Monday, January 15, 2018

Hanging out at the Victoria airport -- again!

This is the second time today that we have gone through the security routine at the Victoria airport. The first was this morning at about 5:00 in the pitch dark as we headed for our flight to Calgary where we were to transfer to a direct flight to Zihuatanejo. Alas, it was not to be. The flight to Calgary was delayed by one hour for "crew rest" because of a horrendous backup on flights from fog there yesterday and today. Thus we would miss our next flight, and since these direct flights only go three times a week we were rerouted.

Our new itinerary has us flying to Vancouver at 6:40 pm, then overnight to Mexico city leaving at 11:30, then after four hours in Mexico City a flight to the coastal town, arriving nearly 24 hours later than we were supposed to. It was chaos at the airport as several flights to Mexico were affected.

We spent about 10 minutes being really pissed off, after which we realized the futility of that emotion and have since been rolling with it. WestJet was helpful enough to give us taxi vouchers into Victoria and back so we didn't have to spend 12 hours at the airport. So we headed home and did a bit more tidying up for our houseguests, then had lunch with some friends and did a little window shopping before we got a taxi back to the airport.

So here we are again as the sky begins to darken. Already it's been a long day but our hope is that we will be able to sleep on the red-eye to Mexico City.

We haven't encountered this kind of delay before and it's made me realize just how hard the ticket agents and airport staff work. And I can't complain, because we are so incredibly lucky to be able to take a winter trip to the coast of Mexico. But just now I'm feeling travel fatigue and we haven't even left Victoria.

Right now we're sitting at a bar in the departure lounge as the afternoon shift comes on at Spinnakers. However, tomorrow at noon we'll be approaching Zihuatanejo and we'll be able to settle in and enjoy some sun and sea. Nothing to complain about.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Winter on Canada's west coast

Most of the time winter on our BC west coast looks like this, with cloudy skies and bare trees and soggy ground.  Sometimes the sun even shines as it is here in this photo of our blue bridge transformation at sunset.

Victorians often dream of a white Christmas and against all odds it happened this year. We awoke on Christmas morning to this sight. And the kids on the block were up before 7:00 am playing in the park and making snowmen.

Here's what it looked like on our back porch. The hummingbirds that overwinter here were pretty happy to have some nectar ready for them. Of course the snow lasted only for half a day, and by the next day when we headed out to Sidney for a waterside walk things were back to normal.

Last weekend we headed over to Vancouver to visit friends and family and the winter rains had started. Everything is misty and grey. That doesn't stop Vancouverites from heading out for brunch. This place in the Strathcona area was very cozy on a rainy Sunday morning, with a small bluegrass band and excellent food. I wish I could remember the name but sadly it has escaped me.

Here's the band playing, jazzed up by an app that I've been playing with. The name of it is Prisma and it's very cool. 

The photo below on the left was taken as we waited for the ferry to return to Victoria. It shows gloomy trees and rain through the car window.  The one on the right has been created with one of the app's filters. So different!

As pretty as it is, there's still the fact the January here is rainy and dreary and damp. And so we're happy to be heading south to Zihuatanejo on the west coast of Mexico for a few weeks. We're leaving Monday and I plan to do some posting about the sights we encounter on our trip.  Happy new year to all those who follow this blog.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Decorating with found greens

Up until last year we went out and purchased a live tree and loved the scent of it and the look of it and the idea of it--but not so much the dropping needles and the need to keep it watered and dispose of it after Christmas. So now that we're in a smaller space it was a no-brainer to purchase a little tabletop artificial tree.  Here it is on the table in the bay window with a few treasured ornaments. So easy. And kind of cute.

So to balance out the lack of natural greens I took a little walk around the neighbourhood with my clippers and a shopping bag and found a few twigs and sprigs and branches that can be used to bring some natural greenery indoors.  First I arranged the red twigs and some leaves and big berries in this simple glass vase. 

The mantel is the obvious place for boughs of fir, cedar and blue spruce, plus some oregon grape  and arbutus unedo. The candles are only lighted when we're in the room though, so don't worry.

This little milk bottle carrier vase is perfect for some greenery sprigs in the kitchen.  I've added rose hips to this for colour-- although I wish I'd arranged them differently before taking the photograph. They're too close together!

The holly-like leaves are from a large Mahonia plant and I like the fresh colour better than holly.  The paper white narcissus came from the local grocery store and also have that bright fresh green that hints of spring. I love their scent and the promise of greener, warmer days to come.  Today is the Solstice so we really are beginning the upswing. Yay!

Saturday, December 16, 2017


When we were in Spain and Portugal we loved the tapas that were served there in the bars, which are ever present there. The photo on the left is a classic bar we attended in Madrid. We were so enamoured of tapas that we've now hosted  two tapas parties.  They're so easy, because the food on offer can be prepared ahead of time in most cases. And unlike a dinner party, there are no courses, no appetizers, no side dishes, and no desserts.

These are some photos of tapas taken from our trip to Spain. Seafood is a really big deal there, even in areas that are completely landlocked.

The one below was taken at a big public market in Madrid.

This one is in Seville, a place that still serves a free tapa with every drink you order.

For our tapas party I scoured the internet and came up with some reasonably authentic recipes. On the left is the traditional Spanish tortilla made with eggs and potatoes, here topped with fresh asparagus.

Other favourites include Ensalada Russo (Russian Salad), which is made with potatoes, carrots, tuna green peas, and mayonnaise--plus whatever else you might like to add (onion, roasted peppers, capers for example).

We also added Capresi salad on a stick and almonds roasted with smoked paprika. If you'd like to know what else we prepared, here are some of them.

Olives, green and black, stuffed and plain
Chorizo sausage
Shrimps cooked in garlic oil
Rustic bread
Manchego cheese
Albondigas (otherwise known as Spanish meatballs), patatas bravas (potatoes roasted in oil and spices), skewers of roasted pork. I'm sure there are others but I can't remember them now.  Pretty well any appetizer you can think of could be served as part of a tapas menu. And of course wine. Did I mention wine? Spain has excellent red wines and good white wines too (they're known as verdejos)

The best thing is that it's easy to do and a fun way to host a few people without stress.

If you haven't been invited yet, don't worry, we'll be doing this again in the new year. Let me know if you're interested.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Carol's ginger cookies

I can't believe that it's been a month and a half since I posted here. But now it's almost Christmas here on Yukon Street and everyone is getting ready. The kids across the street have only one more week of school and decorated trees adorn all their apartments. As for me, I'm baking ginger cookies. It's my most favourite simple recipe because there's no rolling or cutting involved. 
A friend from Jamie's elementary school days gave me this recipe and it was hand written on a scrap of paper for many years before I finally typed it out and stuck it in my recipe file.  
The dough is done with the beater and then little pinches get rolled into balls and then rolled in white sugar and baked. If they're kept in a tin they'll even keep somewhat soft.

To me they signal the Christmas season and I like to bake lots of them to give away. I really have a hard time stopping with just one or two of these delicious morsels though. They're so good.

Here's the recipe if you'd care to try it. I make sure the spices are fresh for maximum flavour. Sometimes I add a tablespoon of orange juice to the dough, which adds a subtle Scandinavian touch.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hallowe'en on Yukon Street

This six-unit apartment is right across the street from our house. We love having it within our view because the families and children living there add joy and life to the street.  Especially at Hallowe'en.

The kids and parents have been preparing for weeks I think. Pumpkins have been carved, candy purchased and costumes created.

Here you can see them getting ready.  The guy in yellow on the right is dressing up as an aging hippie surfer. He's just putting on his long wig. I thought the little guy on the left was dressed up as a cotton ball. Wrong.  He ended up with a wolf mask on and a tail at the back. He was a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Last night it all culminated in a group gathering on the front stairs for a photograph before the kids set out for trick-or-treating. The kids headed off before it got dark with their parents in most cases. We stayed home to hand out goodies to families with young children from nearby streets.  What fun. I love living on Yukon Street.

This morning the kids headed off to school and the only signs left were the pumpkins on the stairs and the rubber bat flying from my front porch.