Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: Homage to Billy Joel


The Stranger is my favourite record in Ian's record collection. Although, on second thought, it might just be my first record ever. Ian's buddy Maarty lent us this masterpiece awhile back, along with a bunch of other albums, and when he returned to collect his vinyl, he left behind Billy Joel's magical, glorious, most amazing album EVER because he knew how much I loved it. What a bro, right? So, since he left it for me, I'm going to assume Billy Joel is all mine. How exciting. I have my very first record and it's the best one in existence. Who needs more when you can just play Moving Out again and again and again?

So, anyway, this week, I'm thankful for a) Maarty (a few months late) for gifting me this amazing piece of musical gold and b) Billy Joel for creating it. And, I'm also thankful for Lisa over at Not Ladylike for reminding me how much I love The Stranger and for writing this post, which inspired Ian to take the following photo of me in homage to Billy Joel.

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Isn't that the most amazing thing you've ever seen!? I think, between taking this photo, taking me on a movie date to see The Dark Knight Rises and making me an amazing Moscow mule (vodka with lime juice and ginger beer) last night, Ian also deserves to be on my thankful list this week, too. Although, to be quite honest and totally sappy, he's basically a given on this list. He's a total pal, and I love his guts, even when he's not taking me on dates or making me drinks.

What are you-all thankful for this week? Are you a sucker for Billy Joel? Or, have you had mad-success recreating album art?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Things I don't understand: 50 Shades of Grey edition

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First, I have to admit I haven't read the entire trilogy. In fact, I'm only halfway through the first book. But even after being about 10 pages in, I knew I was going to hate everything about Fifty Shades of Grey. And now that I'm a couple hundred pages in, I hate it even more that I thought was possible.

How, ladies, are these books No. 1 bestsellers? How? I don't understand!

What's with Christian and Ana constantly saying each others' names? Seriously, do they need to remind the other who they are every sentence? And don't even get me started on the dialogue between the two. It is just so ridiculous and unrealistic. But I have to say, the thing I hate the absolute most is Ana's inner monologue. Reading her thoughts seriously makes me want to punch myself in the face. Who the hell thinks, "Oh my!" during half of the things that happen in the book? I think my thoughts might just be a little more "WTF?" and "Get me the hell out of here" than "Oh my!" But hey, that's just me.

To be honest, while reading this book, I thought it was written by a man. I thought some dude took it upon himself to write an erotic book for women, assuming he knows what women are into. But no, it's written by a woman. Now, don't get me wrong, I get that every woman isn't into the same things, and all the power to the women who are into dominant/submissive role play. But for this little lady, the book was just so ridiculous that there was absolutely nothing erotic about it. I found myself rolling my eyes at the characters, the plot, the dialogue, the inner monologue, and basically everything else. I mean, could Christian smirk any more? I swear that word must have been used 1,000 times. (Excuse me, E.L. James, but maybe it's time to purchase a thesaurus.)

When I picked this book up at Chapters, I didn't really know what it was. I had just seen the title all over the interwebs and I had had a woman reference it in real life, so I figured it was time I read it. When I came out of the shop, Ian, who knew more about it than I did, asked me if I realized I had just bought smut. And honestly, I didn't know. But now, here I am reading my first smut book (aside from Catarina in Charge, which Ian and I read to each other while drinking beers and laughing on top of Tin Can Hill last year). I must say, although women are the main audience for these books, I don't think I'm the kind of woman that can take them seriously enough to experience the desired effects.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, I just don't get erotic novels.

How about you? What did you think of 50 Shades of Grey?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At this time last year: July


If you're new around these parts, "at this time last year" is a looking back series I do once a month. I started it three months ago after I found myself continuously wondering about my past. And then, after the first go-round, I decided that this just had to be a regular Gypsy in Jasper feature. There are just so many photos and adventures that I never did share here on the blog. Plus, it feels good to look back and see all that I've done in just a year.

So without further ado, this is what I was up to in July of 2011.

1. I was attempting to photograph Will and Kate during their visit to Yellowknife. Let me just say, I wasn't there as a fan, I was there for work. I'm the furthest thing from a royal watcher. I could have easily survived without ever seeing them or getting close to them. But hey, sometimes you just have to follow orders, get mauled by a crowd and sweat your bag off for The Man.

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2. I was sailing on Great Slave Lake. This was also a work assignment, and it definitely made up for the whole Will and Kate thing. I didn't actually get to sail the boat myself, but I did have a lovely afternoon out on the water.

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3. I was jumping in a bouncy castle with Ian at our work BBQ. It may or may not have been entertainment for the kids and we may or may not have kicked a kid out (he was in there FOREVER!) so we could have a turn. And it may or may not have been the most fun EVER.

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4. I was running from stage left to the childrens' stage at Folk on the Rocks to I hear Fred Penner sing Sandwiches. And then, later on, I met him. He was just eating an ice cream cone and wandering the festival grounds like the amazing human being he is. *Swoon*

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5. I was having a going-away party... which feeds into No. 6, so I won't spoil the surprise and tell you where I was off to. I will tell you, though, that my favourite girls made popsicle stick versions of themselves for me to take along on my journey.

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6. I arrived in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut for my seven week placement. While there, I wrote an entire weekly newspaper all by myself. (If you don't know where Rankin Inlet is, I recommend you look it up. It's in Northern Canada, on the west side of Hudson Bay.) The first thing that struck me when I arrived, was the fact that there are more ATVs than there are cars. Oh! And that there are absolutely no trees or mountains. Heck yes for making it above the treeline! (Excuse me while I clap my hands as if I'm giving myself a high-five.)

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7. I was nearly dying of shock. I knew the food in Nunavut was going to be expensive, but I had no idea it would be this expensive! I literally ended up living off of sandwiches, soup, pasta salad and homemade bread. Not the healthiest diet, but definitely the most affordable one.

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 8. I was exploring my little Northern town, driving out on the road to nowhere, walking along Hudson Bay, jogging on the trails and climbing up to the highest point.

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9. I was learning to appreciate the ground. Coming from a village in a bowl of mountains on Vancouver Island, I never really gave the time of day to the ground. I was always looking up at the enormous trees and the mountains in the distance. But, in Rankin Inlet, where there are no mountains or trees, you find the beauty on the ground.

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10. I was learning to use my camera remote.

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What were you doing at this time last year? Did you take the time to smell the flowers?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Folk on the Rocks 2012

Photobucket As you all know, I just got back from an amazing Northern vacation in Yellowknife, a city North of 60 in Canada's Northwest Territories. It's a beautiful place that I totally recommend everyone visit. I lived there for a year, and I'll likely end up living out my old age there when I decide it's time to settle down and be a full-fledged adult. (I'm so not there yet!!)

Anyway, Ian and I made the journey back up North to take in Folk on the Rocks, an annual folk festival that attracts tons of Canadian bands.

PhotobucketLike Said the Whale, pictured above. I saw them perform twice, once on Friday and then again on Saturday. The Friday night show was the headliner and it was truly amazing. I danced it up right in front of the stage and even watched a dragonfly land on one of the band members' faces. It was awesome. He was totally startled, but managed to just keep singing. He's a professional after all.

Photobucket Also there was Timber Timbre, a band I've been listening to since I was in university. They're a super sombre, haunting, mellow band that is just so freaking amazing. I literally bought my festival tickets just based on the fact that they would be there.

Photobucket The big name on the lineup was Bruce Cockburn, who headlined on the main stage Saturday night. His show was awesome, as well... although I did hear from a reliable source that he is a bit of a diva. But, oh well, he is a Canadian icon. He can be as big a diva as he likes. I mean, when he sang Wondering Where the Lions Are, the crowd flocked to the stage to sing and dance.

Photobucket So anyway, verdict is, the festival was totally worth the trip. There were many more bands that played than I've listed here and every one of them was awesome. The three I would be remise not to mention are the Jerry Cans from Iqualuit, Ohbijou from Toronto and Ron Sexsmith also from Toronto. Seriously, check them out. You won't regret it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What to Wear: in the garden

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So I took the grubby, getting down and dirty approach to garden wear, instead of going all prissy with a garden party-style outfit. Fingers crossed the rest of the ladies did too. Otherwise, I'm going to look like a big ol' mess compared to them. But heck, don't I usually anyway!?

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Since we just arrived home from our Yellowknife getaway, our garden is a bit of a disaster. So, I made a deal with Ian that if he took these photos, I would spend the evening weeding and cleaning things up. Somehow, I think he got the better end of the deal. I seriously lasted 15 minutes and 15 bug bites before I called 'er quits.

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So, garden wear. Basically my approach is to pick out my comfiest jeans/jean shorts and my comfiest top. As you an see, there's no glamour when you're out in my garden. It's all about the knee pads and the suspenders.

From top to bottom:
Shirt: Erasmus Apparel from Yellowknife
Suspenders: Ian's grandfathers
Shorts: Warehouse One Jean Store
Knee pads: Ian's
Shoes: Champion

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Don't forget to check out what the other What to Wear ladies put together. There are five of us posting today, so there should be a good variety of outfits.

Sondra at Abhaya
Adriana at Horses of Ares

If you're interested in joining in the What to Wear fun, throw me an email. We do these posts every second Thursday, with the next one falling on Aug. 9. On that day, we'll all be dressing for What to Wear to the beach.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's good to be back

Hey girls, heyyyy! I'm back. Slim Shady styles. And boy does it feel good. I didn't realize how much I loved all y'all until I took a step away from this little community to take a vacay. Who knew that even on vacation I would want to be writing and chatting with all of you lovely ladies? I sure didn't! I was expecting a sense of freedom. But nope. I missed you! And now I'm back.

So I bet you're all wondering how my delicious Northern adventure went. Amiright? Are you wondering? Or am I just being self-centred, assuming you care? No. That can't be true. Of course you care. Why else would you pop in?

*Deep breath.*

OK. Here it goes...

The sky just before midnight on Saturday! That's right, it's light out at midnight. Pretty great, right?
The vacation was AWESOME. Yellowknife was just as beautiful as I remembered it. The sun was out until at least 12 a.m. each night and even when it went down, it was still light out. I must say, I miss that. In Jasper, it's "light out" until about 10:30, but not as light out as it is in Yellowknife. Plus, with the mountains surrounding us, we rarely get to see a sunset. In Yellowknife, on the other hand, there is almost a guarantee you'll see a gorgeous sunset every night. And then a few hours later, you'll also get a beautiful sunrise. (I apologize for not taking any photos of them. For some reason, I found myself leaving my camera in my bag for a lot of the weekend. Strange, I know!)



 So here's a quick and dirty rundown of what went down North of 60.
  • I went for a walk and enjoyed some girl talk with two of my best girls.
  • Ate an amazing dinner prepared by Ian's mom.
  • Witnessed my pals from Jasper surprising their sister/sister-in-law for her birthday. (She lives in Yellowknife!) She cried, and it was great... especially since she was on stage in the middle of a gig when the fam walked in.
  • Danced at my FAVOURITE bar, the Gold Range.
  • Ate an 81 from the Noodle House. (The best Vietnamese restaurant around.)
  • Drank mojitos on a patio with my girl Nicole.
  • Saw a ton of amazing Canadian bands at Folk on the Rocks. (I'll tell you more about that on Friday!)
  • Attended a wicked-awesome after party with all of the bands.
  • Went for a swim in Long Lake with my new pink flippy-floppy flippers.
  • Ate an enormous brunch with a couple of pals.
  • Got a bit of a sunburn.
  • Participated in the renaming of Ian's parents' new boat. It included champagne at 10 a.m. and then waffles. Not a bad way to start your day!
  • Shared a plane with Ron Sexsmith.

My flippy-floppies, courtesy of Ian/the back of his buddy's car. Thanks to both of them for improving my swimming experience by one million. I can't wait to put these bad-boys to good use this summer.


So, as you can see, it was a wicked trip. I have to admit, though, I'm happy to be home. It felt good to walk into our apartment yesterday afternoon. I guess that just means I'm living in the right place, even if I do miss Yellowknife from time to time.

Well guys, that's all for today. I'll recap the festival on Friday, so you can see how close I was to the amazing Canadian artists who made the journey to the land of the midnight sun. As for tomorrow, it's time for another What to Wear, and it'll be an exciting one, as we have a few new contributors!! In total, I think there will be five of us showing you what to wear in the garden. Be sure to pop by to check out my outfit and to find the links to the other lovely ladies' blogs.

I hope everyone had a great week! What have you-all been up to in my absence?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post: Bekuh from Secondhand Sundays

Heyyyyy ladies! Guess what!? I'll be back to GinJ tomorrow after my glorious Yellowknife vacay. Be ready for some photos and adventure stories. In the meantime, I have a huge treat for you -- a post from Bekuh of Secondhand Sundays. Wait until you see the delicious dish she's whipped up! The photos have me dying for some breakie. Enjoy!

Hello Gypsy in Jasper readers, my name is Bekuh and I blog over at Secondhand Sundays. I'm thrilled to be guest posting a little something while Nicole is on vacay and hope you'll stick around and learn something new with me today. Cooking is fun.

My husband Ryan and I love to cook, so much so that I actually have a special feature on my blog just for our adventures in food. It doesn't matter if it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner we'll use any excuse to create a new dish out of whatever-we-have-on-hand around the house. I don't mean to brag or anything, but we're pretty good at making up dishes with almost nothing in our pantry. When we're down to the bare bones one of our favorite dishes to make is a frittata. Frittatas are kind of like baked omelets; but instead of folding all of the goodies inside the eggs, it's all scrambled together and cut like a pie. I'm all for recipes that you can substitute ingredients based on availability and this one is perfect for just that. Here's how you do it:
Everything Plus the Kitchen Sink Frittata: Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 eggs
2 cups spinach (or any greens you have)
1 large pepper
1 potato (any kind)
1 medium sized onion
3 cloves garlic (we love garlic)
Cheddar cheese (or any kind of cheese)
Bacon (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive oil

For a frittata you want to select ingredients that are colorful, fresh, and in season. I never make a frittata without cheese or something green, and we usually make them without meat. Other than that, you can put in whatever you like. 

Step 1: Dice and slice all of your veggies to your liking. I recommend thinly slicing the potatoes.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 375F/190C and your skillet on medium. Generously pour the olive oil into your pan, then add your potatoes. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of your veggies.

Step 3: Add the other veggies, garlic, and salt and pepper everything to taste. Cook until everything is tender, then turn off the heat. Shred some cheddar on top of your cooked veggies, I always add more after I add the eggs (I like it cheesy). [Note: If you do not have an oven safe skillet you will need to pull out a baking dish to finish the recipe. Just transfer all of the veggies to the greased dish and continue]

Step 4: Scramble all six eggs in a separate bowl and pour them over the veggies. Try to cover as much of the veggies as you can. You may need to pick up the skillet or baking dish and tilt it to get everything covered. Add more cheese if you'd like, and you're now ready to transfer the frittata to the oven. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are completely cooked.

Once you've removed the frittata from the oven there are two courses of action you can take. Purest say that a frittata is better served cold, but I like my still piping hot. It's up to you how you eat the dish and what you serve it with. I say that this recipe serves four, but if you're like Ryan and I you'll probably eat the whole thing by yourselves. It's a little addictive. Thanks for reading, I hope you'll stop by Secondhand Sundays and visit sometime soon. big kiss, bekuh


My goodness, doesn't that look just divine? Huge thanks to Bekuh for wrapping up my week of guest posts and for going out with a bang. That frittata seriously looks amazing. I think it might just be my Sunday morning meal! 


See all of you tomorrow!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest post: Things I don't understand with Lisa from Not Ladylike

Hey guys! I'm so excited to inform you that, although I'm away on a glorious Northern adventure, "Things I don't understand" will continue! You see, after I wrote my first TIDU post, my pal Lisa posted a comment with a list of her own things she doesn't understand. So I thought, 'How perfect! I should get her to do a post of her own.' So I asked and now here we are this fine Monday with five more things to add to the ever-expanding list of things we just don't understand.

Hidee Ho! I'm Lisa, and I blog over at notladylike. And I have been stalking Nicole for some time, I mean, quietly enjoying her blog! HA! So when she asked me to do a guest post of all things, I did one of those mid-air fist pump things and I may or may not have done a little awesome dance. And to boot, she asked for some "Things I Don't Understand". Well, my friends, I could fill an entire blog with things I don't understand.

So without further ado...


1. Facebook Games. Do they contribute overall to my brain power, or well-being, or society as a whole? No. Do they allow me to disconnect from real life and lose myself in the need to "harvest" corn, and move jewels around while I could be doing something productive? Yes, yes indeed. And most important, are the constant requests from my friends to join in their brain-drain super annoying and make me want to pull my hair out and cancel my Facebook account for ever and ever? You betcha!

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2. Leaving the water on when brushing your teeth or washing your hands. What a waste! A little wet goes a long way people, and the water isn't getting any better for having been on this whole time. Geez Louise!

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3. Texting while walking! Especially while crossing the street. I even saw an "old guy" doing it the other day. It's mostly just teenagers. (Those wee ones deserve a whole "Things I Don't Understand" post of their very own.) I really like it when they stick their foot out just shy of the curb and have to feel around for it, cause they know it's there somewhere, but they still don't want to divert their attention from the phone! Hilarious!! I will admit that I am guilty of this, but never in a public place!


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4. Vanity plates. I don't know about your city, but 90% of the vanity plates in Edmonton are unintelligible. They are either some sort of inside joke, or initials of the driver and their close personal everyone they know. Or they  are cutesy and you can tell the owner tried to make a joke or a pun or be witty, but it is obviously not their strong suit! Or they are misspelled. Oh dear.

5. Hotel/casino resort complexes. We stayed one night in this casino/hotel in Vancouver last week, on our way home from Vancouver Island. It was kind of creepy, like, The Shining creepy. Maybe I just don't get casinos (that's on my list as well), but I really don't get the draw of a casino as your holiday destination. I had to walk about a kilometre (that's 0.62 miles for you Yanks) through a maze of "business centres" and the "spa" to find the darn pool. What I will admit, though, is that those were the comfiest, coziest, mattress-pillow combinations I have ever slept on in my whole life. Sigh... maybe I totally understand, but can't admit it to myself. Oh dear indeed.

And that is all, my friends! Thanks to Nicole for letting me play along. I am super jealous of her adventure North right now, but I will instead focus on my first day back at work after my nice vacation. Oh... crap.
Oh man! I learned my lesson why not to walk and text a couple years ago when I walked straight into a pole. My friends thought it was pretty hilarious and laughed so hard that I almost peed my pants. Let's just say, I walk and text less frequently than I used to. I'd rather make my friends wait a few minutes than see stars for the rest of the day. Anyway, a huge thanks to Lisa for doing a wicked-awesome job of filling in for me. This post was hilarious and so true. There isn't a single point that I wouldn't add to my own list. 

What don't you understand? Anything you want to add?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Post: Sondra from Abhaya talks yoga

Blarghhhhh! I posted this early this morning and just now realized that things went wonky. I'm not sure how I messed things up, but I did. So, sorry for the delay... and now on with your regularly scheduled programming.


Well everyone, this is a first in GinJ history: a post about yoga!! I couldn't be more excited to introduce all of you to Sondra, who is an incredibly inspiring woman and blogger. She has a fantastic post for all of you today. I hope you enjoy it!

Hello, Gypsy in Jasper fans! My name is Sondra and I blog over at abhaya about yoga, natural living, and style. You might remember me from such posts as last week's What to Wear feature (In my head, that last line is totally in Troy McClure's voice). I'm pretty new at this whole blogging thing, so I am so happy and honored that Nicole trusts me with all you lovely readers while she's on vacation!

Today I thought I'd share with you all a bit about yoga and why it's so awesome. Already practice? Great! Then why aren't you following my blog already? ;) I'm going to share the top three reasons why you should consider starting your own practice.

3. Confidence. Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and criticize your reflection? Or un-tag yourself from photos that your friend posted from last night's party because you don't like the way you look? We've all been there. It's nearly impossible to not internalize all of the negativity that's directed towards women in our culture. From impossibly airbrushed magazine covers to the personally-trained-stylist-dressed actresses looking back at you from the movie screen, the standard of "beauty" is unrealistic. If you've been following Amy at Vanagon Champion's message of radical self-love, then you're already on the self-love train. Yoga teaches that where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be. Your body does a million amazing things for you everyday, and it's time to start celebrating what it does for you, not what you think it doesn't. Working in your body and experiencing it from the inside out gives you a whole new perspective and appreciation for the skin you live in.

2. Playing Your Edges. We all fall into one of two categories: we either have a tendency to push ourselves too hard, or on the flip side, we don't push ourselves hard enough. We might switch sides from time to time, but we're usually on one side of the fence or the other. I find myself most often on the not pushing myself hard enough side. When you practice yoga, you learn to find that happy medium of effort and ease. You realize pretty quickly that if you don't push yourself hard enough that you'll never be able to hold that plank position or get into that crazy pose. On the other hand, if you push yourself too hard you'll wind up injured and sore. Learning to take this lesson from the mat and into my life has been one of the most valuable things yoga has taught me. One of my first teachers said to me once, "find comfort in the discomfort." This has stuck with me through many challenging positions, both on the mat and off.

1. Connecting Our Minds With Our Bodies. I think many people underestimate how powerful this connection really is. When we feel depressed or sad, our shoulders slump, we round over, and the shoulders push forward. We do this instinctively when we're feeling exposed, to protect our organs and vulnerable parts. Or think about when your'e anxious or nervous; your stomach clenches up, your heart beats faster, maybe you get a little light headed. How we feel mentally and emotionally shows up in our body, in these more obvious ways, but also from the just the everyday ups and downs that we all experience. Yoga teachers like to say, "our issues are in our tissues," and it is so true. I have literally made myself sick from worry! But by learning to connect our minds with our bodies, we can gain insight to both, and eventually you can start to take back control of both when you need to. Just start by noticing your breath right now. What kind of quality does it have? Short, shallow, ragged? Whatever it is, start to deepen your inhales and exhales, counting the length of each. Try to lengthen your out-breaths until they're longer than your in-breath, and continue with this for a couple of minutes. See? Don't you feel a bit better? I hope so! :)

Yoga isn't about being able to twist up into a pretzel, it truly teaches a way of life. Even if all you do is take a minute to take a few deep breaths everyday, than you're already on your way. I seriously had a hard time limiting this post to the top three ways you can gain from a yoga practice - I could easily come up with a dozen more! Easy ways to learn more:
- Videos and how-tos on YouTube and Yoga Journal
- Look for a free or donation based class in your area. More and more studios are starting to offer these.
-  Follow my blog (sorry for the shameless plug!). Seriously though, I'm all about finding ways to use yoga in your life, especially in ways that aren't necessarily what you might think (Meditate in the shower! Feel amazing in that new skirt!) and that don't require any prior knowledge or practice.

I hope you all have enjoyed learning a little more about my passion, and that it inspires you to make an investment in yourself and try it out. If you have any questions or want more resources, don't be shy and leave a comment!

Namaste!
Sondra

P.S. (Ever wonder what namaste means? "In me is a place of love, light, and truth. When I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, together in the moment we are one." Beautiful, huh?)

I'll be honest, I have only done yoga twice, once by following a VHS tape (for reals!) and another time in a class. The tape didn't do much for me, but the class was quite glorious. After reading Sondra's reasons for practising yoga, I think I might just have to pick it up and take it a little more seriously this time around. So thanks to Sondra for inspiring me. I hope she's inspired you as well!

Are you a yogi? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest post: A challenge from Trisha at veranellies

The guest posts continue today with yet another fantastic bloggy pal of mine, Trisha from veranellies. I found Trisha's blog a couple of months back after she commented on a Love Elycia post. Her comment - about putting esthetician heads into the walls of her home for unsuspecting future renovators to find - was so hilarious that I immediately emailed here. And, here we are a couple months later, still chatting together, laughing together, and even sharing blog space. So, without further ado, please welcome Trisha to GinJ.

Hi Everyone! As you may know, Nicole is away and has asked some bloggers to take over her space while she's gone. I am really honored that she asked me to take part, but I did warn her she may see a decrease in readership when she comes back. This is a normal occurrence when you ask a sarcastic, 30-something to take over for the day. If I had more time I would have found the statistics to back up this statement, you'll just have to trust me on my findings.

Introductions.. my name is Trisha and I blog over at veranellies. I love antiquing (I collect vintage metal lunchboxes, pyrex and 50's cat eye glasses), creating (recently I finished building- yes I personally built - a studio in my backyard), baking and starting new businesses. I always seem to have a new business idea and am currently in the process of starting up two businesses. I also love sewing, knitting and crocheting. Sleeping is not a high priority for me!

I talked to Nicole before she left about what she would want me to share with you all and she left it very wide open. I obviously joked with her that I am a very boring person and have nothing of interest to share. But she demanded this was not true, to stop being a wacko and to just write.

So... if you have made it this far, you are doing well and thank you! What I decided to write about is a little bit about my adventure changing the way myself and my husband live. We have both always been very conscience about the environment; we never take plastic bags when we go to the market, we always bring our own reusable ones; we use natural cleaners; we shop for our food at a farmers' market and are in the process of turning our yards into different gardens in which we will be able to supply our own fruits and veggies, my husband is even going to keep organic bees starting next spring. I'm also in the process of opening an organic and all natural soap line - it will have bar soaps, lotions, lip balms, deodorants and salves.

While you think you may know a lot about "being green" sometimes it takes a documentary to open your eyes even wider. In the early spring I watched two different documentaries. One was Chemerical and the other was Bag It (click the links to be taken to my write ups about them). These movies changed my life and enlightened me even further. Like I said, I thought I knew it all in regards to "doing my part". It took a while before I posted about them because I was trying to decide what I wanted to say and how to say it without coming off as preaching to people. But when it comes right down to it, I feel extremely passionate about these issues and am willing to share any and all knowledge I have to help others "see the light". People need to know what is actually in their cleaners and soaps they put on their body and use in their homes. They need to know what plastics are doing to the environment. So I just decided to say it like it is. I'm a no BS type of girl. I don't want to hear any excuses as to why you can't or won't take part in making a small dent in helping the environment.

So here's my challenge to all of you. It's a small step. I'm not asking you-all to go as far as I have and make your own deodorant! Baby steps people, baby steps - I'm not expecting miracles here!

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Here it is: stop taking a plastic bag or bags when you go to the market or shop. Bring your own canvas or cloth bag and if you forget yours, that is your punishment, figure out a way to balance everything on your person to get it out to your car or bicycle (it can become a game for you like those cheesy 80's and 90's game shows like Double Dare, just pretend Mark Summers will be at your car to give you a prize if you make it without dropping anything). I have done this many times (Mark Summers has never been at my car though.. so that sort of sucks). You get some very odd looks and the cashier will try to force as many plastic bags as they possibly can give you, on you, but be strong. Refuse! You know the notorious, one item in each bag thing they love to do, just say NO! I know you can do it. With this small step, work up from there.

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Really look at the cleaners you have in your home. Realize what these can and are doing to yourself and your family and look into changing products. Method and Seventh Generation are both great companies that truly do use natural plant based ingredients. Both of these brands are sold pretty much everywhere - so make the switch..then go from there..as far as you'd like to go.

Challenge your readers to do the same thing. Even if it's just a 30 day pledge to not use a single plastic bag. Like I said, start small and start with a goal you know is something feasible.

Please join me in just saying NO! I've created a few buttons, please post them on your blogs, join in and spread the movement! Please stop by my blog if you take the challenge and pass it on to your readers. I'd love to know and meet all of you willing to make a change.
Thank you all for reading, and thank you to Nicole for letting me take over her blog for a day!

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So guys, are you going to take the pledge? I know I am. In fact, you may have noticed that I already have a button up. So, what do you say? Shall we make a difference one bag at a time? Thanks so much to Trisha for writing this post and for starting this link-up. I'm excited to see who takes her up on this exciting challenge. Oh boy, I can't wait to be at the grocery store without bags so I can meet Mark Summers!!

My week of guest posts continues tomorrow with another way out of my element post. (Not to say I'm a plastic bag lover, I'm just a closeted greeny who doesn't know nearly as much about all-natural, organic, handmade, eco-friendly business as Trisha does.) Anyway, be sure to check in tomorrow to see what I have in store. It might inspire you to get a little bendy!

Guest post: Amanda from Little Lady Little City

Oh my goodness guys, I'm finally on the road! I'm heading to Edmonton today and then tomorrow I'll be hopping on a jet plane to Yellowknife! But of course, I couldn't leave you-all hanging all week for me to get back, so instead I have the most lovely of lovely bloggers here to keep you company - beginning with... DRUM ROLL, PLEASE... the amazing Amanda of Little Lady Little City. Seriously folks, this girl is so inspiring and cool. Read on to find out what makes her so bad-ass.

Hi everyone, I'm Amanda from Little Lady Little City, and I'm so excited to be doing a guest post for Nicole because as you all know she is all kinds of amazing! I seriously look forward to all her posts, as I am sure you do too.
When Nicole ask me to do this guest post she kindly allowed me free range of topics to write about. Honestly the first thing and only thing that popped into my head was to write about the house I am building with my fiancé, Will.

The house so far!
So to begin with a little back story: Will and I met after college while living in Los Angeles working whatever jobs we could to afford the city. After both living out there for a couple years we decided we had enough with the big city and decided to move out to the boonies of West Virginia to build a house in an old abandoned apple orchard on top of a mountain. We are both extremely fortunate that we work freelance (video editors/post production visual effects) so making such a dramatic move was possible without having to change our careers.  Will grew up working on houses with his parents who are both general contractors, so the whole building a house from the ground up was nothing new for him. For me on the other hand, it has been a whole other story! 
 

This is what the land first looked like when we started three years ago (yup we have been working on this bad boy for three years). I don't think either of us thought it would take that long to get it to where it is now, but between work and life it has. We are still beyond proud of what we've accomplished! 
 
The footers.
The ground is so incredibly rocky (I'm talking about rocks the size of my torso) that we were often set back due to the tires popping on our Bobcat as we tried to dig the area for our foundation.


Looking back on these pictures I can hardly believe that we dug that hole and poured those footers and then stacked all those cinder blocks. It was such an insane amount of work. I mean, look at that wall, it's already taller than me and that was at the very beginning!

But we eventually got the walls and the roof up! One of the hardest things about this house is laying every one of the cinder blocks. If I never have to pick up another cinder block in my life it will still be too soon, haha. This October Will and I will be getting married up here in the apple orchard next to the house, so we are hoping we can finish up the insides before the wedding. But, even if it doesn't get completely done I think everyone will have a great time just getting to see what we have spent the last three years working on. 

Thanks again to Nicole for allowing me to share some of our house building with you all! 
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday! 

Isn't their life just the coolest. I know the idea of spending three years building a house seems kind of crazy, but think of how good it's going to feel when that sucker is done! Holy man. I swear, Amanda and Will are the only people I know who can say they built their house from the ground up without the help of fancy contractors or construction workers, and if you ask me, that's something to be hella proud of. Thanks Amanda for sharing your story with everyone over here at GinJ. 

I have another treat for all of you readers out there tomorrow when Trisha from veranellies whips everyone into shape with a new pledge. Don't miss it! It's a good one.