I swear, I haven't been hiding! Just busy! Here's what's making November a happy month for me.
I swear, I haven't been living under a rock somewhere! Life has just been busy, but in a really good way. Here's what I've been up to since mid-October.
Traveling to Pembroke.
Have you ever heard of Pembroke, Ontario? It's a beautiful town just a few hours outside of Ottawa and I was so lucky to travel there in late October, just as the autumn colors were starting to fade, to take part in the Ontario Highlands Tourism Summit.
The Ontario Highlands holds a very special place in my heart, as it was the destination for one of my favourite girls' trips (snowshoeing! dog sledding! art! food!). I loved meeting so many inspiring small businesses in the travel/tourism sector and presenting to many of them on using Instagram.
A Halloween Hoot.
We turned our garage into a haunted house for Halloween! Granted, the only truly scary thing was how much of our treats we were eating ourselves, but we had so much fun getting into the "spirit" of things. (Spirit! Get it?!) And there was that one kid who said our garage looked like the underworld. We'll take that as a compliment. Yes, that is me, dressed up as Tigger from Winnie The Pooh.
Bonding With Books.
A combination of good deals at the annual Rockcliffe Book Fair and my pre-winter nesting instinct has had me reaching for books old and new. I'm really interested in Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness" books and I'm finally catching up on some novels that have been on my wish list for years. Major Pettigrew was a winner!
... and (kinda) killing cable....
I don't know about everyone else, but I get a bit annoyed whenever I read an article along the lines of "I saved 8 million dollars to travel around the world and all I had to do was give up cable TV", with the implication that you too could live a life of unrestricted luxury travel, if only you weren't so darned devoted to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
I think it was this tone that prevented me from chopping our cable package a long time ago. And I kinda love TV. I love watching the news and documentaries. I love the cooking shows. And, yes, I often love the somewhat embarrassing shows too. (Shoutout to all the Return To Amish fans!) It's a source of frugal fun for us and we often PVR old movies and save them for at-home date nights.
But once a year or so we try to re-evaluate all our bills from service providers. And this time round, we took a long hard look at things and admitted to ourselves that we were paying for A LOT of channels that we just never watched. And so we cut back to the basic package, just a handful of channels, and in doing so we saved a handful of cash. Not round-the-world on a yacht cash, but maybe more cafes and bookstores cash and that works for me.
The Art of Nesting.
I love home and travel in equal measure. When I'm home for extended periods of time, I long for the open road and pass the time by reorganizing my travel gear. (All the cool kids do it). And when I'm on the road for an extended period of time, I yearn for my fuzzy pajamas, my own bed, my deep bathtub. It may be a contradictory way of thinking, but I love the balance it brings to my life.
And right now I'm in a home phase. The spring, summer, and early autumn of 2015 were very busy travel periods and I'm enjoying having some time at home - and, of course, dreaming of our next trips! And maybe it's the influence of Rubin's books, but I've been on an cleaning, reorganizing, and decluttering spree. And it's been exquisite!
I really should have taken before-and-after shots of all the closets in my house that have been scrubbed out and made over, but I did get a few in-progress shots of my office. That cool carved wooden chair you see came back with me when I left Malawi - I traded the trousers I was wearing to help seal the bargain! But it's nothing - nothing! - to the awesomeness that is the nearly scrubbed out basement closet now holding all our holiday decoration boxes.
Home is a pretty great place to be.
How beautiful are these charming little birds? They are handmade "dream birds" and they are destined to be carefully tied on my backyard lilac tree come spring - though right now I'm happy that they're staying safe and keeping watch with my other animal friends.
My dream birds were a lovely and unexpected gift from Nova Scotia artist Shauna MacLeod of Black Crow Pottery in Nova Scotia. I first discovered Shauna's work when it was staring right at me during a visit to the Historical Gardens of Annapolis Royal. Her dream birds are part of an art installment at the garden and I just fell in love with these fine feathered friends hidden among the trees. You can see more of her stunning work here.
Class & Sass at Clear The Room.
If there is one thing I've taken away from every trip and every destination, it's that we all have a story and, when they're shared, you realize that people everywhere are very much the same. We all have the same hopes, fears, worries, hope and we all want the same for our families, friends, and community.
This message was reinforced to me once again in an unexpected setting -a cocktail party! Ryan and I were so fortunate to be invited to the Clear The Room event honoring causes that people don't always like to talk about. Sometimes health issues and social issues, such as child abuse and incontinence, aren't the easiest or most comfortable things to talk about but they are a part of so many people's stories and there can be so much joy in sharing them.
And there was plenty of joy at Clear The Room! We had an amazing time hamming it up with our friend Sandy from Canadian Blog House and it was so exciting to get dressed up and attend a smart party. And it was great to feel all the positive energy in the air.
Standout Social Media.
Did you know there's another side to my life beyond travel and writing? I have my own business too! Sculpt Social creates content and strategies that connects people to their clients, to the web, and to each other and we help small businesses with everything from social media audits to web design to monthly social media management.
And business has been busy lately - in a really good way! We're' redesigning our website, quadrupling the number of packages we offer, and offering a huge year-end sale on some of our most popular bundles. It's an awesome, exciting time!
Still not sure what exactly it is what I do? Let me explain!
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The Perfect PEI Road Trip Travel Plan.
My Favourite Churches in London.
Fighting off Wild Boar (or, why I love my headlamp!).
One Day, Four Ways in Thessaloniki.
Sailing Down Burma's Irrawaddy River.
Maple Memories in Montebello Quebec.
Saving and Splurging in Edmundston, NB.
Lighthouse Tours and More in Thunder Bay.
Oxford, Ontario's Epic Cheese Trail.
Ferry or Flying?