The Sugar Shack

16 Apr

Let me just start by saying — ya’ll know how to make a girl feel special.

Much to my enjoyment, it seems the “What I did…” posts are a thing that gets people talking (and visiting) as your comments and the steady flow of traffic to this ol’blog increased exponentially this past week.

The people have spoken and I love you all.

Not only am I posting tonight *gasp* twice in one week *gasp* BUT I’m unveiling something NEW and WEEKLY on Friday.

Let’s just say, mid-run tonight, I was hit with the perfect idea that has been on the tip of my tongue (or brain for that matter) since this blog’s first day. I ran it by my best online panel (they know who they are and they are awesome) and it got a major thumbs up with a side of f@ck yeah.

So come back on FRIDAY MORNING for that little je ne sais quoi.

In the meantime, in pure East Coast / Canadian fashion, I paid a visit to our local sugar woods on Sunday with my Dad and wanted to share a glimpse at this Canadian tradition. Complete with hunky woodsmen, fresh maple taffy on snow, and a bottle of maple syrup to last me the next ten years.

IMG_4212 the best kind of house

IMG_4107the first stop in the sugar woods

IMG_4109 sugar goodness

IMG_4131 IMG_4116 #science

IMG_4129 liquid canadian gold

IMG_4127you haven’t lived until you’ve had a  maple cream mini cone

IMG_4211 #woodsmen

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IMG_4199 success! maple taffy on a stick

My sincere apologies if you’re now craving sugar.

It happens.

See you on Friday!

x C x

Rambles of a 30 Year Old in Need of a Vacation

12 Apr

Is it May yet? Because Stanley Park Seawalls and fresh seafood at the Boathouse are calling to me.

A little louder than usual. 

It’s been a ridiculous month so far. I mean, let’s face it: it’s been a ridiculous year so far. Ridiculous could also be a super understatement. And while I have managed to squeeze in a blog post a week — someone pat me on the back, seriously — it’s been hard to stay creative and enjoy staring at the computer in the very few hours I find time to R&R.

I’m not complaining. I love my life and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m just realizing I really need to remind myself to slow down. Burnout is not sexy.

And this weekend — I’m starting to feel like I have maybe allowed myself the chance to unwind.

Case in point — while I had planned on doing either a book or movie review this weekend on the blog, my heart and mind just wanted to ramble.

So here I am rambling and I hope I still manage to capture your attention in doing so. Lifestyle (or “What I Did”) posts are my favourites ones to read on my favourite bloggers sites – hopefully you will get the same sort of enjoyment out of mine when they occasionally pop up. Let’s face it — they are WAY easier for me to write.

So on that note: here are  7 things I took the time to do since 5pm on Friday, that I really enjoy and that really allowed me to mellow the f@ck out.

1. Went for my first (and second) run outside. It was awesome.

10176080_10100363276673379_2148488361814384498_nAs some of you may remember, I kind of signed up to run a 5k in June.

I am not a runner. Nor have I ever been a runner.

So this whole experience has gone something like this: January spent thinking maybe I should jump on the treadmill, to not really doing a whole lot in February, kind of picking up the pace on the treadmill in March and then BOOM – transitioning from 3-4 minute intervals of running to somehow managing 10 minutes straight in April. I credit the peanut butter toast.

Because June is fast approaching, I’m upping my game and taking it to the pavement. It’s been challenging but with two great runs under my belt on this beautiful weekend — I’m feeling great about it all.

2. I enjoyed some very blue skies and wanderlust.

photo 2Seriously.

How often in this busy world do we actually stop to look up at those blue skies and dream?

I would argue not very often. I’m lucky that I live near the airport and I discovered in an attempt to run where no one would see me, a road I didn’t know existed that led me closer to the runways. It’s now my new favourite road because there’s nothing better than watching planes landing and taking off over head to inspire wanderlust.

3. I spent some time on Tumblr.

tumblr_n3wgsfhpzZ1qzcscuo1_1280And then spent an unhealthy amount of time looking at this picture of Aaron Paul holding a baby at Coachella thinking: “I’m not a kid person but I would have Aaron Paul’s babies in a heartbeat no questions asked.”

That’s totally normal on a Saturday morning, right?

4. I treated myself to a frap.

photo 1Brace yourself — you’re about to be mind blown.

Since deciding that I was not only going to Paris in September but also going to Vancouver in May — I have made a conscious effort to curb my Starbucks spending. In fact, I am averaging at the very most one visit a week.

Who knew THAT was even possible?

Of course, even a recovering Starbucks addict still needs a pick me up. A vanilla bean frap is the perfect Friday after work treat.

5. I made a delicious breakfast from scratch.

10155716_10100363653243729_5323909468950833454_nFor a girl who eats a greek yogurt for breakfast Monday through Friday — treating myself to my homemade Ranchos Hueveros on Saturday is always a must if I can squeeze it in!

If any of you are interested in the recipe — I could totally be convinced to do a blog post on it. It is AMAZING.

6. I curled up and finished a book.

photo 3If you’re a fan of the television show or the movies this first book in the new Veronica Mars series is a must.

And totally worth the sun burn I got from sitting on the patio in a tank top reading it. #ineverlearn

7. LASTLY, I curled up with my own book.

I don’t have a picture for this one but given that I’ve been actively ignoring editing my own book for the last six months — I’ve made a pact with myself to start to spend more time on it.

Armed with some new ideas for some fun revisions — I’m determined to finish editing it sometime this year. After all, it’s not like I finished writing it four years ago this May.

I’ll be over here hanging my head in shame.

So — what did YOU do to relax this weekend?

x C x

(A/N: If you love these types of post PLEASE let me know in the comments below, tweet me @crystalcrichard, or send a carrier pigeon. I actually love doing these kinds of posts sharing a glimpse into the life that is C — if you like reading them, I can certainly make them happen more often! x ) 

 

Paris is Always a Good Idea

5 Apr

Life is short. Book the trip to Paris.

parispassportWhy? Because Paris is always a good idea.

Tonight, I booked the trip of a lifetime. Paris for 7 days in September, with extended layovers in Iceland to visit the Blue Lagoon thermal spa! First time in Paris, first time in Europe.

Absolutely ready to fall in love.

Been to Paris? Have a must-see? Leave a comment, tweet me @crystalcrichard or shoot me an email! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

x C x

Divergent: A Fangirl Review

28 Mar

You asked for it. You’ve got it.

My Divergent Review: the fangirl edition. Spoilers abundant.

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For those of you looking for the quick and dirty: let me start by saying that Divergent lived up to every, single, expectation I had and then some. And sure, you may be thinking — but Crystal, you say that about every book to movie adaptation. Clearly you are easy to please.

Fair enough.  Talk to me when 50 Shades of Grey hits the screens.

But seriously — I’m not alone in this thought. Many fans of the book (including its biggest fans who I have on speed dial) are beyond thrilled with how it came to life. We’ve all seen it multiple times. We’re racking up the Cineplex points.

So in short? This movie rocked my book lover world.

But let’s look at it a little more closer, shall we?

1. The Chicago Setting.

The thing about Dystopian novels is that they require you to use your imagination a little. The setting for Divergent on-screen was as eerily perfect and close to how I’d envisioned it as can be. From the wall, to the ferris wheel (more on that later) to the creepy abandoned boat beyond the wall. Perfection.

Fangirl Fist Pump +20

2. Abnegation.

DIVERGENT

Simple as I’d expected. The locked mirrors? A nice touch. My only beef with abnegation was that Tris and her mom were way too flawless *cue Beyonce* to be believably selfless. Between the air brushed perfect skin, bronzed cheeks, subtle but effective eye liner and just right mascara — abnegation ladies looked more put together then I do after I put my makeup on.

Studio Fail -10 

3. Dauntless Have Arrived.

When the train pulls up to the test day and all the Dauntless kids jump and roll out of the train? Was there EVER a choice to be made? Because clearly these guys are WAY funner than the rest of the factions.

Fangirl Fist Pump +30

4. Rose Kate Winslet as Jeanine.

DIVERGENT

While it still blows my mind that Kate Winslet was in this movie (such a different project for her) I’m beyond happy that she was. Her portrayal of sneaky but ‘oh hey I’m here to help you Tris’ was spot on. And once you learn she was pregnant while filming, you can’t help but notice the number of times she’s hiding her belly behind those clipboards.

Fangirl High Five +10  

5. Tris Chooses Dauntless.

And her family are crushed. For the first time, my heart strings are feeling the tug.

Sob Count +5

6. Run Tris Run.

Perhaps one of my #1 fist pump, jump out of chair scenes is following the choosing ceremony when Tris runs to jump the train with Dauntless. Between how kick ass the scene is and the pairing with “Run Boy Run” — you can’t not grin during this scene and contemplate running off to join Dauntless yourself.

Fangirl First Pump +50

7. Meet Eric.

Or as my friends and Tumblr have noticed: Emo Macklemore.

Fangirl High Five +10

8. Meet FOUR.

Let’s face it, the minute Tris takes the leap, every woman who’s read the book is bracing herself for the revealing of Four, followed by the “Welcome to Dauntless” line. Believe me when I say, I’m pretty confident I stopped breathing for a solid two minutes. Why? Because Four is everything. And this is coming from the girl who had her doubts about Theo as Four. Doubts – long gone.

Fangirl Heart Fail +100

9. Perfection.

To save you all from reading this post for hours (which, if you would of anyway, seriously — you win super follower gold star) — let me just say this about ALL of Tris and Four’s interactions in this movie. That one word sums it up. Between their early dialogue before she wins him over, to their dialogue, mesmerizing stares, and hot chemistry after she wins him over — Shailene and Theo killed it.  So much that I won’t even bother to mention that I felt the age difference noticeable at the beginning, because they quickly resolved it with the smouldering chemistry.

Fangirl Heart Fail +100 

10. Tattoos.

Ok, for starters — the process of getting a tattoo in dystopian Chicago seems far more enjoyable than getting a tattoo in the real world. Second, Tris’ tattoo was perfect. I would also like my own now thanks.

Fangirl High Five +10

11. Throwing Knives.

One of the great things about having read a book before the movie, is that you know what to expect. While we all new that Tris would be fine amidst Four throwing knives at her head, the way this was shot still kept me on the edge of my seat.

Fangirl High Five +25

12. “Are You Human?”

Perhaps one of the most anticipated scenes for us die-hard fans of the book (other than the obvious Four and Tris first kiss) was the famous Ferris Wheel scene. A lover of Ferris Wheels, how could this scene not be one of my favourites? The scene in the movie was amazing and while it could have lasted longer, Four saving Tris when she slips, his “are you human?” and their adorable stolen looks were perfect.

Fangirl Heart Fail +200

13. Oh, Al.

Ok, so Al was kinda shady. But I still felt sorry for him. Kid did what he thought he had to do. And he realized quickly that he f@cked up. When Tris screams at him in the dining hall? I instantly choke up. When they discover his body at the bottom of the chasm? Swallow those feels folks.

Sob Count +25

14. The Kiss.

Let’s be real. This is what every fangirl waits for and stresses about. It needs to be perfect. And Divergent delivered. Expectations EXCEEDED. Oh and Tris? That thumb on lip thing? Now right up there with forehead kisses as my kryptonite.

Fangirl Heart Fail +200

15. The Best Line.

I will now use “I think you’ve seriously overestimated my character” in everything I do. I encourage you to do the same.

Fangirl First Pump +50

16. “I Killed Him.”

As a friend pointed out, there weren’t many opportunities in Divergent for secondary character development. I get it, it’s already a 2+ hour movie and they can’t give us a back story for every character. But we only got to see so many few stolen moments between Will and Christina and their blooming romance before Tris kills Will to save herself and her mom. As a result, the  sob effect is seriously downplayed and a few negative studio fail points.

Studio Fail -20

Sob Count +10

17. Shailene Gives Good Cry.

When it was announced that Shailene was going to play Tris, a lot of people were skeptical. I on the other hand, knew she had it. Why? The Descendants. One of my favourite movies, Shailene kills it in this movie, but even her tears in that movie don’t compare to the tears she brings when her mom dies in Divergent. SOBS.

Sob Count +100

18. I love you.

Ok — so it didn’t play out exactly like it did in the book but think about it. Could there really have been a better scene for this to happen during in the movie? I don’t think so. It showed that the only thing that would snap Four out of it was to hear Tris say ‘I love you.’ That coupled with additional thumb on lip. Again, HOT.

Fangirl Heart Fail +200

19. “I Know Who You Are.”

I loved the ending. I loved how they perfectly set it up for a sequel, while still ending it accordingly in the event a sequel never came to life. As if that would happen. $65 million opening weekend don’t lie. While I would have liked one more Tris and Four kiss — I will take happily starring off into the sun on a train.

Oh and him pulling him onto the train? Epic.

Fangil First Pump +100

And that folks concludes this Fangirl Edition Review of Divergent. In case you were keeping track:

+300 Fangirl First Pumps

+800 Fangirl Heart Fails

+140 Sob Count

+55 Fangirl High Fives 

-20 Studio Fails 

For a GRAND TOTAL of +1,275. Divergent wins.

Now get your Dauntless on and run to the theatre now. Oh and do yourself a favour and read this hilarious post on Vulture: “I Think Divergent is Secretly About Crossfit” . You can thank me later.

So what did YOU think about Divergent? Did it do the book justice? Better than the book? Mixed feelings?

Spill!

x C x

Welcome to Dauntless

22 Mar

There is no feeling more magical than watching one of your favourite books come to life on the big screen.

Seeing Divergent come to life? No exception.

The number of people who have messaged me, left FB comments or tweets letting me know how excited they are for my review makes me so happy. And I promise it’s coming and it’s going to be awesome. I have a page full of flaily notes in a Strand Moleskin to prove it.

But as with tradition, I need one more viewing before leaving all of my thoughts with you all. Said viewing is set for Tuesday night — I’ll have my review up Tuesday night / Wednesday night at the latest.

In the meantime, please accept this gif to hold you over.

 Oh, Four…

See you this week!

x C x

Always Keep a Book Tucked in Your Bag

16 Mar

In last week’s guide to staying sane amid crazy work life — I talked about how I always try to fit 30 minutes of reading in a day, no matter how busy. Whether it’s on the treadmill, in the bathtub, or over lunch — reading is good for the mind and body, and the benefits of disappearing to another world for 30 minutes are countless.

Despite things being  so particularly crazy lately — I’ve managed to fly through a number of really great books these past few weeks. And while I don’t have time to review them all, at the very least I had to share in case you were looking for something new to read.

photo 2

As always, you can follow me on GoodReads to see up-to-date statuses on my latest book!

1. Beautiful Stranger

The Beautiful Bastard series by Christina Lauren are one of my favourite series. I may not have read them all in order but I finally finished the three main books (and novellas — more on the last one below) this month and I’m pretty confident that chronic book hangover isn’t an accurate enough description of how it feels to be done this series.

As with all the books in the Beautiful Bastard series — this book’s leading man, British stud Max, is another life ruiner. His charming leading lady Sara is yet another perfect Beautiful Bastard woman to have major life and career envy over. And their crazy escapades? Unparalleled to the other books in the series.

If you’re looking for a new steamy read (or beach read for those of you traveling south this month) — any of the books from this series are a must.  Get all the details here.

2. Beautiful Bombshell

In continuing with the above book, after finishing Beautiful Stranger this month, I had to finish the last novella in the series — Beautiful Bombshell. Beautiful Bombshell takes all of the Beautiful Bastard men (Bennett, Max, and Will) to Las Vegas for Bennett’s bachelor party on Valentine’s Day weekend. Needless to say, the ladies Chloe and Sara have something else in mind.  The result — a wild, hilarious weekend in Sin City that made me miss living there so much, it was all I could do to not book a last minute trip.

If you’ve read Beautiful Bastard or Beautiful Stranger — this novella is a must.

3. If I Stay

From smut to YA young love, after my friends Kate and Jenn raved about If I Stay to me (especially after Kate scored a part as an extra in the film during its shoot in Vancouver) I knew I had to pick up a copy of this book. This book, without giving too much away was one of the most gut wrenching books I’ve read since The Fault in Our Stars. Seventeen year old Mia’s life is turned upside down when a family drive turns into tragedy. Faced with a choice to stay or leave — this story of family and young love will stay with you a long time.

Warning: read with tissues near.

4. Tangled

I picked Tangled up on a whim when I saw it in the hot new releases section and with its endorsement from Alice Clayton (author of Wallbanger and a former fic writer) I couldn’t leave it behind. Especially with the tagline: “When rich, handsome, and arrogant meets beautiful, brilliant, and ambitious, things are bound to get tangled.” Told entirely from the lead male Drew Evan’s POV — this book was so refreshing and hilarious. Plus, I’m a sucker for any  book that features a ball-busting career woman I can relate to, who finds an equally ambitious male to change everything she thought she knew. Also it’s another perfect beach read.

And these four were just over the past two weeks…

So what book is currently in my bag?

photo 1

I’m half-way through Still Alice — which is perhaps one of the most real and terrifying books I’ve read in a long time. Cannot wait to review on here once my lovely book club is finished discussing.

What are YOU reading this week?

x C x

A Single Girl’s Guide to Keeping Your Sanity

9 Mar

The past few weeks have been somewhat surreal. Business trips. Long hours. Sleepless nights. The lifestyle of a publicist is exhausting. And yet I’m loving every minute of it, no matter how many self-medicating jokes I’ve cracked.

Wolf of Wall Street references — I make them ALL the time. #hustle #bigdreams

But with all the crazy, comes the realization that staying sane has never been more important for my well-being and my workload. I mean, I’ve legitimately become one of the characters I read about on the pages of my current steamy read: overworked single woman that sleeps, works out, and scarfs whatever food she can into her mouth in between.  To the Bennett Ryans or Christian Greys of the world — you’re welcome to walk into my life any time.

So how do I keep from losing my mind? It’s simple. I keep my eye on the prize and I do make time for the things I need most. 

Here’s my advice on how YOU can do the same.

Embrace Your Social Network

No, I’m not talking about Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I’m talking about your REAL social network. The one you had before technology overtook the way we socialize. Or in my case, the friendships that rose from technology but deeply rooted themselves in the ranks of my friends I see every day.

Your best friends are your best friends for a reason: they are there for you in the highs and the lows. Despite the crazy, they will pick up that phone and talk you off a ledge if you need it. They will never make you feel like an inconvenience or a burden. As women, it’s in our nature to avoid saying “I may need you to tell me it’s going to all be OK” when we’re going through a rough time but it’s important that we do it.

My advice: Pick up the phone. Call a friend. You’ll be happy you did. And if they’re calling you in the middle of the night when you’re up working late before you’ve even declared the SOS? Especially keep those ones around. They’re kindred spirits.

Surround Yourself With Things That Make You Smile

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My whole life, I anticipated the moment I had my own desk. One that I could personalize, keep a mug on, and have picture frames of people I love and things that make me happy.  If you’re finding yourself spending more and more hours at your desk, it’s important that your desk is somewhere that will make you happy, regardless of whether the task you’re working on is.

I try to always have fresh flowers on my desk as they make a world of difference for me. I keep a framed photo of some of my best girls on our trip to NYC last year. I have postcards and souvenirs from amazing vacations and my favourite beauty essentials (Smith’s Rosebud Salve and Korres hand cream)  handy for when they’re needed. Lastly, I always keep my Tumblr open on my 2nd monitor. Whether it’s nautical inspired posts or my favourite set pics of Christian Grey — it’s always a pleasant thing to look at and give my eyes a break.

My advice:  A happy work space is a productive one. Do what it takes to make it that way.

Lose Yourself in a Good Book

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I’m often asked — how do you find time to read as many books as you do? While the answer has a lot to do with my ability to read at lightning speed, it all comes down to prioritizing and multi-tasking. I’m online ALL day and many times ALL night. Whether I’m working, looking at all the pretty on Tumblr, or blogging — my eyes need a break from the computer screen. I’m not a huge fan of television (seriously, someone explain to me why I pay for cable) so reading is my escape and I try to carve at least 30 minutes out of my day to indulge in my latest book.

My advice: When I’m extra pressed for time, I squeeze reading in on the treadmill or in the bathtub. My brain is appreciative and my heart and imagination gets its chance to soar beyond deadlines and to do lists.

Keep Gratification Within Reach

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All too often, we plan a vacation or a trip, a year or more out. Like right now for example, I’m planning a trip to Paris in September. This is my big 30th present to myself and I’m so excited. But September is a LONG way away. As busy professionals, reward and gratification is important. I’m a HUGE fan of instant gratification to reward myself for my hard work: a pedicure or a Kate Spade bag to celebrate a client’s success that I’ve directly contributed to.

But make sure to keep rewards within reach. Working your ass off for 351 days leading up to your two week vacation just isn’t enough for your body and mind to keep going.

My advice: Book a weekend away sooner rather than later. Get out of a town for one night. Splurge on a last minute seat sale to visit a friend or head to a spa. Last weekend, I booked a trip to Vancouver in May. I knew in my heart I needed a break before September and now the idea of spending the long weekend in one of my favourite cities with one of my dearest friends makes the long days and late nights a lot easier.

So. Next time life gets crazy and you can’t sleep at night, remember these four tips. I’m no expert on the topic but I do have a psych major and a ton of real life experience, so that makes me qualified, right?

And, when all else fails, well, there is a little thing I like to call tequila

x C x

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