Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Booklist

One of my New Year's resolutions was to read two books a month and review them here...I actually read four this month, so I'll review the best two:



Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is a beautiful story about two young sisters born in Shanghai to a wealthy business man and his wife. They live a privileged, modern life (by Chinese standards) until their fate takes a turn for the worse. The are forced to move to America, where they find themselves living a life they never expected. This is a heart-rending story about the bonds of family, the importance of tradition and the plight of immigrants of visible-minority to America before the civil-rights movement (many of the sentiments, I am sad to say, are still entrenched in the hearts of North Americans today.) I love Lisa See, and have read several of her books, I also love historical fiction...I would highly recommend this book, especially if that genre is of interest to you.



Still Alice by Lisa Genova was an incredibly well written story about a brilliant Harvard professor in her early forties who develops early-onset Alzheimer's. The story is written from Alice's point of view, and it chronicles her journey as she tries to identify with her family and herself as her brain, and the life she once knew, deteriorates. It's a story about redefining self-identity, the strength of familial bonds (again) and it offers keen insight into the mindset of someone suffering from Alzheimer's. Once again, I highly recommend this novel...It will certainly make you hold your friends and family a little bit closer. NB: Read with Kleenex close at hand.

I'll be joining the book club at the Oakwood branch of the Toronto Public Library starting in March. I've already read the February book, so I figured I could wait. I've also booked our hotel in Ottawa for Winterlude this year. I can't wait for a weekend of skating on the Rideau, eating beaver tails, speaking French and spending time with good friends....
I'll also be taking a pottery class and starting up with yoga again as soon as my job at Oxford officially ends in three weeks. Not that I'm counting :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dodgeball Champions!

This past weekend was one of the best I've had in a loooong while! S and I play in a charity/birthday dodgeball tournament called "The Budd Cup" put on by a few of our good friends. This year the tournament benefited the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, and it also went to promoting artistic endeavors for at-risk children. We had so much fun, and I really improved my game...our team, The Harlem Globedodgers (aka the American Apparel team...just look at the photos and you'll see what I mean), even went on to win the tournament! I've got a few of the 445 (yes, 445) photos that S took of the day. I have mostly included photos of myself, not because I'm narcissistic, but because I don't want to share photos of people on my blog that haven't given me permission to do so...No one likes getting in trouble with the law.


Ready to play...looking sufficiently deceptively innocent, complete with a Stephanie Tanner-worthy side ponytail.


Catching turned out to be my new-found skill. I even caught two balls at once...but as cool as it looked, it technically meant I was out, because you can only handle one ball at a time...


Throwing was certainly NOT my skill...the ball weighs nothing, and I was trying to throw it like a baseball.


S and I relishing the big win.


Snuggling the cup.


The Harlem Globedodgers...a damn good team!


Things got a little silly at the after party, as they are wont to do.

S and I also won some excellent raffle prizes...tons of CDs and a Flip video recorder...which has already become an integral part of our lives...Needless to say, I see some video blogs in the near future!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On My iPod: La Roux!


Have you heard of La Roux? Since the release of their first album this past summer, I have been listening non-stop and I am totally in love! My current band-crush hails from Brixton, England and is headed up by the adorable (and self-described androgynous) Elly Jackson. Their sound is a distinctive mix of synthpop, folk music and Britpop...hence the fact that they cite such influences as David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Joni Mitchell and Madonna.

La Roux literally means "red-haired one" in French...although grammatically speaking it should be "Le Roux" (don't worry, I'm not going to get all "French teacher" on you!) Apparently Elly chose the name on account of her red hair, but she chose to mix the feminine article (La) with the masculine noun (Roux) to further illustrate her penchant for the androgynous...Pretty clever, but also pretty obscure :)

I've included the original single off their self-titled debut album, which was released in Canada on July 28, 2009. The song is called "In for the Kill" and I'm loving the Night Rider feel of the original video, but you'll have to click through this link to view it on YouTube as their record label has disabled embedding abilities. You may have also recently heard a remix of this song on a video game ad for Bayonetta.



There are so many awesome songs on the album, it's well worth picking it up on itunes...plus it's a steal at only $10!

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's In Your Bag?

Several of my fellow bloggers have done "In My Bag" posts in the past, so I in no way take credit for the idea...I just love it. I openly admit I am weirdly interested in seeing into the lives of random women...On more than one occasion I have zeroed-in on a person idling in her car at a red light, examining a nutrition label while grocery shopping, or performing some other equally-mundane task and thought to myself "I wonder what her life is like..." I suppose it's why I read blogs with such fervor...It sates the voyeur in me. With the rampant popularity of blogs, I can only assume I'm not alone in this guilty-pleasure.

I really do think that the contents of a woman's purse reveal a lot about her, and mine is no exception...Take from them what you will :)



Let me break it down for you:

Bag: Roots- Olivia Bag...I had been coveting this little girl since last year...I guess I mentioned it *once or twice* to S because I got it for my birthday this year...

Hand lotion: Shea Butter by L'Occitane...This stuff smells so good, and it really keeps my chalk-parched hands soft.

Lip balm(s): ~100% Shea Butter from L'Occitane...Best.Hands.Down.
~Burt's Bees...Love the pepperminty flavour, also love supporting honeybees
~Sephora Gloss...Free B-Day swag...I'm indifferent, but I use it.

Wallet: "Coach" (read: New York)

Datebook: Buck or Two...Covered in my wedding paper, to remind me of our "Big Day" everyday.

Pen: Ahhhh, Papermate?

Hair clip: Goody...Essential for those days I ambitiously wear my hair down, then wind up wanting to shave my head my noon.

Keychain: That pretty glass bead one was handmade by my Mama...I'm working on getting her to open her own Etsy shop for her glass work...perhaps someday you too could own a Liliana original. You should be so lucky :)

ipod: I'll show you some of what's on it in tomorrow's post.

Mirror: So cute...a stocking stuffer from last year ('08 that is)

Perfume Samples: Currently I have Madame Jean Paul Gautier, Idole by Armani and my old standby, J'Adore by Dior. It seems I have a very Rachel-esque (Friends Reference Alert!) talent for acquiring cosmetics samples.

iphone: Merry Christmas to me...Loooove this baby. So many features I didn't know I couldn't live without! How did I map my runs, book my dinner plans and navigate the streets of Toronto before Dec. 24, 2009? I can't even remember.

Gum: I know, I know...it should be mints, but they never last long enough because they always leave a bad aftertaste, thus prompting me to take another and perpetuate the cycle.

Also in my bag, but didn't make the cut: Tide to Go pen, H&M sunglasses and rabbit skin gloves.

There you have it...A mini-window into my life.

On another note: Four more weeks until I am finished at the job I left...trying to "grin and bear it." In order to get me through, I am planning my future "free time" like a madwoman.

You know I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Prayer for Haiti



I, like many, am shocked by the earthquake in Haiti. The destruction and devastation of a part of the world already so seemingly forsaken has the cynic in me asking "Why?" The fact of the matter is, the damage has been done...all that we can do now is focus our efforts on helping to rebuild both the nation's infrastructure and its faith in humanity. I will be donating to help the Red Cross' efforts in Haiti, and I urge everyone to consider donating whatever you can to help the relief effort...even of it's simply a prayer to whomever you believe can make a difference.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ch-Ch-Changes!

Well friends...I have made a HUGE decision this week, which has been the cause of my hiatus: I quit my full time job...This decision has been well thought out, and in fact I will be likely bringing in the same amount of money or more working at my part-time job...I'll also have the option of having a life, which is a lovely bonus. I'll be teaching more, but the best part is, I feel like I can FINALLY live the life I thought I had to wait six months for....It's all beginning this February, and I can hardly wait!

This picture just about sums up how I feel right now:



Elated!

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Plans for 2010

Just putting them out there...

Personal:

~ Buy a vintage bicycle
~ Read two novels a month and review them on Pint-Size
~ Travel to Europe
~ Follow organizational principles outlined here
~ Create some pretty pieces of jewelry

Professional:

~ Get FSL certification
~ Apply to TDSB
~ Get a French teaching job
~ File my pay-scale paperwork
~ Build my teaching portfolio

Financial:

~ Pay off 75% of all loans
~ Begin to save for a down payment on a house
~ Open an RRSP
~ Create a monthly budget and live on cash
~ Continue to build emergency fund

Physical:

~ Become more consistently active: run 3x a week
~ Eat more mindfully
~ Eat more fruits and vegetables
~ Drink more water
~ Practice more yoga

Today has been a quiet, peaceful, lazy day. Outside it's snowing gently and a pot of beef stew is bubbling away on my stove. Tonight I'll be watching a movie curled up with my honey on the couch.

I have had a lot of time today to reflect on the past year, and how excellent it has been...but even so, I am itching to get started on 2010. I just KNOW it's going to be the best one yet...and the best part about that is knowing that I really do have control over it. I know there are certain things that I don't get to have input on, but what I do control is how I react to the bumps in the road. If I can maintain a positive outlook, keep my faith, and surround myself with the people I love then everything will turn out as it should...

Welcome, 2010!