Brave New Year Experiences Personal Projects

Golf: Fine, I see the appeal. Are you happy now?

I went golfing yesterday.

Not mini-put or anything like that but legit hey-that’s-a-nice-collared-shirt-you’ve-got-there-here-are-your-clubs-and-the-keys-to-your-cart-don’t-run-anyone-over kind of golf. I even drove the cart for a bit and it’s every bit as fun as movies and TV make it look.

But that’s not the point. The point is that I went golfing for the first time and I actually quite enjoyed it.

Okay, so it was actually the second time I’ve golfed but the first time hardly counts. I was twelve and golfing in someone else’s family reunion tournament. When it was over I won a trophy for “most improved player”, which was a little baffling because I most certainly did not improve over the course of that game (I seem to recall dissolving into frustrated tears at the last hole because I couldn’t sink that ball to save my life). Later I found out the trophy had previously been the “worst golfer award” and was only changed because the same person kept winning it year after year and was pissed off about it. That made significantly more sense to me.

Again: I was twelve.

It’s not like golf was a game I’ve always been desperate to try. I do, however like trying new things.

Some background: Kyle and I are headed to BC for a couple of weeks next month. Along with visiting his family (he’s a long way from home, after all) we’re also going to be playing in a memorial golf tournament that he and his cousin have organized.

Golf may just be a game but I really don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of his family (I mean, I’m sure I will but I’d rather golf not be the reason). So, when my brother, Shane, expressed interest in giving the game a try and Kyle enthusiastically promised to teach him (I thankfully wasn’t alone in my beginner-ness) we decided to book a tee time. After all: practice makes perfect.

Or, y’know, at least it makes one decent enough to get through a whole course with a somewhat acceptable score.


Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, golf, Oak Hills Golf Course, Stirling, Ontario
For those “in the know” we golfed the “Highlands” course.

Along with learning how to golf, I learned a few other things about the game yesterday:

  1. It’s much harder than it looks. I mean, people get paid good money to play this game so I guess it isn’t supposed to be that easy. Right?
  2. Your form matters so much. No wonder it takes golfers so long to set up their swing. Shot? I don’t know, people. I’m new here.
  3. You only yell “FORE!” when you’re at risk of hitting someone. Apparently. Huh.
  4. I may be right-handed but I swing left. What the?
  5. I need a LOT more practice before we head to BC.

Everything said, I really did have a great time. On the drive home I felt like I was in a bit of a daze all because I had tried something so different and, didn’t do too badly at it in the end after all (or at least that’s what Kyle said, but who knows – he might be biased).

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, golf, Oak Hills Golf Course, Stirling, Ontario, Kyle Harms

This weekend we’re all going to hit a driving range to work on those swings. Who knows – maybe this will become a new hobby! If not, at least I can add a new skill to my resume.

Personal Reflections

Airing out the empty nest

Do people who’ve never had children get empty nest syndrome? Yes? No? Maybe?

I started mourning my weekend around 7 pm last night and I’ve been in a melancholy funk ever since.

“It probably sounds stupid but I always feel so weird after big weekends like this one,” I complained to Kyle last night. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t even want to do nothing, I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to try.

“Are you feeling sad because everyone is gone?” he hit the nail on the head.

It was a family-filled weekend, with one brother coming down from Ottawa with his boyfriend to crash in our living room and the other back from his most recent work set in Alberta. It’s so incredibly rare for all three of us Hamil children to be in one place (although, oddly, we definitely see each other more now than we did when the two of them lived closer. What gives?)

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, family, brothers, pool party

On Saturday we had the whole clan over, the guys and I thrashing around in the pool all afternoon like a bunch of unruly kids. Our parents joined us for a barbecue that evening and, even though it rained and we wound up eating our burgers in the living room (why do we even have a kitchen table? It’s basically a glorified mail table), we still enjoyed the food and company. The evening eventually dissolved into round after intense round of Extreme Jenga. Note to anyone who may end up play Jenga against, well, any of us – we don’t mess around and apparently won’t hesitate to throw you under the bus. Apologies in advance.

To cap off the weekend, we all met in Campbellford yesterday for lunch. We discovered that The Stinking Rose Pub has a genuinely awesome local craft beer selection but their food menu is a bit sparse for what we were looking for. Of course, we didn’t want the bartender to know that we had screwed up so we totally played it cool by sampling and ordering pre-lunch pints (mushroom beer: It’s WEIRD. Like, I can’t even tell you whether or not I recommend it, it’s that weird) before slipping next door to Capers. Our food there was delish, our waiter was hilarious, and the weather granted us one perfect afternoon for sitting and laughing on the patio.

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, Ontario craft beer, Lake of Bays Brewing Co, pint glass, tiny turtle, The Stinking Rose, Campbellford

I know: none of this probably sounds all that exciting. But I love it. I love spending time with my family and I love when we can all be in one place. My brothers and I were really close growing up and, while I don’t always notice it, their absence leaves a particularly distinct hole in the fabric of my life.

But I guess this is just what adulthood looks like, though; families grow up and move apart. Kids become grown-ups and build their own lives and, while they all love each other, they see less of each other because that’s just how life gets. I guess I’m just glad that I can appreciate those rare times that the family is all together, jumbled around a coffee table as we may be. I’m grateful for every visit, every toppled Jenga tower, and every meal.

Photo Fridays Projects

Photo Friday: My heart is full

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, boyfriend, dog, family, love
My boys, keeping an eye on the neighbourhood.

It’s been a “nothing to report” kind of week. Probably the most noteworthy thing to have happened was the car needing to go in for yet another repair. Thankfully this one didn’t cost $800.

Kyle and I almost took a last-minute, completely unplanned trip somewhere overseas but the Universe told us to cool our jets and so we are. I did take my mom to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 on Wednesday though, and that was pretty great (my family supports my animation addiction).

It’s nice to know that, even when things are quiet or not going as (un)planned, I’ve got a pretty good deal. I need only look at my family and smile. Everything is awesome.

Love it Personal

A fabulous food weekend in Quinte

I have recently emerged from a delightfully food-filled weekend. The rest, relaxation, and time spend with friends was wonderful. I was even rooting for Germany to win the World Cup so there was that too. But if you ask me what I remember most fondly about this past weekend it would have to be, without a doubt, the food.

And the drink.

A little bit of both, really.

While it may not necessarily be the first place people think of for good eats (drinks definitely – the Prince Edward County wine region is heaven, especially when you live within driving distance) but those people would be surprised. This weekend actually wound up being a collision of experiences, some you can experience whenever you want and others that you’ve got to wait patiently for. I just feel very lucky (and full) that it all happened at the same time.

The Routine: Belleville’s Farmer’s Market

As a general rule, Kyle and I sleep in on Saturdays before leashing up the dog and wandering down to Market Square in downtown Belleville to peruse the Farmer’s Market. We love this routine but, because of a busy series of weekends, we haven’t been able to indulge in it for over a month so we were eager to get back. Since we were there last, the summer-loving vendors have come out en mass (the market runs Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays pretty much all year but only a few brave souls set up shop during the winter months). It was a beautiful Saturday to wander the stalls – fruit, vegetables, preserves, ready-to-eat treats and handmade goods everywhere. We remembered to take a bag and wound up doing most of our grocery shopping while we were there (fresher and cheaper than at the store no less!)


The Special Event: Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival (30th Anniversary Edition)

There is a small part of me that waits all year for Waterfront. Among plenty of vendors, live music, and activities probably the main attraction at this community festival is the ethnic food village. This year there were eight countries represented: Italy, Barbados, Tibet, China, India, Mexico, Poland, and Portugal (these booths fluctuate each year; I remember Korea and Greece representing at previous years). Each booth sells a sampling of dishes unique to their own country and, let me tell you, it’s all delish. We went both Friday and Saturday night and tried pierogis and schnitzel from Poland, momos from Tibet, and the coveted Portuguese chicken (easily the festival’s fan favourite – be ready to commit anywhere from 20 minutes to almost an hour for it but believe me when I say that it is SO worth it!)

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, Belleville Waterfront Festival, Portugal, Portuguese chicken, piri piri chicken, ethnic food, noms, food porn, delish
I wish I knew where I could get this stuff the rest of the year! It’s SO good!

Also available for sampling although not nearly as culturally significant (or remotely good for you) was the “bloomin’ onion” (an onion sliced like a pizza and then deep fried where it “blooms” – basically onion rings but DIFFERENT, DAMMIT), deep fried Mars bar, and freshly made mini-donuts from the Midway. Yes, we had it all.

Live without regrets, my friends.


The Wise Choice: Three Dog Winery

Back in the spring, Kyle and I went down the Picton for their annual Terroir Wine Festival. We sampled wine from many of the County’s wineries and gourmet foods from local shops and farms. There were a lot of winners that day (mostly us) but we were particularly smitten with a new winery called Three Dog Winery. We’ve been meaning to go out and visit their location in Demorestville ever since and on Sunday, despite the crappy weather, we did it.

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, Three Dog Winery, Prince Edward County, PEC, wine, vinyards, golden retrievers, Ontario
Three Dog Winery is such a cute place!

Three Dog, named for the owners’ three golden retrievers, is a small winery with a lot of character and a truly interesting history. There’s one small building on the property where the wine is both made and sampled/sold/consumed shamelessly. They also apparently have yoga in the vineyard on Sundays (SO GOING), lots of hiking trails (you can bring your dog!), and barbecue lunches with live music on weekends. We were especially excited to be able to grab some Seed to Sausage products (also discovered at the Terroir Festival) to go with the couple of bottles we came home with (Dog House White and their new Gamay to be precise).


It’s Tuesday now and I’m still kind of feeling full but if I had the choice, I’d do it all again. Good food and drink consumed in good company, is always a good choice ;)

What are some of your favourite foodie experiences? Do you know of any places here in the Quinte area that are worth checking out? Tell me about it in the comments!

Photo Fridays Projects

Photo Friday: Think outside

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, Kyle Harms, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Mazinow Lake, Mazinaw Rock, camping
Kyle took this shot of me in Mazinaw Lake at Bon Echo. I miss it already.

For the past two weekends Kyle and I have gone camping. Last weekend we were in Bon Echo Provincial Park, a place I’ve wanted to visit basically since I moved to Ontario as a kid. It did not disappoint; what a beautiful place! The weekend before we went to the much smaller but still awesome Ferris Provincial Park on our very first camping trip as a couple.

It’ll be nice to have a weekend at home but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t weird that we didn’t spend last night packing our gear. It’s weird to know we won’t be loading the car and taking off as soon as I’m done work. The fire smoke has been washed out of our clothes and the gear is all tucked away. If not for the photos (and bug bites and tan lines) I might almost think it was all a dream.

I love being outside. I love sitting around a camp fire and, yes, even sleeping in a tent. I enjoy the fresh air and the hiking and canoeing. Summer truly is meant to be spent outdoors.

Experiences Personal

12/30: A full year of adult brace facedness

Fun fact: Last Friday marked a full year since I became a full-fledged adult brace face.

It’s actually a little hard to believe that it’s been a year already. Yes, all of those people who have assured me that the time would flyyyy by weren’t kidding

But at the same time it’s also hard to believe that it’s only been a year. I know, those two ideas are conflicting but it’s the truth. In some ways it feels like the time raced by and in others it only feel like a small victory. One year down, one and a half to go…

But anyway, there’s no reason to be gloomy about it. A year is nothing to snark at. Here are a few things I’ve noticed at the one-year mark:

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, adult braces, speed braces, teeth, orthodontics, one year
Getting there!
  • I’ve definitely gotten more adventurous with what foods I’ll eat and how. People said it would happen and they were right. If I’m at the movies I WILL have popcorn and I even ate a s’more (or two…) while camping this past weekend. I’m even starting to bite into things if they’re soft enough. I won’t do anything stupid like bite into hard foods or chew gum but, c’mon, a girl’s gotta live a little!
  • I disagree with the people that say that you “get used to braces”. You learn to live around them which, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t the same thing.
  • There has been SO much movement. There are still gaps and crowding that aren’t noticeable to anyone but me but as far as anyone else can tell, my teeth are straight. Sometimes I run my teeth along my bite and can’t believe that they’re mine (although, really, who else’s would they be?)
  • Mouth mechanics are complicated. It took a lot of work but I finally got the squaring of my bottom teeth to stop I’m willing to bet that I never go back to smiling normally after the braces come off and I’m really not sure how to feel about that.
  • I’m still self-conscious about them. I still get mistaken for being younger than I am (I’ve always been pegged for being younger but with the braces the guesses are coming in MUCH lower). I feel like I’m not taken seriously and it kind of bothers me, but at least it’s temporary.
  • Flossing still sucks.

All things considered, I’m excited about my progress. Yes, I have a long way to go still but now that I’m a year in at least I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Photo Fridays Projects

Photo Friday: Snot fair

You know what sucks?

Summer colds.

Sure, there are significantly worse things to suffer from in life, but when it comes to general levels of discomfort, being sick when the weather is nice is pretty brutal.

This thing descended last Friday – a full week ago – and I’m still sneezing and congested and gross. Last weekend was the worst of it but I wasn’t going to let it stop me from getting out and enjoying some quality time with my father and brothers, all of whom were in town for the weekend.

This is pretty much the only picture I’ve taken all week, but I like it:

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, family, selfie
Family selfie!

Being sick has pretty much distracted me from most things, although I did manage to squeeze out a post yesterday that I’m pretty proud of about inventing your own means of making your dreams come true.

My other big distraction has been continued work on The Let’s Go Ladies. Candice and I are working hard; we revamped the look of the blog again and have been promoting it like a couple of champs. Be a love and check it out my latest post?

Development Personal Professional Reflections

No way to get there? Create your own path

For my birthday, Kyle got me a copy of “Creativity, Inc.” Written by Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, the book is ultimately about the role of creativity in business; how to foster it and how, by doing so, you will make way for great work and be better able to navigate unforeseen challenges. To do this, Catmull needed to tell the story of how he learned and implemented these lessons himself, which means that the book also covers the history of Pixar itself. As an animation junkie and creative professional, everything about this is fascinating. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve caught myself exclaiming things like, “No way!” and “What??” out loud while reading.

I’m only a few chapters in so far but I’ve already picked up on an interesting trend. As pioneers in computer animation, Catmull and his peers shared an impressive dream at a time when the technology hadn’t caught up with their ambition. He notes a number of instances when he or his colleagues literally had to invent a process or technology just to get them closer to creating a world where computer animated feature films would be possible.

Think about that: They wanted to do something but there was no existing way to do it, so they created one. And not just once, but again and again. Many of those processes and advances are even still in use today.

Catmull & co’s gumption is very much like the innovative pioneering that was done by his childhood hero, Walt Disney. Many people don’t realize that Walt and his teams at Disney Studios weren’t just creative and talented animators - these minds were also responsible for the invention and designed many concepts and technologies needed to create their two dimensional animated films in the first place (such as the Multi-Plane Camera used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.)

I was thinking about this idea while I was getting ready for work this morning. It’s so easy to give up on a dream just because the means of achieving it don’t exist. But if you really want something, what’s stopping you from finding your own way?

If there’s no path to where you want to go, make your own.


Photo: kylejharms
Photo Fridays Projects

Photo Friday: Tent-tacular

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, Coleman, Evanston 8-person screened tent, camping

Most of Kyle and I’s time over the last week and a bit has been consumed by stocking up on camping supplies. Yesterday, after much research and indecision, we picked up our fancy new Coleman 8-person Evaston tent. Personally, I’m giddy over it. We set it up last night just to see it in all its glory and, let me tell you, it’s a BEAST. Review coming soon.

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, sweetheart darling baby love of my life

I woke up sick this morning. Sore throat, stuffy nose, the standard. When I got out of the shower there was a mug of peppermint tea and this message waiting for me. I think I’ll keep him <3

Sara Hamil, They Call it Gumption, Jurassic Park, toys, nostalgia, Velociraptors are serious business

And finally: Candice and I were perusing a street sale last weekend when I spotted this clever girl. I must have made quite a scene, going on about my brothers and I had the exact same toy when we were kids and whatnot, because the woman running the sale told me I could have it. She probably just wanted to get the crazy lady off her lawn but you won’t hear me complaining.


Inspiring bloggers and inspired blogging

I feel like a good amount of my brain space lately has been consumed by blogging.

It all started last weekend when I finally got to meet the fun and inspiring Cait from Blonde on a Budget. She was in Toronto for work and I was in the city visiting friends and picking up Kyle, so we grabbed dinner. If I’m going to be honest with you, I went into it one part panicked (I was meeting someone I really look up to and really wanted her to like me!) and one part fangirly (which I did my best to suppress because I didn’t want to freak her out). But in the end it didn’t matter because Cait’s as cool and down-to-earth as you might expect from getting to know her online. We talked like old friends for a couple of hours, mostly about life but we did get to blogging for a bit too.

I love meeting people in real life that I’ve previously only known online, especially when it’s someone you have been connecting with for a while. Whether it’s through a blog, Twitter, or anything else, there’s something really cool about bringing those connections into the “real” world. So many people get down on social media and argue that the internet is only pulling people apart. Experiences like this one help to remind me how far from true that argument is.

They Call it Gumption, Sara Hamil, Canva, Blogging, love, social media, design, type

Also while I was in the city, Candice and I finally got to sit down and talk about The Let’s Go Ladies. In the last few months we had both really fallen out of step with the blog and our plans for it. We wanted to keep on with the project but we were both having a difficult time focusing.

After a few strategic creative meetings, we were finally able to breathe new life into our plans. Now, more than just your standard “where we want to go and where we’ve been” travel blog, The Let’s Go Ladies has evolved into a blog dedicated to documenting the ways and reasons we get out and go – how we use experiences like travel and attending events to live our lives to the fullest. We’ve adjusted the sails and, I have to say, I’m really excited about the new direction we’re taking.

Along with the new structure (which includes opportunities for guest bloggers!) comes a fresh new look. You can see what we’ve done with the place and read our announcement here!

Blogging: It’s where my heart is.