Category Archives: Family

Easter Weekend at the Cabin

Drive home from Shuswap

I made the long drive home from the cabin with my brother today. It’s nice to be back in the land of wifi and reliable internet, but it was pretty hard to leave BC on such a beautiful, sunny day! We ate our lunch outside in Revelstoke in the warm sunshine and there was a brief moment where I contemplated staying right where I was instead of coming home to snowy Alberta.

Shuswap fire Shuswap wood pile Shuswap Julia breaking picnic tableShuswap vertebrae Shuswap buds

Signs of spring were all over the place at the cabin. Buds were starting to peek out of the ground and appear on the trees, and the dock was starting to float out in to the water as the lake level began to rise up to it’s lofty early summer levels. We did some work to get the outdoor areas ready for a new season of fun, including working in the garden and burning some leftover firewood. Someone also decided it was time to get rid of our old decaying picnic table so we got to do some demolition, which is always a good time.

Shuswap Benny Dad Shuswap Benny on deck Shuswap Benny sniffing Shuswap Benny dirty face Shuswap Benny high ten
Shuswap canoeing

Although I’ve never heard him say it, I’m pretty sure that the cabin is as close to paradise as you can get for Benny. Instead of being stuck inside all day, he got to sprint along the beach and through the forest trails to his hearts content. Between my parents and brother and sister, he was pretty much lavished with constant attention, and he always had someone to play with. He even went for a canoe ride one day! With so much running to do and so many interesting things to smell, he was always absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. For a dog who seems to have never ending energy when he’s in the city, it’s amazing to see how truly tired out the cabin life makes him.

Shuswap Easter egg hunt Julia Stephen Shuswap easter egg hunt StephenShuswap easter egg hunt chocolatesDSC01387Shuswap hamShuswap Easter dinner

Of course it was Easter weekend, so we couldn’t forget about the chocolate and amazing food. My mom came up with an elaborate rhyming treasure hunt on Saturday morning that lead us to some delicious goodies. I love that she realizes that her twenty something year old children are still kids at heart ;). That night we made an incredible easter dinner. The piece de resistance was a gorgeous glazed ham that came out beautifully moist and dreamier than I could have imagined. Can a ham be dreamy? I don’t know, but it’s the stuff that my dreams are made of. We also made roasted potatoes, butternut squash puree, kale chips, and steamed asparagus, which were all incredible as well. I missed taking a picture of the key lime pie we had for dessert, but trust me when I say that it was citrusy perfection. We always eat so well at the cabin, which, predictably, is one of my favourite parts of being out there.

Shuswap selfie DSC01380 Shuswap dock view Shuswap woodpile view

It’s good to be home, but I’ll miss the relaxed vibe, beautiful view, and quality family time until I get back to the Shuswap again.

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A Good Friday at the Lake


Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a good Friday (har har) and enjoying a well deserved day off work. Long weekends really are the best.

I’m up at my family’s cabin in the Shuswap for Easter and feeling pretty lucky to be in this little slice of paradise.  Summer is my favourite time to be out at the lake, of course, but I really love coming here in the shoulder seasons as well. The pace is a little slower, and there’s lots of time for reading and running and playing the piano and all of those other relaxing activities that tend to get squeezed out when I’m at home. There’s no rush to get dinner on the table, so we can take our time in the kitchen and make lots of amazing meals. I’m pretty sad that Zevi’s stuck at work and not able to be here, but the fact that we get to have a ham for Easter dinner makes his absence the tiniest bit easier to take ;).

No matter what time of year it is, I always feel my shoulders drop and my chest loosen when I get to our lake house. I’m looking forward to more relaxing family time this weekend, with a little bit of cabin maintenance thrown in to help us earn our afternoon beers. I hope that whatever you’re up to this long weekend helps you feel renewed and ready to dive headfirst in to the spring and summer days to come!

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Celebrating My Grandma

Grandma's 91st birthday

This week we’ve been celebrating my Grandma’s birthday. This picture is actually from last year, but she’s now officially 92 years young. She’s a St. Patrick’s day baby, so on Tuesday I made homemade macaroni and cheese and salad at my parents’ house and my sister made a delicious cake and we celebrated. I’d take hanging out with my Grandma over drinking green beer any day! Today we had another celebration with even more members of my Dad’s large extended family. When you’ve lived more than nine decades, every birthday deserves some extra fanfare.

My Grandma didn’t go to high school, but she’s taught me so much about life. When my Grandpa had a stroke, losing the ability to speak and walk, my Grandma showed incredible dedication to him, visiting him many times a week for the eight years that he lived in a nursing home. She doesn’t drive, so she had to take the bus there or rely on rides from her family members, but I never heard her complain. She showers her family with love, and her children have passed down that love to their children, and, in some cases, even their children’s children. Through good times and bad, she remains that calming, positive, and supportive voice, always wanting to know what’s going on in our lives. Even if she may not have chosen our path for herself, she’s always excited to hear about what we’re up to, as long as we promise her to be careful, of course.

It really moved me to see my Grandma stand among some of her family and tell us all how proud she is of us. Without her, none of us would have been standing in that kitchen in a circle holding hands. She brought us all together, and I wouldn’t exist were it not for one of the children she brought into the world. She may not have travelled the world or pursued any kind of higher education, but on her 92nd birthday, I don’t know that anything meant more to her than being surrounded by her family. I’m grateful to her for showing me the power of unconditional love, and helping me to remember that sometimes it’s the little things in life that are most important. I’d like to think that I inherited just a little bit of her soft spoken kindness, and I hope that small part of her lives on in me forever.

2014 in Review

Gray GlacierChile camping  Easter Island cemetary Zevi road trip Machu Picchu Cartagena after the rain 2014 is in the rear view mirror. What a year. I think it’s pretty obvious that this will be remembered as the year I quit my job and left on a three month trip to South America. You don’t do that every year, as much as I’d love to, and it’s not something we’ll be doing again any time soon. I feel so grateful that we were able to make it work. Although it’s something that I’d thought about and wanted to do for a long time, I always had my doubts that it would actually happen. There were a lot of factors that had to come together for us to be able to leave for that long, and it still seems amazing to me that we pulled it off. Mexico Cherniawsky's at Sea Cider Erin and Nai in Drumheller Calgary skyline

Snowshoeing with Kyle and NaiThe other nine months of the year may have been overshadowed by the main event, but they were certainly no slouch. We travelled to Mexico, Sasquatch music festival, Panorama, the Shuswap, and Victoria twice. We saw a couple of our best friends get married and celebrated the elopement of two more of our closest pals. We went on our annual Drumheller camping trip, and enjoyed great music and good vibes at Calgary Folk Fest. Family selfieFolk fest selfieBachelorette selfieSasquatch selfie I ran my fifth half marathon, but didn’t get the result I wanted so I’ll be back for redemption this year. I got to spend a ton of time with my sister over the summer, which was so much fun. I ate at countless new restaurants, revisited old favourites, and went to some iteration of my very favourite, Anju, four times in three weeks. I learned that choosing compassion is never wrong, even in moments of confusion and hurt. Many selfies were taken along the way. We won’t be doing much jetsetting in 2015, but I’m excited to see what adventures we find closer to home this year. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of selfies.

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See Ya Later, Summer!

See ya later, summer

It’s snowing in Calgary today. I shouldn’t be surprised – Calgary weather is volatile at the best of times, but it really does hammer home the point that my favourite season is over. This year things are a bit different, because the beginning of fall means the beginning of a huge adventure for Zevi and me, but I’m always a little bit sad to see summer say goodbye. Fall has its beauties, but I’m never the one leading the cheering section when Pumpkin Spice Lattes and yellow leaves start to make their appearance. All good things must come to an end, though, and for us we’re about to embark on something even better!

Container Bar Calgary

Checking out a new addition to the Calgary scene, Container Bar, with my sister

Ladies at Alanna's bachelorette

Beautiful ladies at one of my besties‘ bachelorette party

We were very lucky this summer to have the chance to spend lots of time with friends and family both in town and away from the city. We continued our yearly tradition of camping in Drumheller with friends on a very hot weekend in July – the landscape in the area is so striking and different from most anything I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I forget how much beauty we have right in our own back yard!

Drumheller landscape

Drumheller views

Naomi and Erin in Drumheller

Our dirty little puppy

Summer adventures make for a dirty puppy


Calgary Folk Fest has become another summer tradition for us, and is always one of the weekends I look forward to most all year. I can’t resist buying tickets no matter who’s playing, and it never disappoints. There’s just something about the atmosphere – everyone is so relaxed and laid back and just happy to be enjoying some beautiful tunes in the great outdoors. It somehow manages to be a welcoming place for people of all ages and just feels to me like a little oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our busy downtown.  The food is top notch, the beer gardens are a riot, and I always manage to reunite with friends that I haven’t seen in much too long. I’ll be back next year!

Calgary Folk Fest with Zevi

The best Folk Fest partner

The best of times at Calgary Folk Fest

Great friends call for epic selfies

Taiko Taco at Calgary Folk Fest

We tried one of Calgary’s newest food trucks, Taiko Taco!

Our summer was capped off by a wonderful trip to BC, with stops at my family’s cabin in the Shuswap, in Kelowna for our good friends’ wedding, and in Victoria to visit family. It was a wonderful trip in so many ways, and being able to spend so much quality time with family and friends left my heart so full. I had no idea that being a bridesmaid in a wedding would be such a blast, but I had an absolutely amazing time standing up next to one of my best friends as she said her I dos. It was really great to have time to connect with many of the people we love, especially since Zevi and I will be venturing off on our own for three months.

Shuswap mornings

Morning lake view

Pina Coladas at the Shuswap

If you like pina coladas…

Boating on the Shuswap

My parents and our friends at the Shuswap

Wedding party selfie

Wedding party selfie!

We had lots of fun times just being in the city during this season. Calgary is a great place to be in the summer – patios are always full and there is always something going on. I am sad to see the summer slip away, but I can’t wait until we take off tomorrow night for South America!

On the patio at Posto for our Anniversary dinner

On the patio at Posto for our Anniversary dinner

Picnic in the park

Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse

Sea cider

Family photo

Yesterday Zevi’s whole immediate family was together for the first time in quite a while, which was something to celebrate! We were out visiting his dad just outside Victoria where there are an abundance of farms and wineries, so we figured that we would pay a visit to a few of them. My lovely sister recommended that we check out the Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse (which I realize is neither a farm nor a winery but… bear with me), so we headed over there to see what it was all about. Pippins

DSC_0989Ruby Rose

We opted for two long flights and one short flight between the five of us. Zevi and I shared a long flight, which meant that we got a taste of each of the seven ciders they regularly have on offer, the seasonal cider, and a cocktail. We were told to sample them from driest to sweetest, and there were some delicious ones in the bunch. My favourite actually turned out to be the seasonal, called Ruby Rose, a “captivating semi-sweet cider infused with rhubarb”. It had a ton of flavour without being too sweet, which I found to be the perfect balance. Some of my other favourites were the Pippins, the Kings and Spies, and the Bramble Bubbly.

Cider tasting

I’m always a sucker for a good cheese board, and Sea Cider’s completely delivered. Highlights were a semi-soft cheese that tasted like a cross between blue and feta, a spicy sausage, and a candied smoked salmon spread with berries and nuts. So unique!

Cheese board

I must confess to not being much of a cider fan before yesterday, but the trip to Sea Cider made me a believer! We bought a couple of bottles to bring home and I will definitely be picking some up in Calgary when I can find it. It was a great day with family, and I think that everyone walked out pretty impressed with what they had to offer. Finding more ways to enjoy alcohol is never a bad thing, right? 😉

Cherniawsky kids

A family dinner

The spread

One of the things that brings me the most joy in life is sharing a meal with others. Food is one of my greatest passions, and, to me, there is nothing like sitting down at a table with family or some good friends and revelling in the shared glory of a delicious bite. I love going out and trying new restaurants and discovering hidden gems in the Calgary food scene and beyond, but I get the most satisfaction out of having people around our table in our little house and serving food that we have made. It’s a lot of work to make a meal for a big group, but the effort is worth it when it comes time to enjoy it.

Appies are always necessary

Appies are always necessary

This past Sunday we had my family over for an easter/passover/togetherness celebration. My sister has just arrived back in town for the summer after finishing her semester in Victoria and my brother is also back at home after having worked at Revelstoke for the summer. It was a lot of fun to have all five of us (plus Zevi) laughing and chatting and enjoying each other’s company. There was even a singalong to Tiny Dancer with me on piano thrown in there for good measure.

The fam jam

The fam jam

Back to the food. I feel very lucky to be married to someone who enjoys cooking and eating. I won’t say that he loves it as much as I do, because my love for food borders on obsession (most of my reading material consists of food blogs, cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazine), but it is a passion that we can share, and for that I am very grateful. We worked together to prepare the meal we served on Sunday, and being able to share the work with him not only lightens the load immeasurably, but it also strengthens our bond. I think we make a pretty darn good team!

We started the meal with a traditional matzo ball soup. This is something that I first had made for me by Zevi’s grandmother, so it was really special to make it ourselves for the first time. There was a lot of time spent waiting while the broth bubbled and simmered, but that patience was well worth it, as we were rewarded with a subtly flavoured soup that was so much better than anything you can find in a can or a carton. Our matzo balls were fluffy and tender, and I would call it a pretty great showing for rookie chicken soup makers. I think Baba would be proud.

The soup

The soup in process. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the finished product.

The main course was brisket with crispy smashed potatoes and a simple salad. We made a home made bbq sauce for the brisket that really stole the show. If you haven’t made these smashed potatoes, I’m telling you, you need to drop everything and do it NOW! Crunchy on the outside and silky smooth on the inside, they’re everything you could ever want in a potato. I’ll be hard pressed to make them any other way now! Zevi made a spicy mayo with Franks hot sauce, chili powder, and garlic powder that was the perfect counterpoint to the salty starch nuggets.

Smashed potatoes ready for the oven

Smashed potatoes ready for the oven

Every time I have people over for a meal I am reminded of how rewarding it is to spend time preparing something for someone and then watching them enjoy the fruits of your labour (and enjoying it with them, of course). There are always lots groceries to buy and veggies to chop and dishes to do, but, in my mind, knowing that you did that work and seeing it all come to life makes it all the more worth it.

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