Category Archives: Reminiscing

The Art of Scrapbooking

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It seems like I’m rarely writing about all the goals I have to complete this year, and yet my 101 in 1,001 and 23 Before 23 are patiently waiting to have numbers crossed off. Today’s post is about #13 on the 23 Before 23 and #17 on the 101 in 1,001! 2 in 1, woo hoo!

While I was in Greece in August (yes, I am bringing up this vacation again!) I had the idea that I wanted to teach myself to scrapbook. I realize *teach* is a bit of a strong word, but I am seriously crafty-handicapped. I’ve never been great at it, but the idea of having a place where I could store photos & memorabilia that I collected along the way sounded enchanting.

The week I got home, I was at the craft store buying supplies. I found my scrapbook and a bunch of cute things to put in it all on the same day- we’re talking like early September. And then I proceeded to basically completely forget about my project. Well actually, that’s not really true. I needed to get my pictures printed, and with almost 1,500 photos to sort through I needed to find the time to do it. This is what I ended up printing:

Yes, that is two BOXES full. Pretty sure I printed about 500 photos! 

Finally, about two weeks ago, I decided to sit myself down and try to start my scrapbook. It’s been about 6 months that I’m home & I was already home from ANOTHER vacation after that one so I wasn’t really in the mood to do it… But you guys? I ended up LOVING it. I’d like to think my scrapbook turned out relatively well- it’s not done yet, I still have 4 pages to complete, but other than that? I sat down over the course of one weekend and I was un-stoppable!

I’m so proud of my new-found craftiness, I really wanted to share my handiwork. So without further ado, the scrapbook of a non-crafty person (not so bad, right?!)

… Sorry about the image quality, my iPhone wasn’t quite up to the task, it seems! 

I tried as much as possible not to ruin the beauty of the photos by cutting out too much of the view in the background, because that is such a big part of Greece. I think I did a decent job of preserving the beauty in the photos, and the ones that I didn’t was simply because I wanted the picture in there for fun. I added in a few little fun things I collected on the different islands I visited, which I thought gave it a sweet personal touch.

All in all, I’m really happy I gave scrapbooking a shot & I can’t wait to finish it up once I’m out of finals! It was such a lovely way to bring back tons of happy memories and become nostalgic once again for a time in my life that I absolutely adored. I still have a MILLION pictures leftover and I can’t wait to organize them and set them up in a photo album to look at any time I want to visit the vacation of my dreams!

Have you ever taken on a hobby that you didn’t think you’d enjoy? What kind of crafty things do you like to do?

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2011; A Brief Review

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I can’t believe it’s already the last day of 2011. Saying that this year has flown by would be an understatement for sure, but at the same time it feels like forever ago since I celebrated the end of 2010.

What could I possibly say about this year in just one single blog post? I feel like so much happened in the last twelve months, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I got to experience so many different things; so many highs and lows. I always get really nostalgic on the last day of the year, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s a mixture of ending a time in my life I’ve grown comfortable in, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I’ll never be the person I am right now ever again. It’s so scary and so exciting at the same time.

The older I get, the more I’ve learned to appreciate all the little moments in life but even more so the bigger moments that don’t happen as often. In 2011 I had a few really GREAT times, and just like 2010 I want to take a few minutes to look back on them and reminisce a little.

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January: Spending three straight days with my two favorite road trip girls for the LAST time. We slept about 3 hours in total, went to a concert in Montreal and then in Ottawa, and partied a whole lot. I loved forgetting about my responsibilities for just a few days and having the time of my life with friends.

February: Celebrating Valentine’s day at my place with my best girls. They make the crappy-single holidays a LOT better, and honestly? I just love celebrating every single holiday with them. It’s become one of my favorite traditions!

April: Not only did I book the trip of a lifetime (Greece) but I spent many nights with my girls from April straight through to July planning it. A huge part of the vacation for me was all the extra time we got to spend together booking hotels and discovering more about a country that we’d later all fall in love with!

I also had the most EPIC girls’ night with a bunch of ladies from work in April just as exams ended. We pretended to be a group from a bachelorette party and we partied like crazy until the next morning. This is super out of character for me, but I had so much fun. We have plans to do it again ASAP! 

May: I didn’t got many concerts in 2011, but I did get to see one of my favorite bands in May for the first time in 3 years. I love Augustana and they put on an amazing show. Not to mention I had a lot of fun with the people I went with.

I also finally went on another road trip with my girls- 4 months might be a record for us? We went to see Wakey! Wakey! in Burlington and it was an unforgettable show for sure.

June: I got to see Rihanna live in concert after many years of saying I would. Yay!

 I also visited the Biodome, a big attraction that features four kinds of animal wildlife in one big building. I celebrated my friends’ birthday on a beautiful summer day, and I had one of my absolute favorite interviews to-date, with Owl City. LOVE him.

July: My birthday month! I had an absolutely amazing birthday this year. One of my ex-coworkers threw a celebration in my honor at her apartment, and decorated the entire place especially for me. The next day I had a brunch with my friends, and then I spent some time with family. I felt so loved 🙂

August: I spent three weeks in Greece with three of my best friends! This was definitely one of my top three highlights of the year 🙂

September: I attended my sister-in-law’s baby shower, I got to see The New Cities- a band I’ve been following ever since they first got together- release their second full length album on a major record label, and I took a vow to become a more honest blogger.

October: I welcomed my nephew into the world on October 18th and have fallen more in love with him each and every single day! I remember when he first got here how surreal it felt, and the first day before I met him I couldn’t actually BELIEVE he existed. Now? I can’t imagine my life without him there.

November: I got out of my weird mood that I’d been in ever since getting home from Greece. I finally started to see life clearly and happily again. I consider that really important, and I think it’s partially due to the fact that I was so happy to have my nephew around! I also went out for the first time in AGES, it was my great uncle’s 90th birthday and the ENTIRE family was there. I drank lots of wine with my cousins and just had the best time.

Oh, and lastly, I got to see Hedley again for the first time in over a year! I missed them terribly, and I loved seeing them perform some of the tracks of their newest album.

December: I got paid for my very first writing gig (it was a blog post, but still! I have to start somewhere right?) and I’ve had the chance to spend a ton of time with family because of the holidays. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end off the year.

And there you have it, another year gone by in the blink of an eye & I couldn’t be more excited to see what’s next.

Happy New Year’s Eve! I’ll see you all in 2012 🙂

Four Years…

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Yesterday I headed downtown with Jenia because I won a meet & greet with The New Cities. We made a lot of jokes about it because we honestly didn’t NEED to win- we’ve met the Montreal band dozens of times- but now that they’re getting bigger and more well known, we thought why not? Let’s just go!

We’re not the kind of fans who constantly ask for pictures with the guys. We just love going to shows, hanging out for a bit afterwards to say hi, and to letting them know we were there & it was awesome. I’ve been going to see them play since February 2008, back in the day when there were only 5 or 6 people there to see THEM. Me and two of my best friends have been there through all of it, and I think we can all agree that it’s been crazy and amazing to see them become the band they are today.

February 2008:

September 2008: 

December 2011: 

It’s been an incredibly fun four years, that’s for sure. I fell in love with the music industry because of this band, I basically grew up going to their shows. I can distinctly remember the different me from four years ago, and it’s indescribable. Their music has always been fun and filled with memories. Even though the three of us don’t have as much time or money to dedicate to road trips and shows, we’ve still had some amazing times together traveling for their music.

In big part, it has to do with these guys. We might joke about getting to *meet them*, but really, it’s kind of cool to see the different people we’ve all become over time!

Have you ever had an artist influence your life positively over the years? 

One month later [in top 5’s]

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Today officially marks my one month return home from Greece, otherwise known as the trip that changed my perspective on travelling. I thought I’d wrap up all my Greece posts with this last one that I’ve been thinking about for a little while, and share with you the things I don’t miss at all about Greece, the things I’m so happy to have back at home and of course the things I miss most about Greece.

Top 5 things I don’t miss at all about Greece [the sarcastic stuff]

1. The line-ups. Or rather, the non line-ups. That shit doesn’t exist in Greece and it drives a girl crazy, let me tell you.

2. The un-organized bus system. Every time I (line up) and wait for a bus now in Montreal, I praise the Lord that we have a functional bus system that understands the meaning of rush hour.

3. The money-spending. I mean, I do love to shop but Greece was for real getting me to spend more on souvenirs and food than I’ve ever spent in my life. Sweet baby Jesus, I once paid 18 CANADIAN DOLLARS (That’s 12 Euros) for one freaking cocktail. Also? 8 Euros on bread and dip! Good Lord!

4. The travelling. Okay this is a bit of a stretch because I also kind of loved the travelling, but I did SO MUCH MORE OF IT than I ever thought possible. Like, hi, 10 hours to get from Athens to Kefallonia? Thank heavens we stayed there for 9 days and made it worth it! The upside is that I saw a LOT of Greece… Even though hours of it was through a bus window or off a boat’s deck. The boat thing sounds like a really great time, but it really wasn’t that time kids were being sick all around me and you couldn’t go to the bathroom without being surrounded by girls on all sides feeling the sea-sickness too. Ugh.

5. The jet lag. I only got used to the time difference in our last week or so in Greece. And even then? Really freaking weird. I called my brother at 3:30AM Greece time on his birthday only to find remember it was like 7pm the day before in Montreal and he was still at work. Oops. I like being in the same time zone as my people, let’s just leave it at that. Although the whole ‘knowing people in yesterday’ thing was pretty cool. So was the whole ‘re-living the same afternoon twice’ thing when I got home. But I’m over it.

Top 5 Things I’m so happy to have back home [The truth]

1. The internet at my fingertips. Being somewhat unplugged was hard, but the toughest part was living without my 3G network. I missed being able to tweet what I was up to WHILE I was there.

2. My bed. I loved sharing a room (and sometimes a bed) with my friends, but I don’t think I’ve ever slept as well as the day I got home. It was like a cloud had landed in my bedroom and transported me to a far away land.

3. My family & friends. I didn’t exactly feel HOME SICK while I was gone, but I was really sad to miss out on a month of my sister-in-law’s pregnancy, I missed a wedding, my brother’s birthday and just cuddling with my puppy and kitty whenever I wanted.

4. Canadian money. I hated calculating 1 and a half for every single thing I bought. I was so conscious of the ridiculous amounts of money I was *throwing away*… Not to mention Euros look really funny. Although strangely enough when I got home, Canadian money looked really funny… But basically I just missed spending the money I earned at face value.

5. Melissa time. Again, I loved spending so much time with my friends & I never got sick of them, but I require Melissa time at least every once in a while. Sometimes I needed to just be in my own space for an hour or so, or I needed to go to bed at the time I wanted to, with lights off… But that was unlikely to happen in a one room situation.

Top 5 things I miss most about Greece [the mushy stuff]

1. The food. Oh God do I miss the food. I don’t think I’ve eaten a single meal since I’ve been home that has matched up to the ones I had while I was there. So much deliciousness. The yogurt, honey, lemon chicken, stuffed vegetables, gyros, fries spiced with oregano… I could go on and on.

Lemon chicken & baked potato dinner courtesy of Naoussa in Santorini… One of the best meals I had in all of Greece! 

2. The sunsets. I’d seen some beautiful sunsets before going to Greece. Some evenings, in the summer, the sky in Montreal turns into beautiful colors of pink and orange, showing the world that another beautiful day awaits tomorrow. Then I went to Greece and saw colors in the sky that are literally miraculous. The sun would set on this country in a fiery ball of deep orange, lighting the sky in reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. The moment the sun disappeared over the horizon, the entire sky would turn into some kind of rainbow, pink covering all the land in the distance, turning into deep purple and then eventually blue. Every single day in Greece was ended like this. Every single day. You didn’t have to wonder if the next day would be beautiful weather or not, either.

Santorini sunset

3.  The beaches. I mean, this one is pretty obvious, but I just loved visiting a new beach almost every single day. You can’t go to Greece without visiting them, and there’s a reason for it. They are some of the most beautiful, with the most turquoise water I have ever seen in my entire life. The sky is always clear and reflects into the water, showing the soft, sandy & sometimes rocky bottom of the ocean. I also loved spending long, lazy days laying in the sun with a drink, a book and loud music. There’s no tan like a European tan, let me tell you!

Selina, me, Agnes & Kate in front of Myrtos Beach, Kefallonia.

4. The landscapes & architecture. I was by no means ‘culture shocked’ when I arrived in Greece, but it was certainly an entirely different culture. In Montreal I’m used to seeing huge buildings, skyscrapers, the suburbs… The usual city scenery. But Greece? It’s a whole different ball game. Around each turn there’s a breath taking view, surrounding by the traditional Greek architecture. Everything was picture perfect- especially on the islands. The homes were little and adorable, the roads often built out of stones or driven on by scooters because it was just easier. This country really and truly had it’s own distinct style and I miss it terribly.

Oia, Santorini. It really is all white & blue and picturesque. 

5. My friends. I miss the last four things very much & maybe I will until the next time I travel again, but none of it would have been even half as amazing without those three girls by my side. They made the trip worth taking, it was our high school dream brought to reality at only twenty two years old. People dream of Greece their whole LIVES without going, and we were lucky enough to be able to make it out there together in our twenties. I never got sick of seeing their faces and we NEVER ( I mean seriously, never) ran out of things to talk about. I missed them the minute we said goodbye at the airport exactly one month ago today, and my days have been that much more lonely without them in it each and every single day.

Love these girls. ❤

I swear, that is my LAST post on Greece. I will stop talking about it now in huge detail. It’s been one month since I’m home- time to get back into the game & plan where-to next!

Tell me, what is YOUR dream vacation? Have you lived it yet? 

Life & Things

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Here’s a list of the first 10 things I can think of worth sharing that’s going on in my life these days.

1. School is becoming a huge issue for me. I have a goal on my 101 list that says ‘pick a program in school & stick with it- and be happy with that choice’ that I have yet to cross off because IT STILL HASN’T HAPPENED. My 1,001 days are trickling away and I still haven’t chosen a program I am happy with. This is basically a post all on it’s own, but I had an epiphany about this earlier today. It wasn’t an epiphany as in “I totally know what I want to do with my life now” but it was the kind where I understood why I didn’t know more about where I’m headed. But more on that at some other point.

2. On a related note, I really wanted to NOT procrastinate this semester but I’ve in fact been procrastinating about 10x more than ever before. Again, this ties into my worldly epiphany. Although knowing me, I’ll have another one of these and change my mind again. I don’t want to think about that just yet.

3. We’re having a bit of an Indian summer here in Montreal and I love it. It got cold and autumn-like for 2 weeks or so, but this week has been sunny and really warm (like summer clothes warm). It’s so great but it’s just stretching out the inevitable fact that my favorite season is basically over, and way too fast at that. On the bright side I love my winter jacket and I’m kind of excited to be wearing it again… But that’s about the extent of my love of Montreal winters.

4. TV season is starting back up and I couldn’t be happier. Not only are all my favorite shows back on, but they’re all very much welcome distractions. This year’s favorites so far:

– Big Bang Theory: the new season is HILARIOUS, but that’s no surprise at all.
– How I Met Your Mother: also really happy at how funny the new season is. I want some resolved issues soon though! I always have too many questions unanswered… and I mean really, it’s been like 7 years. Make something happen!
– Grey’s Anatomy: Well the first episode made me cry, so I know that the show is back with a vengeance. I don’t think there’s been a single episode in at least 2 or 3 seasons where I haven’t at least teared up. This season so far looks reallyyyy good though.
– Desperate Housewives: Apparently this is the last season? Oh well. It’s my guilty pleasure & although it’s a bit dramatic this year I still love it.
– Modern Family: I clearly love sitcoms. But this one is so great… Also another really strong beginning to a show. I was laughing so much!

And a really awesome new show that I’ve added to my list…

– New Girl: The first episode (of a new sitcom, yeah yeah) was AMAZING. Zooey Deschanel is the perfect main character and her three guy roommates are hilarious. I’m pretty excited for this show!

The show has officially been picked up for it’s first full season, hurray! 

5. One of my all time favorite bands, Augustana, just broke up. I actually found out as I started drafting this blog post and as I’ve mentioned them many times before (and my ridiculous love for them) I felt it was important to add this in. I am literally devastated by this news… The lead singer has one of the most amazing voices live and on record that I have ever heard. I can only hope that this break-up isn’t the end of his singing career, because he is one of the few people I truly believe were made to do what he does.

6. On a musically related note, here are a few songs I can’t get enough of right now:

– The entire ‘Kill The Lights’ album by The New Cities. Seriously, catchiest synth/electro/pop songs you’ll ever listen to. If you need to just listen to something happy, get this album.
– Gavin DeGraw’s new single ‘Not Over You‘… SO. GOOD.
– Someone Like You by Adele. Which was on my playlist that I posted last weekend, but it is just so amazing.
– Amy, I by Jack’s Mannequin. What a great song off their upcoming album ‘People & Things’. Speaking of which, OCTOBER 4TH. So exciting!

Only 7.99 on iTunes! 

October 4th or an album, but WHEN will I be seeing this man live again?! Seriously my music idol. 

7.  Early next week I’m going to this really cool book convention thing for HarperCollins. They host ‘fall previews’ each year for staff members in big cities and show you what’s coming and give you some good books to read. So cool! I’m going with a bunch of work people, plus the one other book convention I went to was totally awesome and wasn’t even the kind of books I READ.

8. I am currently writing this blog post as I procrastinate writing an English paper. I just don’t want to do it. I feel awful though because I should just get it done and move on to other homework. I’m being so last minute it’s beyond ridiculous.

9. I’m going to be an aunt anywhere between right now and a month from now. The baby is due on October 24th or something like that. ANY DAY NOW. SO EXCITING.

10. I went to The New Cities’ album launch this past Monday night and it was a really great experience. If you’ve read through my archives you’ll know that I’ve seen this band from the time that they were struggling to get their music heard, and now they’ve just released their second album on a major label. It’s so crazy how proud I am of them and seeing them on Monday for the first time in just over a year was really emotional for me. It’s a bit insane, but I’ve now seen them over 40 times. That’s what happens with local bands! I also somehow talked my manager into finding a way to carry their CD at my work which has never happened before. He was super excited to support a local band & I’m really excited to sell the record!

The four of us at the album launch, photo courtesy of Vanessa Leclair. 

Jenia & I before the show started. 4 years & 40 shows with this girl (and another one who’s currently in Vancouver!) It’s been a crazy, crazy 4 years. But so amazing. 

Well this was an incredibly random post filled with a heck of a lot of rambling, but I needed to just write whatever came to mind. It’s been a while since I just let my mind exhale a little bit. Maybe now I’ll be able to focus on this paper of mine.

Tell me, how’s your life been right now? What’s going on with you?! 

Life on hold

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These last few weeks have felt really strange. Exactly three weeks ago I was sitting in Athens with three of my best friends, sipping on frappes (that’s their favorite iced coffee. Yummy.) and looking out at the skyline of the capital city of Greece. It was fabulous.

I was only gone for three weeks of my life, but it might as well have been a hell of a lot longer because I feel like a completely different person now that I’m home. I find myself constantly day dreaming of far away places. I’m even ACTUALLY dreaming that the four of us are on more adventures around the world. Last night we were in Sydney, Australia. The night before, we were heading back to Greece.

Flying over Amsterdam on our way home from Athens

My brain has some unfinished business with the world, clearly. I don’t blame it. Traveling 8,000KM away from home for the first time had a profound effect on me in ways I still don’t quite understand, but I guess my subconscious is slowly learning to come to terms with it.

I think the reason I’m still adjusting to being back in Montreal is because I’m not READY to be back here. I mean, I love home. I love being here- I love my family and seeing my friends and waking up in my bed- but traveling in Europe really opened my eyes to another part of the world. And I loved every minute of it.

All this to say that  I feel like since getting home, my heart hasn’t truly been in anything that I do 100%. I don’t like that feeling at all. I want to be present in my life and enjoy where I am, always, where ever I may be. I miss traveling there’s no denying that, but I’m spending more time thinking of ways to hop back on a plane than how to be happy where I am right now. Little annoyances are setting me right off the track, school is like a foreign language to me, I’m not even finding my usual enthusiasm to go to concerts. I don’t quite understand what my deal is right now.

Far, far away from home

I’ve been avoiding my blog. I haven’t written in a few days because I don’t know WHAT to write. I know what I want to write about, I’m just tired of putting myself through reminiscing about summer memories. I need to get back to my life, I need to press play- I feel like I’ve been on pause for 3 weeks.

I have one or two more posts lined up on my trip, because I want to finish writing about it the way I had originally planned. After that? I want to put my heart back into my current life. I’m tired of feeling like I’m on hold. I need to get back into the game, get back to homework and real life. I don’t really know how to do this yet, I’ve just come to the realization and decision that I have to. I know there’s ultimately a reason that I’m feeling this way, but I can’t really think of a solution besides paying off my debt and saving up my pennies for the next vacation.

I was reunited with my Greece girls last night for the first time since we arrived home, and it was the first time I felt really happy about being home. I think that’s when I realized there’s something not right for me, right now. My friend Kate said at one point “it feels like Greece was a dream. Did we even go?” and to a certain extent I felt the exact same way. We’ve been here for three weeks and so many things have been happening, but I’ve just been passively watching it all around me.

I’m excited to start being fulfilled with my life RIGHT NOW. Yes, I miss being in a completely different part of the world. I miss the food, the culture, the people, the night life, the landscapes… But if I stay stuck there any longer without actually being there, I’ll start forgetting why it is I love my home so much.

Tell me, have you ever felt like this at any point in your life? How did you move past it?

Dear 18 Year-Old Melissa…

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Dear 18 year-old Melissa,

Hey there it’s me, 22 year old you. How are you doing today? I won’t lie, I don’t remember in the least what you were up to at this time 4 years ago, but I hope that whatever it is you are happy in this moment. That’s all we ever really wanted, right?

The truth is, you’ve got an interesting four years ahead of you. I don’t want to spoil the surprises (and I don’t want to make you scared of what’s to come) but you’ve got some good and a lot of bad coming your way. You’re a tough cookie though & I know you’ll make it through just fine. Maybe I’m a stronger person for the things you do from here on out, maybe together we made some crappy decisions, but either way I can’t say I’d change a whole lot of those choices.

I do want to give you some tips though because I know that you’re a bit of a lost puppy these days. 18 was by no means a tough time for you, but you’re going to make some bad money choices and I’m still paying for them. School wasn’t in your priorities but going out and spending your money left, right and center was.

I know that school isn’t something you’re thinking a whole lot about right now. Or rather, it is, but you can’t be bothered to go through with it. That’s okay, because the things you go through in the next year or two will help you decide what you want to be when you’re older. I guess I partly wished we could have figured it out a whole lot sooner, but you’ll get there. I’m still getting there, to a certain degree.

You also need to save your money while you’re spending it. You need to set up that savings account that you keep putting off. It’s so simple! You’ll be so thankful you did it.

You’re going to learn a few important lessons on life and love too in the next few years and I can’t imagine ruining those for you, but I want you to do something for me. Spend a little more time making phone calls to friends and family. Don’t let relationships go sour and don’t put friendships on hold because you think you have better things to do with your life. These people aren’t going to be around forever and I really want you to remember that every day you wake up and put off telling your family just how much you love them.

Maybe that’s something I’m reminding myself too, as I write this. But it really is so important.

And Melissa? Don’t dwell on things. Life is too short and you’ve got so many great things headed your way. You’re going to change SO much in the next four years, I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. Don’t take things too seriously, have a good time, but also remember to pay attention when it matters. Take chances on yourself, believe in the person you are right now. Don’t be scared of the things you want to do. Tell mom today how much you love her. And both of you take a day this week to go see grandma. She needs it.

One more thing. Have one of those hot chocolates from Abbott for me. They’re so good, am I right?

Lots of love,

22-year-old Melissa ❤