I realize it has been a very quiet posting year. We have been busy and my interest hasn’t been in writing and posting, but I still want to do my annual Ten New Things. It will likely be my last post on this site. It isn’t really worth paying for a site that I use a few times a year. I’ll keep you posted another way on interesting things.
Not posting didn’t mean things didn’t happen this year. It was actually a very “get things done” kind of year for Dave and I. We decided to stick around North America and put some money into things that required some upgrading and just getting done, like putting up new blinds and buying a fridge, or getting Dave some oral surgery he had been putting off for several years. It was time! The only thing on our list that we didn’t complete was creating a will. Very exciting, I know, but still needs to be done. Here are some other things we got up to.
1. Donating my voice
I blogged about donating my voice in February. It was a way for me to volunteer on my own time that held meaning to me. Since then my voice has three potential matches. I’m hoping that it gets used. It would be incredible to know that someone has their own sound which deepens their identity because I spent the time to donate my voice. If you want to learn more check out the Vocal ID website.
2.Negotiating buying a new car
Ugh! No likes doing this, but it had to be done. Dave’s car had been hanging on for about 3 years and we kept putting off buying a car so we could save more money to get the one we wanted. It literally rolled into the scrapyard in March with very little life left. We had to do a patch up job on the breaks in January to hold it out until the new 2016 redesigned Prius came out.
When I bought my last car in 2006, my dad did the negotiating, I had no idea what I was doing. I just picked the car that made the most sense for me and my budget and I promised myself my next one would be a hybrid or electric or something that didn’t depend on gas. I figured by 2016 there had to be more options. And there definitely are today. But the process of negotiating prices and going to dealerships was stressful, but I managed to pay hardball as best I could with the information I could gather. The sales lady said I played a hard game and I wanted to tell her that I would have gotten her lower if I hadn’t been too exhausted by that point.
We love the new car, it saves so much money. At the time we bought it Dave had to drive to Surrey each day for work and spent 1.5hrs a day in the car. This was going to save us $100 a month. This January, my office is moving to a more transit friendly location and we will sell my trusty Pontiac Pursuit, that I will have had for 11 years by then and, finally, we will be down to one car, which I have been wanting to do for years.
3. Visiting Prince Edward Island
On our trip out East this year we visited family in Ontario and New Brunswick, but tagged on a little side trip to PEI where we stayed for three nights. The island is lovely and you can tell people take great pride in keeping their yards and homes in good shape. While we were there we had another first, where we stayed at a really nice rustic hotel, Inn at Bay Fortune, that included a multi-course meal by the chef/owner Michael Smith. It was a fantastic meal at a long table and we met some really nice people. Before dinner we also got to walk around the property and eat appies served in the yard and back herb garden. We even talked to Michael Smith, which was also another first (talking to a celebrity). It was the highlight of our time in PEI.
4. Going to Austin and Waco, Texas
We had a surprise trip to Waco and Austin, Texas when Dave’s old roommate from the Men of Marpole house, Mark Mayhew, got engaged early in the year and set his wedding for August. We had a great time with friends at the wedding in Waco. There was a big BBQ for the engagement party and a delicious spread at the wedding at the botanical garden’s there. The live band was amazing, the best I’ve seen. Everyone was dancing until the end.
After the wedding we did a quick stop at Magnolia, the market and outdoor area created by the couple who host Fixer Upper on HGTV. I don’t know much about the show, but it was the only other thing to do in Waco. We then headed back to Austin for a night were we checked out a cowboy boot store, stopped at a brewery, ate some awesome tacos and had amazing BBQ at Terry’s Blacks BBQ. We also went down and watched the bats that live under the bridge fly out at dusk. There are about a million of them. It was a fun time checking out the city before heading back to Vancouver. Our last little highlight was seeing all the commotion of Trump’s motorcade coming into town. They shut down the highway so that he and about a hundred police offices in cars and bikes could escort his 10 black cars into town for the Republican convention there. What an unnecessary show of importance.
5. Building my spice tolerance
When people have me over for dinner and ask what I don’t like, I say spicy food, salmon and goat meat. (Just kidding on the goat meat, I actually don’t have a problem with it.) Dave loves spicy food, but it has been something I just had no interest in in the past. Even in China, we had a spicy and non-spicy table at every restaurant, so Dave and I ate most meals apart so he could get his spice on. This year something changed in me though. Something clicked and I needed to figure this out. I think I’ve watched enough Anthony Bourdain to realize that if I want to experience what the world has to offer for food, I need to get over this spice problem. So I have and I realized that with spice used the right way, it doesn’t just add heat, but it also adds to the flavour and I think that is what I’ve been missing. Everything spicy I tried when I was young just killed the flavour, it was spice for burning your lips off and making your nose run, but not to enhance a dish. Now I know the difference.
We make this awesome dinner of Malaysian beef rendang. We love it and it was the perfect dish to gradually bring up my spice tolerance. We started with one Thai chilli and have moved up to six, with the seeds. It has opened up a whole different variety of dishes that I can enjoy at restaurants or at home and because of that I’ve been cooking a lot more Asian dishes. Last year I would never have owned fish sauce, hoisin, Kaffir lime leaves, or turmeric, but those are staples in the house now.
More to come!