Sunday, 29 July 2007 asked for photos

I just got back from Whistler...Brrr, was it cold! Just joking. Ashley took this first picture when he was there with some work buddies in February 2005. He had never skied before, but they took him up the top and left him to his own devices anyway (I guess they didn't want a novice raining on their parade). He came home black, blue and very sore from his falls and near misses into the trees.

This trip I went up with a friend. She and I dared a trip away with the kids, leaving the guys at home to mind the house. Vancouver/Whistler is the future home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, but the weather was all summer while we were there - it was grand.

There is so much to do in Whistler. In Winter it is "the place" to go for skiing and the like, so it never really occurred to me to go there in the summer.

Whistler is a village surrounded by mountains. There are two ski mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, apparently Cougar Mountain is being groomed as a third.

There are numerous trails one can walk during the summer, along with some upper level glacier skiing. At the feet of these mountains are a number of lakes, some glacial fed lakes filled with stunning, turquoise coloured water, while others are regular snow melt lakes; these tend to be dark in colour, mimicking the deep green colour of surrounding pines and fir trees.
We took the kids for a swim in Alta Lake one afternoon. They had a ball, but immediately afterward started complaining of "swimmers itch". It is fine to swim in these lakes, as long as you thoroughly wash yourself off afterward, which we attempted to do, but not well enough, so it seems. The kids were pratically climbing the walls on the trip home, panicking about their itchy was straight into the bath once we got back to the accommodation.
Whistler Village is a happening place; vibrant and humming, with a multitude of little shops and cafes to duck into and explore. Mountain biking is a huge deal during the summer months. While we were there they were having some kind of competition, that involved an elaborately designed course and some scarily high jumps, positioned at the far end of Village Walk - the shops. Some kid had a bad tumble on one of thsoe jumps while we were there. Not sure what happened exactly, but he was stretchered off the course and the ambulance collected him a short time later - hope he is alright.

There were other biking trails that people could take, further up the mountain as well, but the young people, all walking around with their massive bikes and mud splattered up their backs, brought a great vibe to the village.
Where there are mountians and snow, there must be rivers and the odd waterfall, so not wanting to miss the opportunity to view one, we took a hike to Nairn Falls; trundling single file along a narrow path that dropped straight into the raging Green River below. The rocks surrounding the falls were smoothe and slilppery, even while dry, the result of an ancient volcano that had once spewed lava over that very spot. It was incredible to think that we were standing upon ancient lava.

Salamanders, green tree frogs and the rubber boa constrictor live in the park surrounding Nairn Falls - not that we saw any of these creatures, much to Missy Mopp's disappointment, she was hoping to see the damn snake. Although we did not see any salamanders, we did see four black bears over the course of our stay: a young male (I am guessing) who had crept out of the forest along the highway. We imagined that he was hoping to cross over to the stream on the other side. The other chance sighting was while coming down Whistler Mountain on the gondola. We saw a mother bear with her two cubs, hiding in the shadows of the nearby brush; oblivious mountain bikers riding mere metres away....bit of a worry.
Speaking of the gondola...I think the 25 minute, 6000ft up gondola ride was the trip highlight for all the kids. We adults enjoyed it too, but also the mountain itself. Up there we were really able to take in the vast and breath taking scenery. There are a number of hikes one can take up there, some guided. We chose the 30 minute paleface loop trail, it was perfect for a family with small children. The kids also got a kick out of touching some of the small patches of snow that lay, left over from the winter.
A trip up the mountain is not cheap, $30 for one adult, or $50 for a day trip, but kids under 7 years are free, but when you think about it, you are paying to ride the gondola AND use the park and mountain, so really, it is actually pretty good value, and the scene atop is priceless anyway; well worth the money, even if we weren't up there to ski.

We had phenomenal weather the entire time we were there. We hiked and saw wildlife, and on top of all that, the four kids together were pretty well behaved. It was a great little get away - I would love to experience Whistler in the winter, but that will have to happen time. I doubt we will have the chance to get back there before we go, but I reckon I will remember our trip to Whistler forever.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

off again....

I am off again. A friend and I are taking ourselves and our kids for a trip to Whistler for a few days. I am taking a good book with me - The Memory Keepers Daughter (enjoying it so far), and a good drop of wine. Should be good. Catch you all on Saturday when I get back.

Monday, 23 July 2007

The Dinner Fix - Sandi Richard

I detest making dinner. It stresses me out; is a thankless job and there is so much cleaning up afterwards and what one seems to appreciate the effort I go through each night.

As many of you know, I have two kids, 4 and 3 years old. For me, and countless other parents (I am sure) dinner is a fiasco largely considered with dread. I slave over a hot stove, in the largely futile attempt to create some healthy, balanced meal that will ensure the future well being of my children and sustenance for their day to come. What I get in return is mostly turned up noses, and nasally whines of "I don't like that", to which I protest, "but you haven't even tried it. How do you know if you have NEVER tried it?...TRY IT!"

Torture is a closer word for dinner in my house - both from the kids AND for me. Dinner is also the time when Ashley returns home from work - not a pleasant home-coming for him; frustrated wife and defiant, tired kids. I had indeed resigned myself to this disgruntled over dinner fate, hoping with time, this phase would pass, and my kids would one day become enlightened to the benefits of the vitamins and other nourishing details of foods other than Dora the Explorer tinned spaghetti.

Me, I was never really into meat, although not exactly a vegetarian, I tend not to go for meat - fish and chicken.... yeah, but red meat...not so much. I have always enjoyed vegetables and salads, and living out in whoop whoop, we never had fast food or take out - a meat pie or a pastie at the footy on Saturday was about as crazy as it ever got. McDonald's was a treat we only ever indulged in on the way home from Adelaide - which occurred only once in a blue moon - and then, believe it or not, I always ordered the garden salad with french dressing (oh and a sundae with hot caramel sauce).

Don't get me wrong, I am not professing to be a health nut, but I do appreciate and enjoy eating vegetables. But my frustration is not simply about my kids eating more vegetables. Rather, I would like them to eat more balanced meals and be open to trying new things - healthy things.

Anyway, when in Calgary, my friend, who like many of us, suffers similarly with the dinner dread, stumbled upon a Sandi Richard cook book. She is on telly and all , but her thing is meal planning, as opposed to cooking, but what is the difference?

I don't know about you, but at about 5pm I go to my pantry, unconscious and clueless about what I am going to make for dinner; already resigned about the predictably balked at outcome and protests of "yuck", all the while muttering to myself about why I bloody bother anyway. Then I scan the uninspiring ingredients lurking moodily upon my balsamic vinegar ringed shelves and the stress and pressure of what to make, begins.

Sandi Richard books are more than cook books - sure, they are filled with great recipes, but they also tell you how long each recipe will take to cook - from pantry shelf to dinner table, and there are shopping lists in the back, based on a weeks worth of recipes, according to how the book is set out.

i.e Week One of "The Dinner Fix" book, includes these recipes: Mexican Hamburgers, Spinach and Cheese Ravioli in a tomato tapenade with green beans, Asparagus stuffed Chicken with hollandaise and Greek salad, Red snapper with pineapple salsa Pecan wild rice and asparagus, Asian Meatball soup with baby carrots and dinner rolls. Then on page 161 the book lists all the ingredients you will need to make all of these recipes. Ont he back there is even room to adjust the list.

The beauty of the meal planning idea is that you can confidently choose something to make for dinner (in the morning even), knowing that all the ingredients are there in the cupboard waiting to be used. On top of that, all the recipes are sooOoo easy and quick to make.

So far I have made the Spinach and Cheese Ravioli in a tomato tapenade with green beans and Asparagus stuffed Chicken with hollandaise and Greek salad. Both recipes were very well received and eaten. I demanded that the kids try each one, despite the protests and assurances of "not liking it". Mister didn't care for beans in the ravioli dish, but he liked the rest of the meal. He requested that I make it again with a different side veggie, and I will certainly take that feedback on board for next time. The chicken was soooOOOooo good. I will certainly be making that one again, and I am looking forward to making the snapper dish next time. I believe there is hope concerning dinner after all.

If you are interested, you can check out Sandi Richard and her "cooking for the rushed", yourself.

*My only quibble about Sandi's writing is that she uses an excessive number of exclamation marks. I was exclaiming a few things myself at each glimpse of all those unnecessary vertical distractors. Enough with the exclamations marks!

Friday, 20 July 2007


When registering for runs/walks around the traps, you usually have to go somewhere to pick up your participants package, which usually includes your runners number, a chip if you are doing the half marathon or marathon and the essential t-shirt.

For the Scotia Bank run, we got a t-shirt and a bunch of brochures about other runs, a sample tube of sun block, hand and that was about it, which was kind of cool, I thought. The HBC Run For Canada runners pack was a real bonus: sample sun block, hand cream, chocolate almonds, a hat, gum, water flavour crystals, a toy for the kids, brochures about other runs AND the essential t-shirt; it was like Christmas. The best thing in the runners pack was a pedometer or step counter. Accompanying the step counter was a little card explaining the step counter and supplying a guide as to what the number of steps one records, means. Under 5000 steps, suggests you have lead a fairly sedentary life, 5000-7499 means you undertake a low level of activity, 7500-9999 means you are somewhat active, 10,000 means you lead an active lifestyle, and above 12,500 means you are highly active. The aim, the card suggests, is to lead an active lifestyle, thus taking at least 10,000 steps per day. There are even online walking clubs you can join for extra motivation, like this one launched in Brisbane and others, like this one. You could say that I have taken this little motivational challenge to heart. Actually, it is quite a handy little device, showing me how little activity I do when I have a slackers day in front of the computer.

Ideally, I like to get the sedentary status off the radar before lunch time, so anything after that is a bonus. It is funny how different activities use different steps, say I go to Curves and that is it, a curves work out is about 2,500 steps, so Curves alone is not enough. If I walk there as well, I might almost reach the 10,000 step mark, so on the weekend, when I can walk to Curves, I can reach the 10,000 before breakfast, and that feels fantastic.

On Monday, I was too tired to go to Curves (felt like shit actually), but I still had a list of jobs to do around the house. I was really surprised at the end of the day, to find that I had recorded over 11,000 steps, just by doing the housework.

Currently the step counter is a bit of an obsession, but it is a healthy one. I want to be active, who it helps to have something that tells me the truth about just how active or inactive I have been on any given day. A pedometer is a fairly simple device and reasonably inexpensive too. If you have a chance to get one, I would recommend it. I don't want to be sedentary - do you?

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

What's your flavour?

Over the weekend a friend introduced us to a Vancouver icon - La Casa!

La Casa, for those poor souls, who, like us prior to last weekend, are completely unaware of this local marvel, is a gelato parlour that boasts 218 flavours , can you believe that?

We turned up late on Saturday afternoon, and the place was packed. La Casa Gelato is positioned at 1033Venables Street in East Vancouver, not a noted touristy destination, but people know about it.

La Casa Gelato is made on the premises, with the establishment supplying many of the local restaurants around town. La Casa is perhaps not the place to go if you have trouble making up your mind, although the free samples of varieties inspiring the curiosity certainly help in that regard; there are also a number of "cone" options as well.

So what did we opt for? I had raspberry cheesecake, Mister had Mint Choc Chip, Ashley had the the old tried and true- double chocolate chip, Missy Mopps had electric blue Cotton Candy, much of which was worn down her chin and the front of her brand new dress; our friend however, went for something more exotic, "Death by Mango" and white, something weird (sorry I forget what the other flavour was).
I wish I had the chance to take my Grandpa to this place; his eyes would have glazed over at the thought.

Verdict: damn good gelato! Will try to remember to visit there a dozen times before we leave town.

baby news

For those who read my post from over a week ago, and are patiently waiting to here news about my suffering friend and her long overdue baby; I am sorry to have left you in the lurch. The baby was born on the 11th (while I was away). And despite the lengthy wait my friend had to endure; all are well, which is as much a relief as it is a blessing. Speaking of blessings, she had a healthy baby girl - "Sierra Dawn".


The kids and I have just come back from Calgary, which is a lovely city located in southern Alberta, the next province over from British Columbia. We were visiting some good friends. It was great.

Poor ole Ashley had to work so he stayed home with the dogs, which didn't turn out to be a cake walk since Cobie (yes him again) decided to run away on the first night, while a glasier replaced our kitchen window after it fell prey to some shithead(s) who decided to sling shot an apple through it, early Sunday morning. The dog WAS found, albeit some 5 hours later.

My friend had many activities planned for us and we got to see a good deal of the city. We also had ample time to chat, which seems to be something that we can do awfully well together.

Calgary enjoys a dry summer heat. It was pretty warm when we were there; at one stage reaching 32 degrees. For us, who enjoy a milder, more humid summer, it was hot - although my attire (something that is frequently letting me down at the moment) was not helping matters; I roasted. I SERIOUSLY need to invest in some decent summer wear ahead of our arrival to Oz in late November - they are starting to get their Fall stock in over here already - Noooooooo!

On the outer rim of Calgary they have an amusement park called Calaway Park. It was pretty awesome, and fantastic for the kids. All you have to do is pay your entry fee and then you can go on all the rides you want. Missy Mopps loved the carousel the most. They also had a height chart at the gate, that let your child know, at a glance, which rides he/she qualified to go on, thus eliminating any possible rejected-at-the -front-of-the-queue tantrums.

This week and last were the weeks of the famous Calgary Stampede. The Stampede brings a great cowboy atmosphere to the city (apparently moreso than usual), and many people are seen walking around in cowboy hat and boots. We were taken to a Stampede breakfast one morning, which was held in the closed off car park of a local shopping centre. There was a petting zoo and pony rides, show horses, cow milking competitions, country music bands and other displays, not to mention a sumptuous pancake and sausage breakfast to be had, all on the city of Calgary's tab - Thank you very much. It was great to be a part of that busy festival vibe.

Since it was hot, we headed to Eau Claire, situated near Downtown Calgary. Eau Claire has a great kids water park, through a beautiful garden park, just over the Bow River bridge. All the rivers I have ever seen are murky brown and reasonably calm: the Murray, Torrens, Darling, Murrumbidgee and even BC's Fraser River, at least at our end. The Bow River had a strong current - a really strong current. People raft on the river, but it is too dangerous to swim, apparently many people have drowned in it, and even rafting is pretty dangerous due to the current, but it was the river's colour that blew me away the most; bluey green. I couldn't get over it. I have never seen such a fresh clean looking major river before.

We also took a trip to the mountains - Banff and Lake Louise, in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, in particular. Any who are even remotely familiar of these areas, will know that they define the word "beautiful"; snow capped mountains; fir trees as far as the eye can see; the bluest tranquil lakes one can possible imagine, filled with an abundance of frigid glacial waters, and clean crisp mountain air. These are the scenes that inspire artists of all mediums, mountaineers, environmentalists and John Denver (well sort of) We even saw a bear - yep its true, a wild black bear foraging for food on a hillside close to the road.

Some fool apparently rowed his canoe off Bow Falls at Banff when we were there, but we didn't see it, Thankfully. The reports said that an English tourist was taken to hospital with a great deal of bruising - hopefully mainly to his ego - idiot.

While the trip to the mountains was fab, the drive with the kids was nightmarish. Mister kept complaining about sore legs (?) Missy Mopps had to stop every 10 metres to go to the toilet and we had a 20 month old who was very tired - Mister and Missy Mopps' antics were not helping in that regard, but we survived.

Before we headed back home on Friday, we visited the Calgary Zoo, which is great. The Greater Vancouver Zoo is not so good, and I am saying that as politely as possibly, but the Calgary Zoo is wonderful, with large modern enclosures, environmental programs and kids summer education camps. It also has a Prehistoric Park, with life-size models of dinosaurs in amongst terrain similar to the environment it once lived. Prehistoric Park opened in the early 80's, and the models did look a little worst for wear, but the kids went nuts over it. Alex was so excited to see all there fake dinosaurs, even though he said he would prefer to see the real animals before we got there.

All said and done...we had a wonderful time in Calgary, but I think the best aspect of the whole trip was catching up with my lovely friend; enjoying her company and seeing our kids play so well together, just as they used to back in good ole Australia.

Next week - Whistler.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

see ya...

I was hoping to get in a more inspiring post that this, but I was too busy yesterday, and this morning I am too bleary eyes and foggy brained to think of anything above function only level. That said, I am off to Calgary for a few days, with the kids, to visit a dear friend.

When I get back I hope to have a good read of everybody's blogs, and say "hi", I haven't had a chance to do that at all, this week.

Have a good week everyone...oh, and for those who were wondering, still no word about my friend and her well baked bubs. Thank you to all who sent well wishes to her.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Slip Sliding Away

Sunday Scribblings – “Slippery”

This week, I dedicate my Sunday Scribblings contribution to a dear friend who is waiting patiently for her baby to be born. My friend is now eight days overdue and I am really feeling for her – my first was six days over, and that was certainly long enough.

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is “slippery”, which prompted the memory of this little story…..

Some fifteen or so years ago, I worked with a girl whose best friend was pregnant. My co-worker even attended this girl’s birth, as her birthing partner. A couple of weeks before the birth, the mother-to-be was given a surprise baby shower by her friends. At one point during the party, the guest of honour mentioned that she would like to have music playing during her labour; to help her focus and relax. The idea prompted much discussion about the kinds of songs she might find helpful in such a situation. I believe some classical music was suggested and a few tranquil Enya songs, but then some smart arse suggested this little gem: Simon and Garfunkel’s Slip Sliding Away.

While my co-worker had re-counted this story straight faced and oblivious, I was doubled over in hysterics over this labour ward possibility and the cartoonish image that had set forth in my mind. My befuddled co-worker stared at me for about two seconds before she too saw the funny side, and before long we were both barely able to contain ourselves.

Now being a Simon and Garfunkel fan from way back, I must say, this song is fabulous, but the lyrics are of a more gloomy reflective nature, but boy…the chorus sure is fitting!

So with that my dear friend, I am praying for you, and I sincerely and dearly hope your baby comes slip sliding right on out with ease, any moment now.

Much Love XXX

I am having a go at this youtube version since all attempts to post the original have failed thus far...not sure what this has to do with anything, not really sure it even goes with the song. Enjoy it anyway.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Poetry Thursday - The Fall

The girls at Poetry Thursday are off on a well earned break, but Poetry Thursday still continues throughout the summer, though without suggested prompts. I wrote this a while ago. I have been reviewing it in recent weeks, so I thought I may as well share it.

The dramatic heights of loveliness,
Caressed the soft waves of her hair.
A potent intoxication
Suspended reality in the air.

An hypnotic high; so mellow,
Burnished through enamored eyes.
Mournful tones though, now resound,
In guttural wrenching cries.

The ebb and flow of a peculiar fate;
A world turned on its axis once more.
Those fruits, once thought so delicious,
Are spoiled; rotten to the core.

She dared to pierce that taut red skin,
Seeking juicy delights beneath,
But neither zing nor sweetness whetted her lips;
An odious pungency caught her teeth.

That wily fervour, from her past
Could not be arrested forever.
Seized by a love; never mutually roused,
Not then, not now – not ever.

© Strauss

Photo by Elliot Erwitt
"California 1955"

Monday, 2 July 2007


I did the HBC Run for Canada 3km Walk yesterday. I don't know...there is something about lining up to a start line, stomach filled with butterflies, excitement and anticipation building, readying oneself for the GO signal, only to set out for a.... walk. It seems almost as silly as competing in a staring contest or a thumb war - really. A walking race just doesn't seem serious enough. Scold me for saying that if you like, I don't mind.

I positioned myself at the front of the start line, and steamed away when given the go ahead. Soon I found myself way out in front, and I felt really self conscious - Is that not the most insane thing you have heard today?

I haven't ever been comfortable in the lime light or exposed in anyway, give me a dark corner to hide in any day. If I were to come back as an animal, I would probably end up being a chameleon - blending perfectly into the scenery.

Anyway, it didn't rain yesterday - Canada Day - It was perfect weather really, so I have no excuse about not providing a dreaded God Awful photo this time, except I HATE having my photo taken!!!! Here is my 3km medal - hee hee!

By the way, I came third, don't know exactly how many people took part, but it was fun anyway. I finished in 24 minutes, which is slow, so I have something to aim for now. I am going to try for a 5km run next time, and leave the walk races until I am in Australia...unless there is another race walking to do before then.

Ashley and the kids enjoyed the 1km race, and they gave every participant a t-shirt and a finishers medal. There were free cupcakes, water and balloons for the kids, it was a great way to spend Canada Day, and raise money for Canadian Olympic Athletes too, which was the whole point of the run.