10 September 2014

From a bar in Venice



As predicted, it's been pretty quiet on this blog for the last little while. We've been travelling around Europe for the last couple weeks following our wedding (which was awesome, btw. I'm sure everyone thinks that about their own wedding, but I truly had the best day.) Photos have been popping up here and there from our wedding weekend and they've been so great. I can't wait to see more. So far, one of my favourites has been this wedding selfie with our wedding party. Thanks for the photo, KG. 


A few days after we drove home to Calgary for Kelowna to catch our flight to Paris. Paris is always good idea, right. This trip was no exception. Some of the highlights for me were wandering the streets of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, eating at the amazing L'Avant Comptoir, and revisiting the bar where I first drank wine back in 2005. 

Lovelock bridge:

The Louvre 

Signing the wall at L'Avant Comptoir

From Paris, we took the train to Lyon, where I lived in 2008 and 2009. Lyon is familiar and wonderful. It feels a bit like coming home, which I suppose it is for me. A few highlights for me were catching up with coworkers from Starbucks, showing Nathan my old apartment, and grabbing baguette, cheese, and meats from my favourite market in Croix Rousse. 

Antoine de Saint Exupery is from Lyon. We used a favourite passage of mine (translated by me) from the Little Prince in our Wedding Ceremony. 


My former apartment in Lyon: 13 rue de vauzelles. 

The incredible view from our rental in Lyon. 

After Lyon, we headed for Italy to board a cruise ship in Genoa. We've just gotten off today after an incredible week. This post doesn't do any of our trip justice so far so I'll leave it here and get back to enjoying my glass of wine on the Grande Canal. (& apologize for the terrible formatting on this post. Mobile isn't easy sometimes!) 

Tonight we'll be in Cinque Terre, where we will spend a few days before flying home. I've been trying to keep my Instagram updated so check that out if you would like to follow along! 

Ciao bellas! 
AdB 








6 August 2014

Eat \\ Anju's Test Kitchen Takeover

It's been decided. We're part of the Roy Oh/Anju Fanclub, maybe even the founding members. Over the course of a month, I attended 3 dinners where Roy was either the chef or a contributor, and he doesn't even currently have a restaurant right now!

H actually has me beat though as she attended four over the course of the month. If that's not fan girl status, I don't know what is.

Kidding aside, if you haven't eaten Roy's Korean Fusion fare, you're missing out. I know I just said that he doesn't currently have a restaurant, but that's all about to change soon (stay tuned to their twitter - @AnjuRestaurant. I know I will be!). If you're familiar with the Calgary restaurant scene, his new digs will fill the space that used to be Petite (at 17 avenue & 4 street SW). 

For my second Anju experience in June, a YMCA co-worker invited H & I to check out his pop up at Test Kitchen. H was a bit hesitant as this would be Anju meal three for her, but in the end she couldn't resist.

I love this pop-up series idea going on at Test Kitchen & really hope it continues. I think it's great to have different chefs come in & have the opportunity to do something that is maybe a little different from the usual fair in their own establishments.


We started the evening with a soju strawberry, chili, & mint cocktail. As expected, it was delicious. The flavour combination was different in the best way. The hint of spice was a welcome surprise & I'm a sucker for any cocktail that features mint. 


The first course was a spicy oyster shooter. We each got a little shot glass with a spicy oyster shot. I love oysters so it was a great way to kick off the meal.


Next we had a bone marrow risotto. Rich, creamy, & decadent are adjectives that spring to mind when I think of this dish. Bone marrow has such an amazing flavour on its own; the smooth & creamy risotto was a perfect pairing. Roy had also added some anchovies that reminded us of one our unexpected favourites at the Chinese Association dinner. I'm sure I made my happy face throughout this entire dish. It was that great.


Fish & Chips were next up on our menu. We discussed what possible spin Roy would put on it. Roy's creativity shone through as we were presented with what looked like two spring rolls on a bed of tartar sauce. 

We all decided to go with wine pairings for the meal. I wish I'd taken better note of the wines we tried. They were all lovely and mostly white wines, not something I usually pick myself since I know my taste in red better.


Our last savoury course was bibimbap. This was a new dish for me, but one I think I can get behind. As usual, Roy had a bit of a non-traditional take on this wonderful dish. As I've come to expect with
most dishes that come out of his kitchen, I loved the combination of different flavours in this dish. This time I think the different textures were what I most enjoyed though here.


Last came dessert - milk & cookies. The milk was a sesame milkshake & the cookies were warm chili chocolate. It was a delicious end to a fantastic meal & further cemented Anju in my mind as somewhere fantastic. I will definitely be very excited to see this restaurant back on the scene in Calgary & can't recommend it enough.

28 July 2014

#llamarama

That was an unintentionally long blogging break. I knew this blog would take a back seat to Wedding Planning & I don't really expect that to change over the next month either. Speaking of which, we're less than a month away from the big day. A month, guys! Isn't that crazy?!

I haven't blogged a ton about our wedding or the planning - there are more than enough blogs out there that can tell you how to plan a wedding & I am no expert here. Maybe once it's over, I'll talk a little bit about what we did. It's turning out to be a big mix of DIY & non-DIY. Let's talk about the first "wedding event" though, shall we?

Last weekend was my bachelorette. We kicked things off at Hotel Arts on Friday, grabbing some cocktails by the pool despite the somewhat blustery day. The patio around the pool belongs to Raw Bar, which H & I were really excited about. We tried their Beef Short Rib Steamed Buns & they were awesome. We also ordered cocktails, all of which were delicious. I'd really love to try more of their menu sometime.
Raw Bar Cocktails
As more girls arrived & dinner time approached, we headed up to our room & ordered pizza from Bocce. None of us had tried it yet, but they were one of the few upscale pizza places that deliver so we went for it. Personally, I was quite impressed with their pizza: the crust was good, they had a good assortment of options, & they came right to our room. I'd definitely try them again. We ordered the Margherita, the Funghi, the Boschetto, & the Calabrese, I think (I didn't do the ordering myself). They were all really good, but I think the Funghi & the Boschetto were the biggest hits. 

We spent the rest of the night listening to music, chatting, playing games, & eating. We even took a little swim break right before the pool closed. We just had to get in there once over the weekend! It was a great start the weekend. 
Drinking Games & Raspberry Fingers
We mostly managed to sleep in the next morning, rolling out of bed around 10:30 am (although we had been woken up pretty early by some loud hotel construction that the front desk apologized for. Still - jackhammers at 7 am?) & heading down to brunch/lunch at Yellow Door Bistro just before noon. I decided to prepare for the day's activities with steak frites - not your typical brunch fare, but it was pretty much lunch anyway (& the steak at Yellow Door is delicious). 

Yellow Door Steak

After we ate it was pretty much time to get ready. People started to arrive to join us for drinks & some primping & before I knew it, it was time for the limo. The girls had rented a limo bus for two hours to start things off. We'd done the same for H's Bachelorette & it was one of my favourite parts of the evening. We actually had the exact same limo driver as we did two years ago & the experience did not disappoint. We drove around Calgary, blasting music, dancing, making speeches, & sharing drinks. We stopped for pictures in Crescent Heights & took a bathroom break at my Matron of Honour's parents' house before our second photo op at my High School.

Drinking Moonshine & getting ready
Lovely MOH & I
Starting the limo ride with champagne for all!

Laughing & dancing & drinking
Crescent Heights
Bridesmaids (without gaux)
Toasts

Abe
Abe
When the two hours were up, the limo dropped us off at WURST for dinner. We were downstairs at a long table in the beer hall. It's really the best place to be - there's an oompah band on Saturdays & they never fail to entertain. After dinner, they came over & had me standing on the bench, drinking my boot, as they played Here Comes the Bride. It was quite hilarious. 

Das Boot
Oompah dancing
Sufficiently full of "German" cuisine, we hopped in a couple limos & headed to our next stop: Cowboys. For most of us, it had been a long time since we'd been inside Cowboys. Most of the girls hadn't actually been to this third iteration, since it was more our style when we 18 & 19. It ended up being a really great time. There were a few more shots (mostly at the insistence of the Cowboys' managers) & a lot of dancing. H & I stayed until the lights came on & then headed over to Tubby Dog for a "night cap". I called that one. It wouldn't have been a proper bachelorette without Tubby Dog at some point.

Limo to cboys
Ready to dance at cboys
Speaker Dancing
The Bachelor Party I danced with
It was an incredible weekend! I felt so spoiled the whole time (& a bit like a celebrity with everyone wanting to be in photos with me!). It had been a while since I'd had a girls' night, let alone a girls' weekend. I definitely need to do that more often. Sometimes girltime is the best time. 

Thanks to all the girls who made my weekend such a success, & especially to my amazing Matron of Honour & wonderful bridesmaids. I love you ladies!! 

(Some of these photos are mine & some of them have been added to our communal Facebook album. All of them are marvelous!

7 July 2014

June in Instagram

Remember when I did a journal response about how life was hectic. Well we're seven days into July & I'm only just posting this recap, so I think that's still quite accurate! I feel like I just did the May recap. Where did this month go? Judging by my instagram, all we did was eat. Seriously, we ate a lot of delicious food this month. Or at least that's what I mostly posted about. Nothing wrong with that right? We're just a couple of foodies over here...


1. The first of three Anju meals. This one was a 13 course collaboration for the Chinatown Flood Rehabilitation Fund. Anju was one of three chefs who put on this delicious meal.
2. H & I went to a few early-morning spin classes. We grabbed coffee together at Analog afterwards. Definitely a wonderful way to start the day!
3. N & I celebrated five years together & what is probably the last time we'll celebrate this date since we'll have a new anniversary after this year. We went for a lovely dinner at Black Pig Bistro (the new kid in Bridgeland).
4. Anju dinner number two. I actually have some real photos of this & plan on blogging about it soon. We headed down to Test Kitchen for this wonderful meal with some lovely ladies. (That bone marrow risotto. Daaaaamn.)
5. Village Ice Cream recently celebrated two years! I couldn't resist bringing home a half scoop of Root Beer with a half scoop of Salted Caramel. (My favourite combo!)
6. I won a Bridal basket from the Bay, which included this very sparkly (messy) bottle of Champagne.
7. The last Anju dinner. I know, we're ridiculous, but we couldn't pass up the chance to get our Gochujang fix.
8. The weather didn't really cooperate for the "long weekend" , but we launched the sea doo anyway. A little cloud cover can't stop us!
9. Of course, the day we were leaving, it was gorgeous. Isn't that how it always works?

This weekend kicked off our crazy summer schedule with the first weekend of Stampede. From here on out, it's go go go until we're gone to Europe!

25 June 2014

Journal Day \\ Thirteen

This week, write a "State of Me" address. Write about how you're really doing- what you've been thinking, what you've been up to. What have you accomplished lately? Where is there room for growth? Where are you right now in life and where are you headed? Current joys, currents sadness...write it all out. Discuss the current state of YOU. 



I had really good intentions to write this post a few days ago...& then I kind of just let it slide. That says a bit about the state of me lately, I suppose. I try to shy away from responding with "busy" when asked how things are. I am a generally busy person (& I like it that way), but so is everyone else. & although I think it's a cop out response, I am guilty of responding with it. Maybe that's why I dislike it. Whatever. Let's get back to the point.

I'm usually busy doing things I like &, more than likely, so are you. Currently, life feels particularly hectic. On top of wedding planning, I'm trying to get back into consistent workouts (I have unlimited CrossFit for the next month! Yes!), eating well, & maintaining some kind of social life. I slacked off a bit over the last couple months, so now that I'm getting back into some more healthy habits, it feels like a big undertaking. I'm sure things will level out in some ways, but we've also got a ton of plans for this entire summer. Between our wedding, wedding-related events, Stampede, & visits from friends, we are booked solid. I'm excited, albeit a little apprehensive.

We're also full steam ahead with our honeymoon plans. Of course, by we, I mostly mean myself. Planning is totally my jam. I consult with N on any decisions, but the research is mostly me. I love it, but I definitely find myself getting lost in the internet sometimes. Hours can go by without my even realizing. I'm definitely one of those people who likes to weigh all the options before settling on one. Thankfully, the trip is 75% planned & booked, so there's not a lot left to do except be excited! 

This summer, I'll need to learn to say no sometimes. As is, we have a lot planned & as much as I love going for drinks with our friends or enjoying a night out, I think I'm going to have to scale that back. I'm making CrossFit a priority this month, but I'm also trying not to spend every night in the gym. This box offers a few morning classes as well as lunch ones, so I'm going to try to take advantage of those when I can. It's nice getting a workout in before the day starts. 

We're in an interesting place right now. Our wedding is less than two months away, which is a big symbolic change in who we are. We'll see what other kind of changes it brings. September will certainly free up a lot of time for other endeavors, though. I'm looking forward to having the time to seriously look at houses, as one of our goals is to become homeowners. This crazy market should  make that an interesting challenge. Overall, we're moving forward. In a lot of ways we know what we want, but we've also still got a lot of figuring out to do. 

As for the state of me, personally? I'd say I'm pretty darn happy right now. There are so many things I'm excited for, not only in the next few months, but in the years to come as well. It's the last year of my twenties & I plan to make it great. Things are never perfect - it really is the overall journey that puts this into perspective. (I know talking about the journey is so cliche. Bear with me.) There are always going to be highs & lows, but I can honestly say that it's all generally good.  & for that I am incredibly grateful. 

...

This post is in response to Danielle's prompt on her blog, Sometimes Sweet. Find the rest of my responses in this series here.

12 June 2014

Journal Day \\ twelve

Let's talk about love. Do you believe in the idea of a soulmate? Do you think there is one person for everyone- and do you think that no matter what, if you're "supposed" to meet that person you will? This week, talk about your experience with love and discuss what you believe, and also be sure to touch on what helped shape those beliefs.

Photo by 3haus Photographics
The idea of a soulmate is both beautiful & tragic to me. On the one hand, the notion that you could find that one person, the yin to your yang, is quite lovely. That is, if you find that person & manage to hold on to them. Life likes to throw a wrench in beautiful, well thought out plans & losing your soulmate (or worse even , never finding them) is cruel if you only get the one. I like to believe that life isn't quite that cruel.

By the same token, I do believe that N is the right person for me & I can't imagine feeling this way about someone else (for the skeptics out there - yeah, I know everyone says that about their current relationship. Maybe we're not all wrong?). Maybe it's more of a choice. I don't think I know the answer, & in all honesty, I'm not really sure I care to know. 

What I do know for certain is that I love N. Sometimes that love is crazy & inexplicable. Sometimes it's beautiful & unwavering. Sometimes I can't keep it to myself while other times, it sits subtly under the surface. It's in the every day as much as in those special moments, in the good as much as the bad. So whether I chose N or he chose me or it came from somewhere else entirely is irrelevant to me. I've chosen to be present in this relationship & in this love & to work at making it the best it can be.

These things are important to me - the working & being present. We recently met with our officiant & one comment he made really stuck with me because I've thought the same for a long time. We were talking about some of the significance behind different rituals at weddings & he said that like life, love has it's ups & downs. It's like a wave. Things will never stay tough for ever.  

So while I do have many romantic (perhaps, naive) notions about love, I hope I keep these things in mind as we continue to grow & evolve together. Our relationship is still young (5 years, this Saturday. Happy Anniversary, N!), but I hope we continue to choose this love, soulmates or not.  

I'll leave you with my favourite quote about love: 

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." (Antoine de St Exupery)
  
I've translated this as: "It is only with the heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."
...

This post is in response to Danielle's prompt on her blog, Sometimes Sweet. Find the rest of my responses in this series here.

6 June 2014

May In Instagram

Wow, this Instagram Recap is late this month! I have a feeling things are only going to get busier in these next couple months, leading up to our wedding. We've got lots of crafts to pull together, plans to finalize, & parties to throw, so I apologize in advance if my posts fall off the wagon a bit. Here's what May looked like according to Instagram. 
1. We're all giants. A bunch of us bought tickets to Beer Fest. Always a fun night!
2. Envelope addressing party! Things are getting real - invites went out & RSVP is live on our website. Every time I see an email notification that someone has RSVPed I get very excited.
3. We had my parents over for dinner on Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day, maman!
4. N celebrated his 27th birthday in Kelowna. I had a hair & makeup trial & then we headed out to dinner at the Hotel El Dorado. Beautiful!
5. Cheers! We did a few wine tastings at our venue. The Cipes Brut is one of my new favourite sparkling wines.
6. The weekend in Kelowna was incredible. I already blogged about it, but this was a big highlight this month.
7. We picked up muscles from Billingsgate Seafood Market & have decided we may now have to make Seafood Sundays a thing. Quick, easy, delicious.
8. Another half marathon in the books! I ran it in 2:00.49 this time. I guess I'm just really consistent around that 2 hour mark. Pretty happy given the limited training I did, but next time I'll be faster!
9. N's birthday coincides well with lobster season. We celebrated it a bit later than usual. As always we had enough lobster to feed an army though! Best tradition!

I think spring it actually officially here. It's refreshing to finally be able to get outside & enjoy the parks & festivals that come with this time of year!



31 May 2014

Road Tripping: May Long in Kelowna


In just under three months, N & I will be saying I do in front of our friends & family in Kelowna. We chose a beautiful winery in the Okanagan for the wedding so we spent May long simultaneously celebrating his birthday, doing hair & makeup trials, tasting wine & food, meeting with different vendors, checking out the venue, & enjoying the beautiful Okanagan Valley. It was a busy weekend to say the least, but we left feeling pretty great about our decision to spend our august weekend celebrating with our closest family & friends.

We headed out to Invermere Thursday night to get a head start on the drive to Kelowna. My parents have a place another 30 min down the road, but we stayed with my girlfriend this time. Her house is a stone's throw away from Lake Windemere. I feel so lucky to have these opportunities to wake up, throw on my shoes, & go for a run near a lake - be it Windermere, Columbia, or Okanagan, I love them all dearly.







We stopped for lunch just past Sicamouse. There were already people heading out house boating for the long weekend. Sometimes BC is a different world from Alberta. We frequently get snow on May Long, whereas they plan boating trips. 




We arrived to 32 degrees in Kelowna, a pretty big departure from the weather we've had so far in Calgary this spring. We had some time to kill before checking into our hotel so we hit a patio. What else is there to do when it's that gorgeous out?


My hair & makeup trials afterwards went great. The girls I've picked are lovely & they both did a wonderful job. We look quite a few photos, but I'll keep those a surprise for now. 

That evening, I took Nathan out for dinner at the Hotel El Dorado. We had a fabulous meal together in celebration of his 27th birthday. There are so many great food options in Kelowna, but I'm so happy I settled on this one. Not only was the food wonderful & the service attentive & pleasant, but the space is also wonderful. It's an older hotel, worn in all the right ways, that sits right on the lake. They've got a marina and docks out back so you can go for a walk along the lake or park your boat. It feels a little bit like it belongs to another era - right up my alley. Not surprisingly, it was actually my second choice for our wedding venue. I had my heart set on a winery, but this would have been an equally stunning choice. 










The next day, we had some time to kill before our next meeting, so we headed downtown for lunch on the Earl's patio. It overlooks the brand new marina in the heart of Kelowna. Nathan's brother worked here until very recently so we're pretty familiar with it. It's hard to compete with their patio view & cheap raspberry mojitos. 





We wandered the new marina & downtown a little bit before running off to our next meeting. I think I'll always be a bit of a BC girl - as the weekend progressed I was more & more enamoured with our decision to wed in the Okanagan. 







Our next meeting was in a beautiful French pastry shop. Sandrine's is perfection. Everything here is delicious, but the best part for me is that she's from Lyon. I couldn't have planned this any better. 



Our last stop of the day was at our venue - Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Again, beautiful venue; I'm so happy with our choice. We scouted out some good photo ops for our photographers & wandered the property before doing a wine tasting & finally sitting down to dinner.









We started things off with the cheese board, as per N's brother's suggestion. It was fantastic. Dried cherries from the orchard down the street, some of the best honey we've tasted (also from the area), & roasted nuts (again, from nearby) accompanied a beautiful selection of cheeses - brie, port wine gouda, & a blue. 


Our main courses were equally delicious. I tried the beef, while N went for duck. Both were cooked to perfection & the presentation was gorgeous. We didn't taste our exact menu, but our meals left me feeling confident that the chef gets it.



Desert was French toast with a homemade gelato. Not too shabby at all. 


 The company was pretty fantastic as well. 


On our way back, I made N stop at Dave's Goat Walk. It's between Vernon & Enderby on highway 1 & is one of the most hilarious stops, in my opinion. It's just so typically random of small town BC. I swear this province is littered with the funniest "attractions".



This cracks me up every time. For a quarter, you get a handful of corn. You throw it in these little buckets & the goats use the wheel to pull the bucket it up & feed themselves. Yes, this is a thing. As N was taking the photo above, the goat was trying really hard to get the half a handful of corn I'd already dumped into the bucket. I love it. (They also have some great honey & other products in the little store attached). 




All in all it was a great weekend & I'm even more excited for our upcoming wedding. We're down to double digits so things are getting quite real at this point.