Thursday, March 02, 2017

Looking forward to...

... A day off tomorrow, and doing NOTHING.  OK, that's not entirely true.  I have a few odd jobs to do around the house, and I need to give myself a little pedicure, but otherwise, I'm doing NOTHING but watching Netflix and working on a puzzle and reading.  No cooking anything, no baking anything, no creating projects for myself.  Just chillin'.  I have Mondays and Fridays off this time of year, and I've been packing them with shopping trips and activities galore.  I need one of 'em to be a "nothing" day.  Need some solid quality time with the Gilmores!

... A "Wine & Sign" Party Friday night. I've been invited to one at a friend's house, and it sounds like fun.  We will each be creating our own signs (the design I chose says "grateful, thankful, blessed") and just hanging out and chatting (with wine, of course).  Should be a fun evening!

... Another day at the curling rink on Saturday, this time for the Canada Day Committee's first-ever fundraiser bonspiel.  For someone who started out the winter hating curling and wishing I'd never bothered trying it, I'm becoming quite a regular. haha!  I've promised myself to be better behaved than last Saturday, though.  I got a little rowdy last weekend.  I need to re-establish myself as a respectable citizen. ;)

... Appointments on Monday morning.  NOT REALLY.  But I've been putting off going for blood work for over a month now, and I also have a dentist appointment, so I figured I'd better kill two birds with one stone and get them both over with on Monday morning.  I'll feel better for the rest of the week knowing they're done.  (I hate appointments.  so much.)

... Our church's annual Irish Tea, which is coming up next Saturday.  We always have fun putting together this little fundraiser for our church, and treating the folks in our community to a tea with fancy sandwiches and squares in celebration of St. Paddy's Day.  Always a great time!

... St. Patrick's Day!  Our little town does it up big, with several well-known parties, and I'm not sure yet if/where I'll be celebrating, but it's always a fun vibe around town regardless.  I usually like to don my green and make an appearance at the big shindig at Gavan's, even if it's just for a little while.

... An upcoming "Escape" with friends!  We've picked a date, now we just need to finalize who is coming and what time we want to book the Escape room for.  I've always wanted to try this, and I can't wait to do it with great friends :)

... Easter.  OK, it's still super far off, and Lent literally just started, but I'm already daydreaming of how good the potatoes will taste. ;)  (oh, and also, all the Easter candy.  God, I love Easter candy.)

... Choosing a new workout program.  I've been in an exercising rut and trying to decide what to do about it.  I keep telling myself once the weather is nicer, I'll get back to walking/jogging every night, but my best success has always come from doing a program, and I need a fresh new one.  I've been researching this week.  I'm very intrigued by Pound, but thinking I might be better off with Beachbody's Country Heat. (I've always had a soft spot for line dancing. lol)  I won't be purchasing for a few more weeks (need to get a few other bills paid off first), but I definitely want to get a new program to freshen up my desire to work out!

... A weekend trip to TO in May.  Ever since I went to Toronto several years ago with friends, I've wanted to go back, especially for a Blue Jays game.  I loved the experience of being there to watch the game live, and it's just nice to get away for a few days and spend time in TO.  Tickets are booked and I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Lent 2017: Cutting ties with potatoes

Last night, our community gathered at the Lions Hall in town to feast on pancakes, a symbolic "Fat Tuesday" tradition where we load up our plates and celebrate before having to give something up on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  I did just that: I enjoyed my pancakes smothered in butter and real maple syrup, and all the fixin's that came with it.

And then I went home and finished off the last of a bag of potato chips too, knowing it would be the last time I tasted them until Easter.

After giving it a lot of thought, and tossing around a multitude of ideas, I've decided to stick with my resolution to give up potatoes for Lent.  I'm still haunted by the memories of going sugarless several years ago, so I wanted to make sure this year it was something that wasn't going to become as all-consuming as that endeavour was, yet was still difficult enough to be considered a real challenge.

Potatoes really aren't all that bad for you.  I mean, they are a vegetable after all.  But truth be told, I'm not a big fan of potatoes, at least not in the traditional sense.  I don't crave them mashed or baked.  Unfortunately, my preferred form of potatoes is any way I can make them unhealthy - as in potato chips (with dip, of course), French fries (doused in salt and vinegar and dipped in ketchup, or smothered in cheese and gravy), I only eat mashed if they come with gravy, and if I'm eating a baked potato, it has to be fully loaded with butter, sour cream, green onion, and bacon.

Therein lies the reason I've decided to cut potatoes from my diet.  I've been eating them - in their most unhealthy forms - far too often these days.  Chips & dip are a frequent evening snack, I rarely eat out that it doesn't come with a side of fries or poutine, and my willpower to resist either had become non-existent.  Lent offers the perfect opportunity to cut my addiction and maybe even kick-start some much-needed weight loss right now.

I toyed with making it even harder, by cutting all things "white" from my diet, as I've heard of others doing, but man-oh-man, that's a lot of stuff.  That's harder than cutting just sugar.  That would also mean white flour, salt, potatoes, pasta, milk, sour cream, yogurt, even bananas...eep.  Too much stuff.

Then I thought of doing potatoes, white bread, and pasta.  White bread wouldn't be that hard, I don't eat it often to begin with, but my beloved pasta...that would be tough.  Too tough, I think.

So potatoes it is.  No more chips, french fries, homefries, or any other form of potato.  I'm also giving up sweet potato fries (because we all know I'd opt for that side in a restaurant, and it's really no healthier).  The goal here is to choose a salad for a side instead, or have a salad entree when dining out.

What I AM allowed: popcorn, pretzels,  corn chips, and kind of snack cracker that is not potato-based - BUT the goal is to cut out night-time snacking altogether, so I'm not planning on chowing down on these snacks instead at night.  It's just an alternative if I'm at a party or something, if I can't dive into the chip bowl, I can have a handful of another snack that is not potato-related.

As I said - not as hard as giving up sugar, but still not easy.  I have already had my first dawning moment of realization, as I discussed the upcoming curling bonspiel on Saturday with my friend Lindsay.  I told her I thought it might be a good idea if I got away from the rink, went somewhere to eat during the break between games, so that I'm not just sitting there drinking all day.  I already had visions of a chicken finger platter with poutine on the fries from Hursty's dancing in my head when it hit me:  "Oh wait.  Shit.  I can't eat fries. UGH."

It will be good for me, though.  Hopefully a kickstart to some healthier eating habits.  I have a new little goal in mind.  I'm going to a Blue Jays game on May 13th.  I was gifted a Josh Donaldson tee for Christmas that is a bit too tight, and my goal is to have it fit comfortably by the time I go to the game.  TOTALLY doable.

And potato-less Lent should help.

What are YOU giving up, or doing to mark this Lenten season?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Weekend Rewind: 50 Shades, Curling, and the Oscars

Good Tuesday morning!

So, this past weekend was jam-packed with lots of fun (maybe too much fun)... here's a little re-cap!

As usual, I kicked it off Thursday evening at the curling rink, but thankfully, kept it much more tame than the week before.  We played the early game, and it wasn't the best game ever, for any of us.  Figures, since the week before I thought I had finally found my "groove"...apparently not!  Whoops.  Stayed for a little bit afterwards, but I kept the drinks to a minimum, and was home early.

My plans were up in the air for Friday, but then my mom called at 8 AM and told me I had 45 minutes to be ready if I wanted to join her and my sister for a day of shopping.  So, that sent me dashing off to get ready in a tailspin... so much so, that for the first time in my LIFE, I drank my coffee in the shower. LOL!  It made me realize how unwilling I am to start my day without my cup of joe!  Mom picked me, we stopped in at Kara's, and then we were off to Gatineau.  I really had no shopping desires other than a few groceries, so I was just kind of along for the ride.  But it was fun!  We hit up a bunch of stores, and had lunch at Cage aux Sports.  It isn't very often the three of us spend a day out together like that, and it was nice.  I told them the only thing we should have added as a stop for a pedicure!

I was home for a little while and watched some more Gilmore Girls before heading out for dinner and to see the new 50 movie.  And yes, I'm a fan.  I wasn't surprised, though.  The second book in the series was my favourite, so it made sense that I'd love the movie too.  To put it simply, I enjoy the "vanilla".  We'll just leave it at that. ;)  My mom had been warning me about driving to the city since there were freezing rain warnings, but that wasn't an issue...what I did not enjoy was driving home in a thunderstorm.  There were a few bolts of lightening that seemed so close and bright that they blinded me, and the rain was pouring so hard I even had to pull over once.  eeep!  Thankfully I got home safe and sound.  I don't like storms at any time, but I definitely did not enjoy driving home in a freak one in February!

Saturday I was up bright and early to get ready for a day at the curling rink.  I was playing with Brenda, Sue and Adam in the Quyon Lions curling bonspiel.  Our first game was pretty bad, but how can one be expected to be any good at 9 AM? ;) Our second game at 1:30 was much better, and we ended up coming back to tie it in the last end, so we finished our day on a high note.  It was a fun day, but I think I learned a lesson to not start with vodka and OJ at 9 AM and move to beer at noon, because that results in me becoming rather silly and obnoxious by suppertime... -_-  I'm vowing to try to remember this on Saturday, when the next curling bonspiel comes around! lol!!

Strangely enough, I couldn't sleep in on Sunday morning, and I woke up feeling fresh as a daisy, so I was up with coffee and watching Gilmore Girls for a few hours before church.  The service was really wonderful, which is saying something, as the hangover symptoms were starting to kick in.  By the time brunch was over, I was crashing hard, so I opted to head home for the afternoon to sleep it off, and that I did.  I literally slept alllll afternoon.  

I got up around suppertime and did a few things around the house before settling in for the Oscars.  I was interested in seeing who the  winners were on the night, as I had actually seen one of the big nominees (La La Land), and I'm also quite interested in seeing many of the others. I thought it was a strong year for the Oscar nominations. Often it's obscure films that I have no real interest in, but this year I liked the sound of all the nominees for Best Picture.  So yes, I watched the whole thing, start to finish.  I loved the opening number with Justin Timberlake performing his Best Song nominee "Can't Stop the Feeling" (I do believe it was my anthem for 2016!).  I also thought Jimmy Kimmel was a hilarious host and enjoyed almost all of his bits, including his opening monologue, the tour bus surprise, the Oscars mean tweets segment, candy and doughnuts parachuting down from the sky, tweeting at Trump ("u up? #merylsayshi"), and his on-going fake feud with Matt Damon.  

Of course, the Oscars always drag on way past their allotted time slot, and many times during the evening I thought of packing it in, but thanks to my afternoon of sleep and this nagging feeling of "I don't want to miss something", I hung in there.  And boy, was I glad I did.  I STILL can't believe the blunder that happened in the end with the final award of the night for Best Picture.  I thought presenter Warren Beatty was just being silly, dragging things out extra long, with his big pause and search of the envelope, but now in retrospect, I can see he was just really, really confused.  (I also think it was kind of assholey of him to pawn the problem off on Faye Dunaway, but whatever).  She announced La La Land as the much-anticipated winner, and then the whole cast and crew flooded up onto the stage.  As the producers were giving their acceptance speeches, I could tell something was wrong.  Confused looks from the crew up on stage, then the appearance of Oscar producers on-stage wearing headsets, checking the envelope, more confusion and whispers starting to bubble up... then finally, one of the La La Land producers stepped forward to say, "Guys, no...there's been a mistake... Moonlight, you won Best Picture. Please come up here."

Jaws literally dropped.  Mine included.  Flashbacks of Steve Harvey and the whole Miss Universe debacle.  Was this really happening at THE OSCARS?!?!  I still don't understand what happened, exactly.  Beatty and Dunaway were given the wrong envelope, and that's why he was so confused - the card read "Emma Stone - La La Land", and she had just been awarded Best Actress shortly before, so they obviously had been given that envelope again.  I guess what should have happened once Beatty realized he had the wrong card, he should have said, "Um, wait a minute...something's not right here"... but put in that moment, on the spot, I'm not sure I'd have done it any differently than he did.  

It was very classy of the La La Land crew to clarify it the second they realized what had happened, and to urge the Moonlight crew to come up on-stage immediately, but talk about awkward.  I thought it was awful for all involved.  Awful for the La La Land crew who thought they had won and were giving speeches, only to find out their dream was dashed.  Awful for the Moonlight crew, who lost out on that big winning moment and instead were caught up in the awkwardness and confusion.  Awful for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who weren't really responsible for the mistake, yet took blame for delivering it.  The saving grace was Jimmy Kimmel, who easily stepped in and tried to rectify the situation, even accepting the blame himself as he said, "I knew I was going to mess this up somehow, I promise I'll never come back" - despite the fact he had nothing to do with it either.  Seriously...still can't believe it happened!

Monday I was off, of course, so I had booked a Paint Day with my neighbour Shannon (who is no longer really my neighbour, but she's not far away, so I still call her my neighbour lol).  It felt like I hadn't painted in forever, so I was excited to get back at it, this time painting chickadees!  Many of my paintings have a blue/purple colour scheme, so I decided to do that for a background instead of the bright green/yellow one she had done.  I ended up LOVING it!!  It was a great way to cap off a wonderful weekend :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A few changes, a few goals...

Anyone who has seen me over the past year knows that I've been on a severe downward slide since losing a bunch weight around the time of my 30th birthday.  I kept somewhat on track until after my friends' weddings the summer before last, but then it was like I threw caution to the wind and returned to my old unhealthy habits.  I didn't do it consciously, though.  In my head, I was still trying.  It was one little thing at a time - cancelling my Shakeology (cost too much), changing my workouts to less intense programs, treating myself more often, a few pounds here and there, declarations of "I'm OK being this weight - as long as I don't gain anymore!".  Then suddenly - BAM - I'm back up, closer to the weight I was at 3 1/2 years ago than I ever thought I'd allow myself to be.

It was my biggest fear after I dropped the weight.  I was so worried I'd let myself backslide.  And here I am.  Willpower shot, disappointed in myself, and craving all the junk food in the world.  I let it happen.  

HOW did I let it happen?!?

OK.  That's enough of that.  I hate berating myself over this stuff.  I've always said this is a journey that I'll never be done with - it will be a challenge for me my entire life - and this is just another stop along the way.

So.  What am I going to do about it?

I've decided this time I want to tackle it in smaller ways.  No big "Lose 30 lbs before my birthday" promises.  Just a few small tweaks I want to make to get myself back on a healthy path.  I already have kept some healthy practices, and I know the way to go about things, so it shouldn't have to be a giant leap.  It should be easy.

First of all, it's a promise to be active 5-6 times a week.  You might be thinking, "But Jill... you already do that, don't you?"  Confession:  Since Christmas, I have fallen off the work-out wagon, hard.  I was making up excuses, and my rigid vow to get up early every morning to do a half-hour workout 6 days a week had fallen by the wayside.  I was giving myself a pass more days than not. Since our trip to Florida, I haven't gotten up early at all.  I still try to be active every day, but I've been hit or miss at best.  

Here's the thing:  I loathe getting up early.  I forced myself, I made it a habit, but I never liked getting up at 5:30.  So why continue making myself do something I hate?  I used to work out in the evenings all the time, and only did early mornings if I knew I wouldn't have time at night.  So that's the new plan.  Forget the earlier wake-up.  Just make damn sure I get some exercise in later in the day.  My noon-hour 15 minutes walks will continue, weather permitting, and after work I will go for another walk (maybe start up jogging again), or snowshoe while I can, or curling, or whatever other kind of physical activity I might find myself enjoying.  And if it's not nice out, then do a work-out video (I have a wide selection to choose from), or my other favourite "workout" lately, which is putting on good tunes and just dancing around (Zumba-style) for at least half an hour.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  And if there are plans on for the evening, then and only then will I force myself to get up earlier.  The "being active" portion of the day is non-negotiable.

So then, we have the food problem.  Which, really, is the bigger problem here.  I love food.  I love food that is bad for me.  I crave junk.  All the time.  And if I'm eating something I love, I always want more.  I eat larger portions.  I go back for seconds.  I don't have a shut-off valve. I eat until I'm painfully full.  And I hate vegetables.


How do I remedy this?  Well, Lent is conveniently about to begin - in exactly one week - and I have decided to go with my trusty ol' standby of giving up potato chips.  Yes, I'm back in the vicious chip-and-dip cycle, snacking on them almost every night, and I don't just eat "a few".  So it's time to say good-bye.  I always tend to stick to my Lenten promises better than anything else, so it should work out well.  I'm toying with the idea of giving up potatoes in general (french fries and poutine are always on my mind, not even joking) but not sure I can make that commitment... I'm thinking about it, though.

Another goal I'm trying to put into effect is "forget sugar - eat fruit".  I am trying ever so hard to get rid of the leftover Christmas baking in my freezer, as it is a constant temptation.  Replace my daily sweets indulgences with fruit.  I love fruit, so why not eat more of it?  Easy peasy.

I'm also thinking I should go back to logging all my food and exercise with Myfitnesspal.  It keeps me mindful of what's going in my mouth, portion sizes, etc.  I hate that calorie counting has to be part of my life, and my goal has always been to just learn to "eat right' and I wouldn't have to do that, but as we can see, I have failed miserably in that endeavour.  So back to tracking and logging, if I must.

The idea, at it's core, is to "eat less - move more".  I don't want to take a meal replacement shake. I don't want to weigh myself obsessively.  I don't want to take progress pictures.  I just want my clothes to fit me again, to not hate what I see in a photo of myself, to get some of that good mojo I had a few years ago back again.

Baby steps this time.  And hopefully once I get a few of these small practices back in place, big results will follow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Weekend Rewind

Happy Tuesday, friends!  This past weekend was a wonderful, relaxing, thoroughly enjoyable one!  For one thing, it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL out - spring-like temperatures, melting snow, lots of sunshine.  And while I for one am not quite ready for winter to disappear just yet, it does seem like many people around here really needed that nice weekend.  For them, I am happy.

As I'm still on short work weeks during the down time of winter, my weekend started out on Thursday evening at the curling rink, where we not only won our game, but I felt like it was my best game yet.  I seriously still have no idea what I'm doing most of the time, but I just felt more comfortable sliding out from the hack and it seemed my rocks landed in good territory more often than not.  Thank the Lord Jesus.  I was starting to think I was never going to get any good at this game!  We played late game, and then we sat around having a few drinks afterwards (perhaps a few too many for me...eep!) and didn't get home til after midnight.  It was a fun night!

Friday morning was slow-going for me (read above: too many curling rink beers), but I forced myself up and to get ready, as I was joining Lindsay for a trip to Ladysmith.  Our company snowmobile trip was on Friday, and for the first time ever, I was able to join them for lunch at the Ladysmith Hotel! (Linds and I opted to drive there by car, snowmachining for us. lol)  I hadn't been there in ages, so I was excited to be able to go.  Even if none of the guys seemed to want to sit with us. HA!

After lunch, I quickly grabbed a few necessities at the grocery store before returning home to nap.  I needed to catch some z's after the late night the night before, so I could be rested up for a snowshoeing adventure that night!  My friend Sharon picked me up early evening, and we headed out for an evening of snowshoeing at Pine Lodge with Lolly, Shelley, and Ally.  We had gone the week before, and loved the trails there, so we were back for more.  We did a lot of laughing and singing and joking around... always so much fun!  I adore snowshoeing!!
(photo cred to Lolly)
Saturday morning was the only crappy part of my weekend, and that was because I had a crappy job to do:  cleaning the house.  I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't cleaned, aside from the odd sweeping here and there, since I took Christmas decorations down in early January.  Eeek!  Granted, I live alone, and I don't "create" a lot of dirt, and I was away for one whole week, but still... the dust bunnies were starting to give birth to new dust bunnies.  It was a job I could no longer avoid.  (Despite Brenda and Sue's best efforts to get me to ditch it and join them at the curling rink. lol!)

Even though I had dreaded cleaning, it felt so good to have it done.  And to have it done early enough that I could still get out and enjoy the gorgeous afternoon!  After a quick lunch, I ventured out for a nice long walk in the warm sunshine.  It was up to +10 on Saturday!  I couldn't believe after months of cold and snow, I actually got to walk in a light sweater and vest.  The only (small) issue was the melting snow caused huge puddles and my feet got soaked.  Oh well... it was worth it!

The rest of the day, I watched Netflix (soooo into the Gilmore Girls right now!) made homemade pizza for supper, and watched the Sens beat the Leafs.  OH!  And I enjoyed a little treat I'd picked up the day before getting groceries - I finally found Ben & Jerry's "The Tonight Dough" ice cream at our local grocery store!  I will buy ANYthing that has Jimmy Fallon's face on it! ;)

Sunday was church, and out for breaky afterwards with the fam.  I had no plans for the rest of the day, other than hanging out with Mom, so I decided to do a little snowshoeing around her place.  She has great next-door neighbours with big expanses of yard on either side of her, and I didn't think they'd mind if I tramped a trail through parts of their property.  I spent a good 45 minutes out enjoying yet another beautiful day outdoors.  Who knew this couch potato would like playing out in the snow so much! ;)

Yesterday was "Family Day" for a many of my friends and family, but for me, just another good ol' Monday off. ;)  I got a start on laundry, then made homemade cream of celery soup for lunch.  It was aaaaaamazing - definitely satisfied the craving I've had for it lately!  Soooo good!

I went for another nice long walk after lunch, enjoying yet ANOTHER beautiful day!  A bit colder, but the sun was brilliant and the snow was still melting like crazy.  I watched some more Gilmore Girls, then got to work getting supper ready, which was actually inspired by an episode of the show!  In an ep I watched the other day, Richard makes a favourite meal from his childhood which he calls "Johnny Machete".  I googled it, and couldn't find much, but there were a few articles on it, and how they believe it is actually a dish called "Johnny Marzetti".  There are literally a hundred different variations, that I made the one most appealing to me, and invited my mom over for supper.  Really, it wasn't much different from my usual pasta-hamburger-sauce-cheese concoctions, but still a yummy supper.

Yesterday was also the day my new snowshoes arrived from Amazon - yeah!!  I have been borrowing a pair from Jared for the past few weeks, so it's nice to now have my own set.  I just had to break them in last night, as the warm temperatures and rain in the forecast this week make me fear the snowshoeing days are drawing to a close for the season.  :(  I'm so sad it took me so long to discover my love for this outdoor winter activity!  Anyways, I took them up to Mom's to do the trail I had made the day before, so I got another good half hour out there of fresh air and exercise.  It was a great way to cap off a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Things

Well, I didn't intend to take such a long blogging break prior to my Florida post, but such is life these days!  I thought I'd play a little catch-up this Thursday, and share what's been up in my world since returning from our trip.

  • As I mentioned yesterday, things have been a little wintery around here lately.  I thank my lucky stars that I actually enjoy the snow - and that I generally don't have far to travel in it - because it makes this time of year much more enjoyable!  If I'm being honest, I've always enjoyed winter more from indoors.  I like looking out the window watching snowglobe-snow fall, I like being cozy inside while I hibernate, making pots of soup, watching movies, eating popcorn, sipping hot chocolate, reading while hunkered down under a blanket... yes, I can romanticize winter very well!  
  • But this year, I've also made an effort to start taking part in winter activities.  I joined our local community's non-competitive curling league, and then just last weekend I tried snowshoeing for the first time.  While I'm still far from being a good curler, I actually find myself looking forward to Thursday nights now instead of dreading them (I had a rocky start with the game, I was tempted to quit several times...) AND I absolutely LOVE snowshoeing!  So much so that I went on Amazon this week and bought my own pair.  I can't wait for them to arrive, and find myself hoping this snowy weather lasts a while longer so I can put them to good use.
  • I mentioned in my post yesterday that I was all wrapped up in the book "All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda while in Florida.  I gobbled that book up like candy, finishing it in less than a week.  I did have extra downtime and reading time in FLA, of course, but I hardly ever get through a book that fast.  LOVED it.  I'm now reading "Reconstructing Amelia" by Kimberly McCreight, and having trouble getting into it.  I feel like it didn't get a fair chance, though, because the book that comes after a really amazing one almost always seems to fall short.
  • You know what else is like candy to me these days?  Gilmore Girls.  LOVE my Gilmore Girls!  I can't wait to get home at night to settle in and watch a few episodes.  I'm about half-way through Season 3 now, and it just keeps getting better.  (I struggled through the first and part of the second seasons, but kept going because if Jimmy Fallon likes it, I MUST like it!)  Someone please tell me that Luke & Lorelai eventually get together... they HAVE to get together!!
  • I finally sat down to watch Deadpool the weekend after we got back from Florida, and it was awesome.  I'm normally not much of a superhero-movie type of girl, but I think that's why this one appealed - it was kind of the anti-superhero-movie. With a little love story. And it was sooo funny.  Ryan Reynolds.  He's my boy.
  • Speaking of Canadian Ryans... I also saw La La Land last weekend, because I have heard so much about it, and, well... Ryan Gosling.  It seems people either love it or hate it, and it's nominated for so many awards, I just had to see what it was all about.  I honestly came out of there not sure what to think... I liked it.  I wouldn't say I loved it, though.  It wasn't as hard-core musical as I expected it to be.  And the ending didn't quite go the way I thought it would.  But yeah...I liked it.
  • And I know this is a tough debate, but in a head-to-head battle of the Ryans, I'm going with Reynolds.  I mean, in Deadpool, he had a pizza-face for most of it, and I STILL thought he was sexy as hell.  And that sense of humour... man.  Yeah. He takes it. (but Gosling ain't half bad either).
  • I don't know if it's because I'm getting older and my tastes are evolving or what, but I don't remember ever being so interested in seeing so many of the movies nominated for Oscars before.  In the Best Picture category, I've only actually seen La La Land, but almost all of the rest sound very good and I'd like to see them, especially Lion, Hidden Figures, Fences, and Arrival.
  • On a little downside, I'm having headache problems again.  I had a doctor's appointment before we went on our trip, and we discussed my headaches, which I thought were sinus related since i always feel like I need to sneeze but can't.  He prescribed me a nasal spray which I started using the next day, and did not have a headache the whole time we were gone, so I thought the spray was working.  Well, not so much.  Since we've been home, I feel like I've had a headache almost every day.  Not like a migraine - I can still function, I can still work, but it just nags away, this building pressure that no Tylenol or Advil or Magic bags seem to be able to relieve, and I can't seem to make myself sneeze.  It just has to go away on it's own. SO annoying.
  • So, Valentine's Day was this week.  As we all know, not my most favourite day of the year.  I try not to let it bother me, but the mushy-gushyness on Facebook this year seemed to be extra ramped up.  And I don't blame them.  If I was in love, I'd be blasting it from the rooftops too.  It does make me feel better that quite a few of my friends reassure me it's no big day in their world either, and most of them don't do anything special to mark the occasion, but...yeah. It still kinda sucks.  No matter how hard I try not to care, to laugh it off, to treat myself and say "WHO NEEDS A MAN!"'s still kind of a blue day for me.  That said, it was very sweet to have a V-day surprise from Danica and Caden (and my mom) that morning, as well as a V-day treat from Sam when I got to work, and a V-day gift from my sister too.  Good peeps, all of 'em.
  • I'm looking ahead at a pretty low-key quiet weekend, and I'm glad for it.  Tomorrow is my day off, and because it's the MVT Snowmobile Day, I'm going to meet them in Ladysmith for lunch, and possibly going snowshoeing tomorrow night.  I have a few recipes I want to try out over the weekend - one for Cream of Celery soup (my mom made this a few weeks ago and I've been craving it ever since), and one for Easy Pierogi Casserole.  And, no more ways around it - I've been avoiding it for too long - my house MUST get cleaned on Saturday.  Absolute MUST!!  Otherwise, it will be Netflix and movies and couch time for me. Just the way I like it. ;)
Happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Little Slice of Florida Sunshine

Most of my family and friends are complaining about this never-ending winter.  We've had a lot of snow lately, and many are saying they are "so done" with winter.  As you all know, I'm a snow lover, so it's not bothering me one bit.  Then again, I got a bit of a break from Canadian Winter just a few short weeks ago, so I guess it makes it easier to deal with!

So for those of you who are hating the cold and snow, I hope you soak up some warmth from these photos from our Florida trip as I take a few minutes to recap an amazing week...

My mom and I boarded a plane in Ottawa on January 25th, and it was note-worthy as it was my mom's first time flying!

Mom was a very calm and relaxed flier - much better than I am at it!  Thankfully, the airport stuff that stresses me out went very smoothly, and several hours later, we landed in Fort Lauderdale to begin our week of fun in the sun.

My Aunt Linda & Uncle Paul have a condo in North Palm Beach, so that was our home base for the duration of the trip.  They met us at the airport and before we knew it, we were "home".  We had drinks and snacks that first evening as Mom & I unwound from our day of travel.

The next morning, we were up & ready for a day out on the boat.  Their condo community is right on Lake Worth, so we toured around and they showed us the Palm Beach area by water.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm happiest when I'm on the water, so a beautiful day on the boat was heaven to me! They told me to keep my eyes peeled for dolphins, but we didn't see any, nor any manatees despite many signs warning of them being in the area.  Oh well!  It was hard to disappoint me on this day.  I had a grin from ear-to-ear for most of it :)

 I had no idea I was heading into Trump Land on this trip.  Even though I'm far from a fan of the current US President, and had a difficult time hearing of some of his decisions while we were in Florida, I was still quite interested to see his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago (pictured above), as well as some other Trump "hot spots" while we were there.

(I was basically mesmerized by pelicans and palm trees those first few days. LOL!)

When we got back from our boat ride, I took a walk to explore the condo community, read for a while, and then after our "happy hour" drinks (one of my favourite parts about being in FLA was the daily "happy hour" drinks & snacks which my aunt & uncle served up!) - we headed out to PF Chang's for dinner.  It was a great first full day in Florida!

Friday was our day to tour the Palm Beach area by land, as we went on a driving tour of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, this time seeing Mar-a-Lago more up close.

We stopped mid-afternoon for a bite to eat at a place called The Sailfish Marina, and I loved it there!

We finished the tour by stopping at the infamous "Orange Store" that we had been hearing so much about from Aunt Linda and Uncle Paul.  There, we enjoyed the samples of fresh orange juice and picked up our souvenirs for family and friends back home.  When we got back to the condo, we relaxed, read some more (I was SO into my book, "All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda!) enjoyed "happy hour" and then headed out for a delicious dinner at Brio Tuscan Grille.  Yum!!

Saturday morning we were all up early and ready to embark on a cross-state trip to visit our family members on the west coast of FLA.  We went north, past Lake Okeechobee, and I must say this drive was a little on the boring side - but we had been well warned! haha!  Lots of fields, cows, orange groves...but not much else. ;) Oh, I did see a few sod farms though!  One in particular caught my eye.  It made me think that we need some giant bronze statues of lions and elephants for the gate at Mountainview. haha!!!

It was great to finally land in Sarasota and settle in with the Draper gang, who had a house rented there.

We spent the afternoon visiting and gearing up for Miss Grace's early birthday celebration.  She was so excited for her party!  We enjoyed an amazing steak bbq dinner, and fro-yo birthday cake for dessert while toasting the birthday girl.

One of my favourite moments of this night came when we somehow ended up talking about one of my mom's cousins, Merlin, and I said I always liked the names he picked for his dogs, like 'Whizbang'.  Dave said, "Yes, and before Whizbang, there was 'Spindlefahrt'."  Naturally, the kids thought that name was pretty hilarious, and Dillon started taunting Grace by calling her 'Spindlefahrt'.  She finally, quite innocently, exclaimed, "I'm not Spindlefahrt!!!  I'm PRINCESS SPINDLEFAHRT!!!"  I'm not sure I've ever laughed so hard in my life!

The next morning, my cousin Dave loaded us into their rental van and took us on a tour of Sarasota and Longboat Key.  It was a cool and rainy day, but before we left, Aunt Marion insisted they let me out to dabble my toes in the Gulf of Mexico.  I wasn't going to argue!  Even on a dark and dreary day, being on Bradenton Beach and having my toes in the salt water was one of my favourite parts of the trip.

I have always loved the famous photograph of a sailor impuslively kissing a nurse in the middle of Times Square on V-J Day, so of course, I HAD to stop and get my picture taken with the statue depicting that moment!  Thank you to Dawn for jumping out in the rain to snap the pic for me :)
After our quick tour of that area, we were back on the road again, this time heading up the coast to Clearwater, where even more of our Snowbird family members call home!  We had a wonderful lunch with Aunt Nora and Uncle Elson at their Florida home, and even got in a quick visit with my cousin Matt and his wife Cheryl, who live just a few minutes away.
We crossed the Skyway bridge to get to Clearwater... it was magnificent!!!
 Pretty sure Key Lime pie is a must when in Florida, am I right? ;)

We were at Uncle Elson & Aunt Nora's on the day of their grand-daughter (my little cousin) Madison's 2nd birthday, so we Facetimed with her back home, to sing Happy Birthday and send birthday love from Florida, as you can see in the two photos above. :)

We were back to Sarasota by evening for a late dinner at Aunt Marion & Uncle Eric's, this time bbq'd shish-kebabs.  Ohhhh the tastes of summer!  Makes me look forward to bbq season! ;)

Monday morning, we were up and ready to head back across the state to North Palm Beach.  We took a different route this time, going south down the coast for a quick visit of Naples, then back across the state via Alligator Alley.  (Sadly, not an alligator to be seen!)

Once we were back in North Palm Beach, we stopped to get some fresh shrimp for that evening's happy hour, and we also had to grab an ice cream cone.  Another summery taste!  I had a flavour I'd never seen before called "Garbage Can" - I had to get it on the name alone! LOL!  It was vanilla ice cream with 7 different name-brand chocolate bar chunks in it.  Soooo good!

We were back in time for me to catch the last rays of the day at the pool, before we enjoyed our fresh shrimp during happy hour, and then spent a low-key evening after our busy weekend by ordering in pizza and watching The Bachelor on TV.

With our trip quickly winding down, I knew I needed to get some solid time in the sun, and thus declared Tuesday my day at the pool.  Mom and Aunt Linda went shopping while Uncle Paul and I staked out our lounge chairs by the pool.  I literally spent the entire day soaking up the rays, reading my book, listening to tunes on my iPhone, and had a little dip in the warm water.  It was the PERFECT day!!

That evening, we headed across the street to the local sports bar, Duffy's, for dinner.  Of course, I had to pause for a quick pic by Uncle Paul's convertible! hee hee!

And that was a wrap on our last full day in Florida!

But wait...there was still so much to do!!!!

We maximized the fun on our last day in North Palm Beach, as we visited the nearby "turtle hospital" - Loggerhead Marine Life Center - where they care for sick or injured sea turtles, rehabilitate them and nurse them back to health before returning them to their natural habitat.  It was so neat to see.  I kept thinking of my friend Brenda, who loves turtles.  I imagined she'd have loved this place!!

After our visit at the turtle hospital, Mom and Aunt Linda returned to the condo, while Uncle Paul took me for a quick visit to Juno Beach.  I just couldn't leave Florida without some sunshine and down time on a white sand beach!

As I've said, anytime I'm on the water, my heart is happy, so I truly embraced this time spent at Juno Beach, and enjoyed every moment.  The surreal blue water, the brightly shining sun, the laughter of people playing in the surf, the relaxing sound of the waves lapping on the beach and the squawk of the gulls... it was heaven.  Pure heaven!

Sadly, this beach day couldn't last forever, as our time in Florida was quickly drawing to a close.  After a quick bite to eat at the condo, we packed up our bags and were headed back to Fort Lauderdale for our early evening flight home.

While I was sorry to be saying good-bye to the gorgeous weather and great times with family, I was also anxious to get back home to my "things".  I'm a home-girl at the core, so I was ready for my own bed, my own surroundings, my own stuff.  And yes... the snow.  Call me crazy, but I really did miss the snow!!!

The trip home always seems to take longer for some reason, but thankfully I had a cute little wildman in front of my on the plane who kept me entertained! haha!  He was trying to climb over the seat to me, and also kept trying to block my view of my in-flight movie of choice.
(yeah... I watched Trolls.  And I loved it.)

As wonderful as it was to get away, it was just as wonderful to touch back down in Ottawa in the middle of the night.  We were met by my BIL Chris, and we were also met by... winter.  Stepping out of the airport into that cold winter's night... well, it was a bit of a shock, I admit!  And we ended up driving home in snow, but how could it have been anything else?  Welcome home to Canada!!!

Truly, it was a fabulous week, and I am so thankful to Aunt Linda and Uncle Paul, Aunt Marion and Uncle Eric, David, Dawn, Dillon and Grace, Aunt Nora and Uncle Elson, and Matt & Cheryl for showing us such a great time on our first visit to the Sunshine State!  We got to see so much in such a short time, and we had the very best tour guides you could ever hope for.  I'm already looking forward to returning someday. :)

Thanks for the memories, FLORIDA!!!!