Friday Five: Best Photos of 2014

Hello, there, and welcome to the first Friday Five of 2015! I don't have a whole lot to say today, so without further ado, here, in no particular order, are five of my favourite shots in 2014. Enjoy!

  Stohan's Gallery, Monterey, CA, November 2014


Palouse, Colfax, WA, July 2014


Waiting, Monterey, CA, November 2014


Little, Morro Bay, CA, March 2014


Harbour Flowers, Victoria, B.C., Canada, July, 2014




End-of-the-Year Meme 2014

Wow, it's that time of year again when I fill out this survey. I've been doing this meme for, gosh, I don't know how many years, but it's been a lot. Trust me! Anyway, here's the list for this year. Enjoy!

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Participated in not one, not two, but FOUR 5k races. No, I didn't run them, I walked them, but I did them, nonetheless! I also learned how to tap dance!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Well, here's my 2014 NYRs , and I actually managed to keep a few of them. While I didn't run a 5k, I did, as stated previously, walk four of them. That's pretty cool! I also took some great pictures (check out my Instagram!), and took a few chances and read a few pretty awesome books!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Well, a lady at work just had a (totally adorable!) baby just a couple weeks ago, but I don't know her too well, so I don't know if it counts or not.

4. Did anyone close to you die? This year? No. Thank Jesus. No.

5. What countries did you visit? Canada. I had a fantastic trip to Victoria, B.C. with a couple great friends.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? My good health back i.e., freedom of movement without difficulty or pain. I just want to be able to move again.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May 31, July 4, July 19, November 14. ALl dates I participated and finished a 5k race. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Finishing four 5k races.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not writing more. Poetry, essay, memoir, fiction, whatever, I wish I'd written more.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I've been sick for a year and a half, but nothing new, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought? A fabulous little nightstand that perfectly matches the bedroom set I got from my mom, which was my parents' original bedroom set from the mid-60s! It was quite a task to hunt one down, but I did, and it looks amazing!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? No one person, really; most of my family and friends are pretty cool!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  Looters, thieves, politicians, bloggers, and everyone who took advantage of a really horrible situation in Ferguson, MI.

14. Where did most of your money go? A truly awesome vacation, and a pretty cool bedroom redecorating.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My amazing, week+ long vacation to Seattle, Victoria, Washington state, and Coeur d' Alene, ID.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?  Sorry to put this earworm in your head (or mine!), but Let it Go, will be THE song for 2014!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Sadder. I just wish I felt better. It's so depressing to want to do stuff, and not be able to do it. Or at least, not be able to do it to the best of my ability.

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner. I couldn't work out as hard as I wanted, but I still worked out. I've also slowly but surely improved my diet.

c) richer or poorer? Richer. Despite taking a couple very expensive vacations this year, I managed to save quite a bit!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Writing and stamping.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Wishing.

20. How did you spend Christmas? With my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014? Don't be silly.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Oh, wow, I can't pick just one, so sit back, relax, and enjoy my list: Marvel: Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Z Nation, Face Off, Project Runway (including all off shoots), Forever, Gotham, Sleepy HollowThe Mysteries of Laura, Doctor Who (classic series currently airing on MyRetro TV), and The Librarians.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No. I pretty much hate the same people this year as I always have.

24. What was the best book you read? The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena. I just loved this book. It was so beautifully written. Lyrical. Poetic. It might be a bit odd for some folks, but it was right up my alley!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I didn't really make any new discoveries this year. I pretty much listened to the same old stuff.

26. What did you want and get? A 2014 Ford Mustang Convertible (as a rental to drive across Washington state! So fun!)

27. What did you want and not get? Um, nothing, really. I got pretty much everything I wanted, and really didn't want for much.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?  I didn't see too many movies this year. I did just see Exodus, and it was pretty good.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? My birthday was January 4th (and will be again, very soon!), and I turned 48. I spent the day at Avila Beach, CA, dipped my toes in the mighty Pacific, and chose the word "Adventure" as my word for 2014.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A doctor who believes I have polymyalgia rheumatica despite being under age 70, and the necessary medication (at the necessary amount) to be completely cured of the disease.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? I want to say edgy and unique. It's really just evolving!

32. What kept you sane? Working out and sleeping.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I didn't really fancy anyone this year. No one specific, anyway.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Nothing I will share publicly. I keep my political views to myself. It's NOYB.

35. Who did you miss? My grandparents. Still.

36. Who was the best new person you met? Ashleigh Bayard, owner of Eleve Barre in Atascadero. She offered some great dance classes, and I was lucky enough to be able to try a few. I hope I'll be able to try more next year.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. You can't trust anyone but family.



The Mayfly Project 2014

For several years I've participated in The Mayfly Project,  an end-of-the-year meme which you can read about here. The gist is that you use only 24 words to sum up your entire year. I picked 24 words that I believe accurately sum up the highlights of my 2014 (in no particular order): 

Adventure! Four 5k races. Class of '84 reunion. Sweltering summer road trip. Freezing cold Weetacon. World travel with friends (Canada!). Tap dancing & ballet.

What 24 words sum up your year? Let me know in the comments! Cheers!

butter LONDON Mani

This evening I changed out my festive Christmas red-and-green polish for a steele-grey and sparkly silver one for the days leading up to New Year's. I started with one coat of the butter LONDON Nail Foundation, then put two coats of butter LONDON Gobsmaked on both ring fingers and two coats of Chimney Sweep on all the rest. I finished it off with butter LONDON Hardware PDQ topcoat. It's a bit messy - I can't seem to do a mani without getting some polish on the cuticles! - but I really like the colours (and I apologize for the bluish tint, but I snapped this shot in my bathroom, and apparently need to get new lightbulbs!), and these polishes covered really well, and dried really fast! Gonna count this one as a win! Cheers!


Urban Decay Eye Shadow De-Potting

So during my last trip to Ulta, I was finally able to purchase the Urban Decay Build Your Own Palette (in Rebound; there are apparently other design choices). It's basically an empty container that you can fill up with the Urban Decay shadows of your choice, thus creating your own eye shadow palette.


During my first trip to Ulta, I purchased four Urban Decay shadows in Lost, Virgin, Sin, and Midnight Cowgirl. I wanted to pick up the Build Your Own Palette at that time, but they didn't have any. I was thrilled to find it in stock this trip, so I could finally de-pot my shadows and put them all in a more convenient container.



For this demo, I chose to use Sin, which is a lovely brown colour I primarily use in the crease of my eyelid. The Urban Decay eye shadow containers appear to be specially made to be de-potted, and there's a little notch located on the back of the container. I used a small cuticle pusher that fit perfectly into that and popped it right out.



The Build-Your-Own-Palette has two cut outs on opposite sides of each hole, and the de-potted shadow pops right in with the notched side facing the lower left cut out. The two cut outs appear to make it easier to remove shadow pots and either change them out or replace an empty one. Pretty convenient!


Here's my new, custom Urban Decay eye shadow palette with all four shadows in it. I love these colours - they are some of my favourite neutrals! The only colour I don't really like is Midnight Cowgirl, as there's too much green glitter in it, and I think it's unflattering. I might be popping that one out and replacing it with something else. I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial, and will try making your own custom palette! Cheers!



Post-Christmas Friday Five

Happy Day-After-Christmas, Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with family, friends, good food, and festivities! I also hope most of you have the day off and will be able to continue the holiday fun. I, unfortunately, am at work where it's mostly quiet, but we've already seen the aftermath of some not-so-festive Christmasses! Anyway, here are five of the best things about my Christmas:

1.  Sleeping in. There's nothing better in the world than sleeping in till 9 in the morning on a weekday!

2.  Relaxing in front of a roaring Christmas fire. (Well, sort of.) I didn't put out my decorations or tree this year; I decorated with Christmas cards! It's still pretty festive!

3. Hanging out with family. Mom and I ventured out to visit with my uncle Hal and aunt Joy, and cousin Jess and her family, and her BFF Mary for a couple hours, and it was quite lovely. My second cousin Liam is an adorable, active, super smart kid who totally scored this Christmas with a pogo stick, a set of just-his-size golf clubs, and a zip line!

4. Catching up on the soaps! I was pleasantly suprised to find that both Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless ran Christmassy, yet still story-line-centric episodes yesterday! I was expecting them to show either reruns or all-flashback episodes, which would've been fun, too, but luckily I was able to catch up on what's been going on!

5.  I was able to enjoy the two blooms on my Midas Touch rose yesterday. It froze last night, and I didn't bother covering it (it's survived at least 10 years without covering, so I'm not about to start now), so I'm sure the blooms will be gone.

Modcloth Unboxing!

Shopping again!?! Why, yes! This time I picked up a few more items from my favourite online shop, Including a piece to decorate my newly painted bedroom! So excite! Let's get to it!

The shipment came in two boxes, but this smaller once was super cute with the holiday motif.


Inside were three delightful things. And just as with the shoes I purchased earlier, they all had super fun, cute names!


1. A cozy-looking pair of grey socks with little reindeer (Most Wonderful Time of the Reindeer socks).


2. A darling (and dangerous!) gold unicorn ring (Forest Gumption Ring).


3. A totes adorbs travel pillow shaped like a little brown bear (Bear You've Been Travel Pillow).



In the larger box (without the festive decor), was ... OMG! Another box!


Heh! Inside that smaller box is the piece I've been contemplating buying for quite some time: a faux deer head (Antler Me This wall decor). The last time I checked, there one one head remaining, so I just bought it. I love the gold colour. Another one I was looking at was all white, which I thought would look good against my grey coloured walls, but I think the gold will work, too.


Sadly, one of the antlers was broken when I took it out of the box. I think I can glue it back on, but I'm going to have to think about whether or not to keep it after all.


Because another concern is the size. It is quite small. I was thinking of a life-size head originally. Then again, I do have a small room, so perhaps this smaller head will fit in better and not overwhelm the space. I'll have to think about it.


It does look pretty good on my wall, though! Gah! I'll have to sleep on it. Yeah, it's late, and time to snuggle up with my  new pillowbear and catch some Zs. Cheers!


Ulta Haul (Finally!!)

Hey, hi! I'm finally getting around to sharing some of the awesome beauty products I found and bought during my last trip to Ulta Beauty!

One thing I'm always looking for is a really good foundation, but it seems so hard to find. I want good coverage to conceal all my flaws, but don't want it to be too thick. I would love to find one that won't fall into all my wrinkles by the end of the day, and make them stand out more. And, most of all, I want it to blend in with my natural colour. This time I've decided to try Urban Decay's Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition liquid foundation (in colour 1.0). It's supposed to help your skin "achieve a natural, illuminated and bright finish". The finish is supposed to be matte and luminous, but not shiny. We'll see!


And, just for fun I picked up this funky looking foundation brush from bareMinerals. The little reservoir in the middle is supposed to help you achieve a no-mess application of liquid make up. We'll see about that, too!


Since I was purchasing the foundation from Urban Decay, I decided to pick up the finishing powder from the same line in the hopes that the two would work together to make me look gorgeous!


I love the pretty little bag the container came in! I can use it to store small jewelry items for storage or travel.


The powder itself looks just like every other pressed powder ever in the world. This colour is Light.


And to help my foundation look even better I picked up Smashbox  Photofinish Foundation Primer, and also picked up Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer to (hopefully) keep my eye shadow from creasing.



And, speaking of eye shadow, I also picked up Too Faced Natural Eyes neutral eye shadow palette. Because apparently I can never have too many brown, cream, or taupe eye shadows!



Next is a tube of waterproofing topcoat for those mascaras I love but don't come in a waterproof formula. This is Lash Genius waterproof top coat from Anastasia. I haven't tried this one before (previously used bareMinerals Locked and Coated), so I'm excited to see how it works.


I was finally able to get ahold of this empty eye shadow container from Urban Decay. Apparently you're supposed to be able to take four of your individual tubs of UD eye shadows and put them in this handy dandy container. I'm looking forward to trying it, and will let you know how the "de-potting", as it's called, goes!


And, finally, this total impulse buy: a little tin of goodies from Butter London.


It contians all these mini tools to help give you the perfect manicure. I don't know why I bought it, to be honest. I have numerous nail files and buffers, as well as a little dotting tool, and tons of various sized brushes already at my disposal. Also, I really don't do a lot of fancy nail art; I'm doing good to change my nail colour once in a while! Maybe, in that moment of shopping weakness, I thought I might start being fancy. Who knows? 


Well, that's it for this haul! Hopefully I'll do better updating the next time I travel to Ulta (or Sephora, or even just Rite Aid!). I'll definitely follow up with the products I use, and let know if if I like them or not!

Happy Tuesday! Cheers!

Toys for Tots 2014

We had our Toys for Tots/office Christmas party last Friday, and it was quite successful! We received around 40 wonderful toys including dolls, board games, craft kits, and stuffed animals.










We put up a few festive Christmas decorations as well. That second little pair of snowmen apparently sing a song and "dance" a bit. They're super cute!



We had some wonderful food and beverages as well including breakfast burritos, fruit and veggie trays, cookies, candies, deviled eggs, and salsa and hummus. Not pictured: the crock pot full of amazing vegetable soup!




 Did your office have a Christmas/Holiday party? Was it awesome? Let me know in the comments! Cheers!

Friday Five on Saturday

Sorry I'm late with my Friday Five. It hasn't been a terribly good week emotionally or mentally for me, I'm afraid, and staying positive was becoming difficult. Still. I'll soldier on, shall I?

1. So my appointment yesterday (Thursday) didn't go quite as I'd hoped. The rheumatologist flat out said I could not possibly have polymyalgia rheumatica because I am not 50 years old, despite the fact that all my symptoms exactly match that of polymyalgia rheumatica, AND there is a family history of it, AND everything I've read says, yes, it's RARE in people under 50, it's also NOT impossible. Whatever. He thinks it could be something else, and wants to rule out everything else before confirming I have what I already know I have, er,  diagnosing me with polymyalgia rheumatica officially. So I had more blood work done (conveniently in the lab right downstairs from his office), and we're back in the wait-and-see pattern. Needless to say, I am NOT happy about this. I've been suffering with the pain and stiffness for a year and a half now, and I would like to be DONE with it, please and thank you. (For the record I do not have fybromyaligia, as I don't have any of the presser point pain associated with that, so we can cross that off the list straightaway.) I am curious as to what he actually tested for, as I have already previously been tested for (and was found to be negative of) rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Lyme Disease, cat scratch disease, MS, and a few others, I can't remember right now. I guess I'll just have to wait till the labs come back. I apologize for the rant; I just had to get it out of my system.

Moving on ...

2.  In other news, our Toys for Tots/Office Christmas Party was quite successful this year! We collected 40+ toys, had an ugly sweater contest (that I don't think anyone actually participated in ... maybe next year when we have a bit more time to shop or make one!), and enjoy lots of yummy treats! Full post with pictures coming soon!

3.  Also, while I didn't handstamp any Christmas cards this year, I did manage to buy some really cute ones, and will be getting those mailed out this weekend. Hopefully some of you will be getting them before Christmas! I was beginning to feel the pressure this past week, and am very happy I will be able to accomplish this without succumbing to a complete panic attack! (And, yes, I know there's absolutely NO PRESSURE attached to the card exchange I participate every year; I put the pressure on myself all by myself!)

4.  I think next year I might just do New Year's cards, and save myself the stress! I have a few cute stamps that would easily lend themselves to a New Year's Eve/Celebration type of card, and I'm sure if I start working on them in August, I should manage to get them finished!

5. And, finally, one of my coworkers gave us all a mini-Christmas decorating kit including a small string of lights, some mini Christmas tree ornaments, and a super cute Chrtistmas card. So, now we all look pretty festive, and have gone from bah humbug to happy holidays!

Cheers, everyone!