Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Hello, this is me!

Hello, I'm Maria.

I’m a RYT- 200 yoga and meditation instructor with a background in engineering and management.
I first experienced yoga in 2012, when I tried a yoga class by Mr Yoga, Daniel Lacerda. I was somewhat flexible as long as I can remember myself, I had taken gymnastics when I was much younger and throughout my life, I would always spend time stretching, adding movement to the stretches and being playful, doing cartwheels and handstands after my jogs and other workouts. In fact, I would spend more time stretching before, as warm-up, and after the workout than the time I would spend for the workout itself. No wonder I fell in love with yoga once I tried it and I have been practising ever since.
I am a half-full glass kind of person, an optimist who’s on a path to self-discovery and happiness. A creative Sagittarius, a food enthusiast, a fan of volleyball, crafting and gardening, I believe in cultivating mind, body and spirit.
I’m here to help those who wish to find balance, connect with themselves, uniting body and mind, breath with mindful movement and empower them to live a healthy, happy life.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Extending the living space outside and on a budget

This is a story on a summer project I worked a few years back.

Coming from a warm country, Greece, needless to say I love the sun!

Winter lasts long in Toronto so everyone is eager to soak as much sun as possible, during spring and summer! 

Living in an apartment has it's benefits (concierge, cleaning crew, gym, pool, sauna, underground parking and NO Shovelling snow during winter!!, to name a few) but definitely lacking your own garden and limited space are the major disadvantages I have found.

As soon as the weather started to get warm, I took the opportunity to "spruce up" the balcony (Thankfully, we have a balcony with a view!!).

So, this is how the balconies in our building look like, not so fancy I admit and surprisingly, not many people seem to be using their balconies, as you can see from this photo.

I was very keen with the idea of extending the living space outside, since we had a balcony, so I wanted to have a cozy, colourful corner where I could go and relax, be alone or enjoy it with company when I wanted to. I was imagining lots of plants surrounding me, mostly herbs, to travel my mind through the smells of basil, lavender, rosemary and mint, or have some fresh vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, lettuce, chilli peppers, fresh onions, chives and arugula to add to our salads or cooking. And let's face it, who wouldn't like to wake on a Sunday morning, prepare an omelette and chop a few leaves of freshly-cut chives over that omelette?? Ummm, I do!!

I had done my research online, gotten inspiration from Pinterest and websites, taken exact measurements of the dimensions of the balcony and had a rough idea of what I wanted to buy. I definitely wanted the "patio furniture" to be wooden, functional and also wanted to get wood flooring (the surface of the balcony is unfinished cement, as you can see on the photo), but since I was on a tight budget, I decided to head to the nearest Ikea.

The wooden flooring I liked was the brown stained Runnen (2 packs of 9 tiles would cover the whole surface). I really liked the ÄPPLARÖ series; the table/stool seemed perfect for double-duty and so did the storage/bench, where I could hide things, such as the potting soil and gardening tools. I was advised to get a bottle of the brown VÅRDA protective glazing paint, for a touch-up and protection.   

I was debating whether I should go for green or red highlights (cushions. planters and decoration) and finally decided on the red, as the plants could provide the soothing green I was longing for. With that in mind, I grabbed 2 red cushions for the bench. In case we needed extra seating, I thought the red TERJE folding chairs would be very practical so picked up two of those too!

Next stop, planters! I loved the SOCKER hanging flower box with holder so picked up 2 of those and 2 of the small SOCKER plant pots too and a watering can, all in red! I saw a wooden folding plant stand so grabbed that as well. By then I was getting all hyper and excited with "operation balcony" and couldn't wait to go home and get started!

I rushed home and set the flooring and the furniture on the balcony, laying them out to see how they would all blend together.

With these thoughts in mind, I got down to business, bought brushes and foam rollers for painting, wood stain from Ikea, put on my purple gloves and started painting the wooden tiles, then the furniture, even the planters!! My back was complaining after 3 hours! As the space was limited, I actually had to move the furniture, tiles and plants to one side of the balcony, paint a section, let it dry and move everything to the other side of the balcony and continue with the rest!!

Probably not the fastest way but it worked for me! Sun was shining, I was listening to my music and I kept on painting. A couple of hours later (spread throughout a few days later) the balcony turned into this gorgeous urban oasis!!

I kept moving the furniture from one side to the other, trying to optimize use of space and comfort, I also got a little carpet and then off to start planting!

We spent many evenings and nights at our "patio", having long discussions over a drink (my favourite summer drinks remain mojitos, chilled wine and Rekorderlig cider, yum!!) staring at the stars, or having our breakfast on a weekend morning..