winter is coming

red deer snow alberta

Chris and I spent (Canadian!) Thanksgiving in Red Deer, Alberta. We returned a couple weeks ago to a gorgeous, crisp, fall day in Vancouver, BC. That night, a 72-hour wind and rain storm started.

It seems that was the end of the sunny autumn days where the leaves change and there are still bright colours around. Now it’s just grey and rainy, and it’ll probably stay this way until next June.

Which means I can legitimately start hibernating for the season.

Books I’m reading / planning to read:

  • Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire. Because I feel like mine usually is.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot. Another one I’m late to join the wagon on.
  • 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami. I’m about a third of the way through this one… So far it’s a little like a Japanese version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in that I’m pretty sure it’s some a guy writing about his ideal girl who has an (I’m just going to go ahead and say it) unconventional thing for older, heavyset, balding, writer dudes. Unlike The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this book is actually readable. I might even be enjoying it.

Cookies I’m planning to bake:

  • Ginger molasses cookies. Spicy, chewy, with all the best fall flavours.
  • Speculaas, because speculaas.
  • Shortbread, probably dipped in caramel and chocolate. ‘Tis the season.
  • Sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes. Chris and I made these Halloween ones with his niece and nephew in Red Deer, and I’ve been craving them ever since.

halloween sugar cookies

Happy hibernation, friends.

a week in the life


This week on the Whole Life Challenge (yeah, I’m doing it again), the lifestyle component of the challenge is to not use social media. I got a panicked text from my friend when they first announced it. She was capital-letters-absolutely NOT doing it. How was she going to get her news without Twitter?

I think she was looking for some commiseration.

My reply was “I think this is fantastic.”


It’s also very difficult. My fingers seem to automatically type in “fa” into an internet browser when my brain is idling. Google autofills in the rest for me.

I don’t need to be checking Facebook. I also don’t really care about what’s on it. It’s just a terrible mindless habit.

I have four jobs and school and I don’t need to be wasting time exercising my pointer fingers and developing eye strain. Instead, I could be using that time to make chocolate macarons filled with creamy, rich ganache.


The only French macaron recipe I am brave enough to use is here, and my recipe for ganache is here.

This time I separated my ganache into four bowls. I left one plain chocolate, added a few drops of orange extract to one, a few drops of mint extract to another, and about half a teaspoon of Mexican chili powder to the last. I suggest you do the same. The best part is that you can’t tell until you bite into them which is which.

I live for the littlest surprises.

Tofino on a budget

ucluelet british columbia black bear

Visiting Tofino, British Columbia on a budget is simple: go to Ucluelet.

tofino british columbia cox bay surfers

All (or, at least, most) jokes aside, it can be possible to visit Tofino without spending a ton of money.

ucluelet british columbia thornton creek hatchery

Where to Stay

The cheapest Tofino hotel or motel that I could find online was  $200/night. I then checked AirBnB and found an awesome little guest house about a 15-minute walk from the main boardwalk for about $90/night (plus taxes the AirBnB fees).

Check both AirBnB and VRBO for options – they’re great resources for a cheaper stay.

(If you’re spending time in Victoria, I also can’t say enough good things about this place!)

Where to Eat

We bought groceries in Victoria (the Co-op Grocery Store in Tofino is expensive and doesn’t have a great selection) and ate most of our meals picnic-style on the beach or while hiking.

When we did eat out, we loved Redcan Gourmet for fancy picnic dinners (mac and cheese! pizza!), Wildside Grill for amazing burgers (and a 10% off voucher for Chocolate Tofino, which had incredible homemade ice cream), and the Tacofino Food Truck (and yes, it’s exactly the same food that you get from the Vancouver truck).

We also had daily doughnuts from Rhino Coffee House. They’re worth it.

If you’re on your way to or from the ferry, I highly recommend a stop at Bread & Honey Food Co. in Parksville. Their fried chicken sandwich was amazing.

hot chocolate

What to Do

cox bay tofino british columbia surfers

Surfing is the obvious choice in Tofino, and I saw a couple Social Shopper deals for gear rentals around Tofino.

Hiking is always a go-to, and the Wild Pacific Trail was beautiful (though technically in Ucluelet).

We did end up splurging on a nighttime kayak tour to see the bioluminescence with Paddle West Kayaking – though possible to see for free on your own, the Tofino light pollution makes it difficult unless you can get somewhere out of town that the right currents hit.

We saved on the bear watching tour by heading back to Ucluelet (I wasn’t kidding when I said visit Ucluelet instead) to go to Thornton Creek Hatchery. For a suggested $10-20 donation, we saw a bear almost immediately, and spent an hour learning about aquaculture from the super friendly guys working there. We also watched a seal herd a bunch of salmon from the lake up the creek (that’s the nice way of putting it).

If you’re set on bear (or whale) watching from a boat, keep an eye on the Tofino Times local newsletter, available in most coffee shops in the area. Jamie’s Whaling Station had coupons for $20 off all boat tours, and another company offered $10 off.

black bear at thornton creek hatchery ucluelet british columbia canada

What to Bring

This section is mostly to remind myself if I ever go back. Tofino was colder in early September than I thought it would be, so next time I’d bring extra sweatpants, a toque, gloves, and a thermos.

thornton creek hatchery view bear silhouette

Do you have suggestions for a budget-friendly trip to Tofino? Send me a note or leave a comment!

perpetuating the problem


I was on Facebook the other day (by which I mean I was on Facebook the other day with a purpose, because let’s face it, I aimlessly meander around Facebook most days) and I was looking through a friend’s posts to see if I could track down her boyfriend, because he’s a comedian and I was thinking about seeing if he’d be interested in performing at an event I’m putting together.

The specifics of that weren’t really relevant. I apologize for the 3.7 seconds you just wasted.


Anyway, I scrolled all the way back through her existing posts trying to figure out how to spell her boyfriend’s last name, and realized that in the last four months she hadn’t posted about him at all.

…Did they break up?


I realize that it’s this mentality that drives millennials to post about their significant others an average of 23 times a week. If Facebook and Instagram aren’t full of pictures of us adventuring in some forest and eating Lebanese food and staring lovingly into each others’ eyes, his stalker might think he’s single and then she might reach out to him and then my life might spiral out of control. It’s just… Who’s got time for that much posting?


And, really, who’s got the stomach for that much Lebanese food?

cranberry blueberry crumble bars

Luckily, I’m pretty sure that as long as I keep baking these berry crumble bars, he’ll stick around.

Berry Crumble Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.



  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup butter


  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse all crust ingredients until mixed and the largest chunk of butter left is about the size of a pea.
  3. Take two cups of crust mixture and set aside. Press the rest into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake for about 13-15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, stir together all the filling ingredients. Make sure the berries are evenly coated.
  5. When the crust is done, pour the filling on top and spread it across evenly. Then top with the reserved crust mixture.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling through the crust and the top crumble is brown.
  7. Let cool before cutting into squares and serving.

two months ago I went to Montreal

…and then I didn’t write about it, because I am a champion procrastinator.

But! In the spirit of better late than never, here are my recommendations:

  • Cafe Regine, for such an incredible brunch that we went back two days in a row
  • Maison Christian Faure, for all the fanciest of the fancy treats at a surprisingly reasonable price
  • St. Viateur bagels (my preference over the also-delicious-just-not-as-delicious Fairmount Bagels, though I suppose you should visit both and decide for yourself)
  • Trapezium, to work off all the pastries and bagels.

one thing at a time


So, I know I was all like, “I’m back on track! I’m going to post all the time again!” …And then you didn’t hear from me for a month.

I’m sorry.


It turns out that when you have two jobs and circus training and friends and a relationship and school, and then you temporarily take away school, you still have two jobs and circus training and friends and a relationship.

Also, there’s a half-finished 2000-piece puzzle that’s covering the only table in my house (you may have seen it here), because apparently when I was at the games store, I was worried that a 1000-piece puzzle wouldn’t be challenging enough. Now I have to force myself to connect at least two pieces every time I walk by.

I do not have a ton of extra time kicking around.


There’s also that I’m still Whole-Life-Challenging, which means that my usual stress-inspired baking is more or less on hold. The Whole Life Challenge does, however, mean that I’ve discovered that amazing desserts don’t always have to be unhealthy. By which I mean I refuse to give up dessert entirely, so I’ve crowd-sourced ideas for my own gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free versions.

(Let’s also conveniently ignore the fact that I used an indulgence point on a pint of ice cream last night… A pint is a serving, right?)


Anyway, I’ve been avoiding avocado chocolate pudding for years, because it sounds disgusting. I’m glad I finally sucked it up and tried it though, because it’s amazing. The texture is just like pudding, and the chocolate is strong enough to cover up both the avocado and the date flavours (neither of which I like in my desserts). I swear by this pudding.

You should try it.


Chocolate Avocado Pudding


  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 4 dates (use the soft mushy kind)
  • 1/3 cup canned, full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Blend.
  2. Eat.

Note: This is best served cold, with berries or cherries on top.

we now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming…

…Oh wait. I haven’t been regularly scheduling programming. I have a few posts about 95% ready to go – they have been for about a month.

I’ll get there, I promise.

In the meantime, this is what I’ve been up to.

Photos taken at West Coast Flying Trapeze by the incredible Upsidedown Photography.