Hi, I'm Karen but I'm better known around the web as Sassymonkey. Most days you can find me on Twitter and at BlogHer.com where I am a Community Moderator. Find out more.

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Friday Links August 29

August ran away from me. I'm confused that September is next week. I'm confused about how it's still kind of dark when I get up in the morning when it should be bright and sunny. I'm confused by the coolness of the weather, causing locals to refer to this month as Augtober. I'm not ready for fall and what comes after. 

So let's ignore everything above and read all the things. 

Friday Links August 29 | Sassymonkey.ca




Sometimes it's easy to forget how far I've come.

I see people I know online who run all the miles. I see people progress. I see people go from not running at all to running twice as far as I do at half the pace in just a few weeks.

There are days when it's easy to wonder why I bother. Why spend money on the second pair of new running shoes this summer when I'm not good at it? Why sign up for races if I'm going to be at the back of the pack? Why keep doing it if I'm not very "good" at it and I have no desire to ever to run a marathon? When people find out I run, I quickly jump in and say I don't run very far or very fast. I get defensive before they can dismiss me as not being a "real runner".

All these thoughts were swirling through my head this morning when I went out for my run. I haven't run a lot in the last six weeks and I'm supposed to start 10k training next week. The plan was to continue to run between the Canada Day 5k and the beginning of 10k training. I was going to cross-train and keep up my general fitness. Between eye surgery, running shoe issues, two trips, and a personal meltdown, I didn't have it in me to run.

Today I stopped the train of negative thoughts, took a deep breath, and remembered that other people do not define my progress and successes. Only I can do that.

I remembered in the spring I had a hard time running a specific stretch of the trail without a break. And how it felt so amazing when I could run a full length of the trail. And then how it felt when I could run the full length and back. I remember how it felt to run farther on the next trail than I ever had before. I remembered how it felt to run my fastest kilometre, even if I couldn't really breath at the end of it (but I also didn't give myself an asthma attack doing it).

I reminded myself that I run because I can. Most of the time I enjoy it. (Bad runs happen. They just do.) I like the way it makes me feel. I am stronger when I run. My head is clearer. I can feel the tension in my shoulders slip away as I put one foot in front of the other. When I'm not comparing myself to others and diminishing myself running makes me feel good about me.

And that's enough.


We Road Tripped

The alarms on our iPhone went of early. We gathered the last of our stuff, distracted the cat (who was so not impressed by presence of suitcases) with treats and packed up the truck. We made a quick stop to grab some drive-thru coffee and we were on our way. 

We listened to music. We talked. We stopped for more coffee. We had the easiest drive ever through Montreal. We missed a turn off for a rest stop when one of us really had to go to the bathroom. We snacked on the food we packed in our cooler. We made each other laugh. We drove each other crazy. 

We made surprisingly good time and pulled into our stop for the night way ahead of schedule... even with kind of sort of getting lost but not really. We were on the right road but we hadn't seen the place we were stopping yet and when we pulled up map apps they told us we should be on the other side of town. Our iPhones LIED to us. But it's all good. We found the hotel five minutes later. 

We were all cramped up from being in the car all day and somewhat annoyed from kinda sorta but not really getting lost so we went for a short walk around the grounds. We found the river and this happened.

Lee on the dock | Sassymonkey.ca

After close to eleven hours in the car and just over 1000 kilometers we found the river and stillness. The resort was behind us. It was quiet. There wasn't another person in sight. The sky was large. The river lapped up against the floating dock. We stood in the silence and took it all in. 

Then we went back to our room, watched an episode of Pysch on our iPad. We went to the hotel restaurant and had fabulous french fries that were obviously made from just cut potatoes. I took one bite and informed Lee that fries like these are why we do not own a deep-fryer. We went back to our room and went to bed ridiculously early. The next morning we woke up early and we were back in the car. 

A stop for breakfast, a stop at Costco to buy as many things for my mother as she would tell us she needed (ie. not many) and then we were on the bridge. The bridge that is always so much longer than I remember. We sang along to the radio, pelting out Mary Jane's Last Dance, as we watched the Island grow nearer. Then we were here. The smell of salt was in the air and the dirt was red (the only correct colour for dirt -- all other dirt is wrong). We stopped at the farmers market for fresh vegetables and got lured in my locally made sausages. And mini-doughnuts. Mmm mini-doughnuts. A bit more driving and then finally, we were here. 

Prince Edward Island cottage | Sassymonkey.ca

Our home for the week. Our "cottage" with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms that feels ridiculously larger for two people. The only cottage we've come back to a second year. (There's another we would have repeated but you need to book a year out and we more book six months out people.) 

We haven't planned out our entire week beyond knowing we want to go the beach as much as possible. There will be some running (for me). Maybe some golf (for him). We will eat too much. We will relax. We will look up at the sky at night and be astounded at how many more stars we can see here than at home. We'll look at red cliffs. We'll get sand in our toes and other, less comfortable, spots. 

We arrived. 


Packing for a Road Trip and Cottage Vacation

Lee and I know how to do a good road trip. We've done many over the past six years. We're good at it. That's a good thing seeing at every year we make the 15-16 hour trek to Prince Edward Island. (It was every other year for awhile but we've bumped it up to every year.) One of the things we love the most about going to PEI -- besides seeing family and going to all the beaches -- is that we rent a cottage. And one of the things we love the most about having a cottage is we have a kitchen.

Greenwich beach, PEI

Packing for a cottage is different than packing when you are staying a hotel. Sure, we still have to pack all the clothes and the beach stuff. We also load a box or two with kitchen stuff. Yes, we are aware there are stores in Prince Edward Island. That's where we buy all our fresh produce! But we also have a really well stocked pantry and it just seems silly to use to pack things we have extra of at home. Why pay $5 for a teeny-tiny bottle of olive oil when I have a Costco-sized container in my pantry? That's just silly.

So here's what is sitting on my dining room table ready to be packed:

  • Pancake syrup. In other words, not maple syrup. Something not generally allowed in my kitchen but everyone has their vacation thing, right? 
  • Pancake mix. I made my own last year. I'm lazy this year. 
  • 1 box of pasta. We have a gazillion in the pantry. Okay, may not a gazillion. But at least 10. 
  • Jasmine rice. See above. 
  • Coffee. Because coffee. 
  • Mustard. Last year showed us that we probably didn't have to pack condiments but we're packing these just in case. 
  • BBQ sauce. Because you always need it on vacation.
  • 1 mason jar filled with olive oil. 
  • 1 mason jar filled with balsamic vinegar. 
  • Hot sauce. 
  • A small mason jar filled with Worchestershire sauce. (Looking at this and going, "Hmm. Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce. I bet they are planning for Caesars." You are right. Give yourself a gold star.)
  • Homemade spice rub that's good for pork and chicken. 
  • Trader Joe's spice rub that's excellent for pork and steak. (It has coffee in it. We love it.) 
  • Lemon pepper. (It's excellent on corn. Try it.)

That's actually really light for us. We often pack more than that but last year we ate out a lot. Based on the list I have going we're probably not going to eat a whole besides breakfast and a few dinners at the cottage. 

When I asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter what they packed, I got some interesting answers. A lot of people pack a good knife and I'm really tempted to pack one of mine. But as I said, we won't really be cooking all that much. I think the most taxing thing I had to chop last year was potatoes. Also, I was just reading Nigella's Kitchen and she doesn't pack knives. I feel like she gave me permission not to. Thanks! 

Some people pack immersion blenders and I'd be tempted to if we drank more smoothies. Someone else suggested special equipment like a crepe pan. I understand the thought behind it but we keep things simple. The most complicated breakfast will be bacon and eggs. 

It was also really interesting to hear from people who stay at family cottages rather than ones they've rented. They included suggestions like bottle water in case the drinking water wasn't awesome but when you rent out a cottage you have to have your water tested and prove it's safe. They were also more likely to include things like toilet paper, which are included with your standard cottage rental. 

We don't pack fresh produce because we are driving so very far. We'll only go part way to PEI on the first day, though we do the whole drive on the way back. Attempting to keep food cool for more than 24 hours is just a pain in the butt when we can buy it locally but we do have one caveat -- we pack fresh food for the frist day of our road trip. 

Road trip snack time!

A few years ago we did three big road trips in about four months. But the end of that last road trip we were so tired of fast food and rest stop food. Last year we tried a new plan and we loved it. It worked out so well we didn't stop for snacks or lunch the first day. It rocked. (We stop and grab breakfast to go. Because coffe.) So in our cooler we'll be packing:  

  • Carrot sticks. 
  • Cucumber sticks. 
  • Grape tomatoes. 
  • Cheese cubes. 
  • Crackers. (We're currently very fond of Nut Thins.) 
  • About half a leftover homemade pizza. (We're having it for dinner tonight.) 
  • Beef jerky. Because it's not a road trip without beef jerfy. 
  • Gobstoppers. (Our road trip candy of choice. Though we might toss in some Bottlecaps too, because we can.) 
  • M&Ms. 
  • A case of water. 
  • Gingerale. 

Because last year was our first time, we had a bit of a fail. We thought we could just use napkins to hold our food. We were so wrong. Things kind of tended to roll, especially the tomatoes. One the way home (we stop the cooler both ways) we used red solo cups. They work perfectly and are cheap. A real bonus of using cups is the driver can stick one filled with nibbles in their cup holder. 

We felt so much better when we arrived at our destination than we eat typical road trip fare.  Also, when you are only stopping for coffee and bathroom breaks (and to refuel) you'll get to your destination way earlier than you thought you would allowing you to have a lesuirely dinner out. Of course, we had a bit of an um issue when we went out for dinner last year. Maybe I'll tell that story later this week. (Hint: PATRIARCHY.)


Dominion City Brewing Company

I didn't used to drink beer. If that statement fills you with confusion, I completely understand. I'm a bit confused by it myself. I eventually smarted up and grew into someone who enjoys beer. I drink good beers and so-called bad beers. I'm not really all that fussy, though I do draw the line at light beer. (There's just no good reason for that.)

I really like to support local businesses and especially local food providers. I think getting to know your local food providers is just smart. Those are people you want to be friends with when the zombie apocalypse happens. We're friendly with some local farmers but we didn't really know any local brewers. Enter the Dominion City Beer Company.

Last night Lee and I went to the pre-launch of Dominion City at Brothers Beer Bistro. It was a chance to try out their beer before they open the brewery to the public this weekend. (Convenient for us since we'll be on vacation when they open.)

Dominon City Brewing Company Earl Grey Marmalade Saison | Sassymonkey.ca

The beer I was most interested in trying, and so were many other people based on how many people I saw walking around with a glass of it, was the Earl Grey Marmalade Saison, or just Marmalade for short. It's a Belgium-style beer that is brewed with zested oranges and organic Earl Grey tea. I love the idea of using tea in beer but I also also a bit wary. I've tried other brands of beer that have used tea in them and I just didn't care for them. I was really happy (relieved?) that I liked Marmalade. It was citrusy with a hint of bergamot and a teeny bit bitter. This is a beer you will share with friends and they will say they didn't know beer could taste this way.

Dominon City Brewing Company Two Flags IPA | Sassymonkey.ca

I really like IPA. There was a limited quantity of Two Flags IPA last night but I was lucky to score a glass. It was hoppy and a bit bitter but not overly bitter the way some can be. When I talked to Josh McJannett, he said when they had a beer and food pairing for friends and family they paired their IPA with Indian food. That made me want Indian food immediately (as is often the case when it is mentioned) but the Two Flags IPA really would go very well with some chana. And some lamb rogan josh. And samosas. Or maybe some chaat.

Dominon City Brewing Company Town and Country Blonde Ale | Sassymonkey.ca

I believe due to our long winters, we especially appreciate a good patio here in Ottawa. Whether it's the patio at a pub or your friend's backyard, there's just something about kicking back with a cold beer on a hot summer day. Dominion's Town & Country blonde ale is a perfect patio beer. And I'm just saying that because they served it in mason jars. It's fresh with a hint of sweetness that, to me at least, tasted a bit butterscotchy. Lee said is smells the way beer should smell.

We'll be on vacation when Dominion City opens to the public this weekend, but we plan to get there to pick up some growlers before Labour Day so we can have a tasting for our friends. And maybe a extra of the IPA so I have an excuse to make all the Indian food.

Thanks to Dominion City Beer Company for extending an invitation to their pre-lauch tasting. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions contained within are my own. I just like beer, y'all. And Indian food. Apparently.