Cozy Cabin Getaway

Cabin dock sunbathingSometimes it’s just nice to get away from home and the typical routine. Our routine hasn’t even been all that typical lately, but enjoying the outdoors was oh-so-needed after being cooped up at home for the last couple weeks. We were excited when our lovely friend Jenna invited us up to her family cabin for the weekend.

The cabin is in the Okanagan, an area about a 4-5 hour drive from home with beautiful mountains, lush landscapes with orchards and vineyards, desert-like tundra, and refreshing lakes. I could have laid out on the dock reading and sunbathing all day. Every time I started to get a bit too warm, I would dip my feet in the icy Kalamalka Lake and feel entirely refreshed. Jordan couldn’t resist getting in the water a least once. He jumped in for a quick skinny-dip, inspiring another friend to leap out of the canoe with his swim-trunks still around his ankles.

Cougar Canyon HikeCougar Canyon HikeThe area also has some great hiking trails. We went for a quick, easy hike on the Cougar Canyon Trail to enjoy a couple beautiful viewpoints. The trail also winds into the canyon where climbers scale up the cliffs.

Cougar Canyon HikeCougar Canyon HikeThe cabin itself was big and lovely, but it didn’t have any running water or electricity. Our version of “roughing it” involved homemade barbecued burger patties, discussing the history of rap music by LED lantern, and cuddling away the cold as we watched the sunrise over the lake from our pile of twin mattresses on the screened-in porch. We sat out on the dock and watched the stars, brighter from the absence of city lights. Those moments we spent just chatting with friends and enjoying the fresh air were valuable to us. It was great to hang out without the distractions of technology and simply enjoy conversation.

My brother lives in the area and came to visit with his family. It was fun to watch his golden retriever pup experience jumping into the lake off the dock for the first time.

Cougar Canyon TrailAt the insistence of a friend, we had to visit a little Filipino restaurant that makes their own “purple toast”. They bake several different types of bread, including one with purples yams, which they serve as toast with their all-day breakfasts. I ordered their special for the day – coconut french toast. It was amazingly delicious; the coconut was baked right into the bread. If you are ever in Vernon, BC, I would recommend Rosalinda’s Filipino Kitchen.

Okanagan LakeGray Monk On our way home we stopped at a family owned estate winery overlooking the Okanagan Lake. We enjoyed the view as we tasted a variety of wines at the Gray Monk Estate Winery. Yum. I could have taken them all home!

Gray Monk Estate Winery Gray Monk Estate Winery

How to Steep the Best Cup of Black Tea

How to Steep the Best Cup of Black TeaI am a really, really big fan of tea, but I’m not super precise when it comes to measurements. I used to just throw a teabag in a mug of boiling water and roll with it. And that’s totally okay. But for the most delicious cuppa tea to make your day, there are a few steps you should follow. Let’s steep some black tea!

I love starting my mornings with black tea. The caffeine content is highest in black tea, so I avoid drinking it too late in the day. Sometimes I still sip some before bed because I just can’t say no if it’s offered. I’ll mostly sleep fine anyway. Jordan has trouble sleeping if he consumes caffeine after lunchtime. He’s really sensitive to it. If I make a pot in the morning we will drink it together. Our favourite is Earl Grey de la Creme.

How to Steep the Best Cup of Black TeaHow to Steep your Black Tea:

Bring water to a full rolling boil and add tea right away. Black tea is best steeped for 2-3 minutes. I usually set a timer for 2 mins as it takes me a few seconds to get the timer going and remove the tea after the timer goes off. You want to avoid over-steeping otherwise you will get a bitter brew. Pull the tea leaves out after 2 mins and you should have a rich, sweet, and fragrant brew. Depending on your preferences you can add some milk and sugar or honey and enjoy!

How to Steep the Best Cup of Black Tea

Pictured is Earl Grey de la Creme Black Tea. Purchase it here.

Building Relationships with Neighbours

Community building picnic with neighboursIt can be difficult to meet people in an apartment building. Everyone values their privacy, and often the only time we run into anyone else is coming or going. We are really lucky to have some great friendships with neighbours in our building. Some relationships we had before we lived together and some we gained after we moved in.

Since we built a community garden on the property, we have been spending some time out there and having conversations with people we didn’t get to know before. It’s been nice to participate in and build a community where we live. I am anticipating the harvest season as I’m sure we will have the opportunity to share vegetables, recipes, and meals. We have already received plants, tools, and gardening tips from our generous neighbours.

Community building picnic with neighboursWe typically gather with our neighbours for a dinner one night each week. It’s fun to connect with friends in close proximity. It’s a great opportunity to share what’s going on in our lives, to find someone to water your plants while you’re away, and to learn how to save 75 cents for each load of laundry. We have even experimented with sharing items in our community. There is one vacuum that gets passed around to a few different suites on our floor, and we’ve also been sharing an economy size bottle of dish soap.

Two of our neighbours left for the summer to work in another province. We had a fun little BBQ/picnic to send them off. We were able to enjoy the beautiful weather so early in the season. Everyone pitched in and contributed something to the meal. I’m thankful for our growing community and all the support and friendship it’s given me.

Community building picnic with neighboursWhat do you think about getting to know your neighbours? Does it concern you that you might lose some of your valuable privacy? How do you connect with people in an individualistic society?

Real Life Together: Moving past difficult times

blossoms

I hope you don’t mind if I share something a bit more serious today.

The last few months have been quite interesting for us. We have had some ups and downs. Many joyful moments and some that were filled with pain. There have been times where we have felt like we should lose all hope but for some reason become filled with immense gratitude. It has been a season of growth, of change, of opportunity.

A few months ago I left my job at Starbucks to begin working in the same office as Jordan. It was an exciting opportunity, as I had little to no previous experience in that position (Admin and Marketing) and because Jordan and I would be working in close proximity. It worked out really well. I was challenged in many ways to build new skills and get comfortable in a new work environment. Jordan and I also really enjoyed working together. We enjoyed commuting together, eating lunch together, making jokes about our coworkers/customers together… It made me feel like Jim and Pam from The Office.

It was a really joyful season for me. I enjoyed the proximity to Jordan, the regular schedule, the free evenings and weekends, making a decent income, and being able to put aside a good amount of savings. We felt secure and ready to move ahead in life.

Amidst this season I became pregnant. We weren’t really sure if we were ready to be parents yet, but we had been considering it for a short while and quickly became really excited for this next step in our lives.

Meanwhile Jordan began to consider his career path. He had already been feeling stuck in his current situation. His passion is music and recording, but with his office job he didn’t have the time to really build a client base and take on many projects. We decided that it would be best for him to take a risk in his career sooner rather than later, before new responsibilities took over. We would take a hit financially, but we could still get by on my income alone. An opportunity became available for him to volunteer and help out at a local studio, and he quit his job in order to focus on music. It made my schedule more challenging, but it was worth it to see Jordan work towards his dream career.

Jennifer and JordanWhen Jordan was in the last couple weeks of his job, we lost the baby. I was about 7 weeks along. It hurt, physically and emotionally. We had so much joy and excitement anticipating what it would be like to know our little one. We were crushed.

Luckily we found support in our community. We had family and friends who helped pick us up and dust us off. I was amazed by the number of people we know who had been through a similar experience. I was encouraged by their genuine empathy. I wondered about where I would be if I didn’t share so openly about my experiences. Would I have gotten the support I desperately needed? It’s circumstances like these that are difficult to talk about. So often we would be enjoying the lighthearted company of friends and would wonder if it is worth bringing up something so sad and heavy. In our experience we found it was definitely worth it. The depth of our relationships were increased when we made ourselves vulnerable, revealed our struggles, and asked for help.

We slowly recovered, and although we still have moments of sadness when we remember our loss, we have infinite hope for the future.

A few weeks later I was laid off from my job. I was surprised. I wasn’t sure what I should be feeling in that moment. I wondered about how we would make ends meet without any stable or substantial income. I considered the opportunities this opened up for me. The ones it closed. The issue was mostly money. I had decided years ago that I wasn’t going to let money dictate my life. I’m glad I made that choice. Instead of overwhelming anxiety, I felt peace. Instead of a sense of loss, I held on to a sense of opportunity.

With all this extra time I’ve had, I’ve been able to start a blog! I’ve been growing and challenging myself a lot. I’m excited to see where this crazy adventure will take us. I’m amazed by the peace I have had through all of this. There is a great, rich future ahead of us, I know it. I just don’t have any idea what it will look like. But I believe it will be even better than I could have imagined myself – just like how my life has turned out so far – with many blessings that I had not anticipated.

Jennifer and JordanHave you struggled with with an experience you felt might overwhelm you? How do you talk about difficult topics with your friends and family? Have you ever felt peace when circumstances around you have told you that you should feel otherwise?

If you have been through something similar I hope you have had someone in your life to share it with. I want to make this a safe place and build a community of trust and honesty. If you would like to talk with me about these topics, please send me an email at jenniferdrinksteaATgmailDOTcom. I would love to hear your story and to share more with you about my experiences.

Photos by Ivy Hofs @ivyrachel_