Friday, January 31, 2014

Fireworks are amazeballs and WINNER of the Warming Winter Giveaway!

There are only two days in a year that fireworks are permitted in the park. TWO! So on those two days—following the Jasper in January Street Party and on Canada Day—you make sure you get your butt over to the ball field to take in the light display, and that's just what we did last weekend. Katherine arrived that evening, just in time for us to pick up a beavertail—yum!—from the Street Party and to walk over to Centennial Field. Once we got there, rather than being the grown ups that we are, we decided to follow the lead of a few kids and crawl through a small hole in the fence in order to find the best viewing spot. There was only one problem! I was a fool and was wearing cozy little moccasins, so my feet were not prepared for the 10 centimetres of snow we discovered on the other side. But, have no fear, my friends were there to carry me to a hard-packed spot with an amazing view. Yay for pals!

And yay for fireworks. Seriously—and you can ask anyone who was there—last Saturday's display was the best I've ever seen. Not only did it go on for like 15 minutes, it was timed perfectly, leaving us ohhing and awwing through the whole thing. My buddy Ryan was particularly excited, yelling "YOLO" and "OMG" between his whoops of pure joy.

Huge congratulations to Margaret Maggie Porter for winning the Warming Winter Giveaway, and a big thanks to everyone who participated!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ice climbing!!

My long lost friend Katherine came for a visit over the weekend and we made the best of her time. Not only did she get a couple of ski days in—one with me and one while I was at work on Monday—we also went out for a couple of amazing dinners, saw a live taping of The Vinyl Cafe, met Stuart McLean and we went out ice climbing yesterday. Solid visit!

If you've been around for awhile, you'll remember that I went out for my first ice climbing adventure last winter. I was SO terrified. But this time was amazing. I wouldn't say I was fearless, but I definitely jumped on the ice with a lot more confidence and gusto. And Katherine was a machine, powering her way to the top of the 100-foot waterfall faster than anyone else. That girl is a beast... and she's also super cute! I mean, look at this face...

To make our climbing day all the more amazing, we had the sun shining on us the entire day and our view was just spectacular. Look at those mountains. Look at those trees. Look at that sky! Perfection.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Wet butts in the ice lounge

Earlier this week, an ice lounge was sculpted right in the centre of town on the information centre lawn. There's a couch, two chairs and a coffee table and it is totally COOL! (I'm hilarious, I know.) But, seriously, it's actually really rad. I was so excited, in fact, that I made Ian accompany me to the lounge, so that we could snap some silly photos. The results was a model shot, a silly shot and a wet bum. It's stuff like this that makes me love Jasper in January!

I borrowed this pic from Tourism Jasper. It was too pretty not to share.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Flying high five!

Jasper is full of activity in January. For the last two weeks of the month, there is a festival dedicated to enjoying winter life, so there is always something to do, and because of my job, I find myself attending about 75 per cent of the events. 

For me, the fun started last Saturday. In the early afternoon, I made the trek up to Pyramid Lake—one of my all-time favourite spots in the park—for Winterstruck. Basically, Winterstruck is an opportunity to try all different winter activities. There's cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, sleigh rides and ice skating. Oh! And there's also a giant inflatable Parks Canada beaver with nipple rings. Kinky, I know!

This was my third year attending the event. The first year Ian and I went and the last two years I've gone with my friend Mishelle. It's always a great way to spend the afternoon. And this year, the weather was unseasonably warm, so it was that much more enjoyable! Plus, look how cute those dogs are! Dawwwww.

Does your town host any fun winter festivals?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What to Wear: a cozy night in

This prompt couldn't have come at a better time! Lately I've been coming home early, climbing into some cozy tights and then curling up with a good book. Right now I'm reading House in the Sky, a non-fiction account of a journalist who was captured and held captive for a year in Somalia. I just reached the part where she enters the country, so the intense stuff is just about to start.

For me, a cozy night in wouldn't be complete without tights or PJ pants. Pants are overrated, so they're usually the first thing to go. As for tops, sometimes I'll end up lounging around in whatever I was wearing that day and other times I'll pull out a hoodie or wool sweater to make things extra cozy. I'm also a big fan of leg warmers, so they make an appearance from time to time, as well.

Well, there you have it, friends, my outfit for a cozy night in. It's nothing special, but it's certainly comfortable.

If you'd like to show off your favourite lounge wear, feel free to link up with the rest of the What to Wear ladies. We'd love to see your coziest of cozy outfits. And if you can't make it this time around, why not join us on Feb. 6 when we share What to Wear: on Valentine's Day? See you then!

What's your favourite thing to wear when you're curling up on the couch?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dancing queens

I seem to live a drag-filled life. Since moving to Jasper, I have been to at least a handful of drag shows. In fact, I might go so far as saying I've been to closer to 10. I guess that's happens when you become pals with one of the queens... and when you realize that the best parties in town generally include sequins, thick make up, singing and dancing and a few Cher tunes. This latest show was part of the kick-off weekend for Jasper in January, a two-week-long festival that just happens to be celebrating its 25th year. The Loud and Proud party, as it's called, is in its third year and, as with the first two, it didn't disappoint. The bar was packed. People were excited. The queens were not only gorgeous divas, they were also hilarious... as you can see from this next photo.

Let's just say these ladies didn't start the song sporting their short hair and bras. No, they tore the wigs of each others heads and even got down into a rough and tumble brawl as they lip synced Reba McEntire's "Does He Love You." That was without a doubt the most entertaining act of the evening!

Oh yeah, and then there was the limbo competition. That was pretty fun, too. Although, likely  not as entertaining as the twerk-off. Now that was funny!

How's your January going?

Side note: Out of all the events and activities I've taken part in since the beginning of the month, this was the hardest one to attend without drinking. Everyone in the bar was riding a beer high, and when the show ended, I suddenly become incredibly aware of just how sober I was and just how drunk everyone else was. So, rather than struggling through the night, sucking back my go-to cranberry soda, I decided to hit the road once the queens left the stage. I figure, if I'm going to integrate this no-drinking thing into my life, I might as well just take myself out of situations where I really want a beer. And, really, I didn't miss much or lose out by doing that. I was there for the show. I had a great time, took some fun photos and I managed to read a few chapters of my book before hitting the hay. All in all, it wasn't a bad night. Oh! And I wasn't hungover in the morning, so win-win-win!

Monday, January 20, 2014


At this time last year, I wrote a list of my five favourite books and I received a lot of positive feedback from people who were hoping to read more and watch less in the new year. So I thought, heck, why not add another five to that list, in case anyone out there is looking for some reading inspiration.

In no particular order, here's what I came up with:

1. The Bear's Embrace by Patricia Van Tighem
I read this in one sitting a couple of weeks ago. It is a powerful TRUE story of a woman who was mauled by a grizzly bear in British Columbia. I don't recommend reading it all in one go. It honestly left me feeling incredibly depressed by the end, as most of the book deals with the aftermath, not the event itself. Van Tighem goes into great detail about the weeks after the mauling, including the emotions and the pain she feels as the doctors put her face back together again. She also describes the intense depression she suffers for the next 15 years and how it results in her being institutionalized more than once. This book is not for the faint of heart.

2. The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is a quick read, but it's always enjoyable. I'm a sucker for a good gothic novel, or in this case novella, so Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde gets re-read quite often. The classic tale is about a lawyer who investigates the strange actions of his friend Dr. Jekyll, who suffers from split personality disorder. Jekyll's other half is Mr. Hyde, an evil character, who's moral compass is opposite to Jekyll's.

3. The Shining by Stephen King
As I said, I love me some gothic lit, so for me The Shining is a no brainer. The story is of Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer whose alcoholism causes him to lose numerous opportunities for his family. As a result, he takes a winter job as a caretaker in a fancy-shmancy hotel in the middle of nowhere. Early on, Jack's son, Danny, sees ghosts and other strange visions in the hotel and slowly, Jack goes crazy in the isolated place.

4. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
First let me admit that before reading this book I was anti-Atwood. Up to that point, I had based all of my hate on her poetry. But after reading Oryx and Crake, I now take back all of the negative words I've said about this Canadian icon. She is in fact a spectacular writer and this is an amazing dystopic sci-fi novel. The story follows Snowman following the collapse of civilization. Through his flashbacks, the reader finds out how the world got to where it is.

5. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
This novel follows the story of Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman who moves to London to marry an older man. When she arrives in England, she can speak little to no English, isolating her from her new home. The story follows her and her husband as they start a family and struggle to stay afloat. The book ends with Nazneen finding independence. Read this one after Bear's Embrace, for a little pick-me-up.

Well folks, I think five is enough for now. If you do take my advice and read any of these, I'd love to hear what you think. Currently I'm reading The Exorcist and next on the list is House in the Sky. 

**UPDATE: I finished the Exorcist last night and it should totally make this list! It was super creepy in all the right ways. In fact, one night it got me so freaked out that I literally got out of bed and checked my house for intruders! That's the sign of a good book, my friends. Read it! I promise you won't regret it.**

If you have any recommendations as to what I should add to my ever growing stack of books, please add them in the comments. I, like many others, hope to increase the number of books I read this year, so any suggestions are good suggestions!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Warming Winter GIVEAWAY

Friends, it seems I'm back in the swing of this blogging thing—fingers crossed I keep it up—so I thought I would celebrate by holding a giveaway. Up for grabs is a super warm toque handmade by yours truly, fleece wrist warmers—in your choice of leopard or snowflakes—made by Mel of Needle and Nest and a pack of Stacy's Linen and Leaves loose leaf tea samplers. (My favourite is the cinnamon rooibos!)

If these babies don't warm you up this winter, I don't know what will!

So what are you waiting for? Get to the 'copter and warm yourself up with some handcrafted goodies this winter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Swoon-worthy Project Life spreads

This woman puts my Project Life spreads to shame. Each and everyone she does is a piece of art. They're so intricate. I love everything about her style. Now, having said that, I am far too simple a lady to put that much time and effort into each spread. As you might recall from my last PL post, I'm trying to take the stress out of this project, not put more pressure on. Even so, I do love looking at these over the top pages as inspiration. I mean, I could totally incorporate one or two of her techniques into my book, without finding myself too anxiety ridden.

Now, for something a little more understated:

I was drawn to this spread because it uses the same core kit that I purchased in Edmonton a few months back. I have really enjoyed the colours and options in it and it's really nice to see how someone else has put it to use. I also like how clean this spread is. There is very little to it, but it flows beautifully.

I LOVE this holiday spread. Oh my gosh, it is so perfect in every way. I love the colour scheme. I love the Christmas accents. I love that it looks simple, yet there are still a number of intricate details. It's perfection... although, if it were me, I would likely add more journaling cards with my own little messages.

I found myself stopping on this spread because of its natural feel, with all of the brown tones. I also like that it feels a bit vintage, with the filters on the photos and the cream coloured cards. It's so simple and elegant.

And then there's Kayla's spreads. For me, she always seems to strike the perfect balance with the colours, journaling cards, photos and add ons she uses. I really like the colours in this one and I like the mixture of black and white photos and colour photos. I haven't experimented in that way yet and I think that will be something I pick up in 2014.

Now, last, but certainly not least, here is a spread by Lisa—the amazing lady who first introduced me to Project Life. There are number of things in Lisa's spreads that I always enjoy. There is generally always a goofy, hilarious photo—in this case two. She also uses some of her own art work as journaling cards or accents, which I think is really rad. And, in this spread and in others, she uses digital text on her photos. That's another thing I'd like to try this year.

So, there you have it, some of my inspiration for 2014.
Do you have any tips or inspiring Project Lifers that I should check out?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tromping through the snow

My pal Kevin and I went out for our first snowshoe of the season the other day. It was a beautiful, warm day. Uncharacteristically warm: +2 C. We have been having a nutty winter, that's for sure. We went from -35 C to -5 C and then up to +2 C and now we're down to -15 C. I'm not complaining, though. The changes in the weather make every morning a new adventure. I always check the weather before I get near my closet and before I walk out the door to ensure I'm appropriately attired for what Mother Nature is going to dish out that day.

Anyway, back to the snowshoeing. Because it was so warm, there was some light snow, making for white out conditions that hide the majestic mountains in the distance. We didn't let that get us down, though. We had Kevin's dog Lola along for entertainment. That little border collie loves the snow. She was bounding through it without effort.

Have you been on any showshoeing adventures lately? If not, I highly recommend you bring a dog along for the ride. They are a heck of a lot of fun to watch and play with in the snow.

Monday, January 13, 2014

An "only in Jasper" moment

While driving to Maligne Lake over the holidays, my friend Kevin and I came upon this scene. There were two cars on the road, each going in opposite directions and each was parked in the middle of their respective lanes, making it impossible to pass. As we came upon them, we weren't sure what was causing the hold up, but—considering we were in Jasper—we figured it was wildlife of one kind or another. What we didn't expect, though, was to find the cars were stopped because bighorn sheep were busy licking them, so they couldn't move along.

Sheep usually use natural salt licks to replenish mineral deficiencies, so, in a way it's no shock that, at the first opportunity, the sheep stepped in the way of moving traffic to lick the highway salt off the vehicles, but I can honestly say this was the first time I had ever encountered such an event. Beyond the ram pictured above, there were at least a dozen more huddled around another vehicle on the road. It was quite the sight. One that is truly unique to the Jasper experience. It's moments like this one that remind me why I live in this weird little place.

Have you had any interesting wildlife encounters lately?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Year's Eve Repeat

On New Year's Eve, I texted my girlfriend to wish her a happy one and she quickly informed me it was not. So, rather than letting her bask in her sad state, I assured her, as soon as she returned from her holidays we would do a repeat.

So last Saturday night, we filled our house with good people, good food and good 80s tunes and pretended it was New Year's Eve all over again. We even had a fake countdown, with the help of an old "ball drop" video on YouTube, champagne, sound makers and sparklers. And, truth be told, as we went around the room hugging each other, it actually felt like New Years.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

What to Wear: layers

I love the fall and winter because the cold temperatures call for lots of layers and cozy clothes. For me, that means all of the cardigans in my closet are in heavy rotation, as are my scarves and leg warmers. As things stand, I have more cardigans and scarves than anything else in my closet, so it's no wonder why I'm keen on the cold.

From top to bottom:
Earrings: Craft market in Kelowna
Glasses: Firmoo (they're new!)
Scarf: Value Village
Cardigan: Walmart
Shirt: Old Navy
Pants: American Eagle
Leg Warmers: Ardenes
Shoes: Winners

How do you layer up for fall and winter weather? Do you have specific items in your closet that are the perfect layering pieces? Then, why not show us by linking up below. The What to Wear ladies would love to see what you've put together.

If you can't join us this week, then come back on Jan. 23 when we dress for a cozy night in. See you then!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gift of Thrift link-up

Over the holidays, the lovely Amanda—also known as the vintage queen (at least that's how I think of her)—of Salvaged Strawberry organized a package swap with two stipulations: your gift couldn't be more than $15 and it had to be thrifted. Upon reading her initial post, of course, I was sold. BUT, she had opened the swap to US residents only. Being the whiner that I am, I promptly complained and Amanda caved and let me join the fun. The package I sent went to the super sweet and fashionable Hannah of An Old Story. I hope one of these days she'll post the contents of said package, so that you-all can see what I put together for her with my $15 budget.

Now, onto what I received! The above photos show what Erin of Babes in Thriftland sent over to me. She clearly did her homework before hitting the shops, because she bought me a book about travel writing and photography and a warm scarf for our cold Northern climate. I've been perusing the book and have had a few good chuckles as the authors describe the "stereotypical" editor and talk about how some editors are basically the worst human beings, ever. OUCH! I promise, I don't fit the stereotype. I'm lovely, I swear!

Did you buy any of your Christmas gifts secondhand? Aside from this swap, most of my gifts were handmade, but I think in the future, I'll make a greater effort to explored the thrift shops in town.
There are always treasures to be found!

For all of you who participated in Gift of Thrift, link-up, so we can head over to your blog and see what you received!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Drink-free January

On Dec. 31, I made a resolution. The challenge I've given myself isn't for the whole year, but for the month of January. Beginning on Jan. 1, after our new year's celebrations came to a close, I stopped consuming alcohol.  

My intention is to stay booze-free for 30 days.

Now, although this might suggest I have a problem with alcohol, I would argue that's not the case. I have just come to realize that drinking is considered an extracurricular activity in Jasper. You see, I live in a tourist town full of young people, who move here for four months or a year with the intention of partying and skiing their days away, and it seems that partying mentality has managed to infiltrate my life. I find myself drinking more than a few drinks at least once on the weekend and at least once during the week.

After doing a mental tally of how much money I've spent in bars the last few years, I decided it was time to make a change. Of course, though, it's not just the money either. It's the time that I seem to be wasting. In some cases, I'm wasting that evening and, in most cases, I'm wasting the entire next day of my life—goodness knows, as I get older, my hangovers linger longer and longer.

So, here I am, a week into this sober month and so far the most difficult day was my first adventure to the bar with my pals. At the outset of this challenge, I decided I would live life as normally as possible. This goal isn't meant to be a sentence of house arrest. Rather, it's an attempt to live my regular life with a sober mind and full wallet. Last weekend, while sitting in our usual bar, I drank soda water while watching my friends down pitcher after pitcher. I was surprised how hard that was, just sitting there, watching.

There is so much peer pressure involved with drinking and such an assumption that everyone will partake. In fact, I had to stop my waitress from walking away, just so I could order my own beverage, rather than an extra pint glass to go along with the first pitcher. Since that night, the challenge has become easier and easier and it has also been a bit of an eye opener. I realize now, as I choose to drink water or soda water over beer, just how often I would reach for a pint at a bar or a bottle out of the fridge. I'm conscious of it in a way I have never been before. I think that lesson alone has been worth this little challenge of mine.

Ultimately, I know I'll reenter the world of beer drinking in a month's time, but I hope that this month of sobriety will remain in the back of my mind, reminding me that I don't have to drink to have a good time, nor do I have to drink because everyone around me seems to have a full glass.

So there you have it, my one and only new year's resolution. Have you set any for yourself?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Catching up with my memories

After many months of neglect, my Project Life binder got a hefty dose of love and attention over the holidays. In fact, it got enough love to make up six months worth of spreads!! Yeah, it's fair to say, I was behind.

Catching up was a big endeavour, but boy does it feel good to have (nearly) a year of memories together in one place. At times I hated this project, but then I would look to Kayla's blog and see the amazing work she was doing and the joy she was finding in it and my desire to complete a full year of spreads was reignited. So, here I am, with one full year of memories (minus two weeks—I'm waiting on London Drugs!) that I'll be able to look back on for years to come. It truly is the best keepsake I have ever made. There are inside jokes that I would have otherwise forgotten. There are photos of moments, that although mundane then, seem delightful now. There are my high points, like becoming editor of the Fitzhugh or finding out my big sister was pregnant, and there are the low points, like floundering and wondering if I'd have a job at the end of the month.

I think it's important—just like with this space—to keep it real when capturing memories. Nothing is perfect and everyday in my mountain life isn't sunshine and roses, so including those rough days is a way of chronicling my real life and a way of reminding myself that it's OK to have bad days. I think, by being honest in my binder, I have captured exactly what 2013 dished out, and I think when I'm old and grey, I'll appreciate that truthfulness.

In other news, despite the growing pains with this Project Life business, I plan to undertake it again this year. BUT, there will be one big difference: I've decided to put less pressure on myself to do a spread every week. I found that constraint stressful and because it was stressful, I found myself staying away from the project. So, instead of feeling pressure to follow the "rules," I'm going to try to make it a bi-monthly habit to print pictures. At that time, I'll sit down and do as many spreads as are needed to capture those memories. It will be more like a regular scrapbook, but with the Project Life photo pockets and journaling cards. I think that will not only be less stressful, it will also be more enjoyable. So, here's to another year of memory keeping!

Did you partake in Project Life this year? 
Do you have any tips to share?

Note: To see some of my early spreads, click Project Life in the labels below. 
Or, to see some of my more recent spreads, follow me on Instagram @GypsyinJasper.

Also, if you are a Project Lifer, head over to Lisa's blog. She's doing a supply swap!