Christmastime

I love Christmas every year that it rolls around, but there’s one particular Christmas that stands out from the rest.

 

Back in 2005 (hard to believe that’s over ten years ago), my family and I celebrated Christmas and New Years in Greece. It was a chance to spend some time with all of our relatives there, and also to see Greece at a very different time of year. When you hear of Greece, most people think of islands, or beaches, world famous sunsets, or ancient ruins. Souvlaki may also come to mind. But life is different during the winter months. At least, it felt that way to me after only having seen it in the summer months when the aforementioned are most prevalent.

It was like we were part of the country’s regular programming; where citizens were out and about getting ready for Christmas, rushing from one gathering or party to the next. The traditions we preserve and practice here at home were visible and alive everywhere, surrounding us like the richest chocolate around a hazelnut. The most memorable and meaningful part was that we got to experience Christmas the way my dad did growing up as a kid.  It was, without sounding childish or cliche, magical.

In amongst all of these lovely, festive moments, there were also some eye-opening parts of the trip. Like the fact that homes aren’t heated in the same way during the winter like our Canadian homes are. Let’s just say that when the firewood has been used up and it’s the middle of the night, you layer with every sweater and blanket in site! Or when we were driving up a narrow, village road that was covered in ice, we had to accept the fact that our little rental car couldn’t hack it (it seriously couldn’t; we spun out multiple times, and even lost control as we headed towards the roadside…with no guardrail!) But, my uncle’s old, Toyota pick-up truck could! Strap some chains around the tires and away you go, is how it’s done over there.

It was a trip to remember, in spite of the differences. The true gift in all of this was experiencing something so rich, and so cool with my parents and sisters, and with relatives that are so far away. Now that I have a family of my own, I can’t wait to experience something like this and create our own version of this in the future.

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Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a holiday season full of love, laughter and lots of restful family time. See you in 2017!

xo! Kassey

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

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See & Do in #yeg || Holiday Edition

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a good friend asking me for recommendations on what to see and do in the city over the holidays. A friend of hers will be bringing her boyfriend to Edmonton for Christmas, and she wanted my “expert” advice. I laughed when I read that part, because…expert?! Despite being born and raised in Edmonton and area (my friend is a former Edmontonian, too; now Calgarian), I hardly consider myself an expert. More suitable titles I’d be quick to claim could include city lover, fun seeker, or even cheerleader (because I’m always trying to sing our city’s praises to whoever will listen!) But I was up for the challenge and excited to share some of the things that pop into my mind when prompted with a question like this. (love ya, MT! I really enjoyed putting this together!)

Exploring the city, whether by day or night, has changed for us a little bit since becoming parents, but I tried to include spots that would appeal to all kinds of people, children in tow or not. Most of the places below are ones we have experienced and can attest to why they’re on this list, and others are here because they’re on our radar and we hope to tackle them in the near future. I know I’ve probably missed a few as well, but to fill that gap, I like to stay informed through my favourite, go-to sites like Explore Edmonton, Share Edmonton, Where.ca, and Twitter.

So here it goes! I hope you like it, and please do share your favourites with me!

Image: Iconoclast Coffee via Vue Weekly

You can tell something ranks highly with me when I create a category for it all on its own! There’s something I love about incorporating a delicious and warm coffee or hot chocolate on a cold winter day, and even more so when you can make it social and meet with friends for a catch up. My picks below include places that boast an abundance of charm, a really fun atmosphere, and that showcase really cool parts of Edmonton.

Rosso
Leva
Little Brick
Transcend
Credo
Remedy Cafe
Iconoclast
Lockstock
Coffee Bureau
DaCapo
Duchess
Elm Cafe
District Coffee
Burrow
Cafe Bicyclette

Image: Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar via Explore Edmonton

My late night suggestions will surely differ from those coming from someone who’s evening is not dictated by a toddler (and a soon-to-be newborn in five short weeks!) 🙂 But a lot of the restaurants listed here spill over into late night spots, anyway, so it’s a win-win in my mind – great food plus a great night all around.

Rosso
Leva
The Marc
Tres Carnales
Rostizado
Woodwork
North 53
The Common
Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar
Corso 32
Three Boars
Cibo Bistro
Bar Bricco
Dovetail Deli
Farrow Sandwich

Image: skating at City Hall via Explore Edmonton

I continue to learn and get excited about really cool, outdoor activities to take in throughout the winter months. Not knowing what these friends of my friend were into, I took a more broad approach in recommending holiday activities. You could call them more winter-friendly as opposed to holiday-specific, but a fresh white blanket of snow and some twinkling lights give me the warm holiday fuzzies any day!

River Valley Adventure Co – snow shoe tours through the river valley
Sleigh shuttle in Old Strathcona – five pick up locations throughout the area
Outdoor skating – various locations
Tobogganing – fun for adults and kids alike
Skiing – Edmonton Ski Club, Rabbit Hill, Snow Valley, Sunridge Ski Area
Cross-country skiing – various locations

Hope your week is off to a great start! xo

Kassey

// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

A Summer Recap

Yesterday started out as a rainy, September day, and it made me think “Hey, this would be a good time to reflect on how we spent our summer”. There’s no time like the present to share that with you, right?!

In short, it seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye, as the summer months tend to do. It was a busy one for us, but we managed to get away on a couple of small trips (pictures to follow below), enjoyed a lot of what was happening here in Edmonton, excitedly planned and celebrated my sister’s wedding (stay tuned for photos from the very talented Carmyn Joy), and all the while, I am growing baby #2. Surprise! Depending on whether you follow along on either my personal or blog Instagram accounts, you may have seen a few photos revealing a rapidly growing bump. We are SO excited to be expanding our family, and with another baby GIRL!!! This pregnancy has brought along its fair share of sickness and next-to-nothing energy levels, but thankfully I have left that behind in the first trimester and am happy to be feeling more like myself these days (save for a bad back).Life is going to get a whole lot girlier around here, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. January can’t come soon enough!

Back to the recap. Back in June, we took a trip down to Calgary for the annual Greek Festival that the community puts on. This trip was twofold – partly to perform with my Greek dance group and partly to have a little family getaway.

Here’s the dancing gang, Kyklos (that’s me in the top row, third from the left)

At the Calgary Zoo, trying to snap a picture with Thea before she runs away (something she loves doing nowadays)

Grabbing a coffee at the famously rich and satisfying Phil & Sebastian in Chinook Centre

We took the road down south again later on in the summer and spent August long weekend in Canmore. This was the first time I had spent actual, dedicated time in the town, and it didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love. It’s scenic, quaint, and has something for everyone. We can’t wait to go back, and perhaps experience what winter in the Rocky Mountains is like (mental note: sign the family up for skiing lessons first!)

While in Canmore, we hiked the Grassi Lakes trail which came highly recommended from a few friends. Despite not making it all the way to the top (thanks to my pregnant huffing and puffing!), we are so glad we did what we could. It was a scorcher of a day, so to conquer what we did was a pretty great feat! Here are some of the views we encountered along the way.

It was another great one for the books! We have said this more frequently in recent years, especially since starting a family of our own, but there’s something so cool and fulfilling when you can dive in and explore the gems within your own province; your own backyard, so to speak. And to think there’s so much more of this great province to uncover.

With summer officially behind us, I am ready to embrace the cooler temperatures and all of the beauty that fall brings. Oh, and Starbucks’ pumpkin scones 🙂

Happy Wednesday…xo

Summer Vacation…With Baby!

A couple of weeks ago, we took our very first family vacation with Theodora, and it was a success! Our travels took us down to Scottsdale, Arizona where we visited with aunts, uncles and cousins; some of which live there, and others who flew in from North Carolina and Texas. Those four days were packed and seemed to go by just as quickly as the trip snuck up on us, but it was all really enjoyable.

Here are a few photos of our time in Scottsdale. We were really fortunate in that my mom, dad and grandpa also made the trip down, so it was a big, fat, Greek family vacation of sorts – fun, eventful, and memorable! At the end of this post, I’ve also included a list and a few descriptions of what worked for us travelling with a little one.

The last time this crew of cousins assembled was three years ago, on the dance floor, at our wedding. So fun, and even more fun that we got to introduce them to Thea!

The last time this crew of cousins assembled was three years ago, on the dance floor, at our wedding. So fun, and even more fun that we got to introduce them to Thea!

Our first family photo! Seriously, we're really bad at finding someone to take a picture of all three of us, so we were really excited about this one!

Our first family photo! Seriously, we’re really bad at finding someone to take a picture of all three of us, so we were really excited about this one!

Grandparents, and great-grandpa too!

Grandparents, and great-grandpa too!

Travel Planning with Baby

First trip meant a first real flight for Theodora, and so we knew a bit lot of forethought was required. Here are a few things we considered in our planning and packing:

~ Flights
Fortunately, there are direct flights from Edmonton to Phoenix that just happened to align with our little one’s sleep times. While she was a little fussier on the way down (I think teething was partly to blame for this), the flight back departed Phoenix at 8:00 pm, and after a bit of being distracted and excited at the beginning of the flight, she slept the whole way home. Sweet dreams all around!

~ Take off and landing
Most of you with babies have probably already heard that to help alleviate some of the pressure on the ears, it’s a good idea to breast or bottle feed on take off and landing. In our case, this really helped, and specifically on the flight home, which was similar to her typical bed time routine, resulted in a cozy, three hour slumber.

~ Entertainment & Boredom Prevention
Lesson learned here – it’s a good idea to bring along a toy that is brand new and never-before-seen by your cute little bundle. Theodora is getting to the age, now, where some of her toys are becoming old news to her, especially when you have them on short rotations over the span of three hours! So, on a shopping trip to Nordstrom Rack, I picked up a toy cell phone that I hid until we were on the plane to come home. It was new and exciting for her, and kept her occupied until she fell asleep.

~ Gear: Feeding

Travel-friendly Feeding Gear

Counter clockwise: 1. Medella Harmony Manual Breast Pump, 2. Annabel Karmel Food Masher & Bowl, 3. Boon Squirt Spoon

Theodora is on solids now, and when we’re at home, I use my Baby Bullet. It isn’t the most practical gadget to bring along on a trip, though, so a combination of other smaller, travel-friendly pieces and caving into buying certain baby foods got us through the four days. I found it very handy to have my manual breast pump (pictured above) as I like to mix her cereals and other foods with breast milk as opposed to water. If I couldn’t pump conveniently and privately, I just used bottled or tap water, and whenever possible, I boiled it. The bowl and masher has also proven it’s worth in our house. I often use it at home, and make sure to throw it in my baby bag when we’re heading out, too, as it’s easy, compact, and you can mash a variety of fruits and vegatables. Lastly, and possibly my favourite among all of these is the Boon Squirt Spoon. Minimal mess and pretty error proof, this has a permanent spot in my baby bag, and as long as I have it filled with iron-fortified cereal, Thea will always have a healthy snack on the ready. Pour in a bit of breast milk/formula or water, give it a stir or shake, and squirt. It’s that easy!

When it came to buying baby food, I was hesitant at first, but convenience and the need to provide a bit more variety for Thea won. We ended up buying a few of those squish packs and used them sparingly, but Thea seemed to enjoy them.

~ Gear: Clothing
The desert heat that Arizona is famous for was something I was a bit nervous about. We knew we wouldn’t be spending a whole lot of time outside, but I was also thinking about the drastic temperature change from outside to the air-conditioned indoors. In addition to the basics, I always made sure to have a light sweater in our bag for Thea. Four days didn’t require us to pack all that much, and if there was anything we forgot, it was a good excuse to go shopping!

~ Gear: Products
Similar to clothing, we knew that if there were any products we forgot, we could easily buy them from a grocery or local drug store. For those emergency types of items, however, it was reassuring to have a little “cosmetics bag” for Thea, which consisted of things like infant tylenol, nail trimmer (this one by Zoli is a God send!), thermometer, brush/comb, Vitamin D drops, and sunscreen.

Diapers were a perfect example of something you just stock up on once you arrive. We packed enough to last us (and then some) for the time we would be at the airport and the actual flying time, and then just made a trip to Target once we had settled into our hotel.

Since coming home, I have come across a couple of other resources that I will definitely refer to next time we take a trip. Caz shares 17 Tips for Flying With Kids over on her blog, and I really liked her idea of a bag of goodies – perfect for trips longer than a three hour flight! I have a feeling that packing will only become more challenging as Thea gets older and more particular with her outfits, so I will be looking to Joy’s tips on packing for a family trip. If Thea ends up loving clothes even half as much as I do, we’re in trouble…

I hope this was helpful, and if you have any tips or suggestions you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear them!

xo,
Kassey

Holiday!

We’re off on a little holiday to sunny Arizona, and this marks our first official family vacation! I’m looking forward to some time away, catching up with family, and the adventure of travelling with a little one.

I hope you all have a great week, and I’ll be sure to share some stories and photos upon our return.

xo,
Kassey

Summer!

Summer is officially here, and living in such a northern urban centre has reminded me of how longingly we await these summer days and nights. These next few months translate to patio time, enjoying our beautiful parks, and a general appreciation for all things that take us outside to soak in the Vitamin D.


Photo: Paradise Hotel, Alonissos, Greece

While we won’t be travelling to the dreamy destination above, we do have a short little vacation down to Phoenix planned for next month. We’re really excited to be taking our first vacation as a family of three, and of course, to see little Thea in her myriad of cute little bathing suits.

Whether your summer plans are taking you to faraway, exotic places or allowing you to explore and become tourists in your own city, I’d love to hear about them!

Also…a while ago, I wrote a brief post on the up-and-coming Edmonton boutique, Harlow. I recently had the opportunity to learn more about this modern gift shop, and you can too by checking out my detailed post over at City and Dale Continue reading