Journal Notes

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25th Sep 2014

Recipe: Smashed Bruschetta

I love my garden and all the yummy food it grows when we have a warm sunshine filled summer like we just did here in Vancouver. This summer one of my nearby neighbours had a table set out with a bunch of varieties of heirloom tomatoes he was selling for a small donation, such a score. I planted about 7 plants and put half in pots and the rest in my garden, the ones in the garden produced more tomatoes so I think I need bigger pots next year.  Among those were some of the tastiest roma tomatoes I have ever eaten, so when I had a bowlful of ripe red ones I decided to make smashed bruschetta, a personal favorite of mine that goes perfectly with a chilled glass of white wine.

This recipe is at it’s best when you can use freshly picked ingredients, for me that meant fresh tomatoes, basil and harvested garlic from my garden. I bought the french bread and red onion. We used our very nice Tuscan Olive Oil we bought on our honeymoon, which is an important step because good quality Olive Oil really brings out the flavors.

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of roughly chopped Roma Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of roughly diced Red Onion
  • handful of fresh Basil
  • 2 cloves Garlic minced & 1 clove for smearing on hot grilled bread
  • good Olive Oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1.  Preheat the BBQ to 500 degrees to grill the bread (or use a stovetop grill pan in absence of BBQ)
  2. Chop up the Roma tomatoes & Red Onion and put into a mixing bowl
  3. Tear up fresh Basil & mince 2 Garlic cloves and add to mixing bowl
  4. Drizzle items in bowl with good quality Olive Oil until well coated and then add Salt & Pepper to taste
  5. Cut French Bread and brush on Olive Oil to tops of bread
  6. Grill the bread on the BBQ (or in grill pan) facing the olive oil tops down until they are a toasty golden coloured
  7. Turn off BBQ
  8. As you remove each piece of bread use a clove of garlic to rub onto the olive oiled side of the bread (it makes the most mouth watering roasted garlic smell) Oh and ask for help if you need it so the bread doesn’t burn on the grill or remove all the bread and then rub garlic
  9. Plate the roasted garlic bread and top each piece with a pile of bruschetta mix
  10. ENJOY!

 

By:

12th Sep 2014

Bookshelf: Wildwood

I went on a magical and relaxing 5 night trip to Robert’s Creek on the Sunshine Coast. The house we rented had this wonderfully landscaped and traditionally decorated beach house that you would think came out of the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe series. Every morning I would get up early, before everyone else to enjoy a cup of coffee while I sat watching the sunrise on the wrap around porch, I was in heaven. I had also purchased a new book to enjoy (in print, a luxury for me now that I try to read on an iPad), called Wildwood by Colin Meloy and it was the perfect fit for this house and trip spent with our good friends where we played boardgames, enjoyed the quiet and beach, and had meaningful conversations around the table and on the wrap around porch.

Wildwood is set in Portland, Oregan well it’s truly set in the Impassible Wilderness beyond the Industrial Wastelands of Portland where young 12 year old Prue and her new found friend Curtis find themselves stumbling into a world filled with talking animals and political unrest after her baby brother Mac is abducted by a murder of crows. Somehow this house we had rented just felt right to read this book, because it also had magical secrets hidden within it’s beautiful wonderland of green gardens.

I have already finished Wildwood and I’m onto the next book in the series called Under Wildwood and I highly recommend this book series if you are looking for a fun fantasy novel that let’s you escape into a world full of magic where your imagination can be exercised.

By:

31st Mar 2014

DIY : Fabric Letters

homemade letters

Our Sweet Pea has a beautiful handmade quilt from her Grandma Nicole and there was some leftover fabric that she so kindly gave to me to create some other fun decorations with, so I wanted to use the leftover fabric to make the letters of our daughter’s first and middle name. They turned out beautifully and my only hiccup was the fabric didn’t hold a stitch as well as the felt backing, so giving the letters to Sweet Pea would result in pulled stitches and no more cute letters.

Supplies & Instructions

  • Fabric and/or Felt
  • Stuffing
  • Sharp sewing scissors
  • Heavy weighted thread
  • Paper or cardboard
  1. Pick a font you would like to use – I used Calibra
  2. I made the letters 6″ high and then printed them out using Photoshop (you could also trace the paper letters onto cardboard to make it easier to trace and create a stencil in the process)
  3. Trace each letter twice for a front and back, then I cut each letter one at a time as I worked to make sure the fabric wouldn’t fray too much
  4. Pin the front and back of the letter together and then hand stitch the outside of the fabric together – the thread will show
  5. Stuff the letter as you go so you can get the stuffing in all the tight spots before you sew the letter up

materials

 

 

By:

26th Mar 2014

Kauai: Hiking the Na Pali Coast

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Before we left on our trip to Hawaii, we decided that doing a hike while there was on the top of our to-do list and we were so glad that we did because it was beautiful and a great way to explore the tropical lush valleys as we walked the red dirt trails that follow along the Na Pali coastline with it’s awesome views of the turquoise waters below. This hike definitely has it challenges but is doable without too much prior conditioning if you are a fairly active person beforehand. The Kalalau Trail has several steep rocky switchbacks that can be slippery and muddy after rain, so proper footwear is important. Also you really need to bring water and basic supplies in a backpack, such as first aid, food, a light waterproof jacket, a sunhat and a camera.

We did the Kalalau Trail to the Hanakapi’ai Beach 4 miles (return) and then hiked the extra 4 miles (return) to Hanakapiai Falls which has a 120′ waterfall that you can swim below but it’s cold and you need to watch out for falling rocks (according to safety guides). Jeff took a quick swim and went under the roaring falling water, while I enjoyed the warm air and took photos. Climbing the trail to the falls is definitely more challenging than the first 2 mile trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach because it’s steeper and you have to criss cross the river several times using the river rocks as your footpath, jumping across requires balance and confidence.

Important to note that swimming at Hanakapi’ai Beach is extremely dangerous due to rip tides, many visitors have lost their lives by falling into a false sense of security when the waters appear calm. There is a wooden sign at the beach with a tally of lost lives, a harsh and smart warning to those considering the dangerous waters. In my opinion unless there’s a Lifeguard, in Kauai, the waters are enter at your own risk especially in the winter when rip tides are unavoidable and the surf swells are high, but I take ocean swimming pretty seriously and not lightly.

A friend asked me what we did with the Sweet Pea on our hike and my answer was we had Grandparents with us to help with childcare so we could go out on our own, like we did on this hike. We did see people with small children on the hike, some only using fabric baby carriers (which would concern me), others had proper hiking baby backpacks (my preferred safe option) and others brought their 3 year olds with no shoes and end up having to carry their child out because they decided they wanted to be carried (looked dangerous). With all parenting decisions it’s up to you with how comfortable you feel bringing your child. I would personally bring our daughter on the first 2 mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach in a hiking backpack, but not the Hanakapiai Falls hike which had more consequences if you fell, like falling into a river or down a steep muddy and rocky cliffside, but that’s my comfort level.

I hope to someday make it back to Hawaii so we can do more exploring and hiking, because there are tons of trails with their hidden beauty to discover. If you want to find more information I found this website which outlines a bunch of different hikes on Kauai, what to expect and some hiking tips.

By:

20th Mar 2014

Kauai: Our Favorite Beaches

We just got back from an amazing trip to Kauai, also known as The Garden Isle because of it’s natural lush and tropical beauty. We stayed on the North side of the island, which does get a bit more rain but the views and beaches are spectacular. Today I thought I would share some photos of some of the beaches we were able to visit, there are so many it would take some time to get to them all! What surprised us the most was that there weren’t many people on the beaches, awesome right, keeping in mind it isn’t high season but it sure was nice.

Wainiha Beach, Kauai

Located on the North side of the island and lucky for us, a 5 minute walk from our vacation rental home. The surf was a bit rough most days, so we didn’t stop to swim or snorkel here, but I’m sure on a calm day it would be good to go. This beach area does not have a lifeguard so being a smart and strong swimmer is a must, also knowing the conditions will help you make the right decision.

Wainiha Area, Kauai

Ok, so Waterfall Beach is not actually it’s name but we re-named it because this was our go-to beach. Located just up from Wainiha on your way to Kepuhi Beach on the North side of the island. It was calm and easy to swim in, not to mention stunning. This beach does not have a lifeguard.

Kepuhi Beach, Kauai

Located on the North side of the island, just keep walking along the beach towards the Na Pali Coast. Gorgeous beach with lava rocks and reefs to explore when the water is calm. Jeff and I really enjoyed walking along this beach in the tidal pools and reefs that acted like natural mini waterfalls as the waves crashed over them. This beach does not have a lifeguard.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

At sunset as we walked along Kepuhi Beach, the Na Pali Coast mountain range was a golden moment. This beach does not have a lifeguard.

Ke'e Beach, Kauai

A view from the Kalalau Trail above is Ke’e Beach, on a sunny calm day this beach would be excellent for snorkelling. The beach sand is soft and nice to walk on. Located on the North side of the island. This beach does have a Lifeguard station, also good for all the hikers if they get injured.

Larsen's Beach, Kauai

A bit of a walk in, but a fairly easy and short one (10 minutes or so) this was a beautiful beach with snorkeling if you are a strong swimmer. The waves were still pretty big and there was rip tides, so Jeff talked to someone who knew the area before heading in. There are cool reefs to explore but with a strong current you could end up getting thrashed into the reef. There are no lifeguards on duty here and signs warning you. I played with our daughter along the shore.

Po'ipu Beach, Kauai

Located on the South side of the island is Po’ipu Beach which is family friendly and busier. There are safe swimming areas that are monitored by Lifeguards. Jeff and his Dad did some body surfing, so bring your boogie boards! This is also where you’ll find the sun most days compared to the North side that gets more rain due to proximity of the mountains. This area has lots of resorts along the water, great if you want an easy holiday close to the beach.

Kauai

This photo pretty much sums up how I felt being in Kauai, grateful and happy.