Category Archives: Fam Jams

Salmon Arm, the Last Leg (/arm)

When we woke up in our mountain paradise on Monday it was raining, which was fine, as we suspected this might happen and I had the good sense to put the fly on our tent before I went to bed the night before (which I am surprised about, because I was drunk). And it was also fine because it would have been a lot harder to leave this…

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had it been sunny and hot like the past two days. So we packed up our stuff, hugged everyone goodbye, and got on the road.

It’s only about an hour from Revelstoke, where we were, to Salmon Arm, where my mom is. So this is why the trip worked out so perfectly for me. We were already going to Revelstoke so to get Lisa to drive me an extra hour to my mom’s was no big D. And, as driving anywhere in BC is, it was beautiful.

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We got to my mom’s around noon, Lisa hung around for a bit to see her, and then my mom and I had a quiet day in while it rained outside. And I napped, that was key. We went out for Chinese in the evening with my Uncle Donny and Aunt Barb, so it was really great I could see them, too. I was only out west for five days but I was just fitting everyone in! I also ran some errands with my mom on Tuesday morning and went out for coffee with some of her friends, so that was cute.

My mom found a story book that I had written and drawn pictures for when I was in Grade 2, and I was pretty excited to find this picture in there:

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Appropriate. I like how everything in the picture is in pencil crayon, except for the butt crack. That is serious and needs to be defined with black marker. I can remember my teacher at the time and my mom really laughing about this on parent-teacher night. Sometimes I think I liked to push the envelope a bit in school to see what I could get away with…

Anyway. On Tuesday afternoon I walked down to the Salmon Arm wharf by myself. It was like 35 degrees but I had some water and a sweet hat so I was good.

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Salmon Arm is also really pretty. I talked about this on our trip there last year. The mountains are not as big as the mountains in Revelstoke, but mountains are mountains.

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I took this beautiful photo…

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And I put it on Instagram and went to tag the location…and check out the first location result.

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Eric is my brother. His rat lounge is his bedroom at my mom’s, and a big inside joke with his friends. Interestingly, I had just come from there. So, I was not expecting to see that and it made me laugh quite hard. Eric’s Rat Lounge is currently empty though, as Eric is going to school in Kelowna (um, he wants to do his masters in Neuroscience so I am not exactly sure how he’s my sibling) and he’s living in Kelowna with Kenya and his best friend Dixon. Eric and Dixon both had to work Tuesday morning but arrived that afternoon to hang out with us. I was so excited to see them, and even more excited that Eric brought these:

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He is working at Safeway while in school and making all the donuts. I could not do that, or I would be 300lbs. But when donuts are brought to me, I will eat them. All of them (or at least a piece of them all).

There was a pretty crazy storm happening in the afternoon, but after dinner (tacos), there was a bit of a break so I convinced Eric and Dixon to take me to the beach.

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You might remember this beach from last year, when I came with Evan. I was missing Evan and his sass face pretty hard on this trip, but he was working and it was really nice to spend time with just my mom. And my little (but pretty giant) brother.

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And Dixon, who I sort of consider my second brother.

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And who I almost didn’t recognize because of his long luscious locks.

Eric and I jumped in the water and started swimming (I’ll never pass up a chance), but then it was suddenly storming again so we abandoned that mission. Back to the Rat Lounge.

My flight was out of Kelowna in the early afternoon on Wednesday, Canada Day, but the boys drove me a bit early so I could check out their sweet student pad. And for a student pad, it really was sweet. I was impressed. And then it was back to Ontario for me.

I am already missing everyone, but Eric is coming here in a month and my bestie will be here in three weeks, so thankfully not for too long!

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Christmas Came Early!

Hello and welcome to THE BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR! In my opinion anyway. I always find this week to be the busiest every year. Trying to wrap up all the work things before the holidays, squeezing in the weeknight holiday parties (our condo’s Christmas party was last night and that was a hilarious evening filled with bad karaoke but good cheese), holiday baking, and trying to get your own house hostable for parties = busy times. And I don’t even have real responsibilities like children.

But Christmas really did come early this year. After the painting party on Saturday, Evan and I got ready and headed to my dad and Mona’s for our annual Christmas dinner. Just a week and a half early. My dad and Mona are going to Florida for the holidays so we decided to bump up our family celebration.

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It worked out well having it early. We also have Christmas dinners happening with Evan’s family on Christmas and Boxing Day, so I personally enjoy spreading out the turkey love. So do my pants. I have a bit of time to recover before round 2 and then round 3.

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My dad made us all drinks when we arrived. He had quite the Caesar bar going on.

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I love that vodka clamato deliciousness.

Ritson was in his festive gear…

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Santa wasn’t quite staying upright, but he looked like he was having a good ride.

And the kids made a fort in the mound of presents.

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I miss being a kid so much sometimes. And sometimes I feel like I would rather hang out with kids than adults.

The traditional order of activities at my family’s holiday gathering each year is drinks + catch-up – dinner – presents – dessert. Dinner was amazing.

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Yes, mashed potato volcano always.

And that was before I added a giant piece of ham that covered everything on my plate (and by the way Mona, Evan and I were talking afterwards how that might have been the best ham we’ve ever had). God I love Christmas dinner so much. I wonder if I would burn out on it if I ate it every day. I don’t know, but if I was on death row I’m pretty sure that’s what I would request as my last meal.

Mona is a big fan of me being safe while I am out at night, so last year she got me a sneaky siren that attached to my purse and I could pull if I was being harassed (never had to use it, touch wood). This year, she stepped it up:

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A megaphone. A real deal, loud megaphone, complete with a siren. Even better than that little one we were taking around with us in Boston. This may be the best gift I have ever received. I am very excited to try it out (I mean out somewhere, I have been trying it out at home on Evan and Winnie all week, they like it).

Speaking of Evan, he got some really fabulous gifts for the kitchen. His gifts were mostly related to cooking which is PERFECT for him and he genuinely loved them. But I thought it was funny that Evan gets all the kitchen gifts and I get fun things like megaphones. One of his awesome presents was this wonderful breakfast sandwich maker.

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I’m pretty sure everyone was jealous of it. We actually tried it out on Sunday morning…

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Perfect. It works better than expected. If you’re looking for a last minute gift for someone I recommend that thing for sure. Say goodbye to boring breakfasts!

But back to Christmas. Can you tell my dad’s favourite team?

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Is it the Maple Leafs?!

He’s pretty easy to buy for. I told him he needs to bust out that giant hand while he is watching the game alone in his basement. He loves his Habs.

My stepbrother’s girlfriend Leslie and I with our oranges…

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I do not know why…

And dessert:

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Evan’s grandma’s apple cake made by Evan, cupcakes made my Mona’s daughter, fudge made by Leslie, ice cream. All good things.

We had a such a great night. I am thankful that my dad and Mona are so welcoming to Evan, and I always really enjoy hanging with Mona’s family. Mona’s daughter’s husband (so my step brother in law I guess?) makes me laugh pretty hard with his straight-faced dry humour.

Sunday was Emily and Corey’s holiday open house, or the jingle and mingle. And here we have the best thing about the holidays:

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The food tables. Oh lord the food tables. Emily is notorious for her ridiculous food spreads, and I feel like she even stepped it up for the holidays. I planted myself in front of that table and went to town. And that picture was taken before the Oriental Party Pack from M&M’s made an appearance.

Emily and Corey’s doberman Ace was looking cute in his Christmas jammies…

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Onesies look good on everyone.

Evan did not come with me because that man is busy. Poor guy. I feel like the busiest bitch who ever busied this week, and he seems to have a million more things to do than I do. But after I got home from the party we headed out to the majestic forest, also known as the Ikea Christmas tree lot, to FINALLY get our Christmas tree!

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Finally! I feel like we are the last ones to get a tree! I really wanted to go out and cut our own as we did last year, but time was not on our side. The trees all looked the same at Ikea, but I feel like we picked a good one.

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And then we busted out the decorations and discovered that we were not very organized in putting them away last year…

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That was a bit of a tangled mess. Like iPhone headphones times a million. But we got it.

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All is well. And I finally feel ready for the holidays to happen.

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Thanksgiving Weekend

This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving! I have said it before, but I like when our Thanksgiving falls. There is ample time to recover from all the eating before we do it all over again at Christmas.

Evan and I headed to Belleville to celebrate turkey day with his mom and nana. On the way we passed the Big Apple, which I now know is awesome since our stop there on the way to Emily’s bachelorette party in Montreal, so we decided to make a quick detour for pies. You cannot have Thanksgiving without pies. The Big Apple has quite the pie operation going on…

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Where the magic happens

So many pies!

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I wanted to get them all, but we just went with the traditional pumpkin and apple. And also a few apple fritters that we could eat immediately, which actually may have been the best apple fritter I have ever had.

No visit to the Big Apple is complete without a photo in front of said Big Apple.

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We had to take a couple before we got a nice one because Evan found a bulrush. And proceeded to harass me with it.

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Until I snapped the end off.

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We also went over to the petting zoo area to see the animals, and this beautiful lama caught our eye.

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Those are quite the teeth. I thought she was cute though, in her own way.

Eventually we arrived at the Nana’s and had a happy reunion with the family.

 

We hung out for a few hours, chatting and watching the House Hunters International marathon (which makes me feel like I’m doing life wrong), and then it was time for Thanksgiving dinner. Which was amazing. Curry is the tradition at the Nana’s house (you may remember from last year), so she made us all lentils (which Evan also makes pretty often), meatball curry, yellow rice, curried potatoes, greens, ham, and cachumba (tomatoes and onions in vinegar, I think it is an Indian salad and it is very nice when accompanying curry).

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I was insanely full after that but I went back for seconds of just the meatball curry because I couldn’t get enough of it.  I like this curry tradition.

The Nana made apple crisp for dessert, so no need to break out our pie. It was REALLY good and I was just dying of fullness afterwards. We all just lazed around and were in bed by 9pm. But it was a very fun evening with Evan’s family. I am sad his mom and nana are a two hour drive from us, because I would like to see them more often. They make me laugh.

On Sunday we all had breakfast together before heading to Evan’s dad’s place to celebrate with that side of their family. That is where the animals are, you may remember. So we spent the afternoon doing the animal visitation rounds.

Remember Peanut, the little piglet?

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Well, she has grown.

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I got her from all sides so you can fully appreciate her beauty.

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She is large and in charge. And she enjoys oinking constantly.

This is Phil.

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Phil is a turkey, but Phil is not for eating! He is a pet turkey. I don’t think I have ever taken a moment before to truly appreciate how interesting-looking turkeys are…

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So knobby and bumpy and weird looking. His brain looks like it is on the outside of his head.

Phil spends his time stalking the guineafowl. Or maybe it is the gang of guineas who stalk him…

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You will occasionally see the guineas running by if you are inside and happen to glance out the window, and then Phil will be lumbering after them like a big T Rex.

This is Raisin.

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She looks kind of grumpy (and like a muppet) but I think she just suffers from resting bitchface because she is actually a very cuddly chicken.

And then there is this chicken…

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Apparently. That’s what I was told it was.

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They also look angry but are quite nice. Those poor guys had their beaks clipped before they arrived at Evan’s dad and Loulou’s, to deter them from pecking other animals.

This is my favourite donkey Zeke!

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I just love him. He is so nice. We like to tell each other secrets.

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There are also two horses.

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She really wanted in a picture with us.

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After the animal fest it was dinner time. Another great Thanksgiving meal happening over here… All the turkey things!

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I always forget how much I love stuffing. It’s probably good I only eat it a few times a year though, because when it happens I really appreciate it.

I was again full to the point of bursting, so we went back outside for a while before dessert, which was homemade pumpkin pie.

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This was very good pumpkin pie. I don’t even usually like pumpkin pie. Well that’s not true, I like all pie but my order of pie preference is lemon merengue – banana cream – pecan – any kind of fruit – pumpkin. But that pie may have bumped pumpkin up to number two (nothing will ever, ever beat my mom’s lemon merengue pie).

We headed back Sunday night and were home just in time for the Walking Dead, which I was on the edge of my seat for the entire time. Perched on the back of my seat may be more accurate. It was awesome and I was happy with how everything turned out. Yesterday we did a bunch of cleaning and stuff around the house, Evan made ham and split pea soup from leftover ham (OMG so good!), and we actually went to the movies for the first time in about a year to see Gone Girl. I loved it. I thought they did such a good job keeping it close to the book, and the casting was even better than I imagined. Evan really liked it also.

So a very good long weekend. I feel very thankful for this guy:

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And his family for letting me crash their dinners. And all the animals (which I do enjoy visiting, but I have to admit I’m glad they’re not actually mine).

I hope you Canadians had a great weekend filled with all the family and all the food and all the friends! I hope you had that even if you are not Canadian.

I love eating holidays!

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Nanny’s Annual Elvis BBQ

Last Wednesday evening was the annual family appreciation barbecue at my Nana’s nursing home. Long time readers of my blog may remember this in previous years because the highlight of the barbecue is an Elvis tribute artist. He is not easily forgettable.

I have attended for the past five years or so and Elvis has been the same guy each year.

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He is pretty awesome. He is very good at getting the crowd excited. Last year was a particularly good time.

Anyway, after work on Wednesday, Evan and I made the trip up to the nursing home and found my excited little (100-year-old!) Nana camped out outside. She went down to the yard super early so she could score a prime location for our group. She doesn’t mess around. She snagged us the best seats in the house.

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Oh she is just so cute. She is still so chipper and spry. I think the Elvis barbecue might be the highlight of her year. Actually, I think it might be mine (EDIT: I was just reading my post about Elvis last year and I used the same line, embarrassingly… I am going to have to pick up the originality over here).

While we waited for Elvis to start his hilarious show, we did the barbecue thing…

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Same as usual, and pretty good. One thing my Nana has definitely not lost in her old age is her appetite. She ate half a hamburger, an entire hotdog, and both kinds of salad. Plus a big piece of cake. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I know where I get my appetite from.

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This gal right here.

My family had a lot going on last week and unfortunately couldn’t make it to the party, but my Auntie Nancy’s childhood best friend Joanne and her husband Harry were in attendance.

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It was their first time coming to the Elvis party and I think they really enjoyed themselves. And I’ll tell you one thing about Harry…he’s a troublemaker. Just a jokester. They were very entertaining.

We ate and chatted and caught up for a bit, and then it was Elvis time. He made a beeline towards my Nana.

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Look at my Nana just clutching his hand with her sassy pink nails. Seeing her so happy just makes my heart want to explode. When Elvis first came out and was just talking she said to us “He doesn’t sound like Elvis!” but then he started singing and you know what, he actually does. He does a very good Elvis. And he’s quite the entertainer, doing the ol’ “what’s your room number, baby?” to all the old ladies, and I think an old man. Once he started doing his thing my Nana warmed up to him.

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She may have been in awe of him.

Evan too.

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Look how close they are in this picture.

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I’d say Elvis is Evan’s new best friend.

It was kind of cold outside so Elvis came over to the Nana and was all “Are you cold, baby? Do you need me to take you to your room to warm you up?”

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That scandalous Elvis.

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Nana’s all, no thanks I’m good.

And even Harry got in on the Elvis action.

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Elvis thought Joanne was my mom, so when he discovered she wasn’t he was all “Well who’s the mom here?” and Harry immediately said “I AM!” which made me laugh a lot harder than I would have expected. Harry’s cheesy humour just slays me.

Also during the Elvis barbecue, the staff at my Nana’s nursing home took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge, as they were all nominated by another nursing home.

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They are clearly enjoying that.

So it was once again a fantastic Elvis time.

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And Evan and I are once again thinking what we sort of events we have coming up that we could possibly book Elvis for. As we were leaving I told Elvis that we liked him and he was a good time and then I asked “Hey, do you want to come to our cottage and perform for us?” and he said that sounded like fun, so that could be an option… I am just sad we didn’t think of booking Elvis as a surprise for Brotherman’s wedding. Now THAT would have been a party.

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Happy Birthday Eric! And the last of my mom’s visit

This week has been a bit nutso, so just a few things before it has been too long since my mom left and it is weird to talk about.

But first, happiest of 21st birthdays to my baby brother Eric!

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The first time I held him. He was a HUGE baby.

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21. 21 years have gone by since that cheeky cat was born. I can’t believe it. I remember when I was eagerly anticipating his arrival and drawing scary clowns to be posted on the walls of his nursery that said “TO BABY!” all over them (not kidding about that, my mom saved one of the clown posters that I drew and it is terrifying. Poor guy). I have a lot more to say on the subject of having a baby brother…I also found a speech that I wrote about little brothers when I was in Grade 6 and it does not paint Eric in the most flattering light (direct quote: “I like him when he is sleeping and when he is playing in his OWN room with his OWN toys. I do not like it when he comes into my room and gets into all my stuff. And forget about putting up a barricade because Eric will just smash through it.”) I think I will have to write more about that speech later…

Anyway, he did turn into a shining, respectable young man. So happy birthday Eric, I love you!

Last weekend when my mom was still here we did the rounds of visiting her old friends. And we dropped in to see my lovely Nana.

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I still cannot believe she is 100. And she is still so with it, asking my mom all the questions about what she has been up to. Nana is my dad’s mom, but my parents were married for 20 years so was obviously a big part of my mom’s life. Nana was just thrilled to see her. She is still calling me and raving about our visit and how happy she was to see my mom doing so well.

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She’s a sweetheart that Nana. Her annual Elvis impersonator barbecue is coming up and I cannot wait.

Aside from family and friends visiting, we ate a lot. My mom made her famous chicken soup that I love so much.

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My friend Melissa was telling me that the reason she loves soup so much to this day is because of my mom and the soups she used to make for us when we were growing up. I totally agree. I never thought about that before but I’m pretty sure that is why I love soup so much now too. I can always go for some soup.

Evan also made his delicious lentils and red curry chicken for my mom, and it was her first time eating anything like that.

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With spicy pickle and Evan’s cousin’s chutney and popadoms. My mom loved. I loved! I want to eat that every day!

Evan cooked for us a lot actually…

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I’m sorry but sausages are just not photogenic, no matter how you photograph them.

I was happy my mom got to experience Evan’s cooking, because it is dynamite.

Evan and I also took my mom to the flea market last Sunday so she could experience that randomness. And we went to amazing crazy food court with all the foods of the world, and what made the experience for me this time was this pork rice from the Columbian food stall.

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It is cooked inside sewed up pork skin and it was incredibly amazing. We all loved it. My mom and I also shared a quesadilla from the Mexican booth, but not even worth taking a picture of, I was too into that rice.

My mom hung out a lot with this little minx.

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My mom was Winnie’s first owner. I think Winnie remembered her! She slept with her every night and has definitely been missing her since she left. My mom could not believe how much she still acts like a spry young kitty, and she is turning 21 this October! I haven’t been posting a lot of pictures of Winnie since Bolt’s arrival, but rest assured she is and will always be my number one. She is my favourite.

Other than that, a lot of hanging around and chatting in the condo. Evan and my mom really like each other.

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Brotherman came over for dinner a few times and he and my mom really hit it off as well.

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I know she had a really great time. I was so sad to see her go. We are going to miss her around here. But I am very happy knowing that Eric (and Kenya and Dixon!) are taking such good care of her in BC.

Have a great weekend!

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Banff Gondola, Geode-Cracking, and Heather and Brent’s Calgary Abode

This post might be long, I am sorry. But there are lots of pictures! So if you don’t like reading you just persevere, you’ll get through it.

After Lake Louise and the Banff Reunion with my lovely friennnnnds, the six of us got up the next morning, checked out of our hotel, and went to breakfast. Since Crystal and Lisa live in Calgary (ie not far from Banff and they are there often), we relied on their recommendation. And they did not lead us astray. We went to Coyotoes Southwestern Grill and here was my breakfast.

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The huevos rancheros. I don’t even really know what that is, but it had a lot of cheese on it and cheese makes me happy so, j’adore. And there were a couple of tostadas (I actually upgraded to an extra tostada on Lisa’s rec), eggs, black beans, salsa, green salsa, sour cream, avocado. Delicious. We had a big day ahead of us and that was a good start.

After breakfast it was GONDOLA TIME!!!

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Lisa and Crystal are seasoned gondola pros and sat this tourist activity out, it was just the four of us. I totally understand, it’s expensive, and if I lived in the area it’s not something I would do every day. But you do have to do it at least once. Have to. Because it’s insane.

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The views are so ridiculous. It doesn’t even feel like real life. Look at where we came from!

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Evan and Kenya both have a fear of heights (Evan was not down with the glass floor at the CN Tower you may remember), but they were both okay on the gondola. The car follows the mountain up, so you don’t feel like you’re up as high as you are. Unless you look back. Which Evan avoided doing.

The gondola takes you to the very top of Sulphur Mountain (you can also hike up and take the gondola down if you like, next time!), and at the top of the mountain you are bombarded with panoramic mountain views. I don’t have a lot of commentary about this. It’s just breathtakingly beautiful. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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(alright so this photo was kind of staged, but at least I’m not doing yoga)

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There are several lookout decks on various levels.

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The feeling of being up there was just incredible. I can’t explain how nice it was. I never wanted to leave. I want to live up there! And actually, maybe I could?

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That is the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station, one of Canada’s nine sites to study cosmic rays. Apparently the most important one, because of its elevation (2383m, you can read about it here if you are interested).

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I have been up the Banff gondola one time before with the Bestie, in the winter a few years ago.

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Same view, just more snow. And when we were there that time only the main observation deck was open because of all the snow, so we couldn’t wander around like our group did this time.

After exploring everywhere we could, we eventually took the gondola back down.

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And as we did we listened to the soundtrack of our vacation, the trololo guy. It was one of my favourite moments of our trip. I took a video of it and put it on my Facebook page, so you can watch it here if you want.

When we got down to the bottom we met back up with Lisa and Crystal. And sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Eric and Kenya.

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I am going to miss them. I am so glad we got to spend as much time with them as we did. Originally Evan and I were going to rent a car and drive to Banff ourselves, so I’m glad it turned out the way it did. I just love my baby brother. He really has grown up into the kindest Master Creature.

After the goodbyes, the four of us toured around Banff a bit longer. That town is just adorable.

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Cool as a MOOSE! (we actually saw a moose, there was a moose with its calf RIGHT behind Eric’s car while we were stopped in town. We were all too excited to get a pic.)

And everyone who lives there seems to be from Ontario. I don’t know what that says about my own province…

There was one thing that Evan stumbled across and really wanted to do. Geode-cracking.

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You buy a little geode, which range in price from $10 to $200 (Evan just got the $10 one)…

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And there is a machine where you can crack it open right there and see what kind of goodness is inside.

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Evan scored. His geode was pretty sweet.

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Lisa and Crystal were very excited about this and immediately got in on the action. This was really funny to me because I distinctly remember Crystal and her love of rocks. In Grade 6 she got a rock tumbler and used to make all these cool things with the rocks she tumbled. I remember waiting for the bus after school, she was standing in front of me and her hair was half up held with the COOLEST turquoise rock clip, that she had made herself in her tumbler. I was so incredibly jealous. I will never forget Crystal and her love of rocks.

She still likes her rocks.

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And Lisa just likes to crack things open.

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In the end, Crystal had the nicest rock, Evan’s was slightly less awesome, and Lisa’s didn’t really look like anything special.

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But the lady who worked there immediately tried to make her feel better about it and was all “Oh but you got the cool smoky one!!!” Pretty sure she was just humouring her. But it’s alright, still cool.

After the geode-cracking we piled into Crystal’s jeep and headed onto the next leg of Evan and Evanoff’s Excellent Adventure: Calgary.

First though, we stopped in Canmore at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company.

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(Canmore is a lot like Banff, but smaller)

I ate my very first elk burger. ELK!

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It was DELICIOUS. And much leaner than beef. My salad wasn’t bad either. It had goat cheese, so I was immediately sold on that. I also ordered a pint of raspberry ale. It was refreshing and delicious. I loved.

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When we finally made it to Calgary, we dropped off Crystal, picked up Lisa’s boyfriend Mackenzie, and all went to Lisa’s sister Heather and her boyfriend Brent’s place for a barbecue. I love Heather! (and Brent too)

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I will never forget our night with her at the Blue Jays game last summer. I’m so happy we got to see her and Brent while we were in Calgary.

She made us the best barbecue fare, which, after my day of eating (who am I kidding, week of eating), I was really excited for. I wanted healthy things. Or moderately healthy at least.

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We just had an excellent, excellent night catching up. The best segue into the Calgary party times that were ahead of us.

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Such a good night with these two:

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And these three:

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(Mackenzie, Brent, Evan)

And times around this fire:

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This was the moment I realized that our vacation was made because of all the cool people we got to hang out with along the way. Just a time and a half.

Evan and Evanoff’s Excellent Calgary Stampede Adventure is up next.

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