Magic of Christmas Giving Tree Night and Village Ice Cream

Or the night I won an ipod mini!

Like I posted before, Thursday night I headed down to Melrose for dinner, drinks, and the giveaway for the Magic of Christmas Giving Tree night. I could bring a guest with me, so I decided to take my dad.

After having a beer or two, we were told it was time for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious. There was apple pecan salad, turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, and vegetarian lasagna. I heard that all the recipes were some someone’s grandma, so it’s no wonder why everything tasted so good.

Once everyone had eaten their dinners, the draw started. The prizes were all hung on a Christmas tree in envelopes in three different sections. The bottom section was the gift cards (iTunes, Petro Canada, and restaurants). The middle section was the items (TV, luggage, xbox, etc.). The top section had just three prizes in it: an $800 Calgary Flames package, a beer fridge from Canadian, and a year long car lease from Kia.

Everyone’s name was put into a Santa hat and the names were pulled one at a time. You then went up to the tree and picked an envelope, starting at the bottom of the tree and working up.  So the first people picked from the bottom and the last three people got one of the big prizes at the top.

I was honestly excited about getting any of the prizes on the tree. Nothing was valued at under $100, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong. I was pretty stoked when halfway through giving out the prizes my name was finally picked. My dad told me he had a feeling that the best prizes would be on the far side of the tree. So when I went up to pick my envelope off the tree, that’s where I picked from.

iPad Mini December 2014

I took the envelope off the tree and opened it up. I almost couldn’t believe it when the paper inside said an iPad mini! To be honest, I would have gotten a tablet awhile ago (I think it would be super useful for school instead of bringing my laptop), but I just couldn’t afford it. So to win a tablet was pretty exciting.

Once the rest of the prizes were given out and the night ended I thought I’d take my dad somewhere special. Village Ice Cream has some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I’m not even joking. It’s perfectly creamy and smooth without being too sweet. I’ve tried a few flavours since my first time there, and they’ve all been delicious. I’ve been telling my dad about it, but he hadn’t been yet. So when we were only a few blocks away at Melrose, I knew I had the perfect opportunity to take him.

Magic of Christmas Village Ice Cream December 18 2014 (1)

When you head to Village Ice Cream it’s deceiving. It’s at the end of a cul-de-sac with no other stores nearby. You actually can’t even see the store or a sign for it until you’re in the parking lot. I think he thought I was lost until we got there. Once we’d ordered (vanilla for me, eggnog bourbon for him), we started walking back to the car and eating our ice cream.

My dad said he was really impressed with it. While I told him it was amazing ice cream, he didn’t believe that it was going to be as good as I said it was. On the ride home he couldn’t stop talking about how delicious it was. I’m pretty sure for his next birthday I’ll be getting him a gift card for ice cream there.

Donating, Winning a Contest, and U2

Social Media Breakfast Melrose November 2014

A couple weeks ago I attended Social Media Breakfast YYC. It’s essentially a monthly gathering of people from all kinds of backgrounds who are interested in social media. Everyone from bloggers to marketing people are in attendance. It’s held at different venues every month. November’s was at Melrose.

That breakfast was the kick off for Magic of Christmas, which Melrose was collecting donations for. Magic of Christmas delivers toys, food hampers, and Christmas trees to families in need. They’re delivered on Transit buses decorated like reindeer by volunteer “elves” who are dressed up. Magic of Christmas is accepting donations at their warehouse (6812 Fairmount Drive SE) until December 23rd if you’re interested in donating BTW.

Everyone who came to Social Media Breakfast was encouraged to bring a toy or a cash donation. With a donation, you filled out a ballot for one of 40 prizes. I thought it was a great cause so I made a donation and put my info on a ballot, not thinking my name would be picked.

Fast forward to earlier this week when I got an email telling me I was one of the 40 people picked! Tonight I’ll be heading back to Melrose for a traditional Christmas dinner with the other 39 donors who were also picked. We were all invited to bring a guest, so I thought I’d take my dad with me. After the dinner they’ll be giving out the prizes. They range from $100 iTunes gift cards to a year long Kia car lease! I’m pretty stoked about the whole thing and I’m really looking forward to tonight.

On a different note….

U2 Ticket December 2014

Know how I bought U2 tickets for one of their shows in Vancouver in May? Well my ticket arrived in the mail this week! I’d gotten an email last week telling me that it had been printed and was on it’s way to me. Now that I have it in my hands it almost feels like it’s going to happen. I’m don’t think it’ll hit me that I’m really going to see U2 until I get to Vancouver the day before the concert.

Speaking of Vancouver, if anyone has any suggestions of what to see/do while I’m there, I’ve love to hear them. Unfortunately I’ll only be there two full days, but I want to take in as much of the scenery and outdoors as I can. While I’ve only been there once before I fell in love with Vancouver’s natural beauty.

What I Ate Wednesday

WIAW Generic 2013

As usual, thanks to Jen at Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday.

WIAW Breakfast December 17 2014

Breakfast was my usual cereal/fruit/yogurt combination. This time it was Oatmeal Crisp cereal, an orange (so so tasty), and vanilla yogurt with a glass of water.

WIAW Lunch December 17 2014

We had bought ciabatta buns at the grocery store, so I knew I wanted to use one of those for lunch. I added some turkey, cheese, red peppers, and honey mustard to it and I ended up with a pretty delicious sandwich. I also had some baby carrots and hummus on the side.

WIAW Dinner December 17 2014

Dinner was one of my favourites. My mom has an amazing chicken fried rice recipe. Seriously though, it’s so delicious. It’s from an old cookbook from the 60’s. I ended up making it and it was just as good as usual.

Do you have a favourite family recipe?

I’m Missing Yoga Like Crazy

I'm missing yoga like crazy Pinterest

My favourite kind of yoga is Ashtanga. (You can read more about Ashtanga here.) I’ve tried several different kinds, but I keep coming back to it. I love how it’s the same series of postures in the same order every time. I know what to expect from each class. Ashtanga starts with a series of sun salutations which include planks, chatarangas, and downward dogs. Then in between every sitting posture you do vinyasas, which also include planks, chatarangas and downward dogs.

I have bad wrists. If I do the same repetitive task too many times they get sore and hurt. They get better as I take it easy on them and let them rest, but as soon as I start doing too much the pain come back.

Here’s my problem: when my wrists are hurting I can’t do Ashtanga yoga because of all the planks, chatarangas, and downward dogs. It just puts too much pressure on them.

Usually my wrists start to feel better in a week or two, but lately it’s been months since they’ve been back to normal, which means that I haven’t been to an Ashtanga class in a long time. I’m missing it a LOT. As much as I would love to go to a class right now, I know I would pay for it in the following days.

As always, yoga is about honouring your body and challenging yourself while not pushing yourself too far. I know that if I come out of class more injured than I went it, I’m missing the point of yoga. I’m not being kind to my body.

Last week I got an email about a series of classes that will be starting in January. The Tuesday night ones are restorative yoga classes. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to sign up for them. It’ll get me back into the yoga studio. Yoga is a major stress reliever for me, so it’ll feel great to have that back. While it won’t be Ashtanga, I’ll still be doing yoga.

Have you ever had to take time off from working out or a sport you really enjoyed because of an injury? Leave me a comment telling me about it.

Live Music

Bush Tickets March 31 2012 (2)

There’s something about seeing a band live that just doesn’t compare to listening to them on an ipod. Since my first concert in 1997 when I was 14, I’ve been hooked. Whenever a band that I like come to Calgary I try to get tickets.

Bush 1997

My first concert was Bush. They were huge in the 90’s (you may remember Machinehead or Glycerine). 16 Stone was one of the first CD’s I ever bought. I fell in love with that album. I listened to it constantly. I made mix tapes with my favourite songs from it so I could listen to it in the car. Cause when I was a teen cars didn’t have CD players or ipod adapters. My dad got the tickets for me as a surprise, and when he told me I freaked out. I was incredibly excited. I went to the concert with my dad and my brother. I had so much fun. So much fun in fact that I lost my voice for a few days afterwards.

The Killers 2007

The next big concert I went to was The Killers once I was back in Calgary after I finished university. Hot Hot Heat opened for them, and I really enjoyed them. The Killers put on a great show. I went with a friend and we both thought they out on an awesome live performance.

Gavin Rossdale 2009

In 2009 Gavin Rossdale, the front man for Bush toured in support of his solo record, Wanderlust. (Love Remains the Same, one of the singles was in a movie.) Since it was a smaller tour he played at Mac Hall at the University of Calgary, which is a really intimate venue. There were only a couple hundred people compared to the thousands when I saw him in 1997. He’s a great performer and really wants to put on a great show for his fans.

Kings of Leon 2011

The first time I saw Kings of Leon was in 2011. The Sheepdogs opened for them and I ended up really liking them. I wasn’t sold on them before the concert, but after hearing them live I’m definitely a fan. I’m pretty lucky that I was able to see Kings of Leon because they’d cancelled part of their tour and the Calgary date was only the second back out on the road. They ended up playing my favourite song (Be Somebody), so I was pretty happy. My post about the concert is here.

Bush 2012

Bush toured again in 2012 in support of their Sea of Memories album. Since they decided to do this record with an indie label, they didn’t have as much say with who they toured with. Unfortunately they ended up opening for Nickelback (who I really don’t like). While I didn’t want to support Nickelback by buying a ticket, I decided I couldn’t pass up seeing Bush in a large venue, so I decided to go. They went on stage right before Nickelback and they once again put on an awesome show. Gavin Rossdale always looks like he’s having so much fun on stage signing. His passion for music really shines through. Once Bush was done I left and didn’t stay for Nickelback. Yeah, I dislike them that much. I wrote about the concert here.

Kings of Leon 2014

Kings of Leon December 12 2014

Last spring I got to see Kings of Leon for a second time when they came to Calgary on their Mechanical Bull tour. They were on fire that nice and really put their all into the show. I went with a couple friends, and even though one of them wasn’t a huge Kings of Leon fan, she said she really enjoyed herself. Check out my post about the concert are here.

U2 2015

U2 recently announced that they’re doing another world tour. The last time they came to Canada in 2011, the closest place they played was Edmonton. For some reason I decided not to go (I can’t remember why now). When I found out they were coming back to Canada I knew I wanted to see U2. I was waiting at my computer on Monday hitting refresh to try to get a ticket to their closest show in Vancouver. Luckily I was able to get one! Tickets sold out for the entire tour in about 32 hours, so I’m super excited that I was able to snag a ticket. Now the hard part will be waiting for the concert in May.

Leave me a comment telling me about your first or favourite concert.

What I Ate Wednesday

WIAW Generic 2013

Thanks again to Jen at Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday.

WIAW Breakfast December 10 2014

Breakfast was a little different from the usual for me. I had a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese from Wayne’s Bagels that I picked up while I was the farmer’s market over the weekend. They are Montreal style bagels and always so delicious. I also had some cherry yogurt and an orange to round out my breakfast.

WIAW Lunch December 10 2014

I was craving some veggies at lunch time so I put together a salad. I started with some romaine lettuce and added some cucumber, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. I topped it all off with some Italian salad dressing (after I took the photo). It hit the spot and was exactly what I needed. I also had a handful of crackers along with my salad.

WIAW Dinner December 10 2014

Dinner was curry and rice. I picked up the curry from Mom’s Happy Kitchen (also at the farmer’s market). I picked up a big container of their chicken curry and decided to break into it. The curry was delicious as always.

Do you have a favourite vendor at your local farmer’s market? Leave me a comment telling me about them.

Calgary Area Local Gift Guide

Calgary Area Local Gift Guide Pinterest

Given the chance, I’ll shop locally. I love supporting people in my community. Although it might take a little more effort to get to a farmer’s market, I’ve found that it’s well worth it. There’s some amazing people out there who are so passionate about what they grow, create, and sell.

I thought I’d put together a post with a few of my favourite local talents. I’ve bought from all of them and have been really impressed with my purchases. It’s great chatting with the person who actually made it and getting to hear the story behind the item.

Market Collective Taste the Trucks September 7 2014 (5)

This past summer I visited Market Collective. They always have an amazing group of artists. I discovered Medicine River Soap Co. while I was there. I bought myself some lemongrass solid lotion. I was at Market Collective again this past week and I ended up finding a great gift for my boyfriend from Medicine River Soap Co. I know he’s going to love it.

Beer Glasses Christmas Gifts November 2014

A couple weeks ago I was at a craft sale when I saw these lovely glasses. My brother has a great glass collection going for his liquor, so when I saw these, I knew they’d be a great gift for him. I bought them from Nicole at Fireweed Glass Studio out of Canmore. (Fireweed is actually one of my favourite native plants!) She had so many beautiful creations.

Cake Mini Muffins December 2014

Have you been to Cake Bake Shoppe before? I bought some mini cupcakes from them this weekend and I know I’ll be finding my way to their bakery sooner rather than later to sample some of their other delicious treats. My favourite out of this batch of cupcakes was the salted caramel one. Chocolate cheesecake was a close second. The fact that I couldn’t get a photo before a couple of them had disappeared should be a good indication of how tasty they are.

Naaco Chai Tea December 2014

My dad loves chai tea. There’s a coffee place at the Calgary farmer’s market where he always gets a chai tea latte. I think it’s become one of his favourite drinks. Well I discovered that the Naaco food truck has come up with their own chai tea. When I asked about it I was told that it’s a chai tea with a spicy twist. I thought my dad would really enjoy it, so I thought I’d get it for him. He ended up really liking it. He said he liked the spicy kick to it. He even got fancy and added some frothed milk to it.

Now that you know my favourite local businesses to get Christmas gifts from, leave me a comment telling me about one or two of yours.

Chili Pasta

Chili Pasta Pinterest December 4 2014

When I read Beth’s chili pasta recipe on Budget Bytes I knew I’d be making it. Winters get really cold here (hello –35 degrees C with the wind chill), so it’s always nice to have something warm and filling when it’s like that outside. This chili pasta recipe is just the thing to warm you up when it’s cold.

My only warning before starting to make this chili pasta is to make sure that the pot you’re using is big enough! I just barely had enough room in the pot pictured below. As in when I added the broth it came right up the the top. Next time I’ll be using a bigger one. Until it cooked down a bit, the volume was more than I thought it would be and it got a little stressful for a minute or two.

Chili Pasta December 4 2014 (1)

This recipe is pretty straight forward – nothing too complicated. It does take some time however to cook, which makes sense considering how much good stuff is in it (two kinds of beans, ground beef, pasta, corn, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and beef stock. There’s quite a few of ingredients, but they’re all easy to find at your local grocery store.

I know some people like their chili with more liquid, but I really liked the thicker texture of this one.  It would be fairly easy to modify this recipe into a vegetarian one. Omit the ground beef and instead of adding beef broth you could substitute vegetable broth.

Chili Pasta December 4 2014 (3)

By the time I was done making the kitchen smelled amazing. I was more than ready to sit down and try some for dinner. I was disappointed. It wasn’t spicy (which I really liked), but it was still really flavourful. Although pasta isn’t something I would usually put in chili I think it really worked well in this recipe.

This recipe makes a lot of chili. I filled a few meal sized containers and put them in the fridge. It was just as good the day after. In fact, one family member thought it was even better as leftovers.

Once again, you can find the recipe here on the Budget Bytes blog. Beth has step by step instructions if you’re not much of a cook, so give this recipe a try even if you’re not the world’s best when it comes to cooking.

Do you have a favourite chili recipe or a secret ingredient?

A Different Take on Black Friday

A Different Take on Black Friday November 28 2014

I know that there’s going to be a lot of people at malls today. People are hunting down a great deal or trying to find the perfect gift at a great price. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a mall today – I don’t enjoy shopping on the best day, let alone when I know it’s going to be crazy busy. I make a list and get in and out as fast as I can. I definitely don’t find shopping fun or relaxing like some people do.

While I totally understand wanting to get a good deal, I think it’s easy to take it a little too far. So I thought I’d share a little about my favourite charities. Can you imagine the difference it would make if everyone going to the mall made even a $10 donation to their favourite charity today as well as stocking up on Christmas gifts?

Right to Play Logo November 28 2014

Right to Play Donate here

From their website:

Play is not a luxury; it is a tool for education and health. It can bring entire communities together and inspire every individual. A game of football can teach children about tolerance and peace, a game of tag can teach about malaria. Our mission at Right To Play is to use sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities. Our vision is create a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play. Right To Play’s values reflect the best practices of sport and play: co-operation, hope, integrity, leadership, dedication, respect, enthusiasm, and nurture.

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Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders Donate here

From their website:

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

I’ve been a big supporter of MSF for years now. They do amazing work is some of the most dangerous places on earth. They’ve been at the forefront of the ebola epidemic since it started in the spring. I know when I donate my money is being put to good use.

Ronald Mcdonald House Logo November 28 2014

Ronald McDonald House Donate here

From their website:

Helping a sick child fight their illness takes a big enough emotional toll on a family. Adding a financial strain can make it all almost too much to bear. RMHC can help address those problems, whether they involve housing that’s near a hospitalized child, the expense of staying together in another city, or even getting basic medical and dental care in a vulnerable community.

I had some family need to use Ronald McDonald House in the past. They said it made such a difference to be close to their daughter while she was in the hospital having surgeries.

Your local humane society/SPCA

I know I’m not the only one who’s had pets make a difference in my life, and I hate to think about some of them not having a home and family. Check out your local SPCA and donate or volunteer.

Your local homeless shelter

I know I take for granted the fact that I have a safe, warm place to sleep every night, when so many people in my city don’t have that. Especially with the cold weather now, shelters are even more important to keep people warm. Contact your local shelter and find out about volunteering, donating warm clothes/blankets, or money.

Do you have a favourite charity you give to? Leave me a comment telling me about it.

What I Ate Wednesday

WIAW Generic 2013

As always, thanks to Jenn for hosing What I Ate Wednesday.

WIAW Breakfast November 26 2014

Breakfast was my usual combination of cereal/fruit/yogurt. This time it was Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, strawberry yogurt, and an orange. While oranges at this time of year can be kind of iffy, this one was delicious.

WIAW Lunch November 26 2014

For lunch I found myself at Mucho Burrito. I decided on a steak taco salad. It included lettuce, roasted veggies, beans, strips of steak, guacamole, cheese, and mild salsa all in a tortilla bowl. It ended up being pretty big, so I wasn’t able to finish it. I didn’t even get more than a bite or two of the tortilla which is usually my favourite part of taco salads.

WIAW Dinner November 26 2014

Dinner was a chicken and veggie stir fry with sweet and sour sauce on white rice. I didn’t have much energy so I was glad to make something that I was able to make easily and quickly.

What’s your go to quick and easy meal?