Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Love of Food.

I'm a natural born foodie. One of those free dictionaries online describes a foodie as "someone who has refined interest in food." Urban dictionary refers to a foodie as "a person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation." In another excerpt, they also call foodies snobs. Pft. In my own definition, I'm just somebody who gets excited about the world of food and flavours.

In reflecting on this during one of my many bus rides in the past 2 and a half weeks of living in Calgary, I realized that I don't share this love for food as frequently as I wish on my blog. So, I am going to try and devote more of my blog posts to favourite recipes, food experiences, and sharing my love for flavour. This story comes from an experience I had not all that long ago. The first Saturday that I was living in Calgary...

Along with being a foodie, I am a Food Network freak. Whenever there is a television available with the Food Network station "unlocked," I'm glued. There is this one show I love to watch called "You've Gotta Eat Here!" In this show, the host John Catucci travels all over Canada hoping from restaurant to restaurant checking out what our country has to offer in the food department. He's even traveled up to the middle of nowhere New Brunswick - Shippagan - and sampled food at a local seafood restaurant. However, Catucci makes most of his visits to big the one I'm currently residing in, Calgary. Every time he visited a restaurant in Calgary before I moved here, I'd immediately think to myself "I've gotta eat there" (guess they picked an appropriate show title). I'm pleased to announce that of the four places featured on the show from Calgary, I've currently eaten at one: Tubby Dog

What a place! They specialize in hot dogs. When I saw the show, one hot dog stuck out in particular. "The Captain's Dog." This all beef hot dog is bacon wrapped, topped with peanut butter, grape jelly, and Captain Crunch cereal. I know what your thinking (it was my first thought, too) - EWWW! But how could I go to this place and NOT get such a unique hot dog. So when Jenny, Andrea, and I ventured to Tubby Dog that first full day in Calgary almost three weeks ago, we decided to buy one and split it three ways then each get our own hot dog. I have to say, if and when I go back I'll be ordering my own Captain's Dog. It was surprisingly tasty. Think about all the best things about breakfast and put them in one bite. That's the Captain's Dog. 

The Captain's Dog
So besides the previously mentioned delicacy, I also had the A-Bomb. This bad boy was topped with mustard, mayo, ketchup, bacon bits, a variety of flavours in crushed potato chips, and nacho cheese. It was HUGE! And I ate every last bite. The onion rings were enormous as well and we split one order between the three of us. I didn't have to eat for the rest of the day after this meal (seriously - not a figure of speech this time). 

The A-Bomb
I highly recommend going to Tubby Dog when you come to visit Calgary. It was cheap considering the amount of food you get, and it's an experience. There is so much to look at on the walls and in display cases. Plus you have a great view of the cooks putting together the masterpieces of hot dogs. They even have old school arcade machines like Mrs. PacMan. 

Six onion rings in an order - plenty for three people!
It's not gourmet, but it is unique. I loved it. And I think my excitement shows in the pictures. Just ask the girls, I was a overflowing with excitement and emotions - I couldn't sit still. And this is my constant feelings about the world of food.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Update from Calgary - Week Two

Another week has come and gone. My mind can't fathom how quickly time is flying by. I've been in Calgary for a little over two weeks! The longer I'm here the more I love this city. I can't believe how quickly I've adjusted to this life. Mind you, I still have some adjusting to do. All things considered though, I thought at this point I'd be in rough shape between home sickness and stress. But alas, I'm happy, healthy...and employed! 

That's right. After applying for about 8 different jobs, I received an email inviting me to an interview for a job as a Program Director and accepted the job 24 hours later. I start my training tomorrow morning, and I am so excited to get back into working with youth and starting a regular routine. 

Besides getting the job this week, I also took two days to recertify my First Aid and CPR. I feel like I spent the majority of my week traveling on buses and CTrains for interviews and courses. Calgary is a BIG city. So sometimes when you think it might only take 20 minutes to get somewhere, on the bus it's usually doubled plus some more. So, to get to my First Aid and CPR course this week that started at 8am, I had to be on the bus for 6:45am. Those of you who know me well know that I am NOT a morning person. I can't wait to move into my apartment and set up the ol' Keurig and have a cup of coffee instantly with the flick of a button.

I love the downtown area of Calgary. I only live about a 10 minute car ride away from the city centre. Last weekend, I found a cute little cafe that has wifi and sat outside in the sun skyping with Kathryn. I did the same thing on Thursday after my interview and skyped with Sara. What in the world would I do without Skype? It's keeping me in touch with my loved ones and making me feel like I'm still part of things. In fact, I even skyped with my Grandmom this week! I'm so proud of her for being able to figure it out, and it was so nice to see her face. The conversation just feels a little more personable when you can see the person rather then just here the voice - especially for me: the hand talker.

This weekend was nice and relaxing as well. On Friday, Andrea, Jenny, and I went shopping at a mall downtown, had supper at a delicious restaurant called "Earl's" and hit up some Noraebong (Korean Karaoke). Fun, relaxing, and a great way to celebrate us all being employed and loving life in Calgary!

Andrea and Jenny have gotten me addicted to the show The Vampire Diaries. After sleeping in and running errands for the first part of the day, we had a movie night and watched what I'm pretty sure was 7 episodes of the show and dined on some pretty delicious snacks. Mmm baked brie! Today, we got up much earlier and ventured to the Calgary Farmers Market. What a neat place! A wide variety of places to eat and lots of local food and treats to choose from. I had a burger from Silver Sage Burger and a cream puff from Cruffs. Mmm! I also bought some local corn on the cob, green beans, and HUGE peaches. I think that made for a very successful first trip to the Market.

All in all, life is swell. I started journaling again - which I'm hoping to do a better job at keep up more often this time around. No fear though, this blog will still remain intact.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Here's to the First Week in Calgary!

I can't believe it's been a week since I arrived in Calgary! It sure has flown by. My head is spinning less, and I feel a bit more settled then I did last weekend. It'll be nice when we can move in to our own apartment and make it our home. Then it'll truly feel like I'm living in Calgary!

For now, here's an update on the highlights of this first week in Calgary! 

-- On Sunday Jenny, Andrea, Gary, myself, and a friend of Gary's went to Banff and Lake Louise for the day. When I was 13 I came to Alberta on an exchange trip and on that trip we went to Banff. However, I had never been to Lake Louise before and what a sight that was! I think that Banff and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places on this earth that I have ever been. I took lots and lots of pictures, but the camera doesn't do the view justice. I'll surely be visiting this place again!

 -- A handful of job applications were filled out this week, too. I've mostly been applying to Preschool Teaching jobs. Lots of opportunities here, just a matter of time I think. Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

-- I "mastered" the art of taking the Calgary transit all on my own. Even took Andrea and Jenny out and showed them how to get from our place to the Market Mall. I felt so grown up and like such a city girl, silly but true!

-- I went to the largest movie theatre I think I have ever been to. Jenny, Gary, Andrea and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises. I had already seen the movie before moving to Calgary, but it was worth going to see again. Plus, I got to see the huge Cineplex - and that in itself was a treat! 

-- I took my first trip to Ikea ever. What a nice store. This is Jenny's favourite store and I can see why. Now, to just find a job and make some money so I can afford nice things from Ikea! 

This weekend, I am meeting up with an old friend, Mollie, going to the Calgary Zoo, and sending out some more job applications.

One day at a time, this city is growing on me more and more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is a very special day in our family. Today is my Dad's birthday. But not just ANY birthday - today is my Dad's 50th birthday!! Today, we celebrate my Dad and all the amazingness that is about him. Happy Birthday, Dad - I hope it is just as special and fun as you are!

Dad, on your birthday, I want to remind you of a few reasons why I believe I'm the luckiest daughter alive to have such an amazing father:

-- You're a handyman, and man am I ever thankful for that! Whether it's trouble with my car, unsure how to work a power tool, or questions technological/electrical concerns, you always have an answer.

-- We share a passionate love for food. You're my fellow foody, and you understand what it's like to get excited about food and flavours. Some people laugh at me and call it "cute" when I get excited about a food truck or a certain restaurant - but you understand!

-- You know how to make the mood in the room lighter. Your funny faces, smart remarks, hilarious stories, and ridiculous jokes are the highlights of my time at home. Never change!

-- You climbed flights and flights of stairs, scarified your Saturdays off, and drenched yourself in sweat on one of the hottest days of the summer to help me move in and out of my first apartment. I loved that apartment, and without your help I wouldn't have had the chance to live there. Thank you!

-- You love me unconditionally. You support my decisions to move out west, and tell me tales of your days out here. You turned a situation that could have been disastrous to my self esteem and anxiety, and helped me to get excited and see the positives of this move.

-- You make the best big breakfasts in the world - even if I'm not the biggest breakfast eater and can only eat half of my plate full (don't ever take that as an insult to your cooking - my digestive system sucks!)

-- You love me inside and out and for who I am.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Love you, always and forever!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Best Day of the Week!

We did it! We made it to Calgary around 5pm this afternoon (Alberta time - 8pm New Brunswick time). The cutest thing was pulling into the parking lot of Jenny and Gary's apartment (and our soon-to-be apartment) and seeing Jenny sitting eagerly awaiting our arrival. I honked the horn a couple of times and we waved as she jumped up from her chair and smiled from ear to ear. It was quite a happy reunion, and I fell onto the grass thankful that we had finally made it. Andrea took a video of this and will be posted soon! 

Both Andrea and I had commented before arriving in Regina yesterday how we didn't find the Prairies as flat as had been rumoured. Well, only moments outside Regina proved us wrong. Holy flat!! Land as far as the eye could see straight into the horizon. Cars would just appear out of the horizon and disappear into it. Then, before crossing the Saskatchewan/Alberta border, the land started getting surprisingly hilly. Andrea's favourite part of the drive today from what I can gather is the yellow hay bales sitting atop the brightest green grass. Mine was being completely shocked at how many kilometers you drive before you hit a turn. The most that kept track of was over 30 kms. Unbelievable!

Crossing the border into Alberta was exciting and surreal all at once. We had finally made it to this place we had been driving to for the last 5 days. When we departed Monday morning it seemed so far away, but I have to say that I'm quite surprised how fast the week went by. Andrea made a great comment in saying that the days were quite blurred together and can only be separated by the places we stopped and slept at each day.

So, here we are. Sitting in Jenny and Gary's apartment, catching up, sharing our stories from crossing the country, and planning the exciting adventures we want to take before we all become hard working westerners! After making our way through rush hour traffic in Calgary, we grabbed a bite to eat at the mall only moments down the road from the apartment and stocked up on some food essentials. Might I add that the service at Wal-Mart tonight was slower then a sloth. So slow that Gary commented on the fact that we would be moving faster if we were going backwards. Jenny even drooled unknowingly while staring into space waiting for the cashier to HURRY THE HECK UP! We waited in line LONGER then it took for us to shop for our food. Andrea commented on how she has gotten through Christmas line ups at Wal-Mart quicker then we did tonight. Nevertheless, we got our food and were happy as clams sitting in each others presence once again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

2 Provinces in One Day!

Today we travelled through the Prairies. The first 2.5 hours of our drive was dedicated to getting out of Ontario - finally! Not that I didn't enjoy the drive, but it pretty much took 3 days of driving to get through it. As I said in my blog post yesterday, I LOVED driving between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. And today from Dryden to the Manitoba border was quite a sight as well! I have never seen rock cuts like the ones we saw today! I think the construction workers and engineers who produced this highway were given lots of explosives for the job as there were no up and down hills, just zooming between rocks.

It's true what they say about the Prairies - flat! There was more sky then there was land to look at. What baffled my mind was how straight and far the highway went. I'm not exaggerating when I say that you could go 10-15 km of highway on a complete straight stretch before you rounded a corner. The highway went so far into the horizon that cars would just disappear from sight. It was all new, and to tell you the truth, quite exciting. We had both been told that Manitoba could be a very boring drive. Besides getting a little sleepy (which is completely understandable if you ask me considering we have been driving for four days straight), I was wide eyed and bushy tailed trying to take it all in. The fields ranged in colours from golden yellow to vibrant green. There were areas where machines were harvesting the wheat which I've never seen done before. We also drove past some breath taking sunflower fields. This was probably my favourite part of the day. The yellow and brown of the sunflowers drifted off into the horizon in full bloom. I've truly never seen anything like it before!

Crossing into Manitoba saw happiness in my heart, but the anxiety also set in a little bit. I've travelled in Ontario before, and though I had never been that far west in Ontario, I had been into and travelled around parts of the province. Manitoba is new. And Saskatchewan. Crossing the Ontario/Manitoba border today finally saw the reality truly set in. I'm moving across the country! And I am happy to report that this realization didn't bring on tears of fear, but a smile of bravery and excitement. I think this is a good sign.

Tomorrow we depart from Regina and make our way to our final destination - Calgary! This will probably be the shortest day of driving, which I think was strategically planned. The thought of having to get in the car again tomorrow makes me sick! I am tired of driving, and tired of sitting. I want to get up, explore, and get some exercise. Though I am slightly excited to see the oil rigs and more of the Prairies, I'm also quite excited to stay put in Calgary. One more day, I keep telling myself, one more day. 

Calgary, here we come! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So Long, Ontario.

LONG DAY! We were up at the crack of dawn - or at least for me it was. I am not a morning person, so when my alarm rang in my ear at 6am this morning, I had a few choice words for the device. Showered, fed, and coffee in hand, Andrea and I departed from Sault Ste. Marie at 7:30am excited and keen for the day ahead. 

When we plugged the address for our destination in the GPS system, it estimated that we would be on the road for 15 hours. Ouch! What we've learned though is that the GPS thinks we drive the speed limit of 90 km/h the whole way. False! Cruising at 105 km/h didn't see us getting stopped by any police officers as we passed by them frequently. Success! 

Today was by far the most gorgeous and scenic drive I've ever taken. For approximately 6 hours we drove through mountains and along Lake Superior. What a huge lake! - compared to the small ones I'm used to in New Brunswick. Lots of pictures were taken, and videos too, but they truly can't do the drive any justice. There were lots of opportunities for travellers to stop along designated "look out" points to take in the majestic lake and all its beauty. I liked stopping at this "look out" points because there would be vacationers and travellers from all over New Brunswick. Today, we talked to a nice guy from Vancouver Island, BC. He is orginally from the Netherlands, but moved to Canada 3 years ago and he loves it! He raves about how amazing the people are here and how beautiful our country is. When he asked us where we were headed and why, he was floored at how "lightly" we had packed. I told him that I feared I had packed too much. He assured me that when his fiance moved from Niagara to Vancouver Island she packed so much that she had to haul it in a trailer. I doubt our new friend is reading this blog post, but I wish him good luck on the rest of his journey and all the best at his wedding in 12 days!

I highly recommend that everyone travel the highway 17 from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, Ontario at some point in your life. I will forever remember it. 

After the blissful drive through Lake Superior, we endured another 4.5 hours of driving through small towns, the middle of nowhere, and out of cell phone service capabilities. Andrea and I both agree that the last 100km of each day have been the worst because we've been sitting for so long and our eyes are getting tired that it seems like we'll never get there! 

At 7pm Dryden, Ontario time (9pm New Brunswick time) we arrived at the Comfort Inn, our third destination of the journey to Calgary. Saying that we are both exhausted is an understatement. The thought of even chewing food when we went to Pizza Hut for supper earlier made my eyes heavy. Our plan for tomorrow is to sleep an extra two hours than we have thus far. A much shorter journey to Regina (estimating approximately 9.5 hours, gaining an hour after the time change in Saskatchewan) will still put us at the hotel by 7pm if we leave by 9am. 

Things we have learned after taking this journey: 

1. Quebec has the most construction work either of us have ever seen. Worst part - sometimes there would be "Warning: Construction" signs, traffic would slow down and merge into one lane, and there would be NO construction in sight. Talk about frustrating. 

2. Ontario is a 2-lane highway province. Not optimal for cruise control settings. 

3. Staying at hotels with a continental breakfast saves a ton of money in food expenses. Eat your breakfast, and take extra food away with you to have for lunch. Buying one meal a day is much more economical then buying three (Thanks, Sara!) 

4. Another perk with packing a lunch for a car, eliminates the amount of times you have to stop for food and drink making the drive faster and more efficient. 

5. Nap. You'll last longer when it's your time to drive. 

*I was hoping to upload one of the videos we have taken for our vlog compilation tonight. However, the internet service in the hotel is slow and it would have taken 744 minutes to upload the video. Hopefully the pictures I've added to this post can help to paint a picture of our journey today. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Half Way…Through Ontario

Day two of the journey to Calgary is complete - and HOLY Ontario is a big province. Today marks the halfway point…of getting through Ontario! A day and a half to go until we enter the Prairies. I write this sprawled out on a bed at a quaint little hotel in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Andrea and I arrived at around 7:30pm Ontario time after spending 10.5 hours on the road. We are so happy to have arrived at such a great time so we can unwind, relax, and hopefully get a good nights sleep. 

Yesterday, we departed from my home around 10:15am New Brunswick time. Tearful goodbyes were had with my family, and Andrea (successfully in a standard!!) pulled away from the driveway as I finished my meltdown. I'm so fortunate to be travelling with Andrea. She is supportive, understanding, and patient. She comforted me when I told stories of the weekend and various tearful moments, and she was patient with me when I got frustrated with the crazy drivers in Quebec. I hope that I have only done the same for her. 

Yesterday's travels took us through Quebec and all the way to a small town outside of Ottawa, ON called Carleton Place. Here, my Great Aunt Sally and Great Uncle Ed live on the edge of the Mississippi River. I recall Andrea making a joke about not realizing we were so far South when she saw the sign that said "Mississippi River." When we arrived on Sally and Ed's doorstep, we had just spent almost 12 hours travelling. We were tired, hungry, and a little under the weather. I think the nerves and stress had caught up with us. A delicious meal of spaghetti and meatballs was awaiting our arrival (my favourite!!) and apple pie for dessert. Catch up sessions were had, hugs were given, and good lucks and farewells were shared. Though I didn't sleep the greatest last night, I was comfortable and my heart was warmed. I'm glad that we stayed with family my first night away from New Brunswick. This is the farthest I have ever moved away from my family, and as I said previously, I was full of nerves and butterflies. Being in the presence of family last night comforted my heart and made me feel somewhat whole again. 

Up at the crack of dawn this morning, Aunt Sally fed and watered us, made us a delicious picnic lunch then she and Ed sent us on our way. Andrea was feeling much better this morning and was able to share the driving equally, which was great for me. I was exhausted from taking on the majority of the driving yesterday! The weather was so funky today, too. Dark skies surrounded us a lot of the way, and we drove through a thunderstorm and quite a few downpours. At other times though, the sun would be beaming and we drove with the windows down. Much of Ontario is two-laned highway driving. You truly get a great scenic view of Ontario as you drive through. During the last two or so hours of our drive today, we drove by many bodies of water. I wasn't able to take any pictures, however, as I was driving (safety first!). Tomorrow, we will be driving along Lake Superior and I will be sure to capture many moments. 

Originally our plan tomorrow was to drive from Sault Ste. Marie, ON to Kenora, ON. I flubbed up though. I was under the impression that our travels tomorrow would total about 11 hours. WRONG! It's actually 15.5 hours. Not happening! So, as I am writing this post I am cancelling our original hotel reservation in Kenora, ON and rebooking to Dryden, ON (13 hours). Much more doable, I think! 

Andrea and I have also decided to do a vlog (video blog) of our trip. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Today is the Day.

Hard to believe that the day has arrived. Today I am moving from my small home town in rural New Brunswick to the big city Calgary, Alberta. Moving from a population of 1500 to a population of over 1 000 000. Hopefully my time spent living in Fredericton for the last 5 years will help with the transition into being a real city girl. 

I've known for the last two months or more that I would be moving to Calgary come August. However, the reality of the matter didn't truly hit at my core until I moved out of my small bachelor apartment in Fredericton this past Friday night. The entire week prior to Friday I spent with friends enjoying what Fredericton had to offer one last time (assuming I never live there again - which truth be told, I can see myself settling there one day). I said some difficult farewells, enjoyed my time, and filled my heart and mind with more cherished memories. 

After spending a fantastic weekend home with my entire family, I pack up the car and back out of the driveway one last time before beginning this next big stage in my life. Saying farewell to my family was difficult, and tears were certainly shed. Their love and support constantly reminds me that I'm going to be okay and everything always works out. I can not put into words how thankful and blessed I feel to have such as supportive and solid family unit. 

So long for now, New Brunswick. We shall meet again.