My gift giving style: bits & pieces

When I was in grade seven, I went to another girl’s birthday party. It was at her house and I think she had a pool so that was probably the main event. We got through some kind of meal like hot dog and chips, cake, etc. then onto the gift opening. There were a lot of us there, more than any birthday party that other girls our age were throwing. I don’t remember the present I brought her or any of the others except for one. Her best friend (at the time – of course, bestie status is fluid in seventh grade) gave her a deep square box that rattled when she handled it. When she opened it up, it was filled with bits and pieces of grade school girl treasure: scented erasers, barrettes, bracelets, earrings, cute pens and pencils. It was a box full of baubles and trinkets the likes of which I’d only seen in one place before: my Christmas stockings. And my Christmas stockings were (and still are) my favourite of all the gifts I receive. I love how all the tiny little pieces fit together to make something bigger. I love that there are so many bits that combine to show thoughtfulness and care.

2017 Easter bucket-baskets

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to more thoroughly enjoy the act of giving and that includes creating these multi-layered gifts for the people I am close to. I jump at any excuse to contribute to someone’s Christmas stocking and I’ve started putting mini versions together and into baskets at Easter. A bunch of little things satisfy my giving and receiving joy perceptors more than single bigger (or smaller) things. (I could expand on how this theme presents itself in other areas of my life/preferences, but that’s ore for a therapist’s couch than a blog post…maybe. I like lots of things more than I like single things. So sue me.)

So, I’ve started to give bunches of small things by packing them into Christmas stockings and Easter baskets (or buckets, as you can see in the photos), but also gift bags, plant pots, fancy boxes, basically anything that can serve as a vessel for presents. I used a diaper bag at a girlfriend’s baby shower last year. It’s so much fun to give and (I find) it’s so much fun to get!

One challenge, however, is in being aware of your recipient’s preferences. For example, I have a number of people in my life (fiance, mother, brother’s girlfriend, friends) who are on the cleaner side of health conscious. Also, I am. It’s tempting to choose candy and junk food fillers to make up the gaps, but for them it just isn’t suitable and I don’t really like to promote that. (As you can see, I can never resist tucking at least a few treats in…)

Another big challenge can be managing the cost. Little items aren’t necessarily cheaper and especially not when you collect a bunch of them together. I always try to keep a target cost in mind through the process, but I’ve found that it’s been possible to keep the costs within budget.

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve been excited to come up with over the years. Self five. (Awwww. National High Five Day was April 20th. This is four days late.)

  • Fold-up reusable shopping bags
  • Lip balm
  • Hand cream
  • Travel sized toiletries
  • Aromatherapy rollers or blends
  • Single serving packs of almond butter, honey, etc.
  • Sport gels
  • Energy bars
  • Gum or mints
  • Travel packs of tissues
  • Packets of seeds (for gardeners and for beginners)
  • Gift cards (I like the seasonal ones from Starbucks)
  • Golf balls (only for the golfers in your life – I would hate you for this)

For bigger containers, here are a few of my go to additions:

  • Books – for reading or for writing or for colouring
  • Pens, pencils, markers or other writing utensils
  • Small piece of clothing – t-shirt, socks, scarf, gloves, hat
  • Photo frame (with sweet personal picture, of course)
  • Bottle of beer, wine, sparkling water

2016 Easter bucket-baskets

As I was writing this, I was reminded of a podcast I listened to yesterday afternoon. It was episode 113 of Happier with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft (my favourite) and one of the topics was Is Your Birthday Important to You? For me, the answer is yes. My birthday is important to me – I want to do something special that day, I do NOT want to work on that day and I want to spend it with people who are close to me. I do NOT, however, want to be wished a trillion happy birthdays from people who only remember my birthday because they saw a notification on Facebook. Nope. No, thanks. Without going too far into their discussions (listen here) I will say that they got to a point where they were talking about birthday parties and surprise birthday parties and they cautioned listeners to know their audience when planning the latter. Basically, a surprise birthday party is great for a person who likes surprise birthday parties, but there are plenty of people who would hate the idea of a surprise birthday party.

Why was I reminded of that this morning? Well, because I wondered if my gift giving concept above is something that I am so enthusiastic about because I love it. Am I not considering a broader audience of people who don’t want a bunch of useable things, but instead would prefer to be given a single, bigger gift.

What do you think? Do you like the gift bag idea that appeals to me? Or would receiving something like that drive you nuts? 

Somewhat on topic…

I’m super stoked to be a part of the Spring version of the Sweet Progress Box Swap put on by Dean at Mrs AOK and Ashley at Happy. Pretty. Sweet. It’s my first time participating in this swap, though it has been on my radar for a while. It has only just opened up to Canadians and, I believe I am the first. As you can guess, I love a good swap. (Laura and I have kept in touch ever since we were matched up on a foodie swap back in 2012!)

I’ve spent the morning putting the finishing touches on my swap package and having a great time doing so. I’ll take a trip out to the post office this afternoon and it will be on its way to my partner by the end of the day.

If you’d be interested in joining us, let me know! I’ll be sure to connect you with the group next time a swap comes up!

2017 Stanley Cup – round one – part two

Was last night a crazy hockey night or what?!? Four games, four overtimes. And all but one ended the way I wanted it to, but the one that didn’t was so tragic it was hard to be happy about all the others. I know. Woe is me.

I would happily torch this entire bracket to be wrong about a few things…

Yesterday, I shared my thoughts and feelings on the four NHL playoff match-ups that had already played game three in their best-of-seven first round series. Then I watched hockey all night long so that I could write about the remaining four series that caught up in their own series. Phew.

calgary flames vs anaheim ducks

Anaheim leads 3-0
Who I took: Calgary in 7

Let me start by acknowledging that, yes, I don’t know them off the ice and I would probably think they were perfectly fine if I met them in real life, but boy do I dislike the Ducks. Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Corey Perry and the man who is like sand in a bathing suit to me, Ryan Getzlaf to name just a few. The only Duck I actually like is Antoine Vermette, but that is probably just a hangover from his days in Arizona and will go away sometime very soon (and especially if their playoff run carries on the way it has started…) and John Gibson showed me a side that I actually didn’t mind. I know the CBC crew didn’t like his response to getting chased from the net, but I did.

Let me also say that I have zero tolerance for complaining about refereeing. I think it’s the cheapest and ugliest way to absolve responsibility for losing. Want to beat the referees? Put the puck in the net. If you consistently do that, THEY CAN’T STOP YOU. However, I have seen a few instances in this series when I thought the refs weren’t really living their best ref lives. And it went mostly in the favour of Anaheim. I’m just saying.

And I like the Flames. I really do. I have a soft spot for their young and talented, hard-working group. They seem to find a way to (sometimes) make wine out of water. Just not in the first couple of games of this series. Last night was a different story and they came out firing, but they just couldn’t keep up the pace. The Ducks caught them and then won in OT. I was pretty sad when I saw the post-game commentary because I was feeling pretty proud of this squad. They played their best hockey of the series so far and they came up short.

What I’ve loved: Really physical, bang and crash hockey.

Also, the Flames are saying all the right things.

“Just kind of live in the moment. Don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. Live for today. Any mentor I’ve had has said the same thing: You can’t control everything. So control what you can, come with a smile on your face and do what you’ve prepared your whole life for.” – Goaltender Brian Elliott

What I’ve not loved: The talk has counted the Flames out since day one. I can’t see this series going much longer and my prediction is still technically possible…

boston bruins VS ottawa senators

Ottawa leads 2-1
Who I took: 
Ottawa in 5

You want to talk about jerky fans? (Okay, maybe YOU don’t, but I did yesterday. Twice.) Bruins fans take the cake. It’s so easy to want them to lose when you listen to the people who want them to not lose. Vancouver is really sensitive about Boston because of the whole 2011 Stanley Cup series. That doesn’t apply to me as a non-Canuck fan, of course, but, boy, do I get it.

I’ve been trying to like Ottawa more. They’ve always been a club that, on paper, I should like. Then they traded for my favourite player. Then they started sitting him. It’s been a roller coaster. In the end, I just don’t really care that much. Other than the wanting the Bruins to lose.

But, let me profess that I like Brad Marchand.

Things I’ve loved: The Clarke MacArthur returns to the game storyline. Tears of joy.

Things I’ve not loved: My indifference to this series.

nashville predators VS chicago blackhawks

Nashville leads 3-0
Who I took: 
Chicago in 6

As you can see on my bracket up top. I expected Chicago to go (almost) all the way. But I support the hockey hero from my hometown (he’s from Port Moody, not Vancouver, thankyouverymuch) and that makes me a Preds semi-fan. I also like the Preds because I think their “Keep the Red Out” campaign from a few years ago is genius. Prompted by this exact playoff match-up, the Predators put a block on out of state credit cards purchasing tickets to their games at Bridgestone Arena. They wanted to Grow the Gold in their home arena and keep people traveling with the visiting team away. I love it. As someone who has seen visiting fans obnoxiously take over a host arena (I see you Leafs fans in Buffalo, Oilers fans in Arizona and pretty much every team that visits Vancouver’s fans) and hated it, I really liked their efforts. Have they worked? I’m not sure. (And my opinion will probably change when I one day try to catch a game there.)

I wasn’t the only person to predict that the Blackhawks would be there. In the weeks leading up to the playoffs, I heard people predict Chicago representing the west in the Stanley Cup more often than I heard any other team. Back in February, they and the Washington Capitals were the favourites.

The Predators shut the Blackhawks out in the first two games. In game three last night, they spotted them two goals and still came out on top in OT.

Things I’ve loved: The underdog story.

Things I’ve not loved: Almost no coverage for this series. I guess that’s what happens when five Canadian teams make the playoffs.

toronto maple leafs VS washington capitals

Toronto leads 2-1
Who I took: Pittsburgh in 7

All of my own feelings about hockey aside, THIS is the series of the season in our house. You see, if you weren’t already aware (and you clearly don’t know Kevin if that’s the case) I am engaged to  and live with a lifelong Maple Leafs fan. And if you weren’t already aware, it’s been a long road for Maple Leafs fans. I’m not a Leafs fan necessarily, but I do have a soft spot for them. (And I’m totally baffled by the west coast OBSESSION with them. Seriously, many Canuck fans are more preoccupied with disliking them than they are with liking their own non-playoff squad – sorry, had to. I can’t believe it took me this long!)

I would like to pause and say this: no matter what happens in this series, this season has been a huge success for these young Leafs. They weren’t even planning on making the playoffs, you guys. Getting there and getting two wins is a huge victory.

Toronto has won the last two games in sudden death OT and it has been incredibly exciting. And totally nerve-wracking. My usually calm and laid back partner has turned into a total stress case.

I was thinking that I don’t really have any feelings about the Capitals, but then I saw an intermission interview and remembered that I LOVE TJ OSHIE. My other feeling for the Capitals is that I hate all the hate they’re getting. Everyone is all, “Haha! Presidents’ Cup trophy winners can’t win in the playoffs AGAIN.” Which is lame. But Don Cherry has a point about Evgeny Kuznetsov. Maybe he’s got some karma to play through.

This series is far from over and could very well go to seven nail-biting games.

Things I’ve loved: The Leafs winning brings a very celebratory tone to our home. I like that.

Things I’ve not loved: Well, nothing really. Go Leafs go!

Some of these series will start wrapping up soon. When they do, I’ll be back with some thoughts on the second round.

What have you thought of round one so far? Is your bracket/prediction still intact?

Old, new, Easter & blue

On Friday, I discovered (rediscovered? I somehow have a feeling that this isn’t the first time I learned it…) that Easter isn’t a big deal in the USA. I mean, I’m sure it’s a big deal for some, but it isn’t a widely observed holiday like it is here in Canada. Here, it’s a holiday on Good Friday AND Easter Monday. For our neighbours to the south, nada. (Sorry for rubbing it in there on Friday, friends! I’d feel bad if you didn’t seem to prioritize holidays like the day after Thanksgiving instead…)

We had a little tea (actually coffee) party-esque Good Friday get together and that was a lot of fun. We bought an amazing loaf from Fratelli Italian Bakery (lemon and raspberry – two of my favourites, but taken to a whole new level!) and got out the good dishes (some – most! – of which had actually already been unpacked a put away) and welcomed our first visitors to the new place. We are far from finished unpacking and settling in,  but we’ve made enough progress that it was good timing. (Also, having just moved lends a certain amount of freedom to be messy that suits me perfectly.)

I was thrilled with this gathering – a lot because I enjoyed spending time with our guests, but also because it was the first significant coming together of something I’d been envisioning for a while. Last year, I started rounding up the vintage dishes that were circulating throughout the homes of family members on both sides. There were plenty in existence, but they were scattered throughout hutches and cupboards of my mom and my aunts. So, I started to ask around and it turned out that it was a common feeling that somebody wished someone would use the stuff, it just wasn’t going to be them.

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? We all get our hands on these pieces that used to belong to the people who came before us – whether they’re dishes or anything else – and then we just keep them someplace without ever putting them to use. This is, of course, a practice that is becoming more and more antiquated as time passes. We are in a time when people are certainly more motivated to minimize and only keep the things they use or, rather, to use all the things they keep. Like others, I’m working to get better at that. For now, it’s antique dishes. Next, I’m going to get my grandfather’s vintage typewriter refurbished. Yay!

But, back to the dishes. This party was the first time I actually put into practice what I have been dreaming of using old dishes with new accents to create an eclectic feeling when hosting others. This was the first time I remembered my first chance to execute my vision using my great grandmother’s dishes, my grandmother’s tea set and my own silverware plus a few modern pieces that I’ve collected myself. I was so happy!

Today, we spent the day mostly at home until we made a run downtown to pick up dessert for Easter dinner with my family.

I’m going to level with you here: I’m not that into desserts so asking me to be in charge of desserts is not the best idea. It’s probably the worst part of a meal to depend on me for. But we came through after picking up some minis (tiramisu, passionfruit & strawberry cheesecake, macaroon, lemon, salted caramel, london fog) from Trafiq Cafe and Bakery on Main Street.

I also picked up five of the most oddball ingredients – for me – at the grocery store to put together a recipe that is totally out of my wheelhouse, but one that is rich in family history. This was one of only a few things I have memories of my mom’s mom making and it hit my radar because my pal Laura over at Real Momma shared it on her Facebook page earlier in the day: Ambrosia Salad. Five ingredients (only one of them fresh), one action (mixing them all up), a final weird soupy marshmallow concoction that you’ll be forced to admit is delicious in spite of the fact that it is so very, very weird. (70s “cooking” at its finest…)

We aren’t a super conventional family when it comes to holiday meals, though barbecuing has become our own tradition in itself. Be it Christmas, birthdays – summer or winter, Easter and even Thanksgiving once, we light some charcoal and grill. Tonight was no different with beef, fish and plenty of veggies on the menu. If you get the chance to spend time together, does it really matter what you eat?

What are your family’s Easter traditions? What’s your go-to when you’re put in charge of desserts? What family heirlooms do you try to collect? Which ones do you avoid?

A little thing that is kind of big + my first chowdery

Oh. My. Word. I sat across from a woman using a new rose gold MacBook at Starbucks the other day. So compact. So pretty. I don’t often suffer from electronic envy, but whoa.

***

Yesterday was a pretty good, fun and definitely unhibernated day. We got up and ran some errands (with the move so recently behind us, it seems like we will never be short on errands to run!) then we got ready and headed downtown. We had family & friends in from back east and since we didn’t get it together enough to have overnight guests yet (the screws that hold the guest bed together have got to be around here somewhere…) they got a hotel room in the city instead. We were all heading to the hockey game, but en route to Rogers Arena, Kevin and I decided to take a detour and get something to eat before the game. I love my Maui Fire Veggie Dogs, but I knew they weren’t really jiving with my recent commitment to clean eating. Besides, a new chowder shop had opened up this year in Kevin’s work neighbourhood and he’s been wanting to try it for a while.

We took the four-ish block walk from Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station and found our quaint little Crab Park Chowdery close to the heart of Gastown. It is a cute little restaurant with a lovely warm glow. I opted for vegan chili while Kevin had the clam chowder in a bread bowl. I adore their presentation on wooden board complete with a logo and spoon holder. The chili was good and served with a few small slices of bread on the side. I snuck a taste of Kevin’s chowder, though just enough to determine that it has a unique flavour to it, though not enough to name it. He raved about it. (We only found out later that they have some scrumptious looking desserts. Probably a good thing.) We drank water, but they had craft sodas (including, of course, Dickie’s.) Find Crab Park Chowdery on Facebook or Instagram. Or in real life at 221 Abbott Street.

***

March was a big month for us. A big, long, life-changing month. Sure, we’re mostly over Nick proposing to Vanessa instead of Raven and we’ve managed to move onto bigger and mostly better things. In point form:

  1. We moved into our new place.
  2. We cancelled our wedding.

Point one: this place is bigger, brighter, prettier, higher up and a million times better, but you already know about that.

Point two: from the moment we got engaged, all anyone said was, “do what YOU want to do.” One day, a few weeks back, we reflected on what our wedding was becoming and asked ourselves, “is this what WE want?” and “IS this what we want?” The best we could answer was “sort of?” So, we scrapped it.

I’ve seen four distinct responses so far.

My family: “What? But we wanted to be at your wedding…”

His family: “That’s okay. We get it. Do what you gotta do.”

Others: “What??? I’m so sorry.” And then when I laugh about it, they look like they’re going to cry and then they eventually come around.

Amy: Totally, completely, 100% support in action. (I’m not really sure she even said a word.)

Honestly, we’re good with it. And someday I’ll probably tell you more.

For now, back to the drawing board…

Hibernation

I have just spent a week alone in my apartment in what is best described as total hibernation. It was incredible.

I know that saying that likely conjures an image of me laying in bed all day, watching soap operas or other crappy tv, eating junk food and just generally being lazy. It was actually the total opposite. Okay, I did get more than enough sleep – sleep was, in fact, one of my most focused goals of the week – but it was more closely aligned with circadian rhythm than a party all night, sleep all day kind of pattern.

My other big goal was re-righting my eating habits. We’d thought we’d hit the jackpot with a two week window for moving – and, mostly, we still feel that way – but, it did prolong some of the inevitable and more hairy parts of the . Most notably, that came in the food department. When I told Kevin that for the month of April we would only eat food we made at home, my statement was met with a resounding and enthusiastic “YESSSSSSSSSS.” We’d been relying on restaurant bought food to get us through a schedule of working our day jobs and our side hustles and moving and maintaining all the other parts of our lives and, man, it was getting old. So, I spent the week referencing and channelling Ella Woodward, Angela Liddon and Joy McCarthy because as much as my naturopath might recommend I do something different and as much as I might try to make her happy, vegan is my comfort zone and when I feel my best on the whole.

So, when I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I could and researching, preparing and eating whole, clean foods, I was, of course, tackling the move. The people who lived here before us weren’t what you’d call thorough when it came to cleaning up after themselves so that took some sorting out and, though that is not my forte (seriously!) I did it anyway. I had to sort out all new appliances and I made a conscious effort to take my time in setting everything up in our new space. I wanted to choose the perfect – or at least one of the better – places for our things and decide the most convenient spots to store everything. In our new apartment, we have the luxury of almost twice as much space as we’d grown used to and I wanted to take advantage of that as best we could. Being able to tackle all that at my own pace made it an almost enjoyable undertaking – it was even kind of meditative.

My hibernation (or how a serious introvert vacations): During the mornings, I took long luxurious baths while reading. During the days, I set up our new home with care. During the evenings, I wrote, then read more.

(In case you’re wondering where Kevin fit into all of this, he was away at a conference all week.)

I finally broke my hibernation when I met a friend to watch the Gonzaga game yesterday. And, then today, we woke up and it was like spring!

Here are a few of my favourite things from last week.

I started using this Turmeric Ginger Tea recipe every morning. It’s delicious either way, but I prefer it with a splash of almond milk.

Danielle LaPorte has a new book – White Hot Truth – coming out on May 16th, but I snuck into the Launch Team and got started early. This is a lot of what I read and reread all week. Check this link to download a free chapter, join the free White Hot Truth book club, pre-order the book (and then download the audio book TODAY when you do!) or check out some videos. Like this one.

After the new season of Grace and Frankie was made available on Netflix and my mom and I exchanged all caps text messages confirming that, I swore I wasn’t going to watch it all at once. So, I only watched the first nine out of thirteen episodes. So fantastic.

I read this post by Cait Flanders called A Home is Meant to Be Lived In, Not Looked At and I gave it an internal three cheers. We were moving at the same time and had commiserated about it a little in the thick of it. After the (literal) heavy lifting was done, I was excited to see she’d written about her experience. I’ve never been hung up on having a style of decor and I’ve never been apologetic about that, but it’s nice to hear for once that I’m not alone. It’s a great piece in which she tackles the idea of creating a home, how it is a work in progress and, along the same lines as the title, includes the tweetable, “Your home doesn’t need to be ready to have its picture taken.

So, I’m not going to share pictures of my new home. … But here is what I will share: stories about what happens in this home. The friends who come to visit. The things we do. The memories we make. And the adventures we go on, when we walk out and lock the door behind us. That is what life is all about.

I turned to sleep and clean eating to help me rest after the stress of moving. What do you do to find balance in times of turmoil? What have you read, eaten, made, drank, watched, loved lately?

Try this: listen to a podcast

Trying new things is a great way to feel an invigorating boost in life. Occasionally, on a Monday, I’ll be posting an idea for trying something new with the details on how and why I think you should do it, too. Consider it your mission should you choose to accept it. 😀

For a while now, I’ve been pretty in love with podcasts. Over at the last six months, they are all I’ve listened to on my phone. Music has been relegated to runs and runs only and that is probably only because I haven’t yet found a way to listen to podcasts while I do that, too. I listen to them in the office, while traveling, there are even a few that Kevin and I listen to together in the car.

March is #Trypod month, a campaign which encourages people to share their favourite podcasts and to get their non-podcast-listening friends subscribing as well.

A podcast is an episodic audio series that can address a specific topic or theme, a story or be based on personality of the host and/or guests. They can be fun, humourous, educational, thought-provoking or any combination of those things depending on what you like. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there so there has got to be a few you would be into.

Getting started couldn’t be easier. If you have a mobile device, it’s pretty likely that you have a podcast app at your fingertips. Just open it up, search the name of a podcast and subscribe. (Don’t have any leads? Look below or ask your friends.) You can also look back into the archives to listen to older episodes. I would recommend (from experience) that you download a number of episodes while connected to your home wifi and store them on your device. This will save you risking going over your data plan limitations if you’re streaming them on the go. Your podcast app can likely be set up to delete them once they have been played.

If you find the right podcasts, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. Here are a few that I listen to on the regular.

My favourite podcasts.

  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin & Elizabeth Craft. If I had to pick a favourite podcast, this one would be it. Rubin, the NYC authour of books like The Happiness Project and Better Than Before is joined by her sister, a TV writer in LA, Liz Craft. They talk about creating habits that help make for a happier life with tips and tricks for and from listeners as well as interesting guests who expand the topics to their areas of expertise. Some of my favourite episodes have been about picking a signature colour (episode 75) and picking a Happiness 911 song (episode 87 – more on that below.)
  • Radical Candor. This one is a doozy. This is the one podcast that I only feel comfortable listening to when I can give it my full focus. This is one I listen to alone and at a time when I’m in quiet surroundings. In fact, I want to devote my attention to it so deeply, I often listen to it with ear buds. Radical Candor – Care Personally and Challenge Directly. Episodes include: Ruinous Empathy and Praise, Ruinous Empathy and Criticism, How to Get Feedback from Your Boss, Make Meetings Less Awful, Radically Candid Criticism (<– this episode was my favourite so far.) This podcast is really, really impactful, but it’s a personal challenge at the same time.
  • Note to Self. Host Manoush Zomorodi tackles “essential quandaries for anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age.” Lots of talk about technology and modern living and the mixing of the two. I’m put off by information delivered at a level that is over my head and Note to Self is easily digested and applied to life. Recently, they launched The Privacy Paradox, a project to help listeners/participants better understand how they control their personal information. I was only able to go through a few of the exercises (the others are still waiting in my inbox) but it was definitely eye-opening and worth the effort.
  • Making Oprah. I don’t remember how I ended up listening to this one. I’m not particularly oprah enthusiastic so it seems kind of random, but it was very enjoyable and, in fact, it brought a whole new respect for her. Short and sweet, it’s a six episode series with a bonus Donahue installment at the end. This would be a good starter podcast for a newbie.
  • Serial. Season one or two is a seriously divisive distinction when it comes to Serial listeners. Season one told the story of the death of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent arrest and questionable conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed. Season two took a totally different approach and addressed the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan. To me, season one was attractive because it was sensational. Season two, however, that was the season that I enjoyed the most. I recorded countless tidbits of information on little pieces of paper or in the Notes app on my phone and I think of the dynamics of the story often.
  • Anna Faris is Unqualified. “Not-so-great relationship advice from completely unqualified Hollywood types.” Fantastic. And hilarious. They’ll go off on these improv riffs that are just phenomenal. Like, literally laugh out loud while you’re walking down the street phenomenal. It’s the kind of stuff you can’t plan and can’t rehearse and people that are just really damn funny. My favourite: episode #77Milo Ventimiglia.
  • Love Alexi. Alexi Wasser is adorably neurotic and super fun to visit with – at least, that’s the vibe she gives off. Her podcast is set up as interviews with people most of whom are just slightly off my radar. She is so cute and so fun and so completely out there sometimes, but it’s impossible not to love her. Check it out. My favourite discovery via Love Alexi was Dallas Clayton (episode 28 here) and my favourite episode was with Lisa Loeb. (Lisa Loeb! Episode 40!) The only drawback is that some of the episodes are loooooooooooooooong. I don’t love that, but, for Alexi, I’ll do it (sometimes.)

Gretchen Rubin & me at Happier LIVE in Seattle

Have you already curated your own best podcasts list? Are you hooked on your own favourites? Then I have a challenge for you, too!

Try this: go see a live podcast.

Friends of ours went to see the live recording of one of their favourite podcasts last night and seeing their posts reminded me of how much fun we had when we went to see Happier live last October. (This was the Happiness 911 episode I mentioned above.) Also last night, I listened to Happier‘s second anniversary episode when they talked about favourite moments and many listeners wrote in and referred back to that night in Seattle. It sounds silly, but the memory of it, listening to the theme music and hearing others’ recollections of that night brought tears of joy to my eyes. I had a very strong emotional reaction to the memory and it was such a good one. It was definitely an experience that made me happier.

So, tell me: are you a podcast listener? If so, which are your favourites? If not, what’s stopping you?

Monday, monday

Happy Monday, friends!


Pic above from Dallas Clayton whom I adore. He posted it on Instagram.

***

Less than one week until we get the keys to our new place! Excited doesn’t even begin to cover it, but I’m such a bizarre combination or eager to start and not knowing where that I feel a little paralyzed. Sigh…

***

I was thinking about it and it’s a good thing I’m on vacation this week since all my work besties are away. And that’s depressing. Partly because they’re away and, well, I’m not. Partly because I’d be lost there without them. One is in San Diego via Las Vegas, one is in Mexico, one is in Hawaii. Thankfully, one is on maternity leave which means she is nearby and my time off will allow me some quality time with her and her gorgeous little five-month old.

***

I’m on vacation and we were supposed to be away now. This is the second trip we have had to cancel this year – not something I’m comfortable doing. In fact, as I’ve found out, cancelling travel is pretty low down on the list of things I’d like to do. We should be visiting friends and family in Ontario right now. Unfortunately, with planning a move and a wedding within three months of each other, staying home was unavoidable. 🙁

***

It snowed here again yesterday. I think we’ve all lost track of our snowpocalypses. And, though it’s just one particularly bad winter, it’s hard to not wonder if things are changing. We’d feel differently, I’m sure, if we hadn’t been living in this apartment that turns into a prison cell the second the snowflakes start falling. Maybe we’d be less annoyed/tormented/exasperated. I’ve actually been awfully lucky. I’ve had time off booked for almost every workday snowfall all year! So, while it is annoying, I haven’t been overly inconvenienced. This time yesterday, they were predicting about eight snow days out of the next ten. Now, they’ve back it off. Phew!

***

But now I have a week off and all to myself. Kevin is working and my plans are intentionally minimal. I have a few projects that I would like to work on and a few fun things to focus the rest of me time. (This blog probably reads like I write a lot of lists, but I don’t. I swear.)

  • Clean up my Goodreads Currently Reading bookshelf. I have way too many partially finished and even just started titles on that right now.
  • Order wedding invitations. Oh my word. This is turning it the longest, most drawn out ordeal.
  • Choose cakes to taste. This might be my favourite part of wedding planning so far.
  • Watch Big Little Lies. I blasted through the book over the past week and I quite enjoyed it. Now, to put the HBO version to the test…
  • Watch Riverdale. I have to admit, the hype definitely has me intrigued.
  • Cook. Spending time in the kitchen is tough when you’re out of the house 60+ hours a week for work. I need to get reacquainted time food that is made at home.
  • Pack. Of course. This is mandatory.

***

Fun or not, what are you up to this week? What do you hope to accomplish before next weekend?

Discover Vancouver: Rogers Arena

Here’s another thing we like to do: explore our town. For Julie‘s birthday, she wanted to check out the home of her beloved Vancouver Canucks. So that’s what we did.

We arrived at Rogers Arena just in time for the first tour of the day and we were the only ones there. Bonus! We got registered up at the front desk quickly, were given lanyards with behind the scenes passes and we were ready to go!

We left the team store and promptly got a rundown of some of the history of the building and what to expect from the tour. Since it wasn’t a game day, the arena was relatively quiet, though there was some filming going on so we did see a few people including players and coaches on the benches and on the ice. We were allowed to take pictures of and with everything we saw (including any players we might encounter), but were asked not to bother said players since they were, after all, at work.

We headed up to the 300 level to check out the Canucks dressing room display which includes memorabilia from the four Canucks whose jerseys have been retired and Trevor Linden’s actual dressing room stall from before the rooms were renovated in 2009. (He wore the same shoes to every single game throughout his career. Like, exact same pair. And they’re in that stall still. Gross.)

Next up, we headed to the Olympic display where Roberto Luongo waves the Canadian flag after Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal at the 2010 Olympics. The wall features a replica of Luongo’s mask, his actual stick and a few other tokens from both the men’s and women’s tournaments that year.

When we finished there, we took the elevator up to the 500 level which houses spectator lounges including Club 500 – a ticketed area that offers several stations of various foods, bars and very loungeable seating, the press areas and media booths (no surprise that home is much comfier than visitors), the Canucks Alumni suite. From high up in the rafters, we got an impeccable look at the banners, a different angle on the jumbotron and a bird’s eye view of the ice.

From the top, we went all the way down to the bottom where we got to walk through the players’ entrance to the arena and in and around the dressing rooms. Because there were players in the arena, we weren’t allowed to go into the Canucks dressing room, but we did get to walk through the visitors’. (It smelled like watermelon gum.)

For those of you who don’t know or may not remember, when Rogers Arena was built, the Canucks weren’t the only professional team in town. One of the more interesting parts of the tour for me was when we walked through the area where the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA used to be housed. The remnants of having a basketball team in town is that, still, sixteen years later, there are way taller than normal doors in certain areas of the arena. Here’s 5’10.5″ me underneath a chin-up bar in the midst of them. If you sit on one of the stalls in the former Grizzlies dressing room, your feet still out like a child’s.

After checking out all there was to see at ice level, we headed back up an elevator and to the 100 level before finishing off the tour. All in all, we spent about an hour and a half exploring the arena and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested. Taking the tour also gets you a special 10% discount in the Canucks store on the same day.

Want to check out Rogers Arena? It’s $12 per adult ($6 per child over four, $8 per senior) and reservations are not required. For more information, check out their tours page.

To check out more photos from our tour, go to my album on Facebook. (Like my page while you’re there!)

The birthday paradox

Years ago, someone told me that in a group of people, it was more likely that two people would have the same birthday than that everyone would have a unique birthday. I never paid attention to the numbers so earlier this week, I looked them up.

Based on probability theory, with just 23 random people in a room, the likelihood that two of them will have the same birthday is 50%. With 70 people, that chance jumps to 99.9%.

It should be no surprise, then, when we know people with the same birthday, but I always (okay, sometimes) think that it’s a pretty cool and special thing. I often check out which celebrities share a friend’s birthday (mine include Lebron James, Tiger Woods and Jay Kay from Jamiroquai.) And, today, I have THREE people to celebrate. One came to town to spend her birthday with us, one flew to Maui to celebrate his in tropical paradise, one will be, I’m sure, painting the town red.

Happy birthday to Julie!

I was asked to select ten to fifteen words I would use to describe her and the top two I’ve come up with are vibrant and gregarious. She is fun, she is excited, she is a invigorating person to be around and she is the best third wheel we’ve got! We’re so happy to have her here in BC this weekend and we are going to do it up right in her honour!

Happy birthday to Karen!

We worked together on a few projects including the launch of her business and plenty of lacrosse stuff. Through it all, we developed a friendship that outlived all of our business dealings. She is a super fun person to hang out with and, in case you ever end up with any physio needs, she is amazing at her job!

Happy birthday to Mark!

That’s him on the left and, sadly, this is the only photo of him that I could find. I know that we have a couple of others – from Pemberton Festival in 2008, from camping in Whistler and from various weird hijinks over the years – but this was the best I could do. At work, he is my sanity saver, my refuge in a storm, my sounding board and the one who sets me straight. I adore his commitment to what’s right, to treating people well and to being a good person. He is more resilient than anyone I know and always sets a good example for any and all human beings.

If today is your birthday, too, I can honestly tell you that you are in very good company.

#minsgame – week three

Last week’s update came a little late after Valentine’s Day and Wedding Wednesday claimed their rightful dates and bumped my decluttering and minimalism progress report.

This week spans days sixteen to twenty-two in the 28-day challenge. Those five days account for 133 items to total 253 things so far. Those things include bathroom items, craft supplies, books, kitchen stuff and many other random items from around the house.

From an overall perspective, I’m still early enough in the process that it’s relatively easy for me to piece together each day’s quota just by looking around. I was asked this week whether I am tackling my belongings by zones and I am reserving the need to do that for now. I basically just cherry pick as I make my way through my day and will get more focused and organized in the final week of the month after we have our last houseguest in this apartment and can really start packing up for the move. (We can start moving three weeks from today!)

What’s been your secret to keeping your belongings in check over the years? If they’re not, what’s your biggest weakness?