To PSL or Not to PSL?

I have always been the type of person to hate something outright just because it’s popular. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to break myself of this tendency towards snap judgements like that. I often use the phrase “50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong“. If everyone else seems to love something, it must have at least some redeeming qualities, no?


But the REAL reason I try to force myself not to turn up my nose at something just because the mindless masses are all about it is because I “missed out” on the first few years of Twilight fangirling for that very reason. It was everywhere so I avoided it. Then I caved, tried it, loved it, and regretted not falling in sooner. That was a life lesson for me, as dumb as it sounds. Stop being so stubborn!

So, with that mindset, I feel it is my duty to honour my own culture – as a millennial white girl – and NOT take a stance again the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte. I figure I should probably try it, right? It’s been “a thing” for several years already. Perhaps resistance is futile.


I very recently finally tried chai tea for the first time and am on board with the millions of people who are in league with Oprah, loving the chai. Hot, iced, or in frappuccino form, tap a vein and plug me in. I love that shit.

Since I don’t drink coffee, apart from the occasional mocha, PSL has never really been approachable for me. Alas, Starbucks just introduced a PS Chai with their annual re-release of PSL. I discussed it with a friend (I never take these decisions lightly, you know.) and we agreed that if I am to succumb to pumpkin spice addiction, the chai version is a good gateway drug.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks right now as I write this, sipping on my very first pumpkin spice beverage.

It’s… not bad.


I’ll probably try the latte at some point, just to fully commit to my personal experiment but… Yeah, I don’t get it. I’m not convinced, Elvis-lovers.

I will go back to my regular chai lattes with no regrets.

There is another aspect to this subject. The whole ‘white girls, wearing Uggs, drinking pumpkin spice lattes’ rage that I see all over my social media feeds. What is that?! My Facebook timeline feels like equal parts “I’m so happy PSL is back” and “the obsession with this shit is the downfall of society”. Why the hell does what someone chooses to drink make other people SO angry? I get it that it can be kind of annoying to see a trillion posts about one thing, but this drink seems to make a bunch of people happy. Shouldn’t that be a good thing? They aren’t forcing anyone else to drink it. Why should it matter to the non-PSL drinkers? Just ignore the posts if it bothers you that much.


It’s like hating vegans for the choices they make about what they want to eat or not and making nasty comments to them or belittling them or judging them. Yeah, there are the few that make it difficult for the rest but none of the vegans I have ever met are like that. Same as not all Christians are narrow-minded homophobic racists. Not all Middle Eastern people are terrorists. Not all Twilight fans are psycho celebrity stalkers. Not all [fill in the blank] are [pick a stereotype]. It’s actually an extremely small percentage of any one group to fit a preconceived idea of them. Yet that is how society treats everyone. I hate that.

Wow. That went off on a tangent. (Just accept it. Love me.)

My point… You go ahead, you pumpkin spice loving enthusiasts, and spread your joy and passion all over the internet. You won’t hear any complaints about it from me.

And haters, sit the fuck down and shut up. Channel that conviction into something you love rather than giving someone shit for talking about what they like. We don’t all need to agree. Don’t be stupid.


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Love and Loss

Sometimes, I say too much. I’ve always been a reflective (self-obsessed) person and I’m very open and honest about my shortcomings. I usually think the worst of myself and am very blunt and brutal when I talk about my own behaviour. I am finally beginning to realize that it can be very off-putting for other people to listen to my self-flagellation. I never really understood that. I guess because the reasons I freely shared those things was not for someone to correct me or turn it back around and compliment me. I was never fishing. And in fact, I’m quite uncomfortable when someone disagrees with my negative view of myself. I suppose I was just putting my thoughts out there as a way to release them from my mind and have someone understand.

More and more, I have come to find that we aren’t supposed to do that. And people don’t understand because I seem to be alone in how I feel about myself and the willingness (or even need) to share it. Most people don’t like to see themselves that way or try to hide it.

When I was younger, I spouted off stuff like that (and other inappropriate things) all the time. As I grew up, I started noticing other’s unfavourable reactions and tried to rein it in. I don’t think I figured out the why part until much later in life, and am still struggling with that. All I knew was that I shouldn’t talk so much, especially about myself.

I learned to be silent.

I gradually stopped telling people how I felt about anything. This has ended up hurting me much more than having some people misunderstand me. At least I had had a handful of people who sort of got me, even if they didn’t fully get my feelings. It’s gotten to the point where I have distanced myself so much from others that when something actually matters, there are only a few people I feel I could turn to.

I lost many friendships. I let a lot of really great people leave my life. I didn’t get rid of friends because I didn’t like them. There were no big fights. I just slowly let them fade away until we didn’t have contact anymore. I did that because I didn’t know how to keep talking. It was never for my benefit, always the other person’s. I didn’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable by forcing my presence on them.

I’ve done this to so many people over the years. One particular case stands out and hurts me the most.


Tara was my best friend in high school. We were pretty much inseparable. I even lived at her house for my last few months before graduating. Her family was like my other family (and in some ways, I was closer to hers than my own). She was like a sister.

After high school, I moved away but we still talked almost every day. We did our best to stay close and keep each other up to date about what was going on in our lives. But over the years, we slowly began drifting apart. We stopped calling each other, we made seeing each other less and less of a priority. It got to the point where we would only send a message or two back and forth once every few years.

I guess that happens with a lot of friendships, but I feel like the reason why is different. I could legitimately say that we just grew up and developed different daily lives and drifted naturally. That’s true. And I am okay with the fact that our priorities changed and other people became more important. But if feels like there was more than that. I always felt like she was upset with me for being such a crappy friend and that she didn’t want to make any more effort if I wasn’t reciprocating. I felt like it was all my fault and if I had only called her back, we’d still be in each other’s lives.

I know this is an immature viewpoint and that I’m probably being a lot harder on myself than reality demands. But I still feel it and can’t help it.

I would often think of Tara and want to check in with her to see how she was doing and what was going on with her, but for reasons I don’t really understand yet, I felt insecure and uncertain of how my messages would be received so I hardly ever did it. I reasoned that if she wanted to hear from me, she’d ask. That if I left the last message, not to bug her again until she responded. I felt like I should reach out, but rarely did and always felt guilty about that. I was sad that I didn’t really know her as an adult. I loved and missed my friend but I didn’t say so. Now I don’t have that chance.

Tara was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. Although we all know cancer is serious, due to the fact that her mom also had cancer several years ago and was fine, I guess I just thought she would be okay. And she was, for awhile. She was in remission for what seemed to me to be a long time.

And then she messaged me at the end of February – only 5 months ago – that the cancer was back and had spread and she was now Stage 4. You hear that and the fear floods through you. We know Stage 4 is not something people live with very long. But the thing about Tara is that she is ferociously positive and it’s infectious. She knew that her time was limited but I don’t think anyone realized how quick her time would pass.

Her battle with cancer ended one week ago.

And now I realize, too late, that regret is a horrible, horrible thing to live with.


I was taken aback at how intense the sadness immediately hit me. I was devastated. Even though I knew it was coming eventually, since we hadn’t been close for the last 10 years or so, I thought, sure, I’d be sad –  but I had no idea just how sad. I was not prepared for the effect her death would have.

I felt like a complete asshole for wallowing in how it affected ME when there were so many people who were still in her life that would be altered completely – her husband, her children, her parents and her brother, and all the friends she was still close to. I felt like I had lost the right to be as sad as I was because I hadn’t made an effort when she was alive. I wasted all this time. I didn’t even tell her when she was sick how much I missed her or how I felt about it. I kept my mouth shut. I think that’s the worst part – she died not knowing that I even cared at all. I hate it and I have to live with that regret now for the rest of my life.


I guess it’s human nature to make shitty things into something we can learn from. I know now how awful it feels to have something you truly regret and wish you could fix but the person is gone. I want to do whatever it takes so that I never feel this again. People in my life will continue to die but I can see now that it must be easier to let them go if you have a good relationship with them rather than to have your grief added to with all the things you left unsaid.


Just a few days before she died, she left these words. She knew the most important lesson of life and shared it with everyone. I’ve taken these words to heart and will be doing my best to live better.

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The First 30


To start my happy days challenge, I wanted to take a picture of the one thing (person) that always makes me happy in any situation and, truthfully, is the only reason I’m still alive a lot of the time. My husband.

I also wanted to do something fun so after work, he picked me up and took me out for bubble tea. I’m sure everyone who reads this will also already be fully aware of my love for bubble tea. We actually went to a place I hadn’t been before, on the recommendation of my coworker. Bubble Tease is the chain that’s found in malls and generally isn’t the greatest. I was unaware that they even had standalone locations until I saw one downtown on Dundas Street. I had no idea there was one in Mississauga but my coworker promised me that it was good, so we decided to “try something new”.

So, day 1 combined two of my favourites. Just look at that face! How can you not love him?! 😛


I noticed the other day on Facebook that multiple people were talking about the TV show 13 Reasons Why. I knew it was a book – back when I was writing about reading more, I had gone to Chapters with my friend Abbygail and she pointed it out as one she had read – but I didn’t know they had made a show based on it. When I heard about the book, I looked it up to see what it was about. I read through the entire Wikipedia page and thought that was enough for me – reading the synopsis rather than the entire book. There was nothing in the chapter summaries that jumped out that made me think I wanted to know more about that. But there were alllllll these posts on Facebook about how great the show was and how everyone should see it. I didn’t want to read it but I could envision it being interesting to watch. I was bored and didn’t want to go to bed just yet, so I decided to check it out.

OMG. So good! And yes, everyone should see it. I actually think it should be something they show in high schools to all students. Suicide is a topic that should be talked about openly. I myself have a million opinions about it~ but I shall spare you and won’t get into them here.

I started the first episode just before midnight. I ended up staying up until like 5:30 or something and then went to bed for a few hours and then came back and watched the rest all day long. The reason it made me so happy to find a TV show I loved so much was because that’s so rare for me! I am so intensely picky about what appeals to me and I lose interest so quickly.

It was a nice way to spend my day off, marathoning a great TV show, eating the leftover piece of Truffle Royale cake I got from Bubble Tease yesterday, and, as always, there’s the ever-present cup of tea.

Plus, I love my living room. I am proud of the way it turned out after we finally painted and got that wall unit. It’s so comfy in there.


It was so nice out. Cloudy and cool. Perfect. Most people enjoy sunshine and warm weather, but I am NOT looking forward to the return of summer. I wish it would stay like this all the time.

After work, I decided that I would take advantage of the weather and go for a walk. There is a pond and a wooded area behind a school not too far from our house so I thought I’d go explore that area further and see what was there. I was delighted to find out there is a paved trail following a creek that leads all the way through this area of the city. I hopped on just behind the pond and followed it for about an hour to see just how far it went. It just so happens to lead almost directly to where I transfer buses for work. I made a plan that I would use this trail for my walks home – much more scenic and peaceful than the busy street.

Even still, I can’t describe how or why it made me so happy, but I was smiling and practically skipping the entire time. Something about being with nature, even just that little bit, is so relaxing and to find something like that so close to home and in a direction I go so often just seemed perfect.

I ended up posting a whole bunch of pictures into an album on Facebook, so if we are friends, you can look at those for more views of the trail, if you’re interested.


I started selling my Twilight-inspired crafty things on Etsy a few years ago as a way to help fund my trips to do Twilight-related things. I made quite a few sales right away which helped out tremendously. There was a point where I had more orders than I had time to make and had to turn some down. It’s something I like doing, but at one point, with the extras I was making to take with me to sell in person as well, it was getting to be where I was sick of it. Each one is a lot of work! So I stopped ‘pimping myself out’ and the sales tapered off. Every once in awhile though, three years later, I still get the occasional order. Since they are spread out now, I am back to enjoying it. Doing one at a time, here and there, is nice. And I’m always grateful for the few extra dollars.

This particular sale I pictured made me smile because the buyer lives in the town I lived when I was little. It’s a small world.


I pretty much explained everything about Kawehi in the caption, but the whole day was a happy day. Hubby and I went downtown and we had bubble tea twice – first at Gong Cha, then again at Chatime, he had ramen and I had gyudon at Sansotei, I got my favourite treat and a matcha latte at Tsujiri, and we stopped by the Toronto sign. It’s always a fun time with him, no matter what we do.

Kawehi herself is adorable. I have been following her a bit on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram since I saw that Nirvana video posted on one of those sites… Buzzfeed or something. I like that she’s who she is without apology. Not that she should have to apologize for anything because she’s not abrasive or controversial. She’s just a “little girl” with a potty mouth and likes to turn famous songs into something new and make them her own, and for some reason, some people have a problem with that.

Because I wanted to document it for Happy Days, we waited around after the show to get a picture with her. I briefly explained it to her and then we had an epic mini-photoshoot. She was hilarious and awesome.

(P.S. The date on this one is off because I posted it at 12:05am. We had to wait to talk to her for quite awhile.)


Another perfect weather day. I’m relishing the temperature and gloominess for as long as it lasts, because I know it won’t be long before I feel like dying in the heat and sunshine.

For the entire day, I sat at my kitchen table, working on my blog and organizing my iTunes while taking long stretches of time just staring out the window, watching the rain. I LOVE rain. I love the sound of rain, the smell of earth when it rains, the colour of the sky when it rains, the sound of tires splashing rain on the street… I love lazy days when I can do all the things I enjoy that “waste time”. I love sitting and staring at nothing, drinking my tea, and being contemplative about life.


I’m really, really lazy when it comes to getting my hair cut. It had been almost a full year since I cut it last. Luckily, my hair is pretty healthy so I guess I can get away with it. It was pretty gross at the ends though. And getting too long again! Since I’m not growing it to donate it this time (too much dyeing going on), I can keep it at whatever length I want. I think it looks best when it’s just below my shoulder blades. The actual process of getting my haircut is extremely unenjoyable for me. I don’t know how people find going to the salon a relaxing thing to do. First of all, the salon is always too bright and too noisy. Then you have to feel awkward making conversation with the stylist. Plus having her all up in my personal space for an hour or two (no matter how nice she is)… It’s draining for me. But the end result is worth it. I like how the cut ended up and left feeling pretty pleased.

Instead of taking the picture at the actual salon (‘cause I probably just forgot to), I took it right in the middle of the mall, with a bunch of people staring at me, presumably judging me, for having a selfie session. But the “chandelier” behind me changes colours and it’s so pretty! So screw them and their shifty eyeballs.


Hubby called me at work in the morning. He was so excited. For those that don’t know, it’s really hard to get tickets for Comic Con. They are given out on a lottery basis. You have to sit in a virtual waiting room and hope you’re going to be able to buy some. I don’t really understand how it works but usually people only get them for one of the days. Hubby “won” the ability to get us tickets for all 5 days. So we’re going to San Diego in July! (For his sake, I’m going to be excited about it and not try to worry too much about how hot it’s going to be.) And I’ll get to see some friends there too, so that will be great.

Hubby asked me what I was going to cosplay as and I laughed in his face. (He was just kidding, ‘cause he knows me. Haha.) I DO NOT, as a rule, dress up. Ever. That’s why I’m wearing a Rilakkuma kigurumi onesie in the picture. To be funny.

I mentioned in the caption how I don’t believe in luck. I think this is going to needs its own blog post at some point. For now, I stand by that statement and I’ll just say that it’s not luck, it’s perspective. I have been working my butt off to see everything in a positive light lately, especially since doing the happy days challenge. I believe that when you put positivity out into the world, it comes back to you. This is one of those instances when something good happened and I feel like it was like a karmic reward.


I said it all in the caption. Change your perspective, change your life.


Vacation! I don’t work that hard, so it’s not like I need a vacation from work but just a vacation from the norm is nice. And necessary. A change in scenery and schedule is a break from the monotony of life and sometimes seems like all that’s worth living for.

Before I went to Japan last time, I am somewhat ashamed to say I had never had actual sushi before. Just the westernized things, like California rolls. Never anything with raw fish. I grew up hating fish (force-feeding is a horrible thing!) and assumed raw fish would be even worse than cooked. BUT~ since I also grew up hating steak and it’s now my favourite thing and because of my experience with avoiding things for stupid reasons (like Twilight), I decided to try it. I had some salmon nigiri at Genki Sushi in Tokyo and was pleasantly surprised. I don’t think I could work in a Japanese restaurant and not feel like a fraud if I didn’t actually eat sushi. Since working here, I’ve tried many things I would have passed up before because they looked or sounded gross. In my experience, you miss out on some great things that way… Just sayin’. It’s gotten to the point where I not only know which fish I like raw and don’t but also how I like them prepared. My current favourite is just plain old salmon as nigiri with no wasabi. (Haven’t gotten to the point where I appreciate wasabi yet.) No soy sauce, no ginger. Just the salmon and a bit of rice. Yum.

I’m not just being biased when I say that Toshi has the best sushi in Brampton. (I’d even say all of the GTA, but I haven’t tried enough restaurants downtown to be sure.) It’s really good. High quality fish, well prepared by experienced chefs with attention to detail. I wanted to have a little treat on my way out the door because over the next 3 weeks, I’m sure I’ll miss it.


I love having all my favourite colours in my hair. It’s just so much work so I don’t touch it up often. Something about looking at those colours in combination makes me happy. Like a mermaid or a peacock or something. So pretty. I wish it would last but I know they’ll start to fade in less than a week.

For those that are curious, I used six different Manic Panic dyes: Green Envy, Enchanted Forest, Siren Song, Electric Lizard, Atomic Turquoise and Purple Haze.


It’s going to be a super busy trip. Our first stop is Winnipeg. Nephie and SIL are getting baptized on Easter and we want to be there for them. There is always way more to squeeze in to our visits to WPG and we never get to it all. I do have to go out to Morden to see my parents and my sister and her kids (and have a filling repaired). From there, we are flying out to Edmonton to see Hubby’s dad and other sister and her kids. Both FIL and my nephew have birthdays then. And THEN, the part I’m most looking forward to, Hubby and I are going by ourselves to Jasper National Park to spend a few days surrounded by gorgeous nature and celebrating our ten years married together. Then back to Edmonton for a few more days before we return home. It should be lots of fun.


One thing I always manage to fit into my Winnipeg trips is meeting up with my friend Courtney (because she leaves me no choice! LOL) and going to Kawaii Crepe, one of my favourite places for a delicious crepe and bubble tea. It’s usually just CW, Nephie and I, but for once, we had Hubby join us. I always get the same thing – a ‘make your own’ crepe with banana, condensed milk, and chocolate chips and I usually pair that with lychee bubble tea. CW always gets honeydew. Always. I don’t think she’s even tried any other flavours in the whole 15-20 years we’ve been drinking it. I like her consistency.


Years and years ago, I was introduced to bubble tea. It sparked an immediate and intense, lifelong love affair. Shortly afterwards, I introduced my friend Courtney and together, we sought out whatever we could in Winnipeg. Then I met Hubby and introduced him. We started in WPG and moved together to discover many bubble tea places in the Toronto area. There, we introduced SIL to bubble tea too. (There have been a ton of other people who we have pushed our bubble tea love on, some successfully, some not so much.) Years later, Nephie came along and we started dragging him with us out to various bubble tea establishments with us. Today, Hubby, SIL, Nephie and I went to a Chatime in WPG and each had our favourites. Neph Jr. was with us. He is not the kind of person you can push anything on to. He’ll try it if he wants to but more often than not, you can delicately suggest something to him, but he’ll turn you down flat. Today, he was more amenable to try something new because he was the only one in a group that didn’t have something. He had his very first bubble tea this morning. It was a proud auntie moment. (I doubt he’ll get another one again for at least a really long time, but that’s not the point right now.)


Nephie and SIL got baptized today. They were both really excited about it and I know it means a lot to them. I have my own issues with church and religion and all of that, but that wouldn’t stop me from being there for them for something that was that important to them.

I am so proud of Nephie and all he is learning about himself and the world. That’s truly one fantastic kid and I’m looking forward to knowing the man he grows into.


We went out to Denny’s for Easter breakfast with SIL and her family. I ate so much and was so satisfyingly full. Then we spent a quiet day at their house before my parents came to pick us up and take us out to their house in Morden. Lots of quality family time spent on this trip!


I only get to spend a day or two with my sister each year. I miss her so much! She’s so fun and my favouritest human on the planet (right up there with Hubby). Time with her is always so short but I look forward to it and relish every moment.

We went bowling with her and her kids. It was a blast. They are all so funny and cute – and really great kids! Well done, B! You are raising some wonderful little humans.


Hubby and I were surprised how often we were able to go for bubble tea on our trip. Winnipeg has way more options than it did when I lived there. I think we were able to have at least one every single day so far. (Don’t judge me. I’m on vacation.) We went out with Nephie and SIL (and Neph Jr. but this time he just had apple juice. LOL) for one last bubble tea before we move on to Edmonton to see other SIL and her side. I had never been to Panda Tea before. It was really good.


We went out for a yummy steak dinner with SIL, BIL, Nephew and FIL to celebrate two birthdays. Nephew’s was on the 16th and FIL’s on the 17th. I cannot believe how huge Nephew is every time I see him. I wonder if he’s going to stop growing anytime soon.


Awhile ago, probably somewhere around the time I became obsessed with nature and hiking, I added a new point to my bucket list, which is to see all of Canada’s National Parks. We went to Banff 2 years ago and I grew up going to Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. Now we’ve added Jasper to my completed list. There are 39 altogether – a lot left to get to but that gives me a lot to look forward to.

Jasper is really beautiful. It’s still mostly covered in snow and we weren’t expecting that, but that also gives us a reason to come back someday so we can see it looking different in the summer as well. It’s nice now because it’s not too crowded and not too hot to walk around and see everything.

In the picture, we are standing on a bridge in Maligne Canyon. I wish photography could accurately capture what I see with my eyes because this view was stunning. Depth is one of my favourite aspects of nature and it just doesn’t come across in the picture. It’s still gorgeous though.


A few months ago when we were trying to decide how to spend our 10 year anniversary, we came up with the plan to go to Jasper National Park. Our actual anniversary is May 5th but since we were already heading to Winnipeg for the baptism, we decided we would save airfare by flying directly to Edmonton from Winnipeg instead of going home in between the two trips. It meant going 2 weeks earlier than our anniversary, but that doesn’t really matter. We still spent this special time together celebrating us. It was wonderful to be together and doing new things as a couple.

This particular picture was taken in front of Athabasca Falls which was probably my favourite location within Jasper. So gorgeous, even 95% still frozen. It’s a place I had seen in pictures awhile ago and had hoped to eventually see it person. Mission complete. And sharing it with my number one person made it even better.


Hubby wasn’t sold on the idea of ‘hiking’ when I suggested it, but~ he loves me and wanted to make me happy so he agreed to this whole trip thing. We had driven past Maligne Lake and saw that it was still frozen over and completely covered with snow so we were going to skip it but part of me wanted to go and walk the trail around it anyway, just to say I’d been. It’s actually quite difficult walking a footprint-wide path in the snow, but we made it out to the first lookout point. We saw a few interesting things and had a lot of laughs. It was a wonderful afternoon, in my opinion. I’m glad we did it.


We were going to go to Elk Island, another National Park, but it was like a blizzard outside so that ruined that plan. Instead, we just spent a quiet day with SIL’s family, which included bubble tea. I can never say no to that.


When we were in Winnipeg, we brought Nephie his birthday gift (even though that’s not until November). He had been reading the Tokyo Ghoul comics and was really into it so Hubby thought he might like the anime too. He’s only 13 and Hubby had heard it was pretty graphic (neither of us knew anything about it) so he checked with SIL that it was okay for him to watch it. She gave the go ahead so we got him the first season. After we gave it to him, we cracked it open and tested out the first episode. We quickly realized within the first few minutes that the anime version was absolutely unsuitable for him. I think he felt bad saying so but his discomfort was all over his face. (I felt so bad!) Hubby is awesome and so easily said not to worry, that we’d take it home and keep it for ourselves, and take him out the next day to buy him something else. We took him to Toys R Us and let him wander around to find something else he wanted. He was just going to get some Pokémon cards but instead ended up picking out the Empire version of Monopoly. We ended up playing it all night and had so much fun. Hubby and I liked it so much that we wanted to get one for ourselves. We’re into playing games and have game nights with family every time we visit as well as with a few friends anytime they come over. We decided to wait until we got to Edmonton to buy it (to save room in our suitcases which we still laden with gifts to deliver for (other) nephew and Niecey’s birthdays) and introduce it to them as well.

We own several different versions of Monopoly – most are just themed versions of the original but a few are condensed, “easier” versions for kids with various themes. Apart from original Monopoly, Empire is our favourite by far. It is easier (or at least quicker) than regular Monopoly but has its own complex rules. It’s a unique twist to the original and it’s really fun. It’s based more on chance and less on skill so I’m actually not always the loser either. 😛


Niecey started dance when she was pretty little – maybe 6 or 7? She started going to a dance school that is pretty intense. She does all different kids (ballet, jazz, modern, etc.) and goes to lessons several times a week and to many camps throughout the year. When she was little, it was cute to watch, as little kids often are. As she’s gotten older, I can see a real talent emerge. I hadn’t seen her dance in person for several years so I was absolutely blown away when Hubby and I accompanied SIL to pick her up from her class and caught the practice for a routine her class will be performing in an upcoming show. Her movements are so precise and exact and she’s so graceful and elegant. I took dance for a few years when I was a bit younger than she is now but I was never even close to half as good as she is. I think she could have a future as a professional dancer if she wanted it. It was a treat to watch her and I wish I had the opportunity to watch her perform on stage in person.

Hubby said that the routine, which was modern choreography set to emotional music, actually brought tears to his eyes. And he’s not a crier. Neither of us are really, but I knew exactly what he felt. It was powerful and Niecey is captivating.


By the end of a long(ish) trip, I am always ready to go home. I had a good time, of course, and I am not looking forward to going back to the drudgery of everyday life, but I am looking forward to getting back to my comfort. My home is my sanctuary from the parts of the world that hurt me or overwhelm me.


I think I’ve tried to talk about this before~  It seems simple enough that I just came back from vacation, am tired, and was glad I could spend the day in my bed, catching up. But it goes deeper than that. I am very blessed to be in a position that I can sleep all day if I want to. Hubby is the “bread winner” in our family. I work but only part time and make peanuts in comparison. I’m not really helping. And for many years, I didn’t work at all. One thing I’ve always been aware of and always grateful for was how unusual that is and how, dare I say, lucky I am that I am not in a position where I have to work full time. And it’s a good thing for ME especially. I have… issues. I think if I absolutely had to work FT hours every day, like most adults… I think it might crush me. I honestly don’t think I could do it at this point. Even though I am working a little bit now, I still have my days where I can spend them doing nothing. I need that. It keeps me from freaking out and ending up hospitalized. So, not only catching up on sleep made me happy but having that luxury where I could is so appreciated. It’s never something I take for granted.


After my fun-filled holiday, where it was easy to find things to post about for Happy Days, my first day back at work was not easy. My job itself is not difficult and, for where I am in my life right now, it’s ideally suited to me. I still don’t want to work though. Like most people, I think, I’d really rather not. I try to stay positive and focus on the good things, but I can’t help wishing things were different sometimes.

I came home from work, feeling low, and just wanted to lie on the couch and do nothing. I couldn’t think of anything really that would be a good option for HD and I was tired and sore and cranky. Hubby didn’t protest when I asked him to rub my achy feet for me. He hates doing it and often refuses because he’s also tired and sore, but I think he realized how I was feeling and put his own feelings aside for me to help me out. I was so grateful. It had to be my picture for the day, even though I hate feet. Haha.


Oatmeal is yummy and I’ve become obsessed with it lately. It makes a great, quick breakfast.

I was so impressed with myself for getting up early and leaving time to eat and relax for a few minutes before I started my day. It might sound strange but I’ve always had this vision/fantasy thing where I’m a responsible, “normal” adult who wakes up in the morning, sits down at the table, eats breakfast and has a cup of tea and spends those few minutes collecting myself on a regular basis. One might say, ‘if you want to do that, then just do it’. Why do I have to just dream about it? Yeah, well, crack my head open with a shrink and maybe you’ll find an answer to why I can just seem to do so many of the things I want to! (I hate to be cryptic in my blog posts and say this so often, but this is something I actually want to touch on at some point in the future. I’ve come to realize a whole bunch of things about myself in the last year specifically that all relate to the same thing… but I’m not at a point where I can comfortably share yet.) Such a mundane thing but to me, it was special.


I love cherry blossoms. Of course, they are a Japanese thing but I also love what they symbolize – the impermanence of life and how fleeting beauty is. Sakura also hold memories for me of the times Hubby and I spent in Japan. But, Japan aside, they are just really pretty. I can’t believe I have lived here for so long and never realized there are many parks that have annual sakura viewing events. High Park is probably the most publicized of those. I kept seeing posts on Facebook of people enjoying the blossoms while we were still away on our vacation and I was worried that they’d be gone by the time I had a chance to see them. Even the night before we went, there was a huge rain storm that had knocked down a good portion. We got there just in time to see the last of them on the trees. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it turned out to be.

Hubby and I spent the morning walking through the sakura (there’s an album on Facebook if you want to see more) and then went out for lunch at my favourite restaurant. A lovely day.

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I Did It!

You know how mothers always say that they have a second (or third, whatever) child two years after the first because it took them that long to forget how difficult it was? Yeah, apparently the 100 Happy Days challenge is like that too. I forgot how hard it was! But, I’m done. I finished up my last day a week ago, but let me tell you, it was a struggle. Like last time, some days are easy. You go out, do something fun and snap a picture. But there are days when you just go to work and come home and just want to crash. Or there are days when you spend the entire time in your jammies and do nothing at all.

I could legitimately just take 100 pictures of tea and call it a success – a good cup of tea always brings me joy. Or take 100 pictures of Hubby. He knows how day-to-day life can be especially difficult for me and always tries to make me smile. But, like with most things, I have to make things harder than they need to be. I was challenging myself to do 100 unique things. And I had to post them all by midnight. And they had to be of things that happened that day. And I had to make the pictures somewhat interesting. *Sigh*

Whatever. I finished it. I knew I would complete the challenge but I also figured I’d cheat or compromise what I was trying to do just to get it done. Yay for me for not doing that, I guess.

Looking back on it now, I’m not sure it was as beneficial for me as it was the first time around. It was good to have that refresher of looking for things daily to be happy about, but the first time, that was a totally new concept to me and, I didn’t realize until this time, I actually adopted that practice fairly well and honestly do it without really thinking. I am, in general, a much happier person than I used to be. Not perfect, of course. And of course I still do have really shitty days. But I think, even in my darkest moments, I have perspective now that I didn’t have several years ago. The bad days are temporary.

So it wasn’t life-altering in the way it had been in 2014. And, because of those criteria I imposed on myself so rigidly, I actually created a certain amount of stress in my life that I didn’t need. Nothing horrible, but the extra stress was unnecessary and avoidable. (Hubby and I both agree that I won’t be doing this challenge again. If I ever attempt a happiness challenge again in the future, it’ll be something different.)

Don’t misunderstand me. The 100HDC is a fantastic thing and, if you’re up for it, I think everybody should try it. Once. The benefits doing it the first time were amazing. For me, the second time – not a waste of time, but not as great.

Yeah, I accomplished what I set out to do, and that feels nice. I learned a few more things about myself too. But I’m just not feeling as thrilled as I was before. That could also have to do with where I am mentally lately… IDK.

I guess, essentially, once I learn a life lesson, mini-refreshers would be a better idea than going through the whole thing again. Those 100 days could have been better spent trying something new.  Which will be where I focus my attention next! I’m sure I’ll share a ton about it when I figure out precisely what that is going to be, but I have a few ideas…  (Update: Wish I knew what those ideas were now, ’cause I have no clue!)

Anyway~ Pretty much everyday, there was always way more involved in each picture than what I briefly shared on Instagram/Facebook. Some days, I was wordier than others but usually was quite short, if not only a couple words. It can always just be assumed that, with each and every single thing I do or say (or don’t do or say), there is a list of carefully thought out reasons why, usually multi-layered and complex. Oh yeah, I’m tiramisu! Ha. The sad state of my existence is that, 95% of the time, I’m the only one who is aware of it.

I’m rambling…  Stay on target!

So. Originally, I was going to post longer explanations of what each picture meant to me. That didn’t happen. Whether it was laziness or being busy doing other things or I got distracted or just moved on to the next day… Whatever. I’m going to do it now, but in chunks. I’ve got the first 30 days done and then second half started. I’ll post the first now and you can just sit tight for then rest. It probably won’t take me a year, but I make no promises.


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My friends Abbygail and Elana are getting married in September (I’m a brides”maid” – bridesmatron? IDK) and they made a YouTube channel that I accidentally found, even though I wasn’t supposed to. When I told Abbygail I found it and was watching the videos, she got mad. Haha. Oops. She made me promise not to watch anymore – some secrets were being talked about that I wasn’t supposed to know yet… Shhh. I still watch some, but don’t worry, dear friend – I promised not to watch the vlog ones. I’m only watching the Q&A ones. Everyone knows I love quizzes. Today, they posted a new one. Here~

Fun! I wanna play…

1. What was your first job?

I was a cashier at a Pharmasave in Winnipeg. I didn’t work at all until I had graduated from high school. You know, didn’t wanna get in the way of all that studying that never happened. Unless you count babysitting. I did that a lot in high school (and before that too). I ended up quitting after 8 months because I was held up and it was a terrible job. My next job after that “changed my life”. I started working for the woman who helped me quash a lot of bad habits and introduced me to her brother… and ended up becoming my SIL.


2. What was your first car?

I never drove but I DID have a car. My dad bought our neighbour’s car that sat in their driveway for years. He said he bought it for me to use when I finally got my licence. That never happened. I drove it once or twice. It was a 1982 baby blue Ford Escort. I called it the Myrth Mobile ‘cause I thought it looked like the Gremlin in Wayne’s World. (It didn’t really.)


3. Who was the first person you texted today?

I haven’t texted anyone today. I don’t text much. The first people I had cyber-contact with today though were my friends Ang, Jodi, Ames, Deena & Tami through a Facebook post comment. Then Brina in a PM on GroupMe. It’s been a quiet day.

4. Who was the first person you thought of today?

Not sure. Myself? Haha. I had weird dreams and was mad at my subconscious for coming up with them and yelled at myself for it when I woke up. Then probably the people who were in my Facebook notifications.

5. Who was your first grade teacher?

Mrs. DeLuigi – she was a cranky lady.

6. Where did you go on your first airplane ride?

Hmm. I’m not sure actually. I know we took a family trip to Myrtle Beach/South Carolina/some other places in the area but I don’t know where we flew to. I think I was 4 or 5.

myrtle beach.jpg

I used to get so excited about going on airplanes when I was little. My parents did a good job at making it seem special. I kept that way of thinking until my late teens or early adulthood – taking a ride on a plane meant you were getting to do something fun. Then I realized that sometimes, planes take you to places you don’t want to be. And even when I’m very happy to be going somewhere, air travel is a hassle and planes are gross and confining. Oh, to be a child again…

7. Who was your first best friend? Do you still talk to them?

I’m not sure who I would consider my first best friend. I guess I could say Matthew. His mom was my mom’s friend and we played together a lot and I actually liked him – ‘cause he let me boss him around. There was another boy named Christopher that we also played with but he had a temper and we fought a lot. He bit me once. But those kids were just friendships of circumstance and had no real meaning to me. I had a few more circumstantial friends (parent’s friend’s kids) I liked playing with throughout the years but either I moved or they moved away after short periods of time. I also played with the girl across the street a lot when I lived in Ambridge, but we also fought a ton and most of the time, I didn’t like her.

I suppose my first real best friend was Becca. Her dad lived in the ‘community’ we did and he had his two daughters every other weekend. Becca was my age and we got along. We sang songs we made up into tape recorders and made plans to be in a band together when we were older. She’s actually an opera singer now, which is super cool that she followed that singing dream somewhat. (We moved away when I was 11 but our parents kept in touch for awhile and their dad brought her and her sister on a trip up to see us when I was 17. We were both taking voice lessons and singing opera and broadway stuff at that time and were both planning on similar careers. Separately, we had both gone in similar directions. I, however, dropped off of that path, as I do with most things that require a ton of commitment and practice. I’m glad one of us stuck with it.)

My first best friend that followed the typical best friend formula pattern was Meaghan. We met in grade 6 when I started at yet another new school but we didn’t like each other right away. It was classmate situations that threw us together and we realized we were pretty similar and became fairly inseparable for awhile. (In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t keep friendships going for a long time. One day, I might talk about that a little more…)

This is one of those things I really love Facebook for~ (although I equally hate it for other things). When I first joined FB, I became obsessive about “collecting” friends but also strangely discerning. Even now, I will never accept a friend request from someone I haven’t met in person. In the beginning, I would sit there and look up pretty much every person I could remember – and I (used to) have an odd memory where I remember the first and last names (and usually birthdays) of everyone I had ever been friends with, even fleetingly. So, almost all the people I mentioned or referred to without naming, I am Facebook friends with (except “the girl who lived across the street” and Matthew – we WERE friends when I looked him up but he didn’t really remember me and ended up deleting me not long afterwards. That’s another thing I might write about at some point in time…  Not being unfriended! Hahaha. Just my experience with memory and how things like finding someone on Facebook that I remembered and they didn’t really remember me was one of those things that points out how I can be …different). So, to sum up this exceedingly long answer, yes I am ‘in contact’ with some of these people but only in the very loosest sense of the word.

8. Where was your first sleepover?

Umm… I can’t remember a sleepover that was, like, a friend inviting me to sleep over just for fun rather than because I needed a place to sleep overnight (like babysitting) as a kid. And when I was young, I got terrible anxiety about being away from home. Even though I wanted to go to friends’ houses, I would get panic attacks. (I remember my friend Adam’s mom having to take me home in the middle of the night because I was so upset, I vomited.) The first sleepover I can actually remember in that case was with Meaghan and I was probably already 12 or so. I wasn’t allowed to have sleepovers much. That particular rite of passage thing was denied me! LOL. (But maybe that was because of my behaviour when I was little.) I had to go through such a rigorous application process to be allowed to go to friends’ houses, as did they and their parents. It was so embarrassing that it almost wasn’t worth it. Almost. But the prospect of staying home until I moved out motivated me to put up with it.

9. What was your first concert?

Going along with the whole not allowed to do anything ever, I am embarrassed to say my first concert – that wasn’t kids music, like Sharon, Lois & Bram or Fred Penner or something  – was Weird Al Yankovic. My friend Tara’s dad got free tickets from a client at work and took me with them.

weird al.jpg

10. What was the first bone you broke?

I have never broken a bone. I hope never to break that streak either.

11. What was your first piercing?

My ears. Not until I was 12. Again. Never allowed to do anything. PIERCINGS ARE THE DEVIL’S WORK! Ha. I begged for years to be allowed but, no, I had to wait, but my sister, who was only 8 then, had hers pierced at the same time. So as not to completely vilify my parents, I should say that my mom’s excuse for this was that she thought I would pick at the holes and they’d get really infected and never heal. This was actually a legitimate concern since I used to have a pretty severe issue with skin-picking. But when I put my mind to something, I can overcome almost any bad habit I have. True to my word, when she finally relented, I didn’t touch them and they healed up really quickly and I never had a problem with them (until a few years ago, on an unrelated issue! Haha). In fact, all of my piercings have healed beautifully and super quickly.

12. What was your first detention?

Actual detention, like after school hours, I’m unsure. I got in trouble A LOT when I was in school – all through school, from Kindergarten, right up until Grade 13. In high school, I had detention a few times, almost always for being late so frequently. In elementary, I got lines, extra assignments, sitting out of things that were supposed to be fun but I was actually grateful to miss out on, etc.~ all for talking too much.

I think my first real detention was in grade 6. During baseball in gym class, some other girl and I were sitting on the bench trying to avoid our turn at bat and were bored. We drew little penises between our legs on the bench. Our teacher was sooooooo angry. We had to stay after school for a detention and erase them from the benches. Thank goodness we had used pencil. I can understand why she was upset now but at the time, her anger seemed unreasonable. Now the whole situation is hilarious to me.

13. Who was your first celebrity crush?

Michael J. Fox probably. I was 6. We didn’t have a TV for a long time, then had one briefly and I discovered Family Ties. I wanted to marry Alex P. Keaton. Of course, I was 6 so I had no idea what that actually meant. Someone probably just mentioned that he was Canadian so I liked him. (We were living in PA at the time and I was a very patriotic Canadian ex-pat.)


Joe McIntyre was the next I can think of. I was hardcore obsessed with NKOTB.

14. What was your first road trip?

Like… family road trip? I have no idea. We drove a lot of places when I was little. Nothing stands out in my mind as the first.

I’m trying to think of the first road trip I was on without my family. …Coming up empty. I guess it depends on the definition of road trip too.

Just to sound cool, I’m gonna say it was one of the many I’ve taken with my friends in the last 5 years. The best ones were to Forks, WA or Gatlinburg, TN. Or with Hubby to Montreal to see Weezer in… 2010, I think?


There was a point in time where I was convinced that one day, I would get my license and drive to fun places myself. Now I am 97% sure that will never happen. That window is closed.

15. When was your first kiss?

With tongue? Haha. I wrote about this in the TMI quiz. I was 17 and it was with my friend Mike who I was sort of “seeing” – as much as one could have seen another with my maturity at the time. The possibility of a relationship beyond friendship ended at that very moment. I basically freaked the fuck out. Sorry, Fox. I just wasn’t ready. Super great guy though…

16. When was the first time you said “I love you”?

(I’m gonna answer this as my first-first and first in my current relationship – since I’m not doing this as a couples tag thingy. Haha. Can you imagine me trying to get Hubby to answer these with me in a video?)

The first time I ever told a guy I loved him (that wasn’t an elementary school “boyfriend” that didn’t count) was when I was puking my guts out in a tent in the middle of the night on May 2-4 weekend in grade 12. Not my finest moment. Memorable though, despite my inebriation. (I wrote about this guy in the same TMI quiz too.) I was totally obsessed with him but my feelings towards him were not reciprocated. He had a girlfriend at the time too… in the next tent over. Haha.

The first time Hubby and I said I love you to each other was three months after we started dating. We had a long distance relationship but spent our first post-Christmas holiday/New Year’s Eve with each other. We were staying at my friend Jeannie’s apartment, hanging out by ourselves and he just came right out and told me. I was cautious to tell someone that after the last relationship I had had (also long distance – also written about in the TMI quiz) and I didn’t want to say it back. I asked him to clarify what he meant before I said anything. Hahaha. Poor him. I did end up saying it back but I wasn’t sure if I felt it. Really, I still had no idea what it meant. It was only about 6 weeks more before I was absolutely sure I loved him.

Love is a tricky thing. It doesn’t matter to me now what I felt or didn’t back then. I love him now. And I tell him constantly. So does he.  (Awwwwww. *vomit*)

17. When was your first date?

My first first date… One of my high school boyfriends came to pick me up once and I was furious and crying in my bedroom while my dad grilled him in our living room for half an hour before he finally let him take me away. I was mortified. I don’t even remember now what we actually did that night. I only remember the horrible preamble.

With Hubby? The day we met. It was sort of a blind date, but not. That has its own post too.


Happy Victoria Day. Celebrate the Queen, you barbarians!
(Actually, I’m confused by this. Are we supposed to be celebrating Victoria or the current queen?)



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Those that follow me on other forms of social media will already be aware that I am OBSESSED with Pinterest. And I have frequently mentioned my various boards in a multitude of posts here on this blog too. I even minimally detailed some of the other accounts, apart from my own personal one, in the Team Jack post. Needless to say, I frequently waste hours and hours and hours on Pinterest. (Not gonna lie, there have been days I’ve laid in bed or on the couch and spent 18+ consecutive hours perusing and pinning. That’s… impressive and disgusting.)


I was thinking about why I like it so much.  I am thinking that it has a lot to do with my recent struggle with words and the innate human desire to have others understand me and who I am. If anyone were ever to become obsessed with me or want to stalk me online and find out everything they could about me, I’ve made it REALLY easy for them. Haha. Of course, no one is ever going to be as interested in me as I am… *snort* Not even Hubby. It’s too bad really. I’m interesting.

Okay, now that I have recovered from that little giggle fit~

Seriously, anything one could ever hope to know about me is on Pinterest. It’s a visual representation of everything I think and feel. Everything that’s important to me, and ideas I have, anything that’s going through my mind. The only thing that’s missing are the words to explain it.

I find that most people just hit the save button without editing the words others have already used. It can be really confusing because you don’t know if the captions are from the person you know or the one before them or 10~ people before that. And most of the time, the captions are irritating as hell. I prefer to erase whatever was said by previous pinners and not say anything myself, letting the pictures speak for themselves. You know the adage… 1000 words and all that…

As it is today, I have almost 15,000 pins organized into 140 boards. I also have 24 “secret” boards where I collect things I’m not ready to share yet for various reasons. And also 451 pins in my ‘likes’, which I use as a temporary holding until I have enough of something to warrant their own board or I’m not sure where to put yet.

Awhile ago, in one of the site updates, they made it so that you can change the order in which your boards appear. I spent quite awhile clicking/dragging them around into a specific order that I felt flowed and reflected me. Then, of course, the Pinterest powers-that-be fucked it up so that it only works on the actual computer view and not the mobile version. (Facebook hostile takeover. Boo.)


In the beginning, I had a similar lineup of board topics as most people – funny things, home things, food things, fashion things. Over time, I edited those, rearranging them, deleting some, and adding a shitton of new topics. I wish they’d add in some sub-board feature. I have groups of boards that I want to lump together but still keep separate. Right now, the only thing I can do is put them beside each other, which only works on computer view anyway. Argh.

As you’ve probably guessed, I have a lot of Japan-related boards. Originally, I was going to have one but that blew up in my face. There are 39 now. That’s probably the biggest subset topic.

My single most-used board is my “In My Dreams” one. It started out as a collection of images reminiscent of a few particular ‘scenes’ I place myself in when I need to calm myself or am trying to fall asleep. My multiple “happy places”. I think there are about 7 or so very specific settings I use for that purpose. (It’s actually a lot more complex than that and one day, I might try to explain.) After awhile, it started turning into natural scenery that I find pretty, but I’ve been trying to put it back on track lately. There are over 1,000 pins in that one board.

I think what makes my use of Pinterest more… intense than other avid pinners is that I don’t just save something and never look at it again. Like how I reread my own blog posts a lot, I spend just as much time going over my own boards as I do looking for new pins. I am always tweaking the appearance and content. And, as you’ve seen, I link to them often.

I use my Pinterest boards for idea planning, recipes, research, organizing, etc. like everyone else but I also use the pictures to calm myself, to lift my spirits, to inspire me, and to sort through the chaos in my head. It’s turned in to a life coping tool for me.

One thing that I haven’t gotten to yet is uploading my own travel pictures. There are many that I think are worthy being shared with the masses but I want to have all my blog posts up first so I can pin directly from here. (The Pinterest add-on button in my tool bar was probably the single greatest download ever!)

My one complaint of Pinterest right now, apart from what I mentioned about them moving things around so much, is that they have changed the wording in the notification to have the worst grammar! It’s so annoying. For some reason, instead of saying ‘so-and-so saved your pin’ like they used to, now it says “one of your pins got saved”. WTF. Got saved? That sounds terrible.


Oh, that and I keep seeing pins from people I don’t follow on Pinterest merely because we’re Facebook friends. I hate that. If I don’t follow someone on purpose, there is a reason.

All in all, I love Pinterest and I wish more people used it to it’s potential.

boards 1boards 2boards 3boards 4

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Sleep Talk

This is a conversation I just had with my sleeping husband.

Him: Thanks for the strawberries.
Me: What strawberries?
Him: You know. All of them.
Me: What?
Him: The strawberries.
Me: Huh? What strawberries?
Him: Boo to cupid. Boo to strawberries. Boo to unibrows.
Me: (LOL) Okay.
Him: It’s not that funny.
Me: It’s pretty funny.
Him: (*resumes snoring*)


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100 More Happy Days

This is a long, rambly post. If you’re just here for the follow info, scrolllllllll to the bottom. 🙂


In 2014, I completed the 100 Happy Days challenge. It may sound exceptionally cheesy but doing so changed my life. My general outlook on things got a lot brighter. It strengthened a good habit in me where, even when things are completely shitty, I can always acknowledge something good. It made me more appreciative of everything I have.

Like all good habits though, it needs maintenance. Unfortunately, when we learn lessons, it’s not just a one-time thing where we learn it and that’s that. Lessons need to be put into practice in order for them to stick. Usually, we have to remind ourselves of the things we have learned over and over again.


Lately I’ve been in a bit of a rut. When taking stock of my life, all in all, things are pretty great – but I don’t always feel that. As they always do, my emotional levels roll in and out like the tide. (Or maybe something less predictable. Tide goes in and out according to schedule and you always know what to expect, whereas the change in my moods is erratic and changes course without warning.) When I go through a bout of the lower emotions, I tend to lose sight of all the positive things I’ve got going on.

A few weeks ago, one of those Facebook memory things popped up in my feed of when I started the challenge last time. I almost never share the memories (I find it kind of a redundant, useless feature most of the time) but I did repost that one – with a side remark saying I should do it again because of the impact it had had.

I’ve been toying with the idea since then. It was a great experience but I was hesitant to do it again because it was a lot of work and I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in another daily challenge so soon after doing the #AYearOfTwilight one I did for Team Fireball. When I take on these challenges, I don’t do them half-assed. That’s not the kind of person I am. When I commit myself to something, I give it everything I have, perhaps to my own detriment at times. Once I start, I’m in it to win it.

I spent this past week talking to a few friends and getting an outside perspective to help me make up my mind. I wasn’t looking for input per se – I can make up my own mind. I just like to talk through things to an audience so that I can organize my reasoning. By talking to other people, I solidified a few ideas:

I will go ahead with the challenge, despite my reservations.

I’m going to start tomorrow, April 1st, because it’s a nice round number and will make date-tracking easier. I also have a big trip coming up that will be a good opportunity to have lots of experiences.

I decided I’m going to further challenge myself – because doing the exact same thing is boring – and use the challenge to better my photography skills. I don’t want to do a challenge just for the sake of doing a challenge. I find the photo-a-day challenges somewhat pointless after awhile. With the Twilight one, it got to a point where I was doing it just because I felt I had to. If someone is participating in one of those and is having fun, that’s one thing – but when it gets to be a burden, it’s useless. (It could be argued that I was working on my photography and photo-editing skills during some of our Twilight year, I guess.) So, I’m going to be happier AND a better picture taker. 😉

I also want to do more things that have to do with the actual day rather than sometimes just posting generic things that make me happy (more on target with the vision of the original creator).

And~ the main thing I want to keep in mind throughout the challenge is that I’m doing it for myself. I honestly do not care at all if I don’t receive one single ‘like’ or comment on my pictures. I don’t care if people unfollow me or get annoyed with the sudden surge in posts. I’ve heard people say that the only reason for posting anything online is to interact with others, but I disagree and will defend my position whenever questioned. Yeah, it’s nice to communicate with others, especially when it’s regarding something you’re passionate about, but the main reason I post anything on any of the many platforms I use all over the internet is because I hoard memories and actually go back and look at them quite often. You know the expression ‘pic or it didn’t happen’? That could sum up my life. I used to have such a good memory but now nothing sticks at all. If I don’t have a picture or some notes to remind me of something, it’s like it never happened. I don’t know if anyone else does this but I frequently go through my feeds on whatever social media and reminisce over my own shit. I reread my blogs and Facebook posts. I scroll through my pictures on Instagram and Flickr. I watch my own videos on YouTube. I pore over my collections on Pinterest. (There’s a whole blog post about that coming soon!) I even periodically read my old tweets even though I very very rarely use Twitter anymore. So, not only am I posting these pictures daily to cultivate the habit of gratitude and positivity but so that at the end, I have 100 good memories and remember the pride I’ll feel in completing the challenge.


It’s not to say that I want to do this completely on my own. I will and I have no problem with it but it would be great if other people join in and do the challenge too. It was a wonderful thing for me last time and I think it would be awesome if other people found that it was just as beneficial for them. It’s nice for me to increase my own happiness but all the more better if I can help other people find their own as well.

A few of my friends have said they are up for giving it a go, but I’ve also heard a lot of hesitation from people too. To a certain extent, I can understand that. We are so conditioned in “we must not fail!” that many people think this challenge is too hard. It’s really not though – especially for those who are already posting stuff prolifically anyway. It is so easy to pick up your phone, snap something – anything – that makes you smile, and post it online. It takes seconds. (Other people don’t have to do it the way I do…)

One friend said she’d try to do it but would most likely end up forgetting and drop out after only a few days. Really, I think that’s fine too. Yeah, it’s a challenge to do it for 100 days in a row, but the benefits of actively looking for happiness and learning to create your own happiness when none can be found can be reaped in only a few days. Or even just once. I don’t see this challenge of something you can really “fail” at. If you participate, even for one day, I think you win.

If you’re up for increasing your own happiness, you can join in too. Take a picture of one thing that made you happy and post it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or wherever, using the tag #100HappyDays. If you want to learn more about it, take a look at the official website (register your info at the bottom if you’re participating) or read what I wrote about it back in 2014 and/or see the collection of pictures I posted last time. And watch this video~


If you only want to see what things make me happy over the next 100 days, I’ll be posting on Instagram for sure and probably Facebook too and maybe even Twitter. And, c’mon, let’s be honest… There will most likely be a bunch of blog posts here highlighting the best (and one big one at the end).


Posted in personal | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Bubble Tea

This post is prompted by two things~

On my old Geocities website that I’ve mentioned a thousand times and posted copies from, I had a specific set of pages dedicated to my love of bubble tea. I had pictures (although back then, very shitty quality) and links and random historical fact blurbs I literally copied and pasted from elsewhere. I had instructions on how to make tapioca pearls. I had a list of flavours I had tried. (My original bucket list post stated I wanted to try every single flavour available.) I even had a list of people I had introduced to bubble tea – and whether or not I had made a successful convert.

I always had plans to recreate something similar on my blog. (I’m a completionist. I feel unbalanced that I have some things from my old sites but not everything.)

But what led me to finally doing it now was this conversation: (It started with a quiz thing my friend tagged me in and my response to one of the questions.)


I remember my very first bubble tea experience. It was November 1999. I was living in Winnipeg but flew back to Toronto to attend my high school graduation ceremony (no idea why they held it so late in the year – stupid) and to visit my friends.

My friend Geena, who was well aware of my penchant for instant obsession with anything at all pertaining to Japan, China or Korea, told me about bubble tea. It was a “new thing”. Of course, bubble tea had been around for a long time already, but us small town kids, with very little exposure to much Asian culture, had never heard of it. And 1999 started a boom in bubble tea being sold in café-like settings in our corner of the world. (Up until that point, restaurants didn’t have it on their menus and I think the only place to get it was at Chinese markets – or so I was told by someone later on.)

There was a place Geena wanted to take me to while I was visiting that was popular with her U of T friends. It was located in the space upstairs from Sushi Inn (which I also went to for the first time during that visit and it subsequently became my favourite restaurant – to this day). I have no idea what it was called anymore, but I remember it was dark inside, decorated like a funky lounge and it had these cool tables that had glass tops with bases made of plastic (alternating orange and white) moulded in the shape of …. jacks? or something and they had lights inside them so they glowed.

It also had a sign in the front window. It was a large circle, black, with a geometric representation of a cup of bubble tea in orange. Very iconic. A couple years later when the ownership changed hands and was remodelled and renamed, the only thing that remained was that sign. (Sadly, the time of independent bubble tea places was short lived and after that place too closed down, the space was changed again into a hair salon, which it remains today.) Side note: The cafe was actually used as a filming location for an indie music video – not a clue what the song was or who the artist was, but I recognized the tables and the sign when I saw the video.

I don’t think it was even a question of which flavour I would try first. In high school, Geena used to give me little hard candy balls that were honeydew flavoured from Korea. Yummy. (There were plum ones that we liked too but we both preferred the honeydew.) So she and I both got honeydew and our other two friends got chocolate and strawberry, I believe. (A picture exists somewhere… I’ll try to find it.)


You can see the sign behind us, and the tables in the pictures below. And check out skinny little me with my SUPER COOL (*gag*) blue plastic pants. Such awesome fashion choices I made…

As she knew I would be, I was instantly hooked. I loved it. I went back to Winnipeg hoping to find something similar. Alas~ I had no idea what a struggle it was going to be to feed my Asian cravings in Winnipeg. Back then, it was very hard to find anything Japanese, Chinese or Korean there. Winnipeg has a huge Filipino community and a lot of Vietnamese restaurants, but not a lot from the other Asian places – that I was aware of at that time. The Vietnamese restaurants turned out to be the only place I could find bubble tea. There were no cafés or tea shops then.

My cousins and I used to go to one restaurant in particular. ViAnn. It’s closed down now, but we went there often. (Hubby and I went on one of our first dates there!) I was delighted when I realized they had bubble tea on their menu. However, it wasn’t like the place I had been to in Toronto. They only had a few flavours and only served “slushy” style. I made do.

My cousins were the first people I introduced to bubble tea. They… were not fans. Granted, in hindsight, the bubble tea we had there was pretty bad. The tapioca was always hard, practically frozen, from the slush. My cousin Teena described them as monkey turds and never tried it again. Goes to show how one bad experience, especially when it’s your first, ruins it forever. My suggestion is that if someone has a bad one, they try another from somewhere else before writing off bubble tea altogether. (Although there are SOME people (*cough* Jodi) who refuse to even try it because it LOOKS or sounds gross to them. *side eyes*)

Fast forward a few months~ Meeting the guy who became my boyfriend and eventually my husband seemed to coincide with Winnipeg finally getting one of those café/lounge type paces. It probably opened a lot earlier than that but it was around then that I discovered it. It was called Sweet Escape and it was in a nondescript plaza on Portage Ave. Actually a terrible location for it. They need to lump these faddish Asian things together. How would anyone have known it was there? I myself only found it by accident. I was taking a different bus route than usual, or else I wouldn’t have been in that area at all.

This tangent leads to my next converts. Hubby himself, although Chinese and grew up with a ton of exposure to markets and such, had never had or I believe even heard of bubble tea either. On one of our “dates” during our frenzied two weeks together before we were an official long-distance couple, we stopped in at Sweet Escape.

It was like the typical tea shop set up you see now in the front section – a counter where you order with all the menus behind it, and a few tables to sit at. Nice and bright with street facing windows. (If memory serves, it was painted all white and had vinyl chairs and brightly coloured “Ikea art” on the walls.) But then they had a back area behind a curtain. Walking back there seemed so seedy! Once beyond the curtain though, it was like a night club, albeit an empty one. There was no one else there when we went. It was dark and very sparse (had potential but fairly pathetic) and they played techno music. I of course got honeydew, unfortunately in the slushy style that was the only thing available in Winnipeg back then, although it was much better than from ViAnn.

Hubby got raspberry – his favourite fruit at the time. I was thrilled because he loved it. His was actually made with real raspberries. He let me have a taste and I remember it was very sweet, tasted like raspberry jam, and had seeds in it. To this day, he reminisces about how good his first experience with bubble tea was and how he’s never come across a raspberry one as good since. Like a first hit of cocaine or something. My first successful convert.

After he went back home, I took my friend Courtney there too. She also got honeydew on my recommendation – and liked it so much I think even now, she’s only ever had the one flavour. (I didn’t learn to branch out myself until after I left Winnipeg, which wasn’t long after this point.) Second successful convert.


This picture was a few years later when she came to visit me in Mississauga and I took her to the first place I had bubble tea. Notice the sign is still in the window but the decor changed.

I moved back to the Toronto area in the summer of 2001. I had subsisted on the subpar long enough and had bubble tea as often as I could when I first got back. It still wasn’t that often because I was living in Mississauga and you had to drive quite a ways to get it then. Other than that place I had first had bubble tea, I went once to a place which seems in the middle of nowhere now, again with Geena, her boyfriend at the time, my boyfriend (now Hubby), and our other friend from high school, Tara. I think that was Tara’s first time. She was confuddled by the “hunks and chunks”. That place was called Bubble Tea and Me and it was somewhere in Thornhill. It was nice-ish but so far out of my way that we never went back. (I just looked it up. It still exists and looks identical to when we were there. Crazy.)


There was also a place out at the AMC theatre complex – again, in the middle of nowhere – called Vica that was actually an Asian-style crepes restaurant that also specialized in bubble tea. (Hubby and I are kicking ourselves now for not partaking in the crepes as much as the bubble tea, because we were as of yet unfamiliar with Japanese crepes. *drool*) We went there a few times, but they closed down too. Such a shame. It was a very large space, painted in an inviting, comfy yellow with cartoony things on the walls, and it smelled so good in there.

Then, *cue heaven/angel choir noise*, a bubble tea lounge opened up not too far from where we lived. It was called Bubble Q. It was located in a plaza on Eglinton at Mavis. It was cool inside. Painted black, purple, blue, and dark fuchsia. The furniture was vinyl. Either booths or tables in a raised platform area at the front. Hubby and I went there in their opening week. I was so happy to find a place close to us AND that it was good, that I somewhat accidentally tipped them almost 100% on our bill. (Hubby still brings that up from time to time to illustrate how I’m not good with math or money.)

We ended up taking his sister and her then-husband there with us and introduced them to the wonderful realm of bubble tea too. She had strawberry (the kind that looks like Pepto and tastes like Quik) and he had taro.  2 more converts.


I have no idea what flavour it was the Hubby got, but this was the one time I got wheatgerm to “try something new”. I regretted it and ended up getting honeydew as well and leaving the other to waste (which is why there are 5 drinks and 4 people).

It was actually them that found a Chinese convenience store closer to their house that made bubble tea and actually sold frozen tapioca pearls you could cook yourself – hence the need for instructions on my original page. (They just came in a clear plastic package with no instructions or labelling at all. I had to old-school Google (before Google existed) how to make them and kept the instructions for future use.) Hubby ended up buying them quite a few times but we preferred to get our bubble tea from elsewhere.

I’m going to interrupt my boring, rambly outlining of the progression of bubble tea availability to say something about style. I mentioned that Winnipeg ONLY had slushy style available, which would lead you to assume Toronto had options. Back then, in what I refer to as the first wave of bubble tea shops, menus were fairly standard. You could get green or black tea base, milky or not, or slushy or not. The range of flavours was extensive, but ranged in variety depending on the shop. Until about 2002ish, chains didn’t seem to exist here yet. Everything was independent. That is when Tea Shop 168 locations started popping up and taking over existing independent shops – including Bubble Q. I was sad to see that one go. I had liked the feel of it. 168 was a totally different look.

They opened up a ton of locations all around downtown Toronto but that was the only one in Mississauga. They all basically looked the same. They had a concept. Everything was painted white, with cut out, rounded off geometric shapes in the walls, painted light green or blue inside. The furniture was all white (tables and chairs) and there was white vinyl banquette seating along the walls. It was cool for a few minutes, but I’m sure as you can guess, started to show their age almost immediately. And whoever the franchise owners were would junk up the spaces with “Christmas decorations” that ended up staying out all the time. They were all rundown looking pretty quickly but still had a certain charm to them and were a reliable place to go for bubble tea (as long as they remained open – the Mississauga location was only there for about a year, I think) for almost 15 years.


I stole this picture from Google. Thankfully someone else had the foresight to take a picture, because I never did.

As I said, there was a boom for bubble tea shops in the early turn of the century. 168 took over and expanded very quickly but after only a few years, started closing up so that bubble tea was a bit harder to find again but not as difficult as it was before they came. I think 168 opened the door to making bubble tea mainstream.

The locations I went to most were Yonge & College and Yonge & south of Bloor, and occasionally Queen near Much Music. They were also the first chain to have locations inside Pacific Mall, which as I’ll get to later, exploded into a whole crazy thing in and of itself.

During this era, there were still no bubble tea places in malls or spots that didn’t somehow already cater to the Asian demographic. That was coming though…

Segueing back into the timeline, bubble tea was once again seemingly missing from Mississauga. Then we discovered a place in a Chinese-dominated complex at Creditview & Burnhamthorpe called Bubble Republic. This was the original Taiwanese style bubble tea. (I’ll write about bubble tea origins another time.) So they had the regular tea, milk tea, slushy AND milkshake, as well as some other signature drinks referred to as Yakult (which I later realized is a Japanese yogurt-y drink that they used in the base – ie. before the fruit flavour) and “smash oatmeal” (which even now, I’m still unsure what it is). They, by far, have the most extensive menu I’ve seen. And they also serve Taiwanese snack food. It wasn’t long before they opened up a second location at Hurontario & Eglinton. I am very pleased to report both of these locations are still as popular as ever. I was at the second location just last night and it took forever for us to get a table and then to get our orders. (Note: They opened up a third location about a year ago in downtown Toronto that I wasn’t aware of when I wrote this. I’ve been there twice since and it’s good.)

I have to digress again for a moment because I forgot about food until I just wrote that… Before 168, bubble tea places basically only served drinks. Yeah, you could get bubble tea at some restaurants with your food, but I think I alluded to the fact that THAT isn’t real bubble tea.

It was Geena again who introduced me to snacks at bubble tea places. (The reason she knew of these things way before I did was probably because she lived downtown and went to bubble tea way more often than I did (then 😜) rather than because she’s Asian and I’m not. Probably.) The novel snack on the menu was another thing that would be very familiar to Asian kids but unheard of to a white girl like me.


But wait, before you laugh, it’s a very specific kind of toast. Of course I grew up eating toast for breakfast but it was never really a snack you’d go out of your way for because it was boring and not very appetizing. But for some reason, BRICK toast is much more appealing and it wasn’t just butter or jam or peanut butter they put on it. No, the real treat is condensed milk. I had never heard such a thing. I didn’t even know people ate it as a spread. I thought it was just an ingredient in things like cheesecake. But this was not something new to Hubby. He grew up with it. His dad used to make it for him before bed (and ended up doing the same for me when we visit, along with a nice cup of tea. 😍)

So the secret which makes it different is the thickness of the toast (at least 3 regular slices thick), slathered with condensed milk and then broiled. That gives it the nice golden bubbly texture on top. I love how it’s gooey and sticks to your teeth! Mmmm.

Unfortunately, even though they still make it at Bubble Republic, and yes, I had some last night, it’s not the same as it used to be. They don’t take their time with it and they scrimp on the milk. Anyway~ That’s the only flavour I ever got. Why would I get jam or butter it anything else? Boring. It was just a nice addition to the going out for bubble tea experience.


Back to the evolution of bubble tea spots… So 168 was the place to go downtown and Bubble Republic reigned in Mississauga. Then Bubble Tease opened up in the malls. This was probably around 2005/6ish. Bubble Tease was never my favourite. I can’t explain it but I think it was a watered-down, white-ified, user-friendly version made to draw in non-Asians. And it did. It was very successful. Bubble tea had another mini boom. And I still went there because it was right down the hall from the store I worked at in Square One Shopping Centre. It filled a void, but I still preferred the real stuff. (To compare, my beloved honeydew tasted all wrong. I don’t even think it was made with tea! It just tasted like melon milk.)

They had the basic menu of drinks – green/black tea, milk tea, slushies and your choice of tapioca or jelly. (*sigh* I’m not going to go back and edit now but I forgot to mention the jelly option. I first saw it at Vica. Most independent places only had tapioca so, other than the rare place like Vica, 168 was the first to have it on their menu as a mainstay. Bubble Republic, of course having more options than anywhere else also had aloe but I think that was it for “toppings” until later…)  They had also originally tried to launch “bubble cakes” (egg cakes) but never had the batter made or irons turned on so they never took off. Pity. I love those.

So Bubble Tease, even though it was mediocre in quality, opened another new door for true mainstream bubble tea, starting franchises in malls. Eventually, Bubble Tease became a last resort for Hubby and I because the franchises were all being taken over by non-Chinese/Taiwanese people and sadly, the quality suffered even more. When they first opened in Square One, is wasn’t too bad. “Fake”, like I said, but drinkable. That location eventually closed but there is still one in the ‘big mall’ in my city and it’s complete crap. Their menu has none of the customizations that it did before and the typical flavours are conspicuously absent. Outside of downtown, Bubble Tease is unrecognizable as bubble tea. (They’ve had a resurgence down there lately and some newer locations are good …and Asian run. 😏)

(That sounds totally racist… Um, stereotyping for sure, at least. *shrug* Don’t know what to tell you. I think Asians make bubble tea better than anyone else… Whatever. I’m a terrible person.)

But, by this time, a bunch more chains opened up in malls and other places. Ten Ren and Real Fruit come to mind first. Two very different places. This denotes a time when bubble tea split into separate styles. Ten Ren is straight up from Taiwan. It’s good quality bubble tea, a good variety of flavours, and an easy to navigate menu and ordering system. Real Fruit was a new style. I’m not sure where it originated but it seems more geared to North American tastes, or at least plays off what we are familiar with. It’s a gateway drink. Real Fruit basically sells smoothies with tapioca in it. Not quite real bubble tea in my mind but I can’t hate on it. They are still good drinks and make it easier to introduce people who are apprehensive about trying bubble tea for the first time.

I guess now is the most logical spot to get back to Pacific Mall. I should really write something up about the wonder that is that shopping centre at some point, because it’s truly awesome and I love it and have many great memories from there, but I’ll keep it simple here and just say it’s a Chinese-style mall with hundreds of tiny shops all falling into a few categories – clothes, home goods, hair/nails/cosmetics, stuffies, accessories for phone, cars, whatever, bootleg media, snacks, and bubble tea. Before, back when I brought it up earlier, there were a handful of independent places and 168. Then Real Fruit and Ten Ren came in. That was it for a few years. I was there recently though, and it’s like bubble tea culture moved in and threw up everywhere.

pacific mall.jpg

For many years, bubble tea culture was at a standstill. Places like 168 were closing locations all over and the few independents that sprang up didn’t last long. But other chains, like Ten Ren were expanding. Maybe they learned their lesson from 168 and were much more modest about it, therefore lasting longer. Bubble tea was still present but it blended in and no one was really talking about it much. Places like Bubble Republic were still packed on weekend evenings with the Asian kids but places like Bubble Tease and Real Fruit – coincidentally the ONLY TWO bubble tea locations in my whole city that I moved to after we left Mississauga 10 years ago, both in the mall (BT is shit and RF is a last resort because there is nothing else here) – had a slow trickle of customers.

And then!! 🎉🎉🎉 Bubble tea hit the second wave. Naturally, being Canada, things happen here after they happen in the States. I experienced “new bubble tea” in San Francisco with Hubby’s cousins about a year before it caught on here. Obviously with the large Asian population on the American west coast and their actual physical proximity to Asia, there were a ton of pre-existing shops there but one of the ones they took us to had a menu unlike any I’d seen before. Instead of the 3-4 basic styles with a multitude of flavours, there were way less flavours but many more customizations and toppings. At a Gong Cha location in Berkley, I got a plain green tea flavour but with a ‘milk foam cap’ from their “mustache series” menu. I also had to specify how much ice and sugar I wanted. Brilliant! Hubby’s cousin explained to me a lot of places were like that now and really popular in Hong Kong. (They go there a lot.)


Side note: When I was in Hong Kong, I was looking for a bubble tea spot. It wasn’t until near the end of my time there that I found two close to my place, only one of which I actually had time to try out. I found out much later after I left from my school friend Justine who went on the same program the year after me that there was a Gong Cha located in the shopping mall attached to the station I went through every day but just never saw it. 😭

So maybe about two/two and a half years ago, a Gong Cha opened up near Pacific Mall. Not IN it. We hardly ever go there because it’s so far but it gave me hope of more similar chains opening soon.


I was in luck. We all were! Bubble tea has gone through a revival in Toronto. There are now many more new style chains around than the older ones. And it’s much more popular with non-Asian people than it was before. I think there are maybe 2 or 3 more Gong Cha locations but they are still further out. The most popular are CoCo and Chatime. There is also Sharetea (the chain I did get to try out in Hong Kong) and another one whose name escapes me right now, but I know the signage is turquoise and white… Also PresoTea has opened up in malls which seems to be a hybrid of old and new style. (Note: Gong Cha has a downtown location now too that opened recently, just down the street from CoCo, but the ‘turquoise and white’ place is now closed.)

Chatime‘s menu is extensive. They have plain and milk styles and quite a few flavours. They also have the ice and sugar qualifiers (regular ice/less ice/no ice and 100/70/30/0% sugar) and a choice of toppings (tapioca, jelly, pudding, grass jelly, etc.)  CoCo and Gong Cha are different. Their drink menu is pre-set. For instance, only certain ones come with sago (mini, clear balls rather than the large brown tapioca) and certain ones with the milk foam, etc. There are hardly any fruit flavours. They also have red bean as a topping (goes best with matcha smoothie, I guess.)

It makes it SO MUCH EASIER to get bubble tea now. But sadly, my city still only has the two places, one of which we NEVER go to (BT) and the other which has very limited options for non-smoothies (RF) and still isn’t even that close. Our better option is just to drive into Mississauga these days, which we did last night. There are no Chatimes in Mississauga yet that I know of but there is a CoCo directly across the street from Bubble Republic on Hurontario. I couldn’t actually decide between old and new style yesterday… so we got both. Went to BR and got my honeydew milk green tea with condensed milk toast for a taste of nostalgia and then immediately to CC where I got what they call “2 Ladies” which is milk black tea (plain, no fruit flavour) with both tapioca and pudding (with ‘no ice’ and ‘regular sugar’). Best of both worlds.

I’m so glad Hubby loved his bubble tea the first time he tried it. His love for bubble tea rivals mine now. I don’t think he would have ever been up for back-to-back teas otherwise.


Update: There is now a Chatime in Square One in Mississauga, which is much more convenient. AND, there is now a place to get bubble tea only 5 MINUTES FROM MY HOUSE! It’s a coffee/bubble tea shop called Bean & Pearl and ~yay~ it’s pretty good. 

To go back to that conversation with my friends I shared at the beginning of this insanely long journey, no, I don’t drink bubble tea even half as much as I drink regular cold and hot tea at home but I definitely do drink it fairly often and without a doubt, WAY more than most people who drink it at all.

(I actually had to put myself on a bubble tea ban for awhile because my bubble tea consumption increased dramatically. Not long after writing this, Hubby and I went on vacation and had bubble tea every day. I gained even more weight and that is not good!)

I said earlier that, once upon a time, it was my goal to try every single available flavour of bubble tea. I’ve actually had a ton, but not all because some are gross and why would I do that to myself? Although, I have had some pretty gross ones, like wheatgerm (see picture closer to the top of this post), sesame and Taiwanese plum. Some, like passion fruit, I just don’t care to try because l know it would be a waste. I don’t like those fruits.

I have about 5-8 regular flavours I rotate depending on my mood. These are my favourites: (certain flavours only from certain places)
honeydew milk green tea, obviously
lychee green tea, slushy or not
peach green tea with lychee jelly
peach milk green tea
hibiscus green tea (Ten Ren only)
mint milk green tea
honey milk black tea
almond milk tea
caramel pudding milk black tea
honey green tea
matcha milk tea
hot jasmine milk tea
champagne milk tea (Bubble Republic exclusive flavour – I get it with mini tapioca)

I rarely ever get tapioca anymore. It’s not that I don’t like it but that it’s too filling. I only want about 10 balls before I’m over it.

‘new style’ favourites:
green tea with sago
green tea with milk foam
2 Ladies

Once, I had a non-milk honeydew at an independent place downtown and it was sooooo good but I never saw it again and the place closed down. I’ve had real fruit honeydew but it’s so not the same thing.

I’m also happy to say that I’m still a strong bubble tea ambassador and occasionally still make a successful convert.

I have so much more to say about bubble tea, but I’m going to leave it here for now because a) I just wrote for like 4 hours about one topic and I have lost interest in writing and b) poor you! This is way too long and rambly and, frankly, pointless.

Thanks for your attention. (You should probably discuss your masochistic tendencies with a therapist.)


on my 20th birthday, enjoying a honeydew bubble tea from ViAnn – BUBBLE TEA FOR LIFE, YO! (Again, with the dubious fashion choices and horrible hair. SMH.)

Where I get bubble tea in the GTA (in order of preference):
Gong Cha
Bubble Republic
Ten Ren
Tea Shop 168
Real Fruit
Bubble Tease
Bean & Pearl
Kung Fu Tea
Icha Tea

Other downtown shops I have yet to check out (but I’ll get there!):
Green Grotto
One Zo Tapioca
LaTea Era
The Alley
Happy Lemon

So much bubble tea! It makes me happy. 😀

Posted in personal | Tagged | 6 Comments


I don’t remember when or from where I first heard of geisha but I know that I became obsessed with learning everything I could about them fairly early on in my love of all things Japanese. I’m not sure how much I knew before Memoirs of a Geisha was published, but I do know that information availability exploded after the book’s release. Instead of falling in love with geisha because of the novel, it’s popularity simply made it a lot easier for me to find information about them.

I guess you could say, for a long time, geisha became my “special interest” area. I won’t say I’m an expert, because there is a ton of information I don’t know (or have forgotten) but I definitely know a lot more than the average person.

My old Geocities website had a page about what I knew at the time about geisha but that has been lost over the years. In college, I took a Japanese culture class as an elective (2012). Easiest class I ever took since about 85% of the material was a refresher of information I already knew. Coincidentally, the teacher of that class and I met again this past year when I joined a Japanese language learning club with some girls I worked with at my current job. (Sensei is also a tea master and I’m hoping to convince her to teach me at some point. 🙂 )

Anyway~ for that class, everybody had to pick a topic to independently research and present as our final project. Two of my friends were in the class with me. Chris picked Noh theatre and Abbygail chose street fashion (both on my recommendation). I, of course, presented my research on geisha. In my opinion, my PowerPoint was beautiful. Haha. I’m biased of course but I think it was the best in the class. (Humble too, ね? 😉 ) I thought, since I lost my old web page but am still as interested in geisha as ever, and I am continually adding in old journal entries and school work to my blog, I’d share that project here too. Why not?


A geisha is woman who has been highly trained in the art of conversation and hospitality and a purveyor of tradition Japanese culture and arts. She embodies the idea of female perfection – this sums up what a geisha is and what she is not. She attends to a man’s every whim… almost. Within this illusion of perfection comes an air of being unattainable. Geisha seem to exist within another realm. They actually have a name for this – known as the flower and willow world.


Geisha are not prostitutes. Relationships of course do happen but it is frowned upon for a geisha to become involved with her clients or to have a boyfriend as this takes away time from her clients.


A real geisha dedicates all of her time to perfecting her craft and upholds the traditions. An imitation would try to cut corners and look for shortcuts. Geisha hold themselves to a strict code of confidentiality. Anyone who repeats what they have been told in confidence cannot consider herself a true geisha.


facing east along Gion Shirakawa stream


Today, there are only around 1000 working geisha. There are a few spread out across japan but the majority are mainly in Tokyo and Kyoto. When one thinks of geisha, they think of Kyoto. In Kyoto, geisha are called geiko and the trainees or those who are apprenticing and have not yet become full-fledged geiko are called maiko. Maiko are exclusive to Kyoto.


There are four geisha districts (called hanamachi or ‘flower town’) in Kyoto: Gion – separated into 2: Gion Koubu (the most famous – where Memoirs of a Geisha takes place) and Gion Higashi, Miyagawacho, Pontocho, and Kamishichiken.  This is where the geisha live, take their lessons and shop, as well as where they entertain their guests.


Geisha parties (called ozashiki), where a few geisha will entertain a group of men, are held at tea houses (ochaya) or traditional Japanese inns (ryokan). This is the main way geisha entertain their clients but they may also accompany men to events such as sumo tournaments, cherry blossom viewing parties (hanami), or large scale banquets.

Men who hire geisha usually do as a business tactic to impress potential partners. It is considered a highly sophisticated way to spend an evening. Within the walls of a geisha gathering, the men can feel free to discuss their business but also simply spend time strengthening a bond between business associates by drinking and having fun. Alcohol flows freely at these parties and the geisha are known for their discretion.


Girls from all over Japan who have a desire to become geisha will move to Kyoto to undergo their training. They usually begin around the age of fifteen. It takes roughly five or six years to complete their training.

In order to begin training as a geisha, a girl must find a geisha house (okiya) willing to take her in and be responsible for her training and expenses until she is fully trained and able to make money.

It is very expensive to train and style a geisha. It can be around $500 thousand. They take lessons all day long, such as tea ceremony, shamisen, singing, dancing, flute, and drums. They wear kimono which cost several thousand dollars. One geisha will need around 30 kimono throughout the year – different colours for various seasons, black for new year and formal occasions.  They get their hair done by experts.

During their maiko training, all the money they earn is turned over to their okiya. The okasan (‘mama’ – person who runs the house) gives the maiko an allowance.

Each maiko is paired with an older, more experienced geiko who she will call onesan (elder sister). This bond lasts a lifetime, even if the maiko does not complete her training. It is the responsibility of the onesan to guide her younger sister and teach her the tricks of the trade. If a maiko makes a mistake, it reflects poorly on her onesan.


The young women who choose to become geisha are generally those who are interested in traditional arts such as dance. It can be a difficult profession. The dedication needed is often likened to that of a prima ballerina.

A geisha’s greatest asset is to be skilled at conversation. They not only have their classes in the arts but also study up on current events, politics, literature – anything that the men might want to talk about. They need to be well-versed in a variety of topics. It is part of a geisha’s job – perhaps the biggest part – to cater to their clients, pamper their egos, and anticipate their needs. If a girl is having a bad day – if she’s tired, hungover, feeling ill – she must never let that show. She smiles at her customer and engages him in conversation. The idea is that the men lead very stressful lives and spending time with geisha is a chance for them to relax.

When fully trained, a geisha will have mastered this skill as well as many traditional arts. All geisha are trained in the same instruments, dance, and singing but generally choose to specialize in one area such as playing the shamisen. Geisha also become masters at tea ceremony. Even the way they speak and walk has been transformed.

Since the girls who want to become geisha come from all over Japan and generally end up in Kyoto, they must learn the Kyoto dialect and specific terminology and phrases used by the geiko there.  Walking in a kimono is also very different than walking in western clothes. The legs are tightly bound and the way the legs move has to change. Even the way they sleep changes. During her years as a maiko, a girl gets her hair done about once a week in an elaborate hair style. In order to keep it looking perfect between appointments, she sleeps on a special pillow called a takamakura which is essentially a padded wooden block. It keeps her hair from being flattened or crushed.

On top of lessons and entertaining clients, geisha also give performances, musical or dance, at the twice yearly festival performances and at various events throughout the year.


The first geisha were men. In a time where the shogun took all the prostitutes and confined them in a certain area known as the pleasure quarters, men who called themselves geisha would attend the courtesan’s parties to provide entertainment by playing instruments, dancing, singing, and telling jokes – sort of like a court jester. When one courtesan’s clientèle was dwindling, she decided she would market herself as a geisha. Soon female geisha outnumbered the men and started stealing the courtesans’ customers.


In 1779, the geisha profession was recognized and a registry office (kenban) was established. Right from the beginning, the kenban monitored the geisha’s behaviour so that they were not in competition with the courtesans. They restricted what they could wear, and how and when they entertained party goers. Once registered as a geisha, they were strictly not allowed to dabble in prostitution.


It has always been in people’s minds that geisha and prostitutes were synonymous. In fact, they have always been distinct. A prostitute’s business was sex. A geisha’s business was entertainment and hospitality. The similarity is that neither could choose who they were spending their time with and that they were paid by the hour to spend time with men.

To the untrained eye, they iconic courtesans do look very similar to geisha but there are many subtle differences in their appearance. The most obvious is the tying of the obi. Geisha and maiko always tie their obi in the back. Courtesans had their obi tied in the front because they were constantly needing to take them on and off. (A dresser is needed to tie an obi in the back and that wasn’t convenient for the courtesans).


Another situation that added to the idea of geisha as prostitutes happened after the ending of WW2. Many American soldiers came to Japan. The general public was poor, hungry, and desperate. Many women would sleep with the service men for food. They told the men they were geisha but they were only common girls. When the soldiers returned home, they told stories of “geesha girls” which perpetuated the false ideas and spread them to the west.


In the 1920’s jazz era, many bars and cafés opened and hired female bar hostesses to attend to their male customers. The hostesses offered companionship at a cheap price and in a modern setting. They were extremely popular and for the first time, the geisha profession was threatened. Instead of adapting their style of entertainment, the geisha became even more defined as the purveyors of traditional arts and refined conversation. Tradition won out and the jazz boom died out. (It’s interesting to me to note that if you look at a picture of a maiko from 100 years ago and one from now, they look almost exactly the same.)

In the 1930’s the geisha numbers swelled to over 80,000. It was their golden age. The demand for geisha was so high that poor families would sell their young girls to okiya. (It seems cruel but it was better than selling them to brothels which is what happened to those girls who didn’t seem to have potential.) In this way, the okasan literally owned her girls.

These days, it is the okasan’s best interest to treat the girls in her okiya well. There is nothing to stop them from quitting. This doesn’t give the okasan a chance to recoup her investments. It takes the apprentice years to pay off this debt.


Geisha wear kimono and have traditional hairstyles. The iconic image of the painted white face is of the maiko. Full-fledged geiko generally only paint their faces for special occasions.

Maiko have their hair done usually once a week in various styles depending on their stage of training. Geiko no longer have their own hair done but wear wigs. A maiko will wear a vibrantly coloured kimono with long sleeves (furisode) and a long dangling obi.  Geiko wear more subdued colours and have a short obi.

Although geisha do not deal in sex, they do use erotic symbolism in their makeup and attire. The kimono are worn lower in the back and expose a patch of neck. The white makeup is left bare in a pronged pattern (2 points for regular wear, 3 for special ceremonies). It hints at what is underneath the mask. The red lips and patches of red in the maiko’s hair and around the collar of her kimono are also symbolic.

To begin her training, a maiko’s upper lip is barely painted. This leaves her looking child-like. It is a symbol of her status. She is not yet a woman. You can tell how far along a maiko is in her training by how full her upper lip is.

As a maiko progresses, her collar becomes more and more white. The actual process of changing from a maiko to a geiko is known as ‘turning the collar’. Geiko wear completely white collars.

Maiko wear very high wooded sandals called okobo. Geiko wear regular lacquered zori.


maiko standing on the bridge of Gion Shirakawa (facing west) – FYI, this exact spot is the same as in my blog header. It’s my favourite place in Kyoto.

geisha21geisha22geisha23Shikomi – Prior to becoming an apprentice geisha, a young woman helps the maiko and geisha in her okiya and does chores around the house to earn her keep.

Misedashi: Around the age of 15, a shikomi finds a mentor and undergoes the misedashi ceremony. This ceremony binds them together as sisters, and the new maiko begins her training to become a geisha. She now has a new name that is derived from the name of her mentor.

Maiko: As an apprentice geisha, a maiko spends about five years learning the arts of music, dance and hostessing. She attends parties to observe and be seen.

Erikae: The erikae (“turning of the collar”) ceremony marks the transition from maiko to geisha.

Geisha: Throughout her career, a geisha lives in the district in which she works. She spends her time entertaining, studying arts and performing. If she binds herself to a danna (patron), she may move out of the okiya and into her own apartment.

Hiki-iwai: The hiki-iwai ceremony marks a geisha’s retirement. She no longer entertains at parties, and she may discontinue her studies. At this point, a former geisha might become the head of an okiya or teahouse, or she may leave the geisha life entirely.


Ware-shinobu: The first hair style, this is designed to be complex and emphasize the prettiness of the maiko.

Ofuku: The ‘split peach’ style worn after mizuage or a level of maturity is attained. The splash of red (no longer red and white) is meant to be suggestive and the types of hair decorations must change to match the hair style.

Yakko-shimada: A formal hairstyle worn for dance recitals, this used to be a common hair style for married women.

Katsuyama: A special hair style worn for the dance recital season (during hanami).

Sakko: The hair style worn for the final two month’s of a maiko‘s apprenticeship. Her hair ornaments must now be more subtle, though still more daring than those of the geisha.


People often worry that the geisha profession will die out. Most of the customers these days are older men. The younger generation doesn’t seem to be interested in the tradition. They don’t understand the songs and dances. It is also very expensive to spend an evening with geisha. Many young people prefer to go to karaoke or night clubs.

On the other hand, geisha have been around for centuries and are considered living works of art. They have survived wars and extinction from other passing fads yet always seem to remain.

There is a fine line between holding too rigidly to their traditions and “selling out”. Geisha need to remain what they are at the core but perhaps there are some modifications that can be made to ensure their survival. For instance, many okiya have websites where people from far away can inquire about hiring geisha. They also make foreign appearances to spark interest from non-Japanese people. Whatever they can do to bring in more customers while still retaining what makes them geisha is probably the wisest choice at this point.

The future is unclear but in a nation known for resilience and adaptation, there is a hope that such a strong tradition will remain.


If you are interested in geisha, there are a few people I recommend either reading their books or watching them in documentaries. Probably the most well-known are Liza Dalby, who was actually the first westerner to become a geisha which she did for her anthropology dissertation and has written several books, or Lesley Downer – also an author and expert on geisha. The famous novel Memoirs of a Geisha was written by Arthur Golden who spent 10 years researching the profession and based it loosely on the life of Mineko Iwasaki.

I’ve read all of these:
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki
Geisha by Liza Dalby
Kimono by Liza Dalby
Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World by Lesley Downer
Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda
A Geisha’s Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice by Komomo
Geisha by Kyoko Aihara
Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art by Jodi Cobb

I also recommend these documentaries:
The Secret Life of Geisha
Real Geisha, Real Women
Geisha Girl
A Tale of Love and Honor: Life in Gion
Hidden Love: Geisha
Beautiful Kyoto: Being a Maiko
Core Kyoto – Geisha episode
Begin Japanology – Geisha episode
Japanology Plus – Geisha episode
Only in Japan – Geisha vs. Oiran episode
Geisha: Flowers of Japan (no words but very pretty)
Japan’s Geisha Erasure
The Incredible Truth About Japan’s Geisha


Were you paying attention? 😉


The End



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