Monday, November 30, 2015

Mexico Souvenirs!

I was hoping to get this post up earlier- but unfortunately two of my most annoying souvenirs were a bad cold and a neck ache that lead to tension headaches every evening. So I have not been a pleasant person in the evenings for the past little while. But thanks to a lot of cold medication, a chiropractic adjustment and a massage, I am feeling much better! So onto some nicer souvenirs!

One of my favourite parts about visiting Mexico City is going to the market and buying all the pretty pottery I can lay my hands on! This time I actually just bought a lot of things for me (yay!), but I did get a few nice plant pots and some goodies for the family.

The first thing I wanted to get was a new spoon rest. I had gotten one last time I was in Mexico City, but it was the sole victim of a box tipping incident when I moved last year. So I got this new one! I have no idea if this actually is the one I picked out, as Veronica bought 3-4 herself and they were all wrapped, so I just picked a mystery one from the pile. Thankfully, I really like the colours of it!

At that same store I picked up a little hand soap dispenser for the kitchen. Totally wasn't on my list, but it was so pretty I couldn't pass it up!

Lastly, I really wanted to get a nice plant pot for myself! Olga and I ventured to a pottery store in her neighbourhood and I found this gorgeous bad boy. I love the round shape and the bright colours. Mexican pottery tends to be either these bright fiesta colours or blue/white. The blue patterned stuff is gorgeous, but I have a soft spot in my heart for bright, fun colours so that is what I brought home.

I still have to find a good plant for it. The plant lady at work made me some cuttings of a vine type plant, so I am trying to see if I can get that to grow some roots and then I will transplant it into this pot!

So there you go- 3 new things for my condo from Mexico! I also got myself some new pillow cases from Zara Home (it was a big sale weekend while we were there), and I got Cam a set of traditional leather maracas and some Mexican candy. I think a lot of the candy has disappeared :).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mexico City Trip!

Way back in 2012 my friend Veronica and I visited our mutual friend Olga in Mexico City and then in early 2013 we had a quick rendezvous in Chicago with Olga again. However we hadn't seen her once since then, which is a shame because she is awesome! So we made it our mission to get down to Mexico city again and finally made it down for a very extended long weekend last week!
Veronica, Myself, and Olga- Reunited!

We flew in the Thursday evening, arriving in the middle of the night, and then flew out the following Wednesday afternoon, so it was a brief, but very good trip! Now, Veronica and I had been down for 15 days last time and definitely visited every single tourist site imaginable during that time- so our only goals this weekend were to do some shopping in the local markets and to go salsa dancing!

We stayed with Olga, her sister Anna, and Olga's daughter Sofia (and their dog Tyson and cat Cooper) in a cute little apartment with an amazing terrace in a very nice area of the city called Polanco. It was very central to many shops and restaurants so lots of walking occurred over the weekend, which nicely balanced the wine and tacos :)

Saturday was our big day- we went out for brunch, then went to the markets where Veronica and I bought our weight in pottery and souvenirs, and then that evening we met a couple of Olga and Anna's friends for dinner and dancing. We went to a club where we danced until after 4 am!!! We had drunk these espresso/liquor drinks called carajillos before going there, so I have to blame those. We also got some street tacos on the way home so bed didn't happen until 5am! After that the weekend was super low-key. We did some shopping, hit up some more pottery stores, and basically caught up with each other- there really are only so many stories you can tell over email :)

I was super sad to fly back to Canada (it was so warm our last couple days there!) and I am already hoping I can make it down for another extended long weekend in 2016. For now I will share some photos!!

Olga, Keith, Anna, Nikki, Veronica at Mama Rumba Salsa Club

Salsa dancing!
Cooper the cat
Mall all decked out for Christmas
Veronica stocking up on pottery
Shopping in the market

Fun in the market
Taking Tyson for a walk in the park
4:30am street tacos

Tyson on the terrace

I caught a nasty cold in Mexico so I will be back later to share all the cute things I picked up for the condo while down there! That mexican pottery gets me every time...

PS- if you want to learn more about things to do and see in Mexico City (it is a great city!), then check out my 2012 visit in posts HERE, HERE, and HERE

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oops I Did It Again...

Signed up for a race, gonna run more terrain
Oh baby, baby
Oops you think I would laugh
That I'd stick to that ha-a-a-a-lf


Yup. I have officially entered crazy land and signed up for a full marathon on May 1 2016. 42.2 Km (26.2 Miles) of running my buns off, all for the sake of a hunk of metal and bragging rights for the rest of my life. :)

I always wanted to run a marathon, and the success of my half marathon training and race made me realize it was entirely possible if I just trained for it. I debated whether to sign up for the spring or fall marathons (Toronto has both), but in the end I decided on the spring for a few reasons:
1. It is just before my 30th birthday so I thought it would be a good way to kick off the next decade of my life
2. Training in the summer was long and hot and took up a lot of my "beers on the patio" time. That being said, I have never run in winter, and I know that winter training will be a whole 'nother ballgame. I need to figure out lighting, ice, snow, safety, and just plain keeping warm. I do have access to a treadmill for terrible weather too, but I am hoping not to use it because it is super boring and too warm in the gym for running.
3. I am super impatient!

Honestly, #3 is pretty important. I personally find it very hard to stick to exercising without an end goal, so signing up for a May race will keep me running for the next 6 months! I already drew up a plan which has me running various distances 3 days a week, and strength training 1-2 days a week. Then in mid-January I officially start marathon training! I am following RunKeeper's Beginner Marathon plan, since their half plan did me so well.

I don't really have a time goal in mind, but I think somewhere just north of 4 hours might be do-able. The full is completely different from the half so I really have no idea how I will do over such a long distance. I will hopefully get an idea when I am further into training!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Tell Me When You're Having a Bad Hair Day

I haven't written about my Alopecia (hair loss for those who don't know) in forever, but I was inspired to recently after joining a Reddit group on Alopecia and remembering why I don't like the so-called support groups. I do like reading about new research and talking treatment options with others, just not the support suggestions. Recently I found some articles on what not to say to someone with Alopecia. I just sighed. I get that everyone deals with a disease differently and for some people, their Alopecia is a huge cause of anxiety. But I really hate these things! So here are things you are apparently not supposed to say to me (and reasons why it's OK to).

1. I wish I could wear a wig!
I have been told this one before. You know why? Because my hair ON POINT some days. A couple weeks ago Cam's cousin was telling me my hair had so much body and looked like a wig (as a total compliment- it is hard to explain). She was talking about how on Oprah all these people with amazing hair confessed they were wigs. She asked me what my secret was. I died. And then I told her.

Honestly, I don't mind wearing a wig. Maybe it is because I am used it? Kind of how you don't think about that fact that you are wearing shoes, or underwear, or a ring or something. You get used to how it feels and that is "normal" to you. Of course having hair might be easier at times, but that isn't an option for me so it isn't something I generally think about.

2. I'm jealous of how fast it takes you to get ready
You should be. I only have to wash/style my hair every week or so. When my friend got married a few years ago I did my hair the night before and got to chillax the next morning while the other girls scrambled with straighteners and curling irons.

On the other hand, I do have to put on false eyebrows and eyelashes every morning, but I am actually SUPER fast at false eyelashes now. Takes me under a minute. THAT you should be jealous of!

3. It'll grow back, right?
What? Are you my doctor? Because even he doesn't know. I have never once had a person assume my hair would grow back. I have had people ASK if it will, which is a perfectly normal question and I encourage questions so people can learn about Alopecia. No biggie! Ask me anything!

4. My friend tried ______ and his/her hair grew back
I appreciate when a friend tells me about something they have heard of that may help. Of course, 99% of the time I have already heard the theory and then we have an interesting discussion on whether I would like to have my hair grow back or stop eating bread (yes, evil gluten has been pointed at as the culprit in some cases, but man do I love bread...). All I am saying is this really doesn't bother me and really doesn't come up much. Actually, most people who have Alopecian friends (I think I just made myself a race), say their friend's hair growth is completely unpredictable like mine.

5. It's only hair
WTF? Do people have really bitchy friends? That's a weird thing to say to someone. It IS only hair, and I am lucky enough to be able to understand that and be okay with that, but that is not a nice kind of thing to say to anyone who is upset about something (hair or otherwise).

6. Do you have cancer/shave your head?
This is a weird one, but I am trying to include things that people say that are well-meaning and I have gotten this one quite a bit in my life. I just chalk it up to people being curious and I explain Alopecia to them (and then I also kind of wish I could explain that cancer itself doesn't make you lose your hair, but I only have so much time in my life). I just wish instead of assuming what is wrong with me, people would just ask what they are thinking- "why are you bald?". But again, I know they aren't being malicious so I don't take offense to their question.

7. Let me rub your head for good luck!
If you are my friend, go for it. Free head massages! But if this actually worked I would probably be rolling in cash.

If I don't know you, you probably should take an etiquette class.

8. I'm having a bad hair day
I see this one touted a LOT as something to avoid saying around an Alopecian (I am totally making this a word). Let me be clear- YOU ARE TOTALLY ALLOWED TO HAVE BAD HAIR DAYS. And you can tell me about them! And I will laugh at your ugly hair as I stroke my on point wig that I haven't washed in weeks (just kidding).

I don't think my not having hair invalidates your feelings towards your own hair. In fact, some days my wig is being all cray and I too am having a bad hair day. And some days my pants won't do up and I complain to a friend who perhaps weighs more than me. Other times I am sore after a workout and I may commiserate with a friend who broke their leg. My point is, all of our bodies are different and they all have good parts and bad parts and we like to discuss those things with our friends because our friends are supposed to support us, regardless of their own insecurities. I don't think my lack of hair should make you treat me any differently.

I do want to add in here that some people ARE really sensitive about their hair loss, and you as a friend SHOULD know that and be sensitive to that fact that discussing your own hair may upset them. All I am saying is that this rule does not apply to everyone experiencing hair loss.

So here is MY list of what not to say to a person with Alopecia:
1. Anything that is YOUR OWN unsolicited opinion on how he/she should feel/act
2. Anything that tries to invalidate his/her own feelings
3. Anything that is unsupportive/bitchy/mean-spirited etc

Oh wait...that is a list of how all friends should treat each other, regardless of Alopecia or any other disease!

My alopecia is simply a part of who I am after all these years. Like how some people have brown hair, or freckles, or webbed toes- bald is just a description of one facet of me. Thankfully (due to my wonderful family and friends), I am very confident and I am rarely upset over my hair loss. I lean naturally to humour and I can find a lot of good jokes in my baldness, so I rarely am insulted by an innocent comment or joke. I get much more annoyed over well-meaning people trying to box in how to experience alopecia yourself or how to treat people you know with alopecia- to me that goes against rule 1 of my 3 rules up there!

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Headboard!

Finally, after years of planning to build one, I finally made a headboard for my bed!

I just made a simple plywood headboard- of which there are instructions for all over the internet so I won't go into too much detail. I got a piece of plywood cut down at Home Depot (which I cut down further at home once I settled on how wide I wanted it). By the way- we found out from this excursion that my friend's trunk/backseat is exactly 6'x3'. haha! It was really nice of her to drive me to get the wood- there was no way I could have taken this on a bus.

Then I picked up a 2 big bags of quilt batting from Michaels with 50% off coupons and cut it up to make as many layers as possible. Originally I was going to buy thick upholstery foam from the fabric store, but it was SO expensive and I didn't have a coupon. My many layers of half-off batting worked out fine! I just cut it up into as many layers as possible to fit across the front, and then two longer layers wrapped around to be stapled to the back.

Unfortunately, when I started making it my staple gun ran out of staples, and then jammed irreparably when I tried to reload it :(. I hate stopping in the middle of a project, but it was late and the hardware store was far. I borrowed my Dad's staple gun when I saw him the next day and got back to work!

I first stapled all the batting down, then I stapled down the fabric after. I love the fabric! It is by Mill Creek, but all the googling in the world couldn't find the exact name of it. I found it at Fabricland in the discount pile and only paid $12 total! It is really luxurious in person, with bits of gold sparkling in places. It wasn't at all what I envisioned myself buying, but it goes well in here and if I ever change my mind, it was cheap enough not to worry about!

The headboard was a heavy, awkward beast when I was done, so I decided to hang it on the wall with a nice big bracket that was good for up to 200 lbs. Plus, with this type of bracket I could just slide the headboard over it and I didn't need to try and line up any tricky hook-and-eye type things, which would be hard to do with no ability to see the back, thanks to the alcove. This wall is also cement (yay condos), so I busted out my hammer drill and concrete screws. It ain't going anywhere.

All in all, I am loving finally having a headboard and having the bed look more "complete". I don't know what took me so long! It was an inexpensive project too!

Plywood- $8
Batting (2 bags)- $30
Fabric- $12
Bracket- $16
Total: $66

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Runmore Adidas 10K!

About a month ago, my friend Michelle messaged me on twitter telling me we should run a 10K race together- which started at 1am on Halloween night. The premise of the run was that the clocks are turning back at 2am, so you run at 1am and when you finish it is basically still 1am! And then you drink beer. Sounded like a solid evening plan to me!

I started off the night at my friend's birthday party (and she got engaged the night before!! Congrats again Veronica and Mo!!). At midnight, I pulled a Cinderella and disappeared out of there. Except instead of glass slippers I was wearing running shoes, and instead of a magical gown, I was wearing a bee costume :)

It was delightfully pouring rain when we left and Cam dropped me off at the run site and I checked my bag full of warm things for after the race and met up with Michelle. They had large tents set up, which were thankfully warm so we all huddled in there until the start! And then we were off at 1am to run 10km in the dark, wet night!

Michelle and I took it pretty easy and finished in 1:19:30 (though with the time change I left at 1:00am and got back at 1:20am- so 20 minute 10K!), but we were definitely near the back of the pack and for most of it were completely on our own. Just a lady and a bee out for a run in the rain in the middle of the night. I think a lot of the less hard-core, slower runners were scared away by the rain, or maybe even just sleepiness! Adidas had provided everyone with a lot of free gear at bib pickup, and we were so grateful for the hats! The rain didn't bother me at all.

Once we finished we got our HUGE medals and then got some free beer and food at the food trucks that were there- this event truly went all out! Then around 2:30am, which was technically 3:30am, we walked back to my place, wrapped in many heat blankets. We probably looked like very cold ghosts. Michelle took a cab home and I took a long, hot shower. Then I stole all the duvet from Cam and spent a good hour trying to feel warm again. Finally I fell asleep and was out until noon!

All in all, it was a super fun race- even in the cold and pouring rain. The volunteers on the course were so enthusiastic and the free beer and food was a nice was to finish the evening! I had a lot of fun and would definitely do a night race again!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rich in the Six!

There is this new thing in Toronto called Rich in the Six. It is run by an anonymous man who wants to share his wealth in a fun way. Basically, he hides a small, metal token somewhere in the city and posts clues on his website The clues are only posted every couple days or so (there is a running countdown on the site for when the next clue will be posted) and some of the clues give you the general area it is in and some give a description of the token's hiding spot. A new token is hidden on the first of the month.

Usually the prize for finding the token is $1000, but the token hidden Oct 1 was found the same day it was posted! So Sixx (that is what he calls himself), hid a second and it too was found within a day! So on Oct 7th he hid a third, with the prize being tickets to a Toronto Leafs Game, and he upped his clue game, making them really vague and tough! It had to be found by Oct 31st, so he could start the next hunt on the 1st, and he was planning on releasing a lot of clues on Saturday if it hadn't been located by then.

I had been following since the first clue was posted, thanks to a facebook post by my friend Steph and brainstorming and agonizing with her over where this little token might be! Each clue made me less and less confident as to where it was, and I looked in a few different places, but never with any confidence. There is a message board on the website and tons of people were sharing thoughts and solutions to the clues.

There was one clue- a bonus one on the radio- that went "What happens when the prince crosses the king?". This clue would end up being the key one for me! I didn't solve it for a couple weeks, but a couple other clues seemed to be pointing to the area I work it and suddenly on Wednesday it dawned on me: When the prince crosses the king, HE IS IN THE KING'S WAY!. The Kingsway is the neighbourhood I work in!!

I searched in the pouring rain that evening after work, but found nothing. All I knew (as per some clues) was the token was in a box, that it was in the dark, and that it was possibly on a median or island of some nature. I checked all possible box-like locations! Nothing! On Thursday the power was out at work all morning, so I tried looking again while waiting for it to come back...nothing. I was ready to give up.

Then on Friday the next clue was up- 504 in green letters. There was a parking lot with the number 504 right by where I had been working. My coworker came with me as she too had been following the clues (she hadn't been in since I cracked the Kingsway clue). I scoured that parking lot...and nothing! She then came over and mentioned that sometimes the brown boxes at the base of streetlamps could be lifted and we looked under them- and it was under the 3rd one we tried!!!


It was sooooo exciting to find!! When you find it you log a code on the back into the website and then email Sixx to claim your prize. We got our Leaf Tickets that afternoon and are really looking forward to going to the game in January together (I never would have thought to look under the streetlamp boxes, and it was my sleuthing that led to the parking lot, so it was 100% a joint effort). If you aren't from Toronto- Leafs tickets are pretty expensive and basically always sell out, so it is a real treat to get to a game!

I had a lot of fun (and a lot of frustrating moments!) trying to find this little token, and I am looking forward to trying to win the $1000 next month! Sixx has said it is going to be even harder!
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