A story behind each banner image

I’ve added more images to my rotating header (what I especially like about this WordPress theme – aside from just a clean look). I have now 16 images that randomly rotate and appear at the top of my blog each time the page is refreshed.

Each of them have a story of their own:

Regal Princess at Antigua port

Antigua sunset

Antigua and Barbuda – Our last port during our 2016 Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Regal Princess. This was a new port for us. We took the excursion to Sting Ray City and snorkeled over the coral reef and with the giant rays. We were fortunate to catch the sunset from our balcony. We watched the sun disappear behind a mountain peak.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal – During March Break 2016, we stopped in Old Montreal for one night on our way back from skiing/boarding in Mont Sutton. I hadn’t been back in over a decade and it’s just as beautiful as I remembered it to be.

mason jar chandelier

Magog, Quebec – These mason jar ceiling lights caught my fancy as we left the Microbrasserie la Memphré for the first night’s dining choice during our Quebec ski/board trip in March, 2015)

Third Street Promenade - Santa Monica

Third Street Promenade – Ah Santa Monica. My third of four visits – and hopefully I will return again and again. This was taken December 2014 during my first business trip to the head office. Each night, after dinner, I would walk the pier and Third Street Promenade. There was always live music which fit the mood of the beautiful Christmas lights.


Santa Monica Pier – I always stop and watch the indoor carousel every first visit to the pier. I have bad timing though – seems that whenever I go, the carousel is closed for the day or has been rented out for a private event. I simply just love old-style carousels.


Frozen – I took it the morning of December 22nd, 2013 after a freezing rain storm which had swept across our city for the past couple of days. It finally did end sometime later that day but the ice stayed for several days after, causing major blackouts throughout the province. Some people were left without power for 2 weeks. Red Cross set up camp at local community centers where we went to donate water and food for those who could not stay home (no heat – they would have froze to death). The branches were so heavy from the ice, one of our trees in the backyard split in half and our patio is had been  completely blocked off from part of that tree.


Rue D’ Baga – Snapped from our Port Orleans resort streets while we stayed in Disney World earlier this year. The street name was called, “Rue D’Baga” which was where our room was located during our February 2013 vacation.


Sea shells – This was from our last full day while visiting Ada and Hoa in Vancouver (while they were still living there) in the summer of 2012. The sea shells were dangling from the deck just outside this little place called Go Fish. best fish taco’s ever!


The Roundhouse – Another photo from our Vancouver 2012 trip. We snapped this photo while just Doug, Chaeli and I were exploring randomly on our own through areas of downtown Vancouver – Gastown, water front and where this photo was taken, Yaletown.


Neys Park – Our first time using our little old trailer! We took a road trip to Thunder Bay in 2011, tugging Doug’s late grandfather’s trailer back, while stopping at Neys Provincial Park to camp out for one night. It was a beautiful park but way too cold to enjoy once the sun set. I was glad it was only just for a night before we drove to a nice, warm motel in the Souix.


Rain on windshield – Taken during our little day trip to Niagara Falls on our 8th wedding anniversary. Yes, it was a rainy day but actually, it made for a nice, quiet day since not many people were traveling through the Niagara wine route.



Killbear Park – The next two photos were taken during our summer camping trip of 2010 in Killbear Provincial Park. Hobbes was only 3 1/2 months old and had only been with us for three weeks. And what happens? He encounters a black bear!


Peacocks – This particular image of three proud, male peacocks, was taken when we went to the zoo with Tai, B and their kids, M & E. It was their first trip to the zoo as a family. All the kids look so different now. I am favouring this one at the moment because of the beautiful, intense blue.



Northern California – These next two goes back to 2007 where Doug and I did an anniversary trip to San Francisco, Monterey Bay and Carmel. The trip also doubled as an excuse to visit friends who just had a baby girl. The above photo is part of the 17 Mile Drive, followed by another taken along Highway 1’s coast.


board games, high park zoo and duck confit french toast

this weekend, as do all good weekends, went by too fast. but it was a good weekend indeed. the type i wish i could just put in a jar for a rainy day.

doug did have to work saturday, so that day was low key. chaeli and i took hobbes to the vet for a routine heart worm check-up. not fun for him since they had to put a needle in his hind thigh to draw some blood. the poor guy starts to shake whenever he’s on top of the examining table.

nothing special happened for the majority of the afternoon. chaeli had homework and i had housework. but then, being the amazing, domesticated mom that i am, i told her to put socks on because we were going to wendy’s. and not just eat food from wendy’s. but eat there.

which is fun for a kid. for me? it just means the garbage can be disposed of THERE and not at HOME. and the mess, should there be a mess would be THERE. and no, not at all at HOME.

i made up for my lack of domesticated skills after dinner though. well, sort of. my intent, in order to win mother of the year, was to just turn on netflix and veg out in front of the tv.

chaeli, however, wasn’t in the mood for tv. she asked, “can we play board games?”

i looked at her and replied back with a question, “really? with just the two of us? don’t you think it would be more fun if we did family game night with daddy home?”

“no… it can be fun with just two people.”

i will admit. i took a moment to think of all the excuses i could think of. i had my heart set on being lazy in my pj’s, lying in bed watching whatever netflix had to ofer, at least for kids. plus, do you know what it is like to play boardgames with kids? they either don’t follow the rules or they take a long time to decide on their move or they whine when they lose.

well, maybe not all of them and not all the time. the potential for any of these things to happen can very well happen.

but suddenly, i was in the mood to play myself. and i’m glad we did play that junior scrabble game, even though it forces you to limit your choices to the words already on the board. because it was a great way to spend the evening.

the next day was quite nice. we met up with ada and hoa at high park so doug could go for a run with them. while they ran, chaeli and i took hobbes to the off-leash trail to get some fresh air and move our muscles a bit.

i was not at all feeling guilty for the fact that i wasn’t joining them. in fact, i was rather happy to announce, “i don’t run. yoga, p90x and wimping out on gym cardio machines… that will do it for me!” they’re all marathon/triathlon types. or at least 10K types. and due to this, doug has been eating healthy and cutting back on the luxuries that happens to be beer. that’s why i don’t do marathons. i like to eat.

ada only did 30 minutes with them and then text-ed us to meet up with where ever we were. which was good. chaeli wanted to go to the zoo but with hobbes, i have to keep him away from the fenced in animals. ada was able to stick closer to her while i stood back whenever hobbes got overly excited from seeing an animal which he probably took as being a very, very large dog. except when he saw the turkeys and peacocks. then he just took them as very, very large birds.

we ended up at origin afterwards for an awesome brunch.

duck confit and french toast… heaven!

sunday ‘ooz’, library and retro-judy blume books


this is what doug started to say for ‘zoo’ when chaeli was young. it was a way to say, “hey, think we should go to the zoo this weekend?” while around her so that she didn’t pick up on the word ‘zoo’ and get her hopes up in case we weren’t able to go.

of course, in the past couple of years, she knows that ‘ooz’ is just ‘zoo’ pronounced backwards. and now calling it ‘ooz’ has just become our thing.

while doug worked his sunday shift, that’s exactly where chaeli and i found ourselves yesterday morning. she came up just after 8:30am to wake me up. the zoo opens now at 9:30am (shorter hours past the summer season) so it was just enough time for us to get ready and head over for breakfast.

chaeli brought her digital camera and spent the hour and a half taking as many photos as possible, spending most of her time taking shots of the polar bear cub. he’s grown a bit but still so small compared to the three adults. and very cute with a whimsical, playful temperament.

of course, of the 100 or so photos, most of them came out too dark or blurry but i told her not to worry. we can weed them out later. so she took a few shots of certain animals or scenes to be on the safe side. in the end, about a third were actually quite good. so i opened up a flickr account for her and uploaded the photos to share with family.

here are some of the highlights:

polar bear

cub swimming

polar bear cub

cub was enjoying deep dives


a mid-morning snack – picking at the flowers

anemone and starfish

one starfish and one sea anemone-mone-mone…

prairie dogs

hobbes would object to the word ‘dog’ in their names


the bunnies were all still sleeping when we visited them


just chillin’ out on the rocks

we came home for a couple of hours before heading out to a library in our area – one of the many main ones in the city that happened to be open on sunday’s.

for chaeli’s grade 3 leading log, she went through four chapter books in two weeks. we do have a lot of books at home but with the rate she’s going, they won’t last her the school year. nor do we have that much space to continue purchasing books (and we don’t want to get carried away with how much we spend either). i will continue to buy some books from scholastics but going to the library is a great way to balance things out.

the usual library we usually go to does not open on sunday – this gave us an opportunity to try a different location. i’m glad we did. the entire first floor is dedicated to children and young readers with one section dedicated to early readers. it pretty much carried all chapter books and contained the perfect selection for grade 3 and 4 level reading.

chaeli chose three books which i think should last her for the next two weeks. she was quite excited – especially as she got to use her own library card and check out the books at the self-checkout area.

the rest of the day was spent with her reading and playing while i uploaded her zoo photos (and camping photos). as well, i read two chapters of tales of a fourth grade nothing (my own copy from when i was 9 – and i still have superfudge, too) before dinner plus another chapter of it before bed. we were also able to get in one UNO game done before bedtime.

it was a great mother-daughter day!

more than halfway…

it’s amazing that summer is already passed the halfway mark. back to school ads and promotions are starting to hit the stores and my inbox. and yet, i feel like we only just started school break last week! sad. very, very sad.

summers like this – you have to make every bit count.

last saturday, we went to tko and B’s place for a delicious rib bbq – both pork and korean short ribs. we brought a spread of cheese and pate. di brought a smores pie. SMORES! PIE! the combination was deadly.

i’m very happy to have the chance to see my friends this summer – i was afraid our weekends were booked solid with our own things plus my family (plus doug’s family since chaeli was there for over a week). but i think in the end you find a way to make time for your friends because as important as doug and chaeli are to me – and the quality time we spend as a family  unit – the summer would not be complete with out a couple of get-togethers with good friends.

this past weekend was an easy weekend. doug worked saturday so chaeli and i went for brunch and some a.m. shopping. the rest of the day was devoted to the olympics (and laundry – never can i escape doing laundry on the weekend).

sunday, after doug came home from his shift, we went to the zoo. chaeli and were already there last sunday morning (while doug was working then as well). we definitely are not wasting our annual membership. anyway, she really wanted to see the sting rays and sharks (a special exhibit that’s only hear during the warmer months – and extra $2.50 per person but quite worth it if you’re adventurous enough to pet the species in the very large, shallow pool). i wanted, however, to wait for doug so we could all experience it together which is why we went back this sunday.

sting ray by at the toronto zoo

no worries – nurse sharks are the friendly type

$2 more bought me a three pieces of raw seafood to feed the rays. tip: keep fingers flat with the food sticking out between two fingers. i knew this but didn’t get the food in place in time. in other words, a couple of my fingers were sort of sticking up when one of the rays swam by. in went my finger – just sucked in like a vacuum!

it didn’t hurt, though. thank goodness they are toothless but the feeling was quite weird and took me by surprise.

red curry mussels, date in the woods and bbq-pool party

with chaeli visiting my PILs, doug and i had a date-weekend rather than just a date night. we actually hummed and hawed about going out for a nice dinner but by the time the end of the week rolled around, neither of us actually felt like leaving home.

friday night, we ended up making some thai red curry mussels for dinner. we accompanied it with a fresh baguette and some apple riesling wine. i can’t tell you how amazing it was! to dip the bread into the spicy, yet savory, creamy broth. we’ve been trying to replicate the first time we had red curry mussels from the san francisco food-haunt, fog city diner. which is still the best we’ve ever had. this recipe is about the closest we could fine. i recall the red curry ‘soup’ from fog city diner was thicker – creamier. i suspect it was just them adding a heavier type of coconut cream (or just cream on top of the coconut milk).

definitely a lovely dinner. and before that, while having a pre-dinner drink (gin & tonic), we sat in the living room and talked. i mean… really talked. a nice conversation. no serious stuff but just one of those good talks one finds with a best friend. luckily for me, this best friend also happens to be a life partner.

saturday, we went just on the outskirts of our city, north of us, to a conservation area. it was an idea i had awhile ago, to check out some of the trails at the bruce mill park. while most of the time, our hikes involve chaeli, i have to admit it was also nice to go just the two of us. we can cover more mileage and be a bit more adventurous. in other words, we got lost. not on purpose, but we certainly didn’t seem to care to follow a direct path. it was good – just over 3km in an hour with some hilly areas to boot.

hobbes definitey got his workout!

we stayed home for dinner again – this time making maple glazed, buttermilk grilled chicken, kelp chips and some small potatos. doug made plenty for leftovers (which was eaten tonight). a good recipe – the buttermilk really does marinate the meat, making it nice and juicy.

sunday, our friends, di and rick, had a bbq pool party. it was such a good time – with a crazy amount of food! of course, like most weekends, food is a symbolic part of our lives. i made a pasta and asparagus salad with a lemon-honey dressing (definitely better to make the night before to allow the acidity of the lemon rind and juice mellow out a bit). i left the pasta in just a smidge too long to be on the al dente side but after chilling in the fridge it surpassed. it was my first time making this recipe – next time i’m going to up the garlic and lemon a little and use less pasta. even though i used a whole bunch of asparagus, i felt it could have used more – it would certainly pump up the nutrients!

as a bonus, we got go hang out with rita, harry and their boys – they live in the connecticut and it was just so nice to catch up with them! i definitely miss it when they were living in TO.