Tag Archives: North America

Devouring Cupcakes in New York City

January, 2015

We woke up when the alarm went off and were ready in an instant. We turned our tickets in at the hostel kitchen and collected our breakfast- a bagel and an apple. We toasted our bagels, nestled our apples in safe little spots in our purses, and sat in the kitchen, all eyes on us. There we were, Allison looking like a million bucks in her aubergine coat, black high heel booties, with bling peeking out from under her dazzling scarf, and me, with my bright red lipstick, polka dot dress, and beautiful timepiece on my dainty AF wrist, sitting in the hostel kitchen surrounded by a gaggle of your typical hostel kitchen goer. We were well out of place and we loved it.


We began our walk towards grand central station, and found Starbucks on Park Ave, a few blocks from Grand Central Station. We ordered our drinks and were off. Our Starbucks cups really added to our NY glam. We ducked into Grand Central Station and my breath was taken away. How can anyone walk into this building and not look up?! It’s SO beautiful. We continued to make our way towards the “Rock”. As we walked, we imagined and talked about life would be like as a Manhattan local. Then we heard a huge thud and a guy yell. When we turned around, we saw a bike pizza delivery guy on the ground and an open taxi door. I guess being a Manhattan local isn’t all Sex and the City. We turned the corner and there was Rockefeller Centre! The tree, the skating rink, the giant building towering over us. Incredible. The tree made me feel a little weepy. The Zamboni was resurfacing the ice before the next million people went for a skate. We wandered around and took a few pictures. How beautiful.

Our selfie with Rockefeller Centre


We wondered what to do next, but then saw a man wearing a Magnolia Bakery hat. Allison said, “hey! That man is wearing a Magnolia Bakery hat!” Then we realized he was standing right outside Magnolia Bakery! Without question, we turned to the shop, opened the door, and were inside, drooling. We stood, dumbfounded at the organized chaos that was the Bakery, unsure of where to go. Again, without question, we joined the cupcake line. A man behind the counter told everyone to form an orderly line instead of crowding. We did as we were told. I was happy to abide by these line rules because I ended up with a VIP view of the cupcakes! We salivated with anticipation.

The delectable cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery

I saw the man drop a cupcake upside down on the display platter. He picked it up, but sighed when he saw the icing was all smushed. He came over to the counter again and said, “who wants a cupcake?” I put my hand up, “ME!” I said with enthusiasm! I honestly thought he meant in general. I thought he was the cupcake enthusiast man, getting everyone pumped up for the cupcakes! I thought he was just managing the line up again, telling all those who said they did want a cupcake to move into an orderly line. But that was not the question. He meant “who wants a cupcake for free because I can’t sell it because I dropped it upside down on the display platter and now it is smushed?” He handed me the smushed cupcake. For free! We ordered our red velvet and our ‘dirty blonde’ cupcakes, and two hot chocolates, because when in Rome. When we went back to retrieve our hot chocolates, the same cupcake enthusiast man came over and began chatting with us. He was thrilled to hear we were from Canada. We told him we would love to ice cupcakes and bake cakes all day. He told us to leave our resumes.
We sat on the edge of a fountain and we ate those cupcakes. Damn they were good. I love red velvet cake because it is often paired with cream cheese icing, which I love. It was only after we finished demolishing the cupcakes we realized we were sitting in front of a highly photographed fountain. We are now featured in the family photo albums of the multiple tourists who visited New York in January, 2015.

Allison, looking like an advert for Magnolia Bae-kery

At Theatre Junction’s 8th Annual ALLEY PARTY

On Thursday September 1st, Theatre Junction continued the tradition, and celebrated their upcoming season with the 8th annual ALLEY PARTY. Really, is there any better way to celebrate a season of contemporary live art than with a giant dance party in a back alley in the middle of downtown Calgary? No, in fact, there is not. I like to think that on a day-to-day basis I am a pretty cool person, but walking into this party made my cool level skyrocket!

My friend, Casey and I could hear the party from a few blocks away and before we entered the theatre, we walked passed a group of onlookers watching the people dance from behind a fence. We walked into the Grand, the oldest theatre in Calgary, and marvelled at the lobby. It’s worth a visit just to see the lobby. We walked under the artfully destroyed ceiling, and the chandelier made from broken bottles lit the way through to the main hall. We ‘paid what we could’ and entered.


The main room was dark and full of sound. The DJ from Hifi spinning when we arrived had everyone grooving. Amongst the grooving were my super hip friends, Tyler, Garrett, and Chris. There was a green space set up on one end of the room, where a bean bag toss and a few games of giant Connect 4, both provided by Home & Away, were set up. Nearby was a makeshift photo booth manned by an enthusiastic photographer whose goal was to make us look even cooler than we felt. Over two separate stints in front of his camera, I think we nearly exhausted him. There was also a bar, with a healthy line of excited people, ready to support local theatre by buying a beer or two.

Brie, Tyler, Garrett, and Neil striking a killer pose.


We walked through a dark hallway and emerged in the back alley. I laughed. When Tyler invited me to a party in a back alley, I had no idea what to expect, and could never in a million years have expected this. It was all glamour and opulence set against a derelict back alley backdrop. Another DJ from Hifi was set up next to the brick wall, and the crowd was dancing all around. The music echoed and reverberated up through the buildings. Everyone was dancing. And how could they not? The beat demanded it. “The bass!!!!” Tyler exclaimed, as his body gave in. We stood in the middle of the crowd and just danced. I couldn’t help but look around at the stunning party-goers surrounding my friends and I. A smile on every face.

Tyler and I!

The scariest part about attending a party on a weeknight is that you will be out too late and be tired at work the next day. This party ended at 11pm. I love a party like this. The Hifi Club had an after party for those who couldn’t rid their bones of the beat just yet, and I applauded those people as I hailed a cab to take me home. Theatre Junction and The Hifi Club did it again. That party in that back alley is without a doubt on the list of the top ten coolest parties I have ever been to. Thanks for the invite Tyler, thanks for the music Hifi, thanks for the games Home & Away, thanks for the reason to celebrate, Theatre Junction, and thanks for the rad weeknight party, Calgary!

Where the F is Beth?

Camping in Two Jack lake, Banff

On Thursday, I left work and sped down Highway 22 towards the mountains, the glorious mountains. There are always people who remind you how lucky we are to live so close to them, but even those people forget sometimes. I love the moment when you pass Mt. Baldy on your left and Yamnuska on your right, because now you are in the mountains. I met up with Kate, my sister, at the IGA in Banff to buy a few camping necessities. We were going up to Two Jack Lake to pitch a tent for a few nights, and wanted to be prepared. We drove across the highway and passed Cascade Mountain. The road took us over the dam at the foot of Lake Minnewanka, towards Two Jack Lake. We found our campsite and began to set up, which went very efficiently, if I do say so myself. The tent was pitched, the chairs were out, and the water for pasta was on the stove within minutes. We spent the evening under the stars, eating our veggies and pasta, drinking our tea, chatting about life, and enjoying the smells and sounds of nature. I love camping.

Kate, cooking dinner.

We woke up on Friday morning, a little colder than expected. Oh yeah: we’re in the mountains. We cooked up some tea and enjoyed the overnight oats we prepared yesterday. It was decided that today we would go for a nice mountain walk. Neither of us have hiked up to the Lake Agnes Tea House, so we set off towards Lake Louise with a dream. We arrived and immediately all the calm we felt from waking up to birds whistling, breathing in refreshing forest air, and driving passed majestic AF mountains, disappeared. The parking lot at Lake Louise was a horror show. People were bumper to bumper, honking horns, ignoring signal lights, and pulling in front of each other. Somehow, in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in the world, people became uglier than normal. It was here, in this terribly busy parking lot, that Kate and I succumbed to the ugliness. We became different people— traffic people. The kind of people who roll their eyes at each other’s suggestions and sigh angrily at things the other says. We quickly realized what people – nay, monsters – we had become and decided to get the hell out of there.

Two Jack Lake

Instead of a hike to Lake Agnes, we spent the afternoon at Two Jack Lake. The sun was out, the breeze was cold— er— fresh, and we wanted to enjoy the weather. We laughed at what a Canadian stereotype we were, sitting on the grass, basking in the sun, wearing nothing but swimsuits and goosebumps. Meanwhile, all the other lake-goers walked around us, bundled up in multiple autumn layers.

This evening we would build a fire. We donned our flannel shirts and head to the communal woodpile. Here we collected the finest pieces of kindling and the perfect logs for our fire. I began with a tipi of small logs. I crammed in a few pieces of paper from an old map of the USA Kate had in her car— we used Alabama and Arkansas first. The fire ignited and I used my dinghy foot pump as a bellows. Soon the flames were flying. We sat in the heat of the fire all evening, reading our books.

Being a lumberjack.

On Saturday, we decided to try a hike again. Instead of attempting Lake Agnes, we stayed near Lake Minnewanka, and did the C-Level Cirque. This is a moderate hike, with almost 500m in elevation gain over only 7.8km of hiking. The beginning of the trail was steep, so very steep. The incredible incline and the knobby tree roots sticking out of the path made Kate and I walk about as gracefully as a pair of drunk camels. We took a few breaks, but then got our second wind and made it to the very top. What a view. From here, we could see the entire valley. Mt. Rundle in the distance, with Banff in its shadow, the highway snaking along the river, and the endless Alberta sky. It was a great spot for lunch.

At the summit of C-Level Cirque

It began to rain when we arrived back at camp. It was only drizzling, so our plan to build a fire and cook hot dogs for dinner was still a go. We hopped in the car and drove into Banff to buy some marshmallows, and it began to pour. We arrived downtown, found a parking spot, and thought about what we should do. The rain was sporadic. It would absolutely pour for a few minutes, all hope of a campfire would be lost, and we would be just about to give up when the sun would come out, we would see blue sky, and begin to feel warm, only for the next rain-filled cloud to dump all over us again. What do you do on an evening like this, when the weather is so unpredictable? Sit at a covered table on the Grizzly House patio and spend three hours eating a four course fondue meal. If you like cheese, meat, and chocolate, this is the place for you.

The rain continued as we pulled into our campsite. We had a bit of fire envy as we passed some of the other sites with their fire pits covered by tarps. How lovely though, to sit in a tent, all cozied up in a sleeping bag, listening to the pitter patter of the rain, reading my book. Thanks for camping with me in the mountains, Kate! And thanks for having us, Banff!


At the Calgary Mini Maker Faire

A new tradition my extraordinary father and I began last year is attending the Calgary Mini Maker Faire at the Telus Spark Science Centre. The Maker Faire is a place where everyone from robotics engineers to homemade crafters to garage tinkers, come to share their projects and ideas. One of my favourite parts about the Maker Faire is the incredible array of people presenting and attending.


On that note, let me begin by introducing the coolest kid we met, Arpad, the Science Lad. Arpad built a Van de Graaf generator using the battery pack from a bug zapper, a Tesla coil, a few lightbulbs, and a bunch of tinfoil. He was thrilled to tell us all about his creation and how much fun he had building it. He told us about how dangerous this sort of experiment could be if he wasn’t careful. “Kids shouldn’t play with these things,” said the 10 year old. I could have hung out with Arpad all day, but had to move on.


We walked past the wearable LEDs and tried on some glowing accessories. Two sisters, one with the creative design mind, and one with the LED know-how, work together to make really incredible wearables. We stumbled upon a pancake printer. Yes, a printer that prints pancakes into designs right on the pan. The device squirts out the pancake batter onto the pan as it cooks, and as if by magic, but knowing full well it is by science, an Eiffel Tower pancake appeared on the pan.


We learned about Protospace, a space for members to gather and work on their dreams and ideas. One member of Protospace showed us his can crusher. He instructed us to put an empty can in the hole. The can slid into place, sat for a split second, and then a very loud hydraulic press crushed it.

I smiled as I walked around, seeing all of the passionate makers explaining their projects to other passionate makers. It is so cool to see ideas being shared in such an open minded and rad space. The room was all a buzz. Then a kid ran by me ecstatically yelling, “ROBOTS! ROBOTS! MOM! THERE ARE ROBOTS EVERYWHERE!”


Next, I took a turn blowing up asteroids with a Virtual Reality mask. It was fun, but I couldn’t help but think about how crazy I must have looked; spinning around, bending my knees and extending the control— my gun— out in front of me. I was even making shooting and explosion sound effects, that probably didn’t sound like shooting or explosions. Dad just laughed.Dad took a turn shooting an infrared gun at a target. Once he hit the target, a big blast of fire shot out into the air.


I left the Maker Faire with a hand made button made from a comic book, a custom engraved lego piece, and a rekindled appreciation for the incredible people who build and design technology.  Thanks for the rad day of art, science, and technology, Calgary!


At Happenings #5

What could be better than an art party with plant portraits, shadow puppets, poisonous plants, and bees? If you ask me, not much. On August 11, it was time for another Happenings at Arts Commons. Happenings always has a major theme, and Happenings #5 was centred on the theme of plants and nature. As always, there were many free activities that anyone and everyone could enjoy.

I invited my friend Jess to join me. Our evening began with a snow-cone— I got one with root beer flavour, how could I not?— and a wander through the building. I felt all kinds of classy; there I was at an art party, rockin’ my glamourous red lipstick and my rockstar red high heels, slurping back a root beer snow-cone. While we enjoyed our icy treats, we wandered over to the Apiaries and Bees for Communities presentation to learn a bit about bees. Jess confessed to me that she loves bees. We learned about the different nest designs, and how to construct one to attract honey bees to your backyard. Jess is excited.

Jess and I enjoying our classy AF snow cones.

We ran into Richard, the Communications Manager at Arts Commons. He suggested our next stop be with Alyssa Ellis and her collection of poisonous plants. “Don’t touch or eat them though, because you will die,” said Richard. “No actually. You will die.” We decided that we were too engrossed in our snow cones to be responsible enough around poisonous plants, so we enjoyed them from afar. The plants were gorgeous. Nature is so tricky, making plants that will kill you so beautiful and tempting.

Next stop was the Bizarre Garden of Eden. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you’re right! It was a place to design and create your own shadow puppets! I wanted more than anything to create a unicorn shadow puppet, but I didn’t know how. I expressed my disappointment to Jess and a woman overheard me. She gave me the fastest unicorn drawing lesson you’ve ever seen. I sketched it out, and really surprised myself. That woman enriched my life. Jess cut out a dancing mushroom and we went behind the sheet to put on a show.

Jess’ dancing mushroom and my unicorn!

After our shadow puppet debut, we decided to check out some of the art that we were celebrating. On our way to the Ledge Gallery, we walked past artist Trevor Gieske and his potato printing station. We didn’t get the chance to try it out because the table was at capacity pretty much the entire evening- who knew potato printing was so popular! We entered the Ledge Gallery and wandered through the green world created by Natural Real Supreme. Green walls, green plants, green bits and pieces all around, green, green, green. The environment was so very soothing and lovely. It was nice to be above the crowd, too, to escape the noise and walk through a bit of artsy nature.

The view from the Ledge Gallery. Courtesy of Arts Commons

Our evening ended in the coolest place: We were surrounded by green streamers and ribbons hanging from the ceiling, red and green lights illuminating the space, and the sound of crickets filling the room. Rob Knudsen and Janine Bennet, two artists whose work is in and around Arts Commons took part in a discussion. There were questions written on paper leaves attached to the hanging streamers and the audience had the opportunity to pick a leaf and ask a question. The artists discussed their processes, their beliefs, their dreams and goals; it was really cool. The shroud that often covers the artistic process was pulled back this evening. We had the chance to learn about how art is created, see art being created, and even create our own art!

As always, the Happenings was such a rad time, and don’t worry if you missed it, because Happenings #6 is on October 31. Thanks for the nature art and the chance to create, Calgary!

The space for the artist discussions.



A Bicycle Tour in Vancouver

July, 2016

Vancouver currently has about 265 kilometres of bike path, and works continually toward building the infrastructure to encourage even more cycling. The way Vancouverites have adopted and accepted cycling culture has definitely turned a few heads around the world. With that much dedicated cycling space, you can see a lot of Vancouver from these paths. Even the most tenured Vancouverites can’t say they have seen it all. So, what better way to learn about and see more of a city you love, than with people who love this city? Cycle City Tours believes that one of the best ways to see Vancouver is by bike, and there is no better bike ride than a bike ride shared with friends!

I decided to do one of their tours! I have lived in and cycled a fair amount around Vancouver, and would say I know this city pretty well, but I am a firm believer that everyone should be a tourist in their own city once in a while. I met the group, a family from Belgium, a family from England, and Kate, our tour guide. We started from the Cycle City shop on Hornby Street and cycled through the West End to Stanley Park. We stopped along the way to learn about Vancouverism, a type of urban design and a style of urbanism Vancouver does so well that other cities around the world have adopted it,  and Vancouver’s plans to be the “Greenest City” by 2020. In Stanley Park, we visited Totem Park, and the “Girl in a Wetsuit”, Vancouver’s tribute to the statue. She also mentioned that “in a truly Canadian example of vandalism,” someone swam out and placed a Canadian soccer jersey on the statue last year during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.


We left the seawall and turned into the Park. All of a sudden, we were in the jungle! We saw trees that were 600 years old, and still growing. I think I often take for granted the beauty of this city. Seeing trees like this, just ten minutes from downtown, reminds me just how totally rad Vancouver is. After another stint on our bikes, we hopped on the Aquabus and went to Granville Island. It was here I treated myself to a classic Siegel’s Rosemary Rocksalt bagel with Vancouver lox and cream cheese. If you’re going to act like a tourist, you may as well eat like one!


The rest of the tour was more cycling and fewer stops. It felt like we saw the entire City! Kate had so many interesting stories and tidbits about the development of Vancouver, and facts about all the various communities. It was clear too, from the way she told these stories, that she loves this city, and enjoys sharing that love with new folks. The families that were on the tour with me were clearly falling in love with this place, just like so many of us have.

Cycle City Tours offers three different types of tours: a 3-hour Stanley Park and Seawall tour, a 5-hour Grand Tour (which is what we did), and a tour of craft breweries complete with beer tastings at each stop. They have the option to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike), or to rent a bike for the duration of the tour. They boast “friendly shop staff” and rightfully so. Kate was enthusiastic and excited, and knew so much about the city. The folks who helped the group with their bikes and helmets were super friendly and genuine. This tour should be on everyone’s “must do” list, both visitors and locals alike. Be a tourist for a day, and fall back in love with your city.


At Heritage Park

I remember going to Heritage Park as a kid. My family would make a day of it. I loved the Caterpillar ride and the boat swings, I would eat so many root beer candies from the candy store, and my family toured around the Glenmore reservoir in style on the S.S. Moyie. Going to Heritage park is like traveling back in time. With all the lovely memories I have of the place, you can imagine my total delight when my friend Natasha invited me to spend her birthday with her at Heritage Park!

We began at Gasoline Alley and checked out the cars, the airplane, and all the gasoline pumps from back in the day. Everything looks so beautiful under lights in the display building. We learned about the gas pumps and some of the original companies in Alberta. We wandered around admiring how shiny everything is, and in such good condition, including my obvious favourite, the 1909 McIntyre, Model M, believed to be the only restored example of its type in existence!


The path led us to the Famous Five Centre of Canadian Women, to the Jewish Synagogue, and the Prince House. The buildings are all rebuilt, refurbished, and designed inside to appear the way they would have 100 years ago. The furniture, the wallpaper, the light fixtures, and even the little accessories and toys on dressers and tables are all pieces from the turn of the century. We listened to a bit of the very inspiring speech one of the employees was giving about the Famous Five and the impact their work would have on the lives of women in Canada forever. We had the chance to look into the reimaginings of the bedrooms in the Prince House, and listen to a history lesson of the Jewish Synagogue.

Next stop was the Games of Amusement in the antique midway. Much to my dismay, I discovered that as an adult, I am not permitted to go on what was my favourite ride as a kid— the boat swings. I stood for a moment and enviously watched the six year olds squealing and laughing with joy, before making my way over to the ferris wheel. That wheel spins way faster than I imagined. The wind whipped our hair, the breeze freshened our faces, and at the top of the spin, we could see the whole reservoir. It was a stunning view.


After the ferris wheel, we stopped into the hotel for lunch and delicious root beer, and then made our way down to the water for our boat cruise! The S.S. Moyie in which Heritage Park ferries its passengers is a half-size replica of the original ship built in 1898. From the boat we saw some deer on the shore, lots of birds, and were able to wave to people sitting on the water’s edge. It was also on the boat where we sang the birthday song to Natasha.

We walked through the main street and to the farm area. I stopped for a quick swing in the playground, and overheard a little boy say to his mom, ”Heritage park is now my favourite.” I smiled. It began to rain as we went into the saloon, so we waited out the downpour inside. A few beers, a few rounds of cards, dominos, and Yahtzee, and the rain stopped.


We ran after the train to take us back to the candy store— probably the most important stop of the day. I bought a root beer candy stick, like I always did as a kid. I remember thinking they were so expensive when my only income was my weekly allowance. Even with the rain, Heritage Park was the perfect destination for our Saturday. The ticket price for an adult is $26.25, and once inside the park, the boat, the rides, and the train are all free. A lot of bang for your buck, and way less expensive than what I assume time traveling would cost. Thanks for the rad blast from the past, Calgary!IMG_0436

River Surfing on the Bow River

In my travels, I have come across a myriad of surfers; in Portugal, two really relaxed surf instructors, on the West coast of Australia, I watched my buds shred the waves, and one night in Hawaii, I had dinner on the beach and with the setting sun as a backdrop, watched the surfers rip around. I have always been enthralled by the sport. When asked which sport do I wish I could just be the best at with no work or practice? I answer surfing. I have spent most of my life living in Calgary, the land-locked city, and early on, I came to terms with the fact that I, Calgarian, will never “ride a gnarly wave” or “hang ten.” Turns out, I gave up too soon.

My friend Matt is an avid river surfer. Yes, that’s right, an avid river surfer. Living in Calgary, Matt goes surfing on the Bow River once or twice a week. Matt invited me to join him one fateful day and I decided to try my dreams on for size. On the south side of the river, under the 10th St. bridge is Calgary’s wave. It formed after the flood, when a few logs were caught on the bank and pushed the water towards a dip in the rocks. Since then, surfers and the Alberta River Surfing Association* (yes it’s a real thing) have built up the logs to create and maintain the perfect wave.

Photo by @ma77allen

At noon, we were the only two on the river. Matt took some time to teach me the basics— how to get onto the wave, how to hold the board, how to jump up, and how to swim safely back to shore. I may have a bunch of photos of me trying to look like an advertisement, holding surf boards, but I have never actually surfed, so I was soaking up as much of this crash course as I could, paying close attention to the safety tips. Matt said, “jump really really far out in front of the wave, and if you fall, just don’t panic.” Right on! How hard could it be?


The first time I jumped into the water, I felt SO cool. Like, someone get this girl a surf sponsorship. I immediately bailed, of course, but because I knew what I was doing, quickly made it back to the river bank. Matt cheered me on and declared my first attempt was totally rad! My second attempt was even better. And my third. I found that each time I stood on the rock, poised and ready to jump, I psyched myself up by saying, “jump far, frog legs.”

Photo by @ma77allen

Soon, a few other surfers joined. After a few hours, there were about thirteen, all different skill levels. There was the Beth level, jumping on, staying in the “sweet spot” for a hot second, then bailing, there was the Matt level, throwing the board into the water, jumping onto it(!) and surfing like a pro, and there was everything in between. Who knew river surfing created such an incredible community!

Photo by @ma77allen

The day was stunning and the sun did an excellent job of warming us up after being in the cold river. It was the perfect day for my dream of being a surfer to kind of come true. I kind of surfed! I may not have stood up, but I rode a gnarly wave and I got to “hang ten.” I just still can’t believe I didn’t say “cowabunga” today. Not even once! Thanks for the lessons and the rad day in the sun, Matt! Thanks for the epic river surf, Calgary!

*Read more about Calgary’s wave and the other waves around Alberta, plus safety tips and links to blogs and forums on the ARSA website, http://www.riversurfing.ca/arsa/



At The Calgary Folk Music Festival

This past weekend, I had the total honour of being my fantastic friend, Kelsey’s plus one to the Calgary Folk Music Festival. As a sponsor of the festival, Kelsey’s employer was given passes for the whole weekend, and she generously shared with me. When I looked at the totally stacked line-up I nearly fainted. With the amount of incredible talent on the schedule, how were we going to choose which artists to see and which workshops to attend? On Thursday night, I donned my cutest festival outfit and head to the grounds.

Kelsey and I

We began at the beer garden to sit under the trees and plan our evening. We were able to see The New Pornographers, a band I have loved for years, and the last few songs of The Cave Singers, a band I had never heard before. We caught the first bit of The Dudes’ set, a band made up of four Calgarians, and finished our evening with The Tallest Man on Earth, a band from Sweden! It was during the Tallest Man on Earth that my friend said enthusiastically, “the best thing about folk fest is the nonstop killer vocal harmonies.” I agree! It was a brilliant day one of Folk Fest and I bicycled home with a giant smile on my face. Three more days of this?! Best. Weekend. Ever.

Our Friday began at the “Voice Male” workshop, featuring the Bros. Landreth, The Cave Singers, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Northern Beauties. A stage chalk full of incredibly talented and inspiring male singer/songwriters? How could we miss it? I am glad we didn’t. The songs that evolved from this workshop had me swooning and falling madly in love with the men creating this music. Once my legs became less jelly like, we wandered to the Mainstage. It was here that we saw Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, a Calgary legend, whose lyrics and music are as magical as his smile. The Bros. Landreth was on the Mainstage next. Another band I had not heard until this weekend, and my goodness, I count my lucky stars I was here to see them. Their music had my skin in goosebumps the whole set. To end the perfect day, we danced all evening to Lord Huron. I had not heard of them until I was standing in front of them, but I liked what I heard, and it was impossible not to dance!

Our Saturday began with the workshop “Do the write thing,” featuring Bobby Bare Jr., The Dudes, Foy Vance, and Bry Webb. It is so rad to see people on stage doing what they love and having a fantastic time with it. That kept us in the beer gardens for a while, where we met up with some friends, and made some new ones. The Calgary Folk Festival brings so many different people out, you never know who you might meet. It always makes me smile to see teenagers partying alongside sixty-somethings, only a few feet away from a family whose young children are also enjoying the music. With our passes, we were invited to sit in the artist lounge. It was here that I would meet Calgary meteorology legend, Darr Maqbool and his lovely wife Lynn (see? You never know who you will meet!). We chatted for a long while about the arts in Calgary and how this City is truly up and coming. Then Kelsey and I watched The Sadies from backstage. These guys know how to rock! The drummer kept spinning his drumsticks as he played— the coolest trick for us non-drummers to see— and the vocalists danced and partied like they were born to do so. José González closed off the night to a huge audience. It was a brilliant way to end a crazy and beautiful Saturday.

Darr Maqbool and I

We arrived Sunday and caught the tail end of the workshop, “Idiom Savants,” featuring Bobby Bare Jr., Elizabeth Cook, Robbie Fulks, and Northern Beauties. I was sad we didn’t get to see more of their set, the music that emanated from the stage was just what I needed on a hangover Sunday. We found our way to the next workshop on our ‘to see’ list, “Defining Moments,” featuring Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Amelie Patterson, Colleen Rennison, and The Weather Station. It was so lovely to hear the stories each of the artists shared about defining moments in their life. MBF told us of the first time he played at Folk Fest in Calgary and how rad it was for him, and now eight or so years later, he took the Mainstage. How cool is that?! We sat in the artist lounge for a while to soak up some much needed shade (again, hangover Sunday). Kelsey and I had a hilarious conversation about being traveling musicians with the Bros. Landreth, when they came to eat dinner at our table, and we chatted about music and then politics with Robbie Fulks and his drummer. We marvelled at the drum beats of the Krar Collective, and closed our eyes to be swept away with Cat Power. We stood in the middle of the crowd for Cat Empire, whose music had everyone up out of their lawn chairs, dancing like crazy. The weekend closed with the infamous Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, who had everyone singing along, and craving a bit of rye whiskey.

Music festivals in general are such a crazy and whirlwind way to experience music. It is always fun to see bands you love, especially bands like The Dudes who are total Calgary legends, or an international sensation like The Tallest Man on Earth. What I loved about this weekend too, is that I had the opportunity to see bands I had never heard before. I fell in love with multiple bands while they were on stage, like The Bros. Landreth and Lord Huron. Thank you Kelsey for bringing me, thank you to all the musicians who poured their hearts out on stage, thank you to the incredible volunteers without whom the festival would not happen, and thank you to everyone I met over the course of the festival. For this island in the heart of the City, for the great music, for the Alberta blue sky, thanks Calgary!

Kelsey with the rad sign made my Bob Quaschnick from The Dudes

Making Bath Bombs with Maker YYC

Taking a bath with a bath bomb is like bathing in champagne, decadent, luxurious, but less of a total mess. I love bath bombs, but I honestly can’t afford them. How many times have you walked into a bath shop or soap store and thought, “this is a ridiculous price for a bath bomb. I feel like I could make this!” I don’t know what goes into making a bath bomb but feel they are simple and wouldn’t take much time.and that others think the same.

Sarah and Kat, two Calgary artists, and the cofounders of Maker YYC, know all too well the feeling of going into a soap shop and thinking, “why would I buy this when I could just make it myself?” They also realize how frustrating it can be to try crafting on one’s own, and they understand the difficulty in answering the questions, where do I get the stuff, how do I actually do this, what is this mess I’ve made, and wtf have I gotten myself into? The beauty of a Maker YYC workshop is that Kat and Sarah provide all the ingredients and tools necessary for the craft of the evening. They do the research and try it out beforehand, so they are the gurus the workshop attendees look to for guidance. The “How to Make Bath Bombs” workshop on July 6 was a sold out house!

Photo from Maker YYC

I sat with Montana, Carla, and Alberta, three lovely ladies who had never been to a Maker event before. We were given our buckets, our mixing utensils, our ingredients, and were told the one rule: don’t eat the citric acid. With a few inspirational images of handmade bath bombs (probably from Pinterest), we were chomping at the bit to begin. Within mere moments, the entire Vintage Caffeine Co. coffee shop smelled like lavender, lemongrass and rose petals. People were mixing and matching colours and scents, pressing their bombs into whichever shape they chose, and waiting excitedly for the time when their bombs could be released from their mold.

Photo from Maker YYC

It was cool to meet and get to know the ladies around my table— all from different walks of life, different backgrounds, and with different interests. There we sat, for two hours, bonding while we created the daintiest and most decadent of crafts. I successfully made six bath bombs, all with different flower petals, swirls of colours, and shapes. I am very happy and I can’t wait to bathe!

So, the total tally from the evening:

Number of beautiful bath bomb makers: 12

Number of beautiful bath bombs made: at least 89

Times I said cute: too many to count

Number of people who put citric acid in their mouths: 0 (woohoo!)

Thanks for the sweet smelling craft night, Calgary!

Three of my bath bombs!