Brrrr…It’s Cold in Here….

14 01 2013

Here I thought we were heading to the warmth of the desert in Parker (Lake Havasu City), AZ.  Well there’s definitely sunshine, but where’s the warm kiss of the sunshine on my face?  Highs of 45 degrees and Lows of 25 degrees?  What is that all about????

The orange tree that we just planted is struggling.  It may actually be holding onto dear life as it shivers in the wind at night.  We’ve done our best by putting blankets over it and taping cardboard around its trunk when the sun goes down – hey it’s definitely not pretty, but hopefully it’s providing some protection.

And with all the buzz about the flu epidemic?  Well, this part of the desert has not been exempt.  I think everyone I have come in contact with the last few weeks has been hacking away and by some miracle, despite the fact that the three other people in my household have taken their turn as a self-designated ‘sickie’,  (Well, maybe not so much as self designated, but that’s what I’ve been calling them), I have still remained unscathed.  I like to think it’s because of my superhuman immune system and strength of mind, but who we kidding, I’m usually the first one sick and give in to it like a little baby. So, I guess I have to thank the round of immunizations that I had to have during the process of getting my green card.  I resisted them at first, but looks like I won out in the end.

Well I can’t say I have any advice for dealing with the cold temperatures (besides looking at the views from inside the cocoon of warm blankets while sitting by the fire) or battling the germs in the area other than unexpectantly planning ahead with a full round of vaccinations.  But I do recommend healthy doses of Vitamin C and if you’re ever in the area of Mesa, AZ, you’ve got to stop by B & B Citrus Farm, because they have got some tasty fruit on their trees!

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California’s Bread Basket

24 07 2010

Driving through all of the windy roads (away from the coast) in California really opened my eyes up to the different terrain in sunny California.  Here I thought it was all palm trees, sandy beaches and celebrity sightings.   Turns out there’s not much of anything shiny and sparkly away from the water.

But, I do have to admit, I spent a good amount of time with my nose pressed up to the window looking at the scenery.  I’m thinking back to one particular time when a truck with 2 trailers of lemons passed by.  Only in California.  That was the first of many trucks full of lemons, garlic, and onions.  And then there were the trucks full of some sort of red produce.  We watched as truck after truck passed by us.  First we thought cherries. Then strawberries.  Then red onion.  We finally decided that they were ‘not yet ripe tomatoes’.  That’s our final answer.

Then there was the time I was looking at the farm animals:  bulls, cows, horses, mini horses…or baby horses….or ponies, and then all of a sudden, GOOOOOAAAAAATTTTT.  Don’t ask me why I was so excited.  I don’t even think I was, it just came out in this mournful, longing tone.

I was pretty impressed with the variety of scenery.  We saw the infamous California Sand Dunes – it was a quick stop though since it was 112 degrees outside.

And then on our drive through the California breadbasket we saw all of the crops, fruit trees, grape vines, etc.  And all of a sudden it started smelling very savoury, like it was dinner time.  I opened the window and the smell of garlic hit me in the face.  We were in the midst of the garlic fields and the home of Gilroy Garlic.

And where there are fruit trees there are fruit stands.  We just so happened to stop at the most elaborate one there – Casa de Fruta it’s seriously a little village now:  complete with restaurant, winery and deli, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nut and chocolate stand.

Yes.  Those are chocolates that look like martini green olives.

And…..there was an area to pan for gold!  Did I mention I used to have a rock collection?  Let’s just say I could have stayed there for a lot longer if someone hadn’t pulled me away.  I did find a little crystal point and what I swear is a gold flake.

So although there were no celebrity sightings, it was still a pretty sight to see.





Bed & BREAKFAST

23 07 2010

We had the REAL B&B experience while we visited Hudson, NY last week.

The Croff House: a cute historical house with 5 suites, we stayed for 2 nights and most importantly, 2 breakfasts.  Mmmmm.

The first morning:  blueberry corn muffins, vanilla yogurt with fresh melon and candied ginger, the smoothest, fluffiest herb scrambled eggs, cajun home fries and bacon.

The second morning:  cheese popovers (my very first), vanilla yogurt with fresh plums and peaches, almond buttermilk pancakes with homemade fruit compote syrup and vanilla whipped cream.

Can you say delicious?  Who ever thought of a 3 course breakfast.  And I don’t even like scrambled eggs or pancakes, but this was fantastic!

We had to leave the B&B for dinners, but that didn’t stop us from finding some tasty treats.  We experienced some authentic swedish cooking with local ingredients – swedish meatballs at Daba.  And we ate dinner at Ca’Mae at their outdoor garden patio:  Charbroiled Wild Boar and Homemade Shrimp Linguine.





The Biltmore Estate

25 04 2010

It wasn’t until we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC (famous for being America’s largest home, the ancestral Vanderbilt family home and childhood home of Anderson Cooper) and I witnessed my very first lamb stampede did I realize that I am in love with lambs.  They’re just so cute.

As we drove through the windy farm roads that meandered through the first scientifically managed forest, we came across a field full of lambs and sheep.  I immediately jumped out of the car and only the electric fence could keep me away from running right up to them.  The sheep actually ‘baaaa’ and the lambs answer back ‘yeaaa’ as they run from one direction to another, up and down the hills.  The next day we were touring the estate again and I mentioned that we should just pass by the lambs, but I promised that I wouldn’t get out of the car.  As soon as we came up upon the field and I saw how close they were to the road…..ALL BETS WERE OFF…and I was out of that car while it was still rolling to a stop.  I mean seriously, how can you resist them?

Well, we did see other things besides the lambs while we were there.  We took one afternoon to tour the gardens.  Coincidentally, we arrived the day of the “Festival of the Flowers” and the walled garden was filled with thousands of tulips of all different colours.


After taking photos of every tulip at every different angle we followed the paths to the azalea garden.

After a little detour setting a bad example by running around in the grass, we headed down to the bass pond.

Not only did we find the perfect photo opportunity, but we came across an Asheville, NC local, that after finding out that I was Canadian (and from Vancouver to boot), thanked me for being Canadian because he enjoyed the Olympics, specifically the Opening Ceremonies, so much.  How cool is that?

Just slightly cooler than when we went to the children’s petting zoo and I found a ram with curly shaggy hair.  I put my head up next to his head and yelled out to Nathan to check out the similarity in our lustrous curly locks.  Note: there was a fence between our curly-headed locks.  The petting zoo also had a couple of goats, some odd-looking fancy chickens, one of which started scratching the ground like it was getting ready to charge at me, and these cute fuzzy baby chicks.  If I had had a camera I would have sent photos to a friend who has always mentioned that she wants to frolic with baby chicks.

And, just in case you thought we spent the entire time chasing the farmyard animals, here are some photos of the actual 200+ room, 5 story Biltmore House.





Good Ol’ Country Livin’

15 04 2010

Whenever I think of New York, I think of New York City and the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, thin crust pizza, unlimited wine at Wolfgang’s, specialty cupcakes, boating in Central Park and the swagger that everyone has in Brooklyn.

I DO NOT think of dilapidated barns, grazing cows, bleating goats or rolling green bluffs.  But, as we are back on the road and traveling in upstate New York and Pennsylvania, this is what we have.  It’s pretty cool to be out in the country – a whole different experience.

It’s been a nice change to explore all of these small towns (villages really) and take in the local flavour.

We’ve been eating in small town diners, although one flavour that we tasted that we probably won’t taste again….Scrapple.  What do you think of when you see “2 Eggs and Scrapple” or “A side of Scrapple” on the menu.  We sat at the table debating what this meant… ‘another word for a scrambler?’, or ‘maybe it’s saucy apples.  Scr-Apple?  Apples?  That makes sense right?’  The most country of our group told us that she didn’t think it had anything to do with apples or any other kind of fruit.  Well, she was right.  When we asked our server what Scrapple was she said, ‘Exactly what it sounds like.  The Scraps – all the parts of the pig that you can’t sell off, ground together and fried.  Cooked well done’.  Ohhh………

Well, we can say we tried it.  Check that off the list.

While we were in Pennsylvania we had the opportunity to stay at an Inn.  140 year old building.  8 rooms.  And a bone-in ribeye to die for.

To be honest, we were a bit wary of staying at an Inn.  Are there going to be shared bathrooms?  Do we have to sit at breakfast and dinner and introduce ourselves and stare at other people awkwardly while they’re looking at us looking at them?  Is there going to be Internet?

As we drove up to this quaint building, The BriMarie Inn   (www.thebrimarieinn.com) and walked into the house, we were pleasantly surprised and ended up extending our stay.  It felt like home.  I admit, I was nosy and explored all of the rooms that I could while we were there.  And we spent our evenings with a couple of drinks on the front patio and eating dinner in our own dining area drinking good wine and eating great food.  If you are ever in the Sayre, PA area, you definitely have to stop by.

Today we drove through the winding roads in none other than American Idol contestant Aaron Kelly’s home turf.  How do I know that?  Well, we saw signs everywhere.  How cool is that?