Meet, Eat, Compete


Meet Eat Compete Nicastro'sLast night, Zevi, some friends, and I went to the second edition of Meet, Eat, Compete. Organized by Mike and Jenna, the brains behind the blog A Couple Of Couples, these events are a super fun way to try out some new games and make some new friends in the process! Admittedly, I haven’t participated much in the meeting or the eating portion of the event since I’ve been so engrossed in the games we’ve chosen, but it’s been great to hang out with friends and play some games I wouldn’t normally try!

Both last night’s and October’s events have been held at Nicastro’s Pub, which, very conveniently, is walking distance from our house. We strolled over there at 8:00, and when we walked in the room was totally jam packed! Mike and Jenna have done a great job of spreading the word about the event, and everyone seemed to be laughing and chatting and having a great time. The place did start to empty out shortly after we arrived, and Mike mentioned that there had been a few no-shows in the later time slot. Nonetheless, it was a really fun atmosphere, and having a thinner crowd meant that we had less people to share the expert gamers with .

Speaking of those expert gamers, one of the best parts of this event is getting step-by-step instructions on new games from people who are already pros at playing them. David from Connect More stocks the room with his incredible collection of 200+ games, and he’ll walk you through the game of your choosing so that you don’t have to spend your night trying to decipher a complicated rulebook. He has more games than I’ll probably ever play in my lifetime, most of which I had never heard of! These events are a great way to try before you buy and a risk free way to test out games that you might not normally go for.

Meet Eat Compete Catan Meet Eat Compete Steampunk Rally Meet Eat Compete Cash and Guns

In October, Zevi and I played Settlers of Catan for the first time with our friends who are seasoned veterans of the game, and Zevi actually managed to pull out a win! I thought that this game would be a lot more complicated than it actually was and ended up really enjoying it even though I was still figuring out the strategy when the game was over. We also fit in a game of Love Letter, which is a short little card game that’s super easy to learn and perfect for those evenings where you want to play something quick and easy. This time around we went the totally random route and picked games we’d never heard of before. The first one we chose was called Cash and Guns, and if that name doesn’t give you an indication of how silly and fun it is, maybe the fact that Zevi was simultaneously shooting two people across the table with foam guns will. The next game we chose was called Steampunk Rally, a game invented and put together by a Calgarian! It was a whole lot more complicated, and we needed Paul, who had actually helped design the game, to talk us through the entire thing step by step. I don’t think I would have ever put in the time to learn this game on my own, so I’m glad we had an expert to guide us through it on this occasion!

Meet, Eat, Compete is an awesome opportunity to get to know some cool new people, or to just crush your friends in new ways . There was a big game of Werewolf going on at the table beside us, and I totally want to get in on that next time!  We’ll definitely be back for some more gaming and socializing at the next Meet, Eat, Compete, which I believe will be taking place near the end of January. Follow A Couple of Couples and Connect More to stay in the loop!

Ten Random Facts About Me

Oh hey, it’s Thursday! And not just any Thursday – it’s American Thanksgiving, which means there’s NFL football all day. That’s my kind of Thursday!

For this week’s dose of Thinking Out Loud, I thought I’d share ten random facts about me.running selfie

  • I hate overcooked food. One of my biggest pet peeves is when food, especially meat, is too well done. I love tartare, ceviche, tataki, sashimi, and anything else that’s still fully or partially raw, and I like my steaks to be juuust barely cooked.
  • My movie knowledge is sorely lacking. Asked me if I’ve seen a classic movie and there’s a good chance I’ll say no. I’ve been teased and scorned by many friends and partners for this, and my friend even made me a list of movies I needed to watch (sadly I lost the list when I got a new phone a few years ago). I’m slowly getting through some of the big names, but I’m just not much of a movie watcher!
  • But… I can quote pretty much all of Ten Things I Hate About You. As a teen, I, along with my sister, became extremely obsessed with the movie Ten Things I Hate About You. We’ve probably seen the movie thirty times at least and used to be able to recite all of the lines. I haven’t been watching it as often recently so I’m a little rusty, but there are so many classic lines that will be stuck in my brain until the end of time. Needless to say, no one aside from my sister wants to watch this movie with me.
  • I have an irrational fear of dying in my garage. Every time Zevi or I start one of our cars in the garage with the door closed I get really freaked out and have to open the door immediately. I know it would take a while for us to be in any danger but I hate being in the garage with the car running even for a second!
  • I rarely crave sweets. When it comes to cravings, I have no shortage, but they’re almost always of the salty variety. Put candy, cookies, pop, or cake in front of me and I don’t have any trouble eating just a tiny bit. Give me cheese, charcuterie, or popcorn, on the other hand, and I’m in big trouble.
  • I always partially close my right eye in pictures. I’ve tried to correct this but I can’t help it! Even if I’m thinking about it, every selfie features one squinty eye. Super annoying, but I don’t know how to get rid of it!
  • I love karaoke. I can be quite shy in normal social situations, but when it comes to singing in public somehow I lose all of my inhibitions. It probably helps that karaoke usually happens after a few drinks, but even when mostly sober I love it more than most people I know. There isn’t a karaoke bar in my area that I really love so I don’t go super often, but when I do I’m in my element!
  • I’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of me. Zevi teases me a lot for being a food snob, and I won’t deny that I love good food, but I’m extremely un-picky. Even if something isn’t my favourite, I’ll eat it with little complaint. I obviously have my favourites (pretty much any Asian food), but there pretty much isn’t anything I’ll refuse if it’s put on my plate.
  • I still love stuffed animals. I probably shouldn’t admit this a thirty year old, but I still have a stuffed dog from when I was a baby that I sleep with on occasion when Zevi’s gone.
  • I really like flying. Some people hate airports and planes, but there’s something about being forced to just sit and read or write or watch a movie with no other obligations that I really love. The knowledge that I’m headed off to somewhere new is another reason I love air travel, of course!

Thanks for hosting as always, Amanda!

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

Tell me something random about you!

Five Things To Know Before You Go To Colombia

Colombia Salento Valle de CocoraColombia seems to be gaining popularity as a travel destination. I have a couple of friends who are going there in the next few months, and they’ve been asking me for some advice on the country based on my experiences. There’s so much to see and do in Colombia, and it’s definitely a place worth visiting! Here are five things to know before you go to Colombia.

Bogota Monserrate

  1. Colombia Isn’t A Scary Place: You already know this because you’re planning a trip there, but your family and friends may be freaking out about the fact that you’re heading to a country that used to be one of the most dangerous in the world. I know that many of my loved ones had some questions and concerns when I announced that we’d be starting our South American adventure in Bogota. While it’s true that Colombia was once one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and Medellin used to be the most dangerous city on the planet, the crime rate is down drastically, reaching lows that haven’t been seen in the country in years. Having said all of this, Colombia is just like any other country where you need to keep your wits about you in public places and use common sense. Don’t go and climb Monserrate after 4 on a weekday when it’s all but deserted and there’s minimal police presence. That’s just asking for trouble. Be smart, but don’t be scared.
  2. Drink All The Juice And Eat All The Fruit: I still dream of the dragonfruit and passionfruit and countless others that I can’t remember the names of that we ate on our first day in Bogota at a fruit market. That was our first taste of the fruit that grows in Colombia, and we ate a ton of it while we were there. There are so many exotic varieties, and they’re available everywhere you turn for next to nothing. Everyone’s favourite savoury fruit, the avocado, is sold in giant piles on street corners, and many of them were almost as big as my head. We quenched our thirst on sweltering Cartagena days with freshly squeezed orange and maracuya juice, and ordered jugo de lulo whenever a restaurant had it on its menu. Just close you’re eyes when they’re dumping the sugar in and enjoy. Trust me, you’re better off not knowing .

Zevi Cartagena

  1. You Might Melt In Cartagena: Cartagena was Colombia’s first tourist destinations, and it remains the most tourist-friendly stop in the country. Most people working in the hospitality industry there speak English, and, like any tourist hotspot, you’ll find people everywhere trying to sell you things. If you’re going to Colombia, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be going to Cartagena. I’d never tell you to skip the postcard-worthy old walled city and the artsy-gritty cool vibes of Getsemani, but just be prepared to be hot. And by hot, I mean REALLY hot. I’m a Canadian who’s not used to seeing temperatures upwards of +30 Celsius on a scorching day so I’m admittedly a bit of a wimp when it comes to the heat, but “feels like +48” is a little much for anyone, no matter where they’re from.
  2. Life’s Better Outside The Big Cities: Although we really enjoyed our time in Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena, our favourite moments in Colombia took place in the country. More specifically, they took place in and around Salento, in the heart of coffee growing country. We stayed at an amazing hostel where we met a ton of great people, went on a spectacular hike among towering wax palms, and drank coffee on the modest coffee plantation where it was grown. Of all of the places we went in South America, Salento ranks near the top of our Best Of list. It take a little effort to get there, but it’s well worth the trek!

Zevi tejo

  1.  You Don’t Have To Be An Athlete To Play Colombia’s National Sport: Colombia’s national sport is a total riot, and you’ve probably never heard of it. Tejo (pronounced tay-ho) is the most explosive bar game you’ll ever play, and one of the most fun, too! Players stand at one end of a narrow alley and throw heavy weights at a pit studded with four packets of gun powder. Hit it just right, and you’ll trigger a bang that even your opponents won’t be able to resist celebrating. Throw a couple cervezas in to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a pretty rockin’ night.

Colombia is a beautiful, exciting, and diverse country with a tourist industry that’s just starting to take off. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have a pretty great time, whether you’re there for two weeks or two months. Bon voyage!

How I Spent my Weekend

Calgary McHugh Bluff viewHappy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was pretty uneventful but that’s not so terrible sometimes!

Friday night was about as low key as you can get. I am notoriously really terrible about watching TV shows, which I know sounds weird, but I’ve started so many series’ and just never finished them. Not because I don’t like them, just because I get distracted or get pulled in by something else. The only thing I reliably keep up on is NFL football . Anyways, I’m telling you this to emphasize how out of the ordinary it was that I actually finished Master of None on Friday night. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a Netflix original series written and produced by Aziz Anzari. I thought some of the acting in the first few episodes was a little weak, but I really loved the last half of the show and finished it wishing for more episodes! After that was over, I moved on to The Mindy Project, and proceeded to watch fourteen episodes in a row before I finally went to bed after 1am. Oops! I can’t believe I’m just jumping on the Mindy train now. I’m so in love already! The night ended with a little bit of adventure as my dog escaped from our backyard and I had to chase after him. I may or may not have been wearing my unicorn onesie (the one I wore for Halloween – it’s so comfy that I wear it when I’m hanging out at home sometimes) so I’m sure anyone who was out late on a Friday got a good laugh as I ran around dressed as a unicorn yelling at my dog .

Calgary McHugh Bluff view 2Saturday was a gorgeous and balmy (for this time of year) day, so I went for a 5k run. It had been a while since I’d ran that far and it actually felt a lot better than I thought it would, so that was great. I think +10 and sunny is my favourite temperature to run in, so Saturday was just about perfect. I came home and did some cleaning, and then went out with my sister and a couple of friends to Home and Away, which is a new restaurant/bar in Calgary. It was pretty packed, so it seems like they’re having some good success so far! They have skee ball and a couple of other games but we didn’t play any this time around. They have a pretty good beer selection, and apparently their food is quite delicious, so I’ll have to go back and test it out another time. After we left the bar, a few of us walked over to Tubby Dog for a little (ok, a pretty large) late night snack. Tubby Dog is the ultimate in messy, over-the-top, drunk food but it’s pretty good every once in a while .

On Sunday I did what I usually do, which is watch many hours of NFL football and yell at the TV as the players on my fantasy team don’t do what I want them to do. I may win this week but I could also easily lose depending on what happens in tonight’s game, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I went to my parents’ house in the evening and helped my mom make dinner for some family. I made these roasted carrots and they were a big hit! I had a soccer game with my women’s team late in the evening and we tied… again. We just can’t seem to buy a win this season! Every single game we’ve played has been decided by two goals or less and we haven’t won one of them. We’re definitely due for one.  I was having some knee pain at the game which I am 99% sure is due to a tight IT band. I guess it’s time to get rolling .

What are you watching on Netflix these days?

What’s your favourite food to eat after a late night out?

What I Learned at the Drop-In Centre

Frosty grass

This morning I went to the seventieth edition of Social Media Breakfast, a monthly series where social media lovers get together to hear speakers talk on various subjects. I’ve been to and enjoyed a couple of the other breakfasts, but this one was extra special and one of the most powerful events I’ve ever attended. Held at the Drop In Centre, speakers from the Resolve Campaign, the Mustard Seed, the Alpha House, and the Calgary Homeless Foundation let us in on some of the stories behind the most vulnerable people in our city, and told us what they were doing to give these people the support they need to step in to a better life. There was nothing but sober silence as we watched videos of homeless people telling their stories and talking about the challenges of life on the street. After the main event was over, some of us took a tour of the Drop-In Centre facilities with Jordan, the External Relations Manager. All in all, it was a very humbling and eye opening way to spend a morning.

There’s so much I could pass on about what I learned today, but the main thing that stuck with me is that so much of the homelessness we see isn’t caused by addiction, mental illness, or poverty. Those are certainly contributing factors, but the biggest reason people end up on the street is a lack of social support. Having people who love me and are there to catch me when I fall is something that I absolutely take for granted, as I’m sure a lot of us do, and it’s hard to imagine having nowhere to turn when something goes terribly wrong. So many of the clients who walk through the doors of the DI don’t have that network to fall back on, and they turn to the shelter as their last hope. Feeling isolated and ignored is a huge part of so many homeless peoples’ reality, and it’s one of those things that keeps them on the street.

Beyond providing the obvious necessities, like a place to sleep and a hot meal, the Drop-In Centre staff tries to build people up by listening to their hopes and dreams and helping them come true. It’s amazing what a person can do when they feel supported and believed in. I think that we can all take that back to our own lives. Do we really listen to the people we love on a deep level, or do we stay on the surface? It’s not always easy to dig deeper, but showing the people we care about that we support them no matter what can make such an impact. People are often in more pain than we realize.

There are so many great organizations you can donate your time and your money to, and at Christmas there are more possibilities than ever. But even if you can’t help out financially, consider offering a smile to the next person you see who looks like they’re having a hard time. Instead of crossing the street, think about looking that bundled up, weatherbeaten person in the eye as you pass them on the side walk. Ask someone you care about how they’re really doing, and be a willing listener. I’ve been inspired today to try to be a kinder person to everyone I meet, and I hope you will be, too.


Some Thoughts on a Thursday #3

One day maybe I’ll come up with a more creative title for these posts. Until then… here’s what’s going on in my head this week!

Calgary snow

  • I think that winter’s finally here for good in Calgary! Zevi and I (well, if we’re being honest, mostly Zevi) put on my winter tires on Friday so luckily I was prepared when I had to drive in a blizzard to soccer late Tuesday night. I really don’t like winter driving but having really good tires and an all wheel drive Subaru (the ultimate winter car) makes it not so terrible. The icy sidewalks make running outside and walking my dog tricky (shovel your sidewalks, people!) but the snow sure is gorgeous.
  • I was doing really well in my fantasy football league but I’ve lost four weeks in a row and am now free falling towards the bottom. I really don’t want to lose again this year (I lost last year) so I’m really hoping I can turn things around in the last few weeks of the season. I spend way more time than I should researching players and assessing match ups and changing my lineup. It’s a fun thing to do with friends, but it’s a lot more fun when I’m teasing my friends about their terrible weeks and not the other way around .

Spring Roll Chalet pho

Deville nutella latte

  • I went downtown on Tuesday and met up for lunch with my aunt at a Vietnamese place we used to go to together at least once a month. I worked in a building really close by for over five years and when we we went in the lady who worked there remembered us and asked why we hadn’t been in in so long! She’s so sweet. That place is such a little hole in the wall but their #6 pho is just the best. It’s called Spring Roll Chalet for anyone who’s local! I also got a Nutella Latte from Deville when I was down there and ooh boy, those are dangerously delicious. I don’t normally love flavoured coffee but these are not too sweet and seriously addictive. Deville also has the cutest little food truck that roams around downtown Calgary now – I haven’t seen it in person yet but the pictures are adorable!
  • I’ve written about my love of Snapchat, but one thing I hate about it is hearing my voice on the videos. I often rerecord videos multiple times because I hate the way I sound so much but eventually I just have to grit my teeth and go with it. I feel like I think it’s a lot worse than it actually is but still… ugh.
  • A few weeks ago I bought Blundstones and I’ve been living in them ever since (minus Maui, of course)! I know a ton of other people that have them and rave about them, so I figured it was time I tried them out. Surprisingly, Zevi didn’t freak out when I bought the same pair as he has (he really really hates it when we match which means no couples unicorn costumes are in our futures ). They are so incredibly comfortable, and I can even wear them without socks without worrying about chafing or rubbing in weird places. There wasn’t any breaking in period at all; they were pretty much perfect immediately! If you’re in the market for boots or you’re on the fence about getting some I would highly recommend taking the plunge!
  • We’re finally in Christmas music season! Well at least I’ve decided that it’s acceptable to listen to Christmas music . It’s so nostalgic and cozy and I love soaking it in while I can! My favourites every year are Sarah McLachlan, She and Him, Sufjan Stevens, Michael Buble, and a piano solos album by George Winston. I just listened to NSYNC’s Christmas album for the first time yesterday – it was as cheesy as you would expect it to be but I kind of loved it.

That’s all I’ve got for this Thursday. Thanks for hosting, Amanda!

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

What are your favourite Christmas albums? I need some new ones for this year!


My Calgary: Suzette Bistro

Suzette Bistro completeThe first thing I thought to myself when I walked in to Suzette Bistro was “can I move in?”. The giant windows make the dining room so bright and airy, with a gorgeous gallery wall on one end and a simple compass drawn on to glossy wood panelling on the other. The bathroom has a nautical feel without being overly theme-y and made me seriously consider doing some home renovations. Even before I’d tasted a bite of food the restaurant was well on it’s way to winning me over!

Suzette Bistro Julia Nate Suzette Bistro Heather Stephen

A relatively new addition to Calgary’s Mission dining scene, Suzette specializes in food from the Brittany region of France. They offer the same menu from 11:30 am until 10 pm from Tuesday to Friday, and add an hour and a half on weekend mornings to accommodate the brunch crowd. Their offerings range from pasta, to salads, to steak, but they’re most famous for their gallettes, savoury buckwheat crepes (that just happen to be gluten free if you’re in to that sort of thing!) with a variety of delicious savoury fillings. Although everything on the menu sounds delicious, I haven’t been able to stray away from the gallettes in my two visits.

Suzette Bistro marocaine Suzette Bistro table Suzette Bistro fermiere

The food at Suzette truly demonstrates the beauty of simplicity. My Gallette Marocaine came filled with spicy merguez sausage, tender potato slices, zingy mustard, and silky tarragon cream. Wrapped in a piece of nutty buckwheat crepe, each bite was heavenly. The more traditional Complète arrived with salty ham, gruyere cheese, and egg, a cozy childhood favourite transformed into a comforting grown-up-style delight. Each gallette comes topped with a salad of mixed greens tossed in a simple vinaigrette, which provides a welcome dose of crunch and lightness.

Suzette Bistro Bretonne

Although it might be tempting to show some restraint and let that delicious entree be your last bite, you can’t leave Suzette without trying one of their dessert crepes. We went with the traditional Bretonne and, spread with salted butter, drizzled with caramel, and dusted with powdered sugar, it was a stunner that left the four of us scrambling to claim the final morsels.

If you’re looking for French food with serious style and substance, Suzette is the spot for you. Those nutty, savoury gallettes are like nothing else I’ve found in Calgary, and I can’t wait to go back for more!

Suzette Bistro

2210 4 St SW

Suzette Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Six Fantastic Stops on the Road to Hana

Maui Road to HanaIf you’ve ever even thought of taking a trip to Maui, you’ve probably heard of the Road to Hana. Even though it’s gone through big improvements in recent years, that winding, sometimes nail-bitingly narrow drive towards the eastern end of the island will keep you on the edge of your seat! There are tons of gorgeous stops along the way, and we only made it to a fraction of them, but here are six spots along the Road to Hana that we loved.

Read more

Maui – A Recap

Maui flowersI think you have to try pretty damn hard to have a bad time in Hawaii. Every time I’ve been to one of the islands I’ve been greeted with beautiful sunshine, stunning beaches, and enough fresh pineapple to make my tongue tingle. I just got back from a week on Maui with my entire family – I’d been to Kauai a couple of times before but this was my first time exploring this island. Here are some of the things we got up to!

Read more

On Seasons

Frosty grassThere’s something about new beginnings. The anticipation of the end of one thing and the beginning of another creates a spark in all of us, as we think about what’s to come. Whether we welcome the change with open arms or a hesitant heart, big changes get our minds whirring with new possibilities and realities. We make plans and bucket lists, and promise ourselves that we’ll live this season to it’s fullest while it lasts.

Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to live in a world of never-ending summers, where I never had to to worry about cold toes or dry, chapped lips or a nose bright red with chill. But when I looked outside yesterday at the fluffy snow gently tumbling on to the green grass I wondered whether I wouldn’t get tired of a life without seasons. As much as I dread the long months of cold, dark winter, the first snow gets my brain tingling with thoughts of wind whooshing by my cheeks as I speed down the ski hill and snowshoes crunching through quiet mountain passes and skates biting the frozen river. It reminds me of the hot relief of stepping inside and feeling each toe slowly regain feeling after a long walk in the cold. It makes the cozy couches and weighty blankets and downy slippers of home seem so much more inviting. It entices me with memories of the glitz and glitter and smiles of Christmas and New Years with family and friends. I feel a glimmer of warmth inside me, even though I know there are so many cold days to come.

Winter can be dark and lonely, and when I’m scraping off my car for the hundredth time on a dark minus thirty day in February it can feel relentless. There are some days that I know I’ll want to close my eyes and wake up when we have more than eight hours of daylight rather than face another day of dusky cold, but I don’t want to spend winter wishing the days away. Without the freezing days, the summer sun wouldn’t feel so damn delicious, and the first buds of spring wouldn’t be such a joy.  There’s something about new beginnings, and even the start of the chilliest season brings excitement for what’s to come.