Butterfly Gardens


If you ever fancy a trip to Vancouver Island I recommend going up island a bit (a lot) to check out the Tofino Botanical Gardens. AKA Butterfly Gardens.

Of course there aren’t just butterflies. There are some reptiles, lots of orchids, and an outdoor bird (I think) sanctuary.

These are photos from Easter, the day before H and I got hitched. We stopped at the gardens while en route to Tofino. Even though “Tofino” is in the garden’s name, it’s actually still quite a drive to Tofino. Here’s a map off the website to “help.” LOL

Everyone from my grandma to my two-year-old nephew had a great time so it really is fun for everyone. That said, since the gardens are so far off the beaten path you probably would need to already be heading up to surf-land to stop by but you should definitely make the effort!

The only negative experience from the whole day is we, unfortunately, saw a tortoise die. At least, we think it died. H saw it live and I saw it shortly thereafter. Blood came out of his mouth and then pooled on the floor and he just stopped moving. Very sad. When H told the staff they were quite upset—actually very upset. We felt that was an appropriate time to continue on our way. Best let them concentrate on the task at hand.

Top Five First Fives from Arbynblog

top five

Something I love about having the last six years documented in this blog is how much I forget.

For instance: I thought I started doing Top Five lists on this blog when I moved to England.

But actually I began when I was in Quebec. Randomly. As was my entire stay in la belle province.

As I dug through my archives I decided a good way to start off Top Five Lists month is to do one from my own collection: Top Five First Fives From Arbynblog

  1. Top Five Things That Make (Do Not Make) My Bug Bites Itchier
  2. Top Five Things I Learned in Montreal
  3. Top Five Things Not to Say When Meeting Yacht People for the First Time
  4. Top Five Favourite Moments from my Brother’s Wedding and Reception
  5. Top Five Reasons to Live in London

My first attempts at Top Five lists were kind of funny. They consisted of a lot of inside jokes and no context, which was probably only funny to me and the one other person who was there (who probably didn’t even read my blog cause it was kind of a secret back then). I hope I’ve matured past that by now.

And, actually, although I think all those lists are pretty funny, I found another, which may take the cake. It’s about my first experience driving in England and me oh my that was a nail biter! Reading that list makes it seem like it was just yesterday I was driving on the left-hand side of the road, listening to my driving instructor tell me how nervous I made him because I was from Canada and claimed I could drive a manual transmission (I totally could).

Oh, and when you read Top Five Things to Know About Driving in England know that all these things actually happened to me on my FIRST driving lesson. Crazy! How did I spend two years there and never get in an accident?!

Honeymoon Post: Are You Looking for a New Career? (Don’t Look Here)

Honeymoon photo

Wow last week sure was fun! At least, I sure had fun reading all the really creative, informative, and actually interesting facts and figures (pun intended) about this here sport we call “figure skating.”

Thanks to all the great guest posters, my fellow bloggers—and of course a special thanks to a brand-new blogger, Jenny! You did a great job! If you missed any of the guest posts I’ll link them at the bottom of this one.

Now, I was a little vague when I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was going away for a week and needed some help with the blog but now I can reveal (although I’m sure you’ve deduced the answer from the wedding post) I was on my honeymoon!

In front of the cruise ship
On the Amtrak

I was not at all in charge of the honeymoon, my husband was. And he decided we would go on an Alaskan cruise. It was an excellent choice since both of us had never done it before, or any cruise for that matter, and we both really like the ocean and whales. Oh, and the idea of hanging out all week and letting other people make decisions for us sounded excellent.

Skagway and Sarah Palin
Glacier viewing

So yeah, that’s what I was doing. It was awesome. We got upgraded and had the most amazing room-with-a-view and then I came home. It’s a bit of a downer but I’m actually relieved to be off the ship so I can stop accidentally spending so much money.

Our awesome cruise ship penthouse

The cruise ended in Seattle so we had to trek back to Vancouver, which was a bit interesting. Then my mom picked us up and—since we had her hostage in the car—talked her ear off about the cruise.

I’m not sure she found our stories that interesting, but I learned something interesting. Did you know there are figure skating shows on some cruise ships? I feel a teensy bit ripped off for not getting one of those, but actually not that much. I’ve never really cared for show skating. They only do the tricks they’re really comfortable with. I like the scary stuff where it’s all on the line and the bar is pushed higher and higher and then someone does a quad-triple-triple and oh yeah it’s on.

Show skating isn’t like that. It’s more…Disney. Actually, it’s literally Disney.

And now that I’ve seen the video it actually looks a bit cool…

So perhaps my opinion is changing…So there aren’t any triples…How much do these people make again? ($$$)

Actually I think you have to be pretty ridiculously talented to make the big bucks. It seems like everyone on cruise ships does eight different jobs, while only the big wigs stick to their, you know, one job. Here’s a bit of info from lovetoknow.com about the perks of being a ridiculously talented performer on a cruise ship (I fixed up the grammar).

While regular cast members are part of the ship’s crew and don’t have specialized benefits, a performer can earn $1,500-$4,000 per month depending on the cruise line, the performer’s experience, and the length of their contract. Solo and guest performers are offered passenger privileges when they’re not performing and also able to bring their spouse or family members for a pretty cheap rate

So basically if you’re ridiculously talented, have kind of a niche skills, and feel like seeing the world and doing your skating thing, even if you have to wear weird costumes and do the same routine every night for nine months straight…then yeah, you should definitely look into this line of work.

But if you’re like me…then you should go on a cruise and be a complete goof ball.

On the bridge
Larger-than-life chess game

Guest posts in case you missed them

Thanks again guys—I’m so, so thrilled with the great blogs! From international bloggers! Wow! We’ll have to do this again.

Year 31

Some of you may have already heard the news that my boyfriend and I tied the knot on Easter weekend in Tofino, B.C.

Some of you may not have.

I know I’ve barely talked about my boyfriend. Just a couple times, really. The first time was our one year anniversary, and the second when I was provoked into blogging due to Snuggie-threat.

But the truth is, I wouldn’t have mentioned him at all unless it was serious and, well, it was.

But before you get all mad, thinking we kept you in the dark, you should also know we are both pretty tight-lipped about our plans and we are both kind of sort of the “low key” kind of people.

And all we wanted to do was elope, because getting a lot of attention is scary. Except I figured my sister would kill me (she would have) and maybe even my mom. So we thought about it a bit longer and decided what we would do is “destination” it a bit, but only a bit, and bring the whole family.

Since we’re low-key and shy and blah blah blah we decided it would be fun to theme-it-up, with a vintage/30s thing. A co-worker had the perfect dress for me (she got it for a steal at LW… $79 marked down from $3200 not a joke) and once I had it cleaned I nearly fell over at how gorgeous it was.

We bought a bunch of awesome hats at a vintage hat shoppe, found a couple at thrift shops, and also raided our parents coffers to have all sorts of interesting props. I also managed to find a hat, which I felt was perfect for the ceremony. And my mom sewed belts for us girls out of remnant fabric I found at a fabric store to tie everything together (pun intended).

Oh, and I wanted simple, antique-y flowers for my bouquet so my boyfriend made me one from hydrangeas.

Whoops. I’m getting ahead of the story.

After we decided the location-ish (Vancouver Island, maybe Tofino), we hired a wedding planner. Suzanne from West Coast Weddings and Events. Right away she put me at ease. She was really professional and knew her stuff. Once I described what we were going for (low-key, simple, beach, family only) she put me in touch with exactly who we needed, recommended ideas and people for what we weren’t sure about, and basically was on-call for all my stressed-bride-to-be moments for the next few weeks as we planned for real a wedding, which up until we hired Suzanne, we weren’t planning at all.

Why Easter? Well, Suzanne was free. Plus everyone had a long weekend so they could make it. Makes sense, right? Right?

Anyway, the most important thing to us (after the props) was the photographer. Honestly we didn’t care if we couldn’t have a beach wedding, due to rain, or if the place we stayed was only OK instead of awesome. We didn’t even care if our meal was in-house or at a gorgeous restaurant. We wanted awesome—themed—photos. Thirties-style. And a rad photographer.

Suzanne recommended a few local photographers and Marnie Recker stood heads and tails above the rest. We loved her framing, use of light, and great ideas. It may seem strange, but we completely trusted her from the get-go, never doubting for an instant that we would love, love, love her photos.

And we so love, love, love our photos. She ended up giving us over 400 images… way more than what we had agreed upon. We were so caught off-guard when she told us how many we were getting I don’t think either of us even said anything. Yikes! Really we’re thrilled! So cool! And we are working on our testimonials so we’ll make good.

Not only do we love, love, love the photos, but we had the best time with Marnie. We were comfortable the whole time and I wish she lived near me so we could be BFFs. Really!

If you click on the links for Suzanne and Marnie at the bottom of this post you’ll see a ton-of-more photos from the wedding.

The day was so, so awesome and we got better weather than we could have hoped for—skies so clear-blue you’d think it was July, 15-degree (Celsius) weather with a quiet breeze, and a relatively empty beach for a near-private wedding.

We (not me, but everyone else probably) made a beautiful aisle with driftwood and shells, which were all just hanging around waiting for us to use them. And we brought in a decorated arch, which was a pretty nice addition to the scene, but also not needed. We were in the most gorgeous part of the world I have ever seen.

We took photos around Cox Bay, which is where the local minister Joan came out and performed a beautiful ceremony for us, and I can’t believe the range of scenery there was in a 10-minute walking radius. Sheesh. Ridiculous. I totally get why people go to Tofino and don’t go home.

A short engagement? Yeah, probably. A lucky strike? Most definitely. The best wedding ever? Heck yes! Our resort was B-E-A-utiful, our dinner was fabulous (best steak I’ve ever eaten), the weather was gorgeous and the setting could not be improved upon.

Oh, and I got a pretty awesome husband out of the deal!

For more photos:

Career Change at Age 5

My career as flower girl really took off after my tryout in peach. The next year or maybe the one after I was asked to be the flower girl again in a wedding and even though I had to share the limelight with my brother I remembered the white chocolates and everything was OK.

Except… well, there wasn’t any chocolate bribery this time. Apparently when you reach a certain age they think you don’t need extra coaxing down the aisle.

Well I never!

So I changed career paths. Weddings became a thing of the past. Now I was into gymnastics.

I like this photo because it’s so flattering. A few of my crew and I took our first gymnastics class down at the rec centre where I learned things like push ups and somersaults. However, it was my entire goal in life to learn a cartwheel and so I would practice for hours out in the back yard. It was probably a pretty sad sight. Gymnastics didn’t come naturally to me.

Not so coordinated. Or bendy.

But, me being me, I wouldn’t let a thing like “natural ability” get in my way. So I kept practicing.

And you know, eventually I did perfect the cartwheel. And the roundoff. And the one-handed cartwheel. And the handspring. And it was awesome.

And just for fun here’s our annual Roste kids photo. I think it’s about 1984 here. Not sure though, my mom stopped labelling the photos long before this one.