Personal: August Update of My 2022 Goals

So it seems that White Cabana has evolved into a goal update blog! Here we go with my August update:

  1. Write with my fountain pen. Yes! I still love this pen. I haven’t used it for my every day note-taking, but I do use it regularly. I love it especially for card writing!
  2. Complete house projects. We didn’t have much on our to do list in August. We maintained the garden. That’s about all.
  3. Stay active. I’ve just been walking here and there.
  4. Host people. People drop by all the time, but we didn’t host any specific events or large gatherings in August.
  5. Travel. It seems that August has just come and gone so quickly. We barely made it to the cottage. We’re postponing/cancelling our fall trip, which is a bit of a bummer, but it’s for a good reason.
  6. Read more. Sort of. On audio, I listened to Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang. It was great. I also listened to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and it was wonderful. Angelou narrated it, and her voice is so powerful.
  7. Tame garbage. Reduce waste. Heck no. Who has a solution? I very much dislike our indoor and outdoor garbage sorting processes.
  8. Floss regularly. Yes. On it!
  9. Stop procrastinating. Yes. Like Juy, there has been no time to procrastinate this month. I have too much on the go!
  10. Have fun! Yes. Work life and family life have both been fun…even among the stress of busy days getting ready for fall activities and work!

Previous updates: January, February, March, May, June, July.

Design at Home: Our Kitchen Mini Makeover

Do you remember when I shared our kitchen mini makeover design plans? The faucet really started the whole project. Its lack of functionality was driving me nuts. Then I learned that the sink was driving my beau nuts. Then we decided to do a mini remodel by replacing the faucet, sink, countertop, and backsplash but keeping the existing cabinetry and layout. We added an antique French armoire for an additional pantry, which has been functional and beautiful. Slowly but surely, this mini makeover is taking shape.

I know some people will think that a mini remodel is a waste of money, but I’m not one of these people. I’d rather spend a bit of money now and enjoy a space for the next few years (or longer!?) until we finalize plans and budget for a larger remodel.

As you may recall, I am working with BLANCO Canada on this project. They have provided me with a BLANCO UNIT – a faucet, sink, and accessories combination that coordinate seamlessly together. Now that everything has been delivered, I’m getting even more excited about the change.

Getting here took some time. While I thought I was the only one with strong opinions about design (and function), my beau proved me wrong. He has strong opinions about function (and design).

When creating our BLANCO UNIT, specifically selecting the faucet and sink, we discussed:

  1. What we liked and disliked about our current faucet and sink.
  2. What we needed and wanted in a future faucet and sink (e.g., a sink that would fit in our existing cabinet).
  3. What the pros were of the BLANCO Canada faucets and sinks (that matched our needs and wants).
  4. What potential accessories would add value to functionality with our faucet and sink combo.

My beau is mostly all about function. He disliked the existing shallow sink. On his wish list: a deep sink, two bowls, a high faucet, a high-pressure faucet.

I am about design and function. I disliked hated our faucet (too low and the spout barely returns to its position). I also disliked the shallow sink, the 3/4 size bowl, and the cut-out to house soap/sponge. On my wish list: an undermount deep sink, one bowl, and a high-pressure, stylish faucet that makes me feel like a chef. I also wanted to experiment with a white sink (BLANCO Canada is known for its SILGRANIT), which I envisioned working well with a white stone countertop.

Luckily a BLANCO UNIT offers both design and function. We were able to select a sink and faucet combo that met my design needs and my beau’s desire for increased functionality! Here’s the BLANCO Canada faucet and sink combination we settled on:

the PRECIS U2 sink in white
the BLANCOCULINA faucet in chrome

Sleek, right?

Both items as well as a few accessories (i.e., the sink grid) have now arrived at our house. The next step for us will be to finalize the countertop and get everything installed. Eek! These improvements are going to make such a difference to how we enjoy and use our kitchen!

Personal: June Updates of my 2022 Goals

The sun is shining, and I have been enjoying the warmth of summer. I’m happy to share this update of my 2022 goals.

  1. Write with my fountain pen. Yes. Last month, I thought my TWSBI fountain pen was broken, but after contacting a TWSBI representative, I was able to get all the parts in place. Yahoo! It really is a beautifully functioning pen.
  2. Complete house projects. Yes. This month marked the one year anniversary of our home purchase. Yay! We celebrated with a dinner of Popeyes and Veuve Clicquot. While sometimes I think that we haven’t made many drastic changes over the last year, in fact, we have. We have made each room a little bit more functional and aesthetically pleasing for us. Each room feels a bit more settled, and while the design process is slow, we have made movement. This month, I focused on my veggie garden. I check on my plants every gosh darn day, and I’m so pleased to see growth. My plant babies are doing well, and I hope they’ll be producing veggies soon. Patience, grasshopper, patience. (This has been very hard for my impatient self). I have found doing any work in the garden very calming and relaxing. Nature heals, as they say, right? My beau hung the hammock recently, and it’s a really perfect place to relax. We also have a new kitchen counter, sink, and faucet, which makes me so happy. What a difference this change has made. We’ve also ordered a few new light fixtures, which my beau will install soon. Finally, the toilet roll holder I ordered in February has finally arrived; this was the last necessary piece in our powder room refresh.
  3. Stay active. Sort of. Walking. Walking. Walking. That’s about all.
  4. Host people. Yes. One of my longest friends came for a visit at the end of May, which was great. We hosted our first outdoor music night. It was an intimate gathering on a beautiful evening.
  5. Travel. We’ve been fortunate to spend time at my beau’s family cottage regularly. We also took a tour of Port Credit on Father’s Day (it honestly felt like a vacation!). That said, I’m itching to escape Ontario!
  6. Read more. Yes. I’ve been enjoying audio books on my long drives and walks. I just finished Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. It was excellent. Read it. In my academic life, my book club is reading Academic Ableism by Jay Dolmage.
  7. Tame garbage. Reduce waste. We are trying. This is hard, but we are trying.
  8. Floss regularly. Yes. Daily.
  9. Walk regularly. Since I’ve got “stay active” on my list, I’m going to cross this one off to avoid repetition.
  10. Stop procrastinating. Yes. I think writing down my to do lists and having a lot on the go at work is keeping me accountable.
  11. Have fun! Yes. Seeing family and friends and making some plans for the summer had made daily life fun!

Previous updates: January, February, March, May.

Design: How to Organize a Pantry in an Antique Armoire

By now, many people know that I’m collecting antique armoires for our new home. I have a beautiful Italian armoire in my office that I use as my bookshelf. In the kitchen, we recently added a large French armoire (one of the ones that come apart…a knockdown armoire) to use as our pantry (which replaced an open bakers rack that came with the house). This very old piece of furniture has travelled from France to Switzerland to Guelph and now it has a new home with us in Waterloo.

It brings me joy.

You know what else brings me joy?

Organizing it!

After a bit of inventory analysis, I stocked up on supplies at Homesense (yes, this kind of organization system is an investment of time and money). I opted for white plastic baskets to house categories of items (e.g., pasta, crackers, tea & coffee) and OXO Pop containers for decanting items (e.g., flour, sugar, oatmeal). Then, of course, I labelled everything!

yes, I know, we have a lot of vinegar and oils

On top of all of this goodness, we have made friends with the previous owners of this armoire. What joy!

Personal: Crochet Progress

Just over a year ago, I started to crochet. I made quick work of pot holders, and then I was motivated to crochet a whole blanket. I predicted it would take me about 10 years. I got back into it in the last few weeks after a very long break. Here’s how it looks now.

I have 9 years to go.

Did you start any new hobbies during the pandemic that you’re still doing?

Personal: March Update of My 2022 Goals

It’s the end of the month, which means I get to share an update of my 2022 goals.

  1. Write with my fountain pen. Yes. I still use it daily. It’s so pretty.
  2. Complete house projects. Sort of. Our powder room refresh is nearly complete; I’m waiting for the shipment of a delayed towel bar/toilet roll holder. Our kitchen refresh is also on hold while we wait for a delayed sink. Delays have been common since the early days of the pandemic, so I’m not surprised. We have been scheming a refresh of another bathroom, too, so that might happen in April.
  3. Practice yoga. No. I wonder if I should take this off the list. I think I’ll change this to “stay active.”
  4. Host people. Yes. We’ve continued with our nearly monthly music night, which brings together a great group of people and fun music. We also hosted dinner with new friends (met via Facebook marketplace if you can believe it…story for another day).
  5. Travel. No travel in March, but something is in the works for April. Oui, oui!
  6. Read more. Yes. I’m flying through audio books on account of my commute, which has been great. I listened to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (read by Tom Hanks), The Vintage Caper, by Peter Mayle, and The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. All three were good, but I really enjoyed my time with Tom Hanks! I’ve also been reading a lot for work.
  7. Tame garbage. Reduce waste. Sort of. I’m making slight improvements, I think. It’s hard!
  8. Floss regularly. Yes. Daily. How have I never added daily flossing into my routine before? It just makes sense. Let’s see what my dentist has to say!
  9. Walk regularly. Yes. I feel like I’m doing okay with my walking. There’s room for improvement, and I anticipate better weather will motivate me to get outside more.
  10. Stop procrastinating. Sort of. Some days I just need a break from my computer.
  11. Have fun! Yes! March was a good month overall. And I hope the positive flavour continues into April, too!

Previous updates: January, February

Personal: Let Love In

Let love in.

This is the message on the hotel key card that I picked up (and forgot to return) from The Clarence Hotel in Dublin. I found it in my purse when I returned to Canada, and I thought to frame it. The card has been sitting on my desk beside my computer since January. It has been sitting there since before freedom conveys. Before war broke out. War. An unprovoked war in a European democracy. How am I even writing that in 2022?

Let love in. The message is simple.

But in 2022, we still don’t get it. Why?






Aren’t these things that education and religion warn us about? Encourage us to overcome?

The obstacles to letting love in are grand. Locally. Globally. The temptations are strong.

But what would happen if we remove them? If they vanished. Poof! Would the world be a better place? Would local communities thrive? Would global relationships be nurtured? Would we finally reduce harm to humanity?

I believe that one of the roles of education is to develop well-rounded citizens. It should also teach us to be critically engaged. It should allow us to




evaluate, and


I believe religion can provide spiritual guidance and promote strong values. Love thy neighbour. Be kind. Show respect. Be compassionate. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

And all that.

I encounter conflict nearly every day at the university (my work place). I challenge, and I am challenged. I oppose and agree with other people’s ideas just as they oppose and agree with mine. I am lucky to work within an institution that is founded on principles of open inquiry, freedom of speech, debate, and the rejection of intolerance. As we create and share knowledge, we “question dogmas and established doctrines and encourage critical thinking in all students and scholars” (Magna Charta Universitatum). I know I am lucky to work in such a space.

When I see, read, and hear about local and global conflict – about war – I feel like education and religion have failed us. We are failing one another.

So what do we do about it?

We listen.

We reflect.

We question.

We evaluate.

We create.


We act.

We help. We protest. We defend. We talk. We write.

We learn.

We don’t repeat mistakes from the past.

We don’t harm one another.

We battle temptations.

We let love in.


Ways to help our Ukrainian friends: Red Cross Canada, Unicef Canada, United Nations Refugee Agency Canada (UNHCR), local Ukrainian churches (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Saint Sophia in Waterloo).

Stay informed: CBC, CNN, scholarly sources (e.g., The Conversation, University of Toronto), social media (e.g., Mstyslav Chernov, Maksim Chmerkovsky).

Personal: February Update of My 2022 Goals

We’re at the end of the month which means I’d like to share an update of my 2022 goals.

  1. Write with my fountain pen. Yes. I use my fountain pen daily for both mundane notes and important correspondence.
  2. Complete house projects. Yes. Our second TV area is coming together, and we made progress on our main floor powder room.
  3. Practice yoga. No. I did well in January, and then I took a complete break. No bueno.
  4. Host people. Yes. We continue to host quite regularly. It’s been fun to spend time with friends for short and long visits.
  5. Travel. No. Not this month.
  6. Read more. Sort of. I’m just slow-going these days. I read Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly, and I laughed out loud.
  7. Tame garbage. Reduce waste. Sort of. I’m definitely more aware of our waste production, and I’m doing better at minimizing food waste, too.
  8. Floss regularly. Yes. Daily. I still don’t know why I waited so long to get into a daily flossing habit.
  9. Walk regularly. Sort of. I’m so tired of winter that these days the weather has to be just right for me to go for a walk.
  10. Stop procrastinating. Sort of. Going into the office has helped me to get my marking done in a reasonable time frame.
  11. Have fun! Yes! I’ve had a really happy month, and there have been many days filled with laughter. Hooray!

Previous updates: January

Design at Home: Powder Room Progress

As I’ve said before, our house needs very little in terms of renovations. Our largest renovation projects would be the kitchen and the backyard. And even then, the renovations aren’t essential…they’d just make me enjoy our house even more than I already do! 🙂 So the projects we’ve been slowly doing at the house are small tweaks to increase functionality and aesthetic.

One of the spaces that I’ve spent a bit of time working to improve is our main floor powder room. It was a white box that I knew could get even whiter.

Here’s what the space looked like when we moved in:

The bathroom was white and bright, but the light fixture was broken, the mirror was small, and the towel ring wasn’t my aesthetic.

We didn’t want to put too much money and effort into a massive renovation (like installing a custom vanity), but I knew we could do a few things to make it nicer. So we did!

One of the best things I did was to repaint the walls. They weren’t in the best shape, so I patched up a lot of holes, smoothed out a few gouges, and gave the whole room a fresh coat of white paint (leftover Benjamin Moore Simply White). The new paint job – like so many people often say – made a world of difference to this room. Magic!

Beyond the painting, I polished the window hardware (more magic!), hung a round mirror, and installed a modern light.

Seeing the before and progress photos makes me grin. A few tweaks has made a huge difference in the function and aesthetic of this space.

That said, the room transformation isn’t quite complete. The towel bar and toilet roll holder will arrive next month, and we have to decide on art. I’ll be happy to share more photos when all the pieces are in place.

Personal: January Update of My 2022 Goals

We’re wrapping up the first month of 2022, so this is the first check-in of my 2022 goals.

  1. Write with my fountain pen. Yes! Using my fountain pen daily.
  2. Complete house projects. Yes. I made good progress on my office this month. We also started working on a second TV area thanks to friends who gave us a TV they no longer needed.
  3. Practice yoga. Yes! I completed 24 days of yoga this month. I followed Yoga with Adriene‘s MOVE series this month, which I enjoyed.
  4. Host people. Yes! We’ve hosted several impromptu dinners this month, and it’s been really great to spend time with people in person on a small scale.
  5. Travel. Yes! We traveled outside of Ontario this month. Our short getaway gave me so much energy! And it was a very safe – not scary – trip.
  6. Read more. Sort of. I’ve started a few things, but I haven’t finished anything yet (besides magazines).
  7. Tame garbage. Reduce waste. No. Not really. I am conscious of our waste production, but I haven’t taken any concrete steps to reduce waste.
  8. Floss regularly. Yes. Daily. Why haven’t I done daily flossing ever before? I can’t wait to go to the dentist next and when they ask, do you floss regularly? I can finally say, yes! (Fun fact: Only 43% of Canadians age 12 and older reported that they floss daily.)
  9. Walk regularly. Yes. While we were on our trip, we walked 20K km every day. It was amazing. Back home, I’m walking generally everyday, too.
  10. Stop procrastinating. Sort of. Work was quite busy this month, but I packed it all in, and I reduced opportunities for procrastination.
  11. Have fun! Yes! The most fun days were the ones when I imagined we’re not still living a pandemic, lockdown life.

Health: The Stability Ball

As I mentioned in my 2022 goals post, I’m making my back health a priority. I’ve had a sore back for a little while now, which I think was a result of sitting in a not-so-ergonomic chair at my desk all day staring at a computer. As steps to improve my back, I’ve been going to physiotherapy regularly (which always makes me feel better), practicing daily yoga (18 days straight…hooray!), and sitting on a stability ball at my desk.

Everyone, I already feel so much better! I can barely believe it!

this is the exact Gaiam stability ball kit I bought from Amazon

While I’ve been going to physio for a few months now, I really think the 18 days of yoga plus the stability ball chair have really sped up my sore back recovery. I was skeptical that either would help, so you can imagine my surprise when the combo of both (or all three changes, in fact) have helped me.

So now I want to buy every Gaiam product out there and continue to build my strength and stability by doing every day things – like sitting at my desk!

I do have an ergonomic chair on its way, but I think I may end up alternating between the chair and the ball throughout the day or week.

Design at Home: House Projects

We moved into our new home in June 2021, and while the house does not need any major or minor work (really move-in ready!), I have a list of projects to make the house feel ours. Since June, we have done a few things that were quite necessary like installing a water softener, leveling patio stones, hiring an arborist, and getting our chimneys cleaned.

Merging two houses has also meant that we have spent a good chunk of time sorting through our pieces of furniture and artwork and deciding what we want to keep, sell, and donate. We’ve also worked on a few different layouts in different rooms as we’ve learned more about what kinds of spaces we need and want in our home.

While we don’t actually need anything for our home, there’s a bunch of stuff I want to do in 2022. Here’s my list (which my beau mostly agrees on, too):

  1. Install a new sink, faucet, and countertop in the kitchen. Replace the cabinet handles. Add a backsplash. (Affordably!)
  2. Upgrade lighting (modern, modern, modern) in as many rooms in the house as possible.
  3. Add rugs to certain space to increase cozy factor.
  4. Install a backsplash in our basement kitchen.
  5. Invest in a upright freezer.
  6. Organize and make better use of our garage and shed.
  7. Continue to hang artwork (and maybe buy a piece that both of us like).
  8. Invest in a good office chair (for my office).
  9. Continue to design my beau’s office.
  10. Add a secondary TV area.
  11. Finalize a design plan for our sitting room.
  12. Organize the kitchen pantry.
  13. And I’ll probably keep adding to the list as the year evolves!

It’s fun to have design projects on the go. I’ll check on this list in a few months or in a year to see how far we’ve come.

Design at Home: My Office

This past weekend, I worked to get my office finally cleaned up. I added a new rug and light, and I saw my design vision come to life. I love my office. It’s a positive place to work, and I think it’s an accurate reflection of me.

I originally had two similar plans for the main components in my office. One version had black accents, and the other had white. In both design plans, I had my heart set on mixing old antiques with modern elements (which is the aesthetic I’m aiming for elsewhere in the house, too). When I made the design boards, I had just purchased an antique desk similar to the one I featured.

Now, my office looks like this:

I was lucky to find my antique desk here in Waterloo from a seller who told me it was her long-time writing desk. How perfect! She bought it in Montreal decades ago, and I think it must have come from France originally. Oui oui! The desk has a leather top inset (protected with glass), wood inlay, and brass details. It’s a special piece of furniture.

Not too long after that, my mom sent me a link to an antique Italian armoire at an auction, and I jumped on it. Things were moving quickly, but I guess timing was right because before I knew it, it was mine! It is lovely!

I feel fortunate to have these two pieces of exquisite craftsmanship in my possession, and they fit beautifully into our historic home. I met the previous owners of each of these pieces, and I could tell that they had strong attachments to them. They cared for the pieces, and I promised that I would, too.

The final two pieces were the rug and the light. I tried to get the black and white striped Ikea rug (seen above) on several occasions, but it was constantly out of stock, so I took it as a sign that the rug wasn’t for this space. Instead I opted for the “let the pieces find me” approach, and when I came across a soft white rug, I took it as a sign that white accents was the way to go for my office. Then I spotted a modern, airy light, and I could see my vision come to completion.

You’ll notice that I have a lot more wood in this office than I ever had before. The pieces are so refined and I just love them against the white walls. And speaking of white, there’s still plenty of it!

The design plan is just about complete. I may exchange the rug for the next size up, and I’m waiting for the delivery of an ergonomic desk chair. In the meantime, I’m using the balance ball and have already noticed that it’s better for my back (core and legs, too) than the dainty antique chair that came with my desk (but it’s just so pretty!).

Personal: Goals for 2022

Last year, I drafted a list of goals, and I checked in monthly about my progress (or lack thereof). I liked the exercise, so I’m going to repeat it for this year.

Here’s my current list of goals for 2022 in no particular order. I may add or delete goals as the year moves on.

  1. Write with my fountain pen. It’s so beautifully designed, and it writes so smoothly. I’m going to try to use it as my regular pen, so that my mundane notes (e.g., weekly to do lists) are prettier.
  2. Complete house projects. I’m drafting an evolving list of house projects for 2022, so the aim is to complete them. Obviously.
  3. Practice yoga. My back has been sore for several months now, so one of the things I’m doing to improve it (and hopefully my general health) is yoga. I’m going to stick with Yoga with Adriene for a while and see if I notice any changes in my back and general flexibility.
  4. Host people. We love having people over, and we did a good amount of entertaining since we moved into our house, even with ever-changing restrictions. We’ll continue to do so.
  5. Travel. I am really hoping to travel outside of Ontario in 2022.
  6. Read more. I will aim for 1-2 books per month, I think.
  7. Tame garbage. Reduce waste. One of the things that I noticed early on in my days of cohabitation was the increase in garbage production. Oh my goodness. There’s just so much garbage (compost, recycling, regular garbage, yard waste). I’m going to try to reduce the garbage we produce (and get the rest of the household members on board, too). I don’t yet know how I’m going to put this goal into action, but I’ll use this month to brainstorm some steps.
  8. Floss regularly. A couple of months ago, I started to floss every day. Every day! Who flosses every day? Now, I do. I feel like this is a very responsible goal. I use disposable flossers, which is great for function, but terrible for waste (see #7).
  9. Walk regularly. I’m not going to worry about how long and how much, but I’m just going to walk regularly.
  10. Stop procrastinating. This goal mostly relates to when I procrastinate on marking my students’ work. Some weeks are just so slow going!
  11. Have fun!

Personal: December Update of My 2021 Goals

It’s been nearly 12 months since I drafted a list of 14 goals for 2021. I’ll say goodbye to my 2021 goals with a short commentary on what I feel I can cross off (or not) as I reflect on last year and prepare my 2022 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Yes. Done. Crossed off!
  2. Travel. Nope. Who knew in January 2021 that the world would be (mostly) shut down for the year.
  3. Save money. Sort of. I was on a good track and then a purchase (ahem…a house) has required me to review my finances, budget, and tracking systems.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes. Done. Crossed off!
  5. Crochet a blanket. Nope. Still many stitches to go!
  6. Reduce social media consumption. Sort of. I don’t really know how I should track this, but I feel that I have reduced my social media consumption.
  7. Renovate my bathroom. Eliminated this goal when we bought our new home. Now we have a new list of house projects!
  8. Play games. Yes! So many games were played (but mostly Bananagrams) in 2021.
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Yes. Done. Crossed off!
  10. Read more. Yes. Done. Crossed off!
  11. Blog. Yes. Done. Crossed off!
  12. Embrace cross country skiing. Nope. Not really. I went out only a couple of times in 2021.
  13. Cross stitch. I eliminated this when I realized I should finish crocheting my blanket before I start a new craft.
  14. Have fun! Yes. Though I struggled through several months in 2021 (stress, stress, stress), there were so many happy days and moments in 2021 that reminded me of how grateful I am to live the life that I do. I am in a happy place now, and I am thankful that I have laughed and had fun in both my personal and professional lives.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2022!

How do you feel about the new year? Does it feel like a fresh start or a continuation of 2021?

It feels like a fresh start for me, which isn’t the case every January. Normally, September feels like the time to start anew, but this year, January feels like fresh start.

I was fortunate to take the last couple of weeks of December off. Mostly, I was off of Zoom and I checked email minimally. In December, I felt tired from online/computer work, and I had very little motivation or energy to open my computer to read and write for pleasure or work throughout the month. Beyond the attachment/detachment to my computer, the last few months of 2021 had its challenges (mostly on account of the move and lifestyle changes), so I was feeling drained by mid-December.

My holidays were different from years past (whose weren’t?), but they were wonderful and relaxing. Surprisingly so, in fact. We kept traditions like picking out a fresh Christmas tree and decorating it with treasured ornaments while listening to Christmas tunes. We also did new things like host holiday open houses (pre-Omicron restrictions), and we ordered fish and chips for Christmas Eve dinner. We spent several afternoons playing games with friends and family. And we had lazy days reading books and magazines by the fireplace. Best of all, we hosted my sister’s family for a quick 24-hours and showed them some of the things we love about our new home/neighbourhood/Waterloo/Canada. It was a memorable visit! Overall, I felt very happy and relaxed. I am always grateful for all that I have.

I feel that I am starting January 2022 in a very good place. I hope this “good place” continues throughout the year, of course. Yes, there will be challenges ahead, as there always are, but I feel confident that I will be able to overcome them. I’m feeling positive about the year ahead, and I commit to maintaining this attitude as the months go by.

Dear readers, thank you for joining me each week on this little place on the internet. I am so happy you’re here, and I look forward to sharing more goodness with you over the next 12 months. I wish you many days filled with brightness and laughter. Be well.

Happy New Year!

Personal: Reflections in the Age of Covid-19 – Part 4

Here we go again. On Friday afternoon, the Ontario government announced new restrictions in the province, and the news really got me down. I was so sad. Pre-announcement, I knew there was a possibility of restrictions on account of an increase in cases of the Omricon variant, but I was remaining hopeful that the worst of this pandemic was behind us, and we’d be forging ahead with antigen tests and boosters. Instead, we’re back to what it seems to me like the beginning of the pandemic. We’re not quite in full lockdown mode, but we’re now limited to having a maximum of 10 people in our homes and reduced capacity at restaurants and event venues. It’s not even that socializing with 10 or fewer people in my home is what’s really bothering me. It’s that restrictions have come back into effect. We’ve lived nearly two years of pandemic life, and it feels like we’ve made zero progress!

I know we’ve made progress. I do. The beginning of the pandemic was horrific. So many lives were lost. We didn’t know much about the spread, vaccines, and tests. Now, we do.

I know that I’m lucky. I live in Canada where I have had access to vaccines. I have a stable job that I love. I have been able to visit with my family and friends fairly regularly (and safely). We are healthy.

Even though I recognize these things, the ongoing “stay-at-home and limit interactions” guide is tiring. I know I’m not alone.


Work brings me a lot of joy. Overall, every day, I’m so grateful and excited to do the work that I do. Some days are better than others, of course. On the great days, my students are actively engaged in class, and our discussions are interesting. I have time to read and think and plan. I have productive meetings with colleagues (who I have now officially met in person once!). I feel happy to be in my gorgeous home office (and avoid a long commute in winter weather). On the tough days, I am drained. I am unmotivated. I am tired. I don’t want to open my computer. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to see myself on Zoom. It’s hard to start my work day.

During the fall term, I was preparing to start teaching in person in the winter term. I set up my office at work, and I spent time thinking about how my existing online course would be transformed to the in person environment. I met my colleagues. I bought a parking pass. Last week, the university announced that we’d be starting the winter term online. The planning and replanning has been tiring.

Flexibility and adaptability continue to be two characteristics that I must continue to draw on!


In my last Covid-19 reflection post in February 2021, I wasn’t seeing people so regularly. I had bubble people, and I didn’t expand my bubble so much. I wasn’t vaccinated. Since then, my life has changed a lot! Once my family and friends were vaccinated, we started socializing fairly regularly. We spent a lot of time outside throughout the winter, spring, and summer. By the end of summer and beginning of fall, people were socializing inside, and my personal life felt normal(ish) again.

Since February 2021, I bought a house with my beau, and we each sold our previous homes. Buying and selling in the crazy real estate market was very emotional. Co-ownership has been emotional. Cohabitation has been emotional. My beau and I worked through a lot of the “how the heck do we live together” things throughout the summer months, and this fall has been fun and relatively stress-free. I could now probably write a blog post (or several) about cohabitation in your 40s!

We both like to entertain, so we’ve had many meals with others in our home, we’ve hosted weekend guests, and we’ve just celebrated Christmas with three parties (spread out so that we’d be safe). Our home has been filled with joy and laughter – just how we like it!

Christmas Eve is in four days. I won’t be seeing my family as I normally do, so this year is going to be different. But last Christmas was different. The year before that was also different. So what’s a normal Christmas? I can barely remember! That said, I’m excited to celebrate our first Christmas in our new home. We’re going to start new traditions. We’re going to eat, drink, and be merry!

And best news of all – as long as there are no more announcements – my sister and her family are coming to visit! I haven’t seen them all in person for 2.5 years, so I’m thrilled! Facetime has been fine, but it’s not the same as an in-person visit.


Besides the recent restrictions announcement, I have been okay. We are heading into the cold, dark months of winter, which will be challenging, but I am looking forward to skating and cross-country skiing, so I can stay active outdoors. In the meantime, I have been going for nearly daily walks, and they make me feel good. They make me forget about Covid-19. They make me observe my surroundings. They give me time to visit or call a friend. Walking is good medicine!


There are so many places that could use our support. The Food Bank remains a good place to send funds now and always. The Region of Waterloo has additional suggestions for ways to help. If you’re not in the region, I encourage you to look at your government’s website to discover organizations in need.

If you’re not able to provide financial support, other acts of kindness go a long way. Kindness, patience, and conversation are always appreciated.

Be well, everyone!

Previous reflections in the age of Covid-19: April 2020, August 2020, February 2021.

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

  1. Recently watched: Look at the interesting discovery in this same sky postcards video. Watching cheesy holiday movies has begun in my house with Father Christmas is Back, Love Hard, A California Christmas, and The Holiday. All the cheesy holiday movies are made even better with a “Hallmark holiday movie watching box” that my beau gave me, which included a mug, candle, and Bingo cards so we can all have fun while we watch! So cheesy and great! We went to see House of Gucci last weekend (I didn’t love it as much as everyone else did).
  2. Recently read: I’m still making my way through the stack of books from last month. I have been reading a lot about our home’s history via the Waterloo Public Library’s digital archives (amazing records!).
  3. Recently listened to: Jack Johnson’s Greatest Hits (on repeat) and all the Christmas carols (on repeat)
  4. Recently visited: Langdon Hall in Cambridge (for a special overnight celebration) and Benjamin Tree Farm in St. Jacobs to buy our Christmas tree
  5. Recently baked: classic sugar cookies (ready to be decorated this weekend)

Personal: November Update of My 2021 Goals

Oh my goodness…one month to complete all my goals. One month to finish crocheting a blanket. I’m not quite sure I’ll get there! Here’s an update of my 2021 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Yes. I have been eating more salads each week, and a few veggie soups, too.
  2. Travel. Does Langdon Hall in Cambridge count? I think so!
  3. Save money. Yes. My new spreadsheet is working well and savings continue (even though it’s challenging with Christmas expenses)!
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes. This goal has been an easy one to maintain in 2021.
  5. Crochet a blanket. Nope.
  6. Reduce social media consumption. Yes. I think I have. I feel like I’ve reduced my mindless scrolling.
  7. Play games. Saturday crosswords continued this month, but I haven’t yet learned how to play Backgammon.
  8. Edit my magazine subscriptions. I accomplished this goal a while ago. I’m crossing it off the list!
  9. Read more. Yes. Yes. This month I’ve been reading Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway and Joshua Eyler’s How Humans Learn.
  10. Blog. Yes…I’ve been blogging three days a week! Can I cross this off the list now?
  11. Bike ride regularly. I’m deleting this from my goal list because it’s too cold for my liking to ride now.
  12. Have fun! November was quite fun. We had a mini getaway at Langdon Hall, we spent an overnight at my beau’s family cottage, and we decorated for Christmas!

Previous updates: January, February, March, April, May & June, September, October.

Personal: October Update of My 2021 Goals

Wow. October has come and gone. That was fast! Here’s an update of my 2021 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Yes. I have been eating more salads each week, and a few veggie soups, too.
  2. Travel. Sigh. Nope.
  3. Save money. My budget spreadsheet is new and improved thanks to some brainstorming with a friend about Excel formulas and pivot tables (thanks JM!). Saving continues!
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes. I keep things moving around here. I have a pile of books for friends to sort through and to move into Little Libraries. I have brought yet another carload of items to the thrift store.
  5. Crochet a blanket. Nope. Not done quite yet!
  6. Reduce social media consumption. I feel like I have reduced consumption, but maybe it’s just my imagination.
  7. Play games. Oh yes! Bananagrams and Saturday crosswords continue. I want to get into Backgammon in November.
  8. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Done. I feel like I accomplished this goal several months ago. My magazine subscription list has been reduced, and anything I don’t get, I end up borrowing from the library.
  9. Read more. Yes! I have been reading. I finished Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library. I skimmed through The Clarity Cleanse by Habib Sadeghi. I am ready to start Amor Towles The Lincoln Highway now.
  10. Blog. Yes…I’ve been blogging three days a week!
  11. Bike ride regularly. I’m deleting this from my goal list because it’s too cold for my liking to ride now.
  12. Have fun! We’ve had a very fun October, including a memorable last-minute impromptu music night which brought together a great group of people – and amazing music!

Previous updates: January, February, March, April, May & June, September.

Personal: Things on My Mind

What have you been doing/watching/reading/visiting/making this fall? Please share! I’m always looking for new things to try.

Here is a glimpse into some of what I’ve been up to lately.

  1. Recently watched: Call My Agent (French, set in Paris), The Great British Baking Show (who can resist Paul Hollywood?), Sex and The City (started from the pilot episode, makes me want to to to New York), Kid90 (Soleil Moon Frye’s documentary), Mixte (French), Maid (based on the autobiography), this short video by Sadeck Waff for the Paris 2024 Olympics (watch more of his work – it’s mesmerizing!) – and I’d recommend all of them!
  2. Recently read: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop by Felicia Rose Chavez, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi – I’d recommend all of these books!
  3. Recently played: The John Derion Painter’s Palette puzzle, Globe & Mail Saturday crossword (one of my favourite things to do over the weekend)
  4. Recently visited: The Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain (I’m already eager to return. My nearly-back-to-normal sprained ankle, back, and skin felt so good.
  5. Recently purchased: an incredible antique Italian armoire (absolutely stunning – my office design dream is slowly coming true)
  6. Recently made: NYT plum torte (so good that I made it twice in two weeks!), slow roasted chicken and garlic (a hit for a crowd), Ina Garten’s roasted shrimp and orzo (eaten warm rather than room temp)
A completed Globe & Mail crossword is so satisfying!

Personal: September Update of My 2021 Goals

Obviously, I haven’t checked in with you – or myself – about my 2021 goals. Mid-way through September seems like a good time to review them – and revise them!

  1. Eat more vegetables. I’m keeping steady with this goal. I don’t eat salad every day, but I do eat vegetables regularly.
  2. Travel. Sigh. Should I just remove this from my list? I did spend a week in Ottawa in August, so I guess I did make a bit of progress with this one!
  3. Save money. Ha ha ha. Funny considering a big move in June! The good news is though that expense tracking continues! It was a useful practice for me on my own, and it continues to be useful as a couple.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes. I have passed on so many things over the last few months. It’s been great for me and appreciated by the recipients (I think!).
  5. Crochet a blanket. Hmm…this project was put on pause as we went through the house drama. I have just a few months to finish it before winter arrives.
  6. Reduce social media consumption. I think I’ve reduced consumption without really thinking about it. Mostly, I think, I’ve reduced consumption because it’s been summer, and I’ve wanted to be outside with people instead of online.
  7. Play games. Oh yes! Bananagram tournaments galore! We played with three new people over the last couple of months, so that’s been fun! And, oh yes, that good ol’ pickle ball. I played that this summer. Once.
  8. Edit my magazine subscriptions. I’ve done well with this goal in 2021. I especially appreciate my subscription to Veranda.
  9. Read more. Yes! I have been reading. I finished Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour (really really really enjoyed it!) and I’m just starting Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library. I never did finish listening to Barack Obama’s A Promised Land. I’ve also read a couple academic books: Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning edited by Susan D. Blum and Distracted: Why Students Can’t Focus and What You Can Do About It by James M. Lang.
  10. Blog. I’ll keep this on my goal list, but I recognize that I haven’t been reaching it.
  11. Bike ride regularly. Because of the move, I didn’t bike for much of the summer. I rode it only once in August.
  12. Cross stitch. I’m deleting this from my goal list until I’ve made more progress with my crocheted blanket.
  13. Have fun! In between some stressful days and weeks, I have been having fun. I had an awesome birthday party with a handful of friends in our new house, we took a road trip to Ottawa, we hosted friends here in Waterloo, I have enjoyed morning walks in the park (and recovered from the dog attack way back in June!), and I’ve baked new things (like peach torte from Ina Garten’s new cookbook which was gifted to me!). Let the fun continue!

Previous updates: January, February, March, April, May & June.

Hello, World!

Hello! Remember me? The blogger who loves white? It’s been a long while, hasn’t it? Is anyone still out there?

How are you?


How are you?

I’m curious about how you’re doing. What you’re reading. What you’re doing. How you’re coping. What’s making you smile. What you’re thankful for. What you’re interested in. What activities you’re doing. And if you feel happy.

I’m curious about all of these things, dear readers! Please share!

As for me? Well, I’ve experienced some changes. For the better. Although there have been mountains to climb and very stressful days.

Today, though, I feel good. Great, in fact. Minus my sprained ankle which is currently elevated as I type from the comfort of my couch.

I don’t have a dramatic story to share about my ankle. I sprained it (light sprain, I think) playing pickle ball. You know that sport which is like tennis and which is popular among seniors in Florida? Yes, that pickle ball. I rolled my ankle. My beau carried me princess style to safety, so I could rest in the shade while the pickle ball tournament continued. A friend subbed in for me, so that my 12 year old partner could continue to play. So, yeah, that’s the short story of my ankle.

Beyond that, my major news is that after eight years of living in my own home (my first home!), I moved. That was major. Double major because my beau and I moved in together. Woah. Big news, yes. It wasn’t a smooth process, unfortunately, but we’re settling in just fine now. He cleans out the sink drain (one of my least favourite chores), so that’s handy! I’m even trying to learn to live with a touch of colour. He liked my red office chair in the new living room, so we left it. Luckily, he’s okay with white, too, and we have many overlapping images on our Pinterest boards. Yes, he has Pinterest boards. Luckily for me, he hasn’t pushed too hard for neon lights in his music space.

Like others, I’m tired of the pandemic news. Can we all get vaccinated and move on with life? Give me a third dose and a passport please, so I can travel. I miss travel. A lot.

We’ve done some local travel, though. Cottage life has been a nice reprieve. A week in Ottawa with friends was fun. It was great to be a tourist!

I haven’t seen my nephews and niece (and sister and brother-in-law) in two years. Two years is too long. I miss them. Everyone has changed. I barely know what they’re interested in. Facetime is fine, but it’s not sufficient. When borders open, I’m heading south. Or they’ll come north. Or we’ll meet in the middle.

Work life is great. I am so so so grateful for my job. I love it. I connected with students last year in ways that I never had before. Many of my students had such a hard year. So many challenges. Sad stories. Trauma. It was a lot. This was the first week of classes for the fall term, and I just hope that everyone has a positive year and that they learn a lot!

And blogging. Where does this fit in these days?

Obviously, it hasn’t fit in my life over the last few months. But I miss writing. I need to make time for it. I’m not sure when and how, but I need to. It makes me happy.

And I want to continue to do things that make me happy.

Oh so simple.

I’ll be back, dear readers, and I hope you will be, too.

Personal: May and June Update of My 2021 goals

Better late than never, right? Phew – how did June get here so fast? And leave so fast, too? Since I missed my May update, I’ll combine the two months into one update post.

How did you do this month with your 2021 goals?

Here’s where I’m at with my goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. I know I didn’t get enough veggies in me in May, and I was feeling terrible. I ate too much fast food and take out, and I didn’t make enough time for grocery shopping and cooking. I changed things in June, and I got back on track with lunchtime salads and veggies at dinner.
  2. Travel. Still on hold.
  3. Save money. Not quite. I had a major life change in May/June (I moved!), which meant that my expense tracking went out the window! Now that we’re in our new house, I’m back to tracking our expenses.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Sort of. I did a major clean-out (on account of the move), so I had plenty of boxes for donation. It felt good to pass things on that are high quality but no longer needed.
  5. Crochet a blanket. I made some progress at the beginning of May, then put it on hold. For now, I have a great child-sized blanket.
  6. Reduce social media consumption. This one is still a challenge for me. I scroll Instagram for no reason.
  7. Renovate my bathroom. This one is now off my list because, you guessed it, I sold my house.
  8. Play games. Games have moved to the park these last couple of months – frisbee and soccer, mostly. I’m eager to break out the croquet set though!
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Getting there! I didn’t renew one magazine recently.
  10. Read more. Yes! I listened to My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite on audiobook, and I really enjoyed it. I read Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults, and I thought it was fine. It wasn’t nearly as good as her Neapolitan novels. I also started to listen to Barack Obama’s A Promised Land. He narrates the audiobook, which makes it even that much better! I made it through a few parts before my borrowing time was up at the library. I’ll request it again to continue to listen to it.
  11. Blog. It was really tough to keep writing in May/June.
  12. Bike ride regularly. Not quite. I took a pause from biking, for much of May and June, but now that my bike is at my new house, I’m using it regularly.
  13. Cross stitch. No progress here. I may have to move this to my 2022 goal list.
  14. Have fun! There have been some very stressful days these last couple of months, and it was tough to find time for fun. Move-in weekend, however, ended up being quite fun because friends came to help!

Previous updates: January, February, March, April

Personal: April Update of My 2021 Goals

Who else has drafted a list of goals to accomplish in 2021? What’s on your list? How did you to this month?

April has flown by in a flash. End of term kept me busy at work with early mornings and busy weekends. The spring term is right around the corner, so I’ve been prepping for that, too. While March had me down for so many reasons, April – and several days of sunshine – meant for some happy days (in between terrible Ontario lockdown restrictions again). I’ve had a decent amount of downtime to work on my hobbies like crochet and reading.

Here’s this month’s update of my 2021 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Sort of! I’ve made a few delicious salads each week (mostly with whatever veggies I have on hand + hard boiled eggs). I’ve also done so many roasted veggies, and they’re just delicious. These blistered green beans have been in heavy rotation. I’d like to get back into the habit of going to the market on Saturdays…I went to Kitchener market last Saturday after I hadn’t been in over a year. (Here are the gorgeous tulips I picked up at the market.)
  2. Travel. Nope! Ha ha. It’s basically a terrible joke that I have this on my goal list, isn’t it?
  3. Save money. Yes! I have continued to track of my spending for the most part.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes! I passed on a stack of magazines early in the month. I also sorted through stacks of magazines and books I was hoarding, and I have been slowly going through my closets (very slowly). Items have been or will be thrown out/passed on/donated once Ontario’s lockdown is over.
  5. Crochet a blanket. Yes! I’ve made decent progress this month (see my blanket progress). It feels and looks so nice. I still have another 274193 hours until it’s done!
  6. Reduce social media consumption. Sort of! My aimless scrolling doesn’t last too long these days, but I know I can do better. Does anyone have any advice? Delete the Instagram app over the weekend, for example?
  7. Renovate my bathroom. Nope! No progress here.
  8. Play games. Yes! Bananagrams continues to be a go-to game. Nintendo and the weekly crossword, too, have kept my mind busy.
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Nope! Like in the last two months, I didn’t need to edit anything this month because none of my subscriptions were up for renewal. I haven’t signed up for any new subscriptions, so I think that’s a goal achievement, too.
  10. Read more. Yes! I finished Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (part of my faculty book club at work). I also moved quickly through Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour, and I quite enjoyed the audiobook version.
  11. Blog. Sort of! I started off slow at the beginning of the month, then picked up regular writing mid-month. It always makes me feel good to write blog posts – even short ones!
  12. Bike ride regularly. Embrace cross country skiing. No need! Snow is gone! I’ve replaced my winter goal with a spring/summer goal – bike riding. And, yes, I did go for a few rides this month. It’s been a good way to see friends at a distance.
  13. Cross stitch. Nope! No progress.
  14. Have fun! Yes! I did have some fun in April…but I could have more in May!

Previous updates: January, February, March

Personal: Things on My Mind

I have a long list of things on my mind for you today. There are plenty of interesting links for you to peruse over the weekend.

  1. Jacques Pepin making a fried egg is a good video.
  2. A couple of months ago, I started meeting my nephews and niece on Zoom for a short French lesson each week. It’s been a very fun part of my week (and I hope the same is true for them). Even though it has taken a pandemic to get us here, I’m so happy! If they weren’t in virtual school/homeschool/half-time school (so many variations this past year!), and I wasn’t working from home, and Zoom didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be having these lessons. I find it very cool.
  3. I made this acorn squash stuffed with chicken dish from Half Baked Harvest, and it was an easy and tasty recipe.
  4. I did the 16 Personalities test, and my results were pretty darn accurate. Any guesses as to my personality? (Executive: ESTJ – Part of the Sentinels personality type: Observant and judging personality types known for their practicality and focus on order, security, and stability.)
  5. I need to do this historical walking tour of Waterloo.
  6. This video from the Marsh family “Totally Fixed Where We Are” is fun (if you can laugh about the reality of lockdown life). Watch their other videos, too!
  7. Speaking of music and creative people, you’ve got to check out Damien Robitaille on Instagram. He makes me smile with each video. It’s hard to choose a favourite, but his version of Daft Punk’s Around the World could be it.
  8. And Korean acapella group Maytree’s acapella jingles are impressive, too!
  9. What have you been watching on Netflix/Prime/Crave/Disney+/etc.? Here’s what I’ve watched in the last little while (with brief ratings): Ginny & Georgia (fine), Little Fires Everywhere (good), Parks & Recreation (so funny), Margin Call (very good), The Big Short (very good), and Criminal (fine).
  10. I keep going back to this list of recipes I’ve tried and loved. Pasta alla vecchia bettola, potato leek soup, roast chicken, and chicken broth have been on a weekly (or near weekly rotation). Yum!

Personal: March Update of my 2021 Goals

Who else has drafted a list of goals to accomplish in 2021? What’s on your list? How did you to this month?

March has been a tough one on my end. There’s been a lot on the go personally and professionally, so I’ve had little to no time (a) for leisure time and (b) to remind myself of my goal list.

That said, here’s this month’s update of my 2021 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Sort of! While I haven’t had many salads this month, I have had a few delicious ones, and I made some veggie stir fry dishes to get some veggies into my diet.
  2. Travel. Nope! I didn’t leave the Waterloo region at all this month.
  3. Save money. Sort of! I have continued to keep track of my spending for the most part.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Sort of! I have a stack of magazines ready to pass on.
  5. Crochet a blanket. Sort of! I’ve made quite a bit of progress, but mid-month, I put the project on hold due to lack of leisure time. I still have another 274193 hours until it’s done!
  6. Reduce social media consumption. Sort of! I know I can do better, but I haven’t been scrolling aimlessly through Instagram as much lately.
  7. Renovate my bathroom. Nope! No progress here.
  8. Play games. Yes! Throughout the month, Bananagrams has continued to be on heavy rotation. And I do really enjoy tackling the weekly crossword in the Globe & Mail, too.
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Nope! Like in February, I haven’t edited anything this month because none of my subscriptions were up for renewal. I did pass on a few deals for new subscriptions that came my way.
  10. Read more. Nope! I really let the ball drop with books this month. I still have Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer on the go (for my faculty book club at work). I started Mary Lawson’s A Town Called Solace, but my library borrowing time expired before I could finish it. There are a few good audiobooks and paper books stacked waiting for me.
  11. Blog. Sort of! I was definitely on top of things at the start of March, and then my rate of blogging declined. Shoot!
  12. Embrace cross country skiing. No need! Snow is gone! Spring weather is here (and I hope it’s staying). It’s time to pack up my skis!
  13. Cross stitch. Nope! My planned project is waiting for me.
  14. Have fun! Yes! I did have some fun in March, even though there was a lot on the go!

Previous updates: January, February

Personal: February Update of my 2021 Goals

Who else has drafted a list of goals to accomplish in 2021? What’s on your list? How did you to this month?

Here’s an update of my 2021 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Yes! I’ve had a salad for lunch nearly every weekday. That should be good enough, right? I also made this acorn stuffed with chicken recipe, which seemed healthy enough.
  2. Travel. Nope! Unless you count traveling to see my parents for a day.
  3. Save money. Yes! I’m continue to track my spending (mostly on food these days!), and I even met with my bank representative to chat about a few things. I find our discussions quite helpful.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes! I passed on magazines and a puzzle this month. A friend passed on a puzzle to me, too. Fun!
  5. Crochet a blanket. Yes! I’ve started my blanket project. In another 274193 hours, it will be done!
  6. Reduce social media consumption. Nope! Not really. Why is this so hard?
  7. Renovate my bathroom. Nope! But I have made progress in terms of ideas, fixture options, and layout.
  8. Play games. Yes! It’s been a Bananagrams-heavy month! My beau and I now give each other new challenges like words on a theme or number of 5+ letter words. We’re bananagrammers now.
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Nope! There was no need to edit anything this month because none of my subscriptions were up for renewal.
  10. Read more. Yes! This month, I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking To Strangers on audiobook. He narrates it and there are snippets from others, too, so it was an enjoyable audiobook. I’m also a fan of Gladwell, so I appreciated his presentation of research about how people meet, communicate, judge, and trust one another (and how they don’t!). Chapter 5 was a difficult one to get through because it deals with the topic of sexual abuse, and there are audio clip testimonies from courtrooms in the audiobook version. I’m also just about finished Nick Hornby’s Just Like You (on audiobook), and I’ve enjoyed it (but I’ve always been a Nick Hornby fan). I’m also one chapter into Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer for my faculty book club at work. We’ll be reading and discussing it over the next few months.
  11. Blog. Yes! I have blogged regularly this month. I like being back in regularly contact with my own blog and others, too.
  12. Embrace cross country skiing. Sort of! I got out once this month. Not bad. Not great.
  13. Cross stitch. Nope! I planned out my project, but that’s it.
  14. Have fun! Yes! I did have some fun in February, even though there were some challenging days.

Previous updates: January

Personal: Reflections on Life in the Age of COVID-19 – Part 3

It was over one year ago that news broke about an uncontrollable disease in China (January 2020). Little did we know then, right? Exactly one year ago (February 17th, 2020), I received a text from my dad with news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Codogno, Italy, and soon after that, news that my relatives who live in this small town tested positive. My uncle began a 40-day stay in hospital. So much was unknown at the time, and I spent days (and days and days) glued to the news and my phone.

By the time March arrived, COVID-19 was heavily present in Canada, and on March 17th, life changed locally. The university closed a few weeks before the end of term, and chaos ensued while my team and I sorted out new procedures. I wrote my first COVID-19 reflection post in April and a part 2 update in August. Now, as we near the one-year mark of when the pandemic hit Canada, I’d like to take another moment to reflect.


As you may remember, I started my new position at a new university in July. The time has flown! I have been so happy with the work that I’ve been doing and with the collaborative projects I’ve had with my new colleagues. I continue to feel very fortunate for the work that I do and the contributions I can make at the individual level with students and colleagues and at a group level with my university community and national organizations. My work keeps my brain very active! I am lucky. I find my work so fulfilling, and I go to work (down the hall to my office) happy every day.

While, yes, I’ve been very positive about my new job, there have been some dull days, too. Even though I had a successful first term of teaching virtually when everything was new (course, unit, department, university), by December, I was more than ready for a break. Since I spend most of my days on Zoom, I, like many of you, I’m sure, was so tired of the routine of logging on to my computer every day and sitting in front of a camera. Post-Christmas break, I was more energized to start the new term, to meet new students, and to make progress on my research. Things have been moving along at a decent pace, all things considered.

Overall, I have been enjoying my working from home life. I’ve had a fairly set routine from September on, and because I previously spent years during grad school working from home, this new reality hasn’t been such an adjustment in terms of time and workload management. I do miss casual collegial connections in the hallways, chit chatting in the coffee line, and getting involved in live campus events (speakers, art shows, theatre productions, etc.). University campuses are vibrant and energetic places to be and work!


I miss my friends. I miss dinner parties. I miss lazy brunches. I miss loud family celebrations. I didn’t realize that I missed these things so much until more recently (lockdown life part two + winter blues). Yes, I have connected with friends over Zoom, and I make more phone calls now than ever before, but I miss seeing friends in person and other friends who I don’t connect with as regularly. Some days, I just don’t want to call/talk after a day of being online for work. There haven’t been porch visits and outdoor gatherings as there was in the warmer months, so I miss those opportunities to get caught up. I miss hugs.

I have been spending a lot of time outside this winter. More than ever before, I think. I used to dread walking to work in the snow or constantly watching the winter weather changes and considering how the weather would affect driving conditions. Now, I feel more grateful for the time I can be outside as this time becomes a welcome break during my Zoom-heavy days. I’ve been cross-country skiing with a friend, ice skating at a nearby frozen pond as well as at the charming rink at Kitchener’s Victoria Park, and walking with confidence on snow and ice because of my recent investment in these Icers.

I see the same six people fairly regularly in person. My bubble people, if you will. My beau and I laugh about our big date nights now consist of going to our parents’ houses for meals. Ha ha. It’s always fun, and I’m thankful we have parents who we can still visit with. It is of course still awkward to visit at a distance, avoid the double-kiss greetings (the Italian way), and barely offer a hug, but it’s still good to be with family. (I think they like being with us, too.)

Beyond date nights with our parents, leisure time during evenings and weekends include outdoor activities, a lot of movies and TV shows, cooking, crocheting (I’ve started my blanket), games (Bananagrams!), and puzzles (I’m just about to start a gradient puzzle…wish me luck).

In other personal news, I started French lessons on Zoom with my nephews and niece. We’re just a few weeks into our routine, but it’s been great! I get to see their sweet smiling faces, which makes me so happy! Beyond that, I get to speak French for 30 minutes (I’m taking a full French immersion approach to my instruction), and I get to see them giggle as they’re trying to pronounce words, repeat after me, or understand what I’m saying. They really were amused when I imitated the sound of a bird (un oiseau). Ha ha. So cute! They’ve been in virtual school (and more recently homeschooling) since last February, so I hope our French lesson will be a happy memory for them when they think back to pandemic life.


I was cranky quite regularly in January and February. A lot of things Everything irritated me. I think this was partly because of the pandemic life, but I also think the weather had a huge part to play! I was sad that the sun barely came out. I was tired of winter. I was bored of wearing so many layers to stay warm. I did what I thought was best to get through the month of January (and this month, too): daily walks, activities outside, dinners with my beau, happy light, healthier eating, etc. When February came, I thought I felt instantly better. But I didn’t. I was so darn irritable.

I recently read the article It’s Not Just You. A Lot of Us Are Hitting a Pandemic Wall Right Now and this short piece about coping skills. I found both pieces informative, and each shared good reminders about healthy habits (e.g., eating healthy, getting sleep, having time to unwind).

Now, though, as we approach the end of February, I feel MUCH better. I feel more like myself, and I’m back to being positive about life in general. We’re one month closer to warmer weather! Hooray!


There are so many places that could use our support. The Food Bank remains a good place to send funds now and always. The Region of Waterloo has additional suggestions for ways to help. If you’re not in the region, I encourage you to look at your government’s website to discover organizations in need.

If you’re not able to provide financial support, other acts of kindness go a long way. Kindness, patience, and conversation are always appreciated.

Be well, everyone!

Personal: January Update of My 2021 Goals

Who else has drafted a list of goals to accomplish in 2021? What’s on your list? How did you to this month?

Here’s an update of my 2021 goals.

  1. Eat more vegetables. Yes! I did fairly well this month with my veggie intake. I made soups and salads regularly.
  2. Travel. Nope! TBD.
  3. Save money. Sort of. I continued to track my spending this month, but I had a major car expense (ugh!). A positive result of that expense though is that my car is now safe and quiet. I also couldn’t resist clicking “buy” on the spring Jilly Box (a Jillian Harris project). I won’t get it until March, but I’m hoping it’ll be a cheerful mail day when it arrives.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. Yes! I passed on magazines to a friend, I added clothes to my donation box, and I have a puzzle ready to give to my parents as soon as I can see them.
  5. Crochet a blanket. Nope! I haven’t bought yarn for my future blanket yet. I wanted to buy it from a store, but because of the lockdown, I think I may have to buy it online just so I can get going on this project. I did crochet a new LOVEly pot holder.
  6. Reduce social media consumption. Nope! I still consumed a lot this month. Aimless scrolls through Twitter and Instagram are the worst.
  7. Renovate my bathroom. Nope! No decisions made here. I’m hesitant to do any work until the lockdown is over. Even the planning of the reno isn’t exciting me at the moment.
  8. Play games. Yes! This month, I had fun with crosswords and Bananagrams.
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. Yes! I cancelled one subscription (Architectural Digest). I also signed up for a new subscription (Vanity Fair). One in, one out?
  10. Read more. Yes! I finished Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It was first published in 1948, so the language is definitely not 2021-approved, but the concepts are very helpful. I’ve underlined so many passages and pieces of advice. I’ve also started back on audiobooks, and I’ve just finished All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin (it was fine). Two books in a one month – yay!
  11. Blog. Yes! I’ve achieved my aim of publishing 2 to 3 posts per week this month.
  12. Embrace cross country skiing. Sort of! I skied twice this month after a great snowfall and on sunny days. The weather conditions have to be just right for me to get out there. Check out this snapshot of me on my skis at Explore Waterloo Region!
  13. Cross stitch. Sort of! I have semi-planned my first project (from my hand-me-down embroidery floss collection). All the needlepoint scenes in Bridgerton has sort of served as motivation.
  14. Have fun! Yes! I did a lot of things each day (e.g., cooking, Zoom calls with friends, walking, FaceTime calls with family, buying flowers) that made me happy.

Personal: Memories of a Backpack

In preparation for an upcoming post, I came across this (non-white) backpack.

Why am I sharing it here if it isn’t white? Well, it’s because this is the exact backpack I used throughout my childhood, and it brought back happy memories. I had the red version, and my sister had the yellow one. They were from Italy and from an unknown brand to all of my Canadian friends. Invicta. That was a cool Italian brand back in the day (and now, too), and my backpack (the one you see here!) was The Best! The pockets were perfectly placed and functional, and the drawstring for the interior opening made sure all of my supplies stayed in place. Also, I loved (loooooved) the top flap’s plastic closures. I thought they were so unique. Our Invicta backpacks are still at my parents’ house, so I see them every time I open a closet. And now, this model – the exact model from the 80s – is available for purchase once again. How very cool.

Am I the only one with fond memories of a childhood backpack? I have similar memories of pencil cases, too. Who is with me on this?

Personal: 2021 Goals

In 2020, I wrote (maybe for the very first time in my life) a list of things I wanted to do/see/eat/learn/etc. for the year. The monthly updates reminded me about what I did and didn’t accomplish, and honestly, I liked writing those updates. Some of you, too, may have been encouraged to write your own list of goals and to track your progress.

Considering all of this, I am going to craft a list of goals for 2021. At the moment, I have 14 goals (some of which, you’ll notice, are carried over from last year) at the moment, and I may add to this list as the year evolves.

  1. Eat more vegetables. For various reasons, I am including this at the top of my list this year. Maybe I’ll commit to having at least one salad a day. Thoughts?
  2. Travel. When things open, I’m going to get traveling again. There are places I want to go and people I want to see. 2021 just has to be more open to travel than 2020. Right?
  3. Save money. I’m carrying on with this from 2020. Since tracking my money, I’m so much more aware of frivolous/unnecessary spending. I am going to try to make improvements in my spending habits, so I can achieve my goals.
  4. Pass on magazines/books/clothes/puzzles. I generally already do this, so I’ll continue in 2021. I’m hoping this will encourage me to clean my closets more regularly (and also perhaps make me more mindful of random online clothing orders!).
  5. Crochet a blanket. I now have a decent handle on crochet and numerous stitches. Now that I’ve (mostly) mastered pot holders, I feel that I should try something more challenging this year – a blanket. I have an idea of what I want to make, but now I need to buy the yarn and get started.
  6. Reduce social media consumption. I spend far too much time on Instagram. I have considered deleting it altogether, but before I do that, maybe I’ll just try to reduce my time on the app. How much time do you think is appropriate? I haven’t yet finalized my limit. I also use Twitter regularly, and I can try to cut back on my time with it, but I’m not going to delete it as I learn quite a bit from it, and I use it for work, too.
  7. Renovate my bathroom. I hate my bathroom. 2021 has to be the year that I give it a major makeover. It just has to be!
  8. Play games. This can include board games, crosswords, puzzles, and outdoor activities. This will be an especially important goal if lockdown life continues.
  9. Edit my magazine subscriptions. This may mean that I unsubscribe and subscribe to magazines. I’m not yet sure.
  10. Read more. I read a decent amount, but I also have stacks of books that I haven’t yet read. I’m going to aim to read one (non-work-related) book each month.
  11. Blog. My 2020 posts were sparse, I know. But I want to write and share more in 2021 like I used to. Design, art, travel, fashion – I want to write about what I find interesting and inspiring in 2021.
  12. Embrace cross country skiing. I bought my skis and joined a nordic ski club last year, and I’ll be embracing this outdoor activity once again this winter. Last winter, I only went out a handful of times, but I’m hoping I’ll get out more regularly this year.
  13. Cross stitch. When I gathered my crochet material from my mom a few months ago, I also ended up with all of her cross stitch materials. I have a couple of projects in mind that I’d like to complete this year.
  14. Have fun! If I continue to do things that make me happy, I know I’ll have many fun days ahead!

Personal: December Update of My 2020 Goals

Back in January 2020, 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, June, July. August, September, and November. Here is my final update of the year, if you’d like to know.


1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.
While I didn’t tackle anything specific this month, for the year, I did make a good amount of progress

2. Travel.
I took a little trip to the Niagara region this month. I know there are many people who are/were against traveling, but I took the trip. I felt safe, and I didn’t do anything wild or risky. It was a nice little getaway, which I was very fortunate to have, before the province-wide lockdown. While in the region, I ate at Prime, Ravine, and Noble. I had a spa afternoon at Christienne. I watched Niagara with Marilyn Monroe. I also enjoyed walking around the falls (brrr…). I recommend all of the above.

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.
While I didn’t necessarily learn much about the region this month, I did shop locally at Benjamin Tree Farm, Harmony (jewelry), Hello Again (clothes), Gifted (gifts), Up Market (home decor), and Clay and Glass Gallery (art). I recommend all of the above.

4. Experience more art.
See above! I enjoyed a visit to the Clay and Glass Gallery shop while I was shopping for Christmas presents, and I watched a Laurier student string quartet performance online.

5. Play more board games.
I dusted off my old Boggle game earlier this month, and I’ve been doing crosswords in the Globe and Mail. I’ve also recently started a new puzzle (almost done it, too!)

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

I made my mom’s cake several times this year, and I’m happy to report that mine are nearly as good as hers!

7. Wear more dresses.
Yes! I have been wearing dresses…even during my work-from-home life.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.
Besides my red slippers, and my colourful glasses, I haven’t added too much colour to my wardrobe this month (or this year). I think I’m okay with this. Why force it?

9. Save money.
I have tracked my earning and spending for several months now, and I’m continuing to do so in the new year. I have things that I’d like to save up for, so I really need to continue to make a concious effort to track my money. December, I can tell you, was a heavy spending month! (And I didn’t follow any kind of budget.) Yikes!

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.
It’s on hold, but I think I may able to tackle this in 2021.

11. Eat more vegetables.
Yes, I have eaten more vegetables…mostly in the form of salads, fajitas, and soups. I made decent progress throughout the year, but there’s room for improvement.

12. Buy more fun socks.
I didn’t treat myself to any new fun socks this month. I bought some Christmas novelty socks for others though.

13. Connect people.
I connected two people earlier this month, so that was good. Another connection may happen soon, too. I’m still at it!

14. Clean closets regularly.
No progress this month, but my closets are FULL.

15. Trust my gut.
Yes. It’s still happening.

16. Get a facial.
No progress.

17. Embrace soup.
Now that I’ve got a handle on potato leek soup (yum), I embraced a new-to-me soup this month – potato broccoli cheddar. It’s quite good, and I’ll make it again.

18. Clean up my shoes.
I didn’t have any progress to make this month. Throughout the year, I do think I made progress on this task, but more can be done. And I really need to stop buying shoes because I do think I have enough to get me through until this pandemic is over!

19. Pass on my magazines.
Yes. I have done this regularly throughout the year. Yay! (My current favourite magazine subscription is Veranda, if you wanted to know!)

20. Have fun.
Yes! Even though we’re in a pandemic, I have been having quite a bit of fun (via work, Zoom and phone calls with family and friends, walks, Netflix, cooking, baking, crochet, and puzzles). I am very grateful.


And there you have it – my year of 2020 goals has come to an end. I think I’ll create a list for 2021, too. Stay tuned!

Personal: November 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, June, July, August and September. I completely forgot about October, but here is my November update (I’ve selected the items where I’ve actually made some progress).


4. Experience more art.
I took a little tour of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery this month. It was such a pleasant visit. I really should go more often.

5. Play more board games.
I played Catan a few times this month. And Nintendo. That was a great purchase I made at the beginning of the pandemic, I have to say!

9. Save money.
I’ve been tracking my spending for four months now, and I still think it’s a helpful exercise. I’m mostly keeping to my budget, too, which makes me proud.

11. Eat more vegetables.
I ate a salad nearly every day for lunch this month, and it feels like a healthy thing to continue to do.

14. Clean closets regularly.
I didn’t clean any closets, but I did clean my pantry.

17. Embrace soup.
My mom gave me some of her homemade potato leek soup, and it was so good! Today I was motivated to make a batch for myself (using this recipe), and it turned out well.

18. Clean up my shoes.
Ha! Instead of cleaning them up, I’ve opted to add a new pair of gold sneakers (can you ever have too many pairs of gold sneaks?). You know – for the one day a week I go grocery shopping…sigh.

19. Pass on my magazines.
Yes. I’m happy to continue doing this. I have to take stock of my subscriptions one of these days and decide what I’ll keep and what I’ll end.

20. Have fun.
Yes! Despite the pandemic, the new lockdown in Toronto, and the new red zone designation in the Waterloo region, I’m still managing to have fun!


And there you have it – my November update. I’ll have a full update next month, and then maybe even a new list for the new year. What do you think?

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

  1. Watch. On Disney+, I’ve recently watched Moana, Lion King (the new one), and Mandalorian. On Netflix, I’ve watched Trial of the Chicago 7, Holidate, Emily in Paris, and The Queen’s Gambit. It’s an eclectic selection, I know, but I’ve enjoyed them all!
  2. Read. I’ve been reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo for a faculty book club I joined, and Creepers by David Morrell. I’ve also been reading my usual stack of magazines. Veranda, in recent months, has become a favourite!
  3. Eat. I made this easy pulled pork recipe in the slow cooker a few weeks ago, and it was delicious. I ventured out to Kitchener’s Grand Trunk Saloon to get a taste of southern cookin’. My mom made paella when I went for dinner this week, and it was so good! Heck, fall meals are off to a good start!
  4. Do. I’ve been helping to renovate a powder room, and one of the most satisfying parts of the reno (besides painting the wood trim white…I know it’s a no-no for so many people, but it was a necessity in my honest opinion!) was polishing up the brass window hardware. Since the house was built in the 1930s, this hardware is old! I love it!
  5. Do. I watched this “how to crochet for absolute beginners” video, and I picked up crochet needles (and a ton of other crafty goods) from my mom this week. I’m ready to hunker down and get crafty! Now I just need to figure out what to crochet! Any ideas?

Personal: 20 Free and Cheap Things to do During a Pandemic

It’s about time that I compile a list of free and cheap things to do during this pandemic. The ideas have been trickling in, and with cooler temps arriving, I think now is an ideal time for a list like this.


  1. Go to the library. Do you have a library card? Great! If not, why not? It’s free! And the library has so many amazing book, video, and game options! Locally, check out the Waterloo Public Library.
  2. Read. Read a book or magazine. Listen to an audio book. Leave your reality behind and escape into another storyline.
  3. Go for a walk. I know this might seem boring to some, but it’s not. You get fresh air. You observe your surroundings. You see people (at a safe distance). Walks are great! You can explore new neighbourhoods while you’re at it, too. Locally, for easy walks, I suggest Uptown Waterloo, Waterloo park, Downtown Kitchener, Victoria Park, trails around St. Jacobs, and a drive to and walk around Elora. For trails, check out this Waterloo Region trails page.
  4. Call a friend. I think I have talked with friends and family on the phone more than I have in my whole life. Conversations pass the time and (sort of) mimic face-to-face interactions. I often call people when I’m out walking, and I love the break from texting, FaceTime, and computer work.
  5. Tune in to an online performance. Symphonies and theatres are inviting people to attend online performances. While I haven’t done so yet, this is on my to do list. The Stratford Festival, the KW Symphony, and the MET Opera have offerings listed on their websites.
  6. Take a drive. Have a change of scene. Explore some new-to-you trails.
  7. Plan an at-home spa. Make a face mask. Have a bath. Paint your nails. Take an afternoon or evening to pamper yourself.
  8. Meditate. I was meditating briefly but consistently a long while ago (it’s likely been a year), and I’m getting back into it now. I use Insight Timer which offers so many meditation options (time, type) for free. If you’re looking for alternative meditation options (at a cost), locally, the Dharma Centre offers several online meditation options; this is the organization through which I did a one-day silent retreat last September.
  9. Prepare a budget. Now (and probably always) is a great time to revisit your spending and saving habits. Prepare a budget so you know how your money flows and where you can and want to spend or save it.
  10. Live adventurously. I watched Alistair Humphreys’ video about #MicroAdventures on Swiss Miss last week, and it reminded me to try new things…which don’t have to cost a dime!


  1. Make a nice meal. Cooking or baking is a great past time, as it does exactly that – passes time. The plan, the shop, and the execution can take hours! And the best part is that you’ll get to reward yourself with a delicious meal (and leftovers). Drop off extra portions at a friend’s.
  2. Do a puzzle. I have bought puzzles from HomeSense, Indigo, and Amazon for under $25. Locally, Gifted in Waterloo and The Art of Home in Cambridge have artistic selections for around the same price point.
  3. Knit or crochet. Knitting a basic scarf or blanket isn’t too complicated. I’ve seen a kit at HomeSense for $40. It has everything you need to get started on a small blanket. Purl Soho offers a lot of free tips and instructions (as well as packages) online. Locally, I don’t have experience with crocheting, but I have heard it’s even easier and quicker to pick up than knitting.
  4. Sewing. If you don’t already have a sewing machine, then this option might be out of your price range. If you already have one, then this is a relatively cheap hobby. Locally, I get fabrics at Lens Mills. The selection is vast. Prices are competitive.
  5. Play a board game. Board games are relatively affordable and provide hours of entertainment for you and your bubble people. Monopoly is a classic option that is always fun to play. Newer in my board game rotation are Sequence and Catan. Both are very enjoyable and pose new challenges every time I play.
  6. Try a new subscription. Whether it’s a new magazine subscription, food delivery service, or a TV streaming service, trying something new could provide hours of entertainment. I added Disney+ (about $10CAD a month) to my subscriptions way back in March, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’m still making my way through the Star Wars movies, but I have also watched the full Mandalorian series (how is Baby Yoda so darn cute?), Moana, and Hamilton – all shows I would never have watched otherwise. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it forever, but for now, this service is working for me.
  7. Treat yourself. Some days are harder than others. If you want to treat yourself (retail therapy often works for me!), but are watching your budget more carefully than usual, opt for something small. A candle, a lipstick, a new shampoo, a coffee, a new book, or a new top are small options (often under $20) that could help to brighten your day (or several)! Locally, buy a book at Words Worth Books and a coffee at Seven Shores Cafe in Waterloo.
  8. Learn a language. Through online options like DuoLingo (free), italki, or language teachers offering online instruction, learning a language would be a fun way to pass time. Choose a language of a country you’d like to visit once the borders are open to travel and tourism!
  9. Try an outdoor activity. With winter coming, it might be a good idea to think about how to enjoy being outside in the cold. Buy a cross country ski set, snowshoes, or shoe grips (e.g., crampons, Yak Trax, icers). If you buy these items used or on sale, they can certainly fit in the “cheap” category.
  10. Visit another town. There are so many places to see, and a day out doesn’t mean a big expense. Grab a coffee and wander around towns who may need an extra visitor or two. Wear your mask. Pack your sanitizer. Here are some easy day trips from Kitchener-Waterloo: Stratford, Elora, Bayfield, Kincardine, London, Port Stanley, and Caledon. Small towns and small shops (everywhere) need our support!

Design: Covered Couches

In the October issue of House Beautiful magazine, two couches stood out to me because they had been treated in the same way, and I hadn’t seen this look too often before. These couches were covered with throws. And not just a throw tossed over the edge of the couch in a haphazard fashion (nothing is haphazard in styled photos), but sort of in a slip cover approach. Have a look.

I quite like this look. The throw as a semi-slipcover accomplishes several goals: (a) adds warmth, (b) adds texture, (c) adds colour, and (d) adds a layer of protection. In addition, like throw pillows, the throw cover can be changed seasonally and can be washed regularly. Given these advantages, I opted to give this look a try in my home. What do you think of these three options?




Look at how the red throw changed the colour in the room. I took these photos on a very sunny day, and the combination of the sunshine and the red throw made the room rosey! I love the red throw, and I think I’ll save this for Christmas time.

Do you like this look? Would you try it in your own home?

Personal: September 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, June, July. and August. Here are the updates of what I have been doing during the month of September, if you’d like to know.


1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.
No progress.

2. Travel.
I traveled to Blyth, Ontario for the first time in my life to enjoy a meal at Cowbell Brewing Co.

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

4. Experience more art.
I went to the Main Street Gallery in Bayfield, Ontario, and I finally treated myself to a bowl by ceramist Jennifer Graham.

5. Play more board games.
Board games, no. Nintendo, yes. Classic Nintendo. Wii. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Nintendo systems this month!

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.


7. Wear more dresses.
Yes! Done!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.
Do these red slippers count?

9. Save money.
I’m on month two of using a budget and tracking my spending. It’s an interesting exercise, and I (sort of) think it’s helping me save money.

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

11. Eat more vegetables.
Most of my veggie intake this month has been via fajita and taco nights. A few tomatoes here and there count, yes? I haven’t had a salad in a long while. Terrible, I know!

12. Buy more fun socks.
No progress.

13. Connect people.
I gave a few recommendations to a friend who has recently moved to Waterloo.

14. Clean closets regularly.
No progress. I watched Get Organized with The Home Edit, which makes me want to clean every closet in my house.

15. Trust my gut.
Yes. It’s still happening.

16. Get a facial.
No progress.

17. Embrace soup.
No progress. I might try a few of these soup recipes now that colder weather is here.

18. Clean up my shoes.
No progress. I have a closet full of shoes that aren’t being used during these #WorkingFromHome days. All summer, I rotated between my gold Birkenstocks and my Hoka runners. Now that it’s fall, I’ll switch to my gold Adidas sneakers.

19. Pass on my magazines.
Yes. I’m happy to continue doing this.

20. Have fun.
Yes! This is still an important goal that guides me through all of the above goals, too!


And there you have it – my September update. Thanks for reading!

Personal: Things on My Mind

1.Netflix. I have watched a lot of Netflix these last few weeks. Here’s what I’ve watched (and recommend):

The Social Dilemma. This documentary gave an interesting look into social media, its roots, uses, and impact. Like other viewers, it made me want to delete everything and monitor more closely what I do online. That said, I haven’t yet deleted Twitter or Instagram. So…

The Duchess. I laughed throughout every episode of this show. And the fashion is fun to watch, too.

Cobra Kai (season 1), The Karate Kid (with Jaden Smith), The Karate Kid (original). My arm was sort of twisted to start watching Cobra Kai. I liked it, so then it was all-karate-all-the-time. Cobra Kai season 1 was good. Season 2 was was a bit too teen drama for my liking. Surprisingly, I really liked the new Karate Kid movie with Jaden Smith. And, I can’t believe I had never watched the original Karate Kid. Wax on. Wax off. Quite good!

Venom. I thought I was going to hate this one as I’m not so into alien movies, but I liked the acting, music, plot, and special effects, so it was a win.


2. Shopping. I really don’t like adding more reusable bags to my already big collection, but I couldn’t resist the vibrant print of this Baggu bag on a recent trip to Indigo.


3. Learn. I’m not starting another degree (but never say never), but I did want to take a biology (focus on plants) course this year. Considering I started a new job, I’ve put this on hold for now. Instead, however, I’ve settled on attending online lectures on architecture hosted by Athabasca University. The first lecture I attended was focused on architecture in South Africa, and the second was focused on architecture in Africa. Both lectures were fantastic. I think I’ll share some of what I learned in an upcoming post.


4. News. Obviously, the pandemic is still top of mind. This article about the University of Illinois’s massive COVID-19 testing initiative was interesting, and it demonstrates that testing isn’t enough. Stay at a distance. Wear a mask. Closer to home, cases at universities have been reported, and increasing case numbers makes me nervous.


5. Hobbies. It’s usually about this time of year when I start signing up for a whack of new activities. Last year, I opted into flamenco dancing and cross country skiing lessons, for example. This year, I’m hesitant to join anything (on account of the pandemic), so I’ve been thinking what non-group activities I can do as the fall and winter come. Here’s what I’ve come up with: puzzles, jogging, cross-country skiing, and sewing. I’ve made slight progress on three of these things already. Any other suggestions?


6.Charity. On Sunday, October 4th, I will be jogging in the CIBC Run for the Cure. You may remember that I’ve been doing this for several years now in Kitchener-Waterloo. This year, the event has gone virtual, which means I’ll be running alone (or with anyone I see wearing pink running in my neighbourhood). It’ll be a different experience, but the cause remains the same. I hope that even more money is raised this year to support needed research and support for the Canadian Cancer Society. If you’d like to donate to the cause, please do so here. I appreciate your support!

Personal: August 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, June., and July. Here are the updates of what I have been doing during the month of August, if you’d like to know.


1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.
Although my birthday has come and gone, I am still working on my list. This month, I crossed two more movies off my “must watch” list: Fargo and Gosford Park.

2. Travel.
July was quite a busy month of travel-during-a-pandemic (Ottawa and Langdon Hall), so I stayed close to home in August. I love my home, and the weather was amazing in August, so no complaints on my end about the lack of travel!

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

4. Experience more art.
I went to campus a couple of weeks ago, and I was so pleased to see some outdoor art by Jemima Wyman.

5. Play more board games.
No progress.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.


7. Wear more dresses.
Yes! Done!

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.
Yes, I’m trying! And this reminds me that I haven’t posted an outfit photo on Instagram since June!

9. Save money.
I created a budget for August and updated my spreadsheet regularly. It’s accurate, and I liked seeing where my money was flowing. I’m going to do this again in September.

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

11. Eat more vegetables.
Yes. With summer veggie season here, it’s been easy! My favourites are grilled zucchini and caprese salad (or any variation of tomato and chesee).

12. Buy more fun socks.
I bought fun socks for other people this month. Does this count? Honestly, my sock drawer is full, and I’ve gone sockless for months. I don’t think I need any more!

13. Connect people.
No progress this month.

14. Clean closets regularly.
No progress. I think my closets are in decent shape at the moment. That said, my shoe closet could always use some work. Who wears shoes anymore?

15. Trust my gut.
Yes. Yes.

16. Get a facial.
No progress.

17. Embrace soup.
No progress.

18. Clean up my shoes.
I did this in previous months, but I think I could do it again now that I know I won’t be wearing so many shoes this fall (#WorkingFromHome).

19. Pass on my magazines.
Yes. I’ve been passing on magazines (and books) as I finish them.

20. Have fun.
Yes. Yes. I’m still at it!


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

Personal: Preparing for Round 2

Is it too early to think about a second lockdown during this pandemic? With numbers rising in places around the world, and the return back to school closer to home, I don’t think it’s too early to have “wave 2” on our minds.

Although living in a pandemic at any time is just plain terrible, living through it in the summer has been mostly manageable for me. Sunny days mean that I can spend time walking and biking outside. I have a little garden to tend to. I can talk to neighbours and friends at a distance on my driveway. There’s some normalcy. (And, yes, I have sad days, too. Those are the perfect days for Netflix binges.)

The arrival of cold months and another potential lockdown, however, is making me think about how the heck I’m going to get through it. I hate winter to begin with. Socializing with friends outside is going to be non-existent. No more backyard meet-ups at a distance. Considering the arrival of colder temperatures and another lockdown, I’m now thinking about what I’m going to do to stay busy and mentally (and physically) healthy.

Here are things that I’m considering:

  1. Work. Work will keep me busy. Yes. Very. Maybe I’ll write more.
  2. Quilting. I’m thinking about trying something new. I regularly try new things (last year I took flamenco dance lessons, remember?). If I’m not able to leave my house, I thought I’d have to try something new at home. Quilting has been on my mind for many years ever since I saw the work of Toronto quilter Lindsay Stead. Her quilts are graphic and modern and lovely! I’ve been reading up on quilting and Purl Soho has been a useful resource.
  3. Puzzling. I think I’ll continue to puzzle. A new one is on its way from Ravensburger. I’ve seen some modern puzzle designs at HomeSense and Indigo.
  4. Cooking. Yes, I guess I’ll continue on the cooking train. Might as well continue to carbo load and make some comfort food.
  5. Cross-country skiing. Last year, I took cross-country ski lessons. I went out 3-5 times in total. I have all the gear. If lockdown part 2 comes, I can get in some more cross-country ski practice. I might even be able to do this with friends at a distance. It could be an ideal way to socialize and exercise simultaneously. Maybe.
  6. Reading. This is always a good option. Although I have a ton of unread books in my house already, I may use time now to look out for good books to add to my collection. Audio books (and e-books) from the library are always a great option, too, if libraries and bookstores shut down again.

Things that I might consider investing in:

  1. A deep freezer. Hey, why not?
  2. A Kindle or Kobo or some other reading device. This would make e-book borrowing from the library a breeze!
  3. Toilet paper. You can never have too much!
  4. Shelving for my storage room. This would make stocking up on food much more organized!
  5. Flour & yeast. We all remember what happened in March 2020, right?
  6. Cleaning supplies. Being at home 24/7 means that my house gets messier than ever before. More at-home time means more cleaning time!

I really, really, really hope a second lockdown doesn’t come our way. But since we’ve been through one, the second time around should be easier. Right?!

Personal: Reflections on Life in the Age of COVID-19 – Part 2

On April 22, 2020, I wrote this reflective post on life in the age of COVID-19. At that time, news of COVID-19 had been around for more than two months. The January news of the China outbreak surprised a lot of us. And when it moved to Italy in February, it hit closer to home (for my family at least). By March, the disease had spread to Canada, and by mid-March, the world around me completely changed. As of March 17th, I was working from home, navigating the online teaching and learning environment, and training and managing a team of undergraduate and graduate students. The days passed quickly.

By the time I wrote my mid-April post, I had lived the WFH (Working From Home) life for a month. It’s now mid-August, and I want to write about what has been going through my mind since my April reflection.


Well, I started a new job! It’s been really quite exciting even if I haven’t met any of my colleagues in person or stepped into my new office. Heck, I don’t even know where my office is, and even if I did, I don’t yet have an access card to get into any buildings on campus. In the pandemic era, some processes are slow going. Others, however, are absolutely normal. I regularly meet with colleagues online. I’ve attended committee meetings, info sessions, and new faculty orientation workshops. Course prep is in full swing for online teaching this fall. The work continues. I have found that people around campus (wherever they may be Zooming in from) are helpful and generally seem more patient than usual. My mind is getting exercise, and I’m actually quite pumped for September (one of my favourite times of the year!).

I also just wrapped up teaching my final course at my previous institution. It was all online (May to August), and it worked out well. Student participation was high, guest speakers joined with ease, and I enjoyed the topics that we were able to learn about over the 12-week course. My students’ presentations were all COVID-19 related (they’re economics students), and they explored so many economic perspectives/impacts of the pandemic (real estate, job market, retail spending, education, sports). It was fascinating, in fact! Teaching online worked out just fine for me, and I found it less mentally draining than in-person teaching. The end of this course made me sad, however, because it was such a big part of my work at my previous institution. I developed the course from scratch and taught hundreds of students over the last several years, so I was sad that it ended. I’ll be teaching different courses now, but maybe I will revisit the possibility of teaching a similar course in the future.

So…as far as work goes, I continue to be so so so grateful. I am fortunate to do the work that I do. Yes, the work environment has changed, but this has forced me to learn and try new things. My brain is active!


I spent much of the first few months of the pandemic alone or with my beau. Those months were filled with weekly Zoom calls or distanced porch chats with family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. Even though my face-to-face social circle was non-existent, I felt quite social. And it felt sort of normal. Sort of. I also love my alone time, so I embraced days when I didn’t “see” anyone.

In May, I made a surprise visit to my parents’ house for Mother’s Day. I wasn’t sure they would let me in the house, but they did. 🙂 That had been the first time I had seen them in person since February, and it felt good. I think this short visit gave us all a break and a change of pace at the time. There were no hugs (weird) or kiss-kisses (double cheeks, Italian way), but we chatted, yelled, interrupted, laughed, and ate…all the things that we love to do!

As Ontario started to open up, I started socializing regularly in my backyard (at a distance) and in cottage country. Outdoor patio visits with groups of less than 10 people positioned at a distance became the norm. I served up Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer at every gathering. My friends seemed to get used to me taking sanitizer breaks and spraying their hands. Of course it was weird, but it was good, too. My face-to-face social circle grew, and it felt so good to see people in real life!

By July, Waterloo (where I live) had hit the Stage 3 mark of opening, which made me extra happy because it was my birthday month! So, I got to have a birthday with friends and family, and it was fun and special and just about normal! I loved the day I spent floating down The Grand River, having a pizza party, and eating my mom’s delicious gnocchi. There was cake, too! I also escaped to Langdon Hall for a luxurious 2-night birthday getaway. I felt spoiled and lucky!

Friends remain distanced at gatherings, and hugs are minimal or non-existent (still weird). If a second wave does come this fall, outdoor social time is going to be difficult. Maybe it’s time to invest in outdoor heat lamps?

Beyond social time, there has been SO much to celebrate for my family and friends – milestone birthdays, pregnancies, births, jobs! In the midst of a pandemic, there has been so much joy to share. These moments have been amazing!


In general, my mental state has been okay. Work has helped me to stay happy and so has social time (online or in real life). For the first few months, I grocery shopped once (or maybe twice) a month. I really hated it. Now, it’s okay. I am in and out of grocery stores as quickly as possible, and I only go when I have to (about once a week, I’d say). I don’t like touching things. I still wash just about everything that comes into my house before I put things away. I’m not sure if this is needed, but I still do it. I follow the arrows in the store to avoid colliding with other people, and it annoys me when other people don’t follow them. I smile at people as I pass them, and I have a little chat with the cashier on my way out. It’s a fine experience, but I don’t love it.

When I walk around Uptown Waterloo, I am reminded of my trip to Japan. We may find it odd to wear masks now, but the Japanese had been wearing masks for a long while pre-COVID-19. On my trip there last April, masks were the norm. I even brought some mint-scented masks back for my Dad, and now I wish I had bought more while I was there because the selection was so diverse. It is now more normal to see people in masks here, and you can’t enter stores without wearing one. The initial weirdness of wearing a mask has just about worn off (but I’m still trying to manage the eyeglasses fogging up part of it).

Sad days come, too, naturally, especially when I think about the state of the world, the unfortunate circumstances that I see in my own city, and the troubles family and friends are going through (childcare, work, schooling decisions – so hard!). I try to stay positive, looks for things that I can change or control, and stay in touch with friends to share some happy stories and laughs to get us through tougher days. At the moment, I have a video of my niece belting out a song from Hamilton that instantly puts a smile on my face. It’s a great video to go back to when I need a laugh.

Although Waterloo (and Ontario) are slowly returning back to normal, I do think it’s wise to proceed with caution because the future remains unknown. In Italy, reports are showing a jump in the number of cases. And Auckland, New Zealand is now in a 3-day lockdown after a new COVID-19 discovery (after a 100-day period of COVID-19 free). Things can change in an instant. Just like they did in March.


The Food Bank remains a good place to send funds now and always. The Region of Waterloo has additional suggestions for ways to help. If you’re not in the region, I encourage you to look at your government’s website to discover organizations in need.

If you’re not able to provide financial support, other acts of kindness go a long way. Kindness, patience, and conversation are always appreciated.

Be well, everyone!

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.


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.


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.


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.).


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.


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!


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!).


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!

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