It's been forever (seriously) since I've posted anything on here and I figured that it was finally time to check in and say 'hi' to those of you who keep logging on...hoping that I've posted something...hoping that I've done something to indicate that I'm still alive.
Well have no fear! I'm alive and kicking (and from time to time, also screaming...)!
Awhile back I felt like I needed to take a break from the whole blogging thing...take some time to figure out some personal stuff. Focus in on a couple of things - take some time out to explore, be creative in new ways, refresh myself and hopefully come back to you ready to bombard your in-box with a gazillion new posts.
I'm almost there!
The thing is, I've realized that as goofy as it might sound, I'm not the same guy that I was a couple of months ago. Hell, I feel like I'm light years away from the guy who first started this blog last year. A lot has happened over the past little while that's made me stop and review and access pretty much everything in my life. From my career, to friends, to the music that I'm listening to, to what I choose to do with my free time, to where I see myself in a couple of years, to the type of guy I want to be, etc, etc, etc (the list really goes on and on).
Anyways, as such, I really don't feel like Dan Mitchell | Style is reflective of who I really am. I'm kind of feeling like I've been fronting on y'all. Like I was trying to portray some exaggerated version of myself who needed everything and anything to be perfect. Some guy who got worked up and overly excited about silly projects and pillow covers.
The thing is, that's not me.
Well, okay. So maybe there were parts of me that enjoyed treasure hunting and finding neat things, but at the same time, that's not all that I'm about. And frankly, it took way more energy than it should have to be excited about posting different write-ups...finding pictures, etc. It became a chore. Like something that I felt like I needed to do because I'd hyped things up to friends, family, etc.
So while I don't necessarily want to write about paint (I still haven't finished painting my living room...), or pillows or brick walls, I do miss rambling. I miss some of the cool interactions that I've had over the past year with individuals that have stumbled across me. So here I am...back here...with some new ideas, a fresh perspective and hopefully enough ambition to pull everything together and get this project back to the point where it's 'fun' and not a chore.
I'm not saying that the magic is going to happen overnight. I've got a few ideas for where I'd like to take this puppy. Perhaps a change of name...loads more variety, me being a lot more personal (and perhaps candid and blunt), but hopefully just as fun for you to read and explore.
I'm thinking music. Life. Books. Adventures. Relationships. Stupid things I've learned or uncovered. Food (that other people have prepared...I hate cooking). Random pictures & articles on issues and things that have caught my attention. Me being frank and discussing some of the ish that I'm dealing with in my own life.
I'm sure that some point along the way you'll end-up seeing another post where I resort to showing you pictures of brick walls or galvanized stools....but am I actually obsessing or fawning over 'whitewashed brick walls'? No, probably not. Chances are the first time round I was feeling lazy but felt obligated to post....which is not something that I want to do this time round.
So here we go.
Rested. Relaxed. Fresh perspective. New interests. Still Dan....but no more fronting or stupid BS about how exciting pillows can be (I could care less).
It's not going to be perfect. It might be a bit too candid or blunt for some of you, but at the same time I think it's the route that I need to, and want to go.
I've had an interesting couple of weeks to say the least.
And by interesting, I mean awesome!
I've been wicked busy both personally and professionally. So much is going on around the office...sometimes I come home and feel like my head is spinning...but I'm getting better at leaving work at work. They're only paying me to work a certain number of hours - anything out of my norm is my time! Time for me to not be preoccupied with random emails, goofiness, office politics and Chinese imports.
Personally, the month has been full of fun adventures and discoveries...good times with friends and breakthroughs of sorts. And while most of my tales are too personal to share, I've got one that I do want to discuss with yah.
Awhile back I'd mentioned how I'd been going through my 'stuff'....cleaning out the 'crap' that really wasn't serving any purpose. At the time, I managed to take a pile of bags to Goodwill, and while I did some damage, it still felt like there was a lot of randomness that I needed to figure out.
This past weekend, I ended up at home with the most wicked of wicked colds - and not being one of those guys that likes to mope around when I'm sick I figured that it was time to tear back into my 'stuff' to see what else I could get rid of.
It might sound goofy, but as I started to go tear through cupboards, closets & my storage room everything started to hit me. Suddenly it was like "why do I own all of this shiz? Seriously. Why?" It was then that I decided that instead of just "cleaning" that I was going to full out purge. Like serious. PURGE.
Over the course of two days I was pretty ruthless. To the point where I was opening up totes and boxes in my storage room, looking in them, realizing that I hadn't gone through them since I'd moved into my place 3ish years ago and decided then and there that "everything goes."
I also kind of realized that you can have too many serving plates, kitchen gadgets, that just because you can own a French press doesn't mean that you should own a French press and that the Mexican pottery that was a pain in the ass to get home without breaking on the plane is actually useless when it says "not safe for use with food" on the back.
Much sorting, tossing, packing, lugging and filling my car later, Goodwill ended up with two carloads of my stuff. The collections that I'd worked so hard on a few years ago. The projects that I'd started but never finished, the trashy and depressing paperbacks that I'll never read again...all gone!
It was also then that I kind of realized that maybe, just maybe I was using my 'hunting of treasures' to escape and forget about some of life's randomness that I wasn't overly happy with. Like hunting down a random salad bowl was going to fulfill some sort of goofy need. Hmm...
To be completely honest with yah, I haven't been thrifting forever - and really have no desire to. Seriously. There's no burning desire for me to scavenge through Value Village for something that I can 'magically transform' into something 'amazing.'
Obviously I still have some collections (as you can see in the above pic), and I'm sure that at some point I'll want to add some new pieces, but right now I'm more excited about the idea of coming home after work and reading a good book, hunting down some new tunes, trying out a new recipe. Or perhaps getting out and hanging with friends, grabbing drinks and chillin' with peeps. Why spend so much time looking for more 'stuff'...?
And there yah have it. That's where I'm at right now.
I really haven't figured out how my new found discovery / epiphany will affect this blog...at some point it will all make sense. But until it does, I'm totally going to enjoy what is, in some ways, a new found 'freedom.' That's a goofy word to use, but in some ways, it kind of feels like it is...so I'm gonna roll with it.
Lately I've found myself obsessing over brick walls. Well, okay, maybe obsessing isn't the right word, but I keep finding myself being drawn to and loving room shots that feature, you guessed it, at least one brick wall.
I've found myself especially in love with painted brick....there's just something about it. It's got the perfect mix of industrial / cool factor, yet when painted is warm, inviting and screams "Dan you need to buy place with at least one brick wall."
However, unless my financial adviser can suddenly pull a rabbit and enough coin for a decent down-payment on a non-ghetto place out of his hat, then I've got a couple more years of dreaming about lofty spaces with whitewashed or painted brick walls, high ceilings, windows with soaring views and worn and weathered but amazing hardwoods. That or if my loft dreams are a bit too much, then enough coin for a fixer-upper where I can take a trip to the hardware store for a couple 4' x 8' sheets of 'faux brick'...some drywall mud, a couple cans of paint, find some tips from a Debbie Travis column and fake it till I make it.
Regardless of where I end up, a brick wall, whether it be genuine or a Dan weekend (or week long) project is a must! This afternoon I was digging through a couple folders on my computers, both at home and around the office and kept stumbling across shots that keep stumbling across brick wall after brick wall, after brick wall.
Tell you don't want to hang out in any of these spaces!?!?
Pretty awesome right?
Yah, I figured that you'd agree with me!
And while painted brick walls might be my current love / borderline obsession, I want to know what's got you fired up! Wallpaper? Walls painted in soft spring tones or deep right solids? Tell me! Tell me!
A while ago, I decided, unofficially of course, that I was going to do things differently this year. I was laying in bed one night when I had this crazy brain wave where suddenly it was like "I need something different."
It was then that I decided that I was going to make 2012 the year of adventure, growth, opportunity and fun.
And you know what?
So far, so good!
At first, I wasn't sure what my definition of 'different' was going to be, but I'm slowing figuring things out as I go along. I've realized that 'different' can be something as basic as ordering something 'different' off the menu when I hit up my favourite coffee place, or trying out someplace 'different' when meeting with friends for lunch. It can also be as 'different' as trying something so outside my realm like yoga...only to realize that I love it.
I've got a buddy to thank for this new found love. He'd stumbled across a two week introductory pass to a new studio that opened in the city and was like "hey, let's check this out together," and I was like "hey, that'd be 'different'...I'm in." (Or something along those lines...)
So, skip ahead three weeks, and I've come to love yoga. Who'd of thunk it. Not this farm boy. But sure enough, this new and 'different' adventure has been exactly what I've needed and craved for awhile.
While I enjoy the gym (from time to time) I'd been finding that I really wasn't into it. I'd go, I'd end-up on a treadmill or elliptical and rather than being about to zone out and focus on working out, I'd find myself thinking about the office or thinking about stuff around home, or thinking about family, friends, loved ones, et cetera, et cetera....I was really lacking any sort of mental clarity or focus.
As I've been exploring a number of different forms of yoga - ranging from Ashtanga and Restorative to a couple different variations of hot yoga, I've found that a) I've been able to really get into the physical side of things...that I'm pushing myself more than ever to see what I can get my body to do & b) that I've been able to go to class and completely zone out. To focus in on what's important at the time - to meditate and focus in on what's important in my life. Which is completely 'different' for me. My mind's always in motion...I generally find it impossible to turn things off.
I may have kind of abused my two week unlimited pass. I think that they expect you to go a few times a week, see if you like it....not attend 15 classes in a two week span. That said, for being so 'different' and out of my usual whelm of interests, I'm hooked enough that I invested in a full month pass....at the regular rate. Let's see if I can abuse that!
I'm curious to see where this 'different' adventure takes me. Slowly but surely the movements are making a bit more sense, I've been able to bend "that much more" and I've found myself leaving class with a smile, and a cleared head....allowing me the chance to crawl under the covers at night not worrying about what happened that day, or what's going to happen tomorrow. Basically, it's all good. Sure I come home a bit sore sometimes, but hey, no pain, no gain.
Where am I going with this posting? I'm not really sure. This could be turning into one of those rambling posts...so I'll wrap it up by saying that 'different' can be good....and worth exploring. 'Different' causes one to think outside the box and discover fresh and new energy. Sure, there will be a few adventures that will be one-time-only, but hey, isn't it worth trying something 'different' from time to time?
How's that sound?
And you know what? Do you want to know the best part of my quest for 'different' adventures and opportunities? It's only the beginning of March. I've still got over nine months of 'different' to explore!
I don't typically do this, but I feel the need to share one of my favourite new tracks as of late with you -
I'm pretty much in love with this track and the story that it tells...and think that regardless of where any of us may be in our lives - be it single, married, dating, committed, et cetera, we can all, in one way or another, relate to the lyrics. There's a sweet innocence to them...that whole idea of 'heart first, head last'....when you can't help but randomly break out into a smile or wander around with your head in the clouds because of 'someone'....whoever they may be...
Have a listen. I know you'll like it. Actually scratch that. I promise you'll like this track.
Regardless of how much we pretend to be organized and neat as can be, we all have that drawer, that closet, or that storage room filled with random odds and sods that for some reason or another we have difficulty letting go. Old t-shirts from college. Ratty paperbacks with embarrassing titles. Letters from old friends and lovers. Horrible party pictures that should never have been taken. Birthday cards from people you can barely remember. The remains of some sort of stupid crafting project gone wrong (anyone want a set of knitting needles tangled in a ball of yarn?). Or if you're me, it could be the red plastic fireman's hat...which I don't remember buying - yet it's lived in my closet for years.
And while I'm definitely one of those guys that likes to be surrounded by his stuff, there comes a point when that stuff becomes crap. Useless, stale, space and energy consuming crap. Those $250 college textbooks that seemed so important five years ago - not so much anymore. The shirts that I'll never get into again - or the ones that I'm hanging onto for stupid sentimental reasons...the movies and CD's that I haven't watched or listened to in years have slowly been taking over my place....all crap.
To say that these past two months has been a roller coaster of sorts is definitely an understatement. The end of a relationship. New adventures. New outlooks on where I'd like to see myself in a couple of years. A fresh perspective on what's really important vs. what's just consuming negative energy - and in this case space. I've really found myself really focusing in on 'me' lately to say the least...and by clearing random 'crap' per say, be it physical or otherwise, I've been able to better focus my energies into what drives me, motivates me and in the end, what makes me happy.
Slowly but surely I've spent the past couple of evenings weeding through my place...something that I like to do every couple of months. However, this time, I found myself being ruthless. If I hadn't worn it in the past six months, into the Goodwill bag it went. If it had been hidden under my bed for the past year, into the Goodwill bag it went.
And you know what -
It felt great lightening my load. Getting rid of some stuff. Some crap. Stuff that once meant so much that had served its purpose, or never found a purpose around my place.
I've still got a ways to go. There's a storage room waiting for me...but I think that I'm on the right track.
Two evenings, a gazillion songs, some random Dan dancing and prancing around later I've ended up with this -
Four bags of stuff for Goodwill. Four bags of my useless, meaningless crap. Stuff that I'm not going to miss. And let's not forget about the two bags of random garbage...old papers, magazine clippings, ratty t-shirts and other crap not worthy of being donated.
I feel lighter. I feel satisfied. I can see open my closet again without having a mountain of jeans falling on me. It's all good....and it's just the beginning!
I might need to buy some more garbage bags!
PS. Anyone want a silver tea set? It seemed like a good idea at the time...that or who's up for coming over for tea...using my stupid tea set? I might even make some 'brony' inspired cookies to serve with the tea! :)
Last night as I laid under the covers flipping through a magazine before bed I stumbled across a recipe that excited me enough that it was all I could think about today (well almost....obviously I was thinking about other goofy things as well...but that's another story for another time). Sitting at my desk this afternoon my mind was made-up that I was going to come straight home to attempt to make what hopefully become the first of many batches of roasted red pepper & tomato soup. From scratch....even the roasting.
And while by no means is this is a food blog, I ended up impressed enough with my end results that I figured that it was worth sharing the recipe. It's not often that I stumble across a new recipe that's as fool proof as this one...that said, make sure you block off about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to make your own batch...it takes a bitta time to get everything just right!
Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
4 red peppers (I always buy the smaller bagged ones....if they're larger, use 3)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (buy the good stuff!)
1 cup diced sweet onion
3 cloves of garlic (or if you're like me and don't wanna go overboard with garlic-y fun, use 1/2 tsp of ready minced garlic)
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (chop it fairly fine)
1 28 oz can of whole or diced stewing tomatoes (grab the basic ones without added spices)
1 cup of water
1 pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of granulated sugar
So, first off, you'll want to preheat your oven to 375F. Wash your peppers, cut the tops off, discarding the seeds and inner membranes. Grab a baking sheet (or a cake pan), line with parchment paper, placing peppers cut side down. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until blistered looking.
Once your peppers are ready, you'll want to place them in a bowl (I used tongs to do this); cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap....this lets the peppers steam and loosens the skins. Leave for 20 minutes.
While your peppers are steaming, grab a large pot and heat your olive oil over medium heat. Toss in your garlic, onion and rosemary. Saute for ten minutes (ps. your place will smell amazing!), or until everything is softened.
At this time, you'll want to peel your peppers....which can get messy....and then add to the pot, followed by your can of tomatoes, water, salt and sugar. Cover and cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Once your soup has finished cooking, you're going to want to grab your blender (or in my case lug out your blender....I swear, I own the first blender ever made...so heavy) at which point you'll want to puree small batches (I did about a quarter of my soup per batch).
Pour your pureed soup into bowls and serve with a drizzling of olive oil, crumpled cheese and fresh rosemary sprigs (the oil drizzle really sets it off).
Even though it took awhile, this is hands down one of the easiest recipes that I've tried as of late. In the end I think I may have ended up with about 4 decent sized servings of soup. I'm thinking the next time I make it I'll definitely double the batch.
If you're in a hurry and are starving...grab some canned soup, if you've got some time to play around (and have a chocolate bar in the freezer that you can nibble on like me....), then this recipe is so worth trying!
So after making this recipe as well as the pumpkin soup that I made last Thanksgiving, I now know that I've basically figured out pureed soups....I'm thinking it's time to crack out the slow cooker and see what sorta stew I can dream up....mmm.....stew! Something meaty, flavorful and filling (get your minds out of the gutter)!
Stew tuned! Haha.
***Recipe based on the roasted red pepper & tomato soup recipe featured in the February 2012 Style at Home magazine
How fast have the past couple of weeks gone by!?! I can't believe that we're already into February....and I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted! Wasn't the goal for 2012 to be a better blogger....grow this site?
Let's just say that January was an uphill battle of sorts filled with a gazillion adventures and emotions - both planned and unplanned. I think I kinda finally feel like a grownup.
Anyways, it's a new month filled with new adventures, lots of potential & opportunity...and so far, so good!
I've been crazy busy around the office as of late! Seriously - I'm like the Tasmanian Devil when I get into work. I've got a million different projects on the go right and sometimes feel like all I do is spin in circles throwing files around. However, slowly but surely, everything is starting to make sense.
A lot of time has been devoted to arranging for the arrival of 60-ish containers of spring and summer fun. I've got loads of amazing seasonal pieces coming from overseas and I'm excited for them to arrive! You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to seeing the bright colours that come with summer (Winnipeg's looking pretty bleak right now...)!
I received confirmation this morning that my first couple of containers arrived and were being un-stuffed this afternoon....exciting stuff! I can't wait to share some snaps once everything is set-up and looking great! Did I mention that I'll be broke after buying one of everything that's coming off the containers?! I'm especially excited for my Vietnamese pottery....bright turquoise! Lots of reds! Amazing ceramic garden stools! Can't wait!
And while I'm uber excited for spring to arrive (for personal and professional reasons), professionally I'm already looking ahead to this coming fall - I've spent the past couple of weeks reviewing upholstery swatches, granite colours, wood finishes and quotes from what seems like every second factory in Asia...
It can be a little bit overwhelming at times...I've got some tight deadlines and a lot of numbers to figure out, colours to pick, etc, etc, but at the same time it's pretty damn exciting! I mean, not that many people get to play with fabric swatches or see the actual factory cost of pieces (before the retailers throw on their markups....). It's a pretty neat process. Plus there's fabric swatches (I mentioned those already didn't I?)!
At some point I'll dig myself out from under the stack of catalogues and brochures that's starting to fill my office (I guess that's what I get for posting a couple of inquiries onto LinkedIn....), will figure out which fabric swatches make me the happiest and will hopefully resume activities at a somewhat normal pace....at which time I'll begin looking for summer seasonal pieces again - for 2013.
At some point I should invest in a couple calendars so I can remember what month I'm actually in vs. which month's purchases I'm reviewing....
But until then, I'm gonna keep exploring, digging, uncovering and investigating all of the different puzzle pieces that make my job as exciting and interesting as it is!
What's exciting and motivating you around your workplace? I'm curious to know!
Don't be shy! I wanna see what you have to say!
PS. At some point I'll get around to putting my newly repainting living and dining room back together - the colour looks awesome & I can't wait to show you what I've done!
What's a boy to do on a lazy weekend afternoon when he's got nothing going on?
Sit around home in sweats while eating brownies and watching reruns of The Golden Girls?
Okay, so maybe that's an option...but probably not the best one. I mean changes are that a) I'd end-up scarfing down the entire pan, b) after scarfing down the pan I would feel like the three evenings I spent at the gym last week were a complete waste and c) I've spent far too much time lately watching reruns of The Golden Girls...
So instead, I figured that I'd find something fun to do....something to keep me away from the pan of brownies, something that required me to put normal clothes on and also something that would distract me from the week that was...and from the week that will probably be -
After considering my limited, last minute options, I settled on hitting up one of the nifty (and my favourite) indoor flea markets in the city. Heading out, I really didn't have intent to buy or search for anything...I think if anything the point of the adventures was to just wander, have some fun and see what treasures uncovered themselves.
While I didn't come home with anything, lots of randomness was uncovered, I saw some wicked pieces that gave me some ideas of what I'd like to collect / hunt for down the road and best of all - I was able to completely distract myself and forget about the world for a couple of hours.
Here's a sneak peak of some of the fun that I uncovered -
How cool is this little guy? The vendor wasn't willing to haggle on the price though...however, if I wander through in a couple weeks and he's still there I might see if he wants to play ball...I wanna bring the 'Cool Master' home with me.
I haven't seen this many Nintendo & Super-Nintendo games since I was like 8 or 9...the scary thing is that I remembered a lot of the titles.
Remind me to dig through my storage room....I swear that there's a tote that's got a couple of cool bottles in it. This guy was waaaaaaaaaay overpriced on most of his stock, but had some cool pieces that I haven't seen in ages.
More tins than I could shake a stick at!
I almost brought home a couple more pieces of brown & white transfer ware, but realized that I already had pieces that I was looking at....that and I think that that collection is large enough (unless I find a really cool piece...)
Aren't these syrup dispensers cool? I wanted all of them...but resisted. That and I stayed away from the old spice tins...a guy can end-up with too many collections....
"Let's dicker to sell quicker." Luvs it.
Odd looking Asian inspired ceramic pieces? I'm never sure how I'm supposed to feel when I see these pieces....anyone get what I mean? Yah?
The snowshoes on the left were in beautiful shape and would have looked amazing above my fireplace if I was going for a 'rustic lodge meets swinging young bachelor' look....but alas, they were $250.00....ouch.
I almost bought this snazzy book. Perfect gag gift or amusing dinner party conversation starter?! I think so!
Perhaps the next time I end-up in a somewhat serious situation I'll have to invest in this guide...I'm very curious to see what ideas and suggestions 60s conservatives have to say to me (not really)....that said, while the content might not be to my liking, I did like the drawings...
Isn't this guy the cutest?! The bowling pin that is, not Elvis or the creepy thing in the corner...
According to Wikipedia, Reveen was this weird Canadian sensation who traveled across the country working as a magician and hypnotist...magically transforming audiences....I say all of his transforming powers came from the stache, sexy head of hair and magical beard.
I want these old caulk boxes. I've been thinking about them non-stop since coming home. There had to have been 20 or 30 of them. No idea what I'd do with them, but I love them....the graphics are pretty cool, plus I'm sure that I could use them to store something.
So many small treasures!
Tea for two, or perhaps tea for 60? There has to be some sorta art project a guy could do here....something rather clever and not so 'grandma-ish...' looking...hmm...
So while I resisted the urge to come home with 60 tea cups and matching saucers, a plastic robot, the Reveen record and the good Christian husband's guide....I did come away with renewed love in wanting to hit-up this particular flea market more often...if anything just for a laugh and an adventure! That and it kept me from tearing into the pan of brownies (which I've since shoved in the freezer....).
From everything I've shown yah....which pieces stand out the most to you?!? I'm curious to know!