Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Gift of Experience



I've seen a bunch of articles and blog posts lately that talk about giving gifts that are experiences, rather than things. I love this idea, because over the past couple years I have become more and more overwhelmed by stuff. It's super easy for me to think of experiences that I would absolutely love to receive as gifts, but it's a little more difficult to think of things for other people. Just like material gifts, you need to fit the experience to the person, except now you really need to get it right because it's a lot more difficult to re-gift or return an experiential gift. I came up with a few ideas and mixed them in with experiences I would love to take part in.

1. Spa day
2. Seeing a professional ballet
3. Musical tickets
4. Going to see the symphony
5. Any sporting event
6. A gift card to a new restaurant in town
7. A day at an amusement park
8. Tickets to an exotic location
9. Tickets to anywhere, really
10. Aerial classes
11. Movie theater gift card
12. Liquor/wine/beer tasting (as long as the recipient and gift-giver are over the legal age of consumption)
13. Sight-seeing tours
14. Sky diving
15. Bungee jumping
16. Art lessons
17. Cooking lessons
18. A gym membership
19. Ceramics lessons
20. Sewing lessons
21. Baking lessons
22. Horseback riding (lessons or just for fun)
23. Go-karting
24. Hot air balloon ride
25. Plans for a road trip
26. Comedy club
27. Language classes
28. Local attractions (in Saskatoon I would definitely recommend the Prairie Lily riverboat cruise)
29. Local festivals (in Saskatoon: A Taste of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Folkfest, and the Festival of Trees, to name a few)
30. Music concert or festival (I want to go to as many performances at this year's Saskatchewan Jazz Fest as possible)

What would you add to this list? I'm sure if I were thinking of someone specific I would come up with more, but these are the generic ones/the ones I would love to experience. Another thing you could do is renew someone's subscription or membership fees to something they already participate in. You know they already like it, and you're alleviating the financial cost for them.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twenty Four

Google kind of freaked me out last night when I opened up my browser. I saw the cakes and candles and hovered my cursor over the photo like I always do when there is a different landing page and I gasped when I saw "Happy Birthday Sarah."
 
Then I realized I was logged in, and it wasn't completely scary that Google knew it was (almost) my birthday. I felt better then.
 
Twenty three was a pretty great year, but I am excited to see what twenty four has to offer. There have been a lot of changes in the past year: a new relationship, moving out, and a new job, to name a few. I'm looking forward to seeing how all these changes progress and also to the new changes to come.
 
And now, we celebrate! (After work)
 
Any readers with birthdays coming up?!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Learning Curve

This past Monday marked the first day of a brand new job for me. I say "brand new" because I've had new jobs before, but prior to this I had essentially been moving around within the same organization. I started as a student in one department, came back the next summer and stayed for 2 years as a student in another, took off to Halifax for the summer after I convocated from university, and then got brought back into yet another department where I stayed for just over 2 years as a casual and then finally a term. I only ever had to get used to a new job, not really to new people and definitely not to a new atmosphere.

I've only been at this job for five days, so I have to keep reminding myself to be patient. I'm not used to not knowing what is going on, if I'm being completely honest. This is a completely new industry to me, so I'm not well-versed in the topic areas, nor am I familiar with the vernacular. I am not familiar with the company culture or the expectations, and even though I'm pretty technologically-savvy, I'm still not completely familiar with the updated versions of programs that this company has compared to where I was before. I'm in the middle of a learning curve, and it's taking a lot of my brain capacity to keep from curling into a ball in the corner while covering my eyes and wishing I was at home in my bed watching the seasons of Gilmore Girls (#grownup).

I know I can do it, and I know I will do well. I must admit that the first day left me feeling like a complete idiot for agreeing to do this, but after that initial shock I realized that it's not just the position that is new for me, it's having to learn at such a rapid pace again that's a shock as well.

It's not just the work that's new and challenging, it's all the other things too. Soon I will conquer the touchy water fountain that doesn't seem to like to flow into my water bottle and I will learn how to pull the door with a level of strength somewhere between my weak pull that leaves me caught in-between the door and the frame and my super-human strength maneuvers that knock the wall behind the door. I'll get used to driving the other way to work and parking downtown, and I'll get used to not being able to go home for lunch anymore. I'll learn everyone's names and I'll get to know them too. Over time all of these things will come, just like they have before.

Any tips on how to adjust to a new workplace? Do you have methods to assist in remembering people's names? I am so grateful for name plates on everyone's doors, but I'm not always in their office. Please help!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This One's For Me



Sometimes I have these moments where my initial reaction is to take a picture so that I don't forget [insert moment, sight, person here] and can return to it whenever desired. Sometimes it even goes a step further and I desire to take that photo so that I can share via some sort of social media. Thankfully, there are times where I catch myself. I stop myself and think, "Can a camera really capture the setting sun exactly as it is right at this moment, or would it be better to stop for a few seconds, take it in, and really enjoy it before it has set even further and the majestically glowing pink and orange hues aren't even there for my eye to see, never mind for my iPhone to try and capture after 20 takes?" (Let's be honest here, we all snap way more than one photo to try and capture something.)

One of my favourite sights is coming out of work and walking from the gatehouse to my vehicle in the parking lot. The property that my workplace is on is right beside a large field used by the university for the agriculture program, and right along the river. Across the river, a little to the southwest, is the centre of the city. Saskatoon is by no means a large city, but even our little "sky scrapers" appear to tower over the city when set against a backdrop of the flat prairie earth and endless skies. Around this time of year the sun is already beginning to set as I walk out to my vehicle and I catch myself forgetting to breathe at times because of the beautiful sight. I remember when I first noticed this a year or two ago. I tried to rush to my car to get my phone out (I leave it in there during my work day) to take a photo and I definitely got there in time, but the picture just wasn't good enough. It didn't capture the gorgeous colours and the definition of the buildings against the sky and the snow. I realized then that this exact moment was there for me, and that is all. I did not have to take a picture to remember it, because the beauty itself was enough to make me remember.

It's not just failed attempts at sunsets that I get this feeling about. It's a latte, a smile, a friend, a flower. It's anything and everything that I wish to appreciate. I love sharing, and I am definitely not averse to Instagram or Twitter, but sometimes it's simply more fitting to appreciate the beauty of the world around me rather than trying to allow others to appreciate it through my lens. I like to think of these moments as mine, gifted to me by God, showing me just how beautiful the world truly is.

P.S. I ordered a latte while I was writing this, and it's not the one pictured above ;)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Little Memories

A cafe on a side street in Pisa, Italy where I enjoyed a wonderful cappuccino.

I was out for breakfast the other morning and I ordered a cappuccino. When it arrived I took a sip and I was immediately reminded of Italy. Cappuccinos taste completely different here in Canada, and while this one was still definitely not up to Italian standards, something about it made it that much closer to those I had multiple times a day while visiting Italy.

I actually quite enjoy when little things such as this remind me of places and times far away. Each and every experience that I have had has played a part in shaping who I am today. It's not just the grand events such as travelling halfway across the world, but it's the little things too. Little moments from a street in Pisa, or from the riverbank in Saskatoon. A conversation on a park bench in Hyde Park in London, or on a bus in Halifax. Big and small, these moments are all a part of me. 

What little things have caused you to remember lately? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What To Do With Time Off From Work


You guys, I actually feel like a grown up. I have my first full, week-long break from work. I took Annual Leave and am away from the office for 9 days straight. I've been in an "adult" job since I came back from living in Halifax during the summer after finishing my degree in 2012, but this is the first time that I've taken a real break from work. Sure, I take days here and there; tack on an extra day on either side of a long-weekend or take that Friday between a statutory holiday and the weekend, but I have never taken a full week off. Granted, I am really only taking three Annual Leave days because yesterday was a Stat Holiday and Friday is my EDO, but still. A WHOLE WEEK OFF!

In the time leading up to my week off the top question I was asked was some form of "What are your plans for your week off?" My answer? Absolutely nothing. I had ideas. I thought I might disappear for a few days, or take my time to visit those new places that have seemed to creep up while I was too preoccupied with my daily grind. I knew I'd manage to meet up with friends or spend time with my roommate. As for definitive, invested plans, though, I had nothing on the go.

This could be seen as a poor use of time, but I just needed the rest. It's only Wednesday and I am already feeling so revived. It's beautiful. Some of my favourite things about unscheduled time off?

1. Being able to sleep in as late as I would like. I don't really sleep in anyway, but when I tell myself that I am allowed to I just wake up so much more happy, even if it's at the exact same time I would have woken up at on a regular week day.

2. The lazy pace of my mornings. I want to sit in bed and read blogs for 4 hours? That's totally fine! I want to enjoy a cup of tea while watching Netflix? Go for it! My mornings can go at whatever pace I would like.

3. The opportunity to be spontaneous. I'm not that naturally spontaneous. I tend to schedule time for spontaneity (it makes sense, I swear). During this week, though, I can do whatever, whenever and actually be truly spontaneous. (If I want.)

To be honest, there are so many other things that make time off so wonderful (obviously), but I'm much more interested in hearing how YOU like to spend time off from work. What would you/do you do with a week off from work?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Closet Remix

I was looking at my closet. Well, more correctly, I was looking at the space created by my very real need to do laundry, and I realized that I typically pair the same items together. I decided I needed to figure out a few new outfits, so here are five that I came up with that I have never worn before.

 Top: H&M (old, similar) // Skirt: Maurices (old)

Shirt: Ricki's (old) // Sweater: Tommy Hilfiger via Winners (old) // Pants: American Eagle (old, similar)

Shirt: Merona via Target (old) // Vest: Wind River, gifted // Jeggings

Shirt: Hurley (old) // Blazer: Billabong (old) // Pants: Joe Fresh (old)
(P.S. The coral isn't visible when the shirt is on, so no worries about the coral and red clashing!)

Shirt: Suzy Shier (old) // Sweater: Smart Set (old) // Jeans

Creating these outfits took no time at all and my mind is already putting together more with items from my closet. I'm looking forward to shopping my closet some more! What sort of looks do you think you can come up with from the items in your closet?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Salsamole Recipe (Guacamole + Salsa)



I wanted to take a moment here on my little corner of the internet to share one of my favourite recipes with you. I call it Salsamole.

Salsamole came about by accident one day when I was planning on making guacamole but didn't mash the avocado before adding in the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and jalapeño pepper. The result was unmashed avocado pieces with finely diced pieces of everything else. And it was fantastic. I still haven't made my regular guacamole recipe since (which is pretty fantastic already, if I do say so myself).

This could really be done with any guacamole recipe that calls for pieces of other produce, but my recipe is actually from a random man in the international foods aisle at the Atlantic Superstore on Barrington in Halifax during the summer that I lived there. I was grocery shopping for my house with one of my housemates and we were searching for a guacamole powder that one girl told us existed and she wanted for the night that it was her turn to make supper. We were having absolutely no luck. Neither of us had ever heard of a guacamole powder before and the idea wasn't appetizing, but we searched nonetheless. In our third or fourth turn about the aisle, a man overhead us and cut in saying, "Oh no! You cannot make guacamole from powder, even if you do find it!" He then proceeded to tell us that he owns a Mexican restaurant and gave us the recipe that they use daily. I've tweaked it since then, but his simple instructions have always stuck with me: 3-4 avocados, one tomato, half a red onion, a small jalapeño pepper (insides scraped out), salt, and cilantro. That's it. And it was delicious.

My guacamole has since changed to include garlic (I love it, I do), pepper, cayenne pepper when I do not have a jalapeño pepper, a lime to keep the avocado green, and I scrape the insides of the tomato out too, so that it doesn't get so juicy. Keep on reading so you too can make yourself some Salsamole or guacamole - Sweet Spontaneity style.


Ingredients

  • 3-4 avocados, ripe, insides cut into cubes(ish)
  • 2 tomatoes, insides scraped, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, insides scraped, diced OR light sprinkling of cayenne pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled, finely diced OR garlic powder to taste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Cut your avocado lengthwise, all the way around, twist to pull apart. If your avocado is perfectly ripe, the pit might fall right out, if not, remove the pit. Cut into the avocado lengthwise and widthwise to make a grid. Hold the avocado over the bowl, flesh side down, and push it out of the skin, into the bowl. You may require the use of a spoon to get it all out. Repeat until all avocados are used. **If you are making guacamole, this is where you should mash your avocado, or else you just might rediscover Salsamole yourself :)
  2. Cut your tomatoes in half, remove juices and seeds, then dice them. When I am making guacamole I like to dice everything super fine, but any size will do for Salsamole. The chunkier the better, at times. Add to bowl.
  3. Dice your red onion. The amount of onion can definitely be altered. I used to only use about 1/4 of an onion, and it was still super delicious. It's really all about personal preference here. My above comment about dicing still applies here, but sometimes it's nicer to keep onion pieces smaller, especially since it's raw. Add to bowl.
  4. Cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice from both sides into the bowl. 
  5. Add your form of garlic.
  6. Add your jalapeño pepper (insides removed and diced) OR cayenne pepper. You definitely do not need both. 
  7. Add cilantro, salt, and pepper. I skipped the salt last time and didn't notice, but some people swear by it.
  8. Mix it up and serve with your choice of chips, crackers, or bread. I typically use pita chips or corn chips.
I really like bringing this dish to get-togethers or to share at work. I also like using it as an appetizer while cooking supper with my roommate so we don't get too hungry on the nights we have to wait until later to start cooking. This would also be great to serve as a side dish for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or any other Mexican-inspired dishes.

Please let me know if you give this recipe a try! What is one of your favourite recipes to serve as an appetizer or snack?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Road Trip Recap: Edmonton, AB - October 3 - 5, 2014

A little while back I spent the weekend in Edmonton for a weekend-long bachelorette party. The bride had originally wanted a trip to Vegas, but since she went with Edmonton instead more of us were able to make it for the weekend. We rented a 15-seater van and made our way to Edmonton, where we had rented a little house not far from the West Edmonton Mall.

We planned a pretty chill first night, after 5+ hours of driving. We had about an hour to get ready after arriving and then we headed to the Red Piano at the West Edmonton Mall for dinner and an evening of entertainment. The Red Piano is a duelling piano bar where there are 5 hours straight of live musical entertainment, fuelled by song requests from the audience. While we were being thoroughly entertained by the musicians, whose pianos were located right in front of our table, the bride decided she wanted to ride the roller coaster at the mall in the morning - something she had never done before, because she is terrified of roller coasters.



The next day we got up and went straight to the West Edmonton Mall. Before splitting up to shop the day away, our whole group headed to the Galaxyland Amusement Park to ride the rollercoaster, complete with three loop-the-loops. We had a blast and after almost backing out, the bride did too.

To be honest, the timing of this trip wasn't the greatest for me in terms of finances, so I didn't get to go as crazy with the shopping as I would have hoped. I found a few things at H&M as well as Dynamite, but I didn't really let myself wander into too many other stores because I needed to practice restraint and I knew it would be about 100 times more difficult if I were to actually go into the stores. So, instead of wandering around this huge mall with no purpose, I went to the Cinzeo stand and got myself a delicious cinnamon bun and sat by the pirate ship to enjoy it while reading some of my current book, Beautiful Ruins, before joining one of my girlfriends while she continued to shop.



After shopping we all piled back into the van and headed to a group fitness class and then went back to the house to get ready for our night out. We did some of the very typical bachelorette party games and shared stories about the bride before our limo showed up to take us for a drive around Edmonton and then drop us off at the club for the night. We had a good group of girls and the entire night (and weekend) was a blast!

The next day we got up and ready to leave and were on the road again by 11:00. We stopped off in Lloydminster for lunch and then we were home. This was by far one of the best bachelorette parties that I have participated in, even though they're always fun in their own way. What kinds of bachelorette/stagette parties have you been a part of that you really enjoyed?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Finding the Bliss Amongst the Stress



The past couple of weeks have been extremely stressful for me. It just seemed like one thing after another came up on the heels of the last one and it didn't seem to be ending anytime soon. I'm not one to aim to avoid stress, it can actually be a very good thing for me, but it was just building up so much that I was definitely wishing it away.

I was downtown yesterday afternoon for an interview and afterwards I got myself a cup of coffee and let myself just enjoy the extremely beautiful fall (but more like summer) weather that Saskatoon has been experiencing lately. I wandered down to the river and sat down on a bench, taking in the sunshine mixed with the crunchy yellow and red leaves. I breathed in, I breathed out. I remembered just how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful city, and to have the opportunities I have. Maybe I have been stressed, but everything was still working out. The interview I had just been at went really well, I had the afternoon to do as I pleased, I ran into an old colleague on my way to the river, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to make a stressful situation a whole lot better very soon. I left the river feeling so much better, and ready to jump right back in to everything going on in my life right now. Sometimes you simply need to change your perspective and everything will turn out just fine.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blogging Tips Roundup



























I've been seeing lots of posts about tips for blogging and, while I'm definitely not an authority on the subject myself, I thought I'd share some of these links with you.  You can find a huge amount of blogging tips out there, I just like seeing tips from the blogs I read because they are clearly doing something that I like already.

The College Prepster shared a guest post by Maxie McCoy about first year blogging tips. I liked reading about this topic on this blog because Carly's been blogging for quite awhile now, while Maxie is relatively new.

There are a bunch of tips from A Beautiful Mess and I could spend hours reading through their posts - old and new alike. Some of my favourite blog tip posts are Starting Your Blog With a BangBlog Layout Tips, and Planning Blog Posts.

Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo recently shared a post about Blogging As A Career. I really enjoyed how she gave a backstory to where she is now with her blog. It's good to hear how other people start out and to know that successful blogging rarely happens overnight.

Megan's recent post on Honey We're Home about 10 Steps to Better Blog Posts is a nice breakdown of the steps she follows when creating a post for her blog.

Finally, Tips for Blogging by Lauren at A Touch of Southern Grace goes over things that might seem like common sense, but it actually can take awhile to see the impact and importance of following these simple concepts.

How about you? Any blogging tips you would like to share? Anything blogging related is totally welcome! There are so many areas that I definitely need to grow in, so don't hold back! I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

City Walks

On Saturday I went down to River Landing to check out Saskatoon's first ever food truck festival. We're a little a lot behind on the food truck scene, but this year saw quite a few trucks pop up and take over the streets and Instagrams of Saskatoon. I didn't end up getting any food because I went right at 6 pm and the lines were crazy long and I just wasn't really all that hungry.

I had went alone because, well, I like doing things alone. Since I had no one else that I needed to work around, I just let my feet lead me and I found myself wandering along the river, still close to downtown. The sun was getting low and the water was like glass, making for some beautiful sights. The sky was absolutely stunning too.

I found a little path that led from the walkway to right along the waterfront. From that vantage point I had even better views of my beautiful city. The photo above is of our Broadway Bridge, one of 8 now, I believe. We aren't called the city of bridges for nothing.

What did you do this weekend?


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Money Management: My Favourite Methods That Actually Work



I am by no means a financial advisor, but I have always loved tracking my income and spending ever since earning my first Loonie ($1) for allowance when I was six years old. In the past few years I have been pretty good about creating and (somewhat) sticking to a budget, but it has been during the past year that I have really gotten into it and tried different methods until I found something that works great for me and my pretty simple financial life.

The two concepts that I have found to really work for me and that have actually stuck are Flex Money and Dynamic Budgets.

Flex Money – I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes find budgets pretty daunting. Calculating down to the dollar for a bunch of different categories just isn’t really necessary for my lifestyle. I have tried it out and every single time I end up dropping it sooner than the last time I tried. I find it disheartening to go a dollar or two over in one budget category, even if overall I’m still far below my budgeted amount. Enter Flex Money. You divide your income up into four different categories – Fixed costs (housing, fixed bills, Netflix, transportation/car loan, etc.), financial goals (paying down debt, emergency fund, retirement, other savings), non-monthly expenses (quarterly payments, gifts, donations, tuition – anything that you’re committed to paying, but not necessarily on a monthly basis), and flexible spending. Flexible spending encompasses all other spending: groceries, eating out, shopping, personal care items, entertainment, fuel, parking – whatever you typically (or not-so-typically) spend your money on. One of the most appealing things to me about flex spending is that you have a large dollar amount that covers all of these categories and it can be broken down however you want, or however it ends up being divided. So if you end up eating out more often one month and therefore do not have to purchase as many groceries, instead of being way over budget for restaurants and dining and under budget for groceries, you’re simply taking them from the same pool and only need to track your spending in relation to the one dollar amount you have allotted for flex spending. This also assists in being able to keep a figure in your mind while spending; I have found that when I have a bunch of different budgeted amounts, I’m more prone to forgetting the exact dollar value I assigned to a certain category. With flex spending, however, I can keep one dollar amount in my mind and it is way less likely to be forgotten between budget check-ins.

For more info about Flex Spending, I would recommend this article from the LearnVest Blog.

Dynamic Budgets – To me, there are two parts to a dynamic budget: 1. Every month does not have to be the same, and 2. It can change during the month.
Even though I am a fan of flex money, I still like to keep a budget to keep an eye on where my money is going. Instead of having a rigid budget set out at the beginning of the month, however, I like to create a budget based on the previous few months, but then alter it as the month progresses. I use Mint.com to track my spending and link all of my accounts in one convenient place and it is there that I keep an eye on where my money is going. I still keep my flex spending number in my head while I’m out spending my money, but I check in at least once a week to see how I’m doing. Sometimes I have been a little too crazy with my debit card or unexpected expenses come up and I’m only halfway through the month, so I’ll take a look and see where I can move things around a bit. For example, if an unexpected gift or donation pops up then I can move some allotted funds from my flex spending (decreasing my number for the month) and up my non-monthly expenses so that I’m still on-budget in both categories. Less stress, but still in control of my finances. It’s great :)

In addition to these two concepts, some things that I like to do to keep my finances in order through the month are:
-  weekly (at minimum) budget check-ins (but sometimes I check it almost daily)
-  non-electronic tracking of my spending – I keep a little notebook in my purse to track my spending through cards and cheques to both help me have an accurate idea of where I’m at with my flex spending amount as well as have a record to check my online statements against. I don’t track cash spending because I budget for a certain amount of cash to be taken out each month and that’s my “fun money” that I can go for coffee with, buy treats, or that I can save up for a few months to buy a “want” from my wish list.
-  Automatic transfers for fixed costs (where possible)

Have you tried out either of these methods? Do you have other tips that you think would incorporate well? Please let me know! I’m always looking for new ways to tweak my financial tracking and goal-setting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pink and Blue

While reading a recent post on A Beautiful Mess, I learned a new piece of information that I found intriguing, in a simple sort of way: 

Pink used to be considered a male colour while blue was more feminine. 

Laura linked to this post that explains it a little more. It's an interesting bit of information, and speaks to the effect that society and culture has on individual preferences, or at least the way in which they are manifested. I totally love the colour pink, and I would consider myself a girly girl - but I don't necessarily consider those two facts linked, now that's even more so. 

What are your thoughts?!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weekend Adventures - September 5 - 7, 2014


This weekend was full of lovely little adventures around my beautiful city of Saskatoon. After my love letter on Friday it just seems fitting that I would get to enjoy what may have been the last warm weekend we will have this season while taking in some of the wonderful things Saskatoon has to offer.

On Friday I got up as usual but instead of heading to work I had my day off, so I drove my roommate to work on campus then went shopping for the morning before heading home to wait for the delivery of my couch. I had to be home for noon, but I had a little time on my way, so I stopped in at Starbucks (I’m trying to only treat myself to Starbucks on my EDOs, to be a little more frugal) before heading home. My favourite drink is the Salted Caramel Mocha and it is back!

I got home and started moving a few pieces of furniture to make room for my couch, and the delivery guys arrived right away. I have been so spoiled with every single delivery or scheduled visit during this move and setting up this place... The longest I have had to wait after the start of the time frame given to me was fifteen minutes, so instead of having to stick around my house for 3-6 hours, they were all over and done with in less than an hour.  



After the delivery guys left, I spent the afternoon getting the living room set up and cleaning a little bit and then I just sat on my couch and read – something I haven’t been able to do all summer. It’s one of those little luxuries for me. Later in the evening my parents stopped by (on their 27th Wedding Anniversary!) to drop off a dresser my dad had painted for me to use as our TV stand. Our living room is finally starting to resemble a living room; there are a few things I’d like to get (a tray for the ottoman to make it double as a coffee table, a little table for under the window, a basket for blankets), but it’s absolutely functional exactly as is, and I am more than happy with how it has come together.




Saturday morning (nearly afternoon) found us at The Local Coffee Bar on 3rd Ave, where we ended up each having one of their fancy grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch in addition to our intended coffee and latte, before wandering around downtown and along the river. It was one of those perfectly adventurous while still relaxing afternoons. On Sunday we were back downtown for Mass at the Co-Cathedral with some friends before wandering along the river again and then heading to Hudson’s for lunch. The weather was perfectly beautiful for a September day, with the warm sun shining from a clear blue sky.

























































What did you get up to this weekend?

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Love Letter to Saskatoon



I had the day off today and as I drove across the University Bridge I realized that I have fallen in love with my city. It wasn't a quick thing, rather a slow, gradual process. I have always had an attitude of gratitude towards Saskatoon, but I never really loved it. I was always thinking about where to go next, and while I still enjoy traveling and look forward to my next big adventure, I finally know that this is absolutely the place for me. It wasn't an instant love, like the love that I have for Rome or Halifax, but a slowly building, deeply rooted love of my city.

My heart has a softness for the sights along the river, the new coffee shops popping up constantly, the unique restaurants that could seriously rival those of much larger cities, and the wonderful abundance of sun. While we certainly experience extremes in our weather, especially in the winter, we do not experience any shortage in sun. Even when it's -30 degrees Celsius, you can find our city drenched in sunlight.

There is much, much more that draws me in about Saskatoon, but I'll share about that another time. Right now I want to hear about your cities! What do you love about the place that you call home?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Currently Reading (And Listening!)

I tend to read more than one book at a time. Sometimes it's because I start one book and get bored so I start another, but I wasn't actually bored enough to completely ditch the first book, so I read them both until I am so engrossed in each story that I cannot choose one to commit to so I just don't choose. Phew! All that being said, sometimes it's because I like to have different styles for different moods, or sometimes it's different types of books. Right now I am reading a physical book and listening to a different audiobook. The audiobook is what I read (listen to) while cooking, tidying, or painting my nails, while the physical book is what I read in bed right before turning out the light. Different forms for different circumstances.












The book I am reading before bed right now is Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger. Andy Sachs is back in the sequel to The Devil Wears Prada and even though it's almost ten years after her time at Runway magazine, she just can't seem to get Miranda Priestly out of her life completely. I'm about a third of the way through this book and I am really enjoying it. The Devil Wears Prada was an enjoyable book and I really like the movie too, so I'm hoping this sequel turns out to be just as great.



My audiobook of the moment is Tina Fey's Bossypants. I'm enjoying the humour, but I'm finding nothing can make me laugh quite as much as Mindy Kaling's audiobook. Nonetheless, I am realizing I really like audiobooks in place of music at times. If you have any suggestions for future books to listen to, please let me know!

What are you reading right now? I love learning about new books, so please share.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Milky Way Ice Cream - Regina, SK


















































I had plans to head to Regina this weekend to see some family that's visiting from England, and since I had Friday off of work I made the decision on Thursday to head down a day early. Thankfully Jessica was available for a visit and also opened up her house to me for the two nights that I was there (I actually wrote this post in my pjs on her super comfy couch). After a little adventure to Michael's on Thursday evening after I arrived, in which we had to fight to get a large canvas into the back of my SUV, we decided to walk a few blocks from Jessica's place to Milky Way Ice Cream for a little treat.

Aside from not realizing they only took cash until we were already in line, we moved through the line pretty quickly for such a hot evening. I had trouble deciding because they have so many flavours, but I ended up going with soft serve vanilla and strawberry twist dipped in sprinkles, it was fantastic! I cannot remember the second flavour that Jessica got, but the other was pistachio and she couldn't stop saying how amazing it was.

As we were waiting in line I realized that this was the first time all summer that I had gotten ice cream, and I was surprised! I usually get ice cream often throughout the summer, it's just one of those things.

Do you have a favourite ice cream place or a particular flavour you always get?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

YouTube Love: Epic Patty Cake Song (I'll Think Of You)

Just a quick post to share a video I came across today and enjoy a little too much. Their harmony would make for a wonderful song even without their skilled patty cake base. Let me know what you think!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me on Audible.com






















































Image found here

I recently finished listening to the audiobook Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling from Audible.com. Let me tell you: it is absolutely fantastic! 

I love that Mindy narrates it and adds her personality to the reading. I sort of felt like I was there as she was writing the book and going over sections, as if I were a close friend. She had me laughing out loud and sometimes choking a little if I was eating (note: I recommend not eating anything and especially not drinking anything whilst listening to her audiobook, for safety reasons ;) )

Throughout the book, the reader/listener quickly learns that Mindy is a pretty regular girl, with the typical concerns, not limited to the FOMO referenced in her title. She reveals her down-to-earth nature while making you wish she were your best friend and she doesn't shy away from sharing many embarrassing moments, which we all know is the surest way of making everyone feel like you're just like them.

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook and worked my way through it far too fast. Do you have any recommendations based on Mindy's book? I really want to listen to more audiobooks or read more books like this!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Walk Off The Earth Concert - August 6, 2014

On Wednesday night I went to Walk Off The Earth live at the Saskatoon Exhibition. It was so great! For the price of admission to the Ex ($15) I was able to see one of my top favourite bands live in concert.  

They were even better in person than they are on YouTube or the radio. Seriously. So good. I have never been more entertained at a concert. You could tell they were totally having a blast performing and they seemed like one big happy family. Even the sound guys were part of the performance, joining in for harmonies, drumming, and catching guitars and ukuleles that were being thrown over half way across the stage for instrument changes.

Have you ever seen Walk Off The Earth live? If you have the opportunity to, don't pass it up!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Liebster Award

I am excited to announce that I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by Lori at Writing My Story!


I've seen this award before, but I didn't know much about it, so in case you're in a similar boat, here are the rules:

1. Post 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions created by the person who nominated you, then create your own set for the people you are nominating.
3. Choose 11 people (that have under 200 followers) to nominate and link them to your post.
4. Let the people you nominated know they've been tagged. No tag backs!

11 Facts About Me:
1. I have danced since the age of two and I still take some classes and perform every now and then as well as teach a couple nights a week.
2. I live in Saskatchewan, Canada.
3. I absolutely love old movies, and my favourite is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Strange, I know.)
4. I am a natural redhead.
5. My younger brother has Autism. (If you'd like to learn about Autism, you could start by checking out Autism Services Saskatoon, they have lots of information and are a good starting-off point).
6. I love to travel.
7. I really enjoy organization and planning/scheduling.
8. I really like makeup and I do makeup for weddings and events as a hobby on the side. I wouldn't be opposed to doing it more professionally, but it's just not where I'm at right now.
9. I love books and reading, but I always have too many sitting around waiting for me to read - I have a terrible habit of buying books when I still haven't read others at home.
10. I have a degree in psychology.
11. I love learning and I really want to go back to school (and I still might!) - I wish I could be a university student forever.


11 Questions from Lori:

1. What are your top five favourite songs?
- Bloom - The Paper Kites, Rocket Girl - Doc Walker, Drops of Jupiter - Train, Be Okay - Oh Honey, The City - Patrick Wolfe

2. What is one thing you couldn't live without?
- Prayer. Faith wasn't always important to me, but something so simple as prayer has the power to do extraordinary things.

3. What are your favourite kind of posts to write?
- Adventure posts! Anything from a visit to a cafe to traveling through Europe. I love sharing about going.

4. What kind of camera do you use?
- I usually just use my iPhone 4S, but I also have a red Canon PowerShot ELPH300 HS (which I managed to purchase for about $40 CAD because I had saved up a crazy amount of Shoppers Optimum Points - yay Canada!).

5. Where do you find your inspiration?
- Through everyday life; the words I hear, the things I see, the thoughts I have... I love taking time to notice and appreciate the beauty in the simple things and moments around me.

6. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
- I love that, by the simple act of putting my thoughts into words through my blog, I can connect with people all over the world who share similar ideas, passions, and thoughts.

7. What is your favourite book?
- Oh, this is a tough one! As a child, I loved Abel's Island by William Steig and my enduring favourite would have to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It took me so long to decide on an answer for this question, I am clearly going to have to write a post about my favourite books!

8. Which blogs do you check daily?
The College Prepster
A Beautiful Mess
- I have a whole bunch in my blogger and bloglovin' accounts that I click on pretty regularly, but those two are the ones I will check even without the convenience of clicking a link (Type in the url? What?!). I also really enjoy finding blog posts that I like and seeing the other bloggers that commented on them and checking out their blogs.

9. What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
- Never be afraid to be the person that loves the most.

10. Do you prefer heels or flats?
- I'd have to say I prefer heels, but well-constructed ones. I'm not sure if this is my actual preference, though, because I cannot wear heels to work and it might just be a novelty to me at the moment.

11. What is your funniest memory?
- I actually can't think of anything specific, but all that comes to mind is time spent with my cousin, Kathleen. We always end up laughing so hard our faces and stomachs hurt. Quite often it's after having had a silly fight (#likesisters) or about a ridiculous inside joke. Together we can find absolutely anything hilarious.


My Questions for My Nominees:
1. If you could travel anywhere, no limitations, where would you go?
2. What are three of your passions?
3. As you're laying in bed before falling asleep, what do you like to think about?
4. In terms of fashion, what particular style, item, cut, or colour is totally "you?" (For example: bow headbands for Blair Waldorf in the beginning of Gossip Girl, the slouchy bohemian style of the Olsen Twins, and Audrey Hepburn's little black dresses and large sunglasses).
5. What are your top ten favourite songs?
6. What is your favourite movie?
7. What are your top five favourite books?
8. What is your dream career?
9. What is your favourite quote?
10. Who is your biggest role model?
11. What inspired you to start your blog?


My 11 Nominees:
(I hope I didn't nominate someone who has already been nominated, I am sorry if I did! I just wanted to nominate blogs that I actually follow.)
Jacintha at Tea With Jacintha
Andrea at Andrea Everyday
Marshall at This Blonde Story
Kristen at Life and Laughter
Cheyenne at Wanderful Ways
Samantha at Morning Lux
Mallory at New England Lane
Raquel and Rose at The Preppy Sisters
Kiersten at Prep By The Sea
Lauren at Petite in Pearls
A Little Seersucker Sass


Thanks so much to Lori for nominating me!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Borden Bridge, SK


















































In June we were heading back from a wedding at Redberry Lake, SK and decided to stop off at the Borden Bridge on our drive back to Saskatoon. There is an old bridge next to the one in use now, but it is still standing so we explored a little. We had actually stopped to look for a geocache, which we found, but we continued to explore the area - isn't the bridge beautiful?!

I have driven by this bridge a few times now, I actually don't head out that way too often, but every time that I have driven on this highway I have thought about stopping to check out the bridge - I am glad that I finally did!

Have you seen any interesting bridges lately? I would love to see photos! Also, does anyone reading this do geocaching? I only recently learned about it and we have been trying to look for at least one during our road trips this summer, it's pretty fun!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

When Organized Is Too Organized

I love good organization. Give me lists, bins, and labels any day. I could spend hours making to-do lists or organizing a closet and it would only feel like minutes. But sometimes I let my love for organization get the best of me.

There is a point where planning can go too far. In this post I recently wrote about how goals are only goals until you do something and the same is true about planning and to-do lists. This is a form of goal-setting, and you cannot forget about the “do” in “to-do.”

It’s not just over-planning that can be a problem, but over-organizing can be too. It’s not enough to work out an intricate system of baskets, bins, shelves, and labels – if the system doesn’t work for you, you are essentially unorganized anyway.  Organization is meant to make your life easier and more livable.  If the systems you have in place add more time to your tasks and make life more difficult, then you need to make a change.

As with almost everything, planning and organizing can cross into that “too much of a good thing” territory, we just need to keep it in check. Also, something that works great for someone else could be absolutely terrible for you; you need to fit things and systems into your lifestyle – not the other way around.

Have you ever over-planned or over-organized you life? What systems work for you? Which ones don’t? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Procrastination

I recently wrote about goals and how the only way to actually achieve them is to do. Well, something that is usually standing in the way of doing is procrastination. I can tell you that from first-hand experience.

Procrastination has been, at times, my biggest fault, causing me to turn in papers late, push deadlines at work, or miss the closing date for job applications for what could have been the perfect position.

I have tried many methods to overcome my terrible habit of procrastination, some have been utterly unsuccessful, but I have shared some methods below that I find work for me.  I change up my method depending on the circumstance, but it’s best to figure out what works best for you specifically.

Incentives – Sometimes I will tell myself I can have or do something if I do a particular thing or task by a specified time. I like to do this if it is something that happens on a regular basis, so I can group them together. A common one for me is, “If I am up by (a certain time) every day this week, I can stop at Starbucks on my way to work on Friday.” Grouping things let’s me use the incentive approach without overdoing it (and without overspending if it’s that kind of incentive) and it extends my efforts over a number of days – something that is beneficial in breaking old and creating new habits.

Create shorter-term deadlines – Sometimes my procrastination stems from having way too much time to actually complete something. In this sort of situation, I find it helpful to create a new deadline for myself that is at a closer date so I have less time to let it fall off my radar. If it is a project that can be broken down into smaller portions or steps, I assign a deadline to each one. If it is a small project but with a far-away deadline, I tend to do one of two things: 1. Complete it right away to get it off my plate, or 2. Create a Bring Forward (BF) in my calendar to remind myself to start the project at a certain date prior to the deadline.  I usually try to just get it done, but if there are too many things on the go then starting later is helpful.

Create additional accountability – Outside of work, most of my projects are personal and I am completely in charge of the deadlines. Sometimes, though, I need a little extra “push” to stay on top of my deadlines. Additional accountability can be created in many ways – a contributor, a client, a mentor, a significant other, or even a family member or friend that you share information about your current projects with who checks in with you from time to time.

There are many more methods to overcome procrastination like getting organized, figuring out the cost of your “wasted” (procrastinated) time, or identifying the consequences of not being ready for the deadline, to name a few. What is especially important is to recognize that you are procrastinating and sometimes it is important to figure out why. There could be a deeper reason causing you to turn to procrastination that needs to be taken care of before you try to stop procrastinating.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Moving Update

Hey everyone! I've been pretty busy moving these past few weeks. It seems like I chose my most busy time to move - thankfully I've been able to do it slowly and in pieces or else I would probably be going crazy right now.

I am moved in as much as I need to be, but I have a lot more things that I need to sort through at my parents house and in the extra room here before my roomies move in at the end of the summer (and before my parents go crazy with my stuff scattered all around the basement).

Here are some photos from my move. I didn't really take that many, to tell you the truth, but these are the ones I was snapping over many days.






Our living room, prior to pretty much anything being moved in.


Our dining room. Our kitchen is the doorway to the right, just behind my suitcases. I didn't get a photo of it for some reason.


My bedroom after having lived here for a few weeks. I was sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor and had just cleared it out, getting ready for the delivery of my bed, before I took this photo.


Building #likeagirl.


Aaaand the product of my building! One of two pantries for our kitchen. We don't have a huge amount of storage space and once there are three of us women living here, we'll need the extra space.


 (Almost) All of my books. I didn't have my bookshelf brought over yet (it didn't fit in my car and my dad was out of town), so I stacked them in the third room while I waited to bring it over. Thank goodness we're moving in at different times and I can use this space for now, or the living room would be even more of a disaster.


 Makeup can be fragile and my dad and boyfriend just don't quite understand how delicate it really is. The only solution was to be absolutely certain that I was the only person handling it! 
Yes, that is a big box of makeup. I still haven't unpacked it because I have nowhere to put it. The whole "less space than I am used to" is really affecting my love of makeup.






























And finally, some of my dresses riding shotgun on one of the trips over. I packed a lot of my clothes in suitcases long before I actually moved, but I just couldn't be bothered to do that with my dresses and I didn't want them to wrinkle either.

Have you moved recently? What is your strategy for actually getting things put away? I am going at it so slowly! Even if I set aside time to get things done, I get so distracted by the minor details and leave large boxes sitting in the living room for weeks without being touched. Help!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goals

I have a bit of a problem with goals. Not in creating them and imagining them and pondering them, but I have a problem in following them through.

Goals are great. They give us something to strive for, they give us inspiration, and they can be that light at the end of the tunnel in those times where we feel like we’re barely trekking through. But goals, in and of themselves, cannot create change.  It is what we do with those goals and how we work and strive to make them a reality that brings about change.

I am great at making goals and making lists and even at making lists about what steps I need to follow to achieve my goals, but, thus far, I am really not that great at actually achieving them.

So, I am making a change.  I will look at all of my goals, choose one or two at a time to focus on, and I will achieve them. Some will be simple and will take one movement or effort to accomplish; others will require more planning, preparation, and time to accomplish.  I will rejoice in every forward movement and learn from every backward step, but – no matter what – I will keep moving and doing.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Preparing to Move

I am in the middle of getting ready for my first, real, not-coming-back, move out of my parents house. It's been a long time coming, but I still don't seem to be very prepared for it, practically speaking. Thankfully it is within the same city, so I have the ability to move slowly, which needs to happen because of the time frames I have for myself. I should be getting the keys on Wednesday and can start moving my things in then, but I head out of town for a long weekend on Friday until Monday and hope to be fully living in my new place on July 1 - the original date that my landlord and I had agreed upon (he's being nice and letting me move in a little early, because it's empty anyway).

Some things that I have been doing slowly over the last week or so to get ready for the move:

1. Collecting boxes and bins - I am moving within the same city that I already live in, so I am not using a mover and am also hoping to not have to purchase any moving boxes. I have some storage bins that I have purchased for the move, but they will be useful for after the move as well. Aside from that, I have been trying to get boxes wherever I can; the majority have come from work, actually - printer paper boxes with their lids are fantastic and we would just be recycling them at work anyway! (Make sure you have permission to take boxes from work, you never know if there is already a designated use for them).

2. Packing the majority of my clothing into suitcases - Since I am moving within the same city and will just be making multiple trips with the help of some family and friends (and their vehicles), I have decided to just pack my clothing in suitcases; my suitcases need to move too and I figured this would be easier than trying to find even more boxes to put it all in.

3. Organizing and packing kitchen supplies - I have been collecting a lot of kitchen supplies over the last 5ish years, and up until now they were all living in our laundry room closet where I had no clue what I actually owned anymore. A couple weeks ago I started going through everything and packing what I could into storage bins while creating an inventory on my computer of what is within each bin. I pretty much have my entire kitchen ready to go, minus a few pots and pans.

4. Brainstorming (and sometimes purchasing) odds and ends - For over a month I have been adding to a running list that I keep on my phone of different things that I will need for my new place that aren't exactly big ticket items that are easy to think of. As I get closer and closer to my move I try to be conscious of items that I use within a day and if something isn't on the list and will definitely be needed once I move, I add it on. I have purchased some of these things and have set them aside for the move - these are things like dish soap and dish cloths (to wash all of the new kitchen stuff before putting it all away),  cleaning supplies (the place should be clean before I move in, but you never know), hand soap, and toilet paper. These are just a few of the things that I don't want to be caught in my new place without and having to run out right then to go and find before continuing on with my unpacking.

Since I'm in the same city as my parents, I am purposely leaving things like setting up internet and change of address until I am settled, since I can have my mail delivered to their house a little longer and if I desperately need internet I can pay them a visit too.

Other than that, I really haven't been doing much to get ready, just lots and lots of thinking and planning, but I haven't been actively, physically been doing much else. As I mentioned, this is my first big move out, so I am starting up a new place, not just moving a whole house to a new one. I still think this moving prep could be helpful if you are already established in your own place and are planning a move to somewhere new, you just might not need to stock up on as many "essentials" as I need to - you just might need to corral them into one bin or box and make sure it gets to the new place first.

Any tips on more things I can do to prepare for my move? They would be much appreciated!


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Downsizing

I have come to realize that I have too much stuff.  This has been a pretty slow realization, and even once I began to realize it a little over a year ago, I still kept on accumulating more and more stuff - I just felt better about it because I was getting rid of so much too (does not make sense, but that psychology worked for me for a bit).  

Being in the preparation stage of my first big move has made me realize it now more than ever. I am seriously a consumer and, for a very long time, I was an advertiser’s dream.  But not anymore!  I have cut back on my accumulation of stuff substantially and I have been trying to be extremely real with myself when evaluating the place of each of my belongings in my current lifestyle. 

I have had it pretty great at my parents’ house; I have a large room with a large closet completely to myself, but I have also been able to spread out all over the house. The laundry room, which is neighbouring my own room, has a full closet that has housed all of my “future home” items (the things my mother and father purchased for and gifted to me, starting with Christmas in Grade Twelve, for when I move out - talk about hinting! ;) ) and the rest of the room houses much of my office-type furniture and belongings alongside the washer and dryer. The space outside my bathroom has a whole dresser full of my makeup, towels, hair products, and hair tools, and I even have a closet in the front entryway that is filled with my coats and shoes.  It never seemed like much over the years, but listing it here, I realize I have been completely spoiled with space. I certainly cannot fit all of this in my small room once I move.

So, I am still downsizing. Thankfully I have a month before I need to actually move the items that make the cut.  I do have the added benefit of living in the same city as my parents, so I do have the option of storing a few things with them. Out of season clothing, extra luggage, and not-frequently-used household items will probably make a home in the laundry room closet as we have pretty much no storage space in our place. 

Any tips on how to be brutally honest with yourself when downsizing? I am trying, but I think I need to be a little more tough!
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