Like a candle in the wind

Cottage Country Candle

At the start of a new year we often set new goals or push ourselves to try new things.

So far I have discovered the joy of lighting candles.

I have always seen the appeal of candles, but I rarely crossed the barrier of actually lighting them.

For some reason I thought that candles only could be lit for a particular occasion.

I clearly didn’t know what I was missing.

Candles in the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen can be lit all the time, and it is lovely.

Note: you should not have candles lit while you are not at home.

In my candle discovery I have found the following sources:

Grandma's Kitchen

Country Home Candle: Grandma’s Kitchen

Chocolate Almond

Hershey’s: Milk Chocolate with Almonds

(pairs nicely with my 1.5 kg bag of chocolate almonds from Costco)

What candles do you love to light?

Eating vs. Cooking

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies - unbakedChocolate Crinkle Cookies - baked

I love to eat.  It is definitely one of my favourite activities.  I have started to realize that to sustain my eating habits it would probably be a good investment and to learn how to cook.

Here are a few of my initial learnings as I make my way through this endless but delicious journey

  • Have a few go-to sources to get inspired
  • Pick one night a week to make a good dinner or try a new recipe
  • Share recipes with your friends and family…one of my friends recently sent out a fall / winter recipe exchange which was a great way to increase your

My fav sports to get inspired…generally hungry… often hangry

How do you get inspired to cook?

Learnings from the top 100 women in Canada

WXN Top 100 Summit Gala PanelLast Thursday I had the privilege of attending the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Top 100 Summit and Gala celebrating the Top 100 women in Canada for 2014.  It was great being surrounded by these amazing women and celebrating their accomplishments.

Here are a few things that stood out for me:

  • Questions are more important than answers Marie Josee Lamoth, Managing Director of Branding & Quebec, Google Canada
  • Try to do 4 things that scare the hell out of you every year Lisa LaFlamme, Chief News Anchor & Senior Editor, CTV National News
  • Dare to be wise; have the courage to use your own reason Rosemary McCarney, President & CEO, Plan Canada
  • There are countless learning opportunities and leadership lessons available through playing sports Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO, Women’s Tennis Association
  • Spend time on your own personal homework and gain insight into yourself and your impact on others – Marilyn Emery, President & CEO, Women’s College Hospital
  • Think about a young woman who you could mentor and / or champion to help her become all that she can be Kathleen Taylor, Chair, RBC Board of Directors

Reading material for winter hibernation

I really enjoy reading, but I am not great at diligently reading every night.  I tend to binge on a book for a few hours or a day and really get into it.  That is why I love reading over the holidays because books are a great gift and there is lots of time to curl up by the fire and escape in a good book.

Opened book

I am going to try to read at least 6 books in 2015.  It doesn’t seem like a lot but I think that 1 book every 2 months should be manageable.

Here is how I have broken out my reading list for 2015:

1. Becoming a movie – Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon

2. Something that will make me laugh – Yes Please, Amy Poehler 

3. Thought provoking – Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Daniel Goleman 

4. A gift that is sitting on my shelf – 419, Will Ferguson

5. Classic book that I never read – The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

6. Re-read something from one of my favourite authors – What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, Malcolm Gladwell

7. Author of a book I read this year and loved (Gone Girl), and also becoming a movie – Dark Places, Gillian Flynn

I once heard that you should always have a book you are currently reading.

What are you currently reading or is on your must read list for 2015?

The double date

I love activities.  Being in a relationship has opened up a new frontier to a whole range of activities that stem from… the double date.

Table and 4 Chairs

Step 1: Finding a couple have similar interests to you and that both like.  There is grinder, tinder, but where is the app for that?

Step 2: Finding a date in your calendar that works for everyone.   This is almost impossible today as we are all very busy and important people with full schedules.  I am all about scheduling that early but it is always fun to get together on the fly.

Step 3: Finding an appropriate activity.  My go to is dinner or drinks but that is because I love food and trying new places around the city, but there are so many fun activities to do in a group.

Here is a list that I am currently working my way through:

What have been your favourite double dates?

To engage or not to engage?

When do you say yes to a new opportunity and when do you take a pass?

I have been trying to pause and think before taking on new opportunities or volunteer positions with the hopes of being more purposeful with my time and energy.  This is definitely coming into practice when I look at my extracurriculars at work.

Extracurricular activities at work: participating in or helping to organize an event or campaign for an internal or external charity, club, or social group.

What are the benefits?

  • Increasing your network
  • Making new or strengthening previous connections
  • Stretching leadership and collaboration skills

Things to consider:

  • Am I passionate about what this activity is trying to achieve?
  • What is the role that I need to play?
  • Is this an opportunity to do or try something that I have never done?
  • Who will I be working with?
  • Is this an opportunity to expand my network or work with someone who I would like to learn from and wouldn’t have an opportunity to connect with in my day job?
  • How much time is required?
  • How much time do I have and am I willing to spend on this?
  • Is this an opportunity that just came up or presented itself or something you would search for and seek out?
  • Will this opportunity take away from my responsibilities at work or affect my performance?
  • Will my manager support me in this endeavour?

What is your approach to extracurriculars at work?

Don’t be a sucker or a sommelier

Life is too short to drink bad wine.

My dad and some wino colleagues have taught me some basic fundamentals of how to get by in the wine world.

The two biggest lessons they taught me were:

  1. You don’t have to pay a lot of money for a good bottle of wine (aka avoid being a sucker)
  2. You don’t need to know everything about wine in order to find a good bottle (aka avoid being a sommelier)

How to achieve this is simple:

  • Find out what you like through trial and error and simple research 
  • Understand the 100-point scale
  • Keep track – I have already disclosed my love for google drive and I highly recommend creating a doc with your favourites and wines you want to try.  This really helps me so that I only have to spend a reasonable amount of time wandering around the store.
  • Ask for help, but if people are too pretentious don’t listen and move on
  • Make note that in some locations if you purchase a case or 12 bottles you can get a discount

You have definitely gone to the dark side if you ever sound like this…

Here is a list of my current go to wines under $20:

  1. Villa Maria | Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, $17
  2. Apothic Red | Blend, California, $16
  3. Mission Hill | Chardonnay, British Columbia, $16
  4. Porcupine Ridge | Syrah, South Africa, $15
  5. Morse Code | Shiraz, Australia, $14
  6. Trapiche | Malbec, Argentina, $10
  7. Dunavar | Pinot Blanc, Hungary, $9

*Prices based off LCBO website

Here are some pro-tips from one of my fav blogs Cupcakes & Cashmere.  

I am still trying to find my go-to Ontario wine.  Any tips or suggestions?