Category Archives: THOUGHTS

New Year’s Resolution: 365 Reasons to Give Thanks

The ball dropped. Did you see it? Within a quick ten second countdown, the clocks struck midnight and we were once again faced with a new year. Besides the cliche horn-blowing and excessive hugging, I always love those first few moments of the new year. It marks a simplicity that I cherish. For those first few moments, the complicated build-up of the past twelve months seems to disappear and I am once again greeted with a fresh start that is liberating and unknown. Even though it is really just another day, the new year gives us the opportunity to start anew. It’s magical, really.

I always make a New Year’s Resolution. Sure, it’s cliche to do so, but it doesn’t have to be. In past years, I have made those typical resolutions–exercise more, start a new hobby, go on a diet–and like many others, I have failed to keep them. But for the past 4 years, I have challenged myself to make more practical resolutions that will make me a better person. Resolutions that are actually tough to do, but will reward my character. Change my thinking. Inspire me to become a more joyful person. And I’m happy to say that I have been pretty good at keeping those resolutions. So much so, that I look forward to not only making, but keeping them each year.

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My first “real” resolution was to be more optimistic. It was inspired by a thought I had one summer when I realized that I was putting too many expectations on myself, and instead wasn’t appreciating the moments that came–how they came. I realized that being happy required removing any expectations from particular experiences and instead finding that great parts that just happened. That year, I obviously still had my down days but I was generally a more joyful person. I learned to appreciate friends, moments, tough times. Life. That resolution changed my entire attitude.

The next year, my resolution was to devote more personal time to be spent with Jesus. This resolution scared me. It was vague and quite challenging. I had never really had a relationship with God that was so personal–before I just spent lots of time going to church, hearing messages, attending youth group, and listening to other people talk about how God spoke to them. But I knew that I needed a more personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. I didn’t know how to tackle this resolution, but I quickly became really keen on journalling and reading straight from the Bible. It was an incredible year. I look back on it now and realize how imperative it was in making me who I am today. I learned so much about Jesus and myself in that year that I don’t even think I could express it in words.

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Last year, my resolution took a way more practical approach. A friend introduced me to this incredible book called “Everyday Justice” by Julie Clawson. As I read through the book, my heart was stirred by the way in which our everyday choices impact so many people around the world–people we are called to love. It exposed me to the horrors that other people face because of the clothes I buy, the food I consume, and the waste I produce. I was heartbroken but also inspired. As a result, I challenged myself to go an entire year without buying any new clothing. Not because I wanted to save money (which I did–double bonus!), but because I wanted to force myself to own up to my impacts and research how I could change them. By the end of the year, I had made some clothing purchases, but the majority of them were from thrift stores or places I had extensively researched and knew were fair to those who produced them. I also had developed a new hobby in sewing as I even opted to make some of my own clothing here and there. It was an incredible experience and I know I will never go back to just buying the most cost efficient (for me) shirt I can find.

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So that brings me here. 2013. I thought about this year’s resolution for quite some time, as I wanted an equally practical and spiritual challenge. I am once again intimidated by this year’s challenge, as it requires a daily commitment. But I am also excited and inspired by it. So this year, I am going to attempt to do a photo challenge called

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My resolution is to take at least one photo every single day that represents something I am thankful for. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this resolution. First of all, I don’t exactly pride myself on my photography skills (if you could even call them that). But like many other things, I know that learning good photography requires time, experience, and experimentation. It is something I enjoy and am definitely interested in learning more about, so I made a resolution that forces me to use my camera. Second of all, I chose this resolution because I’ve come to realize that the majority of my prayer time with God is spent asking. I want to take the moments to quiet my mind and just praise God for his faithfulness. Photographing, editing, and writing about these things that I am thankful for will hopefully give me that time to simply thank Jesus.

I have decided to keep myself accountable for this resolution by posting my photos on here. I have created a page under the ABOUT section that is specifically designated for this challenge. I will update it as frequently as I can with the photographs I have captured.

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I can’t wait to see what I learn from this year’s resolution. It is such a blessing to be able to challenge ourselves to grow and evolve and learn. I know there are great things in store for all of us in the year ahead. Bring it on, 2013.

What are your resolutions? What have some of your past resolutions been?

Happy New Year, everyone. May you experience joy in new ways in this year ahead!

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Many Reasons To Give Thanks

This past weekend, people across Canada celebrated Thanksgiving with the ones that they love. Most Thanksgiving celebrations involve turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie (…lots of pumpkin pie), but I didn’t get to indulge in this tasty feast this year. My family and I packed our bags and hit the road enroute to our nation’s capital, Ottawa, instead. Even though we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving the traditional way, I still have many reasons to give thanks. Freedom. Beauty around me. Family. Laughs. Good health. Jesus. The list goes on and on. So in honour of giving thanks, I wanted to share some photos from our weekend road trip that represent some of the reasons why I am truly thankful.

I have such a beautiful and fun family. I am so thankful for the times we spend together and the adventures we find ourselves in. Life truly is beautiful and there is always a way to find a smile each and every day.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, friends (Canadian or not!)

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The Wonderful World of Print: Print-spirations!

I’m feeling blessed today. Over the past few months, I have been struggling with the idea of going back to school. When I finished last semester in April, I was bound and determined that I didn’t want to continue my degree. I felt frustrated with school. I felt uninspired. It felt like a waste of my time…time that could surely be spent in much more worthwhile ways. All summer I wrestled with the idea of continuing. I lacked motivation and direction. But after a significant amount of time and prayer spent considering my options, I decided to enrol in course anyways and leave the actual “decision making” to a later date. Well, it’s no surprise that the “decision making” time came around, and it came around quick.

Needless to say, I’ve opted to head back to school. I never have and never will for one moment regret or disregard the value of an education, regardless of what it’s in. In the past two years, I have learned more about the world around me and about myself than I have in all my other years of existence. I’ve discovered my passions, my direction, my holy discontents, and all that lies between. I appreciate all of that, no matter how stressful and overwhelming “school” may be. I was sick of “wasting” my time just learning, learning, learning, instead of doing something about the things that bother me and the things that fire me up. But I truly believe that heading back to school is where I’m meant to be. I have more learning, more discovering, and more exploring ahead of me before I embark on the mission ahead of me.

Anyways, let’s get back to the purpose of this post. I start my first class tomorrow. This year I get to begin specializing in my area of choice and I have opted to explore the wonderful world of printmaking. Ever since I started print courses two years ago, my heart has been in it completely. The process is so physical, yet magical. Today I had a chance to sit down and do some brainstorming for the year ahead. I have decided to share with you some of the pieces that have been inspiring me and will (hopefully) pop up in some of my work this year.

Anything and everything grid. I love the grid composition. It’s a way of organizing and categorizing that is so visually appealing. I love this illustration which is organized, yet still has a little bit of chaos.

Natural vs. Unnatural. I love the play between detailed and graphic in this image. I also love that it involves a natural subject entangled in a web of almost unnatural colour. They create a very interesting and beautiful contrast.

Text. Doodling and journalling words is one of my favourite things to do. Words have such a dominant voice, so when paired with aesthetic beauty (or ugliness), they speak even more strongly. I particularly love the use of only black ink with lots of line and movement in this print.

Collage. I have always loved collage. I particularly love it in print, because the printed layers are collaged in and of themselves. I love when artists accentuate these layers, offering the viewer a glimpse into the process of creation. I love this image where a few unlikely images are paired with graphic block-outs and line.

Windows to the soul. I love untraditional frames in print. I adore how this artist offered us a glimpse through a window overlooking this scene, while also playing with the subject matter of a child’s silhouette. It gives more interest and meaning to the piece.

The boundaries of print are limitless. I love these approaches and can’t wait to get creating my own works. What are some of the things you like about print? Are there any approaches you want to incorporate into your work?

Happy back-to-school (or not)! I hope you are all having a beautiful and inspired week.

I found these images primarily on Pinterest, so I can’t locate the original source. Sorry!

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Diary of a Cookie Cutter

Have you ever moved? You spend hours upon hours packing up boxes, organizing all of your belongings into appropriate categories, and gathering friends and family to help with the heavy lifting. Eventually you reach your new home, only to find it completely empty with the huge task of settling in looming above your head. Where do you start? Will you ever feel settled again?  These are a few of the questions that you ask yourself as you prepare to unpack.

Although I have only moved houses once in my lifetime, I have recently asked myself these unsettling questions. As you may or may not know, I am an aspiring baker. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time creatively exploring my future in the art of baking. From brainstorm journals to e-courses, research to daydreaming, I have been striving to develop a business. I’ve been taking custom baking orders for a couple of years now, but now that my work is getting “out-there”, I am looking for new ways that I can create a brand for my products that is appealing to my future customers. One aspect of this is developing a social media experience that is simple and easily accessible.

The move I’ve made involved relocating from one virtual kitchen to another. I have been operating a blog through Tumblr called Diary of a Cookie Cutter that chronicles some of my adventures in baking. Tumblr worked really well for my needs in the past, but now that I am passing out the web address as my main form of contact for potential customers, I needed a system that was more organized and easy to navigate. Since I have been hosting this blog on WordPress for nearly eight months now, I decided that my other blog needed to make the move.

Needless to say, I have been spending oodles of time trying to settle into my new kitchen. It’s hard to transfer a couple of year’s worth of baking posts to a new place, so I have decided to leave the majority of them at their old home and have created a link to the new blog.

So I am starting to settle into my new blog. The essentials have been unpacked and the rest will come slowly but surely. I’ve developed a Gallery that features various albums of some of my baked goods. I’ve also created a very specific Contact page that contains all the information needed for customers to contact me. I have even created a Recipe Archive (similar to this site) and a more baking-specific About page.

I’ve already created three posts at my new home. “The Story of a Cookie-aholic” gives an overview of my purpose for re-locating as well as gives a little background information about my love for baking. “The Top Five Tastes of Summer” counts down my five favourite summer bakes so far. And finally, “Go Bananas: Chunky Monkey Cupcakes” is my very first recipe post and is littered with numerous photos of some tasty banana cupcakes. I’m excited to share even more and more as I explore flavour combinations and test lots of recipes.

If you are interested in the baking-aspect of A SMILE EACH DAY, I suggest that you hop on over to The Diary of a Cookie Cutter. It contains even more posts about delicious and tempting treats.

So once again, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate your patience as I get my belongings unpacked. I hope that you are all finding lots of smiles each and every day!

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One Lovely Honour

Today is a special day. Not because it actually rained for the first time all summer. Not because I spent an hour dodging carts in a chaotic Costco. And not because I slaved over a couple dozen teapot-shaped sugar cookies. Today is special because I have the honour of accepting the One Lovely Blog Award.

A couple of months ago, Jessica from Defining Wonderland was kind enough to nominate my blog for this honour. Jessica is a writer who shares her very insightful thoughts on friendship, family, romance, and life. Her blog is rocking some awesome content and I strongly suggest you head over her way to check it out for yourself. Thank you, Jessica, for considering my blog for this award!

So what exactly does this all mean? That’s a good question. First of all, I’ve been told that I must share seven random facts about myself. I’ve done this once before (with a different award) so I suppose I should share seven different secrets. Here goes…

ONE: I am a journal-a-holic. I have a spiritual journal, a visual journal, a random thoughts journal, a future journal, an inspiration journal, and a questions journal. You may think that’s excessive but I can honestly say that I utilize every single one, each for its intended purpose.

TWO: I used to hate Twitter. I thought it was so stupid. However, I signed up for an account in March and have been addicted ever since. I’ve nearly reached 600 tweets already…(by the way, feel free to follow me at @amberwide)

THREE: I have a feather extension in my hair and have had it since January.

FOUR: If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to Iceland. It is such an underestimated destination but has such natural beauty and a rich history. I also wouldn’t mind touring the countryside of England and Ireland. One day…one day.

FIVE: I hardly ever draw in my sketchbook. You could pretty much consider me the worst art student ever. Let’s just say my creative energy extends into my baking, sewing, knitting, and photographing instead. If I do add something to my sketchbook, it’s usually some type of flower drawing or doodle that was done on a scrap piece of paper and glued in after the fact.

SIX: I carry oodles of snacks in my purse. From rice cakes to soda crackers, bananas to granola bars–I’ve always got the grumblies covered!

SEVEN: My summer reading list includes Emma by Jane Austen, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

So now what? I get the honour of nominating my very own picks for the One Lovely Blog Award! I’ve been lucky to find some very awesome blogs out there in the big-bad-blogosphere so I feel honoured to be able to pass this on.

Abbie chronicles all of the hilarious adventures (or misadventures) of her three boys on her blog All That Makes You…. I have had some major laughs while reading her posts!

Lightly Crunchy is chalk full of recipes and small stories that prove that the small things in life are truly the most precious. Heidi shares lots of pictures and has inspired me time and time again.

I can honestly say that Truth and Cake is one of my favourite blogs. Rian writes insightful pieces with such eloquence and wit. I look forward to her posts more than I look forward to dessert after dinner (and that’s a lot!).

Perhaps these ladies have already won this award (which would not surprise me at all), but I thought I would pass it on to them anyways. They have some pretty rockin’ blogs that are more than deserving of both the honour and your time. You ladies are awesome so keep producing your fabulous posts!

To read more about the guidelines of this award, check out Jessica’s post. Thanks again for the nomination, Jessica!

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