“Cooking is love made visible”

Cooking

As defined by dictionary.com, is the art of preparing food. The art, not the act, not the practice… The art of preparing food.

I love that. It’s rather poetic, I think.

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Risotto, beef and goat cheese spread, bruschetta and grilled mushrooms.

A few weeks ago I shared that I went to see a therapist; I initially went to see her because I was struggling to adjust and cope with Lucas living far away. I was very afraid that being in different cities would cause us to become distant. In my very first appointment I talked a lot about how I was constantly reminding him how much I cared, loved and missed him. And while he always said it back, I didn’t feel as though he put as much effort into doing the same for me. My therapist, Angelika, immediately introduced me to the 5 love languages.

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Surf & Turf with garlic butter and a green salad.

The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman. He says that there is no right way to express love and that each and every person expresses and experiences love differently. Chapman has broken down these ways of loving into 5 categories or love languages. Any given person may use one or all of the love languages at any given time but it’s very common to value 1 of the 5 languages above and beyond the others.

  1. Giving words of affirmation
  2. Spending quality time
  3. Giving/receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical Touch

As I described above, I highly value the love language of giving words of affirmation. I feel that it is important to tell someone how you feel. Perhaps this comes from my literature background or my theatre background, who knows. All I know is that words have a lot of power and meaning for me, so when I tell someone that I love and care for them, I really mean it.

Lucas, on the other hand, values the love language of acts of service above the others. He feels that it is more important to do something for someone as a means of showing love than it is to simply say it. He is an actions speak louder than words kind of guy.

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Pork tenderloin, asparagus and mango salad.

In his book Chapman explains that it is pretty common for couples to use love different love languages to express how they feel. The issue arises when one or both parties don’t realize that they are speaking different languages. Since learning about the 5 love languages I am have had a much easier time experiencing and expressing love. And not just in a romantic way, towards my family and friends as well. I’m more in tune now to what they need. For example, cleaning the kitchen for my mum means so much more to her than just saying to her that she’s great, although she also appreciates a the words when they are said.

As for me and Lucas; I was feeling down because he wasn’t reciprocating my words of affirmation, ie. He wasn’t expressing love in the language I understand best. Instead he would provide acts of service, for example, cooking me a romantic meal. Being a chef, cooking is Lucas’ favourite way of expressing his love. When I visit him at school Lucas spends most of the day deciding what he’s going to make for dinner. In the afternoon we go shopping and in the evening he cooks! We listen to music, we drink wine, we chat about life and he cooks. I offer to help but he enjoys cooking for me because that is the best way he knows how to express love. And man oh man, do I love him for that.

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Charcuterie board.

“Cooking is love made visible”

Anonymous

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I Went to Therapy and it was totally normal, helpful and not a big deal

It’s no secret that mental health is a stigmatized subject. Research tells us that mental illness affects people of all ages, all educational levels, all income levels and all cultures. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. That is approximately 7 million people! And still people get awkward and weird when the topic of mental health is brought up.

This September I started regularly seeing a holistic therapist, Angelika. This is like the naturopathic version of a normal therapist. The biggest difference being that Angelika doesn’t have a doctorate and so she doesn’t prescribe medication. Most of her methods and techniques focus on belief change using methods such as guided meditation, positive visualizations, supportive mantra’s, hypnosis, ect. It sounds fancy but for the most part my sessions consisted of me talking and her listening, just like in the movies but without the fancy couch.

I decided to start seeing Angelika when I realized I was struggling to cope in everyday life. She had worked with a friend of mine who saw real positive results and I knew that talking to someone was my best option. You see, a lot happened in September. I moved into downtown Toronto, Lucas moved 2 hours away for school, I started a new job. All very exciting stuff but it was a lot all at the same time and as it turns out, I had some trouble adjusting to it all.

One Monday evening in September I went to yoga class to help calm me down. While in the change room, I put my jewelry in a side pocket of my bag. The next morning I went to get my jewelry from my bag and it wasn’t there and I went from panicked to hysterical to ballistic in minutes. I ended up having to call in to work and take the morning off as a personal day. I couldn’t breathe, I was hyperventilating, I couldn’t stop crying. It took hours for me to calm down. Was the jewelry special? For sure. Was it worth that much stress and anxiety? Hell no. It was just the cherry on top of the overwhelmed pie and that was the moment I knew that I needed to get some help asap.

I met with Angelika 5 times over the course of 4 months and it has made such a positive difference in my life. I feel so much more relaxed, I am managing stressful situations better, and I have a much more positive outlook on the big and small things in my life. We talked about all sorts of things but when whittled down most of my fears and anxieties were rooted in communication with others. Communication with Lucas, my friends, my co-workers, my sisters, my parents. With Lucas, it was a fear of being unable to communicate while being far apart and I was so afraid of that happening that I was making it happen. With my sisters, it was a judgement thing. I thought they judged me and so I treated them a certain way in response to what I assumed they were thinking. It put strain on my relationships. Working with Angelika I have learned how to be less hard on myself and less judgmental and presumptuous in my communication with others. My relationship with Lucas (despite being long distance) has never been stronger. We share more now than we did when we lived together and we have learned how to make each visit more meaningful. Also, my relationship with my sisters is so much better. We used to bicker all the time, which is normal for sisters but was also very sad. For the first time in my life it feels like my sisters and I are friends rather than frenemies and it feels so good!

In October I slipped up while talking with a co-worker and said “oh I was talking with my therapist about that this morning”. He looked at me like I had three heads. At the time I was embarrassed. Even though I was making so much progress, I was proud of myself and I felt like I was controlling my life instead of my life controlling me. I was embarrassed that I had admitted this secret to someone. But now I am realizing that I have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. So I need someone who is unbiased to listen to me vent every once in a while, so what?! It’s healthy! I’m getting things, emotions, thoughts and feelings out into the open and then dealing with them in a rational and clearly thought out way. The way I see it, everyone should be taking the time and energy to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about, it would make the world a much nicer place.

So if you have been thinking about therapy, any kind—do it! Let this post as a sign! Yes, the first appointment is awkward and weird and nerve-wracking but also so incredibly worth it. Let them think that I have three heads… I feel great and that is all that matters.

How on earth is it already December?!

Oops. I did it again.

I let another 5 weeks go by without a post.

Honestly, I have no idea how it’s already December! Time is literally flying! In my last post I shared about my new role as an event planner. I am still loving the new position and it’s still super busy but to use my job as an excuse again would be dishonest.

I’ve just been lazy.

Okay, that is also not entirely true.

Life has been busy. Not just work, life in general has been busy. It’s actually quite a shame that I haven’t been posting because I have had some good stories to tell. Anyway, recently when I get home in the evenings I find it much more appealing to do nothing (like literally nothing) than to sit down and concentrate on writing a blog post.

But I like sharing my stories and adventures and goals and happenings, I like writing. So let this be my second attempt at getting back into blogging.

For my first post “back” let’s recap the exciting goings on of October & November.

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This year for Halloween Lucas and I went as Clarke Kent and Lois Lane. It was a pretty last minute costume. Lucas wanted a costume where he could wear a suit. So this seemed like a pretty easy option. It sort of felt like I was just wearing my work clothes. When Lucas wasn’t around people asked me if I was a boss… Which is a great question to be asked most of the time but on Halloween it wasn’t exactly what I was going for.

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Still, we had fun getting dressed up together. The party that we went to was a little bit of a let down. It was advertised as a blow out dance party at a dance hall but it ended up being a small amount of people in a very large room. Do you remember how awkward dances were in middle school? That’s basically what this Halloween party felt like.

It was at this awkward party that I decided that I don’t like going out. Expensive drinks, strangers, excessively loud music. Nope. No thank you. I would much rather go to a house party where the drinks are free, the people are friendly and the music is the most perfect volume (it’s also the perfect playlist because it’s your iPod). I think it must be the event planner in me, but I would so much rather host a party than go out to a bar. But hey, that’s just me. Speaking of hosting parties, my roommates and I hosted our first (and presumably only) house warming party!

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This is Jessie, Karin, Katie and me. Obviously.

We’re pretty fun and exciting people and we were super pumped about our party. I have to say, despite a slight hiccup, the party was a huge success. Lots of people came out and we all had a great time. The hiccup was a hour long power outage around midnight. Normally complete and total darkness would end a party pretty quickly. But we got some candles and the party kept going well into the morning.

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Another major highlight of this past month was one of my work events. Our annual fundraising gala! This is a big event for us because its a 3 parter. First is a singing competition. A selection of the country’s best opera singers compete for the title of Canada’s next Opera star. It’s a bit like american idol for opera. The audience gets to vote and everything. Part two is a classy little cocktail hour. And for part three, about 300 people join us on stage for a gala dinner. It is incredibly grand! The decor was my favourite part.

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Photo by Ikonica Images

Aside from those major events, I’ve been trying to revamp my workout routine. More on that in another post. I’ve also been reading a lot. Trying to keep up with my goal of reaching my 50 books, although I probably won’t reach that goal this year. Again, more on that later.

All in all a pretty great fall. And now onto an even better winter! Only 19 days till Christmas!

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Life as an Event Planner

Hello Blog world,

It’s been a while, eh? I’ll be honest; I’ve been actively avoiding my blog. I hate admitting that but there is no sense lying. As per usual I have a long list of excuses and I can’t even begin to explain them all in this post because two months’ worth of excuses would make for a hella long post. So instead I am going to share just one of my excuses, which I briefly talked about before my long hiatus.

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Photo by: Inna Yasinska

I was promoted to the events team at work in August and man oh man, it has been so busy! I originally predicted that I would be posting once a week with the new job, I obviously under estimated how crazy busy event work can be! In my old position I worked the good ol’ 9 to 5, now I am still doing 9 to 5 but I am also putting in evening and weekend hours for all the events. I don’t mind doing the extra time, in fact I need the extra time in the day to get everything ready for the events. It just means I have less of my own down time and recently when I have had down time I’ve used it to read or hang out with my roommates or catch up on all the new fall tv. That is why the blog has been neglected.

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Photo by: Henry Chan

Despite LOVING my new role, I have missed blogging and everything that comes with it. I’ve missed reading and responding to comments, I’ve missed reading other people’s blogs, and most importantly I’ve missed the activity of self-reflection that blogging allows me to do. So I am going to try really hard to be a little more present here again now that life has calmed down a little. I won’t make any promises on how often I’ll be writing and reading but you can expect it to be more frequent than the last little while.

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Photo by: Dave Cox

I figured since I’ve been so busy with my events I should talk a little more about those. I am responsible for planning and executing all of my company’s engagement events. That is small scale events that encourage involvement between the company and the patrons. That could mean a number of things; a cocktail party featuring a musical performance, a dinner and an educational chat, or an opening night celebration party!

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Photo by: Joey Lopez

A lot of what I do is coordination but sometimes I get to make decisions like what the menu will be, the floral arrangements, what linens and décor to use. I know it seems trivial but this stuff can make or break the atmosphere of a good event. I have learnt so much already in my short time in this role. The fall events are over now so I’ve got a bit of a cooling off period before it is time to gear up for all the winter events. I can’t wait to use my new knowledge and make the next events even better!

To see more of my events and behind the scenes photos follow me on Instagram: @canadianopera_events

Photo by: Inna Yasinska
Photo by: Inna Yasinska

So here’s to my mum and dad!

I just have to take a moment and tell the whole wide world just how wonderfully amazing my parents are. Seriously! There are not enough descriptive words out there to describe how just how incredible they are.

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Cutting the cake at their 25th Wedding Anniversary Party
Firstly, let me point out that there are 4 of us. Yup 4 kids! By today’s standards that just a pretty big family. And the age difference is decently spaced as well. I’m 24, my first younger sister is 22, my second younger sister is 17 and my brother is 14. So they had toddlers with teenagers and now they have teenagers with emerging adults (which is basically the same thing as a toddler). That alone sounds like a challenge, right?! Well on top of just raising us to have good manners and be normalish human beings they managed to come to every dance recital, hockey game, choir concert, baseball game, play performance, and got us to every rehearsal and practice in between. If that isn’t superhuman powers then I don’t know what is.
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Our big ol’ family.
Once when I was in third year, my university friends and I decided to book a vacation to Cuba. We had everything figured out except for how to get from London, Ont. (where we went to school) to the Toronto airport. It’s about a 2 hour drive. We looked into shuttle buses and taxi’s but it was all so expensive and so complicated. So I was venting to my mum one afternoon about how much money I was going to have to shell out for an overnight shuttle bus and she said “oh don’t do that, your dad will come get you” and next thing I knew my dad was picking up me and 4 of my friends (and all our luggage) from London. He drove us back to Toronto where my mum fed us a fantastic home cooked meal, she then set us all up with beds in the living room and then at 3 am my dad woke us up to drive us all to the airport for our 6 am flight. Then a week later he picked us all up and drove us all back to London again.
My parents have also helped me to move in and out of 4 houses in 3 different cities over the course of 6 years. And somehow every moving day is excruciatingly hot. One time we opened my storage unit to find that a fine layer of mould was covering everything. So I’m addition to moving everything from point A to point B, they helped me to wipe everything down with bleach and water before carrying it into my new place. And they took all the un-salvageable stuff to the dump for me.
They let my friends use the cottage for free, my dad lets Lucas drive the boat, and at the age of 24 my mum will still pick me up from the train and drive me home to Lucas’ house if it is cold and I’m getting home too late. All that and so much more. They do so much all the time and they never ask for anything in return. Give. Give. Give. And just when I thought I had seen the  most of their kindness hey went above and beyond again. This time not only for me but also for Lucas.
We needed to get his furniture to his new apartment in London but after a series of unfortunate events Lucas couldn’t do any heavy lifting and we also couldn’t get a moving truck. We thought we were stuck. for real, I thought Lucas would be sleeping on an air mattress in an empty apartment for the first two weeks of school. But my parents stepped up and came through for us again. Since they were making a day trip out to London anyway they took a load of Lucas’ heavy furniture all the way to his new apartment. That is a two hour drive and up a flight of stairs and everything. (Naturally today is very hot). The kicker, Lucas and I weren’t even there to help they did it all on their own. And again asking for nothing in return and without a single complaint.
I’ve always known that I was loved. I’ve always known that I was lucky to have parents who are willing to give me so much but it’s just now as I’m entering adulthood that I understand why they do what they do. I think it’s more than just love. I think it’s the fact that they truly want nothing more than to see their children happy. And so they don’t buy us fancy toys or spoil us with money, instead to do everything in their power to help us succeed, to help us be the best versions of ourselves. Now I’m not saying they are perfect parents, my family is just as dysfunctional as the next family and I really do feel that nothing and noone is ever perfect, but there is no denying that my parents are pretty darn fantastic.  So thank you, thank you, a million times thank you for all that you do for us. I know that if I can give to my children and loved ones as much as you have given to me then I will have succeeded in life.
So here’s to my mum and dad. Thank you, again. You are both incredible. I love you.
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DIY (DIL) Headboard – Guest Post

10325566_10152251867498558_7461660517919616239_nToday’s guest post is brought to you by the infamous Lucas. My boyfriend, if you read regularly you will know that I talk about him a lot because I love him and we do lots of fun things together. He recently built me the most wonderful headboard for my new grown up apartment. More on that in another post (I am so behind on the life updates). Anyway, we thought it would be fun if he shared a guest post about how he created this DIY or rather DIL (Do It Lucas) headboard. Take it away darling!


So Alex likes to come up with projects that she wants to work on together but the majority of the time I end up doing the whole thing.  Now this isn’t because she can’t, it’s because I am extremely particular in the way things are done and a complete perfectionist when it comes to, well, everything. There are few people who I allow in my kitchen or workshop.

So this project started out with us working together, and it finished with my good friend Taylor and I putting the finishing touches on the revitalization.

Alex had first envisioned an old wooden door repainted, partially stained to age it and rigged up to attach to her bed frame…. I was not a fan. But I sucked it up and went searching for this mystical door on my lunch hour only to find nothing that would work. However while searching for a door I happened to stumble upon this ratty headboard for $30.  Alex liked the bones and I knew that we (I) could make it in to something she would love.

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We (Alex) started out by sanding off the nicotine and smell of smoke, roughing up the paint so we could get the process underway.  I proceeded to remove the mirror from the Masonite backing.  I ended up shattering the mirror so off to home depot we went for supplies.

  • 1 4’x8’ piece of Masonite (Hardboard)
  • 2 receptacles
  • 2 receptacle boxes
  • 1 roll of romex wire
  • 1 male plug end
  • 1 can of teal paint

And of course a narrow crown stapler, 5/8” staples, assorted screws, Killz primer, paint brush, rollers etc. all of which we had on hand. Next stop was Ikea for the reading lights that would be mounted to the headboard.

Once we had all of our supplied I was able to cut the holes for the new receptacles using an oscillating tool and a plunge cut blade.

We (actually both of us this time) primed the entire headboard to mask the remaining smell of smoke and so the paint would stick.

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Once that dried it was time to enter paintland (paintland is this horrible place filled with paint rollers, brushes, tape, impossible corners that need to be cut in and of course, PAINT.  I actually despise painting anything and everything).  This is where the project turned in to a Do It Lucas activity, again, not because Alex can’t paint but because I don’t like the way that she does it (I’m a little bit crazy if you haven’t already figured that out yet).

I meticulously applied 2 coats of the tealest, teal paint you will ever see.  Then cut the trim and shelves in white.

[Alex input: This is the part where it gets complicated. Everything up to this part could totally be done by anyone. While the rest is one of those things that you probably shouldn’t attempt unless you have the know-how, which lucky for me Lucas does!]

Next was the electrical.  This is against code and should be done by a professional but it really is simple to safely wire up 2 receptacles and a plug.

This part is boring so I’m going to move quickly…

  1. Install receptacle boxes
  2. Feed and strip wire between the 2 receptacles
  3. Attach the wires to the receptacles (Ground to the box, hot to the gold screw, neutral to the silver)
  4. Same thing on the other side but connect a plug to the tail end.  This will feed both receptacles
  5. Finish with faceplates

Safe to say Alex was not involved in this process, safety first!

Next we screwed the lovely Ikea reading lamps to the headboard, stapled the power cord to keep it clean and plugged in to the receptacles.

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Voila!  It was done, only took 3 evenings after work, intertwined with another very large art installation that Taylor and I have been working on. And if I’m being honest, most of that time was spent waiting for paint to dry and drinking beer.

End result, Alex has a beautiful one of a kind headboard that you will never see in anyone else’s bedroom. She’s happy and therefore I am happy.

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– Lucas

Clouds

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You’re welcome for the free advertising Westjet
I got really lucky on our flight to the Dominican. I got the window seat. Generally when it comes to planes, trains, buses and cars, I don’t care where I sit but if I had a choice I’d always pick the window.
See I like a window view because when you travel there is always something to see. I hate it when people take window seats and then keep the shade shut the entire time. Where is the fun in that?!  I like to see how all the roads snake around each other looking like tangled spider webs from up high. I like to see all the little cars looking like they are hardly moving at all. I like to see how short a skyscraper can look. But most of all I like to look at the clouds. There is something about cloud watching that is so much more fascinating from above.
There are small little tuffets of clouds all lined up in rows. I see fields of strawberry bushes in those clouds.
There are lonesome mediocre sized clouds. Just suspended in space and time, casting shadows on the ocean below.
There are large fluffy marshmallow clouds. I see castles In these clouds. Imagine that, a castle made from cotton candy fluff. White and warm and bouncy! It sounds marvellous, doesn’t it. When I was a child I believed that the tooth fairy lived in a cloud castle, sometimes when I’m looking out a plane window I still believe it. Clouds just seem like the perfect home for fairies.
I also see flowers, space ships, cruise liners. I guess you could say that my head is in the clouds and you know what, it is beautiful up here.

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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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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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!