Updated: November 4

Guys, I keep getting older. How is this happening. Ahhhhhhh.

I have some thoughts on 32, that I’ll churn out…eventually…once the move I’m in the midst of wraps up. Until then, some new stuff to keep this year interesting! I’ve opted to remove categories this time around; if any of the items tickle your fancy and you want to do one with me, let me know!

  1. Wander two new-to-me neighbourhoods in Toronto
  2. Throw a dinner party (or brunch)
  3. Go to a drive-in theatre
  4. Go for dinner at Winterlicious or Summerlicious in Toronto
  5. Do five chin-ups. Preferably on the monkey bars at Santa Monica.
  6. Take a dance class
  7. Have a proper high tea
  8. Try my luck at batting cages
  9. Become a mentor…or a mentee! Or both!
  10. Read 33 books (follow along with my progress on Goodreads)
  11. Do a half marathon. Holy crap.
  12. Take a letterpress class
  13. Design and print my own stationery
  14. Seriously learn French…I live with someone who is bilingual, this is ridiculous woman
  15. Stand-up paddleboarding in Toronto or elsewhere
  16. Work on my flexibility. Recommitting to yoga should help.
  17. Go trail running
  18. Go to Quitters Coffee
  19. Learn the lyrics to No Diggity
  20. Invest in myself. Want a nice lipstick? Want to take a course? Want to sit and read a book for an afternoon and neglect other nagging responsibilities? I want to say yes to myself more.
  21. Say no to others. On the flipside, learning to say no. Avoiding the burnout hole I keep tumbling into.
  22. Have a beach picnic
  23. Go on an epic hike
  24. Do a whiskey flight
  25. Bake some bread from scratch
  26. Take a baking class
  27. Go to a Detroit Tigers game with Victoria and Tom
  28. Finally go to Stones Place
  29. Travel to a city or country I’ve never been to
  30. Grow (some) of my own food – I finally have access to a proper backyard!
  31. Create a gallery wall for our new place with our favourite travel memories
  32. Make and sell something (crafty? wordy? We shall see)
  33. Most importantly, on February 26, 2017, look back on 33 and realize it was pretty awesome!




After much deliberation, I decided to keep the goal-setting party going and set some lofty aspirations for 32! I changed up some of the categories for this year and a few stragglers from 31-for-31 made a return. I think it has the potential to be a pretty stellar year. Here we go…


1. Go to Peru
2. Go camping (have to keep my s’more skills on point)
3. Explore somewhere new in Toronto once a month
4. British passport (update: applying!)
5. Photograph cherry blossoms (nature’s candy floss)
6. Visit a vineyard
7. Go to Raptors game
8. Go to a driving range (this will be an adventure for Steve moreso than me)
9. Go to a First Friday at the ROM or First Thursday at AGO

Arts and Crafts

10. Take an art class
11. Learn all the lyrics to “I Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller”
12. Do something crafty once a month
13. Bake a lemon meringue pie from scratch
14. Go to a concert with my dad (Robert Plant! So aaaaamazing)
15. Watch 10 films from AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films


16. Hold a plank for 3 minutes
17. Run a 10K in 1 hour
18. See a physiotherapist and work on hip and knees
19. Take a dance class
20. Hold crow pose for 10 counts (this will involve core strength developing from #18 and the ability to stop falling on my face)

Sam Time

21. Read four books I should have by now (Lolita…was a difficult read)
22. Commit to getting published
23. Complete a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle(this…was an experience)
24. Write and send letters
25. Make an epic fort in my living room

Personal and Professional Growth

26. Volunteer
27. Dig out my French notes and get back to basics
28. Take a course in InDesign and PhotoShop
29. Master lipstick
30. Learn how to give my bike a tune up
31. Redesign my blog

32. Most importantly, on February 26, 2016, look back on 32 and realize it was an awesome year. And continuing with tradition – resist the urge to end up face-down in a cake.

Let’s go.

(updated February 28)

Fourth Blogiversary!

Four years ago (+2 days), I started this blog as a means to chronicle my backpacking adventures and let people know that I was in fact alive. When I returned, I kept it going because I have tendencies to talk…and talk…and talk about travel and I like writing so it made sense.

I had forgotten about the anniversary until tonight. Not one for checking stats (hello, SEO) I decided to look back at the four most popular posts I’ve written to date.


4. That Time I Roomed With a 75-Year-Old For a Month
In retrospect it would have made for a great reality show. At the time, I nearly lost my marbles.
Read More

3. That Time I Made Up the History of New Zealand
I still think it’s a totally reasonable way to start a country.
Read More

2. That Time I Decided to See How Much Coffee I Could Consume 
Also known as channeling my inner Lisa Simpson at Duff Gardens
Read More

1. That Time Kevin and I Nearly Died Trying to Find a Plane Crash
Or, why you should always ask for a second set of directions to compare.
Read More

Thanks for still reading this fun side project. While my adventures may not always be solo these days, they’re certainly still involving the same level of clumsiness so at least some things never change.

Learning to Treat Yo Self

Parks and Recreation Meme

I am not so great at taking care of myself.

Not in the general day-to-day sense – I’m able to put pants on the right way (usually, depending on how bleary eyed I am), get myself to where I need to go, eat food when needed. I mean more in the “treat yo self” kind of mentality. In that I generally don’t. And when I do, I slather on a guilt trip so thick it’s overpowering.

I know I’m not the only one like this – in fact, I’d wager most women and quite a few men would enthusiastically nod if asked if they’re kind of crappy towards themselves. We try to do everything for everyone and agree to things we can’t possibly accomplish, and then throw ourselves over multiple hurdles to get it all done. All of the little things that spark our interest or would refuel our tanks get pushed aside, squashed down, re-filed to a “someday, that would be nice” drawer. And then for good measure, we chastise ourselves for even thinking about doing item X when there are so many other things that need to get done.

I’ve alluded before to my penchant for list-making. I organize my time to the hour some days (*coughs* most days) which is fine when I’m working and want to be all “super productive do all the things!” woman but on a Sunday morning I should be able to binge-watch Netflix in my p-jams without sassing myself off the couch. The same extends to when I travel, except this time I think I got the upper hand.

I’ve been in Venice, California for a week (yes, I’ve been here before…and before) and FORBID myself from making a list. My brain tried real hard. While waiting for my flight I caught myself casually jotting down goals in my phone (which is really a list’s subtle cousin). I promptly deleted them. I arrived and went straight to the beach with a book (Amy Poehler’s delightful Yes Please) and managed to sit for 10 minutes before thinking I should do homework or maybe groceries or perhaps check work email?

And then I silenced my brain. And thought about what would make me truly happy at that moment. And did that.

Getting my sassy brain to zip it has been an epic struggle this week. I allowed myself to plan a day of activities I really enjoy – hiking, record shopping, crafty things and stuffing tacos into my face. It felt nice to do things that I wanted to do for myself without simultaneously worrying about not crossing things off a to-do list. Being productive and accomplishing tasks is important and fulfilling, but so is treating yourself to a little personal time now and then.

So when people ask why I visit LA so much, part of it is because I have a very expensive reset button on my brain apparently, and tacos and ocean seem to be the only way to satisfy it.

Find your tacos, people. Tap into what you enjoy and tell your brain to shove it. That’s my hope for 2015.

31-for-31: Six-ish Month Check-In

It’s been six-ish months since I made an overly ambitious list to accomplish during my 31st year. I felt the need to check in and make some adjustments.

Ooot and Aboot

1.  Travel to a new country (as in new-to-me, not a newly FORMED country)
2. Check out an awesome music festivalI saw Tom Petty, and will finally see Dylan in November. I think I’ll give myself a pass due to those two.
3. Apply for a British passport
4. Hike in the Rockies – Done! – Consolation Lake hike
5. Reach Air Canada Altitude status – I won’t even come close. This will have to wait for next year!
6. Investigate garden allotmentsTurns out the wait list for these starts on the first working day  in February, so this will be a goal for next year!
7. Explore my own city
8. Go to the middle of nowhere and watch a meteor shower Thank you, camping


9. Go to yoga weekly  – Three times a week. Showing my hips a little love. 
10. Run a 10K race in under 1:05Done! Sporting Life 10K at 1:02:13, such an awesome race
11. Get at least seven hours of sleep a night…consistently
12. Take Meatless Mondays a step further and make mine vegan or gluten-free
13. Conquer my fear of heights and go rock climbing
14. Hold a plank for two minutesDone June 18th! Now working on my forearm plank time as a new goal

Arts and Crafts

15. Watch Good Will HuntingDone! Thanks Target for having cheap, cheap movies. Now I understand the popularity of “How do you like them apples?” and also, it’s a great movie.
16. Get a membership for the Bloor Cinema and check out some docs
17. Learn all the lyrics to “I Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller” – This should be in the next month, almost there!
18. Do something crafty once a monthI’ve sewn bunting, made Steve’s birthday present, made a guestbook tree for my parents’ anniversary, drawn, made birthday cards and will be making centerpieces for this weekend’s Thanksgiving dinner as well as some crafty goodness for Victoria’s wedding. I think this is one of my favourite tasks. 
19. Listen to the entire Rolling Stones catalogue in chronological order in one weekendDone! This was a beast of a weekend. I felt like my life oscillated between feeling as though I was in a Wes Anderson film…to a Scorsese one. Also man there were some dud albums.
20. Take a photography classDone! May 1st. Intro to DSLR at Henry’s Camera, now to put my lesson into practice more often.

Money, Money, Money

21. Meet with a financial planner and determine an investment strategy
22. Set up a weekly and monthly budget. And use it.

Personal and Professional Growth

23. Get my French to a basic conversational level (I’m very good at ordering wine…)
24. Volunteer
25. Learn Photoshop
26. Overcome my fear of needles and donate blood – Done! It was terrifying. But rewarding. 

Sam Time

27. Have a digital detox weekend and disconnect from social media and the internetDone, July 25-28th. It coincided with a trip to BC which helped tremendously, but once the anxiety over not knowing what was happening faded it was very refreshing to just enjoy where I was, read more and not worry about what was going on elsewhere. I think I’ll do this regularly as a reset of sorts. 
28. Make time to write at least once a week
29. Get published
30. Read five books that I really should have read by now but haven’t

31. Most importantly, on February 26, 2015, look back on 31 and realize it was an awesome year, and resist the urge to end up face-down in a cake.

Yikes. 9 out of 30. Need to get moving! (Update as of November 24 – 12 out of 30!) (Update as of January 15 – 16 out of 30!)
Who wants to help with any of these?

Enjoying Wine at 30,000+ Feet

Sometimes a flight is long. Perhaps a long day was had prior to take-off, and you merely want to unwind. Or, perhaps, it’s a special occasion. Regardless, sometimes one just wants a glass of vino at 36,000 feet.

I’m certainly no aviation wine specialist but here are a few that I’ve sampled over the years:

American Airlines
I write this from what may be a relic from the 50s (but is in fact simply one of American’s antiquated McDonnell Douglas planes), nursing one of the most generous-sized bottles I’ve ever seen on a flight. It helps make you feel less depressed about your surroundings and the lack of entertainment options. It also helps muffle the sounds of screaming children and the engines, so it’s a win-win!

Glass size: two servings
What’s the pour: Coastal Ridge Merlot and Chardonnay
Cost: 7 bucks (US)
Good to know: A cheese plate is available to go with your wine. Or, if you’re stuffed from dinner like me, Almond M&Ms. Classy!

Air Canada
Air Canada offers complimentary vino when travelling overseas, a nice treat I discovered on a recent flight to Paris. Or, you can purchase options on shorter-haul domestic and US flights. If you’re soaking up the luxury of business class you’ll get a glass as well, however they won’t indulge you if it’s not an appropriate hour. My attempts for a poor woman’s mimosa were thwarted, ho hum.

Glass size: one serving
What’s the pour: Paul Mas white and red
Cost: $6.50 (Canadian) if you’re in economy on flights in Canada and the US, free in business and first class and on international flights
Good to know: the gluten-free crackers and cheese are always the first thing to sell out on flights. Lock eyes with your flight attendant ASAP if you want them.

Porter Airlines
Ahh, Porter. Your delicious pre-take-off lattes and shortbread are complimented nicely by your in-flight (free!) beverage offerings. Get that expansion approved please…

Glass size: one, but generous
What’s the pour: Jackson-Triggs Black Reserve Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc/Cab Sauvignon. Good stuff.
Cost: free!
Good to know: the epic snack basket that comes around is stocked with nuts, cookies and Terra Chips. The perfect accompaniment to your beverage. Also there’s beer, and sometimes on a less busy flight you’ll get to “sample” both! Also they give you actual glasses, a nice touch.

Hawaiian Airlines
I’ve only flown them twice, but really enjoyed the service, snacks and complimentary wine. They also gave me two glasses of wine, which went nicely with the entire loaf of macadamia sweet bread I devoured on the flight back to California. It was a long flight. Don’t judge.

Glass size: one serving
What’s the pour: Red Tree Merlot and Chardonnay
Cost: free!
Good to know: if your flight’s in the morning you’ll get brunch with a delicious rum punch. Wine is only served on later flights. Also, macadamia all the things!

Have you enjoyed a good glass of wine in-flight? Share a comment below!

My Brain, When Running


Running shoes

In two weeks, a friend and I will run the Sporting Life 10K. I’m hoping to tackle one of my 31-for-31 goals (running a 10K in under 1:05) and also set a regular running habit for the summer in the process.

Here’s the thing, though – I generally HATE running. I was always last-picked for team sports that involved any sort of quick movement, and the only reason I joined cross country was because it was a no-cut team (hat tip to my dad for always running the last few hundred meters of the course with me to get me across that line). I also have ridiculous shin and hip problems that flare up when I’m nowhere near home on a run (thankfully I carry subway tokens now as a precaution).

But I also LOVE running. Nothing tops the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal, and getting bling at the end of a race is always a nice bonus. So basically, it’s a complicated relationship.

And like anything I do, there’s generally a solid internal monologue accompanying it. So, I present to you – my brain, when running.

Ok! 10K! I can do this!

I am running! This is amazing!

Polite nod to passing runner. We are part of a tribe! A tribe of runners! Hello good sir!

Oops, shoelace.

Alright, on the trail. Wow, I need to come to the lake more often, it’s really nice down here.

Keep forgetting to breath. Steady.

The Map My Run lady is so nice. She sounds very pleasant and I appreciate her subtle encouragement to move my ass a little faster.

Seriously, shoelace again? I need to get velcro.

Do they still make velcro??

I really hate this song. I need a better playlist.

Oo, I like this one. *starts singing in between wheezes*

The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to newwww landddds 

I am so sweaty right now. This is gross.

I should plan meals for this week. Lots of salads.

I wonder if my face is as red as I think it is?

Hmm. That runner I just passed looked awfully alarmed at my appearance.

So thirsty

I think Map My Run lady is asleep at the wheel. There’s no way I haven’t run 7K by now.

I could eat a burger right about now

Oh thank goodness, she’s back. Walk time!


A dog!

I really wish I could get a dog

I should find a running partner

Everything hurts so bad, why am I doing this?

9 km! 1 to go!

I feel nauseous

The Map My Run lady is a smug jerk. I know my current pace is slow. Let’s see you run this distance and not slow down when you’re tired. I DIDN’T SLEEP WELL, OK?

Do I actually want a running partner? I don’t want them seeing how red-faced I get

Seriously what is with my shoelaces??

My street! I’m almost home!

I’m really thirsty

RUN DONE! Time to stretch.

Screw stretching, let’s just nap on the floor a bit