WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Author: whoalansi Page 3 of 34

Dear Berkeley Bowl

I love grocery stores. I know that’s kind of an odd thing to say you love, but I really do. A truly fantastic grocery store makes me really damn happy. Before coming down to California, I was pumped to spend a couple months living near Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s. That was literally on my list of things to do in California: shop at Whole Foods. That was, until I learned about Berkeley Bowl.

Berkeley Bowl is an independent supermarket in, you guessed it, Berkeley, CA. They’re best known for their produce selection, & for good reason, it’s one the largest selections of produce I’ve ever seen in a single location. Even their organic section rivals most regular grocery stores. It’s the place to go when you’re looking for that one strange ingredient for a recipe.

Berkeley Bowl

The huge organic section

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

So much produce (& dang, I wish limes were this cheap at home!)

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Mushrooms on mushrooms

Berkeley Bowl

There were literally too many to fit in one photo

Berkeley Bowl

Honestly though, it’s kind of the place to go for whatever your grocery needs might be.  They have a huge, full-service meat & seafood counter, more varieties of dairy products than I can even attempt to sample, most of the specialty grocery items you expect to find at Whole Foods, & an amazing bulk section. I assume the bulk section is similar to what you’d find in a Bulk Barn, but smaller. Here you can stock up on spices, pastas, cereals, flours, rices, candies… That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I like it for the spice section. I love that I can refill my existing spice containers when I run out or get a pinch of something I need for a recipe. I’m that person who filled a bag with 8 cents of red pepper flakes.

Berkeley Bowl

My favourite section, obs

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Cheese Island – the happiest place

Berkeley Bowl

Bulk Spices!

Berkeley Bowl

Part of the dairy (& nut “dairy”) section

In addition to all this, they have a great full service cafe at both of their locations. I haven’t tried anything except their coffee, but it’s always busy & the food looks delicious. If you’re thinking that it comes with a Whole Foods style price tag, you’d be wrong. It’s surprisingly affordable!

With two locations in Berkeley, I often find an excuse to stop by when I’m out & about. N thinks it’s ridiculous that I enjoy spending so much time in grocery stores, but what can I say: I love food. Maybe then he’ll understand why I love it so much when he finally sees it (one of my goals is to bring him at least once before I leave), but I doubt it. He’s a “get in, get out” shopper, I’m a “compare everything, wander aimlessly” shopper. 😉

I’ll end my love letter to the Berkeley Bowl here & just say, if you find yourself hungry in this funky city, stop by & grab something delicious. You won’t be disappointed.

On Seasons

CopenhagenIt’s that time of year when my Facebook feed is filled with posts about pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, & cool autumn days. We’re officially a week away from the Fall Equinox, a date I generally associate with the end of summer (or Winter: Part 1). I’m a summer girl, through & through. Maybe it comes with the territory, being born smack dab in the middle of this glorious season, or maybe it stems from the fact that I’ve spent most of my life in a city that doesn’t often experience a true fall.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cozying up with N for a nice evening by the fire. I even love the quintessential fall outfit: sweater, scarf, jeans, tall boots. The last couple years, we’ve even gotten some “real fall” weather in Calgary, & even I have to admit, it’s pretty nice.

Goodbye Summer Hikes

What I don’t love is when the frenzied fall excitement starts while we’re still in the throes of a perfectly good summer. I know the heat can get to people, but dang, are we really ready to start scraping frost off our windshields or, heaven forbid, wearing pants to work? Do you really love pumpkin that much, or are you just really into that Starbucks abomination (I think pumpkin is a delightful gourd under most other circumstances)?

The only thing worse than hearing about Pumpkin Spice Lattes in August is seeing a Christmas countdown before Halloween. I’m not even going to apologize for my opinion on this one. Christmas is literally over 3 months away. Stop. Please. Can we get a couple months off before we have to start thinking about the most commercialized holiday again? We have a hard & fast rule in our house: no Christmas talk until after Remembrance Day.

I get it if you love fall. That’s totally cool. I think it’s pretty not bad myself (although, it’s no summer), but before we get all wrapped up (literally, it’s gonna get real cold up in Canada) in fall, let’s take a minute to say goodbye to my favourite season. Thanks for being especially great to me, Summer 2017. I’m hesitant to let you go. & here’s everything I will miss most about you:

  • Sitting outside in daylight until the wee hours
  • Biking to & from work every day
  • Bare legs & summer dresses
  • Sandals (oh how I love sandals)
  • Jumping into the lake
  • Getting out the door in under 5 minutes
  • Letting my hair air dry on my way to work
  • Waking up to sunshine
  • Giving Odin a treat without mittens on
  • Getting off work while the sun’s still up
  • BBQs & get togethers & all the socializing
  • Delicious produce from the garden
  • Tan lines

All kidding aside, this summer was one for the books. We crammed a lot into a few short months, & although I’m sad to see her go, I’m also excited for what the rest of 2017 has in store for us.

Cheers to Summer

Cheers to summer, & happy Fall Equinox, friends. I hope the snow holds off until I’m back in Calgary. 😉

A Year of November Project

NP SF

Photo by NP SF

Technically it’s been a little more than a year since I first set my alarm to join the November Project YYC Tribe for a workout, but today seemed so fitting for this post. For starters, I went to my first NP San Francisco workout this morning. I drove two UC Berkeley students into the city & back as part of the East Bay carpool. It was a great morning, & Odin was a huge hit, of course. Today is also one week out from a very special Wednesday morning for NP YYC: the annual McMahon Stadium workout!

Story time! Last September, I decided to participate in a month-long a healthy living challenge to raise awareness & funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. You may recall my blog posts about the challenge around this time last year. I’d committed to eating paleo, limiting alcohol, & working out three times a week. The greatest thing that came out of the challenge, besides raising money for a good cause, was November Project.

I’d first heard about this crazy group of people back at the beginning of that summer. My friend Zoe messaged me with a link to the Calgary tribe’s information, “You need to join this. I joined the YYJ one in December & it is literally the best thing I have done ever.” Strong words, Zo. I briefly looked at the page, saw that workouts were at 6:13 am, & gave it a hard pass. I’d spent most of high school waking up before sunrise to jump in a freezing cold pool & swim laps for a couple hours. Aside from the occasional 6 am spin class, I was over the commitment of early morning workouts.

That is, until I saw the amazing support Zoe got during our SeaWheeze Half Marathon a few weeks later. There were high fives, “y’all goods”, & lots & lots of hugs throughout the course. All this because she put on a Lululemon shirt with November Project spray-painted across the front. It didn’t matter that they weren’t from the same city. It didn’t matter that they’d never worked out together before. These people were in her court, cheering her on. This was more than just an early morning sweat session. This was a community. & that was something I could get behind.

So I decided to join. They happened to doing a special Wednesday morning workout on August 31, 2016: running the McMahon Stadium stairs. This would be my first NP workout. I even recruited a few friends to come with me. I don’t remember much about that first workout except that it was hard. Like, really hard. I walked away with sore legs & a huge smile plastered on my face.

NP YYC McMahon 2016

My first NP YYC Workout, McMahon Stadium 2016

NP YYC Aug 2017

My last NP YYC workout before SF!

I couldn’t walk properly for days afterwards. & the next few workouts were hard too. They were hard in a way that I loved though & throughout the course of that first month, I found myself looking more & more forward to Wednesday mornings. So much so, that I started going to the Monday morning workouts too. & after that September Challenge ended, I didn’t stop going.

Winter mornings in Olympic Plaza with Odin

NP A + O

I swear I’m not always carrying Odin

Although he adds a nice challenge to lunges

Over the last year, November Project has become more than just a morning workout for me. It’s become coffee dates, & socializing, & high gives when you think you can’t take one more step. While Tammara & Kyle have put us through some crazy workouts, I’ve also made some really rad friends. Better than that, I’ve become part of an amazing, supportive, welcoming community.

NP YYC Aug 2017

NP YYC Card Workout

After a tough deck of cards workout

The test truck brings breakfast to our stair workout

NP YYC

Rotary Park play ground workouts

So here’s to an amazing year with the YYC Tribe, full of everything from warm sunrise runs & half marathon scavenger hunts to climbing everything in sight & frozen eyelash photo shoots. Thank you for welcoming me, Odin, my husband, & anyone else I’ve dragged along into your weird little group. We may be a small tribe, but you have the biggest hearts.

Weatherproof! We even workout when it’s -30 C & our eyelashes freeze. Thanks for the photo, Kyle!

NP YYC Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

Odin & I with our awesome co-leader, Kyle! (Who supplied many of these great photos!)

Since I have some serious FOMO about missing this McMahon Stadium workout, I hope you’ll all #justshowup for me, & if you were thinking of joining NP, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE. This is what started it all for me. & I’d love to see you’ve joined this fantastic crew when I get back in mid October.

#noexcuses

SeaWheeze 2017

SeaWheeze 2017

As you well know at this point, I was one of the lucky 10,000 people to score tickets to this year’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon. This race is by far the fastest selling I’ve ever run. The morning tickets go on sale is always a bit stressful, & there’s always a little drama afterwards. This year was no exception.

Fortunately, I actually had a lot of friends score tickets this year, which made it really fun to share in the excitement surrounding the whole weekend. Half the race is about Lululemon (the swag, the gear, the festival that follows the race…) & the other half is about the actual run. I understand that gear is more of a factor for many people who sign up, but even as a huge lulu fan myself, it’s a little much for me.

Last year, I opted to wait in the crazy line for exclusive SeaWheeze gear, available only to registered runners. This year, I was still in Vernon, BC when the store opened & missed a lot of the pre-Wheeze stuff. I just wasn’t willing to spend the extra time & money to be in Vancouver for an extra day. Instead, I met up with my friend Zoe at the expo, did a quick lap, grabbed my race package, & headed to our hostel to drop my bags.

SeaWheeze Expo

The only photo I took at the expo

We then decided food was more important than anything else & headed to my favourite sushi spot in Van, Kadoya, where we fueled up for the run with an obscene amount of sushi & a pitcher of beer. Not exactly your optimal pre-race meal.  I was going into this race injured though so I figured I couldn’t really do much more harm. Expectations were low.

Kadoya Sushi

We really did order a pitcher

Kadoya Sushi

My sushi rolls (just mine). Salmon Sashimi not pictured.

Zo & I are both members of November Project in our respective cities so when NP Van announced they were doing a pre-race Crate Escape, we knew we had to go. I’m so glad we did. It’s such a cool event! We both figured we might not have the opportunity to attend another one (although, I did manage to make it to SF’s last week!).

Crate Escape is a travelling storytelling series,  hosted in different NP cities all over the world. They’re usually in the evening so it’s a great intro to NP if you’re not sure you’re ready to take that early morning plunge.

NP Van Crate Escape

Richard starting off Crate Escape!

The next morning came pretty early. We’d laid out all our stuff for the race so we wouldn’t wake our dorm mates, but I still felt pretty guilty. They’d both had late nights. Last year, there were four of us so we could turn on the lights without fear of being terrible roommates, but this year it was just the two of us. Everyone else stayed in more adult accommodations. We’re cheap. It works. (Although we discussed that we may need to spring for a hotel room next year.) The kitchen only opened at 6 am, which was just early enough for us to quickly devour the food we’d picked up the night before & walk to the race.

Walking to the start line is always such a fun experience, as you run into different people running it as well. Generally, no one else is out wandering the streets that early except the participants & their cheering section. We got there early enough to check our gear & got in line for the port-o-potties. That lasted all of 10 seconds before we decided to try the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Best. Decision. Ever. There was a line at the main floor washrooms, but a helpful concierge told us to head upstairs & use the conference washrooms. Swankiest pre-race pee of my life. We obviously took a lot of selfies.

Pac Rim Bathroom Selfies

Swanky Pre-Race Pee at the Pac Rim

Happy dance!

Happy Dance! Zo just straight laughing at me, but she actually felt so happy too.

We decided to pass this tip on to a few of the ladies in the port-o-potty line before heading to the corrals, where we easily found a few of our November Project friends. I can only assume it was the good karma from our washroom tip off & not the fact that Brogan is easily the tallest & loudest person I’ve ever met. 😉 (I mean that in the best way possible. It was super cool to meet one of the founders of November Project!)

Pre-race selfie

Pre-race selfie

SeaWheeze Startline

SeaWheeze Startline

Bright Brogan

As you can see, it would be really hard to spot Brogan in a crowd…

NP Crew

NP YYC Co-leader Kyle is ready to race!

SeaWheeze Start

Our corral heading out from the start

We seeded ourselves in the second corral with our friends & the 2 hour pace beavers. I was thinking this might be a bit fast for me considering my lack of training, but I went for it anyway. Zoe wanted to break 2 hours for the first time. Meanwhile, I was telling myself I needed to be happy just to finish. (Fat chance! I’m far too competitive to be happy with that!)

The start itself is always such a rush- you’re running with so many other people, everyone still feels great, there’s a crazy energy! Looking back, we took it out pretty fast. The weather was perfect for running & we were clearly feeling good. I swear sea level does wonders when you’re used to training at altitude. Thanks, Calgary. (Or maybe sushi &  beer is just the perfect pre-race meal?)

Go!

Off we go!

First Cheer Station

First Cheer Station

Zoe & I were chatting on & off, enjoying the run, when we hit the Burrard Street Bridge. Zo wanted to stick to the inside, which was separated from runners making their way back across the bridge (already?! SO FAST!) by a line of traffic cones. As I was enjoying the view from the bridge, my foot caught on a piece of unmarked cone & I went down pretty hard. Luckily, I bounced back up pretty quick, but I’d scratched my dad’s Go Pro (that I was holding), ripped a hole in my new lulus, & scraped my hand pretty badly. The GU Gel in my pocked had also exploded down the side of my pants, so my other hand was a sticky mess from this discovery. Zo asked me if I wanted to stop at a first aid tent, but that was the last thing I wanted. This sounds pretty stupid in hindsight, but I was more concerned with how much time it would add to my race. There was a water station as soon as we got off the bridge where I managed to clean off my hands a bit & keep going.

I somehow managed to keep up with Zoe’s awesome pace until halfway up the bridge on the way back. I was still trying to decide how much damage running would do to my already injured knee so I opted not to push to catch up & ran my own race.

Go Zo

Sorry my SeaWheeze posts are always of your butt.

Go Zo

Go Zo Go! This is about where I lost her.

My fall ended up being a bit of a blessing though as it distracted me from the pain of the actual run. At one point, I was toying with the idea of stopping, thinking I was at 10 km & couldn’t run another 10+. I checked my phone for the first time in the race & was actually at almost 15 km! I’d zoned out for a solid 5 km. It was just the push I needed to keep going.

Fire Cheer

Fire Fighters are a pretty good distraction too

Sea Wall

The whole course is gorgeous, but I especially love the sea wall

YVR Sea Wall

This race was full of firsts for me, actually. First time not checking my phone or watch for my pace, first time not walking except at water stations, first time not doing an insane sprint to the finish, first time not checking the clock at the finish.

So many great cheer stations!

These Go Pro captures honestly don’t do it justice

Amazing!

Let’s talk about that last point. I always know my finishing time. Always. This year, I crossed that finish line in a half sprint, assumed I’d run around a 2:15 or a 2:20 & went to find Zoe. When I found her, I immediately asked if she broke 2 hours & she said she did. I couldn’t have been happier for her! I gave her the biggest sweatiest hug I could muster.

At this point, I still hadn’t thought of looking at my time. As we walked up the ramp collecting your various swag, I texted friends & family to tell them about the fall (& the race, I guess). We ate breakfast, I got first aid, & I still hadn’t checked. It wasn’t until Zoe looked up her official time that I thought to check mine. I couldn’t even get it to work so it was her who told me I’d officially ran a 2:02. A 2:02?! What?! I guess there’s something to be said for experience.

Race Finish Line

Race Finish Line

DONE

DONE!

SeaWheeze Injury

Burrard Street Bridge Injury

Amazing Lululemon

Lululemon seriously made my day by replacing the pants that I ripped with some limited edition SeaWheeze ones. THANK YOU!

I couldn’t be happier with my run this year. It was definitely an unforgettable experience, & that’s saying a lot coming from someone who got engaged at the end of a race once. Mostly, I’m in awe of what our bodies are capable of. I’m so proud of my body for accomplishing what it did. I truly didn’t do anything to help it out, besides having run several half marathons in my life. So way to go, body! You’re pretty incredible.

That’s it for my 2017 SeaWheeze Race Recap. Writing this post has me excited for SeaWheeze 2018 again – I know I’ll try to register again. Sorry, Future Alanna.

I also ran with my dad’s Go Pro. Unfortunately, I just carried it so all of my footage is terribly shaky. Until I edit it better, I created a quick video using Go Pro’s new Quik App. It’s not great, but it gives you a glimpse into my race!

 

 

August in Instagram

It’s been a busy weekend, & possibly an even busier month! N’s sister & her boyfriend spent the last 6 days with us in the Bay Area, & we did not hold back. We did good, seriously good. They checked everything they wanted to do off their list & are headed down the coast for more, while we recover. It honestly feels good to sit still today. I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend with N & O in the Bay. I honestly thought that two months would feel like a long time, but I’m almost halfway through my leave & it’s flying by. Time is constantly throwing me for a loop. Anyways, here’s what we got up to this month according to Instagram.

Aug 2017 IG

1. We headed out to Water Valley for a Family Reunion over August Long Weekend. We hadn’t seen a lot of people since our wedding so it was fun to reconnect with people as well as meet some new faces.

2. Zo & I ran the SeaWheeze Half Marathon again. I have some crazy stories & a Go Pro video coming your way, but the most important point is that Zoe broke 2 hours for the first time & I am so proud of her.

3.  Odin swam in the ocean for the first time on our trip down the coast. He’s now played on more sandy beaches than I can count. My car has sand in every crevice, but he’s one happy boy.

4. The Pacific Coast is a dream: the beaches, the twisty highway roads, & the changing landscape were better than my wildest dreams.

5. You can absolutely never go wrong with dinner at Pok Pok, even if you have to get takeaway & eat in a random park in NW Portland because you’re with your dog. Trust me.

6. N lives less than an hour from Napa, so we spent our first weekend doing a little wine touring.

7. We brought Odin along on our little wine tour & were so happy with how easy it is to find places that are totally cool with letting your dog hang out while you try some wines. California is totally winning when it comes to the dog friendly game, & we love it!

8. A little Sunday lunch stop at Vik’s chaat on our Berkeley bike tour. Tucked in beside the Aquatic park & the train tracks, it’s been a local fav for 25 years for good reason!

9. We are huge fans of Fieldwork Brewing in Berkeley. In the few weeks that I’ve been down here, it’s become our go to for beers. With a great patio, friendly servers, & a completely dog friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong!

Travel Planning: my tips & tricks

SF Mission MuralsOver the last six months, I’ve done more trip planning & created more itineraries than ever before. My most successful plan so far was my first trip down to SF to visit Nathan in May. I combined everything I knew about how we travel with what I’d learned on our previous trips to make the most amazing itinerary. As someone who loves travel planning almost as much as the travel itself, this was immensely satisfying.

This week, I’ve been working on an itinerary for our visit with Nathan’s sister & her boyfriend. They’re coming to stay with us for an extended weekend & we want to do all the things. Since planning is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some of my best tips, & a few of my favourite apps that make it all a bit easier.

Find the types of resources you enjoy reading. 

It’s so much easier to plan if you’re actually reading about things you enjoy. If you love art & history, maybe some of the travel guides are a great read for you. More than likely though, there’s a website or magazine that highlights your interests more specifically & can give you tips on what to see & do. à

For me, I generally turn to food-related articles, so Bon Appetit is always the first place I check. They’re starting to have a nice selection of city guides that I highly recommend checking out if you like to eat. Otherwise, The New York Times, Eater, & Anthony Bourdain (he just launched a travel website, but you can also search any of his shows online) are my go-to resources for getting the ball rolling.

Create a personalized map of your favourite places

Once you’ve started research, you’re going to need somewhere to store all that data. My absolute favourite travel app is Google My Maps. I can’t recommend it enough & use it daily when I travel. I’ve been using it for a few years now, but they seem to be trying to bring more awareness to it lately, & I’ve found myself using it much more heavily this year.

Google My Maps: Bay Area

My Map for the Bay Area

Basically, it just allows you to create custom maps. You can personalize them & then share, collaborate, & take them with you anywhere. I made one for every city we visited in Europe & then shared them with our crew. You can access them from the Places menu in Google Maps, so they’re easy to locate on mobile.

I’m a pretty visual person, so I find this is a great way to start sorting through what I might want to do in a city. I can easily see what places are close together without getting bogged down by stuff I don’t care about, & build an itinerary from there. My Maps will still show things you haven’t saved, but since I personalize my icons, they don’t get in the way. In addition to visual customization, you can also add your own notes to a place once you’ve saved it to your map. This is a handy little reminder for why I added a place or for other little details, like “bring cash!” or “skip the line by getting takeout”.

Google My Maps

My notes on Powell Street Street Car

I have maps for most of the cities we’ve visited now & they come in handy any time we revisit. I love researching new restaurants & things to do, so mine are all pretty full. That can be overwhelming for a lot of people. The beauty of these maps though is you can make them as busy or as simple as you like – it’s all based on what you enjoy! Well done, Google.

Google My Maps close up

Close up of my SF Map

One more thing I should mention: these maps also seem to work with offline areas, which is great for when you may not have a ton of data to use, but still need navigation. Download the offline area for any major city & you’re set!

Flesh out an itinerary

Everyone travels differently, & I know the idea of having a plan sounds totally awful to many of you, but I tend to want to cram a lot into a small amount of time. When you only have a few days somewhere, a plan can help alleviate disappointment. At the very least, I like to make a couple dinner reservations & then look at a few other things that are nearby. Lately, I’ve been building my itineraries in Word since it’s incredibly simple, but I’ve also used Evernote, Google Keep, & my calendar for storing ideas. Anything that allows you to keep a few short notes & ideas for when that jet-lag takes hold is perfect for this.

SF Itinerary in Word

Sample SF Itinerary in Word

In May, we crammed a crazy amount of stuff into a long weekend. Most of this was possible because of all the research I did. It was probably the most intense itinerary I’d ever created. I prefer this style to the more “we’ll see what we feel like” style we’ve gone with in the past, because I find I spend less time doing research while I’m on my trip. Instead, I get it all out of the way beforehand & if I don’t end up feeling like doing something, I don’t have to, but I don’t waste time looking up ideas for things to do on the fly.

Save it all to Dropbox

Dropbox has been around for so long, so this is nothing new. It’s a great way to access files when you’re away from your computer, or share & collaborate with others. I like to save all my travel-related files to a folder I can access when I get to my destination, & Dropbox does this seamlessly.

My travel folder contains pdfs from travel websites, google maps directions to certain places, all my itineraries, any pdf e-tickets I’ve purchased in advance, & copies of our passports & travel documents. It’s all in one easy-to-access spot (just make sure you can connect to WiFi, have data, or make it available offline!).

& that’s mostly it! That’s how I stay organized for our trips & cram in as much as I do. If you have any tips of your own, or would like to see some of my crazy travel maps, let me know in the comments. Happy planning!

 

Happy Third Anniversary

A reading her vowsThree years ago, I stood in front of our friends & family & told you,

I promise to support your dreams – all of your dreams. Be your advocate, your confidant, and your biggest cheerleader.  

I promise to always let you have the bigger piece of bacon (as long as I can have the last piece of sashimi).  

I promise to share my many passions in life – even the silly ones. I want to eat, travel, and love our way through this life.  

I promise to continue our Nashville North tradition and two-step with you for as long as you’re willing to teach me.  

I promise to love, honour, and cherish everything that we have built and will build together, in triumph, but especially in failure.  

As long as we both shall live.

We’ve made some incredible memories since then, & I can’t wait to make even more with you in California over the next month & half, & then, wherever life takes us. You’re the best travel partner I could ask for, the most loving daddy to our fur baby, & the most patient Instagram husband. Thank you for going along with all my crazy plans, being willing to try anything, & always being ready to overeat our way through a new city. You’re one in a million. ( & it still makes me laugh that we both unknowingly promised I’d get that last piece of sashimi. Still the best deal going. 😉 )

I love you, today, & everyday,

xx

a

“Si tu pouvais lire dans mon coeur, tu verrais la place où je t’ai mise !”- Flaubert

On going for it, & other honest ramblings

Poolside Hangs

As I type this, I’m poolside at N’s resort-like community pool, soaking up the vitamin D & thinking about how fortunate I am to have so much of this summer off. Odin & I officially arrived in the Bay Area on Thursday, but today is our first full day on our own. We’ve opted to take it easy & enjoy this rare sunny August morning outside.

I drove Mom to the airport yesterday after spending most of the last 10 days together. We took a long, slow route to get here, stopping for a weekend in Vancouver so I could run Lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon & then proceeding down the coast for California. We took highway 101 south most of the way & spent an extra day in Portland exploring the city with the pup. We spent a night in Fortuna, California before taking the most epic scenic highway of my life, through the Redwoods State Park & then down the incredible, winding highway 1 to the coast. I will definitely share more our incredible trip in the coming weeks – if you love to drive, you’ll surely be adding this one to your bucket list.

Now that it’s just our little family down here in California, I feel like I have some time to relax a little & breath. It’s honestly been such a hectic summer. I feel like I haven’t stood still for more than a few minutes since before we left for Europe in June. I don’t even really feel like I got to experience summer in Calgary! I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, I’m truly just in awe of how fast time seems to pass as I get older, especially given my propensity for overscheduling myself. I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of this time off work to relax, explore, & do a lot more writing & blogging than I have been of late.

I’m honestly pinching myself a bit that this is my reality until October. How did I get so lucky as to get two full months off work to come down here & spend time with my husband & our pup? Most of this is thanks to N & his ability to manage budget. We still could have easily decided we couldn’t afford to cut my salary out of the equation for a couple months, & maybe that would be the smarter decision for our financial situation, but sometimes you have to go for it. & Sometimes you have to say fuck it, & put your relationship before anything else.

You see, N & I are no strangers to long distance. I spent most of our first two years together living on the other side of our massive country. I was studying in Montreal, while N was working in Calgary. We caught a few lucky breaks over the course of those two years though, & he got to spend some longer stretches of time with me out East. When I graduated from McGill, I moved back to Calgary, thinking that was it for us when it came to long distance.

I was, unfortunately, so very wrong. At first his job took him out of town intermittently, usually 2-3 weeks at a time. It was a refreshing change from being apart more often than together. Over the last few years, however, this has changed to a schedule where he lives mostly away from home. He saw our house for the first time over Snapchat. He missed my birthday 3 years in a row & was away for his own. He misses out on a lot of stuff at home, which is hard for both of us, but especially for him.

Why am I writing about all this? Well, mostly, I think it’ll be easy to look at my social media over the next month & a half & think everything is amazing, that I’m so lucky, that life is easy. & You’d be mostly right. I am lucky. My life is relatively easy. I’m definitely incredibly privileged. But still, the reality is that, for much of the year, I lead a very separate life from my husband. We see each other once every three weeks for a weekend. Our lives will likely be this way until at least March 2018. Right now, I may be down in California with him for almost two full months, but this is the first summer we’ll have spent more time together than apart in years. This is our reality, & a good friend reminded me that it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that someone else’s life is perfect because they tend to share the positives on social media. No one’s life is perfect. & I’ll continue to share the positives from my life on social media, but I’ll try to be honest as well.

So with that, here’s to honest posts, to rambling about a lot of different topics, & to going for it. I think it’s about time for a dip in that pool now.

California, here we come

LOA
Yesterday, I entered the above information into my work calendar. I guess that makes it pretty official. Odin & I are off on a big adventure: California, here we come!

When N first accepted his position down in Richmond, we discussed me coming with him. It wasn’t really feasible for me to do so for the duration of his contract, but I promised we’d find a way for me to join him for an extended period at some point this year. It’s felt such a long ways off for so long, something future Alanna would be doing. I can hardly believe I’ll be making my way in that direction tomorrow. In typical Alanna fashion, I’m barely packed.

It’s been an action-packed few weeks for me here. I felt like I’d barely caught my breath after Europe when I turned around & asked work for a leave of absence. It probably seems a bit ridiculous that we’re taking off so soon after such a big trip, but it just made the most sense logistically. I’m running the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver on Saturday, & it seemed silly to go all the way to the coast twice in the span of a couple weeks. My mom is coming out with me & will stay with Odin in the suburbs, while I participate in the weekend’s festivities. Monday morning, we’ll pack up the car & start our journey down the coast.

We’re going to take our time, driving the scenic Pacific Coast Highway & spending an extra day in Portland. We also plan to explore the Avenue of the Giants. If you have any great suggestions around Eureka, California, let me know! It’s going to be a pretty great road trip. We’re all really excited!

So here’s to a new adventure! See you in October, Canada!

July in Instagram

It was hard to narrow this month’s IG posts to just nine. We had a great time in Europe & I took so many photos. I’m trying not to post allllll of them, since I’m sure that gets annoying for people. I’ll definitely be putting some blog posts together about our trip though, so keep an eye out for that.

My goal for August was to blog more. I’m already a little bit behind on this goal of posting three times a week this month, but I think it’ll pick up more easily once I get to California in a couple weeks. I’ve got lots of things I want to share & will definitely have more time to do so.

Anyway, here’s what we got up to in July according to my instagram.

July 2017 IG

1. Celebrating Canada Day with some delicious beers in a beautiful garden with my fav. We couldn’t be in Canada for #Canada150, but this was a pretty great substitution.

2. Bikes in Copenhagen. I honestly can’t say enough good about Denmark. I loved the Danes positive dispositions & their bike culture. I’m still entranced by this wonderful city.

3. I never miss a sailway. Grab a drink, put on your suit, & find a spot on deck – it’s one of my favourite things about cruising.

4. Nyhavn: am I overdoing it by doubling up on my Copenhagen posts? We spent a lot of time in Nyhavn, from having drinks by the water’s edge to biking along the canals to Christianshavn. I love the colourful buildings.

5. Oslo Sailaway with my fav guy. This was taken at 11 pm. It could have easily passed for late afternoon. The extra long daylight hours in the Baltic are so cool.

6. Back in Calgary, celebrating the twin’s 30th birthday (Twin #1 featured here) with a biking brewery tour. We hit Annex Ale Project, Banded Peak Brewing, High Line Brewing, & Cold Garden, before heading over to Mill Street for dinner.

7. Our amazing November Project Co-leader, Kyle, just finished biking across Canada to raise awareness & funds for addiction counseling. We were lucky enough to catch up with him for breakfast as he passed through Calgary. We missed you man! So proud of everything you’ve accomplished this summer!

8. Me & my bud running stairs with November Project Calgary & taking selfies with the knit bomb. I’m gonna miss these amazing people while I’m away. If you’ve ever thought about joining – DO IT! It’s the most positive & supportive group of people. So much love.

9. Folk Festing with the bestie! Thanks to D & Heather for a lovely day at Folk Fest. Sunshine, beers, & lots of dancing barefoot in the grass is a great way to spend a Saturday in the summer.

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