Oh Canada!

Warning: photo heavy post!

I recently had the opportunity to visit our affiliate office in Calgary, Canada. I have been to eastern Canada plenty of times because we used to vacation in the wilderness of Ontario with friends. They owned an island on Temagami Lake – it was rustic and fun!

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This is in 2006, the last time I went to Temagami.

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This is my first friend Amanda, and her family had the island.

I had never before been to western Canada, so I was excited about this trip. Calgary is about an hour and a half from the Rocky Mountains so we took a day to go exploring in Banff.

At this point, let me make it clear that Matt and I have gone to the screenings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Boone for years now, some was ecstatic to learn that I was going to be able to go to Banff! My colleagues in the office that I talked to didn’t really know about the film festival, which really surprised me! Anyway, here are some shots of the Rockies. The views were absolutely spectacular!

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Then we went to visit the actual town of Banff. It is definitely a ski town but I was surprised by how commercial it was – I guess to cash in on tourists.

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Now that is a pretty cool view when you are shopping!

We stopped to eat lunch at the Bear Street Tavern, which had ridiculously good pizza. They brought out a chili pepper oil and honey to mix together as a dipping sauce – I was skeptical at first but must admit it was actually quite tasty. When I went to wash my hands in the restroom I discovered a delicious smelling local soap and knew we had to find the store!

So we went to the Rocky Mountain Soap Company where I was immediately in heaven. I have a weakness for good, pure soaps! They make all natural soaps – they even define “natural” on their website and provide complete ingredient lists.

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I managed to spend a good $40 on soaps, and now that I am home and using them, I couldn’t be more pleased. They sell online and I’m planning to make an order soon! My favorite is the lemongrass. It just smells so fresh and clean!

Weekending

Weekends don’t get any better than this one.

It started out with a fall party hosted by the best party throwers I know. There was lots of food, warm drinks, and plenty of catching up with friends. Saturday I slept in and spent a leisurely morning at the house by myself, sipping on coffee, catching up on knitting projects for clients, and watching Mansfield Park on Netflix. Those kind of mornings are recharging for me.

Matt rode in a 36 mile mountain bike race Saturday afternoon, so after my leisurely morning, I headed down the mountain to see him finish. Of course, I stopped to capture the last of the fall color on my way down.

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I got to the race in time to see Matt and his dad finish together. They rode 36 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes. I am so proud of them for riding and finishing!

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After the race we decided to venture a little farther down the mountain and visit my family to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday mom! My sister is visiting from Thailand, so we have been spending as much family time together as possible. We probably won’t see her again until April.

Oh, and I forgot the best part of my weekend: I was supposed to be leaving yesterday for Thailand for two weeks. I was going to be at a conference in a resort hotel, and as much as I was looking forward to the trip, it is much better timing wise for me to stay home. I was actually a little relieved when I got the email that the conference was cancelled due to all of the flooding. Now I feel like I have two glorious weeks of “extra time” to get ready for Thanksgiving and get caught up on some things!

Fall Hike

Yesterday was a perfect fall day – the air was crisp and the sun was shining. We decided to get in one more hike before the weekend’s expected low of 28 and wintry mix! We thoroughly enjoyed the hike up toward Rich Mountain, and I am thankful that we took advantage of the nice weather.

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Weekending – Liz’s Surprise

If you have been wondering why the posts have been a little less frequent lately, it’s because we have been contemplating some rather important personal decisions around here, and I haven’t been spending as much time online. We have reached one decision but not the other, however we both feel at peace with things right now.

Since I can’t really get into the details of those on here, let me share with you the highlights of our weekend instead.

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First of all, let me just remind you of where we live. I took this picture on the way to dinner the other night. I try really hard not to take it for granted that we live in such a beautiful area.

The real highlight of the weekend however was seeing my sister and helping her surprise my mom. My sister lives in Thailand and only gets to come home once a year, usually in April. She had a two week break from work in October and thought it would be nice to come home and surprise our mom. She bought her ticket in August and we have been keeping the surprise ever since! My dad picked her up at the airport in Charlotte, and Matt and I drove up from a wedding in Florence, South Carolina. Dad told mom that he wanted to meet her and my other sister at Olive Garden, and when they got there, Liz jumped out of the back of dad’s trunk.

Liz Surprises Mom from Ashley Wagoner on Vimeo.

Mom really had no idea.

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20111016-230837.jpgMom and all of her girls!

 

Weekending

Oh what a beautiful weekend. Days like yesterday and today only come around once every few years. The temperatures were perfect, the skies were blue, and the leaves were beautiful! My in-laws came to visit this weekend, and we spent as much time outside as possible. We drove down the parkway and hiked at Rough Ridge. Even though it was absolutely packed with people, the views were worth it.

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Since we were already halfway there, we decided to go visit the apple orchard. It was absolutely packed! They had several live bands, people we’re dancing, apples were being picked, and the apple butter was cooking!

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I’m pretty sure my my mom would be in heaven if she could get my dad to dress just like her. This couple seriously had on the exact same outfit!

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Celebrating Fall

We have been celebrating fall this week! I was in Honduras last week, sweltering in the heat, and when I got back to the mountains, fall had arrived! Temperatures have been falling during the night, but it has been getting into the high 60s every day. The sunshine has been golden and warm, and the leaves are crunching under my feet. My favorite season has arrived, and I am thrilled.

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Homemade hot cocoa, complete with real whipped cream, a splash of baileys, and a hint of nutmeg. Perfect with friends.

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I have been loving the late afternoon sun.

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Enjoying local, heirloom apples from the Orchard at Altapass.

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Apples and caramel – has there ever been a more perfect combination?!

How have you been embracing the change in seasons?

My Favorite Wedding

I must tell you that the wedding I went to this weekend was the most enjoyable wedding I have ever attended. My cousin got married on a beautiful beach and the reception was classy, delicious, and fun! It felt authentic, was completely low stress, and I knew at least 90% of the people there, which means I could actually talk to them instead of asking them how about the weather!

Let me apologize in advance for the awkward photo sizing. We recently updated the OS on my Mac but my adobe licenses have all screwed up, so I am having to use photoshop express on my iPad until I figure out the problem.

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This is the house they rented for the wedding weekend, and I must say that it was one of the most beautiful beach houses I have ever seen. It was perfect for hosting a wedding reception.

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Kelly did a fantastic job with simple and elegant decorating touches around the house.

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I want this table.

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Seriously, how perfect is this hydrangea for marking the aisle on the beach?

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My parents.

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Sorry for the wind blown look. That’s what happens at a beach wedding.

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Kathryn and I enjoyed spending time with our other cousin, Dana.

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Here comes the bride!

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I have to tell you that the food at this wedding was fantastic! My cousin is a chef, so I knew the food wouldn’t be sub-par, but it was even better than I expected. These are tomato pies with homemade pimento cheese on top. In my opinion, it was the most delicious thing they served, and I will certainly try to recreate them!

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Tuna shooters.

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Charcuterie bar.

Congratulations Jamie and Kelly! We wish you a lifetime of happiness together. Thanks for the awesome wedding celebration!

Starfish

Labor Day Weekend was supposed to be our final (and only) beach vacation of the year, but we had a wedding in Charleston on Saturday and managed to squeeze in a few more glorious hours on the beach. Now I am completely and fully ready for fall. I am even wearing my tall brown leather boots today – how is that for embracing the change in seasons?!

I have never seen a live starfish before, but we found tons of them on Saturday!

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I was pretty much enamored and spent a lot of time collecting them with my cousin’s little girl.