Thrill of Living

A lifestyle blog from Canada's West coast

Category: Life (page 1 of 2)

New year, same me – just better

Over the past few days I have found myself asking a few of my friends what resolutions they hold for the new year… only to quickly regret asking the question when it is turned back on me!  The general consensus is that resolutions only last a few days or maybe weeks if you are either freakishly determined or your resolution is to eat chocolate every day.

Nevertheless, I have found myself considering what I can do to make this year the best year yet  and I’ve come up with a bit of plan.  Instead of making resolutions like ‘exercise every day’ I’m setting some achievable goals that can happen throughout the year.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1) Learn to do a handstand.  This is a ‘stretch goal’ (pun not intended but I’ll take it anyways!)  I’ve been doing more yoga lately and have been loving how it makes me feel.  It’s a great reason to get out of bed in the morning and getting stronger is addicting.  Doing a handstand is out of any vision I have ever had of what my body is capable of, but I figure why not try?  Thanks in advance to @itsgariele of #radgirlscollective for offering to teach me some tricks – I’m going to need your help!

2) Say yes when it comes to experiences.  2014 was a good year for this – from seeing Surfer Blood in Victoria at the beginning of last year, to traveling to LA to see one of Irvin and I’s favourite bands Ozma at their CD release party, to catching the Haim/Tennis show in Vancouver with Kat,  spending a fun weekend in Tofino with friends, to staying with locals in Portland and biking everywhere.  I want 2015 to be just as awesome! 🙂

3) Keep up to date on our monthly money tracking spreadsheet.  This is a how Irvin and I keep track of how much money we’ve spent and on what.  Most importantly it forces us to ask the question – ‘Does our spending align with our values?’ If it doesn’t, we identify it quickly so we can adjust.  We designed and began using this spreadsheet last year after re-visiting ‘Your Money or Your Life’ – a book I highly recommend which forces the reader to examine their relationship between money and fulfillment.

4) Cut down on impulse buying.  It’s not feasible to never buy anything (and not very fun either) but this year I want to put more effort into making shopping a conscious experience.  I want to think about what I need, do some research, and aim for multi-functional products when possible.  I want to know exactly what I need so I can get it at the best price.  This applies from groceries to bathroom fixtures (and clothing too!)

5) Read a book every month.  I made this a resolution last year as well, and even though I only read about 4 books, sadly it’s more than I’ve read in previous years – so the goal helped.  I plan to read at least the same again this year and hopefully more.

5) Get over my fear of taking photos.  I have this stupid self-conscious feeling when I take photos that I really want to kick.  So, I’m going to force myself to take a photo whenever I want to and hopefully I’ll get over myself in the process.

6)  Learn a song on guitar, and perform it.  Even better if Irvin’s in on it too.

7) Start and finish at least two paintings.

8) Write a blog post every month!  I’d like to get quicker at writing blog posts and do them more frequently.  This blog post is a first step – started it today and it’s going up today!

There’s other things that I want to continue doing, like playing on an indoor soccer team, taking belly dancing classes, and running in this year’s TC 10K.  Hopefully I’ll beat last year’s time!

And together Irvin have set some major renovation and travel goals for this year which I’m excited to share in another post.

Isn’t it kind of great that every 365 days we have this time to reflect and reset our lives onto a better track, knowing what we’ve learned from the year before?  I’d love to hear what your goals are for this year.  Have the type of resolutions you make changed over the years?

Wishing you the very best in 2015!  Go forward and be awesome!

– Halli



How to create your own hand crafted font!

I’ve wanted to try making a font of my own writing for quite a while now.  Finally, under the darkness of winter, I found some time to search the web for the best approach.  What I discovered is that there are many routes one can take to creating a font, and the route you choose will depend on a few things – how much time and patience you have, how much money you’re willing to invest, and the intended purpose of your font.  Is it for you to use or do you intend to sell it to a  broader audience?   

In my hunt I downloaded a trial version of  a software called Glyph.  Glyph is  clearly a powerful program designed with a true font-maker in mind.  It is modern and functional, and has great reviews.  After giving it a good effort though, I discovered it wasn’t designed to create fonts out of handwriting, which was my intention going into this search.  It’s an investment, too, at around $300.  So, I continued on the hunt to find something more geared toward a beginner like me.

Thanks to a blog post on one of my favourite blogs, I learned of the iPad app, iFontMaker.  It’s cheap ($7.99) and allows you to quickly and easily create fonts of your own writing.  For me this was the perfect introduction to font making since it was SO easy and let me accomplish exactly what I had wanted to do.

So far I’ve created two fonts. Teachers Pet was the first. It’s simple and reminds me of my writing when I was learning to print in kindergarten, carefully tracing the dotted lines in a massive practice printing book on a road trip to Disney World.  If you’d like to,  you can download Teachers Pet for free by clicking here.

teachers pet

And the second font I created is Hearts for You. It was a lot of fun to make, and is very cheery and light-hearted. Every character has a least one heart! So I guess it’s more heavy-hearted than light-hearted compared to other fonts, haha! I hope you like it!  If you’d like to download it, click here.

hearts for you font image


Why Asana is a powerful to-do app for couples

I am not one of those amazing people with a natural aptitude for organization.  I wish I was, but I’m not.  It takes dedicated effort for my clothes to be put away in the right place, and files to be sorted accurately.  Sometimes I enjoy the effort and other times I’d rather just go paddleboarding and leave it all behind!

That being said, I do value having a home where most things have a place (and are often placed in those places!)  And Irvin… well he gets a little crazy when things get cluttered, and I prefer the sane version of my one and only, so that in itself provides further motivation.

It’s a constant struggle between my desire to stay organized and my natural tendency against it.  And it  impacts everything – from planning what to eat for dinner to making sure everything is ready for our cat sitter when we go out of town.  Lists are my weapon of choice in this never ending battle.  They help me keep track of all the less tangible to-dos, tackling the clutter in my mind and helping me make more efficient use of my time.  Plus being organized makes it easier to control spending, and being productive makes me a happier person.  It’s a true win-win.

Nowadays there are a ton of apps available to replace the traditional list making supplies of pen and paper.  In the past I wrote about an app called Orchestra.  It was a great to-do app which allowed you to sync tasks between yourself and other Orchestra users.  Unfortunately the company that created Orchestra decided to stop supporting the app and took it offline to focus their efforts on another great app I use everyday called Mailbox.

Ever since then, Irvin and I have been on the look-out for a new app to replace Orchestra.  We tried another app called for some time which claimed to support the ability for users to share tasks.  It didn’t.   We found that syncing tasks between users would sometimes take hours or days and most often did not work at all. 

Enter… Asana!

Asana is… the best!  It has so many features it would take me all day to list them all. (But if you’re interested, check out their blog here).   It is very powerful and designed to work for teams of people, not just teams of two like us!  Here are the features that make it such a useful app for couples:

  • Syncing is instantaneous.  If I add something to the grocery list, it shows up on Irvin’s phone immediately. Bam!
  • Projects.  Projects allow us to categorize our lists in a way that makes sense to us.  For example, we have a project for groceries, one for chores, and one for household renovations we’re planning.  Projects keep things neat and tidy.
  • Sub-tasks.  Sub-tasks allow us to split our lists further.  This is awesome for shopping and grocery lists.  In the screen capture below, you can see how we’ve got different sub-tasks for all the places we regularly shop.  This means that next time I go to Thrifty’s I know exactly what I need to pick up there, without digging through a master grocery list and guessing what I need to buy where.
  • Assigning Tasks.  Each item can be assigned to you or your partner (if you want).  When you sign into Asana you can view “My Tasks” and easily see what you need to do to do your part.  No excuses for not remembering!
  • Tasks/list items can be broken into smaller tasks.  This one is great for our renovation projects.  For example, within our House Projects project, we have a list of all the different renovations we plan to do such as bathroom, kitchen, etc.  For each renovation, I can expand the details and create a further set of tasks.  Each of these tasks can be assigned, commented on, etc. just like the items under the Project level.
  • Workspaces can be private or shared.  Workspaces are one level up from Projects.   It’s on this level that you decide if the Projects within the Workspace will be shared, and who they will be shared with.  We each have a shared Workspace (Couples Therapy) and a private Workspace which allows us to keep some things to ourselves, such as my list of gift ideas for Irvin’s birthday!
  • Web-based and on your iPhone = good design.  Asana’s web interface is designed to handle the majority of the set up for  your Workspaces, Projects, etc.  The iPhone app is a simplified version of the web-based app with a minimalist and uncluttered look.  It’s designed for quickly adding and completing tasks.  For me, this design works great.  I’d much rather fiddle with set up on a desktop/laptop than my iPhone any day and I appreciate how easy it is to use the iPhone app.
  • IT’S FREE!  If you are using Asana for under a certain number of users, it’s free!



Do you struggle with staying organized?  What tools or processes have you found work for you?  What are your greatest challenges?

I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts on this.  To me, it seems our culture celebrates those who can keep it all together while tasked with a million things to do.  Would you say that being organized is something we all should strive for or is it an unnecessary hindrance to enjoying life?  I’m interested to hear what you think!

I hope you enjoy trying Asana!  Until next time,





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