You might remember a few months ago, I was having fun with a fish-eye lens I had picked up second-hand from a local photography forum. From the day I got it, it was a little sticky in its focusing ring, but within a few weeks the focusing ring was getting so jammed that I couldn’t get it unstuck.

I brought it in to a local camera repair shop, but they couldn’t guarantee they could fix it, nor could they guarantee they’d be able to get it back together again in working order once they pulled it apart because they didn’t know what the problem was. They quoted me $300 on a “maybe” and I shrugged and said, “Forget it. It works well enough most of the time and I can work the focusing ring loose when it gets jammed.” He cautioned me that the torque I was using to twist the focusing ring could damage my camera where the lens mounts over time, and I walked away thinking I’d basically peed the money I’d spent on the lens down the drain.

It’s a Sigma fish-eye, so my last-ditch attempt was to call Sigma and see what they had to say. They would look at it for $25, and apply that fee to whatever the repair cost was. For $25 plus the cost to ship the lens off to Mississauga, I figured what the hell. I told them it was a second-hand lens and I didn’t know the nature of the damage, and hoped for the best.

The best, as it turns out, was way better than I could have hoped for. Within two weeks, the lens was shipped back to me in working order — and completely free of charge. Even though I did not have any paperwork and was not the original owner of the lens and had no idea of the nature of the damage, they covered the repair under warranty AND waived the $25 fee AND shipped it back to me free of charge.

How’s THAT for amazing customer service? Yay Sigma!

To celebrate, I took my new/old lens for a walk on a sunny summer afternoon.

Rideau Canal in summer fisheye

That’s the best thing about a new toy – revisiting old favourite places and giving them a new twist. :) Thanks Sigma, for the awesome customer service. I am highly impressed.


{ 0 comments }

Yay! I’ve been biding my time through a long cold winter, but it’s FINALLY time to kick it into high gear in planning for PEI in summer 2015! Next week we can say we’re going next month. And if you think I’m excited, you should hear Lucas – he asks at least once a day how much longer until we go.

I honestly can’t tell you what we’re more excited about: revisiting favourite places from last year, or discovering new ones. For today’s post, here’s five places we loved so much that we know we’ll be going back again.

1. PEI National Park at Greenwich

Adventures in PEI

We loved this part of the Island so much that we chose a cottage in the vicinity for this summer. Pastoral dunes, marram grass, calm waters, red rocks… I swear, I feel calmer just thinking about it. During our 2014 visit, we only had time to hang out on the beach for a couple of hours. This year, we’re planning on exploring the interpretive centre, the dunes and the boardwalk. And I found this awesome list of fun activities at the Greenwich, Cavendish and Brackley parts of the park. Sandcastles, beach detecting and a discovery dome? Yes! And there’s even geocaching. We’re pretty excited about the time we’ll be spending in PEI National Park!

2. Souris and Chef Michael Smith’s Flavour Shack

At the Flavour Shack

Although Souris is a little bit off the beaten path, it was one of the main areas we considered when renting a cottage this year. It’s a delightful little town with everything you could want, including one of only two Tim Hortons on the eastern half of PEI. Of course we’re looking forward to returning to Chef Michael Smith’s Flavour Shack. After a year of inviting Chef Michael into our home two or more hours a week as we PVR and watch archival episodes of Chef at Home, I feel like we know him personally! And here’s a not-so-secret: there’s great beachcombing and seaglass hunting right behind the boardwalk where the Flavour Shack is perched! If you like sea glass, be sure to check out the Souris Lighthouse – they have a big exhibit of sea glass and lots for sale in their gift shop.

3. Basin Head Provincial Park

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Our cottage is about a five minute walk from miles of white sand beaches, but we’ll still make the drive out to the far northeastern tip of the Island to revisit Basin Head beach and its famous singing sands – probably more than once! Last year the water was cold but lively with waves, and our visit to Souris and Basin Head was my favourite day on PEI. I might even let the boys jump off the famous bridge and let the river current carry them out to the salt water of the open sea — maybe just once! There’s a fisheries museum there too that we missed last year. That will be definitely worth checking out!

4. Green Gables House

Cavendish, PEI

We’re still working our way through the Anne of Green Gables books. We’ve made our way to Anne of Ingleside so far, which we’ll probably finish in time for our trip. I would have thought that one visit to Green Gables would have sufficed to satisfy the boys’ curiousity, but to my delight all three said they would like to go back this year. It’s a lovely, low key way to spend a few hours.

5. Cows Ice Cream

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Okay, the photo above wasn’t actually Cows ice cream – we weren’t exclusive in our ice cream choices on the Island. 😉 But the Cows was the best, and the boys (and their ringleader Beloved) have been talking about Cows ice cream and going on the factory tour we didn’t take last year all winter long. We may also find it in our hearts to sample ice cream from a few competitors while we’re there. You know, just to make sure that Cows is in fact the best on the Island. And we’ll quaff a bottle or two of Anne’s Raspberry Cordial while we’re at it.

Other places we’re looking forward to revisiting: Peter Llewellyn’s Shoreline Designs in Georgetown, the lighthouse at Panmure Island, Rick’s Fish and Chips, Boom Burger in Charlottetown… so many great memories, and so many new ones waiting to be made!

Points East Logo 1Most of the places mentioned above are on the Points East Coastal Drive, our favourite region of PEI. If you’re looking for ideas, inspiration or accommodations for your PEI vacation, check them out!

In my next post, I’ll talk about some new places and events we’re looking forward to discovering for PEI 2015!

Disclosure: Points East Coastal Drive is one of our bloggy sponsors. However, if you’ve been around at all this year, you know my love of PEI and my excitement to share it with you are 100% genuine!


{ 5 comments }

You might have seen an earlier version of this photo if you follow me on Instagram. I’ve been meaning to bring my camera downtown for a while, but sort of missed the tulip festival this year. The lilacs are just a wee bit past their prime, but I do love how they frame the back of the Library of Parliament from this perspective. As soon as I saw the lilacs, I poked around until I found a composition that would let them frame the gorgeous Library building, and conveniently block out some of the cranes and other construction equipment around the Parliament Buildings.

Library in the lilacs

I took the photo above with an 85mm lens, which is a little on the telephoto side, meaning it magnifies the image a bit and has a narrower field of view. Telephoto lenses also have the effect of compressing elements in the frame, so it looks like the lilacs are fairly close to the Parliament Buildings where in fact, they are on opposite banks of the canal and probably half a kilometer or so apart.

The photo below was taken from the same spot (crouched, as it happens, with my lens pressed between the bars of a black wrought iron fence to get the best perspective) but with a wide-angle 24 mm lens. The shorter focal length (24 mm vs 85 mm) means a wider field of view but things seem smaller and further away, and elements in the composition also seem further away from each other.

Library in the lilacs - wide

You can see much more of the environment, but to me the Library almost gets lost in this composition. I like that you can see more of the sky and the water, but you can also see that unfortunate dead tree to camera right and some of the ugly scaffolding on the Parliament Buildings. I could, of course, remove some of those in Photoshop, but I’m not invested enough in this particular image to take the time to do it.

Which one do you like better? And do you like these types of posts? Are they interesting/helpful to you? Because I could talk about this stuff all day long!


{ 2 comments }

She can’t seriously still be milking those crab apple blossom photos she took last week?

Oh yes she can!

crazy crab apple bokeh

Don’t worry, I’m about done with the crab apple blossoms. But the irises are almost open and I just planted snapdragons and LUPINES!!!!


{ 5 comments }

I have a bloggy confession to make. I have never actually seen any of the Despicable Me movies, although the kids have seen them all. And yet, of course I know all about the Minions, because you’d have to be living completely off the grid to miss the Minion memes. There are tumblers, dedicated Facebook pages, and of course, a Minion Meme generator.

Speaking of generating memes, here’s a fun way to bring a little old school fun to a 21st century meme: how about making your own minion? Have you ever noticed that the inner capsule of a KINDER® Surprise Egg is like a minion waiting to happen?

To celebrate the pending release of the Minions movie this July, you’ll soon be able to find a whole line of Minions toys in specially marked KINDER® Surprise Eggs. Fun, right? There are 11 Minion toys to collect, for a limited time only. And for you, my funny bloggy peeps, here’s a chance to win a $40 KINDER® Sur-prize pack, with a chance to find the ENTIRE Minions collection.

8535-KS-T1-minions_3D_stuart-791x1024

  1. This giveaway is for a KINDER® Surprise prize package.The approximate prize value is $40.
  2. To enter the giveaway, two steps are required. Please use the widget below and (a) visit the KINDER® Facebook page and (b) leave a comment on this blog post answering this simple question: bananas or apples?
  3. ONE winner will be chosen at random from all entrants.
  4. This giveaway is open only to residents of Canada, excluding residents of Quebec. (sorry!)
  5. This giveaway will run until 11:59 pm EDT on Tuesday May 26, 2015.
  6. The contest winner will be required to provide a full name and complete mailing address to be shared with KINDER® for shipping purposes.
  7. While you may enter as many of the KINDER® contests as you like, you can only win once.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Kinder Minions


DISCLOSURE: I’m a #KinderMom/Maman/Dad who is part of the KINDER® Canada influencer team. As part of my affiliation with KINDER® Canada, I am provided with special perks and products. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


{ 15 comments }

I have always liked this quote, and when I heard that it was coined by Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, I liked it even more. It seems to fit the dandelion well: the fragility, but the ubiquity. (And, truth be told, I feared maybe you were getting sick of dandelions, so I thought I’d kick it up a notch.)

The days are long, but the years are short.

The Happiness Project has been on my “to read” list forever. I love the concept – you make your own happy, something I truly believe. Have you read it? What did you think?

And don’t you find with every passing year that those years seem shorter and shorter?


{ 0 comments }

Photo of the day: Crab apple blossom pistils

22 May 2015 Photo of the Day

Can you tell I had fun with the crab apple tree in the front yard? I’m sad that I never got to take advantage of it as a backdrop for portraits, but delighted that I got to take advantage of it as a subject for portraits! Now I’m knowledgeable about apple blossom parts – those […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Photo of (a few days ago): Crab apple blossoms

21 May 2015 Photo of the Day

I took this photo on the weekend, and didn’t get a chance to upload it before my computer turned into the dreaded blue screen of death. It blue-screened on me once and restarted fine, but the next day it crashed utterly and completely and I couldn’t even re-boot it in recovery mode. It took a […]

2 comments Read the full article →

Is fruit juice bad for kids?

19 May 2015 Eating and thinking and thinking about eating

This is timely. I was just thinking about writing a blog post about kids and their drink choices when I came across this article in the Ottawa Citizen about how fruit juice may be dropped from Canada’s food guide as a healthy choice. The article illustrates two sides of the argument: on one hand, fruit […]

6 comments Read the full article →

A delightful night out with the NAC Orchestra

17 May 2015 Life in Ottawa

When I was offered a pair of tickets to see the NAC Orchestra for their Casual Fridays series, I knew exactly whom I wanted to take. My Dad was a drummer back in the day, and taught me almost everything I know about music. He’s also forgiven me for somehow genetically bypassing every shred of […]

2 comments Read the full article →