Proud Not Loud: What Makes us Canadian

With Canada Day upon us, I couldn’t help but reflect on what makes this country such a great place to live. I am definitely a proud Canadian, but not one to shout it off a rooftop. We are not loud or boastful when it comes to our patriotism, it just isn’t the way we roll. Instead, we are a humble group of people that are just grateful for being able to enjoy a vast and beautiful landscape.

When we travel, people always greet us with open arms. Our reputation of being a nice and polite group of people precedes us. Now, we don’t want to get too proud about this or we may develop a big head. That would not be very Canadian!

If you come to visit us, you will learn that we are an accepting group of people. We do not discriminate based on colour, religion or sexual orientation. Our country has been built on immigration and continues to welcome those from war torn countries. Because of this, the face of Canada is always evolving. There just isn’t one stereotypical Canadian look.

What attracts people to our country are the freedoms and opportunities. The sky is the limit in terms of how high you want to set the bar for yourself. As a woman, I have taken advantage of every opportunity that has been given to me. I could not imagine things any other way.

Canadians are a caring group of people. We like to open doors for one another, wave when people let us in on the road and pay it forward in the Tim Hortons drive through. We try our best to care for one another through our Universal Healthcare system, assistance programs and the Treaties.

To sum things up about what it is to be Canadian, I can say that we are a proud, polite, caring and accepting group of people. I forgot to mention that we are also resilient given how cold things get in the winter. Can I say that we are cuddly too?! Hope you have a wonderful Canada Day weekend!

Happy Travels,

Kira

Do You Believe in Angels? What Made Me Believe

Do I believe? A question I have asked myself since confirmation class two decades ago. I have always been a bit of a science nerd and felt like I needed proof in order to believe. I remember asking the minister to discuss science and religion, but unfortunately it did not make it into our discussions.

Throughout my life there have been reminders of a higher power. My mom surviving cancer, my dad nearly escaping a drowning incident and the sight of my Opa after he had passed away.

It was not until 4 years ago, with the passing of my Uncle Dennis, that I feel I had gotten proof that angels are amongst us.

My uncle was a talented basketball player during high school and coached throughout his life. His number was 11, which is also known as the number of angels. When he passed, the numbers 11 and 22 (double 11) started popping up in our families lives.

Shortly after his passing, our family travelled to Las Vegas to celebrate an anniversary and this is where it started. My Uncle Dennis would have loved to have been there and he reminded us of his presence through his number. My cousin was given room 11D, 11 kept coming up at the tables, my mom was given 11 cents change when she cashed out and the list goes on. The appearance of this number went beyond coincidence.

At first the number popped up often. At Christmas my mom and I stumbled upon a poem about angels that was stuffed into an advent calendar and sure enough it was in the number 11 slot. All the other slots were empty. Every time I buy a lottery ticket the numbers 11 and 22 appear.

The number started to appear less and less with time, until a year ago when my uncle was inducted into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame. He would have been so ecstatic about this honour. Sure enough, his number appeared. There was a prize draw at the event and our table won prize 11!

It is occurrences like these that have made me believe in angels. I truly think that my Uncle Dennis is still present in some way. He was our biggest supporter in life and was always there for every recital, competition and graduation. It is no surprise that he is still cheering us on from above.

Have you ever had something like this happen to you? Do you believe in angels?

In Memory of Dennis Alvestad

September 12, 1942 – September 26, 2013

Happy Day,

Kira

A Visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Canada celebrated it’s 150th Birthday this past summer. Since it’s birth, there has been an incredible amount of progress within our country. There has also been a lot of struggles, hardships and injustices. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights reminds us of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.

The museum was constructed in 2008 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; arguably the heart of Canada. The location is fitting, as it sits at the Forks, where the Assiniboine and Red River meet. The area is rich in history and has been used as a trading point and immigration hub for hundreds of years.

This is the first museum in the world to focus solely on human rights and every effort was made to ensure that it was world class. If you visit Winnipeg, it is hard to miss. It truly is a beacon, and while not everyone enjoys the sight of it (much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris), it commands your attention.

The architecture of the building is truly awe inspiring. Some may say that the space is cold and empty, but what it allows for is a clear mind and time for contemplation. Less is more is definitely how I would describe the space. Clean, uncluttered, with beautiful lines and rich natural materials.

The museum spans across 7 levels, which are accessible by gorgeous marble walkways. Each level has a theme that eventually leads up to the top. This is known as the Tower of Hope, which has beautiful views of downtown Winnipeg.

I recommend starting from the bottom and working your way up. The first level is an introduction to human rights with some interactive displays that are meaningful and moving.

The second level contains the temporary exhibits. Two of my favourites were the red dress display, which honours the missing and murdered women of Canada and the gay rights exhibit.

As you move up through the levels there are many issues that are addressed. Everything from women’s rights, the holocaust, residential schools, the environment and the list goes on… You will need at least 3 hours to take everything in. We spent about 5 hours and I still feel like we just scratched the surface.

There are guided tours that you can take for an extra fee (about $5). This allows you to get an in depth look at the displays and the building itself. The tour takes about 2 hours. On the first Wednesday of the month they have free admission and every other Wednesday has a $5 entrance fee. We went on a Saturday and a Wednesday. Saturday was a lot quieter and allowed us to get unobstructed photos.

I could go on and on about the displays and exhibits, but it is best to experience it for yourself. A very relevant place to visit if you are in Winnipeg. It reminded me of the struggles that people face and that we need to be a bit more understanding of one another. Definitely gave me hope for the future as we have come so far. This museum is thought provoking, meaningful and an absolutely beautiful space. So proud that it resides in my hometown of Winnipeg!

If you are interested in visiting the museum there is more information on the CMHR website.

Happy Travels,

Kira

Could You Be More Canadian (Nicer) On Social Media?

It is well known that Canadians are friendly people. Our favourite word is sorry, we eternally wave when people let us in on the road and we pay it forward in the Tim Hortons line. I personally consider myself a friendly Canadian and a conscientious person. So when I see bad behaviour and poor manners on social media, I feel that people could learn a few things from us. Let’s just be a little kinder to one another with these three simple tips;

1. Support One Another

The whole point of social media is to interact with one another. This is my favourite part of it; that we can connect with people from all over the world that we wouldn’t have met otherwise. Social media is not all about you. It is about connecting and engaging with one another and showing your support for the ones you have decided to follow. So show some love and comment a bit more. I am super supportive of people that I know in real life, as I like to see what they are up to. Some of these people have never liked a single post I have put up; and I am not posting pics of my half eaten lunch! This boggles my mind. I think some people post things and then don’t bother to look at anyone else’s. What is the point of that?!? Let’s show some more support and stick around to see what people are doing.

2. Say Thank You

This should be a given, but thank someone when they leave a nice comment by liking their comment or commenting back. I am surprised that a lot of people, especially those with larger accounts don’t do this. I will often go through the list of people that liked my posts, see if I missed some of their content and send back some likes. This might be taking things to an extreme, but like I said I am a contentious Canadian!

3. Don’t Use People to Get Ahead

Some of you may or may not know about the follow/unfollower. This is a person that follows you in hope that you will follow them back. Once you follow them back, they quickly unfollow you and hope you don’t notice. It is a way for this person to build a large following by fooling others into following them. This is my biggest pet peeve on social media. I can see one of these people from a mile away as they usually have about 50k Followers, follow about 1000 and have mediocre (but sometimes good) content. This practice is completely self serving, rude and unethical. If a business does this to me it makes me question their integrity. This really goes against everything that social media is intended for as it is very one sided.

To this date, I have been a victim of the follow/unfollower 1325 times on Instagram! To identify these people I have the Follower App which shows me who has unfollowed, deleted likes and comments etc. No matter how you try and justify follow/unfollowing to yourself, don’t do it! I could have tens of thousands of followers by now if I used this method, but I’d rather maintain my integrity and do things the old fashion way. Just ask yourself, what would a Canadian do?

I hope I have inspired you to be a little more thoughtful on social media. What are some of your pet peeves on social media or the blogger world? I would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks for stopping by,

Kira

Dream Vacation Rental: Paris Perfect

Oh Paris! The city of love, the capital of fashion and the home of the Eiffel Tower. What is not to love?

My husband and I visited last August for our 10 year wedding Anniversary and we wanted to stay somewhere special. We usually rent through VRBO and AirBnB, but I could not find anything great on their sites. Luckily, I stumbled across Paris Perfect, which is a vacation rental company ran by an American couple.

Paris Perfect has apartments in various arrondissements in the city. One of their specialties are rentals in the 7th with Eiffel Tower views. There are many options and price points on their website. It is hard to narrow down which apartment to stay in, as they are all beautiful in their own unique way.

We stayed at the Chatillon, which is on Avenue Charles Floquet, a quiet street just across from the Champ de Mars. This gorgeous apartment has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, and an abundance of space by European standards.

The apartment was built in the early 1900s after the construction of the Eiffel Tower. The original details of the apartment are stunning. Everything from the chevron wood floors to the impressive white mouldings set the tone for the space.

The owner of Paris Perfect decorates the apartments and she has an amazing eye for detail. This apartment is so chic with the rich purple tones, velvet textiles and gorgeous gold chandeliers. Often when we rent places, the photos are better than reality, but I would have to say the opposite with this apartment. The photos don’t do it justice!

The piece de resistance of this apartment was it’s balcony over looking the Eiffel Tower. We ate breakfast here in the morning and enjoyed the view in the daylight. At night we would sit and watch the tower sparkle with a glass of wine. It felt like we had front row seats to the best show in Paris!

The location of the apartment was excellent for exploring the city. We walked as far as St. Germain des Pres one night and strolled along the Seine River. The city sure was alive at night with people partying in the street and drinking wine along the Seine.

We enjoyed walking to the Rue Cler market to stock up on croissants and other goodies. It was never hard to find our way back to the apartment as the Eiffel Tower was always our landmark. Every outing ended with a stroll through the Champ de Mars. There was usually a sea of people picnicking and admiring the Eiffel Tower.

I could go on and on about this apartment and all the technical details. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments.

We have vacationed in some beautiful homes throughout our travels, but I have never stayed anywhere quite like this. Truly felt like a fairytale. Hoping you will add this one to your bucket list.

Chatillon Apartment- Paris Perfect

Happy Travels,

Kira

10 Most Instagrammable Spots on Maui

In the words of Lil Jon “Shots! Shots! Shots! Everbody!” I am not talking about the Tequila variety, but the elusive Instagram vacation photo. We all want to get great photos while on vacation. Some put a little more time and effort than others. I would like to categorize myself as an extremist when it comes to this.

Prior to our Maui vacation, my husband and I scouted out some of the best locations to get photos on the island. There is so much beauty and variety of landscapes on Maui, so we wanted to capture a little bit of everything.

If you are visiting Maui, then I hope I have removed some of the leg work for you. Here are some of the shots that made it to my Instagram feed:

1. Surfboard Fence

There are several surfboard fences in the town of Paia. This one is the brightest and easiest to photograph. If you are in downtown Paia, it is located several blocks south on Baldwin Ave. in the residential area.

2. The Bamboo Forest

The Bamboo Forest is along the Pipiwai Trail on the Road to Hana. Most photograph the boardwalk, but we wanted to do something a bit more creative. If you are going to venture off the trail, look out for spiders!

3. The Grand Wailea

The Grand Wailea is a quintessential Hawaiian resort. There are so many great backdrops for photos here. You do not have to be a guest to visit the resort. I recommend strolling along the grounds and having diner at their restaurant Huma Huma. It is easy to get lost here!

4. Haleakala

A trip to Maui would not be complete without a photo of a sunset or sunrise at the Haleakala Summit. If you are going for the sunrise, make sure to make a reservation in advance and dress warm! It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit and very windy when we visited.

5. Sunflower Fields

When you think of Hawaii, you probably wouldn’t think sunflower fields. But along the junction of the Kuihelani and Honoapi’ilani Highway you will find acres of them. You can pull your car over on the highway to take a photo, just be mindful of your step.

6. Waterfall

If you want to photograph a waterfall on Maui, then you need to go on the Road to Hana. This particular one is the at mile marker 45 and is called the Wailua Falls. If you don’t want to drive far, then the Twin Falls at mile marker 2 are a good option. You will have to go very early or very late to get an unobstructed photo.

7. Beach

It is no argument that Maui has the best beaches in Hawaii, so it won’t be hard to find a good spot. This photo was taken at Little Beach in Makena. What makes this beach specific to Maui is the view of islands Molokini and Kaho’olawe.

8. Underwater

Maui has crystal clear waters, which makes it fun to take underwater photos. We bought a waterproof Olympus TG-5 and it served us well. This particular shot was taken at Big Beach by the reef. Another great place to get underwater photos is by Molikini. I recommend taking a snorkel cruise as the reefs here are incredible.

9. Valley

Maui is named the Valley Isle for good reason. This photo was taken at the Iao Valley, but there are a few others on the island. These are always the most beautiful and awe inspiring areas in Hawaii.

10. Lava Field

The Hawaiian islands were born from Valcanoes. It is amazing how all the dark landscapes became lush and beautiful with time. This lava hike is at the end Makena Rd. and is called the Hoapili Trail. It is a reminder of how barren the islands once were.

If you have been to Maui and have any other suggestions for photo locations, please let me know in the comments. Also, I really enjoy following fellow bloggers on Instagram. If you would like me to check out your page, leave your IG name in the comments.

You can see more of my Maui and travel photos on my Instagram @Kira.Canadian.Girl

Happy Travels,

Kira Canadian Girl

Affordable Vacation Haul: Shein and Zaful

When you live in Canada, it is difficult to find vacation wear during our -40 degree weather. I wanted to get a bunch of new outfits for our winter vacations and didn’t want to spend too much, as I hate returning things in the mail. I had heard a lot about Shein and Zaful and wanted to give them a try. My expectations were very low and I was pleasantly surprised when my orders arrived. Here is what I ended up with:

1. White Backless Dress

This white backless dress has weight and movement to it. It has an elastic waistband and adjustable straps, so it will fit many different body types. I honestly think it could be worn as a beach wedding dress! At this moment, the dress is out of stock. It is a popular item that they do restock, so look out for it. There is a link below for the same dress in black, which is available.

Lace Overlay Maxi Dress– $31

Dress in Black– $31

2. Jungle Print Romper

This backless romper is a perfect tropical cover up. The material is little strange though; reminded me of the material that tents are made of. It is adjustable at the neck and waist. The colours are vivid and really pop in a tropical setting.

Drawstring Backless Romper– $20.49

3. Floral Wrap Dress

I’m not sure if I would wear this as anything but a cover-up. Any large gust of wind could expose you with this one. That being said, this is a little dressy for a casual day at the beach. I see it more as resort wear than beach wear.

Green Rose Print Dress– $13

4. Red Tribal Print Skirt

Love this breezy and bright skirt. Shein sold out of this skirt just after I bought it, but released something very similar with a drawstring waist.

Tribal Print Maxi Skirt– $16

5. Pink Pleated Skirt with Lace Top

This skirt is a great buy! I tried a similar one on at Club Monaco for almost 5 times the price. The eyelet lace top is beautiful, but provides little support if that is something you require. Really can’t go wrong with this outfit, which cost $42. Got lots of compliments at the fancy resort we stayed at. If they only knew!!!

Pleated Full Length Skirt – $31

Eyelash Lace Crop Top– $11

6. Burgundy Cover Up

This cover-up is shear and has two slits in the front. The colour is gorgeous and it has great movement for those long walks on the beach (or long walks through lava fields, which is what we did).

Plunge Neck Cover Up– $13

7. Mesh Embroidered Top

Absolutely in love with this mesh top! How can you go wrong for $8?! It did come with some loose threads that I had to trim, but I still have no idea how this costs so little with all the intricate details.

Flower Embroidery Mesh Top– $8

8. White Linen Backless Romper

These photos don’t show enough detail, but this romper is a beach essential. It is deep cut in the front and backless. Very Marilyn Monroe looking, but more subdued with the beachy linen fabric. You could dress this up or down, so it is very versatile.

Plunge Drawstring Linen Romper– $16.49

I was beyond happy with all my purchases from Shein and Zaful. I was expecting things not to fit or look good on me, but everything did. Some of the items were very tight in the waist as I did not check the size chart and just ordered my usual size. Make sure to look at the size chart before ordering.

In terms of the quality, I would compare the items to those at Forever 21 or H&M. There were a few loose threads that I had to cut off and some of the seams were not sewed to perfection. My tailor was really impressed with the dresses that I took in to be hemmed. She couldn’t figure out how they could sell them so inexpensively.

If you are looking for some outfits for your next vacation or for summer I would check them out. Just allow about 3 weeks for shipping. I honestly could spend hours shopping on there.

Happy Shopping,

Kira Canadian Girl