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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Not our last camping trip of the season… if you can believe it!

With the lack of camping trips this season, my husband was getting pretty desperate. I admit I missed camping too but I can survive one year where we take a bit of a break from it.

Still, he pushed and pushed. And we fought about it as well. In the end, we came to a happy resolution by meeting in the middle.

He wanted to go somewhere about an hour away. I had no time to prep. So… we tried out this independent campground just 10 minutes away. It’s not a provincial park but had amazing hiking trails surrounding the campground.

All were happy and I’m glad we did it. It also gave us a chance to try dehydrated eggs (with grass-fed, hormone-free, anti-biotic free bison sausages).

deydrated eggsdehydraged eggs and bison sausagesNo, we weren’t aiming to create a gourmet meal here. There is hopes to do a portage/canoe trip where we’ll have to be somewhat creative with how we eat since we won’t have the opportunity to lug around a cooler. We’ve managed in the past – it’s do-able if we only go for two nights, preferably near the end of the summer when it’s not as hot.

The only problem is most of the dehydrated food packages is really high in either carbs or sugar. Which is exactly why our only option so far was to purchase these dehydrated eggs. The verdict? Edible but of course, no where near as good as actual eggs. 🙂

hiking - wildflowershikingOf course, we made sure we went on a lovely hike. For the entire morning, it rained. Which was fine. We slept in and had a very late brunch in the trailer.

By the time the sky cleared, we were ready to stretch our legs. Plus, Hobbes needed to burn off some energy. We hiked for an hour – and got our fill of fresh air.

new toquecamping fashionWe were only semi-prepared for the cold. The forecast showed and even lower dip for the temperature that night. While we brought along a of of fleece tops and bottoms, we didn’t have anything for our heads or Chaeli’s hands.

So, we took a quick trip to Sails and took advantage of their 50% toque sale (we were only 15 minutes away from one of the locations).

There was a Dollarama next to it so we picked up some 3-in-1 gloves for Chaeli.

campfire steaksOne way I was convinced to go camping on such a cold, rushed weekend… witness the above photo. This picture does not do these steaks any justice. I bought these earlier that day at Whole Foods. Yes, I paid a mint for each. They are hormone and anti-biotic free. And about 2 inches thick!

I’ve had some pretty seriously good steaks in my life. But only a couple stand out. The one was on our last Princess Cruise when we paid cover charge to dine in the Crown Grill Restaurant. The second would have been the Tomahawks we bought as part of my dad’s Father’s Day gift.

These recent steaks would be amongst the top three. Every bite had an amazing flavour. Well worth the money.

hobbes the dogAnd yes, even Hobbes got some of Doug’s scraps with his dinner.

It was a nice little get-away, once again, in our little trailer. And as the title of this post suggests, it’s not our last camping trip. We’ll be needing more winter gear as we head up further north in a few weeks to camp by Georgian Bay. What? You say we’re crazy?

No, let me correct you. My husband is crazy. We’re just not very bright for letting him convince us to go along with his craziness.

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Downtown Toronto, Patio Time and First TFC Game

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I will say, it was a wonderful feeling heading downtown again. I know it’s not been that long since we’ve been but it certainly feels like it’s been awhile. I know I’m biased, but I always feel at home when I’m greeted by my Toronto city line.

Cadillac Lounge patio

I won’t ever go back here for food. We ordered ribs and wings. While they boasted their wings to be really big a meaty, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it being meaty was if it was going to be so rubbery. The ribs were so-so. Smoked flavour didn’t really shine through and it wasn’t very tender either. I ordered a grilled Portobello sandwich which was suppose to come with a salad and on top of that, you could pay to sub the fries for more another type of salad. I was expecting two small side salads but I only got one. When the food arrived, I inquired but was told that I only get one. I didn’t both to ask to see the menu again as I was sure I was right. I should have.

And as you might have guessed, the service wasn’t so good either. Our waitress was horrible.

The patio environment, however, was great. And if you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and a light snack, or listen to the live band, definitely check this place out. But be warned about the food.

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cadillac lounge patio

We arrived at the BMO Field for some free time just to soak in the atmosphere. I must say, there is a certain charm with a smaller stadium. The intimacy of the energy is much more noticeable. And they were right – while we had decent seats that were centre and mid-level, the view of the field can be taken in quite well regardless of where one sits.

BMO Field

Toronto FC CapPerhaps what made it an even more special night was the score – 4:2 for Toronto against the Houston Dynamo’s!

Toronto FCWhat a great evening. We’ll definitely return next year!

And while we were gone, our faithful dog guarded the house from squirrels.

dog spotting squirrel

Weekend of Local Scenery and Hiking

Since I was in Phoenix for most of the long weekend on a business trip – returning mid-week – we by-passed what would normally be our first weekend camping. I needed to just stay home and sleep in my own bed. Which turned out to be the right thing to do.

Friday night, after texting Ada the night before on a whim, we met in Oakville at Maluca‘s for dinner. The Quon-family joined us for a pretty great night (good food, too).

Afterwards, we walked over to Marbleslab for ice cream. Well, I didn’t get any but tried a bit of Doug’s and Chaeli’s. Months of eliminating 99% of added sugar in my diet didn’t make the sampling all too pleasant. I felt like I wasn’t missing much.

The walk, however, was nice. While on the cooler side, you could still tell people were eager for the warmer weather as the main strip was buzzing with pedestrians. Walking over to The Green Bean, I grabbed my Americano to work me us for the rest of the stroll towards the bridge.

For the rest of the weekend, Doug, Chaeli and I (and Hobbes) went hiking both days. The first was back to The Rouge for a 5KM hike along the Twyn River area:

The Rouge

 

For Sunday, we headed 45 minutes north to the York Region woodland area and hiked along the Eldred King Trails. We’re still new to this area but have found it’s a popular place for local residents to bring their horses too – which is always interesting for Hobbes who just sees them as very large dogs. The trails are easier, albeit more sandy, but does not have the same variety as far as nature. Hobbes was disappointed – not enough critters to chase through the woods. We covered about 4.2KM:

 

Eldred King Woodland trail

And just to add, we started the day off with a new brunch recipe – Basil Caprese Baked Egg Cups:

capreses baked eggsRecipe: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/07/caprese-baked-egg-cups/

Mother’s Day 2014

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And our food arrives! #mothersday

A post shared by Shy (@shythom) on

As it’s been for the previous two mother’s day weekend, Doug worked on the Saturday, and as I had enough to do around the house as it was, I decided, as a way to avoid cooking, to continue our mother-daughter pre-Mother’s Day brunch.

This time, we went to Milestones rather than Cora’s. I found Milestones gave me the option of substituting all roasted potatoes with more light, mixed greens (as well as making egg white omelettes). Cora’s, as much as they boast about being healthy, fails to provide a nutrition information guide.

Sunday morning, Doug and Chaeli made some delicious coconut-flour pancakes with bacon. Coconut four, as I have discovered, is very low on the glycemic index compared to either regular flour and whole-wheat flour. It has a natural sweetness to it without any added sugar (perhaps just a couple of grams of natural sugar per 1/3 cup). The pancakes do not come out as fluffy and definitely not as sweet but still very flavourful. I will alternate between coconut flour pancake and my Blue Menu Whole Grain pancakes.

After finishing up our coffee, we started to prepare food for dinner that night over at my parents’ place. Doug marinated the sirloin roast with garlic and avocado oil and seasoned the tri-colour baby potatoes with garlic and freshly chopped rosemary. I packed whatever was needed for the salad, along with making a chunky salsa-guacamole for an appetizer/snack.

We stopped by a close-by natural trail five minutes away from my parents for a 30 minute hike – just to get some fresh air and for Hobbes to burn off some energy.

He did more than burn off his energy, though. On our way back to the car, he ran to a creek, dove onto his stomach and dragged his tummy across the sandy bottom. Before letting him back in to the van, Doug and I had to rinse him with some water bottles Doug luckily had packed. And then we had to towel him off.

After arriving back home, Chaeli gave me my Mother’s Day gift. I thought it was one of the more creative and useful mother’s day gift she ever made me. They worked on it for over a week in class – and I’ve kept it by the phone for taking notes (see above).

I also got a coupon for a spa of my choice. Doug said later, he wasn’t sure where I wanted to go but that I can let him know and he’ll go get a gift card. He says he’ll put enough on for two mani-pedi’s so I can have a pre-paid girl’s day out with B! (hey B, did you hear that? next mani-pedi is on Doug! Woohoo!)