21 Favourite Things

21

My birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, which means I’m turning 22, which means I can watch this video even more than I already do. It also means I am feeling a pull to look back on the past year and take stock. If you haven’t already noticed, I’m very fond of taking stock and reflecting and such and etc. I won’t be 22 until the 7th, but since I haven’t been blogging very much lately, I thought I’d start now (also I was just having the most fun ever writing this post, and wanted to share). This list of the 21 favourite things from my 21st year was inspired by Elise. I’ll also be sharing my 21 favourite moments on a future blog post. I just love this idea because it gives me a chance to reflect on all of the wonderful things that happened to me when I was 21 and preserve/remember what made 21 so special. Without further ado, my 21 favourite things this year!

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running. Maybe this is an obvious one, but running has re-appeared in my life this year, and I’m so happy with it. It’s a type of exercise that just vibes so well with my lifestyle, it keeps me sane, it pushes me, it’s interesting, and it makes me feel good.

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toms. These things were glued to my feet all of last summer, and I am already planning much of the same for this coming summer. They don’t work out so well for a Montreal winter, but I could not love them more. I was reluctant to jump on this bandwagon, but they quickly became my all-time favourite shoes. 

avocado toast. Preferably on toasted baguette with garlic aioli and a sprinkle of salt. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Afterglow appMy favourite photo processing app for iPhone. I got so sick of Instagram filters, and this app is just full of dream filters and features. Amaze. (apparently it is now called Afterlight? whatevs, same difference.)

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salted caramel brownies. ’nuff said, but they’ve become my go-to dessert. Apart from one disastrous batch in which I accidentally scrambled the eggs, they are the most perfect of perfect desserts via smitten kitchen.

8tracks. This website has gotten me through awful study seshes, set the mood, cheered me up, and introduced me to a lot of great new music. It also allowed me to listen to the new Taylor Swift album to my heart’s absolute content and…that’s irreplaceable.

Feedly. Google Reader is going the way of the dodo, but I don’t mind because I never really used it anyways. I did recently get into using Feedly, which is an awesome blog reader that is slick and shiny and integrated on both my browser and my phone and I love it. The list of blogs I wanted to keep up with grew too long to just check every morning from memory, so this was helpful.

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Tiny Beautiful Things. I had a moment with this book. I can’t really explain it, but I just connected really deeply to the stories inside. It’s razor sharp, deep, wise commentary that is just so powerful. Cheryl Strayed is an amazing writer and seems like she must be an amazing person. I really do feel like Tiny Beautiful Things should be required reading for humanity. I reference sections of it if I’m feeling lost. It’s the best.

runny eggs on toast. My new favourite breakfast. Earlier this year it was smoothies, and that lasted a while, but now I’m all about eggs. I cook them using this method, and it has never failed me.

Sarah Addison Allen books. I really just fell in love with this author this year. Her books all take place in the South, which I’ve always been fascinated by because of their fruit trees and debutante society and traditions. The books always have a hint of magic to them, even though they very much take place in the real world. I just really enjoyed all of her writing this year.

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Goji Tarocco Orange Voluspa Candle. Normally candles give me headaches because they’re so perfumey and flowery. This candle just smells fresh and citrusy, and I have yet to shove it under someone’s nose without them loving it. I splurged and bought myself the one in the large glass container, but I also have the tiny version they sell, and it does the job just as well.

my library card. I don’t remember exactly when I got myself my library card, but I do know that this has been the year I used it most. We have an amazing public library downtown Montreal, and I’ve spent many a peaceful afternoon wandering around that place. I’ve also read a ton more than I would have otherwise.

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happy hour. I think this was the summer of happy hours. I have so many great memories of sitting in the late afternoon sun, drinking delicious cocktails and having long conversations with great friends. I can’t wait to do more of the same in a couple months.

Masterchef. I just can’t help myself, I adore any and all Masterchef programs, but especially the ones out of Australia. They do it best and they have the cutest accents of all time so…yeah. I love watching this show while making dinner, it makes me feel really accomplished even when I’m just chopping up sweet potato fries for the third time that week.

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that pink dress. It was a labour of love, for sure, but I am so happy I set myself that challenge and came out on top. And I actually do wear it!

podcasts. This was definitely the year of the podcasts. Disregarding the fact that I created two podcasts this year, I also just fell in love with the medium. My two favourites are the Joy the Baker podcast and This American Life. I love to listen to them while I grocery shop or cook.

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Not pictured: my equally beloved parents and grandparents

my family. Do I get points for being a sentimental sap? Prolly not. But I spent my birthday last year with my family and it was such a beautiful weekend. I’m getting old(er), and I am appreciating my family more and more, and enjoying the time we get to spend together. I felt like I got some quality times with ma loved ones this year, and I want to keep that up in future! Ya!

tacos and sushi. These two food groups (yes, food groups) made up the majority of my food cravings in the past year. I can’t get enough of either of them, in all their incarnations. Perfect food!

Pentel Energel pensMy all-time favourite pen ever, of all time. They are the ultimate!

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the book club. I’m ever-so-happy we threw together a book club with a few of our friends. It’ll be over soon because everyone’s going their separate ways after graduation, but it was a nice thing, and I’m glad we did it. We read some amazing books that I may not have read otherwise, and we talked about them and it was educational and inspiring and great.

“Be about ten times more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of being. Your life will be a hundred times better for it.” – Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things. I didn’t necessarily have this quote in my head throughout this past year, but I think I have been trying to embody the sentiment. I am trying to move away from being petty and towards being generous. I am trying to move away from criticizing and towards appreciating (in myself and in others). I am trying to act in a way that I’m proud of. I am trying to be true to myself at all times.

This was an incredible year for me. Amazing. So much has happened, both within and without me. Love you, 21!

22 Before 22: Run a Race

Before..

This is a great example of why I set goals for myself.

I’m a person who likes my routines. I am not super fond of changes to my routines, or disruptions in my life. These things are inevitable, of course, and I deal with them as they come, but I sometimes think I’d be quite content to just have my steady, reliable schedule to follow. At the same time though, I have lots of dreams and plans and things I want to accomplish! I have lots of fun activities in mind that I hope to one day do. I don’t want to miss out on anything, and I want to experience my life to the fullest. Conundrum.

That’s where goals come in. They remind me of all the fun things I hope to do, and motivate me to disrupt my regular patterns in ways that ultimately make me very happy. Yes, sometimes I grumble, or am annoyed by the hassle that these activities bring, but in the end I am always so excited that I signed myself up and followed through. For Diner en Blanc, the annoyances were things like running countless errands in order to collect all the white materials we needed. For The Colour Run, my major grumble was having to wake up at 6:30AM to do it! (and don’t worry, every time I caught myself getting annoyed about that, I just thought “get over yourself, Stephanie!”) I was also a little stressed about keeping up with my friends, and sometimes cursed myself (usually while on a run) for having initiated the registration of this event with my friends.

In the end, though, it was wonderful. I got to spend time with friends I don’t see nearly often enough, and we spent the whole 5K gossiping and catching up. Because I participated, I ran my first “race” since high school. I laughed and laughed and laughed, especially at the DIY colour powder station where we practically rolled around on the ground and put orange handprints on each other’s faces. They played music, everyone was smiling, we were running right by the water for most of it, and it was the most beautiful fall day. Even taking the metro home, full of coloured people, was fun and special.

They say that you can buy happiness if you buy experiences instead of stuff. I tend to agree. This past year I’ve bought myself a few really wonderful experiences (this race, Diner en Blanc, tickets to Wicked) and they have been so rewarding. The memories are really special, and I feel like I bonded with my friends through them. As I’m pondering my goals for next year, I think I’m going to try to more actively incorporate that idea of buying experiences into my life.

If you ever get the chance to do The Colour Run (or one of the similar races), I recommend it! It’s a great way to get used to a busy, hectic race environment with lots of people, but it’s also fun and laid back, not really a high pressure situation. Plus it’s awesome to run through clouds of coloured powder (doesn’t affect your lungs as you might think) and end up looking like a rainbow.

PS. I didn’t take these photos (because I was running!). So thanks, V, for being our personal photographer! And thanks to Amanda for letting me use them. 

22 Before 22: Start a Book Club

On my list of 22 before 22 goals, I’ll admit that I had a few favourites. Create a podcast, become a penpal, make cinnamon buns, start a book club. I’ve been wishing that I had a book club for ages, and I’ve tried with my friends – but we’ve had a couple false starts. This time, though, it actually materialized! We made a Facebook thread, chose a book, read it, met and discussed it for over an hour (the time flew – we are very book nerdy).

Sure, only about a third of the people we invited to participate could find the time (it was a 600 page book, after all), but I think we all hope that it will grow each month, especially if we choose shorter books. But even if it stays to us four pictured + a good friend calling in on speakerphone to participate (!!), I’ll be thrilled.

My favourite part of having a book club is being able to read a book at the same time my friends are reading it. This is a very novel experience for me (no pun intended), I think the last time I read a book in tandem with other people was probably Catcher in the Rye in tenth grade! It’s so fun to talk about what part everyone is at, what they thought of a particular scene, discuss thoughts about characters, etc. It is really fun!

And then, of course, the actual meeting was so great. We have two English literature students in the group, who are quite adept at picking up on things and making connections. Our talk illuminated lots of things for me, and made me think about things I hadn’t even noticed while reading. Discussing the book made me appreciate and understand it so much more.

The first book we read was The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It was my first time reading Murakami, and I really enjoyed the book. It’s a little quirky, weird, and fantastical, but a very good read.

Our next book is going to be Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant. Apparently it, too, is a little quirky, and I can’t wait to start it.

So there you have it: my idea of fun. I’m thrilled that I can cross this one off my list, and enjoy the rest of the books that are coming my way!

22 Before 22: Take an Internet Break

So I “took a break” from the internet. And I learned a few things from doing so, which I’m sharing because perhaps you’ll find them interesting. Perhaps not.

(Unrelated: my new favourite phrase is “long hair, don’t caaare” but I have trouble working it into everyday conversations, mostly because it makes no sense. I just thought you might want to know where my slang life is at currently. That’s where it’s at.)

Anyway, what did I learn from my internet break? Let’s dot jot this out.

  • The single most helpful part was not going on Facebook a million times (approximate figure) a day. I honestly catch myself checking it out just because I’m bored, but guess what? 90% of the time, nothing catches my interest when I’m scrolling through my newsfeed. Lesson? Facebooksucksnevergoonit. Suspend your account. Make the move, Stephanie!
  • I missed my blog. I truly did. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but I started to feel like I was missing part of my identity. I had a couple really stressful days in the past couple of weeks, but I couldn’t help thinking that having some kind of creative outlet would have made it better, even if it would be more “work”. After not creating content for a week, I started to even forget just how much I love the process! That’s what stress can do to you, I guess. Lesson? Being creative is soothing and happy-making. 
  • I really love the internet. Some people (Mom) might cringe when they read this, but I really do enjoy the time I spend on the internet – or, most of it, when I use it properly. I love looking at beautiful things, getting inspired by DIYs or recipes or learning how to make things. And I’ve met some really great people through the internet (my penpal and my podcast partner, for two!). But Facebook, Twitter, checking stats, looking people up (and inevitably feeling bad when I do comparisons!), scrolling mindlessly through Pinterest or Tastespotting – that stuff doesn’t enrich my life or make me happy. Lesson? New goal should be to cut back on time-wasters, not the internet in general.

All in all, it was a helpful experience. Those are good lessons! I learned something about why I was motivated to cut back on my internet usage in the first place, and what I can do to fine-tune this goal in the future. I was surprised at how much I missed writing this blog. I needed the time off (or, I told myself I did) because it was a stressful couple weeks with visitors and back-to-school and meetings and work – and now I feel like I’ve managed to get my ducks in a row, so to speak. I feel much more calm and balanced. I’m glad I tried this little experiment! I’m sure my academics and sanity will thank me for the boost I gave them.

Do you think you’d ever try a break (or quasi-break) from the internet? Have you tried one before? Did you find (like I did) that it wasn’t really for you!?

Happy Wednesday, everyone. I’m happy to be back!