Monday, June 27, 2011

The Next Challenge

I read a lot.

Lately I have been following a few blogs and I came across this...

Which led to this...

Which as you can see, is from 2009. But!.. The date doesn't matter. It's the idea in the post that's important.

The challenge has been issued on the Northwest Edible Life Blog, and I am going to do it.

So, on July 1 I'll be starting this challenge.

I will fill up the gas tank and work out what my 'allowance' will be before the end of this month.

I am looking forward to it!

Sorry Starbucks, I won't be seeing you for a while... Maybe the size of my butt will benefit from this challenge too. Not just my wallet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Seals, Kids and Cuteness

I don't know which is cuter...

The Seals

 The Kids

Or the Kids buying treats for the Seals 


They were so proud of themselves!

Last weekend we went down to Oak Bay Marina to feed the resident seals, climb trees, play on the beach and just have fun.


I went golfing this morning with Daddy-O.

I almost didn't go golfing this morning. I didn't wake up to my alarm and Daddy-O ended up waking me up as I should have been heading out the door. I managed to feed the cats, get dressed, brush my teeth and hair and grab breakfast to eat on the way. Oh, and make sure I had my EpiPen. I certainly can't go golfing without that. 

I was out the door in five minutes.

It sure is pretty. 

And frustrating. How can such a cute little white ball be so frustrating?

And what the heck is with this? I call it the Stairway to Hell. Isn't golf supposed to be walking from the tee to the green and chasing that cute little white ball? A little bit of uphill walking. A little bit of downhill walking. And chasing that cute little white ball. No where in there does it include a Stairway to Hell. They certainly left that part out of the brochure. 

This guy came for a snack. He was very tame. Or she. I didn't get that close. 

I am a good golfer. 

In my dreams.


That was my score. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lemon-y Goodness

In October I began eating Gluten and Sugar free. Things were going well.

A few weeks before I left for Europe I began eating wheat again. I knew that I would be eating croissants and not able to be Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Sugar Free while I was travelling.

I didn't do too badly in Europe. Yes, I had croissants. And treats. But not too much.

Since I got home, it has gone to... heck. With my concussion, I have had far bigger things to deal with.

Now that my noggin is feeling better, I am getting back to it. I felt so much better when I was being 'good'.

Since we are heading off on a holiday in August, I want to have a few items to take with me. It will be nice to not have to eat from gas stations. I also want some treat items that everyone will want to eat.

Tonight I got baking!

I have not baked anything gluten or sugar free before. I am familiar with wheat flour, not sorghum flour, arrowroot flour, bean flour and all the other flours and subtitutes that are out there. It was a bit intimidating to start baking using ingredients that I couldn't pronounce, never mind that I was completely unfamiliar with them.

Today I was checking out Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and saw this recipe for Lemon Coconut Bars. My mouth started watering. I kept thinking about the bars. After a couple hours I pulled up the recipe again and made up a grocery list.

The recipe looks pretty simple. It is. Here is the cast of characters...

The large bowl has Sorghum Flour, the small bowl has Arrowroot Powder/Flour. I am not sure why the slivered almonds are in there... I think they excaped the cupboard when I was digging for other ingredients.

I didn't take pictures during the making of this. Just picture the scene above, only covered with measuring cups and honey. It was... sticky.

One thing I will change next time is that I won't make the custard in the food processor. It made the biggest mess by leaking out of the processor and all over the counter since it is very runny until it sets when it's cooked.

Here is the finished product.

I wish you could smell it.

We have all tried a piece, the only thing I will change is next time is that I will double the amount of the lemon custard topping.

It was deelish! Thank you Amy, for such a great, and simple, recipe!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dear Costco...

Oh Costco.

Sometimes I love you.

Awesome Post Costco Effect!

You are so beautiful to me...

Only Peanuts! No crap added!

Sometimes I Not-Love you.

This is not Bacon. Bacon is meat and belongs in the fridge. Not in a bag on the shelf.

I don't care if it is Gluten Free. Beany canned brown goop is gross. Especially in a bucket this big.

Potatoes are cheap. Buy a potato and mash it.

Costco has some awesome stuff! Between the almond butter and the jumbo packs of toilet paper I can't seem to get out the door empty handed. Oh, and the samples! I could go there and make a meal out of samples on the weekend.

But there sure it some crap at Costco. And it makes me laugh. And take pictures.

Where have you been all my life?

(Tuesday, April 12, 2011)

I love Asian food. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, all of it! That Canadianized, usually too greasy, always yummy deliciousness we are familiar with. I have tried all sorts of variations on this theme, 'real' Chinese food when I lived in Richmond, the cheap and greasy version in the tiny town of Gibbons Alberta. Every chance I get, I go for it.

Funny thing. I have always known that there is this little place in downtown Victoria called 'Lotus Pond'. It's a vegetarian, Buddhist restaurant. For some reason I have never gone there. Maybe because it's downtown and parking is a pain in the butt, maybe because although I know it's there I forget about it...

They have a weigh your plate buffet at lunch, or you can order off the menu at lunch or dinner. I like the weigh your plate thing. It's a good way to try many different items and works well for people that can't eat a lot at a buffet. I usually avoid buffets as they are expensive and I don't eat enough to make it worth going. It's a little different than what most people are used to, but for me, it works.

Well, today I needed to grab dinner on my way home and a co-worker (Thanks Ryan!) had mentioned that he had been there and it was the best Asian meal he had ever had. I figured 'What the heck!' and headed downtown. I managed to find a parking spot right out front and in I went.

It's a cute little place. I grabbed a table and the server brought me over a menu. The menu has over 100 items! How do you decide?! After a few minutes I settled on a combo-for-one that included a Spring Roll, Won Ton Soup, Black Bean Stir Fried Veggies, Brown Rice and Lemon Mock Chicken. I also hung on to the menu to have a good read through, 100 items is a big menu. There are lots of items that look like they deserve a try.

The Spring Roll was really good. Hot, full of veggies and most importantly, not greasy. I could have had another one, or two...

Won Ton Soup was up next. I have missed Won Ton Soup in the 8 1/2 years I have been Vegetarian. The Won Tons always have shrimp or pork so I have been out of luck. This soup had veggies and mushrooms in the Won Tons. The veggies in the soup were fresh and the broth was amazingly flavourful. I enjoyed every single drop. Again, I could have had more.

Just as I was finishing my soup, my meal arrived. It smelled amazing. A-ma-zing. It was the Lemon Mock Chicken, it smelled so fresh and sweet. Guess what I tried first. I have never had anything like the Lemon Mock Chicken before. Ever. I don't even know how to describe it. Yummy. Beyond yummy. Super Duper. Once I devoured that I tried the Black Bean Veggies. I didn't eat the Tofu. That's me though. I have never been a fan of Tofu. It's a texture thing. The veggies were so fresh, so yummy.

I am running out of ways to describe the absolute deliciousness of this meal.

The last thing left on my plate was my Brown Rice. I used it to soak up the left over Lemon Sauce and Black Bean Sauce. I needed to do something, I was tempted to lick the sauces off my plate... Also good. Brown Rice can so easily go wrong. It can be too dry, or old, or too wet... This rice was pretty great, not old, dry, mushy. It was perfect.

I have not had a meal so satisfying in a long time. Now that I know how amazing the food it, I will be back. Soon.

Lotus Pond, where have you been all my life?

Despetately seeking... Lunch.

Bay and Tyee.

Please someone, open a good restaurant. Please.

My choices are cheap and greasy Chinese food. Quizno's. Save-on Deli. the bakery that makes pizza, which was the last thing I ate before I had the flu, so I can't eat there again.

And Cafe Espresso. Oh Cafe Espresso. How do you manage? Desperate people in the surrounding area no doubt.

Today I figured I would try a sandwich for lunch. A $6.67 sandwich. A $6.67 vegetarian sandwich. There are a few things that restaurants or cafes or whatever... should know about sandwiches.

1. It's a sandwich. Made of bread and some stuff in the middle. It's not fancy, however you try to spin it, mayo is mayo, bread is bread, the stuff in the middle is just stuff in the middle.

2. If you want me to ever buy another $7 sandwich, you need to make me a $7 sandwich. I know what veggies cost and have made many a sandwich.

3. If I say 'No Cucumber, I am allergic.' Don't put cucumber in my sandwich. And when I bring it back, don't tell me I asked for no peppers. I am not allergic to peppers.

4. Don't tell me that I get sprouts if I don't. Gimme' the sprouts.

5. Don't charge $7 for two slices of bread, a couple peppers, tomatoes, onions and lettuce. 

I could have gone to Save-On or Quizno's and bought the same sandwich for half the price. Next time, that's what I will do.

Cafe Espresso, I will not be spending my money with you again.

Homeward Bound

(Thursday March 31, 2011)

This is it! Today I go home.

I have had such a great time and don't want to leave.

I also want to go home. I miss my kitties, the kids and my bed. And my daily routine.

Last night I stayed at Yotel Gatwick. Yotels are based on Japanese Pod or Capsule Hotels, but with a European twist. They are a bit bigger than a pod, but not much! They have all the basics and just enough room to turn around in. The best part is that I got to stay in the Terminal. Right there, in the airport. No early morning shuttles, no taxis, no rushing around to get to the airport. I woke up and I was there. Perfection.

Yotel is the best place I stayed in on my whole trip. The best. They may be small, but they sure pay attention to detail. If you ever get a chance to stay at one of these cool little places, take it. You won't be disappointed. The bed was super comfy with down pillows and a great duvet. As well, the whole area is silent. The staff all wear shirts that say 'Shhhhh...' on the back. It was the best. 

It's not often you hear an endorsement of a Hotel where you can stay by the hour... This is one!

6am is very early, especially when you don't get to bed until after 1am... 

When the alarm went off I rolled over and hit snooze. About 2 minutes later I jumped up realizing I couldn't snooze, I only had the room booked until 6:30am and I had to be checked out by then. 

Up, teeth, dressed, packed, and out the door by 6:30am. I think that was a record. 

No shuttle, no taxi, no rushing. I was already there. I walked down the hall and checked in for my flight.

Next stop, the VAT/Customs Office. They were closed until 7:15am. Darn it! they did have a phone direct to Customs there and once I talked to then, they let me know I could go and check my bags and see them after Security. 
Off to check in. My checked bags ended up being 20.5kg. Close enough, no charges. Nice! now to just get through security... 

And as I walked through the scanner, it beeped. Uh Oh. So I got the old pat down, and then had to take my shoes off and they were run through the x-ray machine. Apparently all was good, I got my shoes back and then just had to wait for my bag to come through the x-ray. And as my bag came through, the security guy grabbed it and asked if I minded if he had a look. 'Of course I don't, please feel free.' **Darn it! Darn it! For crying out loud, I don't have anything, please don't strip search me next...** He wanted to have a look because the x-ray wasn't clear. My voltage converter was sitting partially on my netbook and they couldn't clearly see what it was. As soon as he opened my bag he pulled the converter out and laughed. Whew!

Next, the executive lounge, breakfast, and collect some food for the flight.

First, the lounge and breakfast. It was nice, they have a continental breakfast as well as some hot breakfast items at no charge. I had toast, juice and tea. then I sat in a comfy chair and read for and hour and a bit. When I felt like I was going to fall asleep, it was time to go.

Next job, find some food for the flight. Pret a Manger, here I come! The selection was not as good as I expected, I think because it was breakfast time. I did manage to grab a sandwich, 2 granola bars, some Edemamme, a bag of crisps and a lemon cheesecake pudding thing, as well as water and juice.
After trying to serve me chicken on the way over, I am not getting stuck on the way back. It's almost a 10 hour flight and that is just too long to go without food, especially after breakfast was just toast. 

The gate was supposed to open at 9:50am, at 9:55 I went to information as there was no info on the board. Uh oh, sounds like the flight may be delayed. At right around 10am the gate number appeared! Yahoo!

Off to the gate. Like a stampede.

Finally onto the plane and into my teeny weenie seat. For 10 hours. Why did we all rush to the gate again?

Lunch was not surprising. Chicken. Great. I figured something out though, my request for a Vegetarian Meal was not provided to the airline. That's why they have tried to feed me chicken twice. 

They had enough vegetarian meals that they offered me one, but again it had nuts, and they don't know what kind of nut. So no thanks. I am allergic to Walnuts, not badly. Lately it hasn't been bothering me and I have had some items with walnuts in it and been fine. But I am not about to test that out again 11km in the air. So up here, I am allergic to them. End of story. 

The people sitting next to me also had requested vegetarian meals and had the same problem.

Now I am really, really, glad I stopped at Pret a Manger.

I munched away on my stash of food while everyone else had their meals. Crisis averted. So far I have watched the movie 'Red' and am waiting for the next round of movies to start. Maybe I will have a nap, or do some reading. Either way, I have 6 1/2 hours left and my bum is sore from sitting.

After watching 'Red' again (no other movie was working), reading, trying to nap and staring at the ceiling, we landed! Yahoo!

Next stop, Customs. Where I had to tell the Customs Officer all about my trip. He asked me a whole bunch of questions. Finally he let me go so I could collect my bags, which seemed to take forever. By the time I got my bags I decided I was way too tired to drag 50lbs of luggage on the Skytrain and bus so I found the Pacific Coach Lines desk and bought myself a bus ticket. I love that I can get on the bus at the airport and walk off the ferry, and not have to drag my bags around. I put them in the bottom of the bus and picked them up when I got off the ferry. Perfect. 

Made even more perfect because Mom and Dad met me when I got off the ferry and took my bags to the truck for me. 


By the time I walked in the door, I was done. Then the cats came down the stairs to see who was coming in the door and it was all over but the snuggling. I managed to get a load of laundry started and then curled up with the kitties for some long overdue snuggles. And a nap. After my nap, I headed off to bed.

I have never been so happy to see my bed.

Last Day, at Last.

(Wednesday March 30, 2011.)

This is it! My last day. I was up and packed and checked out this morning and then it was off to the Metro. Back into London from Heathrow, then the best part!

A massage!

I got a Groupon before I left home and booked a massage and facial today at Rich's Wellbeing and Beauty. Funny that the Hostel I was staying at a few days ago is just a few minutes walk away. And I had to come almost an hour on the train from Heathrow today.

My massage was awesome. So was the facial. I was all Jello-y when I was done and really didn't want to have to drag my bags around. So I caught a Taxi up to St. Pancras Station, which is where I had to get the train to Gatwick Airport.

From St. Pancras I hopped on the train and got to relax in my seat until I arrived at Gatwick. Now, if you are paying attention, you will know that my flight doesn't leave until tomorrow morning. Yes, I am arriving at the airport a day early. There is a method to my madness. Sort of.

I am tired. I want to go home. I have done so much and don't need to do anything more. I have had a massage and am ready to have a nap and go home. My flight leaves early and I don't want to have to deal with a shuttle or racing for a Taxi in the wee hours tomorrow. So, I will be jiggling my post massage Jello-y self into my room for a nap and then having dinner and a relaxing night. I don't need to do any other racing around on my last day.

One of the things I wanted when I was planning this trip was an easy arrival in Paris and an easy departure from London. So, I did some looking around and found the Yotel Gatwick. They have rooms right in the South Terminal of the Airport so it will be an easy commute in the morning.

I checked in and hopped into the shower. Ahhhhh. The best shower I have had since I left home. Seriously. The best shower. Then a nap and I will head off to find dinner somewhere in the Airport. There are lots of restaurants in the terminal.

The rooms are tiny. Very tiny. But they sure feel luxurious. They have paid attention to every detail. There are awesome monsoon shower heads, high-quality-super-comfy mattresses and down duvets and pillows. If you happen to end up flying into or out of an airport with a Yotel, take advantage of it! Have an awesome sleep! They even let you book by the hour if you have a layover or a short stay. I tried to take some pictures of the room, bu it was too small. Check out the pictures through the links to see pictures at the Yotel Site.

After dinner I headed back to my room and made sure everything was packed properly and ready to go for the morning. The plan for the rest of the night was pajamas and TV in bed. Perfection.

Time and Gelato

(Tuesday March 29, 2011)

It's the day before the day before I leave London. There is so much I want to do.

One thing I have always wanted to do is go to the Royal Observatory to see the Greenwich Meridian Line. To stand with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and one foot in the Western Hemisphere. To see Longitude 0˚. 

Time is a man made concept. It's not something physical, that you can touch and feel. It's a theory. And at the Meridian Line, you can see it and touch time. 

So I did.


It was a long Metro and DLR ride, but well worth it. There was also a walk up a long hill to get to the Observatory, Once I got to the top, the view was awesome.

From the bottom of the hill, before climbing up.

The view from the top once I climbed up that hill.

This was at the top too. It's a pointy thing.

After checking out the Meridian Line and the Museum and everything to offer at the Observatory I headed back down to the DLR and back into Central London. To the National Portrait Gallery

No Pictures Allowed Inside.

After a nice wander through I headed to the gelato place behind the Gallery. Lemon Gelato is the best. Ever.

Trafalgar Square smelled less like pee today. Thankfully.

After my gelato it was starting to get dark, so back to the hotel to pack up and get everything ready to check out in the morning.

Museums are FREE in London! Seriously! Free!

(Monday, March 28, 2011)

Museums are free in London! Yay! This is good news for a museum nerd...

I started with the Museum of Natural History. Seriously cool. Even the building was fascinating.

They have a temporary exhibit called Sexual Nature right now, you have to pay to get into the temporary exhibits, but since the museum is free, it's not a big deal. It was an interesting exhibit. Interesting and explicit. Like who knew that Snails shoot 'Love Darts' to aid in fertilization?! It certainly was interesting. After all the pornography, I spend a couple hours wandering around the rest of the museum. There is so much to see I could have spent a couple days there.

There were some parts of the Museum where I couldn't take pictures, but I did get one of this...

Giant Sequoia.

It's from the 'Pacific North West'. So I went half way around the world to see a tree that came from here.

Next up was The Victoria and Albert Museum. Here there were lots of naked stone people.


Is there a theme developing today?

I also saw this set of shutters...

Which I would want if I had a window they would fit on.

There is also this really cool glass sculpture hanging in the entry.

I want this too. Although I don't know where I would hang it...

And here is a bit more of the mess left at Trafalgar Square.

It still smells like pee.

And, the Olympic Clock!

There is some controversy over this clock of course. The Olympics wouldn't be the Olympics without some sort of controversy.

After my wander through Trafalgar Square I headed back to Mildred's for dinner. I figured I would give it another shot. It was awesome! Then I did a bit of window shopping and wandering around until my feet were ready to fall off. Then, back to the hotel.

I am ready to go home. Ready for that 10 hour flight. And Ferry ride. And sleep in my own bed. And see the kids And see my cats. And sleep in my own bed. Three more days and I will be home. Don't get me wrong, I am having so much fun I don't want to go back home and to work, but I do want to go home too.

I'm Baaaaack!

Well, it's been a while.

I have had a hell of a time with my noggin since I got back from Europe. I have had migraines, headaches, dizziness, a CT Scan, insomnia and other assorted effects from my concussion.

A couple weeks ago it was like someone flicked a switch and all of a sudden most of the nasty effects were gone. Yahoo!

Now I getting back into the swing of things. I am going to get my post from Europe finished and get all caught up. So, next up, I'm going to get me a big bowl of Vanilla Ice Cream with warmed up peaches and get clicking away with these blog posts. Ice cream makes everything easier.