Thursday, 30 April 2015

Stuff & Things: Florida Edition

For ten hot seconds I had elaborate plans for a lengthy vacation recap post full of giant high resolution photos a detailed itinerary of each day and overflowing with "must sees" and "must dos". And then I realized that sounded like a huge chore and something I didn't actually want to spend hours doing. So instead here's some Stuff & Things I ate, did and saw during my time in Florida!

What I Ate

Photos taken from company/brand websites
Publix Chicken, Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Toasted for Breakfast), Peanut Butter Cup Oreos (Plus a bag to take home and share with H. & R. when we reunite!), Dunkin' Donuts Coffee, Applebee's Four Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken. 

I'm aware of how super nerdy it sounds but a visit to the grocery store was so much fun. The food lover in me was fascinated seeing all the different things that just aren't available in Canada. I had that Cinnamon Swirl bread toasted almost every day for breakfast. And we ate Publix chicken no fewer than four times over the course of 10 days. I didn't make it to Chick-Fil-A but there's always next time!

What I Did

I spent a lot of time by the pool at the condo reading and lots of time in the pool. The highlight of my trip was probably the day we spent at Busch Gardens! I know there's a lot of controversy around SeaWorld, however there are two sides to every story and I'd never been before. I'm glad I went and experienced the park for myself. Plus, we got an awesome package deal on tickets to Busch Gardens and SeaWorld buying things online definitely pays off. I also spent a lot of time at Siesta Key Beach after a very long winter it was lovely to feel sand between my toes again!

What I Saw

Alligators, Palm Trees & Turtles! I love animals and spending time in a place where it's perfectly normal to see turtles every time you leave the house and spot alligators hanging out in people's backyards was super cool. I'd also never seen palm trees before so I happen to think they're pretty cool as well!

I didn't take as many photos as I had planned. I was nervous about getting my camera wet or full of sand when we were at the beach. And I really wanted to experience things more than I wanted to make sure I had photographic evidence I was there. I did snap a few photos (mostly of the animals at Busch Gardens) and I'll be sharing my Favourite Five tomorrow on the blog!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

One Last What's Up Wednesday

Hello, Blogland! I had a fantastic vacation filled with sunshine, new adventures, piles of amazing food and scattered moments of peace & quiet. Check back tomorrow for a more detailed and photo filled vacation recap of sorts! 

Before I answer the usual What's Up Wednesday questions I should mention that this is the last "What's Up Wednesday" link up. I've only been participated in the link up for a few weeks but it's been such a welcoming and positive experience I'll be sad to see it go. On the bright side one of my most favourite bloggers, Shay from Mix & Match Mama, launched a new monthly "What's Up Wednesday" link up so I'll be participating in that starting next month!

Now, on to the main event! 

What I loved about the past week:
The highlight of my vacations was going to Busch Gardens! I don't to roller coasters, but I adore animals. The day we spent walking around the park looking at all the animals was fantastic. I was able to take a ton of photos, spend time with J. and just soak up everything about the place. I was also a big fan of the heat. The entire time we were in Florida the temperature was high 80s and mid 90s, which to this gal who hasn't felt warm in months was absolutely phenomenal. 

What I'm looking forward to:
I just got home yesterday so I'm looking forward to spending the rest of the week recovering from my 'Vacation Hangover'. Which mostly means spending time at home, doing laundry, making to do lists and getting back to the real world. 

What my latest obsession is:
Reading. I've missed reading. Also Publix Chicken. And amazing cinnamon bread that J.'s mom introduced me to. I also experienced the magic that is Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee. 

What I've been daydreaming about:
Not much of anything to be honest! I was pretty happy with living in the present while I was on vacation! 

What I'm craving:
I'm trying not to fixate on the fact it'll be awhile before I can eat Publix chicken. I ate it four times on vacation and it was so good. I want more. I need to stop thinking about it because it's making my mouth water. 

What I'm watching:

J. is a huge sports fan so we watched a lot of NHL Playoffs during our trip. When I got a turn with the remote I watched No Reservations and Bizarre Foods. Now that I'm home I have a few things on Netflix I want to watch; Chef's Table, Love Me and some other documentaries. 

What I'm listening to:
Not much of anything!

What I'm doing this weekend:
I need to figure out what needs to be done before I head to camp (Less than 3 weeks eek!!). I have a book I want to finish reading and I plan on getting some blog posts written and answer some e-mails. All while drinking coffee. 

What else is new:
I officially finished my contract and started looking ahead to this summer! 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday Farewell

My bags are packed with bathing suits, books and lots of sunscreen and I am ready for some serious vacationing! I ultimately decided not to bring along my laptop or phone along with me. I'm going full out vacation mode and removing myself from social media and anything that could even remotely be considered work. 

I'll be back the end of the month with tales of my adventures!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

What's Up Wednesday {2)

What I loved about the past week// I'll be honest, last week was rough. Seriously, I was not a happy camper or a pleasant person to be around. What I loved most about the past week is that I survived. 

What I'm looking forward to// Time off! First on a legitimate vacation and then a staycation of sorts after I get home and before camp starts. 

What my latest obsession is// Not wearing winter boots!! I am filled with joy that I get to put other shoes in the rotation once again. I love my Uggs, but I'm ready for them to sit in the closet until next December. (Or October...but let's not dwell on that right now...SUNSHINE!)

What I've been daydreaming about// Having lots of quality time with J.! Ever since we started dating our work schedules have been crazy and we never really get to spend more than a day together in person. We text and talk and see each other almost every day but it's always in little pieces of time and more often than not there's a purpose. It will be nice to hang out without time limits! 

What I'm watching// The Mind of A Chef on Netflix. There's only two seasons and I'm about a quarter of a way through the second season. The show is the perfect combination of cooking show, history show and biography! I hadn't heard of the show before but when I Googled it I learned that it's won a James Beard Award for Best TV Program on Location and a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Program so I guess I'm not alone in thinking it's a great show!

What I'm listening to// I need to get on the ball and make some summer time playlists. I haven't really been listening to anything lately other than the occasional 8tracks playlist. 

What I'm craving// I go back and forth between a Frozen Hot Chocolate from Second Cup and a Caramel, Mocha or Coffee Frappuccino from Starbucks. 

It's a short & sweet post today. I've got some errands to run this afternoon before work. And I am very excited to run errands in the sunshine! We're finally getting some spring like weather around these parts and I'm eager to soak up as much vitamin D as possible. And some iced coffee because 'tis the season! 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

It's A Fine, Fine Life

Allie from Reckless is hosting a brand new link up focused on sharing what we've been liking about life lately. And the timing could not be better. Last week was rough. I'll be the first to admit I was not a nice person to be around. Without any real reason I was tired and cranky and just couldn't shake the grumpiness.

Thankfully, this is a new week.

And It's a Fine, Fine Life.

I live in an amazing country. Sometimes I wish I had easier access to Vanilla Coke, Chick-Fil-A and the mythical Cookie Butter I can't disagree with the majority of things on this list. Canada isn't perfect but I am sure am happy to live here.

I can walk into a grocery store and have thousands of food options right at my finger tips. Coffee, broccoli, chicken, bacon, spices from all over the world. And if you really stop and think about it for more than a few seconds that fact alone is absolutely incredible.

I have two amazingly phenomenal best friends. No matter how major or minor a crisis is I know I can count on them to talk me through it or give me a dose of perspective. We haven't been friends forever but they are certainly my forever friends.

I've got a wonderful boyfriend who doesn't always understand my thought processes but tries his best. Who always says good morning & good night and who goes out of his way to ease my anxious thoughts. Plus he makes me laugh, which is equally as important.

It's easy to get caught up in the anxiety. The pressure to be successful in other people's eyes and to always have answers about "what comes next" can be overwhelming. At the end of the day though I have a whole lot to be thankful about in this life. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Shoes, Bags and Dinosaur Pasta

Saturday I headed to the mall and even though I wasn't in the market for a new carry on bag I couldn't resist taking this one home with me when I saw it at Winners. It's a step up from my very beaten up backpack and a much nicer than my default duffle bag but it's still super functional. Apparently it also jumped out at Peyton since she promptly jumped in to inspect it while I was trying to snap a photo. 

I also scored an amazing deal on a pair of TOMS they were leftovers from last season and were on clearance a few times over. When all was said and done I paid under $20. Sometimes (on the very rare occasion) having small feet works out in my advantage!

I also snagged a box of dinosaur shaped pasta that was on sale for $2 because you can't pass up a deal like that. I'm now taking suggestions for how best to prepare dinosaur shaped pasta. So far, I'm leaning towards the mac & cheese treatment.

My Saturday night was super uneventful. I came home from the mall washed, dried & folded a load of clothes. If only I put them away instead of leaving everything folded in the basket I would haven gotten top marks for laundry! I also pulled my suitcase out and started packing a few things since I'm working all this week and I like to be prepared. 

Originally Sunday was date day, but J. came down with the flu Saturday night so that was quickly cancelled. Since I had done everything I needed to do Saturday night in anticipating of spending all day Sunday with J. Sunday turned into an incredibly lazy day. I did a lot of lounging. And then had a visit with my aunt after supper to hear all about her trip down south. I was home by 8:30 and happily settled in bed by 10.

I've got a busy week with a few last minute errands to run and packing to finish. I've got some blog posts scheduled (thanks to a super lazy Sunday) for the week so this isn't the last you'll hear from me.

Sharing my weekend here & here.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

What's Up Wednesday

I've been playing with monthly Currently posts and while I like the idea of documenting things like that I'm not sure the monthly format is something that going to stick long term. So this week I'm joining the 'What's Up Wednesday' weekly linkup to make my currently a little more current.

What I loved about the past week// Four day weekend!! Time with my family, time with J.'s family, time by myself, time to get some camp work done. Lots of delicious food. All perfection in my book!

What I'm looking forward to// Vacation! Only 10 days until my current contract ends and I'm on a plane bound for a much warmer climate. And when I get back I'll still have two full weeks before I need to move to camp for the summer. I am really excited to have some actual time off and a genuine vacation!

What my latest obsession is// Bruchetta. I've been buying pre-made bruchetta mix from my local grocery store, piling it on fresh ciabatta bread, adding parmesan cheese shavings and sticking it under the broiler for 5 minutes or so. Totally delicious. 

What I've been daydreaming about// Sunshine and summertime. Plain and simple. Sometimes I get really carried away and think about sitting outside in the sunshine first thing in the morning before campers are all awake for the day. Sipping my coffee in silence, watching the camp groundhogs frolic in the field. Inevitably my daydreams get a dose of reality when I imagine running any sort of program with four feet of snow still on the ground. 

What I'm watching// I'm behind on every single TV show I used to watch religiously. The only exception is Hockey Wives, but that's only been on for four episodes so far. 

What I'm listening to// It has been ages since I updated my iPod or iTunes. I always have the country radio station on when I'm in the car. Now and then when I'm getting ready for work I'll turn on a country 8tracks playlist. 

What I'm craving// Sunshine, green grass, any indication that winter is going to end. You might assume the photos below were taken in December or January but both of them were taken this past weekend. There's still close to 3 feet of snow on the ground in most places and the water at the beach looks anything but welcoming. And Subway. I really want some Subway. With an iced coffee for dessert. 

What I'm doing this weekend// This is the last weekend before my trip! I've crossed the major stuff off my to do list (credit card, travel insurance, tickets) but I need to make a trip to the mall to pick up a new pair of TOMS and potentially another pair of shorts. I finish work on Friday and fly out on Saturday so I'll be spending some time next weekend packing so I'm not scrambling to do it at the last minute. 

What else is new//I'm working on a new blog series focused on camp, which I am super excited about. I can't believe my trip is coming up in a little more than a week. I've been reading up on the Bullet Journalling  system and think I'm going to give it a try. My current planner is one I purchased from Michael's and while I love it for somethings I still find myself keeping lists everywhere and looking for lists that aren't inside the planner. Stay tuned for a planner post in the near future!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Blogging Around the Campfire #1

I am super excited to be launching a brand new (and my very first) series on the blog! I don't have a set schedule quite yet, once a week or once a month. Probably more frequently in the summer when I'm actually at camp and a little less frequently during the winter months. 

Today I'm going to start things off by introducing you to my camp story. I've shared pieces of it here, here and here. And there's probably hundreds more mentions of camp throughout the last three years of blog posts. 

My parents sent me to church camp when I was 7 years old. I cried 75% of the week, because I missed my parents but I didn't want to go home. Even as a child I was a fickle creature. Over the next 10 years I fell in love with camp. I lived for the time spent at camp and as I grew older eagerly awaited the day I was old enough to be a counsellor. 

When I was 16 I signed up to do an LIT program at a different camp because my camp was on the small side and didn't have that kind of pre-counsellor program. When I was 17 I worked at a camp for children and youth who were "in the system" because I wasn't old enough to work at the came I'd grown up at, the rule was you had to be graduated from high school. The following summer when I was 18 I returned to my beloved church camp where I worked as a counsellor for two amazing summers. In 2010 I got the opportunity to be the seasonal director for the summer, which due to a lot of unfortunate and heartbreaking circumstances ended up being the last summer for that particular camp.

I had to take a summer off from camp because of my school schedule but in 2012 I was ready to return to camp. Through a series of coincidences and perfect timing I found myself accepting a position at my current camp which provides summer camps to children, youth and adults who have disabilities. The camp has no religious affiliation, and while there are days I deeply miss that sense of community and growth I experienced growing up at church camp I love the experiences I've had at my current camp. This will be my fourth summer there and to be honest if you had told me back in 2012 that I'd still be there four years later I would have told you flat out there's no way that's happening. I've had opportunities to walk away but the time just hasn't been right, I know I won't be there forever but I'm determined to learn as much as I can and put as much effort into making it an incredible place while I'm there. 

My dream job would be working in a year round position at a summer camp and retreat centre that does have a religious affiliation but is also fully accessible and includes programs for people with disabilities. That may be a tall order and a big dream but nothing is impossible.

I'm hoping that this series will give me a chance to share my love for camp and some of the lessons I've learned over the years and that others will want to share their camp experiences. If you'd like to do a guest post send me an e-mail( or comment below and I'll be in touch. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter Weekend Love

I officially love Four Day Weekends. 

Friday my day started with a trip to the nursing home with J. and his family to celebrate his great grandmother's 92nd birthday. It wasn't anything elaborate but I enjoyed eating cake & ice cream and chatting with his family. When we left the home we headed to Easter Dinner #1 at J.'s parents. Even though it was Good Friday they had a big turkey dinner that day because J.'s sister had to head back to university Sunday morning. While we were waiting for supper to cook we were entertained watching a group of deer that were hanging out in the backyard. 

Saturday I had a really low key day. I woke up feeling really well rested and felt totally relaxed and fulfilled as I drank my coffee and ate my breakfast while reading through so many blog posts about 'Silent Saturday'. This is definitely this first year I've done any reflecting about Saturday as a waiting day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I spent a lot of time journalling and I finally joined the She Reads Truth bandwagon. I'm still on the hunt for a new Bible though. I would love something soft cover, with margins and I'd like it to be around $20-$30. Almost all of the ones I've seen on line have been well over $50 and that's just too far out of my budget.

Since we had Easter dinner with J.'s parents on Friday he joined my family for our Easter dinner on Sunday. I did J. up a little Easter basket using a baking dish instead of a basket because I knew he needed a new one. There wasn't anything super elaborate inside, chocolate, chips, gum, his favourite protein bar, sunscreen and a few travel sized toiletries he can use during our trip. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. This was J.'s first time meeting my extended family and it was nice that it happened over a meal. We had birthday cake for dessert as a belated birthday celebration for my grandfather. I had my camera and planned to go for a walk after we ate to take some photos but it was so bitterly cold outside that it turned into a pretty short walk. There wasn't much to take photos of anyway. Everything is still covered in snow and ice. I heard on the radio last week that based on the mathematical equation for figuring out snow melt we can expect to see snow on the ground until May 18...

I also accomplished one of my April Goals and revamped my blogs About Me page. I'm really pleased with the change. I will probably tweak a few things about it over the next little while but it's a big improvement on what used to be there and I'd love for you to check it out and tell me what you think! Today I'm working on crossing off some things on my pre-camp list such as making a Facebook group for the staff and sending out an email to introduce myself to the new counsellors. Nothing strenuous but it's nice to have an extra day to focus on that kind of stuff. 

I'm linking up here & here to share my weekend! 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Liebster Award

I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Brooke over at Bye, Comparison. Which was perfect timing because I saw the nomination just as I was pondering what to blog about today! Brooke asked me eleven questions which I will do my best to answer.

The rule is that I'm supposed to nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers. After a quick search through my feed I discovered that apparently I don't follow many blogs that have under 200 followers. So I'm going to go ahead and share this on the Blogging Elite page and if you'd like to answer the questions at the end of this post, I'd love to read your answers!

The Questions

How did you decide on the title of your blog, and what's it about?
The first step I took when naming was blog was writing down a bunch of words that I loved and that made me happy. Rainy days are my favourite but 'rainy' didn't have a good ring do it and 'rubber boots' was far too wordy so I stumbled upon 'Galoshes'. I knew I needed something else and I anticipated blogging about my faith so I wanted to incorporate that into the name of my blog. I liked the alliteration of Grace & Galoshes and that it encompassed my favourite things, reflected a love of the outdoors and hinted at my faith. I've never once regretted my choice or felt the need to 're-brand' my blog name!

Where does your blogging inspiration come from?
I can't say inspiration comes from one particular place. Sometimes I write about my daily life, other times I blog about my faith. Occasionally I share my photography, kitchen adventures, arts & crafts projects and antedotes about working with children and youth at summer camp.  

Can you give me 11 random facts about yourself?
- I love baby names! I love knowing how people chose their children's names, how they got their names and what names they like, I used to be a member of an active forum that was all about discussing names!
- I hate trendy diets. I am a firm believer that everything in moderation and you'll never convince me eating soy burgers and vegan 'cheese' is healthier for me than a steak or a piece of cheddar. Ingredient lists shouldn't have big words. Even better if the food doesn't have an ingredient list.
- I don't really like plain hamburgers, if I'm going to eat a hamburger I really want it to be a bacon cheeseburger. 
- I am a pretty decent canoeist and am certified to teach canoeing within camps across my province.
- McDonald's ice coffee is far superior to any other iced coffee. (Although I haven't experienced Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee which multiple people have assured me is the absolute best.)
- I feel really passionately about doing something as a career that helps people.
- I can't sleep unless I'm covered with blankets. 
- I have boxes full of old journals and notebooks filled with my writing taking up an insane amount of space in my closet.
- The concept of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a wedding is mind boggling to me. 
- I love having a plan for the day and thrive off being prepared & organized.
- I am all about lip chaps and sometimes glosses but I cannot get on board with lipstick. I hate the way it feels on my lips!

What is something you've been loving lately?
Salted Carmel! I just saw Dairy Queen now has a salted carmel truffle blizzard and I don't frequent DQ at all but I'm totally going to stop by and try the salted carmel blizzard! I've also been attempting to cut down on my pop drinking. On average I probably drink close to a glass a day, which isn't terrible but I know it's not great. I've started drinking sparkling water and it's totally becoming an obsession. It satisfies by craving for something different than regular water on my taste buds but doesn't have all the added colours and chemicals of Coke. 

What is it you love most about blogging?
I love that it gives me an outlet to write and I love meeting people who are in similar life stages. 

If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
I'm a believer in the superstition that if you tell your wishes they won't come true! So I'll be keeping these to myself. :)

What is one country in the world would you like to visit? Why?
I would love to go to Poland (with stops in some other European countries) and explore World War 2 historical sites.

What are you currently watching or reading?
I've been watching Full House on Netflix and have totally been sucked into Hockey Wives. As for reading one of my goals for April is to put a huge dent in my reading list.

What is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you (that isn't too embarrassing to share)
I constantly feel embarrassed. And I try really hard not to dwell on those moments because they increase my anxiety and nothing good happens after that. Kudos to those of you that can share your stories and laugh about them later but it isn't something I do.

What would be the nicest thing someone could do for you?
I am all about little gestures. And I hate asking people to do things so when people do nice things without asking it's immensely appreciated. The most recent example of this is J. moving my car when an unexpected on street parking ban was announced and leaving a slice of pizza on the passenger seat for me to eat after work. 

If your 5-years-ago self could see you now, what would surprise her the most about your life right now?
I think 20 year old Donna would be surprised 25 year old Donna does not have it all together. On the flip side of that 25 year old Donna is shocked and amused that 20 year old Donna was under the impression all 25 year olds have their lives together!

Instructions for Nominees:
Answer the eleven questions given to you by the person that nominated you (see below).
Please comment on this post with your link when you are done so I can see your answers!
In your post, link back to the person/blog who nominated you and give a little thank you shout out.
After completing the questions, nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers on the social media platform of your choice, and give them eleven questions of your choice.
Notify your nominees of their nomination, and provide a link to your post so that they know what to do.
Here are your questions:
  1. What is your favourite pair of shoes?
  2. If you were planning a road trip where would you travel?
  3. How old were you when you learned how to drive?
  4. How many hours of sleep do you get each day?
  5. What made you decide to start blogging?
  6. What is your favourite Disney (or cartoon) move?
  7. What culture would you like to experience for yourself?
  8. Which celebrity would you like to ban from pop culture?
  9. Where do you keep your most prized possession? 
  10. What is your go to order at your favourite fast food restaurant? 
  11. How do you take your coffee?
Let me know if you answer the questions so I can visit your blog and check out the answers!