Thursday, December 31, 2015

What a year - 2015!!

Well, it's that time of year again where I sit and reflect on what has transpired over this past year and then look forward to this coming year. I always like this exercise in introspection, it always makes me feel like I have cleared the cobwebs that may have grown over the past year and it allows me to start fresh.

2015
What a great year we had!

January I learned to snowboard, and while it was painful and exhausting, it was (and is) so much fun! The bruises were worth it and while I am not sure if I will snowboard forever, I know that I will always be able to strap a board to my feet and fly down the hill!

February we took a trip to White Fish, Montana with some childhood friends of J's - it was incredible to hole up in a mountain chalet and eat great food, play games, and visit with a great group of people. I hit the hill one of the days, snowboarding with the crew, and snowshoe'd and adventured the other days. It was a great trip and while the snow wasn't great, it was so much fun to get to know new friends and go on great sight seeing adventures.

March, our room mate finally moved out and we were able to start the renos. We ripped out the carpet and installed laminate and we painted all the walls. It was tiring but rewarding work that I could not have done myself. Thanks to J for being so willing to step up to the table saw and help me out.

April was not super busy, but did see me start my book club and the beginnings of baseball, which I always love. It was my first year managing the team and we started off with 2 practices to make sure we had the numbers, we did! We spent Easter with my family, sharing incredible meals and going to mass, it was peaceful and restful.

May was incredible. We finally started to build our furniture, which was a great challenge and also a great reward! We took a great trip to Kelowna that was one of the best holidays I have ever taken. Who knew that travelling locally could be so much fun. It was a great adventure and so rewarding. I really hope we make this an annual trip because it was sincerely one of the best weekend holidays ever! Also in May, I started working at a restaurant in hopes of obtaining my Sommelier ticket!

June saw us finish our furniture, including up-cycling my desk from when I was 9 years old that I received from my parents and also a hutch/china cabinet that my mom and dad had since they were married in '77. The hutch remained as is, other than 9 coats of paint and some stylings, but the desk was transformed into a great wine desk where I can hang my glasses and store all my wine nick-nacks.

In July celebrated J's birthday with style, and had about 20 people over to celebrate until the wee hours of the morning. We also finished things like base boards and touch-ups in the house, I sewed curtains and we spent a lot of our time playing ball or working. We managed to go camping one of the weekends and headed to Lethbridge with friends of ours, where we went to an incredible Air Show. While the camping was nothing but windy, it was a great weekend and the weather for the Air Show was perfect

My annual Family reunion was in August and we attended with my good friend Larissa and her boyfriend, Alex. It was nice to see family and the farm, it had been too long. Cape Breton and PEI was the big highlight of August, however. We spent 8 days in Cape Breton with J's family, where we partied until the early hours of the morning, we spent lazy days by the ocean swimming and we visited with all the family - sometimes it felt like the whole island was visiting with us! It was incredible. We scooted off to PEI for one night (2 days) where we saw a high school friend of mine and her family and also Anne of Green Gables and other PEI delights. I was enamored with Charlottetown and I know that one day we will return! We had a wonderful trip to the coast! :)

September saw us camping a number of times with some friends and heading up to Northern Alberta for a family wedding. I would have preferred to camp on the weekend of the wedding, honestly, but what can you do! :) In Sept. Larissa left Canada for good, and it was a very sad day. BUT, we will see each other soon, so I find comfort in that. Our reno's continued with getting new Carpet in the bedrooms in September which brought us closer to our goal of re-doing the whole house!!

October we spent a lot of time working and finishing some of the niggling things that we needed to do. We finished the baseboards in the bedrooms and re-hung curtains, painted the bathroom and put our things away, where we wanted them.

Jasper was the highlight of November by far! We took some vacation days and spent 3 days, 2 nights in Jasper. We had a great room in a little motel and had a wonderful, relaxing time. We hiked the Valley of 5 lakes and it has got to be my favourite hike that I have ever been on. Of course I got us lost and we ended up doing about 15kms instead of the 5kms planned, but we had a wonderful hike, and it was a stunning day! The food we ate was incredible and the hot tub at the end of the day sealed the deal, Jasper - to me - is bliss and it remains one of my favourite places in the world. While the drive to Jasper was snowy and harrowing, the ride back home was incredible and boasts some of the most incredible panoramas of the Rockies! Also in November, I sat my Level 2 wine course - I think I did well but I won't know until mid Jan how I did! :) We also finished our renos in November. F.I.N.I.S.H.E.D!!!! We re-did the flooring in the bathroom (and front closet)  from this terrible lino to a beautiful tile and re-did the tile on the fireplace. Once again I couldn't have done this without J's help, he is just so handy and I would be remiss to not mention the fact that he has a collection of tools we have used in so many ways for all our projects!! I am just so thankful!

The year was wrapped up nicely with December. We celebrated my birthday early with a party and wine tasting with a bunch of friends and it was delightful and so wonderful to finish off the year surrounded by friends.  I managed to squirrel away enough vacation days to take the last 2 weeks off of the month, which ended up being about 18 days - such a great rest! A few days before my birthday, J surprised me with breakfast and STAR WARS!! It was awesome and such a wonderful day, I am so spoiled!! Christmas was wonderful and we were spoiled by Santa and each other... we are just so lucky! We ate too much, drank too much and spent too much - next year we promise to hold back some, but who knows if that is going to happen! Our final days of the year were spent with J's brother and his family which is always so relaxing and fun. Finally, we hit the slopes, snowboarding at Lake Louise which is STUNNING at the top of the mountain - What a way to finish a wonderful year.

Here's hoping that 2016 will be just as good, if not better than 2015 - we sure set the bar high.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This crazy buzy, but wonderful fall

I'm procrastinating again... seems that's what it feels like when I blog anyway. But today, in this moment I wanted to write a letter to myself, to Justin, and to those around me in this moment of vision! :)

I do a lot of random things, A LOT. I crochet, take a wine class, volunteer, work 2 jobs, spend time hiking, biking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, camping, A LOT... and my life is always busy. Sometimes it seems like a drag to always have stuff you HAVE to do. For instance, at this moment... in my moment of procrastination I have the following going on this week.

I have just gotten off an 8 hour day work at home. I decided that I shouldn't drive my car to work today due to poor work conditions - I have yet to get my winters on (gah, I know, so bad) and I can't take my smartie on a road that's through a field - like my road to work does. SO... I am at home, manage to get a bunch of little nagging things done at work (Yes!) and I have settled down to do some of my Sommolier homework I have been neglecting for weeks. I have my exam on Sunday and I want to get all the chapters in at least once and most twice. The practice exams end on Friday and I want to get one in if I can. I have Justin's brother coming tonight and we need to tidy (thanks J for volunteering and also for supper).

Our house at this moment - the bathroom still needs tile - we managed to get a weekend to do some but we used it to put all the baseboards on. Done, thank God. So, our closet and bathroom have no lino - in prep. In the living room, all my stuff for the Seniors Santa gift program is  thrown all over the floor. I have to get all the presents wrapped and boxed for Saturday when I have to drop them off. Also in the living room my night stand that I have to finish painting. In the spare room, the closet doors from the front closet.

Justin's mom will be here on Monday for 2 weeks so we are aiming on having our projects wrapped by Sunday night.

And I know we can do this all. We just do - and then the house feels great and looks great and we are exhausted and pleased. And it feels worth it... but I know how sucky it is. I am in it.

BUT - I am taking this moment, where I have this beautiful classical compilation going - beautiful violins and cellos playing as I sit, sipping a fresh, crisp Pinot Noir and study the region it comes from. Because I did that to myself and I'm enjoying this moment.

I have such a beautiful, amazingly rich, incredible life.

I have a house that is beautiful and almost exactly where I want it to be. I have an amazing partner that jumps along in my crazy-mobile as I plan the shit out of our lives. (Which, I know he hates most times.) I am planning on spending my life working for a common goal with an incredibly intelligent, kind, gifted, funny, charming man. And I get a family with him, how ever that comes. I live in a country that allows me to work, to earn a living doing something I have a passion for. A company that allows me to work from home when I need to, and flies my brother-in-law and mother-in-law to see us. A family that we can make a priority to see, because they are awesome and kind and fun to be with. A beautiful life to be able to give back to those seniors who were forgotten (because I've seen that and it makes me so very sad to see). A world worth giving back to those who brought us another mind and life. I am feeling so very grateful! I just had to express that today... cause the rest of this week is going to be hard. And I know that. And we will get through it. :) Life is good today. And every day.

P.S. Thank you - for all you help me do. I appreciate you.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kelowna - Day 2

What a great sleep we had - biking over 50KM will do that, particularly when you mix in the fresh mountain air and all the beverages that we drank!

With a solid night sleep, we woke early and made camp-fire breakfast which is my favourite. We packed the car and were off to find a place to shower... 2 nights camping and 50K biking will make you feel like you need a long hot shower. Good thing there are plenty to go around in Kelowna and we found one at the Husky in town.

Camelot - you could touch the vines
We had an incredible shower and got ready to tackle the day, we grabbed some coffee and went to see if we could find some of the places we went to the day before. We had purchased wine from one of the vineyards and planned on purchasing some from another, so we sat and waited... but in the waiting we figured out that if we drove 2.5 kms we would see another vineyard and I am so glad we did. Camelot was our 3rd vineyard for the weekend and it was my favourite. We drove through the opened gates and saw the beautiful vines that make such sweet nectar on either side of our car. It was so intimate and quiet... and then I came around the corner and they had a stone with a sword in it... it was so delightful. The chatty, friendly gentlemen they have serving wine was knowledgeable and entertaining and clearly is a big fan of their wine. We ended up purchasing more wine there and left happily, as we petted Molly their 'guard' dog as we left.

We found the other 2 vineyards, made our purchases and headed out of town. We found a road side dinner to eat at that was less then spectacular and then made our way to the Enchanted Forrest to break up the drive. If you have ever been on the TransCanada Highway in British Columbia, you have seen the entrance to this magical place. While I had thought I had never been, conversations with my parents revealed that I had indeed been to this forest when I was a little lass... so little I don't remember going. It seemed that around every corner was a new delight, and filled my heart with so much happiness. There were characters from every nursery rhyme I have ever known, ducks and swans and gnomes, all made out of cement and painted with love. While in reality, it was hokey, it was still delightful to climb around and inside the little houses and characters. I loved it - every cheesy, delightful moment.
We left with smiles on our faces, the beautiful sun was shining, and our journey continued. We drove the winding mountain roads, windows down, radio up, and smiles on our faces. We needed this weekend to let go of the stress of life, and to reconnect with ourselves and each other. It was a perfect, beautiful weekend. We will be back to Kelowna... in fact, we might just make it a yearly retreat! :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kelowna - Day 1

This past weekend, Justin and I took a road trip to Kelowna. It was delightful, restful, amazing and well needed. We hit the road just after work on Friday.

The Black Bear
It had been rainy and dreary in Calgary but as soon as we hit Canmore, and began our drive through the mountains, the windows rolled down, the breeze flowed through our... er... my hair, the smell of beautiful wild roses in full bloom filled the car. 

It was a delightful. We saw many animals on our journey, one being a Grizzly Bear and another being a black bear that was munching on food just off the road. I could see the flies on his nose, we were so close. 

We found a camping spot that was back-woodsy and available and free. It was a magical looking panorama of mountains and a valley. We climbed up and up and up to a spot that had a bubbling waterfall behind us and the panorama in front of us. I must admit that I was a little weary about being attacked my a mountain lion or a bear, but we were too loud and our fire was just spooky enough to keep them away. We managed to make a small little snack and had a bit of a fire, a beer and relaxed listening to the bubbling of the waterfall. After working all day and then travelling about 5 hours, we hit the sack to get a good start in the morning. 

We got up and got breakfast made, ate and packed up the subie. We had vineyards to see! We made it to Kelowna before noon, found a new campsite and hopped on our bikes to begin the tour. It was 20+ that day and beautiful blue skies allowed the sun to shine on us. It was a perfect day!

After biking for 45 minutes, we arrived at our first vineyard, Sperling. We walked into the tasting room and were greeted by their sales agent and she gave us a tour of all their delicious wines. We found some really delicious wines, their White Market Wine being my personal favourite. We were then bombarded as a wine tour arrived and we skulked out of their tasting room and into their market place. We ordered some sandwiches and spudnuts (or homemade donuts, that were incredible) and sat in the shade in the Sperling vineyard yard and ate our lunch. It was restful, delightful and a perfect afternoon. Alas, we had to continue on and that we did.

Justin at the top of one of the hills. The views were stunning.
We biked for another 45 minutes and managed to find the Tree Brewery - a refreshing stop on our tour to be sure. After getting the sales pitch, we selected a small sample of each beer (there were 8), That is after we drank a delicious pink grapefruit bevy that was designed for bikers - it was super refreshing. We sampled all 8 beers and found out that pineapple beer is gross and amber beer is awesome! Cooled off and refreshed, we hit the bike trails again in hopes of finding another great vineyard at the end of the journey.

The View Vineyard
About 1 hour later, we rolled up to "The View" vineyard, which was at the top of a very steep hill. Tired and thirsty, we thankfully went inside the cool tasting room and shared the sales pitch with another couple. The wine was very delicious and fresh; their pinot noir was a delight. We didn't spend much time at this place, as there wasn't much to see and the pitch was not very long. The pourer was only allowed to pour us 4 glasses each, so once that was done, we figured we'd make our way back to our camp site.

After about an hour and a half, we managed to find our way back to our site. Immediately, we soaked our legs in the cool mountain stream beside our camp site... nothing like an improv ice bath to make your legs feel better! We settled in for the night, enjoying the nice warm evening and the campfire, a beer or two, and some of the best s'mores I've ever made. Camping is the best!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Making changes

Well, April is almost over and for me, it is time for a little reflection. How have I been doing with my New Years resolutions? How am I feeling? What am I up to?

I have really been doing well on my resolutions this year! Since they are 10 of them, maybe not all of them have been given top priority, but over all... I think I've been doing well.

I have been 'reading' a book each month - in fact I have been getting through more than 1 book a month. The way that I have been able to do this is by listening to books on tape. I have listened to 6 books this year and read 2 - I am completely ecstatic about this. To further the excitement, I am now part of a book club that will meet each month so I will defiantly get a book in!

I have been learning a lot - with webinars and learning at work to the sommelier classes I have taken, I am keeping my learning to a max and I love it! This one will be an easy resolution to continue this year!

Head to the mountains 1/month: My face is stinging from sunburn from being on the side of the mountain all day yesterday snowboarding. I had the most wonderful day with Justin and his brothers snowboarding, drinking beers and sharing some laughs. It was the best day in the mountains for sure! We are planning a camping trip in May and June - this one is going to be another easy one. I did miss going out in March, but figure I will make that one up in May and June! :)

Try a new recepie - this one has been awesome! We have discovered things like individual spinich dip bread bowls and egg waffles - I have a list of things I want to try and often I try more than one new meal a month. There have been some bombs, but there have been some great ones!

Some of the ones I have been struggling with... Get healthy. I think I finally have my eating on track, and it's ball season soon, so I will be getting out into the fresh air. We have brought the bikes out and have been snowboarding, but I still am not moving as much as I want. SO... I have started a challenge of 30 days of yoga. Starting today. We shall see how this goes! I found this article for motivation: Changing a habit in 30 days - I also have my new running schedule - starting next Monday. AND biking to work resumes when it is above 5C in the mornings. I will get there!

Be more thankful, be kinder and gentler - This is really hard to validate and quantify. I haven't been sending out my Thank you notes as much as I want - but this is something I can catch up on, and I will. Being kinder and gentler, I think the fact that I am doing more yoga and dealing with stress differently has helped with this, but again, it is so subjective.

There are so many things that I still want to do this year, and although it won't be a big travel year like last year, I am sure this year will be just as epic. For example, I learned how to snowboard this year... that's awesome and it's only April! What else will I do this year? So much time left to explore that answer!!!! There is so much to do, so much to be thankful for, and so much happiness in the world - go and explore; find your place; grow and find peace - This is what I am trying to achieve and I think I've gotten a great start! Try something new and before you know it, you may have changed your life for the better! You'll never know if you don't try!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Update on the reno's

Well, this weekend, we finished the renovations to the main living spaces in our house. It looks incredible when it's cleaned and now it highlights those spots that need to be updated and re-done.

A small peek at the completed renos
We still have work to do on the bathroom and we still have the back splash to put on the walls in the kitchen, but the main living space looks incredible!

Next up, we are making couches. I think we will be working on the plans and getting the materials in the next couple weeks and then we will start building in Justins' brothers' garage. It should be an interesting project and I look forward to them being completed.

In the mean time, I have the material for the curtains in our room and I can't wait until we have all the furniture ready and moved around. Once we get the room situated in the orientation we want, I will make the curtains. We will eventually re-do the carpet in the rooms, but that won't be for a while.

When I have completed the curtains, I am going to start working on the giant quilt for our bed. I have sourced the yarn that I will need and have an idea on how to make the needles, but I am not sure how to do a cable knit... time to hit up YouTube to watch some tutorials and teach myself!

In total, here are the priorities:
1. Make Couches
2. Sew Curtains
3. Make woolen blanket
4. Up-cycle the china cabinet we got from my folks
5. Re-do bathroom
6. Re-carpet bedroom and office
7. Re-do the laundry room
8. Sew curtains for office
9. Sew table runner for the table

This should keep us busy for sometime - but once this is done, we should have a perfectly comfortable place to call our little family home. Its going to look wonderful once we have everything done. We are wanting to have this all done by June so we can make sure we enjoy this summer. So much to do! :)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Foodie Pen Pals - February Reveal day!

Jen was my penpal this month. I sent her some delicious soup mixes that were healthy, local, and vegan. I hope she liked them, she said she did. She sent me a package that was delightfully full of all different kinds of yummies. There was chocolate, crackers, olives, rice, tea, nuts, raisins, chips, and more chocolate. It was a delightful array of delishious treats and such a diverse collection.

The sweet potato chips were incredible. I think they are my new favorite chip! The chocolate was all very delicious, but I think the chocolate covered dried cheries were my favorite. They are delightfully tangy with that sweet cherry flavour mixed with dark chocolate... oh man, they are delightful! We still have a tiny bit because we have been savouring them!!

We munched through the crackers, and while they aren't my preffered taste, they were very well paired with tea. That was Justins' idea! :) The package of mixed fruit and nuts was a perfect treat for the ski hill and that's exactly where it was eaten! A great source of natural sugar and protien - we will be using the idea of the different nuts and raisins and craisins for a trail mix that we can take on our hikes. :) We've yet to try the rice, olives or tea, but all in good time.

I sometimes feel that I get the better deal in these foodie exchanges, and I sincerely hope that the people I send my packages to feel the same. Either way, thank you Jen for the delicious variety of nummies this month... we have almost eaten our way through it already! :)

If you are interested in being a part of this and you live in Canada or the US - go here to sign up! http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/ 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Renovations are a pain!

This is what our house looked like at it's nicest. Christmas is my favourite time of year, and we did it up right with a real tree (thanks to Justin) and all the fixins. We were getting ready for our Christmas/Birthday party with our friends - it was an epic night.


Now, we are in the middle of renovations. We have decided to re-paint the 1990's decorated condo to update it and get rid of things that are old and try and refresh the place so it looks more modern and fits our style.

We have found a great colour for the walls and have finished all the painting (except the bathroom, that is a weekend job for me) - it is looking really fresh and clean and I love it! We have also been re-purposing some of the furniture that we have to make it fresher and fit with our new colour scheme. Once it is all done, it's going to look FAB-U-LOUS! (more pictures to come)

 

Last night, we tore up all the carpet in the main living rooms. It was gross and difficult and dusty work. The temperature has gone down about 5 degrees since taking out the carpet and I think it will help with trying to keep the condo cool. Thank goodness! Anyone who has spent time in our condo knows that it can get toasty really quickly! We are ripping out the lino today and Friday we start installing the laminate flooring. It is going to be nice, fresh, and cool! YES!!

 

We are still on the hunt for some great looking tile for the foyer and back splash for the kitchen, but I think we will find it when we go and purchase the laminate today. It's going to be a lot of work this weekend but once we are done the floor, we will be ready to put up our pictures and decorate the house as we want it. It's going to be our home for at least the next 3 years, so we might as well make it comfortable. Along with the renovations, Chris moves out in 2 weeks as well so we can start using the space that he was taking up with all his stuff. It is going to feel like a nice, cosy home for our little family soon.

Once we are done with the renos to the house, we are going to build our own couches. This should be an adventure for sure. Along with couches, I have to sew curtains and I am knitting our bed spread for our bed. Lots of projects coming up this year - and that falls in line with my resolution to be creative! :) 2015 is starting out being a great year so far!

I will surely update the blog when we have finished everything and it looks the way we want it to.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

You can never go back

About 15 years ago, in one of my college classes (The Sociology of the Family, I believe) I shared with the class a story that was not mine. I didn't share names, only the circumstance. It was an incredibly private and personal story that I didn't know all the details about. While the story was completely relevant to the class discussion, the story was not mine to tell. Turns out that the person the story was about had a roommate in that very class. The roommate told the person that I told the story and she was understandably upset.

About a week later, this person spotted me studying and having lunch. She approached me and calmly, but firmly told me that I need to mind my own business. She told me that her roommate was in my class and that I shouldn't tell stories about things I don't understand or weren't a part of. She was visibly angry and was shaking. I sat, maintained eye contact, and let her speak her say. I didn't say anything until she was through and then I apologized. What more could I say? She was 100% correct in all she said. I couldn't help but think about how brave she was to approach someone who said something wrong about her and how she stood up for herself so well. She was an excellent advocate for her life, and I still remember how that conversation felt, 15 years later.

We had been friends in grade 9 and I remember sneaking out of her basement window to go and hang out with boys, only we almost got caught and I had to dive back in through the window. I remember another time in her basement where one of our friends' little brother drank an entire bottle of vodka and then puked it up on her floor. I stood watching, waiting for her parents to come home while they cleaned up the mess. We went our separate ways once she started dating the boy I had a crush on and we never re-united our friendship. While we were cordial to each other, we weren't always kind. I regret that. We should always try to be kind.

I learned today that this old friend of mine died in a head on collision a couple days ago and I can't seem to get it out of my mind. She was a beautiful, hard working mother of 3 who created a great life for herself. She was my age, which means way, way too young to leave this earth.

I hope that she continuously felt loved and cared for in her time here on earth. I hope she felt peace and no pain as she passed from this world to the next. I pray that her family will always remember her easy smile, her compassion and her kind heart. I pray that her children will grow up knowing their mothers memory and that they bring her with them in each milestone they have in their life. I pray that they know how much she inevitably loved them.

There are many things that I wish were different in this world. One of them is that I wish the final words I said to this lady were of kindness, compassion and regret. I wish I had been a softer person in high school so that I could have remained friends with her and we could have shared many more memories. I do know that I will not forget her, ever. I am heart broken for her family, they lost a beautiful woman on February 24th, and that is something that won't change. I wish that were different also.

Rest in Peace beautiful lady.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Foodie Penpals - Reveal day!

The Lean Green Bean
This month I was paired with a wonderful Foodie Pen Pal! Jenn is from Ottawa and sent me a delightful array of nummies! Justin was looking over my shoulder as I revealed each part of the parcel and we delighted together in our great fortune of a wonderful Foodie Pen Pal!

The package included a lovely card and come serviettes that are in the same colour as my beloved retro 1950's kitchen table. I can't wait until the reno's are over so that we can have people over for a classy cocktail party!
Jenn also included some DELICIOUS chocolate which we admittedly devoured the very night that we got the parcel! For dessert of course! In the package there was some awesome rice pasta that shockingly we really liked. I had always wanted to try it but was just so scared to buy it for fear that I would not like it. As it turned out, the day we got the package, we didn't have any supper plans so we made spaghetti and it was superb! An array of teas and lattes were also included and they have all since disappeared. We really liked the french cafe lattes she sent and the ginger latte package was very interesting. We have yet to try the salt flakes and Lemongrass she got due to us liking Vietnamese, I am looking for a delish recipe so we can try our hand at homemade pho!!! The package was topped off with a lovely little stick of cotton candy lip chap... all the yummy, none of the calories! It was a superb package and we oooh'd and awww'd when we opened each individually wrapped and labelled piece.

Jenn has a lovely little blog that you can check out here: http://www.bakeandbemerry.wordpress.com/. She has posted what I had sent to her if you'd like to see what she got in return! I think I got the better deal, but Jenn seemed delighted with what was in her package, so I think this month was a success.

I have signed up for next month and if you'd like to join, simply go here: http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/ 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Banff, Alberta - A day in the Mountains

After a night out of epic proportions, and after a refreshing night sleep at the Fox Hotel and Suites, we woke to the crisp mountain air and stunning views. There isn't anything like waking up in the mountains, it is simply one of my favourite things!

We had our complimentary breakfast, stopped at David's Tea for a quick cuppa and off we went. Our goal was to take in the beautiful light in the mountains that fine day and to hopefully find some wildlife (in particular a moose). We drove down the Bow Valley Parkway. This drive is stunning on the worst of days so the drive though the mountains between Lake Louise and Banff was no exception. 

We spent the morning and early afternoon driving and stopping to take beautiful pictures. We soaked in the fine weather and even found a herd of beautiful Elk. They were all male from what we could tell and this image shows a smaller Elk of the herd. They were gigantic and so plentiful. We watched in awe as they were so close and so magestic. Simply wonderful!

We had a quiet lunch at a bistro in Lake Louise and turned the car around and travelled back to Banff on the same road. It is something to be able to see the same scenery but from the opposite direction - you can hardly tell that it was the same road with the beautiful vistas changing in the light of the afternoon. It was stunning and what made it even more lovely was the gentle, soft snow that began to fall.

At around 3 PM we ventured to our last stop of the day, to Banff Trail Riders. Our good friend purchased a romantic sleigh ride for 2 for my birthday and Christmas, I thought it was such a delightful present! We got there, signed our waiver and off we went with Bart leading us through the snowy mountain trail. It was a wonderful, delightful hour in which we chatted happily with our driver, Megan. She was knowledgable about the area and we got a couple hikes and snowshoe trips added to our list because of her. We spent the hour wrapped up under a giant buffalo skin with smiles a mile wide and the cool breeze kissing our cheeks.




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Banff, Alberta - A night out with the locals


Banff, Alberta.

It is located in the Rocky Mountains and is a simply delightful town. Since it is only about 130 KM from Calgary, where we live, we try to travel there often. 

We headed out to Banff after work on Thursday. We have a friend who works out in Banff and she had secured a hotel room for the night for us. We rolled into town around 7:30 and were treated like gold at the Fox Hotel. 

Once we checked in, we made our way down the road to the Keg where we had a wonderful meal with wonderful wine. My friend and 2 of her Aussie friends joined us and it was light hearted and fun conversation. After a delightful, delicious meal, we headed back to the hotel and spent an hour or so in their amazing hot tub. They have this 'grotto' type hot tub area that is completely enclosed with waterfalls and jets all over. In the middle, if you look up, you will see the stars as there is an opening in the ceiling. 

Once our bones were soaked thoroughly, we went back to our hotel room, showered and opened a bottle of wine. My friend and one of the Aussies joined us and we chatted happily as we rid the bottle of all its wine. I had thought that we were going to have a nice, quiet, cozy night in but it turns out that isn't what my friend had in store. It was Thursday night in Banff and this is when the locals (or at least all the people in Banff on work visas) come out on the town. 

We headed out to a local pub called "The Rose and Crown". We grabbed a beer and sat down to enjoy some of the night life. Some more locals joined us as they knew my friend and before I knew it, we were a gaggle of people. Delightful! The band started playing these random songs from the 90's and we were up on our feet shaking our groove thang. Before we knew it we were off to find more locals and after a brief stop in a couple other bars, we settled on Hoodoos.

Hoodoos is a dance club and it was hopping. We had to stand in line for about 15 minutes but since it wasn't cold, and there were plenty of people to watch and be entertained by, it passed quickly. One thing is for certain in Banff, everyone seems friendly and willing to chat a little, particularly while standing in line.

We ditched our coats and grabbed some drinks. If you are looking for the place where locals go, Hoodoos on Thursdays is it. Drinks were $3 for a hi-ball and they specialize in Jager-bombs (which are also $3). A couple bevies in hand and we were back on the dance floor. The DJ was doing a great job of keeping the beats going and before too long, it was last call and we had danced the night away!

We walked back to the hotel, happy with knowing we had an incredible night, tired from all the dancing, and still full from the incredible steak dinner we had earlier that night. We were contented. The only thing that would have made the night more perfect was if it had snowed. We bid our good nights and slept like babes.

An epic night in Banff. Great lodgings, wonderful food, awesome night life, and amazing friends. What more does a girl need. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

What my 2015 is going to look like.

Lately, I have been reading some really good articles on self improvement. A few that really resonated with me are "Clear the Clutter", "How to Break Into the New Year" and "10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal". I really like lists. Since reading these, I have given it a lot of thought... some things need to change in my life. So, this year I made a list of resolutions that I would like to complete. They are as follows:

1.Geat healthy. This includes eating better, exercising regularly, solving this Thyroid issue, and setting some goals.

2. Try a new recepie each month. While I think I already do this, I want to make sure that I am ever expanding in my tastes and likes with food. It is a new relm that I enjoyed dipping my toe into last year, now I want to dive right in!

3. Do something nice for a friend or loved one each month. We are surrounded (or should be) by people we love and care about but rarely find the time to show them. I want to show 'my peeps' that they are awesome in my eyes and that I love them.

4. Be thankful. I want to take more time to be thankful. I purchased a "Gratitude Kit" from Chapters (it was on sale) and it contains 52 thankyou cards and a journal. Each week of 2015 I am going to be sending out a Thank you note to someone... just to say Thanks. In the journal, you can write things you are thankful for each day.

5. Read 1 book a month. I love to read but find that it takes a back shelf to the other things that I have on my list... this will change this year. I am going to read books I am interested in reading and explore different authors and genres. My library card is all ready to be put to use. I WILL NOT BUY ANY BOOKS THIS YEAR (I already have too many to store... I must read the books I have before buying anymore!)

6. Head out to the Mountains at least 1 time a month. I love the mountains. They calm me, bring me peace, make me quiet and pensive, give me energy, make me feel better. Why wouldn't I go out there as often as I can??

7. Spend more time with me. I need to start thinking that I am valuable enough to spend quality time with. Whether it is reading in a coffee shop, hiking, skating, sitting in the library fawning over books, rummaging though piles of stuff at a thrift store, or going for a drive.

8. Practice an art form everyday. I love crafting and creating and exploring and thinking about crafting and creating. I don't do enough of it. It makes me happy to make something out of nothing. I will spend time each day doing this (either 15 mins to 1 hour to 4 hours...). Whether it is writing, sewing, scrapbooking, yoga, baking, etc. I will make sure to exercise my creativity each day.

9. De-clutter my life. We all have too much 'stuff' and we don't need all the stuff we have. I have already started the purge, but I want the de-cluttering to go farther and deeper than my closet and cupboards. I want to get rid of the extras that have been hanging around, whether it is the 10lbs I gained from quitting smoking, to the emotional cargo that I carry with me each day. We all have "stuff", I just want to get rid of mine and live a cleaner, fitter, happier life.

10. Be kinder, gentler, a better listener and a better person. I want to just be better, softer, kinder in my thoughts and feelings towards others and towards myself. If you can't love yourself, who can you love?

11. Keep learning. I want to keep learning and taking courses to expand my horizons and knowledge. As they say, Knowledge is power. I am currently taking an online "Social Media" course that I hope to finish soon and I would love to take my Level 1 Sommelier.

So, that outlines my year. I know that I will do many, many things aside from all of this, namely, travelling with Justin, working on creating solid learning programs, and hiking all over the mountains. I merely wanted to get some of the more 'soul filled' thoughts down on paper. I read somewhere that often, when people are going through changes, it is important that they write about them. This not only allows them to explore their thoughts and feelings in a free environment, but it also has some type of accountability attached to it.

Here's hoping that 2015 will be just as amazing as 2014 was. :) I think I have the right people and the right attitude, now I just have to go out and make it happen!!