Ask for What You Want. What Could Really Happen?

Ask for What You Want. What Could Really Happen?

prospect, Nova Scotia

I have a client on the way to the studio right now and she texted me to say “what would you like from Second Cup?”

It really left me feeling like I would almost be being rude saying “nothing thank you” (like I am too good for you and your second cup!)

But how often do we ask questions the wrong way, or worse… we do not ask at all.

My Finn is gifted at asking questions. He asks me about a million a day (and isn’t always as gifted at listening to the answer!!!) But he will look at a situation and say… “those guys over there (at Disney) have cookies, I am going to ask if I can have one. If it’s yes it’s yes and if it’s no, its no. And that’s ok, I’m just going to ask.”


The answer might be no…

The answer MIGHT be no, but the answer MIGHT be yes!

If you don’t ask at all, you have already told yourself no. That for whatever reason, conscious or subconscious, you don’t deserve the answer to be yes, or the world isn’t fair and things don’t usually go your way…

Kids don’t see that.

They just see what they want and they ask for it.

Alex and I sometimes cringe, but I rarely stop them, because it’s my own stories telling me that it’s not ok to ask for what we want. I want them to keep on asking through their lives. Asking for what they need and want, believing that they are worth it! And you know what? The mamma at Disney happily shared her cookies, the lady shared crackers so Addy could feed the birds and more often than not, the answer of a reasonably asked question is yes…

IF you KNOW that you want something. you can ask the right questions, the right way.

Make it so someone would be silly to say no. Be confident in your question. Believe that the answer should be yes, and it will come across that way. Or at least believe you are strong enough to handle a no, but you are brave enough to hope for a yes!

What will you ask for today?






Golden Rules.

Golden Rules.

Well next up on the blogging chopping block is a wonderful side trip to Golden, BC.

We originally planned to go to to Golden so we could go white water rafting on the Kickinghorse River. I booked us a hotel, found out about Glamping, and then had a brain wave.

Post concussion Heather can’t go white water rafting. I was thinking about how Alex had never gone, and that we were so close…but I didn’t think about me.

So since we were going to be there i thought that I would do some research on what else we could do. I found a company that did Stand Up Paddleboard Tours, if they can take beginners paddle boarding it has got to be pretty tame right?

So that was our revised plan… we would drive up through Yoho, see a couple of beautiful things, and explore Golden….

It was probably my least planned part of the trip which is usually kind of stressful for me. But I had my walks and easy hikes book, a sore knee and a rainy day.

We started the day by grabbing hot chocolate at Second Cup in Banff, and heading up for a beautiful scenic drive. (ok we started off by me spilling hot chocolate ALLL over the car when I hit the side of the car with the cup when I got in!)

We decided to hike Wapta Falls, even in the rain it was a beautiful hike. I love how many tall trees there are in the Rockies! I have heard that there are places in Bridgewater and I am sure other places in the maritimes where you can find trees like this, and so I think this summer I am going to go on a hunt!

Wapta falls is not the prettiest waterfall I have ever seen. In fact when we finished the hike (also in the rain) people asked if it was worth it “is it pretty” and it was STUNNING and powerful. Definitely worth seeing, but it wasn’t pretty, definitely a different kind of waterfall with the big rock pile in front of it…but a good hike for us to do in the rain.

We wanted to check out Takkakaw Falls and Rainbow Falls beyond, however the road was closed *we later found out that there was a recent avalanche that was miles long* so we took a little spin up to Emerald Lake. My knee was feeling pretty sore at this point (I did something strange and twinged it at Lake Louise the day before) so we didn’t do anything too strenuous.

We got into Golden and pulled off to the information centre, we’re not usually big on information centres, but since there were a lot of places closed because of either bears, or avalanches, we thought we should check in.

Then we decided to head up to our kicking horse resort stay. Here’s the real deal, I don’t think I would personally recommend the Kickinghorse Resort as a great place to stay. I understand that it is ON the ski hill, so sure, in the winter I can see the appeal, and it is right at the “resort” so if you wanted to do the gondola or go see Po the bear, then you again, are right there. However, for us we were 15 minutes outside of the town (30 minutes if you  get stuck on the wrong side of the train!) and there is really very little up there in this shoulder season. It was cloudy up the mountain so we decided not to pay the $80 to head up there, knowing we wouldn’t be able to see much. But then we walked around the resort area and at 5pm there was really nothing open except for the Kickinghorse Outfitters store we checked it out and chatted with the cashier who recommended the Wolf’s Den for dinner.

Funny story….we had stopped at the grocery store on the way up the mountain so we were going to have sausages and nachos for supper. Because our room had a “kitchenette” which was actually a microwave and mini fridge inside the shoe box of a room that we had going on….And because I am frugal I didn’t want to go out for dinner when we had bought things to make for dinner. So we sat on the bed and chatted about plans for the next day and Alex was getting hungry so kept asking if I had decided if we were going to go for burgers (which we had looked up online) or eat in the room. After much debating I simply said “those hamburgers sound better than microwaved hot dogs” and we laughed and then headed into the Wolf’s Den for dinner.

The Den was cute, it felt very woodsy and had some amazing details like huge solid raw wood tables and log cabin feel.

The burgers were very tasty…but the kicker for me was the onion ring that they put on top….to the point that frugal heather (that’s me!) HAD to order a basket of onion rings. They even tasted good cold in bed when Alex was asleep and I was watching Netflix.

We hung out in the outdoor hot tub with a guy who had no social awareness, and eventually decided that it was time to move on. It;s a bummer that the hot tub is enclosed so you can’t see the mountains.

Next day we got up, had some breakfast in bed…not on purpose…just nowhere else to sit in the room… seriously! So small! so yogurt granola and berries in bed and we were on our way.

We went and walked around town which was pretty small, Alex had wanted to check out a bike shop and then we went for a little hike at Canyon Creek. It was beautiful but we didn’t go our usual “beyond” type hikes. We went about 400 feet past the main overlook and I turned us around. The “tarantula mosquitos” were driving me bananas and the hike back down to creek level was INTENSE on the knees.

We looked for a nice spot to make lunch and hang a hammock on our decent but we didn’t find anywhere we really liked. Just before we went uphill I had spotted a little trail creekside, so we followed that a little ways and picked a perfect hammock spot. It was spectacular. The sun was shining and the cool aqua coloured water was rushing by. I actually sat still for over an hour and dozed off. We made KD and the sausages that we had decided not to microwave the night before. And we didn’t rush. I think that it was the most relaxed part of our entire trip….or at least I thought that it would be until we checked into our Glamping set up with Love + Lantern.

Our glamping tent was all set up at the Eco Adventure Ranch when we arrived. Alysia had it set up so sweetly with everything that you need. Towels, cooler, lanterns, flashlight, a beautifully made and super comfortable bed, extra blankets, everything you would need to cook… stove, pots and pans, plates glasses etc.

It was more spacious than our hotel the night before and so much more up our alley. The views from the campground were beautiful and it was quiet. We lied (lay? layed??? this is one of the  grammar things that I never remember! )  in bed and read books, and I did a little watercolour painting, we made supper on the stove Alex rocked and a campfire and we fell asleep at something like 8:30pm. I wanted to see the tent lit up at night so I set an alarm for 11pm, but it still wasn’t really dark out!!

There is something relaxing about the simplicity of cooking outside. We almost always make camping spaghetti and we pre cook the ground beef ahead of time so that it’s quick and easy on the camp stove. If you haven’t cooked with a camp stove before it’s actually pretty easy!

Alysia (of Love & Lantern) had told us about a swimming hole and a little hike nearby, but we just wanted to chill. We had kind of been doing our version of “relaxing” on “vacation” up until this day, but between hammocking by the water and relaxing in our glamping tent, this day just turned into the most relaxing of our trip.

It was almost zero earlier in the week so we were a little bit concerned about being cold and we were really happy to see the extra blankets, and there was even a little heater….but we didn’t need any of it! Just the better-than-most-hotels-I have-ever-stayed-in quality duvet! And the bed was made out of memory foam or something, but it was glorious! I am ruined for camping!

We went back and forth and contacted Glacier Raf Company  (after having tried to call, leaving emails and voicemails for the other company that we had originally chatted with about the stand up paddle board tours…but they weren’t doing those because of the water.) Glacier was FABULOUS to chat with and helped us have a better idea of what the tours they offered would look like. We decided on the “family paddle” where we would just do the first part of the river that is more of a float, but you get to be on the water and stop at a small waterfall and walk right up it. Since we had come to Golden to get ON the water we figured the family paddle would be better than nothing, and it was really great.

When you arrive at the Glacier headquarters just out of town they have a nice fire outside and a beautiful office building where you check in, sign your waivers and hang out until its go time. They have a great sense of humour in getting you ready, but they are definitely still professional and focused on your comfort and safety. You could have as many or as few layers as you wanted. Wet suits, neoprene booties and socks, gloves, neoprene jackets, fleeces and waterproof windbreaking jackets before helmets and life jackets. These guys have the gear and have a system for gearing you up quickly. Then you get on the bus, head up river and start your rafting. Everyone with Glacier starts at the same spot and stops at the same spot for lunch, the bus just picks up those of us who aren’t continuing on. Because we were on the family float boat, we had a little girl who was hilarious and kept yelling at her father when he was just chatting instead of paddling. In fact, I think our team may go down in the history as the least coordinated paddlers of all time. I would love to say it didn’t bother me, but oh, it did! I actually think my favorite part was walking up the small brook to the crashing waterfall and drinking the water from it. It was beautiful and refreshing and if I ever go back I will be finding a way to spend the afternoon back there!

Glacier also has a professional photographer who comes to the best view point on the upper (as in it looks like we actually hit rapids, when we were only in that type of water for a few minutes!) and you can purchase the photos at the end of the trip. It’s a great option because for the real white water rafting you wouldn’t want to take a camera with you!

Lunch WAS SO GOOD! Honestly I did not expect to have the option of 4 meats (you selected ahead of time) three different salads, dips, veggies, chips fruit and cookies. There was also a variety of hot and cold drinks depending on if you needed to get warm or cool down!

I was for sure disappointed that we “couldn’t” (aka shouldn’t) do the rest of the water, but I was glad that we got out there! Such an amazing perspective to be on the river after driving by it for the entire week. 

We took a leisurely drive back through Yoho to Banff and would definitely visit Golden again, I would just do a bit more research ahead of time

Canmore Alberta – A Vacation of Dreams + Sore Legs

Canmore Alberta – A Vacation of Dreams + Sore Legs

We are just on the red eye home from Calgary and in common style there is no sleep for me on the airplane. I know its going to be a tough day with the kidlets at home and in hindsight i may not have picked this flight. However, we are here now, and instead of me being completely irritated and angry that i can’t sleep i thought i would try to use this time to do a little blogging on our trip.

I know that you already saw where we made the trip super affordable (aka close to free) in our blog post here, but now I want to share a little bit more about our Rocky Mountain Adventures.

After much research I knew that it would be more affordable for us to stay in the Canmore area, and since I didn’t spend a LOT of time there when I lived in Banff it seemed like a great place to explore.

I had purchased a Fodor’s book for Alex for Christmas on the area, but to be honest, they really aren’t that useful to me anymore. I do all of my research online and from talking to other people that I know, we took the book all the way to Banff and left it at the Chalet where we stayed…so I wouldn’t say it was a great investment. I know I saw people travelling around with them, but where we pre planned mostly everything in terms of accommodations, and wanted to eat out as little as possible (this plan backfired a little) then we found these two tools MUCH more beneficial.

1. The ALL TRAILS app. Its a FREE app that helps you to find hiking trails wherever you are, or where you are going. It has full trail reviews, can give you directions to the trail head and seems to have a great base of users that will give feedback really quickly so you can often find out what the conditions are like in the areas that you are.

2. A Specific interest book. For this trip I had “Easy Walks & Hikes in the Canadian Rockies” Its a book that I got when I moved to Banff and I would take different walks/hikes and print photos of me there with my friends, cousin, mom when she visited etc. There are pictures of Alex and I in there from when we visited Banff the year before we got married. Though we explored more than just walks and easy hiked on this trip it was a great tool for checking out a little spot to get out and stretch our legs driving between destinations etc. When we went to Hawaii we liked “The Big Island Revealed” even though the locals didn’t like when people used them… they were good resources to have when out and about.

We split our trip into three sections. Canmore. Banff and Golden BC. Actually we didn’t split it. Its just kind of how I’m going to split it up here.

Canmore had way more to offer than we expected, when I lived in Banff 12 years ago Canmore wasn’t nearly as big as it is now. We didn’t enjoy just walking around the town of Canmore as much as we did in Banff (and the nostalgia probably had a lot to do with that) but none the less it held a lot of beautiful gems.

The day we arrived we wanted to get out a little bit and stay active enough to keep us from falling asleep super early (we hadn’t slept at ALL the night before, poor Finn was up all night with a Kidney attack….one that left us on the phone to cancel our flight with only ten minutes before we would have to leave when he finally fell asleep. That was NOT an easy choice. Actually one of the toughest parenting choices we have ever faced!)

We decided to do Grassi Lakes trail. It has two options. Easy and “more difficult” the more difficult route is the one that we took because in general we have found that that easy route almost never has the better route. This one was pretty easy until the last inclines to the waterfall which were pretty straight up. It was a pretty busy hike on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, but it was pretty and we were glad to be out.

We grabbed some groceries, made nachos and ate them on the patio (which has an amazing view!!) and headed to bed around 8pm. All in all pretty impressive given the lack of sleep the night before and the time change!

The next day we decided to ease into things and headed back to one of my favourites from when I lived in Banff which was Johnston Canyon. I love waterfalls and the movement of water and this one has some pretty easy access, we got to the trail head around 7:30am before many others (there may have been two or three other cars) and we moved pretty well for getting used to the altitude. Its crazy what a difference that can make. We met a nice guy on the trail who asked after the upper falls if we were going to continue to the Ink Pots. I had never been before, it was another 10km or so, but we thought….its only 9am, we may as well. It was a lot more elevation gain than I expected but the end of the trail opens up to a huge meadow in the bow valley, where the Bow River runs through. Well worth the walk!

Then we met Alex’s friend (and I think now my friend too:) Tisha for lunch at a place called Crazy Weed. If she hadn’t recommended it the name probably would have turned me off. I am not up on my cannabis provinces and whatnot but I think I would have just skipped it to avoid any awkward mistakes! Tisha had driven to lunch with us from Calgary which was so super sweet. I had a tasty curry coconut sweet potato soup, and Alex and Tish shared the calamari. Alex and I both tried the Bison burger (which to be honest, was tasty, but re-visited us both on our hike later that afternoon) and Tish had the Thai Chicken Salad (which looked a lot like a freshii bowl to me) We sat outside on the patio, she hooked us up with some more suggestions for hikes and things to do and then we parted ways with a plan to meet up again before we left.

We drove back to the Banff Gate Mountain Inn and I fell asleep HARD late afternoon. We decided to make it canyon day and went to Grotto Canyon. It was listed in my easy walks and hikes book but wasn’t one that I had ever done. And for the first KM or so I was thinking it would go down as one of the worst hikes I had sent us on. Its starts out on a gravel trail, next to a big mineral plant, and you can hear the trucks on the highway. It’s exposed and relatively boing to look at. We almost turned around, but I thought that it had to get better, seeing as they have it in the book and the pictures look pretty interesting. As we continued on it did become more and more interesting, a little at a time. I learned the term baby heads (I really thought Alex was making it up until I heard someone else use the term to refer to small rocks that you had to walk on…roughly the size of babies heads!!!) and for the walking on baby heads and trying to go up slippery rocks to check out a waterfall i would probably recommend hiking boots even though the beginning of the trail doesn’t make you feel like you will need them at all.

Another early night. since the internet was awful and I was tired and we had a big day planned for the next day.

Ha Ling. “Our Mountain” This bad boy is going to get a post all of his own. Something about how overcoming the obstacles in our life made this a pretty big deal. Post to come.

After our big hike we got Blizzards. I am officially a Salted Caramel Truffle Blizzard addict. I mean ice cream (frozen yogurt at home) in general is a weakness of mine…but this one, if you haven’t had it…. I don’t really want to recommend it because I am afraid I will make an addict out of you as well. But SO SO SO Good. And well deserved (I think!)

Then we grabbed some more chicken so I could make fajitas for supper. I love travelling with a kitchen! Mountain Fajitas were a hit and I, once again, passed out for two hours. Woke up long enough to make dinner, and then…. fell asleep again while trying to make our plan for the next day!

We had planned a day for Alex to go mountain biking and for me to go to the SPA. The spa is actually one of my very favorite things. I say things because things don’t compare to memories and moments and experiences for me. But the spa ends up being a bit of both…. a spoiling me thing and an experience of relaxing and feeling pampered and special. When I was researching a spa in the Canmore/Banff area I found that there were two options, big resort spas with beautiful photos and hot tubs and lounge chairs, and smaller local businesses where you could get at least double the amount of services for the same price. Sometimes I opt for the crazy fancy spa, but I really wanted to have a calf massage (seriously hiking those mountains was killer on the calves) and my face and toes needed some love as well! I checked out Trip Advisor and then got in touch with Verde Day Spa in downtown Canmore to set up some appointments.

When I arrived at the downtown spa (they have another location at Sunshine Resort and operate two satellite locations as well) I walked in and was warmly greeted and offered water or tea. I sat down in the little waiting area and immediately noticed the natural hand sanitizer on the table in front of me. It was mint and tea tree, and smelled wonderful. Then I perused the wall of Eminence products. I had never seen or used the line before and I was opening up the lip balm and body cream and looked at Gail at the front desk and said “I could just eat these!” To which she replied “You actually could!” and continued to tell me about how the products are all so natural and organic that you could actually eat them if you wanted to (and may have admitted to trying a couple… but that they smell better than they taste!!!)

After 5 days of hiking my body was feeling the work so my half hour massage with Regan was more that wonderful. I only regretted not paying the extra to do an hour! Thankfully I was right when I hoped my pedicure would also include a little calf and foot massage, so my poor calfies got some love! She was able to quickly assess my needs and took no time getting to it (I understand when therapists have to take a while to make a treatment plan when they have a long term client they are setting up but that’s not usually what people need when they’re on vacation! The end of the massage included my head/neck being wrapped in a warm towel and being gently pulled up/back and I am telling you it was GENIUS! The little touches make such a big difference to me, rather than just washing your hands of it and loudly being told “we’re done” (yes its’ happened) taking a moment to do something that gently signals the service is coming to an end is awesome! Oh and little touches!! The wool (and possibly also memory foam??) massage table cover and memory foam pillow for under the feet and knees!!! seriously!!! ahhhhhhhh!!!

Philippa,  the Owner,  was the one who did my facial and pedicure and she took good care of me! She also was able to answer all the questions that I had about the products.

I stayed on the comfy bed (ok it’s a massage table but feels like a bed!!) and Phillipa and came in and massaged my face and facialed it up! Everything continued to feel and smell amazing! One of the masques in the facial and pedicure foot masque (Instead of something like paraffin) used things like Arctic Berries to eat up the dead cells…. very interesting how these natural products can do things that we have also created with chemicals. I was so relaxed that I don’t remember how many steps of treatment the facial had but my skin felt amazing. I have left facials totally relaxed before (I love having my face touched….is that weird?) but my skin being irritated and blotchy. That was not the case at Verde.

When I left I wanted to take multiple Canmore selfies because my skin looked and felt amazing but I had a very obvious case of “spa hair” (if you’ve had it…you know what I mean!)

My pedicure was also great, I enjoyed how much knowledge Philippa had about the products and though I didn’t retain it all, I know that she believes in it enough to have it be the only line that she uses in the spa for all of the services they offer (except Nail Polish because apparently organic polish just does not last long! So next best thing is a Collagen Free Polish like Artistic Colour Gloss). She also looks way younger than she is (and she is not old!) and says the Eminence products are all she uses. That was enough to sell me!

Honestly if budget wasn’t an issue right now I know would have invested in an entire “system” of Eminence Products. I did purchase the coconut firming body cream. It smells and feels so amazing I just couldn’t resist! and because there is no water added to the products you actually put them on with wet hands or wet skin, which is pretty cool. I also wanted to get the tinted mineral sunscreen powder they used at the end of my facial but they didn’t have any left in my color, but we are going to set that up!

It was SUCH A WONDERFUL DAY for me, and I wasn’t worn out from hiking but was so relaxing that I STILL ended up having a nap. We had supper in and watched as the clouds came over the mountains to create an AMAZING lightning storm! One of the most amazing I had ever seen, especially watching it roll over the mountains!

Ok I think this post is going to be way too long if I keep going! There are a couple of other hikes and meals I want to post about but I’ll share later!

The Adventure of Looking Back

The Adventure of Looking Back

Well it is way too early to be up on vacation in Banff  but I am WIDE awake. And this story needed to come out of my heart. I have said it before and I will say it again, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t always know the reason at the time, but it’s not something that I take lightly. It’s a perspective that helps me through the tough circumstances of life. I’m not saying I ALWAYS remember in the moment, but it’s pretty amazing when I look back.

Today we hiked a mountain (a blog post will be coming soon) but then in the evening we went into the town of Banff and I was hit with nostalgia like a tonne of bricks.

I moved to Banff when I was nineteen. My cousin Dave worked at the Banff Springs Hotel and I was in a relationship that was making it difficult for me to live my values. Problem was I was head over heals and no matter how much I tried, when I was close, I kept going back to it…so I moved across the country to live with my best friend. (The story of how we became so close with ten years between us is one for the books as well, but not the focus of this post, rabbit trails are something I always have to work against lol!) We lived in a basement apartment just off otter street. It was my first time living away from home and I learned SO much about myself.

Banff is where I learned that my faith had to be completely my own. That I had to be able to hear and feel what was right for me (all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial). I wasn’t perfect (who ever is) but I grew in a huge way. I had to read, and pray and decide things on my own without asking my friends who had grown up in church about their opinions. I had to hear and feel for myself.

I LEARNED TO LAUGH AT MYSELF. To not take things so seriously or be offended by everything. I could joke and take jokes. Let me tell you, this would become a VERY VERY valuable tool in my life when I met Alex. Actually it is helpful pretty much all of the time…. But I am fairly certain we never would have made it this far if I didn’t learn this! (If you have met Alex you will know that his teasing and “humour” can be unrelenting!)

I learned to stand up for myself and what it meant like to have a true friend, one that you could trust with your heart, and what it looked like to be in a friendship where both people looked at the others as equals and put the other person first. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend or roommate than my amazing cousin. I still want to grow to be more like him. I don’t know if I have ever met someone more caring and giving. The seed of confidence and what it is like to be truly cared for is something that changed the way that I looked at friendships, and helped me guard my heart as the years went on. Gosh I miss you Dave!!!!

Banff is where I got my first job in hospitality. I started hostessing at the Rundle Lounge, and moved into portering, serving, bartending, working banquets and being a little “cook” making appetizers and Fondues at the Grapes Wine Bar. I learned so many skills working at the Banff Springs hotel and met the most amazing people. The Rundle Lounge staff was small (unlike some restaurants where there were probably ten times as many people) and so we were pretty close. Even some who had been there a long time were amazing at welcoming those of us who were joining in or transient. Tosha – I am amazed at how you could love so well knowing so many would leave. That is a lesson that I need to constantly remember! Margarita – you taught me to take risks. Jer – well you are the one that taught me to laugh at myself. And realize how good it was to laugh so much in general!

It’s crazy how such a short time can make such an impact in your life!

I just remembered this thing that my friend Jer said to me in passing one day. “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” It’s amazing to look back and see what impact people have had in your life!

But outside of the nostalgia, here’s a couple of quick everything happens for a reason WOW remembrances.

When I got to Banff the start date for my job was pushed back, and I wanted to find some work in the meantime that would maybe let me continue part time when I started my job at the Banff Springs. Through the church I was going to I met Evie, who helped me to get connected with the Banff Camera Shop. Because I worked there I was able to get staff deals and switched to a newer camera, and got better lenses. Because I worked there, I was able to pursue my passion for photography, it was a step that pushed me closer to the end result of me becoming a photographer.

I (re) met Alex just weeks after I got home from Banff. After living in an outdoor adventure town his desire to be outside, working at an outdoor store and his interest in photography meant that I was drawn to him quickly.

It’s not for me to guess what would have happened if I didn’t live here, if I didn’t meet the people that I did. But I can look back and say that so many parts of being here have made me who I am today and I am so thankful to have been here, to be back here and to have the memories that I do (and to be making more now!)

So if you are wondering why things are happening in your life right now, I don’t have the answer, but in my own life I have come to learn there is a purpose in so much that we can’t always see at the time!

How We Travel. For Free. Canmore Here we Come!

How We Travel. For Free. Canmore Here we Come!

Did we win a vacation? Nope and it’s not because I am a blogger (though I am excited to have some really fun sponsored content to share while we are there!)

I was born into a house where I had entrepreneurs for parents, and one of them was also a CA. I grew up learning the value of money, how to save, how to find deals and keep track of spending.

I am by no means an accountant (we actually don’t even budget! And no I am not independently wealthy, we just usually only buy what we need and we tithe and trust God. Budgets really stress me out so we have found this way works better for us). I am also not a “professional” Travel Hacker (Yes…this is a thing….) but I have loved to explore, travel and adventure almost as long as I have been taking photographs. We needed to find a way to make travelling more feasible.

People ask us a lot how we get to travel so much. And the answer for that is pretty simple:

We decide to.

Yup. That’s the big secret.

You know the stuff I tout about living the life you really want? We try to do that as much as possible. And travelling FIRES US UP. It brings us joy, connects us as a couple and family and fuels things that we are passionate about. SO we choose not to buy new TV’s or the latest IPads. We don’t drink or smoke, and we don’t go out for fancy dinners or a lot of meals out in general. I don’t buy designer shoes, purses or watches. I would rather use money for travel experiences than stuff. And that is because these experiences are what we VALUE. This may not be the same for you, but if it is. You are the one who gets to choose where your disposable income goes, we make travel a priority.  We save what we can for travel, and we Travel Hack the rest. (And by we, I mean me!)

And yes, we both have jobs that are flexible, and our kids aren’t school age yet, so that certainly helps in how often we can get movin, but I think even those things are part of the way our life has been designed.

But you want to know how we got to go to Banff for free. So I will tell you my top three Travel Hacking tips for this trip. I will use a disclaimer that if credit card debt or over spending in general is a problem for you, then I would NOT recommend you try this at home. There are also a lot of online travel hacking resources, but doing this in Canada is not as easy in Canada, it iis certainly doable (hence our free trip to Banff!) but not as many options as in our neighbour USA.

How are we able to go to the Rockies and pay Nothing? Nadda? Zip Zilch?

Short Answer: POINTS

Long Answer: The DL on the how/where the points came from.

  1. TD Travel Visa Infinite. This has been my favorite credit card for YEARS. Every dollar you spend earns you points that get converted back into travel dollars. Once you have your points you just book your travel WHEREVER YOU WANT on your credit card. As in, on a website, through an airline or hotel. Once the charge goes on your card you just call and say “hey, I want to use points for that charge” and bingo bango bongo, it’s gone. Once you have the card you also have access to Expedia for TD, which gives you special deals and earns you extra points and you can redeem your points when booking through that site (so no charge ever hits your card). I got this card on a trial back when I did MUCHO travel hacking (had like 6 credit cards at a time) and they waived the annual fee. I now pay it annually but it is well worth it for me!
  2. WestJet RBC Mastercard. This card has an annual fee as well but it gives you a $99 companion ticket once a year. This means that you pay $99 (Plus taxes and fees) when you book a second flight for someone travelling with you. BONUS when you have the WestJet credit card you don’t pay for your first checked bag. Like, EVER. I love flying WestJet anyway but not having to pay to check your bag is a bonus and another way we saved money on the trip! (Try to minimize as I might, I cannot go for more than a few days with just a carry on!) We used our companion ticket for 2017 on this trip because I think it’s the only place we are flying to this year and it’s normally not a cheap flight so a good value to use it!
  3. Expedia+ points. There are lots of online booking tools and I have used many MANY of them but I in general stick to Expedia because I earn points with them. I can sometimes get points obsessed…but only when it comes to travel and groceries… so I have booked MANY flights and car rentals for family and friends through my expedia account to get the points. (I think if I lived in the USA I would end up being one of the Travel Hacking, coupon clipping money saving gurus, but I don’t go too crazy here!) These points have been saving for YEARS (yes years!) and in the end they got us three nights of condo style accommodations at resorts in Canmore, AB and Golden, BC.

We are also pretty lucky to have parents who gave us access to their timeshare, we paid for the booking and fees associated with the timeshare with our points a year ago when we booked it (timeshares you need to usually book way in advance!) sp this was a pretty sweet deal for us, and I know not one everyone has access to.

To REALLY make this work you  have to be willing to buy EVERYTHING you possibly can with your credit card. Yes I TAP for coffee, and I ask how much I can put on my credit card when we buy a new car. Every purchase is points! So like I said if overspending is a problem for you this may not be your best bet. (When I really look at it…I guess the trip really isn’t technically free, I couldn’t have gone if I hadn’t spent money, it is just money I would have spent somewhere anyway!)

I hope you’ll follow along our trip on Instagram and here on the blog, and that if travelling is something you love, that these tips may help you to get on your way!

Take a Look at What’s in Store – Awesome Life Retreat

Take a Look at What’s in Store – Awesome Life Retreat

Last year was the first Awesome Life Retreat. A group of 28 of us got together and shared experiences, laughs and learning.

I cannot get over how amazing the group was that came together, and the amazing people and companies that supported us.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the reasons behind why I started The Awesome Life Retreat you can check it out here.

I am going to give a full list of credits below but I amazingly thankful and in awe of all of the amazing contributors. It was amazing to step out and do something that I really felt we needed in our area, and that my heart was just wanting to pour into, and have it so well attended and supported locally! It’s a scary thing to move forward and do something new, but so worth it in the end!

2016’s retreat was held at Windhorse Farm on a beautiful April weekend. In fact we could not have imagined better weather to explore the beautiful trails and property and explore our hearts through learning!

This year we simplified and upgraded! This year’s retreat will be at Oceanstone and their kitchen staff will be handling almost all of the food as well as handling the coffee (Which for the coffee drinkers is a very very good thing!)  I wanted to be able to ENJOY the retreat with my amazing attendees and be present and not running around organizing food and setting things up and tearing them down and doing dishes. This place is simply amazing and I am in love with the venue and the people!

If you don’t know what to expect from the retreat and are on the fence, check out the photos below (taken by the Amazing Brittany of Hind Hart Studios! THANK YOU!!) and though this year will be different, it will give you a good idea of our vibe!

You can check out our tentative itinerary here (with just a few more details to firm up next week!) :

Awesome Life Retreat – Oceanstone Seaside Resort, Spring 2017


I wanted to  make sure to thank LAST YEARS contributors (Check out the link above for who will be a part of this year’s line up!) But below is a list of those who contributed to our first retreat!

Meals + Desserts Provided by :

EnVie – a Vegan Kitchen, Layers Cupcakes, Weagles Bakery, Kitchen Door Catering, Mike Crosby, Freshii Burnside, and MOI 🙂 (that’s a fancy way of saying me)

Amazing Speakers/Workshop Contributors :

Dr. Adrianna Wilson – Inspired Living Medical, Angela Van de Reit –  Life Coach- Engaged LivingMeghan Osborne – Awesome Woman & Arbonne Representative, Rebecca Dimock – Paper Chain, Lisa MacPherson – Scribbles and Script. Stephanie Kincade – Abundant Path Wellness.

We also had giveaways from :

Duly Noted, Paper Chain, Scribbles and Script, Harper & Honey, Halifax Cookie Cravings, Shauna Carter – Mary Kay consultant, This is Boudoir, This is Photography, Lure Chocolates, Abundant Path Wellness and all of our amazing speakers. Decor help from the Wedding Vogue and special shout out to Jenn and Emily for help the weekend of!