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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: 2016-10-21T06:03:03.290-04:00


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 to leaving, I wasn't excited. I wasn't looking forward to leaving. I was already missing everyone back home. I booked my ticket and packed and came out of duty. I had committed and there was n[...]

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 the beach we took off our shoes (or in my case boots) and waded in the water. I imagined the waves lapping stained with the blood of the fallen and tried to imagine what it would have been l[...]

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 enough about classical music to be able to identify popular pieces by ear 71. Shop at the Mall of America 72. Visit all five great lakes73. Stay overnight in NYC 74. Go to Boston in[...]

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.[...]

One Word 2014


I love this idea. Ali Edwards defines the One Word challenge as follows:
A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow.
My word for 2013 was ADVENTURE and I lived that out to the fullest. Eleven countries, sixteen US states, two provinces, 49 beds. The year was full of adventure.

My word for 2014 is BALANCE. I actually chose it way back in July when I was still in France when adventure was still the operative word. For 2014 I am focusing on finding balance. Between work and fun. Between school and friends. Between church and life. Balance applies to a lot of areas of my life especially as I face more fourth year courses with their increased reading loads. There are two quotes that I have posted on my wall just above my desk that really define what I mean by balance.
Balance is not better time management but better boundary management. 
Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need from yourself.  
 Balancing time for myself with the demands of school, work, and life. It's a good goal.

Happy New Year everyone.

The Good and the Bad: Train Travelling to Barcelona


Such a weird day. The good was really good and the bad was just annoying.
Good: got to sleep in and didn't have to sweep for once. Had a relaxing morning finishing packing and cleaning my room before going down to the train station. It was sad to say good bye to the family I've been working for as well so that was good because it means I'll miss them.
Bad: I stopped at the MonoPrix for some snacks for the train. They were out of baguettes (?)
Good: I got a cart because I was hauling my bags with me and it was way easier to deal with them that way.
Good: The cart takes 1 euro, 2 euro and 50 cent pieces. That makes it easier.
Bad: I picked the LONGEST slowest moving line in history. And when it was my turn, the clerk decided she needed to replenish her change so I had to wait more.
Bad: When I went to return the cart the cart in front of mine didn't have a key so I lost my two euros because I didn't have time to find someone to retrieve it for me.. :( I hope it made someone's day.
Bad: A store I wanted to visit really badly was closed.
Good: Got on the right train.
Bad: Sat in the right seat in the wrong car and had to move.
Bad: Train was delayed for a half an hour due to technical difficulties.
Good: I realized I was listening to the French announcements and then getting confused when they repeated them in English "they already said tha...oh..."
Good: Even though the train was delayed I made my next two connections without issue.
Bad turned into Good: I was waiting for the Metro in Barcelona and a guy walked by me and gave me a strange look. I got really nervous but then he came back and explained that my backpack was open and asked if he could re-zip it for me.
Bad: I came out of the metro and I was utterly confused as to where I was in relation to where I needed to go. There was no one around that looked good to approach for directions (and my brain still can't decide which language to speak in so I get really tongue tied)
Good: I randomly picked a street (based off what I could remember about the stores on the same block as my hostel when I looked at Google Maps) and not only did I find a Starbucks (It's been over two months since I've had Starbucks, this is exciting) but my hostel was right across the street!
Good: The hostel is amazing! I'm in a room with twelve beds but they're all curtained so it's like a little fort and we each have a lockable cage on wheels under the bed for storage.
Good: I'm in Spain! And I'll be home in less than a week <3 p="">
That's funny, they actually come out equal. Bottom line is I'm in Barcelona safely. I'd say that's all good. 

Walkabout Year


A friend of mine referred to 2013 as my "Walkabout Year". That really helped to put my adventures into perspective. As I wind down my time in France and my prepare to return to Canada I find myself reflecting on the past eight months. What have I been doing all of this for? Is there a bigger purpose? Travel in itself is never wasted but what have I learned from this experience? I'm sure I won't really know the extent of it until I get back home into the environment where I am familiar and comfortable. There I'll see how much I've changed. I do know that I know now more than ever that world is a big place and there is so much to see. I also know that I am Canadian and no matter where I live, that is home. Georgia was wonderful and France is amazing but I'm ready to get back to the middle class rather socialistic society (free healthcare!) that I am used to.

I'm also very ready to get back to church on a regular basis. That has definitely been the biggest struggle for me yet I find that rather than pulling away from God and just living as I please I am even more determined to return to my church family and the encouragement that comes with attending service regularly. It has been good for me to realize that. As someone who was born to Christian parents and raised in church it's nice to confirm that I attend church for me, not just out of habit or because it's something I do but because it is truly my hearts desire to be there and be part of that community.

Another friend asked if I'll be "done with Europe" when my time here is over. I don't think I could ever be "done" with Europe. There's just too much to see. Too much to discover. In fact if all goes well I hope to be back here next summer but that remains to be seen. The bottom line is I've made friends here and connections and I certainly hope I'll be able to return.

But in the meantime I have memories and stories and a deep assurance that I am on the right path with my life. Wherever it takes me.

Ha! I'm editing this to add that about five minutes after I posted it my boss was lamenting the end of summer and said "But you are ready to go home right? Three months is enough?" I replied that yes I am very ready to go home but more so because it's been eight months total. Not just three. Three would be fine. Eight has been hard. 

Throwback Thursday: Random 80's stuff


I don't have specific pictures to go with these items but they were some of the things I identified with from the Original List.24. The simple thrill of the smell of your eraser collection.I still have most of mine in a box somewhere. Why I'm not sure. They're certainly not good for anything but they were so fun to get. I definitely recognize a few in this picture. 50. The smell of these things after wearing them all day.I honestly can't remember if I actually had jelly shoes or not but somehow I do remember that they stunk. Why they keep coming back in style I'll never understand.37. Your Le Clic camera — which, let’s face it, you only bought because it came in awesome colors.Yep! Mine was purple. It took a weird format of film too which was a pain because it was hard to find. I loved that camera. 22. The pure magic of the acid trip for kids that was Lisa Frank.LOVED Lisa Frank! I collected a lot of things. Erasers as mentioned above, bookmarks, and stickers. Lots of stickers. Lisa Frank stickers were some of my favourites.14. Using scrunchies as your favorite statement piece, and owning one in every color and print in existence.I may still have/use scrunchies...but I'm not fessing up here :P6. The importance of nailing the perfect sideways ponytail.Yes, the IMPORTANCE, was placing it just right so you didn't get a headache. My hair was so heavy though so even though I loved the look of a sideways ponytail, I rarely wore them. There. That's some more random 80s nostalgia for you. I have more posts with pictures of me coming in the future. Stay tuned :)[...]

My Cup Overfloweth


The other night I was laying in bed and I couldn't sleep because I was just so overwhelmed and excited about my amazing life. I have just over a week left here in France and my time here has been everything I didn't allow myself to hope it would be. Meaning it sounded amazing before I got here so I talked myself down so I wouldn't be disappointed but everything I was promised was exactly how it was, and more. Yes it's been hard work. Yes living in someone else's home in a different culture can be stressful. Yes the kids were a handful when they came but I loved it all. And most importantly my French is way better than when I arrived and THAT is what this is all about.

Sunday I'm planning on going to Barcelona for a few days (I really need to book my ticket but I'm blogging instead :P) Spain wasn't even part of my original travel plans but I really feel like I want to go there. I'm not sure why but I'm very much looking forward to it.

My flight back to Canada leaves from Amsterdam at 8am on August 31st so I'll be flying between Barcelona and Amsterdam on Friday. That means I'll have a few hours to kill in Amsterdam as well which will be nice. It's where I started this adventure and I'm looking forward to wrapping it up there.

And then when I get home, I am moving in with a friend of mine which is going to be amazing and school starts soon and I'm super excited for my classes and to see my friends and well yes. Life just rocks.

That night when I couldn't sleep I ended up taking my pillow outside and laying on the balcony and looking up at the stars. You can't see all that many here but it was enough to just sort of center and ground me. I tried to pray but really all I could say was "Thank you" Thank you for this amazing life and these wonderful opportunities and for blessing me with more than I could ever dream of. Thank you. Thank you for it all.

Throwback Thursday: Pen pals


50. The excitement of coming home to a letter (or tons of letters) from a penpal is still, to this day, unmatched.This is so, so, SO true. I received a letter the other day from someone in Georgia. I knew it was coming because she had asked for my address but it was still incredibly exciting to receive. Cards are amazing. I got a bunch of those for my birthday as well and many of them had particularly special about a letter written on stationery. As a child and young teen I had a few different pen pals. First and foremost were my cousins and my Grandma M but none of us wrote very often. My real pen pals were Leasa and Sharon. Leasa was first. Our families have known each other for years. As in before we were born. Our parents used to hang out together and know a LOT of the same people through church camps and other connections. We started writing when we were ten or eleven (so 1991 or 1992). I don't remember exactly but her family was in town and came to visit and we exchanged addresses. We wrote fairly steadily for the next ten years or so when email took over and life just became too busy. When I visited Ontario in both 2000 and 2004 I hung out with Leasa and actually stayed a few nights with her and her new husband David the second time.Last year when I was in BC after Seth's wedding I went digging in one of my boxes of stuff that is still at my parents and found the letters that Leasa sent me. When I got back to Ontario she and I sat down and read our letters out loud to each other. What a trip down memory lane. I read my letters and she read hers. We went in order by date. It was hilarious. My pre-teen self was incredibly stuck up. My letters were all about the books I was reading, what my brothers were up to and trying to figure out how old her siblings were (I asked for their ages three different times!) Her's were all about reciting her report cards (she was a fantastic student who generally scored in the high 90s) reporting on piano lessons and talking about family vacations. Some of it didn't make sense to read almost 20 years later (20!!!) and some we had to give back stories too but it was fascinating and really fun. When it was done we took back our received letters. Maybe we'll do it again in another ten years or so. My second regular pen pal was a friend of Leasa's. In fact Sharon dated Leasa's older brother for a few months. We started writing later. Maybe in grade 10 or 11? Those letters are full of a LOT of teen-aged angst. Grade 10, or when I was 15, was not a good year for me. Looking back I was probably depressed but at the same time I was a teenager and we all go through crappy times. Sharon (and Leasa) are originally from Saskatchewan but both moved to Ontario. Leasa with her family while she was in high school and Sharon in 1999 or 2000. Sharon asked me to move with her at that time. How different might my life have been if I had taken her up on that offer!!! I wasn't ready though. Before I finally got around to joining everyone in Ontario, Sharon had moved back to Saskatchewan. We stopped writing in the early 2000s and I really haven't spoken to her since. I know she's doing well though. Two of her sisters and her mother in law go to my church in Ontario so I get updates. Part of me would love to do the same thing with Sharon that I did with Leasa, sitting down and reading our letters. But at the same time I think it might be better if some of those letters never see th[...]

New Roommate


My potential roommate for September got a job in town which means we can start house hunting. I am SO excited to live with this girl. She's a French major/teacher and did an exchange to France a few years back so we can practice French with each other. She scrapbooks and knits and likes the same kinds of movies and music that I do. Plus we like doing a lot of the same things. I'm feeling really confident about this arrangement and am not concerned that living together will damage our friendship. Instead I think we'll become even closer and our place will be where all of our friends hang out. Plus it means I don't have to live with strangers anymore. Awesome news!Kerri and I met when I was in first year and she was in third. I didn't realize I had this picture until the other day. In fact if you had asked if she was there that day, I would have said no because I didn't remember or know her that well. Plus she left for France later that year so it was really in second year that we got to know each other. (and no, I can't remember the name of the other girl in this picture)This is us at the Campus Clubs end of year banquet in 2012.We have had lots of adventures together already. From the KW Oktoberfest Parade to picnics on Heather's living room floor because it was raining outside. The three of us (Heather, me and Kerri) are super close. Heather decided to live with a boy (:P) but I know she'll come visit lots. I'm stoked that our house can be the meeting point now. It was Heather's place but this is going to rock. And Erin's still around too. She's just finishing her fourth year (Kerri and Heather have graduated) but we're all still in Waterloo this fall. Woohoo!!![...]