Sunday, 31 January 2016

Not A Cash Bar

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

I heard a song at spinning a while ago that reminded me of my dad, Rock the Casbah by The Clash, they were actually showing the music video. It wasn't part of the collection of music videos that Dad had on tape, so seeing that was new and had I seen the video when I was younger I wouldn't have made the mistake of thinking they were saying "Rock the cash bar" - I only recently learned that wasn't the case. Dad played the song a lot - it was a good summer party tune.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Instructions From The Cat

For Christmas I gave Aunty Laura a little book called "A Cat's Little Instruction Book." She recently emailed some of her favourite quotes from it, these ones remind me why I wish I was a cat:

Long naps never go out of fashion. 

When depressed or confused try lying on your back with your legs in the air: sometimes the world just looks better upside down. 

Find any excuse to run up and down the stairs dementedly.

When in doubt, let your tail do all the talking for you.

If someone breaks into the house when no one else is home, don't be a hero. Leave the heroics to dogs.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Peru Photo - Mom's Pick

Jason & Chris at Machu Picchu
Peru, January 2016
Photo by Carol Sweeton

Mom really likes this photo that she took of Jason and I, in fact she has included it with her blog post about that day. If it was my picture I would be tempted to crop out the other people, but then you would lose the mountain in the background. I remember at the time my mom saying that it was a nice picture because we were being sweet/romantic/intimate/nice or something with each other, and that was rare to see much less photograph. I forget the exact word she used but I guess it is true that we aren't very outwardly loving with each other in public.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Just Be Helpful

I am not a considerate person, but I try. It is important to me that those around me are happy and I would like to be helpful - helpful at work, helpful with my friends, helpful at home.

The main trap that I tend to fall into is that I treat people as I would like to be treated - to a fault. I literally imagine myself in the other person's shoes and think about what I would be thinking/wanting. I often forget to notice what they are feeling because I just superimpose what I would be feeling onto the situation and act from there. True empathy comes from understanding and reacting to the emotion first, not the circumstance. That is the extra step that is hard for me, to let go of what I would be feeling, wanting, or thinking, and recognize that someone else is having a different reaction.

When I read the article, She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By The Sink, by Matt from his blog Must Be This Tall To Ride, I didn't identify with the 'She,' instead I saw my life with Jason and my friends from the writer's perspective. This was not because I would be the one to leave the dish, though I totally would - everyone I know is tidier than me. It is because I still enjoy doing things for my loved ones, and days that I find ways to try to make there lives better are great days. I want to continue to be, "grateful for another opportunity to demonstrate to [the people I care about] that [they] comes first and that I can be counted on to be there for [them]." I agree with the author that without that feeling/attitude a relationship or friendship will become disrespectful.

There was one section that I did identify with the opposite partner in the story, the female half of relationship in article. When describing the challenges between a couple as they talk about how something makes them feel, and that something 'irrational' has a larger emotional effect. This is always a difficult conversation, I would say it happens in all relationships and friendships, how do you make someone understand how you feel, and that those feelings are valid and important, when they would feel so different in the same situation? Truly, our emotions are secrets! This section is powerful (please ignore the gender dichotomy and use of the word 'marriage', I think that this concept works across all types of relationships, partnerships, and friendships):

If he fully understood this secret she has never explained to him in a way that doesn’t make her sound crazy to him (causing him to dismiss it as an inconsequential passing moment of emo-ness), and that this [...] situation and all similar arguments will eventually end his marriage, I believe he WOULD rethink which battles he chose to fight, and would be more apt to take action doing things he understands to make his wife feel loved and safe.

I think a lot of times, wives don’t agree with me. They don’t think it’s possible that their husbands don’t know how their actions make her feel because she has told him, sometimes with tears in her eyes, over and over and over and over again how upset it makes her and how much it hurts.

 And this is important: Telling a man something that doesn’t make sense to him once, or a million times, doesn’t make him “know” something. Right or wrong, he would never feel hurt if the same situation were reversed so he doesn’t think his wife SHOULD hurt. It’s like, he doesn’t think she has the right to (and then use it as a weapon against him) because it feels unfair.

 “I never get upset with you about things you do that I don’t like!” men reason, as if their wives are INTENTIONALLY choosing to feel hurt and miserable.

When you choose to love someone, it becomes your pleasure to do things that enhance their lives and bring you closer together, rather than a chore.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A Quotable Evening

Taylor, Saturday Night: 
No Kristen, 
I am not your booze dumpster!

After Kristen was offering tequila that her and Noah had had around for a long time since neither of them like it. Happy Birthday to Kristen! Sorry that none of us helped out and drank the tequila for you, maybe next time.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Lifestyle Challenges

I read a lot of Buzzfeed, something that I got from Nicola and Kristen. I even have the app on my phone, which I definitely got from Nicola. I decided around New Years that I would try a bunch of their "Lifestyle Challenges" this year and see if I can gradually improve some of my habits.

I am going to start slow, since I am feeling too lazy to tackle any of the getting fit ones or even the one about becoming a morning person. I signed up for the 5-Day Inbox Cleanse, which promises the following:

Only five days to a better email inbox? With our new Inbox Cleanse, you’re going to take control of your email. It’s not about getting rid of all of your email completely — it’s about optimizing your inbox to highlight important messages, improving your communication over email, and cutting down on unnecessary clutter. Each day, we’ll give you a simple tip that you can act on, improving your inbox in only 10-15 minutes a day. And the positive skills and habits you learn will help you maintain your inbox’s sanity for long after the challenge is completed. Because your inbox deserves good email, and so do you.

I am using it for my personal Yahoo Mail account, since I am pretty good at organizing and sorting my email at work. What sucks is that the daily tips and instructions (which include app suggestions) has been created to work best with Gmail, which I don't use. However my personal account currently has 977 emails sitting in its Inbox, so any help is better than nothing.

It is a daily email course, so I had to give my email address and they will send me a message each day, starting tomorrow. I will report back at the end of the week to let you know how it went.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Wedding Work

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

This evening I need to spend some time setting up the website about Jason and my wedding, as well as, sort out the wording for our (email) invitations. We hope to get these sent out during the first week of February so that doesn't really leave us a lot of time. I thought today I would post a photo of Dad (with Mom) at Mike's wedding:

Mom And Dad
Micheal And Aimee's Wedding - July 2012
Photo of a photo

I love the expression on Mom's face. They were both so happy and proud. And how could we not be? Aimee is amazing, we are all so lucky to have had her join our family.

As for my upcoming wedding, it will be difficult to go through such a big milestone without Dad there. My current coping strategy for that is to just not think about it, and wedding planning is so overwhelming that it has been pretty easy to not focus on that aspect. I will need to spend some time reflecting and feeling and dealing with the fact that my father won't be at my wedding, because all that emotion shouldn't be ignored until the day of.

Back to the photo, my mom's hands also look so good here! Is she clapping? Also, that is totally Jeska who is slightly out of focus behind them.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Cat Tweets

--------- from Twitter (collected by Buzzfeed)

For my cat's birthday I'm covering my coffee table with change, bottle caps, pens & gum wrappers so he can just knock it all onto the floor.

How To Know If Your Cat Hates You
1. You own a cat
2. I'm sorry but you just need to accept this

My cat is playing with her tail and I'm bored with a device that gives me access to infinite knowledge.

*me petting my cat*
CAT: This is the happiest I will ever be
*a door opens*
CAT: Now is my chance to flee this prison and never return

How dare you call me mentally unstable, on this, the day of my cat's quinceanera.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Closer To 3 But Still Sad

The above image (from Facebook) is amusing, in a sad way. If you're Canadian, than you know that our dollar is doing very poorly in comparison to the American. It isn't actually at 25 cents, current exchange rates are closer to 70. However, has been declining for a while now, check out the chart for the last 5 years:
This has really hit me hard when it comes to travel. Teri and my road trip this past summer ended up costing much more anticipated, mainly because the dollar had fallen significantly from when we starting looking and booking things. The same thing happened with Jason and I in Chicago. I love to travel and I really like visiting places in The States, but I don't know how much longer I will be able to do so in an affordable fashion.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

My Own Lightsaber

A fun little feature on Facebook right now allows you to add a lightsaber to your profile picture. I love it!! You can pick the blue one or red x-bar style (if you edge more towards the Dark Side.) I wish I could adjust the location of it a tiny bit because it almost perfectly lines up with my hands.

(Also thank you to Steph for taking the original photo that I am currently using as my Facebook profile picture. Copywrite 2013 - Stephanie Beach Photography)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Peru Pic - A Llama And An Alpaca!

This is one of my personal favourites from my Peru trip, not because it is a particularly good photo but because I love llamas and alpacas and this picture features both:

Llama (top) Alpaca (bottom)
Read Mom's Post about our visit to this village
Ccaccaccollo, Sacred Valley, Peru
Photo by ME

Both of these animals are Camelids from South America but they are different. I think I love them equally.

Scientific Name: Llama glama
Weight: 300 lbs
Height: 4'
Ears: Long, banana-shaped
Fleece: Coarse outer coat over softer inner coat
Face: Very little hair on a long face
My First Experience: My mother reading Is Your Mama a Llama when I was a young

Scientific Name: Vicugna Pacos
Weight: 150 lbs
Height: 3'
Ears: Short, spear-shaped
Fleece: Very fine single coat
Face: Large tuft of hair that falls into eyes, furry face
My First Experience: ERin and Anne enjoying an Alpaca Star Wars YouTube Video in Ottawa

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Falling For Advertising

Yesterday I got an email from Jason asking if I wanted to go to a movie that evening, Cineplex was having a 'Blue Monday' special where it would only take 500 points to see something in any theatre. (Normally it is 1000-1500 depending on the type of theatre.) We decided to see Star Wars: Episode IIV - The Force Awakens again.

Not only did the promotion work for us, good job advertising, but the promotion is also based on an advertising created concept, double points. Similar to diamonds and engagement rings, the concept of 'Blue Monday' was created for a company, by an advertiser, in order to sell something. This date gets referenced every year and there is no actual science behind it.

Check out the CBC Article that describes the pseudoscience used by a travel company to market the end of January as a good time to book a vacation.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Diet Gamechanger

I started back on The Curves Diet today. I was still pretty much following it, except for over the holidays and in Peru, but I wasn't writing things down. With tracking/planning my meals and snacks I am better at sticking to small portions and healthy food.

The main breakfast on this diet has always been cottage cheese for me. Because I was feeling lazy, I decided I would bring some 'on-the-go' style cups to work so I can just eat one of those each morning. Normally I would portion out a big tub myself daily, or prep my own small tupperware, but as I mentioned - lazy.

When I went to pick up the normal 1% cottage cheese four-pack of small portions, I noticed a different type was available as well. Nordica Smooth, Lemon flavoured cottage cheese. I picked up a 4-pack of that too since it sounded interesting.

I tried the smooth lemon cottage cheese thing this morning and WOW! It is thicker than yogurt and tastes amazing. It is like a little lemon cheesecake treat. They have caramel and vanilla versions as well, according to the website, though I didn't see them at my grocery store. I don't even want to eat the 4 normal ones that I got, this smooth stuff is so delicious.

In comparison, the normal plain 1% on-the-go cottage cheese is 90 calories, 5g of sugar, and 14g of protein (the high protein is why it is an important part of The Curves Diet.) For a much more enjoyable little tub of the lemon stuff (and I really like normal cottage cheese on its own, it isn't a problem to eat for me at all), I feel like the nutritional difference is fairly minor; 110 calories, 12g of sugar, and 10g of protein.

Serious gamechanger!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Where I Get It From - Sleep & Caffine Edition

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

In connection to last night's post, I thought I would share how I am similar to my parents in terms of sleeping, as well as, how I am similar to Dad with reactions to caffeine.

Length of sleep needed: Mom. We need LOTS! Both my mom and I need more than the suggested 8 hours of sleep. Dad would stay up late and not need nearly as much.
Sleeping in: Both. My whole family, especially Mike, can do it and we enjoy it.
Late bedtime: Maybe Mom. I wouldn't really say that I get this from my dad who was a night hawk. If I develop a late bedtime scheduled it really messes with me and I end up needing to sleep in to make up the time, I am trying to stop staying up late.
Fall asleep quickly: Neither. In general, I don't struggle with this and I think to varying degrees both my parents did.
Fall asleep anywhere: Dad. I think my mom takes a while to settle into a new place, like not sleeping well the first night or two in a hotel and such. Dad would pass out on couches, the passenger seat, etc.
Napping: Dad.

Chocolate as preferred vehicle: Dad. Both my parents like chocolate, but my dad would eat a lot more of it, and eat it more casually then mom.
Enjoyment of pop: Dad. He didn't really drink caffeinated soda's like I do - my afternoon caffeine hit is always a diet cola of some type. Dad liked most types of pop but mainly drank Ginger Ale, I always wondered if it was because Mike and I didn't like it so never wanted it. Mom only drinks sparkling water.
Need for caffeine: Mom. She may try to cut down or cut back with splitting her coffee with decaf, but my mom has always had a coffee addiction and my Dad didn't.
Coffee's effect on my stomach - gut rot: Dad. Coffee is pretty hard on most people's stomachs. It gives me terrible gut rote (which is why I drink Chai Tea and pop) and it didn't agree with my dad's system  either.
Coffee's effect on my mouth - chatty: Dad.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Damn You Coke Zero

It is late late late on Saturday night and I am wide awake. Went onto my laptop in the office; away from Jason to let him sleep. (He is a light sleeper and I was worried that my tossing and turning would wake him up.)

While watching a movie this evening I decided to drink two cans of Coke Zero from the fridge. I usually don't have caffeine after 2pm, because it really messes with my sleep. However, I wanted something cold, fun, and refreshing, that felt like a treat. Most of the time I drink water, both at work and home. For a nice movie night on a couch I wanted something special. The pop was obviously a bad call.

Tomorrow I am going to buy apple juice boxes and keep them in the fridge. I think they will fulfill the same need in a less "keeping me awake" type of way.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Peru Pic - Maybe Teri's Favourite

When we were hanging out last night, Teri stated that this photo from my SLR was her favourite, but then changed her mind a few more times as we were going through my trip pictures.

Archaeological site on the Inca Trail
Cusco Region, Peru - January 4, 2016
Photo by Me

I am choosing to post it, instead of the others she mentioned, because it symbolizes a rare 'once in a lifetime' moment for me. I am having a hard time thinking of another time that I ever thought to myself, "This is it. I am never going to see/do this again."

The 'again sometime' attitude for travel means that I never feel rushed or pressured to see everything because I plan to be back in the future. Even when I was on the Trans-Siberian Express, I was thinking to myself that I would do that train ride again. I still hope that I get to go and see everything in reverse, in the winter.

However, I am not going to do the Inca Trail again. I want to return to Peru, I want to see Machu Picchu again when I am not tired, and I would even enjoy doing more trekking. But this specific 4-day hike was really a one time thing. (An amazing, incredible, absolutely thrilling one time thing that I am so happy to have experienced.)

So, we saw this site on the third day of the trek, which was the best day. The photo is taken after climbing over Runkuracay Pass, the second, and last, major mountain on the hike. We had slept the night before at 3,350m elevation, only to wake up and climb to 3,975m to get over the final huge mountain pass. The ruins are around 300m in elevation below me, and about 2km hiking away.

The thing is, to visit them, you need to walk up 100 steps through its only entrance to explore and then walk back down the same way. So, at the point in time when I am taking this photo I was seriously considering not bothering making the climb to see it and just stay resting on the trail below.

However, I didn't want to miss out, so by the time I hiked there, I had made the decision that I would climb up. In fact I counted 98 steps up and 97 steps down so it really depends on what rocks you consider steps to get a count of 100. You can see the stairs against the cliff below the left side of the ruins in the picture. The hike was once in a lifetime, I tried to experience it all to the fullest.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Year Ahead

I decided to check out my 2016 horoscope (Gemini) online to see what it said about the coming year. This is a summary from the two major sites (my notes are italics and in the square brackets.) To make them more readable I have edited the wording to take out the planet references and moved the text into first person perspective.

I am a rising star in 2016, but it will take constant effort to avoid slipping back down. Am I up for this? Of course I am! My attention is zeroed in on making progress, getting and holding on to those things I love most [I tend to focus on holding onto things 'I love the most' every year], and on not being rushed into making decisions. This year, I will ask all the right questions and refuse to proceed without solid answers and information. [Yup, sounds like me every year.]

May and September may [may? well that means nothing] be my most accomplished and solid times. September [wedding month!] is especially potent. I can easily self-correct and nudge situations and relationships to where I want them. Home life should bring much satisfaction, and possibly some karmic insights, particularly in September and October. [I need as much house karma as possible, renovations and being a first time home owner are scary prospects.]

Family mysteries may be solved, or resolved. [Interesting, can't think of any that even exist at the moment.] Emotional ties and romance are empowered in November, but it may be December when I am the most intense, powerful, and effective. [Well, that's a long way away.] I can do great things this year!

I will run rampant this year. [I don't know what this means. How so?] As the year begins I need to stop in my tracks, review my status, and set a pattern for my behavior for the upcoming twelve months. [This is good advice, but I don't have a lot of time. I did try to reflect a bit during my time hiking in Peru.]

During times when testing is inevitable, there is no end to the targets: romantic unions, friendship, or career. I'll get in there and dig deep and this could be one of the most transformative years in decades. [Well a house and a wedding are both pretty big things.]  

I want my way this year [or every/any year] and will use any means to achieve that end. I have decided that my career must have more personal meaning, and look for more authenticity [I don't like this word] in all areas of my life. I will achieve inner peace with my home and family of origin. [Inner peace sounds good.]

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

My Mind Today


Monday, 11 January 2016

Peru Pic - Everyone's Favourite

So far, whenever I had clicked through my series of photos from Peru - showing people images from my recent trip - everyone has commented on this picture. There have even been gasps and people saying, "Wow." However, like photos from other trips, or photos of me, I don't necessarily agree that it is spectacular or even the best of the lot.

Inca Site From Above
Classic Inca Trail, Peru - January 2016
Photo by Christine Sweeton

Also, you get this awesome angle on things when you are hiking at such high elevations. This isn't even an Inca ruin that we visited, just saw it down in the valley from our position high up in the mountains. I am using a pretty serious zoom here.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Happy Birthday Baby

Born: January 10, 2015
Thank you for my first year as an aunt!
I have loved it.
(Also is Mom's first year as a grandmother - top photo.)

Getting There And Getting Home

Colouring And Kindle
Cruz Del Sur Bus Station - Lima, Peru
December 2015
Photo by ME

I made use of one of my Christmas presents, an 'adult' colouring book, during down time while travelling to Peru. I coloured on planes and during layovers, while I did try during the bus ride I ended up agreeing with Jason that it was "extreme colouring" and that I would end up going outside the lines with all the bumps. The Kindle that I got Jason for his birthday this year never seems to need to be recharged, he plugs it in once a month or so!

Our travel to Peru from Toronto, in an attempt to keep the trip costs as low as possible, was a lengthy and complicated ordeal. An overnight flight to Mexico City led to a full day layover; so, we put our heavy carry on luggage in a locker and took the subway to the historic district to explore. Another overnight flight to Lima meant that we had enough time to make our way to the bus station and find some food before the late afternoon start for the 22 hour bus ride over the mountains to Cusco. The same happened in reverse - but we spent the day in Mexico City booked into a hotel trying to catch up on sleep.

I don't regret the lengthy and difficult travel choices. Even though we could have paid more for shorter layovers or a more direct route or even flown straight to Cusco, financially the cost savings of doing it the hard way still matter on a tight 'house-buying' budget. I enjoyed the adventure of our route and I won't pretend that this method wasn't exhausting and at times frustrating; but I never want to stop travelling. I am willing to make sacrifices in order to save money and continue to explore the world.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Recovery Weekend

I have learnt that it is too difficult to come home from a vacation the night before returning to work (or worse the morning of, which I have also done.) So, Jason and my flight landed in Toronto at 6:00am today and I have 2 full days to recover from my trip before heading into work on Monday morning.

Here are my plans:
- Nap to catch up from 3 nights of bad sleep (bus, plane, plane)
- Laundry, so much laundry
- Load the photos from my SLR, can't wait to see them
- Review the 300 odd emails that have accumulated in my personal account
- Go to a spin class to get back into regular exercise
- Pick up Two from Teri's
- Unpack not only from the trip but also Christmas stuff
- Update Always Standing with more details/photos from Peru!

Photo: The Inca Trail winding through subtropical jungle in the Andes' highlands of Peru. Photo by ME from my phone.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Travelling With Our Boys

I haven't been the only one away over the holidays. My previous travel partners:
- Steph (England 2008)
- Teri (North American Road Trips)
who are both married to amazing guys, went on holidays recently with them. So, while Jason and I are in Peru, this is where they traveled:
- Steph and Dave went to Las Vegas 
- Teri and Greg went to France and Belgium
I am excited to see their pictures and hear about their trips!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Hiking Companions Part 3

Our Friends And Guide, on the Inca Trail
(From Left) Danny, Casey, Ryan, Fiona, and our guide, David
Photo by Me

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Trekking Lessons In Peru

Jason, Mom, and I are back from our Inca Trail trek over mountains to Machu Picchu and similar to my post about the lessons I learned the first few days in Peru, I thought I would share some hiking insight in case anyone else is considering an adventure in The Andes. (Highly recommended!!) Here are some things I noticed during my time on the trail:

- Take bug spray and use it. The bugs were not bothering me, but I found out afterwards that I had been bitten a lot - see photo on the right (I have about 10 band-aids on right now.) The bites didn't hurt and I seriously never noticed them happening, but they bled and are super itchy now.

- Walk slowly, rest, and be patient. It is a really really hard hike; there are some long days and some very difficult days. I was frequently getting into camp an hour or so before 'tea time' and a few hours before dinner. I could have been a little kinder to my body and eased up a bit.

- Use hiking poles. These were a life saver! I couldn't have handled the over 6,000 stone steps without them.

- Bring a headlamp. Going to the bathroom in the dark isn't particularly fun or easy, using a headlamp doesn't really make it more fun or even easier, but at least you can see. Also, the final morning has a wake up time of 3:30am and a short hike in the dark to a control centre - see photo of a sleepy Jason on the left.

Lastly, if in any way you can save energy for the final day when arriving at Machu Picchu try to do so. We were so exhausted that we only spent about three and a half hours exploring before taking the bus down the mountain and chilling out at a restaurant, waiting for the train back to a hotel with warm showers and comfortable beds. The site is absolutely amazing and definitely the type of place Mom and I would have easily spent 8 or more hours at, but we were sore and tired. I will have to visit it again in the future!

Hiking Companions Part 2

Jason, resting during our Cusco Practice Hike
Cusco, Peru - December 31, 2015
Photo by Me

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Failed Again

So, it seems like every year I make a goal to post every day on Always Standing; then the year finishes and the numbers don't add up to that magical 365. Of course, 2015 was no exception - I only did 242 posts, less than the year before. However, that still means that I was writing on about two thirds of the days last year and it is a fairly high number when you review my history (check out the Blog Archive on the left.) Of course I have the goal again for 2016, let's see if this time I can do it.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Hiking Companions Part 1

Mom, on our Cusco Practice Hike
Cusco, Peru - December 31, 2015
Photo by Me 
(Yes, there is a llama over by the fence.)

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Early Lessons In Peru

I am in Peru! I have wanted to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu for a long time and Mom, Mike, and I were considering doing it as a family for the past few years but it has been difficult to arrange (Mike and Aimee keep having babies.) So, Mom, Jason, and I decided to stop stalling and book the trip. As this gets posted we will have met up with our G Adventures tour group and be driving towards our starting point for the trek. (I am writing this during the first few days of our trip, having spent some time in Cusco ourselves ahead of the official tour start.) Thus far, here are some things I have noticed:

- Peru has so many different geographic areas! From the coast to the mountains our 22 hour bus ride to get to Cusco from Lima went through sand dunes and lush forest.

- Toilet paper doesn't go in the toilet, there is always a small trashcan close by for it. This is super hard to remember because it is just instinct to throw it in the toilet bowl. I hope I am not destroying the country's waste water system with the number of times I have forgotten.

- It hasn't been that warm here. Our layover in Mexico City gave us a taste of why Canadians go south this time of year but we have been wearing long sleeved shirts for the most part in Peru.

- Altitude Sickness is a thing, we started to feel it even before our bus reached the 3,400 meter elevation in Cusco. Glad to have a few days to rest since we have been dealing with headaches and shortness of breath.

- It is important to negotiate the price of a taxi ride before getting in the taxi. This negotiation can involve some haggling depending on the departure and destination locations. It is not advised to get in assuming that the sign with prices posted at the airport will be the same price once dropped off at the bus station, we got charged twice what we expected. 

- The food is cheap and amazing. Jason and I have been eating in tiny restaurants or picking up food at the market and everything is delicious. Thus far everything has tasted very fresh and flavorful, but not too spicy. 

If you are interested in more details from the trip, stay tuned, I will keep posting about it! You can also check out my Facebook page where I have been posting food-related photos, or visit Mom`s blog, vicarious travelling, also linked on the left.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Feliz Ano Nuevo From Peru!

Cusco, Peru filled up with yellow yesterday and Thursday. The colour is supposed to bring good luck and it is everywhere on New Year's Eve. People are selling yellow flowers, leis, hats, and more. There was a massive increase in vendors for all the yellow products in the markets, public squares, and lining the major streets. All the cashiers at the grocery store were where wearing various yellow foam hats, but some of them didn't seem to have their heart in it. It reminded me a bit of Stampede in Calgary where the whole city gets "into it" but sometimes it is forced. I am excited for 2016 so it isn't forced from me - Happy New Years! (or Feliz Ano Nuevo, which is missing some accents over the letters but I am too lazy to find the keyboard shortcuts for them.)

Friday, 1 January 2016

Casa Verde - Our New Home

Happy New Year! I wanted to start 2016 off with a big announcement – Jason and I bought a house!!! We are very excited and it was a grueling process, the Toronto housing market is insane. I was frequently upset and stressed during 2015, especially the past few months, dealing with the overwhelming task of trying to buy a house in Toronto; giving up and looking at places in the general GTA or even further away kept looking like a tempting option (though the market anywhere that is considered commutable to Toronto is pretty rough.) I am glad that we stuck with our goal to stay in The City. We have found a place that we are very happy with.

We were able to buy a detached 3 bedroom house in the Mount Dennis area. It has been named Casa Verde, which roughly translates to Green House in Spanish (the second most common language spoken in the area.) Right now old windows and lack of insulation mean that the house isn't very energy efficient and it is our goal to work towards making it a more eco-friendly property. Jason and I are also very 'green' when it comes to home owning.

There are a lot of renovations to be done, so even though we take possession in mid-March we probably won't be moving in until a few weeks after that. I can't wait to start posting fun Before and After shots of the renovations and decorating.