Thursday, January 23, 2014

Packing Tips: Long Necklaces

Just a quick post for you today, I was at training all of last week and through the weekend, so I haven't really had anything exciting to share!

With all of the travel that I've been fortunate to experience in the last couple of years, I've figured out a few tips and tricks to make my packing process easier and to also make using my items easier when I reach my destination.  One thing that stumped me for far too long was how to pack necklaces. I had seen so many tips out there that just didn't really work for me. Then, one day, I thought of this method and I have never turned back.

What I do is I take a towel (usually a hand towel, but you can really use whatever size works for you) and fold it to make it the right size for my necklaces. With my really old hand towel(ish) sized one I usually fold it once. Then, I lay my necklaces down on the towel. If they're super long I fold the chain back on itself to make it fit on the towel without anything hanging over the edge.

Next, I take the towel and start to roll/fold it. I say "roll/fold" because the first part is a fold, to make sure the pendant or clock or large part of the necklace is held in tight and then I roll after that.

I end up with a rolled up towel that I just stick along the edge of my suitcase. I usually add it before I put anything else in, but it can really be added anytime. Just be sure to keep it flat and tight so the necklaces don't slip out the end.

How do you pack your larger necklaces for travel? Any other tips? I would love to hear!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Macarons with Maria

This past Saturday Maria and I decided to switch up our tradition of Saturday Morning Cupcakes for some Saturday Morning Macarons. This was mainly because I wanted to try a new place in Saskatoon that sells macarons. I know this has been a "thing" for awhile, but Saskatoon (well, even Saskatchewan in general) takes a pretty long time to catch on. So, this opening was a big deal to me.

We chose a couple macarons each (vanilla and strawberry for me, vanilla and lemon for Maria) and a pot of tea each and sat down to enjoy the morning together. As usual, we covered a wide range of topics and emotions and had some really insightful (at least to us) moments. These Saturday morning dates, I tell you, they're the absolute best.

What are some cute ways you like to spend time with friends? Do you have any traditions? Have you tried any new places lately? Please share!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jet-setter: Guelph, Ontario - January 1 - 4, 2014

After my visit to Ottawa over New Years, I flew off to Guelph, ON to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins that live there.  I figured since I was in the vicinity, and flights between Ottawa and Toronto are relatively inexpensive (comparatively, of course), I should stop in to spend some quality time with them all - but especially with Kathleen.  I usually only get to see this family when they come to Saskatchewan to visit, so I really enjoyed being able to visit them at their home.

Originally Kathleen and I had a bunch of plans for what we would like to do during the few days I was in Guelph. We're both the type of people that kind of need a plan/schedule, but we also know that when it comes to our visits together we end up scrapping the plan and just hanging out. Nevertheless, we still need to make the plan (it actually gives us great enjoyment in the weeks leading up to our visits). This time was no different. We scrapped the plan and just played a lot of Clue, slept in every single day, and spent lots of time talking and talking and talking. It's what we do best.

The first night involved a large portion of the talking, exchanging Christmas gifts (between Kathleen and myself), and a couple games of Clue.  Kathleen got me quite a few things within our limited budget we had set before the holidays, but my two favourites were:


Pickle Ornament

Kathleen is really thoughtful and likes to have meaning behind each item she includes in a gift.  The bonbons are from our trip to Europe that we went on in May together with my uncle (her father).  The last part of our holiday was England where we spent time with family in the Blackpool area before heading down to London for the last few days prior to returning to Canada. When I discovered the "sweets" cups that were located at lots of grocery stores and movie theatres (probably elsewhere too, but that's where I encountered them) I went crazy. I love five-cent candies here at home and these were even better. Especially the bonbons that I found. I had never had them before, and I became hooked. Kathleen managed to find some in Guelph and got me a whole bag!  Now, the pickle has a couple meanings. First, I love dill pickles. And I do not use the word "love" lightly. They are literally my favourite food.  So, when my aunt saw this ornament she knew it was for me.  The second part of this gift is that it is actually a tradition where you hide the pickle on the Christmas tree and the child that finds it receives an extra gift. It's actually a German tradition, and we're not German. But I like it and I really like finding things to add to my growing collection of items that are for when I finally get my own place. (The laundry room closet is the home for those!)

The second night that I was there we went for dinner with the family and some of their family friends.  It was a really delicious meal and amazing company!  This was also the only night that Kathleen and I got a photo together. We always say we need to take lots of photos each time we get together, because we never do, and then we just don't end up doing it. Our favourite ones were from my first year of university... five and a half years ago!

We went out that same night, but it was a little bit dead. Guelph is very much populated with students because of the university in town, but they weren't back from the holidays yet.  I really didn't mind to tell you the truth, I'm not huge on going out anyway so it was nice to be able to chat with Kathleen.

My last night in Guelph was just a chill night, with more Clue played after I finished packing. Then, on the Saturday morning, my uncle and Kathleen drove me to the Toronto airport and I returned home (with much better timing of flights and no baggage issues).

I had a wonderful time visiting family, I always love seeing them. I also really enjoy traveling, so it was a nice mix of the two!

Do you have family that you travel to visit? How far do you travel to visit them? I love hearing about travel adventures, adding family in is a wonderful bonus!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jet-setter: Ottawa, Ontario - December 28, 2013 - January 1, 2014

I had mentioned in this post that I was headed back to Ottawa at the end of December for the annual New Years conference hosted by Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO). After major delays and baggage being purposely left behind by Air Canada, I finally made it to Ottawa!

The conference took up nearly all of my time while I was there, and my breaks were used for catching up with people that I haven't seen in a really long time. I had many wonderful coffee and lunch visits that left my heart full and my spirit at peace. I have some of the most amazing people in my life, and I am so thankful for each and every one!

I actually didn't take many photos while I was in Ottawa this time, I was really focused on being present and experiencing every moment with people that are important to me.  There were over 800 people at this conference, and while I don't know more than half of them, there were still so many people to hug, laugh with, and catch up with.

We celebrated Mass each day. On the first day we walked to the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

I actually spent most of my evenings with Amanda and other people from Saskatoon (and area).  It was a great balance of catching up with lots of different people at the conference and during the day breaks and then spending time with those that I would get to see back at home too.

My entire parish team from Impact Halifax was at the conference, but we didn't manage to get a photo together.  It was pretty great being able to see all of them so soon after David's wedding!  

One super exciting part about the conference was seeing most of the wonderful women that were my housemates on Impact.  There were nine of us that lived at Waterloo (most of the houses on Impact were just referred to by the street they were located on) and seven of us were at the conference!  We live across the country so this is a pretty fantastic ratio!  I had seen some of them while making road trips to Calgary or while visiting Ottawa for David's wedding, but I hadn't seen my old roommate Rachel since our last day in our house. It was a wonderful moment being able to hug her and actually talk to her face to face!  Over the course of the summer while living in Halifax we grew so close.  It was kind of funny actually, when we first moved into the house I was shocked to have been placed in a room with her, because we were the most different out of all of the people in the house. But things totally happen for a reason and I could not have been more blessed than I was by having Rachel as my roomie.

Waterloo Ladies

The conference ended with a banquet and dance on New Years Eve.  This is my third year ringing in the New Year with hundreds of young adults at Rise Up, and I loved every minute of it!

Have you ever been to Rise Up? What did you do for New Years this year? I would love to hear about it!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Five Tips for Getting Through Airport Security Smoothly

I have been very fortunate in the last few years to travel quite a bit. With that traveling I have come to figure out little tips and tricks about making the whole process a bit smoother.  Today I want to share my tips for getting through airport security. This can sometimes be super stressful, so if you prepare and know what you're going into, you can totally minimize the stress and get through the line nice and quick before heading to your gate.

1. Dress Appropriately
Everybody likes to dress differently when flying. I personally like to dress in what I call a "comfy-chic" way - a cotton dress, tights, cardigan, and an infinity scarf. I look put together but feel super comfy. Other people like to wear yoga pants and a sweatshirt, or somewhere between the two.  Whatever your style, make sure your outfit doesn't have too many parts. By this I mean don't wear clothing, accessories, or footwear that is going to prolong the security process - excessive chunky jewelry that you'll have to remove and put back on, layer after layer after layer that you'll also need to remove and put back on all while the bins pile up behind you but no one can get to them because you're still dressing, tall boots that you have to unlace and lace up again, you get the idea.  There are many things you can wear that can make your experience more difficult, and why would you want to do that? Really think about what you're wearing - do you need to have it on your body while travelling, or could you pack it in either your checked bag or carry-on?

2. Know Your Electronics
Different airports have different requirements when it comes to electronics going through security.  I have found that most Canadian airport security departments only require you to remove your laptop from your bag but let you leave your iPod, iPad, cell phone, kindle, camera, etc. in your bag while it gets scanned.  I haven't found consistency in whether they expect you to remove your laptop from the protective case, so I just always do to avoid holding up the line.  What is important to note about this point is that this can vary between airport security personnel; one person may be fine with you only removing your laptop and leaving it in the case, while another might expect you to place every single electronic you are carrying into the bin with no cases.  To avoid issues with this I always make sure I know exactly where my other electronics are, in case I am asked to remove them.

3. Pack Your Liquids
I almost always see that one person frantically searching through their carry-on(s) to find their liquids and squish them into the bags just before security (if you're at an airport that provides them). To avoid delays or not having enough room in the bag for every liquid you have on you, pack your liquids ahead of time. Take only those that you will actually need during your time in the airport, on the plane, or if your bag were to be delayed in reaching your destination.  This all should very easily fit into the 1 litre (1 quart) bag that is allowed. Everything else can go in your checked luggage.

4. Do Not Feel Rushed
It is very easy to pick up on the nervousness or rushed-feeling that other passengers portray, it is also very easy to feel like the airport security personnel are trying to rush you through the line. Yes, you need to keep the line moving, but you do not need to feel as though you are going too slow. If you are prepared and you are following the rules, then you are doing what you are supposed to do. Do not stress yourself out by worrying and trying to rush through the line. You're traveling after all, enjoy yourself!

5. Do Not Be Afraid
This one kind of goes with #4, but I felt it was necessary to emphasize. No matter how prepared you are, going through airport security can actually become quite terrifying, especially if you do not do it often. For every nice person working airport security it seems as though there are two or three not-so-nice ones.  If you suffer from anxiety or anything similar, the interactions that airport security presents to you can be a lot to handle. Just take things one step at a time, breathe, and think about your final destination. Soon you'll be through the line, through the scanner, in possession of your scanned items, and relaxing at your gate with plenty of time to spare.

This is definitely not a comprehensive list, but things that I have noticed time and time again while making my way through security. What are some tips that you have? I would love to hear them!
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