Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Happy Good Friday, everyone! Hope you have a great start to your Easter weekend and that the Easter Bunny is kind to you! :)

Holidays are always hard for us because it really makes us feel far away from home. Thankfully, we are surrounded by good friends here and our weekend is shaping up to be quite full. This will keep our minds from getting too homesick, and ensures that we won't be sitting around feeling lonely by ourselves! Win-win, in my opinion!

We are invited for brunch tomorrow and a potluck on Sunday, plus there was talk about heading to the community center on Saturday night for a square dance! That is something that we've been wanting to do since we arrived, and I'm excited at the thought of going this weekend! Originally, I had briefly considered working this weekend since the office will be quiet and I'd get a chance to catch up on things, but I've been fighting a cold since we got back from our vacation and I decided that 4 days of relaxing is what I'm going to do instead.

Relaxing doesn't mean I'm going to be bored though! It's Easter - so that means it's going to be a baking weekend! I'm bringing some baked goodies on Saturday and Sunday, plus I promised Jeff that I would bake more bread for us since he prefers that over the store bought kind (I've spoiled him, I know)! Baking weekends always make me happy - the house smells so homey...what's not to like? :)

That's pretty much it for our plans - what are you up to for Easter? Are you going to have a big family dinner? Are you laying low and curling up on the couch to watch a marathon of movies? Whatever it is you decide to do, I hope it's a lovely few days and you enjoy it!

For no reason other than he's adorable, here's a random picture of Pepper all dressed up and ready to go on a walk with us. He's miserable when he has to wear multiple layers of clothes and his booties, but he's thankful once we start going!

Happy Easter, everybody!

Lily, Jeff & Pepper

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Exciting Tuesday?

Yesterday was exciting, and by that I mean, even by Southern standards. When you live in a place like Baker Lake, barking dogs can really enliven your day, but yesterday was special for a few reasons.

First, it snowed. Light, feathery snow that picks up at the slightest breeze. Contrary to popular belief, while the hillsides are blanketed with snow, it rarely snows between November through March because it's too cold. We can look at this two ways - snow means the weather is becoming warmer, which means summer is that much closer. Snow also means the next time we have strong winds, we will have a hardcore blizzard on our hands, like the ones where you have two feet of visibility, if the veterans of Baker are to be believed. All of the 'baby' blizzards we've had so far this year have been winds north of 80 km/h, but without falling snow, visibility is only limited to ten feet or so.

We also had a parade through town to celebrate the high school girls basketball team for winning silver in a big tournament. That was preceded by four 'feast' days (think community pot-luck), which we've been meaning to attend but haven't worked up the courage to try raw caribou yet. Like the New Years Eve parade, this one had the fire truck in the lead, siren blaring, followed by RCMP trucks, and the rest of the 'floats' were disguised as a wide variety of trucks, some of which had members of the community sitting in the back. One of them even had the Baker Lake Blizzard mascot - a blue bear that was dancing on the back of one of the lead trucks. Unlike parades in Ontario, where you have to go somewhere to see them, the ones in Baker Lake thoughtfully wind through every side street, so you can watch them from the comfort of your own home, provided you aren't in your truck being part of it. It's funny - I heard the siren and thought, 'that sounds like Toronto', and it made me miss home.

Also, I put up blackout curtains in our bedroom (finally!). We bought them locally because stores in the south don't offer free shipping, so the cost actually worked out to be slightly better here. Shocking, I know. With limited choice, Lily picked out a pair of red silk ones that match the cherry blossoms on our bedspread perfectly. More importantly, they now give our bedroom that boudoir feel. Unfortunately, our living room furniture is red, so we have to use a more neutral colour for the downstairs. We couldn't find four matching panels at the Northern, but the manager said he would check other stores in Nunavut for us. It apparently can take anywhere from "a few days" to "a few weeks...or months." Hopefully not the latter or else we're going to miss the daylight season altogether!

Lastly, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Iglu Inn, one of the few restaurants in Baker. I had a bacon burger and Lily tried the roast beef sandwich, both of which proved to be delicious, and not as wallet-draining as you would normally expect for up here. It was surprisingly busy, in the sense that there were about a half-dozen tables keeping the kitchen busy. Lily likened it to Baker's hot spot to pick up single men, since that looked like the majority of the patrons. If there are any single ladies looking for love in Baker, dinner out at the Iglu on a Tuesday night might be your hot ticket.

Thus concludes our overly unusual day - check back for more (but possibly less exciting) news in a few days.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Recap

I feel like it's been so long since I've written a post! We hope you all enjoyed Jeff's recap of our trip home; it is strange to say we've been back for a few weeks now since it almost feels like we never left, it went by so quickly. On the bright side, it didn't take long to get back into the groove of things and we all settled back into our routine without too many issues (Pepper has re-learned all his good habits which we let slide while we were on vacation, so that's a good thing for all of us).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring has Sprung!

Yesterday marked the second day of spring, and we had a beautiful day to begin a new season. It was also much warmer than weather of late - a very temperate -18°C. I know that seems pretty chilly compared to the weather some of you are enjoying, but believe me, this was a welcome change. For Lily, it was the first day in months where she didn't have to wear multiple layers; for me, it meant two things: no snow pants, and walking Pepper. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Homestretch

The final portion of our vacation occurred mainly in our hometown, where we have our house and where Lily's family lives. We managed to surprise both of her parents, although her sister had been in the know for a while. When we arrived at the house, Lily ran upstairs, opened her parents' door and asked, "What's for breakfast?". Her mother was completely shocked, and when that wore off, extremely happy to see her eldest daughter home. Her father was at work, so Lily's mother asked him to buy food on his way home, but it was all food that Lily likes, which made him suspicious. He was still very happy to see his suspicions confirmed. We had a great family reunion that day, albeit a teary one.

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

Today's regular post will follow this one and in it, Jeff concludes our amazing vacation home. There are lots of pictures and it's an entertainingly long one, so be sure to read it! :)

This is a bonus post because today is a very special day, because it's Jeff's birthday!!! Please join me in wishing him a very happy birthday today! Hooray!!


I know we're far away from home but I hope today is a fraction of how wonderful you make every day of my life. Pepper and I are very lucky to have you and we're going to try our hardest to make today special for you. Pepper even started by correctly using his 'potty' this morning!! Now there's a great gift! ;)

We love you and can't wait to see what amazing things you'll do this year.

Yours Always,
Lily & Pepper

Monday, March 18, 2013

Village People

If you're just joining us, we continue the recap of our vacation with our trip to Florida to visit with my family.

After our relaxing cruise, we met up with my cousins at Orlando airport, and headed to the Villages, just outside of Ocala. For those you unfamiliar with the Villages, it is the world's largest retirement community, home to about 50,000 residents 55 and up. It is large enough to warrant its own weather pattern, and it arguably houses the largest number of golf carts on this continent. If you like to golf, it is a veritable mecca, with 18 professional level courses and dozens of par-3 courses scattered throughout. It is a place where our family like to congregate whenever possible, given that a few of our number qualify as residents, many of us enjoy golfing, and weather in Florida is typically more temperate than Ontario (or Nunavut!) in the winter. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Magic of Disney

For those of you just tuning into our programme, we are about to embark on a miniseries of posts about our recent trip south to visit our family and friends. (Most posts will be much longer than usual with photos, so we apologize in advance!)

We begin this chapter by flying to Toronto, and I will mention first that our puppy Pepper was decidedly unhappy during his third flight (the first two having occurred the previous day, since we had to overnight in Winnipeg), and competed with the airplane's decibel level during take-off and landing.  I thought he quieted down during the flight, but it might be that the noise of the engines simply drowned him out. 
Glaring at us from under the seat
We were in our hometown for just under a day, so we introduced our little guy to our friends currently renting our house, and then packed him up and took him over to my parents' house in Mississauga. Originally, the idea was to surprise our families about our trip home; this worked much better on Lily's side than mine. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

There's no place like home....

One of the great things about living so far up north is that you learn to cherish vacations a lot more. Believe me, we know that first-hand, as we just returned from two weeks with our families and friends. We intended it to be a surprise, so we couldn't announce it beforehand to anyone. We have so much to talk about, we've decided to split our vacation blog post into multiple parts - our anniversary trip, our time in Florida, our time in Ontario, and our unusually interesting flight home.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Post: Secret Agent Alert

An entertaining installment in our guest post series from my sister - who has a fond, fond obsession/appreciation for James Bond movies and the secret agent genre. This is what she submitted when I asked her to write a post about my moving to the north.


Author’s Note: As secure missives have a woeful history of being compromised, I’ve taken it upon myself to hide in plain sight. Names and relationships have been sufficiently altered; oceans of salt would do readers good.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Swap & Sell

There's an online group for Baker Lake that allows people to post things they are selling/looking to buy/giving away, and so on - and for the most part it's a really handy place to pick up/unload anything you can think of. The posts have ranged from baked goods to handmade items to cars and trucks...the list goes on and on.

I've noticed that it's not only for items, but really, it's a community forum to see what is going on in town. The airlines may post when they have a sale, or a flight is cancelled - or the church group will post when a flea market is happening in the rec center for a fundraiser, etc. It is the online hub for the community, and from what I understand, each community seems to have a similar outlet.

I like going on it to read the posts because I find some of them entertaining and admit that I spend at least a little bit of time every day reading through the posts. When someone says that something is "brand new...only worn a few times" or "laptop for sale, nothing wrong...may be missing a few buttons" - it makes me giggly. Where else can you sell small cups of Jello for $1 each, or a homemade pepperoni pizza for $25? It's definitely a lucrative business if you want it to be. The majority of the posts revolve around food that people are selling/looking for, and Jeff has mentioned on more than one occasion that I could make a profitable side-business by selling the things I cook/bake. I don't think I'm quite there yet, when I'm enjoying being a lurker too much.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Travel Reward Cards

Traveling isn't cheap on a regular basis, but traveling when you live in Nunavut is crazy expensive. There are a select few airlines who service the territory, and they charge an arm and a leg because they have the market trapped (literally). If you're not using discount codes, or flying on a seat sale, just getting out of Nunavut can cost you thousands of dollars - not to mention the cost of the flight elsewhere afterwards, say if you're going on to Toronto or anywhere other than Ottawa, Winnipeg or Yellowknife. We've often said that for the cost of one of us getting out of Nunavut, we could both fly across the world...and we're sadly not even exaggerating.

Since flights are so expensive, most everyone who has a credit card here uses a travel rewards card to earn points to get free flights home - and that's something I would highly recommend you switching to if you're considering living in the north and have the means to a credit card. The most popular one seems to be the CIBC Aerogold Visa. Unfortunately, CIBC will only send your card to a branch and you have to go and pick it up - hard to do when you live a flight or two away from the closest branch. I recently switched to an American Express Aeroplan card because they mail them directly to you wherever your home address is, and the application process is relatively painless. The only downside is that there are still some places that don't accept AMEX, although we've been able to use ours all around Baker Lake without a hitch.

Whatever you choose as your card, you should keep an eye out for bonus point promotions when you sign up. Most cards will offer to waive the first year of your annual fee, which ranges from $120 to $500 per year depending on what kind of card you get/what benefits you want (though that seems like a lot, think of how much you spend on a card and factor in whether or not a high annual fee that allows you to earn free flights faster works out to be a better savings in the end. If you're paying $500/year and getting a free $3,000 flight - there's no question that it's worth it.) It's a little bit of research now that could save you thousands of dollars later, so I highly recommend taking the time to choose a card that's best for your needs/spending habits. You'll be so thankful for it later!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Guest Post: Expectations vs. Reality

Next up in our guest poster series - a fellow Ontarian who moved to Baker Lake at the end of 2012 - a true "newbie's" perspective! 

Take it away, Jeremy...

Friday, March 1, 2013


This picture was taken one evening from the airport when the sky was particularly clear and the moon shone brightly over the entire hamlet. It captures the entire length of Baker Lake - aside from the dock just past the edge of the right side of the picture (the side of town we live on).

It amazes me that we used to think of our hometown in Ontario as small because it only has around 180,000 people. Now, living in a community that literally houses 1/100th of the population of where we came from, home seems like a sprawling metropolis!

Before we moved here, we were worried that it would feel small. Yes, the isolation is evident when you look towards the edges of town and see an endless view of untouched land (beautiful sight to behold), but when you're in the midst of things you honestly don't feel that different than being in a small town in Ontario. Your essentials are readily available, and everything you would need (note I didn't say want, because there are lots of luxuries that aren't here) is usually within walking distance/a few minutes' drive. You start to recognize the people in town, and be recognized - and you're generally met with a smile and a hello no matter where you go. It's a nice feeling to be as comfortable as we have become in the short months we've been here.

We've been asked by a number of people since we moved whether the isolation gets to us, and we can honestly say "no, not really." You notice it in the sense of being far away from conveniences, and especially when you think of your loved ones, but on a day-to-day basis, it really isn't bad. Once you've made friends and settle in, you almost don't notice a difference. I know, it sounds hard to believe - especially coming from us - but it's true! You can't feel alone when you're all living so close together. :) It's actually quite nice, and if you ever get a chance, you should experience it for yourself. We're sure glad we did!