Curl up in front of the TV, winter is coming

The weather outside is definitely starting to turn and there are even rumors of snow in the next few days. Gosh I hope those are wrong; but the inevitable is bound to come, this is Canada after all. Colder weather means a couple things those ski bunnies will be hitting the mountains most weekend but for those not skilled in downhill skiing it means more nights in cuddled up in front of the TV. I’ve recently been exposed a few new shows and thought I’d share my nights in TV list with you all. Knowing my Netflix library of these shows won’t last all winter, I am open to some suggestions, so share your favorite series below.

  • house of cardsHouse of Cards – How the heck have I never heard of this politico drama until now still amazes me. If you are looking for a pretty intense political drama full of twists, turns and suspense this is the show for you.
  • mindy projectMindy Project – The ladies will love this one. It follows a 30 something doctor around on her quests for the perfect husband. It is hilarious! Some vino and this show, equals the perfect girls night in.
  • SuitsSuits – Two words: Harvey Specter.
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Banff Subaru Triathlon – Race Recap

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Post Race at the finish line

Last week I conquered a fear and checked another item off my 101 bucket list. I’ve spent the past few months chronicling my training for my first Tri, specifically my struggles with the swim, but I am so proud to report that I did it! It wasn’t easy, and I won’t sugar coat my recount but I did it!

The day before race day:
I was a barrel of nerves, and definitely had an anxiety attack in fear I was going to be late to check in, and to drop off my bike off at T1, subsequently being disqualified before even having the opportunity to start. It’s hard for me to admit but there may have been tears in said anxiety attack. I got my emotions under control and we made Banff with time to spare. Of course we did though; the control freak side of me had left an ample buffer. I got checked in, picked up my green swim cap indicating to race officials I was a nervous swimmer (which I really had to check my ego for), and got my bike to T1 making it back in time for the mandatory race meeting.

I woke up bright and early gathered my stuff and met Adrienne for breakfast. Together we headed to set up our stuff at T2, hoped the shuttle bus and headed to the start at Two Jack Lake. Throughout the morning I was surprisingly calm, chatting up other racers as we all waited for the announcement it was time to head to the water.

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Two Jack Lake

The Swim:
We waited around T1 for a couple hours before the call came for us to get ready to head down to the water. The lake was beautiful, honestly picturesque and my photo doesn’t really do it justice. The announcer indicated the water was only 13 degrees and the Olympic distance would be shortened, I was disappointed our distance (the sprint) wasn’t. The buoys looked so much further than 500m, I was sure they misjudged the distance.

Excitement was building as the male sprint heat got in the water to start. Holy crap our heat was next, there was no turning back now. There I was at the edge of the water, wet suit and green cap on ready to go. Next thing you know we are all “swimming”, I put the quotations because where I started in the pack it wasn’t really swimming; it was frantic gasping for survival at best. I couldn’t catch my breath at all, and felt like my wet suit was choking me. I was terrified. The swim was the most chaotic thing I’ve ever participated in. I actually didn’t do one proper stroke the entire time. People were hitting me, and splashing water on me, I just couldn’t calm down. I even yelled at someone to beat it. I feel bad now looking back and know they were probably in just as bad, if not worse spot then I was but her panic and struggle really wasn’t helping my situation. I did my best to get away from her. When I looked around people were swimming in every which direction, it was quite the experience. Throughout the swim I thought of quitting several times… SEVERAL. Somehow though through a lot of self talk I kept with it and what felt like hours turned out to be 16 minutes of my life.

The Bike:tri banff2
When I got to shore, I was so freaking happy! The announcer kept advising the swimmers coming in to swim as far in as they could before standing up, but as soon as  able to stand I did. I was just so darn happy to be able to stand and not to be struggling that I didn’t listen to his advice. When I got out of the water I’m sure I was beaming. Unfortunately, by the time I got to my bike and out of my wet suit I had forgotten all the transition advice I’d been given.

I hit the bike with a fury, because this is where I really wanted to make up some time.  With each person I passed the more excited and energy I seemed to get. I just kept setting a goal to pass the next person in front of me. It was awesome. Then at about the 10 km mark my chain fell off – ugh. I don’t know how to fix a fallen chain, so I just got off my bike and started pushing it. As I was pushing  my bike everyone I’d passed started to pass me back – damn it. I yelled to a spectator biking in the opposite direction if he knew how to put my chain back on, luckily he did and he pulled over to help. Gosh, am I ever grateful to him. He helped me and I was back in the race. I had to work my tail feather off to catch and repass the people I had originally passed.  The bike route was gorgeous, with just enough hills to keep things interesting. As we got closer to Banff town center I knew the bike portion was just about over and I worked to finish the bike strong.

The Run:
When I finally reached T2, I racked my bike and was surprised to see my support group right across my transition area. I was thrilled, but rather disorientated. I could hear them cheering and sending words of encouragement but it was kind of a blur due to exhausting and excitement.  I got out of my bike shoes, into my runners and was away. As I exited T2 and started my run I saw my Adrienne coming to the end of her run. She totally killed it. The run was nice and my legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected. I finished my run in 26 min.

run banffComing into the finish was such a wicked feeling that is really hard to put into words. I crossed the finish line at 1:35:12. All and all, this was one of the coolest things I’ve done. It was a lot of hard work, but I had some pretty great people in my corner supporting me throughout. I am so thankful for that email with the title “sign up now” and for my spontaneous nature because who knows if I would have completed this race otherwise. I raised money for a very deserving cause, found a new hobby, and made some great friends.

Now on to the next challenge…

XoXo

AmysSignature

 

banff subaru

Picking my bike up post race… nothing but smiles

 

Post-Summer Thoughts

September 1st happened today. It is bittersweet. I love summer. I enjoy the heat, the adventures, long weekends, bbq’s with friends, and tanned boys. Summer makes me feel like I’m somewhat care-free and have no schedule to adhere to. While I sometimes enjoy that, I tend to crave routine.

I have so many goals or things that I want to accomplish this fall/winter. Probably because September seems more like the beginning of a new year than January does. And who sticks to their NYE resolutions anyway?

I would love to take a few classes to learn how to cook better, or maybe learn how to sew and knit fun things. I want to join a sports league, go to the gym everyday and make healthy meals. I would love to be more invovled in my church, read meaningful books, and volunteer.

Are you tired thinking about all those things? I am.

I have so many ideas floating around in my head! Did I mention I also want to discover YouTube fame and wear purple lipstick everyday?

Amy is moving in with me this month and we have been so excited discussing all the new things we want to get after. I hope we can laugh along the way when things don’t really go the way we’ve envisioned in our heads. Life is too unpredictable to take every little detail so seriously.

I want encourage you to find something that makes you smile and get after it this season. It could turn out to be the worst idea or you’ll find something that inspires you for a long time.

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Just some of my thoughts this Labour Day.

xo

DIY Crayon Lipstick

This is a very cool DIY that I got from Pinterest and YouTube! I was skeptical at first, as I am not one to take on crafty projects and find much success. However, I have been using my little pot of crayon lipstick every day since!

Here’s what you need:

–> Coconut Oil

–> Crayola Crayons (This brand is non-toxic)

–> Glass jar (not in pic)

–>Small containers (try the dollar store)

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Here are the colours I tried! My absolute favourite is the pink/red one.  The purple I made a little too thick and did not quite turn out the way I anticipated…

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Steps:

1.  Heat up a couple inches of water in a pot and place the small jar in the middle

2. Cut up the crayon into peices and take the wrapping off

3. Measure out 1 tsp of coconut oil into the jar and let it melt

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4. Add 1 crayon and stir until they are melted

5. Pour into little containers and put in the fridge

6. Voila!!

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Notes:

If you use the 1 crayon to 1 tsp of coconut oil ratio, you get a nice sheer gloss.  I found this to be the best combo in all the different ways I tried!

Let me know if you try this and what you think!!

xo

 

 

 

The Basics: Brushes

Makeup brushes can be pretty important when using various products. It may seem minor, but once I started buying them I was hooked.  Did you know you can buy a luxury powder brush for $70!? I used to find that really insane, but now it’s what my dreams are made of…
Where to start!?

I would suggest you need the following brushes to start:

-Flat shader brush –> This is to apply eyeshadow over your entire lid

-Crease brush –> I have probably 5 of these and always on the lookout for more. They are big and fluffy and meant to blend colour into your crease

-Foundation Brush –> I will write an entire post on this. But I like using a brush waay better than slapping it on my face…unless I’m in a rush of course. TIP: most makeup sponges absorb too much of the product!

-Blush & Bronzer brush –> Essential. I like spending a little extra money on these brushes because it feels like a treat when they are high quality.

Where can I buy brushes?!

Walmart/London Drugs –> These places carry my absolute favourite line of brushes. The line feels very high end, but don’t cost half your life and it’s called Real Techniques. They are created by makeup artist sisters who have a very helpful YouTube channel to give you amazing makeup tips. TIP! Check Winners for these brushes! I have bought a few from there for an amazing price.

Another line is Eco Tools. They have some great eye shadow brushes to make applying very easy and affordable.

Sephora –> The first nice brushes I ever got were a gift from my mom and I still use them. To get the best value, I recommend buying a set to start. Or if you have some already, Sephora also has a range of single brushes. A great thing is that they offer lower end and higher end varities. Remember…if the product turns out to be terrible, you can return it!

http://realtechniques.com/

Check out the link and get familiar with different brushes!

Happy shopping xo

 

 

Belly Laughs

belly laughWe’ve all had them at one time, and they are probably one of the best feelings in the world. The dictionary describes it as “deep hearty laugh”. Today I had a belly laugh so loud that my coworker even commented saying she has never heard me laugh so hard. After that, I realized I probably haven’t laughed like that in quite some time, and it felt good! Life can get pretty crazy or stressful with so many things pulling us in various directions that we rarely stop to really appreciate the little things like a belly laugh with a close friend. I often find myself running from one place to the next with my calendar often being double or even tripled booked – ridiculous I know. The result is always the same, one way ticket to burnout ville and me. For a lot of people though it’s more than just needing to recharge their batteries.

Today a comedian that we all knew and love died at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide. Articles online are reporting that Robin Williams had been suffering of depression. Over the past few years I have seen an increase in campaigns such Bell Let’s Talk which hopes to build mental health awareness, and alleviate some of the stigma. Depressionhurts.ca says “1 in 10 Canadians will experience an episode of major depressive disorder (the diagnosis given to those suffering from depression) during their lifetime”. This is one statistic I didn’t know until today, 1 in 10 is a staggering number and means many people close to us or even us could experience depression at some point in our lives. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy or something bad to happen to get us talking about something that is so prevalent. I am neither a doctor, nor a psychologist but I am going to start focusing on my own mental health, do my research, watch for signs and be there in case any of my friends or family needs a set of ears. I am not naïve enough to suggest a simple belly laugh is the cure, but I do know that when I’m down and feeling beat up it helps me. This isn’t my typical post but I wrote this in effort to contribute to the conversation.

If you want to learn more about depression here are a couple links to get you starts:

Bell Let’s Talk

Depressionhurts.ca

Canadian Mental Health Association

Hugs

AmysSignature

 

A taste of Spain: Ox & Angela

One of the best experiences in my life was spending six weeks in different areas of Spain. The people I encountered and culture I witnessed were beyond what I ever expected.  I was especially impressed by how they use lunch and dinner as a way to create community.  Rarely did I go out for dinner with a large group and be done in less than 3-4 hours. People don’t rush to order their meal, rather multiple people order small plates throughout the night to keep the options lighter and the conversation flowing. It was a refreshing experience.

I am always on the hunt for a great tapas restaurant. I’ve been obsessed with that style of meal ever since my European travels. My good friend was the one to introduce me to Ox and Angela here in Calgary.  I thought it was too good to be true that my new city had not only a tapas menu, but a dedicated Spanish menu! I was in heaven.

I have waited to go there again and had the luxury of taking my sister who came to visit me. It was the perfect atmosphere to catch up and enjoy every bite of food.

We heavily relied on our lovely server to lead us through some of the best dishes on the menu.  We also used him for an amazing wine recommendation.

Pan con tomate with fried goat cheese

Pan con tomate with fried goat cheese

We knew we needed fried goat cheese in our lives (fried cheese is a no brainer) and as much as we were confident we could eat it by itself, we were told to get an order of the pan con tomate to accompany it.
This combo is perfect for sharing with up to four people. Luckily it was only my sister and I so we could each have two toasts. The goat cheese flavour was not too overpowering, so if you aren’t normally a fan I would encourage you to step out and give this a try. I’m still dreaming about it.

We then moved onto the pan-friend mushrooms on toasted bread, poached egg, and truffle. It was a flavour experience to say the least. You cannot miss out on this. We tried our best to eat it slowly, but no luck!

 

Next up, the spicy merguez lamb sausage sauteed with apricot, sherry and mustard. We did not grab a shot of this one since the picture could not do it justice. It had a good kick to it, but it was best paired with a little bit of the apriocot with each bite.

 

Of course we made room for dessert.  This was a dark chocolate salted almond torte. It was rich, but the dark chocolate was the perfect balance of sweetness that we needed to end this delicious meal.

 

El Porron - The Spanish Wine Pitcher

El Porron – The Spanish Wine Pitcher

 

I can’t leave out the wine. From his recommendation, we ordered the Borie de Maurel Esprit d’Automne. I could have butchered that name, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to find a way to order this smooth red wine.

The coolest part is how they serve it in the Spanish version of a decanter! Our server explained it is used a lot at festivals or gatherings where caring is sharing!

 

Do yourself a favour and check out Ox & Angela.  Perfect for a first date, small gathering, or a unique food experience.

http://www.oxandangela.com/

Love xox

 

 

 

 

On top of the world – Hiking in Alberta

It is no secret that I enjoy escaping the city to go hiking, which makes sense since I’m blessed to live near the Rocky Mountains. Hiking is probably one of my favorite summer activities, nothing beats spending a day in the fresh air, hiking to a spectacular view only to enjoy lunch and cold beer. I remember how intimidated I was my first hike; I didn’t know where to start or really what all I needed to carry with me. Like anything hiking is one of those things that gets easier with time and experience. The more you do and the more people you talk to the more tips and tricks you’ll pick up along the way. Living in Calgary we have a lot of trail options that it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to do. I tend to go off recommendations from other hiking enthusiasts, or check Trail Peak. I decided to put together a small list of hikes I’ve done to get you started.

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Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lakes – This hike is beautiful! It is family friendly and good for all fitness levels. We wandered off the path a little bit so we could get closer to the waterfall which was worth it. On a nice day, you will probably see some rock climbers.
Directions: From downtown Canmore. Take the route to the Nordic Center and follow the signs to the Grassi Lake parking lot where you will meet up directly with the trail head

Heart Mountain – I tried this one for the first time this past weekend. There are a couple variations to this hike. Heart Creek Trail; which a super easy family friendly hike good for all fitness levels. As you enter the 20140804-152927-55767517.jpgtrail head you’ll walk until you come to a sign then make a right towards Heart Creek Trail. The trail ends at a small waterfall where you can sit and relax. This trail is busy. We made it to the waterfall in no time and realized we went the wrong way and back tracked to the sign where the trail splits and went left to Heart Mountain. This one was not for the faint of heart. Lots of loose rock and with a fairly difficult scramble. Overall it was a great workout with a good view, so I’d do it again especially since it’s so close to Calgary.

Directions: take the Exit 105 for Lac des Arc. From Calgary, take exit 105 then turn left, go over highway, turn on gravel road that leads to parking lot. From Canmore take exit 105 & turn right onto gravel road into parking lot. Now you even have washrooms. It’s recommended NOT to park on the side of the highway as many people have been ticketed.


Ha Ling Peak
– This was my very first hike! It has an amazing view, and is definitely worth the effort. It’s pretty steep, and feels like a continuous incline with very little flat spots. The last bit to the summit is a scramble, and is a little scary when you come down as there is a lot of loose shale. Once you make the summit, there are quite a few nooks with outstanding views of Canmore which makes the grind completely worth it.

Directions: Drive to Canmore Alberta. Drive up highway #742, the Smith-Dorrien-Spray Lakes Trail towards the Canmore Nordic Centre. Continue past the turn-off for the Nordic Centre, keeping to the left. Continue on the gravel and park in the Goat Creek Parking Lot

 

Crypt 1

Entering the cave at Crypt

Crypt – My favorite hike to date, it blew my mind and lived up to expectations. We headed to Waterton for a camping weekend with the sole purpose of doing this hike. This hike has everything you could ask for in a hike – several waterfalls, a beautiful lake, cave and scaling a cliff. I am not going to lie I found the cave and scaling the cliff to be a little scary. Doesn’t help that I am terrified of heights, but there was no way I was going to let my fear keep me from reaching Crypt Lake. You access the trail head by taking a ferry, round trip tickets are $20. There are two ferries that run daily. This is a full day hike so be prepared, the day we went was quite warm and we ran out of water on our way down, which is never good. Definitely pack a bathing suit, we didn’t know that you could swim and were surprised to see everyone else seem to have gotten that memo and were jumping in to cool off.

Directions: From Calgary take highway south 2 to Fort MacLeod (183 km/115 mi.). From Fort MacLeod, go West on Highway 3 (50 km/31 mi.). Head south through Pincher Creek on Highway 6 (56 km/35 mi.).

A couple things you should check prior to heading out:

  • Weather conditions; you’ll want to make sure you pack plenty of water for warm weather especially if the trail is exposed to a lot of sunlight. Layering your clothes is never a bad idea, the weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared.
  • Trail report; it is a good idea to check the trail report for a couple reasons. Post 2012 flood some of the trails are still damaged or being worked on. You’ll also find wildlife warnings and potential trail closures due active wildlife activity in the area (bears & cougars). It’s not a bad idea to pack bear spray.
  • What you take up, take down with you. Do not leave your trash!

Have fun & be safe out there
Crypt 2

AmysSignature

 

 

Unique Wedding Gift Ideas

If you are a late twenty-something chances are you are spending your summer at wedding after wedding. Watching your friends say “I do” is a blast but can sometimes be repetitive, especially in the gift giving department (envelope full of money anyone?). While you don’t want to be THAT person who goes rogue and completely misses the mark in terms of the gift, there is something to be said about going the extra mile to give a thoughtful present. Here are some fun, out-of-the-box ideas for wedding presents this summer:

Airline Gift Certificate: Who doesn’t love the gift of travel? Help your friends out on their next trip (honeymoon or otherwise) by giving them a gift certificate for a vacation. Your friends will appreciate having that money around the next time they want to plan a getaway!

Night out on their honeymoon: If you know the couple has booked their honeymoon, why not plan the ultimate night out for them? Keep it as a surprise until the night of and treat them to a night on the town completely paid for and worry free!

Chip in for a wedding extravagance: If you know the bride and groom REALLY want that ultra pricey photographer or that awesome DJ, why not get a group together to help pay for it? They will get exactly what they want without feeling like they are going over their wedding budget.

“Homemade” Gifts: If you feel like money is the way to go, give a little something small that is extra special and personal. Etsy has tons of creative ideas and items you can purchase for very little!

If all else fails, you know that you can get them that Vitamix on their registry! That works too 🙂

Enjoy wedding season! I know I will!

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Lots of love,

ErinSignature

Koi: Funky & Delicious

At one point in my life I equated healthy food with less than delicious food, and use to be so perplexed on how someone could possibly be full without a mound of potatoes or ample servings of bread with their dinner. Obviously I couldn’t have been further from the truth. This journey from eating whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like, to being a bit more conscious about what I eat has been a long and challenging one. By no means am I a clean eater and will probably never be and for me I think that is ok. Growing up I played a lot of competitive sports so between that and being blessed with a fairly good metabolism I could crush burgers, garlic fingers and ice cream without much thought. Now, the more I get into multi sports and endurance racing I’ve been trying to change my set and look at what I eat as fuel. Which can make eating out tricky especially when you love going for dinner with friends as much as I do. Luckily I’ve found a couple places in Calgary that offer nutritious guilt free menu’s.  

I first stumbled on Koi about two years ago, and have been going back regularly ever since. Koi is a funky gem along 1st SW. Supporting the Calgary Arts scene in a big way. They offer local artist their wall space to exhibit their work. Looking to shake up date night? This spot is perfect, as they offer a variety of off the beaten path entertainment, check their schedule for more details.

 

Buddha Burger with Yam Wedges

Buddha Burger with Yam Wedges

While all the above is sweet it’s the food that keeps me going back. The menu is filled with Asian-fusion dishes that blend the culinary flavors of China, Korea, and Japan. Many items offer the option of Vegetarian, Vegan or Gluten Free. My latest kick is the Buddha Burger. If you would have asked me two-five years ago that I’d be drooling for at veggie burger I would have probably laughed in your face, but this handmade black bean patty with caramelized onions, beets, spinach and peashoots is out of this world. I dip it in the sauce that comes with the yam wedges which sends this dish right into flavor town. If your mouth is watering I suggest checking it out during happy hour where you save on bowls or during ‘Vegelicious Monday’ where you save $2 on vegetarian / vegan entrées.

Happy Eating!

AmysSignature