Torrington World Famous Gopher Hole Museum

Traveling in Alberta one may see more than jaw-dropping majestic Rocky Mountains, teeth-chattering glaciers, and most photogenic turquoise lakes. More than 50 stuffed gophers take residence in this little hamlet called Torrington, population under 200. They are cuter than the bear cubs and funnier than Comedy Central. One of them even made it to 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Probably the best entertainment $2 can buy driving through Alberta ($0.50 for children). The unique quirkiness and humour these gophers have to offer makes this a must visit destination on a road trip through Alberta. Check them out and vote for your favourite!

 

PS. If you are graving for more gopher amusement after all the dioramas in the museum, ask for the Fire Hydrant Gopher Tour. Fire hydrants in Torrington are painted and each tells a interesting story.

 

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Custom Godzilla T-Shirt Corset by Betty Galore Couture

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I got a custom-made OOAK Godzilla T-shirt Corset!!!  I find that the off-the-rack corsets are all too sexy to be wearing outside and not comfortable at all!  If it’s comfortable, then it’s just a corset lookalike – it has the shape but it’s not the real thing.  So, I decided to get a custom made corset because every girly girl should own a corset, right?

When I was researching about custom-made corsets, I came across Betty Galore Couture in Calgary.  This is my first corset, so I want to make sure it’s (reasonably) comfortable and something that I can wear it outside often.  The tomboy in me got very excited to see Betty can make any t-shirt into corset!  I made an appointment with Betty right away.

Betty is an expert in corsetry.  I asked for a corset to be made with a Godzilla t-shirt.  That’s about all the contribution I had towards the design.  She’s super friendly and professional.  She helped me select a style that was suitable for the first-time corset wearer.  I really love this OOAK beautiful corset that she designed and created for me!   She mixed the Japanese pop culture icon Godzilla with a hint of sparkle and Victorian glamour.  Check out the details!  She even picked Godzilla green for inside and under the lace for the modesty panel on the back.   It’s fabulous and FUN!  I’m probably the girliest tomboy.  It’s easy to style this t-shirt corset – I can pair this corset with jeans or dress it up with a long tutu dress.  I have the corset at a pretty comfortable tightness in the pictures above.  It can even go tighter for a more dramatic look.
By the way, there’s a new Godzilla movie coming out on May 16, 2014.  Watch the new Godzilla movie trailer.   It’s pretty exciting!

 

Closet Purge with Karina

Jessica and I have known the very beautiful and very talented Karina for a couple of years now. Besides her passion and profession as a personal stylist, a makeup artist and an interior designer in training, she taught me nude is the new black. My closet has been looking so grown up and so versatile. I am always amazed how she easily pieces basic items together with style, fun and grace. I got wardrobe inspirations every time we have coffee together.

A recent girls gathering got the three of us talking about what’s important in our lives and what creates happiness for us. Long story short, our first step is to simplify our lives by simplifying our closets. Have you done it? It’s really easier said than done.

For me, as I sifted through my closet, I discovered items I’ve forgotten which made me feel as surprised as the morning of Christmas day. I also found my trophies from sample sale battle fields. How could I let them go? We went through so much together, hair pulling and elbow rubbing, before reaching the cash register. Covered in garment bags were my sentimental outfits. We go way back; all the way back to my 3rd date with my husband, to my ceremony of becoming a Canadian, to my winning the 3 letters of my professional designation, and more. Why do they only fit me 15lbs ago?

Lived and learned. Here are a few thoughts that got me through the emotional roller coaster during the purge:

  1. For those no longer fit
    • By the time I lose those 15lbs, I know I will want to buy a new piece to celebrate.
  2. For those forgotten
    • I didn’t even miss it, and that means I can live without it.
  3. For those not wore in ages 
    • Apparently I like it more off me than on me.
  4. For those confusing
    • I couldn’t make it go with anything I own, obviously it’s not my style.

After hauling bags and bags of clothing to donations, we hope to find new loving homes for a few of our vintage dresses. It’s time to shop our closets, ladies and gentlemen! Here’s a sneak peak before the sale. Look how Karina brought life out of these beautiful pieces.

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New Experience – Meditation for Beginners

Cher and I went to a drop-in group meditation class with a couple of other friends on Friday, after work, at 7th Chakra Qigong & Yoga Centre in Calgary. It was a very interesting and uplifting experience.

We all have heard that mediation is good for us. Research shows that it lowers blood pressure, decreases muscle tension, reduces stress, boosts immunity, leads to emotional balance and even reduces pre-menstrual syndrome. But, most of us don’t practice it because we don’t know how to do it and it sounds very spiritual and difficult.

From Friday night’s experience, I found out that you don’t have to be a spiritual person to gain the benefits from mediation and it’s not that difficult! There were about a dozen of us sitting in a circle. We sat in chairs, resting palms (facing upward) on our knees with our feet comfortably flat on the ground. The teacher gave us some basic instructions at the beginning: close eyes and rest your focal point in the imaginary centre of your head, focus on breathing without any conscious effort and let go of any thoughts that drift through. We stood up and did some stretch before we started the meditation session. Then, throughout the hour, the teacher played the guided meditation session via iPod – i.e. guiding voice of what to do (mostly about breathing) over calming background music. After the session, we stood up and did the same stretches to wrap up the meditation session. I had a very good sleep on Friday night.

Tips that I picked up from this session:

  • Meditation is to repeat this cycle: clear your mind, focus on breathing and your senses, observe thoughts, release them and refocus on breathing.
  • There are many free meditation podcast and music on iTune that you can download.

I’ll allocate 30 minutes nightly for meditating from now on. Please go ahead and give it a try! Let us know your meditation experience in the comment.

Review: olloclip 4-in-1 lens for iPhone 5s

Santa brought me this little gadget, olloclip 4-in-1 lens for iPhone 5s, for Christmas. It’s now a permanent member in my mobile photography kit.

This 4-in-1 lens has:

  • 15x macro lens let you get very close to the object – approx. 12mm focus distance!
  • 10x macro lens gives you about 18mm focus distance
  • fisheye lens captures the about 180 degree field of view and creates the cutest picture of your dog’s face
  • wide-angle lens doubles the original iPhone’s field of view so it’s good for landscape pictures.

 Some sample photos I snapped: (the full cake one is not taken with this lens – it’s just for comparison purpose to see how macro the other pictures are.) 

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Taking photos helps me seeing beauty in the everyday ordinary things.  Do you like taking photos?

Review: Stila Holiday Essentials – Travel Size Cosmetic Kit

I love travel-size cosmetic!  They are perfect for the small party purses.  So, I bought this little holiday essentials kit at Sephora when I saw it even though I was there to buy presents for others.  Side note: I love gifting myself!  ;-)  Everyone should gift oneself every once in a while!  It feels great!  Try it!

In this Stila Holiday Essentials Kit, we get 3 things: classic bright red (Beso) liquid lipstick gloss, waterproof black felt-tip pen liquid eyeliner and shimmer nude/beige colour “Kitten” eyeshadow.  It’s perfect for the holiday look – just think… classic cat-eyes and red lips with a LBD!

I bought this kit mainly for the “Kitten” eyeshadow and the waterproof eyeliner.  I normally would not wear bright red lip colour, especially this intense red!  It’s a scary thing to try!  Well… I stepped out of my “comfort zone” and tried it.  What a pleasant surprise!  This red doesn’t seem to make me look like I have jaundice.  ;-)  It’s pretty chic!  I kind of like the bright red for the holidays!

The only thing with this bright red lip gloss is you’d apply it carefully.  It’s not like a nude lip colour that you just glide it on without a mirror.  You need to be more precise with it.  You need to watch where you put it and let it set for a bit before you drink that coffee.

In short, I highly recommend everyone to try this kit.  It’s under $20 at Sephora.

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Have you tried this kit?  What do you think?  Is there other makeup kit that you got recently that you like?  Comment below and let us know!

 

Adults Only Nights at Telus Spark – the New Science Centre in Calgary

Did you know that every second Thursday of the month from 6pm to 10pm, Science Centre hosts a special adults only night?

It opens late and no kids allowed! Since there’s no kids, they can set up “more dangerous” activities and every month’s program is different! Check out what’s coming up! http://www.sparkscience.ca/events/adults-only-nights/

With no children around, we got to be like kids! We enjoyed all the hands-on experience and had lots of fun! We were stimulated by the interesting visuals and wowed by the amazing doom theatre’s HD digital movie that is powered by 18 computers simultaneously. It was a great movie – we were moved by the epic journey of the iconic Monarch butterfly on one of the most incredible migrations on Earth and inspired by the very-determined Canadian scientists who uncovered the secret of Monarch butterflies. We were impressed by the Firestorm Troupe‘s performance.

It’s a great place to hang out with your friends or your date! Go play and let us know what you think in the comments!  Or, comment when you want to go and we may meet you there!  It’ll be fun!

Here’s a tiny sample of what we experienced last night at Telus Spark science centre.

 

 

 

Being a Mo Sista in Movember

I witnessed people being very enthusiastic in charity causes. They all seem very rewarded afterwards.  I’ve participated in a few fund raisers this year and they’ve all been fun. However, I can’t say that I feel the sense of reward I’ve observed from my fellow Good Samaritans. Some said it’s because I’ve only been giving money away instead of “doing” any charity work. I do want the donations to mean something to me personally beyond the fact that it’ll benefit those in need. I also want to feel the sense of reward and contribution more directly. So, this year, I switched gear to focus on “doing” instead of “giving money” by taking the following steps:

Step 1. Identified the person I care about the most.

It’s my husband Tom (not just because he’s reading this blog). I can’t imaging a life without him. Who is it in your life that you can’t live without? Is it your parents, your children, your pet, yourself?

Step 2. Find a fun campaign easily relatable.

Every time when I see Tom’s five o’clock shadow lasting through the weekend, I recall around November every year, there are lots of unshaven men roaming around within my sight. Movember raises funds and awareness for Men’s health (specifically prostate and testicular cancer) by sprouting millions moustaches around the world every year during November. Recently stylish men even adds more class and characters into the movement with trendy shapes and impeccable grooming tricks. I thought I join the men this year in my own way.

Every week I posted an update photo of my sketche-in moustache (see below). I also make an update video with my coworkers on Facebook. We are growing “batman” together. Although I am not sure if I’ve found my cause, I seem to have developed some attachment and emotions to the cause by focusing on “doing” something for the cause. I look forward to the update photo taking and video making, and I even wish we have more Movember months during the year. It’s growing on me.

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5 Tips We Learned From Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown

Stuffed again!

Jessica and I joined lots of Calgarians at Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown 2013. In addition to trying out 11 top chef’s creations in one stop, we went to support sustainable seafood. What a fun experience! What a great way to showcase sustainable ingredients. It sure got people talking and spreading the awareness of a more responsible way of life.

Chowder is such a comfort food especially on a cold day, or 6 months of winter in our case. We learned a few tricks from the pros as we savoured and appreciated the imagination poured into all 11 chowder creations tonight. Ready to spice up your winter?

 

1. Pork rind is a fantastic substitute for bread or cracker in your chowder.

Tonight’s Chowder created by Chef Paul Mcgeevy of CRAFT Beer Market won the Best Paring with beer. This grey cod, chorizo 7 chicharon chowder was topped with an oversized super crispy pork grind.

2.  Vegetable chips such as kale chips are also brilliant alternative to bread or cracker for your next chowder.

Chef Rebecca House of Thompsons topped her Smoked Salmon Chowder with kale chips and it won tonight’s People’s Choice title. Chef Andrew Keen of Redwater Grill added a splash of colour and texture to his Pacific Oyster & Parsnip Chowder with vegetable chips.

3. Devonshire cream can be used to add richness and flavour to your chowder.

Yes, devonshire cream commonly used with tea scones is proven to perform wonders in Chef Dustin Schafer‘s Smoked Salmon and Candied Scallop Chowder tonight.    He dropped a dollop of devonshire cream mixed with roasted sweet corns in the cup before pouring over steaming hot chowder to complete the serving. I was in heaven.

4. Okra adds body to none cream based chowder.

For those who are lactose intolerant, creamy chowder can be a dangerous craving. Chef Darren Maclean‘s DTF Modern Chowder was the only chowder without cream tonight.  He used okra to add body to his creation. It’s such a surprising and genius modification to a chowder. The bold and memorable flavor won tonight’s Best Chowder!

5. Cheese kills the heat.

There were a few spicy chowders tonight, mostly curry spices. A big cheese station offering generous portion of Asiago, Brie and Goat cheeses was placed half way down the lineup of chowder stations. It sure was a great relief to prepare us in challenging all of the full-flavored chowders tonight.

 

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Rediscover WOW 2013

We love photography and Rouge - one of Calgary’s finest restaurant!  So, when I got the email about this special event that celebrates the passion for fine photography and luxurious food while supports Canada’s public foundation for women and girls.  We just had to go even if it was on a Thursday night after work.

The Worldwide WOW photo competition partnered with Rouge to provide a dinner that brings together the best in Canadian cuisine that complements the wonderful photographs showcased during the special fundraising event for CPC Elevate supporting The Canadian Women’s Foundation.

There was a singer performing live from the second floor balcony to welcome the guests’ arrival. I only recorded a 20-second raw footage via iPhone to show you how beautiful it was!

Like WOW, Rouge’s special Menu for the night brought together the best from coast to coast:

  • Northern
    • Poached Arctic Char, Brown Butter and Lemon
    • Paired with 2010 Kettle Valley, Chardonnay, VQA, Naramata, BC
    • Fresh oysters
    • Lobster fritters
  • Prairie
    • Grass Fed Alberta Ribeye, Saskatoon Berry Jus
    • Paired with 2008 Noble Ridge, Meritage, Okanagan Falls, BC
    • Grizzly gouda cheese bread
    • Butternut squash soup
  • Eastern Townships
    • Compressed Foie Terrine, Garden Rhubarb, Bourbon Maple Syrup
    • Maple Whiskey Minnie Brule (creme brule dessert)
    • Paired with 2011 Domaine Pinnacle, Ice Cider, Quebec
  • West
    • Wild Mushroom Risotto with roasted seasonal root vegetables
    • Paired with 2009 Liquidity, Pinot Noir, Okanagan Falls, BC

Featured Artists:

  • Steve Speer
  • Neil Zeller – Cher bought a beautiful photo “Flowing North on Macleod South” – taken during the 2013 Calgary Flood
  • Charlene Williams
  • Jeff Cruz
  • Rafal Wegiel
  • Brett Gilmour
  • Jennifer Alysson
  • Jared Sych
  • Jan Boydol

We hope this blog post brings you the awareness of this wonderful foundation that empowers women and girls in Canada to move out of violence and out of poverty and into confidence.  If you love photography and would like to support a great cause, you may want to check out this WOW Photo Contest – http://www.wowphotocontest.ca/details/

Please feel free to share your special events in the comments area to raise awareness.

Some iPhone photos that we took during the wondering evening:

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