Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Wow, it feels like its been forever since I have sat down to write on the blog… Probably because it has been forever. Well, two weeks. Which is still a long enough time. First, I was away on vacation. It was wonderful and sunny and warm but more on that in another post. Today, I want to share some super exciting news.

You may remember that a while back I applied for a maternity leave contract in the special events department. Sadly, I was turned down because I didn’t have enough experience. I was rattled by the answer because how are you supposed to get experience if no one will take a chance on you. But I handled my rejection with poise and grace and continued to work hard in my current position. Well the common phrase “good things come to those who wait” could not be more true in this moment.

Just over a month after I was turned down my boss sent me a highly cryptic email about having a meeting to discuss my portfolio. Interesting. Minutes later she sends an email announcing that one of our department heads is leaving the company. Very interesting. Obviously I wasn’t going to be given that job but she did manage the donor events… Very very interesting. 

Anyway, it ends up being two more weeks before this mysterious meeting actually happens, but boy oh boy was it ever worth the wait.

I am being promoted!!! 

I will be moving into the Events & Engagement department as a Development Officer. This is super exiting because it means that I will now be managing and executing all of the small scale donor engagement events. So lots of parties, cocktail hours, dinners, artist chats, ect. I am so excited to begin this new chapter of my career. It is going to be a fantastic learning experience, it will keep me busy and I am just very very excited.

Here is the thing, the bittersweet thing… I will have to cut back on the amount of blog posting I do. I am by no means going to stop blogging but I’ve been in my new role for a total of a day and I can already tell that it is going to be a busy life style change. I could not be more thrilled about that but I am sad that I’ll have less of an online presence here. My goal is to still post at least once a week but we’ll see how it goes when we get into events season.

Can’t wait to share this new chapter with you all!

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A to Z Quiz

***Please Note: This is a pre-scheduled post. I am currently out of the country (experiencing the world and living life). A small number of posts have been pre-scheduled in my time away. I will respond to comments & questions when I come home. Enjoy!

This is one of those fun (totally narcissistic) quiz things. I actually find filling these things out to be a super interesting activity. Even more interesting would be filling it out again a year from now to see how much I’ve changed. Perhaps I will do that (if I remember). I stole this quiz from The Fitnessista. I encourage you to check out her blog. She is fantastic.

A – Age: 24.

B – Biggest Fear: Being Alone.

C – Current Time: 3:36 pm

D – Drink You Had Last: Water. So much Water.

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: Karin (that’s what BFFs are for)

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F – Favorite Song: “Sleep” by Eric Whitacre – This is a choral piece and it is so incredibly beautiful. Go listen!

G – Grossest Memory: When I was living as a student, a raccoon got into our garbage, in the middle of January. Some raw chicken had been thrown away and maggots had formed. Because it was so cold the maggoty garbage froze to our back porch. So I had to scrape all the frozen yuck off the deck, at night. Thank goodness for rubber gloves and nose plugs.

H – Hometown: Mississauaga, Ontario, Canada.

I – In Love With: Lucas!

J – Jealous Of: Anyone who is part of the Tswift posy. She and I would make such great friends…

K – Kindest Person You Know: My friend, Melanie. She is actually so kind. Next year she is traveling the world to give back to struggling communities. Literally no one is nicer than melanie.

L – Longest Relationship: I dated a guy in high school for 3 years but it was on-again off-again. Lucas and I are nearing our second anniversary, which I think is a pretty long time.

M – Middle Name: Florence

N – Number of Siblings: Three siblings. I’m the oldest but not the tallest. From left to right we have Amy, Tasha, Carter & me.

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O – One Wish: For my living situation to get itself figured out smoothly

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: A customer at work. I answer the phones when patrons have questions about their donation or their tickets.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: “Is that your natural hair colour?” As you can see in the photo below (taken when I was 7) Yes, yes it is.

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R – Reason To Smile: I am healthy, my friends and family are healthy. Can’t ask for more than that.

S – Song You Last Sang: Probably something by Tswift.

T – Time You Woke Up: 6:10 am. Commuter life is the worst.

U – Underwear Color: Blue!

V – Vacation Destination: I’ve got Spain and New Orleans on my brain recently. I can’t complain though since I am currently on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

W – Worst Habit: I like to crack my neck. It drives some people up the wall, but it feels oh-so-good.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: I broke my arm in two places when I was 12, it was pretty obviously broken but the X-ray was done anyway. I’ve also injured my foot a few times. Never broken it but sprained bad enough to need an X-ray to tell.

Y – Your Favorite Food: Potatoes and Popcorn! Not together but in general. Also Pasta. I just like foods that start with the letter P.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Aries.

Thanks for reading!

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Summer Shape Up: Week 4 Update

Well The 4 week summer shape up program is over. Well technically it was over a week ago, but I re-did week 3 because #life. So I’ve been following along with the Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program, it is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. Week two was great in terms of the weekdays but the weekend was not good at all.I was posting my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable, feel free to read and follow along if your interested.

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Food

See last week’s update post to read about the cleanse that I’ve been doing. I finished that up this week and I look and feel fantastic! I will most definitely be continuing to drink the shakes for breakfast from now on and I think doing a cleanse day or two once a month could do a lot of good for me in the long run. My cravings for fatty foods and sugars are mostly gone. Although I have a feeling they will come rushing back pretty quickly. The cleanse has helped in more than just weight, my skin is softer, I have more energy and I don’t have head aches. End result is a very happy Alex.


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: 1 hour long hot yoga class

Tuesday: HIIT Start Cardio & Workout # 3

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Wednesday: Workout # 2

Thursday: Steady State – 2 hours of hiking

Friday: Yoga for weight loss abs & arms

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

I really committed to doing more strength training this week. I discovered that I LOVED the HIIT cardio running. I find HIIT cardio doing body weight exercises is not my favourite thing. But while running I really enjoyed it. I downloaded a free interval timing app and ran outside, alternating between as fast as I could go and slow jogging. While I ran a shorter distance I worked WAY harder. So I think I will try to run a HIIT run at least once or twice a week from now on. I’ve also added a lot of yoga to my routine. It is helping my body to be much less achy from sitting in an office chair all day.


Summary

I am feeling great after this week. Really happy with all of my progress and commitment. However, I realized that l had set a goal of completing all the workouts. I unfortunately did not reach that goal because on Saturday I left the country for a week long vacation in the Dominican Republic. I’m too busy sipping rum and cokes on the beach to worry about working out. That being said, I do feel as if I finished strong. So goal accomplished!

I feel that the whole point of the shape up was to get different types of fitness into the daily routine and that has definitely happened. I cannot wait to participate in the winter shape up later this year!

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Hiking at sunset!

***Please Note: This is a pre-scheduled post. I am currently out of the country (experiencing the world and living life). A small number of posts have been pre-scheduled in my time away. I will respond to comments & questions when I come home. Enjoy!

Garage Sailing

Yesterday I was scrolling through my recent posts and I realized how very “fitness” focused my writing has been recently. Nothing wrong with that, my life has also been rather fitness focused as of late so it isn’t overly surprising. But one of the things I love most about this blog is that it doesn’t fit into any categories. It has a little bit of everything and therefore it isn’t a fitness blog or a travel blog or a creative writing blog, it really is a little bit of everything blog.

Today, I’d like to get back to some random “everything” and write about Garage Sailing. Confused? You should be. The term was made up by putting two completely unrelated words together. Let me explain: On Saturday my friend Kevin and I decided to check out some garage sales. Because we were following the wind (or rather the garage sale signs blowing in the wind), and searching for treasure hidden within tables of useless junk, we got really punny and turned the word sale into sailing (like on a boat, like pirates…). Yes, I know, we are outrageously hilarious and clever.

I went into our treasure hunt with no expectations. If I found a neat bookshelf or bedside table that would have been cool, but there is a backup option at ikea that I’ve got my eye on, so no pressure. If I find something that catches my eye then 10 points for me! If not, oh well. Kevin on the other hand was on a mission, he was searching far and wide for cheap video games. And so the treasure hunt began!

The plan: Drive until we see a sign and then follow the sign. This actually worked out pretty well for us, I didn’t count but I’d say we went to between 8 and 10 garage sales in total. Staying in super residential areas is key!

Unfortunately for Kevin video games are not in season at the moment. We only found one garage sale that was selling games and the one game he was going to buy didn’t have the correct disk in the box. Go figure. We also only found one place selling furniture and there was no bookshelves to be seen. Most of the sales had used children’s clothing and toys, books and other trinkets. Still, by 12:00 pm we had finished sailing and had some great finds to show for it.

Kev walked away with:

  • 8 Broadway, original cast soundtracks on vinyl – $6.00
  • 2 Hockey biographies – $2.00

I walked away with:

  • A hardcover, illustrated edition of Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons”  – $3.00
  • A set of 4 espresso cups and saucers in pastel colours – 50 cents

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All in all I’d say that was some successful garage sailing! Next time we plan to hit up a different neighbourhood and perhaps go out a little earlier in the day. Now all I need is an espresso maker and I am in business!

Have you every gone Garage Sailing? What treasures did you find? Share in the comments!

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Summer Shape Up: Week 3 Update (again…)

I am so happy to announce that I am back on track in terms of my fitness and food. I’ve been following along with the Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program, it is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. Week two was great in terms of the weekdays but the weekend was not good at all.I am posting my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable, feel free to read and follow along if your interested.

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Food

This week has been a little different in terms of food. I feel like I’ve been putting a pretty decent effort into eating better for quite some time. Sure I slip up here and there but on average I eat well and yet… no results. no changes. no nothing. It is incredibly discouraging. So I made the leap and decided to do a cleanse/shake program, just to see if it would make any difference. The topic of cleansing and meal replacement shakes is pretty controversial in the healthy food world. So if you aren’t comfortable reading about it please skip this section of the post. I’m not looking for criticism here, as I said I am sharing this journey on the blog so that I can keep myself accountable.

The company I got the cleanse/shake from is called Isagenix. I have many friends who use Isagenix products and I feel comfortable with the contents so after sone research I decided to give it a go. I am doing the 9 day program. This consists of 2 cleanse days, 5 shake days and then 2 more cleanse days.

On cleanse days you are to take the cleanse juice 4 times throughout the day,  the cleanse snacks 4 times throughout the day (not at the same time as the juice), some vitamin supplements and drink lots of water.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.04.49 PMOn shake days you drink the isaLean shake for 2 meals and have regular (healthy) food for the 3rd meal. I am having my shakes for breakfast and lunch. This way I am still able to participate in my family dinners.I started on Wednesday of last week and so far I feel great. The first cleanse day was actually way easier than I expected it to be. I didn’t feel hungry at all. I had to pee every 25 minutes but other than that I felt good. The second cleanse day was more challenging. The lack of solid food had me in a bit of a grumpy mood but I still wasn’t feeling hungry, just a little more tired than usual. Drinking a shake for breakfast after the cleanse days was so filling. The day of my first shake day was also my summer staff party. It was a lunch time bbq of so much unhealthy stuff. And I didn’t want any of it. The cleanse had basically taken away my desire to consume sugars and fats.

You can already tell just by looking at my stomach that the infamous “pouch” is shrinking. I can’t tell you how wonderful that is. The pouch is the part of my body that I can’t seem to get rid of and I hate it. No amount of exercise and healthy foods seemed to effect it. But the Isagenix is finally making a difference. After this 9 day program is done I will likely continue to drink shakes for breakfast at the very least. Possibly also for lunch. We’ll see. Stay tuned on how I’m feeling after my second round of cleanse days.


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Exercise

Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Yoga only

Tuesday: Gentle steady state – 2 hours of walking

Wednesday: Plank burner + Ab burner

Thursday: 5 mins on the elliptical as a warm up, 20 min weights for arms circuit, 5 min elliptical cool down

Friday: Workout # 3, 25 minute run (3.6 km), 30 minutes of Yoga for running cool down

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Yoga + swimming

I tried to get more strength training in this week. I’m also sticking to my daily yoga. It really makes me feel so good and clam and relaxed. My bet workout of the week was definitely Friday. It incorporated everything, strength, cardio and stretch. The downside is that it took a long time to do it all. So it can’t be a daily thing. But if I could get that type of workout twice a week I’d feel great.


Summary

Wow. All I can say is I am glad I decided to redo week 3. I suppose it doesn’t exactly count because the whole point is for it to be 4 weeks in a row. But personally it is less about that and more about challenging my body in new and different ways and about adding more fitness to my weekly routine. So far I think that is going well. I’m excited to finish strong with week 4. So checking in with my goals from last week. Drink more water. CHECK! Because of the cleanse I have been drinking 4 or 5 very large water bottles throughout the day. This is a HUGE improvement for me and I plan to keep it up. Reduce wheat, dairy & sugar. Also because of the cleanse this has happened. We’ll see if I can adhere to it once the cleanse is over. Complete all workouts. Half check. I did workout a lot but I didn’t follow the schedule. I am realizing that I am not really a fan of high intensity interval training (HIIT). Unfortunately there is a lot (and I mean A LOT) of research that suggests that HIIT exercise is the best way to burn fat and build muscle. Go figure. I much prefer steady state training (ie. running at one pace). I think perhaps I would like HIIT more if I went to a class or something where someone other than myself was motivating me. Anyway, for this weeks goal:

  • Complete all workouts on the schedule
  • Finish Strong!
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Cottage yoga is the best kind of yoga.

Exciting News to Share!

I am thrilled to share some very exciting news!! I’ve been keeping this on the down low for a while but the time has come for me to share with the world!

Regular readers should be familiar with my boyfriend, Lucas. He’s pretty great, so I write about him a fair bit on here. Usually his name pops up because we have gone on some type of adventure together. I suppose sometimes these “adventures” are in reality just everyday activities but everything seems a little more exciting, a little more thrilling when we do it together. I think people call that the relationship “spark”. I guess we have it, phew! Anyway, the point is that he is wonderful and I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life. The reason I am gushing is because the very exciting news is all about Lucas.

After studying finance in college for 3 years he decided that he was ready for an even bigger academic challenge. So he applied to one of Canada’s top universities for business… AND HE WAS ACCEPTED!!! Wooooo!!! I was fairly confident from the moment he applied but getting that letter in the mail, seeing the word “congratulations”, that feels pretty awesome. I am also an alumnus of the same university so I was super pumped to see him apply and be accepted there.

(For those of you who are unaware the Canadian post-secondary education system works like this. A college is where you earn a diploma, usually the learning is more skill based and technical. Whereas university is where you earn a degree and the learning is more theoretical.)

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The bittersweet part is that the school is not in Toronto, so in September Lucas will be moving about 2 hours away from me. As far as long distance relationships go, its not that far AT ALL. But it will feel far since we are currently living together and going from together everyday to not will be super strange. I am confident that our relationship will be just fine, I’m not nervous or anything, just a tiny bit sad. If anyone has some tips and tricks to long(ish) distance dating, I’d be happy to hear!

The good news is that Lucas got a one bedroom apartment all to himself so I can go visit him whenever I’d like and not have to worry about intruding on roommates or anything. The place is amazing! It’s spacious, the kitchen is a great size, and its just nice. Here are a few pictures of the main living space. The bedroom isn’t quite set up yet as we are still using his bed at home in Toronto, but it has a bookshelf!

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In addition to being an awesome place it is in a fabulous location! Right downtown, across the street from a local food market, around the corner from the bars and surrounded by good restaurants. We’ve been moving things up slowly, bringing a few things with us on each trip. Last time we were up there we went to town trying out the restaurants surrounding his building. And we were not disappointed.

Last piece of good news, he looks great in the school’s official colour… PURPLE!!! Congrats darling, I am so proud of you!

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Summer Shape Up: Week 3 Update

Bad news bears friends. I did not do so hot with week 3. The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. Week two was great in terms of the weekdays but the weekend was not good at all.I am posting my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable, feel free to read and follow along if your interested.

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Food

To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina this week, visit her site!

Breakfasts: I went to town on fried eggs and hot sauce this week. Sometimes I kept it healthy by adding avocado, other times I added bread and cheese and all the delicious things.

Lunches: Still LOVING grain bowls, as per this recipe. Got some great advice about cooking brown rice from Ray and this time it was fluffy and delicious! My favourite combo of the week was a greek inspired bowl.

Dinners: Well the week began with all you can eat sushi… I think it went up from there. I had a fantastic quinoa and chicken dish from Moxie’s on Friday. And a delicious and gluten free mushroom pasta dish from a really cool place in Toronto called Harvest Kitchen. I guess I ate out a lot this week.

Saturday & Sunday: This weekend was hot! So I had a lot of Popsicles and ice cream. Which I do not regret for a second. So cool and delicious! But filled with sugar and bad things. I was also in a very “snacky” mood this weekend. So I over indulged on potato chips and popcorn. Let’s just pretend that the weekend didn’t happen.


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene (except this week I failed at this as well, but you can assume that I did it unless I say otherwise)

Monday: Absolutely nothing — not even yoga

Tuesday: Plank Burner + Workout # 4

Wednesday: 1.5 hour Hot Yoga Class

Thursday: Absolutely nothing — not even yoga

Friday: 15 mins of yoga only

Saturday: Absolutely nothing — not even yoga

Sunday: 20 mins of yoga only

I let myself slide this week. Maybe it was the holiday or maybe I just got lazy. The second one is very likely. But I’ll tell you what, I can tell that I’ve been lazy this week. My whole body feels slow and weighed down. I have no energy and I feel sleepy. Obviously not working out, isn’t working.


Summary

As you can see I didn’t get much done in the way of last weeks goals. So I have decided to press RESET and start week 3 from scratch. I figure there is no point in pushing through to week 4 if I accomplished nothing in week 3. I’ve decided to keep the same goals for this week seeing as I didn’t really see them through during this past week. Gina said that staying on track for week 3 is the hardest and she is totally right. Sinking or swimming is a choice and this past week I chose to sink but no more! Today I turn things around. Check back next week for (hopefully) a super positive post about how awesome week 3 2.0 has been.

  • Continue to drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy & sugar intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule
Not remotely related to fitness, but Happy (belated) Canada Day!
Not remotely related to fitness, but Happy (belated) Canada Day from katie & I!

MUMFORD & SONS : A Photo Story

All photos were shot by my dear friend, Samantha Gatez. If you are interested in seeing more of her work go like her Facebook page!

Perfection

Joy

Beautiful

Amazing

Reckless

Love

Magical

Freedom

Mumford & Sons

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To read more about my love for Mumford and my concert going experiences check out these posts:

A Musical Review & A Love Story

I Love Live Music!

Happy CANADA Day!!!

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! There are so many things about this country that are amazing. Seriously, I’m not just saying that! Canada is awesome! So today, I am sharing some of my favourite places and things about Canada. Hopefully it will inspire you to visit!

Toronto, Ontario

Home Sweet Home. Toronto is one of the country’s largest cities and acts as a major cultural hub. I couldn’t even begin to list all the hot spots and attractions available but to name a few. The Skydome Rogers Centre home to the Toronto Blue Jays! The iconic CN tower. Ripley’s aquarium. The Royal Ontario Museum. The Art Gallery of Ontario. See an Opera or a Ballet at the Four Seasons Centre. There is more! So much more but there isn’t room in this post. I’ll do a more fullsum and detailed post about Toronto eventually.

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Ripley’s Aquarium. Me & me stingray friend.
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That is the CN tower above our heads!

British Columbia

My only visit to BC took place over 8 years ago so my details are a bit rusty.. I was also traveling there for a choral festival so I spent most of my trip in a classroom learning music. But we did have the opportunity to visit the famous Capilano Bridge. It is basically a simple suspension bridge, except its 140 meters long and is suspended 70 meters above a river. Exciting & scary all at the same time! I definitely plan on going back to BC one day.

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The Capilano Bridge.

St. John’s, Newfound Land

St. John’s might be one of my favourite places in the whole world. It is by far my favourite place in Canada. The city was stunning. The eastern peak is the farthest east you can be in North America. The whole city smells like sea salt, theres hills all over the place. Quaint little houses. Everything is just so peaceful and calm there. Once again I was traveling there for choir and didn’t get to do half as much sight seeing as I would have liked but I did get to go whale watching!

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Niagara Falls

One of the world’s wonders. The falls and the surrounding area are beautiful. My most recent visit was in the winter so going on a wine tour was out of the question and everything was pretty frozen but still breathtakingly beautiful. Niagara on the lake is also home to the Shaw festival! A fantastic summer theatre festival that runs every year.

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The icy cold falls

The Stratford Festival

The Stratford Festival is my favourite theatre company. Located in (you guessed it) Stratford, Ontario this company started by presenting some of the best Shakespeare in North America. Now the festival (which runs from May to October) presents all sorts of theatre and musical theatre and it always unbelievably amazing. I try to get up there to see a show every year if I can.

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Alex & Mum at King Lear, 2014

White Christmas

Most of the time I hate the cold but it is always nice to have some snow at Christmas time and luckily Canada always has some snow and cold weather for us around the holidays (and long after).

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Cutting down the Folkes Family Christmas Tree

They let my Mama in!

Fun fact: My mum was born and raised in England! She moved to Canada when she was in her twenties, met my dad and never left. But it was only a year and a half ago that she applied for her Canadian Citizenship! It was a very exciting time for my family. She studied really hard for a long time and got 100% on her test. The best part was seeing her receive her certificate.

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Canadian Mama Folkes!

The Cottage

Our cottage is in Muskoka, the true north! It is amazing to be so close to nature all the time. Just a short hour and a half car ride and you are surrounded by trees and water and pure Canadian bliss. I prefer cottaging to camping because you get to sleep and pee indoors but you still get your fill of the great outdoors.

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The Best Part?

The people, obviously. The stereotype of Canadians being nice people exists for a reason. But I suppose I am slightly biased. But seriously, I love my home. I love Canada. Happy Canada Day, everyone!!! True. North. Strong.

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Canada Day 2010