Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #3

I've seen different versions of Wordless Wednesday around the blogosphere for years and since I'm always saying I'll post more of my photography on this blog but then never do, I thought doing my own version of Wordless Wednesday would be good incentive.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Update #1: January 26-27

Weekend Update is hosted by Sami's Shenanigans and Join the Gossip

Last week I stumbled upon Sami's blog and saw her Weekend Update post. I knew I wanted to participate this week, especially since I haven't been doing a great job of taking daily photos (my new camera has been feeling neglected, poor thing). 

After a crazy week, I had a pretty quiet weekend. I stayed in and did some work, and actually managed to relax a bit, which was nice! Here's my weekend in a nutshell (and yes I'm aware that it looks like all I did was eat all weekend, but I promise there was healthy stuff mixed in there too!):

1. My reading material for the weekend. I ended up getting a lot read - I was about halfway through Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich, and I finished it Saturday, plus I read Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally, as well as some of my Sacred Celtic Places book. *For those of you who are stopping by for the first time, I'm also a book blogger at Ramblings of a Daydreamer - if you're a reader, stop by and say hi there too! :-)*

2. Sunday lunch - a 'working lunch'. Normally I cook for two at lunch and we eat together, but I was on my own yesterday so I decided to make lunch and eat at my desk so I could continue working.

3. Simple pleasures - my favourite penguin mug, Irish cream flavouring in my coffee, and a (slightly burned) homemade peanut butter and jam cookie.

4. My cleaning/work-out clothes. Note to self: don't wear black when changing the vacuum cleaner canister, because you end up with dust and dirt ALL over you (that was the reason I took the pic, but you can hardly see it!).

5. I watched my U2 at Slane Castle DVD while working out. 

6. Saturday's dessert: pancakes with chocolate pudding and strawberries - YUM.

7. Sunday night: popcorn and Downton Abbey...not pictured (be grateful): me, sobbing like a baby. Stupid writers. SPOILER WARNING IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN SEASON 3 (highlight the black part to read): I cannot freaking believe they killed off Sybil! She was my favourite character from the beginning, and I sobbed when she died. Poor Tom and baby and Grantham family. 
So, that was my weekend. How was yours? What did you do? Tell me in the comments or link me up to your Weekend Update post!



Friday, January 25, 2013


On Wednesday night, Amanda (my sister-in-law) and I went to see U23D in the theatre. It was originally released in 2008, but it didn’t come to my city’s theatre. The movie is a concert that was filmed in Buenes Aires during the Vertigo tour.

U2 has been my favourite band for many years. They’ve gotten me through good times an
d bad. Unless you have a favourite band, you might not understand the impact one can have on your life. I lead a pretty lonely life as a writer, and I don’t have many friends, but U2 has been there for me through everything. When I’m lonely, they’re there, when I’m happy, they’re there, when I’m sad, when I’m angry, when I’m celebrating, when I’m grieving, they’re there. They have a song for every mood and every occasion, and they’re always my go-to band when I need a pick-me-up or on a day when I’m mad and feel like holding onto that mad. I was listening to a U2 song when I found out my Grama died. They’ve been the soundtrack of my life, and for that I’ll always love them.

They’ve also been a big part of my relationship with Amanda. Things between us haven’t always been easy, especially in the beginning, but U2 has been one of the things that brought us together. I’m not sure how it came about but one day many years ago I discovered one of her favourite songs was With or Without You, and then came to realize she didn’t know it was by U2. We got talking about their music, and found out we had more in common than we realized.

In 2005, we went to our first U2 concert. We were about 18 rows from the stage, on the side, and it was one of the best nights of my life. People say seeing U2 live is like a religious experience, and I’d have to agree. It was uplifting, inspiring, and just mind-blowingly amazing. Three months later, we saw the band again, this time from the 300s (aka nose bleeds), and seeing them again was like coming home. That was the Vertigo tour, which was when U23D was filmed, so it was really exciting to know the setlist and remember little bits and pieces of the show that carried on throughout the entire tour. 

Getting in line at 6am paid off!
Our third time seeing the band was July 2011. I had tickets for over a year and a half because Bono was injured during the tour and they had to postpone part of it. When it finally rolled around, I definitely needed a U2 fix. I had general admission (floor) tickets, and I was determined to get inside the pit. On their last few tours, they’ve had a catwalk that stretches out in a circle from the stage and some fans are inside, some outside, and the rest are in seats. I knew the spots inside the circle were coveted and that people would be lining up early, if not camping overnight, so we were in line by 6am. I think that shows what a dedicated fan (and general crazy person) I am, that I would wait in line in the scorching July sun for twelve hours to see my favourite band. It was so worth it though because we made two new friends, one of whom had been to tons of U2 concerts and took us under her wing, and helped us not only get into the circle, but into the third row. It was amazing - every U2 fan’s dream come true, and certainly mine. I won’t go into much more detail because I’ve talked about it, and them, before (here, here, here, and here, just to name a few), but it was incredible.

As for what I thought of U23D...If you’ve never seen U2 live in concert, this is the next best thing. It’s like being in the first row, only better because you get to see things you wouldn’t even from the closest vantage point. Close-ups of Bono, Edge, Adam, and Larry, different angles, and things you’d never see otherwise. When Bono reached out toward the camera, it took everything in me not to reach back – it was so real. They did a fantastic job of producing it. It really was like being right there – I got just as emotional as I normally do at their concerts (when we were leaving, Amanda said she knew I’d cried, and I was like ‘duh I always cry when I see them live' lol). Also, Amanda is 21 weeks pregnant, and I wondered how Baby G would react to the loud music, and apparently she didn't move until With or Without You came on, and then she started kicking. I thought that was incredible - we think of that as 'our' song, the song that brought us together, so for the baby to kick right then was really fitting. We've created a U2 fan in the womb!

This was exactly what I needed. I’ve been saying for a while that 2013 is going to be epic, but let me tell you it hasn’t felt too epic the first few weeks. It was nice to get out, have some fun, see my favourite band, and feel that hope that only they have the power to instill in me. There are rumours that they’ll be releasing a new album in September (and maybe more than one, which would make me burst from over-excitement). Plus there’s the fact that I’m currently looking for signs that mean I’m supposed to go to Ireland this year (you can see what I mean by that here - 6th one down), and I feel like seeing U23D and knowing the band might be releasing a new album(s) this year are signs (they’re from Ireland). It may sound silly, but anything that keeps me going and keeps me believing can’t be a bad thing, right?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #2

I've seen different versions of Wordless Wednesday around the blogosphere for years and since I'm always saying I'll post more of my photography on this blog but then never do, I thought doing my own version of Wordless Wednesday would be good incentive.

I know this is supposed to be 'wordless' but I just want to say that I was really proud of this shot...this whole series of pictures, actually. These were taken late summer/early fall 2012; I had just recently learned how to use the macro setting on my camera, after wondering for years how people did those artfully close-up/blurred background shots. I thought these shots turned out amazing, and I couldn't have been happier with them. I took several hundred pictures just in that one trip to the rose garden. I love the flower, the little buds, and then the blurred bench, trees, shadows, and other flowerbeds in the background.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Facts of Me

The Facts of Me is hosted by I Wore Yoga Pants to Work. The idea is to share fun facts about yourself - things people might not know, things that define who you are, or just zany little facts. I think this is such a great idea and when I discovered this (thanks to my friend Michelle at Book Briefs), I knew I had to participate!

I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I was always making up stories and songs when I was little. However, I didn't want to go to school for it, so I went to school for early childhood education, and spent a few years working in schools, daycares, and then being a nanny. Finally I did correspondence with a school in the States for print writing, but I still didn't publish anything for several years. I started selling short stories online, then writing articles, then finally published my first book in January 2012. I've published a book of short stories and another novel since then, and my third novel comes out this April.

My mum is my best friend. She’s the most amazing person, bar none. We live together, share expenses and the work around the house, and have a blast together.

My brother is ten years and three weeks older than I am. When I was born, he wanted a sister (my parents didn't find out my sex). I was born the last day before Christmas vacation and my parents got a call in the hospital from one of my brother’s teachers saying he wouldn’t leave the school until he found out he had a sister so he could tell his friends. I’ve often wondered what he would have done if I were a boy.

I was almost pickpocketed on a subway in Paris when I was 17. I was so shocked, I slapped the guy and he and his friends ran off the subway screaming and cursing at me and my friends in French like we were the criminals.

When I was in my early 20s, I met a girl online, we became fast friends, and within a few months, we travelled across country together. We covered a good chunk of Ontario, plus 9 States in as many days. People told us both how dangerous it was (either of us could have been axe murderers, according to family and friends), but we didn’t care. It was EPIC.  

I believe in signs. And when I go on a kick about something (right now it’s Ireland…I will be going to Ireland this year no matter what), everything becomes a sign. Like, Ooh that guy has an Irish accent, it's a sign! or Hey, they mentioned Ireland, it's a sign! or They’re playing a U2 song on the radio, it's a sign! or Look, this movie is set in Ireland, it's a sign! You get the idea. It's bizarre, but that's just how I am.

I get so much mail (mostly books - I’m also a book blogger) I’m on a first name basis with my mail lady.

U2 is my favourite band, and I’ve seen them three times. The most recent time, July 2011, my sister-in-law and I had general admission tickets and stood (sat/slept/wandered) in line for 12 hours and managed to not only make it into the pit, but also into the 3rd row.

I love taking pictures and I just discovered the macro setting on my camera last year (it was a real ‘duh’ moment - how did I not know that before?). I’m obsessed with finding things to take macro shots with. I just bought a new Canon PowerShot A810 a couple weeks ago and even though I’ve been taking plenty of pics with it I’m looking forward to nicer weather so I can get outside and play with it.

I was in the delivery room when my youngest nephew was born. It was the most amazing, beautiful, disgusting, life-altering thing ever. My sister-in-law, brother, and I all let out a cry at the same time and the baby whipped his head around to look at us, and in that moment I swear his personality was defined...he's been surprising and astonishing us ever since.
I’m addicted to buying books. ADDICTED. It’s become an unhealthy obsession. Before last year I was struggling so much financially that I couldn’t afford to buy any books but last year I was able to and once I started I couldn’t stop. Someday I’d like a library like the Beast’s in Beauty and the Beast.

My bedroom walls resemble that of a teenage girl’s. They’re plastered mostly with posters of U2, a few prints of Camelot (knights, ladies, etc), sparkly blue stars, and glow in the dark stars (that still glow, even though they’ve been on my walls for about 15 years).

On the same trip to France that I almost got pickpocketed, my best friend and I bought so many souvenirs we had to buy an extra suitcase. Like, a full-sized suitcase.

I’ve only had my hair cut professionally once in the last 3-4 years. Otherwise I cut it myself. 
Also, my hair is naturally curly, and right now (because I haven’t gotten out the scissors in about a year...yeah, I know that’s bad), my hair is just a few inches from my bum. I have to beat it into submission to get it to behave, but I’ve found that the length weighs the curls down a bit so they don’t spaz out so much.

So, those are some fun facts about me. If you're participating in this event, link me up in the comments and I'll come by your post. If you're not participating, feel free to leave me some fun facts about yourself!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #1

I've seen different versions of Wordless Wednesday around the blogosphere for years and since I'm always saying I'll post more of my photography on this blog but then never do, I thought doing my own version of Wordless Wednesday would be good incentive. 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Baby news

Last month I shared the news that my family will be expanding this summer when my brother and sister-in-law have their third child. All of us - even Noah, my ten-year-old nephew - were hoping for a girl, and on Monday we found out the sex...

I'm so excited I could burst. I've waited for this for SO LONG. I love my boys more than anything and I wouldn't trade them for the world but I'm so freaking glad they'll be having a sister lol. 

I went shopping on Tuesday and it took everything in me not to start buying dresses and shoes and booties and stuff. My sister-in-law is just 19 weeks pregnant today so I don't want to get stuff too soon and then have it sit around. I'm sure I won't last long though and some cute little outfit will make me cave. And toys and games...I'm such a little girl at heart, I can't wait to play with her and buy her dolls and have tea parties and do her hair and play dress-up and do all kinds of girly things...although with my luck she'll probably be a tomboy. I figure having two older brothers will either make her a tomboy or will make her a girly girl because they'll be super protective of her and she'll be the little princess of the family. Either way, I can't wait to find out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why I Won't Be Going on a Diet in 2013

I'm overweight. That's a fact. I'm not one of those skinny girls who says 'Oh I'm so fat' but is actually stick thin...I need to lose close to a hundred pounds to be a healthy weight for my height and age. I've struggled with my weight my entire life. I know how to lose weight - I know all about eating right and exercising and burning more calories than you consume and the foods you stay away from, etc, etc, etc. I know all that, it's just putting it into practice that's my downfall. 

Three years ago, I lost about 25 pounds - the most I've ever lost. I looked better and I felt better, but then I fell back into old habits and gained weight, lost weight, gained wait, and on and on. Right now I'm 15 pounds lighter than my heaviest adult weight, which means I gained 10 of the 25 pounds back.

I've tried so many different things, but what it comes down to is a simple equation: healthy eating + exercise = weight loss. And of course, if you've ever tried to lose weight, whether it was 5 pounds or 100 pounds, you'll know that by 'simple' I actually mean 'one of the hardest things in the world'. You have to make up your mind that you want it, otherwise it's not going to work and it's not going to be simple, which is why there's an obesity epidemic in North America.

So, to the title of this blog post: the reason I won't be going on a diet in 2013. I hate diets. Diets are about being hungry, depriving yourself, and basically going crazy. Diets are temporary. You eat healthy for a certain amount of time, you might lose weight, but then if you go back to your old habits, you're just going to gain the weight back. What good does that do? It's frustrating and degrading and futile. People need to stop 'going on diets' and learn that the solution is not a temporary one - it's about healthy eating for the rest of your life. Does that mean you can't indulge? Hell no. Everything in moderation. If you want a cookie, have a cookie, just don't eat the whole bag. And realize that treats are just that - treats. They're not meant for every day, or sometimes even every week. Depriving yourself will usually just lead to binge eating, and then you're right back where you started.

As for exercise, the 25 pounds I lost three years ago was from walking. That's it. I walked outside when I could, and I marched on the spot when I couldn't go outside. And you don't even have to do it all at once if that seems daunting, or if for some reason you can't walk for long periods. Break it up throughout the day, because it all adds up. It doesn't matter how you do it, it just matters that you do it.

I'd been eating a ton of junk the last month between my birthday, Christmas, and New Year's, so on January 1st, I decided to go on a 2-day cleanse. It was just a short one to see how I did; I didn't follow any specific cleanse, I just sort of made it up as I went along. This is what I did: lots of water, no coffee, limited sugar and fat, no alcohol, no pop, tons of fruits and veggies, lean meats, reduced carbs. Pretty simple right? When I got on the scale the 3rd day, I'd lost two and a half pounds, and the best part was I didn't have to starve myself to do it. 

Here's a break down in case anyone would like to try something similar: 
Breakfast: smoothie (frozen berries, an individual-sized container of yogurt, a medium-sized banana)
Lunch: homemade turkey and vegetable soup, minus the turkey (I boiled the bones from our Christmas turkey and was left with a ton of stock, to which I added peas, corn, and broccoli, but no turkey because I'd already frozen the leftovers), and raw veggies on the side
Dinner, Day 1: baked haddock (it was BlueWater Simply Bake frozen fish that you cook in a steamer bag - 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat - it was delicious!), brown rice cooked with onions, garlic, and peas, and steamed broccoli. 
Dinner, Day 2: braised pineapple chicken (a chicken breast braised in chicken stock and pineapple juice with pineapple tidbits thrown in), leftover onion-garlic-pea rice, steamed mixed veggies (carrots, water chestnuts, peas in the pod, broccoli)
Snacks: fruit, raw veggies, whole grain crackers

Eating healthy doesn't mean sacrificing flavour - I added less salt than usual (not that I add that much to begin with, and I always use sea salt) and no butter to anything, and the meals were delicious and filling. You just need to get creative!

I say this every year, but I'm going to do my best to stick with it in 2013: this year I'm going to get healthy. I'm not going to do anything radical, and I'm not going to make it my main focus (that's been my problem before - I obsess and then burn out), but I'm going to do this. I have to do this - for my health, for my self-esteem, for my future.

Do you have health-related goals for 2013? Have you struggled with your weight the way I have?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome, 2013! Let the awesome begin!

I don’t really know how to describe 2012. It was better than some, and I wouldn’t even go so far as to say it was worse than others, it was just…a lot of the same. A lot of monotony. However, I’ll take that over tragedy and heartache any day, so I don’t feel right complaining. But…there were times it felt like these four walls were closing in on me and that nothing would ever change. I got tired of the same routine day in and day out, but I didn’t really do much to change it…I didn’t know what I could do.

2013 will be different. I can feel it. I can feel the possibilities, the change in the air, the change in me. 2013 is going to be EPIC, I just know it. I haven't felt this hopeful in a really long time.

A few highlights of 2012: 

 *Achieving my lifelong dream of becoming a published author in January, and then publishing two more books throughout the year

*Going to Cobourg with my sister-in-law to meet Gail Vaz-Oxlade

*Watching one of my best childhood friends get married and having my other best childhood friend as my date

*This is out of chronological order, but…Jenn’s bridal shower and bachelorette - day drunk, old friends, crazy dares, and dancing

*Going to Watertown for a day of shopping

*Finding out I’m going to be an aunt again!

*Spending so much time with Logan. I didn’t get to see Noah nearly as much as I wanted to this year, but Logan was here a lot between Amanda going to school and then working. I got to see more of him this past year than I ever did of Noah at that age, and I feel like I got to shape his mind and turn him into the crazy, wonderful little person he is. He was so receptive to everything I taught him, and he’s just the best baby ever. I feel so blessed to have both him and Noah in my life, and soon another little niece or nephew!

2013 Goals
Get healthy
I say this every year, but this is something I have to do. No more excuses. I'm going to do this differently than usual though: I'm not going to put as much pressure on myself as I usually do. I'm going to work steadily but not make it my main focus or become obsessive about it, because that's always my down-fall - I burn out. I'm actually going to be talking more about my health-related goals in a post later this week. 

I’ve journalled on and off since I was little but I’ve never really stuck with it. My Grama kept journals from the time she was a young woman until she died. We have dozens of them, and I cherish them like you wouldn’t believe. I want my children and grandchildren to have mine someday, but it won’t be worth it if it’s a few random, inconsistent entries. I’m determined 2013 is going to be the best year ever, so it’ll be incentive to keep a journal regularly. I’ve actually already started. :-) 

Take more pictures 
There were times this year when I was really camera-happy, and I even learned a few new tricks just from playing around, but next year I really want to use my camera as if it were an extension of myself. I want to capture moments, feelings, memories, and even if no one but me ever sees the pictures, they’ll be my little moments in time to look at and remember. 

Go out more! 
Go out, have a life, do things, LIVE. I didn't do enough living in 2012. I want to have adventures and take chances and laugh til I cry and dance and be silly and HAVE FUN. I'm tired of being a hermit, I'm tired of letting my social anxiety hold me back. Life is meant for living and I need to get out there and live it! 

Make this blog more of a priority 
The times when I go for weeks without posting are usually because I don’t really have anything to share. 2012 was a pretty quiet (read: boring) year in my personal life, but I’m determined to change that in 2013, so I will be posting about my adventures, posting more pictures, and talking about projects and maybe even sharing a few recipes or how-tos.

I feel like 2012 was the year I really got my professional life started. I wrote almost non-stop, published three works, and wrote several others to publish in 2013. I feel like I'm getting that aspect of my life under control and it's all coming together nicely, and now 2013 is the year to carry that on but also get my personal life going. It can't all be about work, and I'm ready to detach myself from the computer a bit and have some fun!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, love-filled, prosperous, AMAZING 2013!! <3