Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Details

Since that delicious and relaxed I-just-got-back-from-vacation feeling is beginning to wear off, I thought I had better finish this post before the fun details flitt from my head. So, as promised, details under the correct headings:

Vancouver's Stanley Park / Aquarium
I loved that this park is a HUGE area right outside of the city. It was within walking distance of our hotel and we had a good time exploring it. Something we noticed about Vancouver was that "touristy" areas were also local areas. Yes, there were plenty of tourists in the park, but it looked like several locals as well - there were areas to bike, run, play cricket, picnic and beach. We also were impressed with the Aquarium which had a really interesting section devoted to the sea life of British Columbia. It was interesting to me because I had never associated the frigid waters of BC with colorful sea life. It was so beautiful to see the anemones, star fish and other species which live in this part of the world.
Not being a huge fan of heights or walking on shaky items, I wasn't really sure I would like this tourist attraction in North Vancouver. However, I found the whole park to be really well done. There were a variety of wooded areas with huge old trees. The signage telling about the variety trees and the environment were tasteful and educational. Actually, the suspension bridge was really just an interesting way to get to the rest of the park. There was nothing scary about walking across it, although I was definitely unsteady on my feet.
The difference between a Bloody Mary and a Caesar
Okay, I guess I should have known this from my Canadian cousins, but I didn't realize that Bloody Mary's are not common in Canada. What do you people do for morning drinking occasions? Evidently, what they do is whip up a couple of Ceasars. This drink is made of clamato rather than from V8 or tomato juice. When this was explained to us at brunch one morning, I immediately passed. I remember reading somewhere that clamato has large amounts of MSG it and already being dehydrated from consuming large amounts of coffee and beer, but no water, I wasn't about to mess with a MSG incident on vacation. No such bells went off for Chris, but they should have because clamato is made of tomatoes and clam juice and the poor boy is allergic to shellfish. I failed to mention this before he ordered one, but I watched him closely and he was fine. So either, he isn't all that allergic or there isn't enough clam for him react to in clamato. One takeaway, we have from the drink is the yummy rim of celery salt and pepper. Yummy idea for the next tailgating Saturday.

Meltdown on a Moped
Let me take this opportunity to explain, for those of you who don't know me, I am not mechanically inclined. I seem to have trouble communicating with machines. So that's the preface of this little incident.

We took a ferry from near Bellingham, WA to Friday Harbour, a cute little touristy sea town. (Side note here: don't you love how all coastal areas seem to take on the same feeling of nostalgia and odd characters around each bin? I do, in fact, my dream for several years was to chuck it all and move to Key West.) As we were exploring the little town, Chris mentioned wanting to rent mopeds and cruise around. I wasn't too into this idea, but thought what the heck, I'll try it. He pointed out that 14 year-old boys regularly ride these things and they're no big deal. Uh huh. So up the hill we trek, fill out paperwork releasing the company of all responsibility and are fitted for helmets. I couldn't really see out of my helmet, but whatever, on the moped I hop where I learn the route we will be taking includes 45 mph roads and the bikes only go 35 mph. Getting a little nervous now. The instructions are barked rather quickly, clutch here, throttle here, front brakes left, back brakes right, don't use the front alone, don't use the back with the throttle (or something like that). Getting a little more nervous now. Next we learned how to kick start the engines, which consisted of me gently stepping on a lever or hitting it too hard. I couldn't find a happy medium. Getting frustrated and nervous now. Okay, bike started, now practice going through the parking lot. Couldn't so much do that without taking off like a bullet and then not remembering how to brake. Now getting nervous, frustrated and pissed. Instructor now just getting nervous. Try the whole throttling thing again, no such luck. Now almost in tears. Shout to Chris, "I'm not doing this" and I run off. I think they were pretty glad to see me go.

Lummi Facial
We stayed at an Indian casino in Bellingham run by the Lummi Nation. The spa at this little place was great and after the whole moped thing I really needed some chill time. For my money, a facial is the best spa value. You get a fair amount of massage along with great skin, who can beat that?

Why it is probably a good idea to go ahead and spring the extra $30 for the GPS in the rental car
I'm not going to explain this one too much, just take my word for it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We're Back

Our trip to Vancouver / Bellingham, WA was such a great getaway. It was nice, not only to spend quality time together uninterrupted by work and wedding plans, but it was also special to be able to experience someplace new together.

I'll try to post pictures in the next several days and also write more complete entries about these high (or low) points:
  • Vancouver's Sydney Park / Aquarium
  • Capliano suspension bridge
  • The difference between a Bloody Mary and a Cesar
  • Border Crossings and maybe not what to say while there
  • Meltdown on a Moped
  • Lummi Facial
  • Why it is probably a good idea to go ahead and spring the extra $30 for the GPS in the rental car

Friday, August 24, 2007

Northwest Adventue

Do you remember this, wherein Chris and I decided to try the new Skybus airline and take a short trip to Vancouver? Well, that time is finally here. We leave tomorrow for 4 days of relaxation. I think I am already in vacation mode, as I am sitting here with a beer rather than doing laundry and packing.

I'm excited to try the airline (a full report will be forthcoming), see Vancouver and Washington state (I'll try to post pictures) and just chill out (I might book a massage at one of the hotels we are staying at).

Usually my vacations are somewhat manically planned, but I've been so busy lately, that this one is just going to have to unfold. I know I have a place to sleep while I'm there (I made the hotel reservations last month); and Chris has Google Mapped directions from the airport to the hotel and rented a car, but otherwise we're winging it. That's actually kind of freeing - to just do what we want, when we want without worrying about an itinerary or getting everything in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Requiem for a Green Skirt

A few weekends back I noticed a ragged hole in one of my favorite skirts. My green peasant skirt has been with me for a few years and quickly earned a favorite place in the weekend summer wardrobe. The skirt originally came with a matching top which I never wore together, because it was a little TOO green as an ensemble. I was actually wearing the top with jeans the night Chris and I reconnected, but since then the top has become a little too little, so to speak. Still this post is about the demise of the skirt, not of the top.

Somewhere in the back of my head I know people shouldn't really mourn articles of clothing, but ,oh, how I adored this skirt. Being a peasant skirt, it had an elastic waist and was full and flowy and easy to wear. In it I felt put together, yet whimsical. I had it on the first (and only) time I was brave enough to attend a festival on my own. Later that day the skirt and I had drinks on my patio with an ill-advised romantic interest (skirt lasted much longer than he did!). In fact, the skirt has gone along on many dates, because this green skirt was a natural paired with a little white tee or a lacy tank and could go from dinner to drinks to a walk in the park without missing a beat. The skirt is also more well-traveled than many people I know, having been to dinner with a good friend in Florida, honky-tonkying in Tennessee and exploring the strip in Nevada. It didn't take up much room in a suitcase and wrinkles either fell right out or added to the allure.

The skirt was never really stylish - I bought the outfit at one of my very few trips to Burlington Coat Factory. However, I really liked that it wasn't trendy or "in" because it was something better: it was me, it felt good and I liked wearing it.

Let's all have a moment of reflection, if not for my green skirt, then for a piece of clothing you have formed an emotional attachment to. RIP, green skirt, RIP.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dog Days

Did you know the term dog days of summer has nothing to do with dogs so hot they stick their tongues out and pant? I always assumed dog days meant the dogs were uncomfortable, because clearly they are. However, the term evidently actually comes from the Native Americans who noticed Sirius, the dog star, comes out this time of year.

Regardless of what the term means, it is clear we're in that time period - or at least I am. I've been MIA from the blog, because I have just been tired. Work, house renovations and wedding planning are kicking my butt. The heat, humidity and rain aren't helping my mood or energy level any. I'm trying to get back in the groove by falling the Weight Watchers program again. All those fruits, veggies and whole grains not only helped keep my weight in check, but also kept me from feeling like a slug. I'm also getting into walking or yoga each night (except tonight, oops). And I've checked invitations and bridesmaid shoes off the wedding to do list.

So that's progress for these dog days.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


After a damn hot week, made more miserable by the lack of functioning air condition at work, 5 p.m. Friday finally arrived. I headed straight to my local Asian nail place for a much needed pedicure. I managed to talk my friend Julie into joining me. This was no small feat (no pun intended), since she isn't really a girly girl, but she came along (compromising by picking out brown nail polish). It was so much fun! Being a wordy, part of the fun of pedicures for me is the names of the OPI colors - I'm currently wearing Kennebunk-Port (it's a deep red color).

After toes were dry and we were sufficiently relaxed, we headed to the patio of Vaquero's for pitchers of margaritas and tacos. Yum! Chris met us there and we had a great time. So good, in fact, that the waiters kept trying to get us to leave the table.

Chris and I then headed to Kohls where I found an adorable shirt to the wear to the family reunion / shower this weekend. It is a Love is shirt and while I did find it in the juniors section, I think it is beyond perfect for a wedding shower.

This morning, we headed to the Farmer's market for the ritual iced coffee and fresh produce. I was able to meet local favorite blogger Lisa, who gave me the idea of marinating watermelon in balsamic vinegar. Chris and I then carried a watermelon home. Later today we take off for Wooster where family, fun and blueberries await.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cukes not Nukes

Don't worry, while this post will deal primarily with cucumbers, I will not be discussing nuclear proliferation. It's hot and I don't want to think, so easy rhyming is winning out over witty titles.

I planted about 5 cucumber plants. Turns out this was a big mistake because cucumber plants are very hardy and like to spread out. Our cute little 5 plants have morphed into huge flowing viney monsters. I keep having to rescue parts of the tomato plants from the twisty vines of the cucumbers. Today I picked 4 rather large cucumbers. Earlier in the season, I tried to get the cukes off the vine before they got large. Now I'm lucky if the little suckers get picked at all because they are hiding under massive leaves.

Also earlier in the season there was a sense of excitement in picking cucumbers (I grew this!). Now I think who can I pawn this off on? My parents got the earliest batch. My grandmother got a few two weekends ago. Chris and I have both taken loads of cucumbers to unsuspecting co-workers. Since the news keeps telling me to check in on elderly neighbors in this heat, I just walked a couple across to the street to our neighbor Betty. And for all my aunties and cousins out there: expect a large cuke / onion salad at the reunion this weekend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It Is a Dilemma

I recently started going back to the library, so I've been reading books I've been interested in for a couple of years, but never wanted to actually buy. This is ironic because the first book I checked out, I do now want to own. It's the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The basic premise of the book is what are you going to have for dinner and do you know where it comes from? Pollan takes four meals and traces them through the food chain. It's really very interesting and Chris (who is also reading the book - whenever I'm not) and I have had several interesting conversations about this.

Primarily, these conversations revolve around HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I've been on a crusade against this stuff for several years - it is in everything (go look in your pantry) and it's not very good for you. I've recruited Chris to be on the lookout for HFCS and you should see us trying to buy bread at the store, it would be rather comical if it wasn't so frustrating. Anyway, the book goes into detail about why / how there is so much corn in the modern American diet. It is really scary, not because corn is inherently bad, but because of how the corn is processed and then snuck into foods you wouldn't think it to be in (really, go look).

What makes something organic is also something the book covers. Geesh, I was off here. I had the idea that organic chickens were frolicking through fields, turns out according to Pollan, they are in a feedlot with "access" (a small door) to the outside for the last two weeks of their lives. Now, I'm not so sure organic is the gold standard it is made out to be for chickens or for anything else.

We've also talked about the American diet in general. Pollan points out that Americans are suffering from one large collective eating disorder - first all carbs, then no carbs, then high protein, then good carbs - no one knows what to eat anymore. I think this is one problem, but I think the broader problem is that low income people don't have access to good quality food. It's a whole lot cheaper for a mom to go to the store and buy chips, soda and Spaghetti O's rather than milk, fruit, veggies and high quality protein. It's sad really.

For something so important to our daily lives - food - we don't know much about where it comes from or how it is affecting our bodies or our environment. I would really recommend this book. It's been a really eye-opening book for me and has challenged some ideas I just took for granted. So in response to all this confusion on what to eat for dinner, I ate a bag of sour gummies.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's August. You might have known that, but can you tell me how that happened? Gah. August. It has never been one of my favorite months. It's hot. It is also sad because it signals the end of summer. No more pools. No more getting away with a ponytail and flip flops as high couture. No more fresh produce. No more hypnotic click of the ceiling fan. Fewer mojitos.

Oh, well, at least it is the beginning of August and we have 31 days to enjoy it. I'm doing my part by typing in a bikini and sipping cucumber and mint infused water. Yum. I heart August.

For a day brightener, try indulging in these - all of which have official August days. Ice Cream Sandwich (August 2), S'mores (August 10), Creamsicle (August 14), Waffle (August 24).