Sunday, December 30, 2012

I love productive days, especially when they involve cleaning! My day today involved sleeping in and not waking up to an alarm (best feeling EVER), washing my car inside & out in the glorious sunshine, putting oil in my car, doing two loads of laundry, cleaning my room, getting my nails done, doing some errands to buy random things I needed, making fajitas for dinner and finishing it all up with a little nap.

My dad & I were looking up sizes of Vegas hotels the other day and I was absolutely floored at the amount of rooms they have. The biggest is the MGM Grand, with 5,044 rooms; the Luxor has 4,405 (I stayed there the first time I went to Vegas). New York New York has 2,023; Monte Carlo (where we just stayed) has 3,106. The Wynn & Encore have 4,750 combined - definitely the nicest hotel I've stayed in there!

The sheer size of ONE of these hotels is amazing to me; and there must be at least 30 hotels on the strip with an average of 2,500 rooms each. That's roughly 75,000 rooms!!! How on earth would that many rooms ever be filled?! The volume and money that goes into Vegas really flabbergasts me. It's such a fascinating place! There are a bunch of cool concerts & events happening for New Years tomorrow there; anyone up for a last minute adventure?! :)


Thursday, December 27, 2012

bucket list update

I thought I'd revisit my good ol' bucket list since I have a few updates on it! Not many, but I mean, who are we kidding...I went a little buckwild on my bucket list. A yacht? Not happening any time soon!! 
  1. Write a novel.
  2. Go to Bard on the Beach.
  3. Go kayaking more frequently.
  4. Own a horse.
  5. Be fluent in French.
  6. Own an expensive, gorgeous area rug.
  7. Become a rescue scuba diver.
  8. Go white water rafting, again
  9. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
  10. Join a Toastmasters group and do public speaking.
  11. Own a nice camera and learn to take pictures properly.
  12. Make wine.
  13. Take cooking classes.
  14. Read: Anna Karina & the rest of the books on my book shelf that I haven't read yet.
  15. Be a Big Sister.
  16. Donate blood as often as I am eligible to.
  17. Own a yacht.
  18. Learn more about wine.
  19. Understand the stock market.
  20. Trade stocks.
  21. Start a blog.(completed!)
  22. Swim with sharks.
  23. Have a pond in my yard.
  24. Have a library in my home, complete with a big comfy chair to read in.
  25. Have a beautiful patio to entertain guests on in the summer.
  26. Be able to wear a bikini comfortably.
  27. Learn to like and appreciate olives.(completed! I LOVE eating green olives on their own and I even specifically order black olives on my Subway sandwich.)
  28. Have a broader, more intelligent vocabulary.
  29. Send my parents on an extravagant vacation.
  30. Plant a garden and actually take care of it properly so that I can eat the vegetables.
  31. Invite my siblings over for dinner at LEAST once every two weeks.
  32. Call a head office of somewhere I got/always get fantastic service at just to let them know.
  33. Encourage 5 other people to write bucket lists.(completed! Lindsay, Amanda, Lil' Sis, Hayley and...hmm...I swear there was 5 at some point?? Whatever - I'm checking this off anyways!)
  34. See Ellens show live.
  35. Have babies with a man who loves me to death, & raise them to be generous and kind-hearted.
  36. Travel to India.
  37. Own a coordinated towel collection.
  38. Keep “book club” alive forever.
  39. Create my own recipe.
  40. Do my own oil changes.
  41. Have my grandchildren sleep over on weekends frequently.
  42. Be debt free.
  43. Own a home.
  44. Achieve my BBA in HR. (COMPLETED AS OF DECEMBER 2012!!!!)
  45. Own a big dog.
  46. Do the polar bear swim.
  47. Recycle whenever possible.
  48. Have a workout routine I stick with for a long time.
  49. Attend a rave.
So, I have completed 4 of 49 which is 8%. So much more to go but I feel like now that school is done, I will totally start reading more and doing other things that are working towards completing items on this list. Some are also quite a long ways down the road...but it's fun to have something to work towards and look forward to in life!

I can't do the polar bear swim this year since I have a wedding to attend on New Years Day, but maybe next year. I love the idea of a December 31st wedding, which I've blogged about before, but a January 1st wedding will be a first for me. You know me and weddings, such a sucker for them!

PS - start your stock pickings for 2013! RBC's top picks for 2013

turkey soup

Coming from a vegetarian, this recipe was not an easy one to stomach. However, I was determined to make turkey soup from scratch with the bones from the Christmas turkey like my Opa used to, so I did it. Caution: the photos are a little gross below but I figure if I saw it, you all need to too!! (haha)

It was quite a process (apparently all the soups I choose to make are time intensive) as the stock takes a few hours to cook and then you make the actual soup after that. I tell ya, spending that much time on soup you don't even eat yourself is quite ironic! I really enjoy cooking though so it didn't bother me. I think my family quite enjoyed it and I think my Opa would have been very proud as he was quite the soup cooker.  He was a great cook all around, but his soups were to die for.  He used to make a different kind every Sunday: minestrone, cream of leek, chicken noodle, cream of broccoli...you name it and he used to make it! They were always so good and so full of flavor. I hope he's still cookin' away up in heaven like he liked to!

This is the recipe I used to make the soup, but soup in general is fairly easy to guesstimate with measurements etc. so I didn't follow it exactly. I used potatoes instead of noodles for the starch, and I didn't add any tomatoes since we didn't have any. 

Did anyone else make anything exciting with their turkey leftovers?! I talked to someone who made turkey pot pies with theirs!

Parsley from my garden in the backyard!

Making stock...

Sorry - is this too gross for my blog?! The bones didn't even fit in the pot so I just kept rotating it - creative soup making at its finest!

The final product (soup is hard to get a good photo of...)

Last but not least, my new runners from Santa that I love (you need sunglasses to look at them in person!) Thanks Santa!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

merry merry

Who doesn't love Christmas? Everyone is so cheery today and it's a day to relax and spend time with good people. I hope everyone had just as lovely of a day as I did hangin' with their friends and family.

I woke up to my mom jumping on my bed, opened some fantastic presents, ate a delicious breakfast (more info to come!), played some more Scrabble (we already played a few rounds last night - apparently having a degree does not make you win much to my dismay), visited with Grandma & Grandpa, ate a yummy dinner with them made by my momma and then saw the movie 'Jack Reacher' with my bro & sis. It was pretty entertaining if you like an action-shoot-em-up type movie!

(apparently I didn't take as many photos as I thought I did today - more to come later from my dad's ever clicking camera!) 

My new Kiel James Patrick bracelet that I am in love with! (amongst many things I received from Santa that I'm in love with)

Emma got a new toy that she immediately ripped up (see lips in front...)

Breakfast mimosas!

Breakfast: cinnamon buns & wife saver Both are part of a Spier Christmas morning tradition - wife saver is a breakfast casserole essentially that is SO good! Click on the pink 'wife saver' above for the recipe. My momma normally makes it but I made it this year - and I think it passed the family test of being ok & edible! (thankfully)

Monday, December 24, 2012

christmas eve cooking

I had a cooking day today! I had a glorious morning of sleeping in and then got up and made pancakes and eggs for my family. Well, minus little sister since she worked at 4:45 this morning - yuck! Then, I made Caesar salad, baked potatoes with all the fixin's, chicken and broccoli & cheddar soup for dinner.

Pancakes & scrambled eggs for breakfast - I haven't had pancakes in so long. They were yummy.

My dinner - sans chicken!

The soup: I'd say it was pretty good actually! It was a bit of a process between making the initial soup, blending it, adding more things...and it wasn't very thick but it still tasted quite good. It was quite healthy too; just a lot of cheese but other than that only some veggies, potatoes, sour cream and spices pretty much.

around the web

Since we got home this morning around 11 am after not sleeping last night, I slept for a solid 7 hours during the day today which means I am not tired now. So, here I am, hangin' out online! A few fun things to read & check out:

A peanut brittle recipe that looks yummy. My Opa used to make peanut brittle all the time, which I loved.

President Obama, on Gangnam Style

I think Operation Red Nose  is such a great idea

The 10 best business books of the year according to the Globe and Mail (I haven't read any!! Better get started!)

I just got LinkedIn - not sure what to do next though; any tips?!

Shorter med school?

Celebrity holiday recipes (Fried stuffing bites?! Yes please!)

An inspiring business story of Homeboy Industries  (a long read, but a great story!!)

And just for good measure to wrap this up - something to keep in mind courtesy of Pinterest:

Vegas!

Pants & I decided a few months ago that for little sisters 21st birthday we would take her on a surprise trip to Vegas. She thought we were going to Seattle for a few days, and that she could sleep in on the Thursday that we were leaving, but instead we woke her up at 4:30 am (by shaking her awake and playing music! haha!) and told her we had a flight to catch! She was half asleep but I think quite surprised nonetheless... it was seriously the hardest secret I have ever kept in my entire life!!! I don't keep a lot of secrets from her and this was so difficult since we were so excited to surprise her - totally worth it! She didn't know who was coming either so we just got her in the car and started driving to pick up three more people: Ashley, Dave & Jessica. The 6 of us packed into Pant's truck and headed down!

Our flight left at 9 am Thursday morning from Bellingham, which was nice because we got to Vegas early in the day. We stayed at the Monte Carlo which was decently priced and quite central on the strip which was important to us given the amount of walking you end up doing there.

We shopped, ate, drank, danced, walked, laughed and had SUCH a good time!! Of course, photos are the best story tellers so here some for you. Alas, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIL SIS!!! Love you lots :)

We may have had a shot and a few drinks while waiting for our flight to Vegas at 7 am... Did you know there is a Browns in the Bellingham airport?! Yum.

Pants, me, Jessica, lil sis, Ashley & Dave going to Tao on night one (I LOVE Tao - I think it's my favorite club in Vegas!)

Jessica & I

Dave

We took a limo to breakfast at Peppermill. How cool are we?! (but seriously - with 10 people it's much more cost efficient taking a limo than taking three cabs!) Best breakfast ever.

After breakfast, a bunch of us walked back to our hotel and stopped to play beer pong. I maaayyy have gotten a little too drunk this day and wasn't able to go out at night. Whoops :(

Dinner at Margaritaville - lil' sis got a balloon '21' made by a Santa on stilts!

Jessica & I

Jessica, lil' sis & I being silly in a cab en route to Surrender

Lil' sis was obsessed with these glow sticks they gave out to dance with!

Lil' sis - isn't she cute?! And so grown up!

Lil sis, me & Jessica

Such pretty Christmas decorations everywhere (and giant!)

Pants, Lisa, Ashley, lil' sis, Dave & I at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign! (the lighting sucked...sorry!)

The view from our hotel room

Mmmm...fish tacos from the Cheesecake Factory

This polar bear decoration was made of real flowers!!

It's so pretty at night with all the lights!
We had a 7:15am flight home this morning so we thought it was a brilliant idea to simply not sleep last night after going out. We just rolled in back to the hotel around 4, packed and got a cab to the airport. Here we are, dying while waiting for our flight...We were NOT a lively crew this morning. Remind me next time to book a later flight...


Monday, December 17, 2012

ah the good life.

What have I been up to lately? Some cleaning, organizing, hanging out with the fam, decorating the tree, wrapping presents...enjoying those great things in life! Oh and work. (but I won't bore you with the details of that!)

Some photos of my school-free life these days: 

I LOVE clean bedsheets and a nicely made bed. Do you make your bed every day? I wish I did bur can't bring myself to!

I cleaned/organized all my shoes...

Not only did I clean my room majorly, I made my sister clean hers too! (well, it was her idea but I got down to making her clean her blinds...)

Look at how clean & organized her room is! I also did a million loads of her laundry and matched probably 1,900,842 socks.

This is a work photo - we ran out of helium for balloons and there was a birthday party, so I went to a dollar store to get some. Surprisingly, my little Honda Fit easily can accommodate 20 large balloons! While at a stop light, I took this photo to send my sister thinking it was funny only to look to my right and see an entire bus stop full of people staring at me. Whoops!!

The Spier family! We had a family dinner at Coralee's on Sunday and it was fantastic food and so nice to see everyone. Aunty Coralee even made boerenkool and croquettes, some Dutch favorites! I haven't had either of those in so long since we used to go for dinner every Sunday at my Oma & Opa's years ago. It was a little weird having a family dinner without my Oma & Opa...

My daddio & aunty Soraya

My cousins Adrien & Tyler having some fun...?


We've got a Christmas tree now!! Pants topped it off with an angel today as my mom & Emma supervised. We have the tree in the family room this year instead of the living room - switching it up a bit!


PS - JC is off working on another cruise ship contract for three weeks over Christmas (just a short one compared to the five month stint she recently did) and she is on the newest Celebrity ship - the Celebrity Reflection. It looks so nice!!!

PPS - the nine things you should be able to do by the time you're 30... 

Friday, December 14, 2012

better late than never...

Happy 28th birthday to new momma Heidi!!!! We went to do a usual nacho night for her birthday at Heidi & Timmy's  new house and holy moly - it's so gorgeous! I took a photo of the kitchen but my iPhone picture really doesn't give it justice. I was sick still so I didn't snuggle Jack but hopefully I will be able to soon since I think I am on the mend now. Plus I have more time on my hands...! Heidi was super sweet and got me a graduation cake, completed by playing the graduation song in the background!! Thanks friend - you're the best :) xoxo


Sunday, December 9, 2012

well hello again.

Look at me - back to every day blogging! I am really enjoying having some down time in my life right now. Not going to lie, I am a little bored since I have been laying on the couch sick for two days now, but I am happy to not have to worry about homework, reading, studying and all the other joys that come along with school. I must warn you: you may hear a significant amount of times here about how excited I am to be done school!! Don't say you weren't told...

Isn't it super lame that I am sick again?? I JUST had bronchitis (almost pneumonia the doc said) right before I left & was on medication; and I totally feel the same way right now. I am very glad I wasn't sick while away, for sure, but it's still super annoying that it has come back. I have chugged some Robitussin this morning and am drinking tea now...

I thought I would share my new fave song that I learned while away - the Wobble. It's so catchy & entertaining. The dance is easy to learn - watch the second video of a wedding party doing it!

The Official Wobble Music Video:
How to do the Wobble dance: (courtesy of YouTube - I am TOTALLY doing this dance at my wedding too)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Now that I am done school (and have a degree - did I mention that??!), I get to browse the internet ALLLL I want without feeling guilty that I should be doing homework. I know I have said this before, but I could just spend hours reading blogs, reading business websites, news, looking at sale items at my favorite stores websites... could you??

A recipe for crispy baked garlic fries

Cool new phrase: I shampooed with a drink today after my recent vacation drinking...

I'd like to stay here or here next time I am in South Beach

Portraits of life as a post-Playboy bunny...

The Green Men have a book!

Charitable giving is up in Canada

10 Shakespeare quotes pertaining to leadership

A lady named her baby Hashtag...

PS - like my new blog look? It was time to switch it up...

miami & the caribbean

Oh my gosh - I don't even know where to start on this trip!! It was an insane amount of fun with a big group of us. It made for some challenges when making decisions about what to do for the day, but we always met up at night for dinner & dancing regardless of anything else. We danced our little feet off this trip!! (probably a good thing considering the amount of food available on the ship...) 

The weather was decent for the most part; except for some rain in a few ports but we made the best of it. I am not as tanned as I would have liked to be, but oh well! C'est la vie - the fun far outweighed the tanning capabilities.

In terms of who was all on this trip, Kristina is a good friend who moved to Toronto about three years ago, so this was super exciting for all of us to hang out with her for two weeks! Erin is a good friend of hers from Toronto as well, who is super duper fun, and Kristina's husband Chris was there as well. It was Lisa's 40th birthday so that was the premise of this trip; her cousin Donna came as well as her friends Selema, Yasmin and Danielle. Then of course, me, Amanda & JC were there livin' it up!

I will just upload a select amount of photos as that's probably the most fun rather than reading about it. We were in Miami for four days, the Caribbean cruise for seven days and then Miami for one last night.

The view from the pool deck at our hotel in South Beach - we saw lots of cruise ships go by!


Laying in the sand at South Beach

Photo shoot on the beach with JC

The gorgeous lobby at the Fontainebleau where we had a lovely (also expensive!) dinner for Lisa's 40th birthday!!

We had no idea that the club we ended up at had live entertainment - dancers on the bar! Totally recommend Mangos next time you are in South Beach.

Aaaand we are on the ship! This is where you could typically find us - with a drink in hand on the pool dance floor (L-R: Amanda, JC, me, Erin & Kristina)

Amanda, me & JC

The view of Miami while leaving on the ship

Erin & I went for a swim

Stop 1: The Bahamas! (Lisa)

Me, Amanda, Erin & JC playing in the water in the Bahamas


Bahamian liquor store - pretty ghetto

Erin, Amanda, Kristina & JC doing one of the many dances we learned while away: the cha cha slide, mississipi mudslide, the wobble...

Lisa, me & Amanda on Lisa's balcony (we were not so fortunate to have a balcony in our room so we hung out on hers!!)


JC & I on formal night

Amanda & Lisa on formal night

All the ladies: Erin, Kristina, Amanda, me, JC, Donna (front), Danielle & Lisa


Stop 2: Dominican Republic!(Erin, Kristina, Donna, me, Amanda & JC)

At the beach in the Dominican - so gorgeous! Probably my favorite location we stopped at

In the Dominican - Pharmacia Jenny!

This was our cooler on the beach in the Dominican - ice in a cardboard box holding our beer & coconuts

Lisa on the beach

Mmmm...fish & plantains on the beach was SO GOOD

Chris, JC & I playing in the sand

Amanda, our server & me! (he was so great & SUCH a good dancer)

Kristina, me, JC & Amanda singing Britney Spears kareoke style - I missed the blue memo apparently...

Stop 3: Puerto Rico!

Leaving Puerto Rico - Chris & I just wandered around old San Juan and had lunch while the others went on a jungle hike.

Pool dance floor

Erin doing magic tricks for another one of our servers

Stop 4: Grand Turk - doing jello shots at Margaritaville (Kristina, Selemna, Yasmin, Amanda, Danielle, Donna & Lisa in front)

Can you tell how ridiculously rainy it is in Grand Turk?? All we did was hang out at Margaritaville...still fun but we didn't have fun in the sun, that's for sure

We needed ponchos that's how rainy it was...

Lisa, JC & Erin on the beach in the rain


Our cute little hotel room on the water our last night in Miami - the Shelborne