It's already been 1460 days?

Next Tuesday is our "official" anniversary. I remember talking about it with him, trying to figure out which day from the beginning of our relationship should be commemorated each year of togetherness as our anniversary. The night we met didn't really count - Kat dragged me out of that bar after Kurt got my number and that was pretty much that. We'd barely talked to each other. When he called me the next week, we talked for hours on the phone...but we weren't dating. When we saw each other again, it was for a couple of drinks at Fat Tuesday's the next weekend. We had our first kiss that night, but that didn't really seem like the right day for us either. We finally settled on our first real dinner date, which was actually on February 4th, but since I can't count and we didn't figure that out until 2 years later, we celebrate our anniversary on February 5th.

What's wrong with February 5th? Well...

My birthday is on December 17th.
Christmas is on December 25th.
Valentine's Day is on February 14th.

Kurt has a double-whammy in December, followed by a double-whammy in February. Luckily for him, I am not a fan of Valentine's Day (and he loathes it by virtue of being a guy), except when it means Purdy's Hedgehogs from my Mom, so right from the first year we've decided to pretty much ignore it in favor of our anniversary. This is not only a stress-saver, but also saves him from buying me flowers that will die and a special inflated-cost Valentine's meal at a crowded restaurant. We typically celebrate our anniversary by going out for dinner, which is the plan for this year as well. After cutting way back on our dining out since the end of 2007, our mid-week dinner out is going to be even more of a treat than usual. The plan is for sushi. I'm excited.

From our Lunch Bags: Curried Brown Rice Salad

A few weeks ago, we started packing our lunches with us to work, so I tried to think of recipes that we could make ahead and have on hand specifically for lunches, so there was never an excuse to say %$#& it and just buy our lunches instead. worked.

Back in Ottawa, I bought my lunch nearly every day. There was this great Greek place in our building that makes the most amazing Greek salads topped with grilled vegetables, with a side of hot yogurt dressing. It cost $6.82 and it was fantastic. It was also costing me $34.10 each week. Kurt would also buy his lunch and since he worked in this little hick town, I don't even want to think about what he was eating. He's prone to making healthy food choices, but when the options are pizza or Chinese food...which is the lesser evil?

Anyways, I decided that we should arm ourselves with a whole boatload of recipes for salads made with rice, beans and/or lentils. Those things are nearly as cheap here as anywhere else and they fill you up for hours, so they're the perfect packed lunch. We've made a few different recipes now, but keep coming back to this one - our favorite so far. Keep in mind that the recipes are for enough salad to feed us for at least 2 if not 3 days worth of lunches, so you might want to scale back a bit if you don't need as much.

Curried Brown Rice Salad

1 c. brown or wild rice (we've used both brown, wild, a mix of the two, and some more exotic rices such as wehani)
½ c. toasted slivered almonds
½ c. seedless raisins (we use the yellow raisins)
**some sort of protein - we have diced up a cooked chicken breast or thrown in a can of chickpeas for this**


½ c. white wine vinegar
½ c. extra-virgin olive oil (I've cut this back to 1/4 c. and it worked fine)
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. each coriander, sugar, salt (I've left out the sugar and it tastes fine)
1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg, turmeric, ground cardamom
pinch each of cinnamon, cayenne and ground cloves


1. Cook the rice however you want. Rice cookers are fabulous. Once cooked, mix together the rice with the almonds, raisins and protein.

2. Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Chill for at least 2 hours.


New iPod Must-Have: The invisibleSHIELD.

The following post is sponsored.

A few years ago, I was given an iPod as a Christmas gift. They were still brand new and very few people had them, so I was ecstatic about mine. Naturally, I went out and bought some "must-have" iPod accessories, which at the time were limited to various types of protective covers. I remember choosing a rubbery transparent blue one, thinking it would make my new gadget look pretty fresh. It didn't. And wrestling it onto my iPod was a nightmare. Remember those sticky hands that you could whip at stuff and they'd stick? It felt like that. Also, it made my iPod appear much bigger than it actually is. While my precious iPod was marginally safer from scratches than it would be without, I ultimately decided that looks were more important and tossed it.

Now that I've started running again, I'd love to be able to let my iPod (which is now 3 years old, and so practically an iPod antique) leave it's constant perch on the speakers and join me on my runs. However, I'm terrified of having it endure even more scratches than it already has, so I've been looking into some options. I figured that surely in 3 years the covers would have improved.

They certainly have. Finally, a company has produced an iPod case that doesn't take away from the overall look of the iPod one bit, while providing total protection from scratches. The invisibleSHIELD, which is available for all models of iPods, as well as a number of other popular electronics, is only 0.2 millimetres thick and is made out of a material originally produced by the military to protect the edges of helicopter blades from nicks and scratches. Totally scratch-proof, the invisibleSHIELD will keep iPods looking brand new and are backed by a lifetime guarantee. They're also really reasonable and you can buy them directly through their website. I highly recommend taking a peek, and checking out the other electronics they are available for as well.

Downward Dollar.

Besides my occasional readers from exotic international locale, most of the people who read my blog are in Canada. I have a few people who stop in from the US from time to time, but the vast majority are in great white (and chilly) north. Since I no longer own any loonies or toonies besides the ones tied up in property, I'm interested in what everyone is thinking about this flip-flopping Canadian dollar and it's slightly more downward-pointed US counterpart. What's going on?

I wouldn't go as far as to say that I "follow the markets". In fact, I hardly ever know WTF is going on, though I do make a point of reading Canadian news each week to keep myself somewhat connected to things outside of the current 21 square miles of my existence. Lately, most of the news I've been reading is about the projected (or existing) American recession and the impact it's going to have on the Canadian dollar, which is of course all based on economic speculation by people who actually do know what they're talking about. The trouble is, for every prediction that the States is already experiencing a recession, there is another equally well researched and solid prediction that rock bottom hasn't happened yet. Some say that Canada is going to feel a terrible burn from it, and others think that Canada's involvement in growing markets such as China will slow or soothe the effects of bad news south of the border.

Me? I don't know. I'm not even going to pretend to know what to expect. I have a house in Canada, and I have a salary tied to the American dollar. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that what goes down will recover in time, and given my timeframe for when I plan to use the money we're saving (or, will be saving), I'm not going to worry about it for now. I'm not going to flip out every time the Canadian dollar gets stronger or the markets crash, because I think that this is just the natural ebbs and flows of the markets. They get strong, and then they weaken, and then (with the proper support and with time) they'll strengthen again.

I think I'm absorbing this attitude from the people I'm surrounded with. In this isolated little world, everyone watches what's happening closely, but no one really gives a crap because in the long run, it's January and it's sunny and we can pay our rent and buy our $4.00 red peppers. But, there aren't that many places in the world as heavily dependent on imports from other countries, so obviously it will affect us here matter how much people would like to think otherwise.

REALLY wishing I'd bothered to take an economics class here or there during university. If anyone has any insights to share...please...enlighten me. Seriously.

Web Hosting Choice

Note: the following post is sponsored.

At some point, a blog may grow to the point where it would make sense to move it into its own domain. For the somewhat technically-challenged, like myself, websites that would make this transition as simple as possible are valuable resources. Web Hosting Choice fits into this category as a guide to finding hosts for your site, offering helpful, straightforward information without any annoying advertisements. Their website is easy to navigate and includes a quick search tool, where you can enter the maximum you are willing to pay in monthly costs and setup fees, along with your required bandwith and diskspace. This is a great and simple way to filter out potential hosts based on your own preferences, saving you endless hours of surfing your way through company websites. If you are becoming more web savvy or looking to expand your personal or business webpage, make sure to check them out.


At the very end of next week, I'll be falling asleep to the sounds of the waves in Mexico. This will beat the hell out of falling asleep to the sounds of waves provided by the 'Tropical Beach' MP3 file that we normally listen to at night. Though, the MP3 DOES have some loud bird noises which I have grown to appreciate...even though they woke me up and completely freaked me out the first time I heard them. It was like splash...splash...SPLASH...splash...spBAK BAK BAK BAK BAK BAAWK BAAWK BAAWK BAAAAWK...splash...splash...BAK bak bak...and so on. Sounds ridiculous, but it actually is quite soothing. I also enjoy 'Amazon Rainstorm', but Kurt doesn't think it promotes sleep as much as it might just make you need to use the bathroom.

Anyways, real waves will be a nice change of pace. As will restaurant meals for under $10 (for both, beer included) and poolside reading of beach-worthy girly books (last year was the Something Borrowed/Something Blue duo - the ultimate in beach reading).

We've been counting down the sleeps to our Mexican vacation since we planned it last year. Some may think that, living here, we may not need a warm winter break, but I assure you we do. Besides the fact that we are not nearly as hot as we would be if this island was placed much further south (where everyone thinks it is), we are also dying for a vacation. It's business as usual around here with work and our weekends are the same as everyone else - groceries, laundry, shopping, etc., and with all of the stress that took over our lives in the last part of 2007, we honestly do need a break. It's also a chance to spend some quality time with my parents, who will be there at the same time.

What used to be a 2 airplane trip has now been bumped up to 3 airplanes, each way. So, in order to ensure that both of us AND our luggage shows up on the other end and we don't spend the week wearing the same clothes, waiting for our luggage, we're going to attempt to pack our vacation into carry-on luggage only. challenging. Summer clothes are lighter and pack up small, which is good news. We're there for 10 days...not such good news. Also, we're bringing Christmas presents, my camera, a huge hardcover John Grisham novel that Kurt is insisting on for the beach but which happens to be larger than my laptop, and a whole whack of travel-sized toiletries, because I'll be damned if I lose one more thing to that big bin. Last time it was the precious Raspberry Cointreau jam from Wakefield, Québec. The time before that, it was my toothpaste and moisturizer...both of which appeared to fit the guidelines but were wrestled from my hands anyway. It was good moisturizer and practically brand new...they're not retarded.

Anyways, we're coming down to lift-off. I can't pretend that I'm not also just really excited to get off of this rock, even if it's only for 10 days. It's feeling smaller and smaller all the time, and I'm getting a bit stir-crazy.


We've had a good run.

The following post is sponsored.

I've managed to get to 27 without needing glasses at all. I can read just fine and have no problems when I'm driving. However, in the past year, I've noticed that my eyesight isn't exactly what it used to be. More and more, I find myself squinting to see distant signs and I'm wondering if my years of working in front of a computer are finally taking a toll. At 27, I'd say that was a pretty decent run. I don't know many people my age who don't use glasses or contacts, so I'm OK with it being my turn now.

One of the big downfalls about living here is the relative cost of things and the fact that some things are very hard to find. Though my insurance coverage is great where I work, and I get one free pair of eyeglasses each year, the problem is...where do I get them? If it turns out that I do, in fact, need glasses, I'd like to be able to enjoy a bit of selection. This doesn't seem to be the case around here, so off to the trusty internet I go...for still more online shopping. Luckily, I'm more than happy to surf my way to good finds.

For example, sells many different styles of prescription eyewear at very reasonable prices. By cutting out the middlemen and working directly with the manufacturers, they offer a huge selection of glasses, including prescription sunglasses, bifocals and progressive lenses. They're definitely worth a look if you're in the market and looking for a lot of different choices and don't want your bank account to feel the's the link:

Zenni Optical: Sell Rx Glasses $8 with case!

Glasses, like hats, are tricky. What looks awesome on one person might look ridiculous on me. So, I need to do some hands-on research, clearly. But, once I have a vague idea of what kind of style suits me, I'll be heading online to close the deal. Buying a pair here is too risky...everyone else will have them! I've definitely had glasses-envy here and there - especially when someone has a really unique pair that suits them perfectly. If glasses are needed, I'm up for the challenge.

He's here!

Well, maybe not here, exactly, but this tiny, adorable Scot is Leo Anthony Ross. Born to my very long-time friend Rachel and her husband D., on the weekend and weighing in at a teeny 6 lb. 8 oz., despite being so comfortable that he hung around under Rachel's ribs for an extra 8 days or so.

Leo's birth closely followed the birth of another baby born to one of my oldest school friends, which means that grade 10 was not actually 5 minutes ago, and that we are all grown up. Though, instead of making me feel old, I look at little Leo and think that life is actually pretty amazing.

Welcome, Leo! Time for Auntie Kris to bust out those knitting needles and fire up a pair of baby boy Uggs, I think!

Lots of love to the new family from us, on the rock.

I've succumbed.

For awhile now, I've been toying with the idea of signing up with a paid blogging service. I don't want to sell out my blog, but I do spend a lot of time mentioning products, services and websites and it would be good to get something back every once in awhile from the companies I'm essentially providing free marketing for.

Some of the blogs I've been reading lately have been members of PayPerPost, which connects advertisers to bloggers in the form of opportunities that members can choose to reserve, write about, and then submit for approval. All of the available opportunites are listed so you can scan through them and pick out ones that you know something about or feel you can write about well enough to satisfy the requirements of the opportunity. If the advertiser approves your post, you get paid. Some of them are totally out of left field, but some I've seen fit what I write about on here anyways, so I signed up. Now that my blog has been approved by PayPerPost, I'm hoping to fit the occasional opportunity into my blog and make a few extra pennies, here and there.

It's a really easy service to use. The site is excellent and simple to navigate around and I was really impressed by the requirements they had of the bloggers. Their Code of Ethics is great. For instance, you can't follow a PPP post with another PPP post - you have to include at least one regular post of your own in between. I like that. It forces you to keep the blog on it's original track. I also like that you don't have to write positive posts. If something sucks, you can post that it sucks. Also, I have to disclose that I may occasionally be blogging for money, which I'll include at the bottom of my sidebar. Follow this link for more information about their blog ethics.

I'm not going to be catapulting my blog into the sales-oriented blogosphere...this blog will continue to do all of the things it was created to do, and it's nice that PPP recognizes my wish to keep it that way. However, it's no secret that I'm pretty focused on saving money these days and working towards some of my goals in a more meaningful and straightforward way. This seemed like a good way to do that, even if on a fairly small level. I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, I encourage you to check them out if you're interested.

Every time I finish a run, I log it in an online running log. I do this in part to keep track of how far I'm running and how often, and in part because I absolutely love filling in those little windows and watching my latest run pop up in my monthly stats in a pretty color-referenced table. Runs are blue, swims are green, cycling is red, yoga is yellow. I know...I have issues. However, if I didn't do this, I wouldn't know that I'd run 90.5 kilometeres so far in January, which equates to running the entire length of this country, and back again, plus an extra 10K on the end just for fun. A year ago, I probably couldn't have run to the end of my backyard without feeling like I was going to keel over, hack up a lung, and then die a slow and painful death on the lawn, amongst the dandelions and the dog crap left behind by our neighbor's wayward hound. Now, I finish feeling great and ready for the day, even though the long flight of stairs up to our apartment is far more difficult than normal and my legs are wobbly in the shower. It does take a toll on my morning solo dance party, but I'm proud of how far I've come.

I've cut back from 5 times a week to 4, for the sake of my annoyed knee, but I'm coddling it with scheduled rest days now, ice packs here and there, and a daily glucosamine complex to make it stop whining at some point in the very near future. It ran 6.5 km this morning pain-free and I'm bumping it to 7 km at the end of this week, when I will hit my original running goal, set last November. I'm thinking that this deserves a present. And, I'm thinking that the present to me, from me, should be an iPod shuffle, since it's hard to talk to Kurt when I'm running and he's riding the bike behind me, and I don't derive a lot of pleasure from talking to myself, so some Madonna would be welcome. I don't want to risk my regular iPod on the road, and the shuffles are just so damn cute, with their cute colors and little clips. Awwww.

Geographically, I think the most distance I can get out of my route is no more than 8 or 8.5 km, unless I want to start running in circles or into the ocean, but that's a fine distance for me. Any further than that and I'd have to be out of bed at 5:00 a.m., which could be a problem.
It may not be getting any easier to climb out of a warm bed for, but I'm into it.

Boo to the Moo.

I had a small epiphany last week, which led to the discovery of a possible (probable) answer to a 27 year-old mystery. It seems as though I can't eat dairy. Or, more specifically, milk protein. Which is added to a whole whack of other things, besides milk or regular dairy products. Fantastic.

It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a tall glass of milk. When I was little, a glass of milk with dinner was mandatory. I don't remember hating it, but it was never at the top of my list unless it had chocolate in it. When I moved into the suite in my parents' basement, I had my own fridge, which was mostly kept stocked with frozen fruit, maple syrup, alcohol and orange juice. It is amazing that I am not a diabetic. I'd bypass the dairy aisle at the grocery store because I knew that I would never finish a tub of yogurt or a carton of milk before it went bad. I was no longer forced to drink milk with dinner, so it was kind of involuntarily weaned out of my life. I started drinking soy milk a few years ago - and I don't actually remember why I did - but I've grown to love it and now prefer it on my cereal or in fancy caffienated beverages. Almond Breeze is also delicious, so not being able to drink cow's milk is not really any problem for me.

Dairy products and products with dairy in them are another story. Ice cream, chocolate and cheese are some of my all-time favorite foods, and even though they don't make it into my diet very often anymore, I know they're still there. Like an old friend. We've had so many good times together. Sometimes we get an ice cream on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes we'll buy fancy cheese and make antipasti platters for dinner. Chocolate is...well, it's chocolate. I have always loved it. Mini Egg season is coming am I going to handle that?

If dairy is my allergy - and I really won't be sure until next week - I guess it's not the worst one to have. Yes, it's shitty to have to give up these things I love, but it's better than living in constant fear of a single, solitary peanut being within a square mile, or being terrified of being stung by a bee. No one wants to be stung by a bee, but at least I know that (for now), it's not going to kill me. Still...this kind of sucks.

All Blogged Out.

I read a lot of blogs. In fact, my drop-down URL menu includes more blogs than other sites, though I've realized that I visit a lot of them out of habit, and not because I actually think that they are stellar (or even very well written). Besides my friends' blogs (all stellar AND well-written), I've come across most of the blogs I read (or have read) by using Google's blog-searching tool while looking for information about something. Sure, I can read the info off the product's website, but why not look for what real people actually think about it? I have found some amazing products, recipes and websites by doing this and it's neat to see what some other people are able to do with their blogs.

Some of my current favorites are, a blog started by a very cool vegan Mom when she wanted to share the creative lunches she packed for her vegan son for school each day. Though he's homeschooled now (and so not taking lunches, or packing them himself - this is a very food-wise kid), the archives are full of photos of seriously cool lunches that make me want to cut sandwiches into cookie cutter shapes and melon ball the crap out of some fruit. She's amazing. Her new cookbook comes out this fall.

Another favorite is, the blog of a financially savvy 20-something Canadian from my hometown, now working in the city across the water. She's so open and honest about her finances - at any given time you can actually see where she sits financially, if you were really interested in being that nosy - and the way she tracks and thinks about every penny she spends makes me think about my own pennies.

My ridiculously long list of blogs I read regularly (and the ones I would pass through on the way to links they had listed) obviously needed some serious culling, which I did today. Some of them were so boring that I forgot why I ever read them in the first place. Others had terrible punctuation and some had actually disappeared completely. I remember where most of them came from - searching for a review on a cookbook, or info for when I first started running in Ottawa, or some I marked just because their posts were so full of links that I had to mark them so I could go back and check them out.

It's great that so many people blog. I don't care if people think it's's part of the dialogue. While it's true that there is a lot of crap on the web (and I'm sure that there people who would put my own blog in this category), there is a lot of useful information and there are a lot of insightful people out there, blogging their way through life. It's a very, very cool time to be computer literate.

200 Square Feet of Love.

Before our move, one of my biggest concerns was the inevitable downsizing of our living space. Our house, while no mansion by any stretch of the imagination, was still large for two people. Of the 1700 square feet of available space, we used only the kitchen, the bedroom, and the family room in the basement. Occasionally, we would eat dinner or watch TV in the brown room. Other than that, the other rooms remained pretty much untouched. I remember worrying about the possibility of not having a yard, which is funny when I think that the number of times that I actually made use of that yard totalled less than 20, tops, in the 2.5 years we lived in the house. Still, the point was that the space was available. If Kurt was watching something that I wasn't interested in, I had two other tv-equipped rooms that I could choose to remove myself to, or I could go into the living room and read on my much-missed "chair.5". We could be together when we wanted to be together, and when we wanted time alone, it was an option. Generally, we enjoy each other's company and end up doing stuff together, but there are always those times when it's nice to be alone. The size of the house was one of the main selling features. And with all of the stuff we had (neatly) crammed into it, we technically needed that space, even if we didn't use it.

We knew before moving here that we could realistically afford a certain amount for rent each month, and that the certain amount would probably not land us anything larger than a one-bedroom, or a small two-bedroom apartment in a shoddy area. We know that we lucked out in both neighborhood and quality, and I realize that our apartment is fairly large compared to other one-bedroom apartments on the island, if not most other places. This does not void the fact that it still is, just like every other one-bedroom apartment, essentially two rooms in total. There is the bedroom...and then there's the rest of the apartment. I don't count the laundry room or the bathrooms because I don't feel as though they contribute to a high enough percentage to the "rooms we spend a lot of time in" quotient. Except maybe in the morning, when the bathroom is obviously THE place to be to get ready for work. When we're home, and awake, we're in the main room, and pretty much only in one half of it until we find ourselves a proper dining room set. Counting the kitchen floor space, I would guess that we now spend most of this time in a space that totals about 200 square feet, tops. Yikes.

Or not.

Living in smaller quarters, even if it's only been 3 months, has won me over. We are forced to downsize our lives in a lot of different ways, which ultimately makes everything just that much more manageable.

For instance, there's no point to purchasing a vaccuum for the apartment, so we have a Swiffer. Total amount of time spent to clean the floors in our old house was approximately an hour. Total amount of time here is approximately 10 minutes.

I can't escape the laundry because our laundry room is right next to the kitchen, which, in turn, is right next to everything else. When I start it, it gets finished within opposed to the days I could ignore it or complete it on an as-needed basis at home.

When I'm trying to tell Kurt something, I don't need to yell it down the stairwell. There is no stairwell. He's usually within 10 feet of me, so I can speak like a normal person.

Limited floor space encourages a tidy house. When I am finished with my exercise ball or yoga mat, they go right back into the closet. Furniture stays where it should because that is where it fits. Stuff strewn about the coffee table is immediately noticeable, so it gets immediately picked up.

We now share one bathroom, since our second bathroom consists of only a toilet and (literally) the tiniest sink ever. It's cute, but I don't even think that you could fit both hands into it. My bathroom real estate has downsized from one full counter (the house has two full bathrooms - one was mine, and one was his), to just a tiny bit more than half of a counter. I'm a girl, after all. I have more stuff. And all of this stuff now HAS to stay neatly put away in the cabinet or drawers, or it will have the unfortunate experience of mixing with all of his boy things.

Of course, there are downsides to sharing a small space with someone. First of all, it's imperative that you like each other. Luckily, we do, so this is mostly not a problem. We end up spending the vast majority of our time together, even if we're on separate couches, doing separate things on our separate laptops. But, sometimes, "me" time is important, and it is a little harder to come by in close quarters. However, not impossible. Just remember that the other person is probably feeling the same way and may welcome the chance to get the hell away from you for awhile. Obviously, feelings like that would be totally foreign to Kurt, but I do grant him respite occasionally. Not everyone enjoys a 5 hour BBC Pride & Prejudice marathon. Sad, but true.

All in all, it's working very well. The more I get used to it, the more I think that it suits us. I'm not thinking that we'll be putting a downpayment on a ridiculously overpriced 450 square foot Victoria condo anytime soon, but I can see us living smaller long-term. It would obviously be different if we had kids, but since that's not the plan anytime in the near future, I'm enjoying my Swiffer.

However, if someone offered me a 3000 square-foot beach-front home on Gonzales Bay, I would probably take it.

Ah...Great Success.

Sometimes, things just work out.

I get Facebook and emails all the time asking what Kurt has been up to since we arrived. I blame this on the fact that he is terrible at keeping in touch with people, and so the responsibility of communicating our happenings falls on my shoulders. Luckily, I like typing.

While I've been "working" at my "job", Kurt has been on the hunt for a job ever since we arrived. While the first few weeks were pretty tied up in getting us set up in our apartment, finding wheels, and making sure I could find my way to work (not as hard as I'd thought, since "downtown" only covers the equivalent of a few city blocks anywhere else), he's been applying and attending interviews constantly. The thing is...nothing moves quickly here. At all. Combine the inherent slowness on the island with the fact that he was applying for a very particular job opportunity during December, the absolute worst time of the year to look for a job, and things were a bit bleak. He'd had a temp job to get him through the weeks, but I could tell that he was getting discouraged. Despite his citizenship here (a huge draw for firms), it was just simply the wrong one was hiring for the position he was looking for.

Finally, at the very end of December, he managed to get himself an interview with the head of the department that he wanted to be in. This led to a second interview...and then a third...and then this afternoon, after 2 and a half months of searching, his ideal job was handed to him on a silver platter. And by silver, I mean gold. It's the full package - great company, great opportunity, interesting work, amazing benefits...he's ecstatic. I'm ecstatic. We had a sushi celebration after work.

He doesn't actually start until we get back from Mexico, but he's pretty much being thrown every opportunity under the sun as far as training and eductation goes, and he's taking them all. It's going to be a busy year, but hopefully very rewarding. I'm really proud of him. After working for one company for 14 years, and having started with them pretty much right out of high school, this transition was a much bigger deal to him than to me, job-wise. Not everyone has the guts it takes to start fresh, giving up the familiar and moving into something completely foreign. I knew he would pull it off.

The final piece of the "move to a different country and set up shop there" puzzle has been completed. To celebrate (besides the sushi), I booked us a 3 day trip to New York City over Easter weekend. I've never been and he hasn't been in years, so I was pretty much drooling as I booked the tickets this afternoon. We're meeting up with friends of ours from Ottawa and Montreal, and are starting the process of planning how to get the most out of our limited time. I'm so excited, it's ridiculous. We weren't planning on spending the money right then, but it's a pretty unique opportunity, being a long weekend and with friends visiting the city at the same time. It's 9 weeks away...and I already can't wait.

Book Review #2.

I guess I'm a faster reader than I thought, because The Man of My Dreams is already back on my bookshelf, after less than a week in my purse. I think I forgot about the hour each day that I spend on the ferry, travelling to and from work. Prime reading time. #2 has been completed.

Just like her first book, Prep, I liked this book because of all of the times that I read a part and was amazed at how much I could relate. This kept me interested every bit as much as the storyline itself. Not that I think I'm much like the main character in either book, but have definitely enjoyed (or not enjoyed) many of the same thoughts and thought processes that she does in the book. The author definitely nailed the insecurity that comes along as a teenager and how it feels to be in your 20s, kind of floundering around post-university, wondering where your life is going to lead.

I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to read more of her books. She's fresh and truthful. She's still relatively new on the publishing scene, but her books and writing get great reviews from all over. And here's one from me.

Please...slow down.

Does anyone else ever feel that time is moving more quickly that it used to, and speeding by far too fast?

I do.

I remember as a kid, everything took FOREVER. It took FOREVER to drive to Hornby (in adult world, approximately 2.5 hours to the ferry, if you time it correctly and have the right music). Christmas Eve church service took FOREVER (actual time: 1 excrutiating hour). Waiting for the next birthday or Christmas was an eternity spent counting down the months.

I've always been very conscious of time in relation to age. For example, when I was 16, I used to think to myself that I could live my life all over again and still only be 32, and marvel at how young 32 still was. I did this every year until this year, when I realized that at 54, all of those life events that I still plan to go through - the marriage, the kids - won't be over, but will be "seasoned". My kids may even have their own kids...though hopefully not. I can barely get my head around the thought that I might one day be "Mom", let alone the thought of being "Nana". I flat out refuse to be "Grandma".

It seems to me that when you're waiting for something specific, time takes forever. Waiting for the end of the school year, for example, or waiting all week for Friday plans to pan out, or waiting for someone to come back. It's like watching a pot. But when you're just kind of living, and not waiting for any one thing in particular - no big events on the horizon, no special plans - time knows you're not watching it closely and those hands fly around the clock face far faster than normal.

I don't like it.

Tomorrow is Friday, but yesterday was Monday. I never thought I'd say this, but I wish the days were longer.

Book Review #1.

23 days ahead of schedule, I finished Lolita tonight at the driving range, while Kurt was practicing his swing. I have to was a pretty great read.

I'm sure that the stigma attached to Lolita (that it is a pornographic novel about child molestation) would turn a lot of people off. And really, it's not a word of a lie. However, it is pornographic in the classic and far more subtle sense of the word than what we refer to as porn today and seriously beautifully written. So beautifully written that you actually like the main character...said child molester.
It's visual, funny, tragic and beautiful, all at the same time. It's written in the first person, and written as if he's telling you the story from a mental asylum, many years after the fact, so he constantly makes reference to the reader, to his doctors, and to the present, as he recalls details from his past. The details are extreme, but all play a part in the story as a whole, so it's really not the kind of book where you can skim through pages and still "get" the story.
First published in Paris in 1956 (after being rejected by numerous American publishers for obvious reasons), it was first published in the States in 1958 (after aforementioned publishers saw the success it found in France). Nabokov includes a letter to the reader at the end of the book, explaining the process behind writing Lolita and the difficulty he had in getting it published.
Verdict: Very, very good.
Next up is The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (surprisingly, a female named Curtis). I read Prep, another one of her books, during my trip to Spain in 2006 and really enjoyed it. I thought I should break up the heavier classics with some teen angst, which seem to be the theme to her books. However, so many of the situations and experiences described in Prep were painfully familiar to was like living through that awkwardness all over again...but in a good way. Looking forward to cracking it open on the ferry tomorrow morning.

Itchy Feet and Empty Wallets.

We've been going over our anticipated expenses for 2008 and our travel costs this year will be...costly. However, they are also necessary when you're living in such a small place. You get itchy feet. I've heard that they're supposed to kick in every three months, and so the fact that I'm feeling them now means that I'm right on target, if not a bit ahead of schedule. One month today, we leave for Mexico and our feet leave this island for the first time. After that, we have a tentative trip planned to Toronto in May for a wedding, a trip home planned for July (though the logistics of who spends how much time and where are still being hotly debated...), and a possible trip to New York in September. That's a lot of useless air miles right there.

Obviously, we have to shuffle a few things around, financially. We have to budget for each of these trips and, even though travel out of here is actually pretty cheap, it all adds up and it all subtracts from our debt repayment/savings efforts. Still, at the end of the day, saving a bit more and having no break is not an option for us. We have paid vacation...why wouldn't we use it somewhere where we can also see much-missed friends and family? No brainer.

One area of our lifestyle that has taken a financial hit as a result of my new household "regime" (which also includes a low G.I. diet, by the way), is our date nights. Sadly, we have made the decision to cut them from once weekly to once monthly. We figure that one great date each month, at a fantastic place, is better than 4 OK dates each month at 4 pretty good places. Since it seems to be impossible for us to eat out together (lunch or dinner) for under $50 on the island, and most often the bill is closer to $70 or $80 (and that does not include a bottle of wine but may or may not include a couple of dark 'n stormies), our bank accounts will definitely benefit from this change.

Consequently, we are cooking again. For those of you who may remember the brief though fabulous life of the Floog, I am bringing it back. Maybe not THE Floog, unless I can instill any interest in Heather and Lai to join me in the revival, but definitely some recipe posting, since I've had some good experiences in the kitchen lately. Mostly vegetarian experiences, but good nonetheless. We moved here with what we considered to be the "best of" our kitchen, though we did forget the one thing we used most - our awesome, deep, stainless-steel skillet with a glass lid. Still, we arrived with our (extensive) spice collection, best utensils, our favorite pots, and the cookbooks I couldn't live without. Time to give this stuff a workout.

The 2008 Regime is coming together nicely.

Birthday Wishes from the Rock.

I've been here for just over 2 months now. Sometimes it seems like I just got off the plane, and sometimes it seems like I've been here for ages. Maybe that's because the second coming of Christ is moving quicker than the average grocery line.

I digress.

After the newness wore off and I got more settled, I started to notice certain things missing...or, not where they're supposed to be. My good friend Shannen fits into this category.

I met Shan not long after I moved to Ottawa and we've been friends ever since. I've had the privilege of seeing her fall in love, get engaged and then married, and most recently become an absolutely amazing mom to Jaia.
For a lot of this time, we've also been MSN buddies. Day after day, week after week, we'd keep each other company during mundane work days, discussing topics infinitely more interesting than anything we were being paid to think about at the time. Every day, at some point, we'd catch up quickly online. Sometimes just a hello, most of the time substantially more than that. Even though I didn't actually see her as much as I would have liked to, I talked to her more than most of my other friends. Including my co-workers. Actually, she kind of was one, in that nine to five kind of way.

During the period we refer to as "the gray area", where Kurt and I were essentially homeless and not sure whether we were coming or going, Shan and I managed to squeeze in some pho at phive, followed by snacks and embarassing TV, with some Jaia time. We thought it would be a one-time thing, but as the Rock continued to make paper airplanes out of my work permit, we ended up with a whole bunch of extra nights to hang out. It was awesome. I was reminded (not that I needed to be) of what a great friend she is, and how much I wished we had started our weekly dates sooner. Pho at phive....peanut butter pie...whatever. Just more time.

Now, thousands of kilometres and a segment of ocean away, I miss her. My work computer is not MSN-equipped (it does, however, have Lotus Notes) and my internet connection at home is shoddy to say the least. At least I have her blog to keep me updated and give me my daily dose of Jaia, but it's still not the same.

I hope you have an amazing birthday, Shan. A virtual piece of scandalously good pie and a frosty drink (with an umbrella) is on its way to you, courtesy of moi. Wish I were there to share a real one with you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I hope it's as fun as this:

New Year's Resolution #3: Eat Less Crap.


Not because I'm predisposed to gorging myself on cake products and fries. In fact, I'm not a fan of cake, generally, and I will never order fries as my side dish unless suffering from a hangover of substantial proportions, in which case nothing but fries will do. Generally, I make healthy food choices. However, when my routine is off by a millisecond or I'm going through any sort of change whatsoever, I'm far too easily tempted to make the wrong ones.

The holidays are a time of excess...excess food, excess drink, excess usage of credit cards, excess family, etc. With the lack of family (andthe current lack of plastic...bye bye credit cards), we only managed to keep the excess food holiday rules alive. We did OK...but I'm anxious to clean out the kitchen and stock it back up with healthy munchables. Unfortunately, this is pretty difficult to do in a place where everything is imported and everything imported is expensive. All fresh fruits and vegetables, of course, fall into this category. So, it becomes a budgeting issue...cut back on something else to afford the fresh stuff. Having lived my entire life in a country where it was never an issue to find an eggplant, and an eggplant rarely cost morethan $3 or $4 dollars, this is tough to get my head around. I'm still aghast that people pay $1 for an apple. AN apple.

Since the word 'diet' seems to cause Kurt to go spontaneously deaf, we're just "changing" things. Again. Wholegrain everything. Delicious brown rice. No red meat...actually, very little meat at all. More fish. No processed sugar, except for the occasional square of dark chocolate. Soy this, tofu that...if I can sneak it in without him noticing. Very limited dairy...none at all if I can establish a reliable source for soy yogurt. And somehow, I have to find a way to fill in the gaps with more fresh fruit and veggies...while still finding a way to pay our electricity bill. The needle on the scale has definitely crept downwards since our arrival here, at least there is some motivation to keep going.

AND...handy diet tip...watching an episode of 'Ramsay's KitchenNightmares' during dinner is a great way to curb your appetite. Seeing what he scrapes out of those disgusting kitchens (with his bare hands,no less) has caused me to put down my fork more than once.

So...remainder of the summer stress gone. I'm so over you. And so are my pants.

New Year's Resolution #2: Literary Pursuits.

I have always been a reader. When I was a kid, I was a certified bedtime abuser. In that, though I did have an actual bedtime when I was told to turn off my lights and go to sleep, I became a seasoned expert on determining the likelihood that my parents would check on me after that point and, if the coast was deemed clear, would find a way to read for hours past the point where I was supposed to be asleep. I guess I was also kind of a night owl. Looking back, and considering how much sleep I seem to require now to get through the day with any pretense of being alert, it's quite amazing how little sleep I functioned on as a kid.

Even from the early days of enjoying the grammatically incorrect Go Dog Go* (clearly translated directly from Japanese, and quite obviously not by someone who spoke English), I always loved books. The first "chapter book" I ever read, with Mom's help, was Charlotte's Web, followed closely by Little House in the Big Woods. After that, I was hooked. I found books at garage sales, the local library (though I was terrible at remembering to return them), under the Christmas tree or wrapped up for my birthday. I had a huge floor-to ceiling bookshelf in my bedroom, where I carefully sorted them not by author or subject, but by how much I liked them. If I was going to read it again, it went to the top shelf. The ones I would use as trading material with my sister (though I did have a winning sales pitch) went to the bottom. They moved houses with me, went on trips, got lost and then found, and took me on adventures I still think about, from time to time. I loved them...and still do.

Throughout my teenage years, the late-night reading was swapped for late-night phone calls and my books, so treasured in previous years, remained for the most part on the shelf. I bought the odd one here or there for a trip, and used them as excuses when I didn't feel like doing homework, but it became much less of a valued way to spend my time. When teenage drama gave way to the harsh reality of textbooks which cost more than the course I'd purchased them for, all of the allure of reading was lost to me. After spending hours studying, highlighting, reading, and then re-reading (because so much of my first degree made absolutely zero sense), the idea of picking up a book at the end of the day could not be more unappealing. Drinking was obviously a much better use of that time. Or sleeping, for that matter.

Now, two years out of university, I've started to miss my books. I've spend a lot of time collecting cookbooks, but real, actual, sit-down-and-read-me books had completely fallen off the radar until very recently. It's not that I haven't read anything at all over the past few years, but most of the reading I've done hasn't been fiction. I love fiction. So, in an effort to get back to being that sneaky book-loving kid of the past, I've made my second New Year's resolution for 2008 (the first being my budgeting/saving goals). I'm going to read at least one book each month for the entire year.

This doesn't sound hard. In fact, it sounds ridiculously easy, but I know that things come up and because I know I will quit my resolution at the smallest sign of failing, I made failing virtually impossible.

In order to kickstart my resolution, and to inspire me, I have stocked my bookshelf with a selection of books that I have always meant to read, but never got around to for whatever reason. I figure that at my age I should have read at least a few of the classics, so I'm starting with those. I finished my first book, Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility, tonight (which was obviously started in 2007, so I won't be cheating and counting it as my January book) and it felt great. It helped that it happened to be a great book. Next up is Lolita.

It feels good to be reading again. Instead of spending the hours between dinner and bed mindlessly surfing the internet, maybe I'm actually doing something good for my brain. I've even lured Kurt into the reading world by putting a copy of 1984 in his stocking. We'll see how it goes. Nerdy sidebar thingie will keep me accountable.

Happy New Year everyone...stay tuned for Resolution #3.

*Shockingly, Go Dog Go was featured on the "Most Recommended" shelf at a certain big box book store last year. I almost choked on my certain brand name caffeinated beverage when I saw it, but was secretly glad that generations of children continue to put their parents through the agony of "Do you like my hat? No, I do not like your hat. Good-by. Good-by." Yes, spelling error intentional. It is a classic. It has even been shortened into board-book format, for convenience, though the condensed version unfortunately skips all mention of hats.