LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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10 Things I Miss About Calgary

Yesterday I posted “Ten Reasons We Love Life In Chicago” – but I didn’t want Calgary to get jealous! There are definitely some things that we do miss about Calgary, after all I did compose a love letter for Calgary about a year ago which I will post soon.

Ironically, as I type this… it is SNOWING in Alberta… like real snow. It’s May 6th, 2015. Guess which picture is taken today in Calgary and which picture is taken today in Chicago:

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I wish this was a joke, but it’s just a way of life. No one is surprised by this, yet nobody welcomes it either.

Okay, let’s get on with it shall we? Obviously, I miss our friends and family…  let’s collectively “awww” over that for a minute…   I also really miss our accent! Yeah, I know you are reading this and think to yourself “I don’t have an accent…” But we really truly do! I get SO excited to hear it when I speak to most of you… people from Northern Alberta have it the most. “Eh”, “sorry”, “about”, etc are all very true to the stereotype… and I’m darn tooting’ proud of it! Alrighty then, let’s move on to what I miss about the city itself, shall we:

1) Second Cup – The Pumpkin Spice Latte and Gingerbread Latte seriously makes me homesick during the winter time. There is no comparison. Suck it, Starbucks… their PSL is more like StarSucks.

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2) Waves Cafe – The caramel frappes in the summertime are in a whole new playing field then all of the other frappes in the world. Yeah, I said it… I totally go whappe for their frappe!

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3) The Memorial Trail Stairs – Those stairs are a lung burner, a thigh burner, a butt burner… but I LOVE them so much for these reasons! I cannot find a hill, let alone stairs, in Chicago to improvise on. I loved the commadery and respect of other stair lovers as well. “Started from the bottom….”

 

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4) Glamorgan Bakery – Cheese Buns. And donuts. And sausage rolls. And cream puffs. And cheese buns again. Hint: microwave the cheese bun for 10 seconds and your life will forever be changed into a ooey gooey cheesy goodness!

 

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5) Rat Free since ’93 – don’t quote me on the year, it just has a nice ring to it. Rats.. gross. Dear Americans reading this… yes, it’s true!

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6) Plus Fifteens – Best winter invention ever. Working downtown and walking through the secret passages from building to building deserves a Nobel Prize. Especially during the 8 month winters. I didn’t realize these were not in every city until I moved away… they are an absolute necessity in life.

 

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7) Jelly Modern Doughnuts – After one bite of their donuts, you’ll be willing to spend more than $3 per donut.

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8) Eau Claire Park and Stephen Ave – I used to love going to Eau Claire during my lunch hour to break up the day or else sitting on a patio on Stephen Ave drinking my day away

 

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9) Floating Down The Bow River – Can you miss something even if you’ve never done it? I was always dying to do this… One day!

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10) The Mountains – Have to give it to them… those mountains sure keep ya wanting to come back for more. We got engaged in the mountains, had our mini honeymoon in the mountains… so many special moments happen in the majesty of the Rockies!

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YES PLEASE!

 

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Calgary, you are where I became my true self. Where I met the man of my dreams. The place where I realized that life didn’t have to have limitations… That I decided settling wasn’t an option for me. Calgary, you were only my home for 5 years, but you will always hold a place near n’ dear to me.
I miss you, ya cold son of a gun!
And Albertans, I miss you too… Cheers ya tough troopers!
P.S. you definitely have the Canadian accent in case you are still in denial 🙂

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Enjoy Life,

Lisa

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10 Reasons We Love Life in Chicago

We have been in Chicago for just over a year now and in some ways it seems like we just got here yesterday, but in other ways it feels like this has been our home for a while. The year has been a whirlwind adventure, but I wouldn’t trade this experience we’ve been able to share for the world. Although I now know way too much about Visa’s then I would ever care to know, there is nobody else in this world who I would rather be on this journey with then my amazing husband, John.

 

 

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I’ve tried to make a video about our one year in Chicago, but apparently I am not tech savvy enough to do so. Therefore, out of frustration, I have put together a list of why we love this gosh darn city so much!

Top Reasons We Love Life in Chicago:

1) Unhealthy Food! From popcorn, to deep dish pizza, to italian beef, to hot dogs… it’s paradise! Cue “paradise” song from Bachelor in Paradise…  When we first moved here, I ate like we were on vacation every weekend… turns out, my jeans weren’t stretching with the rest of me… Jerks. 

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2) The Weather! People LOVE to bitch about the weather, and although it is now May 2015 people are still complaining about the winter in 2014. One thing I’ve learnt about winters since living in Chicago… Canadians and Chicagoans measure snow very differently. We didn’t need our “real” winter gear this year at all and it is so wonderful living somewhere where there are actual Springs and Falls!

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3) The Beaches! Who knew a ginormous city could boast so many beautiful beaches off of one lake!? I love the beaches here.

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4) The architecture… also referred to as Chi-tecture. It’s something that photos don’t do justice, looking at all of the incredibly diverse buildings in an experience in itself.

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bridges

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5) Free parking! Or if you have to pay for parking, it’s extremely cheap compared to what we are used to. Free parking seemed to only exist in Monopoly in Calgary…

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6) Flowers & Art! Throughout the city, there are beautiful flowers planted. And not just pansies… but hydrangeas, etc! Chicago prides itself on having amazing art sculptures, paintings, etc and you can’t help but be impressed by how beautiful the city is!

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7) Diversity: Until living in Chicago, I always lived where the people were predominantly white. I love learning about other cultures, influences, food, etc. If you choose ten random people on the street, there will be a handful of different races in that group. I love it. I was talking to my friend the other day and had mentioned Bridget Jones Diary, and he had no idea what I was talking about! That blew my mind! Things like that make me realize how ignorant I can be to just assume that my normal is somebody else’s normal. 

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8) Restaurants/Pubs/Breweries/Wineries/Cafes … need I go on?

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Cheers!

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9) Baseball games! I will never ever, ever, EVER get sick of watching a Cubs or Sox game. The whole city comes ALIVE and they are so proud of ALL of their sports teams.

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10) SO MUCH TO DO ALL THE TIME!!!! If somebody ever says that they are bored in Chicago, then the city itself is not the problem…. From Second City, to Blues music, to Jazz music, kayaking on the river, paddle boarding on the lake, to visiting the Bean, or going skating in front of the Bean in the winter! There are so many free events that happen all throughout the summer and even the winter. There are tons of museums, including the Art Institute that just won Best Museum In The World award, an incredible planetarium, the Field Museum, etc. There are AMAZING parks, the lake side goes on for miles, and miles, and miles, and it NEVER gets old. There are free fireworks over the lake every single Wednesday and Saturday night throughout the summer. There are parades, which can be really annoying when you live on the same street as the darn parade. And the shopping is absolutely ridiculous too.

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The city is just so alive and people who live here have such pride in living in Chicago. It’s amazing! There is a city of Chicago Flag, and you will see that bad boy almost anywhere you go.. from clothing, to bumper cars, to flailing in the wind, dog collars, etc…

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There is a huge sense of pride in living in such an amazing city, and there should be. We are proud to be part of the city as well.

I could go on and on about how amazing Chicago is and how much we love it, but I’ll never do the city the justice it deserves. It’s a city that needs to be experienced. So, my lovely, put Chicago on your bucket list if you’ve never been here before… the only thing you’ll regret is not coming to Chicago sooner!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Year Ago I Quit My Job To Move To Another Country With My Husband

Holy crap – One year ago today, we gave our two week’s notice to our jobs and told our friends/family that we were packing up and moving to the US in two weeks. That was one of the toughest things in the world to keep a secret, as we weren’t sure until the very night before that we would actually be moving.

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We had to list our home and keep that as a secret from our friends, which sucked because if friends wanted to come over we would have to come up with some sort of excuse/dirty lie so that they wouldn’t see the For Sale sign in our lawn. 

We had to figure out if we should sell our house, then we had to actually sell our house when that decision was made (thanks Dad). We had to sell all of our belongings (I was an effin Kijijii ninja), figure out what the shit we were getting into, try and manage the thousands of pounds of paperwork that was coming our way that we didn’t understand, figure out if we should keep our car, if we should hire movers or if we should rent a U-Haul and drive a trillion miles, keep a documented spreadsheet with every single item listed with a value that we had to present to the always so friendly peeps at the border, cross our fingers that our Visas would actually get issued. We were homeless and jobless for a few days and it was utterly terrifying…. yet thrilling!

Everything fell into place for us literally seconds before manic panick mode struck… John’s offer was unconditional on the Friday, our house closed at 11:58pm on the Monday, and we quit our jobs the very next morning so that we could LEAVE the country in 15 days to make John’s start date. Ideally we would have given more than two weeks notice, but we didn’t have that luxury. Our renewed passports arrived the day before we left the country. We both had a sense of relief knowing that things would get a little less hectic after we arrived in Chicago, but little did we know that things were going to get ten fold more hectic once we actually got here. The hectic-ness was just getting rollin’…

I look back at the excitement, fear, and courage on the day where we were able to spill our secret and by golly goodness, I am so damn proud of us for taking one hellllll of a risk. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking chances… about how it’s really just about overcoming your fears. I’ve come to realize that every time you take a big risk in your life, no matter how it ends up, you’re always glad you took it.

Enjoy Life,
L


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Our Adventures Five Years In

Five years ago I met the man of my dreams. In fact, as time has passed, I realized that he has surpassed the man of my dreams on so many levels. Is it possible to feel as if we just met yesterday yet also feel like I’ve known this person my whole life?

When John and I met, we both felt all sorts of strong emotions that neither of us had ever felt before. After all this time, those strong emotions have gone away… but only to become fiercer, more intense and stronger than ever before!

When we first met, we were young. I was finishing up university and John was three weeks into his career. We happened to work for sister companies in the same building downtown and only three flours separated us. Since I was still finishing up school, I only worked part time but the days that I did work we would each leave our houses at the perfect time so that we could meet before work at our special spot and walk the few blocks together hand in hand. We would meet for lunch at least once a week and our coworkers would both make comments to us about how cute we were when they saw us together. We still meet each other for lunch once a week, even if that meant that a 12 block walk or a train ride just to see each other for twenty minutes and for that midday smooch. Since day one, we’ve never been able to get enough of each other and I’m so happy to say that we still can’t.

We have gone through so many life changes together and I can’t imagine what our life will look like when we get to a decade. Over the past five years, between the two of us there have been five moves, five jobs, three vehicles, two countries and a puppy! There have been ups and downs, positives and negatives but the one thing that has never wavered has been the love and respect for one another.

Although our looks and hair have changed a bit over the past five years, the way we feel about each other surely has not. We are celebrating this weekend by doing five things that we have never done before… today we kickstarted the “events” by going some place new for lunch.

Sticking with the “five” theme, here are five photos for each year that we’ve been together to highlight some of our favourite memories together:

2010:

Our First Road Trip

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Our First Calgary Stampede Together

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A fancy dinner and evening at the Calgary Tower celebrating our 6th month anniversary

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On “our bench” we discovered our on our first trip to the mountains together. This is where John eventually proposed. EEE!
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At Heritage Park in the fall time. Being our silly, sassy selves.

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2011:

Pre St. Patty’s Day Green Beer Chugging

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A helicopter ride in the mountains to celebrate one year together

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Christmas at my parents new home

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My University Graduation

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BBQ’inq and drinking beer in our backyard

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2012:

We had a stay-cation in Calgary and went to Calway park for the day (amusement park for kids)

 

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We “I do’d”

 

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We mini-honeymooned in the Mountains. This is canoeing on Lake Louise

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An autumn stroll in a park close to our home

 

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2013:

Watching the sunset together in Whitefish, Montana

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Enjoying our honeymoon in Punta Cana!

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Just hiking n’ stuff in the mountains

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ERNIE!!!

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A trip to Edmonton

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We ran stairs here ohhhh too many times to count. The view was always worth it at the top.

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Just a typical Saturday…

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Walking in the provincial park right next to what was supposed to be our Forever Home

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Celebrating Christmas in said Forever Home

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2014:

Hiking in Palm Springs and keeping an extra cautious eye out for snakes

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Leaving our Calgary life behind for our Chicago life

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Drinking beer at our favourite place

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One of many “selfies” of us on my favourite bridges in Chicago

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Deeeeeeeeeeep Dishhhhh

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We’ve been to 2 Cubs games and 2 Sox games… we liked the hot dogs equally

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What our summer Saturdays typically look like now

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2015  has already been an amazing start and we are SO excited to see what else we can get up to in the next five years! And fifteen years! And fifty years!

Thank you, Lovely, for taking the time to read and celebrate with us! Cheers to you!

I love you, Honey, and I wouldn’t want to go on this adventure with anyone but YOU!

Enjoy,
L


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A Year Ago Today… And NOW!

A year ago today, John and I came to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. We had five days off and we narrowed our options down to Mexico, Vegas, California and Chicago. John had been to Chicago before to visit his parents when his Dad had worked here for 3 years and he always told that I would love it. So, because of an awesome Flight Centre package deal we saw Chicago was the chicken dinner! Thank you, Flight Centre!

I loved Chicago from the very first night that we had spent here. We didn’t get to our hotel until about 9:00pm but there was no way that we were just going to have a quiet night and shut it down early. So we spruced ourselves up and went exploring! That night we discovered our favourite place to go, which to this day is still our favourite place to go! The nachos, $4 beer, ambiance and location won us over and they keep winning us over again, again and again!

 

 

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THEN – at the Bean

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NOW – at the Bean

During our five days here, we did a lot of exploring, eating, drinking, Cubs baseballing and shopping! A perfect way to spend your first anniversary together, wouldn’t you agree!? We took a gazillion pictures and we dreamed out loud about moving to Chicago. We were just playing make belief but we dreamed about working together again in the same building downtown, buying a cool loft condo smack downtown and living the urban life, going to all these trendy spots during the week because we were so cool, etc, etc. But then we would play devil’s advocate and go on about how much we would miss our family, friends, our friends kids, our Calgary life which was safe, simple and the norm. We went on about how if we did live the Chicago life how John would have to work 2,000 hours per week and how we would never have time to live the cool lifestyle… but we never stopped talking about our make belief life even after we got home.

We would watch Mike & Molly and whenever we would see the skyline on the intro to the show we would sigh a dramatic sigh snuggled up together in our home in the ‘burbs. We would go on and on and on about how green the grass must be on the other side, and then we would come back to reality and give our heads a shake. There was no way we were moving to Chicago. Ever. We loved our Calgary home and the chances of us ever leaving Calgary because of John’s job were slimmer than a Slim Jim.

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Until…. there were some hypothetical knocks on John’s door bribing him to bring his family to the US. We ho’d and hummed and thought “what the hell” let’s see what could happen…. turns out moving to Chicago a couple months later is exactly what not only could happen, but did happen! Like every big decision, there has been highs and there has been lows, but we wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently (well that’s not true… we would never have sold our townhouse and bought our “forever home” only to sell it 6 months later… but aside from that.)

A year ago today, we were in Chicago as tourists dreaming about John and I working together in the Aon building. Living in a loft condo downtown. Doing trendy things and going to trendy places. Wearing weird clothes that I would never wear in Calgary. A year ago today, we stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and ate frozen yogurt in River North. We shopped in the Loop. We went sight seeing. A year ago today, we had suitcases to take us back to our reality back in Canada….

 

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Today, we are living smack downtown Chicago. We are not working together in the same building, but the job situation is even better than what either of us could have predicted. We do trendy things and go to trendy places. I’ve never heard of a “wine flight” until we moved here. I wear weird clothes like jumpsuits and scarfs in my hair. A year ago I was sad that we didn’t get to end up seeing Buckingham Fountain. Buckingham Fountain is now our neighbour and Ernie and I walk by it every single day. Today we are living a life that we dreamed about a year ago… except our reality is far greater than our dream!

 

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My First Wine Flight

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My Second Favorite Neighbour

Lovely, it’s funny how life can change so much in a year… it’s funny in the best way possible. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for the next year ahead!

Enjoy Life,
L


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Liebster Award – Numero 2! Encore, Encore!

Although I was just nominated for this award not too long ago, I’ve been nominated once again from Autumn! So thank you very much, Autumn! I appreciate it hugely and graciously accept!

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So here we go again, folks! The rules are here in case you forget them.

11 Random Things About Myself

1. I do not do fake cheese… ie. velveeta, american cheese, space cheese… no thanks
2. I love dolphins and have gone swimming with them in the wild in New Zealand
3. As a kid I used to hate cookies, donuts and pizza.. my parents called me the Fruit Monster because I loved fruit so much
4. For the majority of my life, I’ve had a dog as a pet
5. I can’t wait to go to Thailand, Vietnam and Bali one day
6. I’m not extremely tech savvy
7. I could eat 5 pound of king crab all to myself (well, I’m up for the challenge anyhow)
8. I love small, thoughtful gestures that make someone feel special
9. My older sister looked like Annie when she was a kid
10. I drove a packer/roller for a construction site one summer
11. I can hold my own in a chess match

Questions From Autumn

  1. Stripes or Polka Dots?

    Both 🙂

  2. Signature Starbucks drink?

    Depends on my mood…  I like a gingerbread latte in the winter, an iced caramel macchiato in the summer with extra caramel, an iced tea if I’m not feeling coffee…

  3. What’s your best feature, in your opinion? (Self love, y’all)

    I’m thoughtful

  4. If you could live in another era, which era would you choose?

    I will also require an explanation…I like this era. I like life now 🙂

  5. Who inspires you?

    My Mom. She was one of the greatest teachers there ever once was.  She worked endless hours and did so much for her students because she loved them. She spend her evenings doing schoolwork and spent her summer in her classroom preparing for her kids. From a daughter’s perspective she put way too much thought and consideration into every single report card and it always took her forever to do them because she would never write anything generic. Looking back, I love that about her. She always did so much extra for her kids and she would do it year after year after year without getting the recognition she deserved. As an adult, I realized that she did so much for her kids because she loved them… not because she wanted a pat on the back.

  6. Describe your perfect day.

    My favourite kinds of days are going on new adventures to places I’ve never been before with people I love. Eating good food. Drinking good wine and/or other bevs. Going to the beach. Watching the sunset. Smelling fresh flowers.

  7. Favorite way to relax and de-stress?

    Ideally a day at the spa! Followed by wine.

  8. Describe one quirk about yourself.

    Oh boy… I have many. I can’t and will not finish the last bit of liquid at the bottom of my drink. The thought of backwash has taunted me from my childhood days.

  9. What was your childhood dream?

    So cheesy… to meet my Mr. Wonderful and have a long, happy and healthy life together. Nailed it.

  10. What is your mantra/favorite quote?maya
  11. What’s one item off your bucket list?

    Paddleboarding!! Happy to have scratched that one off last weekend 🙂

 

My Nominees:
A La Modern Mom

Witty Critty
Kevil
Don
Aimee

My Questions for the Nominees:

1. What are your favourite and least favourite blog posts to read?
2. If you could have any profession in the world, what would it be (without worrying about money, time, financial)?
3. What is your favourite physical feature of yourself?
4. Who do you need to say “I love you” to more?
5. Who do you need to say “I’m sorry” to?
6. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?
7. Where is your favourite place in the whole world?
8. If you could redo anything in your life differently, what would you redo?
9. What is the nicest thing that somebody has ever done for/to you?
10. What would an ideal day be for you?
11. What is your favourite post that I have ever written?
12. What is your favourite post that you have ever written?

Enjoy Life, Lovelies!
L

 

 

 


22 Comments

Canadians Go To The Beach On Coldest Day Of Summer

Since we have moved to Chicago, I’ve been dying to go on a road trip to the Indiana Dunes. This weekend, we decided to go!

It was a warm and balmy 70ish degrees (20ish degrees Canadian friends) around 9:30am in Chicago when we decided to drive out, so we thought that it would be a perfect beach day! We were so excited and we just couldn’t hide it!

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Enroute to the beach!

I still get excited every time we go somewhere new and I have always loved entering new territory. I am fascinated that by straddling a border line you can be in two places at once. I am easily pleased and impressed. Here is our obligatory new State photo:

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As you can see by the sky, the clouds did not appear to be perfect beach day clouds. The temperature dropped the closer we got to our destination, but there was no way that grey skies would stop our day of fun!

We finally arrived at our destination and the temperature was 62 degrees (approx 10ish degrees Celcius). The coldest day we have experienced thus far. We figured that since it was only 10:30am, the sun was maybe still waking up… maybe it had too many drinks the night before and was having a late start!

When we arrived at the beach, we were the only ones there… parking was really difficult:

 

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We had the whole lot to ourselves

We didn’t care about the weather, we were just so excited to be AT THE BEACH!

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The pictures do not do the waves justice… they were humongous and it was so windy. It would have been perfect “dingy” boating waves. Except there were rip tide signs everywhere and warnings to not even go wading… but a part from that, it was perfect!

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Still looks pretty warm and nice, doesn’t it? This picture captures what the sky was like for most of the day:

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Pretty though, isn’t it!?

And here is an obligatory pic to show how windy it was:

 

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Now, even though our ears were aching from the wind, that didn’t stop us. In fact, the ringing in our ears helped enhance the crushing of the waves.

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The sun made a quick appearance and we relished in it!!

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AHHH SUN!!!

 

We were so excited, that we just could not hide it! And why hide it!? It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?!

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John snuck up on me and photographed my inner 2 year old self coming out in me 🙂

 

It was SUCH a fun day on the beach, we had the entire State National Park to ourselves and we LOVED IT! Look how pretty it is!!



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We didn’t even have to worry about anybody stealing John’s size 15 flip flops… do you know how hard it is to find shoes that big!?

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We could even take all the selfies in the world without others watching or offering to take our photo:

 


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Just after noon, we realized that the temperature was not going to get higher than 64 (low teens, Canadians). Cue pouting face.

 

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We had a decision to make… we could either call it a day and go home OR we could go buy matching hoodies from the closest Walmart and continue our beach day! If you can’t beat em, join em!



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Although the weather did not get past 64 degrees, we still pulled out the towels and did the beach thing. Here is proof:

As if I am posting a picture of myself on the internet in my bikini.... get real, lovely

As if I am posting a picture of myself on the internet in my bikini…. get real, lovely

We drove home around 3:00pm and I am already looking forward to going back for more!

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Where is your favourite secret beach, lovely?

Enjoy Life,
L


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A STAR SPANGLED KIND OF DAY – Top Reasons We LOVE The US!

So today is “the 4th” as they call it… The 4th of July! Independence Day! Yabadabadoooooooo!!!!!!

 

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Might be my favourite building of all in Chicago

 

It’s interesting, because although neither of us are actually American, we are both so excited to celebrate this day with everyone else! The love of this country is so contagious, therefore we decided to come up with a list of some of our favorite things of the US.

Beware, that this list will likely have a common theme. We both love food, and being in Chicago, we love food EVEN MORE!!!! If we both didn’t care about health, we would easily tip the scale at a joint 1,000 pounds. They say that the way to a man’s heart is through food, but screw that, it’s the way to my heart too! AMERICA YOU HAVE WON MY HEART OVER WITH YOUR DELIIOUS DELICACIES!!!!

 

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And now, the much anticipated list…

 

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*….. Drum Roll …..*

 

1. Beer. Canada, you have some serious competition. Not only does beer cost way less here, but the selection, the variety, the pictures on your bottles, the silly names (Hoptimus Prime and Flying Dog…. Who doesn’t want to drink a Flying Dog?!) keep us going back for more. American Beer has got us refreshed, relaxed and ready to rock!

 

2. Patriotism. There is something to be said about the love that Americans have for their country. It’s so infectious that us, Non-Americans, feel proud too! In Canada, it is more of a humble approach, but sometimes doesn’t it just feel good to shout your love from a rooftop to tell all the world?!

 

3. A dollar goes a long way here… There is $1 gelato at the nicest grocery store we have ever been to in our lives (the grocery store has a pianist, if that’s not fancy then I don’t know what is!) There is $1 iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts that are so enormous that you’ll be caffeinated for the entire week. Really, what more could you want for a buck!?

 

4. Groceries! Now, we can’t exactly put our finger on what exactly it is, but the fruit and veggies here are so delicious. Everything seems that much fresher, that much juicier (when juicy is wanted… nobody wants a juicy banana), and it is less expensive here too. Bananas cost 33 cents a pound! The cereal selection takes hours to comb through… the US still has Trix, a long lost Canadian love. Essentially, the selection of everything from chocolate bars to yogurt is just remarkable! I love eating Bostom Creme flavoured yogurt in the morning!

 

5. TV Channels. We only have basic cable, yet we have over 70 high definition channels. That comes at a premium back home.

 

6. The food portions!!! My double chin has doubled in size since being here. The portions are so enormous that we often share an appetizer and an entrée, and we are both stuffed. One time we ordered a single meal at a BBQ joint and the two of us couldn’t finish it. And we had to be rolled out of there. But that’s another story.

 

7. Booze in general. It is a vodka lovers paradise here. There are so many flavors here that Canada just isn’t bringing to the table! Like what, you ask? Well, pink lemonade, cinnabon, root beer float, marshmallow, pineapple coconut, kissed caramel, whipped cream… and that’s just the middle shelf at Target! And let’s not allow the magic of being able to purchase said booze at Target go unmentioned.

 

8. Fireworks!!!! SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! Every single Wednesday and Saturday night there are free fireworks in Chicago. We watch them from the lakeside and it will never, ever, ever get old. In Calgary, we used to pay to watch the Global Fireworks in August, but these fireworks are comparable to that. And they are along a lake. Romance factor kicks in here big time.

 

9. Movie Theatres! The food and drink selection is absolutely bonkers… you can get booze served to you during your show! Now we are talking… Canada, get on that! There is also ice cream, pizza, nachos, all the candy in the world, a pop machine that offers over 100 flavors (really!?), there is a café inside (you can get Bailey’s from your own personal server and add it your coffee from your own personal Barista!), and even a real dinner entrée (but who wants veggies?!) And to top it off, the butter is SELF SERVE!!! My inner fat girl was mostly thrilled about this… I like my popcorn soupy. Poor John is just learning of this now and that I am the sole reason he deemed our popcorn “absolutely disgusting”. Which translated to my ears as “absolutely delicious”!

 

 10. FREE EVENTS ALL THE TIME!!!!!! There is always so much to do. Always so much to see. Always so much going on. There is always a festival, always something to celebrate…. It is sooo much fun alllllll the time! And there is always food.

 

BONUS: The peeps! For the most part, everybody has been so welcoming and so friendly! The people here love Canada and they make us feel right at home. A home with larger portions and a larger booze selection.

 

Thanks for reading, my lovely, now excuse us as we go stuff our faces with hot dogs, wave flags around, go to free things, and celebrate loud n’ proud! HAPPY 4th, eh!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Ballerina Kicked My Butt

Once we settled into our new apartment in Chicago (code for our boxes were pushed to one side of the room), I went on the hunt. I went on the hunt to find a new gym. Since we were living downtown, I thought that there would be plenty of possible contenders where I could get my squat on. Surprisingly, there weren’t as many as I had expected. Perhaps my expectations were too high… wouldn’t be the first time.

gym

So I finally found the place where I would spend my mornings. The main ingredients that I was looking for in my new gym were:

1) Cleanliness… no explanation necessary
2) Safety … Back in Canada, I had never ever used a lock in a gym locker, however, I knew that I would likely have to start here.
3) Location – Close enough that I couldn’t convince myself that the gym was “too far” come winter time.
4) GROUP CLASSES – I likely would have given up everything else for the best group class schedule

I like Group Classes because they make me do things that I would never do on my own. A good class will push me to my absolute limit, will make me drop many “eff bombs” in my mind, will teach me new things, and will leave me covered in a nice, healthy, dripping glow of sweat.

group class

One of the classes that my gym offers is “Ballet Sculpt”. It followed the 6:00am spin class, so I thought that I would give it a whirl. I thought that it would be a good stretch and a good, long cool down after coming straight from my spin class.

spin
ballet feet

So I enter the studio, and see that everybody else has taken their shoes off, has a mat and has a set of 2.5 lbs weights. I grab a mat, take my shoes off, grab two weights in one hand and think to myself “Pfft I got this…” I even ponder the thought about ditching the class before it even starts so that I can go do some “real weights” on my own, but I figure that I’ll at least give the class a shot.

grandma weights

The instructor turns on some Lady Gaga, tells us to grab our dinky little weights and she leads us through a set of arm exercises. I’m following along, waving my dinky weights in the air, preparing for her to tell us to stop and to do some sort of pilates style moves on the mat.

pilates

Except she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t stop for 15 minutes.

Now, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how big your biceps are, I don’t care how strong you think you are. Waving 2.5 lbs around for 15 minutes is tiring beyond belief. By the end of it, I couldn’t breathe properly. I couldn’t lift my arms straight above my head if my life depended on it. I couldn’t lift my arms straight to my sides to form a T-shape. My arms didn’t straighten. They were too heavy. And that is when I realized that maybe this “Ballet Sculpt” class was going to be a hell of a lot tougher than I gave it credit for.

biceps

Think you’re tough, do ya? Try Ballet…

After the tiny, little ballerina is done yelling at us: “Do. Not. Put. Those. Weights. Down. Keep going, push it! Puussssshh it! You’re almost there!” (you were not almost there, that is a lie that they tell you to trick you), we go to the bar! (I’ll have a cosmo with raspberry vodka please)

Ah, now I feel like a ballerina! The bar – Where I picture tiny little girls in their tutus, being all cutesy and ballerina like. This part will be simple, I thought.
ballerina girl

It was not simple at all. We start plie-ing, and the instructor keeps coming over and telling me to stop squatting. “It’s a plie, not a squat!!!” After all these years of doing squats, I’ve never been yelled at for doing one. In fact, I’ve received compliments on my lunge and squat form from complete strangers at other gyms. When I bend down, my body just naturally squats. I can’t seem to control it from stopping… If the body wants to squat, let it squat!

squat

Nope… she was not having any part of it.

“Tuck your butt in!” I don’t even know how to tuck my butt in…
“Keep your back straight!”…. I’m trying to tuck my butt in, I didn’t know my back wasn’t straight! Finally, she gives up on me and I do my absolute best to plie rather than squat.

Please don’t yell at me, tiny little ballerina lady.

james van der beek

After we plie (by ‘we’ I mean ‘they’), we then start kicking. I don’t know what the ballerina term is for kicking, but I’ve always been a straight shooter and to me, a kick is a kick. So we stand with our feet angled out so they are shaped as a ‘V’ and we repeatedly kick over, and over, and over again with our one leg in the same direction. At first, it started out fun. My toes were even pointed (thank you gymnastic classes that I took as a child), and I kicked so high that I thought I was going to kick Heaven. But then after probably five minutes of doing the same kick over and over again, I could hardly lift my foot off the ground. My other leg is starting to ache in places that I didn’t know could ache. It’s not supposed to support all of my body weight for that long on it’s own…  after all, isn’t that why we have two legs!?

There are plenty of “eff bombs” rolling through my mind at this point, there is sweat dripping into my eyes, my arms can hardly reach my face to wipe the sweat off because they are so shaky from those dinky weights, and I see the tiny, little ballerina coming over my way as she shouts at us to “pulse”.

pissed off face

“How does one pulse a kick?” I wonder to myself. Well, you pulse a kick by holding your leg up as high as it can go and by making it go up and down REALLY fast without dropping your leg too much. But, the problem is is that by now, I literally cannot lift my leg much higher than a foot off the ground. Even a foot is probably giving myself too much credit.

So I am pulsing as best as I can as the tiny, ballerina lady comes over to me and shouts at me to go HIGHER! I try… God knows that I tried. She shouts at me again to go HIGHER, but I physically cannot lift my leg any higher. In fact, my leg is so tired that I am now not even able to pulse it a foot off the ground. I pulse the best that I can, thinking to myself that even if I had a gun to my head I could not pulse any higher. I’d have to get shot… and at that point, that didn’t seem like such a terrible idea (I kid, my lovely, I kid…)

So finally, the class is over. One of the longest hours of my life. I plied, I kicked, I got yelled at by a ballerina… And at that moment, I remember thinking to myself that maybe I should have gone to the spin class as a cool down from the ballet class instead!

funny spin

As I left the class, I learnt that a ballerina is a whole hell of a lot more than I have ever given credit for. A ballerina could kick a ninja’s butt anyday… She sure as heck kicked mine.

Enjoy Life,
L