Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Walking Dead

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Moaning, leg dragging, brrraaaaiiiinnnnnssss and plenty of fake blood are all things that pretty much sum up the excitement of Sunday night. Sadly, I did none of the moaning, screaming or leg dragging, nor was I covered in red food colouring. Instead, I was bundled up in a down jacket, running around like a looney toon trying to photograph the undead as they participated in Jasper's fifth annual Zombie Walk.

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Since it's All Hallow's Eve, I thought you-all might enjoy seeing some of the creative costumes and face painting that graced the streets of my otherwise pristine, quaint little town.

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Eeeeeep! Those clowns were seriously creepy. They didn't say a word the entire walk. Instead, they hissed and gurgled. It was horrifying, while also totally impressive. They were by far my favourites. I mean, that's some dedication to your costume right there!

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Happy Halloween everybody! Is everyone dressing up tonight or did you do that over the weekend? I'm getting costumed-up and I'm heading out on the town with my pal Morgan. I'm actually pretty pumped. I think it will be fun to celebrate Halloween in the BIG CITY! Fingers crossed I can find my hotel at the end of the night!

Don't forget to check in tomorrow when I show you my costume!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: being a big girl edition

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Guys! Not only did I make it to Edmonton ALL BY MYSELF yesterday, I also stayed in a hotel room ALL BY MYSELF, I drove in the city ALL BY MYSELF and I even found where I needed to go ALL BY MYSELF.

This is a big deal. A really, really big deal. I mean, yes, I'm an independent woman in most things, but driving and being in a strange city, well, those just aren't things that I do all alone. I have moved across the country alone more than once. I have flown alone a bazillion times. I've eaten in restaurants alone. I've gone on solo hikes. I've done tons of things alone. But, for some reason, the things I do alone just aren't that scary to me. I mean, I get butterflies when I move to a new place and don't know anyone, and when I eat alone, I wonder if everyone's watching me, but those are fears I can handle.

Driving in general, for me, is the most anxiety filled activity EVER, so to have driven TO the city alone, driven IN the city alone and figured out directions on my own, I feel like the champ of all champs. I am for-serious on top of the world. And, for that I am thankful. I'm thankful that I was forced to challenge myself and I'm thankful that I lived up to the challenge.

(If you didn't read my post on Sunday, I found out on Friday that I had to go to Edmonton for work this week, and because it's in the middle of the week, I had to make the drive ALL BY MYSELF, rather than having Ian act as my chauffeur, as I would have much preferred.)

What are you guys thankful for this week? Have you concurred any of your fears or surprised yourself with how capable you actually are? Tell me about, won't you?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Hive Botanicals: a giveaway!

Before I get into the giveaway business, I just want you-all to know that I truly have the BEST blog pals ever. Seriously, I am so blessed. You gals are amazing and appreciate every comment you make and every email you send. I've been blogging for awhile now, but it's just been in recent months that I've built my own little community, and that community is now totally irreplaceable in my life. I can't imagine what things would be like without this blog and without all of you. So, thanks a million for being so freaking rad!

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OK, now onto one of the reasons I felt the need to get all mushy up in here. That reason or person, I should say, is Trisha from Veranellies. You've heard me talk about this amazing woman numerous times before, so if you haven't visited her blog yet, you probably should already!

Trisha has just started a wicked new business called The Hive Botanicals. She sells handmade vegan soaps and lip balms. And the other day, she sent me a box full of her goods as a b-day present. (When I say, FULL, I mean FULL!)

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As I dug into the box, the first thing I discovered was this Grapefruit Tangerine soap. Seriously guys, this stuff smells awesome. It's so fresh and citrusy. I'm usually a body wash kind of girl, because I generally find it has a better smell than soap, but this stuff proves that theory WAY wrong. I dig it big time and I think it's going to become my go-to shower-time soap.

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Trisha also sent me a bar of Lavender soap with a smell that makes me want to take a long bath and just relax. Yum! I could definitely use an evening like that one night this week.

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Now here is where the giveaway comes in. Along with the two bars of soap, Trisha also sent me every flavour of lip balm she makes. That equals EIGHT flavours. Not even kidding, as I moved the bubble wrap aside and saw the bottom of the box, there was a bit of a happy dance before I dove right in to find the Black Forest Cake flavoured one. I've been dreaming about this guy since Trisha told me about her dreams of a new shop. Seriously folks, black forest cake on your lips, all day!! So good. So, so gooood.

Anyway, after experiencing how awesome this stuff is and realizing that, even after a few days of constant use, I haven't even made a dent in my first tin, I asked Trisha if I could give four of the eight lip balms away to one of you. And, of course, she said "Go for it!" So here we are with The Hive Botanicals first-ever giveaway.

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What flavours can you win, you ask!? Well, let me tell you! Up for grabs are Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Cherry. Yum! If you mix all of those together it will taste like an AMAZING ice cream sundae. Dontcha think!?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't make me do it!

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I'm an anxious driver. If I have the option, I always choose the passenger seat over the driver's seat any day. Because of that tendency, my longest drive ever was literally to Banff from Jasper. That's only a four-hour stretch of highway. I know it's ridiculous, but I would trust ANYONE else behind the wheel more than I trust myself. I don't know what it is, but when I'm the driver, especially on the highway or in a city, my heart starts pounding, I get sweaty palms and I basically just want to pullover and quit.
Actually, if we're being honest, I have pulled over and quit. When I finally arrived in Banff and entered the parking garage, I had a wee mental breakdown, which resulted in me jumping out of the driver's seat and forcing Ian into it.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I'm dreading Monday. Why you ask? Well, because I'm driving to Edmonton (4 hours away) all by myself. Now, this isn't a pleasure trip, it's for work. So, I can't really back out. I HAVE to go. And, because it's a weekday trip, Ian can't be my driver. Oh man! Just writing about this is giving me heart palpitations and I haven't even mentioned the worst part.

Winter has arrived here in Alberta, as you all well know, so that means not only am I driving ALONE for four hours, I'm driving ALONE for FOUR HOURS IN THE SNOW!! And then, once the four hours are up... I HAVE TO DRIVE IN THE CITY. (I know you're thinking it, but NO, I am not overusing caps. If this isn't caps worthy, I don't know what is!)

Help!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Needle and Nest warmed my heart

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Is there anything better than mail? Like, seriously, is there? Because if there is, I should probably discover it so I can kick my online shopping habits. Gah! Stop me before I get off track. You see, this post is about mail and online shopping in a way, but it's also about an AMAZING woman in my life. Shall I start from the beginning and stop rambling, and possibly start making sense now?

OK. Deal. So, my pal Mel over at Needle and Nest sent me a package the other day and boy oh! boy did she ever give me a surprise. You see, I ordered an amazing mushroom embroidery from her shop to hang above my new workstation (did I mention I have a new stay-at-home job starting next week!?!) and when the embroidery arrived, it came with SO MUCH MORE than I could have ever imagined.

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There were three individually wrapped little packages along with my gorgeous mushroom-piece. I was so surprised by the extra items that I actually squealed as I opened each little enveloped. And then, after I opened them all, I got to open a secret little note that said the doily earrings, feather necklace and button brooch were all belated birthday presents from Mel's shop!! Is that not the sweetest?

Photobucket And isn't everything gorgeous!? Of course it is, right!? I mean, Mel is such a talented mama. She's always upcycling clothes and creating amazing crafts and accessories. It seems she can't go a week without creating SOMETHING! And, man, do I ever admire that. I wish I had that kind of creativity. Mine comes and goes like my love for early 2000s pop tunes. You know, like, some days I could really go for a sing-along to B44 and other days, I think those bleach blonde, fake tanned twins are absolutely revolting. Yup, that's basically my relationship with arts and crafts. Like, I seriously have a crocheted blanket that I started back in May and it's now only about a THIRD of the way done! A THIRD. But Mel, that lady, she has something new on her blog every week. It could be a Halloween costume for one of her two adorable kids, an upcyled dress or a skirt or a vest or a bag or a necklace or whatever really. That lady has crafting down.

Just look at the amazing brooch and necklace she made for me!

Photobucket Confession time: So, I was so excited to receive my new accessories that I changed out of my orange shirt and into my green shirt, so that I could wear my gifts to work in the afternoon. Yup. I'm one of THOSE girls. I don't care, though, because it gave me an opportunity to show off all of my gorgeous new gifts.

Anyway, before I gush too much about my love for Mel and her amazing craftiness, I'm going to sign off for the day. But, first, let me tell you that because Mel is a totally rad mamacita, she is offering 15% off to Gypsy in Jasper readers. You just have to mention Sweet Gypsy when you order from her shop! Easy peasy, right!?

So, get on it will you!? Order yourself something pretty and let me know what you pick.

Happy Friday all. I hope you have a wicked-awesome weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ladies of the Mountains: camping recipe

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The ladies are back and today we're talking about our favourite camping recipes. It feels a little silly to be talking about such things with fresh snow on the ground here in Jasper, but here it goes. I mean, I can always dream about one last camping trip before the ski season, right!?

So, here's what that dream would look like: It's fall. The leaves are all different shades of beautiful. There's a lake within sight. I'm bundled up in fleece and wool. I'm wearing a toque and a scarf and the tip of my nose is red from the slight bite in the air. I'm with Ian and a few friends and we've all just rolled out of our down sleeping bags to find the first batch of cowboy coffee is already made.

Now, it's time to make breakfast. And what might that be, you ask!? Well, of course, it's an egg muffin with avocado, tomato, cheese and bacon. Can you say YUM!? If you've never made these while camping, you are missing out.

Photobucket When we went on our rafting trip, we had egg muffins for breakfast on our final day, and not only were they delicious, they had the perfect level of grease to help everyone kick their two-day hangovers. I wish I had a photo of the finish product, but once the eggs and bacon were done, it was no time before my muffin was assembled and devoured.

As you can see from the photo, there's no Coleman stove in use. Everything was cooked right on the coals. And, man, did the smoke ever add a delicious flavour. Yum!

Well folks, that's my favourite camping food. What's yours? Are you fancy with your meals when you camp or are you a hot dog on a stick kind of camper? (I have to admit, I love me a burnt hot dog with lots of ketchup and relish! So GOOD.)

Before you forget about delicious camping food, be sure to check out what the other Ladies of the Mountains chose as their favourite recipes.

Gentri of Gentri Lee
Lena of Musings
Michelle of On The Adventure
Meagan of The Egg Out West
Kelley of A Crooked Trail

Oh! And check out Gentri's blog to find out who won $25 to Outside Everywhere!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Homemade Big Mac

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If you've been a reader for awhile, you know that Ian is all about cooking up ridiculous things, and that, more often than not, those ridiculous meals are ridiculously unhealthy and ridiculously delicious. Well, that's the case with our dinner on Sunday night. You see, Ian watched a YouTube video on how to make a Big Mac a week or two ago and has been talking about it ever since. So, on Sunday night, he proposed we make them using the ingredients that we already had in the house. And, of course, I said "Heck yes! Let's do it."

And, as always, I have no regrets. It turns out, Big Macs are incredibly easy to make. The patties are literally just ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper. There is nothing else in them! So, you just make two really thin patties, fry them up until they are good and cooked and pop them on a bun with shredded lettuce, diced onions, sliced pickles, cheese slices and Big Mac sauce -- mayo, Thousand Island Dressing, relish, paprika and garlic powder. Easy peasy and so delicious.

Now, we didn't have any sesame seed buns, so we used some multigrain ones we had in the fridge. We also didn't have cheese slices because, well, they're disgusting, so we used cheddar. And, we didn't have iceberg lettuce, so we used leaf. But, even with all the alterations, our burgers turned out to be amazing. They actually tasted like Big Macs, although, ever so slightly better. (I think the real cheddar did the trick!)

So, there you have it folks, another of our glutenous dinners. Have you ever tried to recreate a meal from a fast food restaurant? This is Ian's second recreation. The first was the Double Down from KFC. I have to admit, that was pretty damn good, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: snow-covered trees edition

Photobucket If you checked in yesterday, then you know winter has already arrived in Jasper. We had a weekend of beautiful snow. There isn't a ton yet, but I still took the time to enjoy what little we have on Sunday afternoon. I went for a short drive and a little stroll near Patricia Lake and just took in the beauty of the sun reflecting off Jasper's newly installed white carpet.

Photobucket There is just something about the first snowfall of the year. Everything looks so pristine and calm under a fresh layer of snow. And, for some reason, everything seems so still and quiet. I love that silence, the sound of crunching snow under my feet and the crisp air of winter. And, I'm thankful to live in a place where I can enjoy all of those things.

Photobucket Do you get snow where you are? What's your favourite thing about the first snowfall of the season?

Monday, October 22, 2012

What to Wear: to welcome winter

Photobucket Well folks, as you can see, autumn is now a distant memory here in Jasper. We had snow Friday night and Saturday and I think it might be here to stay. I've always had mixed feelings about the snow. Actually, to be honest, I used to hate it. I think that's mostly because of growing up on Vancouver Island in a town where we'd get two days of snow followed by three days of rain. The first two days would be awesome. We would build forts, have snowball fights and just enjoy every minute of our time jumping around in white powder. Then, the following week would be miserable as the snow and rain would mix to make a horrendous slushy mess. Ick! It actually wasn't until I moved to Yellowknife in 2010 that I grew to appreciate the snow. And this year, I'm actually excited to see it.

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I actually didn't even know about Friday night's snowfall until Saturday morning. I was lying in bed scrolling through my Twitter-feed, trying not to wake Ian, when I read that Maligne Lake Road had received 25 centimetres of snow the previous night. When I read those words, I immediately sprang up to take a peak through the blinds... promptly waking Ian who I hit in the face on my way up. Whoops.

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Anyway, this is what I wore to celebrate the snowfall. It is nearly too cold for this jacket already, but I toughed it out. I figure, if it's autumn everywhere else, I should at least have a few more days or weeks in my faux leather jacket before I trade it in for something warmer.

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From head to toe:
Toque: A vintage shop on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton
Scarf: Ardene
Jacket: Thrifted
Jeans: American Eagle
Shoes: Athlete's World

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On a non-snow related note, guess what everybody!?! I took these photos myself. That's right, I FINALLY pulled out the ol' tripod and remote and gave self-shot outfit photos a go. It wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. Although, there is a noticeable lack of variation in the photos. It's definitely going to take some practise before I start getting fancy. But, all in all, I'm pretty stoked on the outcome.

Have you ever tried taking your own outfit photos? Do you find it terribly difficult and awkward? If not, do you have any pointers for a noob?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mind blowing garden gnomes

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Remember how garden gnome painting was on my list of 25 things to do before I turned 26? Well, Ian and I finally got around to it... two weeks after my birthday. Better late than never, right!?

Our thrifted little men, an accordion player and a fiddle player, had literally been primed white for three months. And, they'd been sitting on a coffee table that way, looking slightly creepy, all this time. But, now, three months later, they are totally revamped. Seriously, wait until you see the before and after pictures. They are going to blow your mind. That's right, mind blowing garden gnomes are in the HOUUUUUSE.

Photobucket Admittedly, these guys were cute before they got a coat of paint. I mean, they're just so sweet and innocent looking. But, after, oh! after. They just look so much more us. Amiright!?

PhotobucketIf you can't tell, the one on the left is mine and the one on the right is Ian's. Mine went from being a friendly old man to being a friendly young man, while Ian's went from being a friendly old man to a scary mariner with no eyeballs. Weird? Yes. So totally Ian. Absolutely!

I assume garden gnome painting is self explanatory, but, in case it's not, here are some pointers:

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1) Spray paint the entire gnome white, making sure to use long strokes rather than concentrated sprays, so you end up with an even coat.

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2) Let dry.

3) Paint however you like. (If you're into Ian's bloody mariner look, use hot glue as texture for the blood and once it's dry, paint the glue red.)

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4) Spray the entire gnome with lacquer. (We haven't done this step yet. It's on my new to-do list.)

5) Display in your garden, or, in our case, on your shelf.

*In other gnome-related news, I've decided that's what I want to be for Halloween! I was totally inspired by our little painting party, so now I need to get down to business on a costume. Wish me luck!*

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What to Wear: on laundry day


Photobucket Hey folks. It's What to Wear time again, and this edition we're dressing for laundry day.

Now, that doesn't mean what we would wear to do laundry. It means, what we wear when we're in NEED of a laundry day. For me, laundry day generally means I'm out of skinny jeans. So, I am forced to wear either a pair of loose fitting jeans, a skirt or a dress. In this case, I went for a skirt. *Excuse the wrinkles. These photos were taken after a day of sitting at my desk.*

Photobucket Since finding skinny jeans that fit my short and stout body last Easter, I have had a hard time wearing anything else. In the days before skinny jeans in my wardrobe, I lived for dresses and tights, but nowadays I don't wear dresses or skirts very often at all. That's why laundry day is a nice change in my world.

Photobucket From top to bottom:
Scarf: Ardene
Shirt: Thrifted
Cardigan: Walmart
Skirt: Thrifted
Tights: Modcloth
Shoes: Ardene

Photobucket (If you can't tell, I'm freezing in these pictures. The temperatures are dropping big time in Jasper. We've even had snow already!! You can see some on the mountain tops. It's slowly getting closer and closer to town.)

So, that's laundry day. Be sure to check out what all the other What to Wear ladies put together for this edition of our little style adventure. And don't forget to check back on Nov. 1 when we show you what we wore for Halloween.

Amanda: Salvaged Strawberry
Lisa: lala faux bois

What's your go-to outfit when all of your favourites are dirty?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting old: the bright side

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Are you guys sick of me talking about my old age yet? I know. I know. I'm only 26 and I should probably stop being SO damn dramatic about being closer to 30 than I am to 20. Yeah. You're right. I should pull myself together, wipe the tears away and get out of bed. I mean, being 26 really isn't that bad. There are worse things in life, you know, like, going a day without coffee. And, today, I've already had a cup and there are many more to come, so I really don't have much to complain about.

So, instead of moping around feeling sorry for my old-ass self, today I'm over at The Dessert First Way, helping a sister out with a guest post about what it means to be older and wiser. That's right friends, I wrote a post about the bright side of being old-balls.

See you all there! Happy hump day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thankful Tuesday: men with taste

PhotobucketFor my birthday, Ian bought me this gorgeous necklace, and I gotta say, I am SO impressed and surprised. It's just so perfect. I adore the colours. I adore the leaves and I adore the acorn. It's exactly what I would have picked for myself, had I known such necklaces existed. So, this week, I'm thankful for men with taste. But, even more so, I'm thankful to have a partner who knows me and my taste well enough to pick out the perfect gift.

Now, as I write this, I have been harassing Ian to tell me where this amazing piece of jewelry came from, so I can tell all of you. I mean, how can I show you something this incredible, without telling you where to get one of your own, right? It took some coercing and some of my own Google searching, but I have officially figured it out. This aspen leaf and sugar maple leaf cast necklace came from Artisan Handcrafted Jewelry on Etsy. Check it out, there are plenty more where this one came from (although I am totally and completely convinced that mine is the nicest of the bunch!).

What are you thankful for this week? Do you have a partner who knows you REALLY well and surprises you with the perfect gifts?

Monday, October 15, 2012

A look at life lately

Photobucket Happy Monday, folks. I have a crazy busy week ahead, full of freelance assignments, a house guest and getting ready for a new job, which I start next week/this week/as soon as I can make the time. With the madness of the time, I thought it would be good to look at life lately, as a way of keeping calm as my deadlines start closing in. So anyway, enjoy the photos and have an awesome start to the week, friends.

Photobucket Photobucket STU's was apparently a meat shop in Valemount, or at least there was a small sign beneath this ridiculously huge homemade sign that said "Meat Shop". Ian wasn't convinced it was actually a shop. But, either way, I think the fact that someone used car parts to make a super-duper shiny, huge sign with their name on it is really cool.

Photobucket For my birthday, Ian's parents had this gorgeous flower arrangement sent to my office. I am so in love with the colours and am really stoked that it has gerber daisies (my favourite!) in it. And, as an added bonus, these bad boys smell AMAZING. I don't know what the florist did to them, but they have been making my house smell awesome for the past week. Score!

Photobucket To end today's post of "life lately" photos, here's Jasper's gorgeous night sky. I took this picture from our balcony. I have to say, I adore having huge windows and a balcony, because Jasper has some great skies.

So tell me, what's going on in your life lately?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Outside Everywhere: It's finally here!

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Remember on Thursday when I talked about the amazing animal brooch I was expecting in the mail? Well, it arrived the very next day and it is just as adorable as I expected it would be.

Hold up, though. I'm not quite ready to talk about the brooch itself. First, I want to take a second to talk about packaging. Seriously, guys, I LOVE when shop owners take the extra time to package their handmade goods in a cute and creative way. A box with drawings on it, a special ribbon, whatever, I love any small personal touch that shows the artisan took the time to think about you before they shipped off your parcel. Those added touches just add so much to the experience of getting mail.

OK, so with that off my chest, let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed when I received my wee little deer brooch from Outside Everywhere on Friday. There were layers and layers of adorable packaging for me to dig through. First, I opened a brown envelope with a leaf stamped on it. Then, I discovered a felt pouch tied up with my name on it. And then, I found my brooch in a little plastic bag with a handwritten tag stapled to the top. No joke, with each layer, I grew more and more excited, and then when I found my brooch, I was bouncing off the walls.

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I mean, how cute is that little guy? Pretty cute if you ask me. I literally wore him right away on Friday, and then I wore him again yesterday. He's just a fun touch to add to an outfit. Plus, he's wooden, and if you know anything about me, you know that I ADORE wooden accessories. I basically only wear wooden earrings, I own a couple wooden necklaces and about half a dozen wooden bracelets. So, yeah, I guess what I'm try to say is, this little dude is in good company in my wardrobe.

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So, there you have it, my deer brooch... and a hand-drawn bear saying "much thanks" (another awesome personal touch from Allison at Outside Everywhere).

If you like my brooch or something else in Allison's shop, be sure to stop by my post from Thursday where the Ladies of the Mountains have a giveaway going on. If you're the lucky winner, you get to a $25 credit to Outside Everywhere. Good deal, right!?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Men that cook

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How good does that look!?!
A week ago, one of Ian's best pals came for a visit. He and Ian used to be roommates and have known each other since high school. They're bros, like, for real. They know each other so well, it's kind of ridiculous. Anyway, one of the things the boys have in common is that they love to cook. Actually, more than loving to cook, they love to cook ridiculous things. They think something up and then they do it, without even batting an eye. I think Ian told Allan about four times during his visit that one of the things he loves the most about their friendship is their follow through.

OK. So on to the food. After we visited the hot springs, had ice cream and went mini golfing, the boys decided it was time to make three homemade pizzas. Yeah. Three large homemade pizza for the three of us. I was a little skeptical, suggesting that might just be a touch too much food for three people, but they weren't having it. It was pizza night and there were going to be three pizzas.

Photobucket And these weren't just any pizzas. These were gourmet. The first photo is of a cheeseburger pizza, which once cooked had lettuce, tomato, pickles and a special sauce sprinkled on top. (That one was my favourite!) The second photo is of a BBQ chicken pizza, which had sauteed mushrooms and onions, pineapple, chicken, peppers and BBQ sauce. (That was my second favourite.)

Photobucket The final pizza was a mixed sausage, artichoke heart, onion and pepper creation. It was also pretty delicious, but up against the other two, it came in third.

Now, you might think that's where the "men that cook" talk ends, but no, no, no, there's more. You see, Allan was here for Thankgiving, so of course we had to do something totally epic in the ol' kitchen to mark the occasion.

Photobucket What we have here is a de-boned chicken with meat stuffing in the middle and a weaved bacon blanket on top. Yup. We ate that, and it was truly one of the most amazing things to cross my lips.

Photobucket So we ate this delicious meat treat with a bacon-packed meal. We had BLT salad with homemade dressing and croutons and brussel sprouts cooked with bacon, lemon juice and lots of black pepper. Can you say YUM!?!

Well folks, there you have it, the greasy, delicious, ridiculous food I ate last week. I gotta say, I'm pretty blessed to have these men in my life. As a lady who gets very little satisfaction out of time spent in the kitchen, men like these are a heavenly treat... especially since they get so excited when their creations come to fruition.

Do you ever have culinary dreams that just have to come true?