Paris!

 

I love Paris!  It’s one of the best “walking” cities ever (second only to Rome, I think!)…..and one of the few that I can get around pretty good without a map!

We arrived at Gare de Lyon just after noon.  Grabbed a taxi and headed to our apartment.

The apartment we rented on Rue St Denis, on the border between the 3rd and 4th arrondissement, was through Airbnb.  It was on the 5th/6th floor with NO ELEVATOR!!  What were we thinking???

We left one suitcase at the bottom while we both carried the other up and up and up….with stops on the second floor and 4th floor landings!!  It had a nice-ish little balcony that overlooked the street and with pretty good views of the Paris rooftops and the Pompidou Centre.  Small and compact but had two bedrooms and all that we needed……and more because Olivier, and his little family,  lived in the apartment!!  We had guessed this from the pics on the website so were prepared.  I have stayed in a couple of other places similar where the owner just simply moves out (somewhere???) while the apartment is being rented by tourists.  Not my fav type of vacation rental because I generally find the place cluttered, crowded and just weird with someone elses “stuff” in closets, the fridge, cupboards etc.  However, the price was right and so was the location so we booked it.  It was clean-ish but again because of “stuff” all over, including a kiddy pool still filled with water on the balcony, it’s sometimes hard to tell what is old versus what needs a good scrubbing….that said, we had clean sheets and a clean bathroom, which were the main things…..and a coffee maker!!

The location,  just a few blocks up from Rue de Rivoli and one or two blocks from Les Halles shopping centre, and close to two metro stations,  was handy for going off in different directions each day to explore.  Rue St. Denis is a busy street….day and all hours of the night.  That is not a bad thing except at 3AM!!  There were kebab shops below us open 24hrs!

We only used the metro a couple of times (Pere Lachaise and Montmartre) but otherwise walked and walked….with café and/or wine stops along the way.  For the metro we bought a book of 10 tickets, which we shared, and worked out to be the perfect number of tickets we needed.

One of our first stops was to Dehillerin  https://www.edehillerin.fr/en/

I didn’t buy anything this time because I just did not have any room to carry it home!!  Brenda ordered some type of linen cloth for making bread.  If anyone loves to cook and loves pots, pans, spatulas, whisks etc. this is the place to visit!

I won’t go into great detail of the places we visited but suffice to say we covered a heck of a lot of Paris in 5 days!!  A second visit to Pere Lachaise cemetery for me…..and I think I’d even go again!!  I’m sure Brenda though I was crazy when I said we should pack a picnic and have lunch there…..we did and she thoroughly enjoyed it!  That was one of the highlights.

IMG_2521

Pere Lachaise….incredibly beautiful and peaceful.

 

One of the tombs that I really wanted to see was that of Oscar Wilde.  When I was there a number of years ago, it was covered with red lipstick kisses….and because it was Gay Pride week while we were there I thought for sure it would be red kiss overload…..but was not to be!  They had cleaned it up and put a plexi-glass barrier around it…..I do understand but it was rather disappointing 😦

27336962_10157099209174167_7641722024100184575_n

before….

 

IMG_2524

……after

 

Museums, due to our limited time, were not a high priority.  Brenda had seen Mona so we skipped the Louvre.  She hadn’t been to the Musee d’Orsay, which is always worth a visit (my 4th!!), so off we went.  They had a ticket special…..the d’Orsay and the Rodin for the price of one so that’s what we got.  The Rodin is about a 15 or 20 minute walk from there.  We also went to the Pantheon.  We walked down Champ De Mar to the Eiffel tower but didn’t go up or for that matter even stand under it due to all the tight security in that area now….too bad but we still got some great pictures.

One day, walking along the quay, we heard a commotion behind us.  Turning around we saw a cyclist that had somehow fallen off his bike and was clinging to the edge with both hands and still managing to hang on to his bike with his foot around the handlebar!!  We ran back to help……he wanted us to grab his backpack, which he had somehow gotten off with one hand.  Luckily a couple came along and assisted with the rescue….the guy was able to lift his bike, with his foot, up far enough for the man to grab  and then pull himself back up onto the quay.  The quay, eventhough there was no railing or barrier, was pretty wide along there so how he managed to get himself into that dilemma, I have no idea!!  Thank goodness it all turned out OK.

Montmartre….so, so touristy and crowded now…..unless you head away from Sacre Coeur and Place due Tertre.  We did have lunch at one of the little cafés facing all the artists in Place du Tertre, which was not terribly good and overpriced.  After lunch we wandered away from there…..it’s quite lovely and there are much better restaurants with better prices!!  But be warned there are no ATMS….you would have to go back down the funicular to find one.

When we arrived in Paris, unbeknown to us, it was the last couple of days of Gay Pride week!!  Lots of parades day and night, music….and great people watching.  Also tons of security everywhere.  The best part was that many of the streets were shut down to traffic through the day and early evening, which was nice.

Paris was also bidding on the 2024(?) summer Olympics so some sort of promo thing going on with lots of mini Olympic venues set up along the left bank of the Seine….high jump, long jump, hurdles, marathons etc.

IMG_2475

Mini-Olympic venues across the river.  Pont Alexandre was closed to traffic for a couple days.

 

This also meant a couple of the bridges were closed to traffic. For pedestrians it was necessary to go through security check points before crossing the bridges.  All very interesting and totally understandable because of what has happened there.  That said, it was all done rather low key so not noticeable until you came upon one.  The rest of the city was pretty much as it was the last time (2012) with maybe a bit more of a police and military presence at key areas of the city.

Shopping….some but not much, mostly because of the space available in our luggage.  We did visit Galleries Lafayette, BHV http://www.bhv.fr/en/magasins/bhv-paris/ and lots of wonderful little clothing shops selling some of the most exquisite scarves…..one day I will get that Hermes!!

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything it’s still worth a visit to Galleries Lafayette….the entire basement floor is all shoes!!

It’s also fun to visit the flower and bird market  (Marché aux oiseaux) on Ile de la Cite (between Notre Dame and St Chapelle).

IMG_2489

Food…..lots of it, some good, some not so good.  After a couple days of typical French cafes we tried Thai and Japanese and an English style pub….all very good.

The weather was perfect until the last day….rain, thunder, lightening etc. but that didn’t stop us, it just meant more coffee/wine breaks.

IMG_2544

Lucky we had decided to sit inside for our Japanese lunch….!!!

 

I’ve been to Paris a few times now…..the first trip was just Ken and I.  We covered an incredible amount of the city on foot.  We visited all the major museums and sites, found some wonderful little cafes and thoroughly enjoyed our few days there.  The other times I’ve gone it’s been with people who hadn’t been there, or were there 20 – 30 years ago.  I don’t know why but I feel like I have to be the “tour guide” and as a result end up going to the same places over and over again and again.  I am museum-ed out in Paris!!

There are some things though that you just have to do no matter how many times you’ve been there….a walk along the river looking at the bouquinistes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouquinistes ….stop for a glass of wine at one of the cafes along the Seine and watch Notre Dome light up at sunset…..walk through the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens.  But the best thing really is to just wander…..we did this our last day this time, rain and all, it was one of my favorite days.  So many little alleys and narrow streets that open onto a beautiful little square with cafes and unique shops….and a great, off the beaten tourist path,  little English pub for lunch!

Less than a month until my trip to India!

L.

 

Advertisements

Food and Wine in Burgundy

You cannot go wrong in Burgundy for food and wine!!  We did not have one bad meal anywhere along the route, including breakfasts!

The hotels we stayed in all had pretty good breakfasts….European style continental ones.  Breads, various types of spreads (confit) and cheeses, usually an assortment of cold deli type meats, fruit, yogurt, cereal (some hot too), hard/soft boiled eggs that you did yourself in those neat little machines.  A good way to start the day.

Lunch was usually a salad, something quick that we could gobble down and get back on the road/trail before the heat got to be too much.

Jambon Persille and a salad…..another day salad nicoise….yummy!

 

It was a little embarrassing stopping at nice places like this…..with our lovely padded biking pants and really bad hair (from the helmets!!) .

Dinners were all really good.  A couple places we stayed were out in the middle of nowhere ,which meant eating at the hotel…..certainly not the cheapest option but the two dinners we had were so good…..the food, the service, the ambiance etc.   I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten in a Michelin star restaurant but I do think these meals were close to what and how that would be.

We came across, in Prisse, the French version of a “strip mall”…..if only ours were like this!!  No McD’s or Burger Kings here!!  Everything you could possibly want or need.  Amazing cheeses, a bakery with incredible breads, pastries and pre-made baguettes, a wine store with all local wines.  Everything is presented so beautifully!We had a great little lunch at a table outside after wandering through all the shops….

 

Wine…..what can I say???  Amazing wines, all for one fifth (or less!!) than what a bottle would cost at home….even in restaurants.  Besides the famous burgundy wine (pinot noir for red and chardonnay for the white) we had Aligote,  https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/aligote-burgundys-other-white-wine/    which we found very drinkable….a nice “patio wine” (good with or without food on a nice warm summer afternoon!).    And the burgundy sparkling wine, cremant.   https://www.burgundytoday.com/gourmet-traveller/cremant-de-bourgogne.htm.

IMG_2371

Our route was from Beaune (Cote de Beaune area) to Macon (Maconnais).  We stopped for lunch or a drink in a few of the towns on our route….all lovely!  If it hadn’t of been so hot, we probably would have headed to a few more of the places a kilometer or two off the trails….

Burgundy Wine Map by Wine Folly

The hotels we stayed in were all really quite lovely….two that sort of stick out though are:

http://www.auberge-du-camp-romain.com/uk/home.html  This was in the middle of nowhere…..up a huge steep hill to end our second day of biking!  It is pretty much a self contained resort where people go to get away from the cities….lots of hiking and biking and of course vineyards to visit.  It has everything you need (except air conditioning in the old building…where we were!!).  We arrived fairly early in the afternoon and after cleaning up we immediately hit the bar!  Instead of wine we had a good old Canadian favorite to quench our thirst….the lady in the bar knew about it from other Canadians!

IMG_2368

Beer and tomato juice….known as a Calgary Redeye!

 

Then, with some energy restored, we had a good look around the place….the spa, the pool, the grounds and the little church in the hamlet.  The rest of the afternoon was spent just relaxing on the beautiful outdoor patio with a nice bottle of burgundy.

This place was where we had one of our best dinners…..I forgot to take pictures of the main course and the dessert/cheese plates.  The other thing that we had here, and just about everywhere else, to start our meal was an “amuse bouche” or an “amusette”.  Usually it was a small taste (think large shot glass size) of a cold soup….here it was a celery and pea puree with cream…..sounds odd but was incredibly delicious!

Our appetizers…..goat cheese wrapped in marinated thinly sliced beets and mussels in cream….

 

The other “in the middle of nowhere” place was http://www.ledracy.com/en/  Lunch and dinner here!  Fantastic service and food, beautiful pool and grounds with many little places to sit or wander around….. and a great outdoor bar area.  Thank goodness the cost of the hotel was included in our package because our bill at the end of this stay was almost $200 each!!  Not cheap but so, so nice to splurge a bit after a hot day of cycling.  After lunch we hit the pool and bar with our books for a great relaxing afternoon.

Dinner appetizers…..crab cakes with smoked salmon and a “stew” of frogs legs and escargot

Dinner fish (bass if I remember correctly) and duck…

And last but not least…..the cheese plates (hardest part was deciding which 4 cheeses from a trolley of about 50!!) and dessert.  We picked 4 different ones each then shared!

 

We started this trip in Beaune, https://www.beaune-tourism.com/  which is lovely place with lots of history (and good wine!).  I’d been thru Beaune years ago but didn’t really spend a lot of time there to explore…this time I had a day and half so took in as much as we could.

Lunch in Beaune after our first half day of cydling was a little hole in the wall bistro down the street….no menus here!  The plat du jour is what you get…..a salad, a beef burgundy type stew and dessert!  Absolutely delicious….so famished forgot to take a picture!

Our tour ended in Macon http://macon-france.com/   ….definitely a place to go back to.  It’s on the Saone river and has an great waterfront area with tons of restaurants, bars, various outdoor entertainment venues and a wonderful old historic centre.  A great dinner to celebrate our accomplishment of biking thru Burgundy!

A burgundy cremant and my fav dinner, moules et frites to finish off the trip!

My only advice for Macon is to not expect to get a taxi on a weekend!  Headed down to the lobby early Saturday morning to order our taxi to the TGV station….only to be told there are no taxis on the weekends!!  Ack!!!  The gal did manage to round a driver up for us, which was a good thing as the station is not within walking distance and it was already too late to try to catch the bus!!

It was on to Paris for our last week…..

L.

Biking in Burgundy!

 

This might have to be two separate posts…..just so much to share and so many pictures that I could post.

IMG_2295

Our quaint little hotel in Beaune to start! Two nights, which also gave us time to explore Beaune one afternoon.

 

All the “stuff” we had in our package.  All the info on the Beaune – Macon wine route, maps with the daily routes and directions (which left a bit to ones imagination sometimes!!) to follow etc. The one that shows the ups and downs of the routes made me drink!!

 

It was really quite a lot of fun….overall a very good experience and one I wouldn’t mind doing again with a few adjustments to the itinerary (less hills, shorter daily routes for more time to spend tasting along the routes).  A couple things came up that we weren’t prepared for:  1. the hilliness of the route and 2. the weather.

This was a “Level 1” bike trip.  http://burgundybiketour.com/multi-days-bike-tours/self-guided-6-days-bike-wine-tour-beaune-to-macon/  No where on this site does it show the varying degrees of the terrain you’ll be biking on….there were more hills than we expected.  Some places it was a gradual uphill for quite a distance, which we could deal with, other places it was pretty steep and we had to walk our bikes up the hill, even using all the gears it was virtually impossible to ride up.  Brenda was in much better shape than me and faired better on the hills but even she struggled (the heat didn’t help!).  There was also downhills, of course, which I thoroughly enjoyed!!  One full day, the longest ride day, was along the canals the entire route, so nice and flat!  I had gone bike riding for a few months ahead of our trip as well as going to the gym to get my legs strengthened, and I’m sure it helped, however I would not call this tour a “casual bike ride thru vineyards”…..so not something I would recommend for someone that only bikes once or twice a year.

Some of beautiful Burgundy!

 

All that said we also had to deal with a heat wave!  Daytime temps were well up into the mid-high 30’sC (100F)…..the worst June heat they said in 10 years!!   Because of that and the limited amount of shade on the route, we set out early each morning with the goal of getting to our next hotel by lunch time or before it got unbearable in the heat.  As a result it was not the leisurely ride we’d planned on so we didn’t stop at many of the places that we’d have liked for wine tastings and nice two hour lunches.   We left our hotels each morning with 6 or 8 frozen bottles of water, all of which were gone in no time….it was pretty brutal in that heat.  Often we’d ride for miles before seeing anyone else out and about on the bike routes….I wonder why???

France has an incredible network of bike routes along canals, greenways, thru vineyards, small towns and villages and beautiful scenery….the best part of which there is no regular road traffic.  These trails are bike and pedestrian only, which makes them very safe, even for a novice biker.  We did come across various types of farm/vineyard vehicles/machines but had no issues with them.

More along the route….trees with balls of mistletoe and the Bois Clair tunnel (1.6KM or .99M) 

I really did get to push myself to the limit on this trip (a good thing….I think!)  I was more than ready to throw the towel in one day but Brenda convinced me to keep going….that taxi in the town looked pretty damn tempting when the temps had hit 37 at 10AM!  Luckily I did persevere because the rest of that day turned out to be one of the best rides we had.  After the very hot and hilly start it leveled out and carried on along a canal, on the shady side, for the rest of that leg.

And of course there was food!!  And wine….lots of both and all excellent.  I tried to remember to take pictures of the food…..the presentation of everything, even the simple croissant at a café, is done so well.   That will be my next post!

L.

Back To Blogging

I’ve taken a bit of time away because I wasn’t sure if I really had anything to blog about anymore…..I think I’ve kind of arrived at that “new normal”.  It’s been almost 4 years since Ken passed away and my life seems to have fallen into a routine of sorts.

It’s not that I don’t grieve anymore, because I do….I grieve for him, for how our life was supposed to be, companionship, grandchildren that won’t know him….lots of things but none of these things are as gut wrenching as they used to be.  You never forget but you do move on and that grief doesn’t overwhelm you anymore.  That hole in your heart slowly fills with memories…..good ones.

So is it still “The Journey After”?  Or is it a new journey?  I don’t know and truthfully I’m not sure that I could set up a new blog so I’ve decided to just continue on with this one.  I don’t have anything terribly exciting to post about on a daily basis so maybe once a week or so.  I still have holiday posts to finish…..that bike trip in Burgundy for example….and I will get that done, soon.

My interests these days are traveling, of course, food and cooking and books.  That is what I plan on posting about the most.  I still have the trials and tribulations of home repairs around here…..ie a kitchen faucet that seems to have a swivel life of it’s own so my plumbing skills will once again be tested (thank god for youtube DIY videos!!) and other mundane domestic type duties (laundry!!)…..not overly interesting unless I manage to mess something up and can share a lesson learned from it.

So starting tomorrow, or the next day, I’ll get back into blogging.  I’ve been in prep mode for the upcoming trip to India….getting the visa has been a “fun” experience which I could share….and will after I finish last years trip.

L.

 

 

Excellent Cornbread!

It turned out really good!  Much more successful than my gluten-free/non-dairy butter tart squares!

IMG_2607

It was a little more cakier, or denser, and drier than the regular cornbread but a lot of the cornbread I’ve had is the same texture.  I also reduced the butter a bit because it just seemed like a lot (4tbsp instead of 6)  They also didn’t tell you where to add the honey, so I added it to the wet ingredients.  I would definitely make this again and even give it a try using almond milk (for my gluten-free, non-dairy DIL).

That and the cabbage roll soup made for a great dinner last night.  And the wine……OMG, this is the best Riesling I think I’ve ever had.  I picked up this bottle on our trip up to Naramata last month….I liked it then but often you kind of get caught up in the moment when doing these wine tastings…..everything tastes good…..but I will actually go in search of this wine!  It’s not available in our local government liquor stores but I’ve managed to track down a couple of private, specialty stores that I can get it in.  I’ll have to drive into Vancouver but it will be worth it.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before!  The winery will gladly ship some to you…..but you have to order by the case.  It’s a minimum of 2 cases for them to pay the shipping.  I like it but not sure I like it THAT much….that would be a lot of wine to go through….although….

IMG_2609

IMG_2608

This wine is fantastic!  It went really well with the cornbread…that little bit of sweetness.

Speaking of Naramata….it’s in the Okanagan Valley which is where some pretty darn good wines are made.  It’s our version of Napa Valley I guess….at half the price!  It’s an absolutely beautiful area in the summer and fall.  There are tons of wineries for tours and tastings…..based on my experiences up there visiting 5 a day is about the max…..yes, it is possible to get “wined out”.  You start to lose track after a the first couple of tastings….I try to remember to grab one of the business cards and make a note of the wine I buy or taste and like or don’t like.  Some of the wineries also make cheese….one especially has really good cheeses (Upper Bench).  If you head up there for 3 or 4 days you can cover off at least 2 of the different areas.  The Naramata Bench, which is where I’ve stayed the last two times, the Golden Mile, which is a bit south and the area across the lake which is Summerland, Peachland and West Kelowna are easy to do in a day.   But there are so many more it could keep you busy for days and days!!  https://explore.winebc.com/view-region/?id=5  And on top of the wine, the area is pretty beautiful too.  It’s also where most of our local fruit is grown, so depending on when you go, you could come home with not only cases of wine but peaches, cherries, pears and apples of every kind.   Wine tasting (and buying) is not the only thing to do up there….in summer there are lots of lakes for fun and fishing and in winter, some of the best sky slopes in BC…also lots of restaurants…even at a few of the wineries.  Just a great place to visit year round (in winter it depends on the roads though….).

 

A few pics from that girls trip….the house was huge and gorgeous!  And the views were spectacular.

The house…..

Some quirky, fun stuff at many of the wineries…

And of course, grapes galore!

Tonight I’m off to dinner with the India trip girls….Brenda, Cathy and my daughter.  We’re of course going out for Indian food!  I’ve been to this restaurant before and it was really good…..looking forward to it.  Lots of yakking, planning etc…..just a fun evening.

L.

Bears!

My first sighting of the year.  I know they’ve been around but I hadn’t seen one until last night.  And not only one but two!!  A mama and a baby.  It was pretty cute watching them work their way around the cul de sac, starting at my house.  They toppled green bins, which I’m hoping were either empty (mine) or locked so they couldn’t get into the food waste, as they went along.

Gym day today….that’s my plan.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday….at least 3 times a week.  My legs are still sore from my “orientation” on Monday so not sure just how many squats I’m going to be able to get in without not being able to get back up!!  The good news with my orientation was that I’m not in as bad shape as I thought!!  Still not great but I was pretty sure all the measurements they do were going to be in the “red” zone.  Luckily all, except the hydration one, were in the yellow….so I’m your average sort of unfit person!  I can easily deal with the hydration….I will consciously now drink more water….at least for a while!

It was kind of a neat thing they use to measure all this stuff……how accurate it is, I have no idea.  You take your shoes and socks off an stand on this thing that looks like a scale.  Somehow it can figure out how much fat you have versus muscle, whether or not you are hydrated enough, bone mass, BMI etc….and your weight, of course.  This is a freebie that they offer as often as you want to have it checked.  In theory within the next month or so all my measurements will move to the lower “yellow” zone or hopefully into the “green zone.  Regardless of the mid yellow ratings the summary comes out that I’m “overfat”!!!

They also offer nutrition/dietary consultations….for a fee.  They seem to be pretty good and certainly didn’t push too hard but their goal is to get you hooked up with a personal trainer for a about $99, which I think was good for 4 sessions or something….I told him I just wasn’t into it that much, which he accepted no problem.  I just need to do something to keep me in reasonably good shape for my age…..which is  a great excuse to use when something is too hard, heavy, active etc. that you don’t want to do!!

Yesterday Bev and I made our cabbage roll soup.  It was pretty good….missing something but just not sure what……I think bacon!! (so much for heart health!!).  We had a nice big pot of it,  a little thicker than we’d hoped but can easily be thinned down with a bit more tomato sauce or even water….lots of flavor.  Tonight that is what dinner will be….and gluten free cornbread.  A recipe I’m going to try out using up some of the gluten free flour that I’d bought a few months ago.  https://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/gluten-free-cornbread/  It’s not dairy free, so no good for my DIL….but will maybe give that recipe a shot if this one works out.

IMG_2605

Managed to get 4 of these containers out of our pot of soup.  There is easily enough for 2 meals in each one.  One of mine will be for tonight and the other will go into my WELL ORGANIZED FREEZER later today.

 

I have to admit that the days I go to the gym I have a lot more energy…..assuming I can still move when I get home today, we’ll see if that holds true this afternoon!  I have my freezer to finish and a number of other things on my lists.  Winter is such a blah time for me.  It’s not really winter yet but if it’s not hot and sunny, it’s winter to me!  The last couple of days were really quite pleasant with lots of sun…I could handle that all “winter” but I’ve lived here long enough to know that won’t be the case so I just have to suck it up and make the best of those blah days….wine goes good with those days 🙂

L.

The Weather…..Soup Days!

A good bowl of hot soup is one of the best comfort foods at this time of year.

Rain, hail, thunder, lightening and wind……

 

I like making soup….it’s easy and always good to have a stash of it in the freezer for one of those days that you need something warm and simple for dinner.  Bev and I have talked about getting together and making a big pot to divvy up…..the plan is to do it soon, maybe one day next week.

I certainly won’t be making any green pea soup….I have enough of that to last the winter I think.  I still have a container or two of chicken/turkey noodle and one of butternut squash.  I’ve made “cabbage roll soup” before and it was really good and it’s really easy to make…..Bev’s likes it too so that’s what we’re going to do.  I think it’s a recipe that she got years ago from a restaurant that she used to go to for lunch when she was still working.  More stuff to go in my freezer….which will be all organized by then (hahahaha).

IMG_2603

Having small containers of soup on hand is a good thing for one person.  Those one person meals still challenge me…..unless I’m really craving something it just seems like too much work to prepare the whole nine yards of a meal for one person.  Having my daughter here definitely makes a difference.

I’ve joined a different gym, which I’m hoping I’ll go too way more often than the one I was at before.  I did pretty good before we went on holidays…..had no choice really because I had to get myself into some sort of reasonable shape to do the bike ride.  But after I came back……..hmmmm.

My friend Brenda also joined the same gym.  She is much more motivated than me so I’m hoping that rubs off…..having someone to go with makes it a bit more fun too.  This gym is one of those big nationwide places.  It’s just opened in the last few months and of course is offering to waive certain fees so I thought I might as well take advantage of that.   I can walk to this place from my house…..I probably won’t though, at least not if it’s cold or raining.

All summer I seem to keep myself way more active….all those outside jobs, whereas come winter you just want to cocoon yourself or hibernate (with a bowl of soup!).  At this age I’m not so worried about being all “buffed up” but just need to get into some reasonable shape….it’s the “heart health” that needs to be considered….and that type II diabetes that seems to creep up on people when then get to this age. This gym also offers tons of classes (all included)…..spinning, zumba, yoga (hot and normal) etc., monthly weight/fat measuring, meal planning and help from a personal trainer (for a fee!). So maybe, just maybe….I can get myself into a pattern or routine of going at least three times a week and maybe even hitting one of two of those classes they offer.

I hesitated to move to this gym just because it sort of has that reputation of being for all those muscle men…..you know the ones that grunt and groan lifting a 1000 pounds.  There are a few of them but luckily this place is huge and has a bunch of different areas that you can work out in.  I find in the mornings 90% of the people there are women of all ages and sizes.  They even have a womens only area if you’re not comfortable in the main parts of the gym.  Tomorrow I go for my orientation and setting up my plan of attack to get fitter……

My daughter has lost a ton of weight over the last couple of years and she’s done an excellent job of keeping it off.  She still manages to eat junk and fast food but also eats pretty healthy, limited fat and certain carbs etc.  When she gets on one of her healthy eating kicks it help me too.  It doesn’t last but I figure it’s at least helped….we’ll work on that too!

The other night we had “BLT’s without bread!  We added cheese, so not sure we saved a lot calorie wise but they were really good and along with some beans (protein….probably not the good kind but oh well) we had a great dinner that was surprisingly satisfiying and filling!

IMG_2597

The lettuce leaves are the bread….a bit of mayo and salt and people (lol….) pepper and you’re good to go!

 

We won’t even talk about what we ate the next few days…..one day at a time, one step at a time.

Sechelt friends are here for a couple of days so off to do fun things this afternoon and dinner at one of their favorite Chinese restaurants later.

L.

And On To Burgundy!

Up bright and early to catch our train(s) to Beaune, France.  Had time to grab a coffee and croissant from the hotel continental breakfast and that was it.

Arrived at Milan Centrale to find out that our train had had a schedule change!!  On Sundays sometimes they will add an additional stop or two…..and that is what they did on this Sunday!!  All this meant that our train arrived in Lausanne Switzerland exactly 1 minute after our connecting train to Dijon left!

It was a very picturesque train ride….beautiful countryside.  Unfortunately all the pics were out the train windows!!  The area coming into Lausanne, which is on the shores of Lake Geneva was lovely.

In Lausanne the lady at the ticket counter was very helpful in getting us on the next train….4.5 hours later!!  She also exchanged some Euros for us so we could have lunch and get a locker for our bags.  20 Euros equated to 18SF.  The locker supposedly held two large cases….it did, eventually!  Brenda had much more patience and perseverance that me.  After quite a struggle we did manage to get them in and then the stupid thing promptly ate 9 of our precious Swiss francs!  Of course the door wouldn’t lock….argh.  I waited there while Brenda went in search of some assistance….it was lunch time and the people in charge of the lockers wouldn’t be back until 2!  We hauled them back out and found a place at the station for lunch.  A bit of a shock costwise after Italy…..for a mear 14SF’s you got a Panini and a drink….that would have cost about 5 or 6 Euros in Italy.  I’m sure it would have been cheaper had we wandered a bit further but weren’t going to do that rolling our bags along.  Oh well…..Switzerland, from what we seen of it, appears to be an expensive place to visit….but very beautiful!

Finally just after 4:30 we were on our way to Dijon.  I had been through the station there once many years ago and seem to recall it being busy but not as confusing as it was….some construction which included elevators that weren’t working.  Lots of stairs to go up and down with our very heavy suitcases before sorting out which track our train to Beaune was going to be on.

Arrived in Beaune just after 6.  No taxis to be seen anywhere so a quick call, again….I’d already called to let them know we’d be a few hours late….they sent one for us.

Beautiful and very typical quaint French country style of hotel with a very helpful lady at the desk.  Our bike person arrived to give us the orientation and all the maps and other information for our self-guided bike tour and to introduce us to our bikes!!  A quick little tour around the parking lot to make sure the seats etc. were all good we were all set.

A walk down the road to one of the few restaurants that was open on a Sunday night was enough for one day.  The waiter was not the most pleasant person but the food and wine was good, which is really all that was important.  This was our first of two nights in Beaune so thought we’d save any wandering and touristy stuff for the next afternoon when the town was alive again.

Tomorrow was going to be our first bike adventure…..a loop route through some of the vineyards!  I’ll summarize our week long biking adventures in the next post….

L.

 

 

Re-usable Grocery Bags….

IMG_2592

I have a lot of them…..do I remember to take them with me when I go shopping????  Most of the time NO.  Besides the ones above I have at least 3 or 4 in my car….which I also never remember to take in.  I do have good intentions though and grab one as I’m going out the door when I’m going shopping….unfortunately it just gets added to the ones already in the car.  Once a month or so I bring them all back in the house and try the whole process over again the next few times I go.

Finally last night while having one of my tossing and turning moments, I came up with a brainwave idea on how to make use of some of them.

Does anyone else’s freezer look like this?

IMG_2593

It’s been a while since I cleaned it out….goodness only knows what I’ll find on the bottom!!

 

My plan was to get a new one….an upright one that you don’t have to unload and root through to find the one thing you are looking for.  I’m just not sure where I’d put an upright one.  The one I have is a good size for me and it fits nicely right under the window in the garage.  I clean it out once a year or so and it’s always fun and exciting (not!!) to find those prawns or package of ground beef….dated from the prior year or two…. or a lone freezie/popsicle on the bottom….and then there are the buns and loaves of bread….all put there with the good intention of actually using them one day….maybe for bread crumbs or stuffing or ?????

I have these hooks, which I love….they’re everywhere…..all different sizes.  Behind doors, in my laundry room, in my ensuite bathroom….stuck around the side of the vanity which is where I hang my necklaces.  Anyway they are handy dandy things to have around.

IMG_2594

SO…..I am going to attach them to the inside of my freezer, then hang a bag on it.  There will be one bag for beef, one for pork, one for chicken, one for fish and if I have enough room one for frozen veg and other miscellaneous stuff (like those bacon wrapped scallops I’d forgotten about that I found lurking on the bottom!).

I will have to defrost it or chisel away at some of the built up frost first but this is a project for the next couple of rainy days to keep me busy.

This all sort of started last night when I’d gone looking for the prawns that I needed for dinner…..after pretty much emptying the entire freezer (and a few choice curse words….) to find them…I thought I really had to deal with this.  So much food either ends up getting wasted, or tasting (and looking) freezer burnt, it’s crazy.  What to do, what to do…..obviously my mind was working last night when the brainwave came to me.  And possibly because I went grocery shopping and again did not take in my re-usable bags and came home for another 5 or 6 plastic ones….they do get used for kitty litter, so not a waste, I guess.

Dinner last night was yummy again….two nights in a row!!  Simple pasta tossed in butter/olive oil that herbs and garlic had been sauted in, with some diced tomato and a handful or two of spinach all topped with some fresh parm cheese!

IMG_2591

Found this recipe on a weight watchers site….meals that are 7 points or less.  That doesn’t include the prawns or the cheese!

Tonight will be different.  My daughter has a dentist appointment after work and won’t be home for dinner….hmmmm.

 

L.

A Blustery Day!

IMG_2589Fall has definitely arrived!!

Last night and this morning it poured buckets…..and the wind!!  This morning it was so dark and blustery that the streetlights came back on!  With the wind the rain was coming in sheets.  Lots of seagulls around which is supposed to mean that it’s stormy at sea….thank goodness I’m not heading out on a ferry today!!

Now a couple hours later it’s still blustery but bright and sunny….if only every fall day was like it is now…..I’d be very happy!

I think this is my least favorite time of year.   Only because the weather is so unpredictable…..that said I live on the “wet” coast so we certainly expect rain but you just don’t know from one day to the next what it’s going to be like.  The temps can fluctuate like crazy too…..hat, coat, boots and umbrella one minute and the next you’re peeling off the layers because it’s warm and sunny.   I know, I know…..the pretty fall colours and all that, which I do like, I just wish we had more rainless days to get out and enjoy them.

And of course the leaves……ack!!  Millions of them from my maple tree.  I quite enjoy getting out and raking them….if it’s not raining.  It’s a fun thing to do when the kids come over on the weekends.  I have enough leaves to keep them busy for many, many weekends!!

I always find dark, dull days a little depressing…..and any motivation I have disappears.  But it is what it is and you just have to make the best of it.

I’ve just finished reading a great Conde Naste article about the Greek Islands…..I’ve been to a few of them but so many more to see one day.  It also made me really miss summer!  Our last big trip together was to Greece.  It had been on our bucket list since we got married many eons ago.  I love it there…..we did Athens and then spent 2+ more weeks island hopping.  What a great way to experience all that Greece has to offer.  Each island and their towns was a bit different.   And the food!!  All really good and so reasonably priced….except maybe for Rhodes and Santorini.  But even there we were able to find some little out of the way places that were good and lots of fun.  Through the day those two islands are inundated with cruise ship passengers…..lots of them!  One day on Santorini there were 7 cruise ships in port!!  We’d watch them sail in and then decide whether it was going to be an out and about day or one that we just spent by the pool.

Our Greece trip is one that needs to go into an album.  I know photo albums seem to be a little bit redundant these days but really….who actually sits down after the fact and looks back on their vacation pictures?  My grandkids like looking at the albums….for a while at least.  It also makes them ask questions…..who is that, where is this, what is that, when were you there etc.  They’d never sit long enough to look at them on the laptop….so this at least piques their interest.

Maybe today I’ll get around to doing another album.  I used to be really good at getting right on this after our holidays but for whatever reason for a number of them I just never had the time to sit down and get it done.  I have all the pics either on CD’s for USB’s so will have to go through them and decide which ones to get printed…..thank goodness there are still places to do that!  I know some of these trips are from quite a few years ago but maybe I’ll get my journals out and relive them in a post of two!

Last night for dinner I made Mongolian Beef!  https://therecipecritic.com/2015/08/slow-cooker-mongolian-beef/  OMG….it was absolutely delicious!!  Definitely one to make again.  Easy to make in the crockpot and a good dinner for fall or winter.  I should have taken pictures….it looked just like it did in the recipe.  Tonight it’s pasta of some sort…..I am very happy that my daughter lives here now otherwise I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be making stuff like this unless I was having company.  Even after almost 4 years I’m still challenged by cooking for one!

I’m heading out now while the sun is shining…..

L.