Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunshine Coast Weekend

When Andy and I returned from Las Vegas, Fiona was home from university. Alex booked the following weekend off work, and we traveled to the Sunshine Coast for a family mini-holiday.

We have been staying in Andy's brother and sister-in-law's place in a little town called Half Moon Bay. Their house is gorgeous. It's perched on a cliff above the ocean. We have sat out for hours, starting with breakfast in pajamas by the sea to late evening campfire and cliff-top turkey dog roast. We have visited the Sechelt Farmers' and Artisan's market, where we bought locally grown rhubarb, that inspired a kitchen light sabre battle between Alex and Fiona, before Fiona cooked it up with delicious Robert's Creek honey (fireweed and blackberry) for dessert. Mmmmmm... Light sabre, my favourite.

We have gone walking to find access to the closest public beaches: Welcome Beach to the north, and Sargeant's Bay to the south. We have watched deer and eagles, raccoons, bumblebees and one fuzzy and very friendly caterpillar. We have read, snoozed and played Apples to Apples, all the time with the sea at our side, and a gorgeous full moon at night.

Now we are cleaning and packing to catch the evening ferry home. It has been a wonderful getaway, the opposite of Las Vegas, and just perfect for our family. I hope we will be back soon.

Question: when you go away, where do you like to go?

mompoet - grateful for these people and this place

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Las Vegas - FOR SALE

If you want something, you can buy it here and enjoy it right now - no waiting. Here are a few examples.

  • Do you want to fire a real machine gun? Yup! You can! A guy on the strip was handing out coupons to a place where you can go and pay to fire a machine gun. We did not.
  • Do you like cigars? On Fremont, there's a "cigar buffet" where you can buy "all you can smoke - $29.99"
  • Do you like buffets? The food kind I mean? You can pay to have a 24 hour pass to 6 buffets. You could eat breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks, all at different buffets. (I should say, so far we have declined all of the aforementioned opportunities.)
  • Do you want to drive a race car? Operate an earth-moving machine? Jump off a 50 storey building? Zip-line over a busy street? You can if you want to!
  • Do you want to eat at the Heart Attack Grill? If you weigh 350 pounds or more, you are in luck. Dinner is free, and there''s an industrial scale at the door to prove you are eligible. If not, you have to pay. The servers are dressed as nurses, and dinner guests wear hospital gowns. You can eat an 8 layer octuple bypass burger with flatline fries and the world's highest butterfat milkshake. Something tells me they do not have salad or veggie burger on the menu.
  • Girls! Girls! To your room in 20 minutes! When you walk down the strip, day or night, you are accosted by people flicking cards at you, with phone numbers to call to order sex trade workers to come to your room. The sex sellers are ordinary looking, probably low-paid men and women. They flick and clack their cards at you as you walk by. 
  • And of course, booze and gambling. Yup, lots and lots of those. You can walk down the street at 9 in the morning drinking a beer or a margarita. There are slot machines everywhere, maybe even in daycare centres and the public library. Well, maybe not, but I'm just saying...
I haven't bought a lot here. But it has been fun to witness what's for sale.

question: what is the weirdest thing someone has offered to sell you?

mompoet - keeping my money in my pocket (mostly)

Las Vegas - NATURE

We rented a car this morning and drove 45 minutes out of the city to Red Rock Canyon. It's a conservation area in the Mojave Desert that is breathtakingly beautiful. We spent an hour at the excellent visitors' centre, then proceeded around the 13 mile scenic drive. We saw the desert environment and gorgeous sandstone peaks all around. I think Andy took a million photographs. Along the scenic drive there are a dozen places to stop and walk around and look at things and take pictures. It was ver hot and dry, and not overrun with visitors. We saw some climbers high up on the sandstone cliffs, and caught a glimpse of a roadrunner darting across the road. It was truly spectacular.

You know at Disneyland, when you go on the desert rides like the old mining town roller coaster, and there are red stone caves and cacti and Joshua trees? It looks like that, only it's real, and it goes on for miles. Today was such a contrast from the rest of our visit, it was very refreshing.

My mind and heart are in two places, this final full day of our vacation. Fiona is in the air as I post this, flying home from university for the summer. Tomorrow, Andy and I will fly home and we will be re-united as a family. I am grateful to have spent today in a place of stark beauty.

question: where have you had your breath taken away?

mompoet - loving Red Rock

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Las Vegas - SHOWS

I will begin today's post by saying that everything here is a show. Everywhere you turn, there is someone or something to look at, from buskers to spectacles to the very interesting people walking on the pool deck or down the street. Today in the pool there was an Elvis tribute artist on vacation, I think. He was an ordinary middle-aged guy in a bathing suit, but he had the Elvis hair. It was funny to see him sitting in the water with his middle-aged wife. I guess even Elvis lookalikes go on vacation.

There are the free shows outside the hotels: a light show clock outside one hotel, dancing waters outside another, and the volcano and pirate show I talked about yesterday. There are also shows that you pay to see, with big name performers on big stages in the hotels. Andy and I have been to see two of these.

On Monday, we saw Cirque du Soleil Mystere, It was remarkable, and made even better by the fact that we were moved from our cheap seats into 3rd row seats with a breathtaking view of the show. We have never seen Cirque du Soleil before. The music, choreography, circus marvels, costumes and surreal story combined to make for an enchanting experience.

On Tuesday, we saw Jersey Boys. That was a very sweet story with great music.

Every hotel has a theatre with some big show going on. I think there are 5 different Cirque du Soleil shows alone. If we had a million dollars, we would see one every night. For now we are very happy with the two that we chose.

Tonight we are going to take the bus to Fremont Street to see the lightshow. We have heard that it is spectacular, and it's free. I think shows, free and otherwise, are one of the best things about Las Vegas.

question: have you seen any good shows lately?

mompoet - I like shows

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Las Vegas - FAKE

I will begin by saying that I intend to use the word "fake" in as neutral a fashion as possible. This post is simply about the gigantic fake things that make up the major attractions on the Las Vegas Strip. I have heard about them and seen them on TV and in photographs, and now I have seen them in person. In all their non-pejorative fakeness.

We are staying at a hotel with a fake lagoon and fake pirate ships. Four times each night. 1,000 passers-by stop to watch the "Sirens" show, in which women in lingerie battle from one ship, with a bunch of pirate men in another ship. There's a fake cannon battle and fake fires. The pirates torch the lingerie ladies' closets, and the ladies retaliate by singing fake Spice Girls songs and doing sexy dances. "Watch out you mean prates! just for that we are going to sing another sexy pop song!" SPOILER ALERT: At the end the pirates' ship sinks, and the pirates swim over to the lingerie boat where they live happily ever after.

At the hotel next door there is a fake volcano that erupts on the hour from 8pm to midnight. Down the street there is a hotel with fake Venetian canals. For $20 you can sit in a gondola and be paddled around the canals by a singing gondolier. Beside that hotel, there is a hotel with a fake Eiffel Tower and a fake Arc de Triomphe with a banner of TV chef Gordon Ramsay nearly obliterating it. That is one big banner. Farther down the strip I went inside a fake Great Pyramid, saw a fake Sphynx and a fake Statue of Liberty and a fake Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building.

On the sidewalks there are fake Disney characters, who pose with tourists for photographs for tips. There are also fake Sesame Street characters, fake superheroes, fake Star Wars characters, and a fake Elvis and a fake Zach Galafianakis. There's also a wax figure of Johnny Depp dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow. That's an ad for the wax museum, where you can see lots of fake celebrities made out of wax.

Once there was a desert. Somebody got an idea to build a city there. The city was there for no reason other than to attract people to spend money. To attract people, the city-builders made lots of interesting and unusual things. They found that this was very successful, so they kept going, which led to a place so excessively spectacular and mind-boggling in its over-the-top fakeness, you just have to give it credit for being the best and truest of all of the fakers everywhere, for all time. But I had better not say more. I am trying to remain neutral.

question: What's the most convincing fake you have ever seen?

mompoet - really

Monday, May 13, 2013

Las Vegas - BIG

It seems like a long time since I posted a blog. Here I am now, enjoying a few days with Andy in Las Vegas. He has been here several times, but I am visiting for the first time. I have always thought I wouldn't like it much here, but I am having a really good time. It is a very strange place. But being here with Andy is good, and we are having fun.

We are staying on "The Strip," a long road with hotels and shops all up and down each side. The hotels are gigantic, like no hotels anywhere else, and the are lots of them. We are staying in a medium-sized gigantic hotel that has 36 floors, each with at least 100 rooms I estimate. It could be more. Our gigantic wing on our gigantic floor has room numbers up to 100. The main floor has a casino and restaurants, so many that we have got lost already a couple of times looking for the elevator or the exit. Finding the exit is especially hard. The hotel is designed so you will spend lots of time eating, drinking, shopping and gambling in this one place. And all of the hotels seem to be like that. Andy and Iwalked into the one across the street to look around this morning and we got turned around in the winding corridors and discovered we were walking in the opposite direction from the one we intended, for at least 15 minutes, and we were still in the same hotel. We found a directory map with a "you are here" sticker. Luckily I read it carefully. It was mounted exactly opposite to reality, so left on the map was right in real life and vice versa.

Outside the road is gigantic. Mostly, you can cross the strip only on giant pedestrian overpasses that feed you back into another hotel. We found one street level crosswalk, and I counted the lanes. The strip has 8, except where it adds on turn lanes, then maybe it has 10 or 11. Each big hotel takes up at least a half off very long block on this gigantic street. Many take a whole block.

Some big things are nice. Our hotel has a lovely big pool. This is a very good thing because it is very hot outside. We have been enjoying the pool a lot. And our room is very spacious and lovely and elegant, with a big, comfy bed. When we look out our window, we can see a volcano, the canals of Venice, and the Eiffel Tower, but that's another blog post.

So you might ask, "Why do you like this place full of giant hotels?" I am not sure, but I do. Maybe I am impressed by the surreal excessiveness of it all. I am very curious about how it works, and would love to see behind the scenes. I would also like to know if there are really several thousand people staying in each gigantic hotel, or if they are mostly empty. Ours looks pretty well occupied, but there may be whole wings or floors that never see guests. I suspect nobody would tell me that. I will be looking and listening and blogging some more in the meantime.

Question: do you like Las Vegas?

Mompoet - curious about this strange gigantic place

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Originals Cafe

My friend Cathy suggested we go to Originals Cafe at Clark and Elgin in Port Moody, for a belated birthday celebration. We had read a good review of Originals here and also here, and we were curious to find out about this new family-owned business, walking distance from our homes.

It was lovely and delicious! Owners Esteban and Flor are gracious and welcoming. I have returned a half dozen times since that visit with Cathy. I have brought all of the members of my family for lunches and suppers, and I've dropped in for a latte to go on my way to Rocky Point Park.

I have some more photos, but I'm having trouble publishing them to my blog. Please be satisfied for now with this delicious tortilla soup!

question: what's good in your back yard?

mompoet - loving my back yard.

Monday, March 11, 2013

pretty enough to put flowers in

Ta dah!

question: is there anything as perfect as tulips when it's almost spring?

mompoet - reasonably rhetorical

It's not friday night in the camp kitchen

Fiona is home for a week for Spring Break. We have been enjoying a fun weekend as a family, and I have taken a couple of days off work. Our fondest wish today is for a quiet day at home. We lazed in the living room with various internet devices, coffee and breakfast, and Fiona reminded me that I have not posted my blog for over a month. So here I am!

The camp kitchen is no longer in operation. Our beautiful, wonderful new kitchen is 95% complete. I have posted a couple of photos below.

The camp kitchen has been turned back into a dining room, in time for a wonderful lettuce wrap supper tomorrow night with my parents, which is a family tradition for whenever Fiona comes home.

Cooking in our new kitchen feels like cooking at a fancy vacation home somewhere away. I remember having this feeling about our home in general when we first bought it, so I know that the newness will fade. It sure is fun right now. During this honeymoon period, even loading the dishwasher is no chore. We are happy with the choices we made, and enjoying everything new and bright and shiny and working the way it should. The extra counter space is the best part. In the old kitchen we had practically zero counter space. The new layout adds a nice 7 foot stretch of counter that we did not have before. I could cook something really long... a monster baguette? banana split for 12 people? linear nacho platter? Only time will tell.

My computer, which was formerly set up where the new counter is, has moved down to the spare bedroom in the basement. It's a nice bright room with a big east-facing window. I think I will enjoy this mini-office! I'm glad to move my often messy work station out the kitchen, but I'm glad we had "main floor computers" while Alex and Fiona were growing up. It's better for family togetherness when nobody can go hide out on the internet away from the family (including the Mom and the Dad!) Now that everyone's grown up, it's not such an issue. Besides, we have a few portable internet devices, so we can sit on the couch with iMac, iPad, laptop, iPod, and do family togetherness internet whenever we want to. I'm sure I never imagined this even 5 years ago, but it's a reality, and it works okay.

All in all, the renovation took 5 weeks. The only glitch was a faulty faucet, which necessitated a return visit from the plumber, and delayed having a kitchen sink by a few days. The most nail-biting moment was taking delivery of the gigantic refrigerator. We were not 100% sure it would fit through the door into the kitchen, but it did. The biggest inconvenience was having to wash dishes in the laundry tub in the basement. The hardest decision was choosing the cabinets. The second hardest decision was (and remains) where to put everything away. We are still switching things around in various drawers and cupboards to get just the right arrangements of kitchen tools and food storage. But that's fun. Just don't ask me where the colander is, if you are in a hurry.

And now we have a kitchen pretty enough to put flowers in. And Fiona is home for a week, enjoying it with it. Life is good.

question: have you survived a kitchen reno?

mompoet - it was really not that bad, and it was worth it!

And now for the before and after photos...

Saturday, February 02, 2013

friday night in the camp kitchen

My friend Linda gave me 3 hearts of romaine lettuce. I thought, "romaine lettuce makes Caesar salad, and Caesar salad is Alex's favourite." I felt slightly guilty, because Linda calls Caesar salad, "cheater salad," because it is often so high in fat and sodium that it is not a healthy salad at all, but an unhealthy treat. I proceeded to make a Caesar salad that I don't think anyone would call "cheater." It took a few more steps than usual in my camp kitchen, but it was worth the effort.

I grew up eating only home-made bread. Buying bread was a new adventure for me when I moved away from home. Thirty years later, I make bread at home once in a while, but I mostly buy it. I think it's okay, because I buy healthy, whole grain bread. Caesar salad is a "bread salad," because it contains croutons, which are made from bread. I make my own croutons every time I make Caesar salad, because only home-made croutons are tasty and healthy enough to be worth eating. Store-bought croutons are hard, and tiny and very salty and yukky. Home-made croutons are easy!

I took 2 slices of whole grain bread and cut them into cubes. I melted a Tablespoon of butter and mixed it with some garlic oil. If I had been working in my full kitchen, I would have used fresh garlic. I drizzled the butter over the bread cubes in a large bowl, and tossed the cubes to coat them with the garlic butter. Then I put the cubes on the pan in my toaster oven, and baked them for a few minutes until they were golden, fragrant and crispy. Now those are some croutons!

In the meantime, I thawed out some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I sliced each breast half in half again to make it fairly thin, so it would cook more quickly. When the croutons came out of the toaster oven, I put the chicken breasts in. A sprinkle of Montreal chicken spice on top was all the seasoning they needed. I baked the breasts for about 20 minutes, just until they were done. They didn't brown up, like they would in a skillet with olive oil (my favourite way to prepare chicken to top a salad), but the Montreal spice gave them some colour and texture.

While the chicken cooked, I washed and tore up the lettuce leaves. I used the same bowl that I had used to mix up the croutons, thus saving on dishwashing. I used bottled dressing, but just the tiniest bit. If I had more time, space and cookware, I would have concocted my own dressing, but it was Friday night in the camp kitchen, so bottled it was. I tossed the lettuce thoroughly with the dressing, and added the croutons (saving some for Alex, who had, alas, already left for work). Then I arranged the salad on two large plates and topped it with grated parmesan cheese, fresh-ground black pepper, and slices of the baked chicken breasts.

Oh my, it really was yummy. After supper, Andy washed the dishes (there weren't many really) in the laundry tub, and I dried them. Then we put the dishes away, and finished the bottle of Charles Shaw Merlot (aka Two Buck Chuck) that we had opened to accompany this fancy supper.

Saturday at lunchtime, I used the leftovers to make Alex his salad: more fresh romaine lettuce, a little dressing, and the croutons, re-crisped in the toaster oven because they really are good when they are still a bit warm, parmesan cheese, pepper, and sliced chicken, also warmed in the toaster oven. He ate his salade right from the big old bowl, thus saving me washing a plate. That's the fun thing about being the only one eating the Caesar salad, you get the whole bowl.

I am getting to be pretty good at this camp cooking business.

In renovation news, the drywall work is almost finished. The cabinets will be installed Wednesday and Thursday. Some time in between, Andy will finish adding tiles to the floor where the old cabinets came out, and I will paint the ceiling and Andy will paint the walls. In our spare time. YUP.

Good thing we have yummy camp kitchen meals to nourish us and keep our spirits up.

question: Is your Caesar salad a cheat? or a healthy treat?

mompoet - next post is about pulled pork

Thursday, January 31, 2013

camp kitchen crockpot supper

My friend Dave loaned me his 5-ingredient slow cooker cookbook. I copied a bunch of the recipes into my online recipe box. I have tried a couple and so far they are easy and delicious. I think I'll be using them during our renovation.

On Monday, I made Chicken and Yams with Honey Mustard Sauce.

I peeled some yams and cut them into chunks, and put them into the bottom of the crockpot with an onion, sliced up. You could use sweet potatoes instead of yams. I have tried both and they are equally delicious in this recipe. Then I put about 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs on top of the yams.

The recipe calls for a half cup of honey-mustard salad dressing. I don't use bottled dressings so I concocted my own, which technically makes this a more-than-five-ingredient recipe, but that's okay with me. Just so you know, I used the juice of half an orange, a squirt of liquid honey, a dollop of dijon mustard, a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. I poured this mixture over the chicken, turned the cooker on to low, and went to work.

The chicken was cooked to a lovely, stew-y done-ness by the time Alex had to leave for work in the late afternoon. Andy turned down the cooker and kept the supper warm until I got home.

Even though I added just 1/2 cup of liquid, enough moisture came out of the other ingredients to make a bit of a broth. When I have a stove, I drain out most of the broth just before serving, and reduce it in a saucepan, to make a richer sauce, just before serving. Having no stove, I skipped this step and it was still delicious, for supper Monday, and lunch at work on Tuesday. Even though we are using our camp kitchen, I am still bringing wonderful packed lunches to work, but that's another blog post...

question: do you use a crock pot?

mompoet - 5 ingredients (give or take) is a very good thing sometimes

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

camp kitchen

I snapped a few pictures of my camp kitchen so you can get an idea of where we are storing and preparing our food while the new kitchen is being built. Our dining room is about 8 feet by 10 feet. We took the dining room table and chairs out, and moved the refrigerator and a couple of small tables in. We moved my computer in, also, because it lived in the kitchen. It will have to find a new home (not the kitchen and not the dining room) when the reno is finished.

This is where we cook. We have a microwave and a toaster oven on a little table. Behind it is my cookbook shelf. The vitamins are on that shelf, wedged in between the books for now.
Here's some of our food, and our coffee maker and toaster oven, on what was once Andy's computer desk. The platforms for the monitor and printer come in handy for appliances and food containers.

Our dishes and foods are in rubbermaid tubs on the floor. We wash our dishes in the laundry tub in the basement. We are getting along pretty well so far, mostly because we are creative, and have good senses of humour, and it has been just a few days so far.

The good news is that the electrician came this evening and did all the work that needs to be done before the wallboard can start going up. This wonderful wiring will not show, but it will give us beautiful under-cupboard LED lights to illuminate our counters. It will also make it so we don't flip a circuit breaker every time we accidentally use the microwave and the coffee maker at the same time. TA DAH!

question: where is the weirdest place you have put a microwave oven?

mompoet - roughing it (but not really)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

the new kitchen

The other night I had a vivid dream. I was on a camping trip with my family. For some reason, I arrived at the campground before the rest of my family, with the tent and other gear in my car. The owners of the campground directed me to a spot among a bunch of other tents, inside a large building with wood floors and giant windows overlooking the water. I set up our camp, wondering, why are we camping inside a building?

Later the next day I thought about the dream, and realised that I was preparing myself mentally for our kitchen renovation. Currently we are camping inside our own house. Andy and his brother gutted the kitchen on Thursday, so it has a floor and a ceiling, but no wallboard, counters, appliances, sink, or hooked-up plumbing.

Our campsite is in our dining room. We have a microwave oven, a toaster oven, a coffee maker and our refrigerator, plus a plastic tote with basic dishes and cups, and another with cutlery. For water, we run to the bathroom or the laundry tub downstairs. It really does feel like camping indoors.

I know "what I ate" is at the top my list of top boring things to talk about:

Boring things to talk about:

5. How much I exercised
4. What happened in the bathroom
3. What happened on a TV show that I watched
2. How much I slept
1. What I ate

The exception, of course, is if you are talking about a great restaurant where you ate something really good, which is really saying, "what you might eat if you go there." The other exception is if cooking instructions or experiences are included. "What I cooked" is not boring whatsoever. But all of this is subjective.

I think I will blog some of my indoor camp cooking adventures. It they are boring you can skip these posts and go look at facebook (which is often boring but not always).

So Thursday, Andy and his brother Dave demolished the kitchen right down to the studs. They put the refrigerator in the dining room and disposed of the dishwasher and stove. I was excused from figuring out what to cook for supper, because I went out for supper with the Ladeez for Doris's birthday. We went to Aroma Restaurant on Queens Street in Port Moody. We did my favourite thing, which is to let the server choose our supper. It was super yummy. Back at home, Andy and Alex ordered from Bella Pizza in Coquitlam, which has the best pizza around.

Friday morning I had an apple and yogurt and toasted almonds for breakfast, which was easy even in a camping kitchen. I think this may be my steady breakfast through the 4 or 5 weeks that this renovation is likely to take. So I won't say anything more about breakfast unless something remarkable happens.

Alex visited me for lunch at work on Friday. I knew he would be working a long evening shift at the movie theatre, so we went to Paros Restaurant, where he chose a steak sandwich with fries and a Caesar salad. He also ate my pita bread and the baklava they so graciously provide as a complimentary dessert whenever you eat there. Andy says he also had 2 pieces of leftover pizza at home before he left for work around 5pm, so I'm sure he did not go hungry! I had the lovely augolemono soup, which is chickeny-lemony-eggy with orzo pasta in it, and a Greek salad. Mmmm

For supper for Andy and me on Friday, I made hearty tuna fish sandwiches and cut up raw veggies (carrots, jicama, cucumber). Andy and I like our tuna sandwiches with lots of celery and green onion and a bit of green relish mixed in, and lots of fresh ground pepper. Andy had his with whole grain bread. I chose Ryvita crackers. We drank beer with our supper. It was good.

We are using the microwave oven to heat water for tea, hot chocolate, and instant chicken broth (which Andy likes). I have a large and a small pyrex cup for use in the microwave. If we need to boil a pot of water for any reason, we do have a one-burner hot plate. We bought it years ago at Home Hardware in Osoyoos, when we arrived at our campground to discover we had left our campstove at home! We also have a propane barbeque on our porch. The barbeque has a side burner, so we can boil a pot out on the porch if we want to.

Friends and neighbours are very encouraging and sympathetic. Those who have experienced kitchen renovations are telling us to hang in there, it may take longer than advertised. Our dear friends Dave and Doris have invited us over for supper on Sunday. Our lovely friend Karen emailed me to say, "Come use our stove or oven any time." Karen had a kitchen reno this summer, so she is especially sympathetic.

When it's all done we will have gorgeous new cupboards and counters and brand new beautiful and efficient appliances. We hope that we will live in this house for a long time, and we plan to love this kitchen for as long as we live in this house.

In the meantime, most of the things that normally live in the kitchen are packed up in boxes in the basement, and you know you never pack up just the right things and keep out the things you will need. So far we have regretted packing the microwave egg poacher (I know where it is, and will rescue it!) and the matches (Andy found them Friday afternoon, so he could light his propane torch).

So far, so good. Alex has just gone to work this afternoon, and Andy and I are planning to visit the pub for supper tonight. So this blog may have some home camp cooking experiences, and some restaurant reviews, who knows?

question: did you ever camp out in your own house?

mompoet - living in the construction zone

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Before Fiona headed back to NJ for her spring semester of university, she requested a snowshoe trip with Grandpa and me. We headed up to Cypress Bowl, where hundreds of people were doing the same thing on a sunny winter Sunday.

We found the the snow was too compacted and slippery for our old-school snowshoes that do not have crampons attached, so we buckled them onto the backs of our packs and hiked up to the ridge, where we had lunch together before descending. I wish we could have gone higher, but we didn't have the traction gear that would make hiking farther a safe choice.

It was a great day nonetheless, and Fiona got her dose of west coast mountains and Grandpa time. I felt blessed to renew my acquaintance with snowshoeing, and share an afternoon of wonder with my father and my daughter.

 Here's Dad and Fiona, partway up the big hill at the beginning of the trail.

 My Dad provided the equipment. I was surprised to see he still has my old sitting mat, which I marked in permanent ink many years ago, as well as some snowshoes to which I laid similar claim.
 It was really gorgeous out there. I didn't get a photo of the view down to the city and the ocean, because my camera batteries quit.
What a day!

So today I bought myself a pair of new-fangled lightweight snowshoes with crampons. I can't wait to go back up, way up! I will also bring spare batteries for the camera.

question: how do you have fun in winter?

mompoet - lucky, happy, me!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

and now for a video of a baby laughing hysterically when his father rips paper

question: why is that funny (and miraculous)?

mompoet - this is the definition of rocking someone's world

Friday, January 04, 2013

it's not Christmas any more

Or so says Fiona, who has been looking at my blog, and commented that I have not posted in over a week.

Merry New Year!

We had a turkey supper at home tonight, just the four of us. We kept the fixings simple: Brussels sprouts (which are correctly spelled with an upper case B and a lower case s, or s-es if you are being particular and specific. I mean, you wouldn't want to spell is BruSSels SproutS, now would you?) We also had all dressed sweet potatoes that Andy found in the newspaper. Well, more specifically, he found the recipe in the newspaper. I bought the sweet potatoes at the produce store. If you had sweet potatoes hiding in your newspaper they might roll out and knock over you coffee while you were reading the paper. The potatoes were called "all-dressed" because they were roasted, scooped and mashed with a lot of roasted garlic (I mean a lot) and a moderate amount of butter and cheese. On second thought I guess we should call them dessert. We had mashed potatoes too, because otherwise what would you do with the gravy? And gravy. Andy is the King of mashed potatoes and gravy. I always get him to make those two parts of the meal. This is partly because he is so good at it, and partly because I do not like mashed potatoes or gravy, so I'm not a good person to judge if they are yummy or yukky because I just don't like them. Dessert will be "Naked Apple Pie," a recipe that Fiona found. It's called naked because you don't make a crust. It's the baked, spiced apples without the pastry. This sounds very yummy, especially because we do have vanilla ice cream to go with it. We are waiting for the pie to get out of the shower - oh, I mean the oven. Then we will eat it and watch Singing in the Rain because it is raining. We will gaze at the movie and avert our eyes from the pie so it doesn't think we are staring just because it is naked.

Turkey is a very easy supper to prepare, and now we have made up for the fact that Fiona didn't get a Thanksgiving turkey dinner this year. Andy and I visited her for American Thanksgiving, and we ate at a restaurant that offered a turkey dinner, but Fiona chose a spinach salad instead. I'm glad we had the turkey here, with Alex and Fiona sitting at the table with Andy and me. That's a special treat. Fiona will be home for another dozen days, but Alex works a lot of evenings, and I'm going back to work Monday, so we won't get a lot of whole family together time after this weekend. Tomorrow we will walk around downtown Vancouver together, in the rain, most likely. Alex hasn't had a Japadog yet, Fiona is going to go to a dance class in the city then meet up with us, and we all want to sit at a pub and look at the water. I want to walk around the edge of the water or perhaps up Denman Street and along Davie Street before we all gather at the pub beside the water.

In other news, we kept the Christmas tree up until January 2. I thought it would be sad to take the tree down after New Year, but it was okay. Fiona wanted the tree up for a bit longer, because she got here on the 22nd. She was out the night we took it down, so it wasn't too sad for her, and Andy helped me take it down, so it went quickly and easily. All of the boxes went straight into the crawl space, and now Christmas has disappeared, except for a cup full of candy canes, a silver bowl full of Christmas cards, and the outdoor lights on the house and their boxes on the landing. Andy will get to the lights in a few days. For now they are very pretty when it gets dark so early.

The pie just came out of the oven, so I will cease blogging for now. Christmas was lovely and low key and now it's over. We still have some warm all-together family time for the first days of the New Year.

Merry 2013, happy sweet potatoes, and look out for Brussels sprouts with uppity s-es, and pies going starkers.

question: what are the bright spots in your baby new year?

mompoet - gobble gobble