An Anniversary mini getaway

Last Month Mr. T. and I celebrated 2 wonderful years of marriage! I cannot believe that 2 years have flown by since our big day! I often tease Mr. T. about doing it all over again       (I can’t help it…it’s the event planner in me!) to which he nearly passes out and says never again! It truly was a dream day and I often close my eyes and remember the special moments we had. My advice to anyone getting ready to walk down the aisle: stop and take mental pictures throughout the day, soak it in!

For anniversary #2 Mr. T. took on planning it all! I knew I was getting whisked away somewhere but didn’t know the details or activities he had planned.

We started off at The Boathouse Restaurant in Horseshoe Bay for brunch. This was a perfect choice as the Boathouse in New West was where it all started with our very first date!

Afterwards a short ferry ride delivered us at Gibsons and we made our way up the stunning Sunshine Coast.

Mr. T. kept asking whether I had any clue what may be planned for the afternoon, but I was quite happy to be surprised! I was just thrilled that he had planned everything and I was along for the ride, wherever that may take us!

A short while later we arrived at The Rockwater Secret Cove Resort in Halfmoon Bay where Mr. T. had booked us in the sweetest little log cabin perched out over the rocks.       It was serene.

The picture on the left was our view from the little deck, and the picture on the right was our cabin taken from the other side of the bay. With only the gentle sound of the ocean and a sweet sea breeze city life seemed to slip away almost instantly.

Next up: my surprise! I was whisked off to enjoy a relaxing massage ocean side in a tent! That’s right! The spa services during summer and fall are offered beach side in their “Spa without Walls” secluded tents where the background music is the lapping waves and wind in the trees. It was amazing.

Dinner was at the resort restaurant and it was beyond five stars!

I started off with west coast mussels in a coconut curry sauce, Mr. T. went for a fresh crab cake, prawn and scallop starter.

Main course for me was delicious scallops with prawn risotto and butternut. Mr. T. had a succulent steak with a red wine butter.

Needless to say there was not room for desert!
The view we woke up to was breathtaking and Mr.T. enjoyed his morning tea and reading time on our little deck.

After a wonderful breakfast of crab cake benedicts (we decided that this trip was to be called the crab cake tour as the last three meals for Mr. T. had included crab cakes!) we explored the the resort and took a few pictures to mark the special day with the stunning scenery as a backdrop.

We didn’t splurge on gifts for each other, the getaway was a gift enough, but I did make this little chalkboard plaque for us to use as a year marker.

I like starting little traditions like these. Tomorrow I will share with you how to make your very own custom colour chalk paint for crafts like this and other projects around the house!

I decided to do a different twist on the traditional anniversary card and made this little “book” instead.

We have an over abundance of playing cards in our house, for some random unknown reason so this was a perfect use for one of them!            Check back later this week and I will share with you how I made it. It’s really easy and very meaningful!

After exploring the luxury tents at the resort…

we made our way back to the little town of Sechelt for some shopping.

Once back on the ferry we were greeted with the most spectacular display of a rainbow. A perfect ending to a wonderful overnight getaway that truly felt like a three day holiday!

I just love that we were blessed with this little surprise on our actual anniversary day! As we sailed on it turned into a double rainbow – fitting with it being our second anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you are all enjoying this crisp sunny weather!

 

 

 

It’s getting saucy around here…

Well I’m not sure what has happened but ever since getting back from our trip to Africa Mr. T. has caught a major cooking bug – not that I’m complaining! I’m loving it! His reasoning: not wanting to do dishes anymore because in our house the rule is whoever cooks the other cleans :)  So we have been treated to some really yummy healthy dinners!

One thing that Mr. T. has always loved to do is BBQ, as most men do. Over the last couple years he has been perfecting his very own made-from-scratch BBQ sauce and anyone who tries it loves it!

We have been trying to eat much healthier lately and have been choosing less processed foods of late. So as our homemade BBQ sauce is running low,

 MR. T. decided that for this batch he would use homemade Ketchup as the base instead of a preservative filled store bought concoction.

So off he went to the local market and wouldn’t you know it roma tomatoes were on sale – score for us!

 

 

What I’ve noticed with sauce making – it takes a long time in the crock pot, but so worth it to have the homemade taste knowing there’s no nasty preservatives in there.

So first things first washing and chopping of a whole lot of tomatoes and throw everything in the crock pot…

And then let it all simmer for about 4 hours stirring very occasionally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Puree in the blender and strain through a mesh strainer

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I will say that it has a very different taste to the store bought variety, but knowing it had good fresh ingredients makes it an easy choice. I wouldn’t necessarily use it with eggs and bacon, but substituting it in recipes that call for ketchup or tomato sauce would be perfect.

Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped or use 2 tbsp ground fennel
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise pod
  • 1 tablespoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large saucepan or crockpot combine tomatoes, fennel, onion, garlic, sugar, molasses, vinegar, cloves, anise pods and salt. Reduce over low heat until mixture becomes very thick. If using the crockpot set to low for 4-5 hours.
  2. Remove star anise. Puree mixture in a blender and strain through a mesh strainer. Chill and store in refrigerator.
Enjoy friends!

Oktoberfest ~ Leavenworth style!

On our way down to our vacation spot at Lake Chelan, we drove through Leavenworth, WA. Lucky for us it was in full Oktoberfest swing and we made a day of checking out the cute shops!

What a cute little Bavarian town!

One store is dedicated to the Nutcracker, a curious Christmas decoration that up until now I hadn’t really paid much attention to. Rows upon rows of nutcrackers line the shelves, all in full costume, and countless themes.

We even found a Star Wars themed bunch! They have a Nutcracker Museum upstairs that I overheard from one of the customers “was kinda creepy with all of them staring at you”. I thought they were lots of fun, and even found myself wanting to pick one out.

Of course we stopped in at the Munchen Haus for a bratwurst and local brew.

 This is honestly when our true German experience began! Long communal tables, accordian music playing and good ol’ fashioned handmade German Sausages!

Not to mention the um-teen specialty mustards and apple sour kraut to top them with! How does one choose?!

We found a spot at the end of a table and as it turned out we found the nicest bunch of people. They very quickly welcomed us into their group and next thing you know we were discussing everything from the US economy (ok I know a bit of a downer, but good to get an American opinion!) to the best local hidden gems. We left with plans to join them same place next year! So fun, I love meeting genuine folk like that in our travels.

A little more strolling the shops and taking in the entertainment of the day which, as you guessed it, was more polka music!Gotta love the lederhosen!I absolutely loved this little town and definitley want to make plans to come back during the Christmas season when it’s all decked out. Apparently it’s truly magical!

Well friends, off for the afternoon stroll around the lake!

Auf Wiedersehen!

 

 

Fresh Apple Cider ~ From Tree to Jug

On Sunday afternoon of our Chelan retreat we went off to one of the many farms around the lake to go apple picking and make fresh apple cider. Our friend Nicky was with us for the adventure and it was a hoot!

 The Sunshine Farm Market is a wonderful little place nestled along the edge of Lake Chelan. They bring that old-fashioned home grown feel back to life with authentic farm experiences.

An awesome little farm shop with every spread imaginable will have you pulling out the wallet in no time!

The sun was shining and it was a perfect day for apple picking.

 

 

We picked 12lbs of Winter banana apples, which is a tart apple to give just the right amount of spunk to the cider and 12lbs of Ambrosia apples to give the luscious sweetness. They were so yummy!

Then came a quick rinse, Mr. T. took the lead with this job!

We then chopped them into quarters.

Then came the fun part of crushing and juicing.

We decided to try a second crush by shaking up the bag after the first crush and we ended up getting another quarter of a jug out of it! Sam, our apple cider guide, said no one had ever tried that. Who wouldn’t want to get as much out of their fruit?!

Then came the bottling and Voila! We had 4 litres of liquid gold! I can tell you I have never tasted such amazing apple cider. Fresh from the tree with no preservatives, it’s like drinking an apple! It sure has been a very tasty, healthy treat on the breakfast table (and for every other meal!) this week!

We may have to stop in again on our way out of town on Saturday morning!

It was the best entertainment for under $15, plus we got a gallon of freshly made apple cider to enjoy for the rest of the week.

Astrid

 

In search of Rest and Relaxation ~ A Fall Retreat

If you are looking for us this week don’t call! Mr. T. and I have stolen away to the mountains of Washington state this week in search of some good old fashioned rest and relaxation. Normally I would favour a week of tropical paradise, but due to a very exciting trip coming at the end of the year (watch this space!) we wanted to avoid flying for this vacation, and hence save a few dollars. If you are looking for a couple Fall vacation ideas, read on!

We headed to central Washington to the Wenatchee Forest area. With outstanding scenic drives and views at every turn it is simply stunning at this time of year.

Let me tell you that it is absolutely spectacular! Unbelievable scenery no matter which route you take to get here, either through the North Cascade Mountains, or via Stevens pass – the route we opted for.

Our vacation started in Leavenworth, the cutest little Bavarian town this side of Munich, which just happened to be in full Oktoberfest celebrations as we came through on Saturday.

After Leavenworth, we carried on to our destination for the week: Lake Chelan. A quick aside here: Google said the 50 miles between Leavenworth and Chelan should only be about an hour, but somehow we ended up off the beaten track. It was only after Mr.T. announced “OK, the road lines have now disappeared”, did I admit that we were *a little* lost! It seriously felt like John Wayne was going to come blazing over the hills in hot pursuit of us at any moment. Great, we were officially lost in the desert of central Washington. Good thing we have handy dandy smart phones with GPS, lets just not talk about how much that roaming bill will be once we get home!! :)

We finally pulled in to Lake Chelan around 7:45pm, and met up with our friend Nicky who is joining us for a few days. Lake Chelan is known as the premier resort destination for Washington State residents in the Summer. The lake-side resort is a mecca for all manner of water sports during the heat of summer, but what about Fall?

The colours of fall are everywhere, and because Chelan is situated East of the Cascade mountains the weather is generally warmer than the coast. It has been nothing less than spectacular with glorious sunshine everyday so far.

There is so much to do in the area at this time of year: from hiking to wine tasting, apple picking to strolling the quaint shops, Chelan and the surrounding area is so relaxed at this time of year it really makes you slow down and enjoy the season.

Tomorrow I will share our apple cider making experience! A truly fall experience!

Take care friends!

Astrid

Ginger and Honey Tea ~ An all natural cold and flu remedy

So fall has officially started, and along with it has come the inevitable colds. I am thankful that I only get a cold once or twice a year, but still when you get one it becomes all consuming!

I spent an afternoon last week with our Godson’s who were in fine form with snotty noses, and me, being the ever optimistic one, threw caution to the wind and did not heed the advice of their mother when she warned me about their colds. “Ahh I never get sick, I’ll be fine!” Hmmm..two days later I woke up with a sore throat, 4 days later and I’m writing to all of you, armed with an all natural cold and flu remedy ready to pack a punch to this cold that has taken up residence in my sinuses.

I really don’t like taking too many heavy medications, and don’t enjoy how alot of them make you feel drowsy.

Walking through the grocery store yesterday I had an idea! Ginger and Honey tea! So I grabbed a good chunk of ginger and when I got home got to making myself a good little cold remedy.

Ginger works amazingly well as a remedy for a Sore Throat, Congestion and Cough. Ginger also helps a lot with food digestion — which is why it gives body energy — the less energy body uses for digestion, the more of it is left for other uses. Ginger is often included in many herbal decongestants and can help to minimise the symptoms of respiratory conditions, colds and allergies. Ginger and honey are well documented to help the immune system.

Here’s what I did:

1 piece of Fresh Ginger Root

1 tablespoon of Honey (or add to your taste)

Small dash of Lemon Juice

1 Litre of boiling water

  • Peel and finely grate about 2 tablespoons of ginger
  • In a large tea pot pour boiling water over the grated ginger
  • Add honey to taste, and a dash of lemon juice.

You may want to strain out the ginger, but I left it in.

It was amazing. The ginger is so soothing on the throat, it was truly a great pick me up on a rainy afternoon.

I’m hoping you won’t need it, but there’s my cold remedy that I’m sticking by as the busy week lies ahead!

Stay healthy friends!

Fall Decorating Ideas ~ An Autumn Vignette

Well, Autumn has officially descended on us here on the “Wet Coast“! Although our area is officially known as the Lower Mainland, some of us locals often refer to it as the “Lower RAINland“.

With todays decidedly dreadful deluge, we hunkered down for the day and while Mr. T. played on the computer and watched TV, I took to prettifying the house with some fall decorating ideas and embraced this season of Rain… er…Fall!

We have the most wonderful mantel that would make for the most perfect focal point in our living room and I have dreams of decorating it with fabulous rotating decor every season.  I’m sure I would be switching it up at least every 8 week.

Alas, much to my dismay, we have the largest TV known to mankind sitting atop what could be a blank canvas for my decorating cravings. Oh the things you inherit when you get married!  I dream about the day when I can relegate the TV to a basement man-cave and go to town with my design ideas.

 

 

For now though I have been given a *small* corner of the mantel as my decor space and was advised: “Decorating is not allowed to interfere with daily life”, i.e. in no way are any decorations allowed to impede the TV watching. For example, when decorating for Christmas last year I had to ensure that no stray garland branches stuck up in weird ways so as to cross into the picture! I must say I do have the decorating green light in all other areas of the house so I can’t complain too much!

So today I created a little vignette with a couple bunches of fall inspired flowers, gathered some candles for warmth and voila! Creating a little space in your home that allows the eyes to pause and savour the moment is what it’s all about.

Changing your decor pieces around every once in awhile can give your space a little pick me up that doesn’t have to cost a lot. Using pieces from around the house in different combinations can give the feeling of a whole new look. It’s rather exciting!

Must say it feels rather cozy in here now and with that I say: Let it pour outside!

Stay dry friends!

Celebrating Fall ~ Pumpkin Spice Lattes on a budget

I’m sure by now all you avid Starbucks fans have noticed the seasonal menu additions at your local haunt. Pumpkin Spice and Cinnamon Dolce Lattes have arrived.
For all you die hard fans that need to feel the atmosphere, be seduced by the soft jazz in the background, shell out close to $5.00 for your indulgence and walk out with a pretty green and white cup – read no further! Consider this your advisement that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are here!

For the rest of us who would like a little special coffee time without tipping our wallets upside down on the counter, never mind the 380 calories, do read on!

I’m always a little weary when I do indulge and they are “handcrafting” my drink using a pump bottle with some nondescript syrup, loaded with artificial flavouring and sweetners, all made to taste like pumpkin spice. So I decided to go on the hunt for a healthier alternative.

Here is a simple, easy and delicious recipe that combines some common spice rack ingredients for you to truly “handcraft” your own beverage at home!

Now I know that no matter where you are having a latte it may not be the healthiest choice, but this recipe is at least all natural, flavourful ingredients that you can feel good about enjoying this afternoon!

As far as taste goes, the syrup is incredible. It tastes like fall in a mug. Feel free to adjust the spices to your taste, I know I often do on these types of recipes! Be sure to come back and let me know how you enjoyed it! Either way you make it will be delicious, and you may even kick your Starbucks habit.

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks or 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons pumpkin purée

Directions:

Combine water and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar has completely dissolved. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow mixture to come to a boil. Strain syrup through cheesecloth into a large glass measuring cup. Transfer to bottle of your choice and store in the refrigerator.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, simply add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of syrup for each shot of espresso. For an iced latte, stir together syrup and espresso before adding desired amount of cold milk. For a hot latte, add frothed milk and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Wedding day in review

This past weekend Mr. T and I celebrated a year of married bliss. I cannot believe that a year has flown past since we tied the knot. So to mark the occasion I thought I would a quick wedding day in review.

I planned our entire wedding, with one or two ideas from Mr. T (his input was something to the effect of “any colour except sea foam green” and “let’s make sure we have great food”!)

The ceremony and reception took place at Minter Gardens, which made for a seamless transition for guests, without the need to travel between venues. They only needed to scurry for cover during the freak torrential downpour as they made their way through the gardens back to the conservatory!

The food was amazing, and the service was great. A stunning venue with meticulously cared for gardens, I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Always the planner, never the bride, this was my time to pull out all the stops. However, there’s this nasty thing called a budget which squashes a girls dreams of decadent-overflowing-only in the movies-flower arrangements.  So instead I came up with these elegant centerpieces. 

I placed a few of the tall centerpieces on the outside tables, and the shorter ones in the middle of the room. I am not a fan of attending weddings where the centerpiece gets in the way of the action.

Being the budget conscious bride I was ever mindful of the rising bottom line this event was costing and when it came to the cake I couldn’t fathom spending close to a month’s mortgage payment on some desert! A great friend stepped  in and created THE most delicious Brazilian Chocolate fudge creation , which by the way was still amazing a year later as we enjoyed the top tier last weekend!

I decorated the four tier creation along with my mom. I know, it’s crazy, the bride decorating her own wedding cake 3 days prior to the day!

I’ve always known that my mom would make my wedding dress and when Mr. T. proposed exactly 100 days prior, I knew she had her work cut out for her! Regular bridal stores scoff at brides who come in with less than 6 months to go, and here we were endeavoring to create a one of a kind gown in 100 days, never mind the fact my mother lives in another province!

It truly became a family affair finishing this dress with my mother as head designer, my granny (flown in from South Africa) as the assistant, and my dad the night before affixing Swarovski crystals to the bodice – he was thrilled he got to use some tools!

Well the dress was nothing less than spectacular, it was exactly as I had dreamed it would be. I felt like a princess. It fit me perfectly and knowing that each and every stitch (there was 37 hrs of embroidery on the dress) was lovingly done especially for me makes it priceless.

The day would not have been forever captured as perfectly if it was not for my wonderful friend Anastasia Chomlack and her husband Chad. All these fabulous pictures are her amazing handiwork and I’m forever grateful to her for capturing our day. Together they capture the essence of every wedding they shoot and truly have a gift of story telling through their art.

Here’s to the our first year! 80 more to go!