Turo Vancouver & the Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

Turo Vancouver is soon to be the city’s latest and greatest in car sharing.

There is perhaps no kind of vacation more synonymous with summertime than the classic road trip. Turo Vancouver is on its way into the city’s car sharing scene, and they want to help you find roads undiscovered and new trails begging to be blazed.

Turo Vancouver

Each year my husband and I eagerly anticipate the adventures that the summer months bring us. Last year we had the fortune of embarking on a six-week road trip across Western Canada and the Western United States. In that time, we traversed two provinces and 11 states. One thing we did not leave home without was an epic road trip playlist loaded onto our iPod.

Never underestimate the importance of a solid playlist when hitting the road for hours on end. The right songs can make or break the trip, dictate the mood of your passengers, and either feed or rob you of the energy you need to push through to the next destination.

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Whether we’re off for more than a month, or making a quick weekend trip to the Oregon Coast, I’m always very careful to curate our trip tunes. There are three key factors that absolutely must be incorporated into every playlist:

  1. Something for Everyone: Not everyone will agree on the same styles of music – or even the same tempos – so be sure to add a few crowd-pleasers into the mix.
  2. Consider your Route: Are you driving through miles of countryside of endless city streets? Your choice of songs will set the tone and enhance the ambiance.
  3. Don’t Be Embarrassed: Road trips are the perfect excuse the blast the songs you’d normally only sing along to at karaoke night.

That said, without further adieu and in no particular order, I present to you my 20 top picks for the ultimate road trip playlist.

  1. Daughter” – Pearl Jam
  2. Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” – John Mayer
  3. Every Breaking Wave” – U2
  4. Higher Love” – Steve Winwood
  5. Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac
  6. Flake” – Jack Johnson
  7. Soul Rebel (Aphrodisiac Sound System Remix)” – Bob Marley
  8. With Arms Outstretched” – Rilo Kiley
  9. Jimmy James” – Beastie Boys
  10. Home Sweet Home” – Motley Crüe
  11. Warrant” – Foster the People
  12. White Walls” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  13. Right Place, Wrong Time” – Dr. John
  14. Bright Side of the Road” – Van Morrison
  15. If You Want Blood (You Got It)” – AC/DC
  16. Lisztomania” – Phoenix
  17. The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” – Cyndi Lauper
  18. Title and Registration” – Death Cab for Cutie
  19. Sugar” – Maroon 5
  20. Midnight Rider” – The Allman Brothers Band

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If you jumped in our truck and hit the play button, I can guarantee you’d hear a road trip-worthy soundtrack. But just because you can’t borrow our truck doesn’t mean you can’t borrow someone else’s! Enter Turo Vancouver to solve that problem.

Turo lets your list your car for rent or rent someone else’s car for an hour, a day, a week, or longer. And soon this smart, convenient, and affordable service will hit Vancouver’s streets! Visit Turo’s rental page to book a car, or learn more about how the system works.

Get social with Turo online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Disclaimer: Keira-Anne.com is not associated in any manner (either personally or professionally) with Turo, generally, or with Turo Vancouver, specifically, and is not responsible for users’ experiences with the service and/or company.

Back to Nature Photography

While recently visiting Alberta, I discovered Back to Nature Photography while staying with the photographers.

Stan and Keltie Masters became wildlife and landscape photographers in recent years, founding Back to Nature Photography out of their mutual passion for sharing and preserving Canada’s delicate wildlife. Canvases of their strikingly emotive photographs grace the walls of their bed & breakfast and retreat, Back to Nature Retreat, showcasing the value the Masters place on the environment.

Through their art, they essentially give back to nature by donating a portion of their proceeds to various wildlife conservation charities in Alberta and the Water Valley region. They also proudly support BearSmart, an organization dedicated to teaching humans how to co-exist harmoniously and safely with bears.

Back to Nature Photography – Wildlife Photos

Being as passionate about animals as I am, their work moved me deeply. Stan and Keltie were gracious enough to allow me to share some of their photographs with you, simply because I hope you’ll be as spellbound by them as I am.

Back to Nature Photography

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Back to Nature Photography

Back to Nature Photography

All photos (c) of Back to Nature Photography. They were shared and published with direct permission.

Back to Nature Photography can be found on their official website, and Stan and Keltie also feature their photography on their Back to Nature Photo account on Instagram. Learn more about Back to Nature Retreat on their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

20 Questions with Krista Ewert

The 20 Questions series seeks to remember what made writing and reading blogs so great by highlighting intriguing bloggers with interesting stories to tell. Don’t miss my past profiles of these bloggers.

 

20 Questions with Krista Ewert

Krista Ewert and I go back – way back. She and I first met in the early 2000s, long before either of us were ever bloggers. We worked together at Camp Qwanoes and ran in similar social circles for years afterward. Krista’s life has taken her from BC to Alberta. Recently transplanted from Vancouver, Krista and her husband – along with their three beautiful children and loyal dog – call Edmonton home. Krista’s passions extend far beyond blogging: she’s a proud mother, daughter, wife, sister, photographer, designer, writer, influencer, speaker, and overall enthusiast about life.

1. What are you really excited about these days?

Rain. It seems simple enough but, not only does this BC girl miss the rain living here in Alberta, we desperately need it.

2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?

My garden gnome named Fudwick. He sits in my front yard and greets me every time I come home. He quite enjoyed the rain today so I took a picture… yes, I talk to my gnome.

Krista Ewert

3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?

Criticism is never easy to swallow. When faced with differing opinions, I take what is valid and focus my engagement on that. That being said, I have certain no fly-zone topics such as voicing my political bias when it comes to allegiance to a particular party or policy. Some people might say that this is cowardly but I do not want it to detract from my message. I decided very early that I am not out to divide, but inspire.

4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?

Authenticity. People know if you are being fake – even online.

5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?

My animal spirit is an owl. I am constantly searching beyond the seen to what is unseen. I value truth and wisdom and yet, am consumed by wanderlust.

6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?

I don’t think I can say any of them. In high school I was the charismatic leader – I didn’t have the best grades, definitely wasn’t the princess, rebel or jock, and I was on the periphery of all the right circles. In my grad vine I was voted “Most Likely to be Elected World Leader.”

7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?

Does it have to make any money? Because I would probably want a coffee/book shop – a place where people can come and experience community with an atmosphere that emulates a comfortable living room with a river stone fireplace, dark roast, and jazz music.

8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?

“Raspberry.” Just kidding! Truth be told, I was already a total nerd by the ’90s. I loved jazz music and specifically Vince Guaraldi. That being said, I enjoy a good road trip and inevitably the mix tape would include Great Big Sea, Dave Matthews, and “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai.

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9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?

I see myself saying, “blogging was so last decade!” I know blogging is moving to video and yet, I am resisting it like crazy. I write for a reason – it’s how I best communicate. Writing allows me time to let things percolate and I can always go back and censor my thoughts. That being said, I think I will still be writing. In what capacity? This remains yet to be determined.

10. If we could curl up for some girl talk on a rainy day, what are we drinking?

Oh can we?! I’ll have a glass of red please – Chianti or Bordeaux.

11. What’s your guilty pleasure food when you need your greasy food fix?

Chinese food. My husband doesn’t really like it but I love it. I can’t explain it, nor can I help myself.

12. In Edmonton, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?

I don’t know yet – but when I find it, I’ll let you know.

13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?

There are so many to choose from. I am an INTJ according to Meyers Briggs. They call it “The Mastermind,” but I call it “The Bitch.” I’m not really, but I come across that way. I carry an air of confidence, which many people perceive as snobbiness.

14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?

Growing up, one of my favourite movies was Fried Green Tomatoes for reasons I won’t get into here, but if I had to choose a character to star as, it would be Idgie Threadgoode. She was strong and free-spirited and she didn’t buy into social norms or stereotypes.

15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?

I have this dream that one day I will have my own private pottery studio. A small, one-room garden shed converted to accommodate a pottery wheel with French doors that open into a lush garden.

16. Who are you most proud of?

Just one person? There are so many to choose from for so many different reasons. There is my husband, who is doing his doctorate in choral conducting of all things. He never dreamed he would get into one of the best universities in the world for his Masters degree but he did and we were able to live one glorious year in Cambridge, England.

Then there is my daughter, Ella, who, despite having Down Syndrome, is this smart, vivacious, and charismatic little girl. On a daily basis, people expect her not to succeed and everyday she proves them wrong. She is reading like a champ, has awesome friends, and loves school.

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17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?

My husband. He is my constant and my always. We have been married for almost 13 years and have been together for 15. He is the one who knows my weaknesses and insecurities and yet is one of my biggest fans and cheerleaders. He will tell me if I am wrong, admit when I am right, and I respect his opinion and his intuition.

18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?

Nelson Mendela, Margaret Atwood, and Jesus.

19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?

I wish they would ask me over for coffee, or dinner, or just a glass of wine.

20. Do you want to come over for coffee, or dinner, or just a glass of wine?

Yes! Somehow we have lost our sense of community. There is a disconnect within society and we no longer see connection as important, let alone a priority or perhaps we do long for connection but we are all too fearful of rejection because, after all, everyone is just so busy. Where is the village?

[Editor’s Note: Don’t you want to have a glass of wine with this gal too?!]

Meet Krista:
Blog: One Beautiful Life
Twitter: @KristaDawne
Instagram: @KristaDawne
Facebook: /OneBeautifulLifeBlog
Pinterest: Krista Dawne

All photos courtesy of Krista Ewert.

One Day In Seattle

With only one day in Seattle, here’s how I wisely spent my time.

Seattle, Vancouver’s nearest neighbour, has long been a staycation destination for those of us seeking a city with a different flavour. A weekend – or even a day – in Seattle is a common occurrence for Vancouverites. Being that it’s a quick hop over the U.S./Canadian border, escaping to the Emerald City provides a unique dose of culture that is decidedly and exclusively Seattle-esque.

One Day In Seattle

Spawning both grunge rock and Microsoft, Seattle is renowned for more than simply its inviting coffee houses. It’s also the heart of the Pacific Northwest, a city steeped in history. I recently had eight hours to spend in Seattle, and made sure to plan my time smartly.

After a quick latte at Cherry Street Coffee House, I ventured underground with Beneath the Streets. Presenting the quirky and the creepy, this tour outfit explores the saga of Seattle’s past, starting with when European settlers first arrived in the area.

One Day In Seattle

Centuries ago, Seattle was comprised of incredibly steep cliffs giving way to tidal flats. These flats are underneath the neighbourhood of Pioneer Square, arguably the birthplace of modern Seattle. The city was initially built on these tidal flats, an unstable start to a shaky colonization. Much like Vancouver, Seattle experienced its own devastating a fire in the late 1800s, an inferno that decimated the entire city in just 12 hours.

While the city was motivated to quickly rebuild, City Hall knew it needed to stabilize the tidal flats first. Because this process would take nearly 10 years of hauling earth down from the cliffs, merchants built an entire storey below the current street level, moving their storefronts up a storey once the land stabilization and backfill was completed. This left an intricate honeycomb of sidewalks, passageways, and former businesses preserved below the city’s surface.

One Day In Seattle

Once the city rebuilt, these tunnels were used for everything from illegal bootlegging to speakeasy joints. My tour guide expertly navigated us through the tunnels while narrating the stories that are vital to the city as it’s known today. Though largely dormant for decades – and even condemned for a while due to bubonic plague – the tunnels are now a vital part of Seattle’s history.

Following the tour, I walked up to Westlake Center and hopped on the Seattle Monorail for my first-ever ride. A quick slide on the rails from there to Seattle Center, the monorail connects visitors to the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the EMP Museum. Being the lovechild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his dedication to contemporary pop culture, this museum was something I’d been dying to see for years!

One Day In Seattle

As a child of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I grew up with the Seattle grunge sound and have been a huge fan of Nirvana for as long as I can remember. The EMP Museum houses the largest collection of Nirvana memorabilia in the entire world in their exhibit titled Nirvana Taking Punk to the Masses. Like so many others, I was devastated by the loss of Kurt Cobain. The void he left behind in the music world is still palpable, so I personally found it very touching to commemorate his impact through this exhibit.

One Day In Seattle

Old demo tapes, a four-track recorder, sweaters, handwritten notes, and some of Kurt’s favourite instruments are on display. The “Seattle Sound” of the grunge era had a profound effect on music, and this exhibit poignantly reflects that.

I also popped into Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film while there. I’m a huge horror movie buff, so I didn’t want to pass up on the chance to see Jack Torrance’s axe from The Shining or Shaun’s shirt and tie from Shaun of the Dead. Curated by Eli Roth, Roger Corman, and John Landis, it showcases some of the most notable horror movies throughout history and the artifacts they’re known for.

Next door I found the science fiction exhibits, exuding a “woah – that’s cool!” factor with displays from some of my favourite childhood movies: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Ghostbusters, and Back to the Future. Did I mention that Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Star Wars: Episode IV is also housed there?

One Day In Seattle

With my day winding down, I didn’t want to miss out on a quick visit to Pike Place Market. This iconic expanse on Seattle’s waterfront is a beehive of activity. Local fisherman hocking their catch, unique eateries with global-centric fare, and treasures like purple sugar, freshly-grown flowers, and locally-roasted coffee beans make this spot a can’t-miss.

Hungry from my busy day of adventure, I settled in for a late solo lunch at The Pike Brewing Company. A family-run establishment, PBC has been creating craft beer that Seattle residents are proud to call their own since 1989. I opted for a locally-sourced burger and pint of seasonal ale before making my way to the bus depot.

One Day In Seattle

A city by the sea, not without its charm and an endless list of activities to do and places to see, Seattle can be conquered in a day or explored in a week or more. If given the opportunity, it’s definitely a place worth taking your time, and every visit I make leaves me wanting more.

Wellness Wednesday: How To Manage Stress

Because it’s something that affects all of us, learning how to manage stress is crucial to our well-being.

Stress affects each of us in different ways and the sources of stress as just as varied. For me, work and juggling responsibilities tend to be key areas that aggravate me. For some it’s relationships, school, family, or even a daily task like driving in rush hour traffic.

Manage Stress
Photo: Victor Hanacek

The worst part? Stress causes us to feel more than just lousy. Repeated exposure to stress can have a long-term detrimental impact on our physical health. In fact, some studies have estimated that up to as much as 90% of all doctors’ visits are due to a stress-related health concern! [source]

I’ll be honest. I’m not what you’d call a “poster child” of successfully and regularly managing stress. I’m writing this post just before 10:00 pm – and well past my normal bedtime. It’s been a long day following a long week and my idea of unwinding this evening included downing a bag a salt and vinegar chips while watching Forensic Files on YouTube. However, I’ve got a few tried-and-true means of stress relief that work for me when life’s kicking my butt. Here are my top eight ways to manage stress.

1. Stretch It Out

Yoga has always, always, always been my go-to form of exercise because not only does it feel good physically, it has the ability to clear my mind completely. Dropping in on a yoga class is a quick and easy option, but when I don’t have the time to leave the house, I’ll click play on one of the awesome Yoga With Adriene videos available online.

2. Essential Oils*

If you know me, you know I love my essential oils and I don’t leave home without them.
Lavender helps me rest when I’m having trouble sleeping (another side effect of stress), but my absolute favourite oil is arborvitae. It’s a gorgeous cedar-derived oil that reminds me of carefree days as a child, walking through the forest with my grandfather. Instant grounding.

3. Nutrient Support

A huge part of feeling good is fuelling properly. When I’m eating a lot of vegetables, drinking green juice, and getting a balanced diet, that’s reflected in my overall feeling. For those moments when I need a boost, a couple drops of Rescue Remedy on my tongue does the trick.

4. Canine Cuddles

Countless studies have proven the positive impact of the human-animal bond, but I don’t need to read any of them. When I walk through my front door and am greeted with a smiling face and wagging tail, it’s impossible not to melt. Not everyone can have a Jordy, but fostering or volunteering at an animal shelter an also provide a mutual beneficial relationship for you and the animal(s) you’re helping.

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This dog is seriously zen-inducing.

5. Walk It Off

When I moved to Vancouver in 2004 I sold my car and became an official pedestrian. I’m now used to walking everywhere for function, but it’s also a fantastic way to burn steam or decompress at the start or end of a day. Even grabbing a 15-minute stroll on my lunch break can set me up for a much more productive afternoon.

6. Write It Down

I’ve written about the benefits of journalling in a previous post, and I stand by my word. Writing out my thoughts – especially if they’re causing stress – can help me to better and more clearly understand things and find new perspectives on old problems. I also find journalling to be an encouraging way to keep track of how I progress and work through things.

7. Hug It Out

It’s hard to not forget past moments when my husband gives me a good squeeze at the end of the day, but it doesn’t have to be a spouse. Whether it’s a friend, a pet, or a close colleague, find a hug buddy. In fact, I can point you to 10 reasons why you need your fair share of hugs each day.

8. Get Yo’self Some Nature

This might just be my favourite stress-busting method. Escaping the city and hugging a tree might not always be a convenient option, but sometimes the effort is necessary. Fresh air, the feel of dirt and roots under my feet, and the idea that some things always remain the same can ultimately be very freeing.

Tree Hugging Hippie

Your turn: what do you turn to when life’s stressing you out? How do you restore a sense of wellness, manage stress, and find peace of mind when you need it most? Let me know in the comments below.

*If you want to know more about the brand of essential oils I trust and personally use, contact me to learn more, order them, or find out where to buy them.

20 Questions with Danielle Ciavarro

    On the cusp of the 21st century, blogging officially became a “thing,” and with it spawned millions of people around the world sharing their lives online. When I started blogging in 2005, I was introduced and exposed to bloggers from all around the world, each with his or her own story to tell. I’ve met some of my closest friends through it, and remember fondly blogs that were just fun to read. Reading a blog was a visceral experience, and was something that ignited and inspired me. The 20 Questions series seeks to remember what made blog writing and blog reading so great by highlighting intriguing bloggers with interesting stories to tell.

20 Questions with Danielle Ciavarro

Danielle Rossi was one of those original Vancouver-based bloggers, having started hers in 2005. I met Danielle soon after through mutual friends and have been a reader throughout the years. She has since married the love of her life, Chad, and became Danielle Ciavarro while building her Smelly Danielly brand. Let me be clear that her blog is anything but “smelly.” Over the years, Danielle’s blog has been her vehicle for sharing her stories, adventures, photos, motherhood musings, and a way to connect with others. Danielle is a fiercely-dedicated Italian housewife, doting mother, traveller, cancer ass-kicker, wine enthusiast, admirer of fashion and design, and – of course – blogger.

1. What are you really excited about these days?

There are less than 50 day left in my pregnancy! Haha. While this pregnancy has in no way been difficult, I’m ready for it to be over and to get my body back! I look forward to having a snuggly baby in my arms and not having to pee every five minutes.

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2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?

I planted all my pots this past weekend so the last picture I took on my phone is of the finished job. I love this time of year and am addicted to buying all sort of plants to go on my deck. Our neighbours recently cut down some trees so now we get more sun in the afternoon which has opened up a whole new world of plants for me!

3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?

Well, let’s just say the stubborn Italian in me wants to fight anyone who has anything slightly critical to say about me. Haha! Of course, I hate confrontations, so I would never actually follow through, but the thought is there. I definitely get my back up and get very defensive when it comes to any feedback I deem “negative.” After my initial “fight” reaction, however, I do try to take a step back and look at the criticism constructively, but I will admit that sometimes it’s hard.

4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?

For me, personally – since my blog is a personal blog – my posts have to be about my life or about something that interests me. I have tried to do sponsored posts for products that I’ve been offered, but unless it’s a product I already love or something new that is right up my alley, I really struggle to write about it. It ends up not being fun and feels more like work, which is just too much pressure. If the post doesn’t come about naturally, there is no point in writing it. That’s also why there are times when I might post frequently throughout a week or not at all for a month. It just depends on how I feel and what I want to say. Nothing is forced.

5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?

Humm… is there an animal that likes to be super lazy but also super productive!? I often joke that it would be a sloth, because there is nothing I love more than spending a ridiculous amount of time laying down doing nothing, but there is also a part of me that can accomplish a great many things in a short amount of time. Maybe I am my own spirit animal!?

6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?

This one is tough, because I don’t feel like any of those fit. I was definitely not a princess and I’m way too scared of authority to be a rebel. I was good at school but in no way a brainiac. I was co-chair of our Grad class so I wasn’t an outcast and sports were never my thing so I was not a jock. I’m not sure where that leaves me!

7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?

I think I would take a serious run at finally starting and developing the crafting business I have been thinking about for years. I know there are so many adorable things you can find on Etsy and such, but I’d still like to take a run at it. I have a real passion for all things crafty and I think I have a definite talent, so it’s something I would love to pursue.

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8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?

There are so many of them! It’s hard to pick. I think I would have to say “The Freshman” by The Verve Pipe though I am currently very into “Inside Out” by Eve 6. I really love emo songs from the ‘90s, haha!

9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?

That is a very good question. I have felt like quitting many times, but like Michael Corleone once said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” If I’m still around, I will probably be doing the same old thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?

Oooo definitely a Brazilian from Cactus Club Cafe. Those things are addictive!

11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve made you half a dozen of those drinks. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?

The tried and true McDonald’s Cheeseburger.

12. In Coquitlam, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?

There is an adorable little Italian place called The Golden Boot. All the locals love it and it’s a great place to treat someone for lunch.

13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?

Interesting. I’m not really sure to be honest. I try to be very open and honest about my life. I don’t think my blogging paints a false picture of who I am so I’m not really sure what other people might think. Perhaps they think I am more of a social butterfly than I truly am?

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14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?

Well I guess I would reprise the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice so I could have Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy be my love interest. *swoon*

15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?

I’d love to learn more about embroidery. I can cross stitch all the things but don’t have much experience at all with embroidery. They are similar in some ways but completely different in others so I would love for someone who is really skilled to teach me all they know.

16. Who are you most proud of?

I am most proud of Chad and all the work he puts in to support our family. He is constantly improving himself through education and work opportunities to further himself in his career so that he can provide for us. He is fortunate to have a lot of great resources at his fingertips and he takes advantage of them. The other day he figured out how many accreditations he could technically add to the end of his name and the list was ridiculously long.

I’m also really proud of how he has come into his own as a father. For someone with little-to-no experience with kids, and with the rough start Matteo had, it definitely took him some time to feel comfortable in his role. But as Matteo continues to grow and interact I can see just how great Chad is going to be as a father and role model. Plus he sneaks Matteo spoonfuls of Nutella so he is sure to be the favourite!

17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?

Each phase of my life has been accompanied by an influential person. I can think of a specific period of my life and remember exactly who it was that I influenced by at the time. It’s a very fluid, constantly changing thing for me. The most constant person, of course, would be Chad. He challenges me and inspires me and definitely influences me (I eat peanut butter for breakfast now, need I say more?).

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18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?

Ah, well the introvert in me is going to need Chad to be there for “security blanket” reasons. Plus, he is very social and I love watching him interact with new people. Then I would have to say Al Pacino and James Gandolfini so we could chat about all things Italian and mafia.

19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?

“Do you want to be featured on an HGTV show where the rest of your home renovations will be paid for in exchange for filming the mass chaos that ensues?”

20. Do you want to be featured on an HGTV show where the rest of your home renovations will be paid for in exchange for filming the mass chaos that ensues?

Where do I sign?

Meet Danielle:
Blog: Smelly Danielly
Twitter: @SmellyDanielly
Instagram: @SmellyDanielly
Facebook: /Smelly Danielly
Flickr: Smelly Danielly

All photos courtesy of Danielle Ciavarro.

Dining at Ten Foot Henry

Ten Foot Henry is Calgary’s newest dining destination, located in the heart of the Beltline Neighbourhood.

In a city renowned for its Alberta beef and hearty meals, Ten Foot Henry is bringing a fresh perspective to the city’s already-vibrant culinary scene. The vegetable-saturated dishes are wholly satisfying, so much so that you won’t be missing the moo. Think of Ten Foot Henry’s menu as a marriage between what you want to eat and what you should be eating.

Ten Foot Henry

Ask nearly any Calgarian and they’ll tell you who Ten Foot Henry is. Me? I had no idea. What started as a comic strip in the 1930s soon became a 10-foot high plywood cutout of the character, commissioned by a Calgary resident. Over the years, the cutout became an installation at various nightlife venues across the city, and was recently acquired by Ten Foot Henry’s owners, Stephen Smee and Aja Lapointe.

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The eatery is an homage to Ten Foot Henry and his earned place in Calgary’s pop culture history. In fact, the restaurant is located in what was Henry’s first home. The space was extensively renovated in advance of their early 2016 opening. Rough-hewn benches, polished wooden tables, gleaming counters, soft lights, and an abundance of greenery work together to create a space that is perfect for both a quaint brunch or late-night cocktails.

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When Rebecca and I were recently in Calgary, we stopped by for lunch with a friend of ours to see what the buzz was all about. We were greeted by Aja, who carefully selected a number of menu items for us to try. I’d heard all about their salted potatoes in advance, but was eager to dig into some of their heartier dishes.

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We started with prosciutto-capped melon and a side of ahi tuna sliced thin and beautifully garnished. Next up was a Caesar salad with a twist – tossed with kale, topped with a fried egg, and all dressed up in a cashew-based dressing.

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Our main course included chicken skewers squeezed with lime, whipped feta with heirloom tomatoes and freshly-baked sourdough bread, followed by creamy and smooth potatoes topped with more fried egg and crispy root vegetable chips.

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I’m glad we took our time savouring every bite while leaving room for dessert. The delectable dessert selection was nearly impossible to choose from but we finally settled on butterscotch pudding topped with toffee crunch and an unbelievably smooth slice of chocolate-avocado cake. The three of us needed to restrain ourselves from licking out the bowls.

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What I appreciated most about our dining experience is that the menu is designed for sharing. Rebecca, Rose, and I were easily able to nibble off the plates that slid across our table, each bite drastically different from the one before it. Aja was thoughtful in her selections for us and genuinely ensured we had a memorable experience.

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Ten Foot Henry is open every day from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm. You can visit Ten Foot Henry and make a dining reservation online, or connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Disclaimer: Our meal was generously provided courtesy of Travel Alberta and Ten Foot Henry. I was not paid or expected to write this post. All photos and opinions are entirely my own.

Cruising from Vancouver to Seattle

Sailing with Princess Cruises from Vancouver to Seattle

It’s no secret that Seattle and Vancouver are major hubs for the North American cruising industry – including Princess Cruises’ ships. Cruise season is officially underway and each year, both cities welcome throngs of tourists from all over the world, seeking adventure on the high seas of the Pacific Ocean.

As Vancouverites, a weekend away in Seattle is quite common. What’s not common for us is travelling to the Emerald City on a cruise ship. I recently had the opportunity to board Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess on what’s known as a repositioning cruise. A repositioning cruise is a voyage that’s typically between one-and-three nights and is required because the cruise ship has docked in one city but will disembark on its next trip from another city.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

My favourite vacations are the spontaneous kind where no plan is in place. However, I’ve quickly learned that there’s definitely a time and a place for a luxurious cruise in which nothing is overlooked, each detail meticulously taken care of.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

I boarded the ship at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. After clearing security and customs, I was free to spend my afternoon exploring the ship, dining at the buffet, or reading my book by the pool.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

We disembarked at about 4:00 pm and set sail on a picture-perfect Vancouver day under blue skies. The vessel was met with cheers as it cleared the Lions’ Gate Bridge. Live music and cold beverages added to the festive atmosphere.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

I’d never before experienced anything all-inclusive, so I have to admit that my appetite was a bit overwhelmed by the endless options. During the 16 hours I was on the ship, I’d visited the buffet, the dessert buffet, the ice cream bar, the pizza bar, and one of the more elegant options for dinner.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle
Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

Most of my time was spent exploring the ship, snapping photos of the gorgeous sunset, and relaxing – which is ultimately what cruising is all about! Waking up the next morning to find our ship docked in Seattle was a bit surreal. While aboard, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually en route to somewhere.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

I met a lot of people on the boat who love to cruise, some even on their 23rd cruise. If there’s any reason people like those I met keep coming back, I’d have to guess it’s the service. All of the Princess Cruises employees went above and beyond to ensure an incredible time, truly living up to their staff goal of being the consummate host.

Cruise from Vancouver to Seattle

Disclaimer: The cost of my cruise was complimentary. I was not paid or expected to write this post. All views, opinions, and photos are my own.

20 Questions with Rebecca Bollwitt

    On the cusp of the 21st century, blogging officially became a “thing,” and with it spawned millions of people around the world sharing their lives online. When I started blogging in 2005, I was introduced and exposed to bloggers from all around the world, each with his or her own story to tell. I’ve met some of my closest friends through it, and remember fondly blogs that were just fun to read. Reading a blog was a visceral experience, and was something that ignited and inspired me. The 20 Questions series seeks to remember what made blog writing and blog reading so great by highlighting intriguing bloggers with interesting stories to tell.

20 Questions with Rebecca Bollwitt

Before there was WordPress there was Blogger. Before there was Blogger there was Angelfire. And before there was Angelfire, Rebecca Bollwitt of Miss604.com fame was already blogging. Born and raised in British Columbia’s largest city, Surrey, Rebecca has ignited hometown pride in her wide readership across Greater Vancouver. She’s married to a sweet and charming man from Iowa that she fell in love with over a decade ago, and she’s been a close friend of mine for 10 years. Rebecca is a speaker, author, Vancouver Whitecaps fan, sister, aunt, daughter, kitty-lover, world traveler, indie-music lover, and she always knows where to find the best noodles in Vancouver’s West End.

1. What are you really excited about these days?

Planning vacation time with my husband, John. I get to travel a lot for work so it’s extra special when he gets to come with me. That, and we’re road-tripping to his hometown in Iowa to visit his family, who are all so wonderful. Next stop: Anytown, USA!

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2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?

Sunset colours peeping through the roof at BC Place during the Vancouver Whitecaps FC match versus Kansas City earlier this week.

3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?

It depends who it is from. I used to turn into an ugly-cry mess all the time until John made me ask myself: “Do I know this person? Do I really care what they are saying?” Most of the time the answer is “no,” and so I keep on keepin’ on.

4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?

Credit photographers. I know it’s funny that my answer has nothing to do with writing really, but photos are such an integral part of a blog and if you are using someone else’s, it’s 100% bad form not to credit them. It’s downright stealing.

My rules for the way I live my blogging life are simple otherwise: Find my voice. Write what I want to write. Deliver what I want people to read. Hope they enjoy it and come back for me. Wash, rinse, repeat.

5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?

At one time I thought I was a monkey, because I used to get all jacked up on PC Cola and spend so many sleepless nights on the computer when I was a teen – I thought I was super hyper. Turns out I’m a rather mellow person who hasn’t touched pop since I was 18 and it’s all for the best.

So, I’d have to say a cat. My sister makes fun of the fact that I admitted that my best friend was our family’s cat when I was growing up. The cat really did see me through tough times though (although she was mysteriously absent during the PC Cola episodes). I like routine but I like exploring, I take risks but I like a comfortable environment in which I can rest, and I know I just might love napping on the floor on my apartment in a ray of sunshine that creeps through the window when I’m all done my work in the afternoon.

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6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?

I was the brainiac that was also the captain of four sports teams who went to punk rock shows on the weekends. I think I was everything but the princess.

7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?

A craft brewery in small town Iowa, where we’d grow our own hops, use local barley, have a tasting room, and a warehouse kitty to ward off any field mice that would want to eat our grains.

8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?

Less Than Jake’s “History of a Boring Town” and a-ha’s “Take on Me.”

9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?

Coming out of covering the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Vancouver 2010 Olympics were such a tipping point for my site – even though it was already six years old at the time – that I’d love to have another Olympic experience with John in a place where he’s always wanted to take me.

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Interviewing celebrities is par for the course in Rebecca’s world. In 2008 I tagged along as she interviewed Hanson at the Commdore Ballroom.

10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?

Old Fashioned. Always. Nothing fancy. Don’t give me any fruit other than orange. Don’t give me any liquor other than bourbon. Don’t give me bitters other than Angostura. Please and thank you.

11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve made you half a dozen of those drinks. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?

Nowhere in Vancouver is open at 2:00am is it? Ah. Lucy’s Eastside Diner is 24-hours, so I’d hop over there or raid the local 7-Eleven for popcorn.

12. In Vancouver, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?

I think people have heard of almost everything in Vancouver, with over 200 food bloggers covering the local scene at one point, but the Robson Market is a hidden gem. There’s been a lot of turnover lately but upstairs there’s a lunch counter that serves up some of the best ramen in the city. It even beats some of the places down the street where there are lineups out the door at any time of day.

13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?

That I’m super busy all the time. It’s not all the time; it’s just about half the year. I GSD (Get Shit Done) at full throttle but I also book, plan, and plot my free/play time with the same vigour. Work hard, play hard. That and I do have those ugly cry moments now and then. I’m a real, squishy, human being that does hit a breaking point sometimes.

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14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?

Tai Frasier (originally played by Brittany Murphy) in Clueless.

15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?

I’d love to learn how to sing. I love doing it (poorly) anyway – ask anyone else in the Southsiders supporter section at a Vancouver Whitecaps FC match…

16. What are you most proud of?

My sister, for raising four thoughtful, happy, beautiful, and intelligent kids on her own while also excelling in her career. Sometimes I think of all the stuff I need to do in a day, then I think about piling on top the added responsibility of ensuring four other little lives are taken care of, and I can’t even fathom how she manages to even put pants on every day — but rest assured she does, and they’re usually fabulous.

17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?

My dad. He instilled in me the value of learning about the place where you live, appreciating history and cheesy humour, and he kept me afloat during my teen years when I could have easily been set adrift.

18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?

People who were around at the time Vancouver was becoming a city: E. Pauline Johnson, Major J.S. Matthews, Chief Joe Capilano. (And I’d sneak in John Bollwitt because I wouldn’t want him to miss out.)

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19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?

Do you want this house on a private island in the Salish Sea that I’d like to give you, no strings attached?

20. Do you want this house on a private island in the Salish Sea that I’d like to give you, no strings attached?

Yes, but what should I do with the craft brewery in Iowa?

Meet Rebecca:
Blog: Miss604.com
Twitter: @miss604
Instagram: @miss604
Facebook: /miss604

All photos provided by Rebecca Bollwitt. Portraits by Nordica Photography.

Wellness Wednesday: Write It All Down

Journalling is an important tool for overall health and mental wellness.

I’ve kept a journal – in some form or another – for as long as I can remember. While the content has changed drastically over the years, the impact of putting pen to paper remains the same.

My very first diary was covered in bubble hearts and had a flimsy lock on it. My second diary also had a lock but the hearts were replaced with Johnny Depp in character as Tom Hanson on 21 Jumpstreet. Though my crush on Johnny has long since faded, the need I have to journal has not.

Penning my thoughts and experiences is very little about recording events and more about exploring how they resonate in my life. At times I like to write about achievements, goals, and exciting milestones I reach. Most of the time, however, the motivation lies in deepening my understanding of myself and my own story.

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Photo: Victor Hanacek [Source]

Keeping a journal can be equal parts fascinating and cringe-worthy. I often look back on entries I wrote years earlier, long before the evolution of my emotional intelligence to its current state, and find it hard to believe the things I felt at certain moments. Hindsight is always 20/20 and magnified more deeply when read from a book.

The fear of re-examining our thoughts shouldn’t stop us from journaling. If anything, it should encourage us! There are some pretty incredible (and surprising!) benefits of keeping a journal. My own entries in recent months have been focused on healing.

Expressive writing is a route to healing — emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal has seen improved immune function in participants of writing exercises. Stress often comes from emotional blockages, and overthinking hypotheticals. He explains, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.” And in doing so, you free yourself from mentally being tangled in traumas. Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.

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Since I began working through past hurts with a counsellor last year, I’ve made what I feel is pretty significant progress. Not every appointment with her is triumphant; at times it feels like a wasted effort. Most appointments support me in growing, and other times I have what’s known as a “breakthrough.” However, it’s not uncommon for me to go from my counsellor’s office to home and then immerse myself in making dinner, preparing lunch, putting on laundry, and spending time with my family. Before I know it, I’ve forgotten 90% of what she and I discussed in that hour.

If I set aside a bit of time after a session to reflect on what we discussed and what I learned, and then solidify it by writing it down, I’m doing myself a huge service. The process reaffirms my beliefs and understanding while allowing me to recall fact (rather than the fiction that anxiety likes to weigh me down with).

Taking just a few moments every few days to “flex our brains” is just as effective as exercise on our bodies. Is journaling a healthy habit you’ve developed? How do you feel it benefits your life? Let me know in the comments below!

    May 2 – 8, 2016 is Mental Health Week in Canada. Learn more by visiting the CMHA’s website.