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I spent a few days in Vancouver over President’s Day weekend. My exposure to the area ended up being limited by a nasty virus, but I recovered in time to see a bit of the city. And it’s GORGEOUS. It reminds me of home (the San Francisco Bay Area) in a number of ways… the temperate climate, the bay, proximity to mountains, foodie culture with abundant amazing restaurants, friendly locals, great local shops, expensive everything (it’s a bit remote and hard to ship goods in), and the high demand and high price of housing since it’s bounded by one thing or another on all sides- so there’s no where to expand but so many people want to live here…

Image harvested from the interwebs.

Hubs has to visit every 6 months or so for work and I’m hoping to be able to accompany him next time too, and see more of the area. We stayed a couple days at the Four Seasons, which was all I’d hoped, but I didn’t get to take full advantage due to illness. Then we spent a couple days at a VRBO, which was not super-fantastic, but I’m sure there’s a range from amazing to disappointing and we just hit the wrong end of the scale this time.

More fruit of the webs, found here.

We visited the Vancouver Art Gallery, and wandered into a wonderful guided tour. I especially enjoyed the work of Emily Carr and Charles John Collings. My favorite private gallery was the Howe Street Gallery downtown. They had an eclectic mix of art, and the gentleman working there was so welcoming and lovely. He gave us interesting background about several of the artists, and escorted us to the brand new second floor space they’re just opening. 

The Vancouver Aquarium was really nice too. It’s a good size, and the Beluga whales and Sea Otters were my favorite new friends. No surprise there, Beluga smiles melt my knees and I’ve had a thing for Sea Otters since I was a kid… but then who hasn’t, right?


I did some shopping in the Gastown neighborhood, as well as downtown. For obvious reasons, when traveling I tend to avoid chain stores that are common where I live. Le Chateau is a local chain that reminds me of a cross between The Limited and Express, and I picked up a fantastic LBD with great detailing there. I also hit the consignment shops (one of my favorite things to do while out of town) and found an amazing Scottish Cashmere sweater in cream, with a beige and salmon argyle pattern. It’s a large mens and looks great with leggings and boots. It’s downy soft and feels like a big, warm, cozy, grandpa hug… score!


Gastown photo via the Vancouver Courier, here.

Next time I visit Vancouver (I can’t wait!), the plan is to visit Granville Island, Stanley Park, the Museum of Anthropology, Yaletown, back to Gastown, and whatever else I can fit in. There will definitely be another meal at L’Abattoir, too! It was hands down the best of many fine meals we had while in town.

Have you been to Vancouver? What was your favorite part?

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Paring it Down and Beach Life

I just got back from a trip to Florida for to help out a family member. While there, I ended up spending time in the home of a hoarder. We’re talking true pathology here. I’m still flashing back to the PILES of STUFF everywhere, with paths through them for moving around the house. It was overwhelming and unsettling to say the least. I wanted to go home and burn everything I own!

Before heading to the airport, I made time for beach therapy. There were very few people out as it’s off season. I fantasized about moving to a secluded beach, taking only a few bikinis and sarongs, maybe a couple sundresses, and my favorite flip-flops. I’d have a tiny clean home with minimal furniture and no tchotchkes or stacks of papers. Just clean surfaces and clear space filled with sunlight and a tropical breeze.


The beautiful beach at Gulf Breeze, just across the causeway from Pensacola.




Where is your fantasy home?

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Living a Life of Adventure

Adventure. It adds flavor to life. It makes us feel alive and vital.

I have always yearned for adventure. I know this is in no way unique to me. What child doesn’t want to sail the seven seas, win epic battles, and travel through time? But I never outgrew it. So, my junior year of college I attended University College Cork in Ireland for a junior year abroad. I took that opportunity to travel all over Europe by myself, then quit school and moved to Germany for a year after that, as I just wasn’t ready to return to the States. I wandered quite a bit for a few years, even after returning to the US. 

London. It's time to go back.

London. It’s time to go back.

In the past 10 years I’ve learned to dance Salsa, gone surfing, scuba diving, sky diving, swimming with dolphins, and snow boarding (that one was a bust). I traveled for work, taking contracts in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and San Francisco. I traveled through most of Central America by myself and climbed Half Dome in Yosemite. I took Krav Maga for 2 years and tested into the second level. I worked on a helicopter for 3 years. I embraced adventure whole heartedly.

Horseback riding in Costa Rica, 2005.

Costa Rica, 2005, Mt Arenal in the background.

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Honduras, 2006.


Buenos Aires, 2007.

Sparring in my Krav Maga class.

Sparring in my Krav Maga class, 2011.

Since getting married (dating itself was definitely an adventure!) I’ve been much more domestic and have loved every minute of it. But I’m feeling the itch and it’s time to get out there again.

Nicaragua, 2009. This monkey kept sticking his butt in my face, I could not stop laughing.

Nicaragua, 2009. This monkey kept sticking his butt in my face, got in my lap, was all over me. I could not stop laughing.

So here’s my list of proposed adventures for the next couple years. Some of this is pretty mundane, but it’s new to me:

  • learn to ride a motorcycle
  • take a hot air balloon ride
  • go horseback riding (haven’t been in YEARS!)
  • get my advanced scuba cert
  • get my lifesaving scuba cert
  • go skydiving again
  • go public with my blog (seems adventurous to me!)
  • budoir photo shoot (I’m VERY shy around cameras, but my hubs would love this)

And now that I’m thinking about all this, there are lots of quiet, less daring, new things I’d like to try.

  • take a sewing class
  • take a photography class
  • try out Zumba fitness classes
  • take Samba lessons

Embracing bold new activities, learning new things, finding creative outlets… it’s what life’s all about. I’m excited to have new challenges lined up! And maybe I’ll add some time in a hammock with a view like this to my list too…

Costa Rica, Pacific side.

Costa Rica, 2005.

What new thing (or old thing you miss) would you like to try?

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Fried Egg Sammich

Ever since a weekend getaway to San Diego over a year ago, I’ve been fixated on fried egg sandwiches. There was this fun little brunch spot in La Jolla, The Cottage, where I innocently ordered the sandwich to avoid starting my day with a sugar overload. If I could go back and change it, I’d do it all the same…

The Cottage, a restaurant in La Jolla, California.

The Cottage, a restaurant in La Jolla, California.

So the last year has seen many incarnations of my now favorite brunch. I feel I’ve got a good thing going, and it’s selfish to keep the yumminess to myself any longer.


  • bread – whole grain or sourdough, something with character
  • tomato – colorful heirlooms are always a good idea
  • onion – yellow, red, white… they all work
  • bacon – I made the move to turkey bacon, this sammie is still decadent with facon!
  • cheese – asiago, gruyere, whatever you love
  • avocado – because you deserve it
  • egg
  • salt and pepper – vegesal is almost always even tastier than salt
  • condiments
  • TAPATIO – not negotiable


I have no secrets to reveal here: fry the egg however you like. I like mine just the tiniest bit runny for the sandwich, and with too much vegesal and pepper. Grilled onions are the best, but I’m too lazy to fire up the grill, so I just fry them. Fry the bacon or turkey bacon too. Slice up the tomato and avocado. The biggest challenge I found with the fried egg sandwich was constructing it in such a way that prevented it from sliding apart.


The order of layers is key. Mine starts with the foundation slice of bread slathered with condiments, topped with onions, then egg. On that goes the cheese, followed by avocado, then bacon, and finally tomato, topped by the final piece of bread schmeared with more condiments. Clearly at regular intervals during construction, there must be sprinklings of salt/vegesal, pepper, and tapatio. Now, fry that sucker up and savor!

The ooey gooey fantastic finished product.

The ooey gooey fantastic finished product.

What’s your favorite breakfast? Or a favorite recipe you brought home from a trip?

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Hearst Castle

We decided to take our time on the way home from Santa Barbara. En route to our B&B up the coast the day after Christmas, we stopped at Hearst Castle. If you haven’t heard the story, William Randolph Hearst‘s father George bought the property in 1865 and added to it over the years. The Hearst family had a ranch there and camped on the property frequently. When William inherited he contracted the famous San Francisco architect Julia Morgan to “build a little something,” on the site he had loved from boyhood.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle… “a little something.”

That was in 1919 and the project was still not finished in 1947 when William left the estate for the last time due to ill health. The initial structures later became “guest houses” once the Casa Grande was completed. The smallest of the guest houses was 2,550 square feet. Casa Grande was 68,500 square feet. 

Detail from one of the guest houses

Detail from one of the guest houses.

Mr. Hearst entertained frequently and guests were numerous, including Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Harpo Marx, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, and Howard Hughes among many many others.


View from a guest house.

Besides a family home, and place for entertaining those he deemed interesting, Mr. Hearst also intended the property to be a museum displaying his famed collection of European and Mediterranean art. The collection includes architectural elements,  paintings, sculptures, textiles, and tapestries. The Hearst Corporation donated the estate to California in 1957. It is now a State Park and has received more than 30 million visitors since it opened to the public 1958. 

Inside the library of Casa Grande.

Inside the library of Casa Grande, the carved wooden doorways, carved stone above the fire place, cabinets, and window cases are all harvested from properties in Europe from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

There are several tours available. Since the property is still a working ranch for the Hearst Corporation, visitors enter the property at a visitor center and are bused up to the estate site. The guides are well informed, well organized, and courteous. My hubs chafed a bit at having to stay with the group and listen to the guide, but I really enjoyed it, and after the guided portion they turned us loose to explore the exterior areas including the acre upon acre of gardens and my favorite thing on the property… the indoor Roman Bath.

The Azure Blue Indoor Pool at Hearst Castle

A view inside the Roman Bath. You know you want to jump in!

We both thought it was worth the 25$ each ticket for the experience. The story of Mr. Hearst’s life is fascinating, the guides tell it well, the property is jaw dropping, and the views from the estate are heartbreaking.

View from the Castle to the north.

View from the Castle to the north.

Have you been to Hearst Castle? If so, what did you think?

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Santa Barbara — Shopping and Entertainment

Santa Barbara Continued… 


Santa Barbara

As I posted yesterday, you could easily spend a day meandering around downtown Santa Barbara. The shopping up and down State Street is fun. There are loads of local shops mixed in with the standard fare, there’s some nice moorish architecture in the area, playful statues, and there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars to take care of you when you reach your limit. Whiling away a day here is not a problem.

statue santa barbara - copyright - all rights reserved

Playful Statues

Santa Barbara Museum of Art was a pleasant distraction from shopping. I have an 1.5 – 2 hour tolerance for museums (I am who I am) so the small size of this museum was perfect for me, and they had a nice variety of quality collections. If you love to linger and spend hours you could stretch it out longer, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything when I left after 1.5 hours. It’s conveniently located on State Street. I especially enjoyed the sculptures in the American and European collections.


Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Sunday morning we checked out the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show on Cabrillo Blvd, by the beach. There was one photographer that stood out and I’m kicking myself for not getting her contact information… but that was about it. I’ve seen more impressive events in Miami, Kansas City, Oakland… I guess Santa Barbara is a much smaller city. Maybe there were fewer vendors for the holiday weekend too… 

Art Walk on Cabrillo Blvd.

Art Walk on Cabrillo Blvd.

Lots of things were closed over the holiday weekend, but we did get to visit the mission. Having been to several other missions in California, it is not the brightest star in the crown. It’s an interesting site but the exhibits are out of date and seem somehow uncared for and forgotten. At any rate, the views from the grounds are phenomenal, huge vistas of mountain and sea, and it’s in a nice neighborhood. If you’ve never been to one of the missions check it out, but make sure you see some others too.


Mission Santa Barbara

Have you been to Santa Barbara? What spots would you recommend to others?