Thursday, 13 December 2012

right now

time: 7:17 pm
location: my pseudo dining room table
drinking: third mug today
eating: a salad with red peppers, sugar snap peas, and cheese

watching: last night's Survivor.  After taking a break for a couple of seasons, I am loving this one.
feeling: a bit tense.  There's a lot of things that I need and want to get done in the next few days
loving: is it cheesy if I say my life?  Because I'm almost at that point.  Finally.
thinking: about my parents' Christmas gift.  I'm 100% sure that I want to buy them a new computer since they're using one that is 11 years old and it may be years before they finally splurge on a new one for themselves.  I'm 90% sure I'll actually go through with buying one for them.
making: a scarf.  In the past two weeks I've taught myself how to knit and I'm at the point where I can legit make a scarf.  Pretty pumped.
wanting: Christmas vacation.  One more week of work.  Just one more week.
needing: this chest cold thing that I have to go away.  Too much to do to be sick and coughing.  Plus, I can't go around my Grandma when I'm sick, so this needs to get lost pronto.

I totally stole this idea from Lauren who got it from Tina.  And it's awesome.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

what i'm reading

When I was younger, back in elementary and middle school, describing myself as an avid reader doesn't quite do it justice.  Most weekends, I would get up Saturday morning, start reading a book, and not move until I had finished it, which was usually at some point after lunch.  Repeat on Sunday.  Then read at least one  or two more during the week after school.

Come to the end of high school and into university, and I just didn't have the time anymore.  I was working, studying, spending time with friends or my boyfriend, and reading got pushed aside.  Once I graduated and started working full-time, I was so tired after work that any time I attempted to read, I would immediately fall asleep.

A couple of years ago, I truly started to miss my old pastime.  Reading was relaxing for me and something I really enjoyed.  I needed to get back into setting aside some time to let myself just read for enjoyment and not only for work.

In all of that time, the one thing I never stopped doing was buying books.  I absolutely love bookstores - they're a happy place for me.  Even the smell of new books gets to me.  Which left me with a large amount (let's say 70+ books) that I haven't read.

With that pile to tackle, the perfectly logical next step was to start taking books out of the library.  Don't ask me why....I guess that there were still new books that I wanted to read, but I've realized just how much money I've spent on books in the last decade and wanted to try to curb that habit?

At this point, I always have a pile of books around.  Sometimes I get through one quickly - in a day or two - and other times life gets busy and I may read the same book for two, three, or even four weeks.

These are the ones I have in my living room right now....I'm further along in some than others.

419 by Will Ferguson

This is for a book club that I try my best (but often fail) to keep up with.  I'm about 100 pages in right now, and there are a few points of view that are being woven together.  Most of them are pretty interesting so far, except for one that I'm having a hard time with.  I'm hoping that last point of view/story line picks up quickly.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I've been reading Cassie's blog for awhile now (because it's great), and when she started up an online book club, I knew I was in.  I like taking suggestions on great books, so this was a no brainer.  I haven't started this one yet because I just picked it up from the library, but I have until the end of December, so I'll start it as soon as I'm done 419.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This one is for work.  The first time I read this book was in my first year of university for my Intro to English Lit class.  I had left it until three days before it was due (figuring that I was a quick reader and it wouldn't be a problem).  Reading this book in three days was near torture.  I'm taking my time now and liking it much more the second time around.

Thrive by Dan Buettner

Another one that I just picked up today and haven't started yet.  Last week I went through all of the notes in my iPhone and wrote down all of the books titles that I've jotted down over the past year or two.  This was one of them.  I think I saw him or heard about it on Oprah, but I'm not 100% sure.  Anyways, I looked up the books on the app I have for my local library and they've started to come in now.  I'm saving this one to read over Christmas vacation.

I think those four will take up most of the free time I have in December.

Monday, 10 December 2012

real estate

I'm not good at making major life decisions.

When it comes to them, I am either 100% sure about what I'm doing - as in "don't even bother trying to change my mind" - or I am incapable of deciding.  There is no middle road; I don't make choices that I'm okay with or that I'm pretty sure of.  It's all or nothing.

So when it came to the issue of buying a home and where I'm going to live for the foreseeable future, I didn't have a freaking clue.  

No...that's not entirely true.  There were some aspects that I was very sure of.  I will not live in a house - it's a condo or apartment for this girl.  I know that I will not live in a ground floor suite.  I know that I want to stay as close as possible to the neighbourhood I currently live in.

So in the past month and a half, deciding to buy a home has been a pretty big deal for me.  There were lots of moments where I questioned if I am doing the right thing...lots of times where I felt like I just didn't know enough about real estate or the type of home that I should be looking for, so maybe I should stop this and just find a new apartment to rent for another year or two....lots of moments of "what the hell am I getting myself into?" and second thoughts.

But in the end, something felt right about this.  Something in me kept urging "it's time".  So I listened to my gut this time and put money down on a condo project that is currently being built in my area of the city.  It doesn't get me out of my apartment as soon as possible, which is something I was hoping for.  But it is brand new; I got to choose the flooring, cupboards, layout, and floor that I want to live on; and the time I have to wait for it being built will give me the time to save up additional money for a larger down payment.

I'm trying to temper my excitement at this point.  I won't be moving until late next summer/early fall, so that's a long time and I really don't want to start feeling impatient at any point.  But every morning when I go outside and have to scrape the ice off the windows of my car, I can't help but think to myself "Next winter I won't have to do this".  Right now, that's good enough for me.

And every once and awhile, I do a little bit of a happy dance and sing "I bought myself a condo!!!"

Saturday, 8 December 2012


A couple of months ago, I read a post on Rachel Wilkerson's blog where she mentioned the website Unf#@k Your Habitat.  The title alone peaked my interest and I suddenly lost an hour looking at before and after pictures and reading tips.

Despite her ability to hold my attention, I didn't immediately start following any of the suggestions from the site.  But I did keep checking it...for at least two or three weeks.  Then one day when I was looking around my apartment and observing the near disaster state that had taken over, I thought to myself "I wonder what I can really get done in here in just 20 minutes?"

And then a couple of days later, when I was in the middle of a working-weekend marathon, I started dividing up my time into 45/15 minute segments - work for 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break.

These instances started seeping into my everyday life; any time that there was something that I really didn't want to do, but I knew that I should do it, I would tell myself that I only had to say.....clean my bathroom...for 20 minutes, then I could stop.

And - not shockingly - my place started to be much more clean on a regular basis with what felt like very little extra effort on my part.  I dropped my previous practice of letting everything hit a chaotic point and then having an eight hour cleaning frenzy that would inevitably leave me tired and annoyed with myself.

And then I started to take the advice to make my bed each day. takes sixty seconds (if that) to pull the blankets up on the bed properly....why was that ever hard to do in the mornings?

That being said, there are a couple of aspects of the site/habit that I do not take part in.  I don't think that I need the app; I like living in a clean home and that's motivation enough for me now that I have some proof that it doesn't require huge amounts of my time to maintain.  I also don't follow all of her tips to "Unfu@k tomorrow morning", because I don't really want/need to do all of those things and I like my morning routines just fine as is.

But overall, this site has been so very helpful.  Who doesn't have one, or two, or six spots in your home where stuff builds up?  How many people keep putting things off because they don't know where to start or they just don't have the time they think they need to do the job well?

I told my mom about the site a couple of days ago.  Her response?  "I tried to get you make your bed and clean up at the end of each day for years!  How did this woman and her website manage to make you do it now?"

I truly don't know how, but I love it.

Check out Unf!@k Your Habitat

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


It can be hard to remember that change is a good thing.  When you're right in the midst of it, and feelings are hurt and life is unsettled, it's easy to want to go back to the way things were before - whether or not "before" was actually good for you in any way, shape, or form.

Change is hard no matter the context.

Changing your eating habits?  You have to deal with the cravings, and more than likely, increased prep and cooking time (pizza pops don't take nearly as much time as loaded salads or stir frys).

Changing your exercise routine?  Or starting one, period?  Brace yourself for the physical hurts and awkwardness that comes with trying to move your body in ways that it possibly hasn't for years.

Changing your location or your home?  A friend of mine compares buying a home and moving to that of labour, in the sense that it's a stress and trauma that people tend to forget about after the fact when they are just appreciating their new home/baby.  But there's turmoil there before you move in and start to decorate.

Changing relationships?  Ending toxic ones and starting to meet new people?  Again, there will be hurt...possibly withdrawal...and maybe some lonely times for a bit.  But in the end, your life will be full (hopefully) of positive and supportive people.

In the end all of these changes result in good.  Your life becomes more positive.  You move in new directions and have new experiences and grow as a person.

It's just a matter of keeping that in mind as you go through it.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

twilight's end

In the midst of a busy month at work, I took a night off and went with a friend to see the final Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part II.  In an attempt to avoid a huge crowd, we went to a 5 pm show, and managed to avoid a full theatre.

By total fluke, we also ended up in a renovated theatre which meant leather reclining seats, more leg room, and preselected seats.  The screen was floor to ceiling too, although once the movie started, the additional screen size didn't make much difference.

Now, I have not seen all of the Twilight movies.  Fact is, I didn't like reading Eclipse at all, so I skipped that movie.  I'm not a die hard fan, but I was curious as to how the series would end.

And I enjoyed the movie....especially given the fact that I finished the book a couple of years ago and couldn't recall much of the storyline (it obviously wasn't a literary masterpiece).  The makeup and hair people finally made Kristen Stewart look alive (ironic considering she's now a vampire), and given that the movie covered the second half of the novel, the plot moved along at a solid pace.

As for the surprise twist at the end - having forgotten exactly how the saga ended, there were multiple points throughout the movie when my friend and I looked at each other and said "Is that how it happened in the book?", and this twist was no different.  We were a bit confused at first and unsure of what the producers were going for with the ending, but appreciated it after all.

Truth be told, I probably won't watch this movie again for quite some time (if ever) being that I'm not an overly eager Twilight fan, but I'm glad we decided to go see it in theatre...especially given the leather reclining seats.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


"You can't do much about the length of your life, but you can do plenty about its width and depth."

- Evan Esar

Love this.

december first

I woke up at about 6 o'clock this morning.  Normal for a weekday, but not my chosen way to start a Saturday.

When I woke up I started writing, which is also something of a rarity for me.  I love writing, but it's not usually my go-to first thing in the morning.

I started writing down my December intentions.  I started reading Jess Lively's blog earlier this year, and all of her writing about intentions has finally sunk in and stirred something up.

I have too much to finish up in 2012 before I start shifting my focus onto 2013 (as much as I really want to), but December can be more purposeful than the past couple of months have been.  2012 has been racked full of hard realizations and huge changes - some by choice and some by force - and these changes have set up 2013 to be quite different than this year....hopefully for the good.

I set intentions for December that deal with my physical and mental well-being, as well as a couple of other aspects of life that I have been neglecting.  Some of these are habits that I have simply fallen out of (like regular stretching, which does wonders when you have back issues), so I'm not talking about dozens of drastic changes.  I'm not trying to set myself up for failure here.

Just a strong ending to a tough year.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

breaking bad

As I've mentioned before, the majority of television that I watch tends to fall on the reality tv side, with a few long-standing exceptions.  This means that I'm often behind the eight ball when it comes to current shows that it seems everyone is in love with.  The list right now includes - Mad Men, The Wire (not current, but I still haven't watched it), Breaking Bad, Grey's Anatomy (I'm caught up to season five, but aren't they on season nine or ten right now?), Homeland, Scandal, and the list goes on.


I finally decided to dive in to one of them.  And since Breaking Bad seems to have shorter seasons, I went with it first.  I turned on the first few episodes while I was ironing clothes one weekend....and then didn't watch another episode for easily a month.

It didn't grab me.  At all.  I wasn't interested in this man who just seemed so angry all of the time (and justifiably so, given that he's dying, or thinks that he is) and who seems to enjoy yelling at his former student.  So I gave up.

But a couple of people (both in real life and on Twitter) assured me that things pick up, so I tried again and made it to the end of season one.

I still wasn't impressed.

Then I was told that I'd have to get into season two before it really started to get good.  Really?  An hour long drama has to be into its second season before I want to turn it on every week?  That doesn't seem right.  But I promised a friend that I'd stick with it, and another month later, I turned on season two.

Did I get hooked?  Yes.  Was it early on in season two?  No.

I didn't really get into Breaking Bad until almost the season finale of season two.  Which is way too long for a show to take.  Had I been watching this as it was actually airing, there's no way that I would have held on that long.  I probably wouldn't have even noticed when season two started.

But by the finale, I needed to know what happened next.  I stayed up late to finish the season off, because it was just getting that good.  I woke up the next day and started season three, promptly ignoring the work that needed to be done by the next day.

The point of this long post is - yup, Breaking Bad, you won me over.  Finally.  And now I need to know what happens.  Congratulations writers, you win.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

one of those days

I'm having one of those days which is equal parts awesome and overwhelming.

One of those days where your head swims with the creative and fun things that you *want* to do, but those thoughts fight against the waves of the ones about the things that you *need* to do.  Like yesterday.

One of those days where you know that you have all of the ingredients/supplies to make a healthy meal that will fuel you through an afternoon full of productivity, but in reality all that you want to eat are the caramel-filled Hershey's kisses sitting in the candy jar on your coffee table.

One of those days where you want to push aside all of the obligations you currently have to work through and finish and instead focus on the new projects that are on the horizon.

One of those days where you find a great online sale, but also realize that you are so close to sticking to your budget and saving up money for the bigger purchase you are making in the very near future, so you don't click on "check out".  And then revel in your self-restraint, while still thinking about the items in your virtual cart.

One of those days where you want the company of family or friends, but you are enjoying the quiet so much that you don't dare interrupt it.

One of those days where you purposely avoid turning on season four of Breaking Bad because you know that you can never watch just one episode.

One of those days where you make plans - lots of plans - about creative projects and meal plans and recipes and workouts and movies to watch and places to visit and books to read and music to listen to, but in the end, you spend far too much time playing around on the internet and ignore the towels sitting in the dryer waiting to be folded.

One of those days that you need to still all of the thoughts/demands/to-do list items running through your head so that you can tackle everything with a renewed vigor that comes with calm.

Just one of those days.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

so much stuff

I've spent a lot of time over the past two weeks cleaning and purging my current apartment.

Part of the reason for that is because I'm hoping that this current apartment will not be "current" much longer, and I have no desire to pack and move things that I do not actually want/need.  The other part has to do with my efforts in streamlining - making my life as simple as possible.  Which includes not buying something that I already own, simply because I can't see it or remember that I already have it.  This has actually happened  more times than I'd like to admit.

I may be buying my first home shortly (fingers crossed!), and spending money needlessly just doesn't fit in the equation for me anymore.  I live in an apartment where the rent is incredibly cheap, given the condition and amenities that I have here.  Thank god for rent control!  Moving to somewhere new - somewhere that comes with a mortgage and condo fees - will be an adjustment to my monthly budget.  A doable adjustment, of course, but still one that I'm trying to be prepared for.  Going through all of your belongings and realizing just how much stuff you own can really alter one's outlook on shopping and accumulating more.

I think that most people would also admit that purging just feels good.  Getting rid of clothes you never wear anymore and random things that you've collected along the way that you've never actually used or even thought of is pretty freeing.

In the span of a couple of weeks, I filled two boxes with donations, three huge garbage bags of...well...garbage, and four boxes of recycling.  My place still feels full, so I'm not exactly sure where all of that stuff was hiding along the way.  But at least I know now that the things I have are things that I need or want, not just random items taking up more (crucial) space.

Purge your stuff people. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

my love of reality tv

For years, I've been honest about my addiction to reality television, possibly to the point of referring to myself as a "reality tv whore" at times.

It all started with Survivor.  I remember reading about it in a magazine at my grandparents' house one day and thinking "throwing a bunch of people on an island....dumbest idea ever".  But my then-boyfriend and I happened to turn on the first episode and we were HOOKED.

Oh were such a jerk....

And then it grew.  American Idol...Big Brother...Amazing Race...The Bachelor...Jersey Shore....The Real Housewives of Pick Any Place...and on and on.

Believe it or not, I do have a line - a point where the show becomes so ridiculous that I can't watch it.  Whatever the show was called where Flava Flav looked for a "wife" was one of those.  Too far.  The Apprentice?  Could never watch it.  The one that's on right now with the ex-wives of rock stars?  Nope.  Too much.

I am fully aware that most of these shows are not actual "reality"; that they have writers and storylines.  But that doesn't stop or hinder my addiction in any way.  And even better, there is almost always one playing on some channel (possibly in repeats) on tv; so any time I need a mindless escape for a bit....I just have to scroll through the guide until I find one.

Maybe reality tv is an addiction that I'll grow out of at some point.  Right now, I'm ready for Jersey Shore to be over, and this summer's season of Big Brother was less than thrilling.  Perhaps this is the start of my moving on and watching "quality" dramas - I still have yet to watch an episode of Mad Men and I'm stuck in the middle of season two of Breaking Bad - or maybe I'll reach the point where I cancel my cable all together.  But the reunion specials for the housewives from New Jersey start airing this week....and I'm pretty excited for that one, so who knows.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

we used to be number ten

Recently I've started purging my apartment (more on that another time).  I have a constant flow of massive recycling/garbage/donation bags and boxes going as I attempt to be ruthless with the amount of stuff I keep.  One box that I knew I would eventually come across in my storage room was the one that was full of old CDs.  The ones that didn't quite make the cut to be out in my livingroom on stands with the rest of the ones that are in (semi) regular rotation.

I wanted to get to that box because a few months ago, I had the urge to listen to a particular song.  You of those random moments when an old song pops into your head and you absolutely need to find the CD that you probably haven't listened to in years?  At the time, I wasn't willing to tear apart my entire storage room for a box buried in the back corner, but I also didn't forget about finding this CD weeks and weeks later.

Which CD?

The Fugees.  The Score.

This CD was on repeat for a large portion of high school.  At least one or two songs made it onto the majority of the mixed tapes I made too.  It's been back in my car for the past week or so, and it's good.  So very good.

Remember when Lauryn Hill was sane?  And so talented that we couldn't wait to see what she put out next? to.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

movies of the week

In a rare move, I went to see two movies last week.  And I loved them both.

First, my friend Kristen and I went to see Pitch Perfect.  It was great!  A little bit cheesy college movie, a little bit of an edge, a lot of a cappella = the perfect Sunday afternoon movie for me.  My fascination with a cappella college groups started a couple of years ago with this video:

And it has grown ever since.  I may have even spent a Sunday morning searching for covers of Kanye West songs (they do exist and some of them are actually pretty good!).

One note about Pitch Perfect...I could have done without the vomit.  Especially the times you really didn't see it coming.  Too much.

While we were there, Kristen mentioned that she had never watched Finding Nemo.  I'll admit that I was pretty's definitely one of those movies that I assume everyone has watched at least once before, if not more given all of the times it has been on tv.

So a couple of days later, we were back at the theatre to see Finding Nemo in 3D.  And it is one of the best 3D updated movies that I have ever seen.  There are so many opportunities for quality 3D images - all of the underwater scenes with the different plants and fish swimming around.  It really was worth seeing on a big screen, and I don't often think that about 3D movies.  But Finding Nemo is such a quality movie anyways that 3D or not, it's always worth watching.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

keeping it simple

Wow, is it tough to find an available blog address.

The night that I sat down and figured out my first blog address - maybe three or four years ago at this point - it took a couple of variations of the title I had been thinking of before I found one that was available.  But tonight...I've been at my dining room table for at least an hour now, typing different combinations of words and trying to figure out what I want this blog to really be about.

As usual, it comes down to me wanting a place to keep track of the good things in my life.  The amazing times that I have with friends, the great experiences that I have in this city, and the memories I want to keep. Hence "She Smiles, She Writes".  That's what I hope to do.  It's easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed with day to day problems and responsibilities, but there's a lot to be happy and grateful for too.

And maybe one or two people will read about it as I go.