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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Palm Desert Adventure Part 1: My First Hike!

I had to take a first hike selfie.
I am back in California once again; this is the third year in a row that I have ventured out of the snow and into the sun (it is my fifth trip to California in the last four years). I absolutely love every minute I spend in California, I dream of living here some day. This year’s trip has brought us to a new place on our California adventure map, Palm Desert. 
The little computer inside my Fitbit has been on fire this past week as we tour the area. We actually only arrived last Monday, but it has been nearly a week now. We leave on Thursday and I am already feeling the hunger pains to come back to California again. Next year we have promised ourselves we will finally get to LA, this trip has been all about desert life!

Now there will be a ton to talk about in the blog over the coming days about our stay at our new Cali-home in The Lakes Country Club, but today is all about this fit chick’s first hike!

Yes, today I went on my first hike. I have NEVER been much of an outdoorsy girl so it will come as a huge shock to many who know me that I did not hate hiking. To be clear, I am not in love with hiking. Far from it actually, I had a near meltdown in the 89-degree heat after hour number two today, but it eventually passed when we finally arrived at our halfway destination.

Let’s go back a few steps before we get into my near tear emotional moment. This trip has not exactly been what I expected it to be, I am a routine gal who works two jobs and hauls her ass to the gym at least 5 days a week. I am not great at taking time outs. I usually pump out more blogs while I am on vacation then when I am at home and I usually have a major side project to complete while I am off the clock. This year I have been approached and started a side project but have been off the blog train until now. 

To me, hiking is self-torture. It is walking to walk on land that is unwalkable (or not walkable with ease). Unless there is a truly unique view or purpose I am not down to clown around hiking. Hiking was not my thing before today; it is still not my thing. I did have fun tracking our walk with my new Fitbit Surge (I am very happy I bought it before this trip).

Today’s hike (my first hike ever) took us to Agua Caliente Indian Reserve where we actually did two hikes. The first was very easy (and enjoyable) it took us 30 minutes in the sun to trek around Andreas Canyon. I really did not mind this part of the hike, I even felt like I could get on-board with hiking while doing this walk. Then I saw a family with small children all wearing dresses managing battling the rocks with a stroller and figured out that things were way too easy to get let off the hook with a quick hike.

No, we could not hike where strollers could kind of roll; we needed more of a challenge and for the $9 a person charge to get into the Reserve Hiking Trails I think we all felt we had not gotten our monies worth with a 30 minute stroll. Both of the hikes were surrounded by beautiful desert scenery, but $9 a person is pretty crazy! We were in for a bit more of a challenge on the second part of our hike.

We then went off in search of the Seven Sisters Waterfall and Murray Canyon. After about an hour and two miles we reached the waterfall. Here is where the near meltdown occurred. I was under the impression that we were on a two-mile hike, only doing double what we had already done. I was not really tired; I was kind of just looking forward to being out of the scorching winter heat (yes, it is pretty hot here right now for Canadians) and getting some lunch. We started the day rather late at 10:40am and were now at the afternoon sun’s mercy. When I was informed that we were not at the end of our journey and that we had to go all the way back the way we came I was a little heartbroken. It all worked out though, we shaved over ten minutes off our return trip because we all were so hungry and hot.

I am kind of a baby when it comes to heat; I have had heat stroke far too many times to forget how horrible it feels to get too much sun. I usually get it once a year and I try to ensure I do not lose a day of vacation day for it because I swear it feels twice as bad.  For me the sickness is horrible, my mentality is unbearable and I need to sleep for at least half a day to feel better. I swear it feels the same way the Wicked Witch of the West feels when she is exposed to water….

Anyways, it was a great challenge and an interesting way to spend a day. I would do both hikes again, but maybe earlier in the day and not both at the same time. I would also bring snacks; I’m generally a pretty happy camper when there are snacks to be had. For more on the Murray Canyon and Seven Sisters Waterfall (from a respected hiker) click here.

I have given my Fitbit a break for the rest of the day; I am currently at 15,488 steps for the day and took 11,003 steps on the hikes. Here is my hike break down:

Steps: 11,003

Distance: 8km

Calories Burned: 890

As much as I love my Fitbit I know that is an estimate and not 100% accurate. But, compared to a full day on my feet waitressing that is not too shabby! If you would like to connect as Fitbit motivational buddies click here. 

Now I have a question for you, we have explored three fitness options so far on this trip I want to know which you would pick.

A)   $9 a day hiking

B)   $10 a day access to a senior’s country club workout room

C)   $15 a day access to a busy full service fitness club

There is lots more to come from our California Adventure 2015!

A photo posted by Kate Bruce (@kategbruce) on
A photo posted by Kate Bruce (@kategbruce) on

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Waitressing With A Fitbit

I treated myself this week to a FitBit Surge and I am in love. Seriously, I talk about it all the time and I am constantly checking my activity. I love it. It was a tough decision but I am very happy with my choice.

One of the main reasons I wanted a fitness tracker that could monitor heart rate etc. is because on top of my new marketing gig I am still waitressing. I was always interested to see how much activity I did in a day and how my heart rate was affected. I can now say that I just finished my first full day shirt with it and I am no longer surprised that I have had put on a little weight since starting my day job.

While working today I took about 13,300 steps, traveled about 9.5km and burned around 2,100 calories. That does not include my activity before and after work (so far). It is very fair to say when you wait tables you work your butt off, no wonder mine is a little bigger now that I sit on it all day! I still go to the gym everyday, but before I would work 6 out of 7 days of the week at the restaurant and go to the gym 6 days of the week.

I am so excited to take my Fitbit on adventure, Monday we leave for California. I really wish I would have had it for our Disneyworld trip… we may just have to pop in a quick visit to Disneyland to see our park Fitbit stats!
A photo posted by Kate Bruce (@kategbruce) on

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fitness Trackers: Fitbit Surge vs. Jawbone Up3

Well I have whined here before about being desk-ridden all day and having no way to accurately track how active I am and how effective my workouts are, today my complaint is about all the websites advertising their latest fitness trackers that have not been released yet.

This rant has been a long time coming, I have been looking for the ideal fitness tracker for quite some time now and I have refused to buy one without a continuous heart-rate monitor. I am now keen on idea of having multi-sport functionality as well. I have been unable to find one that I like the look of that has all the specs I want until now. Now, I am torn between two. The holding top-spot in my brain is the Jawbone Up3 and competing for that precious real estate is the Fitbit Surge. 

Yesterday I had my credit card out, ready to make the big purchase to no avail. Literally, there were none available online.

Now I want your feedback, which would you pick? Is there a fitness monitor that I am missing that has a sleek, functional look with all the advanced features on the market right now?

Honestly, I am pretty hung up on the Jawbone Up3 but it is missing the display function that the Fitbit Surge has (making it a little less useful). Also, after downloading and playing with the apps for both trackers I am more impressed with the Fitbit app. 

Do you have a fitness monitor? What is your preference and why?

Help a sista out! J

For more on the Fitbit Surge click here. For more one the Jawbone Up3 click here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

SNL 40

Visiting 30 Rock and 8-H in 2013.
I am a huge nerd, I have admitted it in the past and I will continue to admit it into the future. One of the things that gets my nerd juices flowing the fastest is Saturday Night Live. Last night was SNL40, the highlight of my storm-stayed holiday long weekend at home. I have been waiting for the huge special that aired last night since I first caught wind of it and believe me, it did not disappoint. After over a year of hard work the special was absolutely magical to me.

My Highlights:
-Bradley Cooper making out with Betty White.
-The auditions feature during the show with clips of SNL favourites auditions back in the day.
-Chris Rock’s tribute to Eddie Murphy.
-The montages, all of em’.
-Tributes to my hero Lorne Michaels throughout the night, my favourite one had to be during Adam
Sandler and Andy’s Samberg’s Digital Short. 

My Forgettable Moments:
-Miley Cyrus’s performance, it was good but had everyone in my house scratching their heads.
-Eddie Murphy’s 73-second appearance.

This morning I woke up and re-watched most of the special again and there are honestly very few things I would cut. I thought Jerry Seinfeld’s question and answer segment was great but would have been better without Dakota Johnson’s awkward plug for her upcoming episode and a throw to the uncomfortable antics of Ellen Cleghorne. Also, the Californians went a too long. It was an absolute treat to see Wayne and Garth back together and impersonating Lorne.

My favourite moment is a hard one to judge, but it would have to be Celebrity Jeopardy.

I could go on and on about the magic of SNL 40 last night, unfortunately some people failed to see it. The internet is a-buzz today with feedback about the special but I think the most important thing to remember about SNL is something that I was told when touring NBC and visiting the SNL set.

Studio 8-H is tiny, it truly is. The crew does an incredible job making it look WAY bigger than it really is. That is one of the reasons it is so hard to get tickets to the show. During the tour they tell you that the show is not created each Saturday night for the people in the audience, it is made to watch at home. Last night’s Sunday night special was a change in format, I watched it as a performance for the incredible cast and crew that has made SNL over the past 40 years. From the comfort of my home I felt like I was peeping into a window watching something special created by and for some of the most talented comedians to ever live. It is hard to articulate exactly how I feel about last night’s show, but I feel privileged to say that I watched it and that I visited 8-H a place where magic truly does happen.

Last night it was exciting to see the incredible casts of the past work with the contemporary SNL night crew. I have mourned many people leaving the show in the past few years only to be blown away by the incredible new talent that joins the cast. It was wonderful to see them all working together.

If you have not watched SNL40 yet make sure you watch it all soon, do not just watch the clips online you will not get the incredible impact of the entire show as it was meant to be seen.

One final note, THANK YOU to everyone who has worked at SNL in the past and continues to provide laughs for the future. As I type this there are three people on screen in the TV show that I am watching (not SNL) that were once on SNL working together with other talented comedians to produce one of the funniest shows on television right now. Saturday Night Live has made the world a funnier, better place.

Also, props to Global TV here in Canada for live streaming SNL 40 for FREE online. Now SNL start letting Canadians view your YouTube videos, common' Lorne I know you have the power!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fundraising For Coldest Night of the Year: Cookiegram Results

A couple of days ago I blogged about my fundraising efforts as Team Captain for the Valley Credit Union Icebreakers for Coldest Night of the Year 2015. *More on that here*

I needed to get a little rest and back into my routine before sharing the results, I am so excited I raised $316 for Open Arms in just 48 hours. Yes, I was up until 3am with my wonderful sister, aunt and cousin baking/decorating 171 cookies; but it was worth it!

After a long Wednesday night and a minor fender-bender Thursday morning I made it to work and the cookies genuinely seemed to make everyone happy. Who doesn't love getting a nice message and a sweet treat for a good cause, right?

I'm already planning for my next fundraiser to help Camp Brigadoon, some friends and I are taking part in "Wine & Dash" this Spring.

For now, I am focused on my winter fundraiser. You can help the cause by donating to the Annapolis Valley's Coldest Night of the Year in support of Open Arms by clicking here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Weird Things Happen To Me: Before I Die...

Weird things happen to me ALL THE TIME.

Honestly, it is kind of nice to have strange occurrences brighten up my day to day routine. I was just perusing one of my favourite websites that I use daily at work “Morgue File” and found an unexpected delight (as my boss would call it). I’m not sure if this photo was taken in Nelson, BC where I stumbled upon the “Before I Die...” wall or if my message was is so unique and strange that it stayed on the wall for an extended period of time, either way it hit me in the face today.
As I flipped through pages of photos of “art” I found the wonderful wall that had people lining up in Nelson to publicly share their goals and life ambitions with my message intact. Yes, my small hands have not only impacted someone’s view of an amazing public art exhibit but they have also contributed in a tiny way to one of my favourite sites.
Strange, eh?

My goal on the wall that day was very ambitious. I think I am better qualified to work towards it today than I was that day, but I am moving further away from working in the industry my dream pertained too... I’m not sure if I should be encouraged or discouraged seeing this photo about a year-and-a-half after expressing my dreams. I’m not sure if I was drunk with ambition or just a little buzzed... I know one thing is for sure, I miss that beautiful sun shine! Summer cannot come fast enough!

I’m not going to tell you my chalked-in goal, I’ll let you guess.

Now it is your turn, finish this sentence: Before I die I want to.... 

Checkout MorgueFile here:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fundraising For Coldest Night of the Year

One of the biggest challenges I think in marketing these days is how much is expected of a Marketing
Department. Big or small today marketers have their hands in pretty much every pot at the office. I’m not complaining, I would rather be immersed my organization than caught unaware. Marketing can range from doing traditional roles like creating advertisements and strategies to event planning and employee recognition. I think most of the best marketers are also the best front line employees because they have the finger on the pulse of what is going on and can jungle multiple asks and campaigns while being part of traditional daily front-line operations.

With that being said, for me one of the biggest challenges of being a new employee at a business in a new industry is not having that bare basics knowledge about daily operations that someone who has worked one has. With that knowledge comes respect, for example while I was working in Marketing for McDonald’s Restaurants I gained the respect of the employees I was training and teaching because I understood their roles and what a day in their shoes was like because of my experience working as a “crew member” in high school. That traction was so valuable to me and to the people I was working with.
Taking on my new marketing role with a financial institution has been a challenge. One of the most challenging things I have been asked to do is to take on being Captain of our Coldest Night of the Year fundraising team and organizing our organization-wide fundraising efforts. I am so proud of our team for their amazing work so far. I am used to organizing events, motivating a corporate team is a little different. As you can see on the website listed below we have had nearly $800 in donations and that does not count all of the money donated at our branches by our members. I appreciate how hard it can be to follow the lead of someone new, especially when that person is new to their role and industry and the team here has welcomed me whole-hardily.

Me in my Team Captain CNOY toque
Unfortunately I am a desk jockey and do not have the opportunities to fundraise like our amazing staff.  They truly are amazing for all of the support they have thrown behind making our team successful in supporting Open Arms and the “homeless, hurt and hungry” here in the Annapolis Valley. To help in my own way I am pulling some sweet Valentine’s Day treats from Pinterest and making customized Cookiegrams to be sent between branches and around our area.
In the past 16 hours I have already raised $100 and I am sure there is more to come! If you live in the Annapolis Valley and would like to order some red velvet or sugar cookiegrams please email me

If you would like to help support our fundraising efforts but do not want the cookies you can donate by following this link:

It is going to be a cold night. It has been ridiculously cold lately with wind-chills making it feel like the temperature is in the -30s. There is not another group of people that I would rather be freezing with than the incredible people I work with. I am so impressed with their ability to juggle so many tasks and come out on the successful side with grace and excitement to take on the next challenge.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Creating My Own Marketing Textbook

Creating My Own Marketing Textbook
“2015 a year of learning, exercising and creating”
That has been my mission statement for this year. So far I think I have been doing okay at working on those three things. Today I am blogging about the first priority for this year, learning.
My new job working in marketing is one that requires a lot of learning on my part across the spectrum; learning new techniques, new computer programs and the scariest thing (for me) about banking. Working two jobs has proved to be a little bit much on top of my three goals. We have had a couple of snowdays so my living room has been turned into the University of Kate on the days I have time to dig into my curriculum.
One easy thing I have been doing to keep my brain in “learn mode” and to help build knowledge about is to read. Every day at my new job I sit and I read at least one article online. It can be about marketing, social media, innovation, finances, banking or business in general; whatever strikes my fancy or is trendy or relevant that day. I have learned an incredible amount from slowing my racing mind down for 5-10 minutes and reading an article. I then sum up the key points that pertain to my role at my job in one line on the paper and put it away until the next day.
things within my job that are not being covered by
Yes, it is that easy. One line a day and you are slowly creating your own personal textbook. I often go back and read through the list I have created thus far and reflect on the things I have learned in the past.
I often find my articles on LinkedIN or via my business buddies on Twitter. I have a few blogs that I love one being effUmarketing by Jordan Rycroft. My readings are not peer-reviewed articles or data plugged in and shot out at me to tell me what to think. The readings I do are from people working everyday in their respective fields and who see what is going on the in the world we try so hard to predict and cash-in on. Most of the articles are comprised of data that is complimented by anecdotal evidence or stories to back the overall message but have much more substance than an average blog and much less opinion.
That is just another thing I am doing to help myself learn new things in 2015. As you can see the longer I am at this job, the less time I have to do my readings. Do you have any tips? Leave them in the comment field or you can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter below. Let’s be friends :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dear Winter...

Dear winter,

Please stop. Kindly move along and allow an early spring to begin.  I appreciate that this is not the worst winter on record, that there has only been a slightly annoying amount of snow and nasty so far this year compared to others but I have had enough. After living in a part of the world that experiences all of the awesome parts of winter (and celebrates them) without it’s crappy grossness.

This is the first East Coast winter I have had to experience as a true adult and I am not enjoying it. I am out of winter wear; I’m really struggling to recycle my warm outfits to make it through an entire week in office appropriate clothing. Seriously, I would be all right if we could make 80s pant suits fashionable again at the office. I would be totally fine wearing shoulder pads for a little extra warmth. I keep a pair of wool socks stashed at my desk at ALL TIMES just in case my toes loose all their feeling.

I’m not a big baby. I can deal with the cold, but the cold isn’t what is annoying. It is being wet and cold day-in-day-out. If I spend any more time in my bathtub trying to thaw I think I will develop scales or turn into a mermaid.

The worst part?

Having to shovel snow before going to work. It is nearly 3pm and we still have not been plowed out. From the neck up I am totally ready to go to work. From the neck down, sweatys and my trusty wool socks. There is NOTHING worse than waking up and getting ready for work, shoveling a ridiculous amount of snow, cold winds blistering your skin as more snow falls from the sky and then working up a thick layer of sweat from tearing apart small mountains of snow that is packed down by ice.

Owning a dog I now know that I need to have winter boots to live in Canada. But, they are all so god awful that it pains me to think about spending money on them.

To be clear, I do not hate winter. I think I just hate winter in the Annapolis Valley. Last year winter in the Kootenays was awesome! World-class skiing and amazing winter celebrations made it all bearable. I feel like living away from the Valley for one winter really has changed how I see it now.

As I sit here stewing, waiting to be dug out of this relatively small amount of snow that kept me home from work today I really just needed to get a rant out. Again, I do not hate winter but I really cannot wait until this gross one is over.