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!

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♫♩ A Musical Review & A Love Story ♥

Everyone has a favourite band. A favourite song. A favourite quote.  For me all of those things come from the same source. Mumford & Sons. The band, in my opinion, can do no wrong. They are flawless, in every sense of the word. There are a number of reasons why I love Mumford. First and foremost, they are spectacular musicians, song writers and performers. You can see, hear and feel the passion that goes into making their music. Secondly, Mumford is the reason I met Lucas.

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You see Lucas and I actually went to the same high school, two years apart (for the record, I am older). We had mutual acquaintances, I had heard his name a few times in passing but we never crossed really paths. In August of 2013  I went with a group of friends to see Mumford play at the Gentlemen of the Road  traveling concert festival. The festival was essentially two days jam packed with live musical acts with Mumford as the closing act on the Saturday night.

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The venue was about 2 and a half hours west of Toronto. I was traveling and camping with a group of 4 girls. Myself, Karin, Sam and Alicia. When we arrived on the Friday afternoon we went straight to setting up camp. That was easier said than done. Do you know how many poles come with a camping tent? So many! Since it was going to take us a while to set up Sam decided to call in reinforcements. Two of her friends from high school who were also at the show for the weekend, Lucas and his buddy Taylor.

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No joke, as they wandered over to our tent disaster I looked at Lucas and thought “who is he? He is very cute. I must know him.” Luckily the feeling was mutual. The rest of the weekend kind of went by in a whirlwind of music, beer, sunshine, dancing and laughing.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

When I think back on that weekend I feel like Lucas and I were inseparable. I think he was by my side from the moment I met him to the end of the weekend when we had to drive home again. But somehow we managed to avoid having a picture taken together. The whole weekend was almost too perfect. If someone had told me that the whole thing was a dream I would have believed them.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

I think there is something magical about music, especially live music, that brings people together. In a lot of ways Lucas and I are major opposites. He is a free-spirited, spur of the moment kind of person. I am meticulous planner and goody-two-shoes. I like to think that we have influenced each other for the better. He has helped me to relax and enjoy the moment and I think I have helped him to find a stronger sense of direction in terms of his goals and such. But I honestly don’t know if we would have had that connection, that spark, if we had met anywhere other than at a concert.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

So you see, I feel as though Mumford & Sons brought Lucas and I together. Naturally I was devastated when they announced their hiatus in September of  2013. They had just given me an amazing weekend, an connected me with an amazing person and all I wanted to do from that moment on was go see Mumford play live music, with Lucas at my side.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

After a very long year and a half they have finally made their way back onto the music scene with their brand new album, Wilder Mind, released on May 4th.

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At first I was really nervous about this new album. In their time off Mumford ditched the banjo, which they were essentially famous for, in favour of a more classic rock inspired sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some classic rock, but to me Mumford is synonymous with indie, and rock isn’t indie. The first single dropped from the album was titled Believe. I’ll be honest, on first listen it felt like Coldplay and I was confused. It was a great song but it didn’t sound like the band I knew and loved. So when the new album finally came out I was expecting to be “meh” about it.

Oh! How happy I am to say that I was wrong! I’m not sure exactly how to explain this but I’ll try my best. There are a number of good songs on the album, there are a number of great songs, and there are a few just okay songs. But as a whole, as one piece, from beginning to end, listened to in the order they intended it is perfect. The album tells a story, the songs compliment each other, the music ebbs and flows through the entire work. While the banjo is noticeably not present the music still feels like Mumford in the vocals, the orchestral background music and in the lyrics. I beg of you, please do not listen to this album on shuffle. Hear it how Mumford intended it to be heard.

I think Mumford and Sons successfully accomplished what Taylor Swift also accomplished with the release of her most recent album 1989. Both Mumford and Swift managed to change their sound without compromising their music or betraying their loyal fan base. I feel that they were able to do so because they made a strong, confident 180. Instead of writing songs, they curated entire albums. And that, I feel, is what makes all the difference. It is a magic that we are lacking today. Because of iTunes we have the “luxury” of picking and choosing songs, rather than listening to entire albums. So a lot of artists make a few great singles and really poor albums. Although with the renewed popularity of vinyl records this is hopefully going to change.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Wilder Mind, do it now! And if you have, what did you think?! Share in the comments!

Holiday Truths & Traditions

Well it sure has been a while since I sat down to write something. Christmas break was wildly busy and when it wasn’t… I was sleeping. Because there is nothing better than a well deserved break.

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My Christmas tree on Christmas Morning!

Let me start by sharing a basic fact of life: Health and fitness is nearly impossible to upkeep during the holiday trifecta. (Definition: the holiday trifecta is the three days of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). That is a proven fact. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a liar or they don’t know how to enjoy life. Either way, don’t trust em.

I had pretty much accepted and embraced the fact that I wasn’t going to be visiting the gym during the holiday trifecta. But for some deluded reason I thought that I was going to stick to a relatively healthy diet. Oh how wrong I was!

Firstly, my 30 day green smoothie challenge didn’t happen. I just couldn’t find the time to chop and blend and clean. I was too busy wrapping and unwrapping and cleaning. Since I skipped a day in week one, and 3 days in week two and I’ll be away in Cuba for all of week three… I’m going to be starting the challenge fresh from day 1 when I come home from my trip. In the meantime, I’ll still be drinking daily green smoothies but they wont count towards my 30 day challenge. giphy

Secondly, between multiple turkey dinners and countless shrimp ring trays health conscious eating didn’t stand a chance. No joke, on Christmas Eve my breakfast was a garlic and cheese flavored pretzel, my lunch was movie theater popcorn and my dinner was  mashed potatoes. Haters gonna hate…

Now, the quick witted among you should be wondering why one of my poor meal choices was movie theater popcorn. I have one word for you, TRADITION! My family, like many others, has a very strict series of holiday traditions. Some of them are tried and true, some of them we invented ourselves. Here is the all inclusive list of Folkes Family Holiday Traditions:

Christmas Eve Afternoon Movie

  • What: Exactly what it sounds like, all 6 of us see an afternoon movie together. Usually the movie is animated and it is always made for kids and families.
  • How it started: When my mother had a 10 year old, an 8 year old, a 3 year old and a 1 year old she decided taking us to a movie was the best way to keep us all quiet for over an hour… at the same time.
  • How long as it been a tradition: This was year number 13. An inclusive list of the movies we’ve seen might find it’s way up here in a few days (stay tuned).
  • This year: We saw Night at the Museum 3. I give it two thumbs up!

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Christmas Eve Family & Friends Potluck Dinner

  • What: Once again, it is exactly like it sounds. A potluck dinner with family friends. Most of the people who come to this thing have been in my life for literally my entire life. We go way, way back.
  • How it started: My mum invited the neighbours over for dinner one Christmas Eve and they have been coming over ever since. As the years went by more and more people were invited. There is now a solid group of 4 families who make an appearance every year.
  • How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
  • This year: Since most of the “kids” are now legal adults we decided to spice things up and play some drinking games! It was a blast. My siblings and I formed a flip cup team and we cleaned house. To be fair my brother wasn’t drinking because he is still a tween, but we still kicked ass. 10891667_10152689839603558_7674013841727582393_n

Christmas Eve Pajamas

  • What: Every year we get new PJs on Christmas Eve. It is mandatory for all kids who attend the potluck to get Pajamas. After we open them we put them on and take pictures.
  • How it started: The idea was that we would be nice and clean for Santa.
  • How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
  • This year: I got a onesie and it is the most comfortable article of clothing known to man. Also, it has polka dots. Check out how great we look in our nice, new PJs. 10408145_10152682773483558_1365065641968790037_n

Christmas Morning Stockings

  • What: In my house Santa leaves the stocking at the foot of your bed. In the morning (around 8 am or so) we all get up and pile into my parents bed to open them together.
  • How it started: As children, my sister and I liked to show our parents what Santa brought us, and we are still doing that.
  • How long has it been a tradition: Since I was about 5, probably.
  • This year: We discovered that we are too big to all fit in the bed, so we moved the party downstairs to our tv room. With the yuletide fire place station on the tv it was one of the most festive stocking opening sessions we’ve ever had.

Christmas Morning Pictures

  • What: After stockings we set up the self-timer and take a group shot in front of the tree.
  • How it started: Someone said “lets take a picture” and we did.
  • How long has it been a tradition: Four years at least.
  • This year: Grandma took the picture because she has figured out how to touch a touch screen. It was a technological miracle.

After the pictures we eat breakfast and open presents when my grandparents arrive. Then its a leisurely day of fiddling with our new things and playing games. This year we really enjoyed the Ellen App, Heads Up.  The day ends with a delicious Turkey dinner prepared by my mum. And the 26th is dedicated to sleeping and eating leftovers.

Share in the comments: What Holiday traditions does your family have?

The Party Animal

I learned some very valuable lessons this weekend; the most important being that I am not a party animal. I wanted to be, I tried to be, I made a valiant effort but I just couldn’t hack it. The party life is not the life for me. I know this because this past weekend pushed me to my party limits. It was 4 days, 4 parties, 1 choral concert, and almost no sleep. And as each party came and went the supporting evidence grew, I am not a party animal.

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Thursday – Staff Party 2.0

You may remember that I had a staff party on Monday. Well, on Thursday I attended a smaller more intimate staff party for my department only. There were about 15 of us in total, we played some board games, we ate deep-fried pub food, and we had free drink tickets. Oh, did I mention that it started at 12:30 in the afternoon… By 5 pm I had consumed 3 glasses of wine and a shot of whiskey. Thank goodness I ordered a coffee before I got on the train or else I would have gotten home at 6:30 pm with a hangover.

Life Lesson: Always order a coffee after day drinking. Always.

Friday – The Holiday Rager

Lucas & I were super excited to host our first party in our shared living space on Friday night. We had food, we had beer pong, we had tequila, but at the end of the day it isn’t any of those things that make a good party, it is the people! And we also happen to have amazing friends, so it was a pretty epic party (not to brag or anything…). To be perfectly honest the end of the night is kind of a blur but rumor has it that things wound down around 4 am. As I said, epic.

Life Lesson: The party will always be epic if your best friends are there.

Saturday – The Choir Concert

I wish I could tell you that I slept in until noon but reality is I woke up at 6:30 in the morning (just two hours and 30 minutes after I went to bed) so that I could catch a ride into the downtown core. On Saturday afternoon my choir was performing, so I had to be there bright and early for rehearsal. Yes, it was just as painful as it sounds. It is times such as these that I thank my lucky stars for the invention of Gatorade and Advil.

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Life Lesson: Singing while developing a hangover is the worst kind of torture. 

Saturday Part 2 –  The Boyfriend’s Sister’s Classy Christmas Party

After 5 hours of rehearsal and 2 hours of concert I found myself with Lucas at his sister’s house. Her Christmas party was much calmer than ours, she had prepared a table of appetizers (the homemade spinach dip was to die for), a meal of Italian lasagna, salad and chicken, as well as a table full of deserts. In addition, her husband made sure that everyone always had a drink in hand. Almost everyone brought a Secret Santa gift and we had fun opening and stealing the gifts. I ended up with a box of sweets from Rocky Mountain Chocolate and Lucas stole a small desk fountain from his brother in-law, which he plans on wrapping and giving back to him on Christmas day. I had a lot of fun but by 11:30 pm my lack of sleep was really getting to me. I left yawning and I was asleep within seconds of putting my head on my pillow.

Life Lesson: A bottle of wine or an LCBO gift card will always be the favourite secret Santa gift. 

Sunday – Your mom’s best friend’s Christmas Party 

This is the day that was designed for staying in bed. Which I did, until about noon (it was glorious). However, on this particular day not moving from morning till night was out of the question as it was Lucas’s mom’s best friend’s annual holiday party. This means socializing with adults who you have never met and will likely never meet again. It means fantastic food and good quality liquor. And it means gravely embarrassing yourself at group pictionary. I really wanted to be polite and social but after one glass of wine I was ready to fall asleep standing up. I ended up standing next to Lucas the entire time, letting him do all the talking and smiling at the appropriate moments.

Life Lesson: Get some caffeine into  your system before this party, now I know for next year. 

Share in the comments! Are you a party animal? How many Christmas/holiday parties have you attended this year? 

The Door Decorating Contest

Today as I opened up my new post page my office mate, Bree, asked me what I was going to post about today and I responded with “the door decorating contest” and she squealed with excitement. Quite literally, she squealed. It was adorable, as is our office door!

Apparently in years of Christmas past the office had a yearly door decorating contest. Last year it was voted out and the office was bland and glum through the holiday season. My boss hated it so this year she reinstated the contest. Our department has approximately 15 people in it, Bree and I share an office and the two of us are known as the PC office. It’s related to our job titles… long story. I wont get into it but Bree and I decided that there was to be no half-assed decorations. If we were in it, we were going to be in it to win it. Bree came up with the brilliant idea of creating an advent calendar and it grew from there.

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For those of you who don’t know, an advent calendar is basically a calendar that counts down to Christmas and each day you get a chocolate. The idea is that each day someone will rip apart the number sealed envelope and then everyone can dig in. This year December first was a Monday so we decided we had to have this up whenIMG_4964 everyone arrived on Monday morning. So we came in on a Sunday, and spent a good 4 hours gluing and cutting and decorating. But this isn’t even the finished product! Each day we are adding decorations to the white background so by Christmas day it will be a master piece!

Want to make your own Office Door Advent Calender? Here is how we did it.

  • Supplies: white bristol board, glitter, construction paper, envelopes, glue, scissors, duct tape, chocolate and creativity!
  • Step 1: Put glitter all over the white bristol board. Make it sparkle!
  • Step 2: Tape your bristol board to your door or window. We made the mistake of using cheap tape and it fell down over night. So the second time around we used good quality duct tape and we taped length wise along the top of each board and then we added tape loops for extra support. This is what is looks like from the back.

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  • Step 3: Cut out your letters. We used Microsoft word to create outlines and then we printed those on to the construction paper and then we cut them out. In the picture below you can see the outline from the printer. Then use tape and glue to stick them to your bristol board backdrop. IMG_4967
  • Step 4: Fold your envelopes to the desired size, we wanted squares, and fill with candy and chocolate! Tape those to the bristol board backdrop.
  • Step 5: Add your extra decorations. We decided to only use green and red decorations on Decemeber 25th. The rest of the decorations are blue. We are making snow flakes, trees, snowmen, Santa hats, gifts, stockings, ect. For step by step instructions on how to make paper snowflakes click here. We have also been using glitter glue to make everything even more sparkly!

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So far we are only 5 days into the count down and our office is loving it! People take turns opening each day and everyone is always so excited to see what is in each envelope. The look of joy in everyone’s eyes, that is why I love this. Also it is awesome. I image that this would be successful in classrooms as well as offices. Check back at the end of the month to see the fully decorated finished product!

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