Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rainy Days in Vancouver

Oh dear. What to do, what to do - when it's grey and chilly and drizzly?? How about a trip to "Butter Bakery".
Even the name evokes a soothing response. Off we go!

I can honestly say that there is not ONE thing I would not make from this cookbook. If you want simple, old-fashioned, just plain delicious bakery goodies, this is a collectable.

Decorations have just been installed, including a Butter Barbie tree topper. Gotta love this place! Even the wallpaper!

Oh my! What to choose, what to choose????

This looks like a pretty nice selection. Add a few lovely Lattes and you are as happy as Larry!

Cannot leave without bringing something home to share and vote on. Sharing done, votes in....all winners!

That would be a pumpkin whoopie pie, a Naniamo bar, a pecan slice and a brownie topped with handmade coconut marshmallows!

The Professor has given me a challenge to make every recipe in the book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Girl's Day Out Shopping "Expotition"

Saturday, "the girls" went to one of the biggest outlet malls I have ever seen. The parking alone was an adventure in patience and tenacity. Miles and Miles and Miles of stores and people and cars....I honestly think it's bigger than Disneyland!

Zoë had been to a birthday party in the morning and after yet another round of face painting and dancing with Elsa from Frozen, she was pretty revved up! She needed new boots and some clothing, but the Disney Store was looming large from our parking spot. She's very reasonable and was convinced to wait until the end to get a little something.

In retrospect, if she had have had a Disney thing to focus on, it may have kept her fantasy side better in check!
Yes, that IS Zoë posing IN the window. When it came to the $$$$ Ann Taylor mannequins, I drew the line!

After shoes, and clothes and a few things for Luca and Mummy shopping, it was off for a bite and a little rest at Ruby's Diner. This rest was mainly for the adults, and to possibly dilute the chocolate effect on the kid.

Like my jazzy new boots???

Christmas shopping complete. A bit early, not even Thanksgiving here yet, and all the halls and palm trees are decked!

Having avoided the marathon, the boys were well rested, happy to only have to endure the tales, and Luca was happy with his "Tinker Bell" Fairy. I got a package of Hanes underpants, and a new understanding of shopping with a four-and-a-half year old fueled by birthday goodies. Whew!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

All things moving

Yesterday we took the train to the California Science Center.

There is a magnificent fountain and rose garden in front of the museum. See the little family on the other side?

The architecture is the same as University of Southern California (USC) which is located right across the street.

THIS is what we came to see. It's totally AWESOME and very, very humbling.

Home again, home again. All aboard! Just like Thomas the train engine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Just a quick glimpse

Just a few photos that have taken an enormous amount of brain power to get from there to here. I am using the Professor's laptop, with which I am unfamiliar, trying to edit photos on my iPad, transfer them to the computer etc. etc. etc. Being a bear of very little brain, this is quite a task. I have been using my big camera for most stuff, and relying on The Prof, for his android and photographic acumen to get me through the playgrounds, and other tight spots. It's virtually impossible to get photos of an active 2 year old, unless he's asleep.

I think in this little series, "Tink" was seriously worn down by running in the big park and 'Papi' managed to get a few nice shots. So here he is folks! Enjoy the real boy because he is elusive and hard to capture at the best of times! Big sister on the other hand is headed for Hollywood, so stay tuned for more later.

Would it be really mean to mention that it is in the pleasant 70 degree range here?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Worth the wait

Yesterday was one of those days. My main objective was packing. Packing for a heat wave in California and a cold front in Vancouver. Not the easiest of tasks. By the time evening fell, I was a bit dejected that being Wednesday night there would not even be good t.v. to watch. The Professor piped up that I was taping the Country Music Awards...did I want to watch it? Good plan. I don't listen to "country" as much as I used to, much to the delight of the family, but I do enjoy a bit of good old remorse every once in a while :) There's not too much the cowboys can do to change their look, but YOWSA! The Women are changing it up these days. All in all a good show and thought I'd share my favourites.

Listen to the music. "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go". "On the road again". "California, here I come".

Friday, October 31, 2014

More Fodder for "The List"

As if I'm not already obsessed by my list of fabulous houses/estates/castles to see....last night we watched Masterpiece Mystery and the first episode of "Death Comes To Pemberley". I really must start making plans to rent a cottage somewhere and get going on my quest to see it all. The Downton Abbey trailers are showing. I think I am the only one on the planet that hasn't figured out how to access it from it's current run in Britain. Maybe my internet guru son-in-law can stream it for me when I'm in LA next week. There is something about savouring, and waiting for it to come too. We are such a generation of immediacy. I'll see.

In the meantime, I highly recommend "Death Comes to Pemberley". Check your local PBS stations, and pack your bags! :)

"Filming began in June 2013 on location in Yorkshire and Derbyshire and has been supported with investment from Screen Yorkshire. Chatsworth House in Derbyshire was used as the exterior of Pemberley, and rooms at Chatsworth and at Castle Howard and Harewood House, both in Yorkshire, were used for indoor scenes.[4] Areas of National Trust land including Hardcastle Crags, Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal estate and Treasurer's House were also used in filming. Beverley's Guildhall provided the location for a courtroom.[5] The gallows scenes were filmed on a purpose-built scaffold outside York Crown Court, with Wickham emerging from the gate to the old debtors's prison in the York Museum." Wikipedia

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Seeing that a mini series is about to air in December, I decided I would read this again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's missing?

If you read the article on my paranoid thinking regarding the "loss/theft/mysterious disappearance of the nutmeg grater, you'll love this one.

The other day I was rifling (old Ottawa Valley term for rooting or otherwise making a big mess) through a kitchen drawer in search of a specific cleaning cloth. For whatever reason, said cloth had fallen down behind the drawer and was unreachable by these short arms. The Professor's existence was once again validated due to his long reach. Enlisted (told to) get on the floor and reach as far as he could to extricate the cloth, he quickly changed up the process by simply removing the whole shebang from it's hinges. Not only was the cloth found and quickly dispatched, but come to light that virtually another drawer full of "objects" had seen a similar fate and were now languishing in the back of beyond! It's actually quite embarrassing to admit how much was really down there, but it did remind me of the old game we used to play at birthday parties circa 1950's. If you are of my "vintage" you too may have played this game.

All the objects on this tray were actually down the back of the cabinet! I had been ranting and cursing the loss of that cheese knife for ages, not to mention the egg separator. Remember this layout.

If you ever attended a party that looked a bit this this crew...yes very black and white, the obligatory cowboy hat worn by your little brother, the velvet couch and fetching curtains....all shiny shoes and party dresses...then you likely remember the game...."What's Missing???" At any given time, a tray was presented, not unlike the one pictured above with my mysteriously missing 'objects du jour'. When the tray appeared again, some things were missing.

Well??? What's missing? NO LOOKING BACK!

No prizes will be awarded. If indeed you attended one of these parties and ever played this game, the prize will be that you can still find the missing object. Consider the entire thing "vintage well done!".

Photo Credit:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The sweetest trip to the park

The other day I missed a "Face Time" call from LA. When I finally realized that my iPad was not ringing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", I called back the number on my screen. The first face I saw was little Luca. He was clearly outside,on the sidewalk, in the bicycle contraption that Michael uses to take the kids to the park. He was trying to tell me something and in the blink of an eye, there was another face appearing on screen. Luca had little choice but to relinquish his hold on Michael's phone. The call had come an hour earlier and Zoë told me that they had been calling to show me a new outfit they had made for Itty Bitty Baby, out of paper. Of course, Itty couldn't be on the bike ride to the park donning paper, so I was out of luck with seeing their latest creation, BUT, would I like to ride with them to the park??

The four AND A HALF year old then proceeds to put 'Mamère' safely in her bicycle basket and peddles onward while continuing our little "chat". There I was. IN the phone, on the screen, in the bottom of the bicycle basket looking at palm trees and sky while my granddaughter did the tour guide of Playa Vista. At one point she dismounted to show me a flower she thought I might like to see. There was one scary moment at a cross walk when we got stuck. Zoë cleverly yelled "help!" and a big hand grabbed our basket and pulled us out of the rut. Upon arriving at the park, my tour conductor dismounted, picked me up and turned the camera the other way so that I could have a good view of the playground. After several blurry, running moments we arrived at the tube-slide and Luca was allowed to slide me through the yellow tunnel ....very exciting. At this point, Daddy made a good decision to say goodbye and I was rather glad. It's exhausting to go to the park in the bike basket, not to mention a little bumpy.
Can't wait to do the real thing in a couple of weeks.

This photo came through when all the climbing and sliding and swinging and monkey-barring was finished.
And they rode off into the sunset.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Inspiration for travel

I have become so enthusiastic about Great Estates Scotland that I've decided I really need to see all of them. Sometime. Soon.

I said the same thing about the itinerary in the original film "The Trip". This was a rather charming tour of restaurants in northern England. Originally a British television sitcom, the series was edited into a movie. Funny men Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon do fabulous impersonations of Michael Caine, Sean Connery, and Sir Anthony Hopkins to name a few, whilst dining in pretty fabulous inns and eateries. The scenery and the food make me want to follow the route they took.

"The Inn at Whitewell"


"Holbeck Ghyll"

"Hipping Hall"

"The Yorke Arms"

"The Angel at Hetton"

There is one major problem in doing this tour. The driving. Wrong side of the road and usually stick shift transmission.

This is the Map

"The Guardian" on how to do "The Trip" CHEAPER

This is far more likely the tour route I'd be taking!

The follow-up movie is "The Trip ~ Italy". Will report on that one Ciao eh!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's no secret

We watch way too much t.v. I'm obsessed with Claire's knitted wardrobe on "Outlander". I tried listening to the audio book and thought it was a tad brutal, so never finished. Indeed the movie version is equally brutal. Those ancestors of mine were a right bunch! I'm sure the Camerons and the McDougalls were up to much the same as the Frasers. Seems like Scotland was a dire place.

The present motto of the Clan Cameron is "Aonaibh Ri Chéile," which roughly translated means "Unite" or "Let Us Unite." This motto is usually used in conjunction with the more accepted "Five Arrows" crest and is also presently used on the Armorial Bearings of Cameron of Lochiel.

As for the McDougalls. "Victory or Death". Not much has changed folks!

This was the first little capelet that I was in love with

This cowl is simply to die for, but I hope Claire doesn't die in this.

On the tall and "WEE" waisted Claire, this looks sublime.

Just perfect for prancing around the forest with the grandchildren.

I know, I know this is some sort of FUR, but honestly, if you had to live in these conditions in Scotland in 1700, "you'd not be a 'wearied' by what was round yer neck"! This can be replicated in Faux. Those cabled wrist warmers.

This is Jaimie Fraser. The Professor is descended from the Frasers. Oh my.

And now the perfect musical segue to "George Gently" where Miss Ebony Buckle sings a little ditty with a Celtic accent.

Ebony Buckle is a talented musical theatre actress. She has a bachelor degree in Music and Opera Singing from the University of Queensland in Australia and a postgraduate diploma in Musical Theatre from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Her musical stage performances include Les Misérables, The Marriage of Figaro and the opera A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In case you are unable to watch "Great Estates Scotland" on you local PBS station, this is a link to the wonderful work that Prince Charles has and is doing to bring back one of the most depressed areas of the British Isles.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nutmeg Grater Caper

It all started with a need to make "Pumpkin Pie Spice". I know, you CAN purchase it ready made in a bottle, but I wanted to make my own. Before I lose my train of thought, this is the recipe:

4 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
4 tsp. Ground Ginger
3 tsp. Ground Allspice

Makes 8 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix.

The nutmeg grater was nowhere to be found. My first line of reasoning was that The Professor had thrown it out. He deems most of my highly prized culinary gadgets as drawer space wasters. I figured he probably had no idea what a nutmeg grater was, having never had the joy of using one, and had therefore uncluttered the spice drawer. End of. Who, other than the pastry chef in the family, would ever even need to use a nutmeg grater? Couldn't be her...could it? After a root through said drawer, it occurred to me that it might possibly have escaped the back of the drawer and fallen down into the cabinet below. Lo and behold! Ahem. Everyone, off the hook and on with the grating :)

Why, say you, was I so bent on this seasonal mixture?

Pumpkin Obsessed.

It, of course, all started with Carol. Her post reminded me that I had purchased a donut pan whilst in Vancouver. One for me and one for my daughter-in-law the pastry chef. I once made an attempt with an Ina Garten recipe, with half hearted results, but just knew that Carol's version would be perfectly pumpkiny. I was not wrong. Carol, in turn had used this link for her recipe, so this goes waaaaay back folks.

The recipe for the pumpkin donuts uses 3/4 of a cup of pumpkin. What am I going to do with the rest of the rather large can I opened??

As luck would have it, a recent recipe surfaced in the Toronto Star and I was off. "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares". Submitted for the taste Canada awards by Rosie Daykin, from the 'Butter Baked Goods & Café' in Vancouver!

"Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

Bakery owner Rosie Daykin says this seasonal bar (which she calls a blondie) comes to Butter Baked Goods & Café in Vancouver every October and leaves in January. Adapted from Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes from a Little Neighborhood Bakery.

2-1/2 cups (675 mL) all-purpose flour

2 tbsp (30 mL) pumpkin pie spice

1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt

1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1-3/4 cup (435 mL) granulated sugar

1 large egg

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) canned pure pumpkin purée

2 tbsp (30 mL) pure vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) dark chocolate chips

In mixing bowl using fine-mesh sieve, sift together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl using electric mixer, beat butter on medium 1 minute. Add sugar. Beat 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat until fully combined, scraping down sides of bowl several times. In several batches on low speed, add flour mixture. Beat until fully combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter into 9- by 13-inch (23- by 33-cm) parchment-lined baking dish, smoothing top.

Bake in centre of preheated 350 F (180 C) oven until tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan. Run a small knife along two edges of pan that do not have parchment handles. Carefully remove slab from pan. Using large knife, cut into 24 pieces or as desired.

Blondies will keep in airtight container up to 5 days or in freezer up to 3 weeks.

Makes 24 pieces.

Now here lies the conundrum. I have used but 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of 'Pumpkin Pie Spice' mix in my two efforts and still have one cup remaining pumpkin puree.

Recipe and Photo Credit the Toronto Star

Monday, October 6, 2014

This is so possible

I can totally see this scenario playing out in a certain living room in LA. After all, the "Glitter Pony Dance Off" is SO worth saving. DO NOT DELETE!!! Or else...suffer the wrath.