Sunday, October 2, 2011

Let There Be Oats! (round 2) This time, with oats

So in my ongoing search for a healthy breakfast muffin I've moved onto my second recipe. Although due to a lack of muffin tins (still packed away at my Mom's house) I decided to look for something that would work better baked in a pan. I naturally found a recipe for an oatmeal bar that was made to be baked into a 9x9 square pan (lo and behold my 9x9 pyrex is also packed away at my mothers). Once again I ended up using a circular cake pan (I really need to get my baking life in order, this is getting ridiculous!)

Alright, so to the recipe! I found this one on Kath Eats Real Food blog and from what I've seen I will be on there more often! She has an entire section for a 'tribute to oatmeal' (woman after my own heart).

Basically it is oats, walnuts, dried fruit (of your preference), seeds (of your preference) and cinammon. I added raisins, dates (my fave), as well as some from a mixed bag, it had things like cherries, blueberries, and cranberries. As for the seeds I threw in some flax, sunflower, and pumpkin. I also threw some coconut in but I would definitely add more next time cause I can't really taste it.

Mixin' the dry ingredients
Ready to go in the oven  
Ready to eat

I'm a pretty big fan of these. They are very hearty and natural, not a lot of added anything. I did add some brown sugar as there isn't really any sweetness in these except the dried fruit. I think if I made them again I would cut up some apples and add extra cinnamon only because if you don't have any dried fruit in your bite it is pretty tasteless. Also because I absolutely love oatmeal with apples and cinnamon. Now rest assured if you do have fruit in your bite it is very very tasty.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Damn that's domestic

Finally(!) I got my sewing machine fixed (at the small cost of $100 - ouch!) which means that I finally(!) got to finish the sewing project that I started weeks ago. So as you might remember I said that I went thrifting with my friend Mary I bought a dress (for just $3), a dress that needed some serious alterations. So that is just what I did, I shortened the dress and sleeves, removed the collar and made the neckline different. To be fair, the dress is quite a few sizes too big for me, which you can still tell in the top part.

Well I don't really know if I'll wear it a lot - I mean I do think it is quite cute now but I don't really know how I feel about it altogether. That said, I had fun altering it because if there was no real pattern so it was all about what I wanted to do and no real way to do it (that) wrong.

What do you think?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oh the English language

So back in say March I was sending my brothers some packages from the Netherlands back to Canada, mostly the packages included delicious stroopwafels. That is, however, beside the point.

I had to find a store that I could buy packing materials and pay for postage, etc to send the aforementioned  packages.

So I found a TNT shop, went in, picked out two large envelopes and proceeded to ask the attendant if I should pay for the package then pay for the shipping or if I could address the envelopes, pack them, and then pay for shipping altogether.

At this point the sale lady looked at me and said "We don't ship them, they will go by air"

I paused, thinking for a moment, nodded and rephrased my question.

Oh English, you are a silly thing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dream a dream...

Oh Amsterdam!

Let there be oats!

I'm not much of a breakfast person, my stomach has never been able to handle great deals of food early in the morning. So you'll never find me flipping eggs or frying bacon in the morning, well unless it is the weekend and I've sat around for a long lazy morning. I find those are brunch foods, but thats mostly because the thought of eating them first thing in the morning make me queasy. 

That said, I still need to eat something in the morning (at least something in my stomach to calm all the coffee I drink). The problem is, I like to eat either on the way to of when I first get to work. This can be tough and means that I have to think ahead of time what I'll be taking, and it needs to transport well and be easy to eat. Although I do enjoy a bowl of cereal with banana in it, it doesn't really work all that great in a car.

For this reason I am attempting to find a great muffin recipe. Now when I say great I mean it needs to simultaneously be healthy for me, filling enough to get me through to lunch, and delicious. Now I have no aversion to health food so I'm not afraid to bake with whole grains, oat, add nuts, raisins, dates, ground flax, wheat germ, and other hearty things. The only issue with these things is, when done wrong, they end up being dry, dense, and generally not that enjoyable. 

For round 1 I found a 'breakfast muffin' recipe online that I thought sounded good that included many of the above mentioned ingredients. I quickly discovered, however, that my muffin pans are still at my mother's house from my last move, or maybe the second last move, who really knows? 

So I decided to try and make it in a pie plate and just cut it up into bits. I'll say that the product is better looking that it is tasting and I am embarrassed to say I forgot to put in the egg and I think I had too little yogurt (it called for yogurt and orange juice as opposed to other liquids). So the muffin loaf tastes alright it is very dry and very dense. Even with the egg and some extra liquid I don't think I'll be trying this one again.

Do you have any great healthy/hearty breakfast muffin/loaf recipes? Willing to share? 

I'll keep you posted on the other recipes I try :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I'm tentatively on bloglovin because newsfire (the rss feed I was using before) now wants to charge me. Not really sure how I feel about it, but follow my blog with Bloglovin :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knitting Lately

Well friends I've been crazy busy, but I've tried to make time to knit this cute infinity scarf. It was beyond easy. I had to sew the two ends together and I'm not totally happy with the seam so I'm still working on it. I think it'll be a good addition to my unnecessarily huge scarf collection. Knit on friends! Knit on!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


One of my all time favorite things about traveling around Europe is the experience of walking out of a metro station. It has to be one of the most magical moments you can have. You really don't know what to expect and so often it can take your breath away. I saw this video the other day and it took me right back to my travels.

Sub City Paris from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.

I hope one day you get to experience this, if you haven't already done so. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Greatness and Stress

Well I had a lovely relaxing weekend. I successfully ran my second 10km race, it feels great to have another race under my belt and I feel like I will keep doing it, at least for a little while. I am really happy with this race because my body hurts considerably less this time around then compared to time #1 also I ran it in almost the same time!

 In other news my Mac died Sunday night so I'm in the midst of tying to get that organized and kicking myself for waiting so long in between backing my data up. Now I've been assured that noohing is ever really lost (if you are willing to pay for it). Because I have no idea what kind bill it'll run me, at this time I'm ping to commit to trying to get my pictures back because so help me if I lose my Europe pictures twice, even if it is only some of them.

 So until that is fixed and back to normal I'll be away from here because blogging from an iPhone is not an activity I enjoy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What A Week and Why I Listen to Country 105

This week was a proverbial "big week" for me. I started a new job. New things and changes are always a little nerve wracking but generally I like to face them head on and try to get excited instead of afraid. I started Tuesday at the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta and I must say that I am really genuinely excited about it. I am excited because it is an actual foundation that does amazing things for kids and families dealing with cancer, also I am excited about it because it consists of a staff of more than 5 people - which has not been the case in any of my other positions. Also, I get to work with other people, and people who are close to my age. Anyways it was a good week because I got to start something new and although I spent most of my time reading policy manuals and entering data into a database I am totally stoked for this position!

Now, this position is also quite ideally located. Well it is ideally located in that if there is no traffic I can get there in less than 10 minutes, however, as this is not the case I find myself spending a great deal of time in my car. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to take the bus to save money and have the convenience of reading to and from work it takes about twice as long to get there. I digress. My point is, while sitting in traffic I need something good to listen to. As usually happens my radio dial usually switches regularly between any one of the multiple stations Calgary has to offer. This can get annoying so in the mornings there is a good chance my radio is tuned to CBC Radio 1 or 2. They offer a good variety of interesting material and something other than some stupid 'top 40s' hit. As it were if you are looking for good music post 9pm in this city you should tune your radio to 97.7 as they play local, Canadian, and folk music. Very choice.

Well to make a roundabout to my point, the top 40 stations can be great when you are cruising along with the windows down, but when it comes to actual musical enjoyment I think we should all give Country 105 a chance. My reasons are simple. Country music is so closely linked to folk music, and I love folk music. Folk music has meaning, class, and a message. So I implore you to try listening to country every now and then. I'm not saying there won't be the stereotypical, my dog died, my wife left me, and my truck quit working song, but it is worth a shot, you can always switch the station back and forth.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Staying Warm and Looking Great

In an attempt to make some useful crafts I've been spending my time knitting and crocheting a few headbands/ear warmers. Now the first two went really quickly but the third one (of which I bought the pattern off of etsy) has been causing me some problems. My gauge is seemingly correct but it ends up way too huge for my head so although I have already done it once, torn it out, and redone it, I think I will just have to tear it all out a second time and reduce the number of rows I crochet.

The first headband I made was a simple 15 chain (the pattern recommended 11 but I wanted it wider), crochet in the back of the stitch until if fits your head sort of thing. It is a little big for me so I am thinking I might try to take a row or two out. Also I am pretty proud of my rose, even if it sticks out really far.

The second headband, my favorite, and by far the easiest was done by knitting. Cast on 20 stitches, then knit 14 inches (I did more as my head is clearly bigger than the girl who made the pattern). Then you sew the ends together, cinch them up and wrap your extra yarn around. It is totally adorable. You can find the free pdf to download here.

Hopefully I'll be able to show you the third one soon but honestly, I've lost a little bit of my motivation for it. First I am going to make the second one in at least 2 more colours!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Live a Little

I'm not really an overly optimistic person, that's not to say I'm a pessimist. Basically I like to take it as I see it and I understand that things don't always work out and sometimes bad things happen. This considered, it wouldn't be surprising that I generally find 'goal' setting activities somewhat mundane and useless. When I think about the times we were forced to do these activities in school I really feel like they didn't work because they were not about things that I genuinely cared about. For example, although making goals for how I will improve myself in my work terms is likely a very worthwhile activity I find it unrealistic and annoying, if I'm being honest.

However, when I take those same principles and apply them to goal setting for my life I find it a hugely rewarding activity. Why did I go through all the work to tell you that this defies my reasoning? Basically because I want to convince you to do it to. Now even as I write this I feel hoakie.

The thing is, these goals can be just for you and when you achieve them it is amazing. I also think that writing them out or even making something a goal is like a little commitment to yourself to work towards achieving. 

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day (who is moving to Korea to teach English). She was talking about how a friend of hers had commented on how well she had her 'shit together' in order for her to get organized to go. This led us to discuss how so many people talk of awesome things they want to do, but never actually do them. These people frustrate me. If you want something, go out and get it!

This is where these lists can come in handy. I remember seeing an Oprah or some similar show about making life lists and well, I made one. This was quite a few years ago and it included things like:
  • Maintain a B+ average
  • Live in a foreign country
  • Finish my coop 
I wish I could remember more but my computer that has the list is not currently working. The point is, I wrote them down and when I went back I realized that I had done almost everything on the list or was well on the way to completing it. This was phenomenal. It gave me such a sense of achievement.

This past weekend I, for the first time ever, entered a 10km race and ran then entire thing. I had never ran that distance before. It was so great. Now I don't mean I did so great, what I mean was, it was a goal I set for myself that I didn't actually think I could achieve but I pushed myself to try because the worst thing that could happen was I would fail and have to try again.

Traveling and having so many new experiences has pushed me to continue to pursuing the scary things I don't think I can do or the things I've never tried that I'm scared I'll suck at. Because if you can have a sense of humour about it, the worst thing is you'll discover that you aren't good at something then you can move onto the next thing.

So my friends, throw caution to the wind, try something scary, make a list, you really can do whatever you want! And it feels fabulous :)

Recent addition to my list:
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle
Should be fun!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crochet Crafts

After a little bit of strife and tearing out a few rows and then a few more rows, then making a phone call to my mother I figured out how to successfully crochet.

Project number one was a neck warmer or 'convertible cowl' as the pattern labeled it. I know my tension was not consistent all the way through, but I'm pretty happy with the results. With a little practice and a re-do I'm sure I could make it stay on my head like a cowl should.

It was actually quite easy.

Also, by the sounds of it my sewing machine is going to take more than I thought to get it fixed, as such my dress that I was altering is still on hold. Sorry, I really want to show you it totally finished!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekend Projects

Friday night I got inspired to get after my weekend project. Recently I went thrifting with my friend Mary, and bought two dresses for $6. Steal of a deal. The thing is they need to be altered so they look a little more modern.

Friday I took the opportunity to sit down at my sewing machine and start clipping and hemming. It was all going so well until I discovered that part of my sewing machine wasn't working so well, turns out the feed dog (the part under the presser foot that pulls the fabric through) is made out of rubber and it has disintegrated and was leaving gross black marks on everything I was sewing. So until I can get that replaced I will have to put that project on wait.

Then I shifted my focus to my new project of learning how to crochet. This has not gone great but I am holding strong that I will get a handle of it. I think it'd be easier if I got a run through of how the patterns worked first because I have a feeling that it works differently than knitting patterns. It is a work in progress.

For now I will leave you with a teaser pic of what I was up to on Friday night. It is coming together really well and I can't wait to post the before and after pics :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Shift Focus

In an attempt to keep blogging, at least occasionally, and in an attempt to keep it from getting mundane I am going to try and focus on crafts. I will still post about books because I really love books and I hope that if you see me reading all the time maybe you will to then we could talk about books because talking about books is about as good as reading them.

I've always been a crafter. I think I can attribute this to my Mother. She would sew, cross stitch, and other like things and I picked it up. I started cross stitching young and it was my craft of choice for quite some time, then I took sewing in school, learned to knit, made some baby blankets, sewed a dress, completed a huge cross stitch, and now I feel like I've fallen into a crafting rut. I'd love to learn how to quilt and although I learned how to crochet I don't really remember how to do it.

Right now I generally just make dish towel after dish towel. Now I won't sell these too short because they look lovely, come in amazing colours, and people love them, but I want to do something more challenging. Don't know exactly what form that will take but hopefully it will be inspiring. For now I leave you with a picture of some of the infamous dish towels, which if you know me well, you have probably had a few gifted to you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Bookshelf

Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne Collins' series The Hunger Games. I literally just finished this, I read for quite a while today because I was so eager to see how this whole series would play out. The books are a fun read and the third one is no exception. I don't really want to give you any plot details as it would clearly spoil some of the first two books but as usual it is following the main characters around a dystopian world of the future.

All things considered this was a very enjoyable and easy series to get into, however it didn't end the way I thought it should. And I know I shouldn't be picky but I just reeeeaaallly wanted it to end one way and I feel like it was a little incomplete for me because it didn't end that way. Sad face. That said I would still recommend reading it, maybe you will enjoy the ending just the way it is.

Next up: Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. The first of a lengthy series of long books. ha. I've been avoiding this recommendation for quite some time, my friend Meghan has been telling me to read them for years and I will admit it wasn't until the HBO show came out that my interest was peaked. That and the fact that I have lots of time and a newfound passion of reading.

Keep Calm and Read On Friends!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Bookshelf

Catching Fire, the second book of Suzanne Collins' trilogy The Hunger Games was quite enjoyable. It pulls you quickly back into the dystopian world where children are forced to flight to the death. The plot thickens and the characters grow. It was a good read but undeniably the second book of the trilogy in that it was a bridge between the second and third book but I almost wanted a little bit more from it. That said it definitely sent me running for the third book of the trilogy as it leaves you wanting more, immediately.

I'm excited to pick up the third book, probably this afternoon. The great thing about these books is that they are quick and easy to read and the story is so engaging that you will run through this series in a matter of weeks if not days. I think this took me just over a week to read only because I was too busy to pick it up. You could easily fit this series in between whatever books you are currently reading. I highly suggest it. Also a movie is coming out soon but I have to be honest, (although I've only seen one teaser trailer) it isn't looking too good to me, too much like a bad teen movie where the characters are unrealistically beautiful, but I'll have to investigate more.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Favorite County... Countries

I refuse to choose just one! I loved so many different places for so many different reasons. And when I think about all the different places I went I feel guilty singling out just a few as better than the rest. I honestly loved everywhere. Each city, country, local had a different feel and different reasons that I adored it.

That said I've been forced to choose a top few as people keep asking me.

1. The Netherlands.
Honestly, I adore it. It is beautiful, just gorgeous and the time I spent living there definitely made an impression on me. Canals, windmills, english speaking people who are so blunt it makes you laugh. I loved it! I would highly recommend a trip around the Netherlands.

2. Croatia
Crystal blue and green water, killer heat, friendly people, Italian inspired food. Really the only bad thing about Croatia is that you never want to leave. Perfect holiday local where you still feel like you get to do stuff to. It'd be perfect to rent or hire a sail boat and just cruise around from different tiny islands to different tiny islands. AND there are Roman ruins there. I love Roman ruins.

3. Italy
I've now been to Italy twice and I can honestly say that it always leaves me wanting more. The food is divine and the landscape impeccable. Every city is very different and I've heard the coast is gorgeous. I'm also a sucker for history and Italy does not come up short in that department. I know that I'll be back one day, I just have to! I would highly suggest a trip to Italy, for at least a month. And as I said the other day, bring stretchy pants. The food is just too good to say no to.

Well I think that's all I've got for now. If you'd like any other "what was your favorite...?" or any other questions or queries let me know and I'd be happy to answer them. However, if not I might be taking some time off from blogging. Who knows though, I might get in a few small posts every so often.

Thanks for following along on my adventure! Until next time, which hopefully will be sooner rather than later :)


The other day at work one of our regular swimmers came up to me as she was leaving, she often stops to say goodbye, she's a real gem.

She came up the the lifeguard chair and said that when she moved from France 40 years ago she always used to say that white people couldn't dance and had no rhythm but she would have to take that back after seeing me dancing on the pool deck.

I am going to say that is a life win.

So to summarize, this white girl can dance and I do it often while working on a pool deck and perhaps more people notice than I initially thought.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Favorite Food

Well Food is a tough subject because there is a lot of amazing food to go around in Europe, but some of my all time faves was Italian anything - Italy is heaven for food, everything, and I mean even the street food is delicious! My favorite meal in Italy was an aubergine pasta dish with an olive oil sauce, it was so delicious I still think of it to this day. Of course Italy also has the most delicious gelato around and wonderful coffees and mozzarella, and well as I mentioned before, everything is delicious there.

Another meal of memory was in Prague I ordered a traditional meal, I can't remember its name, I blogged about it at the time, but it was beef and potato dumplings in a sweet orange cream sauce and it was amazing!! So delicious, I wish I could eat it on a daily basis.

So to summarize if you want a trip that will never disappoint you in the gastronomical department book a flight to Italy and bring along some stretchy pants. Italy tastes delicious!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Happiness is a package from Amazon.

So first I'll be finishing the Hunger Games series (bottom two) then I'm moving onto Game of Thrones!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Favorite City

This is not easy, not easy at all. I've decided to only choose from cities that I visited this trip and I am excluding Paris because I was only there for about 3 hours. So it comes down to two cities. But because I have to choose just one I will choose... Barcelona!! With Amsterdam coming up as a close second.

I loved Barcelona and I feel like you could take a month long holiday there and never get bored. There are so many things to do and see and generally the city is a buzz with activity AND it has huge stretches of beach! Well the sand isn't the best, very dusty but I loved loved loved my time there and it is definitely somewhere I desperately want to go back to!

If you ever get the chance I would suggest spending a week (at least) there!

My honourable mention is Amsterdam. I loved Amsterdam. It is beautiful and there is lots to do, and a lot of what you do in Amsterdam is sit in cafes and bike around! A laid back beautiful city!! A must see :)

Monday, July 25, 2011


Favorite Groningen Moment

Well I wouldn't call it a moment and I had lots of great times in Groningen, but I would rank Queen's Day Weekend as a high moment. People flood the streets to listen to numerous bands on many different stages all the while wearing orange and drinking beer. Nothing wrong with that. It was a great weekend with my Groningen friends and one that I won't soon be forgetting.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Favorite Mistake

By far my favorite mistake happened in Austria. Tess and I had taken a trip out to the Austrian countryside for an adventure I will be sure to tell you about in another 'favorites' and we were heading home. It was kind of a misadventure and we just jumped on the first train that said it was heading to Salzburg - where we were based. It was leaving within minutes of when we arrived so we didn't really look into many details, we just hopped on.

We quickly discovered that we were on some sort of slow train through mountains and extensive countryside on some sort of milk route train that stopped at all the small towns along the way. The train ride that had taken us about an hour in the morning took us about 4 and a half hours on the way back. We also hadn't eaten that day - due to the misadventure.

We thought it was going to be awful but we quickly discovered that this train ride boasted the most wonderful scenery, winding through mountains, seeing castles, rivers, huge rock walls, rolling hills, and all other beautiful things. It turned out to be the most beautiful train ride I took my entire trip. Awesome mistake!!

I didn't take many pictures on the train and the ones I did didn't really turn out. Here's a few:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Bookshelf

I read this book in a week. Sure it is pretty short and is printed with large spacious print because it was written for kids, but I'm a busy girl. That means that I didn't want to put it down and I made quite an effort to find as much time to read it as possible.

The story is as such; the government puts on a show of dominance every year by selecting one girl and one boy from each district (there are 12) to be put into an arena - somewhere in the wilderness - who are made to fight to the death. Only one can live and be the victor.

It was engaging, the characters were good, and it definitely kept me turning pages! The best part, it is the first in a three part series so although I probably won't have time to pick it up tonight I'll surely be buying book two as soon as I can.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Favorite Nature Experience

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia was AMAZING! I don't think there is anywhere like it and I have never seen any place so beautiful. Going up the Alps in Switzerland would come second, but Plitvice is like nothing else. Stunning. And not surprisingly so, the pictures don't even nearly do this park justice.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Bookshelf

I quite enjoyed 'The Help' - it was a nice easy read. It is the story of Jackson Mississippi in the 60s from the perspective of the help. Nice story, I'd recommend if you are looking for a nice simple story and an easy read. Hey, it is summer time and this is just the book for that sort of thing. It is interesting too because it switches narrators and that almost always interests me.

They are making it into a movie, or more accurately, the movie should be coming out shortly so you should go grab this first.


Favorite 'I'm without words' moment:

Standing at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin staring up at the wall. It overwhelmed me with how high and overpowering it was, such helplessness must have filled the people on either side. It was so real. Very very moving. I was speechless at how debilitating that wall made me feel, I can't even fathom what it was like to have that be a reality.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


So since I've been back I've had a lot of people ask me what my favorite place was, which if you have traveled, you know is an impossible question to answer. Sure I've come up with some easy stock answers but I really feel like I am not giving everything a chance. So for that I have created this list. A list of my favorites. If you have any other favorites you'd like to ask me I'd love to answer them in future posts. For now I'll just be posting my favorites day by day.

Favorite Conversation:

Easy, hands down Tess' and my conversation in Salzburg with three old men who only spoke German at a brewery while they fed us cheese and salami. I'm pretty sure we only exchanged about 5 words that both parties understood, but the conversation lasted about half an hour and kept us laughing the entire time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The End.

Monday June 27: The End

Monday was a very, very long day. I had to get up nice and early to ensure I caught the necessary train to get me to the airport. I woke up, did your average 'getting ready,' finished packing every last thing from my room and went to go meet the girls for breakfast. Mostly it was me eating as they just woke up to say goodbye to me. After breakfast I called a cab and had to say goodbye. That was no fun at all. It was so weird to leave that place and those people knowing that it would never be like that again. Once I left that was it, I couldn't go back and visit. A teary goodbye and a a hop in the cab (because I had too much stuff to roll across Groningen's cobbled streets) I found myself at the train station.

I intentionally took the earlier train (about 45minutes earlier) because it was a direct line and the last thing I wanted to do was lug my two 50lbs suitcases and my backpack from train to train. I also wanted to do some souvenir shopping at the airport because Groningen doesn't really have that sort of thing. The train left shortly after 9:00 and I was lucky to get there and easily get my bags on with no problems. I slept a lot, even though I felt like I should be taking in my last opportunity at the Dutch landscape - I was really exhausted.

Eventually the train stopped on the tracks, not outside of the Schiphol Airport, but outside of some other town - I wish I could remember where. When I asked what the announcement said, even though I was pretty sure I knew, I was disheartened to hear that the train would not be going any further and I would have to switch. And this is where the train travel starts to take a turn. I find out that 'trains to Schiphol aren't running' and I will have to take a train to Utrecht, switch again, and then go to the Airport. So though elevators and packed trains I go. This trip usually takes 2.5 hours and one train, my trip took 4 hours and 3 trains. Instead of arriving early at 11:30 I arrived late at 1. Good thing I left early.

When I got to the airport I went to check my bags in, one was overweight, one was not. I was that person in the airport line with their suitcases strewn open moving things from one bag to the next. Another good start to my day. I did it though, I made my bags both weight 50lbs. I went to go to my gate. Now because I was late I didn't get to do my souvenir shopping which consequently meant I didn't reaaally bring anything back for my family - sorry family, I had good intentions. I had time to find a few boxes of stroopwafels and a grande iced cafe latte from Starbucks before I had to get to my gate (for interest sake, this would be coffee 1 of 7). At this point I was elated that I had eaten breakfast as it was nearly 2pm and I hadn't had a chance to eat anything yet - it was going to be a long day.

The Amsterdam Airport main terminal has a great deal of shopping and restaurants and it also has security at each gate as opposed to one security for the whole terminal - I wasn't really a fan of that because I didn't know how much time it would take to get through so I basically just went right through out of fear I might miss my flight.

From there I flew to London Heathrow - my flight was delayed and arrived late, this meant I wouldn't really have time to get much for lunch as I would need to transfer to a different part of terminal 5. When I arrived at the gate boarding was seriously delayed and it was seriously hot. I went for my second iced cafe latte of the day, this time venti - serious business. We boarded late because the plane's cooling system wasn't working properly and therefore the plane was too hot for us to be on. When we did board the situation wasn't much better. Once we were all seated we must have sat there for about half an hour before we heard word that the cooling system was still not working properly, while they fixed it the plane would get very hot, then they would cool it, then it would get very hot again. I think we sat there for an hour and a half. Misery.

After that it was fairly fine. I didn't really sleep much, we traveled about at pace with the sun, or at least the sun was always shining bright through the windows. It was unfortunate that they didn't make everyone shut their blinds - which they usually always do. Instead I watched four movies. 1. Rango - it seemed pretty good although I kind of dozed in and out because I was so tired. 2. True Grit - I really enjoyed this, but that doesn't surprise me, Jeff Bridges and the Coen Brothers? Classic. 3. The Fighter - This movie was awesome. I didn't have much interest in seeing it besides the rave reviews, and I will say they are totally founded. A great film. And finally 4. Harry Potter 7 part 1 - which I'd seen already so I half watched, half slept through, we landed before it ended.

Because of the delayed departure we were obviously delayed at arriving - by just over an hour I believe. It was wild to be home, I was greeted by the friendly volunteers in cowboy hats, then talked to some friendly customs workers who didn't give me a hard time at all, and when I made it to my bags they had just come off the turnstile. I loaded to the top one of those carts: two big suitcases, a full backpacking pack, a handbag, and a bag from the AMS airport. When I made it to the second customs guy he just laughed at me - I also got some strange looks from people waiting to pick up their friends/relatives at the gate. My Mom and brother came to the airport to collect me and handed me Tim Horton's coffee and a Maple doughnut - it doesn't get much better than that. From there we drove home and I went off to bed. Strange because as soon as I was back in the house it felt like I never left, like time stood still. Strange.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

It draws to a close

Thursday June 23

Thursday morning I spent with my cousin walking around her adorable town. We stopped for coffee, perused the shops, stopped for toasties and tea, then I dropped her off at work and I continued to walk around a bit. Eventually I made my way back to her flat to grab my bags with just enough time to take her key back to her, say goodbye, and catch the train. I took the train from Shrewsbury to Liverpool in order to catch my flight back to Amsterdam. This entire process was rather uninteresting except that the Liverpool Airport kind of sucks. Well once you pass security it is nice, but the rest of it wasn't. Otherwise, it went quite smoothly, well there was a Starbucks that didn't have ice and therefore couldn't serve me a cold drink - seriously? No ice?

My flight arrived into AMS around 9:30, I bought some snacks, and got on the next train to Groningen. Fortunately for me Tess was in Amsterdam and we made plans to meet on the same train for the ride home. We met about half an hour into my ride - and she brought beer! What a forward thinking girl! This was ultimately a life saver as we had two drunk 17 year olds behind us and a half an hour train delay - it made it much easier to handle.

Otherwise I arrived home quite tired and went to bed.

Friday June 24

I didn't get up to much during the day Friday, some stuff to get ready for packing, like laundry, some packing, some cleaning, nothing too exciting.

That night, however, was a bit of a different story. As the school year was coming to an end and many people were leaving there was a bit of a general farewell party in our common room, and this party was an 'elegant farewell' so lots of people dressed up, it was nice. It was quite a party to remember, it lasted all night, eventually we made our way into the city. I'd love to say the evening ended as elegantly as it had started, but then my stories would not have been nearly as good. Lets just say it was ridiculous and hilarious and I fell asleep on my floor around 8am. Keepin' it classy.

Saturday June 25

Naturally due to the previous night's shenanigans no one was really moving too quickly, well to be honest no one was really moving at all. I woke up around 11, and went to buy pancake ingredients as I had promised to make fluffy "North American" style pancakes. Now, this didn't happen on Saturday because no one was awake and I needed McDonald's more than was appropriate. I watched Misfits for most of the day before going to find people around 3pm, most people were still asleep.

I packed for most of the day, slowly but surely getting it all in - well not really all, I did leave a bunch of stuff behind. That evening I team dinnered it with Tess before hanging out with Josefin's friends from Sweden for the night. Basically they just make you do shots after singing some sort of Swedish drinking song.

Sunday June 26

I successfully made a batch of very fluffy, very delicious blueberry and a batch of chocolate chip pancakes, I even splurged and bought maple syrup. This was a considerable feat because I did not have any means to measure things out. I had one bowl with vague markings. The pancakes were a hit! Yes! They love'd 'em. Which was good because I didn't know how they would turn out. You see, pancakes everywhere else are more like crepes, thin.

Post pancake binge I went with Tess into the city for one final bike ride, one final stroll, one final cafe, one final trip around Groningen. We walked around which was nice because you don't often meander the streets of a city you live in, especially when I was there I was always biking to a place yet I never really stopped to look around too much. Being Sunday most things were closed but we found some nice streets and shops - that we would have liked to go into. Eventually we stopped for a coke and took in the lovely sunshine. This was the first day of sunshine we had in a very long time, it had been consistently rainy and muggy. It was really nice to just relax in the city.

We made it back to Winscho later that afternoon and I finished packing, stressfully weighing my bags that both appeared to be over weight. As such I had to reevaluate and I ended up taking a bunch of stuff out and packing it in my backpacking pack that I would take on the plane. I also left a number of things behind. We hung out outside for a while, I said some goodbyes, then dragged some people to my room to give away a bunch of my stuff. We just hung out and chatted for quite a while. It was difficult to imagine leaving that place. We made plans to see each other for breakfast before I left and I headed off to bed. Staying up late and needing to be up early for a full day traveling meant I was going to be getting hardly any sleep, but I was a-okay with that.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Readers Digest Version

Because I've left it so long I'm going to have to do a very quick run down of the rest of my time in Europe. Apologies for leaving it so long, but with the traveling, packing, the last weekend, jet lag, and family camping trip I've been totally busy for the last two weeks.

So I think the last time I left you I was somewhere in Scotland about to head to England to see my cousin.

Sunday June 19

I took the train to Stirling to go to Stirling Castle - which had been under renovations and restorations for the last four years. It is supposed to be one of the best castles in Scotland to visit, and it has tons of history as it was the main castle of the ruling members of the Scottish monarch. It was gorgeous and a good quick trip. Provided with entrance was an audio tour which was really good.

After a few hours of wandering around the castle and taking in the gorgeous scenery I took the train back to Edinburgh and decided to skip town early and go down to my cousin's place that night. Through a series of emails, tweets, and facebook messages I let my cousin know I was coming early and boarded the train. The process was mostly smooth except that the connecting train I was supposed to catch didn't actually exist making me about an hour later than I had intended. No harm done. I made it and my cousin collected me at the station.

Monday June 20

It was nice to have a full day instead of the half day I had initially planned. It was also nice to be staying at my cousin's house - which was considerably nicer and more comfortable than the hostel in Edinburgh. It was also really nice to be with someone again. I don't mind traveling alone, but hanging out with someone else is way better - especially when that someone is your cousin.

Monday my cousin showed me around her town - Shrewsbury - which is totally adorable and the perfect size. I really like it. We wandered around the streets, stopped for lunch in the dingle (ya, that's a thing), walked some more through the shops, I got to see the castle, stopped for tea. It was really just lovely.

I was spoiled by having dinner cooked for me my entire stay.

Tuesday June 21

We decided to take a short trip to Ludlow - a town quite close to Shrewsbury - for the day. Ludlow is supposedly the 'cutest' town in the area - or something to that effect, but I have to say I'm partial to Shrewsbury. Ludlow, though cute, was considerably smaller. It also just so happened that on Tuesday's in Ludlow most things are closed. There is a market in town every day of the week except Tuesday. So we wandered around, went into the church, stopped for lunch, went through some charity shops before grabbing the train back.

When we arrived in Shrewsbury we quickly made our way over to the river for some Pims. I understand it was a rather disappointing glass of Pims but it was alright by me. From there we headed back to my cousin's flat to make dinner and watch some tv before heading to bed.

Wednesday June 22

My cousin had to work on Wednesday so I decided to take a little day trip down to Oxford. It was just under 3 hours on the train, one way. When I arrived it was pouring rain but it took all of about 20 minutes for it to stop. Oxford is quite adorable with many interesting buildings, most part of the university, and lovely streets. Most of the university buildings were closed to the public because school was still in session and there appeared to be some graduation ceremonies taking place. I basically just walked around the streets, enjoying the scenery, stopped in a few shops, and finally made my way to Corpus Christi College which is an interesting building because it is both a college building and a church that was commissioned by Queen Mary - but I could be wrong on the particulars. It is also interesting because there is a dining hall which was the inspiration for Hogwart's dining hall and there are steps that were in the movie - I believe.

I took the train back around 4pm making it into Shrewsbury for about 7 - at which time my cousin had supper ready - see, so spoiled.

After dinner we both decided it would be a good idea to go to a few local pubs. In the first one I tried a lemon beer and we met a man who lived in Calgary for seven years, in the second pub we had a cider which was very tasty as well. It was a great last evening in England.

And I will leave it there and give you more details tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

35 hrs

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville

Chalk my lack of updates as me soaking up every last second I have here. Soaking it all up, and packing up my 5 months of living (my room is in such a state). Might not get back to you until I'm back in Canada. Sors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good things come to those who wait

So keep waiting and maybe you'll get a great update in the near future.

I've been hanging out with my cousin in England for the last few days but I'm back in the Netherlands for one final weekend before heading back to Canada. I should hopefully update you in the near future about what I was up to from Scotland to now.

Until then.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Bookshelf

A review on the back of this book states: "An insistently metaphysical mind-bender"

I find this to be exceptionally accurate. I just finished, and thoroughly enjoyed Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

I heard about this book because it was one of the month's selections in a book club I was taking part in. Unfortunately, because I was too busy I didn't get to pick this one up and ended up skipping that month with book club altogether. This is too bad because finishing the book now I realize how amazing it would be to discuss.

The book follows two main characters, one a 15 year old boy running away from his father and a predestined fate he desperately wants to avoid. It also follows an elderly man who can talk to cats. Their lives intersect in a variety of ways. The book takes you outside the realms of reality, walking you through dream worlds and other craziness. It is a really interesting read and one that I would highly suggest you pick up. I would also suggest trying to get someone or a group of people to read it at the same times as you because it demands to be discussed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scotland: The 12 hour bus tour

I slept quite well last night, for the most part. I think that I can contribute that to being exhausted. I did wake up at 3am when the people who were on a pub crawl got in. I looked at my phone, saw it was 3am and thought to myself "why are they coming home so early?" Yup friends the Netherlands has me thinking that getting in at 3am is early. Other than that - and the about 20 minutes I was awake because the guy sleeping in the bunk below me was snoring SO loud - I slept really well.

I got up at 6:30 so I would have time to shower and get to the bus pickup spot with plenty of time.

The bus left just after 8am and I was exhausted. I was lucky and got a seat right at the front, this was ideal for optimal sightseeing. Most of the trip was just driving around 'seeing.' This was alright as the countryside is very beautiful, unfortunately it rained all day so the windows were often covered with rain.

Some of the highlights:
We drove by Stirling Castle, which I will be going to see tomorrow. It is the second most visited castle here, after Edinburgh Castle.
We drove by the castle that you see in The Holy Grail.
We drove by the field and hills where William Wallace fought. (FFRRREEEEEEDOM!)

We stopped at Glen Coe which is a beautiful valley surrounded by stunning huge rolling mountains. It was really gorgeous.

We drove through a lot of beautiful scenery, unfortunately taking pictures from a bus doesn't really work that well, especially when windows are covered in rain. As such I didn't actually take too many pictures.

We stopped along Loch Ness and we took a boat ride, unfortunately it was so rainy and cold that I just sat in the covered part and couldn't see much due to foggy windows and rain clouds on the top of the mountains. The boat drives down and takes you past some ruins of a castle which is a really lovely sight, especially with a lovely backdrop. Due to the peat in the soil the water is really dark, think Guinness coloured. Sadly there were no sightings of Nessie. Better luck next time.

Basically we drove back from there. This trip was divided with a couple other stops, most of them were for things like snacks, coffee, and bathroom breaks. It was a great day, albeit it really long. It got quite excessive sitting in a bus that long, but it was nice to be able to see so much in one day.

We arrived back just after 8pm. I walked back to the hostel, stopping at Subway along the way.

I realize that this is not likely an interesting post to read but I can't really list things that I saw or did because mostly I just sat in a bus and looked out the window at what you would imagine Scotland to look like. So imagine Scotland, do you have it? Yup, that's what I saw. Rolling green hills topped with rain clouds, scattered with fluffy sheep, cordoned off by short stone walls. Adorable!

Friday, June 17, 2011


The rest of my evening yesterday was rather uneventful. By the time I went to my room in the hostel a number of people were already asleep. I went to bed pretty quickly. I was woken up a few times, but I think that is mostly because I am a rather light sleeper in hostels. I was woken up a few times because the bar downstairs has live music but mostly I thought it was funny because it was a bunch of people belting out "Ghost Riders in the Sky." That was (momentarily) entertaining, and it stopped around 1am.

I woke up around 7 and couldn't get back to sleep so I just got up and showered, sat around eating breakfast and reading, taking my time. My plan for the day was to jump on one of the hop-on-hop-off tours and they started at 9:30. Because I was taking my time I didn't get to the busses until around 10 but this was ok. I don't often want to pay for a bus tour like that but Edinburgh is really, really hilly and I hadn't really done any reading about what you can see here so this really was my only option. This is also great because if you get tired of seeing things you can just sit on the bus for a while and still feel like you are doing stuff.

They had a deal where if you pay one price you can board any of the 4 different companies buses, this was really nice. I started with one bus and just rode the entire route, it took about an hour. I did this because I was tired, it started to rain (great day for an open top bus tour), and I didn't want to pay entrance into anything. I then boarded another bus, this time with a live tour guide, these are generally much more enjoyable than the ones with headphones. The guide was really great. Again I just sat and listened to the entire tour - it covered mostly different things. I stayed on that bus and rode it to one of the Starbucks (which are conveniently everywhere) and hopped off.

I was freezing cold and ready for a nap but determined not to waste my bus ticket by napping. Instead I had a panini and a venti latte. I sat in Sbucks for about an hour reading and trying to warm up. From where I was I walked up the hill towards Edinburgh castle stopping to buy a lambswool scarf along the way - I desperately wanted to buy a cashmere one but I was being realistic about money matters so opted out of it.

I then went to the castle. It was alright. I was pretty exhausted and most of it was set up like a museum, which was nice, but I wasn't really up for reading a bunch of stuff. Don't really know if I got my money's worth, but for 5 extra pounds I paid for entrance into ALL historical sites in Scotland, so once the weekend is over I will have made my moneys worth.

I wandered through a lot of the castle before eventually coming out and finding a tour to book for tomorrow. It is going to be an epic day of busses but I think it'll be good, and it will be substantially easier than if I tried to plan it all myself. Sounds like a lot - a lot - of people have done similar tours so that means it really is easier. It is an early start and we get back late. Sunday I've plans to get to a castle that I won't get to see in the tour but I'll tell you about that after I actually do it.

So I hopped back on another bus and rode it around until I could stop by the train station. I thought I wanted to come and have a nap or something but instead I went to look for a shirt to buy because I need to do laundry but I thought maybe it'd be easier to buy a cheap shirt, then changed my mind again and convinced myself to just wash my clothes - which I still need to do! I went to the tourist office to get some details about my Sunday trip then walked back to the hostel, hung out, ate some food, had some tea, and now I'm updating all you lovely people on my day.

I realize I wasn't very informative about what I saw, but I don't really know what to tell you. The city is really beautiful, some highlights were the Queen's Scotland palace, the castle, beautiful architecture, private parks (you have to pay a membership to use them!), beautiful bridges, ya, I guess mostly it was just nice to look at the city today. I just wish it wasn't so cool and rainy. It really tires a girl out.

I'm hoping I get a better nights rest tonight because I have to get up at something like 6:30 and the tour is almost 10hrs I think. Clearly I will be sleeping on the bus. And yes, I am charging my camera battery as I type :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rouen - Paris - Edinburgh

Long day to say the least. I've gone from an adorable quiet French hotel to bustling noisy youth hostel. Oh to have money for a hotel. That'll be the day.

My day started rather early, I woke up so that I would have time to eat the hotel breakfast I had agreed to purchase (mostly because I'd have a long day and I hate not knowing if I'll have time for food) and hopefully make the 8:57 train to Paris. This is quite a task if you consider the fact that I had to make enough time to re-pack my bag AND go downstairs and eat breakfast AND the French don't like to rush their eating so you can't be an in-and-out sorta person who grabs a few things and runs out the door.

I was a little surprised by the breakfast to be quite honest, although upon reflection, I realize that I should not have been. I guess I was expecting a typical buffet style thing with cereal, yogurt, some pastries, boiled eggs, and cheese. I love the boiled egg for breakfast, what a wonderful thing. Well, there was no boiled eggs and there was no buffet. This was all fine and dandy though because I was served a personal pot of coffee and given cheese (emmental, yum!) and baguettes as well as yogurt, orange juice (good stuff, which you don't come-by often), and a croissant. Have I mentioned that they serve delicious baguettes with everything? Literally, every meal, and if it isn't served with a baguette is probably is a sandwich inside a baguette - also delicious. They are like the Mexican's and their tortillas.

I drank a pot of coffee, which would prove to be troublesome later, grabbed my bag and headed for the train. Now that my Eurail pass has expired I have to buy a ticket each time I take the train. I know how the system works in the NL but ever since I got a ticket in Italy I told myself I would always go to the counter to get a ticket from a person so I don't mess up and get a huge fine again. I arrived with enough time but the line was long. Luckily for me I made it to the train with one minute to spare. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. The train was packed. I ended up standing the entire way to Paris, but it was only about an hour and a half so it wasn't the worst thing to happen. Mostly I read, although I was super nauseous for the first little while, too much coffee mixed with little food (let's just be honest France, a baguette and a croissant isn't enough to fill anyone up in the morning!) plus a hot packed train car had my stomach turning.

So otherwise everything went well, and it was nice because I arrived shortly after 10am. I made my way to another station that both be on the metro line that I would take to get to the airport and have somewhere for me to leave my luggage. Eventually, after a series of metro stations I stepped out onto the streets of Paris. J'adore!

I arrived at a train station very close to Notre Dame so I swung by there and then generally wandered from there to the Arc de Triomphe. It is basically a 5km a straight line, it takes you by the Louve, through some nice park areas, where you could if you wanted to get some delicious pastries, and then up the Champs-Elysees. While walking down Champs-Elysees there was some sort of commotion at the Adidas store, there were people with cameras, bodyguards, etc, but as far as I could tell, there weren't enough people eagerly mulling about for it to be anyone really that cool. Naturally I walked on.

Eventually I made it to my destination and at 1:30 I decided I needed to head back to the station, grab my bag, and catch the train to the airport. I didn't actually know how long this process would take and there was no way I was going to miss that flight!

Generally, I just wished I had time to really experience the city. Both times that I've been there now it has been rushed and doesn't really give a fair feeling for the city. Also this time there were so many more scammer kids around asking for money. Gah! Leave me alone!

Total it took about an hour, but with checking in, security and everything I wasn't too overly early. The flight was rather uneventful, mostly I kept on with Kafka on the Shore (man that book is crazy!) before arriving in a country where English is the native language! I didn't have to feel like a fool paying for a bottle of water and not knowing how much it was. I will admit, I just about forgot to get pounds out. Also, for interest sake, it has happened, I have been converting back to euros instead of dollars; it really became clear in Croatia. What'll I do when I go home?

So I caught a bus into the city centre of Edinburgh and tried to follow the directions written down on the website and what I could remember from when I looked at GoogleMaps. It didn't go so well. I got lost, well not really lost, I just didn't know what I was looking for. Then it started to rain. After I had tried three directions, naturally it had to be the fourth way, and it was. Upon checking in I realized why it had such amazing reviews on the hosteling website, it isn't so much that it is awesome because it is so nice, more it is one of those cheap hostels that everyone loves because it is a party house. *sigh* Not like this is a bad thing, it is easy to meet people and everyone is friendly, but I just love my quiet nights in my double bed in a hotel room. Maybe that makes me a recluse? I don't even mind hostels that are clean and neat, these ones look like transient hippies live in them. In fact I think that the people who love these hostels are hippies, or at least want-to-be-hippies. I clearly, am not.

Anyways, there is a cheap bed and I am only here for a few nights so I'll deal with it. It is ideally located. Tomorrow I'm thinking I'll stick to the city and see the sights, it is a really beautiful and I look forward to exploring it. I'm hoping to get out to see some Scottish countryside Saturday and then we'll see what I get up to Sunday.

It is so much more north here that it stays light out for a considerable amount of time. It is 10:30 and still quite dusky. All this traveling in one day, an early rise, sporadic eating schedule, an hour time difference, and the sun still up has my body all confused. I haven't had dinner but it is already 10:30 and I want to go to bed; thinking about being in Rouen seems like day ago. Here's hoping I don't need my earplugs in the middle of the night :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not The Breast Summer Ever!

I heard about this radio contest (AMP Radio 90.3) the other day from a friend of mine. I have to say initially I had a jaw dropping reaction to it. Since then I've been mulling it over a lot. The premise is, you post a photo and write a blurb about why you deserve to win the augmentation, finalists are selected and voted on by the public, the individual with the most votes wins.

Here is what I've come up with:
  • First of all I think that plastic surgery, if done for the right reasons, can be a positive thing
  • If you think about it, I had braces, braces which straightened my teeth to make my smile substantially prettier, at least that is what we value right? A set of straight pearly whites? And I will 100% say that getting braces helped my self confidence and made me feel better about myself
  • We consider braces a normal thing, a procedure that changes what we were born with into something considered more socially acceptable and beautiful
  • So from that stand point I think that should someone get a little bit of plastic surgery to change something, say a giant nose, that they are constantly self-conscious of, and it would substantially increase their happiness and give them a positive self image, who am I to say no
  • In that same vein I feel that breast implants can be a positive thing, if you feel you would be happier with a little bit of a bigger cup than why not, right?
  • My problem with this contest lies in the fact that it isn't really supporting the idea of surgery after long personal reflection
  • My problem is, it seems to present the idea that the only way to have the 'best summer ever' is win bigger breasts, the focus is all wrong
  • Maybe that is just semantics
  • I don't feel like I can judge and tell everyone who gets plastic surgery that they are wrong, but I think it has to be done in an intelligent way and quite frankly, this doesn't seem very intelligent to me
  • To me, this just seems like an easy way to sell sex and place the wrong emphasis on what is important, because clearly the 'best thing ever' would be winning bigger breasts *rolleyes*
  • Then again, I wonder if anyone who wasn't already considering a breast augmentation would apply to this contest anyways
  • I guess overall I just feel like it sends the wrong message about where we place our values
  • Maybe they should do a contest whereby I could win $10,000 to put towards my education? Have I gone too far, did I cross the nerd line?
What do you think? I would appreciate your thoughts :)