2017 recap + 2018 goals

Posted on January 03, 2018 under Life

Chihuly exhibition at the ROM, Hank, The Big Apple

2017 was a very rough year from a big picture perspective, for reasons that require no explanation. On a personal level, though, it was a lot better for me than 2016. Nobody I know died this year, which is a lot better than 2016’s total of four deaths. Therefore, I have nothing to complain about. This year also marked some achievements for me: I got my driver’s license, I moved to another country, and I started grad school, which has been a goal since I was 19. I had a bit of performance anxiety since I had been out of school for a year and a half before starting my Master’s, but I’m happy to report that I killed my first semester.

So, let’s take a look at how I did with my 2017 goals.

Lemon cheesecake with raspberry topping (made by me!), posing in front of a bakery in Kentucky, fika at Karelia Kitchen in Toronto
  • Blog at least five times a month: I told myself that if I missed a single month I’d fail the goal, which means I definitely failed. However, I’m okay with this – I posted more than five times in June, July, and August, and overall I posted pretty consistently. I fell off the wagon a bit at the end of the year because I got busy with school. At the end of the day, blogging is a hobby, so I’m not going to stress too much about it. And hey, I have a semester of straight As to show for letting blogging fall by the wayside…
  • Read 50 books: This was a stretch goal and I totally made it, reading a total of 51 books in 2017. (I do wish I’d read one more for an average of one a week, but oh well.) I have very strong time management skills, so I managed to read 45 books before I started grad school, which made it much easier to finish this goal in the last bit of the year.
    This was my most prolific year as a reader since 2012!
  • The Royal Cinema, a flower in my backyard, Cassius and Wally enjoying the sunshine
  • Be tidier: I’m still not a neat freak by any means, but I do think that I am slowly improving upon my natural messiness. I was worried that living by myself for the first time in my life would encourage me to be completely slobby since I didn’t have to think about anyone else, but I’ve been maintaining my flat quite well! I have actually become a person who can’t go to bed until everything is passably tidy, which will come as a shock to anybody who knows me in real life.
  • Declutter: This was kind of a freebie since I didn’t have much choice but to get rid of a lot of stuff before I moved. I did, however, manage to considerably declutter my clothes, makeup, books, and other possessions.
  • Mural on Queen St. West, walking Jet, officiating my friends’ wedding in July
  • Be mindful about new purchases: I made some impulse buys that didn’t entirely work out, but mindful consumption is a process, not an end goal. I think I’m moving in the right direction.

So… looks like I actually did a really good job with my goals this year, which is shocking. Either I set the bar low or I actually rose to the occasion. I’ll leave you to decide.

Me and my friend Katie, view from the Lachine Canal in Montreal, learning to drive

And my goals for 2018…

  • Finish my MA with an A average. I come from a university known for grade deflation, where a TA once said “Great job, Clementine!” as she handed me back an assignment I got 7/10 on, so I almost feel cocky setting this goal. However, I got all As this semester so I think this is doable. By the way – in the UK MA programmes are one year long, so I have one more semester of classes and then I’ll write my dissertation over the summer. I’ll have my degree by this time next year!
  • Complete all my readings and screenings before messing around on the internet. I always have a more productive day overall if I complete my routine schoolwork prior to checking social media. Last semester I did well keeping up with readings and screenings, but this semester I want to form a stronger habit that truly prioritizes school.
  • Neighbours’ plants, hanging out in the hammock with Jet, a building in Glasgow
  • Get fitter. Ugh, I know, I’m being that person this year. I always neatly avoid setting this goal for myself, but I think it’s finally time, guys. I’ve always been a walker (and currently walk about 5km round trip each day), but I think I should step up my game. I’m not out here to run a marathon or anything, but I’d like to raise my level of fitness just for my daily life.
  • Read 30 books. Adjusted the reading goal downwards again because grad school = very little desire to read for fun. 30 might actually be pushing it, but I might as well challenge myself a little. I just picked up four books today with a Chapters gift card,
    so that will help me start the year right!
  • Trixie Mattel performing in October, being a tourist in Lewes, pretty steps in Glasgow
  • Keep to my beauty budget, consume mindfully, and enjoy using what I have. Self-explanatory! I’ve been doing pretty well with mindful consumption over the past few years since I really started to think about it, and I want to do even better this year!

Nothing special here, really, and no blogging goals. I’ll keep posting as regularly as my schedule and interest allows, but I don’t want to hold myself to a posting schedule and feel guilty when I inevitably fail to meet it.

Happy 2018, everyone! I hope this year is a little kinder to the world…

Scenes from Prague, Christmas tree

Behind the scenes: July and August 2017

Posted on September 11, 2017 under Life

Back when I was taking driving lessons, my instructor asked me when my summer break would start. It was early enough in my lessons that the idea of speaking and driving simultaneously was ludicrous to me, so I just laughed and said shortly, “I don’t have a summer break.” So, yes, July and August were spent working 40+ hours a week (as all my months have been for the past year), but they were also spent preparing for my move to Scotland. (Which is a thing that happened, but in September, so you will hear about it next time.) However, I did manage to get a bit of stuff done outside of working and packing!

Officiated a wedding

I mentioned this already, but my amazing friends Paige and MJ got married in July and I officiated the wedding! It was an absolutely perfect day! It had rained all week but the day of the wedding it was sunny but not too hot. The ceremony went smoothly, the vows were beautiful, and the reception was so much fun. What an honour not only to celebrate their love but to officiate their wedding! I get a little nervous with public speaking, but the rehearsal really soothed my nerves. It went well and it was in front of everyone who mattered, and on the day of I was able to pretty much tune out everyone but the beautiful brides. I tend to speak quickly when I’m nervous so I was very careful to pace myself, and it all turned out well. Then when the ceremony was over I got to celebrate by dancing so enthusiastically that I managed to give myself a mysterious and very large bruise on my leg. As a bonus, my friends and I rented a farmhouse in small-town Ontario for the weekend of the wedding, which was awesome. It came with a barn in the backyard!!!

In case anyone was wondering, here’s a picture of my dress (which is also the FIRST picture my friend/old roommate Katie and I got together in daylight in three years):

I literally looked through thousands of dresses online and hated everything I found and ordered this one from ASOS in a moment of desperation. It fit perfectly and the brides loved it because it contrasted nicely with the peachy-pinks the bridesmaids wore. All in all a success!

Went to Montreal

I feel like there is a trip to Montreal in all of my Behind the Scenes posts! I moved back to Toronto in April 2016 and since then I don’t think Katie and I have gone more than about 2 months not seeing each other. The Megabus journey isn’t fun, but it’s worth it to get to hang out. In Montreal we did private room karaoke (a classic activity for my friend group) and went to see the excellent Revolution exhibition at the MMFA. Oh, and we ate a lot of really good, cheap food (Montreal is the best for that) and drank canned sangria by the Lachine canal. All in all, pretty perfect. (Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” literally contains the line “Drink sangria in the park”, although that song is also very melancholy and possibly about heroin so maybe not the best descriptor of my weekend with my friends.)

Passed my driving test

I finished my driving lessons in May, but I definitely wasn’t ready for my test at that point. I was nervous about how to proceed since my dad sold his car in the early 2000s, but luckily his good friend has a car with his name on the insurance. He was so patient and wonderful taking me out driving a few hours a week. He’s a great teacher and really built my confidence. And it all paid off, because I passed my driving test in mid-August!

The test is a bit of a blur – it was only 15 minutes long and felt even shorter. I remember taking a left turn and thinking, “Oh my god, did I check my mirror? Wait, have I checked my mirrors at all this entire time?” Then my examiner told me to parallel park and I said, “No problem,” which I immediately regretted because WHAT IF THERE WAS A PROBLEM AND I JUST LOOKED LIKE A COCKY JERK FOR NOTHING?! Luckily, I did it perfectly, and then completed a perfect 3-point turn, so I was feeling very confident heading back to the testing centre. Then my examiner threw me a huge curveball by asking me to front-in park. Now, I had been told that I would be asked to either parallel park or back-in park, so naturally I spent nine million hours practicing back-in parking since I found it pretty difficult. OF COURSE I had to front-in park. The combination of the surprise and the fact that I hadn’t practiced it nearly as much led me to unfortunately do a terrible job of it, and I was 100% convinced I had failed my test because, really, how are you supposed to pass when you end up parked in two spots? I took my test at 3pm on a Friday and I think my examiner was just done for the week because he shrugged and said, “Eh. I’ll pass you.” My instructor was waiting in the parking lot and witnessed the whole thing and said he was sure I had failed. (Me too, buddy!) I think my excellent parallel park is what saved me. Anyway, I actually DO know how to drive despite the error and now I have a license to prove it.

I know driving isn’t an especially impressive skill, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I had no interest in driving until I was 20, and I felt a little overwhelmed because I was quite a bit older than average when I actually started the process of getting my license. (I was 3 weeks away from 22 when I got my learner’s permit.) I went from having never touched a steering wheel to a licensed driver in about 4 months, and I passed my test on my first try at a testing centre with a 50% fail rate. So… I’m going to toot my own horn a bit here. ;)

Had a going away party

I hosted a going away party in my backyard before I left, and it was so great. It was lowkey and fun, which was exactly what I wanted. I felt super lucky because I had multiple friends come out of town for it. Also because my mom made 3 pitchers of sangria and her sangria is the best ever. ALSO because my friends brought a shrimp ring because I had been complaining about how expensive they are. I like shrimp but I mainly wanted a platter because they are a vehicle for cocktail sauce, which is one of the best things ever invented. So, friends, sangria, and cocktail sauce – who can complain?!

And that is pretty much that for July and August. I think I’ll probably have some more exciting stuff to share in my next behind the scenes post!

January + February 2017 Behind the Scenes

Posted on February 28, 2017 under Life

Last year I decided to try doing monthly Behind the Scenes posts and managed to only do one, in January. I thought I’d bring this back and do a post every other month, so here’s what I got up to in January and February!

Saw the Chihuly exhibit at the ROM

My parents have a membership to the ROM, and occasionally if there’s a cool exhibit I’ll accompany them. (Don’t tell anyone, but my student card expires in August, so I get the discount even though I’m not in school right now…) Well, I had to see the Chihuly exhibit, especially after my former roommate Katie visited Toronto and raved about it. It was every bit as spectacular as I hoped it would be. Every section was more incredible than the last. I only wish I had the type of cashflow that would allow me to buy some of his pieces…

Became a skinny pig aunt

My brother and his girlfriend adopted a hairless guinea pig in mid-January. My brother and I both live with our parents, so I get to see baby Cassius (aka Cash, Cashy, Cash Money, Cash for Life, and Cashew Nut) every day. We loved him so much that three weeks later, we added Wally to the mix on February 8. Cassius is about 5-6 months old now and Wally is around 3 months old. They’re ugly and wrinkly and, in my opinon, adorable. (A lot of my friends do not share this opinion…) Cassius loves carrots (and eating in general). Wally loves having his butt rubbed. I love them both. (Also, see the grey scarf Cassius is poking out of? I knit that. It’s actually in the picture on my sidebar.)

Knit a sweater

I learned to knit when I was about 10 and have done it on and off since then. In my time as a knitter, I’ve managed to make several scarves, a lot of stuffed bunnies, a hat, and some baby booties which I’m pretty sure no baby ever wore. (See above re: the scarf I’m wearing in my sidebar picture.) I’ve finished quite a few projects but never made anything really big. In early January I got a bee in my bonnet that I wanted to knit a cobalt blue sweater, so I scoured Ravelry for patterns and finally decided on Flax Light. (I did modify the sleeve length as I always roll my sleeves up to my elbows anyway and didn’t see any sense in spending time knitting them all the way to my wrists.)

It’s not perfect, but for my first sweater I’m really happy with it! I messed up the sleeves (there’s supposed to be a straight panel down the middle and mine comes out at the sides too), I used too big needles on the neck so it’s wider and looser, and there are a few dropped stitches here and there. I also haven’t blocked it yet or sewn up the armpit holes that you can see. However, not only was it my first sweater, it was also my first time using circular or double pointed needles. I really enjoyed the whole process – I find knitting soothing, and it gives me something productive to do when I watch TV. Plus, I have an attention span typical of a millennial and find it hard to just watch TV. Usually I play a game on my phone while binging Netflix series, but now I can do something that I feel good about and solve that attention span problem. Now I’m just trying to decide what to make next!

Got new glasses

Both my frames broke within a month of each other, so I took it as a sign to switch up the style I was wearing. (Most of you probably have no idea what my old glasses looked like anyway because I only post glasses-less pictures here because it shows my makeup better…) I’ve been toying with the idea of getting clear frames, but I wasn’t sure if they would look weird on my face. When I saw the Escapee frames from Eyebuydirect, I fell in love instantly – they still have the trendy clear part, but the black top anchors them to my face. I’ve had a lot of compliments on them and I love them!

Went to Montreal

My friend Anna came to visit from Halifax, and while she was here we went on a little road trip to Montreal to visit my old roommate Katie and her current roommate (and my friend from way back) Bec. There were six of us crammed into my old two-bedroom apartment, but lack of space to move aside, it was a great time. I always love hanging out with all my friends for a few days because it’s nonstop fun. One of my favourite parts of going out with my friends is everyone dragging their makeup into the living room and getting ready together while we listen to an awesome playlist. I have no pictures from our trip because all we did was eat cheese platters during the day and go out until 4am, but you can use your imagination.

Worked

Yes, it’s not glamourous, but it’s reality. I’m coming up on 3 years at my job in May. I’m very comfortable there and love the people I work with. Cosmetics retail isn’t my long term plan, but it’s fun for now. I’ll be happy to get back onto a schedule that’s a little more regular – right now I’m working until midnight three days a week and opening the store two days a week, including weekly Saturday/Sunday clopens. It makes it hard to keep a consistent sleep schedule, but I’m grateful for a fulltime job in an industry that interests me working with people I love! Retail is retail; there’s a lot of cleaning and organizing, a lot of emotional labour, and a lot of annoying or downright shitty customers. It’s the people you work with who can make or break a retail job, and luckily I work with some damn fine people.

Books read: 8.5
Beauty products purchased: 23 (Oh god, that seems like a lot, but I swear most of it is replacements and boring stuff like shampoo!)
Episodes of Glee watched in a stress-filled regression to my 15-year-old self: 83 (and boy do I wish I were joking)