Dose of Awesome # 269

If we fast-forward 24 hours, I’d flown from Reykjavik to Montréal (7 hours, plus a 5 hour layover in Boston), slept 4 hours in a Dorval hotel, and endured the excruciatingly early 5 hour flight from Montréal to New Orleans, Louisiana. Just before leaving for Iceland, my boyfriend and I had decided to spend a week together in the south. After finding an unbeatable deal on Expedia, we decided to spend it in New Orleans.

But the first thing I had to do upon arrival was deal with a minor case of jetlag. Mixed with severe lack of sleep and the shock of going from Iceland’s dry, crisp nordic climate to the stifling humidity of America’s south, the 5 hour time difference seemed a thousand times greater, and I knew I wouldn’t make it very long. So, after a late lunch of po’ boys at a shop near our hotel, I enjoyed an epic nap. In the meantime, my boyfriend was busy on Google planning a surprise evening for the two of us out in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Five hours later, rested and freshly showered, I joined him in the lounge of our hotel where we commenced our evening out with a cocktail. The rest of our surprise evening out consisted of a walk down Bourbon Street with a stop and another cocktail at the Old Absinthe House, a walk along the Mississippi River, dinner at the Crescent City Brewhouse, dueling pianos and “hurricanes” at Pat O’Brien’s piano bar, and a live jazz performance at the Jazz Preservation Hall.

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Our second day in New Orleans took us for much-needed haircuts, followed by some shopping. Our first order of shopping business: shorts. We both expected New Orleans to be hot, but, living in Canada’s north, neither of us were even remotely prepared for this level of heat.

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We spent the rest of our day souvenir shopping and walking through Jackson Square before dinner at the highly recommended and extremely popular Red Fish Grill.

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Day three consisted of a 3 hour demonstration class on how to cook authentic jambalaya, gumbo soup, bread pudding and pralines at the New Orleans School of Cooking, and an afternoon at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

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On our fourth day, we went on a cruise along the Mississippi River on the Steamboat Natchez (complete with lunch and live jazz), and escaped the heat for the afternoon with a visit to the Voodoo Museum and the Museum of Southern Food and Beverages. In the evening, we met up with an old friend at Café du Monde for coffee and beignets.

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A slight change of plans on our last day had us enjoying an airboat ride on the bayou (we were supposed to kayak, but this was cancelled on account of the heat). Though initially disappointed, we were grateful not only for a last-minute spot on an airboat, but also for a bit of wind as we propelled through the bayou. We even got to hold a baby alligator.

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By the time we boarded the shuttle back to the airport for our flight home, we really felt like we’d made the most of our time in New Orleans.

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Dose of Awesome # 236

I went snowshoeing this afternoon with some friends. It was -33 degrees Celsius with windchill (and winds blowing at least 50 km/hour). We managed, most of the time, to be hiking away from the wind. However, we couldn’t avoid walking into the wind for ever.

1. Awesome was the moment, after 30 minutes of hiking blind, that my glasses unfrosted – revealing a world in which I would no longer trip over my own two feet every third step; in which I was no longer forced to move in slow motion, and could hike at a normal pace. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful 3 hours of snowshoeing.

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2. Awesome are spontaneous funny theme nights with my boyfriend. Like meatloaf and Meatloaf.

3. Awesome is a lucky streak. I’m not one to buy lottery tickets or play BINGO. I never go to casinos, nor do I really gamble in any other way. On the rare occasion that I do, however, purchase raffle tickets or enter my name into a draw of some sort, I never win. However, this week I did. Four times – three 50$ gift certificates (one for the restaurant and 2 for the local art store), and a card with a 50$ bill inside. Perhaps I should try my luck more often.

Dose of Awesome # 229

A month and a half. A new record.

I’ve been missing my blog. I’ve been missing the pleasure of writing over a cup of coffee while soaking under the rays of my happy lamp. Note to self: try harder to take the time to do this.

1. Awesome was turning my longing for my own fun little hobby into a great little project for my students.

The other day, I spotted a children’s story about the 100th day of school on a library shelf. I took it to read to my students sometime during the week, feeling both surprised and bad that I’d entirely forgotten to keep track of the days of school with them (a 100th day of school celebration is something I’d done every year since I started teaching).

After reading the story to them, we decided to count the days of school that we’ve had so far, and continue counting from there. And like the characters in the story, we decided to start a collection of 100 things – 100 AWESOME things.

We started this project during yesterday’s Personal Social Development (PSD) class – a class I am using currently to teach them about the power of positive thinking. I told my students about my own personal mission awesome, and then asked them to each write 1 or 2 sentences about things that are awesome in their own lives (some wrote 4 to 6!). Then, I typed them up, printed them off and mounted them on coloured paper on our classroom door.

We’re not yet halfway near 100, but we have a great start! I will post a photo when it’s done.

2. Awesome was receiving my new parka yesterday after school – my parka which Canada Post told me was still in Montréal, and not due to arrive in Kuujjuaq until February 6th! To top things off, it’s perfect!

Parka

3. Awesome was baking bannock with my students Monday afternoon.

4. Awesome were a number of evenings with friends since I’ve returned from Christmas vacation – from poker and board games nights, to girl’s nights, to dinner parties and nights out at the lounge, it’s been kind of nonstop, just like it was when I first arrived in Kuujjuaq.

5. Awesome is how much fun my boyfriend and I have when we cook together :). And now I know how to make crêpes!

6. Awesome was an amazing New Year’s vacation in Toronto together – during which we:
-Spent an entire morning at the Royal Ontario Museum
-Spent another at the Art Gallery of Ontarion
-And another at the Hockey Hall of Fame
-Shopped in the Kensington Market
-And the St. Lawrence Market
-And Chinatown
-Went on a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery (and got free beer!)
-Ate authentic Chinese food
-And Greek
-And all-you-can-eat Japanese
-Saw a production of Evil Dead: The Musical
-Went to Allen Gardens
-Partied with my friend Alex and her friends on New Year’s Eve
-Saw my bro Anthony
-Stayed in a beautiful hotel in the centre of the city (with a free upgrade to the suite with a fireplace!)

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Us at Hurley’s Irish Pub in Montréal the night before taking the train to Toronto for vacation (one of the few photos I took the entire trip. Haha).

7. Awesome was the fact that, despite the facts that neither of us have ever really traveled with anybody in a long time, and it was our first time traveling together, this was one of the most stress-free trips I’ve ever taken. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect vacation with somebody.

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 223

Well it’s about time I sit down and scrounge up the awesome of the past two weeks.

1. Awesome was a fantastic sushi dinner party with lots of friends at my house last night, as well as dinner with friends Thursday night, and last Saturday night, as well as a brunch potluck with friends two weekends ago. I think I’ve eaten more meals with friends these past few weeks than I have alone.

2. Awesome was a Friday evening of board games and tonnes of laughs with friends.

3. Awesome was an afternoon of berry picking out on the land with all of the elementary students on Friday afternoon. With the sun shining for the first time in forever, it was the perfect way to top off a busy week of school, meetings and training.

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4. Awesome was the opportunity to attend an extremely informative two-day training session about the effect of trauma on the brain, and the need for compassionate schooling. The training really put a lot of things into perspective and, done well, I can see the implementation of a compassionate approach to education being quite effective.

5. Awesome was, after months of anticipation, receiving my beautiful pair of custom-made seal skin kamik, sewn by Annie Kauki from Tasiujaq. Nakurmiimarialuk! 

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6. Awesome was a girl’s night – complete with delicious food, nail polish.

7. Awesome was celebrating my 3-year quitting smoking anniversary (on September 20th)!

8. Awesome was a night out on the town with friends last Friday evening.

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 215

Life has been nonstop busy. I had a lot of things planned this week, what with new teacher orientation, Aqpik Jam and just general moving to a new place activities. When I wasn’t off doing those things, I’ve been home, with just enough time to put my feet up before I get called off to do something else. It’s been amazingly awesome and tonnes of fun – exactly the change I needed!

1. Awesome was entertaining friends for the first time in my new home on Friday night. We all gathered together to have a spring roll making dinner party and have fruit with chocolate fondu.

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2. Awesome was spending the afternoon with friends from Tasiujaq on Friday. We had coffee and ran some errands, then I gave them a scenic tour of Kuujjuaq which included a drive up to the top of the “lookoff”, to the marina and to the lake.

Kuujjuaq 18Tatyana and I at the “lookoff”.

Kuujjuaq 19Inukshuk over Kuujjuaq.

Kuujjuaq 20Me at the marina.

Kuujjuaq 21Me picking berries at the lake. 

3. Awesome was a moment of “air clearing”, and the time that followed.

4. Awesome was another night out with friends, and meeting new friends. Life here reminds me a lot of life in Dawson City, only significantly less wild and transient. Part of the reason I chose to move here was for the social opportunities, but so far, the opportunities to be social are far more excessive than I ever dreamed of. I know that things will calm down now that new teacher orientation and Aqpik Jam are over, but I also know that they won’t go away completely. I have a feeling that some good memories are in store for me in Kuujjuaq.

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 192

1. Awesome was cooking for today’s hike – whole wheat bow tie pasta with red kidney beans, sharp cheddar cheese, red pepper, mushroom, arugula, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot and zucchini, with roasted red pepper and parmesan vinaigrette.

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2. Awesome was realizing, again, that I can do more than I think I can at the gym. I’ve begun to supplement my stair climber challenge with 10 minutes of rowing, 3 times a week (it’s my way of incorporating upper body strength training into my workout while staying away from the weight machines because, frankly, they don’t inspire me). The first time I did it, I rowed just over 2000 metres in 10 minutes; the second, just over 2150. Yesterday, I rowed 2330.

3. Awesome was another person’s openness, and the possibilities that come with it.

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 149

1. Awesome was a long hike on the land yesterday, and choosing a hiking route that took me right along the caribou migration path. Even more awesome was the fact that I stopped to eat my lunch just as a few caribou happened to be migrating! Also awesome was a new wildlife sighting – an arctic hare.

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2. Awesome was an afternoon making suvalik with friends (for those who are new to my blog, suvalik is an Inuit fruit salad made with berries and cut up fruit, suvaq (fish eggs) and oil (traditionally misirak – aged seal fat). To make suvalik, you first smush up the suvaq  with your hands until they are all separated. Then you add the oil or misirak a bit at a time, mixing it rapidly with your hands. As you mix, the suvaq grow and the mixture becomes light and fluffy. When you are finished, you add the berries and fruit and mix it all together. Partially frozen fruit is best.

It’s by far not the healthiest thing I’ve eaten, but it’s fun to make, a good way to bring people together, and an interesting culinary experience from time-to-time.

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3. Awesome was learning that a surprise had reached its destination, and had served its purpose well.