play date

So, my last blog post was on the 20th.  Eleven whole days ago.  What can I say?  I was enjoying the Christmas season!  This year, it took me FOREVER to get into the Christmas spirit.  I pretty much wanted nothing to do with Christmas (gasp, shock).  However, all those feelings melted on Christmas Eve; I love being surrounded by my family and friends (many who I only see once a year) to celebrate the holiday season.  It's magical.  From singing Christmas carols at Oma's house to laughing so hard at my In-Law's house that I almost couldn't breathe, this Christmas couldn't have been better.

That said, with all the Christmas craziness, Hubby and I really haven't had a chance to spend a lot of time together, just the two of us.  So I was so happy when we had a date night planned for last night.  It was nothing fancy, we went out for dinner and then to the play White Christmas; it was perfect.  Hubby and I have watched this movie every Christmas that we have been together, so when I saw that the Arts Club was putting on a production of this Christmas classic, I was thrilled.   It was a great night; we laughed, I cried (don't judge, it's a cute story), and, most importantly, we got to spend one of the last nights of 2010 holding hands and singing.  We ended 2010 on a high note, literally!

I hope that you all have had a great 2010, and wishing you and yours a safe and happy New Year!!!


man, oh manicotti

It has become a recent tradition that most every Sunday night Hubby and I have dinner with his parents.  We go over to their house and have a nice, home cooked, family dinner; it's such a nice way to end the weekend.  To switch things up, yesterday I invited the in-laws for dinner at our place - it gave me an excuse make Hubby's favourite dinner:  Manicotti.

I made three pans of the manicotti and I'm sure that Hubby could have finished all three by himself.  He likes it that much.

The recipe I use is from Giada De Laurentiis, however, I've modified it to suit our tastes and dietary restrictions.  I wanted to share this recipe since it's such a goodie, so enjoy!
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Manicotti (I used 1.5 packages)
  • 1 container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups freshly-grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans marinara sauce 
Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.  Once cool, pulse in a food processor for a couple of seconds, until mixture is no longer really chunky.  If you don't have a food processor, this step isn't necessary, but I find that it creates a really good texture for the filling.

Combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled (and food processed) meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese, then the remaining Parmesan  cheese over the stuffed pasta.*  Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

*The dish can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 8 hours - great for a dinner party!

lunch:  bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard - delicious

PS:  Hubby and I also went to a German Christmas Market yesterday (his idea - I love him!).  We had a blast walking around, shopping, and eating delicious food.  Great weekend!


tell me more, again

Being the completely Type-A person that I am, only coming up with 12 things in my previous post was really starting to bother me.  So, I set out to finish what I had started.  Here are 13 more things about me:
  1. I hate starting new jobs, absolutely hate it.  I hate not knowing how to use the photocopier, how to pull up the letterhead, or even how to use the coffee machine.  I am definitely not one of those people that gets antsy once they've been in a job for a little while.  I'm not saying that I like to be comfortable in my job, but I do love to be comfortable in my surroundings.
  2. I attend Jazzercise classes.  They are awesome, you should try it, and, no, leg warmers are not mandatory.
  3. When I have money I have a hard time not giving it away.  I'm always looking at things thinking "so and so would love this, I should get it for her", or "Hubby really deserves this, I'm going to buy it for him".  I really believe that if I won the lottery all of my winnings would be given away to friends and family in a matter of days.
  4. I'm still 12 years old, seriously.  I love Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and I could still watch endless amounts of Full House
  5. I love nothing more than hosting dinner parties, I guess it's the Betty Draper in me.
  6. This may sound really strange, but I believe I'm an "old soul".  I'm still on the fence about the whole past lives phenomenon, but I just have this feeling like my soul has been around for many, many years; that my body is new, but my mind and soul have existed for years beyond my age.
  7. Each time I sing O Canada in a crowd, I want to cry.  The thought of our nation banding to declare love for our beautiful country makes me so full of happiness and pride.
  8. I've never left the continent of North America.
  9. When I try and explain to other people what I do in my job, it always sounds extremely boring.  I find my job extremely interesting, yet I can never seem to make subdivision plans and title searches sound exciting.
  10. Each time I smell lavender I think about our honeymoon, and what a great time Hubby and I had.
  11. I completed the West Coast Trail when I was in grade 10.  It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I would love to go back!
  12. The best beauty tip I've ever received is to use baby oil right when you get out of the shower.  Seriously, you will never suffer from dry skin again.
  13. I have the best husband ever; he is so caring, kind, funny, supportive, and loyal that I couldn't have asked for a better partner to go through life with.  I love him more and more with each day, and I can't wait for what the future has in store for us.
There you have it, folks, 25 things about moi!

these two bring me so much joy and happiness


an open book

I have a confession to make:  I love books.  I could spend hours upon hours in Chapters just soaking up all the book-y goodness.  I know, I'm such a nerd.  However, the surprising thing is that as much as I love books, I don't read for pleasure all that often.  I blame school.  When I have to read 80 pages per week about exciting stuff like Aboriginal land claims I really don't want to pick up another book.  That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.  Lately, however, I've been reading non-stop.  To me, there is nothing better than shutting off the television and curling up with my meow meow, a cup of tea, and my delicious book.  Bliss.

During my break from school, I've decided to make a conscious effort to turn off the television and get reading.  It's amazing to me how much more relaxed and calm I feel after reading a chapter in my book as opposed to watching some mindless reality show; go figure.  I've only been out of school for a week (not even!), and I'm already one book in.  After watching the new Harry Potter movie, I couldn't resist reading the last book again.  Say what you want about the Harry Potter books, but don't knock 'em until you've read them.  They are so beautifully written and are filled with so much symbolism that you get completely engrossed in the world of Harry Potter.  They are amazing books.

After finishing Harry Potter, I moved on to a book that one of my co-workers lent me:  The Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.  I'm a total history buff, and a sucker for any books about WWII; I just started the book last night, but I know that I'm going to love this book.

For me, the best thing about books is the escape; an open book is an adventure just waiting to happen.  For however long I'm reading, I get to escape my world completely immerse myself into the lives and stories of the characters.  I'm not thinking about our mortgage, work, or what I'm going to make for dinner; I become part of the story, part of the characters, and that's something that television will never be able to give me.


giving spending the boot

I almost hate to admit this, but after writing about how material things don't bring me happiness, I went straight to the mall to buy a ridiculously expensive pair of boots.  Yep, I basically have no self control.  When I want something, I want it bad and I will figure out a way to get it, NOW. 

I left the office and walked across the street to the mall* and all I could think about was how awesome these boots were going to look on my feet.  I was outfit planning, I was thinking how awesome it was going to be to hand over my hard-earned money for these beautiful boots.  As soon as I got into the store, I felt another rush of excitement, I couldn't wait until they were mine.  I tried them on and they fit perfectly.

It was then, as I was looking at myself in the mirror, that I realized that they really wouldn't make me a happier person.  They wouldn't change my life in any way, shape, or form.  As soon as I would have walked out of the store with them, I would already be thinking about the next thing that I just HAD to have.  So, I stayed true to myself and I took them off, thanked the clerk, and walked out of the store.  I didn't spend a single penny.  The really surprising thing?  I didn't regret it at all once I got back to the office and sat down at my desk.  Actually, it was kind of the opposite, I felt GREAT that I didn't give into the temptation of beautiful boots.

beautiful boots, just like wearing slippers

To be honest, I also really have Hubby to thank for my self-restraint.  I could imagine the look on his face when I told him how much I paid for foot wear that looks like giant wool socks.  I just couldn't put the poor guy through that kind of shock.

Another day, another life lesson learned.

*This is where my bad shopping habits come from.  I work beside a mall and I spend every lunch hour there. Can you blame me?


tell me more, tell me more

I recently found my self in a social situation where somebody I don't really know asked me to tell him about myself.  Awesome.  My mind instantly went blank and the most interesting thing that I could say was "I grew up in Squamish".  Riveting.  I've been thinking about this situation a lot over the past couple of days (I'm such an idiot), and, in doing so, I realized that it's really, really hard to tell people about yourself.  It also made me think about this silly thing that went Facebook viral a couple of years ago; it was simple, all you had to do was write 25 things about yourself.  I LOVED reading all the lists, and writing my own; I was always surprised to learn something new about my friends.

So, I decided to do it again, using different things about me.  Here is what I came up with:
  1. At times, I can be a pretty jealous person.  I really never thought that I was, but lately I've found myself becoming really jealous of others. However, I've also found something that combats the jealousy: admitting it.  Yep, if I "own" my jealousy and actually admit to others that I'm completely jealous, all those envious feelings fade, and I can just be happy for the person.  Lululemon, you're right again: Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to.
  2. Things that scare you are actually the best things for you.  Example: Pie crust.  Once I accomplished something that scared me, I had so much confidence that I felt that I could do anything; ok, maybe not anything, but you get the point.
  3. I've changed a lot in the past number of years.  I'm different.  My priorities are different.  I'm a (eek!) grown up!  I've definitely changed for the better; I'm more confident in who I am, and I'm an all-around happier person.
  4. I'm completely addicted to my iPhone, which makes me think about those families on Oprah who give up their "stuff" for 48 hours...I just might have to challenge myself to leave my phone at home for a day.  This is making me squirm just thinking about it...
  5. Having a creative outlet is awesome for my soul.  I never realized how much I actually enjoy writing until I started blogging.
  6. I'm a total cat person.  I never thought that I would see the day, but it's here.
  7. I'm constantly trying to be a better person.  Not that I think I'm a terrible person, by any means, but I do believe that there is always room for improvement.
  8. Even though marriage doesn't really change anything, I can't imagine anything better (except for kids).  Ever since Hubby and I have gotten married, things are the same as before, except better.  I can't explain it, and I have no idea what it is, but something is different, and it's awesome.  Trust me, it's not all sunshine and rainbows, but it is pretty amazing.
  9. I need to travel.  My travel bug grows each day, and I can't wait until 2012 when Hubby and I can actually get the heck outta here!
  10. Material things don't make make me a happier person.  Period.  Would my life be any different without my Jimmy Choo shoes, Macbook, or Coach purse?  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  Now, if only I can remember this as I'm standing in the store drooling over the beautiful shoes...
  11. I ache to be a parent.  I want to have kids.  Right now.  However, it really, really scares me.  What will happen to my job, my career, while I'm on maternity leave?  How will we be able to support ourselves, and our family, while I'm not working?  I don't do well when I don't get a good night's sleep, how will I ever survive as a parent?  I know, I need to stop worrying; we will survive, and my job will be here when I come back.
  12. If you haven't already noticed, I love commas and exclamation points!  I may or may not have a problem!  I also have mad respect for the semicolon.

yep, total cat lover now

So, I didn't exactly get 25 things, but I thought that 12 was pretty good.  I also realized that most of these aren't really random things about me, but things that I've learned since writing my previous list.  It's actually kind of neat to see how much I've changed in the past couple of years.


a festivus weekend

This past weekend was filled with so much festive excitement that I can't believe it's Monday already.  The first festive activity was my firm's annual Holiday Christmas Party.  I love these parties, they are always a lot of fun, however, this year was extra-special because one of my co-workers let Hubby and I spend the night in the hotel room that she rented.  It was a BEAUTIFUL room with the most spectacular view that I've ever seen.  I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Friday night.

this picutre just doesn't do the view justice

Satruday, my Mom and I did some cross-border Christmas shopping.  I managed to spend all of my Christmas bonus, but I finished ALL of my Christmas shopping.  Man, that feels good.  It was a long day, but it was so nice to spend the entire day shopping with my Mom.

we couldn't resist trying the eggnog truffle.  it was as delicious as it sounds

Sunday, the festive weekend continued, as Hubby, his parents, and I went to the Santa Clause Parade.  I love going to this parade, and I'm so glad that it's an annual tradition with Hubby and his family.  We got all bundled up, grabbed some festive drinks from Starbucks, and watched the floats, bands, and Santa Clause himself, march through the streets of Vancouver.  I love watching how excited all the little kids get at the sight of Santa, it makes me really excited to have kids; really, really excited.

We've also finished putting up all of our Christmas decorations; written, addressed, and sent all of our Christmas cards; and planned all the festive activities that we want to attend.  I love getting all the "stuff" (decorating, cards, shopping)  done early so that Hubby and I can relax and enjoy the holiday season.

Ho Ho Ho!


not-so-humble pie

Yesterday was such a great day; not only did I get to spend the day with family, but I also got to cross an item off of my life list!  What a great feeling to accomplish something that I've been nervous about for so many years.

Yes, folks, I successfully made an apple pie.  From scratch.  Crust and everything.  I know that this definitely isn't something that many people would consider a great accomplishment, but it was my Everest.  Ok, that might be stretching it, but it made me nervous just thinking about it.  For some reason I thought it was so difficult to make; I've heard so many people say "I've tried everything, but for whatever reason, I just can't successfully make pie crust".  Not me, not anymore!

so pretty!

Now, none of this would have happened if it wasn't for my wonderful mom.  She guided me through every step, and assured me that her recipes was, indeed, no fail.  She was right.  I really shouldn't have doubted myself while I had her helping me;  she will never admit it, but she is an awesome baker (shut up Mom, you are!) and always has been!

is there anything better than apples, cinnamon, and sugar?  no, no there isn't...

Hubby and I are taking the pie to our friends' house for dessert tonight and I can't wait to share my success with our wonderful friends!

I don't think Martha could've done any better.  actually, knowing her, I bet she could have...


savour the date

I'm so excited for tonight; not only is today Friday, but it's also date night!

I often forget the importance of scheduling a date night with Hubby every so often.  I honestly think that the last time we went out, just the two of us, was for our anniversary in September.  How sad is that?

So, when Hubby suggested that we go out tonight I thought it was an absolutely wonderful idea!  Our date nights are nothing fancy by any stretch of the imagination (usually we just go out for dinner and then see a movie), but they are perfect.  They fit nicely within our budget, yet they always bring us so much joy.  All week we've both been looking so forward to spending time together tonight.

Hubby and I at J&J's wedding

The million-dollar question is:  Why do we wait so long in between date nights?  These special nights make us feel so happy and connected that we should really be doing them more often, yet, we don't.  Or, is it the fact that they are so rare that makes them special?  Who knows, but in any event, tonight is going to be awesome!


nothin' says Christmas like steel drums

I'm back!! Feeling better and ready for Christmas!

With our first snowfall of this year this past weekend, I organized all my Christmas music and transferred it onto my iPod.  My commute is now filled with the sounds of the season; it really makes going to work that much more fun!

I have to say though, I'm pretty picky when it comes to Christmas music.  I know what I like, and certain songs or types of Christmas music just don't do it for me.  I love the classics; it's so comforting to hear Dean Marin tell his Baby it's cold outside, or Frank Sinatra wishing everyone to have a merry little Christmas.  Yes, the classics are wonderful, however, I also like songs or albums that incorporate a fun twist on the classics, I love the album called Christmas Remixed - it's so awesome!

you know all those trendy remixed carols on the Joe Fresh commercials?  you'll find them in this album!

The ultimate Christmas album for me?  Definitely Chiristmas with Boney M.  The songs on this album instantly transport me back to Christmas as a kid; somethin' about the steel drums mixed in with the Christmas carols makes me feel like I'm 10 again.  Another reason why I like this album is becuase it contains what I believe to be the greatest Chrstmas song ever written:  Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord.  If you've never experienced this song, I urge you to listen to it this season.  If nothing else, this song will make you want to jump up and dance; yes, it's that awesome. 

best. chrstmas. album. ever.

My family and friends also share my love for this song.  It's become a recent tradition among our group of friends to get together during the holidays, cook a turkey, drink martinis, and sing and dance to this song.  No lies, the song probably gets played AT LEAST twenty times during the night.  It's epic.

I love Christmas!


kleenex is my new best friend

Life changes, sometimes rapidly.

kleenex, oj, and vicks vapour rub - nothing better for a cold

At 4 am this morning I woke up with a full-blown head cold.  No warning, nothing.  I should have expected it though, as Hubby has been sick all week - there is no way that I could stay healthy while he is constantly coughing and sneezing .  Still, not impressed; I had big plans - French Apple Cake plans.  So, I dragged myself into the office at 6 am, completed all the work that I needed to get done, and then came home and fell asleep on the couch.

who wouldn't want to nap with this?

The thing is, I was really looking forward to all the new and exciting things that I was going to accomplish with all this freedom, and now all those things are on the back burner.  Oh well, life happens and the cake can wait.  This weekend is looking like it will be full of hot tea, fluids, movies, and cat naps.


freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better

Lately, my life has been filled text books, projects, and supreme court cases (oh my!).

yes, that's right, I'm taking Aboriginal law - ugh

I'm not finished the semester (my final isn't until December 8th), however, I have now completed BOTH of my projects for the course.  I didn't realize how much all these school deadlines were weighing down on me, but now that they are done I feel absolutely FREE - what a wonderful feeling!

best homework helper ever

I feel like I have my life back, so after reading an inspiring quote, I decided that I couldn't let all this delicious free time go to waste; I needed to challenge myself with new and exciting things.  Suddenly, the message printed on my lululemon water bottle was pounding in my head: "do it now, do it now, do it now"!

So I'm doing it now, er, tomorrow.  My plan is to make a French Apple Cake to take as dessert for our dinner date with friends on Friday.  French Apple Cake, really?  I know.  This is huge for me.  I'm not a baker, I never thought that I would buy a springform pan much less actually USE it.

Stay tuned, I'll let you know how it goes :)


the gift of love

A little over a year ago, I received one of the best gifts from a bunch of my wonderful girl friends!  It's a book called 101 Nights of Grrreat Romance.  This isn't a regular book, but an ACTIVITY book, and it's awesome!  The book is filled with perforated pages (that you and your significant other take turns opening up) which contain instructions for some romantic surprise that you have to do for the other person.  The whole idea is that you don't let the other person know when you have opened one of the pages, and they get an unexpected surprise!

I love, love, love doing the "tasks" in this book; it makes me feel so awesome to do something so romantic and thoughtful for Hubby, and it's not bad being on the receiving end of the tasks either!

I wanted to share one of the surprises that I did for Hubby, as I thought this was so simple, yet brought so much love and happiness to both of us.  After opening the page called "The Write Moment", I was instructed to write and send to Hubby a list of reasons why I love him.  So, I got writing.  There were little things (I love you because you kill spiders) and big things (I love that you love my family and consider them your own), but all were reasons why I love him so, so much.  After I finished, I emailed the list to him at work, hoping that it would brighten up his day.  Well, he LOVED it, and I loved writing it; actually sitting down and writing out exactly why I love him was an amazing feeling.

true love

I really encourage you to do this for your significant other; it doesn't have to be long, but you'll soon find that once you start writing, it's hard to stop.  Even if your list only contains five reasons, that special person in your life will be so happy to receive such a romantic and meaningful gesture, especially if it's unexpected!

PS:  Hubby was so inspired by my list, he also wrote out a list for me - it still makes me cry when I read it :)


a day of remembrance

Remembrance Day is one of the many moments each year where I'm especially proud to be the wife of an Officer serving with the Canadian Forces.  I happily stand (usually in the freezing, cold rain) among my fellow citizens and remember those who have fought, and are currently fighting, for our freedom.

Yes, I don't get to spend Remembrance Day at home, in my pyjamas watching movies, my day is spent visiting various armouries and legions, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I get to stand beside my husband (who looks oh so handsome in his uniform!) and proudly introduce myself as his wife.  Also, since most of our friends are also in the military, the day always includes being surrounded by good friends.

This Remembrance Day, please don't forget to take a moment at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month to remember those who fought, and are currently fighting, for our awesome country!


just you and me at the b&b

the honeymooners

After our wedding last year, our wonderful friends surprised Hubby and I with a honeymoon at a Bed and Breakfast on the Sunshine Coast.  Just thinking about this trip brings tears to my eyes, I can't even believe what an absolutely wonderful gift this was.  Hubby and I, just the two of us, as husband and wife.

Lately, I've been thinking about this trip a lot, as it was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life.  The trip itself was nothing extravagant or glamorous, but it was 100% perfect.  We got to spend three whole days with each other while exploring the beach, eating delicious food and drinking fine wine, reading our books, and reflecting on our beautiful wedding.  It was so nice to take a relaxing break from the craziness of the wedding, with no cares in the world.

Whenever I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is think about this special time that Hubby and I shared, and I'm instantly bursting with feelings of love, joy, and happiness.  I truly have wonderful friends, a fantastic husband, and an amazing family - what more could I possibly ask for?


bucket list

To be honest, I don't really like the term "bucket list" - I don't want to think about kicking the bucket.  However, I do really like the idea of making a list of all the things that you want to do in your life.  I'm going to call mine, "My Life List".  So, here it is:

  • Visit Egypt and explore the inside of an ancient tomb.
  • Zip treck!
  • Host Christmas dinner for our whole family.
  • Attend an Olympic event.
  • Be a mother (no, fur babies don't count!).
  • Successfully make a pie crust from scratch.
  • Learn not to take what others do or say personally.
  • Travel to Germany and visit family.

My list is small as I plan to add to it slowly.  I only want to add things that have real meaning to me; things that I would be really disappointed about if I didn't accomplish in my life time.  Some are big dreams, some are little, but it doesn't matter - these are all things that I aspire to do!

Germany v. Sweden - February 17, 2010



Isn't it funny how sometimes certain songs just speak to you?  The other morning I was in my usual 7 am i-Pod coma, when the song "Mushaboom" started playing.  I've heard the song a million times (at least, it's one of my favourites!), but on this day, the words really resonated to how I've been feeling lately.  The first two verses are my life, at this very moment:

Helping the kids out of their coats
But wait the babies haven't been born oh
Unpacking the bags and setting up
And planting lilacs and buttercups oh

But in the meantime we've got it hard
Second floor living without a yard
It may be years until the day
My dreams will match up with my pay

Hubby and I have been talking lately.  Not just any talks, but real talks, life-changing talks. We are trying to figure out our future - where we see us, our family, in the years to come.  It all seems so surreal, we are making decisions that are in the best interests of our children.  Ya, we definitely don't have any kids yet - and we won't be having kids for another couple of years; that is, if everything goes to plan.  Sure, it's a lot to think about, but we're both excited for what the future has in store for us.  We currently live in a one-bedroom apartment (yes, on the second floor, just like the song!) and we are dreaming of the day that we can buy a bigger home.  We dream of a yard, stairs, and more that 671 square feet to call our home.

It will be a couple of years until our dreams match up with our pay, however, in the meantime, I've got a wonderful man to stick it out, and make a home of our little space.  We'll collect the moments one by one, as I'm sure - years from now - we'll look back on this time in our lives and remember all the great times we've shared in our tiny apartment.


mining rocks!

This past summer, while Hubby and I were visiting the Maritime Museum in Victoria, we realized that we both really enjoy visiting different museums.  So, we decided that we should start taking advantage of the different museums and attractions that Vancouver has to offer.
We figured that we should stick to our plan, so just over a month ago Hubby and I (along with our bestest friends M & J) visited the Britannia Mine Museum.  I had been once before, but that was many, many years ago when I was in elementary school, so the experience was pretty much new to all of us. 

 If you've ever driven to Squamish or Whistler, you will have (probably) noticed the massive white structure from the road.  This is known as Mill No. 3 and is the mine's old concentrator which was used to separate the copper from the rock.

Mill No. 3 is pretty neat, but I have to say that the coolest part of the museum is the fact that you actually get to go into the mine itself.  You hop aboard a train which takes the group deep inside the mining tunnel and, once inside, the tour guide demonstrates the different tools and machines that the miners used - pretty cool!

During the time that we spent inside the mine, I kept imagining what it would be like to work in this environment; how hard it would be to spend your day in a damp, dark, and cramped space.  This experience was also personal for me as my Opa spent a number of years working at the Britannia Mine.

Apart from the Mill and the mine tour, there are lots of other interesting things to discover and explore.  You can pan for gold, view rare and gorgeous gems in the Mineral Gallery, and even watch a short video on the history of the mine. 

It was a really neat experience and a fun weekend activity.  If you've never been (or haven't been in a number of years) I encourage you to check it out!


christmas? bring it!

I officially started my Christmas shopping this past weekend and realized something - once Halloween is over, people immediately start thinking about Christmas.  Unlike our neighbours to the south, we don't really have a holiday in between Halloween and Christmas.  Yes, there is Remembrance Day on the 11th, however, it's not the type of holiday where you get the family together and carve up a turkey.  It's usually spent lounging around the house, soaking up the goodness that one can only feel when it's Thursday and you're not at work (unless, you're in the military - more on that later).
So yes, most of us moan and complain when we see that stores are setting up their Christmas stock and decorations mid-October.  This is definitely how I felt the other day when I spotted my first Christmas tree of the year.
However, I have to admit that I love that the SECOND Halloween is over, the Christmas season is in full swing.  I know that a lot of people cringe at the thought of braving the cold (and sometimes snowy) weather and to push their way through a crowded mall in the search of the perfect gifts for their loved ones, but it brings me so much joy.  I can't wait until all the stores start playing Christmas music, until our schedules are jam-packed with various festive events, and the best of everything - the Christmas Train!!

So, Christmas season starting November 1st? Bring it!



Hubby and I never really do anything to celebrate Halloween.  Actually, even growing up Halloween was not my favourite holiday - I much preferred to stay home, all warm and cozy, rather than trick-or-treating.  However, every year, I donned my costume (Catwoman = Best. Costume. Ever.) and braved the cold in search of delicious treats!  The best part was coming home and spreading all your goods over the floor and surveying your bounty.

As I've gotten older, I much prefer the "simple" Halloween (hanging out at home and answering the door for little trick-or-treaters) rather than attending a party at a friend's house.  Although, I do have to admit that I'm looking forward to the day when I can live vicariously through my children and help them pick out costumes and take them door to door to collect their sweets.

This year Hubby and I will be spending Halloween with family at his parent's house, handing out treats to the ghosts, goblins, and little princesses of the neighbourhood - and I can't wait :)

So, here is my Halloween treat for you, not candy, but some festive trivia:
The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day - neat!


there's somethin fishy goin on

Once of my favourite chefs is Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  I find that I always really like her simple and fresh recipes; good everyday food that is also fancy enough to serve to your guests!  Tonight I made Ina's Mustard Roasted Fish - it was a super easy and yummy weeknight dinner!

·         4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         8 ounces creme fraiche
·         3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
·         1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
·         2 tablespoons minced shallots
·         2 teaspoons drained capers
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

PS:  I really like halibut, so I used that instead of red snapper.  Also, I didn't have creme fresh, whole grain mustard or capers on hand, so I substituted with sour cream, honey Dijon mustard and lemon zest and juice.  The lemon gave the sauce a nice freshness and I would definitely add it again.

PPS: I was worried that this dish would have a strong mustard favour, however, the sour cream lightened the flavour nicely.  I served the dish with roasted asparagus and fresh bread - delicious!

bakin' a mess in the kitchen

Admittedly, I'm not much of a baker. Actually, much to the dismay of Hubby, I only bake a couple times a year - if he's lucky! I would much rather spend hours trying our new recipes for savoury appetizers and dinners than make a batch of cookies. These past couple weeks, however, I've been baking up a storm!
It all started when I had a craving for key-lime pie. I knew that finding key limes, however, would be next to impossible; after some googling, I found this recipe for a not-so-key-lime pie, and it was YUMMY!!


dreamin' of deutschland

Oh, 2012, you can't come quickly enough!

Last month Hubby and I decided that we would start saving for a trip to Germany.  Actually, we're hoping to visit 3 countries - France, Germany, and Italy - during our 3 week vacation.  We decided that before we take the next step and become parents (eek!), we feel the need to feed our travel bugs.  From the second that we started talking about it, my mind was all the way across the Atlantic, dreaming of places that I've wanted to visit ever since I can remember.

So, being the hyper-organized and easily excited person that I am, I quickly got to work creating an itinerary and budget for our trip.  Of course, since the trip is so far away, it's hard to plan out an exact itinerary, but I've roughed out one to give us an idea of how much we need to save in order for our dreams to become a reality.  We've got a year and a half to scrimp and save every extra penny - and I can't wait!!


mmmm, wine

Just a little over a week ago, Hubby and I invited six of our wonderful friends over to our place for a chic wine and cheese night.  I wanted to test this out on our close friends, just in case I failed miserably...however, the night was a total susccess!!  The night itself was easy, however, it did take a lot of planning and preparation to make it successful.

Weeks in advance I studied the different varietals of wines and put together a shopping list and budget.  I started purchasing the bottles many weeks in advance as buying eight bottles of wine all in one shot would really put a hole in my pocket.  Once I selected which wines we would be tasting, I then researched to see what types of cheese paired well with those wines. 

I chose to do the tasting blind - meaning, I covered the wines in brown paper bags so that we didn't know what type (or how expensive) the wine was.  I found that this added a very interesting dynamic to the tasting.  Wouldn't it be funny if somebody was CONVINCED that they hated Chardonnay, but that's the wine that they liked best after the blind tasting?  Also, I think that if you do the tasting this way it really forces you to use your imagination and be creative with the tastes and smells.

In the end, our guests had a really great time.  Everybody wrote their own notes during the tasting, and discussed before revealing the true identities of the wines.  It was neat to see all the reactions when the wines were finally revealed.  It was a classy night that was a nice break from the same old thing - so if you're interested, try it! After all, what could be better than good friends, fine wine, and delicious cheeses?

PS:  Because we're on a budget, I asked all of our guests to bring $20 to cover the cost of the wine.  Hubbby and I covered the cost of the cheese and the appetizers ourselves.  Our guests were more than happy to pay the $20, and I had sooooo much cheese left over after that I sent everybody home with a care package full of delicious cheese and crackers - happy friends and no waste!

PPS:  I rented a pack of 10 wine tasting glasses from Lonsdale Event Rentals, just to add a touch of class and becuase they were really inexpensive ($5/10 pack).