• Life

    6 Things I’ve Learned

    It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted. My last post got quite a bit of attention, and not all of it was good. Let’s just say that if you post something on facebook, and tell people if they disagree to move along, the same does not apply for if people share your post. I got a few rude and hateful comments, but they were from people that I expected them to come from, so no real surprise there. I also got a lot of very kind words, from many unexpected sources.

    That’s not why I haven’t written anything in ages. Honestly, I just haven’t felt like it. I don’t make money from this blog, so if I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. I have a lot of posts that will never be posted publicly, just because it was a nice place to write down my thoughts.

    This morning, however, I was thinking about all the things I’ve learned over the last year. Covid has taught me a plethora of things, so I thought I’d share a few tidbits of wisdom I’ve picked up.

    1. Facebook Friendship does not equate real life friendship.

    You do not have to be facebook friends with everyone you know. You don’t even need to be facebook friends with your actual friends. It’s not a requirement. If your mental health is effected by the memes, attitudes, or constant arguing of someone facebook, you can unfriend them. It really doesn’t matter.

    2. Narrowing down your Facebook friends is good for your mental health.

    I started doing this when people started being like “Support health heroes!” but then also “NO MASKS!” I felt like it was a huge stab in the back to healthcare workers like myself, who know and understand science is fluid and ever changing.

    Several years ago I was part of an online MLM and it basically taught me to friend everyone I could, and try to sell to them. Though I friended a lot of people, I never really ever cold messaged anyone (thank god), but I ended up with a LOT of people on my facebook that I didn’t know at all. That was drilled into me so hard, that I never really thought anything of it. Until this past year with Covid and Trump and I basically just didn’t want to hear it anymore.

    A coworker of mine told me that she always checks out the birthday reminders that you get on your notifications, and if she doesn’t know them or want them on her FB, she deletes them. I’ve been doing this ever since and it’s been great. I did not realize how many people I had on there that I would never have a conversation with in real life, so why on earth were they on there to see my personal photos? Crazy what we are taught to think sometimes isn’t it?

    3. I will ALWAYS stand up for retail workers.

    The most under appreciated people on this planet are retail workers. They take a lot of absolute shit off of people, and they can’t say anything back, for fear they may lose their livelyhood. I will die on that hill. Happily. A retail worker does not have ANY say in provincial mandates, nor store rules. So if the store has a rule that you have to wear pants while you’re shopping, don’t stand there and scream at them that it’s your RIGHT to not wear them. No matter how fierce you are, it’s not going to change the fact that that person is likely making minimum wage and has no sway over the CEO of the company. I watched a woman try to rip a man a new one at Indigo in Saint John, and he handled her very well. I also saw other random people back him up and tell him he did a good job. Thankfully, there are still good people in the world.

    4. You do not have to be Facebook friends with your family.

    This is a big one. If your family members are being rude, critical, or just awful, or if you just can’t stand their posts, you CAN unfriend them. If they actually cared about you and what you were up to in real life, they’d get in contact with you. I’ve got cousins I haven’t seen or spoken to since I was 5, and they were mean to me then…do you suppose I’m still friends with them on Social Media? Nope.

    5. Some people don’t care about the truth, facts, or science.

    They care more about their own narrative. I had an interaction with someone on social media several months ago where they were posting misinformation about masks. I decided to kindly post a little bit of scientific information to their comments. This was not received well. I was told that if I disagreed with them to move along. So I did. Unfriend. Delete. Bye. The fun thing about these people though is that if THEY disagree with MY post, they always make their way into my comments to spew their conspiracy BS, instead of taking their own advice and moving along. Funny how that works isn’t it?

    6. This last year has shown the true colours of many people.

    You can tell a lot about a person by they way they treat their waiter/waitress. Same goes for how they treat the cashier, the person at the front door making sure masks are worn, the people stocking shelves, the barista, etc. This ties into number 3 a little. Rest assured, I am going to remember the ones who treated others like shit, the ones who blatantly did not care about the vulnerable. I won’t treat you any differently, but I will remember.

    The moral of this whole story is, protect your mental health. Help protect other people. All of that.

    Well, that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll post more, maybe I won’t.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Life

    Christians & Covid

    Maybe if I get this out of my head and into writing, I’ll be able to understand it better. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I’m sure someone will give me a piece of their mind since this seems to be a hot topic. I’m also sure that this post will make a few people angry. If it does, maybe you should check your heart and motives. Just an FYI, any rotten or nasty comments will be deleted.

    It’s not really a secret that I’m a Christian. If you ask me I’ll tell you. If you don’t agree with me, I’m alright with that. I have a deep faith that has vastly changed over my life. When I was a teen/young adult, I served within the church. I helped in any way that I could. But as I grew older, I saw the corruption and the horrible side of things that I didn’t udnerstand or see when I was younger. I left after Harper was born. Do I still keep my faith? Absolutely.

    Am I against the church? Kind of, but not entirely. However, that’s a whole other subject, honestly.

    What I am 100% for is Christians living the way that they’re supposed to live. Like Christ. Isn’t that the whole point?

    If I’m wondering about my stance on a certain topic, I try and imagine what Jesus might have through. How would he have reacted?

    I’m no Bible scholar, but the only time I can recall Jesus reacting in anger towards something was toward the Pharisees in the temple selling things for profit and turning a place of prayer into a place of greed. He was mad. He flipped tables. Otherwise, he always acted with love and compassion. Towards people who were not perfect. Towards the weak. The helpless. The sick. The needy.

    Nowadays, Christians seem to cherry pick scriptures and use them to justify their actions. To justify hatred towards others. To justify their own choice of sin as better than someone else’s. To justify turning a blind eye to the people around them.

    (I should stop here and say that I know not all Christians are like this. I know many who would literally give you the shirts off their backs and then ask if you needed anything else. They are the most kind and caring people in the world and emulate Jesus to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, the only time Christians ever make headlines is when they’re doing something horrible, not representing Jesus. They do not represent ALL Christians).

    One piece of scripture really stands out to me. It’s when Jesus is doing his last bit of teaching before the passover meal and then heading to Gethsemane to be betrayed by Judas and sent to the cross to die. It’s one of His last teachings before He dies. It’s the parable of the sheep and goats. Matthew 25:31-46. (No, the irony that everyone calls mask wearers sheep is not lost on me). I’ll give the summary for anyone who doesn’t know the story.

    He basically says that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who fed Him when He was hungry, gave Him a drink when He was thirsty, gave Him a room when He was homeless, gave Him clothes when He was cold, visited Him when He was sick, and visited Him in prison. When the people said they couldn’t recall ever doing those things for Him, He said that whenever you did these things for someone who was overlooked or ignored (or the least of these), that you did it for Him.

    So what I really cannot understand is:

    How can a Christian refuse to wear a mask?

    How can someone who professes their desire to act like Jesus refuse to wear a mask on the grounds that the government is making them wear a mark of the devil, (or any grounds at all for that matter) when there are people close to them who are depending on them to help control the spread of dieseas?

    Think you don’t know anyone who is at risk? Think again. That person two doors down who is going through chemotherapy and fighting for their lives? They need you. The kid who was born prematurely? They need you. The guy from church who had a heart attack last year? They need you. The lady whose business just barely survived lockdown? She can barely feed her family and she needs you!

    How can Christians fall for ridiculous conspiracy theories? Would people really rather believe that this is all a hoax or a government plot to track or control people than to believe the only thing to be done to help is their own responsibility?

    I feel like I should slip a little bit of Romans 13:1 in here, where it says to obey your governing authorities because there is no authority other than god and those that exist were put there by God.

    What should Christians be doing?

    Well, like I said, I’m no Bible scholar, or pastor, or anyone of authority, this is just my opinion, but by the sounds of it, we should be picking up groveries for those at risk. We should be making a meal for someone who is now out of work. We should help tutor a kid whose parent is struggling with distance learning. We should be wearing a face mask and washing our hands and helping in any way we can.

    Why? Because that’s what the Jesus that I know and love would be doing.

    That’s what the world needs so badly right now.

  • DIY

    Doorstep Facelift

    I can’t seem to find a good before photo of the doorstep, so sorry for that.

    To start with, I thought I’d pressure wash the old stain off of it, but that didn’t really work. It didn’t take much of the paint off, and it splintered the wood in some places.

    So, I used a sander instead. It took me a really long time to do, and in the end, Casey helped me with a good chunk of it. I found it painful on my hands and fingers to use the sander for long periods of time. I started out with a finer sanding paper but realized that it would be more effective to have a more coarse one so I bought some of that. It made things quite a bit easier.

    Next I stained the boards. I found a stain I liked and actually did it right last time. In case you were wondering, I painted the steps myself last time too, and I didn’t know how to use a stain, so I ended up just straight up painting the stain on. The results this time were much better.

    Next I painted the vertical boards white. It took 3 or 4 coats to make them look good. I replaced some of the decor I had on there before, but decided that it looked a bit too cluttered.

    The final product, though I might add some more bouys, and maybe next year a nice fern or something. I couldn’t get my hands on one this year.

  • Health & Fitness

    Diet Culture and Our Kids

    Our kids hear everything we say. Especially if we’re not talking to them (seriously, they’ll hear that escaped curse word, but not you telling them to go brush their teeth). The way we talk to and around our kids matters. Your kids hear the way you speak about yourself, your body, and other people.

    I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you’ve dealt with diet culture you’re whole adult (and teen) life. That you have been unsatisfied with the way your body looks, for one reason or another. Unfortunately, the media helps less now than it did when it was just tv and magazine articles that we had to worry about. I honestly remember seeing Brittany Spears on magazines as a teen and wondering why on earth my body didn’t look like hers. (UM, genetics, extreme dieting, posing, and photoshop). Why did I feel that it was something wrong with ME?

    Now, kids, teens, and adults are all seeing a constant barrage of social media. Legit, like 6-8 hours of it a day!!! I’m guilty of having super high screen times, just like the next person. We see snapshots of the absolute perfect parts of peoples lives, that are staged and modified to look even better, when in reality, what is out side of where the shot reaches might be the exact opposite. This model on Instagram apparently used this product to shed her body fat! This one wrapped herself in plastic. This one promotes 1200 calories per day!

    What does this have to do with our kids?

    We are the adults in the relationship with our kids. Yes, that had to be said. WE HAVE TO BE THE END OF THIS DIET BULL CRAP. Grown adults are falling for diet culture again and again and continuing to worsen their relationship with food, their self esteem, and lightening their wallet all at the same time as not actually seeing any results. Skinny tea that’ll make you lose 10 lbs in a week? Sure it will. Any diarrhea tea will do that for you.

    We have got to stop doing this crap. I’m talking about ALL OF IT. Juice cleanses. Detox drinks. Extremely restrictive diets. Punishing ourselves with endless hours of cardio because we ate something ‘bad’. Buying dehydrated food that you have to add water to and only eat their foods. Eliminating food groups. Saying that fruit is bad because it has sugar in it. Paying a company to use their points system so that you don’t have to think about calories.

    All the while, we’re dropping bombs at home like:

    “Sugar is SO bad for you.” (It can be, but there is much more to it than that).

    “Ugh, I’m SO fat.” (This makes me sad because it was me).

    “I’ve been so bad. I ate ______ all weekend. Now I’ve got to be good.” (FOOD IS NOT ATTACHED TO MORALITY!!!!!! But I think that’ll be a whole other post).

    “I’m going to detox my liver with ______”. (I hate to tell you this, but your liver doesn’t need you to buy that supplement. It’s literal JOB is to detoxify your body. If it can’t do that, then you need a liver transplant, not the supplement from Instagram).

    “I’m not eating carbs anymore, they make you fat.” (This one KILLS me).

    “I can’t wear that, I’m too fat, I look like a whale.” (This makes me sad too, because it was me, and still is a little but NOT out loud).

    “She shouldn’t be wearing that, she’s too big.” (UGH!!!!).

    “I’m such a failure. So and so did so well on that diet, and I can’t even lose 5 lbs!” (Cool but did so and so have a social life? Do they have the same time and life restrictions as you? Comparison is toxic).

    “Having my child ruined my body.” (Again, sad face. Your body was made for bringing your beautiful child into the world, it wasn’t made to look like an airbrushed model. Bodies were made to LIVE in. AND if you’re saying this around your child, what message does that send??).

    “I can’t wear shorts, I have too much cellulite.” (90% of women have cellulite. But the women we see on social media don’t….weird…it’s almost like IT WAS AIRBRUSHED OFF AND THEY DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE!!).

    “I can’t lift weights, I don’t want to get bulky.” (Smashes forehead on table).


    Our kids are going to face a world where the diet companies are not held accountable for their actions (uh hello to the pregnant IG model promoting diarrhea tea…thankfully that one was actually taken down). A world where it’s OUT OF THE NORM to show a NORMAL BODY. A world that is constantly throwing images of perfection (which isn’t real), in their faces. The least we could do for them is to give them a solid foundation at home. Where normal bodies are celebrated for doing the things they’re supposed to do. Where we eat mostly real foods but also know how to make a rockin’ s’more. Where food doesn’t make you good or bad.

    Did you know that girls as young as age 8 are trying to diet? EIGHT YEARS OLD!!!! Where did they get the idea from that their body wasn’t wonderful just the way it is? From the media and reinforced AT HOME BY US! And we wonder why mental health is on the decline…

    We, as parents, NEED to be conscious of what we do and say. Our kids are watching and learning from everything we do. It has taken me YEARS to build a better relationship with food and my body after about 10 years of hating my body and dieting. I might not be thin, but I don’t need to be. I have fitness goals that I want to meet. I am a role model to my daughter. I started lifting weights about 3 years ago, and since changing my mindset back then, I have NOT ONCE gone downstairs to lift weights to try and atone for what I’ve eaten. That is HUGE!!

    I don’t want Harper to go through ONE OUNCE of the diet bull crap that I went through. So for the last 3 years, my primary goal has been to build a good relationship with food and fitness. Because that’s what I want her to see and do. I can’t do anything about other people, tv, movies, and the media influencing her beyond her younger years, but I CAN influence her now, and I’m going to do my best to show her what it is to live a balanced life.

  • Books

    May Reads

    I’ve dropped the ball on most aspects of my blog but here is my list of what I’m reading in the month of May!

    Body Kindness – Rebecca Scrithcfield

    This was recommended by a friend because it aligns with my personal feelings toward diet and fitness. I have a long and complex history with health and fitness and have over time, began healing my mind of what I’ve done to it with the diet mindset over the last 10 years, as well as fixing my relationship with food.

    The body kindness objective is to do all things in your life with the intent on being good to yourself. I think we could all use a little more of that.

    I’m listening to this book on Kobo Books.

    The Alice Network – Kate Quinn

    Yes I know, I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet either. I don’t want to talk about it. After reading the Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey, I’m kind of on a Wartime Fiction kick.

    Crescent City – Sarah J. Maas

    I’ve been looking forward to this book since it launched, but because I’m terribly slow at reading, and I had other things on my list first (including book club books), it was put on the shelf until I had time to really savour it.

    Sarah J. Maas is one of my ultimate favourite authors. Right up there with J. K. Rowling. Her Throne of Glass series, which concluded with it’s final book not too long ago, and the Court of Thornes and Roses series, which is still ongoing, I’ve completely fallen in love with both of her fictional universes. I’ve read both series through twice.

    I’ll be quite lucky to get these done by the end of the month, but we shall see. I’m also reading Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone to Harper right now. After I’m finished listening to the Body Kindness audiobook, I’ll probably start The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read.

    Happy reading!

  • Life

    Covid Craziness

    Well, I’ve been slack at blogging. Big surprise there! *Insert eyeroll here*.

    Honestly, we went on vacation in February and then when we got home, our house was full of the flu, and then the world went into total meltdown mode.

    My sweet 7 year old

    Harper spent the 8 days surrounding her 7th birthday with the flu. Poor kid. We did end up having family over for pizza and cake (note to self, order more pizza next year!), which she only JUST felt okay enough to participate in. I kept her home from school that day, and therefore cancelled her kid party, but by the afternoon she felt ‘okay’ so I went ahead with the family party. Nothing like a little pizza, cake, and a brush with the flu.

    I’m glad we did it then though, because a few days later, school was cancelled for the foreseeable future and basically everyone went into lockdown mode.

    How are we handling that? Just okay.

    The month of March consisted of me picking up double my shifts to cover at the hospital, and the rest of time trying to control my anxiety, buy groceries for our family and our extended family who were either quarantined or not keen on risking going out.

    If nothing else, she’ll know how to bake.

    Once April came along (547 days later), things kind of settled down some. New Brunswick is doing really well keeping our numbers of Covid low. I’m not sure if I’m just getting used to this, or if its honestly just not that much different than my regular lifestyle. We’re on our second week of official home school from the district, and that is honestly not going that well. Harper and I have such similar personalities that it is not an easy task to teach her anything. I think I’m going to have to make a chart or something of daily tasks and just stick to that. I tried to teach her a couple of fractions yesterday because we’ve been doing a lot of baking, and I thought it’d be useful to teach her. That’s not going the best, but it really could be worse. *shrug*

    Now that I have literally nowhere else to go, my excuses for not getting things done has really gotten quite short. I have accomplished several things I’ve wanted to get done for a long time. I mean, I keep adding to the list but hey, what else have I got to do? Yes, one of those things was to blog more, but my kitchen cupboards were really messy and bugging me, and now they’re not…so there’s that.

    Easter Girl

    I’ve made several signs, developed a Tik Tok addiction, hurt my shoulder, started our seeds for our garden, incubated some eggs (due to hatch this week), spoiled my kid on Easter, cried some, laughed some, cleaned a lot, read a lot, and played a lot of Warcraft.

    Oh and I dyed Harpers hair pink.

    What have you been doing to keep busy?

  • Books

    February Reads

    I’ve got an ambitious list of reads for this month! Here they are!

    Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

    This one is about Francis, a 50 something writer who decides to take a expensive health retreat to help her recover from some of the things she’s dealt with over the past few months. The other 8 people who are there with her become connected in ways they really would never expect, when they find out the health retreat is much more than what they bargained for.

    Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

    I’m actually listening to this on Audible, but its pretty interesting. It’s all about sleep, the science and history behind it, and things we can do to improve our sleep. The mans voice is very soothing though, so it kind of makes me want to go to sleep while listening to it.

    The Last Wish – Andrzej Sapkowski

    We fell victim to The Witcher series on Netflix, and we really enjoyed the whole concept of the witcher and his universe. The Last Wish is actually just all the short stories that were featured in the first season that’s up on Netflix now. If I can manage it, I’d also like to read the second book in this series, Sword of Destiny, but I can’t get ahold of a hard copy of it, because it’s become quite popular.

    The series is about the Witcher, Geralt, and his adventures in killing monsters for hire. It’s a fantasy series, so beware anyone who can’t deal with that. I’m loving it so far and I’m only 100 pages in.

    The Huntress – Kate Quinn

    This one is our book club pick for the month. It’s a post World War II novel of a man in search of a notorious Nazi called the Huntress, teaming up with Nina, who is the only one to ever escape the Huntress alive.

    This seems like it’s going to be a great read, I’m excited to dive into this one!

    What are you reading this month?

  • Travel

    6 Things To Do In Antigua, Guatemala

    Antigua has come to be one of my favourite places in the world. It’s a beautiful, friendly city that will leave a mark on your heart. There are a lot of options when it comes to entertainment, and for the most part, its a very safe place to be. Seriously, just don’t carry your passport, large sums of money, or travel down dark alleyways at night, and you really should be just fine.

    I’ve travelled to Antigua twice now, and I’m preparing for a third trip in the spring. I’ve gone as a medical volunteer and really enjoyed the experience both times. If you’re interested, I volunteered through International Volunteer Headquarters. If you ever decide to try it for yourself, you can enter the code A4872 and you’ll get a 10% discount!

    In no particular order, here are a few things you can do in and around Antigua that I’ve done and really loved.

    1.Choco Museo.

    If you’re a fan of chocolate (who isn’t?) you might be interested in taking the chocolate class at the Choco Museo. We learned all about where chocolate actually comes from, it’s history, and how to actually make it. You get to try shelling, roasting, and grinding cacao beans into a paste, and making it into various things. I think my favourite was the Guatemalan hot chocolate. SO creamy and delicious.

    At the end, you can create your own chocolates, adding whatever you like to them, pouring them into moulds and setting them. You get to take these home at the end, if you don’t devour it all right away.

    The building where this takes place is also a little museum, has a couple of little shops in it, and has a restaurant. The pizza is pretty good, in case you’re hungry!

    2. Explore the City.

    Honestly, this is the thing we always spend the most time doing. The city itself is absolutely stunning. There are a ton of places to see. Where should you go? I’ll give you a list of a few good places but really, just go get lost. It’s great. You never know what you’ll find.

    Convento de Capuchinas

    Some of my favourite places around Antigua are:

    • Cerro De La Cruz – It’s a bit of a hike but it’s worth it! There will be tuk tuks driving up, if you want to do that, or just take the path.
    • Mercado de Artesanias – Lots and lots of local artisans. Many selling the same old same old but you may find some cool souvenirs. Make sure your money is in Quetzals and not American, and I’d advise against using your credit cards here. There is another market right next door to this, that sells literally anything from knock off hand bags, to lace undies, to pineapples. It’s a pretty cool place to explore. All of this is directly beside the bus stop, so if you want to go see the infamous Chicken Busses in action, that’s where they stop to pick up passengers.
    • Convento de Capuchinas – A convent that was built in the built in 1736 and was ruined in earthquakes in 1751 and after. You pay to get in (minimal fee) and you can walk around. It’s pretty cool to see.
    • Arco de Santa Catalina – This is the iconic arc that you see on almost any photo of Antigua. It’s actually a way for the nuns (I think) to get across the road to ring the bells. This area is really busy with tourists and street vendors and performers. Weekend nights there are usually a ton of things going on here. There isn’t any traffic allowed down at this time so you can walk. Just make sure to be smart about your personal belongings. There are a ton of great little shops around this area as well, they are boutique shops so you’ll see prices MUCH higher than at the markets, but the quality is also better for the most part. Lots of good restaurants here too.
    • Parque Central – During the day this park is a hoppin spot. There are a ton of good coffee shops and restaurants around this area, and you can sit in the park and people watch too. I would avoid this place at night.
    Acro de Santa Catelina with Volcan Agua in the background

    3. Hobbitenango.

    I think this might have been one of the coolest places I’ve ever been…but I’m a pretty big Lord of the Rings fan. It’s an eco lodge up in the mountains outside of Antigua. If you’ve taken a walk up to Cerro de la Cruz, you’d have walked past the little shop that you can book your drive up. It’s right across the road from a little soccer field, on the way up the hill to the trail.

    I THINK you can only go up and fully tour the place on sundays. The first time we went in, we tried to book for an afternoon, but the little hobbit houses are rented out during the week, and only open to the public on sundays. So we booked a trip up on a sunday.

    You have to take a shuttle up the mountain to the base parking lot. When you get there, you can wait for the truck to take you up the last leg. I want to emphasize how difficult the treck up the mountain was. When I went there, my Spanish was lacking and the guy in the parking lot that was in charge of shuttles didn’t speak a word of English so I took his sign language directions and we walked up the hill. It. Is. STEEP. And because you’re so high up (as in, in the clouds), it’s not so easy to breathe. Anyway, we made it, but we figured out on the walk that if we had waited we could have gotten a lift.

    There are a few little cottages built into the mountain side, made to look like hobbit houses. You can actually rent and stay in them. Someday I’m going to do that. They have little activity places to play games, a rope swing out over a ledge, and lots of trails to explore high above the villages below.

    They’ve got a bar, restaurant, and live entertainment as well. We sat and enjoyed a drink and the music for a while before we went back to the city.

    4. Take a Coffee Plantation Tour.

    If you walk around the city at all, you’ll see travel agencies everywhere. If you want to book a tour (or even a shuttle) anywhere, just shop around for prices and pick which one you’d like to do. Many times you can find a better price this way.

    Coffee beans fresh off the plant.

    We booked a coffee plantation tour on a weekend after our volunteer time was done. We went to a Plantation just on the outskirts of Antigua called Filadelfia Coffee Plantation. You get to go on a pretty cool tour and learn how they grow and pick coffee, and then see where they process it and then roast it, then you get a cup of coffee and you can do some shopping in their little shop or stay and go to the cafe. It was a pretty cool experience.

    5. Book a Tour of Pacaya Volcano.

    Again, shop around and find a tour you want to take. We were able to actually do this tour on a weeknight, leaving in the afternoon and returning after dark. It was great. I went into it knowing I was NOT hiking up that puppy. I had read that there are local kids at the bottom of the hill selling walking sticks and horses. If you don’t rent a horse, they’re going to follow you up the mountain anyway until you eventually give up and can’t go any farther. I opted to ride from the start because I love riding horses and I never get a chance to…and theres no way I’d make it up the mountain on foot at that altitude. My horse was named Tequila. Which was not overly reassuring, but she was a good horse and for a mere 150Q, her little family took home some money. Win win in my books.

    The view from the top is incredible, and you can usually see lava coming down the side of the volcano. It was my first time seeing lava that close (or at all actually). After a stop for a rest and photos, you hike down closer to the base of the volcano (not on horseback), and you can cross the lava field and roast a marshmallow on a vent that goes down into the lava about 50 feet underground. Pretty cool!

    I opted to walk down the mountain to our shuttle, which wasn’t as far as the trip up, but it was a little slippery, so watch out for that. Our shoes were covered in dust when we were finished. Our guide stopped to show us the best places for sunset photos.

    6. Eat.

    Quite possibly my favourite thing about Antigua…the food. You can find just about anything to eat, and it’s all at a pretty low price. There are so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s like you’d never try them all in one trip. I wrote about my favourites in another blog post, if you’re interested, you can read it here.

  • Books

    Book Club Discussions for Educated by Tara Westover

    Educated by Tara Westover was the title that our book club read for January. I’m no expert on book club (at all), but I thought I’d share the questions and discussion topics we used to lead our talk about the book.

    If you haven’t read Educated, I highly recommend it. I awarded it 5 stars on my Goodreads account. Maybe not for the most expertly written book, but for the story and how it impacted me personally.

    1. What was your overall impression of the book? How many stars did you or would you award it out of 5?
    2. What are your thoughts on Tara’s father? Did you like or dislike him? Did that change throughout the story?
    3. How did you feel about Tara’s mother? Did you feel that her mother stood up for her enough? Do you think this was impacted by Tara being the youngest?
    4. How do you feel that things would have worked out for Tara if she hadn’t developed a relationship with her brother Tyler? He is credited for introducing her to music and learning. Do you think she would be where she is today without him?
    5. What frustrated you the most about what took place throughout the story?
    6. While going to college, Tara took psychology classes, which gave her a deeper insight to her own life. What do you think about Tara’s realization that her father was suffering from a severe mental illness? Do you think it effected how she managed her relationship with him after?
    7. How do you feel that the telling of this story may have impacted Tara’s real family?

    *This blog post contains affiliate links.

  • Recipes

    The BEST Chocolate Cupcakes

    I used to make cupcakes and sell them locally. My chocolate cupcakes were by far the favourite of most of my customers, and they were the easiest for me to make. Why? Because I may or may not have memorized the recipe, so writing it down should be easy.

    There are going to be a couple things you’re just going to have to trust me on. Just do them. I promise, your cupcakes will not be harmed.

    This recipe halves really well too! Making about 15 cupcakes.

    Yield: approximately 30 cupcakes.


    • 2 Cups White Sugar
    • 1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
    • 3/4 Cup of Cocoa
    • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
    • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
    • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 Cup of Milk
    • 1 Teaspoon of White Vinegar
    • 1/2 Cup of Vegetable Oil
    • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
    • 1 Cup of Hot Coffee

    Heat the oven to 350 F. Line your muffin tins with papers. I use jumbo papers, so they don’t stick to my muffin tins.

    In a large bowl, use a sifter and mix the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I use a sifter to make sure everything is lump-free. This recipe doesn’t really take well to having any lumps. Your batter will be super thin, so it’s not really helpful to have lumps of cocoa, and not a nice surprise to bite into.

    Take your cup of milk, and add the teaspoon of vinegar to sour it. Trust me.

    In a mixing bowl, like a Kitchen Aid (you can also use a hand mixer no problem), add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and beat them together.

    Get your hot coffee ready. I usually brew a cup of coffee from my Keurig in to a measuring cup, and then dump out any excess.

    Alternate adding dry ingredients and coffee to the egg mixture until it is all well incorporated. Scrape the edges as necessary. Your batter is going to be really thing. It’s supposed to be, don’t worry.

    Fill your cupcake liners 1/2-2/3 full. I like using this measuring tool, it makes sure that I get a batch of even cupcakes.

    Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick will come out clean.

    Cool them before frosting.

    *This post contains affiliate links.