Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Life lately.

Here's a little rundown on what's been up in my world so far in 2017.  This is my life currently...

Reading:  The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley.  I received this book for Christmas, and it is the subject of our next book club discussion.  I'm about 3/4 of the way through, and finding it quite...bland, unfortunately.  Underwhelming.  A bit of a snoozer.  But I'm plugging away, forcing myself to read at least one chapter a day so that I can be done and move on to something else.

Watching:  Having Fridays and Mondays off this time of year allows me extra Netflix time, so I've been blowing through some pretty great TV. Since Christmas, I've wrapped up the most recent season of Scandal, watched The Crown (and loved it), and have now started my next Netflix commitment, which is Gilmore Girls.  Almost done the first season.  So far, not madly in love with it, but I'm told it will only get better.  Hey, Jimmy Fallon loves it, so I must too.

Listening to:  Drake White & Ed Sheeran.  Two pretty opposite ends of the spectrum, yet I can't seem to get enough.  Drake White's song "Making Me Look Good Again" inspired me to download his whole album, Spark, and it may well be the best thing I've done so far in 2017.  Aside from also downloading Ed Sheeran's two new tunes, "Castle on the Hill" and "Shape of You".  Musical investments are so worth it when you get as much play out of them as I have with these guys... so far, haven't tired of any of it!

Eating: ugh.  One of my 2017 goals that I've been failing miserably at is eating healthier.  I've had the odd good day here and there, but for the most part, still eating far too much crap (chips, chocolates, candy...) and eating out as often as I can, which is no bueno.  On my day off Monday, I made chili and made my first attempt at homemade buns, which I was super happy with except for a little mistake I made.  The tops came out super-browned, which I originally thought was because I'd cooked them too long, but it was actually because I mis-read the recipe.  I thought I was to put melted butter on before they went into the oven, when actually you're to butter the tops after they come out.  Whoops.  Lesson learned.

Inspired by: Michelle Obama.  I got a little caught up in Obama Fever last week, as the farewell addresses were going on, and Michelle also made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon.  Breaks my heart that these fine people are on their way out of the White House in the US.  What classy, well-spoken, intelligent human beings.  And yes, Michelle has inspired me.  She's inspired me with her genuine, down-to-earth, humble approach, her sense of humour, and most importantly, she's inspired me to move.  I heard her talking about her Let's Move campaign, and honestly, there have been days where I don't feel like exercising or doing anything, and I'll think, "Michelle Obama would tell me to just get out there and do it."  I've taken more walks, danced more, and just moved in general more in the past week thanks to her!

Working on:  A few projects, actually.  1) Last Friday, I cleaned the "junk room", which used to be my "craft room".  In the past few years, it's become the catch-all for anything that I didn't know what to do with, and then on top of it all, it's where the Christmas decorations are stored.  Last year, I never got the decs completely put away - some were in bins, but most were scattered about the room haphazardly.  Two weekends ago, I took Christmas down, and just threw it in that room.  It was awful.  A total disaster.  I promised myself I wouldn't leave it like that all year again, so I tackled putting everything away and cleaning it last Friday.  It's not perfect, but a hell of a lot better than it was.  And I could actually do crafts in there again if I wanted to. Next up: Front hall closet.  It's gotta get mucked out, big time.

2) Getting rid of stuff I don't need.  In the junk room cleanse, I discovered all the old issues of The Equity I had been hanging on to.  I hadn't thrown one out since I started writing the Quyon social notes a few years ago. Eeep!  I decided this was stupid.  I have all my notes saved on my computer, why did I need a hard copy?  Stupid.  Out they go. Along with Sears catalogues and other magazines that have been piling up for years.  WHY do I hoard this stuff? WHY???

3) A puzzle! Oh I love puzzling in the winter.  I got a puzzle for Christmas that I started on Friday afternoon, and it's been coming together so nicely.

Wearing:  Blanket scarves.  They are my fave piece of clothing these days.  Not only fashionable, but also handy to wrap around myself when I'm cold, which is often.

Feeling:  Not the best these days, to be honest.  Nothing major, but... I woke up Sunday morning with a rash all over my face.  No idea where it came from, or why I have it, but ugh.  I have sensitive skin, breaking out in rashes or hives is not uncommon for me, but seriously.  My FACE?!?  Thanks a lot, world. Thanks a lot.  Then yesterday morning, I woke up with a "funny" head, which developed into a sinusy headache during the day, and by last night, was a whopper.  I pumped myself with Advil, put the magic bag on my neck, and stayed horizontal on the couch all evening.  But guess what, it's still here.  ugh again.  And, on top of it all, in my Michelle Obama-inspired move more quest, I decided to put together my own little Zumba routine the other night, and ever since, I've been hobbling around like an old lady.  ugh x 3.

Looking forward to:  Some fun things going on this weekend, including a movie night, and celebrating a few birthdays... an upcoming trip with my Mom... getting some R&R... and I know it's still a long way off, but the re-boot of Prison Break coming in April!  Eeeek!!  Lots coming up to get excited about! :)

What's up in your life lately??

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

So, as we established yesterday, we are well into 2017 now.  And quite frankly, I'm relieved.  There was a lot of talk about how 2016 was an awful year, and for the most part, I agree.  It really wasn't the best year of my life.  Not the worst either, of course, but I spent a lot of it filled with anxiety and stressing over things I had little to no control over.

That being said, 2016 had it's good days too, and I'd like to take a minute to reflect on the days that made me smile, the happy times and good memories, the accomplished goals and big moments of the year.

  • Paint Days and Paint Nites galore!  One of my goals for 2016 was to embrace my creative side, and so I took every opportunity I could to participate in Paint Days & Nites, both with my talented neighbour Shannon, and in the city.  Not only is it a great time with friends, I also find it stress-relieving and cathartic to paint. I am growing quite a collection of art now, and it really is something I enjoy very much and I'm proud of.
  • By extension, I'd like to commemorate 2016 as the year I made my first real art purchase!  As I mentioned, my neighbour across the street, Shannon Purcell, is a very talented, self-taught, local artist, and I LOVE her work.  I've enjoyed spending time with Shannon as she's taught me so much about painting and helped me rediscover my creative side, but I also had a goal of one day owning a "Shannon Original".  This past summer, I finally decided which piece of art hanging in her home studio that I wanted to be mine, and Shannon let me make payments on it throughout the summer.  The day I finally got to bring it home was an exciting day for me.
  • FALLONTINE'S DAY!!  This might have finally been the year I learned to enjoy V-day, previously one of my most hated days of the year.  And it's all thanks to Jimmy Fallon, of course.  I made "Fallontines" - bags of homemade cookies and candy - and handed them out to family, friends, and kids at church.  Also, Jimmy had a Valentine's Day Special, a two-hour show highlighting the best moments of The Tonight Show over this first two years as host.  For the first time since, like, elementary school, I think I enjoyed the day.  Truly enjoyed it.
  • Getting the Internet!  Getting Netflix!!  I emerged from the Dark Ages in early March, finally getting Wifi in my home and setting up a Netflix account.  BEST. THING. EVER.  I have SO enjoyed my time with Netflix, and just having Internet in my home.  Fabulous.  And it also has opened up many new crushes in my life: Danny from The Mindy Project.  Harvey from Suits.  Jim from The Office.  Fitz from Scandal.  Prince Philip from The Crown.  *sigh* drool.
  • Relay for Life!  After missing the 2015 edition, it was great to return to the Slipper Sisters this year, as we raised funds for the Canadian Cancer Society, and walked all night in memory of loved ones who have fought, or in honour of those who are still fighting, this terrible disease.  It was a night of ups and downs, as usual, but we all emerged #stillfriends, and I was glad to be back this year.
  • FINALLY paying off my line of credit.  This one was a long time coming... in my early twenties, I got into credit card trouble, and ended up having to take out a line of credit (with a lower interest rate) to pay it off.  Since then, I've been slowly working at paying off the line of credit.  It wasn't easy, but I made a concerted effort in early 2016 to chip away at it in bigger chunks, and it was a huge relief to officially pay it off in full early last summer.  I celebrated with dinner out, a pedicure, and Lindsay teaching me to be "frugal" by taking me shopping at Value Village. LOL!
  • Celebrating Canada Day was a highlight of the year for me, for sure.  It was a different celebration for me, as it was the first year in my adult life that I was not part of the Canada Day Committee in town, which meant that I got to take part in the family celebration that happens at my home!  A bunch of my aunts, uncles, and cousins gather in my yard for a BBQ and to watch the parade, and it was SO much fun.  It was a little bittersweet watching the Committee walk by carrying the flag and not being with them, but other than that, I loved the day.  Then the next day, we celebrated again at my aunt & uncle's in Sand Point.  While it was a cool, rainy day, and I was a little hungover, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Canada Day experience.

  • Ice cream.  OK, this might be silly, but having an ice cream place right in town for the first time in years was SO nice!! Not good for my waistline, mind you, but I loved summer trips to the store for ice cream.
  • Summer vacation at the Camp was, as usual, a wonderful week of unwinding, relaxing, and enjoying being "disconnected" from the world.  It has become our home away from home, and I so look forward to our time there.
  • My Birthday!  Okay, so, post-30 birthdays kind of suck, but I choose to celebrate anyways, and I like to drag the celebration out as long as I can.  This year included a party courtesy of Aunt Marion & Co. at the Camp, a movie date and lunch with my niece and nephew, a surprise cake at the golf course with friends, and a BBQ with family.  Wonderful memories.
  • THE TRAGICALLY HIP!!!  It was a sad year for Hip fans, as we learned in the spring that iconic lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  The Hip decided to go on one last cross-country farewell tour in the summer, and by some miracle, I was able to score tickets to their August show in Ottawa.  I also had a little "Hip Party" at my place the following Saturday, the day they broadcast their final show in Kingston, live and uninterrupted on the CBC.  I will always treasure those days of "Hip fever".  It was a special time as our country came together to celebrate and honour Gord and the boys.

  • Shawville Fair is another time I'll look back on fondly when I think of 2016.  I had the most fun at the Fair this year than I've had in a few years.  Great food, great music, beer tent shenanigans, fun with friends.  I loved the 2016 Fair.
  • Photo Safaris and just taking pictures in general.  My Project 365 ended in early August, and I have so missed taking my camera out every day since then that I decided to start a new Project 365 for 2017.  
  • The weekend trip to Kingston.  I didn't get too far from home this past year, but I really enjoyed my long weekend in Kingston with friends.  It was nice to just get away for a few days, eat good food, shop, act like tourists.  It was fun!
  • Early decorating for Christmas.  I was troubled and sad and scared after my American pals elected Trump as their next President (still am, honestly), so to cheer myself up, I busted out the Christmas decs way early this year.  Like, literally right after Remembrance Day.  And I don't regret it one bit.  I think it will be my new practice, to decorate in mid-November.  
  • Attending a Sens game for the first time in a long time... and being there for Chris Neil's 1000th game celebration!!  Then, a few weeks later, watching the game on TV when they retired Alfie's #11.  With Wade Redden there to give a speech, it was definitely a big night for me. ;)
  • Taking up Curling.  It was a decision I struggled with, and I'm still not sure if I'm cut out to be a curler, but at least I'm trying something new and getting some exercise while I'm at it.  And I do enjoy the social aspect!
  • Saying farewell to Rev. Nancy.  After 8 years with our church, Nancy moved on to a new congregation closer to home, and so we celebrated her time with us with a farewell service in December.  We will miss her, but it's a move that made sense for her, and we all wish her well with her new congregation!
  • So many good times with family and friends...dinners out, pool party, book clubs, girls nights...too many to mention!!

There's more... now that I'm thinking about "the good days" and the "special moments", it's amazing how quickly they are coming to me!  I guess 2016 wasn't that bad after all!

I hope to make 2017 an even better year - a year that I focus on my own happiness, and doing things that make me a better person; a more calm and peaceful and creative and loving person. Here are a few of my goals to keep me on target:
  • Read 15 books
  • Keep exercising, and return to healthier eating habits.  Focus on being "healthy" rather than "skinny".
  • Start jogging again in the spring
  • Project 365: A Year in Shades of Grey - my latest photography endeavour.
  • Continue my 52-Week Money Challenge. (this will be my FOURTH year doing this, and it is so nice to have that pot of money at the end of the year, to use towards bigger purchases, or to pay off  Christmas bills.  I'm starting the year virtually debt-free thanks to my money pot from 2016!)
  • Play guitar.  Toughen up the fingers.  Write a song.
  • Paint more.  Be artistic whenever possible.  Buy my own supplies and paint at home.
  • Take better care of my skin, especially taking time for a bedtime routine with moisturizers for face and feet.
  • Look up to see if there's a Daily Devotion website or app I can use, to center myself each morning and focus even more on my faith.
  • Make Danica's Scrapbook (long overdue...)
  • Watch Gilmore Girls
  • Go to the movies whenever possible.
  • Have fun!  Say YES to things I want to do and NO to things that stress me out!  Do the things I LOVE to do MORE!!!
Let's do this, 2017!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Holiday Re-Cap

It's January 11th.  2017 is already 11 days old, and I'm just getting to my holiday post now.  Ack!  But better late than never, right??

I love Christmas.  So I'm understandably blue when the season is over.  It's making me sad even to do a "re-cap", because that's like admitting it's in the past.

But, like I said.... January 11th.  No denying it any longer.  It's over.

It was a wonderful holiday season.  For me, it felt like it officially "kicked off" at noon on December 23rd, when the Mountainview gang gathered in the shop for brews and tunes to celebrate.  I hadn't planned on staying long - one beer, I swore - but it turned out to be such a great little party that I stayed well on into the afternoon!  The guys were playing guitar and fiddle and singing, and one beer turned into two, turned into three, turned into four... It was so much fun!!  I missed my planned afternoon nap because of it, but it was worth it.

That evening, I had supper with Ryan, Lindsay, and Sam, while watching Christmas movies, a yearly tradition we have that I so enjoy.  After Linds and I finished "It's a Wonderful Life" (truth: we slept through it. oops!) I was off to my cousin Kayla's, as she and her hubby Ben were hosting an Eve of Christmas Eve party.  Yet again, a wonderful time!  This day was just bursting with Christmassy fun, and I loved every minute of it!!

Christmas Eve day was actually quiet, with it being a Saturday and no plans until evening.  I took my time getting ready during the day, had my traditional viewing of "Miracle on 34th Street", packed up all of my stuff, and headed to my mom's late afternoon.  We had a quick supper before heading to church for a terrific Christmas Eve service.

We had no major plans for after church, so I decided to come up with some games and fun to keep things lively for the kids.  We enjoyed some drinks and snacks while we bobbed for candy canes, played pass the present with oven mitts, enjoyed a few Christmas-themed Mad Libs, and played some Christmas trivia.  We also read "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and passed the book around, each taking a turn at reading a page - it was Caden and Danica's idea to do it that way, and it was really cute to watch them each taking their turns.

Christmas morning, Danica and Grandma were the first ones up - usually I lie on the couch waiting for the kids, but this year, I was wakened when Dan whacked me across the face to get me up. LOL!  Once we were all up, we dove into our favourite Christmas morning breakfast of sticky buns, opened our stockings, then moved on to the gifts that were piled beneath the tree.

The kids were super stoked with what Santa had left for them, and I have to say, I was pretty thrilled too!  I was a lucky girl this year.  I was gifted with a bluetooth speaker, a Josh Donaldson Blue Jays t-shirt, a blanket scarf, a rolling pin, two of the books I need for this year's book club, a new Starbucks travel mug, iTunes gift card, among other things.  I felt very fortunate!

We joined my brother-in-law's family for Christmas dinner that night, and it was so nice.  The turkey dinner was delicious, and it was an evening of laughter and fun.  We are thankful to them for inviting us to join them!

Boxing Day was another great day.  We lazed around the house while the kids played with their new toys.  I read a lot, and napped a lot... we watched hockey, and Mom cooked her turkey, so we had another amazing dinner.  YUM!

The week between Christmas and New Year's seemed to fly by in a blur.  Way too fast for my liking!!!  I had some solid Netflix time, as I binged on The Mindy Project and Scandal, and also got to the theatre to see "Collateral Beauty" and "Sing".  The latter was the movie date I had offered up for our church's fundraising auction back in November, so I had fun taking the winners to McDonalds and to the theatre.  It was a blast!

New Year's Eve is my sister's birthday, and this year she was turning the big 4-0, so I decided to drag her with me to the Legion in town, where there was a New Year's Eve party going on.  Yet again... a blast!  We brought in the New Year with great friends, party hats, glasses of champagne, and noisemakers.  I was SO glad we went!!

New Year's Day, we had a little surprise up our sleeve for Kara's birthday, as we had a few people in for dinner to celebrate her 40th.  We all had a great time visiting and enjoying a delicious potluck supper of ham, tourtiere, scalloped potatoes, beans, etc.  Mom had made an ice cream cake for dessert, and it was a big hit too.  The first day of 2017 was a great one!!

So that's the holiday awesome week off spent with family and friends, and I'm still so sad that it's over!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Almost there...but not quite...

Just wanted to pop in to say Happy New Year to all my bloggy pals!  I'm still here!!

I have a Christmas re-cap coming, and a New Year's Resolutions post swirling around in my head, but just haven't had the time to get back at it yet.  I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to get back in action after Christmas break, but man-oh-man, I struggle!  Hopefully I'll get back in the swing of things before 2017 is over... ;)

See you all soon! :)