Monday, June 20, 2016

Cottage Life

What a great kick off to summer we had this weekend! Beautiful weather, a wonderful setting, fabulous food and excellent company ..... it don't get no better! (excuse my grammar Ray)

My friend Diane invited a group of us to her sister's cottage for the night. (Her sister and her husband are international teachers who live in Moscow but spend their summers in Canada. Since they had not yet arrived, the cottage was free.) It was a little "get together" for a group of us who were working in China a few years ago.

It was great to have a few laughs, soak up the sun and enjoy a little taste of cottage life!

You can learn a lot at a cottage ..... like observing tree foliage .... while sipping a "cool one"!

You can relax and cool off with a refreshing swim. (A little too cool for the rest of us, but Ray and Cathy are true cottagers!)

You can have intellectual discussions ...... with food and wine of course!

You can have your friend row you around the lake while you sip a glass of wine!

Paul & Nilah

You can have more wine and some great food for supper, like ribs, Greek salad and "cooler corn". Diane cooked the corn in a cooler by pouring a kettle of hot water over it and letting it sit in a cooler for a few minutes with a tight fitting lid. Too easy! (check out Pintrest!)

You can catch a fish off the dock .... not for supper though, catch and release only!

You can soak up the evening sun and listen to the bullfrogs (as well as someone's dog)

You can enjoy extra company from a few neighbors!

Diane in her new boat!
Thanks Diane for a great time!

Monday, May 30, 2016

In Our Own Back Yards

I am very lucky to live in a community where there is easy access to walking trails (almost) in my own back yard! My favorite one literally winds its way through wooded areas concealed within populated subdivisions. Much of the trail, although bordering on many backyards, seems remarkably secluded.

The trail itself gives me a good one hour walk (30 minutes up, and 30 back), if I start at the beginning which originates at the QPlex (our local recreation center). Sometimes I drive to the "Q" and start there, and sometimes I walk from my house which adds 40 minutes on to my overall hike. I know I leave a "carbon footprint" by driving there, but I really prefer spending more time on the nature trails as opposed to walking on busy roads. There are other nice trails in the area that I can easily "hook" on to if I want to increase my walking time.

The fresh scent of the woods, sound of babbling brooks and lots of "flora and fauna" to look at makes for a very pleasant walking experience. When its windy and cold, the trail is sheltered and when its blistering hot the shade is great. Even in winter it does not disappoint! ..... oh and of course you are most definitely guaranteed a deer sighting on every trip!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Homemade Ricotta

A while ago I was at a friend's house for dinner and she served an appetizer of Ricotta cheese with red pepper jelly, delicious of course. However I was surprised to learn that she had made the cheese herself! I never considered making cheese? She explained how simple it was to make and listed what was needed ..... milk, cream, salt, vinegar or lemon juice and cheese cloth. Huh! Cheesecloth? I always knew what "cheesecloth" was - I just never thought that it was actually used for making cheese!
Anyway, several months later I finally got up the gumption to try it ..... and guess what? It actually turned out!

Ricotta Cheese Recipe (from The

As you can see, the cheese is somewhat "curdy" as it is left to drain in the cheesecloth and colander. I then pressed it in a round dish with a flat bottom. The cheese is quite bland but great when paired with something with a little zip (like red pepper jelly). I found a hot dip recipe that included garlic, lemon and chives. It was very good but a bit crumbly. There are lots of recipes for ricotta cheese in dips, manicotti, lasagne, cheese cakes etc. All you have to do is check Google or You Tube!
Hmmmm .... now that I am a master cheese maker (thanks to You Tube) what new skill will I try next? bee keeping? furniture making? heart surgery?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Compostela

On my flight home I checked my backpack and chose to travel light with just a small (fold into a pocket type) pack. In it I carried a few personal items for the trip and my "Compostela", or certificate of my accomplishment in completing the requirements of the Camino de Santiago. After all that waking I wasn't going to risk the possibility of it getting lost!
In order to receive this certificate, pilgrims have to complete a minimum of 100kms. I walked 177kms! My certificate of distance says 260kms because I started at Porto, but due to time, weather etc. we had to take a few buses or taxis occasionally. Anyway, I am very pleased to have this document as well as my "credencial" or passport with all the stamps that I collected along the way. A great souvenir!


Monday, May 16, 2016

Six Hour Layover

Lisbon, Porto, Santiago and the Camino are all memories and photos now, and we are "enjoying" a six hour layover in Munich. The airport is a shopper's dream and foodies are not hard done by either .... that is if you have extra Euros in your pocket or room left on your Visa card!

The last photo is of the nice selection of free amenities that Lufthansa offers it's customers! Very civilized!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Last Day in Lisbon

Santiago was great, even in the rain! However, all good things must come to an end and for us that meant getting back to Lisbon to catch our flights home. We took a bus that left Santiago at 12:00 and arrived in Lisbon at 8:45 PM. We dumped our packs at our hotel and had a late meal at an Indian restaurant.
The next day was beautiful and sunny (of course, we're not walking!). We put in the afternoon doing something completely uncamino like ... shopping! Since we ditched our packs we figured we had room for a few items. Diane and Jill still have a few more days so they were looking for a few summer duds.
Just so you know .... Sunday shopping is alive and well in Lisbon!
Tonight we are off to airport ... not looking forward to the long flight home.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Made It!

I made it to Santiago de Compostela! After walking an average of 18km a day we finally arrived.
The area around the Cathedral was full of people, tourists, pilgrim's, school groups! After attending Mass we joined the huge line up of pilgrim's getting their official credential for completing the Camino. After an hour wait we got a beautiful certificate with our name on it and a tube to carry it in. We headed for the nearest restaurant/ bar to have lunch and drinks to celebrate.
The weather was wet and cold but our spirits were high as we settled into our hotel and got ready to attend the evening mass with the famous Botafumeiro, a huge incense burning container that is swung at the end of the service. - Very impressive! (Will post a video later)
Of course, another dinner and drinks was in order ... a day of celebration for sure!