Getting out of your comfort zone.

Jenn from A Country Girl's World is a newlywed who loves to travel and do things to get out her comfort zone. Kudos to her! Even though I like to experience new things, including those outside my own comfort zone, you'll still never catch me on a roller coaster. Take is away Jenn...


The quote above is one of my favorite quotes. I love it so much because I find it to be so true! Some of my best and favourite experiences involved getting out of my comfort zone! Today, I will be sharing some of my favorite experiences which involved me getting out of my comfort zone! 

Before I get into this post about some adventurous things that I've done I think I need to explain my weird relationship with heights. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of heights, but I also wouldn't say that I'm not. I'm OK in things like tall buildings and planes but I get scared when I don't feel that security. That is the fear that I've worked hardest on and I feel like I've come as close as I will to overcoming it - heights still make me uncomfortable but it doesn't stop me from doing things I think would be amazing :)

Parasailing in OCMD
I had been wanting to go parasailing for a long time, I thought it looks like so much fun! The opportunity presented itself in 2007 during my Senior Week trip to Ocean City, Maryland. I was all about it and my friend Kristin decided to join me. We made reservations before we got there for the highest you can go (80ft) and were so excited to get out on the water! Though it wasn't as thrilling as I thought it would be, it was definitely an amazing experience! It was so neat to see Ocean City from above and come down to have our toes dipped in the water! It was also a relaxing experience - you truly feel like you're moving super slow.

Repelling in Italy
In Assisi, Italy we spent the day with an amazing group of New Zealanders with a company called Full On. One of the most amazing experiences of that trip was being able to repel down a 100ft castle wall that was not open to the public! Three people went at a time and I volunteered to go in the first group of three. I was completely freaked out when they made us hang over the wall for a picture before beginning to repel! Once I was at the bottom I was so proud of myself for volunteering to go first and for making it down without panicking! It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

Zip-lining in Costa Rica
This was the single most amazing thing EVER! While in Costa Rica we spent most of the time working, but we had one free day to do something fun and were given a few choices. Everyone thought zip-lining would be the best and it most definitely was! The entire trip through the canopies was about an hour and a half. Also, at the halfway point there was a larger platform where we stopped for drinks and a rest and it had amazing views. It was a little scary at first but it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life, and we saw so much wildlife!

Jumping Off A Rock Quarry in VA
Look up East Jesus in the dictionary and Louisa County Virginia will be pictured right there. Several times over the summer we'd off road up to this quarry in the middle of nowhere. There was an area where you could jump into the water and climb the rocks back up. The drop was probably about 30 feet. It took two visits before I finally jumped, but I'm so glad I did! It was super fun and the water felt so good. No matter how hard we tried, no one ever touched to bottom and we have no clue how deep it really is. 

Extreme Sky Flyer at Kings Dominion 
I have been going to Kings Dominion since I was in middle school; it's one of my absolute favorite amusement parks. Every time I went I really wanted to go on the Extreme Sky Flyer but never could because it cost extra. So, before my husband and I went with our friends in 2011, I made sure that we had the extra money to do it. It was one of the most terrifying and awesome 5 minutes of my life!

The Time I Jumped Off a Bridge
This was the most random thing ever. Myself, my best friend and one of my coworkers at the time, decided to go swimming in Broad Creek by my coworker's house. We found a place to swim near this bridge and set up our stuff. Then we see these guys up on the bridge and watch them jump into the
water. They told us what to do and one jumped on either side of us the first time. We had so much fun,we decided to do it again! I think the drop was around 25-30 feet.

Rock (Wall) Climbing
For some reason this was super scary to me. I am so glad I did it though! I had a blast the day that I learned and I lucked out in going to a University that had a rock wall in their gym. I definitely took advantage of that!

That Time I Rode a Bike For 30 Miles
I guess that's just what you do in Maine. This bike ride was very hard at times and there were definitely some interesting things that happened. It was very difficult but super rewarding at the end! 

Thanks for sharing Jenn!

Go say hi to Jenn:
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Making the most out of a new experience

The takeovers are starting with Emily from The Hall's Day to Day in AKEmily and her husband moved up to Alaska right around the time my husband and I were moving back to Canada, so it is only appropriate for her to take over while I'm back visiting the great state. I love following her adventures, and I'll admit, I have been vicariously living through her....


Hey Guys! I'm Emily over at The Hall's Day to Day in AK. I stumbled upon Mar's blog before we made our trek up to Alaska. At that time, Mar was still in Alaska and reading her posts made me even more excited about moving 4,000 miles away from our home state of Illinois to the wonderful state of Alaska. It's crazy that I am now doing a guest post on her blog today!

I am married to an avid outdoorsman and my wonderful husband of one year, Joshua. He is really the reason we moved to Alaska. His goal in life is to be an Alaskan State Trooper, so we figured the first person to get a job in Alaska would be our reason to move and make the Last Frontier our home. Who knew our first Alaskan home would be in an Alaskan village in the bush?!

Mar is always posting about her different trips and offering some of her favorite travel tips on her blog. So what better way to start off her guest posts then by writing a post listing five ways someone can move to a completely new culture, new territory, new everything and get the most out of it!

I guess before I write I should give you some background on our past year. Joshua and I moved to the Alaskan village of Newtok. This is a Yupik Eskimo village, 90 miles from Bethel - 90 miles from the nearest road. Newtok is a town of 320 people - 95% of them being Yupik. There are no roads (like I mentioned before), only boardwalks. The school is the only building in Newtok with running water. Luckily, we could shower and do laundry there, but if we wanted water at our home, we had to haul it ourselves. And to use the restroom, we had an incinolet. If you don't know what that is, and I would be surprised if you do, look it up now!

So knowing we were to move to an Alaskan village in the bush was something definitely out of our comfort zone and something completely different than what we were used to! But here were our five things we kept in mind as we made our journey to Newtok. And it could not have been more blessed!

The first tip is to just be brave enough to consider something totally new. I know this probably sounds silly, but it is so true. Even just the thought of moving away or doing something completely different can be terrifying. Be brave enough to set your own limits, your own dreams, and your own experiences. Joshua and I both felt like we couldn't possibly be ready to experience everything we imagined life was to be like in Newtok. That didn't stop us. We were brave enough to get on that plane and say goodbye to everything we once knew. Best decision of our lives.

The second tip is to be ready and willing. I say be ready because I definitely wouldn't go to some new place where I had no idea what to expect. Granted, we knew it would be different than what we even imagined, but we had some sort of idea. Even after we had prepared and what we thought was ready, we still felt timid about this experience. This is where our willingness came into play. If you are willing to put yourself out there, to experience the most out of any situation, how could it not be a great time?! We didn't know for sure all the experiences we would have during our year in Newtok, but we sure were ready and willing to experience it! Which leads me to my next tip...

My third tip is to have (and keep) an open mind. When it comes to moving somewhere completely different, every culture/town/state is different than where you grew up. Our entire year in Newtok, Joshua and I did our best to keep an open mind. No one is just like you. People like different things and hate different things - such is life, right? Having an open mind can help you realize so much more about yourself. Before you know it, you aren't the same person as you were when you first moved. The Natives in Newtok spoke differently than we did, they ate differently than we did, they lived life differently than we did. Having an open mind allowed us the chance to get to know them and their culture and to understand why people live and act the way they do. This tip alone can be the saving grace to any new experience!

My fourth tip is to embrace everything about your new experience. One definition of embrace means to welcome and take advantage of something eagerly or willingly. Joshua and I knew going in that we had to embrace everything about the Yupik culture. What this meant to us was that we would try everything we could. We tried native foods such as stink fish, walrus, aqutaq (Eskimo ice cream) - foods that we never would have imagined eating in Illinois. We participated in Yupik dancing, as shown above. We did everything we could to embrace this wonderful culture, because we knew that nothing lasts forever. We had to embrace everything we could before time ran out. 

And my last tip is to just be friendly. As the saying goes, "Treat others the way you would like to be treated." And this could not be more true as you move to some place new and become involved in a new culture. People will know if you are an honest person, an open-minded person, a friendly person basically from the moment they meet you. Being friendly to the people in your new community can do nothing but bless you and your time there. Joshua and I made some of our best relationships with the people in Newtok because we were willing to dive in and be friendly to them. I mean, who else invites an outsider/white person out to go moose hunting with them when it is only a family of Yupik Eskimos going? We had some of our best experiences in Newtok by just being friendly.

So guys, thanks for reading our top 5 tips to making the most out of any experience! I would hope these tips helped you, not necessarily wanting to move to an Alaskan village (although you wouldn't regret that decision!) but to at least feel the urge and excitement of trying something new! And thanks to Mar for letting me guest post!

 If you want to read more about our year in Newtok, check out some of our best posts hereBut be sure to check in once in awhile at The Hall's Day to Day in AK to see what's happening in our new home of Seward, Alaska! The adventure continues!

Find Emily here:
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Adios Amigos.

Peaceout friends. This time tomorrow, we'll be soaking up the long days in AK!

While I'm away, I've got some incredible ladies lined up to take over t.o. & fro. Make sure you stop on by and say hello.

Not to worry, Alaska does have wifi, so make sure you're following me on Instagram: @toandfro21. Hopefully the pictures I post won't make you too too jealous. I promise you'll get the full recap, complete with photos, when I touch back down on Canadian soil.

But for now....

And don't forget... there's still 5 days left in June, which means 5 days left to take advantage of 30% OFF all ad spaces with code ALMOST30.

Have a good week!

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Disconnecting in Algonquin

'Camping with the Wards' in AK always meant rain. The presence of thunder and lightning storms in Ontario kind of brings 'camping with the Wards' to a whole new ball game.

Last weekend we spent 4 whole days in the "interior" of Algonquin Provincial Park, completley disconnected. Cell phones were off and our minds were open. And yes, it poured the first night.

I wouldn't say I'm a seasoned "canoer", but the paddle-in campsite at Canisbay Lake where we chose to stay is a keeper. It had all the luxuries of "interior" camping - seclusion, quiet and all around peacefulness, with all the perks of a full blown campsite - less than a km from the car in case we forgot something, a fire pit and even a hole in the ground with a toilet seat. The only negative was the mosquitoes - we got eaten alive! At one point in the weekend both of my eyes were swelled shut! Ya, it was gross. Thank goodness for Benadryl.

Established in 1893, Algonquin Park is the oldest, largest and easily the most popular provincial park in Ontario. With over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers, the park is considered part of the "border" between Northern and Southern Ontario. It is the largest remaining stretch of continuous forest in Ontario, and the unique mixture of forest types, and wide variety of environments within, supports an uncommon diversity of plant and animal species. 

The Warden brushing up on his rules for running an efficient camp.

When we left AK, we made a promise to each other that we would go camping at least once a year. At around 2.5 hours north of Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park is the perfect destination to escape and reconnect with nature. There's almost nothing better than falling asleep to the calming sound of spring peepers and loon calls.

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Summmaaaa Time

Well I'm back from my long weekend in the Ontario wilderness. And while the mosquitoes may have gotten the best of me, the time away surrounded by nothing but green and blue was so relaxing, and I can't wait to share over the next week(ish).

This past weekend was not only an adventure, but it also marked my unofficial start to summer. From this weekend on, we'll be soaking up the summer as much as possible. Here's so things I'm looking forward to...

+ All things Alaska
+ Our 1st anniversary in Seattle
+ Friends' wedding
+ Beach, cottage and family time
+ Scuba diving
+ Toronto Festival of Beers
+ ... And maybe a new adventure on the horizon?!

I'm not the only one excited about summer, check out what these cool cats are looking forward to...

Ashten @ Always Ashten

What is your blog about?
"Always Ashten" is a lifestyle blog where "classy, sassy and a little smart assy" is not just a saying but a way of life. It's the accumulation of all the random thoughts that go through my brain at any given moment, and acts as a means to express myself without annoying all my friends by talking too much. 

What are you looking forward to this summer?
This summer I'm celebrating my 30th birthday on 2 coasts. I'm so excited to start this new decade of my life with some of the most important people in my life. It will also be the first time my dog, Warner, gets to go on a boat....and the idea of him wearing a life vest tickles me.

Find her here:  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram 

Megan @ The Artistic Brunette

What is your blog about?
The Artistic Brunette is all about empowering young people to live a successful, creative life. The mission of Artistic Brunette is to "empower, encourage & inspires individuals to live a creative life!" What do I mean by a "creative life"? This type of lifestyle is full of possibilities. This gives you the ability to try new things, see the world, define your career path and become to best YOU.

What are you looking forward to this summer?
I am looking forward to starting my first job out of college!  It is my dream job, and I can't wait another second for it.  When I'm not working, I am looking forward to hitting the beach!

Find her here: Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest

What are you looking forward to this summer?

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28 Things

Oh hey, it's my bday. In honour of my almost 30th 28th, here's 28 things you might not know about me, and some you do...

>  I've been a four-eyed freak since Grade 3. Blind as a bat.

>  I have a frankenstein scar on my left elbow. 30 zips.

>  I hate when things touch my neck.

>  I make a killer fettucine alfredo, from scratch.

>  My favourite animal is the musk ox.

>  I prefer chips over chocolate and ice cream.

>  I'm an avid scuba diver.

>  I'm a total nerd, and continue to take online courses.

>  I won the French Award in Grade 8.

>  I have a birthmark, aka stork's kiss, on my forehead. It makes an appearance when I'm a) very pale or b) very angry.

>  I have owned every small animal, except for a rabbit and bird.

>  I enjoy a good crossword every day. Keeps the mind sharp.

>  I'm allergic to shellfish, and have been for about 10 years now. Everyone tells me I'm a cheap date.

>  I actually know what the fox says.

photo by S.Hartman 2013
>  I'm not a cuddler. I enjoy my sleep way too much.

>  I played competitive soccer for 8 years. Last year was my first time playing in 5 years.

>  When I got married, my initials stayed the same and my signature is almost identical.

>  Personality tests reveal I am 51% extrovert, 49% introvert. Some days I agree, some days I disagree.

>  I am a strong believe that every baby should own a pair of baby jeggings.

>  Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla wins every time.

>  The only bones I have ever broken were fingers and toes.

>  When I go to Subway, I always get extra pickles and olives on the side to eat them plain.

>  My day is toast if I don't have my morning coffee.

>  My favorite colour is blue, like water.

>  When I hold the door for someone and they don't say "thank you", I say "you're welcome" anyways and make sure it is heard.

>  Even though we have lived back in Canada for a full year, I still catch myself calling the last letter of the alphabet "zee" instead of "zed", calling backpacks "bookbags" and saying "praw-cess" instead of "process".

>  Sometimes I do the above on purpose.

>  I once won a contest to meet Hilary Duff backstage after a concert in Vancouver. My sister was her #1 fan and she entered me.

Happy hump day!

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What the Fiddlehead?!

What the fiddlehead is a fiddlehead?!

Fiddleheads are some of the world's coolest greens. The new, unfurled edible fronds of the wild ostrich fern, which get their name because of the striking resemblance the head of a fiddle or violin, are a seasonal delicacy in many parts of North America. Depending on the weather, they begin to appear in early spring, when ferns grow their new shoots (around late April to early May), along river and stream banks, in open woodlands and at the edges of swamps and marshes across parts of North America.  

These springtime gems are loaded with iron and potassium, and are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They contain twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and around 7 grams of fiber per cup! Their flavour is often compared to asparagus - grassy, earthy, and totally spring. 

Have you ever gone wild foraging? I wish I could say we picked these ourselves, but instead receive them from the sustainably-sourced weekly produce program my sister-in-law belongs to.  An important tip to remember if you do go foraging for fiddleheads - other ferns can be toxic, so never forage without an experienced guide.

How to cook fiddleheads

Fiddleheads have a grassy, spring-like flavor with a hint of nuttiness. Many people agree that they taste like a cross between asparagus and young spinach. I would even say green beans.

Fiddleheads should never be consumed raw.  Preparation is super easy - Carefully remove brown scales then wash well under cold running water to remove dirt before cooking. Trim woody stems from the ends. In order to highlight their unique flavour, fiddleheads are arguably best prepared by boiling for 10 minutes, or steaming for about 20 minutes, then tossing with melted butter, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Because fiddleheads are grown in the wild, they are at risk of carrying contaminants that may cause illness. So, however you cook them, please always remember to boil them first.

Serve at once as a side with something yummy, like my fave pork chops with apples and onions and roasted sweet potatoes. (Find the pork chop recipe here. FYI, it only costs around $5 for 2 servings.)

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Ladies Drink Beer

My relationship with beer was not love at first sight. In college, even dollar beer nights couldn't entice me. When we moved to Alaska, my whole world changed. But instead of Molson and Coors, it was the IPAs that wooed me. Craft beer and I struck up a beautiful friendship. And turns out, I'm not the only woman who's fallen... 

I first learned about the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies (SBDL) while cruising BlogTO one day over lunch. BlogTO is a fantastic resource for all things to do, see and eat in Toronto. I came across an article about the top spring beer events in the city, and was intrigued by the blurb about SBDL. I immediately started stalking following this group of 5 women on social media, and learned their passion for craft beer has inspired monthly women's only beer drinking events. Lucky for me, I was just in time to buy tickets for their May event, Bevy0005. 

With tickets in hand, and location only delivered by email 2 days prior, last Friday, my sister in law and I ventured to the west end of the city in search of "The Hole in the Ground". Literally, it was a hole in the ground. The only reason we were able to find the place was because one of the ladies was standing out front and waved us in. We walked down a narrow set of red-lit stairs to a basement bar, most would call it a dive, and were immediately welcomed into the room of 100 plus ladies with pints in hand. We didn't waste any time, filling up our new Bevy glasses and sampling an assortment beer from local craft brewers. Just a bunch of real ladies, drinking real beer.

Kudos to the ladies of SBDL. Bevy0005 was one of the coolest events I've ever been to, and I look forward to more!

In the Toronto area and enjoy good beer? Bevies are held on the last Friday of every month. As a word to the wise - Bevy0005 sold out in less than 3 hours, so if you're looking to get tickets, be prepared to purchase as soon as they go on sale. Tickets are only around $20, and give you 2 beer tickets. Official Bevy glasses can also be purchased beforehand or at the door. Once the tickets run out, beers are only $5 a pint, and a portion of Bevy ticket sales help support the Canadian Women's Foundation. These are women only events, but men are only invited to attend after midnight. The venue is kept secret for the entire month leading up to the event, and is sent via email a few days before.

Check them out:
website  |  facebook  |  twitter  |  instagram 

Do you enjoy beer? 
What's your favorite kind? 
Any favourite brewers? 

Almost 30

Happy June!

June is my favourite month. You get the best of both worlds, spring and summer, all rolled into one tiny package. Not to mention, it's also the month I was born, which just adds the icing to the cake...

In honour of my [almost 30th] birthday, and the best month ever, I'm offering 30% off all ad space for the entire month! Use code ALMOST30 for 30% OFF all sponsorship options

In less than 4 weeks we'll be back up in Alaska enjoying neeaature and I'm looking for guest posts while I'm away. Interested in taking over t.o. & fro? I still have two vacation guest post options available! On top of the guest post, your ad will also be featured on my sidebar for 15 days (June 25 to July 10). This option is completely FREE!?!

Now to put a smile on your face, here's a super awkward photo of the little man Titus dressed as a turtle...

Have a good week!

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