I’m not usually a nervous flyer

As I woke up at 4AM for my flight to Winnipeg, I felt nervous. Except this time, it wasn’t like an excited nervousness. No, this nervousness stemmed from two things that were stressing me out to no end.

A small part of me was nervous because I felt unprepared for this trip. If you know me, even in the slightest, then you know that I am constantly planning and prepping things – way in advance. And for I don’t know what reason, I had not done any of my usual travel planning. I did not make a checklist. I did not print a packing list until the very last minute (I am stressing out just typing this). I did not pre-pack. I did not think about the size of my suitcase, or that checked luggage was not included on the flight that I booked, so then I had to downsize  and leave behind half of my liquids. I did not, I did not, I did not. But I did feel stressed as fuck.

But the worse part is that all that stress wasn’t even the main reason behind my nervousness. The real reason was all because of a guitar. Specifically, my very expensive Gibson Blues King 3/4 size guitar that I needed to bring with me.

I was absolutely THRILLED when one of my very good friends not only asked me to attend, but also to sing and play in her wedding – in Winnipeg. I obviously said yes – as you can probably tell from the fact that I’m writing about how nervous I am to be travelling there – with no hesitation. But it later dawned on me that I had never actually travelled by plane with a musical instrument.

PANIC! UTTER PANIC! What do I do?! I have no idea what I’m supposed to do! How do I protect it? How do I keep it safe? Dear God, WHAT IF THEY BREAK MY GUITAR?!

Oh, and did I mention this realization only hit me a few days before the wedding day?

Well, I supposed that the best thing to do would be to ask for help, so I did what any young adult would do – I turned to Facebook.

Judge me all you want, but I actually got feedback from a lot of travelling musicians, some of whom I had not spoken to in a very long time.

I had a lengthy conversation via the comments section about whether to have it fly as checked baggage, or as a carry on, and whether to put it in a soft case, or a hard case. Pretty much everyone was in agreement – carry on, and soft case to take up less room.

Despite everyone’s helpful tips, I still decided to try to figure out a plan B. I e-mailed a man at the Long & McQuade music store in Winnipeg to see if there was any chance I could rent the exact same guitar (yes, I’m that picky). I got a response a few hours later, and unfortunately they didn’t even have any that resembled it.

So I was back to square one. I decided to call my local Long & McQuade to see if my warranty would cover any damages that might happen during the flight. More bad news.  At this point, I figured I might as well as him what he thought would be the best way to travel with my guitar. He gave me some useful information that I hadn’t actually thought of. He said to make sure to pack the entire case so that the instrument doesn’t move around in it (sweet, less clothes to put in my suitcase). And most importantly, he told me to loosen my strings!

I got right to work and started tucking my baby in for the night.

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Another kind musician left me a comment on Facebook reminding me to loosen the strings if I’m flying, so I want to take the time right now to say thank you to all those who gave me tips or advice during this stressful time. I really appreciate the help, especially those who went out of their way to leave me a comment even if we haven’t spoken or seen in each other in forever.

And you’ll all be pleased to know that that both my guitar and I made it to Winnipeg in one piece!

Flashback Friday – Udaipur, City of Lakes

Today, I really felt the need to post a Flashback Friday blog post given that I spent half my morning talking with a good friend about my trip to India 3 years ago. It was a roller-coaster ride for sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. The memories I made during that trip were unforgettable, engraved in my mind and my heart forever.

So here is a blog post I had written in December 2014 during my stay in Udaipur, India.

Udaipur, also called “the white city,” is quite a stunning place. We were lucky to have stayed at Hotel Pichola Haveli, which is directly next to the glorious Lake Pichola. Its two greatest features, aside its lakes, are the City Palace and the Jagdish Temple. We decided to skip the temple, and it ended up leading to a wonderful set of events nevertheless.

We started off our day early and headed to Sahelion Ki Bari, a beautiful garden built by Maharana Sangam Singh. I won’t go into the history details, but I will quote a bit from our tourist guidebook, Fodor’s Choice: “The garden is painted with exotic flowers and themed fountains that have carved pavilions and monolithic marble elephants. The fountains don’t have pump: designed to take advantage of gravity, they run on water pressure from the lakes.” For the minimal cost of 50 Rs each, we took a lovely morning stroll through this glorious garden. It felt like being in some cheesy romantic film, I swear.

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Directly afterwards, our driver brought us back into town. He dropped us at the entry for the City Palace, where we paid for our tickets (115 Rs per person, 200 Rs camera fee) before heading inside for a nice long visit. Honestly, as magnificent as this building was, eventually, you get tired of the “forts and temples” routine. Around halfway through the tour, we decided to high tail it to the exit and managed to by-pass two large groups; we felt much less rushed afterwards. This was surprisingly one of the busiest spots we’ve visited since the beginning of our trip.

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I should take the time to mention it now that one of the reasons I loved our experience in Udaipur was the size of the city. I actually felt comfortable walking around the streets, trying to make our way back to the hotel (if I haven’t already mentioned it, we’re actually horrible with directions). It was evidently a city and not just some small town, but it had a homey feel to it and it helped me get used to the hustle and bustle of India.

Walking through Udaipur’s streets is also what led us to having a great (but partially nerve-wracking) day. We began by having no fixed goal in mind, but were just checking out some shops along the way. We stopped into one music shop, which seemed pretty good, but not more so than any other shop we had seen so far. We kept going and saw a quaint little shop one street over from our hotel called Krishna Music. We figured we’d go in for a look, especially since Richard’s been looking into getting some prices on a decent-quality tabla. There, we met the shop owner named Krishna, whom we chatted with for 45 minutes about music and different cultures. He showed us his personal tabla, which he was willing to sell to Richard for 9000 Rs (about $167 CAD) with a case, covers, tuner, and all. He played for us and said he could also give Richard a lesson. He offered us some chai, which we instantly accepted, and also showed us some of the more traditional music he played in concerts on Indian drums.

After all this, Richard was convinced he had found the right tabla, so it was time to make the purchase. We didn’t have enough cash on us (duh) so we went back to the hotel, the two of them on Krishna’s motorcycle, me on foot. Here’s where things started to get scary…

When we headed back out to go and pay, Richard got on the motorcycle again and Krishna yelled out to me “You wait here,” pointing to the wharf next to our hotel. I assumed he meant to wait so that he could come back and pick me up, but the distance to the shop wasn’t even a 5 minute walk, so I shrugged it off and walked anyway. At the shop, I found the door locked and no shoes on the front step. Weird… I waited 5 minutes, saw no sign of anyone. I thought to myself maybe he had another shop where he had a payment machine and that’s where they had gone. So I walked back to the hotel and waited. I mean, if we got lost somehow, the hotel would be the best spot to reconnect, right? Unfortunately, I didn’t have the room key so I was stuck in the lobby, hoping not to be bothered by any passer-by. I waited for 40 minutes, sitting on that fancy little couch, trying not to let panic get the best of me. Richard was a grown man, he could handle himself. Not to mention, he is about twice the size of that Indian guy. I shouldn’t worry, I told myself. Get a grip, I’m sure everything is fine… So after that whole 40 minute argument with myself about what could have happened, I decided to try my luck by walking back to the shop.

Relief washed over me as soon as I saw Richard’s yellow and grey running shoes on the front step of that music shop. The door was still locked, so I knocked to ask what had happened. I know Richard must have seen the panic in my eyes, despite the fact that relief was flooding through my body from that point on. He apologized for the whole ordeal, even though it was really no one’s fault, and explained that Krishna had taken him to the ATM to get cash out to make the payment. OH. Doy. That makes so much sense. And right after, Krishna only had an hour or so of free time to offer the lesson so they had gotten right down to it, assuming I would come to the shop. Well, lesson learned: always communicate clearly with someone before splitting up!
When I think back upon that experience, I’m glad I didn’t actually let myself freak out, because I could have. But I needed to trust that he had made safe decisions that hadn’t led him into a bad situation, and that we could handle being on our own even though we didn’t have cell phones to communicate with each other every time we didn’t know where the other was. It reminds me of the good ol’ days, as they call them, where you couldn’t just text someone saying “I’m here,” when you arrived at someone’s house. You had to knock, sometimes numerous times and hoped they would hear you and answer the door. And if not, then you went back home, assuming they weren’t there. End of story.

Anyway, regardless of all that drama, we had a fantastic day, and it wasn’t even over yet. You couldn’t have asked for a better ending: riding off into the sunset on a boat ride with a view of Udaipur City. Just remarkable. Absolutely breathtaking.

So to finish up, here are our tips and tricks for spending some time here in Udaipur:

  • Don’t bother taking the City Palace boat rides offered at 600 Rs per person. You can take boat rides for as cheap as 250 Rs per person anywhere along the lakeside; score!
  • You can feel safe about walking the streets in this city, even as a woman on your own. Don’t get me wrong, most places are completely safe as well, but this town just has a homey feel to it and makes you comfortable about being there despite the fact that you are obviously a tourist. (Always be vigilant nevertheless.)
  • Take a break from sight-seeing if you’re tired of the fort-and-temple routine. You won’t enjoy your experience if you force yourself to do something you’re not that interest in. Make the most of your time by according time to what you prioritize.
  • Richard’s tip of the day: Say no to heroin if someone offers you some on the street.

That’s all for now. Thanks for taking the time to read about our adventures; we hope our intel has been interesting, at least, if not useful for some of you!

Namaste. xo

Summer Planning!

It’s that time of year again – Summer Time! (Also known as Vacation Time!)

Obviously, I have started making plans. If by any chance you’re interested in coming to visit me and/or seeing me during my travels this summer, please leave me a comment or send me a message so I can make sure to fit everyone in!

My first plans are already for next week!

Solo Road trip #1 – Cheticamp in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. 

I’ll be landing in Cheticamp Thursday, June 29th late at night – not making any plans other than crashing at my best friend’s house. I’ll be spending the entire day there on Friday June 30th, hoping to do supper with family, then heading back to Moncton on Saturday morning so I can spend Canada Day with my better half.

(Side note – if you want to make plans for Canada Day at night, let’s meet up for the fireworks!)

Solo Road Trip #2 – Cheticamp, again! 

I’ve marked this down as a solo trip because Max and I are both aware that he probably won’t be able to tag along. Summer is the hardest time of year for us to make plans because we just don’t have the same days off. I had requested to get Sunday-Monday off, but it wasn’t possible, so I’ve got Friday-Saturday, which are the only two days that Max works every week.

Despite being disappointed that I’m doing the trip home by myself again, this time it will be to visit the LeBlanc/Bourgeois family, all of whom will be camping out at the Beach! It’s gonna be a fun family weekend, and we’ll even be celebrating my step-mom’s birthday!

Although that was the main point of my trip, I was fortunate enough to get an extra day off work on Sunday to stop by the Inverness County Centre for The Arts where they will be hosting the grand opening of a Tiny House Exhibition! Really looking forward to attending this event and meeting some people from the area to talk about Tiny House Living! If you plan on going to this event, let me know!! And if for some odd reason you need a drive from Cheticamp on the way there, and a drive to Moncton on the way back, I have room in the car! 🙂

Garage Sale

Ok, so that’s not exactly a trip, but it is a part of our summer plans! We don’t have a date picked yet, but I’m hoping in early or mid-July! We’re going to have a ton of stuff to sell for cheap, so make sure you keep an eye out for our poster or Kijiji ad in the coming weeks so you don’t miss out!

Magic Mountain Day with the Mills Family

Nothing is set in stone, but my mom and all of my step-dad’s family usually come up to Moncton once each summer and we spend an entire day at Magic Mountain water park! My mom mentioned it might be in mid-July, so fingers crossed for good weather and that everyone can come visit at the same time!

Camping in Cap Pelé
Ok, we won’t be the ones doing the camping, but the Bernard’s will! Max’s parents have been camping in Cap Pelé every summer for quite a while now, and we are really looking forward to seeing them and spending time at the beach together! Weirdly enough, this is actually where I met the entire Bernard family for the first time ever, when Max and I had JUST started dating! Pretty special spot. 🙂

Halifax Buskers Festival

So this one isn’t even written in my scheduler, but I haven’t attended the Buskers Festival in at least 4 or 5 years now, and I really miss it. Plus, Max has actually never been, so I’m going to try to see if we can squeeze it in, if he’s not working. We could even do a day trip and just get home super super late… (fingers crossed!)

CHANTAL’S WEDDING!

And the most exciting event of the summer… my university roommate’s wedding!!! I am so incredibly excited for this! Did I mention I’m flying over to Winnipeg for their marriage?? Yeah, it’s gonna be quite the adventure!!

During my stay, I’m hoping to visit with some of my friend in the area, and most definitely check out the Assiniboine Zoo!! Any other suggestions on what to see during my 4-day stay? Let me know in the comments below!

It’s gonna be an amazing summer, I can already feel it!

Tiny House Meet-up! 

On Friday May 26th, I was already excited. I cleaned the house and packed our bags so we would be ready to go as soon as Max was done work. I was off on Friday, but he got called in, so we would be leaving later than planned. Fortunately I was able to get Sunday off – something that almost never happens – and so off we went to Cape Breton!

Destination: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Purpose: Attend a Tiny House Meet-up for the first time ever!

(And also visit family)

So I should probably begin by explaining what all of that means.

To sum it up, a Tiny House is a very small home, often built on a flat bed trailer, that is meant to be eco-friendly and often, a means to be more financially independent. As for the Tiny House movement, it is not actually about owning Tiny Houses or building them, but rather about a minimalist lifestyle, about community, about teamwork, accountability, and financial stability. To quote Carey Rolfe, it allows us to “[enjoy] all the things that life can bring.”

When we talk about a Meet-up event, well it’s basically as the name states – an organized meeting of people who have similar interests to discuss about a specific topic. The topic in question this time: Tiny Houses.

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I figured not many people would show up, that it might not even be a real thing. But I dragged Max over there and we were pleasantly surprised.

As we entered the room where the event was taking place, we were greeted by over a dozen people, maybe even twenty, and not everyone had arrived yet. We looked around to decide where we would like to sit, and we landed where I always prefer to be seated: right in the front.

Immediately, I looked around to see if I could find who was leading the event, because it was one of our goals to record and film during the entirety of the event, and we certainly didn’t want to do that without permission. Everyone seemed OK with the idea, and they jumped into it right away.

The first person to take the stand was a woman named Tracey. We soon learned that she had attended a Tiny House Conference in Portland, OR – side note, they cost a fortune to attend, which is why we have never been – and that she was challenged to take action to help the Tiny House Movement. Finally, she decided what she would do to help, and that was to organize a Tiny House Meet-up in Cape Breton.

She then went on to introduce our speakers: Carey Rolfe, from Underway Tiny EcoHomes, followed by July Pratt and Nicki Duenkel, whom you may have heard of in the news, who moved into their Cape Breton based Tiny House in late 2015.

Carey spoke to us a bit about the purpose of Meet Ups, because he is actually the head organizer of Tiny House meet-ups all through Nova Scotia. But mostly, his talk focused on his business and what they do. It was surprisingly impressive, especially to find this kind of work being done in Nova Scotia. Basically, his company not only works on building Tiny homes, but also acts as a supplier for materials specific to Tiny Houses, some of which are just not available at the local home renovation stores.

“Our goal was never to be the builder of choice, but rather to be the supplier of builders of sustainable homes.”

One of the products that they are encouraging others to buy are Structural insulated panels. In short, they consist of two sheathings – I am pretty sure this means two pieces of wood, one of the outside, one on the inside – with an insulating piece of foam core in between them. Why is this is better than regular insulation, you might ask? Well, for tiny homes, it’s definitely the space aspect of it. Using this type of insulation makes for thinner walls and allows you some extra space on the inside of your Tiny House. And of course, that’s on top of all the usual benefits of their strength, their efficiency, and how cost effective they are. According to Cary Rolfe, the R value – I was told this means the power that the insulation has to keep the heat in – is “as much as a 2X6 wall.”

 

Carey also touched on other subjects during his talk, and one thing that really spoke to me was when he started mentioning financials. Reality check – it’s not always possible to build a Tiny House for under $20 000 in our climate. We live in East Coast Canada, not in Portland, Oregon. We have really cold temperatures, we have strong winds. We have large amounts of snowfall, and we have large amounts of rainfall too. We live in a 4 season environment, so our Tiny Houses need to reflect that. And that being said, it is – in my opinion – better to put more money into your Tiny Home to ensure its longevity if you do plan on living in the Maritimes.

And speaking of living tiny in the Maritimes, that’s exactly what Judy and Nicki were there to share with us.

Judy and Nicki first moved into their Tiny House about 18 months ago, which is located in a small town outside of Sydney, Nova Scotia. If you haven’t heard of them, you definitely need to check out this CBC Article and watch their video.
Their Tiny Home is nothing but ordinary. It is incredibly unique, in the sense that it meets all of their wants and needs, all inside a very small space. They have all the luxuries they don’t want to live without – and that includes a tiny dog elevator!!

You read that right – a doggy elevator! Judy and Nicki have an 11 year old corgi named Shanti with a bad back who has slept in their bed since they adopted him, so they told the builder that they couldn’t move forward until they could find a way for him to get upstairs. And after much research, the builder – Matt from Howling Dog Construction – came up with the idea of a small electric winch-powered elevator that the dog would fit into!

Of course, there is much more to their Tiny House than just their doggy elevator. I was happy to see that they decided to go with steps instead of a ladder to get to the main loft – our preference as well. They also had a very cool kitchen design, which was U shaped, with one of the back corners being used as storage – from the outside of the house!

When it was finally time for them to make the move into Tiny – that’s what they named her – they found themselves asking one main question: “What am I attached to, and why?” A very important question indeed, as I think we are all aware that one of the biggest sacrifices when making the move into a Tiny House is downsizing the amount of stuff we own/keep.

As for insurance – which is one of my biggest concerns – Judy and Nicki explained that their Tiny House is insured as a Mini Home. However, they did have to get it tied down and skirted for it to be considered a Mini Home. We still aren’t too sure how that will work in New Brunswick, but I’m assuming it’s probably the same as in Nova Scotia. (More info on that in a later post…)

To finish the Meet-up, Matt from Howling Dog Constructions brought up some photos of his two Tiny House builds, the first being for Judy and Nicki, and the second being a much more luxurious Tiny House for a couple from New York who wanted a summer home in Nova Scotia. And of course the question came up: how much does a Tiny House like that cost? This New York couple paid a whopping $130 000 for their custom made Tiny House – keeping in mind that they paid a builder for his time, on top of all the materials including furniture and appliances, one of which included a special order backsplash from a showroom in New York. At this point, Judy and Nicki spoke up to let us know they most certainly did not pay that much for their Tiny House, but it just goes to show you can put whatever amount of money you want into a Tiny House and make it work for your wants and your needs.

And of course we stayed after it was all done, just to say thank you to everyone, and to ask some more questions. Max went to speak with the two builders, with one of which he had a very interesting conversation about the design he had done in regards to structural integrity. As for myself, I went to speak with the organizer of the event, Tracey, and had a great conversation about what our plans are for the future – Max and I, that is. She proceeded to tell me she was actually writing a book about the Tiny House Movement and would love to stay in touch and possibly ask us some interview questions for her book. I thought that was so cool because we are planning on documenting the entirety of our project, and not only would this be extra publicity for us, but I could also get her advice and expertise on the whole writing aspect.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say we had an amazing time attending this event and it has just instilled even more motivation for us to get started on our own project. We know we’ve still got a long way to go, but we hope you’ll all be following along with us as we go through this new journey in our life.

Summer Plans – Tiny House Festival

You must be thinking, “Did I read that correctly?” Well yes, yes you did. Apparently, this year is the third annual Tiny House Festival. The event is happening August 12th & 13th in Old Port, Montreal. Oh… AND IT’S FREE.

I’ve been looking around for workshops/meet ups/conferences – anything you can think of that has to do with the Tiny House Movement. Finally, I stumbled upon this.

Fingers crossed that I can get the full weekend off of work to be able to make it there, because it seems like a pretty cool event.

SIDE NOTE: If this is something that interests you and you’d like to drive up from New Brunswick with me, leave me a comment so I can contact you and therefor save myself lots of money on gas by bringing you with me. 

From what I could read on the website, the festival grounds will permit attendees to visit Tiny Houses models that are on site, listen to inspirational speakers on various subjects about Tiny House living and self-sufficiency, attend workshops about construction/finances/alternate energy sources, and much more.

The festival’s mission is outlined as follows: to promote an eco-friendly, affordable and healthy lifestyle which allows for increased self-sufficiency and independence. They also hope that by creating awareness about the Tiny House Movement, an increased amount of municipalities will accept the creation of Tiny Houses and/or will amend their laws to allow Tiny Houses in their region.

To be quite honest, I’m super pumped about attending this event, and I hope you’ll consider going too!

If you’re not convinced, you definitely need to check out this video.

And this one!

Solo travelling: Ups and Downs

Everyone will tell you there are ups and downs about travelling alone. I find it so interesting how some people cannot stop raving about how amazing it is to travel solo, while others tell of their completely disappointment when travelling all by themselves.

It is surely very dependant on a person’s personality, but I know that every single person is capable of travelling – or doing anything for that matter – alone. There’s just the matter of doing it or not.

Honestly, I completely surprised myself when I made the decision to do this trip to Australia alone. I’ve never travelled alone, although I always told myself I would one day. I certainly did not think Australia would be the destination. All I knew for sure – back then – was that when I was going to travel alone, it was going to be in a relatively safe country, especially for women. Well, what better place than Australia?

As I was preparing my trip, I didn’t feel nervous about going alone. Again, this surprised me. Why wasn’t I beginning to feel anxious? Why didn’t I feel scared? Well I’ll tell you why. Because I knew I was capable of doing this. I was confident, excited, and determined. I was going to live out on my life long dreams of visiting Australia. Nothing was going to hold me back.
Honestly, I think that’s what pushed me to decide to make it a solo trip. I didn’t want to be held back. I wanted to live this and experience this at its fullest. As the young folks say, “You do you!” So that’s what I was going to do. This trip was going to be all about what I wanted to do, when I felt like doing it.

Inevitably, there always comes a time – whether you’re travelling alone or even in a group – where you just don’t feel like doing anything. OK, maybe not everyone feels that way, but I know I’m not the only one. I’ve experienced it every single time I’ve travelled. And the good part is, I’ve always been aware that that’s what I needed, and so I took the time to actually do nothing.

It sounds a bit silly. Planning to do nothing. But I think it’s important, crucial even, to respect that your body can’t be in super intense mode 24/7 during the entirety of your trip. Your body needs rest. Your body needs self care. And your body will always let you know what it needs, you just need to listen.

For me, the hardest part of travelling alone so far is not giving in to that little voice in my brain that tries to disguise itself as my body telling me to slow down. That little voice in my head that tries to bring me down, that brings up thoughts of loneliness and the feeling of being homesick.

And of course, after that starts happening, I can’t stop but think of the “Cons” about travelling alone.
1) I don’t have anyone to share these experiences with

2) I don’t have anyone here to laugh with me

3) I don’t have anyone to suggest we do something new

4) I don’t have anyone to kick me out of bed right now

5) I don’t have anyone to watch my bag, but I really need to pee

6) I can’t go out now, it’s dark and I’m alone

Etc, etc…

I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with all my family and friends from home via Facebook and e-mail and all that junk, because I made the decision to purchase an Australian pre-paid phone plan for a month, and it came with 8.5 GB of data. This helped me in many ways, namely because I am constantly – ok, not always in the outback, but everywhere else! – able to connect with someone, and because I got some beautiful and touching messages from old and new friends alike, showing me that those “cons” I kept thinking about were insignificant compared to the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is this: I have always dreamed of visiting Australia. And here I am, doing it!!

Best tips I received about staying positive and looking at the pros of travelling alone:

  1. Concentrate on living in the moment
  2. Be aware of what you’re experiencing – not everyone has such an opportunity!
  3. Make new friends, new connections, even if they don’t last
  4. This won’t last forever, before you know it you’ll be back home – so don’t leave with regrets!
  5. Focus on the fact that this will probably be the last time you see or experience these things
  6. You’re not forced to stay in one place; you can always change your plans
  7. You are not completely alone, everything you share on social media lets everyone back home feel like a part of your trip
  8. Live fully for those who cannot
  9. You do you
  10. Let your mind wander. Let your soul wander. Feel. Live. Breathe. Be you. Be that moment. Live that moment. Live you.

I had a really hard time the first few days. I couldn’t connect with anyone, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There was a super cloudy day in Sydney one day, and I know most people feel the same way on a dull day, but I just couldn’t get out of the rut I was in. I missed everyone from home. I missed joking and talking and telling stories with someone who actually cared. I had no energy and I had no motivation. It was my “down” moment.

But now, my down moment is over. I have taken the time to rest, to ask for help and support, to take care of myself. The next morning, I woke up and I was proud that I had gone through that. I was aware now that this happens when you travel alone. It will always be a struggle, but it will always pass, if you let it.

That last full day in Sydney was spent relaxing at Bondi (pronounced bawn-die) Beach all morning – I love to do things early in the morning! – then spending some time at the hostel before heading out for a nice walk to visit the Public Library and the Sydney Opera House.

While I was at the hostel mid-afternoon, a fellow roommate had asked if I wanted to join him back at the beach to do the Bondi to Coogee walk. I had told him maybe, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. And the more I talked with that guy, the more I realized how different I was than most backpackers. You know what? No, I don’t want to go do that walk. No, I don’t want to get absolutely plastered every single day/night. No, I don’t want to go home and feel like all I’ve done is party during this entire trip.

You know what I want? I want to be a tourist. I want to travel like old folks do. I want to visit museums and libraries. I want to go to every single zoo, aquarium and animal sanctuary. I want to learn new things. I want to love this trip. So fuck your stupid drunken beach walk, Joey.

Out and About in Sydney!

Well, it wasn’t my first day in Australia, because that day was spent mostly recuperating from the long and tiring flight from Canada, not to mention the incredible jet lag. But on my second day, after sleeping for a good 12-13 hours (forcing myself back to bed every time I woke up in the middle of the night), it was time for a day out in city!

I’m currently staying at this super cute hostel called Eva’s Backpackers, located pretty much near the downtown/waterfront/whatever you call it area. It’s nice and quiet, somewhat easy to find, near lots of amenities like a grocery store (called supermarkets here), a bank, and lots of other crap. I’m staying in a 10 Bed Dorm room, and I’m happy to say that I nabbed the last bottom bunk when I checked in early!

But anyways, back to the story! So I decided that I would go out and explore the city after being well rested. I grabbed a map from the front desk, but was also very aware that I would probably be relying on my phone to check online maps in real time. Here’s the surprising part: I was actually able to make my way toward the water without checking too much. I knew it was to the left of the hostel and a little higher up, so I just went from there. Although there was a super confusing part. I didn’t know this, but there are lots of areas in Sydney that have stairs. Like… what? Public walkways where you have to climb up to get to the next street. How does the layout of this city even work?? I was lucky that as I was confusedly checking my map/phone, a lady stopped and asked if I needed help. I told her I was looking to get to Circular Quay to catch the ferry. She told me I had the climb the stairs nearby to get there, and that I could cross the Botanical Garden if I wanted to and that would lead me there. Initially, I did not like the idea of zigzagging around in a public garden, but in the end, that’s where I ended up going to avoid crossing streets. And you know what? It was actually pretty easy to navigate! This is a pretty big deal for me by the way, because I usually have a terrible sense of direction. More on that later…

So I cross the Botanical Garden-ish, and get out onto a street that I remembered seeing on the map as being one of the main streets leading down to the water. Lucky me, that’s exactly what this street was, and it led me directly to the Sydney Opera House.

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I took some time to take some pictures and look around a little. Then I checked the signs for the ferries and found out that I needed to get to Terminal 4 to take the ferry to Taronga Zoo, which was departing very soon! I hurried over and asked the lady at the ticket counter how it all worked. She said I didn’t need a ticket or anything like that as long as I had my Opal Card I was good to go. As I walked passed her, I saw the ferry leaving. Dang it! I was hoping to get to the zoo right when it opened at 9:30AM. I asked the lady when the next ferry would arrive and she said it would be at 9:50AM.

I decided I would take this time to get a small breakfast or snack while I waited. I looked around and didn’t find much that interested me, so I went to a place that sold small breakfast items (little pricey) and went with a simple fruit salad. And holy jeez, was it ever good! That’s probably due to the fact that all the fruit in that salad were actually grown right here in Australia!

After I was all done eating, I grabbed my Opal Card – the public transit card used in Sydney for busses, trains and ferries – and scanned in to take the ferry. I sat down and waited, although it didn’t take too long for the ferry to arrive. I got on board and sat down outside, although not too close to the water. I was just hoping to God I wouldn’t start feeling queasy again and that the ferry ride didn’t last too long.

It didn’t help that an old lady working on the ferry asked if I could fill out a form about the quality of service. I didn’t feel like saying no, so I accepted the paper and a pen, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to write anything down without starting to feel sick so I just set them aside.

The ferry ride was actually pretty short, less than 10 minutes I believe. I stepped off and headed where everyone else was headed, assuming that was the right path. What I hadn’t known at the time was that you were supposed to “tap off” when you were done, but I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it, so I didn’t do it either.

I started looking around to see which way the entrance would be, since I hadn’t bought my ticket in advance (I had a coupon, which in the end would save me more money than purchasing in advance). For some reason, there was an employee greeting everyone and insisted that if we did not have a ticket that we needed to board the bus. I thought this was odd – why couldn’t we just walk there? But apparently the entrance where there is a walkway was under construction. Plus turns out the bus fair was only like ten cents.

When you walk inside, it’s very different from the Magnetic Hill Zoo where I work in Moncton. First of all, there’s no actual entrance building. The arch leads you back outside, where you are directed to make a line to pay the entry fee at the windows to your right. When it gets to be my turn, I ask the lady at the admission booth to see if they had any discounts for zoo employees from other countries. She said she could ask, but that she would need to see some ID. Darn it. Stupid admissions workers don’t have swipe cards so no proof that I actually work there. Ah well. At least I had my trusty coupon, saved me 15%!

After you pay, the admissions employee hands you your receipt, and apparently this is your proof of payment. Right after that area is another wooden structure on your right hand side, and I can see that everyone there has a volunteer tag on. They are giving out maps and information and such. On the left, there’s one of their many gift shops. Part of me REALLY wanted to go inside and see, but I knew that the presentations were starting soon and I really didn’t want to miss those!

After you pass those things, there are washrooms, and then a toll-like area. Two employees stand there waiting for you to show your proof of purchase, and then they stamp you on the hand. I can already tell this zoo has way more employees than the zoo back home…

I open up the map right away.

I’m so excited, I don’t know where to go first! The map is also pretty confusing, because there are lots of higher and lower areas, and 3 or 4 coloured paths that I couldn’t quite find in the beginning. But the super obvious path had green circles painted onto the asphalt. I figured that would be a good place to start.

I wandered around for a little while, taking some shots as I walked by some cool and interested creatures. I skipped some on the way because I was trying to rush to get to a show. I couldn’t find the lemurs right away, so I gave up and decided I would go to the seal keeper talk instead. And holy camoly, was it ever worth it!!

Get this – they’ve got about 8-10 different seals, all trained very much like dogs! I couldn’t pick my favourite, but here’s a good shot of Pepper:

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My God, they are such majestic creatures!

Next up were the elephants! Some were getting bathed, while others were doing exercices. It was pretty cool to see, especially since I think this was the first time I have ever seen an elephant in real life (except that one time Max & I saw the circus elephant’s butt as he was being taken out back at the Magnetic Hill Zoo like 10 years ago).

I also saw loads of birds, various monkeys, something called a binturong which is also called a “bearcat,” some hippopotamuses from behind, and so much more.

OH, AND I SAW A RED PANDA!

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Ok it’s not the greatest shot, but it’s the only spot where you could see him. And he was just so cute!

I’m probably boring a lot of you, but you know what? I had a a BALL spending my entire day at the zoo, so I’m just gonna go on and keep talking about every animal I saw!

After I spotted all those guys, I walked down to see the seals again, now that they were all in their enclosure. And oh they looked like they were having so much fun! Playing with each other, swimming up and down, flipping around… so much fun to watch.

But you know what’s even better than seals?? TINY PENGUINS!!

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Next up I went to see lots of reptiles and bugs and whats-its. It was in the kids area but there’s was lots of interesting information about all the animals. Next to it was a barnyard area, but I pretty much grew up with most of those so I just walked through. But then was a super cool spot that they called “Kangaroo Walkabout.” There’s actually two spots like these, the first one was right next to the koalas (more about them later…) and had wallabies, ostridges, and two different kinds of kangaroos, then the other one had your typical Australian kangaroos.

OK so here’s the deal with the koalas… turns out it was not a great time to try to see those guys because usually, they have 3 different enclosures throughout the entire park, but today (and probably for a few days to come) two of those enclosures were under construction, and the only one left that was open to the public was the one where you had to book to go for an encounter. Well, that was obviously sold out all day, so the best I could do (for now…) is this:

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I didn’t get to see any Tasmanian Devils, they were probably all hiding or sleeping. But it was interesting to read about the conservation project that the Taronga Zoo has going on to help save the population from going extinct.

What I did get to see though were some FREAKING ADORABLE LEMURS!! I went by for the keeper talk in the afternoon and then she said we could do a walk-through of their enclosure 12 at a time. Well, you can imagine I ran up to be first in line (ok, fine, I was third in line because two people had coincidentally already been standing there while watching the presentation). I was among the first to go in, and she explained the rules to us very clearly. Apparently these guys don’t like to be touched (the ones in Moncton, I’ve been told, will tolerate you petting them, especially if you give them food) and get nervous is people crouch down. So I couldn’t get lots of different angles, but I did manage to get some good shots. Check this guy named Julian:

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He was an excellent model.

After that excitement was all done and over with, I continued my walk and went back to see everything I had missed. I saw some meerkats (Timon!), a beautiful zebra, an animal similar to a cow called a bongo, some mountains goats, very vocal chimpanzees, and many more. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the Fennec Foxes, which I was really looking forward to, but for good reason. The female had just given birth recently and was likely out back tending to the kit.

You thought it was all over, didn’t you? Well, I saved one of my favourites for last…

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And that’s where I’ll take my leave.

Honestly, that’s pretty much the only thing I did on that first full day in Sydney. By the time I took the ferry back to Circular Quay, it was almost 5PM. I had to walk back to the hostel, that was another 20-30 minutes, then I had to cook supper, eat, and it was almost time for bed. (Don’t judge me, I’m still pretty jet-lagged)

If there’s somewhere you think I should absolutely not miss out on while I’m in Sydney (or along the East Coast), please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll gladly look into doing some new stuff that maybe I hadn’t thought of!

Cheers! xo

Travel Shower

You’re probably a little confused by the title of this blog post, I’m sure I would be too. So let me explain as briefly as possible so we can get right down to it.

It is common knowledge that most women’s dream – feminists aside – is to get married and/or have kids. And quite honestly, I am envious of a lot of those women because I wish I knew that that was what I wanted.

Relax mom, I’m not saying I don’t want to get married or that I won’t have kids.

But what I’m trying to say is that regardless of whether or not I want those things, those two kids in particular are special events that are very often celebrated by having a “shower” of sorts. For example, when you’re an expectant mother, you have a baby shower. When you’re about to get married, your family and friends throw you a wedding shower. But why is it limited to celebrating only those specific “traditional” events? Why can’t I celebrate the fact that I’m going to friggen Australia in less than two weeks?? I know it’s very different than giving birth, but in a way, that is my most recent and greatest achievement. I’ve been working hard to save my money for as long as I can remember to go on a trip specifically to Australia. It’s my dream vacation. And it’s actually happening. I’m still in shock.

When I spoke openly about this “travel shower” concept to my boyfriend, he was skeptical.

“Why?”

In my mind, there was no “why,” but rather, “why not!” Especially knowing the type of people I associate with, most of whom are all avid travellers. Wouldn’t they all appreciate my idea and rejoice in celebrating the success our own special life goals?

Picture this. Guests are invited to an afternoon gathering at my house. Gifts/cards are optional, of course. If guests would like to bring something for the hostess, it is suggested to bring something small that they feel you shouldn’t travel without. At the event, finger foods and desserts are served. The decor is very fitting to the theme of the event. There is a world map pinned up on the wall. There is a vintage luggage set and a globe to be signed by guests – where have you travelled to? There is fruit punch served in a bowl decorated as a sail boat. There are games to be played throughout the afternoon, and lots of wisdom to be shared. My favourite part: a travel advice & well wishes nook where guests can leave notes and invaluable information. And of course, guests would not be allowed to leave without first grabbing a little something from baggage claim!

“It sounds kind of selfish,” my boyfriend had expressed. “You don’t need help like expecting mothers.”

But it’s not about getting help or receiving something, even though I might have made it sound that way. It’s really just about one thing: celebrating something that holds a great deal of importance to me.

I know how it sounds, I’m not foolish. A lot of people will think this is a dumb idea. And that’s OK. They just won’t be invited to my party. 😉

Holiday Travels – Part 2

This next Christmas celebration was the most difficult to organize. I blame myself a little bit, I should have assumed it would end up like this.

Basically, every year my mother hosts a Christmas dinner and gift unwrapping at her place in Halifax, and every year it lands on December 27th. When I asked her in October when she was thinking of having her celebration, she answered that she still wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, that meant I had to guess which day it would land and ask for that day off because if I waited any longer, I might not be able to get time off at all. I decided to play the flexible card with my boss. I had requested days off before Christmas to see my dad, and I asked for one day off after Christmas, but that I had no preference and that the other girls could have their pick first. I ended up with December 28th. Oh how foolish I was…

Of course, the dinner lands on December 27th, but this was only decided in the month of December, so too little, too late. There was no working around it. We didn’t have any extra staff for that day, and I was unable to switch because the co-worker who had gotten that day off had already made plans to do supper at her mother’s place. Just my luck.

On top of that, I was trying to see if we could make December 28th work, but my brother was working early the next morning so he had to be back in Moncton on the 28th. On top of that, the 28th is my step-niece’s birthday, so all the family in Halifax had already made other plans. To make matters worse, Max coincidentally got news that he would be working on December 28th. All that to say that I was now the only person who was available, so I guess that day is a no go.

To say I was bummed out would be putting it lightly. I found it pretty difficult knowing I would not be able to make it to my mom’s for Christmas this year, that I would be missing out on all our traditions. I won’t deny it – I sulked, probably way more than I should have. I didn’t let it show at work, because it was no one’s fault but my own. Next year, I’ll know better.

On the night of the 26th, I was looking up the weather online while at work. I noticed that it was not giving very nice weather for the following day. I started to wonder… what are the chances my boss would be willing to give me the day off since we surely won’t need full staff for a stormy night like that? The worst she can say is no… And so I sent off a text asking for the day off, explaining that it would be to visit family since I was the only person who had initially been unable to make it. It took a while to get the response, and I was getting pretty anxious. But just before closing, the boss sent a reply saying that if it was alright with the supervisor, it was alright with her! I was fairly certain the supervisor would agree – it had been a little tough trying to keep 3 people busy on slow nights. Trying not to get my hopes up – just in case – I awaited the supervisor’s response.

That was a longer wait, but I eventually got a positive response from the supervisor, thus giving me the OK to go ahead with my plans!

Step 1: Don’t tell mom that I was able to get off work.

Step 2: Choose when to leave.

Step 3: Text my brother to tell him about the plan.

Step 4: Leave early the next morning and surprise my mom in her nightgown, slaving away in the kitchen! (For some people this might seem awkward, but honest to God, it was just hilarious)

You can’t imagine the look on her face when she realized who was walking through the door. It was like a scene from a movie. She had the biggest smile I had seen in such a long time, and it was so genuine. To my boss, it might have meant nothing to give me an extra day off. But to my mom, it meant so much. Ok, I’m tearing up thinking about it. Let’s change the subject.

Happy day, we made it to Halifax to celebrate with all of my mom’s family! We spent most of the afternoon running around and/or helping prep everything for that night.

The first to arrive was my step-brother, although unfortunately all by himself. His girlfriend had had to return to Newfoundland the day before so we had just missed her. Next up was my step-aunt, step-uncle, and my step-nan. (Ok, I’m just gonna drop the word “step” from now on. I think you all get the point…) Not too long afterwards came my sister with her husband and three kids, as well as my other brother, his wife, and their two daughters. What a bunch!

All of a sudden there’s another knock at the door. I was a little confused, since I thought everyone had already arrived. My mom goes to the door to answer and in walks her best friend Bonnie, accompanied by a very handsome man I had yet to meet. I rushed over to give her a big hug! Since my mother hadn’t been sure if I was coming or not, she hadn’t told Bonnie I would be there. And since I had surprise her, she decided to surprise me by not mentioning that Bonnie was coming over!
Introductions were then in order. Max, my brother and I each had the pleasure of meeting Bruce, Bonnie’s dreamy boyfriend. We had heard so much about him – maybe a little too much! – but we had never met him until that day! And what a wonderful man he is. Very caring, with a warm heart and a bright smile.

After some more socializing with the group, my mom rounded us all up and we started digging in. There was so much food, and it was all so delicious – as always! And then, my mom comes out with not one, but TWO desserts! It was mandatory, of course, to have a birthday cake – it was Maggie’s birthday on the 28th after all. The second dessert, however, was not one of her usuals. This time, it was a no bake blueberry cheesecake, and OH MY GOD. It just melted in your mouth… I’m actually drooling right now just thinking about it! OK, next topic!

After we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, we all sat down in the living room and my mom began passing out all the gifts. I was surprised at how many there were, because we had been told it would be a smaller exchange this year. There were presents for the kids, of course, for me, for Max, for Remi, for my mom & her husband, for the brothers and sisters, and a few even for Nanny Mills. It took quite a while to get everything unwrapped, but we had such a fun time doing it! Lots of wonderful surprises for everyone!

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My mom & her husband opening gifts from the grandkids!
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Nan got a billion pair of slippers!

We are so fortunate to have such thoughtful family members, who gave us amazing gifts, from a waffle maker, to a new set of bed sheets, and a beautiful colander and bowl set!

Can you believe there is still one more Christmas celebration to go?!

September Sum-up

Every year, September has been pretty hectic for me. Usually though, it’s due to the school year starting up. This time, it’s just real life – and I am not complaining!

This entire month consisted of amazing memories with family and friends, I felt constantly surrounded by loving and caring people. I almost cried of joy so many times, it was overwhelming to realize how fortunate I am to have all these incredible people in my life.

First example: the month started off with me getting home from an exhausting day at work, after having worked 50+ hours that week, and finding a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the counter with a post-it on it saying, “To Carmen, From Rémi xoxo.” Just like that. For no reason. Flowers. For me!!

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That same day, Max and I headed up to Miramichi to see all of my dad’s family since they were up there packing up all of Katelyn’s stuff for her to move back to Cape Breton. She wasn’t moving on that specific day, but she was moving out of her apartment and crashing at a friend’s place for a week instead of paying a full month’s rent for only living there the extra week to finish her work contract.

We had a really great time up in Miramichi. We went walking down the streets, got some coffee, had supper together at the hotel where they were all staying that night, and spent some time relaxing and catching up. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly the most exciting night of my life, but it’s moment like these that I appreciate the most because as we get older, it is becoming harder and harder for us to get together, and when we do, just each others’ presence is enough to warm my heart.

And speaking of my heart – oh my heart! September 6th marked our one year anniversary. I was trying not to get too excited about it, because I always expect too much and go way over the top for things like this (birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc). I had been very hesitant about what to buy him as an anniversary gift, and I could just not think of a single thing. Every time I thought about getting him something, there was an immediate after thought of, “But what if he would rather have that other kind/brand instead?” And that would convince me not to buy it. Every. Time. So here I was, on the day of our anniversary, still no gift or anything. Plus, he had told me not to make plans because he was in charge of that tonight. Luckily, I was off that day, and so was my brother, so I dragged him along and we went shopping.

After going to a few stores, I finally decided I would get him a gadget and found a great purchase Best Buy. I also made a few pitstops to get him some candy from Bulk Barn and some homemade fudge from Cabela’s.

When we got back home, I felt proud that I hadn’t overspent, but that I found a good gift and added a few small gifts that I knew he would appreciate. Go me!

Our plans for that evening were still a surprise, so I (im)patiently waited for Max to get home from work. It was quite a rushed evening, as he had to make sure he was home for 5PM to sell a dolly he had purchased to move back East, and then, he mentioned, we had to hurry because his plans were timely as well.

I wasn’t sure what to wear/what to bring/etc, so I just went with it. He asked me to lock myself in our bedroom for a little bit because he had to prepare some stuff for the evening and I wasn’t allowed to see the preparation process – it would ruin the surprise, he said. So off I went and cuddled with my kitty in bed, browsing through Facebook on my cell phone.

A good 10-15 minutes later, we were all ready to go. He hurriedly asked me jump in the car, but to make sure I brought a sweater, because he knows me, and I always get cold at night.

As we start driving, my heart is pounding. Where on earth is he taking me? He looks over at me and tells me he is sorry, that everything isn’t going as he had planned. I’m not sure how to react. “What do you mean?” I say. He says he will explain after we arrive.

So we keep driving up towards the northern end of town, and I try to keep calm. We come to a halt at one of the highest points in city, and he hurriedly starts getting stuff ready. He puts down 2-3 blankets on the ground to make sure it is comfortable and he asks me to sit. He open up a cooler with a beautiful bottle of white wine, pours us each a glass. He starts taking everything out of the trunk and backseat – he really packed everything! He set up the portable BBQ that we have and lit it up to heat up veggie burgers and corn on the cob. We also had salad in a container to share, and typical Max, he brought out some fancy cheese and baguette as a starter!

“Ok, so if this wasn’t even the original plan, what exactly was?” I asked him.

“I was going to set up the futon mattress with dozens of pillows in the back of my truck so I could drive us down here to eat supper while we watched the sun set.”

My eyes started welling up. Wow.

I felt bad that he hadn’t had more time to get everything done for tonight. I knew he wanted it to be just perfect. But the thing is, it already was.

Except it gets even better…

So there we were, lying down on the blankets, finishing our glasses of wine and watching the night sky, when all of a sudden Max asks me to go grab the extra blanket I keep in the trunk so he can cover his legs – the mosquitos were attacking the heck out of us! Of course I would, so I got up and went to the car.

(Side note: I get pretty tipsy when I drink, even if it’s just one glass of wine.)

I get to the trunk and open it.

Me: “Max, there’s a box in here! I don’t think I’m supposed to see this.”

Him: “What?”

Me: “There’s a BOX in here!”

Him: “Ok, so what?”

Me: “Well, am I not supposed to see it?”

And finally it dawns on me that he didn’t ask me to get the blanket for his legs – he wanted me to see the box.

Him: “I donno… why don’t you uncover it and find out.”

I start giggling. I can’t believe he got me something else! The romantic evening was already so wonderful.

As I remove the blanket from the box, my jaw drops and my heart nearly pops out of my chest…

“OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THIS!!!!!!!”

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I start BAWLING. I’m not even kidding, he has it on video! I just kept repeating and repeating, “I can’t believe you did this!” Except you can imagine it in a super high pitch squeaky voice and I try to hold back the tears of joy.

I have wanted a Kitchen Aid Mixer for as long as I can remember. I have even teased him about it a million times since he broke my old electric mixer. But never in a million years did I actually expect him to get me one!!

I’m still in shock.

Ok… breathing now.

So that was the beginning of September. Hard to beat, let me tell you!

About halfway through the month, it started calling for frost at night, so Max and I started doing our tomato haul. We only had two plants, but they were pretty big and wielded more tomatoes than we expect. In the end, we decided it was best to just pick the ripest ones for now, and move the plants into the garage so they wouldn’t be too affected by the overnight cold.

But now was the time to make a plan. What would we do with all these tomatoes? Recipe number one: homemade salsa.

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We also started making lots of homemade stuff, especially since I got the Kitchen Aid Mixer! To review everything we made, here’s a small list:

  • Fresh homemade biscuits
  • Homemade carrot zucchini muffins
  • Homemade blueberry pie
  • Homemade chocolate cake from scratch
  • Chocolate butter cream icing
  • Vanilla butter cream icing (because we didn’t know you weren’t supposed to put buttercream in the fridge and the chocolate one got too hard to serve the next day)
  • Homemade banana chocolate chip muffins (all gone within two days)
  • Homemade chocolate chip cookies

Yum.

Next up: getting sick. Ugh. It’s that time of year. I got this terrible cold that hung around for over a week and I even had to miss a few days of work. Fortunately, I knew it was coming so it probably helped that I asked to leave early the first day I started feeling iffy. I got lots of rest, drank lots of fluids – you know the deal.

The following weekend, I still wasn’t back to 100%, but we had places to be, people to see – it was Nicki’s baby shower!! I was so happy it was a Sunday afternoon because it was a lot easier for me to take the day off work to drive to Cape Breton, plus Max and Remi are both off on Sundays too. Did I mention they both have jobs now? I don’t think I did! Well, more on that later.

I felt bad for making Max and Remi come up, because I had assumed the guys were having a diaper party the same afternoon. Oops. Guess not. Michael was actually working a +12 hours shift, so we were probably not even going to get to see him.

As for the party, it was a blast! It was a lot calmer than the other (and only) one I had been to, which was good given that I was still a little sick. It was really fantastic to see Michael & Nicki’s new house! They had bought it not too long ago and did a total flip of the house, all in such a short amount of time! Luckily they had great helpers, my dad and step-sister’s boyfriend included.

After it was all done, the boys (my dad, my brother, Max, & my step-sister’s boyfriend) all came to the house to join us and got to enjoy LOTS of leftovers. My God. I could not believe the amount of food that had been brought to this party! In any case, the guys loved it and they all stuffed their faces. Unfortunately, this meant that supper had been postponed to later that night, and we had to get home at a decent time since Max was working the next day at 5AM. At first, dad had said he would just take us all out for Chinese food, but then everyone wasn’t sure about what time we would go, and some people didn’t feel like Chinese, so in the end, dad said he would just transfer me some money and would pay for our meal on the road. We said our goodbyes to everyone and went back to the house, packed our stuff, and hit the road.

The following Sunday was just as hectic, but with the other half of my family! Max, Remi and I headed up to Halifax for the last Sunday of September to celebrate not one, not two, but three birthdays! My mom decided to combine my step-sister’s husbands birthday with my step-dad’s, plus my other step-brother’s birthday since they would be out of town for his birthday in early October.

We didn’t want to show up empty handed, so we all pitched in to get each person one gift. Steve received a book that I had found on the Indigo website that seemed really interesting, while the younger men each received a NSLC gift card.

Just to put it into perspective, each of my step-siblings are in a relationship, and in total, there are 5 children. And we can’t forget aunts and uncles, plus Nan. So all these people, plus my brother, my boyfriend and myself, were all gathered at my mom & step-dad’s apartment that Sunday night to enjoy a lovely home cooked meal. It’s always a feast when they have people over, no lie! There was so much food, half the people there took some leftovers home, us included! Oh my God, and the desserts! Mom had bought a beautifully decorated cake, but also wanted to make a second dessert in case there wasn’t enough cake for everyone. Just thinking about that dessert is making me drool. She made a homemade blueberry cheesecake with whip cream. YUM!!

And to finish off the month of September, I voluntarily took three shifts to work at the Magnetic Hill toll booth, and figured I could get lots of knitting/crochet done while I was there. Check out my newest product:

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And that, folks, sums up my entire month of September!

Did you do anything amazing this past month? If so, drop me a line and let me know about it!

xo