Bike ‘n Hike

0713 - Edworthy Park Hike Cyclepalooza peeps

I was in a weird funk today. The best way to get out of a grumpy, self-entitled funk is to change one’s attitude. Iย  decided to – last minute – join a bunch of strangers on a bike ride and then a hike at Edworthy Park.

0713 - Edworthy Park Hike path

This beautiful park was one of the casualties of the 2013 YYC flood. The twisting of mishappened wooden pathways invites one to an adventure of figuring out how to not lose your footing. I find beauty in this metaphor in life. Cliche but it works.

0713 - Edworthy Park Hike stairsBecause this was a last minute decision, I didn’t have time to think things through. I wore my “foms” that are in its last stretch and a maxi skirt. WHAT?? Yes, yes I did. And it worked out in the end. I was able to monkey around pathways and cling onto the rails for dear life. I “made it out of the woods” and was rewarded with this view. (Memory pic)

0713 - Edworthy Park Hike trainA chill evening with new people who are equally chill. I do not regret it at all. So what if I went home muddy. That’s what evening cool showers are for. So what if I didn’t do my errands. There’s still food in the fridge. There’s always another day to be a responsible adult. But the invitation to be a content and happy needs to be listened and followed through. Be one with nature. Do something spontaneous. Open up to new people and experiences.

I’m grateful for today.

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Welcome Summer 2015!

Well hello there!

Amazing night tonight at Sled Island’s Block Party at East Village! It was such a hot day that after work, I chilled indoors to get away from that heat after being cooped up inside all day! After a few hours it cooled down and finally we had a nice breeze. Then this kitten went out to play ๐Ÿ™‚

Where better to chill out on a Thursday night than a block party! I just LOVE block parties. It’s a way to get together and just chill in an open space. The best part for the frugal me is that it was FREE! Moving to the beat of house, hip hop and a little bit of everything curated by the HiFi club, it was more than enough to put a smile on my face. Even just observing other people move to the beat the DJs were spinning was inspiring in itself. (Note: I really want to use cool lingo here but I am just not “all up in the cool scene” so Imma stop now)Sled-Island_Flyer_2015Sled Island is one of my favorite festivals because of it’s variety in showcasing the different mediums in Calgary’s diverse but yet not well known arts community. It’s just bombdiggity (there I go again) and it screams SUMMER!

Here’s a snippet of a footage I took at the tail end of the event on Instagram >> @wanderwithgrace

A great night!

For more Sled Island: http://www.sledisland.com/

DIY: Ugly Sweater

Tis the season to be tacky…fa la la la la!

A big trend this holiday season is the ugly sweater (or as someone pointed out to me, it is also called a Christmas jumper). They are sold in stores ranging from $25 (Walmart) to about $50. If you’re in a hurry and have the money, then buying is the most efficient way. But if you are short on funds or would like to save and get those creative juices flowing with a new holiday project, then making an ugly sweater is your next holiday DIY. Plenty of shocked folks couldn’t believe I made my own sweater and the most popular question has been “How did you make this?” Here’s how I made my own ugly/tacky sweater.

Note: The photos taken are a bit blurry but at l hope these visuals will help.

ugly sweater in all its glory
Here is a picture of my 2014 award winning (oh yea baby!) fabulous ugly/tacky sweater.

This sweater cost me less than $10 and it was a blast to make.

You will need:

  1. ugly sweater** – Coming in at the great price of $3.50, hunting down this gem from the men’s department at Goodwill was worth it. You could also use any old sweater or even up-cycle a gifted sweater that may not be your style to wear as is. I highly recommend you wash the sweater then lay it out to dry so it stretches.
  2. hot glue gun & glue sticks
  3. scissors
  4. Trip to the dollar store – Whether you’ve already formed a design in your head through browsing on Pinterest or if you’re more like me who prefer to find inspiration from the materials in your surroundings, a trip to the dollar store is a must. I went to Dollar Tree and Dollarama and found everything I needed except for the glue gun and glue sticks which I already have. Alternatively, you could raid your Christmas bins and use ornaments that you don’t need anymore.

ugly sweater ingredients

Decorating ideas from the dollar store:

  • tassles for sleeves
  • baubles, mini gift boxes, red bows, garland
  • stockings – I cut around the Santa and cat figure and reused the back of the two stockings as wings for the back of my sweater! Waste nothing.
  • battery powered lights – perfect for those evening celebrations. You’re sure to light up the party!
  • googley eyes to put on top of any decorations with a face.
  • reindeer/santa/snowmen heads – twists them off from the headbands with scissors
  • Christmas baubles and garland
  • pre-cut felt snowflakes to decorate around and use as a filler
  • and anything else that catches your eyes! My bf put a bird on his shoulder and along with his lights, he won 1st place in the ugly sweater competition. Yes, sadly it means I came in second but I’m just happy he won and even though he won’t agree to it, he did slowly get into making his own sweater.

Make your sweater!

  1. Put on sweater. Make a “map” of where your decor will lay on your body by pinning or sticking tape, etc.
  2. Take off sweater and lay it on a flat surface. Gather all your materials and arrange it to whatever design you want without gluing it on. Cut and manipulate the materials as needed.
  3. Turn on your hot glue gun and when warm, glue away. How much glue depends on texture of your sweater and decorations used. Remember that the glue dries fast so it’s better to do this step until after you’ve decided the final placement of your decorations.
  4. Once you are happy with the results, take away the web of glue from your sweater, try it on and make any adjustments if needed.

There you have it! So easy and so much fun to make!

ugly sweater final
Front of my sweater. Final product.

There’s so many possibilities with your sweater designs. Wear to this to all your holiday parties and bring Christmas spirit to any room you enter! Good luck and have a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

O’ Captain! My Captain!

Today, I awoke to the news Robin Williams had died. Wishing for it to be a social media hoax, I waited for more developments on the story before commenting. With the confirmation via a statement made by his wife, Susan Schneider, this sombre Monday evening is now spent watching clips of his work and reading up on the man that has given so much of his passion to the world.

My earliest memories of Robin Williams was in the movie Jumanji. The jungle coming alive right in your living room is every child’s fantasy! And while we’re on the subject of childhood wonder, what about the enchanting Genie, Flubber and as *sings* Popeye, the sailor man! Whoo whoo!.

He was an accomplished comedian, but I personally prefer his “serious” movies. He made me question humanity and the way we treat others in Patch Adams and A.I. Artificial Intelligence. He “majorly” gave me the creeps in Photo Booth.

BUT…all that aside…

My favorite Robin Williams movie will always be The Dead Poets Society. We watched this movie in English class and I remember getting goosebumps when he whispered the words “Carpe Diem. Sieze the day. Make your lives extraordinary.”

..”Make your lives extraordinary.” That is exactly what Robin did. He not only lived an extra ordinary life, but he also shared his magic with everyone who has seen his work.

True to his nature, he also openly shared his struggles with addiction and severe depression in his later years.

Dear Robin Williams, may you find peace in heaven and may your soul be light without any worldly troubles. Thank you for sharing your magic till the very end. I will look at your movies and smile, and be grateful that you have taught me to question and to believe. To look at the world from a different point of view.

To create my own verse.

To stand up on the desk and not be a sheeple.

Last but never least, here’s a perfect sendoff to an extraordinary man. We salute you.

Get to know your neighbourhood – Jane’s Walk

In our day to day lives, we walk around in our community to get from one place or another without really knowing the history behind the buildings and streets. That’s where Jane’s Walk comes in.

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What started in Toronto in 2006 to commemorate the life of Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who believed in the importance of community-based approach to urban living, has spread to other cities outside of Canada. These walking tours are free to everyone and can be lead by anyone, even kids! Imagine how fun it would be to view your neighbourhood through the eyes of a child! They are organized by local people who are passionate about their community. Topics discussed vary; history, present and future urban planning plans, hidden gems, etc. Jane’s Walk brings people together “…to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighbourhoods.”

https://i2.wp.com/www.janeswalk.org/files/9713/9699/4555/Toronto_Bellwoods_-_Jeremy_Kai.jpg
Photo taken at Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park by Jeremy Kai

I have had the pleasure in partaking in different inner-city community Jane’s Walk events in Calgary in the past, and I couldn’t wait to do it again this year. Jane’s Walk in Calgary happens all over the city including the suburbs but I always gravitated to inner-city.

One of my favorite walks was in Beltline a couple of years ago. I used to walk by its streets when I was living in Lower Mount Royal (by 17th Avenue) and walked to downtown for work. However, I never really took the time to actually see Beltline for what it was or to look up its history. To be honest, all I was really concerned about was which was the fastest route to beat the lights so I didn’t have to be late for work…again. Jane’s Walk however changed all that!

The main topic of the walk was about the convergence of downtown and uptown. The intersection “point” of 10 to 12 Avenue SW was at the time, in the process of rejuvenation. Our guides showed us the good: immaculate wide sidewalks to encourage walking instead of driving, new upscale condos, thriving business and the “cool” bar and restaurant scene to satisfy the young professionals the community was trying to entice. What was very interesting to me was how they also discussed the bad side; gentrification. When a “bad/poor/ghetto/eyesore” neighbourhood gets a major makeover to drive up property values; that’s gentrification in simple terms. This got the conversation rolling and it was a very eye-opening moment for me. Beyond all the beauty of this “new and improved” Beltline, there were still shadows of the community that it once was and the lingering essence of its low income inhabitants that were essentially pushed out.

As a surprise, we ended our walk by climbing on top of a parkade with a great view overlooking the route where we just walked. This experience was very reminiscent of the scene in Dead Poet’s Society when Keating invites his students to stand on his desk to see the world in a different light.ย Carpe Diem,ย anyone? After having spent over an hour looking up at the buildings, being able to look down on them this time and have a wider panoramic view brought the message home.

This is the reason why I love Jane’s Walk and look forward to it every spring. Rain or shine …or snow,ย  being interested in the community we live in by just showing up and listening will hopefully inspire in us the sense of activism to be involved in civic matters. We live here, so we might as well have a say on what happens to our neighbourhoods! This is what Jane Jacobs would have wanted.

To find out about Jane’s Walk and to see if your city is participating, go here.

Postcrossing Haul – Feb 2/14

Happy mailbox dance!!

Six postcards including my very first mail from Turkey!

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Here are the cards in no particular order:

The sender of this postcard from Germany is a lover of crime stories. This is the first time I’ve received a card like this and I’m quite intrigued by the metaphor shown in this picture! Ooooo…..

This peaceful place is of the Wulingyuan Sceneryย  in China – Imperial Bush Peak (according to the postcard since I can’t really read Chinese) Breathtaking view!

My very first mail from Turkey! This place reminds me of the rice terraces of Philippines but the snowy version. I researched more about the Pamukkale and I am adding it to my list of places to visit now! Hot springs on terraces…cool!

This giant stamp set takes up almost ยพ of the card!

This second card from Germany has an enchanting palace. So much art and the architecture…makes me want to take more Art History courses โค The happy face sticker made me crack a smile ^_^ and she even wroteย  the date and a picture of the weather. Love it!

This abstract card comes from Taiwan. She gave me a tip that I want share: the Taiwanese dumplings is a must try! Yuum… who doesn’t love dumplings!

Last but not least is this gnarly looking card from my neighbour down south (USA). The sender’s favorite winter sport is wave running…on a nice warm beach. While my favorite winter sport is snowmobiling…in the cold snow. So close but yet such bigย  differences in climate. Thanks for the introduction to this sport!

This postcard came in an envelope. Here are the stamps and stickers:

Asian Celebration – Gastropost Mission

Gong Hei Fat Choi 2014!

Chinese New Years is celebrated pretty well in Filipino culture. Philippines has a lot of Chinese friends as China isย  a close neighbour. See here for colorful pictures of this year’s celebrations.

I missed out when I was living in the Philippines because there just weren’t any held in our itty bitty island. However, I do remember the treats and the food that came along with it around this time of year.

And now that I’m in Canada, it’s our tradition to partake in the Calgary celebrations held in the Chinese Cultural Centre in Chinatown. However, when my friends and I went there today (Saturday, Feb 1 – ONE DAY AFTER the actual Chinese New Year), we were disappointed to discover that we were a week late!!! What!!?? Is it just me or does it make sense to hold it the day after instead of a week before the actual holiday!? Craziness!! I missed my Chinese fortune too which was my favorite part T_T

Yes the food and the performances are great…but really it’s all about those sticks and the excitement of finding out what I will get for this year’s fortune.

Okay back to the food…

So to appease our disappointment, our friends took us to a dim sum place we’ve never been to: Ho Won. My review of this place is at the bottom of this post.

I was so hungry that I only remembered to take a picture AFTER we’ve pretty much devoured everything! *gasp* How very non-Asian of me!! *hangs head in shame*

Photo copyright: Gracelyn Masangkay/mgracelyn.wordpress.com. Please ask permission before use.

I do not know the Chinese terminology but my best description of the dishes from top left to right are:

  1. Steamed Shrimp Balls
  2. Steamed Shrimp Wraps
  3. Ho Won Fried Rice (in house special)
  4. Deep Fried Squid
  5. Pork & Shrimp Balls
  6. Tea

My friend also ordered a tofu, eggplant and meat ball dish but we inhaled those right away so there were no leftovers to snap a picture of.

After the meal, we walked around Chinatown hunting down bakeries with leftover moon cakes. Tip: Don’t delay buying this stuff. They will laugh at you when you ask the day after.

Although we didn’t find any there, we did come across the Dragon Dance as it blessed the shoppes. It brought my spirits back up as it felt like we were part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

We headed to T & T, an Asian supermarket in the NE, to see about the moon cakes. Success!! There were 3 left *hallelujah!* We ended up buying so many treats but it was all good. It made my Mom very happy and later that evening, her and I bonded over these yummy treats. She used to live in Hong Kong “back in the day” so she told me stories of her experiences there and what the treats signified according to the Chinese culture. I โค my Mom. I definitely get my sweet tooth from her.

Treats
Photo copyright: Gracelyn Masangkay/mgracelyn.wordpress.com. Please ask permission before use.

From top left to right:

  1. Assorted rice cakes
  2. Hopia bean cake package
  3. Citrus (round fruit)
  4. Hopia bean cake (round with Chinese characters)
  5. Egg tarts (my Mom’s favorite)
  6. And the three moon cakes! (lotus)

These sweets are heavenly! Enjoying them with tea/milk and great conversations, it is a great way to learn about a culture. May you all have a very prosperous year.

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My review of Ho Won: 1/5โœฉ

We came in 30 mins before closing time so they were already shutting down operations and judging from their expression, they were non too happy to see us. However, money is king so they seated us anyway. I was not impressed. The food was mediocre and the service horrid. The rice was really salty on some parts. There is a server (an older man) who seems to have forgotten that his job description is to serve the customers. He would ignore us (there were only 4 tables occupied) and when a friend who spoke Chinese finally caught him as he attempted to breeze past us again, he would glare and then leave before were even done telling him what we needed. Rude! We looked at each other wondering if we would even get anything at all! We did get them but the wait was long and we had to repeat our request to another waitress. He brought us the items but there was definitely no “Service with a smile”. It put a damper to a meal that I was looking forward to. On the positive note, the women servers are not so rude so should you visit here, maybe stay away from the guy waiter. From what I’m told, that’s how he is all the time. Also, come early so there’s a better selection. My friends say it is cheaper but I’d rather pay a little bit more at another place where the service is good. There are far better places in Chinatown so I would suggest checking those out first.