Tuesday, July 22, 2014

my favourite podcasts.


For a really long time, I refused to listen to podcasts. I'm a visual person, I said. I can't concentrate, I said. I don't have time, I said. 

And then my favourite blogger Elise* started a podcast and I had to listen. How could I not? If Elise has a podcast, I guess I'll tryyyy, I said. 

And so a podcast listener was born. 

And now I have a few favourites (and yes, I talk in "ands"): 


Elise Gets Crafty - Obviously this had to make the top of the list. Elise mainly talks about blogging, business, and creativity. I blog, but I'm not a business owner, and I don't consider myself to be very creative. And yet I'm excited every Wednesday morning to hear a new episode. I love Elise's take on things; she and her guests always leave me feeling inspired. 


The Joy the Baker Podcast - I only recently started listening to this show, hosted by Joy Wilson and Tracy Benjamin, but I'm already a huge fan. You guys, they're hilarious! I can't even tell you what they talk about because it seems like they talk about everything—blogging, life, hilarious things on the internet, penises. (It's true, I only started listening a few episodes ago and penises have been mentioned in the last two.) Yup. If you like laughing and hanging out with girlfriends, this podcast is for you. 


The Sarah R. Bagley Podcast - Sarah's tagline is "a recovering perfectionist's guide to a B+ life" so of course I'm a fan. I've always been a perfectionist and now, partly because of Sarah's blog and podcast, I see the virtue in allowing myself to relaaaax. Or to try to, anyway. Every time I listen to Sarah interview a guest, I feel like I'm grabbing coffee with a couple of friends. See? Relaaaax.


The Lively Show - Also a podcast with an interview format, Jess and her guests talk about everything from wellness and relationships to blogging and careers. Each episode has something in common though: living with intention. After listening, I always feel more purposeful and take away a new idea for how I can live a better life. 

***

In case you're like me and think you can't focus or don't have enough time to listen to podcasts, here are a couple thoughts: 

1. Find a podcast you love! People had recommended podcasts to me over the years, but none of them ever really caught my interest. It took a podcast by someone I already knew, about topics I was already interested in, to get me hooked. (Now that I am hooked though, I might go back and try some of the suggestions given to me before.)

2. Multitask! I listen to podcasts while I'm making coffee and breakfast in the morning, while I'm putting make-up on and getting dressed, or while I'm doing mindless tasks around the apartment. I can't read while doing these things, but I can sure as heck listen. Sure, I might miss a second or two of a show, but if the conversation's about something I'm really into, I'll take a short break from the other thing I'm doing and give my full attention to the show, or I can always listen to that part later. (And you know what I remembered? Back in high school I used to love listening to talk radio shows while I got ready for school in the mornings!)

Do you have any podcast recommendations for me? Let me know if you listen to any of these!

*Technically I should write "my favourite blogger, Elise," but this is literally what I say when talking about her to friends—"My favourite blogger Elise..." all in one breath, as if that was her name, haha. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

tony meets canada: notes from the first two days.












+ These photos are a pretty accurate representation of Tony's first few days in Canada. Tim Horton's, farmers' market, shopping, family, and food.

+ At the Toronto airport, we bought bottles of water. Tony said, "In China it's 2 kuai! Here it's 2 dollars!" (2 CNY = approx. 30 cents)

+ I think Tony might feel a little cheated when it comes to the Canadian sky: When we landed in Fredericton, he immediately said, "Where are the stars? I can't see the stars!" and when we woke up the next morning, he said, "The sky's not so blue" and when I didn't reply, he said, "Well is it? Is it?"

+ But. When we landed in Fredericton, we both remarked that we could smell trees! Glorious glorious trees!

+ At Target and the mall in Fredericton, he said, "There's not so many people here!" I think at one point, he also asked, "Where are all the people?"

+ The first time in a car here, he asked, "Do I have to buckle up?" (In China, no one does.)

+ Things with family are going well so far. Everyone likes Tony (of course), and even my dad got along with him!

+ Tony brought snacks for everyone to try: chicken feet, tofu, cucumber chips, seaweed chips. Everyone has liked the chips, and my dad loved the chicken feet!

+ We went for ice cream last night with Nan and Dan. He ordered a small chocolate mint fudge and when I gave it to him, he said, "Wow!" "Welcome to Canada," I said.

+ Besides ice cream and Tim Hortons, other "things of note" he's eaten include samosas from the market, Dixie Lee, and beet greens.

The plan for this week: a doctor's appointment and renewing my license, photo session with Kandise Brown, Snooty Fox (!!!) with friends, Saint John to visit family, and then PEI with Melissa! Woot woot!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

on sending fun mail.

I used to be good at sending mail. In fact, sending mail was my thing.

I sent birthday cards, Christmas cards, even Halloween cards to family and friends. I knew the value of a handwritten thank you note and sent them all. the. time. I mailed friends small gifts, just because.

I sent mail to friends living in other countries, other cities, other neighborhoods. I even sent mail to people living in the same house as me. (I lived in residence all four years of my Bachelor degree.)

And then, two years ago, I made the decision to move to China. And I figured that living in a country halfway around the world would mean I'd send even more mail. But I didn't.

I think this is partly because I've lost myself a bit over the past few years. But mostly I think it's because China's stationery selection is not so great (a major understatement), and finding the perfect card has become really difficult.

After a while, the novelty of sending friends touristy postcards wears off. And then all that's left in Beijing are not-so-pretty cards with poorly—but sometimes hilariously!—translated sentiments:


The novelty of these also wears off pretty quickly.

So I was really happy to discover Tiny Prints. I spent hours going through all of their stationery and loved the bright colours and patterns I saw! Seriously, you guys, I didn't know I could get so excited about cards!

Eventually, I chose two options to order and customize for myself:


I've always loved the idea of monograms. It makes you feel a little bit fancy when you have something with your initials on it, but I also think it can be kind of stuffy. That's why I really like the "Monogram Bubble"; it's a little bit fancy, but a lot of fun!


I love the "Cheery Checklist" because I am a sucker for things that can multitask and look good doing it. And I got extra excited when I realized I could customize the checklist!


As soon as I received the cards, I was back to my old self, planning little ways to make people happy through mail.

I used one of the "Cheery Checklist" cards to write a thank you note to my three assistants who helped me teach Summer Camp (Hooray! I'm done teaching and on vacation!) and delivered it along with bubble tea—after all, I'm still in China.

P.S. I once said that instead of sending Christmas cards, I'd rather send New Year cards. Well, not only does Tiny Prints have those, they have Chinese New Year cards, too! This expat-living-in-China-and-dating-a-Chinese-man is super impressed!

P.P.S. If you're living overseas like me and think International shipping is sometimes too expensive, here are a couple of ideas: 1) Order whatever it is you want right before you go home for a visit so that way you can bring it back in your luggage. 2) Order it, have it shipped home, and have someone slip it into a care package for you. Can you tell I've been around the block a couple of times? ;) Of course, if it's something I really want or it's a special occasion, I'll just suck it up and pay the shipping fee.

(Personalized stationery c/o Tiny Prints)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

welcome to china / 3.


Where people nap anywhere—in this case, on the side of a road in Chaoyang Park.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I am living with a boy + the truth about our relationship.


I am living with a boy.*

And now I know why couples argue at Ikea. Why double sinks are the dream. How you can poop while the person you love (and have sex with) is in the next room.

I know what it's like to try and combine two apartments'—two lives'—worth of things and end up kicking boxes and fighting and yelling—Fine! Move all your shit here and then decide to leave!—and crying in your friend's apartment. On Thanksgiving, no less.

I know what it's like to want, to need some space, but then miss them when they're gone. What it's like to argue about whose turn it is to wash the dishes, do the laundry, take out the garbage. (His, mine, his, almost always.)

I know what it's like to spontaneously start slow dancing in the kitchen/living room/bedroom, arms around each other, light touches that mean I'll never let go.

I know what it's like when these sweet slow dances turn into spinning faster and laughing louder. What it's like to fall asleep laughing, crying, or harumphing in anger. To touch toes in the morning and move away quickly or snuggle closer, depending on the circumstances of the falling asleep the night before.

I know what it's like to have someone to watch TV with, to cook with, to go grocery shopping with. To have a built-in best friend.

I know what it's like to be doing something mundane, and all of a sudden catch each other's glance and drop everything to uh.... you know.

***


I post a lot of photos and anecdotes about me and Tony—on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on this blog—and as a result, everyone thinks we're this super happy, lovely, wonderful, cute couple. And we are, most of the time.

But.

We're not all of the time. And I would never want anyone to think that. Because it's not real. We fight and we argue. About silly things—peach or strawberry jam, toilet paper usage—and about more important things—money, family, cultural differences. Sometimes these arguments/fights are resolved quickly, and sometimes they take a couple days. Most of the time we fight fairly and "nicely." But sometimes we don't. I've thrown a bookbag on the floor and I've used the word "asshole." Definitely not my finer moments. Tony's more patient and less angry than me, but he sometimes tries to avoid talking about things.

Sometimes I want out. But I never want to leave.


The other night, after a particularly bad argument fight honestly, I don't know what to call it, I said to Tony: "Maybe love is making the same choice again and again, choosing to love each other."

*Yes, I know that I should say "man," but I still usually say "boy" and "girl" instead of "man" and "woman." Maybe it's because I'm young at heart? Slash, I'm actually an old lady inside, so maybe that's why?

Friday, July 11, 2014

quintessentially new york.


I saw this image and thought, "This view is so quintessentially New York." (And then I had to google "quintessential" to make sure it means what I thought it meant.)

P.S. Empire state of mind and spires of NYC.

(Photo by Yossy Arefi, for A Cup of Jo)
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