Personal

Personal: July Update of My 2020 Goals

Back in January, I drafted a list of 20 things I wanted to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020. At the end of each month, I’ve shared an update with you about what I have (or have not) been doing. Here’s the original post, and here are my updates for January, February, March, April, May, and June. Here are the updates of what I have been doing during the month of July, if you’d like to know.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.
Well, my 41st birthday just happened, so I’ve had a chance to reflect on the list of challenges my family and friends gave me for my 40th one year ago. I LOVED having new challenges from my family and friends. Each challenge was well-suited to the person who gave it to me, so I enjoyed learning new things with them in mind. I accomplished quite a bit, which is great, but I still have things left to do (movies to watch, books to read, things to do and see in Italy). I’ll keep the list close at hand, so I can check things off in the year ahead. In July, I checked off “visit Shannon in Ottawa,” which was great. My friends hosted a fun (socially-distanced) lobster fest at their new house, and I was so pleased to attend!

2. Travel.
This month I traveled to Ottawa for two nights to visit family and friends (see #1), and it felt great to have a change of scene. The weekend was very low-key. I also enjoyed an incredible 2-night vacation at Langdon Hall. I am so grateful to have made this possible this year. I took advantage of LH’s 2-night special rate, and it was well worth it. The scenery, food, and service remains top-notch, and I’m already eager to return (no surprise there, right?). Now that I’ve experienced the 2-night stay, this might be what I have to continue to save up for! It was so special.

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.
No progress.

4. Experience more art.
I have been keeping an eye out on special pieces of art to buy, and I have been a fan of 15-year old Juliet‘s fruit art since she started posting them on Instagram not too long ago. I was fortunate to snap up this resin piece before she even posted it to her online shop (her pieces sell quickly!). It arrived last week, and I was happy to add it to my fruit art collection in my kitchen.

5. Play more board games.
My Dr. Mario skills remain strong, but beyond that, I haven’t made much progress on board games or my puzzle this month.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

Done!

7. Wear more dresses.
Yes! This has been such an easy goal to accomplish in July. I find them so easy and versatile. I ordered a few colourful dresses from a new-to-me company, too.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.
See #7. My dresses are colourful!

9. Save money.
This is so hard to do when you’ve quit one job, haven’t started the next job, and spent two nights at Langdon Hall. Eek! #workinprogress

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.
Completely on hold.

11. Eat more vegetables.
Sort of making decent progress

12. Buy more fun socks.
No sock purchases this month.

13. Connect people.
I was happy to introduce two people in real life after they had only communicated in online/text contexts. That was fun. I also connected a friend to my young artist cousin, so he could commission a piece of art. That was fun, too

14. Clean closets regularly.
No progress.

15. Trust my gut.
Yes, I’m still doing this. I feel good about trusting my gut.

16. Get a facial.
I was close to booking one this month, but I didn’t. It’s on my list for the fall/soon. This will not help me with #9.

17. Embrace soup.
I haven’t made any soup this month.

18. Clean up my shoes.
Done (previous months).

19. Pass on my magazines.
Yes. I continue to pass on magazines. This has been an easy goal to work on each month.

20. Have fun.
Yes, I’m still at it! I’m finding reasons every day/week to celebrate happy moments and make happy memories with family and friends!

***

And there you have it – my July update. Thanks for reading! Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to a happy August!

Personal: June Update of My 2020 Goals

Back in January, I drafted a list of 20 things I wanted to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020. At the end of each month, I’ve shared an update with you about what I have (or have not) been doing. Here’s the original post, and here are my updates for January, February, March, April, and May. Here are a few updates of what I have been doing during the month of June, if you’d like to know (I’m only listing items I’ve worked on.).

And if you’re annoyed by my lack of posts or my goal-focused posts, stay tuned, because I think I’m just about ready to get back into regular blogging.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday. I have so many movies still to watch, so I doubt I’ll be able to watch them and complete all the other tasks (some travel-related) by my July birthday. That’s okay. I’ll keep at it!

2. Travel. We all know I love to travel, but with the pandemic, I obviously haven’t done much with this goal. I’ve been staying around the Waterloo region mostly, but I have traveled to Toronto and Lake Huron for family visits. I have a couple of travel-ish plans set for July, so if all goes well, I can fill you in!

5. Play more board games. I’m still on a bit of a puzzle kick, and I have one on the go right now that is a photo of ice cream. Yum! This one is much easier than my first puzzle (Starry Night) because there are a lot of colour variations, and the puzzle pieces are different shapes and sizes. And, yes, I’m still playing Nintendo quite regularly. I still feel proud of my Dr. Mario skills! Now I should work on Donkey Kong.

7. Wear more dresses. It has been so easy to wear dresses now in the warm weather. I love them all, and I find it so easy to throw on a dress and be ready for my day!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe. I did add pink eyeglasses to my collection. Does this count?

11. Eat more vegetables. I have done okay with my veggie intake this month. And I’m excited for what’s to come in July as the lettuce, kale, and tomatoes in my little garden will be ready to eat!

12. Buy more fun socks. I bought fun socks for other people this month, which brought me joy. Check out these jar socks. Aren’t they fun?

13. Connect people. I made some connections between guest speakers and my students this month.

14. Clean closets regularly. I cleaned out two big closets this month, which was SO satisfying. I’m happy to share that I’m no longer a hoarder of empty boxes or bubble wrap.

15. Trust my gut. Yes, I’m still doing this. I feel good about trusting my gut.

18. Clean up my shoes. My shoe closet is so tidy now! Yes!

19. Pass on my magazines. Yes. I continue to pass on magazines. I’ve added books to this goal now, too.

20. Have fun. YOLO (you only live once), right? I’m still doing things that make me happy!

***

And there you have it – my June update. Thanks for reading! Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to a happy July!

Get Educated

Deaths. Riots. Protests. Deaths. Deaths. More deaths.

The news has been overwhelming. I’ve had to stop scrolling through my Twitter feed because it’s just too much. But ignoring what’s happening isn’t productive. Shutting off the news isn’t useful.

At this time, I also can’t stop thinking about This is America by Childish Gambino. Anyone else? It was released in 2018, but it seems that the images could have been taken from the news clips of this week. Terrible. Just awful.

It’s no secret that I value education. I learn from school, texts, books, friends, news, articles, professors, etc. I try to stay informed by reading a variety of sources, thinking critically, and reflecting on my own biases.

Given what’s happening in the USA, and what happens in Canada, regularly, too, regarding racial wars, I’m trying to learn more and fill in the gaps of my own knowledge, education, and experiences. Perhaps you are, too. The lists of educational resources that have been shared online are overwhelming, but these sites seem to be well-curated. It’s a starting point if you and your families want to learn more about racism, implicit bias, and anti-racism work.

  1. Anti-racism resources
  2. 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice
  3. A detailed list of anti-racism resources

If you have other resources to share, please do so.

I believe education is one of the best gifts we can give children around the world. Education tests our perspectives and our previous understandings. Education helps us to make sense of the world around us. Education gives us power, language, ideas, and skills to effect change. Two organizations that I have worked with who provide great education opportunities for black children and youth are:

  1. Leadership by Design – Part of the Lifelong Leadership Institute, this Toronto-based program gives African-Caribbean youth opportunities to develop and practice their leadership skills. The group of highschool students who I met in 2018 were impressive to say the least.
  2. Pendo – Located near Nairobi, Kenya, the first Pendo school opened in 2019 with a focus on providing early childhood education and nutrition to young Kenyans. Pendo means love in Swahili.

If you know of other educational programs, please share them in the comments.

I shared a similar message with my students this week because I know I can effect change through my work at the university.

Be well.

Personal: May Update of 2020 Goals

Back in January, I drafted a list of 20 things I wanted to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020. At the end of each month, I’ve shared an update with you about what I have (or have not) been doing. Here’s the original post, and here are my updates for January, February, March, and April. Here are a few updates of what I have been doing during the month of May, if you’d like to know (I’m only listing items I’ve worked on.).

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4. Experience more art.

I’ve had a peek into some museums via this link. I also participated in two Empty Bowls fundraisers for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region where I got to view the creations of local potters. I’ve added three new bowls to my growing collection of pottery from this event from years past.

5. Play more board games.

I haven’t played Sequence – or any other board game – for quite some time! But I did finish a puzzle, and I have been playing on my new Nintendo (Dr. Mario is my current favourite game). Do those count as board games?

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

Yes! I’ve got this goal completely under control! I baked my mom’s cake and surprised her with it on Mother’s Day! It was my first visit to my parents’ house since February, so it was nice to mark the occasion with my mom’s signature cake!

7. Wear more dresses.

Most days, I’ve been wearing jeans or pants. But in the last few weeks, I’ve pulled out a couple of dresses to wear. I love dresses!

13. Connect people.

I made a few work-related connections in May.

20. Have fun.

With so much awfulness in the world, I try to celebrate the good things in life regularly. Recently, I’ve started having a friend or two over for backyard drinks. We maintain a distance, disinfecting wipes are always present, and we find reasons to laugh amid all the uncertainty and chaos we’re living through. It’s good fun.

***

Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to a cheerful June!

Personal: April Update of 2020 Goals

Back in January, I drafted a list of 20 things I wanted to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020. At the end of each month, I’ve shared an update with you about what I have (or have not) been doing. Here’s the original post, and here are my updates for January, February, and March. In March, I only worked on three goals, so I had high hopes for April even though the month started off with more self-isolation. Here’s what I have been doing, if you’d like to know.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.

The month started off with a Star Wars marathon. I have watched five movies this month. There are so many! I have watched the movies in the order of release and I go back to this chart (see method 1) to make sure I’m on the right track. So far, the first one (released in 1977) – Episode IV: A New Hope – is my favourite.

2. Travel.

All travel is currently still on hold on account of the ol’ Coronavirus. Once the province is out of self-isolation, I am off on a road trip. Somewhere. Not sure where. Anywhere. Suggestions?

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.

I have taken a lot of walks around my neighbourhood, and I while I haven’t really learned anything new, I have been enjoying observing the architecture of the houses and buildings in my community.

I also read Losing the Signal by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. It tells “the untold story behind the extraordinary rise and spectacular fall of Blackberry.” It was interesting to learn more about the evolution of RIM/BlackBerry.

4. Experience more art.

I have been dreaming about art I’d like to own one day. Caviar20 is one of my go-to spots for art dreaming.

5. Play more board games.

Over Zoom and FaceTime, I’ve played euchre, Yahtzee, and war (the card game) with friends and family. Good times.

I also got hooked on a challenging puzzle, which then motivated me to place an order for another one. It should arrive any day now, and I have a second one added to my wish list.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

I tried to minimize my sugar intake in April after a very sugar-heavy March, so it was a no-go on mom’s cake.

7. Wear more dresses.

I love wearing dresses to work. Now that I work from home (and it’s still cold), I only wore a dress once this month.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.

No progress.

9. Save money.

I have made a decent amount of progress on this goal because everything is shut down. While I haven’t spent money at restaurants, bars, cafés, and clothing stores, I have spent more money at the grocery store and online. I have made a few new fun purchases, but since shipping is slower than usual these days, I don’t have any of my purchases in hand quite yet. When I do, I’ll update you!

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.

Zero progress.

11. Eat more vegetables.

Yes! It has been easy to increase my veggie intake via salads, soups, and side dishes.

12. Buy more fun socks.

No progress.

13. Connect people.

I was able to make some connections for my students. Yay!

14. Clean closets regularly.

I spent one weekend cleaning out two spaces: my linen closet and my tool/storage room. I’m happy to report that I cleared out quite a bit and there’s now empty space in both closets (ready to be filled?)!

15. Trust my gut.

I had a few decisions to make this month, and I’m happy to have trusted my gut as I made them.

16. Get a facial.

I didn’t have a facial this month because all the spas are closed. I have, however, used up just about all the fancy product samples that I had collected. Does that count?

I’ve also put my Clarisonic back into my morning routine, and my skin feels so soft. It’s a good little gadget.

17. Embrace soup.

I didn’t try making any new soups this month, but I did eat soup that others made for me.

18. Clean up my shoes.

I’m happy to report that my shoes are no longer scattered all over my bedroom floor. I have cleaned out my shoes, and my closet is looking much more organized.

19. Pass on my magazines.

Yes! I did this a couple of times in April! I currently have subscriptions to Architectural Digest, Style at Home, and House & Home.

20. Have fun.

Zoom meet-ups with friends and family have continued to be fun in April. Weird times, but we’re managing to stay connected to share some laughs. I hope you are, too!

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Have a great weekend, everyone! Here’s to a positive May!

Personal: Reflections on Life in the Age of COVID-19

I haven’t felt much like blogging. I haven’t felt like writing about kitchen design and cottage dreams as I have in the past. I still like reading about what other bloggers are writing about, but I haven’t felt much like contributing. I’m sure I will again in time because I do think reading and writing about non-pandemic and non-work related things is fun and interesting not just for me, but for readers, too.

What do you have to say about this? Do you want some non-COVID-19 content to break up your days? Fashion, travel, art, food…are you craving these distractions? Should I get back to writing regularly about things I am dreaming about?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been heavy on my mind since mid-February when I learned of the outbreak in my relatives’ small town in Italy (the epicentre of the Italian outbreak, which I still find hard to believe). After 40 days in two hospitals in a neighbouring town, my uncle returned home just after Easter. We are grateful for his recovery.

Once March rolled around in Canada, everything went topsy-turvy! We’re now into week 6 of the working from home / self-isolation life, and I’d like to take a moment (or a few) to reflect on what’s been going on because (a) I want a written record of what I’m doing and feeling to look back on (yes, someday), (b) I think writing is therapeutic, (c) I want to share my gratitude, and (d) I want to reconnect with my White Cabana community (hey, that’s you!).

WORK

I’m incredibly grateful for my work.

I teach at the university. As of March 17th, the university moved just about all of its operations online. I do wish the university gave everybody a couple of days to breathe/regroup/plan before it moved everything online, but it didn’t. As such, the first two weeks were incredibly taxing. It was hard to keep up with emails, Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings, new programming options, and new platforms for teaching and learning. It was a lot. Overall, the last six weeks have been non-stop action, and I have been tied to my computer perhaps more than ever before (yes, even more than when I was writing my PhD dissertation).

My students were appreciative that my course continued as per usual (just about). They did presentations and group work online and managed the change incredibly well. We shared stories of successes, challenges, and some laughter, too, in our virtual class. It’ll be an end-of-term to remember!

The university has since announced that the spring semester will carry on online, too. As such, the prep work continues. This new learning environment has given me new challenges and opportunities to learn, and for that, I am grateful. I don’t like being stagnant in my teaching approaches. I have the sense that the fall term will be online, too, which means a rethinking of program offering and course delivery. It’s an interesting time!

There are many challenges ahead for Canadian universities: enrollment concerns, international student attendance, and faculty training to teach remotely. There are incredible challenges for our students, too: learning in a completely online environment, socializing at a distance, lack of summer jobs, residence closures, and maintaining good mental health. At this point, the list of challenges seems to be never ending.

That said, we are in this together.

Students, staff, and faculty have adapted and are creating new ways to teach and learn. New communities online have developed. I attended a meet-up organized by my academic association a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to “meet” people in my academic community whom I had never encountered before. It was a rich, informative session, and it reminded me that I am part of a group of committed educators. I have learned more about the research and best practices about online teaching environments, and it’s been good to stretch my brain in new directions. (I do love learning, remember).

I am excited about the work that I do. For that, I am so very grateful.

PERSONAL

The biggest change in my personal life is the lack of face-to-face interaction with family and friends. I know you can relate. I am absolutely okay to be alone (I have lived alone for a really long time!), but I do miss the freedom of going for walks with others, inviting people over for dinner, and visiting my parents.

In addition to Zoom parties with friends and family, I have had a coffee date with my neighbour on our respective porches, and I spent three beautiful weeks at Lake Huron. Friends have left baked goods in bags hanging on my front door. These interactions with family and friends – although brief and from afar – have been special.

I know there is a lot of chatter online about people taking up new (or old) hobbies. Sourdough and bagels seem like top picks! So is mask sewing, painting, and spring cleaning. Because of my work life, I haven’t had much time to explore new hobbies…or even return to old ones. I haven’t jumped on any COVID-19 hobby trends, and I haven’t taken up TikTok dance challenges. That said, I have made more meals than ever before, enjoyed quiet hours of reading, and tried a few new recipes.

I know there are so many recipes floating around online, but these are the new to me recipes that I would highly recommend: this pasta dish, this roast chicken, and these nodini (bread knots). So good! So easy!

MENTAL

I haven’t been so concerned about being alone because I am committed to maintaining a decent social life (Zoom parties every week!), and I connect with my family a lot. But when I step out into the world, I feel uncomfortable. I go for daily walks, and I stay far away from others. I say hello and smile at passerby, but it’s from a distance, and it feels so weird. Six weeks in, and it still feels weird. It seems that everyone is scared of everyone else these days.

I avoided stores for as long as possible. I had no desire to go to the grocery store. I didn’t love grocery shopping pre-pandemic, and I really don’t like it now. On my last trip, I told myself I would buy enough food for a month, so I wouldn’t have to go back. I think I have two more weeks to go. Fruit and veggie supply is dwindling, I have to admit. But I’m determined to eat up everything in my house before I have to go back to the grocery store. Hello paranoia! It’s terrible! Does anyone else feel this way?

A simple task from the past has turned into one that I really do dread! Why? Well, I think it’s because I don’t like seeing empty shelves, the grocery store is quieter than usual, there are stricter rules to follow (e.g., aisle directions), and I get lost in thoughts about how many people have touched the grocery items. When I came home from a big grocery shopping trip two weeks ago, I washed everything. Every item got at least a rinse. I’m not sure if this is necessary, but it made me feel better.

It’s ridiculous that I am so dramatic about making trips to the grocery store. I am lucky to live within walking distance of three well-stocked grocery stores, and I haven’t had to be so concerned about what to buy and prices. I’m grateful. Others, many others, are struggling with even finding access to food. Affording food. It’s a basic human right, and people struggle. It’s terrible at any time. It’s terrible in this uncertain period.

HOW TO HELP

I know I am fortunate. I have a beautiful home. I have plenty of food. I work. I have great friends and family. I know there are many others who are less fortunate.

I have chosen to donate to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region because I want my community to be nourished. There are so many organizations and people to support during this challenging time, so, if you are able, I encourage you to look within your community and donate to areas of need.

THANK YOU

I am grateful for all the people who are working in our essential services. I thank them as I’m being assisted, and I am more patient with them (and line-ups) than ever before.

A sincere word of thanks or an extra few minutes of conversation does seem to make everyone a bit happier – even if it is through plastic barriers and face masks.

Be well.

Personal: March Update of 2020 Goals

Here’s the original post, my January update, and my February update if you’d like to get caught up. If not, here’s how I’m making out with my 20 things I’d like to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020.

March has been quite challenging (you know, the ol’ COVID-19 pandemic). I haven’t accomplished much on my list at all! I have only worked on numbers 11, 12, and 20 (so I’ve only included them in today’s post). Three items? Here’s hoping I’ll do better in April!

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11. Eat more vegetables.

I have continued to eat more veggies! I continue to have salads in heavy rotation, and the other day I made broccoli with bacon. Yum!

12. Buy more fun socks.

I picked up this trio when I was at Winners early in the month.

20. Have fun.

Regardless of where I am or what is happening in the world, I am still trying to have a bit of fun every day! I have been fortunate to be at a cottage for just about three weeks, and I consider daily beach walks fun! I’ve even started a new rock collection to remind me of this place and this time.

***

So there’s my brief March recap. I’m ready for spring and an interesting April (but maybe less world-wide pandemic kind of interesting!).

Personal: February Update of 2020 Goals

Here’s the original post and my January update if you’d like to get caught up. If not, here’s how I’m making out with my 20 things I’d like to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.

Two movies got crossed off my list: Manhattan (I liked it) and Die Hard (I liked it, too). There are non-movies on my 40th-challenges list, but I haven’t accomplished the others, so nothing else to report.

2. Travel.

No progress. My dreams of traveling to Singapore and Italy in 2020 are currently on hold on account of the ol’ Coronavirus.

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.

Last month, I let you know that I read Blackberry Town by Chuck Howitt. I have since met him in real life, and we’re meeting again soon. I love that KW is small enough that you can meet people online and offline, too.

4. Experience more art.

No progress. I didn’t attend any shows or exhibitions in February.

5. Play more board games.

It seems that anyone who comes over to my house has been forced wanted to play Sequence with me. I like the game a lot. I played it with friends when they were over for dinner at the beginning of the month.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

No progress. I was going to make it for Valentine’s day, but I made these sugar cookies instead.

7. Wear more dresses.

I’m still doing okay with this one. I cleaned out my closet and got rid of a bunch of old ones. Now I have more space to add a few more dresses to my wardrobe!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.

Nope. I still haven’t made progress. I was sort of close to buying a pair of royal blue pants recently, but I ended up passing on the purchase. Maybe spring will inspire me to wear more colour.

9. Save money.

I have made a bit of progress here. I’ve created a spreadsheet. That’s something, right? I’ve also made some changes to my savings and spending habits.

Last month, I wrote about a drastic decline in my Starbucks visits. I went 5 times in January (spending about $18). In February, I went 2 times (spending about $12…including a time I treated someone else). I haven’t yet tracked non-Starbucks visits, unfortunately. I think I grabbed a coffee out and about maybe 3 times in February.

I ate out a lot in February – lunches, dinners, ordering food in – and I’d like to focus on reducing this in March.

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.

Zero progress. I fear this reno is still a long time away.

11. Eat more vegetables.

I’ve continued to add salad into my daily meals, which is good.

12. Buy more fun socks.

No progress.

13. Connect people.

I connected two more people this month. That was fun.

14. Clean closets regularly.

I did a pretty good clean-out mid-month, which resulted in a big donation. Yay!

15. Trust my gut.

This remains a kind of daily affirmation. I think it’s definitely helping me make decisions.

16. Get a facial.

Zero progress.

17. Embrace soup.

Yes, I made potato leek soup this month.

18. Clean up my shoes.

Zero progress.

19. Pass on my magazines.

Yes! I did this a couple of times in February!

20. Have fun.

Yes! I did a lot of this in February. I’ll definitely continue this in March!

***

So there’s my February recap. I’ll aim to post another update in March if you care to follow along my progress with me.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Here’s to a great start to March!

Truth Talk: A Weekend of Work

I have quite a bit on the go at the moment, which means that books are piled, pillows are not fluffed, and the coffee table could benefit from some Windex. That said, the sun shone all weekend long, and I loved working away in my very bright home.

Truth Talk: An Obvious Choice

What do you think of my new mug?

I think it’s awesome! Some of my coworkers think it’s awesome, too. Others think I’m just being obnoxious.

I get called “Miss” a lot (from students, mostly), and it drives me crazy. Now instead of correcting them, I can just show them my mug. Subtle, right?

Personal: January Update of 2020 Goals

Phew – this week just flew by! I didn’t have a chance to finalize any of my draft posts for the week. And now? It’s the end of the month! February is going to go by in a flash because it’s a short one. Then we only have one more month of winter. Hooray! I’m already looking forward to April’s sunshine (or showers?). I’m so so tired of the cold! Heck, I’ve been tired of the cold since November!

Moving right along. I was reviewing some of my January posts, and my 2020 “goals” post had me reflecting on what I have/haven’t done with this list. Here’s the original post, if you’d like to read it. If not, here’s how I’m making out with my 20 things I’d like to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.

I’ve knocked two items off of my list: watching Annie Hall (I didn’t love it.) and 7 Days in Hell (so absurd).

2. Travel.

I don’t yet have a major trip planned. Singapore has moved down on my travel list on account of the Coronavirus. I did book a long weekend getaway to Kingston last week, so that definitely counts as travel!

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.

I read (and actually couldn’t put down) Blackberry Town by Chuck Howitt. It was fascinating to learn (or be reminded of, in some cases) about the growth of tech – and Blackberry – in the Waterloo Region.

I also read a mystery novel – Murder as a Fine Art – by David Morrell. He’s a KW native and was the author behind Rambo! It was excellent. I’m looking forward to reading another one of his books soon.

4. Experience more art.

I did a lot in January, which made me very happy! I took part in a flamenco masterclass with Los Aurora and then watched their concert. I also went to the KW symphony (Mozart), and saw Rochelle Rubenstein’s show at the Robert Langen Art Gallery at Laurier.

5. Play more board games.

After spending New Year’s Eve playing Sequence, I went to Chapters-Indigo to grab my own game. I played it with friends when they came from brunch a few weeks ago. I’m eager to play it again!

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

Take 1 is done! The cake turned out well, but I have a few tweaks to make for the next round.

7. Wear more dresses.

I’m doing okay with this one. Here’s one of my black dresses that is on nearly weekly repeat!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.

Nope. I haven’t made any progress on this one. The only colour in my wardrobe these days is my yellow coat.

9. Save money.

While I drastically reduced my Starbucks intake in January (yay!), I spent a lot of money on travel, eating out, activities, etc (oops). This is still a work in progress!

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.

Zero progress.

11. Eat more vegetables.

I’ve upped my intake of salad this week. That’s about all.

12. Buy more fun socks.

Yes! I have two new pairs to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit!

13. Connect people.

I was able to do this twice in January. I’m not sure if anything will come of the connections that I tried to make, but I’ll keep at it.

14. Clean closets regularly.

Zero progress.

15. Trust my gut.

This is kind of like my daily affirmation.

16. Get a facial.

Zero progress.

17. Embrace soup.

I made Ana-Maria’s carrot and tomato soup recipe, and it was so good! I made a huge batch, so I froze a lot of it, and it was so handy to have soup on the go for busy nights. This reminds me that I should make another batch this weekend.

18. Clean up my shoes.

Zero progress. Instead of getting rid of some, I added another pair to the mix. Oops. But they’re from a new-to-me brand, Hogl, and they may just be the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned!

19. Pass on my magazines.

Yes! I did this a couple of times in January!

20. Have fun.

Yes! I did a lot of this in January. I’ll definitely continue this in February!

***

So there’s my January review. I’ll aim to post another update in February if you care to follow along my progress with me.

Happy New Year!

Well, well, well. Here we are! A new year. A new decade. It’s exciting, isn’t it? How are you feeling going into the new year? Are you making resolutions, setting intentions, stating affirmations? How do you move from one year to the next?

I rarely set goals for January 1st. Instead, I set goals around my birthday and/or the academic school year. These dates make a bit more sense for me. That said, I seem to be setting (and revising) goals fairly constantly, especially when I’m feeling a little disorganized in certain areas of my life.

I’m looking forward to 2020. Here are 20 things (in no particular order) that I do hope to do, see, think about, read, explore, and experience in 2020. I guess these are goals of sorts!

1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday. They keep adding more, so the list seems to be never ending.

2. Travel. Travel is always on my must-do list. I have a few trip ideas in mind for 2020, but I don’t have anything booked. I’m on constant flight watch though, so when the price is right, I’ll book!

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region. The more that I read about this region, the more excited I get about it. There’s history at every corner, and I find it fascinating. I think I’ll keep a look out for walking tours in the warmer months.

4. Experience more art. I feel like my life is pretty art-filled as it is, but I want to see and learn more. I want to attend more shows anywhere and everywhere that I may be.

5. Play more board games. Has anyone else out there noticed an increase in people “our age” playing more board games and card games? I played euchre and Sequence over the holiday, and now I just want to keep playing.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake. My mom bakes a marble cake that is a crowd favourite. I think I have only made it once in my life. I think this might be the year that I try to master it.

7. Wear more dresses. I mean, I already wear a lot of dresses, but I want to wear more. I will continue to add little black dresses into my wardrobe (they’re too hard to resist), but I’m going to be on the lookout for unique prints and shapes.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe. This is still a “consideration” point. I’m not going to commit to adding colour to my wardrobe because I’m not sure if I want to. Wearing black and white just about every day is really easy. And I like easy.

9. Save money. Who doesn’t add this to their ongoing list of goals? Do I have strategies for this? Sort of. I need to do more. One thing I know I can/should do is spend less on unnecessary things like random kitchen gadgets that I don’t need and Starbucks. Oh, Starbucks. Saving money will help me with #10.

10. Plan a major bathroom reno. Okay. This still might be a plan and I don’t yet know if I can bring it to fruition, but I really hate my big bathroom with its ridiculous jacuzzi tub. I know I’ve been saying it for years, but this may just be the year that I tackle the project. It would be so satisfying to rip out the old fixtures.

11. Eat more vegetables. I was on a salad-for-lunch kick for a long while (mostly in the warmer months), and I need to get this routine back into my life because if I eat at least one salad a day, I will feel like I’m eating a lot of vegetables. I don’t eat enough vegetables.

12. Buy more fun socks. I came back from Japan with many (many) pairs of fun Japanese socks. I know I’m supposed to be saving money (#9), but maybe I can make an exception for fun socks that make me smile.

13. Connect people. I’m going to continue to try to connect people when I can. This could be for business, for relationships, or for friendships. If I think two people I know might get a long, I’m going to connect them.

14. Clean closets regularly. I think I have been pretty good at clearing out unwanted items from my closets regularly, but there’s room for improvement. I keep (hoard?) too much for “just in case” purposes. I have a much-too-large collection of ribbons, for example, and the pile never seems to go down. Don’t even ask me how many empty boxes I have. It’s embarrassing.

15. Trust my gut. I’m reminding myself to trust my gut more in 2020.

16. Get a facial. Maybe one. Maybe more. I have only had a facial once in my life. I feel like I need to give another one a try. I think I would enjoy it. I think my skin would, too.

17. Embrace soup. I rarely eat soup. I think I need to eat more of it. Maybe I should make batches of vegetable soup more often (to tackle #11, too).

18. Clean up my shoes. I have so many shoes. Not too many, but so many. I have them stacked at my office at work, and they are nearly in every closet in my home. And my small foyer is overwhelmed by them. I need to keep them tidy, and I think I should polish them more often while I’m at it.

19. Pass on my magazines. I have a few magazine subscriptions, and I tend to keep issues long after I have read them. Why? Not sure. I rarely go back to read them. I think 2020 is the year that I keep passing them on for others to enjoy.

20. Have fun. Life is short, right? I will continue to have fun and do things that make me happy.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, and productive 2020!

Saturday Edition: Things on My Mind

I am so excited about today. Why? Because I’m doing nothing. I’m just hanging out at home and catching up on life. I’ve had a busy fall (as per usual because of my work schedule), and while I’m grateful that I have friends and family who plan awesome events, dinners, parties, and outings, every so often, I need space. My space. To feel organized. To clean my house. To make a real meal. To spend time being lazy. Today is the day.

1.Music. I’m still a big fan of Lizzo. Here she is doing a music challenge with Elle magazine.

2. Living. Looking for a few ideas to increase your sustainable living ways? Read this.

3. Decor. If you’re looking to know about the best white paint colours, read Jacquelyn’s post.

4. Pet. I got a fish this week. I almost wrote that I got a dog. But, it’s a fish. A fancy betta fish. It’s not white, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Its colouring is lovely. Right now, his name is JC. The dog decision is on hold for a while until I figure out my allergy issues. Sigh. For now, if you need a dog sitter, let me know.

5. Charity. One of the events that I attended last week was Daniela‘s fundraiser for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation; the event raised $14,000 for the foundation, which is absolutely amazing! Congrats, Daniela!

6. Books. I finished Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. I didn’t love it. It was long. I wasn’t fully engaged. It was the first Margaret Atwood book I have ever read. I’m open to reading others. Any recommendations (besides Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments)?

I started Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbour this week. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m liking it so far.

7. Waterloo. Last night, I attended the Arts Awards Waterloo Region to recognize artists in our region. I amazed by people’s creativity. And I’m so glad there’s a strong community of people who support the arts.

8. Food. When the weather turned cold, I picked all the green cherry tomatoes that were still growing in my garden, and I put them in a bag. I’m happy to report that they all turned red. I am roasting them now, and my kitchen is smelling so good.

I hope you have a great Saturday doing whatever is that you love and need to do!

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Read. Do you have a favourite day of the week? Perhaps you should consider Thursday as the best day.

2. Bake. I made these cookies for my colleagues this week. People devoured them very quickly. It’s definitely a repeat recipe.

3. Fashion. I’m on the hunt for a pair of patent leather oxford heels. I’m considering something like these or these.

4. Travel. People seemed to really like the post I wrote earlier this week about Detroit. Thanks. If you’re curious about this city, read the post for a small glimpse into what I observed.

5. Charity. Thanks to the support of family and friends, I was able to raise $402.26 for the Canadian Cancer Society this year. Hooray! Anytime is a great time to donate, so if you’d like to, please donate here. October is #WhiteCabanaWearsPink month and Daniela and I posted a few of our favourite pink things: pink gifts for you, pink for kids, pouffy pink fashion, and little pink houses.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Personal: Something Fun to Do with Kids

As many of you know, I have a background in education, and I have taught kids of all ages all sorts of things in my life. These days, I teach young adults, so I don’t have many opportunities to interact with young kids. I love watching young kids learn new things, and I also love to challenge them! I had the opportunity to observe my sweet (super sweet) nephews and niece trying new things when I was in North Carolina a few weeks ago, and I caught some of this learning on time-lapse video. Once I showed them the first fast video, they all wanted to be video-taped, so I now have a collection of videos that make me smile. Here are three of my favourites. I just love the kids’ facial expressions as they work through their activities.

First up is Duke. He was building a whale from a Japanese mini-lego-type kit I brought him.

Next, we have Holt who is a little inventor and needed help crafting a plastic helmet for his hedgehog who was taking skydiving flights down the stairs all morning.

Finally, we have Gigi who was writing a thank you letter. She’s putting so much thought into carefully spelling out words.

Time-lapse video is an easy and fun way to capture kids’ learning as well as their very cute facial expressions!

Oh, I almost forgot…Happy Halloween!

Experience: Meditation

At the end of July, for a couple of reasons, I started to incorporate meditation into my day. I began using the Headspace app for 3-, 5-, and 10-minute meditation sessions. The 5-minute guided sessions were the easiest to incorporate into my end-of-day routine, so I went through (and then repeated) the free 10-day cycle. At the end of each day, the guided meditation session helped me to calm down and think about my mind and body.

Because I wanted to learn more about meditation, and because a couple of friends added “silent retreat” to my 40th-year-challenges list, I signed up for a 1-day silent meditation retreat here in Waterloo. Silent. Yes, silent. As in…no talking from 9am to 3pm. Curious about this experience? Read on!

While friends and family were curious about if I could stay quiet for the full day, I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. I was more concerned about being bored and sitting in one spot for six hours. An experienced friend prepped me a bit, but we never chatted about the possible schedule of the day.

My 1-day silent retreat was led by Sue of the Waterloo Riverview Dharma Centre. The Cedarcliffe location was serene with a lush garden and plenty of beautiful views of the Grand River. I walked into the space and felt excited to learn. After a few minutes of mingling while we waited for all the participants to arrive, Sue explained the organization of the day. We’d participate in a variety of meditations – silent, guided, movement, walking. Lunch, too, would be in noble silence. As soon as Sue tapped the singing bowl, silence was expected.

The day looked something like this:

  • guided meditation
  • movement meditation
  • silent meditation
  • walking meditation (short path)
  • lunch – mindful eating, rest, walk
  • guided meditation
  • silent meditation
  • walking meditation (wandering)
  • metta (loving-kindness) meditation

Each meditation session was between 30 minutes and 1 hour in length (e.g., lunch). In between, we took short breaks to stretch, go to the bathroom, and drink water. The day went by quickly. I thought a lot…and I didn’t think at all. I was challenged by mindful eating. I took a brief nap after lunch. I noticed things in the garden – leaves, shapes, plants, sounds – that I hadn’t ever paid attention to. Towards the end of the day, I spotted branches on a bush that, if you looked at them in just the right way, they formed the shape of a heart. I was so calm. Truly calm. The day was a welcome pause.

I’m glad I signed up for the 1-day meditation. I learned more about the practice of meditation, and I challenged myself. Did my never-ending to do lists cross through my mind at all during the day? Of course! But the guided meditation sessions helped me bring my mind back to thinking about my breathing and my body. My to do lists could wait for another day!

To continue my meditation practice at home, I have since moved from using the Headspace app to using the Insight Timer app (thanks for the recommendation, Chris!). It has the largest free library of free meditations, and you can filter by type (e.g., learning to meditate, coping with anxiety, improving your sleep) and by time (e.g., 5 minutes to 30+ minutes). I have listened to a 4-minute sleep meditation before bed a few times, and I have had the deepest sleeps.

Do you practice meditation? Any advice?

Two for Tuesday: Flamenco

As you may remember, my family and friends gave me a whole list of challenges and things to do during my 40th year. My cousin suggested I take a dance class. I was open to the suggestion, but didn’t have anything in mind until I went to see a Flamenco show in August here in Waterloo, and it clicked!

I saw my first flamenco show when I was 25 and traveling in the south of Spain with my pen pal*. The show was powerful, dramatic, and beautiful. I loved it. For a few Halloweens, I sewed my own flamenco costume. I have been a forever fan of flamenco!

So after I saw the show in Waterloo, I signed up for classes immediately. A friend lent me her flamenco shoes and skirt (so beautiful), and I’ve taken two classes so far. I love the drama, the music, the clapping, and the stomping (careful, thoughtful, purposeful, rhythmic stomping, I might add). It’s been a highlight of my busy back-to-school weeks to be honest.

Sara Baras – via

I haven’t even mentioned how gorgeous the outfits are! The women look beautiful and fierce, and the men look strong and serious. I love watching the dancers “speak” to one another through their movements.

I’m so glad I was challenged to take a dance class (thanks, M!). I wonder if there’s an end-of-term recital. 🙂

*Yes, I had a pen pal…who is now really an email and Instagram pal. We’ve only met in person less than a dozen times in our lives!).

Personal: A New Venture

A little while ago, I mentioned that I’ve been working on a new venture. I’m ready to share it here, and I would love your honest feedback! Starting something new is definitely a touch scary

Many of you know that I’m a part-time blogger. I am passionate about design, art, style, and the colour white (of course). Beyond this, though, I have always been interested in language learning and teaching. I have a PhD in applied linguistics, and I have been an educator at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels for many, many years. I have most recently completed an MBA degree because of my growing interest in business, and, more specifically, business communication. I’m now ready to take on another project that combines my formal education, work experience, and professional interests. 

I’m starting a business.

Why not, right?

I’m starting a consulting business. As a consultant, I’ll lead workshops for organizations on how to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. These professional development workshops will help help employers and employees refine their communication skills. I cannot even count how many times I hear people (a) complain about the quality of their employees’ communication skills or (b) admit that their own communication skills are weak. I’m here to help!

In my workshops, participants will develop their skills in the areas of report writing, blog writing, email writing, verbal presentations, and more

Here’s a peek at my website, if you’d like to see. I’m happy to take your feedback!

If you know anyone (in Waterloo region, preferably) who may need my services, let me know

Thanks for your support, dear readers!

Comment: Memories of Technological Advancements

On the recommendation of a friend who attended the True North tech conference in Waterloo a couple of months ago, I listened to the book Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations written by Thomas L. Friedman who was a speaker at the conference. The book was interesting. In it, Friedman talks about the intersection of three major forces affecting current and future generations: globalization, technology, and climate change. The book has made me think about how I use technology every day, how I wish I could use it, how I avoid it, and what I may experience in the future. 

Things, as we know, change rapidly these days. Just a few weeks ago, I ran into an issue with my DVD player…as in, I hadn’t used my DVD player for 6 years, so when I tried to use it to watch DVDs I took out from the library, I couldn’t because I didn’t have any cords to connect the DVD player to my TV. Cords? Wires? This felt like an ancient set-up! A friend lent me a bunch of cords and in this pile, I found the one I needed. Colour-coded pieces of plastic on either end of the cords…one set to hook into my DVD player, the other set for my TV. It felt like an unncessary challenge even though not too long ago, this was our only option to watch movies at home. 

More recently, when I was cleaning up my office, I came across one of my first ever cassette tapes – The Minipops – and I thought, what am I going to do with a cassette now? I don’t have any way to play it! So did I get rid of it? No, of course not. How could I get rid of The Minipops? I’m holding on to this tape for nostalgic purposes.

So Friedman’s book, combined with these two recent experiences, has had me reflecting on other defining memories of technology in my life.

In elementary school, I remember when my dad brought home an electric typewriter. I actually remember its arrival into our home. It was white and grey. Typing seemed to go at lightening speed! I typed short stories and reports for school on that thing. I felt so fancy. I think it may still be in my parents’ basement. I wonder if it’ll feel fast if I go type on it now.

If you lived in Canada in the 1980s, and you banked at Canada Trust, then you may remember the roll out of the Johnny Cash machine…an automated teller. I remember the Johnny Cash machine because my mom worked at the bank at the time, and talked all about the Johnny Cash machine and how it was going to change the work of tellers. I remember her talking about setting up, using, restocking, reconciling the “Johnny Cash”. Oh my goodness, just thinking about it makes me laugh. Watch this Johnny Cash machine commercial for a walk down memory lane.

In Grade 13, I remember sitting in computer class (not typing class, but actual coding class) and my teacher was teaching us about the world wide web. We explored Yahoo. During that same year, I had a friend who was quite tech savvy and taught me about ICQ, which was an online space for chatting. At night, when we were at home, instead of calling, we’d meet on ICQ. It would take what felt like hours to get the computer and modem in my parents’ basement up and running. And then my friend and I would be on ICQ chatting about nothing in particular. No phone calls. Just online chats about homework and such.

When I was graduating and applying to universities, I applied to computer science programs, just barely knowing what computer science was all about. My sister’s friend was finishing her degree in computer science, and everyone told me that there would be so many jobs if I had a computer science degree. I took computer science in my first year at university, and I remember learning computer coding like JAVA to get little worms to move across the screen. I remember spending hours in the computer lab trying to figure out code. I liked it, but didn’t love the non-social aspect of my program, so I dropped it and continued on with French, which had always been my major. Coding now? Kids can do it on apps! Oh, how things have changed!

When I was studied in France in my third year of university, I walked down the street to the Internet café or public library to send emails home. It was part of my daily or weekly routine. I sent letters, too, at the time, but emails were immediate, so by the time anyone received my mailed letters, they were full of old news. I remember creating a new email address just to categorize the stories from France. My parents printed every email I sent. Every single email. They gave me the stack of emails on my return. Printed emails. Can you imagine? Now my parents are more into texting on WhatsApp and using FaceTime than they are into emails.

It was also in France that I got my first cell phone. It was dirt cheap to buy and maintain. I’m not sure if it was because I was in Europe, but text messaging at the time was called SMS (which stands for short message service). People would say, Envoie moi un SMS (Send me an SMS). I loved my little portable (cell phone). It was blue, and the buttons were squishy. I think I still have it stored away in my parents’ house. I should really find the little blue cell phone and store it alongside my old cassette tapes.

In about 2006 or so, I was doing my masters and one of my friends introduced me to this thing called Facebook. At the time, it was a messaging system that was only for university students to communicate with other university students. It was such a closed community! He told me about “some guy” who started Facebook in the United States, and it was only now being rolled out into Canadian institutions. I think I felt privileged to be a student, so I could have access to it. It was during my PhD, about seven years after I first joined Facebook, that I deleted it completely. I have been without Facebook for about seven years now, and I don’t miss it.

I remember when my friend Johanne started Fashion in Motion, a fashion blog, in about 2007 or so. She posted about her blog on Facebook at the time, and I was intrigued, but confused. I remember having coffee with her somewhere in Toronto where she explained to me what a blog was. I thought it was so interesting. An online platform to share ideas. I ended up writing a weekly column on Fashion in Motion, which then gave me the confidence and know-how to start White Cabana in 2010.

Most recently, just a few months ago actually, Kitchener-Waterloo launched the region’s light rail – the ION. This has been a major piece of news for the Waterloo region for years. I feel that the ION has made our region modern, efficient, and ready for future growth. Unlike Canada Trust all those years ago who hired Johnny Cash to be the face of the automatic teller machine (ATM, by the way!), the ION did not launch with a celebrity. It may have been fun if Justin Bieber came back to the region as the face of the ION. Imagine!

These are some of the strong memories I have of the impact of technology in my own life. I know it’s cliché, but it really is hard to believe how fast technology changes. It does not seem so long ago that I was playing The Minipops on my yellow Sony sport walkman!

Personal: Remembering Lisa

In July 2016, Lisa, a friend and colleague, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She received treatment, but the cancer metastasized. She had brain surgery and more treatment. She stayed positive. She worked hard. She was brave. Last week, at the age of 47, Lisa left us.

Anyone who has completed a PhD knows how challenging, intense, and competitive it can be. It can also be very isolating as you’re doing solo work much of the time (in many disciplines). So when you find someone you connect with, you’re really grateful. You’re grateful to see that person when you walk into the university building because you know that any point in the work day, you can take a break and chat about something non-academic and not be judged.

Lisa was one of those people who I was grateful to see every time I stepped into our PhD office in a portable building adjacent to the main university building. In the beginning, our conversations were PhD-related as she was a couple of years ahead of me in the program, and I asked her a lot of questions about each step of the PhD journey. No matter how busy she was, she took the time to share her advice.

Soon after, we bonded over bloggers and clothes. She loved J.Crew, and while I was wearing black and white every day, she was always wearing colours and mixing patterns. We’d come to our offices in the portable and discuss what we thought of our favourite bloggers’ recent outfits. Lisa was one of the few people in my academic life who knew I was a blogger, and she was always supportive of what I was doing. She was a daily reader. 10 years later, she still read White Cabana on the daily. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re an academic, you’re judged for everything. And when you’re not spending time on academic work, people may question why. Why are you reading a fashion blog when you should be reading the latest book by so-and-so theorist? Why are you writing a blog when you should be writing your dissertation? Lisa was not judgemental. One minute, we could have been discussing the intricacies of a research methodology, and the next, we could be talking about a sale at J.Crew. It was awesome!

The conversations that brought us much laughs were focused on “the sackpack”. You know – the backpack purse? We called this a sackpack. Not sure why. Maybe it’s what her husband called it. I can’t remember now. Well, let me tell, you, the day Lisa came in wearing a leather sackpack, she couldn’t stop raving about how it was the best invention. She loved using it because it allowed her hands to be free for other things – children, groceries, keys. She was so excited! Me on the other hand? Well, I laughed because it seemed like a 90s fashion accessory that wasn’t as chic as her J.Crew totes. Over time, Lisa acquired a few more sackpacks, and each time she showed me one, she raved! When sackpacks actually did make a comeback, Lisa said “told you so.” I sent her links to sackpack options all the time. She sent me links to white ones, leather ones, designer ones, fashion bloggers wearing them. The sackpack was an ongoing thread in our conversations no matter how far away we were from one another.

When my sister was having her first baby, Lisa shared in this excitement, and without knowing my sister, shared book lists and “must-have-for-baby” lists to pass on to her. So thoughtful! On my sister’s only trip to see me during my PhD life, we ran into Lisa after breakfast, and I was happy that they got to meet, since even though they didn’t know each other, they certainly had heard of one another. The encounter was meant to happen!

Post-PhD life, Lisa invited me to join an academic writing retreat she was co-organizing. During this time, it was great to write, of course, but it was also awesome to hear about Lisa’s news about her kids, job, and life in London, Ontario. She made everyone in the group feel welcome, ensured we had caffeine and treats to keep us going, and hosted us for dinner at the end of the writing retreat. She was warm and inviting as were her husband and two kids.

From this writing group, a few of us gathered to conduct a research project. It was Lisa who guided us through using a methodology that the rest of us were really only slightly familiar with. In all of our research team meetings, she was patient and calm. She listed to everyone’s ideas. She contributed thoughtfully.

It was during the time of this research project when we found out that Lisa had breast cancer and was going through treatment. We were sad for her, for her family, for all the challenges they now had to face. Lisa worked on the project for as long as she could. At one weekend retreat, she told us that she had been in the hospital the days just before. She taught us, she shared with us, she opened up about how she was feeling. She talked about her kids and her husband. We listened. We learned. We hopefully offered an escape from the every day life of her cancer treatments when we talked about our research findings, writing projects, and our lives in general.

Regardless of how she was feeling during those days, she supported the team, and she was determined to work with us in any way she could until the end of the project.

When Lisa reached out to ask me about blogging, I was thrilled. She wanted a place to write, and she thought that a blog would be a good outlet. She started it. She wrote regularly. I followed along. Breathing in Breathing Out is a collection of Lisa’s writing on books, food, and family life. She wrote about her cancer journey, too, both on her blog and in this Globe and Mail article where she wrote about conversations with a partner when you have cancer. I encourage you to read both. Learn. Share.

Lisa accomplished so much in her short 47 years here. She was kind, thoughtful, intelligent, supportive, reflective, concerned, critical, and curious. I am grateful to have known her, to have learned from her, and to have shared so many laughs and conversations with her over the last decade.

In keeping with Lisa’s wishes, I have made a memorial donation to my local FoodBank. I encourage you to make a donation to a cause that is important to you in honour or memory of someone you love.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Gift Guides. Last week, Daniela shared this awesome Father’s Day gift guide for White Cabana readers. I love that she focused (as per usual) on Canadian brands. Go back and look at it if you’re still on the hunt for a gift idea as Father’s Day is this Sunday. And if you’d like even more ideas, browse these guides by Jacquelyn Clark, Katie Considers, Rambling Renovators, Rachel Parcell, and Oh Happy Day.

This week, Daniela shared an impressive gift guide for teachers. It has been the most popular gift guide yet! If you missed it, have a look at it here.

2. Netflix. I finished watching two seasons of David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. I hope more seasons are in the works. My favourite interviews from seasons 1 and 2 were with Ellen Degeneres, Barak Obama, George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Tina Fey, and Lewis Hamilton.

3. Food. I made this quiche last weekend for lunch guests, and it’s a winning recipe. I’ve made it before (and it was a winning recipe then, too). Asparagus is now in season, so it’s a perfect time to make the quiche!

4. Books. I’m reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It’s an easy read, so I’m going through it quickly. In between my reading time, I’m thinking about her stories. What would happen if you started saying yes to things that made you nervous/uncomfortable/move out of your comfort zone/anxious? You’d face and overcome new challenges, and be open to opportunities for learning new things. This is one of the messages that’s coming through the book so far.

5. We the North. The Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship game last night. And if social media is any indication, many Canadians are very excited! As for me? Well, I tuned in last night when the score was 91-91 and there were about 10 or 15 minutes left in the game. I figured I should keep watching, so I did. That has really been the extent of my viewing of basketball this season. I liked following along the commentary on Twitter, too. And I’m grateful to my friends and students who kept me informed throughout the season.

Have a great weekend!

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Watch These Videos. Oh my goodness. Who loves James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke? I love it. And this latest one with Celine Dion just made me smile and laugh. She’s such a character.

If you want to be impressed and you’re okay with tearing up, watch Kodi Lee‘s audition on America’s Got Talent. So good.

2. Netflix. I’m slowly watching David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Kanye West was the first guest on Season 2. I’m not a huge Kanye fan, but I thought it was an interesting interview. I also liked watching Letterman try on Kanye’s Yeezy clothes. Episode 2 was with Ellen Degeneres. I have always like Ellen, so I really enjoyed this interview. She’s candid, likeable, vulnerable, and funny (of course).

3. Food. Rachel Parcell shared an Instastory of hootenanny, and I had no idea what it was. So I looked it up. It’s a breakfast food that is kind of like a mix between pancakes and French toast, but not really. Here’s one hootenanny recipe, but there are plenty of others online.

4. Read this. I liked this list of 22 tiny things to do this summer to feel joy.

5. Beauty. Are there any fans of shellac nail polish out there? I love (love, love) how it looks and how it holds up for extended periods of time, but I hate (hate, hate) how it leaves my nails once it has been removed. I had shellac on for my trip to Japan for April, and my nails are still healing. It’s awful. Does anyone else get annoyed by the poor state of your nails after shellac polish has been removed? What do you do about it?

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Netflix. A friend recommended I watch Gad El…’s stand up comedy show, so I did. And I laughed out loud. His show revolves around cultural tendencies of the French and American. I hadn’t heard of him, but apparently he’s big in France. Huge. And now he’s got a Netflix series based on this, too, called Huge in France. So, of course, I started watching it, too. Pretty funny. Especially if you know anything about the French people or language.

2. Japanese wares in Canada. After conversations with Tim about all the gorgeous kimonos and housewares I saw (and bought) in Japan, I started looking around at where to buy authentic Japanese items in Canada. So far, I’ve come across Murata for gorgeous kimonos and tableware. The store is in Vancouver, but it also has an online shop. Oomomo for kitchenware, beauty products, and organizers. The store has locations in British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta (opening soon).

3. Habits of luck people. I saw this list on Swiss Miss, and I like it. I’m not certain they’re habits of lucky people, though. I think they are habits of hard workers and good people.

Vala Ashfar via Swiss Miss

4. Brownies. Do you have a favourite brownie recipe or brownie mix? When I make brownies, I like Ghirardelli. But now that I’ve read this article, I may have to try some other brands.

5. Eyeglasses. I ordered two new pairs of glasses from Polette after I had a huge try-on session at the Paris store. I bought a few pairs over the last few years from Polette’s online store, so I was happy to have the opportunity to try them on in person. Polette certainly does have some unique options. Here’s a look at my new red specs. The shipping took so long with this order, but I’ve usually never had a problem.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

  1. Paris. Paris is about 2 weeks away! Eek! I can’t wait! And I have much to do before then. It’s a work trip, so I have lectures to prepare. I added on a few days to my work trip, so I’ll have some vacation time, too. I cannot wait to eat croissants, wander the 6th, and find a few treasures, too!
  2. Netflix. What are you watching on Netflix these days? I haven’t watched much recently, but a friend recommended You. So I started it. And then I continued with it. It’s interesting (but disturbing, too). Have you seen it?
  3. Design. I’ve been helping a friend with the full renovation of her main floor for the past year or so. It’s coming along beautifully, and we both can’t wait for her furniture to arrive soon. She has a great art collection, so I’m eager to get it all placed, too.
  4. Brunch. If you’re looking for an easy brunch option to feed a crowd, I suggest this egg sandwich recipe. I made it a few weeks ago, and it was a hit! See #WhiteCabanaCooks for more.
  5. Coffee. Do you ever switch up your coffee routine, or are you completely consistent? For the last little while, I’ve been a latte-focused lady, but I recently switched back to drip coffee, so my Cuisinart coffee maker is back in action. It’s a great machine, and I like having a new coffee routine.

Personal: The 10 Year Challenge

One of the newest hashtag crazes on Instagram is the #10YearChallenge whereby people post side-by-side photos: one from 10 years ago and one from recently. Many photos, as you can expect, are of people’s faces or bodies to show how they’ve changed – more wrinkles, fewer baby faces, more weight, less weight. Captions are generally amusing or introspective.

I, too, got on the 10-year reflection bandwagon. The side-by-side collage brought back so many memories and made me think about the last 10 years. It was a full decade to say the least.

10 years ago – September 2009 – I was on Amherst Island at one of my oldest friend’s wedding. She and I met when we were 7 years old when our families traveled to Madeira Beach. Each summer, we’d reunite and be kids under the Floridian sun. As we got older, we started getting together in Canada, too, no matter where in Ontario each of us lived. Fast forward twenty years later from our initial meet-up, and I was her Maid of Honour. So fun! I loved the navy dress I wore. The wedding ceremony, party, and weekend on the island were great. There were many jumping photos taken that weekend, and this is one of my all-time favourites of all the jumping photos I have taken over the last 15 years!

The photo on the right was taken by one of my other best friends in August 2018 at Madeira Beach (still going and still loving it!). This particular jump came at the end of our long walk on the beach, and the rainbow had just come out. It was a cue for me to start jumping under it. You can’t see all the laughs my friend and I have had over jumping photos, but, trust me, there were many! It was actually with this friend that the jumping photos really got going about 15 years ago – in the Canary Islands of all places! So many happy memories.

And in between these photos? I had so many beautiful moments and experiences to celebrate. I have celebrated marriages, babies, and home purchases with friends and family. My three nephews and niece were born. I traveled as much as I could solo and with friends and family. I started and finished my PhD. I started and finished my MBA. I bought my first home. And it was featured in a magazine. I have learned so many renovation skills. I moved cities twice. I got a great job. And then some other challenging work, too. And a few other projects because why not!? And then there was a book! My brain is always getting its exercise! I started and have continued my blog. And I have met so many great people because of it. I have much to be grateful for.

Of course, there were less than stellar moments, too. Cancer caught multiple people in my family, my last two grandparents passed away, and my aunt lost her battle with cancer. There were breakups, and there was work stress. There were sleepless nights and worries. There have been challenging days, weeks, and months with me, my friends, and my family. As cliché as it sounds though, these experiences have made me more thoughtful, more aware, more confident, more reflective, and more trusting of my gut.

Overall, the last 10 years have been pretty great. I feel lucky. I feel proud. I feel happy. And I can only hope that the next 10 years bring me similar joy. And 10 years from now, I hope I am still jumping!

Personal: 6 Things on Mind

1. Books. I finished another Haruki Murakami novel a couple of weeks ago. It was called Dance Dance Dance, and it was great. I also finished The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham. I’m now onto another Somerset Maugham – Of Human Bondage – and I think it’s going to take me a while to get through as it’s quite long. I’m just about to start Nudge by Richard Thaler to break up the line-up of British and Japanese literature.

2. Christmas Market. It’s Christkindle Market in Kitchener this weekend. It’s a great time to be outdoors, take in the Christmas crafts, and munch on traditional German food (and mulled wine, too)!

3. Holiday dresses. I love that so many bloggers are sharing round-ups of lovely holiday dresses. But why oh why are so many of them $1000+? I’m on the look out for more affordable options. Are you interested in a posts of (affordable) holiday outfits?

4. T&T Supermarket. Oh my goodness. The T&T supermarket (focused on Asian foods and products) opened up in Waterloo yesterday. A friend and I went after work, and we couldn’t believe the chaos. The parking situation was a mess. And there was a massive line up to get in. We were surprised. Needless to say, we had no desire to wait in line for groceries, so we left. I’ll check it out in a few weeks. Has anyone been? Do you have a T&T in your city? Do you like it?

5. End of term. The term is over. My class is done. I have final papers to mark this weekend. My students worked hard, and I look forward to seeing how they translated their ideas into their final writing task.

6. Music. I recently heard Lisa LeBlanc on the radio, and I’m hooked. Lisa is a 27 year old singer songwriter from Montreal. I’ve had her new bilingual album – Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen – on repeat for weeks.

Personal: A Walk Down Memory Lane

It’s happening. It’s finally happening. After years of saying “I really need to go to Japan,” it’s actually happening. I booked my trip a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been reading anything and everything in preparation. I have 6 months to plan and finalize details of my trip as it is in April 2019. I.Am.So.Excited!

I haven’t been to Japan since I was about 5 years old, and you can bet I’m going to try to recreate some of these photos from the 80s.

What are the chances I can find this place?

(side note: I used to love my Cabbage Patch t-shirt)

I’m pretty sure these are supposed to be for washing your hands rather than for drinking. Does anyone know?

And I had to include this one of my dad. He carried around that Beta video camera everywhere we went. Could you imagine doing it now? Luckily, a few years ago, we transferred all of our family’s Beta videos and slides (yes, slides, too) and 8mm film (yes, that, too) into electronic forms, so we were able to see photos and videos that we hadn’t seen in 30 years!

What are the chances I can find any of these places? They’re likely all from Kyoto. Wish me luck!

And if you have any recommendations about Japan, leave a comment, please!

Event: #WhiteCabanaWearsPink 2018

As I told you last Monday, to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, once again this October, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. What does this mean exactly? Well, a few things. Let me share:

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Donation of Ad and Affiliate Income

I will be donating all income generated from affiliate and Google ads this month to the Canadian Cancer Society. Click on all those sidebar ads and links to products (and buy stuff if you’d like). The more you click (and buy), the more that I can donate! Easy, right? I’ll try to highlight the affiliate links when I include them in my posts this month, so you can get extra click happy!

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CIBC’s Run for the Cure

Yesterday, I ran (more ran-walked) 5K for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener Waterloo.

I’ve been doing this run on-and-off for the last decade or so, and this was my third year at the Kitchener Waterloo event. It’s a great event with that exudes support and positivity among all the emotions of sadness, gratefulness, and happiness. You can see more on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaWearsPink.

If you’d like to donate, please do so on my personal #WhiteCabanaWearsPink fundraising page. Every little bit helps, of course, so if you could forego a coffee or two this week and donate the money instead, I would be so darn thankful!

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#WhiteCabanaWearsPink Series

Every Monday, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink here on the blog!

Yes, this blog has an all-white aesthetic. But every so often, it’s great to explore another colour. So, just like the last two years, every Monday in October, I’ll explore pinkness in the design world. It’s going to be fun!

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Thanks in advance for your support, dear readers.

See the #WhiteCabanaWearsPink series from years past, if you’d like.

#WhiteCabanaWearsPink: CIBC Run for The Cure

As you may remember, each October, pink invades the white pages of White Cabana with #whitecabanawearspink. Why? Because October is breast cancer awareness month. There will be an influx of pink posts beginning on October 1st (with a bit of a head start today). Not only that, but I’ll be donating all the money earned from affiliate links and ads to the Canadian Cancer Society. As a reader, you can do your part by getting really click-happy (that is, click every darn link you see, and tell your friends to do the same). The more you click, the more I can donate!

Dainty Lion Floral

This Sunday, September 30th, I’ll be running (or run-walking) the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener-Waterloo. Who will join me? Who will tweet with me? Who will run in their cities?

I run for so many people. My mom, my aunt, my cousin, my friends. Too many women, in fact. I also run for all the family members who support these women as they go through their tiring treatments. I run for all the people who support my fundraising efforts.

I am grateful to doctors working hard on their research, organizations that raise money, nurses who are there to educate and attend to patients, scientists who are advancing knowledge, and technology that can detect previously undetectable abnormalities.

I’ll be dressed in pink for #whitecabanawearspink. You can learn more about why I run – and donate, too, if you like – on my fundraising page.

Thank you, dear readers.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

I’m ending the week with five things that have been on my mind lately.

1. Netflix

Over the course of two days, I watched the first season of Broadchurch. Oh, was it ever good. Have you watched it? Watch it!

2. Random Blogger Meet-Up

When I was in Paris, Ontario last Saturday, I ran into Amber and Derek (from Canadian Fashionista). We bonded over blogging, our love for colours (her – pink, me – white), and our failed attempt to check out the Paris Night Market. I love random meet-ups with bloggers who you sometimes only ever meet online!

3. BBQ Chicken

When I had Tim and Chris over for a BBQ a couple of weeks ago, I made this grilled chicken. It turned out well. I’d easily make it again!

4. Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

After reading this Smitten Kitchen post, I had to give Alison Roman‘s salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread cookies a try. The Cookie has gone viral on social media (as cookies sometimes do?). Bon Appétit’s article about The Cookie started with a declaration that “EVERYONE” is making them! I have to say that the recipe was extremely easy, and the cookie turned out well (see this Instagram photo). Not only that, but the cookie really is delicious! They’re a nice change to a more classic, sugary, chewy chocolate chip cookie.

5. Bayfield, Ontario

I met friends at their cottage in Bayfield, Ontario last week. It was glorious. I enjoy that little town and Lake Huron so much. My “must buy myself a cute cottage one day” remains on my mind!

Personal: 4 Things on My Mind

Here are some things that have been on my mind recently.

1. YouTube
I haven’t fallen into any YouTube watching traps for a long while, but one that I recommend you watch is Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney.

2. Audiobooks
I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks since I got into them a couple of months ago. I’ve listened to:

  • The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – This was a page-turner (of the audio kind!). I hadn’t read a mystery novel in a long while, and this ended up being a good pick.
  • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark – This is a fascinating read about the current and future state of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs – While disturbing at times, this was an excellent read. I know it’s been made into a movie, so I’ll have to add it to my “watch” list.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – While difficult to follow at first because of the many characters, the story is interesting, and I didn’t want it to end.
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – I’m extremely enjoying this series. Why did I wait so long to read these books?
  • I’ve also listened to these audiobooks, and I’m currently listening to Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child (Book 4).

3. Academic life
It is pretty wild to see my book (co-authored with a friend/colleague) listed on Amazon. The book will be published in December, so this won’t be the first or last time I’m talking about it.

4. Netflix
Last night while I was ironing, I watched Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial comedy show on Netflix. I laughed a lot! I could relate to just about every joke she told. If you’re a woman in your 30s, I am sure you would enjoy it.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s a bit of what has been on my mind – and in my life – lately.

1. Plants. I am so pleased with how two of my plants are currently growing. The first is my avocado plant that I started to grow from seed way back in the fall. The second is my fiddle leaf fig that I had cut back a long while ago, and it’s only now sprouting new leaves. So exciting!

2. Kingston. I took a trip to Kingston a couple of weeks ago, and it made me so happy to go back. I lived there for two years, and every time I visit, happy memories trickle back into my brain. I’m thankful that I’m able to continue making memories there even during very short visits.

view of my old waterfront apartment and balcony

3. Heated floor. The One Room Challenge is over, and my bathroom/laundry combo room is done. But when I saw this photo from the team at Warmup, it brought back memories of planning. I like the layout plan of my heated floor (photo source).

4. Art. When I was at Ines‘s house a couple of weeks ago for an essential oils party (with Christine and Hollie), I was impressed by all the art she has around her home. This sweet little piece by Frances Hilary Hahn really made me smile.

5. Elora. I drive over to Elora several times each year. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Waterloo, and it’s such a pretty town for a day trip. It was nice to see the progress of the Elora Mill, too. I’m thinking that the place will be pretty great once it’s all done. I look forward to taking a tour – and hopefully planning a longer stay, too!

That’s all for now. What have you had on the go lately? What’s been on your mind?

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

Here are five things that have been on my mind this week.

1. Toronto

Of course Toronto has been on my mind. There’s no reason why we should ever associate people with “mowed down.” A tragedy. An awful tragedy that is too close to home. To learn more and to stay informed, I’ve been leaning toward reading articles from The Conversation, which is an academic source but written for a general audience. Articles like “Why he didn’t shoot?” and “The dark possible motive” are just two of the several that I read.

2. Babies

Congratulations to Daniela who gave birth to her second baby. Yay! A sweet girl has been welcomed into our family.

3. Music

This week I attended a house concert by Keenan Reimer-Watts who is a Kitchener-Waterloo musician. He created original music for the harpsichord and guitar, and it was quite the evening. I especially enjoyed how he explained his composition process. I was amazed by his talent. Also – this was the first time I had ever seen or heard the harpsichord. (FYI: It’s not a harp.)

Keenan also taught us about his organization Busking for Change. In this movement, buskers and audiences come together to support the environment.

4. Reading

The new edition of Toque has been released. This is a free magazine (yes, print) that features articles about local places and people. I enjoy reading it because I always learn something new about Waterloo region (and Guelph and Hamilton, too)!

5. Post-MBA Life

Well, it’s true. I’ve moved into post-MBA life, and it’s been pretty fabulous so far. I’ve seen lots of friends, read some books and magazines, and started to plan and book mini-vacations. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to complete another degree, and I enjoyed learning a ton over the last 4 years. But I’m now looking forward to having a bit of free time.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

Here’s what been on my mind lately.

1. Emma González

Emma González amazes me. The March for Our Lives movement amazes me. I know the march has passed, and change hasn’t happened overnight. But change will happen. It has to.

2. Colorscape

I liked this short Colorscope video by Jocie Juritz about the colour white. (via SwissMiss)

3. Script to Screen Instagram

The Instagram account Script to Screen is entertaining (via Cup of Jo).

4. Book progress

The final deadline for our book is in a couple of weeks. This makes me so happy. Stay tuned for launch date this fall. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas? Hint. Hint.

5. Pray for Humboldt

Tragic news about the bus crash in Saskatchewan last Friday. Absolutely devastating for the young kids, families, and community. If you didn’t hear the news, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos young hockey team crashed with a transport truck. The crash claimed the lives of 14 people and 15 were injured. Read the Prime Minister’s statement about this tragedy if you’d like.

The Friday Five: Learn, Donate, Love

February was a wild month on my end. There were very happy days, of course, but there were also really sad days, too. Every week seemed to bring difficult news of one sort or another. Illness. Job stress. Relationship challenges. I hope March brings joy to my loved ones. I hope happiness finds its way into your homes, too, if you’ve been experiencing some trying times.

So, today, I’m taking a break from talking about renos and fashion and furniture to raise  awareness about some important causes.

Mental Illness

A friend’s brother passed away last week due to mental illness. It’s devastating and awful. He was much too young. To donate or learn more about this disease, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Prostate Cancer

Some people say that prostate cancer is a “normal” or “good” kind of cancer. How is cancer normal? How can it be good? To donate or learn more, visit Prostate Cancer Canada and the Movember Foundation.

Breast Cancer

My friend Lisa wrote a personal essay about how cancer changes the conversations you have with your partner. It was recently published in the Globe and Mail. There are several organizations you can donate to to improve awareness and research for breast cancer. I usually learn more or donate to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund, or The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Ronald McDonald House

I heard of the much too early birth of twins of friends of a friend. I also learned of how the Ronald McDonald House Charities is supporting this family who needs to be close to their babies while they’re in intensive care.

Diabetes

Did you know that 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes? And about 50% of people with diabetes may experience kidney damage. To donate or learn more, visit Diabetes Canada or The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s what’s been on my mind lately.

1. Perimeter Institute concert series. Last week, I attend Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen‘s concert at the Perimeter Institute. What an enjoyable evening out! The Perimeter Institute – PI – is one of my favourite buildings in Waterloo. It’s an impressive building that is on the edge of Waterloo Park, and I certainly enjoy the (mostly) white interior.

2. Anne. I (rather quickly) binge-watched Anne a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly, I’m eager for more episodes. Does anyone know what’s going on with this series? It brought me back to my childhood, and I’d happily watch a few more episodes.

3. Winter boots. I’m already so tired of wearing winter boots. I enjoyed Carly the Prepster’s winter boot post, and I smiled when I read it because I have just about the exact collection (and then some). Multiple boots are a must for our winter weather, especially when you have outdoor activities to do each week.

4. Design fails. This Instagram account had me laughing out loud. Look at the photos, and read the comments, too. Hilarious! I think I should submit a photo of my wallpapered furnace. I’m sure it would make the “please hate these things” cut. (source: Jacquelyn Clark)

5. Door knobs. I’m thrilled to be working with Direct Door Hardware again this year. I worked with this company when I first moved into my house because I replaced all of my exterior door locks and knobs. The selection was awesome, and I really enjoyed the interactions I had with the company staff, so I was happy to work with them again on my door makeover project.  My knobs arrived last week, and they’re so nice. Do you want to see them? Great! I’ll be sharing more news of this project in the months ahead.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

These are five things that have been on my mind lately.

1. Outlander. I’ve continued to watch Outlander, and I recently finished season 2. Oh my goodness – I loved the episodes set in France so much! But I also continued to enjoy all the scenes set in the Scottish highlands. And now I am adding Scotland to my travel goals because it looks just so beautiful (and, yes, I know that some scenes weren’t shot in Scotland). I came across real-life photos of the two main characters – Jamie Fraser played by Sam Heughan and Claire Fraser played by Catriona Balfe – and I was surprised. I just imagined that they would look exactly the way they do in Outlander. But they don’t. And seeing them in modern clothes was kind of surprising. p.s. I can’t be the only one who has a crush on Jamie Fraser, right?

2. Barre. I’m continuing with barre classes this month. I have loved every class that I have attended. I think it’s mostly because the music playlists are fantastic! I just feel like singing and dancing the whole time (instead of doing planks for way too long). Have you tried a barre class? What do you think?

3. Grocery delivery. Have you ever had your groceries delivered right to your door? I haven’t, but just today two friends (at separate times in the day) talked to me about it and I received news about Instacart, which is a same-day grocery delivery service brought to us by the Real Canadian Superstore and Zehrs (via Loblaw Companies Ltd.). How’s that for timing? Grocery delivery was today’s hot topic! Apparently Instacart has already been offered in Toronto, but it has launched in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph regions today.

And here’s a bonus for you – first time users can enter the code HIKITCHENER (3/31/18 expiration) at checkout to get $20 off an order of $35 or more, plus a free first time delivery.

4. Tumeric. What does everyone know about tumeric? I don’t know anything about it, but it has come up multiple times in my life in the last month, and I feel like I need to do some research about the benefits of this spice. One of the cafés in town (DVLB) has this tumeric warming tea that I really enjoy. And this weekend in Grey County, I learned about elixirs with tumeric in them that help with fighting winter illness. Then I did a quick Google search and found this list of benefits of tumeric tea. Thoughts?

5. Travel + People. Travel is often on my mind. This past weekend, I had the chance to work with Grey County to explore new-to-me parts of Ontario (you may have followed along on Instagram with #WhiteCabanaGoesToGreyCounty). My posts are definitely still in draft form, but you’ll see them on the blog over the next couple of weeks. For now though, I have been thinking about all the people I met on my 3-day journey. I feel lucky to have come across such happy, welcoming, and interesting people because these people made my trip that much more rich, informative, and fun. Some people. You know? You just can’t help but be thankful your paths have crossed! Who’s with me?

2017: Some Highlights

We walked down memory lane a couple of days ago with a post dedicated to my 2017 sponsors. Today, I’d like to share a some additional highlights from 2017.

1. Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: I continued my fundraising efforts again offline and online (#WhiteCabanaWearsPink) this year, and I was able to donate $250 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund (October). I ran the 5K here in Kitchener-Waterloo alongside survivors, supporters, friends, and family.

2. BlogPodium: I hadn’t been to BlogPodium – Canadian conference for bloggers – for a couple of years, and I was thrilled to attend this year (September). I met up with bloggers I’ve known for years and met so many new people. It was an enriching and fun day, and I learned a lot.

3. Style at Home: I still can’t believe my house was featured in Canada’s Style at Home magazine (June issue, page 40) and again in Style at Home’s High/Low Special Issue. People still bring it up or find me because of it all these months later. This was really a dream come true!

4. Travel: Traveling is always a highlight for me. In 2017, I took a chance on a new hotel in Buffalo, NY, and I was pleasantly surprised by both the hotel and the city. Who knew Buffalo had much more to offer than outlet malls? I also enjoyed a great trip to Nashville this month, and I’ve been sharing my reviews offline to friends and family. Next week, I’ll share my recap online, too. And, of course, I headed to North Carolina to visit my nephews and niece (and sister and brother-in-law, too) and had a great time playing around with all of them! Finally, I took my yearly summer trip to Florida and enjoyed just over two weeks of serious relaxation on the Gulf Coast.

5. Invited Speaker: I was thrilled to be invited to give a presentation about blogging to upper year design students at Sheridan Oakville (#WhiteCabanaGoestoSheridan). I do love teaching, and this opportunity meant that I got to work with students in a new, creative environment on aspects of blogging and writing.

2017 was a great year, overall, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that came my way, and I am proud of all that I was able to accomplish both on- and offline. I’m certainly eager for 2018, too, as I’ve got a few special projects already in the works, and I’m hopeful for a fabulous next 12 months!

Personal : 7 Things on My Mind

These seven things have been on my mind lately.

1. Slippery Stairs

I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much from watching slippery stairs videos.

2. Starfish Baby

This video of a baby starfish made me laugh, too.

3. Food & Drink Magazine

LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine – holiday edition – really gets me in the spirit. The recipes look just too good! I don’t yet know what I want to try making, but it’ll be something!

4. Pine Sol

Do you take the advice of your favourite bloggers? I do. And if Erica Cook of Moth Design puts her stamp of approval on something, I especially take note. She has discussed cleaning on her blog in the past, and most recently, she sang the praises of Pine-Sol. So what did I do? I added a jug on Pine Sol to my shopping cart the last time I was at the grocery store. For the first time in my life, I bought Pine Sol.

Now, I normally mop my floors with hot water and white vinegar. This has worked out well in my opinion, but I’m always happy to try something new. So I bought the purple Pine Sol and gave it a try. I was pleased. The scent was pleasant, and my floors looked clean. I also took Erica’s suggestion and put a little bit of Pine Sol down all of my sink drains, and I feel like this small effort makes a difference for my pipes” overall cleanliness.

5. Nashville

I’m going to Nashville soon. I have barely done any travel research! Any recommendations? As per usual, my go-to spot for a guide was Design*Sponge. I just love the city guides that Grace and her team review and post. (Side note – Did you know I wrote one for the Waterloo region?)

6. Barre Workouts

A friend and I recently signed up for barre workout classes. These sessions really prove to me that I’m not a delicate ballerina. Ha ha. They’ve been fun so far, and it’s been nice to have something new to do (as if I needed anything new in my life right now!?).

7. Taylor Swift

Am I too old to listen – and enjoy – Taylor Swift’s music? Nope. Don’t think so. I have had  Reputation on repeat.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s today’s list of things that have been on my mind lately.

Starbucks Rewards

Do you collect them? I do. I barely notice them, but then, when I get an email saying that I’ve earned a reward, I get happy. I usually stock-pile my rewards. Then, when I’m having a crappy day or I don’t feel like making lunch or I’m out with a friend, I can treat myself (or us!). It’s a little welcome bonus.

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat

I’m not very into beauty products, but I’ve been using this top coat for about a year now, and it’s amazing. I also use the Essie Grow Stronger base coat, and I’m sure the combination of these two polishes helps to make my nails shiny and strong.

Pop-Up Windows

Pop-up windows on websites annoy the heck out of me. Is there a way to make them permanently disappear?

Bird Seed

Does anyone have any recommendations for bird seed that actually attracts birds? I keep buying the blocks of seeds, but the birds aren’t coming.

L.L.Bean Boots

I caved. A pair of classic, 6″ L.L.Bean boots are on their way to my house. I took advantage of a 25% sale and clicked buy. I was obviously influenced by bloggers who love them (talking about Rox-Anne and Carly!), and while I would have preferred them in an all-black version, they have such a strong reputation (and following) that I’m hoping I’ll make use of them on my fall and winter walks, even though they’re a touch more “New England prep” than my usual style. I can’t believe how many L.L.Bean Boot buying guides are floating around the internet. Google it. It’s nuts!

Personal: 6 Things on my Mind

A couple of weeks ago, I shared 5 things on my mind. It was a text-heavy post (in that there were no photos), and I actually quite liked the change of scene. You? Today, I have 6 more random thoughts to share.

Cancer

It’s awful. It’s heartbreaking. And it happens to the nicest, best, kindest people. Why? Life isn’t so fair sometimes, is it?

Thanks again for working together to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research via my #WhiteCabanaWearsPink efforts. Yesterday, I made a donation to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund.

Candy

I brought Halloween treats to my students yesterday. They clapped when I told them. I thought that was awesome. They seemed to appreciate the small gesture, and I think it’s fun that adult students still get excited about candy treats. It’s the little things in life, right?

Halloween

Speaking of candy, I gave it out to about a dozen or so kids in my neighbourhood last night. Everyone was in such a cheery mood. When I really think about trick-or-treating, it is kind of strange. Getting candy from neighbours wearing funny outfits? But it is amusing, and the kiddies are just so excited when you open the door and dole out candy.

Breakfast with Strangers

I met a friend for breakfast at Kitchener Market last weekend, and, as friends do, we chatted about all sorts of things. When a man and his son opted to share our table (as KW people do), we started a group conversation. It was such a nice welcome. I mean, who talks to strangers these days? We weren’t glued to our phones. We were in conversation. So simple. So enjoyable.

Masquerade

I’m headed to a masquerade event this weekend. It was fun picking out just the right mask. Guess what? It’s not white. (It’s black!)

Movember

It’s November 1st today, which means it’s the official start of Movember. This is a month-long campaign (and year-long, too!) that raises money and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health.

Please Vote for White Cabana!

As you may remember, this here blog has been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award (woohoo!) in the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. There are only a few more weeks for the Amara Interior Blog Awards voting period, and I’d be thrilled if you could take a moment to vote!

The #IBA17 awards have a lot going on! There are over 800 blogs nominated across 10 categories. Isn’t that amazing? There are so many beautiful blogs in the round-up, so I would strongly encourage you to have a browse, learn something new, and vote for some very deserving bloggers!

Thanks for your support!

Design: Caribou Cabin in My Home

A couple of weeks ago, I shared news of Canadian newcomer Caribou Cabin. This shop designs, customizes, and manufactures chalkboards, magnetic whiteboards, and pinboards. The company generously sent me a beautiful square (34″ x34″) linen pinboard – white a white frame, of course.

Soon after the order was placed, my massive shipment arrived at my doorstep. The board was wrapped carefully and arrived safely to my home in Waterloo. When I saw the grey linen for the first time, I was impressed by the quality of the item. And the grey matched my home perfectly.

I leaned it up against the wall behind a cabinet in my living room which houses my radio, record player, and typewriter. I pinned up some memorable items from my office that I knew would look pretty and would also remind me of happy celebrations.

As I took my photos, I thought that the pinboard in my living room would be the perfect spot to showcase Christmas cards. And the great thing about the pinboard is that I can move it to other areas of my home such as a hallway landing area or office. The office is certainly an obvious spot for a pinboard, but I don’t think it’s the only place for it.

Thanks to Caribou Cabin for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own.

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News: Amara Interior Blog Award

I know last week was a little light on the blog posts. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. I’m back on top of things this week, and it’s going to be quite the week of fun posts! I’m starting off with super news –

I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award for the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. Fun, right? I’m super pumped, so thanks to the kind person who nominated me!

I’d love your support for this award, so if you feel so inclined, would you please click on over to my Amara IBA voting page and cast your vote? Pretty please!?

As per usual, there are a ton of amazing blogs to discover and support in the Amara IBA awards, so I would encourage you to browse and vote as much as you can!

Thanks, as always, for making White Cabana part of your day! And thanks for casting your vote!

p.s. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues, too!

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The Friday Five: Spring Home Maintenance Update

Just two weeks ago, I shared an update about my spring home maintenance task list. I’m happy to report that I’m now able to cross two items off the list. Two! Yay! That’s major! I’ll be honest, it was fairly easy to do because I took advantage of Father’s Day sales! Yup. That’s right. This single lady loves everything that is currently marketed to dads…BBQs, tools, machines. Oh my goodness. It’s true! It’s totally true! I think I love power tools just as much as I love peonies…it’s all about balance, right?

So…here’s my updated home maintenance task list:

  1. Garage door opener
  2. BBQ
  3. Bathroom fans
  4. Closet organizer
  5. A hallway light

This list makes me very happy! I picked up this Chamberlain garage door opener when it was on sale (yay!) from Canadian Tire and paid for Canadian Tire’s third-party connection to install it. Done and done. So far, it’s working like a dream. And since it’s a belt opener, it’s much quieter than my old chain opener. Belt. Chain. Yeah, I learned about these things this month. Thanks, Dad.

I ordered this BBQ when it was on sale (yay!) from TSC – The Country Hardware Store. It’s getting shipped directly to the store, and I should be able to pick it up any day now. Then I’ll have to pull out my tools to put it together. Any advice?

Since I won a Home Depot gift card a little while ago via a Twitter party, I’m going to have a browse through the options for the other items on the list. You know, just making my way around all the hardware stores this month! Fun!

If your dad is anything like me, he may be interested in the following five items this Father’s Day.

extremely quiet ventilation fan, $107, Home Depot

ball pendant, $19.98, Home Depot

ClosetMaid closet organizer, $158, Home Depot

And for future home maintenance task lists…

Nest thermostat, $329

chrome shelf unit, $98.97

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And Happy Father’s Day!

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Photography: How to Take Photos of Kids

I’m certainly not an expert photographer, but during my trip to North Carolina to visit my family, I took a bunch of photos of my nephews and niece. Not an absurd amount, just a bunch. And I tried a couple of things that worked well – happy accidents, really – that I thought I’d share them. Plus, everyone likes photos of cute kids, right?

I hadn’t seen these kiddies in 1.5 years. Way. Too. Long. Of course we Facetime and talk on the phone (as much as kids like to do these things), but this is definitely not the same thing as real life interactions. Because of the distance, I had only somewhat noted how their personalities had developed and changed over the year. Most noticeable was my sweet niece, Gigi, since she was barely speaking (or in a way I could understand her) the last time I saw her. Now, she’s full of personality, and she was so fun to photograph!

Here are my strategies for great (in my opinion) photos:

1. Zoom In on Facial Expressions

Miss. Gigi loves to sing Katy Perry’s Roar song, so when I asked her to roar for me, she went for it. And it was hilarious! This was just a casual thing that I asked her to do while we were cuddling on the sofa one morning (she was still in pjs in fact!). This roaring episode turned into a whole series of commands: Show me a happy Gigi. Show me an angry Gigi. Show me a “Gigi loves mommy” face. And this continued to be hilarious. I felt like Nigel Barker (noted fashion photographer). I snapped pics on my iPhone but didn’t look at them until after the “photo shoot.” When I did, I was in awe. The photos were fantastic! And Gigi really worked the camera! Ha ha ha. I combined them via the PicStitch app, turned them into black and white, and voila!

What a cutie pie!

Over the series of my days in North Carolina, I played the same photo shoot game with each of my nephews, but I altered the commands. With Reef, picky-eater Reef, I related all the commands to food: Show me an “I love Mac n Cheese” face. Show me an “I hate chicken” face. Reef, you’ll notice, wouldn’t let go of the gummy vitamins that he was handing out to all the family members mid-shoot. Oh, what fun!

Here’s what I ended up with…

I just love these kids!

2. Props

I always bring amusing (for me, mostly) gifts to the kiddies when I visit. On this trip, I packed silly glasses and whoopie cushions. Oh, the laughs! I think I need to start buying whoopie cushions in bulk because these kids sit on them with so much force that they keep breaking them! I hope you have a mental picture of this, by the way! On this visit, I even orchestrated a synchronized whoopie cushion routine with them. It was basically an amateur whoopie cushion symphony! Noone could keep a straight face, that’s forsure! Giving whoopie cushions to four kids who love the word “toot” is pretty darn funny. If you ever have a bad day, find a kid and give him or her a whoopie cushion. Hours of entertainment. Having – I mean playing with – four kids makes being an aunt a pretty fantastic gig.

I’m sure you can guess what I told them to do before I snapped the photo.

3. Get Down

I think my best photos of these kids came when I got down to their level. I’m talking knees. Taking photos of them from my height is okay, but also looks a bit odd. Getting down to their size keeps them the centre of attention and more in perspective.

4. Black and White

Kids wear a lot of colour. Sometimes their clothes match, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes their clothes are dirty. Turning colour photos into black and white gets rid of the noise in photos, and it results in a cohesive bunch of photos.

sign of a protective older brother

Cute start for a Monday, right? Have a great week, everyone!

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Personal: How to Sleep Well

Over the years, I’ve written about some of my routines and life habits. There was this post about a day-in-the-life, this review of my Hourglass Workouts, and this post about preparing for the future. Today, Leesa, a mattress-in-a-box company, asked me to chat about sleep. Yes, sleep. It’s a hot topic, and many of us are looking for the best ways to get the best sleep each and every night.

So here’s my approach:

1. Caffeine intake. These days, I have one latte at some point before noon. And maybe a tea at another point during my work day. I don’t over-think caffeine, but I know that I sleep better when I’ve not been sipping coffee/tea/pop throughout the day. As a post-dinner treat during the week, I may have a mint or chamomile tea. On the weekend, I may end a dinner with friends with a macchiato (espresso with coffee) just because I like the taste (and I can likely sleep in the following day).

2. Water intake. I drink a lot of water throughout the day. I like to believe what people tell  me – in that it keeps me hydrated and healthy. I limit my evening intake so as to avoid bathroom breaks throughout the night.

3. Temperature control. I don’t like sleeping in super hot or super cold rooms. A nice 71 degrees Fahrenheit works well for my sleep. I love being covered under my duvet and feeling comfortable temperature-wise.

3. Humidifier. I notice a difference when I have a humidifier going in the winter months. Stay tuned for a humidifier review update in the next month or so. I haven’t had much luck with humidifiers this winter, but a new one is on its way, and I can’t wait to put it to use.

4. Make lists. If I’m still thinking about work, teaching, blogging, life when my head hits the pillow, I won’t be able to sleep. To deal with the potential eyes-wide-open situation, I write everything down so it gets out of my head. I don’t know if scientific research supports my approach, but it certainly works for me.

5. Get a great mattress. Of course this is a key suggestion. I bought mine last year, and I’ve been really happy with it. You can read about how I bought a new mattress.

6. Regular bedtime. I go to sleep between 10pm and 11pm every night. If I don’t, the next day can be awful. I sleep soundly between 7 and 8 hours a night, which I think is pretty good.

7. Busy body. My life is pretty jam-packed. Between work, blogging, MBA life, friends, and family, I have little time to get bored, relax, lounge around. This means that by the time I go to bed, I’m tired. Ready to sleep. Busy days make for restful nights. Or something like that.

So while these seven things do encourage a restful sleep, I still have a couple of things to work on:

1. Pillows. I easily get annoyed with pillows. It seems like every month or two, I’m investing in a new set. Annoying. I’ve tried inexpensive ones, expensive ones, and a multitude of fillings. If you have advice, please share!

2. Alarm clock/technology. I’m one of those sleepers who keeps my iPhone on my nightstand so I can use it as my alarm clock. I’ve gone to bed way past my set bedtime because I get too sucked into Instagram and Twitter surfing. Not good. I’ve recently found my little low-tech alarm clock, but I haven’t yet transitioned to the no-iPhone-in-the-bedroom rule.

3. Exercise. Many people have attributed good sleep to exercise. I know increasing my daily exercise would help me sleep. But see #7 above. I’m a busy body. I currently lack time to fit in long workouts. This will soon have to change, though, as I signed up for the Diva 1/2 marathon.

What works for you? I’d love to know!

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