Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday's Top Five - Guilty Pleasures

Whether you're willing to admit to it or not, we all have our own dirty little secrets. Here are the top five I'm willing to discuss online.


Friday's Top Five - Guilty Pleasures:

5. World Wrestling Entertainment

Admittedly, I haven't actually watched wrestling since the year 2000, but my ears still perk up when I hear mention of Road Dogg  or Jake "The Snake" Roberts.




I never was a wrestling fan for the sport aspect of it; for me it was all about entertainment. As in, this was my soap opera, and I watched it for the story lines.

Who doesn't love a riveting tale of good vs. evil... especially when it involves chivalrous (yet bad-assed) hard-bodied men in spandex?? (It sounds ridiculous, I know!)

Even though it's been over a decade since I last watched a match, I still scan the wrestling gossip section of the Edmonton Sun each week... and, yes, I do feel a little weird doing it.

But that's why it's considered a guilty pleasure, right??


4. Nutella and peanut butter

I have a love-hate relationship with food and will try anything at least once. But this is one decadent treat that I've sampled over and over and over (and over) because it's so yummy.

You take a spoonful of Nutella and place it in a bowl. Then you take a spoonful of peanut butter and place it in the same bowl.

And then you sit back and indulge.



I try to trick myself into thinking this is a semi-healthy way of eating Nutella and peanut butter, simply because I've eliminated the carbs found in bread..... but who are we kidding here? This is the definition of sinful.

Even my husband, who has the sweetest sweet tooth of anyone I know (think: Will Ferrell in Elf) seriously frowns upon this treat of mine.

And I'm sure he'll now be even more horrified to know I've revealed this secret online.


3. Bargain hunting

I refuse to pay full price for items unless absolutely necessary.

If Canadian stores allowed for coupon stacking and "Double Coupon Days", then I would totally quit my job and become an Extreme Couponer.



I have to be honest, though. I actually HATE using coupons.

It's a pain to search them out and organize them... and don't even get me started on the anxiety I feel each time I go to the checkout and feverishly watch the clerk as she scans my items and coupons, living in fear that something might go amiss.

But I do it because it saves us money. Full stop.

(As an aside, I'm sure these clerks are dreading the day I qualify for a senior discount... because, by God, I will insist upon it every time!)


2. Extreme AirMiling

Similar to the above, collecting AirMiles can also be a real pain in the butt.

But, again, I do it because it saves us money.

More specifically, I do it because it's allowed us to fly virtually for free for the last eight years.

And THAT, my darlings, is indeed one of my greatest pleasures.





1. Real Housewives

I've mentioned it on here before, and it's worth repeating: I'm a Real Housewives junkie.

There have been multiple spinoffs of this reality series in various cities (Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New York, Washington DC, Vancouver), but the only ones I pay attention to are the Real Housewives of Orange County and the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

The OC girls make me want to improve my life (in the same what that watching GI: Jane with Demi Moore makes me want to get fit).

And, frankly, the Jersey girls just remind me of my own Italian family. (You know, minus the millions of dollars that is!)



Admittedly, I've only been able to catch a handful of episodes on TV this year.... but that's why they now have episode summaries online.

Ha, yes, even if I can't tune it, I can still get caught up on their goings-on and hopefully still live a little vicariously through these spoiled delightful millionaire ladies.

Gotta love it!



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All right, that's it for this week. Head on over to see what Divulge with Dani and (potentially) Juice with Junior have come up with as well.






Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cruise control

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain - 

In May of last year, I chronicled the ins and outs of taking our baby with us on a Caribbean cruise, and I also vowed that we would do it again as she got older.

Well, she's older, and we did indeed do it again.



Last month we embarked on another cruising adventure and, let me tell you, it was INFINITELY easier this time around now that she's a toddler.

Our daughter is only two years old, but she's already been to 10 countries, traveled on 2 cruise ships, and taken 13 flights.

What a stark contrast from me; I didn't go on my first flight until I was 23 years old and paid my own way on a family vacation to Disneyland.

In the last eight years, though, I've more than made up for lost time, having visited the following destinations:
     
Mexico            Antigua                    Honduras                      
Bahamas        St. Kitts                    Belize
Puerto Rico    St. Lucia                  Turks and Caicos
Barbados       US Virgin Islands      Dominican Republic
Aruba             Dominica                  Cayman Islands
Curacao         Florida Keys

Never had I dreamed that I would be visiting so many tropical locales on a semi-regular basis, but it's all thanks to cruising.

Once upon a time, I thought cruise ship vacations were only for the rich and well-to-do, but we're living proof that this is simply not true.

Sure, cruising is not necessarily for everyone, and of course it has it's downsides as well. But, for the time being, our cruise vacations have been a wonderful blessing for our family and have allowed us to visit destinations we otherwise could never afford.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Regal - A Canadian Tradition



Half-price shipping at Regal until Oct 29! Woot!!

If you live in Canada, Regal will deliver your purchases right to your door for only $2.50.

Please check out my site below.

http://jmcgowan.shopregal.ca

Many thanks -- and happy shopping!!




Monday, October 15, 2012

You like me! You really like me!

Okay, maybe it's just Sonya from Swashbuckler's Tales who likes me, given that she's nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award!

Many thanks, Sonya! You flatter me.


Without further adieu, here are my Top 3 nominees for said award:

Divulge With Dani - a humorous blog filled life stories and personal reflections

De Facto Redhead - witty blog about fashion, food, family, and thrifty finds

Juice With Junior - cleverly written and undeniably funny blog about his life and daily musings


And now, seven random things about me:

1. When I was three, I fell out of a moving vehicle being driven by my brother, and he ran over my arm.

2. I have a girl-crush on Robin Meade.

3. It wasn't until I was 17 and in university that I learned the proper pronunciation of infrared. And I still to this day have trouble with cojones when I see it in print. Ahem.

4. If there's one punctuation mark I tend to overuse, it's my beloved comma.

5. I'm a morning person through and through.... unless it's a morning where I have to go in to work.

6. My beverage of choice is, and always will be, water.

7. I'm a newspaper-reading junkie, and my day isn't complete unless I've read both local papers.


There you have it -- seven things about me that you've never asked about, yet I felt compelled to share anyway.

Check out the other blogs, as they're all excellent reads!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday's Top Five - Vacation Destinations

As I write this, I’m en route to Houston with my family where we’ll then move on to Ft. Lauderdale and visit with my sister’s family before eventually boarding a luxury cruise ship and sailing the Caribbean. Shortly after our adventure ends, Divulge with Dani will embark on her own vacation with her husband. So, given that we’ve each got travelling on the mind, we present to you this week’s Top Five.



Friday’s Top Five – Vacation Destinations*


* I have intentionally excluded any locations in Alberta (where I’m from) and New York (where my husband is from). Just tryin’ to not play favourites, y’all.


5) Southern California

Yes, it’s hot and crowded there, but it sure is fun to visit. While I’m not a big fan of L.A., it is something everyone should see once. (Read: Mann’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood sign, etc.) The bigger draw for me is Disneyland/California Adventure in Anaheim and, of course, the San Diego area further down the coast. If you’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean before, then this is a beautiful place to start.

In a word? SoCal is breathtaking.

[And, as an added bonus, for those looking for a bit of adventure, San Diego is directly across the border from Tijuana, Mexico. Word to the wise: this ain’t no classy Mexican resort, yo. But it is a place I’ve dared to visit twice, and I mercifully made it out alive and can cross it off my bucket list.]





4) Washington, D.C. and area

I’ve been to over half of the US states, and Washington, D.C. is certainly one area in the US that I’d like to visit again. The time I spent there just wasn’t long enough, and so I’d like to do some more exploring.

The beauty of DC is that it borders multiple states so, on any given day, you can visit several places in a matter of hours. And, while there exists a multitude of national monuments and museums along the National Mall, my favourite place is Arlington National Cemetery. (Yeah, I’m one of those geeks who visits cemeteries while on vacation.)

For me, though, the best part of DC is that it is this highly important megacity, home to the White House and the Pentagon, and yet there are no skyscrapers. The city has intentionally passed a law that states no infrastructure can be taller than or mask the beauty of its national monuments. Finally – a city with its priorities in line!

Others can rave about New York or Los Angeles, but my major city of choice is Washington, D.C. Though I could never live there -- simply because the traffic alone would drive me batty -- it truly is a beautiful, vibrant, historic city that everyone should get to encounter at least once.





3) Grand Canyon

This place sure didn’t get its name for being mediocre. Rather, the term “Grand” is a bit of an understatement as it certainly doesn’t do the area justice.

On my first visit to the Grand Canyon, our Contiki tour guide insisted we all line up blindfolded so we could be lead to the South Rim viewpoint and see it all at once, rather than gradually viewing the sites as we walked up. When we all removed our blindfolds, the view in front of us was stunning and overwhelming and, frankly, almost looked a little fake because it was so surreal. I kept thinking it almost looked as though the background was superimposed into the Arizona wilderness.

On that trip, Divulge with Dani and I were lucky enough to take a helicopter ride over the canyon, which, as you’d expect, was an absolute thrill. I left there thinking that this was a place I definitely wanted to return to in the future – and, luckily enough, I had that chance earlier this year with my mom, husband, daughter, and sister-in-law. After years of raving about this place to my family, I finally got to see their expressions as they, too, slowly approached the viewpoint of the incredible South Rim.





2) Penticton, B.C.

The first time I visited Penticton was with my brother’s family at age 11. I remember when we first crossed the border into British Columbia and just being in awe of the sheer natural beauty of the Rockies. The sights, of course, became even more spectacular as we proceeded further into BC and finally reached the Okanagan valley – a stunning oasis that reminds me of Southern California, but without all the excessive traffic and smog.

And while I have family throughout BC (Kamloops, Kelowna, and Vancouver), my favourite place remains Penticton. It is the quintessential summer playground for western Canadians, as there is no greater way to spend a hot afternoon than floating down the Skaha Lake canal that links it to the Okanagan.

Shortly after our wedding, I finally brought my husband out there for a week of fun. And his response to the sights and sounds of Penticton?

“I wish your family had settled here instead of Edmonton.”

‘Nuff said.





1) The Caribbean

It’s no secret that I come from a family that’s addicted to cruising. And, given that I’m writing this en route to the Caribbean Sea, how could I not choose the Caribbean as my favourite vacation destination??

I’ve almost seen it all -- from the Florida Keys to the coast of Venezuela and everywhere in between, the Caribbean is a sight to behold. It’s hot and humid, and my hair always frizzes to unspeakable standards (think: Monica on Friends), and yet I still come back.

The frozen north feels worlds away, and it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just enjoy being on Island Time.

Hopefully the picture alone says it all.




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That's it for this week. Head on over to see what Divulge with Dani and (potentially) Juice with Junior have come up with as well.