Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hunger Games.

It isn't to often while being in classes that I am able to read books that I want to read or are on my "Must Read Book List." However, when given the opportunity to read a book on this list FOR one of my classes I was quick to get on the train. In my english methods class we are required to work in a book club reading young adult fiction. Our group was quite keen on reading The Hunger Games, especially hearing all the positive and exciting feedback from our students. I remember during my first couple of weeks at my internship every class was shown the trailer for The Hunger Games movie. After watching it five times, I was dying to read the book and find out how the games played out for Katniss and Peeta.

Last week I finished the book. I couldn't put it down! Every chapter ended on a hook. Normally I don't enjoy gruesome details, but this book was so vivid and my imagination was stretched to new limits that I couldn't wait to read the next chapter. I was sad to see the novel end, but brimming with excitement to start reading the next novel in the series: Catching Fire.

I'm not going to get into details about the book because I don't want to give anything away for those who wish to read it or are waiting anxiously to watch the movie like myself. I will say though that if you like an action-packed novel filled with cliff hangers and interesting character developments, this novel is for you.

To get you excited and foster a love and desire for this novel the way I did, here's the trailer from YouTube.

Comment and let me know what you think!

Enjoy :)

(Image via Wikipedia)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sequins & Sweethearts.

I love checking things off my bucket list. Thanks to my Mom, Dad, and Grandmom, this weekend I did just that!

I'm not a very sporty girl. However, at a young age I fell in love with the sport of figure skating. My mom and dad registered me for my first skating lessons when I was 5 or 6 (correct me if I'm wrong, Mom). I do remember that I loved skating very much! When it came down to choosing between gymnastics and skating because of conflicting schedules, it was an easy decision picking figure skating. I loved skating competitively. I'm not afraid to admit that when I was a young girl I loved having the attention on me. So, being alone on the ice showing the crowd what I could do on my skates was fun for me.

Another favourite part of skating for me were the numerous costumes my dedicated Grandmom used to make for me. Sequins, sequins, and more sequins. Ruffles, sparkles, and ribbons. And don't forget the matching scrunchies. Oh, the 90s!

I skated competitively till I was probably 12 or 13. My coaches moved away and couldn't commit to the hour and half commute to and from my neighbourhood rink 2-3 times a week. So, I spent the next 5 years teaching figure skating as volunteer work every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. I didn't get much time to skate on my own, but I'd find intervals of time here and there to put on some music and just "wing it", if you will, around the ice. Sigh, I miss this.

Since my early days of skating competitively, I have ALWAYS wanted to take in a professional skating competition. I've been to fun professional ice shows like "Stars on Ice" and "Celebration on Ice", but I wanted to see the real thing. I wanted to experience the competition and challenging programs that I fell in love with. And this weekend, I did just that!

The Canadian Figure Skating Championships were held in Moncton this past weekend. As a birthday present my Mom, Dad, and Grandmom purchased tickets to the weekend portion of the competition for Mom, Grandmom, my friend Kate, and I. I was in pure bliss!

Nam Nguyen. This kid is only 13 years old competing with men 6-9 years older then him.
He's going to be a superstar someday!

Watching pairs skating is like watching a daredevil show!

Saturday was a full day of figure skating fun. Pairs, ice dance, and women's long program and men's short program lasted for 11 hours. What could have felt like a long day went by with a blink of an eye. The programs the skaters performed had me dancing in my seat, grinning from ear to ear, tearing up, and sending goosebumps down my spine. I got to see some of my favourite skaters like Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Patrick Chan, and Jessica Dube! I still can't believe I finally got to do this!

Patrick Chan. Enough said. 

But, if you ask ANYONE what my favourite part of the weekend was they wouldn't hesitate to give you the right answer. After the exhibition gala Sunday evening, I with much determination got an autograph and photo with Patrick Chan himself. I smiled all the way home afterwards.

<3 <3 <3

Me: "Patrick, could I get a photo with you"
Patrick: "Of course, sweetheart!"

HELLO! I'm in love <3

My autographed ticket from Patrick Chan

Oh, did I mention that one of the male skaters who is originally from Moscow did his long program to a medley of Michael Jackson hits. Yes, another highlight of the weekend!

The most fun I've had watching a long program. Elladj Blade doing an epic long program to
a Michael Jackson medley which included Bad, Dirty Diana, and Don't Care About Us.  

AND, I got to high five all of the skaters at the end of the exhibition gala when they did a victory circle around the rink. Yes, that means I touched the hands of Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and such cuties as Jeremy Ten, Kevin Reynolds, and Sebastian Wolfe.

Beauty and grace on ice. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir.

I could do this every weekend.

Could I sound anymore like a 12 year old girl?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mom, Dad, and Grandmom for the greatest birthday present of all time! I loved every minute of last weekend and will never forget it. Love you! 

For Kathryn.

I hope she will forgive me for the belated birthday dedication, but this blog post is dedicated to my dear friend Kathryn who celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday.

The most exciting thing about Kathryn's birthday this year is that she was celebrating it back home in Canada! It was fantastic having one of my best university friends home again. In September, Kathryn made the brave journey to Scotland to complete her masters at the University of St. Andrews. After a tearful goodbye on her last evening in Canada, Kathryn and I have been able to keep in touch via Skype on a weekly basis. Those Skype dates once a week are one of the things I look most forward to after a busy day at school.

Last week, Kathyrn arrived home again! Tuesday evening we sat on my couch and talked for hours and enjoyed each others company without a computer screen, thousands of miles, and a four hour time difference between us. On Wednesday Kathryn, the boys, and I went to Snooty Fox for delicious food and a beer or two.

On Friday the Holy Cross crew went to the Cellar for more food and more beers. Our week with Kathryn ended yesterday on her 23rd birthday with a dessert potluck and a surprise party.

What Kathryn thought was going to be a small gathering with cookies and treats turned into a surprise party with Harry Potter ice cream cake and some of Kathryn's closest and dearest friends. I have NEVER successfully planned a surprise party. Kathryn assures me she had no idea, and from the look on her face when her friends appeared from around the corner, I'm pretty certain she was shocked. Success!

So, in honour of my great friend Kathryn, here are some of the reasons she is such a fantastic and dear friend:

~ She has to be one of the bravest people I know. She's always willing to try new things, put herself out there, and experience as much as she can in her youth. She is a role model to me and to many other people in her community.

~ She'll put up with your cheesy movie collection, as long as you agree to watch kick ass action movies in return.

~ She drives a motorcycle, shaved her head for cancer patients, and has a black belt. I feel safe around her :)

~ She thinks of you when she's away in Italy and brings you home a thoughtful gift.

~ When you are in your most vulnerable and insecure state, she opens her heart and makes you feel at home. Thanks Kathryn, for being my first university friend. I couldn't have gotten through those first few difficult months at STU without you.

~ She knits. Enough said.

~ Her nerdiness warms my heart (love you). She knows how to be herself and that's something to admire.

~ She gives the best hugs in the world.

Buda, it has been fantastic having you home again. I am so blessed and fortunate to have a friend as generous, brave, kind hearted, and beautiful (inside and out) as you. You have helped shape who I am today, and if nothing else, I'm glad I came to university because I got to meet and become the greatest of friends with you. 

Love, Pest. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Merry Christmas to You.

I realize that Christmas has come and gone almost 4 weeks ago, but I'm only just getting the opportunity to sit down and write about my Christmas and holiday vacation now. Life has been busy with birthdays and school beginning again, and since returning from Florida I feel like I can finally catch my breath this week. So here I am, on January 18th, finally writing about Christmas 2011 so I can forever remember.

This was a monumental Christmas to say the least. The first Christmas without my Grandad. The anxiety and stress surrounding the month of December and the lead up to Christmas was experienced in some fashion every day of December. I remember when Amanda and I went out to scout prices and the quality of Christmas trees in the beginning days of December. That same day, we also looked for Christmas decorations and planned for other Christmas extravaganzas. I had a minor melt down at the end of the night because it was the first time that it kind of hit me…this was going to be a different and strange Christmas. My family's first Christmas without our grandfather, father, father-in-law, brother, and husband. It still makes me anxious thinking about it, and Christmas has come and gone four weeks ago.

So, the weeks of December passed one by one. Christmas shopping happened, and it was a reminder that the joke gifts of large jars of pickles and "Clappers" were gone. They were only but memories; memories that I cherish everyday, but miss nonetheless. Terribly. Despite the anxiety and stress that I felt leading up to Christmas, I was excited and so looking forward to the entire family being together for the first time since his funeral. If there is anything I learned from Grandad's illness and demise is that I couldn't have gotten through it without the constant love and support of my family. I recently wrote in my journal that: "I find it peculiar, but comforting all the same, how a family can grow closer when they are in the process of losing one their own." I know deep down in my heart, and I could certainly feel it Christmas morning, that Grandad was there watching us and smiling, because what could have been a sad and depressing day was joyful, full of laughter (and tears), and love.

So, let me tell you about my family Christmas.

After my internship ended, I ventured to my Grandmom's house on the 22nd of December to help with Christmas baking, cleaning, and preparing for a house full of family that was to arrive on Christmas Eve. I have never in my life done so much baking in 24 hours, and I loved it!

One thing Grandmom said prior to Christmas was that she wanted it to stay as relatively the same with the same traditions as we have always had. And that's just what we did.

Christmas Eve dinner at Uncle Mark and Aunt Carolin's with a meal consisting of cannelloni, seafood lasagna, homemade bread, snow squares, and lots of wine! With special guests Uncle Kevin and my Grammy D (from my Dad's side of the family) and Carolin's parents Joan and Bill. The evening ended with a hilarious and rousing game of "Taboo." Exactly how we always do Christmas Eve.

Then there was Christmas day. A long, jam packed, and wonderful day! I'll let the pictures tell the story…

Christmas tree and gifts on Christmas morning 
Dad excited about his new leaf blower!
And here begins the Farwell-Dickinson Christmas joke gifts...
An elf hat that sings and dances,
Everyone had a turn. 
Brad and Uncle Mark - What a duo. 

Brad thought that stirring the gravy would get him out
of doing the dishes. False.
Mmm. Mmm. 

And that's our Christmas. Wonderful company, memories were made, gifts were exchanged, laughs were had, and so were tears. But I can say with confidence that Grandad would be proud of us. He was remembered every minute that day with love. 

A Merry Christmas to you Grandad. Love, Your #1 Granddaughter. xoxo. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's Friday (Friday)

Hello all!

What a great week this has been. I celebrated my birthday this week, and it was FANTASTIC! It was exactly what I wanted. Something small with not a lot of fuss.

Here are some things that made me super happy this week (channeling my inner Amanda):

~ Coming back to the city. Though it meant starting classes again, I love being back with my friends and in my 2nd home.

~ My birthday was this week. Turning 23 didn't impact me as much as I thought it would. It just sort of breezed on by. Couldn't ask for anything less :)

~ Thoughtful and touching birthday cards from friends and family. This one from my Grammy D. really warmed my heart:
 "You've always been a very special graddaughter
and your caring and thoughtfulness
are appreciated now more than ever. 

Even though you're busy, 
you take time to give 
a lot of happiness - 
it's no wonder 
you're loved so much."


~ I got an amazing birthday surprise from my friends on Wednesday. What I thought was going to be a small and quaint birthday meal with 4 friends turned into a surprise birthday meal with 12 great friends! My first "surprise" birthday party - and I loved it! I couldn't stop smiling the whole time, and I've been bragging up my amazing friends to my family ever since :) 

Photos from the surprise birthday dinner Wednesday night! 

~ A 2 hour Skype date with Kathryn on Wednesday. Beyond excited for her to arrive back in the city on Monday! 

~ A 2.5 hour Skype date with Cara on Thursday. I love skyping with Cara because I leave feeling warm and fuzzy inside and really good about myself. Thanks friend <3

~ Naps. There truly is nothing better then a good and solid nap. 

Here's to a great week, and what looks like it's going to be a great weekend! 


Shout out to my amazing and wonderful friend Katie who turns 23 today! 

Here are just a few reasons why I love this girl so much: 

  • She'll help you stalk your brother around the high school during his freshmen year - just to pester and bother him…and maybe embarrass him too! 
  • She has an amazing sense of humour, and finds the lightheartedness in every situation. 
  • Even though she was a band nerd, she stuck by this choir nerd all 4 years of high school. 
  • She put up with my fear of moving away from home and my constant whining and begging that she not move to Ottawa after high school.
  • When she did end up going to Ottawa, she surprises you when you are at your lowest of lows when she comes home for a long weekend. 
  • What I have discovered after my birthday earlier this week, she is an amazing gift giver! Please refer to the photo below: 
  • Sleepovers. So many sleepovers. 
  • Frozen pizzas. So many frozen pizzas. 
  • Dance parties. So many dance parities. (No pageant queen will ever match our mad skills). 
  • The Johnville Bonneville. <3
  • No matter how long it's been since we last talked or have seen each other in person, we always can reconnect and end up right back were our friendship began. Love! 
Happiest of birthday's to you Katie. I'm glad that you were around to celebrate mine on Monday, and I'm glad I'm able to help celebrate yours tonight. Thanks for being a best friend. xo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Birthday Recap.

My 23rd birthday has come and gone. It was a fantastic day that consisted of EXACTLY what I wanted my birthday to consist of. I didn't want any major fuss - just a cake, friends, and family. And that's exactly what I got.

The on-going joke with my family is how long can we stretch our birthdays out for. Correct me if I'm wrong family, but I think the world record goes to Aunt Carolin for making her birthday last almost 6 months. This doesn't imply that we celebrate everyday - it just means that over those 6 months, Aunt Carolin was still receiving a present here or there.

I'd have to say that my birthday started just after Christmas.  This was when I got my birthday present from Mom, Dad, and Grandmom. Tickets to the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. This is something I've always wanted to do. I've been to Ice Shows that professional skaters were cast in, but I've never seen a professional figure skating competition. In a week and half, I can check that off the bucket list. Thanks Mom, Dad, and Grandmom.

Then, my family and I went to Florida during the first week of January (more on this to come). While there, we had a birthday supper at my all-time favourite restaurant: The Olive Garden. I can't get enough of this restaurant. It combines 3 of my favourite things: Italy, pasta, and wine! I had a delicious meal that consisted of 2 garden salads, a breadstick, a glass of red wine, a huge helping of steak and gorgonzola alfredo, and a delicious 3 bite desert of chocolate and caramel heaven. Mmm! I'm drooling just thinking about this meal. Can I go back, please?

Sunday I had a small family supper before coming back to the city. Roast beef dinner, McCain cake, and beautiful and touching cards from Mom, Dad, Grandmom, and Grammy. (Thanks for the Irving gift card Grammy!)

Then there was yesterday, which was my actual birthday. Like I said, I don't like a lot of fuss surrounding my birthday. All I wanted was just a small gathering that consisted of food, cake, and friends. This is how the day played out:

  • Promptly at midnight on January 9th, I had a joyful and excited friend run into my room and wish me a Happy Birthday. Thanks Amanda <3 A happy and wonderful way to start the day!
  • Unfourtunately, my birthday generally falls on the day before, the day of, or the day after the first day of classes. This year it fell on the first day of classes. Yay! So, I had two classes in the morning and was done by 12pm. The rest of the day was mine to enjoy! 
  • Amanda took me out for lunch at Relish - one of my favourite restaurants in the city! I had the feature burger: "California Dreaming" Delicious! Thanks, Amanda :) 
  • Caught up on Grey's Anatomy, Modern Family, and How I Met Your Mother. 
  • Read beautiful birthday blog posts from Sara and Amanda. Two of the most thoughtful and heartwarming gifts I've ever gotten on my birthday <3 
  • Watched Ellen Degeneres and gossiped about Beyonce and Jay-Z's baby girl with my roommate Amelie. 
  • Phone calls from Mom, Brad, and Grammy. 
  • Birthday celebrations with great friends. This consisted of catching up, cake, "Here's to the time…", thoughtful cards and presents (and a couple gag cards and gifts that had me giggling up a storm). 
And now, I sit on my side of the couch along side Amanda writing this blog post and thinking about getting some sleep. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I loved my birthday this year. Celebrations will continue on Wednesday when I go out for supper to another one of my favourite restaurants in the city: The Garrison. 

Thanks friends and family for making this birthday a memorable one :)

Friends Amelie and Katie.
Amanda's artful gift to me. <3
Friends enjoying cake. 
More lovely friends who helped bring back some great
memories during "Here's to the time…"

Useful gift cards from Grammy, Matt, Amy, and Mary-Dan. 
Wonderful cards from friends and family <3
Katie's hilarious gift - she informed me that these are the new
and best way to grade students these days. 

Monday, January 9, 2012


Well, I'm back! After a two and a half week hiatus. My apologies for my slacking on the updating of this blog. But I have good excuses. It's been a busy holiday vacation, but more about that later…

Today, I turn 23. How did this happen?

I remember when I turned 20 - it seemed like my world was caving in. I think I had a minor break down. I despised turning 20. Never would I be a teenager again - I had to grow up.

Now, I'm 23. And I'm not really sure how I feel about it. As I'm writing this, I don't feel any different then I did yesterday, or the day before that, or a week ago. There have been some big changes in my life through age 22. I graduated university, I'm going back to university to further my education, my Grandad passed away, and I got a tattoo. I've met some amazing new people, and further developed my relationships with some of the greatest friends I have. I took the next step into "adulthood" and am living in my first house. Mind you, I'm renting from the university and I can't really renovate to make the house my own - but I think my roommates and I have done a pretty fantastic job making this house a home.

A part of me would like to take this blog post and write down some goals for my 23rd year. But, I hesitate doing this - because I don't want to let myself down. So, all I'll say is this. May my 23rd year bring happiness, adventure, hope, joy, and love.

A picture from my "dreaded" 20th birthday. Despite my horrible attitude towards entering my 20's, my friends made it one of my most memorable birthdays to date. Thanks friends <3