Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Reading is my first love. My family always jokes I needed glasses at the end of grade two after long hours of reading by the light of my nightlight after bedtime (totally happened, totally didn't cause my poor eyesight). I vividly remember the year I won the summer reading challenge at our public library, reading more books than any other child my age. (It's right up there with my proudest accomplishments.)

When I started my first (of many, many, many) years of post secondary education, reading for pleasure trailed off. I was spending so much time pouring over science textbooks the joy of reading was lost on me. In my 4th year of university I had an easier work load, more elective courses, and rediscovered reading for fun. Since medical school my reading life has again been hot and cold until recently.

This year I discovered the Good Reads app and the What Should I Read Next Podcast. Both have completely changed my year. I listen to the WSIRN podcast for book recommendations and then search the books that interest me on Good Reads. I have logged all of the books I have read this year on my Good Reads app and have surpassed my goal of 10 books by reading a total of 23 so far (and it's only September)! I also love following what my friends are reading!

If you're interested or looking for book suggestions, this is what I've read in 2016 (starting with most recently read and including my rating from 1 to 5 stars):

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ****
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder ****
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey ****
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum ***
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson *****
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (Neapolitan Novels #3) by Elena Ferrante ****
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling ****
The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S. Lewis **
The Story of a New Name (Neapolitan Novels #2) by Elena Ferrante *****
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach ***
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett ***
The Magicians Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis ****
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan ***
Little Bee by Chris Cleave ****
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith ****
My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels #1) by Elena Ferrante ***
Starting from Happy by Patricia Marx *
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling *****
Look at Me by Jennifer Egan ***
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi ****
Exodus by Leon Uris ***
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis *****
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K Rowling *****

Monday, 19 September 2016


Hey guys!

We arrived home from Ireland last night and I wanted to write my first post before I forget our new Gaelic words!

This was our first experience staying in an Airbnb and it definitely set the bar high. The price was right and although staying in a room in someone else's home might not be for everyone, we would highly recommend the experience! Our host, Jacqueline, was so welcoming and helpful. She drove us to the bus station, spent an entire afternoon driving us around the mountains, and taught us a lot about Ireland. (She also warned us that our hostel in Dublin was going to be quite noisy...more on that later.)

This trip was a bit of a do-over because our trip to California this spring was full of bickering and seagull poop. I wanted something relaxing this time so we stayed in a medieval village (with castle and all) and spent our time being fairly low-key (living like locals, visiting the pubs, and walking).

Here's a taste of our little Irish village.

The entrance to the town. One of my new favourite expressions is "have in or take away" (instead of dine in or take out). You can see "take away" written on this Ma Bakers sign.

Other new expressions include:

Slainte - Gaelic for "cheers"
What's the craic - what's the fun/what's the gossip
Have a wee - as in, "Do you want to try that new restaurant? Why don't we have a wee?"
Cead mile failte - Gaelic for "a hundred thousand welcomes" (this was already very familiar to me because it is on a sign as you enter the campus of my alma mater)
Grand - great, wonderful, good

Our walk up the mountain led us through "Leprechaun Habitat" - ha! Of course, we found the pot of gold.

In front of King John's Castle, built in the 1200s. Everything about this town sparked my imagination because of the medieval ruins - so fun!

These are ruins of a Friary, built in the 1400s. Our Airbnb was directly on the other side of the Friary and our bedroom window faced the ruins. No hotel will ever top that!

Our host told us CS Lewis gazed over at this area of Ireland and the location inspired Narnia. I didn't want to look into these details too closely because I am very eager to just accept it. I was in Narnia. The end.

You know me and of course I had to throw in a food photo. This was from a Tea Room that was very kitschy and yet quite a novelty and very adorable. Hubby had an "Irish breakfast" which included... black pudding. (You may have heard this called blood sausage or blood pudding.) I tried a little taste of it suspecting what it was while he had no idea.

More later on a couple of little day trips we took.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


If you haven't seen me in person lately I am flourishing in my new hometown. All kidding aside, we are so happy to finally be living in a city where we have many friends and social events are easy to find! Last week my cousin, Dee Wilkie, had the launch party for her new website at Maybee Brewery and I was so excited to be able to support her. That's why we moved here - so we can see the people we love!

Dee is a surface designer which means she spends her time dying fabrics and creating patterns. She isn't a seamstress or a fashion designer.

She is currently selling products including silk scarves and pillows. She calls them Unity Pillows and you can find them here. Dee dyed the fabric and the sewing was done by a local Syrian refugee. Each pillow is screenprinted with a word like "hope" in English and Arabic translations. Very cool.

The new website is absolutely amazing. This is just before Dee debuted a stunning video available for viewing on her new website here. The video was created by Sarah Kierstead and I highly recommend you click the link! It is beautiful.

It was mentioned multiple times over the course of the evening that Dee is a strong collaborator with local business. I love this about her. She created this event to promote her new website but included a local brewery, a local magician who used her silks in his tricks, and a local wood fired pizza place (Milda's Pizza). She (and I) believe in shopping local and supporting local artists and she is practicing what she preaches! Get it, girl!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

2016 SO FAR

I'm such an absentee blogger.

To ease back into it I thought I would give you a brief summary of my year so far!

What I'm reading:
The Neapolitan Novels
The Chronicles of Narnia (for the first time since I was a child)

Where I've been:
California (San Francisco, Carmel, Monterey, Yosemite National Park)
Prince Edward Island

What I'm listening to:
The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast
Candi Staton (a really good 1960s/1970s find - some gospel, some disco)
Japanese Breakfast (a band I discovered from a podcast)

What I'm watching:
The Olympics (specifically diving and gymnastics)
Bloodline on Netflix
The Gilmore Girls (this could fall under the 'listening' category because mostly I leave it on as background noise)

What I'm doing:
Working (a lot)
Playing board games (especially Pandemic Legacy and Tikal)
Pilates (as of tonight)
Going to Dee Wilkie's launch party on Thursday

What I'm thinking about:
Setting up my office
Completing my CME credits this year
How skimpy all the Olympics gear is (male and female)
To vacation or not to vacation...always the question

I'm also going to make a big effort to keep the blog running! Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 12 May 2016


My friends know I love fashion (although my day to day wardrobe doesn't necessarily scream fashion forward my instagram feed is full of haute couture) so it was such a pleasant surprise the Oscar de la Renta exhibit was in San Francisco! It was at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park and the park itself was beautiful. We went on our last day and I wish we had more time to explore the grounds (especially the Japanese Tea Garden).

On our vacations we almost always compromise by doing something the other person enjoys and then switching. For instance, in New York we went to a baseball game and then to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). In San Francisco the baseball game was followed by the Oscar de la Renta exhibit. Fair's fair. Basically his favourite thing is baseball. My favourite thing is art.

I was so excited and the dresses were stunning. In particular I loved seeing older designs (from the 1960s) and the more recent Met Gala dresses - in particular the black and white design Sarah Jessica Parker wore a few years ago. I took about a thousand photos as inspiration for my cousin, the surface designer - see her blog here. She creates hand painted silk designs so of course I sent her photos of the same medium from the exhibit. Enjoy a very select few of my photos below!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


We began and ended our vacation in San Francisco. Although I liked the city as a whole very much we were off to a rocky start from the beginning. Driving in SF was a complete nightmare and totally convinced me road trips are not for us. (We picked up a rental car at the airport because of our plans to go to Yosemite National Park - otherwise we would never have driven.)

And of course after 8 months with zero offers on our house we were in SF all of 2 hours when we received an offer. This couple had no qualms about letting us run back and forth to our hotel room on vacation to make calls and send paperwork when they had no intention of actually purchasing our home. YEAH. (We find out later they have done this before. Multiple times.) That will put a damper on your vacation.

Regardless we managed to enjoy San Francisco but I didn't leave my heart there...this time. Maybe we'll visit again. If so, we will take a cab and we will not answer real estate calls.

I'm quite proud of the photo above. It is quite difficult to get a photo like this without tourists roaming around!

The two photos above are of "Crooked Street" on Lombard Street. It has 8 (9? 10?) hairpin curves. Search it online for a good pic! When we returned to SF for the last few days of our vacation we stayed at a hotel on Lombard, but further up (not on the crooked part)! We saw multiple cars drive down this little street which was surprising to me and I can't help wonder if they were tourists. Also I still can't get over how STEEP the streets are in SF!! I have a recurring nightmare about driving up a steep road and the car I'm in flipping over backwards so I did not enjoy the city driving! Haha.

On the trolley! Or as it's actually called, the cable car. They have wooden breaks! And you can actually hang off the side. We weren't able to do that because they were usually packed full of people and we could only find room in the back.

We spent quite a lot of time down on the piers (Pier 39 has many sealions lounging about)! Above is the view from the pier - do you recognize Alkatraz? I was surprised it didn't feel very far away from the docks! We had so many things we wanted to see and do in the city we did not take a tour. You could easily spend a week here and fill your days with activities. 

At the top of Lombard Street again.

It is no secret I am not a sports lover. However, I can always be easily convinced to see a professional sporting event and always enjoy myself. In super nerdy news we got certificates at AT&T stadium that said it was our first time there. And in sporty news we saw their ace pitch - Madison Bumgarner. That's apparently a big deal according to my dad and husband. Also - that head to toe Blue Jays outfit was quite a talking point.

This is the size of one of the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge! On our way back from Yosemite we thought we would be crossing the Golden Gate but GPS took us to the Bay Bridge (which was actually larger and more impressive but not orange).

Thanks for the memories, San Francisco!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016


I don't even know where to begin with Yosemite National park.

Yosemite was recommended to us by my friend H and since I strangely love a good hike (although I strongly dislike most other exercise). I was totally on board. I expected to be wowed by the redwoods (giant sequoias) and was surprised to find myself as awed by the mountains as I was by the Alps in Austria and Switzerland! The rock faces were complete cliffs and intermittently a waterfall would spring out of nowhere and plummet off the side!! It was something to see and photos can't do it justice. We spent two nights at Yosemite Village in a tent cabin with a heater and our greatest vacation achievement was the 5 hour hike to Nevada Falls. (Predicted to be 5 to 6 hours and completed by Team R in 4 hours and 45 minutes, thank you very much.)

Above: This hike was on our first afternoon in Yosemite. It was called Mirror Lake and was an easy but pretty 1-2 hour hike. Finished off with pizza in the cafeteria. Strange camping in the US of A, but perfect for people without room in their suitcase for the tent and Coleman stove.

Those hiking boots are two years old and they have lived an adventurous life. They've been to Switzerland and California. Lucky boots.

Above: Vernal Falls. This was the first part of our hike to Nevada Falls. Once at the falls you can climb up many (many) stairs to get to the top. I am a major scaredy cat and very frightened of heights so I was reluctant to do any slippery, wet, death stairs but I'm so glad I changed my mind. Even so we did about 3/4 of the stairs maybe and then turned around. This was mostly because I was worried I would get to the top and be too terrified to turn around (can you say climbed back down the high dive ladder, anyone?). We didn't realize once at the top the path continues in a loop to Nevada Falls, which was our final destination. Oops.

At the top of Nevada Falls. Behind us and to the left is the falls which was a complete straight drop off the edge of the cliff! One of the most stunning and terrifying views ever. God is so amazing! Check out my instagram for a couple of other photos (and video) of Nevada Falls.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


We bounced around a little in California so my posts are going to be slightly out of order.

On day two of vacation we drove to Monterey and spent part of the day in Carmel - a little town where Clint Eastwood used to be mayor. It poured rain until late afternoon so we had a chance to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean before dinner. This day was a bit of a shemozzle with the weather and also making counter offers on our house (it has been for sale for 8 months and of course our only offer came about 2 hours after we landed in California). Don't get too excited for us - in the end those people were just wasting our precious vacation time and weren't interested in our house at all.

Spur of the moment we decided to have dinner at Pebble Beach and as you can see from my first post, I am very glad we did! Our meal was delicious and it was kind of neat to overlook the 18th hole of the golf course while we ate.

On the beach in Monterey before dinner. Our little manny would have appreciated the beach. Also, brand new hair cut!!

Thursday, 28 April 2016


Last week after my licensing exam we packed it up and left for California. It wasn't a perfect trip for many reasons (it was planned last minute after canceling a trip to Brussels, driving in San Francisco was a Russell Family Nightmare, and the weather was underwhelming). But don't get me wrong, I know how fortunate we are to be able to go on any trip at all, rain or shine, bickering or not, and we saw some amazing sights!

One of the best things about the trip was hands down the food we ate so I figured I would share it in one glorious, mouth-watering post.

Above: freshly squeezed lemonade (with basil leaf) and an appetizer of abalone (a mollusc - think clam or mussel but not quite) with parsnip puree, peas, asparagus, and potato hash.
Location: Carmel
Restaurant: Basil

Above: mussels diablo, scallops with shiitake mushroom and lobster risotto, and ling cod.
Location: Pebble Beach
Restaurant: Stillwater

Above: chocolate float from Ghirardelli Square. Interesting story about this one - about two and a half minutes after this was taken, a seagull pooped on hubby's head (in the vicinity of said chocolate float) and we had to call it a loss. The three sips I had were delicious. Didn't need the calories anyway.
Location: San Francisco - Ghirardelli Square

Above: for this meal I decided I would only eat round things. Top is arancini (crispy balls of risotto) and bottom is meatballs. Hubs got chicken parmigiana and I didn't get a clear photo. Excuse the phone quality.
Location: San Francisco - North Beach
Restaurant: Original Joe's

Above: this was the biggest (and only) "activity" we had planned during our trip - a meal at Restaurant Gary Danko. Think of it as an event like seeing a Broadway play. All the memories. A thousand times the flavour. We had one more course I forgot to photograph (him - oysters and caviar, me - lobster risotto). First photo is a poached egg with bacon brioche, parmigiano-reggiano and crispy sweetbreads. It is extremely necessary to give the details because this was the best thing I HAVE EVER TASTED. Second photo is a dungeness crab salad. Third photo is seafood coconut curry. Fourth is a stuffed, roast quail. Fifth and sixth are an assortment of creme brulees (olive oil - seriously DELISH, vanilla, and grand marnier) and grand marnier souffle with creamsicle ice cream. Nothing in this lifetime is ever going to top this meal.
Location: San Francisco - Fisherman's Wharf
Restaurant: Restaurant Gary Danko

In the middle of all that we were at a national park and ate pizza and salad, and we had Mexican food twice in there as well. The Russells ate well on vacation.

Stay tuned for more touristy pics later!