrobe.  I started to shop around… Enter huge life drama… Everything fell apart and the whole thing ended there. I stopped in my tracks.

Now fast forward a little bit and I’m traveling every month between Canada and France and as any of my friends and colleagues knew, I was on top of it. My Evernote app was full of images, as it has been since 2010, but now with what was in the house in France and in Canada so I could make good decisions when packing my suitcases and also so I wouldn’t have to buy more stuff. Having said that… my closet grew, though that was exactly what I was trying to avoid but life happens and it did. What I learned in 2010 though, was to take stock. I had an awareness of what I had and just how much it really came to be, which in the end made this easier to start back up again (sort of.)

But now that I’m entirely based in France and because I have the power to choose where I go from here I want to get back to the original concept. Less is more. Freedom is not having lots, it’s loving what you have in the best quality you can afford no more, no less. So I’m doing a trial for the month of September to feel this whole thing out. I haven’t bought anything new, it’s still same old wardrobe for now, which honestly isn’t so exciting. This will be a time to assess and learn and when I feel able and equipped I might eventually buy those long-life items that have been on the list for way too long and part ways with the low-self-worth-but-kept-me-decent items.

But if you’re anything like me, September brings with it a certain sense of new beginnings. There’s that cool air in the morning that captures this and I want to run with it. So I’m starting now, regardless of how unprepared I sometimes feel. I’m also going to create a morning ritual starting today. Not just an uncomplicated wardrobe but also the act of being thankful. I’ve got a new journal where I’ll start by writing out at least three things I’m grateful for at the beginning of my day. It’s my way of bringing more joy and simplicity into my life and remembering the small pleasures and perhaps the big ones too. What I have is enough. There is so much I want out of life but if you can’t choose joy now, you’ll forever be chasing it. 

Now before I present you with my month of clothes I’d like to say that this was, in fact, much more difficult than I imagined. As I tucked away what I wouldn’t be wearing this month I did feel a sense of loss knowing I can’t fall back on just anything. I can also say that as I went through my clothes I realized just how much of what I own does not work together very well and it isn’t as versatile as my life demands and that was frustrating. I’m sure I’ll bump into that hurdle as the month progresses even more. There was such a mish-mash of styles in my closet and it made me feel entirely confused so I’m hoping I can find some clarity through all this. So now begins the journey of growing into my own skin a little more and of eventually getting to a place where what I wear makes me feel like the best version of myself. I also hope that with a smaller closet I can get rid of some of the sense of “I have so many clothes but nothing to wear” feeling. In doing this I will also create a kind of accountability for myself to no longer purchase just because I have an immediate need but to really make thoughtful decisions in the future that align with my goals.

I’d love it if you would join me. If you’d like to share a comment below or attach photos if you’re participating I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the #thecapsuleexperiment.

 

Capsule Wardrobe

  • September 2, 2016 - 00:17

    Becky - I love this idea! This inspires me to give it a try someday too! I’ve lived out of a suitcase for a year (but wasn’t working so that simplified things a bit), and at another time had only a handful of things after a fire. It made me realize how little I really needed, and yet somehow I can’t bring myself to narrow my permanent wardrobe into something simple.ReplyCancel

    • September 2, 2016 - 10:37

      Christina - Oh you should totally try it. I have to say yesterday I was a little worried how it might go but this morning I woke up, I knew it would be hot out and I only have two bottoms that are lighter weight and then I picked a lightweight shirt and it was just too easy. I actually really enjoyed it which I don’t usually. Sounds almost silly but I guess I would just rather think about other things and enjoy the rest of my life a little more but it’s true that when you’re forced to have less you experience it in some way or another too. I did find narrowing it down the hardest part too though, that was less fun.ReplyCancel