Show me your cool winter and I will show you mine CONTEST

If you are a regular subscriber to this blog you know just how much I love winter, ahem, have learned to embrace and love winter. Admittedly, it takes a bit of motivation to get off the couch and brave the cold. But once you bundle up and get out there, so much fun is waiting to be had.

And Sask peeps – there is a lot of winter fun to be found in our province! Here are a few ideas.

So I want to know – what does winter mean to you? How do you make it cool? Are you working up a sweat dancing at your local watering hole? Are you a ski bunny working the slopes? Maybe spicy food from your favourite restaurant warms you up (or some blackberry mead perhaps)? Making your way to a great festival? SPOT IT!

TripleSpot also loves winter and to celebrate they are running the Winter Weekend contest and I am partnering with them to run a mini-contest from my site and social media channels (sponsored by TripleSpot). So now you have two ways to win! Continue reading

The best of 2013′s unexpected travel moments

I have shared many highlights from my 2013 travels here on the blog so some of this list may be familiar but I know there are a few for certain that haven’t been shared with you … until now!

Travel doesn’t run smoothly all of the time despite good planning and best efforts. Wildlife rarely cooperates, weather as we all know is hit and miss and then there are times where you just make mistakes. On the flip side, travel often surprises you in good and unexpected ways.

Without further adieu, some favourite moments included the time whenContinue reading

Golden hour on the prairies

I love it when you happen to be at the right place at the right time.

The right place today was on this gravel road running my dogs minutes from home. The right time was catching the golden lights of sunset. The result was this shot (unedited), the only one I took with my iphone4.

This is my favourite type of prairie scene – so simple yet so beautiful. Hope you enjoy it!

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Hoo Hoo gives a hoot about burrowing owls?

Coo-Cooo! I do! I do! So much so that I adopted one!

Let me introduce you to the newest member of the Smith-Nelson clan although technically he doesn’t live with us. This is Trooper! He was born and raised at the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre, hatching there in 2005.

Trooper the Burrowing Owl

Did you know? Maintaining owls in captivity can cost up to costs approximately $400/owl/year in food alone! Help a bird out!

Trooper was hand raised so that he could become tame enough to participate in the Centre’s educational programs, but at the ripe old age of 8 he’s recently retired and living the good life. I am hoping to meet him sometime next month!

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Saskatchewan synonymy

A few things are often associated when one thinks of Saskatchewan, such as fields of golden wheat, the beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders and the return of wild crocuses each year signifying spring’s arrival.

Recently I found myself awake unusually early and that was followed up by an even more unusual a.m. activity: I took a hike up to the top of the hill behind my cabin, still in my pajamas. Really, I was trying to locate my dogs who had taken off running so what ensued was a stroke of luck. While up there I became caught up in the beauty of wild crocuses and dewy grass, so I ran back inside to get my camera. Here are a few pics where a bokeh and glowing effect resulted. They have not been edited.

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I kissed a fish and I liked it

Is that wrong? Well, my lips didn’t actually make contact but it nearly did happen. This little dogfish was cute, at least in my eyes. So cute in fact that I promptly returned him back to his icy cool water. Just thought you might enjoy some insight into my crazy animal loving nature.

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The photo above was taken during my time discovering a beloved Saskatchewan pastime.

Saskatoon festival hotter than ever

Saskatchewan seems to be on a hot streak with music festivals and events popping up province wide. Case and point this year’s recent Juno Awards in Regina and the upcoming slew of spring and summer festivals. But festivals like the Saskatoon Winter Meltdown Blues Festival which has been around for 11 years now, shows no sign of slowing down; in fact, the dynamic music event is hotter than ever.

Although this festival has passed the experience is still worth sharing and there are several reasons for keeping it top of mind for 2014. I had the great fortune of attending my first Blues Festival cabarets in early March. And, I can honestly say that as a result I am regretting the years past where I didn’t take time to appreciate a blues music festival, especially this one.

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Steve Strongman, 2013 Juno Award Winner (Blues Album of the Year) rocked the Odeon’s Cabaret stage in Saskatoon.

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Remebering Waskesiu

The trek up to Prince Albert Park to explore Waskesiu was a memorable one. As you will recall I blogged a while back about wolf trekking and dog sledding.This month’s article I wrote for Pink goes into more detail on how I went about finding winter in Waskesiu. And I sure did find it. It was -20 to -30 all weekend long! Read the full article here.

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The intention behind the travel spread I write for Pink (and for my blog in general) is to inspire exploration, whether that be in your own backyard or beyond. You won’t regret it.

Personally speaking, travel truly nurtures my soul and provides me with constant inspiration. I have also learned that travel with children proves not only to be fun, but such an amazing opportunity for little ones to learn.

Beyond sharing and writing about these experiences capturing them is a great way to look back and remember how much fun was had. If you are interested, I have  just posted more photos from the beautiful Waskesiu region on my Facebook page. Here is a sneak peek at one of the very lovable sled dogs from SunDogs.

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Always an opportunity for birding in Saskatchewan

With over 350 species of birds, Saskatchewan is a solid destination for birding activities. That seems to be ringing true throughout the chilly winter months and is evident even in my backyard. As I learn more and more techniques for attracting certain types of birds into my yard, they seem to come a ‘flocking’. And they bring their friends.

I think I have even been able to get my neighbors on the bird train and there may even be some friendly competition going on for the most attractive yard for the feathery visitors.

At any given time I can see large families of sparrows can be spotted nestling contentedly in the pine tree; juncos cleaning up the fallen seeds in the snow; a downy woodpecker rapping on the maple tree; house finches hopping along the fence link; beautiful red polls who pose for me; and of course nuthatches and chickadees who have fierce speed competitions through the branches. Those are the most common yard visitors this year but certainly not the full extent. Winter birding in Saskatchewan has not disappointed.


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Travel inspiring creation

Those who travel know how very inspiring it can be, in fact for many it leads them into some sort of creative process. This certainly is the case for me. As a writer one of the greatest gifts is the ability to write about those who truly inspire me.

Enter in Nicole Valentine Don. I was fortunate enough to be able to tell the story of this very talented friend of mine in the February 2013 issue of Chatelaine. Nicole, a native Saskatchewanian who now calls Australia home is featured as Ms. Chatelaine; which can be described as a woman of style and substance. Nicole is both of those things and more.

She came to mind immediately when I was asked to think of who could possibly fit the Ms. Chatelaine profile. I have been inspired by her work from afar and relate with how her travel experiences clearly inform the aesthetic she draws upon to transform creative spaces. Plus she is always on the pulse of all things cool, making her a true leader of the pack.

I love seeing her creative process in action on her blog and you will too. Check out her visual diary at www.thetranscontinentalaffair.blogspot.com. This is a woman who is going somewhere. Without further adieu, I introduce you to Nicole via the article I wrote about her.

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