Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thirsty Thursday: ThunderSleet!

As you know, I live in the Midwest.  And, thanks to “Winter Storm Q”, today I got to have a “snow day”.  Imagine that—a grown adult getting a snow day!  Of course, as an adult, it’s actually a “work from home” day.  But still… I got to work in my PJs, and that is a good day right there, son. 

Plus…I mean, can you really call it a “snow day” when there’s no snow?  No.  You can’t.  Especially when what we got today has been termed by the meteorological community as “THUNDERSLEET”.  That’s right kids—lightning, thunder…and tiny balls of ICE falling from the sky.  Not hail.  Sleet.  Reminds me of a Lewis Black skit:

“Cause when you're lying in bed, you hear thunder outside, and you get up to look, you have an expectation. And it's not snow with lightning behind it. That's not right.  They don't even write about that kind of weather in the Bible! And I imagine if a prophet had seen that kind of weather, after he wiped the poop out of his pants, he'd have told us about it! I was supposed to work that night, I said, ‘I'm not coming in. I'm scared to death, ‘cause I know what the next season's going to be....LOCUSTS’.”

So after I wrapped up with work, I ran outside to take some pics.  Because tiny balls of ice are PREEETTY.

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“Mom…this schtuff’s cold on ma pawz.”

And then, I remembered…it’s Thursday!  We HAVE to do a Thirsty Thursday!  It’s been SOOOOOO long!  So…I was inspired by our unique weather system…and it’s particularly nice ability to keep a drink cold.

So I give you:  The Thundersleet!!!

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Ingredients:

Sleet (duh)

50 mL Citrus vodka

25 mL Blue curacao

25 mL fresh lemon juice

50 mL seltzer water

1 lemon wedge

Directions:

Find some uncontaminated sleet in your yard, and place in a pretty glass.

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Mix the remaining ingredients together, and pour over sleet.

TA-DAH!!!

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Such a nice color contrast against the sleet-covered patio table…

Oh, and HEY!  Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the drawing for the GIVEAWAY!  Go!  Enter!  Do it Now!!!  Please?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Louisiana Festivals, and a GIVEAWAY!

Even though Louisiana’s state motto is “The Sportsman’s Paradise”, I really think they should be known as “The Festival Goers Paradise”.  Of course, that has less of a ring to it.  But seriously…it doesn’t begin and end with Mardi Gras, y’all.  Mardi Gras is just the big, flashy tip of the iceberg.  This is a state of people who love music, who love to dance, and who REALLY love to eat.  And drink.  And where BETTER to do all those things than at a festival?  I give you just a quick sampler (and their 2013 dates):

April 20-21: Angola Prison Rodeo & Arts/Crafts Fair (St. Francisville) – This is the longest running prison rodeo in the US, in operation since 1965.  The Arts & Crafts Fair portion originally started as a way for the inmates to make a few extra bucks selling items they’d handmade… now the fair portion takes up all of the morning, with the rodeo starting at 2pm.  Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund which provides for inmate educational and recreational supplies.

April 24-28:  Festival Internationale de Louisiana (Lafayette) – Since I lived in Laffy for 3 years, this is probably my favorite. Five days, eight stages, seventy-four bands, thirty-one food vendors, and thousands of people.  Fo’ free.  Well—the food & drinks aren’t free, but everything else is.  SEVENTY FOUR BANDS---from all over the world, and some from right at home, including a few of my faves like Marc Broussard, the Mike Dean Band, Feufollet, and Michael Juan Nunez.

April 26 – May 5: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (NOLA) – Easily Louisiana’s biggest music festival.  Ten days, over 130 bands.  This year’s lineup includes Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Dave Matthews, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, John Mayer, Hall & Oates, BB King, Earth Wind & Fire, Little Big Town, along with big name locals like the Neville Brothers, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Cowboy Mouth, Better than Ezra, Tab Benoit, Marc Broussard… I could go on forever.  Single day tickets run around $50 ($65 at the gate), or you can buy weekend passes and VIP packages at their website.

May 22-25: New Orleans Food & Wine Experience (NOLA) - Over the past 20 years this festival has raised more than $1 million for local non-profit organizations, while showcasing local food and chefs, and national and international wines.   This year in an effort to fight hunger and support culinary education, the 2013 beneficiaries will share 100% of the proceeds. Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana will receive 40% and the following will share the remaining 60%: the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation's ProStart Program, Delgado Culinary Arts School, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts’ Culinary Program, the John Folse Culinary Institute and the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans.  Eat for a Cause!!!!

October 2013 (dates not yet announced) Voice of the Wetlands Festival (Houma) – Here’s another free festival that runs for three days and always features one of my favorites, Tab Benoit.  The festival centers around raising money and general awareness for the ever-diminishing wetlands along coastal Louisiana.  I’m a big fan of the work they do, and getting to see 20+ bands for free while benefitting a good cause doesn’t hurt either.

November 1-3: The VooDoo Experience (New Orleans) – This rock festival in late fall is a total blast, and 2013 marks the 15th year.  The lineup for this year hasn’t been announced yet, but past artists include Metallica, Soundgarden, Snoop Dogg, Blink 182, Black Crows, Girl Talk, Fatboy Slim, Paulo Nutini, Muse, Lenny Kravitz, etc.

 

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And so, we move on to the giveaway!  One lucky reader is going to receive the prize pack shown in the photo below!

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  • 2013 12-month calendar featuring photos from all across Louisiana (taken by me, so I don’t infringe on someone’s copyrights), with the dates of major festivals and holidays.
  • Authentic New Orleans Mardi Gras Beads and a Doubloon from the Krewe of Caesar
  • Three discount cards from my New Orleans Drink Deck for three of my favorite New Orleans spots: Cure, The Bulldog, and Superior Grill ($22+ value).  And these cards have NO EXPIRATION, so use them as inspiration for planning your next trip down south!  Or, if you have no plans to EVER visit NOLA (so sad…) keep them as a memento, or sell ‘em on Ebay. :)  Save $10 at Superior Grill, and 20% at Bulldog and Cure.  Great food and cocktails, peeps.

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How do you win?

- Use the buttons above on the left to follow this blog via Facebook, Pinterest, Feedburner, or Google (one entry per follow)

- Leave a comment here, or on Facebook or Pinterest telling me your favorite festival food.  Whether it be funnel cake, candied apples, walking tacos, or deep fried Snickers—I want to know! (Earns another entry)

- Winner will be chosen at random!  Deadline for entries is Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8pm CST!  Winner will be announced here and on Facebook (so that would be a good way to follow if you don’t already!)

Good Luck!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine’s Thirsty Thursday: Peppermint Marshmallows & Hot Chocolate!

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps!  I know this tends to be a sore topic for those who are single…but I’m married, and I have a super amazing husband, and I’m not ashamed of that.  Especially since my extra special Cupid knows the way to my heart--- BACON ARROWS.

vday Love is delicious.  And smoky.

Our Valentine’s plans are still a little up in the air, but we do have one thing nailed down: A Good Day To Die HardBecause Bruce Willis blowing stuff up is TOTES romantical.  (Earlier this week, I got to purchase us a Groupon for a couple’s massage.  We are all about balance.)

But where was I?  Oh yes.  Thirsty Thursday.  Today’s treat is non-alcoholic, but you could absolutely add a shot of Bailey’s or Godiva liqueur in there to spice things up a bit.

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Yes, yes.  These were both Pinterest projects.  And I crammed them together.  I actually used these as Christmas gifts for coworkers, but it would totally work as a nice Valentine’s gift for family, teachers, coworkers, etc. 

And if you’re single today, and don’t have any plans, then feel free to pamper yourself.  Have dessert first, take a relaxing detox bath with a glass of champagne, listen to some Norah Jones, crawl into your favorite PJ’s, then curl up on the couch with your favorite blanket, a cup of spiked cocoa with extra marshmallows, and pop in your favorite anti-VDay movie.

Seriously.  You WANT the cocoa… it’s delicious.  The marshmallows were heavenly.  They melted so well in the chocolate and just made a delicious, creamy layer on top, and the peppermint extract infiltrated down into the hot chocolate…it was fantastic.

But word to the wise:  Making these marshmallows is a TWO person project.  Otherwise you WILL end up a sticky mess.

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But first: The hot chocolate mix.

Ingredients: (makes 8-10 gift bags, or 20 servings)

3 cups nonfat dry milk powder (I recommend Carnation—the generic brand can be a little chalky)

2 cups powdered (icing) sugar

1.5 cups cocoa powder (stick with the traditional—I’ve tried it with Hershey’s dark and it was a little bitter)

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (if you wanted your cocoa to be flavored, you can replace this with mint chips, cinnamon chips, caramel chips, etc.)

1/2 tsp salt

cone-shaped treat bags

 

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Then move half the mixture into a food processor and pulse until the chocolate chips are finely chopped.  Repeat with the second half of the batch. 

Transfer about 3/4 to 1 cup of the mix into a treat bag, then set aside. 

 

Now…The MARSHMALLOWS!!!

Ingredients: (makes about 80-100, depending on your cutting skillz)

butter (to grease your pan) & a 9 x 13 pan

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2.5 Tbsp unflavored gelatin (like Knox)

1/2 cup cold water

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure peppermint extract

8-10 drops of red food coloring

 

Directions:

Grease your 9x13 pan (glass preferred—it’ll clean up easier) with butter, and then dust the pan with a tablespoon of powdered sugar to coat.  This will allow the marshmallows to come out of the pan easily when you’re ready to cut them.

Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer (yes, you REALLY do need a stand mixer—this stuff gets SUPER thick and has to be beaten for about 8 minutes), sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water to soften.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup of water over low heat and stir until dissolved.  Then heat to boiling, and cook WITHOUT STIRRING for about 30 minutes or until the mixture reaches 240F (soft ball stage).  If you don’t have a clip for the side of your pot to hold the thermometer in place, you can fashion one out of tin foil. (make sure the tip of the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan or you’ll get a false reading.)  Once you hit 240F, remove from heat.

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Now, slowly pour your sugar-syrup into the bowl of softened gelatin while beating on low speed. Once it’s all added, increase the speed to high and beat 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume. Then add the peppermint extract and beat on high speed for one additional minute.

HERE’s WHERE THE SECOND PERSON COMES IN:  One person needs to hold the mixing bowl over the 9x13 pan.  The other, using a spatula and wet hands, will scrape the marshmallow “fluff” into the pan.  It is EXTREMELY STICKY.  If you touch the “fluff” with non-wet hands, or with a non-wet portion of your body (say, arm)…it WILL stick, and you’ll have stringy bits of marshmallow decoration all over you and your kitchen.  Once you’ve gotten as much out of the bowl as you possibly can, pat the “fluff” into the pan with WET hands to spread it out.

Now, drop red food coloring randomly onto top of marshmallow mixture and pull a wet or greased butter knife through food color to create swirl pattern over top. Let stand uncovered at least 8 hours or overnight.

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Now… dust a large cutting board with powdered sugar, and turn out the marshmallow onto the cutting board.  Place a bowl with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar off to the side.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the marshmallow into strips (you’ll periodically have to re-grease the wheel) and then cut each strip into 1-inch cubes.  Drop the cubes into the bowl of powdered sugar and toss—this will keep them from sticking to each other, and to you.

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Now—back to your hot cocoa bags.  Place about 6-8 marshmallows in each bag, then twist shut, and decorate as you choose.  Since we did these for Christmas, I used green ribbon & holly berries, but for V-Day you could do shades of red, white & pink.  Print out some instructions (1/4 cup cocoa mix + 1 cup milk + 2 marshmallows) and use patterned scissors for sassy flair.

NOTE:  These marshmallows make a FANTASTIC S’more.  If you’re going to have a romantic fire going in the fireplace, bust out some marshmallows and grahams! :D

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras! (& King Cake Cupcakes!)

The Big Day is upon us!  The day when all of my Louisiana friends are off work, enjoying parades or just lounging at home, recovering from the month of parades prior to today.

And here I am…in Missouri, with 40 degree weather, and yes…I have to work today.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t still celebrate a little bit!  Same goes for you!

You can watch WWL’s
live coverage of the New Orleans parades today on their website!

And…you can make cupcakes.  Like I did, for my coworkers.

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These were really easy (aside from the ones that were really hard, but we’ll get to that in a minute).  I wanted to capture the flavors of a traditional king cake without all the work.  So we use a box mix as our base, but add cinnamon, brown sugar, and cream cheese.

 

Ingredients: (makes about 12-16 cupcakes)

1 box golden or butter cake mix

3 eggs

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 cup applesauce

1.5 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 oz fat free cream cheese, room temperature

Icing packet from a cinnamon roll tube (or you can make fresh glaze with 2 tbsp milk, 1/2 c powdered sugar, and a splash of vanilla)

purple, yellow, and green colored sugar (read more about making your own colored sugar here)

Muffin liners (DO NOT attempt this recipe without these!)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F, and prepare two 12-cup muffin trays with liners.  This is VERY essential.*

Beat all the ingredients together (except the glaze and the colored sugar), and then use an ice cream scoop (1/2 cup batter) to portion the batter into the cups.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown & cooked through.

Let cool for about 15 minutes on a baker’s rack, and then top with a dollop of glaze, and spread across the cupcake.  Sprinkle your colored sugars over the top in thirds to represent the colors of Mardi Gras (purple for justice, green for faith, gold for power).

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Now…here’s the dealio.  I didn’t follow my own advice. I am giving you the “I screwed up, but here’s how to fix it” version.  I had a limited number of muffin liners, so I only lined one of my muffin tins.  The other I just spritzed with cooking spray.

But this dough (probably because of the brown sugar and cream cheese) is EXTRA sticky, so when I went to turn out the cupcakes… only the tops came out.

After I resisted the urge to throw the pan on the kitchen floor (where my pug would have happily devoured the stuck cupcake bottoms), my brilliant husband suggested trying to mold the pieces together using the ice cream scoop.  Which made me think of CAKE TRUFFLES!

So I mixed in the remaining glaze into this Bowl Of Disaster:

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I tried a couple different molding methods—the ice cream scoop didn’t work out because the cake+glaze was too sticky, so instead, I used a small circle cookie cutter and just pressed the “dough” into the middle to make a form.  Then I dusted the tops with colored sugar.  It worked out perfectly!  They taste just like the cupcakes.  So now, I share this with the world, in case anyone else happens to screw up while making cupcakes.  All is not lost!  DO NOT THROW THAT PAN ON THE FLOOR!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Super Easy Mardi Gras King Cake!

So…I should probably be updating you all about my Canadian vaycay, right?  Well, I had a post all written up for our time in Whistler… and then BAM… my editor crashed and ate the post.  After about a minute of cursing…I decided it was time to take a break and get back to cooking.

And in case you haven’t heard, there’s a big par-tay going on in New Orleans right now.  Maybe you even hit up a local pub crawl this weekend in its honor.  Tuesday is MARDI GRAS, y’all!  And this is the first year since 2004 that I haven’t gotten to attend a Louisiana Mardi Gras celebration in some shape or form.  Because you don’t have to be in NOLA right NOW…there’s a whole Carnival Season that started WEEKS ago, all across the Gulf Coast.  Last year, my Hubs & I got to ride in the Scott City Mardi Gras parade.  I’m sad I missed out this year.

Our church group had a small gathering this weekend, so of course, I decided to throw together a King Cake since I was in charge of the desserts.  But I didn’t have a lot of time to make dough from scratch.  Thankfully, some other brilliant person realized that refrigerated cinnamon roll dough makes a perfect substitute. 

I decided to make two small King Cakes—one for the church group, and then another later on this week.

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Ingredients:

3 tubes cinnamon rolls, room temp

Filling #1 (Cream Cheese & Cherry)

2 oz fat free cream cheese

1/4 c powdered sugar

1 Tbsp flour

1/4 tsp vanilla

splash of skim milk

1/2 cup low-sugar cherry pie filling

Filling #2 (Praline)

1/8 cup light butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

(Note: if you decide you only want to make one big King Cake with one type of filling, just double the ingredients for that filling so you have enough.)

Directions:

Knead the 3 cans of dough together in a large bowl, then turn out onto a floured surface.  Roll into a large rectangle.

For the Cream Cheese Cherry option: combine the cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, & milk  until smooth, then spread onto half of the rectangle.  Spoon the cherry pie filling on top of that. Don’t spread it all the way out the edge—leave yourself about an inch on each side.

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For the Praline filling:  Combine the ingredients until thorough mixed, then spread on half of the rectangle.  Don’t spread it all the way out the edge—leave yourself about an inch on each side.

Fold the filling-covered portion on top of itself, pinch the ends so that the filling won’t ooze out, and then roll up the rest of the way.  Twist around to form a ring, with the seam facing down. Pinch the ends together.

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Congrats, you have a giant bagel.

Bake at 375F for about 30-35 minutes. 

While that’s baking, make your own colored sugar for the top!  This is so simple and brilliant, I can’t understand why I never did it before.

Get one ziploc baggie for each color you need.  My food coloring box came with green, blue, red, and yellow, so two of the colors you need are easy-peasy.  Add some sugar to the bag, drop in a drop or two of coloring, close the bag, and then just shake and mix and rub until all the sugar is uniformly colored.

For the purple, you’ll combine blue & red in equal parts.  If you accidentally use too much color and it’s really dark, just add more sugar to lighten it up.

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Purple for Justice, Green for Faith, Gold for Power.

Now…here’s the BONUS brilliant bit.  You know those icing packets that come with the cinnamon rolls? Yup…that’s the glaze for the top of your cake! Once the cake has cooled, spread one of the icing packets across the top.  Sprinkle your colored sugar on top of that.

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Have a Happy Mardi Gras, guys!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Canadian VayCay Day Three: Nanaimo & Whistler

We woke up & finally got a lovely view of the beachfront outside our room at the Kingfisher Resort.  We could see the rest of Courtenay and Comox hugging the bay to our left.

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(I love all the repurposed driftwood.)

After being lazy (and lounging in our hotel-provided robes—because, if you stay in a place nice enough to have robes, you HAVE to wear them), we finally got up & ventured down to the beach front to pick up my favorite kind of souvenirs—rocks & shells.

Sadly, we had to get moving in order to catch the 12:30 ferry in Nanaimo, otherwise we would have wallowed in the spa’s Hydropath for a while.

 

Once we got into Nanaimo we decided to grab some lunch.  Nanaimo has a few breweries, but we decided to hit up Longwood Brew Pub since it was close to our route & had good reviews.

SUCH a good decision.  Our waitress was wonderful, gave us great brew recommendations (we tried the Dunkel and the Czech Pilsner)

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… and we shared a double order of fish & chips. Uh. MAZ. Ing.  Light & crispy, super fresh & flaky, crunchy fries (with malt vinegar on the table, thank you!) and cole slaw that even my husband would eat.

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I could eat this every day & die happy.

Now, of course, we knew we could leave town without having its namesake, the Nanaimo Bar.  I had been hoping Longwood would offer it on their dessert menu, but no dice.  However, the house manager recommended the bars at a little coffee shop around the corner.  So I swung by and picked up two.

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We saved one for Whistler, and then shared the other on the ferry ride back to Vancouver.  OMG.  Chocolately, sugary vanilla center, and all kinds of deliciousness in that crust—grahams, coconut, chopped almonds… it’s heavenly.  But super rich.  Not recommended for diabetics.

After we got off the ferry, we headed up Highway 99, aka the Sea to Sky Highway, that takes you up to Whistler & Squamish.  This is by far the most gorgeous stretch of road I’ve ever been on.  EVER.  Sea on one side, mountains on the other, and islands off in the distance?  A photographer’s dream.  Thank goodness I wasn’t driving.

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The road follows the sea for most of the trip, until you finally turn off up into the mountains.  Which was, coincidentally, when we actually started seeing some snow.

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Um…hope that wasn’t an IMPORTANT notice…

We got checked into our hotel around 5pm and then ventured out for some food.  Most places were pretty crowded but we found Tapley’s Neighbourhood Pub tucked in a less-busy corner & got a table.  A little pricey, but it’s a ski village—that’s pretty typical.  We tried a couple of the Whistler Brewing beers (Whiskey Jack Ale and Bear Paw Honey Lager) along with a quesadilla and a cheddar burger.  Pretty fair for a “stumble upon” type of meal.

And tomorrow… WE SKI!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Canadian VayCay, Day Two: Waterfalls & Artwork

Sorry for the delay—I had three 12-hour work days in a row and got a bit behind on my storytelling.  No worries: and we continue!

So we wake up in North Vancouver, thinking about going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.  But it’s about $32/person.  To walk through a park.  Granted, yes, they have a “cliff walk” that just looks insane…

…but $32 is still $32… especially when you’re from the US and you’re in Canada (ba-dum CHING!  Ahh, yes, currency jokes rule.  Hooray for our currently hideous exchange rate…)  and there’s a perfectly good park just a few miles down the road FOR FREE.

So we hit up Lynn Canyon Park instead.  Loads of trails, several suspension bridges, and a cute lil’ ecology centre.  And tons of beautiful waterfalls.  There were a lot of early morning runners there, and I can totally see why.  If I lived here, this would be the perfect place to start your day.

  

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We even got to see Sasquatch….sorta.

PS—If you didn’t already know, I’m a sucker for hilarious signage:

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Maybe if these folks were a little more flexible, they wouldn’t have fallen…and seriously lady—climbing in a dress?  You’re just asking for trouble.

After we got our morning hike in, we headed to the next locale on my Canadian Bucket List: Tim Hortons.

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Timbits (aka, donut holes) and a Café Mocha – life is good!

In case you’re not a hockey fanatic, Tim Horton played for the Toronto Maple Leafs for about 20 years, along with a few other US teams.  He & a partner opened the coffee & donut chain in 1964.  Ten years later, Horton died tragically in a car accident, but his memory lives on every day, across Canada and the extreme north US, with over 3600 locations.

After we got our coffee & donut fix, we headed over to Horseshoe Bay to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island.

Now—if you’re considering a trip to Vancouver, I HIGHLY recommend making the jaunt across the Bay to the island.  HOWEVER—you need to factor in the cost.  We didn’t look up the ferry fees before we got to town, so when we finally looked up the fee schedule online, we got a little bit of sticker shock.  The ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo costs about CAN$80 for two people and a car.  EACH WAY.  Fees differ depending on what part of the island, or what part of Vancouver, you depart from.  We wanted to go visit friends in Comox on the island, so Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo was the closest route for our trip.  And if you don’t need to take your car with you, the cost is considerably lower.

There’s a bit of wait to get on the ferry, but no worries—they provide free wifi in the line-up queue.  Since we couldn’t use our phones or data plans while on our trip, we were pretty stoked about just HOW MANY free wifi hot spots we were able to find.

Finally—we board the ferry, park our car, head up to the passenger area…and we’re off!

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It was SUCH a beautiful clear day.  We got amazing views of Vancouver and the islands around us.  It’s about a 2 hour ride, so when we weren’t staring out the windows, we watched a movie on our laptop.  There’s also a food court on board, if you want a snack or lunch.

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After we disembarked in Nanaimo, we began our drive up the coast to Comox.  The road signs promised us we should watch out for deer and elk…so we did.  And saw NONE.  Thanks a lot, Island. Way to overpromise & under-deliver on the wildlife front.

Around 4pm we rolled into Comox to meet up with my friends Nico & Naomi:

Naomi & Nico teWinkel

Nico’s a computer-aficionado/app developer, and Naomi is an amazing artist/web designer.  I’ve known these kids for about a decade, and they are just some of the greatest peeps on the planet.  Naomi & Nico took us for a delicious dinner at Atlas Café in Courtenay.  We had some amazing, garlicky hummus & pita, and the Hubs & I shared the Pork Schnitzel Cordon Bleu, because it sounded like all kinds of bad-for-you rolled into one.  Totally delicious.

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Afterward we went back to Naomi’s art gallery and she gave me free reign to pick out some “souvenirs”.  I was like a kid in a candy store!  Naomi’s art is bright and fun and very Dr. Seussian.  She also recently started making Mullies: super-adorbs handmade stuffed “monsters” that you wouldn’t mind finding in your closet.  They’re all unique and come with their own name.  Masher got to come home with me, along with a print of one of my very-favorite paintings, and a card that reminded us of Rocky.

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If you haven’t yet, you should go check out her online gallery.  She does such amazing work, and even makes custom paintings.

We finally took our leave from our friends, and headed to our hotel in Courtenay, the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa.  It was a little late when we checked in, so we didn’t get to explore, just went to our room & crashed.  But you’ll get to see more of this gorgeous beachfront resort tomorrow!