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By Katherine Kiang
KaTsZoNe Newsletters > KaTsZoNe - Issue 120 - 2014: A Year in Review

1 Jan 2015

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you’ve all started 2015 the way you wanted.  Whether you celebrated with a crowd of strangers with music, champagne, fireworks or cuddled with your honey or kids, I hope it was fun!

I don’t do this often on KaTsZoNe, but this year, I thought I would look back at 2014 and pick out the Best and Worst.

Best Vacation in 2014

Larry and I have been on several trips in 2014, and, I also did several on my own – all road trips.  I travelled across Ontario more times than in all the years I have lived in Canada!  I probably know every road bump and possible traffic jams on Hwy 401 east and west of Toronto and Hwy 400 heading up to Barrie.  In January, 2014, Larry and I headed to Windsor and across to Detroit, Michigan to see the Detroit Auto Show.  During the summer, we went on road trips to Barrie, Wasaga Beach and Sauble Beach.  Along the way, we passed several cities and towns along Lake Huron (from Grand Bend to Sauble Beach) and along the southern part of Georgian Bay.

As for my own road trips, once I bought a 2014 Hyundai Elantra, I could not wait to take my own road trips across Ontario!  As I’ve mentioned, I became quite familiar with particularly the 401 and 400.  I went to three outlet malls: Tanger Outlet in Cookstown along the 400, the Toronto Premium Outlet in Halton Hills along the 401 (just east of Milton) and the Outlet Collection at Niagara on the QEW (at Niagara-on-the Lake).  I visited a lot of OLG Slots and Casinos – which was a tour in itself across Ontario and took me to Ajax, Brantford, Campbellville, Clinton, Dresden, Elora, Fraserville, Gananoque, Hamilton, Hanover, Innisfil, London, Port Perry, Sarnia, and Woodstock.  I did not make it to Sudbury and Ottawa as I had hoped – maybe in 2015!

So, which was my favourite road trip?  In spite of bad weather heading home, I think taking a road trip with a great friend is still the best, so, I would have to choose the trip to Detroit with Larry.  The Detroit Auto Show was the best I’ve ever seen out of all auto and motorcycle shows!  We stayed at a fabulous hotel called the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan. Coming home, the wintry weather was tough – oh, that’s an understatement.  I felt bad that Larry had to drive through the storm.  Our journey on Hwy 401 as well as the detour through Hamilton due to accidents took about 20 hours.  The drive between Windsor and Toronto should be closer to five hours.  Even though we went from sleeping in a beautiful hotel with the most comfortable sheets, pillows and bed to sleeping in the car in the Husky parking lot in London, it was a memorable road trip.  I have not had such a memorable road trip as that since my friend, Tracy, and I travelled across Canada from Toronto to BC!  Again, the best road trips are the ones with a great friend!  I would rather go on a road trip to Detroit in the winter again than go camping! LOL.  Oh man!

Best Food – New Discoveries in 2014

I’ve tried a number of new places to eat in 2014.  One of my favourite restaurants that’s new to me is J & S Asian Cuisine in Aurora (15440 Bayview Avenue, Unit 3).  Any restaurant that I simply want on my Contacts list is significant enough to mention!  I love their Dinners for 1 or 2 – definitely the best bargain!  Low sodium, no MSG and simply the best service!  I’ve met the nicest people who work at the restaurant!  One lady, in particular, speaks Mandarin, so it’s actually a good opportunity for me to speak in my mother tongue these days.  I would hate to forget how to speak it, now that my mom is gone.  I miss my mom’s cooking, so, I love J & S for providing me a close to home cooked experience, just perfect for my taste!

One of the most surprising places on my Best Food list is the restaurant in Mohawk Racetrack.  From fish and chips to spaghetti and garlic bread to a banquet burger, the cafeteria style restaurant has really delicious food!  I remember texting someone when I was eating a banquet burger!  I was not only overwhelmed by the size of the burger, it was the most delish burger I’ve ever had.  So, whenever I was on the 401 and heading eastward home, if I could, I would swing by the Mohawk Racetrack – just because of the food!  There is no need to play the slots – the food there was enough for me!

Best Shopping – Online and Offline in 2014

When I first tried online shopping (probably on Amazon.com), most of my friends were not doing it!  Fear has now subsided and online shopping has become the norm.  I’ve heard friends and co-workers say that online shopping has changed their lives.  Christmas shopping could easily be done with a click of the finger.  My “plastic” has had more exercise ever since I started exploring the online shops!  In those early days of online shopping, I decided that getting another credit card with a lower credit limit might be a protection in case of online fraud and I continue to follow that practice today, even though credit card companies offer fraud protection.  In all the years which I have shopped online, I’ve only had one disputed charge and was not required to pay.  Although Christmas 2014 has passed, I thought I would still mention my experience and the joy I feel when it comes to online shopping!

In 2014, my favourite or “best” shopping online is at The Shopping Channel (TSC)!  Watching the TSC at all hours of the day and night is thrilling, but, the convenience of ordering stuff online is even more thrilling!  I have purchased quite a variety of items from TSC in 2014 and almost all were IT Cosmetics!  I have discovered skin care products, lip gloss, brow pencils, which suit me and have protected me from the sun.  My final purchase of the year was, of course, more IT Cosmetics (“Love” lip gloss) and also, L’Occitane skin care products, which happens to be my other favourite skin care products.  There are several L’Occitane stores across the GTA but, I finally ran out of my products and did not have a chance to get to a store, so, I placed my order online and received it a couple days later, delivered by Canada Post right to my door – which I do not have to sign for!  The TSC sends me emails and flyers to let me know when one of my favourite products may be coming up as a Show Stopper which means great savings below regular prices.  IT Cosmetics has its own website but when the Canadian dollar is well below the US dollar, it’s nice to pay the same dollar amount in Canadian dollars on the TSC!

I don’t have just one favourite or “best” store in 2014 because it’s impossible for me to pick just one!  I do have to mention Longo’s for feeding me!  Their selection of healthy prepared foods is amazing – which has contributed to me going down 4 jean sizes!  Woohoo!!!  I think I could continue my “Longo’s tour” in 2015 since there are 26 stores in Ontario to choose from! 

I just became a Costco Gold Member in 2014 and am reaping the benefits with the money I save.  However, as some friends have mentioned, I can also end up spending more on stuff I may not otherwise purchased!  I think shopping just became more fun!

My friend, Abigail, told me about Nature’s Emporium which has a store in Vaughan (2535 Major Mackenzie Drive West, Maple) and one in Newmarket (16655 Yonge Street).  I am definitely in love with the place!  I use some “professional brands” which are offered only in stores which have an affiliation with a Naturopathic Doctor.  Their prices are quite good and I am amazed by the variety under one roof!  When I first started going to Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket, I kept texting Abigail whenever I saw something I was looking for or used.  She loves the store too!  They also serve delicious, nutritional prepared foods which you can eat in a small dining area or take out.  This is definitely a 2014 favourite for me!!!    

Worst of 2014

Although we may not have been personally effected by disease outbreaks (i.e. Ebola), wars, terrorism, major accidents and other tragedies in 2014, no doubt, we will continue to hear about them in the headlines in 2015.  Some of us may know people who will be effected.  We should not close our minds to the bad and the ugly.  There are things we may not understand them, but, we need to open our hearts in compassion to those effected by such tragedies.  I hope and pray that the worst of 2014 will not be repeated. 

I am happy to say that after asking several friends to contribute to KaTsZoNe in 2015 as guest writers, they’ve all agreed to do it!  Thanks so much to you all! 

I wish you all much happiness, love, good health, and prosperity in 2015!

Peace and blessings.


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