He's kind of a big deal

{Cheers!} to the newest member of the 30s club

Justin
This photo was taken at my big party last summer and then made into a life-sized cardboard cutout for last night's party. NBD.

Last night, we joined about 50 other people in surprising Justin for his 30th birthday. We dressed up in as much gold and silver as we could find, and spent the evening enjoying the homemade delicacies prepared by Coastal Coffee Company‘s Ben and Bree Gingerich (I’m SOOO glad my Whole30 break fell on this weekend!).

Party food extraordinaire
Party food extraordinaire (Yep, I took a diet break... more on that soon)

30 is a bit of a turning point in life, I think, so you might as well do it in style. Justin and his wife Hayley (the mastermind) did not disappoint.

My pictures do, however, disappoint. My apologies.

All I can give you is a tiny glimpse into what was really a great party. A night full of catching up with old friends, solidifying acquaintances, and making new connections. A chance to enjoy some fabulous culinary and decor skills. An opportunity to admire the cocktail outfits we never get to see on our friends.

Party animal wannabes
Party animal wannabes

And a time for me to forget the zombie that the next two weeks will make of me as I slog through four papers due within 5 days of each other (Yes, feel bad, it’s gonna be hell).

Meanwhile, today is the last day of my “break” before starting another Whole30, and I have pretty much fallen off the wagon. Either that or I’m testing my body’s tolerance for eating things I used to love, to see whether I still do love them, and whether I think I can live without them. The jury is still out, but perhaps after tonight’s as-healthy-as-I-can-manage-while-still-including-flour-and-cheese pizza, I’ll know better.

TTFN.

He's kind of a big deal

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I DID IT!! I MADE IT TO DAY 30!

I DID IT!!! I MADE IT TO DAY 30!

I made it! I actually did a Whole30 without cheating! Yes, folks: no grains of any kind, no dairy of any kind, no sugar/sweetener of any kind, no legumes, no preservatives, no additives…!

This is kind of a big deal for a bread, cheese, chocolate, and wine lover.

It’s not over: After some celebratory eating this weekend, I will continue on to do another Whole30 (I’ll need another badge for my site, I guess…) to really kick my bad eating habits.

New house!

It’s official: The Search is OVER!!

New house!
This is the only picture we have right now... meet our new home!

Yup, you heard me. Johnathan and I are no longer searching for apartments. WE FOUND ONE!!!

John told me when we started this process that most people look at eight to ten places before finding the right one. We thought number four was it. Then I thought number six was it. But really, it was number nine. Go figure.

Our future new little place (it’s ours as of May 1st) is a whole house! It has three small bedrooms with closets, a private fenced-in backyard, a renovated kitchen and bathroom, new windows, nine-foot ceilings with fabulous original trim around the windows and doors, a full finished basement, lots of cupboard space, enough space to squeeze in four cars (Hey, we each have winter and summer cars. Don’t judge us. Or maybe judge Johnathan. He has two summer cars and a motorcycle on the road. And a couple more vehicles in a barn waiting to be restored, and… you get it.), and character!

When I posted my Adventures in Apartment-Hunting post last week, we had been recently disappointed with the loss of number four. Then I got excited about number six, but Johnathan knew there was something better out there. He kept up the vigorous Kijiji (and Padmapper.com, thanks, Michelle!) search, having me call places to make appointments for when he was done his work day.

John had to pull off the road to call me after he went through what will be our new place. This from a man who was already on his way to my house, and who doesn’t like to make phone calls. This was an excited man.

He’s also a considerate man: instead of telling them he’d take it on the spot, he told them he had to make sure I’d like it, too, and that he would bring me with him first thing the next morning. True to his word, we were there at 9:00. AM. On a Saturday morning. It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes to drive from my place to our new place. Plus shower time. ::yawn::

new house, other side
Imagine this with our vehicles and without the canopy over the door...

But it was totally worth it. That man also has good taste. It has everything we need. Well, except a dishwasher. But we WILL find some way around that, or I don’t know Johnathan at all!

The only thing that matters now is that we know where we’re going to land. Our patience and hard work have paid off, and we are no longer slaves to Kijiji!

PS: It’s in London. We’re moving to London. Not sure how I overlooked that fact when I first posted this. Oops!

Curious kitty

{Cheers!} Thanks for the company, Sophie!

(You may or may not have noticed that my Sunday series is no longer called Celebration but Cheers! There was something about Celebration that was a bit cheesy. Sorry about that. I still want to celebrate things… things that make me want to raise my proverbial glass. Cheers!)

 

Sophie is the cutest, cuddliest house guest a girl could ever ask for.

She has striking greenish gold eyes, loves to play, gets a little crazy every morning and evening, and leaves tiny soft hairs everywhere she goes.

Curious kitty
Curious kitty

Yes, Sophie is a cat.

For the second year in a row, I got to cat-sit Miss Sophie while Johnathan’s parents went away over March Break. Last year, since Johnathan was away for three months, they let me keep Soph for several weeks! They kinda like me.

Who, me?
Who, me?

She was only with me for two weeks this year, but it was fun. There’s really nothing like having a creature follow you around, looking for opportunities for some lovin’. Her favourite spot was the bathroom. Every time I’d sit on the toilet, she’d pad her way to the toilet to nuzzle my leg until I’d pet her. If I didn’t, she’d lift her front two paws to my thigh and come close to digging in her claws. Until I gave her the look.

I spotted movement!
I spotted movement!

She has spent enough time with me to know the look. It’s the signal for “You’re digging into my leg!” and “Stop scratching up that good piece of furniture!” and “What are you doing on my dresser?” Usually, it’s accompanied with a “HEY!” and a clap. If she’s done something sufficiently naughty, the water spritzer comes out. That’s when she knows she’s in BIG trouble.

Multi-tasking: cat-cuddling and studying
Multi-tasking: cat-cuddling and studying

My feline house guest went home yesterday. No doubt “mommy” and “daddy” missed her. I know I will. She caught flies. She broke the silence of long hours of studying. She cozied up behind my knees when I slept, or right up beside my pillow.

If only...
If only...

Someday, I’ll get my own cat… a grey tabby just like Sophie.

Johnathan got a job!!!!!!

I know that multiple exclamation marks are redundant and annoying, but I needed some way of conveying my excitement.

Johnathan has been looking for a job for what seems like FOREVER.

By forever, I mean several months. I mean many, many resumés. I mean tons of applications. I mean two interviews a week sometimes. I mean, head-scratching, doubt-enducing, desperation-germinating, carb-inhaling, caffeine-addiction-building months!

When you know that someone is smart and fully qualified and appropriately experienced, yet they are still not hired for so long, you start wondering if there is something really wrong with their resumé that they haven’t realized. Something worthy of a “Damn you, Auto Correct!” moment, perhaps.

Imagine our relief when there was a sudden surge in interview requests, and then, at long last, a job offer! (I really want to type a hundred exclamation points here…)

John starts tomorrow. Mechanical engineering technologist, back in the game!

I guess he didn’t have any unfortunate typos in his resumé after all. Either that or he did, and he’s gotten himself into something that is not what it seems… awkward!

Either way, all that desperation and doubt has hit the curb, and we’re off on another adventure.

McCafe $1 off

Gratitude á la First World

McCafe $1 off
This is not a promo. I repeat, this is not a promo.

I am grateful for being a Canadian, a citizen of a country where I am free to do so many things people of other countries cannot.

I am grateful for OSAP, which makes it possible for me to go to university, even though I will have debt after I graduate.

I am grateful for the technology which allows me to communicate with family and friends far and wide.

I am grateful for the chance to have a voice about things that matter, should I so choose to take it.

I am grateful for Tax-Free Savings Accounts.

I am grateful for nieces.

I am grateful for cousins.

I am grateful for freedom of speech, even though I have recently learned few things are as democratic as they sound.

I am grateful for good old-fashioned bacon and eggs.

I am grateful to be from a rural, agricultural area: farmers truly do feed cities.

I am grateful to know many truly talented people, and to be able to celebrate them in their successes.

I am grateful to have friends on at least 4 continents.

I am grateful for friends that I can have deep, thoughtful conversations with.

I am grateful for the knowledge that I will never run out of books to read.

I am grateful for the many resources I have to help me be healthy.

I am grateful for McDonald’s’ $1-off McCafe days, in competition with Tim Horton’s Roll-up-the-Rim, especially since, believe it or not, McD’s is currently the best place to go to study in my hometown!

BFF

Celebrations: Birthdays and Best Friends

I know that I’ve been posting “Celebration” posts on Sundays, but sometimes there’s a good reason to switch it up.

BFF
Us a year ago, celebrating Gina's birthday

A best friend is a good reason.

Today, my bestie has a birthday. I’d tell you how old she’s turning, but it’s impolite to discuss a lady’s age.

I met Gina when we were 19. I won’t tell you how long ago that was…. but it wasn’t recently.

We were bunk mates in a fifth-floor room of a concrete building in Monterrey Mexico, participants in a missions training course with YWAM. Unfortunately for Gina, I was on the top bunk. I had a penchant for snacking late at night, and putting hard objects (books and picture frames) under my pillow. Gina would wake up to find crumbs and my boyfriend’s face on her pillow. Sorry, G!

The following year, we found ourselves roommates in a nearby apartment. That was probably where our friendship was forged, over taxi rides and grocery-shopping and quesadilla-making. We took those quesadillas with us when we left Mexico. I introduced them to my family, and then my boyfriend, and then his family. Sometime after my strict no-grains, no-cheese, no-beans diet, I hope to introduce them to my boyfriend’s friends, too. My siblings ask for them for their birthday dinners sometimes. Mmmm, melted cheddar and refried beans with salsa in a toasted tortilla!

(Side note: I just had to add “quesadilla” to my WordPress dictionary. Shame.)

We were in Mexico together for about four and a half years, one or two of those years of which she was my boss. And my best friend. Not the easiest relationship, but we made it through. We experienced a lot of life together: traveling through Mexico and the USA several times, gained and lost love, soul-searching, uncertainty, victory. We translated, drove vans, hiked through mud, did skits in the rain, played with kids, cooked, cleaned, sang, and so much more.

Friends
One of our birthday gatherings last year

Then, I moved home and then to Hawaii to work on a different project with the same organization, and then home again. She stayed in Mexico for a while, then moved to Maryland.

Every year, we try to get together at least once. Last year we were lucky enough to see each other three times! Each time, it’s as if no time has passed. We spend hours talking about our days in Mexico, reminiscing and catching up on the latest gossip about our former co-workers.

This time last year, another friend and I surprised her by showing up at a work lunch in Maryland. I wish I could be there this today, but G, you’ll just have to accept this blog as a birthday gift instead.

Happy birthday, Gina! Here’s to many more years of happiness and friendship. I love you!

Family Day Weekend means time spent with family, away from the computer

This weekend, I’m away from my computer, if you can believe it. It very rarely happens, and I didn’t intend for it to happen this weekend, but it did (I’m using the WordPress app on my phone right now).

And I’m glad.

This is Family Day weekend in Ontario, a relatively new long weekend in February. I have no idea why we needed another long weekend in the year, but here we are.

Funny thing is, every Family Day Weekend for me ends up being about, get this, family!!

Most of this weekend has been spent with my boyfriend’s family, and my family is hanging out tomorrow, on the actual day.

So, I apologize for neglecting to provide you with new, entertaining, informative, or thoughtful reading material today. But I don’t regret choosing my family over my blog.

Enjoy your family holiday, if it’s a holiday for you. Either way, I’ll be back on Tuesday. Cheers!

Celebration: Why I’m a Lucky Girl

(In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, my weekly Celebration post is about love… ::collective aw::)

It’s been a long time since I dedicated a whole blog to Johnathan. In fact, it’s been since I called him the Mystery Man. Way too long.

Our first date, October 09
Our first date, October 09

I guess there are a few reasons for that, not the least of which is the fact that I didn’t blog a whole lot during those formative weeks and months, and now it’s been, like, forever!

We’ve been together for almost two and a half years now. Whoa. Feels like forever. I counted months the first year, and after that I stopped counting and the months started flying by.

Now we’re kind of old news. But still good news.

The newness has worn off, but now there’s a depth that is very valuable. A depth that means we can be kinda mean to each other and know that we won’t get dumped because of it.

In all those years of pining for a man, I don’t think I realized what a committed relationship was really like. I didn’t realize that you could get to a place where you felt comfortable enough to let all your neuroses hang out… and then be forced to face up to them when your partner calls you out about them. Turns out I have a lot of neuroses.

I also didn’t realize that there were men like Johnathan: dedicated, caring, through-and-through honest, and honourable. He’s also a fanTAStic gift-giver who can blow my mind with his creative surprises. He likes to tease me mercilessly, which drives me crazy, and I often don’t catch on before I get indignant, but it is fun when we have a tease-off, usually when other people are around to watch how ridiculous we can get.

Birthday surprise 2011
Possibly the biggest birthday surprise ever! (2011)

Despite my neuroses and his teasing, I trust Johnathan implicitly. I love his family. I love his passion for old cars. I love him!

I’m a lucky girl.