Travelling without Travelling

Mid-winter is the time when I get the most itchy to travel. It’s cold out, I feel confined by being inside all the time and I can’t remember the last time I was able to stand & enjoy the sun on my face.

While travel is on the books for this year, it’s a little ways off. There are a couple of trips to Toronto coming up for business, followed by returning to dig at ‘Umayri again, but nothing new. Nothing that’s pure exploration.

And that’s when I start to miss World of Warcraft. Read More


Homemade Herbal Simple Syrups

Sometimes you just want to liven up your morning coffee with something different! In Jordan, coffee is often flavoured with cardamom pods, usually ground right along with the beans. There’s a really satisfying balance between the two flavours, with the cardamom adding just a hint of an herbal caramel flavour.

Not too long ago, Starbucks offered a drink called the Vanilla Spice Latte. I tried it on a whim and there it was, that beautiful cardamom flavour. They quickly discontinued it, so I figured FINE, I’ll just make my own! Read More


Learning the Cello

It’s been on my list for a very, very long time: to learn to play the cello.

When I was little, I’d sit with classical music discs and a giant pair of headphones in front of the old stereo system we had. As I listed to the London Symphony Orchestra play Beethoven, I’d try to pick out each individual instrument before I even knew what the instruments looked like. My favourites to single out were the piano, the flute, and the cello. Read More


Homemade Cherry Liqueur

Every summer, I keep a close eye on my mother’s Nanking cherry trees. When the bright red berries have finally soaked up enough sun, I pick the trees clean and either eat them all or force my mother confect them into Nanking jelly.

This year, there weren’t many cherries on offer. The trees had been struggling to grow and when I had picked what was suitable, there was only about a cup of cherries in a bowl. The local magpies nattered at me the whole time, clearly claiming ownership of the tree’s fruits, but I’m a people and I wanted them, even if there were only a few.

After listening to me complain about the state of the trees, my mother produced a giant bag of frozen cherries from last year’s harvest she’d been hoarding in the deep freezer. And that’s when I knew I was making some booze. Read More


Wild Horse Warm Springs

It’s a romantic idea: a hot spring, secluded and private in the mountains. There’s no one around, just you and the beautiful mountain views, all yours to take in while you soak in warm water and fresh mountain air.

It turns out, such a place exists. Read More


Defining “Home”

Several weeks ago, I was at a market selling my photographs. I was talking with a woman from another table, and we were happy to find out that we both hailed from Montreal. “We’re practically neighbours!” she exclaimed.

She told me she moved to Calgary to be with her children, who had been living here for several years. She’s only been here for two years, herself. And then she asked me, “Does it ever start to feel like home?” Read More

Blog - Cold Brew Coffee - 60067w

Cold Brew Coffee

It’s been really hot in Calgary and as a caffeine addict, this really puts a damper on my morning latte. Of course, brewing a latte and then adding ice is an option, but I always find this ends up tasting so watered down.

Recently, Starbucks has been offering cold-brewed coffee in its shops, but I really don’t feel like paying $5 a cup when I know it’s something I can make myself. A friend of Stephen’s had been making his own, so I asked for the recipe. Fellow Calgarian blog Dinner with Julie has a great recipe for cold-brewed coffee that I’ve really been enjoying, so I thought I’d share & illustrate the process below. Read More


Fear of Travel

As I sat on the bus heading downtown, something about the way the “Stop Requested” lights shone made me feel like I was somewhere else. Like I was travelling somewhere foreign.

And I thought about how some people will never travel. They either don’t have the resources or the desire to leave their home cities. It must feel just too scary to leave, to venture somewhere where people do things differently. It’s a survival instinct. Our brains are wired to ask, “How will I find what I need to feel comfortable when I get there?” Read More


Urban Escape

Last night, I had the chance to try something really amazing: a sensory deprivation tank at Urban Escape.

The float tank is an enclosed pool of water, loaded with enough Epsom salt to keep you floating no matter which position you choose, just like the Dead Sea. When the lid of the tank is closed, it’s pitch black inside. Your ears lie just below the surface of the water, with the option to listen to music. I opted to listen to the ocean with whale sounds, which sounds cheesy, but really made for a serene experience. The tank water is kept at human body temperature, so it feels like you’re floating in nothing at all. All of this combines to leave your senses completely quiet. There’s nothing but your mind and the vague sensation of breathing. Read More

Traditional Bedouin Medicine

It was early in the morning, the light from the sun was just starting to crest over the hill. I was standing on some burlap bags, which had been carefully placed along the edges of the squares to keep the balks from caving in. Below me, a mix of students and veterans were digging away, hauling guffah1 after guffah out to the sift.

Watching others work in the early morning isn’t exactly conducive to staying awake, especially when it comes with a pang of jealousy. I really love to dig and sitting on the sidelines due to a wrist injury doesn’t exactly sit well with me. I’m sure this thought was written all over my face when Adel, one of our seasoned local workers, walked up beside me.

In a mix of my broken Arabic and his broken English, he inquired about why I wasn’t digging this year. I explained that my wrist was injured and that it had been that way for months. He said he had a cure for me and pointed to some grass, “Like this, but different.” Read More