Friday, 29 April 2016

SeaWheeze 2016

Today I came home from volunteering in Penelope's class to find a package (or two) waiting for me on my doorstep. I had been excited to get these shorts even though I knew I would not like them.

I excitedly ripped open the package and though I loved the package it came in, my fears were confirmed. I actually disliked them more in real life then in all the photos I had seen plastered throughout social media the last few days. Not only did I not love them, I am pretty sure I don't even like them. Not even a little bit. 

The blue is not bright enough and the green is just really ugly. And they are not animal print, they are finger prints which is really cool and works well with the whole spy theme. I honestly have no idea if I will actually wear them but I am not sure I can bring myself to sell them either. Greg thinks I should but who knows if I will or not. I am hoping that the showcase store has something I like to make up for it haha although Greg is hoping for just the opposite haha. 

Regardless, the arrival of the shorts and the launch of the SeaWheeze app on May 9th officially signals the training for the race on August 13th. And this I am excited about. I am excited for the race because it's a great route and I am excited to spend 5 days in Vancouver with some of my closest friends. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Share The Chair

Last summer, Parks Canada launched the #sharethechair initiative.  Red adirondack chairs would be placed throughout the National Parks across Canada in quiet places where people could reflect and be inspired and just take in all the parks have to offer.  

We had seen a few chairs last year but we were always on bikes and there were always people around so we never got to sit in them or participate in it until last weekend when we were hiking Tunnel Mountain and we came across them just before you got to the top of the mountain.  

We were all very excited to see them but none more then me.  I follow the #sharethechair on social media and have been dying to be able to participate.  We all got our photos taken in the chair and we sat in them and witnessed the beauty of having the ability to climb up a mountain and watch the world below you.  

You can go onto the Parks Canada site and find the chairs and go exploring that way but we choose to be pleasantly surprised and find them by accident by hiking or biking along the trails we love or discovering new trails.  But you should really try and find some if you have a national park near you!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Energy Bites

I saved this recipe on my phone back in February and only just got around to making them earlier this week.  Not sure why it took me so long to do it but it was definitely worth the wait. They are very tasty and the cocoa makes you content after only having 1 or 2 so it's the perfect small sweet treat when you are trying to limit the amount of sugar you are having (which is really hard to do by the way).    The only thing I would do differently is add a bit more honey as it was a little crumbly.  I took the recipe from Gimme Some Oven (link below) and she is one of my favourite food bloggers and she has a plethora of other energy ball recipes but most are too fancy for my picky palet. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites

SourceGimme Some Oven

1 cup dry oatmeal
⅔ cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup ground flax
⅓ cup honey or agave nectar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Cover and chill in the fridge for at least a half an hour, to make the mix easier to handle and mold.
  2. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like.  Store in an air tight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.**
** I like to freeze mine in little bags with 3 in them to eat through out the day when I need them.  So they are a sometimes treat not an every day treat

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tunnel Mountain

On Saturday we were heading out for Canmore for Charlotte's second birthday so we thought we would finish off the day with a hike in Banff before heading back to Calgary.  We let Finley pick and she picked Tunnel Mountain because it is easy and you get to climb a mountain which is a very big deal for a 7 year old even if we have climbed this mountain at least once every year since she was in my belly.

Finley got a hiking back pack for when we do bird lake in August and she loves to use it every time we head out.  She is very insistent that nobody else brings a backpack and that she carries everything.  There wasn't much in her backpack today - just a couple of water bottles, fruit snacks for her + Penelope and their rain coats.  Officer Judy Hopps also had to come along.  It was her first ever hike and she was apparently very excited.

Tunnel Mountain is a great hike for young and old .  While there are a few steep sections, it is generally a very easy hike up to the top of a mountain with plenty of beautiful views along the way.  Both kids hiked this by foot before their 2nd birthdays so you know it's not that difficult.  This photo is overlooking the backside of the mountain into a golf course.  I think it's Banff Springs Golf Course but I am not 100% sure since I am not a golfer.  If you go without kids or  your kids are older, you can be up and down in under an hour.  If you have kids it might be longer, especially since they like to sit at the top and have a snack and watch the world below them.

"You don't climb a mountain so the world can see you.  You climb a mountain so you can see the world".  No idea who said this but it is one of my favourite quotes and it comes to me each and every time I climb a mountain - big or small.  A mountain is still a mountain no matter how high.  There is something so serene about getting to the top and just watching.  And you can tell that most people up there feel the same way because it is so quiet.  

We were very excited to see the red chairs near the top of Tunnel Mountain.  And seriously what a view to sit down and look at.  It doesn't get much better then this.  And the best part is that right now Banff is in between seasons for tourism so while it is still a little busy along Banff Ave, this hike was relatively empty on Saturday.  Some days it can be crazy busy which is why we tend to do it before the summer tourism rush.

Don't let Finley's smile fool you here, she was completely terrified.  She eased up because Greg was there but in the photos of her on the tree branch all you see is pure fear on her face.  Penelope had the same smile as this photo of all the ones of her sitting on the tree branch.

After our hike up and down Tunnel Mountain, we strolled along Banff Ave before stopping for supper at Park Distillery.  If you have never been, we highly recommend it.  It is by far one of our favourite restaurants in Banff.  Greg ordered the special and I have no idea what it was called but I am disappointed even as I type this that I didn't order it too.  It was perfectly seasoned shrimp and deliciously flavoured steak that was so incredible tender and a bunch of other stuff.  Lucky for me, he let me try some of it.  They have a great kids menu too in case you are wondering.  Finley had pulled pork tenders dipped in a maple mustard sauce which tasted like pancake syrup and Penelope had a grilled cheese sandwich.  

I had the most amazing beverage called the Aemmer Couloir which was Dry gin, elderflower liqueur, apple juice, mango jam, lemon juice, and sugar syrup.  It was heavenly.  Not too sweet (which is what I typically like) but not too bitter either.  

Saturday, 16 April 2016

South Glenmore Park

 Last Sunday I decided to do my long run at South Glenmore Park instead of my usual Fish Creek Provincial Park.  I run 2 - 3x per week there and do the same routes on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and I was desperate for a change of scenery.  I thought it was a good idea since I have a race here at the end of April and I haven't ran here since the same race last year.  However, I had forgotten how hilly it was.  I don't remember it being like that last year but then I remembered I had just ran a half marathon in San Francisco and perhaps this just seemed to be flat compared to that hahaha.

This is right near where I started and I had to take a photo.  It was perfect with the sun rising, the large body of water and the views of downtown.  Such a nice change of pace from my usual Sunday route.

I think this was my favourite part of the run probably because it was super flat and very tranquil at least until 2 deer came running out of the trees and scared the crap out of both of us.  But it was a beautiful start to a run.  I wasn't feeling as tranquil when I had to run back this way since I got lost or not really lost but almost lost had I not turned around.  I had originally intended to turn around at the 7km mark so I could run my 14km.  But then I thought to myself I should just do the loop that the race is run on since it is 15km and what's the extra km right? Well, I forgot that as of right now there is not connector through the park, you have to detour through the residential areas to get back to the park on the other side of the North Glenmore Park Canoe Club.  Apparently there is a planned proposal to build a pathway connecting it in 2017 but nothing as of yet.  The problem was I couldn't remember the route we took and where I was did not look familiar to me and this was at 7.95km mark.  I could see Heritage Park and knew if I got there I could make the loop so I opened up Apple Maps on my iPhone and searched the walking route from there to Heritage Park and it told me 11km which I knew was not the case. However, I had no intentions of pressing my luck and trying to find my way there so I turned back which I also did not want to do.  There were a lot of hills I now had to go up and down and I didn't want to do that at all but I really what choice did I have??  So I turned around and suffered through the last half of my run.  I was not happy. I was mad, grouchy, angry and sore. I had severe bloating and painful cramps and was mentally struggling with this run.  I ran a great first half of the run but really struggled with it on the way back and I ended up doing more walking then running (I think) and at the 15km mark I officially stopped my watch and walked the last km back to my car.  

This was my time on Sunday morning.  It definitely wasn't great.  I know Sundays are supposed to be my long slow distance run but I struggle with running slowly even though both Greg + Shannon have told me that this prevents injuries.  I was disappointed with everything and so I used my Starbucks reward on the app on my iPhone and bought myself a chai latte on my way home.  I was also really cold and needed to somehow warm up quickly.  I got home and complained immensely to Greg about how terrible my run was and everything went wrong and I suck at running and I no longer like it and no longer want to torture myself by running like I do.  He just laughed at me and told me that this was good for me to experience.  He did bring up the fact that this was the longest run I have had in a long time (I have been running consistently but have been having trouble getting past the 10km mark until about 2 weeks ago) and that it is beneficial to struggle in runs to make me do better next time round.  And besides he said I have invested way too much in this to turn back now.  I stayed mad at myself for the rest of the day and started Monday with a brand new attitude and some crazy sore hamstrings but more on that later. 

The moral of the story is that a tough run is better then no run at all and I need to put it behind me and do better next run out (which I did btw) and just keep on improving going forward.  Easier said then done for sure on some occasions but for your mental being you just gotta.  

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Aggie Days

On Sunday, we headed down to the Stampede Grounds to attend Aggie Days.  We had no idea that it had moved from the BMO Centre until we got there.  We couldn't figure out why there were so many people in the halls dressed in suits and dresses haha.  We ventured out the set of doors when Greg thought it might be in the new Agrium Western Event Center.  

They had all the tractors outside which kinda sucked because it was really windy when we go there so we didn't get to look at the combines or anything which the kids were kinda disappointed by.  When you walked into the centre it was complete chaos.  They had the plant/soil/dirt display there and it was crazy with people looking at that and trying to get into the other section where the displays were and upstairs to where there was more stuff.  I did not enjoy this chaotic part of the event. Little did I know, a good section of Aggie Days would be like this.  

Here was Greg teaching the girls about the different kinds of pigs that exist here in Alberta.  They have no problems knowing where their meat comes from and they discuss this every day when we eat.  They were a little disappointed that we didn't eat the bigger pig.

The bees are always my favourite part of Aggie Days.  I don't remember how many bees are in this one but it's a lot and there was a Queen Bee in there.  They have blue on them so that you are able to distinguish which one is the Queen Bee.

Penelope is trying to make Canola Oil from Canola seeds.  She rolled everywhere but over the seeds so I took over for her.  

Finley was excited to see that she made oil.

The animal areas was really well done and much better then when it was in the BMO centre.  It was a circle around a horse agility event and it was really spaced out.  There was lots of room to walk around and view the animals and participate in activities.  We all really enjoyed this aspect of Aggie Days.

Pretending she was a horse back rider

Getting to pet the horses.  Penelope was looking forward to this all day.

Soon we finished the animals and were back into the area with all the displays which was insanely chaotic and busy and people were pushing people around.  It was awful.  They need to make it easier to get around and view the displays next year.  We skipped a lot of displays because it was just too crowded.

We then went upstairs and watched the horse agility event.  It was pretty neat - and it was funny to see how scared the horses were of the fake bear in the top left corner of the arena.  They were having none of the horse crap.  They also had a face painting and cartoon caricature and rope making booth but those were crazy insane with line ups for days so we skipped that.  We did do the Corn Maze that was set up there and the girls loved that.  I think they could have put a few more displays up there to help ease the insaneness of the display area on the main floor.  

So while we definitely had a good time, it would have been much better if the booths weren't so close together.  Perhaps next year they can make a few adjustments to make it a much more enjoyable experience for everybody.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Five On Friday

1. On Tuesday morning, Greg's company did some layoffs. Thankfully Greg wasn't one of them. They lost 20% of their staff, including 3 from his group. 30% had their hours reduced from 5 days a week to 3 days. This budget is approved until the end of the year which is good. His company needs oil to maintain at $45/barrel to be sustainable so keep your fingers crossed it rebounds and levels off. Not just for us but for the 20,000 Calgarians who have lost their job in the last 15 months.  Super quick shout out to my friends and family who were such a great support system leading up to this.  All the messages both before and after were encouraging and supportive.  We are so lucky to have such great people in our lives.  We love you all.

2. Speaking of SNL, Peter Dinklage hosted last weekend and he was amazing. His sketch Space Pants was probably one of the greatest ever. It was brilliant. He was so good on that episode. Gwen Stefani was the musical guest and I am now obsessed with her song Make Me Like You.

Here is a link to the Space Pants Skit.  It's hard to find a solid video on  youtube because SNL only allows US viewers on their youtube page but it's still worth the watch: Space Pants

And here is the video for Make Me Like You by Gwen Stefani.  I had no idea they even made videos anymore but it appears they do.

3.  Last year Lululemon came out with the pistachio coloured  CRB which is my most favourite tank and the only one I wear for all activities.  It was so popular that it sold out immediately both online and in stores and I was left empty handed.  And since then it hasn't popped up on any of my local boards at all which is quite rare.  But on Tuesday (which is when new stuff comes up on their app; new stuff appears in stores on Tuesdays and Fridays at the Southcenre location) I was on the app just after upload and it was there.  I was so excited that I bought it immediately which was a nice treat given the stressful 2.5 weeks that I have had.  It arrived this morning and I am so in love it.  It's strange because I am not a huge fan of green but I just love it so much.

4.  I have been obsessed with plant terrariums for months.  I have loved them from afar and on pinterest and longed for one of my own.  However, I just never pulled the trigger but for some reason I caved and bought one on March 20th and it is still alive.  You basically just need to spray it every week or so and it survives.  I actually forgot to spray it until I was at IKEA on Tuesday and saw a spray bottle so I bought it and sprayed it that day.  It is shockingly still alive.  It's nothing fancy but I am very happy with it:

5.  So I am a short person and I have a very tough time finding crops that fit me properly.  Most are like pants on me or pants that shrunk and I look ridiculous.  So I was at Walmart and I saw that for $7 you can buy leggings and cut them at the set out lines on the pant to make them the right size for you.  I thought this was brilliant.  Until I got home and cut them.  I am not a seamstress or anything like that.  I can't even cut a straight line even if it is measured out.  I thought it was going to be easy but it wasn't.  It took forever for my scissors to cut it, it wasn't straight and it looks like I cut it so there is no nice seam or anything like that (which really makes sense after the fact) and I cut them a bit too short.  Thankfully they were only $7 and will be good for backyard play and camping.  Lesson learned - don't ever try to hem your own pants or crops hahaha.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Summer Came Early

On Saturday, they were calling for crazy warm temperatures and we were wanting to do something fun.  So we decided to go for a bike ride and get some Village Ice Cream.  We did a similar bike ride last spring when we biked 35km from Bannister Road entrance at Fish Creek to Village downtown.  Seeing as how this was the first big ride or any ride for that matter of the season, we decided that maybe we shouldn't be so adventurous at the get go.  And I was worried that Greg's shoulder wouldn't survive a bike ride that long.  So after some google mapping, Greg suggested we drive to South Glenmore Park and ride from there to Village Ice Cream and back.  We weren't sure how far it was km wise, but we knew it was going to be shorter then our previous one.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the trails and paths were packed.  People were walking, running, biking and picnicking everywhere.  It was so great to see.  The views along the ride are pretty spectacular and you don't even have to leave the city.  The coolest part was how the water was still frozen but you could see all the cracks in the water.  

Coming down a fun hill into Sandy Beach area.  Trust me when I say that hill was not nearly as fun going back up.  I was fooling around with my gears going back up and I went backwards and my gear was too hard and I lost all momentum and had to walk my bike up.  I was so mad at myself haha.

We finally made it to Village Ice Cream in Britannia and it was busy considering it was barely lunch time.  And yes we had ice cream before lunch.  Greg got the chocolate mocha mint chip and said it was delicious.  The girls both got chocolate chip cookie dough which of course they both loved.  I got salted caramel which I liked for about 3 spoonfuls and then I done.  It was so rich it was making me sick.  I tried trading with girls but neither was interested.  I gave it to Greg to have and went got the earl grey ice cream.  I almost always rotate between earl grey and toasted coconut but decided to be different today.  They let you have all the samples you want so I am not sure why I didn't try it hahaha.  You must check out Village Ice Cream if you haven't already.  It is locally owned and made fresh in the store.  The brother of the owner owns Buttermilk Waffles on 17th.  They have 2 locations - East Village and Britannia and their third location opens on Friday in Garrison Green.  They make their own waffle cones in store all the time so they are always fresh and you can buy pints to take home with you.  

We had to ride up this hill to get to 49th ave and the street that takes us to Village Ice Cream.  You can kinda see the path in this photo.  It was intense and awful and none of us had any interest in riding that hill back down so we detoured through Britannia and Riverdale Drive to get back.  Lots of houses for rent and sale in those areas if you can afford it hahaha.  

We stopped for lunch at Sandy Beach and we skipped rocks and the girls played in the water.  It was initially shockingly cold for them but eventually they got used to it and didn't even notice the cold.  The peace officers were there giving tickets to people with dogs.  Apparently they have changed the laws and off leash areas and so they needed to enforce them.  There was a dog that wouldn't leave us alone because we had food and the peace officers were coming over to either lecture us or give us a ticket but we told them it wasn't ours.  It was kinda funny.    I had never been here before and it is a great little area to spend an afternoon in the summer, I can't wait.  Although I think I have either picked up or dropped off Greg and Jack here on one of their floating adventures.  And speaking of floating, there were a few people in dingus floating along the river.  It was still too cold for that imo.  

When we got home, Greg checked google maps and we biked 17km with a total elevation of 160m which is the equivalent of biking up Tunnel Mountain.  While it was definitely shorter then the original bike ride to Village, it was definitely a lot tougher!!

Friday, 1 April 2016

Five On Friday

I1. This has been a tough few weeks for us. My Aunty Sandy passed away last Monday and so we went back to SK for her funeral and then the girls and I all got really sick so we came back home on Saturday and spent Easter with just us 4. It was the first time in my life I haven't spent it with extended family - either mine or Greg's. Greg's brother did invite us over but we weren't feeling too great and what we had was clearly very contagious so we stayed away. And to top it all off, we are faced with the (very real) possibility that Greg will be laid off on Tuesday. While I am extremely grateful that we have made it this long considering the economy here, I am still very upset by it. There is no real concrete idea of what will happen, rumors have swirling of reduced days working, which is still better then ei money, and cutting between 20-40% off all staff which doesn't seem like much but when you only have about 70 employees, it's actually quite huge. And instead of being a supportive wife, I am actually quite resentful and I really shouldn't be and I don't want to be 'that wife' but I am. Thankfully Greg gets me and isn't too upset about that. He's quite stressed out about it too. I always say you can't worry about what you can't control but with it looming in front of us, it's hard not to. 

2. To distract myself, I decided to paint our master bathroom. I bought new mirrors for it in February and so I didn't need to buy anything for this project which is good when you are facing a job layoff in a one income family. I used the same color that I used in the girls' bathroom which was not I wanted to do but it's still better then what it was. It's become a lot of work and I am not entirely sure it's worth it at the moment. 

3. The weather this week for spring break has been awesome and it appears it's going to stay that way until the girls go back to school on Monday. They have spent hours outside biking, playing with chalk + hula hoops. I expanded their biking perimeters and they are quite happy with that. 

4. I inherited all of my Aunty Sandy's cookbooks and although I knew she had a lot of cookbooks, I had no idea how much. Some of them are hand written recipes by her and those are so awesome. I am extremely grateful to my Uncle for letting me have them. 

5. I found Perfection second hand this week for the girls but I have to admit, I think I have had more fun with it. Finley really likes it and even though Penelope plays it all the time, she really doesn't like it much and gets so mad when it pops up before she's done. It's not surprising considering how competitive they both are.