feature image Photo Credit: James McCullough

Writings

Encounters With Iceland At Mission Hill Winery

August 03, 2014

Mission Hill

Steinunn´s figurative work slowly but immediately draws one into the mood of the subject, in turn provoking reflection. The silent strength of her work impresses with a subtle yet strongly powerful emotional pull on the viewer. Subtle and silent, strong and soft, her work is sculptural poetry

DAVID HANDLEY, Director of "Sculpture by the Sea" in Australia

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Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir currently has on display 40 sculptures at Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna titled "Encounters with Iceland." Scattered across the grounds and within the buildings, I was drawn to how the sculptures echoed a lot of the physical stances the visitors to Mission Hill take. Quiet, grounded, taking in the views of the valley and vineyard.

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My works explore the human condition in all its variety and how man relates to the environment and to each other. The figures are mostly life size and the atmosphere is reflective and mediative. They are androgynous symbols of mankind. ... Each piece is firmly rooted in my Icelandic origin, reflecting the power and proximity of the elements.

Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir

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To me, the sculptures looked like they were designed to fit in their respective spots at the winery. Thórarinsdóttir was brought over to place each piece. Their positions feel like permanent homes for them, they belong at Mission Hill. This is more evident when you see how the statues were displayed in a different art show.


Some critics have noted that Thórarinsdóttir’s mostly asexual figures, be they whole or ‘broken’, seem to convey an eerie atmosphere of loneliness, isolation or even sadness; others have seen the same works as monuments to meditation, dignity and peace within an individual at ease with himself. However, such analysis only scratches the surface of her works, but that is exactly where all shared interpretation comes to a stop: we can share views on what we see, but the figures give nothing away of what rest within. They do not share their inner life with the audience; they maintain a very human privacy of emotion, that we both feel bound to honour and align ourselves with.

Eiríkur Thorláksson, art historian

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I wouldn't be surprised to read that a portion of the collection becomes a permanent part of Mission Hill. Encounters with Iceland is on display until October 2014.

Cromwell's Head

July 12, 2014

From one showman to another, Cromwell’s head passed through the eighteenth century, turning a profit each time. The only problem was wear and tear. At some point, perhaps as far back as the day at Tyburn, Cromwell had lost an ear and several teeth. His nose had been crushed, his hair was thinning, his flesh was desiccated, and his skin was yellow-brown. The incongruous appearance of this hard, dry object made it an effective memento mori. This was what death looked like. Cromwell, the great commander, was now nothing more than a lump of matter, subject to the whims of Mother Nature and dependent on the passions of the paying public.

Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson

A lengthier excerpt is found in the August issue of Harpers.

Rather fascinating and grotesque to discover that they exhumed the body after his death (from illness) to perform a public beheading, and then proceeded to display the head for nearly three hundred years. It's an interesting story which makes me curious to read the full book when it's released in August.

Back to the Future

June 06, 2014

It's fascinating to watch the Back to the Future movies now not for their nostalgic depiction of the 1950s or jokey guesses at life in 2015, all hoverboards and flying cars, but as a vital document of the 1980s. After all, next year, we'll be as far removed from 1985 as the filmmakers were from 1955. The first film especially fixes that time's preoccupations and possibilities in amber.

Tim Carmody, Entire Back to the Future town to be created

Rather sobering thoughts, to say the least.

This is in reference to a whole town being created for a screening of the Back to the Future movies.

All the Changes

June 05, 2014

As I mentioned previously, things have been changing here for me the past few months. I have been a lot more focus on reading than I have writing, always on the look out for more inspiring ideas to maybe get the words flowing through my fingers once again. I've read more books, longform articles, and listened to more podcasts than in the past. I also solved a few major hurdles for me technology-wise that's allowed me to do much better work.

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

By Ryan Holiday

You will come across obstacles in life fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how succesful we will be in overcoming- or possibly thriving because of- them.

Ryan Holiday is quite an interesting man, and his book, The Obstacle Is the Way has certainly opened up my eyes. It's impact on me has been equally impressive as F*ck It that I read last year. While the latter book helped me move on from things that ultimately don't matter to me, Obstacle has helped me tackle the things that do matter to me.

It is a book about stoicism and follows people through history, from Thomas Jefferson to Amelia Earhart to Theodore Roosevelt and more. All faced challenges, all tackled them head on instead of avoiding them. They didn't let the obstacles stop them in their pursuit of success. The book is broken into three general areas which can be taken as steps towards success when facing a challenge: perception, action, will.

What I thought about while reading the book was, "What's stopping me from writing more?"

The Obstacles

There were three general problems for me: 1. Hardware was failing 2. Blogging platform was insufficient 3. Ideas were all over the place

The first item was the most serious. My trusty MacBook from 2006(purchased for $1500, on sale on Amazon for $200) was starting to go on me. It was taking 15 minutes for it to start up and would pause in the middle of doing something. Was it worth while to try and get the logic board replaced, or move on?

I decided to move on and purchased a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Instead of a 10-15 minute wait to start up, this machine logs in instantly from being powered off. I'm so impressed with how it functions, how it looks, and the latest Mavericks operating system, that I can hardly keep my hands off of it.

The blogging platform has been a cause of concern for me ever since my blog on Wordpress was a victim of constant attacks. I made the jump to Scriptogr.am first, quickly realized that development had been frozen, and made a jump to a new platform. Dropplets looked better than Scriptogr.am on a desktop computer, but looked horrible on mobile. Not a great solution at all.

I debated about returning to Wordpress, but I love being able to write in Markdown and publish easily. Getting some of the Markdown-supported blog engines operational can be a challenge. I discovered that Github Pages allowed you to publish a blog using Jekyll, I took on the challenge of converting my site over to it. It works, looks fantastic, and is dead simple to publish too. Couldn't be more impressed.

The last obstacle was a bit trickier to deal with. There are so many apps out there that allow you to capture ideas and organize everything, but I never stuck with one choice. I was having the same problem with my workflow for my consulting business. I'm a sucker for new web platforms or mobile apps, so was constantly checking out new ideas. The obvious problem was my ideas were getting spread out, and I was spending more time trying out new apps than actually creating from my ideas.

My solution was to purchase OmniFocus 2 for Mac (Canada App Store, US App Store. It's an investment, $40.00, but well worth it in my mind, because it forces me to be committed to it. I can't drop everything and switch to a free app, then switch to another.

Right now, I'm using it both for business, and as a capture device for my writing ideas. Any time I get an idea in my head about a writing piece, I hit Option+CTRL+Space and get a neat pop-up to input my idea. A few keystrokes, and Enter, and the idea is stashed away for the future. OmniFocus 2

So far, so good. I look forward to purchasing the mobile apps, as well, to continue my effort in capturing ideas more effectively and still remaining productive. With those three major obstacles out of the way, I am better prepared and committed to writing more regularly as was the case four years ago when I first started this blog.

Ryan Holiday Resources

A New Dawn

June 05, 2014

Incredibly, it's been four years since I started writing under the Four Sides name. This is also the seventh or eighth iteration of the site through different themes on Wordpress to different platforms. Each version had a slightly different character to it even though the voice behind it was the same.

Four Sides v7 (or 8) is coming to you from the GitHub platform. Normally used for sharing code, GitHub also allows you to host a blog on it for free using the Jekyll blogging system. It's taken some time to get the system functioning and modify all the posts so they display properly, but here it is.

One of the main reasons for the shift was how the site looked on mobile. It was horrendous. Not even worth trying to read. I've always been a firm supporter of sites that have put an emphasis on readability. The previous version of the site was mainly unreadable and I vowed not to make that mistake again with this one.

The main thing you'll notice on the site is the font is easy on the eyes. If you look at it on a mobile device, it's almost better.

I'm about 95% satisfied with what I have now and will finalize things in the coming days. But today, I'm comfortable showing it off and trying to rebuild my readers from the ground up. I've been reading several interesting books, changed minor habits and have improved my tech life immensely with getting my iPhone repaired and purchasing a MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display. Definitely some of the better purchases I've made in recent history.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the flow of writing and sharing here. As summer nears, it's time to start things anew and get going again.

Alan Adler - Inventor of Aerobie and Aeropress

March 06, 2014

Among coffee aficionados, the AeroPress is a revelation. A small, $30 plastic device that resembles a plunger makes what many consider to be the best cup of coffee in the world. Proponents of the device claim that drinks made with the AeroPress are more delicious than those made with thousand-dollar machines. Perhaps best of all, the AeroPress seems to magically clean itself during the extraction process.

There’s really nothing bad to say about the device other than the fact that it’s a funny-looking plastic thingy. Then again, its inventor, Stanford professor Alan Adler, is a world renowned inventor of funny-looking plastic thingies; while Adler’s Palo Alto based company Aerobie is best known today for its coffee makers, the firm rose to prominence in the 1980s for its world-record-setting flying discs.

This is the story of how Adler and Aerobie dispelled the notion of industry-specific limitations and found immense success in two disparate industries: toys and coffee.

-- The Invention of the Aeropress

A great read about the inventor of the Aerobie and the Aeropress - the best damn way to make coffee[1]. I have been using it for over two years now and love how easy it is to:

  1. Brew coffee with.
  2. Clean up the mess afterwards.

It's so simple, even my 4 year old daughter helps me with all the steps, from grinding and putting the beans in, brewing the coffee, and the clean up afterwards.


  1. Tonx Coffee of course.  ↩

Verse

January 12, 2014

Apple released a new ad today about the iPad. It's a striking ad, showing a variety of uses for the iPad. I've had mine for nearly two years now. I still find new ways to use and enjoy it, as does my daughter. I found it interesting how the iPads were being used in sports like sumo and hockey, or using it to film things in the wild.

When I saw it on television, I thought I recognized the voice and the quote. Only after browsing through the internet did I find out what it was. A scene from Dead Poet's Society:

Here is the full quote from IMDB:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Tonx Coffee Review

January 01, 2014

Tonx Coffee
Tonx is an independent operation based out of California that sends the best coffee from their roasters to your door for a low price. After hearing about the service for months, I decided to try it out. Everything being said about Tonx is true: they truly are the best damn coffee out there.

I live in southern British Columbia in Canada, which besides a lot of wineries and orchards, has several coffee roasters here. I have tried almost all of the various blends, on top of the national chains (Starbucks, Blenz, Second Cup, etc.) and have been unable to find something that really appealed to me day in, day out. I may find one blend I enjoy, but then end up sticking to it all the time. There was no variety.

Until I subscribed to Tonx.

Tonx gave me the variety I craved. A new blend of beans every two weeks, roasted fresh, and they all taste excellent. The coffee is sent direct to your address, no need to wait for a FedEx/UPS delivery man or visit a post office to pick up a package. Check your mail every two weeks and find a little treasure.

Everyone talks about how great Tonx is, but no one has been specific about what you are likely to get week in, week out. I thought it would be useful to share a short description of each blend I have received to date to give you a better idea why Tonx is the absolute best for fresh roasted coffee.

Who Tonx Is

Tonx is a small company based in Los Angeles, California. There are only five people listed on the main company page:

Tony Konecny @tonx
Nik Bauman @nbauman
Nick Griffith @nickgriffla
Ryan Brown @ry3bee
Scott Rocher @rochers.

They come from a variety of backgrounds from longterm baristas to independent roasters to web startup executives. Together, they have upwards of over 40 years experience with coffee and operating a business. They are an insightful and interesting group (from following them on Twitter, haven't met any of them.)

Also check them out on Vine, the video service from Twitter. They're putting up some neat short videos of the coffee bean harvest procedure: Tonx | Vine

Tonx on The New Disruptors

Tony Konecny and Nik Bauman joined Glen Fleishmann to talk about Tonx coffee on his podcast, The New Disruptors in the episode: Good From the First Drop.

It is an excellent episode, and I encourage everyone to listen to it if they are at all interested in learning more about what makes their coffee good, how the company started, and where they think it will head.

How Tonx Works

Tonx is a coffee roaster, that bags and ships out coffee to households throughout Canada and the United States. What makes Tonx different (apart from their coffee) is that it is a subscription service. There isn't an option to order larger quantities of coffee or buy a bag to try for a month and then buy more at a later date. Instead, you pre-order coffee by subscription, with a new roast showing up at your doorstep every two weeks.

You can cancel the shipments at any time, and you will still receive the coffee you had paid for. You can also pause the shipments, so if you are going out on holidays, you can delay the shipments up to a year (I can't imagine a year without coffee, myself.)

With the subscriptions, you have two choices to make: regular or decaf, 6 oz or 12 oz bags. The prices for regular and decaf are the same. Here are the prices you are paying:

6 oz = $24 every 28 days (two shipments)

12 oz = $38 every 28 days (two shipments)

The best part is those prices are the same for Canadians as well as Americans.

People in the United States can actually ask for a free sample, as well. It is a 2 oz bag, which is enough for two people to enjoy coffee each morning for a few days. You can also purchase gift subscriptions for people, a great idea for birthdays and Christmas.

Free Trial for Tonx Coffee

As mentioned previously, with a subscription to Tonx, you receive a different roast every two weeks. The shipments arrive in a small box that can fit inside a post office box, which eliminates the hassle of going to a post office to pick up a package. You won't be receiving duplicate roasts either. Once you have a received a roast you enjoy, you will have to wait and see if they will send it out again in the future. This may be discouraging to some, but to others this will be a welcome treat.

The roasts themselves are contained within a resealable bag, keep the taste fresh after you have opened them. A better design than the classic coffee roast bags you find at the larger chains or grocery store.

The roasts also come as whole beans. Tonx believes that coffee tastes best if it is freshly ground and then brewed. There are a wide variety of coffee grinders out there, which can handle small amounts to larger amounts of coffee. I am happy with a simpler one since I am only grinding coffee for one person. I have listed a few of the more popular options below.

Also in the box is a short letter from the company. It is a nice touch and always brings a smile to my face. Much, much better than opening it up and seeing a receipt for your purchase.

Down below, I have included the postcard description Tonx provides in each shipment with my own thoughts about the roast.

Enjoy.

Los Eucaliptos - Huila, Colombia

Subscription Coffee #34
Los Eucaliptos | Tonx Coffee
Los Eucaliptos is described as having flavours of "green apple, molasses, and vanilla."

It has been my favourite blend to date (mind you, I am only three roasts into this service.) The coffee tasted rather sweet to me, went down smoothly, and there was no need for anything extra like sugar or cream. The roast smelled so good, even my three year old daughter wanted to try it. Normally she stays away from the coffee beans, but with this blend, she tried to eat the beans raw.

This is also the roast I used to introduce my parents to the world of Tonx. Ground up some coffee for them and they absolutely loved it. It was a great way to start the day, but also a nice choice for a little pick-me-up in the afternoon.

If this roast shows up on my doorstep again, I will definitely not be complaining.

Musasa - Gakenke, Rwanda

Subscription Coffee #35

Described as "a bouquet of florals atop some sweet red fruits - pomegranate and raspberry - balanced with bittersweet chocolate."

This roast definitely had a chocolate taste to it, slightly bitter but not overly so. The fruity tastes helped sweeten it up a great deal to offset the bitterness. This is one of those tastes that grow on you. The first cup I had, I was a bit hesitant about whether I really would enjoy it or not. After a week of tasting it, I am growing fond of it. A better way for me to start the day than the other varieties in the chain coffee shops.

Not a favourite right now, but perhaps by the end of the week and I have used up the beans, it will be.

Tana Toraja - Sulawest, Indonesia

Subscription Coffee #36

Tana Toraja | Tonx Coffee

Tana Toraja is Tonx's first roast of beans from Indonesia. If this is the case, then I can't wait for the next shipment that includes beans from that region. According to the post card, these beans are processed in a different way than most of the varieties there. The process they use is giling basah which literally means "wet grinding." I encourage you to click the link to read about it on Wikipedia as it is rather interesting.

This coffee is described to make "a delightful cup, with bartlett pear serving as the flavour backbone for a brew that opens up to reveal a bit of raspberry and cane sugar." It's delicious and full of flavour.

Caranavi - Bolivia

Subscription Coffee #37

Coming from a single grower in rural Bolivia, this roast is a combination of caturra and typica coffee beans. After one cup, I knew it was going to be one of my favourite blends from Tonx. The taste of almond and vanilla always go well in a cup of coffee. It wasn't incredibly sweet, just enough to go down smoothly without needing anything extra to be added to the cup.

I really hope this roast shows up again in a future coffee shipment.

Brewing Methods

A quick mention that the quality of the beans being brewed is only as good as how the beans are being brewed.

The beans from Tonx are full of rich flavours that need to be brought out slowly. Using a traditional drip coffee machine is unlikely to do the trick for you. You generally need a lot more beans ground up to get the most flavour through a method like that.

French press or its cousin, the Aeropress, are probably the best ways to get the most flavour for your buck. Tonx will be selling special packages starting in March 2013, that will include a grinder, Aeropress/french press, and travel bag. I am also including the links to Amazon to give you an idea of pricing.

The Aeropress is the method I use. It is quick and easy: pour the grinds in, pour hot water in, wait, press down. Clean up couldn't be any easier. You won't have to worry about running a cleaning mixture through a coffee machine each month either. Check them out and read the reviews across the web. I can guarantee you that most coffee aficionados will be using an Aeropress.

Sandia de Puno - Peru

Subscription Coffee #39

Bordering Bolivia and far from any bustling city centers, Sandia de Puno in the Peruvian Andes is home to the Cecovasa Cooperative, the source of this delicious offering. Excellent shading, extreme elevations, and mostly heirloom typica variety trees make for some great coffee. Like many producers in South America, these growers have modest 1-2 hectare farms with simple homestead milling - handcrank pulpers, small tanks for fermentation and communal patios for drying.

A very balanced and buttery coffee, this Sandia de Puno selection offers flavours of chocolate cake, mixed berries and plum.

It was simply delicious.

Nyamasheke - Rwanda

Subscription Coffee #40

On the northern shores of beautiful Lake Kivu in Nyamasheke, Rwanda, Kayjuka Alphonce began building Kanzu Washing Station in 2004. The mill was winning awards within its first year of processing. Seated in a lush valley, the contributing farms of Kanzu populate the three surrounding mountain peaks and also grow potatoes, peas, cabbage, wheat and tea. Across the valley is the Nyungwe Forest, a mountainous rainforest long ago established as a national reserve.

A beautiful bourbon varietal coffee expressing flavours found flourishing in the best east African beans - ruby red grapefruit, apricot and caramel.

Pedregal -Colombia

Subscription Coffee #41

From the Nevado de Huila region of the Colombian Andes comes a delicious coffee from the Asorcafe Producer's Association. The group is made up of farmers with 2-4 hectare plots, growing primarily a mix of the heralded bourbon and caturra coffee varieties and processing their coffees on site.

The coffee berries are manually depulped of their skin and washed of their mucilage after undergoing fermentation in small tanks, then laid to dry under cover of simple but effective solar dryers that work like small greenhouses. The group brings their coffees together for export in the town of Pedegral de Inza de Cauca.

A sweet cup with lots of body, Pedegral de Cauca brings dark fruit flavours like currant and plum with brown sugar and a lingering, creamy finish.

Ciwidey - Java, Indonesia

Subscription Coffee #42

It's all too rare that we taste a coffee from Indonesia that really catches our attention and meets all the quality criteria we have for what we share with you. This coffee from Ciwidey in West Java is one of those. While most of the java you'll encounter comes from big estates in east Java, it is in the west where many of the older, original farms are located. These farms are still growing a good deal of one of the oldest, prized cultivars, typical, known for producing a floral and flavourful cup. Farms here grow coffee in smaller plots alongside crops of rice, cabbage, carrots, and onions for the local markets.

Enjoy the big body with flavours of buttery caramel, hazelnut, and semi-sweet chocolate with a long blackberry jam finish.

Rioblanco de Tolima - Colombia

Subscription Coffee #43 Rioblanco | Tonx Coffee In Rioblanco de Tolima, in western Colombia, a handful of producers grow mostly caturra and typica variety coffee on their small, four hectare farms. With plenty of shade from their guamo, nogal and plantain trees, they harvest and process the coffee using hand-crank pulpers and simple washing tanks stationed near their houses. The coffee is laid to dry under the protective cover of translucent roofs to help keep the frequent equatorial rains at bay. The care they take shows in this lovely cup.

Sweet and fruited, rioblanco performs well across many brew methods to reveal cherry, date, hints of mint leaf and a lingering vanilla.

Santa Clara - Antigua, Guatemala

Subscription Coffee #44 Santa Clara | Tonx Coffee Ricardo Zelaya, a fourth generation coffee farmer, grows coffee on the southern slopes of the Antigua Valley, just off beautiful Volcan de Agua. As a well-studied agronomist, Ricardo was able to deliver us a stunning coffee despite looming threats from coffee leaf rust that affected yields in much of Central America. Ricardo relies on heirloom varieties (bourbon and caturra), an abundance of shade, and careful processing techniques, washing the coffee and laying it to dry on traditional patios. It's no surprise that his coffees have won numerous awards over the years.

Santa Clara is a crowd pleaser exemplary of top Antigua coffees - smooth and juicy, with flavours of raspberry, lovely cocoa, and lavender.

Chelba - Yirgacheffe, Ethopia

Subscription Coffee #45 Chelba | Tonx Coffee

Chelba, a small village in the famed Yirgacheffe growing region of Ethiopia, is also the namesake washing station of the 700 small farmers who contributed to this Tonx offering. Under the shade of acacia, podocarpus, and cordia trees, these farmers raise cattle, grow a variety of subsistence crops, as well as this heralded heirloom coffee. After hand-sorting the coffee fruit to ensure only the ripest are processed, it's pulped, fermented (for up to two days to loosen any remaining fruit), and laid to dry for about ten days.

A vibrant and sweet coffee, chelba has something for everyone with flavours of limeade, floral honey and peach.

Bella Vista - Antigua, Guatemala

Subscription Coffee #46

2013-06-16 20.05.59-2

Luis Pedro Zelaya is a fourth generation coffee farmer working in the heart of the gamed Antigua region. He is also our good friend. Managing the renowned Beneficio Bella Vista and many other well-known farms in the area, Luis Pedro has produced some truly exceptional coffees over the years we've known him. His progressive approach to every aspect of his operation is an inspiration. This past year, he built an incredible greenhouse to dry the coffee, an improvement over the typical patios. This lovely selection is made up of bourbon and caturra from the farms surrounding the mill, nestled between the volcanos Fuego, Agua, and Acatenango.

Bella Vista is creamy and sweet with flavours of dried apricot, milk chocolate, raisin and vanilla.

Happy Birthday to My Girl

December 31, 2013

December 31st, 2009 at 9:00 PM, my daughter Kylie was born.

My life has never been the same since that moment. The updates have been fairly frequent here, Facebook, Instagram on how she has changed over time. It is amusing to me as I watch new parents posting countless photos of their newborn children to reflect back on how normal that was for me at that time, as well. Now, not so much, as my daughter rarely sits still for photos (unless she is the one taking them) or give me a moment of peace to see how she is growing.

The changes happen quickly in their first year of life, and exponentially fast as they hit the toddler stage. Several times in the past year, I have mentioned that I felt my daughter was a 3 year old turning 13, because the battles have been endless as she learns how to do so many things. She has also started to master the technique of playing my decisions against her mom (or grandparents), stating quite confidently, "But my mom lets me..."

This past year, has seen the most growth compared to the other years of her life. It has been a whirlwind of adventures for us both, especially the latter half, as her mother was off working in Edmonton for the last five months of the year. A strain on all of us. Me having to raise my daughter full-time with some breaks, her being away from her daughter, and my daughter continually having to adapt to being away from her. The highlights have been too many to really list and remember fully, but here a few ones for me to remember down the road:

From Doubts to Confidence

During Kylie's third birthday party, there were some whispers from people wondering if Kylie had problems with her speech, because she was not talking as much as people thought she should. Sometime between June and July, a switch was struck and transformed her into a little chatterbox. From the moment she woke up, to the moment she went to bed, rarely was there a time of quiet for her. At least at home. Initially, it was great to hear her master new words, new sounds, more complicated sentence structures. After six months of it, it really does get to be a bit tiring to listen to constantly. Even more so with my introvert ears.

On the other hand, I am glad she is becoming quite confident with her social abilities. Yesterday, while waiting in the lobby, she had to approach and talk with everyone that passed through the doors. Always saying, "Hi. Where are you going?" A security guard in training, perhaps. I felt especially bad for the pair of people moving stuff in and out, passing past her at least five times. Each time, was the same response from her, but they didn't seem to mind it.

She still plays shy around kids her own age, even the ones she sees on a regular basis. A mix of introvert with her extroverted self (a blend of me and her mother almost to a T.)

Montessori

In September, the leap was made to enter the Montessori preschool. Quite simply: wow! What a difference on a weekly basis. Learning the alphabet, more numbers, the continents, the provinces of Canada (!) and plenty of songs. It has been a great experience for her, and it's only halfway done. Yoga every week, zumba, a trip to the 4Cat's Art Studio, field trips to the pumpkin patch, a Christmas concert, and so forth.

The best part has been seeing her practice outside of school. Tracing letters with her fingers, pointing out all the numbers she sees, writing in the air when she works on spelling her name, writing on paper and mastering her numbers and letters. It's amazing to see her progress, almost daily.

Her teachers at the school have also commented on her incredible memory. Several times at home, she has a moment where she tries to remember where something is, and heads directly to it. No endless searching around. It's rather frightening.

Adventures

  • Trip to Vancouver to see her aunt and uncle, newborn cousin, with a visit to the Aquarium.
  • Trip to Edmonton to visit her mom. First time on an airplane! Visits with grandparents and other friends. Daily trips to West Edmonton Mall and rides in Galaxyland.
  • Many hikes down the Mission Creek Greenway, or Hardy Falls south of Summerland to see the salmon running and learn more about the life cycle.
  • Helping my nearly 90 yearold grandmother adapt to life in Kelowna, helping her navigate the hallways of her residence, and meeting all the new people in that building.
  • Visits with plenty of extended family members with more happening as more people come over to check out the Okanagan Valley.
  • Birthday parties, play dates, adventures with grandparents and her mom.
  • And so much more...

Kylie is really blossoming into a lovely little lady. She may cause me to want to pull my hair our, but at the end of each day, I am glad she is a part of my life. A big part of it.

Happy birthday, Kylie, and may you continue growing in 2014.

Favourite iPad Game this year:

Toca Boca Hair Salon

Favourite songs:

Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

Roar - Katy Perry

Wake Me Up - Avicii

My Favourite Apps for iOS 7

September 20, 2013

Everyone with an iPhone knows that iOS 7 was released on Wednesday to the general public. Joining the release of the operating system came a slew of apps designed for iOS 7 only or apps being re-designed for it. I thought I would share some of my favourites so far. Some I have been using for a long time before hand, some are new. These are mainly for iPhone right now. Perhaps next week I will follow up with some of my favourite apps for iPad.

Begin

Begin is a very simple to-do app for people who don't need power features. When I say simple, I mean dead simple. This is what you can do with the app:

  • create new items
  • mark items as done
  • delete items
  • move items to Tomorrow or Today

That's it. It's great for quick lists of items you need to get at a store, or sitting down at the beginning of the day to type out what you want to get done today without fussing with complicated systems. The GTD system may be over-complicated for some people. I tend to keep it simple by writing out tasks on paper and crossing them off through my day. Begin fits in nicely to this system.

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Twitterrific

Twitterrific has always been a beautiful app to use for Twitter. With the release of iOS 7, it is absolutely stunning to look at. It has a lot of new features with the latest version, such as background updating, tweeting links in the in-app browser, and new services to send links to a read later service. Compared to the other Twitter apps out there, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how well it integrates with the operating system.

Of course, it also carries a punch with all its functionality, like notifications, multiple accounts, syncing your browsing list for when going between the Mac or iPad versions.

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Dispatch

Dispatch is my favourite email app at the moment. The Mail app in iOS 7 is beautiful, but I really prefer using something else that offers a little more. Dispatch supports both Gmail and IMAP accounts, archiving or moving emails, sending items to the Calendar or Reminders, notifications, aliases, snippets of text for emails you send out repeatedly, and more. And, of course, it looks great on iOS 7.

It's pushed out a lot of the other mail apps I have used in the past and is the only one on my home screen now.

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Instapaper

Instapaper is one of those indispensable apps for me. It has been around for years but was sold to a development company which has been able to update it more quickly than Marco Arment ever was. The new design is incredible.

If you haven't heard of it, Instapaper allows you to pull articles in from the web or other service, strips out all the advertisements and popups, to give you a clean reading experience. It also works for paginated articles, commonly found on the NY Times website, for example. Add articles you discover through the week, then spend a lazy Saturday/Sunday morning catching up on all the interesting stuff you found through the week.

A wonderful reading experience.

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Quick Hits

Some other apps to look at that I use frequently:


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