blah di blah blog

wwjd - what would julie do? read my stream of consciousness to find out....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An avocado a day keeps the doctor away

I know that's not how the old adage goes but apples don't agree with me (a crying shame since I live in the heart of apple country!) so I've substituted my favourite food, avocado, and am dedicating an entire blog entry to this deliciously, wonderful power-food!
If you're as passionate about avocados as I am or even have a vague understanding of their superpowers then you already know that avocados do a body good. Packed with omegas, they're part of the healthy-fats family and can do wonders for your skin (you can apply it directly to your face like a mask!), hair, cholesterol, blood pressure, digestion and more. AND it tastes good? Better than any over the counter product I can think of.

My passion for avocados was first discovered in 2004 while on a trip to Costa Rica. Native to the country and a big contributor to the success of their agricultural economy, they are in abundance throughout the land. I had no choice but to embrace avocados while traveling and soon discovered I actually enjoyed them! It became a staple of my daily diet and is to this day. Although, it doesn't get much more fresh than the ones you find in CR.

Since then, I've dabbled with the fruit (a ha! it's a fruit, not a veg!) in many ways and can't think of a meal it doesn't enhance. My fave recipes are:
-Mango salsa (Mangos, tomatoes, red onion, peppers, lime juice, garlic and avo)
-Chilled avocado soup (like a gazpacho! delish in the summertime)
-Guacamole of course (I've been told I make a mean guac)
-Egg salad (use a ripe avocado in place of mayo. mmmm!)

Of course, chopping it up and throwing it onto a salad, pasta or pizza is never a bad idea. This fruit knows no boundaries and does not discriminate. Avocado maki is a must-order at any Japanese restaurant. The options are endless.

Throughout my travels I've discovered a difference in avocados depending on where they're grown. I even met a food scientist once whose job it was to perform quality control on avocados! (aka my dream job). We both agreed that avocados grown in Central America were the best because of their buttery texture, size and consistency.
I've also learned that there are legions of Avocado fans around the world. Avocado has its own Facebook fan page with over 60,000 fans! Take that cucumber, tomato and steak.
This essential food is here to stay. Now if only I could get my avocado tree to blossom, I'd be booming. Or I'd weigh a thousand pounds...

Friday, April 16, 2010

The only constant is change

I secretly envy people who have grown up in one house and return to that same house to visit their parents now that they're grown up and on their own. There's something comforting about the notion of one home and being able to take a trip down memory lane just by walking down the hallway to your childhood bedroom. The interior of the house may have changed (let's hope at the very least the shag area rug has been relegated to the basement!) but the structure, smells and overall feeling remains the same.
I hope to one day have that for our child(ren?!).
As we pack the last few boxes at 111 Seventh, living with the bare essentials until we move into our rental apartment; TV, futon, mattress on the ground - it's like we're in college/uni again! - I'm optimistic that this will be our last move for a LONG time. I want a place to settle into, make my own and watch it evolve over the years, taking shape from the people that inhabit it.
Change seems to be a running theme in my life right now and I'm doing my best to embrace it. The way you react to change can predict the success of said change. "The key to change is to let go of fear." is a quote by Rosanne Cash that resonates with me. I'm currently reading (on an ongoing basis) a book by Deepak Chopra called "Why is God Laughing?". The constant themes are fear and change and while I started reading it about a year ago - long before these changes were on my radar at all - I think it has prepared me for this time of change. I won't go into detail about the book as it's better read for yourself. After all, I'm no Deepak Chopra!
Any change can be perceived as positive or negative and you hope in the long run the positives far outweigh any down sides.
How do you know if change is right for you? You don't but you roll with it anyway, making the best of the bumps along the way and hopefully learning something from it as well. While one of the changes in my life was expected (the move), the other was not (the job). Both have forced me to let go of the wheel and just enjoy the adventure. I've chosen to view these changes as "adventures" rather than "challenges" and I'm ready for the ride they will take me on....
Goodbye 111 Seventh!

What's left of the living room

One of my favourite rooms in the house.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Year in review - July to December 2009

It's about time I finished this Year In Review I've tasked myself with given we're already into February 2010. Leave it any longer and I won't remember half the things I did from July to December! So here goes...

July 2009

After the whirlwind tour following my favourite band around in June, you'd think July would be hard to top. Lucky for me, it started off with a bang. And by bang, I mean a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Ken's 30th! We planned it so that we'd arrive in Sin City the night of July 8th so that we could celebrate at midnight (technically being the 9th) and then have a double-header with another blowout the following day and night! Clever.
Ryan and Karl joined us for the trip making me the lone female among 2 brothers and a friend. Yikes!
As expected, it was an incredible - albeit smelly (100+ degrees makes for stinky boys) - 4 days of UFC 100 (Ryan and Ken made it into the weigh-ins), driving/hiking Red Rock Canyon, shooting shot guns & hand guns (I shot a glock 9, BRAP BRAP!), sunbathing at the Luxor pool, dining at Shibuya on amazing Tepenyaki and Sake (same place Ken and I had been 2 years prior), Carrot Top, binge drinking and gorging on all-you-can-eat buffets, learning how to play craps, sneaking into the Luxor hot tub and patron shots from strangers. It was pretty epic. The photos below summarize our time and trouble in Vegas..
4 hand grenade shots = $80 USD

happy birthday Ken!

Ken made it his mission to play every giant slot he could find.

Blue Diamond, Nevada. A bizarre community we stumbled upon.

The strip by night

We arrived home hungover and tired on Sunday which left me with few precious days to plan and finalize details for my mom's surprise 65th birthday the following Wednesday. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping it secret and coming up with a decoy plan but when she showed up at the door to "go swimming" in a nice top, makeup and earrings, I wondered whether she knew. Regardless, she seemed completely floored when she entered the backyard which was full of friends and family from near and afar. For a very rare moment, my mom was speechless. I was elated. We enjoyed good food catered by moi, wine, conversation and a little roasting courtesy of my Uncle Nut and me! For weeks she was beaming about how wonderful the day was ("The best day of my life!") and could not thank me enough. It was indeed a wonderful day for a wonderful person.
no words

The guests wait for the big moment!

Lookin' great at 65 mom!

Just when you'd think July couldn't get any better, we had our annual Elvis party to round out the month. It turned out this year that Ty's birthday was the same day so naturally, we (or he) had to step up our game a bit. Beer baseball has become a staple at this event and we hosted about 20 people in the driveway. Before you cast judgement at how ghetto that sounds, it was the best solution with the torrential downpour we had for the early part of the afternoon. We pitched a couple of 10x10's in the drive way and used the garage as a dumping ground. Once the rain settled down it actually worked out perfectly. Almost as perfect as Ty's beer "staff" - his bright idea of drinking his height in beer to celebrate his 26th. Genius, right?! Well he did it before dark and I'm impressed that he was still standing (and drinking) well into the night. Hand grenades just before we went downtown were a bad idea for him however and he and Steph called it a night. The rest of us rocked out with all the Elvii and Alison and I chased each impersonator to pose for a picture with us. It seemed hilarious at the time! The movie tradition also carried on this year but it was obviously another box office flop because I can't remember what it was!
beer baseball in action

Mother Nature rains on our Elvis Party Parade

August 2009

Since July went out like a lion, it was necessary (for our livers sake) that August come in like a lamb. And that it did. Besides our usual summer activities consisting of hiking, caving, swimming in the bay and bbq's, the only exciting thing we did this month was take a couple of weekend trips to Toronto to play tourist. The first was with Steph, Ty, Ken, Jess and myself for the Jason Mraz concert. I didn't have huge hopes for the show at the Molson Ampitheatre figuring it would be similar to other mellow artists I've seen in large venues (it doesn't really work). Wow - could I be more wrong! He put on an incredible, engaging, high-energy 2 hour set! He became my new obsession. I have so much respect for Jason Mraz and everything he stands for (he has strong environmental principles that he sticks to while on tour), he is such an incredibly talented, funny, creative person who seems like the real deal. Could be an act but the naive girl in me likes to believe that what you see is what you get. I have since discovered he has a huge online presence with funny sketches and audio to match each page of his website. Check it out here Jess and I went on a little adventure after the concert trying desperately to sneak backstage. We nearly made it until another fan trying to copy us blew our cover. Brutal. We ran our little tails off as fast as we could outta there!
Our next trip to Toronto was just Ken and I. A little rekindling if you will. We attended a Jays game in box seats that his work kindly gave us! Following that I introduced Ken to Fresh for dinner and he was in veggie heaven! All the menu was his for the eating. It's not often (or ever) that he has that choice so it was a great meal. We headed down to the Second City after that for a packed performance of "Shut up and show us your Tweets". As always it was a hilarious show of sketch comedy and improv. That place never disappoints.

September 2009

Before we knew it, summer was almost over and another labour day weekend at Red Pine was upon us. We arrived late Friday to the masses of drunken folk reuniting at the place they all grew up at and worked together. It was great to see Ryan who had some surprising news for us. He and Katie had gotten back together after a 3 month split and even further, were living together. Wow! No words! The rest of the weekend went as usual - drink late, up early, nap, wakeboard, nap, repeat. Good times!
Following that weekend I was participating in my third Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60km walk throughout Toronto. I was feeling a little unprepared this year having fallen while wakeboarding at Red Pine pretty badly and feeling a little sore. I naively also thought that each year the walk would get easier and was quickly reminded at the end of Day 1 and 33km behind me that I was dead wrong. Steph and I both had blisters that needed to be drained and wrapped at the medical tent, something I have never experienced (the first two years I finished mostly blister free!). Let me tell you, blisters are debilitating. I can't believe something so little on your foot can impact the rest of your body (if you let it). I mistakenly favoured my blisters and altered the way I walked so avoid rubbing in my shoes. BAD IDEA! My whole body was out of whack by the start of Day 2 which was equally as painful. Steph's blisters were far worse than mine but somehow, we leaned on each other and were able to finish! We were welcomed at the finish by Steph's family, Ty and Ken. Even Ryan and Katie came to congratulate us! It was a fine finish to an epic event I had taken part in for 3 years in a row and I felt good about my accomplishments. I had also decided (prior to walking and the ensuing blisters) that this would be my last year taking place in the WEBC. I may do it again one day but I need a year or two off. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever taken part in and I am so lucky to say I participated in something so epic. Over the course of my 3 years, I am proud to say I was able to raise close to $8000 for breast cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital! This has been a huge accomplishment for me.
Steph and I at the start of the walk

ain't that the truth!

one of the neighbourhood houses cheering on the walkers!

approaching the Princess Margaret Hospital. Let the floodgates open!

Steph and I at the end of the walk

The WEBC left me with a little more than great memories and blistered feet. I managed to completely tax my already tired body (read: faceplant with Golden Lake while wakeboarding) and got sick right after the walk. Bad timing seeing as how the following Friday we were embarking on our first trip to Europe - first with a stopover in Munich during Oktoberfest and then a 2 week tour of Turkey. As excited as I was, I was also exhausted and wanted to sleep for the next month. No such luck. Back to work Monday and by Tuesday my cold was full fledged. I was really hoping it would clear up by Friday in time for our trip. Somehow in my delerium I allowed Ken to convince me to hop on my bike for a "light workout" while he ran alongside me throughout the neighbourhood. I really didn't want to do it but let him talk me into it. I didn't want to disappoint him and be lazy, sitting on the couch at home! Towards the end of our ride/run he insisted we go just a few more blocks instead of turn around like I was pleading and I complied. This is about when I pledged to myself that I was forever from this point onward, going to listen to my body and not push myself! While trying to keep my ears warm (after all with this cold, they were full of fluid), I tilted my head so my shoulder met my ear and somehow my equilibrium went off kilter and before I knew it, my face was making out with the pavement. Not cool. I panicked, thinking I had smashed my teeth (my very expensive, veneered teeth) but luckily I hadn't. What I did have was an instant fat-lip, dirt so far up my nose I couldn't breathe and blood everywhere. EEK! Ken was freaking trying to logically make sense of the situation and how it possibly could've happened while I was freaking on the ground also trying to fathom what had just happened. Did I actually just fall off my bike and faceplant into the ground? Yes, I had. Needless to say the next few days were hell walking around with a mangled face and bruised ego. Not to mention my cold which seemed to worsen ten-fold overnight. I was in fine shape for my trip which at this point was only a few days away! Here is a mugshot of the damage right after the incident and a few days later...

I still have slight scars from the incident and the mental scar is enough to make me terrified of hopping on a bike again anytime soon. Ken felt horrible that he had persuaded me to go on the bike ride when I insisted I didn't want to and spent the next while nursing me and my face back to normal.

By the time we boarded the plane to Munich my body had pretty much given up on me. To make things worse (or better depending on how you look at the situation), I was planning to spend the next 48 hours in a drunken stupor, embracing Oktoberfest to the fullest. Ein Prossit!
Arrived in Munich early Saturday morning, aka, the first day of Oktoberfest and instantly knew we were in for some fun. Got lost in the Marienplatz trying to find our hotel but didn't really mind as we wandered aimlessly in our jet lagged state. Found our hotel, settled in, power napped and headed out for some much needed litre biers! Devoured a plate of sauerkraut and sausage - something I would never normally eat but it felt appropriate and tasted GREAT! You can't really go wrong with salt, grease and beer. The rest of the day/night is slightly foggy but I'm sure it involved consuming a lot more BIER! Day 2 (and sadly our last - had to make this visit brief to spare our livers!) started bright and early (read: jet lag) with more bier. Convinced at this point liquor laws are temporarily suspended during the 2 weeks of Oktoberfest. Fine by me! Made our way to the Theresienweisse grounds where all the giant bier halls are and to our surprise, a massive carnival with dozens of spinny rides! I can't think of a more terrible combo than litre biers and spinny rides but people were lovin' it. An interesting observation I made during our brief jaunt was that the more people drink, the more love drunk they get! Not once did I see tempers flare or fists thrown. It was so refreshing to be in a place where everyone was there to simply eat, drink and be merry. And that we did my friends. We also quickly learned that the best base to coat your stomach before consuming a few litre biers was, naturally, salty carbs! Pretzels are a staple at Oktoberfest and again, are something I would never eat here in Canada. When in Rome....
We had doubts that we would make it into any of the bier halls being that we didn't arrive extra early and stake out a spot in line. From the research I had done prior, I understood that we wouldn't have a hope in hell of getting in anywhere. So needless to say we were pleasantly surprised when we just strolled into the Hofbrau Haus and insanely thrilled when we were able to order BIER! The rule is that in order to get a bier, you must have a seat or a table. People guard these with their lives and seeking 2 seats was going to be a challenge. Luckily, we made some new friends (or mates rather) from England who let us sidle up to their stand-up table to order a few pints of liquid gold. Once you have your coveted beverage, you're free to wander around the bier hall at your leisure. And let me tell you, this place is massive! It is loud, rowdy and glorious!!! Not something I could handle on a typical Friday night but definitely an experience I will remember forever. The chanting and cheers'ing creates a cult-ish vibe that is hard to ignore. It's contagious.

Rationale kicked in after a few giant mugs of bier and the fact that we had to board a plane that night to Turkey. We collected ourselves, smuggled a Hofbrau Haus stein (shhh!) and stumbled over to the English Gartens. Perhaps it was the beer goggles and my love-drunk state but this park was one of the most beautiful city parks I've seen. People were sprawled out on the grass, drinking, napping, making out... and not a speck of trash was to be seen on the ground. Torontonians, you could learn a thing or two about this! And the bicycles! Oh, the bikes. They are everywhere. Cruisers, speed bikes, mountain bikes, small bikes, trikes, you name it, it had wheels and someone was riding it. I wish we had more time to experience this beautiful city by bike.
Just beyond the park we found the Eisbach River. This is the river that locals have rigged up a structure under the water to make the fast flowing current create a wave for surfing. I thought it might've been too cool to be out on the river surfing but we were delighted to see the banks on either side lined up with riders decked in wet suits waiting to drop in. One by one they systematically straddled their board and rode the wave back and forth until they succumbed to its current and floated downstream, only to do it all over again. It was incredible and the locals swelled with pride each time someone threw down a sick trick. As an interesting aside, this was where part of the "Make it Mine" video by Jason Mraz was filmed.

From there it was time to hustle back to the hotel, collect our things and go to the airport. Our whirlwind trip to Munich was sadly over but I can confidently say this is one place I will most definitely return to someday. And magically, I felt healthy for 2 days! Go figure that one out cause I can't.
On we went, destination: Istanbul. We arrived close to midnight, checked into our hotel and dined on the most heavenly hummus I have tasted at a small family-run restaurant across from our hotel. I knew I was in for 2 more weeks of delicious delights! Met our guide the next morning and began our 2 week GAP adventure; Absolute Turkey. I will take this moment to say that despite their best efforts, GAP adventures contracted this tour to a local tour company and our guide was el terriblay. Despite that, we did our best to enjoy this trip - our first organized tour ever. Unfortunately, part of organized travel means being with the same group of people the entire time. And being that Turkey is a large country geographically, we covered a lot of ground and saw most of the country from a bus window. This resulted in a lot of time listening to people whine about how awful our guide was and how he was ruining their vacation. Unfortunate that people can't suck it up and make the best of an experience in a country that has so much to offer. Turkey was wild and wonderful and weird. Its landscapes varied from crowded dirty urban streets to mountainous lush forests to barren, rocky spanses formed by volcanic rock centuries ago. It tells the story of its ever-evolving politics and religious influence in a way that makes you marvel. Its history goes so far back that you sometimes can't remember if the ruins you're looking at or the churches carved into caves are from BC or AD. They have it all. Its richness consumes your senses and overwhelms your being. The food, the language, the architecture, the markets - Turkey's culture is truly a reflection of its people. The two weeks took us into the interior (Cappaodocia region and Konya), then south to the mediterranean sea (Antalya), along the coast (Kas, Pammukale, Ephesus) and finally up to Troy and Galipoli, ending up in Istanbul. It's too long to go through our itinerary day by day but here are some highlights: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, sneaking into a swank hotel in Istanbul to get a panoramic rooftop view of the city, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice daily (just pennies a glass!), typical Turkish breakfast which we learned to love (hard boiled egg, olives, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, deep fried cheese rolls, bread and jam), the Grand Bazaar, spending a night on a boat in the mediterranean, swimming in the mediterranean, Turkish pide, Efes beer, walking on the salt lake, Derinkuyu the underground city, hiking through chimaera, the eternal flames, driving along sketchy winding mountainside roads, visiting Ephesus, Pammukkale ....the list goes on. It was indeed incredible!

Returning home was bittersweet. We were ready to be back and away from the rest of the travellers in our group but wished we could've spent more time in the places we loved most in Turkey. Which brings us to October....

October 2009
The day after we arrived back home happened to be my birthday. One of the great perks at Blue Mountain is having your birthday day off! Sweet, one more day to recover. It was slow going and I've got nothing special to report from my birthday. I guess anything would've been anticlimactic compared to the experience we just had in Germany and Turkey. I was expecting to start a night course for Adobe InDesign at our local Georgian College campus that evening so Ken and I hadn't even made dinner plans. As it turns out, my course had been cancelled and dinner plans went by the wayside. I made nachos (something I was craving our entire time away!). Happy 29th to me...sigh. Ken vowed he would have something extra special planned for my 30th. I'll tell you right now that I don't plan on making nachos to ring in the dirty thirty.
Back to work on Tuesday and it was full speed ahead for the next month. October is our seasons pass campaign at work and it requires all hands on deck. Several trips to Toronto for work (Ski show, Breakfast Television) later and the month was over. But not before we hosted Ken's family for Thanksgiving. No turkey this year though!

November 2009
November calmed down slightly and I was able to regain some much needed sleep! Thankfully, October's hard work paid off with a successful seasons pass campaign. It was only a matter of time until the hectic winter pace at work picked up again so I was enjoying some down time during November. At the start of the month I joined Jess Synnott on her yearly shopping bonanza in Grove City, Pennsylvania. Non-stop shopping for 2 straight days wore on my wallet and my feet! Some great finds were found (including my first Coach purse!) at bargain basement prices ($39!). 12 hours on a bus there and back and bags full of goodies made me a happy girl! Retail therapy definitely did the trick and after a busy month prior, I felt like I earned it.
Towards the end of the month, the camp girls all headed down to the city for a night on the town and a sleepover at Trish's. It was great to catch up with everyone that could make it (Jess, Alison M., Lisa, Trish and myself) and to see Alison Cross at the bar. Unfortunately Devon couldn't make it and man, do I miss that girl! We went to El Convento Rico for the night which is a latin dance bar that features a drag show at midnight. Hilarious! It was a great evening spent with some wonderful women, friends I don't see nearly often enough. Miss you girls!

post script: major oversight! At the end of October Ken was browsing on MLS (an old past time) and "accidentally" stumbled upon a house that was love at first sight for us both. It was an old 40s home that had been completely renovated inside and out, updated with super sleek finishes and style. It screamed Kaden! So, somewhat on an impulse at the start of November, we listed our house and put a conditional offer on this house. Eek! We had everyone guessing as to why we made this snap decision when we weren't even planning to move. We were somewhat puzzled ourselves but went with it anyway. A couple of months passed with only a handful of showings on our place and it was beginning to sink in that maybe this wasn't the house for us. At the start of the whole thing, we said that if it didn't work out with our "dream home" that we would take our house off the market and stay here. Well...some sense sunk in as the time passed and there were indications that perhaps this wasn't the house for us. We allowed the conditional period to lapse and chose not to extend the offer on said dream home. As it stands today, our house is still for sale and where we end up next remains to be seen.

December started off kind of crappy to be honest. For years I've been suffering from off and on stomach cramps ranging in severity. Starting around August I was having them daily; crippling pain that caused me to lose concentration and focus. I had been to all kinds of medical professionals in the past trying to diagnose the source of pain to no avail. And then it would go away for a while, giving me temporary relief. Frustrated, in pain and at the end of my rope, I sought relief in a local Naturopathic Doctor that came highly recommended. Her plan of attack was to run a food allergy test that would conclusively tell me which foods I was allergic to and to what degree. Her suspicion was dairy. However, having recorded a detailed food diary in an effort to single out the source, I didn't agree with her assumptions. It was probably denial. Ice cream is my favourite comfort food and cheese is an old faithful. I refused to believe it could be dairy. But sure enough, at the start of December I went in for my results and the culprit? Whey protein and casein. Two of the major proteins found in cow's milk and goat's milk. And what was I eating everyday at lunch? Cottage cheese! Super high in protein! It's no wonder I was in dire straits but it didn't make the result any easier to handle. Beyond the major dairy allergy, I was also forbidden to eat almonds, peanuts, carrots, eggs and grapes (red or white). So with just weeks left before the holidays, I was told no cheese, no baked goodies, no wine...UGH! It was a harsh realization and has been a huge adaptation in my diet and lifestyle. I'm finally starting to get used to the regimen and have found some decent cheese alternatives made of soy but nothing will ever match a wheel of brie or a tub of hagen daazs. On the bright side? I've lost weight, feel healthier and am so thrilled to not be in pain anymore.
Christmas day was spent waking up alone in our house. We really needed to spend some alone time and with Ryan in Nigeria for Christmas, we decided to celebrate with everyone just after Christmas. On the 25th we went to my mom's house for a lovely dinner and then came back home to our cozy, empty house. It was a refreshing change to have that for the first time ever. Boxing day was an early start off to Ottawa to spend 2 days with R&K. Short but sweet, they spoiled us with yummy food and plenty of gifts. Pingu was in her element with doggy Christmas treats! Back in the car on the 28th with a stopover in Uxbridge for my extended family Christmas dinner followed by the most harrowing winter drive I have ever experienced (literally could not see 2ft in front of you) and we made it home in one piece in time for the Olympic Torch Relay which went through the resort in the early morning of the 29th. It was the coldest day of winter (minus 30 with wind chill!) but so worth it. I even got to hold the torch! Who cares if my nose almost fell off and I was practically throwing up from being so cold!? It was an incredible Canadian experience.

Lastly, we ended 2009 on a high note for another celebration at Steph and Ty's. This years' theme was Olympics and along with Alana, Roz and Steph, we dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team! Everyone embraced the theme wholeheartedly and there were some sweet get-ups; team Canada hockey, figure skating pairs, Germany, English cricket. A solid effort was put forth by all. Consumed far too much alcohol of all different varieties which resulted in an entirely wasted first day of 2010 but it was worth it.

There was much to celebrate and be happy about in 2009. I can only hope 2010 brings just as many highs!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Year in review - January to June 2009

I realize the last time I attempted to do this was over 2 years ago and I got as far as the first week. What a feeble attempt! It's 2010 and I'm going in with gusto in an effort to summarize the highs, lows and in-betweens of 2009. Complete with photos for your viewing pleasure! So here goes...
January 2009
Winter is always a busy time for me with work so anything fun and social that I can get in is a bonus. My girls from camp visited (Devon, Alison and Jess) and we were treated to private in-house zumba instruction from Ingrid at the Y. For those that don't know, Zumba is a form of various latin dance styles performed in a cardio/exercise class. It's fun, it's funny and it's a workout! Bonus! Ingrid is the perfect instructor for such a class, as she shimmy's and shakes and hoots and hollers. The picture below is taken from the basement with the furniture moved aside.
Even Pingu got into the dancing action!

Later that night we ended up at the village, completing a nightlife hat trick after visiting/drinking/dancing at Gel, Rusty's and Windy O'Neills. Pretty good considering that was my one and only visit to the Village in 2009. A photo from the night documents the good times.

January also brought along an amazing opportunity to sit first row (behind courtside seats) behind the net at a Raptors game. Ken was given the tickets through work and we couldn't pass up the offer! Even though the Raps lost due to some questionable calls by the half-asleep refs, it was exciting to be so close! We even got a glimpse of David Suzuki as he walked by from his courtside seats and an actor from Y & R! Basically, we felt like celebs (joke!).

Chris Bosh attempts to lead his team to a victory.

As with every winter, we try to take advantage of rare powder days by either snowboarding or snowshoeing. Below is a photo after a nice dump of pow! Ken and I went snowshoeing with Jess and Shannon.

Jumping photos are always fun but they're especially fun in knee-deep powder!

February and March rolled in and out in a flash with nothing to notable to report. Work consumes most of my time during these months and when it doesn't, I have the habit of hibernating down to an art!

April was an interesting month. The snow just wouldn't stop and we were well on our way to having a record season in terms of length.

Here's a glimpse of one of a few snowfalls in April.

In April I convinced Ken, Steph and Ty to go on a day trip to Midland for the Sweetwater Festival at the Wye Marsh. It's a bit of a trek but I sold it to them with the promise of free, freshly tapped syrup on snow (something I had read in their advertising that instantly enticed me!). Never mind the fact that you can get maple taffy on snow for 2 bucks at the Village - this stuff was the real deal....or so I thought. After trudging around in the rain and riding on a dodgy horse-drawn wagon in the freezing cold, I was getting some doubtful stares from my friends. I however, kept the faith and made the best of a damp and soggy situation. While the Wye Marsh is an interesting and educational place full of taxidermied local wildlife, aquariums with water dwelling creatures and a network of woodchipped trails, my real motivation for visiting was the maple syrup and did I ever have my hopes up real high. We even learned about the process from tree to syrup and how to tap maple trees yourself - something Tyler and Ken swore they would do at the time however 9 months later and still no sign of a tree-tapping set up in sight!!!? In anticipation of the end and eager to get back home, we were all salivating over the sweet smell of fire roasting maple syrup and made our way to the sampling area where the "maple taffy on snow" was being distributed. I almost elbowed a baby and stepped on a small child to get in line but was confused when I got to the front. What they were handing out was a popsicle stick with no more than a q-tip sized amount of maple syrup on the end. My facial expression must have clearly communicated the message "are you f'ing kidding me!?!" because I didn't even have to say anything before the volunteer manning the station said "We're saving it for the kids." I don't even think Tyler and Ken took samples, they were so pitiful. The thing tasted more like the stick it came on than like actual maple syrup! I mean, cripes, we had stuck it out in the rain, paid our $10 admission or whatever ridiculous overpriced fee it was and drove an hour for THIS!? Be forewarned people, the Sweetwater Festival ain't for adults. We were spent and piled our soaking wet selves back into our car for the long trip back to Collingwood. But not before a few photo-ops...
We're smiling because we don't know what's up

"You know what really grinds my gears?"

I was so close to stealing this entire pot of syrup.

Moving onto May, it was bound to be a better month than the last. Seriously, that syrup experience really soured my month! May was going to be sweet and syrupy. It was around this time that I began running. I don't know what got into me but the form of exercise that I previously dreaded suddenly became almost an addiction. It started off slow, real slow, as I gradually worked my way up to running 30+ minutes! I was loving it and the results I was seeing in my body was a nice motivation too. I began to use the Y more, ran indoors at the gym at work and on occasion, ran outside as well. I'm not as motivated to run outside to this day nor am I comfortable running with other people, but somehow a passion was ignited in me and I still continue with running on a smaller scale. My goal is to sign up for a 5k this spring and potentially a 10k next fall.
May also meant the annual slobberfest (or Lobsterfest for the sober few) in Thornbury! This was my first time attending and while the lobster was indeed delicious, the rest of it was a bit of a letdown. I am already in talks with a few renegade folks who want to ban together to have our own backyard lobsterfest this May! Me with the remains of my lobster below...

June was here before we knew it and with it, our impending 2nd wedding anniversary! A couple of months prior, Ken and I were discussing our plans for our anniversary when I learned about an event the very same day that ranked almost as high as our anniversary on the importance scale! No Doubt was making their return with a summer tour and June 16, 2009 was the date of the Toronto concert. Fortunately Ken understands my marriage-like committment to this band (I've loved/followed them since I was 15) and when I scored 2 tickets in the second row centre at the ACC, he was more than happy to see me go. I of course offered him the second ticket along with my undying gratitude but he declined saying he wouldn't be able to appreciate it like he should and that I would be better taking someone who would. Who was that someone? None other than my travel companion and partner at a previous No Doubt show in 2004 in New Jersey - my mom! She was thrilled to go and sang along to many of the words to their more popular songs. It was a great night and the rush of seeing them that close after so many years was euphoric. They performed a seamless set of mainly hits as well as some oldies for the die-hard fans. The crowd was an interesting mix of young and old, parents, etc. It was a true reflection of the evolution of this band and how they've brought about new fans with each record. I should also mention that I had a ticket for the show on June 19th in Darien Lake. A bit of an impulse buy but I couldn't get enough when I found out they were going on tour after such a long hiatus! I travelled to the states with Annie and met up with George where we got a great standing position in the second row. It is incredible how tame the crowds were and the strange looks we received when we were dancing and jumping around to the music of our favourite band. Another impeccable set was delivered and we even caught a few glances from Tom and Gwen who (we convinced ourselves) might have recognized us from the Toronto show!? One can always dream.
Following that show, Annie dangled a big fat carrot in front of my face; an extra ticket to their recently added London show on June 30th. Had I known they were going to play London, I probably wouldn't have gone to Darien Lake as well. But being that London was close and the carrot was there, I had to take the bait. It was worth all the jeers I got from friends, coworkers and my mom. None of them really understand my passion for this band and all think that it's the same show over and over. I see it differently and would've been so disappointed if I passed up the ticket. So down to London we went on June 30th and coincidentally ran into Adrian the drummer at a nearby market. After an awkward convo and interaction, we went on our seperate ways. Our lovely friends John and George saved us spots against the barricades so that we could take it all in from the front row. Wow! What a way to go out. Did I mention it was front row centre!!? Again, the crowd was pretty tame except for when Gwen came near us. She was super involved with the crowd, coming into it to sing a couple of lines and bringing a fan on stage. They are a band that has a true appreciation for their fame and fans. It is so obvious they love what they do and the pull it off so well. There aren't many bands around from my era that you can say that about. I cannot wait to hear some new material in 2010 (hopefuly!). Afterwards, we waited by the buses and were lucky to meet and greet with Tom, the guitarist. He said he recognized us from the past few shows which was awesome! I am still kicking myself that we chose to go eat pizza when if we had've stayed, we would've met Gwen who came out to meet the crowd (something she apparently rarely does)
Here are a few favourite snaps from the 3 shows...hard to pick out of the hundreds I took.
Gwen Stefani rockin' a serious 8-pack!

Hey Baby Hey Baby Hey

My favourite band in the entire universe

Die hards stand front row centre! Annie, George, John and ME!

It is also worth mentioning my anniversary with Ken since we didn't celebrate on the actual day. 2 years of marriage have flown by and this year we dined at Azzurra to mark the occasion while enjoying a nice bottle of wine we brought home from South Africa which they allowed us to drink at the restaurant! mmmm...deeelish!

Another thing worth noting was our attempt at sandboarding near Roz's parents house in Tiny Beach Township. Across from their beachfront house is a huge sand dune that we always said we'd sand board on and boy did we make dreams reality! Hilarity ensued and sand went errrverywhere as Ty would say. Here's some photographic evidence of the action.
Safety first Roz!

Welcome to Dodgetown

Shreddin' the slopes

Enjoying some apres!

Soaking in some rays

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 1

The day that we've been waiting for has finally arrived. The million dollar question around town has been answered. And it couldn't have started any better. I'm talking about opening day at Blue Mountain! Bluebird skies, great conditions and a general buzz of excitement and anticipation added up to an epic first day on the slopes at the resort.
There is a feeling I get in the pit of my stomach as I approach the resort each year on opening day. It's kind of a mixture between the feeling you get on a first date with someone you're stoked on and the feeling of being on a rollercoaster, creeping to the top of the hill just before you plummet into some loop-de-loops! Each year I question whether I'll remember how to snowboard (still after 7 years!) much like you might on a first date, anticipating a first kiss. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face as I approached the hill, strapped into my board and loaded the chairlift like it was something I'd been doing since birth. After a successful chairlift load and unload at the top, I was feeling confident and pumped to shred some first tracks. Nearing the edge of the hill, I pointed my board downhill and went in for the kiss. In an instant, it all came back to me. With every turn, my smile grew wider and I couldn't help but let out a little squeal of joy! I'm reminded of why I live here. Why it's worth all the white-knuckled winter driving and shoveling the driveway. In this moment, it's just me and the wide open hill in a full-on embrace. I'm oblivious to other skiers and boarders around me as I find my rhythm and let my board do its thing. I connect with the snow, get closer and more comfortable as my edge grabs the slope. As I reach the bottom of the hill, I quickly snap back into reality, jump in line and do it all over again. This is my makeout session.
Today renewed an energy in me as I enter my third winter working at BMR. There are so many highlights to come, hills to be shredded and smiles to share. Here's to 09/10 at Blue Mountain!

Monday, January 08, 2007

week end review

I feel like I always start my blog entries off with something like this "it has been WAY too long since i've updated this thing..."
okay, so i'm a crappy blogger. not sure anyone actually reads this thing anyway, but either way, on with another much delayed post.
in an attempt to muster up some creative juices to write my now annual "year end review" which i've had no motivation to write (maybe i'll get to it by march...that would fit my bi-monthly entry schedule on this bloggy thing), i thought i'd start small and (inspired by liz) write my "week end review". that's right, we've just seen the end of the first week of '07 and here's my report. i don't expect to have the discipline or drive to keep up with this on a weekly basis, but maybe it will be the springboard i need for my '06 year end review. we'll see. let's start.
new years eve (although technically still 2006, it began the week and is worthy of a mention) was spent debaucherously as per us at our old hood, cranberry. steph and ty packed their condo way past capacity yet again and we celebrated with friends old and new but all of whom were drunk. good times. games were played (flip cup!) and created (drinko!) and my involuntary attempt to consume alcohol from all four categories (beer, wine, hard liquor, champagne) was ....successful!??! i don't know if that's the right word to describe it as my delayed hangover the next day would probably suggest i was feeling anything but successful. either way, it was a blast and i'm looking forward to being in steph and ty's new house - wherever that may be - next year. at least taht will once and for all get the cranberry rent-a-cops off our ass for having a party on new years (this year set a record at 11:15pm for the first arrival of security, reporting noise complaints. COME ON!!!)
monday, or new years day as one can imagine, was a little rough for not only me but our house guests. persevering in line for 1/2 an hour, we dined at a local greasy spoon (craigleith general store) which tamed the hangover slightly. by 3pm though, i must've sobered up finally because the hangover hit HARD! it's such a burn when you wake up surprisingly feeling decent - not great, i mean i wouldn't go run a marathon or anything, BUT it was nice to not feel like death - only to feel like a bag of assholes by midday. it's like a cruel joke your body plays on you. mentally i'm feelin' great and then a few hours later it's like, "SIKE!!!! just kidding!! you're not doing shit today because i'm going to induce nausea on you for the rest of the day!!!" for those who know me, know that i don't do nausea well...or at all. i'm going to suck at being pregnant one day.
anyway, on with the week. tuesday i caught up with my friend kristen from calgary who i haven't seen since summer. she got the standard tour of the new house and we chatted and played catch up for a few hours before having lunch at my favorite collingwood restaurant, tesoro. it's so nice to be able to walk to these places now that we live closer to downtown. makes it feel like cranberry was SO far!!! in a small town though, nothing is really very far. becauase of the nice weather though, i've been able to get out for a few decent walks - the highlight of my day (yeah, i know, not much is going on these days!!). after heading back to her parents' house which is just around the corner from mine, we had some coffee and cookies (yum!) and i headed back home to find my sick fiance in bed. supposed to be at work, he came home early with a head cold. i hope that he's just nursing an extended hangover as it's only a matter of time before i catch his cold if that's indeed what it was. turns out, he spends the next two days in bed with either the worlds longest hangover, or a case of the local bug that's been spreading. i think we can mark this as the first time ken has been sick that i haven't caught it!!! miracles!
wednesday i spent taking care of ken and i walked pingu all the way down to starbucks and back - for those who don't know, that's like 16 blocks - a record for pingu! she started to get tired on teh walk back and i felt kind of bad for having walked her so far, but exercise is good and the fresh air was nice. i told myself today would be the day i finally go back to the gym and being my only mission for the day, i failed miserably. brutal. instead, i eat more christmas cookies. i still have 5 months to fit into my wedding dress, no big deal, right?!? the best part about today was watching the canadian junior hockey team beat the US and move onto the gold medal game on friday. WAHOO!!! it was a brutal nailbiter with 7 rounds of shoot outs...i never scream at the tv during sports - what's the point - but i was full on cursing and yelling at them during this time. so good that they won!
thursday was the day i had my one and only bar shift for the week. doubly brutal. this no snow thing is killing the resort which now this week goes down to 18% capacity. ouch! i guess i shouldn't have been surprised then when i got the new schedule for this week and i wasn't even on it!!! yikes!!! unless it snows, i'll be doing this housewife thing longer than i'd hoped. unfortunately it doesn't pay so great. hmmm.... thankfully thursday was a half decent night on the bar witht he holiday crowd doing not much but shopping and eating. i now have to ration my wages/tips over the next week and a half. ugh.
friday i did lunch with my mom which was nice since we hadn't seen eachother since christmas day. good catch up and the best part was when she invited me on a trip to NYC in september!!! she had planned to go anyway to see a US open game and her travel partner bailed so i get to go in her place. pretty sweet, escpecially since my mom is donating her air miles to fly her charity case po' ass daughter down. yay!!! hopefully i'll be employed by then. we went down together a few years ago for my first trip to the city and i can't wait to go again. so much we missed last time can be covered this time. AND i get to see a US open game live. i'm not the biggest tennis fan, but it should be pretty cool to see that caliber of a game in person. i'm hoping we'll get to a broadway show too and definitely want to hit up cold stone creamery, century 21 and the newest craze in ice cream (leave it to me to be on top of this stuff!) pinkberry (
friday was also great because the canadian junior hockey team WON GOLD!! this team rocks and is truly a display of canada's extreme talent in the sport of hockey. very exciting.
the weekend was declared as a weekend to do nothing as ken wasn't up to much and wanted to fully recover. as was his wish, pretty much nothing was accomplished. except however, we finihsed story mode on tony hawk underground2 for ps2. it was much to our dismay though when we went ot save the finished game and something crashed and we lost all of our progress. if you're a gamer, a geek or just have an appreciation for hours of work lost (yes, i consider video games "work" doesn't pay either though. boo urns) it was truly frustrating!!! i was grumpy. we drank wine.
other than that, i DID make it back to the gym on saturday and got my ass whooped. i am SO out of shape having missed a week and a half of work outs and doing nothign but pure binging. we went sunday again too for a swim and after 20 laps, i called it quits. better than nothing.
and that was my week.
pretty uneventful. all you working folk who wish you could do nothing during the day, rest assured knowing you're not missing out. having a real, stable career must be nice.
i should mention that i'm not sitting idle though - i've been job hunting every day to no avail. this town sucks for jobs and with 1300 lay offs at the resort and more factories slated to close, it will be a big pool of unemployed fish that i need to vie with for a new job.
wish me luck! hopefully i'll get around to the year end review pretty soon and guaranteed it will be more exciting than this entry becuase '06 was a pretty great year!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


wow! how did the rest of september, all of october and half of november fly by just like that?!? i can't believe i've been so negligent with posting but can understand why.
i've been juggling a few things lately, feeling a bit like a circus clown and unsure of what lies ahead. i know many others my age and personal friends can echo that statement with their own uncertainties about life in general and the direction they're heading. there are certain stresses that are manageable and easier to handle than others and then there's those that present unanswered questions and just plain make you rack your brain for answers.
the biggest of all at the moment i guess is the sale of our condo. after 3 months (short 2 weeks) on the market and no bites, it's beginning to get frustrating and old. scratch that - it began to get irritating weeks ago and now we're pretty much desperate, ready to unload to anyone who is willing to make a half decent offer. spread the word kids, this is one hot commodity!!! we were suppose to be in our new house at the end of this month and in an act of desperation, have asked our builder to extend the closing date on our new house another week, putting us in there dec.7. i wish i could say i was excited about this but we haven't had a chance because of this looming condo sale - it's kind of killed the experience of being involved and excited about a brand new house.
that's not all that's bugging me though. i kind of feel like the end of this month marks a bit of an apocolypse in my life. maybe tha'ts a bit over dramatic and extreme but i'm feeling very unsure about certain things in my life and what happens next remains a mystery. if i can help it, my hard work will pay off though and things will work out - they always do, right?!?! right.
the one thing i can be sure of though is that i've got a great support network. it's so comforting to know that i have close friends, my mom and ken who care tremendously and wish me the best and that they've all got my back, no matter what happens.
for now, i'm relying on that to get me through this stressful time and as 2006 comes to a close on a not so good note, it can only mean better things for '07 and a fresh positive start.