With the sunshine & warm weather this week, I finally feel like we are coming alive. My 5YO gave me a drawing this week. Figured it would be a flower, a sunshine or event a smiley lion. I think she’s been traumatized by our first Calgary winter, it was a snowman.
We’ve been in Calgary for a year and we’re finally looking for a house to make our own. Our kids have been very patient so far as we spend out weekends taking their shoes on and off to tour home after home and try to narrow down neighbourhoods and houses.
Finding the right combination of bedrooms, bathrooms, home office, yard space, quiet street, close to parks AND great investment is proving to be tricky in a Calgary real estate market that currently has 17 per cent less active listings this year while sales volume is up according to the Calgary Real Estate Board’s housing statistics.
We spend the week narrowing down the choices online, drive by and try to figure out which are worth a look in person. Almost daily, I feel like I want to smack a listing real estate agent upside the head for some of the, ummm, liberties they take.
Photos are either really bad like a picture of a bed, but nothing around it to try to understand the context of the room or a giant messy pile or worse, the adult toys sticking out from under the bed, it doesn’t make the house look that appealing. My current favourite is when the realtor bought a fancy new DSLR camera and decided to use a fish eye lens to try to make things appear bigger. Here’s the giveaway, the walls of the room look curved, especially in the boxy houses of Calgary.
The descriptions make laugh too. Some are all caps or intersperses with caps. It takes way too much effort to read.
Others discretely try to find a way to say the house offered was a grow-op without actually saying this was a former drug house and buyer beware. I have to respect the ones that simply show a picture of the house with the rent-a-fence around it with the text “as is, where is”. Okay then, so it’s a tear down.
I wish there was a common dictionary for home listings. A new stainless steel refrigerator ≠ a kitchen renovation. That’s would be like me buying new mascara and saying I had a makeover. they are not the same thing.
Anything renovations in the 20th century do not count as “recent” renovation. Really, kids born in the 90′s are now at least in the seventh grade and many of them can drive cars, vote and buy beer.Imagine if someone said “I recently had a baby,” about their teenager?
If the only car that fit in the garage is a Smart car, then it probably isn’t oversized.
I wish these tips to sell a house were mandatory reading for all house sellers. It would make life so much easier. In the interim, we’ll keep sifting through the listings. i kind of assume the bad photos and slightly exaggerated descriptions are indicators that the house is over priced.
So the search continues…
As we move into spring, life has gotten crazy busy as we run from activity to activity and birthday party to birthday party. It’s that weird transition where school year activities like ballet and music lessons have not finished, but soccer and baseball have started. In Calgary, spring sports start later than in the Okanagan and have compressed seasons, especially considering it was snowing today.
In the midst of all the craziness, we had a weekend of dinner guests which wrapped up with my sister’s family combined with too little time to bake a great kid-friendly dessert.
So, we reached in the archives of fun… years ago, we used to get together with a group of friends in Vancouver to have sundaes on Sunday. Although it wasn’t always sundaes, it was just an excuse to get together and have dessert.
We had some leftover carrot cake that we cut into tiny pieces, added in some vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and a variety of toppings like strawberries, mangoes, bananas, marshmallows and chocolate chips.
We let each of the kids decorate their own and the kids loved it. They were quite eager to clear up the dishes – I think it was just an excuse to come back to the kitchen to sneak an extra chocolate chip or two.
Another one of our Okanagan favourites: 2006 Burrowing Owl Merlot from Oliver, BC.
When we lived in the Okanagan, each fall we would make trips down to each of the wine regions to buy our wine for the year. The particular trip was over Thanksgiving weekend. It was a gorgeous sunny weekend, but cold enough ice was freezing around the sprinkler heads. I should find those pictures… stay tuned.
In the interim, I’ll sure enjoy
Mine is 2006 La Frenz Meritage. It’s one of our Okanagan favourites from the Naramata Bench and is a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet.
We originally bought a case of this and I have one bottle left… when we come back out to the Okanagan this summer, I can’t wait to try their next vintage.
Currently I live Calgary. I’m an Okanagan girl at heart and am taking in as much of Calgary and area while I am here, but my relationship with the city can sometimes be tentative. Each day, my mind changes and so I sit here with one foot firmly planted in Calgary and the other reaching back into the Okanagan. Especially on a snowy April day (although my sources tell me this should be the end of winter).
But Calgary is a good city. Heck, the list of accolades grows daily. It’s a city of opportunities and a good place to call home. There is a growing food scene, arts, music, sports, parks, recreation facilities, family attractions, access to the Rocky Mountains and some of the best people I have ever met.
And the weather is much like the people who live here, spirited, surprising and hearty. Oh and they are lasters. Much like winter.
Calgary Economic Development, in partnership with Tourism Calgary, the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre and the Calgary Hotel Association released a promotional video about the city that showcases the city and the people who live here. The coolest part is that everyone involved in creating the video, director, production company, composer and musicians, is from Calgary.
This is the Calgary I call home. enjoy.
My 5YO has quite the imagination. She’s always playing school, setting up a grocery store or having a birthday party for one of her dolls or stuffed animals. Today is her Dolly’s birthday. She’s apparently one and needed special snuggles at breakfast from each of us.she then had a little party where a handful of little friends were playing games in a circle and getting ready to open presents. But she didn’t have a cake.
“Mom, can we make a cake for her?”
Well, seems like. A good reason to me. I have an ugly carrot cake recipe that’s awesomely moist and I had big bag of carrots in the fridge. I say ugly because it really needs to be frosted – this is one of these cakes that comes it of the oven looking deflated. Add in some cream cheese frosting and it’s gorgeous and delicious.
Mix together to following on low with an electric mixer:
1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Add in 1 cup of oil, 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana and 1 tsp vanilla and mix well.
Stir in 2 cups of shredded carrots.
Our into 2 greased round cake pans and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to loosen around the edges of the cake pan when cool. Put the first cake onto your plate. Spread 1/3 of your icing on top of the first cake and then put the second cake on top. Use the rest of the icing to spread all over your cake.
Cream cheese icing:
8 oz of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 cups of icing sugar.
Blend slowly until mixed together.
Add in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 additional cup of icing sugar. Once combined, turn your mixer to high and whip until there are no more cream cheese lumps.
So clearly, I don’t high a very high bar when it comes to needing an occasion to make a cake. Anything will do, even a Dolly’s imaginary first birthday (we’ve celebrated this birthday on several occasions).
Last week, one of my friends posted the five-day forecast for Kelowna. Sunny, warm, highs of 24 degrees. At the end of March and leading into a long weekend. I wanted to cry.
Calgary won’t be quite that warm for a little while. I’ve been asked a number of times recently about why I love Kelowna so much and why I would even consider going back, especially considering Calgary apparently is the best place to live in Canada and the best place to raise kids and my lovely Kelowna was about a third of the way down the list (it was 76 out 200 Canadian cities, towns, villages and hamlets).
But with the 8YO and 5YO asking on a regular basis when we get to go “home” and early spring weather reports, it’s hard not to long for the Okanagan.
When we ask them what’s so great about Kelowna, they are consistent: our friends, our house, our school, our daycare, and the weather. It’s a tough one and I don’t disagree with my kids, regardless of what the MoneySense study says.
I miss our house and yard. I miss having a pool that we used almost daily for five months. I miss living a few blocks from the beach. I really miss the beach and access to lakes.I miss living on a cul-de-sac where kids played street hockey for hours a day all year long.
I miss living within five miles of a dozen great places to eat and knowing the staff in these places. There are lots of places in Calgary that are exceptional, unfortunately, not a single one is within stumbling distance of us.
I miss knowing where to pick up bread, fish, cheese, meat, wine and great produce and that all of those places were between my home and office. I’m starting to find these places in Calgary, but to hit all of them on a Saturday, well, that would take the entire day and a whole tank of my relatively and delightfully inexpensive Alberta gas.
I miss our daycares. Oh I really miss our daycares. The physical spaces and the amazing people who worked at them. Our daycares here are fine, but we were so spoiled in Kelowna with both of the kids daycares. They were big and spacious, had great outdoor play areas, had access to big indoor play areas and I truly felt like it was a partnership between us as parents and the daycare staff.
I miss our friends. I miss our kids’ friends. It’s days like today where I long for the Okanagan and our life there. We saw Facebook posts over the long weekend of our friends’ kids playing in the sprinkler and comments about air conditioning. sigh.
We came here for an opportunity rather than a lifestyle. Somehow that feels different. But my life here in Calgary and really it is not that bad. In fact, it’s pretty good.
Calgary is vibrant. Cold and windy sometimes, but vibrant. Opportunities and activities are all around us – we really don’t have to look that hard to find something to do on any given day.
The people are outstanding. The business community is generous with their time and welcome newcomers. And I’ve met a community of moms who are kind, compassionate, caring and funny as hell.
We live an hour from the Rocky Mountains. THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS! Seriously, even through I’m not in the Okanagan, I still live in an area that people from around the world visit for business and pleasure and I need to remember that. Seriously.
So as I lament all the things that I miss about my adopted Okanagan hometown, I know that we’ll sort out the daycare, shopping, playtime, yard size and other things that I seem to think would be magically fixed by going back. Summer will come eventually and we’ll have to remember to make the most of it along the way.
I hope I don’t ever forget how beautiful this view is or lose appreciation for how stunning our backyard really is. I keep reminding myself that I live an hour away from a place that people visit from around the world. The Rocky Mountains are truly breathtaking.
This was taken on our first Alberta ski day at Sunshine Mountain over the Easter Weekend. It was a perfect spring ski day and I can’t wait to go back.
We arrived in Calgary one year ago. Our house in the Okanagan was packed up with almost everything we owned going into storage and the essentials coming with us to Calgary in a little apartment sized moving truck: beds, the kids’ bikes, summer clothes and wine.
We packed up in the sunshine and the skies opened up just as we left Kelowna mid-afternoon. I cried all the way to Sicamous, sniffled to Revelstoke and was singing to my road trip sound track by Golden. We pulled into our driveway in Calgary around midnight exhausted, but needing to unpack enough to reach our beds in the back of the truck. The irony of it being April Fools Day was not lost on me.
It might have snowed the next morning. Just a little. Not the sunny day in Canmore, fluffy white snow that softly falls and crunches under out boots. It was the grey, wet, sideways-blowing sludgy sleet that I associate with Vancouver snow. Totally gross.
Our bodies were tired and sore. We had to return the rental truck and the depot near our house already had too many of the apartment-sized moving trucks and so we had to drive it across the city to another location. We had been in Calgary for less than a day and I hated it.
Fast forward a year. My kids have stopped asking to go home on a daily basis. It still happens once every couple of weeks. The bulletin board helps. We have our growing list of things we want to do while we’re here. The kids each have a couple of friends in Calgary, although the 8YO reminds me, ”Not bff’s mom, just bf’s. My bff’s are still in Kelowna.”
The sun helps. Although 25+ degrees in Kelowna at the end of March does not.
So I guess it’s official. We’re officially Calgarians and today is our Calgiversary. Happy Calgiversary to us!