Do you have 'a drink'? Mine has always been Rye and Ginger. 

When I was invited to attend an event hosted by Canadian Club this week I was quickly brought back to the time in my life when I drank Canadian Club most of all...  when I was living in Korea.

I remember being so thrilled that Canadian Club was readily available in Korea and would buy it to share with my friends for special occasions (well. For nights when we went out drinking, so... weekends. There was a lot of drinking in Korea.)

But back to now, I still really enjoy rye and ginger and I'm looking to have new experiences so we got a sitter and Eric and I headed downtown to Social to try our hands at a whisky tasting.

Here are a few things I learned.

#1 Rye is sippable

Turns out that you can drink rye straight and not just mix is with ginger ale. While I don't think this will be the main way that I drink rye from now on (though it may be Eric's) some of the rye we tasted was quite smooth and pleasant just on its own.

We tasted four different Ryes during the tasting. The original 1858 which is what I've always had in the past, the 12 year old rye, which Eric went out and bought a bottle of a few days after the event because he enjoyed it so much (and it's much more affordable than the scotch he's been drinking!), their new 100% Rye, and their small batch sherry cask rye which is aged for an extra year in once-use sherry casks after aging for eight years (I sound impressively knowledgeable now right?)

We also learned about the history of Canadian Club. My favourite piece, because I always love a good story, is that Canadian Club was the #1 smuggled whisky into the US during prohibition.

#2 How to make an old fashioned

As part of the event we all got to learn to make a drink from Matt Jones who is a Whisky Ambassador and Bourbon Specialist (talk about a great job title!)

I chose to make an Old Fashioned. Simply put, this is how you make it. You start by squeezing the invisible oil from a lemon rind into your glass. No really. You fold a lemon peel near your beaker, believe nothing has happened and then smell the glass only to discover a lot has happened! Then you add Rye, simple syrup, bitters and the fanciest ice you've ever heard of imported specially from Toronto. The ice is clear because they boil the water before freezing it. The ice is only good for 24 hours and they vibrate it constantly while it's freezing. I had no idea there was big business in ice, but I'll admit, it looked awesome. Then you stir the drink with a long spinny spoon until you accidentally fling the spoon across the table because it's a lot harder to do than it looks. That's how you know you're ready to pour the drink.

There are recipes for quite a few drinks on the Canadian Club web site if you're looking to try something beyond the typical rye and ginger. Eric made a Manhattan though forgot to fling his spoon.

#3 It's good to get out

I'm at a place in my life where I often feel like staying in and watching tv in my PJs is the better choice over getting dressed up and going out. But really, going out really is fun. We had a great time and got to hang out with some other bloggers, eat great food and drink great drinks. This all just reinforces my feelings about having more new experiences - it really does make me a happier person even if the PJ choice is easier. 

Can't wait to see what we get to experience next!

(I was invited to attend this event for free but all thoughts included are my own, including my interpretation of how to make an old fashioned)

Photo by Twenty York Street via Tim Obas! 

Photo by Twenty York Street via Tim Obas! 

Planning my midlife crisis

Some ages make you feel older than others - have you ever noticed that?

I've never had a huge issue with my age if I'm honest, but I get bursts of disappointment that I haven't done more in the years I've had. As I was about to turn 25 (remember when 25 felt ancient?) I couldn't believe I wasn't married with kids yet. Oh, and also living at home with my parents.  That last one was actually pretty justified even if I had moved out twice before so right before my 25th birthday I moved out for the last time :)

I was totally fine with 30, probably because I had a house, was married, and was about to have my first baby.  I made a lot of those 5 years between 25 and 30!

Now I'm creeping up on 40.  I felt it as soon as I hit 36 and I was closer to 40 than 30. At 38, the only way to round my age now is to say 40, so it's practically like I'm 40 already and if you asked me how old I am I'd probably say "almost 40" instead of 38, that's how focused I am on this number. Okay. Obsessed. Just wait until you're about to turn 40 dude!

What's your point Lara?

I'm on the verge of a midlife crisis.  Time to sell the mini van and buy the jeep I always wanted and ride around with the top AND the doors off!!

Instead of worrying about what I'm going to do in fits of feeling old, I'm deciding to spend the last years of my thirties focusing on me more. I'm not ignoring the kids or anything, but I'm trying to remember what it is I like about life and then I'm trying to focus on those things and create opportunities to enjoy them.

I've spent quite a lot of time in the last year trying out new self help techniques. I've seen an energy therapist and I've taken a course called Rebuilding Relationships (for work, but man am I learning a lot) which is more about the relationship with yourself than with anyone else and did some core belief engineering. Self is being worked on!

Time to be the change you want to see, or however that line goes, Lara!

I'm determined to have more experiences, and to do more things. I've got this idea that I'm still working on where I go on 40 trips before I turn 41...  but I haven't quite figured out the logistics of that. I figure I can count Chicago and New York state so only 38 trips in the next 27 months to go (gotta step up my game!)

I'm looking for opportunities to go out more, and I want to start entertaining more. I want to cook again and have dinner parties again.  I actually really like to make gnocchi and pasta from scratch - it's so delicious and I've done gnocchi once in the last 6 years and pasta not at all.  I also like having board game nights with my friends and we do far too rarely.  

I'm putting all of this out into the universe and I'm being proactive and doing stuff. It's going to be awesome. (Read: I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome and I'm totally not going to wuss out on this.)


Kids are weird

I've been tired for nine years.  Pretty much constantly. zzzz. 

It got so bad that I went and had a sleep study done. They told me I had mild apnea, and by that they meant really mild. I didn't ever stop breathing I just stopped breathing efficiently sometimes.  And it was worse when I slept on my back.

"Oh really? Did I sleep on my back a lot? I don't usually."

*checks report*

"Oh no, you slept on your back for about 4 minutes throughout the night, but you slept worse when you were on your back so you should try to avoid that. Let me tell you about this trick where you sleep with a tennis ball in a sock sewn to your shirt."

"Okay, except didn't we just establish that I didn't ACTUALLY sleep on my back?"

Anyways, that's not actually the point of this story, nor is the part when I came home with a CPAP machine which I attempted to sleep with for a month even though it woke me up MORE and I felt much worse. Doctor said that wasn't actually the goal so I should probably stop using it, especially since I didn't actually have apnea in the first place.  But maybe I'd want to try sewing a tennis ball to the back of my shirt. I decided I would definitely do that... if I ever start sleeping on my back.

The point is, I have realized that I am tired because... KIDS. and stress. Because KIDS.

I have been fighting to reclaim my own space in my bed and not have anyone touch me while I'm sleeping or climb into bed in the middle of the night and use me as their body pillow.  I am fighting for my space and room to breathe in order to get a better night sleep because I don't feel rested otherwise.  Turns out that really was why I was so tired. Very few nights of good sleep in nine years can wear a person down. I'm slowly getting there, a lot due to the fact that the twins have started sleeping together in the same room and this has decreased the nighttime visits.  And aren't they cute?  awww

But this isn't the only place they sleep.  They also sleep in really weird places.  Places they could not possibly get restful sleep in!

Sleeping under a mattress propped a foot off the ground with cardboard boxes

Sleeping under a mattress propped a foot off the ground with cardboard boxes

Sleeping inside a hard plastic toy box

Sleeping inside a hard plastic toy box

For the last four nights both twins have been sleeping side by side in Quinn's closet together.  (Yes, there's writing on the walls.  That's because before I had kids I was very judgy about parents whose kids wrote on the walls and we all knows what the Universe thinks of that kind of thinking ;)

For the last four nights both twins have been sleeping side by side in Quinn's closet together.  (Yes, there's writing on the walls.  That's because before I had kids I was very judgy about parents whose kids wrote on the walls and we all knows what the Universe thinks of that kind of thinking ;)

But as long as *I* am getting better sleep and they're sleeping through the night, who am I to stop them from sleeping in closets or boxes?  They might even enjoy the novelty of a sock filled with tennis balls sewn to the back of their PJs.

Chicago in December

Most people don't think of Chicago as a December vacation destination but an opportunity to spend new years with friends brought Eric and I there this year.

Chicago was one of those places I'd never really thought I wanted to go to, but it turns out - it's an amazing place and everyone should want to go!  I'm going to share a few of my favourite things about Chicago.

Our Hotel - City Suites

My friend found our hotel so I can't take any credit, but what a find!  It was a cute little boutique hotel with one elevator that had a maximum capacity of 3 people (that isn't a feature so much as a quirky fact about the cute little hotel).  

It was super close to the trains (2 doors down close. I met a friend one subway stop away and I was sitting in the Starbucks 7 minutes after I left my hotel room. 7 minutes!), the beds were comfortable and they had the cheapest mini bar in the history of mini bars!!  $1 for almost any item in it and $15 for a whole bottle of wine.  Conveniently located right in my room!  (This is big for me.  I had never in my life purchased anything from the mini bar before this hotel but I don't know how anyone can say no to $1 pistachios! ;)

They also had free continental breakfast and the breakfast tables / lounge were the perfect place for my friends and I to hang out in the evenings and play Cards Against Humanity.  

The only thing I would caution about this hotel is that if you're on the EL side of the hotel you can hear the train bing bong all night which could cause strange dreams involving people coming to visit a lot. Don't ask me how I know that.  

The EL

We got three day passes for the trains (and buses) and it was SO convenient.  I definitely recommend getting the passes (and not losing them is ideal, don't ask me how I know that either.) The train maps are easy to follow and they can take you all over the place. Okay, I just think that but based on how well my husband and friends figured out how to follow the maps to get me places it looked quite simple.

The added bonus of taking the train was that I got to just sit and admire the city - it's a really pretty place with fascinating architecture. Bringing me to my next point...




I'm not an architecture buff by any stretch of the imagination but something about the buildings in Chicago captured me.  There was so much texture and history every where.  They have an architecture cruise but unfortunately it was closed for the winter. I would have done that in an instant.

There's new and old and expensive and not expensive looking. It was lovely to have a chance to just sit back and admire a place.

The Museums


There are way too many great museums in Chicago to see in one short visit.  We visited two - the Planetarium and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Both were great and I spent a lot of time thinking about how much fun my kids would have thought with all of their interactive displays.  That being said, it was nice to have the time to read some of the signage and learn some stuff instead of rushing after kids all the time.

We had planned to visit a couple of places the day we went to Science and Industry but got there and immediately realized we weren't going anywhere else - it was more than enough to fill an entire day and more. 


The Bean

The first things my friends with Chicago experience wanted to bring us to was the Bean. It's not actually called that but I bet most people have no idea it's actually called Cloud Gate located in the AT&T Millenium Park. The thing looks exactly like a bean and we all know people like to just call things what they look like. It was inspired by liquid mercury and has no visible seams. It really is cool.  Based on the reactions of my Facebook friends when I shared photos of us at the Bean it's a lot of people's favourite.  It's cool and an awesome photo op even in the freezing cold.

It's neat to explore but it's also in a park by some beautiful buildings, a lovely park and near the water. There is a 4000 seat outdoor pavillion where I'm assuming they hold concerts - another thing to add to the list of reasons to visit Chicago again in warmer months.

It was a great way to ring in 2015 - a year I'm hoping to do a lot more travelling in.  We were only there for five days but I could have written a full post on each of the things we did it was that amazing.  Have you ever been?  What are your favourite Chicago spots?

I’m ready for an adventure

I have travelled far less than I intended to in my life.  I feel like I have the heart of a backpacker, but never was one.  Or maybe I just like to imagine I have the heart of a backpacker because I don’t think I’m *quite* as brave as I would need to be.  Either way, I wanted to explore the world.

If you had asked me in my twenties what kind of travel I wanted to do, it was to see and experience new things. I got just a taste of Asia when I lived there in 1999/2000 but wanted to go back and see more. I wanted to explore countries all over the world and learn about them and try new things – even if they were scary.

The idea of all inclusive resorts and cruises had zero appeal because I wanted to be discovering new cultures and trekking around the world.  But then I went to an all inclusive and I’ll admit…  It was awfully relaxing.  I wasn’t bored.  I had naps and ate too much food.  And I learned the difference between a holiday and travelling.

Then I had kids and the idea of travelling sounded like a lot of work. I was tired. Relaxing sounded better and so I started making all of my travel dreams about holidays and sleeping and sand and drinks and pools and beaches.

I’m not really any less tired as I write this, but I’m realizing that I’m spending a lot of years forgetting to have adventures and I want to stop that.  So I’m planning an adventure.  It probably won’t be a wild and crazy adventure (like travelling through India, which I want to do, but not yet) but it’ll be an adventure.

To have that adventure I need to save up some money.  I also need to figure out where I want to go, what I want to see and how long I’ll be gone.  Given the fact that I can’t be gone for months at a time and I’m not ready to bring the kinds on an adventure, I’m thinking maybe Europe would be a good place to start.  My mind is spinning at the idea and I’m excited to get going. But I think I’ll still plan for a holiday next year too