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!

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.

Coffee

I sure am glad we spent the long, holiday weekend at the beach. The weather was warm, dry and beautiful. We drove back to cool temperatures and lots of rain. According to Ray, parts of Watauga county have gotten more than 5 inches of rain in the past two days. So today I am wearing my rain jacket and boots, remembering the sunny and warm weekend, and embracing the change in seasons.

Now, onto the real post for today.

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Did I mention that I switched to decaf coffee earlier this summer? Let me just put it out there and tell you that I’m not pregnant. I think that’s what everyone assumes when young women make the switch to decaf, but let me assure you that I am not.

I have been a coffee drinker since my high school days when Starbucks lured me in with it’s cool atmosphere and expensive vanilla lattes. Once in college, where I regularly stayed up past 4 am and still attempted to go to my 8 am classes, I became a “several cups a day, I can’t function without my coffee” drinker. I do remember trying to give up coffee for Lent one year, but I only made it 5 days. Other than the failed Lent attempt, for about 7 years, I never went more than one day without coffee. Clearly, I was addicted.

The problem however, was that I still felt tired – all the time! I never felt fully present mentally, and I had a hard time getting up most mornings. About a year ago, my friend Mary switched to decaf, and I thought she was nuts. I mean, who voluntarily switches to unleaded coffee? As the days went by, she remarked about her increased energy levels, and I thought that maybe I would give it a try sometime.

My family went camping over Memorial Day weekend, and I had some coffee, but not as much as I would normally have drunk. As we were pulling back into town, I remarked to Matt that I thought we should switch to decaf. And I did.

It wasn’t painful like I thought it would be. I didn’t have disastrous headaches. I honestly didn’t notice a difference between the decaf and the regular. Immediately I started having more energy. I quit having the horrible afternoon slump, and instead I had a more steady energy level throughout the day. I got tired earlier at night {I am a night owl and would stay up until 2 every night if I didn’t make a conscious effort to go to sleep}. I’m still not getting up much better, but I am hopeful that will soon change!

Savoring Summer

Yesterday after work we began the 6 1/2 hour drive to the coast of NC, which somehow turned into only 5 1/2, and even that felt short.

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Maybe because I had so much knitting to do! I’ve come to love road trips, as Matt always drives, and that usually gives me plenty of free time to get into a nice rhythm of moving the needles. I actually finished a project I’ve been working on since last Thanksgiving!

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So today I plan to sit, read, enjoy the sand and the waves, and savor the last bit of summer. I realized that Labor Day never meant much to me as a kid, but now I am craving the long weekend as a transition to fall. I am going to soak up ever last bit of summer sun, and then I am going to whole-heartedly embrace fall.

Recharging

It feels like it has been a whirlwind of a week. We went on a little vacation to Denver, CO for a long weekend, and although we had a blast, we are both recharging. We have a completely packed September, complete with lots of travel, so we are trying to rest up whenever possible. I feel like I have been fighting off a cold for several days now, so yesterday after work I took it pretty easy. I had lots of hot tea and laid on the sofa alternating between knitting and napping. The good news is that I’m almost finished with a lace scarf I’ve been knitting since Thanksgiving. The bad news is that I didn’t get the tomatoes made into sauce and I didn’t get the peppers frozen. Oh well, I’m hoping that paying attention to my body’s need to rest will pay off.

Until I get the 1,213 photos from our trip sorted, let me share this one with you.

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Just looking at this photo reenergizes me and makes me feel calm and peaceful.

I ❤ Saul

I discovered the most lovely restaurant in Guatemala City called Saul Cafe. It sort of reminded me Parisian sidewalk cafe meets New York City bistro meets Japanese anime, and the food was unbelievably delicious! The restaurant is nestled in the opening of Oakland Mall and has a very open and airy feel.

For dinner I had french bread with avocado, organic tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese, topped with sauteed onions, basil and balsamic vinegar. It was unbelievable. I am convinced – it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese is the perfect combination.

My favorite part of the meal was probably the cafe latte and the nutelle crepe with strawberries. Unfortunately I don’t have a good picture of the crepe, but let me assure you that it was delicious.

If you are ever in Guatemala City, you must try out Cafe Saul!