Advertisements

travel: cruising

so, i’m now a cruiser.  kinda.
i’ve moved from my previous travel agent job into the same job, just with a cruising focus.
it’s been very interesting… i like the new challenge and it’s been really fun learning in depth about cruising after years of talking about airlines and tours and hotels and such.
AND i still get to do all the airfare and tours and hotels and stuff that i used to, i just throw this on the pile.  if that makes sense.

anyways, for a few years now i’ve been pretty stoked on the idea of going on royal caribbean’s oasis of the seas.
my husband and i have watched shows on its construction and inception… and i’ve been to more training sessions on it than i can count.  and frankly, it looks freaking amazing.
so we’re going.

next november, roughly a year from now, we’re going to do this 7 night eastern caribbean itinerary.
and it’s gonna be pretty awesome.

CARIB_FLL_50710C

and the really fun part is that we’ve decided to assemble a posse.
so i’ve booked off a whole mess of group space on this amazing ship, so if you’re in the mood to sail the caribbean seas with some cool people (like me, obviously) then you should join us.
it’s tres affordable (savings of about $200 a person from the regular price – plus a $50 cabin credit!) and deposit to secure your spot is only $50 a person.
so if you’re into it or want more info, flip me an email at work.  and if you don’t have that address, leave a comment and i’ll email you directly with the goods.

in the meantime, i’ll occupy my months with fantasies of the ship and all the fun stuff to do and all the food to eat.  because food is included and i’m planning on doing some damage at a few places.  mainly the hot dog place and the sushi restaurant.

Advertisements

travel: hawaii. again.

its funny to think that i was just in honolulu 11 months ago.
but, i’ll be back shortly.
my next trip is back to good old HNL and i’ll be spending 11 days just chilling out and not doing a whole heck of a lot.

see, i have this thing over the last couple years…its the fervent belief that i should wake up on my birthday somewhere warm and beautiful.

basically this is the evolution of my insistence for the last 10+ years that i not work on my birthday.
i always booked it off and would take the day simply to sleep in, laze around and frankly, do whatever the hell i felt like.
there was often breakfast booze, pedicures and haircuts on the schedule…

but while thats been great and all… a couple years ago i booked myself to hawaii early ahead of a family vacation so that i could have all those things, just in hawaii.
last year i didn’t make it back, my trip was november instead of december, but this year; its on.

because i believe that on your birthday you should be happy.  truly happy.
and hawaii makes me happy in a way nowhere else can.

anyways.
i’ve been thinking about my upcoming trip lately because the husband and i watched an amazing 2 hour documentary on eddie aikau.
wow, what an absolutely moving story.
i’ve seen “eddie would go” stickers and signs around oahu’s north shore, but didn’t know where the saying had come from.  and what a legacy this guy has left, not just for being a surfer, but mostly for being such an exceptional human being.

anyways, i won’t readers digest such an amazing film, but i highly recommend you check it out: Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

https://i0.wp.com/holoholo.org/quikeddy/eddie01.jpg

so, after that doc, hawaii has been on the brain… and i can’t wait to be back.

as usual, we don’t have too much planned.
i’m going to the spa on my birthday… and then out for teppanyaki since my husband has never had it before (! crazy, right?)
i hope to get a meal in at chef morimoto’s restaurant which looks amazing and has been on my list for years…  morimoto waikiki

beyond that, it’s a jam packed schedule of sweet fuck all.
which i am more than ready for.

we’re staying in a condo for the first 7 nights and then my husband and i are moving to one of my favourite hotels, the outrigger waikiki on the beach for 4 nights.
i just find that i spend so much time infront of that hotel on the beach, in the restaurants; particularly duke’s, and so why not just buck up and stay there?
we’re in a partial ocean view room which means in the morning i can sit on the patio with my coffee in my jammies and sip while i gaze out over the gorgeous water and daydream of running away forever to the islands…
those morning moments are amoung my favourite little pieces of hawaii.

this is pretty much how i’m envisioning that view going down…
because i’m “thrifty” i only do the partial ocean view… saves about $50 a night and its not like what you get is bad…

https://i0.wp.com/media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/d1/a1/ed/partial-ocean-view-room.jpg

hawaii… come at me!
i’m ready for you.
countdown clock = 44 days.

travel: shamelessly in love with austin.

on my last vacation i discovered something.
i discovered that austin, texas is perhaps one of the greatest places i’ve ever visited.
and while oodles of people told me “you’ll love austin…”, i was still surprised that not only did i love austin, but i LOVED austin.
in fact, one drunken evening, i called my husband and told him “fuck vegas, all our vacations are to austin from now on!”

this city.
it’s the fucking best.
its pure rock and roll, the nicest people and the best food.
if it was in canada, i’d have moved there already.

so… the original draw to austin wasn’t the city itself, it was this festival.

20131017-183954.jpg

and this was incredible.  it was amazingly run, clean, efficient… just surpassed all expectations.
i’ve been to a lot of large scale events and this was hands down the best run.
i can not say enough good things about the management of ACL festival.

their food options were out of control… some of austin’s best restaurants and food trucks representing.  none with a lineup longer than 10 minutes even in the peak of dinner rush.

20131017-184014.jpg

the beer hall… and it’s important to note that this is a beer HALL, not a beer GARDEN.
because in the great land of america, you get to be a big kid and you can take your beer wherever you damn well please.
and they sold 20 different craft & local beers throughout the festival.
the main beer hall was over 20,000 square feet, again, with no line longer than 10 minutes even in the heat of the day.

20131017-184051.jpg

besides the festival, we did some shopping and eating at south congress… which was very cool and we spent a good couple of hours and some decent money in the little funky shops…

we also did the requisite tourist activity and visited the gorgeous capital building…

20131017-184025.jpg

20131017-184037.jpg

and on our food tour we hit some really cool places and noticed that austin loves its infused booze.
and bar worth its salt was infusing their own liquor and some of the brews were wild.
some spicy, some insane and others complete genius…

20131017-184113.jpg

20131017-184122.jpg

the craziest one we tried was the franklin’s brisket infused bourbon.  it was salty, beefy and smoky.  truly one of the most inspired and unique tastes i’ve encountered.

20131017-184132.jpg

but this… this is what i came for.
my beloved silversun pickups played on saturday and fucking owned it.
i had a spot right up front and took a million pictures…
the played three of my all time favourites.
they played 10 songs total, which i can’t complain about…
and they declared it to be their last performance until the new album comes out next year.
it was fucking worth every penny i spent.  i’d do it again in a heartbeat.

20131022-154453.jpg

in fact…
i already know i’ll be back next year.
thanks for the super awesome fun times austin!

20131017-184151.jpg

travel: los angeles recap

i guess one would say that we survived LA.
although the jury is still out on my liver making it out alive.

but here’s your brief photojournal.  and sorry, but if you’re following me on instagram, you’ve already seen all these.

if you squint and look reeeeeal close you’ll see the hollywood sign in the centre of this first picture.  and that is the most we saw of it, lol.  (from the plane)

20130905-155801.jpg

we made it to our lovely hotel in hollywood without much incident… it was a great location and super cute.  i definitely recommend the grafton.
friendly staff, nice rooms and we adored the pool.

20130905-155813.jpg

our first whole day there we kicked it to universal studios to ride some rides and have the fun!

20130905-155828.jpg

the last time i was there was many moons ago… probably like 15 years ago, so basically besides the bones, the whole place was different.

we had a rad time and were very happy we went first thing in the morning when it opened.  we rode the simpsons ride, transformers, the mummy and jurassic park before there were any lines at all.

the simpsons ride was SO COOL.  definitely my favourite thing there.

20130905-155848.jpg

20130905-155900.jpg

after a hot sweaty day in the california sunshine, we had another very important stop to make…

hot dogs!  (obviously)

only a block away from our hotel was Carney’s, which is hailed as the best hot dog in LA.  and it did not disappoint.
we went with the classic carney’s dog which had chili, cheese, mustard, onions and tomato on it.  we added the insanely hot peppers on top and i had mine without onions.
it was a frigging delight.  hands down the best dog i’ve had to date.
and can’t you tell how excited the husband is?  he looks like a boy on christmas, lol.

20130905-155911.jpg

one of the things that always makes me excited is checking out venues in other cities.  we didn’t make it into a show, but wow was it ever neat to see so many legendary places in person.

the whiskey, the viper room, the troubadour, the roxy… it felt like every block we turned had another amazing spot for me to gawk at.
next time, i most definitely have to see a show.

20130905-155928.jpg

as i mentioned, the whole point of the trip was to see our dear friends get hitched and the wedding and all the partying that accompanied it was top notch.

the wedding itself, absolute perfection and getting to know so many super cool people was just a blast.  those LA people have the most hilarious stories.

on our last day we had the pleasure of enjoying a gorgeous pool in bel air and it was a wonderful end to a great trip.

and we agreed that we need to visit LA more often.

20130905-155958.jpg

20130905-160004.jpg

fabulous las vegas: including bon apetit vegas uncorkd 2013

you might not know if from my lack of posts, but the 2013 vegas crew did indeed survive our adventure.
i also answered the question – is 6 nights in vegas too long? with a resounding NO.  i was not ready to come home and could have lounged poolside for another week easily.

and once again, i headed to vegas with a to-do/to-see list that was a mile long and really only got through a handful of things.
but i did have an excellent time.

when we checked in at the cosmopolitan, the lovely lady at the desk asked if it was our first time.  we told her it was my 7th trip to vegas, but our first time staying at the cosmopolitan.  she leaned over the desk and whispered “you’ll never stay anywhere else again”.
and by george,i think she was right.

the cosmopolitan was top notch from start to finish.  excellent service, beautiful rooms with incredible pools and terrific restaurants.  i have zero complaints about our stay there. and yes, i’ll be back.

our room was over 1000 square feet with 2 bathrooms and a giant patio overlooking the bellagio fountains.  i pretty much never wanted to move out.  it was gorgeous.

(here’s our patio view)

Image

and a shot of the living room when we were about to check out… le sigh…

Image

anyways, like most things in life, pictures don’t do it justice, but lets suffice to say it was pretty kickass.

but, more than anything, in las vegas, we come to eat and drink.
and the bon apetit vegas uncorkd was a strong lure for us…
we decided to do two events, the grand tasting and the bellagio block party.  both were very cool and very different.  the grand tasting was a totally mind blowing experience.  celebrity chefs everywhere, throngs of people loaded up with pork belly and short rib and fine liquor flowing very freely.

here’s my partners in crime and i on the red carpet on arrival.

Image

it’s kind of hard to see and describe, but all the food is poolside in an outer ring and then the liquor was on the inner ring, hugging the pool.  lovely setting.

Image

this was the most i saw of gordon ramsay all night… he wasn’t exactly hanging out making conversation…

Image

no big deal… just bobby flay serving food for mesa grill…

Image

Image

i don’t even know which restaurant this cookie came from, but it had a syringe of chocolate ganache with it and it was a delight.

Image

i resisted the urge to take pictures of my food and just experience the event instead.  by now, i know that no photo can replicate being there and tasting it, so i’ll just tell you that we enjoyed to the max and kept the camera in my purse pretty much the whole night.  this was an event, not a photo op. and i stand by that decision.

the next night was the bellagio block party… and it was fun!  much more relaxed than the grand tasting and much smaller, in both size and guests.  the food portions were also bigger, as instead of 200 restaurants, you only had about 30 to try from, so you got a bit more of an appetizer vs an amuse bouche.

here’s my crew (minus my husband who left to get a beer) at the block party.

Image

and then under the bellagio hidden driveway sign…

Image

yup.  fun times!

anyways… fill in the blanks with food, sun, pool, drinks and laughing… and that was vegas!  definitely always more fun with wicked people.

Image

travel: turks & caicos

…and we’re BACK!
home sweet home after 4 nights in the absolutely stunning turks & caicos.
that place was… wow.

you know when you see pictures of a place and somewhere in the back of your mind you have doubts that it could *really* look like that?
this place ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE THIS!

those are two REAL photos that i took with my crappy underwater camera.
they are absolutely untouched by photoshop.  that is really how freaking gorgeous that place was.

i have been to a lot of beaches and nothing came close to what this place was like.
i will absolutely be returning there.

getting there was a bit of a nightmare though.
nothing flies direct from the west coast to the eastern caribbean, so we connected through toronto.
we left vancouver on a red eye, which i absolutely loathe.  i tried to think positive… it meant we got in at 1pm instead of 8pm, so in the end since this was such a short trip it was worth it… but i don’t sleep on planes.  so being wide awake all night on a flight was torture.
somehow i napped on the flight from toronto to turks, which saved me, but it was an exhausting experience and not one i’d be quick to repeat.

the way home was pretty seamless… left turks around 2pm and were back in vancouver by 11pm.  gotta love when the time changes work in your favour.
the flight home was very harrowing for me.  i sustained quite the injury on my trip and needed to keep my foot elevated… the turks to toronto flight was no problem, as they had me in a bulkhead seat…
but the toronto to vancouver had me in a regular seat and that was exceedingly painful.  my foot about tripled in size on the flight and almost brought me to tears.
i do have to give much love to the air canada staff that tried their best to get me into an extra leg room seat, but as the flight was full they couldn’t really do much.  the flight attendants let me move to their seats in the back for the last hour of the flight so i could stretch out and put my leg up.  which probably saved me from having a total breakdown.

anyways. the beaches resort was massive and gorgeous.  immaculate grounds and obviously a top notch beach.
so many pool areas and restaurants… it was easily twice the size of the biggest resort i’ve ever stayed in.
which was totally awesome… until i hurt myself, then it was torture, lol.  buuuuuut… i’d definitely recommend this place, especially for families.  hell, even *i* got a kick out of seeing elmo wandering around the resort.

my trip itself was great.  but i lovingly refer to my company as a bunch of a-holes because they very much follow the “work hard, play hard” mentality.  which is awesome when you’re like 21… but in your 30s its a little harder to work hard the day after you’ve played hard.
so our days were filled with conference time and a sandals foundation charity project and our nights filled with beach & pool parties and crazy fun times.  then we got up at the crack of dawn and did it all again.
let me tell you, that 6:50am boot camp (yes, that’s 3:50am vancouver time) hit a whole bunch of people HARD.
thankfully, the day prior to that i had the presence of mind to not drink a single drop of liquor, so i was ready to rock it out.

it was HOT.  and HUMID.  the day of my sandals foundation project work all i did was drink water and sweat.  i drank over 12 bottles of water and probably sweat out 20.  i didn’t want alcohol in any fashion, so it wasn’t hard to say no.
but i kinda think this face made it all worthwhile (*cheese*)

this is calvin and he was pretty much as sweet and adorable as he looks in this picture.
we hung out, played with stickers and read stories.  not a bad way to spend the afternoon… and i definitely thanked the gods that i didn’t have to do manual labor in that heat.  i think i legit would have passed out.

and then the early evenings after the conference were spent in the ocean.
picture if you will, a giant floatilla of travel agents bobbing in the caribbean sea.  it was pretty rad.

the water was bathtub warm and with air temperatures of 30+ there was absolutely no chill at any point in the evening.  it was simply perfect for late night water antics.

so there you go… a brief turks run down.
and i can’t say this enough… go.
go see the eastern caribbean.  its not that far, not that expensive and absolutely stunning.
more posts coming about the food.  because authentic proper caribbean food is a treat for the senses.
and you’d better believe i ate my share of it.

food: pie party

on sunday we had a pie party.
and it was pretty rad.

3 kinds of pie were served… one savory main and two delicious dessert offerings.

i took care of the savory pie.
since we had a vegetarian on board, i decided just to make a veggie pot pie… it had all the usual suspects… onion, carrots, leek, celery, peas, corn, yellow wax beans and red skinned potatoes.
i made a roux with butter & flour and then added veggie stock and a bit of milk.
seasoned it with salt, pepper, fresh thyme & rosemary.  and dried chipotles.

but the real star of this pie is the crust.
i kinda phoned it in with a frozen tenderflake puff pastry… but then i like to think i made up for it with the magic layer.
this idea is from a canadian living recipe… basically you roll out one layer of puff pastry and coat it with fresh grated parmesan cheese & fresh chopped herbs and then layer the other dough on top.
the result is a secret flavour layer that takes the traditional pot pie up a notch (or two)

20120903-123646.jpg

on to the sweet pies!
moonbeam made her decadent s’mores pie… which was so rich and sweet and aiodjg;fngakhnf.  gah.
it was ridiculous.

graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache that you wanted to rub all over your body… and vegan marshmallow fluff that was bruleed at serving time.
because she’s fancy like that.

20120903-123700.jpg

julie’s pie contribution was ridiculous in its own right.
a german apple pie filled with sour cream.
it was unlike anything i’ve had before.  and i’m not usually an apple pie lover, because the cooked fruit thing turns me off… but this was awesome.
so i made her give me the recipe to post for y’all.

Sour Cream Apple Pie (or just the German Apple if you prefer)

Filling:
3 TBSP flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/8 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3 c. thinly sliced apples (granny smiths are good)

Bake in pastry shell 20-30 mins at 400 degrees
Reduce temp to 350 for 30 minutes more

Prepare topping:
1/3-1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3-1/2 c. flour
1-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4-1/3 c. butter

make topping into a crumble add to pie and bake another 20 minutes.

20120903-123711.jpg

this pie was GOOD.
and such a perfect compliment to the s’mores pie which was super sweet yumminess… this one had a little bit of acid and the filling itself was relatively neutral.

20120903-123723.jpg

then, in her infinite wisdom, moonbeam paired the dessert pies with a fortified wine.
which, truly was the icing on the cake.  or the crust on the pie.  depending on your metaphors.

20120903-123731.jpg

pie party = great success!

Previous Older Entries