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Archive for the ‘Life List’ Category

It’s been cold and snowy in my neck of the woods lately. BUT – since it’s time to plan for my spring/summer garden, I’ve been having fun buying seeds and planning out what I’ll be growing and where, focusing on when the temps will be warm again. It’ll come quickly and I want to be prepared. 🙂

Without further ado, below is my square foot garden plan layout for this year – click on it to make it larger.

I will still do my usual plantings (albeit different kinds) of cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, lettuce, beans and carrots. Oh, and french marigolds to repel the bugs. I’ll be trying some new crops this year: cucumbers, zucchini, garlic (already planted this past fall), snap peas and blueberries. Plus, to assist with my life list item to make my own tea, I’ll be planting chamomile, lemon balm and mint (the mint in its own pot because it can be invasive). I’ll be getting a dehydrator to help with that task as well.

I did all my research and bought all the seeds this morning. I’ll be picking up blueberry plants closer to planting time and I think I’ll plant a couple of other types of basil in 2 of the squares for variety. The purple basils have caught my eye – imagine what a pesto made with purple basil would look like – stunning!

My plan is to cover the entire blueberry 4×4 bed with netting to protect them from the birds. For the basil, I’ll keep some for pesto and dry the rest for cooking. Same for the parsley – I’ll use some fresh and dry the rest. I’ll dry the chamomile, lemon balm and some of the mint to make tea (my favorite tea has all of those elements in it :)). Plus, gotta save some mint for the mojitos.

I love growing my own food and walking out into the yard to pick ingredients for meals – nothing tastes better than tomatoes warmed by the sun or a fresh picked carrot – it’s incredible how different (and better!) things taste compared to the store. I also enjoy babysitting my plants and keeping an eye out for them, trimming here, watering there, picking off pests (Japanese beetles, I’m looking at you). It’s incredibly relaxing, fulfilling and the bigger jobs provide a good workout too. Weeds are few with the square foot garden method because the “good” plants take up all the space and don’t leave any room for the weeds. It’s fabulous.

Here is my list of seeds so far:

  • Red small tomato: Stupice (stoo-pee-chay)
  • Red cherry tomato: Matt’s Wild Red Cherry
  • Yellow cherry tomato: Lemon Drop
  • Yellow cherry tomato: Champagne (Loved these last year – so much sweet flavor in such a tiny package – they’re like a half inch in diameter)
  • Black cherry tomato: Black Cherry
  • Basil: Genovese  (gold standard in basil – amazing for pesto)
  • Basil: TBD – One of the purple varieties
  • Cucumbers: Muncher
  • Zucchini: Green Zucchini
  • Garlic: Red Russian
  • Beans: Yellow Golden Wax (Bush)
  • Peas: Patio Pride
  • Carrots: Nantes
  • Lettuce: Red Salad Bowl
  • Lettuce: Buttercrunch
  • Chamomile: Bodegold
  • Marigolds: French
  • Mint:: Menthol
  • Lemon Balm

 

I am doing my happy dance!!! 🙂

2016 Garden flashback:

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2018: A Look Ahead

I reviewed my Life List and did my usual annual updates: I removed items that are no longer of interest and added in some new ones. It’s funny to see what items I added in the past (what was I thinking?!) and seeing new interests come up (how was this not on the list??).

We’ve already booked our trip for next year (Cruise to Greek Isles leaving from Venice, with stops in Santorini, Mykonos, Dubrovnik and Montenegro), so there are a few travel-related items I’ll be able to cross off.

Here is the list of things I’m aiming to tackle in 2018:

  • Celebrate 15 year anniversary (Woohoo!)
  • Visit Santorini, Greece
  • Visit Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • See King’s Landing, Croatia (where they filmed part of Game of Thrones)
  • Visit Venice, Italy
  • Visit St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy
  • Travel to 50 countries – will increase this by 2 (Croatia, Montenegro) to 22 (28 to go!)
  • Take 10 cruises – will increase this to 9 total (1 to go!)
  • Take a cruise in Europe
  • Make a craft for every season or holiday for 1 year
  • Make fresh pasta
  • Make my own herbal tea
  • Make a candle

And my usual movie, book and cooking challenges for 2018:

  • Watch 50 movies
  • Read 20 books
  • Cook 30 new recipes

Here are some of my updates:

Added:

  • Travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia – I’ve heard and seen a lot about it and am looking forward to seeing the old town and walled city.
  • See King’s Landing – Big fan of GOT and since I’ll be there anyway, it makes sense to stop and take a peek!
  • Travel to Venice, Italy
  • See St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice
  • Make a drip painting: It’s a technique that’s gaining in popularity and it looks pretty awesome. I can do it.
  • Visit Provence, France
  • Visit Carcassonne, France
  • Make my own herbal tea (I grow herbs, I like tea, I want to try to make my own)
  • Stay in a yurt – it would be fun!
  • Stay in a cabin or lodge in the woods
  • Take a train trip (e.g. The Rocky Mountaineer)
  • Visit Iceland
  • Hike in Algonquin Park

Removed:

  • Travel to Egypt
  • See the Pyramids
  • Wine tour in Napa or Sonoma
  • Tour a chocolate factory
  • Have a near death experience
  • Go fishing

 

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It’s that time of year already! I get to look back to see what I was able to accomplish on my Life List. Most of the items were related to our trip to Italy and I also managed to complete a few others:

  • Travel to Italy
  • See the Sistine Chapel, Italy
  • See the Colosseum, Italy
  • Travel to Tuscany, Italy
  • Enjoy pasta and wine in Italy
  • Take a train in Europe
  • Eat pizza in Italy
  • Have gelato in Italy
  • Travel to 50 countries (increased by 2 for Italy and The Vatican: 20 done, 30 to go)
  • Have a proper English tea: We went to the King Edward and it was a fabulous splurge
  • Participate in an Escape Room: I was with colleagues in Ottawa and we had a fun time trying to escape – we almost made it!!
  • Cook a whole fish: I don’t know why I had never done this before but I finally tackled it. Not a fan of all the little bones, but it was tasty!

For my annual book, movie and cooking challenges, I did pretty good:

  • Watch 50 movies in 2017: I’m currently at 57. Overshot this one very nicely! 🙂
  • Read 30 books in 2017: I’m currently reading #17. Not stellar and it’s not because I selected really big novels either. I’ve just been doing other things (watching movies apparently!). May have to reduce this next year to be realistic.
  • Cook 30 new recipes in 2017: I’m currently at 27 with a few days to go. It might happen.

My list is now at 310 completed of 441 total.

Next up: Revising the list and planning next year’s To Do’s!

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Our recent trip to Italy (first of several posts here) gave me the opportunity to tackle a bunch of life list items in one go. I’ve been able to cross off the following, mostly travel and food-related ones this time – the best kind :)):

  • Travel to Italy
  • See the Sistine Chapel, Italy
  • See the Colosseum, Italy
  • Travel to Tuscany, Italy
  • Enjoy pasta and wine in Italy
  • Take a train in Europe
  • Eat pizza in Italy
  • Have gelato in Italy

I also upped the count for this one:

  • Travel to 50 countries (19 done, 31 to go)

I’ll be able to knock off a couple more on our next trip which has already been booked for next year (more on that in a future post!).

This brings the Life List total to 309 items completed of 441 total.

🙂

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Colosseum

We’ve been planning our trip to Italy for a couple of months or so now and will be visiting Rome and Florence in the fall, with day trips to Naples/Pompei (from Rome) and Siena/San Gimignano/Chianti/Monteriggioni (from Florence).

We’ll be in Italy for 11 days, which is the sweet spot for Chris and I – we start getting antsy for home at around the ten-day mark – don’t ask me why.

Below is our itinerary and as most Europe flights from North America, we’ll be taking an overnight flight which has us landing in Rome midday local time. I’m unable to sleep on a plane but try to stay awake until night-time (local time) to adjust to local time as quickly as possible.

We’ve booked our hotels, as well as the tours linked below. We’ll be buying the Roma Pass (unlimited public transportation and free entry to 2 museums) and the Firenze card (free entry to museums).

  • Day 1: Arrive in Rome: Walk/Explore, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps.
  • Day 2:
    • AM: Vatican tour (skip the line)  for Vatican museums, St. Peter’s and Sistine Chapel
    • PM: Castel Sant’Angelo
    • 5:30pm: Roman Food Tour – progressive tour that stops in various spots in Rome for food and wine tastings.
  • Day 3: Day trip to Naples and Pompei – tour
  • Day 4:
    • AM: Ancient Rome and Colosseum tour (skip the line/beat the crowds)
    • PM: Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini (with all the “old” stuff planned, this looked like a cool option for something different – it combines ruins with virtual recreation to show what a roman villa would have looked like, as well as a basilica and WW2 bunker).
  • Day 5:
    • Rome to Florence by train
    • AM: Accademia museum
    • PM: Santa Maria Novella church and museum
  • Day 6:
    • AM: Duomo, Baptistery, Campanile (Bell Tower)
    • PM: Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens (probably have lunch in the gardens)
  • Day 7: Day trip to Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti (lunch at Tuscan winery), Monteriggioni midieval fortress
  • Day 8:
    • AM: UIffizi Gallery
    • PM: Palazzo Vecchio, Mercato del Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Trinita, Loggia del Lanzi, Santa Croce
  • Day 9: Free time in Florence for shopping, exploring, and visiting anything we ran out of time (or energy) to visit previously.
  • Day 10: Free time in Florence
  • Day 11: Depart

So excited to see the art and ruins, eat amazing food, drink fabulous wine and get lost in the side streets of Roma and Firenze. Ciao!! 🙂

 

 

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I’d had this on my Life List for a while now and after a false start last year we finally managed to go this afternoon for an early Valentine’s Day outing. It was worth the wait. 🙂

king-edward

We arrived at the Omni King Edward hotel – took the train to downtown Toronto and walked a few blocks up to the hotel in the snow. We were greeted, shown to the coat check (complimentary), waited just a few minutes for the setup/room to be ready and were seated at a lovely table.

We were offered menus and tea boxes to sniff the various teas available. I selected the Rouge Provence (rooibos) and Chris took the Taj Spiced Chai Tea. We were each brought an amuse bouche – a yummy mushroom tartlet with tarragon creme fraiche, quickly followed by our respective teapots. Both the tartlet and the tea were delicious.

We each chose the Winter Tea which included sandwiches, scones and pastries. The sandwiches were brought first and everything was fresh and tasty:

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We each had our own plate with 5 finger sandwiches:

  • Peppered Beef with Watercress and Horseradish Cream
  • Free Range Egg Salad with Fresh Lemon and Dill
  • Smoked Salmon & Mango with Pickled Vegetables
  • Toasted Sesame & Wasabi Mayonnaise Chickpea Hummus with Lightly Curried Carrot, Raisins & Almonds
  • Chicken Waldorf with Crisp Apple & Celery

Delicious.

Next came the scones and pastries. It looked so good – I forgot to take a pic before we ate the scones! The scones came on the bottom plate (we each had 2 kinds):

img_20170212_151223

  • Currant & Cinnamon Scone
  • Classic Cream Scone
  • Served with Devonshire Cream, House Made Ontario Strawberry Jam and Apple Brandy Butter

Again, everything was fresh and tasted amazing. But there was more!

The pastries were next:

  • Blood Orange Posset with Cranberry Oat Biscotti
  • Chocolate Mint Macaron
  • Vanilla Bean & Berry Cream Tartlet
  • Layered Chocolate Chestnut Slice

It was just the right amount of food and each item was carefully prepared. Our server was polite and friendly and we were well taken care of throughout. It was a beautiful room and a very relaxed atmosphere.

It was a very enjoyable experience, one we would do again.

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