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Mine to Discover

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind" - Dr. Seuss

Updated: 2018-03-22T17:42:04.777-04:00




I suffer from intense FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. I HATE hearing that people have been doing things without me. I get jealous and then depressed. It’s a weird cycle because while I love saying “yes” to everything, I also value my alone time. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling really left out and overlooked. But these past two weeks have been nuts. This has been my evening schedule:
Tuesday, March 13th – Lecture at a local historic site
Wednesday, March 14th - Church
Thursday, March 15th – Bacon Party (Girls game night with friends where we all brought bacon themed dishes)
Friday, March 16 & Saturday, March 17th – Crossing Borders Conference
Saturday, March 17th – Babysitting
Sunday, March 18th – Babysitting
Monday, March 19th – technically nothing scheduled but I had to study for a German test and I talked to my mom for about an hour
Tuesday, March 20th – Dinner with a friend and her new boyfriend
Wednesday, March 21st – German Club
Thursday, March 22nd – Book Club
Friday, March 23rd – Birthday Party
This isn’t particularly abnormal for me. I like being busy but I have to admit. I’m tired. I’ve scheduled some quality time with my couch for this weekend. I’m excited to see it again!

Lent 2018


So I finally figured out what I need to give up for Lent. I know it probably won’t come as a huge surprise here since my last half dozen posts have only dealt with three things (my bucket list, reading, and Lent) but I’ve decided to give up reading. Well, I’ve decided to give up starting new books. I frequently have a half a dozen books on the go and I read a LOT. I’ve decided that for what is left of Lent, I can only read the books I have scheduled for this month (two book club selections and my “March” selection) and finish the two books I have on the go – “February” by Lisa Moore and “Ben-Hur” which I’ve been reading since sometime last year. That’s still a good number of books but it’s way less than normal. I will be/have been replacing the time I would normally spend reading books with reading my bible and other spiritually edifying materials. I’m also going to try to stay off Goodreads and other websites where I obsess over the number of books I read. Wish me luck! It’s already weird to not be looking for the next book I can read but I think it will be good.

Why I won’t be doing Whole30 for Lent


I’m struggling with what to do for Lent this year and it starts on Wednesday! Last week (after much Pinterest surfing) I got it into my head that I might do the Whole30 eating plan but there are a few major barriers to that for me.

1. I’m not vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination but the truth is I don’t eat a lot of meat. Going on a food plan that emphasizes meat is just not a good fit for me.

2. One of the biggest factors that deters me from meat (aside from the ethical and health reasons to avoid it) is frankly the cost. Meat is *expensive*. I have said for years that I am an “economic vegetarian” and this is still true. I’ll grab a rositierre chicken once in a while but I just don’t eat a lot of meat. So that doesn’t really make sense.

3. Obviously if you ARE eating meat the emphasis is on good, organic, probably local, ethically raised meats…which brings me back to the cost issue. For me it’s just easier to avoid it entirely.

4. I get that Whole30 is an elimination diet so you’re basically eliminating everything except meat and veggies (and some fruit) but I’m just not mentally prepared to give up all grains. No bread? Okay, I can do that. But no oatmeal? Or Red River cereal, or rice? I don’t think so. I’ve never been a fad dieter anyway and while I definitely need to clean up my diet, I don’t think that cutting out healthy items is the way to go. Plus a lot of those items are quite inexpensive so we’re back to the budget issues.

Focusing on whole FOOD and clean eating is a much better fit. Emphasizing vegetables, reducing snacks and mindless eating. Now we’re talking. I don’t think there’s a name for that per se but that’s where I’m heading. I used to be really good about what I ate but I’ve definitely fallen off the wagon. Now seems like a good time to hop back on.

2018 Reading Goals


As stated in my previous post my goal for 2018 is to read 108 books total. That’s nine books per month which seems doable. Inspired by my friend Liz (LiteraryLizard) , I am putting some parameters on the books I read. First of all, no matter how many books I read, 25% of them need to be by Canadian authors. I was close to that last year with 23% written by Canadian authors. In addition, at least 25% need to be from my own bookshelf. I have accumulated a rather astounding number of books over the last few years, mostly from secondhand book sales and library sales. I estimate I have around 60 books on my shelves that I have yet to read so that gives me a good selection to choose from.

I am also doing another 52 Week Reading Challenge. I found this one on Pinterest and like last year, I expect it will help me stretch my genres.

I am part of two book clubs so that will account for another 24 books that are chosen for me.

In addition, I thought it would be fun to, every month, read a book that has that month’s name in the title. It doesn’t have to necessarily be in relation to that month, but it could be. For example, for January I am reading “Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission" by Bret Baier. For February, I’ve had “February” by Lisa Moore, on my “to-read” list for quite a while. For March, I’m looking forward to reading Geraldine Brooks’ “March” about the patriarch of the March clan featured in Little Women. I’m open to suggestions for the other months. October will likely be something regarding the October Crisis but I don’t have anything for the other months yet.

Lastly, an ongoing goal is to read one book that substantially takes place in the ten provinces and three territories of Canada and each of the fifty American states. I started tracking those books in 2017 and I will continue to do so in 2018.

So, to recap:
108 Books in 2018
25% Canadian
25% from my bookshelf
52 Week Reading Challenge
24 Book Club selections
12 months
50 States (ongoing)
13 Provinces & Territories (ongoing)

Unlike Liz, my challenges will overlap. For example, if I read a book from my bookshelf by a Canadian author that fits into the 52 Week Reading Challenge AND satisfies the location requirement, then I can count it on all four lists as well as towards my annual goal. However, each book can only count for each list once. It will be less complicated than it sounds and I’m the one who has to track it anyway. I’ll try and report back on my reading but you can always follow my progress on Goodreads!

2017 Reading Challenge: A Review


I have always been what one might call a “voracious” reader. I was one of three students in grade six who won a contest for reading the most books. Every summer the local library hosted a summer reading challenge and I was always diligent about recording the books I read. Once I started university, my reading for pleasure took a back seat. I even went through a period as a second year history student where I wouldn’t read fiction. I just wasn’t interested in people’s made up worlds where people may or may not survive or fall in love or whatever, all at the author’s whim. During the summers of 2013 and 2014 I was in France and my reading options were limited…mostly because I hadn’t discovered the versatility of borrowing e-books through the library. In 2015 I went on a cruise and in one week I read five books. Once I finished my masters degree in 2016 I started really reading for pleasure again. At some point I started a Goodreads account and in the Fall of 2016 I started tracking my reading more closely. In January 2017 a friend of mine shared a 52 week reading challenge. I knew I already was reading a fairly wide variety of books but I figured this would be a good way to challenge myself to read genres I generally avoided (aka fantasy). I tracked my reading both on Goodreads and in a bullet journal. By the end of 2017 I had completed the challenge. My total for the year was a whopping 117 books read. I was reading right up to the afternoon of New Year’s Eve which was a bit stressful so I’ve reduced my 2018 target down to 108. That’s still over two a week, basically nine a month. Very doable, assuming I maintain the pace of last year. I also have a new 52 week challenge. I’ll cover that in a separate post. Right now I want to review what I read last year. Of the 117 books I read 38 via audio and one as it was released via podcast. Two of those I started the paper version and ended with the audio. The rest were either hard copy or e-book. So that’s 32% done via audio. I have a forty minute commute each way to work so that really helped pass the time. Here's just a few of the books I read. You can see the complete list on my Goodreads account. Some thoughts on the books I read:My Top Five of 2017All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Light Between the OceansThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel WilkersonThe Eye of the Needle – Ken FollettLongbourn – Jo BakerWorst book: “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond (so boring)Read in one day: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John GreenBooks that should only be listened to on audio: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor NoahYes, Chef by Marcus SamuelssonBooks I read only because of their titleBadass Librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world’s most precious manuscripts by Joshua Hammer What I was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin NewmanBook everyone should read: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson [...]

Lent 2017: Time to get off the interwebs


I first participated in Lent in 2014. It is not a tradition I was raised with but I think the exercise can be incredibly beneficial when applied correctly. That first year I gave up cheese. It’s no secret that cheese is hands down my favourite food and I like nothing more than some good quality unique cheeses. I did have a caveat and it was that if I was offered free pizza, then I could consume cheese during the 40 days of Lent. That happened twice. I also accidently had it on some salad and once some friends brought a selection of cheese specifically for me to try and I didn’t feel right refusing. I think it’s telling that three years later I can still detail the few times I made exceptions to my goal in that first year. That summer I was in France, the land of 360 cheeses, and I told my boss about my Lenten observations. His response? “Wow! C’est un vrai puisement!” And then we proceeded to may up for my six weeks of cheese-less-ness with two months of amazing cheese.

In 2015 I swore off candy. This included all wrapped candy and chocolate bars and even more significantly, I stopped playing Candy Crush. I don’t really think of myself as a big candy eater but I was amazed at how prevalent it was. I remember that just after Lent started it was Chinese New Year. I worked in the International office at the time and I couldn’t sample all the interesting Chinese candies because of my pledge.

In 2016 I quietly stopped eating potato chips. I say quietly because I never bothered to blog about it and I really didn’t talk about it. Plus people don’t know just how many chips I eat. They’re my go-to stress food, comfort food, reward food. Really everything. I did get through the six weeks without having any though so that was a pretty big deal.

Onto 2017.

I’ve debated for awhile about trying to reduce the time I spend online. It’s hard because Facebook and Instagram are the primary way I stay in touch with friends and family all around the world. Still I know I spend way too much time idly scrolling through a feed that I’ve already been through. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or serendipity that I’m moving into a new home the day Lent starts. In any case it’s a time for new beginnings and for building new habit patterns. Having a place of my own means increased expenses as well and I’ve decided that one expense I don’t need is internet. It’s not to say I won’t be online. I still have data on my phone but I have a pretty small package so I won’t be able to idly scroll through my feeds or check for updates every five seconds. It also means that my newly refound candy crush obsession has to go on hold again. I’m hoping all this new found time will result in a new focus and clarity. Instead of reaching for my phone every time I get the urge to go online, I’ll reach for a book, or better yet my bible. Or I’ll go for a walk. Wish me luck! Detox starts tomorrow!

Trucs a Faire


So I realize I haven't posted in this blog for almost a year and I haven't updated my "Trucs a Faire" in two years but I think it's time. I still refer to it and with the new year coming now is a good time to take stock of how far I have come.So to recap, on February 13, 2006 I posted my list of "Things To Do Before I Die". After watching the movie "Up" multiple times in the summer of 2014 I renamed my list "Trucs a Faire" which is just French for Things to Do. It seems redundant to say "before I die". Obviously I can't do them once I'm dead :P anyway, The bolded items have been accomplished. The orange ones since the last time I published the complete list which was in January 2014.97 (and counting) Trucs a Faire 1. Fly first class 2. Live on my own in my own place 3. Eat at Sonic 4. Live in another country...or at least another province 5. Host dinner party for at least 86. Visit an art gallery 7. Go to Texas 8. Ride in a hot air balloon9. Fly in a small aircraft10. Visit a planetarium11. Take a winery tour12. Do high tea somewhere13. Attend Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade14. See a drive in movie 15. Get room service and have breakfast in bed at a nice hotel (I've done room service, but not for breakfast)16. Play blackjack at a casino (I’ve played slots but not blackjack yet)17. Make homemade ice cream18. Try ten new foods19. Go sailing20. Ride in a limo21. Be debt free22. Go horse back riding on the wide open plains23. Sleep under the stars (without a tent)24. Fly in a 74725. Collect all 50 US state quarters (only 3 to go!)26. Attend my ten year high school reunion 27. Visit Australia28. Visit Great Britain 29. Get a cat30. Take a cruise 31. Work an election 32. Watch all moves on AFI top 100 list33. Be in Ottawa for Canada Day 34. Draft a will35. Spend one weekend totally unplugged. No TV, No Computer, No Phone 36. Visit the Maritimes 37. Tour the US Eastern seaboard 38. Pour water from the Atlantic ocean into the Pacific (still carrying around the water I collected at Peggy's Cove)39. Fast for 24 hours40. Be in audience of a game show or talk show and/or try out for a game show or reality show41. Learn to cook 42. Cook a turkey43. Play with a hand bell choir44. Complete 25 different crossword puzzles45. Take a Self Defence Class46. Fire a gun 47. Host a fondue48. Take real swimming lessons (learn proper back stoke, kick turn)  49. Leave to drive a stick shift50. Try yoga51. Take a cake decorating class52. Visit Nashville 53. Go parachuting54. Take a refresher First Aid course55. Sell something on Ebay56. Try snowboarding57. Try Golf 58. Watch the Yankees/Mariners play ball 59. Drink tequila in Tijuana60. Go to Disney Land/World61. Get a bikini wax62. Buy a new condo (or house) (or town house)63. Go white water rafting 64. Climb Mt. Cheam65. Have a baby (or two, or three)66. Read through the entire bible 67. Stay at a bed and breakfast 68. Go to Las Vegas 69. Go to Paris in the spring time70. Learn enough about classical music to be able to identify popular pieces by ear71. Shop at the Mall of America72. Visit all five great lakes 73. Stay overnight in NYC 74. Go to Boston in the fall 75. Stay overnight at a Casino76. Visit the San Diego Zoo77. Visit Sea World78. Take a full two weeks off at a time 79. Go on a blind date80. See a live horse race and place a bet81. Visit the Grand Canyon 82. Take a trip by train (aka travel somewhere on Amtrak) 83. Do the Vancouver Sun Run 84. Go to midnight mass 85. Attend Sunrise Easter Service 86. Go skinny dipping87. Visit all 10 Provincial Legislature Buildings. (9 down 1 to go)88. Buy cowboy boots89. Go to the Olympics 90. Fly in a helicopter91. Go to a NASCAR race92. Get married93. Participate in a team sport for a season94. Sing a solo [...]

A Confession


So I have a confession. After two months (ish) of “Vegan Mondays” I’ve had a revelation. I don’t care. I don’t care enough to be vegan. There. I’ve said it. I do think animals are made to be eaten. I do think meet is yummy. Heck I even think responsible hunting and fishing is an okay practice and would do it myself if given the chance. What I do care about is industrial farming and other non-sustainable food practices. I also care about the fact that meat is so expensive and that many animal products aren’t particularly healthy but I don’t care enough to stop eating them totally. I think being vegan, or at least vegetarian is great and if it’s for you, all the power to you. I think we can ALL benefit by eating LESS meat but I just don’t see myself not eating any animal products at all. I recently found a post talking about having a “plant based” diet. THAT is me. Plants, grains, legumes, those are the bulk of what I eat. I still like reading about veganism and trying vegan and vegetarian recipes but avoiding all animal products just isn’t for me. I’m still planning on observing Vegan Monday’s at least to some extent. I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t necessarily be militant about it. I have found that I’ve not been doing well with prioritizing blogging about my meals but for the most part I have stayed vegan on Mondays and I will continue that. But I’m also not going to stress if I decide to have something “not approved.” So there’s my confession. Plant based, but not vegan.

Vegan Monday: 1/52


I have a dozen other ideas for blog posts but somehow this is the only thing I'm staying on top of. Hopefully I'll get to the other ones soon.

Verdict for today: planning is everything, and this is getting easier.

Turkish Coffee - black
I almost slipped up and made regular coffee but I remembered before it was too late
Toast with peanut butter and jam

Homemade Butternut Squash soup
I actually made this last week but ended up not eating it so I froze it for today. It was literally roasted squash, a carrot, some onion, garlic, a dash of olive oil and water. Not as spectacular as when I make it with my homemade chicken stock but still warm and filling. One of these days I will make vegetable stock so I have it on hand.

Pom Tango tea from DavidsTea
Hard cinnamon candies
The snacking is definitely the hardest. Especially after Christmas. I have a ton of junk food left over but most of it has milk chocolate or other milk products so I can't eat it. Soon that will all be cleared out and I can really get on track.

Green Onion Cakes
My friend Amanda posted about these last week and I've been looking forward to them for days. They're pretty easy and just something fun to try. I halved the recipe and still have a bunch for breakfast tomorrow. This counts as my "one new thing" too since it was a new recipe!
Salad: greens, yellow pepper, tomatoes, green onions, black beans, navy beans and balsamic vinegar as a dressing.

Vegan Monday: Take two


Being prepared is key. Knowing this was coming made it much easier to plan for and get mentally prepared for. Because I am only doing this one day a week at this point it's just a matter of deciding what I eat today and what I eat tomorrow. Decisions I make all the time, but now with a bit more structure.

Red River Cereal with maple syrup straight off a farm in Waterloo
a naval orange
Turkish coffee - black
I mentioned before that not having milk in my coffee is likely going to be one of the hardest parts of this challenge. However, I received some Turkish coffee from a friend who visits Turkey often so I just planned to drink this instead since it is intended to be drunk black. I'm still working on learning how to make it properly but it definitely gave me the kick I needed!

Two Barley, Wild Rice & Cranberry in a White Tea & Honey Dressing
Leftovers from a last minute purchase for a potluck I attended yesterday. I realize most Vegans don't approve of eating honey but I I figured that was one concession I was willing to make.
1/2 an avacado
a handful of Triscuits
a pickle

Popcorn made with grape seed oil
Brazillionaire black tea from DavidsTea as well as Organic White Tea
In-shell Sunflower seeds

Roasted Veggies using this recipe
Except I used butternut squash, carrots, mushrooms, onions and a few grape tomatoes. Gotta use what's in the fridge!
Vegan Potato Pancakes

So today the vegan thing went really well! I already have some recipes lined up for next week and I also found a restaurant within walking distance of my house. Maybe I'll check it out one of these weeks. Tomorrow though? It's all about the cheese ;)

ETA: I'm aware that aside from the salad at lunch there was a pretty distinct lack of protein in my diet today. That's largely because I wasn't home and able to prepare the dried beans I like to use. I'll definitely focus on remedying that next week.

Vegan Mondays?


I go back and forth on the idea of vegetarianism. I think there are some good reasons to embrace that kind of lifestyle but I like meat. I don't eat a LOT of meat, I am a student after all and meat is expensive. I was reading the (now defunct) blog God, I Love Paris because I read her book this summer and really enjoyed it. She has dabbled in Vegan Mondays and I'm wondering if this might not be something good to try. Vegetarian or Meatless Monday's really isn't an issue. I used to joke that I was more likely to have a "Meaty Monday" because it seemed like it was the one day I'd actually eat meat. But vegan? Once a week? It's worth a try. If only to be more mindful of what I'm actually eating. What I like about Amy's approach is she doesn't beat herself up if she does slip up. She just notes it and moves on. So, if I was to try and implement this for the new year, that gives me two Monday's to practice. Today and next week. Neither are really ideal since I'm going away over Christmas so I'm frantically trying to eat up the leftovers in my fridge, many of which contain meat or meat products, but in the spirit of Amy, I'll just list things and move on. So here's what I've had to eat so far today with the "non-conforming" items bolded:

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa (actually vegan since I didn't eat it with yogurt)
Coffee with 2% milk (this will be hands down the hardest switch.)

Brown Rice California Rolls from Trader Joe's (this was kind of a snack while I was shopping in the US and then I had actual lunch when I got home an hour later)
Quinoa Bean Salad (quinoa, black beans, navy beans, yellow peppers, tomatoes and avocado)
Buffalo Chicken Roll-ups (leftovers: chicken, cream cheese and hot sauce in Pillsbury crescent rolls because I saw something similar on Pinterest and the crescents were on sale)
Christmas Cookies (butter and eggs)

Chocolate Chai tea (I'm thinking chocolate disqualifies it?)

Roast chicken (leftovers)
Roasted potatoes
Steamed Carrots
Steamed Brussel Sprouts
Dill Pickles
Cranberry Jelly

So essentially none of my meals were meat/dairy free but I could definitely do it. We'll see how next week goes.

Happy Easter!


Lent seems like it's the longest period of time ever and then suddenly, it's over! This was only my second time participating and it went way better than last year. Let's review what I committed to:
So this year I'm doing candy. All small wrapped hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars, you name it, I'm not eating it. Just cutting out very identifiable sugary sweets. 

And I did! Did I give up sugar entirley? Not by a long shot. I still had dessert every night on the cruise and I still baked at home but I didn't eat ANY hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars etc. Candy is EVERYWHERE and it was good to be aware of it. It was actually a lot easier to pass up than I thought it would be and a lot easier to avoid than cheese was last year.

I think my biggest accomplishment was giving up Candy Crush. I deleted it off my phone and never looked back. The withdrawl from that was HARD. I ended up surfing Pinterest a lot more than usual initially but after awhile even that went back to normal. I will allow myself to eat candy again but I won't be re-downloading Candy Crush so that's a big accomplishment.

I did start using Instagram a lot more but it's because I was participating in the's 2015 Lent photo-a-day-words challenge which I have found to be deeply rewarding.

Lent is supposed to be a period of reflection on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and on Easter we celebrate the sweetness of his resurrection. As I re-introduce (limited amounts of) candy, I will savour that sweetness and be reminded of the joy that only he brings.

Happy Easter everyone.

Lent 2015: The one where I give up candy


Hello blog world. I'm fairly sure this is the longest I've gone without blogging but hey, summer is coming right? Anyway, just thought I'd check in and record my plans for Lent this year. I never really followed up on last year but the bottom line is, it went well. After the first slip up I willingly had cheese just a handful of more times. Twice on pizza I got for free (which was a rule I set before I started. As a student I don't refuse free pizza and I got it twice last year during Lent. I wasn't about to pick off the cheese either so I just ate it.) Another time friends of mine who own a deli brought a bunch of different cheeses for me to try and obviously I couldn't say no. So yeah, cheese a handful of times in six weeks is way better than all the time like normal. Of course I made up for it in France ;)

So this year I'm doing candy. All small wrapped hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars, you name it, I'm not eating it. I developed a nasty chocolate addiction last year and I need to kick it. Late last year I was toying with the idea of giving up sugar entirely but that turned out to be WAY harder than I thought it would be so I'm starting small. Just cutting out very identifiable sugary sweets. 

Here's the hard part though. I also have a horrible addiction to Candy Crush. The game on your phone? I only have a handful of games downloaded including that, Candy Crush Saga and Words With Friends. Well I'm not giving up WWF but I DID delete both Candy Crush and Candy Crush Saga from my phone. That's a big deal because I'm on something like level 406 in CC and it's going to be weird to not have it to zone out with. That's the thing though. It's like candy. I'm very mindless when it comes to eating candy or playing the game and being more mindful is what this is all about. 

I'm going to replace the desire to play Candy Crush with reading scripture and the desire to eat candy with praying. I know that sounds pious but isn't that what Lent is all about? I've been doing a lot more of this anyway so it shouldn't be too terribly difficult but getting rid of those two candy addictions in my life will force a reminder to keep my mind on what is most important. Wish me luck!

Three Three


All day I've been trying to figure out how to capture what it means to be thirty three. I feel like it's not much different than turning eight, or thirteen or any other age. With a summer birthday I was often at my grandparents house in Edmonton for my big day. I remember waking up on those hot summer days, stretching and then remembering BAM! It's my birthday. I'd lay there for a bit and wonder if I felt any different. Any older. Not really. Then I'd get up and look in the big round mirror. I didn't look any different than yesterday either. So then I'd shuffle out to the kitchen and the only thing that made the day different was that Grandma would give me a big happy birthday hug and each person, as they woke and found their way to the butter yellow kitchen, would add their good wishes and hugs. 

That's pretty much the same as today. It as just another day. I swept in the morning, did some dusting, and let a parade of repair people through the gates. And periodically throughout the day I'd check Facebook where I always had a host of new birthday wishes waiting. They're coming in from all over the world and in multiple languages. That is how I know I am loved. The fact that these people took a few seconds out of their day to send me some good wishes. I appreciate each and every one. 

I don't feel any different today. Yes 33 is closer to 35 which sounds closer to 40 but this next year is going to be exciting. I'll be graduating in June and starting, as Meredith and I decided "the third half of my life." More chapters in this book of life. Bring it on. 

#32 Watch all the movies on the AFI Top 100 list


The American Film Institute has published a number of Top 100 Lists. #32 on my list of Trucs a Faire is to watch all of the ones on the "100 Years...100 Films" list. That's the original list and even though it was published in 1998 and there has since been updates, that's the one I'm going with because it's the one I was referring to when I started my list in 2006. I don't watch a lot of movies in general and rarely during the school year so I tend to make the most progress on this list in the summer. I think I have a note somewhere on when I watched these movies but that doesn't matter so much. The point is, if they have an X beside them, I've seen them and some of them, like "The Sound of Music" I've watched multiple times. My most recent viewing was of "The African Queen" and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a pretty simple story but quite enjoyable. I'll try and remember to post updates of my progress from time to time. For now, as of July 28, 2014 I've watched 43/100 movies on this list.# MOVIE YEARX 1 CITIZEN KANE 1941X 2 CASABLANCA 1942X 3 THE GODFATHER 1972X 4 GONE WITH THE WIND 1939X 5 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962X 6 THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939X 7 THE GRADUATE 1967X 8 ON THE WATERFRONT 1954X 9 SCHINDLER'S LIST 1993X 10 SINGIN' IN THE RAIN 1952X 11 IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE 1946X 12 SUNSET BLVD. 1950X 13 THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 195714 SOME LIKE IT HOT 1959X 15 STAR WARS 197716 ALL ABOUT EVE 1950X 17 THE AFRICAN QUEEN 195118 PSYCHO 196019 CHINATOWN 197420 ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST 197521 THE GRAPES OF WRATH 194022 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 196823 THE MALTESE FALCON 194124 RAGING BULL 1980X 25 E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL 198226 DR. STRANGELOVE 196427 BONNIE AND CLYDE 1967 28 APOCALYPSE NOW 197929 MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON 193930 THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE 194831 ANNIE HALL 197732 THE GODFATHER PART II 1974X 33 HIGH NOON 1952X 34 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 1962X 35 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT 193436 MIDNIGHT COWBOY 196937 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES 194638 DOUBLE INDEMNITY 194439 DOCTOR ZHIVAGO 1965X 40 NORTH BY NORTHWEST 195941 WEST SIDE STORY 196142 REAR WINDOW 195443 KING KONG 1933X 44 THE BIRTH OF A NATION 1915X 45 A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 195146 A CLOCKWORK ORANGE 197147 TAXI DRIVER 197648 JAWS 1975X 49 SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937X 50 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969X 51 THE PHILADELPHIA STORY 194052 FROM HERE TO ETERNITY 195353 AMADEUS 1984X 54 ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 1930X 55 THE SOUND OF MUSIC 196556 M*A*S*H 197057 THE THIRD MAN 1949X 58 FANTASIA 194059 REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE 1955X 60 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 198161 VERTIGO 1958X 62 TOOTSIE 198263 STAGECOACH 193964 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND 197765 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 199166 NETWORK 197667 THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE 1962X 68 AN AMERICAN IN PARIS 195169 SHANE 1953X 70 THE FRENCH CONNECTION 1971X 71 FORREST GUMP 1994X 72 BEN-HUR 1959X 73 WUTHERING HEIGHTS 193974 THE GOLD RUSH 1925X 75 DANCES WITH WOLVES 199076 CITY LIGHTS 193177 AMERICAN GRAFFITI 1973X 78 ROCKY 197679 THE DEER HUNTER 197880 THE WILD BUNCH 196981 MODERN TIMES 193682 GIANT 1956 X83 PLATOON 198684 FARGO 199685 DUCK SOUP 1933X 86 MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY 193587 FRANKENSTEIN 193188 EASY RIDER 196989 PATTON 197090 THE JAZZ SINGER 1927X 91 MY FAIR LADY 196492 A PLACE IN THE SUN 195193 THE APARTMENT 196094 GOODFELLAS 199095 PULP FICTION 199496 THE SEARCHERS 1956X 97 BRINGING UP BABY 193898 UNFORGIVEN 1992X 99 GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER 1967X 100 YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 1942[...]

Epiphany Island


I guess I haven't blogged about it yet but my first few weeks here in France were rough. They were rough last year but I blamed it on the fact that I had already been travelling for six weeks and had only spent one week of the past five plus months in Canada. I like France but the bottom line is, it's a foreign country and even though I understand and can communicate in the language, it's not my mother tongue so fully expressing myself is difficult. Also, my job is housework. I don't like housework at the best of times and even though I get to do it in a beautiful place, I still don't like it. So PMS and homesickness and missing Canada Day and the start of summer and the fact that my parents were on vacation so I couldn't just Skype with them whenever I wanted, resulted in me feeling very alone and unhappy for the first few weeks I was here. I reached out to a few people but the general consensus was "You're in France. You're not allowed to complain." Or feel any emotion other than ecstatic happiness apparently. That was frustrating in it's own way. Anyway, the third week I was here I went to Île Saint-Honorat on my day off. It's the smaller of the two Lérins Islands which are both just off the coast in the Bay of Cannes. I visited the larger one, Île Sainte-Marguerite, last year and this year I made it to Saint-Honorat. It was a crazy hot day and even though I stopped and bought lunch at the Monoprix and an extra bottle of water, I probably still could have had more liquids. The island has been home to monks since the fifth-century and they cultivate six types of grapes for wine and olives for oil. There are a number of small chapels dotted around it and the main church in the middle. I wandered around taking in the peacefulness of the place and generally avoiding all other humans because I wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone.I picked a spot overlooking the channel between Saint-Honorat and Saint-Marguerite for my picnic lunch. I also read a bit of the book I had with me and took a short nap under the trees. At some point during my time of reflection I realized something really simple. Something that everyone else probably realizes but something I needed to recognize as an attitude adjustment.I don't HAVE to do my work here in France.I GET to.That's it. That's my big epiphany. I know a lot of people are probably thinking...yeah so. What's the difference. Or, how did you not realize that before? But that's just the point. I didn't and once I did, it was like the clouds lifted and the sun shone through. I guess it's because this is my second time here (and by here I mean in France at this job). The first time everything was new and exciting. I was constantly learning and discovering and I was dazzled by the beauty of this corner of the world. This year the shine has worn off. The sparkle is gone and while I'm glad I came, the romance is lost and it just feels like hard work. Still, I realize I am extremely lucky to be able to do a job like this, not once but twice.I probably won't be back. Not to work anyway. And if I do it won't be next year. I need to spend a summer in Canada. I think deep down I maybe didn't want to come back this year. Or if I did my motives were wrong. I came back because it was easy. I mean I had the job given to me. Mine for the taking. All I had to do was say yes. That's way easier than applying for the jobs I want post graduation. Coming here was guaranteed. Plus it looks great. Not only to future employers, which was my rationale, but to my friends. And that's where my motive was wrong. I came because people were jealous that I get to be here and that's wrong. In the weeks leading up t[...]

Villa & Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild


(image) In June Meredith had a grad party. They watched the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It takes place on the French Riviera and she called and asked me if I had visited the town of "Beaumont-sur-Mer" last year while I was here. With a bit of Googling we realized that Beaumont-sur-Mer is a fictitious town created for the movie but that yes, I have either been to or passed through many of the places where the filming took place.

(image) When I arrived in France and actually had time, I watched the movie myself. I recognized a few of the locations and made a mental note to try and check out some of the other places. A few days later the family I work for announced they were going sightseeing and asked if I wanted to go with them. I took them up on the offer at the last minute and we headed towards Cap-Ferrat which I thought sounded vaguely familiar. I didn't know where we were going but since I was just along for the ride I didn't think very much of it. I figured it would be good to see the area and then maybe when I had a day off I could go explore the area on my own.

(image)  Well it turns out our destination was the Villa and Gardens of Ephrussi de Rothschild which was one of the specific filming locations for the movie!!! It's not the main house (that's a private villa according to Wikipedia) but it was still used in the movie. How cool.

The villa is gorgeous. Aside from the fascinating history and the dancing fountains that do a choreographed water show every twenty minutes, the gardens are gorgeous. It was a super hot day but we had fun exploring this beautiful spot together. I definitely understand why they used it in the movie.

#28 Visit Great Britain


(image) Number 28 on My List is "Visit Great Britain." I realize that, like with many of the things on this list, it's pretty vague and unspecific. Therefore, even though "Great Britain" has a lot more to explore than just London, I'm officially crossing it off my list. It's like learning French. It will be a life long pursuit. But, even though this was only my first visit to London, I managed to see quite a bit. I took a number of walking tours so I feel relatively familiar with the downtown area. I visited the Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The Monument,
and the National and Portrait Galleries. In general I liked the city. There's tons to see and you'd never be bored. However, I also found it extremely expensive and rather overwhelming. Plus I was annoyed with having to use the pound. I do want to go back and explore some more. Maybe it will be better next time when I know better what to expect.

Divided Identities: Reflections on D-Day


Juno Beach, Normandy, FranceA year ago today I was on the beaches of Normandy. Like many others before me I made the pilgrimage to site of the D-Day landings to see the area where so many soldiers lost their lives. For the Allies that was a day of victory. The day Hitler’s Atlantic Wall was breached and the push inland began. My friends and I were staying in Paris so we rented a car and drove to the coast. We had to be up before 5am in order to make it to the airport to pick up our rental car and make it out to Courseulles-sur-Mer, also known as Juno Beach, where the Canadian memorial ceremonies were taking place.Eric, Heidi, Heather, Caitlin and Brendan.We had spent the previous two weeks touring other First and Second World War battle sites, cemeteries and war memorials in the Netherlands, Belgium and the North of France. Flanders, Ypres, Passchendaele, Theipval, Beaumont-Hamel, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, the Scheldt Estuary, we had seen literally thousands of grave markers and hundreds of thousands of names engraved in monuments. We had even toured two German Cemeteries to give us the contrast of how the “other side” remembered. Throughout this time I was reminded of why I am proud to be Canadian. Why I wear a maple leaf and can proudly sing “God Save the Queen.” The Canadian contributions to these wars are undeniable even if my professors at Georgia Southern University had omitted any mention of it during my recent exchange. But under it all I was unsettled. Being Canadian, and being on this tour, meant embracing my British roots. It meant focusing on the “ready aye ready” aspect of my country’s response to the declarations of war and being ready to serve for God and King. It meant presenting a paper on the experience and sacrifice of my great-great-great uncle Edward Shannon Grant who was killed during the infamous last 100 Days of the Great War. It meant suppressing the other half of me. The German/Eastern European side that didn’t quite fit with the Allied view of how the events of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 had played out and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that so I just ignored it.Juno Beach Centre, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, FranceJune 6, 2013 was a cool clear day. Being the 69thanniversary there were a respectable number of visitors at the Juno Beach Centre. Veterans and dignitaries, tourists and locals, we all gathered together to remember. We arrived with plenty of time to secure a decent seat and seek out our Professor who was also there with another tour group. After the ceremony which was similar to the familiar November 11th Remembrance Day ceremonies back home, we toured the museum and then made our way down to the beach. We joined in the reception and visited a bit before heading out. Normandy American Cemetery and MemorialOur next stop was Omaha Beach where the American ceremony was just ending. The contrast between the two sites and the approach was striking. The American Cemetery is perched high on a cliff above the beach where as the Canadian centre is just steps away from the sand. The American Cemetery reminded me a lot of Washington, DC and even had a mini reflecting pool. The guide we talked to explained that for many French and other Europeans, this cemetery is the closest they will come to the United States and the goal of the design of the area was to give them both a feel for the American style of memorialization and to be a tribute to all of the fallen. A little bit of American on French soil for the soldiers that are buried there and for those that visit. Me on Omaha Beach, Normandy, FranceOn[...]

New Theory


As I get closer to my university graduation the big question on everyone's minds seems to be where I am going to live when I'm finished. They all want to know where I'm going to end up. I admit it's been frustrating me a lot. I don't KNOW. I have some ideas of the type of job I want to have but I'm lost as to where I should be. I like Ontario a lot but I don't feel like it's my forever home. BC will always be where I'm "from" and I know I would be welcomed back there any time with open arms but I don't really feel like it's where I need to be in the near future. I'm not sure where that leaves me and the idea of picking somewhere else to live hasn't been all that appealing lately either.

Recently I've realized something. I don't HAVE to decide. I don't have to live in one place. I can continue to be nomadic and live here and there for as long as I want. A few of the jobs I have in mind are shorter term opportunities which would entail moving a lot. I'm very much okay with this. I'm sure a lot of people aren't and won't be but I'm not living their life.

I had lunch today with a friend who is in the process of completing his Phd and starting to look at life after school. All he wants is a secure 9-5 job where he has guaranteed income on a bi-weekly basis. It was interesting to explain to him that I DON'T desire that. I had a secure job and I left it for this adventure. Financially it's probably not been the best decision I've ever made but I know it's been the right one for my mental stability and I honestly can say that I love my life and I'm ready to embrace the next adventure. Whether it makes people comfortable or not.

Lent update: first fail


Gah! I knew Sunday's would be a challenge. Most Sundays after church we have a potluck. It's wonderful to try different types of food but wow is it hard to avoid cheese! I accidentally took some Greek salad that had feta on it. I still ate it because it wasn't really that much but I was still annoyed with myself. I didn't even realize it until I was halfway down the buffet line when I almost took a slice of cheese. I caught myself on that and then realized I couldn't eat any of the lasagna, potato casseroles and a lot of other stuff. Still when I got my plate back to my table I looked at it and realized it was FULL of amazing goodness. Lots of veggies, a cabbage roll, and even meat. Avoiding cheese has to be a conscious decision but I sure don't feel like I was missing out on anything.

Afterwards I texted my friend Steph to admit my "transgression" and she asked if I was "still keeping it up" (meaning Lent). I replied that of course I was. A little slip doesn't mean I am going to quit entirely. It just makes me hyper vigilant for next time.

This is why Facebook is wonderful


I met someone, in a pub in Quebec, almost three years ago now. We had a brief but interesting chat mostly connecting over the fact that we were both from Waterloo. We friended each other on FB and have had superficial contact ever since. Tonight we actually got together for dinner and it was lovely. He's just as interesting as he was back then (probably more since he's been elected as president of the Student Union at his university) and it was great to catch up. Without FB, as with so many other people that were on the program with us, I'd still be wondering where he was at or would have forgotten about him all together. This way I was able to have a nice meal and share what's been going on in our lives. I know you don't necessarily want to stay connected with everyone you meet in life but sometimes, when they're good people, it's nice to not lose touch.

Lent 2014


So I've never participated in Lent. It's not something that my church observes but I find the practice quite fascinating. I have a lot of friends who observe it and I've decided that this year, I would like to as well. I haven't blogged in awhile so I'm going to share some of the things I'm already doing as lifestyle choices and then I'll share what I'm actually doing, just for the season of Lent. Since last April or so I have been reading Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" daily devotional. In the beginning I was journalling a bit each day which was a great way to really let the truths in that book sink in. Since getting back to Ontario/school, I find I don't have the time to journal so instead I've taken to keeping the book in the bathroom and reading it while I'm brushing my teeth. Probably not particularly spiritual but you know what? I do it every day and it's part of my routine now.A common Lenten (and New Years) commitment is to exercising and diet. In the past month I've already been exercising fairly regularly (using the treadmill at the gym and participating in an online 30 day fitness challenge via FB) and I will step up my efforts once the weather warms up. I'm consciously cutting down on sugar and flour just as a basic lifestyle choice because I don't NEED them. Protein and veggies are where it's at. Those are long term changes that I don't intend to just observe for forty days though. I'd like to actually give something up though. Something that feels like a sacrifice and that can be a reminder for WHY I am doing this. My choice this year is cheese. I love cheese. In fact cheese (all cheese) is my favourite food. France is one of my favourite countries because they have 360 types of cheese there!!! So, for the season of Lent I will not purchase any cheese. This is also a budget decision because I don't actually have any cheese in the fridge right now (really weird for me) and it's crazy expensive so I'm better off not buying it. I'll also make conscious decisions to not have dishes with cheese on them when I'm out (which means no poutine either...that's a good thing too :P) I'm not going off cheese for forever but it will be a good exercise. And when I get an urge to eat cheese I will seek out more information on learning about WHY we observe Lent.So that's my plan. Wish me luck![...]

Trucs a Faire


On February 13, 2006 I posted my list of "Things To Do Before I Die". After watching the movie "Up" multiple times this summer I'm renaming my list "Trucs a Faire" which is just French for Things to Do. It seems redundant to say "before I die". Obviously I can't do them once I'm dead :P anyway, The bolded items have been accomplished. The orange ones since the last time I published the complete list which was in January 2011.96 (and counting) Trucs a Faire1. Fly first class 2. Live on my own in my own place 3. Eat at Sonic 4. Live in another country...or at least another province 5. Host dinner party for at least 8 6. Visit an art gallery 7. Go to Texas 8. Ride in a hot air balloon 9. Fly in a small aircraft 10. Visit a planetarium 11. Take a winery tour 12. Do high tea somewhere 13. Attend Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 14. See a drive in movie 15. Get room service and have breakfast in bed at a nice hotel (I've done room service, but not for breakfast) 16. Play blackjack at a casino (I’ve played slots but not blackjack yet) 17. Make homemade ice cream 18. Try ten new foods (I have definitely accomplished this, multiple times. This is the first time I've crossed it off though)19. Go sailing 20. Ride in a limo 21. Be debt free 22. Go horse back riding on the wide open plains 23. Sleep under the stars (without a tent) 24. Fly in a 747 25. Collect all 50 US state quarters (only 3 to go!) 26. Attend my ten year high school reunion 27. Visit Australia 28. Visit Great Britain 29. Get a cat 30. Take a cruise 31. Work an election 32. Watch all moves on AFI top 100 list (I'll try to remember to post an update on this too. I'm making progress)33. Be in Ottawa for Canada Day 34. Draft a will 35. Spend one weekend totally unplugged. No TV, No Computer, No Phone 36. Visit the Maritimes 37. Tour the US Eastern seaboard 38. Pour water from the Atlantic ocean into the Pacific (I find it strange that this is FROM the Atlantic TO the Pacific. You'd think I'd have done this the other way around! - also this is ridiculous. I collected water in Nova Scotia in 2011 and I've carried it to BC with my twice but I haven't been to the ocean there yet!!!) 39. Fast for 24 hours 40. Be in audience of a game show or talk show and/or try out for a game show or reality show 41. Learn to cook 42. Cook a turkey 43. Play with a hand bell choir 44. Complete 25 different crossword puzzles 45. Take a Self Defence Class 46. Fire a gun 47. Host a fondue 48. Take real swimming lessons (learn proper back stoke, kick turn) 49. Leave to drive a stick shift 50. Try yoga 51. Take a cake decorating class 52. Visit Nashville 53. Go parachuting 54. Take a refresher First Aid course 55. Sell something on Ebay 56. Try snowboarding 57. Try Golf 58. Watch the Yankees/Mariners play ball 59. Drink tequila in Tijuana 60. Go to Disney Land/World 61. Get a bikini wax 62. Buy a new condo (or house) (or town house) 63. Go white water rafting 64. Climb Mt. Cheam 65. Have a baby (or two, or three) 66. Read through the entire bible 67. Stay at a bed and breakfast 68. Go to Las Vegas 69. Go to Paris in the spring time 70. Learn enou[...]

My List Update


Apparently I haven't posted an update on My List since halfway through 2011. I find that very strange. Anyway, this will be two parts, first I'm going to post about what I've accomplished this past year (or since 2011 I guess) and then I'll repost the whole list updated with what I need to still complete.1. Fly first classSo this technically happened this year but it's number one on my list so I'm really excited! LOL Flying back to Buffalo from Seattle. My flight, like thousands of others, was affected by a massive snow storm on the east coast. My connection from Philadelphia to Buffalo was cancelled so I rebooked onto a new flight that took me from Seattle to Charlotte and then caught a new connection to Buffalo. For the leg between Seattle and Charlotte, the longest part, I was given a first class seat!!! It's really nice and spacious. I slept pretty much the whole time and the seats didn't recline as much as I would have liked but it was still nice. I could definitely get used to that.4. Live in a different country...or at least a different province.I crossed this off the list when I moved to Ontario in 2010 but in 2013 I got to live in two different countries. The United States and France. Now it's fully achieved.37. Tour the US Eastern seaboardThis is another one that will always be under development but considering I visit St. Augustine, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and multiple points in between, I'm marking it complete.46. Fire a gunIt didn't have bullets but I'm sure a "real" gun will come in time. For now, this will have to do.69. Go to Paris in the spring timeSo Paris in the spring is rainy...but so beautiful. It's not too hot and it's great for walking. I fell in love with the city even though I totally didn't expect to.72. Visit all five great lakes.After camping at Lake Huron with Grace and Jess this is officially complete.82. Take a trip by trainWhen I wrote this list I never really believed that I would ever take a trip in Europe but it turned out that was the first place I took a trip by train. Multiple trips. Between countries. This picture is me travelling from Amsterdam to Paris. My first train trip!!!87. Visit all 10 Provincial Legislature Building (9 down, 1 to go)Only Newfoundland is left!!!97. Visit Melville's gravesite in OrtonaThis was never on my published list but I mentally added it shortly after I wrote the list. It's something I always wanted to do and this summer I accomplished it.[...]