Monday, February 28, 2011

Palms, People, Paradise

My family has been travelling to Palm Springs since I was a little girl and I used to have a love/hate relationship with it. Now I absolutely love it and have learned to relax and just enjoy 'being' while on holidays.

Brooke told me she wanted to go away and my mom was already in Palm Springs, so I decided it would be fun to join her there and check out Disneyland at the end of the trip (since I am becoming quite the expert).

I love love love the palm trees. Contrasted with blue skies. Watching it transports me to some marvelous paradise, just knowing it will be wonderful and warm outside and that all is well.

The place we stayed had a bunch of different pools so it was fun to check out different ones each day. Read 6 books as well which is always a bonus. Good to get a dent in the book reading. :)

I actually didn't take any pictures during our week there. Well, except for the ones posted here. But they were all taken in a ten minute span and then ten more minutes at the night market one night.

We stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies from the market and feasted to our heart's content. On Valentine's, we even made our own gourmet dinner (we figured the restaurants would be way too busy).

In the mornings and evenings, we enjoyed some intermittent wogging.

All in all, it was a wonderful balanced holiday. Good time to relax, get some good swimming in, go out to some of my fave restaurants down there and just take in the beauty of the mountains and palm trees and greenness that are present in the middle of the desert. Oh, and the shopping as well.

Not a huge shopper, but we went to the outlets and I got some killer deals on a snowjacket, snowpants and a rainjacket from Columbia. 80 bucks all together. Always nice when you can get an originally priced snowjacket (210 dollars) for 30 bucks. So now I feel a little more prepared for winters in Quebec!

And of course, my mom and i had to have an awesome photo shoot. Because she's awesome and so am I. And that makes our photos awesome.

And no visit with brooke is complete without her stealing my camera and taking self-portraits. :)

One night we also went over to my friend Kristen's place. We went to uni together and she's doing her masters in Cali. It was so wonderful to see her again and to connect. She made us a super tasty dinner and we watched the Canucks win. Wooh!

And Palm Springs wouldn't be Palm Springs without the markets. Usually you always see someone you know from back home (saw a few people we knew and had dinner with a couple of them!) I love walking around and looking at all the crazy homemade stuff that's pretty creative. And seeing all the older women whose skin is the darkest shade of brown amongst the wrinkles from far too much sun exposure.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip and just fun to hang out together. Oh and my mom and I got obsessed with Yahtzee and probably played at least 100 games... Probably won't have the chance to go to Palm Springs again soon, but I definitely enjoyed the visit this time around!

Next stop: Disneyland!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cafe, Casserole, Casting

A trip to Seattle is never complete without visiting the giant troll under the bridge. You have to get permission to go over the bridge, right?

Anyone ever watched the show, "Drive-ins, Diners and Dives"? Guy Fieri is the host and he goes to these different places all across the States and does shows on them. So Brooke and I decided to check some out.

First stop: Voula's Offshore Cafe. I think our first mistake was not being entirely hungry, but it closes at 3pm, so we had to fit it in. Our second mistake was not actually ordering what Guy Fieri suggests because we didn't feel like eating breakfast.

But it was a quaint inside and the people who worked there were very friendly. You could tell that most of the clientele was local, because everybody knew everyone and they just came in to grab a big delicious breakfast and be on their merry way.

We didn't order breakfast though. We ordered tuna casserole (it was on special, don't ask me why we ordered it) and fries and a shake.

The shake was the best part. The rest: not so great. Once again, I think we ordered the wrong thing because this place specializes in breakfasts. It's kind of like ordering a hamburger at a Chinese place.. most likely it won't be that great.

But we had fun and feel like we branched out a bit. One day we will return and redeem our experience. In the meantime, if you're ever in Everett or Seattle (or any other US city), look up which restaurants are there and check them out! They are often diamonds hidden in the rough that you'd never think to eat at!

In the evening, we went to a musical called 'Rock of Ages', which is a mix of all different rock songs into a musical (kind of the same idea as Mamma Mia). It was very well done. And the casting was awesome-everyone fit their part perfectly.

And so ended our day trip to Seattle!! After the musical, we drove to a hotel in Bellingham where we stayed the night before our flight in the morning! And if you're ever flying out of Bellingham, you can get a great deal for the night and parking for up to 10 days at the Hampton Inn. Check it out.

Next stop: Palm Springs!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Birds, Besties, Belgian

A good way to know that you stockpile things is when the onion you bought a few months ago has a growth off of it that is longer than itself. And it is full of mold. But hey, at least I enjoyed the growth spurt the onion had before disposing of it...

Since January I have only been home an average of three days at a time. But I have loved every one of those days at home and have been blessed to be able to connect with some wonderful friends during those times.

Before heading to Palm Springs, Destinye and I were able to hang out. She's one of my main friends from when I worked at Starbucks. We used to have sleepovers on nights when we both had to work at 4am (dumb idea) and she also rocks Dance Dance Revolution with me. We're pretty much awesome like that. Anyway, I appreciate her a lot and that even if we haven't seen each other in a month, it's like we saw each other yesterday. I always leave encouraged and inspired by what she's been doing and learning in life.

I also got to head to Vancouver to spend the day with one of my long time besties, Sandy. She's someone I can tell absolutely anything to and I think she knows me better than most people.

We had lunch at one of her favourite restaurants, complete with little mini Belgian waffles and hot chocolate.

And then we just walked around Vancouver enjoying each other's company and having some good convos. Also, Sandy sometimes gets really excited about stuff (which I love) and she will randomly yell the names of stores she sees... So we enjoy reenacting previous times when she's done so.

We even stopped at Robson Rink to enjoy the skating. :)

And pondered as to why koalas need instructions on how to change their young.

And BEST yet: we found the GIANT birds in downtown Vancouver. I didn't know they existed, but they make me happy!!

YAY for GIANT birds!! (go check them out, they're pretty awesome)

My favorite moment was when some girl offered to take our photo in front of the bird. She took the pic, looked at it, proclaimed "that's an awesome photo" and then took off. Um.. she cut the bird's head off... Maybe she didn't notice? Maybe she was far too dazzled with us that she was distracted? Maybe she did it on purpose. So maybe from now on when I take pictures of people for them, I will cut off their heads or take pictures of other objects instead of them. Well, probably not, but something to think about.

Oh how I love my birds! And Vancouver! And my delightful friends!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lettuce, Latest, L'Hiver

Today I arrived back in Canada to SNOW!!! Truth be told, it wasn't snowing in the States, but as soon as I crossed the border, it was snowing. Guess that goes along with the fact that it's probably ten million times more cold here in the winter with our igloos and all.

I love snow. But now when I've just finished a week in intense heat. And then I remember that although I LOVE winter in BC, this is my last winter in BC for some time, so I need to appreciate the fact that it is a little (actually a lot) milder than what I will be experiencing next winter!

Anyway, had a delightful time away. Hope you enjoyed the blog posts while I was gone. Did some scheduled posting to make it seem like I'm an avid blogger.. hope it worked.

Just a shout out to say hi and perhaps soon and very soon I shall have some exciting photos of the latest posted!!

Have you ever eaten at the Cheesecake Factory? They don't just have cheesecake as the title might suggest, but they have the most expansive and varied menu ever. Anyway, their lettuce wraps are AMAZING. Probably my favourite thing on the menu. Every time I have them, I always say the classic "man, i should make these sometime". So to avoid having to cook, I turned to my mom and said "Mom, you should make these sometime for a family dinner."

And WHAM, tonight it happened, a mere few days after the suggestion occurred. And they were awesome. Lettuce wraps and a night with my family (not to mention my absolutely adorable niece and nephew) makes for a delightful evening indeed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Land, Lindie, Laughter

After a delightful and full 24 hours at home, I met my friends, Jenn and Lindie from Calgary at the Vancouver airport. The flight down to LA is nice and short and we saw the most stunning sunset.

Do you ever have those sunsets that you just have to keep looking out the window and have to perpetually stare at it, because it's so beautiful that you wonder if it's actually real. This was one of those. I kept glancing and staring in awe of the beauty of God's creation. Finally I had to go snap a quick photo because sunsets and sunrises from planes are generally pretty spectacular, and this one was no exception.

First stop: Downtown Disney. Dinner at The Rainforest Cafe. Love it. It is literally like a jungle in there. There are gorillas, elephants, massive fish tanks. Every 20 minutes there is a thunderstorm and all the animals start going wild and it rains in certain spots. We sat by the waterfall, so listening to the sounds of falling water while having dinner surrounded by greenery was simply delightful.

One of my favorite rides is the Jungle Cruise (okay, I admit, I have about 20 favorite rides.. but all for different reasons!). Sometimes you get a horrible guide and it sucks, but when you have a good guide it's a lot of fun. :)

And some how there was a slit of light shining on the river perfectly and it looked beautiful and I was transported somehow to a tropical jungle somewhere. I think that's what I love about Disneyland-it's like you're in an entirely different world and you can be fully present there and enjoy every second of your visit and all other worries and cares seem to melt away.

Jenn, Lindie and I have been friends since our time in Quebec together. The summer I was on staff at Capernwray, Jenn, Lindie and I were all staff and lived together in a little house we endearingly called 'Le Chalet'. It was such a fun summer, despite challenges along the way, but it was wonderful to live together and get to know one another and I'm so thankful for their friendships and the fact that we can keep in touch even though we don't live in the same province! And how fun to all take a trip together as well! I love having friends you can just pick up with and that you can be yourself completely.

And Lindie's new thing, as I discovered on her last visit, is kissing everything. So on Triton's carousel, it was no different. Of course, the animal I picked to ride was at its high point, so I had to hike up the thing to get on, but it was worth it for the incredibly fast paced, crazy ride it was. Okay, it's a carousel, it wasn't that fast. But still fun.

Toy Story 3. Love.

Ferris Wheel. Dumb Ride. Although gives you a nice view.

California Adventure Rollercoaster. Awesome Ride.

Smile while you scream. It's a given. Then again, I seem to just laugh and giggle hysterically on any ride I'm on...

Grizzly River Run. Fun. Until your entire backside gets soaked and you get stuck a metre away from the exit for 10 minutes while the ride is broken down. But still fun. :)

Hollywood Tower of Terror. How could you not love a ride where your butt comes flying off the seat as the elevator shaft falls at rapid rates?

And Stitch. Lindie gave me her camera and went to the bathroom. I thought she just wanted me to hold it. Oops. Turned out she wanted a picture.

Mickey's Dance Party. I probably should have jumped up on stage because I have some pretty awesome moves, but I held back. Besides, watching all the kids jumping around and dancing is pretty awesome as well.

Disneyland at Night. Fantastic.

Breakfast every morning right outside Disneyland was great too. Fed the birds (even though they wouldn't come land on my stretched out hand) and got our sustenance for a day full of walking.

Love this sign. It sums up all my wonderful fuzzy feelings of Disneyland and as I pass under it, I just know I will have a delightful day of adventure and discovery and fun.

Since Mickey and I are pretty tight, I decided to opt out of the full body shot and we took a self-portrait instead.

Misty joined us on the Saturday which was a lot of fun to see her again and have some good laughs.

Here Jenn, Lindie and Misty are demonstrating how to lift your arms on a rollercoaster without getting them cut off by the tunnels you are going through. Lindie tried to hide her terror but it's written all over her face.

Hands up! For some reason, for the rest of the day, the hands up thing was hilarious. You probably had to be there though.

Big Thunder Mountain Railway. Love this ride. Love love love. As in, I could keep going on it multiple times because I love it so.

And they were celebrating the lunar new year so there were a lot of festivities going on and dancers and ribbon dances and everything. It was fun.

Finding Nemo Submarine!

Space Mountain. Also Love. (but you probably could have guessed that).

Monorail. We talked about it the entire time and finally took it to go back to the room for a kettle popcorn break and to put on some pants. For some reason this ride was hilariously funny. Once again, the hilarity would probably require your presence.

All day, we saw the Jedi Training happening about five different times. Never seen Star Wars nor do I plan to so I thought it was kind of silly. But when we walked by in the evening, it was a band, so we decided to go right on in and start dancing. Okay, Lindie just stood there mostly laughing at me, but I danced.

Indiana Jones. I dont' know why we let Misty drive the jeep... but at least we got out of there alive.

Lindie kissing her ice cream that we took about 30 minutes to find. I think it was worth it for her though. :)

Walking through Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

All in all, a fantastic time at Disneyland. And by the time this post posts itself, I will probably be in Disneyland again. Enjoy the weekend!