Mantras lately

I’ve been reading some inspirational books recently, and decided to make a few desktop backgrounds with positive messages to keep me motivated. I’m at a turning point in my life and sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged by obstacles or realizing how much work is ahead before I get to where I want to be. I can easily slip into a negative mindset where I think of what my life could have been if things had been different, and that kind of thinking is sooo counter productive. I sometimes need a reminder that says, “hey! stop that!”
This post is dedicated to my friend Christina in Berlin! We’ve been having a lot of long talks about our common need to stay creative, despite whatever setbacks we may have. It’s a good time to surround ourselves with a team of cheerleaders and just plow forward with our passions. So, thanks, lady, and keep at it!
All images made with photoshop and pictures I have taken.
made by made by littlekokomo.comAbove quote taken from the book “What color is your parachute?

made by littlekokomo.comNot sure who the original author of this last quote is, but I recently read it in “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Feel free to use these as your own desktop backgrounds if they are helpful to you! If you repost them, please link back to my site. Thanks and Happy Friday! xo.

Turning your photographs into canvas artwork with 44 Wide

I often get questions about this picture hanging in my living room, which is also my blog header at the moment. It looks a little abstract and mysterious, and It’s actually a photograph I took of a sunrise one morning in my old apartment. It was a cold (-30 celsius) Montreal winter day, and I was up at 6am getting ready for work, somewhat begrudgingly. It was so cold that there was a layer of ice on the windows. I’m not talking about cute little frosty ice, I mean thick sheets of ice that refused to melt for weeks. As I walked past the dining room, I couldn’t help but notice a golden shimmer coming through the window and just had to get my camera to capture it. I took it as an omen to stay positive during the dead of winter.
printing photos onto canvas Littlekokomo.com44 Wide is a Canadian company that creates high quality prints with your photographs, and produces them onto large custom canvases. I cropped the picture I took, rotated it horizontally, and uploaded it directly to their website, custom choosing my frame size, canvas texture and border. The final product, a 30X40 inch canvas, was delivered to my doorstep less than 3 weeks later. I’m pretty happy with the result; it ties the room together and more importantly, I feel like I was involved in the creative process. Rather than getting something generic that you’ll see in a ton of other homes, why not go for something more personal and unique?
printing photos onto canvas Littlekokomo.comprinting photos onto canvas Littlekokomo.comIf you subscribe to their mailing list, they notify you about frequent sales. I happened to take advantage of one that was 40% off!

printing photos onto canvas
Canvas texture up close

All links are non-affiliate and genuine appreciation. For more info on this company, please visit 44 Wide’s website.
PS: for gallery wall ideas, see here.
PPS: take a boring Ikea bookcase to the next level here.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
I went to Barcelona in 2012 and had such an amazing time, I can easily say it’s one of my favourite cities I’ve traveled to. Since then, friends have been asking me for tips on things to see or do, so I decided to make a post about it, complete with pictures from my trip that leave me very nostalgic.

First, a bit of advice:
Language: try to brush up on your Spanish. Although many people are quatrolingual, some of them only speak Catalan and a little Latin American Spanish. The menus in restaurants are often only in Latin American Spanish and Catalan, and the waiter might not be able to translate it for you. Also, the locals will respect your effort and will often be more friendly. Surprisingly, our knowledge of French came in handy more than once as well since there are a lot of foreign workers.

The Lonely Planet Barcelona guide was super helpful for us, especially for the maps (streets can be confusing). There’s even a phrase book and translation of all the popular food items. Be sure to get the latest version since the recession hit the city pretty hard and many places have had to close.

-There is a tourist info center that you can go to for any information, they were friendly and helpful. You can also go to them to book tours or day trips you might want to do.
-If you want to book a day trip, do it as early as possible because they can get full (Dali museum, Cava tours, Mount Tibidabo, lots to do..).
-Same goes for a soccer match
Bull fighting no longer happens because the animal cruelty people got involved and banned that shit.
-If you want to go to Madrid for a day, the train gets you there in 3 hours.
-make sure there are no strikes or protests happening with the transit companies if you do want to go somewhere
-Try to plan your day around a certain neighborhood so you don’t tire yourself out. You can technically walk everywhere, but a metro pass is usually worth it if you are trying to cram in a lot of sightseeing.

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Impressive street art is everywhere

Vila de Gracia was the loveliest neighborhood we saw, and if you get the chance, try to stay there. It’s like the plateau/mile-end equivalent (for montrealers) and little parades and music shows happen in the streets daily. It also has a ton of cute bars if you want to go bar hopping or dancing. And it generally felt safe, not as touristy as the more downtown areas. The metros near it were Paseig de Gracia and Fontana. We stayed at an airbnb with a rooftop terrace, from which we could see the Sagrada Familia. It was a great location and I would stay in that area again.

-Check out Parc Guell and take pictures in all the famous spots. The Gaudi stuff too, but you already knew that.

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Parc Guell
barcelona travel guide
Gaudi up above

– Walk along the ramblas. Ramblas are like Montreal’s St-Laurent street sale X 10000. There are 3 of them and they all lead down to the beach area.

barcelona travel guide
Ramblas street view
Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Ramblas view from the museum of erotica

– Our favorite beach was the gay beach closer to the east edge (I think it was called Barceloneta). It was less crowded and generally felt safe. Be sure to not bring any valuables, and keep change for metro fare.
– The beach has many bars all along it, which provide a nice break from the sand. Despite the fact that they look like tourist traps, the prices weren’t as high as we expected. If you go to a beach bar, be sure to order a drink called Clara, a lovely combination of beer and lemonade. You can also bring your booze to the beach, and I recommend finding a convenience store and getting a canned drink called Damm Lemon (which is like a canned Clara).

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Mediterranean Beach times, so close to the busy city
J is scared of heights but still enjoyed the teleferic

-A nice cheap thing to do is to go up Mont Juic (pronounced Mont Jew, no joke). You can take the teleferic and see the view of the whole city. There’s also some castle/military building to see for free up there. You can walk down back to the city, it’s a pretty beautiful walk through the mountain.

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Old castle structure on Mont Juic (Spot the Josh)

-If you like champagne, try Cava, the Spanish equivalent. It’s usually quite cheap to order in bars and if you really like it you can take a day trip to one of the vineyards (Cava Tours).

-If you are planning a night at home, you can get a decent bottle of red wine from the grocery stores for 4 euros.

-Get TAPAS for dinner! My favorite place was Catalana, which you have to try. The address is 236 Mallorca, but go early ’cause there can be an insane lineup later in the evening. Split a few dishes amongst each other and try a local beer.

-When you don’t know what to order, you can’t go wrong with jamon (sorry, vegetarians). The cured meats there are delicious. Also, patatas fritas, and seafood if you’re into that. If you like what the stranger sitting next to you is having, ask the waiter for “lo mismo” and point to it. (It just means “the same”).

-Go to a Gelateria, any place that sells gelato. Nutella gelato, enough said.

**Pickpockets are a big problem in this city; on our first day we witnessed a guy steal someone’s bag and ride off on his bike. So have a messenger bag you can keep in sight, one that can’t be opened too easily. Wear one of those gross money belt things if you need to carry your passport, even if just for peace of mind.

It was really hard to condense this to a short list, but I hope you have as great of a time as we did!

Spring Positivity

Magnolia tree from my trip to DC a few years back

It’s been a pretty rough week and I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this subject, which led me to just avoid my computer altogether. During my most recent medical visit, my doctor told me that my chances of having thyroid cancer are between 15-38%. While these odds are still in my favor, I was hoping to hear “Don’t worry, it’s benign, you can go back to living your life now!” But I need to start considering surgery, continue undergoing several tests, chasing down doctors, calling departments that never answer, and living with agonizing uncertainty.

In an effort to keep a positive perspective, I’m going to try very hard to enjoy my life and make future plans despite all the anxiety. It’s spring, my favorite season, that time of year that is full of hope and optimism for what is to come. Here are some of the little things that cheered me up this week:

avocado toast
Avocados are in season, which means I get to enjoy my favourite snack: avocado on toast
My work being featured on Montreal’s new blog
Flowers from Jean-Talon market, blue mason jars used as vases

Have a beautiful week, everyone.