Friday, May 31, 2013

It feels like I have so much to tell you from yesterday and today that I don't quite know where to start. So until I get all my words figured out, I would like to leave with you a couple cool pictures:

 The view from my awesome hotel room
 The theatre hall on my walk to dinner
 Walking across the bridge
The Pirates ball park at dusk

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Secrets and groaners

Can I let you in on a little secret? I just finished packing my bags. No - not because I fly home tomorrow but something that is almost as fun. I am going into Pittsburgh tomorrow to spend the night. Now that it is so light out - I can still take a couple of hours to wander around and so thought I would take advantage of it.

I have an errand to run for mom on my way which works out perfectly. And then after that I am going to check into a beautiful hotel that I got a great rate at. I will valet the car. Then I will wander on down to this most delicious restaurant (I will be sure to tell you all about that later).  I have been scouring the menu to pick the best 'clean' meal (yes - there is a story behind those rabbit ears; I will be sure to tell you about that later as well). And, of course, I have to stop to take a photo of my magnolia tree. You will love it.

After a delightful night sleep, I will get up a bit early to do some work and then pack my things before I head out again. This time I apparently need to try out Pittsburgh's famous sandwich shop - again scouring for my 'clean' option. I'm planning on a little more wandering, people watching and a stop or two before I need to jet back to the airport to start the trek home. 3 flights - that's not so bad!

And in closing - you already know that I appear to be the type of person which others feel comfortable opening up to. And as such - I got a joke for you from my local Safeway employee (hmmm hhhmmmm - another story)

What do you call a bear with no teeth . . . ???

Wait for it


Keep scrolling

It is coming . . .

Just a little further

A gummy bear . . . !!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fresh off the Boat

One of the delights in being with Jimmy is that I get to call 3 of Canada's most beautiful provinces home.

Saskatchewan will always be home for me although you probably often hear me call it 'The Farm'. It brings with it natural expanse, beautiful sunsets, big skies, gorgeous fields of blue and yellow fluttering in the wind. It has stunning valley's and gorgeous wildflowers. It's lakes are always begging for you to stop by with a picnic.

Alberta is my current beloved home. It welcomes me with its majestic mountains and deep deep blue waters. Driving through the ranchlands in the foot hills never fails to make me fumble for my camera and try to snap a million pictures. It's incredible views from mountain tops and glimpses of Calgary's gorgeous downtown all lit up make me smile every time I see them.

Nova Scotia is the latest to add itself to my repertoire of home. Gorgeous ocean bays calling for me to take a dip. Bountiful trees and hills. The scent of the sea water lingering in the air. Lighthouses and rock faces. And, of course, fishing boats and delicious fresh lobster.

While those who come from any of these spots I call home can't bring me mountains or sunsets, they can bring lobster. So when C. Ann was home for a week, she packed her bags full and picked Jimmy and I as two of the lucky ones to partake in the feast! Delicious.

Also - take note - C. Ann makes the best seafood chowder I have ever had. Yes, yes she does!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Anne of Green Gables

We went to Anne on Saturday night. Wow - it was so very good. It had all the familiar characters. The pain and humor. The sadness and joy. The actors did such a fantastic job and the set, well the set was stunning! I wish I could have had a chance to take another picture or two but I barely snuck in the one with Anne and Dianna below. Suffice it to say, if they were trying to portray the beauty of PEI through the set - they did a fabulous job!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunny Sunday's

Today is a perfectly spectacular day.

Why you wonder?

Well . . . let me tell you

1. It is delightfully sunny out

2. Jimmy and I are about to head outside and do some lovely yard work

3. C. Ann is home with fresh lobster for us

4. I have a delicious potato salad and dessert to make

5. I am leaving all house work for next weekend (don't think less of me - Jimmy is off to his boys golf trip this week and the house can last through the next couple of days)

6. Life is good and we are so very blessed

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I have an alarm

I was up and off to the airport bright and early this morning for my 7 am flight. And early morning fly days seem to guarantee that I don't get the best sleep the night before so I am often a touch groggy. Today was no exception.

The reason I am off to the airport today as opposed to tomorrow is that I am taking part in a big sales presentation. This is my first sales presentation with Structure and I am not going to lie, I am a little bit nervous. As I love the sales part of a project life cycle, I really want to do well, and so that is adding to the twinge of anxiousness that I am feeling.

As always, the line up for an early morning here is crazy! And as always, I zip past all the waiting passengers to get into my frequent flyer line and feel a little bit guilty. I take off my belt as I am waiting to get my passport scanned. The bag is open and the liquids container is ready to grab. I have truly become quite efficient at getting myself through security. Shoes off - check. Nothing in pockets - check. Wearing the right jewelry and clothes so as to not set off an alarm - check.

Through the scanner I go - all is passed - but lucky me - I am chosen for a hand swab. Sure - no problem. Swab away.

'Alarm. You alarmed. I have an alarm!' the TSA quickly spits out. You can see the frantic feelings crossing her face as I am feeling completely calm thinking that they will swab a couple things and we will be good.

'BANG!!!' a tray topples over to the ground right by my feet. The personal effects are so backed up that the pressure of all the bags coming through the scanner causes a tray to flip over and land on the ground. Trying not to laugh (as I found this part really funny) the entire airport does the collective lightning fast head twist and stares at me. 'You alarmed!' she is still saying. 'I have an alarm!' Ah the irony.

The TSA agent continues to call on her collar walky talky oscillating between 'I have an alarm' and 'You alarmed'. Finally an agent comes to help her. It takes three people to gather all my belongings as they lead me in my bare feet into a janitor/private screening closet. The floor is filthy and there is not much room for 3 of us. The gentleman drops my trays and goes back to his post as the one lady closes the door. The last time I was in this situation, I had just landed in Dubai and I was quite confident that this could not be worse.

The one lady, let's call her Alice, begins to pat me down. Alice instructs me to face the other lady, we will call her Bertha. (Bertha is also the lady who did my initial swab) Alice is quite delightful, she speaks in a calm voice and calls me honey throughout the process. She asks me to watch my bags as Bertha unleashes her fury upon them. I barely notice the pat down as she checks every pattable area on my body.

Bertha though? Well first she swabs my computer. Then she moves onto my shoes. Next is the laptop bag. (As a side note, please be aware that just because I travel with carry-on does not mean I travel light; I have been on the road for a week people; you need clean clothes!)Well she roots this way and that way. My fedora is crushed. My papers are crumpled. My chords are all disheveled. Finally she feels like she has a decent sample from my laptop bag. Alice comes back in and indicates - I'm clean.

But Bertha is not convinced. Next up - my suitcase. Bertha struggles lifting my suitcase to the counter to the point where Alice comes over to take an end. She plops the whole thing precariously on top of my shoes. Now everything is teetering this way then that. she opens the first zipper to find some dirty laundry. Into the pocket with dirty laundry her arm goes swabbing all over. Then she opens the main compartment. Knee highs in travel bobbles go flying. Undergarments are poking this way and that in the wake of her swabbing. Alice is back again with the swabs and is finding that I continue to check out clean.

Bertha is not taking chances! She pulls out my flip flops and proceeds to put the dirty bottoms all over my dress pants. She makes a comment about needing to do all my shoes. Oh dear - keep digging. I have two more pairs of shoes in there - I am a girl after all. She is pushing and shoving things around. My brush is snagging on a sweater. I can't take it any more. I meekly say 'Excuse me; If it would help, perhaps you can take a few things out. I have a presentation today and would like to keep those pants clean." I pray a silent prayer that wasn't too forward or inappropriate. Bertha snaps her head up - giving me a stunned look. "Oh sure, sure" she says. Do you want the flip flops here? There?

I smile and thank her for understanding.

Alice takes the last of the swabs.

I am clean.

They open the door.

I put on my shoes.

I gather my two trays, bag and suitcase myself and walk out to a counter.


I open the bags and begin to put everything back in order.

Bertha is off to her post knowing she did her job thoroughly.

My pants only had one spot. I was able to rinse it out.

And now - off to that big presentation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Hump Day

Wednesday's are for celebrating everything you accomplished this week and looking forward to 2 more days to get the rest of what you need to do done.

And this week Wednesday is my Thursday as I am actually gonna make it home Thursday night! (Insert wild applause here)

So as a result, I am already looking forward to the weekend . . . won't be quite as perfect as last weekend, I am sure. However, it does entail fresh lobster (sure hope that can be considered a clean meal . . . but don't tell me if it isn't Sarah!); tickets to Anne the musical; an evening with great friends; working on the flower beds and catching up on sleep!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

America's Pastime

Baseball is a sport that I grew up with. I didn't grow up playing it, per say. Oh sure there was the family reunion games, the youth group games and of course 'spring training' during phys-ed class. A camping trip was not complete without Dad, Trevor and I packing our gloves and playing a game of catch and we spent more than one summer evening in the yard catching pop-ups while dad or Trev batted balls out.

But through all that, I never loved playing ball. I wasn't great at batting. Oh I gave it a go and came up swinging. And when I did tip the ball, it rarely went past the infield which meant my only chance to get on base was to run like the wind or hope for an error. Playing the field meant playing far far far out. Which still wouldn't be far enough out when the farm boys came up to bat. So of course that meant more running hoping I don't trip in a gopher hole. And then throwing as hard as possible as the token 'cut off' infielder would run out to the middle cause there was no way my throw was making it back to first or second or let's face it, usually third. Third only because I was certainly not quick enough to catch that big farm boy at first or second base. And catching - I was pretty good at catching - but my hands are delicate flowers - and so having the hard ball slam onto that sensitive padding would always cause a stinging sensation I never loved. I would much rather play with Dad as he would listen to my pleas to take it easy on me. But of course Trevor was the more willing partner in crime and so more than a few games of catch ended with me being mad at Trev and stomping off. (Yes, I maybe had the odd temper tantrum growing up).

I don't want you to get the idea that I disliked sports growing up. I quite loved basketball. Oh I could shoot hoops for ever. And I didn't mind the odd volleyball game - well truthfully - I really liked volleyball. Frisbee, now that is something that I loved catching. No matter how much it hurt my delicate hands. Figure skating? Well let's just say I was self-taught but I could twirl for hours on the dugout as I belted out my karaoke version of Buddy Holly's Everyday! So it wasn't the fact that baseball was a sport. But there was just something about it that I didn't love playing.

Not only was baseball an activity to fill the lazy nights of summer, it was also on the TV a lot. Most Sunday afternoons, you could find mom and dad relaxing and cheering on the Blue Jays. Grandpa had this old black and white TV that was so fuzzy even with the rabbit ears, we couldn't find the ball after it was hit but that didn't stop him from tuning into the ball game (well that and Shirley, but that is a story for another time). When the Blue Jays came to Taylor field to show off their skills, we were there cheering them on. A couple of my biggest 'star' crushes were ball players: Jose, Kelly G and Roberto were so cute!

Yup, ball filled many a summer in its variety of forms. And through it all - I have learned to love watching baseball. Watching the big boys on TV or going to a minor professional game. I enjoy it all. My first live baseball game was with a girlfriend at the Seattle Mariners long before I was dating Jimmy. My love for baseball is certainly authentic and that makes it extra sweet now that I have a boy travelling partner for many of my adventures.

So when it was suggested we go to a Rangers game this weekend, I was all up for it. Add in two of our favorite couples joining us. First row seats right above the score board. A winning team. A back catcher that I have a soft spot for. Gorgeous weather. A lazy Sunday evening. And you have the perfect setting to revel in America's pastime!

I love baseball (and my dear friend Kristen) so very much that I even found myself posing with the mascot. Yup - that is how much of a good mood catching a lovely baseball game puts me in!

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Garden

We are so very blessed with great friends in our life! Friends who live near and friends who live far. Friends who we have known for 'ever' and those that are somewhat new to our lives. Friends we see almost every day. And friends we don't. And so this week, this bright sunshiney lovely week I dedicate to all of you friends.

I know I am not always the best at reaching out. I know I am sometimes shy. I sometimes ask too many questions and oh so often not enough questions. I forget. I overbook. I miss important dates.  But I want you each to know - not a day goes by without thinking of you. You name is not mentioned without a smile. Your presence makes things just a little more right.

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you...I could walk through my garden forever.”
― Alfred Tennyson

Music does a soul good

We headed to Texas this weekend to visit some dear friends. These dear friends have a common love of good music and Dave is on their favorites list. So it was perfect that we could all enjoy the second show in the Dave Matthews Band Summer Tour. The concert was a perfect addition to an already perfect weekend!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The End of an Era

Jimmy and I watched the series finale of The Office last night. 9 Years - mercies - that is a long time ago!

But as long as 9 years is - when I look back, It isn't that long at all. 9 years ago I had already moved out to Calgary. The Berkan family had already grown to include a grandson/nephew and the most beautiful sister-in-law. I already knew that I hated liver and that I loved chocolate. The travel bug had already hit. I had already met my dearest of friends.

And yet so many things have been added. I have 3 more beautiful nephews. I have gained another whole family which I love. I own a house - eep - and as such am more in debt than I have ever been! I have moved on in my career twice and got married.

My 9 years feels like a blink and yet so much can happen in a blink.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Flowers

Jimmy and I went on a picnic on Mother's Day. It would have been nice to have our moms with us. But since they weren't, we found some crocuses for them.

I remember picking crocuses for mom in the pasture at the farm every spring. I was a little giddy to have found them - on Mother's Day - So Happy Momma's Day!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

There is never a good time for a bad joke

So you know that night that I was at Starbucks and saw the fisherman strutting his stuff?

Well that was not the only random sighting that night.

I was reading an article in the magazine and noticed something out of the corner of my eye that caught my attention. It was a kid somewhere between 14 and 17 I would guess. A boy with pimply skin, gangly legs that makes every jean look like a skinny jean, red hair, orange and green plaid shirt and a backpack. He didn't exude a lot of confidence if that is something you can judge within  1 second. His expression was more somber and he stared down a lot.

Then I noticed that he was carrying something - wait a minute - no it couldn't be. My heart skipped a beat. My breath was short. I was instantly nauseous. He was carrying a gun. I couldn't get a good view of it yet - I needed him to take a couple more steps - before I could assess if this was a toy or real. Praying. Praying. wwwhhhhhheeeeewwwwww It was a toy gun.

Instantly my mind wonders why?  I want to shake him. I want to exclaim to him "You gotta know that isn't an optimal thing to be carrying as you walk along the mall exterior. You are carrying a back pack. It doesn't fit? Of course it does! "

As I slowly return to my magazine I hear digital sound effects growing louder. You know the sound that is digitally created to represent a gun with a silencer on it. (if you listen carefully you can imagine my pitch raised a bit and I am making a pew pew pew sound). That sound. I look up and there is my new friend. He is now walking back the other way pointing the gun at a variety of passerby's and pulling the trigger. Pew pew pew fills the air.

I really want this to be a bad joke. I really want to laugh. I want to shake my head with a little comment of 'too far' under my breath. I want to feel light. I want to think that he was just checking to make sure those new batteries were working. I want to assume he has no clue. But there is a part of me that just can't.

Oh my - be with that boy. Someone please take the time to really look at him. Someone reach out in a way to touch him deeper than I could in that moment. And I find myself praying again. This time praying for him. His weirdness. His emotional health. Hoping and praying that he isn't the sullen kid he appears to be. That he knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses right. Please choose right.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Top 10 Things for Spring

This Monday finds me so very grateful to be living in Calgary. It really is a beautiful city especially once the spring breezes find their way to the foothills that engulf our city.

So here are some of my top 10 favorite spring things of our city:

Favorite Restaurant: Bonterra
I adore a delightful patio in the springtime, and even more if it is equipped with patio heaters for those chilly nights. And so I would have to say that the Bonterra patio is hands down my favorite. Look at it - how can you not love it? There are fireplaces and patio heaters and delicious cappuccinos to keep you cozy. They will even pull out lap blankets for the ladies. Luv!

Favorite Ice Cream: Dairy Queen

It's not that Dairy Queen has the best ice cream nor that it is the most original. What I love most about Dairy Queen is it is a perfect walk from our house. We try not to make the trek too often but every now and then, after a brisk walk checking out our neighborhood, on a warm spring evening swinging by Dairy Queen en route home is too much of a temptation and such a delight! I usually order a small hot fudge sundae light on the hot fudge. That way I don't have to eat it while I walk. And the flavors are perfect as it combines their delicious soft serve ice cream with the rich chewy fudge! Yum!! (For those of you who are curious, Jimmy is often a marshmallow or caramel kind of guy).

Favorite Hike: Waterton Park is one of my favorite destinations

I would have to say that Bear's Hump is one of my favorite hikes I have done so far in Waterton mainly for the stunning view. There are those beautiful hikes I haven't done for years and others that I have only been able to read the reviews so far. I wish we had a bit longer summer so we could be guaranteed to always fit in a Waterton weekend!

This pic was one Jimmy and I shot the last time we had done this hike.

Favorite City Trail: Eau Claire to Memorial Drive AND the Douglas Fir Hiking Trails

Please, please let me pick two. It is my story after all. And I don't know how to pick between the two.

You see, Douglas Fir Hiking Trail is accessible along the ridge in Wildwood. It is a gorgeous heavily wooded hiking trail that has these lovely little lookout benches. It is full of roots and shade and a variety of trees. The air is fresh and heavily scented with pine. It is like a mountain trail within the city.

But the walking paths along the bow river are so lovely too. They are more for the leisurely stroll with an iced latte. These trails are filled with people watching, lovely bridges, various festivals and food trucks. The air is heavily scented with a variety of picnic grilled foods cooking. It is the perfect urban walking path.

Favorite Evening Activity: Dining in the backyard

This was a tough one so first I had to narrow it down to only those activities that you can do in the springtime and then I determined what I am most excited for. The conclusion,  I would have to say, is sitting outside to enjoy a home cooked meal. And if we can toss in a little bbq'd something to the meal then I am as happy as a lark!

Favorite Greenhouse: Sunnyside Home and Garden Center

I love heading over to Sunnyside at this time of year. It takes me forever to pick out my plants as I wander up and down the rows. I look at all the beautiful options, check the optimum conditions and hem and haw as to whether it would work on the side bed or in a pot. The smell of the wet dirt. The humidity. The beautiful accents.

I have grown to appreciate the quality of their plants and the staff as well. Some of the lovely workers have recommended beautiful perennials. The plants always grow well and survive year after year. Definitely a favorite if you are in the market for something in particular.

Favorite Pedicure Spot: Ruby's Nails

It is tucked away in this little strip mall. Your typical cheap pedicure spot. But the ladies are always laughing. It doesn't feel like they are talking about you even though you do not understand a word of what they are saying. And rain, snow or sleet - they greet you with a smile, treat you like the $25 pedicure queen you are and will get you out tout suite if you need to!

Favorite Community to Stroll Through: 4th Street (AKA Mission)

I still luv strolling through Mission on a beautiful spring day. There are a couple super cute little shops that I like to hit up - the kind that has little gifties, great hats and unique jewelry. And there are so many lovely little restaurants to pop into for a bite to eat. You can find specialty markets, grocery stores, butchers and more. Coffee shops, banks and art galleries. Really everything you could want in a neighborhood. And I do enjoy strolling through the Lilac Festival which will be here in a couple of weeks. If you haven't been down there in a while, be sure to pop in one sunny day. And if you are up for company . . . you know where to find me!

Favorite Saturday Night Activity: Catching up with Friends

One of the delightful things about spring in Canada is the drastic increase in daylight from those long winter nights. A person feels rejuvenated when you awake to the sun and can enjoy it long into the evening. For those of you who don't experience those long days, you are missing out just a little!

As a result of the longer days and of having a little extra energy, if someone is hosting a bbq or sing song around the fire pit, I am there! We have some fantastic friends in the city and so enjoy spending time with them!

Favorite Summer Food: Watermelon

I already told you all about my summer watermelon obsession so I am sure none of this comes as a surprise. And I have been noticing a resurgence of watermelon summer drink recipes again . . . just might need to give a couple a try this week with the half a watermelon that is sitting in my fridge . Perhaps this little one for a Watermelon Lemonade.

Now, as this is a Muchas Gracias Monday, take a moment and comment below about one of your favorite things for spring. I would love some ideas of what else to be sure to take in around town or what I need to do the next time I travel to your part of the world at this time of year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sneak Peak

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Summer livin'

Love love love meeting gorgeous friends for brunch as they show off their new hair cut and we sit in the sun enjoying good food good conversation and above all else good friendship!

Luv u my friend!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Going fishing at the mall . . .

It is always funny what an effect that warm weather has on our city. And last night, while flipping through a magazine at the local Starbucks, I was able to enjoy some of that effect.

I wish I was a better sketcher as I would take the time to draw you a picture. Instead I must do it using words so sit back, and try to conjure an image of:

A greying man in his 60's or a bit older. His grey/white hair is a little bit crazy - not sure that he has taken the time to comb it yet. He has a big burly beard to go with it. The beard is long enough that it covers over the top of his neck. He is wearing black shorts that are a touch shorter than knee length and is pulling one of those black canvas wheeled basket/bag with the metal frame contraptions (the type you see people using to cart their heavy purchases home from the store). Then I notice his shirt. Oh here is where it gets good: his big hairy belly is poking out underneath a khaki fishing vest (the kind with all the pockets) as it's apparently too hot to wear a shirt. He has the vest fastened by a single buckle across his chest. As you picture this, make sure you crop the front to the top of the belly. Lots of room for your hip waders to fit if you were wearing hip waders. Don't forget that summer just arrived last weekend so the belly is bright white and the curly stomach hair is mostly silver. These type of vests don't tend to have collars and this one was no exception. But the plunging vee was accentuated with the frolicking chest hair curling up and around. I guess it is enough to satisfy the no shirt no service rule that most stores abide by. Maybe?

Aunty Elaine - I sure do hope that Uncle Leon busts out with an outfit like this sometime this summer! It was hot!!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Most Influential Book about Food

The question was recently asked what book about food was the most influential in my life. I drew a complete blank and found myself feeling a bit embarrassed. Book about food? Here I am calling myself a foodie and I don't know that I have ever read a food book.

Combing through the memory I then thought - should I lie and break out a 'Julia Child' comment? Maybe I could say I don't recall the author but it was a book I stumbled on during my travels in France or Spain. NO! I cannot lie.

Then a memory came to me. A memory of sitting on the couch at my parents house surrounded by cookbooks, Company's Coming cookbooks usually.

Oh how I would comb through those cookbooks looking for something new to try. Some way to spice up ground beef into something other than chili. A new dessert to make for dinner on those hot summer days when Dad and Gramps were putting in late hours in the field.

Good ole Jean Pare. Her 'blouse' choice for the back cover photo was always the same shade as the cover. Her little quips about why this was a good recipe or telling a good joke. Her ingredients could usually be found in the farm pantry. Her food was rarely too spicy. With help from both my mom and Jean, I thought I could tackle the world. The recipes were my oyster. I spent hours looking at her  food photos and attempting to make something as pretty as hers was.

And here I am 25 years later, with my very own collection of Jean Pare cookbooks that are tucked away. I find myself choosing not to head my father's wisdom of never trying something new when company comes. After all, I gave that guac a whirl last weekend and it was a desperate fail. Oops.

You see, through an unrelated circumstance, I had cause to rearrange my cookbooks a couple of weekends ago and it was bittersweet. I moved my whole collection of Company's Coming cookbooks into that awkward shallow cupboard over the fridge. The one that stores those items that you need to pull down once or twice a year. The 30 something me only crack the cover every x amount of months. I cannot tell you the last recipe I made from one of those books.

I realized how much I had grown as a cook. How those 'hard recipes' are now dishes I make without a recipe at all. My palate has changed and as a result so has my pantry. I am drawn to curries and chilies. And through it all, Jean Pare no longer plays a prominent role in my kitchen. But she is still there. She is there as I evaluate whether a recipe will work or not. She is there as I make the basics. She is with me as I think of all the ways I can do chicken or fondues or muffins.  She continues to inspire me to set a beautiful table. She continues to challenge me to constantly grow as a cook.

How about all of you? What was the most influential book about food in your growth as a cook?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Many of my friends tease me when Kelly Hrudey comes on TV; they like to call him my boyfriend. I will admit that I did have a girl hood crush on him! I will also admit that the sight of his little chubby cheeks is still a pleasant change over many of the other sports broadcasters. And just maybe, I tend to sit a little straighter and look up from whatever I am doing when I hear his voice. I also will not lie that if I see a link mentioning his name, I tend to click on it.

Well today there was a link on facebook posted by a friend that I respect. A friend that doesn't tend to link to foolish pictures or sensationalized news stories. A link that mentioned Kelly Hrudey's name. As I followed that link it took me to an article in which Hrudey was sharing the story of his daughter's mental illness. Reading it, my heart broke for their family as they talked about the struggles (she was 10 when it started - that is the age of my oldest nephew . . . ) and rejoiced as they talked about the victories (she is now 20 and she has learned to cope to an extent that allows her to live a full life). And my respect (and my hockey crush) grew a little bit more.

So when there was a knock on our door this evening and Jimmy sent me to answer (apparently he has determined that pajama pants are not an appropriate wardrobe choice when opening the door to a stranger) and it was the Mental Health organization canvassing and Jimmy's wallet was right by the door - I will admit I had to stop and take a breath and donate only some of the money in the wallet - not all of it.

Mercies - well played mental health, well played.

In all honesty though - I didn't think twice about wanting to donate. I applaud the campaigns that they have undertaken to normalize mental illness. To make it okay to talk about. To take away the shame. To allow others to hold their head up high and share about those illnesses the same way we share a broken leg or cancer with our support network. To tear away the shame and embarrassment and realize that mental health is important.

So if someone comes to your door looking for a donation; if the grocery store asks if you can spare a dollar, if there is someone at the mall - regardless of whether you think Kelly is cute - maybe you can spare a dollar or two to provide easier access to help for all those suffering.

And you gotta admit, Kelly is pretty cute! It's those goalies - they get the best of me every time!

An evening of jazz

Apparently April is Jazz appreciation month in Calgary! How I missed that, I do not know. Other than Calgary seems to be terrible at advertising certain things so unless you have someone in the know, you can miss out on a lot of fun events.

And once Maydelin caught word that I was going to be back in town, she wasted no time in reaching out to me to ensure we met up.

Since Maydelin is one of those in the know, well I am sure you can all deduct exactly where this is headed.

Within a day we had a lovely evening date planned for a night of jazz at the new Wine-Oh's cellar.

The weekend had been so much fun leading up to this; the day had included gorgeous sunshine and a walk with Shan; I had purchased a fun new tomato container for the counter; Jimmy was settled in enjoying play off hockey without anyone bugging him; even the guy who yelled at me, called me an idiot and proclaimed I was wasting my money for paying for parking on a Sunday (it isn't 1984 anymore sir; we do have to pay for parking in many of Calgary's parking lots 7 days of the week) couldn't dampen my spirits.

And so in I went. I settled into a seat close to the front. Was admiring the gorgeous pearl white upright bass. Grabbed a water while I perused the menu for what little treat I wanted to order in place of supper. Before long my friend strolled in and proceeded to tell me the entire band are her friends. See - she really is someone in the know!

We proceeded to catch up on snippets of our lives while listening to such a lovely set list that included a really fun piece composed by the pianist and my favorite of the night, a song one of the artists wrote for his six year old daughter.

It was such a perfect night!

Monday, May 06, 2013

the joy of being home
party errands
yummy mexican ingredients
finding the perfect piñata
turning the house into a fiesta
dinner in
squeezing limes
spicy brownies
lots of friends
the bike gang
delicious food
loads of laughter
red poncho with a matching sombrero
washing dishes
sleeping in
lazy mornings
coffee in the sunshine
quick visits with good friends
bumpy's latte
browsing a paper store
enjoying our city's commemoration for those who fought for our freedom
expensive but stunning bridges
meeting gents from Ireland on a $26 bike
so excited for sunshine you can barely stand it
hugs, hugs, hugs
spring flowers
backyard planning
summer breezes
opening up the house after a long winter
booking details for a layover in Texas
play off hockey

Friday, May 03, 2013

It's Friday

And so I thought it just might be time for another 7 Quick Takes Friday

I had to jump on a quick call at the airport and so plopped down in a relatively empty waiting area. As I was on the phone the seats around me started to fill up. You know when you can sense you don't belong but are too distracted to figure it out at the moment?  That was the sense I was getting. Suddenly the gate agent came on the speakerphone announcing the boarding groups for Cozumel. It all became crystal clear - I wasn't fitting in as I was not wearing flip flops, a sundress, sporting a straw hat nor carrying a beach bag. My charcoal dress pants, black dress shirt and big ole laptop bag was a dead giveaway. No wonder everyone was looking at me. . .
Who needs Cozumel though? Certainly not us - as I am rushing home to Calgary to prep for our little gathering we are hosting tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo (yes - my Spanish is good enough to realize that tomorrow is not cinco but rather quatro - but Sunday's we all get a little lazy)!
It has been a while (Christmas I guess) since we hosted an evening and so I have spent a little bit of time over the last three weeks planning. Looking for the perfect recipes. Trying to find delicious punch ideas. Hunting for those simple yet stunning decorating ideas. I think I have the menu:
  • the best guacamole you will ever have (Amendment: not the best guacamole I have ever had --> it may call for one onion but it really needs more like a 1/4 of an onion, taste and add more as desired)
  • some pulled chicken tacos (Amendment: HUGE HIT and SUPER EASY)
  • Mexican brownies - of course (Amendment: Also a huge hit!!!!)
  • Honeydew Agua Fresca (Amendment: Not a huge seller initially - I think mostly because of the poor presentation; if you have raspberries and mint frozen in ice cubes and poor a little sparkling water in  to thin it a bit you would have a contender)
Quite excited!
So Jimmy and I have been trying to prep our avocados for tomorrow. I always have struggled with getting ripe avocados or having them ripen in time. I stumbled across this article (when I was reading the recipe for the best guacamole) and discovered that if you put them in a brown paper bag, they will ripen quicker. I guess the science is that fruit emits a certain gas which helps it to ripen. The more fruit emitting the gas, the more quickly they will ripen and this is what helps entire orchards or grove of trees to have ripe fruit at the same time. So by placing multiple avocado in the paper bag - the gasses are trapped and the fruit will ripen quicker. (Apparently bananas are super gaseous - kinda like a certain nephew I have - so if you toss a banana in there it will speed the process up even more).
As I was explaining this to Jimmy, he remembers his mom doing this with tomatoes from her garden. There just might be something behind this tale . . .
And so we tried it - unripe avocados purchased; paper bagged for 5 days; fridge to store so that they won't ripen anymore. I will let you know how we did!
Once Jimmy is finished work, we are going to run all our errands tonight so that tomorrow I can cook and decorate. On our list are two different Mexican grocers. I haven't been to either before so I hope they are as fun as I am imagining them. I have no idea what they will have - my hope is nacho chips that are not your regular Hostess brand variety, some lovely homemade salsas, big bunches of cilantro, Serrano chilies (If you were coming pops, I would tone down the spice, but since you aren't - I am hoping to find the hottest of Serrano's) and Mexican chocolate. If possible, I would love to pick up some empanadas as well.
I introduced Jimmy to empanadas in Majorca - not sure if it was the little café we were in, the fresh sea air, or the fact that I was in vacation mode - but those were the best empanadas I have ever had. The pastry was so very flaky. The filling was spiced to perfection - lean beef and chicken heavily flavored as they were roasted, ground up fine and fine with bits of herbs, veggies and chilies. Oh soooo very delicious they were.
I was going to try and make my own but pastry still makes me nervous. One of those silly fears because I have never actually tried it. I like to blame the fact that I don't have a good rolling pin so most definitely would not make good pie without a better rolling pin. Ha! That has to be it? Right? Certainly not that the scariest things are those that are left untried. But after all those stories of women fresh in their marriages failing at the very thing their husband was most excited for . . . a fresh piece of homemade pie . . . and burying the hard as a rock pastry out in the yard only for the dog to dig it up but even he wouldn't eat it . . . you know the kind of stories found in Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons or Anne of Green Gables series. Someone has to be with me on this one? Anyone? No?? Okay - maybe I just need to stare crisco in the eye and give it a go. Surely a little pie crust can't get the best of me!
Speaking of Anne of Green Gables, we are going with friends one of these next few weekends and I am very excited. I have never been to a live Anne production but oh I did love the movies. Dad and I need to have another Christmas movie date I think and watch them again! I am sure the boys are not quite as excited but that's okay. 99% of date nights really aren't for them anyways. They are the obligatory events they need to attend so they can sneak off on golf weekends, stay out late after playing hockey or justify the fact that tsn, tsn2 and sportsnet are playing on every tv in the house!
On another Anne topic, did you hear there is a new Anne of Green Gables? I was watching this TV interview in which a friend of mine was a guest panel and they showed a picture of her. She is blonde! And super cute! With no freckles! That cannot be right - can it?? Did they do any research at all - she has to have red hair and freckles for alas those two features are her nemesis. It is those traits that plummet her to the depths of despair and find her soul pining to look more like fair haired Jane or the dark haired buxom beauty Dianna! Harumpf - not happy about this - not happy at all!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Out and About

I took a couple hours after work and before packing to explore the little area around the hotel just like I promised you that I would!

And you want to know what I found??

  • Girls walking their dogs
  • Men taking their convertibles out for a cruise
  • Daring boys riding their beautiful bikes
  • Antique stores
  • Dollar giants
  • The chocolate factory that everyone raves about
  • Beautiful old bridge
  • Flowering trees
  • Barber shops and Hairtiques (not so sure but go with it . . . )
  • Gorgeous old churches
  • Victorian homes
  • Narrow little streets
  • Pizza places
  • War Memorials
  • A big ole lumber yard
  • Teeny tiny hospital
Unfortunately some of the best sights were not so easy to take pictures of so you will have to settle for the trees and the bridge once I get them loaded onto a computer!

And of course, I ended the night with a little ole' Wendy's chocolate frosty . . . how else do you celebrate a beautiful summer evening on a Thursday night when you have nothing else to do!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Keeping up on the road

Wednesday's aren't just a fantastic morning (thanks to my oatmeal) but they are usually pretty good nights to. Why you wonder? Do I get oatmeal for supper? Is Wednesday the night that I find money? Do I book myself in for a massage?

No to all of those - it is even better.

Wednesday's are the nights, that if possible, Jimmy and I try hard to have a Law & Order date. It's pretty fun to watch a tv show we both like, thousands of miles apart while texting each other back and forth! We guess who did it? What the motives are? Whose crazier than who?

And tonight was one of those nights.

Now - if you thought that was enough to make any night a great night - add in a phone date with my bestest of friends Julie, during which we laughed more than we chatted. And add in shooting quick texts to friends to see what is new and let them know I am thinking of them. AND add in a delightful dinner of salad and fresh corn bread eaten outside on the back patio at the hotel in the beaming sunshine with the temperature gauge reading a lovely 22 degrees.

And that my friends, is how I keep up with others on the road.

If you let it - travelling for work can be incredibly isolating. So now you know how I try to encourage my cheer!

This was the view on the back patio while I was eating my supper - that might also have a little something to do with my cheer tonight . . . gosh it is good seeing flowers outside again!

Oatmeal day

Hands down, Wednesday is my favorite morning at the hotel...

And this is why: