- I haven’t done a February or March “books I’ve read” post, as I started re-reading the Outlander series at the beginning of February, so my posts would have been super boring. I’ll pick it up again when I’m done (only 2 books to go). The non-Outlander books I read in February were: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl and The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon.
- I’ve been training for the Sun Run, which is next weekend. I’m feeling woefully unprepared, despite the fact that I’ve been running 3x a week for the majority of the year so far. I’m attempting to convince myself to not feel bad about whatever my time ends up being. The important thing is that I’m out there and exercising. It’s been a tough few months and I should be proud of myself for what I’ve been able to accomplish so far.
- Over the Easter long weekend I went to visit my parents, and we went out to one of my favourite restaurants for an early birthday meal because they were working all day on my actual birthday. Both my appetizer AND my main course were oysters. Yum!!
- I recently started watching The West Wing for the first time, and I love it! It originally aired while I was in university, and I didn’t have a TV at that time. I only watched the shows that there were big dorm parties for, like Friends and ER, so I didn’t watch much TV for those years. Anyway, I’m really enjoying it, late 90s/early 00s references aside.😉
- Every other year I have to do a bit of travel for work purposes, and this is my year again. I’m looking forward to it, even though it will be crazy busy and quite stressful. It’s always nice to visit different cities and have a change of environment every now and then.
- I have a couple concerts coming up this year that I’m SO excited about – Paul McCartney in about a week and a half, and then Adele in the summer. Hooray for live music!
Every month my friend Crystal does a post about the books she’s read that month. I love to read too, so I thought I’d share with you the books I read in the month of January.
Winds of War by Herman Wouk (last 1/4 of the book)
I picked this book up from the little library at our timeshare in Hawaii in 2014. People are free to take and leave their books, so I found this one day when I was desperate for something to read. It’s about a fictional family called the Henry’s, set during WWII. This book starts in about 1933 and ends right during Pearl Harbor. It’s a fairly decent read – the characters are compelling and even though it’s a long book and ends very abruptly, I definitely recommend it for anyone who is interested in that time period. It was also made into a TV mini-series in the 80s, which I’m going to have to check out one of these days.
I borrowed this from a co-worker. I’d heard so much buzz about it when it first came out and then when the TV show or movie was made, but I never got around to reading it. I was waiting for my Amazon order of a bunch of books to arrive, so I wanted something relatively short to read while I waited. I wasn’t a fan. It took almost half the book for me to gain a smidgen of interest in it. It did get mildly interesting after one significant event, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to buy the book or read it again. It was definitely overhyped and overrated, in my opinion.
I’ve been a fan of Maeve for as long as I can remember. I just looked over onto one of my bookshelves, and I have 13 of her books visible. I’m sure I have at least one or two more on other bookshelves or elsewhere in my apartment, but I’m fairly certain I own the majority of her writings. This was a very sweet and lovely story about a woman who moves back to her hometown and ends up starting a B&B. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the guests or staff during the first week the B&B is open, and in typical Maeve fashion, some of the storylines are bittersweet, some are happy and others are heartbreaking.
As a space nerd, I’ve had friends recommending this book to me for ages. I wanted to read it before I watched the movie, which I wanted to see before the Oscars. The book is fabulous! It’s about a botanist who is on a mission to Mars, and accidentally gets left behind by the rest of his crew. It’s all about his adventures in trying to survive on a hostile planet, contacting Earth again and then his attempt to get back home. It’s full of snark, science, humour, the word fuck, and an ending that had me on the edge of my seat. A+! I thought the movie was great too, but the book is infinitely better.
This is the (very lengthy!) conclusion to The Winds of War. This book goes from Pearl Harbor until the end of 1945-ish. This book is so much harder to read because of three characters’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps. It’s grim and horrifying but extremely well written and compelling. It took me almost the entire month to read this, because I kept having to put it down and read something more lighthearted so that I wouldn’t have nightmares. Even though I’ve already read this book once before, it was just as gripping as the first time I read it.
I’d love to know – what have you read lately?
What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I went to Italy! I wrote a ton of recaps of my adventures there. Just click on the Italy tag on the right hand side of the page if you’re interested in reading all about it.
Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I’m not much of a resolution maker, no matter the time of year.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
One friend had a baby. I’m drawing a blank about any more than that.
Did anyone close to you die?
I lost four friends. One in February, two in August (within days of each other, and both memorial services were on the same day), and one in November. 2015 was a very difficult year for losses. Two were sudden and shocking, and two were expected but still heartbreaking.
What countries did you visit?
USA, Italy and England (although that country’s visit was unplanned).
What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
A house (condo or townhouse) that I own. I’ve been in my place for 12 years now, and I’m pretty much done with living here.
What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
None in particular.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finally making my Italy trip a reality. I saved and planned for years. The last few months before the trip were really tight financially, but I made it work.
What was your biggest failure?
I can’t think of anything at the moment.
Did you suffer any illness or injury?
Nothing I can mention online right now.
What was the best thing you bought?
Two gorgeous glass necklaces in Venice and a leather purse in Florence. All three are beautiful!
Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Nobody in particular is coming to mind.
Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Americans and their guns. Too many heartbreaking days of violence and destruction this year. I really hope they get their shit together and change some laws, because the amount of people who have died or have been traumatized for life is out of control.
Where did most of your money go?
I spent a shit-load of money in Italy, but it was worth every Euro. I always over-budget for major vacations (better to have more money than not enough!), and that hugely helped me out when I came home. I had extra money left, but ended up having to spend it all right away on a new computer as mine bit the dust.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to Italy (sense a theme here?!). It was a trip I’d been dreaming of for years. It was amazing!!
What song will always remind you of 2015?
Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon and Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. So danceable and catchy!
Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder (b) thinner or fatter (c) richer or poorer?
(a) Neither. I’m not happy but I’m not sad either. 2015 was a tough year.
(b) Fatter, although I really hate that word. I really slacked off on the exercise in the last half of the year and I gained a lot of weight. I’m determined to get back on track in the new year.
(c) Richer, I guess. I got another small raise at work (yay!), but now I’m at the top of my wage grid, so future increases will come only as there’s funding. Gotta love working for non-profits!
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise, especially in the latter half of the year.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Nothing in particular.
How did you spend Christmas?
I was at my parents’ place. I didn’t sleep well that night, so I was up for the day at about 5am. Ugh. I wasn’t even excited about presents (we just do stockings, as our Hawaii trip is our annual present). But I sat in the bay window downstairs, curled up on the chair with my bathrobe, a good book and a blanket and watched the full moon set and the sun rise. It was so gorgeous and peaceful! When my parents were awake, we opened stockings and all of us had liquor of some sort in them, so we had boozy coffees as we did that. Then afterwards we had a delicious breakfast of mimosas and Eggs Benedict. We took most of the day pretty easy. I read a lot, had a few short naps, and we also took the crab trap out. I made lobster bisque for a late lunch, then we went up to visit my aunt’s family for a while. When we came back, we had a fire in the new outdoor fireplace, pulled up the crab traps (there were 3!) and then took them back to the house. We had a late dinner of crab, salads and devilled eggs, then I read more after that. I went to bed super early because I was so exhausted. It was a great day!
Did you fall in love in 2015?
What was your favourite TV program?
Some favourites have been Jane the Virgin (the lead character is SO charming & loveable!), UnREAL (dark, twisty & fascinating), Downton Abbey (yes, I watched it as it aired in the UK – none of this waiting for PBS crap.😉 ), Outlander and Younger.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t waste energy on hatred. It’s poisonous.
What was the best book you read?
Hard to pick just one! Early in the year I read The Royal We by the Fug Girls. It is SO fantastic! Charming, sweet, funny, and it’s even going to be developed into a movie. Highly recommend! I also finally finished up the Masters of Rome Series by Colleen McCullough. She died this year, so tragically there will be no more books, but all of them were fantastically well written.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn’t really discover much music this year. I’ve been a fan of Adele for years, and while I bought her new album the day it came out, I haven’t listened to it yet. I definitely will soon!
What did you want and get?
To go to Italy.
What did you want and not get?
Nothing’s coming to mind.
What was your favourite film of this year?
Star Wars!! Not that there was any kind of doubt about it. I saw it on opening day and it was amazing. Another favourite was Furious 7.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 and went up to visit my parents for the weekend, as it was also Easter. We had a nice and relaxing day, other family members came over for champagne and appys, there was an okay dinner then a fabulously delicious chocolate cappuccino torte for dessert.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less death. As I said above, 2015 was a difficult year.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Same as always: low maintenance, simple and comfortable.
What kept you sane?
My excellent support network of family and friends, as always.
What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I had to think about this one for a while. Possibly Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie on the TV show Outlander. He’s gorgeous, fit and has an accent. Swoon!
What political issue stirred you the most?
We had an election in Canada last month, so that was definitely important. I was tired and frustrated with the old leadership, and while the party I support most didn’t get into power (I knew it was never going to happen, as they’re still fairly small nation-wide), they made some good gains and got their vision out there, which is great for the future. So far our new Prime Minister has been doing well, but we’ll see how things go once the honeymoon period is over.
Who did you miss?
Friends and family. I thankfully had more time to invest in relationships this year, since training for a marathon wasn’t taking up all my time, but there are still people I love who I didn’t get to see enough of.
Who was the best new person you met?
Can’t think of anyone. If I met you this year and you’re reading this, I’m sorry! I do really like you!😉
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
How valuable and short life is. I’m reinvigorated and inspired and am living each moment to the fullest that I possibly can. I’m grateful for life and family and friends and all the many many blessings that I have.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Too lazy to look up anything.
Happy New Year!
Last week I came back from a short but glorious trip to my favourite tropical island. Because I’d used up the majority of my vacation time this summer having an epic adventure in Italy, I didn’t have much time off left for December. I worked a bunch of extra hours so that I could bank those hours and use them up, and also planned for my trip to partly take place over a weekend so that I didn’t have to use up as many vacation hours.
I worked for a few hours the day of my flight and because I was trying to cram 8 hours of work into about 4 hours, I didn’t have time for lunch. I drove straight to a friend’s house, dropped my car off and then she took me out to the airport. I sat myself down in a bar for a late lunch/early dinner so that I wouldn’t have to eat very much on the plane.
This was a Portobello Mushroom burger, with a goat cheese fritter. I don’t know if it was because I was so hungry, but that was the best tasting burger I’ve had in a while.
Due to bad weather our flight was late arriving in Hawaii, then there was a delay with my shuttle (UGH. I’m so done with airport shuttles there), so I didn’t get to our timeshare until close to midnight.
The next day I spent the majority of it with one of my dearest friends. We worked together many years ago and have stayed in close touch ever since, even though neither of us has worked at that company in about 5 years now. Anyway, she was in the city because her husband was there for work (what a rough life! Haha), so we spent the entire day together on the beach, laughing, crying, having deep and meaningful talks, laughing some more, going swimming, and of course you can’t forget the fruity drinks!
Because we’ve gone to Hawaii so many times, we’ve done all the touristy kinds of things, so we pretty much spend the majority of our days at the beach. We’ll go on long walks, hit up restaurants and bars and do a little bit of shopping (mostly stuff like coffee and nuts, etc. to bring back to friends), but otherwise we take it pretty easy.
First sunset from the Hula Grill restaurant
We made a great new bar discovery this year – at the Sheraton’s Edge of Waikiki, they have carafes of Mai Tai’s. This was such a great deal – for the price of two and a half regular drinks, the three of us each had two full glasses of Mai Tai’s. They were really tasty, so we had to come here a few times.
The ocean view is hard to beat…
… as is the view of Diamond Head in the opposite direction!
We also had some fantastically delicious meals:
Mushroom Risotto at Fresco in the Hilton Hawaiian Village
Incredible sushi (especially the front roll) at Sansei
Grilled Teriyaki Ahi at Ocean House
Red Snapper at Roy’s. This was the BEST. MEAL. EVER!!
And last but not least, a gorgeous sunset every night:
Each night we saw the sunset from a different beach or restaurant.
It was a fabulously restful and sun-filled vacation. My dad was super on the ball, so he booked us in for 2016 while we were there. I love it!! I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s trip!
Yesterday was a day full of fun and luxury. My parents had gone to a gala recently and bid on and won an incredible package for a night out in Vancouver. Because they know what a huge hockey fan I am, they gave it to me. It wasn’t included in this, but I ended up getting a hotel room in the city for the night just to make the night even more fun.
My friend met me at my house in the mid-afternoon and we drove out to our hotel. We had a few minutes to check in, take our bags upstairs and take a few pictures from our little balcony with an incredible view.
The in-room phone rang and it was the front desk, telling me that I had a guest who was there to pick us up. It was our limo!
We came down to the front drop-off area and didn’t see any limo in there, so we walked a bit outside to see if we could see anything. A minute later a man comes up to me and asked if I was Sharon. I said yes, and he was our driver. He motioned us over to the vehicle that was in the drop-off area and it wasn’t a limo. It was a Cadillac Escalade. It was a very beautiful vehicle, but it wasn’t a limo, so I was extremely disappointed. I’ve never ridden in a limo before, so I was really looking forward to it. I was determined to not let this disappointment ruin my evening, but I was definitely disgruntled for a few minutes. When I was talking with my dad later on in the weekend, he mentioned that Escalades are the new limos. Fine, but don’t call it a damn limo if it’s not a limo! Frustrating. But whatever. We had a nice drive over to the stadium and made arrangements for pick-up once the game was over.
We found the gate where we were supposed to enter and took an elevator up to the second level. One of the employees pointed us in the direction we should walk in to find our suite where we’d be for the night. She said that we should look for wine bottles, so I was assuming it would be a small table outside of the room with wine bottles on it. I was wrong. THIS is what she was talking about:
There were two walls of these wine bottles. A pretty impressive way to be welcomed!
The hostess took our coats and then showed us around the suite a bit. In the pic above on the left hand side, you can see the entrance to the buffet station. To the right is the bar and more tables.
We were led over to the area where we’d be sitting for the evening. She showed us where our seats were for the game, then took us to our table. This is a small view of the dining area. Our table is right behind the dude in the Millionaires shirt in the pic below.
There was a while to kill before dinner would be available, so we were offered cocktails and a meat and cheese platter, which we happily said yes to.
When it was closer to dinner time and more people had filled the suite, we decided to order a bottle of wine to share. Funnily enough, on the wine list I noticed that one of the wines was from our family’s winery in Washington! Very cool. The wines were pretty expensive, but we found a reasonably-priced one that was very delicious.
Finally it was time for dinner and the selection at the buffet was amazing! There were several kinds of pasta (risotto, gnocchi and I believe canneloni), salads galore, fried chicken, seafood (crab legs, mussels, prawns), several kinds of meat and breads and more. And then there was the sushi. OH the sushi! They were very simple rolls, but they were phenomenal. Probably the best sushi I’ve ever had.
I had several platefuls of these rolls. The seafood in them was obviously premium quality, and while they were very simple, the flavour was phenomenal.
One of my plates of food:
Very soon it was time for the game to start, so we brought our glasses of wine (that had been put in stemless wineglasses) out to our front row seats.
When the game started, I was a bit wary and was fully expecting the Canucks to lose. They just came back from a horrible road trip, plus they were playing Chicago, who won the Stanley Cup last year. Thankfully it was a fun, entertaining and exciting game.
Throughout the game, we had all sorts of treats brought to us at our seats.
We had a few more drinks, so we were very giggly and happy. Earlier in the evening, our server had told us that she could bring us anything we wanted from the vendors downstairs, and she specifically mentioned the mini doughnuts. Those are one of my favourite things about hockey games, so I said we’d like to have some during the second intermission. We were expecting a little bag of them, like the regular peons get, but we came back to this at our table:
Woohoo! There were other desserts at the table that were pretty good, but the doughnuts were fantastic.
The game ended up featuring a hat trick by Daniel, but only two hats ended up on the ice. We thought it was maybe because nobody realized it was his goal until the game had started up again. The Canucks ended up winning 6-3, which was so fun. It’s always great when the home team wins!
Our driver was waiting for us outside of the arena after the game, and it was a quick trip back to the hotel room. We both played on our phones for a bit, but we were pretty tired, so we hit the sack. I was so tired but I tossed and turned all night and barely slept. I’m convinced that the cause was due to the coffee I had. I’d asked for decaf but it must have been full-strength, as that’s the only reason I can find for my sleeplessness. The bed was very comfortable, though!
All in all it was an incredible experience, and I’m so glad I got the chance to experience a hockey game in a different area than I normally do. It’s nice to get spoiled every now and again!
For family. Mine are spread throughout the Lower Mainland/Sunshine Coast, Seattle and Walla-Walla, WA and the UK.
For my friends, all around the world. I’ve met some pretty awesome people throughout my life, in all manner of ways. Through school, work, church, life, groups I’ve been part of, online and through travels.
For a roof over my head and a safe and warm place to sleep at night, as much as my current place is annoying me.
For a reliable vehicle that gets me safely to work and back every day, and to any other place I drive to. For the last few years that I owned my previous car, I was terrified every time I turned the engine on and backed out of my driveway. It’s so great to be able to drive without fear (well, fear of the car breaking down, that is. I’m still afraid of all the asshole drivers out there).
For a job that I love and enjoy going to every day. For my amazing and supportive and crazy co-workers who make me laugh on a regular basis, and encourage me in my work and in life as well. I hit the jackpot here. I’ve been here for almost 2 years now, and hope I’m here for many more years to come.
For vacation time that I can use to travel or just relax at home. This year I went to Italy and have a trip to Hawaii coming up in two months. Next year I’m planning to go to PEI in the summer.
For piles and piles of books to read. I just finished Packing for Mars (a great read for those who are nerdily interested in space) this weekend, am now onto The Romanov Sisters (I’m obsessed with the Romanov family), and will doubtless finish that within the next day or so as this is a fascinating book. I still have a bunch more to go in this pile, and many others that are on offer to borrow from friends. I love to read!
For exciting things to come in the next year. I’m not saying anything publicly on the the internet for the moment, but it’s awesome and wonderful. Stay tuned!
This weekend a windstorm blasted through the Vancouver area and ended up knocking out power to over half a million households. It wasn’t a terribly bad storm from my perspective (I’ve been in a hell of a lot worse ones before!), but this one was vicious on the power lines.
Here’s how it went down for me:
It’s currently 8:04pm on Saturday night and I’ve been without power or running water (we’re on a well system, so when the power goes, so does our water) since 11:30am. We had a fairly big storm blow through the area for most of the morning, so I wasn’t surprised when the power first went out. I thought it would last a few hours, but now that I’m going on almost 9 hours with no power, I’m getting a bit annoyed.
I’ve read a lot today, which has been great. I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read, so I made some real progress on one of them (Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough).
For most of the day I had 3G access, so I could occasionally check Twitter and Facebook on my phone, and attempt to look at the BC Hydro site (which was down for most of the weekend, frustratingly) in the hopes of getting some kind of an update on when the power would be back. One local business that I follow said that they heard it would be noon tomorrow before it would be back, and I hoped that that was just a cruel joke.
At about 7pm my 3G access quit on me, so now I have no connection to the outside world. I know I take all of that for granted, but it’s still frustrating and discombobulating when it’s taken away from you without warning. It’s aggravating not knowing what’s going on, and whether or not we’ll actually get power back tonight or not.
I haven’t opened my fridge since before the power went off, and I’m praying and crossing everything that I don’t have to end up throwing most of my food away. I have no idea how long food lasts in a fridge and freezer without power, but I’m imagining that a full day without power will be disastrous. What’s especially annoying is that I went on a huge grocery shop last night, so I just stocked up on a whole bunch of things that I needed. ARGH! What a potentially huge waste of money!😦
I had a very large brunch this morning, but since I don’t want to open up my fridge, I’ve subsisted on Sour Cream & Onion pringles, flour tortillas with peanut butter and apple strudels this afternoon and evening. Blech. I mean, those things are fine in moderation, but when it’s all you have to eat that doesn’t require a fridge, stove/oven, microwave or any other appliance to prepare, it’s not so fun.
My phone battery was at about 20% not that long ago, but thankfully I have a portable charger so I’m now almost back at full strength. I’m glad I thought to recharge that a few days ago.
With the light of my computer and also the multitude of candles that I’ve lit in my living room, plus the faint light coming in through the windows, it’s very peaceful in here, but I’m definitely getting antsy. I know the hydro crews are probably working their asses off (last I heard there were over 300,000 homes without power), but I hope it doesn’t take them too much longer to restore power in my neighbourhood. If it doesn’t come on in the next hour, it’s going to be a very early night for me. I’m definitely not cut out for primitive living!😉
It’s now 2:38pm on Sunday afternoon, and we’re still without power. I had a fairly early night and anticipated waking up in the middle of the night when the power came back on, but that didn’t happen. I checked things online right after I woke up at about 9:45am, and they were still saying 12pm. Fine. I could wait that long. 12pm came and went. Finally there were updates that said 12:30am Monday morning. GRRR. There have been so many conflicting reports from BC Hydro that I don’t believe any of them. I know they’re working overtime, but this whole thing is a huge mess.
I’m preparing myself for another evening without power. No stores or restaurants nearby have been open, so I haven’t been able to get any food, but that’s okay.
Thankfully my landlords showed me where the rain barrels are, so at least I have some water and can flush my toilet. That was getting QUITE disgusting. They also gave me a number of water bottles, so I’m grateful to have liquids to drink. They have a gas stove and have invited me to cook on it, but everything in my fridge and freezer is now ruined. I don’t have anything that doesn’t require some kind of other refrigerated or frozen ingredients to cook, so I’m not left with much to eat. I would normally decline their invitations to join them for a meal, but if they invite me for dinner tonight, I’m taking them up on it.
At this point, all I’m hoping for is that we have power back by the time I wake up tomorrow morning so that I can have a shower. Going to work after 2 days without bathing would be horrible. Fingers crossed!
It’s now 8:08pm. The ETA for power is still 12:30am. I’m glad that hasn’t shifted. I did indeed get invited upstairs for an afternoon coffee and then dinner, which I tried to gracefully refrain from shoving in my face like a starved person. I’ve never been more excited for grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Best. Meal. EVER.
I have a feeling it’s going to be another quiet and early night for me. Even with multitudes of candles lit, it’s extremely hard to read, plus I have no more matches and all my lighters have no more fuel, so when these candles burn out, I’m pretty much done for the night.
Here’s to hoping their estimate of 12:30am is right, so that I’ll have running water by the time I wake up in the morning. I’m in desperate need of a shower.
My computer battery is now at death’s door, so that’s all for now.
The power came back on at about 12:15am on Monday morning, so I woke up to lights blazing (I forgot to turn them off when the power first went off) and electronics and appliances powering back on.
I opened my fridge to check on the contents and miraculously the food was still somewhat cool. However, it smelled like something had died in there, as did the freezer, so I knew I was going to have to throw out the majority of the food, especially the fresh stuff.
The total power outage time at my house was 37 hours. One of my friends STILL had no power as of this morning, which is ridiculous. I can’t imagine how furious they and the others still without power are feeling right about now.
All this is just proof of how totally unprepared we are for a natural disaster. I need to stock up on canned goods and buy myself some form of cooktop that can be used without electricity. If it weren’t for my landlords, I would have been without food or water for almost two days. Not good at all.
I had a fabulously long shower on Monday morning and it was probably in the top 10 of the best showers I’ve ever had. The small things in life sure can be glorious!