WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

May in Instagram

I took an unintentional break from blogging there, it seems. May turned out to be a pretty busy month for me. N’s & my time apart became longer (a shift from two weeks to three weeks). This resulted in a slight adjustment period for me, something I wasn’t really expecting. For the most part, I don’t miss him working in Fort Mac – his quality of life is far superior in the Bay Area. One thing I do miss is having him home for a full week instead of a measly weekend. It gave us time to divide & conquer some of the everyday tasks. Most of those things fall on me now, which isn’t really a big deal, but I do sometimes wish I had a little help with them.

In addition to all the boring stuff, travel planning has taken up a lot of my time (& it’s much more exciting!). I just got back from the most incredible extended weekend in the Bay Area with N & we’re heading to Europe in a few short weeks. I can’t wait to share more about both of these trips, as well as some of my tips for planning a big trip.

Until then, here’s what we got up to in May according to Instagram (it took all my willpower not to just post San Francisco photos…).

May 2017 IG

  1. Odin taking a swim with the lovely instructors at Pawsitively Pooched. He’s come so far since last summer & now loves swimming!
  2. Tailgating after working Beer Fest for Whistler Brewing & Hey Y’all. Everyone at our booth was so awesome – I had a great weekend on the other side of things this year.
  3. Second hike of the year under our belts! We did a quick one to White Buddha in Bragg Creek. Easy little 4 km loop with a view!
  4. Celebrating N’s 30th year with lobster, of course. Happy Birthday, babe!
  5. Went a little blonder for summer thanks to Ashley at Hedkandi Salon. She’s a gem, & I’m loving this summer colour.
  6. Pizza night at the lake on one of the most gorgeous May long weekends I can remember. Family, friends, delicious food, & sunny skies made for the perfect evening (the wine helped a little too!).
  7. Odin loved every minute of being at the lake. We went swimming every day, took long walks, & relaxed in the sun. It was a real treat!
  8. Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito is something I won’t soon forget. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in San Francisco.
  9. Drinks on the beach with my favourite guy, in California. We crammed a lot into the weekend, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, or with any other person. Thanks for spoiling me rotten, babe.

I love looking back on the photos from this past month. I know I way over shared my San Francisco trip (& Europe will be worse), but I love it so much. From Berkeley to San Francisco to Sausalito, there wasn’t a bad moment of the trip (except maybe that Sunday morning hangover!). Can’t wait to share more – it was a whirlwind! & June, I know you’re gonna be a real beaut!

On Patience

Alanna running NP

(photo by Pete for November Project)

I am not a very patient person. I dread waiting in lines or sitting in traffic. When I set my mind to do something, I want to do it right away.

I set a goal to start working out with November Project during my #SoberSeptember last year, & I completely fell in love with not only the workouts, but the wonderful people as well. I looked forward to Monday & Wednesday mornings all fall, & rarely missed a workout. Then, in late November, I noticed my knee was starting to bug me. It was especially bothersome when I ran stairs. I put off seeing a physio until mid December for fear of having to give up my workouts, just as they’d become a staple in weekly routine.

It turned out I had a fair bit of swelling in both my knees. My right knee had been the one giving me grief, but my left was actually weaker. My physio told me I had something called patellofemoral syndrome: the muscles around my knees don’t keep my kneecaps properly aligned, likely due to an imbalance in my quad muscles. This is causing damage to my cartilage. This damage is what’s behind the swelling & pain. Apparently, you can’t rebuild cartilage, so he suggested we start working on realigning things right away.

He warned me that it would be a long, boring process. I’d also have to take a break from some of my favourite things, namely running stairs (& running in general). Having just hit such a groove with November Project, I was pretty bummed at this news. I’ve also never truly been injured enough to have to stop any activities. I’m stubborn & impatient so I knew this wouldn’t be easy for me, but I was determined to listen to my physio. I really committed to all my exercises, & worked on them diligently.

Over the last several months, I’ve had to compromise on a lot of things I love to do, fitness-wise. I’m still going to gymnastics. I still go to November Project. I still bike to & from work, & take Odin on long walks & hikes. There are still so many things that I can do. I’m trying to focus on that. I don’t run the stairs at NP or go for runs (except this one time I did a huge scavenger hunt a couple weeks ago. Whoops!). I’m still working away at my constantly evolving slew of quad & glute exercises. & my physio was right – it’s long & boring.

I signed up to run the SeaWheeze again back in the fall, & training was set to begin this week. I was optimistic that I’d be cleared to start running again after my appointment last week, just in time to start this training & join some of the running groups I’ve been looking forward to. Unfortunately, my left knee is only at about 80%. Until there’s no more swelling, I have to keep working on more exercises & stay away from running. It was frustrating news to get, especially considering I’d been diligent with all my exercises. & I’m just not that patient. I’m not used to being sidelined.

I’m still planning to run the SeaWheeze this summer, as it’s one of my favourite races, but I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the fact that it will likely be my slowest race to date. As a fairly competitive personality, this is also something I don’t do well with. It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing I won’t be able to push as hard as I’d like in my race. In about 6 weeks, I’ll go back to my physio, hopefully without any swelling, &  be cleared to start run training (which should be really interesting over our three weeks in Europe!). For now, I’m substituting my runs with biking & strength training. It’s not quite the same, & I find spring is when I most want to be out there on the river paths, but it’s better than nothing.

I realize this injury is a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things, but it’s definitely testing my patience. I’m trying to be grateful for everything that I can do, because I truly can still do so many of the things I really love. I know I’ll be back out there soon, & I’ll appreciate it all the more.

Poutine Week 2017: Poutine Pusher

Poutine Week YYCAs official #PoutinePusher for Poutine Week YYC this year, I had the opportunity to sample several poutines around the city & today, I’m going to share what how they each were. This year there are over 70 restaurants participating, so there’s a little something for everyone!

You have until Saturday to get some poutine in you for a good cause. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any pick, & for every poutine you buy, a free meal will go to someone in need (thanks to Mealshare). It’s a true win-win. If you need some help narrowing down the list, here are my thoughts on the six poutines I tried.

Mill Street Brewpub

If I’m being honest, I picked Mill Street for what I knew of their beers. N was going to be home for the weekend & we I figured convince a few friends to join us for drinks at some point in the evening. It wasn’t until closer to the date that I really took a serious look at their entry: the Donair Poutine.

Mill Street Donair Poutine

Donair Poutine

If you’ve ever spent any time in the maritimes, namely Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, then you know all about Donair sauce. This sweet & savoury sauce is most often talked about as a late-night pizza topping. My experience is mostly limited to a few stumbly nights at the Wheel in Antigonish, NS. Since then, I’ve had it a few times at different spots around Calgary, but I mostly think of it as drunk eats.

Enter Mill Street’s Donair Poutine with house-made donair meat, crispy russet french fries with hop salt, cheese curds, house made gravy with 100th meridian beer, sweet donair sauce, topped with diced tomatoes and red onion. N & I each ordered our own. When they arrived at our table, we realized our mistake: this poutine is huge! We could have easily shared.

Mill Street Donair Poutine Mill Street Donair Poutine

A few bites in, we both agreed this poutine was a winner. The donair meat was tender & flavourful, the curds were squeaky (a huge win in my book), the donair sauce complimented the gravy, & somehow the fries held their own underneath all of that. It was a great start to a huge week.

We stuck around for a few more beers that evening, friends joined us, & we had a great time. Our server was attentive & friendly & our overall experience at Mill Street was wonderful.

Kensington Pub

The next morning we’d made plans to join Kevin from Different Alphabet Productions to shoot some video for poutine week. We headed that way for noon & grabbed a table with Danny from Whistler Brewing to wait for the rest of the crew.

The KP Yolo fries use Whistler’s Black Tusk Ale in their gravy, so of course, we had to grab one of those. Normally I wouldn’t go for a dark ale so early in the day, but the Black Tusk is smooth & easy to drink.

Kensington Pub Yolo Fries

YOLO!

Since we were hitting a couple stops that day, we ordered two Yolo fries for the table. It was the smartest decision – this one is not for the faint of heart. KP mixes double smoked cheddar with that Black Tusk ale to make a smoky, rich cheese gravy that tops slow cooked ham hock and crispy fries. We all agreed the side of housemade horseradish aioli was the perfect sidekick. With all that decadence, I was impressed by how well the fries held up – a testament to truly great potatoes.

Kensington Pub Yolo Fries

As always, Kensington Pub was a real treat: the staff & owners are always welcoming, they have great beers on tap, & the poutine was fantastic.

Ship & Anchor

Our next stop before we hit the Gravy Bowl was the Ship & Anchor Pub. The ship is a staple for many Calgarians, & for good reason. It’s an institution here. That patio is packed the minute the temperatures rise above zero (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Slight.). The chances of running into someone you know at the Ship is always high. & they could totally half ass their food & still probably be packed, but that’s the best thing about it – they don’t. (Their servers are also some of my favourites in the city.)

Ship & Anchor Poutine

Patio beers at the Ship

Last year, they sold 277 poutines to win the 2016 Poutine Week title. I didn’t get a chance to try it so I knew I had to check out their Le Meaty Mediterranean Poutine this year. We lucked out with some gorgeous afternoon sun & snagged a spot on the patio. That’s how I suggest enjoying this poutine if you can swing it (come on weather!).

This was another huge poutine that I was happy to be sharing with a bigger group. I think they might have been going for go big or go home cuz it had a crazy number of components to it. We decided to get it with grilled sirloin (which they cooked to medium rare for us), but they’re happy to take that off if you’re vegetarian. I heard they can also make it vegan if that’s your jam. It’s nice to see more options like this during these food weeks. It’s so much more inclusive.

Ship & Anchor Poutine

Le Meaty Mediterranean Poutine with a beer

Ship & Anchor Poutine

So much going on!

In addition to the sirloin, saffron fries were topped with crumbled falafel, grilled pineapple, fresh mint, baba ganoush, sweet garlic sauce, feta, cheese curds, and gravy. The pineapple was cut deceptively similar to french fries, which threw me off on my first bite. I honestly wasn’t sure that the pineapple was even going to work here, but it ended up being one of my favourite parts of this poutine. My favourite bite included pineapple, fries, both cheeses a bit of falafel, gravy, & some mint.

Ship & Anchor Poutine

I’m not sure if this one will win everyone over, but it certainly wins points for originality. & as with most things I’ve eaten at the Ship, it was well executed. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, I say go for it!

Roosevelt

On Sunday, we headed over to Roosevelt for lunch. If you’ve never been for Sunday brunch, I’d suggest checking it out, mostly for the complimentary milkshakes. How can you go wrong if you start your brunch with a milkshake?

I’ve only been to this 17th ave spot a couple times. As more & more great spots open up in the area, it’s harder to get back to the ones you’ve already been to. When I saw that their poutine included gochujang gravy, I was sold though. Gochujang is a spicy & sweet fermented Korean red chili paste.It’s one of my favourite condiments!

Roosevelt Poutine

Roosevelt Korean Poutine

This poutine came out with crispy fries, cheese curds, Korean beef, & a fried egg. N & I are both suckers for fried eggs on pretty much anything. There’s something so satisfying about that runny egg yolk. That spicy gravy stole the show with this one. As spice lovers, neither of us could get over just how good it was. The cheese curds were squeaky like I prefer them, the fries held up to the gravy, & the beef has lots of great flavour, but the gravy is what would bring me back in.

Roosevelt Poutine

Roosevelt Poutine

Possibly my favourite gravy

Brewsters

We went to bed Sunday night thinking there was no way we could eat any more poutine this week. I was almost read to tap out until I remembered I’d scheduled Brewsters’ Tater Tot poutine for Monday’s lunch. Anyone who knows me knows my love for tater tots runs deep. I’m not ashamed to admit they’re my favourite anytime snack. I’ve been known to order them even if we’ve already eaten that day.

N & I used to hang out a Brewsters in Crowfoot pretty regularly back when we first started dating, but it had been years since I’d stepped inside their downtown location. We got its sister restaurant, Beer Revolution, fairly often, but hadn’t been to Brewsters for some reason. I was pleasantly surprised by how bright & open the restaurant was. They also have a decent sized patio out the side & parking, a rarity in the beltline.

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot Poutine

I was relieved to see that it was a manageable portion when our order arrived at the table. I love poutine & tater tots, but we’d seen some pretty daunting portions. Our cheesy tater tots were perfectly crispy & topped with a bacon cheese sauce, smoked gouda, bacon marmalade & Oilberta stout bbq sauce. It was rich & flavourful, & I enjoyed every bite. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to go wrong with bacon & cheese. The bbq sauce cut through some of the richness of the cheese sauce.

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot P

I love tater tots, cheese, & bacon

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot P

If the food & atmosphere weren’t enough to convince me I need to be stopping by more often, their staff really did. Thanks to both our server & Trevor for being so welcoming.

Pig & Duke

I took a little break from sampling until today, when it was time to check out my last stop. A coworker & I headed over to the Pig & Duke for lunch. It was hopping! Despite it being a quick walk from my office, I’d never actually been inside. It’s much larger than you’d expect from the outside.

Pig & Duke Poutine

The swinetine featured Chipotle BBQ pulled pork, bacon, green peppercorns, curds, Pig Sauce, & a fried egg on steak cut fries with green onions. As soon as our orders arrived our conversation was basically put on hold as the only thing we could say was, this is so good. I love pulled pork, & this one was especially tender & delicious. The chipotle bbq sauce had so much flavour & every once in a while you’d get a green peppercorn surprise, which we both enjoyed. The fries were thick & crispy so they held up well to all that sauce, & there was a good mix of melty & squeaky curds to keep me satisfied.

Pig & Duke Poutine

Swinetine!

Pig & Duke Poutine

This was one of the more traditional poutines I tried this week. The pulled pork was so tender & delicious that I found myself wishing for more. The restaurant was full, but our service was still efficient & our server spent time chatting with us, while still turning over her tables quickly.

Now that I’ve waxed poetic about all of the fine poutine creations, I will say that I do not recommend consuming this much poutine in one week. It’s intense. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it again, however. I will gladly sacrifice myself in the name of poutine anytime (wink wink, Karen). I’m so impressed by how different each one was, & how much I enjoyed each for what they were. The one thing I think most restaurants could have done better was to advertise their specific poutine a little more. I think only 2 of the 6 I went to were doing it, & I’m curious to see how this reflects in the final competition.

After a week of eating poutine, my pants are definitely fitting a little snugger, my cheese cravings are gone (I mean, until like Sunday probably), & I think I’ve already carb-loaded for my half marathon in August. It’s salad week next week, right?

All kidding aside, it’s been a great week! Thank you to all the restaurants I’ve linked for hosting me, to Karen for thinking of me for poutine ambassador, & to Mealshare for providing so many meals to those in need. I can’t wait to find out who our poutine week winner is!

Poutine Week 2017: Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl

My favourite YYC food week of the year is here: Poutine Week! For the last 4 years, I’ve participated in this glorious week of poutine by gorging myself on a variety of delectable combinations of cheese curds, gravy, & fried potato. This year, I was asked to join five Calgary food aficionados as Poutine Week Ambassadors. I couldn’t say yes fast enough when the wonderful Karen approached me with this opportunity.

The sale of each creative poutine provides a meal to someone in need. Mealshare has partnered with Poutine Week since 2013, giving poutine a purpose. It’s that one time of year that you can eat poutine totally guilt free. 😉

N & I kicked off our 2017 Poutine Week with a weekend full of delicious poutine. The Gravy Bowl was our main event on Saturday, & I was seriously looking forward to it. Teams made up of a chef + a Calgary Stampeder + a Local Brewery compete in a live cook-off for best poutine. We had such a great time last year & lucked out that N was in town again to attend.

Last years winner, Briggs Kitchen & Bar, was the host of this year’s competition. We were greeted with some bubbly as we walked in the door & immediately said hi to Poutine week organizer extraordinaire, Karen. The restaurant was already bumping, as the 8 local brewers were serving samples of the beers used in their respective poutines. Chefs were mingling as well, & we had a couple minutes to chat with Roy Oh of Anju (you may remember how excited I was last year to grab a photo with him & chat a little bit!) before the event kicked off.

Gravy Bowl

Ready for the battle to begin!

 

Gravy Bowl

Beer Tasting

Gravy Bowl

My awesome “Poutine Pusher” pin

 

The idea was that teams would present to the judges, while we sampled the same poutines family style. It was a bit of a different set up from last year. While we waited for the first couple poutines, we chatted with some of the different brewery reps. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake on our part, as most other people were eager to sample those first few poutines. By the time we got in line, we’d missed out on Brasserie‘s poutine already. Luckily, there was still enough of Anju‘s for us to sample. I’d have been really disappointed to miss both of those as they were the two I was most excited for (& with good reason as Brasserie won the whole competition).

Gravy Bowl

Anju’s korean poutine

Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl

My poutine date!

Gravy Bowl

Poutine Planning

After our initial mistake, we made sure to get in line early so we could sample the rest. Each team came up with something delicious & unique. I love this event for all the different approaches, from traditional creations to ones that are only loosely based around the idea of poutine. There’s something for everyone, & I think that’s the best part of this whole week.

At the end of event, N & I both agreed that Anju was our favourite of the ones we tasted. We both loved how the Korean flavours came together with the truffle in the gravy. I never would have thought to combine those flavours, but it was fantastic.

Gravy Bowl

Behind the scenes

Gravy Bowl

Dirty Bird Poutine (Last Best & Market)

Gravy Bowl

Presenting to the judges

Gravy Bowl

Adam Singleton prepping fries

Gravy Bowl

Gravy going onto Booker’s poutine

Gravy Bowl

Boeuf Bourguignon Poutine from Wurst

Gravy Bowl

Photogenic Food

Gravy Bowl

West Coast Poutine

The Beltliner Half Hitch Breakfast Poutine’s braised beef brisket also stands out to me as being fantastic, & Booker’s Turkey Poutine was phenomenal. I loved the cornbread & smoked turkey combination, as well as the fact that the cheese curds were still squeaky.

Gravy Bowl

Dan Clapson announcing the winners

Gravy Bowl

Judges & Winners

Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl Winners: Brasserie Kensington + Charlie Power + Dandy Brewing

Overall, there wasn’t a single bite that I didn’t enjoy. Each team really brought their A-game, & the Stampeders’ enthusiasm for the competition aspect took things to the next level. I loved the addition of local breweries this year – chatting with their reps & trying out a few new beers was a fun way to spend the day as we waited for the next poutine.

You’ve still got until Saturday to try any of the poutines included in #PoutineWeekYYC & help share a meal while you’re at it! I’ll be back later this week with a recap of the rest of my poutine adventures so you can decide what to try, or check out the Calgary Poutine website for all restaurant listings.

Happy eating, friends!

 

Spring Hiking: Barrier Lake Lookout

Barrier Lake Lookout
We kicked off our 2017 hiking season with Odin’s first hike, in honour of his first birthday. We’d been told to wait until around a year before taking him up any mountains, to help prevent any future issues with hips & other joints. I think part of the fun of having a spunky pup is taking them on adventures, so we’d been looking forward to this day since we first started looking into getting a dog.

I knew I wanted to include as much of our family as we could, so we’d originally planned an easy climb up Sulfur Mountain. We’d take the gondola back down afterwards as it’s free in the off season. We’d done it a few winter’s ago with my brother in law’s dog. It was a great little season opener. Unfortunately, a few days before the hike, I found out the Banff Gondola no longer allows dogs due to some negative experiences. I turned to some other doodle owners for suggestions & we landed on Barrier Lake Lookout, also known as Prairie View. It looked like a relatively easy, rewarding climb.

Barrier Lake Lookout

Not bad, Kananaskis, not bad.

Barrier Lake Lookout

Trail Head

Barrier Lake Lookout

Barrier Lake Lookout

We met our hiking group in the parking lot around 10:30 am & headed out. Walking along the lake at the start of the trail, it seemed like we might be in for a cold, windy day. As soon as we got into the trees though, our entire group shed most of their layers.

The trail is south facing, so I hadn’t expected to see much snow, however, it didn’t take long for us to run into some icy patches. None of us were wearing spikes, so it got challenging pretty quickly. My mom was only in runners so her & my dad had to bail about halfway up. The rest of us continued on, despite some pretty sketchy sections on the way up. Yay for spring hiking!

Barrier Lake Lookout

Icy patches on the way up

Barrier Lake Lookout

We made it to the first lookout area & stopped for a few pictures. We were pretty close to the summit at this point, & planned to continue, but a combination of congestion & a steep, slippery section caused us to re-evaluate. We decide to stop for lunch with a view, & call it a day.

Barrier Lake Lookout

Barrier Lake Lookout

Views from the first lookout

Barrier Lake Lookout

Barrier Lake Lookout

Family Photo!

Barrier Lake Lookout

Looking for scraps

Mud pup lunch stop

Barrier Lake Lookout

Lunch views

We had braced ourselves for a treacherous climb down, but were treated to a fairly easy descent. The icy sections has softened up, which made a huge difference. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to hike this in the early spring – either go later in the day or bring spikes.

Despite the early season conditions, the trail was quite busy. I imagine it’s even more so in the summer, so I think I’d stick to shoulder season unless you like hiking in crowds. We saw lots of other dogs too, many off-leash despite signs stating that dogs must be on one.

Barrier Lake Lookout

Barrier Lake

Back at the base after our hike

Overall, it was a great day. We got lots of sunshine, enjoyed some beautiful views, & great company. I’m hoping to get out to the mountains lots with Odin, so any other dog friendly hike suggestions are more than welcome. We’re on the hunt for our first real summit!

March in Instagram

Somehow we’re already well into the first week of April, & all of my grand blogging plans lay unfulfilled. With N away so much (aka living in another country), all the household stuff falls to me, so I’ve been a little busier lately. It’s amazing how much of a difference not having him home regularly makes. Odin & I have been making the best of it though, & we’re lucky to have an amazing group of humans to keep us company & help out when we need them. Here’s what we got up to in this first month of living in different countries (according to the very filtered world of Instagram):March 2017 IG Recap

  1. We celebrated our awesome gymnastics coach & friend, Tanis, turning 35 with a paint nite. I’m actually so impressed by how well everyone’s paintings turned out!
  2. Can’t get enough of Sue Higgins Dog Park. Odin loves adventuring there & meeting up with all his buds.
  3. I joined some friends in Canmore for the weekend to celebrate the lovely #Elissagettingmeowied. It was such a fun weekend away in the mountains, with lots of great food, a little dancing, & so many laughs.
  4. Neither Odin nor I like saying goodbye to N. Airport drops offs are tough on this little guy. I don’t think he understands at all.
  5. First patio day of 2017 at Cibo. We took advantage of a beautiful Saturday to get outside & enjoy some drinks on a really lovely patio. They also have one of the best happy hours out there – check out the $5 pizza!!
  6. Rosso Tuxedo opened! Finally good coffee in our neighbourhood. We’ve been eagerly anticipating their opening for months. I love it already!
  7. N flew home to watch #ElissaandMatt get married at a lovely ceremony at the Lakehouse. We danced, we ate, & we consumed far too many delicious drinks.
  8. Dogs & Beer? I’m sold on Cold Garden & have been meeting up with friends for a pint pretty much weekly. Their beer is delicious (& reasonably priced!), & I can bring my furry friend. It’s my favourite.
  9. Odin turned one this month! He was spoiled rotten. We’re heading out on his first hike tomorrow to celebrate. Happy Birthday, little buddy!

April promises to be a busy month as well. I’m a #poutinepusher for Calgary Poutine Week 2017, so if you like poutine (& good causes) keep an eye on my social media for details (& watch me try to eat all the poutine in a week). Bring on the stretchy pants!

Odin \\ ONE YEAR

Odin \\ One Year

Dear Odin,

Today you are one year old. I remember anxiously waiting to hear from Notch Hill that you’d arrived. At the time, we thought we were getting a little girl pup, but now I can’t imagine that at all. You’re the best.

Odin 8wks - 11 mths

Odin at 8 wks, 3 months, 9 months, & 11 months

Odin

Walks in the East Village

Odin

Odin

All geared up for the winter weather

Odin & the bridge

N helping Odin with his fear of the metal bridge

Checking out Cold Garden Brewery with Mom & Dad. It’s a pretty cool place!

Mémé & I drove out to Sorrento to pick you up on May long weekend. You were so shy at first, but so friendly. Not a lot has changed in that regard, actually. I love how much you love people & other dogs. It makes me life so much easier that you’re so social.

Odin

I love it when my friends share with me!

Odin

Mom loves me!

Odin

Feeling naked after my haircut!

Odin

Right now, you love chewing your toys relentlessly, running as fast as you can at the dog park, protecting the house from intruders, & digging what little dirt you can find in the backyard.

Odin

Odin

Derp

Odin

Sick pup cuddles

Odin

Trying to make us both fit on one cushion

Odin

National Puppy Day!

Happy Birthday, Odin

Birthday Burrito

Odin

You don’t like when we leave you home alone or when Dad has to go away for work, people wearing too many layers for you to recognize them, when the mail gets delivered but you don’t get to say hi, bathtime, or any attempts at dental hygiene.

You make our lives so much better, Odin. We love you so much.

Love,

Mom & Dad

xoxo

See the rest of our Odin Report recaps here. Follow along on Odin’s adventures on Instagram – #OdindeBoer

My Montréal

My Montreal

This time last year, we were booking a trip to Montréal for May. If I could have my way, I’d visit the city yearly. I love it so much!

I mean, how can you really go wrong with the beautiful surroundings & amazing restaurants? There is so much information out there on what to see & do in Montreal, but here’s my take on it: my Montreal.

I spent the couple years I lived in Montréal exploring the city & introducing visiting friends & family to the parts I grew to love. On our visit last year, this gave us the opportunity to stick to only the things I enjoy most: wandering the beautiful old streets, enjoying drinks with friends, & eating more than our weight in delicious food. (There are plenty of amazing touristy things to do in Montreal, but since I’ve done them all before & they’ve been covered many times all over the internet, this post will not feature them). So here we go – my top non-touristy things to do when I visit Montréal.

Wander the different boroughs

Montréal is pretty compact & easy to navigate. You can walk from the west end of the downtown to the east end in about half an hour. I find this particularly advantageous after all the food I tend to eat.

Each of the surrounding boroughs have a bit of a different feel, & I think they each have their merits. I love Old Montréal for its beautiful old buildings & cobblestone streets, the Plateau has a hipster bohemian vibe (& tons of great breakfast spots), & the newly re-invented Mile-Ex neighbourhood has some of the coolest new shops, restaurants, & bars anywhere. Something new is always opening up, making for a lively & exciting city to explore!

Take some time to get lost in a few of these different neighbourhoods – it’s one of my favourite ways to get to know any new city, or reacquaint myself with a familiar one.

Plateau Montreal

Plateau apartments

Plateau Montreal Bikes

Bikes everywhere

Place des Arts Montreal

Place des Arts

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Place Jacques Cartier

Place Jacques Cartier

Old Montreal buildings

Old Montreal buildings

Marie Reine du Monde

Marie Reine du Monde

Old Montreal buildings

Old Montreal buildings

McGill

McGill

McGill

Bikes at McGill

If you’re visiting in the summer, you may even stumble upon one of the many festivals taking place around town. There’s at least one thing going on every single weekend, from music festivals to parades to formula 1 insanity – there’s something for everyone at some point. & if nothing else, head toward the old port to take in the brilliant fireworks competition every Saturday in July.

Get Breakfast in the Plateau

There are so many great places to get breakfast or brunch in Montreal, but all my personal favourites are in the plateau. On our latest trip, we took advantage of the beautiful weather & headed straight from the plane to the terrace at Fabergé. I didn’t even need to look at the menu to know I’d be ordering their breakfast poutine. How can you go wrong with a bacon & egg poutine in the province that does poutine best? (You can’t – it was fantastic!)

Fabergé Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé Breakfast Montreal

Patio Breakfast in the Plateau

Just around the corner is the best bagel spot in the city, Fairmount Bagels. You really never know when you might need a half dozen all dressed bagels, so I recommend picking up a bag so you’re prepared whenever the mood strikes during your visit. Fairmount is strictly takeaway though so if you’re looking to sit down & have a bagel style sandwich for breakfast, their competitor St-Viateur has a great café on Mont-Royal E.

Fairmount Bagels

Fairmount Bagels

Fairmount Bagels Fairmount Bagels

Some other notable mentions for great breakfast or brunch in the plateau include, L’Avenue, Sparrow, & Beauty’s.

Enjoy some local beers

Montreal has some seriously great local beers. I’m fiercely loyal to my first love, Au Dieu du Ciel, in the plateau neighbourhood, but there are so many great places to get enjoy a drink with friends in the city.

DDC, as you’ll see many refer to this amazing craft microbrewery as, has a great little unassuming brewpub on Rue Laurier W in the plateau. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but trust me, you won’t regret your pilgrimage to this spot. Seriously, it’s the brewpub I wish I could go to every week.

Dieu du Ciel

On our most recent trip, we spent some time at another awesome craft brewery that also doubles as a restaurant & bar – Brasserie Harricana. I could have easily spent a couple hours trying all the beers they have on tap. We were on a tour though, so we had a limited amount of time.

It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but I highly recommend you check out this spot in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood. There’s some great things happening up there, so you can likely pair it with some other stops in the area.

Brasserie Harricana

Learning about Brasserie Harricana

Harricana Beer & Cheese Pairing

Harricana Beer & Cheese Pairing

Brasserie Harricana

Brasserie Harricana

One of those such stops is the third spot I recommend for great beer: Vices & Versa. We happened on the perfect spring day for a few drinks in their patio oasis. We took advantage of their amazing beer selection to sample some of the harder to find Quebecois beers.

Vices & Versa

Patio beers!

Vices & Versa

Vices & Versa

Vices & Versa

If you don’t have time to get out to any of those options, some of my other favourites closer to downtown include BrutopiaPub BreWskey, the Ste-Elisabeth, and the Saint Bock.

Pub BreWskey

Pub BreWskey

St-Sulpice

Pub Saint-Sulpice

Our crew at Pub Saint-Sulpice

Brutopia

My name may still be on the wall at Brutopia!

Check out a Market

Markets are one of my favourite things to visit when I travel, & the ones in Quebec are especially good. The Jean Talon Market in Little Italy is worth the short metro ride north. This public market is open year round, however the summer is when it really shines, with over 300 vendors filling the open-air stalls. Sample anything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses to homemade charcuterie – there’s something for everyone!

We decided to do a food tour on our trip, & this was also were it started. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the tour, actually, as it made for a great excuse to spend some time at the market. I also really enjoyed learning more about Little Italy, Mile-Ex, and the Park-Ex neighbourhoods, since they weren’t so much on my radar when I lived there.

Jean Talon Market

Bustling Saturday at the Market

Jean Talon Market

Sampling charcuterie made in house

Jean Talon Market

Fresh seafood

Jean Talon Market

FRESH!

Jean Talon Market

Jean Talon Market

Cheese samples

Jean Talon Market

If you don’t make it up to Little Italy, Atwater Market near the Lachine Canal is also a great choice. In winter, it’s probably a bit of a better option than Jean Talon as most of it is indoors. Grab a few delicious products & head to the nearby parks on the canal for a picnic.

Montreal Picnic

Montreal Picnic

Picnic in the park

Eat!

Obviously, food is my favourite part of travelling anywhere, & Montreal boasts more great restaurants than most cities. With so many great options, it’s tough to go wrong. A little research will go a long way, however, here are my top picks.

Garde Manger is & has been my number one choice for years. Chuck Hughes is just such a cool chef, & his food speaks for itself. Seriously, he beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, with lobster poutine. Obviously, I highly recommend you order that. N ordered an incredible short rib that was probably the wining main dish for the two of us. They’re also known for their oysters, which make an excellent starter (the fresh horseradish & homemade mignonette take it to the next level). Plan to walk back to your hotel afterwards to work off all you’ve eaten – it’s worth every bite.

Garde Manger Lobster Poutine

Cell phone photos are fantastic

Garde Manger Shortrib

Their menu changes often, but if the shortrib is on it, go for it!

Another new favourite after this trip is Au pied de Cochon. It’s number 34 on Canada’s top 100 for good reason. & with menu items described as “unapologetically glutenous”, it was right up my alley.

We went a little overboard here (I do not recommend ordering both of their signature items: foie gras poutine and duck in a can. Pick ONE!), but everything we ate was phenomenal & our server was so lovely.

Foie Gras Poutine PDC

Foie gras poutine

Anytime anyone goes to Montreal, I suggest they stop by Olive & Gourmando for lunch. This adorable (& very busy) spot in Old Montreal is my idea of the perfect lunch. If the weather is good & the wait is long, order your lunch to go & find a spot in one of the many parks in the Old Port. It’s the best of both worlds. On your way out, don’t forget to grab a pastry – you won’t regret any of them.

Olive & Gourmando

Olive & Gourmando

I’ve already featured a fair bit of poutine in this post. Probably an excessive amount if I’m being honest. I have no shame in the amount of cheese I consume when I visit, however, & no trip to Montreal is complete without at least one poutine. If you find yourself craving one in the afternoon, look no further than Patati Patata. La Banquise may have more choices than you can fathom, but I prefer the classic simplicity of this tiny spot. What they may lack in space, they more than make up for in ambiance & delicious food!

Patati Patata

Poutine with a side salad. It’s all about balance.

Patati Patata

Cheese curds of your dreams

Of course, this just barely scratches the surface of this incredible city. Even after living there for two years, there are still countless places I’d like to visit & restaurants I’d want to try. If you’re planning a trip to this great city & need extra tips, leave me a comment – I’d love to offer advice!

Have you ever been to Montreal? What’s your favourite place to revisit?

Odin \\ 11 months

As of last week, Odin is 11 months old! I’ve really loved doing this little Odin Report post every month. Puppies change so much, so quickly, that it’s easy to forget what it was like in those first months. Now that he’s house trained, sleeps through the night, & we aren’t always worrying about whether he’ll escape his pen & destroy something, life with Odin seems pretty laid back. I love looking back on those early posts so much though. It doesn’t hurt that he was an incredibly adorable ball of fur!

It may just be that it’s been a chilly winter, but every month Odin gets a little more cuddly. He loves a good snuggle with mom & dad now. He still loves his space from time to time too, & will always let us know when he’s done & needs his space. I love watching him around toddlers lately. He’s so fascinated by them, but also a little wary. He’s so sweet with them & mostly just wants to sniff their butts & give them kisses. They’re not always quite as keen on that.

We’ve spent so much time at the off leash dog park at Southland this month. We’re planning a hike once he’s a year old so I’ve been trying to get some longer walks under our belt & it’s the perfect spot for that. His recall is actually pretty good, so I recently took him off leash at the bluff. It’s such a beautiful place to take a walk & I’m glad I can give him a little more freedom without too much worry!

He still sleeps in his kennel at night, but every morning we let him up on our bed for a little snuggle before we start our day. He seems to really love it & burrows into a spot close beside us for a few more minutes of sleep. It’s easy to see why people keep telling us we’ll eventually let him sleep in our bed. So far we’re sticking with the kennel overnight though. I try to remind myself that come summer we will not want a furry heat pack next to us in bed.



Odin’s also been joining me for morning workouts with November Project. He’s a little crazy sometimes, but everyone seems to love him & I think it tires him out a bit more than just a walk. One of the amazing ladies at NP actually made him (& one of the other dogs) these NP bandanas, so he’s a real member of the tribe. I love the paw print on the YYC logo! Thanks, Michelle!

Mom, I really need a haircut!

We took a couple updated family photos on Valentine’s day. Odin still isn’t that into posing, but they turned out pretty cute anyway.


The photos below are probably my favourite from this month. With N moving to California for work, he took every advantage for extra cuddles with our little bit. These two love each other so much & it melts my heart.



So that’s Odin at 11 months. Once again I’ve got a little video from this month. I took quite a few videos at the dog park. I just love watching him run around & play with other pups.

Happy Monday! We love you, Odin,

Mom & Dad

xx

Ch-ch-changes (again)

de Boer Family Photo 2017

Just as we’ve settled into thinking we were going to be a bit more settled for a while, life decides to shake things up. A bit of background: N & I have spent the better part of our relationship doing some form of long distance.

Our relationship began a few months before my imminent cross-country move; we spent those first two years seeing each other infrequently, at best. When I moved back to Calgary, much of N’s work was based out of town, so he left for short periods fairly often. Then when he moved to his current company, we knew he’d be spending even more time out of town since most of their projects are on a rotation of some sort. We are no strangers to being apart.

In January, he found himself back in the Calgary office. We were preparing ourselves for an eventual out of town offer, as they don’t have as much work here right now. We’d discussed what we were willing to do, & what we weren’t, but then suddenly it seemed like he might be staying in town. You could say we were cautiously optimistic.

One Thursday a couple weeks ago, his boss approached him about moving to San Francisco. It was one of the options we’d known was a possibility, so we weren’t taken totally off guard, but we were surprised to find that it was back on the table so suddenly. We were told that with the current political situation in the States, it would take a little longer than the usual month for N to get his visa. Coupled with him needing to renew his passport, we figured we had some time. Turns out, we don’t, & he’s already preparing to leave this month.

So, here we go again with this long distance thing. N is moving down to San Francisco, (on a sort of three week rotation, keeping his Canadian salary, benefits, etc) while I stay here in Calgary. There were a lot of factors that went into this particular decision, & it’s hard to know if it’s the right one. One of the big ones was I wasn’t sure I was ready to be jobless in the US. It’s easy to imagine it would be fun to go down & freelance or blog or volunteer, but I think it’s harder to actually do it, & be without any kind of real income.

It’s certainly going to be an interesting adventure. N gets weekends off during the 3 weeks he’s down there, so he’ll get lots of time to explore the Bay Area & San Francisco. That part makes it a bit of a cool opportunity. Neither of us have ever been to the area, so we’re making plans to spend some time there together too. We’ve also got some Europe plans to look forward to. Overall, we’re optimistic that we can make the best of it & it’s only temporary. It’s a lot easier when we know it’s temporary.

Have you ever done long distance? Do you have any tips for us for living in the Bay Area? We’d love to hear them, if you do!

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