OK well I didn’t blog much this year… let’s just do a quick recap of this year and move on…..

The year started off great, we moved into our own house, went camping with friends, and training was going well leading up to the first competition of the year. We had a really nice visit with Kyla and then… everything got cancelled.

Scott had to go down to reduced work hours, and I started training alone in the cold cold garage. At first lockdown was ok, we played all the board games! Cooked all the foods! Did online trivia! Watched Ben Folds live on Youtube every weekend! Life was cozy and novel. An introverts dream.

A couple of months of lockdown worked enough that they started to relax the restrictions. We had a few weeks of freedom. Scott’s work went back to normal. We saw our friends. We had family dinner. We went out for brunch. We planned some things!

Then cases started rising exponentially and they put us in a very tough lockdown, with a 5km radius restriction and only 1 hour of outside time per day. Cases went down but they kept us locked in. For literally months. It was really hard. I definitely got depressed, especially while seeing the rest of the world frolicking around restriction-free.

Finally, finally after WEEKS of zero new covid cases, they started to let us out. We could have picnics! We could travel further than 5 km! The gym reopened!!!!!!! Cases stayed down and we went back to nearly normal life! We went to Bendigo! We went camping! We don’t have to wear masks! It’s amazing!

This December has actually felt like a normal silly season. Even though I find it really overwhelming I’m trying to do as much as possible while we can because Covid is back in Australia (in Sydney) and we still don’t have vaccine here, and who knows what’s going to happen in January. I made a list of Freedom Goals and we just checked off the last thing last week: buy a new couch (as Rosemarie put it: “we spent so long sitting that our couch was permanently saggy so we bought a couch suitable for old age“). Can’t wait for it to arrive in 19 weeks. :/


Rosemarie’s Questions From Last Year:

PBs: snatch 46 kg -> 47 kg (in the garage, where everything feels 5 kg heavier soooo….), clean & jerk 54 kg -> 55 kg…. which is also not that big of an improvement… but I actually full-cleaned it which is a major major win. I only did one competition this year, last week, without peaking, where I did 42/44/46, and 49/52/55. That was a 3 kg snatch comp PB, a 1 kg clean & jerk comp PB, and a 4 kg total PB… my first time with a 3 digit total (101 kg). Even though my numbers barely went up, I am actually very proud of what I managed to do this year, training alone in the garage for 6 months, more than 110 sessions. I have a new coach since Lockdown 2.0 and it has been working very well. Weightlifting is really good at the moment.

Books: I read a lot this year, to try and relax before bed.

  • The Wonder – Emma Donohue – Intriguing, couldn’t wait to find out what happens, but I thought the ending was just a bit too quick and convenient imo.
  • Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid – I really liked this book. The main character was just so chill. My favourite line was “May I please have an Uber and a snack?”
  • This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay – Silly stories about being a doctor. Amusing, sometimes gave me work flashbacks.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens – Started off very heartwarming, then got more intense, I enjoyed it.
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara – One of those long books that follows a group of people for a very long time. At times very hard to read, made me feel super uncomfortable, but very good too.
  • Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney – An interesting book about affairs.
  • The Stand – Stephen King – Extremely long, took me 3 months to finish. The first part was pretty terrible to read during a real life pandemic. Was entertaining but didn’t change my life.
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney – Someone else called it a “profoundly lonely and depressing love story” and I guess I agree with that.
  • Hotels Of North America – Rick Moody – I don’t know who recommended this to me but I thought it was annoying.
  • Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee – A memoir about an Australian lady while she worked as a judge’s associate in all sorts of horrible sexual assault cases, and then her own experience in the Australian justice system

New Board Games:

  • Wingspan – A very pretty game about birds. We love it. We just got the Oceania expansion a couple weeks ago but I haven’t had the mental energy to try it out yet!
  • Orleans + Trade & Intrigue expansion – The base game is ok but it’s much better with the expansion. Unique game with little bags of tokens. I would really like to play this with 3 or 4 players
  • Castles of Burgundy – Fun point salad game with one billion little pieces. I forget how to play every time but once you remember it’s fun again.
  • Tiny Towns – Simple strategic game, the best type! We had a lot of fun playing this with Rosemarie over video chat during lockdown.

Great New Recipes: enh I already posted about the fun things we cooked in Lockdown 1.0, and after that I got depressed and pretty much only made 10 minute simple dinners.

Adventures: ummmm… yeah not really. Everything got cancelled.


2019 Final Thoughts – 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020

LOL.

Last Years Goals:

  • More nice foods – yes, we cooked all sorts of crazy delicious things during lockdown 1.0, and also had some fantastic takeaway
  • More rehab – yes, had plenty of time for foam rolling
  • More thrift shops – nope, they were closed/I don’t go to the store ever
  • More art – yes, I did a lot of cross stitching, painting, cartooning
  • More friends – lol nope, didn’t even see my friend who lives around the corner for months because it wasn’t allowed
  • More pictures – nope, barely took any
  • Less worrying – NOPE. worried x 493879348

2020 Finals Thoughts – Super grateful that we had our own comfortable house to lockdown in. Grateful that neither of us lost our jobs. Grateful for my home gym and remote coach. Grateful that the hard work all Victorians did during the winter lockdowns paid off and we actually get to enjoy our summer Covid-free (so far). Come on vaccine. I would really like to see my family again.

Goals For Next Year:

Whatever man. Just survive.

Rosemarie requested that I write about PBs, books I read, new board game reviews, and favourite recipes of 2019, so here I go…

PBs: snatch 41 kg -> 46 kg (in training), clean & jerk 49 kg -> 54 kg. The bigger accomplishment has been fixing my back enough that I can do all movements again! I think my PB potential is very good for 2020.

Books (TBH I’m not sure if I read these in 2019 or earlier but here are the last few books I read):

  • How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie – some of the chapters at the beginning were useful but then it got a bit too religious to me
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a long one!! About the lives of a few students. I love really long detailed books if the story/characters/world is interesting
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – again, a pretty long one about a boy who loses his mom and ends up with a priceless painting. They made a movie of it but the book is better
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – about a boy who wants to be a girl, and a family that loves her. A nice book
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – pretty much the male version of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project, entertaining
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – in my opinion it’s a corny book about racism written by a white lady for white ladies. :/ I guess that’s better than no book about racism?

New Board Games:

  • Drop It – a very simple but fun game where you try to drop pieces into the right spots to score lots of points
  • Azul – very easy game to teach people, can get brutal when you get stuck with tons of extra pieces
  • 7 Wonders Expansions – fun on the ipad but a bit too much to keep track of irl
  • 7 Wonders Duel – my very favourite two player game, I’m still not tired of it 10/10
  • Agricola All Creatures Big and Small – ok two player Agricola spin-off
  • Camel Up – fun light game, everyone loves the gimicky dice rolling pyramid and the KRAZY KAMELS
  • Jaipur – two player camel betting card game that we got for Christmas… first impressions are good, Scott likes it a lot
  • Puerto Rico – not as hard as Agricola, kinda fun that you get to do stuff even when it’s not your turn
  • Sagrada – quite simple game with NINETY dice, tricky fun
  • Terraforming Mars – very complicated game with lots of pieces, a bit hard to play well but still fun to play even when you don’t really know what’s going on

Great recipes of 2019:

Praline Almonds – I used the recipe in my ice cream book but it’s basically the same as this (except I used almonds). This was one of the craziest things I’ve ever cooked! It magically goes from a pot of watery almonds to a pot of sandy almonds to a pot of candy almonds. Sprinkled with a bit of salt… so delicious.

No Knead Bread in the cast iron pot – so easy!!! I use this recipe. I did try whole wheat once but it didn’t turn out as delicious as pure white.

Dutch Baby! – so visually spectacular, so easy! I’ve made sweet ones with fruit and ice cream toppings, and also savoury ones with smoked salmon, rocket and parmesan. This is my go-to sweet recipe.

Fish Tacos – Coles just started selling corn tortillas so we can make delicious tacos at home, like this easy Pinch of Yum recipe. I’ve made it with basa or shrimp. I love the garlicky sauce.

Adventures:

We didn’t leave the country in 2019. Actually we barely took any days off at all. The good news is we have enough holiday to go to North America in May 2020 AND possibly Fiji for our 10 (!!) year anniversary later in the year too! 2020 is gonna be gooooooood.

We did check out some new places in Victoria/Australia, here are a few highlights:

A very windy 90 Mile Beach in Gippsland.

A relaxing and fun few days of camping/day hiking at Wilson’s Prom.

On platypus watch in the Otways.

Day off at the Peninsula Hot Springs.

Whale watching on North Stradbroke Island.

Final thoughts: 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020. 

MORE: art, friends, gains, nice food, pictures

LESS: worrying, Picross

I quit my data entry job, kinda. Working 55+ hours a week at two jobs was really bumming me out, so after much deliberation I told my boss that I was too busy to work there any more. It was a hard decision because once my training at the hospital is done, my hours will drop off a lot. Thankfully he said if I want to come back later… I can! Great news!

Working at the hospital is going great. I am pretty much working full time until the new year. I am getting tons of training, and also covering some vacation. It’s been nice working on my own. Injections seem SO MUCH EASIER now that no one is watching me, haha! So far I have done a week on the MIBI cameras, and two weeks of hotlab training. Next week I will be doing cardio.

Skeleton last weekend was super fun. I was pretty nervous before the first session. I wasn’t sure what the coach was going to get us to do. Thankfully he suggested doing a few runs from Maple Leaf (curves 11-16) and then deciding if we want to move back up to Lower Ladies (curves 7-16). (Here is a little track map/infographic.)

I did three runs from Maple Leaf. The first one was crap because I was way too far forward on my sled. Then the second and third one were awesome, so I moved up to Lower Ladies. I did three more runs from there, beating all the boys, with a top speed of 117.51 km/hr. Then my neck was too tired so I skipped the last run.

The next day I started from Lower Ladies right away. I did four runs from there, beating all the boys again. The track was a little slower, so my top speed was only 116.09 km/hr. After four runs my neck was tired so I did the last three runs from leisurely Maple Leaf. Even though Maple Leaf seems so slow and boring I think it’s still worth doing because that is more track time for me. I can use those runs to think about things like making sure my heels are touching and what the corners look like.

I can’t wait until the next session because I am finally figuring out where I want to be in each corner (last year I was just along for the ride, haha!), and should be able to improve my times and speeds a bit. It’s been hard for us to get ice time though, because of those dang Olympics. Fingers crossed I get to go again by mid-December.

Morgan and I had a nice ladies night with wine and a fire and a movie and popcorn.

I finished a few more audiobooks since my last post.

  • Paper Towns by John Green, a YA novel that was entertaining, but nothing remarkable.
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth, the third book in the Divergent series. I heard some people say they didn’t like it, but I thought it was fine.
  • 1984 by George Orwell, which I enjoyed, once I figured out that this was NOT the book with animals.
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, a pretty boring book about small things that turned small things into BIG things.
  • Steve Jobs – The Biography by Walter Isaacson, an interesting book that convinced me that I really do not like Steve Jobs. He was such a jerk to so many people!! And all those characteristics of Apple products that I strongly dislike (closed systems, glass screens, high prices etc. etc.) were pretty much all due to Steve Jobs himself. I would not have got along with him in real life.

Kevin asked me at work the other day how Scott was, and I replied “I have no idea.” because 1) I was only home for about 3 minutes in the last two weeks, and 2) he is growing some kind of horrific mustache and I refuse to look at him.

We have to clean out the pantry this weekend because we leave for Hawaii on Wednesday after work and then Rosemarie will be coming home with us! As far as I know she will stay with us in December and then find her own place for January. I’m looking forward to lots of sister time next month!!

Also HAWAII!!!! I can’t wait, I can’t wait!!!! (said Arthur)

I haven’t blogged about anything non-food in almost a month!! OOPS!! So now I will attempt to catch up in one giant update post.

We bought a car!! It’s a 2005 Subaru Impreza wagon. It has a fair number of km on it but it’s in very good condition. We are very happy with it so far! PS insurance is so expensive here!!!!! It doesn’t help that I’ve only had my BC license for three years so I don’t get a big discount. :( The car will make getting to early morning hospital shifts (if/when I ever get a job) and Whistler a lot easier though.

Also Brett (Scott’s bro) is coming to visit in less than a week! It sounds like his visit is going to be spent watching as many different types of North American sports as possible. It will be great to see him here, and I know Scott is really looking forward to it.

Our TV is broken. It still has a red light on the front but instead of turning on it just makes clicking noises. Anyone know anything about this or what’s the best way to get it fixed? It’s a Samsung and had a two year warranty but it has been 25 months. GROAN.

I passed my exam (not sure if I already wrote about that already), and graduated. Still no job though.

The graduation was small and somewhat annoying (we had to go four hours early to rehearse standing up and sitting down while being sniped at by a lady we didn’t know) but it was very nice to see our class again. Only one more person has been hired since the end of the summer, bringing the grand total to 3 out of 14. Stuff is definitely happening right now though… lots of internal staff rearrangement… which hopefully opens up a couple more casual jobs for us. Cross your fingers for me please!

I am grateful for being able to go straight back into my old typing job. At least I am working full time, making (some) money and keeping busy. A lot of my classmates are also looking for side jobs and struggling with that a bit so I am relieved it was simple for me to find something. I asked my boss about continuing to work there in conjunction with working at a hospital (theoretically) and he said he needs me for a fixed schedule, which doesn’t really work as I need to basically be on call for the hospital and that is my priority. BUT, he also said I could work in the evenings, so I will most likely do that a few days a week.

We went to my friend Tanie’s house a couple weeks ago to play Ascension (with 80 million expansions). I didn’t do very well but it was still fun. Scott downloaded the game onto his iPad (surprisingly it is free), and since then has played approximately 90,000 games (±500). That probably means that next time I will do REALLY bad.


Lesley came over after graduation for a games marathon. She moved to Cranbrook for a nuc med job so we don’t see her often any more. It was good to hang out, I missed her. We played multiple games each of Settlers, Carcassonne and Wasabi and drank multiple drinks, hehe. Then we had extreme couponing Church’s Chicken (coupons on coupons on coupons) for dinner. Thanks Lesley for treating us!

A Dutch friend I met on Fraser Island in Australia came to visit Canada and stayed with us for one night. I already mentioned this in my daily dinners post but her and her bf rented a car and drove from Vancouver to Alaska to Whitehorse to Banff and back to Vancouver. Such a cool trip, I would love to do that some day!! They saw lots of cool animals and beautiful landscapes. We went out for sushi dinner. Femke’s first time eating sushi and we took her to the Eatery?! Banana sushi was the hit of the evening. If she ever has regular sushi she’s going to think it’s so boring.

We went to the UBC apple festival for the fourth year in a row. It’s a tradition! We went with Gillian and Bryan again (this could have also gone under the Friends category!!) and enjoyed the much less damp weather from last year. I was worried my face would get all itchy from eating so many apples but surprisingly it didn’t. Scott and I bought a bag of apples each but mine haven’t been very good. I do enjoy a soft apple but my Fiesta apples are all bruised and marked and a little gross inside. Disappointing considering how much they cost. We also bought a sampler pack of three types of balsamic reductions, and a piece of apple pie (for Scott).

Vancouver has had CRAZY fog for the past few weeks. Our lovely view of the mountains turns in to total greyness for 20 hours of the day. It looks kinda cool sometimes, but is also very very damp. This blog post has a whole bunch of really cool Vancouver fog photos.

The skeleton season is starting and I am SO IKSIDID!!! I’m going up to Whistler today to watch the Canadian selection races (where they decide which level of competition circuit each athlete will get to do this season–the first step for them to qualify for the Olympics). I’m excited because all levels of skeleton people will be there and I already follow A LOT of them on Twitter… and now I’ll get to see them all in real life! Some other countries have started doing their selection races too and it’s really interesting (to me) to see how they all progressed over very intense pre-Olympic summer training. I could ramble on much longer about this but I don’t think anyone else is as big of a skeleton nerd as me, haha.

As for myself, I will be going up in a couple weeks for my first skeleton school of the season. I am excited, and scared. Can’t wait to fly down that track though, and I’m super super curious to see how much my weight lifting and core work has paid off.

I have been doing a lot of different fitness stuff lately! Last week I did two weights sessions and two cardio sessions (I never want to do cardio, so this was an accomplishment), and this week I did one weights, one cardio, and two bikram yoga sessions.

My 10 class yoga groupon is about to expire so I finally went to redeem it. I suck at it so far, but that is to be expected as I have never done yoga at all before. Today was a bit easier than Thursday and I imagine my next class will be even better. PS holy moly, sweat was pouring off me like an actual rain shower. DRIP DRIP DRIP DRIP. I like how nice and loose and relaxed I feel after the class.

We’ve been really busy lately, and my awkward 10am-6pm work shift has made it pretty hard to squeeze in exercise, but I am getting better at finding time. It astounds me how much my attitude has changed in the last 6 months, and that I actually want to make exercising a priority. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME??!!

Since my last book post on October 3rd, I finished (via audiobook):

  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, her first book, a thriller like her others
  • How to Approach and Flirt With Women by Carlos Xuma, because why not, an insight into what dudes think about
  • Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, a historical novel about two cousins, and comics
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, the world’s longest book, which I found pretty tedious
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green, a YA novel to revive me after Infinite Jest. Short and sweet.

And I started Paper Towns, also by John Green. He really loves the manic pixie dream girl type, doesn’t he. :/

That list looks extremely short to me for nearly a whole month, but Infinite Jest took TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS of 7.5 hour shifts to finish. Man that is a long book!! I didn’t even really like it that much, but by the time I realized it was boring I was already about 1/4 of the way through and then I just wanted to finish it for the sake of finishing it. There were some interesting parts, I liked the story lines of the half way house people, and the kids at tennis school, but a lot of the rest was zzzzz.

DID YOU KNOW, that if you don’t have a Costco membership you can just get someone to buy you a giftcard (with your money), and then you just show that at the front entrance and they let you in! And then if you buy more than your giftcard you can just pay the rest in cash. Loophole!! We did this and got veggie burgers and base layer and jalapeno poppers and soap and all sorts of other junk. But they didn’t have any samples at all and I was sad.

OK I’m out!

Working at the data centre has been fine. It’s very boring and repetitive but it’s also very easy and low stress. My audiobooks get me through the day.

I already finished:

  • Gulp by Mary Roach, a book about the entire alimentary canal, from eating to pooping. It was interesting, and at times gross.
  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, a book set in 1790 about slavery and stuff.
  • Freakanomics by Steven Levitt, a book using economics to explain random stuff. It was interesting I guess but I can’t trust anything anyone says if it’s only based on one person’s research.
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris, another one of his usual books. Entertaining.

and I started Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn today.

I seriously love love LOVE that part of the job. Who else can say they finished four books in four days?! If any of you readers have boring jobs I highly recommend audiobooks.

Although fingers crossed I get a nuc med job soon…

Until that happens I will continue to paint my nails multiple neon colours. Those awesome food nail decals are from my internet friend Sara M Lyon’s Etsy shop, btw. They were pretty easy to apply and are super cute! I love everything that she makes.

The week ahead:

I’m going to the Fraser Valley Food Show this weekend, as a food blogger. I get to be driven there by a car service. FANCY. Hopefully we make it in time for the sausage making competition. I haven’t been to this food show before but it sounds pretty similar to Eat! Vancouver and Eat! Vancouver is AWESOME. So I’m excited.

I also need to figure out how to accomplish things around a 10AM-6PM shift. I meant to go to the gym in the morning before work but I’ve been semi-sick all week and it’s only happened once. I love sleeping in! Problem is, by the time I get home from work and eat dinner and check my internets things it’s dark and late and I’ve wasted away the whole day. Hopefully next week is more productive. I woke up before my alarm today so that’s a good sign.