Transformed Landscape



It always amazes me.  You think at some point it wouldn’t, but still it does.  The way that first big snowfall transforms the landscape.

Not so very long ago, Winnipeg looked like this:

Then…

On Monday evening, as Winnipegers tucked off to bed, weather forcasts warned us to prepare for the first big snowfall of the season.

By the time I woke up on Tuesday, the wind was howling, the snow was blowing and it was already deep enough to be causing all sorts of traffic troubles.

I decided to take a bus to work. I just didn’t want to deal with the stress of maneuvering my vehicle through fresh snowdrifts, and around other vehicles.

I knew I’d made the right decision when I got to work early and without any white-knuckle driving.

On my way home after work, though, the bus got stuck in a snowdrift at an intersection. Yes, the enormous 60 foot city bus, completely stuck. The traffic behind it was backed up. In the other lanes, car tires were spinning, but not much was moving.

So, I bundled up, got off the bus, and walked the rest of the way home through the hard blowing snow that was now knee deep.

Truth is, once I got going, it felt like an adventure.  It was quite fun, and a lot of exercise to boot – several kilometres, for sure.

At some point, I couldn’t resist the idea of taking a picture. It was kind of silly because my phone was getting all wet and my fingers were numb, but I was having such a great time, I hardly noticed.

Now, it’s already Wednesday, and the snow finally let up late this afternoon.

I took a lot of pics, so I am sharing a few of them with you  here today. There are a few more below, too.  Hope you enjoy.

In the meantime, I am off to bed.  The last two days of walking and commuting in the storm have left me ready for a good winter’s nap.



Thanks for popping by!  Feel free to subscribe (see the menu above) if you’d like the latest posts delivered to your email.  Take care friends!

On The Map

Picture shared by reader Julia Davi.
Picture shared by reader Julia Davi.

If you are a bit of an explorer at heart, you might find this interesting.

A while back, I read something about Winnipeg, Manitoba that really surprised me.  And, at the same time, it didn’t.  Winnipeg, nick-named “The Peg”, is the unique and interesting place I have come to call home for more than two decades.  I have been wanting to write a post on The Peg for a while, and when I read the big news, I knew it was time.

A Little Background…

Now, before I get to the news, there is something you need to understand about Winterpeg (That’s our other popular nick-name. With our record low winter temperature being -47.8C before the wind-chill, you can easily guess why.  In all fairness, we rarely get anywhere near that cold!).  People have a tendency to complain about, or at least poke good-natured fun at this place. It’s too cold, there is too much snow in the winter, the drivers are bad, too many mosquitoes in the summer…

If you don’t believe me, check out this hit song, actually titled, “I Hate Winnipeg” (written and performed by a popular Winnipeg band), this Simpson’s clip that was often played on one of our networks, or this commercial (it’s a chuckle).

The Weekday Off

I’ll admit that I have certainly complained at times, especially when I’ve had to drive to work in a blizzard.  Or when my garage door froze shut and I was almost late for work. But I digress…

Overall, there are many wonderful things about Winnipeg.  One just has to learn to see them.  In fact, I have come to see Winnipeg as “a weekday off”. Let me explain.

When I was in university, my summer employment often found me working on the weekends and having Monday and Tuesday off.  Some people didn’t like that schedule, but I saw it differently.  Sure, it wasn’t “The Weekend”, but there were many unexpected advantages to a weekday off.  It was easy to make appointments and run errands, and there was always a choice spot wherever I went… be it a provincial beach or a city café!  In time, I came to love, in some ways, even prefer the “weekdays off”.

And that is the perspective I try to share when we all start getting down on Winnipeg.  It’s a week-day off. If you look at it from the right perspective, Winnipeg has many unexpected advantages, and is a wonderful place with much to offer.

So what’s the big news I recently read?….

Lots of clean, natural beaches in Manitoba. Sometimes, you get a whole beach to yourself!
Lots of clean, natural beaches in Manitoba. Sometimes, you get a whole beach to yourself! My son took this picture.
Picture by Julia Davi.
Picture by Julia Davi.

The Big News

Well, you can imagine what an unexpected and pleasant surprise it was to read that Winnipeg has been named, by non other than the National Geographic Traveler, as being one of the top 20 cities to visit in the world!  Top 20 – On the same list as some pretty amazing places, like the last remaining Himalayan Buddhist kingdom; an island in the South Atlantic Ocean that is full of penguins; one of France’s finest vineyards; even places like Bermuda, and New York city.  I won’t go through all 20 places named, but feel free to check it out for yourself. (Here’s a link to the web-site edition… though I still want to read the print edition for the full article.)

Now, when the conversation starts to turn towards the obvious difficulties of living in this climate and city, I remind us: Hey, we’ve been named one of the top 20 cities in the world to visit.  And people pause, smile and nod in agreement.  That’s true, they say.

The National Geographic Traveler has given my positive perspective a lot of credibility.

By now you might be asking, Okay… so what are some of these cool things about The Peg?

Here is a quick list.   Just some of the reasons why Winnipeg is kind of an awesome place (to visit, and yes… to live!):

The serene butterfly sanctuary at the Assiniboine Zoo.
The serene butterfly sanctuary at the Assiniboine Zoo.
  • We have wonderful restaurants with authentic cuisine from all over the world.
  • A world-class zoo, the oldest ballet company in Canada, a vibrant arts community, interesting galleries and museums- including the new National Museum of Human Rights.
My son took this picture on a beach that was almost deserted late one morning.
My son took this picture on a quiet beach that was almost deserted late one morning.
  • Many beaches within easy driving distance of the city. In fact, Grand Beach has been listed among the Top Ten Beaches of North America.
  • Lots of beautiful parks and trees, and the Forks (The place where our two rivers meet, The Forks has a children’s theatre, and is full of shops, galleries, restaurants, cafés, and special events – both indoors and out).
  • We have the longest ice skating river trail in the world (at 8.5 km), and a popular winter festival (Le Festival Du Voyageur), as well as many other festivals, many of which take place in the summer.

image

  • We are a diversely multicultural city, and also a distinctly bilingual city, with celebrated vibrant French communities amongst the English majority.
  • We have the typical cold, snowy prairie winters.   It may not be easy, but if we look at it objectively, it’s an interesting experience.  That fluffy white snow is rather magical, if you dress for the weather.  One can also try winter sports, or stay inside feeling super cozy and warm.  Bonus:  Bragging rights for being tough enough for the Manitoba winters!
  • We also have beautiful, sunny, hot summers, and fleetingly colourful autumns.
Natural beauty year-round, as seen in the summer. Picture by Julia Davi.
Natural beauty year-round, as seen in the summer. Picture by Julia Davi.
  • The city is surrounded by cool towns such as Gimli (one hour away), provincial parks, and a national park only 3 hours away.  There are lovely farm fields all around, and lots of nature to be seen, all within easy driving distance.

image

The water-break near winnipeg Beach.
The water-break near winnipeg Beach.
  • If you are really adventurous (and don’t mind spending a bit of money), you can take a trip to visit Churchill, and see real-live polar bears and beluga whales in their natural habitat.
  • The house prices and cost of living are still relatively low!  This means that one can have quite a high quality of life on an average income.
  • The provincial slogan for our license plate is “Friendly Manitoba”, and most of us really are.
A unique winter experience
A unique winter experience

On top of everything, there are some interesting facts about this city.  Did you know that Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg?  Or that the character of Bond, yes… James bond was probably inspired by a real-live Winnipegger?  Ditto for Snow White.

That’s not all…  Just for fun, click here or here to find out more.

Sure, going to the Caribbean to soak up some sun does seem like a top choice for a vacation, you won’t get any argument from me.  But still…  Winnipeg is an interesting place for the brave hearts!  How exciting that our square “Peg” has made the top 20s in this round world!

Do you have an unusual or little known favourite destination?

Thanks for stopping by!

Photo by Julia Davi.
Photo by Julia Davi.
There are many city parks where to exercise and enjoy urban nature.
There are many city parks where to exercise and enjoy urban nature.

Where Do Snowmen Go At Night?

Post written by Carina Spring. 

Have you ever built a snowmen?  We haven’t built too many, but my son and I made one in our backyard this winter.  As you can see, our snowman wound up with an unintentional foreign flair.

Since then, we’ve had a few warm spells and then some light snow falls. Let’s just say that it’s best you only see the “before” picture – he is no longer in his prime.

Our neighbourhood seems to be full of snowmen this season.  Some are quite impressive – really big and colourful! Even after the weather challenges these Frosties have faced, a few of them are still smiling!

When my son was little, I used to read him a book called “Where Do Snowmen Go at Night?”  It was written in rhyme, a child’s humorous speculations about why snowmen look so melted and tired by the next morning. It was cute, and  quite hilarious.  I recommend it if you have kids!  Heck, it’s fun for adults, too! 😉

Do you have any favourite children’s books?  (From your childhood, or  your kids)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Post written by Carina Spring.

Canadian winters. What an experience. Do you like winter?  How do you survive it?

I was listening to CBC recently and a guest speaker was talking about the possibility of making downtown ice trails so that people could skate to work.  He made an interesting point: Winter cities live in freezing conditions for many months of the year. Why focus on the 10 days that are really, really unbearable?  Instead, focus on getting outside and embracing the season.  I couldn’t agree more!

There was a time in history when people enjoyed winter. Regular winter festivals were the norm, people bundled up and walked outside, played outside, and just all around made the best of the season.

I know winter can be hard, and driving in it is the worst part for me. But enjoying the season is a mind-set. If one dresses for the cold, and I mean REALLY dress for it, it is fun to be outside. The quality of light, the crisp, cold air, the brilliance of the snow. It’s invigorating and magical!

Okay, when it gets ridiculously cold (for me, that is when the temp goes below -32 C with a windchill) it can be too much. But normally, it isn’t that bad. When it is, I try to get cozy and kind of hibernate. Wait till the cold snap breaks.

Anyhow, here’s to winter and making the best of it. The way I see it, if I’m going to live somewhere this cold, I might as well really experience it. There are many people in the world who will never know the joy of walking in the picturesque beauty after a fresh snow-fall. Lucky us!

btw I snapped the picture with my cell phone camera on my way home from work. I was not dressed for it so I could barely hold on to the camera. My point? I will make the best of winter, but will LOVE summer when it comes! 😉

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, just in case it’s too cold for you to go outside, here are a few versions of that song to keep you smiling!  Take your pick.

I had no idea that Lady Gaga had done a version of this song!

Have you heard this version?  It’s a classic.

Or this one?

Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com, I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

 

DIY Lamp: So Easy and Unique!

We were having a really hard time taking down our Christmas lights this year.  The Christmas tree was no problem. We keep it in the family room at the back and we took it down early in January.

But our living room-dining room was a different story. This year I had tried something new. I lit these rooms up whimsically with Christmas lights throughout. At the window, I carefully designed a Christmas tree out of lights. It looked so nice that various guests were surprised when they came in to see that it was not a real tree – just a beautiful, 2-d light structure.

The problem was, none of us wanted to take the lights down. They created such a magical, cozy effect. Then, I saw this idea for a DIY lamp.  I took down all of the lights, and filled a tall glass vase with a string of lights. So easy! Our multicoloured lamp looks cozy and joyful in our living room. (See picture)

The great thing about this lamp is that you can choose one colour of light to create the feeling you want, and coordinate with your decor.  I simply used the lights I had, but there are many ways to apply this idea to your space and needs. (Consider the possibilities:  Red lights for a special Valentine dinner, white lights for an elegant year-round look…)

My son was initially pretty bummed out when I took down our Christmas lights, but after a couple of hours he said the lamp was growing on him. “Actually, it’s pretty charming. Like a star jar.”

12 Quotes and Some Reflection for Living Well All Year Round.

Welcome to The New Year!

Image used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

2014 is almost over and I can hardly believe that the calendar will read 2015. That sounds like I am living in the future.

Time passes, and current events that were a big part of our life, like the turn of the millenium, suddenly become part of a distant history. Technology moves us along even faster.

The internet has changed the world so quickly; I remember when they brought email into our workplace in the second year of my career (16 years ago). Now, I am sure that most North American children can’t even conceive of a world without their IPods and X-Boxes.  

This all makes me sound very old, but I am not. I am 42. Hey, I still see that as relatively young.

The world today moves so fast, and sometimes it seems to be in such a mess. Yet, it can also be so beautiful, and acts of hope and kindness are everywhere. Life is hard, and demanding, and sad. Life is joyful, wondrous and beautiful. Success, failure. All of it. That struggle is life itself.

A Time for Renewal

So we celebrate New Year as way of wiping the slate clean. It’s a way of saying “let’s all agree to pause now”, to process what has happened in the last year, so we can start again with renewed enthusiasm, courage and optimism.  A new beginning, when all our experiences are hopefully elevated into lessons that arm us with wisdom and strength for the upcoming year.

Time Flies

New Year reminds us that time is passing. Time is finite, and we better get to the business of living well. Let go of worries, of petty gripes, of fears. Enjoy the moment. Celebrate the joys in life, the successes – no matter how small – take them in. Be kind to ourselves and be kind to others, not just humans, but other species, too. Forgive ourselves and forgive others. Think less; don’t overanalyze.  Think more; act mindfully.

We are all just doing our best. Remember that when you want to lose patience with the cashier or the person driving slowly in the fast lane.  You don’t know what they might be going through.

If we keep trying and don’t give up, our efforts will amount to something – to positive change for us and for the planet.

Finding Wisdom

Here are 12 of my favourite quotes from a book called “Wisdom”, by Andrew Zuckerman. The quotes are about life, in general. “Wisdom” is a big, beautiful book filled with interesting ideas and advice, shared by accomplished and famous senior citizens. It’s a book that reminds us that age brings a deeper understanding of life.

Maybe listening to the wisdom of those who have lived a long time is one way to hear, in the words of Bernice Johnson Reagon, “…the part of the universe that continues after we are gone.”

12 Quotes for the New Year: Words of Wisdom.

“Don’t take yourself so seriously” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

“Life is not perfect; it never will be. You just have to make the very best of it and you have to open your heart to what the world can show you. Sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s incredibly beautiful. And I’ll take both, thanks.” ~Graham Nash

“Following the seasons is very important, to follow the seasons as they come and to enjoy the food as it is. Small portions, simply prepared” … “Cook with love. Sit down around the table and share food with your children and your family.” ~Jacques Pepin

“I’m curious about life, period.” ~Graham Nash

“…Where people of goodwill get together and transcend their differences for the common good, peaceful and just solutions can be found even for those problems which seem most intractable.” ~Nelson Mandela

“The heart is what matters most. The act of compassion, of being able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes…” ~ Kris Kristofferson

“People have always said of my whole life… “You are too kind, Bryce.” Well … (being) pleasant and nice- you’re going to be conned, absolutely, for sure – but in the long run, over seventy-five years, it’s a better journey and in the end you win more. In hard fact you actually win more: you win more friends, you win more opportunities, you win more life, you win more joy, you win more character.” ~Bryce Courtenay

“Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there.” ~Willie Nelson

“We are in a culture that asks for that quick assessment. I have students sometimes that say, “I like hearing Harriet Tubman better than Sojourner Truth.” And I say, “They’re both dead, and you can have them both. Why are you going to pick one?” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

“Exercise is very important to my mental well-being.” ~Madeleine Albright

“…just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.” ~Chuck Close

“I don’t want you to compromise, but be careful. It’s your life you are living and nobody else’s. Find out who you are and find out what you really believe in.”… I got this incredible advice, to watch out very carefully and find out where I felt myself attracted and where I felt myself uncomfortable. I think this is what we can call on to approach wisdom: that your experiences of bad things, of good things, of your own mistakes, of your shame… if you have built up knowledge about yourself, you get to have not only dreams, but visions.”       ~Kurt Masur on the advice given to him by his father.

ALL THE BEST IN 2015!!!

homehurrah.com

 Comfort ~ Inspiration ~ Ideas

homehurrah.com homehurrah.com homehurrah.com

        

Winter Solstice and The Changing Seasons

Image used with permission and gratitude: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

 

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

~ Edith Sitwell

Yesterday was the longest night of the year: December 21, the winter solstice. Now, almost imperceptibly, like the hands that mark the hour on a clock, the days begin to lengthen once more.  Suddenly, I will notice that it’s 7:00 pm and the sun is shining through a window that only sees direct sunlight in the spring and summer months. That is one of my favourite moments. No matter what home I’ve lived in, I’ve always watched for the sun shining through that window; the window that tells me spring has almost come.

Spring has always been my favourite season. In the city, it is hard to remember just how magical it is. But if you are out in the country, watching spring arrive is one of the most incredible experiences. Still, I appreciate every season for different reasons, and living in the north, one gets to witness the incredible range of temperatures and landscapes that share and transform the same terrain.

There is something special about the winter solstice; a time when the darkness of our surroundings can bring out the light within us, our imaginations.

We light candles and fireplaces, we illuminate our homes with Christmas lights, and turn on the warm glow of our lamps. The moon brightens the nights.

On the longest night of all, the magic and the mystery of the darkness arrive with the promise of longer days to come. It is a hopeful time, a time when we realize we might as well embrace the darkness, and cozy up into the comfort of our homes, for there is no changing the seasons.

Soon, the days will lengthen, and our activities and energies will reflect that cycle.

But now it is the start of winter. The landscape outside my window today looks colourless and gray. Behind those clouds though is a bright blue sky that will shine at another hour.

I will play in the backyard with my son this afternoon, and we will enjoy some fresh air together. I will embrace the holidays, the time with loved ones – and the changing seasons of life will comfort me like the return of an old friend.

homehurrah.com

 Comfort ~ Inspiration ~ Ideas

homehurrah.com homehurrah.com homehurrah.com

Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com, I can’t wait to share my next post with you.

 

Ideas on How to Simplify Christmas

So Many Reasons to Love  December

I love December! The charmed month that brings the longest night of the year, and the promise of longer days ahead. It brings twinkling lights and sparkling snow, walks in the fresh northern air, the smell of pine, the brilliant blue winter skies. It means time spent with friends and family, the wonderful aromas of delicious food and tasty wine.   When I assess what it is that I find so magical about December, I realize it has very little to do with shopping, or receiving material gifts. The things that make this month magical for me have everything to do with spending time with loved ones, and savouring life.

How to Enjoy the Holidays… Your Way.

With all of the pressure to buy, spend, out-do and out-decorate, though, we sometimes wind up feeling more stress than joy.  It is important to remember that we have the choice to make changes, and create a simpler season for ourselves.  The key is to make decisions that are right for you and your family, based on what you want your Christmas to be, not the expectations dictated by a commercially driven holiday.  

Simple Ideas for a Simpler Christmas

Our family tries to keep things pretty simple at Christmas, but we enjoy celebrating together and doing some sort of gift exchange. Everyone always buys presents for the children, though we try not to over do it.  However, we tend to be quite minimalist with the adult gift exchange.  Some years, we pick names and only buy for that one person.  This means that we can put more thought into the gift.  Also, my husband and I don’t always buy each other presents, or we keep the gifts small, fun, or really wanted (Example: I love books, but rarely spurge on them for myself – I just use the library.  So, at Christmas, my husband will often buy me a book he knows I love).   When deciding on gifts, remember that unique and creative gifts are often way better than the latest and greatest piece of plastic.    Another way we simplify is that we reuse gift bags and decorations… I am still using the artificial tree and the ornaments from my childhood!  My son loves it, and putting up that old tree has become  quite a family tradition.

How Would You Like to Spend This Christmas?

Early in December is a good time to reflect on how we’d like to see the season unfold. Ask yourself: How would you like to spend your time this December? What makes this month special for you?   Make a list, and prioratize – identify which activities are most important to you.  Then, remember the list when planning your engagements and gift exchanges for the season.  You can’t say yes to everything, so use the list to help guide your choices.  If necessary, consider making a few changes to how you’ll approach the holidays this year.  As my mom always says, “There are a lot of stops between everything and nothing.”  Small changes can make a difference.

Enjoy Christmas and December, too.

Celebrating a simpler Christmas keeps December from becoming a frantic month, and it gives you the opportunity to really enjoy the activities of the season.    It has been a win-win for us:  less packaging, less shopping, less pressure, less waste, more time to do the things that matter, more time to spend with the people who we love, more money in the bank or contributed to a charity, more contemplation and more health.

homehurrah.com

Home, Life, and Living.

homehurrah.com homehurrah.com homehurrah.com

So here’s to December.  In an imperfect world, and with all it’s challenges, may it still sparkle with some sincere joy.  Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com.  I can’t wait to share my next post with you!