Monday, 19 May 2014

January to April 2014

Life has been very busy, so here's the quick and dirty version of what I accomplished January to April 2014;

#35- Spend a day at the beach- Accomplished January 2014 in Varadero, Cuba. We took the whole family there to enjoy a vacation together. It was lovely weather and a gorgeous beach! We had to hop on a plane to enjoy the sun and sand in the middle of January, but it was very much worth it. 

#88- Go on a boat ride- Accomplished January 2014. This item was also accomplished in Cuba in the beautiful waters off the coast of Varadero. 

#24- Complete 24 hours of volunteer work- Accomplished as of March 17, 2014: I completed my 40th hour of volunteer work with the Oak Centre! 

#30- Have a brunch date with my friends- Complete April 2014. I got to enjoy a beautiful brunch at Fresco's Euro Grille in St. Catharines with some ofmy favourite ladies! If you haven't been there for brunch before, I highly recommend it! Mimosa anyone? 

#18- Plant a tree

I have always been a lover of the magnolia tree. Although I know their glory blooms for only a short time, they are still one of my favourite sights of Spring. I finally sprung for a pink and white saucer magnolia tree of my own and planted it in my front 
this weekend with my mom. I can't wait to see it all full of flowers in the springtime of 2015! 

#18- Complete 



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

#14- Read 10 books a year

I've gotten a head start on reading, so here are the 10 books I have read since October 14, 2013:

1) Deliverance - James Dickey (yes- the book which the movie was based upon.) I am sure that in its day it was quite the thriller, but I found it to be a little blah. But great descriptions of the wilderness- he truly painted a picture of nature with his words. 2 out of 5 stars.

2) The Sisters Brothers- Patrick deWitt. This was a twist on the western, a genre which I don't usually enjoy. It was a great read but far too short! I wanted more. And interesting tale of 2 brothers who are hired assassins in the Wild West. 4 out of 5 stars. 

3) The Silver Star- Jeannette Walls. By the same author of The Glass Castle, this was a story about two sisters who were essentially abandoned by their mother, but the story is interesting and has many sad and sweet twists and turns. The characters were interesting- the daughters were unique individuals and the mom was a character that you weren't sure if you hated or felt sorry for.  Good read! 4 out of 5 stars. 

4) Member of the Family- Cesar Millan. Since we are getting a new puppy in the months to come (just waiting for the next litter at Bosworth Great Danes to arrive!), Mike and I both decided to read this book about raising a dog as your family pet. Well written with practical and simple advice, this was the first Cesar Millan book I have read and I quite enjoyed it. I look forward to putting some of the principles into practice when our new pup arrives! 4 out of 5 stars.

5) Giant George: Life with the World's Biggest Dog- Dave Nasser. Keeping with the Great Dane theme, I read this cute true story about the Nasser family and their World's Biggest Dog. He's no Pulitzer-worthy author, but Nasser does some funny stories about life with their giant Great Dane. 2.5 out of 5 stars. 

6) Great Danes: A Complete Owner's Manual- Paul Stahlkuppe. Are you noticing a trend here? I now feel that I have a better understanding of the breed and their mannerisms, but a lot of the info was generic to any breed of dog and much of the Dane details I had already read about online. 2 out of 5 stars. 

7) Secrets of a Shoe Addict- Beth Harbison. This is book #2 of the Shoe Addict series. What to say? It was just fluffy chick-lit about a group of women who start a phone sex business in order to pay off their individual debt. Meh. 2 out of 5 stars.

8) The Affair- Colette Freedman. As the title suggests, this novel is about an affair. It is told from 3 different perspectives- a different section narrated by the wife, the husband and the mistress. It was a really good read, one that I tore through quickly because it was interesting and scandalous. 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

9) The Dirty Girls Social Club- Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. Another chick-lit book, this one was a little on the dry side. It follows a group of Hispanic women who originally met in college as they navigate careers and relationships in their adult lives. There were a lot of Spanish slang words used, so a bit of it was lost on me. 2 out of 5 stars.

10) When In Doubt, Add Butter- Beth Harbison. This novel centred around A female private chef looking for love. It was by the same author as the Secrets of a Shoe Addict, and it was actually really cute. I enjoyed reading it and the main character (and the guy she falls for) are both loveable characters. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

And voila. The 10 books required reading from October 14, 2013 to October 13, 2014 are officially complete.

#14- 20 of 30 complete. 

#45- Blow frozen bubbles with the kids in winter

I saw this on Pinterest and thought it looked super cool, so I wanted to try it with the boys. Apparently if you blow bubbles in cold weather, they will freeze and crack, making for some pretty interesting sights.

We gave this a try on 2 separate occasions and were not successful in getting our bubbles to freeze. I'm not sure how darn cold it needs to be (my Google search said between -9 and -12 degrees is optimal) but we tried it at -9 and -10 and it did not work for us. We had fun blowing bubbles in the wintertime (mostly because it was something out of the ordinary as it's typically a warmer weather activity) but we were not able to achieve freezing for our bubbles before they popped.

Because of our valiant attempts and the fact that we still ended up blowing bubbles in wintertime, I'm going to count this as complete, but without successful freezing.

#45- Complete...ish

#40- Create my own beverage concoction

For New Years Eve, we hosted a party at our house, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to debut my new creation- Vinker's Pink Punch.

If, like me, you have a beverage dispenser and wish to make a whole load of punch for a party, follow the recipe below:

- 1 -1.36L can pineapple juice
- 2/3 of 2L bottle 7Up
- 2 ounces Grenadine
- 2/3 bottle of Red Passion Alize

TIP- to keep my punch cool without watering it down, I pre-froze large ice cubes made of pineapple juice and grenadine mix with maraschino cherries and pineapple chunks. It didn't diminish the flavour and it stayed ice cold all night long. 

If you want to make a single serving:

In a tall glass, combine
- 1 part pineapple juice
- 1 part 7Up
- a splash of grenadine
- 2 oz Red Passion Alize
- Serve on ice with a pineapple slice and/or maraschino cherry garnish

Verdict- DELICIOUS! It was such a hit that it has already been requested for our next party. But beware- this fruity concoction barely tastes like alcohol, so you may feel it creep up on you...

#40- Complete 

#46- Make a snowman

The purpose of this list item was to force myself to get outdoors during wintertime. I absolutely, positively detest the cold weather. In fact, when we went on a  4-wheeler ride in the snow a few weeks ago, Mike saw me in winter gear for the very first time in our 9 years together. You could never catch me playing outside in cold weather. 

Knowing my boys love the outdoors, I decided to initiate a snowman building and snowball fight extravaganza last Friday, December 27th. Sadly, the snow wasn't ideal for packing, so our snowman was more like a snowbaby in terms of size, but we enjoyed putting him together. More than that, we had a hoot having a family snowball fight together. Mike won as his arm is a bit better than ours, but Mason was a close second. Meanwhile, Max was content to drag his mini lawn chair out of the garage and into the snow to enjoy the spectacle. 

Before we went inside to enjoy some hot chocolate and a movie, Mason finished off by making a snow angel. It was a fun evening outdoors, despite the cold. Maybe I should get myself a pair of snow pants after all...?

#46- Complete

#62- Have a Facial

For my birthday in October 2013, my dear friends decided to gift me with a list item, so they got me a gift card for a beautiful local spa so I could enjoy my first ever facial. On December 13, I was able to put my gift to great use while I spent a lovely afternoon at the 5 Lakes Aveda Spa at the Double Tree Hotel in Niagara Falls.

I have always struggled with acne- as a teen, and again as an adult since having my children. I am always looking for ways to improve the condition of my skin and was wondering if a facial would make a significant difference. 

I met with Erin at 5 Lakes who provided a most wonderful, relaxing and therapeutic experience while I was there for my Elemental Mature facial. The facial and accompanying shoulder, arm and hand massage was absolute bliss. My skin felt velvety smooth afterwards and my entire self was rejuvenated. I can't say that I have noticed a significant difference in my acne, but my skin is still quite hydrated and smooth even weeks afterwards.

All in all, I enjoyed the experience immensely and am happy to say that I received another gift card for 5 Lakes for Christmas from my thoughtful hubby, so I look forward to enjoying it again in the new future.

#62- Complete