Costa Rican life

Well friends, I’m still living the Costa Rican life and loving every second of it. Can I just stay here forever? Would anyone notice?

We travelled from San Jose to Arenal/La Fortuna and last I posted we were heading to Monteverde. Well, we’ve left Monteverde, where I didn’t post because:

  1. The wifi was spotty with the weather and being up in the rainforest.
  2. I was too busy having fun!

The Monteverde Cloud Reserve was stunning.

I literally cannot put into words or even photos how stunning it was. The views were spectacular and it was just so… green. Unbelievable.

I love big trees and I was definitely in my element. 

And we even saw monkeys! I have no photo on account of the fact that they were moving too quickly through the trees above us.

We are now heading to Tamarindo. It will be lovely to be on the beach, but I’m going to miss the view we got to wake up to in our hotel every morning in Monteverde.

Pura Vida!

Let’s go to Costa Rica

Hola amigos! I’m very lucky to be writing right now from a bus driving through Costa Rica (which has wifi, score!).

We left bright and early on Saturday morning and get to be here for two weeks.

Thus far, I’ve had the pleasure of wandering San Jose and La Fortuna and have had a great time in both. 

We were worried about San Jose as we had heard it’s very dangerous, but we stayed in a great hotel and just wandered around during the day. We checked out the National Museum, which was easy to get to and right downtown, so it wasn’t sketchy.

La Fortuna was beautiful and we explored the waterfall and visited the hanging bridges (terrifying if you, like me, are scared of heights and wiggly structures) which had absolutely stunning views.

Our hotel had an amazing view of the volcano, so it was pretty easy and lovely to wake up in the mornings.

They also had a great happy hour (my favourite!) which we had a happy time indulging in.

We’re on the move now and I want to finish up posting before we’re done driving and out of wifi!

Pura vida!

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Stampede 2015!

Well, fellow life-livers, another Calgary Stampede has come and passed, and it was another successful one (for me at least, hopefully for everyone else, too).

As per my way, I dusted off my boots early this year, and I was crazy excited!


Don’t mind the old buckle!

We started Stampede off with Bull Bustin’ at Ranchman’s on Canada Day. It was my first year attending, and it was an awesome time! I would highly recommend it to others as an awesome pre-Stampede party.


The view from our seats.

For sneak-a-peak, I went to the Cowboy’s tent around 4:00pm and actually lasted pretty long this year. Usually, I end up being way too tired to make it past about 9:00pm. So three cheers for making it up past bed-time!

Friday, I ended up (again) at the Cowboys tent, much to my distaste as I would have preferred to not attend the same tent so many nights in a row (I already had tickets for Cowboys Saturday and for Blue Rodeo and Alan Jackson the upcoming week).

Saturday was a long haul, but a good one! We started the day out at a Stampede breakfast, following it up with a different Stampede party, and ended up at Cowboys (yes, again). The parties were a ton of fun, but Cowboys was my enemy particularly this day as they played some of the worst music I remember ever having heard. The majority of music they played was pop (really bad pop, like Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Kiss, etc.) and when they occasionally played a country song it was really bad country (like Goodybye Earl, She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy, Cowboy Cassanova, etc.) I was obviously not impressed and we left before 7:00pm to get dinner (we were not going to eat from the very bad food truck options).

Sunday: Much needed day off!

Monday, we hit up Blue Rodeo. The show was great, but the band didn’t come out until 10:45pm, so I left right after they played “Head Over Heels” (my favourite) because I had an early morning Tuesday.

Yes, Tuesday was a long haul, starting off with Bull Shooters at 8:00am and needed to make it to Alan Jackson (who started playing at 10:30pm). Bull Shooters ended at 1:00pm and trucked us all to – you guessed it – Cowboys. I was done with Cowboys at this point, but I stayed for awhile before leaving for dinner and then returning for Alan Jackson. Indeed, I was very responsible this day and made it through Alan’s entire set without falling asleep (quite remarkable as I am usually asleep by 9:30pm, and that’s without drinking beer all day).

George Canyon came out and sang some One Direction before Alan started!

George Canyon came out and sang some One Direction before Alan started!

I had a long, sunny day on Wednesday; first attending the rodeo, then visiting the horses before hitting up the chuck wagons. I’m a huge rodeo and chucks fan so this was a great day!

The rodeo!

The rodeo!

The chucks!

The chucks!

On Thursday, I and planned to see Miranda Lambert, but when she cancelled, I decided to take another day off from Stampede as I was starting to get a wee bit of a cold (uh oh!).

Who wants to guess where I ended up Friday? I started out strong; went to Cowboys to meet a friend in from town early in the afternoon before heading to Nashville North to meet another friend in from town. We planned staying the night at Nashville North (I hadn’t been to NN since it moved locations last year and I was really impressed; the open air is awesome and the bathrooms were on crazy clean with no lines. Further, because it’s actually part of the Stampede; they don’t ignore the fire limit so you could actually move around and dance.) However, we got word from a bunch of friends that they were all heading to Cowboys and our friends at NN were headed to Blake Shelton, so we ended up back at Cowboys, yet again. Despite being at Cowboys way too much for all of Stampede, we still had a good time.

Cheers to Stampede!

Cheers to Stampede!

Saturday, we were out of town for a wedding, so we obviously did not Stampede (it’s very sad to miss the last really crazy day of Stampede).

Finally Sunday, I really debated seeing Nelly and Kip Moore because I’m literally obsessed with I love him with a passion. I wanted to dress up in a sweet baseball jersey with air force ones and a band-aid, but I just couldn’t do it. Knowing that Cowboys likes to sell drinks to patrons for a solid 4-5 hours before the main act even comes on, I knew I couldn’t do it, so I guess I gave up early this year. I must be getting old.

Today, I’ve been cleaning up the remnants of the past week, including cleaning and re-spraying my boots:

Bye boots, see you next rodeo or country concert!

Bye boots, see you next rodeo or country concert!

Recycling old tickets and piggy-banking extra change:

Stampede remnants.

Stampede remnants.

And finally, actually putting nutrients in my body. It really misses being fed real food:

Yay for real food!

Yay for real food!

And so we come to a bittersweet time; Stampede is over, but we can live like real people again. Now my countdown begins for Christmas, the second best time of the year!

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One of the best days of the year happened yesterday…

…were you part of it?

In my mind, it’s officially summer. Yesterday was one of the best days of the whole year (if you weren’t trying to drive north of 50th that is): the Calgary Marathon and the Lilac Festival.

My plan this year was to run the full marathon and then head to the lilac festival to eat brunch and drink beer. It didn’t go quite as planned, however.

I haven’t felt fully confident about running the full marathon, even though I trained and ran a solid 35km two weeks before. I know it technically goes against all professional running advice, but I do not like to run distances I have yet to reach, and I have never run 42.2km. I was hoping to run between 40 and 45km about three weeks before the race and it just didn’t happen, so I planned to downgrade at the expo.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t read through the website thoroughly enough and didn’t realize I had to downgrade my race Saturday by noon. I showed up Saturday at one. OH MY GOD! I thought, I am going to HAVE to run a full marathon!

My bib and shirt all ready for me to be scraped off the road in.

My bib and shirt all ready for me to be scraped off the road in.

Then I thought of a master plan; why wouldn’t I just take my timer off? It peels off easily, I’m certainly not going to win the half marathon, and I am unconcerned about my time, I just want to finish. And so that is what I did. I took off the timer, and looked like a lunatic running the half marathon in a full marathon bib. I fully expected to get yelled at by a marshall for cheating or just being a dummy who missed the turnoff, but luckily it didn’t happen.

And so I ended up with a medal and a bib that don’t match. (On a related note, if anyone finished the half only to discover there weren’t enough medals, please let me know, I guess I technically stole it, I always assume there will be some no-shows).

Perhaps one day the two shall match...

Perhaps one day the two shall match…

Anyway, after the race, I obviously headed to the Lilac Festival and drank all the beer and at all the burgers I deserved while sitting in the hot sun (seriously, yesterday was a perfect day). We wandered a bit first (the picture below was taken before 10am, when the festival was basically “dead”), then headed to Joyce on 4th.

Wandering 4th

Wandering 4th

I think Lilac Festival is also the day of the year in which the most Calgarians lose balloons. Or perhaps that’s sometime during Stampede…

Goodbye, little balloon, we shall miss you.

Goodbye, little balloon, we shall miss you.

Anyway, it’s official (to me): Summer is here and Stampede is a month away!!

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Be Smart and Save and Earn Money Online

Hello again friends!

I’m here to talk a bit about online shopping (yay!). It’s nothing new or exceptional, but I feel as though I’m constantly explaining to people why I literally buy 95% of everything online. From groceries to clothes to electronics, and so on. First of all, for the majority of my online purchases, I can get money back.

For example, most stores I shop at are affiliated with Ebates (Ebates Canada link here and American Ebates link here), which gives me a percentage of my money back on each purchase I make. Plus, if you create an account and refer your friends, you’ll also earn extra cash after they make their first purchase. A lot of the time, it won’t add up to a lot. But if you’re like me and purchase the majority of your things online, you’re making a pretty solid number back in cash.

Like Ebates, you can also shop through Swagbucks. Here, there aren’t as many stores affiliated, but the site itself is basically a “make money for doing small tasks” website. So shopping is one way to earn points that you can turn into cash or gift certificates and so are things like taking surveys and watching videos. I really like this site because I can flip through their video clips easily while doing something else and earn points.

Snacks from iHerb!

Snacks from iHerb!

The biggest problems with Swagbucks and Ebates are that many stores linked to them don’t offer the food products I eat. I don’t like leaving the house for anything because I’m a hermit! Thankfully, I can get things like produce, dried fruit, nut butters, and (my favourite) Bounce balls delivered from Spud (click here to sign up and put in the code “CRCAL-SYMKAT” to receive $20 off your first order).

Some of my favourites from Spud!

Some of my favourites from Spud!

I also get my protein bars and PB2 from Low Carb Canada or iHerb. Both are really great, but iHerb is in American dollars, so the conversion isn’t always ideal. Also, you may have to pay extra duties (which is the worst!). I bounce back and forth from them for items the other may not sell or may be out of stock in. Low Carb Canada is nice because, like Spud, you earn loyalty points and you can earn money from referrals. iHerb lets you make money on referrals and will give you cash off your first order. If you want to save $10 on your first iHerb order, type in my discount code: FLW025.

I LOVE when my Quest Bars arrive!

I LOVE when my Quest Bars arrive!

And that’s the biggest point I make to friends. It may seem crazy to wait for things in the mail, or to not try clothes on, but for the most part, I know my size in clothes, and I order household supplies and food before I run out. This way, I end up saving a bunch of money in the long run. I recommend it to EVERYONE I meet like a crazy person!

Once more, the sites I use are as follows:

Ebates Canada

American Ebates


Spud (Discount code: CRCAL-SYMKAT)

iHerb (Discount code: FLW025)

Low Carb Canada

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Life Living

Hello friends!

I’ve been back in Calgary quite some time now, but I still can’t get used to how dry it is! I was only away two weeks and my skin and hair won’t forgive me for dashing their dreams of living in a humid climate permanently.

I was lucky enough to go to the hockey game last week (the AWESOME Calgary vs. Canucks one on Saturday night), and I know it’s a bit late in posting, but the Anaheim series is proving depressing thus far, so I thought I’d share.

We had great seats right on the attacking end so the third period was insane.

Great seats!

Great seats!

I took a video right after we scored the fifth goal. The dome was completely insane and it only got crazier after the next two goals. It won’t embed from my phone, but you can check it out on my Instagram here.

The game was awesome, but I definitely didn’t make it to the Police Half Marathon the next morning (whoops). Still worth it.

On to this weekend, though. Last night I went out to Beerfest, which was a ton of fun. And, an old picture from a couple of years ago of some friends and I was in Metro this week to promote Beerfest. We’re pretty much famous now.

Famous in a small town.

Famous in a small town.

It was great this year for me particularly because they had a TON of ginger beer, which I absolutely love. I was also a huge fan of Wild Rose’s infused Wraspberry. They had two different barrels, one infused with grapefruit and the other with lavender. Both we’re ah-mah-zing (I’m channelling my inner Penny). It’s running again tonight, so if you can score yourself a ticket, I suggest you do!

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Maui Nights

Aloha again from Maui! We’re just finishing up our jaunt here and it’s very bittersweet. I am sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful island but also excited to get back to work and finish up the teaching year (check out my work-only blog here if you have any interest in educational matters).

We’ve had beautiful sunsets throughout our trip, though I’ve often been too focused on them to think about snapping a picture. Here’s a great one I got from a couple nights ago:

A Maui sunset

A Maui sunset

And I know I’ve titled this post “Maui Nights”, but the days aren’t too bad, either.

Now that's a view I could get used to!

Now that’s a view I could get used to!

We’ve done a bit more exploring and drove up the crater to wander around! It was a cloudy day, which was disappointing because we couldn’t see too far into the crater and we couldn’t see the big island, but also very neat because we got to walk around in the clouds!

The classic "I'm in a volcano" selfie!

The classic “I’m in a volcano” selfie!

The crater was also really cool because of the drastic temperature difference! It’s not all that easy to see from the photo but I’m wearing a hoodie and a shell. It was the first time since arriving that I needed my long leggings.

I’m signing off for now! I want to get the most out of my last couple days in this paradise!


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