Thursday, September 27, 2012

Currently: September

Listening to silence...and the hum of the fridge.
Cooking with what's left in the fridge - trying to empty things out since we're going away next week.
Excited about the Chicago Marathon
Savoring the warm, late summer days - there can surely only be a few more summer days left?!
Planning for our trip next week
Working on my marathon playlist - 69 songs and 4.5 hours of music - the question is will I get to hear it all the way through or will I start getting repeats?!
Embracing Fall - have decorated up the mantle and coffee table, and ready to break out the soup and stew recipes and Ugg boots!! (but I think this will have to be postponed till we get back from Chicago!)
Reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv - talking about the importance of relationships between Children and Nature (which isn't like me - but it's for work - since I'm helping coordinate an event when the author is coming to our hometown! - but actually it's also quite interesting) But also slowly getting through Anne Frank's Diary
Wearing Skinny jeans, wooly cardigan and socks!! (It might be warm out but at work I'm always cold!)
Feeling anxious about running 26.2 miles next week
Needing to pick up the new Jack Reacher book from the library today (just in time for our trip!)
Wanting to get the garden tidied up
Trying to stop snacking so much
Wondering will I make it? 
Procrastinting about getting the garden tidied up 
Wondering if we'll miss the big yellow tree at it's best whilst we're away
Looking forward to seeing family next week 
Hoping that after several nights in her 'big girl bed' with no accidents is the sign of house-training success with Meli
Smiling at PSY's Gangnam Style - love that video - keep watching it over whenever I need a smile on my face!
Eating cheese and tomato sandwiches made with delicious toms from our garden

Playing along with Ali today with her 'currently...around here' list...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Top of the World!

I don't even remember when I first heard about Cathedral Provincial park. All I remember is that I've wanted to go there! And finally this weekend we made it! And what a weekend to have picked! The weather was truly perfect hiking weather - not too hot, not too cold, with stunning wide open wall-to-wall blue skies.
The Main Lodge and the Unimog transport parked in front! Quiniscoe Mountain in the background!

We booked to stay in the Cathedral Lakes Lodge. Chances are, you're encounter the lodge some way or other as the trek into this wilderness area is long, arduous and incredibly uphill. The lodge offers a campers shuttle service in their 1960's Unimog, along the 9 mile rough and ready access road track glorified goat trail. Or you can stay and the transport is included. We opted for a lodge room - and I'm sure we had the best room in the house - on the upstairs corner with windows on 2 sides of the room giving us panoramic views of the lake and Quiniscoe Mountain. It was pretty spectacular and not somewhere where you shut the curtains - we could gaze at the early morning sun lighting up the mountain across from us from the cosy confines of our rustic wood bed!
Our lovely little room. Bathrooms are just down the hallway - and my photography skills
to be able to capture the inside AND the view are somewhere else altogether - Mars perhaps?!

So just to make sure you all know how fab my accommodation was - here's the photo of the view
from our window!! - Sucks eh?!
Lodging at Cathedral Lakes is a full board affair - and I was blown away by how good a deal this was. They have a resident pastry chef I need to go on?! First thing they laid out a 'lunch' table where you could choose from bread, cold cuts, cheeses, eggs, cookies and yummy condiments like feta spread, hummus, and herby creamed cheese - we loaded up and had the most fantastic packed lunch for our all-day hike! For breakfast....there was a full selection of cold stuff - cereal, granola, yogurt, fresh fruits, and the most delicious fresh baked, still-warm-from-the-oven breakfast muffins or biscuits. Then was a small hot buffet with bacon, eggs, potatoes and pancakes. Lunch (if you happened to be in the vicinity of the lodge) and dinner both started out with soup, bread and salads, followed by delicious entree and finished off with cakes at lunch and a gorgeous dessert at dinner - I was disappointed that Chris enjoyed the apple tart served on our second night - since I didn't get chance to have seconds like I normally do!! Leftover cakes from lunch are then put out on the table to help yourself to during the afternoon - which was perfect after getting back from a day's hiking.

(L) Walking through the Larch (R) Big Ass views! - and I did actually mean the views - of, like,
mountains and stuff - but DOES my bum look big in this???
We got the first transport run up to the lodge at 10am on Friday - it took a little more than an hour from base camp to finally pull out of the woods and into the clearing along the shores of Lake Quiniscoe. And we only had a 1/2 hour wait before lunch - what a welcome!! After our first sampling of the food we realised we'd be needing to head straight off on a hike to work it off! We took a beautiful 6.5km round trip hike to Ladyslipper Lake. The first part of the trail was along Lake of the Woods and then Pyramid Lake before we started climbing upward through the woods towards Ladyslipper. Once we cleared the trees we got our first glimpse of the huge expansive views. And endless woods, completely untouched. A little further on we caught sight of Ladyslipper Lake - and how blue it was! I enjoyed a brief paddle to freshen those hike weary tootsies before we headed back down the way we'd come.
My favourite! - Ladyslipper Lake

Our second day we picked the trail out to the Giant Cleft via Glacier Lake. Almost immediately leaving the shores of Lake Quiniscoe we had a hard uphill climb through the woods up to Glacier Lake. We followed the trail alongside it on a bit of a plateau before heading uphill again. The trail was sketchy since we were climbing up the side of the mountain but it was marked well enough by cairns - and really - it was pretty obviously which way 'uphill' was! Finally as we reached the rim the whole of the Cascade mountains welcomed us. It was jagged mountains as far as the eye could see - and not a speck of human existence apparent - it's times like this when you realise just how tiny we are in this big, beautiful world! We followed the rim trail along past Devil's Woodpile to Stone City where we took an 'out and back' detour to visit Smokey the Bear and the Giant Cleft. The cliff drops from these parts were dramatic and I'm reminded how little I like heights - I had quite the queasy tummy! The Giant Cleft is just that - a huge 'gap' in the rock, dropping hundreds of feet below. From here we headed on our homeward stretch - downhill to Ladyslipper lake. Except first up with had to traverse a horrible shale slope. Once down it was open trail across a plateau before heading down below the tree line and into the woods of larch trees. Contrary to our trail guide we reckoned this hike to be 14 km with around 2000ft of elevation.

But then this wasn't exactly shabby either...On the rim looking down to Glacier Lake.
You can see the trail we followed to the left side of the lake - it then disappeared
over that ridge and waaay down to the lodge.

(L) Views from the rim (R) Chris and Smokey the Bear (that profile in the cliff in the top right of
the photo in case you were struggling!)
Our final morning we got up and at it with a 'quick' out and back to Goat Lake. We were under pressure to beat the clock since we'd failed to pack a lunch bag we didn't want to miss out on lunch served at the lodge at Noon! The trail guide reckoned on a 4 hour hike - we made it back with minutes to spare in 2 hrs 45! Since we'd not really studied the map we were surprised to find this trail head downhill! And then follow Lakeview creek through the alpine valley to the end where a rather small, mud pond that was Goat Lake sat - a somewhat unimpressive lake compared to the offerings of the previous 2 days! The valley had not yet been graced with the sun that morning so the foliage was covered in a lovely crispy, glittery frost.  But what was spectacular was the mountains and peaks surrounding us - they soared above us just catching the first sunlight of the morning.

This was a truly magical getaway. I really did feel like I was a million miles away, and yet I'm here in my own backyard!! How lucky we are to be in beautiful British Columbia?!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Washi Tape Bathroom Makeover

This was my mini DIY bathroom makeover and an opportunity to put my washi tape to a completely different use!

Last month we finally got around to re-painting this room. With a natural tan throughout the house we're slowly but surely making it more our own and individualising some rooms! After I bought a $2 box of tissues with a lovely blue & green stripey pattern on them I was inspired to use that colour scheme for the 'new' bathroom. It's a tiny room with no natural light so I wanted to go really pale - in the end we chose Behr's 'Club Soda' (though I can't say I've seen many blue club sodas?) It's the perfect compliment to the bright blue & green but will also work if I want to change back to the old cream & brown accessories - maybe I'll be changing it up with the seasons!!
I treated us to a new shower curtain (even though it's never been used as a shower, it helps make the room look a bit more finished I think), some new hand towels, and a vase & flowers. I wasn't able to find any artwork or pictures that looked right. So in the end, in desperation I grabbed a 12x12" blank canvas from Michaels to 'do' something with later...

But back to my washi project! Like I said we don't use this shower so the tape getting wet wasn't a concern - it was all about looks and effect! I just ran a couple strips of coordinating washi tape around the top of the bath enclosure - I'm still surprised that this effort didn't involve any measuring or spirit levels - I totally winged it but it worked out well!! Simple but pretty effective to finish off my mini bathroom makeover!

As for the canvas (you can see it in the mirror above the towel rail in the top photo!). I actually was super pleased how quickly that turned out too. I pulled out 4 different acrylic paints I already had on hand and just started painting very rough circles randomly over the canvas. I didn't even wait for the paint to dry or switch out or clean my brushes so the paint started merging together and taking on different variations of the colours. In fact I didn't even have a proper brush - it was a foam applicator! It was hanging on the wall within 1/2 hour of breaking it out of its shrink wrap!! and matches perfectly (how could it not?! - there's so many colours in it!) I got the idea from Elise on her blog - and frankly its genius in its effectiveness and simplicity - and it cost me $6!

And just for reference - here is the 'before & after' picture - you'll see it's not really 'that' different - just a little more colourful and summery! And it is so, so light to walk into the room now - amazing really how a little paint can brighten the space!

This is #4 in my washi tape projects goal for the year. You can also see my washi tape tealights, washi tape shelf makeover and my washi chevron wall art.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread w/Pecans

There are a million recipes out there on the interwebs, and I spent my fair share of time trawling through them!

In the end I pretty much did my own thing! I had plenty of zucchini to use and wasn't afraid of it tasting (lots of recipes seemed to be all about 'hiding' the veggie in them). Plus I wanted as little sugar as possible and substitute with applesauce. Plus I only had whole wheat all purpose flour on hand. Plus I love pecans, and, c'mon people EVERYTHING tastes better with choc chips in it, no?! So I tweaked and played and made it be what I wanted it to be...

This was a huge hit. Even Chris loved it - and he's not got that much of a sweet -tooth (though his preference for eating it was sliced, and then slathered in butter and marmite - I admit it was pretty darn good like this, but I was also determined to eat it au natural so I could savour it's flavour and pat myself on the back a little more for pulling off such a damn good bread!)

Zucchini Bread (makes 2 loaves)
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2½ cups (packed) grated zucchini
  • 1¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup choc chip
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  1. Prepare the zucchini (this is the tedious part - I used my food processor with the grating attachment which is easy enough - but cleaning the damn machine is the bane of my life!) Once grated you need to squeeze the f**k out of the zucchini to get all the liquid out - this will be way more usable for cooking. I scoop a large pile of the zucchini into a clean tea towel then twist it like a candy wrapper - it really is amazing how much liquid comes out! OK, actually I let Chris do that because I'm not strong enough. Or maybe it might cause me to work a sweat if I tried. Either way...SQUEEZE!
  2. Put the first 6 ingredients into a large bowl (basically the dry stuff) and mix together
  3. Then chuck everything else in to the bowl (except the nuts and chocolate)
  4. Mix - I use my hands - but then I don't have a food mixer - that would be so much easier (but then you have to wash it up, whereas I can just lick clean ;-)
  5. Fold in the choc chips and nuts
  6. Drop into lightly greased loaf pans and cook at 350 degrees for 45-55 mins.
  7. Use a cocktail stick to check when done. If you poke it in and it comes out clean you're good to go
  8. Eat as soon as possible (hey, most recipes say to let sit and cool, but we all know we like to sneak a bite when its still warm from the oven. Sure it probably won't cut nicely but it's not about looks, it's all about taste!)
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