Christmas Shopping 101

I’ll admit – I am one of these annoying people that loves Christmas. I start shopping early, I put my tree up early (it went up yesterday, no joke) and I always plan a bunch of Christmas related activities.

However, what I really do not like is trying to navigate the insane crowds that seem to be appearing earlier and earlier each year. Last Sunday, more than a full month before Christmas. I decided to run out and have a look for a few things, the lines at the local Toys R Us store were about 20 people deep and there was absolutely nowhere to park at the mall. This lead me to come home in frustration and whip out my laptop.

I’ve been doing more and more shopping online in recent years, but this will probably be my heaviest year yet. With a big list and a lack of patience I find it’s the best way to get things done.

So, where do I shop? That’s the whole point of this post!

Note: This will be heavily geared toward Canadian shoppers, but Americans may find pieces of it helpful, as most sites ship to both countries.

Beyond the Rack – This is a discounted site where you can find things that have been sold off from various brands/designers. It’s a great way to get some quality stuff for a good price. The only thing about this site, and I really mean it is ORDER EARLY. Most of the time it takes about 2-3 weeks for merchandise to get from their origins to the Beyond the Rack facility and then a further week or so to get to your home address. So if you want to order from them do it NOW if you want to get it in time for Christmas.

The Children’s Place – If you have any little people on your list, the Children’s Place is a great stop. They always, I repeat ALWAYS have a sale on. And, if they don’t, Google “the Children’s Place promo code” and you’re sure to find one. Just last week I ordered about $100 dollars worth of merchandise for about $40 shipped, taxes in. Also, they ship very quickly. My shipment left Toronto on a Tuesday night and arrived at my house in Newfoundland less than 24 hours later.

Snorg Tees – Snorg specializes in funny, topical tshirts. They have a lot of product (I always find myself on the site for probably an hour, time I get through it all). They do charge for shipping but I don’t generally get charged duties on them, and the times that I have, it’s only been nominal.

Amazon – It’s cliche, but cheap prices, quick shipping and a large variety of product make this one of my favourite sites – especially if you want to order something mid-December (because you’ll still get it in time for Christmas).

Blurb – This option will take the most time, but it makes a great gift. You can download the site’s software and make yourself a book of any kind. In the last few years, whenever I’ve returned home from a road trip, I compile photos and make one of these for my travel companions. There is easier software out there, but after a small learning curb I like what you can do with Blurb. Also, the books range from about $20 and up but you can often get coupon codes for 40-50% off of your order.

Gap – As you might have noticed, I love a good sale! So the fact that every year Gap offers 40-50% off sales leading up to Christmas is great. You can get some great stuff for yourself for all those Christmas events, as well as some good presents. I’m particular fond of their athletic line. It’s durable and good quality and cheap than Lululemon.

Think Geek – Think Geek is a fabulous site filled with great, fun and nerdy goods. But I am warning you now – if you are Canadian you are going to pay duties on your order and it’s not going to be pretty.

Above all of these great options, if you live in an area that isn’t as insane as where I live, I strongly recommend that you get out an support your local business community. Even if you have to pay a little more, it’s worth it. I’ll always try and make a round or two of the downtown area before the holiday season – it’s a fun way to pass an afternoon.

On the Battlefields of Virginia


After spending a bit of time in rural (ish) Virginia we all quickly developed an affinity for the state. So much so that Dion still talks about someday moving there! What did we enjoy about Virginia? Well, a lot of things.

The grounds outside of the Historic Powhattan Resort.

We stayed at the Historic Powhattan Resort which is just outside of Williamsburg and that was a great plus point on its own. Although it’s a part of the Diamond International group (and you may get subjected to a sales pitch) it is a great place to stay if travelling with a few people. We had a moderately sized condo with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small balcony. It seemed not a lot of people were staying there at the same time we were (it was mid-week and in September) which was all the more great for us. The resort has a pool, hot tub, tennis courts and a large number of wildlife. On top of it being cicada season we also saw a group of deer and two skunks (we made sure to keep our distance from those guys!)

We also spent some time learning some local history. We visited Historic Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and did the driving tour of the Yorktown battlefields.

Note: In case of war, do not replicate this pose. You will die.
Met myself a new friend.

Coming from Canada, it was a pretty interesting way to spend the day. None of us are major history buffs or anything, but since our country has never had any major wars fought on it, it was cool to see the old trenches and cannons.

Oh hi, local Newfoundland restaurant.

Another random/weird experience that we had in Virginia was coming across a local restaurant chain! In the information left in our room we’d seen a brochure for “Jungle Jims” restaurant. We instantly thought “nahh can’t be, must just be a same name coincidence”. But nope, in the middle of Virginia we found the only franchise of a restaurant based in Newfoundland to exist outside of Canada. It was surreal and of course we had to go eat there. However, don’t get too excited because we discovered not long after coming back home that the restaurant closed. So there goes the chance for Americans to experience such local gems as “monkey fingers and fries” and “Jim’s chicken taquitos”.

As for tips for visiting the Williamsburg area?

All of this cost about $45. In Canada it would be closer to $75.

Tip #1 – Save money by visiting the local Walmart or chainstore. If you want to save some money, or simply don’t want take out for every meal, I suggest taking a stop at one of these places. You’ll be able to get breakfast food, snacks, weird souvenirs and even liquor – which is something that you definitely cannot do in Canada.

Tip #2 – You’re going to need a car. I mean, it’s probably a given, that if you visit somewhere outside of a large city that you’ll need your own transport. But this is definitely true of the Williamsburg area. If you want to visit the battlefields, explore the historic area, etc. just save yourself some hassle and pick up a cheap rental.

So that’s my thoughts on the Williamsburg area. Have you ever been there? Where are your favourite places in Virginia?


(Less than) 24 hours in Washington D.C.


If you’ve ever stumbled upon my blog, you’ll find one of my most favourite things to talk about is travel. I could talk for days – especially if I find someone who’s been to some of the same places as I have.  Because of this, I thought I’d take some time to explore a little more in-depth some of my favourite places that I’ve been. Many have been visited while on long road trips, meaning that I’ve seen a little of a lot, but I try to make that ‘little’ as meaningful as possible.

Shane and I being a little too overtired (also, check out the Washington Monument photobombing us).

First on my list is Washington, D.C. which is a fantastic city which I’ve spent less than 24 hours, but I managed to see quite a bit in that short span.

We arrived in Baltimore only to immediately grab our rental car and proceed on the roughly one hour drive to Washington.

After travelling on an early am flight from St. John’s (through Toronto and then through Baltimore) it was an insanely exhausting day, but we also knew it would probably be our only chance in a long time to see the city (since we would only be there for one night before heading on to Virginia). So as soon as we were checked into our hotel, we laced up our sneakers and caught the subway to the Capitol District.

Checking out the (outside of) the Smithsonian.

Tip #1 – Everything is further away than you think it is. When you’re in front of the Washington Monument, gazing toward the Capitol Building you may think “wow, this really isn’t too far!” Do not be fooled, it is. You’ll walk for probably 40 minutes or more to get there. But the walk is very nice and you’ll pass the Smithsonian and a bunch of other interesting buildings along the way.

The Capitol Building at dusk.


Tip #2 – Don’t be afraid after dark. No really, Washington is surprisingly quiet after dark. As dusk hit, really the only people that we saw around were joggers, which actually comforted us, because we figured if they felt safe enough there, so should we.

The subway station seemed pretty fancy to us!

Tip #3 – Use the Subway. While we had a rental car, we didn’t want to be worried about driving in downtown DC, so we decided to take on the subway system and you know what? It was super easy. When we first arrived, we had to ask for help (which people were very okay with providing) but after a quick lesson we were on our way. It was very quick and timely.

Arlington National Cemetery – white stone grave markers for as far as the eye can see.

Finally, although the majority of our ‘visit’ was spent outside of buildings, on our way to our next destination we did make time to stop at Arlington National Cemetery. I’d basically consider myself to be a pacifist, but there’s something about seeing the graves of thousands and thousands of people that have died in protection of their country that can bring a tear to your eye. It’s a huge place, we only saw a part of it, but still it was most definitely worth the stop.

So there you have it! Are there many, many more awesome things to see and do in Washington? Most definitely, and I recommend you check them out. But if you only have a few hours to spare, you can see some great things. Should I find myself in the city again, I would probably arrange to take a few tours and eat some local food, as all we had time to ‘indulge’ in was McDonalds! 

Shane checking out Obama’s pad (from a distance, of course!)

Trinity Loop in Ruins

Just the skeleton of the old ferris wheel now remains.

About a 45 minute drive from my hometown used to lie a very quaint little ‘amusement park’. I use the term in quotations because there were no big, scary rides, no waterpark or anything like that, but to a small child it was pretty great. Here’s a brief explanation of a ‘day in the life’ at Trinity Loop.

10am – Start begging whatever parent/grandparent/guardian/whoever had the bright idea to tell you the night before that you were going, that its most definitely time to leave.

11am – Arrive at park and be greeted by the cardboard cutout referred to as “Choo Choo Charlie” who would enthusiastically wave at all as they entered.

11:15am – Start begging for cotton candy.

11:20am – Ride ferris wheel.

11:30am – Ride bumper boats.

It’s hard to see, but the old railway has been totally washed away.

12pm – Ride the train (actual train) that would take you around the park. This is what made the park special, the fact that it was a full train loop (one of only few in North America) that was used to help trains to get more efficiently to higher/lower elevations. Once the rail system ceased to exist in Newfoundland, the Loop was built around this train ride and was its signature attraction.

12:30pm – Finally get some cotton candy.

12:45pm – Go for a ride on a paddle boat where inevitably whatever adult was in your presence would do all the hard work while you chilled out in the back.

The remnants of the mini golf course.

1:15pm – Repeat 11:20 and 11:30.

2pm – Play mini-golf

3pm – Beg for one last ride on the ferris wheel but ended up placated by being offered a late lunch/early supper on the caboose dining car.

3:30pm – Eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs.

4pm – Leave to go home.

As you see, it wasn’t an overly fancy place but definitely enough to keep a kid occupied for a day.

What was once the sign for the train ride now lays in what was once a bumper boat pool.

Here’s where the sad part starts – around 2004, due both in part to dwindling attendance and high upkeep of the attractions, the park closed. It was always hoped it may be able to open again in the future. However in 2011 the area was hit by a bad hurricane that basically destroyed the remnants of it and has left it in a terrible state of disrepair.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend (early October) a friend and I went home for the long weekend and decided to check out the old site to see what it had become. It wasn’t pretty.

Alyson checking out the destruction for the first time.

Basically what followed was a soul crushing look at a piece of our childhood destroyed. It now resembles a place that wouldn’t go amiss in a horror film. We left the place both glad we had the chance to see it in person and also very sad. We made sure to listen to happy music on the drive back home!

If you want some more information on the site, I suggest clicking here and if you’d like to see some HG photos of the ruins of this place I suggest taking a look at Hidden Newfoundland.


DIY 90’s Party

IMG_8264Laser backgrounds? Check. Vintage candy? Obviously. Spice Girls? Oh hell yes. All of these ‘ingredients’ and more went into making my friend Dana’s (in the pic above with me) birthday. It was her big 30th so we felt the need to go all-out for it. What follows is a collaboration of DIY projects that made it a memorable night.


To go along with the laser background we printed off some pictures of some classic 90s icons to use photo booth style (I mean what kind of a 90s party doesn’t pay reference to both the Titanic AND the iceberg that sunk it).


On both Pinterest and Etsy I kept seeing cupcake pictures that were available for purchase. I thought to myself ‘this can’t be very hard to recreate on my own’ and it really wasn’t. All you need is a coloured printer, some card stock and a few craft sticks. The hardest part for me was the glue gun, which obviously resulted in a few fingers being glued together ;).


Diana had seen a great recipe online for making multicoloured icing for cupcakes. We were super impressed at how well it turned out. All you needed was to make some white icing, add some food colouring and then add it all to a piping bag. You didn’t even have to be particularly careful in how you ‘arranged’ the icing in the bag.


Not bad, hey?


Dana herself created this masterpiece of a food table. She taped together some old VHS cassettes, added in a bunch of classic candy (ring pops, fruit by the foot, etc), and put out some fruit loops for the munching!


Another 90s classic is the paint splatter background, a favourite in many a school photo. Here Shane and Dion pose in some 90s fashion favourites – including denim on denim.


The weekend before the party a few of us had gone to our childhood homes for the Thanksgiving long weekend. There we raided our old closets and attics to come up with some 90s gear. Among what we found were Babysitters Club Books, posters, Barbies and an intense collection of troll dolls. All free and all very nostalgic.


So there you have it! To keep this post from going excessively long here is just an overview of all the things we found and created for the party. Most everything was done for very cheap and it was definitely a very collaborative effort. It was fun to be able to create some of this stuff and as the rest of our crew starts hitting 30 in the new year, perhaps we’ll put these skills to use again!

Jennifer could not have looked more amazing in her wet suit!

Roots, Rants & Roars

Every September my hometown of Elliston, Newfoundland hosts a culinary festival called Roots, Rants & Roars. Chefs from all over (local, Canadian and even some American) gather and prepare meals from locally sourced ingredients.

Considering the fact that Elliston has less than 400 permanent residents, and that Saturday night there are generally over 350 attendees – none of the local, it’s a pretty impressive feat. The festival gets great press and it seems to be growing more popular as time goes on.

The past two years, I have been traveling at the time of the festival and have not been able to attend, this year I knew I had nothing major planned so I decided to go home for the weekend to volunteer. If any of you reading ever want to go to an expensive event (weekend passes for this event are $250 each) I highly suggest trying to volunteer for it. Not only do you basically get to try/do/see everything, you get the added bonus of being able to get in on all the behind the scenes action.

My friend Diana is a big foodie, and this year she accompanied me to the event, she enjoyed herself so much that she thanked one of the event coordinators for letting her volunteer! Needless to say, we’ll be back again next year. My thoughts on this event are more of an overview, bit if you want more in-depth information on all the food from the event, I suggest checking out Diana’s blog.

Here is a brief photo essay from the weekend.

On Friday night we got to attend and “enjoy” the festival in advance of volunteering on Saturday. That night’s theme was the “King of Cod” in which each chef prepared a different dish featuring cod. At the end of the night the participants vote on their favourite and that chef it crowed King. Although I didn’t get a pic of the food, this was my favourite dish.
This was the winning dish – cod ramen!
Cheers for food festivals!
I snapped this pic of my nan that same weekend, I’d like to caption it “75 and still picking” (blueberries, that is!)
Diana and I ‘burlapped’ abut 40 tables before the big multi-course supper on Saturday. We were servers for the night (it was intense, I’ve never served before).
A bit of liquid courage before we start our intense night.
Anddd we’re done! It was hard work but really fun, I must say. Here’s a shot of the crowd, post food and enjoying some entertainment.
This was my favourite food of the entire festival – build your own creampuffs in which you could choose your fillings!
This is what happens when you know most of the organizers of the event…

I Made A Web Series

The full year of 2014 was quite busy for me, and the main reason behind that is that I was participating in an insane web series. You know how every day of the year is some kind of weird holiday? Well, for the full year myself and three friends made a video for every, single day to ‘celebrate’ one of those days.

It was quite the undertaking (more so than any of us would have thought at the beginning) but we were all pretty proud of it (and very relieved when it was over).

Now that I’ve had a half year to process, I decided to have a look back at our videos, and to share some of my favourites. When you have a stock pile of 365 videos, let me tell you – it was very difficult to choose. So here you have it, 10 of my most favourite Year of Cheer videos (in no particular order):

  1. Titanic Remembrance Day – This is probably not the way you remember the Titanic movie happening… or is it?

2. International Coffee Day – This video is a throwback to a memorable episode of Saved by the Bell (anyone remember Jessie’s brief addiction to caffeine pills?) But as with everything that we do, it has a twist.

3. Pluto Demoted Day – Poor Pluto, no one ever could have seen what path he would follow after he was demoted out of our solar system.

4. Fool’s Paradise Day – This video featured lyrics (partially) written by Josh and was among one of the most ridiculous premises that we came up with.

5. Chucky The Notorious Killer Doll Day – Who knew murderers could be so cute?

6. Book Lover’s Day – I’ll admit, this might not be our best video, it’s long and drawn out, but there’s something about it that I love. Probably the fact that we let Josh write his own “fan fiction” and then attempted to act it out . . .

7. Hug a Plumber Day – Little did anyone know that all those mushrooms that Luigi was grabbing would turn into a crippling addiction. Luckily, he had his brother there to help him through.

8. International Whale Shark Day – As previously posted, my friends and I love a terrible shark movie, so we decided to (extremely roughly) create out own. Please excuse my TERRIBLE acting in this one.

9. Friday the 13th – Jason + a Mentos commercial parody, what else could you want?

10. Giving Tuesday – Here, we parody a Nicholas Sparks book/movie. What do you think? Would you watch it?

Well, there you have it. If you happened to like these videos there’s 300 odd more that you can watch on YouTube, right here –


I Don’t Know Who to Vote For

When it comes to the world of politics, I consider myself generally well-versed. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, I’m not deeply involved, but I’d like to think that I can hold an intelligent conversation on the matter.

In late 2015 I am going to have to vote in not one, but two elections – one Federal (in October) and one Provincial (in November). I’ve read the news, I’ve watched the leaders debate that aired a few weeks ago, and it all leads me to the same conclusion.

I don’t know who to vote for.

I know that there’s no way I would ever, ever vote for the Conservative Party. Take away the fact that Harper has basically destroyed our access to information and has muted so many scientists/academics and I still don’t have a conservative bone in my body.

I’m fairly young, open-minded and very logical, which should align me up well with the Liberal party, but I’m not exactly buying what they’re selling either. There’s something about Trudeau that I just don’t like. I feel at times that he comes across as arrogant and well, he did sign into effect Bill C-51 along WITH the Conservatives (more about that here –,_2015 ).

That leaves me with the NDP Party. Their leader seems full of promises that are just waiting to be broken. He’s promising things left, right and centre. Things anyone either bit knowledgable in the way of politics knows that would either A. Never happen or B. Sink the economy.

When I’m looking for someone to guide the country I’m looking for someone who cares about human rights, the environment and small business. These are things I haven’t really found from any leader yet.

I realize I am only one person, but the more I discuss voting with my friends the more I realize many of us are the same, we really don’t know what to be doing.

When push comes to shove, I will probably vote Liberal, but it won’t be a confident vote, that’s for certain.


Today I decided to impose a challenge upon myself. For a long time I’ve seen these “100 Happy Days” challenges on Instagram, where users challenge themselves to post something positive for 100 days in a row. I’m going to attempt to do a similar type of thing, only mine will be focused on health/fitness.

In 2015 I’ve already made a lot of positive health changes – my diet is drastically changed from what it used to be and I am a lot more active as well, but I still have a long way (and a lot of weight) left to go.

So, from now until December 3 (aka 100 days from now) I am going to attempt to post something health positive every day. This doesn’t mean that every single day I’ll exercise, but it does mean I’ll at least make a better decision every day. For example, if I go to a movie, perhaps I’ll choose to bring my own snack rather than eat a salty, calorie filled popcorn. Or maybe I’ll order from the calorie wise menu at a restaurant instead of the regular.

I’m hoping that by challenging myself to do these little things that at the end of 100 days, I’ll feel better about myself (and maybe I’ll even look a little better too).

You can follow along with me on Instagram, where I’ll be doing my daily posts (I’ll check in here from time to time as well). is where you can find me.

Flying By

I haven’t been quite as good of an updater lately as I would like, but I’m ‘blaming it’ on summer. After all the complaining I (and everyone else) did in July, we’ve had a really great August and I’ve been trying to enjoy it fully before the winter blahs hit again.

So what exactly have I been up to? Well, for one, a lot of backyard fires. It seems this is the year everyone that I know decided to invest in a fire pit (which isn’t a bad thing), so I’ve been spending lots of time sitting around, cider and marshmallow in hand.

In addition, I’ve been spending a bit of time in my hometown and doing some weekend trips. Just this last weekend I packed up the car, one of my best friends, and two five year olds (the kids of another friend), and headed off for a cabin adventure at a little camping resort called Golden Sands. We left at 12:30pm on Friday and the twins mom met us there around 11pm, so it was quite the adventure to play mom/aunt/caretaker for a full day to two rambunctious (and sometimes horribly over tired) pre-schoolers. We had fun times though – between swimming, having a fire and feeding them far too much ice cream (but that’s what ‘aunts’ are supposed to do, right?)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I know I’m incredibly lucky to have such a great group of friends who love to go on these little excursions together. This time, we had 11 adults and 2 kids spread over three side-by-side-by-side cabins and it was a fantastic time. Minus the fly bites. Oh the flies. On ONE leg I counted 23 mosquito bites alone. My poor legs are still recovering from the trauma. Just as a note – don’t ever wear Lululemon leggings (or probably any brand of leggings for that matter) around a mosquito filled fire at night. I was probably better off with bare legs.

As for what’s upcoming? This fall starts off with a ‘bang’ with Labour Day weekend back home in Elliston, followed by my friend’s birthday weekend and a weekend of volunteering at a local food festival (what a hardship that is!)

Oh, and who can forget – hockey season starts up again soon!

I ADORE being busy and I’m also thinking of doing some kind of class in the fall. The last I did was introductory film class about a year and a half ago (which led to my insane web series, but that’s a story for another day). So I feel like I need another creative outlet to get me through winter.

Well, that’s the latest in the land of Terri. As summer winds down I’ll be doing more of this whole blogging thing. I hope to make friends with a few of you along the way as well! I’ll leave you with a few snaps from my weekend excursion.

The inside of our weekend abode.
The inside of our weekend abode.
Time for a swim!
Time for a swim!
On a "train" that took us around the park - I don't know who enjoyed it more, Dion or the kids.
On a “train” that took us around the park – I don’t know who enjoyed it more, Dion or the kids.
Pals hanging around the fire.
Pals hanging around the fire.
The view from the patio of our cabin.
The view from the patio of our cabin.
It was the first time I took on the solo (with some help) task of cooking breakfast. Toutons, eggs, bacon, bologna and hash browns for 13!
It was the first time I took on the solo (with some help) task of cooking breakfast. Toutons, eggs, bacon, bologna and hash browns for 13!
Me and Diana decide it's a great idea to take a "BBQ Selfie"
Me and Diana decide it’s a great idea to take a “BBQ Selfie”