Monday, January 23, 2017

10 Winter Activities in Northern New Brunswick

10 Winter Activities in Northern New Brunswick
Last week is deemed to be the most depressing week of the year - not exactly an upbeat way to start a blog post, right?! Don't worry, it gets better!

For a variety of reasons including the winter blues and presidential inaugurations many people (myself included) were left feeling less than awesome last week. I only put this all together when discussing with one of my friends and colleagues on Friday and we both concluded we decide our own destiny and how we feel. Essentially there is no point to dwell on the "depressing" season or situation as it may be but instead take those lemons life has handed us and make lemonade (or do marghueritas, whichever suits your fancy).

Here are some suggestions for ways to make your days a little brighter with some of my favourite things to do in Northern New Brunswick this winter:
10 Winter Activities in Northern New Brunswick

1. Skating in Belledune- there is public skating every Sunday evening from 6pm to 7pm for $2/ that is not a typo... $2! You can't beat that! 

2. Take to the trails - there are so many trails in Northern New Brunswick I cannot possibly list them all... the ones that make the top of my list are:
- Unadvertised, but absolutely awesome cross country ski-trail/snow shoe trail/walking trail in Belledune. Ask a local for directions to one of the starting points and enjoy the 4+km treck. There are rest stops along the trail and even a place to enjoy a campfire.
- Daley Park in Bathurst
- Charlo trails
-Atlas Park in Pointe-Verte

3. Walk the beach - This might not be what most of us think of doing in the winter, but as someone who lives along the shore and looks out onto the beach/water year round I can attest that there is a certain calming effect and sense of warmth walking through the sand in snow boots.

4. Paint a picture - Paint nights are becoming extremely popular; Northern New Brunswick is no exception with the ladies at The Tipsy Artist hosting paint nights regularly. Join their Facebook group to be notified of upcoming events. Side Note: This is also a great excuse for a Mom's night out!
10 Winter Activities in Northern New Brunswick

5. Go to a Titan hockey game - they have awesome family packages for Sunday afternoon games to make this an affordable option and offers entertainment for all ages!

6. Enjoy local festivals - Festival des Siffleux (Beresford), Sno-Fest (Campbellton), Ice Carnival (Shippagan), etc.

7. Sleigh Ride - I have to admit I haven't done this since I was a kid, but it is on the list of activities to take advantage of this winter! We plan to try out Sunny Side Sleigh Rides before the spring.

8. Sliding at Sugarloaf Park - sliding is one of those activities that everyone considers to be a child's activity... until you go sliding as an adult and realize all the fun you've been missing out on! Sugarloaf Park is one of our favourite places to go hiking in the summer/fall months, but it is a pretty neat spot for winter activities as well!

9. Sugar Shack - Fresh maple syrup and maple EVERYTHING! Writing this is making me crave a "licherie" from Surerie Chiasson in Paquetville, NB

10. Enjoy the snow - in Northern New Brunswick we often refer to the snow as white gold since it attracts many tourists to our region. People come from all over the maritimes and beyond to enjoy our top ranked snow mobile trails and hospitality. Take advantage of this white fluffy stuff... build a snowman, make snow angels, etc. (Side Note: It makes children sleep REALLY well when they've been outside! Another perk... haha)

Let me know what other activities we can try this winter and be sure to share this post with anyone looking for some winter activity ideas :)

My shoes for that: SOREL plus winter carnival boots (and yes, I have used these boots before in a different color, but they really are the BEST winter activity boots out there...and they're on sale right now!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lessons Learned at Paint Night

Lessons Learned at Paint Night
This year I set a goal to "be less than perfect"... and to qualify this goal, really it means to be less than my version of perfect and remove pressure to be this "version of perfection" for everything I do. 

None of us are perfect and never will be and yet we put pressure on ourselves constantly to be "perfect". As a mom I think this desire for perfection is stronger than ever before. I know all the moms reading this are nodding in agreement... We want to have perfect little children who behave, are polite, say the right things, treat others nicely, wave goodbye to strangers (even though we have taught them not to talk to strangers), and the list goes on and on. AND, this part was only about our kids... there are still our marriages, our relationships, our careers, our homes, our hobbies, etc. etc. etc. Realistically, if our children eat something (and I mean doesn't have to be organic or homemade) and they behave 50% of the time we are doing better than most other moms would ever expect!

I always knew that I was slightly OCD (Side Note: Not, Obsessive Christmas Disorder (although this is also true, but obsessive-compulsive disorder.) Going to a paint night where the instructor says "go outside the lines, it doesn't matter" made shivers go through me. At that moment I realized just how effective art (or really anything that lets us be creative) allows us to see the beauty in imperfections.

At the beginning of the class the instructor asked the group if anyone was still stressed about painting the painting. I raised my hand and so did a few others, but the vast majority were pretty comfortable with the task at hand, or at least they were comfortable with painting freely. I was still pretty nervous about "messing up". When painting the rocks, which had to be outlined, then painted, then outlines and painted again until finally outlined one last time it practically took me singing "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen in my head to allow myself to hit the black lines and trust the instructor telling us they would look better if we hit the lines. Talk about a mental struggle and all for rocks!
Lessons Learned at Paint Night

During the class the instructor pointed out a lady's art work and asked the class what they thought about her rocks that had a big white area on them... If I rewind for a second, the lady was originally asking the instructor how to fix her "mistake". The class all agreed that she should not "fix" the white, but leave it there as it added dimension to the rocks. Just like that her "mistake" became the new "perfect" that many were trying to imitate. The point is - we all strive to be our own version of perfection when someone else out there is striving to be just like each one of us in each of our own constant struggles to be the best. BE YOU! That is more than enough!
Lessons Learned at Paint Night
Photo Credit: The Tipsy Artist Facebook Page
In the end we each ended up with a piece of unique artwork - not one rock the same, not one lighthouse the same... and that's what makes the painting so special. No matter how many times or how hard you try to replicate it, it just won't happen.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The 2016 Year in Wine

The 2016 Year in Wine
2016 marked my "return to wine" after being pregnant for the majority of 2015. Wine was never my beverage of choice in my earlier drinking years, but soon became a favourite when travelling on business and being offered vino at nearly every turn. I developed a sense of the flavours I enjoyed in both white and red varietals and have to admit my preferences in wine change with the seasons.

In the spring/summer I drink almost exclusively white wine. The main reason is I love to have a chilled beverage in the warm months... and for that same reason (but the opposite) I tend to lean toward red wines in the fall/winter months.

I started the year off buying my favourite wines to savour in the flavours that I had missed out on in 2015; the first bottles I bought once I could drink again were:
  • Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio - white from Italy
    • Side Note: Gabbiano Promessa Pinot Grigio that I reviewed in 2016 is incredibly similar and about $6 less expensive/bottle... it's still not Santa Marghertia but it is certainly a great alternative with similar flavour.
  • Clancy's - red from Australia
    • Side Note: This is always my "go to" red when I a not sure of what to buy... it seems to suit most people, has a fun label and is from Australia (my favourite red wine country).
And only now am I realizing that I have no featured them on my blog for Wine O'Clock. Not to worry, they are surely to be reviewed and paired with their matching shoes (well at least my opinion of their matching shoes) this year. 
The 2016 Year in Wine
I would be remiss if I didn't include some actual data and some expert opinions on the 2016 year in wine. afterall, everything I write about here is 100% my non professional, regular wine drinking person's opinion. Vivino has a fantastic overview of 2016 - here is my summary of the 2016 year in wine:

2016 in three words - Modernizing. Natural. Expansive. 
The varietal big winner - Rosé
The region that was the hottest - Sicily and China
Best wine and food pairing in 2016 - Guacamole and Riesling (I don't know about you, but I will be trying this combination with Relax Riesling ASAP!)

Cheers to another year!

My shoes for that: Women's Carmen Pump, Comfort Plus by Predictions

Side Note: These shoes are SUPER comfortable and have rubber soles so they aren't annoying for everyone else in your office... they are  honestly worth buying in every color! AND, they are on sale for $15 making it totally possible to actually buy them in every color! 

Monday, January 2, 2017

New year, new you - How to start the year off right

New Year

Like every year I always have great ambitions on December 31 for the coming year. My ambitions consistently consist of wanting to lose the extra pounds I've been carrying around, exercise more (or at all) and eat healthy. The downside to these ambitions is that they are HUGE tasks (well, for me at least) in my already crazy life. I typically succeed for about a month, like the millions of others in North America that join gyms and start diets in January, but then the fad goes away and I fail... every.single.year.

Last year felt like a whirl wind. And in many ways... I was (and still am) a new mom getting used to everything in my world being about my Little Dude, I was on maternity leave for the majority of the year, I weighed more than I ever thought possible, I had support and yet I didn't always appreciate it, I started writing initially as a therapeutic way to get my thoughts on "paper", the Mr. started a new job, and... the list goes on. 

I have never tried to summarize an entire year into one word, but after seeing some fellow members of East Coast Moms Media discussing this on our FaceBook group I was inspired to think of a word. My word might seem simple, not very creative and rather dull, but here is goes - GRATEFUL. I am grateful for my family and friends that kept telling me I was doing a good job as a mom (and as a person) when I really didn't believe them. I am grateful more than ever for my mom and my mother-in-law. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and have created for myself with blogging and in my career. And most of all, I am grateful for my Little Dude and the Mr.. They are my number one fan club, biggest supporters and the reason everything I do is worth doing.

This year is going to be different. I know, I know... this is the same thing we all say every year. But this year I mean it. I have a few goals in mind but am not setting them in stone as "resolutions" and although I do want to get rid of a few pounds, exercise more and eat healthy these ambitions are not my main focus. This year my theme is "just do it".

My plan for success is pretty simple - I am setting more realistic goals that benefit me, my family and hopefully the people around me. After reading this article from called "10 Ways to Start 2017 Off Right" I am convinced that making a list of small, realistic goals is the way to go. The article suggests tackling their 10 suggestions in the first week to get the year started "correctly" - I think its a great list, but let's get real... this is not going to happen this week. In my case, I would be happy with getting all of these things done throughout the year. some of them really should be done in January, but items like "read a book" could really take a backseat to "check in on your finances". 

Here is my list of items "to do" for a successful 2017:
  1. Self improvement - There are always things to improve... in my case I want to consciously work on being more patient and showing gratitude.
  2. Family - As everyone keeps telling me "Little Dude will not be little for ever", so with that in mind I want to enjoy the little things with him and the Mr. as much as possible. Take time for family outings, play after work/daycare and not worry so much about making the perfect dinner or getting the dishes done.
  3. Be less than perfect - I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to be my version of "perfect" at everything. My goal this year is to remove that pressure and "just do it" knowing that it doesn't have to be perfect, others will not mind and in the end this should make #1 and #2 a lot easier to accomplish!
  4. Blog - I started this blog as means of therapy for myself. It helps me relax and put things into perspective, the same way colouring or making a cross stitch does for me; it is a way to write my thoughts, connect with others and hopefully provide some useful content to others. This year I want to continue this blogging journey and see where it takes us (we are in this together!)
  5. Reconnect - There are so many people that come and go in our lives whether they be from elementary school, university, a job you used to have, a project you once worked on, etc. My goal this year is to reach out to one person per month, find out how they are and reconnect even if its in the smallest way.
  6. Try something new - I have no idea what the "something new" might be as of now, but I think adding this to the list brings a small sense of adventure to the year ahead.
Here's to making this year the best one yet! 
Happy New Year everyone!

nike sneakers
Yes, those are my feet/ankles on my deck... what a beautiful day!