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Good Reads

Back in January I set a goal on Goodreads to read 40 books this year. My goal last year was 25 books and I was super proud when I slayed it early! But, I was commuting on the bus/subway for two hours a day, so it was easy to burn through the books. Now that I’m driving to work my reading time has been cut down significantly and the 40 books goal may have been a lofty one. I got off to a slow start this year and didn’t read much in the spring when the height of wedding things were happening (I was so overstimulated our entire time in Cuba that I read maybe four pages total). But this summer I stepped it up, I spent a lot of my not-blogging time reading. I’m up to 30 books read now and I think I might get to my goal. I have a lot of books to talk about and I haven’t written a books post since March, so here’s a few of the ones I got through!

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Synopsis:

In downtown Chicago, Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her roommate Quinn Collins to question how well she really knew her friend. Meanwhile, in a small town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more sinister.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us.

It was okay. I wasn’t super enthralled. I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters because they just didn’t seem like real people to me. I was surprised at the ending but I also felt at that point that I didn’t really care what happened? It took so long for anything to happen that by the time things started to come together I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I love a good psychological thriller and the slow burn of knowing something big is coming up, but in this case I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to appreciate it. I did appreciate how the two storylines were so different and how in the end they synced up, but I think the book glossed over some parts of Alex’s storyline that would have made the ending pack more of a punch if they had been developed further. So just okay for me, but some reviewers LOVE IT so maybe you will too!

The Girls by Emma Cline

Synopsis:

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Oooh, I liked this one. I don’t even know how I found out about this book but I liked the cover so I added to my Goodreads to-read books. I love a good hippie cult coming of age story (who doesn’t?!). The book was clearly based on the Manson Family, she really only changed a few insignificant details as far as I could tell, so if you know that story well this probably won’t be anything surprising to you, but knowing that story helps to create a good visual for this one. I could clearly see the setting and the girls. It’s definitely a bit overwritten and some of the writing seemed awkward and try-hard which at times was annoying, but overall I was into it. I thought the author did a great job of describing adolescent female insecurity, and I could really empathise with Evie. I remember being that age and just wanting more than anything to be popular (I was not) so the way the author set everything up did a great job of showing how a regular “good” girl could end up with the wrong crowd. The wrong crowd being the Manson cult. She also did a great job of describing Evie’s girl crush on Suzanne. As a reader, I really felt it.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Synopsis:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. 

Oh hello, OPEN MY EYES! This was amazing. I already love Trevor as a comedian because I love that he doesn’t resort to certain type humour for an easy laugh (poop humour for example). He is clever and witty and doesn’t shy away from talking about controversial issues like race, hate speech, police brutality, white-privilege, etc. I can’t imagine it’s easy to bring out the humour in those issues, but he does. He’s a great storyteller and the stories about his childhood and what it was like to grow up with a white father and a black mother in South Africa during apartheid (when it was illegal for South African citizens to marry or have sex across racial lines — hence why Trevor was literally born a crime), and his struggle to find his identity and fit in, well it was eye opening. Really interesting to read about. His writing is thoughtful and intelligent and he shares his perspective so well, plus he’s hilarious and was clearly a pretty naughty child, so those stories were entertaining. I think it’s an important book to read and one of the best I’ve read in a while.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Synopsis:

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

I tried to listen to this as an audio book back in 2016, had a hard time getting into it and stopped listening, and then picked it up again this year. I liked it a lot more the second time around. The plot was interesting and kept me hooked and I ended up enjoying the book overall, but there were a few things I didn’t love. I wish the characters had more personality, or some of the secondary characters had been explored a bit deeper. Thomas (the main character) wasn’t my favourite. And I wish they described Theresa, the only girl, as something more than “pretty”. The “love story” aspect kind of felt like it was just thrown in there and didn’t develop naturally. I was also not a big fan of the ending. Overall, I liked. I bet I would have absolutely this book had I read it back in 2010, but now with so many dystopian sci-fi books to choose from I’m not sure it holds up as well. I do want to watch the movie now!

Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

The synopsis is here, it’s pretty long.

So I listened to this as an audio book, which is read by Barack Obama, and I would just like to say that I could listen to him talk to me for hours and hours, so that alone made this book a great experience for me. I mostly listen to audiobooks when I’m driving or cooking, and sometimes I find them hard to follow and I tend to start thinking about something else in my head and realize I’m not paying attention and I’ve just missed half the chapter. But with Obama speaking, I was never not paying attention. He has such a commanding, comforting voice, like listening to a trustworthy family member. A loved uncle.

I love that he wrote this before he was president, because somehow it seems more honest and candid than it might have had he written if after. But I think this would be a great book even if it wasn’t written by the former POTUS. I loved hearing more about his background, his family and his upbringing. When he talked about visiting his family in Kenya that was a real highlight for me.

The book provides a better understand of who Obama is and why he is the way he is, how hard he worked for his community. Something that continues to impress me about him, and I really got a sense of this in the book, he is just so pragmatic. He takes the time to look at problems and issues thoughtfully and from every angle. That is an admirable quality. Highly recommend this read.

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35 Further Reasons Why Evan is the Best Ever

Happy 35th birthday to Evan! (well, it was yesterday but no one reads blogs on Sundays.)

As you may know, I have a yearly tradition on Evan’s birthday where I post all the reasons why I think he is the best ever, with the number of reasons coinciding with how old he is turning. Of course, this list is subjective, based on my personal feelings. And, admittedly these aren’t so much reasons but more stories of what Evan has said or done throughout the year that have either made me laugh really hard or made me think “you are just the best, ever.”

So, since Evan is turning 35, here are 35 reasons why he is the best ever (I am really trying not to repeat any from previous best ever posts!)

He brings me pineapples full of pina colada on the beach, for one.

35 Further Reasons Why Evan is the Best Ever

35  He looooooves yard sales. Weekend morning yard saling is Evan’s dream activity. Especially when we’re at the cottage. We usually go out for breakfast on cottage weekends and if Evan sees a sign for a yard sale he will be finding that yard sale and we will be stopping at it. One morning we went on like an hour long wild goose chase trying to find some yard sale that ended up being totally crap. He is an old man in a young man’s body and he’s going to be a really good grandpa one day.

I should note that I do not particularly love yard sales, we have enough junk around the house without buying more of other people’s, but I appreciate his love of treasure hunting.

34  The way he chooses to describe things makes me laugh really hard (I’ve mentioned this before), for example wild goose chase, he calls it a wild juice case. If he notices his shirt has a hole in it he will say “this shirt is more holey than righteous” (like a play on more holy than righteous). Once, he described a man as: “He looks like he just drank a potion and hair shot out of his head in every direction.” It was an accurate description.

33  It’s his dream to have a rumpus room. And that is what he calls it, not a rec room or a man cave or a den or whatever, but a rumpus room, for rumpusing. He said this around our friend Scott’s mom and she was like “rumpus room?! I haven’t heard that term since the 70s.” But of course it’s how Evan chose to describe it.

We were talking about how we could redesign our office into a rumpus room, for his rumpusing, and Evan stopped and said “Wait, if we have a baby isn’t the baby going to live in here? This would be a better baby’s room than a rumpus room.” We don’t even know 100% that we’re going to have a baby but that right there warmed my heart. So, our guest room might have to turn into a guest room/rumpus room so Evan can live out his rumpusing fantasy.

32  I love the amount of effort and dedication he puts into every project he takes on. As just one small example, the Zach Morris phone he made for our Saved By The Bell costume for the 90s Jack and Jill. First of all, he searched every thrift store near us for that phone, and when he couldn’t find one like it he made a flyer that he stuck up on the bulletin board of our condo building’s parking garage with a picture of the phone he was looking for, and strips with his phone number to call him if someone had one. He even tore a strip off himself to “create buzz” as he put it, like it was a popular item. When no one called him (because it is not a popular item) he made the phone himself out of wood and glued a paintbrush handle as the antenna. For reference, here is the Zach Morris phone:

And here is the phone that Evan created:

31  I’ve mentioned before (in several other best ever posts) that Evan is very popular with the old ladies in our building. They adore him. He’s done handyman work for a lot of them at some point, and he has expressed to them how much he enjoys cooking and eating dishes from different countries (we have many immigrants in our building). So now several of the ladies have invited him over to cook with them and have taught him how to make their favourite family recipes. The best part about this is he brings these dishes home to me!

30  I love watching Evan with kids because he is slightly awkward but he’s just a big kid, and they pick up on that.

Last winter we were at my friend’s sister’s place and a couple of kids were playing Power Rangers in the basement. Evan had never met these kids before but one of them came upstairs and pointed at Evan and yelled “We want the guy with glasses to play with us!!!” so he did, and when I went downstairs a while later to check on him he was in a corner and they were beating him with pillows. He was losing at the Power Rangers.

29  Evan’s nana passed away last fall and as he was very close with her, it was really hard on him. Creativity tends to be his outlet and he poured his heart and soul into making a custom box for her ashes. Just as he did for his Bubby (his grandpa) in the first Evan is the best ever post.

And Brotherman again drew the design before Evan stained it. It was beautiful.

28  He is such a proud cat dad! His love for Tilly warms my heart but what surprised me the most was how much he loved Bonnie! We didn’t have her for very long so I didn’t think he’d really bond with her. But he loved her immediately!

27  He also loves his fish. He has a five gallon fish tank, which has about half a dozen fish in it, mountain minnows, or feeder fish that you feed to bigger fish. He got them as starter fish when he first got his tank to make sure the ecosystem was good before he put fancier, more exciting fish in there. He has spent two years making that aquarium a lush underwater oasis, with live plants and fun hiding places, and it’s still just the feeder fish that live in there. When I asked him if he thought maybe it was time to upgrade to better fish he was like “but it’s their home, I can’t just kick them out!”

Last weekend he was at his dad’s for the night and he texted me “can you please feed the fish and then turn the light off for the night once they’re done eating? They like to see their food but have it dark at nighttime.” Okay.

26  He was at his dad’s for the night last weekend because he was putting in a laminate floor for them. Because he will drop whatever he’s doing to help anyone, especially family. On our way back from Niagara Falls on Canada Day weekend, my dad called to see if Evan had any time the next week to help him put up a 500 pound permanent steel tent structure thing in their backyard. Evan dropped me off at home and then headed to my dad’s immediately to help him. It took him two days, but he and my dad got that sucker up. And all the credit to him for tackling a stressful project with my dad for two days, ’cause I’ll tell ya I don’t think I would have the patience for that task. But he actually had a good time.

25  He is my resident researcher, constantly googling the answer to questions he doesn’t know, landmarks we pass in the car, etc. Last November when we were visiting Paula and Fabian in Orlando, we passed The Holy Land Experience theme park when we were driving around, which Evan and I had never heard of and Paula and Fabian didn’t know much about, either. Evan was immediately looking it up and was like “Did you know there’s a Tiny Town of Bethlehem and you can go into an exact replica of the Garden Tomb where the body of Jesus was buried?” We were dying. Paula and Fabian said they have passed that place a million times but never actually looked it up. Being around him is very educational.

24  We went on a minimoon in Algonquin Park this summer (more on that later) and we were hiking the trails and Evan of course picked up a guide book and read aloud to me in a theatrical voice along the way, so I knew about each trail’s specific geological characteristics and the flora and fauna, etc.

His level of enthusiasm for things definitely makes me enjoy them more.

23  I present this without comment.

Okay, just awwwww, what a little sailor!!!

22  As I’ve mentioned in previous best ever posts, Evan is still very tidy and enjoys cleaning, especially vacuuming. His mom told me that all he wanted for Christmas when he was about 3-4 was a cleaning cart, like a janitor or a maid would use. She was not able to find a child’s toy replica unfortunately.

21  He still tells me every single day that I’m beautiful, and he makes me feel like everything about me is loveable. It’s a really nice feeling.

20  Without me knowing, he saved and brought home the cork from our wedding champagne that we toasted with on the beach during our ceremony in Cuba, so we can save it forever!

19  His big thing to say to me if we are out anywhere is “put that in your purse” and it’s turned into a huge joke now. If we’re at a restaurant and there are packets of peanut butter and jam on the table Evan will nudge me and say “hey…put those in your purse.” If there are free samples of something or we’re drinking out of nice beer glasses in a pub it’s “put those in your purse.”

18  He’s good to have around at all-you-can-eat buffets because he has the best tips to get the most out of your experience. Recently we went to the Mandarin with Lisa and Scott (an extensive Chinese buffet) and he leaned in to us and whispered conspiratorially “Okay, don’t fill up on water, and don’t go for the soup or the salad bar, THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO DO. We need to get the most out of this! We want them sweating in that kitchen!” I don’t know why this was so funny and maybe you had to be there, but we were dying.

17  At Lisa and Scott’s engagement party I was sitting at a table with some of Lisa’s ladyfriends and Evan strolled over with a bunch of pretzel sticks lined up and sticking out of his shirt breast pocket. He just casually pulled one out and started munching on it while making eye contact with us.

16  Drunk Evan. Drunk Evan is my favourite and I love that it doesn’t happen very often, the stars really have to align, so it’s a special treat. His sassface is in full force and he gets extra hilarious with his one-liners. People are still regaling stories of the hilarious things he said at our joint bachelor/bachelorette night in Cuba (that is probably one of my favourite nights of all time). I felt like he was a character in a movie.

15  Sometimes he will get into bed at night and declare “I am feeling extra harassy tonight.” and I will protest “Nooooo, I’m just reading!” and he will say “What about a choose your own harassment adventure? Do you want perpendicular legs, (when he lays sideways on the bed with his legs rigid over mine) or maybe pillow thief, or blanket hog, or steamroller?” NONE. But ughhh it makes me laugh.

He now has a perpendicular legs hand signal that he will do before I get into bed, which looks like this:

14  We were fishing at the cottage this weekend and Evan was casting his rod while I was sitting next to him reading on the dock, so I said “don’t hook your lover,” and he responded with “Do you know of anyone more careful than me?” And no, actually, I can’t think of one single person who is more careful than Evan.

13  I also present this with no comment.

Okay, just:

12  Someone once stole his lunch at work and he said “It’s okay, they probably needed it more than me.” LOLWUT? No.

11  My bestie, her mom and I were discussing all the books we own (MANY) and Evan jumped into the conversation and said “Why do you need to keep so many books? They’re just trophies.” I never thought of it like that, like ‘look at all these books I’ve read!’

10  I overheard my friend Dawn describe Evan as a “warm hug of a person.” which I thought was a really lovely way to describe someone.

9  On our Toronto wedding day, after the ceremony and family photos when we sat down to brunch, Evan wiped his mouth with his napkin and it came away covered in lipstick. He was all “look at how much lipstick I’m wearing!” I guess I transferred it onto him when we had our first kiss. Whoops. No one had noticed or said anything to him, so we figured no big deal. But when we got our pictures back, he looked like Howdy Doody in all our pictures before he wiped his face, so therefore in ALL OF our family photos.

We laughed SO HARD when we saw this. Oh man, I’m still laughing. (I was able to Photoshop it out so no biggie!)

8  He’s actually really good at folding fitted sheets.

7  Since living with Evan, I have not ironed one article of clothing. Evan is the one who handles all the ironing in our house and it is WONDERFUL. Also the sewing. Ain’t nobody got time for that (except Evan). And if one of my necklaces is knotted I just conveniently leave it on his night table so he can fix it for me at his leisure.

6  His first and biggest priority in any situation, wherever we are, is me. It is so nice to have a partner in life who always has my back and is constantly looking out for my best interests and well-being. I still sometimes can’t believe that I found such a solid person who cares for me so much. And I know if I said that to him he would say “You didn’t find me, I found you.”

5  This manatee also thinks Evan is the best ever.

I better watch out, I'm pretty sure this manatee is after Evan #facesmoosh

A post shared by Lindsey (@happyorhungry) on

4  I love that I have now written a total of 165 reasons why Evan is the best ever and I still don’t have a difficult time coming up with them.

3  I love that all the past reasons still apply. We may have changes in our schedule that make things different, for example we don’t wake up every morning and spend half an hour together with coffee in bed on weekdays anymore (this was in a previous best ever), but generally all the reasons he is the best ever still stand. He is still the most thoughtful, with my family as well as my friends, he still has the best one-liners, is still the best cook and cooks often, makes me coffee when we’re home together in the morning, is the handiest person ever, he’s still a do-er and doesn’t procrastinate, he still does unexpected little things to make my life easier, and he still makes me laugh hard on a daily basis. Etc. etc. etc. Living with him is the best.

2  Even five years into our relationship he still offers me the biggest piece, the best piece or the last piece of whatever we’re eating. That is love!

1  He is my HUSBAND!!!!!! I get to spend my life with this glorious hunk of man!

Happy birthday Evan! I am excited to spend many, many more with you, because you are the BEST. EVER. and I am the luckiest. Ever.

If you made it all the way to the end and still want more, here are the past Evan is the Best Ever:

 

 

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Hello, I am back

Oh heyyyyy! I’m alive! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to abandon you all summer. Things were busy and a one week break turned into two, and then three, and then I was like “well, I might as well just take August off,” so I did. And now here we are two months later. How is it already September?! I feel like summer didn’t even happen! Hopefully I still have readers after being MIA for so long. I know it’s annoying if you follow a blogger and they suddenly just drop off the face of earth, so I am sorry if anyone was checking to see if I had posted anything.

I’ll be honest, taking a blog break was kind of nice. It was nice to come home after work and do whatever without having to worry about how I was going to squeeze in time to write anything. Sometimes writing a blog feels like a bit of a chore, so when that starts to happen I think it’s time for a break. An to be honest, I also find it more difficult to write these days with everything going on in the world. When there are massive hurricanes raging, the west is on fire, there’s a threat of nuclear war, the awful heartbreaking DACA decision, and a madman is in charge of the free world, being like “lalala look at all the pictures I took this weekend!” seems tone deaf and insensitive (though it is nice to take a break from the terrible news of the world and read mindless drivel, and someone needs to create that mindless drivel). Add to that, I’m getting older and more careful about what I put online. I feel like I can’t write as freely as I once did.

But I did miss blogging a lot. I missed sharing my adventures on here, I missed having a reason to take pictures of what I’m up to, and I missed the comments (although the blog community is definitely not what it used to be). I just missed sharing my life.

This summer has been busy with all the typical summery things, just not with our typical summery weather. It felt like we didn’t really have a summer in Ontario, just a prolonged spring, and now it’s fall. It was very rainy and cool most of the time, or at least on weekends, which is when all the things are happening. Back in the spring when the trend of crap weather was starting I was thinking that’s fine, weather, you get it out of your system now and as long as we have a nice summer it’s all good. But then June came and the weather didn’t listen, and I was still thinking, that’s fine. I can deal with June being less than ideal as long as we have a nice July and August. And then it was July, and it was more of the same, but I was like okay as long as August is nice I can deal with this. And then August came and went and now somehow it’s September and well, it’s still raining. But maybe we’ll have a nice September?

Every year we Canadians suffer through a cold and snowy winter telling ourselves that it’s okay because summer’s coming and it’s going to be beautiful, so then when it isn’t I feel like I’ve been robbed. I only went swimming like three times!

And, see, how tone deaf am I complaining about the weather. I know this is nothing compared to the much worse situations that many other people are dealing with right now. Every time I talked to my mom and brother in BC they would go on about how it had been 30 degrees and sunny every day there since May, with no rain at all. But, there’s so many wildfires! They have those to deal with, which is unpleasant to say the least. They told me it’s so smoky sometimes that their eyes sting when they go outside. I can’t imagine.

But back to the summer. We made the best of what we had. We got up to the cottage a few times, went camping (it rained the whole time but it was still fun), went on a mini moon, and did a lot of other little adventures. So I have a lot to talk about. And I still haven’t even fully recapped our Toronto wedding! And Evan’s birthday is on Sunday so you know what that means…I can’t miss the annual best ever post (that’ll be on Monday, not Sunday).

I am so out of the habit of this kind of writing though and I’m worried I’ve lost my blog voice. For now I just wanted to write a quick HEY I’M NOT DEAD! And just let you know that I’m hoping to pick it up around here. And I hope people are still around to read it!

Also, wherever you are in the world, stay safe my friends.

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Toronto Waterfront 10k…Again

A few weeks ago I ran in the Toronto Waterfront 10k with my blog pals Michelle and Casey, as well as Michelle’s friend.

Michelle convinced us to sign up with her back in March and I ran this same race last year with those two and my friend Melissa as well. I guess I didn’t hate it, ’cause there I was. Back again.

I didn’t really train for this race, and I probably should have. Whoops. I ran about 7k in Cuba with Casey, and that was the furthest distance in all of my “training” (and the furthest distance since this 10k race last year). Other than that I ran 3-4 times outside all spring, about 5k each time, and then the rest of my running took place at Orangetheory Fitness. OTF is HIIT (high intensity interval training) though, so while you may get 24 minutes on the treadmill per class, it’s different speeds and likely not running the entire time. I am not a natural runner at all and I do think that OTF has made me a bit faster, and I think it’s the HIIT that’s doing it.

Anyway, we ran it on a Saturday at 7:30 in the morning, right in the heart of downtown Toronto. It would have been the most perfect beautiful day for sitting on a dock on the water sipping some beerskis, but it was just BLAZING for running. It was hot hot hot and incredibly humid. I was already sweaty just walking from my car to the starting area — no exaggeration.

It was like running in Cuba. It was also quite busy.

Michelle and Casey’s plan was that Casey (the running speed demon who recently completed a 50k trail race) was going to pace Michelle to a 10k PR of just under one hour. I decided to run with them for a while to see if I could run at that pace at all, even though that would be shaving almost 15 minutes off my 10k time last year, which seemed impossible. I knew it would probably be too fast for me, especially without actually training for it. But hey, ya gotta try!

The big joke was that I would be good for about 24 minutes, since that’s what I’m used to running in OTF, and then I’d be dying. And that is not far from the truth. Michelle, Casey and I ran together for 4km at a pretty decent pace, and when I hit that 4k marker (24 minutes in) I had to slow it down. I told them to go on without me and just continued by myself at a slower pace.

A kilometre later I ran into Michelle again, who was also dying of heat. She said her initial goal was a cool and rainy April idea and maybe wasn’t going to be realistic during a heat warning. So we ran together until about 8k and then she pulled ahead of me again. I could see her several yards in front of me for the rest of the race though, and focusing on her up there kept me going!

I was music-free during the first half of the race but by the second I needed a push. I was running in the direct sunlight and there was no breeze at all, and I was feeling it hard. It was also around this time that I got a notification from my Runkeeper App (WHILE it was on and tracking my time!!!) that I needed to get out and run and the first step out the door is the hardest.

Get moving. How about YOU get moving, RunKeeper. I’m already f@$%ing running you idiots! The first step out the door isn’t the hardest, running for over an hour in a heat wave while my thighs chafe off is the hardest.

At least I got Casey’s notification at the same time, motivating because she a) had already finished and b) there were donuts at the finish line. That got me moving.

I didn’t feel great but I crossed that finish line in 1:11.05, almost four minutes faster than last year so I was happy with that!

Actually, it was my fastest 10k ever!

But only my second 10k ever, hahaha. So, Runkeeper tracked that but not that I was actually running while I was running?

Anyway, I got my medal and you know I got a donut.

Yay, the bloggers and joggers actually went jogging!!!

And then we went for food and lagers, as we do.

Of course AS SOON as we finish the race it got overcast and breezy. Of course.

Overall I really like this race. It’s pretty even aside for an uphill at the end, and very well organized at the start with the bag drop, etc. I did not bring water onto the course with me though, and I didn’t see a water station until about 4k — on a day as hot as it was I would have appreciated water sooner.

Ohh I’ll probably run this bad boy again next year. MAYBE I will actually train this time.

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Canadian Tuneage

On Sunday morning after our Canada Day wine fest, Evan, Sherrie, Will and I went out for breakfast and then did the typical Niagara Falls touristy stuff. We walked Clifton Hill where all the attractions are and then hit up the falls!

Nothing like photobombing this beautiful natural wonder with our big ol’ faces.

I actually didn’t even get a picture of the falls without us in front of them, so here’s one that Dawn got later on.

Just so you get an idea of their magnificence, you know. They’re quite a wonder.

Next up on our agenda was the Canada 150 Music Festival at Butler’s Barracks in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Heyyyy ya! Nothing says Canada Day like Canadian tuneage!!!

This was actually the reason we were in the area in the first place, but we were making a weekend out of it. I was so excited for that lineup! Blue Rodeo is probably my fave (our wedding first dance song was Lost Together) — Evan and I saw them last year also and they were wonderful. I saw City & Colour a few years ago with Sherrie, but I haven’t seen the rest of those bands so I was excited.

Butler’s Barracks is a historic military complex in a ridiculously lush and pretty area in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Commons is a huge field in the middle and the perfect venue for an outdoor concert. It was very well organized and overall I was really impressed with the venue. I waited in line max 5 minutes for a beer so that’s not too shabby at all! I heard parking was a mess, but we parked a bit away and walked in and had no problems getting out and we didn’t hit any traffic, so it was a dream day for us (not for the rest of our friends who arrived later, they had a hard time getting outta there).

We set up shop on a sweet patch of grass not too far from the stage.

I grabbed a poutine on the way in (a concert tradition for me usually) and then Evan and Will went on an adventure and brought us back fish tacos from the Food Dudes. Those were freakin’ amazing.

Dear Rouge was up first!

It wasn’t that busy yet — I think a lot of people planned on coming later for the headliners — and I’m so glad we got there early, got a good spot, and caught Dear Rouge. I LOVE THEM. Danielle has an amazing voice and just a really great frontlady vibe about her. I don’t know why they’re not more popular (probably because all Canadians get shafted unless they’re Drake).

So good. I also love Black To Gold (one of my fave songs to run to), I Heard I Had, and Tongues — just to name a few. They were great (but too short!) and Sherrie and I were loving our lives in that warm sunshine.

Next up was Stars, and I only knew two of their songs, Hold On When You Get Love and Take Me To The Riot, so I was glad they played both of those. They were good, too, but not exactly my style. The lead guy was saying he lived about 400 meters up the street – convenient!

It was starting to get busier by the end of their set.

Then The Srumbellas (LOVE!) came on and the rest of our friends arrived! There were 11 of us in total, Dawn, Mark and Scarlett, Emily and Corey, Renee and Dustin and of course Sherrie and Will.

It was SO AMAZING they could all make it! I can’t even think of a time a bunch of us have done something like this together. I loved singing along with everyone. And I was honoured to be there for Scar’s first concert!

I love how those two matched. She had a time!

By the time they all got there it started to get realllll busy. It was packed behind us all the way to the back of the park. Just crazy. I was thankful we had a clear spot for hanging out.

The Strumbellas were awesome, just as good as I hoped they would be! Some of my faves from them if you’re not familiar:

We Don’t Know (so good, love that violin!), Spirits (which you may know), Young & Wild, In This Life. Again, I don’t know why they’re not more popular (again, Canadian). Check ’em out!

And then my loves, Blue Rodeo, who took the stage just as the sun was setting.

Ah they were so good. Evan and I totally slow danced during Lost Together, and we definitely did when we saw them last summer, too.

Surprisingly they played a few songs that I didn’t know, but they squeezed a bunch of their hits in: Try, Hasn’t Hit Me Yet, and Evan’s favourite, Five Days In May (he actually wanted that to be our first dance song but it didn’t work quite as well so it got vetoed).

I was having such a love burst for the day, for our folky Canadian music, for our ridiculously fun friends, for our amazing country. I had a moment.

And then it was City and Colour time! I quite like Dallas Green’s voice, it’s so unique, but I will tell you, I have to be in the mood for that kind of music. It is a bit sleepy. Some of my faves: Wasted Love, The Girl, Fragile BirdComin Home.

They were also fantastic, and we were feeling rambunctious despite Dallas and friends’ sombre tone.

Oh it was such a fun time with those ladies. And our men.

We stayed at a big airbnb back in Niagara Falls that comfortably fit all of us, so we headed back there for a sleepover and a Euchre tournament. It worked out well. Like a big slumber party. It was such a great Canada Day weekend with some of my faves!

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Canada Day Wine Touring

Happy belated Canada Day to all my Canadian chums!

And happy Fourth of July to all you American minxes!

It was a big deal here this year since it was Canada’s 150th birthday — though, there is some controversy surrounding that…which I don’t want to get into. I will say this, Canada isn’t perfect. We’ve done some crap in our past and there is still a lot of work to do, but we are a great country and I’m so thankful and proud to be Canadian. I’m happy that I live in a country where we celebrate diversity, where I am free to love who I love, be who I am, make decisions about my own body without anyone’s interference, never have to worry about paying for healthcare, and my future is what I want to make of it. We are very lucky to live here, and I think there is a lot to celebrate.

I have had really great Canada Day weekends over the last few years, and this year was right up there. Yesterday was a holiday here so we spent Saturday to Monday in Niagara Falls. My favourite long weekends are the ones spent camping or at a cottage, submerged in a lake with cold beer and campfires, so this year was a bit of a change from that but it was a ton of fun!

Evan and I met Sherrie and Will on Saturday morning at our hotel by the falls (the Canadian side), and then took a shuttle to wine country, Niagara-on-the-Lake, for a full afternoon cycling tour with Grape Escapes. It was awesome, they picked us up down the street from our hotel on a school bus, dropped us off for the day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and then brought us back to our hotel at the end. None of us had to worry about driving (except the bikes), so it was an ideal situation.

I was all festive in my Canada gear.

I love Evan’s silver patch of beard that’s coming in. He’s going to be a silver fox!

We hit some Canada Day traffic and had to make a stop to pick some people up, but we made it to wine country pretty quickly. We geared up and chose our bikes before heading on our way.

Helmets were optional but I ended up wearing one in the end — our tour guides mentioned we would be riding on some country roads and I just didn’t trust crazy Canada Day drivers. I also hadn’t ridden a bike in a while and didn’t trust my balance after a few glasses of the vino. Luckily, our group was accident-free.

It is such an absolutely gorgeous area to be riding in!

I have never done a wine tour in the Niagara region but now I can’t wait to go back. There are so many wineries and we were only able to go to four, so there is a lot left to explore! We rode for about 25 minutes along the Niagara River until we got to our first winery, Reif Estate.

We had a full tour of this winery and spent about an hour walking around with a guide and drinking all the wine. They had some good ones. They had a riesling I really liked, which was surprising because I am not usually a big riesling fan.

They also talked a lot about the process of making icewine, which I believe is mainly a Canadian thing since it’s made with frozen grapes. They harvest the grapes at the coldest time of year, at the coldest time of the night, when they are frozen solid on the vine. It allows for a more concentrated juice to be pressed from the grapes resulting in a smaller, more concentrated, very sweet wine. I don’t love sweet wines and I don’t usually like icewine, but I tried it at each winery we went to and enjoyed it all. Some people just pour it over ice cream and I feel like I could get down with that.

After Reif Estate we got back on our bikes and rode to the next winery, Riverview Cellars, a smaller family-owned winery about 10 minutes down the road.

We had cheese samplings here! So that was a highlight.

I think cheese and crackers are my favourite snack of all time.

I really liked the wine here and Evan and I got a bottle of their pinot grigio. We sampled various wines for about 20 minutes and then we were back on our bikes and onto the next.

I loved riding through the vineyards. It was so beautiful and peaceful.

Next up we went to Inniskillin Winery, one of the bigger and more well-known wineries in the area. I enjoyed the wines I tried there but most are available at the LCBO (Ontario’s liquor store) so we didn’t buy any. After the tasting we headed to check out the vineyards.

Lastly, we hit up Pondview Estate Winery, which was maybe my favourite because I really enjoyed the girl who did our samples and they had wine slushies! I scored one of those after our tasting. I got the lime one and it was delicious.

It had called for rain all day (what else is new, it’s been raining almost constantly the past few weeks) but until that point it had just been really hot and humid with mostly clear skies. While we were at Pondview a bit scary cloud rolled in and it was clear the rain was coming. Poncho time! The ponchos were a good call because it absolutely POURED on the way back, and we rode through it for about 20 minutes, which was just nuts. Oh well, it just added to our adventure. I think we were pretty lucky that the rain held off all day and only got us at the very end. We were totally soaked though.

I really can’t say enough good things about Grape Escapes Wine Tours. I LOVED the biking, and our two guides were great. I would highly recommend booking a tour with them. I was so happy we did that.

We got back to the falls around 6pm (we hit more Canada Day traffic), and after we got back to our hotel, cleaned ourselves up and relaxed for a minute the rain had stopped and we could patio it up for dinner! We went to the same restaurant Evan and I took Paula and Fabian to, Coco’s. The food isn’t THE BEST or anything but I love the atmosphere on that patio and the live music is fantastic. The guy was playing a lot of 60s/70s rock and Sherrie and I were in our element. That is our jam.

After dinner we walked down to the falls for FIREWORKS!!!

I love fireworks and had been looking forward to them all day but to be honest they were kind of disappointing. I was expecting them to be way over the top for Canada’s birthday, especially since it was the 150th, but I think they were just their regular weekend fireworks, with some more red and white added in. If I saw them somewhere else I probably would have been impressed, but in Niagara Falls for Canada Day? Eh, just okay.

We had big plans the next day too, with a bunch of our friends meeting up with us for a music festival, so more about that later. Hope you had a great weekend!

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