#YEG Gift Guide

November 30, 2012


In anticipation for the Royal Bison this weekend, I thought I would share a Miss Sarah #yeg specific gift guide for you all. I'm at the point now where I like to give things that are beautiful and useful (ideally both, but definitely one or the other). I'm super excited to go RB browsing after teaching on Saturday, and here are a few local haunts I also like to do my shopping at.

Here are some things that I would love to be on the receiving end of (and would be fab for anybody):

A Selgado Fenwick T-Shirt. City and Dale just did a little write up on the t-shirt duo and I have to say the Selgado Fenwick shirt I have has been worn and worn and worn. Don has a bear one.


Mine has whales!

They will be available at the Royal Bison this weekend.

Selgado Fenwick T-Shirt

A Gabe Wong Calendar.

Somehow I missed Gabe at the fair last year and have thusly only been able to enjoy this calendar by proxy at Lisa's house. I'm not sure if he has one for 2013, but I counting on it. The vendors list says he will be at the RB - so whatever he has going on, I know it'll be worth picking up!

Gabe Wong 2012 Calendar

A Book of Art:

The Raymond Biesinger B+W Book.

The grand daddy of Royal Bison is going to be there himself, slinging his wares, including this new book of illustrations. Raymond is an old newspaper friend of Don and myself, and his work can be found on our bungalow walls!

Raymond Biesenger's B+W


Biesenger's lady love will also be featured at the RB fair, with her beautiful designs under the label, Ursa Minor. A few of us #yeg ladies are highly anticipating seeing her leather leggings up close and personal.

Bike Light:

If you're looking for a very Miss Sarah stocking stuffer, you should go get a bunch of these MEC Plasma USB charging LED rear lights. They're bright. They're blinky. They're rechargeable with a cord into your computer. The best!


Cally's Teas has the most adorable selection of little gifts like mugs, tea things, cards, and little old-school treats for kids such as a slinky or harmonica. And obviously, lots of beautiful teas from around the world! My current favourite is the Cream of Earl Grey.

Bubbles & Booze:

Obviously, a very lovely gift to get and to share is a bottle of something lovely. I love the selection at Bin 104, which is just on top of the stairs from Bay Station.

Pilates Gift Certificate:

The only thing I do in the health department besides ride my bike and walk to the train, is Pilates. It's the best. I had chronic back pain for years, and continually attending Pilates class has been the only thing that has permanently dealt with the situation (after two rounds of physio and massages, which offers some relief). Additionally, Pilates kept me going during my pregnancy, and all that core work has also resulted in a remarkably speedy recovery post-baby. I feel my muscles and joints are more balanced and I am overall stronger than ever before. It's an amazing feeling when your body is functioning at its peak!

Though not your typical work out with accompanying burn and sweat, you sure feel amazing, stretchy, and strong. I attend class at Pialtes EQ every week at the new Roots building, and would highly recommend it to anybody, regardless of age or health goals. For all those #yeg mamas, there is also a great little drop-in daycare where you can leave your baby for an hour or two if you want to just catch a class and grab a coffee.

So there are some great local businesses and creatives to consider checking out if you're in the giving mood, a la Miss Sarah. Obviously, you will be able to find all this and more at the fair this weekend, where I look forward to browsing some of my other favourite local designers:

Jason Blower - I love his whimsical prints depicting scenes from our city! Have been known to mail his postcards out to many an expatriate friend.

Cinder + Smoke - Wore a dress of hers until it was rag-worthy. Have been coveting a new dress, but was way too pregnant last summer and too postpartum (size-changing) this past summer. This weekend will be my time to shine!

Kiko Jewelry - A fellow #yegmama who makes the most delicate things. I brought back a necklace a year after I bought it because it started snagging my clothes, and she painstakingly filed it down for me. Customer service to the max.

BangBang Bijoux - Rachel, the creator of big and bold jewelry that kept me feeling creative when I wore the same 3 shirts over and over again during pregnancy.

Ameya Studio - I tried her Lavender Earl Grey (I think that's what it was) hand cream at a friend's house and snagged a pot of my own when I saw her at the pop up shop on 124 Street last spring. Seriously amazing stuff, especially when you have dry skin and live in a winter city.

Sarah Jackson - Looking forward to picking up some "Jam" related things for the little people who have recently arrived in the world. Dexter has a Jam t-shirt that he wears whenever it is clean and Lisa once bought me the jam story (autographed!) when Dexter was just a baby. Such a great story about self-acceptance (always a work in progress over here).

With that, I bid you happy local shopping!

For The Love of Snow.

November 29, 2012

Dexter Take the Train.

Last Dexter wouldn't even put his snow pants on. This year, he is wearing them like a super champ and conquering the cold and snow! I even taught him that you could wear a hat, and then put your hood OVER the hat as a double layer. Blew his mind.

Some days I am feeling a little too tired to ride the bike. Just as I was feeling sluggish and guilty about not riding, I remembered that the mini bus that comes past my house does so just in time for us to catch the train and then get to school. We were door to door in 15 minutes flat! Very impressive.


In the realm of being wintery and things keeping us warm, I am over the moon for these mukluks I bought last month. My feet have never been warmer. And I have never been able to walk so quickly over the ice and snow! I even bought a pair of indoor moccasins for Sable's birthday. She seems to be a convert too.

Stay warm!

Dexter's Commute.

November 28, 2012

Active Pedestrian

When it came time to choose a preschool for Dexter, I had the choice of going to my neighbourhood place just a few blocks away (major league convenience). But, I also applied at this other preschool about a 10 minute ride away (20-25 min walk) because it had an afternoon class.

Now, everybody is going to think I am a huge baby because it's challenging for me to get my kid to school with his coat off for 8:45 am. But I know this about myself... I am not a morning person. Especially not when wrangling an unpredictable 6-month old at the same time.

Since Don and I both work until quite late, by the time I am finished with teaching I basically have to tend to baby Alice and put Dexter to bed immediately. We don't have much in the way of quality time in the evenings, and since I am teaching for large chunks of the day, that time is gone too.

So mornings become our family time. We wake up leisurely and get ready. I have a coffee and get Dexter his breakfast. If we're not in a rush to get anywhere sometimes we have special pancake mornings. I get baby Alice down for a nap and get ready. It suits our current schedule just perfectly, even if the school is farther away. I am all about that afternoon class.

It also forces me to ride my bike. Even in the winter.

Tire Pressure

Now, the first week of riding wasn't all that bad. We got a pretty big helping of snow right off, and my general rule is that I don't bike on the first day of a big snow. Too hairy.

But I was on the bike the next day, and although more challenging, it was still fun! Dexter likes to remind me to seal the flap so that he can stay warm.

Happy Passenger

Though, I think my tires may have a slow leak or maybe something with the colder temperatures is happening. One day last week I biked with incredibly flat tires and it was a pretty intense workout. Ice. Snow. Bumps. Snow hiding ice. Windrows. Frozen tire treads. Cars driving around in a huge rush and not noticing there is a bicycle on the street. It was less straightforward than it usually was.

Funny, how it's the conditions of the road (unpredictable and varied) that are the most vexing. The -10C to -15C (5F-14F) temperatures don't really bother me at all.

Winter Wheel

I bid Don to pump up my tires (those of you who read this blog frequently will know that I am somehow horrifying at pumping up tires) and the next day.


The cycling, in the same bumpy and slippery conditions was at least 30% easier. Thank goodness. Confidence restored. Back at it!

I'm still ironing out some issues with biking with the trailer in the winter. This is my first winter biking with 50-60 lbs trailing behind me and it's definitely more work than solo biking. Generally speaking, I think I've just got to keep my tires the correct pressure, and I need to just keep doing it so that my cardio level can match that which is required for winter commuting with a trailer in the ice and snow.

The increased cardio aside, I'm really happy to have something built into my day that makes my body work! No gym membership required over here. If you see me show up panting somewhere, with a runny hose, you'll know what's up.

How is winter cycling for you guys?

The Past Few Weeks...

November 26, 2012

Saturday by Train.

The past few weeks have featured Don and the kids all taking turns being incredibly ill with whatever annual flu is going around. It included a fever for the boys (one that Dexter got TWICE) and incredibly obnoxious coughing all around. I got the cough, but no other symptoms other than intense fatigue from the many consecutive nights of over-and-beyond night shift (as opposed to normal 6 month-old night shift).

That said, life goes on!

Friday Night Train

Edmonton continues to be dark and cold.

I biked down to the train in heels on a Friday night, to enjoy drinks and dinner with friends downtown, without having to find parking.

Heels on LRT

I have been nursing my sweet little babies back to health.

Recovery Dexter

Amidst the increased household duties with my sick family (hello, barf laundry), I still had time to comb the newly opened Simons (drool) and boss Don into some sweet new things. I am happy to report that some Simons dress shirts come in a slimmer cut, and with extra long sleeves! They also have a relationship with Harris Tweed and therefore, are carrying some majorly fly items for my Scottish man. Apparently Don's ancestors come from the isle of... Harris? Way back when.

Sorry ladies, I only found menswear in the glorious tweed.


Here is my teething baby.

Teething Alice.

And Don managed to take a picture of me when I was coming back in from errands the other week. Our 15-85 lens fell and cracked in August, and he was happy to show me that McBain was able to repair it! I am really impressed, it's as good as new.

Day Off Business.

Notice how when I come in the door from errands, I am eating a Twizzler. That's how I roll.

Things have been icy and constantly below freezing. I have been making good use of my wide variety of boots, scarves, gloves, and mitts. Hope you're all staying healthy and warm out there! It's only November and we've got a long way to go. So far, other than dealing with my sick family, my emotional wellbeing remains intact. Onwards toward the holiday season!

Hello, Winter Bike.

November 14, 2012

Winter Kona is back again!

According to Don, who had do deal with my deflated tires and gummy/perma-chain-stick, this is probably the last year for this chain set-up. I'll take it in at the end of the season to get it swapped out for something newer and cleaner.

Conditions were gummy and bumpy, requiring dismounting and stomping over windrows in some residential areas. Good thing my saddle is super comfy.

Wore normal clothes, plus my winter helmet. If you're looking for a winter style guide, check this out!

Winter Weekend.

November 12, 2012

Don and I had a spot of free time after I was done teaching on Saturday, so we went for another ski! This time I focused less on trying to go fast, and more on trying to go properly. Lots of fun! Again, we just went on along the top of the river bank. Quick and easy. Walked there and back.

In my quest to embrace winter I have also gotten a pair of Laurentian Chief Moccasins. Man, where have these been all my life? They're the warmest and most comfortable things I have ever worn. Is this what people feel like when they wear UGGS?

The pair I bought for at-home slippers are these ones. And I also got these outdoor Mukluks

All courtesy of the shoe repair guy's store at Southgate Mall. I have been hearing other shoe repair places also carry these. Changed my life. Seriously. 

The day after last week's first big snow, I was back on the bike taking Dexter to school. It was the first time to say hello to biking with goggles again!

And after much complaining and griping (from what I could see on Twitter), I'm sure people were pleased to see the graders out and about. I'm not saying that it's always ideal out there, but we live in a winter city. Like... a VERY winter city. Sure it gets hairy for a while after a fresh snow. I'm just surprised at how many people seemed totally broken from the first big snowfall. Usually I can hang tough until about mid-April. The early spring snowfalls tend to crush my spirit a little, but the first major one in November? Come. On. 

Obviously it helps to be prepared. Don't expect to go driving and to have an exceptionally good time in bad road conditions. Yes, your walk requires shovelling. And it may require shovelling every few hours if you want to be on top of your game. Get a proper coat and boots. I even keep an emergency toque in my bag, just in case. 

Winter is a lot more fun when you're not complaining about things you can prepare for. Now the magnitude of snow... that's just something the universe unleashes. And it is what it is. At least we have sun! And no hurricanes or typhoons. No giant spiders and few poisonous insects. No earthquakes. 

I like where we live. 

And finally, the weekend also featured an evening at the Canadian Finals Rodeo. It was my first time. Although I loved seeing all the kids in their cowboy hats on the train with their parents - I'm not signing Dexter up for lessons on how to hang on to a bucking mare! Yikes.

We went there on the train. Naturally!

How have you guys been dealing with the big snow? Everybody still hanging in there? It's going to be a loooong winter :)

My Winter City.

November 8, 2012

Dexter arriving home from school while I was out shovelling 

Yesterday it snowed!

Now, if you live in Edmonton and a reader of this blog, you probably know there is currently a whole movement about loving Edmonton as a winter city. The city recently came out with a report about embracing winter and falling in love with it again - after all, it's winter here for the larger part of a year. 

Without linking up a storm (pun intended), I'm just going to simply say I am totally on board with this snow-embracing! When we were kids, my mom used to send us out there with our snow pants and we would gradually make it home in our then knee-deep snow. We would take the ice "plates" from the windrows and smash them over our heads like we were insane WWF wrestlers (my brother was a big fan of watching wrestling). When we were really bad, we dared each other to knock over the lawn Santa at the brown house at the end of the street. Until the lady came out and yelled at us that one time.

When we got home we would stick our gloves and stuff over the heat vent, to get them dry and toasty for the next wear, and maybe whip up an instant noodle to eat while watching a TNG. 

Current state of our front patio, soon to play host to fires and drinks again
I know this is my bicycle blog. You know, it features me riding my bike around a mid-sized North American city. There isn't that much in terms of revolutionary bicycle infrastructure (though I believe it is slowly improving) aside from our impressive network of river valley trails and my beloved high level bridge. I write about riding in Edmonton because it's the home I was born to and the home I consciously decided to continue calling my own, well after most of my much-loved and creative friends left for the metaphorical greener pastures of bigger and more exciting cities. For me, Edmonton is home, and it's not boring to stay here and continue investing my time and love into my community. 

I travel quite a bit and there is seriously nothing that makes me more excited that getting around cities on my own two feet (or two wheels, if the opportunity presents itself). It's just so civilized. And it's what we were designed to do. You know... walk and move! I am a firm believer that the excitement of active transportation can be replicated here at home, even with our comparably limited bicycle and transit networks. 

As we move into these cold and snowy months, I hereby renew my dedication to Edmonton as a winter city. It might not mean being on the bike every single day, but I aim to continue illustrating how being active in transportation and active in the community can keep your heart and your hope warm year-round. Even with an infant and a toddler. 

 Get out there, get to know your neighbours, and have fun!

A go-pack of elm sandwiches when it snowed last week

Yesterday, due to a few cancellations resulting from bad road conditions, I had a little time free before the babysitter was off duty. Don, having come home from work early, promptly got our new cross country ski gear prepped and suggested we take a spin. 

It was awesome! My first time out cross country skiing! I'm pretty sure my technique was just horrifying, but I was cruising along nonetheless (have plans to get instructed in the near future). The low clouds were reflecting the city light so things were eerily bright, and the walk over to the path was 2.5 blocks away from our house. 

One of the reasons for picking cross country skiing as a winter sport in addition to winter cycling (which is mostly transportation), is because it's something we can do right by our house and we can wear normal clothes. Don had his cycling gear on. I wore my work clothes (jeans and a cashmere sweater), a hoodie, puffy vest, mittens and hat. No performance wear required, unless you count the ski boots. Even getting the boots, bindings and skis wasn't all that expensive. No membership fees required at any given gym and fresh air to boot. It's right up my alley!

Winter riding with studded tires
 Finally, in my enthusiastic stories of winter, is my tale of shovelling. I was out clearing a preliminary path, and upon shovelling past my corner, ran into my neighbour who was doing the same. We got all caught up while shovelling towards one another and working in tandem. I actually had a good time. And on the way back from skiing, we stopped to chat with our new neighbours across the street. Made introductions, joked about how the lady of the house does the shovelling, and made plans to hang out soon (her granddaughter is over often, and just a month older than Alice). Sounds good to me!

So I haven't been posting as much lately due to having near zero time to invest at my computer keyboard (the piano keyboard is another thing), but I'm still here and we're still trucking. I hope you will enjoy more stories in the coming months of my winter city adventures, both on the bike and off!

Domestic Life!

November 2, 2012

My weeks are flying by with work stuff, house stuff, and mom stuff. 

Like taking Dexter to school! I have been getting my babysitter to arrive earlier so that I can pedal faster  to Dexter's class. Alice is super sturdy so the bumps aren't much of a problem anymore, but she is HEAVY. When she is not with us, we stick Dexter's back pack in her infant sling.

In other domestic updates, here is Dexter's shufflebot Halloween costume!

Their babysitter, Emily, dressed up as Karl Lagerfeld (her friend went as Anna Wintour on the weekend) so I suggested we make baby Alice up to look a bit like a Chanel model. 

Dexter got in on the photo action with shutter shades on underneath his robot head. So cute!

So far my winter biking tips? As always... get studded tires! Then it feels exactly like regular biking.

Not much more to it.

Maybe a bit of practice too:)

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