Friday, September 28, 2012

Interesting Dinner Conversation: Lifestyle Inflation

We went to another couple's house for dinner yesterday and the subject of life after mortgage came up.  They were a bit exasperated at themselves for not saving anything over the last year and a half or so since becoming mortgage free.

I said it is reasonable that they may have wanted to "let loose" a bit but do they have a plan?

That question morphed in an enjoyable discussion about lifestyle inflation.  In their case, they didn't buy any "toys" or big stuff.  Nor were they avid travellers.  Like a number of people we know, they skimped and saved to get to their current status while delaying household projects until money was finally freed up. 

So now they have the granite counter top and back splash they've always wanted.  They bought a newer used vehicle.  They hired someone to paint their house.  Their rec room is going to get a make over.   And they are thinking of putting in a pool etc etc.  You get the picture.

But, the one thing they still would not get is digital cable despite having a new LCD TV.  Had their television not been on, I wouldn't have believed it.  New TVs are kinda made for higher types of cable.  Analog cable on a new TV looks grainy, full of moving lines to me.  Isn't that why places that sell televisions have signs saying the picture you are seeing is digital?

The puncher?  They couldn't tell enough of a difference to justify getting better cable!!  I'm like, are you kidding?  When was the last time you were at a sports bar or at the movies?  How could you not see the big difference between digital and analog?!  D and I jokingly recommended they get their eyes checked.  They assured us they were fine.  Wow, was what I thought.

So this led to us talking about ego style purchases vs appreciative ones.  For example, it would not make sense for him to buy a merino wool sweater because he didn't care that it felt softer than regular wool.  I love the feel of merino and cashmere, enough that I would pay the extra.  Whereas I would not bother with upgrading my kitchen with granite.  I like the look of it but not enought to pay for it.

Same idea behind my buying a better pen this summer.  If you were to see D try and write with my fountain pen, you'd think he couldn't write because it looks like chicken scratch.  He won't be buying one ever no matter how much money he had.

Then we started on cars.  Before I found my current one, I had an old Honda that had around 125 HP.  Man I loved that car!  Until I actually drove more powerful ones, I didn't appreciate why people would care to buy them or pay for premium gas.  After all, I was able to go 160 km/hr in my old girl before the steering wheel started to shake and who drives like that anyways?  (OK, Me occasionally...) Now that I have mine, I don't even bat an eye at the gas station as it's worth it to me. 

Our friend (Honda driver) said he always believed people bought sports cars because of ego.  There really couldn't be that big a difference.  People just like to show off or say they drive a such and such (no offense to me of course).  Easy way to find out.  I sent the guys out for a drive in my car.  And I wish I had his feedback on video. 

He noticed the difference alright.  I don't believe he'd ever buy a faster/performance car but at least he is able to admit he now understands why some people would and why I did.  As a mechanical engineer, he was able to appreciate the physics behind the performance.  That's really what you are buying.  At least in my case.  He knows me well enough to know being ego driven is not my mojo. 

We concluded that lifestyle inflation strongly depended upon the person's "makeup".  If you are like our friends who senses do not register enough of a difference to justify cable cost differences, then it makes no sense to spend the money as there isn't any perceived value.  And if you are doing something just to show you can, then we would question motives.

So the question is, are they "lucky" because they don't have to pay for more expensive cable?  How about frugal people who hate to travel?  Are they "lucky" because they would be able to save more money than someone like me?  Or are they just happen to be well suited to their chosen life?

And are those of us who have hobbies/interests/appreciations that cost a significant amount of money "unlucky" because we spend money?  Or am I the "lucky" one and they are missing out?

We couldn't come up with answers to the above beyond the use of the "lucky" or "unlucky" may not be the best descriptors.

I believe there is no right or wrong.  And no one has the right to try and make you feel bad if your choices are not to their liking or tastes. 

You may come upon personal finance blogs which seem to preach their way is the best and if you cannot curb your appetite for food, travel, you particular "vice" here, then you must be pretty weak.  And if you could just brave up and do it like them, you'd be "rich" like them too...

Personally I believe the world is large enough to handle many many different definitions of "rich" and "success".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Food Glorious Food

I don't ever remember being able to eat fresh local strawberries and raspberries in late Sept.  It's been an incredible season.  Inversely I was just reading about how our apple harvest has suffered due to our unseasonably warm spring.  Give and take.  That's how life goes.

It has been almost a year since I had a slice of pizza.

Food is a real enjoyment for me.  I embrace different cultures and their cuisine is a big reason why I want to go to different places.  So imagine how hard it is after all these years of not thinking twice about what I eat to avoiding pastries in France or Pasta in Italy or yogurt in Greece.  It has been a challenge to say the least and not an overly enjoyable one.

It made me start questioning why I was travelling?  Is the history, architecture, language practice, visual stimulation etc. enough now that I've become 'that girl' who comes across like an ultra picky eater at a restaurant when in reality all I want to do is sample everything?  Try explaining food allergies in a different language... 

It's not fun and to be honest I haven't tried to explain anything.  I pretty much stick to meat, seafood, fresh fruit and veggies and drool over all the desserts I used to eat.  I've even taken to drinking espressos to avoid the milk in a cappuccino.  Thank goodness I am not anaphylactic to anything.  That level of avoidance would be many times more difficult.

Finding good airport food has become harder.  Sandwiches (wheat) are out.  Battered food is out too (wheat and or egg).  It's amazing just how many foods have soy, dairy, wheat, egg in them.  Next time you are at a supermarket, check out the ingredients in flavoured potato chips.  It may surprise you. 

The consequence of all the dietary restrictions is that we are cooking even more when we cook a lot to begin with.  It is the only way to ensure almost complete compliance.  Thank goodness for our dishwasher!  Other than sauces which may contain wheat and soy, we are eating pretty clean nowadays.  

We are now able to make a potato bacon leek soup that is so rich, you'd swear had dairy in it.  We are eating more antipasti courtesy of my recent trip to Italy and Spain.  And we've found an eggless, wheatless breakfast I enjoy very much. 

If I don't grow out of these allergies, it is really going to make my travel life difficult.  It already has caused me undue stress.  Temptation is high when I'm in a different country, especially one known for cuisine.  As I am far from perfect, I did cheat twice this last voyage -- You remember the picture of the clams in Barcelona?  There was a clam and mussel antipasti in Venice too.  Known weakness...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Great People 2

Well I couldn't very well leave the store once he flashed his photos of Gullfoss and Strokkur

He is one of those travellers who has to have his picture taken in front of everything he saw.  As I'm the opposite and he appeared to be able to handle a friendly debate our conversation quickly turned into a banter about "people who needed to be photographed in front of famous paintings, monuments etc to prove they were really there or is it to show they are more important than what they were standing in front of??"

Despite what our personal preferences and beliefs are, it was fun to reminisce over places that have touched us.  Extra fun when it is someone you just met.  It was also cool to be able to recognize the various locales.  It's not every day I meet someone who has been to so many of the same spots. 

As neither of us have yet seen the Northern Lights despite efforts, he told me 2013 is one of those years in the cycle that is supposed to be superb for viewing.  I'm working on a plan.

We agreed to disagree until we've each tried the alternate that skydiving in Oahu blows a helicopter ride in Kauai out of the water.  We did agreed that Alaska's scale is unbelievable.  It's his favourite place outside of Iceland so far with Norway a close 3rd. 

When he said France is his least liked country, I just couldn't believe it.  As you know I feel very much at home in France, especially Nice.  He found the people to be rude, like they didn't care whether you were there or not. 

I think it is the culture he is interpreting as cold.  French people aren't loud, in your face, or are into bending over backwards to provide customers "an experience".  The ultra cheery demeanor we have come to associate with "service" in North America doesn't exist there.  They aren't there to entertain you. 

The French value privacy and discretion.  That is why you can almost be shoulder to shoulder with the person sitting at the cafe table next to you and not be disturbed.  Allowing each other to experience the environment without constant interruption is one aspect of the French culture I love.  

But he had made up his mind.  I wasn't going to be able to convince him to give France another go.   Nor will he ever "want" to live in his homeland of Romania ever again outside of seeing family. 

As the train schedule would not allow me enough time to visit Nice, I opted to hang out in Cannes for the day before returning back to Barcelona for my flight home.

The famous Red Carpet of the Cannes Film Festival

I stayed at one of their sister hotels in Deauville on my very first visit to France and it was fabulous. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Natural Beauty

Wanna see something Wondrously Beautiful?

Take a wander through this link.  Click on "View all..." in each category.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rentals 102

Depending on the cost of the rental, you may be required to pay a security deposit either in cash upon arrival or by PayPal.  We try and avoid ones where we have to meet someone on departing day as our flights are usually early and would prefer not to have to take later ones just so a property manager or owner could meet us at 9 am to tell us we took good care of the place.  

We leave our rentals in as good or better condition and is a reason why owners remember us.  Being quick to pay helps too.   Politeness goes a long way -- Common sense stuff.  Apartments that allow for us to leave the keys in it or in the unit mailbox upon our departure works best.  I realize it comes down to trust.  And that goes both ways.

The initial emails will either make or break the potential reservation.  If it takes someone days to get back to me (without explanation), then I wonder how serious they are about doing business.  If they are very "casual" with their language, then I wonder if they are also very casual with how other things are dealt with ie.  meeting time, returning deposits etc. 

Places with well equipped kitchens and bathrooms are the best.  I would prefer not to have to replenish dish washing soap, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, salt and pepper etc.  Listings that state they will provide the "little" things we tend to have in our homes go a long way in making someone's vacation easier. 

One reason we invested in a world phone is so that we could get in contact with the meet and great person upon arrival at the destination airport.  They like us to call when we are within 30 min - 1 hr for timing purposes. 

European pay phones may not be the easiest to use.  Some won't take money anymore and looking for a payphone card can be a nightmare (for example, they only sell them at Tabacs in France).  Plus first time visitors don't tend to have Euro coins.  And if the automatic computer operator doesn't speak English, as I found out in Reykjavik, you are pretty stuck. 

The trick with using such a phone is remembering those + signs and country codes and when you'll need them (You don't need them in Iceland.  I forgot.  That's why I resorted to the payphone in frustration...).  It also took me a while to remember how to call home (+ sign needed for Canada)!

Below are pictures of the apartment I rented in Iceland.  Makes me want to return right now.

***FYI:  I've gone back and increased photo sizes to make viewing easier and hopefully more enjoyable -- Hawaii, Munich, Norway, Barcelona and Italy etc to present.***

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Books & Movies

I cannot remember whether it was another Blogger or Commenter who got me reading Robin Hobb's Rain Wild Chronicles (completely different from Pern) but I want to Thank You again!  I've read the first 2 books 3 times each and when D brought home the 3rd volume for me from the library I was so excited. 

Stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing "City of Dragons".  For some reason I thought this was the final volume.  You know how you get the feeling part way through a book of 'how the heck are they going to wrap everything up when there is still so much new stuff...'?

So I felt a bit silly to read there will be a 4th and final volume.  And Thankful.  The continued story lines are even more intriguing.  Looking forward to Feb 2013.  Can't believe I'm so late reading this one.  It's been out since Feb this year. 

Now that the summer blockbuster movie season is over, I want to weigh in on what we saw. 

Andrew Garfield surpassed my expectations as Spiderman.  I may be a bit biased as I'm a fan of his but the story was more real and had a depth the earlier versions lacked or was unable to tease out.

Christian Bale was in fine form for the last Batman.  It now ranks almost as high for me as the first one.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be perfect as Robin.  Anne Hathaway was superb.  She continues to surprise me.  At first I wasn't sure how her role was going to fit in but it worked.

I was a bit skeptical but excited when Avengers kicked off the whole party.  I didn't know how they were going to handle all those strong personalities and wondered if it was going to be a film with a bunch of superheros thrown together with no one really shining.  Or it was just going to be another Ironman in disguise.  Don't get me wrong -- I really enjoyed the series. 

Fortunately they made a good first movie introducing everyone and for me, the surprise highlight (I already knew I'd like the others) was Mark Ruffalo as Hulk.  If you've seen the Hulk played by Eric Bana, it is a continuation of that Hulk, the one with the nasty darker almost sadistic side.  I felt Ruffalo nailed it.  It was also great to see Chris Evans (Captain America) get assertive. 

Finally the latest Bourne.  Again I'm a bit biased because I like Jeremy Renner (D doesn't get it).  At first I wasn't sure I was going to like the movie.  Until I got Matt Damon out of my mind, I couldn't let what they were trying to do with this movie sink in.  Aaron Cross is so different.  It was after the movie was over that I got it.  The movie was even better for me the second time. 

They went too far with Jason Bourne's abusive personality manipulation causing him to snap.  And with Aaron Cross, they may not have gone far enough because of his ability to think, suspect and question.  And humour!  Maybe leaving too much personality?  The latest experiments incorporated the relentlessness of Bourne while removing the empathy, flatlining the persona.  Scary.  Ed Norton is so great in those intense power roles. 

I wish they didn't use the same Moby song (Extreme Ways) at the end, just when they managed to make a film that was supposed to be separate from Jason Bourne.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rentals 101

You learn quite a bit about the country or city you are visiting by the number of rental apartments available.  It tells us it is a highly visited area if many listings exist.  High foreign ownership is often seen in the quality of finishes.  Higher in our experience due to apartments being bought as income properties and managed professionally.  Also reflected in better pricing due to competition.

If the owner is British, then bank transfers as payment will dominate.  We have found it to be the case when rentals are aimed to their own market vs the world.  Bank transfers are not popular in Canada.  You have to go and speak to a Teller to get it done.  And each transaction will cost around $35, half an hour (because they don't have a lot of experience with it) and 2 weeks for money to show up at the other end.  So it will be an extra $70 if you are to send a deposit and final payment.  I am not a fan of this method but in the early days of our rental experience, we bit the bullet. 

PayPal really changed everything.  Some owners will have you pay an extra 3 - 4% to cover their charges for refundable deposits.  Others will build it into the price.  Either way, it's worth it for the convenience.  Anymore, I tend to avoid rentals that won't accept it.  I like to know I have the apartment now, not 2 weeks later.  But in lessor popular rental markets I realize I may still have no choice.

In large city Europe, apartments are the norm due to how people live, cost of real estate etc.  Size will probably be the biggest shocker to us North Americans as most of us are used to having a lot of space.  A one bedroom apartment that is 45 m2 is considered a good size in a place like Nice.  The same price will get you a 25 - 35 (if you are lucky) m2 place in Paris or London.

When visiting an old city (buildings 1800 and earlier vintage), do not expect elevators in buildings nor hallways that always look beautiful or any outside space.  Individual apartments can be very well decorated but the rest of the common areas may make you cringe.  That's just the way it is sometimes and then you find out those places cost 450K - 600K...A paradox!

More to come.  Below are photos of one of the first apartments we rented in Nice.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Great People

On my last trip, I met 3 people from countries I had not yet visited -- Mauritius, Romania and Czech Republic. 

The first fellow was a tall handsome young man who is one of those innately kind souls.  I would observe him with young and old and was impressed at how relating to people came so naturally and genuinely.  He would greet me with a big smile each time I arrived and left the restaurant.  He's one of those sharp, stands very straight, fit, successful people whose energy just catches your eye. 

For some reason, he spoke up on the last day I was going to be in Barcelona and asked me where I was from.  It didn't occur to me at the time to have him guess and see what nationality to potentially add to my list of "identities".  I told him Canada and asked in return.  He looked Indian to me (zero accent) which could mean anywhere in the world nowadays.  Never in a million years would I have guessed Mauritius.

I don't know much about the country outside of location and language.  So I asked him if he spoke French.  Looking surprised, he said yes.  He also knew that Canada has French as one of its official languages so he asked if I spoke it too and I said yes.  That was it to our conversation as I had to get going.  But I've since learned more about his home country because of our encounter.

The second fellow is a Romanian sales manager at a jewellery store where I ended up buying a watch.  He called himself the store's "watch guy". 

Not sure if I've ever mentioned it but I have a "thing" for men's watches.  Women's watches don't interest me though I do own and wear one for work where a smaller size is more prudent.  I much prefer the larger face of the men's especially with the sportier ones.  And I like stainless steel.  So I've been looking for one for the last couple years, something that would fit my smaller wrist but not overpower it.

It is likely a good thing my wrist isn't larger because I would have been even more tempted to buy this one.  Instead I went with a more appropriated sized mainstream one at a much lower cost but still good quality.  After the purchase was wrapped up, while we were in the removing links to fit my wrist phase, he asked how large a group I was travelling with. 

I think I surprised him when I said I was travelling solo because my husband doesn't get enough holidays plus I have a stronger desire to travel than he does.  Turns out he is known amongst his friends as "the solo one" because he primarily travels solo too.  His goal is to see 100 countries. 

As I am not a travel country counter, I just commented that was great and I hope he reaches his goal and got ready to leave.  The spark that catalysed our subsequent conversation was when he took out his iPhone to show me pictures of him in Iceland. 

To be continued...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fun Job

D thinks this would be a Fantastic Fun Job for me...

Sounds like the perfect combination of a few of my favourite things:  Airports, Fast Cars, Elite Travellers...

Where do I apply?  I think being an Avid Fan of Delta Skymiles ought to help...   : )

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


D and Blogging has changed me.  When D and I first met, I was still rocking the disposable camera.  I do own a manual one (legacy from photography lessons once upon a time) but not an "automatic" one.  Nor have I ever purchased a digital camera to this day. 

Simply because I rarely took pictures when I travelled back then to the dismay of friends.  Mainly because I didn't want to stand out so much and I was content to just soak things in without interruption and remember them in my mind.

Once in our relationship, I began to want D to see a snippet of what I saw while away.  So I had to borrow his camera.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit to grumbling about the extra weight.  Nowadays I've been known to travel with iPod, tablet, laptop, world phone, along with all the chargers and converters....and D's latest camera still without checking in luggage.

And since I started blogging, I found myself over the last couple years or so, thinking "oh, this shot would work for a post".  What is happening to me?!?!  Have I lost myself in this relationship....  : )

So it is a super big deal for me to admit it has been a real pleasure going through old photos of apartments we've / I've rented as a lead in to writing a post on our experiences with renting in Europe. 

I had forgotten how short my hair was a couple years ago when we rented a houseboat in Amsterdam --Had just donated 12 inches of it to the Cancer Society.  Or how beautiful I found my apartment in Reykjavik to be. 

I spend so much of my time and energy forging ahead.  It was real nice having my memory jogged.  Guess I am more sentimental than I thought...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Last Trips 2012

For better or worse, my last solo trip of the year will be out to the east coast.  There is a chance I'll run into foul weather, remnants of hurricanes like what is currently hitting Newfoundland.  If I do, it will give me a real idea of whether I'd enjoy living in the Atlantic maritime zone.  D thinks it has the makings of a real adventure....and that's why the house is sending me...

Remember how we worked through the possibility of living and working out west last winter?  Well, this will be the same research idea out east.  D can keep his job and live anywhere in Canada.  I just have to figure things out my end.  He trusts my judgement so off I will go to get a feel for things.  I have a travel voucher for the train to use up so this trip will involve trains, planes and boat.

We have decided not to return to France this fall because I stumbled upon some "free" flights using our Skymiles points taking us back to Munich in Dec just in time for the Christmas Market.  We will be staying in the same apartment as last visit -- Lucky to get reservations as it is busy there.  Got a loyalty discount too!

Holiday season (mid Dec til after New Years) is considered high season and if I hadn't been playing around with the search engine, I wouldn't have found them.  It is usually impossible to get those flights for 60K points when the lowest points required for Jan/Feb flights (low season) were 75K+. 

Don't know if it was a computer glitch but we took it.  If you were to buy those flights, they would cost $1500+ each.  Whereas we just paid taxes of $180 each.  Thanks for the early Christmas gift Skymiles!  I cannot even begin to describe D's excitement.  Munich is currently his favourite place. 

Monday, September 10, 2012


You are probably sick and tired of hearing me talk about the heat on my last trip but I do want to mention it one last time.  Before you label me a weather wimp, I want to say that our summers at home are usually really humid and prior to my departure, we were experiencing 35+ degrees Celsius temps alone before humidity.  So I thought I wouldn't have as much trouble overseas since The Weather Network was showing similar numbers for the places I would visit.

Boy was I wrong.  Heat felt different there.  When we see humidity numbers in the 30 - 60%, even if the temps were 30 degrees Celsius, we would have our windows open at home.  When they say humidity in Venice is 30 - 40%, I am sweating and the air is heavy.  Don't understand why.  Same with Barcelona.  Croatia and Slovenia were just plain hot (38+ Celsius).  Like what you'd find in Vegas.  Sheer hot air being blown from a hair dryer.  The sun is just baking you. 

Surprisingly I still haven't acclimatized back like I thought.  For the first time, D is finding temperatures warm and I'm finding things comfortable and cool even.  Since he has gotten into long distance biking, he has found his heat tolerance dropping vs running long distances.  Makes sense.  The wind with riding fast makes a big difference.

Despite our record hot summer, we've used our air conditioning significantly less compared to last year at home and up north.  A combination of a well insulated home as well as getting better with our internal heat modulation.  Even though I complained about the heat during my last trip, I'm glad to see my temperature tolerance range expanding. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Guess Who?

While out on a drive over the weekend, D and I spotted a small bright yellow float plane tied up to a public dock.  The reason I wanted to be a pilot in the first place was to be able to fly a float plane someday.  So I talked D into parking and heading over to take a closer look. 

It was obviously built by hand and a few minutes into our inspection, the owner came over and said Hello.  After exchanging hellos D started walking back but I didn't want to leave yet so I asked the gentleman some questions about his plane -- Was it loud, what type of horsepower/engine, does it have a heater, how much did it cost etc. 

He thought we were pilots!  I told him no, not yet.  And we continued on to compare Cessna vs kit planes for visibility.  He was a fan of Diamond air crafts and when I brought up that my heart was captured by helicopters he gave me a hard look, broke into a wide grin and said "helicopters are fun!".  I nodded in response, grinning myself. 

He was getting ready to leave so we got to help him point and steady the plane for take off.  Such a gentle demeanor while explaining wind directions to us.  Makes for a great teacher.  We thanked him for taking the time to answer our questions.  He told us to keep an eye out for him in the winter as he replaces his floats with ski and lands on the snow/ice!  I'd love to see that.

And the ultra cool thing?  He was one of the pilots for the movie "Fly Away Home" and was wearing the T-shirt for Operation Migration.  I cannot remember if he still flies with them today or not.  I saw the documentary but not the actual movie so I have it on hold at our library. 

You never know who you'll meet out there!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Fitness is another one of our primary goals. 

This isn't saying much but in our household, I am the Wii champ for skiing, hula hoop, step, baseball, golf, bowling and the penguin balance.  D kicks my butt in the tightrope, soccer, tennis, ski jump and most of the balance games.  And in real life, D pretty much beats me in anything sports related. 

If I don't get my workout in first thing I lose motivation.  I have to get up and change into my workout clothes.  Right now I'm doing push ups, sit ups, stationary bike and treadmill.  Pretty basic stuff but I can do it literally with my eyes closed as I'm often half asleep and too lazy to leave the house. 

Whereas at the cottage or out west, we're outside.  I find it tougher to stick with it at home.  My mind is usually filled with things to do that eat up a lot of my energy making me feel like I don't have time.  In reality I have more time than most working people.  Perception can be cruel. 

In the past I would just do it and then lose it all (Darn! No Nike contract for me...).  I've been doing this group of exercises long enough for me not to have to think about it anymore.  That's what I need to see before I add -- another set, a longer distance, a new activity.  It was far easier when I had regular lessons in something.  The scheduling helped me a lot.  Doing it free flow is far more challenging.  It's easy to come up with an excuse.  And I'm very guilty of buying gear and not using it.

I missed the 1st day of the month booking for Phantom Ranch this spring.  For those interested in hiking down the Grand Canyon and staying overnight, you need to make reservations 13 months in advance.  So you have to call in (long distance for us Canadians) like mad the first of May for example to book for May 1 - 31, 2013. 

They sell out within a couple of hours.   Because I am not interested in hiking during the warm months (the temps down at the bottom get too extreme for me), April and May are my only real options.  Now I'll have to wait for next year when 2014 spaces open up.  Bummer.

Oh, and for those of you interested in learning Hula and Tahitian dance, here is a link to a school that offers online lesson downloads for purchase.  Check out the Basic Hula and Tahitian Drum Dance video previews -- Fun!  It is not as easy as it looks.  I took 6 hr of lessons when I was in Hawaii and I was more and more humbled each day even though I have a background in Ballet and Middle Eastern dance.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Week

Can you believe in the 9 years we've had the cottage, we've never spent a whole week up there at once?  Now before you jump to the conclusion it was all a waste of money, you need to remember all the other travel we do in a year as well as the role our cottage plays in our life.

It was never a substitute for travel and it was never to be the only thing in our lives.  And it was purchased at a price that reflected the amount of use it was going to get (ditto for the ski condo).  More importantly it was purchased with a plan in mind and we have reached a time where the results of that plan have finally come into fruition.

The cottage is a place where we can get clean air, access to beautiful waters, great trails, dark night time skies (Stars!), and a place where we can come down from the stresses of the week.  Being around nature is a great way to do that.  Our home is beautiful but it cannot replicate what we get up north.  

We are now able to head up on a Wed night and stay there til Tues every time there is a Mon holiday day.  All D has to do is work remote or take 3 days off.  And now he can do so without any special permission.  This is a life changer.  Piece by piece we are fine tuning our lifestyle. 

As we wrap up our first week up north, I cannot help but feel immensely grateful for how my life has turned out.  I can speak for D too as he feels the same.  It wasn't always this "easy".