Tag Archives: Canada

Spending the Holidays in a Winter Wonderland

Christmas Ornament

I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve. We’ve been up in Canada for well over a week, Christmas has come and gone, but it seems like we just arrived here. Our trip is coming to an end. When we left Indy we hadn’t set a hard “return” date, but we were thinking about leaving on January 2nd. We could relax and enjoy New Years Eve with my family, and spend New Years Day watching the Rose Bowl Parade, football, and hockey games before heading out the following day. It seemed like a great plan, but Mother Nature is messing it all up! It’s not unusual for snow / winter weather to ruin your plans when you’re in Canada, but the weather up here is actually looking pretty clear. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Chicago and Indianapolis are due to get hit with snow and ice on Saturday (Jan. 3rd – ie the day we were supposed to be driving through that area). In order to miss this storm, and prevent us from having to drive through an icy / snowy mess, we’re packing up today and leaving tomorrow morning. Don’t worry, we’ll still be enjoying New Years Eve by eating Chinese food and watching the Canada vs. USA hockey game. 

Christmas TreeWe arrived in Canada late in the afternoon of December 21st, in time to have dinner with my parents. My mom made pierogies with bacon and fried onions – a meal you can easily find in Winnipeg, but that I don’t get much in Indianapolis. Side note: I’ve actually managed to find some pierogies at Fresh Market in Indy so I do get them on occasion! After dinner I was anxious to get the Christmas tree up and decorated. Nothing beats the smell of a real tree in the house at Christmastime! I hadn’t been back in Canada to celebrate the previous two years, so my parents just stepped back and let me do all the decorating with my favorite ornaments that I hadn’t seen in years. We spent the next couple days finishing up the remainder of the Christmas preparations – shopping (we braved several malls, and I have a new appreciation for all the traffic circles in our hometown of Carmel after dealing with Winnipeg’s ridiculous number of stop lights!) and some last minute gift wrapping.

On Christmas Eve we were planning on attending church with my aunt and uncle, then we were going to be spending the evening at their house. Unfortunately, we got news earlier in the day that my uncle had been under the weather and my aunt was starting to feel ill as well. They wouldn’t be attending church that night, they certainly wouldn’t be up for hosting us all for Christmas Eve, and they decided to stay home on Christmas Day as well (which we appreciated, because we didn’t want to get sick!). We have a small family, so the loss of two people for Christmas dinner is kind of a big blow. That, and the fact that I don’t get to see my aunt and uncle very often, made it a bit of a depressing situation. Thankfully my mom’s cousin and her family were planning on attending a Christmas Eve service at their church, which isn’t far from my parent’s house at all, so we joined them instead! I got to see some of the kids in our extended family that I haven’t seen in a couple years. In that time they’ve gone from little babies to walking and talking human beings! After church we headed back to my parents’ house, and my cousin (Braden) and his girlfriend (Sabrina) came over. They didn’t want to get sick from my aunt and uncle either, but unfortunately it sounded like Braden came down with it a few days after Christmas. My mom heated up some frozen finger food in the oven, and Braden and Sabrina brought over Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuit mix. After eating, we sat down and played Wits & Wagers, a game I gave to Dave last Christmas. We even got my dad to play, which was a Christmas miracle.  Continue reading Spending the Holidays in a Winter Wonderland

Canadian-isms

The other night Dave and I were talking and I said “I don’t want to get a sliver.” Dave said “What?” so I repeated myself three times, and each time I spoke louder and louder, until I realized that Dave could hear me just fine. He had no idea what I meant by the word “sliver.” Every once is a while this happens to us. I say something and apparently it’s not an American term, or a Midwestern term, and Dave gives me blank stares. Apparently sliver is one of those terms. It gave me the inspiration behind this next post – a few terms you should probably know if you ever have the chance to head up to Canada! Continue reading Canadian-isms

Chasing Beavers and other Canadian Adventures

It had been over a year since I had been back to Canada. We were planning on visiting last Christmas, but neither my Green Card nor my request to travel outside the country while waiting for my Green Card were approved before the holiday. After that it was a matter of finding the time. It’s a two day drive to visit my family (well, a day and a half at least) and that’s only one way. Essentially we need to block off four days of travel time in addition to our visit. “Why don’t you fly?” you ask? Take a look at prices of flights to Winnipeg, Manitoba from your nearest airport, my American friends, and you’ll start to understand why. We would be looking at ticket prices of at least $500 per person. Ummm…no thank you. Plus flying with Katie-dog is difficult because she’s juuuust over that 20 lb cut-off that most airlines use as a weight limit for dogs in the cabin. So yeah, 4 days of driving. You can do the entire drive in one day, but it’s difficult. Even if you only eat at drive-thrus and can hold your bladder really well, you’re still looking at about 16 hours, at least….more depending on the traffic when you hit the big cities like Chicago. 

Dave’s work load had slowed down a bit and he had a long weekend coming up for Labor Day so at the last minute we decided to make the trek up to Canada to visit my family. We left on a Friday evening after Dave was done with work, and after packing up the car (don’t even get me started on that stressful process) we hit the highway. Thankfully Dave’s parents live just off the interstate, about 11/hours from us, which made it a great stopping point for dinner that night. When we were in town for the Independence Day celebrations we stopped in at a new restaurant called The Brass Buckle Bar & Grill. Let me tell you, for a small town this is a spectacular restaurant! So if you ever happen to be driving on I-65 between Chicago and Indianapolis, I highly recommend stopping there for a bite to eat. It’s in Wolcott, Indiana, just north of Lafayette. The first time I was there they had a limited menu because they had just opened at it was a really busy long weekend. I had some fried pickles (which I try at just about every restaurant that serves them) and a burger. All in all it was pretty good. But this last time I was there….I could barely pick off the menu because there were so many delicious-sounding options! I ordered the fried pickles again, then had a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Let me tell you, I am picky about my grilled cheese so I practically never eat them. That said, this grilled cheese was fantastic. The tomato soup was also great, but I ended up being so full that I could only eat about half of it! I would have asked for a to-go container, but we were hitting the road. My point is…we will be returning customers!

After dinner we headed back to my in-laws’ house to pick up Katie-dog (another reason why we stopped to eat dinner with them was so that we could keep Katie in a nice air conditioned place!), then we hit the road to Madison, Wisconsin. We didn’t end up hitting Chicago until way after rush hour, which was great. My parents and I have driven through Chicago so many times over the years that we actually have an IPass to get through all the Illinois tolls quicker (and cheaper!). It’s perfect for times like this when we’re trying to get through the city as quick as possible. We stayed overnight in Madison, then hit the road again the next morning. We were on the interstate until Eau Claire, then headed up to Duluth, Minnesota, and then over to International Falls, Minnesota where we crossed the border into Canada. After that it was only three more hours until we reached my parents’ cabin!

The cabin is located on Lake of the Woods, which spans the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and goes into the state of Minnesota. Despite the fact that my parents live in Winnipeg, which is in Manitoba, the cabin is actually in Ontario. It’s a large lake, and the northern (Canadian) part of the lake is really rocky. It’s full of lots of islands, big and small. Lake of the Woods is a very popular destination for Winnipeggers in the summer, and a ton of Manitobans have cottages on the Ontario part of the lake. Winnipeg experiences somewhat of a mass exodus to cottage country on the summer weekends. There are other nearby lakes as well…my aunt and uncle have a place at Victoria Beach, which is on Lake Winnipeg. The cottage experience is really different between Lake of the Woods and Victoria Beach. Most of the cottages, including my parents’ cottage, on Lake of the Woods are right on the water. Fishing, swimming, and boating (including waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, etc.) are all really popular activities. Victoria Beach is set up kind of like an old English town. Most of the cottages aren’t right on the lake, they’re on sandy streets throughout the town. There are several beaches that all of the cottagers get to go down and enjoy, and there are also little shops like a bakery and a general store where you can pick up supplies (whereas people on Lake of the Woods usually have to run into the closest town….usually Kenora, but Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls are also options for some cottagers. We’re closest to Kenora, but it’s still a 30 minute drive from the cabin). Lake Winnipeg is actually larger than Lake of the Woods (it’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world outside the Great Lakes). It’s sandy (hence the beaches) and shallower than Lake of the Woods. It can get really wavy because it’s pretty open, whereas the wind and waves are often blocked by islands in Lake of the Woods. Cars are banned from Victoria Beach in the summer, so everyone walks or bikes everywhere. The cottages tend to be much closer together than on Lake of the Woods, so there’s more of a sense of community whereas Lake of the Woods is all about the solitude.   Any Winnipegger will tell you that we’re lucky to have a large variety of cabin country nearby!

The first few days were filled with a whole lot of relaxation. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t perfect the first couple of days, but it’s always hit or miss this time of the year. By Tuesday my dad got my Dave out fishing, and he had a lot of fun catching a nice big smallmouth bass (any oxymoron, I know) and a walleye for his dinner that night. They also went out again for most of the day on Wednesday, when the weather was a lot nicer, but didn’t have nearly as much luck catching fish as the previous day. 

Dave with his 16.5'' smallmouth bass.
Dave with his 16.5” smallmouth bass.

Continue reading Chasing Beavers and other Canadian Adventures

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Flag

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends! In honor of the day I’ll be sharing the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Canada with all my American readers. Some of the questions I’ve been asked are ridiculous, others have been made out of pure curiosity, but I’ve been asked some variation of all these questions at some point in time. So here is your Canadian-themed education for the day!

What province are you from?

I’m rarely asked this question – because I’m much more likely to be asked what “providence” I’m from. “Providence” is the capital of Rhode Island, “provinces” are the equivalent of states in America. Geographically, Canadian provinces are much larger than states. There are a total of ten provinces and three territories. I’m from the province of Manitoba. 

Source
Source

Continue reading Happy Canada Day!

New Spring Hairdos

After the deep-freeze that central Indiana has been experiencing this winter, the recent warm temperatures make it feel like spring might be on its way. It seems only fitting that our entire family had haircuts scheduled this week. The most beautiful member of the family was in the most desperate need of some fur removal. Because of the colder weather I procrastinated on making Katie-dog a grooming appointment so that she could have a nice warm winter coat. Unfortunately, that nice long coat makes us feel like we need to furminate her and vacuum our apartment on a daily basis. We might love our new vacuum, but we definitely don’t love it that much.

The design of the Furminator has been updated since we bought ours a couple years ago. Don't be scared away by the price tag - it's worth every penny for the owners of shedding pets.
The design of the Furminator has been updated since we bought ours a couple years ago. Don’t be scared away by the price tag – it’s worth every penny for the owners of shedding pets.
We put Amazon.com gift cards from our wedding towards this Dyson DC65 Animal Complete vacuum. It's pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread.
We put Amazon.com gift cards from our wedding towards this Dyson DC65 Animal Complete vacuum. It’s pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I also decided that it was time to shed my long winter mane. A few inches off my thick hair is going to make my life so much easier!

In other news, I’m really enjoying watching all the Olympic hockey. I was really excited yesterday when the Canadian women’s team came back from a 2-0 deficit to score 2 goals in under 4 minutes to send the game into sudden-death overtime, and then scoring again to win their fourth Olympic gold medal in a row. It was an amazing game to watch. Right now I’m settling down to watch the men’s semi-finals (also Canada vs. the USA). I was also really happy to hear that the Canadian women won gold in curling since their from my hometown of Winnipeg. #winning!

Until later,

Ashlen

Winter Olympics 2014

One of the (few) benefits of being between jobs is the ability to watch a lot more of the Olympics than in the past. As a Canadian, I much prefer watching the winter games than the summer games because we’re much more successful in the cold-weather sports. That’s why I got out of bed a bit earlier than normal yesterday to watch the Canada vs. USA hockey game. To be honest, I set the game to record the night before because I figured that I wouldn’t be out of bed by the 7am ET start of the broadcast. I didn’t want to stumble across any spoilers on the internet before I had been able to watch, so I made sure that I watched it before I was tipped off to the outcome (and being able to fast forward through the ads is always a nice bonus). It was worth while, because the Canadians came out on top, with a final score of 3-2.

I don’t religiously follow women’s hockey, but I’ve all about the increasing rivalry between the Canadian and American teams this year. In fact, NBC had a promo on last night with members of the U.S. team talking about the bitterness and dislike between the two teams. Quote: “We don’t like them, plain and simple.” I really wish I could watch the CBC broadcast, because obviously the NBC commentators are a little biased towards the USA (not that I blame them, I just want to hear the bias going in the other direction). These teams are really in a league of their own in women’s hockey…I think anyone would tell you that Canada and the US are competing for the gold and silver, with everyone else competing for the bronze. They’ve played against each other in the finals of the last three winter games. The rivalry has really heated up during the exhibition games….check out this video of one of their brawls:

In other news, I’m really happy that the Canadians are staying on top of the leaderboard in the medal count. I think some people would just assume that we would have a lot of winter athletes, but it is often forgotten that we only have a population of 35 million people. In comparison, that’s slightly smaller than the population of California (38 million people). We’re competing against countries that have much higher odds of producing great athletes. This article from Yahoo provides some interesting commentary about Canada’s recent Olympic success.  What’s even more impressive is that Norway is leading the medal count and is the all-time leader in Winter Olympic medals….and they have a population of 5 million people.

My favorite moments of the Games so far?

1) Watching Charles Hamelin win the 1500M short track speed skating gold medal. This distance is supposed to be his weakness, so I can’t wait to see how he performs in his stronger events!

2) Watching the Dufour-Lapointe sisters win gold and silver in women’s moguls. There were actually three sisters competing in the event. Can you imagine being those proud parents?

3) The repeat story of Alex Bilodeau winning gold in men’s moguls and celebrating with his brother, who has cerebral palsy and who Bilodeau considers to be his inspiration.

Until later,

Ashlen