Monday, October 26, 2015

Race Recap: Rock n' Rock Vancouver Half Marathon & 10k Remix Challenge

This weekend was a first for me...A double whammy of races served up on one weekend! 10km Saturday morning followed by the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on the Sunday. And it was awesome :-)

It's been a while since I've done a Rock 'n' Rock race (2011 Vegas to be precise). I was looking forward to it. Not least for the fabulous bling that had already been previewed on social media ahead of the race. I'm not usually one to run for bling but the medals sure were purdy!! And when running both races you also qualified for the Remix medal - so 3 for the price of 2!!

Unfortunately I was missing my #1 cheerleader this weekend so I headed off on the 4.5 hour drive to Vancouver on my lonesome. Thankfully the weather was good and still no sign of snow on the mountain passes yet. The 2 races both start at opposite sides of the downtown area and then finish in yet another location in Stanley Park - 3 points on a triangle to figure out. But I found an ideally placed Airbnb place which worked perfectly for my accommodation.

My plan for the weekend was to race the 10km (And my big goal was a sub-50 minute) and then take the Half kinda easy going with no time goal.

It was an easy start come Saturday morning since the 10km race didn't start till 9:30am from English Bay. I headed off from my apartment for a 3/4 mile warm up easy run to the start line and then stood in line for 20 minutes for the porta potties before jumping into a corral at the last minute. I was in corral 2 so we got going pretty quickly. The course follows the seawall the entire way around Stanley Park which makes for a fabulously flat course! I was going well for the first 3 miles - probably a little too fast but I was really trying to push it out. Just before the 4 mile marker we turned into the park for a few hundred metres to do a short 'out and back' (I guess to make up the total distance) - and the little inland detour was a savage little hill. It was about here the wheels started coming off. I guess I had pushed too hard those first 3 miles at paces that were a little too ambitious. The hill didn't help and I took a short walk break. Once we turned I got going again but some of the wind was gone from my sails. Mile 4 ended up my slowest mile and way off my pace. I picked it up a bit for the last 2 miles but never enough to get back on track. I was entertained by Elvis singing in the last 1/2 mile and was happy to turn past the sailing club and see the arch of the finish line in Devonian Park. I crossed the finish line around 51:20, which is actually a new PR so I shouldn't be too disappointed at all! Happy to receive the first of my beautiful medals and a Stanley Park Brewing Pale Ale. With the official time as it is looking at the results post race I've got to be pretty pleased to finish in the top 6% of all female runners. And of all those old birds like me aged between 40-44 (there were 316 of us - wow! I finished 15th!)

I met up with a fellow Team Tough Chik friend Tina for lunch and then spent the afternoon strolling around Vancouver. It was a bad choice for self care. I clocked around 5 miles of walking, ate poorly, didn't rehydrate enough and by the end of the evening was vegging out in my apartment binge watching Homeland on Netflix with a headache from hell. It wasn't a good feeling knowing I had a half marathon to do the next morning!

The Half got going at 8:15am this time from the Convention Centre side of town. It was a easy stroll down the hill for me, chatting to Chris briefly on his way to work. I wasn't feeling pepped up at all - I had a dull headache still, hadn't slept well and experiencing a bit of numbness/aching in my foot when walking. It was just as well I didn't have a goal for this race other than to finish! The start line was much busier (and yet the potty line ups were much quicker!).I stayed bundled up in my throw away hoodie to the side of my corral until the last minute. I was in corral 4 so watched the first 2 waves head off. They counted down for Corral 3 and the crowd surged forward with me in it - There were corral 4 people all around me but yet we didn't seem to stop and before I knew it I was across the start line and on my way! It was the most understated and unexpected start of a race, and given my nonchalance and mental state it was actually probably the best thing for me. As soon as I get going I settle in and get comfortable. Unsurprisingly the headache and foot pain were soon distant memories and I started enjoying myself. Almost immediately we headed through Gastown, it's a great little area of the city with brick streets, old buildings and lots of character - a very picturesque area to run through and reminded me it was more than just the running! A mile in we passed a large gaggle of hobos outside a shelter and it was the perfect place to ditch my throw-away hoodie (I hope someone is keeping warm in Chris's too-small-for-him Icebreaker merino wool top!). The course headed out along the railway tracks and industrial port area before looping around, passing through Chinatown, BC Place and Rogers Arena and then onto the Edgewater along False Creek to Stanley Park. Instead of running the seawall like the 10k the course took us into the depths of the park along it's many greenways and roadways surrounded by towering green trees and lush forest. The last couple of miles were along the roadside right next to the seawall path we'd run the day before, with the final 1/4 mile putting us onto the path by the sail club and through the same finishers archway. I'd had a solid comfortable race and was happy to finish in 1:55hr. Another fabulous medal, another fabulous beer and my first successful double-run weekend!

I stayed a little while at the finishers area. Yukon Blonde were headlining the post race party and the sun had come out. The beer went down sweetly but I was also eager to get going for my long drive home. It's definitely not quite as fun doing these race weekends solo. I walked the mile back to the apartment all the while looking out for the bus that never came (but then it probably was an ideal shake-down for my legs anyway!), jangling my medals as I went!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Race Recap: Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon

Oh my, what a race!!

The SeaWheeze was my 10th Half Marathon and I have so many reasons to love it!

Lululemon sure knows how to put on a good race. The entry fee price tag is quite a bit more than your average half marathon and in previous years I was unsure that it could be 'worth it'. This years race went on sale 11 months ago and I was lucky to get in - it sells out in minutes! So, what DOES your $128 get you? and why I'm utterly convinced it WAS worth every penny!

First up you get a pair of special edition Lululemon shorts, designed with an exclusive print. I gotta say, and this is probably my only thumbs down for the 2015 race - I didn't love the print. We all received these in the Spring giving us plenty of time to train with them before the race.

The race is a Saturday morning so the expo and package pick-up was all day Friday. It started early with the Showcase Store opening at 7am at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Social media has criticized the frenzy of the store setup in past years - it's open to the public and many Lulu' fans go in, buy up everything and then sell on Ebay. This year the first 2 hours were reserved for runners only - a great solution (sadly not one which helped me when I was driving in from out of town 5 hours away). Still....we arrived around 4pm and I made straight for the store. It was in a HUGE room, and there were racks all organised by clothing size. At 4pm there were only a couple of racks for each size, and much of the same items, it was also pretty un-crowded, organized and the room itself quite roomy. I can only imagine what it must be like earlier in the day. I still managed to find items I loved and couldn't resist indulging in several exclusive SeaWheeze items - their classic Cool Racerback, and a Scuba Hoodie both in exclusive prints! (You got glimpses of what else had been on sale by doing a bit of people watching over the course of the weekend! - there are other items I liked the look of for sure but very happy with what I scored! - and probably safer for my wallet that I had more limited choices!)

Once shopped we headed through package pick-up then headed outside of the convention centre for the rest of the Expo. It was great! There were free barbershop cuts for the guys, hairdos and nails for the ladies, spray-on SeaWheeze temp tattoos, Saje naturals spritzing you with soothing essential oils, Samples from Vega Sports drinks, Rise Kombucha, Kind bars, Frozen Yoghurt, and free candy floss!! It was a fun, well-put together expo which was great to stroll around (And who doesn't love free stuff!) Later that evening there was sunset yoga which judging by the photos looked fabulous (I however decided to get serious with the pre-race prep and headed out on the town for a curry - uh, yes. true story.)

Race start was 7am Saturday morning. It was a cold one in Vancouver. Around 15 degrees, distinctly grey and cloudy and wet on the ground (though we more or less escaped actual rain during the race). We were staying in North Vancouver and after a brief flapping session by moi the night before about what time the buses started running we opted to just drive ourselves in. It was the weekend so parkade prices were on special pricing and we parked all day for $7 - more than worth it in my books (and actually cheaper than the bus as it happens!). The parkade was underneath the Marriott Hotel and was probably 300 yards from the start line! It was also ideal that I was able to use the hotel wash-rooms (which were clean and no lines!) right up till the last minute instead of porta-potties. Score!

I crammed myself into a corral near the start line. I vaguely recall seeing the 1:45 and 1:50 pace beavers (beavers not bunnies at the SeaWheeze!) but it was the first entrance to the corrals I'd seen when we came out of the hotel I didn't think anything more of it. They set us off in waves with a good 5 minutes between - as it was I was in the second wave!

I started out at a pretty swift pace - but surprisingly I didn't actually feel like I was dying like you normally do in the first mile of a run. Like, not at all. Strange. I rolled with it and just kept the pace up. In the first mile we passed a spinning class set up on one of the overpass bridges pumping out music and cheering us on - I felt in GREAT spirits and got stuck into really enjoying this race - high-fiving everyone I could! The first mile went by in around 8 minutes!, the second mile was even faster.**

The course was gorgeous! The first 2 miles looping through the city and then just after the 2 mile marker we ran for nearly 2 miles along False Creek - you can't beat water views on your run (and of course marvellously flat!), we headed across the Burrard Bridge (where Lulu HQ is and one of their 3 huge cheering squad stations were based - more high-fives for me!), an out and back section in Kitsilano, back across the Burrard Bridge (where there was a bit of drag of an incline getting up and over the bridge - not much to look at when you drive but it's most definitely there when you're running!), and then we got back to the water again - and from mile 7 onwards we pretty much followed the water for the rest of the way! Gorgeous right?! Past Sunset Beach, English Bay and then into Stanley Park to run all the way around the Seawall. More cheering squads, Mermaids sat out on the rocks, SUPers cheering, DJ's playing music, people dressed up in costumes - and I really did just soak it all in. I enjoyed everything about the atmosphere and there was great crowd support and 'stuff' to look at along the way.

I was still doing really well with my pace. And I felt good. At times of course I wanted to slow down or take a break (I've developed a bit of a habit of stopping on runs, that's what comes from having a dog as a training partner - they stop to pee and sniff a lot!) but if I was honest with myself I didn't NEED to so I just kept chugging forward as fast as I could. It hurt. Not in a pain way but in a 'giving it all I've got kind of way. Which really is the point of a race I suppose. The last couple of miles were Tough. I REALLY wanted to stop but I knew this was going to be my day. I tried calling Chris at the final mile (who didn't pick up!) to let him know I'd be finishing earlier than I'd expected to! My pace was awesome. I wasn't super sure if I was going to break the 1:50 mark but it was certainly going to be close. As we came into the final straight stretch to the line the 1:50 pace beaver was next to me shouting at his wards as he propelled them forward to the line. Cheering them on, telling them the line was in sight and to run faster, faster!! I felt like I had nothing left and I desperately wanted to walk. The line eventually came into view for me and I managed to hold out and crossed the line with him! My Garmin said 1:49:36. WooHoo!

I found Chris straight away and caught my breath as I chatted to him over the railings. Then I made my way through the finishers chute, picking up my medal (a big heavy golden carrot!), a mini pouch of Saje essential oils, a Seawheeze baseball hat, then water, wet flannels and a kind bar for some instant recovery. Once away from the mayhem of the finish line I made my way over to collect my finishers brunch consisting of fresh fruit, yogurt, waffle, savoury quiche and juice.

An awesome finishers brunch, a great finishers hat and the Tesla pace car!

We hung out for a while at the finish. My efforts had really wiped me out! Just goes to show I really did give it everything I had (and that I obviously don't when training coz I don't feel that 'spent' usually).
Curiosity Lager and crazy weird dancer people at the Sunset Festival

After a nap and shower we were back out in Vancouver for the evening. I got a much deserved Caesar and food in Gastown before we hopped on the bus to take us to Stanley Park for the Sunset Festival. (part of my entry fee and just $25 a ticket for Chris). We were too late for the Yoga portion of the event but we settled down on the grass for the music. 3 bands over the course of the evening, a craft bazaar area, and open bar - which I loved. So often you can only have alcohol in small fenced off ugly confined areas but after checking ID you were given a wrist band and could buy from the multiple bars and sit anyway in the festival grounds and drink! I'm not usually a lager drinker but I was in the mood to have the special edition SeaWheeze Curiosity Lager brewed by Stanley Park Brewery, we grabbed some food and whiled away the evening as the sun set across the water lighting up the skyline of Vancouver. Pure magic bliss and the perfect end to my perfect day. (and Hell Yeah to me and my rockin' new PR - yeah baby - chip time was 1:49:29!!) I finished in the top 6% of women and top 10% overall which feels awesome!

Check out the awesome race video (I break out in goose-bumps just watching it again!);

**Lets just talk goals  for a moment....early this season I'd set this race as my GOAL race for the year - My PR was 1:51:26 and I wanted to break the 1:50 mark - 1:49:59 would be just fine with me! That meant I needed to run a mile in 8 mins and 23 seconds - and do that 13 times in a row!! - However my training times had not suggested I was anywhere near that pace and I'd started thinking my goal time was a little lofty (after all my PR was 2 years ago, and since then I hadn't even gone under 2 hours! This summer I did follow a 'get faster' training plan (The 'Train like a Mother Own It' plan) so there was lots of speed work which I've never disciplined myself to do. But often the plan would call for holding race pace for a longer distance or time than I could manage. So as the weeks progressed I had considered that just getting back under the 2 hour mark should be a little more realistic and that aiming for paces more in the region of 8:45 (which would get me a finish of 1:55) instead of 8:23.

Friday, July 31, 2015

New Canadians!

On July 2nd we swore allegiance to our Queen and Country and were sworn in as Canadians! The Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna was full of a gaggle of people from many different nationalities all eager, excited and a little emotional about this day!

We had an incredible support crew in the audience - co-workers and friends. As we were lining up to file into the auditorium beforehand someone in line commented to us about our huge entourage - it was so awesome to be surrounded by 'our people'; Anima, Michele, Sheryl, Pete, Shelly, Chase & Jaxsyn, Rick, Alex, baby Nira, Pete, Julia & baby Natelie, Tony, Liz, Dustin, Les & Nicole (which I'm realizing now how crap I am not to have photos of everyone)
After a little preamble by the master of ceremony, our local MP - Ron Cannon and a rep from the City of Kelowna we got down to business. All en masse reading the oath, singing Oh Canada (Chris and I had been practising the words for days!!) and then lining up to receive our certificates it was done!

Following the ceremony we headed across the road to the newly opened Cactus Club at the Kelowna Yacht Club - overlooking the lake, with views and atmosphere that reminded us just why we picked the stunning Okanagan to call home!

We were blessed with so much love (and so many fabulous Canada-themed gifts! - thank you all) and even our own Citizenship cake (I had won a Facebook contest the day before to win a Canada cake from Colossol Cakes which conveniently was just 1/2 block up our street!- talk about perfect timing!)

Monday, July 27, 2015

RV Renovation - The Bathroom edition

The bathroom was probably the biggest disaster we were dealing with and since the toilet was out and then replaced it was here we started with the renos. We decided to paint all our cabinets and this was where we started!

Here's the obligatory 'Before' shot of the old toilet, sink and cabinets;

All the cabinet and closet doors came off. Surfaces were thoroughly cleaned with a strong solution of TSP and then very lightly sanded, and then cleaned off again. The doors were part real wood (the framework around the outsides), and part dodgy wood-effect laminate type stuff (the centre of the doors). The cabinet bases were all the laminate. I say laminate - I think it's some sort of particle board that's been covered with a wood effect kind of paper. All I do know that when it's in contact with water over extended periods of time the board expands and the paper cover 'bursts' so we have a few lumps and bumps around from the water leakage issues we've had.

We bought Behr One-Coat latex paint in semi-gloss for the cabinets (Whisper White). The nice man at Home Depot convinced me I wouldn't need a primer with this paint. I was skeptical. And I had good reason. The cabinet base took 3-4 coats of paint (that was the fake wood stuff). It was tedious work I'm not gonna lie. All those nooks and crannies where you needed to use a paint brush. The top coat was done with a small foam roller which evened out the brush strokes and left a nice smooth finish to all the flat fronted areas. Same with the doors - we used a brush to get into the corners and edges of the doors and then the fronts were finished off with top coats using the roller. (The real wood edges generally needed less paint - just 3 coats).

Cabinet doors everywhere! We probably could've saved ourselves a bunch of time doing them in a more assembly line style but space was limited!

I originally wanted all new hardware for the doors but I started realizing just how much work and money that was going to be. I opted for (near) instant gratification of spray painting. All the hinges, screws and door handles were soaked in the TSP solution, sanded if necessary and thoroughly dried. Some had a little rust on them but nothing too bad. I used the Rustoleum Satin Black spray paint and gave everything a couple of coats - if you look closely they aren't perfect but I'm not planning on spending a lot of time getting up close and personal with my closet door hinges...

Making progress - one coat paint was definitely not 1 coat!! More like 4 but we got there in the end!

When the doors were off we realised we were liking the look of a couple of them without doors. Since we're not planning on driving around in Harvey all that much these days we figured that we'd leave them that way. In the bathroom we had a tiny shallow cupboard next to the sink which is now just open shelving and has given us the added bonus of having a usable counter top which we can put things on (Since before it had to be left clear to be able to open/close the cupboard door). We also liked the open shelving look under the sink. I considered hanging a little curtain there (all twee and cottage like) but in the end decided that some basket storage would look great. (if/when we're ever driving Harvey we'll figure out a plan for storing those items but 98% of the time he's parked up for months at a time so it's just not of concern to us right now.)

I was trying to find some baskets that worked for our space but it wasn't that easy. We had some pipework in the way on the top shelf so the baskets acted more as a cover-up than a functional storage box. In the end I decided to make some boxes myself that would custom fit in the space and around some pipework

We painted over the exisiting wallpaper. It was a smooth paper in great condition so after a quick wipe over with the TSP solution we painted with an Eggshell finish paint in a greige colour (Behr's 'Creme de la Creme'). It went on sooooooo nicely - we barely needed a second coat and it was a real pleasure job after all the cabinets!

The final update to the bathroom was the addition of some tiling around the sink area. Adding some tiling really jazzed things up and changed the look dramatically! I used the peel and stick Stick-it Tiles'. I'm delighted with the look but not totally convinced on the application. I think they may have 'slipped' slightly since I put them on and the top edges are peeling back a little. They do suggest using glue which seems to defeat the idea of self adhesive tiles but I will try next.

All that's left is the flooring - which will hopefully happen sometime this fall (once we've installed a new roof and hopefully stopped any water leakage issues!!).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Harvey gets a makeover...Our RV Renovation project!

So back in the day we used to travel around North America in Harvey. It was the travelling around for nearly 5 years that led us to Canada. When we eventually settled and bought our home in the Okanagan Harvey the RV took some much needed down time and sat out to pasture for a few years in a friend's field. Amazingly nearly 6 years have passed since that happened! And our poor old friend is showing the signs of neglect and his age (Harvey is a 1996 National Dolphin 36ft Motorhome).

After friends borrowed him last year for the summer he did make a small comeback and really importantly reminded us that there's life in the old boy yet! We had in mind that this summer we'd book him into a local campsite (just a couple of miles from home) and we'd spent a healthy amount of time chilling out down at the lake...

Because this is our view from the door!

(best spot in the campsite right on the beach!)

Except things never really go quite as planned do they?!! Once on site we discovered that he hadn't been winterized properly and just about every bit of plumbing was leaking. Then that list of problems just started getting added to...I could give you a giant pity party list of everything that was wrong but honestly I'll just bore myself and start sobbing (again). We'd been told about a leaking toilet prior to getting Harvey back from the friends who'd borrowed him - unfortunately the fix they'd done involved a small glass bowl catching the drips and not a not else! But whilst fixing that issue we discovered a much larger issue - since the toilet hadn't been drained for the winter the water sat in the pipework had frozen and split the pipes. We didn't realize this till we turned on the water and the next day discovered a slow leak had seaped its way all across the bathroom carpet. It was this sodden carpet that was the catalyst in getting stuck in renovation mode.

(Note: Since Harvey is 20 years old we'd had various renovation projects on our radar for a few years, but had originally envisioned doing it at a slow and relaxed pace - nothing was urgent, just some gentle upgrades along the way whilst still enjoying spending time using him!)

So the carpet and underlay were ripped up and the floor cleaned and sanitized. We removed the toilet to try and fix it but new parts were going to cost so much that in the end we opted to treat ourselves to a brand new toilet - with the added bonus of replacing the dodgy cream version for a nice clean fresh white model. So.much.better. All the faucets were replaced and the leaks stopped - finally we were back in action with water - hurrah! (apart from the small issue of a split hot water - yes that too hadn't been drained so we were left with this...

Yikes!! We've been able to isolate the hot water tank so for now we're just carrying on with no hot water - still figuring out a way to NOT spend $700 on a new tank)

I'm not sure at what point I ended up down the path of complete renovation but I think Pinterest must take much of the responsibility! Honestly I got carried away with pretty pictures, beautiful decor and clever hacks and tips to DIY reno' your RV or trailer!

So stayed tuned.....this really is our ultimate story of 'What Happened Next' (it's come full circle from the start of my blog writing days, of travelling for 5 years in an RV, life after travelling and now back with our same faithful friend getting his very own chapter of the story of 'what happened next!' - read the background story of my blog name here)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whitehorse Adventure

Our Valentine weekend getaway took us to a 'new-to-us' Canadian Territory - the Yukon! It was a fun little winter wonderland getaway. Of course we had in mind that travelling so far 'up north' in winter might give us a glimpse of the Northern yet elusive to us both (after travelling in search of them a few years back to Iceland without success)...this was it - round 2 in the Aurora battle....*

Whitehorse is a pretty small town of around 37,000. It's the main city in the Yukon with over 75% of the population living there! Whilst it started off it's life caught up in the craziness of the Klondike Gold Rush, it's settled into it's current role as a main stop-off on the Alaska Highway. The highway was built in 1942-43 by the US Army after the Pearl Harbour attacks. It was handed over to the Canadians following the war and now it a major tourist route between northern BC and Alaska where thousands travel each year. Obviously not many of them travel the road in winter....and so Whitehorse is quite a sleepy little place in the off-season! But that's not to say we didn't have plenty to fill our time on our 3.5 day break!

Downtown Whitehorse - the museum and main street

We used Airbnb to book our accommodation. (and if you use this link to sign up for Airbnb you'll get a $30 credit on your first stay!) We spent our first 2 nights in the city and the second 2 nights at an incredible Mongolian Yurt about 1/2 hour out of town overlooking a frozen Cowley Lake. The Yurt wasn't just our bed for the night but ended up being a really memorable part of our trip! We arrived after dark and had a brief 1/4km walk through the trees and along a ridge line to get to the yurt on a well trodden snowy path. It was a clear night so we got a hint of what the view would bring us come morning - it was so exciting! Our host had the wood burning stove roaring away and the yurt was amazingly cozy and we immediately felt right at home. Come morning we stepped out onto the little deck perched right on the edge of a high ridge to a stunning view of the snowy mountains in the distance and an expansive view out over a frozen Cowley Lake.

Views from our cozy Yurt! Overlooking a frozen Cowley Lake where we snowshoed on our final morning!
We spent some time exploring Whitehorse itself - the city is quite compact and easy to walk around...we got lucky with the weather and had quite mild temperatures during our stay. We found some awesome little shops to explore - the Aroma Borealis was a lovely shop full of scents, potions and crystals - we brought home one of their unique essential oil blends. The Collective Good was another favourite - it was a beautifully curated design store of unusual and modern home decor, clothing, accessories and gift items with a great selection of local items but full of many others from all around the world - we'd been looking for some coat hooks for our mud room for the longest time and I was happy to find something a little different here! And we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get our 'outdoor store' fix! - we both could spend forever in a great outdoor & sports clothing and equipment store - Coast Mountain Sports was Whitehorse's answer to REI and MEC! Obviously it's a great outdoor adventure area and they have a fabulous store to service it! And of course we couldn't pass up the local brew - Yukon Brewing, where you can sample all their beers on tap!

It may be small but Whitehorse serves up some top-notch eats! We loved pastries at Baked Cafe, Brunch at Burnt Toast, hot chocolate and snacks at Bean North. We dined at Antoinette's on our first night - a friendly and busy spot serving incredible Jamaican food with some wicked flavour and flare. We took our time over dinner, enjoying the house created cocktails and even managed to save room for dessert - squeezing in as much of the awesome food as possible! We picnicked in the yurt on our second night and on our final night hit up the Dirty Northern bar. We'd heard great things about their pizza and it didn't disappoint.

We lounged in the thermal waters at Takhini Hot Springs, visited the small but awesome MacBride Museum - I loved exploring the exhibits on 'ye old life' and socio-economic growth of the town - lots of stuff on the gold rush and rural outpost type life!  We took a 2 hour drive south to pop into Skagway, Alaska (where it was a totally different climate and not a snowflake in sight!). The drive south was stunning and we had gorgeous weather for it - blue skies and the crisp white snowy mountains as far as the eye could see, stopping at Carcross briefly en route!

Views around Carcross on our day trip to Alaska!

Our final morning before our flight home we squeezed in a snowshoe hike across Cowley Lake - the snow was crazy deep so it was a healthy workout! Just as well as our journey home ended up being rather long and frustrating. Having flown via Vancouver all the way back to Kelowna, we were on finals with the wheels down before deciding the fog was too bad and they routed us back to Vancouver with a night in a hotel! Oh well, bonus day on vacation!! And a great vacation it was too!

*And whilst we caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights it was a little faint and shimmery pale blues - not the wild dancing greens you see in photos, and so for now I'm not quite 'satisfied' enough to check it off my bucket list and the aurora battle continues!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Guest Wifi Print download

This is perfect for our guest room, one of those added little touches to help our guests feel at home and settled in quickly. It's been particularly ideal for our Airbnb guests!

I'd seen a few variations of this idea online but decided to create my own. And I'm happy to share!

You can download a PDF file - in either gray or cream (with the network details left blank so you can either write in or print your details) or a PSD file which is fully editable in Photoshop - if you use this version you can get fancy and add your own background papers!

Enjoy! and please share and leave me some love in the comments if you like!

Linking to Marvellous in my Monday! #MIMM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NYE 2015 Murder Mystery Luau Party!

We spent our New Year's eve at a Hawaiian Luau. Sadly it was not in Hawaii but it was a ton of fun and we got in the hula girl mood!! (including Meli! - she had more fun that this photos suggest honest!)

We hosted a Murder Mystery party! I purchased the game online from who have dozens and dozens of game options depending on the size of your group, your male/female ratio and even the age of the attendees (some games were specifically suited to kids or teens). Eventually I decided on the Hawaiian Luau theme - I wanted our guests to dress up, but didn't want the costumes to be too involved given the busy holiday season - and everyone has beach wear! (Even if it's buried away in the bottom drawer right now!)

Once you buy the game you get instant access to download your party pack and invitations. Despite the rather hefty 60 page document it wasn't too difficult to coordinate. As host I read through the first dozen pages or so to understand my role and suggested process of the party. The remaining pages were ready to print clue cards, games, 'investigation sheets' and recipes. Once printed I needed to cut up and seal into envelopes all the clue cards (We had 3 rounds of our game and 10 players). I also needed to print some miscellaneous bits and pieces like 'evidence records' and victim props.

The instructions were clear and for each round you were given a handy check-list of everything you needed, right down to suggestions on when you should be serving your food (it was suggested you based the evening around a 3 course meal). Much as I tried to absorb all the information I needed beforehand I did find myself retreating off to a quiet place a couple of times to review and 'prep' for the next round!

I had some fun with the decorations - I turned our lamp into a palm tree, we had grass 'fringe' all the way round the table and kitchen counters and we got some awesome giant tiki decorations for the wall and a beach scene that fitted our windows perfectly. We strung up some mini lights, had a tiki hut door fringe and decked our snowman on the porch out in his own grass skirt and leii! Salads were served in colourful buckets with spades as serving spoons. Honestly my creative side had a blast converting our kitchen and dining area a little Hawaiian paradise!! I got some perfect decorations and supplies from Party City and our local dollar store. (The 8ft Hanging palm tree was the priciest investment but it was totally awesome in our hallway - it's tempting to leave it up all year!!)

As host I had no idea who the victim was, nor who the murderer was. Again the instructions are clear as to how to ensure you remain in the dark and have just as much fun as the rest of the guests! I had to 'hide' away some props for the victim to use but until they got up to leave the room I had no idea! In the end our victim was Chris!! When he left the room his instructions had told him to go to the bathroom and find props that I'd left under the bathroom sink - there was white face paint (to make himself up to look 'ghost-like!', the weapon used to kill him (in this case a bloodied coconut!) and a funny 'victim' sign to wear! From that moment on he was still part of the game but couldn't talk - only gestures and hand signals allowed!! (think Charades!) - it was funny!
Our unfortunate victim...played by Chris!

We cranked the heating up to 27-28 for the night so the place was hot! Just as well as we had Deanie & Liz in bikinis & Grass Skirts, Dustin as our resident life guard, a couple of beach bimbos, Amos as the useless waiter and a couple of total beach nerds - fisherman Jack and Sol the donut man....

It was a lot of fun - great to have a bit of focus and structure to the evening rather than just drinking and chatting, though obviously there was plenty of that too! We'd arranged a little cocktail menu, and had plenty of snacks and appies - we barely made it to the main course of BBQ & Pulled Pork sliders! It was chaotic (made even more so in our case since we had a couple of characters pull out at the last minute so we had to improvise and had 2 guests play 2 roles each (with a mini wardrobe change to represent which character they were playing - it wasn't ideal but it worked - sort of!!)

Characters would receive their clue cards on which they were provided info on themselves to keep secret and information they were specifically instructed to share with certain characters. There were also questions you needed to ask others, and information you were instructed to find out. By any means....we added in the optional 'money challenge - where everyone started off with 4 loonies and they could use them to bribe or pay for information! Each round provided the character with more information to share, conceal or acquire!

Let me just say that cocktails and Round 3 get messy! It was tricky to keep the momentum going towards the end but we just about managed it - we were all too jolly to be bothered by then! We finished off the game in style with our murderer revealed and instructed to produce a rap song of his dastardly deed! And shortly after we rung in 2015! Happy New Year y'all!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Best of 2014

A little late in pulling these together but here are some of my favourite moments of 2014 in pictures;

Happy New Year to you all!

(here's my best of 2013 post)
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