Nap...Interrupted

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Exhausted

Saturday, February 18, 2017
Who knew looking at vehicles would be so draining?! 
Curently loving the Kia Sportage and the Nissan Juke and Rogue...

Get to the point

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lonely....I'm Mr. Lonely

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Decided to take part in my friend Barb's month end Photo A Day Challenge for February. Prepare yourself for the most random photos...

Dear Donald Trump Supporters and Surrogates...

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Hello Conservatives. Please don’t worry – this letter is not to slam, insult, denigrate, or belittle you. I fully support your right to vote and to vote for whomever you choose, even if we disagree. Voting is an important right and a responsibility. While I would prefer to see Hillary Clinton become president instead of Donald Trump (even though she’s not my ideal choice), if your side wins the election, I will fully accept the results. Full disclosure: I’m not American, I’m Canadian so I don’t have a say or a part in your election but if I did, I would still feel the same way.

However, I’m not writing to you to talk about the American electoral process or exercising your right to vote. I would like to address an issue that continues to pop up, although it seems not as frequently the closer to the election we get, despite all the other nonsense that’s been going on. I’d like to address the accusations of sexual assault against Donald Trump by a number of women. While not all Republicans/Conservatives feel this way, the media chooses to interview those of you who question why these women are coming forward NOW, some of them years after the events allegedly took place. On behalf of women everywhere who have experienced the unwanted groping and grabbing, the unsolicited vulgar comments, the rape and the abuse, let me tell you why.

We feel ashamed. We feel embarrassed. We feel, somehow someway, it is our fault. We know we are more likely to be dismissed than believed. We will be questioned, with less concern than that shown to the accused, about what we were wearing; about whether we had been drinking and if so, how much; about whether or not we led the other person(s) on; about our sexual history. We know that even if the person(s) is (are) arrested and it goes to trial, the likelihood they will be found guilty is slim. We know that if the odds have been defied and the person(s) have somehow been found guilty, the sentence they receive will be nothing compared to the shame, humiliation, and filth we feel for the rest of our lives for what has been done to us without our permission.

Yes, there will be a small percentage (no I don’t have actual numbers or data to back me up so please don’t ask) of women who MAY bring charges like those claimed against Donald Trump for time in the spotlight, the hope that they will get some sort of monetary settlement, etc. However, I assure you, as a woman who has experienced some of the things mentioned above, that number IS SMALL. I don’t know any woman who wants to endure on purpose the kind of humiliation, degradation and scrutiny laying these sorts of charges results in. No amount of money or “fame”, if that’s what you want to call it, will change how a woman feels about herself or what has happened to her. You can’t wash away the feeling of someone’s unwanted hands groping your body or the memory of being violated with cash.
How many of us remember being told the kid in elementary or junior high school who pulled your hair, called you names, etc did it because “they liked you”?  That's bullshit and we need to stop telling our children this. I knew a kid like that when I was in school - his name was Chad S. He would flip up my skirt or pull down my pants in front of everyone at recess. He didn’t do it to anyone else in our class. Just me. Did I think he liked me?  No. Instead I wracked my brain trying to figure out what I’d done to make him pick on me. By the time we’d graduated to Junior High School, he’d graduated to forcefully grabbing my breasts while we played Dungeons and Dragons at a mutual friend’s house. Repeatedly. Did I ever tell my parents? No. Did I stop hanging out with my other friends in those settings? No. Why? I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I felt, somehow someway, it was my fault. All the other kids playing D&D were boys, perhaps this is just what boys do. I had developed breasts earlier than anyone else in our class. I should be hiding them better so he wouldn’t be tempted to grab them. I began a lifelong habit of hunching my shoulders to try to lessen how much they stood out compared to my flatter chested friends who didn’t seem to get this unwanted attention for having been born a girl.

Even before that, while staying with family friends while my parents were away, I had their oldest teenage son ask to see what was between my legs. He tried to convince me that it was ok. He told me I knew what he had because I had a brother but he didn’t have a sister so he didn’t know what girls had between their legs. To this day, I still don’t know how I got out of that situation but I remember avoiding him from that moment forward. Did I tell anyone? No. Why? I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I felt, somehow someway, it was my fault.

When I went away to school, a drunk man followed me off the bus, across a crowded parking lot and into the entrance of a local mall, calling me by my name and grabbing me. I was wearing my beloved high school jacket which had my name on it. I never wore my jacket again. I felt it was my fault and I had done something to encourage his unwanted behaviour.
These are just a few examples from my childhood.  Experiences I am now finally able to share without being reduced to tears (although I came close while writing this). This doesn’t begin to cover the last 23 years of my life.  While I haven’t undertaken a scientific poll of my female (or male) acquaintances, family members or friends, I know that if I did most of them would have their own tales to tell. It’s not something we talk about, at least not openly and freely like we should. Why, you may ask yet again? For all the same reasons we don’t tell someone in the first place. We feel ashamed. We feel embarrassed. We feel, somehow someway, it was our fault.

You may not believe the dozen women who have come out publicly and claimed Donald Trump sexually assaulted them and that is your prerogative. I understand the particular timing of their coming forward might cause some of you to consider Democratic Party involvement. I get it – politics is a dirty game and both sides often don’t play fair. However, please don’t be so quick to judge them on why they are coming forward now. Think of your sister; your mother; your daughter; your friend; your coworker. While you might think they are strong enough to not let these things happen to them, or god forbid if it does happen, that they would come forward immediately. You would be wrong. It doesn’t matter how strong you are in any other aspect of your life – being groped, grabbed, raped, assaulted, pawed, kissed, or touched in any way without permission can destroy the strongest person you know, man or woman, and leave them a shell of the person you once knew. What you see on the outside often masks what's going on inside.

I wish you and your candidate luck in the upcoming election. At this point it could go either way. Here's hoping that whatever happens, your country can come together once its all over.


Sincerely,

Your (still healing) northern neighbour.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore

Thursday, August 04, 2016
As some of you know, over a year or so ago, I finally paid off my dreaded student loans *thunderous applause*. It represented the last of my debts and I finally felt as though I’d thrown off the yoke of repayment which had hung around my neck since I graduated back in 1999. At times it had felt as though I would never shake that monthly payment. However, I stuck with it, began making extra payments when I could, sometimes of only a dollar or two, and watched gleefully as my balance gradually diminished. Freedom! Ok, so I still have my credit card but I don’t put that into the same category as loans and other large financial obligations.

My whole life I have longed to travel. I attribute part of this to growing up in military family. When you move across the country every 4-5 years, you get used to seeing new things and visiting new places. While we didn’t travel far and wide for vacations during my childhood, I was always curious about distant lands and different cultures. Unlike a couple of my high school friends, I didn’t do the classic Senior Trip to Europe. I didn’t take my first “real” vacation until after I’d graduated when my best buddy and I flew to California to see Disneyland. After that, it was onto university where spare money was almost nonexistent and the most exotic locale I visited was a friend’s couch to watch a foreign film. A few years after getting my degree, I put myself deeper into debt by financing my next vacation (18 years after my first) and took a solo trip to the UK.

I was always jealous of friends and coworkers who traveled every year – a week during the winter in Mexico or the Caribbean, two weeks in the summer for a cruise or off to Europe. It’s not their fault I haven’t had the opportunities to travel but I was still a bit bitter hearing about their fancy fruit drinks, exotic excursions, and seeing their sun-drenched snapshots.  If I continued to only take a break every 18 years, I’d be lucky if I managed two more trips before I kick the proverbial bucket. Inspired by my well-travelled friends, and my mother who seems to be able to manage at least one short trip every year, I’m changing my outlook on vacations. No longer will it be me sitting on my couch in my sloppy jam-jams watching day time television (although, yes occasionally I will still do that). I am actively looking at filling up my passport!

It’s now no secret that I’m heading off to Hawaii with Mommikins in the New Year. However, I’m already looking ahead to my next two vacations! Yeah, I’m going a little hog-wild crazy here. My thoughts are that I “might” be able to afford a short (week) vacation in January with Mom, and then take a week vacation by myself (or with a friend) in the fall. I’m not one of those people who want to vacation in summer. Its tooooo hot for me to want to vacation here in Canada and many of the places I want to go have similar or hotter climates. No thank you. Plus, everyone else takes their vacations in July and August so I’m looking at September. Heck, depending on the location, I’d even look at October (plus it could be slightly cheaper!).

It would be nice to be one of those people who have a passport filled with stamps from around the world. To have had unique adventures, learning about history where it happened, and experiencing the way the rest of the world lives their lives. I don’t need to live for a month with the Bushmen of the Kalahari or something equally exotic. What I do want is memories, images and stories of my own from the places I’ve always wanted to visit – and the ones I didn’t realize I wanted to visit until I ended up there.
I’m already thinking of where I’d like to go come next fall – and yes, I’m aware it’s a year away. This gal’s an advance planner, remember? Nothing decided yet; I don’t even know what continent I might end up on. I do know that it will be for about a week (give or take a day or two). Possibly with a friend who’s fairly well-travelled or maybe on my own, everything is kind of up in the air. I’m taking suggestions if you would like to offer one. Nowhere hot, please. I’m not looking for a “resort” type vacation this time around. Lots of history, interesting things to see, fun things to do, etc. And I’m not averse to doing a tour package depending on the location.


As I leave you, I’d like to leave you with a question – tell me about your favourite vacation spot, your first “big” vacation, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.

The Bucket List

Monday, July 25, 2016
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My good friend Allyson recently had a birthday and it got her thinking about what she wanted to accomplish with the second half of her life (yes we're both of that age now...).  One of the items she mentioned was travelling the Silk Road. I think this is an amazing goal. After much excitement over the possibility of one day taking part in the Mongol Rally, I started thinking of my own list of things I'd like to do.

The Bucket List - everyone has one, whether they’ve written it down or not. Some call it by different names but it boils down to the same thing:  all those things you want to do or accomplish by the time you die (aka kick the “Bucket”). These lists often include things we say we would do if we had the (a) time, (b) money, or (c) balls.  As with most wishes, desires, dreams, etc., they change over time as we develop new relationships, gain new experiences, or become exposed to new ideas and possibilities. A few years back, on a different version of my blog, I had created my own bucket list. That old blog has since been deleted and I have no idea what used to be on that list. Even if I had access to the list I had created, I’m at a different place in my life so many of those former items likely would no longer be something I want to accomplish. 


I’m starting a new list of “before I die” items so I can track some of them and share my experiences with those of you who care to read about them.  People might find them bland and boring, others might think I copied off many of these off of someone else’s list, and still others won’t care two licks about what silly things I feel like crossing off as I get older. Bollocks to the lot of you. It’s my list and these things are important to me for one reason or another and that’s all I care about.  My list will be constantly changing as I think of new things I’d like to try, new adventures to conquer, new lessons to be learned. I hope you enjoy it, even if it just makes you giggle at some of the absurd or seemingly normal things (to some) I want to take on.

Check out my list here.

Race #1 of 2016 - First Responders Half Marathon (5K)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Despite not training at all (come on...its April. In Edmonton!), Mom and I finished our first race of the season on Sunday - the First Responders Half Marathon. 5K for me, 10K for Mommikins. After having a month of warm sunny weather, the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped and the rains began to fall just in time for the race. Argh. However, we were undaunted. After all, we're Canadian women and we're Leydens/Londons. Weather Smeather.
Look how giddy we are....fools.
Mom's 10K group headed off five minutes before those of us doing the five but I figured given how fast she walks compared to me, she'll probably catch up to me shortly before the finish line. I started off fairly strong, although as usual at the back of the pack (I'm slow and happy with that). The cold and lack of regular walking threatened to hobble me as my toes began to stiffen and ache but they soon realized this was not some sick form of torture and loosened up.

I had heard the announcer say something about a hill right before we took off but didn't pay him much attention - he's probably talking about the half marathoners. No way they're going to make us short distance folks do a hill. Pfffft. Silly. I apparently should get a hearing aid. At about the 5K halfway point, the course vears up Groat Road hill (or whatever its official name is .... Satan's Sidewalk?). For everyone. Why would you do this? WTF?! But yes, there it was. The hill. I gave it hell as I powered my way up to the top and beyond to the turnaround point. People running back down the hill paid little heed to anyone still trying to climb up and I was almost involved in a number of near collisions as they figured I should move off the sidewalk despite also wearing a race bib. Courtesy people. There's more than just you Speedy Gonzales' flying downhill. As I started back down towards the eventual finish line (I know it was down there somewhere!), I highfived a lady on her way up. She was surprised but happy; I then went to high five her companion who I thought had seen me. I ended up causing her to almost fall over as I surprised her. Note to self - make sure to make eye contact first before attempting any future high fives. Inspired by the gaggles of 10K runners now flying past me on the downslope, I said Fuck It and went for it myself. Careful not to throw myself face first into the pavement, I kept to my penguin running pace and eneded up running most of the way downhill. 

Remember the first five words of this blog post: "Despite not training at all"?  Yeah, deciding to run down the hill was not my smartest move. Not training included not doing my stretches for my runners knee so by the time I got back to the relatively flat surface of Hawrelak Park, my right knee began to seize. No more running for me until I could see the finish line and the announcer began butchering calling out everyone's name. Sadly, I came in with a group of fast runners and he didn't get to my name. Sad face. However, I hobbled across the finish line, and picked up my nifty medal.
Yes, its shaped like a running shoe! Where's the date though????
When I picked up our race packages a few days prior, I was surprised to see a ticket for a free post race meal for all athletes. Winner! We were given a choice between Lemongrass Grill and Fat Franks. While Lemon Grass Grill sounded healthier and probably tastier, I took one look at the lineups for both, saw how slowly Lemon Grass was moving and hopped into line for Franks and picked up my victory meal. 
Most delicious hot dog of my life.
Official time: 54:49. Not great but average for me. I'm not a fast runner and to be honest, the time doesn't bother me ... much. That'll change as the year goes on and we get a few more under our belts. And now the waiting began. After my delicious mustard hot dog in a bun, I waited another 45 minutes for mom to come in. I have to say, I am so proud of her. She came running towards the finish line all smiles. It turns out, she got this weird urge (runners, you know what I mean) to start running shortly after her race began. She ended up running (like me, a penguin) about a third of her race! Woot! Her official time was 1:48:16. Very respectable - sixth in her age bracket! 
Kicken' Ass
Race #1 is in the books. After a post-race massage for Mom and her own victory meal, we headed home. We spent a total of almost four hours out there in the cold and wet but it was worth it. The running bug has definitely returned and I'm looking forward to next month's race (#2) - the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women in support of women's mental health programs in the community. Another 5K for me and a 10K for Mom.

One thing I'm not happy about is the official race photos that were posted online. Its not the photographer's fault nor the race organizers, its my own. I knew I had gained some weight since we moved last year. The number itself isn't a lot but it definitely shows and I can't believe how I look in the photos.
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Sure, I can use the excuses that the camera adds 10lbs, my sports bra lifts and REALLY seperates, or that my pants had fallen down a bit (all of which are true) but the reality is that I've let my eating habits get out of control (damn you Papa Johns and your delicious pizza bread) and I rarely get out and move around much anymore. That's definitely changing. I can't blame it on no longer being close to the river valley and the ease of using its trail system for walking, nor that I sold my treadmill. I've just become lazy. So, thanks for the wakeup call sports photographer guy.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Thursday, April 21, 2016
I don't hold much stock in the "fortunes" included in fortune cookies. Sure they're fun but they're purposefully generic, a lot like psychics, so that people can apply whatever fortune they get to their own lives. So, when I stopped to pick up dinner for Mom and I at Wok Box last night, I almost didn't grab a couple of them to go with our teriyaki shrimp (Mom) and teriyaki chicken (me).   Almost.  As I waited for our food to be ready, I reached into the bowl and grabbed a cookie. When I went to pick up a second one, I realized it was attached to another one. Chuckling slightly to myself, I figured it was a "sign" and I had better take the two who were attached, just like it seems Mommikins and I are sometimes attached at the hip. I tossed them into my bag, grabbed our take out boxes and headed to the train in order to torture my fellow commuters with the smell of stir fry.

Mom never eats her fortune cookies. Usually, hers ends up sitting on the counter, in a drawer or in the cupboard for a couple of weeks before I decide to toss it in the garbage. So, it was a bit of a surprise when I heard her rip open the wrapper and start crunching her cookie after finishing off her noodles. As she read her fortune, she started laughing. "You soon will be crossing warm waters for a fun vacation." While the Pacific Ocean isn't that warm, it seemed to hit close to home - we're heading to Hawaii in the New Year. Hearing her fortune, I couldn't wait to open mine to see if it held as much promise.

"Your talents will bring you the highest status and prestige."

As my Facebook friends will know by now, my current job (a secondment) is ending six months early and I am being returned to my previous position. Not because of anything I've done; my old branch has not been able to keep anyone in that role for longer than 4 months since I left a year and a half ago so they told my current office they either need to make my role there permanent or they're going to take me back (they have the right to do so; it is written into my agreement). My current bosses did everything they could to keep me but after two months, they've exhausted all options and ... back I go. Its okay...sort of. I understand the reasons for pulling me back and I appreciate everything my bosses did to try and sort things out. It still doesn't mean I'm happy. Therefore, beginning last week, I started applying for new jobs. One position in particular has me very excited - I won't get into the details but its with a different Ministry (I work for the Government) and it would definitely be a promotion ("higher status"). It is also with a higher office ("prestige"). 

Needless to say, I started laughing as I read my fortune out loud and it continued as I read it to Mommikins. I'm holding onto this particular fortune and hoping that it comes true.

I miss running. A lot.

Friday, April 15, 2016
That about sums up my mood right now. Sigh...


INTERVIEWS OF THE NOT SO RICH AND FAMOUS - EP 25 - THE EDMONTON TOURIST

Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Has it really been 5 years (OMG) since the last installment of my interview series? Yes, apparently it has. We're back with a pair of new interviews of the not so Rich and Famous. First up, my good friend, Robyn, who I had the pleasure to become real life friends with after meeting through blogging. You can read her fabulous blog, The Edmonton Tourist. Robyn is one of those amazing friends that I only see in person every 3-4 months but we always pick up right where we left off as though we had just talked the day before. She continually inspires me to push myself further, to believe in myself, and not take shit from anyone. We joke about the most inappropriate things and laugh until we're in tears. Heck, when we first met, over a cup of tea and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake (hold the walnuts!), we talked about certain parts of your anatomy ... um ... you know ... um ... rubbing ... irritating ... when you run ... ah ... so ... alright! We talked about butt chafing! Ok? Butt chafing! That's the kind of friend she is! Don't judge us; its a common runner problem. Anyways, I should probably move on to the interview before I get myself in trouble. Without further ado, please enjoy learning a bit more about what makes Robyn tick.
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  1. Name, occupation, favourite running medal.
    Robyn National Events Project Manager my first Half Marathon Finisher Medal 08/11.
  2. Garden gnomes are taking over the world and only you can save the human race. How do you do it?
    Smash them with rocks and my slingshot.
  3. If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be and who would sing it?
    Darth Vader's Theme.
  4. If health/cost were not an issue, and you could run any marathon/half marathon in the world, which one would you choose, what would be the celebratory drink of choice and how much trouble would you get into post-race?
    New York Marathon, Le Chouffe and I'd crash Mark Ruffalo's home. He lives close to the finish line.
  5. You have to hide a dead body. Now!
    Roll in carpet toss into neighbors yard- he's so messy no one will ever find it.
  6. Why do you love Disney so very much?
    When I was 6 I sat on Main Street with my dad to watch the Electrical Parade. It is one of my favourite memories of my dad. Walking into Disneyland takes me back instantly to that moment.
  7. If you could have any famous person (not including Donald Trump) locked in a room so that you could torment them for a day, whom would you choose and how would you torment them?
    Jann Arden - talking smack because she'd give it right back and that would make me laugh.
  8. What is your favourite swear word? Use it in a sentence. Explain why it is the king/queen of all expletives.
    OH FOR FUCKSAKES. It's satisfying because my mom gets so shocked by me using it. I then remind her I'm 48 and can say whatever the fuck I please.
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  9. A loud noise wakes you from a deep sleep. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by mummies. They aren't doing anything, just standing around your bed. What do you do?
    Roll over and go back to sleep. I covet sleep above all else.
  10. Why do men have nipples?
    To make their pecks look good....duh
  11. In the fruit salad of life, which fruit are you?
    Tomato. Not quite like I seem.
  12. A crazy “doctor” travels through time and space in a ship disguised as a British police call box. Why? Try to convince me this is even remotely entertaining.
    The kitschy B movie horror films are hilarious and the Doctor is surrounded by terrible props, fakery and bad sets. The writing is clever and promotes kindness. It embraces diversity and uniqueness. Besides, BBC has 5 actors, 3 sets and 1 tie, that makes it fun to spot stuff.
  13. At last count, how many pairs of running shoes do you currently own and how do you possibly decide what pair to wear on any given day?
    I have reduced my collection to 37. I wear 1 pair more than others because they are the most comfortable- shout out to Saucony ISO Triumph ! I also have collector sneakers- Kinvaras from Ireland, Triumphs from NYC Marathon. I want the Brooks Nantucket for the Boston Marathon.
  14. You’ve been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. What did you do to earn it and who is the third person you thank?
    I wrote a novel that was read the world over on the Tao of Muppets. How following the Muppet Religion is all inclusive and accepting. The 3rd person I thank is Frank Oz because Jim Henson was the second.
  15. Design your own unique beer. Describe its flavour, its name, and the label. Is it beer-y?
    It is a dark ale and crisp with a hint of coffee. It's name is Danger and yes it's hoppy.

All Work and No Play...

Saturday, February 27, 2016
I can't believe that it is almost March. It seems like I just did my year in review post and declared this the year of Caesar Sundays... And now its almost Big Brother's birthday and spring is definitely in the air. Time certainly flies. Sigh.

Speaking of Caesar Sundays, they haven't begun yet. They were supposed to start last weekend (delayed due to Super Bowl Sunday) but unfortunately timing didn't work out so we're still looking at rescheduling. I'm having a long overdue drink with the amazing Robyn tomorrow which will be the first, and possibly the only, Caesar Sunday. There have been a lot of factors working against my fun weekly plan: (1) I don't have a lot of friends, at least people I want to share a drink with. I KNOW a lot of people but there's a difference (2) I'm inherently lazy and haven't been bothered to put more than a cursary effort into this little project; and (3) I realized how much I might end up spending over the course of the year and I had to shake my head a little bit.

As you may remember, over the past year and a bit, I've finally paid off my two student loans in full and I paid off another loan I had (in half the time they gave me!).  Seeing those debts be erased from my "To Do" list, is an incredible feeling. The only other debt I now currently have is my credit card and that is the recipient of every spare bit of change I can funnel its way.  Ahhhhhh, the prospect of being completely debt free is like an aphrodisiac. Sooooo addictive.  However...
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I haven't taken many vacations in my adult life. TBH, I've only taken three. The first was 1991 when my best friend at the time and I went to California for a week. It was our first trip travelling alone (her first outside of Alberta!) and we had a blast. Eighteen long years later, I took my second vacation where I travelled to England by myself and wandered the streets of London alone, stayed with complete strangers who turned out to not be axe murderers (yay) and instead were two of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. In 2013, my most recent vacation took me, my mother and my favourite aunt to one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Jasper National Park. Ahhh, my own little bit of heaven.

Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Not doing so is a waste. Sure, there are debts to be paid and retirement to be saved for but taking care of myself in a good way (not treating myself to takeout far too often as I usually do) is as essential as both of those things. And so, Mommikins and I are treating ourselves to a trip to celebrate our next birthdays.  We are going to Hawaii for a week in the new year where we will wander around the island of Oahu, soaking up the sun, climbing volcanoes, and living the island life. Its not the original trip we had hoped to take but rather than throwing ourselves back into debt to pay for the "trip of a lifetime" we've opted for something a bit more financially responsible and yet still enjoyable, relaxing and offering us the opportunity to recharge our physical and mental batteries.

Its taken me a long time to learn to be responsible with my money and it was a very hard, emotional and expensive lesson. But now that I have, I've also learned that its ok to spend some of it on things that matter. Making memories, spending quality time with those I love and care for, and remembering the almighty dollar isn't the bottom line.

Celebratory Caesars for Everyone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Roll me out the door, I am done. Two long food-filled months have come to an end and I have enjoyed them completely and whole heartedly, much to my waistline’s demise.  The December Christmas celebrations included three office lunches, dinner out with the girls, a birthday dinner for Mommikins, dinner with some of the peeps from my previous office, Christmas Eve at our place, Christmas Dinner at Big Brother’s, lunch with a friend while spending far too much shopping for unnecessary electronics, and two viewings of Star Wars, with snacks. Add in various boxes of chocolates, homemade cookies, squares, and other baked goods, bonbons, etc, and it was no wonder my pants were straining when the New Year rolled around.

As if I hadn’t already consumed enough to feed a small starving African nation, January kicked off with a big birthday bang as I have had two separate lunches with friends, a great steak dinner with Mommikins, drinks at a musical, drinks and nachos with the bosses, drinks and dinner with the peeps from my previous office (double birthday celebration), and cake with the current office gang.  On top of all of that, there were the occasional (*cough cough*) days where I bought lunch at work because I was in such a food coma, I couldn’t be bothered to throw something together before I left the house in the morning.

I have mixed feelings about the end of the celebrations. On one hand, I can’t remember the last time I felt so included, blessed, appreciated and loved. It was wonderful to connect with people I don’t get to see very often. I don’t have a lot of close friends that I hang out with so this was a welcome change in my usually subdued routine. However, the caloric cost of all that socializing and celebrating…yikes. However, I shall not dwell on that – I would rather risk ordering dessert if it means spending a few more precious, wonderful moments with friends and family.

The past two months have shown me how much I miss having people in my life to do stuff with. Despite living in a digital, wifi-enabled, find everything online sort of world, I miss the human interaction of yesteryear (feel free to mock my nostalgia). I admit that I have not always been the best at maintaining relationships, both platonic and romantic, and there have been times where I’ve been an outright bitch in terms of how things have ended (yes, that’s me admitting blame). Regret is not a word I use – if I regretted anything about my past, it would mean I’m not happy with the person I have become as each individual experience has shaped the current “me”. We can all look back and realize we probably should have done things differently given the knowledge we have now but I wouldn’t change anything if I could (ok, MAYBE I would have invested in Apple instead of going to University…).

Earlier this month, my cousin Dan posted a link on Facebook about a friend of his in Toronto who, after a rough year, decided to reconnect with different friends from his past over a Caesar at a different location every Sunday for the next 52 weeks. He learned three very important lessons after his year of Caesars:  (1) variety really is the spice of life, (2) rituals are powerful things that build momentum, and (3) Sundays are always better with friends. This couldn’t have come at a better time. To me, this is a wonderful idea. Caesars are my mixed drink of choice (and a family fave) and I’m looking to re-establish or revive some of my relationships.

I had considered doing my own thing and calling it something like “Bruschetta Buddies” as I love this appetizer.  However, it’s a bit limiting – I would have to meet friends at restaurants that offer it (not everyone does), and not everyone is a fan like I am. Also, not everyone might want to get together and eat; they might just want to have a nice drink together. So…. I’m starting my own “Caesar Sundays” beginning January 31. That’s 48 Caesars and 48 different people. However, I already have other non-alcoholic related commitments for 2-3 Sundays this year and Christmas is on a Sunday, so it’s more like 45. My goal is, just like Mr. Jacobs, to enjoy a drink with a different friend at a different location each week.

2016 Has Begun

Wednesday, January 06, 2016
OMG. Blogger is slowly becoming more user friendly. I know I haven't posted much over the past few months so you'll forgive me if this is old news to the rest of you. They now allow you to just drag and drop photos into the post you're writing! No more having to use the uploader feature. Suh-weet. I know - it doesn't take much to make me happy, does it?

Well, the New Year has arrived. No big celebrations for this gal; I'm pretty low key. Yeah, that's what you call people who go to bed at 730pm - "low key". Christmas was nice and quiet. Big Brother and family came over for dinner on Christmas Eve. As usual, we exchanged our gifts that night. I ended up with a gorgeous new bundt pan from Sonoma Williams. I'm thinking it might be a hint that they want me to bake more. That's fine with me! Christmas morning was spent with Mommikins and the cats, opening presents and relaxing before heading over to Big Brother's house for dinner with extened family. For the first time a long time, they kept dinner to just family (and longtime friend Rudi) so we were all able to fit around the table. Typically we have about 15-20 people running throughout their house for holiday dinners so we split the group between the living and dining rooms. It was weird (but pleasant) eating with the grownups again.
In addition to the bundt pan, Mom gave me a new slow cooker. I was in heaven. And yes, all my presents this holiday season DID seem to revolve around food... I wracked my brain as to what I should try to make first - buffalo chicken meatballs? Some kind of stew/soup? Nope. I decided to go with scalloped potatoes. Now, I'm not usually a fan of cheese on potatoes but this recipe just sounded too good to pass up. Unfortunately my local Safeway does not carry Gruyere cheese so I went with Emmental (still yummy), and I dislike Fennel so I swapped it for onions, and...instead of thyme, which sounded soooooo wrong for scalloped potatoes, I added chives. Also, no bacon. Please, pick yourself up off the floor - you read that correctly - I omitted the bacon.

Oh my sweet bejeebus.

I cannot begin to describe how delicious this was!!!! Unfortunately the cooking time wasn't right but I think it is because my potato slices were too big. I had the right thickness thanks to my mandolin but I should have cut the potatoes in half lengthwise first to make the pieces a big smaller. Regardless, they were still fabulous. Next time, I'm going with the Gruyere and longer cooking time. Great...now I want some. Hmmm.

The holidays are now over and its back to work for me. There are still a number of people on vacation this week so our office is fairly quiet. While its nice and I get a bit of free time to do other things (read my book, blog, Facebook ... um ... organize my desk, clean up), it makes for a long day. Hopefully things will pick up next week. In the meantime, the birthday celebrations have begun. Mommikins treated me to a fabulously overindulgent steak dinner at The Keg last night and tonight we're off to the Jubilee Auditorium to catch opening night of Dirty Dancing. And if that wasn't enough, Big Brother and family are taking me out for lunch this weekend. Woot! I feel spoiled this year.

Finally, while grabbing the link for Dirty Dancing, I discovered that Bill Maher is coming to Edmonton in June so I treated myself with two tickets! Now I just have to find someone that wants to go with me! FYI Calgary peeps, he'll be in your neck of the woods June 25.

Happy New Year everyone!

A Year in Review and Looking Forward

Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Well, here we are, at the ass-end of 2015. Following the lead of countless others, I thought I would do a "year in review" post, not that there will be a lot to cover but I'm a follower so ... Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

January started off as usual - I'm unhappy with my weight, have big plans for the year, blah blah blah. Not much changes. However, one bright spot was the start of a 10 week pottery class. I treated myself to the course as a Christmas present and ended up loving it. While I didn't turn into a master craftsperson overnight, and many of pieces were questionable in terms of what they were supposed to be, it was fun. It also got me out of the house and interacting with other humans (shock! horror! gasp!). My chest problems continued and changed and continued to change - a common theme throughout the past year. No definitive diagnosis and no solution. The quest continues. Speaking of quests, Mom took me to see the Indiana Jones exhibit at the Telus World of Science for my birthday. As a child of the 70s and 80s, this was a must see for me and didn't disappoint. 

February through May was fairly quiet. I finally bought myself a stand mixer and then proceeded to bend one of the attachments the first time I used it. Robyn continued to prove she's a fabulous friend by inviting me over to her home and serving tea. Grandma's china and handmade jammie dodgers - that girl rocks. I made over the look of my blog. I joined Instagram. Mom and I moved out of our apartment with the great view to a townhouse on the outskirts of downtown.

In June, I applied for another position in my current office but didn't get the job. One of my two bosses thought this was the wrong decision and my other boss...I think somedays they regret it too. However, life is like that and so we move on. June also marked the start of a new "Learn to Run" clinic through the Running Room. Unlike previous attempts, I had an instructor who didn't make me feel completely worthless for my slower than snot speed and back of the pack position week after week. To top it off, the group who joined this particular clinic were fabulous and I was once again enjoying running.

By July, I was experiencing tightness and pain in both my calves and bottoms of my feet. Nothing seemed to help, even returning to the physiotherapist. I made it through the halfway point of my clinic before I could no longer run with the group. In August, Mom and I walked the 5K portion of the Edmonton Marathon and I ran up the chute to finish my race and into the arms of my running group. I love those folks.

And that was it. My last post was August 25. To say I've been neglectful is an understatement. It wasn't that the remaining months of 2015 were bad and I didn't want to share with the few of you who still visit. I just reverted back to my usuall laziness. Nothing to say of any consequence so why bother? Plus I still hate my Dell laptop that can't hold a f*cking wifi signal for longer than 30 second and to use my desktop computer is not inspiring. However, I'm hoping to turn that around for 2016. 

No, I won't be replacing the laptop but I will be making a more concerted effort to blog a bit more often in 2016. I wrote a whopping 28 blog posts in 2015. That's not even one per week. I miss the act of writing these posts, even when I don't have anything important to say. Words are amazing and I hope to share more of them again in the future. In the spirit of starting fresh, I'm also going to be purging my Twitter and Instagram feeds. I don't really pay attention to most of the stuff that shows up on my feeds; friends, family, news - those are the important things. Most of the rest of it is garbage and noise so I'll be simplifying that part of my social network life.

Speaking of words, one success I had in 2015 was my Good Reads reading challenge. I amped it up (at least for me) this year, and aimed to read 30 books. With a week and a half left to go this year, I've already made it to 31. And I will likely finish off the two books I'm currently reading before the year is up! I embraced reading this year more than I have in the recent past and thanks to the upcoming holidays, I have rediscovered the joy of paper books and Hrothgar, my glorious eReader, is taking a much needed break. And since I managed to surpass my original goal for 2015, next year I'm amping it up to 35. 

So there you go, no big promises or "resolutions" for the new year. Just letting you know whazzup.
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