The Best Of 2009: ..catching up

I took a little hiatus from this list so that I could get through Christmas so will do a little catch up via one single post. I found that the prompts from the tail end of this list were lacking in the interest department, so I apologize in advance for my almost fail for these last few days. I just didn't want to abort the project all together when I had come so close.

So, without further ado:

December 24 Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?

I actually learned this particular lesson throughout 2008, but during 2009 this lesson has continued to change me for the good and I will never forget it. The lesson? Believe people when they tell you that everything happens for a reason. Three years ago, I would have never believed that. When I met C in 2008, my belief was changed! And as our relationship grew even stronger in 2009, I now tell everyone who is going through a rough time that everything most definitely happens for a reason! ;)

December 25 Gift. What’s a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

I've been sitting here all day in attempt to think of a gift that I gave myself this year that has "kept on giving". I don't even really remember ever giving myself a gift this year -- does paying the bills count??? ;) seriously though, all of my $ goes towards my house, car, horse and food to live! lol

December 26 Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

I guess you can say that I sort of had an epiphany only a few short weeks ago. After seeing C go back to school and finish school with a future now of doing a job he absolutely loves, I've realized that there's no way I will be able to stay in my current job as my life-long career. I dread going to work every single day and it's not a feeling that I want for the rest of my life. I am currently in the process of trying to figure out what I love and what I'd like to do work wise. Many ideas have been flowing through my head, so we shall see what happens! I do have some ideas that I'd like to start right away... I will share in my New Year's post!

December 27 Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

I can’t say that I really met anyone from the web in 2009. And Twitter? Twitter? What can I say… I really am not even entirely sure what the point of twitter is. And, I really don’t think I want to know what the point of twitter is. I think I will remain far, far away.

December 28 Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

Seriously? Stationary? Who came up with this list! lol

December 29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

As lame as this may be, my biggest belly laugh of the year occurred during the long fart scene in the movie Step Brothers. I could literally still watch that scene over and over and laugh hysterically every single time. There's just something about farts that I find totally and completely hilarious!!

Am I Now A Cupcake Queen?

Remember THIS post that I made a couple months ago about my sudden want to make cupcakes?

Well, I had sent my mom the link to Bake It Pretty asking for cupcake supplies for Christmas. I did not receive Bake It Pretty supplies, but I did however receive a nice little selection of items to help me get started. My gifts included 5 different types of patterned paper cups, decorations, a cake decorator starter kit with 4 food colourings, pastry bags, and 6 different icing tips, and REAL VANILLA! I was determined to start right away, and it just so happened that I had a pot luck to attend on the 27th. So I promptly found a recipe to try out, and along with the icing I whipped up, here is my first attempt at making 'fancy' cupcakes! The consistency of my icing didn't turn out how I wanted, BUT they still look pretty cool and they tasted phenomenal. So.. it wasn't a complete bust!

Christmas Baking - Final Product

The process took several weeks, but my mission of baking for Christmas gifts was a complete success! They looked as good as I had hoped, and my family just loved them - which is what mattered most. I contemplated posting all of the pictures on here, but I took so many throughout the process, so if you're interested at all, click HERE to check out my Flickr photostream.

The finished product

Happy Holidays!!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very wonderful and happy holiday season!

As of this moment, I luckily have 5 whole days off of work... so, I have decided that I am also going to take a 5 day break from the blog world! I will catch up on my best-of list Tuesday!

Enjoy your family time everyone!

The Best Of 2009: Web Tool

December 23 Web tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn’t live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

Hands down my answer to this one is swagbucks. It hasn't exactly simplified my online epxerience but it has certainly improved it by giving me rewards for my day to day searching. Rewards which I have been able to redeem for $250 worth of gift cards! (to date) I wish I would have come across this site sooner because thanks to swagbucks, I've been able to fullfill my music and book habit without hurting my bank account!

The Best Of 2009: Startup

December 22 Startup. What’s a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

I can't say that I started any sort of business in 2009. But many ideas have been flowing through my head lately! Providing I can find some great deals on fabrics, with designing help from my bf, I hope to open my own little etsy store in 2010 to sell homemade bags, aprons, and anything else I can thing of. Stay tuned!

The Best Of 2009: Project

December 21 Project. What did you start this year that you’re proud of?

Well, when you own a house, there is always an endless list of projects on the go. I'm sad that I don't have a current picture of this one, but a particular project I began and finished this year is my front porch. The project started with painting my front door a lovely shade of deep purple - had to girlify the place a bit! I also recovered the porch and steps with this stone paint to give it a nice fresh look, and the job was completed by giving all of the wood work a fresh coat of paint. :) Besides my kitchen, that's the only other project this year that I started *and* finished!!

The Best Of 2009: New Person

December 20 New person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

Is it bad that I can't for the life of me think of a new person I met this year?? If this 'best of' list was for 2008, hands down I could have said C! But I don't recall even really meeting any new people this year.

Do I live a sheltered life or what?!

Christmas Baking Part 4

It is the last Saturday before Christmas -- holy cow it's coming fast now! -- and the baking is going full steam ahead!

So far today I have made 3 mini whole wheat banana bread loaves, and chocolate/vanilla pinwheel cookies.

I also managed to package up the biscotti I made the other day. They are to be included into the final product of my baskets.

Now I must take a break and head out for a family supper. :)

The Best Of 2009: Car Ride

December 19 Car ride. What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

The best car ride of this past year, had to have been back in October. C and I finally had the majority of a Saturday together and began our day bright and early. We stopped at Mc D's to enjoy some egg McMuffins before hopping onto the highway. Our first destination - Greenhawk warehouse sale. If you're wondering what the hell Greenhawk is.. it's a store that sells horse supplies. So I was pretty pumped that C even wanted to come with me as the warehouse was about an hour away.

Traffic was light, so we made it there and finished the shopping in good time. Since it was early when we were done, we decided to first trek down the highway a little further west to say hi to my grandpa and make sure his grave stone was in good condition. (---my grandfather died 4 years before I was born. He is buried on the other side of the big city, so any time any of us are in the area, we like to stop just to say hi---)

It was still early after we left the cemetery so C agreed that we continue on to Guelph to visit my former home of 4 years. I've always wanted to show him the university campus that I loved so much and this was the perfect opportunity. I had only been back once since I graduated in June of 2006, and the sensations/feelings that came over me as we drove into the city were so unexpected. The moment we arrived in Guelph I just felt home. I couldn't stop smiling and was so happy and excited. Eating on campus... walking around campus... seeing all of my old hang outs and class rooms... it's amazing the effect that place has over me. I think I will see that as my 'home for the rest of my life.

There was nothing fancy about our car ride to Guelph, but I think it's one that will be grained into my memory for as long as I live.

Christmas Baking Part 3

I finally found some more time to bake last night, so I baked up a storm! ...I predict my weekend will consist of baking as well as it's crunch time now!

Here's what last night resulted in.

Mint Chocolate Fudge

Orange/Almond Biscotti with and without chocolate

The Best Of 2009: Shop

December 18 Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

Most of my mad money was spent at this year. I purchased many books and cds throughout the year from this site. Want to know the best part about it? I got it all for FREE thanks to my discovery of SwagBucks!! Seriously, all I do is do my internet searching via swagbucks instead of google and it has allowed me to earn free gift cards for I have won $250 so far! If this sounds like something you might like to do, sign up HERE and we can help each other out. :)

The Best Of 2009: Word or Phrase

December 17 Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. “2009 was _____.”

I think I'll have to say that 2009 was interesting; in a good way!

2009 proved to be quite an unlucky year for my pets, however that aside, I think it was a pretty good year.

Early in the year I discovered the absolutely amazing online community of SmartCanucks which thus fuled my couponing ways and ideas to save as much money as possible.

C and I have continued to grow together with each passing day, and we've recently hit an amazing milestone that seemed so far away even a year and a half ago! ... He has finished school! He actually just finished 3 interviews this past week in hopes to start a placement early in the new year. I couldn't be more proud! :)

I have also discovered my love for blogging and writing in general. I have realized that I am pretty unhappy in my current job, perhaps writing in some shape or form is my calling? Who knows. It's my goal for 2010 to find that out.

The Best Of 2009: Tea Of The Year

December 16 Tea of the year. I can taste my favorite tea right now. What’s yours?

Hands down Tetley Blueberry Green!

I discovered this flavour early in the year. I won't forget that first time I made my first cup. I was hook from the very instant that the boiling water hit the tea bag in my mug. I love it so much that I literally drink a big travel mug of this every single afternoon. The blueberry flavour is absoltuely incredible and it blends perfectly with the green tea leaves. Mmmmm...

Dear Mother Nature

What are you trying to do to me?

Last night I'm driving home in the pouring rain... tonight I drive home in a little snow storm?!

Please do me a favour and make up your mind.

Thank you,


The Best Of 2009: Best Packaging

December 15 Best packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

Best packaging? what kind of question is that? hmm.. I honestly can't think of any sort of packaging that stands out. I can only think of shitty packaging! ..such as those items you purchase that are trapped within this sharp plastic casing? the packaging that give me a plastic cut every time! Yes, a PLASTIC cut -- not a paper cut, a PLASTIC cut! Damn you crazy companies who think this is a good way to package things!

The Best Of 2009: Rush

December 14 Rush. When did you get your best rush of the year?

This one was a tough one to narrow down, but I think I'll have to say that I got my best rush when I heard my name being called for 1st place when showing little Daisy Duke.

For those of you who are newer to my blog, Daisy Duke is a little pony that we rescued from a horse auction late October 2008. The couple who own the farm where I board Chelsea bought Daisy to be my little training project with the goal in mind that she will eventually help teach little kids to ride once I had her trained. I started from the day they brought her home. We figured she had been trained to pull a cart, but not to be ridden. It took many months of hard work and included several set backs, but in the end, she's turned into a pretty great little pony.

By August of this year, I had proved to Daisy's owners that she had come a long way and was ready to go to her first competition. Daisy did not disappoint and we came home with 1st and 2nd place ribbons! There's just something about the rush I felt when we went into that ring to compete and our names were called for those ribbons. Months and months of patience and hard work paid off at that very moment and I couldn't have been more proud!

The Best Of 2009: Change To My Home

December 13 What’s the best change you made to the place you live?

Hands down this will have to be my little kitchen makeover. I didn't do much .. only painted. But, I am just so much happier with it. I took on this project at the perfect time too because ever since, I have been completely inspired to do my holiday baking. I've been baking almost every day since! (kitchen makeover post HERE)

The Best Of 2009: New Food

December 12 New food. You’re now in love with Lebanese food and you didn’t even know what it was in January of this year.

My new favourite food as of this year would definitely by California rolls.

I was always scared to try these before... I think the sea weed was what really turned me off. My mom started buying them regularly from the grocery store and got me eating them. And then C started buying the spicy ones and now it's safe to say that I LOVE them!!!

Christmas Baking Part 2

Here is the second item that will be added to my Chritmas gift baskets for family.
Mini Lemon Cakes frosted with snow and snowflakes.

The Best Of 2009: The Best Place.

December 11 The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

Well the best place for me is definitely nothing new for this year. This particular place has been my little retreat since the moment I first touch my little feet on the property.

What is this place you ask?

The barn.

It's not a fancy place by any means, but there's just something about it. No matter how upset or stressed I may be on a given day, the moment I pull up the driveway of this place and open the door to exit my car, all negative feelings melt away. And for the few short hours I spend there almost every day, I am in heaven. It is a place where I am not judged and can be 100% myself. It doesn't matter what I look like, or what I do for a living... all that matters is that I am there because of my love for horses. It's amazing how a common interest can bring together such different people.

I also doesn't hurt that I'm met by this gorgeous girl when I show up.

No matter where I've kept my horse Chelsea for the almost 10 years that I have owned her, that barn has been my retreat from the world. It's amazing how being at the farm completely tunes out the rest of the world and the only thing that matters is me and this horse.

I know this is making me sound like some lovesick little girl talking about her horse.... but it's not like that. It's so hard to explain in words the feeling I get when I am there. But it's true, and real.. and there's nothing childish about it. When I really think about it, it's pretty amazing that I have such a close bond with an animal that is 1200lb and could turn on me in a heartbeat if she really wanted. It's almost magical.

The Best Of 2009: Album of the Year

December 10 Album of the year. What’s rocking your world?

Well, if you know me at all, this is a given.

My absolute favourite band in the world, Our Lady Peace, released their 7th full-length album "Burn Burn" back in July after a hiatus of several years. I reviewed it HERE. OLP changes their sound ever so slightly from one album to the next, so I took this one in with an open mind and although it is vastly different in comparison to their iconic album "Clumsy", I think it is absolutely brilliant.

I absolutely loved it when I first listened to it, and can honestly say that it is still amazing to me today.

This year was a great year music-wise in my books. Other albums came close, but no one could ever beat OLP in my eyes.

Christmas Baking Part 1

For the third year in a row, due to my lack in finances, I will be giving away baskets of baked goodies for gifts. I love to bake, and they really seem to be a hit, so I figure - why not? :)

Since this is the third year in a row, I decided that I wanted to try out some new recipes just to make the baskets a little more exciting for my family. I've been playing around with a few recipes over the past couple of weeks and last night I finally completed my first one that will be incorporated into the gift baskets. They are so pretty that I couldn't not show them off! ;)

Sugar cookies with a buttercream frosting and white chocolate detailing.
This was my first attempt at decorating cookies with frosting and I'm pretty proud with my work. Hopefully my giftees like them!

The Best Of 2009: Challenge

December 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

I've been sitting here all day attempting to think of one really big challenge that I was faced with this past year and my mind is completely blank. I faced most of my big life-changing challenges to date in 2007 and early 2008 when I was forced to grow up really quick and become a single first-time homeowner and take care of all the responsibilities that go along with it. Since this has been my third year in my home, I wouldn't say that home ownership has been a challenge for me in 2009. I've pretty much figured things out, know what works for me and I've been taking each day in stride.

The only major challenges that I recall facing this year were both 'close-calls' with my pets. Since I'm not married yet, and don't have any children, my animals are some of the closest things to me, so... you get to hear about them again! ;)

Piper's close call incident in October was definitely a challenging time for me. I've had Piper for 5 years now, and he's been through a lot with me. He lived in Guelph with me for my final 2 years of university in Guelph, moved back home with me and then into my house. He's been by my side through some of the best moments in my life, and my worst. So when he got sick and I had to seriously think about possibly putting him down, I knew I had one of my toughest decisions ahead of me. My number one priority was to cause the least amount of suffering as possible. Thankfully with the support of my parents, I was able to help him out with the surgery and give him a second chance at life. I'm glad I made that choice, because he certainly had the fight in him!

I was met with another major animal-related challenge this year right at new years when my horse Chelsea choked. Choke in a horse is a big deal. If severe enough and not taken care of in time, it could kill a horse. It has been almost a year, but I remember that night as if it was yesterday. I was ready to leave the barn for the night and passed by Chelsea's stall to say good night. I looked in her stall to find her standing there with her head drooping and thick mucus coming out of her nose. I called over my BO (barn owner) right away and she told me Chelsea was choking. She then showed me the lump in Chelsea's neck where the build-up was in her throat.

I remember trying to make her walk in the arena in attempt to get her to pass it herself. I felt so absolutely helpless watching my poor girl suffer. My big, majestic mare looked sadder than I ever seen her and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I had thoughts that night that my best friend of 8.5 years might have to leave me that night. If I ever had a bad day, she had been my go-to girl. I had spent hours, upon hours on top of her back floating along, flying over jumps, and really just being at peace. I couldn't stop thinking - what would I do without her? How could I ever show up at that farm again if she wasn't there? I quickly realized my negative thinking was not going to help the situation at all, so even though it was tough, I had to put those thoughts to the back of my mind as I continued to walk her and wait for the vet.

The vet finally came and as per his instructions we had many buckets of hot water ready awaiting his instructions. The only way for him to clear the blockage in Chelsea's throat was to run a tube up her nose and flush it out. (**warning graphic coming up**) I held my girl as the vet prepared to force this tub up her nose. The look of terror and worry in her eyes was nothing I had ever seen and it scared me to death. It was at that point when her terror overcame her and she started to become violent trying to strike out at the vet. My emotions were going crazy, I started to feel faint and no longer had the strength to hold her. I then had to just sit and watch. Watch as the vet drugged up my horse and continuously put a tube up her nose followed by many, many buckets of water in attempt to flush out whatever was stuck. There was lots of water and a TON of blood. I was terrified through the whole ordeal, but he got it. After an hour of this back and forth process, pieces of grain started to come out and the blockage was gone.

She ended up being ok in the end, and is back to her self now, but boy was that ever a hard night.

People are right when they say that sometimes you never realize how good something is until you come close to losing it.

The Best Of 2009: Moment of Peace

December 8 Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

One particular moment of peace that is fresh in my mind happened about 6 weeks ago, after the scary ordeal I went through with my cat Piper. Over the span of 9 days, he went from looking sort of sick, to needing emergency surgery, to not recovering well, until finally some relief. I went through a yo-yo of emotions during this time thinking if I'm doing the right thing, or if I should have just let him go. I wasn't able to get the support I needed from C at the time either because he was too busy with school and work, so everything about those 9 days was rough.

The relief and peace came this one Sunday, 4 days after Piper had surgery. After bringing him home that Thursday night, and monitoring closely I was worried that by Saturday morning, he was still unable to pee (his problem in the first place). I called the vet and they asked me to bring him back. I think poor Piper hit his bottom when he ended up back in the cage in that office and the vet felt sorry for him and felt that he would be happier to just be home. Once I had him home on the Sunday, I knew at this certain moment that the road to recovery was going to begin then and there.

I was laying on the couch with piper on my lap. As gross as this may seem/sound, I felt my stomach start to get wet and then Piper seemed to take a very deep breath and then he fell asleep. The poor guy had no control holding it in, but the fact that he was able to pee was such a relief for him - I could tell by the deep breath that he took. I knew at that moment that he was going to get better and although I had a wet lap, I was finally at a moment of peace. I knew that I did the right thing in getting him to the vet in time and allowing them to operate. Piper is now happy and healthy again and I'll never look back.

The Best of 2009: Blog Find of the Year

December 7 Blog find of the year. That gem of a blog you can’t believe you didn’t know about until this year.

Hmm... this is going to be a tough one because this is the year that I really got into blog reading and I came across a vast list of gems in the blogging world. If I have to pick just one though, I'd have to go with David's blog titled, The Rest Is Still Unwritten. David writes about anything and everything. He is more open than I would expect from any man and it's refreshing to read his words and his point of view. I always find myself looking forward to reading what he has to say next.

Why Must We Be Punished To Be Healthy?

The title says it all...

Doctors, nutritionist, friends and family all preach and preach how North Americans are so unhealthy and need to change their diets to eat better. I'm talking about North America as a whole because many Canadians are just as unhealthy/overweight as many Americans.

One of the most important things that individuals need to do to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle is to eat healthy foods. Unfortunately those on the selling end of foods we must consume are a tad greedy and care more about the money going into their pockets than allowing for all individuals to be healthy.

If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, let me lay this out for you. Imagine walking into your local grocery store. You're walking up and down the aisles... picture what you're seeing lined on the shelves, but also picture their prices. If you really concentrate and take a good look, you might be surprised at what you see.

I was raised to be a very healthy eater, so since being on my own, my good eating habits came with me. Unfortunately, over the past few years, money has been really tight for me due to my home ownership. The less money I have in my pocket, the harder it's been to keep my healthy eating habits. Before money became a problem for me, I never realize how damn expensive it is just to eat properly!!! Everything that is cheap and affordable in a grocery store is just garbage for your body! So many companies are spending their time mass producing product that is cheap for consumers to purchase, but at the same time is literally shit for their bodies! And why do they do it? Because they know people will buy this crap, thus making them money in the end.

Seriously, try and do a grocery shop and purchase fresh healthy foods.... it takes so much effort to even find healthy items while trying to stay within a budget!

And this little rant of mine can also be directed towards cat food companies as well. Since my little Piper had his surgery, it was recommended that I change his diet. Well after doing a lot of research, I realized that the pet food I was buying for him in the past because it was affordable, was full of shit that he shouldn't have been consuming in the first place! Cats are carnivores, thus should be eating actual meat. The affordable pet foods in the grocery store are just packed full of by-products and grains acting as fillers! I know must buy an all natural cat food for my cats to ensure that Piper does not get sick again. After being on this food for over a month now, he is healthier than he's ever been. The downside - it's costing me $10 a week in cans, and $18 every 2-3 weeks in a bag of dry! I used to spend about $6 every 2-3 weeks... *sigh*

When you just look at things from a certain perspective, my little statement is 1000% true! We as a society are actually being punished just for being healthy!

It's ridiculous.

The Best Of 2009: Workshop or Conference

December 6 Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

Wow, only 6 days in and I already have another fail. *sigh* I never attended any workshops or conferences this year due to major cutbacks in my company. Maybe next year!

The Best Of 2009: Night Out

December 5 Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

I think I would have to say that my favourite night out this past year was in the summer, with C of course. We were in Ottawa and the event of the evening was Our Lady Peace at Bluesfest. We started the night with supper at C's favourite restaurant, Lone Star. After a yummy dinner, we began a nice walk down to the Lebreton Flats where the concert was being held. There was a lot of traffic, so we decided doing the trip by foot would be best. The ambiance at the Bluesfest grounds was magical for me. Concert going is one of my absolute favourite things to do and I was so excited to be sharing this experience with C for the second summer in a row. He enjoyed his very first beaver tail and we got to watch an amazing sun set as we waited for the show to start.

The biggest highlight of the night would have to have been when Raine Maida came over to our side of the stage directly in front of us to climb the rafters and get a better look of the crowd.

This was a big moment for me because Raine has been my celebrity crush and musical idol for years now and to see him so close.. *gasp!*. It was also really amazing to be able to be so close to see the expression of surprise and shock on his face. He is one of few celebrities who is really still very humble. He really couldn't believe that such a huge crowd had showed up to see his band perform. C and I could both see that in his face and I think that moment made the night for both of us.

Looking Forward To A Day With Friends

I am sitting here in a virtually empty office late on a Friday afternoon. It's already dark outside and although the sight of the darkness at this time of day usually depresses me, I find myself feeling very excited in anticipation of tomorrow. You see, tomorrow I will be spending the day and evening with a group of wonderful friends that I was lucky enough to meet just under 2 years ago. We all met and came together via an online bulletin board called Saucy Piaffe and tomorrow is our second annual "Saucy Dinner". About 20-30 of us horse lovers will be gathering for a night of great food and great company and I can't wait!

The Best Of 2009: Book

December 4 Book. What book – fiction or non – touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

This is a tough one for me because out of the many books I read this year, there are 2 in particular that stood out for many different reasons.

I finally decided to pick up and read The Time Traveller's Wife at the end of the summer. The movie came out, and I wanted to see it, but I never like to see movie adaptations of books until I read the book. So my reading began. I absolutely loved this book... the story, the characters, the way it was written. My mom has it now and it's in her 'must read' pile.

The other book that really touched me this year was The Book Of Negroes which I blogged about here. If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be BRILLIANT. I absolutely loved the story from start to finish and I didn't ever want it to end.

Failure Thursday

I unfortunately have to report that I am a complete failure today for my posts corresponding to 3X Thursday and The Best of 2009. My mind is sadly at a complete blank on the topics brought forth for both postings, so I will have to come back strong tomorrow!

On a positive note, I followed through with my idea of changing up my template. I wanted something clean, bright, and fresh looking. You like?

The Best of 2009: Restaurant Moment

December 2 Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

The best and most memorable restaurant moment from this past year would have to have been at Pizzeria Liberetto downtown Toronto. C and I went to visit my brother and his fiancée for the day and we ended up here for supper with them and her sisters. What an experience! They make authentic Neapolitan pizza at this restaurant and I've honestly never tasted anything like it. I ordered: Pingue Prosciutto, Tomato, Basil, Ontario Fiore Di Latte Mozzarella (pictured below) and couldn't believe when I ate the whole thing!! They even have a duck confit and pear pizza at this restaurant, which one of the girls ordered and I tasted. SOOO good! If you're ever in the city and looking for a place to eat, I definitely recommend this place.

The Best of 2009 Challenge

I have decided to take part in The Best of 2009 Challenge put forth by the folks at 20SB. The challenge is to reflect on the year over the next 31 days. It will definitely be a challenge, but I'm up for it!

Since I only came across this today, December 2nd, I will cover the first two days so that I'm not behind.

So, here goes nothing! What should have been the December 1st entry:

The Best of 2009: Trip

December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

C and I went on a trip to Ottawa in July which I would have to say was the best of 2009. Since he began his current job, mixed in with school, we weren't getting as much time together as we were used to, so having the opportunity to take off just the two of us for a week was amazing. We had a nice visit with my brother, got my first parking ticket - which C fought and got removed, saw my favourite band Our Lady Peace perform at Bluesfest, and much much more. The two breakfasts in a row at Cora's, many km of walking... it wasn't a fancy trip, but it was definitely the best of 2009.

Some Randomness For Tuesday

How is it already December 1st? I really, honestly don't have any idea where this year has gone! I guess my parents were right all those years when I was a kid and they'd tell me to cherish every moment because when you're older, you won't know where time goes.

We've entered the last month of the year and I'm finding myself and my thoughts sort of all over the place. Due to this, today will be a day of randomness!
  • if you live in the gta, I'm sure you've heard of the arrests made at the Toronto Humane Society last week. As an animal lover, I've been completely enraged with this news and really have been finding it hard to even put my thoughts on this issue in words. For those who have no clue what I am talking about, top officials, and even a veterinarian from the THS have been arrested on several charges including animal cruelty. I honestly can't even bring myself to describe the horrid things the OSPCA have found in the THS facility. It just disgusts me. I hate the thought that all those poor helpless animals have had to suffer due to some disgusting humans. I think I'm going to make it a goal to volunteer for my local humane society in the new year.

  • I'm having thoughts... of changing my blog layout again. I don't know what gets into me, but every few months I just sort of get sick of the look of my blog and think I am in need of something new and fresh. Thoughts?

  • This week is proving to be a very exciting week for me as C is in his last week of school! Yippee! C went 'back' to school as a mature student 3 years ago to pursue something he absolutely LOVES (a move that I am so proud of him for) and he is on the final stretch! So happy for him/proud of him.

  • As for me, I've realized that I am pretty unhappy with my work. Each an every day is almost painful as they slowly drag on and on. I know I just took this job when I finished university because it was here and I really didn't have to put in any effort to get it. I've done a few courses since being here and learned more about the industry, but deep down, I know this isn't for me. I just can't see myself doing this for 25-30 more years. *sigh*

  • On a happier note, I have won another award!!! Thank you! Thank you! my friend Meg over at Lost In Thought

Just like with most awards, accepting this means I have to follow a few rules. The first, seven things about myself:

  1. I am the youngest of 3 in my family, and the only girl. My brothers and I never really got along when we were kids, but it's pretty neat to see how close we've become over the past 5 years. It's really nice.
  2. I am so totally and completely envious of the talent that is Lea Michele (Rachel Barry on Glee). When I was a kid, I used to be in the school choirs, and would act out plays like Cats and The Phantom of the Opera at home. I wish I had the talent that Lea does to allow me to pursue something like that.
  3. I may be a little thing at 5'3, but you might be surprised to know that I'm a little power house! lol Perhaps working with horses since I was 9 has made me stronger? I don't know. I do know though that I'm extremely strong (physically) and it takes a lot to make me give up.
  4. My horse kicked my in the face accidentally 6 years ago. It broke my jaw in 2 places, resulting in me having to get emergency surgery to wire it shut. My jaw was wired shut for 6 weeks, and wires remained in my mouth for 2 months. I was supposed to be wired shut for longer, but the accident happened in November, and my surgeon felt bad and wanted me to get to taste my Christmas dinner that year. So he cut my mouth open December 23. He did an amazing job though! You wouldn't know it happened, unless I told you.
  5. I'm so addicted to music that when I find a new album that I like, I will listen to it non-stop for weeks at a time. ie. have been listening to the Glee soundtrack for about 3 weeks now.
  6. Monday-Friday, I must start my day with a green or white tea. But on weekends, it's all about coffee.
  7. I am completely spoiled by having an incredible mom. I go to her house every day during the week for amazing gourmet lunches. It's such a nice break away from the office.

...why are those things always so hard to do?

Anyhoo, next task is to pass this award on to 4 other blogs.

  1. Seize The Moments
  2. Frugal Dreamer
  3. Down the Rabbit Hole
  4. Ramblings of a Fab Brunette

These four blogs top my do not miss list every morning, so I definitely recommend that you check them out!!

Kitchen Makeover Complete!

Well I spent practically my entire weekend working on my kitchen, but I'm happy to say that aside from a few tiny touch ups, I managed to get it all done! My Saturday was spent painting up a storm, and yesterday was devoted to cleaning and organizing. It's safe to say that I am extremely happy with the finished product! This will definitely tide me over until I have the extra money to be able to afford new floors and a new counter top.

So without further ado...

After Pictures:

Kitchen Makeover: Part 2

Since I work from 8-5, my little project is having a slow start. I am however making some progress. Still find myself extremely excited and eager to get this paint on the walls though!

Day 2:

Tonight I managed to sand down the spots that I patched up last night, as well as prime those spots so that my walls will be ready for painting Saturday morning. Since that was only about a 15 minute job, I also worked on painting my butcher block cart. I never did anything to this cart since removing it from the box and assembling it after I brought it home from, I figured that since I'm doing a makeover of the rest of the kitchen, I figured this cart could use a makeover as well. Here are the pictures.

My little helper Boo

3X Thursday: Happy Turkey Legs! (To My American Friends)

Well, this week's issue of 3X Thursday isn't exactly geared towards me since I am Canadian. But, I will play along anyway. :)

1. What’s up for Turkey Day this year?
Turkey day for me was back in the middle of October - see my post here. It was a fantastic day though! I cooked up a storm and we just had a great family day.

2. What’s on the menu for Turkey Day?
This years turkey day menu was pretty fabulous. I cooked a delicious bird, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes and squash, while my mom made a dish of sweet potatoes and spinach. All was finished off with a pumpkin cheesecake (my new favourite dessert recipe) and my mom's dutch apple pie. It was amazing.

3. Besides all of the good food, what’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? Why?
I think my favourite thing about thanksgiving is having the opportunity to get a lot of the family together. We all live such busy and hectic lives these days and it's so hard to get together - even if some of us live in the same city! Thanksgiving, along with other holidays are so nice as they give us all the opportunity to stop and be with the family we love.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American Friends!!

Call Me Crazy...Time For A Kitchen Makeover!

I'm approaching my 3rd Christmas in my house, and as I started gather up my recipes for my Christmas baking over the weekend, I took a look in my kitchen and decided that I just can't stand this uninspiring place anymore! I've hated my kitchen since I bought the house and have always wanted to re-vamp it, but have just not gotten around to doing anything yet. C and I spent some time over the summer planning what we would love to do with the place, however that plan would cost much more money than we have right now. Since the money isn't there to do the overhaul we'd like, I've decided to do the next best thing - paint. Painting the room in the 2 colours I have chosen should hopefully help brighten up the place and bring some cheer and happiness into the room. I NEED to do this because honestly, I have absolutely 0 desire to do any cooking or baking in there anymore which is not a good thing for me! I love to cook and bake!

So without further ado, this evening I made a trip to Canadian Tire, purchased paint, came home, and began my project. I will document this little solo project of mine for something neat to look back on, and also perhaps for your enjoyment. ;)

Day 1:

Removed all wall plates, sanded down shotty patchwork done by previous owners, washed the walls, and filled in any holes. So basically, these are the BEFORE shots.

Snow. My Love/Hate Relationship

I am sitting here in my lonely little cubicle, looking out to see a grey sky and raindrops trickling down the window. I sigh a little as it is yet another grey and dreary day, but then I find myself pausing for a moment. My eyes wander over to my calendar and I suddenly begin to wonder why I am sighing. Should I not be happy that it's only raining? It is the 25th of November and we have not seen one single snowflake yet this season. Shouldn't I be jumping for joy? Don't I hate snow? least I thought I hated snow...

Last winter had to be the worst winter for snow accumulation since I moved to the GTA from Eastern Ontario. Growing up in Eastern Ontario, the norm for my winters were many dumpings of snow and very cold temperatures that hovered around the -20s and -30s. I was actually surprised when I first moved to the GTA how different the season is around here. Up until last year, the winters around here have been tolerable. We've gotten snow, but not as much as back home so I've been happy. But last year, all hell seemed to break loose in the skies!

Last year was definitely the year of the snow. It started falling November first and didn't seem to stop all winter long. The worst part about it to me was the shovelling. You see, I share a driveway with my neighbour, so it only allows me to shovel snow to the one side onto my front lawn. By February this year, my snow banks were over 10ft tall! No joke! The shovelling was getting so hard, that every time it snowed, I'd almost be in tears when I had to shovel in attempt to launch it over the high snow banks.

By this past spring, I had vowed that I officially HATED snow. If Canada had a place where it never snows, I'd want to move there in a heartbeat. Unfortunately though, I'm SOL.

So... since I vowed that I hate snow only 8 months ago, why am I finding myself sighing as I look out into the snowless world that is my work's parking lot?

I was happy when I heard several days ago that Environment Canada announced that we would have a warm winter with not very much snow. Thoughts of the possibility of minimal shovelling this season excited me! So why am I sighing now?

Could I actually still really like snow?

When I really think about it, I actually do think I'd prefer to look out and see a nice white blanket of snow covering the ground and a sky bluer than a robin's egg...rather then a ground covered in mud from the constant rain and a sky so grey that it makes you just want to curl up in a ball and hibernate until spring.

Photo Credit: Sam Javanrouh

The Biggest Winner - Eat and Exercise

I want to bring up this topic today because winter is quickly approaching. The days are getting shorter, we're seeing less daylight, and even I'll admit it, we're starting to hibernate and become lazy. I say lets kick it in the butt ahead of time and get cracking before we get too comfy ;)

The current season of The Biggest Loser is quickly coming to an end. And although I have not made any posts about it, I am indeed watching and loving it just as much as every other season. There is something about this show that I think is so magical. It's so good to see people who, at the beginning of the season are at their all time low, finish off as completely different people! And they accomplish this not by taking strange pills, or practising fad diets like you see advertised on tv. They accomplish this simply by learning to eat right and exercising! Who would've thunk it?!

It really amazes me how so many people seem to fall at the hands of advertising and believe that all the fad diets and pills will actually make them lose weight and be healthy. Yes they might lose weight, but they certainly won't be healthy.

I thank my parents every chance I get for raising me to be healthy and active. Thanks to them, I luckily never had any sort of weight or health issues. They have also given me enough knowledge to continue on the healthy path on my own which I have been able to do for the past 7 years since leaving the 'nest'.

To those who aren't so aware of the simple ways to stay healthy and happy... watch The Biggest Loser. Seriously! Yes, that means 2 hours on your butt in front of the TV, but the things you learn via that show are endless.

...I even let Jillian Michaels kick my butt once a week via her 20-min workout dvd. That woman is even scary via a dvd! It's so worth it though.

Going In The Right Direction

Yesterday proved to be a pretty good day for me in that I managed to make a little step in the right direction finance-wise. I lucked out and happened to be in the right place at the right time.

While un-tacking my horse after a really nice ride, my BO (BO = barn owner) and I had a nice chat. I miss my chats with her as the seem to come by at rare moments, when the barn is empty. I'm actually surprised that no one else came out to ride yesterday morning because it was so nice out! Anyway, back to our chat. She mentioned that one of the other boarders who has been doing the Sunday morning barn chores for the past few weeks has quit already, due to personal reasons. My BO seemed a little bummed out since I think she was finally happy to be getting Sunday mornings off, and wasn't really looking forward to her 7-day-a-week job again. Well I thought about it for well.... ummm... maybe a split second and chimed in "I'll do it!".

I desperately need the extra cash in my pocket, and after working 40 hours during the week, could not justify going out and getting any other sort of part time work to take up ALL of my time. So... starting a week from Sunday, I now have the job of doing the barn chores. All I will have to do is muck out the stalls every Sunday morning and make sure there is food and water in the empty stalls ready for the horses when they come in. I figure it will probably take me 2 hours and in the end, I will get a killer ab workout, AND I get money taken off my board! Sounds good to me!
....I also happened to be in the right place at the right time when one of the other boarders showed up, while I was riding my third of the morning, and offered me money to clean up her horse's mane. My immediate response out loud to her - "Sure!"... and my immediate response inside my head - "Score!".
Things are definitely going in the right direction now.

3x Thursday: Music Check-In

I'm always trying to think of new ways to express my opinions on certain topics, but sometimes I just find myself having a hard time thinking of topics to talk about. So, I am going to try something out here. Providing I can keep up with this, I think it could be fun. Starting today, every Thursday will now be dubbed "3x Thursday".

The whole purpose of 3x Thursday is to answer 3 random questions about a similar topic. Sounds fun to me! Enjoy the ride.

1. Have you gotten any new music lately? If so, what? If not, why not?

I actually purchased 2 new albums last week. They only cost me $1 thanks to swagbucks!

The first being volume 1 of the soundtrack for the show Glee. I am completely in love with Glee, so it was a given that I'd get the soundtrack. I have had it for over a week now and it has not left the cd player in my car. My singing skills have certainly improved in this time! ;)

The second album I purchased last week is The Swell Season's new release, "Strict Joy". I fell in love with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova about 2 years ago when I came across their movie "Once". This new album has definitely not been a disappointment. These two are just magical together.

2. Have you been to any concerts lately? Are there any coming up that you want to go to?

I unfortunately only got to go to one concert this year due to my lack of funds. However, it just so happens that that one concert was for my favourite band, Our Lady Peace. C and I went to see them at Bluesfest in Ottawa back in July and it is a night that I will never forget. I sadly just had to miss two shows that I would have loved to attend - one being for Pilot Speed, and the other The Swell Season. Here's hoping I'll have more opportunities next year.

3. In your opinion, has 2009 been a decent year for music? Why/why not?

I think that 2009 has been an amazing year for music, for me at least. Of course, the musical highlight of the year was the long awaited new release from Our Lady Peace. I've been waiting for several years for this and "Burn, Burn" did not disappoint me. Other notable releases from this year include new music from Metric, Pilot Speed, and The Swell Season. Can't wait to see what comes out next year!

New SATC Book! .. Well, Sort Of

On a happier note...

I just read on Perez that Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City (my all time FAVOURITE series), is publishing a new book next spring! The book is to be titled "The Carrie Diaries" and will be all about Carrie's high school days.

This news has totally made my day! I can't wait to get my hands on this book!

Getting Something Off My Chest

So I've been feeling pretty low lately. I hate complaining, especially because things are completely out of my control and the main reasoning is out of any one's control. But it does suck.

David from The Rest Is Still Unwritten made a good point on his Sunday post when he recommended that we all just write like no one is reading. Because in all honesty, as a blogger, why should I really care what other people think? I need to write what I'm thinking and feeling in order to portray my utmost honestly. I shouldn't write to try and please people, in attempt to try and gain more readers. I should write because I love to write. I should write from the heart and if something is on my chest, just get it out in the open because I know that deep down I will feel better in the end.

So here goes nothing.

My little rant of the day.... if you can even call it a rant.

As piddly and measly as this sounds, I haven't seen C (despite 2 quick trips to his work to say hi) in over a week. Before that, for the past month or so, I've only gotten to spend time with him a few nights a week and it's really starting to get to me now. I know most couples almost seem to thrive on time apart, but C and I aren't one of those couples. We have been as inseparable as possible since we met just over a year and a half ago. We fully admit to each other that we're 'clingy' and need to be with the other, but we're both like that and it works for us. We are so madly and deeply in love that we just can't justify being apart more than we have to (ie. when I'm at work, or when he is at work or school). He is currently in his final semester of school, and although we've made it through the grind at the end of his two previous semesters with flying colours, this time it's a lot tougher.

He's been working part-time at a grocery store since February to help out with his bills and such. Up until October, things were ok and manageable. He'd get every 2nd or 3rd weekend off meaning we'd get our time together and all was good. All was good up until Halloween time that is. C asked his boss 3 weeks prior to Halloween for the weekend off so we could partake in some cool holiday activities. 3 days before, his boss wrote on the calendar at work - "Not Possible". From that moment on, it seemed as though his boss had completely turned on him and decided to do no more favours. Ever since then, C has worked every Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. Basically, when I've been off work, he's been working. On top of this, he is in his last weeks of his program and the work is piled right up on him causing lots of stress for him on top of having it be extremely time consuming for him. It sucks.

I really know I should not be complaining, because the job is temporary and it's just to get him through school. He is literally in the final stretch now of school and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The light being him finally being done school, and being able to get a job which will give him the money to finally move in and allow us to really start our life together. You see! It's a REALLY good light at the end of that tunnel. much as I tell myself it's almost over, and it's not his fault, or any one's fault at that, I still find myself completely bummed out and very low. I'm just seriously missing my soul mate and my best friend and am at the point where I don't know what to do with myself without him! I can only clean my house so many times! lol

Here's hoping the next 3 weeks go by quickly.

There. Phew! Off my chest.

A Review: The Book of Negroes

Wow. Where do I even begin?

I didn't know what to expect when I purchased "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill. I had some free money for amazon to purchase a book (thanks to swagbucks), saw that this book received some great reviews, so I figured - why not! Now that I have read this book, and wished it was 3 times longer at the moment when I read the last word, I know that buying this book was totally worth it.

Lawrence Hill did an absolutely outstanding job telling the tale of Aminata Diallo who was abducted from her village in Africa at the age of 11 by slave traders. The book follows Aminata throughout her ups and downs from the time of her abduction, to her last days. Hill's amazing use of fiction alongside history just had me totally and completely immersed in Aminata's story from the first word, right to the last and I really honestly wished he would have kept on writing!

An amazing book indeed, and definitely one that will be added to my must-read list for all other book worms out there!

Let's Talk About Hot Dogs!

Yes, you read correctly. I said hot dogs!

Seriously though, what is it about hot dogs that makes them so delicious?? (I will respond to that myself by saying that was a rhetorical question. I really don't want to know what is in those juicy little tubes of meat.)
Imagine it is a hot and sunny summer day. You're having a back yard bbq with friends and family. Since it a big bbq, you couldn't afford to buy steaks for everything, so you serve the next best thing .. hot dogs! Your face lights up as that perfectly grilled dog is placed in your bun and you slather it in your favourite toppings. (My favourites are ketchup and mustard.) You take that first bite and as that delicious, juicy flavour surrounds the inside of your mouth, it is like you are taken away for a moment; perhaps to a moment in your childhood, or any particularly happy moment. It's like you're in your very own hot dog bliss.

I don't think I've ever met a person who was not fed a lot of hot dogs when they were a kid. Hot dogs are an affordable meal for parents to feed their kids, and to be even more direct about the whole thing, kids LOVE hot dogs! I have a cousin who would eat nothing but hot dogs for several years when he was young! Almost everyone loved hot dogs when they were young, and I really believe that they are one of only a few childhood staples that so many of us adults still love to this day!

C and I both still adore hot dogs. He loves them so much he can eat almost a whole pack at once! Whenever we are stuck with what to have for supper, we look at each other and laugh while saying ummmm.. hot dogs? I almost get embarrassed when I decide to make them for supper because there's 0 effort involved. But when it comes down to it, I really shouldn't feel any embarrassment what-so-ever because they're too damn delicious!

And don't even get me started on street meat. Oh my.. whoever invented selling hot dogs on a cart in the streets of big cities (or at select Canadian Tire stores) is/was a GENIUS!!! Without question, if I am out walking in a big city and am hungry, where do I usually go? Not to a fancy restaurant, or to a fail safe fast-food joint. I go and get street meat!! (yes, that is me below enjoying some street meat in Ottawa)

I think the hot dog will forever be on my list of favourite foods. It's simple, affordable, and so gosh darn good!

Lest We Forget

At 11:00am today, the 11th day, of the 11th month, all Canadians will take a moment and remember. We will remember all of the amazing people who fought for our country in order to allow us to live in a land of freedom and peace. We will wear our poppies proudly above our hearts, and remember.

I feel very lucky to have met a very amazing man around this time last year. He was a veteran of the 2nd world war and was C's grandfather. We unfortunately lost him this past March; he was in his early 90s. I will be thinking of all the veterans today, but most of all, C's grandfather will hold a special place in my heart on this special day.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.