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2011 in Pictures & 2012 Goals

You know what’s really ironic? I used to dread, hate, and die a little inside every time we had to write out our “goals documents” at work. It’s not so much that I don’t like goals (because I do, I love them lists, they give me purpose in life)…it’s just the idea of writing them down in fancy business lingo in no less than 10(!) pages made me want to throw up. But now. Now…I sat down and made myself a fancy 2012 goals template after reading Nicole is Better the other day, and I’m embarrassingly proud of myself for the effort I put into making my 2012 goals. Yeah, irony. I told you so. Unemployment has done interesting things to my brain that I can’t even explain.

To make proper goals for 2012, I had to reflect on how I spent 2011…

The first Starbucks, Seattle

We began the year with a trip to Vancouver/Seattle to sort out our wedding details. But no, just before we got on that flight, I made a huge decision that I’m still thinking about (a little bit) today. I decided not to pursue potential career moves for a while, and made a terrifying phone call at 6pm on a cold and wet January evening to tell a very nice man that I did not want to go through with a job interview the next morning at 9. It was a leap of faith, and this nice man was very understanding about my decision. Soon, everything was set in motion…

Cross-Canada journey by train, in the Rockies

We left Toronto in a very romantic sort of way in March. With 12 boxes as our checked luggage, we got on a train late at night from Toronto’s Union Station and headed west. It was one of those moments I wished I had a head scarf and big sunglasses and a dainty vintage suitcase (scuffed leather, of course). Our friends sent us off all the way to the escalator to the platform, and then we sped off into the middle of nowhere, Canada.

Jaipur, India

From Vancouver, we got on a plane to Beijing, then Delhi, and then BAM! Cultural shock. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else in the world. India was everything I thought it was going to be, but in real life. Boy, does real life shock you a lot more than pictures. India took some getting used to, but now all I can think about are the places we missed and how my next trip will be so much better. I’m also going to have to go back there and take another cooking class…I need to perfect my naan-making skills!

Kenting, Taiwan

After India, boy was I glad to see Taiwan. Being in such an unfamiliar setting made me miss everything about home, and Taipei did just the trick by filling our bellies full of delicious Taiwanese street food and bubble teas. I got to hang out on the beach with my little sister, sans my mom telling us to stop tanning this time, which was really nice. We got burnt, needless to say. Good times.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

From Taipei, we took off on the second part of our journey into Southeast Asia. It was fun to see another side of Asia that I had always heard about, but had never been. Cambodia and Laos were my favourite countries along the way, although relaxing in Bali was super awesome too. One of the craziest experiences we had in Southeast Asia has to be when we ate at a highly-recommended local noodle joint in Hanoi. All I have to say is, I ate alongside baby cockroaches scuttling around on the table, and I survived. I’m proud of the way I held my shit together while eating, but hopefully eating with cockroaches will never have to happen to me again! (The noodles were yummy, and mostly sanitary, because they came out of a bubbling stock pot in front of me.)

We climbed the Great Wall!

I also get to say that I climbed the Great Wall of China in 2011! The bonus story from the photo above is that by traveling, carrying backpacks around everywhere, and getting food poisoning, I lost all the weight I gained from the past five years of being a cubicle monkey. By the time we got home to Vancouver in June, I had lost almost 15 pounds since the beginning of the year. Weight loss is the most underrated yet most wonderful by-product of backpacking.

Wedding prep

We got home and spent the next 12 days in a complete frenzy preparing for the wedding…


Then we got married! Smack in the middle of the year, we got married and got to see some of our close friends and family. Everything about the day was perfect and I feel so blessed every time I think about it :)

Lake Moraine, Alberta

We took a summer road trip with my mom to Banff, and did a lot of hiking in three days. Basically all we did was eat beef and hike around the lakes. It was beautiful to hang out in Alberta for a few days with my mom, and I’m so glad to have been there because now I can wholeheartedly recommend the Rockies to visitors to Canada!

Paris, City of Light

In late August we made our move across the Atlantic to Paris. I can still remember the slightly damp smell in our apartment after a summer thunderstorm in Paris, as we sat around wondering what we had signed up for exactly. Paris was shut down for the holidays when we arrived, but soon we found our rhythm along with the crowd of Parisians trickling back into the city in September.

Champagne at Taittinger

We’ve also had lots of friends visit us in Paris in 2011…and got to take some road trips with our friends. Our day trip to Champagne was ridiculously full of laughter and good company. Alex and I made a visit out to Versailles, that was pretty cool too.

Freshly baked croissants

…and all the while, I was baking my heart out, learning some very important things, like how to make croissants and pain au chocolat, and how to put butter in absolutely everything I make. Tough life. Truth be told, I have never stressed about school, but because I love baking so much, I think I have developed more white hairs from Le Cordon Bleu than I had from working or from university.


I took some time off and checked out London properly – it had only been 7 years since I had last set foot in England. Back then I was a broke university student who could only afford chips from the fish and chips menu. This time London was a bit more fun! In fact, I think we’re going to live there. Quite exciting, as the Queen might say.

Nuremberg Christmas Market

We finished off the year with a bang, starting from a tour of the German Christmas Markets in mid-December. It was so much fun to hang out in the freezing cold (with a drizzle of rain on the side) and drink piping hot mulled wine that we’re already planning next year’s trip. Seriously, how can a girl refuse German delicacies like sauerkraut and bratwursts?

Lastly, we went to Belgium (the 21st country I’ve been to. I’m keeping count) to eat mussels, frites (disappointingly thick), chocolate, and waffles. It was a good fun two days of doing nothing important but eating well, and then we rang in the new year at the Eiffel Tower with a bunch of tourists on New Year’s Eve. Not a bad end to a very different 2011, I’d say.

Into 2012, I have some big plans! (Again, unemployment really tampers with your brain and plants weird thoughts in there…)

I want to…

  1. Read 1 intelligent book per month
  2. Complete a half marathon between 2 hours and 2 hours 15 minutes
  3. Practice yoga a bit more regularly, especially after I get a job again
  4. Get a job that I like and suits the lifestyle I want
  5. Eat less meat. If I do buy meat, buy from good quality, environmentally responsible butchers, and consume in small quantities
  6. Try meditation…and if we click, do it once a week
  7. Revamp this blog more so the Recipes and Travel sections are up-to-date and fun to browse
  8. Sort through, edit, and do something with the photos from our travels in 2011
  9. Learn a few more tricks in Photoshop and Aperture, software programs I don’t use as much as I should!
  10. Get back into Daily Paris Photo blogging
  11. Take some time to see family and friends in North America
  12. (the craziest resolution of all that will take lots of planning and free time) Try doing something with the pastry skills I’ve learned and not be shy about selling the goodies!

What are your resolutions this year?

Happy 2012!

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • kasia Tuesday 10 January 2012, 16:38

    OMG Sandy, you have had the COOLEST year! I miss you! And if you plan on moving to London, am definitely going to visit! When are you guys going to head over there?

    By the way, I have just one resolution (though have many goals) and its to “make the healthy choice” when presented with options. Thought it was appropriate with my health focused goals.

  • Jenn Stark Tuesday 10 January 2012, 17:01

    Loved being a part of your amazing year!! Cheers to an even better 2012 :)

  • Anita Tuesday 10 January 2012, 17:23

    Sandy! It seems like you and I had very similar years – wedding, moving, all that good stuff!! You’re just much more eloquent that me! :) Hope life is treating you well!!

  • spends 2 Much Wednesday 11 January 2012, 00:19

    1. Learn to take photos that are half as great as Sandy’s.
    That is all :)

    Happy New Year!
    Lori xo

  • Jessica's Dinner Party Friday 20 January 2012, 16:16

    Such an exciting year! I can’t believe you did all of that in 12 months. Had so much fun at lunch today, we have to plan another little date before we both graduate!

  • Jessica's Dinner Party Friday 20 January 2012, 16:18

    PS: I actually really LOVE making New Year’s resolutions, even though I never end up keeping them. Reading and blogging is always at the top of the list.

  • Halina Saturday 21 January 2012, 14:44

    Fantastic! What an adventures year you’ve had! So much traveling… a wedding… Well it seems like a year of dreams coming true! I just added Daily Paris Photo to my tmblr following list. Can’t wait to see some more beautiful photos of Paris.

  • mango Sunday 22 January 2012, 13:45

    Thank you everybody! Good thing I don’t have “blog more often” on there, as I’m clearly failing in that category! Can’t wait to see what 2012 brings all of us :)

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