March Updates

I’m glad to report that spring is imminently (and finally) around the corner in Regina! We survived a horrible polar vortex redux where the temperatures got down to -52. Now, the weather report is looking milder by the day and the snow has started to recede. We are both looking forward to seeing ourheartcat families this summer. In June, my parents are coming down for my graduation ceremony. It will be a great visit since they haven’t had a chance to visit Regina since we moved in 2011. We will try to get a few sights in before they go. In August, we’re heading out west to see some of Sam’s family and explore BC a bit. Should be fun!

In February, I had an excellent birthday. Sam got me an amazing grey suit jacket. I also got some matching dress pants using the money I received from both of our parents.610fdc9095e811e39c3412ffebc89ea2_8 I’m ready to go to some classy conferences now! For Valentine’s Day, we went to the Fireside Bistro and to a movie. As per tradition, we also had champagne – in Sam’s new champagne glasses!

This semester has a relaxing pace for me so far. I am a lab instructor for three intro CS lab sections, I am taking one class and trying to get a feel for where my thesis is going. Sam is very busy with her internship two days a week and trying to keep up with her program requirements every other day. We haven’t had time for much other than school (and marathoning Sherlock), but Sam signed us up for a 5k race in September to keep some non-school activity in our lives.

Apparently our last blog post was our 50th post – it’s almost like we keep a regular blog or something. We’d be even more regular with our updates if Marilyn would take her turn, but she just sleeps all day.

Jordan

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Hello, 2014!

Happy belated New Year! I believe the polar vortex is over and my fingers have thawed long enough to type up this blog post.

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Liz’s beautiful Christmas trees

Jordan had a much-needed, relaxed Christmas in Grande Prairie with his family.  The three-week holiday was his “between-degree break.” With his undergraduate exams all finished and the University is closed, Jordan was able to take a complete break from school! Although there was an awful lot of snow there, he got to fit in several coffee dates with Grandma Liz, and his sister was able to fly in for the holiday as well. Jordan got spoiled with good food, including baking sausage cheese puffs with his mom and many delicious dinners at Liz’s house.

I was on Vancouver Island from the 21st. My parents’ house is a zoo now that they have a new dog, TANGO!, who is actually a photosmall kangaroo. Rosie is long-suffering as always. I got a tiny flu on Christmas Eve and gave it to my brother for Christmas, but we recovered fairly quickly and nobody else caught it! We had an intimate Christmas morning up in Cumberland, and in the afternoon we drove down to Ladysmith for a big family dinner at Brian and Stacey’s house. We were all thoroughly spoiled for Christmas (though I had to wait for lots of my presents until Jordan came on New Years’ Eve!). My family and I spent the next few days in Ladysmith mostly relaxing and enjoying more good cooking (and doing some shopping, oops). We also had a wonderful visit with my parents’ long-time friends from Northern BC, whereupon I fell in love with a white cat.

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Ugly sweater trio

Between our return to Cumberland and Jordan’s arrival, I finished revising my dissertation proposal, marathoned the first season and a half of Downton Abbey, and re-read the Hunger Games. Dad and I spent an afternoon prepping for the New Years’ Eve fondue (Sam, M.A., condiment artisan). Jordan arrived the morning of the 31st – yay!! – and we got him settled in and finished opening our mutual Christmas presents. The whole family arrived later that afternoon, and the festivities were off! So much fun was had: a little graduation ceremony for Trevor (B.Mus.) and Jordan (B.Sc. Hons.), with special words of wisdom from Grandpa; a multi-course seafood, chicken, and beef fondue with red wine right from Italy; ugly christmas sweater family pictures; and champagne and enormous sparklers at midnight. It’s always so special to ring in the new year with family.

The first days of the new year were quiet but wonderful. My super-talented aunt, Stacey, took a couple snaps of Jordan and IDSC_4794 copy. We got a couple more days with my grandparents and I managed to finish the last revisions to my dissertation proposal. After our extended family went back to Ladysmith, my parents kept us entertained with a walk through the beautiful BC rainforest, a memorable dinner at the Kingfisher Resort, and lunch up atop the snow-barren Mt. Washington ski hill. Mom is busy prepping the first edition of her magazine; it will be so exciting to see it in print!

Since our return home, Jordan has begun his first graduate classes and is truly enjoying the change of pace! He takes one class and teaches three lab sections, and the rest of his time is dedicated to research. I sent my dissertation proposal off to committee (good riddance) and started my practicum at the RCMP. It’s already shaping up to be a busy semester but I think it will be a lot of fun.

Best wishes from both of us for your year ahead! As always, feel free to incorporate Regina into your travel plans – there’s a guest bed here with your name on it!

Sam

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Christmas Break

marilynRight now Sam and I are inside for the day, hiding from the -45 windchill outside. Classes are all done and I’m just waiting for examphoto-6s to start. Then it’s off to Alberta for Christmas with my family, and BC for New Years with Sam’s! If everything goes smoothly with my exams, I will be done all of my program requirements for my undergrad. It’s been a very long time coming – four and a half years (although it’s felt more like thirty). I’ll return to school in January as a graduate student!

Sam has finished her dissertation proposal, after months of waiting for approval followed by two weeks of frantic writing. We celebrated with a tiny   bottle of champagne (thanks Marcy!). It’s amazing how close she is photo 2to being done. After the dissertation proposal is done she will start collecting data, which will take a couple years but is the “fun part” of the process.

A couple of weeks ago, we put up the Christmas tree. I think Marilyn has been sitting under it ever since. She likes to sleep there, and then wake up and pretend that the sheets monster is under the tree skirt. We have some presents under it now, so hopefully she won’t be able to mess it up as much. We have her booked into her kitty hotel for Christmas break. It’s at the clinic where her vet works. For some unexplainable reason, the vet is Marilyn’s favourite person.

Looking forward to seeing all of you in the coming weeks!

Jordan

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Convocation, Family Visits, and Holidays

What a busy couple weeks it’s been! My Master’s convocation was on October 19th and my family came to visit for the weekend. Battling through fog and snow, delays and cancellations, jumping on boats and flying all through the night, my parents and Grandpa managed to make it to Regina in time. What fun it is to have guests in our little house! Both the guest room and the futon were put to good use.

My convocation was on the Saturday at 1pm. I was interviewed backstage by the local news but unfortunately nothing flattering came of that :) The ceremony itself was a couple hours long and featured kd lang receiving an honorary degree. I wore heels this time and refrained from tripping. I got to celebrate with another of my cohort, Kim, and was able to introduce the head of the department to my family as well. It was a little chilly out but we got some great pictures before the rain/snow started! After the ceremony we went back to the house for drinks and then had a wonderful dinner at Table 10, one of our favorite local spots. Such a lovely day. We’ll be repeating it in eight short months for Jordan’s convocation!

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Dad and Grandpa headed back through the fog and the snow on Monday and I got to keep mom for another week. Somehow we managed to time the visit in between two busy parts of my semester so I actually got to spend most of the week away from school. Mom recently was hired as the IMG_6285Editor of the Canadian Quilter magazine, which is basically a dream job. I got to hear a bunch of her ideas and can’t wait to see them implemented. She’s so excited and I’m so jealous! We also spent a large part of the week making accordian-style artist books. It is such a sincere joy to get to spend time crafting. The rest of our days were filled with drinking wine, talking obsessively about our pets, and re-watching favorite movies. IMG_6286Jordan was deep in study-mode and also very sick, but we managed to sucker him in for pumpkin carving on mom’s last day in town. He made a very intricate Nyan Cat pumpkin.

Mom left on Monday and then it was only a few short days until Hallowe’en! …which was a huge let-down. I only got six teenagers, two of whom were not even dressed up. But that’s okay, Jordan IMG_6255and I got a lot of chocolate out of the deal, and he let me talk him into watching Harry Potter. After Hallowe’en I made the switch to Christmas season RIGHT AWAY! My labmate Michelle and I went to the Christmas Craft Fair for most of Saturday afternoon, and Jordan and I got our first Starbucks Red Cups that night. So awesome. And just in time because today it’s snowing! YUCK! Winter is here.

I hope you’re all keeping warm (but not too warm) and in good health (but not too sober). Soon it will be Christmas.

Sam

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Fall Stuff!

It’s been a pretty busy week for us, as we’ve been trying to tackle small jobs for our big visit in between all of the usual school junk. We’ve spent all weekend trying to clean all of the Marilyn hair out of every crevasse in the house. Sam’s parents and grandparents are coming to visit for her master’s convocation next week. Her mom is going to stay with us for a week afterword, so we’ll surely have a lot of fun. Sam is finally done two crazy work-weeks, and is definitely looking forward to a well-deserved break.

In September, I received my official offer of acceptance to grad school! I’ll be doing my master’s here in Regina while Sam finishes her PhD. I will be doing my graduate studies in computer science, and not engineering as I had previously thought, due to finding a very engaging supervisor in my own department. My graduate work will probably revolve around semantic consistency between mobile device platforms. It’s not a heavily theoretical topic, which is one of the reasons I was originally nervous about doing a thesis in CS.

In the meantime, Sam and I have filled our days with many fall-related activities. We went out to the Lumsden pumpkin festival and participated in a corn maze. We also went to Sam’s lab party and enjoyed fresh-baked bread in a brand new outdoor oven. We also made a highly successful Thanksgiving dinner last night, with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, carrots, and a whole lot of alcohol.  It’s been an amazing third fall in Regina, and I’m sure it’ll only get better.

Jordan

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Pumpkin spice and everything nice

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Happy September! We’ve changed over our blog theme for my favorite season, Autumn. Unfortunately the end of summer meant the end of Our Best Friend Natalie’s time in Regina. We are so very sad she has gone home to Ontario but it sounds like life is IMG_5831as perfect as it could be over there, and Matt and Phoebe must be so happy to have her back! The end of summer has also brought a temporary goodbye to Sophie, who’s up in PA on her first internship. I’m excited for her but I don’t think she’s excited yet :)

Jordan and I kept our last few weeks of the summer very relaxed. Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSLs) debuted this week, and as a bunch of you already know I managed to get my 15 minutes of fame accidentally when Starbucks commented on an instagram PSL tribute. Now a horde of strangers know me as the weird girl who likes PSLs and has a cute kitty. Which is actually fairly apt. The weather has been kind of moody, so on the Labour Day weekend we managed to get frozen at the Dragonboat races and heat stroke at the Lumsden Duck Derby. In Lumsden we met a cute older couple named Gerard and Crystal, who sat at our picnic table over lunch and hailed from the Netherlands. They were excited that Jordan had Dutch roots too, and made sure to inquire if he had an “Oma” and “Opa”.

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Another school year has started up for Jordan and I – the first semester of my Ph.D., and the last semester of Jordan’s undergrad! It’s amazing that six years ago I was just starting classes for the first time, all bright-eyed with the promise of the future. At least I’m more than halfway there, sigh. My funding for the next three years has been finalized now, which I’m very relieved and excited about. I’m taking one class and am a teaching assistant for another, as well as keeping up with lots of research projects in the lab. Jordan is taking five classes this semester and has described them as boring, boring, really hard, potentially interesting, and boring. He’s going to be so excited when he’s done his undergrad :)

Otherwise… just odds and ends. I have been pinning up a storm on my Pinterest and reading lots of other blogs, some by friends, some by strangers. We finally found bedside tables for the guest room, which is now finished and decorated and ready for guests! My family comes up in October so they’ll be the first to use it. We also celebrated two years in Regina, which is enough to be common-law in Saskatchewan. So Jordan has to stop complaining when we move my books, since he owns half of them now!

Sam

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So Many Weddings!

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It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid-August. This summer has gone so quickly. We’ve been trying to keep the blog going, but we’ve managed to keep ourselves busy with other things! I thought I’d give a quick summary of our summer:

Marilyn turns 6! August 4th marked the one-year anniversary of our kitty cat requisition. It’s been 12 months of bitten wrists and craziness, but we never regretted it. We bought a big baguette which Marilyn thinks is her birthday present. We’ll just let her keep thinking that.

Tony and Shannon’s wedding. Two of our best friends from high school tied the knot in July. We made a journey up to Grande Prairie to attend, and to visit with my family. My parents treated us to a great dinner at The Keg, and we were able to squeeze in coffee and brunch with my grandma. Sam also was able to see some old friends while we were in town. Although we only had two days, we managed to see a lot of people. The wedding was very nice and we wish the both of them the best.

Sam’s supervisor’s wedding. It has been a very wedding-ful summer. Sam’s grad school supervisor got married here in Regina. There was a beautiful ceremony at the Ramada, and then everyone went to a wine bar down the street for the reception. Sam and I both really enjoyed the wedding. It’s easy to forget how beautiful downtown Regina is if you don’t live in the core.

New neighbours. The house that we moved into has a basement suite, so we get new people moving in every once in a while. Recently a young couple moved in. We were considering putting a mane on Marilyn and telling them they can’t move in because there’s a lion in the basement.

Sam defends her master’s thesis! In July, Sam officially passed her defense with no revisions and completed all of her requirements to graduate with an MA. It’s been a long two years for her, filled with many long nights babysitting participants in the lab and running stats. Her convocation will be in October and we’ll get to see her family when they come up to attend.

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Jordan

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Montreal adventures

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Early in the morning (very, very early in the morning) Jordan and I arose to catch the train to Montreal. Our friend Sophie had suggested taking the train there and I’m glad we did – what a comfortable way to get around! It was sad to say au revoir to Quebec City but we were both looking to the next stage of the trip. Unfortunately, by the time we got to our hotel the light drizzle had turned into a substantial and impressive downpour! We checked into a lovely hotel room with a huge jacuzzi tub and set forth to seek food. Old Montreal was only three or four blocks up from us, and along the way we found a crepe restaurant called Muru Crepe. We had savory crepes with cheese – SO GOOD!

After our lunch we happened across the Bonsecours Market, which is a long indoor market with artisan and gift stores. A textile gallery full of vintage designer gowns was in the basement of the market. On our way back out into the rain Jordan spied the above apropos umbrella, though we ended up purchasing a much smaller brolly. At that point the rain was absolutely torrential, so we stopped once more for a bottle of wine and allergy medication and high-tailed it back to the hotel. Luckily the hotel had an amazing italian restaurant next door called Pacini’s, so we didn’t have to travel too far into the downpour.

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The weather was much improved by Monday morning. We started off our day with brunch at SoupeSoup (“quel bon temps pour de la soupe!” Jordan exclaims in memory). The first part of our day was spent camped out at a laundromat, which was actually great because I managed to finish my committee thesis revisions while we were there (sooo clooose to being doooone!).

After the laundromat we finally ventured into the heart of Old Montreal. Place Jacques Cartier was an active pedestrian square lined with restaurant patios and full of caricature vendors. Extending from both sides was Rue St Paul, which had dozens of amazing restaurant options – everything from poutine to The Keg, gelato shops to high end open-front restaurants. The cobblestone road took us for several blocks towards the Basilica Notre Dame. What a breathtaking building. The main construction happened in the 1820s, and the interior in the 1870s. Jordan and I spent a long time inside the basilica – it reminded me very much of Notre Dame in Paris in its beauty.

We came back to reality with poutine and beer on an outdoor patio at Montreal Poutine. I seriously love the patio culture in Quebec! The Montreal Science Center is along the waterfront and we went to an IMAX show called Flight of the Butterflies, which made me cry. We finished our first real day of sight-seeing in Montreal by walking along the harbour Quays. Montreal is lovely when it isn’t pouring rain!

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By Tuesday I was feeling a bit Starbucks deprived and I’d seen people with Starbucks cups so it must be somewhere – so off we set to find my fix. It happened to be along the way to McGill University, which we were both pretty excited to see. McGill is actually right downtown in the heart of Montreal, surrounded by huge skyscrapers and close to/on top of part of the underground city. It was a neat campus with a decent amount of green space for being so urban. The Eaton Center was a few convenient blocks away (I had a Sephora gift card, you understand) and it was really nice to get into air conditioning.

We walked a bit further downtown and found the Museum of Fine Arts, which to my complete surprise and delight was hosting a Dale Chihuly exhibition! My family and I first saw his glass sculptures in England eight years ago, and it is incredibly inspiring. Rooms and rooms full of intricate, intensely beautiful glassworks in the most interesting shapes. It’s hard to imagine the skill level required to create such art and I was so happy to see so much of his work on display. The Museum of Fine Arts is huge, and I think we only saw half of the displays – there was a neat design exhibition Jordan was interested in, and an exhibition of baroque paintings which I could vaguely recall from my art history classes.

We figured out the Metro from the downtown Concordia campus back to our neck of the woods, where we finished our day with pub food at St. Paul’s Pub in Old Montreal. After a day of hard walking, that beer was probably the best thing we’d ever had.

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Wednesday morning we couldn’t help but repeat our crepe experience at Muru (mine had an egg and smoked salmon in it?? heavenly). We spent the early part of the day at the Science Center where we learned that children are noisy and sharks are friends, not food. Having been reminded of Marcelle Ferron in Quebec City, I swooned my way over to the Champs-de-Mars metro station, which houses some of the stained glass she developed in her later years. It was smaller than I expected but absolutely beautiful. We caught the metro out to the Biosphere on Île Sainte-Hélène, which is an environmental awareness center inside a giant steel ball. The island also houses L’Homme, a huge metal sculpture overlooking the Montreal harbor.

We had dinner at a restaurant in Jacques Cartier square before going to “And Then There Was Light,” an evening light show at Notre Dame. They block all the windows and put up huge sail-shaped projection screens and tell the story through images and narration of how the basilica came to be. You can see a gallery here. It was especially neat when they retracted the screens and lit up individual pieces of the interior sculptures and pulpit to talk about the meaning behind them.

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After breakfast at Eggspectation in the downtown core, I bid adieu to Jordan and set forth into the glorious world of shopping in Montreal. I spent a very very long time in Anthropologie, and a block away at Urban Outfitters. The whole street was lined with fantastic stores, from Fossil to Guess to H&M and everything in between. Despite the dissociative fugue I managed to find my way back to Jordan, who had been working at Starbucks for a couple hours. I regret nothing!

Sophie the Montreal tour guide sent us up Mont Royal, the tallest point in Montreal. No buildings are allowed to be built taller than the top of the hill, and the tallest building is only four inches shorter than the peak of the hill! We didn’t quite make it to the top, but we did find ourselves along the street that Sophie used to live on. Our hike back down the mountain took us to Buvette Chez Simon, a trendy little tapas restaurant. We managed to snag a spot on the patio and passed the evening happily by with tapas and wine.

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Our last day in Quebec was Friday. Despite the abundance of delicious restaurants in Montreal, we couldn’t help but go back for one last round of crepes. Jordan had found an amphibus tour of Montreal, where you spend half the time on land and then drive right into the water and become a boat for a while. The tour guide was really entertaining and we learned a lot of neat things – for instance, that the designer of Habitat 67 did the architectural design as his Master’s thesis. Back on land, we climbed the many stairs of the clocktower on the aptly-named Quai de l’Horloge.

The archeological museum offered some respite from the sun. The basement of the museum houses the actual original walls and streets of Montreal. Upstairs we were able to see an exhibition about tea, as well as an exhibition about The Beatles and the fangirly mania they induced. We were famished and had reservations for a late dinner, so we passed the time (and lowered the bar a bit) with hot dogs from Montreal Poutine.

To finish off our trip on a high note we had dinner at Verses Restaurant in the Hôtel Nelligan. The restaurant was indoors but had wide open windows onto the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. I’ve had a lot of fantastic food experiences but I think this was among the best. Jordan had butter-poached halibut and a trio of desserts, and I had truffle-crusted beef tenderloin with a Quebec ice wine. We walked by the shining basilica one last time in the twilight stroll back to our hotel.

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Our flights home were uneventful and we’re back to the grind with my thesis defense fast approaching. Quebec City and Montreal were a fantastic getaway and a wonderful experience for the both of us!

Sam

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Bonjour, Quebec!

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Bienvenue! This month we are on a two-week vacation in Quebec. On Monday, after dropping a very unimpressed Marilyn off at the kennel, we boarded a plane for Quebec City. Soon after, we arrived at the bed and breakfast where we would spend an amazing six days. It’s called the Chateau des Tourelles, located just a few blocks from the walls of Old Quebec. It’s in a very old building with great Paris-style rooms and a beautiful view. It’s located on a main road called Rue St-Jean, filled with perfect little boutiques and cafes. At night, Rue St-Jean is closed to traffic and it becomes a pedestrian area.

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On Tuesday, we walked down Rue St-Jean into Old Quebec for the first time. The whole area is surrounded by huge stone walls which date back to the 1600’s when Quebec was founded as a fortified city. We saw the Artillary Park with lots of old military buildings. Sam made sure to get a glamour shot with the Starbucks sign. The road goes all the way to a boardwalk along the shore of the St. Lawrence river.

At the other end of the boardwalk, we found La Citadelle de Quebec. It’s a huge fortification built on a hill, originally by the French and then expanded by the British in 1820.* Today, it’s an active military base. We took a tour around the citadel with a tour guide and got to see a few museums built inside the old buildings. There was also a Vimy Ridge memorial site and a lot of neat military artifacts.

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On Wednesday, we return to Old Quebec for our first crepe! We had lunch at a little restaurant called Crepe Breton. It is a very popular place in Quebec, serving both dessert crepes as well as savory crepes. It was a very authentic crepe experience!

After lunch, we went to the Musée de la civilisation. They had exhibitions on the history of Quebec, the Maori tribe, and the history of video games. We took a walk around the area and found Quartier Petit Champlain, a historic square with Notre Dame du Quebec – possibly the oldest church in North America. Around the square are some shops. We went into a gem shop and Sam fell in love with many things. For dinner we met up with Michelle and had delicious tapas at Cafe Sirocco.

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Thursday was Sam’s conference day! We attended CPA and she did an excellent symposium talk about mindfulness. Four grad students presented in total and the symposium had a very good turnout. My Best Friend Natalie and I provided moral support. Sam and I celebrated the successful talk with beer at a patio nearby.

In the afternoon, we boarded the bus and went to visit Laval University campus. It is the oldest University in Canada and the campus is wide open and very green. There we made friends with a little marmot which we named Madame Marmalade.

After dinner we went to the CPA student social with Natalie and made some new friends. The event took place in an interesting bar called St. Patrick’s Pub in Old Quebec.

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On Friday we boarded the bus once again and went to the Quebec City Aquarium! It had lots of interesting sea creatures including mon animal préféré, the chambered nautilus! They had a whole other display with all kinds of sea horses, and an outside area with polar bears and sea lions.

After the aquarium, we went to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. They had some neat exhibitions including one of Sam’s favorite artist, Marcelle Ferron.

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Saturday was our last full day in Quebec City. We started at the Observatoire de la capitale, a lookout point on the top floor of Quebec’s tallest building. Back on the ground, we got a coffee and ran into the Tour de Beauce, a bike race which was taking place in downtown Quebec. We watched the bikes take off and went for lunch at a cafe in Old Quebec.

That evening, we had dinner at Cochon Dingue (Crazy Pig), an excellent restaurant which Sophie recommended. I had a delicious crab burger and Sam had seafood alfredo. After dinner we met Natalie and went on a ghost tour! Our tour guide was a man named Michael, who came highly recommended by the internet. We had a great time and made our way all over Old Quebec, hearing ghost stories along the way. Michael is a great actor.

On Sunday we hopped on a train for part two of our vacation – Montreal! Sam will be posting about Montreal soon!

Jordan. Excellent graphic design skills: Sam.

* My Best Friend Natalie The Fact Checker

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Among the whisperings, the champagne, and the stars

Of all the times I’ve made my friends and family treat me like a princess (and they are so obliging), my birthday this year definitely takes the cake. May 24 was my Champagne Birthday (wherein I turned 24 on the 24th), and I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to indulge! I kicked off the celebration at Original Joe’s on the 21st (for half-price wine/champagne Tuesdays!) with Jordan and a bunch of friends from my program. The “champagne” was pretty bad but the company was wonderful.

Jordan and I flew to VancouveIMG_3871r on the 23rd for my birthday Mumford and Sons concert! There are not enough exclamation marks in the world! We stayed in downtown Vancouver on busy Burrard St. On the morning of the 24th, Jordan took me for Mimosas and smoked salmon eggs benedict at Scoozi’s, an adorable little Mediterranean restaurant with great service. We poked through a mall in the area and then got a text that my family made it across the ferry! We met up with them at the hotel, opened birthday presents (including a bottle of real champagne from my family and the cutest sweater from Jordan). The afternoon was spent out at the Metrotown Mall and then celebrating with said champagne back at the hotel.

Around 5 we set out for the Mumford and Sons concert, which almost ended in tragedy except for the fact that Dad is used to making sure we have important things like tickets. Mom managed to sell my extra ticket very assertively to a woebegone scalper. After a short stand in line to get through the gateIMG_3612s, we were in!! Holland Park is a gorgeous concert venue and there was nary a cloud to be seen. Weirdly but deliciously, macaroni and cheese is a concert food of choice? By the time we had our mac&cheese, there were only a few songs left by the last opening act and a marriage proposal conducted by banner-flying airplane. A full three minutes early, with the sun setting on the cheering crowd, Marcus Mumford et al. took the stage! The performing band actually has seven people, not four, and it was just so well done. From I Will Wait to Little Lion Man to Hopeless Wanderer to Holland Road… and everything in between. I managed to be positioned beside a pair of dancing hippies (my people!), and just a few feet away my spirit animal (a frat boy, unfortunately) was having spiritual experiences at all the same moments as me. There was lots of room and we were way closer than I expected to be! It was just so good. The concert ended with a full moon rising behind us and a grand finale encore by Mumford, his sons, and the two opening bands. Magical.

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Though my birthday was basically the Perfect Day, our fun weekend did not end on a banjo note. Saturday morning before Jordan flew home, we all went to the VanIMG_3928couver Aquarium. I hadn’t been since I was very little and it all was very new to me. We watched a 4D movie about how bears say hello to salmon as they jump up riverbanks (I think). The jellyfish were so cool, as well as the beluga whales, penguins, and sea otters. I’m so glad we could have Jordan there for the Vancouver experience! He went back to Regina that afternoon for a conference, and my family and I pressed on to the Island to see my extended family.

Phew! It’s a long blog post we have here. Do you have wine? Yes? Good! Onwards…

Saturday night was a lovely chance to see my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and assorted small dogs. We had a lovely turkey dinner and lots of wine that night. I feel very lucky to be seeing so much of my family lately, particularly my Antipodean Grandpa. Sunday morning my friend Michelle drove up from Victoria, where she’s staying this summer, to have lunch and spend the afternoon with us! Our luck with weather was wearing a bit thin at that point but the rain stayed away most of the day. Uncle Brian took Dad, Trevor, Michelle and I out on his boat for a couple hours. Darling toured us around her garden, which we were reflecting has seen an awful lot of work since they moved there so many years ago. I think Michelle and I may unilaterally move to the Island, which spells bad news for Jordan and Steven’s bank accounts.

I stayed at my parents’ from Sunday night to Wednesday afternoon. After the incredible excitement of the weekend, it was so wondeIMG_4068rful to have a relaxed-paced couple of days with my family and animals. Mom and I did lots of bombing around. One day we poked around the shops in downtown Courtenay, and the next we drove out to Coombs market to see the goats on the roof. Coombs is also a very fantastic food market; we made caprese and greek salads using the produce and cheese, and I had to talk really sternly to myself in order not to purchase all the curries, jellies, and spices available. Yum! Dad and I had an awful lot of wine, I supervised Trevor as he wrangled a wasp nest, and I received some very exciting news on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Between all our adventures I think I can count my Champagne Birthday week a success!

Sam

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