Valentine’s Day Northern Lights

Here are some of the pics I took of the aurora on Feb. 14th:

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One Week Countdown to the Oscars!

So… Have i mentioned that I am heading out of Hay River, Northwest Territories in one week today, to head to Los Angeles? I am doing my official one week countdown… to the Academy Awards!

So, technically I don’t get to go to the awards themselves. But in my opinion, this is even better. You see, my sister-in-law, Shawna, is an amazing artist. A fantasy-like painter. Together; her, my mother-in-law and another sister in law get to accompany Shawna as her team, to the official gift lounge to the Oscars. In one week today!!!!!!!!

I was lucky enough to go with Shawna to her first gift lounge last September. We traveled to Hamilton, Ontario to attend the official gift lounge for the Canadian Country Music Awards. It was a fantastic experience. I can remember walking in the day before with Shawna to set up: we got our security badges and walked through the band’s entrance to the basement of Copps Coliseum. As we were being shown to the table where her art would be displayed, country music artist Terri Clark was doing a sound check, and singing “We’re here for a good time”. As we were trying to keep our composure, we walked past CCMA nominee Dean Brody. It was such a surreal experience.

We met artist after artist as Shawna gifted them with their choice of one of her prints. During our first day, I can still remember a lull when there was really nobody walking through the gift lounge for about 5-10 minutes. Behind us was a black curtain where some things were kept, such as chairs and tables. All of a sudden, we heard singer Johnny Reid walking behind us; behind this curtain. We knew it was him as he was quietly singing to himself in his highly recognizable, beautiful voice. What a moment.


As our day went on, we got to hear band after band rehearse. I can still remember listening to Emerson Drive do their sound check for the song “Let your love speak”. It was a great day.

We got to meet artists such as Dean Brody, Terri Clark, Johnny Reid, Tara Oram, Emerson Drive, George Canyon, Gord Bamford, Charlie Major, Deric Ruttan, Jason McCoy, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, and Paul Brandt.



When Paul Brandt walked in the room, I was so excited. I might have been shaking a little bit… haha. But then, he was being called and couldn’t walk through the gift lounge. As he started to walk away, I had to go after him… which I did, camera in hand. He was kind enough to pose for a few pictures with me, as he took them himself.

It was such a great experience. Not too long afterwards though, Shawna called me again. This time, asking if I could help her…. at the Academy Awards gift lounge. I agreed on the spot! So now, I am flying from Hay River next Tuesday to Yellowknife, Yellowknife down to Edmonton, then to Calgary and then to LA, where our hotel is right on Rodeo Drive.

The gift lounge is all day next Thursday, and we have no idea who we are going to meet or who we are giving prints of Shawna’s paintings to, but I’ll be sure to blog about it afterwards 🙂 For those of you reading, please check out my sister-in-law Shawna’s website to see her art:

Right now, I have us booked at The Ivy for a lunch, we are heading out shopping to the Grove, and we are having dinner at Koi restaurant one night. Anyone out there have any other suggestions of where we should go? My biggest goal is to somehow get tickets for the 4 of us to see Ellen DeGeneres next Wednesday or Friday….. Tickets have been basically sold out since we found out about the gift lounge… But we are going to try to call to get tickets the same day, which her website says we can do. (Anyone out there able to help us out in THAT department, who is reading this right now???) 🙂 (I have learned that you don’t get anything if you don’t ask for it, so I’m trying here!) haha

Anyways, goodnight everybody. Stay tuned for updates! 🙂 xo

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Valentine’s Day= Cake Pops and Aurora explosion!

Well, for Valentine’s Day I decided the night before to randomly try making cake pops for the first time. 60 of them. Random, yes. For those of you who don’t know, cake pops are crumbled up cake mixed with icing to make a moist, crumbly mess. Then, they are rolled into balls, chilled and stuck onto sucker sticks, dipped in melted chocolate and are then decorated.

I made 60 of them from scratch- about 30 for the teachers at the K-3 school that I work at and about 30 for my husband to share with the employees at the Power Corp. 1 cake= about 60 pops.

I left about a third of them as white chocolate, added some pink food colouring for the next third and added red for the final third. I decorated each one differently and displayed them in mason jars filled with white sugar to hold them up, some with pink ribbons around them.



They were a huge hit! And they were pretty delicious… Super moist and really nice to look at too.

Here are a few more pictures!


Jeremy and I had a really nice Valentine’s day… I also made him about 60 skor/peanuty butter chip chewy cookies, which he loved. We went out for dinner.. But the amazing part of our night was seeing the Northern Lights dance across the sky like we have never seen before.

Apparently, yesterday, yes Valentine’s Day, there was a heart-shaped burst of electrically-charged particles from the sun, says Press TV: ( (I couldn’t make this up if I tried). But the light show that we saw about 2 hours out of town was unrealistic at my best attempt to put it into words. They were pink, green and red/violet at times. Jeremy and I missed the biggest burst as we were trying to drive out of town… But we caught some great photos I will post later this week.

Happy Valentine’s Day people! xoxo

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Learning to photograph the Northern Lights

For Christmas, Jeremy had bought me a beautiful camera, as recommended to him by our photographer friend in Hay River, Adam. I am now the proud owner of a Canon DSLR EOS 60D. Learning the camera’s potential is another story though.

The other night, Adam held a class at the local library on how to photograph the lights! After the class, about 10 of us drove out on the highway to a frozen-over beaver pond to try to capture them.

Here are my first pictures I have ever taken of the aurora!!! I’m hoping to take some more when they come back out, it’s been quiet the past week.



The following 3 pictures (right and below)  are ones taken by our friend Adam Hill of all of us learning to photograph the aurora. I am the one in the grey jacket and hood 🙂

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Waking up the blogger

It’s February, 2012. I figured that there is so much going on that I should start the old blog up again to keep whoever feels like reading it, entertained.

It’s been a long, dark winter in Hay River, Northwest Territories. For the first time, Jeremy and I drove to work while the sun painted the sky a slight shade of red; much different than the black we were used to driving to work in at 8:30 am. Just last month, I took a picture of the full moon outside of my French classroom window at 9:12am. Today it is pretty sunny, and weather has been the talk of the town for the past week.

It’s been a good year; we had our Christmas in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario where Jeremy gave me a beautiful new camera. It’s a Canon EOS 60D, perfect for photographing the Northern Lights. It’s taking quite a while to learn it though… Will have to post some pictures as I go.

I will be updating the blog more frequently now though, there are lots of things happened in Hay River for us.

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Northern Aurora

The aurora will be out in full this week.
How do I know? There is this website I basically check all the time, which give a forecast for how the northern lights will be, on a scale of 1-10. Usually anything above a 4 is awesome. I have only seen a rating of 6/10 and I think that was once in November. Here is the website if you are interested:

I am thinking of making the drive out to Dog Beach where the viewing is best, sometime this week.

I have referred to Dog Beach a few times on here, haven’t I? Well where we live, we are right on the southern edge of the Great Slave Lake. According to the all-knowledgeable Wikipedia, the Great Slave Lake is the deepest Lake in North America and it covers an area of 27,200 km2. So basically, its huge- which is something to say coming from a girl who grew up on the Great Lakes.

So anyways, you drive out to Dog Beach on Great Slave Lake anywhere from 8:00 pm-2:00 am and you park just down the road because you have to walk through some deep snow to get to the beach.

As you approach the beach, you walk past a man who lives in a homemade “camper” along the way, and you sit and talk to him. His name is Winter, and he is living off of the land. In his camper he has a small bed, a tiny stove which he uses for food and for heat, and a dog that is twice the size of you, named “Deeka” (which means wolf in South Slavey. That is not how it is spelled but sort of how it is pronounced). Winter is quite the character, we always stop and talk to him on our way to the beach to catch the Northern Lights, and on our way back to the car we stop at his fire to warm up. Can you imagine living, by yourself, in the Northwest Territories in a man-made camper in -40 degree weather? When it gets nice out, he moves from his wooden camper to a tent, where he can live closer to the shore. I’m planning on making him some bread or pasta sauce next time we walk past his place.

And to give you an idea of the size of his dog, we had the Missoula Children’s Theatre send two talented ladies up here named Annie and Stephanie, who in one week held auditions for a play for the kids in Hay River and had the performance on Friday. 5 days. Well they did it and it was a huge success, and I got to know them since I worked for the week with them as a ‘supervisor’. They really wanted to see the Northern Lights so we took them one night and they met Winter and Deeka. I’m sure they won’t mind me posting their picture on here so you can see the size of this polar bear-dog.

*I remember first meeting this dog. When we first went to Dog Beach to watch the Northern Lights this year, It was completely black outside, wolves or sled dogs (or something eerie-sounding) was howling pretty close by, and this insanely huge dog comes bounding, growling and breathing heavily towards us! I went into a freak out, curling up into a ball and covering my neck… Deeka wanted to meet us and play. Then he ran off.That was our first meeting…

So back to my story again… The northern lights..
Anyways, once you get to the frozen lake, you lie down and just look up.

I have seen the northern lights before, but I have never, ever seen anything like this. The lights up here are truly mind boggling. We have a friend up here named Adam who photographs the lights- his pictures are just absolutely amazing, as a side note. We ran into each other at Dog Beach one night as were all there to see the aurora. I asked if he wouldn’t mind taking a picture of Jeremy and I and he did. This wasn’t even a night where they were “insane” but the picture turned out pretty cool.

Maybe I’ll get a really nice camera of my own one day so I can try to take amazing pictures like this! (Note in the photograph the beaver mitts on my hands, if you have read my post two days ago!)

*Jeremy and I watching Northern Lights on Great Slave Lake. Photograph by Adam Hill

The forecast for the aurora shows about a 5/10 rating on a few nights this week. It’s a little cloudy out today, but it’s supposed to be a balmy -30 at night, so we will see what happens.

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A cold walk outside.

Jeremy, Izzy and I walking out near Dog Beach in January. We couldn’t stay long because Izzy got pretty cold… Can you tell from her little face poking out from Jeremy’s jacket? haha

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Where have I been? Hibernating!!!

Hello world!

It’s been a long time, do you remember who I am? I haven’t posted since November: just over 3 months ago! Which is too bad, because lots has been going on up in Hay River!

Let’s see… Well, we survived the longest days of the year in December. Where we are located, we are never in total darkness like some towns just North of us, but it was pretty dark there nevertheless. Sun would rise at about 9:30 am, but wouldn’t be high in the sky; it would just grace the horizon line and set around 3:00, leaving us in total darkness by about 4pm, which made for interesting teaching days! When I substituted at the elementary school in December, I would sometimes have outdoor duty before the bell would ring at 8:30. The students were all playing in the snow, in about -30 weather, in complete darkness with the street lights on. Something I was not used to. Then recess would still be pretty dark out- kind of like dawn (but very cloudy) at 10:15 am, and by lunch, it was a nice shade of grey outside. Driving home at 4:00, light grey turned to dark grey/almost black out. But really, it wasn’t that bad because we went away to visit Jeremy’s family for Christmas and were gone about 3 weeks, and by the time we came back in January, it was much brighter.

Things get sunny up here pretty quickly- you have to remember for the amount of darkness we get in the winter, we get that sunlight in the summer. And here, the sun truly does not set-well it barely does, but the sunlight sticks around until the next sunrise. So looking out my window, it’s about -40 today and extremely sunny; sun’s up by 7 and bright and sets around 6:30pm now.

Christmas was a nice vacation. Leading up to Christmas, I was asked to be a part of a sewing circle with a woman named Dorothy whom I met teaching. She was substituting for the Dene language class and she quickly learned how amazed I was with all of the native art and crafts up here. I began going to her mother’s house (her mother is about 85 years old and is an Elder on the reserve) on Tuesday nights, where I learned how to traditionally bead. And it is not as easy as it looks!First a pattern is drawn on a piece of material called stroud. then you have a beading needle (thin enough so beads can slide onto it) and each bead is sewn on individually and is secured by a second piece of thread while following the pattern.

It took about 2 hours to get that far, I think I got the hang of it after the butterfly pattern.

Below are some pictures of Dorothy and her mother, who are both absolutely amazing women who keep their traditions alive by taking pleasure in teaching those who want to learn. The first picture are some moccasin’s that Dorothy’s mother made by hand and beaded (not to be confused by mukluks which come up past the ankle). Next is a picture of Dorothy and her mother together, followed by a picture of a guitar strap that her mother beaded. Amazing work.

The guitar strap.

I really loved just sitting there and listening to their stories. I try to learn the language too- it’s called South Slavey, and it is really only spoken in this area. I have a book written by Dorothy herself with all of the words and a CD with how the words sound. We will see how far I get.

I’m not sure if I had blogged that Jeremy became a Canadian Ranger around November as well, but there is a patrol coming up this month where they have to travel to Fort Resolution and learn survival skills while living outside for a week. He had learned that beaver fur is the warmest fur and will be the only material that will keep his hands and head warm, so he asked if I could buy some beaver mitts from Dorothy. (The going rate for beaver mitts around here is about $300.00 ). As a side note, fur is a major commodity up here, but it is not for the fashion. Everybody wears fur hats, gloves and many other things up here to stay warm. Dorothy told me if I can buy a beaver pelt myself, she will teach me to make mitts, which I secretly did as I was going to surprise Jeremy with them.

I found a craft place out  of a woman’s house (Diane’s crafts, see picture below) and she sells pelts there.

While Jeremy spent a lot of time out of town working in Inuvik NT, I was sewing up a storm. I gave him the beaver mitts for Christmas, and he really loved them. I’ll post some pictures below so you can see them in the process of being made: it took maybe 4 weeks to make them as they had to be done by hand. The palm part of the gloves is made out of smoked moose hyde. The mitts are very big as they are meant for a second pair of gloves to be worn on the inside. I also made two pairs out of white rabbit fur for my mom and for my mother-in-law. It is what everybody wears here during the cold months to keep warm.

Below is a picture of Dorothy at my house, showing me how to cut the fur. She uses a razor blade- you can’t use scissors as it cuts the fur; the razor only cuts through the leather part without touching the fur. You would have a jagged, unnatural fur line if you use scissors. Also is a picture of the beaver pelt I bought for $150.00. It was considered a “large” (sizes were small, medium, large and extra large). I barely had enough to make 1 pair of mitts; since all of the fur has to be going the same direction on both mitts, you have ad to be very careful when planning on where to cut your pattern from.

The beaver pelt

Other then that, I have been very busy teaching at the schools in and around Hay River, averaging about 4-5 days per week lately. I have now taught from K-12 and have done many extra activities around town, so life has been busy!

There is a lot going on up here lately so I will try to post more often! Take care! Happy 2011!

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What was supposed to be a simple day…

It is November, and I finally woke up with some snow this morning. The weather has been beautiful up here in the Northwest Territories, I think it was +8 yesterday! Last weekend Jeremy and I went for a drive to cut some more wood for our wood stove (which luckily we havn’t had to use yet due to the unusual warm temperatures). We took the truck and left at around 7:00am while it was still dark. After driving through the forest along a cut trail for about 30 kms, we decided to turn around and head back to cut the fallen trees that we had spotted on the way down the path.

We stopped and got our gloves on and Jeremy cut the first fallen tree with the chainsaw- we don’t like to cut down standing trees because there are so many that have fallen naturally and that have dried out. One good tree will barely fill the back of the truck so we have to get quite a bit of wood. We had cut about three fallen trees on our way back out of the forest when we got to our fourth tree, about 6 km. back to the highway. We did our usual routine; Jeremy got out and began to cut, and once he had cut about 6-10 logs I got out and carried them to the truck and organized them. I got back into the truck while he continued cutting and I rolled up the window, since it was a bit cool outside.

While rolling up the window, I noticed that it rolled very slowly, so I called Jeremy and said “I think the truck is dying….” He got in, and the battery was toast. Luckily, he had an extra battery which he brough with him in case of this ever happening, and it too was dead. He figured that the batteries were not recieving the charge for some reason. He asked if I was ready for a walk…

Not happy about this situation, I began to bundle up with what we had: a few sweaters, gum boots (because they were insulated and would be better than my shoes), a touque, camo gloves and sunglasses. I stuffed matches and a water bottle into my pocket and Jeremy had his GPS which told us how far the highway was (6km), a compass and a gun with him for protection. Which reminds me, did I mention the wolf prints?… On our way down the path, there was a light dusting of snow which allowed you to see all of the animal tracks. We stopped to take pictures (all with my Iphone- I forgot the camera) of these really cool wolf tracks over a big, frozen puddle. You can see where their tails were draging in the snow behind them as they walked. They were very fresh because there was no snow covering the tracks at all-we figured they must have been there that morning. We counted 7 sets of prints and two babies. Pretty cool, until you start to walk that same path however many hours later.

This wolf pack followed the same path we had taken for kilometres. So needless to say we were very aware of every sound and where Izzy was at all times.

Luckily it was a pretty warm day out. The sun was bright and shining which makes a huge difference. After a couple of hours of following the winding path, we made it to the highway. We were still an hour out of town.  We decided to hitchhike (which I have never done in my life. But we had no choice with no cell service). Jeremy laughed and told me the first car would definately stop once seeing us with our small dog, and I told him nobody would pick ups up with a gun slung over his shoulder- so he hid it just in the bush a bit. He was right though, the first truck pulled over, and a very nice, older man named George from Fort Resolution picked us up.

He dropped us off at our house in Hay River where we warmed up some more and ate a hot lunch of sausage, eggs and toast, and hopped inthe car to drive out to the truck. It was about 3:00 by this time.

We drove back out of town for an hour, back to the turnoff into the bush and down the winding cut path in the forest to the stalled truck. Jeremy began to charge the batteries and cut another fallen tree while waiting. I took some pictures of the sun setting- it was so pretty but it was getting dark fast.

The truck charged but because the problem was the battery holding a charge like Jeremy had thought, he kept his lights off while I led him out of the bush in my car. It was very dark at about 8:00 when we got back home. What an adventure. I am realizing that a lot of my posts are about us going into the bush for some reason or another! I guess that’s where our adventures lie. Jeremy is out training to become a Canadian Ranger right now though, so we will be much more knowledgable about safety and survival situations in the future. Very cool.

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Tribe of One

So I haven’t been online in quite a few days, but life’s been pretty busy in good old Hay River. Jeremy and I moved over the weekend from the company housing that we had for our first few months here, to a house that we found to rent. For the first time ever I have a nice, open dining room/kitchen for entertaining and I’m pretty excited about it! Since we’ve been married, Jer and I have lived in a condo and then an apartment, but we’ve started accumulating things so we were getting more and more cramped. Having our first house is very exciting, I don’t know what to do with all of this new room!

The one thing I want to write about today, is this amazing show we went to 2 weekends ago. We went to Chief Sunrise School on the reserve to watch a show by Tribe of One featuring Canadian recording artist Rik Leaf, and it was so amazing.

We arrived and sat down, and had about an hour to talk to people around us. We were in the gymnasium and it was set up really nicely; tables with tablecloths and centrepieces. The food came and there was a lot of it; local fish, beef and vegetables. We ate and laughed and conversed and waited for Rik to come out.

When the show was about to begin, Rik came out along with his wife (who played every instrument imaginable), along with an interpretive dancer and an artist. Rik played his songs which were clearly Canadian-inspired pieces. His wife switched from instrument to instrument (guitar, cello, hand drum, ucalalie, didgeridoo among countless others) to accompany him. The artist listened to the music and painted while they played and the interpretive dancer came in with beautiful costumes and danced while the music filled the room.

Jeremy and I had the opportunity to sit down with Rik after the performance and got to talk to him about the show and their tour. Jeremy commented that it was clear that they were not playing for themselves, but they were playing for the audience. They were storytellers and shared their intimate moments through their songs, and it was true. He is very passionate about what he does and he said he really enjoys getting to know small communities like Hay River. I guess he had been here once before (last year?) and he went to the grocery store when he first arrived for this year’s tour, a local recognized him from the year before and had a conversation with him- asked how the tour was going and such.

I hope that they decide to come back again, because they put on an excellent show. Below I will post some of the pictures I took through the night. I took pictures of the finished piece of art that the artist did that night, but I took pictures of pieces that she had previously done at other shows as well. If you get the chance, you should check out Rik’s myspace page: or their website at: and if you ever hear they care coming through your town, I highly suggest you go. They are true performers.

Rik Leaf and I after the show!

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