Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of the Best 2011

It's the end of the year and I though I'd post my 2011 Best of the Best to help charge me up as we prepare to enter 2012. It has been a mixed bag year for us with a few losses, some injuries, much work travel by Hubs, and finding out our little man  has an anaphylactic allergy to tree nuts. So I needed to remind myself of what some of the best moments were this year and hopefully it will help put me in a positive mood as we usher this year out and the new one in.

My Best of the Best List for 2011...

Best Volunteer Moment:

After volunteering at Kids Kottage we sat down with their volunteer coordinator and I heard one of the Because Edmonton Cares volunteers say "so, how else can we help you?" It is the EXACT reason I do what I do.

Best Mr. Cole (AKA Ham) Moment:

Seeing him play Joseph at his preschool Christmas concert. He was just so sweet in his little costume singing his songs! He LOVES school, the teachers and other students love him and I love seeing him enjoy school this much.

Best Turkey (AKA Miss Jocelyn) Moment:

Her first day of Kindergarten. She looked so independent and confident I felt such pride in knowing she was going to do great. The other best part was when she came home and told me about all her new friends

Best Moment Spent With Hubs

Funny enough it wasn't our trips together but it was just a date night we had a couple weeks ago. We went for dinner at D'Lish and then went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Everything about the night was enjoyable and relaxing. We haven't had a night like that in ages! I think my runner up was watching Hubs take our Turkey skiing. It was so cute to watch the two of them on the hill together :)

Top 10 Books I've Read This Year (in no particular order)

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner
Little Princes - Conor Grennan
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
11/22/63 - Stephen King
Bossy Pants - Tina Fey
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin
Prisoner of Tehran - Marina Nemat

Best Trip I Took

Jasper with my sister-in-law in January and I went again in May with Hubs. Both trips were memorable and it reminded me why I love Jasper, and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge so much!

Best Concert I Saw

photo from http://www.chriscornell.com/
 This is tough as I saw a number of great acts this year but I'm going to have to go with Chris Cornell singing acoustically. Especially when he sang Hunger Strike and then threw us a wild card and sang Better Man by Pearl Jam. Simply awesome.  I'd say my runners up are U2 and seeing Cake/Metric/Joy Formidable at Sonic Boom.

Best New Restaurant We Went To

Vivo. Awesome little Italian place that opened up just a few minutes away. It's all served family style which makes it more fun when you go with a group.

Best Times Spent With Friends

There's so many good times with friends this year but I'd have to say it was spending my birthday, and numerous other occasions, at Guru Indian Restaurant with my girlfriends. The food is always AMAZING and so is the company.

Best Personal Moment

This is a hard one!  I'd have to say that I have 2 moments which really stood out for me. One was when my friend designed and emailed me a logo for Because Edmonton Cares. It was the moment for me when everything felt real, like it was all more tangible because we had a logo. And yes, I cried a little.

My other personal best was winning the Graceful Goddess FIERCE award. I honestly, honestly didn't think I'd win. I even picked who I thought would win and showed Hubs her work. I didn't prepare a speech, I didn't wear sensible shoes to make that walk to the podium, and I didn't ease up on the wine as I didn't think I'd need to speak to an audience...all of which I regretted when they called my name! It still amazes me and makes me feel that people do actually get what I'm about.

So, those are the Best of the Best Moments that stood out for me this year. What were your special moments?

November & December Reads

As per my usual pattern I'm late for posting my reads so I'm going to post both November and December. I know, I know...December isn't done yet but it's close enough that I'm not likely to finish another book between now and then.


1. Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett:  This was a selection from our Facebook book club and it was more than a little difficult to get into. There was SO MANY names/places to remember. It was hard to keep them all straight. It was unclear who the main character was until almost 1/2 way through the book. Once it was established how the story was going to play out you got a glimpse of the brilliant mind of Niccolo and I actually started to enjoy the story. So, since it took so long to get into I wouldn't suggest it for everyone but I can see that once you get into the character you might be interested in the entire series.

2. The Blue Flower - Penelope Fitzgerald:  This was from my 501 Must Read list and it was an interesting tale as it was based on the eighteenth century poet Novalis and his love for a 12 year old girl. It sounds so wrong but it was it was an interesting tale and knowing the customs at the time you realize it wasn't terribly uncommon. It was decent but not something I would recommend to everyone.

3. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern: Now THIS book I would recommend. I greatly enjoyed this book. The imagery is stunning. It's like the author tapped into the mind of Tim Burton to come up with some of the different tent themes. This is the type of book that almost everyone would enjoy.

4. How to Be An American Housewife - Margaret Dilloway: this was an interesting book that I think was a fairly easy read that most people would enjoy. It follows a family where the mom/wife is a Japanese transplant in America after the war and her struggles to fit into a new culture. It was interesting and worth a look at.


1. Corduroy Mansions - Alexander McCall Smith: This book looks like the start of a new series. It was decent and very much in the writer's usual style. If you like any of his books then it's one I'd suggest you pick up.

2. 11/22/63 - Stephen King: I haven't read a Stephen King book in a loooonnng time and have to say I really happy that this one was selected as one of our Bookies book club selections. It was an interesting concept for a book, well written, and one that was hard to put down. Pick it up!

3. We Bought A Zoo - Benjamin Mee: I figured I'd give it a shot and it turned out to be just a so-so book.  I wanted to love this book and story but found that it got wrapped up in a fair amount of zoo technical talk that it lost some of the feeling. It also looks like they have changed the story quite a bit for the movie, which would be in typical form.

4. When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman: this was a bit of a puzzle as the back of the book does not describe the story at all. But it is a tale of a brother and sister and their ups and downs. It was a bit dark and disturbing at times but speaks to sibling bonds. Kinda sticks with you a bit.

5. Cabel - Michael Dibdin: I wanted to like this series but it's not my favourite. I just can't seem to like the main character which seems essential for liking a series. I still have 1 more to read and unfortunately I read them out of order so I'll be going back to the beginning to start with book 1.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yikes! Who is That Woman in the Mirror?

The other day I looked into the mirror, I mean REALLY looked, and wasn't quite sure who was looking back. I was asked for ID until I was 35 years old so I think I took for granted that wrinkles wouldn't touch me for some time. And yet here they are...with a vengeance. It's changed the whole landscape of my face to the point I am not sure who this woman is anymore. Who is that scary ol' lady in the mirror!

It was probably about in April that I looked at my face a little closer than normal and noticed my 'mom lines'. You know the ones I mean, they're the ones that run between your eyebrows and nose and crease up into your forehead. There's nothin' pretty about them. They make you look angry all the time rather than that 'surprised!' or 'say what?' wrinkle lines you can get that run across your forehead.

What the hell!?! I was shocked. They literally appeared overnight. For the first time in my life I sought out wrinkle cream. Oh my God, I've become my mom. Just like her I now have jars and tubes of creams and concoctions overflowing on my bathroom counter to try and repair the wrinkle damage to my skin. Do I think it will work? No. Do I keep doing it anyway? Yes.

It makes me wonder, and worry a little, who will be looking back at me in the mirror next year. More white hairs? More wrinkles? A creepy, out of place hair growing in the middle of my chin (probably my biggest fear)? Until further notice I think I'll be joining the hordes in search of the fountain of youth and will be avoiding direct eye contact with myself in the mirror.

Do you have any aging/wrinkle/acceptance advice? How do you deal with the changes you face with growing older?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Because Edmonton Cares - A Year in Review

It was around a year ago that I decided to start the group Because Edmonton Cares. We started with 1 member (me) and with no name. I was quickly able to recruit a few friends to join in and we went on our first outing to the Ice on Whyte Festival to serve hot chocolate for donations towards YESS (Youth Emergency Shelter Society).  It was probably one of the coldest days of 2011 but we survived as we were inside a heated tent. We all took turns heading outside into the cold to head down the ice slide - wee!

In the past year we have grown to 50 members with a Facebook page, an awesome friend designed us a logo, and we have put just shy of 300 volunteer hours back into our community. We have helped non-profit organizations such as The Mustard Seed, AdaptAbilities, Canadian Cancer Society, Kids Kottage, The Food Bank, and Santas Anonymous. I am exceptionally proud of our accomplishments as a group. It's so exciting to see the enthusiasm and hard work of our volunteers.

What's in store for 2012? Hopefully more of the same...much more! I'm hoping to have enough interest to plan more than 1 event a month. I would LOVE to have t-shirts printed with our logo on them and I have hopes to get a website started; though that one is last on the list since I have no idea how to build one!

Thanks to everyone for your support and belief in this group. We've accomplished some amazing things for this community :)