The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. Audrey Hepburn
I have been flipping through my pictures on my phone to try and muster up the inspiration to write an inspiring, passionate, body positive piece, but I can not find it. I see acne and back rolls, and lack luster hair. I have been sitting here for an hour trying to come up with the perfect punch line, but in truth my lack of inspiration is coming from deep within on this subject, and as I work through this journey to conquer body doubt I realize this may just be the first baby step I needed.
I found out about the art of Boudoir Photography in my early 20's, it seemed to me to be the height of a women who has the utmost confidence in herself. I wanted to be that person looking into the camera lens with steamy eyes, and cheeky playfulness. I wanted to be totally uninhibited and pleased with just myself. As the years have been rolling by I continued to put off this treat for one reason or another, not enough money not enough time, I needed to lose weight, get in better shape. So many excuses. Weirdly, the time came at the point in my life where I am probably feeling the least confident in my body. Rated R for Racy and Beautiful.
~Goals that are not written down are just wishes~
If you have not heard me say it before I will be surprised. I like notes, calendars and lists. I feel more motivated when I can sit down, put pen to paper and clear up my mind. Everything has a nice order and seems easier to accomplish. Now generally that is as far as I get, I am actually really bad at putting the check marks beside the 'to do'. I have made my lists public before and they did not provide any more motivation than if I had kept it private. So please, feel free to cheer me on as I try to accomplish 40 things before I turn 40. Gosh that sounds scary enough on its own.
You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. ~ Rabindranath Tagore
Hardly as exciting as a Zoo, and sans Matt Damon, but we did it. We bought an Inn. This morning, while we were scrubbing pots and pans in the kitchen a reflection unlike any other had washed over me. A quiet nod to our accomplishment. Until this moment I had not acknowledged our successes, strangely enough this is happening as I am covered in greasy water and bits of uneaten food.
A move to a small tourist town, was the last thing I thought my husband and I would do. Prince Edward County is only two and a half hours from Toronto (not the long flight Costa Rica would have been). But might as well be millions of miles away in pace. Businesses close at 6 and restaurant kitchens close at 9, people honk there car horns to say hello not to say get outta the way. And if you pass someone on the street, you look them in the eyes and share a greeting. It's an easy life in the country. Hardships do occur but it's is a way of life, having to replace your septic system incites less drama than when a "city" friend loses their phone. Running out of water is almost a sure possibility (which means not bathing twice a day). You waste less in the country.
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." John Muir
Ten miles? I can do that, right? Well I can and I did, but let me tell you, a more in shape version of myself would have be a lot more comfortable. There is an immense sense of accomplishment in making it to the finish line, whether it be a marathon, fun run or a hike. When I first set eyes on Havasu Falls and then subsequently the land surrounding I knew that this would be my next big adventure. The crystal blue waters had captured my imagination and transported me to a world that would rival Narnia or Wonderland.
Because we were going in the off-season, I was lucky enough to get someone on the reservation phone almost immediately , some fellow travelers have not been so lucky. I booked into the bare bones guest lodge and at the same time they issued us our permit. Lacking modern amenities such as a television or phone, this lodge did have access to pretty strong WIFI (which I only discovered the second night), hot water and comfy clean beds. Which really after hiking all day this is all you will require.
Starting from the Hilltop (this is where you will park) you begin a steep 1.5 mile rough descent down into the canyon. Making my way down the switchbacks, overly cautious of the narrow paths and debris, I almost wasn't able to enjoy the vast expanse of the canyon, glowing and rust coloured walls stretching almost infinitely. Once we arrived at the bottom of the canyon, we were able to set a comfortable pace, the air still being a bit chilly hugged us and the strong gusts of wind seemed to nudge us towards our destination.
Two hours later (be nice, I have short legs) we arrived. Supai is simple and to modern standards almost barren. With a town square that houses a general store, community center, cafe and post office you will find all your necessities here. A small church, a elementary school and the Guest Lodge are the other main buildings. A spider web of dirt roads connect them.
Havasu Falls was everything and more. A moving oasis of streams and waterfalls, transparent blue, surrounded by the red rock of the desert. Spring fed, the waters are consistent in temperature and even though warned that it would probably be too cold, I decided to swim in one of the magical pools.
Fidel (pronounced Feedel) a local Supai tribesman was just finishing up his lunch at the head of Mooney Falls, I had made the decision the descent would be too dangerous for myself, and we were taking some pictures of the falls from above. Fidel whom may be part mountain goat told us stories of sleeping in cliff side caves, of the flooding that almost wiped away the water falls all together and the charred remains of a once thriving forest, accidentally set ablaze during a controlled fire. He was so passionate about the surrounding area, and he genuinely seemed pleased to be sharing some of his tribes history with us.
Because we were visiting in late February , we didn't have to worry about weather very much. The temperature didn't rise enough to be uncomfortable or give us worry to make sure we had enough water, (in the summer months they recommend not heading out without at least a gallon of water) to keep us hydrated.
Originally published November 20, 2014
An apple a day keeps the Doctor away. ~Mom~
This includes cranberry apple pie right? How about a steamy caramel apple latte? For sure it must include honey crisp apples, covered in honey and double cream brie cheese, served panini style? If you have been following along, you should know that I love road trips, and I love travelling around Ontario. I am crazy about food, and I don' t mind heading out solo. So try to imagine my delight when I found out about the Apple Pie Trail. A planned route of destinations around Georgian Bay totally devoted to everything apples.
First point of business. Download the Apple Pie Trail app. (yes we can really say that there is an app for everything). I was able to put a pretty star next to my favourite attractions, have addresses at the ready and a really handy GPS map. (Ill admit later on in the post that I got a bit lost). Oh and a really cute photo feature.
I was really excited for my first stop, not only because I was headed towards highly regarded food, (Espresso Post has been featured in Blog TO and it's not even in Toronto), but because I have never stopped in Collingwood before. I have driven around the perimeter many times on my way to Craigleith or Blue Mountain, but have never had a reason to park myself.
Guys, music was playing as I got out of the car, I did not have to pay for parking and I was already entranced by the picturesque street view. I would have skipped to the Espresso Post if the ground hadn't been snow covered, so, bundled up I strolled. I wanted to try everything, and admittedly I had to allow a couple of people ahead of me in line because I just couldn't decide! I stuck with my apple theme and ordered the Brie and Apple Panini and a caramel apple latte. Oh my goodness. I knew apples and cheese went together but wow.
History has a way of humbling you, and my next stop at the Craigleith Heritage Depot had that exact effect on me. We have a habit of forgetting that life was significantly different than it is today. The strong and resilient people that shaped the country and the way that we live need to be remembered. Housed in an decommissioned rail house (not a replica) are treasures of the surrounding area, with invaluable information and artifacts. No charge to enter, but I strongly encourage leaving a donation.
It was a no-brainer that one of my stops would be The Honey House in Clarksburg. My culinary obsession with honey may rival butter tarts, and I am always looking out for that perfect batch. What was really neat about this place was that I was a novice, people were lined up with empty jars ready to get a refill. I treated myself to a jar of regular honey and another creamed honey and thanked the bees for their hard work.
On route to my last stop, I paused at Almonds Farm Market, this is not on the official itinerary but I still hadn't grabbed a pie. If you want that no fuss home baked goodness this is a great place to stop. I wanted to try something new so I picked up an apple cranberry crumble. It didn't make it past the weekend.
Two questions, have you ever seen a country side road after a snow storm, and do you ever argue with your GPS? My last planned stop was going to be to the Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery for some wine and sparkling apple juice, but because of natural barriers and my stubbornness I threw my hands up in the air and started heading home. I only tell you about this missed connection because sometimes everything doesn't go as planned, but that is part of the adventure! I was so thrilled to see that I could order wine online and wouldn't have to wait until I planned my next trip.
There are 37 stops listed on the Apple Pie Trail, I only made it to 3 and I was gone for about six hours. When I returned home I was rejuvenated, I was excited about my finds, and could barely wait to try my pie and honey. I am looking forward to the day when I get back on the trail. Luv K8e
Originally published October 16, 2014
"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R Tolkien
With a different bed every night, two islands, two cities a ferry and a lot of mileage in our Audi A5 we discovered the diverse landscapes, people and culture of Scotland.
I had a few cringes and eyebrow raises when I told people that I would be traveling with my in-laws, especially on a journey that had us confined to a car for hours at a time. Seasoned travelers themselves, I was more interested in what they would offer and contribute to my experience (ha selfish me), than the possibility of a National Lampoon style vacation. I give them huge props for going in blindly and trusting me with the itinerary.
We arrived in Glasgow via Reykjavik, Iceland. If you have not had an opportunity to fly with Icelandair, next one you get, take it. I have flown with them a handful of times and they always manage to exceed my expectations. They are quirky and unpretentious, but offer genuine feel good service. Plus if you have an extra day or two, you are able to stop in Iceland, at no extra charge.
In Glasgow, we were privy to the hot political scene and the leftovers of the 2014 Commonwealth games. The city immediately gives off the aura of a being built around the working class, a charm and delight for anyone wanting to experience Scotland without the bells and whistles that adorn many tourist cities. My hiking boots had their inaugural trek up to the Glasgow Necropolis where I was treated to a view of the city and the cathedral. We walked side by side through the sea of passionate Glaswegians as they rallied for the upcoming referendum vote. And it was here that I was introduced to Marks and Spencer's Percy the Pig.
Heading north, we made a detour from my original itinerary to stop at Stirling Castle, which was highly recommended by the customs agent as something we couldn't miss. On reflection we could have bypassed it, my schedule already had us seeing half a dozen castles, and I personally felt that Stirling was a great example of gaudy over-priced tourism. If your starting point is Glasgow head to Edinburgh Castle instead (20 minutes extra to your drive) the prison alone will make up for what you think you will be missing at Stirling. Up for a drive? Surrounded by mountains and three converging lochs, Eileen Donan Castle, is Scotland's most photographed and for good reason. Even if you don't have time to visit inside, the spectacular vista will be sufficient. Duvegan castle on the Isle of Skye is currently still a residence and is fully furnished, a living museum and has been home to the Chief's of Macleod of the MacLeod clan for over 800 years.
Have I mentioned that we had really great weather yet? Uncharacteristically sunny and warm, which made for great outdoor excursions. The Nevis Glen gorge is conveniently situated only a short drive outside of Fort William. With Ben Nevis in the foreground we hiked our way along a steep, rocky trail towards Scotland's second highest waterfall, Steall Falls. A few days later on the Isle of Skye we embarked on a little known (not found in our travel guide books) but incredible trek where we were led past a succession of crystal clear pools and waterfalls, known as the Fairy Pools. I may have been dehydrated but the landscape felt enchanted and mystical.
Everything was running so smoothly. We were now in the middle of our trip and as we drove alongside Loch Ness I refrained from blinking, hoping to share a moment with the famous resident Nessie. She was asleep, but instead of a sighting we were offered a fairy tale sunset, everything was perfect. We entered Inverness with hopes of rest. Unfortunately everything was booked; hotels, motels, B&B's, for no apparent reason Inverness was full. As our hopes and patience were diminishing, we were rescued not only by a beautiful guest house outside of the city but also a handful of really nice locals (seriously, one actually led us to the location in there car).
Do you have a travel wish list? I have one, but it is extensive; to be able to visit all of the UNESCO world heritage sites. A visit to the Orkney's, (a cluster of islands just north of the mainland) allowed me to check off a few. Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness make for a mind blowing experience. Skara Brae (a neolithic village) is older than the Giza pyramids and the Great Wall of China, and was discovered by fluke quite recently. I was humbled by time. This was possibly my favourite part of our trip.
The conclusion of our trip found us in Leith, a suburb of Edinburgh along the waterfront, which was an ideal spot for us to plant ourselves. A quick bus ride to the Old City and a fantastic selection of restaurants nearby on a strip dubbed The Shore we were more than delighted to be a bit of distance away from the more touristy areas. A couple of my favourite meals on this trip were eaten in Edinburgh, a piping hot shepherd's pie at The Doric (with claims to being the oldest gastro pub in Edinburgh) and a hog roast roll with crispy crackling and apple sauce straight from the farm at Oink, a simple restaurant serving up a roast of pork, with different dressings. Visiting the Old City is easy, starting off early (avoid the lines) at Edinburgh castle and continue down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace. At dark we joined a haunted tour (City of the DeadTours, The Double Dead walking tour), that led into underground vaults where we were regaled with stories of ghosts and poltergeists. The tour concluded in the Covenanter's prison, a concentration camp of sorts with it's history of hauntings.
Oh my, I could keep going. With the small town hospitality of Fort William, Portree, and Kirkwall, to the landscapes, the food and the mythology, Scotland really has something for everyone. If you have any questions or would like more details, comment below. If you have been, what was your favourite part?
A huge, huge thank you to my in laws, you make wonderful travel companions. I will treasure this adventure for the rest of my life. And may you never have to drive 1000 plus miles on the left hand side again. Cheers to Scotland, you surprised me, you taught me and most importantly you welcomed me. I will visit again. Luv K8e