Finding my Voice

When I was a young child I would go straight to the little desk at my grandparents’ house and begin to “write” or so I’ve been told. I have no recollection of when it first began but apparently I would spend hours drawing and pretending to write until I learned to write for real! I don’t know what I wrote but there are probably some papers in a box somewhere at my parents’ house. [Edit: my aunt just reminded me of the time I created a menu for an Italian restaurant – I saw that a few years ago!] I have vague memories of doing this as I got older or maybe it’s that I’ve been told it so many times over the years that I’ve created the memories. I often wonder this about childhood memories particularly when I was really little – do I really remember? Or do I think I remember because people have told me stories about those moments? Something to ponder…

My aunt reminded me the other day that my grandma always said one day I would be a writer. Maybe that day is now. Blogs didn’t exist back in the day, so my grandma probably meant a different type of writing, but does it matter?

Blogging has helped me find my voice. It has allowed me to share my thoughts, opinions and feelings in a different way. I don’t have many followers but my voice has reached readers all over the world. I’ve received positive feedback about my posts and that’s encouraging. I’ve found that desire to share. 

I don’t have a particular niche. I write about what I want, when I want. It doesn’t matter that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s my enormous steaming mug (Starbucks collector series of course) of Decaffeinated Earl Grey from M&S.  And that’s all that matters.💜

Tourist in My Own City: Tour Guys Granville Street & Gastown Tour

Although I don’t have a big trip planned this summer I’m not going to let the next couple months go to waste. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to play tourist. I don’t think I’m the only person who takes what’s right there in front of them for granted. I’ve explored other cities in the world WAY more than I have explored Vancouver. What better time to change that?

When I was in Amsterdam last summer I took an amazing free walking tour and I wondered if Vancouver had one as well. Good ol’ Google came to the rescue and directed me towards “Tour Guys” which offers four walking tours:  Downtown & Waterfront, Granville Street & Gastown, Chinatown and Granville Island. The tours are all free however the hope is that you will tip your guide at the end.

The Granville Street & Gastown tour fit best into my schedule for the week so I booked myself a spot online and made the trek downtown via the Skytrain from Coquitlam – gotta use that U-PASS I’m paying an arm and a leg for every semester (I’m sure some of you local post-secondary students can relate!)

The tour began outside of Pacific Centre (Georgia entrance) and worked it’s way down Granville Street and into Gastown.

We popped into Sinclair Centre and had a look at the original bell from the tower in 1909 while we heard all kinds of information about the history of the area.

From there we ventured down to Waterfront where we had a great view of Canada Place and the North Shore (including a cruise ship that I wished I was boarding!)

Next up was Waterfront Station. We heard a bit about the history of the building, much of which I didn’t know!

From there we went to Gastown where we saw the statue of Gassy Jack (I admit that pic is from March…I didn’t take one today!), the famous steamclock and the old (and not so old) buildings.

We also walked through Bloode Alley as well as Gaoler’s Mews which I never even knew existed.

The tour ended at the statue of Gassy Jack. I was highly satisfied. Our guide, Kyle, was great and I learned a ton about the history of this part of Vancouver. If you’re looking for a great walking tour check out the Tour Guys website at http://www.tourguys.ca/free-tours

As an aside, after the tour I went to MeeT in Gastown (http://www.meetonmain.com) for lunch with a girl I met on the tour. If you’re looking for delicous vegan fare check it out! We shared Organic Steamed Kale and Sweet Chili Cauliflower…so delicious! I forgot to take a picture of the kale but here is the cauliflower.

Tourist in My Own City: Granville Island

Here it is…kicking off my Tourist in My Own City series…first up, sushi and Granville Island!

My friend, Kyla, was in town from Kelowna for a few days and an adventure was to be had on Friday! We headed to Tomokazu, an all-you-can-eat sushi place at 201-1128 West Broadway. Coen and I actually discovered this restaurant on Spring Break and I had been waiting to go back. It’s worth the drive!

Since we were already in Vancouver we decided to attempt to find parking at Granville Island which is no easy feat at the best of times, nevermind a sunny summer day. When we first arrived I thought it was a huge mistake as we were met by a traffic jam. With no choice but to follow the steady stream of cars we stuck it out and after a few minutes we totally lucked out and found a spot. I drove past it at first because it was kind of hidden but managed to back up in time to grab it!

I admit I haven’t explored much of Granville Island. When I visit I usually only go to the Public Market. On Friday we checked out Railspur Alley which was lined with cool shops, cafes and hanging baskets in full bloom!

Next up was the Edible Canada retail store. I didn’t buy anything but it was filled with all kinds of Canadian-made goodies. I was tempted by different jams and seasoning salts but I already have so many! This would be a great place to buy gifts! You can check out the website at https://ediblecanada.com/shop/ I wouldn’t mind eating at the bistro one day!

From there we headed into the Public Market. I love being surrounded by fresh fruits, veggies, meat, seafood and freshly baked pastries! Combine all that with tons of local artisans and I’m in Heaven! We grabbed a drink (White Tea Lemonade from Granville Island Tea Company – http://www.granvilletea.com) and headed outside to sit in the sun. We caught a street performer’s act then enjoyed the gorgeous scenery.

We spent the next little while checking out everything at the market. There’s no shortage of delicious treats but I settled for an apple cinnamon muffin and cheese scone from Laurelle’s Fine Foods (http://www.laurelles.com) and Kosher Dill pickles from Kaylin and Hobbs Pickles (http://kaylinandhobbs.com)

All in all it was a pretty terrific day!❤

Challenge Accepted: June’s Mini-Adventure at Township 7

I’m running out of days in June and next week is busy with it being the last week of school so I thought I better do at least a little something solo today.  I was heading to my brother’s out in Langley and decided I would check out a local winery. For years I’ve seen winery signs on Highway 1 but have never been to any. Today was the day! I spotted a sign just before the Cloverdale exit and ventured on to 176th. I just kept following the wine route signs, not really knowing where I was headed, until one had an arrow! I was headed to 1st R.O.W. Estate Winery Ltd. Or so I thought. After turning into an industrial area I pulled over to google it. It was closed. Upon looking at reviews it seems it isn’t really a winery either; just a storefront. I wasn’t too disappointed that it wasn’t open. I looked at nearby wineries on Google Maps and decided to head to Township 7.

The winery has a small tasting room and a cute patio/picnic area.

I decided not to do a full tasting ($5) however the woman helping me offered smaller tastings of whatever I wanted to try. I tried their Pinot Gris, Rose and 7 Blanc. I’m not a huge wine drinker (I know, it’s kind of weird that I would go to a winery) but I thought all three were quite good. When I do drink wine I usually have Pinot Gris so I decided to buy the Rose today…something a little different for me!

It was a short adventure, but solo nonetheless. I’d never been to a winery by myself before and the woman helping me seemed surprised that I was there on my own. I’m counting it…just in case I don’t have time to do something else this month!

You can check out the Township 7 website at https://www.township7.com. They are also located in Naramata.

BC Curriculum Content Planning Toolkit

I’ll be checking this out for next year!

fruggleshoppers

Hey fellow teacher friends (and/or non-teachers with a weird interest in the BC curriculum), I have no idea if you will get any use out of this, but I thought I’d share it in case you do. It cut my report card writing time IN HALF and seriously helped with my planning.

I’ve taken the new curriculum (K-3 only) content section and (painstakingly) typed it out (including all of the points that expand) and put it into a toolkit that essentially you can copy and paste your desired points RIGHT into your report cards.

Check it out, I even added a term 1/2/3 checklist so you can plan your year. (More info on what I’ve done is in the first page of the document.)

This doesn’t include Curricular Competencies or Big Ideas.  The pdf version has comments that can be copy+pasted right into MyEducation BC.  Feel free to download and share…

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Procrastination Tips: Report Card Edition

The school year is coming to an end and with that comes the writing of report cards.  You would think that knowing they are the last ones of the school year would be motivation in itself, but it just doesn’t work that way.  And so, here it is, in no particular order, a list of procrastination tips!

  1. Coffee Date with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile – 2.5 hours later you’ll be SO SURE you’ll crack down and work when you get home
  2. Grocery Shop – Surely stopping for three items on the way home is necessary
  3. Make Lunch – It’s 1:45 pm by now.  You’ve got to eat!
  4. Text with your significant other until they go to sleep (9 hour time difference) – It just wouldn’t be right for him to go to sleep without having a lengthy conversation about eggs (weird, I know)
  5. Search for recipes on Pinterest – What can you do with the protein powder that in your pantry that is about to expire?
  6. Make peanut butter protein balls for the first time ever – That protein powder can’t go to waste
  7. Check Social Media approximately ever five minutes – You just never know when someone will post something important
  8. Watch an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix – Heaven forbid you get too far behind

FINALLY…you’re ready to focus.  Here it goes.  Open laptop.  Open report card file.  Work on Opening Comments for approximately 15 minutes and then realize it’s 6:00 pm. Dinner time at last!

8. Make dinner – A girls gotta eat
9. Go to blog site – Have you had any views today?  What could you write about?
10. Watch Orange is the New Black –  Your SO told you Season 5 is out now but you’re only on season 2!  You need to catch up!

11. Call back the friend that called you earlier – Wait.  Shouldn’t she be writing report cards too?
12. Check cell for messages – Woohoo!  Brook is procrastinating!  She’s writing something that would make a good blog post.  Brainwave!  Write a post about procrastinating!
13. Text your best friend – She will probably respond right away if she’s a teacher because she’s probably procrastinating too.  Yup, Kyla just washed her hair in avoidance.
14. Write that blog post – And here it is…Procrastination Tips: Report Card Edition

Okay, that pretty much sums up my Saturday.  Maybe now I’ll be able to focus on report cards.  But wait…I should have pictures in this post…

 

I Can Laugh Now: Reminiscing About Roadblocks in Amsterdam

It’s coming up one year (10 months really) since I travelled solo to Amsterdam and I find myself reminiscing about the roadblocks, albeit small ones, that I hit during my trip.   I can’t believe I still remember these things.  They must have left quite an impact on me.  At the time I felt embarrassed, confused and the like, but I can laugh now…

Truthfully, one of the things I was most anxious about was getting to my hotel from the airport.  I knew I had to take a train before getting on the Metro and I knew what station to get off at, but that was about it.  Coen assured me Schiphol was well-marked with signs for transportation, but still, I was envisioning myself lugging around all my belongings looking totally lost.  After picking up my luggage I looked for those signs…they were everywhere!  I was SAFE!  Right!?! Perhaps…until I encountered the machine I was supposed to use to use to buy my train ticket.  As I approached the machine I looked at it blankly.  I didn’t know what any of it meant!  I looked at the map of all the train lines. Yeah, that wasn’t very helpful.  I was totally clueless.  “I know,” I thought, “If I press some buttons for the line I THINK I’m supposed to take I’ll be able to figure it out!”  A few presses in I realized that wasn’t going to work.  So, with no ticket in hand, I looked around to see if anyone was watching me and slipped away, hopefully unnoticed, in search of help!  Fortunately after a few minutes I found actual people that I could purchase my ticket from!  Needless to say I bought my return train ticket from a person as well.

So I’m a few hours into my first full day in Amsterdam and I’m looking for somewhere to get coffee when I spot McDonalds!  Yes, I was 7700km from home and went to McDonalds. Well, almost.  I walked into the doorway.  Does that count?  So, what stopped me?  The SELF-SERVE KIOSKS!  I’d never used one.  What if I couldn’t figure it out?  Would there be an English option?  Or would I have to attempt to read Dutch?  At that point my Dutch food and drink vocabulary was pretty much limited to water (water), appel (apple), boterham (sandwich), sap (juice), brood (bread) and melk (milk.)  I high tailed it out of there and pulled out my phone to text Coen asking whether I had to use a kiosk or if I could still order at the counter!  I ended up going to a different café that day, but did visit a different McDonalds another day…and went straight to the counter!

That same day I had taken the tram to Dam Square and managed just fine.  I got off and made note of the stop (not the same one) where I would catch the tram back.  I could do it!  After wandering around for hours I headed back to the tram stop.  I was pretty sure I was in the right place but the driver was standing at the door so I thought I would ask him just in case.  “Excuse me, is the correct tram to take me to Jan van Galenstraat?” I asked.  He looked at me with what I thought was a slightly odd expression.  “Crap!” I thought.  “Maybe he doesn’t speak English.” I tried again and pointed to Jan van Galenstraat on my little map.  He started laughing at me!  “Ahh, Jan van Galenstraat!  Yes, this is right,” he said.  His pronunciation of Jan van Galenstraat was quite different than mine.  Let’s just say some of their letter sounds are quite different from English!  He ended up being super helpful.  In the end I don’t think his laugh was meant to embarrass me.  I think he appreciated that I at least tried to say it.

Google Maps!  Yes!  Thank Goodness!  Or so I thought…One morning I was off to Anne Frank House.  Online tickets sell out way in advance and I wasn’t prepared to wait in line for ours for general admission so I was lucky to find tickets released earlier that morning.  I had a general idea of where it was; I had seen it on the walking tour I went on and I knew which tram stop to get off at.  While on Wi-Fi I found the walking directions from the Westermarkt tram stop to Anne Frank House.  It looked easy peasy so off I went.  I followed the directions and walked down the street enjoying the scenery; gorgeous old buildings and canals.  After what felt like forever I realized the time I had to arrive was approaching.  I thought Anne Frank House was much closer to the tram stop.  To be honest, I wasn’t even 100% sure what street I was on.  Keep in mind that most street signs are pretty small and on the side of buildings.  Anyway, I pulled out my phone (I had a travel plan for emergencies) and found the directions to Anne Frank House from where I was.  Turned out I had walked in the complete opposite direction!  I think the original directions were from the tram stop on the other side of the road.  I turned around and prepared to speed walk to my destination.  In about 10 minutes I was back where I started.  In TWO MINUTES I was at Anne Frank House.  OOPS! I learned my lesson about double checking directions!

At the time I was embarrassed to share these little stories, but I can laugh now…