First Camping trip of 2017

There’s been a lag in my blogging.

You see, there was Mother’s Day at my parents’ place…

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Orchids for my mom – her favorite color is purple

And then there was the business trip to Vegas the morning after where I saw just snapshots of Vegas during short lunch breaks, between meeting to meeting or the most I saw of the actual Vegas strip, my ride in the cab back to the airport…

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View from my room

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The Mirage Atrium

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Las Vegas airport – butterflies

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Las Vegas strip – on the way to airport

It was a crazy week and I’m questioning how I survived. But somehow I managed to survive. A part of me questioned if I was really going mad when I decided to take a red-eye out of Vegas Thursday night so I had time to pack and go camping for our Victoria Day long weekend starting Friday evening.

At the time, I regretted it but as soon as I arrived at Balsam Lake Provincial Park and we set up for our campfire, all was good.

I looked up at the stars as the sky was crystal clear that night and said to my husband, “This is what I needed. I came from Vegas, a busy week where there was constant bright lights and big noises all the time… to this! Quiet. And the only bright lights are from the campfire and the millions stars above us.” What a difference, to come from one crazy world into another one so opposite it’s difficult to believe they both exist on the same planet.

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Hobbes the Dog guarding our site from dangerous wildlife – like birds and squirrels

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My belated Mother’s Day gift

Knowing the week before wasn’t ideally a great mother’s day for me, my husband and daughter saved my present for after our first brunch in our trailer. I saw this book a couple of months ago and had to get it – Glamping with MaryJane. I immediately put it on my wish list and now, my wish has been granted.

I love the style and sass of this book but more importantly, as we will be a proud owner of a 20 foot trailer next summer, it gives all the essentials in taking care and maintaining one’s trailer. As well as how to make it a home away from home with stylish decoration and craft tips.

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Our traditional steak dinner over the campfire.

And hubbie got creative – using our tripod from our outdoor cast iron dutch oven, he fashioned some chains to a round bbq grill so the steaks could cook further away from the flames. It worked. That’s all I can say – it worked very well!

We did do a 1hr hike on the Saturday but since it rained all day Sunday, we went to a friend’s cottage 20 minutes away (after sleeping in, having a late brunch and doing some chill-out time in the trailer – it’s a small trailer but it’s still nice to chill out in it). I finally got to meet his two kids (both in their 20’s) along with the daughter’s boyfriend and another friend. So odd to be sitting there among the “young folks” but I enjoyed it very much. The boys were so kind they even gave me a hug good-bye! I assume I passed their ‘coolness-test?’

Monday, we left right at check-out time, trying to enjoy our stay as long as we can as the rain let up and gave us a comfortable temperature. Heading back to the city, we had several  hours left before the end of the day to clean-up and relax a little. Aside from the rain, it was a successful first camping weekend – and we’re off again for a 2-night camping trip in a couple of weeks!

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Hobbes the Dog was so pooped the last night of camping – he feel asleep on his back (he rarely does this)

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Chai Coconut Latte and Diana Krall

Being extremely spoiled by my best friend Ada during my mid-20’s, I’ve never been able to have the store-bought, pre-made Chai tea bags. Nor the cafes that make the latte’s from boxed, sugary (too sugary), processed liquid mix which they add to black tea. Nope. Sorry – that’s just not real Chai tea.

Ada, see, would invite us over after we went out for dinner somewhere in walking distance from her 1-bedroom apartment on Queen St (downtown TO). She would, from scratch, create the most luxuriously, smooth and creamy Chai latte for us. The process would take at least 30 minutes but the wait was so worth it.

She often commented the tea was so rich and velvety that it was enough to pass as a dessert (even though it had a fraction of the calories from any typical dessert order one would make from a restaurant menu).

20 years later, I still have fond memories of her Chai tea latte she made for us. When I found the following Bobby Flay recipe for Chai Coconut Tea Latte, I knew I had to give it a try. I used all unsweetened coconut milk and passed on the brown sugar. The coconut milk does not froth as much as regular milk but not being one to drink dairy milk, this was my personal option.

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Homemade Coconut Chai Tea Latte

It was heavenly – crushing the spices fresh for this process is worth the time and really, very little effort! I have made this twice for my husband and I on the weekends. I add a touch of 10% cream and a little sweetener but my husband enjoys it as is.

We had this, in fact, for dessert last night. Sitting in our living room, we sipped our hot mugs of the Chai concoction with Diana Krall in the background.

It was the perfect way to end our day. And I really enjoy these introverted weekend days I have with my family. It’s a chance for me to slow down and recharge my batteries.

The Art of Staycationing

stay·ca·tion
ˌstāˈkāSHn/
noun; informal
noun: staycation; plural noun: staycations; noun: stay-cation; plural noun: stay-cations
  1. a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

We had gone over and over again how we wanted to spend our family week off during Chaeli’s March Break. Ideas included a Mexican cruise, Disneyland, Portugal, renting a cottage and of course, what we’ve been doing these past two years – skiing in Quebec.

Turned out, what we really need was a staycation. We needed to have no plans. We needed to chill out and have a loose schedule. We needed, also, to do some sorting and chucking. But mainly, we just needed to do a lot of nothing.

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I could start everyday with this avocado toast and scrambled eggs!

Of course, doing a lot of nothing usually amounts to doing something. But without the pressure of ‘having to see this’ and ‘having to do that.’

This past weekend was a bit more work – I spent a lot of my time sorting and chucking a very neglected walk-in closet. It’s nearly done – and I can’t wait. The last time my walk-in closet was this clean and organized, I would find myself sitting on the floor in the middle of it with a glass of wine, marveling at my results.

And you bet I’m going to do it again! Only this time it might be with a cold flute of Prosecco or Sparking Cava. My level of sophistication has elevated throughout the years after all.

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The final beautiful view of a frozen pond mid-point of our hike before we made our way back.

The real staycation day started today. My day played out wonderfully, starting with a 1 hour cardio at the gym while the lazier family members (i.e. everyone but me) slept in. When I came home mid-morning, I made a healthy breakfast for all then we went for an hour winter hike.

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Our reluctant teen who rather have stayed home to spend all day on the PS3

Whenever people hear how often we like to go adventuring outdoors – whether it be hiking, snowshoeing or camping – they share the same sentiment with one another, You guys are setting such an example for your daughter! She is so lucky to live such a rich life!

Not so sure she would agree. I remember in St. Maarten, one of the cruise ports, we explored by feet, sometimes going off the beaten path. She watched in horror as we went further and further away from the port until the vision of the ship became a disappearing small dot in the horizon. The thing is, she is young. But it’s evident Doug and I are more athletic and have more stamina.

I’m sure one day she will look back and really be thankful of what we ‘make’ her do. And even though she’s not as enthusiastic when we’re getting ready for our hike, once she gets going, she does get into her own meditative state. And I can see it relaxing her. Of course, that state seems to disappear as she runs into the door when we arrive back home and before I know it, she’s jibber-jabbing away with one of her friends on Facetime.

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At least our other ‘kid’ is crazy about outdoor adventuring – plus his fur matches the backdrop of the woods

I’m pooped now. The hike took over an hour and after a rest upon returning home (and a nap on the coach), I did some strength training, P90X3 style. My body is feeling it which is why I’m indeed having some Sparking Cave, listening to Sarah McLachlan and was just reading A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding. I’m halfway through and enjoying it very much.

This. This is my ideal way of enjoying a staycation. To work on my body, mind and spirit.

Plus – it will prove for a restful sleep tonight!

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Hobbes the dog will be one pooped dog for sure!

Reading Has Become My Sanctuary

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My temporary mini-library

I haven’t been without a novel since our cruise in November. In fact, I’m now on my 4th read with at least two more books on my list of next reads. Both are on my new Kindle waiting for me. Currently, however, I’m trying to get through some traditional paperbacks I’ve received as gifts or bought for myself in order to decide if they should be kept in our permanent collection or if I should just give them away (we’re doing some sorting and chucking).

I know a lot of people who have read far more than I have in 3 months but for me this is pretty good. I have had to learn to make time for reading, though. Which means giving up more TV time and more screen-time. Neither of which I miss now.  In fact, I feel healthier having cut down those two pleasures altogether.

So long as no one takes away my red wine – or my latest indulgence, dry sparkling wine with strawberries.

Yesterday, I slid out just to get a wonderful pedicure. I was finishing The Girl on the Train while my feet were getting pampered. I was at the final five pages when my toes were receiving some cuticle oil massaged in – the final stage. I was so desperate not to go home yet – to just finish the novel so I could head off feeling content and accomplished!

Yes, I said accomplished. And I won’t take that back – this is, after all, a quest to get myself back on track, to reduce my stress, to allow myself a healthy outlet while rediscovering a joy I use to love doing 20 years ago.

So I walked down to the cafe a few stores away from the spa, ordered a dark roast coffee and slowly went over the words of those last five pages. I drew it out – letting each word travel from my soul to my lips. As if each of those words were delicate and needed to be handled with care. Each word was nourishment for my soul.

I came home and was greeted by my wonderful husband whom I sat to talk with before convincing him to do a 50 minute at-home yoga practice with me. Afterwards,  we finished the sparkling cava that had been chilling in the fridge, paired with organic strawberries, fluffy cream cheese and crackers.

I’m not sure how I could have made my Saturday afternoon better..

Famous encounters

Blonde and beautiful. I don’t mean the manicured type of beauty, either. I’m sure you were wearing make-up but it was pretty light. Either way, it was obvious you didn’t need a lot of make-up to show off your natural gorgeousness. With a kind smile, you passed me the blow-dryer, saying something about how we’ll share. You were with your daughters and I was with my best friend (we were having her bridal shower at one of those ceramic painting places).

You looked familiar. It wasn’t until after you left the people who worked at the ceramic painting place mentioned your name.

What made me remember you most that day wasn’t your beauty, as the magazine and films depict you to be. It was how kind and sweet you were. How down-to-earth you were.

I’m glad I was clueless to how famous you are when I met you that day. I think, seeing how you were spending some quality time with your daughters, you probably preferred being anonymous. And I’m glad we were able to give you that peace and solitude.

~ Back in 2000 when I didn’t realize I was exchanging words with Rebecca De Mornay.