What’s Your Favourite Christmas Movie? #blogmas2015 Day Two!

The best....ever.

The best….ever.

I love Christmas movies.  I have several favourites.  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Elf, Home Alone, The Holiday, just to name a few.  They really help to put me in the Christmas spirit, and I love to watch them year after year.  They become a part of our Christmas traditions.

My all time favourite Christmas movie, hands down, and probably one of my favourite movies period, is Love Actually.  Lets just for a minute put aside the all star cast.  This movie is just too perfect.  It makes you laugh, it makes you cry.  It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and Christmasy inside.  It’s a series of different stories about a whole bunch of different people, that are all connected, in one way or another.  The cast is phenomenal.  Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and many more.  MR BEAN for crying out loud!  It’s warm, it’s funny, it’s perfect.  Great soundtrack too.

Re-watch this modern day classic with me this month.

If you have never watched this movie, watch it this Christmas season.  Please.  It’s so worth it.

“Just in cases…..”

 

 

*Image from IMDb.com

 

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How Important is a White Christmas? #blogmas2015 Day One!

A white Christmas?  Or green instead?

A white Christmas? Or green instead?

Gosh I love the Christmas season.  I’m curled up in bed with Nicholas right now watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I don’t think I’ve missed a year watching this….well, ever!
Just sitting here watching this thinking to myself about the weather and how mild it’s been so far this winter.  Here we sit on the 1st of December and we’ve only really had two snowfalls so far.  The accumulation with both was gone within a few days.  Living in Southwestern Ontario, we tend to get a really mixed bag with our winters.  Some are mild, with not much snow at all, some are insanely cold (-40 degrees Celsius for days on end) with metres of snow that piles up and doesn’t leave for months on end.  And everything in between.

I’m just going to say it – I really love winter.  I get excited when the snow falls, especially during the month of December.  I, like many others start to get a little sick of it when it gets to be February or March, but mostly I embrace it.  I live in Canada!  Some Canadians really need to just get over the fact that it snows here in the winter.  It kind of goes with the territory.  I am fortunate that I live less than a kilometre from work, so I don’t have to drive to work in it.  Joe works about a half an hour’s drive from home, and he hates the snow.  I sympathize, but I still love it!

To me, Christmas just isn’t the same without some of the white stuff.  Our family spent the Christmases of 1996 and 1997 on the beach in the Dominican Republic.  They were great holidays, lots of fun, but it almost seemed like Christmas came and went that year and we missed it.  The resorts had lights up, and served  big meals, sang the songs, and Christmas was in the air, but Christmas lights on palm trees just isn’t the same.

So forgive me if I get a little excited when it snows.  And forgive me for saying – I really hope we have a white Christmas this year…..and every other year too!

What about you?

I’m doing #blogmas2015

Christmas is a comin...

Christmas is a comin…

I think I’m going to do Blogmas this year.  What is Blogmas you ask?  Allow me to explain.  You may know this about me, you may not:  I am a YouTube junkie.  Vlogmas, is a YouTube thing started about 4 years ago by Ingrid Nilsen, who just happens to be the first channel I stumbled upon that fuelled my whole addiction.  Basically it’s daily vlogging in December, every day up until Christmas.  Several vloggers do it, some of my favourites being Zoe Sugg, Tanya Burr, and Sprinkle of Glitter, among several others.

Luckily for you, I don’t have a YouTube channel.

Instead, I have this space, so I thought I might do Blogmas instead.  It’s basically a print spinoff of Vlogmas, where I will post content to this blog every day in December, up until Christmas.  It could be anything really – a Christmas recipe, a Christmas book review, a DIY, a Christmas Party smoky eye look, an update on how my Christmas season is going, or even just a few lines complaining about how much there is to do and how little time there is to do it.  Just a little bit of Christmas, a little bit of what’s going on in my life, every day in December.

I could say that there is lots of cool stuff to come, and I do have a few ideas, but to be perfectly honest, I just thought of doing this earlier today, so I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants.

So December starts tomorrow (can you believe it???).

See you then!

I Heart New York – and Book Riot too!

Waiting for our adventure to start.

Waiting for our adventure to start.

I went on a whirlwind three days in New York City.  This was a pretty big deal for me because as I love to travel, and always say I want to travel, I have gone places, but nowhere far lately.  I haven’t flown since my honeymoon in 2002.

So when Jolene – my dearest friend, the eggs to my bacon, told me almost a year ago about an event that was coming to NYC – Book Riot Live – naturally I thought it sounded cool, but never really considered going.  Jolene being the seasoned traveller that she is, saw it and thought to herself – of course I’m going to that – I wonder if Danielle will go with me.  Book Riot is an awesome website and community about everything books.  If you’re a reader at all, you should check it out.  They had announced that they were having Book Riot Live – basically a two-day event, with authors, panels, vendors, games, signings, live recordings of podcasts, you name it.  Basically drool worthy stuff for bibliophiles like myself and Jolene.

Book Riot Live!

Book Riot Live!

We had been planning this trip for so long – it never really seemed like it was going to get here, but it did – and it happened November 7th – 9th.

I feel like I want to write this blog post so I don’t forget.  It’s been a week and I already feel like the feeling is starting to go.  The amazing feeling that I felt while I was in New York City.  Admittedly, it’s probably not for everyone.  But I feel like everyone could probably find something there for them.  Jolene was telling me about how much her Dad hated big cities, but he loved New York.  I seriously can’t blame him – there is so much there to love.

Our flight took off on Saturday morning around 5:50.  Between the time I arrived at Jo’s house on Friday night, and with the Niagara Airbus picking us up at 2:20am, I had gotten about 1 1/2 hours of sleep.  It was a good flight and we arrived in one piece on the tarmac at JFK at just after 7am.  We took a cab into the city and dropped our bags off at the hotel.  From there we walked to the Metropolitan West, where Book Riot Live was happening.  It was about a half an hour walk from our hotel.  Our hotel was located on 7th Ave between Central Park and Times Square.  We had to walk through Times Square to get to the convention.  I loved walking in New York.  It really is the best way to absorb everything, and feel like you’re really part of the experience.

Oh yeah - that's Margaret Atwood!

Oh yeah – that’s Margaret Atwood!

Book Riot the first day was awesome.  We got registered, and had our first look around.  We got to do a bit of shopping at the various vendors – all selling bookish goodness.  The day went very fast and included a bunch of different interesting panels, being part of a tattoo chain and actually meeting and getting my book signed by the one and only Margaret Atwood!  That was so cool.

At the end of the day we made it back to the hotel, where we cleaned up, and then went out for dinner before going to see Kinky Boots.  Now…Kinky Boots was awesome.  So much energy, so much light.  If you ever get the chance, I would totally recommend seeing it.

After walking back to our hotel, Jolene and I totally died.  With only 1 1/2 hours of sleep since Friday morning at 5:30, we were both totally exhausted.  No bed was ever quite so comfortable and no pillow was ever quite so soft as ours were that night.

We headed back to the Metropolitan West the next morning – feeling like real New Yorkers as we grabbed coffee and breakfast and ate while we walked.  We had another full, interesting day at Book Riot Live.  I want to take a second to really commend the folks over there.  They are a really quirky (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) and interesting group of people.  They are so diverse, so forward thinking, so unique.  I love reading their content, watching them on YouTube and following them on Twitter.  They didn’t disappoint in real life.  They’re an amazing crew and should be proud of themselves for putting on a fantastic event.  I hope it’s the first of many.

First sight out of the subway.

First sight out of the subway.

After Book Riot Live was over, we hopped on a subway and made our way down to the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and museum.  To be honest, I didn’t know really what to expect or how I would feel going there.  We came up out of the subway station and the first thing I saw was the new 1 World Trade Center jetting up into the sky.  It is a beautiful, impressive structure and the first sight took my breath away.  We walked over to the memorial fountains, that sit in the exact footprints of the fallen twin towers.

The museum itself completely blew me away.  In a way, I’m still processing everything I saw while we were there.  It was huge, and beautiful, and so incredibly sad, while still preserving the pride and resilience of New York, the United States, and Americans and Western Civilization on a whole.  In building this museum, they have found a way to preserve the details of that day, and the events leading up to it and following it, in a way that no one will ever forget even the smallest details.  The human factor will never be forgotten.  The planes flew into the buildings that day, but it was in no way about the planes or the buildings.  It was about the people.  The people in the planes.  The people in the buildings.  The people on the ground.  The service people, the families.  I walked through this space, full of people, and for the most part, you could hear a pin drop.  I was quite overcome by emotions several times throughout my time there.  It hit home several times – I remember this day.  I remember where I was, how I heard, how I felt.  This is part of the history of this generation, my generation.  The events of this day changed the world.  For me, there will always be life before 9/11 and life after 9/11.  I can say that.  My son will never be able to say that.  He never knew what life was like before.

Memorial fountain.

Memorial fountain.

Needless to say, if you are ever visiting New York City, please don’t leave without taking a trip down and making this part of it.  It was worth it, and it was definitely one of the things I will never forget about this experience.

Back on the subway we went, and got off at Penn Station so we could walk over to the Empire State Building.  We crossed off another bucket list item for me by stopping for a slice of pizza on our way there.  The Empire State Building was definitely another highlight of the trip, and I’m so glad we got to see it at night.  Manhattan is so beautiful from up there at night.

After some dessert and some drinks, we made it down to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Centre, and (the outside of) NBC Studios before heading back for another amazing sleep!

Empire State

Empire State

Amazing shot from the Empire State

Amazing shot from the Empire State

Monday dawned a beautiful day.  We checked out early, and headed over to NBC Studios in the hopes of going on the tour, which was unfortunately booked.  So we went for breakfast instead, after doing a bit of shopping in the store.  After breakfast, we went up to Central Park.  I had been very excited for this for the whole trip.  It occurred to me at one point walking down the street when a dog stopped to do his business on the sidewalk that New York (Manhattan anyway) is a city without grass.  Not a blade to be found everywhere.  So walking into Central Park was crazy different to the rest of the city.  It is an absolutely beautiful green space, and standing there within it looking out at the city around you is an incredible contrast.  One I don’t think you can fully appreciate unless you are there in the middle of it.

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park Selfie

Central Park Selfie

library

New York Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a trip to the BEAUTIFUL New York Public Library, a stroll down 5th Ave looking at all the stores that I could barely afford walking through the front doors, we stopped at Macy’s.  Decorated for Christmas, Macy’s is a feast for the eyes and senses.  To be perfectly honest, we walked in the door and into the handbags.  Beyond that was the cosmetics and fragrances.  Jolene went to some of the other floors, I never made it past that one area.  I was totally in my element.

After a bit more shopping, and a couple more slices of pizza, it was time to hop the subway to head back to JFK.  We got our bags and headed down to the subway, which was just down from our hotel.  Before we went down into the station, I stopped, and did a complete 360, looking around and trying to take everything in.  I knew when I next came out of the ground, we would be at JFK.

Heading home. See you soon NYC!!

Heading home. See you soon NYC!!

I was happy to get home, happy to see my family and crawl into my own bed, but I will always remember this trip and how amazing it was.  How addictive this city is.  I already have looked up flights for the spring so that I can go back and take Joe with me.  It’s completely exhausting.  I normally like to average about 10,000 steps in a day.  In the three days we were there I logged over 57,000 steps.  I ate everything under the sun and still lost 3 lbs while I was there because of all the walking.  It was wonderful, it was life changing, it was one of the best times of my entire life, and I can’t wait to go back again someday.

Thankful for the Big Little Things

I'm thankful for Pumpkin Spice lattes too. #psl

I’m thankful for Pumpkin Spice lattes too. #psl

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and of course that got me to thinking about what I am thankful for.  I try to count my blessings daily, though sometimes after a long day where it seems like everything is going wrong, it’s hard to not focus on the struggles and concentrate on the good things instead.  I’m very fortunate in my life.  Of course I’m thankful for my son, for my husband, for my parents and grandparents. I’m thankful for my friends, who support me through good times and bad, who I share laughter and tears with.  I’m thankful for my job that I love, and for the amazing people I get to work with every day.  I’m thankful that I have a home that I love to rest my head in every night and keep my family warm and safe.  I’m thankful for my health, and being able to be active.  I’m thankful for the food on my table and the clothes on my back.

These things though, I think are pretty obvious.  I send up a quick prayer of thanks every day for these things.  What about the little things? What about the things in my life that are a huge part of my life, but I don’t really stop to think about them at all – I just take for granted that they’re there and they’ll always be there.  Today I want to be thankful for them too.

  1. Books.  We all know I love books.  That they are a big part of my life.  Reading is one of my true loves. I never stop to think about what life would be like if there were no books. Probably because I shudder at the thought.  Books were my friends through childhood (though I had other friends too 🙂 ), my escape as a teenager, and my sanctuary as an adult.  As a part of this, I also want to mention how thankful I am for my local library, that gives me unlimited FREE access to all the books I love.  It is an under utilized service that our tax dollars pay for, and with today’s technology, we simply go online, do a search for what we want to read, and place a hold.  When it’s available, you get an email to go pick it up, and you can read it for free!  Not done after three weeks?  Renew it online.  I love my library and am so thankful it is just a short walk away.
  2. Music.  We all know I love music.  But sometimes I think I just take it for granted.  My life, everyone’s life has a soundtrack, and sometimes I don’t think we’re aware of that.  Music fuels me, motivates me and moves me.  Yesterday I went out for a walk and I thought for a change I would listen to an audiobook instead of the playlist I usually do.  I love books…see above…but I made it almost halfway before I had to switch back to music.  It really makes a difference and I’m so grateful that music is woven throughout the fabric of my life.
  3. My church.  My faith and going to church is a part of my life.  Today though I looked around and really felt thankful for the sense of community that I feel there.  I am happy to raise my son in that community and excited that he gets to be a part of it.  It’s like an extension of our family and going there feels like going home.
  4. Memories.  I work for an organization that specializes in senior healthcare services.  Every day I see what the effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be.  I can’t imagine what life would be like to lose all the memories that I hold dear.  Times I shared with my grandparents, some of whom are no longer with us.  Vacations we took, school memories, my wedding day, unlocking the front door of our home, the moment I found out I was pregnant with Nicholas, the day he was born.  I am so grateful that though sometimes I walk into a room and forget what I came in there for, my memories – the experiences that made me who I am – are all still intact.
  5. Breathing.  Okay, this seems obvious, because if I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t live.  But think about breathing aside from the receiving oxygen part of it.  Think about walking outside in the spring right after the rain starts and you can smell the rain in the air.  Or taking a deep breath on a crisp winter day and smelling the freshly fallen snow.  Or the smell of Memere’s beans baking in the oven.  Or being freaked out about something and focusing on your breathing and taking one breath at a time until you are calmed down again.  Sometimes I just think, as silly as it sounds, we really take breathing for granted.

I hope that everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving, and that everyone takes the time to be thankful for the little things.  Even though sometimes they are hard to see, they are there.  I’m getting ready to go and celebrate the day with our family, and will be very thankful for the meal that we will eat together.  Gobble gobble everyone!

Avocado and Eggs on Toast

Mmmmmm.....

Mmmmmm…..

My new favourite breakfast.  Or lunch, or snack.  It’s delicious, easy to make, and though it is a bit high in calories and fat, it is loaded with protein and fiber, and the fats are all the good ones.  It’s also very filling, and will stay with you for quite a while.  This recipe is for two slices of toast.  You could easily cut the recipe in half, which would really be plenty for breakfast, and would cut the calories and fat in half.  I also used white bread because it is what I had on hand.  I don’t really eat bread anymore, but may buy a loaf of healthier stuff to keep in the freezer for when I make this.  You could use whole wheat or a variety of different healthier breads to up the nutritional value.  Try it now, thank me later.

Update: A friend of mine on Facebook just suggested using poached eggs instead of scrambled.  The soft yolk would be like a sauce.  Definitely trying that next time I make this!

Ingredients

2 slices bread (nutritional breakdown below is for standard white bread)

2 tsp margarine or butter

2 large eggs

non-stick cooking spray

1/2 ripe avocado

1 small tomato, diced.

salt and pepper to season

Directions

Spray a small pan with the non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and scramble them.  Cut the avocado in half and remove the skin from one half, cutting it into chunks.

Toast your bread and butter it.  Add the eggs to the toast and place the cut up avocado on top.  Sprinkle with tomato.  Season with salt and pepper.

That’s it.  It doesn’t get much easier (or delicious) than that.

Nutritional Facts

Calories – 508, Fat – 30 grams, Fiber – 6.4 grams, Protein – 20 grams

Urban Decay Naked Smoky – Take it or Leave it?

Be still my beating heart....

Be still my beating heart….

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Urban Decay eyeshadows.  I own all of the full sized Naked palettes and I have loved them all.  I own several eyeshadows from several different ranges, but the Naked palettes are what I reach for probably 98% of the time.  They are gorgeous, go on beautifully both wet and dry, and I find them extremely wearable.

So naturally when I found out that they were releasing a new Naked – the Naked Smoky – I knew I wanted a piece of that!  Joe and I went into Sephora and I was on the lookout.  I honestly thought they would be sold out as it was so soon after launch, so my plan was to drool over the display and harass the staff about when they would be getting more stock.  It was a pleasant surprise when Joe came up to me and said: “it’s here…it’s over there.”  I went over to find a display with quite a few available.  It took me about 1.6 seconds to decide to buy it.  I knew I was going to get it sooner or later anyway, so why not just get it over with?  So what do I think of Urban Decay’s latest?

The first thing I absolutely have to mention is the packaging.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  Urban Decay’s packaging gets a little better with each new palette.  This packaging is a reflection of its name; it is a semi-transparent plastic that has a smoky look.  It has a magnetic closure that in my opinion is far superior to the snap closure of the two previous palettes, and it is better than the magnetic closure of the original Naked.

The shadows are beautiful.  They are the same almost creamy consistency that Urban Decay is known for.  The first 5 shades going from left to right are shimmery shades (High, Dirtysweet, Radar, Armor and Slanted).  This is followed by two dark grey/black shades (Dagger and Black Market), great for lining and to smudge up for a smoky eye.  This is followed by a dark purple shade (Smolder).  The last four colours are matte shades (Password, Whiskey, Combust and Thirteen) the final two being highlight shades.

I think the shades are all very wearable, and let you go from a very natural to a very dramatic smoky eye.  The shimmery shades in particular are very pretty, and go on very nice wet.  The colours are all very buildable, so you can go as light or as dark as you’re feeling, depending on the occasion.

The palette comes with a lookbook that serves as a guide to four different smoky eye looks.  It’s a good place to start, especially if you’re a bit intimidated by the smoky eye look.

Verdict:  Take it of course!  Especially if you’re already a fan of the Naked palettes, you’ll definitely want to add it to your collection.  Honestly, the Naked 3 is still my all time favourite and most used, but the Naked Smoky is a wonderful addition and I highly recommend it.

The Naked Smoky retails for $64.00 and can be purchased at Sephora and at select Shoppers Drug Marts.

Enjoy! 😉