What It’s Like to Actually Achieve a New Year’s Resolution

I did it. I finally did it. I set a goal for myself on New Year’s and I ACHIEVED it (well I achieved 2/2 resolutions but let’s just focus on one of them for now….).

Read 30 books without buying a NEW book.

My personal rules:

  • No buying new books (unless they’re gifts for other people)
  • No buying eBooks
  • Used and borrowed books only

Seems kind of difficult to read 30 new books and not buy one, right? Wrong. I discovered that Value Village (or any other thrift store for that matter) has any book you could have ever wanted – you just have to search a little more for it. My friend also gave me her old & unloved Kobo and after a trip to South East Asia, I scratched the screen and purchased my own. But how can I read on an eReader without buying eBooks? There’s this wonderful thing called Overdrive! Essentially it’s like the old school library you used to go to – except online. You can download eBooks directly to certain models of eReaders, or sync them through your computer.

Why did I set this goal for myself? I realized towards the end of 2016 that it wasn’t that I didn’t like to read, it was I didn’t know what I actually liked to read. I finally decided to make an attempt again at finishing the Harry Potter series (I’m terrible, I know… I’m done now and it was fantastic) and learned that I really enjoy memoirs or historical fiction novels. I don’t like novels with “flower-y” language and symbolism, and long sentences describing something simple like “a house.” And when the memoirs get really heavy…”chick-lit” is my guilty pleasure (Sophie Kinsella is my favourite).

If I started to read a book I couldn’t get through, I would just start another. A new job with tons of commute time also allowed me more downtime and excuses to read. I used Goodreads to keep track of the books I was reading through their Yearly Reading Challenge (you can check mine out here). I also used the website to find similar books to the ones I’d enjoy, or connect with friends to see what books they’d read recently.

Here are all of the books I read in 2017 (so far):

The best book I read this year was A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. I highly suggest everyone read this book. I had the unique opportunity to see Amanda and her mother, Lorinda, speak at a book tour trip for Lorinda’s book, One Day Closer. It’s amazing how Amanda went through so much and still has such a positive outlook on life.

What I’m currently reading?

  • Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” – Lena Dunham
  • Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape – Jenna Miscavige Hill

So what does it feel like to achieve a resolution? Pretty fucking great. Not only have I gained back my love of reading, but I’ve also learned a lot through the memoirs I read. I’ve found that I spend less time watching TV or Netflix. I’ve also saved A LOT of money. If I had bought every book new, at an average of $21.99/book, I would’ve spent $659.70 before taxes.

As the new year approaches, I have 246 books on my “to-read” list on Goodreads and a new goal to set for 2018. Let me know what books I should add to my “to-read” list for the upcoming year.

I can’t wait for the stories and adventures that lie on the pages ahead of me.


The Benefits in Signing Up for Influenster

I tried to title this blog with a cute play on words as I just received the Benefits Benefaves VoxBox from Influenster…absolutely free! First of all, if you don’t have Influenster, you HAVE to sign up. You get free products to review and test – and all you have to do is write reviews on the products. There’s really no downside to this deal. If you want to sign up, use my referral link here

Even before I received this VoxBox, I was an avid user of Benefits Cosmetics. My go-to bronze is Benefits’ Hoola Bronzer. I like that it’s not shimmery and it’s the perfect shade for my skin tone. Thankfully Influenster included the bronzer in the Benefaves VoxBox and helped me stock up! 

More recently I’ve been obsessed with trying to figure out which eyebrow pencil/gel/etc. is right for me. Although I love the formula and packaging for the Ka-Brow! Eyebrow Gel, I like the Benefits’ Goof Proof best. It takes less time and it’s almost impossible to mess-up, especially on those mornings where I’m in a rush.

As someone with short eyelashes, I was happy to have the chance to test the Benefits’ they’re Real! mascara. After curling my eyelashes, I definitely notice a difference in length. What I like best about the mascara is definitely the brush, and the ability to use it vertically and horizontally.

However, my absolute favourite item in the VoxBox is definitely PoreFessional. If there’s one makeup item I use on a daily basis it’s definitely this Benefits’ Primer. The shade is perfect for my skin tone and definitely helps cover up my pores – I even got my mom using it! 

Overall, this Benefits VoxBox was the ABSOLUTE BEST VoxBox to receive for free. It was great to get extras of my favourites as well as try products from the brand that I was hesitant to purchase myself.

Don’t forget to sign up for Influenster using my referral code. Why would you say no to free makeup? 

Thanks Influenster!


Only good things 

I don’t know who, or why, but I found more than one occurrence of this quote on a trip to Banff. Plastered all around the climb and summit of Sulphur Mountain, I was curious as to its meaning.

A google search led me to the following quotes:

Allow only good things into your world.

Only good things will follow.

Have faith, stay positive, and only good things will happen.

Only good things happen to me.

Sometimes movements will spread their message across any place that will have them, but I think this person was just trying to be positive. No complaints there.

Imagine if we accepted only good things for ourselves.

Only good friendships.
Only good relationships.
Only good choices.
Only good food (with an exception every once in a while).

What if we only allowed good things in our life. What if we had faith and stayed positive.

This is a reminder to myself to accept only good things.


Ontario Summer Bucket List (Mine to Discover)

I spent last year travelling to 7 different countries, visiting museums, landmarks and gorgeous views. This summer my goal is to travel and adventure to places right in my own backyard. As I started compiling this list, I’ve noticed so many more Conservation Area or National Park signs. It’s funny what you see when you’re actually looking. The little things right?

Sometimes we forget just how beautiful Ontario can be.

Ontario is seriously underrated.

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In no particular order:

  • Rockwood Conservation Area – Rockwood/Guelph ✔
  • Webster’s Falls – Hamilton
  • Crawford Lake Conservation Area – Guelph
  • Bruce Peninsula National Park – Bruce Peninsula
  • Scarborough Bluffs – Scarborough ✔
  • Weber’s – Orillia ✔
  • Elora Gorge – Elora
  • Kensington Market – Toronto 
  • Byward Market – Ottawa ✔
  • Cottage – anywhere ✔
  • Paddleboard – anywhere ✔
  • Mount Nemo Conservation Area – Guelph
  • Laurel Creek Conservation Area – Waterloo ✔
  • Walter Bean Grand River Trail – Kitchener
  • Algonquin Provincial Park
  • Parliament Hill – Ottawa ✔
  • See the Aurora Borealis – absolutely anywhere
  • Kelso Conservation Area – Milton

The summer is way too short.

Any suggestions? Let me know!


The Love Bus

One of the great, little things, about Trafalgar is one of the bus rules.

I think this simple rule made a huge difference in our trip. The rotating of seats allowed us to sit next to different people throughout the trip, but also remain with our families and friends. We had the opportunity to chat with familiar faces, or get to know new ones. Although we didn’t bond with absolutely everyone on the trip,  Not only did we get to know more people, but we also had the chance to see different city views.

You know in school when the back of the bus was considered “the cool place to be.” This was not necessarily the case when it came to a 10-day Eurotrip. For the longer journeys it was nice to sit at the back with the most legroom. For the shorter trips the front seats were the best for the best sights. The rotating seats rule ensured every person on the bus had equal opportunity to see the sights. No animosity was created with people “claiming” the back of the bus or always getting the front view.

I think this was one of the little things that made our trip so great.


The 5 Things You Need to Survive Songkran on Khao San Road

Although this is late and it’s the last day of Songkran, I thought I’d write a list of things I wish I knew last year.


1) You are going to get wet. 

Absolutely every stall on Khao San Road celebrates Songkran. No matter where you go someone will dump a bucket of water on you, spray you with a water gun or get you wet by whatever means necessary. Even if you try and dodge buckets of water eventually one will get you – trust me, I tried. We took a break from the celebration and sat at one of the restaurants… a little kid still sprayed us with water. Luckily, the Thai sun is so strong you’ll be dry in no time.

2) Random people will touch your face with chalk.

It took a while to get used to random Thai men caressing my face – especially when I didn’t understand what was going on at first. Don’t worry, they’re harmless and just giving you their blessings.

3) Waterproof absolutely everything

Bring ziplog bags, buy cell phone cases, or just leave it all at home. I brought my passport in an under the pants fanny pack and it got completely soaked. If you’re planning on bringing valuables make sure they’re either waterproof or wrapped away. Stalls all over Khao San Road sell plastic phone cases that look like this:

4) Waterguns and water are available everywhere. 

Don’t worry about not finding a water gun. There are so many available you can bargain and find the cheapest one. Unfortunately I bought mine earlier and found cheaper ones along the way. Stalls also provide buckets of water for your water gun refill needs. Depending on where you get your water gun, sometimes these places will charge a couple of bhats. Try and find a water gun stall that will let you refill for free.

5) Even if you’re not on Khao San Road, you’ll still get wet. 

After we were done celebrating on Khao San Road, we hopped on the (free) public bus and headed back to our hostel. Unfortunately for us we didn’t realize Songkran celebrations occur absolutely everywhere in the city. All dry and with electronics in hand, we continued to get soaked with water until we were in the safety of our hostel. We even got chased by a little boy…

Bonus Tip: 6) Have the best time ever. 

Songkran is a lot of fun and a very unique experience. Not a lot of public spaces will allow you to dump buckets of waters on strangers without apology.

Is this real life? (📹: @jtrian)

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Do you have any Songkran stories? Share below!