29 December, 2013

Amanda's 2013 Year in Review

Amanda’s 2013 in review

2013 was a good year for me, the cherry on top of my 2012 sundae. This year gave me probably the most new experiences career-wise, and allowed me to explore a lot of the things that interest me, or go back to things that made me happy that maybe I hadn’t made time to do.

Big Moments

Some of my favourite people in the world got engaged (Gillian), married (Jay & Scott, Sean and Caitlyn), and celebrated their first wedding anniversary (Mindy & Ahmed) or their second (Ashley & Rob).

I moved out on my own for the second time, this time to my place in Toronto (15 min walk to work!) where it was helped furnished, moved-into, and sworn at multiple times while putting together Ikea furniture by my lovely family. My brother made me a beautiful kitchen island, my dad hauled up a huge media unit, and my mom spent 3 hours putting away and organizing my stuff when I first moved in.

Where my first dog, Tiffany, passed in 2012, my last one, Victoria, passed in February 2013. While this was very sad, I am so glad I had the opportunity to have them in my life, and they will be forever missed.

We also lost an amazing family this year. In March 2013 a house fire took from us two family friends, their two young boys, and family dog. This event was horrific and deeply upsetting, and really makes you aware of how much people mean to you. I hope to take from this the value of family and friends, and I encourage you all to do the same.

To veer away from the sad moments, a much happier moment was when I went to Chicago to visit some truly wonderful people (if you haven’t been it’s incredible), had lunch and beer a few times at the Beer Bistro (amazing tap house in Chicago), and witnessed the Super Moon in a beautiful rural park with a group of hilarious and fantastic Yankees. The Chicago Blackhawks also won the Stanley Cup while I was there so that was a reason to celebrate!

Not that it was a BIG moment, but I quit my part time job at Victoria’s Secret at the start of 2013, which freed up much more of my time. I had a great experience there for just over a year, helped open the store, met some great ladies, and broke my bank. I can never shop elsewhere. Thanks a lot!

I also met "Jeremy" from Pure Pwnage at Fan Expo. VERY amazing.

I also got caught in the Toronto Flood in June, where it looked like in the short walk home, I jumped in a pool.

Personal Achievements

While I did NOT meet my goal of finishing my novel, I DID finish something. I wrote an Alphabet book of Limericks, set in medieval times. The book consists of 26 dark and twisted limericks, which revolve around the iconic fictional Castle Rye. I’ve dubbed the book Bent Tales from Castle Rye, and is available at my website. Hopefully I will get some amazing talent to come in to illustrate the piece, so if you know anyone who is a digital illustrator let me know! I have a few people in mind as well!

To stay on the writing track, I self-published two collections of short ghost and fantasy stories on Amazon’s digital bookstore. While this may not be super notable to others, this was a very large deal for me. It is not often that I finish something I start when it comes to writing (my own self-doubt cripples me sometimes), so this was truly a feat and I wanted to share it.

I also started to play games again. Those who know me knew that I was slightly addicted to World of Warcraft for 2 years from 2007-2009. Before that I was a huge video game fan, and had grown up playing them and really enjoyed it. When I stopped WoW, I quit playing games mostly cold turkey. I would pick up Zelda (of course) or play some DS but nothing much else. I have an addictive personality so playing games was hard for me because I would losethe concept of time or priorities. The last two months I broke open my Xbox and really sunk back into games (triple A titles – my favourite!). I’m playing the classics from years ago, Dragon Age, (replaying) Skyrim, Fable series, Assassins Creed, Red Dead Redemption, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect, God of War, and Uncharted. Super excited to dig into what I was missing.


Work-wise, this year was incredible.

In January 2013 a new Director of Marketing was put in place at Infusion, and I had the absolute pleasure of working with her for just shy of a year. She was a fascinating and intelligent woman, who not only was amazing at her job, but was amazing at managing her people. Our team size was volatile for a while: we lost and added team members, and at one point there were only three of us in the department who carried a global company of over 500 people. She was inspirational and I will take her advice with me throughout my life.

My role changed not two, not three, but four times in 12 months – I went from being the Social Media & Marketing Coordinator, to the Marketing Communications Coordinator, to the Marketing and Web Coordinator, to soon-to-be Internal Communications /Specialist Manager (title pending).

I was given new experiences that a “normal” job would never be able to give. I was given management of our Internal SharePoint portal – with which I did not know how to work – and I learned that when it comes time to sink or swim, a switch turns on in your brain and pushes you to try. I took on new job tasks and responsibilities, and now have a great rapport with so many amazing people.

I was given multiple travelling experiences. There was one period of less than 14 days I was in 4 different cities all over North America. I flew to Houston (twice), Calgary, Vancouver (where I met video game designer Ryan and video game website designer Jose), Ottawa, Montreal, New York, and Boston (I had lunch and a beer with Indie developer Dan). I’ll be in New York again for a week in January and I am so excited and grateful for the opportunities presented to me.

People & Lessons

For the third year in a row I participated in my cross-country/city Secret Santa Gift Exchange. Three years ago I met two fantastic people on Twitter: one from Indiana and one from Oshawa. Each year we send each other themed gifts based on a funny or weird topic. This year was gifts that start with the first letter of your first name. Needless to say I received a lot of Angry Birds merchandise!

Like I mentioned, I had the opportunity to meet in person so many great people who I connected with on Twitter who are in the games industry (Ryan, Jose, Dan).

I also got to see Mindy, who came down and spent a fantastic weekend with Gillian, Laura, and myelf. We were all university roomates and with Mindy living in Quebec, it's hard to get together. We had an amazing time and it was like no time passed.

I met so many new people at work, and through social media, and really started to build out friendships and stay connected with friends. My bestie girl friends who maybe I don't see as much as I like but I love them like family (NinaHilaryAshley).

Saw Brad Pitt outside my window at the office. Was in prime view of his pony tail and everything! Also saw some other big stars at TIFF, all right outside my window!

It sounds so dumb but I feel like in our 20’s we go through so many changes: relationships, friends, work, family… so many huge milestones are in our 20’s that sometimes it’s easy to lose ourselves and we catch ourselves wondering “who am I?” It’s easy to lose track of who you are, what you stand for, or who you want to be but haven’t figure out how, it really takes an emotional toll. When we dream of our lives as “adults” (20’s, early 30’s) if those dreams haven’t happened it’s so easy to get anxious or insecure about our self worth.

The biggest thing I really LEARNED (I’ve heard it, but that’s different), is everyone is different so you truly cannot compare yourselves hoping for a valid life-measuring tape. People get married and have a family at different times, they get jobs they love at different times, they move out, or move on at different times, and sometimes, those times may be years before or after others. But it doesn’t mean anything except those decisions needed to be right for us at the right time. It’s such a hard lesson but such an important one.

I also learned that you can’t change others, to always trust your gut, and to take chances on things and people. The worst thing that will happen is it won’t work out, but the best thing is that it does. Regardless, you have those experiences forever and they shape you, no matter how small, and you learn from it.
Another important lesson and weight-lifting piece of advice I can give you is that bad or wrong decisions don’t make someone a bad person. Life is not black and white; it’s millions and billions of varied colour combinations. What is “right” for you may not be for others, and that is ok. It’s a learning experience. It’s an age old debate of course, but it’s a tidbit of advice that has helped me.

So say goodbye to 2013, goodbye to the mistakes, goodbye to the trials and tribulations, goodbye to the heartache and sadness, goodbye to the lost opportunities and disappointing realizations.

And say hello to new, bright opportunities, say hello to taking chances and risks, say hello to following your instincts and carving your own path, say hello to putting yourself out there, and say hello to thousands of incredible moments, dozens of new friends, and the one person who can make all of that happen.


Bring on 2014.

16 December, 2013

Sugar Cookies - recipe

These are a favourite. One of my go-to recipes.

Makes 5 dozen.


  •  1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  •  2 cups white sugar
  •  4 eggs
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  5 cups all-purpose flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. 
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla. 
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
  6. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

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