Catching Up

The last few months have been a whirlwind. Event after event has taken place, and I have just had so much going on I haven’t found the time to sit down and chronicle it all. That is the case, yes, but I also made the conscious decision to be as present as I could possibly be for it all. There were happy and fun moments, frustrating moments, stressful moments… I experienced it all through the eyes of someone who was actually there for it all and not worrying about something like writing a blog post about it just to stick to a schedule I created for myself in my head. Things have slowed down, and now I am finally back to enjoy the summer and get back to some of the little things I do really enjoy like blogging. It’s time to catch up now! And catching up takes us back to the end of April…

On April 30, an event took place in London called the London Game Crawl. It took place on International Table Top Day and it was all quite fitting. It was my first event with a new friend: Jen, a coworker at my new job whom I discovered is a) super awesome and b) a fellow nerd. Since then we have done tons of things and had lots of fun together… But back to the Game Crawl now. Several local shops participated and we played lots of games and even collected a free London Game Crawl edition of the game Love Letter for attending. It was a lot of fun.

On Friday May 6, I met several more new people as I went to see Captain America: Civil War with Jen and her husband and daughter and several of their friends. GREAT MOVIE and great company as well. The next day was Free Comic Book Day and I met up with Jen and a few others bright and early in the morning for the festivities. I pulled out the TARDIS dress and my light-up headband and didn’t feel the tiniest bit out-of-place. We managed to make it to every comic book shop that was participating in FCBD, while also avoiding the rain, and discovering a great local restaurant. I even ran into another friend from my old job who was dressed up as well! It was a great day all around.

Next up was my first game night with my new friends. We played a game we had discovered at the game crawl called Camel Up. Basically, you’re betting on a camel race and you win money based on how well you bet. It is a ton of fun with the right people, and I was definitely playing with the right people! I ended up live-tweeting the game because it was so hilarious. You can find those tweets looking back in my twitter feed to the right of this post.

Things just kept getting busier from this point on. I think June of 2016 was one of the busiest months I have ever had in my life. I wrote a midterm for my CIP class at the beginning of the month which I did very well on. I attended the Gathering on the Green in Wortley Village, I went to my first Paint Nite event with my friend Ash, I went to a couple more game nights, I went to see a live band on the beach in Port Stanley, I planned and executed a surprise birthday party for my Mom’s 50th with the help of my sister and my stepdad, I took my dad to a baseball game and then my sister and I took him out for dinner afterward for Fathers’ Day, I attended the Ingersoll Relay for Life for the first time as a member of my niece’s team, I went to my first Staff Appreciation Day with my new employer, attended the London International Food Festival and a cookout at a friend’s place, and all the while I was studying for my final for my CIP course which took place just two days ago. Oh, and I donated blood somewhere in there too. I have been a very busy girl! But it was all a ton of fun and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The reasons for my long absence…in a nutshell. I’m nervous about my final, but I won’t find out how I did for probably a month or so. Since I have to wait so long, there is really no point in working myself up over it. I have a life to live, though hopefully not so crazy a one as I have been living up to this point this summer.

I have also been trying to focus on my second attempt at a life reboot. As you can probably imagine, I have been doing well with some things but not with others. I am attributing much of it to the stress I was putting myself through while trying to study and prepare for my exam. Turns out that after a seven-year break from writing them, I get some massive test anxiety when they come back around! That stress made a number of other things harder as well.I am hoping though, that now I know what to expect, the next one won’t be so bad.

I’ve been crocheting a bit, but I haven’t made much progress on my blanket for quite a long time. Most recently I have been working on dish cloths: a set for my mom for her birthday, and a set for my sister as a housewarming gift since she moved recently.

Work has been going well; I am transitioning a bit as the way things work was changed just this week. Tobi is doing well too! She is as snuggly and adorable as ever. We have had a great time just chilling out together over the past couple of days.

Oh! And I can’t forget the latest little bit of geek that has joined my collection! Here they are:

Here’s to the rest summer of exciting weekends and being busy, but not TOO busy.

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Concert!

On Wednesday night, there was a bit of excitement happening! A friend of mine and I went to a concert. The concert was Marianas Trench, with Walk Off the Earth opening, as well as a new artist names Keiran something-or-other….. I can’t remember his last name for the life of me. It was a GREAT time aside form a minor hiccup between acts which we won’t get into. It was a lot of fun, and we danced the night away. They put on a fantastic show. Here’s a little photo story to tell you about it!

Waiting for things to start
The main opener, Walk Off the Earth. An awesome Canadian band, who are SO much fun to watch live!
First song for Marianas Trench: Astoria, from their newest album of the same name.
Josh Ramsey, lead singer of the band, performed a song on piano at the back of the stadium. It made every seat in the house a great seat!
He even came up into our section!
And things got a little bit wild!

It was a great night, and a fun thing to do on a week night. I didn’t even suffer too much the next day at work.

Eventful.

It was just a week this week aside from a milestone or two, but my weekend was quite pleasant and social. I think I am finally starting to get the hang of this whole being single and living alone thing! It hasn’t been easy, but I think I am finally starting to get it.

I mentioned a couple of milestones I accomplished. The first of these as that I have officially been discharged from my therapist. No more weekly appointments with my psychiatrist, because she thinks I’ve made enough progress that I can now tackle the world on my own. It’s quite a feeling, knowing that someone has the confidence in you that you don’t really have in yourself. In itself, it is quite a confidence-building experience. I’m very proud of myself, even though it was very hard to listen to her tell me all of the things she had noted that I have accomplished during our eighteen months working together. I had some tears in my eyes; I will admit. This week, the second milestone was that I finally wrote something. I WROTE SOMETHING. It was (only) a short piece of poetry, but I freaking WROTE SOMETHING. It makes me so happy. I’ve wanted to write something for so long and I have finally done it. It sure took me long enough! I’m not sure I feel comfortable enough to publish it here, but if you are interested in reading it, you are welcome to contact me be it via email, Facebook, Twitter or otherwise. There are many ways to contact me. I just can’t believe I have finally accomplished what I have wanted so badly. It made me a happy girl this week.

This weekend was a great weekend, very enjoyable. I spent Saturday afternoon with a dear friend gallivanting about the city and then just relaxing here at my place. We went for  fantastic lunch at the Covent Garden Market – fish and chips, and a pot of tea from The Tea Haus, which is a fantastic little local shop, by the way! I love it even more every time I go. We wandered about and visited a few different vendors before we visited Bijan’s, THE local art supply store. It has an amazing selection at very reasonable prices, and the owner is such a kind person who simply wants to make art supplies as accessible and as affordable as possible. After that we visited Michael’s, a craft store chain that seems to be pretty much everywhere, and then we went to Chapters to browse for books and colouring books, where I found the tiniest weird thing I found to be absolutely hilarious.

img_2267 We then we checked out Mary Maxim to see what they have for yarn selection. Jess found some skin toned yarn for a doll she plans to make, and I didn’t buy anything, because yarns stores are just dangerous. After we were done spending money we didn’t have, we headed back to my house where we just hung out and relaxed, while watching Jessica Jones on Netflix as she hasn’t seen it yet. I also did my laundry and a bit of cleaning while she was here, as she’s been in my life for so long I don’t feel the need to entertain her as a guest while she is here, which is great because otherwise nothing would have gotten done this weekend. I cooked dinner for us, and then she headed home later in the evening. img_2276I spent the rest of the evening colouring and watching Vikings while drinking a nice cuppa tea. I even had a random idea that I instantly fell in love with and decided to keep. It was the simplest thing, img_2281I just used one of my tea towels as a tablecloth of sorts on my night stand. It looks so great. It was a very good day.

 

I had plans for Sunday to go to some friends’ house for dinner. Ashley picked me up around 1:30 this afternoon, and we went and ran a bunch of errands before heading back to her house. We had a great visit and I got to spend tons of time with their baby girl, who is completely adorable, especially when she’s happy! img_2296And she was so happy today. We had a great meal, and some wine, and watched some Avengers while the kids played. I even got a few rows of my new scarf done, which is going to be gorgeous when it’s finally done. I left there with a full stomach, leftovers, and a few awesome little geeky items to add to my collection. A great way to wrap up a weekend!

After this week past, I am hopeful that the week to come will bring good things. I have no real plans yet, but I am optimistic that this week and the rest of this month, even this year will bring many great things for me. My, how my attitude has changed!

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Lastly, I leave you with a photo of the scarf I am currently working on. I am SO in love with the yarn AND the pattern. I can’t wait to finish it!

A Board Game Wish List

The more tabletop games I play, the more I enjoy them. I have discovered, especially recently, that board games are a great way to bring friends and family together and have tons of fun. Just last weekend I played Cards Against Humanity with my family (yes, my family!) and it was a great time; so much laughter and enjoyment. I can’t wait to play the next game with them. I’m also looking forward to my next Magic: The Gathering night!

This past week I’ve made up a bit of a board game wish list. I would love to hear your thoughts on these, as well as what board games you wish you could have!

  1. Firefly – just because I love the show…
  2. Monopoly – it’s a classic!
  3. Forbidden Island
  4. Concept
  5. Settlers of Catan
  6. Love Letter
  7. Concept
  8. Carcass one
  9. Splendour
  10. Tokaido

  

A 30 Before 30 Update

It is about five months into my 30 Before 30 project, and I thought it’s about time I wrote an update. Not all items on the list are easy to write about, and not all are worthy of posts of their own. A few of the items are quite difficult to write about while they are in progress. So here I am, writing an update post so I can include all of those things. A lot has happened and I am excited to finally write about it all.

As written about in earlier posts, I have learned to crochet. As of a couple of weeks ago, I started my blanket! It’s a bit of an eclectic thing, this blanket I am crocheting. I am using a random collection of yarns scraps and small balls of yarn I have acquired over the past few months. They are different colours and textures, and I think this blanket might end up being the ugliest blanket I have ever seen!wpid-wp-1435100108442.jpgBut it has already proven great fun to crochet, and it is also teaching me how different each yarn is, so it has been an excellent learning experience so far as well. I think it is something I will be very proud of when finished. I am using the corner-to-corner afghan pattern I practiced before. It’s a very pretty pattern and I feel I have made the right choice in choosing it. Starting this blanket was a big accomplishment for me, and it’s just the beginning!

wpid-wp-1435100119716.jpgSeveral weeks ago now, Jay designed and printed an art piece for me for the bedroom based on something he included with my Valentine’s Day gift. I love it. It now sits on my nightstand, but it may move. That’s still to be determined. Either way: mission accomplished. I have more art in my bedroom!

You know, it’s really exciting to say that I have money in a savings account now. It isn’t a lot, but it is definitely there. It will come and go as I save up and buy various things, but just that there is a plan in place for saving money for one purpose or another feels pretty great. Strike that one off the list!

As of yesterday, I officially started attempt number two at a writing course. This course isn’t a “creative writing” course, but rather an effective writing course. I’ve completed the first module, and I already feel like this is a good choice now. I definitely won’t regret it. It’s a course  reviewing the basics of speech, writing and grammar; the “tools of the trade” so to speak. I figure it never hurts to review the basics periodically. This course will give me a good foundation for future writing attempts.

Reading a lot is also very good for writing, and so far I have managed to read two contemporary fiction novels out of the goals of five I set for myself. They were The Luminaries by Eleanor Carton and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I also have two now  in progress: The Quest by Nelson DeMille and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have actually surprised myself with how quickly this item on my list has moved along.

I find I am always learning new things these days. It’s hard to find just one thing I’ve learned to share on my list. I’ve found that a lot of the things I have learned have been about personal growth. Others are interesting facts or skills. Here is my list so far:

  1. The Bystander Effect – the more people there are around, the less likely a person will react to a situation (i.e. seeing someone being attacked) (Jan 2015)
  2. I can control my path. I’ve just kind of let things happen for so long. I know now that I have complete control over where my life goes and what I do with it. My confidence has increased since I learned this. (Feb 2015)
  3. I have a lot more value than I think I do. I don’t often think about the impact I have or have had on others’ lives. A few conversations have taken place recently to help me have a better grasp of the value I do have – to myself and others. (Mar 2015)
  4. I learned the basics of building a Magic:The Gathering deck! (Apr 2015)
  5. Set backs do not equal failure. I had a major setback this month, with the help of Jay and my therapist, I have come to better understand that a setback is just that: a setback. It doesn’t mean I have failed at the task at hand. (May 2015)

I will soon be adding June’s item. Not sure what it will be yet!

I’ve added another local restaurant and new food to the list as well. I wrote about them both just last week. Here are the lists so far as a recap:

Try 3 local restaurants I’ve never tried before:

  1. The Byron Freehouse
  2. The Early Bird Cafe

Try 5 brand new foods:

  1. El Diablo hot chocolate – Feb 14, 2015
  2. “The Closer”: a deep-fried chicken sandwich – Apr 18, 2015
  3. Turducken Deli Club – Jun 13, 2015

I will be sad when these items are completed. It has been so much fun so far.

This next item, I am not at all surprised that I have crossed it off the list. I have watched twelve new movies already. It was incredibly easy to complete this item. I didn’t even have to try that hard. These are the movies I watched:

  1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Jan 11, 2015)
  2. The Fault in Our Stars (Feb 6, 2015)
  3. There Will Be Blood (Feb 21, 2015)
  4. Jupiter Ascending (Feb 28, 2015)
  5. Kingsman:The Secret Service (Mar 6, 2015)
  6. Anna Karenina (Mar 7, 2015)
  7. 21 Jump St (Apr 20, 2015)
  8. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Apr 25, 2015)
  9. The Host (May 16, 2015)
  10. Mirror, Mirror (May 16, 2015)
  11. Legion (June 6, 2015)
  12. The Great Gatsby (June 8, 2015)

I enjoyed some more than others. My favourites were probably The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Watch them!

As I wrote about way back in February, I am  still hoping to host or at the very least collaborate on a proper game night at some point this summer. I had originally discussed planning it as a joint venture with my sister, but I am unsure. Currently the time and place is yet to be determined. I also hope to have more games to play along with Forbidden Desert, even though it is a great game.

As you have read here, a lot of movement has been made on this list, even though it doesn’t seem like many things have been crossed off. The items I have made progress on are the ones that tend to involve many steps, and may seem kind of daunting. Thankfully it wasn’t! It has been quite fun and enjoyable so far. I look forward to continuing to tick things off my list, and sharing more of my progress here on the blog.

The Early Bird

wpid-wp-1434291640912.jpegOn Saturday Grandma and I had another outing. This time it was my treat. We made plans weeks ago to get together and have a trip to the city’s core using public transit. Grandma had never been on a bus in Canada before yesterday and she is all for having new experiences! She had many yesterday, including going into her first comic book shop. She thoroughly enjoyed the day, just as I did.

We took the opportunity to try another new restaurant. This time we went to The Early Bird. It is a diner located here in London that was featured on The Food Network, and has quite a reputation in the city. I have heard more than once that if you’re visiting London, you have to go there at least once. I have lived in this city for five years, and on Saturday I ate at The Early Bird for the first time.

The décor is fun, and could be described as a bit “hipsterish”. There are old records on the walls, Elvis busts, movie and concert posters, and other random items including some bird cages. The walls are turquoise and pink, the bench seats are sparkly white vinyl and the chairs are zebra print. You wouldn’t think it would work, but somehow it does, and it makes for a cozy atmosphere.wpid-wp-1434291572705.jpeg And the food…the food I just fantastic. It’s diner food with a super delicious twist. I now understand why they say if you come to London you need to eat at The Early Bird at least once!

Their menu has a great selection but it isn’t too big, which helps with the already difficult decision of what to order.

After much deliberation, I finally settled on the Turducken Deli Club. It is a clubhouse sandwich with shaved turkey breast, breaded chicken breast, duck bacon, arugula, and maple mayo…maybe some other things but I can’t remember. It is one of their signature dishes. Grandma decided to have a little breakfast for lunch and ordered the french toast. It included three slices of french toast, and lots of fruit and berries piled on top. Our server took our orders in a timely manner, and was very personable considering the place very busy. Our drinks arrived quickly, and our food came to our table in a reasonable amount of time as well. I couldn’t believe what I saw when our food arrived at the table.wpid-wp-1434291640913.jpeg

The sandwich was MASSIVE! And delicious, I might add! I ate the whole thing, even though it seemed like a daunting task at first glance. Grandma’s french toast was a giant serving as well. Three slices as thick as my sandwich bread. I think it was the same bread with berries and fruit piled high on top of it all. Grandma was in shock at the amount of food on her plate. She enjoyed as much of it as she could. We were both stuffed, like we were after The Byron Freehouse, by the time we finished eating. It was excellent, and I will be returning.

The rest of the outing consisted of walking through the Covent Garden Market, wandering around the Dundas Street festival, and a bit of window shopping along Richmond Row. We managed to kill about five hours by the time we made it back to my apartment. It was a really great day. A great day that included trying a new restaurant AND a new food!

The Byron Freehouse

A week ago Sunday my Grandma and I got together for our traditional birthday lunch. Every year she takes me out for lunch on my birthday. We visit and talk; generally enjoying each other’s company for the afternoon. My Grandma’s birthday is actually less than a week after mine, so it is a bit of a treat for both of us. This lunch doesn’t always happen near our birthdays, but it always happens eventually. A couple of years back it didn’t happen until June, but that was okay. It is always a great opportunity to spend time with her, no matter when it happens.

Last year, we went to a restaurant she had never been to before and she really enjoyed it. She always has me choose where we go, so this year I decided we would try another new place since last year was such a success. I chose a smaller local restaurant called the Byron Freehouse.

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The Byron Freehouse isn’t far from where I live. It is located in Byron, a suburb of London, on the “main drag”. It’s not a big place, and it has a nice laid back atmosphere. It almost has the feel of a bar and grill, but not quite. It still feels a bit more like a restaurant. Their colour choices of teal and red for the decor are fun, and really add to the atmosphere. We had a good first impression upon arriving. We arrived around 1:30pm and were seated right away. Menus were provided and our drink orders taken moments later. The choice on the menu was varied, but not too large. Grandma and I both had trouble choosing just one option from the menu. After some discussion, we settled on some deep-fried pickles to start, a beef and swiss sandwich with fries for Grandma, and a southern fried chicken sandwich with fries for me. We received our food in a very timely fashion and it was piping hot. Our server was very on top of things. We had no complaints about the service whatsoever.

The food itself was excellent and the portion sizes were generous. The deep-fried pickles were crispy but not overdone. My sandwich was flavourful and the lettuce and onion on it were fresh and crisp. The fries were seasoned just right. Grandma was equally happy with her own meal. I would go back again and try something else on the menu for sure. Grandma agrees. We both left the Byron Freehouse full and very satisfied. I am looking forward to our next lunch date.

The added bonus to this fun day with my Grandma is that it allowed me to start working on another item on my 30 Before 30 list: one local restaurant down, two more to go! It has become so exciting to cross new things off the list. So far, this list has been an excellent idea.

A Visit with Dad

It has been a few weeks already, but at the end of September my dad flew in from out west for the first time in a couple years for an extra long weekend visit. I booked some time off work for it, and I have to say we had a pretty good time.

We spent the time catching up, visiting some of my favorite spots locally, revisiting some places I hadn’t been in years and also catching up with some family. We also participated in Doors Open London, which was a lot of fun again this year.

There were lots of chats, lots of walking (we took the bus almost everywhere) and generally a lot of fun was had. I am looking forward to another visit sooner rather than later.

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Riding the bus
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Visiting Eldon House – a favourite place of mine in the city.

BOOM! And There’s Snow (also known as My Snowy Weekend)

Wow what a weekend that was. It started out with a dreary and pretty run-of-the-mill Friday, and just got crazy from there. On Friday afternoon we learned of a cold front that was to come through over the weekend that may bring some snow squalls. We live in what is called the “snow belt” here in southwestern Ontario, so we didnt think much of it as we always get snow. I was expecting  a little more than a dusting, but we will get to that…

Saturday morning Jay and I went out looking for a festive decoration for our door and to see what kind of ornaments are available this year. After breakfast we bundled up (because it was chilly!) and headed out. We found some cute ornaments to add to our tree including some cute little footballs for the resident football fan, some shiny red snowflakes and a super cute owl. We also found a sparkly gold snowflake to hang on our apartment door. We also purchased a clear ornament to put my TUSAL threads in (even though I have dropped the ball posting for it, I plan to have a December post in before the year is out).

The first squall started to blow through while we were in the first store, but it blew through quite quickly and there wasn’t much accumulation. We managed to get all of our shopping in before the real snow began!

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The first significant squall line started to come through around 2:30pm, at which time we had tucked in for the watching of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special (which was fantastic by the way). We were home around 2pm, and were able to put up our new ornaments and our door decoration. But back to the snow. Oh boy did it snow! It snowed heavily almost nonstop for the rest of the day, through the night to the following early afternoon. We woke up to a proper winter wonderland.

Jay woke up super excited on Sunday morning wanting to go play on the snow with his truck. He talked me into going with him, so he went out and spent the half-hour I spent getting ready to unbury the truck in the parking lot. The timing worked out kind of perfectly, so I bundled up and we went on our way.

The truck was cleaned off, but the box was jam packed full of snow. The parking lots and roads and sidewalks hadn’t been ploughed yet, and in some areas the snow was easily waist high. Thanks to the 4×4 we had no issues getting going. We blazed our own trail down the roads seeing several people stuck along the way. London Transit was still running for some reason, the even the buses we saw were having some serious trouble staying in motion. Our drive culminated with doughnuts in an empty yet snow-filled parking lot and a drive down the road toward the nearby park. It looked like a quiet country road though it is actually a very busy city street. I will admit, though I was initially hesitant it turned out to be a fun trip and the snow hadn’t even finished coming down yet.

The snowfall ended right around noon and the ploughs started getting things cleared. We had a fun afternoon of visiting with friends, hot chocolate and chili, and an evening tucked in watching Jay’s team lose in the Grey Cup (think the Super Bowl of Canadian football, if you’ve never heard of it.)

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The snow was absolutely beautiful when we woke up on Sunday and everything was so quiet and peaceful in the beginning. I was sure I was ready for snow, and certainly not so large an accumulation as we received. Now that it’s here though, I do hope it stays!

Crazy Beautiful Wedding Weekend

This weekend past was quite a hectic weekend indeed. I guess it is to be expected considering it was a wedding weekend after all! And it was my step-sister’s to boot. Though it was a crazy weekend away from home it was quite enjoyable, even though I am happy to be home again!

The wedding day was a beautiful regardless of the fact that it rained for most of it and was kind of dreary when it wasn’t. Though the sun did finally break through around dinnertime, making the dinner quite lovely. The bride, my step-sister, looked absolutely radiant and the bridal party looked beautiful. The groom and groomsmen looked dashing in their tuxedos as well. The dinner was phenomenal and the venue and its staff were fantastic as well.  I was smart enough to have my camera along and I was lucky enough to be able to snap a few shots throughout the day. These were some of the best:

Flower Girl and Daughter
The Flower Girl – Also daughter of the bride
Father and Daughter
Father and Daughter
Sister - Maid of Honour and Flower Girl
Maid of Honour and Flower Girl
The Bride
The Bride
First Kiss
First Kiss
Naptime and Snuggles
Naptime and Snuggles
Pam - Bridemaid
Pam – Bridesmaid
Wedding Party
Wedding Party
Sisters
Sisters
Step-Mom (my mom) and Son of the Bride and Groom
Step-Mom and Son of the Bride and Groom
The Cake
The Cake

Now, I obviously was not the professional photographer. I am nowhere near good enough at photography to be a professional! I’m just glad I had the opportunity to take some candid shots. These are just a selection; if you would like to see me please feel free to check out my Flickr account (link in sidebar, under my About Me photo).