Thursday, January 31, 2013

LOTM: mountain decor

I really wanted to craft something amazing for this prompt, and be all like "this is how mountain ladies decorate," but then I remembered I live in a national park, so I'm actually not allowed to go outside and pull branches off trees or collect pine cones and rocks off the ground. In fact, I could get a huge fine for such behaviour. So, rather than risking an embarrassing encounter with a park warden — you know, like him catching me carrying bundles of amazing "protected" branches to my car — I decided I would instead show you some of the gorgeous nature photos that Ian and I have on our bedroom walls. Each one was taken by Ian a couple of years ago, and I have to say, I adore them more than anything in the world. When we made the move "down south" to Jasper from Yellowknife, I knew I wanted all of them in our bedroom, rather than having them dispersed throughout the house. I just find them so soothing and beautiful. Plus, every time I wake up and look at them, I notice something different, whether that be a pine needle or a specific piece of moss. There's just so much to see in each one. They're honestly the perfect thing to see whether you're rolling out of bed or crawling into it.

So, without further ado, let me show off my man's mad photography skills.

Well friends, what do you think? Would you like to wake up and find yourself surrounded by beautiful mushrooms and lichen?

If not, maybe you should head off to see how the other Ladies of the Mountains decorate their homes. I'm sure at least one of them will have a piece of mountain decor that calls your name.

Gentri of Gentri Lee
Lena of Musings
Michelle of On The Adventure
Meagan of The Egg Out West
Kelley of A Crooked Trail
And, guest blogger Kate of Chestnut Mocha

  To see more of Ian's photography, visit his website.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

At this time last year: January

 photo DSC_1885_zpsa6f54755.jpg As I write this, teeny-tiny snowflakes are falling from the sky. It's chilly out there folks. Holy. We've been having gorgeous weather for the last few weeks, with temperatures getting up as high as zero degrees Celsius. That's crazy talk for this time of year, so I've been taking it all in. But, this week, things are downright chilly. Like, -23 C chilly. Eeep. At least I'm not in Yellowknife, though. I saw on my buddy's Facebook status that it was -50 C with windchill. Now, that's a biting cold.

Anyway, onto reminiscing. This isn't a weather blog, after all. So, here's a little look back on what I was up to at this time last year.

The most momentous event of the month was hitting the hairdresser to cut off my long luscious locks. I replaced them with a Katie Holmes-inspired bob. (And for the past six months I've been waiting impatiently for my hair to grow back! Six months of short hair is more than enough, I tell you!)

In January I also took Ian up for his first-ever downhill ski. He was a champ. After three runs on the bunny hill, I took him all the way up the mountain and he made it down the green run without a single fall. Impressive, right!?

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And, I went dogsledding around Pyramid Lake with Ian during Winterstruck. The dogs were SO cute!

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I watched amazing street performers contort their bodies into ridiculous poses while wearing leotards in -20 C weather. Yikes! Those ladies were troopers. You couldn't pay me enough to walk around in a skin tight outfit when it's cold. I'm more of a long johns and parka kind of girl.

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I also had the pleasure of interviewing my former high school teacher who just so happens to be a musician these days. It was a really weird coincidence, and he wasn't nearly as enthused about it as I was, but whatever... no skin off my back. (Pout.)

I had a -40 C day in Jasper, and I didn't plug my car in the night before so it didn't start in the morning. Let's just say it was a frosty walk to work that morning.

So, that's what I was up to last year. Do you remember what you were doing last January?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cozies for my feet

 photo DSC_0088_zps7e173708.jpg Guys, I am over the moon! I made slippers. I never in my whole life thought I was capable of such a thing and yet, I did it! They're not perfect. In fact, they're not even EXACTLY the same, but I love them anyway. And, I will always love them because they are my first pair. I can make 100 more and I'm sure these will remain my go-to feet cozies.

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To make them, I used the January Crochet Along pattern on The Curious Pug. If you're thinking about making a pair of your own, I definitely recommend you check out the same pattern. There were tons of photos, so it was really easy to follow along.

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These slippers were a great reprieve from all of the toque-making I've been doing. At last count I had made a dozen! I've promised a couple pairs of slippers to friends, as well, so I'm going to have to figure out how to make them in different sizes. (I know. I know. Add more rows. But, how do you know what's a size 7 and what's a size 9!?)

What have you been crafting lately? Are you participating in the Crochet Along?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Making memories and saying goodbye

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My girl Nicole (second from the left) is moving her cute butt back to New Zealand tomorrow, so yesterday we took some photos to look back on when we're missing each other. The above is our awkward family photo. I think it's probably my favourite of the bunch.

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WARNING: Things are about to get mushy up in here. 

So, Nicole, and our friend Amy who couldn't make it to the photoshoot, both take off at 7 pm tomorrow night. They're hopping on a bus and then on separate jet planes to head back to their home countries (Amy's from the UK). Although I've been hiding it for the last couple of weeks, I'm really sad to see these girls go. They are some of the nicest, funniest people I've met in a long time and I've really treasured our time together. I first met Amy, Nicole and Mishelle (second from the right) last spring. The girls had all just moved to town to work at the Jasper Tramway, and as part of their orientation, they did a day-long team building workshop that I attended for work. While I was there, I really wanted to befriend them, but I was way too awkward to initiate a friendship. Then, a month later, the Tramway was doing their annual evacuation training and I was asked to participate. So, again, I met the girls and AGAIN I was too awkward to give them my number. It wasn't until September when I went up the tram with my dad that I finally had a REAL conversation with Mishelle and we finally became friends. Although it's only been five months since then, I really treasure these girls. We've shared so many laughing fits and laughter-induced tears. I just can't imagine what Jasper will be like once Nicole and Amy's smiling faces are gone.

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I'm going to miss gushing over Johnny Depp, joking about swyping, drinking Fireball in the bathroom, sharing in delicious potlucks, talking about our muffins, eating hangover brunch and talking loudly about the night before, grossing Nicole out with my honesty and just sharing hilarious stories. I guess now we'll just have to do those things over Skype. We'll make our own brunch and catch up on each others' lives as we gorge on roasted potatoes and breakfast sandwiches.

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And, one day, we will all meet again. I'm sure of it. Whether it's in Canada or New Zealand or the UK, there will definitely be a reunion. I refuse to believe this is the end of our friendships.

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These two are just too amazing to forget. Safe travels, girls. I love you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Recent adventures

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Jasper is bumping in January. Like, no joke, there is an event every night for the last two weeks of the month. (It can be downright exhausting!) So, I've been picking and choosing the best of the best to attend, ensuring that I still have a wee bit of me-time alongside all of the fun-filled outings. So far I've been to Winterstruck — an event on Pyramid Lake, with ice skating, dog sledding, bannock-making, snowshoe races, and a bunch of other fun winter activities.

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I've also been to the Loud and Proud party to see a couple of gorgeous drag queens from Edmonton; to the W.I.N.E. (Women in Need of Entertainment) Affair; the Chili Cookoff; the ATCO Street Party and the Millstreet Brewery beer and cheese night.

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It's been a busy couple of weeks! And, although it's been fun, I'm kind of thankful this weekend marks the end of the Jasper in January festival. I'm worn out already. So worn out, in fact, that I'm bringing my friends to me. Tonight they're all piling into my apartment for a potluck dinner. I'm so excited to fill my home with delicious food and the people I love. Bring on the beer, the cheese and the laughs!

What's on the agenda for this weekend? Doing anything fun?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What to Wear: to karaoke

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I don't even know how to begin to explain the amazingness you see above!!
This week the What to Wear ladies and I are dressing for a night out at the karaoke bar. So, of course, I had to have a little fun, right!? I mean, I couldn't let this opportunity to sing into my hair brush slip through my fingers. So, on Tuesday night, Ian set up a bunch of filtered lights in our bedroom — giving it a stage-like feel — and snapped photos of me while I sang Madonna's Material Girl into the mirror. I have to give all the props to Ian for making my vision come to life. That guy has mad skills when it comes to setting up a brilliant photo. He even taped my hairdryer to a pole, which he then balanced between his legs, so that my hair would blow this way and that all model-styles. What a champ!

(I so wish we had a behind the scenes photographer for photoshoots like this. It's pretty hilarious how we get everything just so.)

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Confession: there was a time in my life (in 2010) when karaoke night was the highlight of my week. I was working as an intern at the Daily Gleaner newspaper in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It was my first gig out of school and I was living all the way across the country from everything I'd ever known. (IT WAS AWESOME!) And, in my newsroom were two other interns, Alex and Molly, who can both sing like you would not believe. So, every Thursday night we would head out to Boom Nightclub and we would sing and dance and enjoy $7 triples. I have the best memories of that place and those girls – like the time we sang Meredith Brooks' Bitch and Alex decided to finger the crowd, or the time Molly's mom accompanied us, just to see what all the hype was about, or the time a girl tried to undress me on the dance floor while my friends stood back asking, "Are you OK?" Good times, I tell you. There are just so many inside jokes and laughs that stem from that bar and those nights. Thinking back on all of our good times makes me want a karaoke reunion! Now, how fun would that be?

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Oh yeah, this post was supposed to be about my outfit, right? Whoops. That trip down memory lane threw me right off track. So... the outfit. For a night of singing bad 80s and 90s hits, I would wear this Modcloth dress. It's comfortable. It's got an awesome pattern and it's fun to accessorize, especially with some metallic touches that pick up the colourful stage lights.

From top to bottom:
Dress: Modcloth
Necklace: Walmart
Cardigan: Thrifted
Belt: Thrifted

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Well folks, that's it for me this week. I hope you enjoyed my goofy photoshoot. Now, before you run off to sing into your own hairbrushes, don't forget to check out what the other ladies put together for a night of singing and dancing.

Sondra: Abhaya Yoga

If you'd like to join the What to Wear series, send me an email. We'd love to have you! Next time (Feb. 7), we're sharing What to Wear: shades of blue.

So, tell me, what would you wear to a karaoke bar?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stories with Seit

Today's an exciting day. I'm over on Seit talking candidly about my passion. (Eeep. It's scary, but exciting.) Lena started this new series "Stories" last week and I'm her second interview. For the debut of the series, she talked to Freya from Nishanntishu about her work empowering people in developing countries to change how they treat their horses, mules, and donkeys. (If you haven't read that post, I definitely recommend you read it as well. Freya is an amazing woman!)

Anyway, what are you waiting for? Get your butt over to Seit and find out what I had to say about my passion.

What are you passionate about?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book review: Seriously... I'm over Ellen

So, I read Ellen's latest book Seriously... I'm Kidding and I think I can officially say, I'm over the Ellen-loving stage of my life. I used to adore her show and she used to have the ability to make me laugh, but Seriously... I'm Kidding was just too much. It was Ellen overload. It was rambling nonsense from one chapter to the next. The jokes were too obvious or forced or just not funny. I know my friend Cynthia loved the book, but it just wasn't for me. I honestly didn't laugh. There were a few chapters that I really enjoyed where Ellen spoke honestly, with jokes intertwined, about being a CoverGirl model, about being a lesbian, about why she and Portia don't want kids and about the importance of supporting our sisters. But, overall, I was disappointed. Ellen tried too hard to be funny and in doing that she lost the opportunity to write anything meaningful or even remotely interesting.

To be honest (if you've read the book you'll know why it's funny to start my sentence that way!), it was so bad I actually had to force myself to finish it. I literally devoted an afternoon to getting through it so I could move on to my next book. I know I could have just returned Seriously... to my apartment book exchange without reaching the end, but I really wanted to give Ellen a chance. And, I REALLY wanted to like her book — in part because I have a soft spot in my heart for Ellen and in part because Ian mocked me for picking it up in the first place. (Somehow I thought if I finished it and laughed at least once, I could prove his assumptions wrong. Gah. I hate it when he's right!)

Now, although Ellen's book was a pile of turds, I do still respect her a great deal. I think she's a fantastic role model for young girls and women. I think she's a strong woman who chooses a positive, upbeat approach to life and I also think she's super rad for doing things like this:

I just think maybe a whole book is too much Ellen for me to handle. I still watch clips of her show on YouTube from time to time — mostly late at night when I'm avoiding bedtime — and every so often those can make me genuinely laugh. So, I guess all isn't lost for Ellen and I. Now I just know I don't need to rush out and buy her other books.

What are your thoughts on Ellen? Have you ever read Seriously... I'm Kidding?

Monday, January 21, 2013

DIY: e-reader case

As you all know, I'm on a bit of a reading kick and part of that is due to the fact that I just got my hands on a Kobo Glo. But, said Kobo didn't come with a case and cases are $40 and up! So, rather than spending a bunch of money on one, I decided to put my crafty fingers to work. I figured, since I'm also on a crocheting bender, that would be the best medium for my case.

So, first, I measured the e-reader and I crocheted a chain about six stitches longer than that width, and from there, I just carried on doing double crochet until the piece was long enough to fold over and cover the e-reader. For the flap, I decreased the number of stitches each row to create a triangle. For the button hole, I just did five chain stitches and carried on. The triangle will look a bit messy as you go, but if you do a slip stitch all the way around it afterwards, it comes out looking clean. 

Once I had the desired size and shape, I sewed on a button in the correct spot. Then, I cut a pair of Ian's old corduroy pants to use as my liner. I pinned the fabric on and did a quick stitch around, leaving me with this:

(Don't mind my terrible all-over-the-map stitching. I'm still learning and I have a total need for speed when it comes to pushing my sewing machine's petal to the medal.)

From there, I grabbed some leftover yarn, turned the case inside out and sewed around the edges. Once that was done, I turned it right-side-out again and I was left with this:

It's definitely not perfect, but I'm still pretty stoked with how it turned out. I think the corduroy will be a great protective layer for my screen and I think the button and crocheted outer layer make the whole thing incredibly me.

With the case done, now I just have to get down to reading a book on this little devicer of mine. So far I've downloaded 37 free books that I want to read. Most of them are classics like all of the Jane Austen novels and a bunch of Mark Twain. I've decided the first book I'll read on the Kobo is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I've read it once before and I loved it, but that was years ago, so I'm pumped to refresh the ol' memory.

Have you been crafting or reading lately? Tell me, what are you reading and creating these days?

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I don't know who started these currently posts, but I see them everywhere. EVERYWHERE, I tell you. So, I thought, why not on Gypsy in Jasper. It seems it's time I follow the cool crowd of lovely ladies out there and tell you what's up right here, right now. (Be prepared for some good ol' fashioned honesty, friends.)

Drinking //  Water to cure my hangover.

Listening // To Blackstreet's No Diggity on Grooveshark's 90s channel. (Next is Marky Mark singing Good Vibrations. Bring on the guilty pleasures!)

Anticipating // A day of house cleaning, coffee drinking and crocheting.

Planning // A fun-filled week of adventures and activities.

Watching // The stillness of my apartment after a night of high-energy shenanigans.

Missing // The sunshine. "Go away clouds. I'm sick of you!"

Loving // Late night noodles ala Ian.

Going // To drink some water and then have a solo dance party to these rockin' 90s tunes.

Making me happy // Days spent outdoors and nights spent with good friends.

So, tell me, what are you up to? Are there any 90s dance parties in your future?

This template for "Currently" came from My Billie. Thanks for the early morning inspiration, Melanie!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blog talk: free stuff

In recent weeks, I've been offered all kinds of free stuff because of this little space of mine. But, of course, that free stuff comes with a stipulation: I have to post about the product and gush about how it's just down right amazeballs. Up until this point on Gypsy in Jasper, I've refrained from such posts because I know they are my least favourite to read on other blogs and I also know that they are the type of posts that I skip over.

But, then, last week, I was offered a $200 hair straighter. And, my current hair straighter just happens to be a piece of junk and $200 is way more than I would ever pay for one, so, for a second, I thought, "Heck ya I'll do a sponsored post. Bring on the fancy new toy!" I even spent a few minutes daydreaming about my silky smooth, shiny hair and the gorgeous photos I could take of it to go along with my post praising this company. I was honestly so wrapped up in the imagery that I had to email Kayla for a reality check. And, ultimately, I didn't take the the straightener. She reminded me that although it's cool to get free swag, it's just not the Gypsy in Jasper way.

I'm not judging other bloggers who accept cool stuff, I get why they do it. And, I understand that that is what they chose for their blog. I just know that's not a route I want to take. This space was never meant to make me money. I don't want paid sponsorship or fancy sponsors who send me things. I just want to post what I like. I want to write honestly. I want to joke with the friends I've made here and I want to have a good time. To me, promoting someone just because they gave me something is kind of icky. I'm super stoked to promote Etsy shops I've bought from and blogs that I honestly love. But, I don't want to use this space to promote anything I don't 100 per cent believe in myself.

So, there you have it, my feelings on freebies. What are your thoughts? Have you ever accepted gifts in exchange for promotion on your blog?

Friday, January 18, 2013

My favourite jacket

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I bought this Paddington Bear-style coat last year in Edmonton and since then, I have very nearly worn it to death. I just love everything about it. I love the toggles. I love the pockets. I love the way it fits. I love that it gives the perfect amount of warmth for a -10 C day. It's just the perfect jacket.

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Or, at least, it was perfect. You see, months ago, I broke the zipper. *Womp womp.* I wear it anyway, but now the breeze creeps in the holes between the toggles and it doesn't keep me quite as warm. I've been debating for a while about what I should do – just keep wearing it as is, take it to a seamstress to be fixed or learn how to sew zippers myself. Considering how much I love the jacket, I feel like leaving it as is would be silly. But, the idea of taking it to a seamstress when I have a sewing machine at home holds me back from that option, and the fact that doing it myself is totally intimidating holds me back from that one, too. I haven't sewn much of anything in my day. I mean, this weekend I hope to sew a liner in a crocheted e-reader case I made and even that seems daunting. I just wish I had an instructor who could talk me through the basics. Ian's done a bit of that. He knows how to thread the needle and fill a bobbin and do some basic straight-line sewing, so that's helpful. But, what I really need is someone who can take me through a project from start to finish – a project that's more complicated than upcycling placemats to make a purse.

A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about my fear of failure when it comes to trying new crochet projects, a bunch of you gave me great online resources for simple videos and patterns to help me improve; does anyone have anything like that for sewing? I'd love the help.

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

LOTM: ice climbing


I don't want to show any of the other ladies up or anything, but I climbed a waterfall for my adventure this week. Yeah. That's right. I put on a pair of way-too-big boots with huge spikes sticking out on all sides, I wielded ice tools that look like the Grim Reaper's scyth in miniature form, I threw on a harness and I climbed up a slab of ice.


Now this may sound totally impressive (and in a way it totally is), but before you get super pumped, let me admit that I only made it half way up the 30-metre fall. I just got too darn tired and scared. My heart was literally pounding and my knees were constantly shaking. There's no denying the anxiety I felt as I made my way up and my way down. I was a mess. At one point, my guide even had to pump me up so that I'd finally make the journey back down. (No joke, that's scarier than going up!)


Although I didn't make it to the top, I'm still super stoked that I went on the climb. I've never been rock climbing either outside or inside, so this was my first experience pulling myself up a vertical slope. I'm hoping I might get a second chance to reach the top later this season. When I got home from this adventure, I kicked myself (you know, once the spikes were off my shoes) for not giving it another go. I can't let the winter pass without trying again.


Anyway, that's it for me this week, but before you run away, don't forget to check out what the other Ladies of the Mountains got up to. I bet they picked some magical places to explore.

Gentri of Gentri Lee
Lena of Musings
Michelle of On The Adventure
Meagan of The Egg Out West
Kelley of A Crooked Trail
And, guest blogger Kate of Chestnut Mocha

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January goals

I know I'm stating the obvious here, but we're officially halfway through January. Can you believe it!? I seriously can't. Time is flying. And, there is just so much I want to do before the end of the month. So, rather than let it get away from me, I've decided to throw together a to-do list of things to accomplish before this—the first month of the year—is through. I figure, if I want 2013 to be a year of doing, then I better start things off right. So, here's a short list of fun things I hope to cross off my list in the coming weeks.

1.     Put my contacts in my new phone. (I got a Samsung Galaxy S3, as recommended by Kayla.)
2.     Master the ins and outs of said phone. 
3.     Crochet a pair of slippers or two, or three. 
4.     Finish Ellen's Seriously... I'm Kidding and start another book from my stash. 
5.     Set up my Kobo e-reader
6.     Make homemade Tootsie Rolls! (Huge thanks to Trisha for passing on the recipe.)
7.     Attend the annual Chili Cookoff and eat my heart out.
8.     Watch silly people participate in the Polar Bear Dip. 
9.     Go skiing.  
10.  Take a photo a day.

What do you hope to accomplish before the month is through?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Value Village finds

Photobucket Something you-all might not know about me is that I used to work at Value Village. In fact, I made my living as a VV Boutique cashier for two years during my undergrad. In some ways, it was an awesome job. In others, it was terrible. (Let's not even talk about the hell it was on 50 per cent off day!) The best part of the job was definitely the employee discount. I know what you're thinking, "It's Value Village! Why would you possibly need a discount?" Well, let me tell you, when you're making $9/hour and you're trying to live and pay for books and things for school, you need the discount. That discount allowed me to furnish my home, stock my cupboards with dishes and, most importantly, it filled my walk-in closet.

I have never owned as many clothes as when I was working for VV. I honestly couldn't fit another item in my closet at one point—it was nothing short of glorious! Nowadays, my closet is full, but not that full. It did get a boost after my Edmonton trip, though. You see, Edmonton is the closest city with a VV, so every time I visit, I make a point of thrifting. My last two visits to the city, I've gone with my pal Lisa, and both times, I walked away with a huge haul, as you can clearly see from the above pile of goodies.

Anyway, all of this is to say, "Hey! Check out all of my new clothes and accessories..."

All of the new merchandise was 50% off, so I got these tights for $2.50 each!!

This guy was brand new. It literally had the tags still on. SCORE!

This was another new item. After the discount it was $3.99.

I am in mad love with both of these cozy sweaters. They couldn't be cuter.

Now, if I'm being honest, those aren't even all of those clothes I brought home. There's still another sweater, a pair of green skinny jeans, a shirt and two pairs of fleece-lined tights. Not bad, eh!? When you factor in the 10 books I bought, I spent $90. *Swoon* There's no place like Value Village. I mean, seriously, how rad is that lighthouse sweater? Someone made that with so much love and care. I wore it on Friday and spent the whole day feeling uber cozy. (By the way, there's a sailboat on the back!!)

Have you had any amazing thrift finds lately?