Tag Archives: lists

giving thanks

~~thank you for all of the blog and fb comments, emails, and in-person hugs over the past week…my family and i feel very supported and loved.~~


happy thanksgiving weekend, friends!

in honour of thanksgiving, here is my list of 42 things for which i am thankful. [42 because i am 42 years old] i had a lot of fun composing this list, it’s a compilation of the first 42 thoughts to spring to mind, some serious, some not so much. here we go!…

1. every single member of my family

2. that i have a job that i love and adore and look forward to each day

3. that little e still reaches for my hand when we walk home from the school bus

4. tim horton’s choco chip muffins

5. high speed internet – i have absolutely no comprehension of how this technology actually works – i find the whole concept of websites, google etc simply amazing!

6. that feeling i get when running: i feel free, powerful, in the moment, in a zone, happy, clear-headed, centred…it’s awesome

7. that my list of people who irk me is much, much smaller than my list of people  i like

8. my walkable neighbourhood

9. cutie c‘s random and enthusiastic hugs and snuggles

10. this song because it makes me happy!

11. the creative and imaginative outlet that knitting offers; the way you can produce works of art with knitting

12. that i found the will to break my diet coke addiction [i know i complain a lot in my kikiproject updates, but i truly am proud and grateful that i could stop drinking pop]

13. reading, esp novels that you can’t wait to get back to!

14. quirky stories from my life (for example: the time i stalked an semi-famous ultrarunner in moab, utah; the time i got lost in the atlanta airport) that sure are memorable

15. s’bux choco chip cookies

16. that i ran the boston marathon three times and had three awesome races there

17. my rooftop garden and patio area

18. the stories and experiences i hear from customers at the store – every one is unique

19. that any seinfeld episode can make me LOL

20. my green eyes

21. cereal!!! [except any types that contain raisins]

22. having a competitive personality – i like being a go-getter

23. that i can still get away with plucking out any grey hairs on my head, no dye job is yet necessary

24. my circle of friends

25. the mega-bass option on any stereo system

26. that i left teaching after three years and did not spend my life at a career that was not for me

27. doing a crossword puzzle and being able to fill in all the answers [ok, i only do easy x-words, but that’s beside the point]

28. that as we get older mature, we know what we like and what we don’t: i no longer concern myself about the fact that i dislike cooking or am not an animal person, for example

29. any and all vacations i have ever taken: childhood trips out east, out west, to florida; adulthood holidays in aruba, florida, the U.S…all provided awesome memories

30. my running shoe/flipflops/footwear collection

31. baskin robbins choco chip ice cream

32. that i am 5’5″ tall – not too tall, not too short

33. my abba box set

34. that i like watching a lot of different sports, live or on tv

35. this song because it centred me this summer

36. blogging! i really enjoy coming up with ideas, writing, editing, the interactions through comments…it’s a fun hobby

37. that you can sit at chapters and read magazines for free

38. the way my cardinal tattoo turned out [i love my boston one, too, but the cardinal is the ultimate special one]

39. the movie “when harry met sally,” one of my all-time favourites

40. that i got to say good-bye to grandma [and was with grandpa c when he passed away eleven years ago].

41. that little e and cutie c are only one hour away, down the 401

42. that each morning we can wake up and welcome a new day, new opportunities, new experiences

quick: what are any three things for which you are thankful, today? sure, i can join you and do three more!

that my drive to TO on wednesday was hassle-free and uneventful (dare i say “quick,” even?!); the deliciousness that is maranatha crunchy almond butter; that TOMORROW we are doing our annual family christmas list exchange!

six for sunday

1. friday evening was just the best. i was feeling pretty beat after a go-go-go day at theOTHERstore (for whatever reason, i processed about three times the amount of transactions that i normally do during a day shift…which is good! we like high $sales$!) and a night in sounded lovely. mom and dad were away visiting friends and so i crashed at their place (they were aware of this) to watch crap tv (you’ll remember i don’t have a tv). i didn’t even knit – i lay down on the loveseat, head on one arm rest, legs hanging over the other end, and flicked away through the channels, eventually settling on “i found my gown” and then an episode of “friends.” i felt exactly like i was fifteen years old again! sometimes you need to spend time being mindless.

2. three of these statements about friday are true and one is false: stephen hawking was in my ‘hood; the brother was interviewed for npr; i bought my SIXTH pair of nike free’s; it was the last full day of summer 2012.

3. bloggers kath and janae are two classy gals, each in their own way: the packages i mailed arrived super quick via canada post (amazing) and last sunday i received the nicest emails from each new mom – janae emailed the most exuberant note of thanks, and we had a cheery email exchange back and forth; kath sent an e-card with the most sincere, warm and friendly thank you message inside. happy vibes all around! (and the smarties, pc chocolate and apple butter have all made blog appearances this week!).

4. yesterday, the weather forecast called for rain. i set out for my early-a.m. run wearing a ball cap and two layers of long-sleeve shirts (and just about boiled, thank goodness i had shorts on to balance things off), anticipating that a downpour could strike at any moment. well, i enjoyed rain-free conditions the entire time i was out, and in fact, witnessed the most amazing cloud + sun configurations -> it looked just like i could see right up into heaven.

5. knitting seed stitch with cream-coloured yarn is about as boring as knitting can get. i am falling asleep at my needles…but a blanket needs a border. i predict a very small border for this current project…i can’t take much more!!!

6. unless something extraordinary happens, i shall see you again on thanksgiving weekend with a list of 42 things for which i am thankful.

happy sunday!

(i am seeing bff debbie later and we are either going to stalk an interior designer who has appeared on hgtv and lives in our nearby westmount neighbourhood OR go to costco. either option is fine by me!).

(i did not buy a new pair of shoes!).

signs that i concede that fall is here*

1. i wore capris to work yesterday, not shorts, for the first time in months and months. [i am stubbornly going to resist full-length tights as long as possible].

2. oatmeal – so that i can micro hot oats for breakfast – is back on my grocery list [i took a hot cereal hiatus over the summer, i just was not tasting it].

3. the next time i desire a sweet treat, it will be a pumpkin scone from s’bux (they are back!!) and not an ice cream.

4. i caught a snippet of nfl football on mom and dad’s tv on sunday – regular season baseball, you soon will be bygones.

5. thanksgiving is a mere three weekends from now! how’d that happen?!

fall’s arrival: are you happy, sad, or indifferent? i weep.

what are you looking forward to, this autumn season? (because we believe in positive thinking in this corner of the world).

*the asterisk is because today’s title is quite possibly the most awkward one ever to appear on the kikiblog.

theme week: survey sez!

bloggers love surveys. they’re lighthearted in nature, it’s a fun type of blog post to compose, and readers like learning TMI more about the blogger’s life and interests.

surveys spread like wildfire and each one enjoys its fifteen minutes of fame before another one takes over. today we’re going to answer the a-z favourites survey. i forget where i first saw this one, so i extend my apologies to whoever thought it up!

for each letter of the alphabet, the blogger is to provide a favourite something -> ez! here are the first favourites that popped into my mind…

a – apples: readily available, versatile, make the best type of pie and crisp, easy to transport, and best of all – yummy! [must be crisp/hard/crunchy/not mealy].

b – boston marathon: whether to run in or watch on tv, this is my favourite marathon!


c – canada: i am a proud canuck. i appreciate our health care system, we are seen as a polite nation by other countries, canada is a great place to live [except in winter…i really wish canada would buy florida].

i can wear my FREE olympic-themed tee to show my canadian spirit!

d – diet coke: i have not tasted a drop since january 8th, but this is still the best beverage in the land.

e – earrings: with my ears triple pierced, i enjoy switching up my accessory options! this summer has been about peacock feathers, big silver hoops, and my new favourites from the madonna collection:

i always feel happy when i wear these!

f – facebook: this is THE genius invention of modern times. i check fb about 20 times a day, for real. i rarely post, but love reading my friends’ updates (i’m up to 149 friends!). it’s so cool to have this connection with people from all walks of my life.

g – george clooney: my ♥ honey bun ♥ numero uno!

h – hugs: i love getting and giving hugs. a quick embrace can be a friendly greeting, a gesture of support, an exuberant dance of joy. studies show that hugs improve your mood!!

i – ice cream sundays: mom and i had so much fun with ice cream cones at the mall on a few occasions, this summer. these should be weekly outings, i do declare!

the very best: laura secord ice cream in a chocolate/sprinkle-covered waffle cone

j – junky cereals: the kiddie varieties with absolutely no nutritional value make awesome toppings to a mixed bowl of cereals! i do love my cereal!!

k – knitter’s fair: i’m already super-excited for saturday september 8th when mom and i will enjoy our annual knitting extravaganza. 2010 recap here! 2011 recap here!

l – lululemon: i count lulu among my preferred clothing brands – you pay more but the stuff is super-cute, wears well, and lasts forever. after wednesday’s shopping trip, i am very well lulu’d!

m – movies: i’d rather watch a movie than tv. if i could, given unlimited time and money, i would head to the cinema every free evening.

n – nail art: i love nail polish, but even more, i adore nail art. when i got my nails done as one of my 41 new experiences last year, i think it was my very favourite new experience!

these daggers made typing and blackberry-ing impossible, but they sure were fun to look at!

o – orange: best colour on the spectrum!

p – planks: i pretty much loathe and detest strength training, but core work is the lesser of all evils, and doing planks is something that is not that bad. you just lie there on your elbows and toes and zone out, all the while conditioning your abs – i can handle that!

q – quirkiness: in movies, in tshirt slogans, in myself (!) – nothing wrong with being *unique!*

r – reading: this summer i have spent more time reading than in the past three years, combined. and it’s been a joy!

s – sweating: there is nothing like a good sweat, be it from sitting on the beach, working out, just walking down the street when it’s 38 degrees C and humid as all get-out. i’d much rather be hot than cold!

t – tattoos: i love my two, plan to get one or two more in the next coupla years and admire the works of art on other people.

my cardinal

u – upping the ante: i’m competitive by nature! i like trying to surpass previous achievements, be it in sport, at work…this can be good or detrimental, depending on the situation!

v – velour/velvet: so very cosy to drape yourself in this soft fabric. right, george costanza?!


w – water: since i am off what you saw in “d” up above, water is the next best thing…or so i keep telling myself.

x – x-ing out items on a to do list: this is a bit of a cheat answer because i always CHECK MARK off my to do list (more positive in nature than x’s)…apart from semantics, it feels GREAT to accomplish what you set out to do for a day!

y – yellow cars: i don’t want to own or drive one, but these are the most fun-looking cars on the road!

canary yellow? banana yellow? that’s the shade that is so fun!

z – zigzag patterns: this shirt is one of my favourites:

it’s gotta be at least fifteen years old!

staying true to accepted question-posing style, share your favourites for your initials OR the letters of your first name!


and with this blog entry, dear friends, we conclude theme week. i think the only major cliché idea missed was that of doing a blog giveaway. sorry about your luck!


theme week: friday fotos

there is a plethora of variations on the friday alliteration idea: five for friday, fun facts friday, fit bit friday, friday features, friday fings, f’d up friday [ok, i made that one up, but it’d be workable, no?!]…i’ve decided to go with friday fotos [cutesy spelling and all] because i want to share the shopping trip that mom and i enjoyed on wednesday!

way back in the spring, mom and i decided to set aside a day in august when we could zoom down the 401 to mississauga and spend a day shopping at square one:

yes, conestoga and fairview park are great local malls, but we wanted a different experience!

GREAT summery weather…to spend the day shopping indoors! we had smooth sailing on the drive in from waterloo.

first stop of the day: coffee and a chance to make our plan of attack:

s’bux treats and a&w coffee…food courts are perfect for mixing and matching!

top of my list: lululemon!! we decided to skip stores available in k-w, too.

where is lulu??!

let’s shop!

mom has the patience of a saint: we were in lululemon for almost an hour, and i tried on item after item…with great success!! i am now well lulu’d…for the next while!

photo at home of the goods

[sidenote: i was all set to have mom snap a pic of me clutching 27 hangers of clothing when a sales associate gently admonished that no photo taking is allowed…pourquoi pas?? i am not about to sew up lulu knock-offs!].

then we discovered a new-to-us store:

boom, there goes another hour…and we emerged empty handed!

favourite print of the day (as seen on a dress in zara)

would you believe that after visiting only two stores, it was lunch time:

we each got a pizza and salad combo from mrs vanelli’s pizza – very tasty! and worthy of WIAW!

next up: melanie lyne which was mom’s #1 pick for the day:

i was seriously tempted by these feather earrings…now i wish i had picked them up!

mom had some luck! yippee, now we both had memento purchases from our day.

cognizant of the time of day and impending rush hour traffic, we shortly thereafter left square one to go across the street to…

please set up a location in waterloo, whole foods (and bring lululemon with you, while you’re at it)…

mom’s first visit to a wf, ever!

i compared this mississauga whole foods to the one i visited in sarasota florida, july 2010, and regaled mom with a few of my memories! this mississauga location is huge, bright, very clean, has TONS of product…but the sarasota wf definitely had better salad and hot buffet bars.

i perused the cereals, no surprise, there, but refrained from making a purchase!

we will never, ever learn: once again, we neglected to pick up a basket, so after twenty minutes of wandering the aisles, mom looked like this…

dad gets a treat of kettle chips in his favourite flavour!

…and we were giggling pretty hard! we also had to laugh because for all those hours spent at square one, we covered very little ground…ah well, quality over quantity was the theme of this day.

oh – i got some mint-scented shampoo, too:

this is the large size bottle – i should mark down the date and see how long it lasts!

love that scent!

our return trip to waterloo was also a breeze. it was so fun to travel to an out-of-town mall and spend the day with mom.

what’s your favourite mall? international plaza in tampa was amazing! wish i could have shown it to mom during my vacation. yorkdale mall (in toronto) has a great rep, we just didn’t want to face more time on the 401 to get there.

theme week: top ten tuesday

it’s tuesday! theme week continues with book discussion time!

blog friend zo is the queen of top ten tuesday participation, and it’s thanks to her that i know about ttt!


i took a look over at the blog, the broke and the bookish, that hosts top ten tuesdays, and zowie! things work out as they’re meant to be, as i was instantly jazzed by the suggested list for today, tuesday august 21st:


i started my blog in january 2010 (as my 40th bday present to myself) so that means we have two point five years of collected novels from which to choose. once again, i’m super glad i keep a log of the reading i do!

we’ll be short ‘n’ snappy (i’m not linking, you can google if you wish more details on a title!). i’m also sharing the date when i finished the book:

1. good to a fault (february 19th, 2010) – marina endicott (a modern-day classic)

2. best friends forever (october 2nd, 2010) – jennifer weiner (this author knows how to do beach lit)

3. born to run (november 7th, 2010) – christopher mcdougall (some parts are better than others but if you run, you must read this non-fiction work)

4. the hour i first believed (january 25th, 2011) – wally lamb (amazing)

5. the help (may 31st, 2011) – katherine stockett (ditto on amazing)

6. american wife (august 28th, 2011) – curtis sittenfeld (multi-layered story, i loved the protagonist)

7. something borrowed (march 31st, 2012) – emily giffin (the best novel from this popular, best-selling author, imo)

8. she’s come undone (july 4th, 2012) – wally lamb (this was my second time reading this incredible work)

9. the undomestic goddess (july 25th, 2012) – sophie kinsella (A+, four stars, for a light, fantastically enjoyable summer read)

10. explosive eighteen (july 28th, 2012) – janet evanovich (the whole stephanie plum series is mindless fun, great escapism)

if you blog, when did you start blogging? and please share a book title from that timespan that is super-great!

if you do not blog….just share a fantabulous novel that i must read! i am almost done book two of the 50 shades of grey trilogy. review to come on sept 9th with the next project update!

theme week: 10 things my parents did right

happy monday, everyone, and welcome to theme week!

every day this week, i’m going to explore a topic/ideaover-used title that is common in the blogging world.

for the past few mondays, stacie has been participating in monday listicles:


last week’s subject totally grabbed my interest and i thought, as i read stacie’s blog entry, “hey! i want to write about 10 things my parents did right, too!” i love how the very nature of this list is positive and we are not slamming and bemoaning how our parents raised us.

as a refresher, my mom and dad and i live in side-by-side condo buildings. i count my parents as my closest friends, and they are awesome people [of course, when i was 12-18 years old, they frustrated me much more frequently than now – haha!].

so, looking back on my growing-up years, here are:


1. surprise us with mcdonalds for lunch on sundays. i wrote a blog post here about my memories of these special outings, and this is what i said:

our family was not rolling in money when the brother and i were little – my mom stayed at home and my dad worked for a local insurance company. we were very comfortable, but my parents had to watch the budget a bit. a real treat was when we would go to mcdonalds for lunch after church on sunday. we did not go every week. and we never knew if we were going to go until the drive home at noon – if dad took a certain road, we knew it was a mcdonalds day! the brother and i would clap and practically dance in the back seat of the car. i think this memory is so special because it was family time all together, i loved the fillet o’ fish/fries food, and the joyful surprise factor was just too much fun.

2. instill a love of reading: books were a part of our childhood from babyhood onwards. when we went to the library, we could choose the same number of books as our age, i recall. one other memory: mom would read to us after supper, before kitchen clean-up time: the story girl, robinson crusoe, the swiss family robinson, the five little peppers and how they grew…thanks to the importance placed on enjoying works of fiction, i still love reading to this day.

3. arrange to have a stay-at-home mom during our formative years: this situation was the right decision in this era for our family. mom went back to work as a supply teacher (which led to a permanent classroom position as a kindergarten teacher) when i was in grade six. [sidenote: i want to emphasize that i have full respect for, and totally support my friends who work outside the home and also are moms]. prominent memories: riding our bikes to go on picnics to parks with a lunchbox lunch; one-to-one time (making my own alphabet book at age four); homemade (sometimes fiddly and labour-intensive) suppers; a generally relaxed home environment.

4. encourage creative and imaginative play: tv time was limited to 30-60 minutes per day; most of our toys did not require batteries; we were allowed to spread out our villages and families all over the living room and rec room and leave them in place for days on end!

5. vacation in a variety of ways during the summers: we took long trips both to eastern and western canada; we rented cottages for a week or two at a time; we took day trips to southern ontario tourist spots while maintaining a home base.

at storybook gardens, london (ontario), 1975

6. limit tv time: see #4, above. we played outside, inside, upstairs, downstairs, in the garage a lot more frequently than we watched tv! however, we DID view the popular childrens’ shows of the time [my stance is that kids have to know who mickey mouse and big bird are in order to be *with it* members of society]. tv was a special treat rather than a major time-filler.

7. prioritize time with grandparents, family, family friends: my grandma and grandpa c lived just a five minute drive away, so it was nbd to pop over to visit, get together for birthdays, etc. we were also close with my aunt and uncle who lived locally. and, our family visited back and forth with other families a lot!

g’ma and g’pa c!

8. encourage laughter: cracking hardboiled eggs on our foreheads, burping and farting (not in public!!), making dad wear a bread basket on his head over dinner-hour, just being silly because it is fun to laugh…we had a pretty joyful household (most of the time!!).

9. teach manners and accepted etiquette: i remember being so peeved because mom made us write thank you notes after birthdays and christmas!! i wanted to play with new toys, not write about them! but it was the right life lesson to teach us. not to boast, but mom and dad used to get compliments from perfect strangers about how well-behaved and polite the brother and i were, so they taught us well!

10. take us to church: let’s call a spade a spade – i no longer attend church, but i am grateful for the fact that we went to church every sunday (except in the summers) from birth to university-age. my feeling is that you don’t have to go to church to live ethically, practice kindness, and believe in God, and i am thankful for my mennonite church/faith upbringing.

what is something that YOUR parents did right, and something that you wish they had done differently? i wish that my parents had let me give up on piano lessons and let me take dance lessons instead. [please note that my parents are fully aware of my feelings, we have discussed the past, it is bygones, i DID learn valuable life lessons by achieving my grade eight in piano, and we have no hard feelings!].

stacie, i am glad you participated in this listicle as you inspired me, and i got to reflect on much happiness from many years ago!

tomorrow: we have another list of TEN!

joel and andrea’s excellent adventure

just in time for christmas, my cousin joel and andrea returned from australia. the purpose of their sojourn was so that andrea could attend teacher’s college. so, from february through december 2011, andrea and joel got to experience life as residents of australia’s sunshine coast.


it was so good to reconnect with andrea and joel at christmas-time!

christmas 2011 file photo: andrea and then joel are on the LEFT! (followed by my cousins alex, kate and fiance pete!

there is just never enough time to totally catch up – so, i asked andrea and joel if they would answer a series of six questions about their time in australia. in honour of the format of this year’s kikiproject, questions 1 through 6 involve 1 through 6 answers! enjoy!


1. what is ONE “life a-ha” realization that you had while in australia?

andrea: As a ‘go-go-go’ type of person, it was good for me to be immersed in a culture that embraced a slower-paced way of life.

joel: The idea that everything in life is open and you have the ability to control your path at all times. I found living abroad especially conducive to big thoughts like this. With everything around me being new, I found myself as optimistic and creative as ever. Exposing yourself to a host of new experiences though travel and living abroad is something that I would recommend to anyone!

2. please attach TWO photos and describe why you chose them and what is going on in the photo.
Photo #1: The first photo is with me and my surfboard on Alexandra Headland Beach, which was right in front of our apartment. The board was an Aussie version of a “Canadian Tire Special”. For months I thought it was in okay condition, and it was just my surfing skills that had plateaued. My thoughts changed when I tried another board that actually floated properly!
Photo #2: The second photo is of a kangaroo at the Australia Zoo. The University of the Sunshine Coast (where I worked for part of the year) was a protected area for kangaroos. On the paths between school buildings, whole families would just be hanging out under the trees. andrea:
Photo #1: In July (the middle of Australia’s winter), Joel and I rented a hippie van and took a road trip down the East Coast to Melbourne. The Sunshine Coast’s temperature doesn’t change drastically between seasons, and being the ignorant Canadians we are were, we didn’t realize how much colder it would be further south. As a result, while most people were wearing wool and down jackets, I was stuck making do with the warmest clothes I’d packed – an assortment of light cardigans and sundresses. Not ideal!

In an effort to save some money, Joel and I spent a number of nights parked in random parking lots and side streets rather than paying for campsites. This photo was taken in Canberra, the capital city of Australia at our favourite found ‘campsite’. It was also one of the coldest nights – I think it must have been hovering around 0*C that night!

Photo #2: The last big trip Joel and I took was by train to a relatively large Outback town called Longreach. This photo was taken by Joel from the train as we were rolling through one of the many Outback towns we passed through. I think it sums up the culture of the Outback nicely.


3. what are THREE australian terms/phrases that you learned? (and please translate for us!)

1.    ‘Sos’ (pronounced ‘saws’). Meaning: Sorry.
2.    ‘Have a squizz’. Meaning: Have a look.
3.    ‘Too easy’ The first time I heard this phrase was from a 7/11 cashier in response to my ‘thanks’ at the end of my transaction. Huh? “Too easy?” I later learned that it’s akin to saying “no worries” or “no problem”.
1. Fair Dinkum. Translation: truth or acknowledging that someone is speaking the truth.
2. Flat out like a lizard drinking. Translation: I’m busy.
3. Rock up. Translation: to turn up somewhere, to arrive
4. what are FOUR unique-to-australia foods or drinks that you tasted/tried, and what did you think of them?
1. Tim Tams. The classic Australian cookie. I fell in love with them… they were perfect for after dinner or sometimes for “afternoon tea” (snack at 3:00-4:00pm).
2. Cooper’s Pale Ale. This beer dominated a lot of my mental space while I was down there. It is bottle-fermented, so it had a nice flavourful fruity taste and full, cludy texture. Perfect to bring to the beach for sunset (a legal and socially acceptable manoeuvre there).
3. Goon. Wine in a box. Four litres was available for the low, low price of $10.
4. Meat Pies. A classic Aussie staple. It’s a small, round pastry packed with ground beef and potato. It’s a must-have item for any sporting event. Instead of hot dogs, people flock to the booths for meat pies.
1. ‘Aussie’ pizza. A favourite of Aussies, this pizza features an egg cooked either on top of pizza toppings or underneath. Surprisingly, it’s hard to even tell that the egg’s there; it just adds a bit of moisture to the dry crust.
2. Vegemite. Vegemite is made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer manufacturing. Sound yummy? In my experience, this is best-enjoyed spread thinly on toast, on top of butter, not thickly directly onto toast. I learned that one the hard way.
3. Kangaroo. Once I got past the idea of eating the cute and cuddly creatures that populate my campus, I enjoyed kangaroo meat! Its texture is similar to beef, but it’s darker in colour and is more flavourful.
4. Capsicum (red bell pepper). Well, not technically a new food, but new name!
5. what are FIVE things that you missed from home while you were away?
1. Fast, cheap, reliable Internet! Internet in Australia is very expensive: about $150 for 10GB.
2. Cars driving on the other side of the road. Being a pedestrian is dangerous business when you’re used to looking one way for oncoming traffic!
3. The Fall! Seeing friends’ and family’s pictures of beautiful fall landscapes during Thanksgiving (another holiday Australians don’t recognize) made me realize how fortunate we Canadians are to have four distinct seasons.
4. Friends and family, of course.
5. Did I mention that we missed fast, reliable Internet?
1. Family and Friends. Especially during the holidays.
2. Low-priced, high speed internet. We were paying WAY too much for a mobile broadband internet plan. The worst part was that it was very unreliable and was dependent on online traffic and weather. Whenever I was Skyping with somebody and a cloud passed over the apartment, the call was dropped.
3. The build-up to Christmas. It just isn’t the same when it is 30 degrees and Santa’s in board shorts.
4. Tim Horton’s coffee. It’s a taste that grows on you…
5. Morty‘s wings. Maybe the best in the world?
6. let’s pretend that i have two weeks to spend in australia. what are SIX places that i have to visit/spend time at/go see?
First of all, you gotta rent a van or RV! The country is huge but is designed for road trips… Plus everybody, especially Aussies, do it for travel. Along the way, see:
1. Melbourne: The most classic and traditional of the Australian cities. It’s a city known to take advantage of it’s leisure time as everyone takes time out of their day to visit a cafe or bar. It’s a huge sport city too: probably home to some of the most passionate fans in the world.
2. Canberra: An unexpected choice – the capital of Australia is famous for being boring with a horrible city atmosphere. It was a city pre-planned by a urban designer in the early 1900’s so there is a lack of intimate feel. Everything is spacious and laid out. That being said, with low-expectations, it surprised as one of our favourite destinations.
3. The Gold Coast: Perfect Aussie beach on steroids. Popular sub-tropical holiday destination for Aussies. The huge, sandy beaches and the beach-front skyscrapers of Surfer’s Paradise are a sight to see.
4. Sydney: The Opera House is as awesome as you’d think it would be. You get amazing views just flying in and out of the city…
5. Whitehaven Beach: The most pure white sand and immaculate aqua waters I have ever seen. Located on the Whitsunday Islands, you have to take a boat cruise to go see it.
6. The Outback. Anything in the Outback. The space. The fields full of kangaroos and emus. The red soil. It’s everything you’d imagine. Just remember an extra jerry can of gas… it’s an empty, desolate place.
1. Melbourne: Melbourne (pronounced ‘Melbin’) was, by far, my favourite city in Australia. Melbourne is heavily influenced by its European origins. In contrast to the beach culture of the Sunshine Coast (where we lived), Melbourne’s café- and shop-lined streets create the feeling of being in Paris.
2. Cairns: Cairns (pronounced ‘Cans’) was the most northerly city we travelled to. Being the most northerly, it was the most tropical and home to many crocs and other dangerous creatures! We did not see any wild crocs, although, shortly after we returned to the Sunshine Coast, we saw on the news that a croc had been caught wandering the city streets. Apparently, not a very uncommon occurrence! http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/crocodile-caught-in-cairns-main-street/story-e6freoof-1226103197216
3. The Outback: Completely the opposite of everything that Cairns is, the Outback is dry, barren, desert and is largely inhabited. Fun to visit for a short time.
4. The Australian Zoo a.k.a. home of the Crocodile Hunter: If there’s one thing Aussies know how to do right, it’s how to treat their tourists. Joel and I had a wonderful day at The Australian Zoo: it was thoughtfully laid out, had plenty of washrooms and offered many informative shows. Despite living only 45 minutes away, we didn’t visit until shortly before we came home (the $50/each price of admission may have something to do with that!).

joel at the australian zoo

5. The Great Barrier Reef: The GBR stretches from Cairns to the Whitsunday Islands. We were fortunate enough to snorkel both in Cairns and the Whitsundays and although we didn’t spot any sharks or turtles, the underwater world was beautiful and fascinating. Definitely a highlight for us.
6. The Sunshine Coast: We are thrilled with our choice to live in the Sunshine Coast region. Located an hour north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast provides visitors with the typical Aussie experience: laid-back lifestyle (shoppers wearing togs (swimming suits) with no shoes in grocery stores is a common sighting), and year-round beautiful weather.
thanks so much, andrea and joel, for your intro to australian culture! what an amazing life chapter for you both. i think we need to go for coffee so i can pummel each of you with more questions and beg for more stories!
have you ever traveled to australia? me = no. and to be honest, i do not know if or when i will ever get there in this lifetime. we shall see!
interestingly enough, right now my friends duncan and jillian are back in australia (duncan’s home land) while jillian attends teacher’s college!

a day late and a book short

for the past couple of months, blog friend zo has participated in top ten tuesday.


on this weekday, bloggers are invited to list their favourite selections on a top ten book-related subject, hosted by the blog the broke and the bookish.

i love lists and i love books! i have come to anticipate with glee zo’s tuesday blog entries because it’s fun to see the topic of the week, and to peruse zo’s picks.

well, i no longer blog on tuesdays, so i’m off by a day! to play off the expression a day late and a dollar short, today i have for you: top ten tuesday nine wednesday.

according to the broke and the bookish blog, this week’s/yesterday’s category for the top ten list is:

top ten books i’d recommend to someone who doesn’t read x

(an example: if you adore classics, you could recommend ten classics for someone who typically does not read this genre).

[sidenote: there have been over 80 top ten lists proposed by the broke and the bookish, thus far! see the complete list here!].

initially, it was challenging to decide on my category. i pondered female protagonists, multi-generational family sagas, male writers who write in the first person voice but feature a woman as their lead character (ok, that one is way too wordy, and does anyone seriously avoid a book of that nature??)…in the end, i decided to go with:

the top ten books i’d recommend to someone who doesn’t read

canadian fiction published since the year 2000

ok! that’s still super-awkward! but we’ll work with it. to be solidly patriotic, canada has a lot of talented fiction writers. limiting my choices to just nine oeuvres is no easy task. but, let’s go!

[click on the title if you would like the link to amazon for more details].

1. good to a fault – marina endicott (2008) fabulous

2. a perfect night to go to china – david gilmour (2005) haunting and so sad

3. tempting faith dinapoli – lisa gabriele (2003) quirky, little-known coming-of-age tale that deserves recognition

4. late nights on air – elizabeth hay (2007) very enjoyable, great characters

5. the other side of the bridge – mary lawson (2006) memorable

6. the way the crow flies – ann-marie macdonald (2004) this is the #1 title on this list; phenomenal story

7. unless – carol shields (2002) you can never go wrong with a ms shields novel

8. a complicated kindness – miriam toews (2004) outstandingly quirky and endearing

9. clara callan – richard b wright (2002) you would never guess it was written by a man

as i was reviewing my coil-bound notebook where i log my reading (and rate the books on the **** [four star] system), i realized there are equally at least nine selections to warn you against picking up. red flag! red flag! if you find yourself handling one of the following titles of canadian fiction published since the year 2000, back away! with so many terrific options available, i cannot in good faith recommend these ten nine reads:

1. star – pamela anderson (2004) yes, that would be this pamela anderson


and she should stick to running on beaches. yikes!

2. oryx & crake – margaret atwood (2004) there are much better atwoods out there

3. the gum thief – douglas coupland (2008) i expected more from mr coupland, given his creative reputation

4. the book of negroes – laurence hill (2007) didn’t match the hype; saccharine

5. the fourth hand – john irving (2001) go read a prayer for owen meanie, instead

6. no great mischief – alistair macleod (2001) grey and depressing

7. the continuity girl – leah mclaren (2006) ms mclaren is one of my fave globe columnists; this is very badly done chic lit

8. alligator – lisa moore (2006) incomprehensible

9. the flying troutmans – miriam toews (2008) disjointed; stick with a complicated kindness

how familiar are you with canadian fiction writers? who have you read? i am right now in the middle of irma voth by miriam toews, and sadly, i cannot recommend this novel at all. irma is past quirky, heading right into messed up/weird. we have not connected. i am only persevering because i have read miriam toews’ other two novels.

any suggestions for me that would be **** (four star) reads of canadian fiction published since the year 2000?! i am eager to move on from irma!!!

a santa’s sack of ideas

on the eighteenth day of december...

every week, stephanie shares a “reader grab bag” of cool-i-o blog posts or articles that she has found online. being that it’s the christmas season and all, today we have a santas sack in lieu of a grab bag. yes, i am blatantly stealing sharing [you can’t write steal and christmas in the same sentence, it’s a rule] stephanie’s idea, and below, you will find reads that are worth your time. enjoy!


the perfect foods for health (for baby and you) – i just assumed that babies should eat rice cereal as their first solid food. in this post, on lisa’s blog, she proposes an alternative to that first food for baby. a fascinating read, even if you don’t have a baby.


destination marathons lure casual runners – from last saturday’s k-w record. i am starting to bounce around the idea of doing a running event in a warmer climate in winter, 2013. this article gives a few suggestions of races to consider. i like that stephen of dream travel is quoted – i have dealt with him, personally, and he was super helpful, efficient and informative. ahhh, a get-away from ontario’s cold…i gotta get planning!


my cousin joel’s account of his participation in a pharmaceutical drug trial…in australia, no less! part one, part two, and part three. joel and andrea just came home yesterday from australia – if you poke around further on joel’s blog, you’ll see he’s had quite the new experiences, himself, while living in the land down under!


feeling stressed out of your tree about christmas? read the post “we all know where this leads,” from stephanie, the yarn harlot. i won’t spoil it – just read it, and you will feel better.


sarah hampson, likely my favourite globe and mail writer, interviews regis, likely my favourite (ex)talk show host, in “what i learned from regis philbin.” i liked both the content and the style of this article.


clay baboons: this is stephanie’s (yes, the same stephanie as above) blog which is dedicated solely to her plasticine stories (which also appear on tuesdays on her regular blog (yes, the same link as above). so far, my favourite story is my first running injury (not what you may think) although they are all super funny and fantastically creative.


some children’s cereals have more sugar than a twinkie! click here to read a short news release, and here for the list of the top ten best and worst cereals. i am surprised that my beloved cap’n crunch is *only* number five! i’ve never had numbers 1-4 but based on what i know of the good cap’n, they must be sugar cubes dipped in sugar!


i found this clip in the paper version of last saturday’s globe and mail – it’s so short, i doubt it’s online:

graphic designer christopher rouleau has developed the perfect passive-aggressive solution to the perils of urban co-existence. the toronto etiquette project, a series of cards with printed suggestions of public behaviour modifications, are designed to be handed out to offending strangers. self-righteousness, with a smile! [can you imagine?? “um, excuse me miss, but your high decibel shrieking into your cell phone is offending me. (hand her a card). have a nice day!” not something i see myself trying!].


and lastly: sick of christmas music? play this song! loud!

what’s something neat and interesting that you’ve read this week? help me expand my mind!