Mackinac Island: Time Travel, Bikes & Movie locations

*UPDATE: howdy ya’ll! You’ll see a few changes to this blog very soon including a brand new name! I’ll still be sharing road trip stories, but you’ll see a mix of lifestyle, food *and* travel stuff. I’m roadtripping much less these days– hence my lack of posts lately😀 I hope you guys will stick around and, as always, thanks for reading xo

Warning: this post is pretty long (no surprise there, I’m sure) but I gotta make up for lost time, right? (Don’t worry, a bulk of this story is just pretty pictures)

Now…let’s head over the border to Mackinac Island in Michigan, shall we?

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Main Street Mackinac Island

I hope you’re doing great and enjoying the start of the holiday season (how are we almost at Christmas already? EEK!). I’m excited to get my holiday baking on and also hoping for some orders for the holidays, too. I was crazy busy over Thanksgiving (I made over 20 pies!!!) which was really fun. A big thanks to my friends for your support, spreading word of my treats and helping me launch my new biz. I couldn’t have done it without you guys! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU ❤

I’ve also started a fun new project called  ‘Pie It Forward’. Every week I’ll bake a pie to share with a good friend over coffee, to bring to someone in need of a smile, or for an awesome volunteer, charity or local heroes (like firefighters or paramedics). I’ll share my pics on here, too, in case you guys want to follow along. It’s gonna be fabulous!

Speaking of pies, I made this a couple of weeks ago for our Ottawa Redblacks when they won the top spot in the East. It’s a Red & Black Berry pie🙂

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Since this pie was made, however, we went on to win the long-overdue Grey Cup!! (our version of the Superbowl) Woohoo!

Okay, enough about food…lest you stop reading because you’ve gotten too hungry.

While I’m not a big fan of Fall, I at least started the season off right this year….with a ROAD TRIP! I actually haven’t gone anywhere in nearly a year (big reason this blog is becoming less travel-focused) so this trip was lonnnnnggg overdue.

This guy sure was happy about hitting the road again, especially since we missed our usual trip to the East Coast last summer.

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We’re on the road, baby!

We had actually only planned to go as far as Mackinac Island (Michigan) but, like any good road trip, the wind kept taking us further. So somehow we ended up in Indianapolis…at a Colts game! (OMAHA!). Have no fear, I’ll share that adventure in my next post.

I’ve been to Mackinac Island before but it was a long time ago (almost 15 years ago) and it was very briefly (we’re talking half a day) so I’ve been wanting to go back for a long time now. The Island is pretty close to the border (near Sault. St Marie) and lies between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.

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This is where one of my favourite time-travel movies ‘Somewhere in Time’ (with Christopher Reeve & Jane Seymour) was filmed in 1979. The movie became a huge cult classic and the famous Grand Hotel, where most of the movie was filmed, still holds the popular ‘Somewhere in Time’ convention every October (that’s how big of a fan base it still has, even many years later).

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

The Famous Grand Hotel from the ferry

This photo was taken on my first visit on the island in 2003. This is the beautiful path behind the Grand Hotel along the shore of Lake Huron. It’s also where some of the movie was filmed.

Mackinac Island Somewhere in Time

Is it you? No..it’s actually me! Way back in 2003

I’d kinda like to do some time-travel and maybe go back to this time (early 2000s) when I was just a Spring Chicken (*sigh*).

Here’s my good friend Al hanging out with the horses on Mackinac during our visit way back when. He looks like a spring chicken, too!

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The best, and possibly the biggest, draw to this lovely Island (aside from the Grand Hotel) is that there are NO Cars allowed on the island at all–except for emergency & construction vehicles (and maybe the odd DeLorean).

Which means you’ll have to leave your car in St Ignace or Mackinaw City to visit the island. The ferry goes back and forth quite regularly and it’s a super short trip– only about 15 minutes to the island.

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Waiting for the ferry in St Ignace

You get a great view of the island as you approach it.  It’s pretty magnificent…

Ferry to Mackinac Island, Michigan

This is the humongous bridge that connects Lower & Upper Michigan. You’d take it if you’re driving between Detroit and the Can/US border. 

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I missed this bridge on my first visit to this area because after leaving the island I headed back up to the border. On this trip, however, Cowboy and I were heading to Ann Arbor (near Detroit) after leaving Mackinac so we got to go over it. It’s not as long as Confederation Bridge (which connects Nova Scotia to PEI) but it’s still pretty impressive.

Ferry to Mackinac Island

Ferry to Mackinac Island Lake Huron, Michigan

Hello Mackinac Island! We’re heeeeere. Within minutes of getting off the ferry Cowboy made an instant friend. Not too surprised… such a charmer that boy. Look closely at his arm to see his new pal/stalker.

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The Butterfly Whisperer

Since there aren’t any cars allowed on the island, it forces you to get active. You gotta walk or bike everywhere if you venture further from Main Street. Or you can ‘cheat’ and take a carriage ride around the island if you wish, too. We rented bikes so we could see more of the island and get some exercise which was a good idea after spending so much time in the car en route here.

Fortunately they even allow kooks like this one to rent bikes here (explains the extra ‘fee’ ha ha).

Main Street Mackinac Island Michigan

Most of the hotels, Inns & B&B’s are on the main drag, or at least fairly close by. We didn’t actually book anything before coming (ya, we’re rebels) but it was near the end of the season so we figured we’d find something. And we did–fortunately–but the pickings were surprisingly slim.  A few hotel owners told us it was because the weather was very summer-like (about 25C, or 75F) which was pretty hot for late September. So there were tons of ‘spontaneous tourists’ arriving on the island the day we got here (Darn tourists! hehe)

We choose The Harbour View Inn which is absolutely stunning…

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Our Hotel: The Harbour View Inn

It’s a short 5-minute walk to the main drag, so it was a perfect location as well. A wee bit further than some of the places we’d looked at (the closer ones were filling up or way too crazy expensive) but not right in the thick of things, either. This place is definitely more of an Inn than a hotel since it’s relatively small… but not ‘B&B small’, either (thankfully). While I like B&B’s and have stayed in many really nice ones, there’s been a few that were so small I felt like I was in someone’s house (no thanks, unless it’s a family member or friend’s place).

How ’bout sitting out here in the morning with your coffee while listening to the sound of horses galloping nearby? Yes please...

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Just for fun though, we might stay at the Chippewa Hotel next time. It’s right on main street (very close to the ferries etc) so it’s much busier, but super close to everything which is always fun for a change. Plus it’s got lots of history too, which I really love (if you’ve stayed here, please let me know what you thought in the comments–thanks!)

Chippewa Hotel Mackinac Island

Chippewa Hotel

The famous Pink Pony bar is in this hotel too, which might be dangerously convenient :D 

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You can’t come to Mackinac Island without going to the famous Grand Hotel– especially if you’re a fan of the movie. Since I didn’t get to see the inside of the hotel the first time I was here (which I always regretted), I wasn’t missing out this time. No Sireee…

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It was just as lovely as I’d imagined!

Built in 1887, the Grand Hotel is commonly touted as ‘America’s Summer Place’. In 1972 it offically became a National Historic Landmark. It also boasts the world’s largest front porch–at 660 feet!

The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

The Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

The front of the hotel from the lovely huge park close to the entrance.

The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

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At the back of the hotel you can walk along the shoreline of Lake Huron and see the famous rock where part of the movie was filmed.

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Somewhere in Time Mackinac Island

Somewhere in Time Filming location

Because you can’t stand against a beautiful tree (and famous filming spot) and NOT take a fun selfie, right? BTW Cowboy did watch the movie at one point and he actually enjoyed it🙂 It’s less cheesy/scary than it looks (haha). But it’s got time-travel in it so you’d be hard-pressed not to like it, really. Mostly though, he really liked these trees and walking along the lake.

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Tree Posers

Mackinac Island Somewhere in Time

But don’t worry, even if you’re not a fan of the movie (say what??) this hotel is outstanding and definitely worth a tour. Though you might have to put on your invisible cloak to get inside the hotel if you’re not a guest (I wouldn’t know this from experience, of course…*cough cough*).

The Grand Hotel

Lobby at the Grand

I was happy to come across this wall of cool memorabilia from the movie.

The Grand Hotel

Somewhere in Time Film Photos

This pic was taken in front of the Grand Hotel on my first visit there almost 15 years ago:

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

My first visit to the Grand Hotel 2003

Even though it was the middle of July, it was pretty chilly that day (as you can probably tell by my fleece sweater. BRR!).

Annnnnd, this was taken on my recent visit this past September. Much nicer weather this time around!

The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

The Grand Hotel Sept 2016

Cowboy wanted a fun photo for his upcoming rap album and thought the Grand Hotel would make the perfect backdrop for his album cover.

The Grand Hotel

Totally awesome dude! Gnarly to the max. Womp womp womp…  

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Main Street is where all the action is (aside from the Grand Hotel, of course) on the island. Since this is where all the ferries come in, you can’t avoid it even if you tried (you wouldn’t want to, anyway). It’s absolutely gorgeous and so vibrant with all the flowers lining the street. 

Main Street Mackinac Island

the Bustling Main Street

I’d love to come here in the Spring during the Lilac Festival which I’ve heard is THEE most beautiful time to come to Mackinac. Hard to believe that this place could get any prettier, really.

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One of the beautiful hotels on main street

Since it was early Fall, a good part of the street was decked out in gorgeous fall decor. As it was really close to our Thanksgiving (early Oct.) as well, this was a really nice festive touch.

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There are quite a few restaurants, cute shops (most of them are very touristy, not too surprisingly) bike rental kiosks and about 78 fudge stores lining main street. Okay, I’m exaggerating about that last one–but not by much. I think Mackinac Island has the highest per capita of fudge shops in the world.

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Needless to say there was a LOT of free sampling to be had.

Yep, fudge isn’t paleo-friendly so I was a bit of a bad-ass while I was here (please don’t tell the Paleo Police). I must have tried every variety of chocolate fudge I came across. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t read the ingredient lists before imbibing though as I generally avoid foods with nasty vegetable oils (Yikes!).

We wandered up main street munching on our fudge samples and soaking in the beautiful scenery with all the hustle and bustle of folks arriving from the ferries. With all the pretty horses trotting along beside us, it really felt like we’d gone back in time about a hundred years ago or so. (wait, did they have fudge back in 1916? If so, I bet it was probably much better then).

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Now, where did I park my DeLorean again? (ha ha).

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After we checked into our hotel, toured the Grand Hotel and wandered around main street eating way too much fudge, it was time to do a bike ride so we could see more of the island. There are several bike rental kiosks to choose from here, so it wasn’t an impossible feat in the least.

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Just a few minutes away from main street there are tons of trails (many of them being uphill–eek!) so we got to explore a few quieter areas of the island which was really nice.

It also reminded me that I need to get in better shape…

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Someone was lagging behind because he was busy taking photos (silly photo nuts).

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Oh look a painting! In the middle of the forest?

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We biked & hiked to a couple of really cool spots like this one: the incredible Arch Rock.

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This is a rare limestone arch which was formed during the Nipissing (post-glacial) period when the water levels of both Lakes Huron & Michigan were much higher than they are today. This hunk o’ rock rises 146 feet above Lake Huron and is pretty spectacular to see up close and personal.

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It’s absolutely stunning and the views of the lake aren’t too bad at all, either.

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Selfie time!

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The hike to Arch Rock wasn’t too hard at all. It was just a handful of stairs to get to the top (don’t worry,the view is so worth the work)

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We also biked to this cool spot…. Sugar Loaf!

Sugar Loaf Mackinac Island

It’s an enormous 75 feet-high landlocked rock that stands almost smack-dab in the middle of the island. Pretty impressive geological action going on here….

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On the way back from Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf, we checked out Fort Holmes as well.  This is the highest point on the island and was a strategic location for the military during the War of 1812.

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After a couple of hours of biking & hiking it was time to head back into town for a bite to eat and a refreshing drink to quench our thirst. But first…. coffee time!  

No Starbucks here, fortunately. This is the town’s favourite coffee shop, apparently. The Lucky Bean.

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A few of the locals and friendly tourists told us it’s the best spot in town. When it comes to coffee, always trust the locals, right?

Coffee sure was great, but I was disappointed they didn’t have any treats that I could eat (evil gluten)…darn!

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We chatted with some other tourists while sipping a cuppa out front on their little patio area. One of them graciously offered to take our photo, although they  accidentally drop the camera right after snapping the pic (Oops! All was good– it didn’t break..until Cowboy dropped it a few days later in Indianapolis lol)

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It was time to hit the patio to soak up the late summer sun. We choose the Pink Pony as they had a big patio overlooking the lake. Cowboy ordered a nice cold local lager and I tried a blood-orange cider. Yum!

Pink Pony Mackinac Island

Patio at the Pink Pony

And we grabbed some grub, too. The food here is fabulous and after spending a few days on the island, we both agreed this is one of the best restaurants/pubs on the island. SO if you come to Mackinac, make sure you have one meal (or at least a drink) at the Pink Pony. Tell them we sent you (ha ha).

Lunch at Pink Pony

Well, this is probably already long enough so I think it’s a good stopping point after this wonderful long first day on Mackinac Island.

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Be sure to watch for my upcoming post on our tour of Ann Arbor & Indianapolis (for some football fun!) I’ll also be posting a few food-related stories soon as well and my blog name will be changing in the next day or two. Hopefully you’ll still be able to find me and follow along. Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend everyone!

Love, Dana xo

It’s Summer! Pies, festivals….and an Update

Hi folks…. How’s your summer going? I can’t believe it’s August already. Feels like Spring was just yesterday (especially if you’re going by my last blog post on here….ha ha).

I’ve had a pretty busy summer so far with lots of events & festivals (esp early summer), launching my new biz (finally) and catching up with friends and enjoying every minute of these hot, hazy days of summer. We gotta enjoy it while it lasts here in Canada as summer is just too darn short. By October, I know I’ll be counting down the days ’til spring again.

I haven’t been travelling much at all this summer but I AM going on a short trip in September which I’m really excited about (will share more deets soon). I can’t wait to get out of dodge for a late summer adventure. 

So, yeah…part of the reason I haven’t been on here much is because I’ve been busy trying to get my new bakery biz up n’ running (plus some health news which I’ll share in a bit). Thanks to all of you who have been ordering my treats for your summer festivities etc. You guys rock!!! I really appreciate your support (xo).

Two of my close (& very business-savvy) friends have been helping me get my biz started and they told me that the first thing I need to do is to stop giving my baking away all the time. Apparently it’s hard to make a living when you’re not charging anyone (oops! haha). Now that I’m keeping better track of my costs, I’ve realized just how much I spend on ingredients. Having a menu helps too since folks can now order stuff a little easier as they have some inspiration and a price list. Hurray!

Speaking of baking, who loves this time of year for FRESH PIES?  You probably enjoy eating pies more than baking them, of course, but pies are actually my favourite thing to bake. Does that mean I’m officially crazy? (better not answer that). 

Any Star Wars fans here? How about this pie…

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Fresh blueberry garnished with Darth Vader’s head. Mnn num num..(just one piece of this and you’ll join the dark side). It’s a fresh pie but I baked the letters and Darth Vader’s head alongside with the crust. I made this for a good friend who’s a big Star Wars fan (of course). He said the force is very strong with this pie😀

Here’s my Canada Day pie. My friends and I felt very patriotic eating it.

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Strawberry Balsamic…Super Yummy!! I usually prefer a fresh strawberry pie (not cooked), but this was fabulous. Strawberries and Balsamic are a great match, especially when they’re baked inside a delicious buttery (GF) pastry. YUM! Rest assured, I’ll be making this one again before summer is over.

So… enough about pies (darn!) and onto some rather bad/ scary health news.

As many of you know, I suffered from what may have been a mini-stroke a few years ago (I was only in my mid 30s). The neurologist didn’t really think it was one in the end, though because I was only unable to talk for 5 seconds and I had no other symptoms. Apparently there is usually a few things going on (numb limbs on one side, mouth drooping etc) when it comes to stroke. 

What I did discover, though (after a gazillion tests) was that I have a very common, and generally benign, heart defect called PFO ‘Patent Foramen Ovale (‘Hole in the Heart’).  Nearly 30% of the population has one but most never know about it because it rarely causes any problems and there aren’t many symptoms. Except for those (like me) who have a ‘bigger hole’, which can cause fatigue. 

I’ve always been active and played a lot of sports as a kid but I always wondered why I’d get more tired than other people, especially since I’m fairly fit. So I was glad to find out there was an actual reason for it. Basically if you have a PFO, your blood isn’t oxygenated properly (or as efficiently) because of the hole between the two sides of the heart. This allows blood to get circulated around both sides (and not completely filtered, either—which can increase the risk for clots escaping to other parts of body).

They’ve talked about closing mine (because of its large size) but the surgery is still  controversial as studies show that closure is very similar to medical therapy (daily aspirin). I have been thinking about doing it again recently though, just to help with my fatigue.

In any case, while having a PFO can increase your risk for stroke (slightly), fortunately I don’t have too many (other) risk factors. I had another episode a couple of years ago (a PFO diagnosis can make you pretty paranoid!), but luckily it turned out to be nothing.

Anyway, last week I had another strange, more worrisome episode. After being out in the sun for a couple of hours I suddenly felt a bit dizzy and a bit weak in legs too– though only slightly. I guess the best way to put it was that ‘I felt funny’, and it wasn’t just heat-stroke. I was also tired so that was a factor, too– but I knew something was off. I was alone at home at the time so I hadn’t realized that I couldn’t talk. I texted Cowboy who was close by (at work) and fortunately he was able to come home right away.

When he got there I tried to talk but NOTHING came out of my mouth— except for one word ‘hospital’. We took off right away. I managed a word or two en route but nothing I wanted to say was coming out of my mouth. It was very eerie, and quite scary too—as you can probably imagine.

I wasn’t slurring, like you’d see with someone having a full-on stroke, it was more like mumbling and a word here and there managed to escape my lips. When I got to the hospital I realized I couldn’t even tell the nurse why I was there (Cowboy was parking at the time). Luckily I got the most important word out– ‘Stroke’— and suddenly I was whisked away at lightening speed. Within seconds I was hooked up to an IV as well as the machines that track blood pressure & heart rate. This was in case they had to give me the meds that they give to someone having a stoke as there’s only a small window of time that they have to do this (I believe it’s 3 hours). 

The staff was fast, efficient, and just overall amazing. Everyone was a bit surprised because of my age, and the fact that some of them thought I was MUCH younger than I was (hehe).

My blood pressure was fine though and my blood tests were all normal. The CAT scan was clear (to check for blockages in the neck etc) so they were starting to worry less at least. The emergency doctor was incredible, I couldn’t have been in better hands! He was very efficient but also so friendly and made me relax (considering my anxiety level–I’ve hardly ever been in a hospital and sorta doctor-phobic). He was doing everything he could to make sure I was okay, and I could tell he genuinely cared as well.

I passed all the coordination tests (to check for weakness, numb limbs etc) and also all the vocabulary tests where they check to see if you can read a bunch of words out loud (I guess I had improved slightly since I got there). I got an A+ in every test. He was still thinking I had a TIA (mini-stroke) but wasn’t completely sure at that point. He later chatted with Cowboy to get a better idea of how I was when he first saw me in this state.

I was there for most of the day getting a gazillion tests and just waiting around. But at least I was taken off the machines after about an hour when the doc was confidant I wasn’t having a full stroke. Surprisingly, I still couldn’t talk very well even hours later. When I tried to tell the front desk attendant I was going outside (about 2 or 3 hours after I’d arrived), I barely got two words out and the sentence made no sense. I think she thought that I was drunk actually (I only had coffee that day).

After chatting with the neurologist, she thought that I probably didn’t have a TIA or stroke after all because it’s VERY unlikely that someone my age (and in a low-risk bracket) would have even 1 stroke, let alone 3 of them–especially without ANY other symptoms. I’ll be going for another MRI to be sure (I’d had one after my first episode in 2011) as well as an EKG. That one measures brain activity, so I guess I’d better warn them that I’ll probably blow up the machines when they attach the cables to my head from all my excessive brain power (ha ha!).

So…..the neurologist thinks what I may have had instead was a mild seizure or, possibly an aura-migraine (which is a migraine without the headache). I’ve had that before, but only a few times. Those are the ones where you get the weird zig zag lights and you have to sit in the dark for about 20 min until they go away. Interestingly, people with PFO’s are very susceptible to aura migraines and many do opt for the surgery to close their holes JUST to stop the migraines. Again, I’m fortunate that I rarely ever get them so not sure if that’s the problem.

While researching seizures, I learned that there are actually many different types and some can affect speech. The good news is that if it IS seizure related, while seizures can be dangerous (falling, driving etc) they are usually temporary at least and not AS damaging as stroke (most of the time, I believe). Hopefully they are somewhat treatable/preventable as well.

Okay, enough yattering about my scary health woes.  I’m doing much better now. Let’s talk about some of the fun festivals I’ve gone to this summer!! 

To start summer off right, we celebrated Summer Solstice with ‘Glow Fest’, a street festival in downtown Ottawa. It was a blast!

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I even helped out by working at my friend’s store, as she was one of the organizers for the festival.

Because that weekend was also Father’s Day AND my dad’s birthday, I was glad to have this event to distract me. And a couple of my very thoughtful friends took me out for dinner too because they knew it was a bit of a tough weekend for me! I’m so very blessed with wonderful friends xo.

In early June, my good friend Kat and I did our annual road trip to Merrickville for  the Medieval Fest. We’ve gone for the past few years and we always have a fabulous time. We essentially get to go back in time and watch Knights jousting and tons of other medieval fun.

Plus they let us play with swords. I’m not sure if this is really such a great idea 😀

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You’d think they’d know better as we’ve been coming to this for a few years now😀

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I also went to the Aboriginal Summer Solstice Pow Wow after missing it the last few years. And Cowboy came with me this time, which made it even more fun.  This was his first Pow WOW and he got to try Bannock.

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That’s it for now, because if this post is any longer you may have to quit your full-time job to read it. But don’t worry, you’ve got 2 months before I post again (haha). Oh wait, too late if you’re down to this part. Mwuahahaha. I promise, though…new post coming up very soon and won’t be nearly as long (well, maybe).

Have a great rest of summer and thanks for reading, friends. Hope you’re doing great!!!

Dana xo

Tulip Festival Fun in Ottawa

Hello Spring! Well, almost summer now tomorrow…so I’ve got a few more hours to celebrate spring. (I’m a bit behind in my posts as per usual ha ha).

It’s my absolute favourite time of the year here in Ottawa. The weather is perfect and I’m constantly surrounded by these stunners…

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My hometown is always beautiful, but spring here is simply show-stopping.

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We just recently wrapped up our Tulip Festival which has taken place right here in Ottawa every spring for over a half a century! Every May, my hometown explodes in a rainbow of different colours as millions of tulips start blooming throughout the city.

More than 500,000 people flock to Ottawa from all over the world every year to  check out the Canadian Tulip Festival. It’s quite a sight to behold.

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If you’re a nature photographer (or flower lover) you’ll be in your glory here. But even if you’re neither, you’ll still enjoying gawking at the beautiful tulips. I rarely meet a tourist who isn’t impressed, really. It’s hard not to be…

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 You will probably be snapping pictures like a maniac, especially if you’re camera-happy like me. I’m from here (and have been to the festival a gazillion times, of course) but I still take a gazillion pics when I see views like this around town.

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It’s easy to have Spring Mania when there’s so much colour everywhere across the city. Okay, we’re usually pretty happy at this time of year anyway because the snow is finally gone (YAY!), but the pretty flowers are definitely mood-boosters.

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Even during an impending thunderstorm, you may be still taking pictures of the tulips instead of, say, running for cover. (I may or may not have been one of those people ha ha). But since I’m partial to storms and flowers, this was a combo I definitely couldn’t resist.

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That sky looks pretty cool, albeit a wee bit scary as well. Okay, Okay, putting down the camera now and heading into the nearest building.

Believe it or not, our Tulip Festival is not just about showcasing a bunch of pretty flowers to lure tourists, there’s actually a heartwarming story about it. It all started because of the friendship between two countries: us (Canada) and the Netherlands.

During the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, the Dutch Royal Family fled for refuge to Canada and stayed right here in Ottawa. In 1943, Princess Juliana gave birth to her daughter, Princess Margriet, at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. 

To ensure her daughter was born on ‘Dutch soil’, so she could later retain the right to the throne, a part of our hospital was proclaimed Dutch Territory.

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As a gift of gratitude, the Royal family sent us 100,000 tulips, and as a result our beloved tulip festival was born.

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To this day, the Netherlands continue to give our city 20,000 tulip bulbs every year. Which, of course, we showcase along the Tulip route for locals and tourists to enjoy.

How cool is that?

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Even if you’re a local , you probably come to the Tulip Fest every year…or at least admire the tulips on your drive or bike ride across the city. It’s easy to do because they’re almost everywhere.

For a fun little throwback, here’s a couple of photos of myself as a youngin’ enjoying the Tulip Festival. This first one was taken when I was still in high school while on a date with my boyfriend at the time. Try not to laugh too hard at my incredibly teased hair (it was the late 80s so Hairspray was mandatory).

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And here’s another fun pic taken a few years later (mid 90s) while at the Festival with my girlfriends. You’ll notice my hair is much flatter —sans the 20 tonnes of hairspray (haha)

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And for some recent fun….these two photos were taken last year at the Tulip Festival with our little pooch. She got carried around a bit as it was quite hot (and she IS a Princess after all).

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Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I thought I’d share a nice photo I came across with my dad (who has since passed away) when we went to the Tulip Festival with a couple of his friends a bunch of years ago. Seeing this photo of him yesterday made me smile as it was a bit of a tough day (Father Day and then it’s his birthday today, so a double whammy of memories flowing through me). But this brought back fun memories of our wonderful day at the festival together. 

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Behind them is a gorgeous ‘Tulip themed’ painting on display at the festival about a decade ago. I haven’t seen it since, unfortunately, but it was a beautiful piece of tulip-themed artwork.

If you’re coming to Ottawa for the Tulip Festival, you’ll find a bulk of the tulips in a few areas around town in what the city refers to as the ‘Tulip Route’. The best tulip spotting is in Commissioner’s Park near Dow’s Lake. In this area alone, you’ll find over 300,000 tulips planted here. 

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Most likely, though, you’ll be staying downtown, so Dow’s Lake is actually far away enough from the city’s downtown core that you’ll probably need a car or a bike (you can rent them downtown) if you want to check out the tulips at Commissioner’s Park. 

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But I recommend the bike ride as it’s a gorgeous ride along the historic Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). I’d say it’s about a 20 minute bike ride from Parliament Hill to Dow’s Lake, probably longer if you stop to take photos along the way (trust me, you’ll want to).

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I also recommend stopping at our newly renovated Lansdowne Park (Ottawa’s relatively trendy and hopping ‘Glebe neighbourhood’) along the way to Dow’s Lake (it’s roughly at the halfway point) where you can check out our brand new venue for tulips, gorgeous tulip sculptures, and also live music and vendors set up within inside the iconic Aberdeen Pavillion (built in 1898).

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 The Tulip Sculpture garden inside the Pavillion is just gorgeous and it’s chock full of painted tulip sculptures from local artists.

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This one of the Royal Couple sharing a kiss is my favourite! It’s absolutely stunning…

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It’s pretty cool and definitely worth checking out if you’re here for the festival. You can also order a glass of wine or a beer afterward while enjoying some great music.

The other popular area to see lots of tulips is Major’s Hill Park, which is right downtown and close to the Parliament Buildings. Even better, you get to enjoy walking along the pathway which overlooks our beautiful Ottawa River (the province of Quebec is just on the other side). 

If you’re thinking of coming to Ottawa for the Canadian Tulip Festival, next year (2017) will be a big celebration as our city is celebrating our 150th birthday!

The 72nd Tulip Festival will run from May 12th to the 22nd. Check out this page to get updates closer to the event if you plan to come. And let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!😀

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** Note: This post is NOT sponsored by anyone (such as the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Tourism etc). It’s my own writing, research, experiences at the festival as well as photos. I did not get any compensation for this post at all. So you can be reassured it’s my own unbiased opinion on our festival. I’m from this beautiful city and many of my international friends and readers have been asking me for info on Ottawa and this event, so I thought I’d share it with you all.  

Hope you’re all doing great and happy START of summer! To properly say goodbye to our Tulips, I decided to make a pie with fun tulip-shaped pastry on top. Pie and flowers? You just can’t go wrong with that combo, right?

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Here are a few more spring pictures (mostly of flowers in bloom around town) to sign off my favourite season on the right foot. Man, I’m SO gonna miss Spring!

Thanks for reading, guys! Love, Dana xo

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Dogs, Getting older AND Double Chocolate Scones (yes, you need these!)

Hello friends….Who likes chocolate? and yummy scones? How about both in one shot?  Yes please!

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But first…I’ve got some great news! As you may have read in my last post, my little monkey just had major surgery to remove a mass (and her spleen) a few weeks ago. Well I FINALLY  heard back from the vet/surgeon and it seems the large mass–which is generally malignant 70+% of the time in older dogs–looks to be benign! As are the other nodules that were tested during surgery via biopsy. Woohoo!

She’s not 100% recovered yet, but she seems to be doing very well. I’m so relieved and hope she continues to improve.

It’s that time of year again. Yep, yesterday I turned another year older (er, I mean younger…..yeahhhhh). I’ve decided that I’m sticking with 25, if you’re wondering. Yep, even though I might be a bunch of years older than that. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. I probably shouldn’t mention that I grew up in the 80s then, hey? Womp womp womp.

I had a wonderful day and got spoiled silly. The day started with a delicious breakfast and coffee at my favourite diner and then I spent the afternoon at the park with my furry pals. Afterward I met a dear friend for coffee and then I went for dinner and drinks with some family and friends. Busy day! I’m so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life… thanks, guys—if you’re reading!

I may have had too much coffee (Surprise, surprise).

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Speaking of chocolate…(wait, wasn’t I?) you don’t need a special occasion whatsoever to make these puppies. You’ll probably want to make them every day, especially if you’re a serious chocoholic like me.

Don’t fret if you’re not a big teetotaler, you don’t have to get the gals together for High Tea to partake in these delectable scones (though that could be fun). I may be biased, as I am a big coffee addict, but these are AMAZING with a cuppa steaming hot coffee. Hopefully they will be your cup of tea, too (er, I mean coffee).

You gotta like chocolate though (duh!) because these ooze both dark and semi-sweet chocolate.  Double the Chocolate– double the fun, right?

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(Can you tell I only took one picture of these? Oops).

These scones are slightly sweet (esp. if you add the glaze) and with a delicious buttery, moist and crumbly texture. And then you drizzle ’em with a coffee glaze and dark chocolate. YUM!!

As y’all know, I’ve been experimenting over the past few years to re-create gluten-free versions of all my ol’ favourites. Scones can be tough as they always seem to be too gritty, dry, or ricey. So I’ve been playing around and finally found a good combo of ingredients that make a moist, yummy scone—even for gluten-free. Adding chocolate makes anything better, right? Some of my lovely friends, who don’t really need to eat gluten-free, couldn’t tell the difference between these and regular scones (yahoo!). If you can eat wheat, than by all means just use All-Purpose flour in this recipe instead. 

Don’t be tempted to skip the glaze. I’ve been trying to cut back on overly sweet treats, too, and one of the reasons I like scones is that they usually have less sugar (than, say–muffins or cupcakes), so I don’t feel too bad adding a bit of sugar (in the form of a glaze) here. I was inspired by one of my favourite Tim Horton’s donuts (which I can no longer eat) called Old Fashioned Chocolate (cakey donut with a milky glaze..Mnnn!). I find these quite similar.

If you like dark chocolate, melt some of your favourite and drizzle a little bit on top! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Hope you’re all doing great and enjoying Spring so far. And for my fellow Canadians, hope you all have a great long weekend! Yay for the un-official start of summer.

Love, Dana xo

Double Chocolate (Gluten-free) Scones

Inspired & adapted from:  The Brown-Eyed Baker  and  Inside Bru Crew life                                                                                                                                                                Makes 6 medium-size (or 8 small) Scones


Ingredients

1 ½ cup Gluten-free AP flour (your own mix or store-bought) + 1 tbsp extra–if needed

1/3 cup good quality cocoa (I use dark cocoa)

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but I love it in these)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon  espresso powder (optional,but boosts chocolate flavour)

½ cup cold butter (or, you can try coconut oil–but not liquid, though I haven’t tried this myself)

½ cup whipping cream or coconut cream (from a can of coconut milk)

1 egg, room temp

2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract or regular vanilla

½ cup chopped semi-sweet good quality chocolate (or chocolate chips will work, too). 

1/3 cup dark chocolate, melted (for drizzling on scones- if desired).

For the Coffee Glaze:

1 ½ cup icing sugar

2 Teaspoons vanilla bean extract

2-3 Tablespoons coffee, cooled


Instructions                                                                                                                                                               1. Preheat Oven to 400F, Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

2. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and espresso powder (if using). If you’re using gluten-free flour, I recommend whisking vigorously as I find it helps combine the mix of flours better.

3. Cut or grate butter into the flour mixture. If using coconut oil instead (again you’ll have to experiment if you’re brave, I haven’t tried coconut oil in scones yet), make sure it’s thick (like butter in texture—just place in fridge or freezer until it solidifies) and cut it into flour mix

4. In a separate (small) bowl mix together wet ingredients:  egg, cream or coconut cream and vanilla bean extract.

5. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir just until it’s mixed. If the dough looks too dry or tough, add a bit of extra cream (or milk of any kind is fine) until it comes together. If dough seems wet, add a tablespoon of flour. I find different flour mixes (especially store-bought) can vary quite a bit and some are thirstier than  others

6. Add chopped chocolate or chips.

7. Make a big ball out of the dough and then flatten into a disc. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cut the dough into 6 wedges, flattening the disc a bit if it’s too tall. If you like smaller scones, you can cut into 8 pieces instead. I usually like to pull the pieces apart a little so they cook more evenly.

8. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out relatively clean (careful not to  over-bake these as they tend to dry out very quickly, especially if you’re using gluten-free flours).

Donut-like Glaze (optional): In a medium bowl, mix together icing sugar, 2 tablespoons of coffee and vanilla extract. Add another tablespoons of coffee if you’d like to thin the glaze a little. After taking scones out of oven, let them cool for about a minute and then either dunk scones in the glaze or brush it on the top (and sides) of scones. (I find the brushing easier, and way less messy).  Allow glaze to cool for a few minutes.

Chocolate Drizzle (optional) If you like dark chocolate, drizzle the top of these scones to add even more yummy chocolate flavour.

Enjoy with a cuppa coffee/tea!

Tulips, Baking for Fort Mac, and Nashville!

Hey guys, I’m a bit overdue for a post here, aren’t I? whoops. Doncha’s worry, I’ve got a few stories in the works and they’ll be up shortly–one of which is a yummy recipe (Double chocolate scones anyone?) and a post on our famous Tulip Festival– which is starting today.

The tulip is Ottawa’s flower, which symbolizes our friendship with the Netherlands. During the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, the Dutch Royal Family fled for refuge to Canada. In 1943, Princess Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet here in Ottawa.

To ensure to her child was born on Dutch soil (so she could retain the right to the throne) a part of the hospital was proclaimed Dutch Territory. As a gift of gratitude, the Royal family sent us 10,000 Tulips–which is how our festival began. And the Netherlands continues to give Ottawa 20,000 tulip bulbs every year. It’s a wonderful story of the friendship between two counties.

I just got back from the official launch of this year’s Festival. Good times!

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I’ll post more flower pics and other fun shots of the festival next week.

In the meantime, I’m sharing some of my road trip to Nashville with you as it’s been two years since I was there during my big Deep South road trip (story just below my update). 

Firstly, I have some sad doggie news. Zoey, one of my furry friends, passed away a few weeks ago. The lil’ darling was almost 15, which is actually pretty good for a Golden Retriever. She’s missed tons already! Then about a week after her passing, my own lil’ gal (who’ve you’ve seen in many of my stories on here) fell ill, too. She just had major surgery to remove a large mass and her spleen. She did well with the surgery (considering she’s 14), at least–thankfully. The vet hasn’t called me with the results yet (from the biopsy), so cross your fingers for us.

In light of my absolutely insane vet bill (upwards of $8K—for tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, overnight stays and the surgery–yikes!), I’m going to be taking a hiatus from travelling for a bit. But this little cutie is SO worth it (that’s just mud on her face, by the way—Hello Spring!)

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 This is sweet Zoey, may she RIP. Hopefully she’s chasing lots of tennis balls and Frisbees in heaven (and possibly getting lots of yummy treats, too)😀

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At the very least, my huge vet bill has motivated me to finally get my baking biz up ‘n running (YAY). So for all my dear friends and fellow O-town homies, I’ll have my menu ready soon in case you’d like to partake in some delicious goodies to help me get my business started (hint hint!–thanks guys haha).

One of my first big baking projects is a fundraiser to help those affected by the huge wildfires in Fort McMurry (Northern Alberta). As I’m sure most of you been following (here in Canada, anyway) know by now,  many of the town’s residents had to flee their homes (most with only a couple of hours’ notice) and are now without much food, money, or clothes. And many don’t have a home to go back to, either. It’s just devastating. So, I’ll be baking treats to help raise funds for those affected by the fires (via the Red Cross). Every little bit helps! More details coming soon!

Two years ago next week, I was on a wonderful road trip to Nashville (and a few other areas in the Deep South) with Cowboy and that’s what I’m sharing with you today. Since this was the very first trip that I covered here on my blog, that also means that I’m celebrating my blog’s 2nd Anniversary!!! Woohoo!

We arrived in Louisville, Kentucky on my birthday and spent the day at Churchill Downs before heading to Nashville. The best birthday gift ever (besides being in BOTH Kentucky AND Tennessee, of course) was that I got asked for ID!! Oh yeah, even though I was more than double the legal drinking age. Needless to say, I hugged the bartender in excitement whom then proceeded to give me my beer free. When you’re over 30, this is the best compliment ever (right ladies?).

Let’s just ignore the fact that the bartender probably needed glasses (ha ha).

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So without further ado, let’s head to Nashville!

****May 17th 2014

I’ve been to Tennessee before, but I only managed to get to Memphis on that trip…and just barely as I was only there for a day (I know, I am slightly crazy).

So I wasn’t gonna miss Nashville this time ’round…no sirree. Cowboy and I were both super pumped to visit Music City as neither of us have been before.

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We’re covering a lot of ground on this trip (from Ontario to New Orleans) in a very short an amount of time so we’re not staying in any one place long. As a result, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to update my blog. Which is actually a good thing when you’re on vacation, right? 

When we arrived in Nashville our first priority was to find a hotel. Since we didn’t know when we’d get here exactly, we decided not to book a hotel just in case (oops! big mistake, here anyway). Unfortunately most of the hotels were already full and we were told that it’s because it’s wedding season and Nashville is a big bachelorette spot.  No wonder it was slim pickin’s, especially downtown.

We ended up finally finding a nice hotel in Brentwood, just outside of Nashville.  The Four Points Sheraton. is a great lil’ hotel and the price was reasonable, too (hotels in Nashville tend to be very expensive). If you’re heading here and you’ll have access to a car (and don’t mind not being downtown– that is), I highly recommend staying outside Nashville in one of the suburbs. You’re still quite close but for a much cheaper rate.

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I loved the lobby. Lots of beautiful dark wood and it has a fun, casual/sporty atmosphere. Our room was also super clean and the staff here are all extremely friendly, too. They took the time to chat with us, recommend places to go, and were very helpful overall.

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The hotel has a bar too, which Cowboy was very excited about. He now had a place to hang out in while I cleaned up and got ready. He wasn’t too disappointed to learn that they had a Happy Hour with cheap pints from 5-7pm either (and it was 6:45pm when we got there–phew!).

We relaxed in the bar for a little while and I had a bubbly water while Cowboy finished his pint, and then we were ready to head into Nashville, about a 5-minute drive on the freeway. 

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We found the main strip easily, but it helped that it was starting to get dark and there are a TON of neon lights on Honkey Tonk Row. We couldn’t miss it if we tried, really. It reminded me a bit of the strip in Vegas–albeit a much smaller version of it of course.

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As we meandered down the street, we heard a lot of dance music and very little country, which surprised us both. A couple of locals told us later on that it’s mostly ‘kids’ (25ish and under– their words, not mine) hitting the strip on Saturday nights, especially during Wedding season. As a result, the bars are catering more to that age bracket (fair enough). But we were still hoping to catch some country music while we’re here. We are in Cowboy Country, after all!

Cowboy is a huge country music fan (when he’s not listening to Led Zeppelin, that is) so he kept flailing his hands around in disbelief and exclaiming “REALLY?” at every bar we walked by. It was rather amusing, actually. A couple of times he changed it up with: “Seriously?”  heh heh

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We had a good laugh at the bachelorette parties stumbling in and out of the bars (already drunk– and it wasn’t even 9pm!) . Every second person we saw had something along the lines of ‘last day of freedom’ inscribed on their shirts (or foreheads). I hadn’t realize Nashville is thee bachelor party destination of choice for many until we got here. It’s no wonder the hotels are jam-packed (it’s definitely good for business).  

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I got to meet Elvis while we roamed the main strip. He was hanging out on the street corner greeting all the tourists. I’ve always thought he was probably a nice, friendly chap. Even though he thinks he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog…

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We were starting to get hungry since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (very early this morning) so we made our way to Whiskey Kitchen, which was fairly close to the main strip (I’d done some important food research before we left on our trip). A couple of of the staff members at the hotel also told us the food at this place was excellent so we had even more incentive to check it out.

They were right! Everything was amazing. And, I finally got a chance to try these puppies: HELLO, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Where have you been all my life? (Holy mother of deliciousness).

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I’ve been dreaming about these since 1991 (when the movie of the same name came out) so I was so happy to finally get the opportunity to partake in this incredibly southern specialty. They are worth the visit down south alone!  Even though they are chock full of gluten and I knew I’d pay for it dearly later (gluten intolerance, I’m not celiac) they were so worth it.

The place was pretty packed and it was starting to feel more like a club, but the patio was quiet at least. It was starting to get rather cool, but we are Canadian which means that this felt July to us (ha ha). Most people here seem to be locals, which explains why they were all inside. (laughing at us Crazy Canadians, I’m sure)

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It was the best birthday dinner, ever. Cowboy was spoiling me silly and our meals were over-the-top fabulous!

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After filling our stomachs with delicious southern grub, we finally headed back to the Strip in search of some country music. Cowboy was determined that he wasn’t going to leave Nashville without finding at least some country.

Now this place looked promising. It’s called Honkey Tonk and it’s got 3 floors so they’ve got to have some good country music, right? Nope. All hip- hop coming through the speakers (ugh!)

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A few nice folks we chatted with told us to try Tootsies, one of the oldest bars in Nashville (and throughout the country, even). Although they were playing more rock than country, it was better than most of the stuff we’ve heard so far. It was a pretty neat place, although we were packed like sardines.

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We had a drink, stayed for a few songs and enjoyed the tunes. Since the band was playing my kinda music (Bon Jovi,  ACDC…etc) I was quite happy here.

But it started to get even busier shortly after so we soon decided to move on. We found another fun little bar called ‘The Whiskey Bent Saloon’ that had some awesome live music–and it wasn’t too crazy busy, either.

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After enjoying a bit of music here we decided to call it a night as we were both up really early this morning (remember, I’m an extreme night owl, which means I only slept a couple of hours last night–haha!). Plus we have a full day tomorrow as we’ll be checking out the Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash Museum, and a plantation as well. Stay tuned for more adventures in Nashville ya’ll.

Love, Dana xo

Snow-Capped Mountains, Gold Rush & Brothels…Oh my!

 This is part 2 of my Yukon/Alaska road trip. If you missed it, take a peek at Part 1 of the incredible drive from Whitehorse to Skagway.

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We arrived in Alaska after an extremely whiplash-inducing drive from Whitehorse. Every. single. turn along the Klondike highway, which winds from the Yukon into Southeastern Alaska, is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It’s no wonder this drive is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in North America.

It’s definitely up there.

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All we could see for miles in any direction were craggy mountain peaks, sparkling glacial lakes, lush alpine trees and spectacular waterfalls.  I was speechless which, as many of you know, rarely happens (and I’m almost certain my travel buddy Al enjoyed it! ha ha).

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Since it was early Spring, many of the mountains were still covered in snow. As you can imagine, Spring thaw comes a wee bit later up here. Surprisingly, though, it was really warm: 25 degrees, baby! (77 F). It was much warmer up here than it was in Ontario at the time even. Not bad considering I was expecting sub-zero temps and that I’d have to wear long johns the whole time I was here.

Although it felt like summer, the contrast of the snow-capped peaks against the brilliant blue sky offered us a spectacular view we wouldn’t get in the middle of July. Just stunning…

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Since it was early in the season, we had the entire highway to ourselves. I think we passed 10 cars on the 2-hour drive from Whitehorse. It was eerily quiet, but a nice change from the insanely jam-packed freeways back home.

Not much traffic up here whatsoever.

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you might recall that my friend Al is from the Yukon so I’ve been fortunate to have joined him on his visits back home a few times. On my first trip here, in the late 90’s, we did a camping trip to Skagway and I’d fallen completely in love with this gorgeous little town.

A return trip here has been long overdue.

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Skagway is so well-preserved that you might feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine and went back in time a hundred years while you’re here. Since my first visit was in 1998, going back in time a century would have put me smack-dab in the middle of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898!!!! Cool beans…

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Since the town was celebrating the centennial of the Gold Rush on that visit, there were tons of gold-rush themed events, costumes, and activities taking place around town.  It sure felt like I’d been transported to the late 1800s. No DeLorean required!

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When gold was discovered in the Yukon in 1896, thousands of folks flocked north–practically overnight– to chase the ‘promise of gold’ in the Yukon. Skagway became the “Gateway to the Gold Rush” mostly due to its proximity to the Chilkoot Trail, where prospectors started their arduous hike to Dawson.

In just a year, Skagway went from being a tiny village to a full-fledged town with over 10,000 people! Houses were rapidly built, and shortly after a bunch of shops, gambling houses and bars followed suit. With that, of course, brought a few rather ‘unsavoury’ elements to the town including alcohol (gasp!), prostitution and crime.

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It was basically a lawless town where anything goes, really. Members of the Northwest Mounted Police (apparently) referred to Skagway as ‘A little better than hell on earth‘.

Um…..I think it’s better that I’m here 100 years later, after all then😀

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To say alcohol was a big part of this boom town would be an understatement. At the height of the Gold Rush, there were close to 80 bars in operation here! Considering it was still a pretty small town (there’s only 900 people living here today), there was no shortage of places to grab a pint back then at all.

If you were a bartender during those days, you probably would have made more money working here than if you’d gone further north panning for gold.

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The Red Onion Saloon was the most popular bar in town, though I strongly suspect that might have had something to do with the fact that it operated as a brothel as well.

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And it’s still open today! For only $10 you can still get 20 minutes—- the same price as it was in 1898. But, before ya’ll get too excited, that only gets you a tour of the upstairs these days (sorry guys). The bar no longer offers any ‘extra entertainment’ to go with your beer.

Al wasn’t too sad though, mostly because he was excited to try a ‘Smoked Porter’ from a local brewery. While I do love me a porter, this one was way too smokey for my liking (eek!)

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At the height of the Gold Rush, 10 women worked here under ‘Madam Diamond Lil’, who charged customers $100 an hour or $1,000 a night. (this was back in the late 1800s, price-y!).

Each of the women had their own doll sitting on the bar that matched their hair and clothing. A potential customer would just point to the doll of their choice, pay the bartender and then—after a little bit of ‘liquid courage’– he could wander upstairs to say hello. The bartender then would lay the doll down so new customers would know that particular girl was ‘occupied’ at the time. 

The bar’s slogan today is: “Our Business is Your Pleasure.” Ha ha! Cute. I thought that was a nice little tribute to its very colourful past.

Did I mention I got a new job? Yep, I got to meet one of the sweet Gold Rush ‘Goodtime Girls’ and she told me they were hiring!

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As a tour guide, of course.

Don’t worry, this place really is just a bar and tourist attraction now. If you’re curious to see what a real brothel looks like, you can get a tour of the upstairs after your meal. As I expected, the tour really is a ‘quickie’ (ha ha sorry-had to). It basically consists of: “Here’s a bedroom…oh and here’s another bedroom…etc”

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It’s pretty neat to see though, and I highly recommend it if you’re visiting Skagway. There are 10 small rooms (called ‘cribs’) in the upstairs bordello and each has an escape room as well (probably a good idea). There are also lots of cool antiques on display throughout the upstairs too. I have to say for my first bordello viewing, I was rather impressed.

You can’t visit Skagway without learning about Soapy Smith, one of the most notorious ‘characters’ of the Gold Rush. He was a swindler who considered himself kind and generous because he gave money to the needy while at the same time running the biggest crime organization in town.

And he ran a few good scams, too. The most famous one of all was probably his ‘telegraph scam’ where he charged $5 to those who wanted to send a message back home to their loved ones. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Unbeknownst to these poor folks, the telegraph hadn’t even been invented yet (this was in 1898, the telegraph wasn’t invented until 1901) so none of their messages went anywhere.  Not a very nice chap, indeed.

Soapy also operated many of the town’s saloons from this building, which he called ‘Soapy’s Parlor’.  It still stands today.

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Many folks called this place the ‘real city hall’ (even though the town already had a city hall). Looks a bit dodgy, if you ask me. I wasn’t overly surprised to learn that Soapy died from a gunshot wound on July 8,1898. I’ll bet he wasn’t overly missed here in town.

Skagway is quite touristy, of course, since many cruise ships stop here all summer long.  But if tourist shops or historic places/museums aren’t your thing, Skagway is also an outdoor lover’s playground. If you love camping, hiking, water sports etc, you’ll be in your glory here.

On my two visits here, I went on a quite a few amazing hikes in the area.

This is Al on our waterfall hike in May ’98.  He was pretty happy to be wearing a t-shirt and shorts…. in May!!!…up North!! (can you tell I/we were excited about this?)

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Here he is 12 years later on a different hike in Skagway.

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He hasn’t aged much in nearly 15 years (and his ego hasn’t changed at all either–ha ha).

And here is a photo of me during our first visit here in ’98. (Do I ever look young here, holy cow!)

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And… a decade or so later. Different waterfall, same pose😀

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There are so many gorgeous waterfalls ’round these parts that you’d be hard-pressed to not come across one whilst exploring the area. If you’re here via a cruise, there are so many hikes around the town, you won’t have to rent a car at all either.

This is one of the coolest buildings in Skagway. And also one of the most photographed ones as well.

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Built in 1899, the Arctic Brotherhood Hall was constructed with over 9,000 small pieces of driftwood. It’s got such a unique, rustic look, I’ve never seen another building like it.

This hall was built for the men who organized a fraternity while en route from Seattle to Skagway during the Gold Rush. The brotherhood provided assistance, social interaction and support for those visiting the northern communities.

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A visit to Skagway isn’t complete without a trip to the Gold Rush Cemetery. It’s a bit heartbreaking though as you learn about all the poor folks who lost everything (including their lives) in their attempts to strike it rich. So sad…

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But the area and hiking trails are quite beautiful…it’s definitely worth a visit.  

Especially since this is where you’ll find the World’s Largest Gold Nugget!

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While I was taking photos, Al was trying to figure out how to sneak it out of there and put it in the camper van (just kidding!). 

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After a great hike, we headed back downtown to grab a bite to eat as we were starving. While meandering around the waterfront, where we parked, we came across this in the middle of the campground/park. Yep, it’s an outdoor toilet. Skagway’s version of an outhouse….I think???.

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Um…yeah, I think I can wait ’til we get to the restaurant (ha ha).

While there is so much more I could share about Skagway, this is already getting too long (surprisingly….. right?) so I’ll wrap it up with just a few more pics of the area.

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Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you get a chance to head to Alaska in the near future. If you haven’t already, hopefully this post will convince you that it’s a really good idea!!!!

 Happy Spring!

Love, Dana  xo

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Bourbon Street and a Carousel Bar! New Orleans, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans, which reminded me that I haven’t even finished telling you guys about my visit to The Big Easy, yet! (tsk tsk).

I bet you’ve all been waiting with bated breath since I posted about my Arrival in New Orleans, right? (‘yes’ is the correct answer– ha ha).

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Cowboy and I were on a big road trip throughout the Deep South which included  Louisville, Kentucky (where we toured the Home of the Kentucky Derby), the Country Music Capital of the World aka ‘Nashville’ (here and here) and then a few days in Memphis (here and here) before we finally rolled into New Orleans.  

After we checked into our hotel in the French Quarter, we headed straight to our room to drop off our luggage. If you caught Part 1 of this story, you might recall the funny story about our room. When we arrived to the room and took a quick look around, we immediately headed straight back the front desk to ask for an upgrade (which the front desk agent originally offered, but we figured a basic room would be good enough).

What we didn’t expect, though, was the room to be windowless! I have trouble waking up most mornings–let alone if there is no sunlight (or heck, even daylight) in the morning. So a window is not really ‘optional’ for me. Call me crazy.

Fortunately the friendly woman at the front desk offered us a nice upgrade (again), especially when Cowboy mentioned that this was our first time in NOLA and we were celebrating my birthday here. Then–for only $70 more– we got a huge 2-level room with a living room area and not only a window, but a giant-sized balcony, too.  Score!    

This is MUCH better, don’t you agree?😀

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After we settled in, I contemplated taking a nap since I was completely exhausted. And it was barely even 9pm! If you know me you’re probably laughing right now because you know I rarely fall asleep before 2am. But I woke up way too early at the campground this morning (7am!!), then we’d toured Graceland, and we did some more sightseeing in Memphis….and then we did the 6-hour drive through Mississippi to get here in the 30+ degree (90 F) heat. Phew! No wonder I was feeling sleepy.

But there was no way I was going to fall asleep early on my first. night. ever. in New Orleans!! Instead, I just downed a couple of coffees, grabbed a quick shower  and then I was ready to hit Bourbon Street.

The moment we walked out of the hotel and started walking up Bourbon Street, I was suddenly wide awake and giddy with excitement. We’re in New Orleans, dudes!
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Caught in a Snowstorm in Vermont

Hey guys! I hope you’re all doing great and just as excited as I am that March is just around the corner.

Although it’s hard to believe with insane amount of snow we got this week. I’m talking 51 cm of the white stuff! Welcome to Snowmaggedon, er I mean, Ottawa. 

We don’t usually get that much snow all month, let alone in one day. In fact, we broke a 60+ year record as Ottawa hasn’t seen this much snow fall on a single day since 1947! Not that I hate snow or anything, but this is a little bit much as far as I’m concerned.

Somehow our neighbouring cities got spared by a long shot as Montreal only got a whole 10 cm & Toronto got a whopping 5 cm of snow! So clearly this storm was AIMING straight for us. I don’t know what we did to deserve it, but it must have been pretty nasty. 

I can’t really complain though as it HAS been a very mild winter overall. And we’ve had very little snow–until this week, anyway. Guess it was payback time.

Speaking of snowstorms…

It was a beautiful afternoon in early January and I was standing outside the Best Western in Burlington (Vermont) when I suddenly felt a few snowflakes fall onto my face. Cowboy and I had just arrived here after a 3 1/2 hour-drive from Ottawa, apparently right in the nick of time.

After a busy holiday and a quiet start to the new year, Cowboy suggested we escape for the weekend for some R & R. Since I’m always up for a road trip (which probably comes to a surprise to absolutely no one reading this), I was already packing my bags. Although it was just a short trip, it was nice to have a change of scenery. Even if that meant one with more snow than what we have back home in Canada (ha ha…*sigh*)

We’d originally planned to head to out Friday night but because I’m a Weather Channel addict, I’d learned about an impending storm heading toward the East Coast later that day. Since it was a beautiful, sunny day in Ottawa we probably would have never seen it coming otherwise.

So Cowboy and I pulled some (work) strings and left in the afternoon instead as neither of us were excited about driving the mountainous roads of Vermont– in a blizzard. 

Which, ironically, is exactly what happened to us on our drive back to Ottawa a few days later (at least we didn’t get this both ways)

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(we couldn’t delay our trip back home as we had prior commitments, else we would have waited it out. Yep, this white-knuckle drive was totally fun!)

So, after we arrived in Burlington and checked into the hotel, Cowboy and I hopped back in the truck and headed downtown (about a 5-minute drive) to grab some dinner and roam around. This wee bit of snow isn’t gonna stop these hungry Canadians.

We choose the Vermont Pub and Brewery which has always been one of my go-to spots in Burlington. Although I’m a little less impressed than I used to be when I first starting coming here over 15 years ago, their brews are good and their food is decent and relatively cheap. The atmosphere is fun, too.

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This is Vermont’s oldest brewpub, as it’s been open for over 25 years now. It started out as a small brewing business in the late 80’s and eventually transformed into a full-fledged brewery and restaurant soon after.

You’ll find the odd kooky Canadian in here sometimes, too.

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After a bite to eat, we bundled up and set forth back outside. It snowed a heck of a lot just since we went into the pub for dinner. Even the cute little Christmas tree outside the pub was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the white stuff.

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The snow was getting a bit lighter now, so we decided to wander down main street to soak in the sights of this Winter Wonderland. I usually only come here in the summer, so I was really enjoying seeing Burlington at this time of year with all the Christmas lights and decorations, especially in all this snow.

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We walked down Church Street, the town’s main drag. It’s a pedestrian-only street with a church at either end of it– hence the name. With so many restaurants, pubs and shops, it was actually quite bustling (despite this picture) with locals and tourists alike enjoying the newly fallen snow. 

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I thought we were the hardcore ones because we were sightseeing in a storm, until I saw this guy. Yep, he’s driving his bike in the deep snow. He must be a Canadian (ha ha)

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A bunch of kids had made use of the snowbanks for a toboggan hill in the middle of the street (thankfully it’s a pedestrian one). It was pretty fun to watch them having a grand ol’ time. 

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When we decided it was time to head back to the hotel, it took us awhile to uncover the truck. By us, I mean Cowboy warmed up the car and cleaned it off while I got some fresh coffee.

He’s such a sweetie, I think I’ll keep him🙂

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It was almost like we hadn’t seen a snowstorm before (ha ha). But pictures in a snowstorm are fun regardless, and I’m sure my southern U.S friends may appreciate these (since ya’ll probably rarely see snow).

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The next morning, we came outside to see this:

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Good thing I keep a shovel in the truck. The hotel had one available for guests to use too, which came in handy for a few southerners we chatted with who didn’t have one stored in their trunk.

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After we finally hauled the 15 feet of snow off the truck, we set out for downtown Burlington so we could have breakfast, do some shopping and wander around a bit now that more places were open.

It was like a ghost town now though, as it was snowing even harder now. For some reason, many of the people working at the various stores we popped into somehow knew that we are Canadians (??) . I guess it’s that obvious, eh? HA HA

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 Stay tuned for the next installement on our road trip to Stowe, Vermont..right after the storm. The sun came out and it was a beautiful day for a road trip…Woohoo!

Thanks for popping by guys, hope you aren’t feeling too cold reading this post. I’ll sign off with a cute picture of my doggie friends, who were the only ones who enjoyed the 50 cm of snow we got a couple of days ago! xo  Dana

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Black Forest Chocolate Cream Pie & Happy Chocolate Day

Hello friends! It’s that time of year again.Yep, chocolate will be half-price starting tomorrow…Yippee! I hope you’re all enjoying the day & weekend with your loved ones. And eating lots of chocolate, perhaps even a chocolate cream pie? Like this one…

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I’ve never been a huge Valentines Day fan, regardless of whether I’ve been single or in a relationship. I always found it overly commercial, but I’ll admit I do like the story/history of St Valentine.

When I used to work in restaurants, I was shocked at how many couples spent their Valentine’s Day dinners fighting or bickering. I’d estimate at least half my tables were having some unpleasant discussions during their meals. My guess is that it was either the pressure of trying to impress the other, or one’s expectations of the day were a little too high or optimistic. Or perhaps they were expecting more of a 4-course extravagant meal? I’ll bet there are many studies done on this.

Cowboy and I don’t really do much for Valentine’s Day as we both don’t really think it’s a big deal. But this was our first Valentines Day ever that we were both off work and so we got to spend the day together.

Yesterday we had the coldest weather we’ve had in 22 years! Yep, on Saturday morning it was actually colder here in Ontario than it was at the North Pole!! I only WISH I were kidding. It was -31 with a windchill of -41 in Ottawa (& Toronto). It was only -30 at the north pole, apparently (with the windchill). Clearly I need to head further north to get warmer weather. 

I laughed and almost snorted my coffee up my nose this morning when I read a twitter update from someone in York City freaking out that the windchill was -13! All I could think of is: “I’m heading to New York for some Spring weather!” (ha ha). It’s warmed up a lot since yesterday though, thankfully, and we’ve had an unusually warm winter overall (until yesterday) so I really can’t complain…much. 

So with today’s warmer weather, and a rare day off together, Cowboy and I went to see the ice sculptures at Winterlude. We timed it perfectly as the sculptures had been melting like crazy the past few weeks, but they’re back to normal now as they were fixed up a little, and the recent deep freeze helped keep them intact. 

They were pretty impressive! This hockey bear is totally Canadian…I love it. (I’ll have to admit, I’m also rather biased when it comes to Bears and hockey hehe).

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After walking around for awhile, it was time to warm up a little (it was still -25 with the windchill). So we headed to a nearby chocolate cafe (which had just recently opened) for a hot chocolate and a light lunch since we were getting hungry.

I may have had a bit of chocolate overload at this place (to help cope with the cold weather— um…yeah, that’s it). Is there even such a thing as a chocolate overload? (I wouldn’t know).

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This is my new happy place. I’m sure you can see why. It may or may not have something to do with my chocolate addiction.

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Later in the evening we went for Pizza and beer (wine for me) at a pub. Yep, only the fanciest Valentine’s Day dinner for us😀

Big Rig is a fabulous local brewery with some of the best (pub) food in the city. Their pizza is incredible. And Cowboy’s friend works there too, so we had a nice visit with him. 

(I think I’ll be eating lots of salad and veggies this coming week to get re-healthified. My current diet is not overly paleo).

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To celebrate the festive holiday AND to cope with the cold weather, I thought it’d be a good idea to do some baking (because normally I hate it). So lo and behold, I made Cowboy a chocolate cream pie, with a twist. It’s got cherries on top! (it’s not just an expression)

Say hello to my Black Forest Chocolate Cream Pie. This one’s topped with a fresh (home-made) cherry filling and whipped cream.

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I love a homemade, diner-style chocolate cream pie. I generally don’t like mixing chocolate with fruit, but this was a fun change and a very tasty addition (especially if your cherry filling is homemade, as opposed to the nasty can stuff).

If you’re not a cherry fan, just leave it out as it’s just a topping that goes along with the whipped cream.The cherry filling in this recipe is the same one I use to make a fresh cherry pie (just a much smaller amount) and it’s scrumptious–especially with the subtle accents of cinnamon, lemon juice and vanilla thrown in there.

This chocolate cream pie is delicious either way, I hope you’ll like it. If you like Black Forest Cake, I think you’ll enjoy this dessert. Here’s the pie before adding all the stuff one top. You can even just add a strawberry for decoration.

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Even my little dog approves. Okay, she didn’t actually try the pie–since dogs can’t have chocolate–but she did an exceptional job guarding it. (much to Cowboy’s chagrin ha ha).

I hope you guys had a great weekend & Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget chocolate is half-price tomorrow! (be there or be square).

 Dana xo

 Black Forest Chocolate Cream Pie

Inspired & adapted from: Pie on Sunday
Makes one 8″ pie


Ingredients

Chocolate Filling:                                                                                                       2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch                                                                                         ½ teaspoon salt                                                                                                              4 egg yolks, room temperature                                                                              2 ½ cups milk (regular, coconut, cashew, etc– except almond milk which I find too thin).                                                                                             1/2 cup cream (or coconut cream, or reg milk is fine)                             1 cup chopped good quality chocolate preferably (or reg choc chips)                                                                                                                                    ½ teaspoon salt                                                                                                                1 Tablespoon dark cocoa                                                                                          1 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)
2 Tablespoons butter                                                                                                  2 Tablespoons vanilla bean extract (or reg vanilla extract)                                                                                                                                        Cherry Filling–for the top  (optional)                                                                2 cups fresh or frozen cherries                                                                            1/3 cup sugar                                                                                                                   1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch                                                                                   2 teaspoons lemon juice                                                                                            1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but delicious)                                           2 teaspoons vanilla

Cooked Pie Crust–homemade or store-bought (I prefer a chocolate cookie for this pie & gluten-free)                                   Whipped cream (or coconut whip)


Instructions                                                                                                 

Chocolate Filling:                                                                                                        1. In medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cocoa, espresso powder (optional), egg yolks, and salt. Slowly drizzle in milk (and cream–if using).                                                                                                             2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for several minutes until mixture has thickened considerably.                                3.  Remove from heat and pour into a strainer/colander over a bowl (optional, but makes it smoother). Then immediately whisk in chocolate, butter and vanilla until chocolate is melted and it’s thoroughly mixed.                                                                                                       4.  Allow to cool for a few minutes then pour into cooked, cooled pie crust. Refrigerate for several hours (at least 4-6 hours is ideal).

Cherry Filling:  (optional)                                                                                          1. In medium saucepan mix cherries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice                                                                                                              2. Cook on medium heat stirring often until mixture starts to thicken and cherries have broken down (approx 5 minutes).            3. Let cool in fridge until pie has set.

When pie filling is ready, spoon cherry mix on top, and garnish with whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings. Enjoy! 

The Golden Gate Bridge…and football!

Hey guys! Did you enjoy the Superbowl last weekend? If you’re not a football lover, I hope you enjoyed the food–at the very least.

I’m a huge hockey fan (Go Bruins!) but I’ve started watching football too, since Cowboy’s a big fan. I’m not a complete stranger to the sport as I was on the girls’ Touch Football team in Junior High, and I used to played tackle football with my brother and his friends (ouch) growing up.

I also went to many Rough Rider games too, until our team suddenly disappeared in the mid ’90s. It’s back now though, under a new name (unfortunately) called ‘The Redblacks’. So now there’s no chance you can confuse us with Saskatchewan😀

The Ottawa Rough Riders were formed in 1876, whereas the Regina Roughriders (later changed to Saskatchewan Roughriders) didn’t come onto the field until 1910. But since both teams played in different divisions across the country from one another, they never played each other until the CFL was formed in 1961. So the similar names (there’s a space between the Ottawa Rough Riders) wasn’t really a big deal. But when Ottawa’s team folded in 1996 and then came back in 2013, our team’s name changed. I’m just happy our city has football again! 

I enjoyed the Superbowl this past weekend and getting to see Peyton Manning (Broncos) win. And it’s even sweeter because this was likely Peyton’s last rodeo (as he’s presumably retiring), and this win means he’s finally tied with his (younger) brother for Superbowl rings. Now he can happily ride off into the sunset– at the age of 39! (like how I managed to connect football to my blog’s theme?) womp womp womp.

Okay, enough about football.

While watching the Superbowl coverage the last week—I promise this is no longer about football— I enjoyed seeing all the beautiful shots of San Francisco, which was home to this year’s Superbowl. It made me  reminisce about my road trip through California a few years ago. So I was then inspired to dig up some of my photos to share with you guys.

I’ll start with San Francisco, but don’t be surprised if you see posts from San Diego, the Big Sur and Hollywood in the near-ish future— since I’m on a roll (consider yourselves warned)

I was only in San Francisco for half a day–believe it or not–so I haven’t really seen the city. But at least I got to check out the gorgeous Bay and the famous bridge. Now, I bet you’re wondering: who in their right mind goes to San Francisco— for a few hours?  Before you go ahead and call me crazy(er), I promise I’ve got a good reason.

It was the summer of 2008 and my good friend Al and I were on a big road trip across the Western U.S. We hadn’t planned to hit the California coast at all, actually. We’d started our road trip in Vancouver, drove through Washington and Oregon, crossed over Northern Cali to Nevada, meandered around Arizona and only then, whilst in Tombstone contemplating where to go next, did we decide– on a whim– to drive to the coast.

It was a wonderful drive, and we’re glad we did it. But, by the time we arrived in San Francisco we had 2 days left to get back to Vancouver for our flight home. Of course that put a bit of a damper on our sightseeing and dilly-dallying.

But you can’t drive along the California coast and not see the world’s most photographed bridge, right?

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Hello San Francisco!

We’d left San Diego early that morning, stopped in Hollywood for the afternoon, and finally arrived in San Francisco late that night. We decided to stay for the night because we were exhausted, but also because we wanted to see the bridge, at the very least, while passing through the city.

It was sunny and beautiful when we got up the next morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We were both pretty excited since neither of us have been to San Francisco before and we didn’t get to see too much in the dark last night.

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As we got closer to the bridge, though, we started to see some fog.  Which started to block our nice view of the bridge in the distance. 

We were now getting formally introduced to the world-famous San Francisco Fog!

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As many of you probably know, San Francisco is known for its fog, and it’s worse during the summer months. It’s caused by inland heat combining with the cool water of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The cold water then cools the air above it, and since cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, the moisture then condenses into fog.

Voila! The reason we couldn’t see the bridge anymore.

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The fact that San Francisco is bordered by water on all three sides  doesn’t help, either.

As we started to drive over the bridge, I felt like we were driving onto the set of a horror movie. It was pretty eerie going through it, but insanely cool at the same time.

Sure we get a little fog back home once in a while (usually early in the morning–which is why I rarely see it–haha) so I’ve seen fog before. But nothing like this.

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I love how the fog drifted dreamily through the bridge and completely surrounded us. My imagination then suddenly went into overdrive and I started thinking about different scenes from horror movies that my friends have made me watch over the years. There is a reason I can’t stand horror movies, and it might have to do with the fact that I couldn’t sleep for 3 years after seeing Amityville Horror when I was just 8 years-old.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about (even with Al beside me). As we approached the mid-point of the bridge, the fog suddenly started to dissipate and we could see blue sky again. And, more importantly, the view of the bridge and the bay! It was fabulous.

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It was even cooler that we got to experience the fog lifting right as we were crossing the bridge. And then we got to see the view at the tail end of it. We couldn’t ask for better luck than that.

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I love how striking the bridge looks against the brilliant blue sky.

I later learned that the bridge’s colour (called ‘International orange’) was actually the colour of the primer that was put on when the bridge was first built. The consulting architect (Irving Morrow) liked how the colour complemented the natural surroundings, so he decided to keep that colour scheme. It was probably a good call because the vibrant colour also helps make the bridge more visible in fog.

When we crossed the bridge, we arrived at the ‘Golden Gate National Recreation Area”. This was a perfect stop because I was hoping we could park somewhere so we could walk around a little.

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There was still a bit of fog in a few spots, but it had mostly evaporated from the late morning sun.

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The park was super busy with many other tourists who were just as excited as we were to finally be here.

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This is Joseph B. Strauss, who built the bridge in 1937. Sadly, he died a year later.   

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The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge ever built when it was completed in 1937. It spans the Golden Gate (hence the name), which is the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. It’s now, of course, one of the most recognized symbols of the city, and is one of the most visited (and photographed) bridges in the world.

While we walked around and got a bit closer to the water, I got a nice shot of this boat coming down the Bay. It shows just how massive this bridge really is.

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When we were here in San Francisco, it was mid July. So, being in sunny California in the middle of summer, you’d think it’d be warm–right? Look at the fleece jacket Al is wearing. BRR!

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It was surprisingly chilly (even though it was almost noon) and very windy. We walked onto the bridge for awhile, but we eventually turned back because of the heavy winds and the damp chilly air.

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We were then told by a local that, like many tourists, we wrongly assumed that: “It’s California, in July…it’s gotta be hot, right?” 

Nope. It’s actually quite cool here during the summer because of the ‘natural air conditioning’. When the hot inland air (from surrounding cities) rises and the heavier cold ocean air rushes in to replace it, this causes a cool breeze. And a rather damp one at that, I thought.

Thank goodness we packed pants and jackets. I felt bad for the folks we saw hopping off the tour buses in shorts and flip-flops. Yikes!

Apparently Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever spent was during the summer in San Francisco! (HA). Well, I’ve been here for half a day and I can see why😉

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Part of the reason it seemed extra cold to us, I think, was because just yesterday we were sweating in the scorching heat of the desert (near San Diego). So we hadn’t had much of a chance to get acclimated yet. As a result, this felt like Fall to us.

Speaking of Fall, we were also told that September (or October) is THEE time to come for ‘summer’ weather in San Francisco. Apparently it’s much warmer then than it is in July or August. So, keep that in mind if you’re heading to San Francisco. If you go in the summer, pack lots of fall clothing (you’ll be glad you did). 

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Now, before Al and I hop back in the car to start our trek northward, I think I’m off to find a nice cup of hot chocolate to warm up.

Thanks for reading everyone! I can’t wait to get back there so I can actually see the city, the cool neighbourhoods, do a trolley ride, try all the amazing food that I’ve heard so much about, check out Alcatraz…and more! If you’ve been, I’d love to hear about your trip (and I’d love to hear your suggestions).

Stay tuned for more stories and photos from the gold coast! Hope you’re all doing great!

Love, Dana xo