Welcome Home, Ellie!

For those not following my daily Instagram posts or Snapchat stories…

WE GOT A DOG!!!!

Please meet our sweet girl, Ellie!

Ellie naps 23 hours a day

Ellie is a four year old chihuahua mix who loves napping on the couch and giving lots of kisses. She’s 12.4 lbs (we just had her weighed at the vet) and has the most adorable little snaggle tooth. Ellie is still a bit nervous with all of the new surroundings but she’s already the sweetest thing and absolutely has my heart. Case in point: on her third night with us, she finally worked up the courage to come into our bedroom. For a good half hour she ran from one side of the bed to the other, putting her paws up and hoping one of us would lift her into bed. We didn’t want her up in the bed so decided not to lift her. And while I know that was the right decision and Ellie wasn’t negatively affected, I did lie there crying that she wanted up on the bed and we weren’t letting her. Poor Colin thought I was losing it!

Showing off her new name & collar!

So how did we end up with a dog?

About two years ago, shortly after Colin and I met, I began fostering a sweet anxious dog named Waffles. I was completely in love. But I knew Waffles wasn’t going to be a good fit for me longterm. She was very anxious, and needed someone with her 24/7. She would cry and paw at the door when I went to the bathroom. Luckily, I worked in a pet friendly office but I wasn’t sure if that would be the case forever. It was stressful to have a dog at the office and to always have to pass on after work drinks or activities because Waffles needed to go out and get home. I loved my month of fostering Waffles but was very happy when she found her furever family.

Look at that wink!

When Colin and I were looking for an apartment, we were ideally looking for something pet friendly, because we thought we might have to take in Colin’s family cat. But we quickly learned in Vancouver’s crazy rental market, you can’t be too picky. So we stopped prioritizing pet friendly places yet still managed to find one. Our building is completely pet friendly – there’s even a grass terrace on the floor below us perfect for Ellie’s walks.

So once we moved in together, we talked about maybe getting a dog as a Christmas present to each other. We both grew up with dogs and with me working from home, a dog could be a real possibility. We figured we should get settled first and then introduce a fur baby. But then we thought, it would be a lot more fun to get a dog in the summer when the weather is good instead of in the cold and rainy winter. So we were thinking about summer. But then I joined a bunch of dog adoption sites on Facebook….whoops!

In the first month of us living together, I was constantly sending Colin pictures of adorable dogs I was seeing on these dog adoption sites. The wonderful guy that he is, he put up with all of the pictures and would listen to me talking about the cute pups I was seeing online. We talked about fostering, but decided it might be too hard to part with a dog.

And then I saw a picture of Ellie (previously named Colleen). She was the perfect size and perfect age; we wanted a smaller dog since we’re in a one bedroom apartment and an adult dog so we didn’t have to worry about training. We also wanted a dog who was fairly low energy, since we’re not big athletes, and one who wasn’t going to bark or have any behaviour issues. Ellie fit the bill perfectly. I sent the photos to Colin and he agreed that she looked great. And then I took it a step too far: I posted on the Facebook page asking if she was still available and ended up chatting with her current foster mom. Ellie’s foster mom was telling me all of the wonderful things about her and I knew she was right for us. I sent Colin a screenshot of our conversation with the title “REMEMBER YOU LOVE ME.”

She loves her belly rubs!

Colin, who was only sitting in the other room, came over to my desk. I was hiding my face full of nerves, guilt and embarrassment that I had let it go this far. I nervously asked Colin if he would be okay if we put in an application for her and he, the sweet guy that he is, agreed. He knew how much I would love having a dog around when I’m home alone and saw how perfect Ellie would be for us.

So from there we applied, did a home check, visited Ellie at her foster’s house and then picked her up on Monday! We’re currently doing the foster-to-adopt program; we foster Ellie for two weeks and if it works out, we then adopt her. We’re 5 days in and it’s definitely working out. On her first day, Ellie stayed in her crate all day long and we struggled to get her out for a walk. But by day two, she was out on the couch with us. Now she’s next to us all the time, exploring the other rooms of the apartment and she’s even over her fear of the elevator!

We’re really loving having Ellie around. It’s been an adjustment for sure – I’m waking up much earlier than I used to and spending more time working from the couch so Ellie can sit next to me. As I type this, she has her little head on my leg, fast asleep. It’s the cutest thing! Once I publish this, I’ll have to wake her up for her last walk of the day. Fingers crossed she does her business and we don’t wake up to any surprises on our floor!


PS: We chose the name Ellie for a couple of reasons. First of all, we really didn’t like the name Colleen. Colin has an aunt named Colleen, I have a friend named Coleen, it’s very close to “Colin” and is just a strange name for a dog. We toyed with a few ideas and realized we wanted a more human sounding name (so no silly puns or naming her after food). We settled on Ellie in honour of two people: Ellen Degeneres, because both Ellie and Ellen are very kind and give lots of love, and Eliza Schuyler, one of the protagonists from our favourite musical, Hamilton. Of course, I almost never use her real name preferring nicknames like Smelly Ellie or Ells A Bells.

Night night, my sweet girl!

Welcome to Our Home!

It has been exactly one week since Colin and I moved into our new place in New Westminster!

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And I’d have to say, I think we’re doing very well for our first week together. We had the place all unpacked by Day 2. And in this first week we’ve managed to get rid of all of the empty boxes, go on multiple trips to IKEA and Walmart, grocery shop, clean, hang pictures and not kill each other 🙂

Our first night here was exhausting. We spent all day moving from my house, moving from Colin’s house, unpacking the essentials and cleaning. Luckily we had some awesome friends help us, but the 28th was still a very tiring day. We both felt like we were staying at someone else’s house for those first few nights. But now it is really starting to feel like home.

I love that our bed is finally not shoved up against a wall so we can both have nightstands. I love that we have photos of our friends and family on the wall. I love that we have giant windows which let the sun stream in (on the rare Vancouver spring day where we get sun). I love that we have fresh tulips on the table – a gift from Colin’s mom. I love that we take turn making meals in the kitchen and go grocery shopping together. And I really love that we have a garbage shoot on our floor so we don’t have to go outside to take out the garbage!

Okay, enough rambling! Basically, I am really loving our new home and living with my guy. I’m excited to finish up the last touches we need to settle in, have people over and explore our New West neighbourhood. Here are some shots of our place:

Colin’s desk and our stunning view of a construction site that will be a 40-storey building one day. Yay….

Kitchen table, bookshelf and some artfully arranged photos

Our second bookshelf, which is pretty much all Colin’s

Our collection of Funko Pop Dolls and shot glasses. Do we sound like an 18 year old boy?

Our kitchen! Check out that fancy fridge

The other side of our kitchen. Eventually we’ll get a dishwasher where those bags are sitting

You would not believe how much crap we have shoved into this closet

Our bedroom! Featuring Bear and the curtains that we struggled to put up

My little desk. Grainy photo but we spray painted and papered that desk ourselves

Tulips! I love fresh blooms in the house 🙂

Our bathroom!

Our closet. It was a work of art to get all of our stuff in there

Our couch with some new pillows and our first piece of “artwork” (a print from IKEA, but we like it)

Home sweet home!

A Granville Island Staycation

So I finally got to use the Granville Island Vancouver Tourism package I won back in April. The timing worked out perfectly: my subletter arrived on Monday, I stayed at the hotel Monday – Thursday, and then headed up to Surrey for my final week before Vietnam.

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Welcome to Granville Island!

Arriving at the hotel Monday after work was really blissful. Even though I’ve been to Granville Island countless times, I was excited to just have a little break. I had spent the whole weekend doing an intense deep clean of my apartment in preparation for my subletter and packing up all of my stuff for the hotel, Surrey and Vietnam. It was so nice to put down the heavy bag I had lugged to work, plop onto the super comfortable king sized bed and just have a bit of indulgent relaxation.

Monday night I had the hotel to myself. It’s comical how much I enjoyed sitting crossed legged on the big bed eating fish n’ chips and watching Jeopardy. Those are the joys of hotel life that really thrill me. I ended my first night with a nice long shower and star-fishing in the middle of the bed with the lights out by 10:00pm.

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Best. Bed. Ever.

Unfortunately, going to work the next day wasn’t as fun. It’s hard to have a real staycation when work keeps getting in the way. Staying in a hotel usually means sleeping in so it was upsetting to be leaving my beautiful big bed before 7:30am.

On Tuesday night, Colin met me at the hotel and we headed to Dockside Seafood Restaurant for dinner, courtesy of the $200 Dockside gift card that came with my contest win. I had heard that Dockside was a nice place but Colin and I were both really blown away with the gorgeous decor, stunning view over the water and delicious food. We got the best seat in the house, right by the window, and thoroughly enjoyed our chili shrimp, prime rib and chocolate lava cake dessert.

We continued living our fake rich lives by heading to the hotel spa/health club and watching our TV show “Flash” from the jacuzzi. We had to blast the volume on the TV in order to hear it over the bubbles of the hot tub.

The next day, I headed off to work while Colin enjoyed a proper staycation by spending the day on Granville Island. He got to sleep in, have lunch at the Public Market and wander through all the little shops on the island – I spent the day printing posters and formatting excel sheets, so he clearly won.

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Super blurry pre-show selfie!

But we reunited that night. We went back to Dockside to finish off the rest of the gift card, enjoying a seafood carbonara and Thai bouillabaisse. We then headed over to Vancouver Theatre Sports League’s Improv Show with the ticket voucher that had come with my contest win. I had seen VTSL shows a few times before and usually found them pretty hit or miss. Luckily, the show we saw on Wednesday was definitely a hit! We laughed our heads off and, despite my nervousness when we got sat in the front row, didn’t get picked on by the actors. We ended our night watching “Survivor” while sharing a Toblerone from the vending machine.

And the next morning, I went off to my last day of work at UBC! That part hasn’t really sunk in yet. I imagine I’ll write about it once I’ve been funemployed a little longer and settled into my 12 day stay in Surrey. But I’m really glad I got to start this big time of transition in my life with a nice relaxing staycation on Granville Island with my favourite person!

A little life update

I wanted to share a little life update and some upcoming plans (and, probably, posts) for the summer.

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So, first up, I have an update on the job front. I’ve been working at UBC in Admissions for the last 6-ish months.  However, it’s a contract position that ends in June so I was starting to look for something new. And, I’ve found it! As of May 30th, I will be the Student Services Program Assistant with UBC’s Allard School of Law. I’m excited that I found a position on campus and with more student interaction. It’s a brand new position, so I’m really looking forward to being able to add my input and see where things go.  As well, this job is just one building away from my current job, so I will still be able to stay in touch with old friends.

Yay for employment! This is a full-time on-going position so I don’t have to worry about a contract coming up.  Also, with an on-going position, I become eligible for tuition credits so I can take more of my counselling pre-reqs to one day apply for my Masters in Counselling (maybe? we’ll see!).

Besides a new gig, I’ve got lots of amazing plans upcoming for this summer. When I first came back to Vancouver, after spending the previous 1-2 years adventuring through Swaziland, Australia, Europe and Japan, I was a little disoriented. I was really excited to finish off my degree and begin a more settled life in Vancouver. But I was also itching to get back on a plane, pack a bag and take off somewhere new. I decided that I could still satisfy my travel bug by getting in some local travel.  And I’ve done that: with trips to Seattle, LA, San Francisco, etc. And I’ve got a bunch more planned for this summer!

May: So starting it off, Colin and I will be spending Victoria Day in Victoria!  I have been to Victoria a few times in the past but never overnight (except for work, which doesn’t count). And my favourite part is always the ferry ride there and back where I spend the whole time looking for sea creatures. So I’m excited to see what else Victoria has to offer.  And, outside of travel, Colin and I will also be attending a few concerts in May: Matt Corby and Macklemore!

June: And then in June, Colin and I are heading to Toronto to celebrate Kim and Joe’s wedding! Kimberley is the first of my friends to get married and the first time I’ve been a co-maid of honour so I’m all sorts of excited and nervous.  After the wedding, and a very quick visit in Toronto, we’re trying to plan a short few days in Montreal before coming home to Vancouver.  And we’re also seeing Billy Elliott in June, which I saw a long time ago in Toronto and loved.

July: As soon as we get back from Toronto/Montreal, we have 2 nights to rest and then we’re off to Pender Harbour.  Colin’s family has a place out there and every summer all the relatives come up with their trailers and tents for a little family vacation.  Last year, I got to spend a few days there when I got back from China and it was beautiful.  It was so nice to hang out by the water, sit around a fire and play lawn games.  I learned that I am horrible at horseshoes, terrified of kayaking and probably not ready for any deep sea fishing or paddle boarding.  But, I had an amazing time nonetheless and can’t wait to go up again this year.  And, in more theatre news, I’m seeing Newsies in July as it’s touring in Vancouver for 5 days.

More July: Not set in stone, but Colin and I are planning a roadtrip to Calgary for the Calgary Stampede.  I am super excited because I have never been to Calgary and haven’t done any roadtrips since I was a kid.  We have all of these wonderful places mapped out for our stops and have already begun work on our playlist and list of snacks to bring.  Plus, we’re planning this trip for my birthday weekend, which will be really special.  Hopefully we can get the time off work to make this one happen!

August: For the August long weekend, we’ve got another family trip in the works.  To celebrate Colin’s aunt’s birthday, we’re planning a few nights at a resort in Semiahmoo. I have never been or heard of this place but it sounds like fun and I’m excited for yet another local adventure.

More August: And, two nights after we get back from Semiahmoo, I’m off to Toronto again.  This time, for Andrea and Nader’s wedding.  I’m thrilled to be celebrating with them and to see my friends/family again. I haven’t been home for a while now – I was back in early December – so it’s nice to be going back twice this summer (despite what my wallet will argue).

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And I think that’s it! I am so excited for my new job and summer plans.  Knowing my life, there’s a good chance that some of this will change, things will be added, extended, etc. But that’s sorta the fun of it 🙂

Guess who’s back?

Back again. Riana’s back. Tell a friend.

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Okay, no more Eminem. But yes, I am posting on this blog again! My last post was way back in September about a trip to Toronto I took in August.  It is now April.

Whoops!

It seems I forgot I had a blog again. I started to write a few times but I would get distracted and then forget about it again.  But I’ve realized that writing, whether it be travel-related or not, is really important to me.  I love to write. And I love to have a place to chronicle events of my life and share.

So first, a little recap of the last almost 8 months:

September:

Colin and I started off September by travelling from Toronto to New York.  It was both of our first time in New York and we had a lot of things to cross off our inaugural Big Apple bucket list.  New York was a great trip – with big highs and a few lows. I said in my last post that I would write something separate about New York and I still want to do that. I can’t say much for a timeline but I want to say it’s coming soon!

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Walking the Brooklyn Bridge in New York

In September I started working in an administrative role at a counselling office.  It was very different from my role and the environment at Free The Children.  It was a nice change of pace and I learned a lot from the experience.  Most notably, I started to foster an interest in counselling as a career.

October:

I think October was just business as usual. Colin and I carved pumpkins (pro tip: use an electric drill!) and started attending Canucks games. I had never been to an NHL game before then but have now been to 9 or 10! I’m almost ready to call myself a fan.

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Viking & Minnie Mouse for Halloween

November:

In November, my beautiful friend Andrea came out to Vancouver to visit me.  In the five years that I’ve lived out here, I’ve only ever had my parents and siblings come out to visit, so it was very special to have a friend here.  I tried to show her around Vancouver as much as the weather would allow. And I got to see her try on her wedding dress, which really made the trip.

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Andrea & I took our picture with Santa!

November was also when Sophie and I started house-hunting.  It was a big adventure of trying to end our lease early, looking for places together, me looking for a place by myself, etc.  In the end, we got out of our lease (with much effort), Sophie made the decision to move to Toronto for school and to be closer to her family, and I found my own place.  But more about that in the coming months!

December: 

Christmas is my absolute favourite holiday. I start my countdown with a Christmas playlist as soon as Halloween ends. But last year I made the decision to not go home to Toronto for Christmas for the first time.  This was a really tough decision for me.  My favourite part about Christmas is all of the family traditions I have. Being part of a blended family, I actually get to participate in no less than four Christmas meals/gatherings usually stretching from Dec 22 – 28.  But due to finances and work, I decided to spend the holiday in Vancouver. Making that decision easier was the fact that I had been invited to join my boyfriend and his family in their Christmas traditions.  I loved spending the holidays with him and his but definitely missed all of the Christmas love in Toronto.

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The Marriott Christmas Tree

Because I wasn’t able to go home for Christmas, I actually flew back to Toronto for a quick long weekend in early December thanks to a last minute flight sale. So I did get to be a part of choosing the tree and trimming it.  I also got to try on bridesmaid dresses for a June wedding I’m in. And when I got back to Vancouver, I started a new job! For anyone keeping track, this would be my 4th job of 2015 (in my defense, some overlapped). I started working at UBC as an Admissions Coordinator in Enrollment Services.  It’s only a 7-month contract so I’m actually coming up on the end of it now.

January:

After all of the excitement of the holidays and starting a new job, I moved! I moved into a studio apartment in Kitsilano and I am in love with the place. It’s spacious and super close to UBC. I like having my own space and I loved decorating and organizing. I’m sure Colin, who suffered through many trips to Ikea, Walmart, etc. would beg to differ. My wonderful girlfriends moved me in on December 28th and by New Year’s I was fully unpacked.

I rang in 2016 on a couch in Surrey. Colin and I had a pretty uneventful New Year’s but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it with anyone else.

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2016!

So for the month of January my studio apartment played host to both me and Sophie. She came back after the Christmas holidays for a final month in Vancouver. I loved having her as a roommate for one month longer but I know it was stressful for her to be living out of suitcases in a shared small space.

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Putting on our fancy clothes for the wedding

I also started an online course in counselling in January and I attended Colin’s cousin’s wedding in Fort Langley.

February:

February was also business as usual.  Sophie headed back to Ontario for good and I had to get used to being by myself for the first time in about a year.  Colin and I also celebrated our first Valentine’s together which was a very sweet day.  We attempted another escape room (because nothing says romantic holiday like trying to get out of a locked room) but we didn’t make it out.

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V-Day breakfast

March:

March was a busy one! My mom came to visit for a few weeks so there were lots of delicious dinners out with friends and family.  Colin also had his birthday in March which was a lot of fun to celebrate.  We went to The Keg and a Canucks game with my mom, where I put a birthday message for him up on the jumbotron.  And then we went out downtown with his friends to celebrate some more.

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And at the end of March, we took off to LA for a week!

April:

So far, April has just been our wonderful trip to LA.  Colin, his mom and I were there for a week and fit a lot in.  We had great weather and were able to hit all the tourist sites, take in some games and spend time relaxing on the beach.  Just like New York, I’m planning to do a separate post about LA too.  Again, no promises on when that will actually get written.

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Santa Monica Pier

What’s next? 

So, there’s quite a bit coming up! I have my final exam for my course next Saturday, meaning I should really start studying.  Next Saturday is also Colin’s and my first anniversary.  And then to finish out April I will need to get on filing my taxes and looking for a new job since my contract is almost up.

In May I start another counselling course.  This one is in-class, twice a week for a month so it’s going to be a lot of work very quickly.  And then in June, we’re heading to Toronto for Kimberley’s wedding where I am co-MOH.  In July, I’m hoping to be employed.  I’m also hoping that the roadtrip to the Calgary Stampede that Colin and I are planning comes to fruition.  I’ve never spent time in Alberta or seen much of BC’s interior so I’m really excited. We’ve mapped out some cool spots we’d love to stop.  And then in August, I’m back to Toronto for another wedding!

I’m sure there’ll be some changes to the stuff I’ve just predicted and lots more thrown in. I’m looking forward to an exciting, busy and probably a little stressful summer.

And what’s next for the blog? 

I don’t want to commit myself to writing a certain number of posts per month or writing exclusively about travel.  This blog was born out of desire to share my travels with loved ones but it’s also my place to share myself and foster my love of writing.  So I don’t know exactly what that is going to look like.  I don’t want to limit myself.  You might see some different styles on here: listicles, fiction pieces, short stories, etc.  You might see a lot of posts all at once and then radio silence for a while as life happens.  You might see me being a bit more open and candid.

But I do want to keep writing – not necessarily for readers, but for me.  I love to write.  My greatest passions were, are, travel, writing and helping people.  I’ve focused on different aspects of those passions for most of my adult life.  But lately, they’ve all sort of fallen to the back-burner and I hate that.  I’ve gotten distracted by some of the tedious aspects of life.  But I’ve also found new things that are important to me: focusing on relationships with friends and family, settling into an apartment, working a job that pays the bills, trying to go to the gym, trying to learn how to cook, etc. But I don’t want to forget my passions.  Because those things, travelling, writing and helping people, still really excite me.  I want those to be main components of my life.  So if continuing to publish on this blog is a baby step in that direction, I want to do it.

6 months worth of updates

So about a year ago, I realized I had been neglecting my blog.  It kind of made sense, since this blog was born out of dream to travel and I wasn’t doing too much traveling a year ago.  But I found new things to write about: simple pleasures of everyday life, moving to a new home, family vacations and enjoying the on-going adventure that is living in Vancouver.

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And then in March, I forgot I had a blog again.

This time, it wasn’t for any lack of travel or adventure.  In fact, too much was happening in my life and I kept forgetting to write it all down.  So here are a few of the biggest updates from the last few months:

March: In March, I moved (again!) into an adorable and cosy 2-bedroom with my wonderful friend from work, Sophie.  Sophie and I had only met in January but barely a month later we were already looking at places together.  While it was rushed, here we are 6 months later and I couldn’t be happier.  Living alone was exciting, but I do tend to hermit when I’m solo (read: late nights in front of the TV with take-out and week-old dishes in the sink).  But now I have someone to watch TV with! We’re in a bit of a suburban neighbourhood of East Van but we’re enjoying it so far.  This was the first time either of us had signed a year lease and was the biggest step in settling that I’ve ever taken.

The bed I ordered and put together myself in my first unfurnished room!

The bed I ordered and put together myself in my first unfurnished room!

April: April was a pretty busy month for me! Unfortunately, it started on a sad note with my grandmother’s passing.  I flew back to Toronto for a quick weekend visit to be with family.  But back in Vancouver, things did seem to turn around.  I met a very special someone and we’ll be celebrating six months together in October.

Grandparents Canning on their wedding day :)

Grandparents Canning on their wedding day 🙂

May: May (and you might start to notice a trend here) was also incredibly busy.  It started with me fostering a gorgeous little puppy named Waffles who was the cutest and most clingy dog in the world.  We only had Waffles for 3 weeks and I still miss her, but I think I realized I’m not quite ready for full-time dog ownership.  Maybe when I live with a partner and have a flexible work schedule, I can revisit the dog situation.  But I wouldn’t be opposed to fostering again!

How cute is this puppy??

How cute is this puppy??

May was also the month where I officially graduated from UBC! My parents and siblings made the big trek from Toronto to watch me walk across the stage with 300+ other students at the ungodly hour of 8:30am on a Friday morning.

Quick snap of my diploma while I get ready to walk the stage!

Quick snap of my diploma while I got ready to walk the stage!

June: June was a bit of an up and down month.  Most notably, I set off for 6 weeks of facilitating in China through my job with Free The Children.  And while I have no desire to rehash the details, suffice to say that trip did not really work out and I was home shortly after Canada Day.  I also finished up my 10 months of serving at the Arbutus Club in June!

Last shift selfie!

Last shift selfie!

July: Coming home early was actually a huge blessing in disguise.  I got to take part in so many amazing summer activities and finally spend this season in beautiful Vancouver.  Bonus: I also got to see my mom who was in town for a wedding! Some of those summer activities included: concerts (One Direction, Journey and Taylor Swift (in order from worst to best performance)), camping (without running water, unless you count the insane amount of rain we got), kayaking (not my forte), FIFA World Cup soccer games and visiting Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast. I turned 23 in July and got to celebrate with my mom, my guy and some wonderful friends in my beloved city.

The beautiful Pender Harbour

The beautiful Pender Harbour

Kayaking: not my sport...

Kayaking: not my sport…

Swifties for life!

Swifties for life!

I don't know about thee, but I'm feeling 23!

I don’t know about thee, but I’m feeling 23!

August: August was a month of some big changes.  I decided to move on from my position at Free The Children to try something new.  And I got to go on another trip! This trip was a whirlwind 10 days in Toronto, Fort Erie and New York with my guy along for the ride. **I’ll probably do a separate blog about this trip, so more stories & photos to come!**  We did a lot of family bonding, friend meeting and sight seeing in a crazy but so wonderful 10 days.  I can’t wait to see my loved ones again, do New York in a less humid season and get in some more air miles with my new travel companion.

Brooklyn Bridge! One of my fave NY spots

Brooklyn Bridge! One of my fave NY spots

September: September has been all about settling into my new routine.  I’m working in an admin role at a counselling office which has a much different feel and different hours than my previous job.  I’m enjoying my new position, but it’s definitely a change from what I had been doing for the last nine months.  I think it was a good change, and important for me, but it does come with a few low points – such as missing all of my wonderful colleagues at my old job.

What’s next? I can almost guarantee that whatever I predict here is going to change but here I go!

I definitely want to continue blogging.  I love to write and use this medium to express myself and share my life with loved ones far away.  I should problem tie myself down to a schedule, but I’m not quite ready to make that commitment.  Can we tentatively say 2x per month?

I intend to continue in my current position and keep learning and growing in it.  But I also want to take on some side projects.  In January, I’ll be taking a course online at UBC in preparation for hopefully applying for a Master’s program in counselling.  Less than a month working at a counselling office and I’m already seriously considering a future in this field.  I’m still doing my research and won’t apply for some time, but I do want to start lining things up to make it happen.

In addition to my school course, I want to look for a volunteer or part time job opportunity.  I’d love to get some counselling experience, maybe through a mentorship or crisis line volunteer position.  I’d also love to do some freelance writing.  I’m still in the research stage on this too, but I’m definitely open to some new opportunities.

And then, in terms of my personal life, I definitely want to be more intentional.  Now that I don’t spend my 9-5 with most of my friends, I have to put in the effort to make plans to see the people I care about.  I have so many amazing friends here, one of the reasons I feel at home in Vancouver, and I want to cherish those relationships and not let them slip away.  I also want to do some things to better my daily life: try new recipes and pack lunches for work as much as possible, plan fun date nights that take advantage of this awesome city, head to the library and always have a book in my purse, keep on top of house cleaning, institute some sort of workout regime (my new office has a gym in it that I really need to take advantage of!) and still find time to indulge in take out sushi, my colouring book and nightly ritual of Jeopardy and House Hunters.

On the move again

So it seems like since I came back to Canada in August of 2014 with no lingering travel plans, I’ve still managed to do quite a bit of moving! I’ve been back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver, on vacation to the Dominican Republic and down to the States.  I’ve moved from my parents’ places in Toronto to a 4-month sublet near UBC to my own mini bachelor pad in northeast Vancouver.

And here I go again!

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That’s right, I’m moving! After just two and a bit months in the Closet, I’m packing it up and heading elsewhere.

I have loved living alone and I really enjoy my space.  It’s small, for sure, but it’s also modern and has everything I need; I’ve been spoiled with insuite laundry, a dishwasher and cable.  And my 15-20 min commute to work couldn’t be more ideal.

So why am I moving? A few reasons: 1) While I think the rent I’m paying is fair for what I’m getting, it is a little steep for my liking.  Working two jobs means my current rent is affordable, but I definitely could be saving more.  2) My current place is the perfect location for my Monday to Friday job but….far from pretty much everything else! It’s just a bit too far northeast, especially when I’m working late on the weekends. 3) Lastly, my place isn’t pet friendly.  I thought it was for a bit, but turns out, it’s not.  Now I may not be ready for a dog right this second, but it is something I want to consider in the near-ish future!

Luckily, I’m on a month-to-month lease with my current place.  My landlords are wonderful and completely understand that I’m looking for something dog friendly.

How did this happen? So this whole moving thing came about kind of suddenly; we’re talking like two weeks ago.  My friend Sophie, who works at Free The Children with me, just moved to Vancouver in January.  She’s got a place of her own, but isn’t crazy about the situation.  She caught me on padmapper one day (my favourite website) and asked if I was looking for a new place.  I told her I just check (daily) for dog-friendly places.  She joked that we should move in together: she was looking to leave her place, I was looking for a place where I could get a dog and we were both looking to save some rent money.  I laughed and then thought, wait a minute….

We both decided to mull it over.  “Mulling” quickly became sending each other craigslist links of available apartments which ballooned into emailing landlords to set up viewings.  Our first, and favourite, viewing was two Saturdays ago.  It was fun to be apartment searching.  Over the next week and a half, we visited a handful of places and chatted about our lifestyles and roommate preferences.  Despite how quickly everything was happening, I felt, and still feel, really excited!

Where am I headed? After seeing about 5 or 6 places, Sophie and I kept coming back to that very first place.  Even though they say never to go with the first one! It’s a small place but very modern and right across from a park (where I can walk a dog). The landlord seemed really nice and while it’s a bit far south, it’s right on the bus line to work! So we were thrilled when we heard back from the landlord a few days ago to find out we got the place!

So in two weeks time, I’m going to be getting the keys to my new place! I still have my current place till the first, so it’ll be a gradual two week move.  Which is perfect, because it gives me time to buy some furnishings.  Who knew a bed was going to be so expensive?

I’m really excited for this next little adventure! I’m excited (and scared for the credit card bill) to buy some new stuff and furnish a new place.  I’m stoked to be moving in with the wonderful Sophie, whose running, yoga and cooking skills I hope will rub off on me.  I’m thrilled to be heading to a new neighbourhood and get to discover some local gems.  And I’m psyched for the possibility of getting a dog!

Look out for your house-warming invite 🙂

Am I ready for a dog?

So if you’ve spent any time with me in the last year, you know I’ve spent a majority of that time cooing over adorable puppies on the street, stalking dog shelter websites and longing to bring home a fur-ball of my own.

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But am I ready?

I grew up with a dog, the beautiful and berserk Yoda.  Yoda was a big puppy – over 100lbs! He was a barker and a shedder.  But he was also the most lovable goofball and definitely added a lot to our family.  It was amazing growing up with a dog.  However, I’m the first to admit that our parents did most (all) of the work with Yoda: morning walks, grooming and buying huge bags of dog food all fell within their responsibility.

Yoda & the fam - circa 2006!

Yoda & the fam – circa 2006!

So am I ready for a dog of my own?

What kind of dog? As much as I love Yoda, I know I’m not ready or inclined to bring home a dog of that size.  Ideally I’m looking for a small dog with a shorter coat.  And I really want a senior dog! Senior dogs have a harder time getting adopted, because they aren’t as appealing as the puppies.  I love the idea of being able to provide an awesome home for a dog’s final years.  Senior dogs are also usually lower-energy, housetrained and (lucky for me) more affordable!

Where will the dog live? So I’ve recently moved into a new apartment. And while I love my new place, it’s definitely small.  I don’t know if this is a deal-breaker for a dog or not.  Some dogs, especially small senior ones like the kind I want, are more than happy to have their little dog bed area and don’t need much more than that. I think as long as I’m able to give my dog the time he/she needs outside, having a small inside space will be okay.

Am I allowed to get a dog? Right now my landlords are in the “considering” phase, due to a bad dog experience with a previous tenant. I definitely want to be respectful of the other tenants here and would never go against my landlords’ wishes.  Their concerns (not letting the dog do his/her business in the front yard, not having a dog home who barks all day) are valid and things I would need to consider before bringing someone home.

Do I have time? How will the dog fit into my schedule? This one is a bit of a pickle.  The FTC office I work at actually allows dogs, so I would be able to bring my buddy to work with me.  However, I wouldn’t want to bring my dog in everyday, so I’d need to have a back-up plan.  Do I bus home at lunch (do-able, but not ideal)? Hire a dog-walker (expensive)? Or hope my dog can make it without a bathroom/exercise break during the work day (possible but uncomfortable)? And then there’s my shifts at the Arbutus Club on the weekend, where I definitely can’t bring a dog.  Would my dog be okay if he was walked at 3:00pm and then not again till I got home at midnight or (if either of us are too tired) the next morning?

Can I afford it? While I’m far from rich, I do think I would be able to afford a dog.  I understand that there would be some big ticket items at first and then monthly/yearly expenses.  The dog sites I’ve looked at estimate anywhere between $700 and $1200 per year for proper dog care.  And proper dog care is obviously something I wouldn’t want to cut corners on.  It would be a big expense, but I’m confident in my current income and ability to manage money.  However, senior dogs do tend to err on the more expensive side of healthcare…

And what about my travelling? One thing that’s kept me from clicking the “adopt” button on all the shelter websites has been my near-constant nomadic status over the last year. Now that I’m more settled, I feel a bit more ready for permanent changes to my life, like a dog. In the next two years, I don’t see travelling for longer than a couple of weeks (crazy, right?), during which my dog could stay with a dog-loving friend or at a doggy daycare.  Of course, a dog, even a senior dog, is more than a two year commitment.  And right now I don’t exactly know where I’ll be in two years.  A big contender: moving to London.  But regardless of where I go (or if I stay), I think my next move would be long-term.  I learned while living in Amsterdam that I prefer slow travel with a homebase.  So wherever I go next, I plan for it to be a long enough move that I could do the work to bring my dog with me!

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So, am I ready?

2014: A Year In Review

Is it 2015 already?

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Actually, it’s been 2015 for a little while.  You can tell I’m a bit behind on my blogging – whoops!

One reason I keep a blog is so I can look back on all the wonderful things I’m fortunate enough to experience in my life. It’s kind of incredible to sit back and scroll through the year.  2014 took me to a lot of new places, let me meet a lot of new people and accept new opportunities.

For the last few years that I’ve had this blog, I do a post at the end of each year that sums up what happened and predicts what’s to come in the new year.  It’s a chance for me to take stock, count my blessings and get excited for the year ahead.  Today I looked back on my final post of 2013.  My predictions for 2014 were pretty accurate.  I did spend the most incredible 5 months wandering around Europe with some of the coolest people I’ve been lucky enough to meet.  And I did come back to Vancouver to finish off my courses at UBC.  But there were also a few surprises: I took a job in Tokyo, Japan for the month of July, I fit in a number of visits to the always-lovely Toronto, I got a job serving, I finished at UBC and I got the full-time job of my dreams at Free The Children!

2014 was a year of movement and maturity. I travelled to a huge number of new countries (10!) and a few old favourites (aka my 5th trip to London).  I called 5 rooms in 4 cities home throughout the course of the year. I logged a scary number of hours on planes, buses and booking those planes/buses online.  I learned that my entire life can fit into two large suitcases, and I love that.

Maturity came in heading to Amsterdam by myself for 5 months.  This wasn’t my first solo trip, nor does a semester abroad really count as solo, but it was certainly a growing experience.  I lived with two complete strangers, who became amazing friends.  I navigated my new city of Amsterdam, and then a dozen or so other new cities on weekend jaunts around Europe.  And, most impressively, I cooked for myself for 5 whole months without developing scurvy or burning down the house (we did come close a few times).

Maturity was found again in my role in Japan.  I chaperoned a group of high school students learning a language I didn’t know in a country I had never been to. It was a whirlwind (and humid!) 4 weeks, but I’m so glad I jumped on that opportunity.

And a final dose of maturity hit in these last 4 months in Vancouver.  I was back in proper school, which I hadn’t been in since 2012.  I was living and working outside of Residence Life for the first time in my Vancouver life.  And I was setting things up for the greatest wave of maturity: finishing my undergrad at UBC, living by myself in Vancouver and starting an amazing full-time job at Free The Children.

So coming up in 2015…. I don’t really know what predictions to make for this upcoming year.  My plans now seem a lot more stable; no more continent jumping every few months.  I’m set up in Vancouver with house & job for the next 2 years.  It’s rare for me to describe a new year without talking about the big trips I’ll be taking. But it’s also kind of exciting! I’ve talked before about not having an upcoming trip and how I’m pretty okay with that.  I’m okay starting and ending 2015 in Vancouver – more than okay, I’m stoked about it! I’m sure my life is going to take on so many more facets I don’t even know about yet.  So while I plan to be living in Vancouver and working at FTC for all of this year, I’m certain there will be new opportunities, new people and a few surprises thrown in to make 2015 just as wonderful as 2014 was!

Welcome Home

When you’ve moved 20+ times in your life, what’s one more? Well, turns out it’s still a little exciting when that move is to a place all of your own!

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On Dec 14 I officially moved into my new place, affectionately nicknamed “The Closet” due to it’s incredibly small size. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality!

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The Closet is conveniently located a ten minute bus ride from Free The Children. I now get to leave the house at 8:05, instead of the ungodly 7:25 departure I was doing at my old place. However, my new digs are a pretty far hike from my weekend job – but I never have to be there before 4pm!

Rent is not cheap in Vancouver, period. So no, my place isn’t inexpensive. But it’s also not over my budget. And, it conveniently includes utilities, internet and cable!

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For a tiny place, The Closet sure comes packed with amenities. The place came fully furnished (and pretty cute furnishings, I might add). It has an in suite washer/dryer, gas stove, coffee maker, large screen TV and dish washer! I’ve yet to use the dishwasher as anything but a drying rack….but I’m sure that’ll change once I start (attempting) to do some cooking.

Lastly, while The Closet is the size of, well, a closet, it’s perfect for just me. My previous roommate Courtney was wonderful, but there’s something kind of nice about living alone. Being able to play embarrassing music, walk around in questionable outfits, leave the dishes dirty for too long or go to bed at a scarily late hour (or more like scarily early hour these days) is kind of freeing. There’s a fun sense of independence that comes with living alone – and knowing I am solely responsible for any leaks, creaks or visiting spiders!

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So I moved into my new pad just 2 days after my final final of my undergrad at UBC (yay!). Which means I didn’t start packing until the Friday night before my Sunday morning move. Luckily my lovely roommate and her boyfriend helped me load 3 suitcases into his car so Sunday wasn’t a series of painful bus trips. After the move, I had 4 nights in my place before flying home to Toronto. And I spent each of those 4 days working. So while I was pretty rushed and busy, I did manage to unpack and get a little settled. But I think my busy schedule was a good excuse for not buying any groceries and living off of takeout for those 4 days!

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But I am so excited to get back to my place in January. I’ve got a list of really thrilling things I want to buy – like a bath mat and tissue boxes! I’m looking forward to walking around the neighborhood and finding cool restaurants, family-owned produce markets and some sort of 24 hour takeout place. It’s a part of Vancouver I’ve never discovered and a type of independent living I’ve never experienced – I’m stoked, but cross your fingers for me!

Note: this was written and uploaded on my phone, so apologies for any crazy formatting or typos!