Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Big city chillin'

Edmonton was awesome this weekend. Even though it rained, I had a wicked time. I'll give Lisa the credit for that. She knows how to show a girl a good time, I tell ya.

We started our day-o-fun with a visit to Strathcona Farmer's Market—a brilliant place to hang out when the rain is falling—especially when your visit includes thick-cut back bacon on a humongous homemade bun. Om nom nom. At the market, Lisa and I each picked up some gourmet, fancy pants nuts. I bought sweet and spicy ones for Ian and she got beer nuts (how very fitting!). Afterwards, we walked outside and hopped on the old time trolly that takes you over a ridiculously high bridge, aptly named the High Level Bridge. Apparently if there is thunder and lightening in the forecast, the engineer won't take you onto said bridge... because otherwise you could be toast! Yipppessss. I had heard all about the streetcar from Lisa because she went to this top secret, only open to cool kids concert in the streetcar earlier this summer. I think my next visit to Edmonton will have to be when one of those is going on. I think I could fit in with the cool kids, don't you?

After our round trip, it was off to Value Village. Last time I was in town, it was my day at the ol' VV boutique. I nearly bought everything I tried on, while Lisa went home with only a few items. Fittingly, our roles were reversed this time around. I still managed to find $50 worth of stuff, but Lisa tripled that and went home with three pairs of shoes and three pairs of pants and a whole whack of other stuff. Lucky girl!

Our evening was spent eating delicious shrimp tacos and drinking bulldogs—lime margaritas with beer in them. SO DELICIOUS! Despite the wait to get a table, it was totally worth it. The food was amazing. The drinks were thirst quenching and the company, as always, was delightful.

The night was wrapped up with a visit to a bar with 60 beers on tap. Had my phone not run out of juice well before that point in the evening, I would have done an entire post on this place. I mean, how do you choose from 60 beers?

Let me tell you! You look at the taps and say, "Hmm, that sounds good" and then you drink one of every beer that "sounds good" until you're belching and stumbling your way home. (I kid. I promise I did nothing of the sort.)

Well folks, there you have it, my Saturday in a nutshell.

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

LOTM: Whoop Tee giveaway

Check out this t-shirt!! Isn't it rad!? The design was created by Meagan over at The Egg. As you well know, she is one of the lovely Ladies of the Mountains—and a talented one at that. She created this design after Gentri, another in the LOTM crew, was contacted by Whoop Tee, who offered to make each of us a custom shirt. Basically, Whoop Tee is a company that allows you to come up with a design, pick what style of t-shirt you want and then they make it for you and ship it right to your door. Awesome, right? I mean, isn't there a shirt that you've always imagined, but never found in a store? I have plenty of those and now I have a way of bringing them to life (although first I need to work on my dismal graphic design skills, eeep!).

So what do you think? Do you want to be a Lady of the Mountains? Well then, you're in luck. We're giving away one of our awesome t-shirts today. So get your entries in the good ol' rafflecopter and get your hands on your very own, custom made LOTM shirt. You know you want to!

Don't forget to check out how the other Ladies of the Mountains styled their t-shirts!

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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Solo road trippin'

I'm on the road today heading to Edmonton to see my girl Lisa. We're going to do some thrift shopping and beer drinking... oh, and some girl talking, of course. And then on Sunday I'll be picking Ian up at the airport. Have I mentioned he's been away for the last week and a half? He's been vacationing at home in Yellowknife. I know it's probably awful to say, but I've been so busy this past week that I haven't even noticed that he's gone. Well, I guess I notice when it's bedtime and dinnertime... but otherwise, I really haven't been home enough to be totally aware of his absence. Does that make me a bad girlfriend? Hope not!

Anyway, see you-all on the flip side. Wish me luck on my second-ever solo road trip to Edmonton. Thankfully this time it's summer, so there won't be any snow on the ground. Phew!

Happy weekend all! What are you guys up to?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Best purchase, ever: folding kayak

While I was in Vancouver for Canada Day long weekend, my girlfriend Mishelle picked us up two folding kayaks. She found them on Kijiji and convinced me we HAD to have them. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into and I wasn't sure if I was about to waste $300, but I handed Mishelle a wad of cash and hoped for the best. And, when I returned to Jasper a few days later, well, let me tell you, I was one happy little water-loving-paddler. This thing is SO RAD. I cannot say enough amazing things about my precious little boat. It folds in half, which means it fits beautifully in the back of our little Rav4 and I can maneuver it around all by myself—yay for a wheel on the front! I don't have to get a helper to put it on the roof rack. I don't have to have a helper to get it in or out of the vehicle. I can handle it all by my lonesome, which means I can pack up and go WHENEVER I WANT. Guys, whenever I want. Brilliant. Just plain old brilliant. And, I mean, just look at the gorgeous places that it's taking me! Life sure is mighty fine when you're out in the middle of a gorgeous lake.

Curious how it works? Well, here's a cute little video with some sweet reggae beats in the background. It will give you a good idea of what I'm working with.

Do you own a kayak?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What to Wear: camping

Camping means plaid and jeans. At least in my books, anyway. I live for my plaid shirts when I'm out in the wilderness. It just seems like the most appropriate place to wear them. And there is just nothing better than a well-fitted, cozy jean short. I bought these guys a couple of years ago and I adore them! They have been on many an adventure and they've never let me down. I guess I could say the same for the shirt, actually. I bought that three years ago when I was living in Fredericton, NB. I picked it up right before a camping trip—hence why I likely view it as my camping shirt.

Top to bottom:
Sunglasses: Ardenes
Shirt: ...Fredericton somewhere?
Shorts: Jean Warehouse

Also key to a camping get-up are sunglasses. You don't want to get caught out in the wilderness without them. Otherwise, you'll be the silly one squinting all day long. NO FUN!

I'm sad to say I haven't yet taken my tent out this year. I just haven't had the time. I'm hoping that Ian and I will be able to get the time off to go on a three-day rafting trip down the Kootenay River again this year (Aug. 3-5), but that's not nailed down yet. If we do, then I'll have three nights in the tent and three days on the water! Heck ya.

Do you have a camping outfit? Why not link up, so we can see it! We'd love to check out what you put together. If you can't make it this week, don't worry, What to Wear happens every two weeks and everyone is welcome to join. Our next occasion is What to Wear during a thunderstorm. Fun! We'll be posting those outfits on Aug. 8. See you then!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A beautiful evening

I have a new friend in town who moved here a week ago and nearly every night since she arrived we've hung out. Last night was no exception. And since she's new, I've been making a point to show her things around Jasper. So yesterday evening, we walked from town, across the train tracks and through the trees to the Athabasca River and then up a steep hill to the top of Old Fort Point.

Old Fort Point is generally the first thing people climb when they move to Jasper. It's a short climb close to town that gives you amazing views of three valleys, mountain vistas and plenty of lakes and rivers. I hadn't been up there since last summer, so it was nice to make the trek and take in the views, especially as the sun made it's way down behind the mountain peaks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Festival fun

On Saturday, my friends and I piled into my car, drove an hour and spent the whole day soaking up the sun and the sounds of amazing bands at Wild Mountain Music Festival outside of Hinton, Alta. I wasn't sure what to expect from the festival, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the small number of people and the amazing quality of music. I danced and danced and danced all day long, got a sunburn, ate delicious festival food, drooled over attractive musicians and shared many belly laughs, and when I returned home at 2:30 a.m., my ears were ringing and my feet were black from barefoot dancing—two signs of a great festival.

By the time Sam Roberts Band came on, I had already put my camera away, so these shots are off my phone. It was pretty magical watching the band perform under the nearly full moon. All in all, it was a pretty great festival and now I'm super duper pumped for the Robson Valley Music Festival next month and the Jasper Folk Festival in September. Bring on the tunes!

Have you been to any festivals this year?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Play nice, folks

I've been seeing other bloggers get hate mail or hateful comments on their posts lately and it's pretty well sent me up the wall and around the room with fury. I can understand some friendly debate when a blogger writes about something controversial, but seeing people torn down for their weight, style or appearance in general is just disgusting. I really can't imagine how some of the "big time bloggers" handle such outright disrespect.

I have such a love/hate relationship with the internet because of just that. I love the community I've built here on my blog and I love the opportunity to hear opposing views—I even made a close pal because we disagreed and then took the time to hash it out. I just think that people need to have a little more tact and respect when they do have an opposing view. I also think people need to remember what their mothers told them: "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all." This is especially true when judging bloggers by their appearances. It's brave what a lot of us do everyday, putting our outfits, our faces, our bodies, our thoughts, ideas and personalities out into the world. People sometimes say, "Well, you put yourself out there, so you open yourself to judgement." But if you ask me, just putting yourself out there doesn't give ANYONE the right to cut me down. If you don't like my outfit, my hair, my weight, my views, that's fine. But it doesn't mean you can rip me a new one.

I know the people who do such things are just taking out their own insecurities, but that doesn't mean those comments aren't hurtful. So please, ladies and gents, play nice, comment respectfully and remember that bloggers are real people hiding behind a computer screen. We have feeling too, ya hear?

Have you ever received hate mail? Or have you been seeing it around the web lately?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fishing for weeds

This is my second summer in Jasper and I have still only caught one fish. ONE! Guys, this is getting ridiculous. I mean, I know that most of the fun of fishing is just getting out into nature, casting and drinking beers, but seriously, I need to catch a fish and I need to catch one soon. I'm losing all faith in my wilderness woman abilities. I'm truly beginning to think that if I got stuck in the woods, I's starve to death. These are scary thoughts, my friends. Scary, scary thoughts.

We went out in our pal Ian's canoe on Sunday (while I was terribly hungover and felt a bit like I was going to vomit overboard) and we didn't have a single bite. Not a one. I'll admit, despite the lack of fish action, it was a pretty glorious day out on the water. I mean, Maligne Lake is incredibly gorgeous and being stuck in a boat playing 20 questions (more like 50 questions) and "Would you rather..." with a few great friends did make for an insanely hilarious and joyous day. Throw a fish into that mix and it might have even gone down as the best day of the summer.

So come on fishies, come to mama!

Have you been out fishing this summer? Any luck?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pin-up styles

I hate swim suits. They never fit my body just-so. I always feel like my butt's hanging out or my chest is hanging out or my tummy's hanging out. Basically, I feel like I'm never covered enough. So, for the first time since childhood, I bought a one-piece. But not just any one-piece, I bought myself a glorious, vintage-style suit from Modcloth and, let me tell you, I couldn't be happier. For the first time in my adult life, I feel FABULOUS in a bathing suit. I don't worry about showing a little too much of this or that because the cut of this suit is perfection. It covers all my bits and, I think, even all covered up, I look hot. If nothing else, I feel hot. There's just something about these vintage pin-up suits that make you feel classy and gorgeous. I don't know what took me so long to jump on this bandwagon (oh, yeah... the cost!!), but now that I'm on it, I don't even feel bad about spending $100. To feel this good in my own skin, I'd pay $100 any day. OK, not any day. You caught me. I'm far too frugal for that, but I will say, when this suit wears out (I hope that day never comes!!), I will totally spend $100 to buy a new one.

Have you ever slipped into a vintage-style one-piece? Did you feel smashing?

In case you're wondering about the ridiculous pink flippy-floppies on my feet, let me explain. 
They're flippers and they're awesome. Enough said!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On finding happiness

Yesterday I worked a 14-hour day. Usually after such a grueling shift, I'd go home, sit on the couch and pout a bit. I'd accept defeat and then head off to bed, so that I could do it all over again the following day. But, yesterday was a little different. Ian texted me at 10 p.m., suggesting that I meet him and some friends at a local pub for some live music and beers. So, once I wrapped up my story, I took him up on the offer and ended up having an awesome evening. I wasn't even tired or grumpy when I got there. I was just happy to have finished work and to have the opportunity to enjoy some tunes and the company of my pals.

Finding happiness can be a mental battle, but sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective. I could have complained about my long day once I got to the pub, but instead I just said, 'It's been a long one, I think I deserve a beer!' and took things from there. I'm trying my best to be more like that. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the negatives and to let them pull you down into a deep pit of unhappiness. What's more difficult is choosing to brush those negatives off, so that you can embrace the positives.

In an attempt to focus on the positives in my life, a couple weeks ago I started listing all of the great things that happened during my day. I have a notebook next to my bed and each night I think of between five and 10 things to write. Now that I'm in the habit, it's getting easier and easier to remember the good and forget the bad. I chalk that up to a win for happiness!

How do you stay positive?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Music Monday

DUDE! Exciting news. The new, unreleased Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros album is available for streaming on NPR. You are so freaking welcome!

Happy Monday, pals. Get ready for some chair dancing tunes—if you're at work, like me, anyway.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Home: mine and Luna's

I grew up with a pet whale. Scratch that. Let's try this again, I grew up in a small community on Vancouver Island and that small community was situated on a fjord. In that fjord lived a lone orca who separated from his pod when he was two years old. His name was Luna and he spent years living as a member of our community, and recently, Ryan Reynolds made a documentary about him. It's called Whale. I watched it last week and balled my little eyes out, not just because of Luna's story (which is totally heartbreaking), but because of the scenery. I go home so rarely, that my heart aches at the sight of the gorgeous mountains that surrounded me as I grew up. The film also brought me back to the days of my youth, when my friends and I would drive down to the dock and just listen to Luna bumping and playing with the boats. It was a truly magical experience growing up so close to such an amazing creature and seeing this film reminded me of just how lucky I was to have Luna in my life.

If you haven't already seen this documentary, I highly recommend you watch it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What to Wear: wine tasting

Sometimes you just have to take the prompt literally, right? And what better time to do that than when you're required to taste multiple wines? As you can see, I happily pounced on this opportunity and before I knew it I was a few too many bottles deep. What a mess!

When I started thinking about this prompt last week, I knew I wanted to wear something super cute (thanks Coquitlam Value Village for making the choice easy!!) and I knew I wanted to look like a messy drunkard.

Success? I think so. Plus, to top everything off, this photoshoot FORCED me to conquer my fear of posing in public. When I suggested this idea, Ian said we could go up to Pyramid Lake and borrow a ladder from the resort (Ian does IT for them), so we made the journey up there Monday evening, only to find my dreamed-up location was swarming with children making mud pies, parents making dinner and young men fishing. Yikes! But despite all the people, I powered through. We got out the ladder. Ian got out his boom, climbed above me and took a bunch of shots, while I pretended we were all alone on a desert island. It really wasn't as painful as I thought it would be.

From head to toe:
Dress: Value Village
Cardigan: Value Village
Shoes: Winners
Necklace: Giveaway from Salvaged Strawberry

Do you have the perfect wine tasting outfit? Why not link up with the What to Wear ladies and show it off. We'd love to see what you put together! If it's too late and you just don't have time to throw something on and snap some photos, why not join us on July 25 when we show off What to Wear: camping.

What would you wear wine tasting?

P.S. I am so in love with my new Value Village dress. I honestly can't say enough about it. It's so perfect. I love the fit. I love the pattern. I love the colours and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the pockets.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kitchen confessional

Ladies and gents, I have a confession. *deep breath* I can't bake cookies. Honestly, I can't. I tried again last night (after many failures in the past) and yet again, even with a brand new recipe and my handmade apron on, I bungled it all up. The above cookies are the result. They don't look so bad, right? Kind of weird, because of the Corn Flakes, but not unappetizing.Well, if you only knew what they were supposed to look like, you'd be saying, "Eeep. There's an epic fail right there!" You see, these cookies were meant to be flat and moist rather than plump and crumbly. Yup. We can chalk these ranger cookies up to another of Nicole's many failed attempts in the kitchen.

The sad thing is, I already know what I did wrong and I also know that in most cases it's the same thing I always do wrong—I melted the butter. Last time I baked cookies, I attempted "the worlds easiest sugar cookies." I figured, if "the worlds easiest" was in the name, I could totally take them on. So I went to town, only to come out with crumbly dough and rock hard, dry cookies. After reading ALL of the comments beneath the recipe, I found out my problem. Apparently the consistency of butter is really important when you're baking cookies. (Who knew!?) So when it says softened, it means softened, not put a cup of butter in the microwave until its liquified. Despite this new found knowledge, last night I yet again melted the butter and I yet again came out with crumbly, hard cookies. The thing is, I never plan to bake, so I never take the butter out of my fridge ahead of time. So, rather than taking it out and waiting hours for the butter to soften, I throw it right in the ol' microwave and conveniently forget about it until the beeping starts... and then I end up with sad, pathetic, good for nothing but breaking teeth cookies. You'd think I'd learn.
Are you a patient baker?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just like a kick to the face

While we were in Vancouver, Ian kicked my brother in the face. Smack, right in the kisser. It was pretty brutal, although well deserved. Dirk can sometimes be a huge pain in the ass. He's all, check me out in my wicked awesome Spy shades, being too cool for school.

I kid. He wasn't actually kicked, nor was he or is he a pain in the rear. He's actually pretty rad—hence the sweet photo that makes it look like Ian gave him the ol' boot to the jaw.

I snapped this shot while we were at the park one day. The kids were preoccupied with Auntie Kathy and Uncle Mike, so we put the time to good use. I think I ended up with about 30 shots before we got one that was satisfactory.

The making of:

Do you ever have silly photo ideas that you just have to create?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Roller derbyyyyy!

On Saturday night, I watched a bunch of tough chicks kick the crap out of each other and it couldn't have been more awesome. Aside from Whip It, I had never seen roller derby before, so it was completely amazing. My mind was blown. These ladies are TOUGH. Holy man. If there was any doubt in my mind before, now I know I'm NOT cut out for this sport. The ladies take a full blown beating. By the end they must have been just covered in bruises. I have mad respect for these rough and tumble chickas.

Have you ever been to a roller derby bout?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thoughts on things


I'm not one to buy a lot of things or to own a lot, either. I'm actually afraid of things because the more you have, the harder it is to pick up and leave. You see, for much of my adult life, I've moved around the country with a duffle bag and two small pieces of carry on luggage. (I've flown to every destination, so that's all I was allotted to bring and that's all I chose to bring.) I've found, everything I REALLY need fits into those three bags—my clothes (although my wardrobe is cut down with each move), a few books, my laptop and a few key items that make every bedroom feel like home.

But then I met Ian, we bought a car and for the first time in my life I moved WITH someone. That was a year and a half ago when we came to Jasper, and let me tell you that was probably the roughest patch in our relationship. At the time, I couldn't understand why Ian refused to, like me, leave everything behind. I couldn't understand why he wanted all of his art, a random five pound bag of loose change, a box of shoelaces and every other totally random item that he'd picked up over his 20+ years of existence. But, he couldn't. He needed those things. So he packed them up and his dad was kind enough to cart them down to us.

A year and a half later, I'll admit I'm glad Ian insisted on bringing his art. It makes our house ours. It makes it homey and unique and interesting. I'd probably even say I'm glad he brought that ridiculous bag of change. We've had a couple of good adventures with it and a few solid games of quarters, too. And the shoelaces, well, you can never have too many lying around waiting for that perfect pair of shoes.

Now, although I've done my best to accept Ian's penchant for hoarding, sometimes I look at our house and at all of our things and my breath gets caught in my throat, as I think of just how much work lies ahead when we do decide to move on. (Have I ever mentioned it's hard for me to live in the here and now, so I'm always thinking ahead, whether it be a day, a week, a month or a year?) If it were up to me, I'd ditch all my things and go right back to that old duffle bag, backpack and messenger bag. But something tells me I'll never again be able to carry all of my belongings on my body—not just because Ian has too many things, but because now I do too. Recently I bought a kayak. I have mounds and mounds of craft supplies. I have two closets worth of clothes and another closet worth of scarves. I have camping gear and art. I have books galore and a sewing machine.

I write all of this—my trials and tribulations with things—because I'm scared of what those things mean for my future. I'm scared that they'll literally weigh me down and keep me from seeing the rest of this beautiful country of mine. I'm scared that my accumulation of things has begun too early. I'm only 26 and I'm not yet ready to nest. I still have a lot of flight left in my wings. There's so much more to see and do before I start a Tupperware collection and settle into a forever home. I don't want to move tomorrow. I don't even want to move next week or next month, but I do want the option to pack up and go when the time comes.

I don't know what the answer is, nor do I know if there is an answer. I guess this is just one of those fears that will live in the back of my mind until we actually pack our bags.

Do things freak you out, too?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Shorties being short

If Mishelle and I weren't short enough on our own, throw in a downward angle and fa-bam, we're stump-legged oompa loompas (without the green hair and crazy orange skin). This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago by our pal Maarty. When I posted it to FB, my friend James wrote, "I should be in that photo with you two—you know, as a yardstick."

Background: James is a huge man. I wouldn't doubt if he was just shy of seven feet tall.

So, in light of his comment, Mishelle created this series of photo composites that had me laughing so hard I nearly peed. I mean, seriously, how great is it that we ran into the Green Giant in Jasper!?

Have you ever meant Gandalf? Turns out I have!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A family of moustaches

If you follow me on Instagram (@GypsyinJasper), you've already seen a sneak preview of this amazing family photo from my trip to Vancouver. Mind you, that shot wasn't nearly as epic as this one. I'm just so happy with how absolutely silly we all look in our Groucho Marx glasses. I'm only now kicking myself that I didn't bring along cigars to take this to the next level.

My family has never been very good at organizing photos, posing for them or even thinking to take them, so these shots are really special to me. They're the perfect keepsake from an awesome weekend together. I really can't wait until we can do it again when my sister's baby is born in September.

Speaking of the baby! My sister is convinced it's a girl and all weekend I found myself calling it a she. Now I'm even more excited to see what pops out in a few months. Either way, judging by how great Kathy and Mike are with my nephews, they're going to be awesome parents whether it's a boy or a girl.

Do you have any fun family photos?