Category Archives: in writing

i grew up in a cozy town of 75,000, nestled between two rivers, hundreds of lakes and thousands of evergreen trees. i spent much of my childhood in my backyard tobogganing through the trees in the winter, and my summers on the lake at our family cabin. as soon as i graduated high school, i did what many do and got out of my hometown as quickly as i possibly could.

we head back every year to visit my in laws, and the family cabin that’s now a highlight of my own kids’ summers, but rarely do we venture into town to explore, so when i was presented with the opportunity to visit prince george with a group of edmonton bloggers, i jumped at the chance to play tourist in my own hometown.

central mountain air has just launched the first direct flight from edmonton to prince george, which is exciting for anyone looking to visit the area and especially awesome for a family like us who have friends and in laws in pg that we can now reach in under two hours (instead of having to make the eight hour trek through the mountains every single time)! the group i travelled with (kelsy, diana, sandy, karlie and phil) hopped on our plane early one thursday morning, and enjoyed a quick and quiet hour in the air (flying child free is something i don’t get to experience very often — i even got to read a book!).

upon arriving in prince george, our food and drink fest commenced almost immediately upon landing. from fresh squeezed lemonade and breakfast, to pizza and pimm’s and the most amazing charcuterie board i’ve ever seen, to wine and more charcuterie at a vineyard, to beer sampling at a brewery, and topped off with an amazing dinner, we certainly did not go hungry (or thirsty) all day long.

our first stop was at ooh chocolat where i was tempted by the dozens of delicious desserts but settled for a(n amazing fresh squeezed) lemonade and a quick snack (knowing how many other stops were to come on the day’s itinerary, i had to pace myself), before we headed over to check out the local art gallery and head out on a walking tour of the downtown core. i’ll definitely be making a trip back to this cafe to treat the kids on our next trip west! the two rivers art gallery was a gorgeous space filled with natural light and greenery and the kids’ art classes that were going on in the maker lab as we passed through looked amazing and definitely worth checking out for anyone in the area!

next up was our downtown tour. the city has placed information plaquards on several street corners with history of the area and stories about specific buildings (turns out there have been a A LOT of fires in pg’s downtown core) and our tour guide did an awesome job of keeping it entertaining. as a former resident, it was pretty neat to hear the history of the streets i was driven down for the first half of my life, and as a creative, i loved seeing the public art being commissioned in various spaces downtown. being a large group of bloggers and photographers, there were (of course) a handful of detours for photos along the route.

following our tour, we took on the most impressive charcuterie board i’ve ever seen and enjoyed some cocktails and pizza at betulla burning. i know the kids will love watching their pizzas cook in the wood burning stove and the novelty of cutting their pizzas with scissors(!) so i’m definitely adding this stop to our intinerary next time we travel to bc.

after lunch, we checked into our rooms and then headed back out to check out some more attractions. northern lights estate winery is the northern most winery in british columbia and they create fruit wines from blueberries, apples, rhubarb and a variety of other fruits. there we were treated to a tour of the orchards and facilities and a private wine tasting. my personal favourite was the heritage haskap wine, a rich blend of haskap and blueberries. clearly this called for another photo shoot, and florals were the attire of choice 😉

next stop, because we hadn’t had enough to eat or drink yet (ha!), it was time to check out pacific western brewing for a tour. so many of the beers that i remember my dad drinking as a child are brewed here, but my beverage of choice during this visit was (unexpectedly) a root beer vodka drink — it tasted just like pop, which could perhaps be a bit problematic on a hot summer afternoon at the lake…

we capped off the night with an amazing dinner at north 54 (while i may not be a food photographer i can attest that the miso scallops were one of the most delicious things i’ve ever eaten!!), my first slot machine experience at the casino attached to our hotel (spoiler: i won nothing), and an early bedtime.

after breakfast on day two (even though i didn’t order it myself, i’m going to go ahead and highly recommend this MASSIVE cinnamon bun from hummus brothers) we headed out for a hike at one my personal favourite attractions in the prince george area, the ancient forest. the only inland temperate rainforest in the world, the ancient forest boasts thousand year old trees AND waterfalls and the accessible boardwalk ensures that everybody can enjoy the experience, be it on foot, pushing a stroller, or in a wheelchair. it’s absolutely stunning and of course, more photos ensued.

one last meal, a quick goodbye to mister pg and we were on our way back to the airport to head home. a quick hour in the air and we all made it back home, one adventure and six friends richer.


big thanks to tourism prince george and central mountain air for hosting us, i can’t wait to show my family some of the new gems i was able to check out on our next trip to prince george!

when the holiday inn express west edmonton got in touch with me to chat about their new property opening up near the west edmonton mall, i jumped at the chance to head there to check it out with the family for a weekend. we’ve been wanting to try a staycation and the timing was perfect — we actually celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary there with the kiddos and didn’t even have to cook or wash dishes 😉

this new hotel is unique to edmonton as it’s IHG’s first dual-branded property in canada, with the holiday inn express on one side for short term visits and the candlewood suites on the other for longer stays, but the most exciting things for our kids (and us) were the family friendly amenities and the proximity to the mall (yay shopping!)!

lila is currently going through a phase where she loves to know the weather forecast at all times so she was more than thrilled with the interactive screen in the lobby on which she could check out the day’s weather, among other things, and the boys were most excited about making up the couch bed for themselves. having three kids, it’s sometimes hard to find hotel rooms with enough sleeping space for everyone so having the two beds plus the pull out couch was a welcome change and we quickly made ourselves right at home. (meanwhile i was impressed with the modern decor and clean lines that aren’t always to be found in hotel chains!)
next on the agenda, was checking out the pool, which mark and the big kids would have loved to stay all day. oscar and i were perfectly content to hang out in the hot tub while the sunshine streamed in through the giant windows (a photographer’s dream come true).
while there isn’t a full restaurant in the hotel, they do serve up a pretty awesome little complimentary hot breakfast buffet. the kids were, of course, thrilled by the plethora of cereal options that we don’t usually have around the house, and even more excited to watch the hotcakes slide out of the one minute pancake machine!
after breakfast we headed over to west edmonton mall for a round of mini golf with the cousins and a bit of shopping, because what’s a staycation in edmonton without hitting the second largest mall in north america, especially when it’s just minutes away? 😉  (for those of you unfamiliar with our mall, there’s also the option of ice skating, the water park, an indoor amusement park, a mirror maze and a small aquarium if your heart so desires!)
overall, our staycation was a total success, thanks largely in part to the hospitality of the holiday inn express west edmonton, and we can’t wait to do it again!

 

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my face is looking as smiley as oscar’s after finally getting this space up and running again after being bombarded by spammers. sorry for the blip in service and thanks to everyone who checked in! it’s catch up time 🙂

oscar-is-one

hey oscar boscar. aka bossy. aka the boss.

you’re one now.

i’m still unsure how you’ve gotten quite so big quite so quickly, but my boy, we have sure enjoyed sharing this last year with you. right from the very beginning you’ve been the perfect little addition to our family. from your super sleepy newborn days to your endless baby smiles to the shrieks of laughter you let out whenever your brother and sister rough house with you, you add so much light and joy to our days. you’ve traveled by car and airplane and train, by bicycle trailer, subway, shopping cart and canoe; you’ve rolled in the snow and splashed in the ocean. these days you can most often be found rummaging in cupboards for bins of crayons to dump on the floor or rogue lego pieces to snack on, toddling around in search of leftover party balloons, or snuggling in my arms. that last point may make it a little difficult to accomplish things around the house some days, but your little steps are getting faster each day and eventually you won’t need me the way you do now, so i’m savouring our cuddles while you still want them. don’t grow up too fast little guy.

wishing you the happiest of happy happy birthdays. i’m so happy you were born.

xox, momma.

 

so, last night i was speaking with a friend about the launch and lamented, “what if nobody enters my contest?”

well, i’ve said it here and here and here, and now i’m going to say it here too.

today has been amazing. thank you. i honestly have no more words.

just thank you.

that and, i feel about as happy as this guy looks.
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xo

welcome to hankiland, aka “the blog formerly known as adventures in pinksugarland”.

with the rebrand of my photography business, i figured it was time for pinksugarland to grow up a little bit as well, so after a bit of a sentimental goodbye, here we are! aside from the name change, the new look (courtesy of the awesome girls behind gimme that it), and the fact that you can now find both my photography work, personal work and everything in between all in one place, nothing has changed. this is the new place to come to see daily(ish) photos of our little family, the adventures we get up to, and all of our favourite things. i’ve been sitting on some fun content in anticipation of the launch so in the coming weeks you can expect to see a lot of awesome stuff here — from lila and cole’s birthday parties, to a couple of requested craft tutorials, to finally sharing cole’s nursery (that he no longer lives in) — along with the regular favourites, like book club and on repeat.

in celebration of the big launch, i have an incredible week of giveaways planned for you all (seriously, i want one of everything). first up is the opportunity to win a lifestyle session for your own family — this contest is not exclusive to edmonton residents so all of you should be heading over to my business blog for all the details!
insertyourfamilyheremmand for the rest of the week i have a giveaway lined up here every day, tuesday through friday, featuring a ton of my favourite canadian designers and small businesses, so be sure to check back often for all of the ways to enter to win.

thanks so much to all of you who have joined us here — i can’t wait to share this next chapter with you all.
xo


so, i’m blatantly cross posting this from my instagram account, but based on the response there, i wanted to share it here too!

. . . . .

anyone who has followed my work for any period of time is probably pretty aware of my tendency to focus on the positive/find the light/celebrate the everyday/enjoy the small things… to “zoom in” if you will. in chatting with a good friend recently (this is all her idea really), she mentioned how much power there was in both spotlighting the awesome moments AND in “zooming out” once in a while, to embrace the chaos and to give some context and perspective.

while this concept is nothing new, i thought it could be a fun little project to start and to extend to anybody else who wants to join in and share some of the not so pretty behind the pretty.

all that to say, welcome to the #zoomoutmovement and please play along 🙂

. . . . .

and if you somehow were under the impression that i (or anyone else for that matter) am “doing it all”, you were wrong 😉


having children has quickly made halloween one of my favourite times of year. any excuse for a celebration is a good one for me. one that includes crafting and sugar, even better.

if this post isn’t huge enough for you (ha!), you can see iphone photos on instagram (#monstersandspidersandghostsohmy). (thank goodness for the one photo of oscar with his “fire” in on ig because he boycotted it the rest of the week.)

costume prep was a little less stressful this year as most of the kids’ costumes (cupid, scuba diver, dragon and hot air balloon) were ones i had designed for my costume feature in better homes and gardens, the jet pack was a hand me down from a couple of years ago, and the spaceman was lila’s old ballerina robot costume with some modifications! (it was so fun to reimagine that one for cole this year.)

lila already has a few costume ideas up her sleeve for next year — i can’t wait!

spooky print is a digital download from hello tosha designs.
tutorials for the bhg costumes are available until november 3 here.


it’s kind of impossible to come up with the right words in situations like this — it’s definitely another of those dream [that i never knew i even had] come true moments. these are photos of the halloween issue of better homes and gardens magazine. inside, you will find a 12-page feature of halloween costumes i designed and photographed.

i don’t really know what to say beyond that. other than this is so incredibly cool. and thank you. thank you to the people at bhg. thanks to mark for putting up with the massive mess that went into creating this, and every other costume, party, and random craft i’ve ever decided needs to be done right now. and thank you to all of you. who come here to check out this little blog, and who pin and share the images i take and crafts i make, and who hire me to photograph your families. we have a pretty good thing going here in pinksugarland, and lots of that is thanks to you 🙂

this is totally reading like an acceptance speech, but whatever. i’m happy, and i’m thankful.


it’s hard to know where to begin when reflecting on the past year. . . 2013 was quite the ride here in pinksugarland; we embarked on some awesome adventures, but the highs and lows sure were extreme.

that said, thank you so much to all of you who have followed along with us here over the past year (especially for your patience over the last while as we’ve adjusted to our new schedule with lila in school, and me being rather under the weather for the first four months of this pregnancy.)

tomorrow this little blog will celebrate it’s second birthday, and i can’t wait to share this coming next year with you all. it’s sure to be a pretty special year with another little one joining our family in the spring, and lots of other great things on the horizon. like last year, i’m hoping to find the time to share more of our favourite things, crafts, styles, and songs, as well as finally posting the kids’ bedrooms and some other projects around the house; however based on my success rate of increasing those posts over the last year, i’m not making any guarantees 😉 what i can promise though, is to keep looking for bits of joy and beauty in the everyday, and documenting those moments as we go.

without further ado, the top thirteen posts of twenty thirteen:

13. our halloween celebrations

12. cole’s afternoon sink bath

11. experimenting with double exposures

10. how to wear floral shorts

9. lila’s room update

8. our stop motion camping trip

7. top ten of 2012

6. lila’s first day of kindergarten

5. an impromptu photoshoot

4. cole’s first birthday party

3. a profound loss for our family

2. lila’s paper bag princess party

and the highlight of our year. . .
1. a big announcement

thank you for being here 🙂

four months ago, my baby boy turned one and i took some pictures. now it’s almost april, and it feels a little silly that it’s taken so long, but it’s about time i shared some of those photos, and a few words i wrote down on that day. (i’m not a writer, but i’m working on it.)

colebot,

it’s hard to believe that it was just over a year ago that i was awaiting your arrival, more than a little bit nervous that i couldn’t possibly love another child as much as i loved your sister.

and then you were born, and in that instant, all of my worries disappeared.

thank you, sweet boy, for filling a hole in our family that i never knew existed. for fitting in so seamlessly from the first day you arrived. for teaching me to love you and your sister and your daddy fuller and harder than i knew was ever possible. for your crazy pterodactyl screams and sweet little kisses. for your wobbly first steps and your love of sparkly necklaces and all things with wheels. for (thus far) putting up with bowties and skinny jeans and seeming to actually enjoy getting dressed in the morning… or in the late afternoon, depending on the day ;). for avoiding any serious injuries despite your affinity for getting yourself into risky situations. for your squishy cheeks and long lashes and ticklish toes. for all that you are.

we are so lucky to have you in our lives.

happy first birthday my boy. i love you so.

ps. it’s a little bit embarrassing posting this all so late, but not nearly as embarrassing as those birth announcements still piled on our dresser…

um, yay!!! thank you so much for all of your votes last week 🙂 amongst so many amazing and long established blogs, it’s pretty unbelievable to me that our newly one year old little space on the web made it into the top six! i have no illusions about winning this thing, but i do so appreciate each and every one of your votes and all of the support (and i’ll admit, it would be awesome if we didn’t come in dead last in the finals, haha). if you voted in the first round, your vote in the finals is just the click of a button in the poll, and if you missed the first round but still want to add your vote, head here. thanks all — you guys are the best!!

happy monday!

it’s that time of year again 🙂

yay!! thank you thank you thank you to whoever nominated adventures in pinksugarland this year for best family & kids blog over on apartment therapy. you’ve totally made my day 🙂

if you’d like to add your vote, you can do so here. we’re currently way down at the bottom of the list… think we can crack the top ten again this year?? top six make it to the final round!

thanks in advance to those of you you take the time to vote. (and even if you don’t vote, thanks for just being here and sharing our adventures!)

and if you’re visiting here for the first time today from at, welcome!!

today is the official first birthday of this little blog and i’m feeling just a wee bit nostalgic — i took some time to go back to the first posts here and it’s pretty amazing to see how much lila and cole have grown and changed in such a short period of time.

i am oh so thankful to have this record of my children, for the encouragement of friends and family to get it started, and for all of you, who check in on our adventures from time to time (or every day) to see what we’ve been up to here in pinksugarland.

taking a few minutes each evening to pick a photo (or two) to share and to reflect on our day has really helped me to be grateful for the lovely life we have — and on those days that aren’t so lovely, to appreciate a happy moment or two tucked in amongst the chaos 😉

looking forward, the plan for this year is more of the same, keeping a daily-ish photo journal of our lives, as well as (hopefully) sharing more of the things we love, make, listen to and wear, and getting a few of the projects on our to do list around the house completed (i have dozens of ideas drafted and just need to sit down and finish one every once in a while!). if there is anything in particular that you want to see more of, just let me know and i’ll see what i can do!

looking back, here were the most popular posts of the last year:
10. easter glitter. glitter, more glitter and a few stripes too 🙂

9. halloween decor, snacks, and two sets of costumes — perhaps the biggest post all year.

8. airplane valentines still no plan for this year — better get on that!

7. counting down to daddy’s return from africa.

6. our stop motion camping trip one of my very favourites of the year!

5. lila’s fourth birthday letter and photos (which reminds me, i still have to post cole’s!)

4. lila in the window (this one went crazy on pinterest)

3. cole’s birth announcements which i am sad to admit are still sitting here in our house 🙁

2. the bubble looking forward to bringing the bubble outdoors when things warm up.

1. boxland! these houses are still played with on an almost daily basis.

here’s to another year of awesome adventures. thanks for joinging us for the ride!

you, my lilabean, are four now.

four years old and so imaginative and interested in the world and excited about life.

you are quick to make friends and (when you’re in the mood) happy to chat with every person you see…… whether they are interested in conversation or not 😉 just as feisty as ever, you don’t hesitate to let people know what you think, good or bad; you wear your heart on your sleeve. you are one of the most ticklish little girls i’ve ever come across and your laugh is one of my favourite sounds in that world — especially that crazy laugh reserved for things that are extra silly 🙂 you love reading anything and everything you can get your hands on these days — books, signs, posters, instructions — and we are beyond proud of you. i’ll admit that the why‘s do get a wee bit tedious on occasion, but we try our best to provide you with all of the knowledge you’re looking for, my girl, and if you have a question we don’t know the answer to, you’re always ready to “google it!”.

in the last few months, you’ve finally begun sleeping through the night most nights, and on the rare occasion when you do attempt to sneak into our bed, i secretly don’t really mind 😉 you’re a champion snuggler. you love food and your sweet tooth is unrivaled in this house (which is saying a lot when you have me for a momma……). you love parties and shopping and making crafts, and i love that as you get older you’re taking a more active role in all of these things. your baby brother looks up to you like crazy and you love to dress him up in “handsome” bow ties and help him walk around the house by holding his hands. you’ve grown into an amazing big sister over the past year — we all have off days 😉 — and i so look forward to watching the two of you grow up together.

it’s hard to believe that this is your last year at home all day with me before heading off to kindergarten in the fall. i’m going to hold on to every moment we have left, but i promise to send you off as best prepared to grow and learn as i can.

thank you for still letting me call you my baby girl. i love you so.

(on a more humourous note — we brought a little helium tank to fill up the balloons for lila’s birthday session once we got to our location, and half way through the fourth balloon, the thing completely ran out. i had to blow the balloon up the rest of the way and, of course, it was too heavy to float 😛 any images were you see all four balloons floating, that light pink one up on top is precariously balanced on top of the other three. there were a lot of laughs attempting to get that thing to stay up there. the best laid plans……)

was my reaction upon stumbling across this this morning! considering this blog has been online for less than two months — anything posted before early january was backdated and posted because, hey, it’s my blog and i wanted it here 😉 — i’m more than surprised to find it listed among apartment therapy‘s nominations for best family blog.

thanks so much to whoever sent in a nomination, and to anyone inclined, you can add your vote here.

(and if you’ve made your way here from at, welcome!! i’m so happy you’re here.)