Friday, 30 August 2013

Bloggers Give Back - A Giveaway!

I was pretty excited when Lesley asked me to be part of the Bloggers Give Back Giveaway.  My charity is The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which benefits Parkinson's Research.  My grandfather passed away a couple of years ago with Parkinson's and so it's a cause that I really care about.  I think that Michael J. Fox does a great job at raising awareness for a disease that is often forgotten because it seemingly only affects the elderly.  My grandfather's personality changed due to this disease and we really lost him a few years before he actually died. 
So please check out the giveaway and the awesome bloggers who chose to take part!   

It's no secret that bloggers are amongst the most caring, giving people on the internet. However, sometimes our budgets don't allow us to donate as much to our favorite charities as we'd like. Well, here's a unique giveaway that gives you the opportunity to do just that - donate a bunch of money to a charity of your choice! One lucky winner will have a donation of $120 USD (or equivalent) made to the charity of their choice in their name!

The giveaway entries work just like any other around the blogosphere but this time all of the money donated by our wonderful sponsors will serve a greater purpose!

Please take a minute to check out the giveaway sponsors and their favorite charities below.

 Learn about World Wildlife Fund

Learn about The Girl Effect

Learn about Cause for Paws Utah

Learn about RAINN

 Learn about Chai Lifeline

Learn about GLAAD

Learn about Mollie's Dream TNR

Enter below for a chance to have $120 donated in your name to your favorite charity! Good luck!


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Why Do We Read Blogs?

Bloggers are always talking about why they blog.  I think that it's something that we periodically have to ask ourselves so that we know whether we are still doing it for a reason.  Blogging takes up a ton of time and energy and so it's important that you re-evaluate periodically to ensure that it's something that is worth the time that it takes. - May the blogs be EVER in your favor!

But what about reading blogs?  Why do we do that?  Why are we so intrigued by the lives of others?  Some blogs we read because they provide us with useful information.  These blogs may be fitness, food, fashion or mommy blogs depending on your interests.  We read these blogs because we can utilize the information that they provide in our daily lives.  But then there are the "lifestyle" blogs, which is what I would probably define this little blog as. 

I don't know that I can fully explain my interest in the lives of others.  But in the end, I think that it's mainly the connection that I feel to the blogger that keeps me coming back.  You read their post and can say, I'm going through that too, this is how they dealt with it and maybe I can do the same.  Or if they can do that, I can do that!  Many bloggers only include their best moments, I am guilty of this as well.  Whether it be because I want to keep this space positive, or because I tend to be a private person, I might not include those tough times on the blog.  I strive to be more honest at times like these, to really put myself out there.  There is a fine line with blogging about real life and maintaining a generally positive space.  But the real life is what keeps people coming back for more and allows that connection to be made.

I read blogs because I have a genuine interest in what other people are doing.  I talk about bloggers as if I know them.  I'm sure it's annoying.  But once you have read 20 posts by somebody, you do feel like you know them and understand what they are going through.  I think it has made me much more aware of issues in the world and different lifestyles.  It makes this big world feel a bit smaller when I know what is going on with someone who lives in France, or England, or Texas. 

Why do you read blogs?


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My End of Summer Goals

Summer is coming to an end.  Summer is so busy that there is usually no time for new goals.  I told myself I was going to spend more time learning photography this summer.  That didn't happen.  So now that it's almost fall, I feel that it's a good time to re-evaluate my goals. 

1.  Work hard on my final CGA course
This will take up a lot of my time this fall.  Lucky for me it's another course where I get to write papers, and although it's a lot of work, I like to write papers.  I'm weird like that.  I guess since I blog it should come as no surprise that I kind of like to write.

2.  Celebrate our 2nd anniversary
I'm thinking that this will be something low key this year.  Last year we went away for the weekend.  Maybe this year we will just do a nice dinner and a fun activity.  A murder mystery dinner perhaps?

3.  Sew my bathroom curtains
I have been procrastinating.  Since March.  That's bad.

4.  Paint the basement.
It's colgate green and I would prefer it to not be colgate green.  I would also like to hang my gallery wall and some shelves.  Make it pretty!

5.  Continue eating healthy and try new workouts
I have been pretty good with the reducing sugar.  I would like to keep it this way.  No sugary snacks at work and no dessert every night after dinner.  Treats should be occasional, not daily.  I also have been doing the 30 Day Shred, which is coming to a close.  In September I am participating in The Workout Mama's boot camp and I would like to add my own workouts to that as well.


Monday, 26 August 2013

Mean Girls: The Most Favourite Blog Movie Ever

Have you ever noticed all of the Mean Girl references out there in blogland?  As a Mean Girls fan, I love it!  They always make me smile.  My friends and I used to be Mean Girls addicts, and apparently a lot of other girls out there were too.  Oh Lindsay Lohan, what has happened to you when you clearly had everything going for you....

Mean girls movies and series
I'm still trying to make fetch happen....

Mean girls movies and series
This is said so often by my friends and I that sometimes I forget that it's from Mean Girls.

This is definitely a blogging fave.  Bloggers love this quote!

I use this one all the time. It applies to more situations than you would think.

And my personal fave Mean Girls quote....the term ESP is never used, it's always ESPN.

Did any or all of those make you smile?  We could be friends.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Whale Of a Time

So we have reached the end of my Quebec vacation recap.  You can see the other posts here, here and here.

On the last day of our vacation, we made the three hour drive to Tadoussac to go whale watching.  It was a long drive through the mountains.  The hills were intense.  I was pretty worried because for the first time in our vacation, it was pouring rain and foggy.  We took the scenic route along the St. Lawrence, and couldn't even see it, it was so foggy.  Three hours (six total if counting the drive back) is a long way to go if you can't see any whales.

The harbor looked beautiful in the fog
Lucky for us, we saw some whales, and lots of them. 

A minke whale

We saw a few minke and humpback whales.  I was really hoping for some breaching, but the best we could get was a few tails.

The tail of a humpback
It was so foggy that we could hear the blow holes of whales that were nearby, but we couldn't see them.

A Seal
 There were tons of seals.  At one point I think about 50 of them swam past the boat.
A Blue Whale

 We were very fortunate that we saw a few blue whales.  This one was feeding, so it kept coming up.  It's hard to even describe how big it was.  It's a pretty amazing feeling to be looking at the largest animal ever to have existed.  (I looked it up, that's a fact!)

A Humpback
So the drive to Tadoussac was definitely worth it.  I kept my eye out for moose on the way home since all of the signs said that we should be watching out for them, but there were apparently none to be seen. 

It was a great trip and I feel so lucky that we have so much culture and beauty in this country of ours!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Literary Junkies

Pink Heels Pink Truck
It's that time of the month again!  Time for Literary Junkies!  I have been pretty happy with myself and the amount of reading that I have done this summer.  Although I could read more, I always have a book going.  After so many years in University where I always felt like I couldn't take the time to read, it's so nice to get into a good book again.

1. What are you currently reading? Tell us about it! 
I just finished Sophie Kinsella's Wedding Night.  It's a chick lit book about a girl who goes through a break up and then decides to get married to her boyfriend from 15 years ago, which her sister thinks is a terrible idea.  It was an okay book, not the best I have read by any means, but I got through it.

Wedding Night

 2. What is one book you think every person should read at least once in their life? Why?
I'm going to be kind of typical and say that everyone should read Harry Potter.  It's kind of a big deal and I think that everyone should experience it or at least test it out to see what they think.

 3. Do you think you could ever write a book? If so what genre would it be?I would love to write a book.  Ideally I would like to write a thriller/suspense/mystery like Mary Higgins Clark.  But realistically I think that I would have an easier time writing Chick Lit because it's more something that I can relate to more. 

4. Do you listen to audiobooks?  Do you look for the same things in an audiobook that you do in one you'll read?
I have never listened to an audio book.  I have heard good things about them, but I just haven't taken the leap.  I kind of feel that listening to an audio book is like watching a movie though.  It's good and entertaining, but it's not the same experience as sitting down and reading a book.

5. Can you suggest a book of each type for others to try:
Fantasy -
Harry Potter
Nonfiction - Columbine by Dave Cullen
Fiction - Room by Emma Donahue

Romance - The Notebook or Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook
I'm not even sure that this line is in the book...
Classics - Anne of Green Gables, or The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (not sure if that's a classic, but it's pretty old).
Young Adult - The Divergent Series
I would like to take a moment to thank Blogger for the spacing issues that cannot be corrected.  Why, just why?

Monday, 19 August 2013

Things You Should Know

I have seen this on a bunch of blogs, but I am specifically taking it from Kisses & Croissants.  It's always a good idea to let people know a bit more about myself.

1. Which blog are you in love with that you only found out about recently?
This is funny because it's actually Patricia's blog, Kisses & Croissants!  I just find all of her posts really interesting, none of the fluff posts (that I am guilty of).  She always has an interesting topic to write about.  Plus I just love hearing about France.
2. Why did you start blogging?
Originally I started blogging because we bought a new house and had to renovate the whole thing.  It was supposed to be a DIY blog!  I wanted everyone to be able to see our progress.  Then I realized that some things progressed to quickly and I couldn't keep up and then things progressed too slowly and I didn't have anything to write about.  Plus I just wanted to write whatever I felt like sometimes.  So it turned into more of a lifestyle blog.
3. One goal you would like to achieve before 2014
My final CGA course is coming up in September.  If I pass this, then I'm done school forever.  (Haha I will probably never be done).  But this will be a huge accomplishment so I'm really looking forward to that.
4. What is your biggest struggle in life?
Being content.  I think this is something that a lot of people can relate to.  I'm actually fairly content right now.  It seems that so often you are just waiting for that next phase in life instead of really enjoying the moment that you are in.
Beauty in unexpected places. {via}
5. What hobby would you love to pick up?
I would like to improve my photography.  I'm already interested in it, but I'm just not that good most of the time.  So that's something that I would like to find more time for.
6. Tell us something we may not know about you
I registered for a donkey when I got married.  As a joke!  Eventually I had to take it off because I was seriously afraid that my uncle was going to get me one.

And if anyone else wants to play along, here are some questions for you.  If you don't have a blog, or just want to answer one question, answer in the comments!  (This means you all of my secret family and friend readers).
1. If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
2. If you could quit your job and move anywhere in the world, where would you go?
3. Who do you look up to in life?
4. What's your guilty pleasure?
5. What is your dream job?
6. What's your favourite blog and why?
7. What is something that scares you?
8. What is your favourite book of all time?


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Waiting to be Heard: A Review

I try not to review every book that I read, but when I read a good one, I feel that it should be discussed.  I recently finished the Amanda Knox book, Waiting to be Heard.  For those who don't know, Amanda Knox was an American university exchange student in Perugia Italy.  She was living in a house in Perugia with 2 Italian roommates and a British roommate, Meredith Kercher.  About six weeks in, Meredith was murdered and Amanda and her boyfriend of about a week, Raffaele were arrested and charged with the murder.

She was convicted of this murder, but after about four years in jail, their conviction was overturned on appeal due to errors that the police and prosecution had made with evidence.  She is currently back in the States, but Italy is retrying the case again.  There was a third party, Rudy Guede, who is currently in jail for the murder.  His DNA was actually found.  This book is her memoir up until the time when she returned home to the States.

The book was very well written.  I'm not sure whether she had help writing it, but she was interested in becoming a writer, so it may have been all her.  Of course, a memoir like this is biased.  She could have lied through the whole book, but personally, I do believe that she is innocent.  The Italian police made huge errors in the case and it really seemed that they had decided she was guilty due to her early reactions and so they tried to come up with evidence that would prove this.  It's kind of scary to think that doing the wrong thing, or not having an adequate alibi because you were at your boyfriend's house watching a movie, could cause you to go to prison for 25 years.  I'm sure that she left for Italy a young naive girl and came back to America a completely different person.
Amanda Knox trial 2009
Criticized for smiling in the court room, she said she was briefly smiling at her Family who had travelled to Italy to support her. {via}
I will admit that some of her behaviour following the murder was strange, but who are we to judge how someone reacts when one of their roommates were just murdered?  Personally, I have never experienced this, so I'm not sure what I would do. 

I would definitely recommend this book.  It kept me interested throughout.  She went into detail about conversations, her interrogation, her time in jail and the trial.  I would also like to read another book about the case written by someone external to it for comparison, to see whether my opinion stays the same.  If you are interested in this case, or true crime books at all, you should read this book.


Friday, 16 August 2013

Waterfalls of Quebec

Ryan and I are big into waterfalls, so of course, we had to make a few stops while in Quebec. 

The first waterfalls, Montmorency Falls, is just outside the city and is basically on the side of the highway.  It's taller than Niagara, although not as wide.  We did the entire trail and walked the stairs to the bottom.  Then we realized we had to walk the 470 stairs back to the top.  Either that or take the Gondola for $20.  $20?  I don't think so.

It was very beautiful although very touristy.
After Montmorency falls, we drove around Ile D'Orleans, which is a large island in the middle of the St. Lawrence.  We stopped at a Chocolaterie which had ice cream.  I had a dark chocolate dipped cone, and let me tell ya, I am still dreaming about this delicious ice cream cone.  It's a good thing it's so far away....

We also stopped at a Chocolaterie which had ice cream.  I had a dark chocolate dipped cone, and let me tell ya, I am still dreaming about this delicious ice cream cone.  It's a good thing it's so far away....
It was impossible not to get chocolate on your face...just sayin'
We stayed for a couple of nights at Mont-Saint-Anne, and hiked Les Sept-Chutes the next day, which means Seven Waterfalls (for those of you who speak the same amount of French as my husband). It was an amazing hike up to the top. 

They also have a hydroelectric plant there.  At the top we were able to see the dam. 

From the dam down to the plant, they had this huge pipe that is full of water flowing through it.  The hydro plant controls the water pressure based on the hydro demand at any given time.

We also did a tour of the hydro plant.  It was built in the early 1900s and it took 300 men 3 years to build the entire system.  They then had men living on site to run the plant.  It is now run remotely and everything is automatic.  It was really interesting.
I love being somewhat active on our holidays, and so all of the walking and hiking on this trip definitely met that criteria!  It was pretty exhausting but everything we did was worth it.

Guess what, I'm not done talking about this trip yet.  Next week I will tell you about the "biggest" activity that we did.  (Then I'm done, I promise, maybe.)