Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lent 2018

So I finally figured out what I need to give up for Lent. I know it probably won’t come as a huge surprise here since my last half dozen posts have only dealt with three things (my bucket list, reading, and Lent) but I’ve decided to give up reading. Well, I’ve decided to give up starting new books. I frequently have a half a dozen books on the go and I read a LOT. I’ve decided that for what is left of Lent, I can only read the books I have scheduled for this month (two book club selections and my “March” selection) and finish the two books I have on the go – “February” by Lisa Moore and “Ben-Hur” which I’ve been reading since sometime last year. That’s still a good number of books but it’s way less than normal. I will be/have been replacing the time I would normally spend reading books with reading my bible and other spiritually edifying materials. I’m also going to try to stay off Goodreads and other websites where I obsess over the number of books I read. Wish me luck! It’s already weird to not be looking for the next book I can read but I think it will be good.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Why I won’t be doing Whole30 for Lent

I’m struggling with what to do for Lent this year and it starts on Wednesday! Last week (after much Pinterest surfing) I got it into my head that I might do the Whole30 eating plan but there are a few major barriers to that for me.

1. I’m not vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination but the truth is I don’t eat a lot of meat. Going on a food plan that emphasizes meat is just not a good fit for me.

2. One of the biggest factors that deters me from meat (aside from the ethical and health reasons to avoid it) is frankly the cost. Meat is *expensive*. I have said for years that I am an “economic vegetarian” and this is still true. I’ll grab a rositierre chicken once in a while but I just don’t eat a lot of meat. So that doesn’t really make sense.

3. Obviously if you ARE eating meat the emphasis is on good, organic, probably local, ethically raised meats…which brings me back to the cost issue. For me it’s just easier to avoid it entirely.

4. I get that Whole30 is an elimination diet so you’re basically eliminating everything except meat and veggies (and some fruit) but I’m just not mentally prepared to give up all grains. No bread? Okay, I can do that. But no oatmeal? Or Red River cereal, or rice? I don’t think so. I’ve never been a fad dieter anyway and while I definitely need to clean up my diet, I don’t think that cutting out healthy items is the way to go. Plus a lot of those items are quite inexpensive so we’re back to the budget issues.

Focusing on whole FOOD and clean eating is a much better fit. Emphasizing vegetables, reducing snacks and mindless eating. Now we’re talking. I don’t think there’s a name for that per se but that’s where I’m heading. I used to be really good about what I ate but I’ve definitely fallen off the wagon. Now seems like a good time to hop back on.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Reading Goals

As stated in my previous post my goal for 2018 is to read 108 books total. That’s nine books per month which seems doable. Inspired by my friend Liz (LiteraryLizard) , I am putting some parameters on the books I read. First of all, no matter how many books I read, 25% of them need to be by Canadian authors. I was close to that last year with 23% written by Canadian authors. In addition, at least 25% need to be from my own bookshelf. I have accumulated a rather astounding number of books over the last few years, mostly from secondhand book sales and library sales. I estimate I have around 60 books on my shelves that I have yet to read so that gives me a good selection to choose from.

I am also doing another 52 Week Reading Challenge. I found this one on Pinterest and like last year, I expect it will help me stretch my genres.

I am part of two book clubs so that will account for another 24 books that are chosen for me.

In addition, I thought it would be fun to, every month, read a book that has that month’s name in the title. It doesn’t have to necessarily be in relation to that month, but it could be. For example, for January I am reading “Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission" by Bret Baier. For February, I’ve had “February” by Lisa Moore, on my “to-read” list for quite a while. For March, I’m looking forward to reading Geraldine Brooks’ “March” about the patriarch of the March clan featured in Little Women. I’m open to suggestions for the other months. October will likely be something regarding the October Crisis but I don’t have anything for the other months yet.

Lastly, an ongoing goal is to read one book that substantially takes place in the ten provinces and three territories of Canada and each of the fifty American states. I started tracking those books in 2017 and I will continue to do so in 2018.

So, to recap:
108 Books in 2018
25% Canadian
25% from my bookshelf
52 Week Reading Challenge
24 Book Club selections
12 months
50 States (ongoing)
13 Provinces & Territories (ongoing)

Unlike Liz, my challenges will overlap. For example, if I read a book from my bookshelf by a Canadian author that fits into the 52 Week Reading Challenge AND satisfies the location requirement, then I can count it on all four lists as well as towards my annual goal. However, each book can only count for each list once. It will be less complicated than it sounds and I’m the one who has to track it anyway. I’ll try and report back on my reading but you can always follow my progress on Goodreads!

Friday, January 26, 2018

2017 Reading Challenge: A Review

I have always been what one might call a “voracious” reader. I was one of three students in grade six who won a contest for reading the most books. Every summer the local library hosted a summer reading challenge and I was always diligent about recording the books I read.

Once I started university, my reading for pleasure took a back seat. I even went through a period as a second year history student where I wouldn’t read fiction. I just wasn’t interested in people’s made up worlds where people may or may not survive or fall in love or whatever, all at the author’s whim. During the summers of 2013 and 2014 I was in France and my reading options were limited…mostly because I hadn’t discovered the versatility of borrowing e-books through the library.

In 2015 I went on a cruise and in one week I read five books. Once I finished my masters degree in 2016 I started really reading for pleasure again. At some point I started a Goodreads account and in the Fall of 2016 I started tracking my reading more closely. In January 2017 a friend of mine shared a 52 week reading challenge. I knew I already was reading a fairly wide variety of books but I figured this would be a good way to challenge myself to read genres I generally avoided (aka fantasy). I tracked my reading both on Goodreads and in a bullet journal. By the end of 2017 I had completed the challenge. My total for the year was a whopping 117 books read. <-super -="" by="" check="" cool="" goodreads="" graphics="" it="" o:p="" out="" provided="">

I was reading right up to the afternoon of New Year’s Eve which was a bit stressful so I’ve reduced my 2018 target down to 108. That’s still over two a week, basically nine a month. Very doable, assuming I maintain the pace of last year. I also have a new 52 week challenge. I’ll cover that in a separate post. Right now I want to review what I read last year.

Of the 117 books I read 38 via audio and one as it was released via podcast. Two of those I started the paper version and ended with the audio. The rest were either hard copy or e-book. So that’s 32% done via audio. I have a forty minute commute each way to work so that really helped pass the time.
Here's just a few of the books I read. You can see the complete list on my Goodreads account. 

Some thoughts on the books I read:

My Top Five of 2017
  • All the Light We Cannot See
  • The Light Between the Oceans
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Eye of the Needle – Ken Follett
  • Longbourn – Jo Baker

Worst book: “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond (so boring)

Read in one day: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Books that should only be listened to on audio
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

Books I read only because of their title
  • Badass Librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world’s most precious manuscripts by Joshua Hammer 
  • What I was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman

Book everyone should read: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent 2017: Time to get off the interwebs

I first participated in Lent in 2014. It is not a tradition I was raised with but I think the exercise can be incredibly beneficial when applied correctly. That first year I gave up cheese. It’s no secret that cheese is hands down my favourite food and I like nothing more than some good quality unique cheeses. I did have a caveat and it was that if I was offered free pizza, then I could consume cheese during the 40 days of Lent. That happened twice. I also accidently had it on some salad and once some friends brought a selection of cheese specifically for me to try and I didn’t feel right refusing. I think it’s telling that three years later I can still detail the few times I made exceptions to my goal in that first year. That summer I was in France, the land of 360 cheeses, and I told my boss about my Lenten observations. His response? “Wow! C’est un vrai puisement!” And then we proceeded to may up for my six weeks of cheese-less-ness with two months of amazing cheese.

In 2015 I swore off candy. This included all wrapped candy and chocolate bars and even more significantly, I stopped playing Candy Crush. I don’t really think of myself as a big candy eater but I was amazed at how prevalent it was. I remember that just after Lent started it was Chinese New Year. I worked in the International office at the time and I couldn’t sample all the interesting Chinese candies because of my pledge.

In 2016 I quietly stopped eating potato chips. I say quietly because I never bothered to blog about it and I really didn’t talk about it. Plus people don’t know just how many chips I eat. They’re my go-to stress food, comfort food, reward food. Really everything. I did get through the six weeks without having any though so that was a pretty big deal.

Onto 2017.

I’ve debated for awhile about trying to reduce the time I spend online. It’s hard because Facebook and Instagram are the primary way I stay in touch with friends and family all around the world. Still I know I spend way too much time idly scrolling through a feed that I’ve already been through. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or serendipity that I’m moving into a new home the day Lent starts. In any case it’s a time for new beginnings and for building new habit patterns. Having a place of my own means increased expenses as well and I’ve decided that one expense I don’t need is internet. It’s not to say I won’t be online. I still have data on my phone but I have a pretty small package so I won’t be able to idly scroll through my feeds or check for updates every five seconds. It also means that my newly refound candy crush obsession has to go on hold again. I’m hoping all this new found time will result in a new focus and clarity. Instead of reaching for my phone every time I get the urge to go online, I’ll reach for a book, or better yet my bible. Or I’ll go for a walk. Wish me luck! Detox starts tomorrow!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trucs a Faire

So I realize I haven't posted in this blog for almost a year and I haven't updated my "Trucs a Faire" in two years but I think it's time. I still refer to it and with the new year coming now is a good time to take stock of how far I have come.

So to recap, on February 13, 2006 I posted my list of "Things To Do Before I Die". After watching the movie "Up" multiple times in the summer of 2014 I renamed my list "Trucs a Faire" which is just French for Things to Do. It seems redundant to say "before I die". Obviously I can't do them once I'm dead :P anyway, The bolded items have been accomplished. The orange ones since the last time I published the complete list which was in January 2014.

97 (and counting) Trucs a Faire 

1. Fly first class 
2. Live on my own in my own place 
3. Eat at Sonic 
4. Live in another country...or at least another province 
5. Host dinner party for at least 8

6. Visit an art gallery 
7. Go to Texas 
8. Ride in a hot air balloon
9. Fly in a small aircraft
10. Visit a planetarium

11. Take a winery tour
12. Do high tea somewhere
13. Attend Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
14. See a drive in movie 
15. Get room service and have breakfast in bed at a nice hotel (I've done room service, but not for breakfast)

16. Play blackjack at a casino (I’ve played slots but not blackjack yet)
17. Make homemade ice cream
18. Try ten new foods
19. Go sailing
20. Ride in a limo

21. Be debt free
22. Go horse back riding on the wide open plains
23. Sleep under the stars (without a tent)
24. Fly in a 747
25. Collect all 50 US state quarters (only 3 to go!)

26. Attend my ten year high school reunion 
27. Visit Australia
28. Visit Great Britain 
29. Get a cat
30. Take a cruise 

31. Work an election 
32. Watch all moves on AFI top 100 list
33. Be in Ottawa for Canada Day 
34. Draft a will
35. Spend one weekend totally unplugged. No TV, No Computer, No Phone 

36. Visit the Maritimes 
37. Tour the US Eastern seaboard 
38. Pour water from the Atlantic ocean into the Pacific (still carrying around the water I collected at Peggy's Cove)
39. Fast for 24 hours
40. Be in audience of a game show or talk show and/or try out for a game show or reality show

41. Learn to cook 
42. Cook a turkey
43. Play with a hand bell choir
44. Complete 25 different crossword puzzles
45. Take a Self Defence Class

46. Fire a gun 
47. Host a fondue
48. Take real swimming lessons (learn proper back stoke, kick turn) 
49. Leave to drive a stick shift
50. Try yoga

51. Take a cake decorating class
52. Visit Nashville 
53. Go parachuting
54. Take a refresher First Aid course
55. Sell something on Ebay

56. Try snowboarding
57. Try Golf 
58. Watch the Yankees/Mariners play ball 
59. Drink tequila in Tijuana
60. Go to Disney Land/World

61. Get a bikini wax
62. Buy a new condo (or house) (or town house)
63. Go white water rafting 
64. Climb Mt. Cheam
65. Have a baby (or two, or three)

66. Read through the entire bible 
67. Stay at a bed and breakfast 
68. Go to Las Vegas 
69. Go to Paris in the spring time
70. Learn enough about classical music to be able to identify popular pieces by ear

71. Shop at the Mall of America
72. Visit all five great lakes 
73. Stay overnight in NYC 
74. Go to Boston in the fall 
75. Stay overnight at a Casino

76. Visit the San Diego Zoo
77. Visit Sea World
78. Take a full two weeks off at a time 
79. Go on a blind date
80. See a live horse race and place a bet

81. Visit the Grand Canyon 
82. Take a trip by train (aka travel somewhere on Amtrak) 
83. Do the Vancouver Sun Run 
84. Go to midnight mass 
85. Attend Sunrise Easter Service 

86. Go skinny dipping
87. Visit all 10 Provincial Legislature Buildings. (9 down 1 to go)
88. Buy cowboy boots
89. Go to the Olympics 
90. Fly in a helicopter

91. Go to a NASCAR race
92. Get married
93. Participate in a team sport for a season
94. Sing a solo at church
95. Really try to loose weight/get in better shape

96. Learn another language 
97. Visit Melville's grave in Ortona 

Last time I published this I had 69 Trucs a Faire left. As of this update I've accomplished 38 so I have 59 left. One by one they'll get done!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Confession

So I have a confession. After two months (ish) of “Vegan Mondays” I’ve had a revelation. I don’t care. I don’t care enough to be vegan. There. I’ve said it. I do think animals are made to be eaten. I do think meet is yummy. Heck I even think responsible hunting and fishing is an okay practice and would do it myself if given the chance. What I do care about is industrial farming and other non-sustainable food practices. I also care about the fact that meat is so expensive and that many animal products aren’t particularly healthy but I don’t care enough to stop eating them totally. I think being vegan, or at least vegetarian is great and if it’s for you, all the power to you. I think we can ALL benefit by eating LESS meat but I just don’t see myself not eating any animal products at all. I recently found a post talking about having a “plant based” diet. THAT is me. Plants, grains, legumes, those are the bulk of what I eat. I still like reading about veganism and trying vegan and vegetarian recipes but avoiding all animal products just isn’t for me. I’m still planning on observing Vegan Monday’s at least to some extent. I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t necessarily be militant about it. I have found that I’ve not been doing well with prioritizing blogging about my meals but for the most part I have stayed vegan on Mondays and I will continue that. But I’m also not going to stress if I decide to have something “not approved.” So there’s my confession. Plant based, but not vegan.