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Friday, July 13, 2018

Two Cowboys: Learning Why Little Things Matter for Tiny House Builder, Finished Right Contracting, in Morinville, AB

The Little Things

When you consider living in a Tiny House, you know that the little things matter. 

It matters because space is limited in your living quarters. Everything has its place, and everything must have a purpose, or it is in the way. It also matters because you recognize how precious space is in your mind that you dedicate to the things around you. 

When you are conscious of your physical and mind-space limitations, you discover how little meaningful time you have and how much of this precious resource it can take to truly dedicate to “belongings”. There are only so many hours in a day, days in a month, and months in a year. Keeping something for "in-case" or "sentimental" value quickly becomes something in the way or another thing that needs storage, maintenance and care. It merely occupies space you may no longer have.


The same applies to the people with which we surround ourselves. If we choose to have them in our lives, do they honestly matter? Should they matter? Does your employer really commit to your wellbeing like you commit your precious life hours to theirs or will they let you go the moment you are no longer needed, useful, nice, or “a team player”. Do clients really care about your welfare or are they merely focused on extracting as much as possible for as little as they have to offer? 

Should you care to whom you hand over your money? Do the people from who you buy have your health and well-being in mind when they sell you that highly preserved meal, lousy coffee or device that will stop working or break in 18 months. Who makes, grows or crafts the items that fill your life? Are you with a partner, parent, or is your older child with you because they build you or because they use you or even worse, abuse you?

This is probably why minimalism and living tiny go hand in hand. Both are contrarian outlooks in today’s fast-paced consumption driven life. Both require a lot more thought about the things we have, the time we spend, and the people we have around us. It is anti-hoarding. It is less that is allowing for more. It is living with purpose.

We’ve discovered that it has the power to create space for more meaningful living. That is why we like it. We’ve also found that it doesn’t come easy, though. It requires firm resolve and dedication. Every decision made, item used, hour spent, and person loved needs to made conscious of the real value, role and purpose it plays in your life. The little things matter because that is where you find meaning.

A lot is said and produced online about Tiny Houses, tiny living and the motivation of people that choose the lifestyle. At the outset, it sounds bohemian to be able to live in a space that is considered small by North American standards ( Europe and Japan with their space limitations, even our tiny is considered big). A home you can move with you if you choose to live in another part of the town or country. It comes with a philosophy of possibility. It also comes with a perspective of quality which is different from what you get in a mobile home, RV or a motorhome.


We were fortunate enough to meet Steve Zaleschuk of Finished Right Contracting who shares in our philosophy. He is a tiny house builder just north of Edmonton, Alberta. Steve has been doing carpentry for over 34. You can see his keen sense of accomplishment when he takes a stack of lumber and turns it into something beautiful and useful that can stand the test of time. This is precisely what he does when he builds his customers’ small homes. Everything Steve makes is scrutinized by that little voice inside his head, “Would Grandma be happy with this?” If not, I do it better!  

Steve Zaleschuk is a true craftsman and maker. He prides himself in making a tiny home that will be enjoyed for the next eighty years by all who walk through the entrance. Everything is hand-finished and done custom to the client's satisfaction. This takes a lot longer and costs more at the outset. However, as we know with things that are well made, over time it's better.

Steve “overbuilds” his tiny houses. He thought of everything. Every last detail is done with care and consideration. Nothing is too much. Just right. We’ve discovered that the fit out of a tiny home can be a minefield of options. It is a marriage between a conventional building and an RV. Traditional buildings last longer and is more comfortable during bad weather but is heavy, more expensive and less mobile. RV thinking ads mobility, less cost at the outset, but quality and durability are usually an issue. Should you do solar? Do you really need water tanks? What heating should you use? How do you cool down in hot weather? All these questions come up, and Steve has an answer for every one of them and more. He did his homework and will guide prospective customers through a build that is perfect for their needs.

We have not seen the amount of care before that Steve puts into constructing tiny houses for other people. Steve can rightly call his houses, “homes”. If there is a little home we want to live in, Steve’s is at the top of our list. Who knows? Maybe we will get a chance to do it.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Minimalist Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.             


Quality Control
Quality Control


Really Tiny
Small Home


Monday, June 25, 2018

Two Cowboys: The Spice Must Flow with Alberta Steak Spice in Canmore, Alberta, Canada

It’s the Spice

Someone once said that you can never have too much spice in your life. We agree. As we get older and our palates develop, some would say mature, we definitely lean towards discovering new and bolder flavors for cooking. Spice is one of the go-to options to add more flavor. It allows us to broaden our culinary repertoire. We have our favorites but we are always open to discover new ones.


There are a lot of places in the world known for spice production and its use in specific cultures and cooking. Mexico for chilies, India for curries, and Asia immediately come to mind with a mind-numbing array of bold spicy flavors. We didn’t think that the Province of Alberta was one of them until we discovered that it is the New World’s main producer of mustard! This opened our eyes to the adventures of Alberta’s spice masters.

We were fortunate enough to have met one of them, Larry Gale, at the Canmore Uncorked Food Festival a couple of years ago. Today, he is the inventor, proprietor and general cheerleader of Alberta’s newest and most adventurous journey into spice production - blending spice. According to Larry, Alberta has a unique demand for a  foundational spice that goes well with its world-renowned Black Angus Alberta beef.

However, he didn’t stop there. Once the foundation was laid he discovered that it worked with a lot more than Beef. It spiced up chicken, ribs, seafood, vegetables. In fact, Larry will canvas for the use of his spice even on Ice Cream!

The real opportunity came for Larry’s product when he hunted for a name for his spice. At first he settled on the unassuming and generally accepted convention for plain and simply referring to it as Alberta Steak Spice. Alberta’s people are Prairie farm folk. Simple folk. It is better to make it clear what the stuff in the bottle is for.

Then it struck him. Larry invented “ASS”! Or, more commonly referred to as Alberta’ ASS. The acronym for (A)lberta (S)teak (S)pice is ASS. This opened up all kinds of wicked marketing possibilities which he hasn’t even started to explore.


The novelty of the name may be the first thing that attracts someone to ASS. However, once you tried ASS you want to use it a little more in your daily cooking. We’ve used it on our steak and we’ve liked it more and more.

The blend is course, yet versatile, and a little on the peppery side - the way folks like it here in Alberta. It is a base blend which allows you to add more of your own adventures like a little more cyan pepper, mustard for pork, all spice fr chicken or even brown sugar for caramelization. Larry mentioned that he is adding to the ASS repertoire with a finer version of ASS (Alberta Seasoning Spice). He is doing it because folk have been using ASS on so much of their food and so many different kinds of food that there is scope for something with even more use.

We can see this only the beginning for this novel idea. It has our support. Where will you be able to get your own ASS, I hear you ask.

You can buy it online for worldwide shipping, in your local supermarket in Alberta (soon British Columbia and the rest of Canada). It is also available in the Two Cowboys Store. (

Hendrik van Wyk
Spice Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.            



Ribs and ASS

Larry and ASS

Amongst Friends

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Wing Night With the Two Cowboys in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton Wing Night Wings

"Wing Night is a ceremonial and sacred evening during which many chicken wings will be eaten by a gathering of gluttonous friends. Each step of the preparation and consumption of the wings is carefully orchestrated and held holy. Deviation from tradition (i.e. inviting your girlfriend, not eating til breathing is difficult, leaving early, not toasting the first wing, not getting everyone a beer when yours is finished or you get up, bringing non-wing food to the gathering, de-winging during the meal) is strictly and violently forbidden. The only consumables other than chicken wings welcome at wing night are blue cheese dressing, celery stalks, and beer - lots and lots of beer."

We checked in with three establishments in Waterton Lakes National Park's Town Site to find more out about their wing offerings. We were spoiled for choice in what is essentially a really small town. Here is what we found.


Zum's Eatery and Mercantile 

Zum's is an institution when it comes to southern-style fried chicken in Waterton. As a result, their chicken wings didn't disappoint. They know their chicken. It was lightly breaded, well cooked and succulent to the bone.

The sauce didn't have the kick we were looking for. Instead, it had the flavour that complemented the wing nicely. The challenge with southern-style wings is that it is a rich wing. You will have to pace yourself not to fill up too quickly.

Is it a typical Wing Night wing? For the Cowboys, it needed more heat and we will probably not run out of beer, as you should when having Zum's hot wings. It is more your Sunday lunch kind of wing. Add the restaurant's amazing patio and scenery and you have a must-do stop in Waterton where you can take the whole family for fried chicken.

Thirsty Bear Kitchen and Bar

The Thirsty Bear is the Bar and a favourite hangout in Waterton. All bars need hot wings on the menu at the Thirsty Bear didn't disappoint.

The Cowboys would have liked to have a few more than three choices of wings on the menu. Considering the gourmet-feel the rest of the menu offers patrons, it may have made the choices too hard. We usually get distracted by the Truffle Mac n Cheese. If there was a way to dip our wings in that we may just have gotten ourselves into trouble.

For this particular occasion, we tried the hot wings. It came with a unique Dill Dip (get the Aussie to say it ;-)) that was almost as good as the Mac n Cheese. Go for the dip when you visit! The wings needed more heat to be classified Cowboy hot, which is probably acceptable given the delicate flavours of the dip.

The Thirst Bear stands out for its excellent selection in craft beers. If Shameer's cook can make the wings hotter, they may just get us to drink (a lot more) of the delicious local beer.

Trappers Mountain Grill

If there is one place that spared no expense in laying out the red carpet for the Cowboys it was Steve West and the crew at Trappers. Here comes the disclaimer: You will probably need a VIP access pass to the Trappers' inner circle to get the buttery smokey gourmet wings laid out for us during our visit. What we tasted was from Trappers' test kitchen. We took one for the team and every bite was worth it!

I think we convinced Steve to put the new flavour wings on the menu if he can manage to repeat the feat and make the food cost work. A lot of labour and love went into making these wings and it was the most flavourful wings we've tasted thus far.

Steve is not going to like what comes next. Sorry, Steve, we needed more heat. Not burning heat. Rather, more flavour heat. Something that made us thirsty. The beers were huge and icy cold and we were dearly looking for an excuse to have even more beer. We didn't get it. We ended up looking for more wings instead!


Waterton has a variety of food establishments and a great community of people. While chicken wings may not (yet) be a good reason to make the trip, who knows, it may become one in the future.

Please support Waterton's businesses. Say hello to the people of Zums, Thirsty Bear and Trappers. Tell them the Two Cowboys sent you and ask for parmesan with your wings.

We thank them all sincerely for indulging us while we are trying to find the best Wing Night wings in Canada and hope they will have us back after seeing and reading the above.

Hendrik van Wyk
Winging Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.


Zum's Wings

Trappers Wings

Thirsty Bear Wings

Winning Wings!

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