My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “May, 2015”

On Turning 35

Birthday dance! Birthday dance!

I love my birthday. I love the fuss everyone makes. I love the thoughtful gifts my friends and family choose for me. I love getting older.

Getting older means I can care less what people think. It means I can be myself and do what I want. Most of all, it means I get to keep living and loving and enjoying the best parts of life. I can’t wait to be one of those little old ladies who is super loud and friendly and says whatever she wants because who’s going to tell an 80-year-old what she can and can’t say?

People keep telling me that as I age and start to lose function in parts of my body or mind that I won’t like getting older. They tell me I won’t want anyone to celebrate or even acknowledge it. It hasn’t happened to me in 35 years but I worry that it will. I want to keep enjoying getting older.

I guess I’ll just have to keep enjoying it while I can. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me! Happy birthday deeeeaaar meeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeee, happy birthday to me!


Living with No Regrets (is bullshit)

I love this post Living with No Regrets (is bullshit). (Apologies to people who are offended by swearing. I kept it because it’s relevant to the original post).

We all have regrets. It’s normal to have regrets.

Regrets happen a couple of different ways. First, Regrets can happen when we don’t take a risk and we miss an opportunity. Regrets also happen when we take a risk and it doesn’t work out. True, regretting things feels pretty awful, but at least the second way shows that we tried something. Not everything we try will work out but that’s no reason to give up on taking risks altogether.

Let me say it again; it’s normal to have regrets. Recognize them. Don’t fear having regrets. That just makes the whole situation too complicated. Instead, learn from them and then move on.

Drawing My Anxiety

Recently, Dr. B introduced me to the idea that children can use art to deal with their anxiety. A psychiatrist will have a child draw themselves and their anxiety on a piece of paper. Then the child draws something to change or fix the anxiety. I thought I’d try this activity on myself. Let me know what you think. I think I’m going to show these to Dr. B during my next visit.




Kind of Internet Famous…again?

The first time I was flattered. Now I’m gob-smacked. I got my second mention on the Art Assignment. There at 5:38 is the photo of my best friend Nick. He looks embarrassed. He was embarrassed. Neither Nick nor I like having our photo taken.

He agreed to this photo because he loves me. Also probably because I was just posting it to my blog and not that many people were going to see it. Whoops, it might be a few more now that it’s been featured in a video. He wasn’t too…impressed when I showed him the video. I believe he rolled his eyes and walked away but I knew he was just teasing me. I think he loves being my best friend as much as I love being his.

The Most Amazing Chocolate Truffle Cake Ever!


I am not exaggerating. It’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious and so chocolatey. I am forever grateful to Jellibean Journals for this treat. This dessert is not by design but it is so rich, you can get away with having a tiny piece.



  • 1 pkg (6 oz.) BAKER’S Bittersweet Chocolate (I used a mix of dark and semisweet chocolate because that’s what I had in the house.)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan or springform. If using a springform, sit it on top of a small baking sheet to bake to ensure no messes in the bottom of your oven should the pan leak.

Over low heat, melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.

Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until thickened. This took forever by hand with a whisk. Stir in chocolate mixture.

Gently whisk in flour and salt.

Pour into prepared baking pan and bake 30 minutes or until center is set.


Make sure you grease and flour your pan well. I used a spring form pan to make it easier to remove the cake.


Once melted, your chocolate and butter will be silky and shiny.


The cake going into the over.


The cake after it’s cooled and dusted with powdered sugar.


I decided to serve it with the Jasmine Peach Blossom tea I got at Murchies while on my honeymoon.


I set up some slices with the tea and a board game for Nick and I.


It was perfect served with real whipped cream. Was it good?


I think my empty plate says it all.

Progress, Not Perfection

The most common question people ask me since I started this blog is, “How do you eat by design every day?” Here’s the dirty secret: I don’t. In fact, no one does. The point of Eat by Design has never been to be one hundred percent compliant every single day. That’s not realistic. Doctors Jamie and Joel recommend eating by design at least 80% of the time. More is better but not mandatory.

I find that if I deny myself one type of food, (e.g. carbs, sugar, etc.) when I crave it I have two options; I can allow yourself a small amount and then return to eating by design, or I can keep denying myself until I crack and binge on the forbidden foodstuff. Secret option number three is not to have the food at all, which I often do, but I’m talking about overwhelming cravings.

When I really want a cookie, I have a cookie. Better one cookie now than a handful later.

Another good tip is to measure treats like chips or candies into a small dish rather than eating from the bag. That make portion control much easier.

I do try to Eat by Design but right now I am closer to 80% than I am to 100%. It’s something we can all work on and I find making small, gradual changes is easier to stick to long-term. Look at the progress you can make rather than striving for perfection.

Art Assignment 26 Customize It


Take a look at my list of traits below and see if you can guess what item I’ll be customizing:

Looks square, rectangular, wordy, typefaced, white, cream,  yellowed, black, grey, shiny, matte, distinctive, impressive.

Sounds rustling, thudding, deeply silent.

Feels smooth, soft, hard, comforting.

Smells sweet, musty, unidentifiably perfect.

Tastes papery, delicate, aged.

Ok, so if you saw my post on Art Assignment 25, you can probably guess I am going to customize a book.Last time I justified my destroying/transforming an astronomy book that was out of date. However, this time I decided to choose a new book. Like many book nerds, I was raised to view bound texts as sacred objects. Even the thought of folding a page or *shudder* cracking the spine of a book seems unsettling to me. So when I decided to customize a book, I knew I would struggle a bit. In trying to change the essential nature of this book, I decided to introduce two things that are known destroyers of libraries; water and fire. As dramatic as that sounds, I actually used my bathroom sink and then my oven to accomplish my task. I have included some photos of my process below.

When I first put the hardbound book into the sink I expected it to sink, (pun intended,) but it floated like a little raft. I had to push it under the water and stood amazed at all the bubbles of air that poured from between the pages. I would have photographed that part but I had to use both hands to hold onto the edges of the book. Books do not take kindly to getting wet!

Once my book was sufficiently soggy, I put it on a towel and began to sculpt. I chose the word ‘sculpt’ here because the pages were like thick stacks of papier-mache. I could twist, turn and fold them as much as I liked but I did have to be careful not to rip them as they were very delicate.

I left the sculpted book on its towel for a few hours and although I was glad to see it holding its shape, it wasn’t really drying out. It was time to bake my sculpture in the oven. I set my over to 190 and put the towel and the book onto a cookie tray. I baked the sculpture in one hour increments, giving it some time to cool in between. This took me the better part of a lazy Sunday, (probably about six hours total.) I was trying to get the edges of the paper to look a bit singed without setting my house on fire. I also wanted the book to be dry enough that it wouldn’t mold or rot. I think I accomplished both and I managed to make my whole house smell like warm paper; it’s a strangely comforting smell.

I really took Sarah’s critiques to heart and tried to play with the lighting in my photographs of the final product. Between the late afternoon sun in our back bedroom and a lamp, I was able to create a bit of an unusual glowing quality to my transformed object.

I love the fragments of text left behind by the folds in the paper. Here are a few of my favourites:

You haven’t

Not yet

I’m Levi



I laugh


The fox

Pandora hits

there, the

miss out on

I hear.


When the wounds have come

on his palm to make sure.


Pandora crashes

dark, I spot



The horizon

pinks. It’s so beautiful

of happiness after

only ten days.

Art Assignment 25 Artistic Alchemy

Keep your eye on Foundations of Astronomy.

Keep your eye on Foundations of Astronomy.



Interior 1.

Interior 1.

Interior 2.

Interior 2.

Interior 3.

Interior 3.



At first I was having some real difficulty ‘destroying’ (transforming) a book. I justified it in the end because this book was published in 1978 and a lot of the information in it will be obsolete. Still, I felt a little guilty as I carved stars in this book. However, as I worked I saw the potential for art.

The beauty in the process.

The beauty in the process.

I’m really pleased with my finished project. I really enjoy the fact that I can hide this art piece on my bookshelf. I love the idea of people discovering the art inside this book when they expected something usual. Art can so easily confound expectations.

PS – I learned how to hollow out a book here.

Good Grief, More Positive Tweets!

Here are a few more #DailyJoy tweets to brighten up your day.

Feel free to tweet to #DailyJoy. I’ll be sure to retweet you.

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