Alberta snapshot: Fullerton Loop (part 2).


FL2FPNormandeauAnother photo from our snowshoeing trip to Fullerton Loop, near Bragg Creek, Alberta, a couple of Sundays ago.  The snow and cloudy skies turned the whole world black and white…with just a hint of blue. The silence was magical.

Alberta snapshot: Fullerton loop.


I don’t recall such a snowy February here in Calgary…we’ve definitely got good snowshoeing weather at the moment.  The thing is, the risk of avalanches in the mountains is massive right now and sticking to safe terrain is crucial.  Fullerton Loop, outside of Bragg Creek, fits the bill perfectly: it’s a no-risk snowshoe trek, fast and easy and short (just over 6 kilometres). It’s fairly heavily trafficked right now, so if you don’t have snowshoes, you can simply hike it (and at this very moment, you probably don’t need microspikes).

We headed out there last Sunday morning and it snowed the whole time; in fact, Highway 66 wasn’t even ploughed when we arrived at the trailhead, beating the crowds that arrived later in the day.  For us, it was snow…trees…quiet.  Blissful.

Calgary snapshot: Regal Cat Cafe.

A couple of weeks ago, my hubby and I honoured a very special reservation for coffee and baked treats at a café in the neighbourhood of Kensington here in Calgary.

We had a few guests join us afterwards.

Of the furry variety.

You see, we spent the morning at the Regal Cat Café, where you can sit and enjoy a delicious tea or coffee and a scrumptious variety of baking, and then, if you choose (and who wouldn’t?), you can pay a small fee to spend the better part of an hour entertaining and being entertained by a roomful of cats.  The Café works in conjunction with The MEOW Foundation, a Calgary cat rescue charity, and the cats you get to play with are all up for adoption.  The money you pay to spend time with the cats goes to help fund the Foundation’s work.


It was probably the most delightful morning I have spent in years.  We don’t have a cat, but I am utterly infatuated with them, so to have free time just to play with these rescues and watch them do goofy, fun cat things, was such a treat.  And the Café’s ultra-spacious, kitty-approved (and quite frankly, supremely swanky) accommodations, completely separate from the food, are set up with all manner of hiding spots, climbing areas, platforms, scratching posts, blankets, chairs, and sunny nooks just for snoozing.  It’s absolutely perfect.  (There is even an inner room with a sink for washing up and lockers to securely leave your belongings in).


For anyone in Calgary who wants to visit the Café, there are a few drop-in cat visits permitted, but they do prefer advance registrations.  The number of people allowed in the room at one time is restricted.  And you have to observe a few rules for the safety and comfort of the cats (and you), but everything is clearly explained when you get there.


I’m looking forward to filling up my new Loyalty card at this wonderful place.  🙂

Tuesday tidbits.

If you’re looking to ID native wildflowers on the Canadian Prairies (specifically in Saskatchewan), this website has the most amazing photography I’ve ever seen on the subject.  We have most of these plants here in Alberta and I know this is a resource I will use over and over again. Even if you don’t live in this part of Canada, you will hugely enjoy the beautiful images. I am floored that these are not yet compiled into book form; I would buy it in a heartbeat.

I somehow missed the name change for African violets and I can’t seem to find out when it was made official (for all I know, it was quite a while ago)…but here it is: Saintpaulia spp. are now more accurately termed StreptocarpusThis article offers a bit of explanation.

My favourite recipe so far this week: this one for Cranberry Muffins.  But I didn’t have any oranges, so I didn’t use orange zest or orange juice; I substituted 1 teaspoon of pure lemon extract instead.  And omitted the glaze entirely.  They were wonderful.  I will get some oranges and try them the way they were intended as well.

From the “Toot My Own Horn Department”:  I am delighted that my article “Vibrant Viburnums” is included in the new volume of The Prairie Garden!  The 2018 book is all about shade plants and was officially launched last week.


Tuesday tidbits.

While putting away picture books at work this past week, I came across an illustrator I am now officially absolutely gaga over: Sonja Danowski.  You can see some of the work she did for Michael Rosen’s story Forever Flowers here, as well as a gallery of other art she has done. An incredible talent!

Despite its name, the site American Literature doesn’t feature strictly American authors; it’s actually a great source of public domain short fiction, novels, and poetry from writers from all over the world.  Enjoy!

Although I found it a bit late (the article was published in June of last year), this information about discovering rare plants in Hawai’i using drones is fascinating (and you have to watch the breathtaking video at the end!).

Have you ever come across a dead tree with an odd spiral shape?  I’ve found a few examples on our mountain hikes but unfortunately the only photograph I have of one was taken with a film camera way back in the early 2000’s and a printed copy that I can scan and post isn’t immediately at hand.  Although the title of this article is sort of misleading, the explanation it offers is accurate. Another interesting thing to watch for during those walks in the woods!

My fave “new” recipe of last week?  This sweet and sour chicken. (I didn’t make the fried rice; I just served it over hot cooked basmati. I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup, cut back the vinegar to about 1/3 cup, and used only one egg).  Easy and delicious!

Alberta snapshot: Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail, Kananaskis Country.


A quick stroll during the first week of the new year….


The scale and skillful construction of even the smallest beaver dam never ceases to amaze me – and when the little critters truly go to town, this is the result….

Alberta snapshot: Wedge Pond.


Don’t let that perfect blue sky fool you. We took a ridiculously cold (and quick!) snowshoe around Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country on December 23. The snow was blowing from the tops of the peaks and the humidity in the air was literally (and I mean literally) breathtaking.  Given the assault by Jack Frost, we weren’t even halfheartedly debating whether or not to cut the trip short…and then my hubby saw two wolves on another part of the trail.  They were skittish and promptly vanished, but we suddenly got to worrying a bit (especially when the tree branches were cracking just so), and besides, there was hot chocolate and Irish Cream waiting at home.