Ode to My Portable Locker and Cruising Towards Saving Time

Your car says a lot about your life, don’t you think? (Photo credit: Rajesh Appalla)

The huz likes to remind me that bumpers weren’t meant to be parking aids. I suppose he’s right, but I’m pretty proud of my parallel parking skills – aided of course, by the use of my car’s bumper. I take driving seriously, but I don’t sweat it when I nudge objects or when things happen to our vehicles.

The Lifestyle Factor

Living how we do (inner city), a lot can happen to your car. We’ve had a side view mirror busted off and one of our vehicles was recently spray painted. (Bad design. So disappointing!) Right now we’re unable to park in our attached garage thanks to a plumbing leak that took place over a month ago. Until the renovation is finished (did I mention it hasn’t even started yet?), we’re back to parking on the street. Naturally, I’m a tad bit freaked out we’re going to incur more “art work”.

Driving to Canmore on the TransCanada Highway pretty much every weekend also taxes our vehicles. I can’t tell you how many windshield chips we’ve accumulated. Normally, I’m not so fussed, but for the first time in my life, I’m driving a decent, newish, responsible vehicle. It feels so adult wanting to keep it ding and chip free!

Dreaming of a cleaner car? I Know I am. (Photo credit Benjamin Combs)

Dreaming of a cleaner car? I Know I am. (Photo credit Benjamin Combs)

Locker-Car, Same Difference

As a busy mom, my car is like my own personal locker. When we get these annoyances taken care of and I’m unable to use it, it feels as though a lifeline has been taken away from me. A quick glance inside the (dirty) interior of our too big SUV reveals:

  • My yoga mat
  • Reusable coffee cup from several weeks ago
  • Some stuffy my daughter, Eve picked up at a fair
  • Eve’s book
  • Buddy’s dog mat
  • Portable dog dish
  • Extra dog leash
  • Half of Eve’s science fair project
  • One sox (dirty)
  • The complete first draft of my book (guessing I was editing that while waiting for Eve)
  • Umbrella
  • Extra sunglasses

All of this is just laying about. Besides the science fair project and the sox, we tend to use most everything permanently ensconced in there. It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like hauling groceries, kid stuff and exercise gear on public transit.

Because of our lifestyle, someone like me definitely needs auto insurance. Well, legally everyone does, and with summer holidays just around the corner, auto insurance should be on every family’s travel checklist. If you’re like me, you want comprehensive coverage, but at rate that works for me.

white SUV in snow

Saving Time and Money

That’s why it’s worth connecting with PC® auto insurance. They operate under a broker model, which means they consult up to nine different insurance companies to find the best rate for you. They do all the comparison shopping for you, saving you valuable time.

Getting an auto (or home) insurance quote with PC insurance is quick and easy. You complete a quote online or call to speak with one of their licensed brokers. It takes mere minutes. PC auto insurance is available in Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of PC® insurance. The opinions on this blog are my own.

How to Plan Your Best Summer

Summer is special. Even if you’re no longer in school, there’s something about the summer months that makes you want to design it so that it’s different than the rest of the year. I make summer bucket lists every year, and I was recently reminded now was the time to make a plan and put some thought into what I wanted my summer to be like.

I was initially inspired by time management writer Laura Vanderkam’s post on her summer fun list. The next day, I stumbled upon Gretchen Rubin’s (of Happiness Project fame) podcast on crafting super summers. You can listen to that podcast here.

iphone and coffee

Map It Out

Like Rubin advises, I had sorted out my daughter’s schedule months ago. If you want your kid to get into the camps they want, when it works best for you, this often has to be done earlier than expected. I then blocked off when I was travelling. Once those non-negotiable are mapped out, you know how much time you have to work with.

Setting this framework to see where you’re already committed is crucial. Some people plot it out on a large calendar, which is helpful so you can see it all at a glance. Key is to make a realistic plan. No point in setting a goal to go camping every weekend if you’re booked up with weddings for most of the summer.

retro couple with city bike

Would going on a picnic be on your summer bucket list? (Photo credit AJ Valadka)

Why It’s Worth the Effort

I’m guilty of scheduling too much, but I don’t want to overload myself this summer. To me summer means time off. It’s a chance to cut loose and break from routine. I haven’t been able to do this in such a long time. My habit is to cram so much into tight spaces, that a delicious summer break for me would be not committing. Listening to the Happier podcast reminded me it was OK to do what I wanted to do – not what I felt I should do. Says Reuben during the podcast:

“Having breaks in the year makes life feel more rich. Disruptions of regular routines and habits makes time feel slower. You’ll remember it better because it’s different.”

Reuben is going to go out for lunch with a different person everyday she’s in New York and read for two hours each day – even on work days! While that’s not my thing, I recognize that sounds pretty decadent.

The Plan

My big summer plan is to not plan anything for the month of August – except a getaway with the huz, while my daughter’s at sleepover camp. We have three empty weeks in August and it’s incredibly tempting for me to fill them up with trips and hikes and tennis lessons. But I’m not. July is going to be crazy enough. I have a 10-day work trip, then I catch the tail end of Stampede. I have one week to bang off the final two chapters of my book and then good friends are visiting from London. That’s July.

August, I’m still tinkering with. As mentioned, my big over arching goal this summer is not to schedule. Not to pitch work and not to book trips (unless I decide in July). There will be sleep ins and bike rides and trips to the dog park and patio lunches. I don’t know when, but often. I’ll sort out the nitty gritty later. Or maybe I won’t. For now, it feels pretty good to have nothing to look forward to.

What do you do to make summer different from the rest of the year?

Meet Buddy, the most demanding of our children.

Meet Buddy, the most demanding of our children.

We brought Buddy home from the Humane Society when he was four-years-old. That was almost five years ago, and he’s been a prominent family member ever since. Our friends joke that Buddy won the doggy lottery. We appreciate his little quirks and cater to his every whim. I don’t think anything can prepare you for how much your pet will own a place in your heart. That’s just something you have to experience for yourself. Still, there are a few things I wish I knew before getting a pet.

Good to Know

I wish somebody told me that pets have distinct personalities and you’re going to have to tailor your care to best fit their needs. Buddy, our shih tzu-jack russell mix is like a needy spouse, who also thinks he’s the alpha male. It’s exhausting. I now have greater sympathy for my girlfriends with insecure husbands. (Buddy thinks I’m his wife, BTW.) He needs to be walked for over an hour each day and won’t eat dog food straight up. He’ll only eat food that’s been mixed with meat or pumpkin or peanut butter. If he doesn’t eat, he throws up – usually on our carpet in the middle of the night.

As much as I adore Buddy, the dog has got issues. He still suffers from separation anxiety, even after all these years. He has many nervous habits, the worst are intense scratching and licking his paws to the point of drawing blood. We’ve been in and out of the vet, had numerous exams, done the cone around the neck thing and pretty much everything we can think of for him.

So what I really wish somebody had told me all those years ago when we first got him, was to consider pet insurance. Sure, I got a brochure about pet insurance when we took him home from the pound, but I blew it off. How much money can a dog cost, I wondered? As it turns out, a lot. Although Buddy’s existing issues and his regular care would not have been covered by pet insurance, there are certainly other issues we’ve encountered where pet insurance would have made a difference.

adorable dog

If your pup was this cute, you wouldn’t say no to their expensive bills, would you?

How Much?

Each year we spend between $700 and $1000 on Buddy. This doesn’t include his food. Surprisingly, I don’t feel too embarrassed about this. That’s because like most pets, Buddy has become part of our family. When someone you care about is sick or in pain, you’re going to want to help them. That’s why Buddy occasionally takes anti-depressants, goes to doggy physio and gets adjusted by a pet chiropractor. You can physically notice the results after treatment, and we go whenever he’s out of sorts.

Getting a quote and buying pet insurance is quick and easy. I know this because I called PC pet insurance last Friday. With them, you can get insurance over the phone or online within a matter of minutes. PC pet insurance helps protect you from high bills in the event of an accident or illness with your pet. Coverage can also include compensation if you cancel your holiday because your pet is hospitalized for a covered and critical condition. Get this, it may even cover advertising and reward costs if your pet is lost.

I was most jazzed to learn PC pet insurance pays for alternative therapies the pet has received for treatment of an insured accident or illness (if ordered by a licensed veterinarian for the treatment of a covered illness or accident). This coverage includes acupuncture, chiropractic services, massage and physiotherapy! PC pet insurance isn’t a health plan, so you pay your practitioner upfront, submit a claim and then receive your reimbursement if approved.

There are different plans available to fit your budget and needs. Rates start at $9.95/month for cats and $10.95/month for dogs. Not that you can predict that sort of thing, but most  pets will eventually become ill or perhaps have an unfortunate accident.

Do you have a pet? What do you wish you knew before getting yours?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of PC® insurance. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Calgary’s Global Morning Show is dedicating each Monday in June to men. I was lucky enough to kick off the inaugural Manly Monday with my top picks where dudes can escape. I blogged about it earlier this week, but sometimes it’s just more fun to watch me embarrass myself on TV. If you really want to get deets on all the Alberta man-escapes I recommended for Father’s Day click here. Otherwise, enjoy the video below.

Alberta Man-Escape Ideas

Do you have any recs for where guys can escape to?

Man-Escapes for Father’s Day

You’ve done soap-on-a-rope, the tie, the basket of beer. Gifting guys can be tricky and frustrating. To do it right for Father’s Day, you’ve got to think like a man – your man. Dudes who crave new experiences and testing their limits will want to hit up these epic man-escapes close to Calgary.

Golf Safari

Whether Dad likes a challenging course to test his skill or he’s after a casual weekend on the greens, the golf in Central Alberta is top shelf. The best part is that it’s easy to book. Golf Central Alberta has brought together some of the finest golf courses and local accommodations to create golf packages fit for golfers of all abilities. Pick your course and your accommodations and they’ll make all the reservations – including booking the tee times. Packages start at $119 per person and include a round of golf for two people.

 Golf Safari

Remote Wilderness Lodge

Get off the beaten path and head to a backcountry lodge in Northern Alberta. Grande Rapids Wilderness Adventures is the real deal. They offer multi day jet boat, canoeing and fishing excursion for outdoorsmen along the Athabasca River. Set in the heart of the Boreal forest, guests reel in big walleye and northern pike, as they make their way through untouched wilderness. The log cabin accommodations are kitted out with all you need for self catering or you can opt to have hearty home cooked meals served to you.

wilderness lodge

City Slickers

Edmonton is once again a cool city. It sports festivals galore that are sure to please the man no matter what their inclination. My top recs would be tickets to Folk Fest in August or the FISE World Series, the biggest live-action sports festival in the world. Taking place September 16-18, it features pro and amateur BMX and skateboard competitions. Afterwards dine at MEAT (smokehouse that sells by the pound) and El Cortez, one of only 9 establishments in the world certified by the Tequila Regulatory Council. 

edmonton folk fest

For gents who prefer the finer things in life, schedule some time at The Boardroom Salon for Men for the ultimate grooming experience. Then, head to La Tienda Cigars to learn about and sample some of Cuba’s best, followed by scotch tasting at The Bothy wine and whisky Bar.

Mountain Man

We live so close to the Rockies, but how many peeps have actually scaled a peak? Yamnuska Mountain Adventures offers Experiential Rock Climbing programs and if you’ve never scaled the Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay, you’re missing out. (Read about my experience here). Alternatively, you could recognize the cave man that he is and pony up for a spelunking expedition deep inside the limestone cave at Grotto Mountain. Afterwards chill at High Rollers, a hip bowling and beer hall before bedding down in a yurt at Mount Engadine Lodge.

Yurt at Mt Engadine

Staycation

Can’t steal away from Calgary? Indulge their inner warrior and sign them up for a spot of axe throwing. BATL Calgary (AKA Backyard Axe Throwing League) has converted a warehouse and offers practice or instruction on a drop-in basis. If you want to ease him gently into this manly man activity, spend a night at Azuride, a swish estate hotel in Priddis. They’ve got an axe throwing range on their grounds, plus a butler, spa and top notch dining room.

azure ridge

If you suspect arms will be sore afterwards, book in for a session at Float-Life. It sounds weird, but here people float in individual tanks filled with 1200 pounds of epsom salts. Dudes love it (I couldn’t believe how many were there when I went) and not just hipsters. Dads who rock mom jeans are also big fans.

What do you recommend for guy getaways?

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