From Toronto to the Edge

I’m officially saying goodbye to Toronto.  Living back on the Edge and committing to help Northern Edge to grow and work more smoothly.

Here are a few amazing experiences I had in Toronto that I previously neglected to blog about…  These are some great highlights from my past year-or-two:

OWD – My first ever payed dancing gig

Just as spring was beginning last year, I was invited last minute to be a dancer in a very special super secret musical episode of the popular Toronto webseries Out with Dad.
It was a fantastic experience – I met a lot of really talented and dedicated actors, directors, dancers, grips, camera-people, makeup artists, and composers.  I spent a day in rehearsal shortly followed by two beautiful days of filming in a park, and I got one hell of a sunburn and heatstroke that led me to later resign from my job because I was feeling too ill to come in.

I highly recommend tuning in to Out with Dad – it’s a really thoughtful and gripping drama about a girl who discovers she is a lesbian and her relationship with her father.  It’s been aired on tv in France and has a huge following from all over the world.  Below is the episode I was in:  (see the big sunburned redheaded dancer man.)

S-Trip – a #jobofalifetime

While searching for jobs in Toronto I stumbled upon an amazing job opportunity…  An ad to work as  Destination Staff for S-Trip! (see job application in link if you’re interested.)
I had previously heard of the company from my friend DJ, who had worked with them for a number of years.  I was stoked to have the opportunity to do the same.
My interview process moved by in a flash and before you knew it, I was on my first trip for Spring Break 2013.  After my next trip, March Break 2013, I was invited to write a Guest Blog Post on the S-Trip Blog (links to my pictures from there.)  Awesome!  It’s just over a year later and I’ve now done 6 very successful trips with S-Trip, to Punta Cana, Dominican (twice,) Puerto Plata, Dominican (twice,) Montreal for New Years, and Varadero, Cuba!  At the end of this month I’ll be attending a coordinator training to expand my role with the company, which will involve having a lot more responsibility on trip, and going on them for longer.

Where’s my friend DJ now?  Funny you should ask.  His music project Virginia to Vegas has recently become wildly popular with their new song We Are Stars – I’ve heard the song on the radio a couple times and it turns out their official music video is now on tv!  See it below:

Archaeology – a great study

I had a lot of fun studying Archaeology for the time period that I did so this past year.  The field of Archaeology is definitely for me.  The field of school?  Not so much at the time being.  I plan on doing some digs, and maybe seeing if there is a more experiential way to go about becoming an Archaeologist- maybe with a return to a different school (not u of t) a few years down the road.

I may have mentioned I really wanted to be a specialist in Underwater Archaeology…  When I was looking for some field school programs, I stumbled upon the Sanisera Field School’s Underwater Pompeii course.  Ohhh how much I want to do this.

The Fitness Institute – my way to health

I posted when I first joined the Fitness Institute, about how much worth can be found in a fancier gym.  As it turns out, a lot of worth in joining one.  I’ve become so much more fit than I was when I first started, I can’t even believe it.  My trainer, Josh, is the one part of Toronto I’m going to miss the most!  Super bummed that I can’t find an equal to this gym or this trainer up North.  Looking for recommendations between Huntsville and North Bay.

Finding Flow – flowing better due to these

I’ve also previously posted about 5 Rythms – the fantastic spiritual dance experience that helps you connect to your body and your emotions, and that is a lot of fun!  My mom and I attended the Finding Flow workshop in Toronto’s Distillery District this past Spring, and it was a really great experience.  CCSS also hosted a Heart Flow of Shamanism weekend at the Edge this Spring – after these two workshops, I feel like I’m flowing really well in a lot of aspects of my life.  Flow is great.  You can’t imagine the difference it can make in your life, to deal with your baggage and nurture your spiritual side.  CCSS also hosted the amazing Celtic Shamanism: Powering Up the Dragon Lines program this Spring, and we have another intro program titled Heart Growth happening this summer.

I highly recommend coming to a beginner’s shamanism retreat.  It’s really cool work we’re doing.  Let me know if you’d like to come, and I can hook you up with a discount.

Live Music

This past year in Toronto I also had the amazing opportunity to see live two of my favourite artists, thanks to Mackenzie!  I’ve been wanting to see Basia Bulat and NQ Arbuckle for the longest time!  Please check them out if you’re unfamiliar with them.  I am a huge fan of both, and we managed to go to NQ Arbuckle’s Christmas Party and see Basia open for the Head and the Heart.  Two very great concerts.

I also got Basia to autograph her two newer albums for my sister Natalie.

I’m at the Edge now- working full time in our office covering for Emily who is on mat leave.  Both my sisters, Emily and Natalie, gave birth this Spring!  Newborns Everest and James are the cutest babies ever.  Dos bambinos:

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Here’s to a great summer, filled with vitality and adventure!

How to make a gourmet vegetarian (or vegan) sandwich:

I find a lot of new vegetarians and vegans don’t realise they can still eat delicious sandwiches.  I’m here to tell you, you really don’t need lunch meats or sliced cheese to make an amazing sandwich.  In fact, if you have the fixings to make a salad..  you can make a good sandwich out of all the same things!  (Anybody got another word for sandwich?  My built-in thesaurus is only suggesting “light lunch.”)  I’m serious though.  Right down to the salad dressing, all that food is delicious wedged between two slices of bread.  Here’s are some great sandwich ideas:

The “at-home” Lunch:

Step one:  Buy the good bread at the grocery store.  I’m talking a nice dark rye (pre-sliced..  I suppose you could get it fresh but then I’m just tempted to dip it in spinach dip.)

I got myself some pumpernickel.

Step two:  sauce.  I put a very thin layer of mayo on my bread.  If you are vegan, I definitely recommend hummus instead.  I would have done both mayo and hummus, but there is no hummus in the house right now.  As I said earlier, a good salad dressing is great too!

Step three: veg.  Put a nice layer of baby spinach (if you don’t have a container of pre-washed and selected baby spinach in your house right now.. go get one!  You can toss these in sandwiches, stir frys, pasta, etc… Amazing and simple!), chop up a tomato and layer it in, slice some cucumber and put a layer of it, same with peppers, avocado if you like it (great protein and all good fats,) and I even had some artichoke hearts leftover from a pizza party to throw on.

Optional step four: close the sandwich and toast it up in the toaster oven.  (Or in the panini press, if you’re awesome like that.)


“The Subway”:

Man, I would love to share my favourite sub.  I usually order a veggie delight on Italian, and ask them to cut it the “old way.”  The old way is how Subway cut their subs in the 90’s, and I’m assuming before that as well.  I always say it tastes better, but I suppose to be accurate I will say it is more satisfying. Old Subway employees will usually know what you want when you ask for this – I had one woman tell me she wishes she could suggest the cut to customers ordering meatball subs (much less mess,) but she isn’t allowed to mention it unless asked for it specifically.  Unfortunately, Subway no longer trains their newer employees on how to make the cut.  I don’t feel confident in my abilities to teach this to you through text and pictures, but ask me some time in person and I will.  I love teaching a new Subway employee the cut, because I know they will know how to do it for future orders and I am doing my deed for the small community of folks who still prefer the old cut.

I always skip the cheese on this sub.  Usually, I will ask if I can have some of the breakfast egg- delicious and great for protein on a veggie sub.  In smaller towns, they don’t have a problem doing this, but in the city there are rules about serving egg after 11am.  ? ? ?  I know.  It’s because it’s a “breakfast sandwich” item.  Anyway, if you can score some egg after 11 – enjoy and be greatful!  (I’m not talking egg salad here.  I’m talking the baked egg circles.)  If you also managed to get it cut the old way, tell them they will need to cut the eggs in half for them to work with the old cut, because they won’t be folding over the same way.

Veggies:  Lettuce, Onion, Tomato, Cucumber . . . I’m sure everyone has their own veggie preferences so I won’t go into too much detail here.  Do what you want.  One time they even had some sliced carrot for me but I haven’t seen it again.

Sauce: I always do mayo and sub sauce.  I haven’t swayed from that in years…  it goes great with the egg.  Again, if vegan, skip the mayo.  I have heard the chipotle is also really good.

I usually do not toast my subway sandwiches.

Man, treat yourself to some white macadamia nut cookies.

The “Buffet Style”:

Staying at a resort or something with a regular buffet?  They have a panini press but only sliced meats and cheeses as options?  Let me help you out.  First, grab some of the bread they are using.  If it’s behind the counter, ask for it.  If they are being stingy, grab some bread from the other bread area… A roll or something maybe?

Go to the salad bar.  Choose a salad dressing and spread it out over one of the bread pieces.  Optional: A second dressing on the other piece.  Now, go around the salad bar and choose some delicious toppings to add in.  If things aren’t quite cut right for a sandwich- you can always grab a knife and pare it down.

Try going around and seeing what else there is to add.  There might be some guacamole or salsa in the taco area, or tofu in the stir fry section that would be perfect.

Be wary of the panini press!  I once made a delicious sandwich in this situation, only to have the panini machine press a piece of sliced meat into the top of my bread.  I was not impressed, and made a new one to eat fresh.  Fresh is always good.

I hope you feel you have some options now, especially if you didn’t before.  Sandwiches are amazing and I would hate for you to be missing out on them!

Gratuities or Gratitude

Today I’m going to talk about something that lots of people have some mixed views over.  Don’t hate me.

Is the tipping culture one of gratitude? Or is it one of obligation?  Which should it really be?

I’m seeing a lot of posts lately about tipping your servers at a restaurant.  Lots of servers are using social media to express the fact they don’t get paid much and rely on their tips.  For me, this raises a huge question about the restaurant industry and how sustainable it is.

First, let me take a look at the tip.  What is a gratuity, really?  It’s right in the name.  A gratuity is a way for someone to express their gratitude over exceptional service.  If I am paying a contractor to renovate my kitchen and he or she goes above and beyond my expectations, I’m going to consider adding a little extra in the form of a tip, to thank them for their exemplary service.  If I am staying at an all-inclusive resort and I eat a delicious crepe made fresh by the same man three times a day, I am for sure going to tip him.

If I go on a tour and the guide does his or her job, but doesn’t ever make me feel special or go out of their way to make sure I’m going to have a good time, I’m not going to tip them.

Tipping isn’t a requirement in any other situation in the world, but when it comes to the servers in restaurants, it suddenly becomes a touchy subject.

Whenever I go to a restaurant with a friend who has been a waiter or waitress, they usually try to remind me to tip.  This is because they know how little the servers are being payed.  Why is that?  Does the restaurant industry assume they will be able to live off their tips and not pay them enough because of it?  Does the restaurant simply not make enough money to pay their employees properly?  If this is the case, there is a serious problem in the way that restaurant is run.

My friend Nadia has been living in Australia for a number of years.  Last summer, she came back to visit and my sister and I went out to eat with her.  At this restaurant, we did not have good service.  This lead to a conversation about tips.  In Australia, apparently, servers are payed what they deserve from the restaurant.  Yes, the food is sometimes a little more expensive to cover it, but it all works out fairly.  If you give someone a tip over there for taking your order and bringing you food, they will be surprised.  In some cases, they might even think you were coming on to them, and at the very least they would be extremely thankful.  They don’t feel they deserve a tip.

My personal philosophy is that I only tip when I do recieve amazing service.  Luckily for those who wait on me, I’m the sort of person who always looks on the bright side and sees the best in everyone.  Therefore, more often than not, I do end up tipping.  There are certainly times, however, when I do not tip.  If you don’t receive a tip from me, it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you didn’t make me feel special or amazing- which really isn’t in your job description so that’s all right.  Your paycheck comes from your boss, not your customers.  If you have a problem with not being payed enough, please bring it to your boss and not to the person who didn’t tip you.

For those servers reading this, please understand that you have an option here!  Let’s take back the way these restaurants are run.  I care for you, and I want you to demand what you deserve– better hourly wages.  Your tips should be extra- they shouldn’t be something you are living off of.  It is so sad that is the case.  Let’s change it.

Fellow customers, what can you do?  As sad as it is to say, I think tipping less will help the situation in the long run.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the servers right now, so I am not telling you to stop tipping.  Find reasons to tip- show your gratitude to the people who give you great service, and if you don’t feel you got great service, don’t feel obligated to tip.  If you do tip, tell your server why, thank them personally while tipping them.

Share this message in your own words.  Comment your thoughts below!  What are your views on the subject?  Are there times you tip or don’t tip?

Let’s start a culture of gratitude, rather than one of obligation.

How grocery shopping can make you feel great!

I’ve finally got my exercise in gear.  Finally, I’m at the point where I really feel it if I miss my daily workout, and I’m almost addicted to the gym.  Perfect.  What’s not perfect?  My eating happens have been degenerating.  In the Dominican, I ate some really good avocado sandwiches, and when I came home I realised that the standard pasta dinner wasn’t doing it for me at all anymore.  I realised I feel unfulfilled when I eat something like that… so I eat more to try and fill whatever in me is searching.  I end up just overeating and feeling sick.

Yesterday morning, Mackenzie approached me about shopping in the afternoon.

“You better be ready to go at 5:30 sharp because I have stuff to do tonight!” she said.  Through the day, I took the time to do some reading and thinking about different recipes and foods I want to try.  Someone recently suggested to me the idea of using coconut water in smoothies in place of milk, and I LOVE that idea.  So, I made a list:

Kale, Celery, Tomatoes, Oranges, Apples, Cinnamon sticks, Almonds, Cucumber, Spinach, Yoghurt, Coconut Water, Fresh Ginger, Bok Choi, Avocado, Carrots, Banana, Firm (pre-marinated) Tofu, Red, Orange, and Yellow Peppers, Dried Cranberries, Melon, Dried pineapple, Grapes, nice Rye bread (oh yeah, we splurged,) Asian stir fry noodles & sauce, etc . . .

Mackenzie complained that a healthy grocery shop would be more expensive, and that’s why people buy unhealthy things, but she was okay with it because she gave up treats for lent.

We did not buy: Kraft dinner, Pasta, Perogies, Cookies, etc…  in fact, we were constantly comparing health values for everything we got.  Fortino’s also stepped it up for us– they had handy little health charts all over the place so you could compare different veggies and such, and figure out what the healthiest options were.

When we got home, I chopped up the kale and put it in a tupperware.  I chopped the celery and carrots and put them in a big container with water.  I made everything as easy as possible to use.  I cleaned the grapes and put half in the fridge, half in the freezer.  Then, we made a delicious stir fry.  We’re addicted- this is probably the fifth one we’ve made, but this time I put in Bok Choi and Tofu and Celery, all new additions.

Today, I made a delicious smoothie using a banana, some kale (really easy since it was pre-prepared the night before!) coconut water, my protein powder which is a healthy one, and some frozen strawberries and peaches.  It was probably one of the most delicious smoothies I’ve ever made, and also one of the healthiest.  And here I make smoothies regularly.

I’ll share a little recipe I picked up a while ago- I’ve committed now to using my juice jug for this instead of juice, and hopefully that will take away some of my daily calorie intake!

Chop up two apples and put them in a jug with two cinnamon sticks.  Sprinkle some lemon juice to help them last longer, then, fill the jug with water.  Let it soak, and then pour yourself some of the water.  Optional: add some cucumber slices.  You can refill the water jug a couple times over before replacing the apples/cinnamon!

This drink tastes great, has all the benefits of drinking water, is a cleanser, is zero calories, and boosts your metabolism!  Try it!

In other news, Mackenzie just showed me this awesome website where you can take University courses online for free, and print off your transcript of what you’ve taken and stuff.  There are some really cool courses and I think I might take some of them!

My post about the Punta Cana is on the way.  It was an amazing experience and I’m trying to streamline my writing about it!

Daring to Dream

This time of year is a great time for dreaming.  Making plans, changing your life.  This is, I think, where New Years Resolutions are derived from.  This year especially, we have entered into a new era with the end of 2012 and all that came with it– everything we dream for ourselves now is more powerful than at any other time.

I would like to recommend an activity- this is something that is personal, but can be done in the company of your loved ones…  Invite them to do the same and you can all live this year the way you truly dream you can.

This is a little tradition my mom and I do every year around this time.  If you’ve ever heard of The Secret or The Power of Positive Thinking, it rests on the same principals:  gratitude, dreams, and putting it all out there.  We choose this time of year because it is best for dreaming and manifesting your dreams, but you can of course do it any time.

So, get out your journal, (or if you are me, your word document because you tend to not be as thorough in your writing if you have to do it all by hand.)  Next year, around this time again, pull out that journal or word document and read everything you dreamed for yourself.  I guarantee much of it will have come true!  Keep doing this every year.  Some dreams take a little longer to manifest, but three years down the road you might realize that something you wrote here did come true after all.

Dare To Dream 2013

Gratitude for 2012
Each New Year we have an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, take inventory, and dream of what it is we wish for ourselves and the earth. A good place to begin is to acknowledge with Gratitude all the gifts we received during the year.
1. What gifts have you received in 2012?

Dream List 2013
The universe supports us as we take the time to be clear on our intentions. I invite you to take some time to dig within and discover your dreams.

1. What would I like to have happen in my life this year?
2. What would I like to do – things I want to accomplish?
3. What areas of growth would I like to focus on?
4. What beliefs or attitudes would I like to change?
5. What problems would I like to see resolved?
6. What decisions would I like to make?
7. Where/how can I be of service to others? The planet?
8. What would I like to do in a new way?
9. What didn’t work well in my life this year that I would like to change?
10. What did work well in my life that I would like to continue?

My Action Plan
From the Dream List choose 3 or more goals/dreams that are the most important to you right now. Write them as though they are happening NOW!

For each of those goals, answer the question:
1. What is the first step I am taking to move myself closer to this goal?

Cleaning the Closet
Before starting new projects in our lives, it is important to make room for them. Consider these questions:

1. Is there anything that is depleting me that no longer serves me?
2. Is there anything I need to let go of?
3. Do I need to forgive someone in my life or myself?

You may wish to do a small ceremony to help you let go of what you have listed here.

May this upcoming year be all that you dream it to be!

Treat Yourself

Today I took a really exciting step in fitness and simultaneously crossed an item off my bucket list.  But let’s rewind a month and a half and go back to the beginning:

The move to Toronto went well.  I immediately joined the Yorkdale Fitness (just a short 10 minute walk away from our condo) and began working out each morning, coming home, throwing my laundry in, going for a long swim, coming back in to rotate the laundry, and then going for another long swim.  Did you know, swimming is amazing for your fitness?  My friend Mackenzie (who sneakily hides her Marilyn Monroe body underneath decisively baggy clothes) claims it is the main contributing factor to her abs that redevelop each summer.  Yes, daily swims is the way to go if you are doing it right.

Sadly, our pool closed midway through September and with it went my routine.  I still made it to the gym — just not daily, and not in the morning anymore.  After enjoying some free time I started searching for a Toronto job, and found a couple great opportunities.

I am going to be working for Nintendo in different stores inviting people over to try their new Wii-U system, and I have a training/group interview for S-Trip coming up which I am really excited for.  I also have an interview at David’s Tea at Yorkdale mall, so that is close and would be fun.

Over Thanksgiving, my Aunt Sue was visiting and she has lost a ton of weight due to Weightwatchers’ online program.  Now, I joined this service in the summer but found it difficult to keep track and sort of fell out of using it.  Aunt Sue gave me all the secrets of how to eat less fat easily, and how to do portions and everything.  It was a great help and inspired me to be more careful with my food consumption.  I came back up north again a few days later to buy a car with my dad, and on a trip to north bay he bought me a book he had been talking about earlier:  The Power of Habit.

This book was really inspirational.  It essentially contains the secrets of why we do what we do, and how to change habits we don’t like, because you can’t just give them up- you have to identify why you have them and replace them with healthier alternatives.  This book can be found in the business section of the book store, and I highly recommend it to every human being on this planet.

This week when I went to the gym, I was greeted by yet another front desk employee I didn’t recognize.  When I started my workout, I realized something was off.. there was no music playing.  A couple of the machines I tried just plain didn’t work, and none of the little tvs attached to equipment to keep your interest were working.  Basically I had no form of sensory input to enjoy while I worked out.  When I went back to the changeroom, it smelled to me like it hadn’t been cleaned in a while and some of the lights in the showers were burned out.  I just wasn’t happy there, wasn’t feeling the drive to go anymore, and these were adding up and making me see all the little issues I had with the facilities.  I decided to try something new.

I spent some time doing some research online for gyms in the area… now that I have a car I am not confined to the gym that is a ten minute walk away, so I had some room to go looking.  I signed up for a one-week free trial membership at the Fitness Institute.  This included a tour..  and by the end of that tour I was ready to sign up.  As a reward for signing up with them on the first day of my free trial, I got a better than normal monthly deal and my initiation fee was waived.  I also subscribed to a personal locker and laundry service.

The Fitness Institute is not just a gym..  it is a health club.  They have a great pool, hot tubs for post-workout, state of the art machines with staff on hand to help you use them properly, a chiropractor, massage therapist, private Pilates instructor, nutrition advisor, tons of group classes (including a bunch of in-pool ones!), a bi-monthly fitness consultation and postular examination to help keep me on track, and a towel service and laundry service (meaning I just have to GO and my gym clothes will be clean and ready for me)  They even have a really healthy restaurant and smoothie bar if I ever need it.  I’m very excited about it all and I’m super glad I made the switch!  In this way the car was very helpful because I would never have thought to look in a different area for something more suited to me without the appropriate transportation.  The staff is all very friendly and I could see they have really good relationships with their clients, and 2 different members came up to me and told me I had made a great decision so I know I’ll be very happy.

I treated myself today in a big way, and it wasn’t with some unhealthy snack I didn’t need in my system.  I treated myself to a new lifestyle, a good feeling, and in the coming days and weeks, some new friends.  I had a fantastic workout today and I can’t wait to spring out of bed in the morning and go again tomorrow.  Some gyms may cost more than others, but when you really think about it… it is an investment into your own health and well-being, and you want to go somewhere that will fill you with joy to be.  Somewhere that makes you feel special.  I have found that place, and now..  I need to sell my old Yorkdale membership to somebody.  Please forget you read paragraph seven and contact me if interested, there are 10 months left on it!

In other news…  go see Pitch Perfect in theatres right this second.  Its amazing and I couldn’t stop singing for the rest of the night.

Summer Solstice Feast and Adventure

A few days ago Mackenzie and I were flipping through the Sobey’s Inspired magazine and found some amazing looking recipes for butters to put on corn on the cob.  I’ve had the craving ever since and today we put it into action.  The magazine called for all these specific pastes and such but we have fresh herbs and stuff here so that is what we used instead.  This is my recipe:

Herb and Garlic Butter
– 1 stick (like a quarter pound stick) of butter (soft)
– quarter of a cup of chopped garlic
– tablespoon of lemon juice
– teaspoon of hotsauce (copied the magazine on this one..  not sure what it does.)
– lots of parsley, thyme, basil, etc…  chopped

Mush the ingredients together until it is a really nice garlic butter.  You can then butter bread with it, put it in the fridge for later, eat with potatoes, corn, anything etc.   We had it with corn.

Maple Ginger Butter
– 1 stick of butter
– quarter cup or less (to taste) of chopped ginger
– homebrewed maple syrup.  I think about a tablespoon?  Maybe more.

Mush the ingredients together same as above.  These are amazing with corn or just bread. :D

We also ate fresh sprout rolls (like thai fresh spring rolls, but made from vicki’s homegrown sprouts) with a fluffed almond and peanut sauce, pumpernickel with sweet potato hummus, spinach and strawberry salad, and the others had chicken and sausage.

After dinner Mackenzie and I went canoeing to Blueberry island.  On the way the wind pushed us too close to seagull rock and they divebombed us with bird droppings.  Once at the island we went for a refreshing swim in very deep water, and on the way back we got 5 feet close to a loon.

On arrival back near the dock, a very curious young duckling followed by his mother came up right to the boat to investigate us!  We named him Furber.  He was soooooooo cute.  If I can get some pictures off Mackenzie I will post them!!

A good day. :)

My first experience with Stand-up Paddleboarding

Stand-Up Paddleboarding is a fantastic new craze that has recently swept over the surfing, kayaking, and canoeing communities.  I say recently because I had never heard of it until last summer– in fact it is an older practice that has more recently become a sport.  The paddleboarding origins lie in Hawaii, where surfing instructors stood on their boards to keep a better eye on students.  Recently it has become the fastest-growing water surfing activity because it doesn’t rely on waves– at the Edge we don’t have waves big enough to surf on, so paddleboarding becomes a peaceful and relaxing way of gliding along our shallow flatwater lake.


I was able to get on the board right from the dock, without getting my feet wet.  I love swimming in deep water but I don’t like to touch the bottom of any lakes, even though ours is nice and sandy.  Needless to say, I was glad to board the board like any other boat-like watercraft, right off the dock.

It took me a few minutes to stand up on the board.  There are three levels of paddling– the low level works much like paddling a surfboard with your arms and legs while keeping your paddle tucked under your chest.  The second level is to kneel on the board and hold the bar of the paddle, using it just like a canoe paddle.  On the second level, I found myself accidentally dipping the handle into the water as if I were kayaking– the only trouble with bringing a kayak paddle out on the board is it would be difficult to paddle in the third level: the standing position.

    I put my hands out before me on the board and adjusted my centre of balance to work with my hands.  Before I stood up, I took a minute to tell myself “Yes, you might fall into the water.  If you fall in, that’s okay.  The water is nice.”  I slowly placed my feet where my knees used to be, in the centre of the board, and I stood up without incident.

When you stand on a paddleboard, it isn’t like standing on a surfboard.  You keep your feet together, pointed forward, in the centre of the board.  Straightening your knees is the easiest way to fall in the water, so you should keep your knees bent as much as possible.  I would like to attribute the fact I didn’t fall in the water to my ballet history, but more likely it is just easier than it looks if you are trying it on a flatwater lake.  I only spent five to ten minutes standing on the board, and my legs definitely felt the workout.  If I go stand-up paddling each day of the summer, my legs will come out looking like Lance Armstrong’s.
Standing on the paddleboard feels like standing on water.  The view of our lake was so different from the sights I was familiar with from years of living and paddling at the Edge.  I can imagine how peaceful it would be to experience yoga on the board– yoga, right on the water.  It takes a very short amount of time to become comfortable on the board, and I know the participants of the Quest for Balance II:  Yoga and Stand-up Paddleboarding retreat will love it!  I look forward to getting back out on the water tonight, and maybe even attempting some yoga on the board.
I can see myself paddling different conditions on the board.  I’ve wanted to learn surfing for a while now and it is clear that Stand-up Paddleboarding is my gateway into that sport.  If I can get comfortable enough to do ocean waves, I’ll be able to get out there and start surfing.


The Cranberries, Early Flights, and Rendez Vous!

Okay, my flight was at 9:30…  but you get the point.

Earlier this week I adventured down to the city for a wonderful, wonderful week.  On tuesday night I hopped on the Northlander train going South to Toronto.  Not-so-fun fact:  The Northlander is being abandoned by the government despite having more passengers than the entire VIA rail system.  The north is being cut off from the south by rail, which absolutely sucks.  Also, a bunch of northern tourism kiosks are being closed but that’s a separate topic.

My train was held up by a freight train that had broken down ahead of us…  we were marooned for almost three hours by the time they sent a bus to pick up all of us passengers from the perfectly working train stuck behind the evil train.  The good news:  super comfortable upper class bus with white leather seats.

Harrison picked me up in Toronto at about 10pm and we drove to Guelph, where we had some Pizza Pizza for dinner before retiring to Harrison’s new place-of-living for the two months before we move in together:  Emma’s house.  Emma’s house is amazing.  I love it.

The next day, Harrison and I met up with Mackenzie for a trip to the Old Spaghetti Factory, a Toronto restaurant I absolutely love and it was the first time for both of them.  Mackenzie and I then went to see The Cranberries live!!!

The video I took was not good enough quality to post.

Dolores O’Riordan has such an amazing stage presence.  I was in awe of everything about her except her outfit, which was too sequin-ey.  She changed into a much nicer outfit for the encore.

After the concert, I spent a delightful many days with Harrison.  On our last night we went to a barbeque with Emma and a bunch of her friends, and I proved to be quite skilled at hitting a red solo cup off of a pole with a Frisbee.  Great party game.

In the morning we woke up at 5:30..  slept in until 6, woke up again and left for the airport (stopping only for a brief McDonald’s breakfast.)  We said our goodbyes and everything worked smoothly for me in the airport.  On the plane I watched We Bought a Zoo, an episode of George Strombo interviewing Anne Rice, and the first half of Chronicle.  A shuttle bus picked me up from the airport in Edmonton and brought me to the hotel, where I picked up my key because Dad had already checked in.

I had to quickly change and pack items before catching another shuttle to the conference centre, where I set up our booth for Rendez Vous 2012.  We have this huge, huge awesome Northern Edge display for conferences..  but we didn’t bring it.  Needless to say I think we need a mini, airplane-friendly version like everyone else seems to have.

The opening reception was expertly decorated with lots of free wine and beer and food…  but none of the food was vegetarian friendly!  This I consider a serious oversight for a tourism conference with guests from all over the world.  At least the dessert was good.

Over the next couple days I became friends with Crystal, the girl from Science North in the booth next to mine; and Lauren, who felt – as did I – that we had met before somewhere else.  They joined me for Luncheon on the 2nd and 3rd lunches.

On the Monday night, we were shuttled out to this great place called Fort Edmonton Park.  It is so big and so cool that I didn’t even have time to check out the fort part!  I did, however, go to the old fashioned fairground, eat a candy apple, ride the ferris wheel, ride an old-fashioned streetcar to 1920’s street, and love everything about it.  There were places to grab free food and drink all over, so we went to this place called “the Hangar” off of 1920’s street, and I enjoyed tacos and veggie spring rolls and pesto pasta.  Eventually, everyone else from Rendez Vous was ushered into the same place, and the rest of the park shut down.  I was initially upset to miss the fort, but then the performances started:  They had japanese drummers, a hoop dancer, and some amazing European-style dancers who were most certainly trained very well in ballet first.  It was all amazing.

On the Tuesday night we had a free night / opportunity to go see Loverboy for free..  I didn’t realize who that was until later.  Instead, I met up with my cousin Jenn and her beautiful family, and they took me to explore West Edmonton Mall.  This mall is incredible.  They have a water park, rollercoasters, a hockey rink, a pirate ship floating in a really cool fake lake that reminded me of the Goonies, an aquarium, and more!  The movie theatre has a giant dragon that breathes fire.  We finished off the night by going to see the Avengers.

On Wednesday everything was wrapping up.  Crystal and I took some pictures in the Social Photo Booth, and then after the last appointments everyone went to the final event.  We were each given a free pair of red Converse, and we drank red drinks on the red carpet.  It was all very Canadian.

Here is a video that was produced about some of the events:

Let’s get ready to MINGA!

Today marks the first day of our Minga weekend at Northern Edge Algonquin.  Minga means “Community in Action” and it is basically a weekend for some of our regular guests, members of the shamanism program, and staff members to get together and do some group volunteering.  Most of the work this weekend will be getting ready for summer.

This year the staff at the Edge have had the personal mission of building community.  You can really see and feel the difference.  Things are getting done with less stress and everything is somehow more beautiful. :)

I did a Power Yoga session today but I didn’t really give it my all.  It was just me on my yoga mat in front of the tv, using an old dvd session.  I prefer live yoga sessions so my mom and I are going to start going to Wendy Martin’s yoga studio on Tuesday nights.  (Wendy is our Yoga instructor at the edge for Quest for Balance retreats!)

The minga weekend includes potluck food so today I made some really nice healthy salad dressings to go with a fresh salad.  I used my mom’s juicer for the first one– added carrots, garlic, ginger, lemon, orange, and then flax seed oil.  It’s real tasty!  The second dressing I made was a balsamic vinaigrette but I am not exaggerating when I say it is the best balsamic vinaigrette I have ever made.

Tonight I’m also making a fresh salsa for tomorrow’s Mexian-themed lunch (see my recipe in post titled Father’s Day Delights!) Emily has promised to pair it up with her classic Guacamole.

Tomorrow night (for the outdoor Roman Black Oven pizza party,) my mom and I are paring up on extra pizza toppings.  We bought artichoke hearts and we’re going to chop up some fresh pineapple.


My sister, Natalie, began her campaign today to raise money for the Orca documentary she is filming this summer!  Click This Link to check it out on Indiegogo and either donate or share.  Sharing can go a long way!


The craziest thing just happened:  My friend Natasha from the 5 Rhythms workshop I went to in Montreal a couple weeks ago is here with a group of women doing some sort of training this weekend.  Such a pleasant surprise!