Sunday, July 29, 2012

Never on a Sunday!

This morning Christina, Tracy and I climbed aboard the Hop-on Hop-off Bus to enjoy the sights and sounds of lower Manhattan on the Downtown loop.  Our intent was to spend the day doing the Uptown and Downtown loops, remaining on the bus throughout the tours in order to get a good overview of the city and see what was where. For some reason when we hit stop number three, I said "Do you want to get off here?" and was greeted with an enthusastic "Yes!" What were we thinking?

Do NOT visit the Empire State Building on a Sunday in July.  Even though we had the New York Pass, it didn't help get us to the top any quicker.  It was just before noon when we arrived and we stood in-line for almost three hours, snaking our way through various levels of the building before watching an Imax type film that allowed us a close up view of the surrounding buildings that we would soon be towering above.

The wait was agonizing, but the view was quite spectacular!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Start Spreadin' the News....

..yes, I am leaving today.  I'm on my way to the Big Apple with 5 other women, three of whom I've yet to meet.  Is that proper grammar?  I'm to stoked to care!  You may not see me here for a while and I realize I've been an infrequent poster as of late, but once I return you can be guaranteed of some photos of New York, New York.  By a crazy coincidence there's a blogger conference going on in our hotel the last weekend that we're there, but we've got too much going on to get involved with it.

Hope you'll stay tuned for my upcoming posts.  I'm not sure what the computer situation will be like in NY but if I get the opportunity I will post while I'm there.  Hope you are enjoying the summer wherever you are!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Simple Summer Gratitude

It's my first Monday post in a while and my photo is actually from yesterday but I'm feeling particularly grateful for the past week of simple pleasures.  Public thankfulness seems to give my gratitude more weight somehow.

I'm very gratefully for the sunshine we've enjoyed the past week or so.

I'm grateful for Saturday.  We spent it mostly apart, doing chores and puttering around the yard, but  took a break on the deck mid-afternoon to hydrate, get out of the sun and reconnect.  I finally understand  the phrase "domestic bliss".

I'm gratefully for Cedar Creek Dog Beach as it's a much cooler spot to walk the dogs on these hot days. 

I'm grateful for the way this park/beach allows the dogs to play or move on.  Fearful dogs can be intimidated by Max's puppy playfulness.  At Cedar Creek he's had some really good romps with Grazey (a husky/greyhound cross), Lily (1 year old chocolate lab) and Ginger (2 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback).  

I'm grateful for Pitou's enjoyment of the area as well.  I think he's part goat as he navigates the steep hillside with ease, though I am a little worried about what he might find in some of the holes he pokes his little terrier nose into.

I'm so grateful for all of the fresh fruit and produce available to us this time of year.  Walla onions roasted on the barbecue are incredible, titan cherries have great texture and flavour, and what's better than popping a few sweet peas into your mouth as you shell them for dinner?

I was grateful for a cancelled appointment that turned into a light dinner and drinks lakeside at Manteo's Wild Apple Grill with my friend Ellen.  How luck for us to get a table on the patio on such a perfect evening and what a joy to spend time with such an enthusiastic, witty, generous woman.  A bonus that my hubby was able to join us later.

I'm grateful for the possibility of a visit next month from Lea, her hubby (my brother-in-law) and their dogger Annie (Pitou will love her!).  Since they moved to Edmonton it's been ages since we've seen them and I'm crossing my fingers that things will work out.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My New Blurb Book Is Here!

Just can't say enough about my favourite photo book publisher, Blurb.  I recently used their simple blog to blurb software that allowed me to connect to my blog and "slurp" the contents into their template creating my latest book "Pocketful of Memory Cards".  When my blog is long gone I will still have this collection of the photos I took each day from May 2011 to April 2012.  It's a year long journal of sorts that I will cherish one day when I'm old and  

If you haven't checked out Blurb yet, please do.  The options for unleashing your creativity are practically endless.  You can create books for yourself and your family, books you can sell, daybooks, notebooks, novels, children's picture books - you need only use your imagination to come up with some really neat things.  They have options like blurb to book, which I've mentioned, you can pull photos from Facebook, and you can now "slurp" from instagram as well.  You can allow other people, like the people you met on your travels who promised to send you photos, to add to your book on line.  It's really incredible once you start looking at the possibilities.  You can use their templates, create your own, or if you're a graphic artist or someone familiar with the workings of more complicated graphic software, you can really take full control and use their plug-in for Adobe InDesign. When you're done, you can even list them for sale if you wish.  You set the price, Blurb retains their portion and pays you the difference.

If I've inspired you to try it out, contact me on Blurb at Suzan17.  I'd love to see your work!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Good Day to be a Writer

On this gorgeous summer afternoon, my friend Anne Louise and I collected our writing materials and sat under one of the giant weeping willows in Kinsmen Park.  What a beautiful location for inspiration!  As a bonus we were treated to live music from a nearby guitar player.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weather or Not

Thunderclouds roll in over us at Cedar Creek Beach this morning.

Though it threatened most of the day, now at 5:20, the sun
is shining and the dogs are sunbathing on the back deck.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Perfect Summer Sunday Evening

..begins when my darling daughter joins us for a BBQ on the back deck.  
(Thank you Karla for the veggie kebab inspiration!)

One of the neighbourhood rascals peers at us from the safety of the cottonwood tree.

After dinner we load up the beasties, drop our baby off at home and drive to 
the nearby beach access. We walk under the bridge and along the lakeshore.

As the sun goes down we watch tourists and chat with other dog lovers.

  Near the yacht club we even get a peek at nature.

We wind our way slowly back to the car as we marvel at how lucky we are to live in this beautiful city.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A View from Lakeview

This morning, I finally got the chance to visit a friend in the stunning home she and her partner built in West Kelowna.  Here's the beautiful view from her deck.  Hazy heat and smoke from the Colorado forest fires are cutting the visibility a bit.

In the water below us sailboats headed out in search of a breeze.

And inside the view was also quite lovely.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Morning Mission

The dogs and I hit the Mission Creek Greenway this morning, my camera mounted with it's original 35-80 mm lens.  I thought I'd see what I could capture without advantage of my usual 18-200mm zoom. 

Though I've mentioned our  walks along Mission Creek many times on this blog, I don't think I've taken a lot of photos.  If you'd like to see what we saw today, follow this link to today's post on my other blog From the Valley and Beyond.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tuscanogan Fantasy

When my husband came home from his trip to Haa Nee Naa Lodge with fifty pounds of fish I jumped at the opportunity to share the spoils with friends while hosting my dream dinner party on our back deck. 

I seems I've been seduced by TV shows and movies where people gather around long tables in the gardens of Tuscan villas, laughing while they sip wine from nearby vineyards, and serve themselves from plates piled with roasted vegetables and meats.  Hunks of fresh bread are swirled in olive oil pressed from their own orchards and faces glow with pleasure in the candlelight.  It looks like such an idyllic evening I've been keen to recreate it Okanagan style.

It was approaching thirty degrees with no hint of a breeze as we set up the table early yesterday afternoon and I feared it would be too hot to eat outside.  We hung some white sheets along one side of the deck to keep out the sun and set up a fan with the hope that it would keep us comfortable until the sun sank behind the mountains later in the evening.  

We invited two of our favourite couples and when both had arrived I decided to leave it up to the majority to choose if we'd be inside our out.  Seeing my pleading face with my puppy dog eyes and the fact that the table was all set up encouraged someone to say "Let's give it a try."  We could always come inside if it was unbearable.

Over the years I'd been planning my fantasy meal with some of my favourite Mediterranean/Italian foods.  While culling recipes from some old Cooking Light magazines the week before, I discovered a menu that was very similar to one I had in mind.  I had been unsure as to what I should do with the halibut but by coincidence this Alfresco Menu had a recipe for Grilled Halibut with Three Pepper Relish

We topped up our wine glasses with Quail's Gate Rose and Mt. Boucherie Pinot Gris and gathered around the table for some Proscuitto Melon Bites, Greek olives and Grilled Pizza with Asparagus and Caramelized Onions.  Though the air was warm it was not unpleasant and my plan for a leisurely evening of good food, good wine and good conversation soon came to fruition. 

I wanted to serve a refreshing  melon apple granita between the appies and the main course and sent my husband into the garden to retrieve some fresh raspberries.  It's the only food photo I can provide, as I was too busy with cooking, serving and enjoying my guests to play paparazzi as well.

When it came time for the main course, along with the halibut we had a haricots vert salad, which consisted of tender crisp green beans with a pesto of basil, sautéed garlic and olive oil, red wine vinegar and toasted pine nuts with chopped sun dried tomatoes.   A side of grilled zucchini and red onions accompanied the meal and I also added some some potatoes roasted with Vadalia onion wedges and hunks of garlic, along with some foccacia bread dipped in my favourite olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Our wine tasting went farther afield as we sampled some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and an Italian Pinot Grigio.

I wish I could share our conversations with you, filled with funny stories (vat is dis zucchini?!!) book club confessions (Who's reading Fifty shades of Grey?) and How to's on crashing local resorts (Walk in  looking like you own the place!)... but I think you know the simple pleasures found with good friends of like minds and loving hearts. 

We ended the meal with dessert provided by Laura; a light and flavourful angel food cake smothered in whipped cream and strawberries, topped with a tea-light and a round of Happy Birthday to Janet who had  celebrated her birthday on Friday.  

For me the evening was a dream come true and I can't wait to do it again...this time I'm thinking more of a simple "cuisine de terroir", perhaps later in August when local fruits and vegetables are at their peak.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Shoot the Moon

Luckily there weren't many cars on the road at 10:30 last night as my eye kept being drawn to the glowing orb in the sky,  perfectly framed by clouds gilt-edged in moonlight.  I was anxious to get home and get my hands on a camera as I knew I'd be able to see the moon clearly from my back deck.

By the time I tried out my mono pod (nope), then searched out my tripod, the clouds evoked a slightly more sinister mood.  I took some interesting shots but again, I realized how far I have to go and there's so much to remember!  Even with the tripod holding things still, the camera still jiggled when I pressed the button.  This morning I was bemoaning the fact that I don't have remote shutter release and my husband said "Why didn't you use the timer?"  ...Doh!

It may not be the best shot, but I need an excuse to post this morning and say Happy Fourth of July to my American readers.  This past month your visits more than double the rest of the planet.  Have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Grateful to be Canadian, eh?!

Yesterday my beloved country turned 145 years old.  The weather forecast was for thunderstorms which did not bode well for the traditional downtown and lakefront celebrations.  I was very grateful when the sun came out mid morning and warmed things up for the rest of the day.  Even the evening was clear for the fireworks at Waterfront Park.

Since Canada Day fell on a Sunday we get today off,  and on this holiday Gratitude Monday I am feeling extremely blessed to live in the true north strong and free.  Inspired by Mrs. Pear Tree's Canada Day post my gratitude list includes all of the things I am grateful for in this great country of ours.

I'm grateful for:

universal health care
freedom of speech
maple leaves (no, not the hockey team)
faerie trees
the discovery of insulin
gun control
Canadians (again, not the hockey team)
picking strawberries on Canada day

Ryan Gosling
Uclulet and Tofino
Americans (Despite the fact that Canadians are often depicted as anti-American I've never met one I didn't like)
backyard rinks
autumn in Ontario
summer in the Maritimes
winter in British Columbia
lakes, rivers and oceans
wild rice
-our and -re
cottages and cabins
friends near and far